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  1. Onwards [Sci-Fi Nation FRP - RP]

    Now Selling Firstborn Cultural Replicas! Get Them While Stocks Last!! Firstborn City (Noun): An ancient edifice to a lost culture and power beyond imagination. Beyond priceless, the buildings have stood for millennia without disruption or calamity. Originally a place of meditation, it had a maximum population of about 23,000 before suddenly and inexplicably being abandoned. It was as if the whole town had simply stepped out and never come back. For an archaeologist, this place is a goldmine of history--an opportunity like no other to truly examine the mysterious forebears of all civilisations. Hephaestus Enterprises (Pronoun): A relatively new mega-corporation that doesn't give two squiggly shits about history. A hulking corporate freighter slowly touched down on surface of a pristine world, crushing plants, scattering animals, and disturbing the wild beauty that had lasted untold aeons. An unnatural, metal screech echoed through the plains, and the vessel's great cargo door slowly groaned open. A thousand Tithonus droids poured out of the hold and assembled on the plain. After a few minutes, the mass of bargain war-machines formed into lines and clattered off down the overgrown streets. They entered and secured each building, seeking threats to their charge, yet finding none. Finally, when the coast was clear, a young man and his entourage stepped off the vessel. Johnny Penrith, heir to Hephaestus Enterprises, walked into the timeless city with researchers and marketeers in tow. After a few hours of taking pictures, surveying some of the larger buildings, and discussing the market value of the cultural artefacts, young John gave the order to his researchers to strip the city to the bone. At first, the droids only collected interesting pieces of technology. After all, that was the most pragmatic option to further the Corporation's long-term goals. After everything more complicated than a wheel was taken, they moved on to cultural items—musical instruments, books, clothes, cutlery, artworks, and even pieces of the walls that struck the researchers as ‘pretty.’ A vast procession of plunder, like an ancient triumph of Rome, snaked its way through the streets of the city, ending at the cargo hold of the great freighter, with the crew compiling extensive lists of loot. Which included two disruptor pistols, and eight functioning firstborn servitors. It would take a few trips to transport everything of worth off the planet, but the most important item was sent straight to labs on Aurora. Two vials of an unidentified substance, with labels written in an unknown text. The mystery was too much to resist! --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The soft hum of Johnny's quantum alarm clock woke him with a start. Another nightmare. There were only nightmares since his father's suicide last year. It was the same one every night. He was in his father's office. Former CEO Steven Penrith was looking out the window with a smile, while fires burned across the face of Hades. It was like the featureless landscape were kindling, and the flames spread to almost every building, factory, and ship. The Protorian Archivar was there, too. He stared at Johnny with golden eyes and held out his hand. Between his fingers was a coin with a spiral pattern on both faces. It hurt to look at it. As he reached out to touch the coin, the Protorian turned to ash and faded away, just as the fire from outside to the office slowly creeping towards-- As always, he woke up at this point. For a few moments after his eyes opened, the after-image of the Archiver's eyes burned in his vision. ******* dreams. Some of the Board had recommended a number of qualified psychoanalysts, but he couldn't allow himself to be seen at a quack's office. God knows how the markets would react if the inheritor of Hephaestus was deemed mentally unfit. Pulling himself out of his naval cot, he took a brief moment to recall his surroundings in his morning haze. He had commandeered a bed in the crew-quarters last night. He hated sleeping in the same place more than twice. After the HCAC bombings, he was paranoid about being vaporised with xylorite explosives, and it didn't seem to matter that he and the Corporation were not the target of the original attack. When a totally unremarkable employee could be made a terrorist, who knows what random sailor could be in the employ of butchers? He pulled on his suit - form-fitted for his sixteen-year-old self - and skulked out of his room. Four burly Enforcers stood guard outside his quarters and stood to attention as he walked past him. Falling into line as he walked past, they marched silently behind their employer like dutiful dogs while shooting threatening looks at sailors who walked too close. It took almost twenty minutes of trudging through snaking corridors and travelling up numerous elevators before they party reached the bridge of the spacecraft. "Trucker Bill" was the Corporation's largest freighter. With the Corruptor war swiftly moving out of Hephaestus' view, the massive Tassaran-built ship was re-purposed for the transport of more 'sensitive' assets. In this case, the asset was Johnny. The Captain of the vessel, a Galaron, saluted the young industrialist as he walked on to the command deck. "Good morning, Mr Penrith," he croaked in slightly accented English. "I trust your quarters were of reasonable quality? Your request for a transfer was rather short-notice." "Yeah, yeah, they were fine, mate. Cheers." Johnny was not interested in the platitudes of the captain. The Galaron always seemed to try and impress him with his skill as master and commander. John, however, was not in the mood for networking (he couldn't even remember the captain's name), and he sat himself down in front of the holographic solar map that occupied the middle of the bridge. It's twirling images of the local star and planets made him feel slightly queasy just looking at them. "Any messages for me?" "Yes, Mr Penrith," purred the captain, "there was a communication sent from Hades. Sadly, some form of interference delayed it for almost a week. Shall I bring it up for you?" John gestured lazily towards the holo-projector, and nodded. In an instant, the planets disappeared, and were replaced by the incessant smiling visage of Jim Bean, currently the acting CEO. "G'day, Johnno, pal!" the beaming Bean began. "Hope you're doing well! Your mum sends her regards, but I think she's sending you a message a bit later!" Jim performed a well-practised laugh, though it only inspired a grunt from John. It was a quality laugh, though. It probably tested well in focus groups. "Now, I know you might still be a bit sour about being sent off on this little galactic outing, boss, but your old lady was pretty adamant that you needed to get out of the tower for a while. You can't stay cooped up forever, my man. What's better than a real-life adventure, right? Plumbing the depths of ancient, alien tombs, like in those old movies Ste-" Jim caught himself commendably well. Visible discomfort flashed across his features for the merest instant, before he regained his composure. "-like in those old movies, huh? So yeah. Get out there, rip up some ancient stone-work and try not to incur some mummy's curse, hey?" After the next bout of laughter, John couldn't help but roll his eyes. He was already on his way back after doing that very thing. Just how old was this message? "Anyway, on the business side of things, we've finished repairs on the main building and landing zones that were damaged last year. Which is just as well, because, ah, the ‘Big Man’ is pretty upset that they're still ongoing.” ‘Big Man?’ What? Jim suddenly lost his cheesy smile, and spoke very seriously. “Look, John mate? We felt that you should finish your trip and come back first, but I’d feel like a pretty shitty person if I didn’t tell you this. I hope you’re sitting down, because what I’m going to tell you is a bit of a doozy.” A doozy? What on Earth could Jim Bean think a ‘doozy’ was? ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Back in settled Corporate space, gossip and rumours had begun to circulate that an old man in a white suit had been walking around the streets of Hades before entering the HCAC building. This in itself would not be that significant, but the old man in question seemed to have an uncanny resemblance to Steven Penrith. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Action Points: 4AP by default, 6AP through trade, 4AP from the 8th Crusade, 8AP from sectors, 3AP from industry, 2AP from business, 4AP from population, Total = 31AP -Resources are sent to the Han Dominion in order to aid in the expansion of their shipyard. (-10AP) -Massive mining expansions to the newly-settled planet of Woolongong (sponsored by Woolongong Workshops) are ordered by the board. The desolate, featureless world makes the miners nostalgic for Hades and Grand Ares. They strive to honour their homeworlds by ripping apart the itoron-rich landscape with zero concern for neatness or waste-management. (-5AP) -Two vials of an unknown substance recovered from an ancient Firstborn city are sent to the Grand Aurora Institute of Technology. The extensive laboratories and researchers would no doubt discover the purpose of the vials. (-4AP) -Two colony ships are ordered for construction. One would be sent to the PAR, in order to remove and resettle the population of a system that is unpleasantly close to Corporate borders. The other would transport Corporate employees to the system in order to colonise it themselves. Though, the PAR would retain exclusive rights to mine the planet's rich itoron deposits. (-6AP) -Honouring an agreement with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, the Corporation orders a sleek, sexy advertisement campaign to be played in surrounding alien and human nations (but oddly, not in Hephaestus space). It advertises a beautiful tourist resort, but also subtly hints towards the advantages of immigrating to Malta-space. (-4AP) -"Project: Peach" (-2AP)
  2. Onwards [Sci-Fi Nation FRP - RP]

    no_input please contact admin The terrible attacks on Hades reminded many of the shell-shocked citizens about the corruptor incursion some fifteen years ago. Due to the terrible attacks, the Board became considerably disorganised with the death of Phillip Narau, and later, Steven Penrith. With the two commanding pillars of the Board gone, infighting and argumentation quickly spread across the planet. The head of the HERMES program Jim Bean took the reigns of CEO by the vote of the Board, and with his negotiation skills he settled the divisions and brought order to the commanding structure of the Corporation. With him in control, a full investigation of the attack is performed with the aid of many other human nations, and the co-operation of numerous alien ones. Steven Penrith's suicide caught his family completely off-guard. His son was especially hard hit, and refused to leave his room for a week. Since he was deemed too young to head the company, Jim Bean acts as CEO until he is considered old enough to take over. Until then, he would continue his education while his company shares would be under the guardianship of his mother, Sally Penrith. With the end of the lock-down, the remaining parties of the delegates are allowed to leave the planet. However, the Enforcers are still on the street in droves, keeping a watchful eye on all proceedings. A surprising number of the smiling HERMES agents are also on the planet. Seemingly everywhere. Watching. The Acquisition Frenzy officially ends, with commerce normalising and balancing to the chaotic norm. Whatever Aurora was, it has been replaced by ravenous capitalists, with only the scientific institutions retaining any form of the old Auroran culture. The difference between a Hades employee and an Auroran employee is the accent. Soon, maybe that will be gone as well. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- :://Excerpt from quantum holovision broadcast 'HEPHAESTUS ULTRA-NEWS!'//:: A pair of colourful anchors sit behind an equally colourful desk. Above their heads, a massive screen flashes 'Hephaestus Ultra-News'. The anchors, despite their lively appearance, look tired, and shabby. The tattooed anchor wearing a cyan three-piece suit speaks gravely as he stares at the camera. "... officially confirmed that CEO Penrith has passed away. The Board is not currently commenting any further on the nature of his death, but there is considerable speculation that it may be connected to the recent attack at the HCAC." The other fluffy-haired anchor places her finger to her earpiece briefly and listens intently. "It appears acting CEO Jim Bean is about to address the press outside of the HCAC right now. We're going over to that now." The image cuts to a lectern where Jim Bean is standing. He is without his trade-mark smile, and the bags under his eyes might indicate a lack of sleep. He begins to speak in a raspy voice. "The Hephaestus Board would like to express our deepest apologies for the loss of life that has occurred on our Administration world. Despite our security measures an attack was performed in the heart of our corporation--one which lead to the deaths of many important figures in the Southern Galaxy. Our sympathy goes out to every nation and individual affected by these horrific attacks. We hope that, despite this tragedy, the peace process may continue unabated. An agreement was reached mere moments before the first explosion, if footage of the event can be believed." Jim takes a deep breath before continuing. Extensive investigations conducted by Corporate agents and other volunteering agencies have found the following; "A Galaron employee who had been a part of the Hephaestus family for almost two years violated his contract by planting explosives beneath the conference room for the meeting delegates, and in the transport of the Redon. Both explosives were placed through supposed routine maintenance, and neither Enforcers or Redon guards noticed during security sweeps. Upon planting the explosives, the Galaron left Corporate space for the GTFO, where a safehouse was prepared for him. A Tassaran arrived, wherein the Galaron agent was assassinated in order to tie up loose ends. After tracking the Tassaran to his namesake's republic, it was discovered that he received payment for the murder via bank transfer in the Skellar Kingdom. Here, a Skellar who went only by the name of "Val" transferred payment. Tracking his movements halfway across the galaxy, agents observed him exiting the same train at four different stops without getting back on, and entering a hotel without ever leaving. A picture with "Artist's impression" written beneath is pops up on the screen. At said hotel, we found a box that, when opened, contained a smaller box, and so on and so on..." Jim was clearly trying to move through his statement quickly, at this point. "However, the perpetrator was not found. Analysts have concluded that he may have been in possession of arcane teleportation technology, or somehow managed to slip past all cameras, witnesses, and law-enforcement on five separate occasions. Within his boxes contained this symbol, which is ah, a somewhat-obscure symbol from a northern-galactic religion. When cross-referencing these facts with other murders over history, we found three other cases in the galaxy where similar symbols were found. The same boxes and symbol, etcetera. There is, however, no connection between them. It can therefore be assumed that these people were not politically motivated, but were actors on behalf of someone else. Since none of the southern-galactic leaders went unscathed, we can assume that this was not orchestrated by any of the leaders at the table that dreadful day. We have suspicions that some unrelated power may have hired this band of pretentious, arrogant wankers to butcher the delegates in order to continue the war. We hope that all the concerned parties will consider this. We will not make excuses for ourselves. The Corporation has failed all those who came into our space. We felt we were ready for such tasks, but clearly we were wrong. Once more, our hearts and sympathy go to all those who lost their lives. If anyone has any information, we urge you to contact your local law-enforcement. Jim nods once, and proceeds back through the doors of the HCAC, flanked by Enforcers. //::Excerpt Ends::// Action Points: 4AP by default, 6AP from trade, 4AP from 8th Crusade, 7AP from sectors, 3AP from industry, 1AP from business, 4AP from population. -Just like every year, another group of destroyers are put into production. Three over-designed vessels are built. (-12AP) -The Board approves of an advertisement campaign geared towards professors. Wanting to fill up the Grand Auroran Institute of Technology with the best of the best. They notably advertise the considerable facilities and grants available to professionals. (-5AP) -A massive expansion of the Itoron mines on Grand Ares and Helix are ordered by the Board. Business must continue, no matter what. (-5AP) -From some information gleaned from the late Protorian Archiver and Chaal, the Corporation begins a massive survey of all it's controlled systems and territorial claims. They're searching specifically for anything related to Firstborn 'boxes,' though in all honesty finding anything interesting would suffice. (-7AP) -Yet another colony ship chock-full of miners races off to one of the itoron-rich planets identified last year. (-0AP)
  3. Onwards [Sci-Fi Nation FRP - RP]

    Better Prices, Better Value, Better Service! The surprise across Corporate Space is palpable. All the warring factions across the Southern galaxy had unanimously chosen Hephaestus Enterprises to be the site for negotiation. Well, if they were going to be the site for negotiation, they were going to present the HIGHEST PR-BOOSTING RESPONSE POSSIBLE. Rather than the usual site for negotiations in the Grand Cairo Casino, Hephaestus opts to invite them to the towering gray monolith of the Hephaestus Central Administration Building. Special arrangements are made for the arriving diplomats. The best conference room in the tower is requisitioned, along with a small number of experienced caterers and decorators. The decor was to look tasteful and attractive, but not overly bombastic. Drinks and small snacks catered to the varying species will be supplied. Should it be desired, private rooms will be put aside for the factions to gather notes and discuss things outside earshot from the others. Significant space would be bought up nearby the tower for landing space. The enforcers are put on high alert, and will be securing the streets and skyways near the path the delegates will travel. Any attempts to disrupt or attack the convoy will be met with stern force. Those left over will be keeping an eye on overly-emotional employees. Any race-based violence would be put down, and the employees fined, or even fired. The terms of Hephaestus hinges on the following things--the details of which are sent to those involved. 1. No more than four warships equal to or smaller than a standard destroyer may escort the delegates into Corporate space. 2. No more than six armed guards may escort the delegate planet-side. 3. Any attempts to attack one-another while in Corporate space will be met with forceful ejection, and the offending parties will be billed for any damage to employees and property. If deemed necessary, Hephaestus offers up Phillip Narau - lead accountant - as a mediator during the meeting. Action Points: 4AP by default, 6AP through trade, 4AP through 8th Crusade Port, 4AP from population, 7AP from sectors, 3AP from industry, 1AP from business, 4AP from USA (this turn only). :33AP in total: -Hephaestus accepts the request to host the negotiations within its borders. (refer to the previous parts of this post for details). (-0AP) -An order is received from the United States of Arcturus to construct and deliver 15,000 "Defender" droids, which in reality were just re-branded Tithonus droids. As per their request, programming manuals and modification tools are sent along with the 'bots so the Arcturans can re-purpose the droids to use weapons other than the default ones they come with. Why? Who cares. Money!! (-3AP) -An order is placed for a colony ship. Produced over Hades, bidding instantly begins for seats on the spacecraft, with a majority of mining subsidiaries getting tickets. (3AP) -The Acquisition Frenzy continues. Steven Penrith is bloody impressed (mate!) about the tenacity and profitability of his new employees! He watches in glee as some former-Auroran subsidiaries make it on to the Board, replacing a few of the more languid Board members. Free-market capitalism, baby! (-3AP) -More resources are sent to the former-Auroran scientific institutions! What Jim Bean hopes to gain from all this is still anyone's guess, but it's expected some sort of venture from him will occur in the future. (-2AP) -The ship-borne laser-lances continue to be worked on. Surprised and confused that the scientists and engineers continue to decrease energy consumption (useful, no doubt), the Board politely reminds them that they're supposed to make them more powerful in terms of burning things holes in things. Still, they hadn't failed them yet, and energy-efficiency would be good for catering to later improvements. (-10AP) -The shipyard over Aurora and Hades fire up once again. Despite their high cost, three destroyers are put into production. (-12AP) -Finding that that the words on the tablet are indecipherable even to Protorian experts, Steven begins to wonder just how much it's worth. Grabbing hold of a few HERMES agents to transport it, he contacts the Protorian Archiver for an assessment and possible translation. (-0AP)
  4. Onwards [Sci-Fi Nation FRP - RP]

    Buying Friends has Never been Easier!! The Acquisition Frenzy continues on the new Hephaestus worlds, with natives and foreigners battling for market supremacy on all economic fronts. Unfortunately for the Aurorans, this was not a battle that could be won by anyone. Hephaestus was not a state seeking control, it was a cattle-ranch with the cows buying and selling the grass. This was Hephaestus' great economic strength. The Acquisition Frenzy was only notable for those living on the newly acquired planets. This was life in Hephaestus. The eternal war for profit. The Race. Soon, they wouldn't even notice, or care. On the topic of grass, the introduction of the Darkul seems like an excellent opportunity for trade. The notation and samples of the exotic grasses they consumed made many farmers on Corporate worlds wonder what they were doing with their lives. Happy to accept the Zyrka's contribution, and rewarding him appropriately, the Corporation upgrades all existing Tithonus models to the new Mk IIs. Cheap, expendable, and now smart, they were built for export. Granted, when the GTFO's monopolist license runs out... Happy to accept the little Grgl's efforts in the Corporation, the Board watches the newest subsidiary ply his trade. They would be watching very closely. All of them knew that McPhaestus had potential to thrive if someone had talent enough to exploit it. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ The thundering clatter of a thousand metal feet echoed in a percussive, chaotic melody. The newly christened Tithonus Mk IIs marched into the cargo-hold of huge freighter without thought or question--flowing to their destination in an unrelenting river of steel and guns. Technicians darted around the ranks of those still waiting to be packed away, performing system diagnostics and general quality tests. Hephaestus was always cost-efficient, but though their products were cheap to produce they never skipped on functionality. As the next line of combat droids walked themselves into the bowels of the waiting ship, an old Australian man stood next to his accountant. Both were watching the machines walk their way to their new owners with feelings of satisfaction only understood by ravenous capitalists. CEO Steven Penrith leaned on the gangway's railing, with his walking stick resting on his shoulder. His white hair and wrinkled features were a far cry from the man who expanded his business to an alien world all those decades ago. Phillip Narau - Super-Accountant - dwarfed his employer significantly. His heavily tattooed face obscured most of his expressions with the exception of his glaring, cold eyes. He carefully scrolled through numbers and shipping details on a comparatively small data-pad. "We have at least six-thousand more to be loaded, Mr Penrith. Afterwards we will store the Silver Knight's order in this vacant space when they've been manufactured." Steven nodded slowly and drew himself away from the railing with a grunt. Letting his cane tap down on the steel grating, he hobbled along the gangway with a greedy smirk. "Bloody good business, this, Phil. We should manufacture a heap of the buggers just in case we get more buyers. People love our droids, mate!" Phillip followed closely behind Steven without looking up from his pad. "We're fortunate in our timing. The Silver Knights-" "Kingdom of Armathwaite," Steven interjected with a mock-British accent. "-Kingdom of Armathwaite," Phillip corrected, "recently left The Human Cooperative. Perhaps they're worried for their continuing survival? We may be able to capitalise on ensuing paranoia." Steven grunted half-heartedly, and turned a corner into a small office space. The desks were packed tight next to one-another, with clerks making calls and organising their paperwork and data-entries. All of them kept an almost reverential distance from Steven and Phillip as they passed through. "I don't think there's much point in direct advertising. They're too savvy for that. We might try that angle with those Orimon boys later, though." Exiting the office, they entered yet another gangway, this time overlooking a factory floor. "This lot might be the last of the MK I variants we make. Bloody shame. I hope the Maltesers appreciate our 'bots." Conveyors upon conveyors were covered in droid-parts in varying states of completion. Automatic servo-arms pieced together the war-machines bit by bit, while human workers installed the weapons and computational parts further down the line. The whole hall was a symphony of loud cracks and hisses from the machines, and the barking orders from factory supervisors. "Talking about sales, has our ah, little fruit project been completed?" "We have recieved the results, sir. We plan to begin our own tests next year." "Yeah, good. I'm going to be honest, Phil. This was a dirty deal. Probably the worst one I've been a part of." Steven stopped where he was, and rested on his cane. With his shoulders slumped, he appeared decades older than he was. "No more, after this. You understand? Under no circumstances will we do so again." Phillip nodded stoicly, and carefully placed his data-pad into a pocket. "Our PR was maintained, Mr Penrith. We needn't worry. I agree it would be wise not to do so again, regardless." The two walked in silence above the manufacturing cacophony, until they reached an observation window. Tables and chairs were scattered around the area, clearly meant for lunch-breaks during the longer shifts. Brushing some paper wrappers from the table, Steven sat down with a quiet wheeze, and rested his weary legs. A thought occurred to him that brought a smile to his face. He waggled a finger at Phillip and laughed. "You know my little Johnny bought his first business today? Bloody hell, the kid's a damn natural, Phil. Redmond-Rock Ice-Creamery is growing quick! I bet the little ripper already has expansion plans! I wonder if I should ask? I probably shouldn't, he won't want to reveal his strategy..." Noticing Phillip was obviously unmoved by his glowing praise of his son, Steve changed his angle. "I'm surprised you don't have kids, Phil! You're getting a bit long-in-the-tooth to start a family. You may want to get started some time." "I've already done so, sir." "You have?" "I have." "Bloody hell! Why haven't I seen them, then?! I'd love to meet them!" "That would be difficult." "Why's that?" "They're on Earth." "Oh. They've karked it?" "Yes, sir. They were not at the standard required to leave." "Jeez, Phil, I would have let you bring them if I knew! Who was the bastard in charge of the passenger list?!" "Me, sir. My spouse was unwilling to work, and my son was more occupied with alcohol and narcotics than creating his own wealth. They were a poor investment. I saw no need to bring them." "Oh. Fair enough, then." And so they quietly raided the employee-fridge and ate lunch. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Aurora was not the planet it was a year ago. The marketeers had arrived bearing money, business plans, and honeyed words. Now the world was uprooted from its technological vision and slowly being transformed into a hive of ever-changing shops, factories, and affordable housing. The citizens, at first resentful, now found themselves digging into the system—working for cheap, rising through the ranks, and building their personal wealth. It was difficult not to be consumed in the great dance of the market, and the former citizens were no exception. High above the growing sprawl, the rechristened “Grand Aurora Institute of Technology” was slowly rising further into the air fuelled by the resources pouring in from Hades. The old colony was being replaced brick by brick, except the inhabitants were too busy to care. In a brand new tenement building deep in an equally new budget housing district, a woman was making narcotics. The Auroran highlands were filled with strange, intoxicating flora and fauna. Some of which could be refined into all sorts of addictive hallucinogens for the consumption and enjoyment of thrill-seekers. Lacy was a second-generation migrant to Aurora. Her parents had been from a small planet in the Tassaran Republic and moved to Aurora to capitalise on the primitive humans and aid their agricultural processes. Her mother was involved in the domestication of the giant egg-worms that dotted the landscape between the cragged peaks. Lacy, however, had never seen a Tassaran world--she was an Auroran born and raised, and proud of her little planet. Sadly she wasn’t as attuned to the academic world like her parents. She was clever, but she lacked the same drive to learn and achieve. She skulked the streets in her youth and made friends in bad places while absorbing “skills” that would not be appreciated in the University of Technology. When Hephaestus took over, the criminal underbelly of Aurora was disrupted and upturned, leaving Lacy high and dry. So this time she chose to go into business for herself. Lacy was quite frustrated with her latest experiment. She was tired of brewing the local flavour of narcotic-cocktails and her latest work with poisonous plants from Capricorn wasn’t turning out too well. She had attempted to grow a small tree in her living-room known for its hallucinogenic qualities. Yet, despite all the hydroponic equipment she had on her person, growing a tree in a house wasn’t particularly viable. Also, the seeds and cuttings she bought may not actually be an alien plant, but rather a common weed. Inside her sealed, plastic, hydroponic tent, Lacy groaned and stretched. The oppressive heat from the lamps was not doing the job, and her shirt was stuck to her back from sweat. With a sigh, she stepped out from her UV-oven into the relative cool of her living room, and tossed the remainder of the seeds in her auto-disposal unit. She would need to produce the boring, common varieties of drugs in order to make up for the loss. In the corner, much maligned and ignored, a few monitors started flashing red. Lacy had set up a security system with a few subtle cameras hidden around the tenement complex; programmed to sound off when they detected significant spikes in movement. The movement in this instance seemed to be a squad of blue-clad, laser-toting Enforcers. They were securing the exits, elevators, stairwells, or anything that she could potentially slip out of. ****. Even now they were clomping up to her level, which was less than ideal for her, all things considered. Everyone in this building was a law-abiding wage-jockey of some description (she had investigated them herself) so there was really only one person they could possibly be gunning for. She acted fast—there was already a plan in place for this inevitability, but she had about five minutes, tops. She clearly hadn't time to pack, so she snatched up her thick, wormskin coat. Knocking books, pipes, and ash-trays off her desk, she scrabbled up her data-pad and wallet. Client-lists were important for her work, and losing these connections would mean she’d have to start from square one. There was a thundering of feet in the hall outside her doorway. It was now, or never. Apartments with windows were always more expensive, but they were invaluable for impromptu exits. Lacy heaved the glass pane outward and wriggled herself through the opening with vocalised effort. Tassarans were always a little too tall for standard human dimensions, especially for doorways and windows. The fire escape she had pulled herself onto was mercifully wide, however, and she scrambled down the metal grating towards the alleyway below. Not bothering to kick down the final ladder, she jumped onto the concrete below, just as she heard the loud crash of her apartment’s door being kicked in. As she straightened herself, she laughed at her luck. They hadn’t secured the side-alley yet. The undulating mass of pedestrians was waiting only twenty feet away from her. No-one would find her once she disappeared into the crowd. “Falling on hard times, hey love?” Lacy jerked her head to her left. There was a middle-aged man in a black suit looking at her quizzically, and leaning against the wall of the tenement. From his Hades’ accent she knew he was a foreigner, but what was he doing here? He dressed too well for a wage-jockey, and he was much too calm to be a resident. He made her nervous. Swiftly picking herself up, she raced at full-sprint out of the alley. Out of the corner of her eye, she could have sworn the man gave her a big, cheesy smile. The crowds were packed tight in BestBuy Street. Hephaestus wasn’t used to infrastructure based around ground-cars, and was quickly doing away with wide roads. Above her head steel walkways were being assembled for faster commute among the buildings, while flying transports dotted the skyline. The street-lamps felt almost unnecessary in addition to miles of neon signs and holo-screens blaring advertisements, casting ghostly, multicoloured light on everyone around them. The planet was rapidly changing all around her. The old rules and etiquette were tossed out the back door with the government, taxes, and welfare. She remembered when the street had a line of cafes and a small art gallery—now it was shop after shop filled with slimy businesspeople. Except the art gallery. It was still there. Except now the curators were weirdos in latex overalls. She felt a tingle down the back of her spine. It was a primal instinct she'd put of a lot of faith in during her life. She kept up her casual pace – running would be suspicious – and discretely looked around herself. She didn’t see any Enforcers, and employees surrounded her on all sides. Despite this, she couldn’t shake the feeling she was being watched. The cold sweat building on her forehead and the grimy, humid perspiration running down her back made every step through the claustrophobic sprawl chafing. She needed to look behind her, but she also couldn’t risk her pursuer knowing that she knew she was being followed. A wide glass pane on a shop-front was coming up on her right. This was her chance to get a brief glance. As she walked by the generic Hephaestus appliance outlet, she glanced in the widow’s reflection. Not seven feet behind her was the suit from the alley, with his data-pad tucked under his arm. He was still smiling. She started pushing through the crowd as fast as she could. He wasn’t a businessman, or some rich prick slumming it around the tenements. He was a ******* Smiler. She found a gap amongst the walkers and broke into a full sprint again. She needed to put distance between herself and the Smiler if she had any chance of escaping into what was left of the underworld. She wouldn’t look behind herself now. Couldn’t risk tripping over errant feet or refuse on the footpath. She charged around a corner, knocking over a pamphleteer bleating about the latest deals from some place or another. Pamphlets and coupons were flung violently in the air, raining down on confused customers. Food-carts pawing off Grgl goop by the pound squeezed out what little room was left on the street, forcing lacy to charge through cues of hungry employees. Angry shouts and rude gestures followed her as she knocked food out of hands in her flight. At the end of the street, her heart sunk when she saw two familiar blue uniforms. One of the Enforcers was talking on his communicator. As she violently burst out of the lines, the two Enforcers head spun to face her, and the three regarded one-another for a brief, silent second. “Employee 697,112AU! Halt, and submit for audit!” shouted one of the blue-clad heavies. Both drew their laser-pistols and ran towards her. Lacy flew down an adjacent alleyway pushing over pedestrians as she went. The damp alley was unoccupied, aside from rubbish-bags and dumpsters. Local vermin scurried around the garbage of a hundred different homes as Lacy’s burning legs finally gave out. In front of her was a wire fence, too tall to climb, and she was too tired to make a pathetic attempt. Twelve enforcers marched into the alley wordlessly, weapons drawn. Lacy just watched and caught her breath. She had done everything she could. It was over. As they approached, the squad parted in two, allowing a man in the business suit bearing a cheesy smile to walk towards her. The Smiler. Her Pursuer. The little H.E.R.M.E.S. pin on his front pocket glistened in the neon light, and his ivory-white teeth juxtaposed with the relative gloom. HERMES agents, or Smilers as most people called them, were the Corporation’s... something. No-one really knew what their job was specifically, outside of the vague business jargon that made up their name. They always seemed to have their noses in a lot of places; so many that pinning down their purpose was difficult. Yet, they seemed to be everywhere. Their uncanny ability to hold big, friendly smiles earned them their eponymous nickname. Most people found them to be quite approachable and pleasant. Lacy however had always found them cold and creepy. When he finally stood in front of her, the pulled he data-pad out from under his arm, and his smile seemed to broaden. “Employee 697,112AU? Ms “Lacy”? I take it? You don’t appear to have a second name registered. That’s okay sweetheart, we don’t need those.” Lacy stood stock-still, and nodded once. She was still attempting to catch her breath. No point in denial now. “Anyway, lovely to meet you, Lacy. I’m Tim Julie. I’ll be your auditor. Are you able to make a payment today?” At this, Lacy simple stared blankly in confusion. Tim seemed to pick up on this instantly. “As per Corporate protocols, all subsidiaries are required to pay a contribution fee to Hephaestus Enterprises in order to upkeep Enforcer security, unprofitable infrastructure, and other projects deemed necessary to ensure future profit and growth. Do you understand, Ms Lacy?” Clearly, Lacy was not understanding. Tim spoke calmly and continued toting his winning smile. “Aren’t you employee 697,112AU, owner of “Lacy’s Deep Trips?" The hallucinogenic manufacturer?” Lacy suddenly seemed to shake out of her trance, and nodded quickly. She made that ‘subsidiary’ as a joke with her friends! She didn’t even put her real employee ID on it! How did they find her? How did they know?! “Now,” Tim continued, possibly tired from explaining the situation (though you’d never be able to tell behind his expression). “You’ve missed two of your quarterly payments, so you’re required to pay the outstanding 5,788 HEcreds. This accounts for the first quarter’s missing payment. Will you be able to make your second quarter’s payment today as well?” It was as if she was in a dream. She took her wallet from her coat, pulled out her HEcredit-card and swiped it across the front of the data-pad. A cheerful “ping” and a green light briefly flashed. “It’s just gone through, Lacy. Thanks for that. Try not to forget next time, okay? Have a fulfilling, Hephaestus evening!” And with that, Tim pivoted on his heel and walked back down the alley, flanked by all of the Enforcers, until she was alone in the alley. What the hell was happening to this planet? ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Action Points: 4AP by default, 4AP by trade, 4AP through the 8th Crusade, 3AP from population, 7AP from sectors controlled, 3AP from industry, 1AP from business. -Now ensconced within the GTFO's trade-lanes, Hephaestus begins construction of a vast trade-station above Hades, independent of the current shipyard. It mostly surprised the Board how no-one had thought of doing this before! (-10AP) -After hearing customer feedback about their laser-lance's performance, Hephaestus places significant resources into improving the energy-output of their lances. The first of many investments, they hope to make their lances far more powerful for future conflicts. (10AP) -The Acquisition Frenzy continues, with the rest of the former Auroran worlds pulled into the Race. (-3AP) -Further improvements are chartered for the Auroran scientific institutions. Their academies WILL be better than the competition. (-3AP) -17,000 of the stored Tithonus Mk Is are upgraded to the Mk II variant, and shipped to the GTFO. (-0AP) -Eight frigates are sent on scouting missions to unoccupied systems bordering Corporate space. Their purpose is to search and scan for important resources for future exploitation. (-0AP) -Amanda Phelps continues her drills with the remaining Hephaestus fleet. (-0AP) -The former Auroran warships are sent to Hades for refitting, and to take part in the drills. (-0AP) -Steven Penrith, at the behest of curious onlookers, decides to send for someone to decipher the script on the tablet given to him by the Grgl. There could be more value to it than simply being a nice piece of decoration, after all. (-0AP)
  5. Onwards [Sci-Fi Nation FRP - RP]

    More MORE MoRe MOre moRE mOre MoRe more MORE mORE MoRe MOrE moRe MorE MORe morE MORE!!! //We are sorry to report that your following broadcast of :AURORA DEBATE: is experiencing technical difficulties due to :INEXPLICABLE QUANTUM PHENOMENA: Channel 555 apologises for the interruption. Now playing complimentary excerpt from :WALRUS AND CARPENTER: We are now working on a solution. Your patronage is very important to us. Thank you for choosing Channel 555!// //Connection reestablished. Thank you for choosing Channel 555!// -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It was January of the New Year on the planet of Aurora. Though its alpine climate was chilly at that time (more than usual, anyway) the people were in a pleasant mood. The Hephaestus “merger” had many of the new employees worried, but after a week surprisingly little had changed. Many of the most pessimistic people thought they’d be relegated to salt-mines or sweat-shops, but Jim Bean appeared to be nothing but magnanimous during his time administrating Aurora. Other HERMES agents kept local comm-lines open to answer questions and aid with the transition. All government property had been auctioned off, and re-invested into Aurora by Administrator Bean. This had the effect of boosting the planet’s economy, raising wages, and just improving life in general. The new subsidiaries quickly took control of their growing assets and gleefully bought and sold all they could. However, there was a feeling of grim foreboding in their actions. All their advertising spoke about “supporting Auroran business” or “buying local.” They played on people’s emotions and loyalties but for no expressed reason. What were they afraid of? What could these unshackled industrial titans be afraid of? Above Aurora, the great space-station quietly milled away its time, inactive, save for the occasional Solarin construction team. Two servicemen (now initiate Enforcers) sat quietly observing the myriad of scanners that covered the walls in front of them. Suddenly, a spike on their monitors—a ship had arrived in the system. Before they could hail them, another popped into view. Then another. And then five others. A hundred others. Hundreds of ships, all from the same place--Hephaestus. “Is it an invasion?! The Keerim?! The Corruptors?!” cried one. “No, they’re civilian ships.” Said the other. The comms blared into life, as dozens of vessels hastily requested permission to descend to the planet’s surface. As they tried to process the few who had the courtesy to call in, the rest simply bypassed the station, and hurtled down to the surface. On the ground, the Auroran employees looked into the sky, and saw a hundred fiery streaks blaze against the atmosphere. Ships landed everywhere they could; when the landing-pads were full, they called property owners in order to purchase more space. Some simply opened their cargo holds, and hordes of briefcase-toting business-people jumped on to the ground risking injury or death. They race into shops, buildings, and even towards people on the street, seeking to buy property. Ravenous marketeers practically frothed at the mouth as they gazed around a whole new market, untapped and untouched by the outside. Like rabid dogs, they ran around jostling at every piece of marketable infrastructure in an attempt to assuage price. It was something that had not been seen since the purchase of New Zealand in 2080. The Acquisition Frenzy had begun. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Action points 4AP by default, 4AP from trade, 4AP from 8th Crusade port, 7AP from Sectors, 3AP from population, 3AP from Industry, 1AP from Business, 1AP from Han Dominion (This turn only) 4AP from GTFO (This turn only) -Four more frigates are cued up in the shipyard, making a wide array of people extraordinarily happy. (-12AP) -“Project: Pineapple.” (-8AP) -The populace of the former Technocracy are introduced to the Race. The great economic war between the Hephaestus subsidiaries pours into the closest colonies, quickly overtaking many local businesses and industries. Though the locals aren’t just willing to give in, and a surprising number of native industries manage to hold their own against the Hephaestus onslaught. Indirect investment is also growing from subsidiaries and individuals who’d rather not leave the comfort of their own colonies. (-5AP) -As promised, the first round of upgrades are supplied to the academies and lesser educational institutions on Aurora. Multiple subsidiaries jostle for the chance to be the main contractor. Administrator Jim Bean promises further expansions. (-2AP) -GTC space-pounds are sent to the Corporation for the purpose of upgrading and delivering a great flurry of Tithonus combat droids. The armaments and mechanics were fine enough, but an upgrade to computational systems was deemed necessary. A combination of Solarin Hunter ‘bots tech, Solarin LAS II tech, Auroran robotics expertise, and plucky Hephaestus know-how go towards the new Tithonus tactical AI. Though it’ll still require a sentient to indirectly control group actions, they are being re-designed for greater individual autonomy, tactical awareness, and combat flexibility. It will be known simply as the Tithonus Mk II. (-4AP from Galactic Trade Federation of Orimon) -Amanda Phelps is returns to Hephaestus space after her year of learning from the Tassaran commander. She quickly gets into the habit of drilling her new fleet, and continues the war-games with her new knowledge. (-0AP) -Sophia Briarwood and a large contingent of Enforcers arrive in Auroran space for the purpose of retraining and initiating Auroran forces into the Enforcers. (-0AP) -The Grgl's gift is accepted gratefully by Steve and the Board. It is placed on his wall next to the Firstborn servitor and what appears to be a Van Gogh portrait. He offers the little Grgl a job in the Corporation, seeing as he's here, to take over a failing restaurant chain; McPhaestus. (-0AP)
  6. Onwards [Sci-Fi Nation FRP - RP]

    Take Your Bets on the Aurora Lotto Today!! Hades' business big-whigs look on with rapt pleasure as the Corporation entered the second phase of Auroran unification talks. Clearly Hephaestus was the obvious choice, but some naysayers in other parts of Hephaestus-space believed the opposite was true. There was so much argument and disagreement on the subject that the enterprising employees could think of only one thing to do--gamble on the outcome. Bets were taken all over Hades, Grand Ares, Adonis, and Aphrodite. The "Aurora Lotto" was declared and sponsored by big subsidiaries, hoping to gain PR from supporting one outcome or the other. Alien visitors were also encouraged to "take a jab" at the Aurora Lotto and reap the rewards of the possible payout. As the bets increased, so did the suspense. Who could win...? On the newly-colonised planet of Adonis, the scientists were relieved to discover that the rabbit-things were herbivores. Though they were ridiculed for weeks by their less paranoid neighbours and friends, they took time out from their embarrassment to see about domesticating the little creatures for export. Their friendly demeanour, affectionate instincts, and calming presence made them easy choices for pets. They chose to invest in a breeding program in order to study their physiology and biological needs. With luck, maybe they tasted good too! The ship-watchers association drooled as the post-post-post-post-post-modern, demi-cubist frigates sat above Hades' shipyards. After adequate drilling of the crews later in the year, they would be sent off to do their part in support of the Ka'cezh Empire's crusade. Not many on Hades had forgotten the Corruptor Incursion of 2125, and the decision was met with widespread support in tandem with fear and excitement from the Corporate Navy crewmen. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Down the grey, spacious corridors of the Hephaestus Central Administration building ran a very excited eleven-year-old boy. Little Johnny Penrith's birthday had finally arrived. He always got plenty of gifts for a boy his age. From the simplest plastic wonder-toy to fully-functional combat droids, Johnny got just about anything he could want on his favourite day; at least until Christmas came around. Every year though, his dad told him that he could get one more gift if he asked for the right thing. This had always puzzled the boy, as he never understood why 'one more gift' was so significant. He loved his dad, though, so he always made an attempt to guess correctly. He made a sharp turn, and nearly slipped on the mirror-like steel floor. His mum had told him not to run along the hallways, but he wouldn't listen. Once he was the boss, he'd run down every single hallway in the tower. Maybe he'd ride on one of the massive vacuums that cleaned and polished the building? That'd be pretty sweet. As he tore down the hallway, a gilded, blue and white elevator slowly slid open. Dad's office was right at the top of the monolithic structure, but just about every floor had an elevator to it now. Steven hated having to switch when he was making his way up, and this way he could drop in on some of his employees. The personal touch was very important, as he always said. Panting heavily, he slid across the mirror floors for a good three metres and stopped right inside the elevator. Nice. He jumped and neatly smacked the highest number on the controls and felt his body shoot hundreds of metres upwards. Thank God for artificial gravity keeping the G-forces low. With a pleasant melodic 'ping,' the doors slid open, and the opulent office of CEO Steven Penrith was laid to bear. The office had all sorts of relics from Old Earth. Firearms, suits of armour, and busts of ancient people Johnny didn't particularly care about, were strewn all throughout the cavernous room. An animal-skin rug lay next to a lit fireplace, and outmoded information repositories (books) lined the wall around it. It was like stepping into another world, though little Johnny didn't know why people wanted animal skins (Or what animal it was). Maybe Phillip knew? Phillip Narau, Milly Price, Jason Woolard, and Steven himself were all sitting at the great, mahogany desk and thumbing through papers. Steven looked immensely bored as Phillip slowly ran through numbers and figures. Jason Woolard on the other hand was clearly asleep, while Milly was fiddling with a laser-rifle. As he saw Johnny enter the room, Steven's face brightened up immediately. "... and that is why, Mr Penrith, betting ten percent of your shares on the Auroran lotto would not be a sound financial decision despite it being, in your words, 'a sure bloody thing.'" "Well if it isn't my big, birthday boy! Get over here and give your old man a hug, kiddo!" Steven practically roared his greeting, waking Jason abruptly and making Milly shoot off several laser-bursts in surprise. Johnny ran over to his father as Steven slowly pulled himself out of his chair with a grunt. After a quick hug and ruffle of his hair, Steven sat himself back down while little Johnny hopped on to the chair's leather arm. "So what are you here for, kiddo? Bored with your combat droids already? I thought you wanted to re-enact the Red Prince's battle for Tassarea!" Johnny shrugged his shoulders. "I wanted to do my 'birthday guess' for this year. Besides, my new droids got melted by my other droids. There are a lot of smelly melted droids in my room, and a small fire. I think I should have told someone about that last thing..." Steven waved the comment away with a laugh. "Ah, that's what the cleaners are for! Tell your mum after you leave, hey? She'll sort it out with the help." After a short cough, Steven leaned back in his chair, and glanced around at his colleagues. "So, young man. What would you like for this year, hm?" Johnny thought very hard, and considered all the things that could be the 'correct' answer to his dad's annual question. He always wanted his own planet, but he'd get them one day when he was boss. He sort-of wanted to drive a Eurus missile vehicle, but they were all on Tassarea. "I want..." he began, "... a spaceship! A big one!" The adults in the room chortled to themselves (aside from Phillip) and shook their heads. Steven gave an apologetic smile. "Sorry mate, no can do." At this, Johnny was frustrated. He got everything he wanted whenever he wanted. He was going to be the boss! Why couldn't he be done with this dumb game and get the secret thing? "Why not, though?!" He demanded. Steven's face barely moved, despite his son's bratty question. "What do I get out of that deal, son?" This answer surprised little Johnny. He expected a lecture, at least. Steven saw his son's confusion, and placed his hand gently on his boy's shoulder. "I give you gifts because I like you to be happy, and because it's my money to spend. You can demand anything you want from me, but I don't have to give you a damn thing, sonny. Hephaestus isn't about you getting what you want. It's about giving me something in exchange for something you want." Steven ruffled his hair again, and gently pushed Johnny from his perch. "Run along now, matey. Go tell your mum about that fire." The boy trudged off, thinking intensely on his father's weird words. At the back of Johnny's mind, something clicked into place. Something that had always been there, but hadn't really been needed until now. A ravenous, capitalistic greed. Johnny swivelled around, and marched back to his father's desk and smacked both his hands on the old, black wood. He glared at his father fiercely, and spoke in a very firm voice. "I want a business, and I want to work for you." A wide, reptilian smile slowly spread across Steven's wrinkled face. It wasn't unpleasant, or even that unusual. For his dad however, it seemed out of place. It was mimicked by the others gathered around the desk, even beneath the tattoos of Phillip's face. Were these smiles... ...actually real? ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Action Points 4AP by default, 4AP from trade, 4AP from being an 8th Crusade Port, 1AP from population, 3AP from sectors, 1AP from industry, 1AP from business. -Dozens of the Adonis Mountain Rodents (or 'space-bunnies' as they're more colloquially known) are caught and placed in special enclosures. Tests are performed on the poor, unfortunate critters in order to gauge any useful information about them. Their biology, their needs, their adaptability, breeding methods, and taste are all researched thoroughly by the plucky colonists. (-2AP) -In a joint research project with the Solarin Federation, Hephaestus sends a modest amount of resources and personnel to aid in warp-drive upgrades. (-2AP) -Six more Themis frigates are put into production. The artists of Hades swoon, and create beautiful artworks of the skyline filled with such vessels. (-12AP) -The HERMES advertising campaign continues in Aurora. It reiterates the benefits of incorporating with Hephaestus, and continues the "What do you like Hephaestus to do for YOU?" statement. It includes the codes for a local communicator line where HERMES agents stand ready to receive questions/complaints, and collect data. (-2AP) -The previous batch of Themis frigates perform their first practice manoeuvres. They make attempts at formation fighting, small-scale war-games, patrolling Corporate space, and getting used to the laser-lances and swarmer missiles. If they're going to fight corruptors, they were going to need a bit of time to adjust. (-0AP) -A request is sent to the nearby Confederation of Xaplonius and the Tassaran Republic. To better serve in the Eight Crusade, they seek to train an 'Admiral' of sorts to command the burgeoning Corporate Fleet. Amanda Phelps, a rising star in the Enforcers, is chosen for this task. (-0AP) -Rumours circulate around Hades that a recently arrives Grgl has possession of an object of possible value. HERMES agents immediately seek him out in order to offer him an appraisal. (-0AP) -Hephaestus sends a group of reps over to the GTC in order to negotiate a more direct trade route between the Northern and Southern galaxies with Hephaestus as a main stopping point. Namely they hope to find a safe, consistent route that skims around the borders of the warring Karass Dominion. (-0AP)
  7. Onwards [Sci-Fi Nation FRP - RP]

    Come for the Sights, Stay for the SALES! The timely arrival of the Ka'cezh Imperium was quite the surprise to the defenders on Tassarea. Rond gathered his droid-army and left the planet to the Tassarans and other humans to protect. He and his guard were guaranteed some time off on Aphrodite, and they were planning to spend that time obscenely drunk. The droids in his army were being sent back to Hades for retrofitting. Since the war was taking an aggressive turn, the Alastor and Tithonus variants would need to have some retrofits before being sent in to attack a target head-on. The weapons and armour still seemed appropriate, but the droids required greater capacity for independence. With Aphrodite’s construction plans complete, it was more than a mere resort. It was a place of such entrancing luxury that any species could aspire to holiday there. The beautiful, equatorial beaches were lined with rental property and hotels as far as the eye could see. Warm, crystal-clear water practically begged visitors to dive into its depths and happily soak themselves to the core. Entertainment emporiums and sea-side restaurants intermingled with shopping districts; with business owners greeting all comers with toothy, greedy grins. If someone wished to escape war and terror for a week or two, this was undoubtedly the place to go, as any Ka'cezh could attest. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- “Firstborn, hey? How did those Hun-minions get their hands on someone like that? Bloody hell, she must be really something to stick around that long.” Steven puffed a cloud of smoke towards the ceiling of his office, where it was sucked up by the complicated filtration system. “I love blonds, Phil. And she was one hell of a Sheila.” An unpleasant, reptilian smile edged its way across his wrinkled face as Phillip Narau, Super-Accountant, placed a small stack of papers down on Steve’s desk. “I am sure the alien was objectively attractive sir. The Board needs your sign-off the construction efforts.” “Huh? Ah, yeah yeah. Sure. One hell of an order, Phil. This’ll be the next notch in the Corporate history books. Who knew we had the resources for this?” Steven laughed as his signed his name on the dotted line; all-the-while sucking and huffing cigar smoke like an indecisive chimney. “Our expansions have made this order feasible. I would not have supported it otherwise, sir.” Phillip pulled his large arms behind his back, and waited for his employer to finish his signature. “We’ll be seeing the first batch finished by the fourth quarter of this year.” “Bloody wonderful, Phil. Never thought I’d be presiding over a fleet of warships. We had a few shitty ones back on Earth, but that’s nothing like what we’ll be packing after all this is done. Can’t imagine I’ll see it completed in my lifetime.” Steven sighed, and leaned back in his armchair. His features grew morose, and for a brief moment he appeared to age another twenty years. “You seen little Johnny around, mate?” “I believe I saw him with his mother in the waiting room, Mr Penrith.” Steven pulled himself up with some effort, and walked towards the doorway. “You handle the specifics, Phil. Daylight’s burning, and I’ve earned myself a little bit of family time.” Phillip watched as Steven walked as quickly as he could out of his opulent office. Despite controlling vast swathes of Hephaestus’ administration, he didn’t desire to run it. He didn’t have the vision necessary to run an industry like this. He could crunch numbers, bring about clerical efficiency, but he was no Steven Penrith. Staring out the vast window, he looked upon the tangled web of industry sprawling in his view. What could he hope to achieve at the helm of this madness? ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- An excerpt from the digital magazine "Corporate Insider." Interviewer: Gene Hilders Interviewee: Human Mammal Formally Known as Alex, lead designer of the Themis Class frigate. Gene: "It's lovely to sit down with you, Human Mammal Formally Known as Alex. Is it okay if I call you that?" Sphere: "No need for such formalities, Gene. Simply call me 'Sphere,' as it is my ultimate aspiration to be as immutable and formless as a ball. I have taken great care in removing any non-symmetrical aspect of myself, and it is why I am wearing these featureless, latex overalls. If we are to create true art, we must become art ourselves." Gene: "A fascinating take on your occupation, Sphere. In regards to your work, may we speak about the spacecraft you presented to the Board?" Sphere: "Of course. It is our greatest achievement as an art school. Warships, Gene, are built for purpose, and the viewers of said vessels are never taken into consideration. Thus it is why many great machines of war are ugly, gray bricks; incapable of enrapturing the observer with anything but their brutal power. What better purpose they would have, were they to inspire other emotions? Are we but automatons incapable of invigorating combat with the immeasurable power of art? I doubted this. Hence, I brought my College to bear, and we created a unique, beautiful vessel." Gene: "I have read that there were a number of changes to the original design before it was presented. Care to elaborate for our readers?" Sphere: "Sadly, yes. Even unshackled creators such as ourselves must pay a toll to the peddlers of pragmatism. Engineers we hired to aid us unbalanced our design. For instance, the meditation hall was replaced by an extra engine, the star-viewing ports were exchanged for two large laser weapons, and (most grievously of all) the micro-theatre was thrown out in favour of a secondary reactor. It pains our artistic temperaments to the very core, but art is pain, so our suffering will lead to greater works." Gene: "One last question, Sphere. It came to our attention just before this interview that the Hades College of the Arts was suffering from a lack of funds. Was this the reason you chose to involve yourself in the Corporate Fleet Design Contest?" Sphere: "The common slob fears true art, Gene. They wrestle with simplistic notions of 'beauty,' when it is the artist who defines such things! We lacked patrons for our works, because popularity of simple works far outmatch innovative new realms of artistry. The royalties from this post-post-post-post-post-modern, demi-cubist project will ensure our ability to capture the imaginations of Hades for decades to come!" Gene: "So, you did it for the cash and PR?" Sphere: "... Yes." Excerpt Ends The Themis packs four 12-metre, forward-facing laser-lances. Each one calibrated for greater energy efficiency and faster firing speed. For this purpose it has a secondary reactor in order to power the guns without stressing the core reactor. Though it only boasts basic deflectors, the Itoron-steel hull offers adequate protection from anyone who would fire ordinance towards it. Six small, twin-linked laser-lances act as point defence from fighters that get too close. Beneath it, twelve rocket-pods of Anopheles Swarmer Missiles would ensure that no shield or point-defence would stop an assault. For it's odd shape, the ship was still more than deadly. Action Points 4AP by default, 4AP via trade, 4AP due to being an 8th Crusade Port, 3AP from Sectors, 1AP from population, 1AP from Industry, 1AP from Business, -The time has finally come. Hephaestus, in all its decades of being an independent business-nation, has never once personally constructed a warship. Despite being surrounded by allies aplenty, the Board, Steven Penrith, and the swathe of advisers and employees beholden to them, have put in an order for a huge number of military vessels. Unlikely to be completed for quite some time, the substantial order of Eight Themis-class frigates are put into production for the first year. (-16AP) -A new class of businessmen are recruited on Hades. Specifically organised to bring a friendlier, PR-boosting face to Hephaestus operations around the galaxy. Named Hephaestus Efficient Requisition and Marketing Economic Syndicate (HERMES [What a coincidence!]) are brought in to do what a large number of other marketeers failed to do--gain a market share in the Aurora Technocracy. The Corporation expresses interest in protecting and absorbing Aurora, mainly due to the wide array of laboratories and scientific institutions present on their worlds. The Corporation offers to not infringe on their way of life, with the exception of all marketable infrastructure and businesses privatised and incorporated. In addition, taxation on individuals would be removed entirely, and many laws and regulations would be thrown away for the benefit of businesses and individual liberties. However, Hephaestus promises to not only keep the multiple scientific institutions 'state'-owned, they also promise to expand them dramatically for the benefit of the former technocracy's scientists. Though Hephaestus does not yet have a fleet, they were in the process of constructing a huge swathe of vessels for the Corruptor War. With the technocracy's science, and Hephaestus' production power, the research and profits could be exponential. Hephaestus was their closest neighbour! They had been in SATO together! They had only good intentions towards their possible future partners! An advertisement campaign is designed by the HERMES agents to bring across these points to Aurorans with real sincerity. At the end, it asks "What would YOU like to see from a potential Hephaestus/Auroran merger?" along with a mailing address to the closest HERMES admin centre. (-2AP) -After seeing the cute, fluffy bunny-things in the Alpine planet, the new colonists are suddenly, keenly aware that rabbits in mountainous environments seem oddly similar to an ancient Earth comedy film. Though most bat off the fear as simple, earth-bound superstition, a group of colonists take time to catch one of the rabbit-creatures and examine it carefully. Just in case... (-0AP)
  8. Onwards [Sci-Fi Nation FRP - RP]

    No Job too Big, or too Small! The journey to the great and powerful Ka'cezh Empire was long, and harrowing. Great wonders were viewed the crew of the Grgl Gondola and the accompanying diplomats from the Free Human Technocracy--vast complexes of capitalism. Snail-like creatures that slithered upon the ground, Dyson spheres and the beauteous homeworld of the vast, elder empire. And so they received their audience with the Star-Lord of this great and unfathomably powerful nation. They gave their presentation of logical, factual arguments to the all-powerful being. The best they could manage, and they themselves considered it more than convincing. Except the Star-Lord did not respond well to their arguments. Despite the clear, oncoming doom targeting both South and (eventually) the North, the lethargic, languid Star-Lord simply denied aid, stating only that the Corruptors were endless, and it was the problem solely for the south. Clearly, the Hephaestus Board came to the truest rational conclusion that the Star-Lord was wimpy little *****-- a wimpy little ***** with one too many Corruptor-booboos inflicted on him. Though the Board agreed that the undisputed ruler of the most powerful nation in the galaxy was a total *****, they also agreed that this was an obvious flaw with autocracies in general. They made a note to themselves that if the next great battle was lost to the Corruptors, a built-for-purpose transmitter would be set up, beaming a constant stream of casualty statistics. At the end of the statistics would be a number of juvenile insults directed at the Ka'cezh and its impotent leader. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Deep in the ever-changing maze of factories and businesses, a second grey obelisk stood perpendicular to the towering bulk of the Hephaestus Corporate Administration Centre. It was not a building anyone paid too much attention to, but all employees knew what it was, and why it was there--Enforcement Headquarters. This compound was where the Hephaestus Enforcers were trained, and coordinated. Today, new recruits were being ushered into the main training hall, far away from the hustle and bustle of the business outside. It was almost silent within the structure—for most Hades-dwellers, it was something they rarely experienced. At the far end of the hall, a human stood on a stage with a group of different aliens standing to attention behind her. She observed the recruits pile into the room like a great wave. The greenhorns were always eager to grab a rifle and start ‘Enforcing.’ Many shareholders and employees thought it was easy work and a good place to start in the security industry. Sometimes they were burned-out wage-jockeys looking for a break from The Race. After all, the Enforcers took anyone, and turned them into multi-purpose tools. A little-known fact is that once a person joined the Enforcers, they were very unlikely to leave. High Commander Sophia Briarwood stood on the stage, and waited for the recruits to calm themselves. She was a tall woman with jet-black hair, and piercing, green eyes. Her features were grizzled and pock-marked with wounds from both kinetic weapons and laser-bursts. Variations of her oncoming speech were given to new recruits since the old days of Earth, when Hephaestus had only just purchased their first troubled country. She hadn’t been born yet, of course, but tradition stated speeches like this were given almost from the formation of Hephaestus Continental Security. Each time it felt like leaving another etch on Corporate history. “Welcome,” she began, beaming a smile, “to the Enforcers.” Skulking around the stage, she took a moment to choose the next part of her speech. Many of the lower commanders took turns proselytising to the recruits, but she insisted on doing it herself now and again. She felt it reminded her of what she worked for, and kept her grounded. “The Enforcers are a proud tradition, and a profession that can take you into many different fields. An excellent mark to put on one’s CV, and good PR to boot! You have made a fine choice.” Commander Sophia glanced to the back of the hall, while fully-inducted Enforcers slowly shut the doors with an audible creak, and a closing ‘bang.’ The sound was intentional—the mood needed to be set. Predictably, the recruits looked back to the door, and between each other in confusion. “However, working here is not really the same thing as being employed in a bank, or factory. We do things differently. But that is due to our history.” “When the old Government of Australia was purchased, so was its military. Naturally, it was absorbed into the budding Security forces, but a soldier is a construct of a nation. They are founded on patriotism and pride, and throwing them into an organisation that could be best described as highly-armed rent-a-cops, well...” She shrugged with a smile. “... let’s just say there was a crisis of faith amongst the troops. What they needed was a new vision. A new philosophy to fight for and protect.” “What is Hephaestus, ladies and gentlemen? It is a business wherein a group of individuals purchase the labour of others, for the purpose of making profit for themselves. It is self-serving individualism by nature, and the greatest force for prosperity ever imagined. So long as there is scarcity of resources in the universe, private enterprise will always be the best way to distribute it. But Hephaestus isn’t a business, my friends. It hasn’t been a business since the old countries were purchased. It still acts as if it is, but it is a country—no, a nation--that has accidentally made itself the greatest haven of prosperity and liberty in the entirety of the galaxy.” Sophia smiled at the confused looks from the myriad of recruits. There were of many different races present, though the humans looked the most puzzled. They always were. “In one of those good fortunes that sometimes touch us sentients, free-market economics ultimately supports individual liberty. In Hephaestus, you can rise to the very heights of success and power if you have the will and ability to do so. Not through demagoguery, not through force, but through pure merit. The Enforcers are the screws that hold this nation together. We are ignored because we want to be. We are irrelevant in Corporate decisions because we do not need to be involved. We keep order so that prosperity may be achieved by any who wish to make Hephaestus their home. We are guardians of our people’s liberty. We are the quiet, impartial arbitrators that ensure that all may rise to their manifest destiny. We take pride in our service to ultimate freedom. But before you too take part in this, you will need to be properly inducted. That can take some time.” A loud ‘clack’ sounds from the door as the Enforcers manually lock it. There was much work to be done before they could become true Enforcers, and for that, they needed privacy. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Action Points 4AP by default. 4AP through trade. 2AP from sectors. 1AP from industry. 1AP from population. -The marketeers on Aphrodite declare the time has come for a massive push into tourism. With the galaxy at war, no doubt many aliens would be seeking time away from the fear and drama of their foolish governments. A huge construction project begins on an ultra-resort--affordable for all comers, with greater luxuries available for higher prices. Truly, a Hephaestus staple. (-9AP) -The Hephaestus engineers were tasked in making a cost-efficient missile-system for the future corporate fleet. Designed specifically for overwhelming point-defences and shields, the missiles would be smaller, but launched in huge numbers. (-3AP) -After receiving the colony ship from the Han Dominion, it is thoroughly checked by Hephaestus agents before being loaded with colonists towards... somewhere. Somewhere to the south-west of Hades. Wherever looks pleasant to settle, really. Or if there are decent resources present. Honestly, the people on the vessel just wanted to forget about the war and concentrate on simpler things. (-0AP) -The stasis-tech corruptor "cure" from the Protorians is shared with the Grgl and Tassarans. Many medicinal subsidiaries groan and gnash their teeth at the loss of potential profits. (-0AP) -"Project: Lemon" is concluded. For now.
  9. RP Default - Times changed

    This is why you need a rolling system. At least a light one. You cannot free-form RP fight unless someone is willing to lose, and that is not something that happens much any more.
  10. Onwards [Sci-Fi Nation FRP - RP]

    Efficient Posts are our Second Speciality!! Action Points -'Project: Lemon' (-4AP) -One final effort into a Corruption treatment is made. With their jobs on the line, the biologists put their all into the project. They focus smaller--looking for a way to treat the infection in its earliest stages. From laser-amputation to prayers, they bring as much information and talent to bare. Anything they can manage, really. The Corporation offers "free samples" of the Corruptor's collective corpses to anyone willing to research a treatment for it. (-4AP) -Hephaestus engineers are tasked with calibrating the new, heavier-duty laser-variants to be more energy efficient. No need to waste volts, after all! (-4AP) -A licence to produce Tithonus, Alastor, and Eurus designs are offered to the Grgl and Tassareans. The situation is dire, so the Corporation considers it an 'investment.' (-0AP) -Hephaestus Enforcers are deployed on double-shifts, and ordered to prepare for possible riots in Corporate space. The Corporation reminds all of its denizens that aggressive actions between shareholders will result in the termination of their employment (basically exile). (-0AP) -In a desperate bid to secure aid against the Corruptors, Hephaestus and the Free Human Technocracy travel to the Northern reaches of the galaxy in order to find someone, anyone, willing to do something. (-0AP)
  11. Onwards [Sci-Fi Nation FRP - RP]

    Hephaestus Enterprises If You can find a BETTER Deal on Droids... ...Just Kidding! You WON'T! The combat droids activated, and began their stoic, clattering march out of their transport freighter. The Tassaran capital was beautiful this time of year, and the plains were perfect for unpacking war-machines. Rond watched with beaming pride as more of his personal army, with greater discipline and harmony than any biological soldier, moved in perfect formation. In vast square blocks, they arranged themselves for inspection. It was a beautiful sight--twenty-thousand combat droids all under his command, and awaiting his orders to attack his enemies. Looking back to his training, he couldn't imagine himself commanding this much authority. As an officer in the Redon Imperium he was overlooked whenever another royal-blooded member of his misbegotten family entered the scene. He trained his hardest, outdid the whole regiment in multiple fields, and yet all it took for someone to counter his successes was to be born closer to the throne. That's why he had to go. He could not be constrained by his name any longer. If he was going to succeed, he needed a place where people could thrive on skill alone. That is when he found the Corporation. Rond began a slow walk down the column of droids, admiring his metal warriors. That was another thing he liked about robot-soldiers; they didn't mind if you kept them in a pretty formation for hours on end. He wondered briefly if he could give them swords, and re-enact ancient battles from the homeworld? That would be something to behold. He could probably turn a profit from it too--offer tickets, set it in an arena, holo-record it and sell it for a pay-per-view subscription service. He could run ads between rounds as well! That would easily cover costs and put more money in his pocket. Maybe then he could use that money to build a factory so he could make the droids, and design them to his own specifications! He could out-do those Cooper & Sons hacks any day of the week. Though, he would need raw resources as well. Perhaps investing annual funds into off-planet businesses would maximise returns on the- Rond clasped his head for a moment, and sighed. His 'episodes' were getting worse. Some days, he could think of nothing but ways to invigorate his PR. Was there something in Hades' water supply that made shareholders slavering capitalists? He had to stop himself from buying a majority stake in a construction subsidiary. He had no time to manage businesses, damn it! He was supposed to be a soldier, crusading on the far-rims of civilisation against an ever-growing and nightmarish threat of mutating, genocidal beasts! He rubbed his eyes, and walked quickly on from his droids. Gazing at them had lost its appeal. The Royal Guard were performing combat drills nearby. He felt at home walking among his fellow Redons. The camaraderie was thick in the air--and not a single voice spoke of markets, or values, or deals. The men bowed low as he passed, and some jokingly called him by his 'Hephaestus name' of Red Prince. And yet... ... something didn't feel right, here. His days in the military academy were long over, and now these men felt alien to him. All the conversations he overheard about deployments, personal feats of courage and daring, valiant last-stands, and jovial cheers to the life and glory of the Redon didn't move him like they used to. When he thought of the Redon, all he could imagine were the swathes of family that passed over him. When he thought of the Imperium all he saw were cousins, who had worked half as hard as himself, receiving a free ride into important postings. And only because their mummy or daddy was a Lord of this sector or a minister of that government. It was a sham. Kings, lords, governments--they were all a damnable sham. They spoon-fed their own children and brought them up without challenging their abilities, or ideas. The royalty were grandiose warriors, but how long would they remain that way without a major war to test their abilities and leadership? In the midst of his existential quandary, he looked to the sky, and saw another transport gently floating down from the atmosphere and towards the droids. No doubt these would be the first units of Eurus Artillery Vehicles he had requisitioned. And with the vehicles came the human crew that would charge their very silly vehicles across the plains of Tassarea, and beyond. He smiled to himself. At last. People he could relate to. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ With yet more wasted resources on the Corruptor-infection cure, CEO Steven Penrith stated quite loudly that if they cannot deliver results next time, there would be figurative rolling heads moving across the figurative floor. Angry about the considerable investment with no return, he gets into a drunken stupor before calling his wife/secretary Sally to comfort him. She proceeds to comfort him for most of the day. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Action Points: 4AP by default. 4 AP through trade. 1AP from population. 2AP from controlled sectors. 1AP from industry. -The Board comes to the sad realisation that, once again, the corporation has to do the hard work and research new weapons themselves. Since the powers-that-be refuse to even share the barest information on what they merely use, the corporation itself will have to develop new weapons from scratch. Just like in the Corruptor War, just like laser-weapons, just like in life, Hephaestus had to do everything itself. The Corporation looks into developing new energy weapons. They stray away from disruptors, as they consider them to be far too expensive, and instead look bigger. The Board chooses to put resources into designing a heavier, high-power energy weapon. Something more suited for vehicles or ships. (-5AP) -More Eurus Artillery Vehicles are manufactured for Tassarea, and sent out post-haste! (-3AP) -'Project: Lemon' (-4AP)
  12. Onwards [Sci-Fi Nation FRP - RP]

    Hephaestus Enterprises Prices SLASHED on Missiles!!! The Hephaestus marketing department advertised the planet Aphrodite as "the most beauteous orb to grace the galaxy." Rond wasn't all that convinced. He had seen a dozen worlds with just as pleasant biospheres. Big subsidiaries were pumping money into a grandiose resort, set on the planet's equatorial beaches. The project's scope was monumental, but the lead subsidiary was dogged in their drive to turn the planet into the ultimate luxury getaway, for only a fraction of the regular price. Rond rubbed his eyes--his own thoughts were beginning to mirror the incessant advertisements played on Hades. He was procrastinating, of course. He desired a little more time before he had to go and face the scientists and engineers working on their newest toy, the "Eurus" artillery vehicle. Having seen some pictures of the Eurus' design, he was not hopeful. With a sigh, he zipped up his fly and marched out of the bathroom. Outside, his two Royal Guard stood stoically on each side of the ‘port-a-potty' door. They were unwilling to leave his side at any point, and it was beginning to make Rond feel paranoid. Could he not be trusted to relieve himself without without injury? Perhaps they feared a Corruptor incursion infiltrating through the toilet bowl, and striking his- "Dad! Dad! Look!" A voice cried, tearing Rond's attention away from his moping. Barely at waist-height, a small human child hopped up and down in front of him frantically pointing with wide eyes and a matching grin. "It's the Red Prince! The Red Prince!" "So it bloody is, little Johnny!" A short, mustachioed human quickly rushed towards Rond with an outstretched hand. "Good to meet you at last, mate!" The human hand-shake was a gesture he was still not used to. Still, he had grasped the basics of it after 'shaking' the hand of everyone he met on Hades. Many executives seemed adamant that a shareholder’s efficacy could be judged solely on their ability to grasp another’s hand. It was hard to argue with them, considering how far the Corporation had come. The short man grasped Rond’s hand and shook it twice with a firm grip. “Penrith’s the name, mate! Steven Penrith! CEO of Hephaestus! Your employer, remember?” A round of laughter from observing shareholders quickly made Rond feel self-conscious. Steven flashed his winning smile to those around before taking a step back. “Come with me, mate! We’ve got a seat in the nicest tent. They’ve got real tea there. Imported! The good stuff! Once we get the recipe down we’ll probably grow our own around here somewhere.” Rond momentarily pondered if tea had ‘recipes’ before following on, flanked by his guards. The testing ground was a vast, emerald valley that stretched hundreds of kilometres around. Pre-fab buildings were erected next to one-another housing scientific equipment, reporters, engineers, and finally a refreshments tent. Three, floral armchairs were arranged on a thick, homely rug beneath a Hephaestus-blue open-air tent. Three butlers with a multitude of refreshments stood by the entrance as Steven, Johnny, Rond, and the two royal guard marched beneath it. “Sit down, mate! Let me tell you about this new project.” Steven dropped into his armchair with a sigh-- momentarily showing his age-- before his smile returned. “See, the engineers reckoned a fast, cheap artillery unit would be damn useful for you boys on the front. A manned one, too! First non-droid weapon to make it into combat. A Hephaestus first! Here, Johnny, lets get you some lunch, hey?” The child hopped up and down on his chair while talking to one of the attending butlers. “Can I have sandwich, please?” Steven folded his arms, and tutted. “Sonny, what did I tell you when talking to the 'help'?” “Don’t say ‘please’ unless you respect them?” “That’s right, matey. ‘Please’ and ‘thank-yous’ are for important clients or big-whigs you don’t want to annoy. Now, what do you say to the server?” Johnny furrowed his little eyebrows and hoisted up his chin proudly. “Grab me a sandwich, would you mate? Cheers.” With a loud laugh, Steven reached over and ruffled the boy’s hair. “That’s my boy! You see that, Rond? A true-blue Aussie, right there. He’ll make one hell of a CEO, I reckon!” Rond pondered what ‘Aussie’ meant. The humans of Hephaestus had far too many colloquialisms to keep up with. He assumed it was praise of some sort. “Will the test begin soon, Mr Penrith? I do not wish to sound rude, but I’d like to return t-” “Yeah yeah, Rond, mate. It’ll be starting soon. First, our tea. Go get us two cups, would you mate? Cheers.” Steven waved away another butler dismissively as he offered synth-wine and a plate of lamingtons. He began squinting off into the distance in thought. “Quite a performance from you on Tassarea, Trazur. You’re good at what you do. Professional. I respect a professionals.” The butler returned with a silver platter, bearing a porcelain teapot and two cups with saucers. “Would have been nice if you told us about your ah…” Steven glanced up at the two royal guards looming nearby warily. “... connections to the Redon leadership. It would’ve made good branding.” Steven watched as the butler poured the black tea slowly, holding the porcelain with a delicate grip. Rond shuffled in his armchair uncomfortably. He’d hoped that the Board would ignore his royal lineage. He especially hoped that the CEO wouldn’t pay any attention to it. He absolutely, especially had hoped he would never have to meet the CEO. Knowing Hephaestus, he could only imagine how far ‘good branding’ would go. They’d probably make toys in his likeness. “What the hell is this garbage?” Rond’s attention snapped back to Steven. The CEO was staring at his cup with a wince. “Christ, it tastes like mud! Where did we get this from?” The butler holding the teapot nervously approached the three. “It originates from the ‘Han Dominion,’ Mr Penrith.” “The Hun Dominion? I thought the Romans killed them. Bah! Nevermind. Throw this piss out and send the rest to Eddy Armathwaite. The pommy bastard will probably love it.” Steven slumped in his armchair and glanced over to Johnny, who stared at him with wide eyes. “Don’t tell your mum that you heard me say that, alright, kiddo?” Rond regarded the two with bemusement. The Hephaestus executives lacked the class and wisdom he had come to expect from the leaders of nations. This was the end result of a corporate state--buffoons paying experts to do the hard work for them. If only he went to Silver Knights instead, he might be part of a dignified fighting force... Then again, they weren't paid as much. An approaching rumble caught everyone’s attention; engineers and researchers rushed past the tent. “I believe the vehicles are approaching, Mr Penrtih.” Stated Rond, dryly. Steven clapped his hands together and wheezed out a short laugh. “Fantastic! Get a load of these little beauties, Rond!” Three of the bizarre Eurus vehicles barrelled past the tents and buildings at high speeds, while the employees frantically scribbled down notes and chattered excitedly to one another. The vehicles slowed and trundled back and lined themselves up before the tent. Hatches on top of the central compartments opened, and three pilots stuck their heads out to answer questions from the engineers. The systems would need to be scrutinised heavily before the Eurus would be allowed on a battlefield. They were designed to avoid combat with Corruptors with superior speed, then launch barrages of rockets towards enemy emplacements when safely out of range. It looked utterly ridiculous. How hard would it have been to add two extra wheels? Then it could at least move with dignity. The designers (from a civilian transport company, no less) maintained that two wheels lead to less traction on the ground, and therefore higher speeds. Rond was no physicist, but he questioned this assertion heavily. “Oi!” Steven waved towards the people flocking around the Eurus’, grumbling audibly the whole time. “Get to the live-fire test, already!” Steven turned to Rond with a sly smile. “Check this out, ‘Red Prince.’ It’s like fireworks.” The scientists and engineers scurried away while the pilots shouted commands and dropped down into their hatches. As the missile pods swivelled to the north, Steven began to rant. “You know how much those missile cost? ******* twenty-five credits a pop! We could fill up a whole freighter with the things and it wouldn’t even match a miner’s annual salary!” Some shouts from the researchers heralded the fire-test. With a hissing, deafening roar, ninety rockets thundered from their launcher-tubes off into the near distance. Great plumes of explosive fire erupted around a far-off patch of shrubs and trees. Native creatures scattered away from the noise, and black smoke wafted up from the charred ground. Rond imagined the corruptors burning in the fire of a single, three-hundred missile barrage. He imagined how many of his men might have lived on Tassarea, had he artillery support. Suddenly, he didn’t mind the vehicle’s appearance any more. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Action Points: 4AP by default, 4AP from trade 2AP from planets 1AP from population 1AP from Industry -With the approval of Rond Trazur the Eurus Mobile Artillery Vehicle is put into production. Along with a stockpile of missiles, Rond and his retinue would go with the vehicles and their crews back to Tassaran space. (-3AP) -Out of frustration, the Board grasps a hefty portion of their yearly budget, and throws it into one last attempt in finding a treatment for the Corruptor infection. At the very least, they seek a way to stop 'corruption,' rather than revert it. (-4AP) -"Project: Lemon" (-5AP)
  13. Onwards [Sci-Fi Nation FRP - RP]

    Hephaestus Enterprises Book Your Ticket to Aphrodite Today! To understand the method by which Hephaestus Enterprises created its war-machines would require a person to understand a bit of their history. Hephaestus once had a small number of military subsidiaries absorbed from its purchased nations on Earth. They weren't nearly comparable to the weapons industries that other countries brought to bare, but being amateurish hadn't stopped the Corporation before. Seeing markets to exploit in Europe they made a large (and risky) investment on the sub-continent, but found themselves outclassed and out-competed by older, established industries. Sales were very low, and the losses were near total. The subsidiaries were liquidated just before the Sun Announcement, and no weapons manufacturers made it to Hades. Therefore the Corporation let anyone offer designs. Everyone was an amateur, now. When the Board offered cash-prizes and manufacturing deals for good designs, many subsidiaries threw their hat in the ring. There were three things Hephaestus was looking for in an artillery weapon. One, speed—after seeing the Corruptor stealth-units exterminate the elite Silver Knights Special Forces, the Corporation did not want to risk fixed artillery. Two, simplicity—the corporation was not willing to waste money on war materials they couldn’t quickly replace. Expensive itoron shells were not an option. Three, coverage—the hordes of Corruptors would require a significant blast-radius. Accuracy was not important, only consistent, unrelenting fire. An up-and-coming transportation company brought the most bizarre design imaginable to the table. The “Eurus” Mobile Rocket Artillery Vehicle; a two-wheeled, missile-armed, strangely-proportioned war-machine. It certainly stood out, if nothing else. Armed with thirty rocket-pods and a forward-mounted, twin-linked Ares II Heavy Laser, it had projected speeds of up to 120 kilometres-per-hour. Its unusual wheel-angling system would theoretically allow it easier movement on multiple forms of terrain, while not necessitating tank-tracks. Its main weapon seemed almost like a relic—conventional, unguided, high-explosive missiles, aimed manually by human pilots. The missiles themselves were cheap though, and launched en masse. Prototyping and testing aside, the Board decided to take a chance. ------------------------------------------------------------------ The continuing presence of the Karass fleet in Corruptor space is met with a resounding silence from the Corporation. The Board does not appear to acknowledge their involvement at all, even when asked directly. All the Board members appear interested in is completing their contract with the Tassarans. Why they prefer to be silent on the subject is yet to be seen. Little Johnny Penrith turns five years old, and Steven is noticeably less involved in corporate affairs. He leaves his top three confidants to make the knitty-gritty decisions of Hephaestus. He seems to be interested in the development of his surprise son, and gives him a thorough business education. He takes him to see the very smallest of factories and micro-subsidiaries on Hades, and even lets him make his own little synth-lemonade stand on a street corner outside of Central Administration building (much to the cooing admiration of shareholders). The new colony ship is docked while seats are bid on by prospective colonists. This newest planet (named 'Aphrodite') is different from the last two, as it is the first planet claimed by the Corporation with a breathable biosphere. The mostly ignored agricultural subsidiaries rush to get a foothold on the new world. Among them is tourism-mogul Milly Price, clearly prepared for a grand project that has been in the works for some time. -------------------------------------------------------------------- Action Points 4AP by default, 4AP through trade, 1AP through systems controlled, 1AP from population, 1AP from industry. -Despite the war taking a turn against the Corruptors, Hephaestus stays true to their contract and continues the construction of Tithonus droids. Just as always they march into their containers to be shipped off to the front. (-2AP) -The Alastor droids are constructed in concert with the Tithonus, and shipped off with their peers. (-3AP) -The “Eurus” Mobile Rocket Artillery design is given over to the engineers for prototyping. Tests and further tweaks will occur before it’s put into any sort of production. (-3AP) -“Project: Lemon” (-3AP)
  14. Onwards [Sci-Fi Nation FRP - RP]

    Hephaestus Enterprises All SATO-Related Merchandise MUST GO!! Seriously. It MUST go. Just outside the Grand Cairo Casino, a throng of reporters had gathered. CEO Steven Penrith had been called upon to make a statement to the Hephaestus shareholders in order to calm investors and the trembling stock-market. Who was attacking what? Why were they being attacked? How? When?! Finally, the CEO walked out of the casino; with his account Phillip lumbering behind him. With his jovial laugh and wide grin, the shareholders immediately felt at ease. Steven paused for a photo opportunity in front of his podium, shooting finger-guns at the cameras—if Steve wasn’t worried, why should anyone else be? “G’day, everyone,” he began. He leaned himself casually on the podium, giving a playful wink to a camera. “How are you all? I’m doing pretty alright, myself. Well, I mean...” Steven leaned away from the microphone to perform a sarcastic wince. “... I am a little sad, you know? Someone’s got to feel bad for our competitors, after all!” The crowd erupted in hearty laughter. Steven still had his larrikin sense of humour, at least. “Nah nah. I’m just playing. There was a bit of a tussle between some of the human colonies. Namely involving a number of our associates in SATO, and a few wayward colonies near the outer-rim of the galaxy.” Steven adjusted his tie and grinned, though clearly he was more nervous than before. “Seems that ah, due to complications and a lot of backroom negotiations SATO is now officially disbanded.” A stunned silence blanketed the crowd. The veteran salesman picked up on this as his sharp eyes scanned the people, and spun his message before the first bewildered shout could be made. “But, hey! Out with the old, and in with the new, right? We and our ah, mates, at Silver Knights have come up with the ultimate branding deal! A way to show the galaxy that Hephaestus is still the most equitable place for deals! A way to make non-aggression marketable! Today, I’m declaring the creation of the business-friendly economic and defence partnership!” “The Free Economic Zone!” “FEZ!” The crowd collectively tapped their chins in thought. Snappy acronym. Good branding. Good PR. A round of polite, appeased applause reverberated throughout the gathered people. “Yeah yeah. So ah, in short, SATO’s dead, FEZ is here, and ah... ... yep. That’s it. Have a good one, folks!” Steven gave some more winning smiles and finger-guns, before retreating back into the casino. Phillip Narau calmly walked up to the microphone, and in his deep monotone stated; “No further questions.” He then quickly followed his employer into the luxurious hotel. Some shareholders were left a little confused. They had been with SATO for nearly twenty years, and the alliance had kept them safe from all comers. Now they were in a very big galaxy, and all alone as well. Maybe they could... Actually, they were behind on work. Who cares? They had their own problems. SATO? FEZ? What was the difference? It was someone else’s problem now, and they had places to be. And so, with neither great misery or joy, SATO died in the hearts of Hephaestus. And business went on as always. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ The Protocols of F.E.Z. (Free Economic Zone) Within the mountains of corporate jargon, a reader can translate the following points with a dictionary, an advanced economics textbook, and a copy of The Fountainhead. 1. The free market must never be constrained by government regulators. Doing so bars membership. 2. The non-aggression principle will be observed towards both members and non-members (unless hostilities are inevitable, or a very good price is offered). 3. Members will not interfere with the governments/executive boards of members or non-members. 4. Assured mutual defence in times of war. 5. All members must co-operate together to assure that public relations (PR) of the Free Economic Zone are not ruined by individual actions. Invitation and acceptance into the Free Economic Zone is judged on a case-by-case basis. Current Members: -Silver Knights -Hephaestus Enterprises --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The entirety of Hephaestus is absolutely shocked to learn that Rond Trazur is not only an experienced commander, but an actual member of the Redon royal family (his distance from the throne tastefully ignored). He and his retinue are brought back to Hades for special R&R. They receive the finest accommodations and services that any heroes could hope for. Entertainment fit for anyone’s taste was lumped on them in droves. Shareholders flocked to them like celebrities--especially Rond, which popular media referred to as the “Red Prince.” Whether or not Rond appreciated the attention was up for debate, as he was mostly preoccupied with recovering from his grievous wounds. Nevertheless, Hephaestus showed its appreciation duly, and sincerely. Hephaestus announces yet another design contest for an “artillery weapon” to support the growing droid-army. The experiences on Tassarea showed how useful long-range fighting could be against the horde. There would always be a need for conventional arms and, since “Project: Lemon” might be concluded quite quickly, they would have more that enough time for such things. A new frigate was delivered to Hades, with the Solarin skeleton crew departing on a transport freighter. A crew of trained Hephaestus naval rates took up positions on the vessel. They were uncomfortable with many of the unfamiliar systems, but they had plenty of time to learn. A few, awkward bumps against the space station were somewhat embarrassing for the crew, but at least it kept the observers entertained. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ AP Values: By Default: 4 Systems Controlled: 1 Population: 1 Trade Agreements: 4 -Due to most human spaceports being full of orders (or destroyed) Hephaestus begrudgingly begins construction on a colonial freighter. A company just cannot find good help these days. (-4AP) -The mines of Grand Ares are expanded further with little care given to waste management and the planet’s surface. (-2AP) -More Tithonus Droids are rolled off the assembly line, and marched onward to their inevitable deaths. (-2AP) -More Alastor Droids are rolled off the assembly line to support the Tithonus droids marching to their inevitable deaths. (-2AP) -The small freighter Grgl Gondola is sent out to survey outlying, unoccupied planets near the Hades system. This time they’re looking for any kind of world--A barren one like Hades or Grand Ares, a tropical one like that bear-planet (which Hephaestus decided not to bother dealing with) or a temperate, earth-like world. Just anything at all, really. Frustration was setting into the crew of the vessel, and it was high-time something was done about it! (-0AP) -Analysts are tasked with looking into information on varying energy weapons in use by advanced nations. In order to diversify Hephaestus armaments, they're looking specifically for energy weapons capable of creating an explosive effect, or something close.
  15. Onwards [Sci-Fi Nation FRP - RP]

    Hephaestus Enterprises What's the Secret to our Success? Find Out More in the Official "HE Business News!" The Life and Times of a Hephaestus Droid You are a rock. A part of your planet’s crust--a simple piece of iron amongst a great shelf of other metals. Simple, and un-moving for billions of years following the formation of your world. Great shakes, and shafts of searing light puncture the earth where you lay. There is no escape. Capitalism is coming for you, and your destiny is at hand. Huge, pneumatic shovels rip away your blanket of dirt, and you see your first miner. He smiles greedily upon seeing you. He will profit from your rocky flesh. A great tube is aimed towards you, and the burning heat of a laser melts your stone housing--dividing you into smaller pieces. Whether by hand, or with great mechanical shovels you are thrown into the cargo-holds of terrestrial flyers. You are flown at high speeds, far away from your mother mine to a great structure in the distance. There, many other transporters like yours dock for the same purpose. You enter the airlock of the structure (your world was not blessed with an atmosphere) where more sentients rush about with waivers, documents, equipment, and data-pads. No-one even looks your way as the cargo-flyer drops you and many other ores upon a great conveyor belt. Along your path, great mechanical arms scan you for your mineral composition, and less useful rocks are tossed aside. One of the great arms hovers above briefly, but you remain untouched. You trundle forward on the conveyor until you are dropped unceremoniously into a great freighter. When the doors screech shut, you are left in darkness. Much time passes. You feel sensations no rock ever should; warp-space, speeds never meant to be travelled, and the light of another world. The freighter empties its bowels of minerals upon yet another conveyor. All around you are smokestacks and factories, belching out fumes and smoke into the ether--another atmosphere-less planet. Such a waste. The heat of the steel-mill is intense, so much that the sentients within wear protective clothing. Throughout the building the hostile, fiery glows of molten iron tease of your ultimate fate. The conveyor ends, and beneath you is a terrifying pit of fire. You fall into it’s searing embrace and feel the impurities burn away, while the all-important iron melts into a glowing sea. You are super-heated, and poured into casts. You cool, and are heated a second time to be rolled into great slabs of steel. The workers smile at your final form greedily. They will make a handsome profit from your purified form. The steel plates are placed into new transports and flown through the great pillars of briney smoke. A manufacturing plant at the centre of many steel mills and factories churns out the blackest, foulest fumes of all--your destination. You and the rest of the steel are tossed upon a final conveyor belt. Mechanics slice you apart with drills, and heat you for a third time. With mechanical hammers you are shaped into parts resembling arms, legs, and heads. Your new body is pieced together from many different metals. Steel, aluminium, copper, and even a little gold. The servos and xylorite cells powering your new form rev and turn for the first time. Your new brain is installed. It tells you to listen, detect, and shoot. It also tells you to obey. The conveyor ends with a great room, bristling with laser-weapons and sentients. After a preliminary inspection, and making rudimentary checks on movement and tracking systems, they begin grafting a short laser rifle to your empty arm. You will be deadly, no doubt. Your servos power up properly for the first time. You hear the order from a man on a console nearby. March. Up above, on the gangway, several happy, smiling businessmen laugh and light cigars. They watch as you walk yourself into a container with others of your kind. They will make a grand profit from a war-machine such as you. The doors to the container are sealed, and blackness envelops. The sensation of warp-travel returns. You are meant for this, now. You are a Tithonus war-droid. You will bring death and destruction to ‘designation_corruptor’ species. Your visualisers know what they look like. Your weapon knows what power output is necessary to kill them. Your tactical interface knows what cover is best to hide behind. Anything else important will be handled by sentients. The blackness ends. Your sensors detect seismic disturbances nearby. Explosions. Shooting. Battle. A sentient sits in front of a simple, battered console. You and the others receive your first order. March, take cover, hold. Your leg servos groan into movement, and with the whirring of your electric limbs you sprint at the fastest operational speed towards the directed location. You run past the rubble of ruined buildings. Irrelevant to your operational parameters. You run past corpses of corruptors and sentients. Irrelevant to your operational parameters. You run past piles of corruptors, decomposing or still twitching. Irrelevant to your operational parameters. You arrive. Your tactical interface identifies many appropriate places for cover. You move into position behind a ruined vehicle while hundreds of your comrades spread out around other sturdy refuse. Your sensors detect sentients running towards you. Designation_friendly. Your weapon is aimed elsewhere. Many of them appear to have sustained damage. The sentients disappear down the path you entered from--they don’t spare you a glance. Sensors spike again. Significant group of designation_corruptor approaching. Your weapon adjusts its power-outage to compensate for the range. Your visualisers scan for movement among the buildings. The enemy appears. They do not attempt to hide or take cover. Droids blend in with the twisted metal and concrete of the landscape. They arrive within range, scuttling quickly on their many legs. Your visualisers identify the surest target--the information is relayed to the tactical interface, and then to your weapon. A fizzing, flash of light erupts from the end of your rifle and a corruptor falls to the ground, screeching. A second shot, and it is silenced. You detect energy bursts from your comrades. Many hostiles are approaching firing range. You identify another target moving over a shattered wall, and you fire. It crumples into a mass of burning flesh and boiling blood. Your third target is much closer. You fire, but it rushes to your right. Your burst burns off one of its legs. An angry hiss heralds its arrival behind your cover. The tactical interface instructs your servos to sharply angle your torso by 30 degrees. The corruptor’s strike scrapes across your chassis, but the damage sustained is minimal. Your weapon discharges twice into the creature, and it drops to the ground blacked, and writhing in pain. Sensors detect more movement, but as you pivot your weapon towards another target, the creature barrels into you. You fall on your back and your weapon is pinned down by the creature’s legs. Visualisers observe as the corruptor tears the head from your body. Visuals are disrupted. Sensors soon follow. The tactical interface hasn’t enough information to proceed with combat directives. Critical damage is detected in your chest, and electricity begins to ebb from all systems. The interface deactivates due to lack of power, and weapon systems are nonfunctional due to a lack of targeting data. The sounds of laser bursts can still be detected by audio before you shut down. Did you win? It doesn't matter. Your destiny is fulfilled. An excellent effort, for a rock. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The office of Steven Penrith, CEO of Hephaestus Enterprises, was silent. This was not in itself unusual, but it was extremely unusual when the office had three occupants. In the glamorously decorated space, Steven, Milly Price, and Jason Woolard sat around the great, mahogany desk, and gazed at reports from the Tassaran front. Each one of them had a whiskey in their hand, and each one was looking particularly morose. A hundred-million dead Tassarans. Direct attacks on Grgl systems. The war had seemed so far away, but now it was starting to drift uncomfortably close. Too close for anyone on the Board. “Maybe…” Jason mumbled, his chins jiggling with disconcert, “...maybe we could strike a deal with the corruptors?” “For the last time, Woolard, they don’t do diplomacy. Do they even have markets? Systems of worth?! Private enterprise at all?!!” snapped Milly. Of the three, she was clearly the most distraught. The thought of xenos that could change humans into monsters was something that kept her awake at night. “But how do they buy things if they don’t have deals? I’m just not following!” the rotund Mr Woolard howled. His frustrated gestures nearly knocked over his whiskey glass, but the owner was clearly not paying attention. Steven stared at the reports, quietly drumming his fingers along his desk. He remained motionless. Never had the CEO felt so powerless. The hulking mass of territory that the corruptors controlled, and the slowly shrinking sliver of territory the Tassarans were holding seemed insurmountable. He owned a big corporation. But what could a corporation do against that behemoth? The Solarin Federation and Imperial Republic were steadfast in trying to fight them conventionally. But even with all the tank-bots and powered combat-suits available to them, did they have even the slightest ghost of a chance at making a difference? Could 200,000 droids even give the mildest bit of aid? Steven wasn’t confident. The door to the office opened, and Phillip Narau, super-accountant, walked calmly inside. With a data-pad under his arm, the very slightest of smiles played across his lips. For Phillip, he may as well have been grinning maniacally, based on the amount of emotion he usually showed. “Good afternoon, everyone. I take it you’ve all seen the report? Relatively unfortunate, given our stake in the situation.” The hulking Maori pulled a chair towards the desk, and planted himself lightly upon it. “I believe I have a possible solution that may turn things more to our favour.” Steven furrowed his brow, but with a resigned gesture, he indicated Phillip to continue. “I have been communicating with our ‘friends’ at Silver Knights. And we agree on possible remedy to these incursions. Provided we’re willing to perform actions that some might call…” He paused briefly, searching for a word. “... unethical.” Steven carefully pushed his whiskey-glass aside, and exhaled sharply. “There’s no such thing as ‘ethics.’ Only PR, and results.” And with that, a morbid decision was made, and “Project: Lemon” was born. Action Points -More Tithonus Droids are produced and sent off to the Tassaran front to die in place of living soldiers. (-3AP) -More Alastor Droids are produced and sent off to the Tassaran front under the command of Rond Trazur. (-3AP) -Project: Lemon (-3AP) [MOD PLZ] -On a long, dull night in Laboratory Complex A, a scientist researching the Corruptor cadavers becomes intensely frustrated and in response becomes intensely drunk. He writes a long, rambling message intended for the Protorian Archiver, asking if there are any secret goodies in his archives about the corruptors, their genetics, a way to kill them, or a way to nullify their mutation effect. He also rants about his sex life for a few paragraphs, his wife not being as attractive as she used to, and how his co-worker, Brian Matthews, never shuts up about his holiday-condo in Habi-dome H-19. The rest is illegible, drunken rambling, but the message has all the official regalia of Hephaestus Enterprises, so it goes through un-vetted. (-0AP) Stats