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About Catostrophy

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

    Is Weapon Manufacturing the Next Boom Industry? Read More at HEPH-NET! The bright, tropical sun shone down on the pearl-white sand of Aphrodite’s beaches. The resort planet’s profits had gone down during the last batch of wars, and business had slowed down with yet another looming on the horizon. This was tragic for the hotel chains, but for someone desiring a quiet beach getaway, this was perfectly fine. The soft breeze and rolling waves were only broken by the gurgling of the baby happily grasping the finger of CEO Steven Penrith. Steven doted on the child since he first laid eyes on her, and wheezed out laughter every time little Sinchil smiled. His wife and secretary, Sally, also seemed pleased, though she was up to her third glass of wine since her future daughter-in-law Aleya had arrived. Johnny stared silently out towards the ocean while his father and fiancé talked. “We met during the first semester, my Johnny and I,” chirped Aleya. Her Terraskolarian accent reminded Steve of the French, and he had even mistaken her for a Thulean at first. “When he arrived at the academy, I was volunteering in secretarial work. I believe he made a pass at me, but I’m unsure. His Firstborn was quite eclectic." She giggled at the memory. "Soon enough, he joined the academy himself, and started appearing in the same lessons as I. Such a wonderful coincidence, no?” Steven nodded, though his attention was still plainly on baby. “Well we got to talking and the rest,” she looked to John with a soft smile, “well, the rest you can probably guess.” “Yeah yeah. We can work out the logistics of the situation, sweetheart.” Another round of wheezing laughter struggled its way out of Steven’s mouth. “I never thought I’d live to see grand-kids.” “I was so surprised to learn that John was not Terraskolarian. Our species are oddly similar in appearance, aren’t they?” Aleya smiled warmly as she joined Steve by the cradle. “I always wanted to be a mother. I am not a talented psionic, but I joined the academy anyway since my family insisted. But John, he is so talented. He dazzled everyone with his abilities...” “Yeah, I’ll be sending him back to that academy after the wedding. He needs to finish that education of his, don’t you Johnny?” Steven’s gaze broke from Sinchil, and wafted to John. His eyes had a dangerous gleam. “He’s a very responsible young man, and he’ll be working very, very hard so he can come back to his new family. Won’t you, Johnny?” “He’s going back?” Aleya looked between Steven and John with a forlorn expression. “I had hoped he would spend more time w-“ “No no no, lovey! We never waste an investment. But don’t worry—we’ll make sure you and the little one here will be very comfortable. Hades is a little ah, grittier than Aphrodite, but you’ll be in the lap of luxury. Besides, we can’t really afford to hold a properly lavish wedding or pay for his next round of education until next year. Bloody war.” Aleya immediately perked up. “So it means John will be here until next year?” “That’s right, sweetie! And I’m sure he’ll be very pleased to spend every moment he can with you. Because my John is a responsible, gracious fiancé. Aren’t you, Johnny, mate?" Johnny Penrith said nothing. His mother poured herself another glass of wine. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The monolithic HCAC tower loomed over the chaotic sprawl of factories, warehouses and businesses that littered the surface of Hades. Far above the wafting smog and milling throngs of traders, industrialists, and entrepreneurs, a man with the most difficult job in the Corporation was preparing himself for a drunken bender. Jim Bean, lead negotiator, lead accountant, and administrator for the HERMES program poured himself a glass of synthetic brandy. He wouldn’t usually indulge in drinking during office hours, but frankly he was at the end of his tether. His bloodshot eyes and the bags beneath them spoke volumes of his workload. The scattered papers and data-pads around his previously pristine office seemed to reflect the frustration and stress his job brought. He just had to hold off from drunkenness for just a little longer—he just needed to smile his way through the interview and then inebriated oblivion awaited. A gentle tap on his door announced the arrival of his guest. Jim quickly flattened his hair, forced out his smile and cleared his throat. “Come on in, mate.” After a few moments of fiddling with the door-handle, a small, orb-like creature skittered into the room. Its small, grasping mandibles were a little short to reach most human-sized doors, and it waited awkwardly in the doorway. Jim immediately stood up, and cheerily gestured towards the chair in front of his desk. “Sit on down Mr Gnrry- ah, Gnrruyg-“ “Do not worry, Mr Bean.” Boomed a deep, synthesised voice from the Grgl. Jim could hear faint chirps and gurgles beneath the voice’s unnatural sound--clearly the Grgl was using an advanced translator. It was possibly one of the new models that could translate inflections and tone, judging from how the voice sounded somewhat sympathetic. He could have sworn he heard a similar voice in an old sci-fi movie he saw a while back. “I understand that the Xaplonius standard speech is terribly difficult for your species. I have already chosen a new name that reflects the culture of Hephaestus Enterprises, and my desire to integrate myself further into the Corporation. You may call me Jimothy Sonjohn.” “Right, so ah, Jimothy.” Jim took a moment to gather up some of the papers on his desk, if nothing else than appear to be in control of his surroundings. “I’ve been looking over your accomplishments during the last few years. McPhaestus was a dying franchise, and you turned it completely around. You’re the owner of almost half the family restaurants in corporate space, am I right?” Jimothy bounced in his seat with a flurry of excited chirps clearly audible over the translation. “I am very proud of my efforts. Furthermore, I am deeply pleased that you have noticed.” “Hard not to, Jimmy my friend. Look, here’s the rub of the situation.” Jim Bean could feel the muscles in his cheeks begin to wobble. After nearly 36 hours of ceaseless smiling, they were starting to get tired. He needed to end this chat quickly. “Another war is gearing up, we have a whole heap of money going to different places, and I’m running three departments. I’d like to offer you the position of lead accountant.” The tiny grgl’s black eyes blinked at him for a moment. It’s mandibles covered its chirping mouth in what was possibly shock. “I am surprised. I am also bewildered. I am also frightened. I am also happy. I am experiencing oscillating emotions,” the translator boomed. “Ha! That’s fantastic, Jimmy-my-man!” Jim Bean tossed a data-pad towards the Grgl, who caught it clumsily. “Right. There are all the figures. You start tomorrow!” “Tomorrow?” The grgl exclaimed with a tinge of confusion. “This amount of time is simply too short to accustom myself to my new duties and-” “Yeah it’s great, huh? Straight to the grindstone! Nose right up in the arse of Corporate issues! You’re one hell of a team-player, Sonjohn!” Jim Bean quickly began to bustle the confused Grgl out of his office. “Give me a call in a week and tell me how it’s going, baby! We’ll do lunch! Really hash out the knitty gritty! Ciao ciao!” He closed the door before the grgl could utter another word. As the confused Jimothy quickly pitter-pattered his way off to his own office, the former lead account proceeded to get extraordinarily drunk. It appeared he’d be having a long weekend. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Action Points 4AP by default, 20AP from trade, 6AP from population, 10AP from sectors, 3AP from business, 6AP from industry, 2AP from the Trade Federation, 1AP from cargo capacity. 30AP from Redon Imperium (One turn only) Total = 82AP BONUSES: -Ravenous Industrialism: -5AP off industry investments, +25% manufacturing output. -National Idea, Peace: 1% extra growth on primary population. -What's better than a large manufacturing order from a massive and wealthy empire? Nothing. There was nothing better for Hephaestus. The Redons wanted 200,000 combat suits? They would get 200,000 combat suits by the end of the year, and then some!. The fumes from the factories begin to churn as resources are poured in to the billowing maw of Corporate industry. (-30AP) -All things must come to an end, much like good deals with good friends. Two hulking dreadnoughts are commissioned from the Han shipyards. (-24AP) -Tired of listening to the Thuleans incessant cries, The Board invests a modest sum of resources to their shipyard. If nothing more than to keep their solicitors at bay for another year. (-10AP) -War is a scary thing, and thus more money would be invested into the zappy-zaps that keep the bad things away. (-6AP towards Laser Cannons. Total of 50AP invested) -The discrete services of Kyber Core were much appreciated. The corporation pays them their dues, and makes a note to send a Christmas card to them at the end of the year. (-4AP to Kyber Core) -The maiden voyage of the MOVING MEGA-MARTS (TM) Affordable, and the newly modified Trucker Bill are planned. A trip to the Confederation of Xalponius is chartered to gauge the interest from xeno nations. A modest advertising campaign is played on Grgl media outlets advertising products, prices, and a list of planets they would be visiting. Tickets to enter the MEGA-MARTS would be 75% off to celebrate the first official outing... (-3AP towards business) -On the subject of advertising, another campaign is set up by the visiting HERMES agents on New Siam. Hephaestus was looking for employees! Meet interesting people, see exotic aliens, see the even more exotic escort agencies! There was something for everyone at Hephaestus! Leaflets are distributed to the Siamese, boasting the job opportunities currently available in Corporate space. (-2AP towards business) -Begrudgingly, the Board orders the limited manufacturing of Ares III laser rifles. They would be delivered (For FREE, no less. Outrageous...) to the Edonians upon completion. (-1AP) -A pittance is sent to the Han Dominion, in order to make up the extra cost accrued by the construction of two dreadnoughts. (-1AP) -The Sink Project. (-1AP) (Mod plesh)
  2. Onwards [Sci-Fi Nation FRP - RP]

    What YOU can make, we make 5-times Faster (And cheaper!)!! //Connecting_to: Heph-Net—Inter-Corporate Newsletter//... //Loading_Scripts//... //Loading_UI//... //Loading_DEALS!//... //WELCOME_USER: -- JimBOOMBABY//... //HEPH-NET: Inter-Corporate Newsletter\\ //--The Latest in Corporate News, and Employment Opportunities!--\\ Please Begin your OAP (Obligatory Advertisement Perusal) time, mandated by HEPH-NET user Contract sub-clause 88B1. VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV Hi, JimBOOMBABY! You are subscribed to adverts under tagged subjects: GUNS , SHOPPING , COFFEE , BLAGL_RESTERAUNT , BABES , ANTIQUING Tagged Subject: GUNS
  3. Small Map, One City (Map Idea)

    Hello. Mithradites here, former high elf dude, currently resident of the FRP section. I'm writing under a different profile because I can't remember the password to my old account. Okay, so a new map has come around again, and the usual arguments have sprung up. I.E. "The map's too big/small!" "Why is that race/guild getting a nation yet this race/guild isn't?!" "There's too many nations!" "Force others to unify!" etcetera etcetera etcetera. The yearly schlock, you know? What I don't get is why, despite the shrinking player-base and the generally tribal attitudes of the various player-groups, the server doesn't just stop with the pretension of nations entirely. I prefer expedience in my writing, so lets just get on with it. The Idea: Cut down the server to it's basic elements. You have a myriad of characters in a singular island-based city for some contrived reason and then let culture-shock and player interaction flow. As for why all the characters are there, I'm sure their players can come up with their own reasons. The lore team can fabricate a suitable story for the area, while the event team can perform events for a wider number of people. Add a little foresty and mountainy areas for ne'er-do-wells to hide in and you have a solid RP zone. Make the King of the city an admin so there's no divisive political nonsense (at least initially), and give the top government positions to newly-made characters specifically for this city. The Justification: -It will concentrate the playerbase in one area with an excuse to interact and not outright murder one-another. -It will make events available to a wider audience. -Most players gravitate towards a single city anyway in order to RP (Salvus, Sutica, etc), and this just cuts out the middleman. -It's a change of pace from the nation vs nation humdrum that permeates the server. It's something different. -The smaller sized map will free up the servers ram and things will run smoother (I think, anyway. I'm not a computer-man). -An orc/halfling romance will finally be possible. If you can't agree with this idea for your own benefit, could you at least agree with it in the name of love? That's the rub, folks. Vote on the poll or something, I guess. Blergh. XOXO
  4. Onwards [Sci-Fi Nation FRP - RP]

    Sign up for our Intern Program! Meet Exotic Sentients!! Several years ago, Hephaestus Enterprises purchased a system previously colonised by the PAR. It was a terribly silly place to colonise, really. Likely it had been a ploy to appeal to the Aurorans during the bidding over their colony. “See? We neighbour you too!” Excessive wastefulness was a hallmark of non-corporates. Though, being excessively wasteful was a hell of a lot of fun. “So the Krauts do the swap and leave, yeah? And my HERMES admin gal, Miranda I think her name was, figures that a good way to make the place feel ‘new and fresh’ would be to rename the planet. Guess what these grease-necked miners voted to name it?” Jim Bean, lead accountant and head of HERMES, sat in the chair opposite from Steven. His practised, toothy smile seemed to take up half of his rosy face. HERMES agents were known to smile for an unnaturally long duration, but no-one knew how they managed it. It was rumoured they had synthetic tendons planted in their cheeks, but Steve never saw any scars. “Bill! They named the planet Bill! I tell you, boss--that Aurora union really buggered our branding. Everyone wants to name their dumb planets after their dogs, or something. What next, a planet named after a cheese?” Steven looked down on the little mining colony below him. His air-car swooped over the pock-marked landscape where workers pushed their laser-drills into the itoron-rich earth. In the distance, freighters were carting off the ore to Grand Ares to be processed. The colony was still too small to bother doing it here. “Isn’t Jason supposed to be here?” Steven remarked, poorly masking the outright hostility in his voice. Jim was quick to notice this, and toned down his cheery attitude. “Mr Woolard is currently on Woolongong, sir. He’s preparing the payment to the Han-“ “Preparing the fuckin’ payment to the Han, hey?” Steven spat, his wrinkled face scrunched into a unpleasant scowl. “Buying up damn slaves-“ “Which you agreed to, sir.” “Which I was pushed into agreeing with, Jimbo. You may have convinced those dimwits on the Board, but you haven’t convinced me. This is a PR nightmare. Hephaestus Enterprises purchasing slaves?!” Steven rubbed his temples in exasperation. “My dad would be hounding you out of his office with a bullwhip.” Jim kept his gaze low and endured his employer’s fiery temper. “You listen here, Jimmy my old mate.” Steven glared at his accountant with silent fury. “If this hurts this Corporation’s PR, I swear to the Old Man, Christ and God himself that I will kick you so far down the ladder you’ll be sweeping streets on Aurora just to make ends meet. You understand? You live or die on this deal, Jim.” The rest of the flight was pretty awkward. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Action Points: -4AP by default, -16AP from trade (8AP x 2 due to federation), -5AP from population, -9AP from sectors, -3AP from business, -4AP from industry. Total = 41AP -[Redacted] (-4AP, total of 6AP invested) -Chiron Armaments, the manufacturer of the Ares series of laser weapons, feel that the brand is starting to lose its lustre. Despite several years of profitable ventures in the warship market, a fresh new rifle design is offered up. The Ares III: Not only will it have upgrades to power-efficiency and damage output, it would also include dual-firing modes. The simplicity of laser-weapons would theoretically make swapping crystal arrays equally simple. So why not have a laser-rifle that could be switched to a scatter-laser at the press of a button? (-6AP, total of 19AP invested in laser-weapons) -Yet more resources and technicians are sent to the Han Dominion for the construction of a battleship, and another heavy cruiser. (14AP) -Further improvements are scheduled for the Hephaestus laser-lances. There will never be an end to the improvement. They will be improved until there is nothing left to improve upon. (-10AP, total of 44AP invested) -The swarmer missiles are similarly improved alongside the lances. They are equally important for the corporate fleet, after all. (-5AP, total of 20AP invested) -Johnny is a very good young lad, and has high hopes for his psychic education. Though he succeeds in his studies, he feels unsatisfied with his seduction skills. He vows to double his efforts in macking on fly honeys. Money is sent to pay for his education, regardless of his peculiar tastes in extracurricular activities. (-1AP) -A new colony is founded on the planet "Parmesan." (-0AP) -Having established their section of GTC-East last year, the Corporation begins preliminary scans of former Corruptor territory around the outpost (within a 5 x 5 square) for salvage or other things of interest. (-0AP)
  5. Onwards [Sci-Fi Nation FRP - RP]

    Our Posts are Cost-efficient AND Fantastic Value!! As the last Ka’cezh warships finally departed Hephaestus space, the marketeers collectively sighed and gave their fondest farewells. “Come back any time!” –the phrase uttered the most by the businessmen, had a melancholy tone to it despite their best efforts to keep it cheerful. The capital obtained from the Ka’cezh was the stuff of legends, now. They were stories to regale young children with, along with the awe-inspiring fleets of warships that buried themselves in the blood and gore of the corruptor menace. The spiders were dead, but so were the profits. It was a sad end to a miserable war. And yet, despite the loss of money, despite the billions of lives spent, despite the hardships, the fear, and anxiety, they were finally safe. Every employee could sleep at night knowing that the monsters were slain. No matter who reigned in the galaxy, at least they weren’t mutating spider-men. In the words of the New Sephorites and the Maltese, ‘God be praised.’ Hephaestus ordered all synth-alcohol products to be marked down 50%, and proclaimed a yearly Corporate-wide celebration for the newly-named “Extinction Day;” the first (and probably only) sanctioned inter-corporate holiday. Streets filled with jubilant employees as spontaneous parties erupted in every city and Habi-dome. It was as if a horrible, heavy weight had been lifted off their shoulders. A new, pure galaxy awaited their children, and investment. But even in times of loss, there is profit to be made. The newest GTC outpost offered a number of less scrupulous individuals a unique opportunity. Tales from the Ka'cezh troopers revealed stories of dead civilisations buried in the masses of corruptor-corpses. A dead civilisation's trinkets would be worth a significant amount of money, and that was assuming there wouldn't be other things worth digging out of the dust and ash. Young Johnny begins his tertiary education. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Action Points 4AP by default, 16AP from trade (8 x 2 from prosperity bonus), 5AP from population, 9AP from sectors, 3AP from business, 4AP from industry, 7AP from USA (Single payment) Total = 48AP -The Corporation once more rings the doorbell of the Grand Aurora Institute of Technology. The laser-lances utilised by the Hephaestus warships require further improvement. Until the weapons were on par with the rest of the galaxy the corporation would never be satisfied. (-9AP, total of 34AP invested) -While they were there, they also requested improvements on their swarmer-missiles. (-5AP, total of 15AP invested) -Further resources are sent to the Han Dominion for the construction of one battleship and one heavy cruiser for the Corporate fleet. (-14AP) -Resources, technicians, and guards are sent off with the Trade Federation colonisation vessels in order to construct a salvage/trade operation at the new GTC outpost. The dead civilisations would no doubt hold plunder worth taking, even after the Ka’cezh were finished looking over it. (-10AP towards GTC-East trade station) -A new order from the United States of Arcturus; shiploads of resources are set to corporate warehouses in order to construct a number of Tithonus Mk. II combat droids. They would be delivered to US space upon completion. (-6AP) -A colony ship is ordered to be constructed. (-3AP) -Johnny goes to college, baby! Now, some people get scholarships to go to Harvard, but some of us have to grind through community-college in order to apply. Johnny may be an uncouth businessman, but he isn't stupid. He'd work his hardest and reward himself by hitting on the attractive Da'nor students. (-1AP)
  6. Fix Defender Default

    I always find it kind of goofy that the same arguments are still used throughout the years. I can't remember how many times I've read the "if you want to PvP go to a PvP server" and the obvious counter to that statement. Neither of them are good, by the way. From what I've seen the annoyances are also the same, except with "nexus" spread into it here and there. The obvious conclusion is that player-communities clearly have differing ideas about what armour and weapons can do in RP. Probably due to both communities being generally hostile to one-another OOC and unwilling to engage. So the best way to fix RP fights is to standardise an understanding of what weapons and armours can do, and doing the same for magic. Though really, a stat-based rolling system would be far more logical. Dungeons and Dragons isn't free-form for a reason.
  7. Onwards [Sci-Fi Nation FRP - RP]

    25% of all Proceeds to to Survivors of Tragic Conflicts! The titanic battleship soared across the Hades skyline, attracting the looks of many curious bystanders planet-side. They had not been informed of any warships in the shipyard that year, but the vessel was unmistakably corporate. It's odd blue tint and - frankly - obtuse shape were hallmarks of Hephaestus shipwrights at this point. Those aboard the shipyards and trade-stations around Hades could see that the vessel wasn't yet entirely finished. Large holes dotted strategic portions of the ship which would undoubtedly hold vast arrays of laser-cannons, lances, and missiles. As it docked with the Hades shipyard, dozens of tiny vessels started zipping all around it like irritable flies. Each one carrying weapons to be attached. The largest weapons, nearing one-hundred metres in length, were carried by a duo of small freighters. Looking out a window of her headquarters aboard the frigate Jin Jin, Amanda Phelps rolled back-and-forth on her heels, gleefully gazing at her newest toy. This was exactly what she had been hoping for when she had joined the Corporate naval program. Big, scary battleships with huge, shooty guns! She could barely contain her school-girl giggles as a colossal frontal laser-lance was gently guided into it's respective place. It was starting to look like a real warship, now! The beautiful warship didn't have a name yet, but Amanda had been given the honour of assigning it one (since the Board couldn't be bothered). She was giddy with excitement, and she had the perfect title for it. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The industrial district of Hades was constructed in the 2120’s under the premise of supplying more products to neighbouring colonies and alien nations. By 2143, it covered large portions of the planet, save from a surprisingly popular tourist-trap. Hundreds of billowing smoke-stacks poured choking smog into the vacuum of the atmosphere-less Hades. Strange mists produced by the ceaseless manufacturing wafted around the planet’s surface nowadays, creating a dream-like fog among the structures and habi-domes that dotted the planet’s featureless landscape. Deep within these cavernous factories, a father was talking to his son about mental health. “Dad, c’mon! Don’t make me go! I don’t want to go! I have businesses to run! I’m opening another two locations this month and I have to be p-“ John was cut off sharply by his cantankerous father. The CEO was not in the mood to be argued with. “Bloody hell, Johnny! I’m trying to do what’s best for you! Next year I won’t have any ownership rights to force you anywhere, you know! You’re going to see a psionic about these dreams you keep having!” Turning to his son, Steven’s face was marked with equal parts concern and irritation, as any good father’s should be. Today the two of them weren’t surrounded by HERMES agents, Enforcers, or members of the Board. Instead, the pair was skulking around the endless gangways of the industrial district's factories. “Don’t get on my nerves today, my boy. Firstly, that turd of a Firstborn Margek couldn’t be bothered to answer my call. That’s gratitude for you. What a waste of an investment.” Steven gestured dramatically around himself and roared with exasperation. “And now, bloody TERMINATORS are popping out of the ground and throwing together STARSHIPS just outside our property! Can you even imagine just how stressed I am, sonny?” John looked at his feet and stuffed his hands into his pockets. With his teeth clenched hard, he nodded slowly with a reddening face. Steven paused and stood in place for a moment and rubbed his temples with a vocal sigh. “Look, John. Like I said, I want the best for you. These dreams of yours are going to kill your PR one day -- especially if you have an episode like that last one again. Screaming and shooting your bedroom’s upholstery is not a way to deal with frustrating night-terrors.” John grumbled beneath his breath, and held back a flurry of rude words. Steven continued to gesticulate around himself with considerable gusto. He became quite melodramatic during meetings when he had nothing to shoot at. “I don’t trust that psychological tripe, so you’re going to see a space-wizard. There’ll be fewer paparazzi that way. The wizards will poke around in your head a bit, snip out the offending dream, and that will be that.” Steven gave John one more hard glare. “Understood?” With a grunt and a scowl, John agreed with a silent nod. “Good.” Steven turned around and marched down the gangway, yelling back to John through the steam and industrial noise. “Don’t forget to say goodbye to your mum before you go!” John leaned on the railing and stared down at the factory floor beneath him. The employees hadn’t even noticed he was up here. The rapidly assembled microwaves were being shunted off to their destination almost faster than the employees could put them together them. They clearly had very little time to observe their surroundings. The young man felt almost like one of the microwaves being sent off for quality testing – getting all the dings and flaws smoothed out before being shipped off. His father may just be worrying about the future of the company, but there was a machine-like compulsion from the old man to make sure his son was in perfect shape. It was like he was running on a schedule, or something. John rested his head on the railing, and groaned. Did psionics even work the way his father thought they did? Did his father know anything outside of business? And so John trudged back home to pack his things, and kiss his mum goodbye. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Action Points 4AP by default, 12AP from trade (x2 from prosperity federation bonus), 4AP from 8th Crusade, 5AP from population, 9AP from sectors, 2AP from business, 3AP from industry. Total = 39AP -Giving a year’s grace-period for the unfortunate events of the Eadni conflict to blow over, the Board orders the biggest PR-boosting advertising campaign ever put into practice. The subject of the advertising is - of course - war. Having their products exported just about everywhere, Hephaestus caters to individual nations in order to pull on the appropriate heart-strings. They wanted to show that Hephaestus was a 'family' business, and that most of all they were beings with feelings too. For the next three years in: -Tassaran space, 25% of profits from sales will be donated to injured veterans in the Corruptor war. -Grgl space, 25% of profits from sales will be donated to injured veterans of the Corruptor war. -Galaron space, 25% of profits from sales will be donated towards rebuilding devastated planets. -Karass space, 25% of profits from sales will be donated towards rebuilding devastated planets. -In Lithruan space, 25% of sales will be donated towards the Lithruan’s war-effort against the Keerim. -In Protorian and Redon space, 25% of profits will be donated to injured veterans. Hephaestus understands that war is a dreadful thing, but sometimes it has to be done. What matters now is picking the pieces up, and putting the galaxy back together as best one can. A process that can now be aided by purchasing Hephaestus products. (-16AP) -When you go to bed, what do you dream about, Pok/Czar? Unicorns? A well-cooked breakfast? A plethora of scantily-clad babes? No doubt you see plenty of fantastical things! Do you know what a Hephaestus miner dreams about? Mining. They love mining so much they may as well be dwarfs. Sometimes they have to get their wives/husbands to dress up like minerals just to get them randy enough for bedroom antics. Holy ****. They NEED that itoron, bro. They need to extract it DEEP from the QUIVERING mineshafts in THICK veins of minerals that dot the many worlds of Hephaestus. More mines are what they need on their itoron worlds. (-10AP) -With the Corruptor war winding up, Hephaestus deems it necessary to invest further into their economic presence. A new upgrade to the trade-station over Hades is ordered. (-10AP) -[Redacted] (-3AP) -Upon hearing about the sudden appearance of sentient robots, the Board makes no official statement. However, the nearest claimed systems to the robots are patrolled more regularly and thoroughly than usual. Clearly, they’re a little nervous about their new neighbour. (-0AP) -An open advertisement is sent out from the Corporation to anywhere in the southern galaxy where psionics congregate. The message reads as thus: “Son of wealthy industrialist seeking reputable psionic institution to help with troublesome dreams. Non-psionics need not apply.” Aside from the relevant contact information, all Hephaestus iconography is absent from the missive. (-0AP)
  8. Onwards [Sci-Fi Nation FRP - RP]

    Sign up for a Loan! We'll beat the Competition by 10%!! Sol-year 2142. The year the Holy Kingdom of Eadn collapsed. High Commander Amanda Phelps stood on her bridge, counting down the minutes before the Corporate fleet appeared in PAR space. This would be her first operation after nearly two years of pedantic drills and exercises. Her crews were prepared, her shields charged, her weapons ready. It was time to prove to the galaxy that Hephaestus was tough enough to ward off aggressors against free-association. This was not what Amanda was worried about--she knew her forces were entering a fixed fight and victory was assured. She was worried about what she was going to say. Amanda was not a good public speaker. She could bark orders like a champ, but speaking in front of crowds gave her the jitters. Her hands were clasped tightly behind her back to hide the clammy sheen of sweat that was quickly forming on them. What could she say? When the combined armada arrived, Amanda had been given orders to tell all ships other than the Eadni vessels to leave. Those that ran would not be attacked. She'd been told to say "something along those lines. You'll figure it out." She wished she'd been given a script. She was terrible at writing things. That's why she joined the Enforcers in the first place, damn it! Should it be a speech, or just a singular statement? God, if only she had more time to prepare! How could she, though, with the frantic orders she had been assigned? The USA fleet was already on its way, and if they were going to enact the ambush the timing had to be precise. "Ten seconds, Commander!" a technician called from his console. "All hands, prepare for real-space arrival. Repeat--all hands, prepare for real-space arrival." The automated call sent several troopers rushing down the hallways to their assigned places. Last calls for energy-cells and weapon calibrations could be heard throughout the ship. "Five seconds!" She needed something! Anything! The sweat was starting to pool around her collar. She couldn't even speak to acknowledge her navigator's reports. The ship shuddered, and with what felt like her stomach briefly free-falling, they re-entered real-space at the edge of the Utopie system. Reports started coming in immediately. Damage reports for the amassed THC ships was devastating. Images of burning capital-ships filled up holographic displays in front of her. Broken formations and heavy comms traffic clearly indicated the opposing warships were in no state for a fight. Still, their fleet was quite formidable. At least, it used to be. Whatever inspired the Thuleans to perform such a betrayal, it must have been worth it. "Opening a channel now, Commander," the communications officer said. "They can all hear you." Time seemed to stop. Amanda had nothing - absolutely nothing - to say. It was like all her worst nightmares from school coming back at once. Like that sneering ***** Clarissa teasing as little Amanda stumbled through a page of The Fountainhead. The whole class started to laugh. It took the teacher a full minute to keep them from giggling, but by then her confidence was completely gone. The time had come. Either she spoke now, or the embarrassment would grow. Some of her techies were staring at her now, expectantly. She lightly pressed the button on her personal console and spoke in monotonous, calm tone despite herself. "All those other than the Eadni who leave now will face no repercussions. Those that stay will face..." Her mind went completely blank. She needed to finish the statement but she had trapped herself into a grammatical hole. 'Those that stay will face'?? Why did she start a sentence like that?! It could have been so much easier! She needed a word. Think! Think!!! "...downsizing." She rasped. Due to her nerves, her teeth had been clenched, giving a deep, growling inflection to the word. Her crew nodded and smiled approvingly. She sat down in her chair, and flicked the button off. The Hephaestus fleet moved forward with the USA's, and won an easy victory. Though, the fight was always the simple part. Amanda would have preferred to fight a battle against a fully active fleet than speak to so many at once ever again. She called up the quartermaster, and requested a sandwich to celebrate the victory. He reminded her that he didn't make food. What a nuisance, Amanda was. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Upon the condemnation of the human colonies, Hephaestus makes no comment. No doubt business would be effected by the harsh rhetoric, but the Corporation plodded on as they always did. Without the THC looming in the near-distance, the Board at least felt safer. The Eadni fleet bombarding the PAR's capital out of spite was all the employees needed to remain free of guilt, though some quietly regretted the loss of life the Eadni suffered. Several federations crawled out of the former THC, like maggots from a corpse. With FEZ being reconstituted with (mostly) previously unaligned parties, they looked towards consolidating their own wealth. Just like always. After helping to free the firstborn Margek from his stasis pod, Steven officially announced his return to life in precisely the way you would imagine--in an advertisement for the Aphrodite Ultra-Resort. Apparently he had been recovering from a shrapnel wound to his head from the HCAC bombings two years back, and didn't want to leave investors in limbo if he went through a slow death. Like ripping off a band-aid, he wished to push a new Board in place so that confidence and stability in the market could be achieved earlier. Most shareholders accepted this version of events as simply the act of an eccentric veteran businessman wishing to protect his company. Behind closed doors however, whispers of him appearing out of nowhere in a white suit were a favourite topic for conspiracy enthusiasts. And people still couldn't explain the testimonies of him not being present for the negotiations during the bombings... -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Action Points: 4AP by default, 12AP from trade (+prosperity federation bonus), 4AP from population, 4AP from 8th Crusade, 3AP from industry, 2AP from business, 9AP from sectors. Total = 38AP -A huge sum of cold, hard cash is sent to the Han dominion for the purpose of paying off the debt to their hirelings. Many bankers shake their heads in disappointment. But, so long as the THC was dead and gone, it must have been worth it. Right? (-20AP) -Further personnel and resources are sent to the Han Dominion in order to build a battleship in their shipyard. The Han owe the Corporation quite a bit, and the Corporation plans to collect every bit. (-8AP) -Resources are sent to the Thulean Republic for them to build a trade station. Typical French, always wanting hand-outs... (-5AP) -The itoron mining worlds of Wollongong, Helix, and Grand Ares continue to be brutally exploited and expanded by the ravenous mining subsidies. When will it stop? Never. It will never stop. (-5AP to industry) -The board contacts the recently released Firstborn Margek. They invite him to the Grand Aurora Institute of Technology in order to show him a recent artefact uncovered by an exploration team. They explain that the artefact in question was a pair of vials from what appeared to be a hospital, but they were having trouble identifying precisely what the substances contained within them were. (-0AP) Map Changes: The red X's represent the two latest colonies, Woolongong and the former PAR colony. Both of which have itoron. The red lines represent the newest Corporate TCs.
  9. Onwards [Sci-Fi Nation FRP - RP]

    F.E.Z. Free Economic Zone The recent conflicts in the southern quadrants have shown that there is a greater need for cooperation among the flourishing economic centres of the galaxy. Hence, this agreement is to solidify mutual cooperation among the trade-states and corporations that value equitable business ventures without the limiting nature of an overbearing central government. This confederation of independent systems will ensure that economic prosperity will be possible throughout the galaxy, even in times of war. We at FEZ wish to sincerely show our desire for a more profitable coexistence with those who share the value of unshackled enterprise. The power of the free market is the greatest force in the galaxy, and it is the express desire of the signatories herein to show their commitment to this common good. The Obligations of Confederated Members -Upholding the public relations of the FEZ. a) Respecting the non-aggression principle. b) Refraining from breaking deals. -Supporting the unobstructed flow of trade throughout the FEZ. -Members must be willing to defend the trade-lanes of FEZ from pirates and other obtrusive malcontents, with mutual military cooperation to meet this end. -All members must be willing to share intelligence and data for tracking criminal elements within confederated property. -Mutual sharing of resources during emergencies. -Mutual sharing of useful technologies during emergencies, with all copyright protections included. -Respecting the independent agency and sovereignty of all confederated members. Confederated Members: -Hephaestus Enterprises -Thulean Republic -The Trade Federation -Kingdom of Armathwaite
  10. 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)
  11. 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)
  12. 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)
  13. 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)
  14. 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)
  15. 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)