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  #11  
Old March 8th, 2008, 12:26 PM

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Default Re: Losers

2406.4

Praxis system
Praxis II shipyard construction facility...


The news reporter was arriving at the site. He wanted to be early enough to get some background material to go with the live interviews from the past few weeks. He also wanted to incorporate the fact about how the empire’s newest construction facility on Praxis IX would be producing the empire’s newest ship, the Bulldog class cruiser. He was going over his notes, while the camera crew was setting up. It was still early, but to get the best shot, you had to get the best spot. The agenda had a short de-commissioning speech (at least he hoped it would be short) to be followed by the implosion of the building. He had seen videos of the technique, and was now going to see one for himself. And the rest of the empire would see it live. Courtesy of Skip Thomas – staff reporter.

He was looking the wrong way. The camera was looking the wrong way as well, getting shots of people just starting to arrive for the day’s events. More people who wanted to get to the site early. They were, in fact, right on time.

The explosion was wrong. That’s what the conclusion of the demolition experts would be. It certainly wasn’t an implosion. The high explosive blast incinerated the building, and everything – and everyone – within a kilometer of the site. There would be no empire-wide video, but there was a huge crater in the ground. And 34 of the empire’s citizens were dead.

Ushphada system
Ushphada asteroid belt III
Onboard the Cue Cappa frigate Chriedeld-er...


Minister Talbot was making progress. At least he thought he was. He was showing his hosts the operation of the Empire’s Harvester mining the rocks for radioactive resources. The minister was apologetic that he couldn’t get the ship closer, but there was a real danger here from the asteroids themselves, as well as the immense bulk of the Harvester. The helmsman of the frigate had skill, however, and they were well clear of the large rocks. Small rocks were abundant, but they posed no threat to the craft.

The minister and his host had retired to an antechamber when the minister was informed that the latest offer of assistance by the empire had been turned down. Politely, but turned down just the same.

His host looked suitably apologetic.

A weird light began to flash inside the frigate. The host looked at the light, and then at the minister. The minister looked back at his host, curious about this latest demonstration.

Ushphada asteroid belt III
Fighter wing Spider Alpha...


Chosen for his intelligence and allegiance, Lieutenant Geoff Klyber was well aware of the threats posed by those outside the empire who would stop at nothing to take what the citizens of Dawn had created. His mission, covert, of course; was to eliminate the traitor to the empire who was now trying to hide in an asteroid field with his new “friends”. Klyber had heard the talk back at the base about how people were thinking that the empire’s position of isolationism was unfair, and wished that contact could be made and the races of the galaxy could live in peace. It was the same nonsense the Chairman had spoke of during his speech. Klyber knew that the technology the empire possessed was formidable – there was quite a bit the public didn’t know about (like the existence of the Spider program, for one) – and in the wrong hands billions of lives, both human and alien, would be lost.

He was going to prevent that. He was actually going to save lives with this mission. His squadron only knew that they were on a checkout flight to certify the Spider for general production. The freighters would be happy to hear their calls for protection would be answered, although they had to acknowledge there was nothing to protect them from.

Until now.

Klyber knew the Cue Cappa frigate was in the belt. He had received his briefing that the frigate – with the traitor – was trying to scan the freighter and learn the secret to asteroid mining. They may have already had the information and on their way back. They had to be stopped. He waited for the right moment.

“Spider seven to Spider one…boss, you there?”

”Seven, this is one, go ahead.”

”Spider One, I’m getting the signature of a Cue Cappa frigate, 250,000km into the field, on a direct vector to the Harvester.”


Klyber smiled.

“One, this is four, I’m getting it as well.”

“Spider One to Spider alpha, all fighters close up. Let’s see what..."


Klyber’s instructions were cut off by an animated voice coming through the speaker.

“Any ship please respond! This is Harvester 400 under attack. Repeat we are under attack by an unknown ship. Armor failing, please assist!”

Klyber turned on the fighter’s command channel. Doing so meant he would speak to the fighters directly, but nobody else.

“Harvester 400 this is Spider One. Standby, sir, we are 200,000km away and closing on you. Say again your status, over.”

Spider pushed the PLAY button.

“Spider who?? Spider whoever, we are under attack and armor is down to 64%. We have no weapons. We are a mining ship and under attack. Please assist!”

Klyber finished the charade.

“Standby Harvester, we’re on the way. Hold on buddy.”

...onboard Harvester 400...


The captain of the freighter was unaccustomed to having company in “his” asteroid belt. The Cue Cappa frigate was bad enough, but to show up and hail the freighter less than one week after a misstep caused the big ship to have a too close encounter with one of the rocks that surrounded them. Now his ship was getting some weird readings almost 200,000km out, towards where the frigate was heading…

...onboard Spider One...

Klyber had ten fighters in his wing. They formed up and pushed their throttles as far forward as they would go. They had the frigate, in range, and nervous chatter filled the speakers.

Klyber formed the ten fighters in a wedge, and headed toward the frigate. The frigate had turned to meet the threat, and was headed right toward them. The ship and the fighters closed on each other at a rate of 30km per second. The fighters had smaller versions of the anti-proton beams that the ships carried. In eight seconds, they would be put to the test.

...onboard the frigate Chriedeld-er...

The minister was sure there was some kind of mistake. He was looking at the display for the frigate and watching the very small dots close on his ship. He pondered that thought for a moment, “his ship”. His host broke through his thoughts.

“They are your fighters, Minister. They attack us. You talk and they attack!”

The minister could feel it all spinning out of control.

“Let me contact them! Let me tell them...” His host cut him off.

“The time for talk is over.” He nodded to the soldier who was escorting them.

The minister fell dead to the floor with a strange wound at the base of his skull.

...onboard Spider one...

The fighters and frigate closed on each other. The fighters held formation. The frigate had the longer range, and fired two of it’s cannons at the first fighter that entered inside of that range.

“Spider two, taking fire. Evading.”

Klyber shivered as he was getting his wish. He was defending the empire.

“Spider One to Spider alpha – now, while he is reloading! Attack!”

Spider two banked hard right and tried to evade the two cannon shots. The remaining nine fighters charged the frigate.

“One, this is two, I’ve been hit. Weapons gone, engines at half power.”

Klyber felt a twinge of fear, but pressed on.

“Spider three taking fire.”

Klyber jerked at that. “So fast?”

“Spider three, I’ve been hit, but my armor’s holding…”


Klyber finally was in range and fired. His beam hit the frigate and started burning it’s armor.

“Spider four, taking fire…”

Klyber was now caught up in the action. The frigate began to turn away from the fighters.

“Spider alpha, come left heading 203. Stay in front of it, that’s where the weapons are!”

“Spider four, he missed me. Firing.”

“Spider five, firing.”

“Spider One! Boss he’s fired his main weapons at you! Get out of there!”

“Spider four, hit, armor is holding.”


Klyber saw the weapons fire and cut his thrusters in an attempt to let the shot slide by. It didn’t work, and Lieutenant Geoff Klyber became the first combat casualty of the empire, without the empire even knowing it.

The rest of the battle went similarly wrong, as the frigate proved to be a more capable opponent than was thought. But with the last of the fighters destroyed, the frigate’s victory was short-lived. Herself battered and her armor gone, she was unable to avoid the asteroids long enough to escape back to her own space.

The battle in Ushphada asteroid belt III was over, and everyone was a loser.

Usphada III research complex...

With the failure of the Spider program, all data and records were subsequently erased. The cover story fed to the media was that Minister Talbot had lost his life, along with the lives of the Cue Cappa frigate, to mercenary fighters who tried to pirate the ship. This matched up with the report from the Harvester 400 in the belt.

The explosion at Praxis II was deemed an accident, and the intelligence director, who so casually toyed with the lives of others, slipped back into the shadows, to bide his time.
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  #12  
Old March 8th, 2008, 02:38 PM

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Default Re: Current Map

Hi everyone,

Thought I'd post the map of my game to this point. I tried to attach a file, but it didn't work too well. Can I post pictures in this forum?

Thanks
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  #13  
Old March 8th, 2008, 04:50 PM
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Default Re: Current Map

First attach your picture to the post. Then edit the post and copy the attached picture's link into the UBB image code to display the picture.
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  #14  
Old March 8th, 2008, 05:56 PM

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Default Re: Current Map

I went to the FAQ, and apparently I need a website to link to - and that I don't have. Anyhow, thanks for the info.

Phil
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  #15  
Old March 8th, 2008, 06:58 PM

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Default Re: Dawn

2406.5

The incidents of last month were quickly moved past. Chairman Lomax sent a message to the Cue Cappa Regent expressing his sadness at the loss of their frigate in Dawn space to mercenaries, and wished that the memory of all who were lost could serve as a bridge to building a brighter future.

He received no response.

As with the funerals for those lost on Praxis II when the shipyard that was being decommissioned suddenly exploded. The official cause was faulty demolition charges –the report was quick to point out the placement of the charges was within the established parameters – and the grieving took place.

The reports were presented…

Construction/Homeland department report:

The building of medical labs in Praxis, Sirius, and Samora was complete. The citizens in those systems would begin to enjoy a higher standard of living. Additionally, climate control facilities will be built at those space yard planets with less than optimal conditions and high migration. Finally, Samora II begins upgrading to a space yard 2.

End of Report

Research department report:

The research department announces the following technology upgrades: Ship weapon mounts level 2, ship capture level 2, space yard level 2. They also announce the delivery of technology from the Cue Cappa in accordance with our treaty. We now have second-generation orbital bases that can be built.

End of report

Defense department report

CDS Mexico City and Empire returning to space yards and will be refit as Australia class repair ships. The build time for space yard ships is too high.
CDS Montreal and Toronto refit at Pantrissa I as Canada VI light cruisers.CDS Dover and Longbow join CDSYork at the Pantrissa/Sheliak warp point.

Each of the three possible entry points to the Dawn empire is guarded by two frigates and a PDS ship. As noted above, Dover and York are joined by the PDS destroyer Longbow at the Pantrissa - Sheliak warp point. Northampton and Leeds are joined by the PDS destroyer Sniper at the Ushphada – Tilikanthua warp point. The unknown warp point in Velocitas is guarded by Southampton and West End, along with the PDS destroyer Artemis. The light cruiser Montreal will join the defenders at Sheliak, while Toronto will join the defenders at the unknown warp point.

We will be penetrating the unknown warp point once Toronto arrives.

End of report

Avery Smith delivered the report on the tragedy at Praxis II. He failed to mention that two security violations led to the dissemination of Dawn information to other empires…
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Old March 9th, 2008, 01:02 AM

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Default Re: Dawn

2406.6

Pantrissa II space yard
onboard CDS Toronto


Security officer Walter Sen was briefing the newly formed security sections that would serve on capital ships to deny boarding as well as attempt to board ships disabled by the ship’s weaponry. There were twenty well-trained specialists, and they were expected to be able to overcome ten times their number. Of course, it wouldn’t be a straight up fight. It was expected that the ship they try to board would have causalities and generally not in a position to offer up much of a defense. Still, they were professionals, and the short layover at the yard would give them a bit more training. Today, they were learning how to blast through an armor plated hull with shaped charges. Their target was the Mexico City, here for an almost complete refit into a different class of ship. The Mexico City would need to be stripped down anyway, so it was a perfect opportunity to get a little live fire experience.

When they were finished, the hull was breached in less than a minute, and the boarders had moved to the bridge within three.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t time to repeat the exercise, as the workers needed to get to the refit of the old vessel, and the Toronto’s visit to the yard would be disappointingly brief.

Nekkar III
Design department briefing room


The engineers were finishing their report to their director, who would have it delivered to the Chairman for inclusion in the monthly update. Somewhere amid the amount of resources available, the plans for the Navy, and the machinations of the intelligence bureau, the Chairman would learn that mines were now available to help close off the entry points into Dawn space. Mine layers and sweepers were also proposed. There had already been consultations with Defense, and the addition of the mines would allow exploration of the points outside Dawn space while adding a measure of security that their empire wouldn’t be penetrated.
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Old March 9th, 2008, 01:55 PM

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Default Re: Dawn

2406.7

Nekkar III
Monthly empire status report


The presenter led off with very good news. Five more planets were colonized last month. Three more research colonies and two resource storage colonies. The number of planets left to colonize was shrinking. The space yards would stand down as soon as they could and upgrade. Climate control facilities were under construction at the planets where ship construction was taking place.

The research department announced the discovery of high-energy weapons, phased weapons and scanner technology. The Cue Cappa had sent their research on supply as per the treaty they were still honoring. Education in the system was improving, and younger and younger students were accessing the research networks. During the day, these students were submitting ideas – no matter how unrealistic they may have seemed. Later, their computers were used by the research labs on the planets to run equations, models, and tests. It was a geometric progression of staggering proportions. The more people who had networked computers, the more processing power the labs had access to. And the more power they had, the faster they made discoveries. Which led to more networked computers. And more processing power. And so on. And so on. What it amounted to was that the Dawn empire had entire planet populations dedicated to the discovery of new technologies. And it was paying off.

The briefing continued. Avery Smith began his report about the capture of spies within the design bureau. Chairman Lomax interrupted him.

“I’m sorry, Avery; but I have a pressing matter that I need to deal with. Guard, would you ask Miss Edwards to come in?”

Avery looked annoyed and then bored when Rita Edwards was escorted into the briefing room. Strikingly beautiful, she sat down without saying a word.

“Mr. Chairman, I realize I wasn’t here last month, but Miss Edwards did submit the report for me. As my assistant,”

Lomax interrupted again.

“And your lover.”

Smith fumed at that.

“Mr. Chairman, you have..”

”Mr. Smith, you do understand the rules regarding fraternization, do you not?”


Smith could hardly believe this.

“Fraternization??!?? Are you serious??”

Lomax continued.

“I’m afraid so, Mr. Smith. I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask for your resignation, and Miss Edwards’ as well.”

Rita Edwards handed an envelope to the guard. The other guard moved in behind Avery.

Smith was still incredulous.

“Mr. Chairman, I will not submit a letter of resignation. You do not...”

Lomax continued with an even voice.

“Avery, I know about Spider. We have the technician from Ushphada III. We have the directed beam transmission back and forth to your PCS from the satellite logs. I know the Cue Cappa frigate wasn’t destroyed by mercenaries, but by fighters. Dawn fighters. Citizens of Dawn killed, Avery, and were killed on your orders, Avery. There were no mercenaries.”

Avery wasn’t backing down.

“Chairman, if you don’t agree with the conclusion of my report, fine. Perhaps it was dissidents within the empire that...”

And just like that, it was over.

“Your report, Avery? Don’t you mean the department report? No matter, but you are right about dissidents.”

Lomax just stared at Smith, who didn’t move. The other board members were quiet as well, not knowing exactly what was happening, only that they were glad to be spectators, and not participants.

“You almost started a war, Avery – and for what? The Cue Cappa weren’t a threat, so the only threat to you would be me. But your own machinations led you astray again, Mr. Smith. I have nothing against you, so you objected to my policies. You didn’t want peace, did you? You wanted us to conquer, and for nothing more than your own lust for power.”

Again, Smith said nothing.

“No matter”, Lomax concluded. “As I said, we have your operative from the lab on Ushphada III. Or rather we had. I understand he participated in the high-energy weapon test. As for you, however, we have a new mineral storage planet that is in need of workers. Avery, I wish you well in your new endeavor. Miss Edwards?”

Rita Edwards stood and moved around the table, and sat in Avery’s old chair. This was too much for Smith.

“But she resigned as well!!”

Lomax cleared the point for Avery.

“Yes, Avery, she is no longer the ‘Assistant’ to the Director of Intelligence Operations.”

On their way down the stairs towards the door, the guard withdrew a weapon from his pocket, and Avery Smith was no more.
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Old March 9th, 2008, 11:54 PM

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Default Re: Dawn

2406.8

Pantrissa II
Pantrissa space yard...

Toronto
was finally out of the system, the Pinta had just launched today with another load of eager colonists, and yard personnel enjoyed a short-lived respite. Alice Springs, an Australia class repair ship, was still undergoing refit, and there were two more ships to be built before the yard would be decommissioned. The new yard at Pantrissa V was already in operation. The workers on Pantrissa II would move to the new planet, with its oxygen atmosphere and abundant space. There was even talk of a new climate control facility being built. All in all, it would be heaven.

Ed Jefferies was a welder who was coming off of a double shift. The yard was operating at emergency capacity, and the plan was to squeeze every drop out of the yard and her men before the shut down occurred.

Right now, Jefferies was squeezing the last drop out of his drink at a local bar and “entertainment” establishment. After a suitable amount of libation and a fist full of overtime-augmented cash, he was pouring out his soul to a “friend” who held the promise of a night of pleasure. For her part, the woman had seemed genuine enough – and she was – and listened intently while Jefferies continued on with his alcohol-induced soliloquy. When he eventually passed out she helped himself to the remainder of his cash and headed downstairs to share the gains with the bartender, as she had done before.

But tonight, it wasn’t to be.

“That’s right, miss. Keep coming. Right down here.”

The bartender was surrounded by two intelligence agents. The new director – a female, she remembered hearing on the news – was moving quickly. A third agent approached her, and she froze in place.

“Okay, miss – hand it over.”

She didn’t make a move.

“The wallet, lady. We’re getting a bit tired of citizens who so blatantly prey on the efforts of others.”

The lady started to protest – she knew she had to protest – and the agent grabbed her arm, reached into her dress and pulled the stolen wallet out. He released her and she turned to run, but not without cursing them before ducking out the door and heading home.

She walked fast and glanced over her shoulder, but the agents were more interested in the bartender. She made her way home and shut the door. Then she began to tremble, realizing how close it was. In a moment, she gathered herself and opened a jewelry box. She withdrew a talisman and laid it respectfully on top of the table. She knelt and began to pray. Her words were exact, her passion in her words considerable, and - after a short while - the talisman began to glow.

With a hushed voice, she spoke into the talisman. To any observer it looked like prayers, but she was repeating the destinations of the ships that had left the yard, the current assigned work of the yard, and the plans for closing it.

Praxis IX

The planetary governor was hoping this would work. As a matter of fact, he was counting on it working. It would be his job if it didn’t. Nobody had actually threatened him, but what good is a governor who cannot take care of his people?

So he cut the ceremonial ribbon, made the perfunctory speeches, and officially opened the first climate control facility of the Empire.

Velocitas system
Velocitas warp point
...onboard CDS Southampton...


The orders were received and on the same computer. Captain Harrison read them, and was about to open a channel to West End when Captain O’Rourke hailed Southampton and the two commanders met on a secure channel. They worked out a new plan for penetrating the warp point. At the last minute, the Navy agreed that Toronto and Artemis would remain outside of the warp point, while the two frigates would enter and explore the unknown space ahead of them.

Nekkar III
Monthly status report


Education is now at level 6, and level 3 research is being studied. We should have it in two months.

Three more colonies established. One each in Nekkar, Pantrissa, and Ushphada.

Current conditions on Praxis IX are “unpleasant”, with a birth rate of 12% and a migration of 6%. There was an increase of 2 million inhabitants on the planet last month. We’ll keep monitoring it.



(author’s note: I’ve decided to change the format, and still work storylines into the game, but the reports would be made to the reader, to give you some sense of the game play itself. Back to work tomorrow, look for the next installment on Tuesday.)
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Old March 11th, 2008, 07:16 AM

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Default Re: Dawn

2406.9

Velocitas system
...onboard CDS Southampton...


The captains of the four vessels at the warp point that led to points unknown were ready to go through it. There was a very real fear of mines on the other side of the point, but the decision was made. Southampton and West End would lead, and Toronto and Artemis would follow. Captain Harrison was happy to have Toronto’s firepower to count on, especially since her weapons didn’t require ammunition and couldn’t run out. Supplies were a concern, of course, but they always were. The Empire had to expand. Fewer and fewer colonizable planets were left. It was time to move out into unexplored space.

Zezzis system
...onboard CDS Southampton...


The warp was uneventful, and they didn’t materialize in the middle of a minefield – which was always a good thing. Immediately after completing the warp, the ships’ powerful sensor arrays went to work and painted a picture of planets, asteroids, a star, and at least two other empire colonies.

Harrison immediately went to an alert status, as did Captain O’Rourke on West End. What they saw was a Phong colony on a tiny rock world, and a pair of Sergetti colonies on ice worlds. The Phong colony didn’t have any ships in orbit, but the Sergetti had fighters orbiting their worlds. There was a small asteroid field, as well as an empty gas giant planet with methane atmosphere. As Toronto and Artemis warped into the system, Harrison ordered the sensor data linked to them. Harrison knew the Sergetti empire had, at best, a reason to distrust them, and – at worst – a score to settle. His thoughts were interrupted by his sensor officer.

“Captain, I have the report on the gas giant. Methane atmosphere, conditions look good…not sure about this, however.”

The officer sounded puzzled, and Harrison went to the station.

“There, captain. Those returns…metallic? They almost look like…”

Harrison looked on for a bit more, and contacted the other ship in the expeditionary force.

The metallic returns were almost identical to those found in the Chazzwazzer system almost two years ago. Those returns ended up to be the remains of an advanced civilization, and yielded an advance in shield technology so powerful that the Empire ships were still using it today. The captains agreed that it was worth the risk to penetrate further and orbit this planet. West End, however would not go with them, but would return to Velocitas and guard the warp point.

Velocitas system
...onboard CDS West End...


Captain O’Rourke returned to Velocitas and immediately began broadcasting the news to Navy headquarters on Nekkar III. Her two requests were agreed to, and the light cruiser Montreal was released from the Pantrissa-Sheliak warp point and was en route to Velocitas. Her second request would definitely change the lives of some, and possibly the entire empire.

Pantrissa system
...onboard Pinta 034...


The captain was about to engage the automatic sequencers and prepare to assume a back-up role while the colony ship orbited and established a colony on Zanthris III when the message was received overriding the colonizer’s flight plan and ordering it to the Velocitas system. The captain knew Velocitas was designated a quarrantined system by the Navy. He did know was there was a blocakde at a warp point out there, but somehow he doubted the blockade’s success was hinging on a fat and slow colony ship getting there "with all possible speed."

Now warped into Pantrissa his communication link came alive.

“Pinta034, this is CDS Montreal. Continue on new flight plan and prepare to assume formation upon arrival.”

The captain knew light cruisers didn’t escort transports for lack of something better to do...

Zezzis system
...in orbit around Zezzis V...

Southampton, Toronto,
and Artemis were now in orbit around their prize. They didn’t fear too much from the fighters guarding the colonies, but they were still on guard. Of more immediate concern was the Sergetti fleet four sectors away. Comprised of a light carrier and five frigates, they could pose a real threat. Whether they would fight over the possession of a planet they couldn’t colonize was the question.

Of course, they may just want the Empire kicked out of Zezzis to remove competition. Either way, the next move was theirs

Report to the board...

Finding a planet suitable for a colony was a surprise, and one with ruins was a bonus. It is unfortunate that the colony ship is 3 months away, but it makes for a good storyline. I forgot to post last time the reason I was monitoring Praxis IX was they had their climate control facility completed. Another gain of 2 million inhabitants this month, and still a +5% bonus on construction there.
Level 3 research facilities should be available next month. Upgrades should start then as well.
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Old March 11th, 2008, 12:44 PM

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Default Re: Dawn - The race to Zezzis

2407.0

Nekkar III
Intelligence Directorate


Rita Edwards was making her presence felt. Her policies resulted in an increase of agents to try to stem the flow of information that was being stolen from the Empire. She knew it would take time, but she needed something to grab the attention of the directors of the corporation, and she needed it fast.

This month’s report was being held in the Directorate building, and one of the highlights was the colonization of the first planet in the Forlorn system. Aptly named, the system was at the tail end of the empire, and had only three planets that could become colonies. That number was now down to two, as Forlorn II took its place as an Empire planet.

The research director spoke up.

“Mr. Chairman, we are indeed fortunate to have another such colony within our empire. A huge planet with an oxygen atmosphere will make a wonderful addition to our research capabilities. Now, if I may suggest, Mr. Chairman…”

Rita waited for just this moment, and she acted.

“Mr. Chairman, if I may?” She looked at the research director. “Doctor, please forgive me for the interruption, but I want to put forth an alternative.”

The research director looked perplexed, and was about to say something, but remembered who he was talking to. She had a benign smile on her face, and the director suddenly felt on the wrong end of a cat and mouse game. Logic was his strong suit, and he analyzed his choices. He could confront her, with the possible outcomes of either winning or losing his point. Losing his point would have – at least – consequences that would be detrimental. Winning his point would show up the new director, and that wouldn’t necessarily be a good thing either. He wasn’t worried for his personal safety, but he was worried that she might have a point. So he nodded to her.

“Please, Miss Edwards, do continue.”

For her part, Rita noted the failed attempt at covering up the condescension in the remark. Scientists, she thought. So smart and so very naïve. That, she surmised correctly, was the problem.

“Thank you doctor. As you are all aware, we have been losing information about our empire to alien empires at a rate that should – at least – be a cause for concern. Please do not misunderstand me. I realize that in order to maintain the impressive list of technological advances our research department continues to amaze us with,” – her condescension, on the other hand, was beautifully masked –“they need access to a free flow of ideas. They need to be able to find the piece of information necessary to unlock the secret of the project they are working on. I am not like my predecessor. My desire is to work in the background – away from the efforts of those who study for our benefit.”

The chairman was watching his new intelligence director lay the groundwork for what she wanted. He sensed the point was about to be made.

“Gentlemen, I am not a scientist. I am an intelligence officer. I don’t study science, or texts; I study people. And I find myself in the position of objecting to the research department’s use of our new colony at Forlorn II. I do so with the belief that by objecting to them now, I am ultimately helping them.”

The research director now had to respond. Again, his logic saved him.

“Miss Edwards, I assume you have an alternate plan for the use of Forlorn II?”

Rita jumped a bit too quick at the opening.

“Doctor, we need the planet to serve the Empire in the best way possible. I believe it can best do so under the control of the Intelligence directorate. I want to be able to help stop the flow of information – your discoveries, doctor – to those who may choose to use them against us.”

The research director nodded again, and addressed the Chairman, as well sa the assembled committee.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have an opportunity today. An opportunity for cooperation between two departments that are – theoretically, at least – inherently at odds with each other. The importance of the free flow of ideas cannot be overshadowed by the prevention of those ideas from being used against us. I want to congratulate our intelligence director for her foresight and concern, and offer my support for her plan for the use of Forlorn II as an intelligence colony.”

He turned to Rita and smiled.

“Please do your best to assist us, Miss Edwards. And please know we will do our best to assist you.”

Rita had her smile transfixed but inwardly she knew the smart, but naïve scientist had just outmaneuvered her. By agreeing with her, he had absolved himself, and his department, of the responsibility for the control of information flowing out of the empire. After all, the intelligence directorate had a shiny new planet of their own. If the information didn’t stop flowing out of the empire now, the only variable left would be her.

”Damn, damn, damn!" she thought to herself. How could she be so easily led? She again looked at the research director. Smart, but naïve wasn’t truly apropos. Naïve, but smart was more to the point. She made one more mental note about the research director.

He learned fast.

Velocitas-Zezzis warp point
...onboard CDS West End...


Captain O’Rourke was a bit disappointed that her role was now that of a tour guide – pointing the way for others to explore the new system. Next on the list was Montreal, followed by Pinta 034. The new minelayer, Aztec was due in from the Haphik system next month. The Sergetti fleet in Zezzis did not challenge the Dawn fleet, but warped out of the system. Taking the opportunity, Southampton was currently scouting the system, and found a Sithrak frigate in the system, as well as five more planets that could be colonies. He also reported a huge ice world that was no doubt on the Sergetti list of planets to be colonized. This piece of information may cause the Empire to pause and think about the possibility of researching ice world colonization. They certainly had the capability. They would need the time, but it could be done. This would also put Dawn in direct competition with every other empire in the galaxy. But hose thoughts weren’t her immediate concern.

Captain Harrison would need to re-supply, and soon West End would change roles with Southampton. She would finally be able to operate on her own without her former commander there. She wasn’t ungrateful to him, but she needed to prove she could operate without his guidance.

She didn't need his guidance to know one thing, though. With four empires now in in the system, the race for Zezzis was on.
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