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Re: IC 6 - Hamburg - Day 3

skullandscythe posted in IC 6 - Hamburg - Day 3 on 2019-01-18 21:29:42
"Tim, why don't you get acquainted with your new friend?" Blake says, gesturing to the door. "The rest of us can sweep the floor, make sure no one's here. Stopper the fire escape if we can."

Re: Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3

punkey posted in Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3 on 2019-01-18 20:47:30
Long-haul space travel and long-haul Narsai’i travel have a lot in common - waiting in secured areas, flashing paperwork (or auth codes, in this case), and trying not to go stir-crazy in a small metal can. Just replace “bored airport security” with “bored Turai”, and you get the general idea. For covering thousands of lightyears, it’s still a remarkably tedious process. Eight to twelve hours to travel between gateways, and of course after all of that you’re gonna want to dock at the orbital stations and stretch your legs and/or actuators...it gets hard to remember you’re doing this to break into one of the most secure and important Imperial Turai worldships.

The last jump, though, that brings it into focus - Napai. The checks on the other side are a bit more stringent - everyone has to get out while the Manta gets a scan - and while you’re waiting in line, that nervous pressure starts to set back in. The gateway opens with a flash, and the Manta files through it with everyone else. A few minutes later, the ship passes through the other side, and you’re back to the Imperial capital system. It’s game time.

Re: Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3

punkey posted in Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3 on 2019-01-18 20:47:17
The phone in the corner rings. There is only one line that phone connects to, and it never calls - at least, the two men in the blockhouse hoped they never would. They stare at each other a moment, then the one closest to it picks up the phone while the other fumbles with the keys to unlock the code binders. No greeting, just a code demanding a countersign. It takes a few repetitions and hurried apologies for the binder to be retrieved, but the proper countersign is eventually given. Orders are given - coordinates for retasking the ten 1 megaton warheads inside the missile, then a designated time for launch. After relaying the information back, the line goes dead. One man looks to the other, and it takes a moment for them both to accept that this really is what they are going to do - and then they get to work.

----

It’s one hour past Zero Dark Thirty near the Kazahk border. It’s dark and cold, but to make up for it, it’s also windy. Just close enough to the nearest town that the lights on the horizon ruin the night sky for stargazing. Doesn’t really matter, though, because it’s about to get bright over here. First, a siren blares; mounted on a little concrete post and half-embedded in it, its only purpose is to tell everyone who can hear it to seek shelter. The wild goats scattered in the fields around it crane their heads to look at it but don’t run away. After all, it’s not getting closer to them, is it? The siren keeps going as underground hydraulics come to life and lift several dozen tons of steel-reinforced concrete off its resting position atop the missile silo. Immediately, puffs of vaporized coolant escape; it’s all supposed to get sucked up by the venting system, sure, but this is good enough. Nobody’s in the main silo, anyway; the crew is safely locked in the launch bunker, encased in at least as many dozens tons of steel-reinforced concrete.
Seconds later, the missile’s first stage ignites. This is the part where it gets bright, and also loud, with a pressure wave that’ll liquify your internals before you get to appreciate the immense heat of the launch plume licking over the ground as the missile hefts itself skywards. It’s out so quickly you could barely see it leave, streaking upwards with a bright fire on its tail. In its wake, only soot covering all surfaces of the launch base and the heady chemical smells of two hypergolic liquid fuels post-encounter. By the time you’ve finished reading this paragraph, the missile is already twenty kilometers up. It’s not wasting time. It’s got places to be, warheads and penetration aids to dispense. Nearly a dozen other missiles spear skywards, an expression of the most devastating weaponry Narsai can bring to bear.

Then there’s a rolling series of flashes and fireballs in mid-air, but you don’t hear the fireballs because even if you survived being close enough to the launch area despite the very insistent siren, you just got hit by the hypersonic shockwave created by a relativistic kinetic mass moving through atmo to intercept the missile. There’s not a piece of glass along the firing trajectories left unshattered - the shots just woke up people in Nizhny Novgorod a thousand miles away - well after what was left of its payload had already ablated away into hot plasma due to friction, but even that still carried the shockwave with it until the curvature of the planet forced the straight line to depart atmo. Dozens of straight lines of incandescent white light shatter the sky, each with a massive explosion strung along it where it intercepts the missile raining debris - including ten nuclear warheads each. Burning pools of toxic chemicals rain down, but the physics packages are safed. Safe, but not immune to thousands of degree fires. A few minutes later, they start to cook off one by one, ten massive dirty bombs ensuring that the locals have to buy their food elsewhere for the next few thousand years. Narsai gave it all it had, but its best didn’t even clear the boost phase.

Re: Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3

punkey updated in Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3 on 2019-01-18 09:13:32
The sun is shining through the bulletproof glass of the White House hallway that forms the last twenty meters of General Kroger’s route to the Oval Office. He hardly notices it, though; his mind is churning with the details of the current strategic situation. Only a few seconds left to figure out something smart - or admit to a room of the most powerful people in the US that they are out of options.

“It’s confirmed, Sir,” Lt. Col. Elizabeth Trembley, Joint Staff officer and aide to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, says to him. The heels of her Oxfords click on the wood floor as she walks beside him. “Carrier Strike Group 5 is steaming for the ECS at best speed. They expect to be on station within 15 hours.”
“Group 11?” Kroger asks, taking the file with the report off her waiting hands.
“Still at fifteen knots,” Trembley says. “The Halsey’s down a turbine.”
“God damn it,” Kroger says. “Grab a coffee, Liz. You look like you could use one.”
“Sir,” Trembley says, then peels off just as Kroger steps up to the Secret Service detail at the door. Credentials are checked, a nod is given, the door opens.

Really good soundproofing on these. The discussion inside is already at full swing.

“Now Paul,” POTUS says, his jacket hung over the back of his chair while he sits with the others around the table. “I appreciate what you’re telling me here. We do need to present a clear message to the world and the people. But we can’t do that if we don’t know what is going on.”
“I understand that, sir,” Paul Russo, Secretary of State, says. “But we’re getting calls from everyone wanting to know what our position is, and we need to tell them something.”
“I suggest we hear the latest, then,” Frank R. Burnett, Secretary of the Army, says, looking over to Kroger.
“Agreed,” POTUS says. “Do you have any updates for us, General?”
“Good morning, Mr. President - Mr. Secretary,” Kroger says, holding on to the file in his hands. “We expect to have two CSGs in theater before 0000. Group 11 has been slowed by an escort with a mechanical failure.”
“Well, that won’t do,” Sam Sharpe, Secretary of the Navy comments. “I’ll tell Bill to figure it out.”
“You do that,” POTUS says.
“Mr. President,” Dennis Blake, Director of National Intelligence says. “China’s all well and good, but I think we need to focus on the aliens inside our borders right now. A couple of those ray guns inside CONUS could potentially shut down air traffic all across the Eastern Seaboard. Now, I think we need to deploy the National Guard, occupy the settlement, and do a top-to-bottom search for weapons of any kind, and start detentions and interrogations to find out how these fuckers smuggled this shit though.”
“Language, son!” Sharpe cuts in. “You’re talking to the President here. Show some darn respect.”
“Now, Sam, Dennis, let’s just calm down - these are our allies,” POTUS says.
“They were, until they betrayed us,” Blake replies. “We have got to move quickly here, Mr. President. We cannot allow them to pull the wool over our eyes any longer.”
“Okay, I think that’s enough of the conspiracy theories here,” Russo says. “The Bashakrans have been steadfast allies through all of this - they lost dozens of their own people in the Afghanistan effort. We all know very well how Director Blake feels about them, and I think it’s clouding his judgement here. What he is doing is advocating attacking our only allies capable of addressing this threat with us when we are at our most vulnerable - which is insane, sir.”
“Sir,” Blake says to POTUS, “an attack is what the aliens inflicted on innocent civilians in Chinese airspace. I think it rises to murder, even. I admit I don’t have Secretary Russo’s law degree but then I also don’t get my talking points from Director Barnes. What I am saying is that we need to assert our sovereignty and act quickly to protect American lives. If the aliens cooperate, then nobody has to get hurt. If they turn this into a fight, it’ll be their choice, not ours.”
“There’s no evidence of Bashakran involvement in China,” Russo says. “And both our military, our allies, and the 815 have solid evidence that the Chinese are being supplied directly from the Imperium, sir. It’s not the Bashakrans pulling the wool over our eyes, it’s the Chinese.”
“Supplied how?” Blake asks. “Last I heard there are two of those ‘gateways’ on Earth. Frank’s got one, it’s on lockdown. The other way is in the ‘village’ of our ‘allies’. It’s time you put it together.”
“The Chinese must have smuggled one of those Gateway-making devices back home -” Russo replies.
“- while our so-called ‘allies’ turned a blind eye to it!” Blake growls. “Come on now! They act so smart, they’ve got all this fancy sci-fi shit -”
“Son, you better -” Sharpe begins.
Gentlemen,” POTUS cuts through, and everybody shuts up. His eyes scan everyone in the room for a moment. “Let me be clear: we are here to find a way forward, not to point fingers. You’ve more than made your point, Director Blake. Let’s move on to -”

A loud buzz from the intercom.

“Mr. President, sorry to disturb you,” comes the voice from the security team commander outside. “But we have the Russian delegation at the front gate. It’s Ambassador Alexandrejew himself, and he insists on speaking to you in person. Says it can’t wait.”
POTUS looks around the room once again, then turns to tap the intercom’s send button. “Would you please have the ambassador escorted directly to my office, Bryce,” he says.
“Yes Sir,” the intercom says, then switches off.
“Holy hannah,” Sharpe mutters.
“Gentlemen, I’m sorry to cut this short,” POTUS says to the room. “Please keep yourselves available to continue our conversation. I’ll send for you when I’ve wrapped this up.” He walks around to his chair and reaches for his jacket, pulling it over his shoulders.
“Mr. President -” Blake starts one more time as everybody else stands up.
“That means ‘get out of my office’, Director Blake,” POTUS says, not looking at him.
“...yes, Mr. President,” Blake says. Before he can add anything, Sam Sharpe comes up beside him and hooks him by the arm, all but dragging him along on the way to the exit.
“Mr. President,” the intercom buzzes again as everyone else filters out. “Mr. Alexandrejew here to see you now.”
“Yes, thank you, would you please send him in,” POTUS says.

The Russian Ambassador steps in, looking like not only was he roused from bed early, but had also aged a decade in the last few hours. “Mr. President, I am here to inform you that the Russian Federation will be launching twenty R-36M intercontinental ballistic missiles against the People’s Republic of China in…” He checks his watch. “Ten minutes. I was instructed to deliver this news over the phone, but I felt it necessary to demonstrate that these missiles are strictly targeted at military targets in China by appearing here personally.”
POTUS stares for a full five seconds before he answers. All diplomatic niceties are forgotten. “Is that everything you were instructed to tell me, Sergei?”
“That is all, Mr. President,” Alexandrejew replies.
“...God help us all,” POTUS says, checking his watch. “That’s 2030 Zulu?” Noting Alexandrejew’s nod, POTUS nods back to him. “Thank you, Sergei. Now I’m going to have to ask you to go outside and follow instructions. I’m going to order this building locked down and everybody sheltered, then I have some calls to make. Just to be sure everybody is safe. You understand.”
“Of course, Mr. President,” Alexandrejew replies, and with a nod walks out of the Oval Office.

POTUS stares at the door for a few more seconds. Then he keys the intercom. “Bryce?”
“Mr. President?”
“Set contingency delta,” POTUS says. “Would you make sure my family is sheltered?”
“Set contingency delta, understood,” the voice answers. “I’ll see to your family personally, Sir.”
“Yes, thank you,” POTUS says. Finger off the intercom, he reaches for the phone on his desk and hits the quickdial for the switchboard.

“This is the CIC,” he says. “I need CINCNORAD and the duty officer at USINDOPACOM right away. We’re going to DEFCON 2.”

Re: Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3

punkey updated in Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3 on 2019-01-17 01:07:47
Being a military man, Hunter’s moved more than a few times in his life. So, when he decided to move in with Honima on the Atea, the whole process fell into place in his head. Clean the apartment, organize belongings and give away anything not needed, buy boxes from Home Depot, pack everything up, load a truck and drive off. And that was exactly what happened - up until he arrived at the Bashakra’i village in central Virginia and was directed not to the Gateport as he was expecting, but to a warehouse nearby. There, some very polite and efficient Bashakra’i...porters, is the closest term Hunter could come up with for them, unpacked his boxes from the truck, sealed them in other boxes, shrink-wrapped and vacuum-sealed them in some silver-foiled-plastic, and loaded them into a skimmer which was then sent through what looked like a super-sized version of the millimeter wave scanners at Dulles. From there, the skimmer drove off towards the Gateport, leaving Hunter bereft of his belongings.

Whelp, thought Hunter, It’s not as though you’re ambling down to Norfolk. Still, the irregularity tugged at him, and various scenarios of customs-based shakedowns and fuckups rattled around his head as he boarded a similar skimmer for the gateport. They could have at least given me a claim ticket, he thought, until his vox pinged with a confirmation number and live tracking information.

Worries at least somewhat allayed for the moment, Hunter rides along the transport to the Gateport. The red wood and concrete structures are now augmented with planters very carefully trimmed to look as natural as possible, holo-ad kiosks, Gateport personnel, and to Hunter’s eye, elevated positions for Kansatai carrying beamers all around the Gateport, complete with two fortified emplacements flanking the entrance. All is normal today, though, and the Gateport is busy enough with a few dozen Bashakra’i waiting to travel back to the worldship and a few Narsai’i and Wherren along for the ride. After a ten minute wait, the klaxon sounds to warn of the potential of gate-flash, and the Gateway opens behind its shield. Handshakes ensue, and the blocks slide aside. Hunter follows the crowd through, and spots Honima in a simple seafoam green dress right up front. A beaming smile lights up his face, as he strides towards her.

“Hey stranger,” she says, smirking at him, “got a place for the night?”
“With an offer like that,” he replies, “how could a friendly neighborhood concrete man say no?”

They embrace, they nuzzle nose, they smile at each other for just a beat longer than necessary, fully aware that they’re being uncharacteristically warm and public with their affection, fully aware that such gestures might be seen as foolish when practiced by people of their age. They are fully aware, and fully in agreement about not giving a shit. Today is a day worth feeling a little giddy about, and springtimes of the soul are meant to be observed. Small talk and pleasantries are unnecessary, and Honima leads Hunter off towards the transit hub.
“How does it feel, being out of the field?” Honima asks as the tube gets underway and settles them both into their restraints.
“Honestly, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. Past times when I’ve rotated out, it’s usually felt like everything was so much less urgent, and everyone was so much less serious about what they were doing. Not like they didn’t care, but more like, no one would notice if I didn’t, like it wouldn’t matter if I floated for a while.” He shrugs. “I’m not feeling that right now. Everyone knows the stakes. If anything, the issue is getting people to take breaks so they don’t burn themselves out.”
“And now, you work for Miss Barnes?” Honima asks.
“It sounds a little too grandiose to tell anyone, but the way I think about it is, I report to Miss Barnes, but I work for the galaxy. Too much is at stake to let basic mistrust and misunderstanding get in the way. People have to know that they can go to someone who can hear them out. For a lot of people, that’s ended up being me.”
“Okay, mister-works-for-the-galaxy, does that mean I can put in an order for you to stop leaving cups by the bedside?”
“I can’t promise you anything,” Hunter intones solemnly, “but I’ll relay your request through the proper channels, make sure you get a fair hearing.”
“I’ll make sure Brinai hears your counter-offer,” Honima replies, and gives Hunter’s hand a squeeze.

The nature of military training means Honima’s hab by the Turai academy is a fair distance to go, and a skimmer with what Hunter hopes are his boxes loaded on the back is already waiting out front. Honima thanks them and opens the hab door for them, stepping through to her own collection of silver-sealed boxes, some of which are already opened.
Hunter thanks the movers and helps out by grabbing a box. “This isn’t so bad at all,” he calls out as Honima joins in. “It’s not like we need to pick out much furniture.”
“Sure, but people have opinions about the three pieces of decor you do pick. Didn’t you say that everyone you know bought their furniture from the same store?” Honima asked. “I-key-yah?”
“Unless you have something coming down through the family...yeah, by and large Americans are all wasteful hypocrites. It’s probably different in other parts of Narsai.”

The rest of the unloading of Hunter’s…”worldly possessions” seems inappropriate, but it’s the closest term he can reach for-- goes without a hitch. Paperwork (not on paper) is signed (digitally), and the movers are on their way, leaving Hunter and Honima the opportunity to start sorting through the unlabeled boxes to find his essentials. Hunter thoughtfully packed them in a box clearly labeled as such, which was then covered up by the vacuum-sealed foil - which included his knife. So, after a few minutes of cutting seals open and unpacking boxes from boxes, Hunter and Honima’s new hab together already has an impressive stack of detritus piled up.
“I think it might be best for us to burn it all and start over together,” Honima sighs in exasperation from the stack of boxes-for-boxes.
Hunter’s vox goes off. “Urgent connection from Samantha Barnes,” it whispers in his ear.
“Hang on, I’ve got an urgent call coming through.” Hunter says, a little worried. “Let me take this as I drag these boxes to the disposal.” A second later, “This is Brand.”
“Are you still on Narsai?” Barnes asks, her voice disturbingly “calm-but-not”.
“Just started unpacking on the worldship. What’s happened?”
“Turn on the holo, I’m sending you my feed,” Barnes said.

Hunter leaned over and waved in the airspace of the holodisplay, and with a couple more waves, slid the connection from his vox onto the holo - and Honima gasped at what she saw. News feeds from all over Narsai, showing video of burning planes, accelerator turrets, PRC troops rounding civilians into containment areas.
“The Chinese must have made a deal with the Imperium,” Barnes says. “Smuggled in a gatekeg. They’ve got automated accelerators surrounding their whole border, the push in Afghanistan ran right into one and got annihilated. They’ve cut the whole country off, are shooting down any air traffic that crosses their border, and last we saw, were rounding civilians up before PRC took the satellite dishes and Internet links down. Sat phones are still working for now, but nothing new yet. Russians are talking a nuclear strike in retaliation already.”
“Vidas fucking Lam,” Honima mutters.
“Any anti-satellite weapons deployed?” Hunter asks, thinking about the centrality of GPS and connected systems to most Narsai armies.
“Their accelerators are limited to eighty klicks up in range, and we haven’t observed any orbital activity - yet,” Barnes says. “But it’s a race now to see who gets forces into orbit first, and they have a head start.”
“We need the high ground if we’re doing to have a chance.” Hunter breathes out the tightness in his gut. “So, it’s a good old fashioned clusterfuck, and I figure you’re making a lot of calls today. What do you need from me?”
“Get up Brinai’s ass about putting Mantas and Interceptors on Narsai yesterday,” Barnes says. “Unless we want to throw a ’Falcon 9’ at them, we don’t have shit that can make it to orbit and defend right this second, and she’s been too busy trying to evacuate her forces from Afghanistan to think about containing this shitshow before it spreads. Tell her I need Interceptor wings patrolling space above China right the fuck now.”
“Copy that. Anything else before I get going?”
“If anyone asks whose authority this is under...tell them it’s mine,” Barnes says. “I want those Interceptors under my command. Tell Brinai the Narsai’i governments won’t have them. I will.”
“That’ll make it easier to get the birds in the air. The politics on the other side are gonna be thorny, but it’s not like they’ll have an alternative. I’ll let you know how it goes.”
“They can complain about it after I save them from a First-damned orbital shot,” Barnes says. “Contact me in two hours.”

Hunter nods, disconnects the channel, and sets down the boxes he was handling. They share meaningful eye contact, and she nods to start it in.
“I have to go.”
“I know you do,” she says, unfazed. They’ve both been here before.
“I’ll be back.”
“I know you will.”
He’s moving quickly, but stops for a second pulls in Honima for a deep embrace, one or two more moments than strictly necessary. They exhale together, and then he’s off and running.

Re: Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3

punkey posted in Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3 on 2019-01-16 22:25:24
“Move the desks!” Barnes shouts over the din. “We need that holodisplay up now!” Barnes stands in the door to her office, overlooking the bullpen of cubes that made up the bulk of GRHDI staff - now being disassembled by Sheen shells scuttling over the top of them with screwdrivers as fast as they can to clear space in the middle of the floor. “Bresha! Updates on the window to Atea! Stan, tell the chief of staff to pull his head out of his ass and get me a connection to the President! Brand, why am I not seeing tactical on my holo yet?”
“Pushing to you now!” Katelin Brand shouts from Barnes’ waiting room.
Atea window in three minutes!” Bresha replies from her desk in the bullpen.
“Brand, you were issued that wrist holo for a reason!” Barnes shouts back into her office. “You’re supposed to be following up on this shit, not me! I need you running and chewing gum, right now!
“Yes, Ma’am!” Katelin shouts, sprinting out of her office and starting a frantic orbit of the room, checking on how the GRHDI’s thrown-together war room is progressing while Barnes steps back into her office.

With the Sheen unlocking the cubicle walls announcing that the walls were freed, the reconfiguration of the main floor started in earnest. Boxes of papers are carried with desktop holos balanced on top as desks were carted into conference rooms and hallways, with a folding table erected in the cleared space and topped with a holoprojector from one of the now-full conference rooms. Katelin quickly hooked her vox into it, waving her hands through the haptics to maximize the size (and then very quickly turn it down to half-size after the projection clipped into the cubicles still left standing) and hook it into the cogitator for the office.
“Tactical is up!” Katelin called out.
“And I have a connection with General Kroger,” Stanley Macklin, Barnes’ head of Narsai’i relations, added.
“I’ll take it on the main display,” Barnes said, stepping out of her office. “Show him we’re up and running, folks.”

In seconds, the holographic main display sprung to life, only marginally slowed down by bridging in the Narsai’i teleconference system - one millisecond of a Cisco logo, then the face of General Kroger from his own “action” office adjacent to the Situation Room. The tie on his Class A uniform sits just a bit looser than usual, but he still looks mostly composed, even if Barnes does have to note that he seems to have less hair every time she sees him.

’Director Barnes,’” he says, and as he does so, his microphone catches the muffled din of the Situation Room. “’Tell me you know what’s going on. We’re getting reports from the joint task force in the ‘stan that sound like the aliens are co-writing them, because I’m pretty sure we don’t have anyone in the field who knows a damn thing about Imperial perimeter defense systems. But I need some corroboration and - for lack of a better term - someone who can tell me what this means, strategically. ‘Cause from what I’m getting here, it sounds real bad.’
’That’s because it is, General,’” Barnes replies. “’What you see on the news confirms what we’re getting from our allies on the ground - Rah’pah systems encircling the Chinese border, with additional units deployed near major cities. We haven’t seen any Turai presence on the ground yet, but the Bashakra’i in my office assure me the Imperium doesn’t give those things out for free. It seems like the degree of Imperial support for China goes deeper than just arms shipments.’
’So, what are we looking at with China?’” Kroger asks. “’Alien invasion, internal coup, some sort of alliance? It sounded like at least some elements of the military were still giving orders.’
’The NSA would know better than we would, but a partnership seems most likely,” Barnes says. “’Cooperation in return for a promise of being the first ones in line to take over once the Needleships show up.’
’Which neatly brings us to my next question,’” Kroger says, wiping a bit of sweat from his brow. “’So they’ve got a bridgehead in China and it looks like they’re planning to keep it, judging from the hardware. What can they do now? Does this move your doomsday clock for the alien fleet? Can they just switch gears to a ground invasion?’
One of the Bashakra’i - Rav-Samal Niro - pushes a document to the holo covering that very issue. “’We’re projecting that they do absolutely nothing,’” Barnes says with the practiced tone of a lifetime intelligence officer. “’They already have their trump card on the way, so a ground invasion would be a needless waste of life on their end. They’ll most likely consolidate their control over China and use it as a base to harass defense forces to tie up alliance resources, and try to get an orbital put up however they can. Speaking of which, our number one priority has to be orbital defense -’
’Orbital defense?’ Kroger cuts in. ’Director, let me be frank: with what? We can’t even keep the ISS running without the damn Russians. We have literally dozens of high-value strategic assets up there and nothing to defend them with. We can’t let them get that far in their planning. We have to seize their airspace before they can get ASATs into position. I’ve got some...platforms we can deploy for strategic recon. We’ll follow up with deep penetration strikes by our F-35s. Just tell us what to look for, we’ll find it and kill it from the air.’
’Due respect, General, but what part of eighty-kilometer effective engagement altitude was hard to understand?’” Barnes says. “’These platforms were designed to pluck incoming ships from the edge of space - spotting a SR-71 at operating altitude isn’t going to be hard, and F-35s won’t stand a chance.’
’What would?’” Kroger asks.
’Inside the range, nothing in the air,’” Barnes replies. “’We’re purely space-based for observation on China now. I’m working on securing assets to guarantee orbital superiority for the time being.’
’Alien craft, I take it? You know that’s going to cost us, right? They’ve already put the gun to our head with that deadline of theirs, and now this…’” He looks away briefly. “’I’m going to run it past the boss. If they call you...if they call you, tell them we’re going to have to figure it out, but for now we won’t contest Alliance craft in orbit over the AO until we have our own defense system up and running.’” He chuckles. “’So they don’t need to worry about us trying to ram a satellite into their rides. I mean, who are we kidding? They’re gonna do what they’re gonna do. The way I see it, best not to get between them and China right now. So, anything else I should take with me to the CIC?’
’That’s all for now, General. I’ll keep you updated,’” Barnes replies.
’Understood,’” Kroger says. “’One more thing, Director. I don’t know where 815 is or what they’re doing right now, but...would you tell them ‘good luck’ from me?’
’I will at first opportunity, General,’” Barnes replies.
’Appreciate it,’” Kroger says. “’I’ll check in with you later, Director. Goodbye for now.’
’Goodbye, General,’” Barnes says, and waves the connection closed.

The whole of the GRHDI staff had gathered on the main floor while Barnes talked to General Kroger. They had stayed silent while Barnes talked on the holo, and now that the connection was closed, they turned their attention from the holodisplay to Barnes. Sheen, Bashakra’i, Narsai’i, and Wherren, all eyes turned towards Samantha Barnes.
“I know that this is scary,” Barnes says. “None of us expected the Imperium to make a move on Narsai this quickly. But they’re here now, and we have to decide what we’re going to do about that - and I mean we as in the people in this office. We all know that the Narsai’i aren’t equipped for this fight, and the Bashakra’i, Sheen, and Wherren have their own problems to deal with - which means that we will have to fill in the gap. This means that for the Narsai’i here, we might have to...step on some toes and cross some lines. I am not here to be worse than the Imperium would be. Narsai’i freedom is my number one priority - I am asking you to consider the difference between the Narsai’i and the way we govern ourselves. If this makes you uncomfortable, you can step out now and there will be no hard feelings. But in this office, we will do what it takes to keep this planet safe - even if it’s from ourselves. We can halt the Imperium’s gains - they have no orbital control, and we can get Interceptors faster than they can. After that, we turn their toe-hold into a resource drain, and buy ourselves time to continue the fight elsewhere. All I ask is for your support in getting the job done.”
No one moves.
“Good,” Barnes replies. “Now, get back to work.”

Everyone breaks off, and the bustle and noise of the GRHDI office on war footing resumes as Barnes walks back into her office. She hasn’t even sat down before Katelin closes the door behind them.
’Ma’am, can I ask a question in private?’” Katelin asks.
’Apparently you can,’” Barnes replies.
’Are you...are you saying you’re going to ignore the President’s orders?’” Katelin asks.
’If I have to, yes,’” Barnes says, the bluntness stunning Katelin. “’Narsai - Earth can’t afford to wait for our leaders to figure out that the world’s changed any longer. I was fine with gently leading them down the primrose path before, but we don’t have time for that anymore. The Imperium is here, Katelin. We don’t have 30 years - we don’t even have 30 days. While the Joint Chiefs and the UN and all the presidents and prime ministers talk about how best to fling our little rockets up to put a satellite or two in place a month from now, the Imperium is reassembling Interceptors and freighters and will have a gatekeg in place before you know it. By the time they’ve settled on a launch vehicle, there will be a Needleship in orbit to turn the launchpad into glass. We’re doing what we need to do, and will do so as long as we need to. If that means acting independently of any country, with our own forces, then that’s how it’s going to be.’
Katelin shifts uncomfortably from one foot to the other. “’It’s just...it sounds like treason.’
’Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason,’” Barnes replies. “’We’re taking the fight to the Imperium - because the Narsai’i can’t. Sounds like the opposite of treason to me.’” She sighs and leans back into her chair. “’I’m not comfortable with this. I didn’t want it. I wanted GRHDI to be what it says on our charter - an advisory office to the President. But we’re not being listened to, and the lives of every American - every Narsai’i - are at stake. And after Botane...I’m done watching Narsai’i die because our leaders can’t figure it out. And if that means doing what they can’t, then that’s what we’re going to do - we’re going to take the ‘Homeworld Defense’ part of our name literally. As soon as the Narsai’i figure their shit out, we’ll hand over.’
’And what if it’s not...soon?’” Katelin asks.
Barnes is quiet for a moment, and her gaze dropped down to her desk. “’We’ll worry about that when it happens. Right now, we’re the only ones that can save billions of people. We don’t have a choice.’” She looked up at Katelin. “’Right?’
Katelin also paused in thought. “’Right.’” She stood up. “’I’ll get back to you with the Atea connection in a few minutes, Ma’am.’
Barnes nodded - but without as much fire in her eyes as she had in the bullpen. “’Thanks, Katelin,’” she said, and went back to her holodisplay as Katelin walked out the door.

Re: IC 6 - Hamburg - Day 3

Gatac posted in IC 6 - Hamburg - Day 3 on 2019-01-15 19:26:22
Fifteen seconds later, the elevator slows its descent and gently stops. There's no pinging as the doors open, which seems strange until you remember that this is Germany and ADA compliance is not a thing here. In any event, the hallway outside seems much the same as the one from the level above, but the forks at the end are substantially less balanced; the left one only goes to a compact utility cabinet and some emergency firefighting gear, while the right one winds around the elevator and fire stair shafts towards THE VAULT.

Well, an armored door, at least four inches thick in the middle, with a biometric scanner mounted next to it. The door has popped open, though, while the biometric scanner's little display blinks information about its network config, firmware version and current status, which is "Außer Betrieb". But behind that door - THE VAULT. The humming coming from it is tremendous. There's a reason why there's a case with several rows of ear protectors mounted to the wall just before the entrance door.

A quick scan of the hallway panels does not reveal the same seams as the sublevel above. There's no guidance panel next to the elevator either, presumably because a) everybody who comes here knows the way and b) there's nowhere to get lost here. Compared to what you've just seen, this whole setup looks...almost sensible.

Re: Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3

punkey updated in Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3 on 2019-01-13 20:46:54
Brinai huffs and fusses for a bit longer, but once everyone finishes their pre-mission checks, she stands aside and simply wishes them luck as they pile into the Manta that will be their living quarters for the next...day or so. Zaef and Luis flip a lat to see who takes the first shift, while everyone else stows their gear - with the exception of FTE, who simply latches itself into the mounts in the ceiling as gear. There’s not a lot of conversation - the intensity and focus of the mission sucks a lot of the air out of the room, even if the actual danger is more than a day away. It’s still another “suicide mission”, and that’s something that no one here takes lightly.

It’s a good hour or two just to the Gateway out of the dead system that Atea resides in, and so everyone settles down for the long haul. Hale, ever the experienced Turai, finds his favorite seat - a squad leader slot, of course, not that such things matter in the 815 - and leans back to assume the traditional zoned-out position of someone watching a holo on their helm’s display. Garrett and Ngawai huddle together in a corner, presumably to do the same. Everyone’s more than experienced on spending long hours in a Manta, sharing the same small volume of recycled air, passing around holos over vox, and stepping over each other to use the waste dump. Mission parameters mean that everyone's cut off from Atea and Narsai, making it so that for something so dangerous and clandestine, the opening of the raid on the Akwhela’s Eye is more like a lazy weekend away than a surgical military strike.

Re: Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3

Gatac posted in Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3 on 2019-01-13 20:42:32
Hug’sh hears the Narsai’i comms traffic suddenly burst into life - units under fire, vehicles exploding, casualties. His eyes flick to the holo, which is just as information-sparse as ever around the Narsai’i units. Time for the Hail Mary vox call.
”Orphan Grinder, do you still have a shell in orbit over the AO?” he voxes. ”I need eyes on what the fuck just happened.”
“On my way back,” Orphan Grinder replies. “But I can swing back around - holy fuck that’s accelerator signature. Uh, I’m not going anywhere near that unless you got the spare change for a new shell.” A sconce points in the rough direction of the border and zooms in far enough to show an image partially blurred by the atmosphere between it and the hot zone - but Hug’sh has seen enough blurry Narsai’i drone footage in his time to know what to look for. There’s a swivel on the screen, and that change defines the shape enough for Hug’sh to make it out - a projector-looking device on a pivot, mounted on a concrete-looking tower. It fires, and the barrel assembly stands out, and Hug’sh can just about make out the white coolant puff from the firing. The sconce pivots again - another puff and blue false-color EM signature 4 klicks down the line, and another further beyond that. Someone really doesn’t want anyone coming through this border.

A cold chill - and a deep violet/yellow splash - runs down Hug’sh’s hump. He might not know how to set the cruise control on the BMW he used to lease, but the Imperial equivalent of ACHTUNG PANZER is burned in deep and that’s a goddamn Perch - or Rah’pah if you want to be Naranai’i about it. All-aspect heavy accelerator as a primary effector, 2 kg hypervelocity homing killdrone payload - and “hypervelocity” was putting it mildly, get it onto suborbital defense mode and shit got relativistic, Point Zero Zero Five c which sounds small but Luis has told him is still extremely fucking fast, like Portland to L.A. in a second fast. In-atmo autonomous target discrimination out to 80 klicks, and easily fast enough to act as its own CIWS against cruise missiles and artillery. If that thing gets line of sight on you, you better be current on your life insurance payments because there ain’t gonna be enough left of you to bury. Up until now, Hug’sh had not had occasion to deal with one - those were the kind of semi-autonomous defensive emplacements you put on frontier worlds to discourage planetary invasions from deep space.

In short, the Narsai’i are not dressed for this dance.

”Cooper!” he calls, hastily scribbling a message on his notepad. Withdraw at best speed as far as possible. Anything with line of sight to the towers will be killed.
’Not now!’” Cooper shouts, not looking at Hug’sh. “’Apologies, General, but I have a situation.’
Well, if he won’t look over...Hug’sh leaves the coordination of alliance forces to Iro and walks over to Cooper, notepad held in front of him. All he has to do is get Cooper to look up...and then tap wildly on the notepad when he does.
Cooper takes the bait for a moment. “’No shit,’” he says. “’Any other insights, or can I get back to saving my men?’” He looks over at Iro. “’How about you? Anything smart to say?’” he shouts.
Iro’s look at Cooper is a new one - genuine regret and deference. “’Run,’” he says in a thick Imperial accent.

Okay, message received. Hug’sh lowers his head a bit and backs up, giving Cooper some space. The notepad comes out again, though, as Hug’sh scribbles down as much of the technical data on the Rah’pah as he can recall. Not that it’s gonna do the Narsai’i forces much good out there right now, but it will - he hopes - at least put a label on their nightmare. Onas, Paul and Bello have come out of their corner - Onas and Bello have noticed from the shouting and Hug’sh’s colors that something has gone terribly wrong, and Paul, of course, knows exactly what the panicking Narsai’i are saying.
“Holy fucking shit,” Paul says, running over behind Cooper and watching his screen update. “They’re getting slaughtered.”

Cooper ignores Hug’sh - not out of rudeness, but because he’s flipping through tactical channels as fast as he can, coordinating new lanes of retreat for the battalion commanders underneath him. Once he unfucks the situation in front of him, he finally looks up at Hug’sh and takes the piece of paper. “’Thank you, General,’” Cooper says, looking it over, his hands shaking as he raises a pair of reading glasses to his face. He looks it over, hands pulling the paper taut. “’This is all well and good, but there’s really only one question, gentlemen - how. How the fuck did this end up on my planet? This is alien tech, so there shouldn’t be four of them tearing a third of a division apart in less than five fucking minutes!’” Cooper slams the paper down on the table in front of him. “’General Briwama, General Walks-the-Fire - how did this get here?’
Hug’sh grumbles as he writes out a new message. Remember briefing about rogue gateway. This is confirmation, components too big to smuggle through Bashakra’i facility. Gateway must exist inside China. No idea how they installed them.
Iro nods. “This is the work of the Imperium. They must have made a deal with these Narsai’i.”

Cooper listens to the the translation with his head bowed. “’So you’re telling me the Imperium is here, on Earth, that we don’t know about, and they’ve installed four of these things across the Afghanistan border without us noticing.’
“They can be constructed in a day,” Iro says. “Put up the forms, spraycrete the forms, drop the system into the mount and hook everything up. They’re designed to be erected quickly in remote areas. If you wanted to put up a secure perimeter in a hurry without being seen...that’s what I would do. Usually there’s some kind of energy barrier that goes with it.”
“Hey, hey guys,” Orphan Grinder says in Naranai’i ears. It’s now the last eyes over the AO, with the Narsai’i beating as fast as a retreat as their battered vehicles will let them. “I’m reading a energy barrier in front of the border, about ten meters tall?”
“There it is,” Onas says.
“Uh, it’s not stopping. And -” Orphan Grinder’s voice cuts off, and then returns a moment later. “Okay, well, RIP that shell.”
”Thank you, Orphan Grinder,” Hug’sh says. ”If you could send us a dump of whatever you got -”
“Imma let you finish, Chief, but there’s a big fucking problem,” Orphan Grinder says. “Last thing I saw was more Rah’pah coming online - outside of the Narsai’i AO. At least five or six, both directions. And that energy barrier didn’t stop, either.”
Hug’sh considers the implications, then scribbles furiously on the notepad. We have to assume complete coverage of the border around China until we know otherwise. Clear anything within 80 klicks in the air or within horizon on ground. I hope they don’t shoot down civilian flights leaving now. You will need them as witnesses. Inform your leaders.
Cooper turns to the ubiquitous CNN feed running in any proper TOC, and turns pale. “’My god.’

They shot down planes. Didn’t even deny takeoff clearances or turn around inbound flights - it looks to Hug’sh like the moment the guns turned on here, the ones over Shanghai, Beijing, and the rest of the PRC just straight shot down any planes crossing the invisible line, inbound or outbound. The really creepy part was that, after that happened and about a dozen planes got splashed without warning, the ones still in the air did get told to turn back and land or were ordered to divert after they announced that civilian ATC was now under the control of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force. CNN is broadcasting smoking wreckage, panicking people, and a sober-looking-but-obviously-terrified newscaster right up until all the feeds from inside China cut off, leaving just the newscaster stunned into horrified silence.

A cold red runs down Hug’sh’s fur. ”I think they just declared war,” he says.

Re: Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3

punkey posted in Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3 on 2019-01-13 20:40:57
Captain Tom Radler shifts in his seat. They’ve been chasing the damn hajis over the fucking mountains for an hour now - they’d set up, fire a few shots, and retreat, then do it all over again. Half of him is happy they’re finally pushing the damn camel-fuckers out of the country, the other half is bored out of his mind. A few bursts from the lead .50 was enough to chase them off.
“So nice of the aliens to fuck off for the real work,” he mutters to himself.
“I hear that, Sir,” the Lance Corporal at the wheel says.
Radler looks over at the BFT unit crowding him against the door, and it shows the Chinese border even on the tactical-level zoom he has it set at. Pretty soon it’ll be time to put it in park and call it a day.

“Hey, sir, what’s that?” the Lance - Hansen, or something - asks.
Radler looks back through the windshield, and sees some kind of guard tower with a big searchlight thing on top. “Looks like the Chinese built some kind of guard tower to keep the Muj out,” he says. “Maybe they’ve done our jobs for us.”

The searchlight turns their way. “Hey, dumbasses, searchlights only work at night,” Radler grumbles.
“Sir, that doesn’t look like a searchlight,” the Lance says. “Looks like it has a barrel on it.”