Jade Imperium - This Time It's Still Personal

Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-08-28 06:15:57
The next few months drag on and on. Everyone settles into a routine as the joint operation surrounding the alien Gateway irons out its wrinkles.

Arketta Quis makes it through basic training and, amidst grumbles, is attached to the away mission. Hethna Varos continues to be an asshole, but he's a cooperative asshole.

The rest of the time passes with training, research, and precious little leave. Mellish visits Dietrich - Junior is back with his family in South Carolina, but he has his bad days, days when he can't remember his daughter's name or where he was born. The feds are still tracking him, just in case. Livia Colomaya finally acquiesces to Semo and the Delta operator finally gets a date. It goes well, but Livia's not about to take it further, not with someone who's going across the galaxy.

Diego Garcia Naval Support Facility - Four Months Later

The Turai "keg" takes up three rooms in the cold sublevel on the island. It's all silver and chrome, like someone poured quicksilver over an oil derrick. The Gateway it produced a week ago hangs on the wall of the departure room. A 15-foot wide hydraulic press blocks the ring, waiting for the command code to retract into the departure room wall. Modified SWORDS drones, armed with .50 caliber machine guns, watch the artifact day and night. Unlike the Whiirr debacle, you already know the DG Gate's address. Video footage from the keg's operation shows the Gate glyphs illuminating one by one, in a specific order, then glowing in unison as the Gateway was completed.

The nearest land is hundreds of miles away, but you feel the strange anxiety that comes from knowing that soon just a few steps will take you trillions of miles.

The Russians supplied you with crates of PB6P9 pistols, specialty silenced handguns. Semo fiddles with the hilt of his Turai blade. Arketta checks her beam rifle one last time, confirming once again that the IFF components have been disabled. Hethna Varos is there, replendent in Army fatigues and a helmet. The helmet's lined with a Faraday cage, a device that should block his implants.

"We're five minutes from full power," General Hogue barks. The bulldog-faced officer walks into the departure room flanked by Agent Sturgis. "You've got the password to radio back for us to unblock the Gate, either here or at Mesas Negras. We'll be staying dark. If no one else has anything to add, good hunting."
Gatac 2007-08-28 21:54:09
As usual, Hugh's last minutes before launch are spent doing an equipment drill. He's producing rather a lot of clicks as he unloads and reloads his weapons, chambering a bullet in his rifle with a satisfying SLAP! of the bolt.

"Once more unto the breach..."
CrazyIvan 2007-08-29 06:47:58
Angel stands behind Taylor, idly adjusting the scope on his rifle, frowning slightly. Thus far he's refused one of the beam rifles, and he intends to stick with that policy. But they are light weight, and that would be nice...especially with the added weight of the camo cloak and helmet webbing he's carrying.

After checking one last thing, he relaxes slightly, his rifle held near his waist, the frown replaced with a slight grin.

"There are exists at the front and rear of the gateway and over the wings. In the event of a water landing..."
Dieter 2007-08-29 16:09:37
Max is double-triple-quadruple checking everything on the his requisition list. The idea of himself being the one and only source of any sort of hard scientific know-how is a bit unnerving. The thoughts of the lone high school science geek being trapped a few trillion miles away with only the football team to talk to is also not a very happy thought. He's also being more mindful of his own security, packing the latest in appropriated Turai weaponry along with substantially upping the stopping power in his sidearms, having won a tech sergeant's prized Colt .45 during a two-day marathon game of Texas Hold 'Em. He did promise the Sarge he'd have a chance to win it back if/when the Team made it back.

*pulls the slide back and checks the sights*

"So, everyone remember....when the shit hits the fan, PROTECT THE GODDAMN SCIENTIST!"
CrazyIvan 2007-08-29 18:46:34
Angel grins.

"Doctor, defend thyself. Or at least have the good sense to go for cover."
Gatac 2007-08-29 19:07:45
Hugh smirks.

"Keep your gun clean and your buddies alive, Doc. The rest'll sort itself out."
fanchergw 2007-08-29 20:26:10
Semo is actually surprised when Livia agrees to a date. Being sequestered to base limits their options: dinner at the mess hall and a movie in the on-base theatre. Still, the best part by far is sitting outside under the stars talking. It's a beautiful night and Livia is easy to talk to. By time they return inside, Semo feels like he's really beginning to know Livia and hopes there will be a next time.

Of course, that means surviving the mission...

The big day arrives soon enough. Semo trades out his usual sidearm for one of the Russian pistols. Still, when it comes to quiet killing, the alien sword at his side will likely be his best option. Otherwise, he loads up on as much ammo for the MK and frag grenades as he can carry. Running out would quickly become a fatal disability.

When the general gives the five-minute warning, Semo moves into his assigned position. A quick glance and smile to Livia in the control booth, and then he's all business. Ready to face whatever they find on the other side of this Gate...
punkey 2007-08-30 11:52:01
Davis is going over the order that things need to go in for the mission to work in his head for the thousandth time and attempting to iron out how they're going to walk through the gate with a couple crates of what obviously look like weapons, no matter what culture you're from. Speaking of which, he also fiddles with his SCAR distractedly. He's never liked the wait before a mission starts.
e of pi 2007-08-30 19:57:37
Luis stands in the Diego Garcia Gateroom, waiting as the clock counts down to the start of their mission. As he waits, he mentally runs through a checklist of his supplies and pats down the ones he might need quickly to make sure he's ready to go. SMG, check. New toy, he taps his recently-issued beam gun, check. He chuckles a bit at Max and Angel's exchange, then double checks the location of his med-kit, ToughBook, and demolitions stash. Delicate equipment, check. Speaking of delicate situations, he looks over his shoulder at Semo, who's throwing supposedly-inocuous glances at the woman the big man has been chasing. Then, on the other side, Arketta, the female Turai who tried to take Luis' arms off back at Mesa Negras during the operation there, who's going through similar checking-out with her Earth gear, obviously about as comfortable with them as the other Deltas are with their beam guns or stingers. Completing his mental check of his supplies as the mission clock closes in on start, he does a final check on his SMG and mutters to himself in Imperial, *Let's do this thing.*
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-08-31 17:01:22
*Gate activation in 10 seconds.*

The hydraulic press grinds its way back into the wall, unblocking the Gateway. It looks like some giant piece of modern art, hanging on the white-painted concrete wall and wrapped in the bracing that allows Control to dial remotely.

*4... 3... 2...*

"Mazel tov," Mellish grunts. You avert your eyes as the golden flash cascades off every corner of the Gate room, revealing a large concourse divided into waiting rooms, much like an underground airport boarding area. The concourse is lit by a flickering hologram of piss-yellow sky with steel clouds. The walls constantly shift, displaying propoganda and advertisements. There are less people down here than you expected, and while they look up at the unscheduled Gateflash, they turn their attentions downward, to handheld PDA-like devices, their children, or their food.

A floating drone, like the attack drones you've faced before but unarmed, hovers in front of the portal. It turns and whirrs slowly away down a floor that shifts colors to display a green line. Presumably it's your exit path.

There are six Turai in the concourse - two leaning on one of the walls, two more on patrol through the area. A third duo stand close to the portal and impatiently wave you on through after the drone. Their demeanor suggests they 1) are bored out of their mind and 2) don't see a lot of conflict down here in the Gateport.
Gatac 2007-08-31 21:12:53
Hugh moves forward, and the rest of the team quickly falls in behind him. He's got the weapons hanging off him like he doesn't seriously expect to use them, but there's an awful lot of firepower at their disposal. He mostly ignores the turai and the drone, instead following the green line.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-08-31 21:32:46
Fly casual, you can't help but think as you step through the Gateway. The drug cocktail the doctors gave you ward off the worst of the immediate gravimetric and barometric change, but even the slight increase makes you sag under Botane's oppressive gravity and cloying atmosphere.

The constant humming of the Earth Gateroom's systems is replaced with the buzzing of conversation, the repeated exhortations of the wall-advertisements, and the drone of what might be a subway or tram skimming past somewhere in the complex. The din is punctuated every now and then by a faint scream, an engine straining to lift its payload up and away from Botane.

The impassive mirrored helmets of the Turai watch you enter the concourse, but make no attempt to stop you on your way down the green line on the floor. The ground is cold and metallic, but feels much softer under your boots. The drone ahead of you is piping audio back towards you as you pass scattered groups of citizens waiting for their scheduled portals.

*Welcome, travelers, to one of the Imperium's many industrial hearts. Proceed quickly and quietly through the scanners ahead of you.*

Sure enough, the exit corridor leaves the faux holographic sky and goes through a short tunnel free of the visual vomit that screams off of every flat surface in the concourse. A low humming accompanies your walk through the scanner, but no alarms are raised, no questions are asked. Evidently the Imperial scanners really don't pick up firearms.

*The starport is to your right. Local accomodations and surface travel can be found to your left. Thank you and enjoy yo-* The piped audio cuts out prematurely and the drone whips around, heading back to its post in the concourse.

You're now in a truly massive hall built into the side of a canyon. Train-like vehicles speed out between the canyon walls. A blood-red sun peeks over the opposite cliff, painting the dirty sky with rust. Above you, more levels open up to the grand hall; bars, stores, and more. The bottom floor, where you are, is jammed with what looks like a Middle Eastern bazaar. Unrecognizable doodads hang from garish stalls and shopkeepers, their skins brightly colored in all manner of designs, hock their wares to the people just out of the Gate or waiting to depart.

"This planet is a cesspool," Arketta hisses. "These items are trinkets at best and less than useless at worst."
Gatac 2007-08-31 21:58:34
"I wonder if they have snowglobes," Hugh murmurs to nobody in particular, then gets his move back on.

"Well, one of those dealers might be able to help us. Question is, who?"
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-08-31 22:20:52
"We need a ship's master, or someone who knows the freight docks," Arketta says. "This scum here would sell you out for a hit of slam."
punkey 2007-08-31 23:27:03
"That's what we're hoping for," Davis says. He looks behind them, back into the terminal. "We should get out of here in case that drone is hooked up to the Imperial network and we get ID'd. Starport's to the left?"
Dieter 2007-09-01 00:06:43
Max spends the first few minutes taking in the alien technology, being most mindful of the "dialing" mechanism used on this side of the Fargate.

Other than that, he's keeping a low profile and trying not to inadvertantly create a intergalactic incident within the first hour of arrival.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-09-01 02:47:08
Max can't get a lot of information out of the concourse. It looks like the outbound portals are fed in from some remote location, but there does appear to be a small pedestal jutting out from the side of the Gateway sconce. Presumably it's a manual coding device. Then he's ushered down the tunnel to the scanners and immediately overwhelmed by the tacky display of commerce at any cost in the grand hall.
e of pi 2007-09-01 18:44:17
Luis shudders a bit as the group passes through the Gateport, partially out of worry that somebody will demand authorization to carry all the weapons they are, partially out of the transition from one atmosphere and gravity to a very similar, but slightly different set, partially out just how similar the Gateport is to some of the nightmares he had after the first mission. However, when the first two prove irrelevant, he shoves the last aside and focuses on the mission as they step out into the cavernous bazaar. The drone breaks off and heads back into the Gateport, and they're left in the middle of the huge mass of commerce. He takes up the rear as they move out towards the Starport, looking around to see if anybody is taking any...unusual notice in the group.
CrazyIvan 2007-09-02 07:55:00
Angel walks through in the middle of the group, wincing slightly as he goes through the portal. He gets a little more dazed as he walks through the tunnel of commercialism, but overall the group appears to have made it through the gate and past a checkpoint of sorts, despite being armed to the teeth.

Decent start.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-09-02 16:16:24
The team makes their way towards the starport, navigating the labyrinth of shop stalls and making their way to a battery of lifts enclosed in transparent sheaths. Taylor and Mellish curse as they bump the crate into yet another annoyed bystander. It's here that Angel and Hugh notice that they're not the only armed people on the promenade. A hilt sticks out from a gentleman's worn jacket here, there a holster sits under a woman's semi-opaque glitterrobes.

You catch a glimpse of a Turai here and there, as well as what must be the Kansatai. They wear the pebbled black undersuits of the Turai, with orange patterned robes and equipment belts. Their helmets, while similar to the swept-back crested Turai helmets, have open faces and are crowned with tiny golden avians. They carry much shorter, slimmer longarms than the Turai beam rifles. Most have swords as well.

You all manage to pile onto a single lift. A holographic panel displays a simple map of the Gateport/Starport alternating between top and side elevation. Arketta presses the fake control panel and the lift smoothly floats upward, humming gently.

You estimate you're six stories up when the lift glides to a halt. The bazaar below is a miniature carnival. You're now above Botane's surface; the arid land around the canyon is pockmarked with industrial machinery, manufactoriums, and sprawling networks of mass transit. In the distance rises a massive palatial building, curvy and baroque.

The starport level is again abuzz with the shifting walls. A running list of arrivals and departures scrolls down the corridors at eye height. Unlike an Earth airport, however, there are hardly any citizens here you could peg as "tourists". It seems that with the Gate network supplying the needs of the casual traveler, space travel must be limited to cargo and business. Many of the people on the Starport level wear impressive clothing; flowing transparent cloaks, golden gaudy jewelry, brightly colored tattoos. Several of these are accompanied by various forms of bodyguard. Some have small round drones, like Luke Skywalker's infamous training droid, floating above them. You even spot a Whiirr in a color-shifting tunic stalking forward ahead of a client. Then there's the spacers. Eschewing the ornate accoutrements favored by many here, they all seem to prefer close-fitting suits in various patterns. They gather in threes and fours at what can only be bars, sometimes with chalk-faced women, or singly - lost in thought, drink, or drugs. After a bit of rubbernecking, it seems that there is some structure to the proceedings. One area of the sprawling level appears to be given over to business meetings. Here crew meet with the nobles over food and drink.

For the more direct-minded, however, impassive signs signal the way to "Docks".

Max doesn't realize he's being spoken to until the woman grabs his arm, prompting a shocked jump from the scientist.

"I said, what's wrong with your clothes?" Her exotic face is painted stark white. A purple line runs from her left eye, like a tear, all the way down to her full-length robe, which blurs just enough for modesty while revealing more than enough to satisfy the curiosity. "They're all just stuck on static."