Jade Imperium - Came To Make A Bang

punkey 2019-10-19 08:32:11
September 2016 - "All right ramblers, let's get rambling!"
punkey 2019-10-19 08:32:21
Bello seems to be very satisfied with Paul’s training - by the time the whole of the 815 are in their briefing room, Bello is just seated off to one side while Paul shuffles a few folders around on the holo built into the table. He even stands straight up as he waits for everyone to settle in, looking for all the world like, well, like Onas’ husband but Bello’s protogé.

“I just want to make it clear that I think you’re biting off more than you can chew here,” Paul says.
“You’re even starting to sound like Bello,” Ngawai cracks from her seat against the wall.
“If by that you mean ‘sensible and not looking to get a bunch of you killed’, then I’ll take that as a compliment,” Paul says. “Hopefully you decide to just kill one or two of these people, but as has been made clear to me that the 815 are beyond any accountability, so just do what you want.”
”Feel better now?” Swims-the-Black grunts.
“A bit,” Paul says, and claps his hands together. “All right, let’s lay this out.”

----

Ibash could take the award for “Most Average Imperial World” in a walkoff. Population just under 2 billion, climate not too wet for deserts, not too hot for forests, classic temperate world from the first big push that gave Expansion their name. The main thing they’re known for is raw materials and shipbuilding - the system has an extensive asteroid belt just beyond Ibash’s orbit, and nearly a quarter of the Imperium’s skimmers and a third of the civilian ships come from the Ibash yards and fab facilities. Nothing military, nothing too strategically important, but still plenty of lats flowing around, which gives the system the perfect combination of plenty of money and lax oversight to breed corruption.

Oh, and what corruption has grown. What Bello’s network estimates started as simple cooperation to loosen up rules keeping mining and shipbuilding separate and reduce taxes has turned into a full on five-membered cabal that has the whole star system under their thumbs. The heads of the five shipyards, Ralon Toa, Arlomai Teon, Nana Vaoth, Hoa Yarruis, and Zaakon Quaj, started out “taking leadership roles” in the mining industria in return for hefty “consulting fees”, directing the raw materials direct to their concerns, and then reselling the excess themselves rather than through the mining concerns, bypassing Imperial quotas and price controls in the process in return for hefty “consulting fees”. Now, their control has grown beyond just mining and shipbuilding: they control the trade going through the Gateways (gotta make sure it serves the “concerns of Ibash”), they run protection rackets and control the industrium certifications (is that business truly serving Ibash if it’s not serving them?), and have the Kansat in their pocket as well as a reputation amongst the less-scrupulous mercenaries as a place where the jobs might be dirty but they pay well and there’s always more. Basically, a lat doesn’t move from one pocket on Ibash to another until they get a piece of it.

Normally the Imperium would round this little cabal up with a few quads of Turai and they’d be dragged out in front of the Steward’s office and executed for seditious economic influence, but they’ve been smart. Aside from making sure the Steward gets enough to look the other way, they keep outside appearances all in tip-top shape. The resources demanded by Napai are on time and on quota, the deliveries from the yards and forges keep on going, and the cabal is very careful to not traffic in anything specifically outlawed. It’s about as above board as illegal market collusion and racketeering can be, and combine that with the non-descript nature of the system, the Imperium never has a reason to give it a second glance amongst the thousand other worlds they have to worry about. What does the Imperium care if the local industria are terrified of having their businesses burned down and their family members kidnapped, or how many people disappear after trying to get word out? The Bashakra’i have a healthy network on Ibash thanks to all this corruption and fear, but with the utter domineering focus that the cabal puts on controlling every aspect of Ibash, they don’t have any opportunity to make a move.

The solution is simple - kill the head (or heads, in this case) and the beast will die. But considering they own the Kansat, have their own separate mercenary army, and run every inch of the system from the orbital Gateway to the ground, it’ll be easier said than done.

----

The planet of Grinacanne is hot, dry, and has roughly 500,000 people living a hard existence on its surface. It’s been a hotspot for the Bashakra’i for the last few years - the planet’s wealth of heavy metals and rare elements due to the extensive volcanic activity the planet experiences makes it a valuable resource but also mean a large population of lower-class workers in tough conditions, which makes it a prime target for Bashakra’i influence and infiltration. Controlling Grinacanne would give the Bashakra’i their first revolution and would also solve their resource and cash flow problems for the foreseeable future, while the Imperium both doesn’t want to lose the resource flow and definitely doesn’t want to give the Bashakra’i the win. This means that both sides have invested heavily in the struggle to overthrow the government on Grinacanne.

The planet has more or less broken up into a patchwork of areas either directly under Imperial control, or nominally under Imperial control that the Turai conspicuously avoid patrolling. It hasn’t erupted into full-blown war (mostly because if it did, the Bashakra’i would lose), mostly skirmishes surrounding the few Imperial raids into Bashakra’i territory. The planet’s business keeps on going, but the Bashakra’i keep on peeling away neighborhoods and loyalties. It’s usually not more than a day on planet before they make their intro to any new workers. The Imperium does what it can to maintain control, but Grinacanne has been a losing cause for the better part of a year now for them.

That is, until two months ago. As a part of Emperor Thrax’s “get tough on terrorists” campaigns, a whole hand of Turai (a hand being five digits, a digit being four sections, and a section being six quads for a grand total of 480 Turai) were sent there with the expressed purpose of crushing any Bashakra’i cells on the planet. They proceeded to do what the Imperial Turai do best - kick in doors, round up people on no evidence, and execute anyone they can link to the Bashakra’i. That alone would be bad enough for the rebellion there, but given how poorly the population at large is reacting, it could also be just what the medicae ordered for the start of a real revolution - if the Turai were just normal military thugs.

Instead, four quads, personally selected by the hand’s Rav-Odun, have been rounding up families of the community leaders to keep them in line - Steward included, just to be safe. These quads have been authorized to start running down a very long list of loved ones, friends, and associates of anyone even remotely of influence in Grinacanne’s city. As much as the people of Grinacanne want the Imperium out, they want their families to live more. And so the rebellion is caught between a rock and a hard place; too high a threat to not move to open warfare, but no support from the people until the threat to their families and friends are out of danger. The four death quads live in a segregated encampment out in the desert, moving around daily to keep the rebels from mounting a rescue mission. Temporary shelters means no emplacements, but it also means having to hunt down the base, eliminate the patrols, and kick the tent flaps open before it turns into a bloodbath.

----

Things have not exactly gone smoothly on Aikoro since the 815 last visited the planet. The escape of the Akamu and the terrorists on board - not to mention all the damage and havoc wreaked by your escapades - lead to the removal of the planet’s native-born Steward and her replacement with someone from off-world. The new Steward, Aksa Olona, differs from the old Steward in one very key way: he has zero interest in maintaining the natural splendor of Aikoro when there’s resources to be captured instead. The beautiful picturesque mountains and forests, well, that’s plenty of wood and resources to be harvested, and it’s about high time Aikoro stopped being one of those lazy, layabout tourist worlds and truly become a productive member of the Imperium.

To that end, the Steward has brought in the latest large-scale harvesting automation. Fifty-foot-tall gantries to harvest the trees and cut them down for wood, giant crawler-diggers that whittle mountains from the top-down into their constituent components, and vast streams of automated loader/haulers to carry it to the ports off-world. In the last six months alone, over 10,000 square kilometers have been stripped bare and mined smooth. The Aikoro paradise forests are literally being paved flat.

This, not unreasonably, has agitated the locals quite a bit. Several interest groups sprang up in response, first to petition the Steward to change course, then to condemn and organize against the decisions, and then after the arrests and re-educations, the majority of the surviving groups have all separately contacted the Bashakra’i to ask for aid in saving their planet. Keeping the Imperium from strip-mining the beauty and nature of a world and shipping it off strikes an obvious chord with the Bashakra’i, and they’ve been working the last month or so to figure out a good way in.

The main obstacle - there’s no one easy target to strike. The Bashakra’i excel at making corrupt bureaucrats and bloodthirsty Turai dead, but almost all of this system of environmental destruction is automated. There’s no one central node to strike and no hand on the controls. The Steward simply selects an area to be processed, and away the drones go. There’s enough Turai there to slow the kind of massed manpower attack long enough for the Needleships in orbit to come to bear, and the system is simply too large for smaller acts of sabotage to really make a dent. Let it never be said that the Bashakra’i don’t like the classics - they already looked into simply killing the Steward and making it clear that he died for his crimes against the planet, but Thrax likes the idea of taking Aikoro and “making something useful out of it”, so the next one will probably pick up right where he left off. The Bashakra’i are stuck, and really looking for a big idea to shake things up.

----

“So, there you have it,” Paul says. Onas has since joined the briefing, and is standing behind his husband. “You wanted big problems, these are our three biggest. Hopefully, you see the wisdom in taking on maybe just one of them, given that you want to do this within the next week.”
“If you have any questions on what we can supply, I can answer them,” Onas says. “Between Paul and myself, we’re fully up to speed on all three of these.”
Brinai and Bello sit together off to the side. “As much as Paul and Bello would object...I think now is the time to remind the Imperium what this alliance, and especially what the Bashakra’i, can do if we don’t let the Narsai’i dictate our goals,” Brinai says. “We have dreamed too small as of late. It’s time to make a splash.”
e of pi 2019-10-19 17:13:34
Luis leans forward during the three briefings as Paul runs down the targets. "They all seem like they're splashy and likely to be influential, though in different ways. It strikes me, though, that Grinacanne seems to need our help first. It's an unstable situation with a lot of local lives at risk. Someone needs to hit that camp and liberate the hostages, but do it before those four quads can do anything to the hostages in response. If we can pull it off, we have the local Steward in our debt along with other locals, and the Bashakra'i would be well positioned to turn that into a push for massive local support and all-out revolution. However, if the situation goes wrong before we can get there or if an attempt to liberate the hostages goes wrong, it could turn completely the other way, with the Steward and locals blaming us, and seriously impairing local operations. Ibash is stable with no active threats, and while Aikoro is seeing active damage to the planet, damage to lives appears to be more limited."

He looks to Onas. "I say we need to know what local Gate security is like for getting onto Grinacanne, local transport to help us get to the camp and run recon, then assistance to be ready to get the hostages transported to safety and carefully returned to their families while getting ready for a unified push in the aftermath of liberating the camp. Is that within local resources?"
Gatac 2019-10-19 17:34:32
"Agreed," Hug'sh says. "Even if we do nothing, we cannot predict what events might transpire that lead to the hostages coming to harm. Their safety is our top priority - and their rescue will, I hope, embolden people everywhere to stand up."

"After that, I believe we may want to tackle Ibash. From what I have heard in the briefing, it strikes me that there is little historic precedent for a five-way split of power. If the corruption is truly as far-spread as reported, then those five yard bosses must be devious people indeed. This does make it more difficult to gain breathing room, but bears one important advantage: liars and cheats do not trust other people."


He smiles.

"Imagine the surprise when I place a call to them all and inform them that one of them - to be determined by further research - has secretly agreed to provide the Free Wherren with spacecraft, at appropriately extortionate prices. Which would be all fine and good and not worth the fuss if they had delivered after taking our money. Instead, I will report that they have absconded with our payment and not replied to our messages, leaving us with no choice beyond this...escalation. And, I will threaten, a report of the scheme to the Imperial authorities, who I am sure would take the provision of war materiel to a hostile nation as something that cannot be overlooked."

He turns to Luis.

"Provided we can doctor up some supporting documents to strengthen our claims, we should be able to play off their paranoia and set a few dominos a-tumbling. This way, we leave most of the skulduggery to the local - ahem - experts and watch them tear each other down. The resulting chaos should create plenty of opportunities to tip the scales further in our favor."
CrazyIvan 2019-10-26 07:18:42
Angel ponders the three choices for a moment.

"Ginacanne is delicate, but I agree they need our help the most, and there's a significant victory to be had there if we can help turn things around. Taking on four quads worth of Turai is likely to be a challenge - without them spooking and killing the hostages - but I think we can pull it off."

He's clearly willing to go all-in on the three targets, though possibly not at the same time for the sake of prudence.

"Ibash could probably be helped along by some flashy murders once tensions are up, but we want to make sure the cartel implodes, not that it goes out in a blaze of glory, or causes enough fuss for the Turai to be deployed to keep the peace. Just a nice, civilized, internal bloodletting. Aikoro is a problem - I don't think we have a good measure of what we can do there. But if we want to turn that way, Angel Kesh's current cover as a dashing wilderness adventurer is probably enough to give me a reason to be there and get a better feel of where we can apply our brand of pressure."
punkey 2019-10-30 19:55:57
Zaef nods. "Taking on the fuckers threatening to kill entire families gets my vote."
"I agree," Hale says, and that gets a bit of a look. "Hey, fuck you all, just because I don't like killing Turai when we don't have to doesn't mean that we don't have to sometimes. They're holding families hostage, fuck them."
Garrett has sat at the back of the room, waggling his fingers at the holodisplay on his wrist while the others all talk. "Or we could do all three."

A pause settles over the room. "Well, go on then," Paul says with a sigh.
"Now you definitely sound like Bello," Ngawai cracks.
Garrett stands up and flicks his work to the big holodisplay. "Three teams - we have the main thrust to Grinacanne, since that's both the most pressing and the most manpower intensive. Grinacanne team finds the weak spot of the quads, fixes them in place, and eliminates the threat. Ibash team, we pull the same job we did on Hedion with the Iyuzo - divide their loyalties, get them to turn on each other. I'm thinking just three people should be enough, it's more of a job for spies than soldiers. And Aikoro seems like a straightforward cogitator job - we get some support from the Bashakra'i slicers and get their big fancy system to eat itself and cause some damage that gets the whole idea killed off."
Gatac 2019-10-31 06:32:38
Hug'sh smiles. "The only thing more audacious than those missions is running them all at the same time," he says. "A quintessentially 815 way of striking back. I'm in. I take it you want to take lead on Ibash, then?" He snorts. "I'll go for Grinacanne. Gives me an opportunity to apply my skills in maneuvering through tents to a better use than explaining How To Make War 101 to those Narsai'i."
e of pi 2019-11-02 17:36:58
"Running them all at the same time is ambitious, and would be impressive if we succeed. My only worry is if failing to allocate enough force for each risks failing completely, at least on Grinacanne," Luis says.
Gatac 2019-11-03 12:52:27
Hug'sh considers the matter. "That is an issue, but so is maintaining a stealthy approach," he says. "Our objective is the liberation of the hostages. A smaller team may have less firepower, but firepower doesn't help if we're made before we can get through the perimeter. On the flipside, more people means more movement, a bigger signature, more effort needed to coordinate. And, frankly, I think knowing we can't just shoot our way through the turai also guards against complacency."
punkey 2019-11-03 14:32:03
"The bigger the gunfight, the longer the Turai will have to execute their hostages," Arketta points out. "The goal is not to kill all the Turai, it is to make the opening we need to get the hostages out. If we start a big fight, that means more beams flying around, it means extracting hostages while under fire. If we are not already inside their camp by the time they know they are under attack, the hostages are dead."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2019-11-04 20:59:37
"I don't really care that much about natural splendor, existing as a virtual construct and all that," Front Toward Enemy says. "I'd prefer to go with the Grincanne team but the Aikoro mess sounds tailor-made to put a Sheen all up in their giant robots. The main question is what do we do with a dirt-bound platoon of construction mecha?"
punkey 2019-11-04 21:05:38
Garrett smirks. "Whatever we want. I'm sure there's all sorts of Turai infrastructure that would look a lot better reduced to component elements."
CrazyIvan 2019-11-06 21:33:03
Angel grins slightly. "Madcap plans by the spook always seem to work out decently enough. I can go wherever I'm needed - all of these will eventually need someone shot. Just have that feeling."
Gatac 2019-11-08 20:11:14
"If it is all the same to you, Angel, I want you with me on Grinacanne as overwatch," Hug'sh says, his eyes sweeping over Zaef and Arketta. "I would also like you two with me. Zaef, your instincts and your prowess at close range could be decisive. Swims may have kicked me up and down the training sands for a good while already but chances are, there'll be some call for...finesse...before I start throwing people around. And Arketta - well, I'm not quite sure yet how you'll end up saving our humps but I am quite sure we'll need you to do it. And you would be the best judge of what goes on in the camp. We'll need that insight to plan our final approach."
punkey 2019-11-08 20:58:08
"And I'm the best tactician," Arketta pipes up from her seat.
Hug'sh says nothing and just smirks with a green and red ripple through his fur.
Arketta shrugs and stands up. "I'm just saying, Hale would probably know current Turai field tactics better than me. Why not him?" Hale puts his hands up and leaned back, obviously wanting nothing to do with this discussion.

Arketta looks Hug'sh in the eyes. "Say it."
Hug'sh stands up and ruffles his fur. "Truly, you stand tallest among the giants of fieldcraft."
Arketta smirks as Hug'sh's smirk grows. "Nice try."
Hug'sh returns the smile. "Do we need to start the count again?"
"It's cute you think it ever stopped," Arketta says.
"I did handicap myself by getting promoted to General. What was I thinking?" Hug'sh grunts.
"It's okay to admit you've lost a step and best serve in a leadership role," Arketta says. "It's a sign of maturity."
Hug'sh lumbers over to stand over Arketta. "Well, it did get me the chance to talk to your mother. Maybe next time we'll look at baby pictures."
Arketta crosses her arms. "Good, I was adorable."
Hug'sh's fur ruffles again, green and yellow this time. "...loser cooks dinner for the team?"
Arketta smiles. "You know it."
Hug'sh nods. "Then I hope one camp will be enough to break any ties."
e of pi 2019-11-13 01:02:50
"I'm sure they'll have brought enough for everyone," Luis says, grinning. "Any thoughts on where you want me?"
Gatac 2019-11-13 17:44:21
Hug'sh considers the issue. "I think you're most needed on Ibash," he says. He looks over to Garrett. "You will be running an elaborate con there, yes?"
punkey 2019-11-14 01:35:49
"Conspiracies with businesses usually are about making money," Garrett says. "Everyone makes money, everyone's happy. People stop making money, people start making more money than others think they should, conspiracy gets a lot more shaky and it'll just take one good push to get everyone at each other's throats. And by that, I mean killing each other." He nods to Luis. "Thinking some kind of less-than-legal business opportunity comes their way, so I'll need some help backing that up on the tech side..." And then Garrett's eyes turn to Hale. "And we're going to need a tough guy." Garrett nods to Swims-the-Black. "Two tough guys."
Hale shakes his head. "If you're looking for a con artist, you are looking in the wrong place."
"Think you can manage to look like you've cracked a head or two in your time?" Garrett asks.
"I have cracked a head or two in my time," Hale says.
"Perfect, then you'll do just fine," Garrett says. "We'll coach you."

Garrett looks back to Hug'sh. "So, that's me, Luis, Swims-the-Black and Hale on Ibash, you, Zaef, Angel and Arketta on Grinacanne, and FTE having fun on Aikoro." He turns to Paul and Onas. "Got any better ideas?"