Jade Imperium - This Time It's Personal

Admiral Duck Sauce 2000-01-01 00:00:00
Part II: The Revenge Strikes Back With a Vengeance
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-07-19 05:18:39
The sun glints off the old Black Hawk as it skims the rocky beach. The Little Birds trailing it hang low, buzzing their way over the broken asphalt of the abandoned beachfront road. Sergeant Angel Riviera sits calm and collected on the Little Bird's side runners.

The helos fly low and fast for the Houston skyline. The prop wash scatters a column of black, acrid smoke. Tire fires and trash pyres litter the shantytowns outside the ruined city. Angel sees them, a telltale shimmer of concrete gray where black smoke should've been. Their cloaks still weren't perfect. Riviera tries to shout a warning into his radio, but he can't bring himself to break silence. The blue-white beams lance through the Black Hawk, splitting it apart in a gout of flame. The tail assembly spins towards Angel's helo, the rotors disintegrating into a hail of deadly shrapnel-


Semo Putupu's back in the fields with his mom and dad. The work's hard, mind-numbing in its routine and back-breaking in its relentlessness. The sun hangs low when the workers come back to the hoppers, dumping their loads into the waiting skycranes. Everyone but Semo kneels and starts saying something Semo can't make out. Something in unison. "Integia commodo dui non sapien. Morbi pellentesque. In tempus egestas nisl. Nulla quis pede at pede pretium eleifend. In nec mi sit amet neque sagittis lobortis. Cras pretium sapien at sapien. Quisque gravida malesuada ante. Maecenas odio magna, gravida et, volutpat sed, varius id, arcu. Aliquam non quam quis arcu adipiscing ultricies. Pellentesque orci..."


Max pushes the princess to the floor as particle beams shatter steel around him. Grinning, he spins his art deco hand blaster before putting down two silver drones. The 8-foot tall gold automaton snarls as Max's blasts ricochet off its razor-feathered chassis. Fire spouts from its fingertips as Max and the princess run for the flying Cadillac.


Luis stands at a terminal in LAX filled with families looking more like they're headed for a concentration camp than vacation. The Gate flashes, and the mass of people take shuffling, defeated steps towards the glowing ring. As they approach, chrome-armored faceless soldiers divide up family units. A husband goes through the Gate as his wife and children wail. The children get pushed into the arms of a terrified older man - a complete stranger - and sent down a different line.

One of the silver orbs floats down, right in front of Luis' face. Its sensor pod flashes an angry red and it lets out a scream, like a modem being dropped into acid. Luis hears its fire-linked stingers whine-


Hugh's lying in a dentist's chair, white all around. It's the room where he had his wisdom teeth pulled. Robot arms tipped with myriad blades and saws dip down towards his field of view and come away crimson. A frisbee, guided by golden hands, coasts over his body. He tries to move, tries to speak, can't. "We were able to save the left arm," someone says, and Hugh dully recognizes the line from a movie he saw.

The robot arms stop their bloody but painless dance. The lights go out, replaced with a giant black mask that lowers itself like a spider onto Hugh's face. He can't breathe now - he's suffocating. He finally forces air into his lungs, hears the all-too-familiar ohhhh-paaaahhh of Darth Vader's rebreather, and wakes up.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-07-19 17:15:20
The dreams come to you every now and again. Last night was the worst in months, but then yesterday morning you didn't know what you know now.

An Air Force F-22 streaks overhead as you walk through the hot Mesas Negras parking lot and into the cool subterranean corridor. The entire complex has been given over to the Gateway Research and Homeworld Defense Initiative, a joint task force containing not only branches from several services and agencies but also several foreign "advisors". After all, it was Russia who found the orbital gate 2 months ago.

Remnants of the 500-foot diameter artifact are still buried in the depths of the Indian Ocean. About 60% of the huge cousin of the personal Gateway was intact, with another 15% or so in large fragments scattered over 5 miles. Heavily damaged from (theorized) reentry and centuries in the briny deep, scientists doubt they'll ever be able to repair it. Perhaps that's for the best, you think as you muse on the coming changes to your world.

At the forefront of these changes are three very different men: Max Kilgore, Action Scientist, Luis Stanhill, technically minded optimist, and Garrett Davis, a CIA interrogator whose long "private chats" with Hethna Varos and Arketta Quis (She-Ra's real name) have yielded much insight into the Turai culture, language, and technology.

Everyone beyond a certain clearance level speaks Imperial now. Not well, and not with the subtleties of Kilgore, Verrill, or Stanhill, but they speak it. Everyone's had their turns with the chamakana - the "whap" gun particle beamer - and the pantaki - the stinger. Everyone knows how to strip the IFF gear from the alien weapons. The armory can even make ammunition for the stingers.

While Dr. Kilgore and his team have an intimate understanding of how to use the captured technology and even how it works, their efforts to duplicate the armor, weapons, and the terribly advanced "artifacts" have met with little success. It all gets technobabbly past a certain point, but modern technology just isn't capable of creating the alloys and compositions and things with... molecular... structures... needed to produce regenerator disks, particle beams, and powered armor.

That's not to say there haven't been breakthroughs. A direct-fire particle beam weapon for tanks is in development. The strike plates in your body armor now offer some protection against energy weapons and hypervelocity rounds. Research on the Turai swords, their most basic weapon, has yielded prototype Turai-piercing rounds.

The frisbee eludes Stanhill, Cavanaugh, and the rest of the biological team. Mesas Negras has one; London has the other.

Max theorized early on that there was two tiers to the Imperial technology. Interrogation of Hethna Varos reinforced that theory. The frisbees, lozenges, and Gateways themselves come from the kegs, which are found technology. The keg that makes Gateways is on Diego Garcia. They hooked the keg up to the base's power plant 4 months ago and the thing engulfed the building over the course of a week. Last week was about the halfway point. It's creating a new Gateway out of... everything? Nothing? It's like a Mr. Fusion. The personnel down there have been feeding it leaves, trees, scrap metal, cheeseburgers, and trash. There are kegs that make frisbees, kegs that make lozenges, and presumably kegs that make other kegs. Even Agent Davis is sure that Varos isn't holding anything back on that - the old man and his nine remaining fingers simply don't know. Everything else - their space vehicles, the weaponry, the armor - is manufactured by the Imperium.

For all their bluster, the Jade Imperium of a Thousand Worlds may actually control that many. That doesn't mean they're Earths, however. Varos learned there are six and a half billion people on the Homeworld and couldn't believe it. A densely populated Imperial planet has maybe one billion people, and many are only numbered in the low millions. They don't have the luxury of living on planets with compatible ecosystems or with edible native flora and fauna. There's been a handful of species that they've been able to subsist on, so spinks and scrofa are found on nearly every Imperial world.

Your thoughts turn to the present now as you arrive in the briefing room and see familiar faces. Some you haven't seen in months. Some you've seen regularly. All got the bad news last night. Agent Sturgis is conducting the briefing. In addition to you and your comrades from the first mission, General Underwood and a host of brass from a handful of countries are in attendance as well as.

"As you know, before the invaders were neutralized, they activated a repeating message on what we now know to be a multiband transmitter, like an extremely high-powered radio. This is the message:

Rav-Turai Ai Gelek - Rav-Turai's equivalent to perhaps a corporal or "low" sergeant - Fifth of the Twelve and Unyielding Shield of the Jade Emperor, sends full-cortex broadwave, code one-one-zero-eight. (We understand that to be an emergency unencrypted military channel) We stand on the Homeworld. The Blank Pillar shall be inscribed at last. Of my Quad (12 Turai, 2 drones), only five remain. Turai Dorje Donden, Turai Senge Sun, Turai Ial Vymaris, and Turai Rishon (Turai Rishon's a lower rank than Rav-Turai, but higher than a standard Turai) Gallo Forn. Our sensor sweeps show the Homeworld has no orbital gate. We will attempt to use the molecular forge. If we fail, this message will be our legacy."

"The message also contained a visual element - this image of the night sky."

The visual of the Mesas Negras night sky appears for a few moments, then Sturgis finishes the translation:

"In the centuries to come, we only wish that our descendants would know of our bravery. Message repeats."

"Sirs, those Turai sent a roadmap back home. We have corroborated this message from our Voyager and Pioneer probes. There's nothing we can do to jam or block that transmission. Given what we know, the Turai have no faster-than-light travel beyond the Gateways themselves. Assuming the "Whiirr" planet is the closest Imperial presence to Earth, it will take roughly 30 years for them to get the message. Assuming again that they will still be willing to invade at that time, and that they will have little to no downtime in producing an invasion force, and using the speed of light as their fastest possible speed, the Imperium could arrive in our solar system as early as 2067. We do not currently possess the technology to repel a spaceborne attack at this time, and our ability to do so in the future will likely pale in comparison to the forces arrayed against us. We assume the Imperium will bring an orbital gate with them. Possibly multiple gates. It is my task force's opinion that a recon mission must be authorized to 1) gather intel on the Imperium and 2) recover technology that we can use to repel this worst-case scenario."
Gatac 2007-07-19 17:32:00
Hugh calmly listens to Sturgis's speech. He knows all this, of course, but it's nice to just lean back and listen to what they know. A starting point for further investigation.

After Sturgis is done, the focus of attention soon sways to Hugh - quite probably the man in command of that recon mission.

"I completely agree with Agent Sturgis. The location of Earth is compromised. If we sit around here, they will come at us until we're all dead. We need to gather every piece of intelligence we can, find gate addresses...and potential allies. And we need to act quickly. We have no guarantee that Whirr is the closest Imperial planet - not to speak of Imperial ships.

Sirs, my recommendation is simple: Gather intel. Identify targets. And then...we strike. Small, well-trained units skilled in covert operations have been our best bet so far. Our Delta operators are prepared. All we need is your authorisation."
punkey 2007-07-19 17:50:34
Gather intel, Garrett thinks. What a nice, specific goal. Still, Verrill has a point. Any decent little black book is going to have your enemies listed in big bold letters. He makes a note in his PDA to ask Varos and Quis about the Turai "phone book" in his next session later on that day. He also adds a note to bone up on his firearms and managing guerrilla situations, since he figures that "gather intel" objective is aimed squarely at him.
Dieter 2007-07-19 18:05:05
Max looks up from his laptop long enough to hear the tail end of the briefing, most of which he'd expounded upon to Top Brass long before the coffee and complimentary continental breakfast was served at the meeting.

"Are we going back to the Whirr planet, or did our esteemed CIA-guy get any new Gate coordinates in his many talks with our Turai prisoners?"
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-07-19 18:26:28
"Davis, feel free to interrupt if you've got different intel, but as of yesterday we hold strong at over twenty Gate codes that would seem to be valid, with Varos and Quis holding up under polygraph, but their codes fail to activate our Gateway. We hope to have more success with the Diego Garcia site once their Gate is finished. We just don't know why ours doesn't want to work with their codes. Currently the only working code we have is for the Whiirr Gate."
punkey 2007-07-19 18:42:00
"Your guess is as good as mine," Garrett says. "I'll put it on the 'to do' list of questions to ask Hethna and Arketta later on today. I have a session with them after this meeting is finished. I have a feeling that there's a 'little black book' of sorts, a listing of friends and enemies, and if it's like every other little black book out there, it's well-hidden and well-guarded, and it should be our first priority." He pauses for a second. "We're fighting blind right now, we don't have a single clue what planets are friendly, hostile, or will kill us the instant we step through the gate. Without that black book, we don't even have a place to run to when the shit really starts to fly and we're too hot to return to Earth. We need that book."
Dieter 2007-07-19 18:46:39
Max is confounded by the continued bureaucracy of staging a coup against an alien invasion.

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but we're not governed by the Geneva Convention in matters of interrogating these Turai bastards, are we?"
CrazyIvan 2007-07-19 18:46:57
Grunts, even Delta grunts, don't rate a place at the table. Which is just fine as far as Angel is concerned. Dressed in standard issue fatigues and unarmed, the scout standing in the corner is arguably the most unobtrusive figure in the room.

So, assuming the nerd herd and the spook get their ducks in a row, they're going back in. Lovely. Angel's not entirely thrilled with the direction the R&D people are going - he'd prefer a nice, Earth-made flechette launcher or the like, rather than Turai weaponry, but an edge is an edge. And considering he had wanted to be able to scout areas besides the Whirr inevitable-deathtrap, the discussion comes as fairly good news.
Gatac 2007-07-19 18:54:24
Hugh shoots Max and Garrett a glance.

"Gentlemen, as far as I'm aware, they are both soldiers and we are at war with the Imperium. I see no reason why the Geneva Conventions should not apply."

He pauses briefly.

"I'm sure you are aware that any violation of the conventions can be persecuted as a war crime."
Dieter 2007-07-19 19:04:45
Gatac wrote:

Hugh shoots Max and Garrett a glance.

"Gentlemen, as far as I'm aware, they are both soldiers and we are at war with the Imperium. I see no reason why the Geneva Conventions should not apply."

He pauses briefly.

"I'm sure you are aware that any violation of the conventions can be persecuted as a war crime."

"All too aware, Captain. There is also part of the me that considers that the Turai didn't have the same conventions when they vaporized all those men and women during their initial attack. I'm sure your doctored incident reports to their families were comforting to their loved ones, but I smelled their charred flesh and bones. That tends to cloud ones judgement of what is considered right and just."

*stands up, shoving his laptop under his arm*

"Gentlemen, with all due respect and the way this discussion is going...I think my time would be better used in figuring out a way we're going to accomplish the impossible...most likely inevitable way to bail ourselves out of the next Turai trap they've got waiting for us after we again undestimate their capabilities and determination to turn this planet into an alien homeworld."
Gatac 2007-07-19 19:23:12
Hugh barely keeps himself from standing up and breaking Max's nose. Seems like the good Doctor has already forgotten who stood at the gate and killed Greene.

"Yes, Doctor. You're excused."

After Max has left, Hugh throws a glance across the room to Garrett.

"Anybody else with revenge fantasies? If we're done with that part, we can start talking strategic planning."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-07-19 19:23:38
"Gentlemen," General Underwood says. "Everything we've seen so far tells us that this enemy is still a human enemy. If they were little green men or giant bugs, things would be different, but they are humans and we are subject to our laws with regard to human combatants."
Gatac 2007-07-19 19:28:27
Hugh nods.

"My point exactly, Sir."

I'm agreeing with brass. What's wrong with me?
Dieter 2007-07-19 19:46:27
admiralducksauce wrote:

"Gentlemen," General Underwood says. "Everything we've seen so far tells us that this enemy is still a human enemy. If they were little green men or giant bugs, things would be different, but they are humans and we are subject to our laws with regard to human combatants."

"General, I believe the phrase is this is where our opinions differ. It's a lot to take in, even after a six-month respite. Advance Particle Physics cannot help you when you see half your friend's torso blown away by an alien raygun. I don't think the military has written a manual for that."

*recomposes himself while grabbing a donut, sitting back down*

"The Turai rely heavily on their technology, so that's what we'll use against them. I'd recommend EMP-burst capable countermeasures for initial encounters. Small caliber ammunition and like-weaponry are pretty much useless and while I personally prefer the Turai guns over our own, there's no substitute for heavy-hitting rifles and light-machineguns. We will have to weigh the cost of keeping a recon team mobile while also allowing them to survive. That being said, if we have any run-ins with those Mantaships, I'd like a few of those AT-4s we used in the expeditionary mission..."

"...In the event of a firefight, I also say everyone gets trained on how to use the Turai Frisbees and that we should reproduce as many as we can. Personally, I'd rather not have one used on me, but then again...I have issues with dying a slow, painful death."
fanchergw 2007-07-19 19:51:56
Semo sits quietly and listens to the briefing and subsequent remarks. As far as he's concerned, the only information of note is that fact that they're going after the Imperium, rather waiting for it to come to them.

The best defense is a good offense.

Good thing he's been training hard with the sword. That thought causes him to glance over at Agent Colomaya. Livia.


He drags his attention back to the meeting.
punkey 2007-07-19 20:46:21
Garrett stands up. "If we're done discussing strategy and have moved onto logistics and ethics, I think my time might be better spent talking to our guests and finding out where that phone book is." He stands and walks out of the room.
CrazyIvan 2007-07-19 21:05:20
Angel sighs inwardly at Max's outburst.

We have an enemy with better tech than we do, so lets fight them with...technology! Gearhead response to a tactical problem. Nobody's ever beaten a technologically superior force by copying them. Stoop to your enemy's level and you're outclassed, they have more practice. We should be changing our tactics, our doctrines, not trying to shoehorn old ones into place.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-07-20 17:23:15
Colomaya winks at Semo before getting businesslike again and returning to her notes.

"What about our assets on the other side?" asks the British advisor, Captain Reynolds. "This... Whiirr species?"

"Friendly, yes, but primitive. Also, the enemy's likely to have moved the Gateway off that planet."

"Psychologically, however, we may have the advantage. We have 'gotten their goat', so to speak. Their refusal to approach any exchange on even terms suggests they've been in charge for a long time. There's a high probability of some form - or multiple forms - of insurrection or disobedient subgroups, hence Agent Davis' 'black book' theory."

"Thank you, gentlemen. Captain Verrill, meet with your men, Dr. Kilgore, and Agent Davis. You have the resources and support of the United States behind you."

"The support of the world, General," adds Oleg Valentinov, the Russian advisor. "My country cannot commit personnel at this time, but whatever resources we have are yours."
CrazyIvan 2007-07-20 22:34:31
Angel takes a deep breath and steps forward, his voice fairly clear despite his vanishingly small rank. The sound clearly startles a few people who forgot he was there.

"Permission to speak Sir?"

Assuming it's granted by any of the many "Sirs" around the table, Angel continues.

"I have a question for Agent Davis. The Turai we faced here and offworld...who are they? I mean, Delta gave them a run for their money, but is what we were fighting the tactical equivalent of their infantry divisions, Delta or the local Volunteer Fire Department?"