Part 29: Federation - Part 04 - December 4th, 1180 NC: MessengerDecember 4th, 1180 NC: Messenger
Go to Moash. Just like in the Vell-os run, the only difference with this part of the plot is the replacement of despair with a hell of a lot of smugness. Long story short: The Moash are wealthy. We come back and make our report for which Krane praises and flirts with us. We get access to a bit more technology to boot.
Krane then asks us to lead a strike team to go wreck the Courageous space station.
Pictured: One of about 30 attempts to land. The Leviathan is too slow to outrun the railguns and too big to dodge them. I could get away with it facing down the Rebels and Feds because they're weak but I can't do shit against the ridiculous range the Aurorans have. Let's switch it up a bit - if anyone else can pull off a full Leviathan run without mods, please show us and I'll send you a pretty rock.
I'd forgotten what true speed is like. After souping up the Viper with all the upgrades I can get, I zip around all the defenders, dodge all the railgun fire and pull off a pinpoint landing. The Federation soldiers get to work and we head back to report to Krane.
Moash capitulates and we're sent to play diplomat. Still the same as before, save that now we're reveling in our power.
After no more than about ten minutes of savoring the excellent home brew served up by one of the Federation soldiers behind the bar, you see one of the Moash House Elders walk in between two heavily armed and alert soldiers. They spot you quickly and make their way over.
"We have talked it over," the old Moash warrior informs you, "and the Moash House has accepted the Bureau's proposal."
You nod and thank him for his time, and you tell him that you will relay that information back to your superiors. You tell him that you will return with further instructions.
You nod to the soldiers around you and drain your drink before heading back to your beloved REDLINE to head back to New England.
GLi-Tech sends us to go steal some Polaris tech. We happily oblige.
As you browse through the many ship outfits on offer you see the slim figure and dark hair of Sharon Masterton walk into the room and you wave her over.
"I have a very dangerous mission for you," she tells you in a tone that implies that she means business. "We want to look at developing a weapon currently only held by a foreign government. What you will be doing will be highly illegal, and you are likely to be killed if you are caught. Are you in?"
"We want to have a look at what the Polaris call the 'Wraith Cannon'," she tells you quietly. "We know it uses Polaron technology, and we want to know a little more about it. So we want you to go to Nil'a Mjolnir in the Mjolnir system and take a few photographs of a Wraith Cannon, and the 'Wraithii' it fires.
"If we can get our hands on this technology," she shares with you slyly, "it will be worth billions. So if you make it back here, we are prepared to pay you 500000 credits. Believe me, if you can get past Polaris security and make it back here in one piece, you will have earned it."
Off we go! We pass by a few more named traders on the way there.
Daneel Olivaw is a robot that shows up a lot in Asimov's works. Istari appears to be yet another Lord of the Rings reference.
It turns out that the famously xenophobic Polaris who don't even speak Standard let foreigners wander at random amongst their military docks. They seem to realize their error soon enough, and we're chased out under heavy fire. Luckily the Viper is fast enough to outrun Polaris torpedoes, the Leviathan wouldn't stand a chance here.
Trying to look like you know what you are doing you head down to what appears to be the bays where the Polaris repair their damaged ships. You get a few odd looks, but luckily nobody asks you any questions. You walk around and take a few surreptitious snaps of a Wraith Cannon as it is being re-attached to an Arachnid, and take a few quick pictures of a series of the fluorescent purple packets of energy that are called the Wraithii as they are loaded on board as well.
Remaining casual you make your way back to your ship and stow away your pictures before heading out into space to try to slip through the Polaris defense net and make your way back to GLi-Tech-nia in the Rimshot system.
Until that happens, we're sent to play Courier for Krane once more. The Bureau has set up their puppet government and is preparing a trap to weaken the other houses to ensure dominance. We go twice to deliver all the details. This is the plan:
You are met by a beaming Sharon Masterton when you land.
"I'm impressed," she congratulates you warmly. "As far as I'm aware you are the first person who has been able to make it through the Polaris defense grid alive. Is there something you're not telling us?"
She laughs and you grin.
"So where are the photographs?" she asks, becoming more serious, and you head back on board and fish them out and hand them over. She takes a few moments to scan them. "This is exactly what we were after. It is worth every cent we are paying you.
"I need to get this to the appropriate people," she tells you, all business again, "but keep an eye out in the ship outfitting area if you want to be the one to test this new weapon when we eventually manufacture it."
Of course, we get to be smug about it. No despair here!
We want the Moash House to step up the raids into our space and begin amassing an armada of their own. At a preordained time detailed in the message you will be carrying, a Federation force will be attacked by the Moash and destroyed. Public opinion will be inflamed and war will be declared. An enormous Federation fleet will head down into Auroran space in response and will begin running amok, but only selectively so. The end result will be the destruction of the other four major houses. Then the remaining survivor, the Moash House, will sue for peace, and we will grant it.
And this is where we diverge from the Vell-os. After returning to New England, we're told to get our ass to Earth ASAP.
You are escorted back to your beloved 'REDLINE' by a different young warrior who watches you like he is waiting for you to make some kind of move. You do not give him the satisfaction and when you reach your ship you thank him in as sincere a voice as you can muster. You get no small amount of delight when you see the anger on his face at your condescending tone.
You spot the blond hair and graceful figure of Commander Krane hurrying towards you only moments after you step off your ship. She waves at you, telling you to wait and she hurries over. She threads her arm through yours and escorts you into the spaceport bar and down a back hallway into an office.
"We have something of a situation here," she informs you as soon as you sit down. "Apparently the Rebels have decided that because our current focus is towards the Aurorans, it is a good time for them to make a move. Right now, we cannot afford the distraction, and I want their little attempt snuffed out before it comes to fruition. For that I need someone who has the ability to get back into the rebellion at short notice.
"How do you feel about recontacting your old rebel friends?"
Such fancy choices! Not like it matters, unfortunately.
"I knew I could count on you," she smiles, revealing her perfect white teeth before continuing more seriously. "Okay, here's the deal. You are probably aware that there are elements within the government of the Federation that disagree with our actions and policies. You probably do not know just how far it goes.
"A little over two weeks ago," she explains meaningfully, "the Federation President contacted the Rebels asking them to meet with him secretly. I have a problem with this as it is a threat to security at levels that we will have difficulty controlling.
"From other sources I know that the Rebellion is very short on ships at the moment," she tells you quietly, "and if they want to move their leaders around in secret, they will need one that is not recognized by Federation security forces in any way. That's where you come in.
"I want you to head back to Merrol in the Aldebaran system," she informs you dismissively, "and reinfiltrate the Rebels to see if you can get in on these meetings."
We carried around agents and sensitive data, so naturally we've been completely unmonitored in our 4000 ton, 800 year old ship. The only way we could be more suspicious is if we rolled up in a Federation Destroyer.
You are greeted by the muscular-looking Jay when you land.
"Glad to see you're back!" he exclaims, clapping you on the shoulder nearly knocking you over. "What happened to you?"
As the two of you walk along together you explain that the Federation had begun to recognize your ship and you decided that rather than risk being taken you would head elsewhere for a while. You spin a few false yarns about adventures you had in Auroran Space before going on to tell him that things were starting to get too hot down there when Federation ships started showing up, so you decided to come back here.
"Well you've come back at an opportune time," he informs you a little bit mysteriously. "I believe that the Rebellion is in need of a ship that is not on the current Federation list of suspicious ships. Meet me in the bar when my shift finishes, we'll talk more then."
You see a waving hand as you step into the bar and you recognize Jay sitting in his normal place enjoying a drink.
You sit down and he grins at you.
"I made a few calls after I saw you earlier," he says earnestly, "and the head-sheds have decided to take advantage of your reappearance."
He gives you a quick wink.
"I don't know a lot about the situation," he continues quietly, "but from what I hear there are officials fairly high up in the Federation government who aren't very happy about what the Bureau has been doing. Apparently they made contact somehow and want to pass information along.
"Are you interested in being courier?"
"I knew you could be counted on!" he exclaims and you smile, glad that he has no inkling about your true loyalties. He continues with a grin. "Basically, we want you to head up to Rebel II in the Koria system to pick up a message pod. While you're there you will be told where to take it. The head-sheds weren't prepared to send that information to me in case it got intercepted.
"It should be a walk in the park for someone of your talents!" he laughs. "Hell, if you can survive inside the Auroran Empire with all those warriors running around trying to kill everybody including each other, this should feel like a holiday!"
You laugh appropriately, and the two of you finish your drinks before you take your leave of the muscular Jay and head back towards your beloved 'REDLINE'.
I really think the Rebels deserve to be betrayed for their idiocy at this point.
You are greeted by two rather famous figures. You recognize the two men as being Mr Donald Chick, the former CEO of Sigma Shipyards, and General Cade 'Sundown' Smart, who was a former Head of the Federation Armed Forces.
"We wanted to thank you for your efforts on such short notice," says Mr Chick by way of greeting. "We are a little thin on the ground just at the moment, and your arrival has allowed us to carry out this operation without stretching our resources any further than they already are."
"We want you to take the encrypted message pod to New Babylon in the Nesre Primus system," General Smart informs you, indicating the message pod being loaded onto your ship by a Rebel soldier. "You will be met there by a man named Dorraj Rainsford who will take the pod off you and tell you how to get the reply, if any is forthcoming. As soon as you have the reply return here."
"And thanks again for your help," says Mr Chick before they both take their leave.
Once again the names are tributes to other works. Milamber is from Riftwar, a mediocre fantasy series penned by Raymond Feist. I have no idea what Dorraj Rainsford comes from, I'm assuming it's a silly anagram.
After completing your post-flight routine you head out of your ship wondering how this Dorraj Rainsford will make contact with you. Your questions are soon answered when you hear a discreet cough as you step off your ship. You turn to see a casually dressed man with long black hair, sprinkled with gray, and a moustache. He unsurprisingly introduces himself as Dorraj and asks if you have a package for him.
You tell him to follow you and you open your hold revealing the message pod. As he opens it using a complex key-sequence you study him closely. Something strikes you as being slightly out of place, and then you notice that while his hair is shot through with gray, his moustache is not. On further examination, you realize that both his hair and moustache are fake.
You are slightly stunned to find out that underneath his wig, moustache and some other subtle touches of makeup you recognize him. He is the President of the Federation, Mr. P. Milamber.
"Everything seems to be in order," notes 'Dorraj' after making a quick inspection of the contents of the message pod, "but I will require a little time to examine this in greater detail. Meet me in the bar in three hours and I shall have a reply for you."
As he walks away you cannot help grinning when you realize that the Bureau is not only going to decisively vanquish the Rebels as a result of this mission, but it will also gain a serious hold over the President of the Federation.
With a final chuckle you head off to the bar to await Mr. Milamber's reply to the Rebel message.
You see 'Dorraj' walk into the bar as you sit sipping your drink. You observe him for a long moment before waving to attract his attention. You wonder what would drive a Federation President to take the enormous risk of contacting the Rebels. You mentally shrug, thinking that it will prove irrelevant once you make your report to Krane.
"Here is the return message," he tells you pulling out a small message pod from under his coat. "I believe that you know where to take it?"
You take the pod off him and nod, noticing the quality job done on his disguise. Without the small mistake with the color differences of the wig and the mustache, you probably would not have picked it.
He thanks you and walks out of the bar leaving you thinking.
I don't even remember when the whole UNITY! motivation first got shoehorned into the plot. Can't we just be plain evil?
On the way back to your beloved 'REDLINE' you continue thinking about the situation of the Federation President. You realize that if you were in his situation you would do the same thing. After all, even though he is nominally in charge of the Federation, in reality now that the Bureau has taken over, he is little more than a figurehead for the masses to focus on. You would feel sorry for him, but he is hampering Bureau plans to make all of humanity unite under one government, and so he must be taken care of.
You casually go over your pre-flight checklist and prepare for yet another spaceflight and you coldly resolve to get to the bottom of this.
Upon landing you are met by a Rebel officer who introduces himself as Captain Daniels and takes the encrypted message pod off you.
"General Smart wanted me to pass on his thanks," he informs you in that slightly official tone used by military personnel the universe over, "and also to inform you that a significant amount of money has been transferred into your account.
"There will undoubtedly be a follow-up to this mission," he explains forthrightly, "and we will be wanting your services for it, as we like to keep showing delicate contacts familiar faces. When we have gotten things organized we will look for you in the bar."
You see Captain Daniels waving to attract your attention as soon as you walk in. You make your way over and sit down at his table.
"I'm afraid that this will be the last mission we have for you," he begins almost apologetically. "We want you to carry a message to Dorraj Rainsford again. I'm afraid that I cannot reveal any more information about the mission than that until you have agreed to it.
"Are you available?"
"Thank you," he continues gratefully. "I cannot tell you how important this mission is to us. If this goes right, it may very well spell the end of the Bureau."
Your ears pick up a little when you hear that. You decide that this information is something you will have to pass on to Krane at the earliest opportunity.
"We want you to meet Dorraj at the same place you met him last time," Daniels explains, "and we want you to tell him the following message: 'Your office, Sol, four weeks'. Did you get that?"
You nod and your excitement grows as you realize that the rebels have set a date when they will be meeting with the President. You decide that once you have delivered the message you will report to Krane immediately to pass on the information. It could spell the end of the Rebellion and allow the Bureau to gain control of the President.
"Well good luck," Daniels continues, clapping you on the shoulder, "and once again thank you."
It's quite strange how what is ostensibly the most powerful person in the galaxy is portrayed as a bumbling incompetent. I suppose there's a Prime Minister somewhere who does all the heavy lifting while the President gets to dick around. We head to New England to report in.
You step off your ship and are greeted by 'Dorraj', and you notice with amusement that this time his moustache and hair actually match. You pull him aside and pass on the Rebel message in a terse voice.
"Your office, Sol, four weeks."
He nods, thanks you and moves off.
After he disappears into the crowd you smile nastily and head back on board your ship and begin prepping it for another spaceflight. You cannot wait to get this intelligence to the Bureau offices on New England. With this information the Bureau could clean up the Rebellion in one swoop, and take care of one would-be sneaky president. Things are definitely looking up.
As soon as you walk in you spot your normal contact sitting in his usual seat. He sees you and nods with his head towards the back door and you nod in thanks before heading into Krane's office.
"You're back!" she smiles happily. "You had been out so long that I was starting to get a little worried about you. What news from the Rebels?"
You quickly explain the events of your recent journeys concluding with the place and time of the meeting between the President and the Rebels.
"Good work!" she exclaims before turning her big blue eyes on you and asking meaningfully: "So you know where at least one of the Rebel bases is?"
You nod and she begins typing away at her console. After a few moments she indicates that you should stay put before leaving the room for a few minutes.
After leaving you twiddling your thumbs for a while, Commander Krane re-enters and sits back down behind her desk.
"I want you to go to the Rebel base in the Koria system, land and activate a homing beacon when you get there," she informs you brusquely. "I will have a Carrier Group follow you, and several task forces waiting in nearby systems. I have heard through other sources that the Rebel leaders will be going somewhere in the next few weeks, and I believe that they will be attending this meeting you warned us about. So while the Rebels are without leadership I want to do as much damage as I can to their cause. I want you to completely destroy one of their bases, and I will be trying to capture the Rebel leaders when they land on Earth. While you're there, make sure that you destroy every rebel ship you can. The weaker they are, the better.
"When the Federation soldiers have finished smashing the Rebel station," she finishes quietly, "return here for a debrief."
Accompanied by four carriers, we run in hard and fast.
Too savage to be Auroran!
As soon as you land you see Federation soldiers killing and ransacking everything in sight. They approach their job with an air of savage efficiency that impresses you no end. You begin to see why Federation soldiers are not much liked by the Aurorans.
After wandering around observing them at work for little over an hour you are approached by their commander, Captain Allen Wilson.
"We have found some intel on the whereabouts of the rebel headquarters," he informs you, wiping the sweat off his brow. "We will be finished here in a few more hours and then we will be passing that information on to the other naval forces in the area while we escort you back.
"Here is a data crystal containing the location of the base in question," he explains tiredly. "If you could pass it on to your superior as soon as possible, so that the Bureau gets the information as quickly as possible."
You nod, and make your way back to your ship to start your long flight back to New England.
Upon landing you are met by the stunning Krane and she takes you into a seemingly deserted office. When you enter you are surprised to see the familiar figure of the rebel Captain Daniels wearing a Bureau uniform.
"I've just received a transmission from Federation Command reporting that the Carrier Group has taken heavy casualties but has managed to destroy the rebels' headquarters," she tells you with a small smile. "I believe they gave you information on its whereabouts?"
You hand over the data crystal and, somewhat distractedly, give a quick summary of events from your mission.
"You will be happy to know that the Rebel leaders have been taken into custody," Daniels informs you quietly. "As of now, the rebellion is destroyed."
Krane recognizes the confused expression on your face.
"Do you remember that the former head of Federation Intel, a man code-named Frandall, was the head of the rebel intelligence network?" she asks, and you nod. "Well, let me introduce Frandall, the head of the Bureau."
Finally, some useful toys to play with. I intend to get us a nice carrier to play with, what should we name it?
"I've heard a lot about you," Frandall says as he rises to shake your hand. "I hear you have been invaluable in helping along the Auroran operation.
"Don't look so surprised," he continues as you look on stunned. "Early on we knew that we would not be able to keep our activities secret from certain people. So I decided that I would start a rebel movement to root out all the malcontents. The end result was the rebellion, and given their limited resources, they were never going to get very far. So we merely waited for our time to strike.
"On another note," he says with a sly grin, "the rebel leaders, other than General Smart, have all been broken and are confessing to whatever we want them to. Unfortunately for us, military training includes torture resistance, so General Smart died before we could get anything out of him."
"By the way," Commander Krane informs you, "we authorized access to all but the absolute highest level of Federation technology. What you have access to now is all expensive, but if you have the money, it is all worth it."
The Rebels got completely torn apart this time around, but we're not done yet! Next time: Less playing messenger, more killing things.