Part 30: Federation - Part 05 - April 19th, 1181 NC: Colour CodesApril 19th, 1181 NC: Colour Codes
The Rebels have been put down hard, but there's still a war on, remember?
You are a little surprised to see the lithe figure and blond hair of Commander Krane sitting near the rear of the bar when you enter this establishment. She waves you over with a smile.
"How are things?" she asks sincerely, and you shrug. "You can be a bit hard to track down, Captain Kirk Picard. I've been trying to catch you for a while.
"We have decided that everything is ready for the final push in the Auroran operation," she leans forward and tells you in a hushed tone. "Everything is in place, or will be within a few weeks. Trouble is, we need someone to go and tell the Moash elders, so that they can keep up their side of the bargain.
"Interested in a bit more courier work?"
Off we go! Having Hypergate access makes the special request trivial, as Moash is right on the network.
"Excellent!" Krane exclaims with a stunning smile before breathing a sigh of relief. "We were getting a little worried when we couldn't catch you anywhere, and we are pushing hard up against the edge of our desired timetable.
"Like all the other missions down there," she explains offhandedly, "all we want you to do is take a message pod down to the House Elders. When you're finished, return to New England for a debrief.
"While you're here," she continues quietly, leaning closer, "try to avoid getting scanned by Heraan ships. From what we hear they are getting a little suspicious, and despite the protestations of our Moash allies, we don't believe that the Heraan warriors are either clumsy or inept. If we can keep them in the dark until we start the operation, things will go a lot smoother.
"Good luck," she finishes with a smile. "I'll see you when you get back to New England."
We're challenged to a duel, and I accept. Unfortunately, to add in more room for go-fast equipment the REDLINE is completely unarmed. Whoops. I run away, but the Auroran follows us at every jump! We make it back to New England under fire.
Upon landing you are escorted by two savagely tattooed Moash warriors to the chambers of the House elders. You notice a new air of optimism on the faces of the many warriors you pass on the way.
You hand over the message pod to the same old warrior as last time and watch him open it. After taking a few minutes to scan the contents he turns to you and thanks you for your services.
You are escorted back to your beloved 'REDLINE' by the same two warriors who do not seem to be worried at all about your safety or actions. Obviously the warriors of the Moash House have learned to deal with their new status as vassals of the Bureau, and are confident about their planned takeover of Auroran Space.
Perhaps we were told to infiltrate the Rebels as a loyalty test. Krane all but follows us to the bar.
You are met by the beautiful Commander Krane who takes you to see Frandall for your debrief. The two of them grill you for nearly an hour on everything you saw while on Moash, skillfully pulling information out of you, most of which you would not normally remember. You realize that these two are far more competent than you have ever believed. You are glad to be serving on their side.
"You have done well," sighs Frandall eventually. "I cannot fault your work or your intuitive conclusions regarding the emotional state of the Moash. It's good to see that everything I've heard about you is true."
Commander Krane stands up and moves around the desk to shake your hand, and you realize that the interview is at an end.
"Thanks again, Captain Kirk Picard," she congratulates with a smile, "this whole operation would have been nearly impossible without you. Keep an eye out in the bars around the place, we will have another sensitive mission coming up soon, and you are the ideal candidate for it."
As soon as you walk in you spot the qstunning Commander Krane seated near the rear of the bar. You make your way over to her after she waves you over.
"I was pretty happy to hear you had just landed here," she tells you with a grin. "I was about to head off-planet to go looking for you. Now all I have to do is come here to have a chat with you."
You shrug, telling her sardonically that you are glad to have been of service.
"And much appreciated it is too!" she exclaims after a long chuckle. "We should employ more people like you.
"Anyway, let's get down to business," she continues more seriously. "Do you remember the recent business we had with the rebels? Well, we want to tie up a few loose ends and bring the Federation President under more direct control. Are you interested in being the messenger?"
Off we go to Lalande 21185, conveniently close to Rimshot where Gli-Tech is located. I say this because we still have some stolen technology to test and a duellist who's made following us a full-time job. On the way there a few more named merchants show up.
"Good!" she exclaims gratefully. "The President is about to begin a three week holiday on Diva in the Lalande 21185 system. We want you to go and have a chat with him.
"You see, over the next few days we are going to publicize the confessions of the former rebel leaders," she explains quietly. "We want you to tell him that we have recorded them confessing to receiving contact from him. We will make it look like he was making an attempt to increase his power by using them to weaken the Bureau and the military. Make it clear to him that we are more than prepared to utterly discredit him if he does not do exactly what we tell him to do.
"Of course," she grins slyly as she continues, "make him aware that working for us won't be too difficult, as we won't be asking for much, but leave him in no doubt that if he makes any trouble we will put him away. When you're finished, return here for a debrief."
You chuckle, realizing that you are looking forward with interest to meeting the President again.
Both of them are Irish gods: Dagda, a fatherly type; and Badb, a war crow. Why do a bunch of Tasmanians love Ireland so much?
Our business concluded, we check in with GLi-Tech and get handed a Wraith cannon. The bonus with these missions is that the new weapon is added on regardless of weight - so you can essentially get a free 5 tons or so. I immediately use these on our pursuer, having being followed for several months.
Using the various passes given to you by Krane you easily penetrate the heavy security surrounding the Federation President. In a few short minutes you find yourself entering his room.
"You!" he exclaims in surprised recognition. "What are you doing here? And how did you get in?"
You smile a small malicious smile, and watch his face go pale.
"Y... You're with the Bureau aren't you," he grinds out fearfully and you nod. He suddenly looks very deflated and old. To save him the trouble of asking, you quickly outline what the Bureau wants of him, and inform him of the consequences if he fails in his new duties.
"I will do what you ask," he whispers with tears in his eyes when you finish. "What other choice do I have?"
You shrug and walk out. You quickly dash through a surveillance barrier and watch on in amusement as the President tries to inform his security chief of your intrusion. You chuckle when he is told that any intrusion is impossible because the system was "designed by the Bureau".
Our designated target doesn't do too well either. It's strange how they keep insisting on using live targets when automated drones already exist.
Another merchant is spotted on our way back.
Yet another Lord of the Rings reference, the wizards. We stop by Gli-Tech-Nia to turn over our logs before heading back to New England.
Taking over an entire planet within a day seems to be a very profitable opening gambit for galactic conquest.
As you often do when you enter a system that you intend landing in, you decide to check out the news band of the system's comm-net. You are a little surprised to hear that the Federation Navy is starting to gain the upper-hand after the terrible strikes made by the Aurorans a few weeks ago.
After listening for a while you start to realize that everything seems to have gone according to plan, and that the Federation, with the help of its Moash vassals are systematically destroying 'strategic' targets. You would be willing to bet that these targets are more than likely only strategic to the other four major Auroran houses.
You chuckle when you hear some editorial comments saying that the war will have to end soon, as the Federation cannot afford to overextend itself. It seems that the Bureau plan included a mechanism to stop the war at the desired time, after exactly the right amount of damage was inflicted. It makes you glad that you decided to work for the right team.
Once again you are met by Krane and she escorts you to your debriefing where both she and Frandall grill you for some time. After nearly two hours they sit back, apparently satisfied.
"Well, it looks like we have managed to deal with the Rebels, the Aurorans, and now the President," chuckles Frandall. "Within a few days we will basically control most of Known Space."
"We still have to think about the Polaris," warns Krane seriously, "and I doubt that they will be so easy."\
"I'm not so sure," muses Frandall thoughtfully. "I don't think that they will be able to stay out of this situation for long. I believe that it won't be too long before we hear from them.
"In the mean time," he continues after turning back to you, "we have managed to get you clearance to purchase the Carrier. I recommend you buy it, because if the Polaris do contact us we'll be sending you to them, and you'll want all the firepower you can get. Keep an eye out in the bar, if we need you that's where we'll look for you."
It's not too hard to get there regardless, if you play pirate hunter around the outskirts of Polaris territory.
You are quietly chuckling to yourself as you watch footage of the former rebel leaders admitting to various crimes against the Federation when you receive a tap on the shoulder. Turning around you see the stunning Commander Krane beckoning you towards a secluded table near the rear of the bar.
"Frandall was, as usual, right on the money," she begins quietly. "The Polaris have sent out a diplomatic feeler towards the Federation. There is little doubt that they are aware of the fact that the Aurorans now pay tribute to us, and so they want to open diplomatic ties with us because we are probably too much of a threat to ignore any longer.
"We need someone to head over there to begin initial talks with the Polaris government," she explains, smiling. "Are you interested in being the first non-Polaran in probably seven centuries to visit the Polaris capital?"
"Glad I can count on you," she breathes gratefully. "We need our best operative on this one, it won't be easy.
"You will find the outer Polaris systems the toughest," she explains meaningfully, "because they have a warrior caste that seems to be in charge of running them, and they have no qualms whatsoever about shooting first and asking questions later. Our best intelligence says that once you actually penetrate the perimeter of Polaris space, it should actually become easier.
"But to help you get past the first hurdle," she continues with a smile, "our technicians will fit a new experimental device to your ship called a 'cloaking device'. It renders you invisible to the sensors of other ships. Be careful using it because its startup sequence requires you to drop your shields and I doubt it will fool the Polaris for long. Hopefully, though, it will be long enough for you to get through their outer defenses.
"When you get to their capital 'Kel'ar Iy'," she finishes quietly, "it will be up to you. None of our agents have ever penetrated that far, so you will have to play it by ear. Good luck."
It doesn't take long. The cloaking device has no weight and automatically transfers to any craft you buy, so it's pretty handy. We could even go back to the Leviathan warship now, since cloak so completely breaks the AI.
You land carefully, all the time aware that the Polaris war-ships are watching you every second of the way. You take your time over your post-flight routine to steady your nerves before heading out to see what awaits you on this marvel of a world.
You are met by two gray-cloaked men who indicate that you should follow them. As you fall in behind one, the other falls in behind you in a classic guarding maneuver. You cannot help but feel his eyes boring into your back.
You travel through several corridors and lifts before arriving in what appears to be a simple boardroom with a large central table around which sit twenty-five elderly people. They are all garbed in brown, but you notice that, except for the woman at the head of the table, their collars are of differing colors. Eight of them have white collars, six have green, five blue, four gray and one black. You wonder what the significance is. The woman at the head of the table is the only one whose collar matches the color of her robe.
The woman at the head of the table stands up and addresses you clearly.
"I am Bis Andreya," she begins seriously, "I am the leader of the Polaris. We must warn you that we are sickened by the actions of yourself and your 'Bureau', and, if it were at all possible, we would want to have nothing to do with you. Unfortunately, now that you have maneuvered your way into the ownership of the Aurorans, we have no choice but to deal with you. For with the resources now at your disposal, you pose too serious a security risk to ignore.
"This council is yet to come to a decision on what our offer to your government will be," she slightly emphasizes the word 'government', obviously trying to get a rise out of you, "but by the end of this session, a decision will be reached. If you would be so kind as to await the outcome of our deliberations in the bar, within a few hours you can be on your way back to your masters with our opening position."
As you sit, you notice that all the people in this bar either wear brown with color coded collars or that they wear clothes of overall hue similar to the collars of those garbed in brown, the other colors being white, green, blue, gray and black. Again you wonder what the significance is.
Your thoughts are interrupted when everybody in the bar stands as the elderly figure of Bis Andreya enters. She waves them all down with a smile and a whisper of thanks before heading over to your table.
"The Polaris Ruling Council has reached a decision regarding our offer to the Federation," she intones formally. "Are your prepared to act as a courier between our peoples, and carry our proposal back to your superiors?"
Back we go, stopping off on Vrenna to recharge.
"We are prepared to enter into an alliance with the Federation," she continues officially after receiving your nod of acquiescence. "Our conditions would be that only one Federation diplomat be allowed into our space until the offer is accepted, with that number being increased to a maximum of five Federation diplomatic personnel once an agreement is reached. In return, we ask that we be allowed to have full diplomatic compound on Earth staffed by personnel of our choosing.
"And finally, as a sign of good faith," she emphasizes meaningfully, "we are prepared, if the Federation agrees to our proposal, to allow a gradually increasing number of your young scientists to come to our training centers so that they can be taught the principles of our more advanced technology. The timetable will be such that within one century, the technologies of the Polaris will be completely shared with the Federation.
"That is our offer," she finishes quietly. "I ask that you present it to your superiors."
We head for New England, disabling a Pirate Enterprise on the way with the aid of the Wraith cannon.
Bordering on Polaris space, Vrenna is an icy planet uninhabited except for a few hardy souls who hunt the vicious Vrenna ice-lizards. Called lizards for their looks more than their biology, these creatures resemble thirty foot long, eight foot high, three-eyed, six-legged, slightly more than one-ton, fur-covered lizards, and it is for their fur that they are hunted. One pelt of the silkily soft, rippling gray-white fur is viewed as extremely valuable by both the Federation and the Polaris, and could be traded for enough food to feed a decent family for many years. Despite this, very few seek to hunt the ice-lizards, as the lizards tend to kill more hunters than the hunters kill lizards.
Hanuman is some sort of Hindu deity. There's a species of monkey named after the guy.
Having taken a look at the Polaris, we have to upgun. I barrel down to Earth and pick up a Carrier of our own!
It even comes with a new fancy control panel!
To make Menaces With Spikes live up to its name, I immediately strip out the fighter complement - escorts are better at it - and all the guns. I buy all the shield buffs and armour buffs we can carry, soup up the engines and head down to the Aurorans. A mass conversion gets us an extra 100 tons of mass to play with.
Shield Buffer posted:
At the end of the day, the greater your shields, the longer you will survive. Most Federation starship captains, if they can get their hands on the necessary funding, will leap at the chance to get ahold of one of these Sigma Shipyards S-72 Shield Buffers. In simple terms, the S-72 detects the outer layer of your particle shielding and adds another layer on top of that.
Shield Recharger posted:
Federation particle shielding technology has always been vastly ahead of anything the Auroran Empire has ever had, and the shield recharger is a prime example of this. All ships with particle shielding can gradually recharge any lost shield power, but the shield recharger has a separate power source specifically attuned to your shield frequencies, allowing raw power to be pumped into your shields and causing them to recharge faster.
The Feds couldn't come up with anything more advanced than "300 tons of steel" for armour?
Until very recently, Federation scientists, while having a vastly superior knowledge of particle shielding, were lagging their Auroran counterparts in armor technology. With the recent invention of a commercially viable process to create a lattice of titanium and a few other minor ingredients, it is hoped that before long the vessels of the Federation Navy will begin to not only exhibit superior shielding when compared to their Auroran foes, but also superior armor.
At Moash, we stock up on railguns, gobbling up 10 in total. A trip to the Hellhound distributor and a few point-defense turrets later, and we're one hell of a force to be reckoned with. We complete the trip to New England and land.
As usual you are met by Commander Krane who takes you to a debrief with Frandall. The two of them work you over for nearly six hours until they both seem satisfied that every little drop of intelligence has been gleaned from your memory. At the end of the session you all sit back feeling exhausted.
"This is certainly an interesting development," muses Frandall thoughtfully. "I wasn't expecting the Polaris to be so direct as to make an offer of alliance so soon. Nor did I expect them to make such a tempting offer. I wonder what their angle is?"
"Perhaps we should make use of the 'one diplomat' condition of the proposal," Krane comments tiredly. "We could send someone in to have a look around."
Frandall nods, looking at you shrewdly.
"Meet us in the bar in two hours, Captain Kirk Picard," he says quietly. "I will see about getting you clearance to be our lone diplomat so that I can send you over there to have a look around."
You are sitting by yourself, quietly enjoying your drink when you observe Krane and Frandall enter the bar. They both soon spot you and make their way over.
"It looks as though the Federation is going to agree with the Polaris proposal," Frandall begins without preamble. "The Federation Council views it as a way of slowly getting out of our influence by sending our best and brightest off to learn the truth about the Bureau. I've been able to stall them until I can get a preliminary analysis of what the average Polaris thinks of the proposal."
"Of course," Krane winks, "that's only what we've told the politicians to allow us to get a few defense mechanisms in place while we figure out the lay of the land. Are you interested in being the first Federation diplomat to ever enter Polaris space?"
An Auroran challenges us to a duel on the way out. Against the equivalent of an Earth armoured cruiser's armament? He's vapourized.
"In that case," smiles Frandall slightly sardonically, "you are hereby given the diplomatic rank of 'Ambassador', with all the privileges and responsibilities inherent in that position. You get a bigger salary and a bigger discount at Federation ports. You will not be required to purchase any licenses any more either. Enjoy it while it's yours...
"But getting back to business," Frandall shakes his head in mild amusement, "although you will be technically a diplomat, we are more interested in the Polaris warrior caste, and especially with their Southern border.
"We want you to do two things," he continues with a sly grin. "Firstly, we want you to confirm the location of the headquarters of the warrior caste. We believe it is located to the galactic south-east of Kel'ariy.
"Secondly, we want you to have a look around the Polaris Southern border, the one they share with the Aurorans," Frandall tells you meaningfully. "Land everywhere you can to get as much intelligence as possible. Once you think that you have something that could be useful to us, return here for a debrief.
"Good luck 'Ambassador'."
I decide to build up a Carrier fleet to escort us to the Polaris. Hunting down and capturing them is all well and good, but with enough money the best option is to simply capture weaker ships, save the carrier as an escort, and buy another to fly. Dicking around in the pirate-filled North lets us quickly amass a full escort. We're a pretty formidable bunch.
Unfortunately, the Polaris beg to differ.
They already outnumber us before even counting the technological advantage. There's even a Raven and scarabs waiting for us at Nil'a Ca.
I land to prevent a slaughter.
A crew of 200 and people can just pop right onto the bridge?
As soon as you land you hear your hatch opening without you giving your computer the code to do so, and suddenly two gray men enter your cockpit. Before you are aware of it you are face-down on the floor. You are quickly and thoroughly searched by the men as another gray-cloaked woman searches your ship. You are picked up like you weigh nothing and are carried outside and dumped at the feet of an attractive woman who also wears the same gray clothes, the only difference being her brown collar.
"I am Iuso," she introduces herself calmly. "You have absolutely no business landing on this station. Why are you here?"
You stammer that you are a Federation diplomat, wandering through Polaris Space in an attempt to gauge the reaction of the Polaris people to the proposal sent to your government.
"I see," she comments nonplussed. "I will check this with the council. If you could give me a few moments, I will clear this all up."
She nods to your captors and you know that although that was phrased as a request, it was nothing of the sort.
We're supposed to find Nil'Kemorya, the homeworld of the warriors. This time, there's the added benefit of every ship we encounter being instantly hostile.
As you sit surrounded by your three captors feeling a little bruised, you realize that gray must denote being a member of the warrior caste. You would hazard a guess that Brown would then denote leadership amongst the Polaris. Your deductions are cut short when you see the lithe athletic figure of Iuso walk into the room.
"The Council acknowledges your story but agrees with me that you have no business on this station," she informs you almost casually. "You are hereby told that this station is off-limits, and you are to leave and not return. Are there any questions Ambassador?"
Without waiting for your response, the three warriors guarding you pick you up and begin taking you back to your ship. Everything you do to resist somehow gets twisted by some trick of mechanical advantage into moving you along faster.
You realize that it is pointless to resist, and that you should simply get on with the rest of your mission and begin scouting around Southern Polaris Space.
And back we go.
After having a quick look around you realize that this is the 'home-world' of the warrior caste. While the Nil'a Ca station is their battle headquarters, this planet is their 'spiritual' home.
After a few hours of fruitless wandering, you learn that it is useless to try to draw any of these warriors into conversation, as they only seem to be prepared to give you monosyllable answers. You reckon that this is something Krane and Frandall would want to know about, so you decide to head back to New England to make your report.
It's not nearly enough money to replace our carrier fleet. Only one escort carrier survived Nil'Kemorya and the trip back. 1000 men and women died for this information!
Following the usual protocols, Krane takes you to your debrief where both she and Frandall question you at length regarding your trip. After they squeeze from you every possible detail, they sit back looking tired.
"It looks like we may have a small problem," Frandall comments quietly. "There is no doubt that the Federation will accept this proposal as it stands, and then we will be fighting something of a rearguard action to retain our influence from thereon in. We may have to figure out ways of reindoctrinating people once they come back from the Polaris."
"You did well on your last mission," says Krane, shaking her head at Frandall. "Keep an eye out because we will be in contact soon as we will undoubtedly need you for another mission soon into Polaris space. We have transferred a sizeable sum of money into your account, so go out there and enjoy yourself while you can."
Next time: We get our own!