Part 31: Federation - Part 06 - July 13th, 1182 NC: Knock knockJuly 13th, 1182 NC: Knock knock
We run around a bit before returning to New England. A strange cargo drone is in-system. Maybe it's some sort of sign?
Krane isn't there to meet us, so we busy ourselves protecting Federation space from the marauding savages. We do pretty well for ourselves.
We're tracked down soon after.
You are a little surprised to see the blond hair and athletic figure of Krane apparently just taking a rest on one of the many sidewalk benches in the spaceport. She looks up, spots you and waves you over.
"It will be hitting the news in a little over a week," she informs you quietly, "that the Federation has agreed to the Polaris proposal. The Polaris leader will be travelling to Earth to sign the documents sealing the alliance. In something of a sign of good faith, the leader of the Polaris has asked to be brought here (with her personal bodyguards), by Federation transport. Rather than leave it to just anybody, we want you to be the one to pick her up.
"Are you interested in becoming a chauffeur, Ambassador?"
On the way to Polaris space, we come across none other than the Saint Himself.
"This mission should be fairly easy," Krane continues after you agree to take the mission. "All you have to do is head back over to Kel'ar Iy in the Kel'ariy system, pick up Bis Andreya and head back to Earth in the Sol system.
"Try to keep her alive," says Krane meaningfully. "The Bureau is at something of a disadvantage in this particular exchange, as it is one of the few times where we have relatively little control over events concerning the formation of Federation policy. So if she dies while under the protection of a Bureau operative, we would struggle to contain the resulting media circus.
(A Canticle for Leibowitz is a great novel and you should read it)
We don't get the most friendly welcome upon arrival. Why do they try to kill the damn ambassador of an allied nation? They deserve to get crushed.
They try to kill us with their leader on board too!
Given the efficient manner of the Polaris, you are not terribly surprised when Bis Andreya, along with her eight bodyguards, greets you when you open your hatch. After exchanging a few courtesies, you formally ask her to come aboard, and she does so.
Her bodyguards take charge and whisk her onto your ship and they inform you that they will make sure that she is taken care of. You shrug your shoulders and head back up to your cockpit to begin going through your pre-flight checklist.
We get back to Earth without more than a handful of pirates impeding us.
Bis Andreya is met by an official party headed by the Vice-President of the Federation, and after they move you see Commander Krane who indicates that you should follow her. She takes you through a series of corridors before you enter a room with a large screen at one end.
After a few moments Frandall enters and he greets you jovially.
"Good work 'Ambassador'," he tells you cheerfully. "Keep an eye on the screen. The vision is supplied courtesy of a shielded camera in the council-room that they will be using to sign all the official documents."
You are a little mystified, but keep an eye on the monitor as Krane and Frandall make small talk. Soon enough you see the media file in, and before long the official party, including the Federation Vice President and Bis Andreya who take center stage.
The Vice-President makes a brief statement to the media, and ends by looking straight at the camera to this viewscreen and saying that he hopes this alliance will allow both cultures to move forward.
Given all the pain the Polaris forced me to endure at their hands, reading this was the most satisfaction I've gotten all story.
Suddenly the screen becomes unbearably bright, and you hear the sound of a loud explosion. When the screen clears you can clearly see the charred remains of the official party lying dead. You continue watching, stunned, and you see a couple of Bis Andreya's bodyguards, somehow reaching their feet despite their horrific burns, make their way offscreen.
"Pretty tough buggers to survive a thermite blast," comments Frandall thoughtfully. "Oh well, we need a few of them to make it back to Polaris space anyway."
You turn around, looking confused.
"This was the plan all along," explains Frandall. "We couldn't allow this alliance to come to fruition, it would mean the gradual erosion of our control, and the very act of bringing in an outside factor was an act of rebellion by the Federation Council that we couldn't let go unpunished.
"We're heading back to New England," he continues thoughtfully. "Meet us there in a few weeks and we will have something for you."
Both Krane and Frandall are waiting for you when you walk in, and they take you down the corridor at the rear of the bar into the Bureau office there.
"As we told you on Earth," begins Krane as you sit down, "this has been the plan for some time. We knew that the Polaris would have to react to our sudden takeover of the Auroran Empire, and that they would be somehow trying to reeducate us. We infected the President with a non-lethal virus to keep him from the signing because, as you know, we have him in our pocket, and so the Vice-President, on whom we have nothing, was forced to take his place in the official party."
"The Polaris will now declare war against the Federation," Frandall continues, taking over, "leaving their Southern flank wide open. A weakness our Moash allies will make gleeful use of.
"We couldn't tell you this before now," explains Frandall, "because we suspect that the Polaris have a number of telepaths amongst them, and we couldn't risk information reaching them of our plans."
Remember when we came here to scout out the Aurorans? The Aurorans are even bigger and badder this time around. We've seen Cunjo before, so have a look at the nearby Tekel instead.
"It will take the Polaris at least another week to receive the message about the death of their leader," Krane murmurs quietly, "and at least another week to marshal their forces for a major attack. We need that time to begin marshalling our own forces to defend against them. In that time we want you to head down to Cunjo in the Sender system to meet up with the Auroran forces there.
"When you get there we want you to talk to Elder Kerachk," she continues explaining. "He is the commander of the Auroran forces there that they have been building up for the last several months in preparation for the assault."
"In essence," Frandall informs you succinctly, "we want you to lead the Auroran forces firstly to the home-world of the warrior caste and then on to their battle HQ. Once you have done that, return here as quickly as possible, for undoubtedly we will need your skills to help us emerge triumphant in the coming conflict.
"Good luck," Frandall finishes formally, "all our plans rely solely on you."
Uh. Whoops. That can't be the worst of them, can it?
This planet used to have a population of slightly more than 136 billion, but since the recent invasion by the forces of the Federation and the Moash House, that has dropped below 50 billion. Those who remain will probably suffer slow and painful deaths over the next decade or so, as the full effects of the biological weapons employed by the Federation begin to take hold.
This planet used to be the proud capital of Dani space. Very little remains now that the Moash and Federation forces have swept through this system. The population has been reduced from slightly more than 100 billion people to less than 40 billion. The tens of thousands of warriors who used to be housed here were burned together and placed in an enormous earthen jar which is displayed prominently amongst the ruins of the spaceport. The inscription tells you that they used to be called the 'Fenta-kiir', meaning 'They who fall to protect the heart'. It goes on to say that they have now been renamed the 'Fento-Krakhen', which translates as 'Those who died attempting to blow against the wind'.
Heraan used to be the most heavily populated world in Known Space, with some 220 billion inhabitants. After the Federation forces swept through here, the vengeful Moash warriors took out their anger on their hated Heraan enemies. They left the countless bodies of the dead strewn everywhere as a silent witness to the largest massacre in human history. After only a few months of destruction, not more than a one hundred thousand remain.
....well. Uh, on to Cunjo...
Before the arrival of the combined Moash and Federation fleets, this was the homeworld of the Vella House. What was already a polluted mess of a world is now virtually incapable of supporting life, and the 40 billion survivors of what used to be a population exceeding 170 billion are probably all going to die painfully from one cause or another over the next decade.
As soon as you dock on this station you are greeted by a party of five heavily tattooed warriors. They tell you that Elder Kerachk is currently out on exercises with some of his warriors, but that a message informing him of your arrival has been sent and that he will be not more than a few hours away.
You bow low and thank them for their courtesy and tell them that you will await for his return in the bar. They bow low in return agreeing to pass on your message as soon as he arrives back on the station.
They're treating us pretty well considering we've Great Patriotic War'd them about a year ago.
As you sit, quietly attempting to down the horrendous concoction that the locals drink, you see an elderly Auroran warrior walk into the bar. As he makes his way over you observe that his body is covered by countless 'battle' tattoos, and, despite his age, he still carries himself as if ready to ward off any attack.
"I am Elder Kerachk," he informs you as he sits down opposite you, with a sly smile on his face, "and you, a Federation 'Ambassador' have been sent here by Krane to show us the way into the Polaris defenses?"
You tell him that the plan is for the Auroran forces to launch against the home-world of the Polaris warrior caste, and then against their battle headquarters. You explain that the Polaris have been provoked into launching a full-scale attack on the Federation, and that they will have left their Southern border relatively unguarded.
You watch Kerachk's face for some hint of how he is taking your news with increasing apprehension until he laughs a sudden brutal laugh and slaps the table.
"We will launch against the physical and spiritual hearts of the Polaris defenses?" he asks and you nod in confirmation. "This will be a worthy battle! I will send ten of my best ships with you to learn the route, and once we know the way, we will launch ourselves upon these mysterious Polaris, and we shall see if we are ready to measure ourselves against them! And to think, we will be led into battle against the Polaris by the 'Ambassador'. Who would have thought it? Surely this is an omen that the time to strike is NOW!"
The warriors in the bar all raise their drinks at this last shout and salute the coming battle, with many of them uttering battle cries.
You tell Kerachk that you will be prepping your ship for flight as soon as possible.
"My men will be ready when you are!" he tells you gleefully. "You will be the first Federation 'Ambassador' to have ever had the honor of leading the Auroran Empire into battle!"
We've got a conga line of death at our fingertips! No less than ten jacked up cruisers at our beck and call, enough to subdue planets and knock out entire Polaris fleets. We're good to take anything on!
Except there's nobody home. We land unopposed on Nil'ar Kemorya, the warrior homeworld.
Well, at least the ships look pretty in formation.
When you land you see four of the Auroran Cruisers deploying ground troops to protect a fifth Cruiser which is deploying a bulky piece of equipment, which you assume will be the beacon which the rest of the Auroran fleet will home-in upon. You can see that the Auroran warriors on the ground immediately start taking casualties from the Polaris warriors, while the remaining Cruisers try to keep the air above the deploying beacon clear of Polaris ships.
Of course, the Polaris will destroy the beacon as soon as you leave, but it only has to send out a single pulse to allow the Auroran fleet to pinpoint its exact location.
Soon enough, the beacon is fully deployed, and the Aurorans begin falling back to their ships. As they begin retreating you can see that several groups hold themselves as a suicide rearguard so that their colleagues can escape. To a man they are killed, but their sacrifice allows the Aurorans to get away cleanly.
We head to Nil'a Ca next, encountering only a tiny bit of action on the way. Why give us unparalleled firepower and no worthy targets?
The Aurorans uphold Zell as always.
When you dock you see a similar tactic used by the Aurorans of four Cruisers deploying ground troops to protect a fifth which is deploying the beacon. Once again the Auroran warriors on the ground immediately start taking casualties from the Polaris warriors, while the remaining Cruisers try to keep the space around the station now holding the beacon clear of Polaris ships.
The beacon is quickly deployed, and the Auroran warriors begin withdrawing back to their ships leaving behind several small rearguard groups so that they can get away cleanly. With an almost clockwork precision that you would not have expected from the Aurorans, the Cruisers lift off and begin heading out far enough to make the jump to hyperspace. Your comm beeps, indicating an incoming hail.
"Thank you for your help Ambassador," says the veteran warrior leading the Auroran task force, "we have been honored to share of your knowledge. If songs are made about this battle, I will make sure that your part will be remembered."
We win 4000 credits betting on the Red viper in the bar before we leave!
After watching the Aurorans depart the system back towards their awaiting fleet you decide that it is time to head back to New England to find out if Krane or Frandall need any help with anything. You wonder how the Polaris/Federation war is coming; for all you know, it might be over and the Federation lost.
With that thought you launch yourself back towards Earth.
We jump back to Earth, noting that a full-scale Polaris invasion seems to be ongoing, with Scarabs and Arachnids futzing around in Kania and Tichel. We toss a few missiles their way, but we've got a despot to meet.
Are we worried for her exhaustion or worried that something exists that can make her break composure?
You see a tired looking Krane standing only a few meters away after you exit your ship. Worry at her obvious exhaustion gnaws at you as you make your way over.
"So how are the Aurorans going?" she asks casually after you sit down. You give her a quick summary of the events of your mission, and she nods thoughtfully when you finish.
"The battle is virtually at a standstill," she informs you quietly. "Both fleets have been virtually wiped out, and we have been forced to utilize the prototypes of an experimental ship, the RAGE Gunboat, to mop up what is left of the Polaris forces.
"Unfortunately," she continues wearily, "the Polaris also had a couple of ships up their sleeves, and the remaining ships are super-powerful Cruisers called Ravens. So far they have been virtually unstoppable, and although we have had some success against them by overwhelming them with numbers, we believe that at least one has managed to slip past us and will reach the Tichel system in the next few days.
"We need every available ship to help out," she tells you as she runs her tired eyes, "can you lend a hand?"
This is the final boss - a special uparmoured Polaris Raven. Unfortunately, it still sports the multi-torpedoes which can two-hit our carrier. I take the high route of cloaking while the Raven expends its torpedoes on garrisoning fighters, then uncloaking and pounding it to bits with our long-range railguns and missiles. Don't bring a space-melee weapon to a railgun fight!
"Thank you," she smiles gratefully. "Like I said, they will be in the Tichel system soon, so meet them there. They have to be destroyed before they can go any further.
"If you make it through," she finishes dismissively, "you will find me on New England, and, if you make it, we will finally be able to give you a full debrief on your last few missions.
"Good luck Kirk Picard," Krane shakes your hand, "come back alive."
Long-distance combat doesn't make for very visually exciting combat, sadly. Just imagine the numbers going down followed by the space-noise of a distant explosion.
We return to New England.
Krane congratulates us "prettily." If we were female, she would congratulate us "warmly." I know the "Krane is attractive" angle is pushed hard, but this is just silly!
As soon as you land your battered ship is surrounded by a swarm of technicians. In the tumult you spot Krane and she takes you to a debrief where she and Frandall get you to go over the events of your Auroran mission, and the battle with the Polaris Raven. After questioning you for several hours they relax, apparently satisfied.
"It seems that we have managed to pull it all together," remarks Frandall in his underhanded way. "You won't yet know this, but the Polaris have sent a diplomatic envoy directly to me surrendering unconditionally to the Bureau. And while they will be doing their best to subvert us to their way of thinking through education, we have a firm grip on the situation, and we are now in a position to deal with any threat that they will come to pose."
"And much of this is thanks to you, Kirk Picard," congratulates Krane prettily. "Without you, this could well have turned into a shambles. Meet me in the bar in two hours, as it appears we have one last loose end to tie up."
Almost exactly two hours later, you see the stunning Krane walk in to the admiring gazes of every man in the room. She quickly spots you and comes over.
"It appears that the President is making one final attempt to grow a spine," she tells you quietly after you exchange greetings. "He wants to announce to the media that he is going to cut Bureau spending by as much as half, which would effectively stop us from operating as an effective force unless we were to hand over the reins of governing our newly acquired territories to the Council. He has called me to a meeting to 'inform' me of his intentions, but I will have a few things to say about it all."
You shrug your shoulders, indicating that you do not feel that the matter concerns you.
"Oh, but I want you to be the one to take me there," she tells you gleefully. "Seeing your face should unsettle him, and that will give me an advantage in our exchange.
"Are you interested in bullying the President of the Federation?" she asks with a sly grin.
It's quick indeed.
"I knew that would appeal to your sense of natural justice," she continues ironically. "Well, when you are ready, if we could get to the President's offices on Earth, we can get this circus started.
"Just keep an eye out for Federation ships in the Sol system," Krane warns you quietly. "We believe that he has been trying to gather around him troops loyal to him directly, so we cannot trust the commanders of any Federation Naval ships around Earth at this time."
After hearing all this you quickly down your drink and the two of you head back to your beloved 'Menaces With Spikes' to begin your quick journey to Sol.
Budget crises make for the best drama.
As soon as you land Krane leads you to the President's offices where he is sweating, surrounded with four bodyguards.
"Glad you could make it, Miss Krane," he welcomes you a little too enthusiastically, "I have a matter that I wanted to discuss with you before I go public with it."
"Would this be your planned Bureau budget cut?" she asks casually.
"Why, ah, yes," he answers, clearly surprised. "How were you aware of it?"
"We are aware of many things Mr. President," she informs him in a low tone, "but perhaps you are not. You do realize that both the Polaris and the Aurorans obey orders directly from the Bureau, and not from the Federation government, don't you? If these cuts were to go ahead, it would be somewhat catastrophic to your presidency if they were to both attack the Federation simultaneously. Especially when both governments would, in no uncertain terms, be told by me to assassinate you specifically, Mr. President."
And so ends the Federation storyline, with an unnecessary and flow-breaking quasimission. There's a bit of post-game content I haven't shown off yet...
"Are you threatening me?" asks the President, suddenly smug. "Did you know that I am allowed to order any action to protect myself against any and all threats during a state of emergency? I'm sure you agree that I cannot allow myself to be threatened by people who should be working for me," he turns to his bodyguards. "Shoot her, will you."
The bodyguard draws his weapon and smashes it against the President's temple, hard.
"Thank you for pointing that out, Mr. President," Krane continues unruffled. "As you can see, we still have the upper-hand. You WILL do what we want, or you will be killed. Now, about your speech this evening..."
It takes you another twenty years, but you eventually rid yourself of both Krane and Frandall to become the unassailable ruler of all humanity. Upon taking up the mantle of leadership you gently rub your hands together before executing a plan to begin molding humanity into your own image. After all, what is absolute power good for, other than to challenge God?
In the Galactic Northwest, a series of vanity planets named after the developers show up. Starting at Rebel I to refuel, we proceed west...
Rebel I posted:
This planet used to house the Rebel leaders, but since the end of the Rebellion it has become a base for the new Federation Exploration Corps. It acts as a return point for the thousands of scoutships that the Corps has sent out in an effort to explore further than humanity has ever gone before. The services here are good, as they have been maintained since the days of the Rebellion.
The Rebels were canonically wiped out as well. The Nil'Kemorya fared little better:
Rebel I's Bar posted:
This room is full of young pilots wanting to live on the edge and maybe find something new. They give you plenty of space but ignore you because you are obviously an older pilot from a time when nobody went outside the Federation. Oh, the arrogance of youth.
Because of this, the Nil'kemorya had no fear of falling in battle, as was demonstrated during the Polaris War where they fought until their caste was completely destroyed. This was their homeworld.
But we're here to explore. The first stop is Luminary.
Eight is next.
This place is the home of technical excellence. If you want something custom-made, then the best place to get it done is here. Everybody here seems to be bent on creating everything from scratch, and doing an absolutely professional job. It does seem odd that the people here are an absolutely peace-loving people, and yet they make some of the best weapon systems in the known universe.
The population of Eight are an odd group. The people here vary from the extremely moral, yet understanding, to the near paranoid yet caring. They tend to spend a fair amount of time working on artistic pursuits, but they do seem to have a little trouble going past that initial creative burst and finishing a project. However, if you need a friend to help you out, then you won't find any better.
Pipeline in the Willon system follows,
Eight's Bar posted:
You walk into a busy nightclub in which a techno beat continually beats against your chest. As you wrestle your way to the bar you notice a tall guy with a completely shaved head excepting two horns of hair and two short pointed tails at the back of his head cutting sick on the dance floor.
And Soth is last.
You will not find a better example of a caring group of people as you will find here on Pipeline. To a fault, they will spend as much time as they can on trying to do the right thing. However, do not ask too much of them, because they have a tendency to fall into a depression occasionally when they think that they have fallen below the standards they set of themselves. During these times they just need a little space to themselves, and they will recover nicely.
The people of Soth are a hard-working people, whose only desire is to help others. Their only real fault is that at times they will try to interject themselves into situations in an attempt to help, and only end up getting in the way. They have a very relaxed and easy-going outlook on life, and they enjoy the little things. But make sure you stay within the bounds of common decency, for they have very strong beliefs about what is right and wrong.
Soth's Bar posted:
You enter this small establishment to find it nicely full of happily drunk patrons. You happen to notice a broad-shouldered, slightly overweight guy wearing glasses sipping quietly on what looks to be a scotch.
And that's all for the Federation. We missed the wrap-up of the Gli-Tech subplot where we get a free RAGE Gunboat to test out, and there are quite a few ways to fall in and out of the Federation plotline, but we may see a few in the future. For now, you know the drill...
Suggest a name, ship name, storyline, and occupation! We've got the Rebel, Auroran and Pirate storylines left to do. We're going to be gender-swapping once more back to female.