• Nobles of Null is a forum based roleplay site where sci-fi and magic collide. Here, Earth remains fractured and divided despite humanity reaching out to the stars. Worse still, the trans-human slaves of one major power have escaped, only to establish their own Empire, seething with resentment at abuses of the past. Even the discovery of aliens, though medieval in development, has failed to rally these squabbling children of Earth together with its far darker implications. Worse still, is the discovery of the impossible - magic. Practiced by the alien locals, nearly depleted and therefore rare, its reality warping abilities remains abstract and distant to the general populace. All the while, unseen in the darkness of space, forces from without threaten to press in. For those with eyes opened by insight, it is clear that an era is about to end, and that a new age will dawn.

Day in the Life: Escape from the Heavenly State

Ray of Meep

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Some time in Terran Autumn, 2321

Wang Bing Po (Hill that overlooks the Ice), an abandoned mineshaft of Ao Guang, Xiang Long Gas Giant System, of the greater Shen Zhou System


Wang Bing Po wasn't a single location, but a bundle of manpower and equipment that changed from location to location, whenever the local space command discovered their current headquarters. Sometimes Wang Bing Po actually did reside in a mineshaft above ice level, buried in one of the frozen, earthen hills scattered across the moon. Sometimes it betrayed its namesake, instead sinking deep into the ice, into one of the bubbles created by water extraction. Regardless, the same interior characteristics largely remained the same: a fission powerplant, a suite of life support, the most minimal of lounging, and a vast array of computers and passive communication equipment. All that was necessary to maintain a pirate operation in this system that was armed to the teeth.

The heart of Wang Bing Po, the crew, didn't need much anyways. They were all biologically and cybernetically augmented, one way or the other, thus depended less on the comfort of one-Earth-gravity. Ex-military, disillusionists, opportunists, united in their contempt of the state. They worked for the highest bidder, either corporate or a foreign government entity, but as long as they got paid, they didn't care who, how, or with, including the greatest enemies of the Great Heavenly State, the Daqinren. Today though, their might start to, as they watched the news on their individual datapads.

It came from the Shen Zhou Central Reporting, SZCR, a respectable news outlet for the majority, a propaganda machine for the few who dared criticize openly. Cameras pointed to a central square in Ri Li, the capital of the system located on Wu Zetian, bathed in the desert heat and bright sunlight. Drones armed with cameras and pistols flew overhead. Soldiers, blank faced, dressed in Thunder-Class battle armor stood to attention, forming a perimeter around the square. A stone faced man stood behind a podium. Du'ong Bin An, the Chief Executive of the Bureau of State Security, overlooked six prisoners in bright neon jumpsuits, kneeling on the ground, each supervised by a soldier, with two additional soldiers flanking the line. An then looked up to the crowd, and began to speak.

"Weeks ago the Magnetic Assembly launched a successful assault on our SLE occupied by the American Union, hindering our communication with our brethren in the Heaven Forged Republic. However, our own developments of a mobile SLE have come to fruition, allowing some semblance of normalcy. More importantly, today, I present to you two Daqinren and four traitors." He gestured to the prisoners as the crowd booed in disgust. The Daqinren were visibly indistinguishable to the normal human, but it wasn't too difficult for them to change between their human and more animalistic forms, provided the right facilities. "As FTL travel shutdown for most of our state, they found their retreat cutoff and were driven to panic, ultimately resulting in their capture. Today, they will face the consequences of espionage, piracy, and treason. Guards, conduct the execution."

The soldiers mechanically aimed their rifles at the backs of the prisoners' heads and pulled the trigger without hesitation. One could make out one of the prisoners growling in protest, before their brain matter was splattered across the square grounds, the brief roar of gunfire echoing across the surrounding buildings. After a brief silence, the crowd cheered, An looked up to the cameras, still stone faced. "This is a message to all remaining traitorous sympathizers in the system. We know exactly how many Daqinren remain, and a good idea of your whereabouts as well. Hand them over to the state, and we will grant you a full pardon of all previous crimes. Else, face humiliation." He gestured to the dead bodies that splayed before him, already attracting fly-analogs in the heat.
 
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CadetNewb

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As the news, or what passed as news, continued to play, a woman with shoulder length brown-black hair sipped from her silvery water pouch. This was concerning. Very, very concerning.

"This is bad," Hoshiko commented in their virtuality. As the collective hub of Daqinren in nearby proximity, it could have looked like anything, but this time? It was set up to look like a WWII field camp, perhaps to set the more somber tone. Though Hoshiko's ears were docked and tail clipped in meat-space to perfectly blend into the human population, they were on full display here along with her orange tiger-striped hair. "Does anyone know who those people were? I didn't recognize anyone that was just executed," she offhandedly commented, running through her database to be sure. "Raise your hand if you recognize any of them?" Hoshiko raised her own, pointing to the elevated hand with her finger to give an example. After a moment she sighed, no takers stepping forward. "No? Hm. Maybe they got the wrong people then or something."

Hoshiko pressed F to pay respect to the departed. Whoever those humans were.
 

Uso

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"Do you not have access to the personnel database? Knowing anyone outside of this cell is above my station." Jan replied, having shown up in the WWII simulation with the first WWII era outfit that came up in her search: black slacks with a red stripe that matched her bright red jacket, buttons straining to contain her ox-form chest along with an obscenely large fuzzy black hat that added a few feet to her height. She barely bothered to animate her body as she stood in the field camp with Hoshiko, arms crossed, her attention elsewhere as she discussed the current situation.

"Not that it matters. This is all bluster, you don't make a declaration like that until after you've picked up all the people you know about. I think they are just trying to rattle us... still we should be careful. Everyone should update their gene-mods to make themselves less conspicuous. The attention the men of this world give my chest is a liability now. I'm going to have to use a more modest body type like yours."
 
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CadetNewb

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"I do, but it's not all-inclusive," Hoshiko replied. "Security reasons and all that, sine we're visiting this system as tourists and such," she pointed out, only paying enough attention to the people in meat-space to keep an eye on any suspicious movement. A data breach with a Daqinren's head was difficult, but still a distinct possibility. The thought brought up the image of a spoon scraping against the inside shell of a hardboiled egg, but she quickly dismissed that as quick as it came up. "Panic is a mistake, as it always is, but if I had to guess, we're going to be waiting for a long time," Hoshiko added, toying around with one of those strange, in-setting ration boxes of the era. "And I suspect it's too late to do any drastic gene-modding at this point. You should have thought of that long before setting out."
 

Ray of Meep

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An anomaly was reported back after a database sweep. Communication between Daqinren cells in the system was sparse, but there was a web of pings to inform others of their existence. A week ago, the Shinsen Kaze missed its ping, a small destroyer that only needed two crew to operate. A profile of the crew confirmed the worst: their modified vestiges matched two of the prisoners executed. However, it was unknown if the destroyer itself was captured. Unlikely; Daqin ships in the system were set to self destruct if they missed scheduled, manual overrides by the crew. It could be a cloud of vapor by now, having ruptured an asteroid, or completely annhialated whatever unfortunate civilian carrier it was hiding in. Information was sparse; they needed to get to a population center for a more encompassing database of the going-on's in the system.

"Hoshiko?" The man approached Hoshiko in meatspace, the two together in the small lounge space. He was the leader of this small pirate group that was aiding her, half-Caucasian, half-Asian, one of his eyes visibly replaced cybernetically. "We need to talk payment and future plans. I won't turn you in, but I need to make the risk worth it." He stated bluntly, "Plus, housing you long term wasn't in the deal. At some point you were going to leave and bring us with you, but that's not possible anymore."
 
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CadetNewb

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"Ugh, just got an update," Hoshiko sighed in their virtuality. Before she could continue though, one of the hired help approached. "Of course you're going to get paid," Hoshiko rolled her artificially brown eyes in meatspace. "We are simply altering the deal," Not-Hoshiko pointed out. "They're some second-classers that were put in a hand-me-down ship to help out us tourists. Apparently they got caught," she continued in VR, angrily tearing into the cardboard K Ration. Blue eyes glaring down at the contents spilling onto the floor, she tossed it aside in virtual annoyance. "Think in our terms. The timetable is simply longer now. Even in the worst case scenario, you're getting paid one way or another," she added, crossing and uncrossing her legs to make a point. Even 'downgraded' to fit in with humans, she was not unattractive.

Far from it.
 

Uso

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"Is that going to disrupt our timetable that much? The human territories are nice places to visit but I wouldn't want to be stuck here long term. Their fascination with silly outfits will only entertain me for so long." Jan replied, showing more concern for her acquisitions than for second-class citizens.
 

Ray of Meep

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The man, who simply called himself Pao, shook his head, stone-faced and crossed his arms to make a point himself, his cybernetic eye twitching. Perhaps to weaker civilians Hoshiko's motions would've got some reaction, but Pao was ex-military, and leader of this band of pirates for a reason. "That's not how this works, lady. Everyday I have to keep hiding you, everyday I have a flirt with the end of a barrel. You have to promise us better compensation after we get you out, and a new timetable for when you get out. A concrete one. No vague promises." He demanded.
 

CadetNewb

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"You flirt with the end of a barrel every day," Hoshiko pointed out, less than enthused by the human's stupidity. "Yeah, it's gonna mess with our timetables that much," she replied to Jan, the historically accurate K-Ration popping back into her hand at a thought. "We have to wait for the Imperial Fleet to get into position with a mobile SLE, and that's after a stealthed renzevous-point is set up for it to park at outside the system." Tinkering with the vintage P-38 can opener in the virtuality, she continued on in meat-space. "Besides, it's not like I wasn't going to up your reward for the effort. What did you take me for?" the totally-not-the-empress's-daughter crossed her arms. "Besides bringing you and your lot to the Empire, I can have your genes whipped into proper shape too you know."

And everyone knew what came with Daqinren genes - citizenship.
 

Ray of Meep

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"My crew and I want a little more than that." Pao crossed his arms, "You're first-class, we know how valuable you are. The eggheads in the military would love to scoop out your brains and probe them for all their secrets and incinerate the rest of us for silence. We're not risking our necks just to become second rate fodder. Genes aren't enough. We want the rest of our lives taken care of." He demanded again, with a threatening tone this time, "I'm done stuck in a pressure tube for months and years on end. A deadline and a promise. Else I'll take my chances on that fucking desert planet."
 

CadetNewb

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"Second rate fodder?" Hoshiko raised an eyebrow. "Ugh, I hate the pushy types. Could at least be polite about it," she began fiddling with the P-38 can opener proper in the virtuality. "I think you're underestimating how easy life gets once you become a citizen, but sure. We'll see to it that the rest of your lives are taken care of," the-not-crouching-tigeress replied dismissively in meatspace. She took another hydrating sip of water from the silvery pouch. "If you and the guys are that worked up, I can even get you all in front of the Empress," the so called 'Mrs. Yang Wen Li' suggested. In VR however, Hoshiko was screaming. "OHMYGOSH! Look!" she began opening the can with the quaint little can opener. "This thing is amazing! So cute!" It was of course, a drastic contrast to her self in meatspace, who was less than amused to put it lightly.

"As for timetables, three weeks for the mobile SLE to arrive and our evac to commence. During that time? We'll probably have to go to ground and get some jobs amongst the populace," the not-Daqin-princess elaborated.
 

Uso

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"I don't know how you do it. Everything from this Era looks stupid. You know this is seriously a uniform they wore?! This jacket won't stop a bullet and this fuzzy hat is just... stupid. They didn't even know what guns were back then." Jan replied, spawning in a weapon to make her point, some horribly disfigured rifle with handles, and magazines sticking out in all sorts of weird directions. "Have you tried offering them cheese yet? That usually works. Its a quick gene tweak and BOOM, these HFR types can process lactose for the first time in their entire lineage. The Americans love the stuff so much they put it on everything."
 

Ray of Meep

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Pao sighed, visibly less frustrated. "I suggest getting to work rallying your people. You have a lot of work to do, getting all your gear together. I assume the mobile SLE is going to arrive on the edge of the system, so unless you want to do a fusion burn and alert every military sensor in the system, you have to start moving, too, like how our common ancestors did it: slow chemical burns." He then threw his hands up and turned around, fiddling with a org chart on his datapad. "Ooorrrr you can try to go out with a bang and make a hard burn, bat off any fleet that tries to intercept you. You're the boss here."
 

CadetNewb

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"Maybe I should tell him lactose tolerance is a thing then?" Hoshiko seriously considered for a moment. "I doubt he'd appreciate the finer points of cheese though," she admitted with a sigh. Addressing the man in meat-space, she replied, "You're in charge of guarding me, so you don't have to worry about the rest." Hoshiko tossed away her now empty water pouch. "Besides, rallying and organizing is the worst possible thing to do right now since it just groups us all up into one big target. We're better off just being tiny cells that occasionally talk," she then explained to the muscle. "It's three weeks of mundane blending in and working a 5-9 job, then what's absolute horror to you when we finally make the break for it when backup arrives," the totally-not-a-military-commander-on-vacation pointed out. "Then, and only then, we can worry about what burn type is best. Sound good?"

"Holy shit, you're right! Their guns are so screwy back then!" Hoshiko squee'd, a Breda 30 appearing on the table. "It uses actual CLIPS!"
 

Uso

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*BLAM*

Jan fired her weapon one handed, and then frowned when more bullets didn't come out of the odd gun tube. She'd end up throwing the gun off into the distance as if it were some giant throwing knife then spawn a new weapon in her hand rather than bothering to try and manipulate the weapon's action.

*BLAM*

She'd then drop the weapon and spawn another one.

*BLAM*

drop

*BLAM*

drop

*BLAM*

"We could give him an alcohol tolerance? Muscles? A personality?" Jan offered, dropping her ancient weapon on the floor with the growing pile of other ancient weapons, "You think they'd be desperate enough to just not be human anymore. I already miss my proper ears and I've been human for less than a month. He's been Human all his life!"
 

Ray of Meep

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"Fine." Pao shrugged. "If you really want to try your luck and do grunt work with the locals, I'll plan for that. Or you can just stay here in your VR space while I go do a supply run with the Bing Ta (Ice Tower). Like you said, I'm just trying to make sure you're blended in, though you don't make it easy." He looked at Hoshiko's physical silhouette disapprovingly. It was a fine shape... for a whorehouse, but garnered too much attention by entertainment-deprived skeleton crews in between the SLE and Wu Zetian.
 

CadetNewb

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Hoshiko raised an eyebrow at Pao.

"You sure about that?" the not-a-Daqinren-princess began. "Me and the milker can just stay here and play videogames all day?" she asked, pointing a thumb over her shoulder at Jun. "I mean, we could probably sign up at a local bar or exotic dance club and rake in a lot of cash to earn our pay, buuuuuut if you're okay with that...." the totally-not-a-transhuman-in-disguise smugly trailed her voice off.

The display screen nearby popped up to show Hoshiko and Jun in their virtuality. "Quick! The Nazi Zombies are coming!" she yelled, the shambling undead breaking into their WWII era base.
 

Uso

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Jun wasn't exactly paying attention to her body in meat-space, letting it rest on a cot while she focused on her online duties.

Duties that now involved zombies.

"Aren't zombies supposed to not have brains working brains? like, that already doesn't make sense but would they really still follow Nazi ideology after becoming zombies? If anything they aren't working towards any major goals besides the destruction of society. Really wouldn't they be anarchist zombies once they are zombified?"
 
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Ray of Meep

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Pao scoffed, "I'd prefer it. I spend more time and heartache making sure you're not caught than it's worth. It's easier for me if you suck oxygen and carbs for a few weeks for free and lay low. Anyways," He began to walk out of the lounge, "I'm going to prepare the Bing Ta now. Jian's going to be in charge while I'm gone, be nice to her. The Huo Ta (Fire Tower) is available for an emergency."
 

CadetNewb

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"Wait, me loafing around is easier for you? You think I can't pull my own weight or something?" Hoshiko set her hands on her hips at the offense. "I bet I can rake in the cash you do twice over and keep this op running," she pointed a thumb at herself. Meanwhile, the screen showed her now practicing her Gun Wǔshù with a C96, rapidly alternating between the heads of the Fascist Undead, popping until they dropped. "I think it's supposed to be a power fantasy that occasionally gets challenging when a super-zombie comes along?" the tigress guessed. "Don't ask me about how humans come up with this stuff! It's been around for hundreds of years!"
 
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