A Science Fantasy Space Opera

  • 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.

Prologue: The Incident

Ray of Meep

Administrator
February, 2321

Yasny System, Kitezh, Chekhovsk: planetary capital

Chekhovsk was a light house among the endless, icy plains. Any significant change in elevation was over a hundred kilometers away. Yasny shined down on the ice and the city itself, engulfing the entire area in a bright, cold white light. The entire city, less than a hundred kilometers in diameter itself, slightly smaller than the 21st century Tokyo urban area, far smaller than the modern Tokyo megalopolis, was made of great skyscrapers, with smaller, bulkier industrial buildings and ports on the perimeter. In the permanent frost, every building was connected by both sky bridges and underground tunnels, forming an eye dizzying web of passageways.

Geiben was standing in one of the magrail shuttles dedicated to government officials, idly watching the city underneath his feat go by. There were a lot of similarities to New Cambridge, but very different as well. Sure, New Cambridge was too robotically efficient to his liking at times, but it had its softer edges in its residential areas. Chekhovsk gave zero fucks in comparison. Every building was aggressively polygonal, edges so sharp that they could cut flesh. The whole thing felt like a smattering of nails dropped onto this ice sheet, waiting to inflict pain on a giant that stepped on it.

"Caxia, remind me who we're meeting again today?" Geiben turned to his Magnetic Assembly friend standing besides him.
 

Uso

Moderator
Wiki Moderator
"We are here to meet with the local leadership of the Soyuz in order to strengthen the relationship between the Assembly and The Soyuz." Caxia stated rather flatly, their legs and arms firmly planted against the ceiling and floor of the magrail shuttle as the actual Caxia focused on what they were doing with little concern for the question that Geiben presented. Their chat-bot had even intercepted the audio from Geiben, not even bothering to relay it to Caxia, and instead activating their bodies' external speakers to relay the mission briefing from last month when the plan to make the extensive trip to Kitzeh was finalized.

Caxia's silver body was putting out quite a bit of heat, churning through their onboard power supply and spending cycles on things like data analysis and crypto-mining just to produce enough waste heat to keep warm. The soft material of the purple cloak they had on helped trap that heat a little, but it still made their immediate surroundings quite a bit warmer than the rest of the area.
 

steinOS

New member
This visit wouldn't be complete without an armed escort, as was evident by the two members of the Kitezhan military police that remained within 6ft of Geiben and Caxia at all times. Neither of them have said a word since the duo arrived on the edge of Chekhovsk, where one explained that they were assigned to escort the small diplomatic mission from the MA to the Presidium - the main house of the Kitezhan government. They were tall and dressed in long black overcoats with fur collars, bearing accents of indigo and white along with emblems of the CCM printed into the fabric on their shoulders. Their heads were warmed by black ushankas and hands in dark fingerless gloves - though the fingers that emerged from them, clasped around their weapons were of obsidian metal. Their guns were fairly short but stocky, supported by a forward handle and distinct cooling vents around the thick barrel - a powerful firearm intended for use in narrow spaces and interiors. They comically shifted on their feet, leaning in the opposing direction to the magrail's variety of turns in perfect sync as if they performed this journey daily. One was caucasian brunette with green eyes, the other an asian man with sharp features. They introduced themselves only as Vasiliy and Volodar, though it was unclear which was which.

The interior of the magrail was decorated with communist posters, digital news panels, maps of the routes and the planet itself, images of Earth, advertisements on university vacancies and courses, some propaganda from the working unions and other pieces of media. Inside it was warm enough to sustain life at any rate, sealed to prevent external gusts from piercing through the soul of anyone inside. While being exposed to the outside during the cyclone season was survivable for a few minutes without special equipment, it wouldn't let one go without frostbite. For this reason, the magrails only make stops inside buildings. One such building was approaching, broad domed roof and a digital flag of the CCM extending above it into the air. Geiben and Caxia were expected there. One of the MP officers averted his eyes to gaze at it.
 

Ray of Meep

Administrator
"To be honest? I never imagined I'd be cooperating with communists. Not federal socialists from the Union who pretend to be communists. Actual, full blown, Soyuz communists." Geiben looked at the two MP officers as he commented, comfortable commenting out loud as his tone carried not a hint of disdain or malice. "They're such an isolationist people, so strictly organized from the top-down. Then again..." He looked back at Caxia. "I suppose the Magnetic Assembly is no different, only that one is carbon, the other based on silicon. Maybe that's why we were so quick to get along."

As Geiben stepped out of the shuttle, he took off his winter hat and gloves, stuffing them into his large, white coat. He breathed in, then sighed dramatically. It's only been two years, maybe less, since he first arrived in the Hawking system. All his old Union beliefs seemed like a distant memory at this point. As he gazed into the large, looming rooms and hallways of this government building, Geiben felt a weighted sense of alien change that repeated now far more now. Within two years, he went from a commander of a science vessel to a captain in an independence movement, now diplomat to one of the four superstates of the human community. It was all a bit too overwhelming to a man in his mid thirties.
 

Uso

Moderator
Wiki Moderator
Caxia was also looking at the MP officers, in as much as they looked at anything. The sensors positioned around Caxia's head were unblinking, omnidirectional, and didn't really need to tilt in order to provide a 360 degree view even if they did on occasion to accentuate where Caxia's focus was placed.

"The Machine-Exemplar guides us." Caxia responded, with their chat-bot taking over the conversation from there to fill in the context, "...The Soyuz have offered friendship, and have not taken action against us. The Magnetic Assembly can extend its relationships to those who do not share our beliefs, and do it in a non destructive way. Past experience shows that extending understanding and open exchange is the correct path forward here."

If such locations or experiences were jarring to Caxia, they did not show it. This was a task that was expected of them, and they would execute it with all the professionalism expected of them. Their mechanical body, their suite of software supporting them, and their extensive networked abilities led to their feeling of inevitability. They were making the right choices, and they would be vindicated by the results.

Perhaps that inevitability was why they were assigned to work with Geiben here.
 

steinOS

New member
The wagon clicked audibly on the underside, its speed winding down to a level where it was able to come to a stop; hiding itself away under the shade of the building's ceiling. Having arrived through a brief tunnel, the magrail came about to a platform decorated in marble and red fabrics wrapped around pillars. On the other side of the walkway was a large mural relief carved into the wall, depicting the skyline of Chekhovsk as a shining beacon surrounded by a harsh landscape. A small greeting party was waiting at the platform - men in suits; Anatoly Ulyanov, Minister of Foreign Affairs on Kitezh - and his colleague, the Minister of Trade, Oleg Peregonsky. Peregonsky was a younger man in his late 30s, Ulyanov being in his mid-50s with apparent cranial augmentation, judging by faint angular lines appearing along his greying hairline. They were accompanied by a number of aides who were also dressed in smart clothing, waiting patiently.

With a hiss, the doors of the magrail parted and revealed that the interior of the Presidium was comfortably warm. Too warm for coats, but perfect for the likes of long-sleeve shirts.

"Exemplar Caxia, it is good to see you again. We trust the re-entry was not too harsh, our cyclone season can whip up quite a rollercoaster.", Ulyanov said in English with a stiff Russian accent, giving a small wave with a smile, his hand ready to shake as before when the two left the transport. These faces would be familiar to the high cyborg, the very same appearing in advance of the meeting at Olympus Mons. "We see someone new arrives on this occasion.", he continued with his gaze on Geiben.

Vasiliy and Volodar ventured out of the wagon in unison after Caxia and Geiben, after which the doors closed and the magrail continued to its next scheduled spot. They gave clean salutes to the Ministers, which were responded to with courteous nods.
 

Ray of Meep

Administrator
"Captain Geiben Folami of the Edward Deming." He politely smiled, offering his hand to Ulyanov. "I was tasked with participating in this diplomatic occasion on behalf of the Magnetic Assembly. As the carbon-based human element, as they said." He chuckled, joking in an attempt to warm up the atmosphere in this otherwise freezing environment. "Are you familiar with one Stein Kreiger? He works under my command as a field adviser. Very competent. I'm glad he could join us."
 

steinOS

New member
The Minister gave a laugh, shaking Geiben's hand generously. As it would happen, he would have been the first human affiliate that Ulyanov has met from the Magnetic Assembly. "It is a pleasure, Captain Folami - I am Anatoly Ulyanov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kitezhan CNS; this is my colleague in the field." Ulyanov directed an open palm to introduce the man slightly older than Geiben, who awaited their turn to receive the guests. "Minister of Trade, Oleg Peregonsky. Welcome to Kitezh, Captain Folami; Exemplar Caxia."

"It is good to hear that Stein is making us proud out there. I believe he is also on Kitezh at the moment - he and some others of your crew arrived to the surface a few days ago, to my knowledge.", Ulyanov responded. "Let us not delay, Comrade Ulyanov. Our guests must be eager to take a seat after exploring our transport systems.", Peregonsky mentioned, taking a step forward. "We have prepared a conference room for our discussions today - we hope you don't mind a few cameras? Our journalists have expressed an interest in reporting on this meeting." The Minister of Trade gestured deeper into the building with an open palm, inviting the diplomatic party to ascend the carpet covered marble staircase towards State Hall.
 

Uso

Moderator
Wiki Moderator
"We are prepared to be recorded," Caxia responded, their multitude of arms making small adjustments to her purple robe so that the runic white markings scattered across it would be visible without the impediment of folded cloth getting in the way. "Exemplar Wazu would vouch for the efficiency of Geiben, and has decided to place him in command of the Edward Deming." There was a slight feeling of needing to validate Geiben. He certainly didn't look like a High Cyborg. Unlike most of those who had come up from within the Assembly, Geiben was only human.

Caxia's arms would extend outward to each of the Soyuz representatives, offering the appropriate greetings.

"We would like to extend our appreciation for your assistance on Mars. I would like to officially relay vehicle and weapon schematics along with delivery of one of our Poundcake combat platforms with Buratino armament based on observations of platforms employed by your military. Consider the platform and the components within as your own."

Caxia would then engage in a multi-channel conversation, directional speakers inbuilt into their body focusing sound so that conversations could be had everyone at once.

"We also wish to deepen the relationship between our people, with the goal of ensuring our mutual independence." Caxia said, their words going directly to Anatoly.

At the same time, Caxia would converse directly to Oleg regarding trade, "While the great physical distance between our people makes trade difficult, we do hope to find value for you in information-based commodities."
 

steinOS

New member
Within the next few minutes, the party arrived at the conference room. Camera crews and journalists already waited outside the door, some have positioned their equipment inside the modest chamber - away from the desk, so as not to disturb the meeting proper. Some movement of chairs and customary photographs of handshakes later, the meeting was underway. The Ministers expressed intrigue in comparing the technical solutions the Assembly arrived at in regards to the Kitezhan climate, hoping to learn from their distant neighbours' approach and unique evolution. Schematics were readily received, arrangements made for the passing of the Poundcake Buratino into GRU hands. In return, the CCM offered designs of medical devices for the more human aspects of Hawking's population; and recipes of some unique manufacturing chemicals to streamline some aspects of production within the Assembly domain.

Ulyanov folded his hands on the desk, correcting himself in his chair after some 20 minutes of talks. "While a large step away from tradition in our foreign affairs, we would be willing to discuss an embassy initiative to cater to the great distance between our territories... It is our hope.. that..", the words seem to be interrupted by something, a scent that inspired distraction and concern. Smoke. One of the MP officers caught it, looking around and back to the door - the journalists whispered vaguely. Without warning, a blinding flash of light filled the eyes of all present - the wall to the left of the desk shattered into the room, detonating in the space of a blink; chunks of marbled rock and metallic grating peppered those who were sitting at the desk which was now in pieces against the opposite wall. A harsh frost brushed through the dusty scene as a portion of the roof collapsed, a small flurry of snow blowing in and settling on some of the journalists and broken camera equipment which lay under rubble. There was gunfire out in the hallway, but it seemed so far away as the ringing persisted in the ears of all other than Caxia - incomprehensible. In the confusion, the popping of gun barrels was comparable to the sound of coins falling and rolling along the ground one by one, or someone rattling the dishes in a kitchen; indeed to those exposed to the blast and still conscious, it was hard to tell which of these was genuine.

Ulyanov lay up against the wall in the opposite corner of the chamber, his face bloodied, fingers scraping across the dirty floor in an attempt to grab his shattered glasses. Oleg was unconscious, his leg disfigured by a large slab from the ruined wall. Some journalists were relatively unharmed, but nonetheless their faces and clothes covered by soot; it dirtied their hands as they tried to dig their colleagues up, those that were still living. A pair made a run for it, leaving the door only to be gunned down just outside of it by a party that approached from the lateral hallway.
 

Ray of Meep

Administrator
"Caxia, are you there?" Geiben pushed himself up, his vision still blurry. What the hell just happened? He put a hand to his forehead, feeling something warm and sticky. But he was still conscious, so it must've just been a glancing hit by shrapnel. As his vision cleared, he took stock of the situation. As much as he tried to deny it, reality settled in: they were under attack, and if the gunfire outside the room had to say anything, someone's coming to finish what they started.

Geiben's military instincts kicked in. He could only spare a moment to grieve for the dead MP laying there, before picking up his pistol. "Edward Deming," He spoke through his comms as calmly as he could. "This is Captain Folami. We're under attack by unknown forces. Send aid immediately. Track my coordinates." A ping would confirm his message was received; thank the stars for that. But until then...

He leveled his pistol at the door. "Caxia, I require combat assistance." He asked her as he took cover behind the nearest debris. The outside weather coming in threatened to freeze his blood vessels, but the adrenaline kept him warm and alive, for now.
 

Uso

Moderator
Wiki Moderator
"A Mo--nt plea-- Mr. Fo-" Caxia's head was spinning, both in a figurative sense as they tried to understand what was going on, and in a very literal sense as their head was a turret full of sensors that had just been damaged on one side. The software controlling Caixa's body had immediately started rotating that head so the remaining sensors could scan the room to provide a slightly-interrupted 360 view of their surroundings. Three of Caxia's arms that had been facing the door appeared damaged, with shards of material having embedded themselves in the surface of Caxia's body that had faced the explosion. It wouldn't take long for the damaged arms to be jettisoned, the remaining ring of 5 rotating around her body to create a more even distribution. One of their damaged legs would also need repairs, but that wasn't something Caxia could so easily eject as it was needed to maintain stability.

The life-support pod that made up the bulk of Caxia's body was also perforated, with some brownish-red goo leaking out of one of the holes.

A repair list had already been sent up to the Deming.

"You should leave through the back," Caxia stated, their speakers coming back online properly, and their sensors turning towards Geiben and lingering over him for a moment. He seemed mobile enough. Cold perhaps. Caxia would check the other members in the room as well. Their immobility made them easy targets if left behind, which would result in their deaths soon if these gunmen found them. Their deaths could push back relations with the Soyuz, so it seemed Caxia had no option but to get involved personally. Two of Caxia's arms would disengage her purple (and now slightly char'd) cloak before tossing it over Geiben in an attempt to keep him warm. "I require your weapon."
 

steinOS

New member
The gunfire continued, reaching a point where the muzzle flash could be seen somewhere to the right of the door to the conference room. In the next moment, the gunfire decreased in frequency - a blur of a man flashed in front of the opening as he ran past with an obvious gun belt strapped to himself. The noise seemed to follow him, drawing closer to the room before another number of people ran past in military clothing; the snapping of handguns ensued further in and out of sight - diffused by a metallic clank. A small silvery prism hit the corner of the doorframe, rolling into the room.

Light filled the chamber again with an ear piercing pop, rolling around in the heads of those who remained in the ruined space one way or another. A group of MP soldiers stormed in, taking crouched positions in the room with weapons trained and in the company of a load of Russian shouting with audible technical distortion. "Drop your weapon! Police! Put it down!", they demanded from Geiben aggressively. Mechanical blips and radio chatter emerged - "We've got him, Kapitan, two-two.", "One-one all perpetrators in corridor 8A, one still breathes in 7C, target losing blood - one-two?"

"Confirm.", a distorted voice sounded in the conference room. "Requesting medical teams from Izkhod Boulevard, we have injured." The captain, who looked almost identical to the other MP troopers save for 4 stars printed on his armor, raised his arm - the rest followed by lowering their weapons and moving in to support the wounded. "You are delegation from Hawking?", the captain asked in slightly broken English, approaching Geiben and Caxia.
 

Ray of Meep

Administrator
Geiben dropped the pistol in his hand immediately, bringing his hands up. "Yes, we are. We just sent messages to our ship requesting assistance." He explained plainly. He was burning was questions, but now was not the time. Instead, with his hands still up, he looked out at the exposed, cold and wintery sky. History was changing around him again, but this time, perhaps for the worse.
 
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