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SM: Preparations

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  • Anatol Rathbauer
    It is a miracle how life could at all develop on Talarn. The burning sun of Hoan kills off all life on the surface. Every plant, every animal is forced to
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 1, 2000
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      "It is a miracle how life could at all develop on Talarn. The burning sun of Hoan kills off all life on the surface. Every plant, every animal is forced to dwell subterranean. Still, it seems quite a few species were able to stand the test of time on this barren and hostile world. The subterranean plants which only blossom briefly in the one night after the single rain that occurs every Talarnian year, are consumed by small insectoid creatures, which are in turn hunted by the multiple predators of the local fauna. As far as we know, only 4 of the 23 known species on Talarn are vegetarian; the rest are all predators, from the small Kimi, beetle-sized mammals (!), to the nightmarish sandworms who haunt the endless deserts of the planet. To this day no less than four landing parties were lost to these up to 2 kilometer long monstrosities. As far as we know, there is no life beyond what we already discovered, although there may be some more species living in the scarce rests of the Ngooma mountain-chain. Most of it has been eroded by the sand and transformed into sand, but the "mountains" which are today not higher than 300 meters at most once must have been as grand as ours on Maranar."
       
      -Expedition log of Multi-purpose Scout "Gemmakikhen", examinating the life on Talarn, third planet of the Hoan system.
      4406 MTS
       
      *****
       
      "Checking inlay coordiantes... got a discretion of four degrees here... convenant required!"
       
      Commander Bilim let out a muffled sigh. For weeks he had put up with the scientists, the technicians, the marines, the High-Rank Officers and even the Asman-cursed aliens. But, slowly yet steadily, he was getting sick of them. Just a few months ago he had just owned a nice trans-solar transport, a model of the "Gargant" row, the second-largest civilian FTL-ship available. He had made his living shipping supplies to the larger military vessels deep in Community space. Until four months ago his superiors from the Ministry of Infrastructure had told him there was a new job for him. His payment would be doubled, since it was a highly confidential government project. His integrity was unquestioned due to years of service for the ministry, and the money was a big incentive, so he agreed. Then the trouble began.
       
      First his ship was invaded by the technicians, who tore out virtually every single cable they found, reconfigured the reactor, and generally hacked his fine vessel to pieces. Then came the High-Rank Officers to over see the work. That was the time when the long-range communication device of the ship had been disabled and he, the Commander had been forbidden to leave his ship. Next they brought the alien devices in, the whole equipment, and installed it. "They" meant the aliens, the Mixighins. The alien technicians were needed to keep the equipment running, and served as instructors for their Maran counterparts. Finally a few dozen scientists and a brigade of marines had been transferred to the transport. Two cruisers and several destroyers had been put to their escort. And their prison guards.
       
      Bilim was brought back from his thoughts by the thrown in remark of a Mixighin. "Try to synchronise the levels of adrenacine in the two elemental mixing-bays. That should help to speed up the levelling."
       
      The Maran did as told and announced: "Discretion 3.98 degrees and falling... looks good! Thank you!"
       
      Of course the alien only nodded. Bilim wondered why none of the Mixighin had ever smiled since they were aboard, let alone let out a laugh. They obviously tried everything to remain within the borders of politeness, but the Commander couldn't help but feel they thought better of themselves than of the Maran. He eyed the large viewscreen in front of him. Below them hovered one of the destroyers, while the whole background was filled by the image of Talarn, the desert planet. Three beams were emanating from the ship towards it and the Commander knew that dozens of probes and satellites were manipulating the celestial body from the atmosphere and the surface as well. Although he was by no means an expert, he admired the Mixighin terraforming equipment; they were lifting the amounts of oxygen of the world to a level that allowed at least hard breathing for Maran, while at the same time trying to generate a cloud-cover that would allow approximately seven days of rain and cool down the planet by 3-4 degrees Celsius. With Maran technology this process would have taken over a hundred years. The Mixighins would do it in less than one year.
       
      "Sir?" asked someone from behind. Bilim turned around and saw a Mixighin. He wasn't surprised, as the "sir" had denounced him; no Maran ever said "sir" to someone below a Council-member. Apparently Omnet's universal translator had some difficulties with finding a proper counterpart for the common "sir" of other cultures.
       
      "We are now ready to launch the third spin-tromatograph, with your permission."
       
      "The what...?" barked Bilim. Seeing the desperate face of the alien, who obviously dreaded having to explain to the civilian what a spin-tromatograph was, changed his mind.
       
      "By Asman, launch the damn thing, whatever it is!"
       
      The man nodded and signaled to one of the Maran scientists, who activated a console and gave out orders to a few technicians. On the viewscreen Bilim shortly noticed a shuttle-sized probe racing by from somewhere under the ship and into the planet's atmosphere. Suddenly a chirping noise interrupted the bridge crew. "Sensor alert!" reported a Maran from the Ops station, one of the few who had already belonged to Bilim's crew before the current assignment. "Small vessel, approaching at high speed... Terchan pirate, Commander!"
       
      Bilim nodded. The pirates were dying to find out what they were doing. In quite a literal sense. Ordering the image on the viewscreen to be changed into a tactical view of the system, he saw the small red dot symbolizing the pirate. A larger, blue dot went on an intercepting course. One of the destroyers, Bilim noted absently. The two ships came ever closer to each other, and from one moment to the next the smaller one tried to carry out an evasive maneuver. While it forced its hull to swing into a 120 degree curve, the destroyer's weaponbanks fired away at it. The small ship was pulverized in an instant.
       
      "They still think the military's hailing them before attacking like back at home. Poor sods!" the Commander explained. The image on the viewscreen switched back to the mind-numbing, yellow-orange disk of Talarn, and the bridge crew continued its work.
       
      "Getting data from probe 26... stability ratings of the NB-acids sinking too fast in sector 45..."
       
      Commander Bilim wished he had been in that pirate vessel.
       
      written by Anatol Rathbauer
    • Frank Vittoe
      Rowen Arachnia had just finished speaking with Archean Emperor Shadrach Farfel Marcello. She had, in a seemingly meaningless gesture, waved her hand in front
      Message 2 of 2 , May 4, 2003
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        Rowen Arachnia had just finished speaking with Archean Emperor Shadrach
        Farfel Marcello. She had, in a seemingly meaningless gesture, waved her
        hand in front of her face, as if brushing away a stray lock of her lustrous
        silver hair, and her and the Emperor were taking their first steps back into
        the main conference hall.

        Rowen's gesture was not meaningless. It was the somatic component of a
        clerical spell combined with use of Rowen's psychic abilities. If the
        Archean monarch were observant, he might have noticed Rowen's step slightly
        less energetic. In the Selesthian Q~Dex, with her Q~DED inactive, Rowen's
        action took quite alot out of her, but she could hide it well.

        Rowen's thoughts reached Solara of House Arachnia, a commoner dr'owe
        preistess who had been waiting for just such contact, aboard Black Widow
        Station. Rowen's thoughts were short and clipped, limited by the Selesthian
        Q~Dex. "Osharu, Commander-in-chief, Brenna, Miriana to Selesthian
        Protectorate...Prepare the Selesthian"

        Solara smiled. Truly she hated being Matron Rowen's yes~girl, but doing so
        provide her with an oppurtunity to become a Noble By Blood. Yes she was
        considered a lower ranking noble of House Arachnia, but she had nowhere near
        the power and influence she would have if she bore Arachnia as her surname.
        And so she would continue in her role. She had no time to answer
        telepathically the First Matron, and was unsure if she even could. Solara
        spat in disgust at the debilitating effects this Q~Dex had on a Dr'owe
        Preistess. A simple act of telepathic communication became next to
        impossible here. The preistess then went about her duties, first contacting
        Brenna Arachnia. She established a secure channel, then sent her message.
        A moment later the face of Brenna Arachnia appeared on her screen.

        "What, Solara, do you want? It is dinnertime here, and the Listhani humans
        are excellent chefs. You interrupted my enjoyment of a wonderful spiced,
        stuffed mushroom dish!"

        Solara, knowing that Brenna was trying to bait her into arguing with a
        superior, remained calm. "Not I, Fleet High Preistess, your mother, our
        Matron."

        That statement took much of the bluster out of Brenna's attitude. "What
        does she wish?"

        "That you come immediately to the Selesthian Protectorate. You are to serve
        as one of the military aides to the supreme commander of the Trinity
        Alliance military."

        Brenna asked, "And who is the Supreme Commander going to be? I'd wager
        either my mother or my sister Miriana."

        Solara allowed herself a chuckle as she replied, "You would lose that bet,
        High Preistess. ArSha'Stari Osharu is to command the Trinity Alliance
        forces. Apparently Matron Rowen feels it best to have a Selesthian
        commanding the forces, since it is the Selesthian Q~Dex that the K'tan
        currently threaten. Further, the Archeans might not like following the
        orders of a Dr'owe Elf."

        Brenna was quiet a moment then replied, "A wise move. Is the Selesthian
        going to be properly prepared?"

        "After I call Miriana, I am to see to it that he is. He will be made a
        Noble By Blood, by order of the First Matron herself, and his loyalty to the
        Spider Queen Theocracy will be assured."

        "Very well. I will leave for the protectorate within the hour."

        "High Preistess, the Matron commands that you make all speed. Farewell, in
        The Name of The Spider Queen and of House Arachnia."

        "Farewell, Preistess Solara, in The Spider Queen's Name, and that of our
        House."

        ********

        Miriana Arachnia was asleep in her cabin aboard Tarantula Omega 9 Charlie 6
        when her intercom beeped loudly. Irritated at being awoken, she slammed the
        button and snapped, "What in the Queen's Dark Abyss is it?!?!"

        "Top secret communication from Black Widow Station, Fleet High Preistess,
        for your eyes only." came the reply.

        "Put it through." When the channel was connected, she said, "This is Fleet
        High Preistess Miriana Arachnia...go ahead."

        "Greetings in the Name of the Spider Queen, Fleet High Preistess. This is
        Preistess Solara Levir of House Arachnia."

        Miriana growled, "Skip the formalities and tell me why you woke me up!"

        "Matron Rowen has ordered that you come to the Selesthian Protectorate
        immediately. You are to be one of the advisors to the Commander~In~Chief of
        the Trinity Alliance military."

        Miriana's reaction was quite similar to her sisters. "Who is the
        Commander~In~Chief, and his other adivsors?"

        Solara replied, "ArSha'Stari Osharu is to be the commander, and his other
        advisor is your sister, Brenna Arachnia."

        Miriana blinked. "A Selesthian? I'll not spin silk for a Selesthian dog!"

        "He is to be a Noble~By~Blood of House Arachnia, the first Selesthian ever
        to achieve such an honor...and there are other ways to insure his
        loyalty...besides, you know it will truly be you and Brenna who are pulling
        the strings of the Selesthian puppet."

        "Indeed" Miriana said. "Ever the cunning one is my mother. My Tarantula
        will begin the journey immediately."

        "No, Matron Rowen commands you here with all possible speed. You must take
        a Black Widow or a Stealth Spider." Solara said.

        "Fine...I will leave within the hour. Miriana out." The channel was
        broken, and Miriana checked the security log of the communication. It
        appeared nothing was amiss. She, like Brenna, prepared for a quick
        departure.

        ********

        Back in The Selesthian Protectorate of The Spider Queen Theocracy, Solara
        Levir of House Arachnia and a group of eight Dr'owe fighter~wizards made
        their way to the home of Osharu. They knocked on the door of the large
        estate, Solara stating, "Open the door in The Name of The Spider Queen."

        A rather diminutive Selesthian answered, "Yes, mistress...what can I do for
        you?"

        "We have come to speak to Osharu" Solara stated.

        The Selesthian servant tsked. "ArSha'Stari Osharu will be with you in just
        a moment." he said, placing emphasis on Osharu's title. "Do come in."

        The group went into the foyer and waited. Moments later the Selesthian
        ArSha'Stari appeared and asked, "To what, Preistess, do I owe this honor?"

        "You will come with us, Osharu. You are to be given a great honor and
        responsibility, by order of The First Matron. We are to be your escorts."

        Osharu's friendly smile changed quickly into a frown. "At what price does
        this honor come, Preistess?"

        "Ever a suspicious lot, you Selesthians are." Solara replied.

        "The way I see it, we have reason to be. Your people tricked us somehow
        into easily handing our fate to your Council of Eight. The threat might
        have been real at the time, but I've no doubt it was the SQT what created
        that threat."

        Solara rounded on the Selesthian, her teeth bared in a wicked snarl. "Watch
        your tongue, Selesthian! Such accusations can get you killed, or worse!
        Now, let's go!" The eight Dr'owe Solara had brought along with her formed a
        protective circle around Osharu, and the group left, headed toward a temple
        to The Spider Queen, one that Solara had reserved for her use.

        The group dispersed into the waiting pews while Solara ushered Osharu up in
        front of the altar, a beautiful, yet frightening thing, sculpted of pure
        obsidian, the likeness of a Dr'owe woman, sensual, yet disquieting. Osharu
        was struck with the thought that this sculpture was the epitome of elven
        beauty, compelling him to his knees to beg for the attention of this Dark
        Elven goddess. Solara smiled. "That's right. Kneel before the Spider
        Queen." She then began a prayer, in the Dr'owe tongue. "Mistress of the
        Dr'owe, Liberator of The Dark Elves, Spider Queen, we come before you to ask
        your blessing on this Selesthian. He is to be accepted into the House of
        Arachnia, a Noble~By~Blood, given the name of Arachnia and all the rights
        and priveleges that accompany it. He is not Dr'owe, but he and his people
        belong to the Dr'owe, and we wish only your blessing as we bring them to you
        to increase your power in the universe. Grant us thy approval as we use
        this Selesthian to ensure continued loyalty of his people."

        Immediately as Solara finished, a rush of spiders crawled seemingly from
        nowhere, covering the statue of The Spider Queen, and Solara and her
        Selesthian companion. "Don't move, or you will die...this is a test of
        faith." Moments later the spiders disappeared, leaving a very shaken Osharu
        and a pleased Solara.

        "You might consider warning me next time you wish to 'test my faith',
        Preistess."

        Solara laughed. "My dear Osharu, if I warned you, it wouldn't be a test,
        now would it. Now, kneel before me." Osharu looked at her, a look of pride
        as strong as steel. Solara signaled, and two dr'owe acolyte preistesses
        came, grabbed Osharu by the shoulders and forced him to his knees, holding
        him there. "It is symbolic that you kneel before a superior, Selesthian
        commoner. You kneel as one who is unworthy to stand in the presence of a
        Noble Dr'owe Preistess. But, by Order of Rowen Arachnia, Matron of House
        Arachnia, you are given the name Arachnia, and are bound by ties of blood to
        House Arachnia. You will be a Noble. You kneel before your betters, who
        give to you the right to stand side by side with them as an equal. You
        kneel as ArSha'Stari Osharu, but you rise as ArSha'Stari Osharu Arachnia,
        Noble of House Arachnia, related by blood to the Matron of The House."
        Osharu was allowed to rise, and Solara handed him a small medal bearing
        House Arachnia's emblem. "This is magical, but it's effects are limited by
        this Q~Dex. Here, the only power that will function is the summoning. If
        ever this medal grows warm, you are to report in the most expedient manner
        possible to Matron Rowen, your Matron and head of your house. I must also
        tell you, Osharu Arachnia, that, at least in name, you are now my better. I
        am merely a Noble. You are a Noble~By~Blood, directly related to House
        Arachnia. However, you're still a male, and I am a female, and thus, I know
        best."

        Osharu snickered. "I never understood that. Just because you're a woman
        makes you better than males?"

        "It is the way it is. As the Spider Queen is a woman, and better than every
        one of every race, so female Dr'owe are better than their male peers. Now,
        are you curious why you were made a Noble of House Arachnia, an honor no
        other Selesthian could ever hope for?"

        Osharu nodded, and Solara continued. "You are to be the Supreme Commander
        of The Trinity Alliance military coalition, brought together by the threat
        of invasion by the K'tan. It is your responsibility to muster the old
        Selesthian Military to our cause, rearm as many Astori warships as you can,
        and to keep every bit of your efforts secret, spoken of only to Matron Rowen
        herself. You can contact her with your House Emblem. You are given this
        responsibility because we feel that, since this is, ultimately the Q~Dex of
        your people, you know best how to defend it. You will have the best
        advisors the SQT can offer, daughters of Rowen Arachnia herself, Brenna and
        Miriana Arachnia, Fleet High Priestesses."

        "Are they there to aid me, or ensure that I don't betray the SQT?"

        Solara smiled. "They don't need to ensure against treachery on your part."
        At the sound of Solara's ensuing laugh, the acolytes once again forced
        Osharu to his knees, this time quite roughly, using clerical magic to keep
        him down. Solara walked to the altar, bowed before the likeness of the
        dr'owe goddess, and lifted a silver plate, and walked back to Osharu
        Arachnia. Osharu stared, fear in his proud eyes, at the object on the
        plate. It was a green spider, perhaps four inches in diameter, mottled with
        brown spots. "What is this?" Osharu asked in a shaky voice. "Another
        gift?"

        Solara smiled wickedly. "You might say that. Hold him!" she commanded the
        acolytes, who were already replying. "This gift has been given to many
        Selesthians already, in secret. It's a genetic modification to a species
        native to this Q~Dex, and it levels here perfectly. It enjoys a somewhat
        parasitic relationship with it's host. But fear not, it needs but little in
        the way of nourishment. However, it has been engineered to cause the host
        to recognize Dr'owe elves as superior, and, unless the host is ordered to by
        another Dr'owe elf, to cause intense pain at even the thought of harming or
        betraying a Dr'owe. Don't worry, Osharu, the pain will only last a few
        minutes." Solara snickered as she placed the green spider on the ground
        behind the Selesthian. The spider sensed it's new host, and slowly crawled
        up Osharu's back, it's barbed legs digging into his skin. Osharu flinched
        involuntarily. If Selesthians could sweat, his perspiration might have
        filled buckets. Finally the spider reached his upper back, it's torso right
        over the Selesthian's spine. The spider seemed to shudder, and it's eight
        legs begin digging into Osharu's flesh, searching for his central nervous
        system's main branch. The pain seemed to last an eternity, and Osharu
        couldn't help but scream. Solara smiled. She was supposed to have done
        this first, and then rewarded the Selesthian with the rank of
        Noble~By~Blood, but she delighted in raising him up only to knock him down.
        She took a wicked pleasure in humiliating this Selesthian male, who was
        being given something she, a Dr'owe female, hungered for. Drops of sappy
        blood appeared at the eight points the spider's legs had punctured on
        Osharu's back, dripping slowly down to the floor. Finally it ended, the
        spider's legs sunk fully into the Selesthian, securing it the the central
        nervous system. Osharu breathed deeply in a sigh of relief. But his
        reprieve was short, for the spider's fangs then bit into the base of his
        neck, injecting a caustic venom. A sensation, as if his entire body were on
        fire, flowed through Osharu. He screamed again, louder than before. The
        venom flowed through his sappy blood, saturating his body, and more
        importantly, his nerves. The pain, the searing, burning pain seemed to be
        heightened by the laughter of the the Dr'owe in the chapel, Solara's eight
        fighter~wizards, the two acolytes, and loudest of all, Solara herself.
        Minutes later, the pain ended, and Osharu sank into the blackness of
        oblivion. Solara immediately bent down and cast a healing spell on him.
        Luckily he woke up. This process was risky. Roughly ten percent of the
        Selesthians that had been subject to it had not survived. The Selesthian
        glanced around, and smiled, knowing that these Dr'owe, his friends, would
        protect him. Solara helped him to his feet. "Noble Dr'owe do not often
        display their House Emblem openly, lest it invite attack from Nobles of
        another House. Keep it hidden in the pocket of this." She handed him a
        black, silk cloak, which Osharu draped on his shoulders and put the hood up.
        "This cloak alone will signify you as a noble simply because of it's
        quality. Most commoners can't afford such a cloak. Were we in the SQT, it
        would have many magical properties, but here, it will simply aid you in
        staying quiet and hidden should the need arise. It will also help to coneal
        the friend you now carry with you. Wear it proudly, Supreme Commander."
        Solara said, addressing Osharu with a measure of respect now. "You are to
        report immediately to Matron Rowen. Your House Emblem will allow you to
        garner whatever funds you need to get passage to the Ring Complex." Osharu
        nodded, and left. Solara smiled. Matron Rowen would be pleased, she
        thought to herself.

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