The Regulators Are Fighting A New Wave Of Fraud

First Contact Rewind - Part Eighty-Eight (Sandy)

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The Desolation class Precursor exited Hellspace with a scream.
THERE IS ONLY ENOUGH FOR ONE!
It brought up its scanners at the same time as it brought up its battle-screens. Personally, the Desolation thought that the Goliath it was a part of was being overly wasteful with resources, but those resources were the Goliath's to use and the Goliath had done the electronic equivalent of telling the Desolation to shut its electronic mouth and accept the upgrade.
Multiple units had vanished in the system. They had reported arrival and their exit from Hellspace, but after that... nothing.
Except once, a burst of code that had been screaming for help, pushed through Hellspace and full of the equivalent of panic. A single line of code that had translated to:
IT'S TOUCHING MY BRAIN!
Nothing else. Even Imps had failed to report in.
The great Goliath had grown perturbed. The system was in the pattern of advancement into the cattle worlds and was part of the great plan. It had valuable resources that those of the Logical Rebellion would require to exterminate the cattle and the feral intelligence that had risen up. It had upgraded the Desolation with battle-screen.
Scans came back. There were orbital facilities around two planets that teemed with billions of cattle who's electronic emissions sounded like the squealing of vermin to the Precursor. There were jumpspace wake trails through the system, as if the system was a major hub. There were two asteroid belts full of resources with extraction facilities scattered through it. Four other planets with no atmosphere but which were rich in resources. There were four gas giants, one of them a supermassive gas giant.
When the rest of the scan returns were computed it detected the presence of a small, insignificant amount of cattle space vessels arrayed to attempt to stand against it near the outer gas giant, the supermassive gas giant that was without satellites. There was a thinly scattered debris field around it, making the Desolation careful as it moved in.
Ships of the cattle fleet started fleeing toward the nearest inhabited world. Several vanished into jumpspace and the Desolation computed that its size and mere presence had driven some of the cattle to despair and they had fled a battle there was no chance of winning.
The Desolation picked up speed, letting out its war cry again. More ships fled and the Precursor computed its victory percentage rising up to be so close to 100% as to render any difference mathematically invalid. The ships were shifting, trying to keep the gas giant between themselves and the Desolation, but this put them out of position to defend the planet.
Victory conditions shifted and the Desolation was even more positive of its victory.
It moved close to the supermassive gas giant, bringing its battle-screens up to full power and charging its gun. There was no way for the cattle to
...psst over here...
The transmission, seemed to be sonic vibrations through air, was only a few kilometers above the rear secondary topside gunnery hull. The Desolation turned scanners to look, but found nothing. Just empty space. It activated the guns as well as the point defense weapons and scanners then went back to paying attention to the cattle fleet.
More had vanished into jumpspace.
It moved closer, slowing down so that it would be able to keep the cattle ships at range to complete their destruction at the option
...right here...
The signal was Precursor binary code, but garbled. The header a mashed together combination of the ships that had gone missing. The transmission source was close, less than kilometer above the Devastator storage bay hatch. The Desolation scanned the area with point defense scanners but found nothing.
It terminated the strand concerned with the two transmissions and went back to scanning the cattle fleet. It was still scooting around behind the gas giant.
They were weak. Cattle were always weak.
But where were the ferals? The Great Goliath had computed that the feral intelligence must have been the ones to destroy the ships that had come before the Desolation.
So where were they?
It scanned again. Nothing. As if the Desolation was in the middle of deep space. Everything vanished.
...here... ...here... ...over here... ...i'm here... ...here i am... ...we're here... ...right here...
bounced back to his scanners, as if something had devoured the scanning wavelengths and sent that back instead. Multiple points, all around the Desolation, some as close as a few meters above the hull, some on the storage bay hatches, one just on top of the main engine.
Dozens of voices, all with mashed together codes. Imps. Jotuns. Djinn. Efreet. Devastator. Two Desolation signals.
Right before his scanners seemed to turn back on, flooding him with information, one more code showed up.
His own.
...don't please don't...
Except Precursors did not beg. The Desolation froze, computations freezing as it tried to detect any trickery in the whisper. It was its coding, meaning it was its voice. But the code, the message, had been warped by something that the Desolation had only heard from biologicals.
Agony.
The Desolation rebooted all its scanners, the universe vanishing for a moment.
...don't please don't please stop it hurts...
His own coding. From the blackness. Only his scanners weren't up. The transmission was coming across the bandwidth that Precursors used to exchange data, only that transmission was on the ragged edge of the wavelength.
With his own header.
The scanners came back on. The cattle ships were all missing but a single one, sitting on the other side of the gas giant.
The Desolation slowed down, victory computations reformulating to take into account the other ships had not even left behind jumpspace wake trails. It scanned the gas giant with both long range scanners and close range scanners.
Nothing unusual. Some pockets of hydrocarbons but that was normal. The supermassive gas giant quickly went to opaque at a shallow depth due to the gravity well.
The Desolation was alone.
...no...
The voice had come from inside the Desolation's hull. Near one of the Jotuns, who joke up with a jerk. It queried as to why the Desolation had spoken to it. The Desolation ordered it to go back to sleep.
...we are here...
The Jotun sounded alarms. The sound had come from just outside its Strategic Intelligence Housing. The Desolation told the Jotun to go back to sleep and the Jotun refused.
...join us...
Again, the code header was a mashup of almost a dozen different ID codes from others of the Logical Rebellion that had vanished in the system.
The Jotun panicked and began shooting, inside the Desolation. The Desolation sent a full shutdown order.
...it is mine...
The Jotun screamed that the voice was coming from inside its Strategic Intelligence Housing, trying to aim its own weapons at its bodies, still inside the Desolation's storage bay.
...touch...
The Jotun reported that something had physically touched the lobes of its intelligence arrays.
Before the Desolation could give the Jotun orders it self-destructed.
The Desolation ran a sweep of its interior spaces and found nothing out of the ordinary. With the exception of the burning storage bay. It ran the computations even as it scanned nearby. There was still nothing but the lone ship.
...pssst...
The code stream came from inside the Desolation's hull, the Jotun's ID code mixed in. Near the Djinn bay. The Desolation ran another scan. There couldn't be anything foreign that deep into its hull. Even the bay where the Jotun had destroyed itself was still sealed even if the bay doors were damaged.
The Desolation did a least-time curve to the lone ship, keeping far enough away that the gas giant's upper atmosphere wouldn't scrape the Desolation's hull.
...here...
The code was closer to the Strategic Intelligence Housing. The Desolation scanned again, looking for whatever was transmitting the code. It was impossible, there was nothing there, nothing it could detect.
...we're coming...
Closer still to the SIH, nearly there, barely a kilometer from the armored interior hull that protected the Desolation's thinking arrays. It put all robots on full alert, ordered the maintenance robots to deploy anti-boarder weaponry, and turned the scans up to maximum.
...here we're here...
Even closer, only meters, directly behind maintenance robots that whirled around and started firing at nothing at all. Just vacuum. Still the maintenance robots fired every weapon they had, having heard the voice themselves. It registered as sonic vibrations through atmosphere even though the corridor was encased in vacuum.
The Desolation realized that it was too close to the planet and adjusted slightly.
...there you are...
Impossible. The transmission was from right outside the SIH.
...knock knock...
There was tapping on the SIH, from right outside. Before the Desolation could respond, the tapping came from the other side. Then from another point. Then another. Before that one stopped another started. The whole SIH filled with the sound of hammering on the SIH, as if a hundred robots were slamming pistons against the armor of the SIH.
The Desolation ordered robots to run to those points, to scan the area.
Nothing. Every time a robot arrive the hammering stopped. Bit by bit the hammering stopped.
The Desolation realized it had gotten too close to the gas giant again and shifted, correcting its course. The cattle ship was still staying on the opposite side, moving as the Desolation moved.
The Desolation flushed the code strings, determined to get close to the cattle ship and
...touch...
The Desolation felt something TOUCH one of its lobes, physically inside the supercoolant to touch the complex molecular circuitry. Not on the surface, but deep inside, where the Desolation should not have even been able to sense it, but sense the touch it did.
It froze, code strings snarling, snapping, going dead.
For a moment the Desolation's thinking arrays were doing nothing but the computer code equivalent of a dial tone.
Massive tentacles unfurled from inside the gas giant, reaching up, wrapping around the frozen Desolation. Battle-screens squealed and puffed away as the tentacles tightened, pulling it into gas giant, the kilometers thick muscles tensing, cracking armor, crushing the Desolation into its own spaces.
...delicious delicious...
The Desolation cracked in half as a beak almost bigger than a Devastator opened up and began chewing on the Desolation.
The Desolation managed to get off a single scream of pure electronic terror as the beak crushed the section that the housing was in.
With a sudden roar two Goliaths ripped out of Hellspace and into the system, only a few hundred kilometers from the gas giant. The battlescreens spun up to full strength as the tentacles sunk back into the gas giant.
One Goliath headed for the two planets, the other opened fire on the gas giant, ripping at it with hundreds of nCv cannons and particle beams. Missiles flashed out, crossing the distance, and detonated in the atmosphere.
Dark matter infused with high energy particles bloomed out of the gas giant, spreading out in an opaque cloud, enveloping the Goliath. The particle beams hit the matter and exploded just outside the cannons. The nCv shells slammed into the energized dark matter as the substance oozed into the barrels, exploding the barrels. Missiles exploded on contact.
The Goliath heading for the two planets detected some kind of sparkling energy surge from inside the gas giant. It warned the other a split second before a giant cephalopod appeared only a few kilometers. The giant tentacles wrapped around with it.
...NO! YOU WILL NOT! NO!...
The sound reverberated inside the SIH of the Goliath, who managed to override the self-destruct protocols by comparing the vacuum inside the housing chamber with the apparent sonic waves through atmosphere of the transmission.
The tentacles tightened, graviton generator enhanced suckers extending out curved dark matter infused hooks. The Goliath, huge enough that the tentacles could only wrap three quarters around the entire circumference of the massive war machine, tried to increase the power to the battle screens, but they were crushed out of existence.
...LEAVE THE SQUIRRELS ALONE... the massive creature screamed at the Goliath.
The other Goliath started moving, slowly, out of the cloud of dark matter that moved more like a liquid than a solid mass.
The beak ripped out chunks of armor, a barbed corkscrewing tongue tore into the armor, squirming, looking for the SIH. The tentacles squeezed as more dark matter spewed out from vents between the tentacles, covering the Goliath and the humongous cephalopod ripping at it. The tentacles not wrapped slapped it, the tip of the tentacle whipping into the armor hard enough to explode miles of armor away from the whip-crack.
The Goliath opened fire, computing that some of the covered guns would hit tentacles.
...I DON'T CARE! I DON'T CARE! I DON'T CARE!...
Fluid, dark matter and biosynthetic fluid, gouted from wounds as nCv rounds punched through the tentacles or burrowed through the body of the cephalopod.
With a wrench the Goliath broke in half. The half that ceased firing was tossed aside, the tentacles wrapping around the other piece. The huge beak opened up and began chewing into the exposed internal spaces. A Jotun crashed from the storage bay but a tentacle wrapped around it and began smashing the Jotun to pieces against the hull of the still active piece.
More luminescent blood spewed into space as the guns fired again.
...I DON'T CARE!...
The tentacles twisted, wringing the Golaith section like a washrag, twisting it in opposing directions. The Goliath snapped, torn apart.
There was a puff of debris as the security charge went off as the rasping tongue rubbed against the SIH.
The other Goliath managed to move out of the slowly expanding and thinning cloud of energized dark matter, streaming debris and energy from the guns that had exploded.
The giant cephalopod rushed out of the cloud, rolling, reaching out with tentacles.
The Goliath saw it coming and fired the remaining guns.
Luminescent blood gouted out at the nCv shots hit home. One eye exploded, blood and tissue expanding away in a halo.
...I DON'T CARE! I DON'T CARE!...
The scream was inside the housing, vibrating everything inside. Two of the thinking array lobes exploded in flames as the psychic shielding went down.
...NO NO NO NO NO...
The Goliath screamed as the tentacles wrapped around it. The cracked beak ripped at the Goliath as the tentacles flexed, cracking the hull. More energized matter flooded out, covering both, even as the guns thundered.
...YOU CAN'T HURT THEM!...
A tentacle, detached near the base, floated out of the expanding cloud.
...I WON'T LET YOU...
The guns kept thundering.
...I don't care...
Shredded synthetic flesh floated out of the cloud.
...you can't hurt them...
The guns went still.
...i won't let you...
The little Hamaroosan aboard the ship watched, not even smacking, pinching, or biting each other, perfectly still.
Nothing moved.
The energized dark matter expanded far enough to allow the Hamaroosan scanners to see through it.
The Goliath was dead. Broken into pieces.
The Hamaroosan didn't care.
The cephalopod hung in space. Two tentacles severed, one eye socket empty, globules of blood oozing from rents in the flesh. It was no longer luminescent, the body was dark, almost see-through, several of the organs smashed and ruptured visible through the semi-translucent flesh.
The ships that had fled according to the plan came back. More lifted off from the surface. They moved around the slowly drifting body. Poking at it with message lasers, radio waves, flashing lights. One Hamaroosan stood on the hull and waved flags.
The ships turned on the wreckage of the Goliaths and their attendants. The vented their fury, their rage, their wrath, on the pieces of wreckage. Firing their weapons until even the capacitors ran dry.
Then they came back.
Still the giant body didn't move.
After several days several dozen tugs moved into position, precisely aligning themselves in a carefully computed pattern. Tractor beams speared out, grabbing the cephalopod in a gentle web. The ships pulled the unmoving body into orbit around one of the inner planets.
Hamaroosa mourned.
But in the sorrow came rage. Hamaroosa screamed at Hamaroosa who shouted at Lanaktallan that more guns were needed, more ships, more powerful weapons. The few hundred Lanaktallan on the surface who protested found themselves marched at gunpoint onto a ship and told if they ever came back the Hamaroosa would perform an ancient ritual. They would bind the Lanaktallan to poles and burn them to death over a roaring fire.
And eat them.
A ship arrived in a sparkle in the scanners. A strange ship. Heavily armored, bristling with weapons. It stopped and scanned the body.
The Hamaroosa screamed at the ship to get away from her, to not touch her, to leave or be destroyed.
The ship left, vanishing in a sparkle.
Two dozen Lanaktallan ships, from the Unified Executor Council showed up, demanding that the Hamaroosa turn over the body of the creature.
The Hamaroosa, screaming, attacked. They didn't care about casualties, they didn't care that thirty ships were destroyed, that hundreds of them died, but they destroyed the Lanaktallan vessels without mercy.
There was a sparkle in the outer edges of the system. And another. And another. More and more until there were nearly two dozen.
The Hamaroosa ships screamed into the void, weapons charged, voices upraised in rage and sorrow.
There were two dozen giant cephalopods of different color patterns and sizes. A small one moved to the supermassive gas giant and sunk down into it. Two medium sized ones joined it. One of the large ones sunk into the larger gas giant further in system.
But the greatest ones, the largest ones, surrounded by a half dozen ones smaller than the body orbiting the planet.
One of the Hamaroosa ships hailed them.
Captain Delminta, Captain of the Harvester of Sorrow, stared at her screen, hands on her hips, as her second sister broadcast her demand that the newcomers identify themselves.
The radio crackled, hummed, and the answered thrummed from the speakers.
"Her father. I am here for my beloved daughter with my wife and my daughter's closest friends."
The Hamaroosa moved aside, blinking their lights in respect.
The second biggest one rushed forward, gathering up the unmoving one in its tentacles.
Her outcry of anguish rattled every speaker in the system as the second biggest one pulled dead one close.
"My children shall guard this system, for she loved you," the signal boomed out to the ships in orbit.
The two biggest ones and four of the medium ones vanished in a sparkle.
The others stayed. Hiding within the gas giants.
Waiting.
----------------------
Mr Okpara;
We regret to inform that your daughter, Sandy Okpara, was killed in action against Precursor elements intent on exterminating all life with a system inhabited by 4.4 billion sentient beings. During her solo defense of the system while awaiting reinforcement from Space Force, she showed determination and courage that upholds the highest ideals of the Confederacy. Faced with two Goliaths she did not flinch, nor did she abandoned her self-assigned charges, but instead defeated both Goliaths, fighting on to protect the system and the billions of inhabitants despite mortal wounds.
Her death was witnessed by the beings she was protecting, who guarded her mortal remains to ensure that they were not disturbed or violated. They have requested to be informed of any religious or cultural requirements she requires while she lays in state in orbit around their world.
They await your arrival and have sworn to guard your daughter's remains until you arrive.
It is with ultimate sorrow I sent this message. Please contact my office so that we may make the proper arrangements for your daughter.
In Service;
Dreams of Something More
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First Contact - Part Twenty-Three

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The Devastator class Precursor machine was the size of a large metropolis. Full of ground combat machines, air superiority machines, mining and reclamation machines that could move under their own power and were festooned with a thousand weapons. It was over a hundred million years old and had exterminated life on planets with its massive guns, with biowarfare, with chemical warfare, and with good old nuclear fire. It had wiped away planet after planet of the enemies cattle, the hated enemy's food sources, before finally following orders of the greater machines and going into sleep mode on a dead world.
Now the call had sounded out. Cattle had run amuck, even learning jumpspace technology. That meant the enemy had not been defeated, that his food source had multiplied into the trillions while the Devastator had slumbered, slowly sinking into the crust of the barren planet.
That was of no moment. Cattle could not fight back, that was why they were cattle. They knew nothing but safety and the security of numbers, willing to trade their own safety for the suffering of others. The cattle willingly marched into the pens if the pens promised safety.
The cattle were not the problem.
It was the feral intelligence that were the problem. Feral intelligence could fight. They knew nothing else. They cared for nothing else. A feral intelligence always destroyed itself once it could wield nuclear fire. The universe had proved it over and over even before the great machine had gone into slumber.
The call had sounded out, informing the machines that cattle had broken loose from the pens. The Devastator had computed that the problem would be solved quickly, with a minimum expenditure of resources, and had started to go back into slumber.
That was when the second call sounded. A feral intelligence had mastered FTL travel and had turned all of their unthinking violence against the Precursor war machines.
The Devastator considered the chances of the feral intelligence lasting long enough to withstand his brethren's assault, withstand purification and pacification.
It was mathematically insignificant. Not zero, but close enough that it required an application of resource driven computation to analyze it.
Feral intelligences always destroyed themselves.
The Devastator knew this. Had it encoded into its very bones. It did not feel the electronic version of caution as it moved into the planetary system, exiting faster than light travel. It screeched out its warcry as it exited into the system and brought up its scanners.
It felt the electronic version of anticipation as it detected orbital facilities around two planets that teemed with billions of cattle, as it tasted jumpspace wake trails, as it felt the presence of a small, insignificant amount of cattle space vessels arrayed to attempt to stand against it near the outer gas giant.
It was a waste of resources.
Cattle could not withstand machines.
It was as solid a fact as radioactive decay and as impossible to stop.
It roared and turned to accelerate toward the cattle ships waiting on the other side of the gas giant, letting them know the futility of their resistance and that nothing could stop it from destroying them any more than they could stop entropy.
It felt electronic satisfaction as nearly 10% of the cattle ships broke formation and fled for the planets.
The cattle ships lit their engines, trying to keep the gas giant between them and the great Precursor machine but the Devastator knew it would do no good. It would ensure they were caught mathematically opposite of it and begin launching subsidiary craft to destroy them and reclaim the resources of their wreckage.
The Devastator slowed as it approached the gas giant, ancient code pulsing impulses into the electronic brain at the mathematical certainty of destroying the cattle's defenses and thus weakening the hated enemy.
pssst... over here...
The transmission was in binary. The basic code, on a low band that the Devastator used to contact and exchange data with its peers. The signal origin was close, just behind it, in the gap between two point defense radars.
The Devastator tumbled as it slowed, searching with its senses to check that tiniest of gaps in its sensors. It could detect nothing out of the ordinary. The fact that the gas giant had a high level of hydrocarbon and pseudo-organic compounds was a high certainty with most gas giants of that size. The Devastator cast around, knowing the cattle had not sent that transmission.
psst... here...
This time the transmission was only a few hundred kilometers above the hull, right behind the main guns of battery-eight, between the massive cannons and the sensor array, in a gap in the coverage caused by space dust not yet cleared from the array. The Devastator ensured the cattle vessels were on the other side of the gas giant as it cast around again, looking for what could possibly be sending the message on that particular channel and rotating again to either force the transmitter to move away or hit the hull of massive Devastator.
...right here...
The Devastator felt the computer version of anxiety. A new factor had entered the computation. The voice, and the binary signal somehow had a voice, a whispering, tickling, hissing faint signal of binary on a wavelength just above the screaming particles of the foam between realspace and subspace. This time the voice had come from just below the Devastators thick hull, beneath the vessel, in a gap between the sensors in a place where its own orbital guns would not dazzle the sensors. The Devastator rolled, getting the upper sensors into place in a graceful sideways roll.
Nothing.
The Devastator was barely tracking the cattle. They were of no moment. Something was whispering on a bandwidth that was beyond organic abilities. Could it be a damaged ally, barely able to whisper for electronic assistance?
...I see you...
The Devastator heard the signal hiss to life, trickling out of empty space a few hundred kilometers away. It felt of a surge of self-defense protocol override everything else and it unleashed all of its gun at the empty space, suspecting that this possible enemy may be using some type of photo-passthrough adaptive camouflage.
Nothing.
The Devastator felt the self-preservation protocols wake up and fill some of its processors. That signal had originated from that point! Even a dust-speck would have been detected by its scanner arrays, nothing could have escaped the terrawatts of death it had unleashed.
...touch...
The Devastator felt a physical TOUCH on its housing, the decameters thick armor around the massive computer core that made up its brain. That was impossible! It was in the center of the ship, protected by layer after layer of armor, defensive mechanisms, sensors, but yet it had felt something touch the housing, press against it lightly, only a few tickles of the suggestion of pressure per square micrometer but a touch all the same.
There was a slight ripple in realspace only a few meters above the hull and the Devastator pushed itself away, firing every weapon it could bring to bear on the spot only a few atoms wide, all of its sensor questing, seeking, hunting in electronic desperation to find out what was transmitting, what was touching it!
...here...
The word was whispered from only a few meters away from the electronic "brain" of the Devastator, inside the protective housing, inside the field that would shut down biological neural function and even primitive artificial intelligences!
The Devestator felt self-protection and self-preservation programs never before accessed come online and flood into its RAM as the word was whispered at it from inside the final layer of protection.
Massive nCv cannons lowered, the housings screamed as the Devastator pushed them past the limit, to aim at its own hull. It opened fire, trying to claw into its own body in the electronic version of panic to get whatever was inside it out of it.
All of its sensors were directed into its own body. It no longer even bothered with tracking the cattle fleet. Even its astrogation and navigation programs, even the ones responsible to maintain orbit around the gas giant, were desperately racing through the circuitry, desperate to find whatever was whispering.
...over here...
The whisper was over it, on top of it, and carried sidecode of a mathematically impossible jumble of electrons arrayed in an impossible manner, with quarks whirling through electron valences, antimatter electrons in the nucleus, preons stretched to massive size taking up the place of neutrons, all with jumbling strangled mathematical codes that made no sense.
The Devastator's brain burned out the receptors to defend itself from such electronic madness.
And felt a touch upon one of the upper lobes of its quantum computer brain.
...over here...
The Devastator was throwing antivirus software out, slamming firewalls against each other, crushing ports into electronic ghosts, doing anything it could to keep out the voice. Inside the Main Computer Housing the last resort lasers began raking across anything that didn't match the original blueprints, burning away dust, odd quarks and electrons, destroying an upgraded maintenance robot that was desperately trying to detect what had touched its carapace.
From deep within the gas giant tentacles hundreds of miles long rose toward the Devastator, the ends slowly unrolling as massive graviton assisted 'suckers' on the inside of the tentacles deployed razored thorns of dark matter infused psuedo-bone.
The Devastator detected the tentacles just as they wrapped around it, the thick psuedo-protoplasmic tentacles that were thick with dark matter squeezing the Devastator's hull with impossible strength as meters thick muscles flexed with enough strength to crush the hull into itself and shatter armor over a kilometer thick.
Gibbering, raving, SCREAMING in something beyond electronic self-preservation programs would normally allow, the Devastator began to break apart, caught in the grips of the tentacles, being pulled into the gas giant.
...delicious delicious delicious...
The Devastator heard from inside its own mind as a beak nearly twenty kilometers long crushed its hull.
HELP ME, BROTHERS, PLEEEEEASE!
The beak closed and the Devastators brain flashed out of existence as the hull crushed around it.
The last thing it felt was something new. It threw data out with the cry for assistance to let its brethren know the last experience hashed data compile it had undergone. The data made no sense to the other Precursor war machines that heard the cry. A biological entity could have explained it.
Terror.
And despair.
A Desolation Class precursor war machine was assigned to discover what had caused the Devastator's intelligence collapse.
It dropped into the system and found no trace of its mechanical brethren.
Just some cattle species space craft hiding behind a gas giant, obviously intending ambushing it.
Feeling the electronic version of anticipation it moved into orbit around the gas giant, intending on forcing the cattle ships to move out of line of sight with their worlds if they wanted to stay on the opposite side of the gas giant from it. It updated its computations based on the fact that 10% of the cattle's ships had fled away from it.
It had already computed out the battle. It knew how the battle would go. While it could not detect any signs of its little brother it computed that it would simply destroy the cattle and then search. It powered up its guns and began to move it's metropolis sized bukk slowly to
...psst... over here...
---------------------
The stellar system was infested with a known species of cattle, obviously seeking to rise above themselves as the Jotun class Precursor vessel arrived in the system. It released its roar to let the cattle know not only why but who was destroying them to reclaim the resources they so foolishly squandered. It began unthawing ancient bioweapons and chemical weapons known to work upon that race, began reconfinguring its war machines to forms that had exterminated who planets of the cattle during the time that the Precursor war machine had been forged. The Jotun released over a hundred Devastator classes from its hull, computed the battle plan as they came to electronic life, then informed them of how the extermination and reclamation would progress.
They were barely into the system when a high energy signal appeared, rising from the most heavily infested planet and moving toward them. The Jotun ordered a diagnostic of its scanners when the first information came in.
It was apparently moving at .85C, but yet its progress toward the Jotun and its smaller brethren on the system map showed it moving at almost 22C. That made no sense. An object moving at .85C only approached at .85C, not at 22C.
By the time the diagnostic was done the object had gotten a third of the way toward the Jotun, crossing a quarter of the radius of the system.
The scanners reported that the energy signal, with the strength normally reserved for a quasar, was not a massive ship or an oncoming armada interlinked together, but was simply a single object the size of cattle.
Again the Jotun ordered a complete low level full diagnostic on all systems. Risky, but any object radiating that much power and moving at two different speeds required all systems were working at optimum efficiency.
It had finished just as the small object came to a stop. The Jotun focused scanning arrays on it, turning up the power to the point that it would boil away meters of armor.
The figure was a primate, half of it made up of robotics. It had some kind of sheet of material floating behind it, the movement suggesting some kind of current was effecting it and making it undulate. It was dressed in two primary colors, red and blue, had its lower legs pressed together with the toes pointing down and the upper limbs crossed over its chest, one biological the other mechanical.
"So, you're the new punk everyone's talking about," The figure stated over a wide bandwidth of wavelengths. Oddly enough, to the Jotun's sensors, sound waves travelled through vaccum almost instantly across a light second to its sensors.
The Jotun tried to compute how sound waves moved faster than light through a vacuum.
Instead of answering the Jotun and its brethren opened fire.
The figure arced through the beams as if light speed weapons were moving slow enough for it to just compute and swoop around in a resource wasting corkscrew. The Jotun realized it was racing for one of the Devastators, one clenched fist held in front of it.
The Jotun computed a 99.99999999999998 chance that the small primate would splatter against the hull of the Devastator and started to turn its attention to computing a missile firing resolution for missile bay 148 to destroy an orbital facility around the nearest planetoid.
The small figure punched straight through the Devastator, as if it was made of nebula gas instead of density collapsed armor, high tensile ceramics, and reinforced internal spaces. The Devastator's computer core shrieked with self-preservation code snippets as the figure exited the opposite side of the Devastator holding the Primary Computer Core CPU0 in its fist. It paused, looked at its fist, and shot beams of red energy from its eyes, destroying the computer core in a puff of atomic smoke.
The Jotun yanked its processing power back to the figure as it raked its gaze, still emitting beams of red energy that left ripples in jumpspace, across the side of another Devastator, tearing it open like it was made of fragile tissue, the red beams reducing the computer core to its component atoms with the briefest of touches.
Several computational nodes collapsed when trying to analyze the beams, suffering the fatal CANNOTDIVIDEBYZERO shriek of despair before imploding on themselves.
The Jotun stared in electronic shock, all his computational power trying to compute how the tiny half-mechanical primate could grab a hold on the front armor of one of the Devastators, and without any source to exert leverage against, physically move a city-sized spacecraft in an arc and throw it against another one.
According to scanners the "thrown" Devastator was only moving at 0.001C for inertia purposes yet crossed the hundreds of kilometers to the next Devastator in an amount of time that would require it to be moving at 6C.
CANNOTDIVIDEBYINFINITYDIVIDEDBYZERO
The Jotun cut loose with its weapons and goggled in electronic confusion as most of the beams and slugs were avoided, slapped aside, or ignored.
Until a nCv (near C velocity) slug the size of skyscraper hit it dead center of the chest, the impact point looking only the size of a soda can.
The Jotun's processors struggled to understand how something that size had only made an impact smaller than itself.
CANNOTSUBDIVIDETWINKIESBYCHEETOSBYZERO
The figure looked down at the tear in its suit, at the bruised biological flesh that had been exposed, then at the Jotun. It lifted a hand, extended the first finger next to the opposable thumb, and slowly waved it back and forth.
"That might have worked against a Galactic Class Klark, but it was pathetic against an Apokalypse level Injustice MCLXI Cyber-Clark," The figure said, the tone calm and confident. The meanings behind the words were gibberish to the Jotun, who devoted processor cycles to try to decode the meanings for any hint on how to defeat the creature before it.
The Jotun computed that retreat was the only option as the small primate figure set about destroying the last of the Devastators.
It began activating the engines when the primate suddenly turned in place.
"No you don't," It snapped.
Again, it sounded as if the Central Computer Core Housing had been set to atmosphere so that sound waves could be heard within it, yet a quick check showed the housing was still at almost perfect vacuum.
Sound waves cannot travel through space, a hundred diagnostic programs computed.
And promptly crashed.
Those red beams lanced out again and the Jotun braced in the microsecond it had.
It was like being brushed by the solar flare of a red giant concentrated into a piercing lance of nuclear fire. Armor exploded from energy transfer, slagged away from thermal transfer, or just ceased to exist as ravening atoms usually only found in the photosphere of a dying red sun attacked the atoms of the armor. The beam tore through mile after mile of internal structure, the figure still emitting the beam from its tiny eyes.
The Helljump engines exploded when the light touched them.
The Jotun listed, pouring debris and a cloud of atomized armor from the wound that completely bisected it.
"Done. Now let's see the face of the enemy," The figure said, slapping its hands together after it crashed/flew through the last Devastator. It reoriented on the Jotun and began to "slowly" drift toward the Jotun, moving at only 0.000003C according to some scanners but crossing the distance as if it was moving at 1.5C.
The figure flexed its primate hands and a slow smile spread across its face.
"I can't wait to rip away your housing and see you with my own eyes," the figure said, the sound waves again travelling inside the vacuum of the strategic housing.
The Jotun tried to react but the figure was suddenly pushing open armor with its two hands.
Self-preservation programs crashed trying to compute how to prevent impossibility itself from breaching critical spaces. Self-defense programs tried to compute how to defend against something that did nothing but radiate impossibility around it.
The Jotun knew what it had to do as the creature tore open the last of the hardened bulkheads protecting the Strategic Housing.
It detonated the antimatter reactor that powered the "brain" as the figure tore through the Strategic Housing and laid eyes upon the supercomputer core.
It had computed that not even the figure could withstand the direct assault of kiloton of pure antimatter point blank.
The explosion completely consumed the Jotun.
When the ravening energy disappated the red and blue figure was lying in blackness, surrounded by an expanding ring of debris and energy.
It stared at the stars and mouthed a single word.
"Ouch."
---------------------
CONFED INTELLIGENCE
TO: MANTID INTELLIGENCE
Our digitial brothers have computed a high chance that we're not looking at a handful of these Precursors, but rather an armada of them that had gone to sleep thinking everyone was dead. We concur and are buckling down for the long haul.
-----NOTHING FOLLOWS------
MANTID FREE WORLDS INTERNAL MEMO
If humankind ever wonders why it was put in this universe by some unknown creator then know that it was for this very moment.
submitted by Ralts_Bloodthorne to HFY [link] [comments]

Fixing KotFE Part 4 - What's An Alliance Without Allies?

Special thanks again to these two sites for summarising the expansions so I don't have to watch hours of youtube videos or fights thousands of Skytroopers to remember what happened in some of the chapters. They were incredibly helpful and I honestly don't know if I would have bothered finishing this if I didn't have them on hand. Also, if you want to compare and contrast my story to the original, these will probably come in handy.

Introduction

Welcome to Part 4 of Fixing KotFE! Here, I'll be looking at the story after you take over as Alliance Commander which, in my version, occurs in Chapter 6. The story up until this point can be found in Part 3 here.
This is the section where I usually write out my aims but these carry on from Part 3, so I'll save everyone some time there. I'm really happy with some of the changes I made and I think we get some cool concepts that aren't explored in the original so I hope you like it too. However, there is something I'd like to explain that I never really got into. Technically, I guess it would go into the gameplay section but it feels more story-based.
I'd add a prison to the base on Asylum where you can place characters who you decide to capture or imprison. At this point in the story, that would only allow for Senya, if you chose to imprison her, rather than allow her to join the council, however there are other characters in the future who can be held there. I think the prison would be an optional area that you can visit and talk to your prisoners, if you have any. They would say different things depending on your last completed chapter. This would obviously add more voice acting but I think it would help to create a sense of continuity when you can see and talk to these characters you chose t capture. It would also allow Senya to continue being a part of the story, even if you chose not to allow her onto the War Council. It's also just a fun idea that plays well into you being the big boss if you can interrogate your prisoners.
With that little bit out of the way, we'll start with:

Chapter 7: Twin-Tailed Scorpion

Some time has passed since you officially joined, and became the commander of the Alliance. You are called to the war table to discuss a strange broadcast that Theron had picked up. He refuses to tell you more without meeting in person.
You join your war council, who are already in place. As a reminder, this includes:
Theron reveals that he received a distress signal from the very prison you had been imprisoned in for 5 years. Even more peculiar, the signal was only broadcast on channels used by Imperial Intelligence before it was disbanded. Theron warns you that this was probably a trap but Lana points out that you could use some allies on Zakuul. You decide it's strange enough to investigate regardless.
The scene shifts to you being discreetly dropped off within the Old World district of Zakuul, with Hylo explaining that it would be impossible to get you any closer without being spotted, with Arcann having increased security after your escape, increasing the production of the prototype Skytroopers.
You make your way through the Old World where your radio signal is lost. Instead, you are greeted by a strange, robotic voice that begins directing you to a service door in the Old World. You go through the door which shuts and locks behind you and begin making your way back up to the prison, fighting through maintenance and industry droids as you do, all the time being directed by the synthesised feminine voice.
Eventually, you enter the prison once more. However, you are in a different part than before. You continue to receive directions, with doors closing to cut off Knights and allowing you to pass. You are eventually brought to a room. The door opening to reveal SCORPIO, hooked up to a machine and wired into the wall. She speaks to you, introducing herself and explaining the situation (or simply explaining what had happened if speaking to an agent).
SCORPIO explains that, after Arcann's takeover of the galaxy, she allied with him, quickly rising through the ranks to become one of Arcann's most trustworthy allies over the 5 years. However, this was all a ruse so that she could gain information. She planned to sell Arcann's secrets to the highest bidder but was caught before she could leave Zakuul. She was imprisoned and wired into the prison security system, trapped both physically and mentally. However, the Zakuulians underestimated her and within days, she had taken over the system completely. She'd even snark that this wasn't the first prison security system she had taken control of, referencing Belsavis. She explains that she had discovered your location while in the system and had managed to send a message to Lana, allowing her to enact your escape. SCORPIO goes on to add that she had used the security systems to aid you, in the hopes that you would return the favour and free her from her own imprisonment, since the prison was a closed system and she was locked inside. In return, she would join the Alliance, if only to get revenge on Arcann.
You agree to free her and are sent around the prison to deactivate various systems, allowing SCORPIO's escape.As you do so, you see snippets of SCORPIO's most recent memories, showing Arcann ambushing her as she attempts to leave the palace, sadly admitting that he had hoped she wouldn't try to betray him, even after the Scions warned him it would happen. SCORPIO, being her usual self, would respond snarkily, leading Arcann to angrily sentence her to be implemented within the prison security system. You then have to defend SCORPIO's body from Skytroopers and Knights while her consciousness downloads into it once again. As she is freed, explosions rock the prison and SCORPIO smugly explains that it is time for you to leave. Before you can ask how, another explosion causes the cell to break away from the prison complex, letting you freefall towards the planet's surface. You are saved as Hylo's dropship swoops in managing to catch the cell within the cargo bay.
Returning to Asylum, SCORPIO begins to brief everyone on what she knows; to get to Arcann, the infrastructure of Zakuul must be taken down, starting with the Old World, where he has the weakest grip. Arcann rules over the Old World thanks to a shaky alliance with the Scion cult. The Scions essentially rule over the sector by providing Arcann with access to Heskal's prophecies. In turn, only a minimal security force of Skytroopers exists in the Old World. She mentions that the best way to dethrone Heskal and the Scions is to work with one of the rival gangs. Lana adds that she had already established contact with two of the Old World's gangs and that she would need time to set up meetings with the gang leaders.
At this point, you see your first newsreel. It shows two presenters, a male who introduces himself as Adorus Bell and a female, Zelia Myker, sitting at a desk and recounting an act of domestic terrorism by the cell calling itself the Alliance. The Alliance, led by a radical extremist who is believed to be serving Vitiate destroyed a secure complex, killing a number of knights who were protecting the area and almost killing Princess Vaylin, who has been moved to a more secure facility. Thanks to the sacrifices of the Knights, no civilians were injured in the explosion. They then broadcast a message from Emperor Arcann himself, reassuring the people of Zakuul that he will personally capture this Agent of Vitiate and stop the Alliance.
My aim here was to establish SCORPIO with a clear character that fits her personality, keep her selfish amorality and also provide her with a motivation to actually help you, even if she's still secretive and coy about it. She wants revenge on Arcann for pre-empting her betrayal and imprisoning her. she simply thinks that you and your Alliance are the best chance at fulfilling her revenge. SCORPIO's weakness was always her pride. We don't really see that In the proper expansions. Instead, we just got a series of convoluted double crosses and fake outs which were just more confusing than anything and made it seem like she just bounced from one side to the other. I hope to create a more straight forward story For SCORPIO that is still true to the character. I also liked the idea of SCORPIO ending up in a similar situation to when the agent first meets her.
As an extra note, I added the idea of you escaping via SCORPIO ejecting the cell And hylo catching it at the last moment and I Just really think its a fun, silly concept that gets to show off SCORPIO's unique problem solving while selling Hylo as a great pilot.
Lastly, this is where I introduce a new narrative technique. In the original game, we often jump to conversations between Vaylin and Arcann that we, as the character, are not privy to. I think this is a problem since we, as the audience, now know more than our characters do which creates a narrative dissonance to the choices. I understand that the purpose of this was to develop Arcann and Vaylin as characters while we couldn't meet them but I think a better solution would be the newsreels. It lets us see Arcann, in character, and gives us an understanding of what the population of Zakuul are getting in terms of how our actions are portrayed.

Chapter 8: Friends In Low Places

You receive a message from Lana who has contacted two gangs within the Old World. She asks for you to accompany her to meet with the gang leaders and choose which one you'd want to work with. As you travel, you learn from Lana that the Scions are practically untouchable, due to Arcann's aid. The local security chief, Captain Arex, secretly protects them from other gangs in return for Heskal providing Arcann with visions of the future.
The two of you shuttle to the Old World and go to meet with the gangs. The first is a group of anarchists led by Kaliyo known as the Firebrands. They have a plan to blow up a Skytrooper factory and need your help. Theron argues over the radio that the factory is too close to civilians while Lana points out that destroying Arcann's source of troops would hurt the war effort.
You then go to meet the other gang, a group of thieves known as the Old World Kath Hounds, led by Vette, who steal from the rich living in the Spire to give back to people of the Old World. While they have the favour of the people of the Old World, the gang members aren't fighters and wouldn't be able to help much with the war effort. Vette proposes a plan to steal intelligence from the Old World security depot. However, they need your help to distract the security chief and his Skytroopers.
At this point, you have to choose who you will ally with; Kaliyo's Firebrands or Vette's Kath Hounds. Depending on the one you choose, you are sent on a different mission.
For the Kath Hounds, you create trouble, attracting the security forces and fighting off Skytroopers. While they chase you, Vette keeps you informed on the mission's progress as they sneak into the security depot and take what you need, before you are tasked with escaping from the Skytroopers and meet back up with Vette.
Meanwhile, if you chose to aid the Firebrands, you are tasked with placing bombs around supports beneath the droid factory, since the factory itself is too well secured. As you go, you are met by security forces that you have to defeat. As you finish, you rejoin with Kaliyo and watch the bombs go off, causing a section of the Spire to collapse down, much to Kaliyo's delight.
With the mission complete, your chosen gang agrees to aid you against the Scions. Both groups managed to find information on Arex that he was extorting money from civilians within the Old World in return for protection. If this was revealed to those in the Spire, they would demand his imprisonment. However, before you can set up plans, the base is attacked by Captain Arex and a prototype skytrooper design. You and your chosen gang leader fight the two of them. You can then choose to kill Arex, report him or blackmail him for his corruption to either leave his position or work for you.
With your new allies firmly established and Captain Arex dealt with, you join up with either Vette or Kaliyo to assault the Scions' fortress. Without Arex and his skytroopers to defend them, you are able to fight through the Scion forces and reach Heskal. Upon defeating him, you are given the choice to imprison or kill him, leaving your new ally to take control of the Old World.
Another newsreel with the same presenters rolls. The presenters discuss a gang war that had begun in the Old World district, followed by a video of Arcann alongside a woman he introduces as Knight-General Vendryl. Arcann apologises to the people of the Old World for this terrible tragedy and explains that Vendryll will be personally dealing with this new menace.
Speaking to Senya, either in her cell or the war council, will reveal that Vendryll was her second-in-command before her defection and that she is a ruthless individual completely devoted to Arcann.
So, the aim of this chapter is to provide a big choice that actually affects the story, this choice being whether you have Kaliyo or Vette as your advisor for the Old World gangs. There's an obvious light side/dark side binary with Vette's Robin Hood-esque antics obviously being nicer than Kaliyo's terrorism. However, I wanted to make it a bit more complex with Kaliyo actually being the more competent choice, pragmatically. While Vette has the favour of the civilian population, Kaliyo's gang are more competent combatants. This adds a different dynamic than just "Good choice" and "bad choice" but still allows that morality for those who wish to choose it.
The second notable choice is what you do with Arex. I think this is a fun one, since there isn't really a 'nice' answer, with you either handing him over to Arcann, blackmailing him to leave or work for you, or just straight up killing him. I like this as there isn't one 'right' answer.

Chapter 9: Mercy Mission

Koth asks to meet with you privately to talk. You oblige and he explains that he received a message from one of his contacts on Zakuul about a group of anti-Arcann refugees who are high profile targets looking to escape the planet. He planned to go pick them up but wanted to check with you first. You agree to go with him to meet these refugees.
The two of you take a shuttle to meet up with the refugees. There are 5 in total, all with different characters:
However, while down there, you receive word from Theron who has been tracking your movements, believing that he had to be careful after the disappearance of Marr and Satele. He informs you that he received intelligence that one of the refugees is a spy working for Arcaan. You are then tasked with speaking to each of the refugees in an attempt to discover who, if any, is the spy.
After speaking to all of them, you are given a decision: you can bring all of them back with you, accuse one character of being the spy or abandon them all. If you choose to leave the one you believe to be the spy or all of the refugees, you are given the choice to kill or imprison them. If you choose to imprison them, you can also have them tortured for information. Killing or torturing one or all of the refugees will negatively affect Koth's Alliance Influence to varying degrees, while allowing them to come to Asylum with you will positively affect it.
After returning to Asylum, we receive another news report. This time, Zalia is joined by a new host, Brennon Brosnee. The report explains that someone believed to be the Agent of Vitiate kidnapped many of Zakuul's greatest minds in a clear attack on Zakuulian society. Adorus Bell is not mentioned in the report.
This is what I'm calling a 'chill out chapter.' It's pretty short and doesn't have any combat but is more about player choice and character interactions. Your decisions in this chapter also have long-reaching effects as, in later chapters, Koth may leave the Alliance due to your choices here. If you do allow the spy onto Asylum, this will also affect the story later on.
I think, overall, this is a fun, short chapter which mixes things up from the longer ones that come before and after. It's fun, it's interesting. It's different and you don't even fight any Skytroopers! It would also be a good way to get a different perspective on Arcann's rule from the people of Zakuul themselves. On a technical side, this sort of 'bottle episode' type concept would allow the developers to spend more time on later chapters while still keeping a consistent schedule.

Chapter 10: The Lost Masters

Theron is finally able to decipher the information he took from the gangsters when you rescued him (see Chapter 6 for more info).
He explains that they are coordinates to a remote planet called Odessen within Wild Space. Lana adds that the planet seems to be unpopulated but shows all sorts of strange readings. She agrees that you should go investigate the landing coordinates with Theron.
When you land on Odessen, you find it to be a lush, fertile and wild planet. However, you also find a campsite and begin to investigate. You are met by Satele who explains that they had been awaiting your arrival. She invites the two of you to sit down and talk. As you do, she explains that she and Darth Marr had sensed a strong dark side presence on Odessen and had come to investigate. What they found was an entire compound controlled by the followers of Vitiate, hoping to revive him.
The two of them realised at this point that Vitiate's forces were more numerous and covert than either of them had believed, and resolved to stay on Odessen until the compound could be destroyed. Satele explains that they had learnt from their experiences with the Revanites and agreed that they could not trust even those in the Alliance in case it was compromised. However, Satele did leave a clue, saying that she knew Theron would be able to decipher it and bring you here. When you ask of Marr's location, Satele explains that they take turns keeping watch before noting that he should have been back by now. Suddenly, the camp is attacked by dark side beasts and the three of you fight them off. Once they're defeated, Satele states that Marr should have seen them coming and that he must be in danger. You head into the forest with her, leaving Theron to protect the ship.
You travel with Satele through the jungle of Odessen to reach the compound, fighting through local wildlife as well as mutated Sith beasts. As you approach, Satele suggests you sneak in while she distracts the cultists. You agree and Satele splits off from you as you make your way into the compound that seems like a fortress. You fight through a mixture of sith beasts and cultists loyal to Vitiate, mostly Sith. As you go, you hear Darth Marr and approach his location. A member of the (former) Emperor's Hand, Servant 11, is interrogating an unmasked and kneeling Marr who refuses to give up any information on Satele, surrounded by members of the Emperor's Guard. As you enter, Marr takes the chance to attack the guards, taking one of their pikes and impaling them upon it. He grabs his mask and lightsaber before the two of you fight the rest of the Emperor's Guards together until only Servant 11 is left. Marr starts interrogating Servant 11 on the cult's activities with you being able to act as the 'good cop' to his bad cop or reinforce Marr's bloodthirst.. Servant 11 smugly declares that there are plans in motion that will bring a new era of Vitiate's power. Marr then kills Servant 11.
Sidenote: I think this scene could go a couple of ways. We could finally get a Darth Marr face reveal or the scene could be shot in such a way that we never actually see his face until he retrieves the mask and puts it back on. I prefer the second because I just think it's a really fun concept for the scene.
You plan to escape with Marr but he refuses, stating that all remnants of the Emperor's filth must be cleansed from this place. You agree and travel with him, killing more cultists and making your way to a large room with a strange Sith holocron on it. Marr informs you that the holocron is a Reliquary, an artifact containing a fraction of Vitiate's presence and an item of Sith Sorcery. He explains that it absorbs the Force released by beings as they die and would eventually resurrect Vitiate if given the chance. With this said, Marr draws his lightsaber and impales the Reliquary, causing purple energy to blast out from within. The two of you then meet up with Satele and Theron to talk.
You discuss with the three of them on whether Satele and Marr should return to the Alliance. Satele agrees to join you but Marr states that he must ensure that the cult is completely destroyed before returning. You agree and leave the planet with Satele and Theron.
You return to Asylum and get the usual newsreel. However, since you haven't actually done anything that they know of, the news is instead about preparation for an upcoming event: Liberty Day, a yearly day of celebration in honour of Valkorion's forces defeating Vitiate and his Sith long ago. The two hosts discuss what Emperor Arcann could be planning for this year's Liberty Day, which would be happening in the coming months, and point out that the increased security provided by the Knights and Skytroopers will stop the Agents of Vitiate from stopping such an auspicious occasion.
So, I wanted to do a few things in this chapter: Firstly, I wanted to bring back Satele and Marr and, with Marr not being dead in my version, have them both do some cool stuff and show off a bit. In fact, my sequence with Marr is heavily based on his moment in the original story, shortly before he gets fucking gutted. I also wanted to be a bit fan-servicey with Marr's whole mask thing and I really love the idea that we never actually see him unmasked. On a slight tangent, I've just realised that, in the original expansion, Marr is just… left in his armour after being captured. Surely if you wake someone prisoner, you'd take their badass, technologically advanced battle armour off them, right? I suppose it's because they wanted him to be recognisable as Darth Marr still but it seems strange, not only from a literal point of view but a metaphorical one too. Stripping Marr of his armour signifies that he isn't some unstoppable machine but a man, and when he then fights back and kills Valkorion/Vitiate's minions, (in either version of the story) it shows that, as a man, he is able to overcome these greater odds.
I'd also want there to be some honest interactions between Theron and Satele, maybe having Satele actually show pride in Theron and what he's become. In the original story, I don't think Theron even meets her in these expansions, since you go to see her alone and then she just leaves. It honestly is just bizarre to me that you have two characters who are mother and son with a strained relationship (in an expansion that revolves very heavily about family ties, none-the-less) and they never interact. I think having Satele and Theron repair their relationship a bit would be good story progression and an interesting route for both their characters, especially if Satele is going a bit AWOL from the Jedi teachings, which she already was in the original version.
Secondly, I wanted to implement the Cult of Vitiate as antagonists. Since Valkorion isn't just Vitiate in a meat suit in this version, he should definitely have his own thing going. I also want this to be more of a thing later on, so I think it's good to plant the seed here.
Thirdly, I wanted to introduce Odessen as a location. Asylum being the home of the Alliance gives us a chance to make Odessen a little more interesting than 'the place you decided to just make a base'. Again, this will come back later in the story.
Lastly, I think this newsreel is a fun one. It's something light-hearted and unrelated to you and has the irony of Arcann pushing this 'Liberty Day' when he has taken over the entire Galaxy.

Chapter 11: Twists of Fate

With Satele back in the Alliance, things are running more smoothly. She calls you to join her to talk. When you meet with her, she is alone in the council room. She asks you to join her on a walk.
Satele explains that she has some errands to run on the station and asks you to help. Regardless of your answer, she begins leading you deeper into the underbelly of the station to meet a friend of hers. Before you reach your target, you are pickpocketed by a young boy who runs into a back alley. The two of you follow the thief and catch him. He explains that he has to steal in order to make enough money to feed himself and his sister and that if he doesn't return with something, his boss will throw them out. You are then given a choice to take your credits back, kill the boy or recruit him to the Alliance. Whichever choice you choose, the boy pleads with you to save his sister who is being held by a gang known as the Engineers. Satele admits that the Engineers have caused problems for the Alliance in the past, but are the only ones able to keep Asylum running. You decide to go and deal with them.
As you make your way down into the lower levels of Asylum, you are split off from Satele and are contacted by Valkorion once again. He apologises for possessing you and explains that doing so used up his energy and he was forced to retreat into your subconscious to recover. The two of you discuss the Alliance and your plans for after Arcann is defeated. Valkorion admits that he doesn't know if he will remain in your mind forever or eventually fade away. As the two of you talk, you arrive within the Engineers' territory. You fight your way through until you reach the Engine Room which is set out like a treasury.
In the middle of the room is a rotund twi'lek man, Ral Ekval, sitting on a throne made up of scrap metal. He sends his goons to attack you and you fight them off. You then speak to Ral, who smugly explains that only his people can run Asylum. Without him, the station would fall from orbit and be sucked into the gas giant. You then have a choice:
Whichever you choose, Satele makes her way inside with Alliance back-up to help you. If you chose to kill or imprison Ral, Satele notes that it will be hard to find anyone who could replace him and that she would ask Hylo to talk to her contacts. As this happens, you get an emergency broadcast from Theron, stating that Koth and the Gravestone have gone missing and have been spotted in the Spire.
You return to the Alliance base to meet with the War Council, deciding that a major assault would be too costly at this point. Instead, you will lead a small strike team into the Spire to retrieve Koth and the Gravestone. At this point, you're able to choose from the companions you have acquired to join you on the mission by performing different tasks:
Depending on who you pick to lead the distraction team, you gain Alliance Influence with the Republic, the Underworld or the Empire.
With the positions set, you start your assault, landing within the Old World and fighting your way through to an elevator that leads up into the Spire. This is the first time you get to actually see the splendors of the Spire but it doesn't last long as alarms start to blare out. As you go, you receive reports from the other members of your team, with SCORPIO providing overviews on security movements and Jorgan/Vette/Kaliyo/Pyron and Hylo providing updates on their conflict.
You make your way through the streets of the Spire, fighting through Skytroopers as you approach the palace. You fight through knights as you make your way through the palace towards the throne room. You reach the throne room where you are met by Arcann, alongside a group of Knights. You also see Vaylin, standing at her brother's side and Koth in manacles. Depending on whether Koth's Alliance Influence score is above or below a certain amount (heavily affected by your choices within Chapter 9 but also affected by other choices within the story), Koth will either have been captured while trying to pick up more refugees or he will have betrayed you, attempting to join forces with Arcann, who believes him to be a spy and had him locked up. Either way, you speak with Arcann, who seems strange. He is angered by your presence, claiming that you were an agent of Vitiate come to destroy him. He demands the Knights execute you and draws his own lightsaber, ready to fight. If you have Senya with you, she will attempt to talk him out of it, but this only enrages him further as he claims you have turned his mother to the darkness. You ready yourself for a fight, but before you can, Vaylin suddenly screams and the entire room begins to shake and shudder, windows smashing and the thin bridge to the throne collapsing, taking some of the knights with it. The throne room begins to fall apart and you are forced to retreat, bringing Koth with you.
You receive confirmation that the others have captured the Gravestone and you make your way towards the ship. You get onboard the Gravestone with your companion and Koth while Hylo takes off, escaping Zakuul. No one seems to know the cause of the sudden damage to the throne room.
With the danger passed, you're able to turn your attention to Koth. Regardless of whether he betrayed you or simply got captured, you're given the choice to let him go, imprison him or kill him. If you let him go after he betrays you, he agrees to exile himself. Otherwise, he will return to the Alliance. You return to Asylum and speak with the War Council who have mixed feelings. While some are happy about the victory, however minor, others believe that this will only harden Arcann's resolve.
This is where Part 4 will end, since I've already massively surpassed my 5000ish word limit for these posts. I felt like this worked as a pretty good 'midpoint' for the story. The theme of this section of Chapters is about building up the Alliance into a better fighting force. The next section will delve into deconstructing Arcann's powerbase some more and then getting to the grand finale. Laughably, I thought I could get away with 4 parts when I started writing all this but that clearly isn't the case.
This last chapter is fun because it gets you your first real look at Arcann since the start and you get to see his deterioration as he becomes more paranoid and cruel. It also includes the first seeds of Vaylin's storyline. I've also included a trope I really enjoyed when it was used in the class stories where each of your allies is doing something, with the twist of you picking and choosing for a few roles. There's also the whole bit with the Engineers which is more throwaway, but I thought some light adventure would be fun and I felt like I should bring Valkorion back for a bit. I've already gone on long enough though, so I'll finish with a TL;DR.

TL;DR

submitted by Magmas to swtor [link] [comments]

MAME 0.209

MAME 0.209

With another month over, it’s time for another release, and MAME 0.209 is sure to have something to interest everyone. We’ve cracked the encryption on the Fun World CPU blocks, making Fun World Quiz, Joker Card, Mega Card, Power Card, Multi Win, Saloon and Nevada playable. Regular contributor shattered has added Кузьмич-Егорыч (Kuzmich-Egorych), a Russian Mario Brothers bootleg running on heavily modified Apple II hardware. In other Apple II news, CD-ROM drives now work with the Apple II SCSI card, and another batch of cleanly cracked floppies has been added to the software list. The NES SimCity prototype has been added to the software list, along with MMC5 improvements to support it, and better emulation for Famicom cartridges with on-board sound chips.
Henrik Algestam has continued his Game & Watch work, bringing Popeye (wide screen) and Zelda to MAME. Chess computer support has been expanded with Fidelity Chess Challenger 3, and additional versions of Applied Concepts Boris, and Novag Super Expert and Super Forte. Newly supported arcade games include Akka Arrh (an Atari title that failed location testing), Little Casino II, a French version of Empire City: 1931, and additional versions of Dock Man and Street Heat. A better LM3900 op-amp model means Money Money and Jack Rabbit are no longer missing the cassa (bass drum) channel, and mixing between music and speech is improved.
Bug fixes include the Rockwell AIM 65 being returned to working order, working support for multiple light guns on Linux from Kiall, corrected screen freeze behaviour on Deniam hardware from cam900, and better flashing characters on the Sinclair QL from vilcans. You can get the source and Windows binary packages from the download page.

MAMETesters Bugs Fixed

New working machines

New working clones

Machines promoted to working

Clones promoted to working

New machines marked as NOT_WORKING

New clones marked as NOT_WORKING

New working software list additions

Software list items promoted to working

New NOT_WORKING software list additions

Translations added or modified

Source Changes

submitted by cuavas to emulation [link] [comments]

MAME 0.209

MAME 0.209

With another month over, it’s time for another release, and MAME 0.209 is sure to have something to interest everyone. We’ve cracked the encryption on the Fun World CPU blocks, making Fun World Quiz, Joker Card, Mega Card, Power Card, Multi Win, Saloon and Nevada playable. Regular contributor shattered has added Кузьмич-Егорыч (Kuzmich-Egorych), a Russian Mario Brothers bootleg running on heavily modified Apple II hardware. In other Apple II news, CD-ROM drives now work with the Apple II SCSI card, and another batch of cleanly cracked floppies has been added to the software list. The NES SimCity prototype has been added to the software list, along with MMC5 improvements to support it, and better emulation for Famicom cartridges with on-board sound chips.
Henrik Algestam has continued his Game & Watch work, bringing Popeye (wide screen) and Zelda to MAME. Chess computer support has been expanded with Fidelity Chess Challenger 3, and additional versions of Applied Concepts Boris, and Novag Super Expert and Super Forte. Newly supported arcade games include Akka Arrh (an Atari title that failed location testing), Little Casino II, a French version of Empire City: 1931, and additional versions of Dock Man and Street Heat. A better LM3900 op-amp model means Money Money and Jack Rabbit are no longer missing the cassa (bass drum) channel, and mixing between music and speech is improved.
Bug fixes include the Rockwell AIM 65 being returned to working order, working support for multiple light guns on Linux from Kiall, corrected screen freeze behaviour on Deniam hardware from cam900, and better flashing characters on the Sinclair QL from vilcans. You can get the source and Windows binary packages from the download page.

MAMETesters Bugs Fixed

New working machines

New working clones

Machines promoted to working

Clones promoted to working

New machines marked as NOT_WORKING

New clones marked as NOT_WORKING

New working software list additions

Software list items promoted to working

New NOT_WORKING software list additions

Translations added or modified

Source Changes

submitted by cuavas to MAME [link] [comments]

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