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 The Planet of Doctor Vitalic

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PostSubject: The Planet of Doctor Vitalic   Sun Oct 05, 2014 4:16 pm

“Curious.”

“Sir?” The mercenary looked at the scientist.

“How much do you know about how the Gorgon Fungus affects its victims, Lieutenant?”

“Enough to know that I want to keep my respirator on all the time. If they had a way for me take my meals without removing it I'd use that option.”

“Ah. Well, typically in a human or other species with similar physiology, the adrenal systems would be flooding the body by this point. This Burninite however has had nothing of the sort happen.”

“I suppose that's strange. Not that I'm really much one to judge. I'm not a scientist or doctor, like you.”

“Hm. Fair enough. Still, it is disappointing. I do hate disappointing an employer. Why doesn't it work the same way? Something in their physiology? Maybe because its a clone?”

“Maybe because of how sedated it's been since you made him?”

“Possible. Hm. Maybe I could get a response if we reduced the sed rate. Interesting idea. Bailey! Bailey! Where is that fool? I need my assistant.” The mercenary discreetly triggered his comm.

“Mr. Bailey, you may want to make your way back to the lab.”

“God damn it! I'll be there in five.”

“Best make it two. The good doctor is in one of his moods.”

“Wonderful.” The young assistant appeared not long after the conversation.

“Ah Bailey, there you are you useless buffoon. Get over here. We're going to try something. We're going to lower the subject's sed rate.”

“Uh, Doctor, is that wise? What if its mind makes connection with the collective conscious?”

“We'll be careful about it. Lower it slowly in a controlled manner. Anything seems wrong we immediately dump it back into unconsciousness.”

“If you say so.”

“Of course I say so. Now get over to that panel.”

“You know doctor, I'm still trying to learn the particulars of Burninite physiology. I don't know what levels might bring us up too far.”

“Just adjust the rates as I tell you, damn it.”

“Yes Doctor.”

“All right, let's begin. I'm sending you the rate reduction program I want you to follow.”

“This seems a little aggressive.”

“Just do as I say, damn you!”

“Do as you say, aye.”

“Good, good. Slight elevation in neurological activity, no change in adrenal secretions... Wait, this activity is getting too high too quick. Scale it back down! You went too far!”

“I followed your directions!”

“Just put it back down! Damn. Did it make connection?”

“No way to know.”

“Damn it all.”

* * * * *

Intelligence Specialist First Class Douglas sat at her desk dissecting the financial transaction of the mercenary outfit she was tracking. The outfit hadn't taken any contracts against Heraklea yet, but it was a definite possibility and it always paid to have as much information as possible on a potential adversaries. The vast majority of its money out was various arms purchases, or pieces and parts for larger weapons. She was fairly certain at this point the outfit had at least a few nuclear warheads in their possession, based on other purchases that had been made, though she didn't have any hard proof of their acquiring weapons grade uranium.

Their largest purchase recently was a large merchantman. A strange purchase, as they had plenty transports. She tracked it to the Rhean vendor and set the cracking software onto their security systems. After penetrating them, she began running identity recognition software on the surveillance records. Two of the faces kicked backed as the usual procurers for the outfit. The third of the little group that had purchased the ship took a little longer, and when it did a red alert message flashed on the screen.

“Harry! Prep a message for Kirburg! We found Commander Vitalic! We found the Mad Doctor!”
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PostSubject: Re: The Planet of Doctor Vitalic   Mon Oct 06, 2014 12:32 am

Jenova breathed deeply, letting the sweet air flow through her throat, savoring each moment. The air seeped slowly back out through her pores, although at a somewhat different molecular concentration than it had been inhaled. Much of the CO2 had been removed, and replaced by life-supporting O2. In this of deep meditation, Jenova's body hardly needed to use standard cellular respiration at all. Almost all the ATP her body needed was produced by photosynthesis, even in the relative dark of her private study.

There are so many of us now, she thought. And yet, there were once so many more.

Full exhalation.

Your end is not long approaching, another voice in her head whispered, almost too quietly to make out. And your time has been marked by great hardship. So many lost, and such little to show for it.

We have found the Way of the Leaf, came Jenova's thought.

But suddenly, something about the Infinity Web shifted. Jenova wasn't sure what it was, exactly, but something was not quite right. A lower Pa'u would never have spotted this. But she was sure of it. Yes, something was added. Something strange.

A First Level Pa'u, yet not wild.

What are you, child? Jenova's mind cried out. Few can resist the power of Jenova's psychic command for long. They say Teresa Trimbalt, Guardian of the Web once withstood the full wrath of Jenova Incinerator, but as legend becomes myth, who is to say?

I am...

But the response cut off before Jenova could fully begin to make sense of the mental data she had been receiving. Reading the mind of another is quite a tricky business, even for one as experienced as herself. Each intelligent mind is different, and parts of its experience cannot be conveyed in words. We think in images, sounds, and connotations. A language fully our own.

In any case, there was one thing clear. Something about this was wrong.

Jenova's eyes popped open.

"Mistress Jenova, what is it?"

"I do not know, child. But it is certainly something. Fetch my commlink and my cloak, and send me a team of midlevel Pa'us. They should meet me at 35|17|22 in 15 minutes."

The apprentice inclined her head slightly, and withdrew.

Looks like the Herakleans aren't the only ones flying this mission.
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PostSubject: Re: The Planet of Doctor Vitalic   Fri Oct 10, 2014 12:15 am

“All right, Petty Officer Douglas. Talk to us about what you've found.”

“Yes sir. A mercenary outfit known as 'the Devil Dog Company' recently popped onto our radar after we received intel that they had been in contact with the Black Order.”

“They were hired by the Black Order?”

“Not that we know of, sir. Based on tracking financial movements of the Devil Dogs, the mercenaries had given money to the Black Order during that contact.”

“Do we know why?”

“Not yet. We believe they had purchased something from the Black Order, but we haven't received any intel on what that might be. I've put in a request for our people behind the Black Line to try and find something on it, but you know very well how dangerous it is for them.”

“Very well. Continue.”

“In the course of my investigation, I came across a purchase by the Devil Dogs of a merchantman. Two of the men who made the purchase were a pair of procurers for the mercenaries who are typically seen making purchases for the outfit. The third man was identified by the recognition system as Commander Vitalic.”

“What was the certainty?”

“Sixty-seven point eight percent.”

“That seems low.”

“Considering that it's been seven years since he's been seen, that's about as high as we can expect. The face has been modified, obviously. The recognition was based on behavioral mannerisms, body motion and projected forensic anthropology.”

“Given the time frame, would you say what he is working on is probably what brought the Devil Dogs in contact with the Black Order?”

“Yes sir, I would.”

“That is disturbing. Commander Vitalic has no concept of restraint, and who knows how he's developed since he disappeared. How old is this intel?”

“About two months.”

“Then he has likely already disappeared again. How do you propose we use this information?”

“We have reports of contacts that match some of the Devil Dogs light scout ships in Burninite Space over the past number of months.”

“Burninite Space? What possible reason would the Devil Dogs have for being there? Who could possibly have a reason to hire mercenaries to operate in Burninite Space?”

“Nothing good, I'm sure sir. That's why I recommend we utilize the hyper capable scout drones to survey Burninite Space for potential staging sights for whatever they're up to.”

“Our drones are already heavily committed in probing Black Order held territory and regions between Trapper and Veridia.”

“If I may interject sir, I think we are all well aware of that. On the other hand a lot of what those drones are doing is checking on static situations. In particular, I think a number of the Veridian drones can be retasked for the time being.”

“Very well. I will take this to Dvorak and see what he thinks. Good work Petty Officer Douglas.”

“Thank you sir.”

* * * * *

“Doctor Vitalic, this is Bailey.”

“Dammit Bailey, I was deep in thought and you've ruined.”

“I'm sorry Doctor, but I felt you would want to know about this immediately. The spores exhaled by the subject that had a fructose solution added to it has demonstrated an abnormal rate of growth.”

“That is entirely unimportant! Wait, how abnormal?”

“Five times the typical rate of growth for the same amount of fungus and fructose.”

“Five times? Really... Which lab are you in?”

“Three.”

“I'll be down there shortly.” The doctor proceeded to the lab where Bailey waited. He looked over all the data Bailey had collected. “This is incredible. Bailey, I want you to continue monitoring this.”

“Of course, Doctor.”
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PostSubject: Re: The Planet of Doctor Vitalic   Fri Oct 10, 2014 7:34 am

Jenova stifled her frustration. Wouldn't want any of the empaths to sense that now, would she? In any case, after all the meetings, she's 99.5% sure that none of the Burninites here have done anything uncouth. It already strained credulity that one of them would have tamed a wild on their own, and it would literally blow her mind if an entire group of Burninites were willing and able to break some of the most sacred laws of Burninite physiology.

But that just leaves her at square one. There's something weird going on, and she can't place it. The very last thing she wants to do is be xenophobic, but she isn't sure what else could have caused this.

So she puts in a wire to meet with her various ambassadors -- whichever are still capable of being met with; she asks to see the Centauri, Heraklean, and STO ambassadors, intending to ask them if they know anything about something that could be related to this.
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PostSubject: Re: The Planet of Doctor Vitalic   Sun Oct 12, 2014 12:53 pm

“Any idea at all what this meeting is related to?” demanded Commodore Prisca.

“No ma'am.  I'm sorry, but we haven't been alerted to anything.  I can check with the folks in the 'basement.'”

“Do so.  I hate being blind sided.”

“Right away, ma'am.”  Karly watched as her yeoman called the diplomatic command's resident spooks.  He got a concerned look on his face, then turned back to her.  “Ma'am, your presence has been requested in the 'basement.'  I think they want to brief you on something.”

“Everything today seems to be getting more and more ominous.”

* * * * *

“Thank you for coming down here.”

“Save th?e pleasantries, Sal.  What the hell is going on?  Why in the stars does Pa'u Jenova want to talk with me”

“We don't know.  We do know she wants to talk to the entire diplomatic corps, but the exact topic is unknown for now.  There is a situation that is developing but we aren't certain that is the reason you were being called in.”

“And this situation?”

“We have some indications a mercenary outfit may be running an op somewhere in Burninite Space.  We're currently investigating.”

“Any other information?”

“The mercenaries may be working with a Heraklean expat.  A scientist who has been missing for some time.”  Karly groaned and began rubbing her temples trying to alleviate her head ache.

“How hard is the intelligence?”

“That the mercenaries are in Burninite Space remains far from confirmed.  The expat I understand us to be fairly certain on.”

“That's a comfort.  All right.  I'm heading over to see Jenova.  If you get anything more, send me a message notifying me of the change.  Don't tell me what it actually is.”

“Yes ma'am.”

* * * * *

Doctor Vitalic was immediately infuriated by the noise that distracted him from his musings.  Looking over he saw Bailey trying to shake the sleep from his head.

“Go to bed Bailey,” he said, taking pity on his young lab assistant.  “I need you to be alert and fresh, otherwise you're useless.”

“Yes, Doctor.  I'll do that.”  Doctor Vitalic watched the young man leave the room, then turned back to the window.  Then frowned.  Perhaps he should get some sleep.  He could have sworn he just saw the fungal colony move.  Not just growing, but actually moving.  But that doesn't make any sense.  He looked down at the data again and continued reading when out of the corner of his eye he saw movement.  He looked up again to see the colony simply sitting there as before.

“That tears it.  I need to get some sleep.”  He turned and left the lab.  As the lights dimmed to darkness in the lab, the fungus began shifting back and forth in its tube.  The tube tipped over and shattered on the desk in the sealed portion of the lab.  The fungus collected itself and moved over to the tap of fructose.  The collection of it swung up and knocked open the valve, then dived into the pool of fructose.  The colony began growing again.
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PostSubject: Re: The Planet of Doctor Vitalic   Mon Oct 13, 2014 1:05 pm

"Commodore," Jenova says with a smile before taking a sip of tea. "I'm gladdened by your swift and polite response to my request to meet with you."

Jenova appears nonchalant, and doesn't spend overmuch time examining the commodore, but an astute observer would note the analytical depth in her eyes when she appears to glance sidelong at the ambassador rather than the intricate tea-making apparatus on the center table.

"I've received interesting intelligence from Burnination's Sensor Corps, and I was wondering if you know anything about it. An outsider studying the Burninite psyche, perhaps? No need to feel pressured. This isn't an interrogation. I would merely like to ask before we decide how best to deal with the situation."

(OOC: Obviously, Jenova is lying about how sure she is about this, as you might have guessed. Just didn't want you to have to PM me and be like "wut?")
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PostSubject: Re: The Planet of Doctor Vitalic   Mon Oct 13, 2014 7:56 pm

“I'm afraid I'm not aware of any specific hard intelligence to that effect,” replied Commodore Prisca, “though I'd be happy to submit a request to the Intelligence Service for anything they may not have forwarded to me.  We have received a number of reports with unconfirmed sightings of mercenary companies in Burninite Space.  It could be related, though it is far more likely they are escorting civilian merchantmen or cruise liners.  At worst they're probably just using the empty space for exercises of some kind.  I'd be willing to forward some of those reports if you like, though they are fairly vague.”  As she spoke, in the back of her mind Karly thought that she really should have squeezed Sal harder on the expat scientist.

* * * * *

“Good morning Lieutenant,” greeted Doctor Vitalic.  “How did you sleep?”

“Fine, thank you Doctor.”

“Good, glad to hear it.  Have you seen Bailey yet this morning?”

“I believe he's working out at the moment.”

“Healthy body, healthy mind, eh?  Good for him.  When he's done, make sure he comes to Lab Three.”

“Absolutely Doctor.”  They each made to part ways when a siren began blaring.

“Security alert in Lab Three.  Security alert in Lab Three.”  The to men looked at each other again before taking off at a dead run to the security control room.

“What the hell is happening?” demanded the mercenary.

“I'm trying to figure that out!” replied the man at the panel.  He had pulled up several cameras on the screen, showing the broken glass of the sealed portion of Lab Three.  The main door to the lab had shut and at the foot of the door was what looked almost like a green foot.

“What is that on the ground?”  Not a second later another alarm sounded.

“Spore release.  All personnel don respirators.”

“Where is the release?”

“Gorgon spores have been detected in the hallways outside Lab Three.  Access to the lab sector has been secured.”

“How many on the other side of the boundary?”

“We've got four guys over there.  Hickley, Banes, Ayeres and Marabi.  Motion detectors are picking up five contacts right now.”

“Our intruder.  Give me the map.”  The screen changed and showed a map of the lab portion of the complex.  “There he is.  Give me those cameras.”  The map disappeared, replaced by a pair of windows showing the capture from the cameras.  “What the fuck is that?”  On the screen was, for lack of a better word, a big green monster.  Humanoid in shape, but bigger than the giants from Jӧtunheimer.  It prowled down the hall.  “What ever it is, I'm taking it out.”  The mercenary triggered the comm circuits.  “Hickley, Banes, you are Fire Team Alpha.  Ayeres, Marabi, you are Fire Team Bravo.  I'm giving you way-points to move to.  You're going to take out the... thing that's in there with you.  Move to the first way-points now.”  Before long the two teams were flanking the monster.  “Alright it's around the corner.  Move in and take it out in three... two... one... strike!”

The two teams swung around the corner and began firing at the monster.  It bellowed loudly and charged Hickley and Banes.  The two mercenaries tried to back away but the monster was upon them too quickly.  It grabbed them both by their armor and slammed their heads together.  Their heart beat sensors both flatlined.  The monster turned and ran at the other pair.  Ayeres stumbled backwards as the monster slammed Marabi into the wall.  Turning to the last living man, the monster snarled, then reached down and grabbed his right arm.  With a violent jerk, the arm was ripped from its socket.  Ayeres screamed in pain in terror for one final moment before his own arm struck the side of his head so hard his neck snapped.  The monster turned and looked directly at the camera, then threw the arm directly into it, destroying it.  The mercenary lieutenant turned to look at Doctor Vitalic.

“Doctor, what the hell just killed my men?”

“I wish I knew, Lieutenant.  I wish I knew.”

* * * * *

Several of the mercenary scout ships rapidly climbed out of the planets atmosphere and entered orbit.  The Colonel had ordered them into orbit just in case.  They continued to monitor developments on the planet.  All the while they were silently observed by the unmanned drone that was sliding through the system on a ballistic trajectory.
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PostSubject: Re: The Planet of Doctor Vitalic   Mon Oct 13, 2014 8:50 pm

"Mercenary companies? Of what type, if you are aware and able to disclose that sort of information to a foreign government. I'm not interested whatsoever in your economic markets or merc companies, but I AM interested in any covert ramblings in Burninite space, especially as it relates to our mental states. Our minds are dangerous things, and not to be tampered with by ... well, anyone."

Jenova's tea contraption makes a noise, and a pot of tea ... replaces the contraption. It's just gone without a trace, and has been replaced by an ornate, ivory teakettle. She pours herself a mug, and offers it to Prisca as well.

"In any case, we will be investigating this matter, regardless. If you do find that it is your people, Commodore, I would hope you would find it prudent to inform us. If it is your people, you will be allowed to take the lead in the investigation. If we aren't informed, then what happens becomes an open question."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In any case, the Burninite sensor network is hard at work looking for any inexplicable centers of covert operations, with special emphasis on locating non-Burninite creatures. Not a difficult task, since most non-Burninite people in Burnination don't also happen to be plants. Easy to see on sensor grids. Any concentrations that can't be explained? Anything suspicious? Jenova has left word to leave findings in her inbox.
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PostSubject: Re: The Planet of Doctor Vitalic   Fri Oct 17, 2014 9:22 pm

“For the most part I believe they are classified as interstellar commerce security companies. There are a few out there that organize convoys or contract with shipping companies to provide security from pirate raiding, although some serve more militaristic purposes. I'm afraid, however, that I don't have anything concrete. As I said, these are unconfirmed reports. We're working with second hand sensor data from second or third rate suites. I'd be happy to forward everything that's unclassified, though there is quite a bit of it.”

* * * * *

“Sir, burners are ready and we're standing by the lab section entrance. We're ready to breach.”

“Good. Now listen, power is out all over that section. We think that thing took out one of the main conduits. Pretty much everything but emergency lighting is down, so you better be careful out there.”

“Yes sir.”

“All right, you're clear to breach.”

“Breaching in 3...2...1...Breach!” The mercenary commander watched from the helmet cam of the lead member of the team. “We're into the lab section. Moving through. My HUD has some movement up ahead. Moving to confirm.” The team advanced further into the lab area. “I think it's around the corner. Prepare to engage.”

“Ready to engage.”

“Alright. Move!” The team swung around the corner, coming face to face with the monster. “Burn it!” The flames flew from their weapons, instantly engulfing the monster. It screamed in pain as it turned to ash. “It's dead, Colonel, Lieutenant. What ever it is. Glad that's over.”

“Good. Back out so we can reseal that area.”

“Yes sir... What the...? Sir I'm picking up more movement. I'm going to investigate.” The mercenary grunt began moving to another hallway. With speed and fury another of the strange monsters suddenly appeared from the hallway, dealing death before the incinerators could be brought to bear. Another came from out of nowhere and between them the team was quickly overcome.

“Reseal the lab section! Reseal the damn lab section!” the mercenary commander was screaming over the comms. The responding call was chilling.

“OH GOD IT'S BREAKING THROUGH! AAAAGH! MY LEG! MY DAMN LEG! OH GOD! OH-” The color drained from the mercenary commander's face as he triggered the main announcing circuit.

“For God's sake, someone kill that damn thing!”

* * * * *

“This puts everything in a new light. We now have solid intelligence the Devil Dogs are operating in this system within Burninite space. That Commander Vitalic was in contact with them several months ago has also been confirmed. I believe our best way forward is to raid this system. If the dann doctor isn't there, they may still have information that can lead us to him.”

“Should we tell the Burninites?”

“That's the question. Vitalic is a damned embarrassment we would rather the galaxy not find out about, which would lean things away from telling them. On the other hand the Burninites are very good about finding things in their own backyard. Attempting a covert extraction could strain our relationship pretty badly.”

“There is another point sir.”

“Which is?”

“Commander Vitalic most certainly faces a death sentence if he is extracted. Given the Burninite social values, they may not allow for an extraction of the man just for the purpose of killing him.”

“Hm. Good point.”

“Sir, if I may. This seems like the sort of thing State should decide, not us.”

“Perhaps. Is there any particular difference in how we would approach an extraction with Burninite support and without their knowledge?”

“Nothing really in terms of resources.”

“All right. Start planning the op, assume we aren't telling them anything but build contingencies if we do. I'll kick it up to State and let him make the decision.”
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PostSubject: Re: The Planet of Doctor Vitalic   Sat Oct 18, 2014 9:51 am

Jenova accepts the commodore's offer for all the unclassified information, assuming it won't lead to anything as she suggests. She also sincerely thanks the commodore for her time and forthcoming-ness.

Since Sensor Command has thus far failed to find anything useful, she also orders it to track any new arrivals in Burninite space, assuming that if there is any sort of foreign governmental involvement in this, they'll eventually lead her to it by coming back.

That is, if someone did something uncouth, they'll eventually need to come collect. So she orders everyone that comes to be closely tracked such that if someone does come to collect, Burninites can be in on it.

Meanwhile, sensor command continues its attempts to find any sorts of covert hideouts.
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PostSubject: Re: The Planet of Doctor Vitalic   Sat Oct 18, 2014 12:35 pm

GADM Kirrin looked over the intelligence that Dvorak had brought him. He looked up at his spymaster.

“This has the makings of a grade 'A' nightmare.”

“I apologize, sir. You know I don't try to make your life harder.”

“It's very easy to be that flipant when you can kick any decision you don't want to make up to someone higher. Unfortunately, I have no one I can pass decisions to.”

“Yes sir.” Adelei had to strangle his desire to throttle the man. The fact that he was completely loyal was about the only thing that ever saved Roger from suffering the violence he so richly deserved for the delight he seemed to take in Adelei's miseries.

“How long till the operation is ready to move forward?”

“A couple of days for everything to get set. Call it five until we're across the line into Burninite space. Do you have a call?”

“Not yet. I want you to brief Athea. I'm going to use the time until we're ready to go to try and figure out if we're going to tell Jenovah anything.”

* * * * *

“As promised, this chip has all unclassified reports relating to mercenary outfits sighted in Burninite space,” said Commodore Prisca as she handed over the data to Pa'u Jenovah. Some portions have been redacted, but everything pertinent is still there. I realize this could have been simply carried over by a courier, but my superiors wanted me to begin unofficially sounding you out on an idea the Chief of State had. He's been mulling over the possibility of an international law enforcement treaty. Set up an agency for sharing resources, coordinating investigations, that sort of thing. Possibly even agreements on extraditions.

“This is just preliminary at this point. Nothing official yet, but how would you feel about such an agreement? International policing, extradition of foreign nationals facing charges in their homelands?”

* * * * *

The normal lighting strings went down and the emergency lighting came up throughout the facility.

“Well Doctor, there goes the power.”

“Do you have any idea how many of these things there are now, Lieutenant?”

“No Doc, I'm afraid I don't. Where the hell did they all come from?”

“I think they are consuming the bodies of your men to produce more of themselves asexually.”

“What?”

“There's no other explanation for how quickly they are appearing. Especially if my other hypothesis proves correct.”

“Which is?”

“That these things grew from the spores released by the Burninite. I think something in the way the Burninite and Gorgon genetics have combined have given rise to these things.”

“For God's sake, we're getting our buts kicked by a bunch of damn mushrooms?”

“I'm afraid that may be the case.”
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PostSubject: Re: The Planet of Doctor Vitalic   Sat Oct 18, 2014 7:39 pm

"Oh," Jenova says in a questioning tone. "Why now? We've had cordial relations with an embassy for quite a while. Is there any particular reason that he is thinking about this just now?"

"In any case, as you're aware, Burninites tend not to travel. But we have no issues agreeing to an extradition treaty provided that it contains a clause whereby anyone we capture for you here cannot be executed after being returned to you. We cannot sanction judicial murder, however well-intentioned your people may be. Other than this caveat, you may extradite whosoever your hearts desire."

"I am interested in why now, though."
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PostSubject: Re: The Planet of Doctor Vitalic   Sat Oct 18, 2014 9:32 pm

“I'm afraid I'm not privy to the inner workings of the Chief of State's mind. It could be some particular issue has raised his concerns, or the idea just occurred to him. Who knows, maybe a suggestion came across his desk and he's decided to run with it. As I said, these are very preliminary soundings and is not at all unusual before we begin making official overtures for a treaty. It saves embarrassment for all parties if no official requests are offered and rebuffed. I'll convey your openness to an international policing treaty to my superiors.”

* * * * *

“Well, there it is,” said GADM Kirrin. “If we get him with Burninite support, we can't execute him.”

“Would that really be so bad?” asked HADM Burke. “We get him back, in our custody. So what if we don't hang him for all the galaxy to see. They won't allow execution, but Jenovah said nothing about harsh labor. We give him life of hard labor. Hell, we send him to the right labor prison and he'll probably die from the conditions. That is if the other prisoners don't get him.”

“I don't like it,” said HADM Heidendale. “The magnitude of his crimes warrant a real death sentence. It's the principle of the thing. What does it say of our society if we compromise our values for expediency?”

“About the same thing if we cling to the shadows to accomplish our goals.” Adelei rapped his knuckles on the desk loudly in thought.

“Get the expedition moving. They are not to cross the line without my express approval.”

“Yes sir.”
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PostSubject: Re: The Planet of Doctor Vitalic   Sun Oct 19, 2014 1:16 am

Jenova is not convinced by Commodore Prisca's reply, but she also has literally nothing to go on at this point. The suggestion to Sensor Command that it watch for covert infiltration stands, but Jenova prepares to accept that she was simply mistaken about this whole thing in the first place. Sensor command has found nothing, and her inquiries have come up empty.
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PostSubject: Re: The Planet of Doctor Vitalic   Tue Oct 21, 2014 11:27 pm

“Sir, I'm sorry to push you on this but my men will be at the line in twelve hours,” said HADM Dvorak. “I need a decision.”

“All right,” said GADM Kirrin. “Run it through with me one more time.”

“My StateSec unit is on board one of the new stealth destroyers. We give it a sixty-three percent chance they won't be able to detect the new class with their sensor network, in case we decide not to talk to the Burninites. Estimated ninety-four percent chance the Devil Dogs won't be able to see it coming. We don't know exactly what their facility looks like, but we should get an idea as soon as we get there. Because of how slim our intel is this operation is going to be pretty loose and my men will be pretty much operating by the seat of their pants. Our primary goal will be the apprehension of Commander Vitalic. Any Devil Dogs we capture will placed in custody until we determine what to do with them. If we don't tell the Burninites we may be able to subject them to our own justice system. If we do tell the Burninites, we will likely have to turn the mercenaries over to them and who knows what they'll decide about it. Over all, the end results of talking to the Burninites are likely suboptimal. On the other hand, by working with them now we may engineer some good will and potentially some capital, assuming that the cost of running the op with their approval isn't too high, while being caught would almost certainly strain relations badly. I don't think anyone needs reminding of the undertaking we're on the verge of in Sacaen space.”

“No, you don't. All right I've made my decision.”

* * * * *

“Dammit, Sal,” said Commodore Prisca. “I want to know what the hell is going on. I'm pretty sure Jenovah believes I lied to her and I'm pretty damn sure I did as well. This entire situation is undermining me with a very important head of state. That disrupts my ability to advance our nation's interests here in Burnination. So tell me right now what I want to know.”

“I'm sorry Commodore, but I'm afraid I have nothing for you at the moment,” replied the spook.

“Horse shit. This place is bustling. This place never bustles. Nothing happens here worth this much activity by our intelligence staff. So something is up.”

“That may or may not be true. Doesn't change the fact that I have nothing for you.”

“Sal, so help me-”

“Dammit Carly, I am trying to be polite! Heraklean policy typically calls for concealing intelligence operations from the ambassadors to maintain their deniability and protect them from psyonics. You know that to be the case. Because of how quiet our corner of the galaxy is we enjoy a working relationship unlike any other, but that doesn't change the fact that your authority ends at that door. Out there you are Mistress-After-God, but this is my domain. You do not get to march in here and demand anything. If anything comes through and I am told to tell you something, you will know within the minute, but until then I am sorry, but I have nothing!”

“Excuse me, sir.”

“Not now, Astrid.”

“I'm sorry, sir. But this is from Kirburg. It's tagged 'immediate action required.'”

“All right, pass it here.” The spook picked up the data pad and began reading.

“I'll leave you to it, Sal,” said Carly.

“Wait please.” Carly sat as Sal finished reading the message. He stood and walked to door of his office and shut it. He strode back to his desk, summoned up an administrative remarks page on the data pad. “Commodore Prisca, you are about to be granted new access to classified information, some of which is classified Top Secret. As such, you are being given refresher training on classified material controls as required. It is your responsibility to ensure that classified information is not disseminated to persons who have not been cleared for that information. It is your responsibility to not divulge classified information without the approval of the classifying authority. It is your responsibility to ensure classified documents in your custody are properly stored if not in your possession. When they are no longer needed, you must ensure that those documents are properly disposed of and destroyed. Entry into Top Secret storage areas must be documented and Top Secret documents must be signed in and out of their storage locations. The destruction of Top Secret documents must be documented and forwarded to the classifying authority. Do you understand these responsibilities as I have briefed you?”

“Yes.”

“Then sign, date and affix your mark to the remarks page.” Carly did so.

“Carly, I am now reading you in on a developing situation, and the message the Chief of State would like you to bring to Pa'u Jenovah.”

* * * * *

“I was just briefed on the details a few hours ago myself, Pa'u Jenovah, but that is the situation. Commander Vitalic is a dangerous man with no ethical code. He must be apprehended. On behalf of Grand Admiral Kirrin, will you please authorize our retrieval team to capture him and return him to Heraklea to face charges?”
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PostSubject: Re: The Planet of Doctor Vitalic   Wed Oct 22, 2014 9:05 am

Jenova frowns. "I will authorize this. However, I am concerned. The reason I asked you earlier if you knew anything and was pursuing this topic was that something strange happened within the Burninite neural network. I'm uncertain what this Doctor Vitalic could have been doing, but I am certain that whatever it was, it was incredibly dangerous. I have no idea what you will be walking in to. And in any case, I'd like you to take along Teresa Trimbalt -- if there is some kind of psionic defense or psionic threat, she will be able at least to detect it and provide warning. Of course, she will also convey to me that your operation was conducted with the minimum amount of required force."

"You may either simply pick her up, or tell us where to beam her. (She could appear even at coordinates in space, if required.)"
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PostSubject: Re: The Planet of Doctor Vitalic   Sun Oct 26, 2014 7:17 pm

OOC: Sorry about the delay.  Long work days.

“Have her meet me at the embassy.  I'll have coordinates and a folio ready for her to get aboard our ship that's en route.”

* * * * *

“Identify yourself, now!” yelled the StateSec soldier.

“Stand down.  This is the rider we were warned about.”  The officer turned to the Burninite.  “Forgive him, Ms. Trimbalt.  He is new and overzealous in his duties. I believe you have a folio for me?”  She handed it to him.  “All in order.  Welcome aboard the Megascops.  Please, follow me.  We are about to do the pre-op brief."
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PostSubject: Re: The Planet of Doctor Vitalic   Sun Oct 26, 2014 9:16 pm

Teresa doesn't twitch a nerve at this, nor display any sort of response, aside from providing the papers she was given at the appointed time and nods of assent when required. And to say, "Just 'Teresa,' please," when addressed more formally. She has apparently been given instructions not to interfere unless required, Jenova probably assuming this is what the Herakleans most want, presuming they had kept this op secret from her until the point where they decided that the chances the Burninite sensor grid would detect them were too high. She also knows that the Herakleans are well aware of the fact that if the Herakleans were to capture a person under the new extradition treaty, and then were to execute that person, there isn't really anything Jenova would do in response. She is still somewhat new to the politics of peace, but she has apparently decided that the peaceful means of counterbalancing force are good enough for now. (After all, were Heraklea to extradite then execute this person, they'd lose their embassy and the goodwill of any Burninite trader. And they know that, too.)

Or maybe she has something else up her sleeve.

Well, figuratively. I haven't seen Jenova wearing anything with sleeves recently.
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PostSubject: Re: The Planet of Doctor Vitalic   Tue Oct 28, 2014 11:07 pm

“Listen up, people.  This is our pre-op brief.  We have little intel on the installation, so when we get down there we'll be operating on 'seat-of-pants' protocols.”  There was was a chuckle around the room.  “Our operating profile will have two axes.  One is 'Slow' and 'Fast.'  Slow profile will have us moving largely together, securing and clearing portions of installation in coordination.  Fast means we will move coordinated but will not secure before clearing.  It's a little more dangerous, but then we are dangerous men.”  Again there was a chuckle.  “The second axis is 'Clean' and 'Dirty.'  Clean profile means we're using electrotranqs.”  Where once there were chuckles now there were groans.  “Yes, I know, but we're operating in an ally's territory and we're following their rules of engagement.  On an order of 'Go Dirty,' and only on that order you will switch to plasma rifles.  I don't intend to give that order unless it really drops in the pot.  We'll initially be operating Slow and Clean.  We'll figure out more once we're in system, but the current plan is for us to touch down a click out and move in stealthily.  That may change to a combat drop if need be.

“Next up, priorities.  Primary objectives are neutralizing Commander Vitalic and discovering what he is working on.  Secondary objectives are neutralizing all Devil Dog personnel on station.  Tertiary objectives are the successful capture of Commander Vitalic and all Devil Dog personnel as well as gathering other useful pieces of information.  Are there any questions before I hand it off to IS1 Douglas for OpFor intel?”
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PostSubject: Re: The Planet of Doctor Vitalic   Wed Oct 29, 2014 1:10 am

At "electrotranqs," Teresa closes her eyes and cocks her head to the side. She nods as though in thought, and then comes to again.

"May I see an 'electrotranq' device?" Teresa asks. "Your people seem to mistrust them, or at least not prefer them. If they release a detectable energy signature, I can set our people to beam anyone with that energy signature to a secure location so that hits cause your enemies to not only drop for however long your tranquilizing solution works, but also be immediately secured at a location of your choice. Up to you of course. Jenova approves of your tactical choices, friend. She doesn't give praise lightly."

Regardless of whether her request is met, Teresa appears prepared to accept any assignment. An astute observer might notice a faint blue mist bubble around her at certain times. It's not visible, except that part of the bubble occasionally gives off a slight shimmer. It could be identified as a simmershield to anyone who's read about Burninite tech. Useful things. Protects the wearer from quite a lot before failure.

Obviously the Burninites have done some preparation of their own.
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PostSubject: Re: The Planet of Doctor Vitalic   Wed Oct 29, 2014 9:59 pm

He tossed Teresa an electrotranq round.

“They release a small burst of electromagnetic radiation when they discharge. The low amperage means that the brief field strength will be very weak. If you can transport them to our brig on board the Megascops, it would be much appreciated. If there are no more questions, I'll let Petty Officer Douglas brief us on OpFor.”

“Thank you, sir. The Devil Dogs will provide the vast majority of the enemy forces, although it is possible there are Black Order personnel there as well. The Devil Dogs are a battalion sized mercenary outfit of installation specialists. They operate to protect or infiltrate installations they are hired for. They maintain a small contingent of FTL capable ships. One provides the capability to carry the entire battalion and their equipment. The others are three light scouting ships. They are used for birds eye and air support during infiltration operations. Their infantry favor mag-rail guns with shard style rounds. They will have a significant advantage in rate of fire, even if you switch to plasma rifles. If your armors don't stop the shards, it should still slow them enough to prevent you from grievous harm but I wouldn't rely on that. None of their purchases we know of indicate they will be immune to electrotranqs, though they do have some powered armor. They may have modified them to be immune to electrical discharge, so be wary of that. The Devil Dogs favor two man fire teams for patrols, guard stations and other posts, though they are not always immediately adjacent. If you seen anyone alone outside the facility, there is probably someone else nearby you haven't seen yet. The Devil Dogs are known to have purchased a freighter several months back. It is believed this was used to carry construction equipment for this installation. Are there any further questions on OpFor?”
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PostSubject: Re: The Planet of Doctor Vitalic   Wed Oct 29, 2014 11:14 pm

"May I travel near the front line? I am here to provide psionic defense or offense -- Burninite intelligence believes that there is a chance of psionic attack, and it helps me to be near to provide defense. I should be invulnerable to physical attacks." The simmershield. "Either way, I will follow your instructions."
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PostSubject: Re: The Planet of Doctor Vitalic   Wed Oct 29, 2014 11:43 pm

“I believe that's more of a question for Lieutenant Bell. Sir?”

“The intention is for you to be on the ground with us, Miss Trimbalt. However, because of your people's aversion to violence we are not expecting you to participate in combat. I hate to sound unkind, but that makes you something of handicap down there. I realize your shimmershield is strong, but it has its limits. We'll get into comms in a minute, but since you are a non-combatant and the only one of us with the power of teleportation, if you hear anyone tell you to bug out, you do so. Immediately. Understand?”
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PostSubject: Re: The Planet of Doctor Vitalic   Thu Oct 30, 2014 12:55 am

Teresa smiles.

Then, there are three of her, all in different locations. 1 is in the air, 1 behind the lieutenant, and 1 in between a group of soldiers. She stays in these locations for 0.25 seconds, and then there are 6. All in different spots.

Then, she's just gone.

But her voice can be heard, coming from all directions or from none, it's impossible to say from a single point of hearing.

"Teleportation is far from my only power."

Suddenly, a noticeable quantity of flies fall from the surrounding air, dead.

"Only sentient beings are safe from my mental attacks."

Teresa appears again, in her initial location, no expression on her face, and exactly in the same position as when she began. The entire experience was maybe 6 seconds long, max.

"I was told I may be viewed as a burden. I promise you, however, that if all of you tried at this moment to kill me, you would find yourselves in the vacuum of space long before you reached your goal."

Her voice then returns to its normal position. Now it appears to emanate from her current position. "Nevertheless, I will do as you wish. Excepting in the case where I detect a psionic attack, as I have been warned there may be. In that case, I cannot say what will occur."
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PostSubject: Re: The Planet of Doctor Vitalic   Sat Nov 01, 2014 3:20 pm

“Very instructive Miss Trimbalt.  Moving on.  We'll be using a chess style comm variant.  Own forces have been designated as 'Black.'  OpFor has been designated as 'White.'  Miss Trimbalt has been designated as 'Red Queen.'  The Megascops will be the 'Black Castle,' OpFor installation is 'White Castle.'  I will be 'Black Bishop,' squad leaders will be designated as 'Black Knights.'  Sorry boys and girls, but the rest of you will be 'Pawns.'”  A chuckle went around the room.  “Petty Officer Douglas is 'Black Queen.'  Commander Duval who is running the show up here in the OpCenter is 'Black King.'  If we get an FTL message changing our orders, it will be designated as an 'Imperial Message.'  Commander Vitalic has been designated the 'White King,'  Colonel Pritchardt, the mercenary commander, is 'White Queen.'  Pritchardt's lieutenants will be Bishops, all other combat personnel are 'Knights,' all non-combat personnel will be 'Pawns.'  The area will be divided up into squares designated on an East-West Axis alphabetically and North-South numerical.  That will get re-configured once we're closer to the facility into smaller squares.  Rooms within the installation will be designated by algorithms, which will largely designate rooms by the square that is the largest portion of the room.  Miss Trimbalt, if you hear anyone order 'Red Queen to Black Castle,' you immediately bug out to the Megascops.  If you hear 'Red Queen to Red Castle,' bug out of the system back home and let the Heraklean Embassy know that the op went to hell.  Are there anymore questions before we break?”
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