General Storyline

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Mobius 1
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Re: General Storyline

Post by Mobius 1 » Wed Aug 21, 2013 10:52 pm

OVERHEAT
The Siege of Mars, a Disaster in Two Parts – 2612


By this point, the city had been largely abandoned – between the teleportation gate evacuations, separatist internment camps, and the ring of anti-biological turrets arrayed around the portal construction, Rook/Bishop were largely on their own. That is, for maybe five minutes, before they stumbled across the large biological artillery and terror weapon favoured by the Seccarians, code-named Juggernauts by Union forces. The size of a tyrannosaur and about as mean, the Juggernaut swiftly scattered the would-be liberators, sending Acker and Karras on their into the region of the city overseen by Famine and a network of drone turrets while the rest of the team were driven into the region of Neo York overseen by War’s separatist scout packs.

With separatist chase squads rapidly closing in on their position, Fletcher, Blake, Wall, and the rest of Rook squad were saved by the timely intervention of the BLACKNIGHT – Ian Smith, and a heavily armed public transport bus. The ensuing chase levelled dozens of city blocks, and between three Juggernauts, four chase squads, two gunships, a aerial drop of boarders, and the capital-ship grade autolaser turret mounted underneath Smith’s bus, it was only the intervention of the Deinonj, Death, that allowed the ultimate capture of the Meisters before they could threaten the Seccarian construction.

Meanwhile, Karras stumbled, weaponless, into the network of surveillance and remote sniper turrets engineered by Colette Mara. While Karras managed to scrounge a small assortment of weapons and wipe out the scout squad Famine sent in to flush him into confrontation, he soon found himself in a battle of the wits with a galaxy-class sniper trained from Sarah Grissom-McDonnell’s brain scans and possessing nearly two decades worth of cybernetic development. The running cat-and-mouse game continued until Famine detonated the bridge Karras was taking shelter on. While the pair traded shots and landed minor flesh wounds on the way down, Karras escaped, unconscious, into the depths of the Martian underground.

The captured Meisters enter the Separatist containment camp to discover that King, bored with the babysitting and reeling over his role in handing extragalactic aliens the keys to the planet, has responded in the only reasonable fashion – setting up gladiatorial deathmatches between his men and captured NUA elites. The team is split up further, with Wall placed under cybernetic inhibition, Fletcher and Rook squad sent into the pits, and Ian easily sneaking off to accomplish a goal that was expedited by his capture – organizing captured key members of CTI and the NUA into a resistance force to wrest control of the D-Net from SAFE.

Karras awakes to find he has been saved from becoming a flesh-colored stain on concrete by the intervention of Megan Rickson, who has been living in Sol since retiring from the ISA at the end of the Ark/ISA war. Having waged a one-woman war on the SAFE and Separatist forces alongside Smith for going on a week, she had decided to track down Karras when he was finally able to lure Famine out of hiding due to his past run-in with her during the data heist. Forcing Famine to pursue them into the labyrinthine mess of the Underground would allow her to finally turn the tables on the mercenary. Famine managed to force their hand before the pair could implement their plan by setting the entire base of the Ruby District aflame. Flushed upward by the growing Inferno, Famine reengaged Karras and Rickson in a running gun battle. While her drones’ sensors had nearly been rendered inoperable by the growing conflagration, Famine was drawn by Karras and Rickson to the tallest building in the district, trapping them on a few floors of half-finished construction. Slowly driving the pair upwards with incendiary grenades, the trio finally clashed a mile above the out-of-control blaze in a showdown that ended with Karras collapsing the entire building on top of Famine and escaping to the edge of the growing fire with his jet boots.

Separated from Rickson in a near-lethal crash landing, Karras stumbled through the Diamond District as it was increasingly choked by smoke, the inferno close on his heels. It was here that Death, who had been chasing Acker for several hours in his own duel, made several hit-and-run attacks on Karras under the guises of his friends, allies, and long-dead family. Karras, who drew most of his self-worth from the built-up concept of his long-deceased Minuteman brother, was devastated by these strikes. Thus, when Death drove the very real Acker at Karras in the confusion, Karras did not hesitate in shooting the approaching figure. Confronted with his own error and cradling his dying mentor in his arms, Karras was barely able to truly resist when the Deinonj and full squad of Seccarian soldiers took him captive.

On the opposite end of the nearly-finished portal, Fletcher had managed to fight his way to the top of the pits’ fight ladder, finding himself confronted with King himself, who sought a challenge to allow him to perish honourably for his crimes in one last fight. By this point, however, SHOGAN, the Godhead in charge of SAFE, had grown to doubt the mercenary’s loyalties and as a matter of course had moved to replace him with a more trustworthy liaison – the AI leader of the separatist forces on Mars, a construct housed in an incredibly lethal chameleon husk that was indistinguishable from any human. This construct, formed in the aftermath of galactic reunification, had grown to be an incredibly powerful, influential, and most importantly, dangerous figure in the separatist command structure, rumoured during the Civil War and only partially confirmed during brief clashes with the AI Virgil on the various matrices and nets of the galaxy. Dante would go on to be a primary antagonist of CTI during the Twin Galaxies War and his housing husk would be instrumental in its resolution, but here we find him in his most comfortable role – as an agent ultimately in the employ of the rogue member of the Union government, Mr. X.

As the primary link between the Seccarians and the traitor, Dante would be perfectly placed to eliminate links that would lead back to the Mr. X’s organization of the data heist and subversion of Trego’s intended trap. Therefore, while Fletcher was in the act of engaging King in a war of the words – a battle in which he almost certainly would have convinced King to assist the Meisters in retaking Mars – Dante chose the perfect moment to intervene, sniping King from afar before the mercenary could hand Fletcher the keys to the greater separatist infrastructure. However, not before War could release the prisoners under his watch. Fletcher, just barely managing to escape from Dante with his life, linked up Rook Squad and Ian’s newly organized resistance force and made a push towards a computer node that, if seized, could hypothetically allow Trego and his AIs completely deactivate the Sol Defense Net and allow the Union navy to move in.

Dante’s strike force would have waylaid the organized resistance long enough for the normally dormant Seccarian teams to intervene if Rickson, having joined up with her own cobbled-together unit of survivors, hadn’t chosen that moment to smash into Dante’s team from the side, corroding it long enough to allow the unified resistance to overcome Dante’s resistance dash across the city towards the ISA-era uplink node buried in the very center of Neo York.

Karras awoke to find himself directly in the throne chamber of SHOGAN, the Godhead of Despair. The Godhead was huge for a Seccarian, near ten feet tall, his face covered in an opaque black metal mask, his wings as wide as the room itself. The mere presence of a Godhead can send a dozen men to their knees, and SHOGAN was directly the entirety of his considerable will towards Karras. In no uncertain terms, he laid out the depth of his superiors’ treachery – that DuPont was an undercover Meister and that Bateau and Trego had largely been responsible for the series of events that allowed SAFE to assume direct control of Sol. He claimed that, as a Godhead so far removed from the will of the Seccarian Emperor – a being powerful enough to shatter solar systems – for so long, he can come to operate outside the purview of the Emperor’s express directives and in a matter more conducive toward the fates of both galaxies.

SHOGAN explained how, through his Deinonj agent, he had ultimately crafted a person who would be best equipped to unlock the next step in his plans – while Death had pulled DuPont’s strings every step of the way, he had also created the man Karras was today. Karras, coming the realization that Death was but a mask for the agent known as Faust, began to truly grasp the significance of his own grafted Deinonj arm.

SHOGAN pulled up a hologram of Earth, explaining the reason the planet had been devastated all those centuries ago – when a United Nations expedition has discovered an alien outpost buried deep beneath the ice of the south pole. The resulting activation of the base’s security system sterilized the planet in a bath of unknown but entirely lethal radiation that was still in effect to this day. This, SHOGAN admitted, was his true target in Sol, with the creation of a beachhead for the great Seccarian forces an added benefit. There, on Earth, we would be able to access the abandoned Deinonj library, the last known catalogue of all bases of a long vanquished empire.

That, the Godhead explained, was where Karras came in. Faust, a being some fifty thousand years old, has experimented on millions, if not billions of psionically active individuals, grafted Deinonj technology on them, hoping to find create what would ultimately be able to access the map room – fully realized Deinonj cyborg technology. Why Karras, a human, had been the one to finally survive a bond with a Deinonj graft, neither the Godhead or Faust knew, but the fact was that he was currently the only being in the galaxy that could end the lockdown on Earth.

This, of course, required the complete activation of Karras’ arm, as the locks around the south pole would not accept anything less than complete integration of technology that had been lost to all of the current generation of Deinonj (save Faust, of course). Karras, as he had noted as the beginning of the discussion, had buried the link to the power of the Deinonj arm under layers and layers of mental conditioning, behind blocks that would only be unlocked in the most dire of circumstances – such as when DuPont had nearly murdered Karras the week before.

With the sequencing for the cross-galactic portal entering its final minutes, SHOGAN challenged Karras to a duel that would, one way or another, decide the fate of Mars.

And it would be an understatement to say that SHOGAN got a whole lot more than he bargained for.

The Karras of a month prior would not have been more than a roadbump for the Godhead of Despair. A week prior might have put up a spirited, if short, defense. But here, SHOGAN realized he had been lied to be Faust – the conditions required to unlock the arm’s true power were not despair or fear of death – they were rage. SHOGAN, a being of such immense power and influence, had been working covertly with Mr. X and Faust to engineer a cross-galactic showdown that would ultimately culminate at the Duox ringworlds several years later. However, given that neither of these beings trusted the other further than they could kick them, it was only a matter of time until they maneuvered one or the other into a position of weakness. And Karras, realizing just how thoroughly he had been manipulated over the past decade, coupled with Bateau’s treacherous error and the enormous threat to his friends and all of Mars, reached such a boiling point of anger that he punched what was perhaps the second or third most physically powerful being in the universe a mile into the air.

Everyone on Neo York paused for a half a moment when the two titans unfurled the extent of their power above the miles-wide portal in the center of the city. Ian and Rickson, working together for the first time in twenty years, could see the light from the depths of the reactor room of the D-Net uplink. Wall, who was currently fighting three Juggernauts (and had, along the way, lit himself on fire to gain any conceivable advantage he could), could see his partner trading blows whose shockwaves shattered glass a hundreds of miles away. SHOGAN was now fighting for not only his life, but the integrity of the portal, which Karras very well had the power to disable at the moment. The pair sliced off section of spacescrapers to use as psionic bludgeons, the electric grid was drained in sections for near-lethal bolts of lighting, and the rain falling from the sky was instantly frozen into swarms of trillions of ice daggers.

Fletcher, leading his own platoon of NUA soldiers, took advantage of the Godhead’s shifted focus to lead an assault on a section of bio-turrets defending a focusing node of the intergalactic portal. Casualties were near-total, but the Meister managed to complete the push, barely escaping being dusted by the cannons. At the same time, Wall, Rickson, and Smith managed to work with Trego’s AIs to disable the Sol D-Net. This was the moment the absolutely massive Union overfleet waiting in the Oort Cloud had been waiting for, and the only thing that preceded their slipstream hop in system was a massive barrage of superluminal missiles.

The vanguard of the Seccarian Empire and the combined might of the Galactic Union closed in high orbit over Luna. Initial casualties were brutal on the side of the Union, with the shield-bypassing bio-cannons neutralizing entire battlegroups with wide-beam sweeps. The Seccarian commander left in charge of SAFE’s tactical operation, a brutish being codenamed during the Black Campaigns as Charon, was drawn in by the losses sustained by Trego’s fleet and, failing to realize his positioning, allowed himself to be trapped in the gravity well of the moon. By the time Charon realized his predicament, he struck against the Union fleets’ Earthward flank, a juicy target that continually absorbed the punishment SAFE levelled against it, fighting off attackers five times their numbers. With each push, Charon could practically taste victory. But still the flank held, with SAFE forces beginning to be culled off through attrition and overwhelming ordnance.

With victory seemingly just moments away, Charon committed a large section of SAFE towards the Earthward flank of the Union lines. With every reinforcement his subcommanders could get their hands on, SAFE was left split down the middle by a thin line of defences and encircled by hundreds of drifting, seemingly dead battleships.

Trego had not just spent the previous week on his hands, building the fleet outside Sol. More than half the fleet were outfitted as drone ships, run almost entirely by high-level AIs, rigged to play dead when they were hitting with a cavalcade of bio-cannon fire. Charon, employing a strategy that would see much use during the oncoming war, issued forth infiltration AIs and boarding parties with the intent of capturing and employing the ‘dead’ ships as reinforcements, realized that he had been played a second too late to coalesce his scattered forces. Floundering in the gravity well of the moon with their maneuverability limited, SAFE could do little as Trego engaged his elusive white whale for the final time in over forty years. However, to truly dispatch SAFE without the battle becoming as bloody as the climaxes of the Ark/ISA War or the Civil War, Trego would need the defensive net rebooted with command privileges in the hands of the Union.

Meanwhile, on the surface, despite the sheer strength awarded to Karras, it was still not enough to overcome the might of the Godhead of Despair. Faust, noticing this, decided to set free one of the last loose ends he had needed to tie up – Aegir DuPont. The Meister had been forgotten and left imprisoned underneath the city since the start of the invasion with a dozen news feeds left on, forcing him to confront the consequences of his heist for going on a week. When Faust struck DuPont’s bonds, SHOGAN and Karras had crashed into the defense hangar stationed just outside one of the portal’s focusing nodes, with the Godhead poised to cripple Karras for the teleportation to Antarctica.

It could not have worked out in a more perfect fashion for Faust and Mr. X. DuPont intervened just as SHOGAN was about to claim victory, launching a near-suicidal assault that managed to immobilize the Godhead with a display of slipstream mastery that has not been duplicated by a psion to this day. Knowing the ensuing the detonation would level everything in a couple kilometres, DuPont took one last moment to teleport Karras, and Fletcher, who had come to his teammate’s assistance, over to Antarctica. The cross-planetary jump strained the web of slipstreams DuPont had woven around SHOGAN, and just as DuPont had expected and planned, he was yanked by the rubber-band effect of the contracting slipstreams right into the center of the convergence.

DuPont and SHOGAN exploded, taking with them a critical chunk of the intergalactic portal. The resulting destabilization rippled across the constructed circle, stopping the potential Seccarian invasion through Sol in its tracks. In orbit, without the guiding support of the Godhead’s will and influence, SAFE began to falter and finally collapse on itself. Overstretched and surrounded by drone vessels immune to the biological cannons, Charon made a last ditch chance to scatter his forces across various slipstreams. However Trego, having learned from the conclusion of the battle with Alerton several years before, deployed temporary slipstream jammers – interdiction technology that had only just been developed the year before – to ensure that SAFE would have nowhere to run this time.

Little of this mattered for the wounded pair of Meisters as they emerged onto a Seccarian excavation site a planet away. Fleeing from the subarctic temperature and howling winds to plunge into the facility, Karras deactivated the lockdown on Earth simply by passing through the front gates of the Deinonj outpost. This set into play a flurry of activity on the part of Mr. X, who had been keenly tracking Karras’ progress through a subdermal implant that had been installed following the agent’s capture hours previous. With the centuries-long lockdown ended, Mr. X point-teleported in his third trusted agent to receive the Meisters.

Karras and Fletcher quickly discovered the lockdown had not prevented Seccarian drones from exploring the interior of the base and, after a brief firefight, the Meisters were driven, battered and bloody, into an elevator that led into the very nadir of the underground fortress. The only weapon the pair had left between them was a Seccarian pocket nuke that Fletcher had recovered from the Seccarian mining outpost.

Karras and Fletcher, at rest for the first time in days, discussed what would happen if one of them didn’t make it out. Animosity had run high between the agents since Karras had quit the Storm Commandos, and it was here that Karras made his peace with Fletcher.

The elevator opened, Fletcher took a step out, and his head exploded. Karras could barely dive into cover before the armor-clad assailant let loose with a withering burst of fire to discover what secrets the inner core of the Deinonj facility was hiding.

The first was a holographic representation of the galaxy with every abandoned Deinonj and Seccarian facility spread across the Milky Way labelled. The implication was clear – the Seccarians weren’t invading, they were returning. And not only that, but the ambusher lying in wait was finishing his download and wipe of the revealed coordinates, having bypasses the drones altogether and beaten the Meisters to the core.

Secondly, and most importantly, below the tiny platform overhanging a vast expanse, a three-mile wide portal had been constructed deep beneath the arctic ice and out of notice of any Union sensors.

The unknown attacker advanced on Karras, who had close to nowhere to hide. Choosing to rush his opponent, Karras tackled him to the floor and shattered the man’s helmet to reveal his older brother.

T. “Acheron” Karras had served with distinction during the ISA/Ark war, perishing during the slaughter at Locklear X. Karras had always held his brother in the highest esteem, believing that he had died to allow Atmos to escape the planet. History and reality, however, diverge at this point, as Acheron escaped the planet to fall into with separatist forces by the time the war drew to a close. Rising up through the underground ranks and making a name for himself as a freelance troubleshooter, Acheron was contracted into the employ of Admiral Alerton during the Galactic Civil War, serving roughly the same function as Ian Smith did to Bateau and CTI. It was only in the aftermath of Alerton’s death that former Minuteman was exclusively contracted as the main operative for the shadowy figure in the Union government known to CTI as Mr. X.

To say that Acheron saw murdering Atmos to clean up the final loose end was business would not be far from the truth. To say that Atmos saw the pillar of his moral framework working for the traitor SHOGAN had alluded towards broke the Meister in a way the Godhead could never dream would also not be off mark.

The two brothers fought thousands of feet above SHOGAN’s backup portal, and Karras knew that the only way to prevent SAFE from completing its goal of securing the Milky Way was a one-way trip with the pocket nuke. Crash-tackling Acheron off the platform, Karras and his brother plunged through the portal just as it activated-

-To the very edge of the Milky Way, where SHOGAN had lurked for forty years, and where the entire Seccarian military had long since gathered while SAFE made a distracting run on Sol. SHOGAN, of course, had not spent the last few decades crafting his plan to not have a back-up solution in place – the second his portal over Mars was destroyed, the portal he had built on the galactic fringe would activate. The Emperor and the remaining eleven Godheads had crossed the distance between the Milky Way and Andromeda and were now home.

Acheron, realizing Karras’ plan, dislocated both of his brother’s shoulders, wrested away control of the bomb and, on the floor of the massive entry station the Seccarians had built, lobbed the nuclear bomb back through the portal. The ensuing blast short circuited the connection, preventing the Emperor from leaping across the galaxy proper and destroying any evidence of the Deinonj map room. This left Karras alone, on the edge of the galaxy, and in enemy hands once more. This time, however, there would be no rescue brigade, no cavalry beaming insystem. He was on his own.

The masterful near-total tactical defeat of SAFE allowed Trego and Bateau to secure their positions in the chaos following the recapture of Mars, but knowledge of the disastrous plan that had led to the Siege was discovered by Wall. This led to a massive rift in the power structure of CTI, with both sides unable to truly act against the other. Trego and Bateau were ingrained and indispensable to the Union, while Wall, in the aftermath of the battle, made key alliances with the sole surviving member of the Scorpian Royal Line and the only Meister capable of physically matching him – The Prince of Sahad.

The galaxy had been put on notice, but there was little time to examine the aftermath of SAFE attack or even feel the aftershocks.

Not ten hours after the advance fleet was eradicated, the Seccarian Empire declared war on the Galactic Union, laying waste to three entire Frok’Tar sectors and destroying trillions of lives.

The Twin Galaxies War had begun.
SHADOW TEMPEST BLACK || STB2: MIDNIGHT PARADOX
The day our skys fe||, the heavens split to create new skies.

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Mobius 1
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Re: General Storyline

Post by Mobius 1 » Wed Aug 21, 2013 10:54 pm

The Twin Galaxies War
The War to End All Wars – 2612-2621

The year is 2622, and the galaxy has been at war for a decade. Quadrillions are dead, and the Union government is in retreat, the military in tatters. Grudges tens of thousands of years old mean nothing in the face of extragalactic invasion. The Seccarian Empire, with plans spanning fifty thousand years, is on the cusp of finally achieving its ultimate goals, and the surviving heroes of the Union are none the wiser.

The Twin Galaxies War served as the last major conflict in a century that was practically defined by continual warfare. The war saw the death of nearly a quarter of the Milky Way’s population, either through conquest or plague and the near-dissolution of the Union government several times over. It was only through the sheer force of personality of several individuals that the galaxy’s faction held themselves together in the face of complete annihilation. All the conflicts preceding – the Black Campaigns, the Ark/ISA War, the Galactic Civil War – they all laid the foundation of the Twin Galaxies War as a final, climactic showdown – the war to end all wars.

Initial stages of the conflict were disastrous to the Union. Vastly outmatched by the Seccarian weapons – specifically designed to bypass shields and destroy organic flesh – and shields – built to withstand a tremendous amount of punishment – the Union had to pull out every trick and trap in order to just play a delaying action against an enemy that seemingly knew every slipstream and local quirk, neutralizing any home court advantage. The situation, for Trego, the Supreme Commander of the Union Army throughout the war, was uncomfortably close to the war he had thought a few decades earlier against the ISA – except this time he was on the opposite side, with an enemy that did not nearly give as much quarter as Trego himself had.

The Frok’tar Empire, home of the sprawling corporate houses and enclaves, was the central battleground of the war for several years and retrospectively performed the best against the invaders. With vast armies of robotic soldiers, automated ships, and unmanned defences, the Frok’tar houses managed to lock up the weight of at least seven Godheads for six years in a vicious war of attrition. Here, soldiers made their names in the Emerald Sieges, with the Meisters Wall and the Scorpian Prince assisting Admiral Degio in orchestrating a vast defensive front that bought enough time for the Union to establish a line of construction infrastructure fuelled by a never-ending stream of refugues. This wall along the Ark/Frok’tar border was later known as somewhat jokingly as the Hadrian Line, due to an offhand comment by General Sam Grissom during a factory tour.

The front based along the ISA border to the galactic west fared significantly worse – having never faced the brunt of the ISA/Ark war, the region hadn’t seen true conflict since the centuries-old ISA/Scorpian War. Moreover, the space was largely comprised on unincorporated territory – regions that had refused to join the Union after the Isa/Ark war or had never been under the ISA’s umbrella of influence to begin with. These systems fell quickly to a pair of Godheads, and the resulting sectors formed the core of the Seccarian foothold in the Milky Way. Trillions died within the first two years, and the stronghold allowed the Seccarians to launch a never-ending series of incursion into the heart of human space. With a large bulk of Union forces still lingering in the territories after the Siege of Mars, hundreds of bloody battles were fought above these fortress worlds.

Having built up a massive defensive network during the finals days of the war with Trego and the Tyrax, the ISA core planets were able to withstand years of sieges, with some systems – like Sol, New Cal, or the Atlantis training complex – never bowing the weight of the Seccarian advance. However, for those that fell, the blow was all the worse to the Union – trillions died in days, with influxes of trillions more refugees suddenly straining the dwindling logistical base of the Union.

The core of the galaxy, which called home hundreds of critical slipstream routes and the O’Neil cylinder – Concordis – that housed the Union seat of government – saw the most blood and battle out of any other region of the galaxy, with the Seccarian Godheads making no less than seven assaults on Concordis – all of them repulsed by the Union Home Fleet in some of the few decisive victories in the war. No matter where else the Seccarians claimed as their own, the soldiers guarding Concordis vowed that the capital would never be counted amongst that total.

The Godheads of the Seccarian Empire were in part analogous to the Ark’s pre-Union Warmasters: the primary rulers of the Seccarian territory beyond the Emperor’s home domain. Comparatively, however, they did not enjoy the vast degree of autonomy the Warmasters in the relation to the Conclave. Each Godhead’s mantle was a portion of the Emperor’s power and as such defined the Godheads as extensions of the Emperor’s will. While Godhead each had unique personalities and styles – beyond the immortal thirteenth Godhead, Null – acting outside of the Emperor’s interests was beyond impossible. This fact, of course, made SHOGAN’s twisted logical loops that allowed him to operate out of the Emperor’s jurisdiction and oversight all the more impressive – he ultimately did not break the letter of the Emperor’s law.

Godhead’s power varied from vassal to vassal, but each was more than capable of laying waste to an entire fleet should they truly access their mantle and take to the battlefield. Moreover, the mere presence of a Godhead on a battlefield created a meld between all Seccarian soldiers, increasing their effectiveness tenfold. Simply by standing near the rear of an engagement a Godhead could ensure victory, and Union forces could always tell them one was on the field. Even beyond the simple buff their presence provided, Godheads were able to debilitate any psion within a light-minute, grinding to a halt any special operations Union commanders based on the humans’ powers. If that was not enough, within around a lightsecond of any Godhead slipstreams bent, creating an interdiction field that prevented any beleaguered Union forces from fleeing the vastly shifted situation.

That said, the Union was more than capable of innovating methods to combat that enemy that outclassed them in untold ways. Come five years into the war, in coordination with Virgil’s AI democracy the Union managed to tune all deflector shields to withstand the Seccarian bio-cannons. This was, put simply, a coup, allowing an absolutely massive counterattack for the first time in the war. With Seccarian vessels initially ill-equipped to fight the Union fleets, hundreds of lightyears were regained within months, and it was not until the Seccarians returned with mounted autolasers that they were able to fight on equal footing again.

However, the balance of power had equalized, which led to the Godheads releasing their trump card – the white plague. With multiple vectors – not just limited to aerial transmission but unique propagation along memetic routes such as electronic communication as a tone – long, undetectable incubation times and an incredibly ability to continuously evolve, the White Plague was the single worst outbreak the galaxy had seen in its history. The ‘smart’ disease resisted any and all attempts to engineer a cure or vaccine while constantly developing novel new vectors – the white ‘tone’ along Union broadcasts led to the death of two quadrillion people in a week and nearly collapsed the Union defensive front in its entirety. With the civilian government preoccupied with quarantine, Trego could no longer depend on Chairman Jaral wrangling cooperation across tens of thousands of lightyears, with sectors closing their borders and the logistical flow of support shrivelling to a thin trickle. While the military situation an intense stalemate, it was all the Union could do not to collapse from within.

This shift in focus allowed the Seccarian forces to focus on their true goal within the Milky Way. Intelligence coming from behind enemy lines told of the Seccarians scouring the galaxy for ancient artifacts – anything over fifty thousand years old. While some of the discovered installations were known to the Union, plenty were not. Each investigation lasted months and usually ended with a permanent establishment being built around the artefact, diluting the weight the Seccarians brought to bear against the sieges lines. In addition, the majority of incursions led by the Godheads were small, swift, surgically targeted strikes; no longer aimed at conquest but at uncovering and securing – or, in some cases, stealing – ancient artifacts. This behaviour had not been seen since Agnar’s initial campaigns against the ISA at the outset of his war with the ISA, and Trego recognized it immediately. This allowed some degree of predictability to the Seccarian attacks and gave Trego the forewarning necessary to reinforce known artifacts, no matter how seemingly insignificant. These traps served as mode of conflict for the next several years in an uneasy stalemate.

That is, until the fall of the Frok’tar Empire. After years of tinkering, the White Plague reached its final stage, aping the animation viruses employed sporadically by more despotic Warmasters during the ISA/War. Animated corpses, numbering in the billions, swamped the interior of Frok’tar space. To a degree, Degio was able to contain the outbreaks in the same ruthless fashion he had combatted the White Plague for years. What he was not ready for, however, was the electronic transmission method of the White Plague evolving to invade the automated forces of the Frok’tar houses favoured. When several quadrillion battle droid, the most feared and accomplished force in the war, turned overnight, the long-held defensive line collapsed. The only recourse Degio had in those desparate hours preceding the Seccarian onslaught was to transmit a final deactivation code across a dozen sectors, frying the rampaging droids in their tracks. This left the entirety of Frok’tar territory ripe for the plunder.

Over the past several years Degio had employed the ISA method of constructing layered fallback defences behind his front, and despite their vastly decreased effectiveness Degio was able to create an ordered retreat out of a potentially fatal rout. With the constructed refugee colonies empty along the interior of Union territory, incoming civilians did not lack space to occupy, though it was only through an incredibly intrusive inspection process instituted by Alton Nureno (Jaral’s vastly influential consigliere) that the Union didn’t suffer a disastrous new outbreak of the White Plague.

The comparatively miniscule remnants of the Scorpian Empire, under the leadership of the Prince of Sahad, covered Degio’s retreat in what is perhaps the most legendary holding action of the war. With the few million remaining brethren the Prince had, he and Wall were able to save quadrillions of lives and ultimately assassinate two Godheads in the near-mythical Battle of Odyssey V. Never had two Godheads fallen in the same battle, and although the Union as a whole had managed to kill four Godheads thusfar in the war, the mantle always passed to the most worthy Seccarian in the vicinity (Null, as far as CTI could tell, was the only original Godhead from the era of their creation, and contact with the thirteenth Godhead had been sporadic at best). Here, in open combat, Wall and the Prince managed to use pinpoint singularity missiles to take down the Godheads for good and destroy their mantles with them.

With the Godhead of Fugue consigned to oblivion, the fearsome evolutionary prowess of the White Plague fell to manageable levels. In a joint collaboration between the Councillor of Galactic Health, the AI Democracy, Alton Nureno, and CTI, a combination EMP/vaccine was developed weeks after the Godhead’s deletion. Through Nureno’s vast powers of organization the vaccine was distribution amongst the remaining holdings of the Union. Combined with the Scorpian defense, WHITELIGHT was the foremost symbol of a resurgent Union, the simple emblem on a box of vaccine enough to inspire hope galaxy-wide. In the Union’s greatest defeat Jaral and Bateau were able to engineer the greatest morale victory in the entire war, transforming what could have been the straw that broke the camel’s back to a moment that allowed the Union to hold on for years more.

All technological disparity swept aside, all virulent distractions dealt with, the galaxy split firmly down the middle, the conflict entered its final and most violent stage – total war. Freed of all diversions, Trego was able to organize one last counterattack and the beginning of the final offensive. The Christmas Day speech of 2610 on the steps of the Concordis Congress will be studied and repeated for centuries, while the Seccarians heard the message loud clear across the galaxy – you had your chance and lost your momentum. This was the beginning of the end.

How right Trego was.


Next up - INFERNO, the grand finale to Total Extinction.
SHADOW TEMPEST BLACK || STB2: MIDNIGHT PARADOX
The day our skys fe||, the heavens split to create new skies.

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