Session 8 17

The path to Sol is blocked, the wormhole walled off.
Zinda Tegram: "….Huh."
It is not completely opaque; Spyboy has no problem getting radio traffic through.
Zinda Tegram: "Well, back through Chandley then?"
But moving ships, or any other physical matter through, will be tougher.
Spyboy: "Lieutenant Pierson to Terran Command."
Spyboy: "We are requesting deactivation of the shield to allow VIPs passage."
TerraTrafficControl: "Sorry, but the wormhole clamshell may only be opened on concurred authority of two or more admirals."
Spyboy: "Understood, passing two Admirals through."
TerraTrafficControl: "Assuming this isn't another Nephilim tri-"
Spyboy: "Admiral Bounty, Paladin, if you would…."
Abraham: "This is Admiral Abraham Bounty requesting the wormhole clamshell be opened."
TerraTrafficControl: "…don't say that so casually as if you just have two Admirals lying abo-"
[OOC] Metis: This is why Metis should be an Admiral. She's already a princess, what could it hurt?
Zinda Tegram frowns.
Zinda Tegram: "We do."
Paladin: "This is Paladin. Open th' bloody gate, NOW!"
Metis: "Though they are standing about."
Spyboy: "They're not lying about, they're the VIPs we were talking about."
[OOC] Abraham: Conflict of interest to be royalty in one country and an officer in another's.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Yeah
TerraTrafficControl: "…err. A-authenticated. Openingclamshellnow!"
[OOC] Metis: I don't have to be a Confed Admiral. They never specified.
Abraham: "And I do resent the implication that I am lying about."
[OOC] Abraham: I rarely lie. And when I do I am never caught.
Slowly, the shell retracts from over the wormhole.
Once more, Earth is visible through the hole.
Abraham: "Thank you."
Paladin: "An' summon th' council. We've got an important proposition t' debate."
Spyboy: "Once more, we show that you get more with a kind word and a two by four than you do with just a two by four."
Paladin: "Tell 'em we may 'ave a diplomatic solution to th' Nephilim problem."
Paladin: "Aye. But keep that two by four 'andy."
[OOC] Abraham: We're proposing that all androids must dream of electronic sheep.
Metis: "What does the two by four do?"
Spyboy: "Aye aye, sir."
Paladin: "I t'ink th' legend goes, forcible injection o' common sense?"
Abraham: "Ultimately, it exists."
Abraham: "Metaphorically."
Zinda Tegram: "There's no common sense in our situation."
Abraham: "Scant, to be sure. Something of a premium."
[OOC] Spyboy: Other considered plans: asking the Nephilim to open a wormole one jump away from Sol, asking the Nephilim to open a wormhole around Mars, asking the Nephilim to open a wormhole one kilometer away from the clamshell.
[OOC] Abraham: And BRB
Spyboy: "Sure there is."
Spyboy: "Common sense just means 'things that I don't understand why you don't agree with me."
Spyboy: "I expect lots of that."
Paladin: "Alright. Fleet, set course and disperse once in Terra orbit. Admiral Bounty, sending coordinates for th' council grounds. You an' yer crew've not been t' this system before, right?"
[OOC] WC GM: Yeah, there were a bunch of ways around it. You can tell they were panicing.
Spyboy: "Neither B-4 nor I have, sir."
The coordinates come with an unusually detailed map of the area. Even if this world is technically alien to those who are seeing the map, the planet having been inhabited for thousands of years does lead to very thorough surveys.
Metis: "I have limited travel experience."
In this case, the destination is a flatland to one side of a hilly area at the north end of a peninsula, labeled San Francisco.
[OOC] Spyboy: So, not somewhere anyone here would be familiar with. Certainly not the GM. He doesn't live close to there at all.
Zinda Tegram finds her armor and starts making sure it's clean and shiny.
Spyboy gets out dress uniform and checks with regs to see if he's due any additional shiny for it.
Heggy gets out her own dress uniform and fixes how Spyboy is wearing his.
[OOC] WC GM: Note that the administrative center is in DC, but they're having this conference a continent away.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Well, yeah, they're concerned about me.
[OOC] WC GM: Since, y'know, nervousness about the Nephilim and how Earth was bombarded not that many years ago, back in 2668.
Zinda Tegram considers growing some ceremonial honor guard slithers.
Zinda Tegram pulls up the honor guard regulations.
The regulations are vast and complex, but a small honor guard is allowable. The regulations say nothing about whether one would be wise.
Metis wears clothes. Because.
Zinda Tegram sighs and resolves to bring a single slither. In a full body suit of armor concealing it.
The craters of Chicago, Boston, Paris, Kiev, and Tripoli are easily visible from orbit…as are the reconstruction efforts.
Zinda Tegram whistles.
Zinda Tegram: "Did something happen?"
Metis: "Probably; those do not appear to be natural craters."
Spyboy: "Yeah. The Terran-Kilrathi War."
Paladin: "Aye. Th' kilrathi did. Fortunately they got driven off 'fore they could do more."
Paladin: "They were gearin' up t' come back when we took out their planet. Two days later an'…"
Paladin sighs.
Metis: "And there would be more craters?"
Spyboy: "More craters, yes. Less reconstruction efforts, also yes."
Paladin: "An' there might not be an Earth. They didn' 'ave Temblors, but they did 'ave sufficient nuclear weapons."
Spyboy: "Destroying a planet is very difficult. Rendering it uninhabitable, on the other hand - considerably less so."
Spyboy: "But then, we saw that on Asago when your director of Intelligence had her way with things."
Zinda Tegram glances back.
Zinda Tegram: "That one was only uninhabitable because of Confed greed."
Paladin: "Yeh. Th' reports say Earth'd be destroyed, but I always thought th' reporters didn'a 'ave a good sense of scale."
Spyboy: "…Right. Whatever you say."
The flight down to the surface is uncontested, though what awaits on the surface…
There is no place in the Hawking sector that is nearly as densely populated as Earth's major cities. Towering skyscrapers, crowded mass transit…fortunately, the designated meeting grounds are set back from the mass of population. But even Zinda's slitherers at their most prolific would barely match the sea of humanity seen as you descend - and certainly they could not cover hundreds of square kilometers at that density.
Zinda Tegram whistles.
[OOC] Spyboy: Thinking about the Martian Marine in the Expanse right now.
Zinda Tegram: "Wow…"
Metis: "There certainly are a lot of people. Do they need that many people?"
Abraham: "Humans have a higher birth rate than death rate most of the time. So after a while we accumulate."
The grounds themselves have statues and plaques and flags and many displays of honor, in an open park surrounding a central covered auditorium. A brilliant light display flanking the front entrance is marred slightly by spatial warping suggesting cloaked security (which Spyboy's fighter's sensors easily confirm), giving the appearance of the front doors being guarded by a pair of angry rainbows ready to scour any troublemakers.
[OOC] WC GM: It's not quite the Orbital Friendship Cannon, but close enough.
Metis: "That does not seem efficient. Or does this system have unlimited support facilities?"
Spyboy is clearly keeping an eye on Zinda, not the guards. He has direct neural interface with sensor systems for that.
Spyboy: "Efficiency is not the point."
Spyboy: "Efficiency requires planning."
Metis: "…that does not make sense."
Abraham: "And coordination."
Zinda Tegram walks ahead with her armored Slither to her side and slightly behind her.
Delegates are streaming into the auditorium, but a small detachment of marines melts out of the crowd to escort the Hawking delegation inside.
Marine: "Any guns, swords, or the like please leave in your ships. This is a no-weapons zone."
Metis: "Zinda, what do I count as?"
Zinda Tegram: "…Even yours? Heh, it's fine."
Zinda Tegram: "Metis, you're not a gun or a sword."
Abraham has already divested himself of his sidearm.
Spyboy is armed with his computer, not a gun.
Zinda Tegram unclips her torch and hands it to the Marine. Her slither unclips Roseblood's sword.
Marine: "We'll be patrolling outside." The marine accepts the weapons. "We'll secure these near…"
While the marine is wearing a visor that obstructs the eyes, you are quite certain the marine blinked.
Marine: "Is that a boarding torch?!? I haven't seen one in years. I heard all the makers left for…Old Sigh, or something."
Zinda Tegram: "Please be careful with it. It's precious to me."
Metis: "…Oldziey."
Zinda Tegram gives the Marine a deadly serious look.
Marine: "Oldziey, that was it. Waaaay out of the way. You certainly must travel far to collect your gear."
Zinda Tegram: "…I am the Queen of Oldziey."
The marine just looks at Zinda, then at a datapad. "…HAWKING delegation. Right. Sorry, ma'am. If you'll proceed, I'll make sure your equipment is unharmed and waiting for your return."
Zinda Tegram: "Thank you."
Zinda Tegram continues inside.
Metis proceeds behind Zinda.
Spyboy follows.
Abraham take the rear, delayed by some minor administrative functions on The Roland.
Inside, there are several semicircular rows of seats, descending to a floor which hosts an extensive raised podium, with a large viewscreen dominating the wall behind. Currently, the viewscreen shows a map of the Hubble and Ladyman quadrants, with brief notes on each system.
Spyboy wonders if word went up the chain and the map has been updated with the connected systems.
There is no sign of that currently.
There is also no sign of weapons detectors; a close observation sees a few delegates having what might be concealed firearms, but each one carefully positioned to avoid casual observation and/or be dismissable as something else.
Metis: "…this place is as 'weapon's free' as a gunboat."
Spyboy: "It happens."
Currently, the delegates are milling around, apparently waiting on late arrivals. Very few are seated. Paladin is visible at the podium, briefing a small, near-impenetrable crowd.
Spyboy: "[Besides, it's not like we can't improvise if we have to. Zinda's already got a slither.]"
[OOC] WC GM: What Do You Do?
[OOC] WC GM: …if we were doing formalized social combat this would be turn 1.
Zinda Tegram sits down.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Let Paladin take the lead.
Abraham goes an mingles with people he hasn't seen since before he became admiral.
Spyboy starts moving through the groups, trying to get a feel for how people feel.
Spyboy rolled up 4dF: 0 + - - (Base: 7 Total: 6) (Charm if needed.)
[OOC] Metis: I am here to make Zinda look good, to acquire all new data, and to run the kitchen out of ice cream. That last one might count as an aspect. Maybe.
[OOC] Abraham: Social Combat turn one is always mingle. That way, when it degenerates into unsocial combat, you're surrounded by shields made of meat.
[OOC] WC GM: Fair enough, but what specifically do you do toward that end? Zinda's sitting down and no one's coming forward to interact with her.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: It's a council room, right?
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: There's going to be like, a formal process I imagine.
[OOC] WC GM: Right. If you've ever seen the US Senate or House, or any place like those, it's basically that.
[OOC] Spyboy: Zinda's building up her intimidating aura, no?
[OOC] WC GM: There is…but the formal process is a formality.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Yeah, basically. She's just watching, getting a sense of the procedures here.
[OOC] WC GM: Still waiting on Metis's specific action.
[OOC] Spyboy: She's placing an Aspect: Cute With Ice Cream.
[OOC] Metis: …the senate is a bit better than the house of lords. No specific action right now.
[OOC] Metis: Other than 'sitting down by Zinda', which isn't an Action action.
[OOC] WC GM: …it kind of is, in this case.
[OOC] WC GM: But anyway, sitting with her and observing? Going with that…
[OOC] Abraham: Acquiring targeting data.
Zinda and Metis have no personal experience with this kind of situation. It is easy to observe cliques forming and people talking; overhearing them would require going after specific groups, but most of the ones closest seem to be split between coming up to speed on the systems being discussed and talking about matters apparently completely unrelated to the issue at hand.
Abraham and Spyboy have been here, and know that these discussions are where opinion forming starts - and sometimes ends, meaning this stage can be critical to winning the subsequent votes.
[OOC] Spyboy: I'm currently following the Caiphas Cain strategy for making sure a legal decision goes your way.
[OOC] Spyboy: Make sure that the people making the legal decision agree with you before they decide.
Abraham in particular is asked pointed questions about the sector's reasons for wanting independence, and whether he would intend to stay with them.
[OOC] Abraham: Tell them to vote your way in the emperor's name?
Zinda Tegram watches where Paladin goes.
[OOC] Spyboy: Nah, since when it comes up, it's people in his direct career field and with his same rank that are involved.
Spyboy is relatively anonymous, and as such easily infiltrates groups trying to decide whether the matter is treason and revolt against the Confederation or whether there is something more to it.
Abraham: "Will I stay with them should they gain independence? At least for a couple of years to make sure things are running properly, yes I think so."
Paladin does not seem to be going anywhere, though he looks like he wishes he could. More and more people keep showing up to add to the solidity of the ring of people trapping him at the podium.
Zinda Tegram heads over to Paladin to see if she can break him out.
Spyboy starts very, very subtly supporting the 'something more' members of groupings - and moving to other groupings and very UN-subtly supporting the 'treason' factions…as someone who is visibly an outsider trying to manipulate them.
Spyboy rolled up 4dF: 0 + + 0 (Base: 7 Total: 9) (Charm if needed again.)
Admiral Kappa, who Abraham remembers having been famously and casually overrun while attempting to reestablish containment of some raiders, counters Abraham's response with, "And then? Having been with a foreign power for two years, do you think we would welcome you back?"
[OOC] Spyboy: "Wouldn't care. Retired."
Abraham: "So you're saying that you would rather another country permanently have my experience and expertise? That can be arranged, if you really want it I suppose."
Paladin makes eye contact with Zinda as she approaches, then looks at the ring around him. "…and here she is now. Ladies and gentlemen, might I introduce my FRIEND, the Queen of Oldziey, Zinda Tegram."
Zinda Tegram nods politely.
That gets them to part enough for Zinda (and Metis, should she wish) to approach.
Zinda Tegram: "Ladies. Gentlemen."
[OOC] Abraham: "Sentients of all ages"
Kappa: "I'm saying I would rather there not be yet another country. Hmph, we should never have given the Border Worlds independence."
Zinda Tegram extends a hand to whoever chooses to take it.
[OOC] Abraham: Mind control pheromones up?
A few delegates shake her hand. Zinda can feel being assessed, in ways only remotely similar to combat assessment by someone contemplating hand to hand in the very near future.
Zinda Tegram: "So, some of you wished to meet me?"
Zinda Tegram: "I assume my friend here has told you of our intentions, then?"
Spyboy eventually finds one of the pro-treason camp staring down her nose at him. "Excuse me, and you are? Even if it's treason we should just find them guilty by law, not shoot all of them."
Paladin: "I'd summarized, but I think they'd like to hear it in your words, if you could?"
Zinda Tegram: "I see."
Paladin: "Make sure to include the bit about making peace wit' the nephilim."
Zinda Tegram opens her mouth, pauses, and exhales.
[OOC] Metis: "In our words? Ah. You done bungled this as badly as can be managed, and we'd rather starve alone with pointed sticks in our eyes than work under you any more. We mean this in a very caring way."
From the sudden silence around Zinda and Paladin, it is apparent that Paladin had not yet gotten to that part.
Zinda Tegram: "We in the Hawking Confederation have amicable diplomatic ties with the Nephilim homeworld."
Several delegates stare openly at Zinda, as if she were claiming to be a sentient hypercube.
Spyboy pulls up her face and highlight of her voting record.
[OOC] Spyboy: To be fair, Zinda is at this point a sentient hypercube.
Zinda Tegram: "Admiral Bounty, in particular, is considered to be a major religious figure. My daughter, in turn, is considered as a sort of Messiah. Personally, I find this disquieting, but I am sure you see that we could probably smooth things over."
[OOC] Spyboy: Blah blah pheromones.
Zinda Tegram: "I believe they would be quite pleased, particularly, with scientific aid. Their epistemology is, well, terrible."
Metis: "If anything, that understates the case."
Zinda Tegram: "We, of course, have our own agenda, as I am sure Paladin told you."
Zinda Tegram: "The Oldziey people will never accept Confederation rule, and as their queen I am bound to execute their will."
The delegate in front of Spyboy, one Asura Domikon, is firmly in the conservative and human supremacist branch, voting for harsh restrictions on integrating alien races. She actually voted against accepting the Kilrathi Empire's surrender.
One of the delegates around Zinda raises a hand slightly awkwardly. "But…Oldziey is a Confederation system. How can it not accept the rule it already has?"
[OOC] Abraham: So wait, did Zinda just admit that she intends to kill the will of the Oldziey people?
Spyboy coughs slightly.
Zinda Tegram: "Oldziey hasn't been a confederation system for over 40 years. This is just formalizing the current state of affairs."
Zinda Tegram: "We've been self-ruled since before the Kilrah war."
Spyboy: "Ah, Ms. Domikon. I apologize for perhaps misrepresenting my position. I understand you and I may have slightly differing views."
Zinda Tegram: "We fought off a confederation incursion prior to its outbreak. I personally fought in the conflict."
Zinda Tegram: "With all due respect, delegate, you invaded us."
Spyboy: "Given your views on the end of the Terran-Kilrathi war, you may find speaking with the person who first established communications with the Nephilim to be a bit…"
Delegate: "Eh??? But…but…" The delegate pulls up a datapad with Oldziey's record in the Colonization Bureau. "…right here. See? Oldziey's a Confederation system and always has been."
Spyboy: "Still, rounding up tens of billions of people, sentencing them to death…"
Spyboy: "….Seems very economically unfeasible."
Spyboy: "If you want, there's an organization that tried a similar method. You may have heard of them."
Asura: "Hmph! Don't misrepresent them by calling them 'people'."
Zinda Tegram: "During the Kilrah war, our jump point was mined and a series of, well, you'd call them warlords took de facto control of the system. Chandley happened, we unified our government, and contributed materially to the defense of the Hawking cluster from Nephilim incursion."
Zinda Tegram: "There's more to it, of course, but you haven't exercised administrative control over our system for a long, long time."
Spyboy: "Knowing your viewpoints, I was referring to the Terran citizens of the cluster. Oldziey and Armstrong, Grissom - all those systems are overwhelmingly human, and Terran culture is still the dominant one."
Delegate: "This is highly irregular. No, see? There's no record of independence. Ah…oh, I see your system hasn't paid taxes in a while…tch, naughty, but that's just a fine that can be dealt with."
Spyboy: "I know you would rather use bio-weapons to murder the non-human inhabitants. Again, I refer you to the Black Lance."
Zinda Tegram: "…Excuse you?"
Zinda Tegram: "We've been cut off from the Confed."
Spyboy: "They definitely have bioweapons that can be tweaked to your specifications."
Metis: "It is not Oldziey's problem that you have not properly kept your records."
Zinda Tegram: "Yes, precisely."
Delegate: "Yes, yes, Chandley. We of course are considering tax amnesty given that paying taxes was made impossible. I'm hoping we can vote on that proposal."
Zinda Tegram: "…You realize the cluster is seceding, right?"
Zinda Tegram: "We have our own government."
Delegate: "EHHHH?!?" The delegate furiously scrambles to read through the records on the datapad.
Zinda Tegram sighs.
Zinda Tegram: "Paladin?"
Zinda Tegram: "Did you not tell them?"
Paladin: "Zinda's roight. Independence's the measure we're votin' on, not tax amnesty."
Metis: "It is also not our problem that you and your attendants have not properly prepared you for this meeting. I suggest you take a moment to review the docket, and perhaps some Confed law."
Abraham overhears and eyes the delegate. "You realize that you are sabotaging your own case at this point."
Paladin shrugs. "Wh't I said an' what got 'eard…well, y'know they can be different."
Zinda Tegram: "Yes, I can see that. Thank you for your help, regardless."
Zinda Tegram: "OK, look, now that we're on the same page…"
[OOC] Abraham: Frankly, that set up was worth the trip by itself.
Asura: "Yes, yes, Black Lance. Pity they were…rendered ineffective. And illegal."
Zinda Tegram: "The cluster's home to a series of non-human sapients that, frankly, would likely not be well treated by confederation law."
Kappa gravitates to the podium along with Abraham.
Spyboy muses.
[OOC] Spyboy: Computers to see if Asura helped fund Black Lance?
Zinda Tegram: "Several of these species are almost certainly not in your records."
[OOC] Abraham: Fund? Oh no no no. Embezzled from? Oh no no no yes.
[OOC] Spyboy: Cuz if so, I'm gonna do what I can to make her the figurehead for the "no secession" faction and then have her arrested. During the debate, if possible.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Let's just win the vote.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Any arrests are happy coincidences.
[OOC] WC GM: Go for it to see how much evidence you dig up, but even without a roll it's obvious she was one of their supporters.
[OOC] Spyboy: There's a difference between "she was one of their supporters" and "I can get cops in here to arrest her".
[OOC] Spyboy: ..Time to see if I can cover that difference with a good Communications roll.
Spyboy rolled up 4dF: + + 0 + (Base: 6 Total: 9) (Communications)
[OOC] Spyboy: …That says yes, to me.
It takes a bit of searching, but there are publicly available - because, being from official office, they must be - communiques that, paired with the first hand evidence Spyboy has recorded, prove sufficient for criminal liability that the Black Lance's recruitment of "disposable" crew - and their intent to use them as such - at least partly originated with Asura. A bit of law crawling soon reveals the exact criminal codes she violated in doing so.
[OOC] WC GM: Because why settle for mere financial crimes?
[OOC] Spyboy: Welp, time to move to phase 2: make her the visible figure behind which all the other pro-treason supporters unite.
Kappa: "Hmm? So there's more than just these Nephilim you're making peace with?"
Kappa: "Why would they not make happy Confederation citizens?"
Spyboy: "Given the number of the times they've tried to kill everyone I know, I think we'll have to agree to disagree. If you'll excuse me, madam Representative…"
[OOC] Metis: Kappa is currently relatively close to Paladin?
Abraham: "Peace with the Nephilim is an ongoing process. But virtually every other sentient species in the Hawking sector we have had peace with since before the Chandly incident."
Spyboy lets himself settle into social invisibility, infiltrating groups, and pumping up Asura with the pro-treason faction.
[OOC] WC GM: Yes, having come along with Abraham.
Kappa: "Hmm, could you list these species? It is odd that the official record makes no mention of them."
Abraham: "Really? That is odd. Let me see the records then…. hm…"
Abraham examines the records. Could the Confederacy really have been unaware of the Lagos and Kilrathi? The plants are understandable, they were only uplifted after the Chandley incident.
Metis: "[What does LAGOS count in regards to 'sentient species'?]"
Zinda Tegram: "The Lago, of course, we have a semi-native Nephilim faction who probably would not appreciate me talking about them too much right now, a now-sapient outgrowth of a bio-weapons program on Mahavier, a few machine intelligences, various augmented humans…"
Zinda Tegram: "My friends from Mahavier, in particular, are a young species and would likely suffer greatly under confederate rule."
The records prove to be extremely sparse, and mostly just say that a certain list of systems wish to secede from the Confederation. The lagos are listed, but in Mu Cephei only. The records of the kilrathi are sparse - until Abraham applies his authentication, where it is revealed that they were mostly redacted, for the protection of the kilrathi from their kin.
Zinda Tegram: "The Lago from Mu-Cephei are also currently being re-settled in Oldziey, following some emergency evacuations. We're moving the planet there too, of course."
Zinda Tegram: "I am also given to understand that they are populous in Armstrong and Mahavier, now."
Kappa: "Excuse me, but it sounded like you said you're moving a planet."
Zinda Tegram looks back over at Kappa.
Zinda Tegram: "Yes, we are."
Metis: "You heard correctly."
Zinda Tegram: "Not that hard if you know how."
Kappa: "…"
Zinda Tegram smirks.
Kappa: "…HOW?!?"
Zinda Tegram: "Vote yes and I'll tell you."
Metis: "Physics."
Abraham: "I see. Okay that makes some sense. Yes. The presence of a small number of Kilrathi was kept secret, but they are there. Also the Lagos, in a footnote? Really?, anyway peace with them has been established already."
Kappa: "…Paladin. Might I request that the official proposal include ROBUST scientific and technical exchange?"
Zinda Tegram: "A wise decision, delegate."
Metis: "You may request it."
Paladin: "Aye, that's the plan. Even if they're independent, we'll keep communications wide open."
The delegates murmur among themselves, discussing this new information.
Zinda Tegram: "I am glad we're going to win this vote. I'd hate to have to use my temblors."
Metis coughs. "Zinda. Discretion."
The murmurs dry up quickly. Many eyes stare at Zinda.
Zinda Tegram: "Crest left some liabilities in Aldrin, you see."
Zinda Tegram shrugs.
Zinda Tegram: "Oh, Aldrin, I forgot to mention them."
Paladin: "An' part o' the proposal is that those liabilities get cleaned up. Ain't supposed to be no more temblors."
[OOC] Abraham: "Best just to set those off, I suppose. They're useless as coffee tables, no flat surfaces."
Zinda Tegram: "I'd be amenable to that."
Zinda Tegram: "Just making sure everybody knows the stakes. Much better for everyone if the vote goes through."
Zinda Tegram: "Right?"
Zinda Tegram glances back at the delegates.
Kappa: "Well, the alternative IS that you remain part of the Confederation, so we could just go there and claim them."
[OOC] Spyboy: Zinda. "Information is a weapon. And what's a weapon without some collateral damage?"
Metis: "…that would be a remarkably unwise decision."
Paladin: "…ye'd want them jus' sittin' aroun'?!?"
Zinda Tegram: "You think you could walk into my system and just take my assets?"
Metis: "I have seen several unwise decisions in my short time, but that would be the most unwise."
[OOC] Abraham: "My solution remains viable."
[OOC] WC GM: <Alfred> "I'd take your assets any day."
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: o///o
Spyboy: "[To be fair, she's doing a pretty good job of poking holes in the idea of staying out of her system and leaving those assets with her.]"
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: I can just make more. Let them disarm me, I have the plans in plant-form.
Zinda Tegram: "To be clear, I do not enjoy this prospect."
Paladin: "Metis, ah, you've got some capability wit' math. Tell me, what'd be the probability those temblor's'd be used if they were allowed to continue to exist?"
[OOC] Abraham: "Then stop giggling."
Metis: "That would depend on fluctuating circumstances. An exact figure is not available. What probable outcome are we exploring?"
Paladin: "Oh. Everyone, Metis 'ere is Zinda's daughter, making 'er th' Princess o' Oldziey. Apparently she's also th' nephs' messiah or somethin'."
Metis: "Or something."
Zinda Tegram: "They're not currently manufactured, Paladin, and I, personally, am one of the only two entities in the cluster with the means to make more."
Paladin: "Use leadin' t' extermination o' at least a billion lives that wouldn' otherwise need t' die."
Abraham: "Oh god, we're going there, aren't we?"
Zinda Tegram: "I have no real interest in making more. Aldrin, in turn, was using them as mining tools."
Metis: "If they do not need to die, then presuming the weapons are manufactured and armed, there is less than a billionth of a percent chance of the temblors being used, with the result being due to sabotage, espionage, theft, or material defect."
Zinda Tegram: "I suspect you and them will have some conversations, but they keep to themselves."
Paladin just smiles at Abraham. "Ye tell me. From what I've been hearin', yer basically the nephs' god."
Paladin: "I mean, Abraham…are you a god?"
Zinda Tegram: "He's not. He just plays one on TV."
Metis: "Define 'god'."
Abraham: "No. I am an admiral. God is outside the chain of command."
Paladin: "Ha! Spoken like a true career officer."
Zinda Tegram: "So…I suppose we all see that voting 'yes' is a good idea, then?"
By now Spyboy has most of the anti-secession delegates - those not clustered around the podium - looking to Asura for leadership.
Zinda Tegram: "You save many, many lives on both sides of the conflict, get tremendous scientific benefits, and a friendly diplomatic relationship with the nephilim."
Abraham: "And not even the Neph believe I am a 'I create universes and I smite sinners' god. They do think I am fulfilling some sort of prophecy though."
Kappa: "And what prophecy would that be?"
[OOC] Spyboy: Good, cuz I'm trying to decide if Zinda saying 'I'm glad you're not scared of me, cuz I have nukes and I'm not afraid to use them' would be enough to have him sitting on a chair in the corner sobbing to himself.
Abraham: "Well, me if I know. They are savvy enough that they won't tell me /what/ the prophecy is in fear that I'll try to fake results and 'prove' my preordainedness."
Metis: "Standard 'savior comes to uplift us' prophecy. Cure their ills, right their wrongs, perfect justice, immortality. Rather standard, as prophecies go."
Zinda Tegram: "Well, vote yes, and we'll tell you the details."
Kappa: "I see. And how much of that have you done?"
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: He's mining you for information.
Abraham: "Exactly, what Metis says, but there are supposedly certain acts I am suppose to do to show I'm the one."
[OOC] Metis: Spyboy is more suave then that. He cries on the inside.
[OOC] WC GM: <Kappa> "Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to Abraham I go."
Metis: "That primarily depends on your point of view."
Metis: "This seems like a standard trend when religion is involved."
Kappa: "I see. Would moving planets around be included in these acts?"
[OOC] Metis: Hmm. Don't recall. Is it?
[OOC] Abraham: Good question. Especially since I never got out an pushed.
Kappa: "Or…you say there were all these new races you have made peace with. Would acting as a great diplomat, uniting the races, be included?"
Zinda Tegram: "No comment. If you know want to know the details, vote yes and ask the Nephilim yourself."
Kappa: "And from what you say, you may have been involved in the creation and uplift of at least one race. Is that not a godly act?"
Metis: "From my experience with them, the Nephi… oh. Sorry, my queen and mother has spoken."
Zinda Tegram: "Good girl."
Zinda Tegram pats Metis's head.
Abraham: "But really, it's like most prophecies, vague as hell and wide open to interpretation so you can see what you want to see."
Metis: "The only prophecy that is useful is predictive scientific theories."
Metis: "And even they are only as good as their ability to accurately predict."
Paladin: "Alright, alright, if yer quite done let's get t' the formal debatin'."
Zinda Tegram: "Of course."
Kappa: "Ah, one more question first, if you please."
Zinda Tegram: "…Hmm?"
Kappa: "Abraham. So this prophecy is about the grand peacemaker, yes?"
Zinda Tegram: "No, actually."
Abraham: "Honestly, no. It's really not. Not at least from what I've been able to piece together anyway."
Kappa looks into Abraham's eyes. "Including uniting religious schisms and factions, or at least making a path for them to heal their divide? Might that not be what a religious prophecy be all about?"
Paladin: "…what are you talking about?"
Zinda Tegram narrows her eyes.
Metis scans Kappa for signs of being human.
Kappa: "Oh, I think Abraham's friend Wenser knows."
Zinda Tegram: "Have you met Wenser, Kappa?"
Kappa: "Not personally."
Zinda Tegram: "I think you'd get along."
[OOC] Spyboy: What's Metis finding?
[OOC] Abraham: Kappa is a Lago/Kilrathi hybrid! A cabbot!
Kappa looks to be remarkably human. Perfectly human, according to all scans. Why, the heat signature even reacts to Metis's scan spelling out "HUMAN" in…waitaminute…
[OOC] Metis: Man, that's what, over two hours without Metis scanning something? Girl's losin her touch.
Zinda Tegram fiddles her with Neucomm. Including pointing it at Kappa and rubbing her finger all over the mic.
Kappa winks at Metis.
Metis looks at Zinda. "I can hear that."
Zinda Tegram: "Sorry."
Zinda Tegram stops, though carefully judges Kappa's reaction.
Paladin: "Alright, alright, break it up an' head to yer seats. It's time fer the formal debates."
Kappa seems to be trying not to react.
Zinda Tegram chuckles and heads back.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Zinda's a *dick*
[OOC] Metis: At this point, Metis doesn't particularly care if there's a nonhuman present, because…well, the obvious. Spyboy might care, and he does get all the good data.
[OOC] Spyboy: That I do!
[OOC] Abraham: I'm looking forward to this. Can Zinda out Trump, Trump?
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: "We're going to make a great system. Huge. Victorious System."
[OOC] Metis: Zinda could kick Drumpf's ass all over the room. With one foot tied behind her head. Assuming she's that flexible and nothing breaks.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: She could she'd just do it with a Slither.
[OOC] Abraham: Plants are flexible.
Once everyone is seated, Paladin takes up the gavel at the podium. "Alright. By now 'opefully everyone's read th' proposal, so I'll summarize."
[OOC] Abraham: BRB
[OOC] Spyboy: Given what happened earlier, I think he's hoping a bit much.
Paladin: "The vote is for grantin' certain systems o' the Hawking sector, Chandley an' everythin' behin' it, political independence. We'll 'ave military cooperation, fully open borders, an' grant assistance for scientific an' technical development given the…unique opportunities that've opened up."
[OOC] Spyboy: So…as far as getting Asura arrested. Is there a way I can swing the timing of that?
[OOC] WC GM: Yes. You know how far away the law enforcement offices are and thus how long their response time would be. You know, after a bit of investigation you've now had time for, certain offices that are actively scouring for Black Lance collaboration.
[OOC] WC GM: So, basically they show up when you want them to.
[OOC] Spyboy: Excellent.
[OOC] WC GM: You'd have a bit of lead time, but the timing factor will be how long your fellow PCs speak. I think it's safe to say you know their habits by now.
[OOC] Abraham: Back but eating so slow to respond
Paladin: "Now, technically, the main proponents o' independence are all currently Confederation Navy officers, so technically they're biased. Buuut even wit' 'er position I t'ink we can all agree the Queen o' Oldziey's a good candidate to make th' formal 'pro' case. So…Zinda, make yer speech."
[OOC] Abraham: Make Hawking great again, Zinda!
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Oh, geez.
[OOC] Metis: I'm losing track now. Is Zinda Trump or anti-Trump in this analogy?
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Zinda's just Great.
[OOC] WC GM: Umm, yes?
[OOC] Spyboy: Zinda wants to build a wall and have the Confederation pay for it, so…
[OOC] Metis: Okay, I'm onboard with this. Zinda, it is time to Zindaize them!
[OOC] WC GM: While the nephilim wish to dig a (worm)hole.
Zinda Tegram: "The people of Oldziey have a long memory. Since the confederate abandonment of Asago, my people suffered under the neglectful administration of the Confederacy, and when they sought to rule themselves they faced invasion."
Zinda Tegram: "They will not accept confederate rule, and as their queen I am bound to execute their will and defend their freedom. I will die before I see Asago once again turned into a corporate project."
Zinda Tegram: "But, Asago is not alone. Since Chandley, our cluster has experienced profound cultural shifts; New species on Mahavier, rights for augmented individuals, resettlement of the bulk of the Lago from Mu Cephei prime, diplomatic contact with the Nephilim, and the discovery of Machine Intelligences, one of whom I proudly call my daughter, are only some of the advancements we've made in the cluster. In this time of change, we of the Hawking Cluster do not believe we can trust the Confederate polibody to represent us as face new challenges in these strange times."
Metis: "[Looks like I am no longer confidential.]"
Zinda Tegram: "That is why we now declare our intent to follow in the footsteps of the border worlds and declare our independence."
Zinda Tegram: "Thank you."
Spyboy: "[That's Zinda. Not a bad placement for it, I have to admit.]"
Zinda Tegram nods and sits down.
There is a smattering of applause at first, which builds, and soon Zinda is getting a standing ovation.
Paladin waits a few minutes for it to die down then gavels, smiling. "Alright, alright. Now, do we 'ave anyone to give the 'con' side?"
Asura stands up. "I will."
[OOC] Spyboy: Let her start speaking, I think? Get some applause by her supporters for taking the stage?
[OOC] Spyboy: Or I can start pasting now…
Paladin nods. "Roight, then."
[OOC] WC GM: Start.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Why even give her the chance?
Suddenly there is a commotion at the main entrance. The door is slammed open. The Marine guards don't move, but ushers in formalwear are seen arguing in hushed voices with a group of men and women in other formalwear who are ignoring them.
The lead figure among the interlopers strides up to the podium.
McHandley: "Representative Domikon, Deputy Director Jack McHandley from the Confederation Investigative Service. You'll be coming with us."
McHandley: "We need you to answer a few questions about corruption, misappropriation of funds, and supporting an organization declared illegal by this body."
McHandley: "Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services would like to speak to you."
McHandley: "Apparently they look with some disfavor on the use of the mentally disabled as cannon fodder."
Paladin: "…"
Zinda Tegram: "…Such is the fate of the Black Lance."
Asura: "What?"
Zinda Tegram: "You could stand to be less obvious, Delegate."
Paladin: "Well, get on with it."
McHandley: "Do I have to make it clear, Delegate?"
McHandley: "You're under arrest for treason."
Spyboy blinks innocently.
Heggy: "Not bad for someone who regularly sleeps with animals."
Paladin nudges McHandley toward Asura. "Well, on wit' it. We'll wait 'til yer outta th' chamber wit' your arrestee."
Asura bolts for the exit.
Metis: "Humans are also animals. I am a machine. Zinda is… plant-adjacent."
Zinda Tegram: "Hush, 'hun."
McHandley: "Suspect is running! Grab her!"
The police raise their stun-weapons and use them.
[OOC] Abraham: I'm hoping she tries to shove aside Metis. That would be hilarity itself.
Zinda Tegram snaps her fingers and her armored slither lumbers to the exit.
Asura ducks and tries running for Zinda.
Zinda Tegram: "…Oooh?"
Zinda Tegram lets the slither block for her.
Spyboy grins and waits in joyful anticipation
Zinda Tegram rolled up 4dF: 0 0 + 0 (Base: 7 Total: 8) (Medical to control the slither.)
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Tag something, Make it a 10.
Metis narrows eyes.
[OOC] Spyboy: Fruit of Research
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Yeah that.
[OOC] Spyboy: Sworn to Uphold Justice would work, too~
Asura trips on the slitherer, tumbling rear over head through the air, then slams into Metis, who is shoved about as much as a slight breeze would shove.
Zinda Tegram walks over and offers the man a hand.
Metis: "Does that constitute assault?"
Paladin: "It does. Officers, add that to th' charges please."
[OOC] Metis: I mean…ow…I am a small child and gravely afeared. Also mental anguish. And…she stepped on my toe. Yeah.
McHandley: "You had better believe that we will, Admiral."
McHandley walks over to Domikon and cuffs her.
Asura is out cold.
McHandley: "You had a chance to leave this room with dignity. Given your crimes, I'm glad you chose the alternative."
Zinda Tegram frowns and retracts her hands.
McHandley: "Let's get a stretcher in here, men."
Zinda Tegram: "I'm sorry my honor guard had to be involved, officer."
Zinda Tegram puts a hand on her slither's armor's shoulder.
Abraham: "Well now. Will anyone else attempt to fill her shoes. Or jackboots, I suppose?"
Spyboy bites his lip and waits
Paladin shakes his head. "Nay. 'Owever unusual, th' opposition HAS been given a chance t' speak, and speech was done. So now we vote."
Spyboy: "Works for me."
Zinda Tegram fiddles with her nails while she waits for the result.
Abraham: "I would prefer the opposition have a chance to rebut Zinda's arguments to give the proceeding legitimacy."
The display behind Paladin shifts to the vote tracker. Green blocks for yea, red blocks for nay.
[OOC] Abraham: I vote yellow for more action during these debates.
Metis: "It would appear that parliamentary decision making rests on technicalities. This is a strong argument for monarchy."
Abraham's call does indeed get a few votes for yellow - for further debate needed.
[OOC] WC GM: How hard are you pushing this? If it gets the most votes then further debate is what will happen. And are the other PCs opposing?
[OOC] Abraham: Not that hard.
[OOC] Spyboy: I don't think I vote? So, no for me, no for Heggy
[OOC] Metis: I am not. I won't be Zinda's sock puppet! I abstain! Unless Zinda gives me an order.
Zinda Tegram: "I'll vote yellow. Let them have their say."
Zinda Tegram: "…Not that I have a vote, heh."
The votes come in, green green green yellow green yellow yellow green red yellow green…
[OOC] Metis: I wonder how many people here are red/green color-blind.
[OOC] Abraham: Wait. Aren't red and green synonyms? Like black and white are?
As it happens, there are 40 blocks displayed. 29 green, 8 yellow, 2 red, and 1 white - apparently, Asura's vote counted as "abstain" .
Paladin gavels. "Th' ayes have it. The Terran Confederacy accepts the Hawking Cluster's independence."
Spyboy sits back in his chair, eyes on Zinda.
[OOC] Metis: Our new mission: find those who voted red, hunt them down, and steal all their cheese.
[OOC] WC GM: That would be a challenge even for Spyboy. The government takes the anonymity of votes seriously.
[OOC] Abraham: There won't be any cheese. There were two reds and the cheese stands alone.
Zinda Tegram: "Excellent."
Zinda Tegram: "So, any questions?"
Metis: "Do they have ice cream?"
Spyboy: "Are the drinks on Abraham?"
Zinda Tegram: "They do. I'll buy you some."
Metis: "Yay~"
Abraham: "Um… ah… sure. Why not?"
Zinda Tegram pats her daughter's head.
[OOC] Abraham: PROPHECY FULFILLED!!!! Drinks on the Admiral!
Zinda Tegram: "I've read that on earth they have this thing called a banana foster…"
[OOC] Zinda Tegram:
[OOC] Abraham: I don't recall that character in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends.
[OOC] Metis: So, Zinda. Any thoughts on your plans to annex the Confed? You could just declare yourself the god-queen of earth right now, saves you a trip back.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Nah we need a mass death for her to make her zombie army out of first
[OOC] Metis: …so, don't trip the safety on my fusion reactor, do slowly leak radiation when you've gotten out of range?
And so the group heads out to get drinks and ice cream, galactic peace having been secured…for now.

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