2022.01.29 07:25 BlueFishcake Sexy Space Babes: Chapter Eighty Two - End of Book Three
He’d been cooling his heels in a security booth for about five minutes when the Marshal from earlier stepped in and dismissed the MP that had been glaring malevolently at him the entire time.
“I see you’ve got my omni-pad,” he noted absently, drumming his heels against the legs of the oversized chair he'd been handcuffed to.
Which was less than ideal, but far from an unexpected outcome of his little tirade.
“You dropped it as you were being escorted off stage,” the imposing woman responded simply, her many medals glinting in the overhead light.
He shrugged. “You mean it flew out of my hands when your oversized gorilla back there tackled me?”
Which hadn’t been fun. Anymore than being frog marched backstage was afterward. His only solace in this situation was that the shouting from the crowd had only gotten louder after he’d been tackled – and that technically the law was on his side here.
He’d checked. Repeatedly.
Unfortunately for him, he was also tempering that knowledge with the knowledge that the law tended to warp around people of privilege and power. He’d like to have said that was a purely Imperial thing, but he had a feeling it had been just as true in the days of old Earth as it was now.
“I have no idea what a gorilla is, but I can assume from your tone that it wasn’t a complimentary comparison,” the woman noted dryly.
“You assumed correctly.”
The woman chuckled a little at that as she eyed him oddly. For his part, he simply stared back.
“You aren’t what I expected,” she said finally.
He shrugged as best he could while handcuffed to his seat. “It’s true, I’m even more devilishly handsome in person.”
It was funny, less than a day ago he’d never have been as flippant as this with even a lieutenant, let alone a Marine Marshal. Yet now that he was no longer a soldier… he felt… free.
Free to be as annoying as possible.
He’d be lying if he said he wasn’t reveling in the sensation. Or that he thought this wasn’t a terrible idea. Or that he would stop because of it.
It was just too damn cathartic!
The woman restrained her action to a small snort. “No, I don’t think that was what I was referring to – even if I don’t disagree. I’m referring to your psychological profile.” She flitted through his omni-pad. “Your previous CO’s all seemed to think of you as a study in contrasts. A man who was happy to knuckle down and work. Outwardly respectful. Understanding of the chain of command. Yet with a propensity for independent action that was… concerning.”
Despite himself, he smiled. “Did Tisi write that last bit. That sounded like Tisi.”
“Captain Tisi,” the woman corrected. “Did indeed write that last part of your profile.”
He quirked an eyebrow. What did Tisi’s former rank matter? Hell, if she was going to mention it then he’d point out that he’d been entirely correct in referring to her as just ‘Tisi’.
Unfortunately, she continued before he could ask.
“I must admit, I was looking forward to having you in my academy. For all that some of my more hidebound colleagues complained of ‘upstarts’ violating the sanctity of her halls, I was ever more of the opinion that Blackstone might benefit from insight into human… eccentricity.”
This time it was his turn to snort. “Is that what they’re calling it now?”
She simply inclined her head. “While your people are new on the scene, you have slowly started to garner a reputation for more than just… licentiousness. As many soldiers back on Earth can attest, you also have a propensity for ‘outside the box’ thinking and spontaneity.”
“Well, I’d like to think I’m nothing if not the prototypical man.”
This time the woman didn’t laugh. She just stared at him. Before reaching forward and undoing his cuffs with a simple swipe of her thumb on the fingerprint scanner.
His eyes widened as the restraints fell away, and almost subconsciously he reached up to massage his wrists. The damn things had been tight. Perhaps his MP ‘escort’ had been less than appreciative of being called a ‘wort riddled buffalo’ immediately after she’d tackled him?
He supposed he’d never know.
“You’re free to go, Jason Linford. All of your documents check out.” The woman handed back his data-pad, and he took it gingerly.
“Huh.” Surprise colored his features. “Part of me thought I’d be here longer.”
Or that they’d try and trump up some charges for him. Sure, he hadn’t technically broken any laws, but he’d skirted a few. Public profanity. Incitement to riot. Disturbing the peace. Slander.
The last one wasn’t technically a law, but he had a feeling that if anyone could make it one, it would be a pissed off Imperial princess. And he wasn’t ignorant enough to think that she’d already been informed of his response to her offer. The Imperial Palace was only a few miles away. Hell, if he drove a few minutes down the road, he’d be able to see where the HMS Victory sat on the Imperial Lake.
“I also thought you’d be angrier,” he noted as he stood up.
The Marshal just laughed.
“Do you really, think you’re the only soldier who’s ever thought to tell their superiors to eat their cunt?” Then the mirth on her face and in her voice turned deadly serious. “Of course, the difference is that soldiers don’t indulge that desire. If not out of respect for their superiors, then for the insinuation they represent.” Her eyes narrowed. “An institution you insulted gravely with your actions here tonight.”
Despite his discomfort under her gaze, his eyes didn’t waver from hers. He’d had enough of cowering. Enough to last a lifetime.
“Well that’s the problem.” He shot back. “I don’t respect the institution. I loath it. Because I’m not a soldier. Nor have I ever wanted to be one. Even if I did believe that it was for some nebulous greater good.”
Which he didn’t. Not after all the things he’d seen. While he didn’t think the Imperium was evil, it was far from a force for good.
The democratic governments of old Earth hadn’t been perfect. Far from it. But at least they hadn’t glorified institutions of inequality. Even if it had been rife, there at least been the acknowledgement that it was wrong.
And for once in his life, he was willing to understand those people who wanted to fight for a return to how things were, rather than bow to a system they couldn’t agree with.
He still thought it was a fool’s errand… but he understood.
He was jostled from his thoughts by the woman continuing. “Well, regardless of what you think of me or the Imperium, you’ve saved a lot of lives in your time in uniform. That deserves some respect. Which is why I’m letting you go – against the wishes of a number of my colleagues.” She stood up, very clearly not offering her hand. “I wish you well, Jason Linford, wherever you end up.”
Jason just nodded, before finally stepping past her and towards the outside.
A free man.
Yaro stood across from him in her dress uniform. While she’d not received an offer to join the Imperium’s officer core, she’d still been given an invitation to the event as one of the few members of the regiment who was still on-planet.
Though he doubted that would remain the case for long now that he’d effectively torpedoed the Imperium’s plans for him. No, with his resignation from the military, Jason had a feeling Yaro’s time as a bodyguard was at an end. She’d likely be returning to the same role she’d occupied before he’d come into her life. Though he had to wonder if that would mean a return to the dead-end posting that was Gurathu?
Not that the Rakiri’s future career trajectory was his current foremost concern.
“I did,” she allowed. “I even managed to slip out in the confusion you created with your little exit speech.”
Her tone was entirely flat, and he couldn’t help but feel some of his excitement wither at the reminder that he’d just essentially shat all over the Imperial military with his words. An Imperial military that Yaro very much believed in.
As evidenced by her actions the last time they’d met face to face. Given he’d spent the last two months alternately being metaphorically tied to the interrogation chair or attending meetings, he’d not exactly had the opportunity to chat with her.
Not that he hadn’t tried. He certainly had. Unfortunately for him, it seemed Yaro was trying just as hard to avoid him in those few moments he’d had available.
She’d certainly not come back to their shared apartment.
Raisha and Kernathu had told him not to worry. That she’d come around eventually. That she just needed some time alone. Jason… wasn’t so sure. Which was why he couldn’t help but feel, well, a number of conflicting feelings now that she was standing right in front of him.
“Ah,” he said awkwardly, for lack of anything else to say.
“It’s fine.” Yaro surprised him as she shook her head ruefully, ears flicking atop her head. “I knew what you were. Or I should have. I suppose part of me was deceiving myself whenever I thought you might be coming around. You certainly never made your feelings on the military unclear when we were in private.”
Jason nodded absently. He certainly hadn’t, which made things more than a little awkward on a few occasions, given that he lived in a household populated entirely by active service members.
Though not as awkward as it could have been. Raisha was enthused about the military, but that enthusiasm was more related to her position in it and what that position allowed her to do. Essentially, pilot exos and shoot bad guys. Deeper ruminations on who those bad guys were, and the wider ramifications of the Imperium, were not something she often pondered. Which he wouldn’t deny was one of the things he both loved about her and was frustrated by in equal measure.
For Kernathu, her job was exactly that, a job. Little more than a means to acquire a paycheck doing something she was good at – and perhaps cover for her own insecurities about what would have been considered ‘masculinity’ back on Earth.
For Tarcil, the military was an escape from the common expectations of a male around marriageable age. Beyond that, Jason had little idea about what his fellow male’s thoughts on the wider Imperium were. Like so many other things he thought about, the small Shil’vati could be deceptively tight lipped on the issue.
Yaro sighed. “I can’t deny though that some part of me hoped you were merely grousing, like you often do. After all, how could a man who was so critical of the Imperium stomach acting so positively when in public?”
Jason shrugged. He couldn’t exactly blame her for being confused by that. Few people could compartmentalise like he could. Push their real feelings down.
Although apparently even I have limits on that front, he thought, glancing back to the lecture hall. And perhaps I might have been served airing some of those grievances earlier, rather waiting for them to… explode.
Certainly, a few mutinous comments prior to this would have been rather satisfying. And likely a lot less hazardous to life and limb.
Yet he couldn’t quite bring himself to regret his most recent actions. After all, they had been rather satisfying.
Though I wonder if I’ll still be able to say that when the consequences of tonight finally come round to bite me in the ass, he thought, idly glancing in the direction of one of said consequences.
For his part, he’d already forgiven Yaro. Some part of him liked to think that was his more tolerant nature shining through, but a greater part of him had to concede that it was likely more down to him getting his way in that debate, while Yaro had been forced to take a impromptu nap.
“I never wanted to be a Marine.” He said finally. “I was conscripted. Forced to make a choice between military service and prison.”
To his surprise, Yaro wasn’t. “I know. I did a little research on you when we started getting… intimate.” Despite the situation, he couldn’t help but enjoy the way her tail flicked and her ears twitched at the words, an action only another Rakiri – or someone very familiar with one – would be able to interpret as the equivalent of an involuntary blush. “Your fight video is less popular in the wider data-net than it is on Earth, but it’s still not hard to find. And while the propaganda office did a decent job of spinning your motivations for picking that fight, for someone who knows you, well, it’s not hard to guess what series of events occurred.” She smiled at him. “It’s amusing to think that despite all the trouble it’s gotten you into, you still have trouble holding your drink.”
Jason smiled back ruefully. “I’d like to think I’ve gotten better at pacing myself.”
“You mean you’ve had less opportunity to get ‘wasted’?” The Rakiri shook her head with a scoff.
Jason smiled back at her, and just for a moment, he could fool himself into thinking that things were going to be ok.
Of course, it didn’t last. Because for all his other faults, he was a realist.
“I’m not a soldier,” he said finally.
“I know.” Yaro’s smile turned distinctly sad. “A soldier’s all I ever wanted to be. Ever since I knew what one was. A noble knight, journeying the stars as a defender of the peace and the defenceless.”
Jason shook his head, some small irritation flaring in his gut. “The Imperium hardly keeps the peace.”
Yaro cocked her head. “Don’t they? Where the Consortium seeks only profit and the Alliance care nothing for the worlds beyond their borders, the Imperium acts.”
“To expand those borders.”
“Perhaps,” she allowed. “But the end result is the same. I cannot claim the Imperium is perfect, but the average Imperial citizen lives a much better life than most. Call it vanity or pride, but the Imperium cares for the state of its people. None go without education, food, or homes. No threat to them is tolerated.”
“Except perhaps from those within their borders, provided they have the right blood.” He pointed out.
Yaro’s tail swished in a shrug. “As I said, the Imperium is not perfect. Yet that will change with time. With each passing decade, more and more power is allocated to the common woman. More and more of the nobility’s protections get repealed. Can you claim that a thousand years from now, the thousand petty kingdoms beyond the Imperium’s borders won’t still be squabbling over the same old divides? Race? Religion? Tribe?”
Jason couldn’t deny that. On either account. The Periphery was the kind of mess that made the Balkans look positively civilized. And the Imperium was advancing. Imitating the social advances of Humanity. But it was slow. So very slow. The Rakiri had been part of the Imperium for just over two hundred years, and yet were in dozens of ways still second-class citizens according to law.
How long would it take for the Imperium to do away with the ridiculous farce of superiority through blood entirely? Another thousand years? Ten? He couldn’t stomach a lifetime of that. Hell, he hadn’t been able to stomach two years.
So no, while he could understand Yaro’s point of view, he couldn’t bring himself to imitate it. Not least of all because he thought it horribly naïve. After all, who was to say the Imperium wouldn’t backtrack on those social advances? Or simply plateau one day?
He had a feeling she wasn’t here to argue with him about Imperial policy though. It was just the prelude to what they were both avoiding.
Unfortunately for both of them, he’d never been much good at putting things off.
“Are we?” he asked slowly.
Yaro smiled sadly.
“I think we should take a break.” She spoke resolutely, but not unkindly. “If for no other reason than that I think our lives are about to go in rapidly different directions.”
Jason’s heart fell, but he couldn’t find it in himself to argue. He’d long since forgiven Yaro for trying to stop him pulling off his insane plan. Just as it seemed Yaro had forgiven him. Still, there was no denying that a… rift had grown between them. Perhaps it was just the realization that they held radically different beliefs.
It wasn’t something he didn’t think they’d have been able to overcome – if it weren’t for the fact that they’d soon be separated by who knew how many lightyears. Distance was already enough of a strain on a relationship. For one that was already being strained, it might as well be a death knell.
Better to… break things off cleanly now, he thought.
Still, he felt like a coward and a traitor as he smiled sadly back at her. “If you think that’s best.”
It was a strange thing, to hope that he both did and didn’t see disappointment in her posture as she nodded quietly. “I do, I know it’s-”
Her words trailed off as her eyes alighted on something over his shoulder, her somewhat sad expression shifting into a scowl. He was about to turn to see what had distracted her when she continued. “Regardless of everything that’s happened, I hope you do well for yourself Jason. Wherever you end up.”
Then she was gone, hurrying back down the path, an almost unseemly haste in her usually measured gait.
“…Huh, part of me thought she’d stick around for a bit longer. If only to give me a piece of her mind.”
“Nora,” Jason sighed, turning around to find the woman behind him.
He shouldn’t have been surprised to see her. She’d been backstage with him after all, ready to accept her own award for her heroics in the final hours of the battle of Raknos-Three. Something to do with taking out an exo. With a knife.
Something that sounded more and more comical the more he heard it. Unfortunately, to hear Nora tell it, it hadn’t been particularly comical at all. More just desperate.
“I’m surprised you managed to sneak out after the shit show I caused.” He smirked, before turning serious. “How are things back there?”
The woman shrugged, which he knew from experience was damn hard in Imperial dress uniform. “Oh, about what you'd expect. Our fellow Terran First Vets are confused. And angry. At you. Or the Shil. Or you and the Shil. Or at each other for being angry about the wrong one of the first two.” She partedhands. “It all very nearly turned into a riot when you got dragged off stage by that Shil ape. Fortunately, Friska managed to do some quick talking - and mentioned that you weren’t being arrested. Just taken aside for clarification on your… unexpected statements.”
Jason scoffed. “Taken aside? I was tackled and dragged off stage.”
The Norwegian woman just shrugged again.
“Perhaps if someone had thrown that first punch things might have kicked off? It was on a razor blade for a while there. Fortunately no one seemed willing to be the one to get the ball rolling – and likely get their commission revoked.” She eyed him. “Though with what you just said and did, that might still happen for a number of people.”
This time it was his turn to shrug. “I’m not sorry.”
She sighed, looking off to the side. “I didn’t really expect you to be. And if I’m telling the truth… I don’t really want you to be.”
Jason eyed her as she continued. “Look, you may have been a dumbass in how you went about it, but nothing you said was wrong. From what I’ve seen of the Imperial Marines, they’re a total shitshow compared to the Navy, which I can only see as an unfortunate byproduct of the Imperium’s obsession with naval power to the exclusion of all else. By contrast, the Marines have been left to flounder in the wind. The way I see it, so long as the Marines are at least a single step above the goddamn Militia, the brass are content to let them be.”
Jason nodded absently, truth be told, he’d never looked at it that way. Sure, he’d always known that the Marines were considered little more than an afterthought compared to the Navy, but he’d never really thought of them as akin to being a slightly better trained and equipped version of the Imperial Militia. Who were themselves essentially just the private army of whichever noble owned the territory they were based in.
With all the incredibly disparate and eclectic levels of funding and competence that entailed.
“My point is, we’ve got a war coming. And the Imperium needs to start shaping up before a lot more people die for stupid reasons. I’m hoping your little wakeup call today might be the slap in the face the Imperium needs to inject some goddamn professionalism back into its professional military!”
Jason just stared at the woman who had been actively shouting by the end of her rant. Clearly she’d been keeping a lot of that bottled up in surprise. Obviously he wasn’t the only one who’d been surprised by it either, given the way Nora suddenly flushed, glancing around to make sure no one had heard her.
Fortunately, given it was late evening, and most people present were attending the ‘awards ceremony,’ the Blackstone didn’t have much in the way of foot traffic around.
Content that she just hadn’t blown her career up alongside his, Nora looked back to him. “My point is… good luck Jason. And good work. With all of it.”
Jason could scarcely believe his ears as the woman who he’d thought kind of hated his guts, gave him a very much against protocol salute, before marching back the way she came.
It was only after she’d gotten a few meters away that he shook out of his stupor. “I don’t need luck. You’re the one who's still in the military. You’ll need it more than me. I’m a civilian. I’m on Easy Street now!”
“Some part of me doubts that.” She called back without stopping or turning around. “You’re Chad Novacock. Trouble follows you like a bitch in heat.”
“That’s a ridiculous name! It’ll never catch on.” He scoffed. Of all the ridiculous monikers he’d picked up, the one his fellow veterans had coined – even over Caveman – was the most ridiculous.
As he turned to leave, he also scoffed at her parting words. His ex-bodyguard was wrong. He was on easy street now. His life going forward would be a nice malaise of boredom and safety. Sure, he’d probably cop some kind of crap for his earlier words, but that was it.
There was no law against badmouthing the military – if the person doing so was a civilian. Sure, the Imperium didn’t exactly enshrine free speech, but they weren’t too tyrannical about it either. Because while the Imperium had a hard on for censorship, it was of the more subtle variety. They bought out large news companies and rigged search engine algorithms. They didn’t generally bust down doors and drag people out into the night with a black mask over their head.
Predominantly because there had been a time when the Interior had done just that, and no one wanted to return to those days.
Not even the nobility – which said a lot about just how bad it had been.
So no, he was a free man.
And he was going to enjoy every moment of it.
'…Provided I somehow survive explaining all of this to the other members of my… harem,' he thought.
“You’re fine with it!?”
Jason most definitely did not shriek. It was a close run thing though.
“I don’t know what else you want us to say?” Raisha opined from her position on their apartment couch.
Next to her, Kernathu nodded absently. “I don’t get why you’re complaining? Do you want us to be mad?”
Of course I don’t, he thought. Do I?
He shook his head, dismissing the thought. No, he didn’t. He just wanted these damn aliens to finally have a reaction he could anticipate, rather than throw him for a loop every time something like this happened.
“Tarcil, please,” Jason said, turning to the alien male. “Be the voice of reason here.”
In his seat, about as far away from the females in the apartment as possible, the effeminate marine cocked an eyebrow. “So, by saying that, you’re tacitly admitting that your actions were entirely unreasonable."
Jason’s mouth shut with a click, before he muttered, “I didn’t say that.”
Tarcil just exhaled noisily. “I’m with the others. I’m not against what you did.” Jason opened his mouth to speak, before the alien overrode him. “I am however, against how you did it. Insulting an Imperial princess? Most of the alumni of the Blackstone? Deeps, a good chunk of the Imperial military? You’ve painted a big target on your back. And by extension, ours.”
Jason had enough shame to be ashamed as he glanced at the floor, even as Raisha and Kernathu started to argue against Tarcil’s assertions. Personally, he agreed with his fellow male. And while he would have liked to say he hadn’t thought of what his actions would do to the people around him, that would be a lie.
He’d thought about it and decided to do it anyway.
Fortunately for him, Tarcil continued on, taking on a slightly commiserating tone. “Still, the event might prove enough of a black eye for the military that they start looking at how much the nobles in their ranks are getting away with.”
Jason cocked his head.
He supposed that there was certainly some truth to that. A lot of the things that had happened to him happened because of people bending or breaking the rules. Some might have found that notion mollifying. Jason wasn’t one of them, to him it was only further infuriating. Because it implied that the Imperium knew said behaviour was wrong and made no effort to correct it, or was utterly ineffective in doing so.
Neither were palatable.
“Oh, like the Iron Tooth!” Raisha pointed out. “They made a lot of changes after that came out.”
Tarci’s mood, which had bordered on contemplative up until her interruption, turned decidedly grim. “Yes. That would be an excellent example.”
Jason almost winced at the other male’s flat tone. He knew he’d copped a lot of shit during his time in the military. For being Human, male or just… him. Now he had to wonder if the same was true for Tarcil?
In that regard, his lack of irritation at Jason’s airing the military’s dirty laundry made a lot more sense. Well that, and the fact that his only male friend had always had his back.
He shook his head, returning his mind to the topic at hand. “So if I’m reading the room correctly, none of you are about to break up with me to avoid the inevitable fallout that’s going to come with my little truth telling session?”
“No!” The shouts from Raisha and Kernathu were almost simultaneous. To such a degree that both looked a little embarrassed by the outburst.
Raisha glanced at her fellow female, before looking back at him. “Look Jason, I’m already a commoner in the exo pilot thingie. I doubt being in a relationship with you is going to make the bullying any worse.”
Jason cocked his head. Huh, I’ve never really thought about that. That’s two people in my life who are apparently also suffering under the Imperium’s issues…
And they were both Shil.
To Raisha’s right, Kernathu shrugged. “Meh, Raisha cops most of the fire for being a commoner from the other cadets. As an engineer I’m pretty beneath the notice of the noble bloods. I doubt that’ll change.”
Jason nodded slowly, before almost turning to where Yaro usually sat – only to remember that she wasn’t there. Hell, even before their little heart to heart the other night, the Rakiri woman had taken to sleeping elsewhere.
Which was wise, because it had kept her name almost entirely out of the news when the reporters had shown up.
Or are they Paparazzi? he wondered.
To be honest, he wasn’t totally sure of the difference. What he did know was that he had a sizable number of them camped outside his door. They’d shown up a few hours ago and had yet to leave.
It was more than a little unnerving for a man that had been hoping to escape the limelight. Instead, it seemed he’d only made it worse. Because, while his fame hadn’t gained much traction outside of military circles, his quitting of those circles certainly had.
At least on Shil.
Even a casual perusal of the data-net had seen his face pasted across dozens of new channels. Which had been surprising – but not nearly as surprising that some of those channels seemed to be, if not in his favor, at least sympathetic to the issues he’d raised.
Part of him liked to believe that was due to the legitimacy of his complaints, but a darker side of him couldn’t help but wonder if it didn’t have something to do with his gender.
Of course, a ‘few news channels’ weren’t much in the grand scheme of things. Most were lambasting his actions and ‘disrespect’. Still, enough were in his favour that there was an argument rather than universal condemnation. Hell, he’d even seen a few ex-service members echoing his sentiments in interviews – albeit with much more delicate language.
The amount of discussion he’d managed to generate might have been heartening, if it weren’t for the fact that he didn’t want anything to do with any of it.
He was out of the game now. He’d made his stand. He’d saved some lives. He’d given his post-career review; two stars, poon was nice but did not justify the risk to life and limb.
Now he just wanted to slink away. Back to the quiet normal life he’d been on-track to enjoy before he’d been dumb enough to punch a marine in the face – and get recorded doing so.
Unfortunately, the universe didn’t seem quite so keen to let go of him.
Here’s hoping Tarcil’s right and this all blows over the moment the next scandal or big story comes along, he thought.
Which hopefully wouldn’t take too long. “Man Insults Princess!” had a nice ring to it, but it had nothing on the possibility of war on the horizon. Already stories were circulating about the Imperium and Alliance moving to a war footing. His little scandal might have momentarily interrupted that story, but soon enough the media would switch back to talking about the coming conflict.
A conflict that was looking to be the biggest in galactic history, with this being the first time two superpowers were going to war.
He had no doubt the Consortium would be looking on gleefully from the sidelines, looking to sell to both sides and pour fuel on the fire wherever they could. They only stood to benefit from their two main rivals weakening each other. Which was what had kept the uneasy peace for so long. The fact that if any two powers started fighting, the third would be able to tip the scale in either direction.
Unfortunately, with the events of Raknos-Three, the Imperium was required to respond. They literally couldn’t choose not to. Not unless the Empress wanted to take a massive hit to her prestige. No, black flag operation or not, the Alliance had committed an act of war and the Empress was obligated to respond.
And they knew for a fact that it was the Alliance now.
According to Friska, one of the prisoners had finally broken. How she’d found out about it he didn’t know, nor did he want to. All that mattered was that they’d found what the Edixi had been doing on Raknos-Three, and how they’d planned to escape with an Imperial fleet in orbit.
Apparently, like they’d suspected, the Roach attack had merely been bait for an Imperial response. Once the Imperial relief force arrived and were sufficiently committed, the Edixi had broken out their new jamming system. One adapted to make use of the unique environment of Raknos to be as effective as possible.
Then they’d set to work.
For the inevitable conflict with the Imperium.
Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy, he thought.
It made him sick. All those people that had died. They’d died as part of a field test. A field test that had now guaranteed that the thing that it was to prepare for was now going to happen.
Much sooner than he imagined anyone in the Alliance – or the Imperium for that matter – would have liked. Imperium was still consolidating its conquests, Earth included, and the Alliance was still standardizing. Though to be fair, that had been the case for the entirety of its existence.
Unlike the Imperium, the Alliance wasn’t a monolith. It contained lots of voices and agendas.
What was that saying? The cow is the racehorse designed by committee? He shook his head.
As for how the Edixi were to escape? That was simple. A few weeks after Jason’s escape, and mere hours after Imperial reinforcements had shown up in-system in force, a Roach pirate fleet had jumped in.
…And promptly jumped out again after seeing the force arrayed against it.
Still, it was clear for all to see that the pirates had been the Edixi’s intended extraction plan.
While it was near impossible to force an engagement in space with an enemy that didn’t want one – they’d just run in the opposite direction – they could have forced the Imperial fleet out of orbit long enough for them to extract their people and the Alliance special forces, before jumping from the system. Leaving the Imperial fleet powerless to stop them, and utterly ignorant of the fact that there’d been Alliance troops on the ground at all.
To Jason’s eyes it was a plan that seemed fraught with risk for gains that could have been imitated – if to a lesser degree – with wargames. The timing of the Roach fleet’s arrival, for example, seemed incredibly late. Late enough that it suggested there’d been some issue there. Which he supposed was only to be expected when you based your super-secret black ops operation around the timeliness and professionalism of pirates and terrorists.
He could only wonder what the heads of the Alliance had been thinking when they’d cooked this plan up? Hell for all he knew, it hadn’t even been the heads of the alliance. Just some black-ops spook that had overreached.
Regardless, war was now inevitable.
He glanced around the table.
And the people with me will be right in the middle of it, he thought.
“So what are you going to do?” Raisha asked suddenly, jolting him from his thoughts. The alien woman had a small smirk on her face as she eyed him. “Settle down and be a house-husband for us?”
Jason just shook his head and laughed, much to her poorly concealed disappointment. “Ha, no. I’d go crazy in a week.”
Though that begged the question, what did he want to do? It was funny, he’d spent what felt like months thinking about nothing more than escaping the military… but now that he was out? He had no idea what he should do.
Go back to Earth? He thought. Not a chance. I’d be killed in a week by some nutjob freedom-fighter after being labeled as a collaborator. Stay in the Imperium? He shook his head. That’s probably not a good idea either. I’ve just pissed off an Imperial princess… Perhaps I could lie low on one of the border worlds?
Gurathu would probably be happy to see him…
“You could try the periphery?”
Every eye in the room locked onto Tarcil at his quiet suggestion.
Naturally, Raisha was the first to speak. “The Periphery!? Are you insane?”
The alien male shot his fellow Shil the stink eye. “I’m not. If you’d let me finish, I’ll explain why.”
As if dismissing her completely, he turned back to Jason. “The Periphery might have a bad reputation – much of it well earned – but I spent the last few months on a posting out there. And it’s not as bad as it sounds. Mostly. While much of it’s a mess, there’s plenty of safe worlds out there that are Imperial aligned.”
Jason resisted the urge to snort. Imperial aligned just meant that while they were still technically sovereign nations, they were in the process of being diplomatically annexed by the Imperium. One military base or ‘trading post’ at a time. In the same fashion as the British Empire did way back in the colonial era.
Still, underhanded or not, the Imperium would take a firm hand to any pirate admiral or warlord who decided to try and take a swipe at a world they had interest in. That was the only reason those otherwise sovereign nations tolerated Imperial troops operating on their worlds.
“Worlds like that, they’re desperate for skilled… anything really.” Tarcil continued. “But they’re especially eager for people familiar with Imperial tech.”
From across the room, Kernathu made a considering noise. “Being on the frontier would keep you safe from the Interior, military and ornery nobles.” She paused, ignoring the betrayed look Raisha was sending her way. “Or at least, safer.”
“Safer?” Jason deadpanned.
The look his fellow engineer sent him was somehow even flatter. “You were the one that insulted an Imperial princess, not me. Safe is relative.”
Well… he couldn’t argue that.
“The Periphery, eh?” he said, ignoring Raisha’s pout.
He couldn’t deny the idea appealed. It was an opportunity to get out from under the Imperium’s thumb. And some part of him was excited to see a world that didn’t belong to the Imperium. There’d be new races. New technology. And an opportunity to see those things in a setting where he wasn’t either shooting at them or being shot at by them.
Most importantly, his skills would finally be useful.
He turned back to eye the rest of the room. “Well, I suppose it’s worth a shot.”
After all, what was the worst that could happen?
First / Previous / Next
Another three chapters are also available on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/bluefishcake
We also have a (surprisingly) active Discord where and I and a few other authors like to hang out: https://discord.gg/RctHFucHaq
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2022.01.29 07:25 RedditModsAreVeryBad Looking for English speaking players/guilds in GMT+7 timezone.
I played EQ2 since launch, moved to Venekor when they opened RP-PVP servers and have probably spent more time in EQ2 over the years than all my other games combined. I haven't played for a few years now but was wondering if there exists such a thing as a group of players or guilds who play in my timezone, speak English and would be prepared to play with an experienced but very rusty old Bruiser. Happy to either play my old toon (lvl 100 something) or start from scratch.
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2022.01.29 07:25 Round-Ad-3676 Is this a port to connect a monitor and if so, what kind of port is it?
|submitted by Round-Ad-3676 to pcmasterrace [link] [comments]|
2022.01.29 07:25 Apprehensive_Air8374 What is a popular opinion you disagree with?
2022.01.29 07:25 FlyGrandma Lord X and Jebus (In case someone wants to make a cover of them)
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2022.01.29 07:25 MilanTheMyth Should I go for Offline learning or Online learning?
So my school has decided to start Offline classes from 31st January. In my class, 3/4 of the people have opted for face to face including most of my friends. But my parents on the other hand want me to stay studying online and have already already made me choose Online. Main reason I want to go Offline is because: 1. Most my friends have gone offline 2. Online is way too distracting, hard to concentrate and boring.
The only problem being that I have to stay there for 8 hours from 8 AM to 4 PM and that it will be risky and I might get infected.
What do you reckon?
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2022.01.29 07:25 Nigrum_and_seraphin Chiba Takayuki tier list
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2022.01.29 07:25 Bud_powell Has anyone noticed that the detached render (command line) in blender 3.0 is much slower than in blender render?
I usually use detached rendering (rendering from command line) in blender because it tends to be more stable. But in Blender 3.0, my render times are significantly slower than when I render from the blender interface. This was true both when rendering with my GPU RTX 3060Ti and my CPU AMD Ryzen 9 5900x.
Anyone else notice this?
Any ideas why this would be? I've checked my path, and it is set to blender 3.0.
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2022.01.29 07:25 mostafa_tux این شیرینی ها را نخرید / هشدار به مردم
رکنا: سازمان استاندارد ایران با ارسال نامه ای به اتحادیه اتحادیه صنف دارندگان قنادی، شیرینی فروش وکافه قنادی اعلام کرد که عرضه شیرینی در جعبه های با درب پشت طوسی و فاقد روکش و نشان های بهداشتی ممنوع است.
لینک دریافت خبرنامه ایمیلی:
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2022.01.29 07:25 humongousranger47 Elon Hydrogen Sonata 100x Potential |just stealth launched| Low MC| Liquidity locked 🚀 BSC Token hidden gem | Elon tweet based token | Giveaway for Holders
The Hydrogen Sonata token and its symbol $HYDROGEN is the newest multi rewarding token on the BSC Chain. With an auto-liquidity system, Hydrogen Sonata token rewards holders in HYDROGEN with the option through our dashboard to select over 8 tokens to gain dividends from. Simultaneously! Rewarding holders with the latest RFI contract on the Binance Smart Chain!
Fair Launch (No presale) Launched 10min ago
Contract address : 0x599adc442ecf76140f407d047d3641ecf40f4e72
Total Supply 100,000,000,000,000
Buy/sell slippage 8%
2% Reflection 1% Lp 2% Burn 4% Marketing
✅ Contract is 100% Verified ✅ Locked Lp ✅ Based Dev ✅ Ownership Renounced means never manipulated ✅ Stable Start Marketing Cap ✅ Max Buy/Sell ✅ 24/7 Active tg Group with shillers mods ✅ Big Marketing plans
Phase 1 Website launch Hydrogen Sonata is born Community driven Stealth launch
Phase 2 More marketing(top holders will be put into a group to discuss the what marketing would suit us best and have say in how to roll our usecase) , Coin tiger, CG and CMC listings
Phase 3 Roll out usecase, partner with coin swap, roll out brand (merch, NFTs for community and billboards across london, Paris and USA)
Phase 4 Become a global community and a house hold name and major listings to follow! More influencers (Caesar and Trav) Metaverse development
🥞 PancakeSwap (V2): https://pancakeswap.finance/swap?outputCurrency=0x599adc442ecF76140F407D047d3641ecF40F4E72
📈 Chart (Bogged): https://charts.bogged.finance/?c=bsc&t=0x599adc442ecf76140f407d047d3641ecf40f4e72
🔒 Liquidity locked 🔒: https://www.pinksale.finance/#/pinklock/record/17645?chain=BSC
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2022.01.29 07:25 RH34P3R 3 terrifying true stories scarier than fiction
|submitted by RH34P3R to YouTubePromoter [link] [comments]|
2022.01.29 07:25 KingTMW DM me if you are looking to make some extra money🤑. Have to be located in IA or NE. Will go in detail in message
2022.01.29 07:25 knowalld0c maybe someone wants chatting with me?...👉👈 no? well, okie....
2022.01.29 07:25 ConversationSilver94 Need Help
Hello, I am new to C language and my instructor gave me a task and I dont know where to start.
The task states:
2022.01.29 07:25 mostafa_tux 7 مزیت مرتب کردن دندان ها با ارتودنسی شفاف
به لطف درمان ارتودنسی دندان این روزها نامرتبی دندان ها به راحتی درمان می شود و در طرح لبخند افراد با کمک آن تغییرات مثبتی ایجاد می شود. هرچند که روش های درمانی
لینک دریافت خبرنامه ایمیلی:
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2022.01.29 07:25 DependentTouch5064 Trading 7 DM Santa Paws for robux
2022.01.29 07:25 mostafa_tux همه چیز درباره معروف ترین انواع رژیم لاغری
حتما شما هم از دوستان و آشنایان خود شنیده اید که رژیم فلان از بقیه بهتر است و می توان وزن بیشتری را با آن کم کرد یا باعث شل شدن پوست نمی شود.
لینک دریافت خبرنامه ایمیلی:
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2022.01.29 07:25 feather_of_charcoal He’s got a point tho
2022.01.29 07:25 Crooked_Cock Literally the most pathetic hold in the entire game, even Riverwood is bigger
|submitted by Crooked_Cock to SkyrimMemes [link] [comments]|
2022.01.29 07:25 szzxphy Chem and methods, what are the core concepts I should understand when starting the subjects (year 11)
I've been able to understand most of the holiday homework, especially with methods, though I'm still concerned. I'd like to spend the last 2 days studying for these two
submitted by szzxphy to vce [link] [comments]
2022.01.29 07:25 Mryblvck Wich amount of fury/ snow owl/ skele-rex/ t-rex / dodo would be fair for a neon-griffin? Looking for one
2022.01.29 07:25 mostafa_tux ضوابط و فهرست مواد غذایی مشمول درج قیمت تولید کننده اعلام شد+ جدول
رکنا: رئیس سازمان حمایت مصرف کنندگان و تولید کنندگان با ارسال نامه ای به بخش های انجمن های مختلف تولیدی ضوابط و لیست مواد غذایی مشمول درج قیمت تولید کننده را اعلام کرد.
لینک دریافت خبرنامه ایمیلی:
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2022.01.29 07:25 joakimposener Funny quotes from the show! (Spoiler warning)
My favourite is when they find the kid in the firestation and when everything is solved Brett is bringing the kid out to Rusak.
Rusak: Hey I heard you where one tuff son of a bitch Brett: Language!
What is yours?
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2022.01.29 07:25 iZenter The beauty of this game is amazing
|submitted by iZenter to ForzaHorizon [link] [comments]|
2022.01.29 07:25 mostafa_tux چرا تیگو ۸ پرو وارد باشگاه میلیاردی ها شد؟/ گفت و گو با حسین خسروانی فعال بازار خودرو
داستان از آنجایی شروع شد که یک شب زمستانی تیگو 8 پرو مزین به برچسب قیمت یک میلیارد و 750 میلیون تومانی شد همین بهانه ای شد تا ببینیم چطور این خودرو نیامده وارد باشگاه میلیاردی شد؟
لینک دریافت خبرنامه ایمیلی:
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