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Posted by: Garfunkel
« on: April 02, 2018, 01:26:04 PM »

Unless someone comes up with a fix, this campaign is dead, unfortunately.
Posted by: Happerry
« on: April 02, 2018, 01:29:44 AM »

I agree with Iranon.   I don't think they'd blab, at least not immediately.   If they run into hostile aliens, they'd probably inform the rest of the world then because better an egg in the face then possible extinction (unless the aliens seem really easy to beat/very minimal threat), but until then they'd probably seek to both secure the potential loot and seek more information in if said wrecks are old or recent.   After all, the aliens might be a threat, but the other powers aren't exactly bosom buddies with Russia either.  .  . 
Posted by: Iranon
« on: March 30, 2018, 04:35:26 PM »

I would expect Russia to keep tight control on important information, and so far you have portrayed them in a way consistent with this.
So... my vote is keep silent about specifics but be upfront about increased focus on combat spacecraft.

If they militarise heavily, others will probably follow suit. If resulting diplomatic tensions require it, information about a potential alien threat can be shared as necessary.
Posted by: Garfunkel
« on: March 30, 2018, 02:37:39 PM »


PATO expands to Uranus orbit with the creation of Fuel Group, initially consisting of two Spruance class fuel harvesting bases moved to the location by tugs. Additional FHBs will be constructed as money permits. Uranus was chosen because the Sorium in its atmosphere is at accessibility 1 though there is only just over hundred thousand tons, compared to Neptune, which has far more Sorium but at a lower accessibility. PATO plans to move Fuel Group to Neptune once Uranus has been harvested dry.

PATO council decides to limit commercial shipyards to 150,000 tons per slipway and two slipways, as there is no foreseeable need for larger yards.

PATO moves ten Construction Brigades to Luna in preparation for the construction of an Oracle Mk.2 surveillance base. Once that is completed, the brigades will be moved to Mars to erect a third Oracle on the Red Planet.

Due to the manner in which the Russian science ships repeatedly give the slip to the PATO gunboats, and their poor suitability for surveillance operations, the Genesis class stealth scout is born. It's main function is to carry the large Teledyne built BAY-108 passive thermal sensor, allowing ships of the class to clandestinely monitor large areas of space. The ships will rely on their small size to avoid detection.

Russia finishes surveying Luyten's Star, finding only one additional jump point. Russian survey efforts are directed next to the other four jump points in Sol system. Since PATO has no clue of the existence of jump points, they assume that the Russians give them the slip when they transit out of Sol. The Russians discover jump points to Alpha Centauri, Epsilon Eridani, WISE 1507+7027 and LHS 292. The last especially gives a shock to the Russian leadership: there is an ancient construction on the other side of the jump point and several wrecks in the inner system. The construct turns out to be a jump gate, that allows any ship to transit the jump point by itself, as well as enabling communications through the JP. The wrecks are more chilling - Russians have no way of knowing how old they are. The Survey Group immediately returns to Earth and the Russian administration argues the matter: the possibility exists that warlike and advanced aliens are present mere one jump from Sol, presenting an extinction level threat. PATO and China should be informed so that humanity can jointly prepare its defenses. Or the wrecks could be thousands of years old, remnants of some battle against the Invaders or something else, and might offer a treasure trove of unknown technologies that Russia should exploit alone.

Please post whether you think Russia should keep silent regarding the wrecks or inform the other powers. This means admitting to the existence of jump points, something that the other two do not even seem to suspect yet.
Posted by: Iranon
« on: March 30, 2018, 06:32:40 AM »

Very good read!
Shame we won't see any Glory Devices going off though.
Posted by: Garfunkel
« on: March 29, 2018, 01:59:52 PM »


"So this... Akademik Nikolay Basov is six thousands tons?" Admiral John Richardson asked. Lieutenant-Commander Nicholas Joyce, his intelligence officer, confirmed. "Yes, it's a new class, called Udaloy. The Russians claim that it's a science support vessel that will help the older Krivaks to survey solar wind effects and search for gravity waves and something like that. Look here", the spook pointed at the large image of the Russian ship displayed on the wall. "It has five sensor arrays that are identical to our geological survey sensors. But the Krivaks carry slightly different antennas. Russians have definitely improved their engines as Udaloy only has a single engine whereas the Krivaks have three, yet you can see the massive difference in thermals", Joyce paused as he brought up numbers. "Yeah, Krivak thermal output is twenty-two and half, whereas Udaloy has two hundred", he read out loud.

"Did you say two hundred?" Incredulous Vice-Admiral Michael Hood asked. "Yes, our Annies and Bisons have thermal output of five hundred but that's because they carry ten engines. Which means that either they've somehow boosted Nuclear Thermals to impossible levels or, more likely, they've cracked Nuclear Pulse engines way ahead of us", Joyce explained.

"That's not ideal. But the scientists assure me that they will catch up soon", Richardson allowed. "Sir, that's not the thing that has me worried. This is", Joyce continued, pointing to a large construct in the middle of the new Russian ship. "Measured by volume, it takes up a quarter of the tonnage and space of the ship. That's twenty-five percent of six thousand tons. Whatever that is, it's massive. And sir, I strongly suspect it has absolutely nothing to do with solar wind".

"Where are they now?" Richardson asked. Lieutenant-Commander Natasha Howarth, the operations officer, answered that question. "It departed Earth with both Krivaks on a heading towards Jupiter. We lost the group once they were far enough from Earth since Mars is currently on the wrong side but our listening station on Europa spotted them right on time. They are actually passing Jupiter by over fifty million kilometers. If they do not change course, they will right by the comet Borrelly, where we have a civilian mining op going on, soon after which we will lose them again, as Saturn's orbit has it in the wrong position. If they don't cut velocity, Europa can track the Udaloy's thermals for little over two hundred million kilometers. But as you all know, space is big so if they make a course change after we lose them, they could head anywhere and we would be none the wiser", she explained.

"Sir, this is why I am recommending sending the Patrol Flotilla to shadow them", Joyce picked up. "The SQR-105 on the Flowers can spot Udaloy from four hundred thousand kilometers and as far as we know, the Russians do not have any sensors better than Mark One Eyeball on them. They won't even know that our boys are on their tail", the spook said forcefully.

The admirals looked at each for a long moment, until Richardson nodded. "Very well. Ops, draft the order. PatFlo 1 is to shadow Udaloy at three-hundred fifty thousand kilometers as long as possible. Under no circumstances are they allowed to open fire at the Russians, except as a last resort for self defence. I emphasize that point, we do not need an international incident in space at this time", Richardson ordered.

"Yes sir, I've had Captain Gardiner keep the flotilla at high readiness, they are ready to depart inside an hour", Howarth answered.


As Patrol Flotilla One departs Earth at 2300 km/s velocity, Chinese and Russian observers dutifully note their real speed, that PATO mission control had painstakingly kept secret until now.


"Disappeared? What do you mean they disappeared?" The harried sensor tech could only shug his shoulders. "Sir, they were close to the edge of coverage and then they just vanished. We should have been able to track them for a few more klicks for sure, but if they cut down on their emissions, well", the tech shrugged again. "Patrol Flotilla One, this Europa Station. We've lost contact. I repeat, we've lost all contact", the station commander transmitted to the incoming six gunboat flotilla. Captain Gardiner wasn't happy but with the myopic thermal sensors that his gunboats carried, he saw no point in scouring the immense space beyond Jupiter's orbit. Finding the Russians now would be like finding a needle on a haystack.


Captain First Rank Yura Yuruev, captain of Akademik Nikolay Basov had the channel open to his junior colleagues, Captains Second Rank Karine Kryuchkov of Frunze and Borya Ponomaryov of Murmansk. He had fought off the nausea caused by the jump engine's activation and now stared silently at the main viewscreen. Realizing the gravity of the moment, he cleared his throat before speaking, knowing that every word was recorded:
"That was a small step for a ship, but a giant leap for the human race. For the first time ever, man has entered another solar system. Mother Russia is the first nation to cross the interstellar abyss. Today we have made history!"

He closed the channel and nodded to his helmsman. His ship would head towards the star and survey any planets discovered, as well as figure where the task group had actually jumped into. The gravitational survey ships would start on their job, finding additional jump points in this new system.

Soon information streamed in to the bridge. They had arrived at Luytens Star, a M4-V red dwarf slightly over 12 light years from Sol. At 0.26 Solar masses and 0.012 Solar luminosity, it was not much to look at. Two gas giants, a dwarf planet and a small asteroid belt formed the planetary system. The nearest gas giant was mere 16 million kilometers from the star. The second gas giant, the third companion of the star at 89 million kilometers - making it roughly as far from its parent star as Venus is from Sol - had twelve moons, mostly smaller ones but the second moon was terrestrial. It had a gravity of 0.83. Tide-locked to the gas giant, the moon was larger than Earth and still had a day-night cycle. Most surprisingly, it had an fully human-compatible atmosphere, though twice as thick as on Earth.

Yuruev rubbed his hands together. It was no paradise, but if rich deposits of TN minerals could be discovered on it, or on other bodies here, the system would be well worth investing in. It would take nineteen days for his ship to reach the innermost planet and begin the geological survey process.


When Akademik Nikolay Basov reached the moon in question and turned its sensors on, its crew received a shock, for humanity now encountered aliens for the first time. The race of vaguely marsupial creatures that inhabited the moon was seemingly in late-Medieval technological level with industrial revolution under way. The moon had no oceans or seas, though smaller waterways and lakes were present. Villages and towns dotted the surface, the largest being easily discernible as a city thanks to its grid-like layout. Stunned, captain Yuruev ordered all sensors to record. Unfortunately the aliens had no transmissions to record and Yuruev certainly did not dare to make landfall. And then, as if to make things even more complicated, fate threw up a surprise find: all eleven TN minerals were present on the moon, though some were at fairly small amounts and poor accessibility. Regardless, the moon was a jackpot - only a single jump from Sol, behind the nearest jump point, perfectly colonizable and with all necessary minerals present. Except that there were hundreds of millions of natives present. Yuruev had a feeling that he knew exactly what Kreml would do next.


Since the Russian survey group had spent several months at Luyten's Star, Jupiter had moved farther away from the jump point and thus Europa Station did not see their return and it was Ceres Station that spotted just few hours before Earth Station did. PATO analysts noted that the ships returned on an almost identical but flipped heading from where they had departed, proving that wherever they had been, the only course change was to correct for Earth's orbital motion.


Once again black limousines drove Very Important Persons from the nearby airfield into the bowels of Mount Yamantau. The ships had not transmitted any information electronically as they approached Earth - this already tipped the Russian leadership that they had found something important. To avoid the omnipresent electronic espionage of PATO, the three captains personally debriefed Russian Space Command and the crews of the three ships were placed in quarantine at one of the remaining Closed Cities behind Ural mountains. Kontr-admiral Ilya Zhukov represented RUSKOSMOS alongside Juia Borisov. General-mayor Yurik Demidov represented the Russian Army, while Administrator Pavlik Kiselyov - governor of Mercury - represented industrial interests and ambassador Senia Sokolov the foreign ministry. President Maksim Samoylov chaired the meeting.

"And this is a picture of what the aliens look like", Zhukov announced:

"So cute", Sokolov instinctively said before composing herself.
"Indeed they are but our ships witnessed large-scale fighting at one village so they are perfectly capable of violence. Appearances can be deceiving", Zhukov continued.
"So let me reiterate to make sure we've all understood this correctly. The moon is perfectly suitable for Russian habitation, even sort of resembling Russia, except for the red-black plant life, and all the Trans-Newtonian minerals we could desire are present. But there are millions of these critters present as well", President Samoylov spoke.
"Why is the plant-life coloured that way", asked Kiselyov and before Samoylov managed to shush him quiet, Borisov launched into an explanation: "it is due to the nature of Luyten's Star. As a red dwarf, most of its radiation is on the Infrared part of the EM spectrum, as well as the red-slash-magenta part of Visible Light part. Thus the plants have evolved to capture as much energy from the IR side as possible, and for that purpose the colour black is most advantageous"
"Thank you Julia, that was enlightening but we do not need to know such details to make the important decision. What are our options? Earth is almost out of Duranium and despite the best efforts of Kiselyov, Mercury will not save our industry. Luyten's Star smells like salvation", Samolyov stated. Nobody mentioned how the president's popularity largely hinged on the success of the 21st century space race.
"Regrettably the Army is not in a condition to organize an invasion on a planetary scale. We are barely strong enough to resist our enemies here on Earth. Fighting hundreds of millions of aliens, regardless if they are armed with swords or muskets, is simply a task an order of magnitude larger than what we can realistically plan for. Give me five years and unlimited funds, and things will be different", General Demidov stated.
"Before we even contemplate using nukes to pound these aliens into submission", started Sokolov carefully, "I would like to propose a more subtle approach. Let's try to communicate with them. Share the warning about extra-galactic invaders. Offer industrial and technological assistance. Turn the aliens into another Korea or Vietnam", she carefully avoided mentioning Afghanistan, "and in order to facilitate all this help, we naturally must establish a colony. And if we mine few tons of minerals that are useless to the natives, well, that's just our due reward for all the humanitarian assistance we are offering to them", she finished.
"I like that plan", Samoylov nodded approvingly.
"Except that sooner or later the Americans or Chinese will find out about our jump engine, send their ships to Luyten's Star and then we'll have to compete with cheeseburgers and sushi!" Kiselyov ranted.
"Perhaps not. Thanks to the work of Miss Borisov and her colleagues, we are ready to start constructing our first armed space ship. China has no military vessels and PATO has six gunboats. The boats that we'll have in service inside a year, is better than their Flower class", Zhukov offered.

Type 2037 Soobrazitelnyy class Gunboat 2 700 tons 74 Crew 277 BP TCS 54 TH 120 EM 0
2222 km/s Armour 4-17 Shields 0-0 Sensors 1/1/0/0 Damage Control Rating 1 PPV 12
Maint Life 4.27 Years MSP 64 AFR 58% IFR 0.8% 1YR 6 5YR 85 Max Repair 20 MSP
Intended Deployment Time: 12 months Spare Berths 0

GAZPROM NPE-40 (3) Power 40 Fuel Use 85.5% Signature 40 Exp 10%
Fuel Capacity 250 000 Litres Range 19.5 billion km (101 days at full power)

D3-R10 Laser (4) Range 30 000km TS: 2222 km/s Power 3-2 RM 1 ROF 10 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
OLGA 32-2500 (1) Max Range: 64 000 km TS: 2500 km/s 84 69 53 37 22 6 0 0 0 0
ERGOSMASH Reactor (6) Total Power Output 9.45 Armour 0 Exp 7%

JULIA R60 (1) GPS 576 Range 4.5m km Resolution 60

This design is classed as a Military Vessel for maintenance purposes

The admiral pointed at the jump point on the map. "There is no other entrance into Luyten's Star and no way to sneak in. As soon as Kiev is ready, it will be parked on top of the jump point and Miss Sokolov will announce whatever convenient excuse we want to use. Then, when the other powers find out about jump points, we announce the existence of that jump point and declare that everything behind it is property of the Russian Federation and blocked to other countries. By then we should have multiple frigates guarding the jump point. The other will curse us but they will not start a war over it, because there are four other jump points available and they do not know what lies behind", the Admiral lectured.
"YES! YES! And we can move factories to the moon as well as laboratories, protecting them!" Kiselyov shouted, excitement obvious on his reddened face.
President Samoylov looked around but could not see anyone objecting.
"Very well. That is the plan. Please proceed. Meeting adjourned", he simply stated, leaving the details to lesser people.


"Something is happening in Russia", Joyce announced to Richardson. "They are building a new class in their military yard that has been idle for years. Meanwhile, the three science ships are under armed guard, and their crews have not made a single update on social media, or even called their families. This stinks boss", the spook continued.
"But do you have anything concrete", the admiral countered, to which the lieutenant-commander could only shake his head. "Then keep digging. I need something solid to take to the PATO Council before they will authorize anything, especially with the vote regarding self-rule for Mars is coming up soon and all the politicians focusing on that", Richardson ordered.
Posted by: Garfunkel
« on: March 29, 2018, 01:57:24 PM »


"I have some bad news and some good news people", Admiral Richardson opened the meeting. "As you're all probably aware, the long-debated budgets cuts happened and the politicians have reached a compromise. The good news is that we're not being stood down as an organization and our operating budget hasn't been slashed badly. The army transformation process even continues without delay."

"And the bad?" Asked Rear-Admiral Schelleis.

"No new construction. The six gunboats are all that Mobile Command will get. No orbital weapon platforms, no missile bases. Apparently there is no credible threat since both China and Russia have been playing nice so long. Logistics Command won't get any further support either. So what we have now is what we'll have to manage for the foreseeable future", Richardson explained.

"What's the point of dominant position if we're going to fritter it away", muttered Vice-Admiral Hood. The others present nodded.

"It is what it is. This happens to every military at some point and frankly, I'm surprised we got so many rich years before this happened", Richardson said. "For now, I'm requesting that you process possible cuts in your departments and forward those plans to my office."


1500 kilometers east of Moscow stands Mount Yamantau, reaching 1640 meters into air, making it the tallest mountain in the Southern Ural range. Two hundred meters below sea level, buried under thousands and thousands of tons of rock and shielded by gigantic blast doors, top of the line security systems and armed guards, the leaders of Russian Federation were conducting a meeting with their top scientists.

40-year old Julia Borisov was not nervous despite the crowd of generals, admirals, oligarchs and politicians staring at her. She had fought, claw and tooth, her way to the top of Russian academia through the unforgiving field of mathematics and physics. She had bullied and cajoled her lesser colleagues to fall in line behind her. And she had done the impossible - given her Motherland an edge that no-one else had.

"Good afternoon. I am proud to announce that the jump engine works in all simulations and powers up flawlessly in laboratory conditions. And before you snort, let me remind you that full field testing is impossible until Udaloy deploys with the engine. So far our surveyors have located four likely locations where gravity has weakened the space-time continuum, enabling the jump engine to work but they haven't finished their work yet, so it possible there are more. Before we get to that, let me once more remind you that we do not and can not know what will happen when the engine is turned on. It is unlikely that transition through a weak point could be kept secret from the Chinese and PATO, but-"

"Let us worry about that, Miss Borisov, you've done your part. The country thanks you for all your efforts, you and all the comrades of the science team", interrupted Maksim Samoylov, the current President. Julia nodded and departed the room, catching an elevator a floor up back to her labs. Everyone involved in the project had been relocated here once she had convinced the administration.


China is plagued by Duranium shortages, causing significant delays in production. Chinese shipyards sit idle and construction factories operate intermittently. To get more Duranium, both Russia and China have opened automated mining colonies on the dark side of Mercury.


All three powers continue peaceful growth. PATO increased the size of its listening posts on Phobos and Ceres, to be able to better monitor the increased Chinese traffic in the inner system. To avoid increasing tensions between the powers, PATO refrained from putting installations on Mercury. PATO also established a new government-run mining operation on the dwarf planet Orcus, far in outer system. Orcus has over 35 thousand tons of Corundium, perfectly accessible. It would take the two Heavy Transport Squadrons several months to transport 25 automated mines that far, but once in place, the mass driver would tirelessly supply factories on Earth with the valuable mineral necessary for building more mining equipment.

Terraforming of Mars achieved a significant milestone in September when the ice sheets melted, increasing the temperature from an average of -28C to -24.3C. Mars atmosphere was now 0.0964 psi, consisting of 7.26% Nitrogen, 82.38% Carbon Dioxide and 10.36% Argon.


Jane's Space Ship Catalogue lists the following operational ships at the end of the year:

10x Bison class freighters
4x Victory class troop transports
10x Annie class tugs
4x Bull class tankers
10x Buffalo class freighters
3x Einstein class geological survey ships
6x Flower class gunboats
10x OWP24A class orbital weapon platforms
10x OWP24B class orbital weapon platforms

5x Jianghu class freighters
2x Luhu class geological survey ships

5x Kirov class freighters
2x Krivak-G class gravitational survey ships, disguised as solar wind science vessels

Leonard Container Group: 117 ships with 4 909 700 total tonnage and 101.23 current share price
Arato Transport: 20 ships with 1 006 400 total tonnage and 15.59 current share price
Begum Shipping Company: 4 ships with 324 650 total tonnage and 3.23 current share price

Xiao Transport Services: 47 ships with 1 991 550 total tonnage and 42.09 current share price
Chien Container Company: 26 ships with 1 324 800 total tonnage and 21.39 current share price
Xu Company: 6 ships with 226 850 total tonnage and 5.04 current share price
Han Containers: 1 ships with 39 850 total tonnage and 2.04 current share price
Posted by: Garfunkel
« on: July 18, 2017, 06:13:40 AM »


"Well, that was a short life time wasted", Sullivan remarked to Hart as the five team leaders of the SURCOM GEO Close Survey Mission entered GEV Albert Einstein, tasked as GEO Survey Taxi. The female soldier-slash-surveyor didn't bother to answer. Everyone was feeling frustrated and disappointed - Ceres had been devoid of TN-materials and not having any found any additional material on Corduba smelled like failure. "Though I'm not sad leaving this miserably rock behind", Sullivan continued, "I am sorry that we can't keep taking the miners money off of them in poker!" The other three men - Lieutenant Commanders Liam Lane, Adam Fowler and Matthew Parkinson - snorted. "Don't worry Alex, Vibilia has twice as many mines as Corduba, you'll have plenty of new victims", Hart said. Effortlessly, the Einstein lifted off the deformed ball slightly over hundred kilometers wide, setting a course deeper into space. Ten hours later the ship landed on the asteroid Vibilia, the team members snapped their spacesuits shut and got to work.


Administrator Hanson kept his poker face intact as System Administrator Charlotte Phillips outlined the mineral situation that the aides had put together and the future plans to improve it. "As you can see from this table, the previous focus on Duranium, while understandable, was somewhat misguided. We are in a very good situation with Duranium, as well as Boronide, Mercassium, Vendarite and Uridium. With my plan to both increase our number of automated mines, as well as shifting existing ones from Vala to the new site on the comet Encke, the Neutronium situation will slightly improve, though it remains a source of worry for us", the 31-year old woman announced.

"Miss Boyer, you're being transferred from Borrelly to Encke. Miss Power, you'll be moved to Borrelly once Vala has been cleaned out completely, which should happen inside the next 24 months", Phillips continued. Hanson perked up at that. Gemma Power probably wasn't happy that she was being sidelined by some newcomer. She had been the overseer of the most important PATO mining organization, completely under government control and not just babysitting one of the commercial ventures. Maybe he could flame the fires of malcontent in her and get an ally. He smiled contently as Phillips went on:
"The two Light Transport Squadrons of the Logistics Command will be responsible for the transfer. While we could outsource this project, the squadrons are apparently under tasked at the moment, as Admiral Schelleis put it, so I've agreed to give his spacers something to do"


The viewing room was zero-G but all the Very Important Persons present were accustomed to it. The sleek curves of the three gunboats filled the viewing screen as Hemlock, Hyacinth and Jasmine departed their slipways. Admiral John Richardson had gathered his four branch commanders for the occasion as the Pan-Oceanic Treaty Organization launched its first armed space ships. "It's funny that we call them gunboats, when USS Asheville, the last ocean going gunboat, was about half of that size", Vice-Admiral Michael Hood remarked. Rear-Admiral Tomohisa Takei smiled as he countered his colleague: "Well the Yamamoto displaced about seventy thousand tons and was the largest battleship ever built. Yet Nelson's flagship, Victory, was mere three and half thousand tons barely heavier than these gunboats, less than two centuries earlier and was, in her time, just as powerful". Vice-Admiral Jonathan Woodcock nodded in approval. "My point was that it feels stupid to call a three thousand ton ship a gunboat", Hood tried again but the others did not respond, focused as they were on Jasmine turning and leading her sisters towards the barely-visible black hulls of the Orbital Division One, under whose watchful eye the gunboats would go through last minute refits in preparation for their maiden voyage through the inner system.

"Have you warned Gardiner of the Russians secret project?" Richardson asked Woodcock, who now held two posts - commander of the diminished Survey Command and commander of the fledgling Mobile Command. The Brit shook his head: "I thought it prudent not to worry him with such nonsense. Until the spy boys come up with hard facts, Captain Gardiner is better off focusing on his flotilla". The other admirals nodded along - the intelligence report had been lot of hot air, aside from the fact that the Russian research teams had been put under even heavier than usual security. Something was brewing there but when it would come to fruition, and in what form, nobody could say.


RUSSIA OPENS A MINING COLONY ON MERCURY JUST WEEKS AFTER CHINA - screamed the headline, though few passersby seemed interested enough to buy a copy. Anthony Hobbs was old enough that he preferred the feel of actual paper in his hands, though he knew he was part of a ever-diminishing minority. He tapped a button on his smartphone, paying for the paper, and grabbed one. It would make good reading while he sat in the employee bus to the labs. Anthony had never owned a car and, despite his considerably salary as one of PATOs chief scientists, wasn't going to start using a car service either. A card-carrying environmentalist, he swore in the name of public mass transport. Besides, it was interesting to overhear snippets of office gossip from the support staff and junior researchers who mostly made up the passengers and who, not realizing who was hiding behind a newspaper, blathered freely. Which probably explained how both China and Russia could follow PATO's research progress as closely as they did, he thought ruefully. Oh well, that was a problem for the cloak-and-dagger-types. Anthony opened the paper and marveled at the grainy picture of the Russian mass driver, comfortably sitting in the twilight zone of Mercury, that eternally hazy area between the burning hellscape of its "day" side and the frozen wasteland of its "night" side. The paper must have considered the pictures important enough to pay some poor miner from the Planetary Industries mining complex to drive over and snap it. Amused, he engrossed himself in the four page article. He could review the specs of experimental kinetic weaponry later.


Jóse Cortez leaned back over the hood of his Mars buggy, admiring the gigantic pipes of the terraforming unit that had just been turned on. In few hours it would properly belch gasses out to thicken the thin Martian atmosphere but for now, it merely rumbled. He hardly believed that fifteen years before he had been bussing tables at a tourist resort on the cost of the Mediterranean and now he was part of the million-strong Martian Atmosphere Project. It would take decades but eventually the crowded habitats would be moved to museums and humans could walk on the surface without space suits. Once the atmosphere was stronger and the terraformers started breaking down asteroid ice into oxygen, the Martian Life Project would begin, probably employing thrice as many people planting genetically modified plants all over the planet. "Hookay bitches, the heavies are in orbit so haul ass to the loading site and start prepping for the next bastard", a gruff voice, in an godawful Texas drawl that Jóse only barely understood, commanded. Sighing, he rolled inside the buggy and, after double-checking the seals, opened his helmet to make driving somewhat more comfortable. It was going to be a long day.


Captain Martin Faulkner was too busy to admire the sunset, despite having an amazing view of it across the slope of Olympus Mons. His company of mechanized infantry was hull down on the southern slope, hidden in the ancient canals carved by lava flows and undisturbed by the weak gravity of Mars. The fine reddish-brown dust that made the Tharsis region famous had already covered his unit and made him wish fervently that none of his troops had neglected to install the improved dust filters. There was no escaping the dust on the shallow slopes of Olympus Mons since there was nothing blocking the wind. Though that had not stopped his staff sergeant from ordering two privates to hold a camouflage net around him. Martin suspected that the two lads had frakked up somehow and this futile task was their punishment. The dust made it difficult to monitor his map or Unified Multi-System Digital Assistant as it was officially known. What looked like a tablet strapped to his left arm was actually a pretty powerful computer that he could control even suited up, the touch display reacting to the heavy kevlar-rubber gloves he had to wear. Unfortunately the display was in the process of being covered by the Martian dust. At least the process was slow. His company was part of the 6th Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, in turn part of the 24th Airmobile Brigade. Major-General Kate Smith had ordered the brigade to acclimatize to Mars the best way a military can - by training in the worst parts of Mars available. Which is why he was waiting for Colonel Jay Phillips, the CO of the battalion, to unleash his hidden company to take the boys of 7th battalion by surprise as they were advancing towards the top, under mock fire of the infantry of the other two battalions. Finally the symbol marking 15 minutes until execution popped up on the table. Faulkner turned towards his staff sergeant and made the hand-signal for getting ready - no need to use voice comms and possibly give out their location. The fusiliers moved determinedly, gathering their camouflage nets and packing them into their tracked vehicles. Soon enough the company was ready to move, still in utter silence. The thinness of the atmosphere meant that sound didn't travel far. Logically Faulkner knew that there was a lot of noise being produced just few kilometers away, yet he couldn't hear it. Then his UMSDA beeped as the timer reached zero. He flipped the company channel open and said:
"Let's ride"


"Is nobody bothered by the fact that we haven't seen Frunze or Murmansk in months", asked Lieutenant Commander Nicholas Joyce. Nobody in his small team responded. Commander Freya Long, who was in charge of the Survey Office and thus somewhat under-utilized at the moment, had been spending her time in the spy hut, as the Intelligence Office was being called. She looked thoughtful as she pondered the rhetorical question:
"Hmmm, we know the Russians upgraded them somehow as the old geological sensors were replaced with something different when they left, but they still definitely looked like survey sensors, just kinda weird. And it isn't strange that they would be gone for months and months while surveying the outer system, where we have no eyes"
Joyce had to agree. It made sense but his gut said that there was more to this.
"I'm going to suggest to the Admirals that we use the gunboats to shadow them", he proposed but Long was already shaking her head:
"That won't work. They don't have search sensors as they were only intended to work near Earth in the inner system"
"Well, then I'll float the idea of building a dedicated scout vessel", Joyce went on, undeterred. "PATO must know what the other powers are up to out there, in the deep dark!"
Posted by: Shinanygnz
« on: April 14, 2017, 05:13:28 PM »

Great stuff, thoroughly enjoyed it
Posted by: Silvarelion
« on: April 10, 2017, 07:43:40 AM »

This was amazing! The little vignettes of ordinary people really made it come alive.  Can't wait until the next batch!
Posted by: Garfunkel
« on: April 08, 2017, 02:18:05 AM »

Thanks for the tip. Spoiler tags didn't work but Off-Topic one did the trick.
Posted by: MarcAFK
« on: April 08, 2017, 01:15:25 AM »

You had me at rusty knob planet. But 
Off-Topic: show
NSFW busty bukkake queen
  really takes the cake. Might want to offtopic That one with an NSFW tag to boot.
Posted by: Garfunkel
« on: April 07, 2017, 11:44:59 PM »


The bosun's pipe played the shrill noise that Captain Benjamin van Eekelen both loved and hated. Hated, because it hurt his ears. Loved, because it signalled him coming aboard a vessel as its Captain. He hard heard it already when he assumed command of Orbital Weapon Platform Australia and now getting to hear it again, as the new Captain of OWP Sweden, a larger and more complex weapon of war, was a pleasure. But it still sounded annoying. Regardless, he saluted the bosun and the 80 crewmembers who had somehow managed to fit in the airlock. Zero-G made that feat possible and for a moment, Benjamin felt vertigo as rows of saluting soldiers surrounded him in three dimensions. He needed to say few words to these strangers, having had to leave his well-trained crew behind.

"At ease. I am grateful to the PATO Navy for this assignment, as I'm sure you all are. Sweden will be the flagship of the new Division Two and, until Norway is complete, its only unit. That means it is our job to create the working culture and traditions that will maintain our capabilities through good and bad times. You all know that I've transferred from the old second division, now named the fourth but I have no illusions that things that worked well on the A-models might not work so well here, in a B-model. I will soon conduct an inspection of all stations so crew, please return to them. Officers, remain here for a moment, please", the lanky Captain ordered.


"So this new missile is a marked improvement?" Admiral Richardson asked.
"Certainly. I just hope we never have to use them", Vice-Admiral Hood answered.
"LGI-102 Brimstone, which is a fitting name, is obviously the same size as the old Hellstone but the boffins managed to make it deadlier. The velocity is the same, as is the range but the warhead is a third again as effective, measuring 60 on the new standard chart. Which comes with a similar increase in radiation. With the hundred and sixty we are putting to service in Third and Fourth Missile Divisions, we can glass Earth completely, even without using the existing Hellstones. Or I guess we could wipe out Luna City", Hood continued.
Richardson flinched.
"The intelligence boys are pretty sure they've made my office bug-free but please don't say things like that. We don't want the rags write headlines about us planning to nuke all human life", he admonished the long-serving leader of the Planetary Defence Command.
"Fair point. There isn't any other use for these though. I know, and agree, that we must maintain credible nuclear deterrence against China and Russia but I can't help but think that this path is a waste of resources", Hood complained.
"Fine. What about the other missile?" Richardson asked.
"In my opinion, the RSI-101 Skybolt and RSI-103 Skyarrow are even more of a waste. We have nothing that can actually shoot them. Sure, the Skyarrow is noticeably faster and more agile and has a better range than its predecessor but the 'bolts are sitting in storage and the 'arrows will do the same", Hood lamented.
"The R&D needs the practice in developing them and the ordnance factories need the contracts to stay in business. We will eventually have missile boats and then we'll need the missiles", Richardson explained, feeling exasperated that he had to again have this debate.
"Yeah, I hear you and I understand. But shooting unarmed survey ships or, heavens sake, a Chinese liner, isn't very high on my list of space combat achievements", Hood put, standing up.
"True. But it's not like we have any aliens to shoot at either, so just keep at it", Richardson concluded the meeting, waving the other man off.


April 1st became the independence day of Luna City. Having surpassed 100 million colonists, it was the fourth most populous country in PATO, behind Japan, Philippines, and the United States. In fact, the continuing colonization from both inside and outside PATO meant that Luna would surpass the declining population of Japan in the near future. Initially Hanson and the PATO Council advocated that the date be pushed back once talk-show hosts and other comedians pointed it out but the heterogenous population of Luna - consisting of all ethnicities from Earth - embraced the humorous date. Massive amount of paperwork would keep bureaucrats both on the moon and on the planet busy for months, if not years, as the people of Luna often had to resign their previous citizenships and acquire new Luna passports. As barriers for movement, trade and commerce in general had been reduced over the last decade inside PATO, there were few practical issues. And the PATO council grew by one seat, as Administrator Reece Price became the first elected representative of Luna. A special economic relationship emerged, as Luna was still largely dependent on imports from Earth to sustain its growth and had no Trans-Newtonian industry of its own. Yet it exported heavy machinery that was easily fabricated in the low gravity and constructed from local sources, as well as precious metals and, as surprising as it was, special spices. The marketing campaigns for a range of Lunar Spices had soon became a staple of business classes, on how to whip up demand over a imaginary superiority of a perfectly average product. Every foodie and snob on Earth demanded Luna spices on their food. Lunawood had become the go-to place for filming movies that required high-flying or zero-gravity segments and the Lunar dramas were wildly popular escapism back on Earth.


Woodcock sighed. The extensive ground-based survey of Mars has not turned up any additional TN minerals, despite the hopes of everyone working at Survey Command. But since Inner System Survey had finished its mission months ago, at least he could task Albert Einstein to operate as a taxi for the team. Question was - what to survey next? After a moment of deliberation, he chose Ceres. The big asteroid already held a PATO listening post, helping monitor inner system traffic. With luck, the team would find some additional minerals there so the automated mines that were busy reducing Vala could be moved there next, instead of farther away.

The insistent banging against the rough plastic door woke Sullivan up. Groaning, he rolled from under the skinny female that he didn't recognize and reached across the tiny distance that served as a room on Mars habs, opening the door with a press of a button. The smirking face of Lieutenant-Commander Alexandra Hart made his headache worse.
"Good morning sleepyhead, get dressed and say your goodbyes. We're off to Ceres", she informed her nominal superior, though still a civilian to the bone. "Oh, your ladylove does not seem happy to hear the news", Hart continued, mockingly placing a hand over her mouth. "Oops!"
Sullivan had no time to curse, too busy as he was trying to get dressed while a pissed-off Martian pelted her with insults and threats to his masculinity: "You promised you'd be staying here!"

Ten minutes later, the team was walking towards the airlock, ready to depart. As they were cycling through, Hart spoke up:
"Seriously Alex, you have to stop claiming eternal love to them. We all know that you're not going to leave Survey Command and you should know better than to give empty promises like that. At least on Ceres, there won't be any civilians for you to chase!"
Sullivan merely grunted.


Hanson threw the bottle against the wall in his bedroom. PATO council had gone ahead with the creation of a new high-level post, intended to oversee the entire system, now that PATO interests were growing outside of Earth. Hanson had lobbied hard for that position, to maintain his power but somehow Charlotte Phillips, five years his junior, who had been the overseer of the mining operation on comet Swift-Tuttle, was appointed instead of him. He deserved that slot, god dammit! He had no idea that the bitch had such connections or otherwise he would've gotten rid of her. Accidents happened in space all the time.

But maybe this was for the best, he mused as he uncorked another bottle. He could maintain his lucrative network on Earth. He was the big fish, regardless of what Phillips' official title was. He'd act as the puppet master, pulling the strings behind the actors.


Woodcock shook hands with the departing officers and technicians. Now that every asteroid and trans-Neptunian object in the system had been surveyed, there wasn't much for Survey Command to do. They would continue to provide support for the GEO team performing ground-based surveys but that hardly required an extensive staff. Since both Orbital Defence Command and Logistics Command were growing, most of his staff were reassigned to them. In a way, it was an end of an era. He wistfully remembered that moment over four years ago when the first survey ship departed Earth. He was proud that there had not been any major incidents under his command. Richardson had promised that he would head the Mobile Command once it was started. For now, he divided his time between routine command of Survey and planning meetings for Mobile.

Rear-Admiral Tomohisa Takei radiated an aura of calm despite the nervousness inside him. His OWP Division Three was going to be the guinea pigs for the first inter-planetary tug operation in human history. Rear-Admiral Schelleis claimed that his tug skippers had practice and the simulations worked flawlessly but Takei wasn't reassured. One quarter of his force was going to be moved from Earth orbit to Luna. But it was the job of admirals to look calm and collected at all times, so he did just that as the monitors showed the tugs Annie, Glorie, Scuffy, Theodore and Toot attaching the primitive and poorly understood tractor beams to his orbital weapon platforms. All magnetic locks reported solid connections and, one by one, the tugs started their main engines, the miracle reaction of Sorium inside the Gallicite engines enabled reactionless drive and off they went. Just eight minutes later, the operation was complete and OrbDiv 3 now protected Luna City, where sufficient maintenance facilities had been waiting for years alongside the necessary TN-minerals to keep the OWPs maintained.


Admiral Richardson looked over the plan that Rear-Admiral Schelleis had brought to him. PATO already had eyes on Ceres and Phobos and now that surveillance network was going to be extended further - much further. The first two Bison class freighters had been completed and they would undertake the long mission to establish listening posts on Europa and Titan.

"I hope your boys brought few books with them", Richardson said, face deadpan, as he took in the length of each mission. Schelleis merely nodded. With a max speed of merely 632 kilometers per second, the two massive freighters would take a long time to reach their destinations. Richardson was again struck by the exponentially growing distances once you departed the Inner System.
"Fifty-one days for two trips to Europa and back is bad enough but a hundred and thirteen for Titan?" The admiral let out a low whistle.
"Well, the crews will have half a day or so of leave when they get back to Earth for loading before departing again", Schelleis explained.
"I don't even want to know what sort of time-off and overtime pay the crews will get for this", Richardson stated. But he knew those papers would be crossing his desk soon enough.
"That would be a headache for LCG if we had went with Hanson's plan", Schelleis shrugged his shoulders.
"But you know just as well as I do that for strategic reasons, the Fleet must have at least some cargo capacity of its own and not only rely on civilian contracts. If there ever erupts a war...", Richardson left the idea hanging but Schelleis nodded somberly, after all he had been a staunch proponent of military lift capacity over the years.
"And we'll have more Bisons, probably ten all together so that combined with the Buffalos', the Fleet will have ten light and ten heavy freighters. That should be enough for military purposes and Hanson can out-source the rest to LCG", Schelleis said.


General Taylor couldn't think of a better way to spend her 40th birthday than inspecting the four new heavy infantry battalions and their shining new equipment. With a stronger compliment of armoured vehicles and heavy weaponry, they were better suited for extensive assault operations than the earlier light infantry battalions, though they lacked the engineering and support elements that made light infantry superior on the defence. The flags of 4th Battalion, Royal Green Jackets, as well as Queen's Own Yeomanry, and 6th Battalion, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and finally 7th Battalion, The Light Infantry, were waving in the biting autumn wind.

"Look at those bikes go", Major-General Alfie Sullivan exclaimed. Taylor turned her head to see the motor recon squad swoop by on their reinforced, special motor trikes. The noise was awful.
"I guess there's no stealth with those", Brigadier-General Dylan Houghton quipped.
"Noise is not a problem if there is no atmosphere to transmit sound", Brigadier-General Louise Hammond answered him.
"I seriously doubt we would be fighting in space anytime soon", grunted Brigadier-General Louis Short, making the other nine Brigadiers chuckle.
"You could be surprised", said Major-General Kate Smith. "Now that the fifteenth infantry and twenty-fourth airmobile brigade combat teams are nominally ready, we're going to start brigade level exercises and those will include both assaulting and defending on the moon", she continued.

The general officers barely managed to stifle their surprise.

"Smith is correct", Taylor confirmed. "The first two Victory class transporters are under construction so until they are ready, the two brigades will fight each other on every possible environment on Earth and finally, on the Moon itself and, if I can get the permission from both politicos as well as the bean counters, even on Mars!"
Posted by: Garfunkel
« on: April 07, 2017, 11:41:37 PM »


"So the Russians got another shipyard operational?" Admiral Richardson asked.
"Affirmative sir, but based on telescope imaging, they are not constructing any ships there, rather improving on the single slipway", Lieutenant-Commander Joyce responded.
"So we don't have to worry about it for a year or two then. What about the Chinese?"
"TAN is now able to construct ships of 50,000 tons and they are still enlarging it. We have no idea what the Chinese will use it for, unfortunately"
"That's a damn shame son", Richardson let out. He certainly wasn't happy but he knew, on an intellectual level, that it wasn't Joyce's fault. For decades, all Western intelligence agencies had blindly believed in SIGINT over HUMINT. The Russians and the Chinese were not efficient as PATO was but they had far fewer vulnerabilities.
"Well, no point in pulling my hair out over uncertainties. Keep me briefed", Richardson said, dismissing his intelligence officer.


"New rule! Mining permissions for asteroids no longer require my explicit permission. I am delegating that responsibility to you guys", Hanson blurted out. He had just wasted twenty minutes looking at the commercial proposal for 2003 MW12. "There is absolutely no need for me to personally review each of these, now that they are getting more and more commonplace. Just buy the minerals for PATO use and call it a day", he continued. After a short pause, Hanson sent an email out, ordering his underlings to prepare a status update of minerals being purchased from the civilian sector.

The report was presented to him two days later:
Show Spoiler
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Off-Topic: show

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Off-Topic: show

Off-Topic: show

2003 UZ413:
Off-Topic: show

Off-Topic: show

Off-Topic: show

Off-Topic: show

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Off-Topic: show

Off-Topic: show

2003 MW12:
Off-Topic: show

Hanson rubbed his chin. The mineral situation looked much better now than it had looked few years ago and it would only improve further as more and more automated mines were placed on Vala


The launch of the second Russian survey ship did not garner nearly as much anticipation and excitement as the first one had. However, the launch of China's first freighter literally on the same day electrified PATO officials. Despite what the majority of analysts expected, the vessel headed towards Mars instead of Luna. Once it reached the Red Planet, its crew laboriously unloaded the basic buildings blocks of a base. Apparently Beijing was content letting PATO reign on Luna and wanted its first colony/base somewhere little farther away.

"But if they wanted peace and quiet, why not head to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn?" Hood wondered aloud The answer, surprisingly, came from Hanson who had joined his military colleagues:
"Logistics. The PRC hasn't been about Communism for decades now, they only care that the Party is in control. Mars is much closer and easier to colonize than any of the Galiean moons, not to mention Titan or Triton. I bet the Chinese want to get their commercial sector involved after seeing the possibilities for profit, plus they can grow that base relatively quickly even with a handful of freighters"
The admirals nodded in agreement, the explanation was sensible.
"Does this mean that we need to consult their opinion before moving any military assets to protect OUR colony on Mars?" Hood asked.
"Yes. We're not going to start the first space war because we provoked Beijing", Richardson confirmed.

Mere two months later, Hanson's hypothesis was confirmed as Xiao Transport Services launched its first ship, a space liner for wealthy Chinese tourists to cruise to Mars, land briefly and then return to Earth.
Posted by: Garfunkel
« on: April 07, 2017, 11:35:59 PM »


Drinking his morning coffee, Hanson turned the flatscreen in his kitchenette on to the financial channel. Planetary Resources stock was rising after news that they had once more expanded their mining operations on Mercury. The administrator smiled, counting the new value of his portfolio in his head. It had definitely been worth it to purchase a bunch of their stock early on.


"There she goes", Richardson muttered to himself. "Right, we have good scans now, what can you tell me", he asked his aides. On the large screen dominating one wall of the command centre, the Chinese Luhu-class spaceship slowly rotated.
"Sir, target cross section thirty, tonnage estimated one thousand and five hundred", one of the technicians monitoring it answered. "Heading to Luna on a direct intercept course", another continued. Richardson nodded in silence. His four commander stood beside him. The Chinese had not made any secret of the maiden voyage of their first Trans-Newtonian space vessel. They said it was unarmed, a pure scientific mission and PATO intelligence agreed. Despite these reassurances, the atmosphere in the command centre was tense. Luna City had 54.7 million inhabitants now, making it larger than some PATO member states, yet it had no real defences at all.

A collective brief of relief was released once the Chinese craft settled on low orbit, clearly following a similar survey pattern that the earlier PATO ships had followed. "Okay people, back to business as usual", Richardson clapped his hands and nodded to Hood: "Keep me appraised if our friend deviates from the routine".


"We're at eleven hundred construction factories and that's where we will stay for now, senator", Hanson explained to his phone. "We're facing a Duranium crunch and our current capabilities are more than sufficient for now", he continued. "I can appreciate how many jobs could be created in your constituency but it's not going to happen and don't even think of going public with this - we outproduce both the Chinese and the Russians! Good day!" The red-faced administrator slammed the phone down, cracking its surface. "frakking leeches", he grumbled out loud and pulled out the whisky bottle he kept for such occasions on his desk. For comfort, he pulled up the mineral numbers. Earth produced 6,509 tons of Duranium annually. Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries sold another 1,729 tons to PATO. The Earth production was going down as the Duranium veins became more scarce. The PR and DSI amounts would grow, if those companies continued to invest but the total amount gathered each year was going down, not growing. In three or four years, Earth would run out of Duranium completely. If, at that point, there wasn't sufficient amounts of Duranium coming from elsewhere in the system, Hanson had failed and the worst recession in human history would hit them. Joe was determined to prevent that. He didn't mind taking advantage of his position and getting filthy rich but the end game was clear. He was truly a noble man, a saviour of mankind even. A modern Jesus, you could say. His chair felt strangely woozy. Determined to figure it out, he took one last chug of the bottle, only to realise it was already empty. Angrily he hurled the bottle away, fell over from his chair and promptly passed out.


The Alberta summer day was gorgeous and the testing ground of CFB Suffield was packed with spectators. Dynetics has promised a good show, trying to outperform Patria's Gauss cannon with their improved Rail gun. They had two weapons to show off, both smaller than the Patria one. The 100mm one shot every 10 seconds, while the 120mm one fired once every 15 seconds. Their accurate ranges were quite impressive as well: 15 kkm and 30 kkm, respectively and a clear improved over the 10 kkm of the Gauss cannon. The test went off without a hitch. As the test winded down and the guests were guided to the catering tables, admirals Richardson and Takei snuck to the side.

"Sheppard tells me that Patria is working on an improved version of the Gauss cannon", Takei started as soon as they were out of earshot. Richardson nodded. "And if there is any risk of budget cuts, then I must insist we wait until that demonstration before finalising the next generation main weapon", Takei continued, clearly worried. Richardson shook his head: "Hanson hasn't even hinted at budget cuts. Don't worry, you'll get your improved cannons but it's clear now that the guns are the perfect choice for our ships. Which reminds me, you should swing by the art house, the boys are drawing all sorts of interesting designs in there". Relaxed once more, the diminutive Japanese officer made a slight bow: "I will indeed".


"So you are seriously saying that, because of a software error in the communications between your office and the Leonard Container Group, the latter dumped over half a million colonists on Mars when there was only sufficient living space for sixty thousand?" The journalist looked incredulous and Hanson couldn't blame her. It was a gigantic frakkup, that was already ruining LCG's stock value. After all the trouble of convincing Richardson that there was no danger and they could start the Mars colonization process early. And then some jackass placed a dot in the wrong place and nobody bothered to double check.

"Yes Margaret, I am seriously saying exactly that. Relief efforts are already underway and we'll of course do the best we can. Our developers are hard at working tracking down the error and will make sure that nothing like this ever happens again", Hanson smoothly explained. He knew he wasn't convincing the journalist but that wasn't necessary as long as he could calm down the public outrage. At least the communications were handled by the military side and were censored for now. Nobody needed to see suffocating colonists in full HD.

Hanson sacked few mid level managers and a couple of technicians and LCG did a similar purging. This seemed to mollify the public, understandably angry as they were over the deaths of nearly thirty thousand colonists. Needless to say, the Chinese and Russian state media were having a field day.

Yes, I forgot to check if the civilian shipping line had its colony ships full of people when I hauled few dozen infra on Mars. The shipping lines do not overload a colony on purpose but when a dozen colony ships already had a load and were looking for a place to unload, they don't talk to each other. So yay for me.


"All passengers are reminded that bringing alcohol from Luna City back onboard is strictly prohibited. All purchases must be stored in the cargo hold by our crew. You will be able to pick them up when departing the vessel back on Earth"

Hitomi and Anri ignored the message that was repeated through the space liners intercom. They were busy looking innocent as they entered the customs check. Aboard LCG Nordic, the crew didn't care what you drank, smoked or snorted. Luna City laws were different and neither woman wanted to spend ten years licking carpet in a micro-G prison. Outrageously dressed, they certainly caught the eyes of the customs agents but passed without incident. The ladies hailed one of the automated drone cabs. Despite its massive population, traffic was light thanks to the multilayered transport system which had maglev trains, electric busses, automated walkways and more operating in harmony. Surprisingly quickly, the drone taxi dropped them off in front of a dormitory that looked like a beehive.

"Please sign my petition ladies!" A gangly young man shouted at them as they approached the dormitory. The Japanese women looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders and walked up to him.
"What's this then?" Hitomi asked.
"It's the Independence Petition, to ask PATO to grant Luna City full national rights", the man explain, trying desperately to not oggle the acres of flesh that the women had on display.
"We're just visiting here", Anri explained. "We're Japanese", she continued as the man lost the struggle and just stared at her bust.
"Wha- oh, that doesn't matter, we're all technically citizens of one Earth nation or another", he answered.
"In that case, it'd be our pleasure", Hitomi said and flashed him the brilliant smile that had for years ensured her being the top JAV queen.
Both women pressed their thumbs against the datapad to sign the petition.

Few minutes later, they had made their way into the dormitory and found the apartment rented for them, as well as the nervous attendant who greeted the women.
"Hey! Welcome to Luna City!" the bubbly blonde shouted the moment Hitomi and Anri stepped inside the apartment. She handed them over a laminated ID cards. "Here are your passes. Please don't lose them! Your first appearance isn't until noon tomorrow, so feel free to play tourist until then or rest or whatever you want to do", she spat out in a rapid-fire manner.
"There is no official opening ceremony?" Hitomi asked to which the greeter just shook her head.
"While AVN is now a global expo and awards show and some said that the first time it's held on Luna should be marked by some festivities, the police denied our appeal for holo fireworks as well as for the parade", the woman explained.
"If there is nothing else, I'll leave you in peace now", she said and left.

"Well I'm too tired to go out", Anri announced as she flopped down on the bed. Hitomi merely giggled, lifted her gargantuan breasts up and pulled the tiny vials out that she had smuggled to Luna City. "After we drop these babies, you'll be ready to party all night long girlfriend", she said, smirking at her friend.

A week later, wearing large sunglasses, both women nursed the worst hangovers of their life as they waited boarding the Leonard L1 space liner back to Earth, when Hitomi's communicator beeped. It was a priority call from her lawyer. Resigned she answered it:
"HITOMI! What the hell! Your contract specifically stops you from freelance work!" The gray haired man on the other end of the line shouted, face red.
"Hold on, what are you talking about", Hitomi asked, her brain still fuzzy from days of partying with the other adult film stars.
"Some sleazy fly-by-night setup is selling a movie called Bukkake Queen of Luna, starring you and a bunch of others porn stars! The president of Hokuto is furious and threatens to sue you for contract violation. And I don't need to remind you that your finances would not survive it!" Her lawyer sounded truly desperate.
Hitomi pinched the bridge of her nose. She could hardly remember half of the things that happened to them in that last week, so she guessed it was entirely possible that someone had filmed one of the impromptu gangbangs she had participated in.
"I didn't sign any papers, so can't we sue whoever is selling that crap? Pretty sure I didn't sign anything", she told her lawyer, who just shook his head.
"Different jurisdictions. By the time we got any money from them, Hokuto would have ruined you already", he explained.
"Oh well. Don't worry, I'll go meet him straight from the spaceport and sort this out", Hitomi responded and killed the connection. She nudged Anri awake.
"Hey girlfriend, is your schoolgirl outfit clean? I need to go plead forgiveness from Hiroyuki again", she announced. Anri wordlessly handed over her carryon bag.
"There's some mints and baby wipes there too, which you should probably use before meeting him", the slightly less busty porn starlet sighed.

Off-Topic: show


The staff of PATO Fleet Command were all present in the command room. The launch of the first Russian survey ship was a sufficiently important moment that nobody wanted to miss it.

"Do we know the name", asked Vice-Admiral Hood.
"I believe Intelligence said it was Frunze, after their military academy", Admiral Richardson answered.
"And look, they have already started construction another one", said Vice-Admiral Woodcock as he pointed to a second screen, showing a closeup of the Russian shipyard.
"What I'm worried about is whether they are armed", put in Rear-Admiral Takei. Everyone nodded. Lieutenant-Commander Joyce, running the Intelligence Office, had said that the ship was unarmed but their lack of human intelligence from inside Russia was a source of constant concern to the admirals.
"Okay look, it's doing the usual survey flight path to Luna, just like the Chinese did", Hood said, completely unnecessary as the computer had already put up this information.
"Yeah and the new course looks set towards Mars. I think we can all breathe easily and the Russians have built an unarmed survey ship. Back to your usual work people", Richardson announced. The spectators quickly filed out.
"I'd still feel better if we had the ability to catch their ships elsewhere in the system if necessary", Takei said quietly to Richardson, who acknowledged him. "I agree but it's difficult to justify creation of combat vessels in face of negligible threats and the risk of budget cuts", the man explained.


"2003 UZ413? What the hell is that", Hanson asked perplexed. One his aides was quick to explain:
"It's a trans-Neptonian plutino-type asteroid, or a dwarf planet".
Hanson shot him a glare that made the poor man shake.
"Uh, I mean, sir, it's a big asteroid, smaller than Pluto though, sharing roughly the same orbit as Pluto, with decent amounts of Neutronium and Sorium", he tried again.
"Okay, that I understand. Fine, grant the application and might as well buy the minerals for our use", Hanson declared.
"And, I think Gemma Mitchell is a good candidate to oversee it", he continued.
"But sir, Ms Mitchell has no mining experience, her background is in heavy industry and the financial sector", the aide protested.
"So it's about time she learns about mining in outer space", Hanson decided, shooting the aide another withering glare. Finished, he rose up, wished Merry Christmas to his staff and left the PATO Civil Administration building, local police keeping the protestors demanding independence for Luna City away from his limousine.