PHASE I : PRELUDE - THE ENSURED PROPHECY ( 14 of 23 )
Transport TS-801A-Starry Memory
Attached to Union Homeguard 6th Squadron, Landreich Sector
En route to Tanfen Sutari Sector Office
The Galaxy itself, sleek and elegant and mounting a significant amount of armament seemed to course through space like a metallic stiletto. Fast and deadly. Along with it were four F-66C Thunderbolts, emblazoned with the tri-color shield of TASC, along with insignia of the Militia. The Thunderbolts were deterrents. The Galaxy even more. The Galaxy itself bore a symbol on its armored hull people came to know in many ways. Some in respect. Some in fear. Most in knowing knowledge that to flirt with it would bring either great power and influence, or great pain and suffering. One of the owners of that symbol will soon come to know the legacy it brings to those who bear the name of Tanfen Corporation.
Milord, the Honour guards are all at their posts but are ready to disembark when we land. ETA to Sutari Branch is three hours, milord, according to that show-off TASC pilot.
I keep telling you to stop calling me milord!
The older man gave a shrug and re-adjusted his epaulets, Old habits die hard. Weve been used to calling the Family milord and milady since Basic. Youre one of the rare exceptions that insist otherwise. He was Lieutenant Richard Kusanagi; Loyalist Marine of the House of Tan and now (to his opinion) the most well armed babysitter this side of the quadrant, gave a grin and continued his leg exercises, tensing and relaxing his legs until they looked like corded steel cables sheathed with flesh.
The young man next to him squirmed uncomfortably in his seat and gave a grin.
Maximilian Gan, Maxim or Max to his friends, was beginning to learn the ropes of the business in the Gan Family. Serving a stint in the Walking Steel regiment as a sergeant for about two years before going on to graduate at the prestigious Cambridge university, he was a rising star. He did not understand why his grandfather sent him out here, in what was obviously a Tan sector of judicature to learn something under the wing of its Sector Manager, Lord John Tan. One of the old school by all concerned. Even Schala, his aunt told him in private that he was a "hard-ass" if there ever was one. He gave a smile. Aunt Schala was weird, but pleasant to be around with. He would see her after his stint here when he returned to New Maynah.
What to learn under John Tan was the question. His dark red locks, the latest rage among the younger Gans seemed to reflect his pensive mood. Tall and wiry, he was of average height. The norm for a Gan. One would consider him unthreatening, until you saw the determination in his eyes. His dark brown eyes gazed out the porthole at the escorting Thunderbolt fighters, their metallic hulls reflecting their crimson engine thrust as they kept a steady pace with the Galaxy as he replied.
Please keep it that way -- I find such a title disconcerting. I havent even earned it yet.
A woman next to him gave a laugh, A Gan with humility! She adjusted her reg blade and gave a casual 360 degree look in the passenger compartment, though there was no one else there. Marle Lhaubringer always was direct and to the point. Tall, heavily muscled, she was the epitome of the perfect soldier in all respects. Except her love for drink. This is a rare one. All the more important to keep safe, eh, Celes?
The only other passenger in the compartment, also dressed like her, except with a corporals epaulets gave no sign of having heard the jibe. Other than a silent whispered, Yes.
Marle gave a sigh and turned around, staring at her. Why so quiet, Celes?
The woman named Celes was pale and looked as if she was crafted by some angels hands to near perfection. Her hair was pale blond, the colour of a sandy grey beach at Dover. Her skin was paler, almost alabaster white. Celes features could only be described as heavenly. Almond red eyes met with a pert nose and pouted lips that could sink ships. Why she never worked in TPRO no one knew. She certainly had the looks for it. Her arms and legs; what could be seen under her light body armour were lean and well muscled. The body of a soldier. Feminine yet still lethal. She seemed to pause as she seemed to consider an answer, I find idle conversation useless.
Marle gave a chuckle, The quiet sort are we. Nothing a drink or two and a hot meal can sort out.
Celes did not even give a single hint of an emotion. Max thought a toaster oven possessed more emotion than her. Who was she anyway? I dont drink.
Marle simply shrugged her shoulders. Suit yourself.
Celes did not even look at her, except to stare out the port window at the glowing afterburn of one of the escorting Thunderbolts.
Max broke the mood. Mr. Richard?
Just Rich, please.
Rich why are you Loyalist Marines assigned to protect me on this ops?
My boy, two reasons. He held a hand out, counting them. Primary reason, your mother asked us, and, as second daughter of the President, she gets what she wants, and that means us baby-sitting you so that any little SOBber that gets near you with hostile intent gets a first class trip to intensive care or a dirt nap. He lowered a finger. Reason two, this is Tan territory, and its courtesy to protect fellow Family with our own resources. He lowered another finger.
Richard seemed to pause and he held his hand to his ear. He leaned forward as he strained to hear the pickup mike he put in his left ear. What? Ill come right up. He looked at Max. Excuse me a minute Max the pilot called. He left up the stairwell to the cockpit.
Minutes later, he came down.
Strange, we cant seem to contact the branch...
Unlikely, this is Union controlled space. Even Porhen wont dare to strike here.
Then what, Mr. Richard?
Well have to get there to find out then, wont we?
Maxim leaned back and shut his eyes. We will, wont we?
The second Corporate homeworld,
The Gan Estates
The woman sat in a darkened room, only the table was dimly illuminated by a pair of candles that were highlighting the cards she was scrutinizing. Laid out before her eyes were a set of Tarot cards, spread out in the Celtic cross pattern. In the auburn light of the room, her eyes seemed to glow orange. Her long locks covered one of her eyes and tumbled down to her shoulders.
With a puff of consternation, she blew her lock of hair out of her eyes to concentrate on her task; only to have it fall back down again. With the force of a bad habit, she paid it no mind. Hesitantly, she drew forth the next card. The final one to complete the cross. "'Perhaps it is not the time. All it takes is but one of the variables to change to ensure the Prophecy does not come to pass.'" She slowly turned it. The sight of it caused her to open her eyes wide.
The card itself depicted a tower made of stone, struck by lightning. In relief, it showed a man falling out of it as the tower crumbled. It was the Tower. The Tower, however was in reverse. That in itself already signaled great calamity and hardship to come. What preceded it; arranged before her spelled something worse. Far worse. There was no doubt. The probability of coming up with such an exacting combination of the Tarot, along with such a correlation of events from at least three major human faiths, along with the Kilrathi prophecies meant something far more than chance. The Bible spoke of it-a time of cleansing fire. The Dead Sea Scrolls spoke of a mortal foe, the "Children of Darkness" that were bane to life itself. The Kilrathi Prophecies foretold of a time of great darkness. Kn'thrak.
She had done everything possible to check and double check the result. The I-Ching. The Nostradamus prophecies. The Kabbalah of Life. The one last intact copy of the Dead Sea Scrolls locked and sealed beneath Fortress Home. All confirmed what she divined. It seemed that an uncharacteristic wind was blowing through her room at that moment. Cold, biting, harsh and sharp. Like the wind blown at the height of winter to flay the soul. She hugged her robes about her to warm herself from the psychically cold wind.
Her sense felt something enter this world, something that was an abomination of nature. A mistake some uncaring, insane God made, now given flesh to haunt and torment the living.
She whispered in her own dialect, They have come. She stood up and waved her hand, extinguishing the candles and walked out of the room, into the hallway of the Gans ancestral home.
Her servant looked at her worriedly, Milady?
Her eyes were uncharacteristically cold and harsh.
Is something wrong, milady?
No, Constance. The full implications of what she knew came roaring into her mind like a tidal wave.
What she saw and knew now would affect Tanfen. Not just the Gans. It would affect everyone. Every man, woman and child from the Homeworlds all the way back to Terra. Though the realms beyond informed her in triplicate, Tanfen would have to be convinced otherwise. Hard evidence was needed to ensure that something was done, and fast. Constance, Inform Division Chief Sue Yen Ng Lai of TISD, Justin Bellamy of TASC, SHoon Hon of TSF and Gendou Tan of TMMN that I would like to meet them personally as soon as possible , also ask that all members of the Board attend personally, not by holo-presence, append it all under my sigil. Hurry, time is short
Milady, the servant curtseyed and left.
Deep in thought, she returned to her office in the large manor the Gans called home. The walls of the manor were made with rare woods imported from the original homeworld of Terra. The effect of it gave the manor a warm feeling in the heart. That pleasant smell and touch only oak and redwood could give.
The manor had that sense of welcome to it. A place to come home to. There was always laughter and happiness here. The log fire in the hall was always burning brightly. Even the old suits of armor that lined the hallway seemed like silent protectors instead of the menacing figures they looked like in her childhood. The pictures of past heroes of the House and ancestors seemed to look down benignly and approvingly. That was one reason she loved staying and working from here, instead of Laifen or the city here on New Maynah. It was home. The place she had the most emotional attachment to.
She could not stand the cold feeling of steel, glass and chrome, that empty Bauhausian beauty the Lais so loved. She passed by several younger cousins nodded pleasantly to them. She knew all of them by name, she loved children, but this night, she had no time. She hurried on. She reached the large double doors that were the entrance to her office, done in hardwood with the symbol of the Gans, a dove holding a spring of olive and a scroll on a shield. Two Walking Steel troopers in embellished ceremonial armor, but with a prudent Archer pistol in a holster at their sides flanked her office door, coming silently to attention when she appeared and saluted her. She nodded with a quick smile.
With a wave of her hand, the automated doors swung wide, only to close at her passing. Her office was simple, but full of the little knick-knacks that defined a person. A library of leatherbound books with unusual writing on their spines covered one wall, a small set of stuffed teddy bears reclining against a table opposite it, the most notable being a large pink one with writing on its belly, "To Schal, from K," and a small oil burner with the pleasant sweet scent of lavender emanating from it were the most noticeable items in the room. Girlish she knew; not the image a Strategic Advisor should give.
As she always said, "Who cares?"
Then again, none would dare to cross or offend her; nice person though she was. One does not fool with one who knew secrets from lips that never spoke. Everyone had their little quirks.
She sat down at her desk, waiting. It did not take long, about half an hour later, her computer terminal beeped a confirmation that several data packets had been sent, along with vid-mail from the division chiefs and a large part of the Board of Directors. They would be here within the hour. Time was short.
Tanfen Communications Intercept Centre
Sue Yen Ng Lai, Division Chief of Tanfens Internal Security Division watched the technicians silently as they went about their tasks. Normally she did not deign to watch the daily intercepts of Confed, Union and Andorran communications traffic. It was a boring but necessary task in itself. The messages ran the gamut from simple messages between simple people to the highest levels of covert mail between the governments. The slightest change in even a minute detail could spell either a threat or an opportunity for the Corp. Even a slight increase in traffic by as little as 3% could mean a preparation for something. Normally, she would assign such a task to her agents; to separate the wheat from the chaff. Data mining was tedious work, and finding a tidbit of information that could be exploited did not occur often enough to ensure her lasting attention. Of course, such nuggets of information were valuable in itself. The powers themselves did not know the extent of how far Tanfens reach extended. So much the better, pride can hide even the greatest flaws, Sue mused.
Though the air conditioning was running at full blast in the large command centre in Fortress Home, she felt her skirt sticking to her thighs. Her jacket, emblazoned with the half tarot symbol of TISD made people give her a wide berth, if not for the fact the people in the room knew who she was. She could feel sweat running down from her neck; it was making her long hair feel sticky. If tension had been butter, it would have been spread in large doses. It was hot. Damned hot. The tension in this room was evident. It definitely was not normal. Traffic between the Terran Confederations Space Navy and other assorted governmental apparatus had increased some 15 percent. The number of coded Alpha priority transmissions in itself increased by 1.25 percent.
Something big was happening. Why it was happening was the object of why she was here.
Tech Meinichi, status of TCN satellite #450?
Transmission has been intercepted, and decoded, milady.
She continued to gaze at the operation, another part of her mind at work. TCN was becoming too presumpteous of its status as the Terran Confederations premier network. They did not realize the importance of hiding such facts from the public, stating freedom of information and the press.
Pathetic excuses. All of them.
They did not see the bigger picture.
The fact that the leak of such news would destabilize entire galactic economies and bring civil unrest would be reason enough for Tanfen to monitor their transmissions. More so this strange one. The fact that Union Internal Security asked them for tacit help in reading it was proof of the danger of it. Though dedicated, UIS lacked the resources and money Tanfen had, but it could reach into places Tanfen could not. Through a mutual arrangement, they watched each others backs. More so now. The recently forged peace treaty between Confed and the Union would shatter like glass if word like this were spread throughout the Terran worlds.
Several minutes ago, satellite #450 received a burst transmission on a supposedly secure hyper-link from a planet in the Dakota system. Routine enough, with news flashes throughout space, except for the priority exclusive tag on it. That brooked attention, the fact that it was sent on one of TCNs high power unjammeable hyper-links simply screamed IMPORTANT!. When she saw the video, she herself couldnt believe her eyes. White hot streaks of annihilation streaked down from the heavens to strike down the small settlement. It was so hot that heat eddies and ionization effects were causing the camera to fuzz up. The cameraman obviously died in the ensuing holocaust. She had seen such devastation before, more so when back then Confed attempted to take over Andorra by force with a taskforce during the Secession wars. Orbital bombardment wasnt an everyday occurrence. Second by second analysis by EVE and her own forensic analysts confirmed the authenticity of the film clip.
They also confirmed something else strange. The weapons used in the clip were not made by ANY known faction. It had far too much power, strength and velocity for that. Not even the ROA had something of that caliber in its technologically advanced naval fleet. The largest orbital bombardment weapon Andorra owned had not even passed the prototype stage; it was not capable of such wholesale devastation. The clip itself did not show any of the assailants, nor any other clues to their identity.
In a few minutes, she would receive visual confirmation from a recon Intruder she had asked TASC to send from a nearby Homeguard airbase.
A tech called out, Milady! Weve managed to decode the 601!
Put it on screen. The tech did so.
Mary Mother of God!
The film itself was shocking. The data packet along with it only increased her worry.
The clip showed a a small fleet of Confed destroyers that were being overwhelmed, and had manage to send a burst transmission to ConFleet HQ before succumbing. What destroyed them she did not know. The assailants seemed vaguely organic. Her senses told her something was wrong. Dead wrong. Chances were good that the orbital bombardment shown from the intercepted TCN clip and the assailants shown in the 601 that took out that Confed taskforce had some form of connection. She called out to the air around her. Eve!
EVE popped up on a holo-screen next to her, her platinum hair seeming to glint in the 3-D confines of the screen. EVE gave an enigmatic smile, Sue, those ships do not match anything made by any race in my database. And no, theyre not prototypes of any faction. The technology shown is far too advanced for anyone I know to make. She waited as Sue thought of her response, tracing a line on the floor with her holographic feet. Her simple white dress flowed in a wind only she could feel.
Could this be a black ops by one of the governments, or one of the other megacorps?
I had a peek at currently public and semi-restricted research
of all factions except the Kilrathi Assembly. The only places
I couldnt reach were those isolated from the Matrix. I dont
think its done by any faction I know of. Conjecture and experience
indicates that the other factions wouldnt want instigate
another Telamon massacre. The style of it doesnt fit either.
It was a simple act of wanton destruction. EVE seemed to
lean back on a console, though she could not affect her physical
surroundings. Sophisticated holo-cams gave her the image and depth
of perception. But, ultimately, she was not real, at least in
a physical sense. It doesnt fit any mission profile
Sue. Even the Black Lance wont
repeat that fiasco.
A new neighbor?
So I presume, Sue. Those things mean trouble. I can feel it.
What of this data packet that was sent along with the transmission?
It had a Lucifer protection seal on it. Took a while to crack, EVE seemed to pause as she closed her eyes to concentrate elsewhere. She opened her eyes as she took in the facts. Sue, the Terran Confederation is issuing a buildup of reinforcements to contain the threat. It seems the Confed Third Fleet and the Union Navy First Fleet are being sent to deal with the problem.
And the overall CIC of the operation?
EVE gave a smirk, Someone you are familiar with Sue. Does Admiral Erin Hanton ring a bell?
Hmm, she paused as she added the equation to her mental calculations. She pursued another tangent of thought. Your opinion of the 601?
Sue, this isnt good. Whatever it is, it annihilated an entire Confed taskforce. A Confed destroyer squadron isnt easy prey, neither are two squadrons of Tigershark Medium Fighters. There was a moment of silence. The message is authentic - no doubt about it, EVE added.
Sue paused. Whatever this new player was, it managed to take out a Confed task force. Impressive. And dangerous knowledge, whatever this new player in the scheme of things was.
Your initial analysis of those ships?
They are not made with any known material in our explored galaxy, Sue. The closest match based on visual comparison is that those ships are organically derived engineered entities.
Those things are... alive?
Thats right, Sue.
What can survive in vacuum like that? And maneuver like that? she thought to herself. Sue looked up to gaze at EVE. What of the increased fleet movements in Nephele, Tartarus, and Dakota?
I cannot extrapolate at this time, though it would be logical to assume that the Confederation has knowledge of this threat, and is seeking to contain it, both physically, and through a media blackout; hence UIS arbitration through us. They know Tanfen wouldnt work with their Internal Security agency.
Hmm, Sue mused. She turned to a technician. Status of the other 601 intercepted this afternoon from Hhrass...?
Being decoded as we speak, milady.
Keep working on it, she uttered before turning towards EVE. She waited expectantly while her holographic image was sitting on the console, waving her legs idly like a child.
EVE, I want a full analysis of all alien ships in the clip. I want performance ratings, type, class and tactical predictions. Everything. Utilize as much of TanfenNet as you need EVE. Coordinate with TASC, see what they know of the ships seen. I need such information ASAP. When you are done, append an intelligence briefing to Justin Bellamy and SHoon Hon as well as Gendou Tan.
EVE gave a thumbs up and seemed to walk into the screen, fading and disappearing with a faint, Not a problem, Sue, hanging in the air.
Sue turned to another aide, Keep me informed on Confed fleet movements. Anything larger than a corvette is to be tracked. Understood?
Another tech called out. Milady! Live feed coming from Recon Six!
It was dead. Bare. Nothing was left. The Dakota System was a charred cinder. The Intruder made a long range flyby of the Dakota colony. All it was was a charred crater of dust and memories. The ionization of the weapons used turned the atmosphere of the once thriving colony world an angry red. Hot spots smoldered in the IR spectrum on the fighters gun camera. This was not some terrorist act. Not some terror mission. Even Telamon paled before this atrocity. The entire colony was gone.
Order Recon Six to fall back... Ive seen enough.
Milady! Recon Six is being intercepted by an unknown enemy...
She kept silent. There was nothing she could do. The TASC pilot would have to fend for herself.
She saw and heard sounds of battle. The release of decoys, the blazing of guns. Then a long scream and silence.
The feed went dead, static screaming a loud chorus in the room along with everyone else's voices. Sue did not feel the loss of the pilot. That was Bellamys problem. Hers was to know more of this threat; whether it was to the Corps benefit or disadvantage and to act accordingly. Questions ran through her head, as well as everyone else in the room.
Who was this enemy? What was this enemy? What was powerful enough to defeat an entire Task Force?
Sue then turned to the gathered throng in the command centre. They now knew too much.
This area is now under the jurisdiction of TISD. There is to be no unauthorized communication to the outside world. All information here is to be deemed classified under the Corporate Code and the Union of Border Worlds State Secrets Act. I am now invoking order A-256! An aide rushed in through the door, sweating profusely.
Pardon me, milady, the Strategic Advisor asks for your presence, immediately. At that, he bowed and left for somewhere, anywhere else in the Fortress. Sue's gaze could have melted platolum armor.
Schala was not one to waste time in chit-chat. It was obviously important, though she placed more stock in an intelligence rumor than a voice from beyond, she found it disconcerting that more often than not, events of significance were known a lot earlier by the other world. Ill be there. Handle things here, Houzou, she called to her silent aide, waiting behind her, to her right. He was silent all this while.
She would have to report to the Board about this new entity. She could probably do it on the way to the Gan Estates.
That matched with what she had already garnered earlier from Confed fleet movements in Tartarus and Dakota. The gist of it, something new, a new race of some sort had decided to join the party and kicked the local residents teeth in to say hello. The fact it was done so easily did not bode well for anyone. Parley or mediation would most probably be out of the question. One does not negotiate with someone who has made an obvious hostile first move. And it was deliberate, not a defense of territory or some such primordial instinct. It was the act of a hostile force. Hostile forces that shot first and asked questions later normally did not have a good track record for diplomacy or arbitration. Not good.
She took a look behind her as her agents sealed off the command center. The cipher lock on the blast door flashed the Chinese script - "Top Secret" as an agent flashed his ID card to seal off the room. If there were any protests from the techs in the Command Center, they werent vocalized in her presence. She wasnt known as the Ice Queen for nothing. Rumor had it she drank anti-freeze for starters and went up to liquid nitrogen for cocktails. Not that shed do much to discourage it. A healthy dose of fear always expedited things.
Houzou, get something to eat for the techs, and set up basic necessities inside the center. They wont be leaving for a while. Her second nodded, his steel gray hair slicked back to a seeming shine in the lights of the subterranean corridors beneath the fortress. His wrinkles and steely eyes seemed to grow darker in the shadows.
A veteran of the Shadow wars during the Secession, he was a man who had survived innumerable black operations. Both as assailant and as an objective. The lights only made him seem older. Like a looming thin monolith carved of flesh. The Jews had a name for such a thing. A golem. A dangerous automaton made of flesh. Except this one was intelligent, motivated and loyal. Not to mention knowing just under a hundred ways of eliminating problems in any manner ranging from accidental to deliberate.
Understood, milady - do I mention that you are the benefactor of that order?
She gave a smirk. No - put that as your own initiative, it will look good on your report. Houzou Fuyutsuki gave a smile and turned around to carry out her order. Seeing nothing amiss, she left.
Her footfalls echoed through the Fortress as she hurried to one of the top level landing pads. Behind her, she could catch a glimpse of two of her agents proceeding to flank the door, trying to look as innocuous as possible, with a hand each in their coats. Word had it that Tanfen ISD agents had more doodads than the average Coles-Meyers-Radio Shack store each and enough ordnance to function continuously for a year. Another rumor that was healthy to encourage.
Milady? Fuyutsuki called out.
What of the fate of Recon Six, what would you wish to inform Commander Bellamy?
She gave the emotion one would when reading the daily stock report. He would not be pleased I sent one of his people to her death. Think of something suitably creative, an accident is just fine. Ensure full corporate benefits go to her widower.
She continued on her way.
Her thoughts rolled through her head on the way up through an express elevator to the highest levels of the fortress. Plans and counterplans. Schemes and plots that were already in motion that had to be juggled. Many things. She did not even realize she reached the landing bays until the elevator dinged and uttered in that supposedly soothing female voice, Landing Bay A-54. Have a nice day.
Sue would have to personally find the imbecile who thought female voices were pleasant and wring his neck. It was probable the fool was a nymphomaniac to find such a voice pleasant.
The door opened and she was instantly buffeted by the wind. Laifen itself was cold and windy; constantly covered in mist. Coils of it seemed to waft in the afternoon air. The sun was not in sight. The horizon was a murky grey, with the black hints of stormclouds roiling in the distance. From her position, she could see part of the wide moors, their undulating dull gren stretching off to form a part of the horizon. A Homeguard trooper guarding the door saluted her as she passed by. With one hand holding her notepad; the other holding her skirt down, she attempted to storm the shuttle. Her long locks flew about like a flag, ruining any chance for a dignified approach. Sometimes she wondered why the Lais ever decided to select this annoying place for a homeworld. It was misting all the time, the wind blew so hard that anything resembling a skirt was an indefinite source of amusement for voyeurs and the most carefully coiffured hairstyle was so much dust in the face of just one Laifen gale. She kept all her thoughts to herself however, showing only her pleasant smile.
It didnt do any good to complain. Not in the Tanfen hierarchy. She boarded the shuttle to New Maynah and sat in the seat impatiently.
Pilot, take me to the Gan Estates, please.
With a flick, she started up her laptop. She begun her report. This is Division Chief Sue Yen Ng Lai. At 1340 hours, we intercepted She did not notice the shuttle lift off and speed for New Maynah.
A Tanfen ISD code for a highest priority transmission or data packet for decoding and decryption.
One of Tanfens three founding Families.
One of Tanfens three founding Families.
One of Tanfens three founding Families
Tanfens Internal Security Division. The corporations intelligence arm, they have a silent presence in all of Terran space. Their symbol is a tarot card, cut at an angle from the upper left to the lower right with the lower remainder showing the writing TISD.
Homeguard Militia. The designation given to reservists and planetary defense units of the Border Worlds Space Navy. Units that are financed by Tanfen (to defend their homeworlds and facilities) are answerable to the Union first, and only then to Tanfen. They are not *cough* a private army.
Each of the three founding Families of Tanfen have a cadre of personal Honour Guards loyal to themselves, not to the Corporation. There are three such units in the Corp-the Loyalist Marines, the Laifen Highlanders and the Walking Steel Regiment. Each are fanatically loyal to their patron Family.
The Tan Familys personal guards, Loyalist Marines are close combat specialists and assault troops, trained in the use of powered armour. Their favoured weapons are the regressive blade and Archer pistol.
The Lais personal Honour Guard, the Highlanders are trained as mechanized armour troops. They specialise in long ranged combat, and preferably large scale armor battles. Their personal weapon of choice is a vibro-pike.
The Gans own personal bodyguards. Trained as combat engineers as well as extensive schooling in defensive tactics. Never used offensively in line with the principles of the Gans.
The latest Tanfen innovation in melee weaponry. The blade is made of an alloy that does not naturally exist and responds to the presence of hydrogen by vibrating rapidly and giving off heat (hyper-exciting itself). It can defeat most conventional forms of armour and emits a high pitched keening noise when deployed. Also known as Reg (rh-eg) Blades.
The favoured automatic hand pistol of Tanfens troops and especially the Loyalist Marines, Archer pistols use conventional chemical propellant based ammunition in 6.55mm caliber. There are versions of it that use Gauss technology to propel metal flechettes at hyper-velocity speeds. The Archer uses a special gas-venting system to defeat recoil and barrel climb, especially when using burst and full automatic mode.
An ancient means of divination that draws from Jewish Mysticism. The diagram of the Kabbalah itself resembles a tree, with the highest apex showing God, and the various branches showing the paths to divinity or god-hood from mortality and vice versa.
An Eastern form of divination that involves the casting of trigrams, obscure symbols with specific meanings if they appear in a certain order and in a certain sequence.
The Dead Sea Scrolls
Found in 1947 in a cave in Israel, they were written between the 1st and 3rd century and contain writings, exhortations and excerpts from the Old and New Testament, as well as prophecies of the future. It is believed that the Dead Sea Scrolls tell of the future of mankind. The original scrolls have been lost during the battle for Earth. The one last intact remaining copys whereabouts is unknown.
A form of divination involving the use of special sets of cards with specific symbology attached to each. It was believed to have begun sometime in the early middle ages. TISD takes its symbolism of its knowledge of events by showing a half tarot card in its emblem.
The Nostradamus Prophecies
One of Terras greatest prophets and persecuted during the Inquisition, Nostradamus wrote his prophecies in obscure verse, leading to many interpretations, oftimes far too late to be of use. Study of it can predict the future.
Tanfen Merchant Marine Navy. The transport arm of the corporation, it has control over its massive fleet of transports.
Executive Order A-256
An exclusive order that can be only given by Division Chief of TISD. This order suspends all civilian privileges wherever the Chief deems fit and after receipt of the order, all affected answer to her personally, and to no one else until the Chief deems the emergency to have passed. This order is used to temporarily control parts of the Corporation that may affect security.
Executive Order D-108
An order that can only be issued by the Board and the Division Chiefs. This means that all Tanfen personnel offworld and on the Homeworlds themselves are to upgrade their security status to Condition Three, meaning a doubling of the guard as well as the increase in the level of preparedness of all Tanfen strategic assets. All Tanfen strategic assets are to hold their positions and to initiate self defensive maneuvers only and to defend themselves only if attacked.
Executive Order G-808
An order that can only be issued by the President of Tanfen, the leaders of the Families together or the Strategic Advisor. Receipt of this executive order means that all Family members are to attend a Grand Convocation, regardless of circumstances.
Republic of Andorra. One of the factions that split off from the Terran Confederation during the Secession War. Incredibly technologically advanced, they have been seen fielding weapons and ships far ahead of other factions.
Terran Confederation Network; the media arm of the Terran Confederation that is privately owned. They control a large part of the Confederations mass media network. Alternatively, TNC is the Terran News Channel.
Lucifer Protection Seal
The latest in a long line of encryption techniques, the Lucifer seal is a time, date and context sensitive encryption protocol that uses 6,666,666,666 encryption bytes; hence the term Lucifer. It is not pattern sensitive (thus defeating most context and pattern decryption techniques) and also relies on specific knowledge of the encryption key. Normally appended with a self destruct virus, the Lucifer seal only gives three chances to decrypt it. The technology to crack it with brute force requires massive computing power, far out of the reach of most people. Used only by the governments, and by some mega-corporations for only the most sensitive data.
Union Internal Security. The intelligence arm of the Union of Border Worlds. Though relatively poor compared to its other cousins in the field, its agents have been seen fielding advanced gear and weaponry from unknown sources. Their agents are loyal and dedicated, though the rebellious Union streak in them makes them better field agents than dedicated intelligence operatives.
The covert battle between the intelligence agencies and the mega-corporations during the Secession war as each tried to retain what they held and attempted to take more of. Statistics do indicate that the amount of civil unrest, arson, suicides and murders, as well as accidents and financial transfers peaked during this period. Along with massive changes in ownership in some corporations and planets. Officially never happened.