Guys, guys, GUYS…
What if, instead of annihilating each other with alchemical weapons of mass mayhem–I know, I know, bear with me…
What if, we sent representatives into SPACE?
And THEN use alchemical weapons of mass mayhem to continue trying to annihilate each other, yes.
A Bit of History
Alright, so the Great War is in full-swing with no signs of slowing as each participant continues to develop newer and better ways to use alchemical powers, machinery, and empowered-soldiers to wipe their enemies out. Then, the advent of the first, successful ACS systems pushed any chances of ceasing hostilities right over the edge of the Seine. Once you add additional extraterrestrial interference into the mix, and you get a global war over interplanetary resources like no other.
Of course, the actual scale of combat lessened, in terms of numbers; but, the ACS-equipped soldiers proved to bring the strength of many to the fight, irrevocably scarring the European countryside all the same. Once the Qhurothi Hegemony was able to capture an N.E.E. Explorer unit to dissect and reverse engineer, their own soldiers entered the fray with brand new retrofits–soon to be followed by Aidlean mercenaries working for North America, bounty hunters from all over the sector seeking the head of Remulanus, and a legion commanded by Admiral Pictus who all disappeared after a failed attempt to destroy the planetary cannons along the Iron Wall. With the Eastern front bolstered by the Hegemony, the Western slowly falling to the N.A.A. and their Aidlean allies, and the Southern front mired in unusual weather, the Father-Knight grew a bit desperate…
Alchemical Combat Suits
So, what made the ACS systems so special? Why did they impact the battlefield more than any other weapon or alchemical breakthrough?
Prior to the ACS and other accompanying alchemical technologies, Terran alchemy ‘happened,’ so to speak, in a simple, predictable interaction between two base elements with azothite used as a catalyst. The limits of alchemy were defined by how best one could use the known-result to accomplish something purely physical in nature, though still certainly fantastical.
There were rumors, of course, of experiments regarding a base, pre-catalyzed mixture being ingested by living beings–hypothetically granting magical powers and the like all controlled by the mind, to be clear–but, while certainly not outside the realm of possibility, it was considered obviously foolish to drink a bowl of liquid jade mixed with stardust just to see what would happen (answer: you die, but dang, does your corpse looks drop-dead-gorgeous).
Replace a bone with alchemically-strengthened iron? Check.
Charge a rifle’s barrel with copper/zinc oils to create an induction effect upon firing? Also check.
Purifying water by dipping silver-alloy covered amulets? Apparently so!
Wearing gold-infused jewelry to impart feelings of trust and positivity? Eww; but, yes.
Imbibing a gold-azothite potion to make yourself magically charming?
Nope. Nadda. Nothing doing. At least, nothing worth dying for.
At least one report was made of someone temporarily breathing fire at a circus for a full five minutes straight before succumbing to dehydration, magnesium poisoning, and falling debris. And sure, the Qhurothi had long been adapted to trace amounts of alchemical compounds existing in their systems for minor-to-major temporary benefits; but, even they marveled at the human ingenuity giving birth to the first truly ‘powered’ being–followed by a collective gasp of fear as it walked through enemy encampments like a sword through water.
Armistice and the Treaty of Carthage
Skipping ahead a bit, once the Otakke delegation arrived in Northern Africa, the sheer mass of alien powers in the Sol system made continuing the war efforts pointless for the Father-Knight–there was also the sudden appearance of the Australian navy engaging his forces (in orbit, somehow) that finally forced him to silence the Iron Wall for the first time in a half a decade. The leaders of each of the Terran world-powers, as well as representatives of three extraterrestrial powers, negotiated for three weeks in the ruins of ancient Carthage to formally declare an armistice.
It was the Otakke who suggested the Initiative.
Disregarding their primary use up till now as weapons of war, the ACS systems were the most advanced alchemical technology in the sector, and everyone wanted a piece of them. With Terra rising as the center of azothite trade due to the destroyed asteroid and firmly on track to become its own interstellar power–split between the N.E.E. and the Australian Navy–would it not make sense for the Terrans to begin relations with other cultures, species, planets?
ACS-equipped delegates could survive harsh and varied climates, provide aid, power, tools where ever it was needed–even fight, if it proved necessary–argued the little green men from wherever “Home” was. This way, the Terran powers would remain in control of their major advantage, but could integrate themselves into sector politics from a friendlier position.
Of course, once the topic of non-human delegates arose, some cups and chairs were smashed.
Like I said, they argued about it for three weeks. We’ll get into the specifics of the agreement next week!
The Brokerage Board
The Brokerage Board, based out of a new space station orbiting the moon, organizes the missions and goals of each Mercenary Company. Requests for a delegation, contract negotiations, first drafts of trade or aid agreements, and all major contact from outside the Sol system with the Terran people filters through the 201 representatives living on the station–each democratically elected to the role from their respective regions, and not all of whom are human. The Board has no authority to dictate Terran law, except where the Mercenary Companies and the azothite mining operations are involved. The N.E.E. maintains a large claim to the asteroid chunks now orbiting the sun, and the Board regulates the remainder.
Each Company has a handful of PROMOTERS that receive missions and instructions from the Board. These Promoters handle the fine-details of contracts, mission planning, and resource management for their Company’s squads.
Groups of SQUADS are organized under a single CHIEF for a given region of space. The Chiefs are responsible, ostensibly, for directing requests to the appropriate Promoter, as well as keeping tabs on Company activity to ensure no foul play. Most of the time, the Chiefs are entirely superfluous to the day-to-day actions of the Board and the Companies. In reality, the Chiefs each control a special Squad–nicknamed “Angels”–that they can deploy in secret to either clean up after a particularly messy mission, or to eliminate a squad that has proven to be too wild.
Not that it ever happens, of course.
The ANGELs are a bit of a problematic entity within the structure of the Board. Their existence was agreed-upon by all members, but some of the early representatives don’t seem to recall ever considering the motion on the floor. In either case, they are feared and loathed by the Company’s Squads for good reason–the fact that they could be anyone doesn’t help.
A Squad can vary in membership, with one exception: the Captain. Each of the Mercenary Company’s dropships has an assigned Captain that also functions as the ‘Leader’ on missions. A Specialist and a Second/Lieutenant are assigned based on the mission parameters–sometimes on a semi-permanent basis. Additional Squaddies may be requested by the mission Captain; however, they are pulled from the local Chief’s barracks, and not the Company’s. “Unranked” Squaddies belong to the Board, and not a specific company. A Company may decide to hire them permanently, however.
A SPECIALIST acts as a Squads techie and/or alchemy expert. The given mission will usually require something specific from them in particular.
The Second, or LIEUTENANT, is a bit of a misnomer. As all interplanetary functions necessitate threat assessment, the Lieutenant’s job is simultaneously cultural/diplomatic, while also being the one to determine hostility. A good Lieutenant can be entertaining local children and still identify the hostile intent of their parents/local problem factors.
The CAPTAIN, of course, leads the Squad, making all necessary command-level decisions and negotiations. They are objectively speaking, in the most danger from piracy, attempted kidnappings for parts, and general backstabbery. As they represent both the Terran peoples and their individual Company, Captains are continuously asked to further the ends of both–and they rarely mesh.
A new story next week!
As always, hit us up with questions, comments, thoughts, and memes on our facebook page.
Until then, don’t anger the Angels.