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An excerpt from the journal of Addax Dawn, former Candidate of Peace and current agent of the Rapid Evening:
Sometime, deep in the future, after all of this is over, far away from the here and now, whoever's left will look back and write about this month we've had.
They'll tell stories about how thousands gathered in the overgrown statuaries of an abandoned world and waited to be judged by a once absent god. They'll write about the day a little fleet of mischief and wrath became a state onto itself, unanchored and hungry. They'll sing about the moment that the freelancer became a fisher of planets.
But I wonder if anyone will be left who remembers, or if anyone outside even noticed that day, when halfway across the sector, flakes of snow drifted down into the massive crater bored into the side of the planet Ionias, as something very old and very cruel felt the light of the stars for the first time in ages.
Throughout the Golden Branch sector, a dozen little pieces begin to move all at once, each one causing two dozen to move, and each of those, four, and suddenly the whole sector is... What will happen to those loyal souls on the abandoned world of Sage? What tricks does the manipulative headmaster of the September Institute have up his sleeves? What do the disenfranchised do when they find themselves in power? And what force sleeps, buried in the ice of Ionias? All of that and more...
This time on the Friends at the Table MechNoir Faction Turn: "This Month of Ours"
There's no turning back, you know.
Previous Faction Turn
(This was done by Austin beforehand, to complete the faction turn from Episode 05.)
The Hands of Grace wants to expand their influence by setting up a base of operations in a place they previously have not occupied. They unsuccessfully use their Industry to establish a covert transit network and end up losing credits instead, though it is a small loss considering the faction's size.
The OriCon Expeditionary Group moves a Scavenger superfleet to Tetrakal to deliver the food that Counterweight needs, using a bribe to bypass the Odamas Fleet.
The Consolidated Counterweight Technocracy bought Surveyors for 4 credits. Their aim is to eventually move them to Weight, to establish their influence there.
The Ethnologistical Committee for a More Prosperous Golden Branch bought Stealth for their Divine, allowing it to move onto a planet without being seen. It moves to Gemm, which already has a base for the Hands of Grace.
The September Institute has infiltrated Vox (in the Diaspora) with their psionics. They buy Smugglers there, which can carry other troops with them.
The Diasporatic Department of Material Resources - Slate Division (DDMR) uses their Venture Capital to try to gain money. Instead they roll a 1, losing money instead.
This also gives the Lux Vox Data Research Centre the opportunity to move their mercenaries to Slate. Lux Vox's goal is to destroy their foes—specifically, the DDMR.
The Liberty and Discovery Automatic Corps bought Smugglers. Their goal is to expand their influence from Glimmer to Coral.
Current Faction Turn
The Hands of Grace
The Hands of Grace first spends 2 faction credits for Grace's upkeep. They decide it's time to reintegrate Sage into the Diaspora; Sage was a former candidate for the Diaspora's capital, but it was too central to the conflict during the Golden War for the Diaspora to hold, leading them to abandon it and their people there.
Grace moves to Sage, allowing them purchase a small base of influence there for 5 credits.
Scene: The Arrival of Grace
Grace arrives at one of the few remaining cities on Sage, at the end of a miles-long military procession. People are interested, if not enthusiastic after such a long abandonment. Chet Wise (Andi), the town's cynical older sheriff, and Rory Kingston (Andrew), an idealistic young adult eager to rebuild Sage to glory, watch and discuss the procession. On a rooftop, Kira Voigt, a council member, watches over the procession with a sniper.
A child runs up to high-five a marine and Chet tenses up, his hand instinctively going to his handgun. Kira's scope follows the kid then snaps to Chet until he lowers his hand again. Chet explains to Rory that he doubts the Diaspora are here to help, and chuckles at Rory's optimism.
A statue of Grace lands, with Vicuna sitting disinterestedly at its feet. Some distance away, an explosion sounds, followed by a shot—Kira trying to assassinate Vicuna. A space marine blocks the shot; Vicuna shoves him aside and runs to Grace.
Touched by Grace's light, the people below begin crying and wailing in a religious experience. Many flee. Kira packs away her sniper rifle and leaves in tears.
No night falls, as Grace stays lit in the sky. The marines don't leave; the next day, they are in the town centre, dressed in armor instead of suits. Grace doesn't reach the town centre, which lies fractured in two, not yet cleaned up.
The OriCon Expeditionary Group
The OriCon Expeditionary Group's goal is to launch no attacks on rival factions for four turns. They peacefully use their Pretech Manufactory to gain 4 faction credits.
The Consolidated Counterweight Technocracy
The CCT move their Surveyors to Weight. The Surveyors are relieved to leave the "boiling mess" of Counterweight behind, and hope that they'll never have to leave "gorgeous and perfect" Weight.
The Ethnologistical Committee for a More Prosperous Golden Branch
As a Preceptor Archive, the Ethnologistical Committee for a More Prosperous Golden Branch wants to spread and indoctrinate others with the knowledge of the Diaspora—to make them "civilized".
They can spend 2 faction credits to teach a planetary population. This requires six Stealthed assets in their chosen target of Gemm, so they buy Stealth again for their Hardened Personnel (militiamen sent to infiltrate Gemm's population).
The September Institute
The September Institute wants to continue buying resources on Vox. Being very poor, they choose to purchase a False Front, which is cheap and can be sacrificed to protect more valuable resources.
Scene: Voice Knows Best
Loyalty (Austin) has been informed of the false front operations (media outlets purchased by the September Institute) by their Candidate Kobus (Andi). They ask Voice (Andrew) if Voice considers them incapable of spreading knowledge amongst their people. Voice responds that it simply wants to provide the people with more venues to receive information.
Loyalty gives this explanation to Kobus, saying "Voice knows best." Kobus remains doubtful, asking why Voice needs to handle it personally instead of letting them continue dealing with it. Voice claims it is taking a load off Loyalty's shoulders and simplifying the people's lives, urging Loyalty to focus on their conflict with Service on Slate.
Kobus asks Voice where it is stationed, but Voice remains evasive.
Trusting Voice, Loyalty asks about Grace's move to Sage, which the September Institute was not previously aware of. Voice gives a generic reassurance, while Twelfth starts making plans to get the Institute's people on Sage.
The Diasporatic Department of Material Resources: Slate Division
The DDMR:SD's goal is to seize Vox. Currently they're in a bad place, poor and having lost their Venture Capital in the previous turn. They spend all their remaining money on Postech Industry, hoping to recuperate credits.
The Lux Vox Data Research Centre
With their mercenaries already on Slate, Lux Vox launches an attack. This is a resounding success, as Lux Vox's mercenaries wipe out the mercenaries defending Slate.
Floating between the two star systems and simultaneously having their conversation with Voice from the previous scene, Loyalty oversees the fight.
The Liberty and Discovery Automatic Corps
Ibex is smuggled into Coral, and starts (very classily) meeting up and acquiring favors from the local people.
The Odamas Fleet
Having completed their objective from the previous turn, the Odamas Fleet has been upgraded from a minor to a major faction, with a new goal of planetary seizure—taking Kalliope back. They also acquire Informers and Pretech Infantry.
The upgraded fleet moves from Tetrakal to Vyshe, advancing towards Kalliope.
Scene: Recruiting Augustus
First mate Diego Rose (Andi) pays a visit to Augustus Foxwell (Andrew), a Horizon Tactical Solutions member they've captured, who currently lies heavily wounded in the medbay. Diego offers him the same deal he was previously offered by Hudson Thorne: join the Odamas Fleet—and don't betray them, or Diego will personally kill him.
Thorne interrupts Diego's threats. Diego reluctantly backs down and introduces Augustus to the captain, while saying that Thorne was similarly menacing to him when he first joined. Thorne says things are different now, and welcomes Augustus aboard.
Augustus agrees, but insists that Horizon Tactical Solutions can't know he's there, or else they'll target his sister. Diego offers to either retrieve Augustus' sister or give Augustus a new identity. As the painkillers kick in, Augustus starts drifting off; Thorne and Diego leave him to rest.
With their Franchise from their previous deal with EarthHome Entertainment, Snowtrak can now steal money from other groups—which they use to take one credit from EarthHome. Executive Orin also persuades Leonard and EarthHome to openly gift them an additional credit during their turn.
Scene: What Snowtrak Found
Deep within the glacier on Ionias, something in the ice lights up and begins to move. Omen Kane, a recent recruit from Joypark, is digging furiously to uncover it.
Natalya (Andi) orders him to back away. Her second-in-command Maddy Graden (Andrew) tries to drag him away, but a pulse of kinetic energy throws her back. As the ground shakes, a humanoid form rises from the hole, with Omen riding on top, and seizes some infrastructure. Natalya recognizes it as an ancient Divine, but it's unlike any other Divine they've seen. It feels manmade, and horrifying.
Omen gets into its cockpit, which emanates energy and heat as the entire place begins to melt, sending people sliding into the ice. As the scene ends, it is revealed as Rigour—the first Divine.