The Story

In The Beginning

In a galaxy called The Milky Way, in a universe that shares many of the same laws, there was a cozy little planet not too much unlike ours called Earth. There was a man that lived there called Augustus Caesar - there was a man that lived there called Ghandi - there was another man that lived there called Einstein. They were all very important, influential men - the trouble was, while their Ghandi and Caesar were much the same as ours, their Einstein was wrong. In this universe, teleports work. Gravity can be controlled. Aliens exist and every human everywhere knows about them.

There aren't many of these aliens, though - only a mere handful by comparison. After galactic conquest, humans are by far the most dominant race in the galaxy, making up over 95% of the Human Federation. The rest make up a tiny, oppressed minority - aliens such as the ^kö and others, considered to be good for little more than jokes. The total population of the galaxy is vast, though, with thousands of colonized stars. The number of criminals is fairly vast as well - and this is the most worrying. With such a large expanse to govern, crime runs rampant on many worlds. Criminals genociding entire planets isn't at all unheard of. Unfortunately, it is considered illegal under galactic law to carry out the death sentence without a permit - and for a lot of these criminals, this is exactly what's needed - but the permit is costly. So costly, in fact, that only a select few are able to afford it.

This is where Tartarus comes in. Tartarus Inc. is based off a giant prison ship of the same name, with a capacity of thirty million. They fly from planet to planet, taking on prisoners in exchange for a small fee - completely worth it to the planets trying to dispose of their garbage. It's an under-the-table sort of thing - a taboo topic that nobody ever talks about - a blemish on the face of humanity. But everyone needs it - and Tartarus needs it too.

Tartarus isn't only a prison ship. While their prisoners normally last a year before either bailed out or killed en masse, there's a smaller contingent of their prisoners that join a program known as REKT. REKT stands for "Requisited Knowledge Troops" - and this is exactly what they do. Prisoners are free to apply, but only those deemed the most useful actually get in - and this is a very small percentage of the whole. Only the best, brightest, and fastest make the cut. After they're in, they get sent out on special missions to retrieve data or artifacts from different worlds - usually the most dangerous, most horrific worlds out there, in search of things humanity has never dared to make an attempt to retrieve. If the prisoners die, no biggie. REKT's CASKETs are cheap and mass-produced anyway. The artifacts the survivors do bring back far outweigh the losses, and allow Tartarus to make a hefty profit.

The Galaxy

The Milky Way galaxy is home to a handful of sentient species, of which humanity is dominant by far. Humanity makes up over 95% of the galactic population, with other species like the ^kö a lesser minority. Racism still runs as rampant as it did in the twentieth century - humans tend to hate the other races and walk over them, while the other races occasionally form groups intended to make terrorist attacks against humanity, using the excuse of reclaiming rightful territory. There are a few select places where they get along, but for the most part, humanity tends to avoid friendship wherever possible, clustering themselves together around the galaxy's center, which is a better place for trade. The rest of the species are clustered together in separate groups nearer to the galaxy's fringe zones. Being farther from the central hub of trade and activity, this naturally makes them poorer, more technologically-starved worlds. The Inner Worlds are generally thought of as more luxurious and their inhabitants more privileged, except by those who sees them as self-important snobs. The inner worlds are actually quite lovely. Lush gardens, no problems with overpopulation and few with unemployment (unless by choice, which is completely viable). They of course have to deal with their own problems, but overall, they're an absolute paradise. The rest of the galaxy? Not so much.

As the Milky Way is 100,000 light years across, methods of traversing it in a timely fashion had to be found. After disproving Einstein's theory of relativity in the early 21st century, humankind went on to design warp drives. A network of trade emerged from this new interstellar highway system, and humanity prospered. At current warp speeds, it only takes two months to cross the galaxy, making Andromeda only four years away… but strange things happen to the crews of ships that venture into the black, and Andromeda has, to our knowledge, never been explored - much less colonized.

Galactic Timeline

Galactic History

Galactic history spans all the way back to 8627 BC, when the Plodii first invented warp drive for themselves - skipping four levels of technology. It's entirely unclear how the Plodii, unique of everyone, had access to 4th-level warp drive, but records suggest that they inherited it from someone else; exactly whom is unknown. On this mysterious note, the colonization of the universe began. The Bhezians, also living in the Norma arm of the galaxy, invented warp drive completely by themselves several hundred years later, with the Qyrax following suit several hundred years after that. In 7051 BC, after over a millennium and a half of thinking they were alone in the galaxy, the Plodii happened to encounter the Bhez during an exploratory mission in a star system, and the two became very fast allies and trading partners. Each had their own unique set of skill they were able to offer: Plodii, for instance, are much more in touch with the arts and aesthetics, creating things which the Bhezians found pleasant and soothing. The Bhezians, in their turn, were able to provide the Plodii with more scientific, utilitarian technologies, as the Bhezians were far ahead of the Plodii in their technology levels. The two races marked out the boundaries of their territories - boundaries that would hold for just under ten millennia.

In 5451 BC, the Qyrax joined the scene when the Bhezians discovered them. The Qyrax had been expanding since 7231 BC and gone almost two millennia thinking they were alone in the galaxy. They quite happily accepted their new neighbors, and for a time things went splendidly - the Bhezians were eager to learn about the unique technologies the Qyrax possessed, and the Plodii were very interested in trade. However, this did not last: By 4856 BC, small skirmishes were already breaking out over the border territories between Bhezian and Qyrax space. The utilitarian ethics of the Bhezians did not at all with the spiritualist culture of the Qyrax, and hostilities began to ensue after frequent insults from the Bhezians regarding the Qyrax's religious beliefs. In 4175, the Bhezians and the Qyrax strike a truce of sorts, finally settling their borders. While contested every other generation, these borders hold. By this time, it became apparent that the genetics of the Qyrax are failing, and as a species they will be extinct within the next four millennia. The Bhezians offer their assistance, and the Qyrax reluctantly accept.

By the year 4100, warp travel has been refined to warp 6, and it had become quite clear that refining and stabilizing veloxium (or finding naturally-refined sources) were the key to unlocking its true potential. Meanwhile, the Qyrax decided that the nearby galaxy Andromeda is the key to their salvation, and while many of their ships sought to make the 750-year voyage, most of their explorers went searching for a natural-occurring, refined source. This led to their rapid expansion, which hastened their demise.

In 3834 BC, the Qyrax met their first neighbor species, the Gorvan, hailing from the south-eastern side of the galaxy. They made an attempt to integrate them into the galactic alliance with the Bhezians and Plodii, but these attempts were met with suspicion from both parties, and no headway is made. They discovered a second major species in 3666 BC: the as-of-yet planetbound Hiltorel. Seeing that the Hiltorel homeworld possessed a vast supply of veloxium, they offered the Hiltorel ships, space elevators, and other technology in exchange for the rights to peacefully mine. The hiltorel accepted, with the added stipulation that the Qyrax could not befoul their world. The Qyrax agreed, and this promise was kept.

In the year 3240, the Hiltorel manage to reform the previous Galactic Alliance into the new Galactic Community, utilizing their excellent skills as mediators to negotiate agreements. Under this new Galactic Community, all the primary species were welcome. These were not the only species, of course: many smaller species such as the Aavanids, ^ko, and Rii'shians lacked the drive to colonize the rest of the galaxy; the few explorers that ventured forth lacked the numbers or ability to expand their numbers away from home. Meanwhile, the Qyraxians' numbers were thinning ever more rapidly; few of their children survived to adulthood despite their best efforts. The last Qyraxian died in 2754 BC, on his own homeworld, after being taken care of by the Bhezians and the Hiltorel. By this point, the Qyraxian territories had already mostly been divided up between their neighbors, with the vast majority going to the Bhezians.

By the year 2554, in which the Hiltorel discovered the Azquad species, "power" was both the Plodii and Bhezians wanted the most, and at that time, territory was equivalent to power. The newly-discovered Warp 9 permitted one to cross the entire galaxy in only eight years, and they were rapidly attempting to divide all of it between themselves, as defined by the Galactic Community's laws. When the Hiltorel discovered the Azquads, whose homeworld lay close to the galactic center and the Northern Exclusion Zone, just outside the Plodii borders, the Plodii were less than pleased, and this displeasure was exacerbated when a majority vote permitted the Azquads to join the Community. The Bhezians, fond of subterfuge, were quietly pleased with this development, as it meant the Plodii could not expand as rapidly. The Hiltorel, on the other hand, saw it as expanding their galactic family. The Azquads saw it as a farce and wanted nothing to do with it, only entering the Galactic Community because of the pressure put on them by the other civilizations. Mostly, they wanted to be left alone, and the sour glances exchanged between them and the Bhezians/Plodii led to an innate distrust and dislike of the other Community members.

Over the next two millennia, little happened. The Plodii, after making several attempts to push forth into the northern exclusion zone, eventually resigned themselves to the fact that it was a foul and dangerous place. They still kept it as their territory, however, because of the power it represented. The Azquads cut their own little slice of the galaxy between them and the Hiltorel. The Gorvans, on their own side, peacefully expanded to the edge of the galaxy. It was assumed that all the major races had been found… until the year 247 BC, when the Krolum were discovered on a world the Gorvans attempted to colonize. The Gorvans quickly realized their mistake, but by this time the Krolum, always wanting to live apart from one another, demanded access to Gorvan technology. This is refused at first, but out of curiosity the Gorvans eventually permitted them to examine it, upon which the Krolum, being excellent engineers, began creating it for themselves. They started a short period of rapid expansion into Gorvan territory (which they were already fully enveloped by) until the Hiltorel intervened. After an intense debate, with much of the controversy fueled by the Krolum's hideous appearance, the Krolum were very reluctantly accepted into the Galactic Community and given a small plot of territory of their own to colonize.

[to be continued]

REKT Missions of platoon 56

Mission 1: Chilendorn Base

Main article: Mission 1
Platoon 56 was sent on a mission to an asteroid field in Chilendorn, a system around an irregular gamma ray pulsar. After disabling three of the four massive AA megaturrets situated in the field, the squads approached and boarded the alien base in the middle. At this point, SCAMPS warned the platoon that a strange phenomenon called "Dark Space" was rapidly approaching their position; the duration of the mission was shortened by half and the crew was urged to finish quickly. The boarding party soon began studying the base, and theorized that the Quantums, an alien race that exists in multiple universes at once, was the source of anomalous materials. Eventually the platoon makes their way through the decrepit base to a room full of destroyed cryostasis pods around a Quantum orb. After battling a large number of small security drones, the platoon realizes that the Quantum Orb is capable of giving humans something akin to "powers". They then recover the Quantum Orb (not intact) and escape the base, boarding the Tartarus and fleeing the system just before the Dark Space SCAMPS warned about arrived and consumed the asteroid field.

Mission 2: Sedirmar Convoy

Main article: Mission 2
Platoon 56 was sent on a mission to attack a Mimir convoy in the Sedirmar Nebula. The convoy contained a science ship that had captured a small alien craft flying around the Dark Space in the Chilendorn system near the end of the previous mission; the platoon was ordered to retrieve said craft. The convoy was stated to contain a carrier, the science vessel, and a gunship, but it also contained two shieldmaiden-class corvettes as well. Upon arrival, the platoon took it upon themselves to destroy the gunship and then turned their attention to the shieldmaidens as the Mimir HAMMER fighters attacked. They were able to commandeer the shieldmaidens and board the science vessel with some difficulty. When the carrier launched a wave of fighters, they enclosed the science vessel and themselves within a shield bubble, but foolishly broke into the science ship's upper hangar, which contained a large pod of HAMMERs. Meanwhile, the ship-based team fought their way to the ship's well-protected rear hangar (fighting a boarbear along the way). They were able to secure the objective and get to the extraction point just before Mimir reinforcements arrived.

Mission 3: Sitatha Canyons

Main article: Mission 3
Platoon 56 was sent on a mission to a large moon orbiting an ice giant inside its Roche limit, both to successfully recover the Quantum Orb that Tartarus had located, and to figure out what had happened to the MIA Platoon 373.

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