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*Cough* Three Fortresses Destroyed.

1.)Self Destructed.

2.)Destroyed by a Bindar Kamikaze.



BTW, there were approximately 100 Ships lost to the Mines. Seem fair?

Klaxons sounding, the Fleet finished it's minor Withdrawl. Although the Explosion itself had not done any damage to the ships, the Mines the followed, did. The First wave of the bombs had quickly collided with the first ships, destroying most immediately. Those that were not, were heavily Damaged- And withdrawn. The next mines did far less damage, the Heaviest ships having pulled in the path of the projectiles- Taking the brunt of the assault. One of these heavier ships was nearly destroyed- Which gave De'Garious a rather good idea. He would use it to Copy-cat Bindar's move. Because the ship was so damaged, it only had one engine left operating. However, this would suffice. The ship was quickly empitied of crew and fitted with a remote sytem to controll the single engine, While two damaged Frigates with still fuctioning Engines were docked onto the Cruiser. The idea was simple- Drive the ships at a Break-neck pace at the remaining Fortress in the area, and watch the Fireworks. The moment came, and the operation commenced. A hail of Torpedos and Missiles were launched at the Platform along with some Las-rounds for fun, and the Ships followed directly after. They came closer, and closer, and closer to the Fortress- It laying into to the Massive, Improvised Missile with everything it had. However, the Hugely armored Cruiser simply shuddered with every impact. It was nearly upon the station, when a lucky shot destroyed one of the Frigates providing power to the Cruiser. With a huge explosion, the Frigate was blown cleanly of the larger ship, and the remaining two Ships slowly changed coarse. Te chane however, was too little to save the Fortress. Instead of smashing directly into it, the "Missile" was off to the left of it's mark. Upon impact, the Crusier and Frigate still exploded, causing massive damage to the Station, but it was not catastrophic. Indeed, the casual observer would only notice a highly damaged, but still operationly Fortress. Those aboard it, and on the Command ship of the Trebesian Fleet however, knew differantly. The Impact and explosion had actually forced the Fortress to begin a lazy, spin and had started to shudder into the atmosphere, towards the already wasted Equator. The Trebesians watched in Silence as the Platform slowly began to burn up.

OOC: Alright, make that Four destroyed Fortresses. I wonder how many need to die before I can safely start landing.  :D

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There had been a lot of time for Relnev's plan to come to its fruition.  Casting his mind back, Relnev remembered a conversation between himself and Eemins many months ago, not long after he had earned the title of Chancellor, and just after the bombing of Arsunt.

"Genocide on a planetery level," Relnev had said.  "Never before has someone skipped so glibly along the lines drawn by the Great Convention."

It was then that the reports from Arrakis had come in.

"I wouldn't be so sure, sir." Eemins said, removing a printout from a slit in the meeting room wall.  The other council members waited in silence while Relnev read the summarised report.

"Now our allies are killing civilians?" Relnev had asked, furiously.  The council had expected outrage at the total obliteration of Arsunt, despite the links it had with House Moritani; there were, after all, innocent people killed.

"The reports indicate that the entire city was bombed to ashes," Eemins elaborated.  "Though one would think that Arsunt's defences were better than that."

"It is of little consequence how it happened, Eemins," Relnev had said.  "The point is, what does the Emperor plan to do about Houses Moritani and Trebeis?  With any luck, we can try and get the Imperial forces to easy on Aleksandr and Atilian, and..."

"The Emperor is doing nothing, sir." Eemins interrupted, silencing Relnev.  It was soon after that he had ordered military production to be increased.

Stepping out of his reverie for a moment, Relnev moved towards the viewport of the room he was in.  Outside, the rest of the Ixian fleet moved silently through space, with the planet of Athalon IV increasing in size, inch by inch, as they approached.  He had known it would come to this, even then.  A battle with Ekaterina was inevitable; it was just a matter of when it would happen, and on whose grounds it would be fought.  Relnev felt that he had done his best to postpone the encounter long enough for Ix to gather its strength, and to manipulate the situation to allow for as even a battlefield as could be managed.  Ekaterina was strong, the forces she commanded enormous; but with any luck, it would be House Trebeis, the Bindar Cartel and Ix, that saw victory today.

"Acknowledged, De'Garious," Relnev hadreplied.  "We've lost two orbital defence platforms already.  More are being produced with all due speed, but I fear that they will not be ready in time for another attack."

"That is unfortunate." De'Garious commented at the time, running battle statistics over in his head.

"However, defences on-planet have taken minimal damage.  What little repairs are required will be completed within a day." Relnev had informed.  "We are also in the process of salvaging any and all useful equipment from the Sardaukar dropships, and planting several minefields in key locations to stop any ground troops from advancing as quickly."

"Anything else?"

"We have other contingincies..." Relnev had mused.  "We have re-inforced all entrances to our planet, and steps are being taken towards organising localised shielding to trap any force that does make it through."

"You still sound as if you're hiding something." De'Garious had said, a smile in his tone.

"The Ix are always prepared." was Relnev's reply.

Now that the time had come, however, Relnev was having trouble fighting his doubts.  The plan was a risky one, but he knew that it could be accomplished with enough effort.

"Approaching outer sensor range now, sir," reported the pilot of the command vessel that Relnev was aboard.

"Assuming they're even watching for us," Relnev said, staring at the melee of weapons fire and explosions.

"This is Ekaterina we're talking about, sir," Eemins commented, then turned towards the console he was operating.  "Activating scrambler field."

The first of Relnev's many tricks, the scrambler field was essentially a transmittor array on every ship in the Ixian fleet that projected an extremely short range broadcast of static over every conceivable channel, radio or sensor.  This effectively made them invisible to any form of scanning, long or short range - someone would have to be physically looking out of a window to notice the Ix when they were within visual range, and by then it would be too late.

"Report on the current situation," Relnev said.

"Four of the Fortresses remain active, sir," said Eemins, analysing his console and those of nearby operators, "only... one in firing range of the Trebeis.  The rest are on standby."

"Are they aware of our presence?"

"Even if they were, you know it wouldn't matter," Eemins smiled.  Relnev grinnned half-heartedly, not sharing the confidence that Eemins did.  Though he trusted that this would be successful, he was also aware that there would inevitably be losses, and there were still a multitude of things that could go wrong.  And there was still the matter of Ekaterina herself.

The Ixian fleet began to split into seperate groups; it was then that the sheer size of the fleet became apparent.  In the space of time between the bombing of Arsunt and now, the Ix had managed to construct thousands of frigates and corvettes, each armed with a full complement of missiles and - in the case of the larger, capital ships - torpedoes.  In addition to that, Relnev had requested a further addition to the ships' weapon manifest as soon as he heard about the Fortresses.  One that he intended to use to devastating effect.

"Group Beta in place," reported one group, over communicators directly linked to the scrambler field, so as to bypass the interference.

"Group Delta, standing by," said the next group, after a minute or two.

"This is Group Gamma, in position," said the final group.

"All groups, this is Group Alpha," said Relnev, "commence bombardment in t-minus thirty seconds; mark!"

With that, Relnev gave the signal to begin the first part of his assault on Athalon IV.  Each of the groups was positioned just outside of sensor range of the four remaining operational Fortresses, and began simultaneously accelerating towards them.  Increasing in speed with each second, the ships were already travelling at hitherto un-navigable rates, moving inexorably towards the floating monstrosities.

Within seconds, they were within visual range; the three Fortresses on standby were quick to notice the incoming fleet, but woefully too late to mount any sort of defence.  No sooner had they started to bring weapons to bear than the Ixian forces scorched through space.  The one that remained in firing range of the Trebeis was slightly quicker, and directed a few shots at the Ixian newcomers.  Scattering, weaving and dodging erratically to avoid any real damage, they suffered few losses.

The frigates launched several large spheres before flying straight past the Fortresses, then to turn around and engage should the need arise.  The smaller corvettes began flying random rings around the orbital weapons, firing missiles and smaller versions of the spheres.  On contact, both versions of these spheres detonated with deceptively small force, yet releasing a devastating Electromagnetic Pulse, knocking out targeting systems and any other electronic device on the station.  Within minutes, each Fortress had been effectively crippled, forced into using manual firing methods on ships that were moving too fast to target, amidst cheers from the Trebeisian forces.

"Hold your fire, Atillian!" Relnev shouted over a pre-secured channel.

"Relnev?  So it's you!" came the reply, disbelieving and ecstatic.  "We'd thought you'd decided to sit this one out!"

"Quite the contrary.  Aleks, are you there?"

"Nice to hear from you, Relnev.  What's your plan?  Why have we stopped firing at those Fortresses?  More importantly, why have they stopped firing at us?" came Aleks' questioning reply.

"Those things will soon be under Ixian control - we've crippled them with EMP."

"Quite the plan.  How is it that your ships are immune?" Atillian asked.

"They're not immune, as such," Relnev replied, "just well shielded.  We're about to begin boarding them."

"How?" Atillian queried.

"You'll see.  Any idea on how many soldiers are aboard these things?"

"About 200 people per Fortress, but not all of them soldiers." Aleksandr replied.

"Ah; I may have over-estimated a bit."

As the frigates managed to turn about, the larger capital ships that had remained at the sensory border began to join them.  Moving at a lesser speed, and careful to remain outside of weapons range, the capital ships launched Insertion Pods at each of the Fortresses.  Armed with both conventional and laser drills, these pods contained a squad of Ixian Defenders each, specially trained for this insertion mission - they slammed into the hull of the Fortresses, drilling almost instantly through to decks that the troops (all fitted with additional breathing apparatus) could unload onto.  At least 500 Ixian 'Special Forces' unloaded onto each ship, with reports filtering in of good progress and minimal losses.  The skeleton personnel aboard each of the floating defences didn't seem prepared for the eventuality of close quarters combat.

A few minutes later, Relnev contacted Atillian and Aleksandr again.

"We're making good progress; we've already secured the last Fortress within firing range of you.  The others are putting up more of a resistance, but the outcome is inevitable.  They're ours."

"We'll start making preperations to land, then."

"Leave some of your forces in orbit," Relnev said, "we'll do the same, remaining on full alert.  It's not unlike Ekaterina to strike where it's least expected, so it's best to expect everything."

At a nod from Aleksandr, Atillian replied.  "Very well, we'll begin transporting ground troops.  It'll be tough, though; those ground defences look pretty solid."

"There's more than one ace up my sleeve, Atillian." Relnev replied.

Another few minutes pass, and then hundreds of Ixian Fighters and several Frigates fly searing through the atmosphere of Athalon IV on a bombing run.  More EMP spheres are used, taking out a significant portion of the long range artillery that could have threatened the slower Trebeis ships.  Ground based infantry or tanks were decimated from salvoes of missiles and a well-placed torpedo or two, yet a few lucky shots managed to take out fully a quarter of the frigates and a smaller number of fighters.  Another few minutes, and the remaining ships were returning to orbit.

"Now's your chance, Atillian!  Move your forces in to land, and wipe out Ekaterina's forces!" Relnev exclaimed.

Atillian had already begun his descent, with untold hundreds of ships moving towards Athalon; their home.  Some had already entered the atmosphere, beginning final approach for the 'safe spot' Relnev's forces had punched into the Moritani defences.  Though still fired upon with renewed vigour by the remaining ground artillery, there was no noticable loss in the Trebeis landing fleet.  The first few touched down, opened their doors, and let loose the souls within; desperate for revenge, and to fight to regain their rightful home.

In space, aboard the command vessel, Relnev and Eemins were preparing to depart for the surface, along with a special contingent of Ixian Defenders.  Most of them had been there during Aleksandr's rescue from Ekaterina on Arrakis.  How long ago that seemed now, Relnev thought, as he stored the same Shock-Staff he used on Aleks' evil sister so long ago, on his belt.

"Hundro told me about your, er, reading material." came the voice of Aleks from the doorway of Relnev's equipment room.

"Aleks!" Relnev exclaimed, truly surprised; not at Hundro's relation of the plan, but at the former Moritani's presence on board.

"Atillian left me alone for a while, possibly to join the forces on Athalon.  I'm here to go with you."

Relnev paused, half-smiled, then continued to suit up.  He indicated another locker.

"There's some spare equipment in there, all tested and working fine.  Eemins tends to worry, though.  Feel free to take anything you feel you'll need."

"Thank you." Aleksandr replied, examining several innovative weapons, not all designed to kill an enemy.  Was that a trident?

"You realise that we'll be heading straight to Ekaterina." Relnev said, interrupting Aleksandr's chain of thought.

"Yes..." came the reply.

"And that it's more than likely we'll encounter quite a number of her elite guard."

"I trust you're more than prepared for that eventuality if you're willing to take a risk like this, Chancellor." smiled Aleksandr.

"Ha!  The Ix are always prepared!"

As the last of the Trebeis troops landed and unloaded on the surface of Athalon IV, the battle began to get fully underway.  With all of Ekaterina's attention hopefully focused on the epic battle outside her front door, Relnev hoped that his small group of fighters - codenamed Omega Group - would be able to slip in the back door un-noticed.  As they descended through the atmosphere, choosing to move slowly in an attempt to avoid any undue attention, it appeared as though Relnev's wager had paid off.

Inside the specially modified fighters flew Relnev, Aleksandr and Eemins, along with another hundred of Ix's elite forces.  Landing several miles away from Catrione, they disembarked and moved to a remote spot about fifty feet away.

"This is the spot Hundro mentioned, where one of the many back-doors into Catrione should lie..." Relnev said, looking around for any sign of an entrance.  There was a grunt, and Relnev turned to see Aleksandr pulling back a manhole-cover-esque object, to reveal a ladder leading down.  Several lights sprung automatically into life.

"Hundro keeps his word." Aleksandr repeated.  One by one, the group descenced the ladder, into the gloom.  Down below, they quickly encountered a set of doors that required access codes to grant passage through.

"Only four digits." Eemins noted.

"You don't really want to be typing in 64-digit hexadecimal code when you're running away from invaders, Eemins," commented Relnev, tapping in the access code.  "One, three, three, seven.  Quaint."

The doors slid open, with barely a sound, aside from the hiss of reliable and failsafe hydraulic systems granting the group access to the bowels of the great city that hid Ekaterina.

"Let's get moving."

"Are you sure we won't be noticed?" Aleks asked.

Taking the first steps forward, Relnev replied, "We have to place our hopes in the Trebeis.  We need them to keep Ekaterina's forces fighting long enough for us to slip in undetected."

"If only I hadn't dropped that damned jug." Aleks jested.

"If I believed in fate, I'd say that it was a fickle mistress." Relnev replied.  "Let's move!"

With that, the Ixian force moved quickly and silently, on towards their enemy and goal: Ekaterina.

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OOC: Alright, make that Four destroyed Fortresses. I wonder how many need to die before I can safely start landing.  :D

Actually it was just three. :P (2) was nuked but then self destructed; (3) was destroyed by Bindar kamikaze; and an unnamed one, we'll say (4), was just destroyed by Trebesian ship-missiles o' doom (despite the fact that remote systems would be considered thinking machines...). Not that it makes much difference now. Incidentally, I hope these numbers are actually going to mean something rather than just being statistics. You've lost an awful lot of manpower and firepower so far.

"There are those who would call you heartless, my Emperor." The Princess Irulan said evenly, moving a rook to take posession of a third contra-diagonal. She sat back in her chair. "Your younger brother and sister are on opposite sides of a battle as we speak; a battle in which one or both of them will almost certainly lose their lives. Even if you are forbidden to interfere, one would expect some worry, some hidden measure. And yet you sit in your palace, playing cheops." Her face was straight, devoid of false emotions. The Emperor leaned forward to examine the game field.

"My last communique from Aleksandr informed me that the battle was beginning." He muttered. "I do not expect any further infomation until the affair is ended, what need have I to worry? It will not bring about the end any faster." He shifted to one side, and moved his own rook back in recoil. "In any case, is it not expected that I would benefit from the deaths of my siblings? With them removed, I will not have to deal with their potentially troublsome interference with the succession."

'You don't believe that. But why not?' The Princess frowned slightly, before abruptly wiping the expression from her features. She examined the board, while Hundro took a drink from his crystal chalice. The two played in silence for the following minutes, Irulan pressing her advantage heavily while Hundro retreated further and further from the strategic positions, yet losing few pieces. Irulan's devastating eclipse finally smashed through his outer line of pawns, leaving the Queen exposed.

"For someone who outmanoeuvred my father with such subtlty, I admit to being surprised." The Princess commented, moving a pawn into a strategically unimportant but logically sensible position.

"Surprised, Irulan?" Hundro raised an eyebrow. "At what?"

"I can defeat you in two moves." Irulan stated.

"Ah, of course." The Emperor smiled. "Perhaps then, I am worrying more than I appear?" He reached a slender hand between two levels of the pyramid, shifting a pawn around his Queen. Irulan immediately brought her own Queen upwards, ready to take Hundro's King. The Emperor lazily stretched out, and moved the same pawn a single space downwards. Irulan made to reach for her Queen, but stopped short in abrupt realisation.

Hundro's move, so small and apparantly insignificant, had just tipped the entire game. Irulan's hard-won strongholds in three of the four rising lines were now useless, unable as they were to reach the centre of the board quickly, where the action had suddenly shifted. Hundro's Queen stood near defenceless, but with an open path to the top of the pyramid. Irulan had no way to stop it. She searched the board in vain, attempting to find some other strategem by which to defeat her husband-to-be. Finally, she saw her defeat as it stared her in the face. In good grace, she moved her Queen in the only way she could, futile though it was. Hundro's King stepped down, and by his next move his Queen stood atop the pyramid, winning him the game.

"Congratulations, your highness." Irulan nodded in deference.

"Don't feel bad about losing, Irulan." Hundro said gently. "The game was a distraction, and for that I thank you. But it was also a demonstration." Irulan looked up. The Emperor's face was utterly serious. "Beware of overconfidence, and always watch most carefully when an enemy seems beaten." He stood up sharply, making his way to the large window, chalice in hand. Irulan remained seated.

"Are you trying to lecture me in the arts of war now?" She asked, slightly put out.

"No, I am just drawing your attention to a particular point." Hundro said, looking out at the mist of early morning. "I want you to go to Salusa Secundus under pretext of visiting your father and sisters. Word is that things there are... not as they should be." He turned to look at Irulan. "Make no mistake, your sisters will not murder you openly. But I do not want to hear that some 'accident' has befallen you during your visit." He warned. "You will be assigned a large guard. These will not be with you at all times, and indeed I expect you to use them as a bargaining chip. How this works I will leave to your discretion."

"Slow down." Irulan interrupted. "Am I hearing this correctly? You wish me to spy on my sisters?"

"Absolutely." Hundro replied. "You are the perfect candidate. If you play your part well, they may invite you into their schemes."

"And how do you know that I won't doublecross you?" Irulan asked, for the sake of asking.

"I don't." The Emperor shrugged. "But remember, I am not an easy man to deceive." He indicated the cheops board.

"Indeed." The Princess replied dryly. "Very well. I assume that I am to leave as soon as possible?"

"As soon as is reasonable, Princess." The Emperor bowed, signalling to Irulan that it was time to leave. She rose gracefully from her chair, bowed, and left the library.

"Valen?" Hundro asked, watching the mist clear. There was no answer. "Valen?" His ears picked up a small snore from beneath Irulan's chair. He sighed. Well, he had told her he would wait, so wait he would...

* * *

"Electomagnetic pulse, hmm?" Ekterina glared at the incoming reports from the surface. "I knew those cursed Ixians would be a thorn in my side for a while yet." She smirked. "Fortunately, I learn from past mistakes. Send out the I-Meks. And destroy every Fortress that can't be retaken."

"It may be a bit late for that. Fortress 1 is already under enemy control. The others won't be able to fire upon it either." Rachael reported.

"Well, crash them." Ekaterina shrugged. "With as many Ixians on board as possible. I would have prefered to use them against the Trebesian ground forces, but if that is no longer an option then they are no longer useful."

"Trebesian forces approaching Catrione's doors." Rachael went on monotonously.

"Don't let them in." Ekaterina ordered. "The longer they stay outside, the weaker they get. They've been living on Arrakis for several years now, and before that in the tropical or temperate regions of the planet. Less than one in twenty of them will have lived in Catrione while it was still Nordeska. With any luck, the cold will kill them before we do."

* * *

The Moritas Square, a huge expanse of snow-covered brickwork where the I-meks had first been displayed to the Trebesian public. Now bristling with Trebesian ships, as they landed and emptied their cargo out into the frigid enviroment. Orders were shouted, commands relayed. And shells dropped.

"We're under attack!" The cry went up.

"Where from?" The answering call. While the Trebesians fought to get to cover as quickly as possible, their ships and positions were bombarded on all sides. Mortars flung out of the mist impacted repeatedly on the side of one of the frigates, sending it crashing over and crushing the men beneath. The attack did not relent.

The scant few D-meks that were part of the initial landing arrayed themselves about the Trebesian position, providing some measure of cover while the men attempted to organise themselves. A few forayed further, spotting an occasional dark shape in the mists of the civilian quarters. Surrounded by the houses of Catrione's workers, many of which would doubtless be occupied, the I-mek batteries fired long-range shells into Moritas Square. Far to the West, where the bunker-like form of Catrione proper squatted on the horizon, a red glow slowly faded as the massive plasteel doors slid shut.

* * *

Message to Salusa Secundus:

My sisters, there is much we are needing to discuss. Of course there is little that I can convey to you in a letter, but that is why I plan to visit. I wish to see our father, and I wish to do so soon. Please accomodate me at the earliest possible oppertunity.

Your loving sister, Irulan.

* * *

"What's this?" One of the forward scouts glared at the shimmering field before him. As Relnev and the main body of the guard approached, he stepped to one side.

"It's a penta-shield." Eemins stated simply, even before he leaned in close to make a detailed examination. "A development of the personal shield designed to block narrow passages or corridors. Unlike normal shields, they are impermeable, even to slow-moving objects. One passes through by means of a transmitter encoded specifically to the shield, usually carried on one's body."

"I never thought I'd see one of these actually in use." Relnev commented.

"Why? They seem very useful." Aleksandr replied. "I'm surprised I haven't heard of them before, in fact."

"They require massive volumes of power and regular maintenance in order to function. Even the richest houses only have one or two, if that." Relnev frowned as he examined the walls around the barrier. "The fact that Ekaterina has one, when her trade with the rest of the Imperium is all but nonexistant, indicates that she has built her own." He snorted. "Richese."

"Is there a weakness?" One of the guards asked hesitantly.

"No." Relnev stood back, frowning some more. "For all their clunky efficiency, a well-maintained penta-shield is a serious obstacle. Let me think..."

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A meeting was once again underway, but this time with a few new additions. In addition to the original three of Wensicia, Chalice, and Ketar Rihael, there were three more people: Rugi, Josifa, the mentat Halir, and the Head Assasin of House Corrino, Rook Ber. Halir started it off.

"Our agents at the battle have sent us a communique," Halir started grumpily. "Considering our plans, it is not going well. The Ixians have joinde the Trebesians at a critical moment, and using,from what I have concluded, some sort of electro-magnetic pulse weapons, have disabled and captured all of the Fortresses. The Trebesians have deployed a large ground force on Athalon, and are trying to break down the doors of Catrione, if  I may use that metaphor. It seems that at the moment Ekaterina is playing a purely defensive game, keeping the wolves from breaking in. The Trebeis may lay siege to Catrione, they may carpet-bomb it, they may opt for a full out assault, but either way, the tides are heavily in the Ixians' and Trebesians' favor. When the battle is over, there will still remain a large force of Ixians and perhaps of the Trebesians, depending upon what course of attack they will choose. This presents a problem to our plans. As everyone here knows, we have blackmailed many Houses Minor into donating their forces to our army, and so our forces are vast an numerous, but the Ix always have some sort of trick up their sleeve, some card that they have not played, some force that they have not put to use or deployed. They are the main problem. The Trebesians have been dealt a heavy blow by the Fortresses, and are now engaging Ekaterina's forces on Athalon. They can be subdued, I think, easily enough, provided the troop management and displacement goes well. So - " Halir took a deep breath and paused a moment before continuing.

"We need to be most cautious of the Ixians. I know not whether they have exhausted those EMP weapons, but we must take those into account. The forces from the Minor Houses have started to arrive, am I correct, Rihael?"

The Ketar took over.

"Correct. Seven thousand men from Hama II, thirteen thousand from Greater Phyrgia and 4 thousand from Lesser Phyrgia. More shall come. I would like it to be made known, however, that many of these men are total greens, meaning that they have little to no combat experience or even training," he explaine hastily, seeing the quizzical looks from Rugi and Josifa.

"So you want to use them as cannon fodder?" Wensicia asked, a very slight smile on her face.


"Fine with me, then. I would just like to get one of your companies off duty to help train those...donated soldiers. My only concern is that they be able to fire a gun somewhat decently. No use in training them advanced battle tactics, as there isn't much time left before we move. I don't care how much ammunition they use up, I have found several weapons and ammunition stockpiles of my fathers's that would have been enough to keep the Butlerian Jihad going for several more generations. Chalice, sister, do you agree with my idea?" Wensicia asked Chalice, who was watching everyone in turn with a hard face.

"What? Oh, yes, of course. I trust Ketar Rihael to arm them accordingly, assuming that he will accept our request to let a company or two of men to deviate from their usual duties to help train these soldiers."

"It would be my pleasure, mi'Lady," the Ketar got up and bowed, then sat back down.

"Good. Oh, and I wish it that all ships above the class of frigatehave anti-EMP defenses, however minor. In fact, I am surprised that Ekaterina didn't upgrade the Fortresses with them. Now that that is settled, I have something else to bring to your attention."

She showed them all the message from Irulan.

"Conclusions?" She asked, when the Spymaster Rook ber had finished reading it and put the holopad down. He was also the first one to speak.

"Mi'Lady, having been trained to be suspicious of everyone and everything, my logical conclusion is that it is a trap, a lure, a feint to try and find out your weaknesses and plans, no doubt masterminded by Hundro. Remember that your sister, Irulan, is but a pawn in this game, one of the only ways of claiming the Imperial Throne, and Hundro certainly wouldn't want the next generation of Corrinos to try and take back the throne," he finished, settling back down into his chair.  Chalice nodded. She had come to that conclusion herself already. But the only way to get an unbiased report was to hear from the Mentat.


"Well, we could look at this two ways. There is barely any data to be had, so I am looking at it from only two options. The first is thus: Irulan really does want to talk urgently with you and visit your father, or she is, indeed, sent by Hundro Moritani to spy and gather information. I will think it over, but for now I urge you to be cautious of her. And if she tries to nose into your plans or enquires about them, place her with very limited access to the city and palace. Surveillance is a must. Murdering her would have very sever consequences and would not, in my honest opinion, be a good move for you to make."

Chalice turned to Josifa and Rugi.

"What are your opinions on our dear sister?"

"I do not trust her, and although I have no qualms with her, she cannot be allowed to find out our plans. If she reveals them to Hundro, all may be lost," Rugi stated flatly, a look of indifference on her face.

"I concur," Josifa commented, "with Halir on the suggestion that she should be placed under surveillance. And on the suggestino that she should be given limited access.Veeery limited access."

Chalice nodded, looked at Rook ber, and inquired quietly, "Can you put some of your men on her?"

The dark-skinned man nodded.

"Good. This meeting is dismissed. We shall hold another one as the situation progresses. And then, she announced dramatically to everyone seated, I will present to you something that may tip the tables heavily in our favor, if...when we go to war."

OOC: Dante, you could write up the 'welcome home' dialogue between Chalice and Irulan, if you want. Just know that the aforementioned groups' attitude towards Irulan will be cold. ot hostile, but cold, and formal. :)

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Carth's forces landed North of Catrione. Thought his men almost never saw snow, and now were freezing, they were equiped with proper equipment. However, the battle was already tough for them.

The Gehay natives, on the other hand were at ease. Their home climate, though ussually mild at winter was quite harsh. So the low temperatures now experienced were only a few degrees colder than the Gehayans experienced.

The army, with Carth in front moved towards Catrione and soon, engaged the outer defences. The advance was slow but it could not be dettered.

Report to Atilian:

"Good progres in the north of Catrione. No I-Meks encountered until now. Race you to central square!"

Carth's weaponry consisted in his 35000 men armed with 10 laser tanks, trikes, quads, ornis, laser guns and flame-throwers as well as projectile weapons big and small.

The army continued to blow Catrione's north defences one by one and in short time they reached the living area, which would be quite a challange as it was build erraticaly, like a labirinth.

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Hearing a large Commotion near the entrence of the Manhole they had just entered through, Relnev and Aleksandr demanded wa report upon the situation. Replying, Aleksandr was quite surprised to see the Ducial Guard's Second in Command, Wren Flanken

drop to the ground. "Sir, we were ordered to protect you. Naturally we were more than concerned with your actions." Looking slightly confused, Aleksandr asked hurridly "How exactly, did you and-" He was cut off by the Nokker "My Men? Yes I have the rest of your Security team with me. Twenty Ducial Guardsman." Flanken said. Continuing, Aleks said "Yes, how did you know where  was?" Relnev answered the question. He pulled a small instrament from a pouch. Running it over Aleksandr, he paused at a beep made by the device. "They have a tracker implanted in your Armour." Relnev said, smiling at Aleks.

"RETREAT!" The order screeched through the comunicators in the Trebesian's Helmets. The Force had made the mistake of landing further into the City than ordered. The men began quickly pulling back to the actual landing area, taking casualties. Finally, A wing of Mark II Ornithopters swept in, laying a pattern of destruction with their Las-Weapons and Dropping massive bombs. The Men having pulled back an appropriate distance, the D-Meks turned about. Seeking the well hidden targets, one finally locked on. Recieving the Operator, selecting a weapon, activated the heavy Repeating Cannon. Firing, the wall covering the I-Mek disintgrated. The other D-Meks, too quickly locked on and added their weapons to the attack. The Enemy Mek quickly succombed to the assault, and exploded. The Meks continued their retreat.

"Open fire!" Qapmoc ordered the gargantuan assemably of Artilley pieces and Rocket Launchers. Therer was a temporary sensation of slowed-time as the thousands of weapons fired Salvos of Rockets and Shells. This quickly ended as the projectiles reached their targets, the posistion of I-Meks, fed to them by the Ornithopters above. The Orbiting ships Had Begun Bombarding the Defenses of the city itself, and the explosions were terrific. The Men of the force, having entrenched themselves watched in indifferant amusement as the destruction rained down apon Ekaterina's Refuge. As all this occured, a

solatary Ducial Guardsman Erected a pole. Slowly rasing a banner, the Trebesian Crest quickly came into view. "Under the authority of the Duke Atillian Trebeis of Athalon IV and Arrakis, His Emperial Majesty, Emperor Hundro Moritani- We claim this planet to be once more, under the Governance of House Trebeis." The Nokker stated into his Communicator. The Message was broadcasted all over the Planet, to the Trebesians, Bindar and Ixian Forces- And anyone else listening.

The Artillery Barrage and aerial Bombardment Continued. With over Three- Fourths of the Trebesian Airforce assaulting the Outer perimeter. The devestation was universal. Surrounding the Heavily Defended city-Entrances, nothing was left but rubble.

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As Carths went deeper into the housing labirinth, the people came out of the houses and cheered at them.

- Get your belongings ang get out of the city until this is all over or find some basement to hide in. Carth said again and again. The pople didn't seem to fear war too much. They've seen to much in the last months and war was nothing compared to that.

Carth's forces encountered several snipers that were evntually taken out. And from place to place there were fortified positions. These only made the progress slower, but the losses were quite small.

As the men approached the midle of the city it was like they descended into hell. They were getting closer to the slave pits.

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Seeing as I've already used up one joke, I'll just use the HANDY DANDY DIAGRAM this time. Not that I'm *trying* to be pedantic, but I don't like how people are just waltzing through my defences here.

[attachment deleted by Gobalopper]

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I agree with Dante here. Give him some time to reply to your landing, Dawiduh. And it's not like he doesn't have any defences. What about the I-Meks and Ekaterina's army? It isn't like there would be only a few snipers and some fortified positions to attack you, especially because Ekaterina herself is in Catrione,and I think that she would have defended herself a little better! So let him reply, at the very least, before you go assuming that you can just, as Dante said, waltz through his defences, Dawiduh. I don't know what Dante wants, so I can't speak for him, but I think he has been holding back for a bit and letting people get away with stuff that would have never happened in a real combat situation.

Just my two cents.

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They are right Dividu. You might want to do some editing mate. 

I like the Squiggly lines, Dante. :D

Message from Duke Atillian to the Emperor Moritani. (Heavily Garbled due to the Battle)

[hide]Sir, my intelligence operations ------ there are many involved. For example, the smaller houses ------- appear to be supporting ---- build up. How exactly they have managed to convince them ----- contribute so many Troops is beyond me, but it is becoming painfully obvious that ----- House ----- needs to be destroyed. Now. ------- Aid by ------- transport to -------- space forces. It's not much, but it will surely help you ------ their -------. Beware, they most certainly have ------- to wipe out any ------- from either of us. However, if we pool the Sadukar with the ------- and my Ducial Guard, we should be able to make quick work of any ------- they manage to put up. It is dreadfully important ----- you respond to ------ threat as soon as ------- possibly. I wish ------- would ------- but -------- unnessisary.

-Duke --------- thalon and Arrakis.[/hide]

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Hell, I never saw Catrione like a big bunker. LOL

Sorry, my bad  ;D

Well, I landed somewhere on the slopes near Moritas square, enforcing the Trebeis.

Anyway, I like the drawing, and the comments. They kick ass.  ;D

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Relnev knelt down, examining as best as he could the workings of the penta-shield.

"Perhaps we can go around it?" Eemins suggested.

"Walls are too thick," Aleks noted, rapping on the side of the tunnel, "and it would take too long.  Not to mention the noise."

"Agreed," Relnev said distractedly.  "I wonder..."

"Whatever our course of action, we must move swiftly." Eemins stated.  "Any word on the progress from above, Flanken?"

"Hard to get a signal down here," he replied, hitting his communicator a couple of times for good measure.  "but we don't seem to be losing, at least."

"Give me a rifle," Relnev asked suddenly.

In the space above Athalon IV, the Ixian forces were having trouble making progress within the Fortresses.  Though they had successfully commandeered one of the war satellites, the remaining three seemed to be more prepared.  Somewhat more distressingly, they had each managed to fire up their engines manually, slowly - yet inexorably, and with increasing acceleration - moving towards Athalon.

"Orbital Seppuku..." muttered the Ixian Fleet Commander.  "Start latching tow lines to those monstrosities!  Let's play tug-o-war with these Moritani toys."

"Pru-doors like this are renowned for their impenetrability," Relnev said, partially dismantling the rifle of a nearby Ixian Elite.  "and the huge amounts of power required to run them."

"What are you getting at?" Aleksandr asked.

"They make use of five adjacent, cyclically polarised cells to create a barrier so loaded with energy as to make unauthorised access nigh impossible..." Relnev continued, retrieving a blue, glowing cylinder from a pouch on his belt, and sliding it into the rifle's chamber.

"...but a direct blast from a concentrated, oppositely polarised charge, to the centre of this field..." Relnev smiled, moving backwards along the tunnel.  The rest of the forces followed him, and Relnev began to take aim.

"... equals fizzle." he finished, and fired.  The cylinder seared towards the barrier with a blue tracer, and hit its mark dead on.  The shield flashed once, brightly, and emitted a deafening crack of artificial thunder, then faded.

"What..." Flanken began, but was interrupted by Relnev.

"A charge for my Shock-Staff; Ix one, Richese nil." Relnev smiled.  "But we must hurry, it won't stay down for long, and that noise will have alerted Ekaterina to our presence here."

"Agreed," Flanken nodded.  "Move up, men!"

"We'll take the lead," Relnev said, ordering a group of Ixian Elites up front.  They began to move deeper into the mountain, towards the heart of Catrione.

There weren't enough frigates to do the job, and moving capital ships in was too risky.  Despite constant thrust away from the planet, the Fortresses' engines and gravity were impossible foes.

"We can't maintain this output for long!" shouted the captain of one of the frigates.

"Then we let one go, and focus on the other two." said the Fleet Commander.  "Group Gamma, break off and assist Groups Beta and Delta.  Evacuate that Fortress and focus your efforts on the other two!"

The frigates complied almost immediately, with the change in acceleration of the Fortress instantly evident.  Accelerating towards the atmosphere of Athalon, the Fortress began to glow a merry red.

"Did we get everyone?" asked another captain, while affixing his tow hook to one of the other artificial moons.

There was no reply for a moment, then "Half of the strike team failed to evacuate on time."

Silence fell like a blanket over all communications channels for the next few minutes, as the Ixian ships - now focusing their efforts on the two remaining Fortresses - began to win back some distance.

"Strike teams Beta and Delta, report." said the Fleet Commander.

"Beta; we've taken the control room.  Moving to reverse thrust to the engines now."

"Delta; still skirmishes in the corri-DARGH!  My shoulder!"  The sound of gunfire erupted through the com-line, silenced after a few moments.  "M-making progress.  Will have c-control soon.  MEDIC!"

"Excellent," the Fleet Commander intoned, looking towards Athalon, where the battle still raged.

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...Far to the West, where the bunker-like form of Catrione proper squatted on the horizon, a red glow slowly faded as the massive plasteel doors slid shut...

"...He took time out from a battle to write this?" The Emperor raised a skeptical eyebrow. "Atilian must be extremely confident." He tossed the message onto his desk. "And yet, for all its urgency, his communication has failed to make it precisely clear exactly what is so pressing."

"House Corrino." Valen muttered, sniffing at the letter.

"Indeed." Hundro nodded, taking another message from one of his secretaries. "Who else could he be refering to? Other than perhaps House Harkonnen, but the Baron's political standing has suffered after his defeat on Arrakis." He glanced back at the letter on his desk. "He mentioned the Sardaukar. I will have to make sure that Irulan pays attention to the right details." He rounded the desk, sitting down. "House Corrino will not attack Kaitan now. Not when the bulk of my forces are still stationed here, and a large number of Sardaukar watching them on Salusa Secundus. Even with many allies, they know precisely how formidable this planet's defences are."

"You beat them." Valen pointed out quietly.

"I avoided them." Hundro corrected. He shifted in his chair. "House Corrino does have some advantages though. They know this planet, its strengths and weaknesses. They will doubtless have contacts here. And despite the presence of Sardaukar on Salusa Secundus, their strongholds are well defended. At the moment I am dividing my forces between Kaitan and Grumman; an uncomfortable position. They also have the loyalty of many sympathetic houses, mostly old allies of House Ginaz."

"House Ginaz deserved its fate." Valen hissed with uncharacteristic venom.

"And they met it. But it seems that they have left a legacy for me to deal with." The Emperor scowled, before his expression shifted to neutral once more. "At the same time, I have some advantages that House Corrino does not. I have the Sardaukar, for a start. I have the Moritani swordmasters. I have the Imperial coffers, and I have an ironclad alliance with Athalon IV. Even Ix has been persuaded to help me. I have Irulan." He nodded to himself. "I wonder... who is it that pulls the strings in House Corrino now? Shaddam, some General, or one of the Corrino sisters?"

"The sisters." Valen stated, yawning.

"Oh? Well, it makes sense." Hundro nodded. He shifted the pile of now-signed letters and petitions to one side. "Another thing that bothers me is that Atilian has any sort of intelligence network at all. Especially on Salusa Secundus. These things are not easy to fund, and his military is already overlarge and expensive. I can only be thankful that the rebuilding and terraforming of his home will put an extremely large dent in his finances. Even with Ix's help, he might be forced to take a loan from one of the other houses. Valen, what are the five richest Great Houses at the present time?"

"Houses Moritani, Wallach, Harkonnen, Wikkheiser and Kyzyl." Valen listed obediently. "Though House Wikkheiser is almost certainly to be replaced by House Ordos in the near future."

"And House Corrino?" Hundro continued.

"Twelfth richest Great House in the Imperium, following houses Alman, Ordos, Kenric, Ophelion, Atreides and Forbino." Valen grinned, happy to be of use.

"Hmm. House Corrino possessed considerable private wealth prior to my coup." The Emperor muttered aloud, even as another secretary heaved a huge pile of letters onto his desk. He absently reached for one and glanced over it. "It doesn't take a mentat to figure out what the sisters Corrino have been doing."

"Buying a whole lot of new dresses." Valen nodded sagely.

* * *

"Someone is in the emergency tunnel." Rachael stated. "The pentashield is down."

"Ixians." Ekaterina hissed. "Well if they're coming then we'll prepare a welcome for them. Alacia! Vail!" She snapped. "Go and delay the arrival of our friends. If the force is too large, report back."

Alacia grinned morbidly, hurrying over to the loose panel in the walls of the office. Vail followed her at a lazy lope, flipping a loose salute in Ekaterina's direction as he left. His mistress did not notice, as she was already firing new orders at Rachael.

"Bring some more guards in here." She snapped. "All weapons, but especially flames. Lets see them resist liquid fire!"

* * *

"Sir." Flanken saluted in front of Aleksandr. "We were not informed of any plan of attack concerning this area. Would you brief me on the mission, sir?" Aleksandr cast a worried glance in Relnev's direction. 'And why weren't we told?' was the unspoken question.

"No time." Relnev interrupted. "But fear not commander. Your mission will become clear quite shortly."

"Enemy ahead!" The call passed back until it reached the central group of Relnev, Eemins, Aleksandr and Flanken. Even as they scrambled to give orders, a dark shape punched through the first line of Ixian defenders, making a direct line for Relnev, at the front of the core. The Chancellor slipped into a combat stance at once, holding his staff in front of his body defensively. One of the Ixians lunged out at Alacia as she sprinted past, but was knocked aside by a lightning-fast kick.

"I didn't think you meant be this shortly..." Aleks muttered as he ducked to one side.

Alacia leapt for Relnev, a black blur that was quickly deflected by a wide swipe from the charged staff. She flipped over Eemins and Flanken to land in the centre of the Trebesian guardsmen. Flanken raised his sword at once, as Alacia brought her inkvine whip around in a snapping gesture to wrap around his wrist. She twitched the whip away, and the sword fell free. Spinning on the spot, she twice kicked another guardsman who had attacked from behind.

"Aleks, is there anything you can tell us about her?" Eemins muttered.

"She's a failed Bene Gesserit Acolyte, her name is Alacia Vorbid." Aleks stuttered, as Alacia flicked the whip out again and sent two guardsmen reeling. "She's Ekaterina's best single fighter, the leader of the old Elite. She can move faster than anyone I've seen, and that whip leaves permanent scars. There are razor blades attached to various part of her armour, including her feet, and one of her tactics when surrounded is to suddenly lunge sideways into someone's face with them."

Alacia said nothing, but as she brought the whip back around for another strike she simmultaneously drew a long cutlass from a sheath on her back. Both weapons moving in a blur, one close to her body while the other snapped out to take out attackers further away, she ploughed into the main body of the Trebesians.

"Flanken, we have to hurry." Relnev told the disarmed Trebesian. "Can you take care of her on your own?"

"Don't worry about it." Flanken growled, glaring at his sword where it lay on the floor. "We'll meet you further in." He barked an order, and two of his men detached from the melee to stand next to him. "Take these two with you. Go!"

"Aye." Relnev nodded, and turned away. "Come on, hurry!" He started forward, leading the Ixians and two Trebesians further into the tunnel, while behind them a man gurgled as the first casualty of the skirmish fell. Even as the last of the Ixians passed it, the pentashield sprung back into life.

Sixty metres down the tunnel, and the air was noticably hotter and drier. Relnev called a halt, and peered back along the way they had come. He flicked a gesture at Eemins, who nodded to three men and moved to stand at the back of the group.

"That was unfortunate, though useful I admit." Relnev muttered, attaching his staff to his belt again. He turned to the two Trebesian guards. "My appologies you two, but we must go on alone." The two men exchanged confused looks.

"Sir... alone?" One of them asked. "We were ordered to-"

"Yes, yes, I know." Relnev waved a hand. "I know you have to obey orders, which is why I am very sorry about having to do this." He nodded to Eemins, who at once poked one of the guardsmen in the small of his back, discharging a large electrical shock. Another Ixian took care of the other Trebesian in the same way. Both men crumpled to the floor at once. Relnev leaned down to check pulses, and stood up satisfied.

"Move them to one side. We don't want their friends treading on them." He ordered. "Now come on, we have to move quickly now."

As the Ixian troupe moved quickly out of sight, a darker shadow detached itself from the corridor wall, and sidled up to the unconscious Trebesians.

'Hmm, an interesting turn of events.' Vail thought to himself, as he removed one of the guardsman's helmet. In a minute or two he had completely stripped one of the guards, and a further minute later stood wearing the man's armour. Leaning down, he examined the guardsman's face closely, before taking hold of his shoulders and dragged him into the deep shadow where Vail himself had been hiding earlier. Drawing the Trebesian's own sword, he slit the man's throat. Moving into the corridor, he killed the other unconscious guardsman as well.

Already wearing the face of the man he had killed, Vail hurried after the Ixians.

* * *

Above ground, the massive doors of Catrione were tight closed, guarded by variously strategically-positioned I-meks. Without anyone directly attacking them, they spent their time firing random shots into the living quarters. Cheering crowds are easy targets.

"The Trebesians have retreated!" The shout passed among the defenders, those who were not nestled within their meks. The Trebesian flight from Moritas Square gave the defenders new vigour, and they renewed their following fire.

From the few high vantage points a rare sniper or two took out some of the infantry, while the I-meks moved back into defensive positions.

"They have to pass through the Moritas Square to reach the doors." Ekaterina nodded to herself, while trying to put down a growing sense of unease at Alacia and Vail's continued absence. "It's an open space, and they'll be completely exposed. Do not engage the enemy until they reach the Square."

* * *

Though its fellows we being prevented from carrying out their final orders, Fortress 6 had finally broken free. Or it had been let go, nobody was quite sure. And in fact the entire crew was in no state to notice, being so doped up on Delkma and other Richesian drugs that they hardly noticed as their craft began to plummet toward the Northern hemisphere. They continued to dedicate their efforts to wiping out any intruders that remained on board. When they couldn't find any, they turned on each other.

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At a safe distance from Moritas square, Carth's men and the Trebeis were analysing the situation.

- Identefy the snipers, and pinpoint the exact location of the I-Meks and the static defences.

Alert the ornies, and bring front the laser tanks. I want the men scattered so they do not become too vurnerable in this open space.

After about an hour of grueling measurement from the Engeneering Troops most of the defences were "charted".

First, the laser tanks moved into the field of view and started firing at the given coordinates from a decently safe distance, while Carth's and Trebeis snipers were taking care of the enemy snipers.

Secondly, all the ornies in the area that were able to carry weapons were organised into 4 waves that attacked one after another in a fashion that enabled the fleet to attack continously for about 3 hours, until they ran out of ammo. In this time Harpoons were prepared with ropes.

Thirdly, the troops attacked as soon as the last onrie wave went over tham, advancing in the wake of the ships' shells. Though the ornies taken huge damage due to the I-meks and the static defences, they have drawn most of the fire towards them so, when they noticed the incoming attack only when the attacker were in the middle of the Moritas Square. No turning back for Carth and the Trebeis.

Carth's 10 Laser Tanks spearheaded the attack in "pack" formation, while infantry was crwoding behind them or running in "loose" formation in the square. The bombardament had taken out a considerable percentage of the defences, but what was still working started to fire hell down on the attackers.

The speed of the attack was enough to make the troops reach the wall. The wall itself was a static defence with holes made to fire down on attackers. The turrets were over-run and the I-Meks were still fought on by the laser tanks and Carth's soldiers that had RPGs.

The soldiers that reached the wall used the ground-level firing holes to their advantage by firing back at the attackers. The numbers of Bindar and Trebeis troops killed in this attack so far is not known yet, but estimated to about 2000 men. The slaughterhouse was the base of the wall, until the ground-level firing holes were ... re-used.

The infantry used the harpoons to launch and attach the ropes at the top of the wall. They started climbing, at the coving fire of the snipers that were watching for enemy infantry that would try to cut the ropes. Ekaterina's soldiers attapted to do this again and again and even succedded in cutting several ropes, but in large the attackers were making good progress.

- There must be and alternative entrence through the living area. Those blast doors are not worth the time and energy to destroy.

Carry on Barbarossa.

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Davidu, as I understand it- the Design of the entrance is something along the lines of a heavily constructed, armoured and defended "Box". There is naturally doors, these being heavily armored and (Shielded?). Essentially, there is no where for the men to climb to- unless of coarse they are particularly fond of sightseeing. This will have to be resolved. I'll post the Hand-to-Hand combat situation in the Tunnel while we figure it out.

Watching from the distance, Flanken closely observed Alacia Vorbid's movements. Looking for something to take advantage of. The woman was ridiculously adept at defending the Slower Trebesian's attacks. In the cramped hallway, the air seemed to be thick with the swords and Weapons of the Ducial Guardsmen and Vorbid. Nodding to himself, Flanken Slowly pulled off the his Heavy Armor and Helmet. They were they only reason that his men had not all been killed by the Assassin, bt they were also the reason that their attacks all fell short. Left with nothing but his PlasMail and Uniform, along with his weapons. He slowly drew his Assault Rifle, and cocked the weapon. Although the air was thick with men, in the middle was the darting Vorbid. Lining up his shot, he opened fire- emptying the Projectile Weapon's 200 round Magazine. Somehow, the damn woman seemed to turn gelatinous, dodging the path of the rounds. Most of which splattered against the ground, or Ricocheted of of the Nokker's Armor. Finally, what seemed like the last round caught the Woman in her arm. With a hiss, she dropped her whip and leaped over the group of Ducial Guardsman, using her Razor edged Boots to tear a Nokkers Throat as she passed. Flanken quickly slapped the faceplate of his shield with his free hand, and drew his Blades. The Traditional No'Kar'Ee of the Ducial Guard, and a shorter Dagger, tipped with a Neuro Toxin. The Two combatants faced each other, the rest of the Nokkers retreating back a ways down the hall, loading their Las-Rifle and Assault Weapons. The Two fighter were both deadly in their own right. Wren Flanken was a Former Sadukar, was a Ginaz Sword master and had for quite awhile, before returning to the Ducial Guard, Had himself been a notorious Assassin. Alicia seemed to relish the idea of killing such a fighter.

Flipping her Cutlass upward to catch Wren in his loosely Covered neck, Alicia charged at the Ducial Guard. Flanken, dodging low, Kicked the corpse of another Nokker under her feet. Catching the body, Vorbid tripped, did a tight roll and lunged upward, trying to pierce Flanken's shield and catch him in the Stomach. Slashing downward with his No'Kar'Ee, Wren caught her Cutlass at mid-blade. With a slew of sparks, he drew his sword downward- Knocking Alicia's Aside, Quickly taking advantage of the quick opening, he stabbed quickly at her with the Poisoned Dagger. The quick Vorbid however, quickly twisted- leaving the blade to simply skid across her Armor. Continuing her twisting spin, she lazily slashed out at his midsection. Catching the Man off guard, she penetrated the shield and her sword sunk into what she momentarily thought was flesh, until she came to the unfortunate conclusion that it was instead a pack on his belt. Flanken quickly and viciously brought the hilt of his dagger down onto the crow of the Woman's skull. Enraged and slightly disoriented, she growled and flipped her bald upward, and scored a hit. Flanken looked down absentmindedly to observe his pinky-finger fall to the ground. Dropping what seemed like an inch, he kicked upward with his Armored boot, catching the Assassin under the chin. Her jaw slammed together and she flew back. Performing a backward flip in the air, she stood and smiled. Allowing seven or eight teeth and some drops of blood to fall from her mouth. Once again charging at the Nokker, she once again went low, and swung up with her Cutlass. Once again blocking the bladed attack, he was surprised by the simultaneous Spinning Kick delivered to his side. The Blades attached to her boot did not manage to penetrate the durable Mail, but he clearly felt the shock travel through the layers of muscle and fracture a rib. Coming down on the woman with all of his strength and weight, he quickly knocked her blade out the way and pinned her to the ground. Shifting his weight, he brought his left leg down upon her knee. Everyone in the crowded hallway heard the loud Popping-crack that accompanied the move. The two grappled for a moment, and then separated. Staring at each other, covered with splattered blood and injuries large and small. Nearly simultaneously, the two rushed at each other. Slamming into one another, the two seemed to pause, the the Nokkers gathered at the end of the hall noticed the No'Kar'Ee finish sliding through Vorbid's body. The two, still holing on to each other, slowly slid to the ground. It was then that the Cutlass protruding out Flanken's back became visible. Locked in a deadly lovers embrace, the two slowly breathed their last. Flanken stared into the eyes of Vorbid with ever clouding vision, and wondered what would have happened in different circumstance. Looking at the lines of the Assassin's face, he realised that he did not hate this woman. In fact, he respected- and even felt an odd sense of love for the one that had just put in motion, his death. The other Ducial Guardsman arrived in time to watch the two sag with death, the Life leaving their embattled bodies.

OOC: I hate having to kill named Charecters.  :(

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OOC: I'm trying to get into the living quarters. There must be a way from the living quaters into the "city". I figured that it would be more effective that way than trying to cut/blow the doors open under the fire of the enemy.

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"We have a spy in our midst," Rook Ber stated simply.

"What?!" Chalice hissed angrily.

"And I know exactly who he is," the Spymaster continued. Chalice sucked in some air, trying to calm herself. It was not an easy task, however.

"Do tell." Ber threw a folder onto the fogwood table.

"Mirk Kolt, at least, that is the name that was in his documents when we drafted him," Ber said as Chalice leafed through a sheaf of papers in the folder and then started to look at the documents. "They were very cleverly forged. We only caught him when one of our new sensors picked up a very low, faint frequency. The transmission was coming from Kolt's room. He was transmitting information on our troops, the troops the we have gotten from the Minor Houses, and funds, among other things, on a channel we know to be used by the Trebesians. In fact, he was quite clever - He tried to mask the frequency." Rook Ber looked up at the ceiling. "Good thing we got those new sensors," he pondered. Only then did he notice that Chalice was shaking, even though she looked calm.

"Where...is...he...now?" She managed to spit out.

"Oh, going about his usual duties," Ber said. "We didn't detain him, as we wanted to know your orders first."

"Well," Chalice smirked evilly. "Since we probably won't get any new information from his actions, I want you to behead him."

Ber nodded, face as passive as ever. "Anything else, my lady?"

"Yes. Brand his forehead with this name..."


An image was broadcasted on all channels, to everyone and anyone who could pick it up. But most of all, to the Trebesians. It showed a head, whose face was contorted in pain and anguish, stuck on a pike, with red mountains as a backdrop. A black word was branded into his forehead:TREBEIS!


A meeting was once again under way. It was the same old entourage, but this time it would be almost exclusively Chalice who was speaking.

"My dear sisters and friends! House Trebeis, with this spy of theirs, has declared open hostility against the noble House Corrino. There is now a state of war between House Corrino and Trebeis! Ketar Rihael, I entrust the whole army and space armada of House Corrino to you. Activate the gun platforms around Salusa. Place the minefields, place more weapons on the ships. The attack will come sooner or later, it is not a matter of if. We have been forced back into defense. If we attack Arrakis, Hundro will eliminate us here. More troops are arriving from our allies, and if we play our cards correctly, we cannot lose. Halir, to you I entrust the fortification of our bases and strongholds. Booby-traps, minefileds, gun turrets, whatever! Our funds are vast, and if it comes to it, I am ready to sell off our stockpile of melange." Audible intakes of breath were heard around the room. "Silence!" Chalice said. "I am not addicted to it like my father was, adn neither are any of you, so we have no use of it. Ber, you know your task, correct?"

"Of course, mi'lady."

"Excellent. Now, you all are dismissed. I have a royal dignitary to attend to," Chalice said mockingly, then laughed. Everyone left the room. Chalice stayed for several minutes, then, too, exited.


The luxurious craft touched down lightly. The exit ramp lowered, and then the large door opened. Standing there, in full Imperial regalia, was the soon-to-be-Queen Princess Irulan Corrino.

She must've been surrounded by 50 guards.

getting jumpy, are we, Hundro? Chalice thought with a smirk. She herself had only several guards, but the Sardaukar seemed to be acutely aware that several large turrets were pointed in their direction. Irulan started walking down the ramp, and the Sardaukar walked with her. The congregation reached Chalice shortly, and the Sardaukar guards parted as Chalice and Irulan embraced. As they did so, Chalice whispered softly in Irulan's ear, "What do you wish to talk about?" They got out of the hug, and Irulan said non-chalantly, "Later. For now, let me enjoy my homeworld again."

Chalice shurgged."Very well. Shall we go? I have had a room prepared for you."

They walked in silence most of the way. As they passed the spy's impaled head, Irualn wrinkled her nose and asked, "What happened to him?"

Chalice flitted her hand, as if dismissing it as nothing important.

"Oh, he was spying. I think you know my - our attitude against spies, do you not, sister?"

Irulan nodded curtly. "Of course."

Chalice smirked. She was sure that Irulan had heard the threat.Scare her...Scare her...

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Uh, Clemenza. Who said the spy was on Salusa? No one did. The information would of come from one of the Houses Minor. Also, you forget something I said earlier:

"Atomic weapons were hidden around the planet, in strategic places. Essentially if any hostile force attempted a landing, the planet would be rendered a ball of Ash. This also allowed Atillian to force the Guild's hand a tad. They, in fear of losing the spice would not make any stops to Arrakis, Athalon (Besides the Highliner in use by the Trebesian Invasion) or any system nearby the two planets until the Trebesians were ready to put full defenses back in place. Brilliant indeed."

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Uh, Clemenza. Who said the spy was on Salusa? No one did. The information would have come from one of the Houses Minor. Also, you forget something I said earlier:

"Atomic weapons were hidden around the planet, in strategic places. Essentially if any hostile force attempted a landing, the planet would be rendered a ball of Ash. This also allowed Atillian to force the Guild's hand a tad. They, in fear of losing the spice would not make any stops to Arrakis, Athalon (Besides the Highliner in use by the Trebesian Invasion) or any system nearby the two planets until the Trebesians were ready to put full defenses back in place. Brilliant indeed."

Right, sorry. I must've missed or skipped over that part.Post editde. But, concrening the spy part, I'd like to leave it in there. I mean, nobody ever said, explicitly, that the spy was on Salusa, but then again, nobody ever said where the spy/s was/were at all. So could we assume that one spy(Since there were probably many of them) was on Salusa? I mean, I sure as hell didn't know that you were assuming that the intelligence was coming form one of the Minor Houses. Anyway, I eagerly await your reply so that we can move on with this thread. :)

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OOC: To post or not to post, that is the question. You know Barbarossa, that space travel is not impossible without the Guild, don't you?

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For all intents and purposes, it is. Also, pay more attention to the activity of threads before you post in them. This one has been inactive for a long time now.

Not that I'd complain if someone were to actually bring it back.

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Well, Beowulf. If you would like to sit in your ship for 100 years, go for it. I'll stand by the Guild, Thank-you-very-much.

I must say, however. I nearly wet myself when I saw that someone had posted in here. Naturally, I was dissapointed upon loading of the page.

If only Dragoon would post......

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I'm going to point this out, for all our benefit. It's up to Dragoon Knight or Dante to make another post, continuing the story here. I could put something up, but it would not run too well with nothing really seperating it from my last post.

So, Guys. Please, PLEASE POST!

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