Luma Ambrosia

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Flight Commander Luma Ambrosia

Summary

Flight Commander Luma Ambrosia was an ace Strike Suit pilot during the Scarves Rebellion era and just prior. She was the primary pilot for prototype Strike Suits, and was stationed on the Carrier Tanager. During attempts to put down several rising rebellions near the fringe, possibly beginning with the unconfirmed death of Admiral Farah, she mutinied along with the ships under her command and proceeded to attempt to kill as many Prospectors as possible, succeeding in defeating four before being killed in Prospera by The Council and two battleships. Her rebellion and death led to the creation of the rebel group the Scarves, as well as became the cause of the majority of rebellions and civil wars in modern times.

Background

Ambrosia was born in Valentine on Prospera in the standard year 1471RE, though at a very early age moved to Prospita with her family, where she grew up. With bright blue eyes and dark straight hair, she was the exact image of a Valentinian, and thus rarely totally fit in amongst Prosperan primary schools despite the Republic's fairly forward-thinking social environment- being different was different, especially to schoolchildren no matter how many rights you had with it. She tended to keep to herself growing up, particularly since her father was an Army officer of National Defense and was continually moving around Prospera to new stations and uprooting wherever they were living on a yearly basis.

Despite all this, she was very bright and motivated, though seemed to fall behind socially until her mid teen years when she matured and her general good-looks tended to earn her more of a punk reputation, since even with the new attention she was still stuck to her more reserved personality that wasn't very personable. Graduating second of her class early, she started college ahead of the curve and with applied credits already, but an incident that happened during her first months at university.

At the end of her second month at university, her father was killed during a protest in the capital he was assigned to peacekeeping on. Anti-Prospector protests had flared up recently and frequently, and until recently had mostly been peaceful, but violence had begun to start especially in the highly populated urban centers of Prospera proper. The Army was designated with peacekeeping, so until riots became worse, they were tasked with calming them. Luma left college immediately, and tried to return home to Valentine to attend the funeral proceedings, but was unable to due to a mix of safety and financial concerns. Another month passed, and following a sharp decline in grades and school performance, Luma accepted a scholarship commission into the Navy.

Navy Career

Commissioning in Prospita allows one many advantageous avenues for training and assignment, so Luma understood as she joined, with incredibly high test scores and adapting quickly into a life of physical fitness and, something that would be new to her, zero gravity fitness. She was given a choice, a rare occurrence in the Prosperan Republican Navy (PRN) which generally decided for each recruit their place, between either going up the promotion chain to starship captain, to be an intelligence officer at headquarters, or to pilot strike craft. Not content to sit idly in any capacity, she began training to be a Growler pilot.

Growler pilot training began on Prospera and ended in space. After two years of initial education and acclimation to the new demands of the role, the trainee is assigned to a Carrier Fleet where they will spend another four years before being promoted. Personnel shifts happened rarely and only when two Carriers met, which was not very frequent and usually marked great events. Sub-Lieutenants act as patrol and non-combat pilots until they promote and officially get assigned to a Growler Pack. Lt. Ambrosia was assigned on a nuclear armed Growler in the third wing, first squadron aboard the Carrier Tanager. (Designation G-3-1-X, or G31X)

The next year or so, at age 24, saw her ascent to fame and popularity among the Tanager's crew, and especially from her command. Before long nearly the whole crew knew of her, whether it was from strategic exercises, crew events, and even at the Navy balls she tended to make a very positive impact on other guests. However, age requirements kept her from promoting, as past incidents where someone much too young gained a command led to unfortunate consequences, and it wasn't until she was 26 that she finally was given the rank of Flight Commander, and offered to change assignments to take the recently vacated Strike Suit pilot position available on the Carrier. What would really change her for the future, however, was Maalik taking an interest in the woman and her fate.

Maalik was continually improving on her Strike Suit design, though there was no particular need for it, or for the power they possessed. Maalik's idea, though flawed, was to have a quick reaction force capable of independent action so the Prospectors could act less on a personal level. However, the idea fundamentally meant there was a fear in Maalik and the other Prospectors that such a reaction may be needed under curt circumstances. Maalik's latent interest in Ambrosia, something that was a rare occurrence among Prospector interest in mortals, led to her recruiting Ambrosia for her prototype pilot program, where Ambrosia would be lifted to status of Strike Suit Ace in return for piloting the most cutting edge, and potentially dangerous, new Strike Suit designs. The first of these, and the most famous, was Strike Suit Shamhat, named after a large freshwater lake near the capital of Makhia.

Shamhat

Behind the scenes, tensions had been rising dramatically on Prospera and in the high command. There was widespread belief that the Prospectors simply were not good for the Republic any more, and their contributions had slowed down to a crawl, with any further advancements or discoveries being limited or restricted and leading to a feeling of claustrophobia within their own sphere of influence. Many people and representatives had recently voted in a majority senate which favored autonomy, and the Prospector-aligned loyalists had declined in popularity, with the few strongly aligned locations being those that Prospectors were still physically present in. Izrael, Maalik, and sometimes Sizouse, with the advent of Shamhat and its requirements in testing, spent a great deal of their time aboard the Tanager and with Ambrosia, calibrating the arcane, esoteric equipment and engineering to specifically fit her strengths and to cover her weaknesses. Testing and production had been going well until 1494, when terrorists bombed a key agricultural center for the Core, and resulting in widespread famine and hunger amidst a society that had generally done away with such basic needs. Food and nutrition was, until then after the reforms, considered a basic right, and rationing was a very uncommon event and unfamiliar to the general population. Unrest followed the creation of these restrictions as people panicked and didn't know how to proceed into much tighter times.

Initial riots and armed rebels began to organize and eventually loot wealthy areas in the core worlds, and it was in this environment that Ambrosia was deployed in her first truly combat-oriented assignment. Given she was piloting possibly the most powerful single machine in the entire Republic, if not the known universe, her missions were to strike specific places, very quickly, and with excessive force.

Remembering the death of her father at the hands of similar dissidents, Luma was generally cold and effective on her missions. However, several weeks in, doubt and regret started to set in to most of the primary actors on the loyalist side, as most battles were won effortlessly and with too much collateral. After questioning her chain of command, the question finally reached Maalik, who simply stated that missions were not, in fact, for suppressing any rebellion, but primarily for testing and evaluation of the new Strike Suit, and she needed to focus on that, and not what she was doing as part of any conflict. Maalik had greatly misjudged Luma's willingness to follow her orders without question, and this new revelation completely shattered Luma's motivation, dedication, and what would most shatter the Republic in the years following, her loyalty.

Luma's Scarf

Ambrosia had since become a figurehead of the Navy. Many Strike Suit pilots entered legend and folklore as heroes for the youth, making appearances in movies, games, books, and all other sorts of media. These pilots were seen as a great rolemodel for Prosperans, having love of country, loyalty to Prospectors, complete discipline and with matching intelligence and skill. Luma's trademark feature was her scarf, something she wore during sorties, and while not technically within regulations, was not particularly something anyone cared to enforce, especially regarding her.

The scarf was a simple piece of black and white checkered cloth, worn around her neck, over her flight or pressure suit, and over her training and many sorties had become fairly ragged and torn. Such monikers as "The Scarfed Ace" made her famous among the population even as she began to act aggressively against civilians at the turn of the Third Rebellion era, though officially the rebellion does not start until Luma herself defects. The origin of the scarf itself is a mystery; some stories claim it was her father's, while others say it was a gift from a suitor. The truth of the scarf was never completely understood.

Tanager Mobilized

A lot changed in 1497RE. Revolts and riots began to happen at a frequency and size that the ordinary Navy and Marine forces could not mobilize or respond in time to minimize collateral. Still assigned to the Tanager, Luma was headed from the Core to the fringe worlds of the Republic, specifically to Sector G, which was only partially developed, but moreso than its neighboring Sector K. The Tanager was headed for Ceres, but had stopped near the Core to pick up Cassie, one of the recent ascended Prospectors. While Cassie was an unrivaled warp theorist, she was a lackluster leader, and that became very clear soon after she boarded. Demands, inconsistent orders, all these things were very unbecoming of the original Prospectors, who held their image in very high regard as state leaders and, in some instances, gods.

Frustrated by their lack of drive since the rebellion thus far had mostly caused regretful feelings among the crew, she attempted to reform the ship's organization, but was veto'd by both the Navigator, Nori, and the Captain, Farah. This was, in fact, the very first instance of this veto power actually being utilized; it had been formalized after the end of the first rebellion, as a counterpoint to continued Prospector control, some countermeasures had been added to at the very least forestall any new unreasonable demands. Infuriated, but beaten, Cassie quiet down for the remainder of the trip.

Ceres

After several minor skirmishes on the way to Sector G which were generally uneventful, the ship arrived at Ceres which was in the midst of a complete coup, already finalized and a new constitution had been drafted. Cassie had been ordered to retake the world, but- in a classical case of deception from Izrael and Maalik, she was not told exactly how to. Taking it upon herself, she began to plan a bombardment and landing near the capital, but the bombardment would strike several key civilian centers, as several airfields and launch platforms had to be disabled before landing ships could be sortied.

Cassie then ordered Ambrosia, who had been promoted to Flight Commander earlier the previous year, to strike those targets and quickly disarm them after a short orbital bombardment. Armed with the knowledge of the target's locations, and Maalik's explanation of unavoidable collateral when using Shamhat, Ambrosia refused. Having already geared up and sitting idle in orbit around Ceres, she explained that she would not kill any more innocent people, and she was done fighting her own kin, other Prosperans. Even after Cassie explained they were traitors, insubordinate, etc, Ambrosia still refused, and this refusal spread through the other officers like wildfire. That simple, determined no and radio silence, began to seriously degrade Cassie's authority and control over the situation. Ships began to defect, putting down their weapons and declaring intentions to negotiate or give themselves up in return for an end to the excursion.

Cassie, completely irate over these problems, shouted for Admiral Farah to fire on Ambrosia, who also refused. The Admiral of a Carrier Fleet refusing made Cassie completely snap, and she injured Farah and went to the main hangars to suit up in her own Prospector Strike Suit, a recently made suit by Maalik for the journey, so she could fulfill her orders without any help. As she launched and attempted to make her way to the surface, however, Ambrosia stopped her cold, and explained simply that if Cassie wanted to hurt any of her countrymen, she would have to kill her first. This resolve was enough to make the Prospector hesitate, and shortly after, Cassie engaged Ambrosia and began the fight.

Such a fight was unprecedented. Prospectors had play-fought before; that was not new. However, Maalik's SS Shamhat was something very unique, and not something any Prospector had even tried to fight. Maalik had minimal experience with this, but had the most out of any of the Prospectors, though neglected to share any discoveries she made. While other Strike Suits were mundane and simply very advanced aircraft, Shamhat was something new, that also contained an internal Frisian engine, and produced a Frisian Field and all the accompanying benefits of such. Thus, when Cassie's first strike failed to cripple Shamhat, she was, to say the least, completely baffled and stunned. The resulting continued fight was for both their lives, and such a fight occurring led the remaining Navy vessels to quickly attempt to evacuate as many people as they could off the planet, since a Prospector in a fight was bound to have heavy collateral to anything nearby. Only part of that evacuation was complete when the fight was taken to the surface, entire city blocks and hills being leveled as each of them tested the full extent of their power.

After four hours of straight fighting, Cassie finally fell, her Strike Suit sliced in two at the torso, into the sea of Ceres. Ambrosia, exhausted, returned to the Tanager and collapsed, Shamhat gravely damaged but herself mostly intact. The mood aboard the Navy ships was somber; they knew history was happening here, and nothing after this day would be quite the same. The planet was completely, and irreparably, destroyed; before long chlorine would take over most of the atmosphere, and evacuations were completely underway but stalled due to the fight. While many survivors would move on to eventually found New Ceres, a great majority of those living on Ceres perished in the fight, and as such the errant Navy did not celebrate their victory over Cassie.

The Journey Home

Faster than light communications were developed before the Prospectors, but perfected by them. Such communications were done via ansible, which, much like how FTL travel is done, sends the radio or infrared signal through Frisian space, folding it at the "seam", and then deposits it near its destination. While it is much faster than travel since waves have no mass and ships or craft do, it is still not completely instantaneous. It would ordinarily take a small freighter about 2 to 3 weeks to travel from Ceres to Prospera, not counting stops, rest, refueling, etc. A signal would take approximately three to four days.

However, given the widespread mutiny occurring, there were no available ansibles (as such technology is reserved for very advanced battleships), and a small frisian craft was tasked to send the news of the fight, with recordings and video, to Prospera for Jibrail and Izrael to see firsthand.