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Sunset: Then, Now, Tomorrow (Nation Maintenance)

Where nations come together and discuss matters of varying degrees of importance. [In character]

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Sunset
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Postby Sunset » Sun Sep 08, 2019 3:43 pm

Korff Ice Rise, Antarctica, Earth, Sol System... Not More Than An Hour Later...


Adventurer's Axiom: It is always the last thing you expected to find.


Their search for the right spot to begin had been aided by both modern instruments and a little old fashioned luck. Taking a lazy circuit around the continent on little more than a bunch, the expedition's shuttle had nearly completed its circumference when - traveling over the tattered remnants of the Ronne Ice Shelf - the pilot had made the critical discovery; "There's some old hulks down there - seven or eight, just sitting on the bottom."

Rising from his seat and perching over the always-empty co-pilot's chair, Doctor Kraus had turned them back to describe a tepid circle over the wrecks while he studied them on whatever instruments were not blocked by the pilot's obnoxiously large dǒulì. Without knowing a thing about German pre-War, post-War, or naval architecture in general, his mind was immediately made up; "That's them!"

Tracing his fingers across a map the pilot replied in an accent as fake as his hat was real, "Then they had to have come ashore here. Koff Ice Rise. The weather - they'd want to find shelter as soon as possible!"

That made sense and it sounded vaguely German so the scientist went with it, "Okay. Take us there - nice and slow - and then we'll do a pass down these mountains," he pointed past the man to a long tentacle that rose out of the snow and ice to eventually drop into the ocean.

"You got it, Boss!"

'Slow' apparently translated to 'fast' as he put his foot nearly through the floor, the shuttle skipping off like a shot just above the cresting waves. Soon they were over ice and this flashed by as a solid sheet of rippling blue and white as the distant peaks appeared. Putting his head past the divider, Kraus ordered a general watch be held before returning to his own observation through the false window of the craft's forward screen.

"A cave - maybe a carved tunnel," he speculated aloud, looking for something that stood out against the meanderings of the rock-and-snow studded cliffs. "You'd think they'd have put some banners out..."

Which would have long ago been torn to shreds by the land's icy talons.

"...just for some color. Cheer the place up a bit. I mean, sure - Nazis - but that doesn't mean they were boring and serious all the time, right?"

"How about a natural depression in the mountains carved out into a massive amphitheater capable of seating thousands with an enormous swastika cut into the plaza and facing a huge pair of blast doors set into the mountain flanked by pill boxes?"

"That would be neat too... Oh," Fredrick had followed the pilot's hand to where a finger pointed to an image of the same. "Where's that? I don't," he scanned the screen again but came up with nothing. "Nope, don't see it."

"Just below the Vinson Massif," the pilot answered, casually drawing his employer's attention back to the map and covering the words 'Google Earth' at the lower corner of the screen with an elbow. "I'll have us there in two minutes!"

Beside him Kraus stepped back into the passenger compartment, "Alright - everyone gear up! You heard what the..."

There was a long pause as he suddenly realized he hadn't ever actually seen the pilot's face. Just that large bamboo hat, the old gray pinstriped suit, and of course those curiously adorable webbed hands. A shrug and an aborted glance over his shoulder, "Ehh..."

It probably didn't matter.
Last edited by Sunset on Sun Sep 08, 2019 3:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Sunset » Mon Sep 09, 2019 6:37 pm

Practical Applications Annex, Boundary Manipulation Research Wing, CORE XIII Deep Space Station, Somewhere in the Alpha Quadrant... Republic Date 174.989...

"...alright, so - take a look at this," the engineer began, leading the lab supervisor over to a series of rings spaced out around a central platform with each seemingly unsupported by anything except the rule of cool. Each was just about a finger's width thick and the interior of each was a different color that seemed about as deep as the average clone trooper's personality. Picking up a dongle with buttons on it in the matching colors, he stood in between them on the platform.

Pressing one of the buttons the middle ring - which had been white - turned red and he thrust his hand through where it immediately emerged from the other red ring to dance and wiggle.

"You've made colored wormholes," his supervisor remarked dryly.

"No," the engineer corrected, pulling his hand back through, switching colors with a thumb, and then thrusting his hand back through and this time emerging from the green ring. "First, you couldn't do this if they were wormholes..." He put thumb to middle-fingers to throw up a horned salute. "The instant you enter the event horizon for a wormhole you go all the way through - no standing there making shadow puppets on the wall. Second, wormholes are point-to-point. Here I can specify which manifestation the object entering the send-ring will come out of. This," he gestured with the detached hand, "Is all one single boundary manipulation."

"You're sending your hand through the interface? I sense an ethical quandary here..."

"That I'm destroying my hand and re-creating it? Yeah, that would be an ethical quandary, but no - because my hand still works. Each ring is creating a direct space-time connection between them. One side," his finger poked the near-side only to emerge from the same ring his wrist was currently poking into, "of the plane to the plane on the programmed ring. I call it a 'non-adjacent transport envelope'. The useful thing is that the system solves one of the major problem with existing gate networks, our own included."

"Since wormholes are point-to-point, you either need two gates for every wormhole or a new wormhole has to be opened and closed to change the destination of a gate. Not very energy efficient. With this system, we can simply change the out-bound gate. No schedules, no changes. Just tell the gate where you want to go," he pushed the blue button and his hand fell off.

"Okay, so we're going to need to build some safeguards into the system. But before I faint from blood loss - the really cool thing is that I didn't build these gates. Well, I programmed them, but they were created by remote manipulation;" which explained in part why they were floating there with no support. "Which means we can put one up wherever we want, whatever size we want. We can also turn them off or even remove them whenever we want. It's all here," he tossed the remote to his supervisor before staggering, one hand clamping off the bleeding stump of his left hand.

"I've even got this idea where we can put the destination and relevant information on the gate planes... Advertising..."

Thump!

Meanwhile next door...

Practical Applications Annex, Alien Technology Research Wing, CORE XIII Deep Space Station, Somewhere in the Alpha Quadrant... Republic Date 174.989...

"...alright, so - check this out," the technician said, pointing towards the target chamber at the end of the range where an adequate humanoid analog stood looking blankly ahead, a pile of previous targets stacked up to one side. The 'gun' that was pointed down-range was your typical science-fiction monstrosity with all the usual coils, cables, wires, and capacitors that one might want studded across its surface. "The boss has been working on this one all week."

"What's it do?" the other tech asked casually, leaning up against the control console and taking a slathering bite out of an apple. "Make you late for work five days in a row?"

"No, jerk. Watch..." With a flare for the theatrical he began to check over the console, activating this and adjusting that as the barrel of the weapon moved up and down and pushed in and out until he was apparently satisfied. "Firing!"

A scintillating purple beam shot out of the barrel, crossed the gap in less time than it took for the second technician to glance over, and the target dummy was gone.

"Another disintegrator?"

"No," and the first stepped over to where a small table with a box on top had been connected to the weapon by thick cables. With a flourish he swept a hatch on the side open to reveal the dummy's head, its neck surrounded by a thick cable that the second recognized as a decap-o-donut.

"Huh."

"Neat, right? Some of the higher-ups were talking about this thing called a 'soul gig' - a way to remotely transfer someone's consciousness onto an ExoCortex. But they couldn't figure out how to do it without murder-copying the person. So here's the next best thing. It's a modified abduct-o-ray, except now it's a decap-o-ray. The boss is in a meeting right now - apparently they're thinking about rolling it into another system and mounting the whole thing on a tank. So they can just roll along zapping enemy troops with it."

"Nicer than blowing them up I guess..."
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Postby Sunset » Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:57 pm

Secretary-General Silaco's Office, RDF-Unconquered Sun, Chuh-Yu Orbit, Ares System... Republic Date 174.997...

"...reviews? The new year must be coming up fast," Erika remarked, her dead-pan expression hiding the reality of it all. In fact she'd been wading through the proverbial mountain of paperwork as the calendar had slowly flipped over as it headed towards that most important of dates. Elections were coming - a new composition to the Senate - as well as celebrations as Nimatojin new and old rang in the new year. The wheels of government would be spinning rapidly for the next few months until they again wound down near the middle of the year unless something particularly out-of-cycle happened, "Alright, let's see what you've got... Secretary Jin?"

The Qoyat was quick to answer, "The UBR project is proceeding rapidly. Enrollment is up to seventy-two percent and commercial adoption of the program is complete. I anticipate complete adoption by the third quarter of the new year. Once we've reached ninety percent adoption, I intend to begin increasing the UBR month-over-month at a five percent increase until one hundred and twenty five percent - starting at twenty five percent - of average required resources are reached. The program has required substantial activity from my colleagues in Education and I'm thankful for their continued assistance."

"And how has that affected our base resource capacity?"

"Wave 3 is complete and Wave 4 is proceeding. Recent out-of-range requirements have slowed Wave 4 deployment, but well within the limits to complete it by the middle of '175. Wave 5 - Nichibotsu* - has already begun despite some difficulties in the initial setup with an expected activation in the second half of the following year. One potential new project I would like to consider for the new year..."

"Yes?"

"It may be worthwhile considering an application to membership in the Galactic Commerce Corridor - the GCC. While we do not need outside trade, the effects on galactic stability are obvious. GCC membership would also be an opportunity to extend our influence as well as raise our profile - in a good way. It has often been remarked that no trade deal in the galaxy goes without some manner of insidious strings attached and I would suggest that this has something to do with our low profile - otherwise there would be a caveat for dealings with the Republic."

"That sounds like a longer conversation for another time," Erika noted. "But I'll have someone liaison with your offices to start examining the possibility. I would note that the expansion project has been going very well, in large part due to cooperation with your division. There will be nearly a dozen new worlds voting in this term's elections and the Exploration Command has laid out potential sites for thousands of new colonies if we choose to go that route. Anything else?" He shook his head and she pointed to the Kitsune, "Secretary Nyoma?"

"Mostly covered," he smiled. "We've been working closely with Secretary Jin on the UBR project preparing people for a life post-labor as well as with the Exploration Command and your office in setting up new schools and educational infrastructure on the newly included worlds in the Expansion Zone. Our other big project is the Circlets, but that is simply a question of time as their population base is - in some cases - larger than that of the pre-Circlet Republic."

"Which will be interesting, as that is doubtless going to influence the composition of the Senate - even if it is just the incoming quarter. Any head-scratchers there?"

That brought it to Secretary Noldo, who buzzed, "The system works. My division's analysis of the election results so far indicates that the majority of those with extreme political or personal views have been eliminated in the early rounds of voting. Some statistical outliers have developed from certain planets in the Expansion Zone with a noted pair taking an extreme interest in running for office. This will likely result in several new Senators from that planet, but this will not be a threat to the continuing stability of the Senate."

"Alright - Katryna?"

"I've got some big ones. Secretary Jin," she turned to the Qoyat first. "We're going to be replacing all of the transit gates. New design, new technology. Like in the past twenty-four hours. Super-Gates, they're calling them. They're going to be more efficient and faster than the existing network. There will be a project outline on your desk when you get back. There's also a heap of advancements in new weapons and defense technologies. I could go on for hours. We've also got two projects wrapping up that will make deployment of new infrastructure to the Expansion Zone worlds far faster. Power and water. Basically limitless clean versions of both. Again - specs on your desk."

"Pretty much the vast majority of the projects we're working on stem from progress in the realm of boundary manipulation. It used to be me, Doctor Brilla, Doctor Tithral - we were the only ones with the concentration of knowledge needed to make new ideas happen. But we've successfully moved from a hardware to a software model and now I've got base technicians putting out fantastic ideas. Or officers - Lieutenant Commander Huang came up with something during the incident with the Congos that's going to be rolled out to a lot of our friends and probably save a lot of lives."

"Let's see... Nichibotsu* is another one. That one and a couple others are courtesy of technology and technique sharing from our Peers. Just based on that alone, those are relationships you should be doing everything you can to strengthen, Mom. I'd love to snatch up a couple more SMBHs and shell them in too. And there's no reason to stick to our own neighborhood. Andromeda... Couple other places where they've got no idea the resources that they are leaving untapped."

"Alright - I'll do my best. What's left..." Everyone pointed to her. "Oh. Alright - the Defense Force is going to continue a strong build-up into the next year. With a certain notable exception, we're going to try to match everyone ship-for-ship. There were a lot of lessons to learn from the Qi War, even though we won, and we're putting those lessons into effect. We're also keeping a close eye on the results of the Fenvaria-Phoenixi wargames, as they simulate our preferred scalpel-over-sledgehammer engagement style. My largest near-term concern militarily is the Martian Conglomerate. While we'd win and win quickly, they are still a wild-card on the geo-political scene. I'm going to have a barbecue for the new year and it has been suggested that someone suggest to their Prime Minister that she suggest to one of her staff that they suggest that she be offered an invitation. Because that's how diplomacy works."

"Not exactly a state dinner, is it?"

"Start small. I'm guessing that I'll also be hosting representatives from our regular friends, allies, and aligned interests."

"The Macisikani..."

"Exactly. As much as I'd love to work towards a more formal alignment of interest with them... We'll see. Basically there's not a lot of the old guard left. A lot of our old friends are content to take care of their own affairs and don't venture out much if at all. Fortunately one of the remainder is the Menelmacari, but it would be nice to have that united front to face to the galaxy again. I'd like to move into closer relations with the Domain. Formalized, but again - they have a lot of existing commitments that they might be hesitant to intermingle with ours. That's the way of things, after all. Other than that, the same potential threats continue from last year but they are still potential - and not that threatening, all things considered..."
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Postby Sunset » Wed Sep 11, 2019 2:11 pm

RDF-Bar Harbor, On the Other Side of GEC-175146, Beta Quadrant... Republic Date 174.679... (Happy New Year)

"...the Phoenixi bring a wealth of experience in analyzing systems of this nature and an obsessive cultural curiosity with them, Captain Ria. It is also an opportunity for some intramural cooperation between their team and ours - I want one hundred percent sharing on this," Grand Admiral G'OgraPhi reiterated, the ArAreBee posed in the middle of her screen with the mad scramble of books, papers, charts, and props he called an office surrounding him on all sides. "Work with them in any way you can. As far as that moon goes, the experts I've consulted with are in general agreement - if they are leaving, let them leave. And leave them be. Our only concern - and this is sensitive information, Captain - is that this world-ship will be passing close to one of the super-massive black holes that the Macisikani have identified as being potentially useful for power generation. In a few thousand years. So we have time."

Ria lowered her tea cup just low enough to ask through the vapors, "What about the system itself? What's the Admiralty take on securing it?"

"I've talked to Grand Admiral Erriki. More her bailiwick than mine. She feels that we should make every reasonable effort to secure it, given the possibility that someone else will stumble across it and either get killed or come away with some secret we don't particularly want them having. I'm not sure I agree - it seems a tough but to crack..."

"I agree," she interrupted. "But our guest 597 has something of an idea there. He believes that the AI might not be expecting an outsider-insider attack. His analysis of the communications frequencies in use suggests that little has changed since the Suwen AI left its home system. He believes that with more samples we should be able to crack their encryption and penetrate their network. He doesn't think we'll be able to take control - not without physical access to the central hub - but we should be able to insert our own ship into their system as legitimate and work our way in from there."

"Bar Harbor? I don't like those risks, Captain..."

She raised her eyebrows and waved him off, "My ship? Hell no. Our ship. When the system defense ships are idle they are silent. They only start talking when something shows up on their radar. So we're going to have to get in there and get them talking. A few hit-and-run attacks. It will give us a good. chance to get the measure of their systems too. But we'll take a few out, run off with some samples, then build our own. Dress it up like our next target then jam their comms during the attack. Bring in our ghost ship and..."

"...sail it on into harbor," she continued after sufficient pause to take a sip. "597 thinks that if the system defenses were left behind to keep the attention off the AI and on this system, they aren't going to be smart enough to pick up on the switch. Course he also thinks it will take us a couple months to build the ship," she winked.

G'OgraPhi looked agitated; tense, nervous, and yet somehow excited at the proposal. 'Arousal', she suddenly realized. The ArAreBee got an erotic thrill from the idea of abduction, replacement, duplication, and probing in general. It was more than enough stimulation for the Grand Admiral to approve the plan, "It sounds like you have the bases covered, Captain. But be cautious - the last thing we need is for the whole system to be stirred up against you. Or the Domain. Given your guest has a particular impression of the time table, I'd suggest you make it a reality - that should give them time to complete their segment of operations before things get particularly dangerous..."
Last edited by Sunset on Wed Sep 11, 2019 2:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Sunset » Thu Sep 12, 2019 5:37 pm

The Same Engineer, Practical Applications Annex, Boundary Manipulation Research Wing, CORE XIII Deep Space Station, Somewhere in the Alpha Quadrant... Republic Date 175.003...

"...alright, so - take a look at this," the engineer began - again - this time focusing his supervisor's attention on the far end of the room. Which seemed suspiciously empty for a test chamber; just three walls, a bare ceiling, and an equally clean floor. "What do you see?"

"That you've made very little progress on your current project?"

The engineer's grin was almost maniac, "Nope! Try again - here, use this," he pointed to a hand scanner that was sitting on one corner of the workbench that ran along the unnumbered wall. In fact there were dozens of the devices sitting there with everything from high-end civilian models to those that could be reasonably expected to be curried, stolen, or purloined from the civilizations the Republic was in regular contact with. "Standard field issue - I have not tampered with it in any way."

His supervisor eyed it warily, turning it over and checking the back panel before turning it on to run a careful diagnostic and even going so far as to dump the operating system and restore from the remote back-up. Finally assured that there was nothing up the engineer's sleeve he pointed it at the end of the room and compared the results to the Mark I Eyeball, "Nothing. Again - you're either wasting my time or being clever or both. Should I be writing you up or should I be impressed?"

"Impressed!"

A hidden button or virtual control was pressed and a moment later there was a shimmer from the end of the hall and what had formerly been unseen was now seen - a familiar-looking pylon studded with instrumentation and mounting an emitter of some kind that was pointed at the empty space between the two.

"Okay - I'm still not sure I should be impressed. You've managed to create a hologram of the end of an empty room. A brilliant use of two weeks."

The engineer stuck a finger in the air, "Aha! But that's where you're wrong. You would have been able to see through the hologram with the hand scanner. Go ahead," he pressed the button again and the room was again empty, "Try one of the others. I have - tried them all. They can't see shit!"

"Not wanting to waste my time then, what's the gimmick?"

"Ah, well - you know the gate system I made? The Super-Gates?" he repeated proudly, well aware of the eagerness with which his previous invention was being adopted. "I was working on the interface. Look and feel. The idea was that we'd have the destination listed, some relevant information - galactic coordinates, distance between the current gate and the destination, things like that - and first I thought 'well, why not just a hologram?' Simple, right? That's what the colors were, after all. But then I remembered reading about one of the other projects. How this kid weaponized the TRIPWIRE arrays by using space-time matrix substitution. Neat, right?"

"And very useful. Get to the point, please."

"So I thought 'well, why not print the information directly on the interface? It'll take some work, but...' Turns out it didn't take a whole lot of work. Which is neat, but then I thought - 'hey, if we can alter the appearance of the interface, why not alter it in other ways?'"

"A cloaking device."

"That's right," he grinned wide, showing perhaps too many teeth. "And it's fuckin' genius. Right up until you get to sensor systems like ours, they all pretty much work by sending something out and then analyzing what happens when something bounces back. Even faster-than-light sensors, to a certain extent - they just move the emitter around. What this system does is make a very, very, very thin wall of space-time look like what I think it should look like. Right down to the energy passing through it. Electro-magnetic waves for radar? They go in, they disappear. But the light on the other side? Passes straight through. You see the wall but the convention sensor signal just picks up the wall that the emitter says they should see. There is a catch though..."

"And the catch is?"

"It uses a lot of power, even for that very small curtain of space-time. It has to be doing its substitution-trick all the time. The larger the volume, the more power. My guess is that the power-to-surface area equation is just about right for one of our corvettes to disappear. Anything larger and the power draw would be so much that they'd go dead in the water."

Unless one was directly feeding the ship power remotely - say from an encapsulated star - but that would have its own problems as that might show up on any number of sensors and systems designed to detect faster-than-light traffic. Some things were just best done small.

"The other catch is that still power. Shoot it? Hell - toss something at it? It will go right through. And conventional sensors won't work from inside or on the other side. Only our space-time matrix sensors will, so the information won't be even close to as good as having the full suite. Is it pretty awesome? Yes. Are there limits? Yes..."
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Postby Sunset » Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:38 am

RDF-Bar Harbor, On the Other Side of GEC-175146, Beta Quadrant... Republic Date 174.903... Just Over Two Months Later...

"...looks like your ride is here," Lieutenant Calloway announced, looking up from her console where the message had flashed before turning to look over her should at the main screen where the appointed patch of space was displayed. A star-shaped flash of light and there she was, though it was difficult to pick out the matte black sphere even against the starry backdrop of the universe.

Like the ship she was intended to replace, the newcomer bore all the heritage of the Suwen'AI's - as they had taken to calling the presumed former inhabitant of the system - overall design motif. The general shape was as a sphere; this was then divided up into twelve curled pentagon's with each edge meeting in a slight trench while each corner meet at a true circle with a cornered-off triangle in the center of these. Centered in each pentagon there was a bezeled ring and inside each of these was a perfect sphere tucked under the surface so only about a sixth of its surface was visible. Twelve spheres, twelve triangles - each with a purpose.

In the case of the endless legion of ships that defended the system their purpose was offensive; each truncated triangle could retract to expose the emitters for three powerful plasma accelerators while each sphere was studied with the launch cells for hundreds of missiles. Built into the bezel surrounding each sphere were the ship's drive manifolds. Combined together these allowed the design to present equal firepower on all sides as well as quickly shift that fire if a particular battery was destroyed. Against a single target the entire ship would rotate, quickly unleashing its full arsenal to produce a swarm of missiles and plasma that was undeniably awesome.

This visual design largely carried over to the various (former) rocky planets and moons as well. In some cases there were only a few scattered pentagons across the surface of the body and in some cases the sphere was missing - though with good purpose. These were now understood to be the docks and construction facilities where the ships were built with all of these situated on the system's moons. Here the whole ship could be drawn in to a repair or replenishment facility built below the surface - as had been illustrated when a defender had been tempted into unleashing its weapons on an unmanned drone. These sites also kept a number of spare vessels on hand and ready, adding a new twist to the planned infiltration.

Other sites and spheres were much, much larger. Those on planetary surfaces were assumed to be the equivalent of manufacturing centers, once responsible for turning the planet's mineral riches into whatever the Suwen'AI might need. Others of the same uniform size were thus the enormous artificial gravity generators that had served to pull and then push the AI's world-ship out of the star system and ultimately destabilize their own orbits.

Captain Ria turned to the gray-skinned man beside her, studying his smooth face carefully as she asked for perhaps the hundredth time, "Are you sure you want to do this? You can operate the entire ship remotely from here - borrow one of the ARCs when you're ready to land on the planet..."

Either way he wouldn't be going alone. The re-created ship had been upgraded with a faster-than-light drive culled from one of the scores of different varieties that the Anviltop foundry had access to. Whether it was officially secret according to the government they'd stolen it from... Well, they weren't there to object, were they? All of the other upgrades systems were of similar vintage with an eye towards - if captured, destroyed, or analyzed - there being little way to connect them either back to the Defense Force or reveal their own secrets to a potential enemy.

Which was why - unknown to 597 - the ship had taken almost exactly two months to reach them.

"I am sure. I have come to the reasonable conclusion that the Suwen'AI would have brought some of my relatives with them to serve in various capacities. They would have had a likelihood of high-level access to its networks and systems. Some of this access would likely have been based on their physiology. Therefore the best chance at a successful infiltration involves my presence. I will admit I am also intrigued by the idea that some of my kin might still be present. After all, if my numbered relatives survived to this day then there is a non-zero chance that they might as well."

"Or they took them with them," Calloway pointed out, her counter to his thoughts not intentionally harsh.

"It is a possibility," 597 admitted. "Still, I feel that my presence will lead to the highest likelyhood of success."

It was also a chance to do the very thing for which he had been constructed and - while he had not voiced this - there was a secret pleasure in the opportunity to test himself against his own creator.

"Alright. Ed and Frank are waiting for you at Shuttle Two. They'll ferry you over..." Ria stood and put out her hand. "Good luck, 597. We're all counting on you..."
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Postby Sunset » Sat Sep 14, 2019 6:11 pm

The Cut of Gold, Eastern Continent, Sakaldale, The Coreward Expanse, Beta Quadrant... Republic Date 175.009...

"You sure you're ready for this?"

"...nope!" SecLyr answered, his wide face a furry grin as the Hauyht continued to methodically twist the bandages around his arm. They went from palm to wrist to nearly his elbow and if they were needed...

Well, he liked them.

They were a traditional garment from one of the various forms of Terran martial arts he'd been studying and if his performance over the past three days was any indication they were helpful - or at least inspiring. His new Cliff Runner had taken him through the first and second round of the OSA Regionals here on Sakaldale with only a few minor cuts and bruises to show for it and if he won today it would be into the Finals on Juniper. If he could make that cut it would be proof for both his training and his 'Mech. A different type of uniform for a different type of 'Warrior and a different type of 'Mech.

Unlike the double 'stick and foot paddles used by other 'Mechs oriented towards a more push-button style of combat, the Cliff Runner's cockpit was hung with a pair of oversized gauntlets and booties. Borrowed from the force-feedback control system of power armor the galaxy over, this put the pilot in direct control of the unit's arms and legs. An extension of SecLyr's own body. It hadn't taken long at all for a creative bunny to make the leap to incorporating formal martial arts training into the regular regime and the results spoke for themselves. So much so, in fact, that a lot of the regular pilots were now working themselves through the belts.

"Hey..."

MrySue's head had disappeared from the cockpit hatch but now it appeared again, a furry patchwork of whiskered brown-and-white that he found incredibly appealing. His technician was pointing off to one side and he followed her arm through the door, making sure to put as much of her furry frontside in contact with his own as he could, "What?"

"There, you horny idiot," she shoved him forward with her body, pushing his attention towards the wide lane that ran down the center of the bay.

A woman was walking there, the center of attention though a tall blonde Human male and a pair of much smaller children trailed after them. She was not; at both a good head taller than the male and equipped with a savage-looking pair of tusks and horns, she had the fierce look of a demon with still undeniably feminine charms. All four were wearing the anachronistic clothing common to the eastern continent though the touches of finery visible from where he hung perched on the robot's backside told him it was a cut above the usual.

"...oh, rich shits come to gawk at real warriors," he said dismissively. He was just about to duck back inside when she caught his arm; "No, dummy - that's the Warlord."

The way she put the hard emphasis on the 'W' caught his attention and he studied the woman carefully. He'd heard bits and pieces about the double-career of the planet's Governor - how she'd survived a shipwreck to go on and take over mostly through force-of-arms before contact with the outside galaxy had been reestablished - but he'd been too busy on the field of battle to indulge in the details. Even with that brutal visage she didn't much look the part - she was a woman after all - and though she was big the two children lingering behind her didn't help his opinion at all, "I could take her."

MrySue's reply was flat, "Really."

"Really," he answered with a shrug, watching as the group disappeared from view. "She's big, but that's not always an advantage. I could take her."

"You know she defeated that big slab of beef she calls 'Husband' in single combat? That's how she took him to bed and his clan as allies. She killed a hundred men at the Battle of... Something."

"So?"

"She fought a dragon," she objected again and he was just about ready to dismiss the accomplishment again when a harsh voice from far too close just about made him jump out of his skin; "And I survived three assassins to return with their heads on a rope!"

He turned to look down and there she was, grinning up at him through a mouth full of tusks and incisors. She was clinging casually to an inconvenient handhold on one of his 'Mech's legs with a large - and now he saw bluntly taloned - hand. The blonde-haired man was standing at the foot of the regular boarding ladder looking up at them, his hard face all muscles and jawline. He was also taller than he'd first guessed, putting the Warlord in yet another size catagory larger as well.

She was also quiet - too quiet.

And magnanimous, it seemed as she put a hand out to him, "Champion SecLyr. I've been watching your work. You're an excellent fighter - I'd be pleased to have you in my war band if it ever came down to it."

It took a subtle shove from MrySue beside him to get his mouth working again, "Thank you." He took her hand though it was she who did the shaking, "You pilot? I mean - you pilot a 'Mech?"

"No," and she released his hand to take the handhold close to him before swinging herself around the two in an easy motion before poking her head into the cockpit from her new porch behind the two, "but I've considered designing my own. Before I conquered half the planet I was an Engineer. Enter the tournament - or offer up the Governor and her 'Mech up as a prize bout to the winner. But so far Agmar has talked me out of it..."

"Or I'll commission my own and enter myself," a surprisingly jovial voice added from below. "Take you for a proper prize this time."

"Or that..."
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Sunset
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Postby Sunset » Sun Sep 15, 2019 4:34 pm

Military Applications Annex, Special Projects Applied Research Facility, CORE IX Deep Space Station, Near the UIK, Beta Quadrant... Republic Date 175.013...

"...in a couple billion years an archaeologist is going to stumble across this and drive themselves nuts trying to figure out how it all worked," Doctor Muyskens laughed as he stepped through the door, the lights inside slowly ramping from a near-pitch black to a comfortable level of mid-morning daylight. Even though it sat just off a regular-looking hallway in a regular-looking portion of the station - thus laid out like an office complex in any city on any world - the interior of the room looked like it would be more at home in the bowels of some great spaceship. Except, of course, that CORE IX was a spaceship of sorts - abet a very, very slow one.

From the doorway-slash-hatchway, the room opened up into a bay of sorts with an open area around the hatch and then two sections of consoles and storage behind half-walls, both arranged so that they faced each other and the singular object that dominated the rest of the over-sized room. Dominated might not have been the best word; a fat rectangle with a raised edge set with warning stripes and yellow pulsers, it looked more like the raised edge of some cargo platform than the entire reason the space existed and the ultimate reason why the Doctor was trailed by a handful of interested parties.

"Let's just walk through the entire sequence," he decided, tucking his flippers behind him and adopting the posture of a seasoned lecturer. It didn't help that the Blishi'i had adopted a pair of Terran spectacles as his personal trademark which were then perched oddly atop the adhesive appliance that allowed the aquatic alien to speak to his air-breathing fellows. "Because I can and because I spent a good amount of time going over it on my morning walk. So..."

"It starts with a star that has been surrounded in a local manipulated boundary interface. Various energies from that star are converted by that boundary manipulation into both energy and matter - a ship. As part of that process some of that energy, the vast majority in fact, is converted into non-baryonic matter and stored for later use. Dark matter, if you prefer the term. This is useful in that if the storage interface is somehow destroyed - which is the ship itself - there will not be the unfortunate side effect of a lot of interactive matter or energy running all over the place and causing havoc. Now, that NBM is there for use by the ship's systems, converted into regular energy by the boundary interface. Electricity. Keeps the lights on and the refrigerator running."

"Now, there is a lot of NBM available. A thousand times the mass of the ship. That is a lot of spare capacity and capacity that we can then use in various ways. Thesis," he pronounced the name carefully and the distinct image of a woman with Grecian features appeared over the rectangle, her hands clasped in front of her while an attractive but antique robe flowed off her shoulders and down to float around her ankles.

"Ready, Doctor Muyskens..."

"Thesis was the Greek goddess of creation," he explained. "A suggestion from one of my subordinates and a unique enough name to make casual accidental activation quite unlikely - as well as quite apropos. Thesis," he called again, turning to face her directly. "Create a cube of pure silver exactly ten centimeters on a side."

There was a blur and just inside the nearest border of the rectangle the requested cube appeared and he bent to pick it up, "A little warm - it is still aligning to the Prime and there will be a trace of Hawking radiation as it does so. But here you are," he tossed it to the nearest pair of idle hands. "A use for all that extra energy."

"What else can it do?"

"Hungry? Thesis - create a turkey sandwich. On a plate this time."

There was another buzz and he picked up both the plate and the sandwich and offered it to the asker, "Now before you ask, there are security precautions in place. The first is that while I'm verbalizing the instructions to Thesis, these are being supplied by this body and then promptly ignored. The reason instructions are based on a side-channel intercept of the communications from my ExoCortex, which is located in the high-security sub-manipulation of the government sub-manipulation inside of the Eien. Thus the only way to communicate with Thesis is from inside the Eien and further inside the government sub-manipulation. She would simply not respond to the average citizen who resides in the Eien or to anyone who can only attempt conversation in the Prime. Similarly the instructions to the NBM boundary sub-system are only passed through the Eien - effectively they come from the inside only."

"Thus the inevitable and complete frustration were some future archaeologist to stumble across one of these," he gestured to the rectangle.

"Can you make a weapon?"

"Yes. But they cannot create another boundary manipulation. That's purposeful - again, to prevent the technology from falling into unsuitable hands. Thesis, create a Typhoon tank."

A moment later the rectangle and most of the chamber was filled with the bulk of the armored destroyer and most of those present took a few steps back.

"Which is just about the last thing this particular interface will create. They can't be reloaded - another security feature - and will only be available in the field on ships assigned to particular Admirals and above for the time being. Once all the security concerns are satisfied they will also be made available as part of colonization efforts and to ease adoption of the UBR. With a boundary manipulation erected around the local star and converting the useless spectrum to NBM, they will be able to greatly ease both the establishment of new settlements and the supply of those current..."
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