NATION

PASSWORD

Mercy Does Not Go Unpunished [Mars]

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

Advertisement

Remove ads

User avatar
Roania
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1797
Founded: Antiquity
Ex-Nation

Postby Roania » Wed Apr 08, 2015 11:43 am

What was needed was done, and the unfortunate Keiri quietly taken and put in a quiet bed somewhere away from sources of news. It was just as well, as she was now surplus to requirements.

Nesar took a deep breath, running his fingers back through his hair as he considered the situation. There was little he could do... he couldn't keep Arielle and Alakantar under observation all the time; they hadn't wanted that, and his resources didn't stretch to the point where he would do so without their permission. And yet,perhaps there had been something he could do. He had been reached out to. Perhaps Naiya remembered his deal with Alakantar, perhaps she just wanted his mind on the scene... perhaps she believed he was responsible. Too much data; not enough time to process it.

The man of no certain occupation produced a cigarette from somewhere, and lit it with a snap of his fingers. A filthy habit, he knew, but one he'd engaged in for far too long. "A shame. I had rather liked Alakantar." He threw the cigarette into the cold waters of the polar ocean and drew out his communicator, flipping through frequencies and security protocols like the old hand he was. "Dominion Mars, this is Nesar." Yes, there were plenty of Nesars out there in the empire. But there was only one Nesar. No further introduction seemed necessary. "Your delightful Imperatrice bade me to Mars, but I find my government has proven as useless as it traditionally is and there seems to be no direct contact between our... governor here and the Grummians at this point. Please put me in touch with the Lady Nathicana, who I understand is running things over there for the time being."

He walked to the edge of the pier, staring into the deep blue water. For the first time in a very, very long time, he had no control over the situation. No direct knowledge. No understanding. And he doubted the Grummians would be willing to help. Well, that was of no mind. He had his own warrant, his own abilities...
Ten Thousand Years to the Lord and Lady of Ten Thousand Years!

User avatar
Northrop-Grumman
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1619
Founded: Dec 28, 2003
Benevolent Dictatorship

Postby Northrop-Grumman » Tue Apr 28, 2015 5:00 pm

While indeed generously provided, Nathicana’s clothes were not the sort that Siri would’ve ever considered wearing in her life. She uneasily glided her fingers across the open neckline and stroked at her bare skin, feeling a scar at her collarbone. Then there was the skirt. She couldn’t recall the last time her legs were this exposed or when she had ever worn such a garment. If she opted for something other than pants, a floor-length dress would be tolerable, but even then, she remained fairly clothed underneath to where she had the option to rip off the fanciness in an instant, if need be. Her legs appeared much paler than the rest of her and certainly had their fair share of scarring too. And finally, her feet were exposed too – gone were her usual heavy boots – and now she had to suffer though the discomfort of fancy sandals. She doubted that she could run in the damned things if she needed to.

There was a moment’s temptation where she considered hand-washing her regular clothes, if only to feel the comforting embrace of having just about every inch covered, her protective shell. But that would come off as an insult, first of all, and besides, she had no hopes of ever getting them suitably cleaned and dried any time soon. With no ideal options available, she would have to suffer through this annoyance, hoping that nothing would happen to where she would need to be more appropriately attired. She huffed in aggravation, tied her hair back into a ponytail, dug around for her makeup kit, and started doing her best to cover up her scars before going out in public.



The hospital cafeteria rumbled with the low chatters of its inhabitant’s conversations, punctuated by metal utensils clacking against plastic plates. Siri maintained her distance from everyone, seated at the far end of the room with her back almost against the wall. She poked her fork warily at the rib patty sitting squarely in a puddle of barbeque sauce. Could it even be called a rib? the elf considered. There were no bones and the meat looked like nothing more than shaped ground beef. At least the generous helping of mixed vegetables looked somewhat natural and certainly smelled better. Frowning, she forced herself into eating, despite feeling not the slightest bit hungry, but she knew that she had to have some nourishment to maintain her strength. Thankfully, though, no one wanted to bother her and left her in peace.

She chose this opportunity to handle a particular matter, one that she could not foist off onto Nathicana or anyone else, and produced a phone from her pocket. With one hand, she speed dialed back to the routing center where her call was directed to the appropriate destination. It was definitely long distance – directed to a location out of country and even off the planet. And while it took a few moments to connect, she quietly munched on some green beans.

“Good…” She scanned the room for a split second in search of a clock, forgetting about the one in the phone’s screen, but soon realized she had left a long silence on her end and just muttered, “…afternoon, I suppose. As you undoubtedly have figured, this is Chairwoman O’Neill of Northrop-Grumman.” She inwardly groaned at her sloppiness and picked at piece of ‘rib’.

“This is not entirely unexpected, Chairwoman,” a deep, feminine voice replied from the opposite end of the line. “I know that this is an extremely trying time for you. How may I be of service?”

The elf was rarely ever the one requesting help from anyone else, much less from someone who was a stranger to her. The fact that she was at this point aggravated her to no end. She closed her eyes and paused yet again, carefully considering her words before she answered. “Nathicana has recommended your services for my son’s…condition, and I know in the past that he too has lauded your abilities.” Siri sighed. “I’m…requesting…asking you for your…help… if you could come here to see what you can do for him.”

“This is certainly within my capabilities. I recognize that there are certain sensitivities amongst your citizens that must be considered. I can come as I am, or in an avatar less likely to cause undue concern or inappropriate comment… although when I say it like that, it seems there is hardly a competition between the options. Nevertheless, I still leave the option to you as to how overt my assistance should be.”

“You are correct; the latter option-“ The particular working was deliberate, as one did not know who all could be eavesdropping on the conversation “-would be the better alternative, I feel. As for transportation and other issues, I can make all the necessary arrangements.” She collected her thoughts for a second and continued, “I know this may be hard to understand, but I just ask that the option…going through with it…be left up to him.”

“That is a given,” the voice on the other end said with a hint of wry humor. “I do have some sense of professional ethics, after a fashion. As I have done before I will diagnose, analyze, and present options. The rest will, as you said, be left up to him.”

Siri hadn’t the presence of mind to catch the humor; exhaustion dulled her senses and she mainly wanted to get everything hammered out right here and right now, including the one last sticking point that could derail anything like this. “Thank you. I suppose the question that remains is: what do you want in return?”

“I tend not to charge for these sorts of services. Your appreciation will be payment enough.”

“Oh.” Now that startled her; she’d expected to have to give something up, whether money, access, or god-only-knows what else. “Thank you, yet again, then.” She didn’t really know what else to say.

“I do have an appropriate asset within the Timperium which can be called in as a medical specialist. My--that is to say, ‘his’--legend should be sufficient to forestall any connection being made based on any reasonable level of investigation. I will provide his details in a secure packet transmitted to your current device; from that, I leave the matter of handling transportation and ‘hiring’ up to you. Depending on my diagnosis, the severity of the treatments required, and your son’s choices, we may have to transfer your son to a medical facility under my control. If that is indeed how the situation evolves, will that be acceptable?”

Mentally jotting notes down, she considered what she needed to do to pull this off successfully and believed that it shouldn’t be too terribly difficult. The Grummians did not have the capabilities many others had in such repairs or replacements, so it wasn’t unheard of to pull in outside specialists. However, shipping Alak abroad might raise a few eyebrows, depending on how openly it was done and how it was sold. “I personally do not have a problem with it, but others might. But if this is what it takes to do it right, then I’ll deal with the consequences myself.”

User avatar
Oyada
Envoy
 
Posts: 218
Founded: May 13, 2008
Father Knows Best State

Postby Oyada » Fri May 22, 2015 1:09 pm

The Smoker returned to his quarters, his mind occupied. By the flickering glow of a purloined monitor, he checked on his small command; so far, everything was holding together, but Pearson – the instrument of their work – was the most likely weak link. He had known that from the day they had met, and had incorporated it into his plan, a wheel within the greater wheels that now spun remorselessly along their course. The wheels would grind along, and would grind anything in their way to pieces. The Smoker had seen to that. Oh yes, he had seen to it. 'Sarah' would see to anything that he had missed. The Smoker allowed himself a mirthless smile, and picked up the phone.



Her name was Alexandra, but you only called her that if you wanted to lose a tooth; she was Alex to everyone who knew her, and that was how she made certain it was. She was forty-two, engaged in secretarial work that was well below her intelligence, and bored senseless by just about everything she had to do of a day. The Corporation was, she had gradually decided, a miserable place to live and a miserable place to be stuck; she had no desire to be here, among the soulless, mirror-eyed edifices of Mars, staring blindly toward the red horizon, marching remorselessly across its once unspoilt plains. Mars had Olympus Mons, an edifice that made mere pimples of earth's mightiest peaks, but she had never seen it in the ten years she'd been on Mars. Ten years of stabbing buttons and typing reports for idiots. Ten years of pretending to her friends and her family that this was what she wanted, getting blind drunk and finding a new bed to occupy every few weeks, convincing herself that she had all the time in the world to get out. Ten years that had crumbled away and left behind the stark, bleached skeleton of her best years staring, grinning gormlessly at her from the mirror, its bony fingermarks left in the bags beneath her eyes, the slow thinning of her mahogany hair, the weary purse-marks on her once supple lips that the cigarettes she craved to get through the day had merely dug all the deeper. She'd had many dreams, before the unremitting necessity of work had hammered them out of her and rolled them into tiny barbs of disappointment. She'd had ambitions, but you couldn't make money with ambitions or dreams. You had to make money if you didn't want to die in the gutter in the snows. That was the way it was.

Alex took a drag on her long black cigarette, watched the smoke drift upward as she exhaled, and smiled. Because now, she was fighting it. Fighting the system that had birthed her so it could jam her into a slot, make her into a part of a machine she'd never tried to join in the first place. She was fighting it from inside, and she didn't give a damn about the risks, because what the hell was the use in living merely to die a burnt-out husk, never to see mountains, never to breathe clear air, never to see a vista that wasn't punctuated by some ugly slab of glass and steel, if you didn't want to?

Corporate life wasn't for her; whatever she was doing now (and she wasn't at all sure what it was, exactly) was just fine. She sat back in her chair and trained the compact telescope she'd been bought by the jovial, chubby man who'd talked her into this entire business on the apartment across the courtyard – a good quarter of a mile away, perched on the corner of the lofty tower block, the lights still on as the day marched ahead. Her own lights were off, the curtains mostly drawn, the room in shadow, and she would keep it this; she could see just fine from where she was.

Lenny was pacing, backwards and forwards across the window, still naked. Alex licked her lips unconsciously; guy wasn't bad-looking. Might've been quite a catch in his day. Maybe they'd let her see if she could get anywhere with him. For professional reasons, naturally. She grinned at the image as she took another prolonged drag, letting the smoke join the little hazy cloud surrounding her seat, and wondered how many times Lenny would look her way, unseeing.

And damnit, there was the phone. She checked the time as she picked up the little device, vibrating urgently on the table, and clicked her tongue. The Smoker was always on time.
Freedom's price is liberty. The individual and his liberty are secondary to our objectives; how are we to protect our lives, our culture, our people, if they all act independently? If each man pursues his own petty aims, we are no more than tiny grains of iron in a random heap. Only by submitting to the need of the whole can any man guarantee his freedom. Only when we allow ourselves to be shaped do we become one, perfect blade. - General Jizagu Ornua, The cost of freedom for Oyada, 1956.

User avatar
Northrop-Grumman
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1619
Founded: Dec 28, 2003
Benevolent Dictatorship

Coop Poest with Nathicana

Postby Northrop-Grumman » Thu May 28, 2015 6:06 pm

Nathicana sat forward abruptly, quickly scanning Alakantar for any out of the ordinary reactions that might signal problems. It was clear there was a sense of panic, and given none of the machines were setting off alarms, and she could see no other signs, she went with that for her first action.

“Woah, hey there,” she said soothingly, squeezing his hand in a firm but gentle grip. “Take it easy, boy. You’re in a hospital, and in good hands. Your mother is nearby, and you’re surrounded by friends and family, so there’s nothing to worry about just yet, okay? Just relax. I can get the nurse if you need.”

“Hos…hospital?” he murmured weakly between groans from the burning pain, which was still coursing through his veins. He attempted to grasp at his thoughts for an explanation of why he was here. The underground hall was one place he recalled being, but he knew that wasn’t quite right. Then there was him running through the cave, fleeing the roaring fire from behind him, but while that explained the aching, he knew that wasn’t him. Beyond that was what seemed to be a dark abyss, where nothing could be found.

He breathed in slowly and deeply as he tried to calm himself, but his face contorted in confusion. “I don’t remember…”

“I can imagine a lot of things are rather blurry at the moment,” Nathi offered with more kindness than some thought possible for her. Her main concern was not letting him panic. And for now at least, not letting on to just how bad things were. She had no idea how she would deal with having to let him know all he’d lost, and not just in body. Those things, she knew from experience, could be repaired. To one degree or other. But death …

“Don’t worry for now, hm? Just lay back and relax. You’ll have plenty of time to catch up on things in the coming days. The important thing is you’re here, you’re safe, and everything is being taken care of. You’ve some friends who were here not too long ago. I’m sure they’ll be back soon, and thrilled that you’ve been awake. Save your strength, boy.”

Resting his head against the pillow, his single eye focused on the ceiling tiles above him, and he mentally latched onto them, trying to keep from focusing on those flashbacks again. The tiles were different somehow, he figured from what thoughts he managed to scrape together. Definitely not Mars, that much he knew. “Earth?” he mumbled aloud, only to find himself interrupted by a sharp pain in his non-functional eye, immediately reminding him that he couldn’t see a damned thing from it.

Still not being aware of how badly he was hurt, partly due to his limited range of sight, the drow attempted to lift his missing arm but naturally found no response at all from it, much like the rest of his body. His opposing arm did seem to work, and he reached up and felt the bandage strips clinging to the side of his head. “What happened?”

“Yes, you’re in your home country, under the care of the very best,” Nathi quietly assured him, trying not to let her own growing nervousness show. Where were the others? Surely they would show back up here soon. They would be much better at some of this …

“There was an accident of some sort, so far as we know. They’re still assessing the situation, and gathering information to see what caused it all. Really, Alak. You just need rest for now. Give yourself some time to settle. It will all be made clear in time.” The older woman very delicately reached up to the hand he was checking himself with, and wrapped hers around it, giving him a soft but reassuring squeeze. She smiled warmly, or at least tried to, not sure if this would set him off, or comfort more at the moment. She had that effect on some people, after all. If she had taken this approach with ‘Zio Timo’, as the twins called him, he’d have been suspicious from the start, and called bullshit immediately.

Thank god this wasn’t Timofeyev. And curse him all the same for allowing this to happen to such a promising, decent young man. “Your mother will have my hide if I don’t let you rest comfortably,” she continued. Is there anything I can get for you? Are you thirsty? Perhaps some ice chips … I seem to remember something about that being appropriate …”

She sounded a bit more distracted at that last as she looked around, her thoughts on a different track entirely. Her sister-in-mind, now … she could fix all of this. Put him right as rain, better than new, even. Shodey could do anything, so far as she was concerned. After the full reconstruction she’d done with Dev, after all he’d been through then? This would be child’s play, surely. Unless there was something about the physical differences in the races she was unaware of that caused complications. It’d be just like elves to complicate things - though granted, these were far from Menelmacari, and she didn’t really hold the same slight grudges that way.

“Dammit, where is that button for the nurse?” she muttered, still holding his hand gently, in spite of the mild irritation.

“Must be…somewhere around here…” His lone eye scrutinized the armrest beside him but there was nothing apparent that would indicate there was a call button there, only a dangling cable and remote to control the bed positioning. Focused more on the task at hand, instead of on her encouragement to rest and much of anything else she was saying, he turned his head to inspect the opposite one.

The drow caught the very first glimpse of the bandaged stub that remained of his amputated arm. Immediately, the beeping inside the EKG’s screen above his headboard quickened its pace as he gripped her hand tighter. “Oh…” came his quiet, shocked response as he finally realized the gravity of his condition. His eye stared at that empty spot before it began moving down the length of his body, inspecting it to see what all was – or was not – there. When he reached the bottom of the bed, he noticed that only one foot had managed to tent the bedsheet and he repeated again, even more distressed, “Oh…”

A dozen different curses leapt to mind as the realization washed over the young man. This was not how she had wanted him to find out. Granted, there was no good way for him to, but this? There was no gentle easing in, no preparing him for the shock. Once again, her methods proved unequal to the task, and again, she seemed to have worsened the situation rather than helping improve it.

“Alakantar,” she began gently, squeezing his hand in return, careful not to grip too tightly. “You have been through a great deal. But you are here, alive, and right now, that is what is important. As I said, the doctors will be able to tell you all the specifics, but later. You need to rest. You need to not … not panic.”

Nathi fumbled slightly, trying to find the right words, and again cursing at herself for her lack of skill in this area. It wasn’t like one of the children scraping a knee. A hug, a kiss on the forehead, and a bandage was not going to sort this out. The closest experience she had had been with Devon … and that had not gone well either.

“Look at me, Alak. Don’t think about all of that right now,” she began again more forcefully, trying to grab his attention, and take it off of what had happened to him, what he was missing. “It’s going to be ok.”

Anxiety bubbled up within him; the stress caused by the sudden awareness that his limbs had been removed had started to take hold. He knew that if he allowed it to persist, then the onslaught of flashbacks would return. That was the last thing he wanted to go through right now. Being burned was one thing, but experiencing whatever his ancestors had when they had lost portions of their bodies would undoubtedly be worse, especially considering how traumatic those times had been. If he was lucky, it would be something simple like an accident where a severing was hopefully quick and over with, but if he wasn’t, there was always the possibility of undergoing the experience of someone else’s torture chamber.

Fortunately, he had the presence of mind to know that he had to relax, and as Nathi had said, not to panic. “I hope so…” he shakily answered her, starting to take deep careful breaths as he tried to take his mind off of it.



Having forced herself to eat every last portion of her meal, Siri meandered her way through the hospital’s corridors, not really wanting to return to Alak’s room but at the same time wanting to stay away from such a public place. She no longer had the excuse she had before of waiting for Nathicana, or that she was unkempt, hungry, or had any other responsibilities that required her attention. Even Alak’s friends had been told, or rather ordered, out of the facility. They protested, naturally, but she had had none of it. Outwardly, her rationale insisted that they had done enough for the time being and that they should head home and get a decent rest before coming back. Inwardly, however, it was out of guilt. They’d been there with him all this while, when he came out of surgery, while she lingered outside, away from him, wallowing in her own self-pity.

Reaching the room, she carefully peeked through the door’s window to find that her son was awake and spun back around, slumping against the wall, sighing. No one would deny that him being conscious was excellent progress, but him being out cold would’ve made it easier to go in there with him, not that that had made a difference in the past though. At least she wouldn’t have had to say anything. She then cursed herself for ever thinking those selfish, terrible thoughts. Everything within her wanted him to come out of this intact, but at the same time, she hated having to confront her fears. And that she realized was her problem – everything managed to be turned around to be about her, what she had done or not done, and the guilt and shame just continued piled on and on.

Out of frustration, she turned back around, twisted the door knob slightly, and shoved it open with a bang as the latch struck the plate. She huffed and closed her eyes for a moment. Right, let’s actually turn it completely this time… And this time, she entered the room.

Nathicana looked up and over at the elven woman, her face reflecting briefly the concern and conflict she was having. She smoothed it over just as quickly however, realizing there were two people here who needed her to be calm, be a buffer of sorts for the situation.

How in the name of all the saints do I manage to get myself into these things? she asked herself idly, knowing the answer all too well. It had all started with a party in Silver Cities, what seemed an eternity ago. And for once, letting people past her protective wall of indifference, control, and invincibility.

“Siri, he’s awake, and aware. I’d say he’s doing quite well, all things considered.” Here she gave Alak’s hand another reassuring squeeze, never moving away, nor attempting to shift her hand from its supporting presence. Satisfied that the woman would understand what she meant about ‘aware’, she turned her gaze back to the stricken young man, and offered him a gentle smile, as best she could manage. “See, I told you your mother was here, and wanting to see you. I had to practically toss her into the showers myself to get her to break her vigilance.”

Nathi hoped that the light attempt at humor would help bridge the gap she realized existed. She’d know soon enough. Her phrasing was true, so far as what she’d said. The details weren’t important. Not when she felt Alakantar needed to hear that his mother had been here for him, whether he knew it or not. That she cared, in spite of their past relationship. Paired with her presence now, she hoped that it would present a good start for them both.

Clenching and releasing her fists repeatedly, Siri attempted to maintain control over her nerves as she looked upon the awake, but heavily injured, form of her son. Seeing him here, his single red eye peering back at her, distressed her. He shouldn’t have to lie there like that; she should be able to wave her hand and make everything right once more, but there was nothing that she could do to help.

To Alak, his mother appeared worn down, sleepless, and certainly filled with her fair share of worry, and in turn, he worried about her and how she was coping with all of this. He did not see her as much as he used to. With his father gone, a void formed between the two, both in their relationship and in distance. She mainly stayed in the capital city back on Earth and kept on Mars, each keeping to their own respective lives.

Finally grabbing a chair from the opposite side of the bed, the elven woman dragged it over to beside the other woman, before carefully plopping down and pressing out any wrinkles from those foreign clothes. Now, with her in the room, Alak seemed to be less worried about himself and more so about his mother.

“And…managed to get you into…a skirt, too,” was his attempt at adding to Nathi’s humor, to both lighten the mood and to keep his mind off his situation.

Siri turned the corners of her mouth up in an attempt at a smile but found that she couldn’t manage it very well. “Yes…yes, she did.” Then she paused for a moment, trying to put together what she was going to say. The conversation was difficult for her, because there was so much that she really wanted to talk about, other topics which she needed to but didn’t want to, and ones she needed to avoid at this point – all the while keeping her composure. “I am relieved to see you awake.”

The drow tensed some, thinking a little more about what all was wrong with him, and breathed deeply once again. It was incredibly easy to fall into the never-ending cycle of fretting over what he had lost. “I…could be better, but…I’m here at least…” he answered quietly, not sounding too sure of himself.

Finchè c'è vita c'è speranza,” Nathicana said firmly, then explained the old proverb. “Where there is life, there is hope. None know this better. Remember, you have friends in many places. And for some, their talents are near miraculous. Save your strength, both of you. Take comfort that you are both here, together, and that you have friends who support you.”

“And do not forget - your mother could dress herself in rags and still command the respect of everyone in the room,” she added, in a nod to both her own estimation of the elven woman, and to the light tone they had all attempted to help cover the grim situation. “Shall I leave the two of you some private space?”

There was a touch of selfishness involved, were she honest with herself - unlikely that such a thing was. But in truth, it was needed. At some point, Siri needed to be the one there for her son, not a surrogate, to prove to herself she was capable, and worthy. And no doubt, the young man needed his mother. She’d yet to meet one who didn’t, especially when things were going badly.

“Thank you,” Siri responded softly, bowing her head in appreciation for the kind remarks.

If she could have read Nathi’s mind, she would have certainly agreed – the time to use another as a crutch needed to come to an end. The other woman had helped to lift her back onto her feet, but now it was up to the elf to actually set things right and make that first step.

However, doubt remained. She still wasn’t quite confident that she could manage it, that she would be able to not make a mess of things once Nathicana’s moderating influence left. The elven woman hesitated to answer the question poised to her and her son, until Alak released the hand he was holding and reached out towards his mother, sensing that something was troubling her. Siri took a deep breath, grasping the hand in both of hers, and finally nodded to the other woman. “Yes…please…”

But before Nathi could leave, she did make one last request. “I know all you've done for me so far... but would you mind sticking around the city…for just a little while longer? I can have you set up with all the necessary accommodations.” What she wanted, she didn't allude to, but whatever it was, she felt that it was worth it to ask but hoped that it wouldn't be an imposition.

“I’ve already cleared what schedule I had,” Nathi reassured them both. “I’ll be happy to stay and help as I can. You’ve my number, call whenever you need. I’ll just check in to one of the closer hotels here, no worries whatsoever.” The diminutive former leader made sure all was well before quietly slipping out of the door, and signaling Mas to make preparations to head out.
Last edited by Northrop-Grumman on Thu May 28, 2015 6:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Northrop-Grumman
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1619
Founded: Dec 28, 2003
Benevolent Dictatorship

Postby Northrop-Grumman » Sun May 31, 2015 9:30 am

Walls of code screamed across the widescreen monitor, displaying the various modules involved in the operation of the defense turrets, segregated out into separate functions – elevation, automatic control, manual control, IFF, and several others. They were designed to allow for upgrading only individual components of the system; only the specific module needed to be replaced and not the entire codebase.

In retrospect, Tom was very grateful that he and his team had designed it in this manner, because it made searching for the root of the problem easier. He could quickly disregard irrelevant modules, such as the one controlling the different firing options, because they most likely would not have caused an issue related to aiming. So he could instead focus on the more likely culprits, which meant not having as much code to handle.

However, that did not mean he was going to read through that smaller selection line by line. No, he executed it through a software debugger on his computer, letting the program walk him through line by line as variables changed, inputs were entered, and data was exported to his other monitor. First, to rerun the live test, he operated it through automated control, which gave him the correct result.

When he set up manual control, he noticed that the inputted directions were correctly saved into their variables, but when it came time to actually realign the turret itself, different directions were being used. What made it even stranger was the correct directions were displayed to him, as it would on the control console. Even after inputting a wide variety of angles, it always pointed in the same direction.

At this point, Tom decided that it would be best to examine the code directly in the editor, since he knew about where the problem might be, judging by the results he just received. Scanning through the section line by line, he reached the point where the turret’s motors would have begun to adjust the aim, but something did not quite look right. “What is that?” he mumbled.

The variable’s name was one letter off, barely noticeable unless someone was specifically looking for it. But if that was the case, why wouldn’t the software throw an error and shut itself down? Where would it be getting these other inputs from? He traced his finger along the screen, scrolling up until he reached where the variables were declared. Oh…shit

He grabbed his phone and frantically dialed, and when he heard the greeting on the other hand, he blurted out, “Julie, we’ve got a problem…”

User avatar
Northrop-Grumman
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1619
Founded: Dec 28, 2003
Benevolent Dictatorship

Postby Northrop-Grumman » Wed Nov 11, 2015 11:27 am

Fortunately, the hospital had the foresight to anticipate that family members would wish to spend the night keeping vigil alongside their loved ones, so each private room had an armchair that could recline back to offer its occupant a decent place to rest. Siri had gladly taken this presented opportunity and had finally managed to drift off into a restful sleep for a few hours, before her phone vibrated wildly once more, waking her up.

Releasing a pained sigh, she answered it softly in the darkness. “Yes?...Who?...Have you verified his credentials?...alright, fine, send him up…”

The elf snapped the chair’s back into its original upright position and groaned tiredly as she rose back up onto her feet. She peered sadly over towards her son. He had been in and out of restless sleep for a good portion of the past day as the anesthesia’s after-effects still wore him down. He had not been able to have extended conversations with his mother, but what was there had been very basic, and thankfully he wasn’t quite able to put more thought into his situation.

Eyes bloodshot, Siri trudged out into the hallway to meet the man who so urgently needed to see her at this hour. She was approached by a much taller, older-appearing gentleman, who mirrored the same deadpan expression that she held.

“Madam Chairwoman,” he stated, bowing his head politely, noting that his superior did not respond in kind and simply kept her arms folded across her chest. “Matthew Clauden, NIO.” He flashed a badge and picture ID from the overcoat’s breast pocket, showing that he was an agent from the Grummian national-level investigative organization. “Do you have a moment? Somewhere private?”

She silently gestured down to the corridor, instructing him to follow her, and led him into the secluded communications rooms that she had been in to call Nathicana. Once in there, Clauden retrieved a small datapad from his other breast pocket, turned it on, and handed the device over to her.

“The Corporation’s research arm has completed the preliminary investigation into the Valacircan event and have found that the turret’s programming was deliberately manipulated to cause that particular outcome,” he began, essentially summarizing everything contained on the datapad.

“The NIO has taken over due to the national security implications. We are now reviewing access logs to determine who may have been involved to compile a list of those we wish to investigate further and interview. However, our intent is to maintain secrecy about our results until we have a better idea of the suspects. The last thing we wish is to spook them into hiding.”

Siri’s fingers scrolled down the data being displayed to her. “Deliberate?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Her grip tightened around the device, causing barely perceptible cracking sounds from the frame, and she clenched her teeth together, trying to keep a handle upon her rising anger. “Find out who did this. Use whatever resourced you need and tell me everything that you find. I don’t care how you do it. Find. Out. Who. Did. This.”



Not terribly long afterwards, completely disregarding the time of night, a transmission directed itself to the Scolopendran commander currently coordinating rescue operations. This time it had not originated from the command center in Valacirca or from the Grummian ship also docked there, but instead from the Grummian capital city, routed through the capital building itself. It identified itself as being from the Chairwoman, urgent business, and requested immediate, private access to Admiral Weber.

If it was allowed through, the recipient would find the exhausted yet visibly aggravated visage of the elf, who started speaking quickly and forcefully. “Admiral Weber. Chairwoman O’Neill. Let’s spare the formalities and get to the point of why I called. The accident was a deliberate act – the intent we are still not sure about but are investigating. Knowledge of this is being kept close, so as to not spook the individual or individuals. I am telling you because your forces are there and are taking on victims; it is certainly possible that someone you have taken aboard your ships was in fact a suspect. It is also possible they may try again. Your efforts have been much appreciated and I wish to make sure we avoid anything that would disrupt that.”

User avatar
Scolopendra
Minister
 
Posts: 3146
Founded: Antiquity
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Scolopendra » Wed Nov 11, 2015 8:00 pm

Marishiten

It was a good thing that Weber slept lightly. She didn't bother opening her eyes when the Supercarrier gently buzzed her awake and told her she had a call; she just remained on her side in her rack and took the call in her head. If the Chairwoman was expecting any sort of video link, she would only receive a "TYCS - AUDIO ONLY" in bold red text on a black screen. The admiral gave herself a few seconds to process this information.

-Acknowledged, Chairwoman.- On the receiving end, it sounded just like her natural voice. It was a standard part of the communications software. -I'll have physical security increased while maintaining your operational security. We're already housing and transporting thousands of tired, scared, hurt, and angry people. I'd prefer they not riot.-

She thought silently for a few more moments as ideas came to her, and only after judging them worthy did she think them 'aloud.' -One thing we can do is start taking passive biometrics of refugees as part of the broad-band immunization and treatment process. If you can identify any suspects, we can quickly narrow down our transient population to locate and apprehend them, assuming they haven't already slipped through. Will that be suitable?-

Listening with only one 'ear' for a response, Weber went ahead on her own initiative and started cutting orders through Marishiten to increase physical security, as filtered down to the various component commanders for them to figure out. All Marishiten (and, through it, the component commanders) needed to know is that Northrop-Grumman had expressed some concerns regarding general security and safety risks and so both increased physical presence and passive surveillance were called for. As the aerospace component commander, she wrote her own orders to increase Fleet Security operations tempo and direct any ships and their crews to more closely watch their internal sensors. Eventually, General Schuchard would follow suit with his embarked and deployed Mobile Infantry and seconded Ground Forces from the Guard Fleet. He also put forward requests from SPIR for civilian police liaison since while peacekeeping was something the M.I. was trained for and the Ground Forces could technically do from their experience in disaster response labor, actual policing was not generally within their skillset.

Captain-Commodore Tromp would have to figure out how to follow her very general orders on her own authority and initiative. Such was the duty of a component commander.

The only thing Weber didn't do in the few minutes allotted her was order the collection of biometric data. As a proper Triumvirate officer, collecting such personal information deeply concerned her. As a pragmatist to end all pragmatists, she didn't have the time to do it before being distracted by any response.
Idealism at All Costs! . . . Welcome to the Segments, the happiest libertarian socialist nationalists you'll ever meet.
People is people, whether they be the guy down the street, a scary and/or sexy space alien, a giant doom robot, or a candy-colored pony.
Caught you peekin!

User avatar
Northrop-Grumman
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1619
Founded: Dec 28, 2003
Benevolent Dictatorship

Postby Northrop-Grumman » Thu Nov 12, 2015 7:19 am

With her emotions far too wound up, the Chairwoman cared very little that she would not be permitted to see the woman on the other side of the connection. Her attention focused instead on the multiple reports that Clauden had handed to her, swiftly scrolling through them as she contemplated what Weber was offering.

“That would be, yes. The city used to have the capability to do such things and more.” The designers deemed tracking occupants to be necessary when operating something that was less akin to what one would think of as a normal city but was instead actually a spacecraft shaped in the form of one. They did not want someone poking around inside the engines, defensive systems, and other delicate and essential components.

“But the report I’m reading say that the damage is too extensive to cover people moving around ‘above ground’ and off-world. We would say that we know what’s going on ‘below ground’, but we cannot discount the possibility that someone may have or still can manipulate our sensors. Of course, it is also possible, as you say, that they have already slipped through. Be that as it may, we will still be tracking those aboard our ships and those that are passing through the gate. No sense in not covering all our possibilities.

“If there is anything else that may come up, my people will keep you apprised. If it's more of the mundane, they'll send it through regular channels. I would rather not miss some tiny detail that balloons into something much much worse. If it's something sensitive like this, we'll send it directly, perhaps through text. It'd be less intrusive after all.” She understood that everything could not come through her all the time. There were others under her that were more suited to those types of tasks. That was a fact that people, such as her Vice Chairman, were constantly trying to hammer into her, but in this case, for this conversation, she needed to be doing something to keep her mind focused, away from the anger that boiled inside her.

User avatar
Scolopendra
Minister
 
Posts: 3146
Founded: Antiquity
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Scolopendra » Thu Nov 12, 2015 11:20 am

-I'll have the sensor network set up, then. We're already on a persistent air patrol mission, so this will just require us to look down as well as up. We'll put the data and the management functions in an isolated server we can share with you--this will reduce decision-loop and coordination time as the information will be readily available to you, and will show our transparency to your government.-

It only took another moment for the order to get relayed through the joint aerospace component of the operation that ISR assets were to be pointed downwards for population tracking. The ground and logistic components would be responsible for acquiring personally identifiable information (names, addresses, biometric signatures, facial recognition measurements) as part of the ongoing refugee registration process. It wouldn't be hard to justify; the Grummian government would need its citizens back and needed to know who was where, and with so many people under so much stress in less-than-optimal conditions the public health needed close watching.

-Will that be all, ma'am?-
Idealism at All Costs! . . . Welcome to the Segments, the happiest libertarian socialist nationalists you'll ever meet.
People is people, whether they be the guy down the street, a scary and/or sexy space alien, a giant doom robot, or a candy-colored pony.
Caught you peekin!

User avatar
Oyada
Envoy
 
Posts: 218
Founded: May 13, 2008
Father Knows Best State

Postby Oyada » Thu Nov 12, 2015 6:55 pm

He's worried. Blistering white flaring in the core of his body, a blossoming sliver of unseen heat.

Alex took a drag on the cigarette and pressed her eye to the polymer cup, right hand resting on the table's cheap plastic covering, the smoke wafting upward into the whirring air-conditioner. Lenny's body stood, outlined in stark green and red and white against the mellow blue of his flat, locked rigid, extremities glowing. Heart... racing, doubtless. Sweating, probably. Alex cackled quietly. He'd done something biiiiiig, something that would get the Grummian bloodhounds hunting before very long, and watching his agitation was sweet. She envied him, in a way; but only a little. He was alive. Trouble was, he very soon wouldn't be.

Across the block, Lenny packed swiftly. He had to get the hell out before whatever he'd done caught up to him. It couldn't be any simple accident; it couldn't just be coincidence that, the very same night he'd dropped his package where he'd been told to, a goddamn defence gun had carved a hole clean through half the city! It couldn't be. He wasn't going to stick around to find out if it was, anyway. He'd head off this damn city for good, go somewhere nice... well, maybe just somewhere else. The money would see to that, and never had he been happier he hadn't blown it all on fun and games and pretty, pointless toys. His life compressed and focussed before and behind him, and he threw the last of his necessities into the case that sprawled, agape, on the idiotically luxurious sheets. He wasn't due in for another 9 hours, and it'd be another day before anyone thought to ask where he was, if necessary. Perhaps he'd be written off as dead.

Alex watched his preparations with casual detachment, taking no notes; her excellent memory would do the trick quite nicely. Lenny was tying his own noose, though he didn't seem to know it. Perhaps it was better that way. She pulled her eye from the lens and took another drag on the dull-tipped cigarette, looking at the sky, through the vision slit she'd made in the curtains, in the hope of relieving at least some of the eyestrain. Against the darkening overcast, the thin shapes of aircraft circled, vulture-like, seeking survivors.

Alex stubbed the cigarette out and returned to her eyepiece, tutting minutely. Oh, Lenny. You really are a dumb fucker.
Freedom's price is liberty. The individual and his liberty are secondary to our objectives; how are we to protect our lives, our culture, our people, if they all act independently? If each man pursues his own petty aims, we are no more than tiny grains of iron in a random heap. Only by submitting to the need of the whole can any man guarantee his freedom. Only when we allow ourselves to be shaped do we become one, perfect blade. - General Jizagu Ornua, The cost of freedom for Oyada, 1956.

User avatar
Northrop-Grumman
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1619
Founded: Dec 28, 2003
Benevolent Dictatorship

Postby Northrop-Grumman » Fri Nov 13, 2015 7:27 am

Grummian decisions and the conveyance of those same decisions could only be accomplished as fast as their wholly flesh and blood bodies allowed, which in this case meant either typing out instructions or calling someone, who would then have to pass the orders on down. An incredibly insignificant portion of the population had even anything remotely close to what Weber possessed, as such things were not freely available within their borders. That, coupled with security restrictions based on one’s occupation and with the national communications grid, made it so that obtaining them was heavily frowned upon.

The Chairwoman, on the other hand, paid no mind to these concerns, and if she had known about how she was communicating today, she would not have cared in the slightest. There were more important matters to be concerned with, especially today, than what circuitry someone has jammed into their own head.

“That sounds perfect, and yes, that will be all for now, Admiral.” She nodded in agreement and then wrapped up the conversation on her end with a moment of graciousness. “I appreciate what you and your people are doing. If you require anything from us, please, let me know.”
Last edited by Northrop-Grumman on Fri Nov 13, 2015 7:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Scolopendra
Minister
 
Posts: 3146
Founded: Antiquity
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Scolopendra » Tue Dec 15, 2015 6:40 am

-Acknowledged. Weber out.-

With the needs of command and communication out of the way, the admiral resigned herself to laying in her rack until her brain could slow back down enough so she could return to sleep. The 'accident' had been no such thing and the mass-murderer responsible could be hiding somewhere within the crowds. This complicated things dramatically. Her operation simply wasn't built for investigation along with refugee management; she could help provide information, certainly, but Mobile Infantrymen tended not to make very good investigators. The roles of 'peacekeeper' and 'police' were quite distinct, especially in a situation where there would be no time to establish rapport with the community only temporarily within her jurisdiction.

If the murderer was in her grasp but laying low and she missed them, letting them get away--and it got out--that would be a black eye. Short of running near-infrared scans of brain blood flow, combining it with electromagnetic Van Eck phreaking of brain waves, and probably sending it straight to Queen Ghost for analysis and near real-time interpretation... how are she or her troopers to know? If she did catch them, any methods used would get leaked eventually, and there was a political factor in play. The Concordat wasn't the Triumvirate's enemy, but it was certainly a competitor. Violating every civil right imaginable would trump antiterrorism investigations in the news cycles--and if the Triumvirate were supposed to be the good guys, that meant that they had to be the good guys.

All that being thought, she considered, there would be minimal operational security harm in opening up her operation to Grummian investigators. They could maintain unified command-control-communications over their investigation and following up on their leads, and there'd be a distinct political advantage to being open and transparent. The Triumvirate and the Concordat were competitors, but they didn't need to be.

That settled it. She handed the matter off to Marishiten to act as her adjutant, and the supercarrier went on to handle the matter while Weber went back to sleep. It handled this particular issue by transmitting a short message back to the Chairwoman on the recently used line.

-Chairwoman O'Neill, this is Supercarrier Marishiten of the Tee-Why-Cee-Ess, speaking on behalf of Admiral Weber. She would like you to know that should your investigators require physical access to our operation, they may have it.-
Idealism at All Costs! . . . Welcome to the Segments, the happiest libertarian socialist nationalists you'll ever meet.
People is people, whether they be the guy down the street, a scary and/or sexy space alien, a giant doom robot, or a candy-colored pony.
Caught you peekin!

User avatar
Northrop-Grumman
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1619
Founded: Dec 28, 2003
Benevolent Dictatorship

Postby Northrop-Grumman » Sun Mar 27, 2016 6:06 am

The Chairwoman cared even less that the being on the other end of the line was a ship. Sure, it was downright peculiar from her standpoint but who was she to make a judgement call on that? Yes, her people would have been very displeased by such a prospect as having one around, but while she was a Grummian, she was, in many ways, not one of them and did not have the usual baggage that entailed. A person was a person, whether they were flesh and blood or machine.

“Understood,” she responded. “And thank you. I will relay that message to my people. They will handle all the particulars.”



By the time Siri had finally managed to make her way back from the call with the Scolopendrans, morning’s rays shone through the hallway’s windows as she passed them, warming her chilled, bare calves in the otherwise downright frigid corridor. It seemed like she was away for an eternity – these calls always felt like that – but that had given Alak time to sleep through the night without her tossing and turning in the chair beside him. Now, as she entered the room, she found that he had woken up.

“Everything…ok?” he asked softly, noticing his mother’s stressed face.

The older elf forced her best smile, one that, unfortunately, was tempered by exhaustion. “Duty always calls, always something or someone needing my attention, whether day or night.” She crossed the room and partially propped herself up onto the edge of her bed, looking over her son. “How are we feeling?”

“Like…I’ve been hit by a truck. Every joint in my body aches when I move…well, when I can manage to move…” he groaned, barely being able to lift his painfully stiff arm. “My leg hurts too…”

“That’s good then. Very good,” she remarked, only to be met with the drow’s confused look. “Pain tells you that you’re alive; it also tells you your nerves are working as they should. If you were feeling nothing, that would be worrying.”

“I suppose…” He closed his eyes briefly and sighed. “I keep trying to sort things out…mentally. It’s just that…everything is still a blur…everything before I woke up here. I…I can’t really nail down what happened…and no one has told me anything…”

He hadn’t been able to catch any discussions about what had transpired back on Mars. His visitors answered similar to how Nathicana had: “You just need to focus on resting” and the medical staff were more concerned about his condition and what he could or couldn’t remember than telling him. The room wasn’t outfitted oddly enough with a television or much else in terms of entertainment.

“Everyone says it was an accident, but…where? What happened? I don’t understand any of it.” He became visibly frustrated as his brow furrowed. “Is Arielle alright? I haven’t even seen her since I got here…”

And there it was, that question and the old familiar knot in her stomach reappeared. How should she break the news to him? How was he going to take it? Again, she wished that he would never have asked that question, to never have to feel the pain that he was going to have to feel. She hesitated, considering her words very carefully.

Alak sensed something was wrong and insisted, “What happened?”

“It…” Siri clasped his hand between her own and squeezed gently. “I just found out it wasn’t an accident…”



While the nurse checked Alak’s vital signs, the doctor and his mother conversed about his condition over the end of his bed, but he seemed to be utterly lost to the world around him. Everything that was going on seemed as if he was watching it through a screen. The nurse instructed him to do such things as raise his arm, recall different events or facts, and so forth, but he reacted without any real thought.

They spoke about his prognosis; the spinal injury appeared to be improving but whether he would return to his former active lifestyle, they still weren’t sure. It would take time, patience, and plenty of work. The fact that some feeling had returned to his leg showed progress, but translating that into movement and then being able to stand and walk would be a hurdle.

The doctor then spoke about the options for prosthesis, but his mother swiftly interjected that she had requested someone foreign, who would be arriving in the near future and had better ideas on how to repair the damage. However, the doctor was not insulted at all by having someone else come in and certainly understood the reasoning behind it. Grummian prosthetics, while certainly decent enough, were not as advanced as the technology of other nations, and he could not blame her for wanting something better for her son. Still, in the meantime, he had said, they would provide him the best care that they could and try to speed his recovery.
Last edited by Northrop-Grumman on Sun Mar 27, 2016 6:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Zero-One
Spokesperson
 
Posts: 154
Founded: Antiquity
Capitalizt

Postby Zero-One » Sun Mar 27, 2016 3:52 pm

He'd never been graced with what one would call a beautiful face, and it hadn't improved with age: were someone to steam a walnut to flatten it out a bit, score it with some incomplete sandblasting to roughen it through randomized pitting, and then make the corners bulbous in the way considered cute on a rosy-cheeked child but unfortunate on a grown man, one would have a decent approximation. He smiled a lot, though, and it showed, and it folded his face in a way that was at least friendly. The kind of friendly that, if it didn't open doors, it at least made people relax around the closed ones. A shock of black hair too long to be considered 'well kept' but still suitably managed and beetle-brows completed the image. Sitting aboard the economy compartment of a perfectly standard Inner-System spaceliner, in his rumpled white coat with a Persian blue yoke, he looked like he fit. Frumpy, perhaps cheap. Leaning back as comfortably as one could get in such accomodations with his rough hands folded in front of him, he clearly failed to care. This was his element.

The Chairwoman had offered to arrange transportation, of course. Inconspicuously. Any public profile on the man would show that he was a trauma surgeon in the Timperium, going back to the collapse of Weyrian government and the troubles that followed. Volunteer connections to SPIR, so it made sense that he was going where he could be most useful, in the ways best representative of his means. Spaceliner coach from landlocked Kekkosmaa in the southern hemisphere of Mars to mainland Northrop-Grumman on Earth. Taxi from the airport to the hospital. Purposeful striding from the front drive to the main desk--not the one in the atrium, but the one deeper in the hospital--with solitary hard-shell suitcase in hand.

"May I help you?" the volunteer behind the front desk said by rote. This was the busy streak just after rush hour, where everyone checked up on inpatients or went to see what the emergency crews had been able to scrape off the pavement from the latest traffic incident. As she was every day, she was understandably pressed and only revealed it in a slight haste in her voice.

"Ah yeah." The man grinned and rubbed the back of one ear. His rough voice failed to be gruff due to the inherent humor; that and the mild Finnish accent could peg him for a Kekko. "Doctor Topi Harmaajärvi, pleased to meet you." He extended a hand, then thought better about it with a shrug. "I called ahead"--he leaned up over the raised rim of the reception desk; the volunteer habitually leaned forward in her seat to wave him away--"so you might have a badge ready for me over there." He pointed towards the row of plastic cards, already fitted with steel clips, just behind the rim he'd sighted before being pushed back. "No worries if not, though, I know how these things go."

"Doctor?" The receptionist looked at him, then at the rack of cards.

"Foreign specialist. Oh! Do you need identification?" Topi shuffled through the inside pockets of his coat, then of his jacket inside his coat, hopping his suitcase from hand-to-hand until he finally produced a billfold that he handed to the volunteer. She accepted it; inside were two cards behind transparent screens, one from the Timperial government and the other from Landing City General Hospital. Both showed the same, dumpy man she saw now from the other side of the desk, right down to the goofy grin and the askew thin tie. "Shows how often I'm used to going to the front desk, right? Sorry for the bother."

"Oh, it's no bother, Doctor. Let me see if--" she leaned over to the badge rack and flicked through the cards, until she found the one with his name and, yes, his picture on it. That was good enough for her, so she handed that and the billfold over to the man automatically. Automatically enough that she failed to take any note of the rather impressive set of icons on the authorization portion of the badge.

"Ah, thanks, miss." Topi took both items with his free hand, transferred the badge to his suitcase hand, and then attempted to both return his billfold to his pocket and clip on the badge at the same time. It wasn't pretty, but he got it done. "Thanks a lot--have a better one!" Grinning and departing with a nod, he left her to the rest of the crazy hour and strode to the double doors separating the working part of the hospital from the public-access administration and visitation parts. A quick genuflection to the badge reader and the doors unlocked with an electric pop; then he was through.

A visit to the directory, down a hall, and up some stairs got him to the secure wing. His badge got him through far sturdier security doors at the entrance to the wing, and the security nurse behind the glass paid no mind to yet another doctor walking quickly. One of the armed guards outside the room, on the other hand, stretched out an arm across the door as he tried to repeat the trick to the patient recovery ward.

"Sir." The guard didn't pose it as a question. Topi looked up the arm to the owner of the arm, then grinned. "Oh, yeah, only makes sense. Sorry. Doctor Topi Harmaajärvi--pleasure to meet you." He offered a hand, the guard frowned, and the doctor shrugged slightly. "Right, right. Never mind. I'm a specialist for the patient. Should be on the access list." He helpfully pointed towards the tablet hanging on the wall next to the door.

The first guard nodded to the second; the second reached over and got the tablet, quickly scrolling down it with one finger--not that he had to; it was a very short list. "How do you spell that?"

"H-A-R--"

"Got it." The second guard glanced under the brim of his peaked cap. "He's on the list."

The first looked to the second. "Really?"

The second tapped the entry on the tablet, opening up a page with Topi's goofy mug--the same picture on the badge--then turned it around to show the first.

"I never do look good in I.D. pictures," Topi chuckled.

The first frowned a little harder. "Where you from anyway, Doctor?"

"Kekkosmaa--Timperial Medical Service, as now organized under the Scolopendran Science Section. Trauma department at Landing City General Hospital--glad to meet you," he offered his hand with a grin. "And you're?"

The guard accepted the hand before he recognized what he was doing, then shrugged and pulled his arm back. "Williams, security department. Sorry, Doctor."

"Not to worry, you're only doing your job. May I?" Topi tilted his head towards the door with a crooked grin.

"Sure. Let us know if you need anything."

"Great." The doctor beeped himself in, shut the door behind him, then set down his suitcase on the nearest chair. Turning around with a vaporizer the size of his pinkie finger already pulled from his lumpy coat, he saw that Alakantar was awake before then noticing the smoke alarm in the room. Twirling the device in his fingers, his face fell sympathetically as he looked over his new patient. "Ah. Evenin'. Not about to insult your intelligence by callin' it 'good.'" He tapped the vaporizer against his chin as he considered the form in front of him, then started looking over Alakantar's charts with a frown. "I don't know how much you've been let in on but, given the circumstances, you're in pretty good shape. I've had to do more with less, so they say... but where's my manners. I'm Doctor Topi Harmaajärvi, though I get that's a mouthful for no one used to Finnish and its stringed vowels. You can call me Doc Harma if you want."

Topi looked over the room, turning around fully while standing in place. Camera-and-microphone surveillance setup where it'd be expected, usual networked vitals monitoring equipment, intravenous kit. Standard stuff, not quite stone knives and bearskins. The big question was whether or not the mic feed was live or not. Normally isn't, at least not in real-time, since recording with the security station muted meant that privacy could be violated later for an investigation. "We've met before, actually." He turned around again to look Alakantar in his good eye.

"I gave a lecture on lung function. I recall it had, ah, quite the effect on you." He winked.

User avatar
Northrop-Grumman
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1619
Founded: Dec 28, 2003
Benevolent Dictatorship

Postby Northrop-Grumman » Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:40 pm

The imprisonment from his weak, crippled body and the multiple layers of security between his room and the freedom beyond forced Alakantar to have to deal with everyone who had wished to see him, despite his desires to hide away from it all in quiet seclusion. Yet another visit did not change his sentiment, even after the man’s introductions and reminders of a prior meeting. The continual numbness from the tragic news his mother had relayed to him caused him to simply provide an acknowledging nod of the doctor’s true identity. In another time, he would have been quite interested in how he…or she…could be in numerous places at one time, but here, in these circumstances, any curiosity disappeared with the loss of his love.

His mother, seated beside him and having been watching over him these past few silent hours, frowned in dismay at the near non-response. She truly wished that she could conjure up the right words to soothe his pain, to perhaps lift the weight on his shoulders, but she was at a loss for what could be done, what could be said. The role that would require was so foreign to her that she could not fathom how she could do it. Besides that, Siri could not handle her own struggles, her own hurt, much less provide comfort for anyone else. She had once again felt, as she had before, that she was the worst person suited to this task.

But if he would not speak willingly, then someone must do it for him and perhaps push him into stepping up. She got right down to business and turned her attention onto the newcomer. “What can you do for him?”
Last edited by Northrop-Grumman on Sat May 28, 2016 8:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Zero-One
Spokesperson
 
Posts: 154
Founded: Antiquity
Capitalizt

Postby Zero-One » Sat May 28, 2016 1:33 pm

Doc Harma considered his patient momentarily--specifically the infinite sadness behind the eyes--before responding to the patient's mother. The entire time, he casually twirled his little vaporizer back and forth through his fingers like a bored old magician keeping up his manual dexterity. "What can I do? Well, given the local state of the art," he looked around the room, "what I could probably do is relatively limited beyond what's been done. Brace-attached prostheses have come a very long way since the old peg-leg and hook, but the imperfect attachments limit their functionality. Sure, y'won't have to worry about chrome arms pulling apart a living spine, but there's only so much that can be done without drilling down--if you'll forgive the impardonable pun--'n putting down more permanent roots, so to speak. With the state of the art... well, it's basically a tyranny of choice, isn't it? Vat-grown replacement limbs and organs, synthetic replacements, full conversion into everything from a visibly indistinguishable chrome body to a dumptruck. A literal dumptruck, y'see. Now that's probably a bit excessive, but I think you get my point: what I can do is limited to what you," he addressed the visibly awake and probably coherent Alak, "want. You're going to have to live with--or inside--it, after all.

"Obviously, the further we move away from what you're used to, the longer it'll take to get... reacclimated. Could make that easier by developing a sort of NEENJA-type brain-to-body interface, but since your cee-en-ess"--he tapped his head--"is still fully operational, I'd prefer not to cut around too much there.

"So physically--and I don't wish to oversell myself, y'see--I can probably fix everything up just fine, however it should be. I figure though that this is an extremely traumatic experience, which from past experience means long-term therapy, probably some medication, or psychosurgery. The last... while I do know some specialists who are pretty good at it, is generally contraindicated for the metanormally sensitive. Generally includes the entire non-metahuman elf class"--he tapped the edge of one ear--"though I don't mean to presume."

User avatar
Northrop-Grumman
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1619
Founded: Dec 28, 2003
Benevolent Dictatorship

Postby Northrop-Grumman » Mon Jun 27, 2016 10:50 am

Siri cautiously studied her son’s demeanor as the doctor described the various options that were available to treat him, attempting to gauge his reactions so that she could hopefully not screw up any of her responses to him. She frowned sadly, watching him reach over towards his missing limb and place his hand on the bandage that enwrapped his shoulder. A part of her wished that she had had him mended while he was still unconscious; that way he would have never had to experience the damage inflicted upon his body. All that would have been left would be to deal with his emotional trauma. Of course, she admitted internally that she had no right to do such things, especially to her son, and even more so when she had not been has respectful of his decisions in the past. She should not and could not intrude upon his life as she had.

Gently resting her hand upon his opposite shoulder, the older elf leaned in. “Look, I cannot make these calls for you,” she said softly. “This is something that you will have to make your own decision about, but whatever you choose, I will be here for you and support you.”

“I do want to do it, but…I just…I don’t know…I have a lot to think about and…” he mumbled back to his mother, his remaining eye staring down on the emptiness where his arm had once been. “I just want to not be here…in this place…if that makes any sense…” He sighed, not being in much of a frame of mind to say anything definitive about what he wished to do yet. There was so much being thrown upon him lately that he still felt overwhelmed and couldn’t quite process everything.

“I know; I understand,” Siri answered quietly and reassuringly, knowing all too well how he felt.
Last edited by Northrop-Grumman on Mon Jun 27, 2016 1:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Zero-One
Spokesperson
 
Posts: 154
Founded: Antiquity
Capitalizt

Postby Zero-One » Sun Jul 03, 2016 5:17 pm

"Hrm. Yeah, makes perfect sense." After frowning sympathetically, the doctor looked around the room at its medical machines, antiseptically drab paint, and institutional furniture. "Not really a pleasant atmosphere for recuperatin' in. Now I tell you what," he shook his little vaporizer at his patient, "there's some really nice long-term inpatient facilities in various places. The ones in ol' Kekkosmaa are alpine, very brisk air, well away from the Wilds. Through the Health Directorate I could probably get you onto the Ring, Titan, anywhere outsystem--Si'lat is pretty but given how I bet they've chemically suppressed your immune system, probably not the best choice--all sorts of places. Desert, arboreal, Mediterranean, tidal, underwater, deep space--you name the environment and how's sociable you're feelin', and we can work somethin' out."

With interstellar populations in the hundreds of billions, a wide range of potential sanatoriums only made sense. "Still, I get that this is somethin' of an edge case. I know of a few very private, very exclusive retreats which could probably take you on with only a li'l cajoling. I bring these up since, well, let's be honest: you'll need a little diversion and all the sorts of things you're habituated to will get samey and borin' way too fast, I think. I read up on your case history and it seems you're a literally curious kind of guy, so I'm thinkin' something diff'rent will suit you best. Now I know I'm talkin' your ears off--people always sayin' I've been a talker--and there's no real rush, but say the word and I'll talk to the right people and we'll have you somewhere nicer than... than..." He waved his free hand around idly to encompass the room, "...all this faster than it really bears thinkin' 'bout.

"Whaddya say?"

User avatar
Northrop-Grumman
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1619
Founded: Dec 28, 2003
Benevolent Dictatorship

Postby Northrop-Grumman » Sat Aug 20, 2016 10:58 am

Ordinarily the litany of options that were available to him would have proven to be quite enticing. After all, who could argue with being able to spend time in all of these strange, foreign locations? However, Alakantar could not readily point out any particular option that appealed to him at the moment. Nothing much really caught his interest right now, other than being away from everything and everyone here, especially the seemingly ever-constant news reports coming in. He elected to not watch any coverage of the events on Mars, but that didn't mean that he was isolated from others who wished to talk about. And then once folks knew that he knew about Arielle, that's all he heard about when they came to visit. They meant well and were only trying to help him through it, but he just didn't want to have to deal with it.

“Again...I don't know...I don't know where...or what I'm looking for...in particular. All I do know is that I'm not really feeling up to dealing with a whole lotta people, honestly…Don’t get me wrong…I’m glad they’re here…I just…” The drow attempted tp avoid insulting those who wanted to wish him the best and try to comfort him, but he struggled to put his thoughts together into the right words. He frowned deeply, his head bowing as he stared down at the single hand that rested upon his lap. “Alright…let’s just go ahead with it...”
Last edited by Northrop-Grumman on Sat Aug 20, 2016 10:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Oyada
Envoy
 
Posts: 218
Founded: May 13, 2008
Father Knows Best State

Postby Oyada » Sun Sep 11, 2016 4:33 pm

The checkpoints would be problematic if he didn't concentrate hard. He was sweating already, pacing across his small flat, feeling the luxuriant pile of the new carpet prodding thousand of tiny, numbing needles into the soles of his bare feet, smoking his way through a third cigar. The suitcase, still vastly overstuffed, lay straining at its locks on his mattress, peering narrowly at the silent television, and Lenny paced between his walls, a caged ferret.

The phone stopped him cold, its ringtone searing his ears.

Police.

No, wait. You idiot, the police wouldn't call before they busted down your door. Act natural. Calm. Cool. You got this, Lenny. You know what you're doing. Just keep your cool and nobody'll suspect until you're way the fuck out of here.
It was as well that the caller couldn't see the perspiration filming his head, peeking from beyond a hairline fighting a hopeless rearguard against the encroachment of his forehead. As well that they couldn't feel the phone tremble in his quaking hands, too. He swallowed hard and put it to his ear.

“Lenny Pearson,” he squawked, coughing theatrically. “Sorry, bit of a cold.”

“Ah, I'm sorry,” replied a middle-aged voice through a hefty amount of background noise. “I was looking for Mr. Grimaldi. Wrong number?”

“Ah! Er... yes, sorry, wrong number. Grimaldi is at seven four nine.”

“Ah, thanks,” the voice said flatly. “You get this a lot?”

“All the time. What did you dial?” Lenny drew on the cigar and exhaled into the mic.

“Seven four eight,” it said tersely.

“Ah. Well... er...”

“Thank you, Lenny. G'bye.”

Lenny squeezed the phone, its plastic shell creaking in warning. 748. Maybe he'd get out of this yet. Maybe... but of course, those bastards wouldn't leave him to hang – they had to know he'd spill everything he knew to the cops. He owed them nothing now, after all. He took a longer, deeper pull on the cigar and stubbed its remains out in the ashtray. 748. He would need only the packages that he'd been given – which he'd diligently stored in a safe place behind a power socket, almost electrocuting himself in the process – and his ID.

Lenny Pearson, he thought with a grim smile, rides again.



“I have ordered 748,” the Smoker reported, the murmur almost drowned by the heavy sound of air conditioners in the mezzanine above.

“Good. Go with the light.” He nodded solemnly, but the cowled woman and her metallic words were already dispersed on the aether.
Freedom's price is liberty. The individual and his liberty are secondary to our objectives; how are we to protect our lives, our culture, our people, if they all act independently? If each man pursues his own petty aims, we are no more than tiny grains of iron in a random heap. Only by submitting to the need of the whole can any man guarantee his freedom. Only when we allow ourselves to be shaped do we become one, perfect blade. - General Jizagu Ornua, The cost of freedom for Oyada, 1956.

User avatar
Zero-One
Spokesperson
 
Posts: 154
Founded: Antiquity
Capitalizt

Getting Away For One's Health

Postby Zero-One » Wed Sep 28, 2016 11:05 am

It took little effort to spirit the Governor away. All of the relevant actors who needed to know knew, and they took the effort to sandbag the security apparatuses and media organs that didn’t need to know. Secure ambulance from the hospital to the airport. Courier air travel from Northrop-Grumman to the Timperium. Even a ‘backwater’ Segment Executive had its bustle of activity, particularly around Landing City, and so a basic shell game between ambulances and limos and spaceliners meant that those tracking the wounded drow would have to follow at least three ground transports going to suburban hospitals; two helicopters heading to mountainous terrain safely away from the Wilds; in-atmosphere flights to Sirenum, New Vancouver, Concordia, and Nova Arikhant; and in-system spaceliners heading towards the Mediterranean homeland of the Dominion, the Ring around Saturn, Terrestrial Northrop-Grumman, and Moneylaunderingstan. More shell games later and cutting to the chase, a regularly scheduled resupply shipment launched from Sirenum rendezvoused with a QACF L.O.G. Base in orbit, and this Base flew away to parts unknown to most. That L.O.G. Base rendezvoused with QACF Queendom’s Glory—one of several, in fact—in deep interstellar space, and S.H.O.D.A.N.’s starship avatar sped off in a stochastically variable Nautilus course to throw off even her own military, should they get excessively curious.

The final destination of all this misdirection and furtive sneaking had no real name, as it sat off in the galactic halo well away from anyone else who would care. They arrived at night, when the Milky Way spanned the sky. It now a distinct oblate form rather than a simple path, only slightly brighter with the absence of disc-concentrated dust in the way. Away from the galaxy, the sky stood an inky, lonely black with far fewer stars than any amateur astronomer would be used to. A few tiny circles suggested that this was not the only planet in the star system, and a pair of roundish moons held court in their opposite ends of the sky, forming a Trojan system with a thin belt of gray and brown dust connecting the two.

The sanatorium grounds themselves took hints from both Neo-Georgian and Modernist schools of architectural thought. The large, symmetrical, rectilinear buildings sported wide spans of glass across their façades, broken up with glossy grey brick and with levels delineated by string courses. Corniced entablatures supported gently sloping roofs made of glassy photovoltaic material. Trees and hedges kept the buildings themselves from appearing too austere, and the grounds wound around the natural topology of a series of hilltops surrounded by deeper valleys flanked by mountains. The local flora glowed with corona discharge along the edges of the pearlescent indigo and purple leaves that erupted from their branches and trunks of tarnished silver. Rows and copses of these trees broke up the sightlines of the grounds, generating privacy, while beds of flowers currently wrapped in their green-gold bulbs likewise created places to reasonably congregate.

Not that there was anyone to congregate around them. No patients called this retreat home. At least one of Shodey’s gynoid avatars lived there to tend to the grounds, and she of course welcomed Alakantar on his arrival. If he wanted company, she would sit nearby, working on some floral specimen; if he wanted conversation, she would duly answer. If he wanted privacy, she would leave. If he wanted to move around, she would wheel him around; if he wanted to move around on his own, she would strap prosthetics to him and, after a small amount of training, allow him to go as he pleased. Not unwatched, of course, but she remained careful to keep her surveillance subtle and inoffensive. After all, in her mind, the first phase of this entire process was to give him the space necessary to grasp the traumas he’d suffered. ‘Grasp,’ not ‘come to terms with.’ He still appeared to be in a state of shock; that would have to pass before any further work could be done. People poking and prodding and consoling would only, it seem, cause him to erect what psychological defenses he had in order to remain sociable, leaving the underlying hurt unaddressed.

As gentle as she was, as affable as she was, she retained a dark ulterior motive she did not allow to even appear behind the catlike pupils of her eyes. Perhaps she would be wrong, but at some point the drow would have to lower his shields of society and of apathy. The sting already in his heart would finally break through the cotton wool he’d packed his brain in. That was when he would break, and that was when she could truly help.

User avatar
Northrop-Grumman
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1619
Founded: Dec 28, 2003
Benevolent Dictatorship

Postby Northrop-Grumman » Sun Mar 26, 2017 10:31 am

Valacirca’s NIO field office had the technical capability of being able to interface with multiple systems within the city – with the proper authorization, of course. Unlike the typical city which organically grew over years, decades, or even centuries, where various buildings were constructed with their own information systems designed by their builders or, even worse, by each of its tenants, Valacirca had the benefit of being designed and constructed as a single entity. Everything was fitted together with the same materials, same set of plans, and same standards. With that, the NIO agents had easy access to everything within the city.

However, before they attempted to access anything, the first step was meeting to brainstorm possible methods of corrupting the defense turret’s coding, including involving the researchers who discovered the manipulation. They found that direct physical access was necessary to make these sorts of changes. Next, the agents pulled up diagrams of the city, where the offending weapon was originally located, and what controlled access points surrounded it. Then, physical and systems access logs were obtained, which narrowed the scope down to only four people. Those names, in turn, were forwarded up the approval chain of command and over to the people who controlled the Universal Network for the Integrated Transactional Economy, or UNITE.

UNITE consisted of a database and computer network that captured transactional information created throughout every individual’s daily life, especially the receipt and disbursement of money. Mirrored databases were located in multiple locations in the country, both on Earth and off, with the main facility located under the mountain range that ran along the spine of the mainland.

It was here those NIO names were sent to a receiving facility. There, a specially set up computer received the encrypted transmission – it had no other real functionality or purpose. The recipient received the information, checking the approval chain for all the necessary authorization codes, and forwarded it over to their supervisor for review. If approved, the information was written onto a data chip that was only used within that facility and hand-carried down to the division responsible for actually processing these requests. There, the requested information was gathered, downloaded onto another chip, and the quality assurance division would review the information to make sure it was gathered correctly. Once approved, the chip was carried back to the initial recipient at the facility who would securely transmit it back to the requesting NIO office.



Busyness can be a means of keeping yourself from focusing on whatever troubles may be infesting your consciousness. Sometimes you intend on not allowing yourself a moment of downtime where you may start to dwell on those nagging thoughts. After all, perhaps the best way to prevent what you deem to be unneeded stress is by avoiding it entirely. Of course, lying in bed on those quiet, still nights allows them the opportunity to appear once more. At that point, maybe you just have not been busy enough during the day to ensure that once your head hits the pillow that you are not fast asleep.

Other times you find yourself caught up in the hectic nature of the world about you. There is always something that needs to be done, someone that you need to see, places where you should be, and as a result your mind is constantly flipping from one situation to another. You are never allowed that moment of reprieve, just because life does not see fit that you should be granted it. There was never an intent to hide from your troubles, but you do suddenly find them flooding back when you finally have that opportunity to allow it all to catch up with you.

Alakantar had been very much facing the latter situation. In the hospital room, with the constant attention from a multitude of doctors and nurses, the watchful eyes of his mother, and the regular visits from family and friends, he never had time to sit there and consider everything that had happened to him, to allow his mind to be inactive and idle. Even beyond all that, he was always caught up in the news coming out of Valacirca, his condition, and the status of others in his local government. Then, once he had finally been granted a chance to leave the hospital, he had said his goodbyes to his mother and had been spending a good chunk of time after that through multiple modes of transportation to get to his current location.

Now, as his wheelchair had largely confined him to being nestled between its padded arms, he found that he could no longer escape the thoughts that he had originally kept at bay. The initial offers of self-mobility had appealed to him, at first, had gradually tapered off, finding that his will to do much of anything had started to wane. It was this moment of silence, all distractions gone, only the stillness of a world consisting of he and his caretaker, where everything came flooding back to him. It was here that he felt the sudden pangs of loneliness and of the reality that he could never see his beloved fiancée again.

The drow sniffled softly, turning one wheel back and forth and contorting his face in a failing attempt to maintain that last lingering control that he once had. But it was of no use, he struggled against the tears that welled up in his only functional eye and sobbed quietly to himself.
Last edited by Northrop-Grumman on Sun Mar 26, 2017 10:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Zero-One
Spokesperson
 
Posts: 154
Founded: Antiquity
Capitalizt

Postby Zero-One » Wed Apr 05, 2017 5:47 pm

The 'stages' of grief are neither a process nor a cookbook; they are merely diagnostic, even if 'acceptance' is the desired end result. There is no right way to process grief, but that grieving must be allowed to occur. Poking, prodding, asking--all that only led to her patient retreating behind a shell of comfortable numbness. So she gave him room. At some point his mind ran out of ways to occupy himself. Letting the current carry him away only worked when there was a current, but in stillness? He could only tread water so long.

When he began to founder, there she was as the helping hand... though not so blatant as all that. From her 'hiding' spot just around the next curve she walked down the path, bare feet softly padding against the pavement. Without a word she scudded alongside the drow, then sat down on the clover-like ground cover next to him, ankles stacked one over the other and knees off to one side. She eschewed her usual (when clothing was actually required for whatever reason) formal business suits and professional lab coats for, of all things, a vaguely iridescent green sundress of all things, albeit the bare-shoulder effect was eliminated due to her customary usekh and royal purple short cape.

She said nothing, looking out over the landscape from the hillock. She merely produced, and offered, a handkerchief.

User avatar
Northrop-Grumman
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1619
Founded: Dec 28, 2003
Benevolent Dictatorship

Postby Northrop-Grumman » Tue Jan 02, 2018 7:19 am

Alakantar dabbed his watering eye with the offered handkerchief. “What keeps going through my mind is…we wasted so much time. We were finally supposed to be getting married after all these years of always putting it off. We kept coming up with excuses and rationalizing our delays.” He waved his hand. “The stresses of my responsibilities…the conflict with her parents…my dad passing away…no matter what happened we never really felt the time was right.”

He paused, considering how this situation might sound to those not familiar with him and his fiancée. “It wasn’t cold feet…at least, I don’t think…It’s just…there was no reason to rush it – to jump into it right away. We wanted to make sure that it would be the perfect day. Plus…being as young as we are…and as long lived as we were supposed to be, there…was always a tomorrow…and we assumed wrong…”

User avatar
Northrop-Grumman
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1619
Founded: Dec 28, 2003
Benevolent Dictatorship

Postby Northrop-Grumman » Fri Jan 05, 2018 10:56 am

The requested information detailed the living conditions of all those individuals with access to the defense turret. Most had run of the mill sort of issues – student loan payments, credit card debt, and child support – and the data provided a multi-year trend of income and expenses. In many instances, a lack of income was off-set by increases in credit card usage. Other times, there would be a noticeable decrease in regular expenses as the debt crowded it out. The investigators ranked each of the individuals according to a prepared risk assessment and decided that they would talk to each one, in order. While those with a lower score tended to be less risky, they may still have been involved in this situation, so they did not want to rule anyone out, just prioritize.

The highest ranked person on this list was Lenny Pearson. He, or someone else, had been smart enough not to trip the automatic triggers that were set up for someone in his position’s sensitivity. Any expenses that exceeded his total income were always allocated to debt, such as credit cards and loans. By themselves, they were certainly red flags but nothing terribly out of the ordinary. However, upon further examination his life showed certain gaps. Overseas trips to the Dominion and Mangala showed that sometimes first class tickets would be booked and paid for out of his checking account, but then there would not be any further expenses until the return trip. No money was taken out in advance, no currency conversions took place, and no food or lodging expenses were incurred while abroad.

Therefore, the NIO sent out two of their investigators, Ryan Sheperdson and Lucas Strauss, to visit his apartment in the southwestern quadrant of Valacirca. As the two charcoal suited men stepped out of their silver sedan in front of the building, Strauss spoke quietly through his earpiece. “So he’s still in there?”

From the other end of the connection, the voice confirmed his status; the life sign detectors within this section of the city were still largely operational. They could see that he was moving about his apartment.

“Alright then, we’ll keep you in the loop in case he makes a run for it,” he responded before he and Sheperdson entered the building.

PreviousNext

Advertisement

Remove ads

Return to NationStates

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Brettenwald, Las Palmeras, Scornerse, Socialist Macronesia

Advertisement

Remove ads