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The Advanced Materials Joint Research Initiative (Closed)

Where nations come together and discuss matters of varying degrees of importance. [In character]
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Alexzonya
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The Advanced Materials Joint Research Initiative (Closed)

Postby Alexzonya » Tue Jul 20, 2021 9:35 pm

"Mad Science" means never stopping to ask "what's the worst thing that could happen?"
- Maxim 14, from The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries



The Presidential Complex, Meridian Prime, Galactic Republic of Arkasia
July 20, ASY 123

“A briefing on a research project? Now? Can this wait?” President Bailess looks a combination of befuddled and annoyed as Admiral Shaw, the head of Fleet Intelligence, tries to brief him on a very special new research project. They sat in the President’s office on Meridian Prime, the dampener field down for whatever privacy it was worth in the Oracle era. Both men are tired; for Shaw, excitement cuts through the exhaustion with a gleaming edge.

“No, Mr. President, it can’t. We need your sign-off on this.”

“On a research project?” This time he sounded more curious. He looks at the typed, hardcopy file before him. “The Advanced Materials Joint Research Initiative?”

“Yes, sir. It’s a doozy. Bowman out at Mars worked it up.”

“Oh, you should have led with that! How big a doozy?” He sits back in his chair, gritting his teeth slightly. These days he’d like nothing more than a cigar, even after all these years, but the wife had made him quit so long ago. No matter that these Static would probably kill him before tobacco could.

“How familiar are you with holographic theory?”

“... like holovids?”

“... no. Totally unrelated. It’s a physics phenomena, a hypothetical one.”

“Then not at all.”

“Well, the high level is…” Admiral Shaw gives the President the high-level rundown on holographic technology, growing more excited even as Bailess looks more perplexed.

“Alright,” the President finally interrupts. “Spare me the physics. Tell me what it does and why you need me to sign off rather than just putting it in some black site.”

“We need to collaborate. We don't have anything like this in the archives. Nothing, in fact, except some old debunkings of any possibility of practical applications for the theory. As it turns out, though, other nations have made progress.”

“The Domain?”

“Not this time. The Hypatians and the Eridani.”

“The Hypatians have tech we don’t now?” Bailess looks vaguely alarmed. “For… for crying out loud!”

“As it turns out, they’re much more advanced than we gave them credit for. They’re like us; a lot of the bleeding edge stuff is kept tightly under wraps.” Shaw hastily interjects. “Their historical bumbling, we believe, has largely been an act." He smiles and continues. “But! Neither the Eridani nor the Hypatians have anything like our Origami tech. We think it can work together with holographic technology to pull off some truly spectacular results.”

Bailess nods. “Alright, well. I understand why this is on my desk now. How spectacular are we talking? Not incremental improvements, I assume?”

“Not at all. Think OIC with resolutions at the single-ship level and common Origami drives. It could revolutionize all of our Origami technology if we can integrate holographics. Maybe even get the old precursor stuff that won’t work here to function.”

“Is that so? The initiative… just Hypatia and the Eridani?”

“And the Phoenix Domain.”

“What’s their contribution?” The President isn’t aggressive, more curious.

“They keep the rest of us from blowing ourselves up.”

Bailess snorts. “Fair enough. They’ve done a good job of it so far. Besides, they’ve given us so much tech now, maybe we can return the favor for once. Risks and costs?”

Shaw gulps. “Well… certain powers might not like it.”

“Which ones?”

“The Nimatojin… and the Macisikani.”

“How much will they not like it?”

“Snide comments and snooping Corgis, is what the Domain expects.”

“We’re going to get both of those anyway.”

“The other is, uh… catastrophic reality failure.”

Bailess stares at him. “You’re kidding, right?”

“... no. But any tests will be isolated to pocket realities for containment.”
“Yes, and that’s a prerequisite for involvement. No live fire tests in our universe, period. And my condition is that any deployment of resulting technology outside of the pocket has to be approved by every government involved. In your opinion, will that effectively contain the threat?”

“More than, but… yes, you can’t be too safe. We had been looking at doing something like that.”

“Right, so… other than snide comments for Bowman and/or possibly ending the universe…”

“Risk of leak of vital national security information, to the other three nations involved.”

“Which is the point of research collaboration. Anything else?”

“Scale. This is a big one. It’ll likely require dedicated facilities and a significant investment. And a few years to bear fruit.”

“You have my go-ahead there. Starfleet R&D can figure out how to prioritize it; you know I don’t like to step on your toes in that way. Anything else?”

“I’ll keep you informed if anything comes up.”

“Good. By the way, what’s the project file name? You always have some interesting ones.”

“Project: New Amsterdam.”

Bailess frowns. “What even is that? An old Terran city?”

“Yes, and no. It’s nothing, randomly generated from place names in the historical records, which is the point. OpSec said we needed to stop naming projects after their function.”

“Ah. Very well. You have my approval for whatever needs doing, and keep me informed. Assuming the Static don’t eat us all before you get up and running.”
Last edited by Alexzonya on Tue Jul 20, 2021 9:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Phoenix Domain
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Postby Phoenix Domain » Tue Jul 20, 2021 11:45 pm

Phoenix Domain - Conclave Dataspace

Within the Phoenix Domain's extensive dataspaces that comprise the Conclave, the deliberation and legislation body of the Domain, a debate had grown into a veritable wildfire. As the information being debated had been classified by the Speaker's Council, the actual arguments for and against were being conducted by the simulated personalities, the Scions, of the Conclave's members. Any classified details would not be retained for memory integration with the scion's primaries, though the general overview of the debates themselves would eventually find their way to the citizens.

The members of the Conclave discussed the issue put before them: To participate in the Advanced Materials Joint Research Initiative, or not.

The greater majority were in favor of the project, seeing a chance to benefit not only their friends in foreign nations, but likely even the Domain itself!

Those against the proposal argued that trying to keep such a secret from the Nimatojin or Macisikani was foolish, even dangerous.

A counter proposal suggested that the Domain be transparent with the Republic and United Kingdoms, and that the Domain's participation could alleviate the concerns of those two nations. Having a proverbial adult in the room would lessen the chances of this project becoming a danger in need of liquidation.

For some time the higher levels of the Conclave, those inhabited by prominent officials and military, was largely silent while the thrum of the Conclave's lower levels rocked back and forth. From groups as small as dozens on up to hundreds, arguments were made, countered, simulations predicted most probable outcomes, and all sides were considered. Group after group came to conclusions, which were then passed up to the next tier to deliberate.

Eventually came the one voice which mattered most, the Gestalt. A consciousness synthesized from the collective input of the entire Conclave. A single voice to speak for the collective will of the Phoenix Domain.

We accept the proposal.

The Gestalt rarely used more words than necessary, but once pronouncement was made, it fell to the various functional elements of the Domain's apparatus to carry it out.


Phoenix Domain - Speaker's Council

The sim-space that the Council met in was always the same: A well lit circular table surrounded by chairs, itself surrounded by empty darkness. The avatars of the Speakers were each anonymous, with no specific facial or physical features beyond a rough bipedal, humanoid form. These were not the leaders of the Domain, for the Gestalt served that role. No, these were merely the top of the system which carried out the will of the Conclave, as spoken by the voice of the Gestalt.

"You realize of course that when the UIK learns what we are doing, we will face repercussions." Spoke one, who's otherwise featureless avatar wore a stylized dark suit. This Speaker represented the diplomatic component of the Domain.

Another figure, in a military uniform bearing no insignia sat down and shook it's head, "We cannot let fear of what the Macisikani will think color our every action."

"I agree. If the younger three in this were to conduct research totally alone, the probabilities of disaster increase dramatically, while with our participation and transparency with the Peers those risks are mitigated to acceptable levels." This speaker wore a lab-coat, symbolic of the scientific and technological arm of the Domain.

The next to speak wore stylized judges' robes, the Speaker of Law "Attempting to keep this endeavor a secret from the Peers could constitute a breach of our treaties with them, so we concur with transparency. The project itself does not constitute a breach however."

"We should be capable of providing whatever material resources should be required, without affecting existing production schedules." This came from the Speaker of Production, wearing a construction vest and hardhat lifted from some human vid.

The Speaker of Civics represented the 'cultural pulse' of the Domain, and it's casual clothing tended to change from one session to the next, as the overall tastes of the Phoenixi changed. "Simulation sampling from both Citizen and Resident populations show there would be favorable public support."

The final figure in the room was an empty silhouette, though any movement brought the impression that within that empty void were teeming millions of voices. When it spoke the effect was amplified, pitch and timbre changing from moment to moment, all with a harmonic phenomenon. "Very well. Let this be our course."

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Hypatian Commonwealth
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Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Wed Jul 21, 2021 6:52 am

Security Council, Amsterdam Station, Location Unknown

Long ago, after Hawking had been ceded to the Menelmacari, there arose a need for a new military headquarters that would be safe from prying eyes. The Hypatians had, in that time, learnt much about the technologies surrounding the Red Abyss' origin and developed these theories under a program codenamed Project Glass. Glass had proven itself innovative and extraordinary insofar as government projects went. The Valkyrie Array, Laconium, Transit Gates, and so much more had become reality under this program. While Project Glass created theory, Project Icarus put it to the test.

Amsterdam was one such gift of the ancients that the Hypatians had learnt to create. The citadel was a leviathan in a sea of obsidian where a lack of stars and anything else in this void could hardly go unnoticed. The dodecahedron shaped facility spun on an axis that seemed to defy all reason, its form twisted and churned in a manner that without any other reference made it difficult to discern the direction of its spin. Nevertheless, small ships would approach and match its rotation via computer before disappearing into its form.

Nerys had only been here once before. It was generally considered unnecessary to have such officials present in person but certain matters could not be discussed through a mere facsimile. For all the data they had reaped from Hawking, and all the discoveries they had made themselves over the last few decades; none were as revolutionary as the matter that would be discussed within this mysterious geometry.

Hours ago, Nerys had left Mars as a typical civilian and boarded a shuttle to be taken to Temujin in the Reaches. None would have recognised the re-sleeved Empress, whose absence in Northminster would not have gone unnoticed either. In fact, Nerys was sitting down for a cup of tea, as was her typical routine, and reading the paper in Northminster as she boarded her flight out of Sol. Her closest confidantes, that was her staff, came in and greeted her as they typically would and they would never suspect a thing. In truth, this was not the first time such a farce had been done, and was typical for matters that required the utmost secrecy.

When Nerys' shuttle arrived at Temujin, the first stop on its itinerary, it proceeded to the jump-point used by all the other traffic heading towards the Delta Quadrant. The countdown began, and the vessel initiated its jump. Nerys, like anyone else that used modern-day Hypatian FTL, would not have noticed the change so easily. There was no demarcation between there and here, then and now. Space just seemed to change in what was a blink of time and then you were at your destination. As the vessel arrived in the Delta Quadrant, all was not as it seemed.

The vessel's arrival was routine and on schedule. Its passengers disembarked. But Nerys did not get off in the Delta Quadrant's Revansport Station. Rather her ship, now empty of passengers, began its final approach to Amsterdam. She watched through a window as the faint blue lights of the station became clearer as her shuttle approached. They twinkled against the dark backdrop of Amsterdam, whose shape became more difficult to make out as they drew closer. Amsterdam swallowed Nerys' shuttle, and once inside the large docking bay, she could see the other ships already parked on their pads.

"Welcome to Amsterdam," an automated voice greeted as she stepped out of her craft onto the platform. There were no workers here, but plenty of company that scuttled around both big and small. Mechanical arachnids worked away at construction and maintenance and larger automatons, known as guardians, stood guard at the entrances and along the platforms. Nerys followed a path broadcasted to her via her augmented reality visor and would soon come face-to-face with a checkpoint. The small digital line of white disappeared in her visual field and was replaced with a large red rectangle blocking the door that informed her to stop and await further clearance.

The two guardians that stood a few good feet over her did not appear to acknowledge her presence, but she reflected on their design. They reminded her of Anubis from Egyptian mythology, and were as such called Anubites for this. Their jackal-like features and figure were a haunting presence in the shadows of this station, and though they seemed statuesque, Nerys knew they were analysing every move she was making.

Before long, her clearance had been accepted and she was allowed to enter. The door opened and the red rectangle with flashing warnings disappeared. Nerys followed the newly generated white line into the catacombs of the station which were small and uncomfortable, to say the least. The absence of any real crew meant that a lot of work could be done through special maintenance shafts that ran throughout the station. There just wasn't a need to make the corridors any larger when foot traffic was often in the single digits.

At some point within this facility, Nerys hadn't noticed the change, but she found herself standing before a door in a room that had no corridors connected. The door opened to a meeting room where other top officials of the Security Council were present, and greetings were exchanged as was customary before their briefing. At last, they all took their seat except for Nerys who rested her fingers on the table's edge. In the middle of this black-walled room, with its white halo lights, and featureless fixtures was their table and some chairs -- but in the centre of this table was a small orb whose size was no more than six inches in diameter, and if held would have felt like stone, but whose hardness rivalled that of a diamond.

This orb reflected no light and was completely opaque. The very sight of it defied perception, as its edge seemed almost malleable and indistinct until it was handled. Seemingly inanimate, those around the table spoke nothing of it. The object predated even the Commonwealth by an age that mattered little. Yet, they all could feel its presence as it rested there on its small stand.

"We have received a proposal, ladies and gentlemen," Nerys spoke, her gaze shifting to the faces around the room, "it is in regards to our advancements made under Project Glass. Specifically, our research has drawn the interest of other powers. The request has been made by these powers to join them in a joint research venture, it encompasses both great risks of unimaginable proportion, and great opportunities."

"Who are these powers?" one of the officials asked.

"The Phoenix Domain, the Eridani Imperium, and the Galactic Republic of Arkasia," the orb answered. The voice had cut through the silence like a whisper but carried with it the energy of a bomb as it spoke.

"That is correct," Nerys followed as she observed the Council's reactions.

Grand Admiral Serano, who represented the Navy in the Council, leaned forward in her chair with a creak. "We fought a war with the Eridani," she spoke, the room settled into silence, "How do we know they can be trusted? We are talking about sharing state secrets with foreign powers."

"They cannot be trusted. Not entirely. There will always be unforeseen motivations at work with interests that do not always align with ours. This is, however, a notable exception where our interests happen to align with theirs," the orb spoke.

"We have made our terms clear that this agreement would incorporate a non-aggression treaty with all parties involved," Nerys said.

"Such an arrangement would carry risks," the orb stated, "The technologies involved in Project Glass are dangerous to all life as we know it, and a matter that if mishandled would coax a hostile response from other parties whose technological prowess cannot be understated. The Macisikani would be of particular note. Were we to endeavour on such a venture, our participation and expectations need to be managed in a way that prevents this outcome. There is a practical benefit to this proposal: it aligns interests to prevent an arms race of four rising powers in their respective quadrants. Likewise, the sharing of research may yield beneficial results and cover certain gaps in our own understanding of these technologies and prevent disaster."

"Our intelligence on the matter shows that all four nations mentioned have made advancements in certain ways that could be of mutual benefit," Nerys added. "There are technologies we have explored that the others do not have or are just breaking the surface, and vice versa."

"So we are risking a monumental conflict that would make the Great War look like a cake-walk," Fieldmarshal Duval spoke up.

"It would not be so much of a war, as more of a minor annoyance for the parties that would initiate the hostility," the orb commented. "We have come a long way, but to think that any of the four powers at hand could sustain a conflict on such a scale against the others would be foolish."

"There is one other matter -- the Domain is a member of the Triumvirate," Nerys said.

"Are we thinking that they could be a potential leak for this proposed arrangement?" Serano asked curiously as she tilted her head towards the Empress. The notion wasn't out of line with their character. Nerys had mulled over the possibility herself, but she knew as well that the Domain's leaking of this would have its own risks. It was also a debate on transparency -- if the Domain were to be transparent with Yut about the four's intentions, there could well be a galactic war. But if they remained opaque on the matter and it eventually got out -- and Nerys knew that it would eventually, then the outcome would also be conflict.

The room fell eerily silent as the others mulled over the question which lingered in the air. "The Domain's potential to leak the matter is a definite possibility, but given their diplomatic nature, we would presume that their ability to manage tension in the Triumvirate would assuage some of its members' concerns and prevent direct conflict. It can be guaranteed that regardless of what agreement is made here, the Domain will likely be transparent with the members of Yut, and there will be a secret agreement amongst them to ensure some observation on our efforts. It is, however, the best outcome. Outright secrecy would precipitate conflict," the orb stated.

"This would mean exposing Icarus," Serano noted with a grimace.

"It would mean exposing a lot," Nerys quipped, "Icarus may well be the tip of the iceberg but once we move into testing, with as many resources as will be required between all four nations, evading systems like TRIPWIRE will become difficult. The reality is that we are all moving at relatively the same pace now, and this will ensure that there's a balance of power and some cooperation."

"By our judgement - we feel this to be a worthwhile proposal," the orb stated.

"We will need to brief the NSC," Serano said.

"Considering Project Glass is an imperial project, only three members of the committee have the necessary clearance. We can tell them only what they need to know. So it is settled then."

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The Eridani Imperium
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Postby The Eridani Imperium » Tue Aug 31, 2021 6:29 pm

”Seven Stars and seven stones and one White Tree.”
- Solvar Iceborn, Pocket Guide to the Empire: Ellanore, Downfallen Kingdom Reborn


Kingdom of Ellanore, Formenos System, Almaren
The Citadel of Ondosto
AMJRI Outpost


“Ser? What do you think of all this ‘holographic boundary’ stuff? Does it have any merit?”

Túrin, son of Aldarion, considered his answer as the Kadrian intern looked at him. After a moment, the Ellanorean spoke. “I’m not entirely sure myself - I’d need to look at the data we get from our Extraversal Studies people, but given the implications… I’d say it’s too good to be true, but I’ve been wrong before, and we have three other nations working with us. But enough of that - you have the files I requested?”

The Kadrian nodded, and handed over a dataslate. “It’s all here.”

Túrin took the slate, reading over the information on the page. “OIC, Oculus, Valkyrie, TRIPWIRE, whatever the UIK has up its sleeve - tools that gave their owners a set of eyes that can see the whole universe. The fact we don’t have one is a critical mistake I intend to correct. I’ll have a report and some schematics ready by the end of the day, and we’ll hopefully get the first telescopes in position by the end of the week.” The Ellanorean looked at his intern. “Of course, I’ll put your name in the report.”

“Thank you, ser!” The Kadrian smiled. “But I have a question, if you are willing to answer.”

“Ask, then.”

“What do you intend to name this array?”

Túrin put the dataslate under his arm. “My ancestors in Númenor had what were called Seeing-Stones, or Palantíri - it seems only right that I name it after one of them.”

“So it will be the Palantír Array?”

“Yes.”
Last edited by The Eridani Imperium on Tue Aug 31, 2021 8:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Alexzonya
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Postby Alexzonya » Tue Aug 31, 2021 10:10 pm

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a big gun."
- Maxim 24, from The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries



“Sir!” The holographic avatar of the Wiki-29-E support AI materializes in the office, the holographic falcon snapping a salute off with its wing. Admiral Shaw returns it the old-fashioned way.

“Lieutenant?”

“Sir. The Foundation Project team reports success. The anti-reality gun has been repaired and is ready for firing trial Foundation Alpha.”

“Excellent! I’m glad to see they’ve worked out the snags.”

“There is an additional discovery to report.”

“Oh?”

“As you know, the Foundation Alpha test was delayed due to a device misfire in the XV-06-AT site. With an armed device present, we were unable to dispatch our personnel to conduct field repairs. However, the repairs have been completed remotely.”

“Yes, I… repairs?” The Admiral frowns. “I was under the impression the issue was a signal transference issue.”

“That was the original suspected cause, sir, but further investigation has indicated that the device suffered a physical fault.”

“... go on.”

“In order to affect the repair, our team developed and deployed a remote piloted drone repaircraft. The parts list, beyond the drone itself, included quote ‘eight pairs of Eridani QE communicators, a laconium clock, and a modified MMI neuron swap protocol running on a blank sample exocortex’.”

“... you’re telling me they built a telepresence rig in order to fix the anti-reality gun?”

“Yes sir. A prototype, anyway. It doesn’t have the kind of bandwidth you’d need for ‘true telepresence’, but the Phoenixi seemed to think it was a good start.”

“Is that actually what they said?”

“... in so many words.”

“I see.” The Admiral pauses and considers. “This is good news. Thank you, Lieutenant. Set the Foundation Alpha firing test for tomorrow, 0930 Arkasian. Make sure the representatives from the other partners are there; I’d like to remind them we contribute more to this project than just the test sites.”

“Aye, sir.”

“Dismissed.”

The falcon disappears, and Admiral Shaw immediately pivots over to one side of his desk, where a peculiar device with physical keys sat. He sighs at the necessity, and then begins typing out a report, each stroke of the keys yielding a clack and a physical letter appearing on the sheet of physical paper, and the end of each line resulting in a ringing sound as the device skips to the next and reset. Meridian would want to know about this on the next courier, and he dared not entrust it to the GRA’s communications networks in their present state.



The next day, the representatives from the four member-nations of the AMJRI, as well as the C’tan observers, are able to observe the Foundation Alpha test-firing of the Anti-Reality Gun, encumbered only by light-lag to the telepresence drone on the other end, whose optics are relayed to the viewscreens. The weapon itself is mounted to a boxy superstructure; the diagrams in the briefing slides indicate that the weapon was sized for mounting in the spinal weapon hardpoint of GRA warships. In this regard, the Arkasians note that the prototype was a proof-of-concept that not only was such a weapon feasible, but that it could be controlled and leveraged as a weapon mounted on a warship of typical size; certainly, more ambitious than might have been wise, but the Arkasians had always valued the expediency of their crash engineering projects in yielding field-ready parts. Perhaps this cart-first approach was the result of that history.

Set up in front of the aperture, at various distances and viewed in sequence by the optics, are a number of test targets; panels of graphene sheets over alloy plating. It wasn’t strictly representative of real armor, but it would allow the Arkasians to ‘pattern’ the weapon and see if the secondary yields were in line with the original calculations.

That nothing happens on screen when the weapon controls are engaged and the ARG fires is almost anticlimactic, but only because of the light lag. The teams watch the monitors intently, until almost a minute later the light of the results appear; a sizeable hole had been bored through all targets simultaneously, which then resulted in a large secondary flash of matter annihilation that shreds what remained of the target squares, leaving fragments alive as testaments that the reality-warping effects of the weapon were temporary and had not touched off a total collapse of the test site.

The Arkasian engineering team bursts into cheers; the other nations may be as enthusiastic, or perhaps more reserved and reflective about progress along a road of purely destructive potential. Regardless, the Foundation Alpha test would be considered by the Arkasians as a success, with tantalizing insights into other technologies coming as a lovely, and unexpected, addition.
Last edited by Alexzonya on Fri Sep 03, 2021 7:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Phoenix Domain
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Postby Phoenix Domain » Wed Sep 01, 2021 8:38 am

"Would it work?" The question came from the senior administrator assigned to the Advanced Materials Joint Research Initiative.

"In theory, yes. One of the aspects of HBI technology is that you can set whatever parameters you like for the reality inside a boundary device. It stands to reason that you could encode the boundary in such a way that metastable entanglement is enforced." Cam Delavos responded, already running rudimentary simulations in his mind, "The real trick is ensuring that what comes out into our universe remains stable afterwards. We'd need to find the right configuration, but the theory is sound."

Administrator Saarens nodded and gestured to the door, "Get a team on it then. I'll arrange things with the other groups once we have a functional HBI printer."

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Alexzonya
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Postby Alexzonya » Wed Sep 01, 2021 9:01 am

"... oh. Huh," notes the Arkasian dryly, reading over the latest report from the Phoenixi. The lab she was in had been converted, somewhat hastily, for working with experimental telepresence equipment. A team had demonstrated proof-of-concept, as a result of some creative troubleshooting and kludges, during a previous unrelated test. Now the task fell to these dozen Arkasians to refine the technology and figure out how to produce more than a crude proof-of-concept repair drone.

"What?" Her colleague looked over, a bit concerned."News from the front?"

"No, thank the Stars. Just a new report from the Phoenixi team. Apparently being able to print particles in a metastable entanglement state with HBI isn't a given. They're looking into it now."

"Oh."

"Yeah. Guess we shouldn't have assumed that would be possible, in retrospect."

The second scientist rubs his forehead. "It has to be possible. How else would the Nimatoads produce enough pairs to remote their entire nation? Why wouldn't it be possible?"

"It's not my area," says the first, a bit defensively. "But if the Domain team has to figure it out, it can't be as obvious as we thought."

"Well. If we can't solve the Laconium clock constraint, it doesn't matter. Let's handle enormous technological constraints one at a time?"

She smiles. "Deal." Even on its own, being able to run the proof-of-concept rig without Laconium would be a significant step forward for the GRA, for whom the material was a quantity-limited import. The GRA had other ways of synchronizing references across universal boundaries, but none were perfectly precise enough for telepresence. If the GRA ever wanted the technology for more than improvised field repairs in test sites, they'd need to find another way.

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Postby The Ctan » Wed Sep 08, 2021 2:58 pm

The universe is not like a puzzle-box that you can take apart and put back together again and so solve its secrets. It is a shifting uncertain thing which changes as you consider it, which is changed by the very act of observation. A powerful man is not a man who dissects the universe like a puzzle-box, examining it piece by piece and measuring each piece with scientific precision. A powerful man has only to look upon the universe to change it.

Technomagos Gaelos, Ancestral Universe Philosopher

Image


“A lot of people imagine that progress is a linear scale where the Established are at twenty thousand points and the Ascendant are at sixteen thousand so we are better. People who’ve played traditional strategy games might think of technological progress as a tree, so we can go to different branches but we are all working on the same tree and the more points you have the more near you are to completing it. A better metaphor is a hyphal network of fungal stems, merging from different growths together, and reaching out further. The more plants that join the rhizome, the more ground it covers.

“Even if we know more in every field than the likes of Arkasia, there’s a decent chance that they’ll happen to uncover something that we don’t know, just by bringing in a new perspective, and that is worth keeping tabs on. We are just as interested in the other civilizations within the ‘Established’ set, but this is an opportunity for us. The Ascendant will not stay distinct from the current Established for long. And it’s always easier to get people to tell you what they’re doing than to find out through deduction.”

Altáma nos Laicasanwë was old, even by the standards of Menelmacar, from which he had originally come. The special projects directors of the Great Civilization’s Triarch Council had largely been recruited by Ranisath himself in the days of the Seroi Republic, centuries ago, but he was the oldest by far. He was old enough that he had long ago entered his third cycle of life. That gave an unusual perspective but like all his colleagues he was particularly good at the niche field of bringing different fields together, a synthesis of engineering, science and cultural ambition. He was a qualified physicist and engineer, though he had not practised either art directly for many centuries and not at the cutting edge.

“I can see the benefit of being an observer,” Su-Jin said, “but we are also moving beyond observation with this project.”

Su-Jin was young, the opposite of Altáma, who had lived ten thousand generations before the Great Civilization was born. She had been elected to the senate only this year, she was sixty-eight which here was young even by human standards. In less developed cultures she would be showing age but she looked in her twenties and would do so without limit. She had come with questions about the project, oversight of the affairs of the sprawling Great Civilization was a part of the Senate’s job.

“The Ascendants have a goal in mind,” Altáma said, “ultimately they want to catch up with the Established, but that means that they are looking to develop the same capabilities, though their implementations will obviously be different. We are not going to give them any knowledge, nor are we in the business of doing so, any direct help outside of our standard policies regarding medical and other direct quality of life boosting developments is quite outside our mandate here. Arguably, but only arguably, we are providing material assistance. We are observing, but they are getting no more than the message saying ‘we see you’ which they would get if they pointed a remote viewer system at Duat,” Altáma said.

“And yet we seem to be going beyond that,” she gestured toward the display before them. She was known as an advocate of scientific research sharing, and an advocate of easing the Great Civilization’s restrictions on uplifting other cultures, but still she had to ask.

“They want astro-strategic parity. Among other things, that means they want TRIPWIRE, Argus and similar long-range sensing technologies.” Altáma said. “We would be too if we did not use esoteric divination quite so much; we haven’t set out to build a major array into our strategic planning though. It’s a more attractive option for civilizations who use certain types of FTL; given that we’re now integrating tesseract jump engines into our particular fungal-spread, I think we should look into a similar system ourselves.”

“We hardly need assistance if we want to build a large remote array," Su-Jin said, "the principles are well understood. Not much different from the Celestial Orrery and other legacy artefacts.”

Altáma nodded his agreement. “That's true, but this is intended to reduce the utility of existing technologies as they proliferate. There are ways to ameliorate the advantages of remote observation that are already well established. FTL interdiction is the big one, if it affects the systems being used. One cannot bypass it for that purpose any more than anything else. The Kiharian project takes a different approach though. It’s one we’ve used on sensitive locations since before the Great Sleep.”

They were aboard the Wigner’s Friend (whose ident changed, a play upon its specialism, to the appropriate scientific metaphor in whatever culture it was talking to, it’s necrontyr name translated to Vantharivash’s Telegram) an Aurora-class science vessel, its hyperlight engines weaving through a volume of space designated for testing.

Ostensibly the ship’s mission was to assist observation on the Advanced Materials Joint Research Initiative by evaluating project results for the nations involved. Observation only. The name was meaningful though, for to observe was not to be set aside from the thing observed, at least not in quantum physics.

Su-Jin watched their progress on a soligram projector showing their position out among the galaxy’s halo of globular clusters. The ship’s fields blocked any realspace view as the ship hurtled through space, sweeping through the interstellar void. The Aurora-class held the latest model displacers, which did not need to revert from hyperspeed to deposit objects in real space. It was still travelling relatively cautiously as it displaced thousands of drones from its manufacturing bays.

“So these platforms use waveform collapse to report when they’re observed, right?”

“Correct,” Altáma said.

“How does that work? How do we know they’re not reporting on say, a random passing ship?” Su-Jin asked.

“The same as an old-fashioned radiation dosimeter,” Altáma asaid, “if you want to know what’s hitting you, you stack multiple tests together at once. They have multiple indeterminacy matrices, just looking with optical sensors might trigger one of them, while scanning them with a high-level system another, and sweeping spacetime metric near them a third. It’s much more complex than that, and I will admit the engineering for them is well above my head,” he said, “but they functionally know they’re being looked at. They also have their own sensors, and QE chatter between local nodes, when one is observed, the others wait and triangulate the observer position.

“Then the ones further out in the web also use metric reading to determine the source of a remote observation point as the light cone hits them. They report not only that they’ve been triggered but a hypothetical of who by – looking at the signature – and where from they have been scanned from.”

“Right, I know of some of that, we’ve had this for a good long while, and have been using waveform collapse to detect even passive sensor engagement for longer,” Su-Jin said, “are we just showing this off to the Ascendants?”

“Not at all, we’re not telling them how it’s done, or what it is, merely inviting them to fire up their arrays for a series of long-range tests outside the galaxy. We give them the thumbs up for whether we think it is working well, but how we’re spotting it, that’s their problem to figure out. That’s why we’re seeding these around difficult locations, neutron stars, pulsars, magnetars, black holes, and other sites of relatively high natural sheer, as well as some artificial sties, grav generators, etc. Then we ask the Domain, Hypatians, Arkasians and Eridani to see how they’re running on targets like this as they propagate the tech. And just give them some feedback. It’s enough for them to know that a detection system is possible, they can figure out the science for it on their own.”

“And knowing it’s possible is eighty per cent of the way to discovering something,” Su-Jin “I can see how this might win us some friends.”

“And of course, your committee has directed us to seek to limit propagation of interstellar weapons,” Altáma said, “we’re not showing off how our shields work, but quantum entanglement and a sharp set of shields and FTLi would already greatly reduce the chances of an interstellar alpha strike.”

“Ah,” she said. “Yes, I can see how that would work, if the targets can scoot when they’re being targeted the ‘fire wildly with long-guns’ approach is less attractive by far.”

Altáma nodded, “Ultimately the dream engagement for many of the Established against an Ascendant is for them to be able to sweep systems and even whole regions of the galaxy. Ideally shooting them like fish in a barrel without detection or reprisal. Knowledge of waveform collapse detection will let the Ascendants – and of course in short order the Established, given how information wants to be free – detect the scan phase of that engagement and activate countermeasures, and potentially look toward source-detection and countermeasures.”

The Great Civilization did not, overall, relish the idea of interstellar weaponry, if Su-Jin and her colleagues had their way there would be a strict arms reduction treaty, but sadly the cosmos was not a planetary surface and treaties were of limited value when a rogue actor could emerge at short notice. The next best thing was to keep one’s weapons handy for deterrence. But in the nightmare ‘dark forest’ scenario where one civilization began to purge another with interstellar weapons and no one could identify the shooter, deterrence could not deter aggression unless it was omnidirectional.

The best response for a civilization targeted extensively with superluminal weapons if they could not identify their assailant was to retaliate evenly against all likely candidates; potentially resulting in the kind of war that could reduce much of the Great Wheel galaxy and its group to cinders. Such things kept Su-Jin and her colleagues up at night.

“I see, and the reason you wanted me to look at this in particular, Altá, I know you well enough to know that you have more in mind.”

He smiled, and picked up a glass of cordial, “Of course,” he said, “I want the next wave of Cultural Survey Drones to be upgraded with this same capacity.” Cultural Survey Drones had been a leviathan accomplishment for the Great Civilization, as it stirred from the Great Sleep, hundreds of billions of drones deployed by hyperspeed vessels to almost every star system within the Great Wheel, they were sensors that reported back on local cultures, as the name said. They had other tools in their several meters of aggressively skittish frames but this wasn’t one currently deployed. Naturally, some polities had chased them out, and now and then someone took a pot-shot at one in an isolated system and it needed replacement.

They had moved beyond the Great Wheel and its satellites long ago and the majority of new drones were being deployed in distant galaxies today.

“So that we can track who’s peeking at whom?” Su-Jin smiled widely. “I think I can give my vote to that, yes. That would be very interesting data, a worthwhile upgrade, I take it we won’t be so lucky as to have it be something the drones can upgrade themselves to do.”

“I put that one to Xolotl,” Altáma said, “sadly no, it does mean we’ll need to bring the replacement cycle forward on the network.”
"If any should be slaves, it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly those who desire it for others. When I hear anyone arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally." ~ Abraham Lincoln
"The Necrons were amongst the first beings to come into existance, and have sworn that they will rule over the living." - Still surprisingly accurate!
"Be you anywhere from Progress Level 5 or 6 and barely space-competent, all the way up to the current record of PL-20 for beings like the C’Tan..." Lord General Superior Rai’a Sirisi, Xenohumanity
"Many races and faiths have considered themselves to be a threat to the Necrons, but their worlds and their cultures are now little more than interesting archaeology."

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Hypatian Commonwealth
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Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Wed Sep 08, 2021 8:28 pm

Jackie's Keep, Location Unknown

The funding was secured. Delaney wasn't sure how Janette pulled it off but the details didn't matter, what mattered was that they had gathered everything they needed for this very demonstration. Delaney was perhaps more cautiously optimistic than Janette, who seemed almost anxious and nervous on her feet with her constant stepping from side to side and pacing. It wouldn't be the first time they had committed to a possible breakthrough and it simply fizzled leaving months of work to be for nought.

"Please, take a deep breath," Delaney said as he took her by the shoulders. "It will work," he said, "you just need to have some faith in your own work."

Janette looked at him and sharply inhaled, held it, then gently exhaled. His reassurance was effective, she could think a little more clearly, and the tingling in her hands had stopped. She rubbed them and considered what it was they were trying to accomplish. They had conducted several experiments over the last several months on a smaller scale to test a theory; a theory based on over a century of research but with a new application that could unlock an entire world of technologies and scientific ambition. Months of planning and exasperation had led to this very moment to answer a deceivingly simple question: Could they take matter and turn it into a hologram, and if so, could they turn that hologram back into matter?

Janette collected herself and turned on the screens that relayed the sensor data from an arsenal of equipment they had focused on a small patrol skiff. The skiff was anchored to a platform that itself was attached to the device they had tirelessly worked on. The device in question, which Janette had named 'Dotty', looked like a large saucer with a thick rim and a mess of cables and pipes protruding out from its base. Beneath 'Dotty' was a robotic arm holding it in place.

"Alright, we have the skiff in our sights," Janette said with a grin. She placed a hand on the button that would initiate the demonstration and took a breath. Delaney placed his hand over hers and the two looked at each other.

"Are you ready?" he asked. She nodded. Together they pressed the button. An automated voice announced over the comms.

Initiating. Beginning Demonstration. 3... 2... 1...

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Alexzonya
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Postby Alexzonya » Wed Sep 08, 2021 9:16 pm

“If it will blow a hole in the ground, it will double as an entrenching tool.”
- Maxim 44, from The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries


“Dr. Merchant? The Eridani have an idea for the reality parameter shift device. I wanted you to take a look at it and see if it makes sense to you.”

“Yeah, fine… what is this?”

“So, the last few weeks, we’ve been playing through different settings of the device in XV-03, figuring out how to manipulate different reality constants. Short version is that it’s amazing we didn’t figure out that these are more than FTLi by accident. And the long version is that… you know which part is the ‘tuning rod’, right?”

“Yes, I know which one is the ‘tuning rod’.” The doctor’s glare is pointed. “The fact that I also know that the correct term for the component is the ‘enactor’ doesn’t mean I don’t know what you fleet monkeys call it.”

The technician looked affronted, though the doctor doesn’t seem to care. “Well, the tuning rod is the key to the entire thing. We already knew it ‘didn’t work’ unless it took a very particular resonance. But it turns out, the resonance is just changing which universal variables are being altered, and by how much. Just most don’t do anything obvious. And we can build a rod that can change resonance by command, in meaningful ways.”

The man nods. “Alright… that’s impressive,” he concedes, a bit sheepishly. “I’ve been spending too much time on the telepresence rig, I missed this entirely.” He thinks. “I bet it’s because we stole this tech. This FTLi was originally the Trinity’s…”

“And they got it from another precursor… who probably got it from another precursor. Whoever last knew that these were a niche single-use application of a much more flexible technology was dead at least three civilizations ago, and the rest of us just kept copying it, with no idea what we had. I bet the Old Arkasians were right on top of getting this figured out when the calamity hit them too, looking at the Datalinks, but then we all got reset and it got lost in the shuffle.”

The man nods again. “Right… well I guess not all of you fleet technicians are monkeys,” he amends. “So, this enactor design… Stars that’s a weird looking one… what is it supposed to do?”

“Sets the reference frame shift in the local field to null.”

“... actually?”

“I mean, in theory. There’s too many moving parts; we simulated it a few million times based on our initial observation set and known fixed anomaly readings and are now making new designs to test and see how close we got. When you set it for reference frame shift = null, you get… this.”

“The Eridani figured this out?”

“It was their idea. I’m the one that did the calc on the rod, though. Any chance we can test it? I’ll even let you be the third author on the paper.”

“... deal.”
Last edited by Alexzonya on Wed Sep 08, 2021 9:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Hypatian Commonwealth
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Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Fri Sep 10, 2021 11:50 am

Jackie's Keep, Location Unknown

"Did it work?" Delaney asked. It hadn't. They were both still staring at the same data they had been staring at moments before they pressed the button. The ship was still there and nothing had changed. It seemed that their experiment would be a dud, much to the dismay of Janette who began to frantically recheck her work. Delaney grabbed her, trying to persuade her to give it up, but she wouldn't budge.

"No!" she shouted, throwing her hands up in protest. "I checked everything. I checked everything! It worked in the lab, why didn't it work? Please, why didn't it work?" she pleaded. Delaney didn't have an answer. They could have missed something, it could have been as simple as not carrying the one, or a fault with the machinery. None of that would have been helpful for Janette, who had gone from calm and hesitant to spiralling.

"Jan--please. We can revisit it later, you need to calm down," Delaney urged. He was curious over why it hadn't worked, he couldn't deny himself that. It was perhaps this curiosity that made him take notice of an observation. The telemetry data was wrong on one of the screens. He stepped aside, taking Janette aback who stared at him bewildered.

"What is it?" she asked and looked at the same screen. They hadn't holographed the ship. The experiment had failed in that regard. What they had done, however, was holograph the entire station. Delaney pulled up the communications array and omni-sensors used by the station to keep in contact with the rest of Jackie's Keep, but there was nothing. The data was scrambled, awash with noise. Static.

"We did it," Delaney gasped, "Fuck."

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Alexzonya
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Postby Alexzonya » Sun Nov 14, 2021 8:13 pm

"Don't bring big grenades into small rooms."
- Maxim 61, from The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries


"We're connected and stable... the board is green, ready to commence the test on your mark."

"Understood, Lieutenant, thank you." Admiral Shaw reports, as he stares out into the void of the test universe, experiencing it almost-seamlessly through the sensors of the TV-02 Telepresence rig. A far cry from the humanoid rigs used by other nations, the TV-02 was a spaceborne observation and repair unit, almost ten meters in its longest dimension and controlled by a MMI system with plenty of supplemental processing to assist Shaw’s exocortex in controlling a form so different from his own. Still, after a bit of practice, he could flit expertly along the interior void of the test universe, which remained vacant but for the small assemblage of reactors and apparatus near the center. “Mark in 10… 9… 8… 7… 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Mark!”

The device in the middle pulses, projecting a field out of the front of it and freezing the reference frame of the space it encapsulates. For a moment the sensor results look exactly right. Everything stops. And then it all goes to hell.

The test universe tears open along the seams of the stasis field, appearing as a glaring red scar on the sensors. Back in the command center in the NS-01 universe, alarms blare.

“Universal integrity failing… shit, it’s coming apart! I need...”
“Standby… we’re desyncing. Repeat, sync is failing, the reference frames are...”
“The mechanisms are locked up. We can’t disengage the field…”
“Sensors are lighting up… something else is in there!”
“What the hell is it? Oh Stars Beyond, the barriers are failing! Repeat, barriers are failing. Deploying emergency interdiction now…”

“Initiate the emergency breakaway, that’s an order!” Admiral Shaw had come back to himself, snapping back out of the TV-02 device and back into the command center as he stepped a big groggily out of the module’s connection station. “I’m declaring a site emergency. Lock us down, no one in or out, interdiction to full power, until we figure out what the hell is going on.” Shaw grimaced, as he viewed the sensors, showing seven perfectly normal test universes… and one going to hell in a handbasket, warping and collapsing and expanding and flying apart, and tearing into the barrier between itself and NS-01 as it did. Reinforced with every bit of power the Arkasians at the blacksite could muster, the border was stable for now... but only just.

These pocket universes are designed to fail safely… what the hell happened?
Last edited by Alexzonya on Mon Nov 15, 2021 12:33 am, edited 2 times in total.

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The Ctan
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Postby The Ctan » Mon Nov 15, 2021 1:26 am

The Horizon pattern survey ship was a substantial piece of starcraft, the best part of half an Ater long, a little over five kilometers in human terms, the ship was clearly a product of the Necrontyr’s tastes, a wide circle with a bite taken out of it, resembling a crescent, suggestive of the lunar eclipses of a world with a smaller shadow than the lunar disc at its front. It was easily identified as a non-combat vessel by the domes that dotted its ventral surface, more in line with Yldari tastes than Necrontyr, but for all that it had the same core systems as a warship.

The vessel was known generally as the Single-Event Upset, and had been watching from a quiet distance for some time, though the Great Civilization wasn’t a participant in the programme as such it had been asked to provide an observer team and that consisted of the Single-Event Upset and its residents, a sizable gaggle of academics, thrill-seekers and curious types.

Right now the majority of that crew was still trying to catch up to events, as the ship had gone from local stop to high distort motion in short notice, the inertial compensators inside the vessel were in slight overdrive.

“Mother fucker,” Riantha said, wading through treacle, it was difficult to even get out of the chair, she had a moment of stomach-lifting halting and the inertials were back on their usual settings. “What’s going on?”

“I’m pillaging the Arkasian station,” the shipmind said, the shimmering avatar appearing, the Singe-Event appeared as a human man in his unaugmented seventies, leaning on a cane, well preserved white hair swept back, spy in his bearing despite his septuagenarian appearance.

“Oh dear,” Riantha said, “what did they do?”

“Malefica of some sort in the breach, just giving them a hand.”

“I can’t help but notice you also just stole a chunk of the Arkasian station,” Riantha said. There were no windows, she had bidden her hekatic halo to give her a feed from the ship’s external sensors.

“It’s a logistics bay, they don’t need it,” the ship said. The station looked like a giant cosmic dog had bitten it, and a chunk torn off into space, tensor beams had torn it away and then it had vanished, reappearing in one of the cylindrical holes that dotted the Single-Event Upset’s forward section.

“Did you ask?”

“No,” the avatar said, giving a malicious little smile.

“Look, just because back in the War in Heaven you could take anything that wasn’t nailed down…”

“Fire-fighter’s privilege!” the shipmind declared, “I wanted bulk mass for the probe casings while I feed in the exotics from my own reserves, and if they don’t get the situation under control, then the whole station’s gone in ten minutes anyway. Also my inner pedant notes that the logistics bay was in fact nailed down.”

“I hate that that makes sense,” she said.

Her hekatic array gave her a read through the ship’s systems of its traffic logs, set to emergency mode the displacers and transmat projectors had ransacked the experimental station’s silos for its stock of eighteen thousand probes as it had come alongside, and cast all but five of them into their intended positions from the station telemetry. The five others had been ablation-scanned and were now being replicated at pace, the internal fabricatories of the Single-Event Upset spitting out more of them by the second.

Time would tell if this was enough.
Last edited by The Ctan on Mon Nov 15, 2021 1:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
"If any should be slaves, it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly those who desire it for others. When I hear anyone arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally." ~ Abraham Lincoln
"The Necrons were amongst the first beings to come into existance, and have sworn that they will rule over the living." - Still surprisingly accurate!
"Be you anywhere from Progress Level 5 or 6 and barely space-competent, all the way up to the current record of PL-20 for beings like the C’Tan..." Lord General Superior Rai’a Sirisi, Xenohumanity
"Many races and faiths have considered themselves to be a threat to the Necrons, but their worlds and their cultures are now little more than interesting archaeology."

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Postby The Ctan » Tue Nov 16, 2021 5:06 pm

Stepping from the teleportation platform and its vertical black pillars, Adoness Nambra M'Haaren ita Novokh looked down the corridor that ran from it heading outward. She could feel the hub’s mantle-spells invigorating her as she walked through the corridors. The hub was fitted out in the middle Rucien style, long sweeping curves of metal over a translucent dappled crystal that divided the corridors. The armourglass window before her opened out onto a panorama that looked at a band of blue-green in the distance. The hub was a city-sized station in its own right, Sixteen Ater high and four at a midsection where walkways and observation areas ran around its rim, looking at the curve below. Nambra could see the glimmering ocean of Uláu but no more of her home than this, even with eyes as sharp as hers she would need to magnify the image to see specific geographic details on the orbital’s inner track.

Ilcathelma-Aritane was the oldest post-sleep orbital built by the Great Civilization, and the first of its kind in the galaxy as far as Nambra was aware, save the original Yut ring if one counted planetary-anchored rings. it was slimmer than its more modern cousins, only about a hundred Ater wide, a touch over a thousand kilometres, and with regular runs of spill-mountains and inter-walls, it was a little over-built compared to those being built today, but still popular. Home to more than fourteen billion people, by many standards it was terribly under-populated. Nambra could sail or fly or walk from her home without seeing anyone else for hours. Here on the hub though there were crowds, and Nambra had to navigate her way through them.

It wasn’t the only place to dock, far from it, every plate on the orbital had its own docks and shipyards, millions of them, but the Hub was by far the best place to meet off-world visitors, and constant traffic could be seen coming and going around the Hub. But the Hub Equatorial Galleries were popular for their view more than anything and ringed with arcades and servo-hostelries, nooks for small liaisons, shrines and rest stops and spaces for larger reunions and departures.

Even linked by teleporters, portals and inertialess drive such that no part of the Great Wheel was more than a few minutes travel away, liminal places still held their importance. This was where Ilcathelma-Aritane began and the rest of the universe ended.

Her colleague was waiting for her, and she smiled, “Alae,” she said, a local greeting, extending her hands outward, resting them on the lower of his four arms, as he laid his own palms atop hers, looking down at her. “I trust you are well, Anau?”

Anau’s name was more properly Anau Thaltorum Prescet of House Thao, Clan Tua. To Nambra all the most common species of the Great Civilization were hung up on status and titles, humans among them, but Alau’s people even more so. Timeless nomadic star voyagers, his people treasured their titles and history like dragons with their hoards.
They rivalled the Necrontyr’s tendency there, though Alau was too conscientious to make too much of that virtue with her. “Very well,” he said, “and does time find you in health?”

“It does,” she said, a small smile as he played on her paternal lineage’s traditions, not so wrapped up in status, but with customs all their own. “Come, let us find somewhere to talk a while,” she said.

They walked around the gallery, a little away from the windows where sight-seers lingered. Alau’s pace was longer than her own and his tightly pinned garments of shimmersilk and living metal emphasised his willowy build. As they walked they spoke about their common interest and work, the teasing out of knowledge from the universe’s indelible memory, before moving on to discuss family matters. As Nambra was asking after the health and achievements of Alau’s daughter, he spoke of the recent incident that had concerned him.

“Kyari was with the Single-Event Upset this last pass, and they were in combat. This is surprising for a Horizon. Their mission was to support the Ascendant Powers in their understanding of the nature of space-time. During the spindown cycle of one of their experiments, a hostile entity attempted ingress, and gained some traction.”

“I hadn’t heard about that,” she said, “one moment,” she added, reaching out to the jewel that she used as an interface, she did not have a hekatic array or a full halo, the technologies used by the Great Civilization’s people varied wildly and Nambra was not too concerned with following the latest trends. She walked along with Alau for several minutes, the psionic device was complex enough to serve as a neural interface computer, and she was able to process plenty of information with it. While she inloaded the data she asked about Kyari’s health and assured that Alau’s daughter was well, she resumed the conversation shortly after.

“I think, all things considered, they did rather well. There was no major incursion and given what they were doing. I see that we didn’t just suggest going in that they built the thing with a negative-energy shunt to zero out the sub-reality the moment they had an ‘infovore’ problem. I know most of our tech along those lines has a contingent nullifier built-in.”

“Our task was not to suggest ideas,” Alau said, “but it was still concerning, they move very quickly at things they poorly understand.”

“I seem to recall that our Necrontyr friends did a lot of that.”

“Much to the loss of the Ancestral Universe, it must be said.”

“This is a truth,” she agreed, “but the point remains, we learn by our mistakes, not by our plans constructed in the air.”

“Do you think our current project will prove to be a mistake?”

“If it is, we won’t be telling anyone else so quickly. It would have been prudent for them to keep their own counsel a while and agree on a narrative.”

“Spoken like a true disciple of Mephet’ran,” he laughed.

“I barely know Ranisath!” her voice rose to an ironic falsetto, the expression carrying necrontyr-indicators of colloquial speech; false pretence was difficult in the language if you wanted to keep the clarity rules; “Debatable that I know him that well,” she corrected, giving in to the relentlessly unpoetic language. As much as the language was useful as an auxiliary language and technical dialect, she did yearn for her mother tongue at times like this.

“Perhaps. What concerns me is that they did not speak to Kyari’s people about the matter. They knew that the help that we would offer would be limited by our agreement to observe primarily and limit our assistance, then they immediately sought out aid at the first incident, which was within their own capability to manage as far as was known at the time. If they were truly able to handle such things then they would not have been so panicked.”

“You’ve got to put yourself in their shoes,” a metaphor that worked for both their species, “they are very concerned that the whole cosmos might be thin-ice; I’m not even sure the Menelmacari are wholly disabused of that notion. A lot of other societies are a lot less sanguine about these kinds of intrusions than we are. A few bad experience is enough to leave a paranoia pretty deeply embedded in the national psyche; we’re unusual, not typical.”

He gave a noise that she knew was the equivalent of a human ‘humph’ as they finally found an unoccupied micro-caf that suited their needs, they’d walked a little way and taken a ten-degree turn over the orbital’s surface, the windows showing the terminator as the artificial world revolved. “We might be, but the whole affair annoys me, Kyari told me something similar, that one has too much of your generation in her.”

Nambra contrived to look offended. “You should never tell an elf you’re older than her, it’s bad manners!” she said. The statement at least passed within the necrontyr language, and she broke the rules slightly by framing it without an indicator of jest. For one long moment, Alau stared at her, then gave a soft chuffing laugh as he called a tall glass from the menu, the synthesis surface of the table creating within it an ice cold glass of a pale drink that had layers in it, high salt content.

“I will allow that,” he said, sipping under the faceguard that obscured his jaw, she had wondered sometimes what kind of jaw he had but hadn’t been willing to look it up. “Still, it is proof that we should think twice before entrusting any responsibilities to some of that group.”

“I don’t think that’s fair,” Nambra said. “The clean up looks to have gone as well as could be expected.” She took a glass of her own from the machine, with a dry elquesstria.

“It’s more that they don’t trust themselves on their own recognizance,” Alau said, lifting his glass. “To your good health, etriel.”

She was flattered again by his attention to custom. They spoke no more of the intrusion, for interest-only held so far in such matters here in the Saggitarius Stellar Stream, there was always other news to talk over long before they circled back to discussing their common interest.
"If any should be slaves, it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly those who desire it for others. When I hear anyone arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally." ~ Abraham Lincoln
"The Necrons were amongst the first beings to come into existance, and have sworn that they will rule over the living." - Still surprisingly accurate!
"Be you anywhere from Progress Level 5 or 6 and barely space-competent, all the way up to the current record of PL-20 for beings like the C’Tan..." Lord General Superior Rai’a Sirisi, Xenohumanity
"Many races and faiths have considered themselves to be a threat to the Necrons, but their worlds and their cultures are now little more than interesting archaeology."

User avatar
Alexzonya
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Posts: 250
Founded: Aug 05, 2012
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Alexzonya » Fri Jan 14, 2022 9:33 pm

“The workup here on the holographic boundary is… interesting. Could we actually deploy this, Dr. Beckett?” Admiral Shaw rubs his chin, hardly flinching at how different it felt. He had survived his little run-in with the Taken, thanks to the quick actions of the Phoenix Domain’s representative on-site, but his original form had required enough reconstruction from the damage that he had, after much careful consideration, decided to replace it entirely. The new Shaw looks twenty years younger, buffer, a hair taller… but otherwise remarkably similar, having been grown for him from an extract of his original DNA.

“In theory. We’d have to do some scale testing first, and obviously a solar-scale deployment is going to require laying a bit of groundwork.” The lead scientist of the gaggle gestures at the air. “It would require a fair bit of funding, but under the circumstances…” The beefy, orange-haired human scientist looks about 25; in practice, he’s nearly 100, but the wonders of the exocortex meant his sleeve’s age was much less than his own (and bore little enough resemblance to his original form).

“This is basically a pop-up Dyson swarm. I would assume it could recoup the startup costs without much difficulty.”

“Yes… but it’s not perfect. Between the costs of sustaining the boundary and the inefficiency lost to conversion, we’re looking at something like a tenth of the total process efficiency of our traditional methods, even at the theoretical maximum. In practice, I’d expect half that. From the looks of it, holographic shrouds are good for building up fast, but they aren’t the most efficient mechanism for using starpower. If you shroud a thousand stars the lost efficiency is a bit less of a concern, but we’re not looking at that scale.. yet.”

Shaw squints, and takes a moment to review the equations, one by one. Two minutes pass. “The lossiest part is the mass-energy conversion?” he asks, confirming. “I guess I’m not surprised.”

“Yes sir, got it in one. You don’t get anything for free. The holographic shroud can, theoretically, capture energy pretty much as well as our traditional collectors, but holographic assembly is massively inefficient relative to just cutting up a big rock and then building additively. It has advantages in that you don’t need a logistics chain to use it, but you can improve the energy-efficiency of production by about an order of magnitude if you’re willing to put in the legwork.”

“So, set aside the efficiencies for a second. How close are we to field tests on holographic shrouds?”

“Small scale? If we drag the others in directly to tap their expertise, we’re looking at… weeks. Three to five, optimistically. If that goes well, it would be relatively straightforward to build a proof-of-concept shroud at a limited scale. The primary constraint behind a complete shroud, after that, is construction of the requisite components. The largest capability gap is in our quantum entanglement, uh… well. I’ll let Dr. Herrbrecker brief you on that. It’s his area.”

Shaw nods. “Make it so, then; let’s hear it.” The two of the scientists trade places.

“Admiral Shaw, I am Dr. Herrbrecker, head of our Quantum…” The man appeared human, and he was… mostly. Peninsularian by birth, and poached from one a university’s theoretical physics department during the SATMA era by the dual promises of riches: first financial, from lavishly funded government research programs; and second scientific, as the Arkasians’ programs in his field were decades or centuries ahead of pre-contact Peninsular. Still, with Peninsular now a part of AMJRI, there was a betting pool as to if (and when) Herrbrecker would return to his homeland’s employ.

“Yes, Dr. Herrbrecker, I remember you,” interrupts Shaw. “From last briefing. Please, spare me the formalities and just fill me in on the gap; we’re short on time already.”

“Right. So, the short version is… there’s good and bad news. The good news is that we’ve figured out a way to direct and program holographic processes without laconium. The bad news is that it requires massive quantities of quantum-entangled particles, which as you know are in short supply. However! We have also determined, based on research conducted by the Phoenix Domain, that a holographic fabrication system should be able to produce metastable quantum-entangled particles itself. So, as Dr. Beckett just mentioned… well. His team needs proof of concept and small-scale shroud tests to make sure everything actually works. My team needs them so we have a way to produce enough quantum-entangled particles so we can actually build the full-sized models.”

“The idea, I assume, is that we use the linked quantum states of the particles to provide reference frame sync and direct the holographic boundary from real space?”

“Correct. Here, I have all of the details on…”

“I’ll review them later, and follow up if I have any questions,” replies Shaw, interrupting again. “Dr Os’ana, my apologies for squeezing you, but I’m going to need you to give me the high-level.”

The scientists shuffle again, with an Altreshi economist taking the lead position.

“Thank you Admiral, my pleasure. In short, we believe that we have developed a preliminarily viable efficiency algorithm, based on the calculations done by Dr. Beckett’s team, for optimizing energy, matter, and time efficiencies in a complex system like the Arkasian economy. This algorithm can dynamically determine the optimal allocation of production from a holographic shroud. This allocation will consist of the components: producing realspace dyson swarm shrouds and supporting infrastructure to improve the long-run production possibilities frontier, producing either raw materials or manufactured goods to improve the short-run production possibilities frontier, or pure production of energy to be combined with raw material and existing infrastructure to produce one of the two above.”

“... right. That’s the short version?”

“We figured out a way to tell holographic dyson shrouds what to produce, given their enormous flexibility but poor efficiency.”

“This isn’t going to be a bunch of arbitrary coefficients again, is it Dr. Os’ana?”

“All of science is arbitrary coefficients, Admiral Shaw,” replies Os’ana; two the physicists appear to disagree, from their expressions.

“I see. Thank you. We can…”

“Oh, one other thing. The model does predict that, for a finite starfield, eventually most holographic production capabilities will be converted to conventional production, with holographic capacity remaining only as limited, but valuable, ‘flex’ production capacity and for any materials or production that favors their use… like those quantum particulates Dr. Herrbrecker mentioned.”

The starfield is defacto infinite, thinks Shaw, but he isn’t inclined to let things drag on, least of all with the economist. He nods. “Thank you, all three of you. Your updates, as always, have been invaluable. Dr. Beckett, Dr. Herrbrecker, your teams have my clearance to produce and proceed to an Alpha Stage test of a holographic shroud. Please inform me of your progress regularly.”
Last edited by Alexzonya on Fri Jan 14, 2022 9:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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