There Are No Exceptions (FT; Open)

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
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Founded: Aug 09, 2006
Corporate Police State

There Are No Exceptions (FT; Open)

Postby Rethan » Thu Dec 28, 2017 8:26 pm

OOC: Felt like writing this. If you want in on the RP please just send me a TG beforehand to let me know what you plan on doing. If anything, I'm looking for a small scale character thing. Honestly I wrote this mostly as fluff, but if anybody wants in I'm ok with that. I just need to write something.
Extinction is the rule. Survival the exception.
-Carl Sagan

You are waking after almost six years in cold storage. Your chest burns as you start to breathe, the bones and muscles crack with exertion as life is forced back into them. Your limbs refuse all commands to move. Your thoughts trickle from the back of your mind as sludge, oily and indistinct. Bones creak and snap as they are forcefully realigned. Waking up is agonising, and it takes a very long time. Nerves start to fire as electricity is forced into them, causing muscle spasms and pain in equal measures.

You cannot tell whether you are blind, or your eyes have simply not been turned on yet.

You inhale as deeply as you can through your nose and cough as slush and bitter chemicals force their way down your airways. You trust it will vaporise in your lungs, though at least if you drown it will all be over. More nerves fire without being told to, your leg twitches and spasms. You involuntarily headbutt the chamber wall. This has always been your least favourite part of your hobby.

Three hours later you stumble from your cryopod naked and freezing. Your eyes are still not working, but the implants in them have started to pump information to your brain. You can see without seeing, which will suffice for now. Slushed, half-frozen nutrients ooze and slide from every part of your body. Gel packs, implanted in each arm, each leg, your spine and between your breasts kick into life. They burn as they inject the needed hormones and ingredients to properly bring you back to life. The pack on your chest does so directly into your heart. You feel something that you might describe as life flourish there.

Welcome back to the world of the living, Sascha Roshanak. You are in desperate need of a hot shower. You also need hot food, but you will not be able to stomach it for another five hours. Your implants are piping messages from your ship to you, an avalanche of numbers and diagrams your mind is still much too close to dead to decipher.

Start with the shower.

Sascha resurfaced twelve hours after showering, floating into the Observatory dressed in simple civilian attire. No cause to wear anything more than trousers and a shirt while she was still getting her bearings. The ship’s Maitre had been streaming data to her implants throughout her entire ‘morning routine’, but without plugging into the Observatory directly she couldn’t properly commune with it. She still had a quarter of her original wetware installed, the last bastion of grey matter before her final operation, and the Maitre was not particularly adept at dumbing things down to a cyborg’s level.

‘Alright, Maitre,’ she thought to herself, ‘what do you have for me.’

The Observatory illuminated all around her, more to alert her to its activation than any other reason. The smooth white of its walls shifted to show the endless depths of space outside. The image, a realtime display of every photon that collided with the ship, was littered with pinpricks of distant stars. One, larger and brighter than the others, must have been the star of the local system. Sascha pursed her lips. There was no planet, no obvious sign as to why the Maitre had woken her up. With the body of the Argo eliminated from the footage, there was no chance an object of interest could have been obscured.

Sascha coasted around the edge of the Observatory, pulling herself along its surface to a single control panel hidden behind the displays. She inserted a limb to lock herself in place, then activated its broadcaster. A quick check of her wireless implants, a security code verified, and she was suddenly in the ship. She could almost feel what was left of her brain buzz with the surge in awareness. Her body went numb, and her limbs flopped uselessly as the entirety of her nervous system disconnected and turned itself off. The ship was her body, shared between her and the Maitre.

“Update me,” she thought. Her voice echoed inside her head, but her vocal chords remained dormant. Something to make the user more comfortable, they had said. She had simply found it distracting.


“How was the [OBJECT] detected if it has no signatures?”


That gave Sascha pause. So the Object had evidently done something to shock the Maitre into waking Sascha before she could have reached her intended destination. Assordante was not an event classification she was familiar with, which meant the Maitre had been forced to define a new one. That was interesting. And no small measure of frightening. In the back of her mind, and a million miles distant, she could feel her heartbeat start to thunder in her chest.

“What is the distance to the [OBJECT]?”


Sascha flinched. All in her mind, of course. Every form of drive, supraluminal or otherwise, left some trace on the cosmos. Newtonians left traces of their fuel, gravitics had gravity signatures. Even some of the more elaborate non-newtonians would bend space or leave a scattering of exotic matter. To say nothing of the violent reality bending committed by supraluminal drives. For the object to be moving, it had to be doing something. But the Maitre had only detected the Object by a single action, performed before it had woken her. It was being tracked now only by observing where everything else wasn’t. It was, for all intents and purposes, invisible to the universe in its current state. But somehow moving.

“What is the propulsion methodology of the [Object]?”


“What is the velocity of the [Object]?”


Good God. Even with the unprecedented low accuracy - Sascha had never witnessed the Maitre, with all its processing power and available sensory equipment, give a prediction with accuracy less than ninety-six percent - that was horrifically fast. “Is the course predictable?”


Sascha disconnected and took a moment to collect herself before removing her arm from its clamp and floating listlessly away from the edge of the Observatory. For the first time in recent memory, she felt an all too human chill roll up her spine.

“Maitre,” she said aloud. Her voice was scratchy, weak, after almost a decade without use. “Forward the information associated with the Assordante Event to my quarters. Designate the Object using standard threat name listing, and alert me when it gets close.”


Sascha floated down towards the exist of the Observatory, taking one last look before disappearing through the porthole. Her implants were flashing warnings of an elevated heart rate, pupil dilation, ‘do we have permission to medicate’, ‘panic imminent’. She leaned her back against the edge of the exit, trying to steady shaking hands. A half dozen of her own assignments, combined with a library of thousands more, had covered every conceivable and possible phenomenon the universe could conjure. But out there, beyond the edge of the Observatory and hidden amongst the stars, was something impossible.

“Space is big.”

The above phrase is commonly spouted by scientists, college professors and just about every piece of science fiction that has ever been written. Not necessarily in exactly that manner, but the meaning is carried across regardless. There is an enormity to the universe that is not easily explained, and even less easily comprehended. Travelling at one hundred times the speed of light, and it would still take a thousand years to cross the Milky Way Galaxy. A mortal being could spend its entire life exploring a single planet and still not reach every point on its surface, yet that planet would be insignificant next to its own star. Two galaxies could collide with one another, and yet no two stars would ever impact one another. It would be a rarity that two stars would even exert a noticeable gravitic pull on one another as the galaxies phased through each other.

This is why the default state of all things is that of invisibility.

The inverse square law makes monitoring every corner of the sky exponentially more difficult the further out you look. A suitably advanced civilisation might be able to, at all times, observe the immediate orbit of its planet. Perhaps they could even monitor a few light minutes out from the surface at all times. But as the distance grows, and the sheer volume of space being observed grows faster, so much faster, than the radius of the observed area the challenge quickly becomes insurmountable. Over great distance, light speed lag further compounds the issue of observation and surveillance. By the time the light of an approaching object reaches your telescope, it could already be in another location entirely. Surprise, now you get to try and find it all over again.

So space bound civilisations more often than not must resort to cheating. Sensors based on faster than light technology to eliminate light speed lag, by detecting (usually) the emission of supraluminal particles from a source. They scatter their observation posts along a solar system’s ecliptical, primarily around planetary bodies and their orbits. Focus instead on the important areas of a system, rather than the star system itself. Only a bare fraction of its volume is of any interest anyway, there is no real sense in observing vast swathes of nothingness round the clock. Give yourself the illusion of omniscience in your own back garden, and never admit that most of it cannot even really be called yours.

Sascha, having spent the better part of six decades travelling through the Milky Way and cataloguing what she found, was more familiar with the sheer emptiness of it all than most sapient beings she had encountered. Admittedly, she had spent nine out of every ten of those years frozen in a state of undeath. It was difficult to portray sixty plus years of experience in the body of someone still a few years short of being thirty. But the point remained, she was well aware of how impossible it was to find anything of note in the cosmos unless you were explicitly looking for it. Yet now, impossibly, she had stumbled upon something so utterly unexplainable completely by chance.

Why was it approaching this system? What were the odds it was approaching at the same time she had been? It was still billions of kilometres away, and could have gone completely unnoticed by her, or anyone for light years in any direction. Why did it advertise itself to a completely empty system?

The first question was something Sascha could guess at. It was likely here for the same reason she had come. Approximately two hundred and thirty light days from her current location, adrift in the system’s Oort cloud, was a life bearing planet. She had almost missed it, even with her hundreds of thousands of drones scattered about the galaxy. Fortunately it was rich enough in plant life to have an oxygen rich atmosphere, something detectable even at obscene ranges, and on closer inspection her sensor net had found evidence of the assorted complex chemistry that screamed ‘there is something alive here’. The Object - Oscurita - had likely detected the same. It was the only thing of note in the system, amidst eleven other planet sized bodies (four of which qualified as ‘gas giants’, with one super Jovian) and a single, simple star. Sascha could think of no other reason Oscurita would be approaching. What concerned Sascha was the timing of its arrival.

Oscurita was travelling faster than anything she - or any member of her organisation - had ever encountered before. More than that it was doing so through real, three-dimensional, space. No hyperlanes, no wormholes, no bending indicative of a warp bubble. Not so much as an exhaust emission from a rocket. It could have arrived at any point in the past thousand years, or in the next thousand, in the blink of a proverbial eye. Instead it’s final approach was being made right around the same time she had been making hers. The Maitre had estimated, given its current constant rate of deceleration, that it had likely started its long crawl to a stop well before Sascha had been present in the system, so it wasn’t here for her.

But then why the perfect (imperfect?) timing?

And then, of course, the Assordante Event. Assordante, Sascha had learned, equated to ‘deafening’. Seconds before the Maitre had forced Argo into subluminal deceleration and woken Sascha, the entire system they were set to investigate had lit up like a nuclear bomb. Over four million objects had arrived in perfect synchronicity in the system, encompassing a sphere centred on its star with a radius of five light hours. None of them had seemed to be that complex from what limited information the Maitre had been able to gather. Small, perhaps a metre or so in diameter, and without the black body nature of their assumed source. Maitre hadn't been able to guess what they were made of, but their tiny size meant they had to have been cheaply produced. They’d burned in cold, blips of black against the cosmic background radiation, settled into position.

And then exploded.

The scream of their death almost overwhelmed the Maitre. If the Argo had been caught in the path of their broadcast the sheer force of it would have liquefied its ceramic skin, fried its incredibly sensitive sensor array, and possibly killed its artificial intelligence before anything on the vessel would even have been aware of it. Fortune favoured the small craft, and distance had saved its life. Enough of the death scream had been captured by the Argo and stored by the Maitre that Sascha was able to learn something. An extremely broad ‘something’, but at least that was a piece of this rapidly growing puzzle. There was a pattern in the mess of their deaths. The objects hadn’t all exploded in the same way, not even strictly speaking at the same time - even if it had all happened in less than a second. But there was structure to the Assordante. And structure meant a message, intelligent and purposeful.

It was safe to assume then, even if she could not decipher the exact contents, that the system had been examined. Not in any kind of fine detail, surely, but Sascha did not think it safe to assume anything where Oscurita was concerned. The sheer force of the signal, the perfection with which the object had all arrived from over four million different directions, the audacity of the act, screamed to Sascha of an actor that utterly convinced of its own superiority in this scenario. So far, she was forced to admit, she had seen nothing to prove it wrong.

She caught herself staring at the hard light picture clasped in her hands. A memento she had whipped up, as if solidifying the image would give her some insight she couldn’t glean from data directly fed into her visual cortex. A sea of scattered stars, and the glow of the galaxy’s core. And there, almost imperceptible, impossible to see unless you already knew it was there, was a single black smudge.


Sascha curled up onto her bed and let the hard light image splinter into non-existence. She pulled her knees tight into her chest, felt her breath shudder uncontrollably, and wept.


The alert woke Sascha from her slumber. Strictly speaking, she no longer needed to sleep in any major capacity. Two or three hours and she could stay conscious for the next seventy without much difficulty. But she’d drugged herself up and allowed unconsciousness to take her for no less than eleven hours. Trusting that when she woke up, the nightmare of facing Oscurita by herself would be over. The Maitre, in its infinite subtlety, had proven her wrong. She felt tears sting at the edge of her eyes again. A weight settled in her stomach. Her heart - or what remained of its organic original - clenched tight in her chest. She curled up in the centre of her bed and stared at the alabaster ceiling.

“Link to my quarters and implants.”

She was immediately rewarded with a further stream of data. The hole in space that constituted Oscurita had taken up residence in the Oort cloud alongside Sascha and the Argo. It drifted lazily through the vast collection of asteroids, all the easier to see thanks to the added debris in the background. Even this close - close being a few million kilometres - she could not even guess at its size. Without a flat background of colour to see it against, Oscurita bore no outlines, no edges. It was a smudge on the lens. If she was forced to guess, Sascha would have said it was…’large’.

“Can we get closer? Into a low orbit?”


Sascha sat up in her bed, bringing up the readouts of the field into her implants. Information flashed across the walls and hovered just out of reach. The field was much more detectable than Oscurita itself, thought that would not have been difficult. A repetitive spike in radiation across a roughly fifty thousand kilometre radius from the estimated centre of Oscuritas’ mass. It would fade out almost as quickly as it occurred, and didn’t appear to adhere to any kind of predictable cycle. The radiation itself acted...strangely. It showed intermittently on scans as everything from beta particles to gamma rays to exotic, supraluminal matter spontaneously appearing in a near perfect sphere, then vanishing. It never bled out past the rough edge of the sphere, and never appeared the same way twice, but it was definitely there.

“Can we identify its purpose?”


Well that was more than less than unhelpful. But now Oscurita wasn’t just moving, it was performing some kind of activity. Sascha’s implants told her it was still moving towards the star at the centre of the system, and it was due to pass within forty five thousand kilometres of the life bearing planet along the way.

“So,” she said. To nobody in particular, obviously. “The biosphere will be touched by its field. Obviously intentional.” She tapped a finger against her knee. “But why?” She threw her legs over the side of her bed, recoiling slightly as bare feet touched cold, ceramic flooring.

“Maitre, bring us within twenty thousand kilometres of the edge of that field and match Oscurita’s movement. If the field grows or it looks like we might interact with it, move us away immediately.”

The ship rumbled beneath her feet. For the briefest of moments she floated just off the floor as the change in thrust threw off the careful balance of centrifugal forces (imaginary or not) that constituted the hab units artificial gravity. Sascha readied herself to see Oscurita as close as she would dare to, but first she had some calls to make. Certainly nobody else in her organisation would be nearby enough to help in any reasonable amount of time, but Sascha had met more than a few explorers and scientists in her time travelling the galaxy. Even if they couldn’t add anything the Argo didn’t already provide, she was already starting to feel...steadier on her feet at the idea of staring down oblivion with someone at her side.
Last edited by Rethan on Thu Dec 28, 2017 8:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
As Was Devoured Shall Devour | As Was Buried Shall Bury

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Founded: Aug 09, 2006
Corporate Police State

Postby Rethan » Wed Jan 03, 2018 5:29 pm

“All our knowledge merely helps us to die a more painful death
than animals that know nothing.”

-Maurice Maeterlinck

The problem with studying a black body object, Sascha had decided, was how little you had to work with. When nothing reflected off an object, it reduced an enormous amount of potential of information to zero. Oscurita was even worse than black bodies should be, lacking even its own heat output to monitor. Even black holes emitted hawking radiation. Oscurita was even less than nothing in that regard, and were it not for the constant aura it was emitting Sascha was certain she would have lost track of it hours ago. The Argo had settled into a relatively stable flight path that kept her as close as she dared get to Oscurita, but proximity to its curious aura hadn’t provided any new and exciting information as to its purpose.

During the moments where Oscurita’s field flickered out, there was no change in the object's surface. It remained colder than the space around it, reflecting nothing. The sudden apparition of its associate field was an apparently separate phenomenon. It appeared all at once, or at least somehow propagated faster than the Maitre could quantify out to its maximum radius. There was no obvious source of projection from Oscurita. If the aura hadn’t been centred on it, Sascha wouldn’t have even been certain the black body would have been responsible at all.


Sascha jerked out of her inner monologue as the Maitre spoke. After eight hours of slow, deliberate movement through the Oort cloud without anything to report that it hadn’t told her eight hours ago, the Maitre’s voice was startlingly loud. All around her, the Observatory showed the endless expanse of asteroids and planetesimals that made up the system’s Oort cloud.

“Show me.”

The Observatory flashed into false colour to show Sascha the Maitre’s best imagining of Oscurita’s outline as it began to speed up its approach towards the inner system. The aura had dropped now, vanishing almost as soon as the object’s acceleration had begun.

‘Why stop at all?’ Sascha wondered. At first she suspected it was to refuel by grabbing ice loaded asteroids from the cloud, perhaps the field (which she was certain now was more than radiation, even if that was all her available senses could show her) would drag asteroids into Oscurita’s waiting maw. None of the radiation that signified the field had remained during the times when it had flickered off, and neither had any of it escaped that almost perfectly spherical border that defined it - so it would have been useless as a method to dump waste heat or particles from supraluminal travel. Oscurita hadn’t even intersected with any objects in the Oort cloud. As far as Sascha could tell, nothing about the object or the system had been changed with its temporary pitstop in the Oort.

Yet whatever Oscurita had wanted to achieve had clearly been successful. The black smudge that it displayed to the world was no roaring away from Sascha and the Argo at three times the speed of light, heading directly towards the system’s largest super Jovian. Had it decided that the Oort was inefficient for fuel gathering and the planet would serve that purpose better?

“Maitre, bring us to the super jovian that Oscurita is to intersect with. Use the fold drive, I want to try and beat it there.”

Try being the operative word. Twenty seconds since it had spiked its velocity and abandoned its slow crawl through the Oort and Oscurita was already pushing forty times the speed of light. Sascha felt a gnawing feeling in her gut as it passed outside of accurate sensor range for the Argo. Fifty times light. Sixty.

“Change in priority. Construct an automaton and leave it behind. I want to know if anything changes out here. There had to have been something that convinced Oscurita to pause way the hell out here. Find it. Move us forward using the warp drive, but make sure we don’t get too far for drone deployment. I want us in orbit of that Jovian as soon as possible.”


Sascha disconnected from the Observatory port and was instantly assaulted by a ravenous hunger. Her wetware was failing her again, and she groaned as she left the Observatory. She needed more food.

How primitive.

Sascha allowed the dull hum of the hab section lull her into something approaching calmness. She sat cross legged on her bed, picking at a stray thread in her shorts while she waited for the Maitre to finish constructing the standalone automaton. One entire wall of her quarters had been replaced with a mirror image of one section of the Observatory’s display. The resolution wasn’t perfect, but here she didn’t need to concern herself with free floating or anchoring. Simulated gravity kept her anchored to her bed, left her to focus on the riotous symphony of thoughts in her mind.

“I wish you were still here,” she heard herself speak. It wasn’t a thought she had been entirely aware was hers. She kept staring at the wall of stars across from her, kept picking at her clothes. She didn’t usually find herself second guessing her work with the Organisation. Especially with her specific assignment, there was something deeply satisfying about finding entirely new ecosystems. But it was undoubtedly a lonely job. Sixty years - awake for just over a tenth of it and clinically dead for the rest - Sascha had travelled and catalogued and studied, but she hadn’t spoken in real time to another member of the Organisation for half a century. Its agents were scattered across the entirety of the Milky Way and were rarely alive at the same time as one another. Companionship was hard to come by. She’d learned to deal with it quickly enough. Half her brain had been rewired specifically to avoid the mental health problems that came with prolonged isolation, but there was just enough of the original wetware behind for her to miss her former captain from time to time.

The daunting task posed by Oscurita only worsened the whole experience. Biologically only two or three years her senior when she’d inherited the Argo, he had almost a century and a half of experience on her. He’d have known how to handle the situation. At the very least, he’d have been able to talk her down from the height of panic she’d managed to work herself into. Some part of her body burned and twisted in on itself in her chest. What little colour was in her face vanished, nausea took up residence in her stomach. Ka-thump, ka-thump went the traitor organ.

She had always meant to get that damned heart more completely replaced.

Sascha caught herself as her shorts began to unravel. She’d picked a hole right through to her knee, her idle hands threatening to ruin the whole article of clothing. She stared at the hole, drummed her fingers on her newly bared knee, and wondered if Oscurita - and whatever crew it had - had even thought to look back at her.


“Finally,” she breathed. Something to occupy herself with. A bullet point crossed off a to-do list, a direction to take herself in. “Dispatch the automaton to follow the recorded path of the Oscurita object. Continue for ninety-six hours. Any and all anomalous discoveries during that time to be reported back to me.”


Sascha felt the hub come slowly to a halt, felt the tug of inertia almost slide her from the bed as the rotation ended. She waited until the facsimile of gravity dissipated completely then pushed free of her bed. The room grew dim and warm with the tell tale signs of the spooling up fold drive. Free floating across to her wardrobe, Sascha disrobed and took one last look at the hole she’d torn in her shorts.

Idiot,” she hissed discarding the item. The world around her fell silent with a ‘pop’ as she pulled out a new pair of shorts and a shirt to go with them. The wall of stars was immediately replaced with a roiling landscape of violent reds and oranges. Storms raged. Her implants started to feed her wind speeds, atmospheric compositions and a whole ream of information that failed to interest her. She finished changing and floated out of her quarters. She was halfway to the Observatory before the hab unit started building up its rotational speed again.


‘Right then’, she thought to herself. All the walls of the Observatory were decorated with the same aggressive vision that had assaulted her in her private quarters. Nothing overly special for a gas giant this vast. A medley of colours, curiously absent of any ebony stains. Oscurita had either tricked her, or it was hiding. Sascha floated out to the very middle of the Observatory, twisted herself in zero gravity to appreciate the full splendour of the super jovian all around her. ‘Where have you gotten to?’
Last edited by Rethan on Fri Jan 05, 2018 7:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
As Was Devoured Shall Devour | As Was Buried Shall Bury

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Democratic Socialists

Postby Telros » Wed Jan 03, 2018 6:38 pm

Head Scientist Faradt looked down at the request before her, eyes scanning the page while the avian opposite her waited patiently, carefully drinking coffee out of a specially made glass. She shook her head when he finished and lightly ran her talons through his head feathers.

“This is madness, you have to realize that Tudás.”

The elder Tezekian scientist cooed in amusement, his own feathers twitching along with his body language to show his mirth. Setting down his glass, he reached over to tap on the device seated next to the paperwork he had submitted. “A friend calls me for help, and I can't refuse that. Especially with a find potentially as unknown and defying known science as it is.”

“It's half away across the blasted galaxy, Tudás! We have no infrastructure in that area, no support ships or military outposts to provide help should this thing turn hostile. You will be utterly on your own, do you understand that?!”

“Of course I do, kedvesem, I made sure to check with our Imperial liaisons to determine that. But you have to know that only makes me want to go even more.”

Faradit struggled to keep her anger in check, her hands slightly shaking from the effort. The other reached over and gently pried his hands away from the paperwork in her hand, letting it fall to the desk. Their eyes raised to Tudás' own, one full of quiet conviction and acceptance, the other starting to tear up at the situation. Faradt's eyes picked out the familiar features: the graying feathers, the faded color of their beak and the many wrinkles around the eyes, showing the same vitality as ever.

“You have been a good and supportive child, Faradt, rising higher and faster in the ranks than I ever could. You have a mind for the overall picture, for putting the pieces together into a grand plan or design as you have demonstrated many times. You strive to take care of all of the parts of the Foundation, as well as you should. But we both know I failed to raise to your position primarily due to my, heh, 'maverick' status. I have to go out and see things for myself, throwing out past all that is known to find the unknown.

I am almost one hundred and seventy cycles old now, kedvesem, and I would like to recapture that sense of revelation and discovery one last time before I die.”

Karadt could feel the argument slipping away from her but she still pressed on regardless. “But the recent Domain treaties have opened new possibilities in the life extension trade and-”

They stopped at the raised hand. “You know as well as I that I have taken three life extension treatments already and even with the Domain's technology, it is still quite a risk on my body. Besides, my time is coming to an end, it is something you will have to accept one day as well. I need to leave so you stop putting yourself in my shadow, to fly on your own paths. This is mine, Faradt and I ask you not to bar my way and let me do this.”

The Head Scientists gripped their father tightly, which he returned, rubbing his beak through their feathers in an embrace they had done many times before. Eventually they left and quickly composed themselves with an aid of a small cloth and depressed a button on the paperwork, the nanite mesh at the bottom pricked his finger, ran the DNA and then a faint green glow suffused the fingerprint and his signature created itself on the paperwork.

“I..I have signed the papers. Whatever you find out there, Tudás, you'd better shatter the universe with it.”

“That'd be a nice change of pace.”


Close by to Sascha's location, the Maitre would detect a bubble of energy warping space and time coming closer to her direction as faster than light speeds. As it came closer, it appeared to be decelerating, before coming to sudden stop, shooting from a pinprick of light into a fully formed series of ships, covered in bright blue fire, and waves of energy emanting fromt he front. The Maitre did would be identifying them as belonging to the Tezekian Imperium, especially Foundation science vessels and a small security escort, five in total, wedges depressed back into the ships from the front, energy dissipating from them as the fire receded with the plasma shields being deactivated and the Casimir Drive being turned off.

Immediately upon arrival, all ships would have ports on their sides open up, and a staccato burst of flashes would have led one to believe a series of spontaneous explosions had occurred. In truth, they were launchers for the probes that were shortly deployed into a cloud around the small group of ships before most were sent out in all directions into the system, the beginnings of the standard Imperial VLA system. A small group was maintained in their area and the flight paths of the cloud was clear to keep a large corridor of space around the object, not wishing to cause any activation.

As this occurred, the Maitre would receive a request for communication channel with a rather unique set of codes. Once Sascha had approved it, Tudás' face would show up, his eyes crinkling in fond recognition. While he had been wearing a soft dark blue robe when meeting with Karadt, he now wore a large blue and white scientists coat, pants, and gloves, with a holographic visor displaying data, a falling hand showing a holopad with images of the object before it fell out of view.

”Sascha! My old barát, it is good to see you. How can Tudás of the Határ Foundation help you today?”

As they spoke the ships moved to a loose formation around the Observatory, both science ships flanking it while the escort vessels took up an inverted diamond formation, one in front and one on each flank of the group. Scans were beginning of the system and eventually the Oscurita object itself. It would take time for the VLA to make itself known and process data, and even longer to the point of hrs to read the light coming out of from the edge of the system, once the probes finally got there. For now, it seemed, though they had the time to spare.

kedvesem: dear one
barát: friend
Last edited by Telros on Wed Jan 03, 2018 6:45 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Corporate Police State

Postby Rethan » Fri Jan 05, 2018 9:27 pm

Chaos theory simply suggests that what appears to most people as chaos is not really chaotic,
but a series of different types of orders with which the human mind has not yet become familiar.

-Frederick Lenz

Oscurita had shown itself.

Exactly fifty-six minutes after the Argo had settled into an orbit, the familiar black smudge of Sascha's nightmare object had surfaced. It hadn't been difficult to move into a position directly above it, and now Sascha found herself less than half a million kilometres from the object itself. The engines of the Argo were still giving the occasional burn to properly settle the ship's orbit. The planetary ring surrounding the superJovian prevented a simplistic orbit to match the planet's rotation, forcing Sascha's ship to accelerate every so often to catch back up with its quarry. In a few hours it would be necessary to pull in closer to avoid the debris of the inner rings. Sascha was not looking forward to that.

Since surfacing, Oscurita hadn't done anything of obvious note. It remained a black bubble amidst the roiling clouds of the gas giant. The mysterious field which had surrounded it eight trillion kilometres away was gone, and its only impact on the planet's surface was the distortion of the roiling storms around it. The Maitre had noticed almost immediately that not all of the surface gases seemed to be properly deforming. This was the curiosity that Sascha had chosen to focus on in the twelve minutes since Oscurita had surfaced. Even that minute amount of observation served to deepen Sascha’s gnawing panic. A large chunk of the gases that were connecting with the edge of Oscurita’s hazy outline were redirecting themselves around it, or beneath it. Some even flowed over it, further hiding the objects outline from observation and calculation. At her most conservative guess regarding its size, however, Oscurita was still pulling no punches.

It was, at best, a staggering twenty-six kilometres across its longest axis. And that was simply the area that was definitely a part of the black body object. Between the refusal to reflect anything that touched it, and its being half submerged, Sascha was having a hard time telling if that constituted the entire thing. Eighteen kilometres diameter was still much, much larger than anything she had been prepared for - and yet it was hardly the most worrying piece of information she had discovered since it had showed itself. No, what was of even greater concern was what was happening to the majority of the planet’s gases that were impacting its surface.

Oscurita was swallowing hydrogen at a rate closing on half a billion tons every hour. Whatever it was, it was hungry.

Sascha had, once again, confined herself to her quarters. The moment the Maitre had completed its calculations and vomited forth frighteningly high number she’d felt a wave of nausea claw at her gut. Feeling dizzy, she’d convinced herself that it was the zero gravity environment of the Observatory and fled to her room. She’d spent the next few minutes commanding the hormone and chemical pumps in her body to calm her down, but every time she accessed her implants to return to work the sight of Oscurita set her nerves on edge again. She’d demanded that her wall show the planetary ring instead - putting Oscurita behind her and out of sight. The Maitre was bypassing her visual cortex, dumping data and numbers directly into her memory now.

What was it about seeing a simple black spot that reduced her to such a childish wreck?


Sascha was woefully unprepared for accommodating guests. She’d been picking at her clothes again since sitting down on the floor, raven coloured hair was splayed across her front and back in equal measure. She couldn’t tell what on her face was cold sweat or outright tears. She hoisted herself up onto the bed and straightened herself as best she could. Tie the hair back, wipe away the sweat on her face - definitely just cold sweat, she was a member of the Organisation and she did not cry - adjust her shirt collar. Try to ignore the frayed leg of her shorts.

She gave a non-verbal command to the Maitre and sat against the back of her bed, cross-legged as a familiar face replaced the image of asteroids and stellar debris that had decorated her wall.

”Sascha! My old barát, it is good to see you. How can Tudás of the Határ Foundation help you today?”

Sascha felt a light click on in her chest, and a long absent warmth blossomed. Finally, she wasn’t alone. The smile which plastered her face grew so large as to hurt, and her voice faltered briefly from lack of use, but by God she was happy to see the old bird.

“Oh thank God. Tudás I can’t express how glad I am to see you. I’m...I’m sorry I haven’t kept in touch. I’ve been dead pretty much since we met,” Sascha shrugged and let a small giggle escape. “Undeath kind of ruins any social life. Please forgive me for the lack of any semblances of formality. I….” She paused just long enough to command the Maitre to send its most recent discovery to her friend. “I just got some rather disheartening news.”

In the back of her mind, the Maitre asked for a sideline. Whatever it wanted could wait, Tudás was vastly more appealing than whatever new weirdness Oscurita had pumped out.

“I’ve sent you everything I’ve gathered and all the conclusions myself and the Maitre have come to. One of my automatons is in the Oort cloud too. I haven’t heard back from it yet, whether that means it hasn’t found anything or it’s still trying to figure out what its found I can’t tell you.”

She unfolded her legs and leaned forward, balancing on her knees. The Maitre pinged her again. Another sideline request. With increased urgency.

“Review that stuff for a moment, then we can catch up. My ship’s brain is bothering me, I’ll forward everything through the line. You’re here now, no sense in keeping you out of the loop.”

She let her eyes glaze over, and the image of Tudás fell out of focus as the Maitre took up her conscious mind with its connection. It decided to summarise its findings quickly, and Sascha let a cheeky grin grow as she saw the small size of the Maitre’s message.


Sascha choked on her own saliva. Her breathing quickened. She’d left it unattended for less than four hours, and Oscurita had programmed a planet.

“Tudás,” she caught herself saying. “Please tell me you’re sitting down.”

Most sapient lifeforms in the galaxy are familiar with the butterfly effect. That quirk of chaos theory that renders predicting the future mostly impossible. Randomness influenced by the tiniest fluctuations in a system’s starting state. Weather patterns, especially those as chaotic as might be found in the atmosphere of a failed star, fall into this category. They’re not truly random, but long term predictions are mostly impossible. The tiniest disturbance in the system could change everything. The ‘butterfly’ flaps its wings and so on. Certainly a rain cloud can be dispersed as it forms, and a gust of wind might even be possible to redirect as it blows in, but engineering entire storms? Directing the path they should take and how large they should get? Definitely the realm of fiction for any but the most extensively altered and monitored atmospheres. Certainly not something as out of control and chaotic as a superJovian’s surface gases. Certainly not in a matter of hours, completely without the parameters of the planet’s birth.

Certainly not?

But looking now at the three storms the Maitre was tracking across the planet, each growing at a ferocious rate, that certainly seemed to be exactly what Oscurita had done. Sascha and her ship simply hadn’t noticed because their paths had seemed random, or as random as chaos patterns allowed for, and had written them off as the normal weather of the planet. But now, in what Sascha had to assume would be their final hours, their paths could be tracked with relative precision. Some time in the next hour each of the storms - moving at different speeds across the planet’s surface - would all strike Oscurita at the same time.

It sat, that blotch of impenetrable ebony, in what would be the centre of the most violent storm Sascha would ever witness. Not only would it churn up the gaseous hydrogen of the planet’s surface, but the denser, more precious liquid and metallic hydrogen beneath would undoubtedly be sucked up - right into Oscurita’s waiting maw. Why dive for the meal, when it could bring the meal directly to it.

It was impossible. It was an incalculably complex task, possible only in theory. But looking at the outcome it was the only conclusion she could reach. It was too convenient to have been an accident.

And that horrified Sascha. What kind of intellect could make the calculations needed to set that whole process in motion? To identify the state of the planet’s surface and atmosphere to the precision needed? To introduce the tiniest, most gentle of nudges, to birth and plot the course of three storms.

“Christ.... Tudás are you seeing this? Is this...have you ever seen something this smart before? God, even my Maitre would be hard pressed to generate a single storm in the mess of that planet. And it would need a few thousand probes to do it. And this...this fucking thing did it without me even noticing.”

She was sweating again. Her installed pumps had activated but they were only good for one, maybe two more uses before she'd need to refuel them, and they couldn't do everything. Too much of her body outside of her nervous system was still useless wetware. The cocktail flooding her body had kept the worst at bay. She wasn't crying, the nausea stayed away, and she wasn't ruining yet another set of clothes with her idle hands. She sat at the edge of her bed, staring blankly at the wall. Despite the lack of focus in her eyes, she was all too aware of Tudás in front of her. She'd simply sank herself into data and simulations and everything the ship's own senses could safely tell her. She refused to dull her mind with injected chemistry, but so long as she kept her thoughts occupied with taking in information (and kept her body drugged into obedience) they would not run away and waste energy on worry.

“We need to find out what this is. A ship? A terraforming device? A weapon? I’m...I’m not able to suggest anything right now. It’s a perfect black body, we can’t even scan the bloody thing. Please, please tell me you have an idea.”
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Postby Telros » Sat Jun 09, 2018 6:29 am

Tudas watched as the holographic imager pieced together Sasha's face, pixel by pixel and the more she came into focus, the more concern filled his being. She looked like she had been through an emotional minefield: her eyes were clearly showing lack of sleep, with their bloodshot nature and bags under her eyes, the liquid on her face betraying both a cold sweat that betrayed her disquiet and the tracks under her eyes of her fear. Her clothes were rumpled, showing lack of attention to her own personal hygiene and welfare; while he knew her to be, as they say, a focused individual, this was beyond her usual habits. And when she fully materialized, as he did in turn for her communication system, her face broke open into a desperate smile, the one a being has after being trapped for so long with no options and someone else finally found them. The elder avian couldn't help but feel his gut twist as he took it all in.

What did you find, all the way out here, that has you this terrified, Sasha?

Still, he couldn't help but also feel that shuddering thrill he got whenever a new discovery was at hand' no matter the danger, the cost, he always came the most alive at situations like this. Tudas swallowed the concern and the anticipation both and focused on keeping his body and headfeathers steady. Calm. He could best both determine the solution for the situation by having Sasha keep her head and he needed to be a rock for her to rest on to do that.

“Oh thank God. Tudás I can’t express how glad I am to see you. I’m...I’m sorry I haven’t kept in touch. I’ve been dead pretty much since we met,” Sascha shrugged and let a small giggle escape. “Undeath kind of ruins any social life. Please forgive me for the lack of any semblances of formality. I….” She paused just long enough to command the Maitre to send its most recent discovery to her friend. “I just got some rather disheartening news.”

At her words, a flutter of disquiet could be seen temporarily in his feathers before it was forcefully ended. A clack of relief and pleasure at seeing her again preceded his response.

“I should hope I get such a response from all my friends, everyone should always be happy to see me. But enough of my preening, you do not need to apologize Sasha. I was hard at work myself for the Foundation during our time apart; they kept me very busy after all. But I am here now, you are here now and that is what matters.” He decided to let her dead comment pass without explanation; he knew the Organization used cryopods to extend the lives of their members and as part of their travel process. If she meant something else, he decided it was best not to pry. Considering her state, he may find out soon enough after she got stressed out enough to need to talk to someone about it.

“You said you got some disheartening news. What's going on, Sasha? Why did you send out that call? Ordinarily, as you know, I'm eager to pounce upon any new discovery like my kind in nature do, but something seems different about it this time.”

“I’ve sent you everything I’ve gathered and all the conclusions myself and the Maitre have come to. One of my automatons is in the Oort cloud too. I haven’t heard back from it yet, whether that means it hasn’t found anything or it’s still trying to figure out what its found I can’t tell you.”

Második, get your team working on that information immediately. I want to know everything she knows and any thoughts your team may have on it.

As you say, Head Scientist.

Üzenet, monitor our data streams from the probes and have it continuously updating the science team. Anything new develops, inform me about it should the science team not do so. And watch for any activity from the object.

It will be done.

After a nanosecond had completed, Tudas finished his orders and began replying to Sasha. “We're examining the data now and have probes of our own examining the system and the object so we can keep pace with you. We're waiting on our own data as well, so nothing to worry about yet.” He nodded at her mention of needing to confer with her AI.

“That's fine. We'll keep you in our loop as well.” Turning from the display, he began to look over the data she had sent and what was coming in from their extended fingers in the system. The first inkling of strange came at the initial report of her ship's artificial mind, that the construct was a physical impossibility. This was due to that it had no heat signature, which was an impossibility to known science, both Tezekian and galactic. All ships had some kind of heat signature, most from needing to radiate heat from their systems and weapons, especially in combat, and at least their engines provided a heat signature. So this vessel was able to move without generating any heat. It got even better where they could not detect any spacetime curvature from the object, which his ship's instruments were confirming.

It doesn't displace local space time at all, not even through sheer gravity of its mass, which by Sasha's calculations should be one of the large spaceborne objects every recorded. Just what, or how, is this thing?

They were having to follow it by the Maitre's method of tracking obscured stellar objects and absences in the system. And through its acceleration, which according to the Organization's method system, was an excess of forty-thousand lights. Most species, even with acceleration couches, being encased in oxygenated liquids and cybernetically enhanced, which was the debate for how they should handle their ships going forward in the Directorate, would still be splashed goo at those speeds. The technology being displayed was impossible, but to Tudas, that meant it was of sufficient advancement beyond their own that it may as well be magic. Without his knowledge, his hands had been fidgeting, going over each other, tracing each line on the talons, and just constantly moving. Despite his best efforts, his excitement continued to grow as he learned more about this object Class: Oscurita.

There was a concerning matter, however, as the event that informed the Maitre about this was four million objects appearing in the system and then surrounding the local sun. After a period of time, a massive explosion lit up the system, but it wasnt an attempt to kill the sun, as too few of this swarm had exploded, and it was in a sequence as Sasha had found.

This...was a message and probably what called the Oscuritas here. Further, the object had a field of radiation around it that kept going across the spectrum. From gamma to superluminal, it kept ever-shifting and its purpose was anyone's guess. Protection field, shield, the force that allowed it to move as fast as it did, the reason why they couldn't track it? All strong possibilities with what little evidence they had.

“Tudás, please tell me you’re sitting down.”

His feathers ruffled in excited amusement, an action she would have seen many times in their interactions before as he leaned in, holoslate in hand ignored.

“I'm not. Give me a reason to.”

Her only reponse was to forward the Maitre's message:


Without a word, Tudas sank into his chair, eyes wide, beak opened at the message. Again, with no proper instruction, a request for the active data steam from their connected probes and automatons to come to his station came from his implant and it was granted. He watched as the object, as best as one can watch an absence, created three massive storms in the gas giant, with itself as the center. The storms quickly grew from their infancy into adulthood, raging around all the materials, gas, metals, you name, into a swirling trio of vortexes. Oscuritas had managed to find a way to start the storms, but either do it in a way that was controlled or was actively controlling the entire time, to direct them to essentially move the materials of the giant into its waiting...maw? Form? Being?

Pointless rumination. Move on. Breathe.

The Directorate had been experimenting with terraforming technology for its entire existence and had gotten quite good at using what it had. But what it had was something that took centuries, long even for the already long-lived Tezekian species. It was difficult, hard to predict, and require constant maintenance; if not for their taboo on artificial intelligences, they'd be much farther ahead with having AI do the maintenance and auto corrections for them. But that was just it; this thing seemed to have no need for constant correction. It simply set things off in such a way that it all came together, just as planned.




And yet it was happening.

“Christ.... Tudás are you seeing this? Is this...have you ever seen something this smart before? God, even my Maitre would be hard pressed to generate a single storm in the mess of that planet. And it would need a few thousand probes to do it. And this...this fucking thing did it without me even noticing.”

“I...I see it. I can't believe what i'm seeing, but I can't deny what it is in front of me. This is sheer, fantastical impossibility by all of the standards set in this galaxy. I've heard rumor, through my contacts in Directorate Strategic Intelligence, of an AI that could process data so fast to be able to predict this much. But it was from a supremely advanced civilization which has since vanished, according to all of the reports. But to have the power and control to actually follow through and do it...”

Words failed him for a moment, and he seemed to scramble for a container of water with a curved lip to allow him to pour it into his open beak. After a moment of letting the liquid run its course, he put it aside and faced Sasha. A light was in his eyes, an energy that electrified his form; the long years seemed to fade away as his posture strengthened and his seemed to grab the chair with renewed vigor.

“We'll have to be careful, oh so careful, Sasha. But this is an opportunity; whether this an automated ship or object from an unknown empire, or one that has fallen and its still continuing its role, or even a manned ship, this is some of the strongest technology we have ever seen. We could learn so much if we do this right.”

“We need to find out what this is. A ship? A terraforming device? A weapon? I’m...I’m not able to suggest anything right now. It’s a perfect black body, we can’t even scan the bloody thing. Please, please tell me you have an idea.”

Tudas clasped his talons together and lowered his head for a moment, shutting his eyes as he let his full intellect wild on the situation. Tezekians, as a race, had managed thus far with their technological singularity as their brains were able to proces and handle information, especially from multiple sources, more than most species. So his mind was full of possible scenarios, bits of data and trying to piece them together. Finally, after a full minute, he raised his head.

“The way I see it, we have two options, Sasha. With as little as we know, we simply need more data. If the object cannot provide it, we must find a way to force it to do so. We can either sit here and observe, watch what its doing and make this an extended trip. Follow it wherever it goes, see if we can find a pattern to its actions and determine the purpose, if not more about Oscuritas itself. This is going to be time consuming, and a possibility we may lose it due to its black body nature. But just as we follow it by its absence, we can follow its product, what it produces, and go from there.

Or, we can risk it all, and force a response. See what it does if a probe enters that radiation field, or nears the object. Or, the ultimate one, send a broad beam message, as complex or simple as we want to make it, at the object. Ultimately, with this path, we are dropping stones into the water to see how it ripples outward. I will confess, this is my preferred path, but we are to be of two minds on how we proceed. And those ripples could become a wave if we do this wrong.”

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Postby Rethan » Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:22 pm

Never was anything great achieved without danger.
-Niccolò Machiavelli

Even while Tudas spoke, Sascha's eyes never left the image of the super-Jovian below. Oscurita, that bloated tumour, sat just beneath the roiling surface of the planet. Clouds of gases cascaded across the top of the eldritch darkness, dancing across its perfectly obsidian surface. Around the edges of the object's mass, where the world blurred before asserting itself, Sascha watched as hundreds of thousands of kilograms of gases were swallowed every passing second. Oceans upon oceans of the super-Jovian disappeared into the near perfect orb that Oscurita pretended to be. Less a tumour then, more a cavernous maw devouring the world around it. The three storms it had engineered, monstrously violent, converged with uncanny accuracy on the object's position. Within the next few hours, Oscurita would be sitting in the middle of three separate storms - each with the strength to eliminate whole continents of life were they on any other world. She could think of nowhere less inviting.

"You're right."

Of course, he was. Sascha was a scientist, an explorer, and that meant she needed to examine and define Oscurita. If that proved impossible, she would try to discern what it was trying to do. Failing that, she'd record as much as she could and foist it onto better minds. There was always something to be done with data, even when their source was as ominous as this. Shunting her rampant emotions to the back of her mind, Sascha allowed the machinery in her head to seize control as she rose from her bed. Not a permanent solution, but perhaps it would give her long enough to get used to ever-gnawing panic that Oscurita instilled in her.

"I have a few drones I can send down, see if there's any kind of surface to land on. If there is, and the drones aren't swallowed up, the signal should still get through back to the Maitre." Sascha was already walking towards the narrow corridor that would take her spiralling upwards into the Observatory, Tudas' image imprinted on the inside surface of her eye. Tudas instead would be treated to an external view of Sascha, provided by the hundreds of camera throughout the Argo's hallways. She ascended up the ladder until she had moved far enough that the false gravity lost its grip and allowed her to float freely into the cyclopean orb at the ship's far end. She felt the familiar lurch in her stomach as weightlessness took hold in the split second before her implants brought it under control. Gritting her teeth, Sascha pulled hard on the rungs of the ladder as she sailed through the gravity-free connection to the main body of the ship.

"With any luck, Oscurita's black-body nature is contained only within itself. Whatever 'itself' is. Otherwise, the drone's won't do much good. If there's any kind of testing you want to do yourself - transmitting signals or what have you-you've got time. It'll take a few minutes to prepare the drones for launch."

Thankfully the matter reserves were still well-stocked. It wouldn't take long for the nervousness and uncertainty she'd suppressed entangled her thoughts again, and she couldn't afford hours of sitting in the stellar wind to gather anything else. Send out the first wave of tests and drones, and then she could worry about refuelling while they did their work. She had the tools to do amazing things with hydrogen and ions, but none of the necessary time.

She breezed into the Observatory, catching hold of one of the supports in the centre of the room. Her momentum carried Sascha forward in an arc, depositing her gracefully into the waiting arms of the Observatory's docking station. Within moments her limbs fell limp as she connected her mind to the ship's workings. At the far opposite end of the slender craft, driven by her direct instruction, the Argo's workshops began the process of assembling the first of a planned fleet of drones. So long as Oscurita sat near the surface of the superJovian and so long as the storms remained clear of its surface, Sascha could afford to prioritise sensitivity over survivability. The more capable a machine was of examining an environment, the more vulnerable it was to that environment. She had no idea what nightmarish world her drones would be privy to in close proximity to Oscurita, but she could always adapt the later generations in response.

"Better to work for what we know. Save resources."

That was not to say the superJovian was to be a pleasant holiday destination for her automatons. Her last configured device was still sitting in the system's equivalent of the Oort cloud, designed to withstand a temperature hovering just shy of zero Kelvin and little in the way of anomalous 'weather'. The superJovian (she would have to name it if only to make her after-action-reports easier to decipher) was much more aggressive. With a temperature of 144 kelvin and wind speeds in the hundreds of kilometres an hour, Sascha would need an entirely different design of drone to survive and report back.

"Tudas, I'm starting construction on the first wave of drones now. I'm going to scout the perimeter around Oscurita, see if the bastard is doing anything else to the planet that we can't spot from orbit. I'll see if I can land one or two onto Oscurita itself."

Sascha shuddered at the thought - even if only psychosomatically. While connected to the Maitre, she would see and 'feel' everything her drones did. She might as well be walking on Oscurita's surface herself.

"I already have some basic chassis constructed, just need to armour them up and remove the more delicate instruments. An hour, tops. If there's anything you want to get done to keep yourself occupied, you are more than welcome."
Last edited by Rethan on Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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