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Sunset: Then, Now, Tomorrow (Nation Maintenance)

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

"You got it, Boss!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thump!

Meanwhile next door...

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

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

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

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

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

"Another disintegrator?"

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

"Huh."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Yes?"

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

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

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

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

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

"Alright - Katryna?"

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

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

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

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

"Not exactly a state dinner, is it?"

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

"The Macisikani..."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Impressed!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"A cloaking device."

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

"And the catch is?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"You sure you're ready for this?"

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

Well, he liked them.

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

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

"Hey..."

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

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

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

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

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

MrySue's reply was flat, "Really."

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

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

"So?"

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

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

She was also quiet - too quiet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Ready, Doctor Muyskens..."

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

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

"What else can it do?"

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

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

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

"Can you make a weapon?"

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

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

"Which is just about the last thing this particular interface will create. They can't be reloaded - another security feature - and will only be available in the field on ships assigned to particular Admirals and above for the time being. Once all the security concerns are satisfied they will also be made available as part of colonization efforts and to ease adoption of the UBR. With a boundary manipulation erected around the local star and converting the useless spectrum to NBM, they will be able to greatly ease both the establishment of new settlements and the supply of those current..."
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Postby Sunset » Wed Sep 18, 2019 1:13 pm

The Vinson Massif, Antarctica, Earth, Sol System... Not More Than A Couple Minutes Later...

"Who wants to open this pickle jar for me?" Kraus asked, his voice barely audible over the biting antarctic wind as he stood before the blast doors, his hands deep in the fur-lined pockets of his parka. Centuries of exposure to the weather did not seem to have aged them much and they still stood firm with an icy layer of rime covering their plain metal surface.

Behind him the shuttle was parked in the center of the amphitheater and in the exact center of the enormous swastika that dominated it. There was something strangely fulfilling about that; perhaps it was the sight of a shuttle built by a future civilization that were not goddamned Nazis and marked with a flag that was not a goddamned swastika. There was something odd about that flag though, now that the thought crossed his mind and he struggled to bring the details to mind but they were simply not there and the more he focused on it the more the rest faded from his memory until there was nothing left but the snow drifting from the fur-trimmed hood of his parka as he shook his head, the faint echoes of some distraction already gone.

"I don't think we have to!" a voice called out, dashing the last remaining bit of whatever had crossed his mind against the floor and kicking the bits under the couch. He turned to see Meri and one of the technicians standing at the outer rim of one of the pill-box bunkers that had been constructed on either side of the doors. The long rusted barrel of a forgotten machine gun protruded from the gap and she had turned away to begin eagerly pulling at the concrete lip of the firing slit, "Look!"

First big chunks and then small were coming away in her hands, the weathered material made fragile by the cycle of water and ice. The technician beckoned him over and he rushed to her side, arriving just in time to help remove a good-sized chunk that they tossed aside to knock a matching hole in a piled-up snowdrift. That was enough for someone to squeeze through and as the smallest she took the plunge, pulling off her pack to worm her way through before he passed the carry-all through behind her.

"There's a dead guy in here," she warned as they one-by-one joined her.

She'd stepped over to another door on the back wall and next to it, slumped on the floor with hands and arms dangling at his side, was the frozen body of a soldier. To him he looked mere moments after death, his body still full and what little he could see of the man's skin still frosty pink. He wore a uniform of solid gray; a long jacket over thick pants, boots, and gloves with a fur-ruffed open hood topped with a helmet. A harness with pouches for magazines and other bits of military paraphernalia hung across his chest though the leather was now cracked and brittle beyond repair. Behind him one of the technicians pawed over the machine gun still in its pintle while he knelt and brushed the fur back from the man's face, "Huh."

There was a certain familiarity to his features, though this was the face of a much older man, "Sixty - seventy even? Strange..."

"He probably died at his post," one of the techs offered. "This place looks abandoned - they probably all died of cold and starvation."

"Probably," he rose to try the door and found it mercifully unlocked, though not without struggle as he yanked it open over a layer of ice and snow that had frozen over the bunker floor. "Probably means we're not going to find mecha-Hitler in here though;" he sounded disappointed.

While a trickle of light diffused through the doorway to the hallway beyond, it was clear that there would be no light to clear their steps and he pulled off his own pack to fetch a lantern from its place. Illuminating it with a 'click', he held it up long enough to get a good look down the passage ahead before passing it to Meri and swinging the pack back into place. Perhaps to steady his own nerves he advanced inside with his carbine in front of him, the light from the lantern illuminating the space in front of him as she held it high. Behind them the two technicians proceeded with equal caution, one with his weapon ready and the other drawing up the rear with another lantern out.

It was not ten paces down the hallway that the passage turned, joining another at a hatchway to their right and running off to the left with a clutter of pipes and cables crawling along the ceiling from where they emerged from whatever might be on the right. The left obviously ran towards the space behind the blast doors and so he checked the right first, the trailing lantern revealing a small workspace lined with various unknown equipment and another body, this time sprawled out over a collection of antique bottles. A pistol was in one hand and it was clear by the appearance of the other side of his head that he'd chosen to take his own life at some point in the now-frozen past.

Fredrick was about to leave the man to his peace when one of the technicians stopped him, a hand on his shoulder, "Just a second..."

From the way he'd been handling the machine gun outside, it was clear he was at least somewhat familiar with firearms and as he stepped past the Doctor to kneel at the man's side this was confirmed, "Interesting. This should be a Luger - but this doesn't look like any version I've ever seen."

Prying the weapon out of the dead man's hand, he returned to his feet and held it up so the others could see as he went over the design, "The barrel - very thick. It isn't solid either - like there's something in there. The cocking lugs too - they go back," he demonstrated, inadvertently sending the previously chambered around into the air. As it clicked on the floor, he sheepishly pulled the magazine and worked the action again until he was sure it was empty.

"This isn't nine by nineteen either - this is more like twelve by twenty two," he continued, holding up the magazine to show the still-held ammunition. "Looks like a jacketed hollow point, but there's a penetrator in there. Is that steel?" Putting the pistol in his pocket, he thumbed the top round out and examined it, "That's a penetrator all right - a good idea if everyone is going to be wearing thick clothing," he nudged the dead man with his toe, indicating the thick jacket he wore just like the man outside, "but that's not steel. Steel isn't yellow."

"It did a fine job on his head," Kraus noted coldly. "Let's keep moving..."

That seemed to be a signal of sorts, because just as he said that there was the sound from outside of a pair of engines starting up and the four rushed back through the hallway and out into the crumbling pill-box just as the shuttle, its hatches shut, lifted off and curled into the sky.

"What the hell?"

"What do we do?" Meri tugged at his sleeve.

"Well," he looked around, his eyes uncomfortably settling on the dead man. "I'd say we start with a one-star review on Yelp then we call another operator. We've got plenty of supplies," he patted the underside of his pack with his hand, "and plenty to do, so I guess we'll just keep looking around. Glad we didn't pay that guy yet..."

A sudden thought occurred to him, "But he's got my book! Half a star..."
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Postby Sunset » Thu Sep 19, 2019 2:07 pm

RDF-Infiltrator 597, On the Other Side of GEC-175146, Beta Quadrant... Republic Date 174.903... A Couple Hours Later...

"...the first phase was successful, Captain. The Suwen'AI network seems to have accepted the communications interruption and I am transmitting the damage report now."

"Seems to have?" Ria asked from her invisible place just over his shoulder. He was standing alone in the center of a circular console that had been designed to the Suwen asthetic while she was still on the bridge of Bar Harbor, acting as advisor, monitor, and backup - 'The Woman in the Chair,' to honor the trope. Direct communication for the entire operation would be too risky but where there was little risk she had determined that the line would remain open.

It had only been moments before that the first phase had begun, launched when a small Opposition-Class Corvette had dashed into the system using its quantum frame-shift drive, thrown up a full-spectrum jamming field, and opened fire on the nearby Suwen'AI warship. With the precise data available from previous raids, there had been nothing left after the first torpedo had touched its hull, the rest going inert and then disappearing into a silent spray of hard radiation.

"Seems to have," he noted again, studying particular sections of the communications logs. "The challenge-response matches those of the previous network interruptions;" they'd done that before too, "and the local activity in the defense network matches that of previous incursions."

Which had been to scramble a number of the spherical ships equal to 'overwhelming force' to the location of the incursion, the defending vessels then spreading out again slowly once the threat had been removed.

As soon as the Corvette had done its job Infiltrator 597 had jumped in just behind it, its presence marked by the still-active jamming field. With enough time to account for a pitched battle between the two elapsed, the Corvette had jumped out again using its backup tesseract drive to leave the remaining intruder the obvious winner. With the jamming field gone, the ships now on an intercept course had been able to successfully query their automated companion and were now already returning to their previous positions.

Something flashed across one of the split consoles and he turned to study it before announcing, "The damage report has been accepted. Designated vessel is to report to..."

He tapped the indicated coordinates and a projected image of the system appeared around him, a highlighted segment indicating one of the maintenance facilities on one of the moons still circling the third planet. That too had been data gleaned from previous attacks; the repair sub-system was very straightforward and simply routed damaged ships to the closest berth - thus the ship they had just replaced had been chosen for where it was relative to the system's orbiting planets and their converted moons.

"Acknowledging the order and initiating course and burn..."

Around him Infiltrator 597 rotated slightly on its axis, tiny flares from its numerous drive rings slowing it around until the largest number were pointed back along the upcoming trajectory. With a white-hot roar they all ignited, the flare continuing as they pushed the ship faster and faster. With repairs scheduled at the end of the trip, there was little reason to reserve fuel except for the deceleration burn at the end.

"...and now we wait," he said, retreating from the consoles to an angled couch that had been built into an alcove on one side of the small command module that had been itself shoehorned into some available space in the depths of the ship. As he lay down, he reached up to flip on an overhead lamp that flooded the small space with rich, radiant starlight. An entertainment console slid out of the wall and - as his body literally spread out into relaxation - he welcomed the onset of the journey with a selection of early space-flight novels from across a dozen cultures...
Last edited by Sunset on Sun Sep 22, 2019 12:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Sunset » Fri Sep 20, 2019 1:39 pm

Director Silaco's Office, Special Projects Research Tower, Landor City, Terra Incognito... Republic Date 175.021...

"...it's pretty neat," Katryna went on, watching the hologram as it drew out the slow progress of the proposed project. "Normally we'd start with the host star but we don't have to - we're not building for an existing population and we don't have to break down and process the materials."

Typically the construction of a Dyson Sphere or even a Ringworld would be a staggering undertaking, even before the structure-proper was put into construction. Leaving all of the planets, moons, asteroids - even micro-meteorites - in place simply wasn't an option. Overlooking one little thing as the construction grew and the old planetary system was demolished could lead to a Kessler Cascade on the level of an entire star system and in fact there had been a notable incident where a Republic explorer had come across just such a system; a churning mass of carnage as pieces old and new slowly ground each other into dust.

This system was better, though only possible through Ascendant Transhuman Shitwizardry; "It's like a three-dimensional printer," she explained as the hologram moved. "As the boundary moves, it converts energy from the stars into matter which is then laid down where programmed. The structures themselves don't move - again, no star and thus no gravity - and unlike a traditional printer we don't have to fabricate from a base layer. There we're taking a page from the Circlets - the sizable infrastructure is going to be built first and then the secondary structures."

"Even when the Circuit is complete - and structures of this size are never really finished - we'll leave the boundary interfaces in place. There's four, really. One for each ring. Then as new advances open up new building opportunities or improvements the boundaries can sweep through and add them in. There's even been the suggestion that they could be used as a mass-evacuation system, to contain a biological weapon, or even to move the whole thing into the Eien before the Big Button Crunch. Plus they will look neat."

Amarillo grinned, "Ah, the aesthetics of mega-structure design. How long is all of this going to take?"

"Well..." She tapped away at an invisible calculator until a number appeared that would have made him spit out his coffee if he'd have been drinking any, "That's, uh... This hologram isn't real-time then."

She laughed, "No! But when the project gets underway it will be. But that's only 8f we use the Wave 3 stars. Wave 4 would cut it down to just past the age of the Eternal Ascendancy of Menelmacar and if we can add Nichibotsu* in, we can cut the whole process down to a much more manageable six and a half years. The nice thing about this design is that we'll be able to divert extra power into it when and where needed, with the four gateways acting as load-balancers. And there's always Wave 6, Wave 7..."

"Doing your best to push us to a full K3..."

"Get there before someone else does," she grinned. "Why should we spend years fighting our enemies when we can simply make them obsolete instead?"

"They aren't already?" he pecked her on the cheek.

"If they don't have someone like me working for them? Then 'yes'..."
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Postby Sunset » Fri Sep 20, 2019 11:25 pm

Joint Briefing Theater, Republic Defense Force 214th Marine Artillery Support Division Headquarters, The ArAreBee Home Islands, Mars, Sol System... The Current Date and Time...


"...the finest warriors in the galaxy. They are there to fight and fighting is what they do best; that is what they believe. We are not there to fight. We are there to win."

~Grand Admiral Jon Yikorusha, RDF Marine Command



"...designated Stormsurge. Based on the Typhoon chassis, it is officially a variant like the Hurricane though there are several full-time production lines being established as we speak."

Which was a lie, though neither the briefing officer nor the assembled officer cadres of the two Marine divisions currently deployed to Mars knew it. As soon as the design had been finalized a single Wave 2 element had been diverted and in less than a day there were now more Stormsurge-variant vehicles in so-called 'dark storage' than the Marines would need to fight (nearly) any war, now or in the foreseeable future. With that bit of braggadocio aside, the reason they were all there was to be briefed or do the briefing on the new weapon platform and so that continued...

"The Stormsurge platform is designated as a 'Theatre Defense System' and is engineered to counter all current or anticipated physical ordinance delivery systems - missiles, artillery, rail guns. Anything that fires or launches a shell or missile." Tapping the briefing screen with her wand, she produced a four-point schematic of the new system before drawing a square around the turret section, which then stretched out to fill a new window while the old slipped off to her right. "To accomplish this, the Stormsurge mounts multiple high-cycle variants of the larger AOR remote displacement system found on Defense Force spaceships. These operate in conjunction with a high-energy BOOBYTRAP sensor array to allow real-time tracking and engagement of threats within the system's engagement range."

Captain Bushnell raised her hand, "Which is?"

"Line-of-sight to the horizon and high planetary orbit. Tactical simulations versus known threat platforms have put it as capable of countering one ship with a high-cycle bombardment capability and up to ten that are not similarly outfitted. Of course this varies by model and technology peerage; the GESTALT total theatre awareness and engagement system will be able to provide exact feedback in the field as well as make real-time adjustments to engagement ratios."

It was push-button warfare at its finest. In truth the Marines who were there-but-not-there to fight were more there as on the ground analysts, providing biological insight to enemy tactics and strategies while the system itself carried on with the intricate cut-parry-and-thrust of the actual fighting. Thus the common Marine was as much psychologist as soldier, though their chair and couch was time-sliced to many thousands of times human perception and so they tended to doodle a lot.

"On engagement, the system displaces the target ordinance into the Stormsurge's exotic catalyst matter conversion reactor - the ECMCR..."

"A live warhead? In one of my tanks?" Captain Hurley interrupted. "That sounds like a bad idea."

"The incoming transfer is filtered through the same EOD matrix as used by the AOR aboard ship, Captain. This renders most warheads and propulsion systems inert, with the exception of anti-matter warheads. Since the ECMCR is not designed to deal with anti-matter, projectiles with these warheads will be only partially displaced," she produced another hologram illustrating the concept, a cut-away warhead detonating moments after containment was breached by the simple mechanism of removing most of it. "This means that ordinance of this nature will have the highest priority with the ideal intercept being in or near the launcher."

The cut-away switched to a diagram of the missile in its launcher and this swept out to a schematic of something that looked suspiciously like a Congo front-line missile boat - though they were not known to use anti-matter warheads. With her wand the presenting officer tapped through the phases of target acquisition, displacement, detonation, and then a chain detonation that resulted in the complete loss of the diagram vessel.

"It is also useful to note that the system is self-energizing. Each intercepted projectile is fed into the reactor which converts it to energy which allows more intercepts. It is, however, delicate and maintenance-intensive and vulnerable to FTLi disruption. In scenarios even light damage to the platform results in severe system degradation. The Stormsurge will protect you, Captains - if you protect it."

"Now, the Typhoon can do a lot of that," Captain Bushnell pointed out. "It can't do the fancy self-fueling bit but both the primary and secondary batteries can shoot down anything they can see..."

That was a point broadly true of near-all Defense Force platforms and systems. The same lensing that allowed them to fire at radical off-bore angles allowed even a 'basic' Marine rifle to act as a point-defense system and this was particularly effective when combined with the GESTALT network's ability to automatically detect, allocate, and engage threats many thousands of times faster than a mere biological system.

"True. The Stormsurge does bring some more cards to the table though. A sub-system has already been established to allow it to act as a particularly 'interesting' anti-infantry platform..."

This time the wand produced a hologram that sprang to life as one of the super-heavy hover tanks advanced on an entrenched infantry position at flanking speed. The moment an enemy soldier - again the resemblance to Congo marines was uncanny - so much as stuck an arm out a scintillating purple beam shot out and the soldier vanished; "But not fed into the ECMCR - not all of them at least. That would be reserved for certain rabid dogs. Instead the AOR system 'splits' the output, shunting the body into the ECMCR whole the head is fed into a system that donut's it, bags it, and puts it into storage. This sub-system can handle up to one hundred individuals - including all known varieties of powered armor - before the containment unit has to be replaced. Also useful for rapid search and rescue operations."

"...we're so nice," one of the junior cadre piped up. "Most everyone else would just vaporize them or capture and torture them."

"Oh, there's a fair bit of evil to come," the briefing officer replied with a sly smile. "The units that held the first field trials were very creative. Missiles, artillery shells - people. That's all software. Watch..."

She tapped her wand and combat footage appeared, this time of a Stormsurge mixed in among some Tsunami armored fighting vehicles. Regular ARC4 infantry and power armor swarmed around them and they were all moving through the depths of some shattered alien city.

"A 'test run' against Ynij cultists in Qi Space. They were holed up in an abandoned munitions bunker;" one the screen the image showed an impressively-thick looking set of blast doors with a scattering of bodies tumbled around outside where the Marines had cut them down. A pause and there was a scattering of purple beams and dozens of holes appeared in the massive doors. Marines and synthetic infantry surged forward; "Breaching operations, structural sapping, entrenching - anything where you might want to remove some material. We've already had a request for a man-portable variant for use by the Exploration Command and by the Intelligence service - something about robbing a bank."

There were smiles all around at that and Captain Hurley spoke up, "So, if we have a problem, if no one else can help, and if we can find them - when can we expect these to be deployed?"

"Right now," came the ready answer. "Given the situation on Mars, your divisions will be bolstered with a reinforced Stormsurge company with their logistics and technical elements. These are arriving as we speak. Additional units will be made available to allied forces on the ground with a priority given to civil defense units..."
Last edited by Sunset on Sat Sep 21, 2019 1:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Sunset » Sat Sep 21, 2019 3:15 pm

RDF-Ojeni, En Route to Circlet VI, Alpha Quadrant... Republic Date 175.027...

"...I can't help but thinking there was something more there," Sloane said, her slender face thoughtful as she laid on the bed in their shared quarters, a half-digested book laid out in front of her.

The reason for the sudden shift in date and setting was as uneventful and boring as one might suspect - after further conversation with the three gate keepers, Ojeni and her crew had been ordered to establish the location and numbers of the sprawling diffuse entities known as the Yelac. Weeks of zipping from here to there had established both, with a few dozen scattered over the Western edge of Qi Space and stretching out toward the galactic periphery. They'd even found the Emperor, who was currently pushing his immense self between two neighbouring star-systems but a reasonable effort to open a dialog had found him indisposed.

Him? It? The language construct was as nebulous as the Yelac themselves.

"What do you mean?"

Kami - sans boots - had her feet up on the desk that wrapped around the suite's half-enclosed 'office' area where she was casually reviewing the briefing docs for their new assignment. Diligent xenoarcheology work by a multi-national team on Circlet VI had established that the civilization now dwelling in Setting One was of extra-galactic origin. Thanks to the nefarious machinations of the Krȃng, they had managed to survive the last few eons as an agrarian civilization while myth and legend told of a time when they too once reached to the stars.

Apparently one of the survivors had carved the whole thing out on a rock so no one would forget and then everyone promptly forgot. A chance visit here, an accidental discovery there, and the story of their past became the shared stories of gods and demi-gods.

"It just seems odd for the Druth'Haari to point us right there as a distraction from what the iWe were up to when they could have pointed us in a thousand different directions or just shown up themselves and acted all enigmatic for a few weeks as we pepper them with questions and their kids slip out through the back door. No..." she closed the book firmly, "they were running cover for the kids, but they wanted us to knock over the Qi and uncover the story of the Yelac and the Dranahovi. Or the reverse order."

"I'd say knocking the Ynij down was accidental. But the Yelac and the Dranahovi? Intended. If I were to guess..."

"What?"

"I'd say you put your finger on it. The Druth'Haari needed someone to clean up after their kids because their kids couldn't do it themselves. Which means I'm wrong about the Qi," she shrugged. "But I wouldn't be surprised if there's a morality tale wrapped up in there too. At least the DH version of morality."

Sloan spun around until she was sitting cross-legged on the edge of the bed, the book now pushed off to the side and wholly forgotten, "Alright - what's the morality tale?"

"You ever notice that the Druth'Haari don't seem to do anything? Or at least not very fast? We kinda assume that's part of their biology. Crystals don't move very fast. What if we're wrong? I mean, they seemed to move pretty fast here. What if the moral of the story - from their perspective - is 'take your time'. Some.things are too important to get wrong the first time. The Dranahovi screwed up by not being careful, then the iWe screwed up by getting involved in a fight they didn't have a dog in. They then killed off who-knows how many of likely one of the rarest and oddest species in the galaxy and the Dranahovi were still forced into extra-dimensional hiding. Also with however many dead."

Commander Sloan eyed her captain suspiciously, "Is that why you're actually reading the briefing materials for once..?"
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Postby Sunset » Sun Sep 22, 2019 2:44 pm

Inside the Nazi Base, The Vinson Massif, Antarctica, Earth, Sol System... Not Long After...

It was only a short corridor and brief exploration of the yawning antechamber beyond that the expedition suffered its first casualty; "Ow ow son-of-a-bitch ow," Kraus complained as he sucked fuhrer'iously on the blood welling from the long cut on the underside of his pinky.

Get it? Fuhrer'iously, furiously...

Oh, never mind.

He'd made the unforced error of taking off his thick gloves that were doubtless made of some futuristic material that would have protected his soft, pale flesh from the ragged spike of rusty metal that adorned the end of the railing like the spike through some ironic hipster's ear. That had given the four some time to actually take in the space, though Fredrick spent most of his opportunity whining like a teenager.

"...you sound like an air raid siren," one of the techs noted as he swept the focused beam of his lantern over the interior. The reason for the great breadth of the imposing blast-doors was now obvious with a pair of half-track anti-aircraft monstrosities parked on either side of an honest-to-god tank. Behind these was an oddly-shaped aircraft but it was the closest of the two half-tracks that he began to circle, looking them over and bending to inspect here or there.

"Looks like it was a Flakpanzer 38, but this is new," he put a hand on a barrel-shaped mechanism that sat alongside the thing's single gun. "That and they weren't half-tracks. That's odd..."

He lifted his hand for a moment then returned it to the device, "It's warm."

Scrambling out a hand-scanner from his pack while the other gathered around, he powered it on and pointed the business end at the attachment, "It's really hot - radioactive. It isn't uranium either..." Pressing a button, he waited a second and then squinted at the display, "Doc, you're not going to believe this!"

"Krausium-212."

The tech squinted again, his face dimly lit by the glow of the display and the bullseye lantern, "Okay, you are going to believe it. How did you know?"

"Krausium-212 is the depleted form of the artificial element used in the nucleo-synthetic reactors that powered those upside-down city-ships we found based on the markers left in my DNA. Very dense - it would make an excellent projectile if it wasn't for the radioactive half-life. I mean," the scientist waved the wrong hand dismissively, eliciting a wince of pain, "Ow. If you care about that sort of thing."

Reaching into his pocket, the tech pulled out the magazine for the gun he'd recovered earlier and repeatedly the process, "Same thing. Krausium-212. Which means..."

"There's a supply of it somewhere," the second tech offered, sweeping his own light around the chamber as though he might just settle it on a huge cask marked with a 'Radiation' placard and stenciled gothic characters labeling it as a material named after a person who wouldn't be born for another two centuries.

"...no. Well, that too, but I was more thinking why this gun is so heavy." Switching the magazine for the pistol, he pointed the scanner into the magazine well and at the barrel, "Lead. So at least they knew they were playing with something dangerous."

"And we have a map," Fredrick said, indicating the scanner. We'll head straight towards the largest concentration it can detect, weeding out secondary sources as we..."

"Found some!" Meri interrupted, turning heads as she waved at them from not a dozen places away. The blue-skinned Kaissi was standing under the wing of the oddly-shaped aircraft- which was, by design, mostly wing - and she had her own scanner out and was pointing it at an ominous oblong secured to a notch in the plane's fuselage. "Its gotta be a bomb... Oh - there's another one!"

In fact a brief survey of the insets revealed the airplane to be as much 'bomb' as 'plane' though the scientist was quick to point out, "That doesn't make any sense. Krausium-212 can't fission. Not unless you shove it together with enough explosives to make the point moot."

"Dirty bomb. Because Nazis," the second technician offered. "The V2 - the Germans were not above using terror weapons."

"...true..."

There was a long moment of awkward and unnecessary silence and then Kraus hefted his carbine, gave Meri a pat on her heavily padded backside, and pointed the gun towards the back end of the chamber, "Well, let's move on!"
Last edited by Sunset on Fri Oct 04, 2019 9:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Sunset » Sun Sep 22, 2019 9:28 pm

RDF Training Academy 2, Peabody (Colony World), Far Western Fringe of the Ares Super-Cluster... Republic Date 174.037...

"...one of the many issues with the various rating systems available is either a lack of granularity or too much granularity. That is, any rating scale employed must be capable of passing pertinent information without too much explanation but with enough information so as to be useful. For example," the instructor tapped their lectern and a series of images appeared behind them with Quunto sitting up to take particular notice. "The Kardashev scale. To distill it down, the 'KX' scale assigns a civilization a number based on the amount of energy they are able to consume and thus - reasonably - harvest. A K1 civilization can consume the energy produced by a single planet, a K2 by a single star, and a K3 by a single galaxy."

"But as any entrepreneur knows, there's a vast amount of difference between the resources of a one-person business, ten, and then a million. A lack of granularity. Though to be fair to Nikolai Kardashev, his proposal was made in 1964 - early days, as far as Terran space exploration goes. And we still use his scale, though with modifications - lines added to the scale to make the information conveyed more precise and thus more useful."

Another tap at the lectern and a series of tall and short lines appeared across the bottom of the stage with the alphanumeric 'K1' through 'K5' floating above the longer lines, "K1 - the civilization is able to harness and consume all of the energy resources of a single planet. Those that are not able to do this are either referred to as 'pre-Kardashev' civilizations or noted as K.1 through K.9 - the number indicating how much of their planet's resources they consume as a percentage. For a K1 civilization, the following 'plus' indicates the number of planets where they are able to completely control and use those resources. This is useful as there are quite a number of K1 civilizations in the galaxy and in fact the majority of space-faring civilizations you will encounter in your careers will be K1 - K1+4, K1+13. There are even civilizations with hundreds of planets who - technically - do not qualify as K2 civilizations because their total energy consumption is not yet equal to the output of Sol, which serves as the scale baseline."

"For K2 civilizations, the notation changes to scientific since K2 is precisely defined as linked to the output of Sol. A K2+ civilization can consume and direct the total energy output of ten Sol-type stars while a K2+5 similarly has the output of one hundred thousand stars at their disposal. As just stated, K2 or even more-so K2+ civilizations are extremely rare - in fact, most examples of those with a '+' are historical in nature..."

Stepping from the lecture, he began at the right, "K.2 - the Mongol Empire at its height. K1+4 - Solont. K1+584..." A few more names and he was into the K2's, "K2 - the iWe before they left. K2+ - the estimated height of the Krȃng Empire. K2+7 - the Kal-En-Vesho Primarchy before its collapse... K3..." He paused, "K3. An entire galaxy's worth of energy under a single civilization's dominance. At this point the only civilization we can assign that label to is the Druth'Haari but that is not an absolute. We just don't know. They could technically be a K2. K4... As one scholar pointed out, it is quite likely that we would not be able to recognize a K4 civilization as their actions would be that of the ordinary workings of the universe."

"Remember though - as useful as this scale is for some things, it is also an example about how a single label can grossly mislead. It is useful for scholars, academics - even officers, from time to time - but as a measure of a civilization's particular place in the universe it is not all that useful given the large number of 'internalities' - a civilization's potential for growth, its government, even its enemies. An intellectually stagnant K2 might well be powerful on that single scale but change and growth can come faster than we expect it and today's K1 could be tomorrow's K2+."

A hand went up, "Where are we?"

"Interesting question with an answer you probably won't like - 'We're not saying.' We have numbers for everyone else - numbers we've assigned them - and I'm sure they have them for us, but it is the position of the Republic government that confirming that number would have numerous negative consequences. So between here," he stood above the K1 and then took several long steps to the right, "And here..."
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Postby Sunset » Mon Sep 23, 2019 5:29 pm

The Desert Sands of Alderus Prime, Under the Twin Suns of the Samson System, Somewhere in the Southwestern Gamma Quadrant... Republic Date Unknown...

"...this isn't so bad," Timmons grunted, the shackles around his wrists and ankles rattling as he took another staggered half-step forward.

"...not at all," Deanna agreed, both hands hauling feebly at the thick howser that snaked over her shoulder.

"...kind o' refreshing, really," Meli seconded, planting a foot firmly in the sand to haul the entire assembly forward another half-meter.

"No talking!" the closest guard snapped, raising her whip to add crackling emphasis to her words. If any of them noticed the pain it was only the bedraggled-looking German Shepherd that looked from captive to captive, her dust-caked brown eyes filled with concern.

Ahead, behind, and to either side of the three long lines of slaves stretched across the desert with all three coming together at the base of a towering monolith that had been inching its way across the still-burning sands all night. Once - millennia ago or when the slavers had first stumbled across it - Alderus Prime had been the homeworld of a great civilization. Grand complexes of intricate and careful engineering had been built to take advantage of the natural wonder that surrounded them. Tucked into looming caverns, carved into the sides of great canyons, perched at the edge of dizzying waterfalls; each held the collected cultural and artistic treasures of the vanished Alderi. One of these had been the titanic carved stone pillar behind them, the single slab carved into the relief of a woman standing wide, her hands outstretched to hold a tapered basin while a door or archway passed between her thighs.

Pried from its foundations, it was now on its way to the lone outpost of civilization to adorn the arid world - if one was willing to stretch the definition. It was a task that would take many days but serve useful purpose. The statue had been purchased by some foreign buyer, willfully or not-at-all ignorant of the crimes required to bring it to their door. The slaves too would be kept busy, away from the normal overcrowding of the pits in the market where plots were laid and valuable merchandise lost when the vicious guards cut them down. For the ignoble few who ran the city the benefits were a life of decadent hedonism; morals so abandoned that they thought nothing of rape and murder on the streets.

"...ah'n Ah'll do worse ta them," the Dwarf muttered under her breath as the snapping hide laid down another welter line across her shoulders. "We all ready?" she asked, side-eyeing the dog, who maybe-kinda nodded, "Good."

The dog was part of the plan.

Since the three had slipped into the market and included themselves among the teeming masses in the slave pits, Anya had been mostly ignored. Another abandoned mongrel in a city of lost souls. She'd ignored the odd boot, dodged the occasional rock, and used her utter freedom to scout both the city and its surroundings. Every alley, every drug den, every hidden cache had revealed themselves to her eyes and nose. She knew where the bodies were buried and had even watch several of them bury themselves, troublemakers who had run foul of the city's overlords and had ended up with a knife across the throat.

Another hour and they were at their destination though the guards seemed inclined to carry on through the night. A rocky bluff rose out of the desert here, its high crown adorned with a temple to a long-forgotten sun goddess, her statues and worshippers looted or vanished. On the closest sun-shaded side there was a small outpost; two huge rusted water tanks, a solar generator with its cables snaking away to panels on the far side, and three small half-buried huts for the use of guards who found themselves too far from the city to risk travelling during the oppressive day. No such luxury was to be had for the slaves; they would be motivated to work harder as the twin suns climbed to a lethal zenith.

Ahead of the shackled slaves the two hover trucks that had played out rider to the host cut across the front to heave to a stop in front of the water tanks. "No resting!" the closest taskmaster ordered. "You stop, you die," she threatened, certainty in her sun-scarred face. "You'll get water as you move. If you move.

Those with the energy to look up curiously gave her words their own impetus as their eyes fell on the road ahead. To either side and scattered here and there lay the bodies and the bones if those who had failed to heed her warning. Corpses from a thousand worlds abandoned in silence. Heads bowed again and the line heaved forward, the uplifted statue scraping its steady way towards the distant city.

Except for two.

His expression bland, Timmons looked over the hunched shoulders of the reptilian in front of him towards the little huts and the hover trucks parked outside. A small knot of slavers had untangled themselves from the cab and bed of the trucks and they were now approaching the middle of the three, conversing casually among themselves. The first reached for the door, pushed it aside, and burst into flames. Behind what had been a man the others erupted as well, comes of flame shooting out the open windows of the trucks as cinder cones toppled out of the open beds. An ominous creak rolled across the desert and the big man put his head down just as the two water tanks exploded.

Instantly all eyes were on the fireball with many of the slaves throwing themselves to the ground while their masters either stood slack-jawed or began to run towards the conflagration. The closest was among these and with her back turned she failed to notice the sudden surge of moment from one of her charges, the chains that had held her swinging once around her head as she dashed past the woman in the blink of an eye. Swung flat, the chain caught her across the back of the thighs, snapping both legs off and sending her toppling backwards in paired arcs of crimson blood. As Meli pounded towards her next victim Anya leapt, grabbing a man by his crotch and shaking him vigorously as he shrieked. That was time enough for the big man to twist his own bonds free and he raced over to the fallen overseer in a hunch, relieving her of her weapons just as the life faced from her face.

Shots rang out and he turned, throwing himself to the side just in time to watch as the Dwarf ducked under and twisted around a pair of shots before throwing the shackle in her hand through the man's face. A snapping kick across the ankles and he was down, the chains pulled free to spin above her head as she looked at the closest slaver with a wicked grin visible even in the dark. He turned and ran though it did him no good as she chased down the cat-like alien, jumping at the last moment to sucker-punch him in the back of the neck. While he flopped broken onto the sand she ran on, eliminating the rest of the guards in otherwise 'creative' ways as she passed.

Timmons had his own task to complete. Deanna was first, the woman's pistol pressed into her hands as he ripped her chains apart, "Go," he pointed towards the ruins of the outpost, "We don't have much time!"

She nodded and he ran on, reaching the split in the thick rope where it was all tied together around the statue. Even this far out from the city they couldn't have failed to notice and he frantically cut at the rope bundle with the blade he'd found on her belt. A switch under his thumb brought the knife to humming life and the fiber parted easily, "Alright! Everyone - follow her!"

To emphasize his words the Seeker stood in front of the flames waving her arms, attracting their attention as the now-separated strands of slaves began to shakily move forward dragging those who did not want to or could not move along with it. A moment later something appeared in the lee of the rocky outcrop and they came to a halt again as whatever it was began to move. Then something shot away from the underside towards them and lights came on to illuminate the low-slung shape of an aerodynamic warmachine backing towards them, its rear hatch open.

"Come on," he caught at the shoulder of a slave who was hesitating, "Friends! Let's go!"

And they needed to get out of there quickly; in the distance he could see lights starting to rise from the city. Ships, fighters - he could only guess. But there was only so much time to get everyone aboard before the responders reached the rock and found themselves in the gunsights of a very angry super-heavy grav tank...
Last edited by Sunset on Mon Sep 23, 2019 9:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Sunset » Wed Sep 25, 2019 2:23 pm

Inside the Nazi Base, The Vinson Massif, Antarctica, Earth, Sol System... Just Down the Next Hallway...

"...nice to be surrounded by familiar faces again, isn't it, Doc?"

There was a 'flash' and Doctor Kraus moved again, mugging for the camera as he wrapped one arm around the 'shoulder' of the taller rectangular chamber and twisting his face into an exaggerated smile; 'flash'

"It sure is," he remarked, stepping away from the tube and staring at the occupant through the glass. "But I can't help but think there's something a little... off."

Past the antechamber the complex had proven to be far larger than any had expected with workshops, storage areas, a barracks, and then now this usefully-sized laboratory. Here they'd found the first clean connection to the Doctor and Meri's first expedition to Earth and the secret base in the Uruguayan jungle. Tucked into individual alcoves carved into the bare rock of the Massif were a half-dozen two-meter cloning tanks. Primitive in both design and construction, they were connected by a mass of decaying hoses and cables to individual cloning machines that were then recognizable to loyal readers as the early model of what would eventually become EHMI's best-selling 'Baby-in-a-Box' home fertility kit.

Inside each tube was a dance of the macabre; a naked man frozen in his final gestating pose, each bearing the features of the man who now stared at them, one hand stroking a too-carefully groomed beard. Their fates had been sealed when the clear-green fluid inside had frozen but some had clearly been aware of their doom, faces and hands pressed up against the glass in open-mouthed horror.

"It's the blond hair," one technician suggested, the other nodding agreement. Kraus snapped his fingers and nodding as well; "That's it!"

"Are you sure?" Meri asked, kneeling in front of the tank he was still studying. "Are you sure it isn't their itty-witty little baby penises? Awe, isn't that right?" she tapped at the glass. "Who has an itty-bitty widdle baby penis? That's right... You do!"

"...weird."

"...very weird," the other tech echoed.

"I haven't been doing any tinkering at all," he added, the two turning to look at him with eyebrows cocked. "What?"

"Nothing," they said in unison, turning away one to cough falsetto and the other to begin looking through a random set of drawers.

"Good idea," he agreed, moving to the next set and pulling open the top drawer to reveal a set of horrible-looking medical instruments that had no place in the lab of Doctor Mengele or Doctor Frankenstein. "If there's going to be a clue to what we can expect to find further on, it is going to be here," he continued, swapping the first drawer for the second which was somehow worse.

Meri had taken the hint as quickly and she held up her scanner excitedly, "More Krausium-212!" Swinging it around, she locked on to a nearby source which led her back to the tanks and the closest cloning machine in particular. "Freddy, was there Krausium in the machines we found in Uruguay?"

"I don't believe so, dear," he answered absently, his eyes passing over the contents of the next drawer and a vital clue that would come to haunt him in years to come. "Why? Let me guess... Explains the blonde hair and the tiny dicks."

There was more than just a cheap shot at the Reich though; a cask in one corner next to an impressive collection of vintage and 'modernized' antique firearms held a significantly larger amount and the first technician dedicated a reasonable amount of effort to prying off the lock. Inside were row after row of individual bullets and cartridges in a removable tray with more loaded magazines beneath. These he loaded up on until he was fitted out like the cover model on a gun fetish magazine with holsters, bandoleers, and a particularly fine example of a StG44 slung across his chest.

"Maxim One," he answered when questioned. "Pillage then Burn."

"You're going to come away with a nasty set of burns if you keep carrying all those radioactives," the second tech noted dryly, restricting himself to poking through the lot until he came up with a deadly-looking combat dagger complete with thick lead sheath. "I'll take this though."

The lab searched - and pillaged - to the Doctor's apparent satisfaction, the four moved on...
Last edited by Sunset on Wed Sep 25, 2019 11:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Sunset » Thu Sep 26, 2019 8:36 am

Bindilith-on-Limn, Setting Seven, Circlet III, Alpha Quadrant... 3rd Year, By the First King's Reckoning...

"...only suitable to those with a natural skill and talent towards wizardry," the shopkeeper offered, holding the wand out to her but in such a way that he expected Trinya to either push it away or snatch it up at any instant. "Are you possessed of such skill?"

Behind her Lae was looking to the small shop's lonely window where, through glass both wavy and marred with bubbles, he could watch the workers. Thick constructs of iron and stone, they were toiling under supervision as they rapidly built the near-wall of a castle that was growing just outside town. Or was it a tower? The hooded figure who seemed to be in charge appeared to working without plans or diagrams and the tone if the construction seems to vary from dark and brooding on one end to solid and functional on the other.

"...how does it really work," Trinya asked again, this time adding the hopefully-important qualifier.

"Ah." The shopkeeper leaned closer and looked around the store and then to the narrow door before pushing back his hat to answer, "Techically? There's a motion sensor, a holo-projector, and an expert-interpreter chip in there. And a library of pre-programmed spells that depends on which wand you buy. This is a basic wand, so basic spells. Lights, sounds - a real expert can put those to good use, mind - and a little static spark."

This he demonstrated, taking the wand by the handle and flicking his wrist through a particular motion which produced a cascade of electric arcs between the tip of the wand and her arm; "I didn't feel that."

"And you wouldn't. Participants have an implant that interacts with all of this," he gestured wide to the rest of the shop with its collection of potions, implements, and other assorted magical hob-nobbery. "And they are usually dressed for the setting as well."

Which the two were not. Instead they were both wearing their duty uniforms, as Bindilith-on-Limn was only a brief stopover before their next assignment, "Sorry."

The felinoid shrugged, "The Guard won't make a fuss unless you stay too long or get involved. They're there to make sure everything happens in-character. Wouldn't want someone cobbling together a lightning gun - there's a steampunk setting on one of the other Circlets and I looked into it but it just wasn't for me. Too much chance of getting my fur stuck in the gears."

Trinya smiled and finished with a little laugh, "Makes sense! So the wand wouldn't work for me?"

"It would - it just wouldn't work on you. You and your friend could drink all the potions in here with nothing to show for it but a full bladder."

"And the castle?" Lae pointed to the window.

"Ah, that," he answered, his face sour. "There's quite a discussion going on about that in the Great Counsel. Talented young fellow, real gift with a wand, but a lot of us feel that he really should have settled a bit more on his character before coming in and tearing up a nice piece of prime real estate. That tends to be the way it works though - the older players like myself focus on the story while the kids just want to kill monsters and tear things up. If they can get themselves under the wing of a good mentor they can shape up but otherwise..."

He made a kicking motion with his foot.

"Out the door?"

"They can play online if they want something like that. We're here for the long haul and I don't particularly like the idea of some edgy abomination ruining my view for the next thousand years. My vote is for the Great Council to come in and make that place a ruin - maybe with some goblins or a troll - and put him under the thrall of a senior wizard. Then he'll either learn..."

"Or a bard!" Trinya suggested brightly.

"Ha! That would serve him rightly..."
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Postby Sunset » Fri Sep 27, 2019 5:09 pm

Republic Defense Force Marine Command Headquarters, Shiva, Ares System, Alpha Quadrant... Republic Date 175.040... I Think...

"...the majority should be deployed to the Circlets," Commander Arseneo suggested, fingers tapping on the display in front of him as he manipulated a set of number best expressed in scientific notation. "That's where our largest populations of non-Eien residents are and if I wanted to make us bleed before I died, that's where I'd hit us. Put up a halo of interceptor satellites and we'd have a cost-effective layered defense just in case someone does try something. Even with exemplary coverage of the Circlets, we'll have enough Stormsurges left to cover every outhouse, henhouse, and barnhouse in the rest of the Republic, Sir."

"How many outhouses can there be?" Grand Admiral Yikorusha asked rhetorically...




...meanwhile, on Circlet III

"...what the hell is this shit?!" Trinya screeched, looking down at the horrifying prospect in front of her. A single rough board not yet worn down by the backsides of however many future visitors the outhouse expected to receive spanned an open pit that was just a tad too narrow for the aim of some of its patrons. Already flies swarmed around the effluvient and the stench announces the ramshackle building's use from over a hundred paces. A board placed down the middle suggested that two might use the same facility but for a moment Trinya considered locking herself in alone until she realized that that would involve closing the door.

She edged closer, morbid curiosity calling her attention to the hole and its contents. She didn't want to, but she still looked, "Is that..." her voice wavered. "A body?"




"...I couldn't guess that many, Sir. The useful thing is that the Circlets are essentially set up for this sort of thing. The Krȃng have littered the surface of every setting with hidden access points and we can stage our tanks out of them without alarming the populace. Of course, if we could get the particle accelerators working again, we'd have a big surprise in store for any attacker."

"Too much risk though," Jon answered, though his tone agreed...




...meanwhile, back on Circlet III

"...we're pretty confident in the software," the neckbeard replied, carefully positioning his can of soda on the natural shelf formed between chest and gut. "I'm not at all confident in the hardware. There's literally millions of kilometers of cabling running through those things. All it would take is a couple volts to activate some little switch hidden off to the side and this place would be crawling with 'em. The only way you're going to be able to safely bring those accelerators back online is to replace them completely."

"That would be a hell of a project," the questioner said, considering it for a long while before he spoke again. "We can do it, but there might be a way to make sure... The problem is that PTU-557 is so darn hard to scan. If we could be sure that the accelerators were physically isolated - or at least contained - we could pulse a..."

"Pulse what??"

"Classified. Let's just say they wouldn't survive the experience. But that's why we have robots. I'll see about getting some tasked to do a point-by-point survey of the accelerators. It would be nice if we could get our hands on an empty Circlet - then we could just do a full activation and see what happens. Destroy it if we need to..."




"...agreed. Pull together a complete draft, but we'll deploy the Stormsurges as suggested. Either way they are sitting around - might as well have them sit around and wait for something."
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Postby Sunset » Sun Sep 29, 2019 4:05 pm

Setting I, Circlet VI, Delta Quadrant, Milky Way Galaxy... Republic Date 175.060...

"...watch your feet," Captain Blaine warned, the suggestion of caution completely unnatural when uttered by her lips. "The ground is going to be soft, but there should be a... Ah! There it is."

'It' was a rock.

And what seemed like just any rock at that. Large enough for her to just wrap her thin arms around and just high enough to stub her toes on in the dark on the way to the bathroom, the only interesting thing about it was that it was sitting alone at the edge of a clear patch of churned-up dirt in the middle of a small scrub forest.

"Let's see," she edged around the open area, sticking to and trampling down the low wiry bushes that tended to grow at the base of every tree. That part of the briefing materials she'd skipped over, but judging by the way the ends of each twisting branch wove their way into deep grooves on the scaled back of the trees, the two were at least parasitic, if not symbiotic. Reaching the far edge of the circle she took a healthy step up to stand on the stone, "Ready?"

"I'll be shocked if this works," Thomas - Lieutenant Commander Ingersol - ventured with the Coatlicue standing beside him, her fingers woven through his, seconding her agreement, "Really shocked."

"What a couple of Doubting Thomas's!" she answered with a grin; clearly she'd been saving that once since they'd landed, Commander Sloan staying aboard Ojeni to bring a pair of new officers up to speed while the three went to have a face-to-face with the natives. Disregarding their encouragement, she bent both knees and took a big jump, nearly clearing her own waistline and landing back on the rock with a solid 'thump'.

Then they all waited.

And waited, "I'm going to try again. Maybe they're asleep."

Her jump passed the first and she added another - "Just for good measure!" - but again with the same results. A minute passed, then two, and finally Lieutenant Calindra pulled herself away from her partner and began edging through the undergrowth with her foot until.she came across what she was looking for.

"Here," she bent, Thomas watching this with cheerful interest and a wink to the Captain, "Try this."

With one hand she lobbed something to her commanding officer, which turned out to be a dull brown rock about the size and shape of a regulation American football. After nearly dropping it, Kami hated it along the length and squatted down on the edge of the rock, "...fiiine.

One, two, three; she got her locks in with each blow sending a sharp 'cra-thump' through the clearing. Putting the stone off to one side, she rocked back onto her heels and waited, the look of expectation on her junior officer's faces a good indication that they were right and she was wrong - though they didn't need to be quite so smug about it.

"Next time promotions come up..," there was a hollow rumble and the dirt in front of her began to churn, "...you two are getting your own command."

"Is that a threat?" Thomas asked, with Calindra completing his sentence, "Or a promise?"

That had been the bone of contention during the latest round, where Commander Sloan's second shift had 'lost' two promising Lieutenants to executive officer slots aboard newly-commissioned frigates - a very familiar story - while the two first shift officers had elected to stay in their chairs. At least for now. Thomas clearly wanted to stay but the Lieutenant was itching for a command of her own and everyone - Thomas included - knew she had the experience to justify the jump in rank. But the two were close and they had agreed to put off the decision for another half-year though everyone knew what it would be. The Fleet was adding new ships at a pace that would give most Powers a she-dragon orgasm and they needed experienced command crew. Next time it wouldn't be a decision - it would be orders.

Movement in front of her broke Kami's thoughts and she watched as the first of what would be two of the Setting's natives broke the surface, clambering to their feet and shaking the remaining dirt off as they looked around at the three officers. Both were short - a Dwarf would have barely looked up at them - with deep brown skin that well-matched their preferred home. There were other similarities to that other underground species as well, with both having short, powerful arms and legs. Differences there were as well, with broad patches of coarse hair on the chest, forearms, and thighs. Of forearms there were four with two positioned high on either side of a narrow face for good forward reach while two more were crowded more towards the center, their compact size and placement ideal for rapidly moving soil around. This did, however, give them something of the impression of tree roots - especially with the dirt that seemed to still stick to them here and there.

What interested her most as she looked them over was their hands. These too were specialized for digging with each finger being roughly blade-shaped and sporting a design that allowed each of the three to interlock with those next to it, forming a wide scoop. Thick overlapping scales lined the inside of each and this likely explained why her relatively soft landing hadn't alerted them to their arrival - they looked as hard as nails with the last in the row having a defined chisel edge. First one and then the other raised a flat hand to their forehead as they looked around, shading their large eyes from the morning sun.

"Hi!"

"Hello," one answered, first switching hands and then extending the first into a finger-wide gesture, "You are Captain Blaine? We were told you would be coming to ask us questions."

"That's right - we're going to try and find your homeworld. Your original homeworld that is..."
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Postby Sunset » Mon Sep 30, 2019 11:05 am

Setting I, Circlet VI, Delta Quadrant, Milky Way Galaxy... Continued...

"...our history is written on it," the first - who had introduced himself as Uhouk - explained, running one hand above the deeply-carved letters. The stone was an enormous hump, disconnected from anything below and half-covered with something like most while decayed vegetation had built up around the base. That it hadn't weathered away was wonderous fortune, though here and there cracks marred its broad face.

"With the help of those who found us, we have been able to translate its words in their original form and now we understand that we too once walked the surface like you do. Until the Krȃng came. They built this place as we watched, plaguing our lives with their abductions, and then when they had finished they came to conquer. We fought," he indicated a particular section of the odd back-and-forth flow, "but we could not resist and so they took us here to this place. Here we resisted how we could - we dug. We turned our backs on the new star they had forced on us and we have lived so since, only returning to the surface rarely and now when called."

"It did work though," Kami replied. "Your people survived underground. Eighty millennia."

"Longer than we had to," he answered, his translated tone morose. "By your reckoning the Krȃng were defeated soon after this Circlet was moved here. If we had known we could have returned to the surface, thrived, perhaps found a way to escape or make this place our own."

It was a course of action that might have doomed the Tloqsi. Every exploration and investigation of the Circlets seemed to turn up more and different traps that had been laid, all designed to in some way bring about the reincarnation of that dead species. Some were simple - an innocent-looking switch that might open a door - while others were devilishly complex, relying on a specific set of circumstances or not-circumstances to activate. There had been close calls but the explorers were over and over fortunate that the Krȃng too relied on that most basic of substances - water - for their biology.

But there was no need for elaborate correction; "I'm sorry," she said, her words sincere. "We will help you, however we can."

"And this is why you seek our homeworld, " he agreed, his voice brightening somewhat. "This is meager history. So much lost - but perhaps you will find more? Bring it back to us and perhaps make us that smallest piece more whole?"

"That's the idea," though she knew it would be tricky. The time-travel observations of the Krȃng empire before it was destroyed by the i'Halalaentariel were useful but incomplete. Any number of stellar phenomena could scatter the light from a particular star so much as to be useless. A nebula might stand in the way, or the twisting of a binary pair might hide worlds where life flourished. There was also the problem of the sheer volume of the Monoceros Ring, that circle of universe just beyond the edge of our galaxy where the distributed remains of previous galactic collisions clung on tenaciously to the gravity skirts of the galaxy. While it perhaps numbered in size less than the stars of many contemporary empires, the Krȃng had exceeded nearly all in volume - and the i'Halalaentariel had done their level best to erase any history they might have left behind.

Except for the Circlets.

Why those in particular? Perhaps they had a soft spot for those species taken thrall by the Krȃng. It was a question that had been put to them but not answered.

"What we're looking for is anything that might be useful in locating your homeworld against a particular patch of sky. Constellations, unusual stars - perhaps your homeworld orbited a binary pair of stars. Anything that could help narrow down the search. Of course you weren't alive then, but maybe something in your myths and legends. Anything at all might help."

"We will help you how we can," he gestured to the other, who they had come to understand was also his mates partner. "Though you will have to first explain to us what these things - nebula, binary - mean. We are the lorekeepers - which is why you must have asked for us - but the stories are old and some will have changed. But first, tell me of these things..."




"...the story tells us that the first to walk on the face of the land, Tloqsi - after whom we all take our name - hated the brightness of the sun so much that he considered leading his family back into the earth from where they had come. But his daughter Lpse, who had come to love the land, begged with her father not to take them back. 'Look at all these things,' she asked - 'Do they not outweigh the strength of the sun?' His eyes were wide though and his hand slender," he demonstrated, holding his own up edgewise to not quite block the growing sun. "And finally he decided to return to the ground. On telling her this she pleaded and pleaded, but he would not change his mind and declared that when the sun next rose they would all go back to the ground."

"However, when the sun rose the next day, he opened his eyes to find that it was far less painful. You see, through the night Lpse had sat and though and come up with an idea. Gathering to herself many strands of reeds, she made for herself a shawl and a skirt - the first clothing - and she stood before him as the sun rose and where he walked, she walked. So delighted by this was he that he sent her up to the sky that her skirts would would shield the eyes of all as she danced across the skies forever..."
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Postby Sunset » Tue Oct 01, 2019 2:53 pm

Military Applications Wing, Special Projects Annex, CORE XVI Deep Space Station, Alpha Quadrant... Republic Date 175.067...

"...not if we jam their radar!"

The Lieutenant looked up at the Commander, a sigh of long frustration seemingly permanently etched on his felinoid face. This was the part of the demonstration he simply loathed and while Commander Wess had said the line - that line - there was no way he was going to continue the chain unprompted, even if the icon on his console did look like a particularly large bottle of raspberry jam hurtling through space, "Yes Sir - jamming enemy sensors."

"Alright," Wess was clearly disappointed, though the long-haired officer failed to let that distract him from the rest of the demonstration. "Helm, put us right behind them - as quick as you can!"

"Aye, Sir;" and faster than seemed plausible the little Corvette slid out from where it had been facing off with the much larger and suspiciously familiar super-battleship to race along its underside while turrets that had been facing them spat useless bolts of plasma at now-empty space.

"Target their primary power systems..."

Which had to sit underneath a few dozen layers of different types and thicknesses of armor; their enemy was no slouch, even if the aesthetic ended up as a jumbled mess of boxes that ended up costing the ship mass that could have been better spent on pretty much anything else.

"..single torpedo, hundredth yield, fire."

Which was definitely not how real space combat worked, but with the luxury of the demonstration environment the Commander could afford to jazz it up a bit and the resulting hole didn't hurt. Raw stellar energy had punched through from one end of the ship to the other, leaving it a cored-out mess of barely connected structures.

"...whoops. Did I say hundredth? I meant thousandth."

Fortunately for the Commander's performance review, the whole thing was just a simulation - though whether it had usefully demonstrated the desired new system was another question. A question that the engineer who had developed said system was clearly struggling to answer, "What was all that?!"

"That was the demonstration?"

"It pretty much looked like you were blowing up Space Ball One to me..."

"Oh, you caught that?" Wess asked, clearly pleased with himself. "Lieutenant Pink Claw didn't want to say the lines, but I thought..."

"I thought that it doesn't exactly show off the capabilities of my new jamming system!" Dinal'San nearly shouted, lurching out of the chair at the back of the 'bridge' to come nearly chest-to-chest with the officer. "This isn't for a video game - this demo will be shown to the entire senior staff! This demo will be the difference between my system being adopted and that... that... that cretin McDaniels getting the pick!"

"...oh."

Dinal'San collapsed into his chair, his breath coming in shallow, rapid gulps. Not that he hated McDaniels - in fact the real cretin was either Commander Wess or himself. He'd bumped into the officer in the commissary and he'd been doodling something on a tablet and one thing had led to another and he'd ended up asking him if he could create a tactical demonstration of his newly-minted sensor jamming system. But clearly the Commander was better suited to doodling milk jugs than presenting the intricacies of a new electronic warfare platform.

"...Danil'San," the voice of the Lieutenant from behind them drew their attention and he looked past the Commander's legs to where the Neko had turned in his seat to look back at them. "If I might - I've prepared an alternative demonstration that might be more suitable?"

The engineer looked up at the officer who in turn looked over his shoulder to glare at his subordinate. That look told him everything he needed to know, though he couldn't help twisting the knife a little, "Go ahead - can't be worse than that."

"Here," they were gestured forward to closer seats - which the Commander took grudgingly - and the Lieutenant queued up his own demo on the large forward screen. Like before, the sequence played out from the perspective of a starship bridge but this time there were cuts back and forth to wireframe diagrams of the system in question that rolled out to full holograms, a deep-voiced narrator, and virtual actors that weren't quoting lines from a movie now two centuries old - even if it was a classic.

"...leveraging the Defense Force's real-time target and sensor acquisition system, the Ds11 is able to discreetly target an opponent's sensor emitters as well as the receiving apparatus, effectively blocking all currently known target acquisition and resolution methods..."

"Enemy vessel's sensor and communications systems are jammed, Sir," one of the virtual officers reported. This was accompanied by an overlay that picked out the various sensor systems on the anonymous vessel, showing their various types from radar to mass and even similar 'reality' systems as well as the enemy external communications systems and the receivers for both sets and then marking all as 'BLOCKED' in bold.letters with alternating red and black stripes; "Very good..."

"...this is accomplished by discrete targeting of the emitters themselves," the demonstration cut to a test-stand where a radar-type emitter was positioned to 'bounce' its pulses off a nearby reflective target where they would then be received by a neighboring antenna, "replacing the local matrix in real-time with one of several neutral images stored in the Ds11. Because this also interrupts most faster-than-light transmission methods, it can also block or counter the few..."[/i]

"...more efficient than wide-spectrum jamming systems because it only has to interrupt the signal being sent..."

"This looks a lot better," Danil'San commented as the reel came to an end. "It needs some polish here and there, but as long as you don't let him," the engineer pointed deliberately and specifically at Commander Wess, "anywhere near it, I'm feeling a lot better..."
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Postby Sunset » Wed Oct 02, 2019 1:20 pm

The Desert Sands of Alderus Prime, Under the Twin Suns of the Samson System, Somewhere in the Southwestern Gamma Quadrant... Republic Date Unknown...

It had been a strange night in the marketplace.

First there had been the sound of an explosion in the desert - not too strange, if Dmetr was to think on it - but then one of the small, fast ships used by the guard for their occasional forays into the same had lifted off and headed out of the city. Again, presumably to check on the source of the explosion. 'Nothing particularly odd about that', the merchant reasoned again, as if to convince himself that what had followed was also entirely normal. By then there had been a murmur going through the stalls and vendors because something had of course happened and a few of those with the means to satisfy their curiosity had followed.

Then he'd noticed that the birds had disappeared.

This was particularly odd as Dmitr sold birds; pretty little things that lived in sparkling brass cages that he had hung from the poles that surrounded his little stall. When a ship would come in, he would inquire after them and when a ship left he would make it known that he was willing to buy. Then he would keep them until they caught the eye of a fine lady or young child who wished for some vibrant companionship. But they were all gone now, leaving their cages empty and silent.

Not long after there had been another explosion, this time visible just above the baked clay walls that surrounded the center of the city and thus the market. This had been quickly followed by more, as rapid as gunshots, and again silence. This time the market had emptied- guards running to their ships or to the walls, merchants and buyers to the safety of their homes, and the slaves to their pits where they cowered against the earthen walls. More ships had again left, those smaller and faster racing into the desert while the great gunship maintained by the ruler of the city lifted off to hover ominous over the walls, unsure whether to stay or go.

Perhaps its hesitancy had saved it as more bursts of sound and light had been visible over the desert, quick blooms of orange and red that had lit Dmitr's face as he stood riveted at the counter to his stall. There was no place for him to run, to hide - his home a sheet of metal at the back of the enclosure propped up on two open crates that contained the meagerness of his possessions. So he stayed to watch, the emptiness of the cages around him a reflection of the market itself. From his chosen post he had likely been the only one to see it - a flash of light from beneath the great split tails of the loitering gunship and the strange sight of something - someone? - rising up from the ground below.

Hope for another glimpse at this strange sight had kept his eyes focused there for a while but perhaps it had only been an illusion, a mirage brought on by the hour and some strange illumination from the desert. After a while the craft had turned, flown once over the circuit of the city as though unsure of its destination, and then likewise headed out to the desert in the same direction as the others. This time Dmitr had been sure that an explosion would follow - enough that what little spare coin he had would have changed hands - but it would have been the oddsmaker who would have taken his money. Instead there was only silence.

In the lamp-lit darkness a woman screamed.

Then there was an oddly-loud 'thump' from somewhere over his shoulder and he turned to watch as the second of a pair of guards who had taken up residence at the top of a nearby building slowly toppled from her place. Pitching head over heels she landed next to the sprawled body of the first with the finality of a broken neck. Another scream and something flitted past his vision, a tiny form that resolved into that of one of his birds, its glittering wings flickering a thousand times a second. It stopped in front of him as though it recognized him but there was a strange light in its eyes and his hand - raised as if to take it once again and place it in the cage that was its proper home - stopped of it's own accord. A blink, a cock of the head, and it was off again.

The market was still once more.
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Postby Sunset » Thu Oct 03, 2019 4:10 pm

Director Silaco's Office, Special Projects Research Complex, Landor City, Terra Incognito... Republic Date 175.072...

"...how long?" Amaril asked again, his expression oddly serious for a male of his species and to which her answer to the previous version of his question had been 'more than enough to fill me up!'

Seeing that he hadn't fallen for the bait - it was after lunch - Katryna looked crestfallen for a long minute before giving him the straight answer, "That much mass? Three weeks, give or take. What's this idea of yours?"

"That's what I though," her husband replied before clarifying. "It's an idea I've stolen - taken - borrowed if you like - from our friends and modified with some new ideas and technologies that weren't around when they were deploying their system. This was years ago - the Argus Array. They put a small 'dark' sensor probe up around every star in the galaxy;" to which she nodded, "Right - but now we have TRIPWIRE. Why repeat their moves? That shit will get you laughed off the dance floor."

His smile was sly and knowing, "Because as I said - new ideas, new technologies. New moves. The basic idea is the same - we churn out enough of these," he turned his hand over to produce a hologram of a dark, slightly menacing-looking star-shaped satellite with a circle of collectors around a central eye-like hub. "To put one outside the heliopause of every star in the galaxy. Like it? I did some groundwork already..."

She nodded and leaned forward to look closely at it, "Doesn't look like anything we've built. I'm guessing that is something of the point?"

"Yep. I had one of the new kids draw up the aesthetic. The idea is that we don't want these to be traced back to us. It won't look like anything we've built, it won't work like anything we've built. At least not like anything anyone outside our small circle of friends has seen. If someone comes across one of these and shoots one up, I don't want them to be able to learn anything from what they find. They will be useful though."

"TRIPWIRE is great for what it does," he went on, "but it has a few holes. We can use it to track ships, get a general overview of a system, even monkey around with certain things. But what it can't do is show us the real-time visuals of a system. A ship came, a ship left, and we can maybe track that ship by its drive signature, when it left, where it arrived - but we have to have the array focused on that system to do more and even that still has limits. These satellites will be more old-school. Telescopes, antenna. Passive emissions. For the most part..."

Her eyebrow went up and she shot him a suspicious look so fast he nearly didn't have time to put his hands up to deflect it, "For the most part?"

"For the most part. See, here's the thing - because of TRIPWIRE, we often know about things that we can't then act on without revealing that we know things we shouldn't 'know' unless we have something like TRIPWIRE, right? The attack on the Delacruz Naval Yard - we know where that came from because we're watching the Martian Conglomerate, but we can't tell the Congos because then they would know that we have a system that can track faster-than-light travel across galactic distances. Putting all of these platforms out there - even if they can't 'actually' do what we claim they can do - will give us the plausible ability to act."

"If we want to. I haven't talked to my mom about it, but I'm guessing she's fine with the Congos losing a few teeth. But okay - you've got a valid point there," she agreed. "Though now we're admitting we built the things."

"No - we're admitting we hacked the things. Anyone who stumbles across one of these things who isn't a gibbering idiot will try to hack them first. I mean - there's a lot of gibbering idiots out there... But there will be the standard internal/external comms air-gap and I'll make a note to the design team to build a remote dump into the system so when someone does hack one, we'll get the logs and can harden our own systems appropriately."

"...so you just thought of that?"

He shrugged, "Yes? Doesn't mean it isn't a good idea. We could probably also use any intrusion to screw with the intruder... Feed them false information supposedly from other probes... Let's not get too far off track," he decided. "Back to new ideas, new technologies. The idea I had was that we'd also build these satellites with a self-configuring hardware module that could be remotely accessed with a new hardware configuration once they are in place. Say the system isn't inhabited - the module is then configured to act as another TRIPWIRE node. Given the galactic population density..."

"The biggest damn TRIPWIRE array you've ever seen," she agreed, a flicker of a smile on her lips. "Okay - and if it is inhabited?"

"Leave it inert," came his quick answer, then he added as he saw the question on her face. "Because then we'd have options. The most dick'ish idea I had? Remotely configure it into the emitter for a Nicoll-Dyson laser, though a lot more powerful since we could put the output of Nichibotsu through it. We could also go more conventional and put up a Super-Gate. That by itself could be very useful if we want to colonize a particular system later. Just move the satellite in-system and it can lay down all the infrastructure we want to put in place. Hell... With all the ideas coming out of the labs, we could reshape an entire system with one of these."

"And that's not a bad idea at all," Katryna said, sitting back to put her fingers together. "Mom would love it. More back-ups, more plans-in-place in case the worse happens."

"Super-dick-move? You know that idea someone had to turn off a star's gravity? Send the planets spinning off into the void? Could do that."

"Could put up a boundary interface around every uninhabited system. Again - galactic population density. We'd be an instant K3... Well, three months or so." Standing up from behind her desk, she walked over to where the holographic model of the Circuit was now slowly building itself, this time now reflecting the actual progress of the mega-structure under construction. It wasn't much more than three tiny slivers, just barely there against a faint starfield. "I'd love to get this thing done faster... There would be some serious brick-shitting though."

"From our enemies? Our... geo-galactic opponents?" he restated, joining her to put one hand on the curve of her butt.

"From our friends. If they stayed our friends. The UIK has been gobbling up stars too - not as many as we have, but they have. And if we went whole-hog on grabbing every uninhabited star? Or even had the apparent capability to do it? Yeah... I think its a great idea, but before we put a single one of these up, I think we'd better run this one past Mom..."
Last edited by Sunset on Thu Oct 03, 2019 4:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Sunset » Fri Oct 04, 2019 7:54 pm

High Energy Weapons Engineering Labs, CORE XIIX Deep Space Station, Somewhere between the Monoceros Ring and the Galactic Disc... Republic Date 175.076...

The Republic was a place where things tended to happen fast. In the buzzword-heavy corporate environments of yesteryear it would have been put down as 'synergy' or more recently 'agile process flow.' With nigh-unlimited resources, near-instant manufacturing capabilities, and intelligent design systems that could fill in a lot of the gaps, it was possible for a new idea to go from afternoon daydream to morning presentation in as little time as that. Iteration inevitably followed, especially in the labs where the engineers and technicians who might design a new whatsit didn't have to worry about getting it made and out to the troops - and nor did they have to worry about things like quarterly stock prices and shareholder meetings.

Thus if Special Projects had an official-unofficial motto, it was 'The Division of Neat Toys'...

"...the Mark Two Eien Rifle. Eien Carbine," Captain C'sgove said, holding up the weapon for inspection. Similar to the first in general appearance, it too was constructed of an all-white material the Director immediately recognized as PTU-557. Unlike the first, this one was laid out as a shorter weapon, almost like a bullpup though it lacked any sort of magazine. Those who really knew their firearms would recognize it as a modified Seburo MN-23, itself a weapon originating in the imagination some two centuries prior. Flipping it over in his hands, he worked through the layout until he came to a cluster of controls worked into the frame just above the trigger, "Because I've always liked 'Carbine' as a word."

"Here," he laughed, "let me show you its features..."

At one end of the workshop a firing range had been installed - or it had always just been there, concealed behind some panel or another. CORE XIIX and all the other CORE-Class Stations were bigger than a lot of mega-cities, after all - space was anything but at a premium. Across the wall a selection of humanoid-bust targets had been set up and he stopped at the first, the Director a respectful few steps behind him.

"First, we've switched out the energy storage for the non-baryonic energy method used in some of the other new systems. It's a much more elegant solution and eliminates the problem of an accidental weapon detonation. It will still disintegrate if the boundary is significantly disrupted but you'll get nothing more than a surge of dark energy. Useful, I suppose, if you happen to be fighting gravity monsters. This is also designed as a field-issue weapon, so the total capacity is one percent of the original."

"More than enough to kill an orbiting spaceship," Katryna noted dryly, with the Captain answering with a nod; "Sure - though we've kept the yield limiters in place. And the weapon itself is keyed and discharged via the Eien. You've got to be on the inside to use it, otherwise," he set it down on the counter and picked up a long rod. As she watched in careful interest, he managed to wedge the weapon up against something until he could exert enough pressure on the trigger to depress it. There was a 'BANG' - literally - and a wooden dowel shot out of the end of the barrel accompanied by the pop and crackle of fireworks and a red banner that unfurled to reveal the matching word.

"You'll know really quick if whoever tries to pick up and use one isn't supposed to. Which takes us neatly to the next feature..."

Picking up the weapon and yanking the stick out of the barrel, he pointed it down-range and pressed one of the buttons above the trigger, "Now, these buttons are there as back-up. All of the functions can be controlled via the user's AR, but again - only if your AR is in the Eien. First fire mode - basic particle beam," he pulled the trigger and a cyan bolt put a neat hole through the target. "Variable neutral particle beam, actually. Variable frequency, variable yield. With electronic target acquisition and fire control," he indicated the sensor cluster just under the barrel, "And off-bore firing, you can hit whatever you or it can see."

It was a standard feature of all Defense Force long arms, but it was a feature worth repeating; combined with automatic target acquisition and engagement, it allowed the user to expose only a tiny portion of the weapon itself and thus gave the user the potential advantage of hard cover at all times. Was it particularly sporting? No - but the Defense Force wasn't there to fight. It was there to win.

The next target was a remarkably accurate if transparent representation of the Captain himself, "Ballistic gelatin. So the second button?" He aimed and again pulled the trigger, the target erupting into flames and then ash as it fell apart. "HOBD. Good for both anti-personnel and anti-material use, especially if the op-for is using fusion reactors. Or, I suppose, are giant walking bio-tanks spitting acid globs. With the automatic target acquisition gear, the weapon will determine how much power it will need to use to punch through whatever shielding 'you' might have. Power armor, tank - whatever. It'll turn you to ash."

"Next," he moved down the range to the next station, "We go old-school. This setting configures the weapon boundary to convert the energy into a physical projectile. When dumb-fired..." This time he braced himself on the counter, the weapon to his shoulder, and lined up on the target before pulling the physical trigger. This time the dummy rocked back and forth slightly, though there was no obvious physical effect other than a 'splash' of whatever rubber-like pellets were heaped up behind it and an extremely loud 'crack' as the projectile broke multiple speed records.

"Small caliber hypersonic Krausium-212. Very dense, very small, very fast - good for pretty much anything where you're not worried about the target moving. Since the projectile is a boundary expression, it begins breaking down the second it leaves the barrel so there's no clean-up. The round type, material, and velocity can be programmed in AR, so..." he raised the weapon again and tapped a button on the counter. One after another more gelatin targets began to rise from the floor and one after another he lined up his sights and pulled the trigger, causing head after head to explode in a shower of off-orange gray matter but with no appreciable sound from the weapon other than the 'whap-splat' of the projectile hitting the target.

"Sub-sonic high-mass lead projectile. Useful for covert operations - or just making a mess," he laughed, turning the weapon on a target at the middle distance and holding the trigger down. "Suppressive fire!"

Since at the specified energy and even at the impressive cyclic rate the weapon would still take days to 'empty', he finally let off the trigger when the target was nothing more than a stump of hard wax spine fixed to its plinth, "Alright, okay. Next fire mode..."

This time the gun spat out a projectile that just... Sat there. On one end was a smooth black sphere and on the other end was a smooth black sphere, both slightly smaller than the cylinder they were set into, "Smart missile. Say friend," he addressed the ordinance directly and it twisted around on the counter, floating up just slightly so that it somehow looked as though one end was looking up at him; 'Yes?'

"Could you go blow up that target over there?" C'sgove pointed down range to where one target had the word 'Space Nazi' stenciled on its chest in black letters. "The one that says 'Space Nazi' on it?"

"Yes, Sir!"

One could almost imagine a salute before the tiny missile up-ended itself, slipped over the edge of the counter, and then quietly and patiently worked its way around the edge of the room, sticking to the shadows and close to the floor until it was nearly at the target's back. Then there was a quick rush and an explosion with chunks of the dummy raining down across the range.

"Erratic smart missile, actually. Same as the GhostDragon uses;" there were stories of the 'eccentric' little warheads sneaking into buildings, asking the receptionist for the right floor, and then knocking on a three-letter executive's door before executing their orders. Others just went full-on suicidal rush, while still others preferred to lay in wait. "As many as you want. Just... passing them out. Augmented control again lets you set the variables while each regular trigger pull adds another little plaything to your own personal army..."

"Okay - are you on your medication?"

"What medication?" he answered sincerely, flipping up the weapon to look at the selector buttons, "You know, there was something I was forgetting. What was it... Ah!"

His fingers had stumbled across some switch or another and he held the weapon up, "So - as I mentioned, the weapon is keyed to the Eien. You have to be in the Eien to fire it, even with the regular trigger. Otherwise you get the flag. But there's... Oh," his finger had landed on another switch. "Forgot. You can also set it to 'flashlight'," and he demonstrated, reaching over to switch the lights off before turning the gun downrange, pointing it at the last target, and hitting the button. A narrow beam of light leapt out to illuminate the far target and he began manipulating the controls to make the beam broader, taller, and finally brighter and brighter until the target burst into flames.

"Imperial Lasgun Mode," he explained. "Okay. Last thing," he turned up the workshop lights just a tad, the still-burning target dummy adding a bit of festive cheer. There was a catch on the side of the carbine's frame and he released this, sliding the entire barrel out into the palm of his other hand. Switching the two back and forth, he held up the variegated cylinder in his working hand, "Check this out..."

He flicked a finger and one end of the cylinder erupted in a slender cyan beam that stopped at just about a meter long. A careful swing and then the blade became a dancing swirl around his body, the glowing edge leaving tracers where it passed through the air, "Lightsaber. But not as clumsy or random as those old models. This one will recognize the wielder," he held out a hand and aimed a slash at his own arm, the blade flickering off and then back on to leave him untouched. "Variable length, variable color," he twisted the bezel below the beam to run it through a rainbow of colors.

"And variable styles," he demonstrated, working another control to change it from a straight plain line to a broad-bladed claymore and then to a curving scimitar. "Neat, right?"

"You're a dork."

"Thanks!" he answered brightly, flipping off the blade and tucking the cylinder back into the frame. "Which means all this is just extra protection for the interface gateway. Now, wait til you see what I've got cooking for the Mark Three..."
Last edited by Sunset on Fri Oct 04, 2019 8:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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