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The Advanced Materials Joint Research Initiative (Closed)

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

“How familiar are you with holographic theory?”

“... like holovids?”

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

“Then not at all.”

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

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

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

“The Domain?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And the Phoenix Domain.”

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

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

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

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

“Which ones?”

“The Nimatojin… and the Macisikani.”

“How much will they not like it?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Project: New Amsterdam.”

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

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

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

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

Phoenix Domain - Conclave Dataspace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We accept the proposal.

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


Phoenix Domain - Speaker's Council

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Security Council, Amsterdam Station, Location Unknown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Considering Project Glass is an imperial project, only three members of the committee have the necessary clearance. We can tell them only what they need to know. So it is settled then."
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The Eridani Imperium
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Postby The Eridani Imperium » Tue Aug 31, 2021 6:29 pm

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

“Ask, then.”

“What do you intend to name this array?”

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

“So it will be the Palantír Array?”

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

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



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

“Lieutenant?”

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

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

“There is an additional discovery to report.”

“Oh?”

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

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

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

“... go on.”

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

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

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

“Is that actually what they said?”

“... in so many words.”

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

“Aye, sir.”

“Dismissed.”

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Oh."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Technomagos Gaelos, Ancestral Universe Philosopher

Image


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Correct,” Altáma said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I put that one to Xolotl,” Altáma said, “sadly no, it does mean we’ll need to bring the replacement cycle forward on the network.”
"If any should be slaves, it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly those who desire it for others. When I hear anyone arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally." ~ Abraham Lincoln
"The Necrons were amongst the first beings to come into existance, and have sworn that they will rule over the living." - Still surprisingly accurate!
"Be you anywhere from Progress Level 5 or 6 and barely space-competent, all the way up to the current record of PL-20 for beings like the C’Tan..." Lord General Superior Rai’a Sirisi, Xenohumanity
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Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Wed Sep 08, 2021 8:28 pm

Jackie's Keep, Location Unknown

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

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

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

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

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

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

Initiating. Beginning Demonstration. 3... 2... 1...
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Postby Alexzonya » Wed Sep 08, 2021 9:16 pm

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


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

“Yeah, fine… what is this?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“... actually?”

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

“The Eridani figured this out?”

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

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

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

Jackie's Keep, Location Unknown

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

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

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

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

"We did it," Delaney gasped, "Fuck."
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Postby Alexzonya » Sun Nov 14, 2021 8:13 pm

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Did you ask?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I see. Thank you. We can…”

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

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

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Postby The Ctan » Fri Jan 28, 2022 4:11 am

The Single-Event Upset

Kyari Thaltorum Prescet of House Thao, Clan Tua held her hands before her in meditation, all four limbs combining to a complex mudra, her eyes were closed, and she remained stock still, she took regular breaks through the day to focus and contemplate, or to clear her mind depending on her needs. She rose as she felt her goals accomplished, and strapped a long blade to her hip, she was a scientist, but she was also a Kasatha, and a citizen of the Great Civilization, she rarely went anywhere without one, or a firearm.

The latter had been used during the recent excitement. The expedition had been pleasing to her, and she had thoroughly enjoyed the recent excitement, but for now, the ship and its crew of several thousand were back on their original intended mission, and she carried a dozen more everyday items as she returned to the office she’d sequestered much of her work in.

This was not a large space, she was not conducting physics experiments here, instead, she had taken to keeping herself in a room with enough displays to satisfy her curiosity about what the ship and its observers had been reporting back.

The shipmind of the Single-Event Upset was a constant companion in this kind of work, but it was not so rude as to pry or to influence the crew’s thoughts too much with well-meaning suggestions, while it was perhaps several orders of magnitude smarter than any of them, there was a certain benefit to having a crew on board that the ship appreciated.

Taking a seat in a chair spun from nets and tensile gables, she waved her hands, calling up hard light interfaces, and opened her mind to the hekatic array she possessed. This was a part of her overall halo, a battery of senseiver implants and equipment in eximate spaces, folded pockets of spacetime, that let her perform tasks remotely. It was not quite a simple mind-machine interface, but it could serve that role if she wished. She set simulacra of her current goals to browsing with it, and it served as a dozen extra pairs of eyes and hands to peruse the data that flowed through the ship.

Kyari had a hypothesis.

She had studied several disciplines to a professional level, but one of them was the nature of how civilizations acquired and used what the C’tani called archeotech.

There was no particular shame in this field, as she viewed it. Almost every prosperous state did use archeotech, the Nimatojin and the C’tani themselves had at times reverse engineered other people’s ideas.

That wasn’t really the trend she had set out to look for, instead, she’d wanted to see what degree of synthesis of ideas from archeotech sources was being used by the AMJRI participants, which was hard to do. Not everyone was going to trust even well-intentioned observers with that kind of information.

She had expected still to see incompatibilities arising between different technologies. The types of pattern analysis she used would take a mode-terran scientist’s best efforts to even half-understand, she benefitted from excellent resources and many millions of years of advancement that made her job much, much easier. Seeing the pattern was still a surprise even with all this though.

The Hypatians had made leaps-and-bounds advances, that didn’t really put them beyond the pack, but there was something that was sticking out to her more and more with every analysis she ran.

The Hypatians’ technology went together too smoothly.

She sat for some hours before considering again, running and re-checking the hypothetical she had fed into her models.

That the Hypatian technological advances all had a single common source. The ease with which they were integrating things looked more like intentional uplift than archeotech-salvage and retro-engineering.

Every model spoke back with the same voice, a congruence with that possibility explained every element of their advancement thus far.

That wasn’t the only possible truth though, tempting as it was. She considered it, leaning back and steepling two of her hands in front of her, the other two resting on the lower arm-rests of the chair, considering time zones and who she could reach before having her array cast send a hard-scry image of herself to a colleague far from the vessel.

Djeras’ office was a sharp contrast to hers, he was a human, though she approved that she kept it at thirty-five degrees, the haptic feedback of her scry-cast image giving her the feeling of being physically present alongside the comfort of her own office. The windows on this office showed the desert city of Menfe, high temples traditional mode buildings with flat rooves and thick walls, a beauty spot outside the local universariate.

He looked at her from a moment of surprise, “Kyari,” he said, “this is a pleasant surprise. How are you?”

“I’m well,” she said, the scry-cast pacing while she remained still, checking the privacy settings of the room before making sure that not only was the connection secure but the office screened, before helping herself to the sofa at the centre of the office, as he joined her.

“What brings you here?” he asked. “Everything good?”

“Oh, no need for concern,” she said, “I wanted some expert advice, you know the Ascendants’ Liason project I’m with?”

He gave her a nod, “The Anomalous, advanced?” he could not recall, as he spoke in the galstan dialect for a moment before returning to necrontyr, “research project, yes.”

“You’re the best political philosopher I know,” she said. “I have a suspicion, backed by some very good data, though,” she added, “that one of the participants is using a single source for their contributions, and I’m not sure where to go with it. They’ve not said anything about it, and they’ve kept it very secret that this is their way of doing things, but then I have to consider,” she said, “if I tell anyone outside our own project, this seems like it would be reputationally damaging.”

“Let me take a look,” Djeras said, taking an iron scroll from his desk for a moment and setting it down between them. With a thought, she waved the data onto it and it hummed into life.

“Hypatians. Ah yes, the Martain people,” he said. “I think it’s a good question to ask. As an observer, we have something of a moral duty to share this information, but with who and when I suppose is the question.”

Kyari gave him a look with her wide coal-dark eyes, he was thinking aloud, something she regarded as quintessentially human. “Yes,” she said.

“The way I see it, there’s a definite duty to notify our allies who are asking us to look at this, but also to speak to the Hypatians on the matter, after all, this is a data model, it’s not an empirical fact. And then there’s the other participants, the Eridani and the Arkasians may trust the Hypatians’ work so far, but this might undermine trust. Complex,” he said. He frowned, “I think this might be best referred, I wouldn’t want to put it out too widely, but you’re going to need some people within your observation mission to review it, make it a group observation, keep your name out of it for now, then refer it up to a Council of the Gate, I think with the political impact though, the project was asked for by a Triarch Director, wasn’t it?”

“It was.”

“Get the data checked, and speak to him, it could be quite sensitive. I suspect he will want to go to the Hypatians and the Established first, for all we know it’s the Nimatojin doing to the uplifting. But what order he does that in, well…” he shrugged, “if the news I’ve heard goes well the Hypatians haven’t been doing much for their relations with the Civ lately. Depends who they want to build up trust within the Mars Forum I think.”
"If any should be slaves, it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly those who desire it for others. When I hear anyone arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally." ~ Abraham Lincoln
"The Necrons were amongst the first beings to come into existance, and have sworn that they will rule over the living." - Still surprisingly accurate!
"Be you anywhere from Progress Level 5 or 6 and barely space-competent, all the way up to the current record of PL-20 for beings like the C’Tan..." Lord General Superior Rai’a Sirisi, Xenohumanity
"Many races and faiths have considered themselves to be a threat to the Necrons, but their worlds and their cultures are now little more than interesting archaeology."

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Postby Alexzonya » Fri Jan 28, 2022 11:25 am

“When I have finally decided that a result is worth getting, I go ahead on it and make trial after trial until it comes."
- Thomas Edison




“Standby for activation… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Mark!”

The displays of the test universe immediately flicker, and what was a moment ago a small frame structure, only a few meters in diameter, becomes a rapidly expanding cloud of particulate dust. Across the control board, status indicators flick straight to red.

“Damn…” Admiral Shaw shakes his head. “Doctor Beckett, any idea why our prototype just exploded?”

“... no, but we’ll find out. I’ll have the report on your desk in 24 hours.”

“Don’t rush it, Doctor.” Shaw fixes him with his gaze. “We need things done right, not quickly.” He glances around the room, full of dejected scientists and fleet officers (as well as the foreign observers from AMJRI, of course).

“Failed tests are just part of the process,” he states, clearly, making sure his voice carries. He hadn’t actually written a speech, but in positions of authority, one eventually learns to improvise. “In a program like this, things will go wrong as often as they’ll go right; usually more often. Whatever data our instruments just gathered on… that… will be immensely helpful in our research. And, now we know one configuration for a holographic boundary that doesn’t work. So, for tonight, have some drinks and toast the unexpected. Tomorrow, we’ll start working to figure out what went wrong.”

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Postby The Ctan » Sat Jan 29, 2022 6:22 pm

The Sol System

The Great Civilization Conflict Service usually kept a light hand in the Sol System, with the number of their disconcertingly named Harvest Ships deployed in the system numbering in the hundreds to thousands at any given time.

To the uninitiated, this seemed like a large number, but they had many commitments. There were countless assignments in the system that required either a deterrent presence or periodic ‘establishing the borders’ as the Necrontyr called it, an idiom similar to ‘showing the flag.’ Even though every asset in the system had its own attached components, Harvest Ships prowled the void to attend to all the outer assets.

From the centre of the system, where the Great Civilization’s assets lay within the chromosphere of Sol herself to protect the star from destabilizing weapons such as strangelet bombs and stranger things, along with several other interested parties’ equivalents, to the fleets at Venus’ anchorage and Earth, where four C’tani nations lay, along with numerous dependencies, protectorates, uplift-partners, and enclaves and then on to Mars.

The Great Civilization’s ships’ missions continued out to the asteroid belt’s principal webway gate, long-established by the nation of Tor Yvresse and now administered by the Great Civilization, used rarely except for domestic traffic.

In higher orbits again the ships visited Jupiter where unfathomable machines lay deep near the planetary core and habitats hung in orbit, soon to be joined by new Triumvirate structures and congregated in Saturnspace with other Triumvirate craft.

They were present or at Neptune, where other protectorates had built crystalline arcologies within the clouds of the planet. Further out, VERITAS administered Northwestern Liang enclaves were bored beneath the moon, Charon and even these and more remote Kuiper belt assets received regular visits.

Spread across so many interests those ships no longer seemed too numerous. They rotated their presence regularly, transiting to superluminal speed on an irregular schedule and with a confusing number of changes to those harboured at various points.

Even so, the ships remained at a predictable number and on broadly similar assignments.

The sudden spike of ships transiting into the system would be noted, then, tenfold more than had been present moments ago, folding themselves into the system from a number of axes, regional and clan-dynastic iconographies varying. Anyone who was watching, unless they were the lower-technology inhabitants of Earth who might be unable to penetrate the atropic-shielding that prevented the ships from visibly interfering with the starfield above, could hardly fail to notice it.

Hours ago, Kyari Thaltorum Prescet of the Great Civilization’s observer mission to the Advanced Materials Joint Research Initiative had become aware of a disturbing trend. This had been peer-reviewed, shared with the other observer mission, and immediately as it had come to the project director’s legal advisors, obligations had come into play.

The Menelmacari had a treaty with the Hypatian Commonwealth. This treaty obliged the Hypatians to share all xenoarcheology with the Menelmacari, in clear and uncertain terms. The Great Civilization did not care about this, but its own agreements with the Menelmacari, both in the VERITAS treaties, whose extant signatories consisted only of the Menelmacari, C’tani and Kajali, and the larger Second Triumvirate of Yut, required them to notify the Menelmacari of intelligence information of importance to their national security.

The Sub-Department of the State Legal Adviser had been consulted extensively in temporal frame acceleration to confirm the legal perspectives in play, the Menelmcari and UIK were certain to interpret the Queenstown Treaty as applying to any xenological technology source that had been in-play prior to signing, as Kyari’s findings suggested it had been. The Hypatians seemingly were operating on a different set of legal assumptions, but ultimately Altáma had decided any spite directed toward the Great Civilization by the Hypatians would be immediately eclipsed by opprobrium toward the Menelmacari, while the appearance of non-compliance with the Triumvirate and VERITAS treaties, on behalf of a polity that had no strong ties to the Great Civilization and had been only cordial was an untenable reputational risk even if it could be defended in the Great Civilization’s courts, about which the State Legal Adviser’s office had been pessimistic.

The ships did not head for the Hypatians’ assets, but at once tens of thousands of ships were deployed to protect C’tani assets throughout the system.

And not just those, either, more than a few Menelmacari civilian assets and ships in the system were greeted by friendly escorts, not because the Menelmacari could not provide such escorts themselves, but because that was what it was to be a good ally.

Per the same treaty, the Treaty of Queenstown, the Menelmacari and Hypatians had agreed a policy of neutrality through the system in the event of an armed conflict, but it never hurt to make sure that such a policy was clearly understood to be enforceable.
Last edited by The Ctan on Sat Jan 29, 2022 6:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"If any should be slaves, it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly those who desire it for others. When I hear anyone arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally." ~ Abraham Lincoln
"The Necrons were amongst the first beings to come into existance, and have sworn that they will rule over the living." - Still surprisingly accurate!
"Be you anywhere from Progress Level 5 or 6 and barely space-competent, all the way up to the current record of PL-20 for beings like the C’Tan..." Lord General Superior Rai’a Sirisi, Xenohumanity
"Many races and faiths have considered themselves to be a threat to the Necrons, but their worlds and their cultures are now little more than interesting archaeology."

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Postby Alexzonya » Sun Jan 30, 2022 5:09 pm

[REDACTED], Arkasian AMJRI Development Site - Alpha Quadrant

The Marines, with military police badges, moved through room by room with the scientists and intelligence officers, all in sealed armor. In each lab, specimens, prototypes, schematics… carefully checked, examined. Some disappeared in strong, solid metallic boxes, one item in each, padded in an isolating foam and a passive harmonic damper. For holding objects that could be dangerous. Others were categorized and placed in more conventional containers, judged to be parts or components unrelated to the search.

In each lab, the fruits of some research lines in particular are seized; holo-technology test devices and schematics, laconium clocks, telepresence rigs… anything that had been touched by what had been thought to be Hypatian technology. What they had trusted was Hypatian technology. What now, they knew, was truly of Revenant origin. The Hypatian liaison had insisted that, technically, they had done nothing wrong; the Revenants were Hypatian citizens, after all. The Arkasians were not impressed by this technicality, and continued their sweep.

Tags were placed on the sides of the boxes, with photographs, descriptions… the Arkasians were methodical. The boxes, carefully, were relocated to storage, where Marines were posted within and without, to guard them in their isolation. Mostly likely? There was no threat. But it was impossible to know yet, and if the Arkasians had learned anything probing the very fabrics and boundaries of reality, it was that you didn’t take that chance.

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Postby Alexzonya » Wed Feb 02, 2022 8:41 pm

Doctor Merchant and Doctor Herrbrecker sat at the table in their half-empty lab, still halfway in shock at the recent events that had totally upended their research programs.

“This sucks,” declares Merchant, simply. For the third time.

“Ja.” The Peninsularian takes a deep drink of something aromatic from his hip flask.

“We’re going to have to start from scratch.”

“Ja.” Another drink.

“... what’s in that anyway?” The Peninsularian offers it, and the Arkasian sniffs. “Jesus. Is that perfume?!”

“Ja.” Herrbrecher takes it back and swigs it again.

There was silence, until another man enters. Dr. Beckett, looking just as stunned.

“Brent,” says Merchant, with a small nod. “Sucks, doesn’t it?”

“... I figured out how to bypass the Laconium clock constraint.”

There’s a moment of silence.

“... you what?” Herrbrecher suddenly puts away his flask.

“Our problem isn’t the quantum entanglement, it’s the calibration. Every time we calibrate a link, we miss in a random direction. That randomness builds, and then everything blows up.”

“Ja, we know that,” replies Herrbrecher.

“Well, the UIK just unveiled a new timekeeping system, frame-perfect, with a public feed. We can use that to calibrate our own frame-sync, and then use the first frame-perfect sync as a new reference to set up the rest. We have the precision; it’s the accuracy that was missing! Once we get our own timekeeping set up so we can get everything in order!”

There’s a pause.

“Well, well, well,” says Herrbrecher, a smile slowly creeping onto his face. “Today seems to suck less than you thought, ja, Doctor Merchant?”

“I…” he starts, suddenly bereft of anything to complain about. He finds something new soon enough. “Just one problem. We don’t have an HBI prototype anymore. It's sitting in a box in the logistics bays, surrounded by trigger-happy Marines.”

There’s a pause. “We can fix that,” says Doctor Beckett, finally. “We can fix that by figuring it out ourselves. I’ll brief the Admiral.”
Last edited by Alexzonya on Thu Feb 03, 2022 5:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby Alexzonya » Fri Feb 11, 2022 10:39 pm

"The intel you’ve got is never the intel you want."
- Maxim 53, from The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries


//CLASS: TS-I//
Dated 05.28.125 ASY

To Our International Colleagues in the Advanced Material Joint Research Initiative:

In recent weeks, the Galactic Republic of Arkasia and United Species of the Eridani Imperium have engaged in a joint assessment to review the results of all Advanced Material Joint Research Initiative projects thus far commenced, as well as to collaborate in responding to numerous events involving other member nations’ technological research and development. Some of these events have been shown to be directly relevant to materials passed by those member nations to the AMJRI, particularly at its Arkasian-operated research site. After this review, both the GRA and USEI have been forced to conclude that further involvement in AMJRI is not in our national interests.

Both nations are therefore withdrawing from AMJRI, effective immediately.

Observers from the Hypatian Commonwealth and Phoenix Domain will have their program accesses terminated effective immediately, and will be escorted from the test site and returned to their respective nations’ Martian territories. Observers from the Constitutional Federation of the Peninsular and the Great Civilization are not affected by this decision, and are welcome to remain on-site at the Arkasian research site to provide continued oversight during this transitional period.

The USEI and GRA both would like to take this opportunity to thank the Great Civilization for their assistance during the AMJRI program, and express our hopes that such cooperation with the Great Civilization, as well as new projects including the CFP, will continue in the future.

Sincerely,

Adm. Henry Ricardo Shaw,
AMJRI Program Director, GRA

Lady Vigdis Banner-Torn
AMJRI Program Director, USEI

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Postby The Ctan » Sat Feb 12, 2022 6:46 pm

Sentinel Two, Mars

Samara Neja stepped from the teleport pillar with the expression of someone who had found a dead rat in their office drawers. Her penthouse in the old town district of Sentinel Two was on the outer side that looked out over the old port, the city had been a boom-town once, in the old days of Mars, built on the plains of fused basalt caused by the levelling of the Angoron mountains raised by Morgoth before the Great Civilization’s forebears had come here. Beyond a meter thick window of armourcrys the port’s automated machines moved in a usually calming dance. Further still, at the edge of vision, the nearest edge of the petroglyph like energy projectors that made wide lines like valleys across both of the Great Civilization’s Mars colonies, powered by vast subterranean machines.

She sent forth a data-djinn from her mind to screen all but the highest priority calls, and kicked her shoes from her feet, letting herself fall into the embrace of a deep corner sofa that sat before the great window, a Dominonese piece that had been there since the days when they had been present on Mars.

Leaning back and placing her feet on a futon she considered for a long moment the business of the past few weeks. She was old by human measure, more than six hundred standards, and she had seen nations rise and fall on this world, but she had rarely seen such one with a trend to step on rakes quite so much as the Hypatians. She willed her body to feel the unfiltered organic sensorium once more, and aches bloomed, reassuring signs of hard work, these were illusions, of course, her body was spun of living metal and stellar flux, she had been fully converted in an age when such things were unheard of, and she let the sensations roll over her, a sign of a well-done day.

A moment and she rose up to her now aching feet again and crossed from the office to the nearby kitchen, approaching the stasie and examining the items stored there, before picking out a set of hot kotlets, a small plate that was still as hot as when it had been put in there three days ago, the plate warm, and she closed the door, before walking back to the sofa and pushing a low table to it, setting the plate down, finding a coffee pot and putting it on to the boil she shook off the silvery state robes and replaced them with a braided shawl, wrapping her hair and clearing it out of the way.

A blanket to cover her legs followed, thrown over the sofa and she found the book she’d been reading, and an iron scroll, setting the latter on the coffee table before plating up some lokum, one of the advantages of augmentation was that one’s comfort food couldn’t touch one’s health, and she set herself down she smiled, at last having achieved the comfort that was a balm the self-inflicted physical weariness.

She felt it was always important to keep herself grounded, and she made time to reconnect at times.

Six hundred years ago she and her sister had been orphan girls in the Namarhay desert at the far east of the Seroi Republic, where old over-land trade had run into shortage and privation for generations. Mephet’ran had asked them to help him, promised them power and wealth for their talents, each of them had a gift, a way to achieve things. They had done the bloody work in the alleys and the corridors of power, she had broken the many eggs required to make the omelette of the state that surrounded her.

She had everything that had been offered to her, though. She would live without a limit to her years, and she certainly had power. Still, sometimes she liked to relax in the comforts that she had yearned for as a fourteen-year-old.

She was not an ambassador of the Great Civilization, she was one of its founders. The Coordinator of Mars did not govern, the Bajoni peoples did that themselves, and Sentinel Two’s municipal mayors and the rulers of the Angoron Plains’ peoples needed no guidance from her. Instead, she directed the policy of the Great Civilization toward the other Martians. Her sister enjoyed a similar posting, and though Mephet’ran’s recombined form of Ranisath was no longer the ruler of the Great Civilization, and her sister was no longer his deputy on the Triarch Council, experience spoke and both remained in positions of great influence.

Her posting as the administrator of Mars had been one that she had taken when the world was vivid with politics and hostile alliances, and recently it had felt like that again.

That was a challenge, but it could be taxing too, and at times like this, she took a moment to reconnect, to read and not inload, to surround herself in the cultural trappings of her home people and to reflect.

She poured the ibrik’s dark coffee into the cup, the copper shining in Sol’s wan light, and breathed deeply, bringing the cup to her lips, setting the book open on her folded legs and reading the poetry of Suman, letting the world slip by without her for a time, forgetting the world she was on and the troubles of the peoples who inhabited it. Suman had lived long before the rise of the Great Civilization, he spoke of kings who had ruled thousands of miles and whose armies had travelled the marginal lands on the edge of the desert. Suman was not her favourite, he was too keen to praise, he wrote of pillars of strength, she knew many more subversive voices from the past, but still, his verses touched on profundity in the places where they were not obsequious.

When her coffee was down to the thick grounds, she set it down and instead let the spiced meat, synthetic of course, tickle her palate, a contrast to the sharp sweetness of the snacks she had taken with the coffee as she had navigated the verses, and then she let her pose of rest slip away.

She had an afternoon of meetings, for powerful as she was, that power was wielded by influence, her office had allowed her to call ten thousand warships into the Sol System and to call upon her old ally Altáma, whose roots in the project that was the Great Civilization were almost as deep as hers, to assign observers to the Advanced Materials Joint Research Initiative, but it seemed that some of the nations she had been looking to with hope had worked hard to find new and interesting ways to disappoint her.

She reached for the iron scroll, still content to work without her neural links and hekatic halo, she touched it and commanded it to unfold into a fanblade, that shimmered with pale light as she set it on the arm of the sofa, and it projected data in Seroic for her. The language was unique to the Great Civilization, but it was not necrontyr, it was her own people’s flowing brush-pen script, conjoined glyphs forming beautiful and intricate patterns. Seroic calligraphy adorned her jacket, extolling the virtues of love and forgiveness, justice and penitence, and the screen was only a little less intricate.

Her sigh came from deep within her chest, the bad news was palpable, with the withdrawal of two nations from the AMJRI, it seemed that initiative was dead, she had such high hopes for that, but now the withdrawal was definitive and not rumoured. She could not deny the observers had been right to tell the Menelmacari, but she wished it had not arisen.

The AMJRI had been her hope for spreading civilization in the galactic north and making strong new allies, there were five nations involved, and all of them had troubles of some form or another, though she had to admit she knew little of the Peninsular she had been looking forward to learning more. The Constitutional Federation had been a surprise and a pleasant one.

She had hoped to see it grow from a research alliance into something more significant, and to allow a cultural flourishing and an end to the festering wounds that kept the galactic East from replicating the strong institutions of the West.

Her mood had been sour when the Hypatians had tried to negotiate a new treaty with the Eridani at Mars, while still under ultimatum from the Menelmacari in the same venue. Her words had been a provocation of course: "We at least would recommend all parties refrain from new agreements with Hypatia until their outstanding business with the Menelmacari is concluded. It might be awkward to have to renegotiate with a successor government if the Menelmacari depose the current rulers." Samara's comment was tart and clearly irritated.

It was she felt, not too unkind, given the venue contained more than one society whose current government arrangements were the product of Menelmacari intervention, and it had certainly worked.

She wondered if the Hypatians would have withdrawn from the Initiative without her remarks, she had felt so, but their inability to make peace with the Eridani was something that rested in her mind chiefly upon the Hypatians; their approach was an incredulous level of naivety, they had recently had an altercation involving FTL weapons, and then they felt they should simply ask for a renewed treaty without making right the reputational damage. The Eridani were hardly faultless either, their blood feuding and raiding was something that belonged in the poems of Suman, not a society that hoped to be taken seriously in a local order that prized cordial and amicable relations; the Eridani were divided from the Sekhedau only by their focus on personal honour rather than brutish nationalism that drove so many inexplicably spacefaring nations into downward spirals of self-destruction. Perhaps even that was too generous, and they were only restrained by not being so ignorant as to think they would get anywhere by thuggery alone. But the Eridani were faultless where it counted; they had not escalated the situation as it fell, and they had shown the faculty of reason often enough that she could see why many found them charmingly idiosyncratic rather than vexing.

She read reports from the Observer Mission, and reluctantly set her assent to the decision to alter the observer mission, releasing the Wigner’s Friend to other missions. The Great Civilization Advanced Materials Joint Research Initiative Observer Mission was not going to be wound up, it was still hypothetically possible that it would be useful, but it was clear with the nations even notionally participating reduced by half, a commensurate downscaling was appropriate.

Then she leaned back to consider her next steps. The Phoenixi had chosen to divest themselves from Mars, that was a blow, and she felt their motivation had to be at least in part disappointment at the way things had gone.

She was content to leave the Hypatians to the Menelmacari for now, their credibility was deeply wounded in her eyes and the eyes of many diplomats in the system as she understood it.

The Arkasians, the Eridani and the Peninsular, though, she wished to have more contact with. That, it seemed, would mean skipping a few steps…
Last edited by The Ctan on Sat Feb 12, 2022 6:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"If any should be slaves, it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly those who desire it for others. When I hear anyone arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally." ~ Abraham Lincoln
"The Necrons were amongst the first beings to come into existance, and have sworn that they will rule over the living." - Still surprisingly accurate!
"Be you anywhere from Progress Level 5 or 6 and barely space-competent, all the way up to the current record of PL-20 for beings like the C’Tan..." Lord General Superior Rai’a Sirisi, Xenohumanity
"Many races and faiths have considered themselves to be a threat to the Necrons, but their worlds and their cultures are now little more than interesting archaeology."

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The Eridani Imperium
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Posts: 288
Founded: Jun 15, 2017
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby The Eridani Imperium » Thu Mar 03, 2022 10:13 pm

The Bane of Aldmeris was many things - pride, blindness, and a hunger for more. But above all, it is nonexistence - the antithesis to NIR itself.
- Solvar Iceborn, Pocket Guide to the Empire: Kadria, Seat of Sundered Kings


Alpha Quadrant, Somewhere in Deepspace...
Site Alpha
Arkasian Date: 08.02.124 ASY


Alexzonya wrote:These pocket universes are designed to fail safely… what the hell happened?

As the lockdown goes into effect, the doors of the command center open to reveal a seven-foot-tall power-armored behemoth wielding a staff - Magister Ranek Stormcrow of the Varden. As the alarms blared, the Varden peered down at one of the screens before hissing at what he found. "What did you damn Arkasians do now?" The geneforged Battlemage's voice boomed out as his eyes focused on the back of the Admiral's head.

"I'm trying to figure that out," growls Shaw, in return. "Catastrophic failure of the stasis field test ripped up the test universe, but it's failing... wrong." He rubs the bridge of his nose. "They're supposed to fail by folding into a neat little nothing, and this one is going out like a maelstrom."

"Sir! There's something else in there," repeats one of the watchstanders, her face scowling as the black-bereted intelligence officer tapped with inhuman swiftness at her control panels, both hands fully in motion. "I don't know what the hell it is or where it came from, but it's warping the local space inside, and not in a harmless way."

"...Sometimes I forget that your people are not naturally tuned to the Arena." Ranek moved over to one of the control panels linked to the sensors and working it, bringing into focus an entirely different set of frequencies - the ones Kadrian Battlemages used as the basis of their magic. And at this moment, it was showing a very distinct signature. "It is not an it you are attempting to fend off. It is him. The Bane of Aldmeris, and self-proclaimed Prince of the Void."

The watchstander looked perplexed, though she didn't stop tuning the view. "Who?"

"Fuck," replies Shaw, succinctly. "How the hell'd we get his attention?!" He glances to another watchstander. "Status on the emergency breakaway? Why the hell is it still connected?"

"No idea, sir. We fired the disconnector, but it's like the site is glomped onto us. I've got another shot or two in the capacitors, but we're not recharging; all available power is going to the reality anchors on our side."

Shaw nods tersely. "Very well. Alert me if the situation changes, and we have a chance to take another shot."

"There." The first watchstander, a Commander by her insignia, smiles triumphantly as she isolates a pattern. "Right there." The resulting ripples in space-time appear on the view, highlighted. "That's your outsider." The ripples whipped and swirled, flinging the collapsing universe about in a fit of rage and terror, battering it pointedly against the walls of NS-01.

Ranek’s eyes focused on the ripples as plans ran through his mind. “It is not your fault, strictly speaking. Both of our peoples escaped from dying universes - I suspect that is what he sensed after the death of the pocket universe drew his attention here.” He then looked at the second watchstander. “How many anchors do we have operational?”

"There are about 2,000 emergency probes operating on their local plants, and then the 12 primary projectors connected to our primary reactor systems," he replies. "The primaries are built to safeguard against a catastrophic failure of a test site, but..."

"But they didn't account for an infovore turning a site failure into a bludgeon," finishes Admiral Shaw curtly. "We're well outside of the design parameters here. Those probes can stop a starship, but they aren't going to do much against a threat of this scale."

"We have 18,000 more of them," notes the watchstander. "Launching as fast as we can, but the storage racks can only fire so quickly. We're looking at about 10 minutes to get the full constellation out." If the sensors are anything to go by, they didn't have 10 minutes before the event was resolved, one way or another.

"Magister, any ideas?" Shaw furrows his brow.

A few seconds later, Levana Ferri, the station's Domain liaison, jogs through the doors, concern visible on her face, "What the hells is going on? Is this related to the stasis test today?" Her eyes quickly swept the command center, taking in all the data she could see from her position. There were several screens she couldn't see, but what she could see was enough to confirm her fears, "Feth! You have a plan, right?" she asked of Admiral Shaw.

"Please be aware the removal of your assets is intended to be helpful," a slightly apologetic woman's voice said, with the diction of the C'tani's unambiguous language and eastern accent, a necrontyr woman with dark hair pulled high behind her head and grey-blue skin appearing in holographic form. "Apparently, our shipmind is not in the business of asking for things." Shaw turns his head in her direction and nods.

“Well, he’s trying to get a snack, right?” The corner of Ranek’s mouth lifted in an example of the Varden’s penchant for dry humor. “We take one of the anchors and destabilize it before throwing it through. I doubt our friend here expects a firecracker as part of his next meal.” He then looked up at the C’Tani’s voice. “I get it, don’t worry. Not all of our raiding was out of greed.

After thinking for a second, the Varden looked back at Shaw. “If we do throw an anchor through, I will note that there is a chance Shor could get some of his Taken back through the boundary, even if we time it perfectly. But dealing with Taken is a much easier prospect than the alternative.”

"We're working on it," Shaw tells the Domain's representative, in exactly so many words. The station's alarms sound again, briefly, and damage reports spring up; specifically, the C'tan had eaten Logistics and Fabrication Bay 2 for reaction mass. Under the circumstances, he didn't have an objection; they could replace it later.

“Probes are… fully deployed?” notes a watchstander, blinking as her display suddenly refreshes immediately after the damage reports. “Oh! The C’tan ship. Yes, I understand. The boundary is holding… for now. Anchor constellation is at full power. Thank the Stars.”

“That buys us time. Thank you.” He inclines his head toward the C’tan representative and then uses a bit of that time, taking a second to think. "Reality bomb. That could work." He nods. "Taken we can handle, in reasonable quantities. QRF from Zephyr should be en-route already..."

"The 228th Patrol is 6 minutes out," clarifies a watch-stander. "And elements of the 56th General will be 5 minutes behind them."

"... and they should be able to clean out any lingering infestation," Shaw finishes. "Prepping a bomb is easy enough. Injecting it into the target is harder, on short notice..." He thinks. "We can probably jerry-rig the disconnector to do it, but the resulting boundary isn't going to be pretty... or particularly small. If anyone has a more elegant solution to delivering the firecracker onsite, I'm all ears."

“It doesn’t need to be too elegant - we can clean up afterwards,” Ranek added. “We just need to make sure there is an afterwards.”

The Hypatian representative quietly and calmly sat down at the table and sipped from a mug of what could only be assumed was coffee. He said nothing as he looked at the others.

"Inelegant it is," agrees Shaw, after a moment of silence. He turns back to the watchstander who had previously discussed the disconnector system. "Recalibrate it to punch a hole through to the target. Minimize the diameter, and standby to fire." He taps another panel. "Control to Lab 3, status?"

"We're fine, thanks for asking. What the hell happened?"

"Unexpected destabilization. We're working on it, but we need you yesterday. Prep an anti-reality warhead, maximum yield, and report back as soon as it's ready." He pauses and turns to the Domain representative. "Levana, could I trouble you to make use of your displacers to actually deliver this thing? We do have an experimental carrier chassis for the warhead, but I don't know if now is the right time for a field trial."

Levana nodded and moved over to stand behind one of the crew, "I need real-time feeds of the warhead and wherever the aperture will be outside." While the tech pulled that up, she contacted the Domain cruiser on standby near the facility, briefing the commander of what she needed, then patching her eyes through to the ship's tactical software. "We're ready. Tell us when."

Ranek was speaking into his communicator as this was happening. After a bit, he nodded and gripped his staff. “My men and I are ready to reinforce the boundary when you are.”

Shaw nods to both, and a moment passed. Then a full minute. Reality began to ripple on the monitor as the Void battered at the walls. "Control to Lab 3, what's the holdup?"

"We're working on it, Admiral. The arming circuitry isn't installed, so we're getting it connected now."

"What's the ETA? And the answer better be less than two minutes."

"... less than two minutes. Sir."

It's an agonizing 106 seconds before the communicator comes to life again. Shaw forces himself to avoid pacing. "Anti-reality munition armed and marked." It lights up on the display.

"There," he says to Levana. He nods to Ranek and then the watchstanders. "Alright, here we go. Engage the target on my mark. 5... 4... 3... 2... 1... MARK!"

There's a flash in the middle of the ripples, and a tiny hole, only a few meters in width, is punched from NS-01 to the maelstrom of the collapsing universe.

It only takes half a second after the word Mark. On the monitor showing the lab, the warhead seems to collapse in on itself, the space it occupied being pulled to another place. Hopefully, the scientists and technicians were holding onto something as the sudden vacuum caused by the displacement was filled in by the surrounding air.

On the other monitor showing the newly formed aperture, there is a momentary flash of light as the warhead appears and is propelled into the hole in space by the cruiser's gravitics. Levana sighs, then catches herself before she gets her hopes too high, "Warhead deployed."

And the Prince of the Void rushed the opening, tearing at the worldwalls. The Battlemages at Site Alpha held the boundary together against the onslaught as an ear-splitting howling sounded from all around them. The ripples reached their greatest intensity as black misty figures began to coalesce around balls of sterile white light on a few of the cameras.

“Taken!” Ranek tensed, “Here they come!”

The warhead passes through the aperture and long 3 seconds later, detonates. A visible bulge appears in the adjacent reality of NS-01, distorting light along it. At the same time, the shockwave is visible as it carries outward, blowing the fragments of the failed universe and all it contains away from NS-01.

"Direct hit! Test site is disconnected and moved away from us. Aperture is closing..."

Before they got a chance to be relieved, though, a soft whine and a series of cracks erupts outside the doors. Then more, staccato five-round sets of cracks. And then a loud gurgle and a thump. The Taken were here.

Levana watches the monitors intently, not well enough versed in the mathematics to fully understand the various other displays and readouts, instead focusing on the camera monitoring the aperture itself. Her head jerks around at Ranek, then at the doors, "I'm glad we insisted on posting a security detail here." She reaches across the networks and takes direct command of the local combat servitors, directing them to the nearest enemies.

Ranek drew a pistol and strode to the doors as more banging came from the other side. The second misty claws tried to pry the door open, the Varden slammed his staff on the ground, blowing the Taken on the other side away… along with the doors.

Levana's focus is momentarily broken as she watches the Kadrian Battlemage, "Can you hold them?"

Ranek looked back and nodded. “I am one of the Varden. I can do this.”

The 228th Exploration and Patrol Group flashes into view on the sensor displays. Shaw puts through a communication immediately. "Captain Bohuslava, welcome back to Site Alpha. I need your expeditionary forces to sweep the station ASAP. Set up a perimeter around the primary control station and blast any of these bastards..." There's a boom in the background as the Varden does his thing. "... bastards that are dumb enough to sit around in open space." It didn't need clarifying, from the sensor readings, who the bastards were.

He punctuated his statement with a couple rounds from his pistol, banishing Taken with each shot.

"Got it. I'll have the servitors round up station crew and get em somewhere secure." Her eyes unfocus to do just that. Elsewhere on the station, the mechanical soldiers joined forces with Arkasian security, directing defenseless personnel to labs or bays which could be more easily defended.

There was more unearthly screeching from the hallway as Ranek blew away another wave of Taken before firing off a few shots. “Be advised - there’s a Taken Acolyte with a shield and pistol. I saw him pass by down the hallway - I think he’s leading the pack.”

"Do you require any assistance?” inquires Riantha. “And should you be considering the long-term tenability of the station and operation here?"

Shaw nods to the hologram. "If you have expeditionary capabilities aboard, we'd appreciate assistance in clearing the station and corralling these... Taken." The sensors now indicated nearly 30,000 probes in the local volume. "And yes, if you need to eat any more of our infrastructure to make it so, please feel free. I suspect it will just mean less for the Engineers to dismantle after this... resolves. One way or another."

There was a sudden screech as one of the Taken leapt past Ranek and into the control center. The orb of sterile white light that served as its eye twitched a little as it looked around for a second, gathering its bearings. The Taken had just bared its black mist-framed claws and was preparing to attack when Ranek seized it and pulled the orb of light out of its body, crushing it in his hand, leaving it to die with a screech. "My apologies for letting that one get past - I didn't expect him to jump."

As the Taken leaps into the room, Shaw surges forward and grabs Levana, pulling her behind him. He growls... and then Ranek dispatches the thing just before it pounces. "If it had killed me, I'd be more upset," he retorts, only a bit shakily.

He moves up to where the doors had been. Two Arkasian Marines (or, more precisely, whatever was left of them) laid outside. Shaw bites his lip and tries not to look too closely at the remains as he collects their carbines. He tosses one back onto the floor and awkwardly checks the status of the one he keeps in his hands. One of the watchstanders moves as well, picking up the spare and pointing it more adeptly down the corridor. Shaw eyes her and nods to himself, and then returns to the command panels with a note to mention that in his after-action report.

"While I appreciate the gesture, Admiral, it was unnecessary," Levana smirks at the Arkasian as she draws her sidearm and checks the loaded anti-personnel magazine. "I might not be a soldier, but I'm hardly defenseless. I have control of twenty-five combat servitors. Fifteen are currently holding secure areas where they're guarding station crew; the other ten are hunting. Should I peel a few for reinforcements here?"

At that moment, Ranek (who had returned to the doorway) ducked as a ball of voidlight flew through the doorway and slammed into the ceiling behind him before returning fire as he got up. "Wouldn't hurt - they aren't sending their cannon fodder anymore. I suspect we'll see the Taken with the shield soon."

Admiral Shaw smiles and shakes his head at himself. "My apologies, Levana. Instinct. I'll leave you all to it." He turns his attention back to coordinating those who were actually useful in a firefight, elsewhere on the station, and vectoring in the expeditionary shuttles and gunships that had just been launched from their Starfleet reinforcements. The convenient new C'tan-provided hole in their station would, at least, make a massed landing somewhat easier.

There's a burst of cracks, and the offending Taken goes down; the Arkasian Lieutenant had actually learned to shoot at some point in her career, better than most Arkasian fleet personnel anyway. For her part, she kneels down dispassionately near the dead Marines and retrieves two more carbine magazines, a pair of 40mm shells, and a huge pistol with a suspiciously large bore. She breaks it open and loads the first. "Flechette shells," she reports before snapping it closed with a familiar motion. "I was hoping for frags, but close enough."

Levana nods to the Kadrian, "Got it. I can have two of 'em here in a minute." She let the Arkasian lieutenant cover the door for the time being while she pulled up the link to the two servitors. Roughly humanoid, the machines were capable of moving upright or on all fours, even capable of clinging to walls and ceilings, which they did as they both shot forward through the corridors.

"Friendlies incoming… Now!" Levana called to the Arkasian woman just as the servitors rounded a corner out in the corridor like a pair of some kind of sprinting predator. The pair smoothly rose to two legs and readied the pair of anti-personnel guns on their forearms before taking up position just outside the empty doorway, each covering the opposing ends of the corridor.

Riantha's hologram seemed to be a little disconnected from reality; perhaps she had done something to herself to increase her response times. The capture field didn't show a weapon, but she had moved from where she had been and was now walking. "We can spare a few thousand of our own security units if you wish; I hope no one's arachnophobic. I hear foreigners have that."

"... I've got to get some of those," notes the Lieutenant, relaxing a bit now that there were a pair of hulking battlebots between her and the Taken horde.

"That would be much appreciated," says Admiral Shaw, with a nod. "There's a convenient hole in the station if you want to ingress there... or else the other docking areas should still be functional. I'm sure someone will end up needing therapy from the mecha-spider invasion, but it's still better than being eaten by a Taken."

"On the way," she said; the hole wasn't really used, though, as transmat worked perfectly well - Well enough that it seemed that the very-old shipmind of the Single-Event Upset might have been planning how to board the station for fun at some point.

Lowering his weapon for the moment, Ranek took the chance to look at both Admiral Shaw and Levana. "Any word on the other parts of the station?"

"Suddenly full of spiders," reports Shaw, with an appreciative nod to Riantha. "But otherwise... it's a mess. It doesn't look like any secure or mission-critical areas have been overrun, and the spiders have eliminated the possibility, but there are a few sections in logistics and storage that we'll have to retake. As much as I'd rather just vent them, it's possible there are survivors in those sections."

"Any sign of the shield?"

The Hypatian pulled out a newspaper, seemingly from nowhere, and leaned back while sipping coffee. He was the only liaison from the Commonwealth on this entire station, and his existence had largely been a forgettable one. A small alarm on a wristband he wore sounded, and it was the first time he'd taken his eyes off anything other than his paper or the others. He rolled up his paper and tucked it under his arm. Stepping over bodies and spent casings, the man stopped short of a console and tapped out a few things. A hologram appeared -- "Admiral Lucca, pleasure seeing you," the man greeted. The hologram admiral looked down at the liaison, "The First Fleet is already on its way. Amsterdam has engaged the Apophis Protocol; there should be a guardian en route as well." -- "Understood." And with that, the man walked back over to his table, sat down, and began to sip more coffee.

"Yeah, I just saw him on a monitor. Let me figure out..." The rest of the liaisons and staff weren’t paying particular attention to the Hypatian, who for all intents and purposes had done nothing whatsoever as the crisis played out, a humanoid silhouette in the background and nothing more.

There's a flash of light, and one of the servitors collapses. The second pivots and opens fire... the barrage flashing off of a shield. A pistol shot snakes around the corner, flying over the groups' heads and into the control room before fizzling into the ceiling.

"... found him."

Then the screeching started up again, along with something else.

“Y̢̧͝o̶͡u͏ ͘͞f̶à̢c̶҉e͡ ̨È͏͟r͟r͡҉ų͡k͠ ͞҉̧t͝h̴e ͘B̀͢et͡r̶̀a̴̧y͝͝e̛͞r̵,͡ ͘͡H̕er̸a̴͏l̵̕d̶́͘ ͢o̧͡f̸̡͡ ̕͡Ş͞h̕ơr͞!̧ ̧̀͟NÒW͟ ͜B̀͏E̵ Ć̵͜Ǫ̨Ǹ̶͘S͘͞UM̶E͠D҉!̢̧͡” With that, the so-called Herald turned the corner, flanked by more of the rifle-wielding Taken the Lieutenant had taken out earlier, and followed by a horde of the clawed Taken they've been fighting off the whole time.

Ranek cast a shield in the doorway, just in time to stop the incoming volley of Voidlight projectiles from entering the control room.

Levana was watching through the senses of the two servitors and caught sight of the Herald just before the initial attack vaporized a chunk of the torso of one of the Domain machines. The second was already initiating a counterattack while Levana recoiled from the sensory shock of the first servitor's demise. During the several real-time seconds it took for her to recover, the remaining machine used its guns to try and keep the Herald behind his shield.

There was a better than even probability that her last servitor on-site would be taken out before she could take the Herald out, and that would leave everyone in the control center to deal with all the remaining Taken. She needed to thin the herd and buy time for reinforcements to arrive from elsewhere on the station. Her servitor suddenly dropped to all fours, moving faster than any organic could hope, and sprinted at the wall next to the Herald. The momentum carried the machine up along the wall, across the ceiling, and down into the horde of less formidable Taken beyond. Mechanical limbs lashed out in a blur, armored claws extended as the servitor crashed into the mob, severing limbs and crushing light orbs.

Satisfied that the servitor could handle itself without direct control, Levana disconnected and readied her sidearm while taking cover behind a nearby console. It would only be a matter of time before the Taken caused enough damage to render the servitor inoperable, but in that time, it would have eliminated many more of the enemy.

Levana’s move was wise because after blocking another round of fire from the Taken, Ranek’s shield flickered. “I’m going to drop it in a few seconds! Prepare to take cover!” The Varden shouted back. The Lieutenant ducks behind the doorframe. She changes the magazine on her carbine and then pulls the grenade launcher and waits for the shield to come down.

For his part, Shaw scrambles, moving personnel down into cover. He turns and barks an order into the command console, though it can't be heard by the others over the weapon fire before he turns towards cover... just as the shield falls. He doesn't have a chance to fire or duck before the Herald sights in on him and fires... fortunately for him, someone else came better prepared. Rather than taking the shot in his chest, he finds himself suddenly yanked down to the floor. The homing bolt follows and explodes with a flash on his upper right arm and a spray of blood and flesh.

He avoids screaming, mostly due to the shock of the impact and the pain. He stares at the ceiling as Levana curses and scrambles; she had been just fast enough to keep him alive, but not quite fast enough to keep him in one piece. She tears a strip of cloth from her clothing and wraps it around whatever remains of his arm; it tightens on command into a makeshift tourniquet. That would be enough to keep him from bleeding out in the interim, anyway.

At the same time, the Lieutenant pulls the trigger: the recoil of the pistol elevates her arms to nearly a right angle towards the ceiling after firing, but the flechettes strike home, spraying down the corridor and striking numerous grunt and rifle Taken. A few collapse; others are merely wounded. She ducks back behind cover to load the second shell.

As the shield dropped, Ranek had leapt for cover to the other side of the door frame and followed up the Lieutenant’s shots with his own, bolter rounds slamming into more Taken and the Herald’s shield. As the battle lulled for a few moments, the Varden took his medical kit off his utility belt and slid it over to Levana. “Take whatever you need.”

Shaw does his best to avoid moaning or anything else undignified as Levana applies the tourniquet. "Thanks," he growls, gritting his teeth and breathing heavily. "I wasn't quite ready to give up on this body," he quips. The other Arkasian winces back as darts flit past her position, the Taken leader still advancing and almost to the doorframe (and her position). She ducks out briefly and fires the grenade launcher; most of the flechettes strike the shield, but a few outliers from the spread hit the Shieldbearer, who roars his displeasure and then shoots her center-mass with a homing dart. She drops, minus most of her upper torso: the Taken keeps coming.

At that moment, Ranek puts away his rifle and draws a pistol, his free hand moving to draw his force-axe. As the Herald crossed the threshold, it found itself the target of several hundred pounds of angry Varden as Ranek crashed into it, firing his pistol as he used his axe to wrench away its shield.

Levana treats Shaw's wounds quickly and efficiently, sealing the stump with synth-skin spray and giving the officer a dose of painkillers. "Lot of folks get attached to their natural body, even among Phoenixi." She curses under her breath as the other Arkasian officer gets taken out and pushes Shaw further behind cover, "Chit-chat will have to wait."

She manages to snag the Arkasian weapon and drag it to her, quickly checking the magazine and clearing the chamber before rising to get the barrel over her cover and sight in on the shieldbearer as Ranek clashes with it. For Levana, time seems to slow down as she overclocks her reaction speed, information flashing across her vision and vanishing just as quickly. She was no soldier, but in this state, she may as well be a veteran sniper, popping shots off at the Taken in the doorway and any chance she can send a round into the Herald, missing Ranek's own body and limbs by millimeters half the time.

An alarm sounds and noises of metal twisting and wrenching filled the corridor. The Hypatian liaison jumps up from the table, spilling whatever remained of his drink and a single Taken eyeball that had fallen into his cup earlier out onto the floor, twitching. "The Guardian has arrived," the man noted, as he pulled up his pants leg. A compartment snapped open, revealing a sidearm, an MX-45. He drew the gun and joined the others, preparing to take shots at the approaching Taken. "Now, all we need to do is buy ourselves some time," the man said.

They wouldn't have to hold long. Already, the cracks of kinetic rifle fire can be heard echoing through the station; Arkasian Marines were on the same deck, and even if they were delayed, reinforcements from the other parties were converging on the station. It wasn't a question of if they would be saved, but by whom: Arkasian Marines, C'tan mecha-spiders, or whatever the Hypatians had just dumped into the local space.

Several corridors away, the Arkasian charge is led by a tall woman, blonde-haired and pale-skinned. Her eyes are a piercing blue, the marked opposite of her flickering red lightsaber. She spots two Taken and grasps them, pulling them violently into the air with just a flick of her hand, several feet away. She splatters them on the walls before frying a third with a vicious bolt of lightning. Guardian-Commander Vaughn, the Arkasian military liaison to the Martian Forum mission, had done an excellent job giving the international community a picture of the guardians. Guardian-Commander Xena Lipovsky.... did not, exactly, paint the same pleasant picture. She advances, leaping forward and flattening herself out as two bursts of Taken rifle fire pass over her before lashing out with her crimson blade and cleanly killing the remaining two in the corridor with one swift stroke. She rushes forward, leading a mixed group of Arkasian Marines and finally arriving to lift the siege of the command deck.

At that exact moment, Ranek's axe sank into the Herald's neck as the Varden pulled it forward. The Magister's hand darted out, closing around the light that served as its eye and crushing the sterile-white orb in his fist. The herald's body drops to the floor, melting into a puddle of shadowy ethereal liquid that seemed to fade from this reality. "Big guy's down!"

With that, Ranek lifted his pistol, shooting several Taken in the orbs; that was the last of them in the vicinity of the command center. The assault was thinning out now - most of Shor's servants and his Herald had been banished. All that was needed was a bit of clean-up.

Finally entering the room, Xena slashes two twitching corpses with her lightsaber, for completeness, before deactivating it. She passes by Levana and Ranek, with only a brief, curious glance at the Varden, as well as Riantha’s hologram, before she kneels beside Admiral Shaw.

“Sir. This level is secure.” The side of her mouth quirks just a little.

Shaw glances over at her, visibly gritting his teeth. “Thank you, Guardian-Commander. Please coordinate with Magister Stormcrow and the C’tan to ensure that the rest of the facility is secure.”

She nods and stands. “Of course, sir. Consider it done.” Identifying the Magister is not hard, and she approaches him.

The seven-foot-tall Varden in question inclined his head with a slight smile. “Guardian-Commander - a pleasure to meet you, even in these circumstances. I must say, you turn fighting into an artform. Also, call me Ranek if you prefer.”

The much-shorter Guardian bows slightly. “Thank you… Ranek. Please, call me Xena.” The side of her mouth quirks again. “That is high praise, coming from one such as you.” She fixes her gaze on his. “Perhaps, after circumstances have… calmed… we will be able to compare our respective artforms more thoroughly.”

Ranek grinned. “If there are any foes left in this facility, then I would be glad to give you a taste. Shall we?”

She smiles. “My pleasure.”



The aftermath wasn’t pretty. Most of the civilians were alright… most of them. There had still been casualties. The Arkasian Marines on Site Alpha had been at Action Stations when the Taken arrived… but many had been overwhelmed in the first moments, before the 228th EPG’s expeditionary forces or the C’tani spiders could arrive, or had died in desperate defenses of civilian shelter areas. It was only because of their sacrifices that the death toll among the non-combatants was as modest as it was.

The opening of the aperture into a collapsing universe had other consequences beyond the angry questions from members of the Martian Forum. The thrashing of the worldwalls had generated tremendous amounts of radiation and high-energy particles, which had come pouring out in the short time the aperture was open. Those on the station were (mostly) protected by its shielding… but only mostly. Those outside it, or those near the damaged sections that had been used for reaction mass, fared far worse, with the GRA resorting to rapid-exocortex procedures to save a number of individuals whose exposures were otherwise lethal beyond the ability of even Arkasian and Phoenixi medical technology to repair.

The Alpha Site’s location had never been a true secret, not the kind one could keep from nations such as Menelmacar, Macisikan, or Sunset. However, it was still… inconvenient… for operational security that the Site now swarmed with warships foreign and domestic: C’tan harvest ships, Benignity cubes, Noldori battleplates, Nimatojin frigates, a Hypatian Guardian surrounded by Eridani longships in a gritted-teeth show of cooperation (or perhaps intelligence gathering), and several Groups of Arkasian Starfleet cruisers that lingered awkwardly within the inner perimeter and hoped that the others didn’t change their minds and decide to blast the facility into rubble.

And the political fallout. The Arkasians could feel the glares of the Phoenixi attempting to disintegrate them with every new report and development as news of the incident made its way through the national governments. Indeed, once the Site returned to operation, there would never again be an experiment conducted without a Phoenixi observer’s eyes trained on the Arkasians’ work critically. The project had been AMJRI, of course, but Alpha Site, the only active test site among the AMJRI nations, was an Arkasian facility, and it had been an Arkasian team’s test that had precipitated the near-disaster.

Not that the Arkasians were inclined towards laxity in any case. They had thought their protections on the Alpha Site were best-in-class; irritated Phoenixi, perhaps channeling the Macisikani or others, quickly explained otherwise and handed the Arkasians a laundry list of necessary safety improvements on the extraversal test sites. Implementing those would be the highest priority once the Site returned to operation.

Despite it all, the nations of the Advanced Material Joint Research Initiative had survived. The galaxy would continue to spin. The dawn and dusk would continue to chase each other across Zephyr and Mars and Kadria and Meridian and the other worlds of the Milky Way and this universe.



I̴n̢̛ ̶̕f̀i̡̨r̨̕st͜͜͏ ͝ļ̛į́̕g͘h͞t͞͝, ̸́n҉a̶u͏g̡̀ḩ́t͠͠ bu̢͝t ̕͟n̵̢i̛͞g͏̶̕ḩ̸t͜ ́a҉n̕d ͢à͢b̶̕͜yş͟s̷̕͞a̕l̕҉ ̵̧͡l̛u̸͢͟ll̸
̡͘͝À̧͞ ͏w̷͡o̴͟rl͜͞d͏̶ leá͡d̶ ̸́͡t͘͜ó̸ ̕͏r̶e̶͞d̨̢ ̀d̡ŕe҉̶͜a͏m̸t̷ ͘͟t̛h͢͞͝e̴ ̷c͘a̡ư̶͘s̴̨à̡ĺ͢ ̀͏n̴u̸̧͝l̴̷͟l̵͢
͘S̢̕w͘҉į͡͡f̴̶̢t̡l͞y̵ ̛m̛y̨͝͝ ͘͟s͜͠wa̧͜ý s̕p͜͝r̀̕͜e͢͠ad̸͢,̷̨͞ ̢̨c̢͞u̵ll̷͜i͞ǹ̸̶g̵͟ ̷a҉͘l̡͞l̡͘ q͡u͡ą͏l͠m̛s̷̕,̶
̶a͞n̸̛d ͜͟s͠͞ơ̧oǹ ̶͏t̛h̷͜ę̶̛ ̸͏̀ḑ̴͟i͏s̶s̛͟o̴ń̡à̸̴n͡t ̧҉a̵er̷̨i̸̢͜é̴s҉ ͘b̀͝l̴͞é͝d̵͘
̸̧͞
̵̀O̷͏n͏e ́b҉͠y̛ ̧on͏͞e͞ ͘͜I̛͜͡ ͘á́͝ṕ͏p̴r̛o̕ac̛hed̶̛ t̀͝͏h̨͢͏en͝ ̷҉r̨͘͜e͘͞p̢̨͠ro̶̢͘à͟c͏̸h̨e̸̡d̡,
͞w̧i͜͢͠t͏̕h ̀͡f̛̀o͏̴̀rke͘͟d҉ ̨s͠p̸͢͞ȩ̷̶e͏̕c̨҉h̶ ̷͝a͠n͏d ͜s҉̨h̵̀͜a̢҉́l̡̀l̷̨ow͝ ̷͜͝p͞͝r̨é̴a̵c̴̨͞h̛͘
̨S͘͡pi̵̷̕ņ͠nin͟g̢̢ ͠s͝l̢̨̕iģ̴h̢t̀s͢͢ ̛o͘f ͡ḿ͢͡o̡̧s͜͏t̶͘ ̵̀i̵n̨ţ͡͡į̕ma̢̕t̢̧e͟͜ s̢͘͡iǵ͞͠h̵t̨͟s͡
̀̀F͟͢͞or ͜m̛͡͞y͡ ̕͏r͟ei̡͜g̛̕͝ń̛̀ ͟͠had͝͠ ̀n̴̡ȩ̧͜v̧͟͠e͘r̨̧̕ w̢͏̨a͡n̕ed́,̸ ͘͟a͡͠҉s̡̧ ̕w̶̛hò̵l̸̷e͟͝ ò̴͠r̕ h̴̢o̵ĺlow̛.̨̧҉
NSWB Discord | Factbook | We Go Different, And In Thunder
DEFCON: ORANGE - FLEETS MOBILIZED, REINFORCEMENTS OUTBOUND
"If Menelmacar is the successful corporate executive parents with a nice house, your people are the black sheep daughter that parties with the wrong crowd and has a batshit crazy boyfriend." - The Eternal Ascendancy of Menelmacar


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