SDNW4 Story Thread 1

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2010-10-28 04:29am

REISENBERG
Outskirts of Prime City
July 3400


Image

Welcome to Pax Park. A place made by the Ministry of Ecology, MiniEcho, to give the Umerian citizenry a nice relaxing place to retreat to away from the hustle and bustle of the acrologies, where Umerians of all walks of life could go and bask in the warm glowing warming glow of nature, out of the steel and glass and occasional chrome of their ultra-urbanized surrounds. There in Pax Park, Type Four citizens could cool their heads after a day's worth of academia and number crunching and other such Umerian things. Type Three citizens could enjoy barbecues and bring kegs of Space Beer, as was popular for their demographics. Type Twos and Type Ones could frolic in the grass, playing games and having fun without a care in the world. In conjunction with the Ministry of Welfare, MiniWell, Pax Park was also the site of many programs partaken by the citizenry, from annual community events like Xmas parties and the New Year's holoworks, to civic affairs such as blood drives and charity donations.

Quite a few of the Umerian citizens of Prime City had fond memories of Pax Park back when they were Type One and Type Two citizens, until they grew up to Type Threes and Type Fours, though some never got to the fourth level. When it was winter, the lake would freeze over and they could go on ice skating or anti-gravity bobsledding, and when it was Unification Day they could have drinks while the kids played SpaceSec and Independents. Pax Park wasn't just part of the Prime City properties, it was part of their lives, and the kids who played Orks and Spacemen there gradually grew up to adults who'd get married there (Pax Park was a popular place for weddings), and eventually became old men and women sat on the park benches and fed breadcrumbs to the pigeons there.

Sunrise at Pax Park was always a breathtaking sight, as Reisenberg's nearest star rose up over the horizon and bathed dawnlight on the trees and the grass and the lake where the clear water would sparkle. When the dawnlight touched Prime City itself, the view was no less spectacular as the light was reflected off the gleaming chrome and glass buildings of the Old District. Those watching from Pax Park would say that those were true glimpses of what Umeria really was in its heart, where the abstract buildings fashioned from steel and science were warmed by the sunlight's humanizing glow.
***
It was a bright cold day in July, and the clocks were striking thirteen. A shadow fell upon Pax Park. There were no frolicking Type Ones and Twos playing games there, no Type Threes enjoying barbecues or beers, nor any Type Fours taking solace from the intellectual pressures of the academe. Not anymore. No more. Pax Park was cordoned off, none were allowed in it save for surveyors doing last minute preparations. The day's dawn would be its last.

The sky was clear, but there was a low rumble - like the sound of distant thunder growing louder as time went by, as it came nearer and nearer. It rattled windows and shook the very air. The pigeons of Pax Park flew away in flocks, as though guided by a premonition of what was to come. Even clear and placid waters of the lake was rippling, disturbed by what was to come. People began filing out of their homes and workplaces, looking up to behold the oncoming storm. Then and there they, the citizens of Prime City, saw what had come to shatter their sky.

Image

It burned through the heavens, a great ball of fire in the sky searing through the clouds themselves. Though the citizenry had been thoroughly briefed of what was to come, there was still a commotion amidst them as they grew anxious. The sound of sirens filled the air, reminiscent of those previous defense drills in the past months, only furthering their unease and worry. They knew that they had no reason to be frightened, MiniWell had told them to remain calm and, if necessary, enhance it. They were told to be well. But the sight of that thing was most assuredly not a reassurance. Type Ones and Twos began bawling and crying, furthering the consternation of the Type Threes, while the Type Fours struggled to maintain their cool amidst all of this.

There was a loud bang, and the children, who were Type Ones and Twos, and some of the adults who were also of the same classification, screamed and shouted for they did not know any better. The sound was, for those familiar with such things, identifiable as that of retro-rockets and booster engines kicking in to slow down the velocities of atmospheric reentry - and that was what the strange meteorite was doing as it came closer and closer to the surface of Reisenberg. It grew louder and louder until the sound of its engines became a roar, but conversely the object became slower and slower.

Finally it touched down, landing on nowhere else but Pax Park itself. Its landing rockets burned the plants and trees and grasses, while the sheer heat of its hull caused the lake placid to vaporize. It was a credit to MiniEcho that the terrestrial animals of the park, and the fishes of the lake, had been thoroughly evacuated to prevent casualties. The park began to burn, but before the fire could spread, the thing that landed released from its hull-vents a massive plume of coolant gases - dousing all prospective fires out and covering the entire landing zone in sub-zero cryonics. While the initial landing had flash-fried the whole nature preserve, the gas-venting had done the opposite and flash-froze the immediate surroundings, crystallizing blades of scorched glass and covering the blackened trees with a layer of permafrost. It made for a strange sight, as the entirety of the Pax Park had been turned into a scene of frozen flora captured in the very same instant of their burnination.

The smoke and ashes and foggy mist cleared, revealing the true form of the object that had landed.

Image

The Bragulan Pillbox that had just arrived at Reisenberg was a modified Bragbunker, with almost the same level of thermonuclear protection and Bragcrete armoring, and the same capability of being orbitally dropped to the battlefield. The few differences from the original model was the absence of micronuclear explosive reactive armoring and concentrated energy shield armor (CESA), as well as the conspicuous lack of thermonuclear weapons stockpiles in the Bragbunker's armory - which had instead been converted to office spaces for the diplomaticos stationed in the Pillbox.

Inscribed on its Bragulan Steel hull were the words:

BRAGULAN STAR EMPIRE'S MOST PATRIOTIC AND FRIENDLY PEOPLE'S PROUD CONSULATE TO THE UMERIAN TECHNOPSEUDOPROLETARIATS OF CAPITAL WORLD REISENBERG

At this sight, bystanders began flocking around the newly landed Pillbox-Consulate. The children, overjoyed at the sight of snow, believed that winter had come early this year and thus brought with it Xmas too. They squealed in glee and pulled out their ice skates, hoverboards and anti-gravity bobsleds, once more frolicking into the winter wonderland that Pax Park had become. Their parents tried to caution them, but they would not have any of that as they went on to write their names on the snow and began decorating palm trees.

Suddenly, the Pillbox-Consulate's blast doors opened with an evil hydraulic hiss and mist began billowing out of its insides as pressure differentials equalized. It was then that the passengers of the Pillbox-Consulate emerged to show themselves to the Umerians. These were real Bragulan diplomats, well-trained in the art of human cultures, and thus they had garbed themselves in bright red attires and brought with them massive body bags filled with gifts with which they carried in their clawed paws.

Image

"SANTA CLAWS!" the Type Ones and Type Twos, children and adults alike, squealed in joy.

"Da, comrades!" the Bragulans chuckled. Their scheme to ingratiate themselves with the puny hew-mans was all going according to plan. So they greeted the hew-mans according to the human traditions they had studied just for this purpose. "Happy Holidays! Merry... BRAGSDAY!"

They started throwing gifts. Traditional Bragulan gifts such as slabs of meat wrapped in newspaper, as well as copies of Byzon's Green Book written in human language and with pop-ups, as well as Bragulan propagandas.

"Yaaaaay!" the human children ran around excitedly, grabbing the gifts and being so polite and saying 'thank you' to the Bragulans.

One of the Bragulans sniffed and flecked a teardrop off his cheek. The sight of these puny hew-man cublings so excitedly receiving the gifts of Byzon made for a stirring sight and touched his Bragulan heart. It was the true Byzon Spirit, a moment of heart-warming Bragulanity.

The other Bragulans saw his sentimentality and laughed good-naturedly. They fucking laughed good-naturedly.

"HO! HO! HO!"
Image "DO YOU WORSHIP HOMOSEXUALS?" - Curtis Saxton (source)
shroom is a lovely boy and i wont hear a bad word against him - LUSY-CHAN!
Shit! Man, I didn't think of that! It took Shroom to properly interpret the screams of dying people :D - PeZook
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Fingolfin_Noldor » 2010-10-28 10:50am

Imperial Chronicles

“Step on it! Get on board the troop transports quickly!” Jaunt yelled. Under the orders of Lord Inquisitor Tyrus, Jaunt’s Ghosts would spearhead the boarding and extermination and capture of the albinos on the pirate base. Why they had to indulge in something like that, Jaunt did not know. He just followed orders given.

“Feeling a little unwanted, Jaunt?” asked Tyrus who was walking by in his hulking powered armor.

“Well, no, sir.” Jaunt quickly composed himself. It did not pay to anger an Inquisitor.

“I may not be psychic, but reading human expressions is something I have a knack for. You are wondering why I have you indulging in such a mission for which you feel is beneath you, aren’t you?”

‘Is the man psychic?’ Jaunt wondered. Many members of the Inquisition were psykers, though Tyrus never exhibited any of the psyker traits. “Well...”

“Don’t worry too much, Jaunt. You are under the command of the Inquisition now, which means you are several steps above the vermin who go grovelling for their lives down on the planet hoping not to be killed by some stray k-bolt from some trigger happy stupid bear. Also, deploying Astartes for jobs like this is overkill. If I wanted to obliterate a planet, I would call in for 10 companies of Astartes, along with a Strike Cruiser or a Destroyer, preferably the former though they are rather short on supply for that. If I wanted to take a pirate base, I will just call in some Inquisitorial stormtroopers or Imperial Guardsmen. Now quit thinking about your job prospects and get on with running your men. We have some stupid bears who are gunning for the same target as we are. Get on to it!”

“Yes, m’lord!”

‘Sounds better,’ Tyrus thought. He turned around and saw Petr Somn walking towards him. “Verified?”

“Yes, Lord Inquisitor. I have a rough schematic of the base based on the probe’s sensors. We should leave soon. Our spies tell us the Bragulans are taking off soon.”

“Inform the corvette Forsaken Angel that we are leaving soon.”

“Yes, Lord Inquisitor.”

”Damn that Ember woman,” Tyrus muttered, and stormed aboard the troop ship. The troop transport took off and boarded the corvette. The Forsaken Angel, unlike most the wrecks in the system, was an actual modern corvette of the Sharpshooter class. The Inquisition had despatched the corvette to the system so that it may be deployed to lay a series of sensors on the fringe of Karlack space and along the Imperium-Anglian Warp corridor. These sensors were to monitor the passage of any Karlack and, more importantly, Collector warships. The ship was naturally under Tyrus’ command given his mission to organize the Collector monitoring mission out here on Jenova. Tyrus simply made known his desire to investigate the pirate base to the ship’s captain, and the captain agreed to assist in the Lord Inquisitor’s mission. The ship made its move towards the Warp jump point, and soon they headed out into the Warp.
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After a brief warp jump, the corvette Forsaken Angel arrived at its intended target: a rather large hollowed out asteroid in a nearby system. The insurgents tried to pick a discrete place to locate their base. What they failed to reckon was the incompetence of their compatriots, and the dogged determination of Tyrus and his team. As the corvette approached the asteroid, the pirates sortied their ships, and the captain of the Forsaken Angel ordered the ship to go into flank speed, and to open fire with the forward batteries. Missiles were launched at the incoming ships, their micro gravitic drives accelerating them to incredible velocities. Some of the fighters tried to dodge, but the missiles were simply too agile. The larger craft took a few hits, and survived. However, the lance cannons and plasma cannons found their mark and tore to pieces a number of them. The pirates retreated and regrouped, attempting to make another coordinated attack run.

Image

Just then, the sensor officer barked over the neural network, “Captain! Bragulan ship emerging from hyperspace!”

“Damn those stupid bears,” Tyrus muttered. “Captain, I don’t care what it takes, be it ramming those pathetic sorry excuse for pirate craft, or whatever, fight your way through that rag tag bunch of morons and get us on board that base!”

The man certainly has an endless exhaustive supply of expletives, thought the Captain of the Forsaken Angel. “Yes, my Lord. Helmsman, make course for the asteroid. Weapons officer, target and fire at will.”

The Forsaken Angel ramped up its gravitic drive to full power. The ship accelerated to an incredible speed and its weapons blasted away at the enemy vessels. Some of the pirate ships diverted off to face the incoming Bragulan ship, allowing the Forsaken Angel to lay waste to the remaining ships. “Slice that Asteroid in half! From the sensor readouts, it seems that the pirates have command and control divided between the two halves. One of the halves will give the Bragulans something preoccupied while we sack the base,” ordered Tyrus.

“Aye, my Lord,” replied the captain. The lance cannons and plasma cannons opened fire at full volley, striking the base with immerse force. The shields of the facility held initially, but repeated volleys weakened the shields and collapsed them. The lance cannons and plasma cannons then sliced the facility in half, and then the corvette swiftly docked with the facility, and the men and women of Jaunt’s Ghosts began the storming of the base.
Image
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2010-10-28 02:44pm

Previously...
Imperial Chronicles wrote:Just then, the sensor officer barked over the neural network, “Captain! Bragulan ship emerging from hyperspace!”

“Damn those stupid bears,” Tyrus muttered. “Captain, I don’t care what it takes, be it ramming those pathetic sorry excuse for pirate craft, or whatever, fight your way through that rag tag bunch of morons and get us on board that base!”

The man certainly has an endless exhaustive supply of expletives, thought the Captain of the Forsaken Angel. “Yes, my Lord. Helmsman, make course for the asteroid. Weapons officer, target and fire at will.”

The Forsaken Angel ramped up its gravitic drive to full power. The ship accelerated to an incredible speed and its weapons blasted away at the enemy vessels. Some of the pirate ships diverted off to face the incoming Bragulan ship, allowing the Forsaken Angel to lay waste to the remaining ships. “Slice that Asteroid in half! From the sensor readouts, it seems that the pirates have command and control divided between the two halves. One of the halves will give the Bragulans something preoccupied while we sack the base,” ordered Tyrus.
DEEP SPACE
Somewhere in Sector Y-22

Image

The Patriotic Glory-class paleocruiser Most Venerable Fossilized Vanguard of Persevering Revolutionary Values emerged from hyperspace and filled the black void with its enormous mass. Those under its shadow would gaze up and behold megatons upon megatons of Bragcrete and Bragulan steel, making for a mountain of metal festooned with terrible weaponries. Once upon a time, it had been more than a match for the galaxy's greatest warships. But that was during the time of its creation, its heyday, half a millennium ago during the immediate post-revolutionary period when the Bragulan Star Empire too had been forged with blood and iron, cast by the great blacksmith of Bragulanity that was the Imperator Darvyl Sagatantron Byzon.

In the centuries since then, the Most Venerable Fossilized Vanguard of Persevering Revolutionary Values had fought in many wars, it had seen the arrogant Apexai scattered to the nine vectors while their homeworld had a moon thrown on it as per the Imperator's kindness, and had partaken in the many conflicts against the Solarians where it had stomped on the faces of countless humans - forever. Just as the moon-throwing had been a metaphorical face-stomping, so did the Most Venerable Fossilized Vanguard of Persevering Revolutionary Values do its patriotic Byzonist duty by stomping in as many faces as best it could, and now it was descending upon the pirate enclave like a massive steel shod boot bound to crush their grimy visages in a single stride.

However, the centuries had not been exactly kind to the paleocruiser. Once, in the 29th century, it had been rated as an Ultraheavy warship, more than 600 force-points according to the contemporary issue of Jayne's Frightening Ships. But as the Year 2800 issue of Jayne's pages turn yellow and crumble into dust, so too did the Patriotic Glory-class paleocruiser and its sister ships atrophy. It went from an Ultraheavy to a lesser Superheavy, losing a hundred force-points for every hundred years that passed, and as the eons went by it gradually declined from a Superheavy into a mere hundred-pointer Heavy.

Now it was a glorified rustbucket, its sheer size disproportionate to the actual power output of its dimming sub-nuclear reactors, while its decayed hull leaked copious amounts of radiation to the point where its mere presence set off radiological alerts for gigameters around it. So it floated there, mechanically-steered radar arrays spinning painfully slow, metallic hydrogen coolant belching out of exposed and punctured piping, barely functioning and seemingly barely spaceworthy.

The pirate ships heckled it. Thinking the fossilized vessel, which even had the word 'fossilized' advertised in its very name, to be easier game than an aquila-adorned Imperium warship, they decided to attack it. Certainly, the paleocruiser would be easier to kill than a modern Byzantine corvette, and after getting rid of it they would be free to make their escape while the Byzantinians were busy with the asteroid base, am i rite?

Wrong.

The pirate ships opened fire. The myopic sensor suite of the aged ship was slow to react, and point-defense K-bolters did not fire in time to intercept the incoming projectiles and missiles, which struck right in the ship's prow. There weren't even any shields, the warheads made contact with the bare hull and detonated - ripping through rusted armor and the underlying decks with contemptuous ease. The prow of the Fossilized Vanguard belched smoke and fire into space while the hyperwaves were filled with the whoops and cheers of the pirate ships' crews.

But the paleocruiser didn't move. The impact didn't even budge it. It just floated there as a plume of smoke rose from the hull-breach.

The pirates chattered amongst themselves. Perhaps that was it? Perhaps the singe salvo had defeated the big Bragulan behemoth battleship in an underwhelming way? Maybe the old paleocruiser had a warship equivalent of a heart attack and just died there? Maybe it had grown senile! Or...

Or maybe the unshielded portion of the prow was unshielded because nobody was using it, and the crew of the oversized Bragulan ship had sealed off entire useless portions of the vessel, locking away disused decks so that damage there wouldn't affect the rest of the ship, where they had shields on over only the used portions to save energy?

That realization dawned on them and they unloaded another salvo towards the paleocruiser. The railgun rounds and missiles that struck the rest of the ship were harmlessly absorbed by ray shields, which emitted spikes of hard radiation with each and every impact. Even the warheads that went into the breached prow detonated against shield walls that were active under the disused compartment.

The second salvo seemed to have awakened the Fossilized Vanguard from its slumber. Truth be told, the paleocruiser had been stationed over Jenovan orbit ever after Bragulan forces had arrived there centuries ago, and it had never left the system since. In all those years, the unused hyperdrives - like the ship's disused decks - were neglected and power meant for them was instead shunted off to shield generators and weapons systems and sensor suites to boost their outputs (in order to cope with increasingly more advanced Byzantine warship designs). Only now, hundreds of years later, did the Fossilized Vanguard bother to transit to and from hyperspace again, and that required all sorts of creative rewiring on part of the crew. They finished their work in time for the second salvo, and with a sudden increase in ambient radioactivity the Fossilized Vanguard's ancient active-aggressive sensor systems went online, making the enormous radar dishes bathe the pirate vessels in alpha, beta and gamma radiation. What the ancient ship lacked in technological sophistication and finesse, it made up with raw unadulterated power - and despite not having been refueled in decades, its sub-nuclear reactors still had it in them.

The hyperwaves would've been filled with the curses of pirates, had the paleocruiser's cursory sensor sweep not jammed their frequencies.

It would've been filled with their death screams too, had the channels not been filled with the sound of the Bragulans laughing.

There, bolted on the ventral hull of the paleocruiser was a looted Byzantine lance cannon pried from a felled Byzantine warship during its first naval engagement over Jenova. The punishment of un-authorized modification to the Imperator's glourious warships was twenty years in the gulag, but for the successful attempt at espionage and reverse-engineering alien weapons systems, there was also a reward of ten years paid vacation - thus, subtracting reward from punishment in a feat of Byzonist arithmetic, the Fossilized Vanguard's original crews were merely sent to the gulag for only ten years, and were paid for it too!

After they were granted freedom, they were subsequently beaten unconscious with sticks, dragged back into the Fossilized Vanguard, and thrown into the cryo-chambers because their knowledge on alien weapons systems was too valuable. So every time the paleocruiser was engaged in combat, the new crews would thaw the old crew and use their expertise in manning the looted alien technology to their advantage. This went on for centuries and now, once again, the naked frostbitten Bragulan crewmen were awoken and rushed to their weapons stations by a barking commissar waving a nasty beating-stick. They activated the Byzantine plasma lance and began vaporizing the pirate vessels one after the other while shooting down incoming warheads with commandeered Solarian autolasers. Though still groggy from their stasis-slumber, they nonetheless fired their weapons with military precision, because that was what they always ended up doing each and every time they were thawed out of their chambers.

The Fossilized Vanguard brought its unexpected lance cannon to bear on the fleeing pirate ships and fired some more, the whole paleocruiser moving to aim the big honking space gun much like an Umerian warship since the lance cannon wasn't mounted on a turret but just bolted on the paleocruiser's belly. As this happened, not once did the Fossilized Vanguard's antiquated K-bolter batteries or missile launchers fire a single shot. It was actually more convenient this way, since lances and lasers didn't use ammunition, it would spare the crew the trouble of having to physically reload the torpedo tubes and K-bolt magazines.

After the business was done, the ship's commissar thanked the centuries-old crews for their patriotic services and threw them back into the cryo-chambers, heedless of their protests or questions - for they often asked what year it was, or whether or not their families and loved ones were still alive, etcetera. The commissar's answers were always the same, the date was Bragsday and their families and loved ones were all dead. The new crews of the Fossilized Vanguard looked on nervously, wondering if they too would end up being stowed away in the cryo-chambers in never-ending servitude even after getting honorably discharged from the navy.

These contemplations were cut short as the on-board commissar snapped at them and chastised them for not filling the hyperwaves with their malicious Bragulan laughter, which was standard psychological warfare protocol when humans were present, so the Fossilized Vanguard's crew started laughing nervously. At this, the commissar expressed his utmost disappointment and instructed those whose laughter were most disappointing to suit up and prepare to board the pirate stronghold.

Meanwhile, the Byzantinian ship fired a concentrated lance blast that carved the pirate asteroid-base into two. To be fair, it was a puny asteroid base, so even assuming that the asteroid was a spherical mass of iron, the Byzantine's weapons yield was not quite as ridiculous as what some would estimate of it. It was still a corvette, after all.

As the Byzantine corvette docked with one half of the pirate base, the Fossilized Vanguard ended up docking with the other half. It was fair and square, and soon Bragulan naval infantry began storming their allotted half of the pirate base just as the Byzantinians and their Jaunt's Jokes boarded the other half.
Image "DO YOU WORSHIP HOMOSEXUALS?" - Curtis Saxton (source)
shroom is a lovely boy and i wont hear a bad word against him - LUSY-CHAN!
Shit! Man, I didn't think of that! It took Shroom to properly interpret the screams of dying people :D - PeZook
Shroom, I read out the stuff you write about us. You are an endless supply of morale down here. :p - an OWS street medic
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2010-10-29 02:02am

THE ORION'S GUARDIAN
Hungry Bragulans found eating graveyard corpses!



CELESTE, USS - From a distance it looked like a fashionably fat humanoid grieving over the grave of a loved one. But when two androgynes in the Celestian village of RRoan Oak came closer, they saw that there was a Bragulan in the cemetery eating a body.

The RRoan Oak incident took place on Saturday in the Sovereignty world of Celeste, mere lightyears away from Wild Space. The shocked women screamed in horrer, frightening the Bragulan back into the woods, before they uncovered a gruesome scene with the Bragulan's clothing chucked over adjacent tombstones while the already-dead victim was left naked. The already-dead victim's own clothing have so far been unaccounted for, according to the intrepid investigative journalists of the Orion's Guardian.

The Bragulans are believed to be stragglers from the latest USS-BSE skirmish over at the nearby Wild Space world of Majella, where the true circumstances of the conflict have been covered up by the CEID's spook show. Sightings of grave-eating Bragulans have increased in the months since the conclusion of the mysterious Majellan Incident, along with reports of mass dance outbreaks in the Wild Space border worlds. Whether these inscrutable incidents are merely strange coincidences, or are somehow nefariously tied to the Majellan Incident, are as of yet unknown. However the Orion's Guardian advises its readers to heed the popular saying: "Coincidence is the CEID's way of remaining anonymous."

After all, no one could have guessed the truth of the Permanent Government's experimentations resulting in Psion Hybrids created by kidnapping Apexai refugees and impregnated them with prefabricated human embryos, in a grotesque subversion of the alien abduction trope. Experts agree that these grave-eating Bragulans may very well be another scheme by the CEID, perhaps an attempt at bribing Bragulan defectors. Even if its not the CEID, then perhaps its the IBGV having another one of its inhuman intelligence plots remorselessly aimed at human beings of all walks of life and even unlife!

Whatever the reason for these unreasonable acts, we are truly living in interesting times indeed. As always, the Orion's Guardian suggests that its readers spread word of these diabolical schemes to the OrGazmo-addicted commoners, for the invisible claws of the Permanent Government may close in on all of us at any moment. The psychic spystars are listening to listening to your every thought, and the MIBs are lurking in the shadows around you! Gentlebeings, keep watching the skies!
Image "DO YOU WORSHIP HOMOSEXUALS?" - Curtis Saxton (source)
shroom is a lovely boy and i wont hear a bad word against him - LUSY-CHAN!
Shit! Man, I didn't think of that! It took Shroom to properly interpret the screams of dying people :D - PeZook
Shroom, I read out the stuff you write about us. You are an endless supply of morale down here. :p - an OWS street medic
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Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-10-29 11:58am

Central Administration Complex, Reisenburg
Office of the Second Technarch for Foreign Affairs
June 12, 3400


Dr. Chernov's visiplate tone was set to the ringing-bell sound of an archaic electromechanical telephone. Not for nostalgia; you couldn't be nostalgic for an environment you'd never experienced, but it just sounded right. He glanced at the plate and hit "receive."

"Hi, Mike."

The First Technarch nodded sharply. "Max. You got word of the mess Task Force Two ran into?"

"I did. A frigate written off, two more and a cruiser in the hospital, as it were... that's got to sting."

"Cal's not happy."

Stood to reason; it was the Second Technarch for Security's job to worry when ships got blown up. "What, did... what's her name... Hazarika do something wrong?"

"Not as far as SpaceSec can tell. But what looked like a minor outpost turned out to have damn near twenty heavy corvettes and a big damn fighter wing, plus some fairly impressive fixed defense platforms. It's got the Centralists worried, looks like."

"What are we going to do?"

"Raise the stakes. Cal and I have decided to send out the Second Intervention Task Force."

"That's... a lot of force to send that far."

"Well yes, by our standards; it's going to be a big project keeping them fueled and ammoed up. But it's not out of line with what Tianguo or the local powers to antispinward sent. And I think it might be just as well if we get more experience with long range expeditionary work; as I said back in February, we're living in interesting times."

Chernov sighed. "I guess you're right. I assume you want me to compose the note?"

"Yes..."

Finishing the note to the Centralists didn't take long. Maxim was about to tuck into an early lunch when he got his second cabinet-level caller of the day. Glancing at the plate, this time as he hit 'receive' he thought to himself, what could she want? Not that she wasn't fairly pleasant company, but he hardly ever saw her outside Council meetings. Ecology and Foreign Affairs didn't overlap very often...

"Doctor Susie, I presume?"

"Max, I'm not happy about where you want to drop the Bragulan Consulate..." Oh. That? He was half surprised she was taking a personal interest; it was only the one park.

Maxim was, for all his many virtues, very much not an outdoors person.

He gave her his best ingratiating smile. "But Susie, it's the only open space big enough within five kilometers of Central Admin."

"It's also the biggest civic park within five kilometers of Central Admin." Her eyebrow twitched. "Can't you get them to sway the bunker into a vacant lot on tractors or something? Or use some place out by the spaceport?"

"I'm sorry; they're so insistent about these things. There's nothing I can do."

"You've been tying the local zoning authorities in knots, Max. My local zoning authorities. You've got the paperwork so mixed up that if I try to tell them to put a stop to it'll make so much confusion I'll need weeks to sort it out... by which point the Bragulans will have landed the damn bunker in the middle of the park anyway. I really don't like this."

"I don't like it either, but I'm telling you, I can't get the Bragulans to agree to anything less than one of those mini-forts." Not easily, at any rate

She frowned. "You'd better have gotten them to strip out the radiation hazards first."

"That, I managed."

"Good. Clearing the park is going to be expensive enough without having to come back and decon the place every week."

"Again, Susie, I'm sorry. But we all have to make sacrifices sometimes."

The Second for Ecology's eyebrow twitched again. "...Right. Well, I suppose at this point there's nothing for it. Goodbye." Her image vanished.

Central Administration Complex, Reisenburg
Office of the Second Technarch for Ecology


GRRRR!

Dr. Susan Islington Warren-Marshall muttered curses to herself. She'd tried to stop MiniFor's plan, but the paperwork situation really was a mess. She had a dark suspicion that Maxim hadn't really tried to convince the Bragulans. He'd probably decided it would be easier on his people to just nod, smile, and then create a paper jam in the capital bureaucracy so thick that the Bragulans would land right in the middle of it if anyone tried to sort it out.

At this point, there was nothing to do but clear out the park and hope for the best. That scheming, conniving old tyrant... GRRR!

No, wait. That was the wrong attitude. Don't get mad, get even.

She would have to meditate on how to do this properly. Susie's office was carefully screened; while much of Central Admin was encased in null fields, her own office walls blocked even the fringe effects of those fields, allowing her to think at top clarity. She settled back in her chair, closed her eyes, and tried to figure out how she was going to handle this.

Ummmm... HA!

Central Administration Complex, Reisenburg
Office of the Second Technarch for Foreign Affairs
July 8, 3400


Maxim was flicking back and forth through several documents, dealing with the flurry of issues that had arisen immediately after the arrival of the Bragulan consulate and preparing for the Altacar Conference on the fate of the planet Volksland. He was interrupted by one of his senior staffers.

"Yes, Rajiv?"

"Max, we have a problem. Have you gotten a look at the city news today?"

"No, why?"

"Check where MiniEcho announced that they're planning to put the replacement for Pax Park."

How is that a problem for us? He brought up the image.

Oh, no.

"Rajiv, she dropped the corner of the park on the Victory Boulevard archives!"

"Exactly."

"But the announced date for having the buildings in the area abandoned for demolition is..."

"I know, sir."

This was going to put their records in chaos. There were deep-classified files in the basement there, databanks that could not be transferred over the Net. The banks would have to be taken out and put somewhere, somewhere secure... and there was only just barely time to get everything done without cutting corners.

He had to do something. He called the Second for Ecology.

"Yes, Max?" Why is she smiling? That was... a very broad, toothy smile, come to think of it.

"Susie, about the plans for the new park..."

"What about them?"

"You've got one of our archival facilities slated for demolition to make room. I need more time to clear everything out, or it's going to make a mess of things."

Her grin faded. "I'm sorry, but the orders are already in the works. You know how it is."

"Can't you rearrange the park to leave room for the building?"

"It's the best site; anything else in the area would mean even more disruption."

"What about just putting up the rest of the park and leaving the archives standing in the corner?"

"My people checked; we'd have to redesign the lower floors of the basemeent. The water table would be all wrong otherwise."

"Surely you can..."

"Nope. Sorry. Nothing for it. This is a very complex problem in urban ecology and zoning, and I'm afraid my people have gone over it exhaustively."

"But do you know how much trouble it's going to be to get everything out of there before the deadline without leaving the files in total disorder?"

Susie smiled again, with mock sympathy that was belied by the little sparks of glee in her eyes. "Again, Max, I'm sorry. But we all have to make sacrifices sometimes."
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Force Lord » 2010-10-29 02:39pm

Presidential Center Building, Central City
Main Conference Room
June 13


"By Dovan's Word, is that true?" Viso Fredon was chagrined.

"Yes General Secretary, it appears that the pirates were tougher than we gave them credit for. Task Group 23 has two ships damaged beyond repair, two others in need of extensive repairs, and the rest have taken damage that was not crippling, but not to the delight of our repair teams," Grand Admiral Noslem Yeslah said. "It will be out of action for weeks until repairs are complete and replacements arrive."

"What about the rest of Task Group 4?", asked Cracus Vompey.

"It can still be deployed, but with TG 23's losses, its effectiveness will be reduced. I was about to ask permission to deploy another Task Force."

Fredon looked at him for a moment, then said, "Very well, you may do so."

"But know this, Grand Admiral," said Vompey, "we expect better from the Navy. Your men must redouble their efforts to crush these pirates."

"Aye, sir." Yeslah soon left the room, passing by Tredell, Borlon and Nostrum who had just arrived.

"The Umerians have sent us a message," said Nostrum. "They indend to send a secont Intervention Task Force as reinforcements. I already informed them that we accept the offer and we will send reinforcements of our own. Will we?"

"Of course", said Fredon. "I just told the Chief of Staff of the Navy to send another Task Force."

"Then I spoke the truth before being certain. Very well, I'll return to my post." And so Nostrum left.

Fredon noticed that Tredell and Borlon remained in the room. "Well my friends, what is it?"

Borlon was first to speak. "It concerns Dirad Kierger."

"What, something wrong?"

"It's...complicated."

"How?"

It was Tredell who spoke. "Kierger went to Rimland Sector, informing us that he intended to to supervise the planets there. However, he fell off the radar for a few days. We sent CSB agents to locate him, and the task took them several days."

Fredon noticed that Tredell looked rather...uneasy.

"Did something happen to him?" Fredon was worried. Kierger was a rather young person, in his late 20's, and so a bit more...rebellious, for lack of a better term. That, and awareness that he was the successor to the late Enduvos, made him more troublesome than the typical Dovan's Heir. Fredon still remembered the occasion that Kierger had a rather nasty tantrum after Enduvos repeatedly refused to assign him to govern the Center Sector, interrupting an entire Party session in doing so. Enduvos was so furious that he had Kierger locked up for months.

Tredell again spoke, this time rather sheepishly. "They found him in Flanex." And then, with more emphasis, "In a brothel."

It took a moment for Fredon to process the last sentence, but when he did, he could do nothing but facepalm and sigh.

"And this lad is supposed to be Enduvos's successor how?"

Tredell and Borlon could only sigh in turn.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by RogueIce » 2010-10-29 06:12pm

Highwind IV Approaching SRS Ragnarok - Midgar, Shinra Republic: 18 July 3400 UNST

Grand Admiral Leo Cristophe was sitting in his personal cabin when the intercom buzzed. "Admiral, we're on final approach to the Ragnarok now," said the yacht's pilot.

"Thank you," replied the Admiral. Leo rose from his chair and tucked the datapad into his uniform pocket. He had been reading some interesting intel reports from the United Sectors, an ally of the Republic who had thus far remained quiet on the larger galactic stage.

Within a few minutes, the Highwind IV had landed aboard the massive Battle Carrier, and Admiral Cristophe was waiting by the ramp to disembark. As he began his descent to the flight deck, he saw that Grand Admiral Gilad Pellaeon was waiting for him. "Admiral Pellaeon," he greeted his old friend. "I'm glad you could spare the time to welcome me aboard."

"My pleasure, Admiral Cristophe," replied the Shinra Republic Navy's second Grand Admiral. "You'll have to head dirtside soon enough, but I was able to convince the President that he could spare you for a little while." Pellaeon gave him a small smile. "It's not often officers as prestigious as ourselves are in the same space, after all," the Admiral said, dryly sarcastic.

Leo surpressed a laugh. "No, I suppose it isn't. And I've heard Marshal General Roth will also be here soon."

Pellaeon nodded. "Yes. The two of you, as it turns out, will be members of the President's party as he welcomes a first contact delegation from a state known as 'The Refuge'. It should be interesting; they moved in to Outlander space shortly after the Commission collapsed."

"I've seen the reports. Interesting indeed." Leo paused briefly, considering his next subject. "I've also read about some interesting happenings in sector H-12."

"Ah yes," Pellaeon replied after a moment, recalling the report he had read. "The Centrality and Umerians got a bit of a bloody nose there, from what the US intelligence has gathered. I understand from some friends in Foreign Affairs that this makes them a little worried."

"Understandably so," said Leo. "I suppose the question is, the United Sectors being our ally, does this make the Republic nervous as well?"

"Nervous enough to send in the Fleet, you mean?" Pellaeon considered this for several moments. "It's possible. But this battle happened over a month ago and so far the President hasn't given any indication. Of course we only recently got the report ourselves, the Shoals being the Shoals. So who knows what's happened since then?"

Leo nodded. "Intelligence probably does. When they'll get around to sharing it with the rest of us, on the other hand..." The Admiral shrugged. "Well, I'm sure with this first contact I'll be spending plenty of time around the President. Maybe I'll get the chance to make ask him."

"Just as soon as he's done asking you about Doma, of course," Pellaeon said with a smile. "Speaking of which, how about sharing some war stories with an old friend..."
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The war continues on..." - Angela & Jeff van Dyck, We Are All One (Medieval 2: Total War)
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2010-10-31 01:53pm

Cananaan
Sector L-23

When Earth That Was and Nova Terra could no longer sustain humanity's numbers, mankind fled to the stars in a great exodus known as the Diaspora. It was an unprecedented surge of souls seeking sanctuaries in uncharted space, and many were lost in the dark places where there was nothing but the blackness that claimed them. But there were those fortunate few who found salvation and sanctuary in rare and precious worlds that could sustain man, those fine and fertile lands where life could flourish. It was these survivors, colonizers and settlers who would lead humanity's spread across the heavens.

In their voyage through the bleak expanse of a harsh and unyielding universe, a group of such exodite-colonists hailing from Earth found a new solar system with dozens of planets and hundreds of moons, some already hospitable, others requiring but minor terraformation to make ready for man's inhabitation. It was in short order that they made these worlds into new Earths and Terras, and these settlers, harrowed by their journey through the unending silence of space, celebrated this land of milk and honey they had most auspiciously made home. Thus they called it Cananaan, a name from the old and holy beliefs their peoples shared and held common.

It was so that they lived in peace and prosperity, safe in the solace and sanctitude of their new homes so far away from their old abandoned world, and just as they had left Earth so too did they strive to make something new and better for themselves. It was a fresh start on a fresh world, on many worlds, planets and moons alike, as well as the habitats they were building together. With the sweat of their brows and the strength of their backs, they were creating their own futures there on Cananaan - the liberty they had won for themselves.

But news of this prosperous land would become heard far and wide, and then there were newcomers, themselves seeking new homes in new worlds. They were Nova Terrans, and in desperation they came to Cananaan for there was nowhere else, lest they venture out into the black and wither in the nothingness of space. They were allowed to stay on the fringe moons of the system, those planetoids still in need for terraformation, for after all the Cananaanites had won their well-deserved worlds by virtue of being the first to lay claim to the best planets, and through years of toil and labor afterwards. These Nova Terran newcomers had to earn the worlds that were left for them to claim, those places that the Cananaanites themselves didn't deign to settle on. The Nova Terrans would have to make their own futures for themselves, with their own will and effort.

Thus with jealous eyes did the Nova Terrans gaze covetously at the Cananaanite lands, those overflowing with milk and honey and ripened fruits. For did they not have the same right, just as any man, to live in good worlds? Was it not wrong for the Cananaanites to exclude them from their worlds? Not content with their lot, the Terrans set forth to stake their claim on the choice worlds that the Cananaanites had been too selfish to share with them. Thus did they go from their desolate planetoids and encroach upon the inner space of the system, there on the verdant planets and lush moons that the Cananaanites had denied from them.

The Nova Terrans came and it was with unexpected viciousness that they took what was not theirs, for the Cananaanites had not anticipated the Nova Terrans' capacity for cruelty, having grown fat and complacent in their own self-styled superiority. They broke through the walls of Cananaan's citadels and put to the sword all that was not theirs, in order to make what was left their own. The Cananaanites surrendered their lands and were cast off their own worlds, sent to live in the desolate planetoids they had consigned the Nova Terrans to in the past. Satisfied with their vengeance, the Nova Terrans settled themselves to their new homes.

The lands they had found themselves in, the planets and moons they had taken for themselves, was a blessing, or so they thought. But unlike the Earthling Cananaanites, the Nova Terran usurpers had not created what they now called theirs, they had merely taken it all. Having not learned how to make, only to take, it was not long till the covetousness of the Nova Terrans turned them against themselves, their jealous eyes gazing at each others' pries and territorial claims as each tribe sought to claim more for themselves at the others' expense. They began to war against each other.

Unlike the Cananaanites, who had learned from their lesson of humility, the Nova Terran usurpers did not know the meaning of the word. The Terrans had won Cananaan from the Cananaanites themselves due to their unexpected viciousness, and it was with this lack of ruth that they inflicted upon one another. Those who were driven off their lands would scorch the earth, so that those who would take it from them would find the very soil cursed and ruinated. Likewise, those who were evicted from their worlds would do the same, for if they could not have it, then no one would. Such was the barbarity of the Nova Terran tribes, for they had taken with them what the histories of their home world had taught them.

It was so that the land of milk and honey was poisoned, the milk turned sour and the honey spoiled. Everything the Cananaanites had done was undone, and in the end it was they who were left to pick up the rubble. The Nova Terrans left the ruins of Cananaan, having taken everything of value with them, and the rival tribes would split and venture off into opposite directions - spinward and anti-spinward - and there, elsewhere away from Cananaan did they find their fates. In the long journey through the silent tomb of space, the warring tribes would find new homes and name them after the places they hailed from back in their true home, Nova Terra. Those who went spinward would call theirs Byzantium. Those who went antispinward would call theirs Klavostan.

In the centuries since their short time on Cananaan, their nations would become great and powerful - and while the tribes were far away from one another, they would still continue their warring ways, though their viciousness would be shown to other enemies, and not each other, not anymore.

Since their departure from Cananaan, the land has somewhat recovered from the deprivations they had inflicted upon it. The Cananaanites live there still, tending to their homes, their moons and worlds, as the scars left by old wounds slowly heal with time. Yet the past is never forgotten. They all remember.

To this day, there are many Klavostanis and Byzantines who return to Cananaan, the crossroads from which their nations can trace their origins. They come in pilgrimage, for there are holy sites there for both their tribes, for both their peoples - for the Muslim and the Orthodox. Often their sacred places are near each other, or on each other, or are the very same. These serve as all too vivid reminders of the past, and neither tribe has changed their ways. And again, these Terrans settle once more on Cananaanite worlds, and once more they encroach upon the people who have not forgotten what was done to them and their homes.

Once upon a time, Cananaan had been a place where people tried to make their futures, where they sought to new and better lives than those of their pasts.

That is no longer so, for now, Cananaan has become a place where the past is not only remembered, but also relived. It has also become a place where the past returns to the present and haunts the future of all men there.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Mayabird » 2010-10-31 07:57pm

15 July 3400
Borders of Khe!Srri Sector
Former Outlander Space


First, they came barging in. Hundreds of ships, and factories for ships, and giant asteroid-eating mining machines to feed the factories, and so on. Once they were in and were claiming the sector for themselves, they announced that they were 'the Refuge' and they told everyone that they could surrender or die, and they were serious about that. They must've been planning it for years, spying in the dark, the way they knew exactly where almost every little base, hollowed asteroid colony, and depot was. Methodical. Turning that Mech clan to their side must've helped too, telling the Refugees about all those little nooks that were so easily overlooked. Very little news had leaked out, and all of that slowly, of what was going on in the sector, of the places that got slagged or those that got blacked out. There were a few times that a ship thought it had been drifting quietly, collecting data, then jumped to hyperspace to report and lead the Refuge back to their heretofore undiscovered base.

But of course it didn't end there, no not at all. The Refuge couldn't be satisfied with grabbing a whole sector, but was now sending patrols outside as well, stopping by outposts and stopping all ships (or blowing them up if they wouldn't stop). If they thought someone was 'legitimate' they were let go. Everybody else went the same way as all the slagged and blacked. No doubt some people were trying to pretend to be 'legitimate' and hoping that would be enough. Maybe it worked, but the nobody had heard of it. It was hard to stay clean in the Outlands, where sometimes the pirates that were formerly naval elements gone rogue are the only authorities around, but everyone was getting swept up.

The only ones left were the incredibly lucky and the very well organized, and the latter were all pulling out. Too many Refugees with a capital R swarming around. Might as try to operate in some big nation's core sectors. The pirates found ways around the Refuge, its blind spots, but it wasn't worth it. Better to get out of the Refuge's way and rebuild elsewhere. Space was big and there were plenty of safe ports elsewhere.


That was why The Captain and his crew of meatbags were hiding in the atmosphere of a gas giant. It had been a narrow escape; they shouldn't have tried to make that last run to try to offload their cargo of physically addictive games. It was a narrow escape, one they made only by leaving the cargo. So now they had to hide from the patrols, waiting and hoping that the Refugees would decide that they had been destroyed in the storm and leave. They had to spend a lot of fuel keeping their elevation, not sinking too far into the atmosphere, but not going high enough that they'd be spotted. The storm was battering The Captain hard as the crew huddled in their shielded radiation room. This was something he was not enjoying, and The Captain was not stoic.

The ship coms blared, “Must be nice for all you fleshies there, just sitting in your little room while I do all the work, as usual. Oops, and there went some more hull plating. Someone will have to do a spacewalk later to patch it.”

Kees hissed at the first mate,”Notsix, sir, is there any way to shut him up?” He was the newest member of the crew and a bit slow, so he still hadn't figured out all the idiosyncrasies of the ship yet. It had taken him a couple weeks to finally figure out that The Captain was also The Captain, and The Captain was an AI, one with the ship.

Notsix snorted back, something she could do very well with her long pink-gray snout. “Best be glad The Captain talks. If he i'nt, then we really have trouble.” Then she scratched an itch between her plates on her tail.
Image
Notsix was an uplifted, talking, intelligent, cyborged, bipedal armadillo, the product of a combination of Umerian mad science and Solarian cash. That same combination made The Captain as well, and their first act of piracy was stealing themselves away and fleeing to the old Outlands and beyond.

They took the long silence from Kees as a sign that he actually understood, until he said “Huh? I don't get it.”

“She means,” said Jan van Maan, the chief negotiator and general doer-of-whatever-needed-doing, in his snooty educated voice, “If The Captain isn't speaking, he's either too busy trying not to die to complain, or he is damaged and can't. Either way, we're bloody well hosed.” It was not the last time van Maan regretted asking for another crewman to join, saying that he and the mechanic Josse the runaway Tym (who was curled up against Oatmeal, The Captain's dog, as they both napped) were overworked and needed another set of hands, especially one human-sized or better.

“Speaking of hosed,” The Captain said, “I just took some damage to the fuel lines of Engine 2, and it hurts like a bitch. Josse? When you wake up and I'm out of this gashole, fixing it is your first priority.”

“Mrrr-mrrrr-mrrrr,” Josse mumbled in acknowledgment, in her sleep.

Then the ship shook, hard. A crate of rations that they thought had been secured (but had been forgotten by Kees) fell over with a crash, waking up Oatmeal. “Spawn of a WHORE,” The Captain swore. “Stupid guides said the winds shouldn't be able to get this strong. How in the-” and then he was cut off.

There was an uncomfortable pause, broken only by Oatmeal whining.

Kees said, “So, we're hosed now?”

Jan didn't respond. Notsix unstrapped herself with a gurgling-growl to move the crate somewhere that it wouldn't slide, but a particularly hard shake knocked her down and she slid into Oatmeal's doghouse. She yelped, as did Oatmeal, and then Oatmeal peed right there in the house. The smell was overpowering to Josse, and she woke up screeching in her tinny, high-pitched voice, but not high-pitched enough to spare the humans the pain, “BAD DOG! BAD OATMEAL! BAD!”

All in all, it wasn't a good day.
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SDNW4 Nation: The Refuge And, on Nova Terra, Al-Stan the Totally and Completely Honest and Legitimate Weapons Dealer and Used Starship Salesman slept on a bed made of money, with a blaster under his pillow and his sombrero pulled over his face. This is to say, he slept very well indeed.

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Mayabird » 2010-11-01 12:07pm

20 July 3400
Orange Free System


[Note: location is just off the map.]

The Captain had landed at Bloemfontein Spaceport and promptly caught fire. The fire itself on the ship wasn't terrible and was put out before the fire squad arrived, but some sparks had blown off in the stiff hot winds of the dry season and landed on some dead grass a ways down and promptly set them on fire. What followed was a frantic fight by the fire squad to keep the brushfire from spreading back towards the spaceport or other populated areas until it could be allowed to burn itself off towards the mud flats. Then they charged The Captain and his crew for the fire fighting and the eight valuable trained prawns that had been lost in the blaze.

They barely had enough to cover the landing and docking fees; the only way they'd be able to cover the costs for the fire would be to sell The Captain with The Captain in it, assuming they could actually get someone to pay with the amount of damage to the ship (also assuming that they could con someone else into falling for it again and could afford losing Orange as a safe port forever afterward).

Van Maan tried to contact an old friend of his, a loan shark named Jacob, to see about borrowing enough money to pay for repairs and the fine. He thought the old backdoor lines weren't working anymore, which worried him greatly since none of them had any other idea how to cover the fines quickly. Then the paramilitary, with MPU logos sewn onto the jackets of their full-body urban camo, drove up and asked that everyone kindly come along with them to the city as they impounded The Captain.. It had gotten even more unnerving when the captain asked that both of the remaining ship drones come along too, as, “The Captain also needed to be present, in one form or another.”

Then they had ridden in the windowless prisoner ground-transport, Notsix and van Maan and Kees and The Captain's drones and tiny Josse riding on Oatmeal's back. Since every situation can be made worse, the transport threw a tread, jolting them around as it stopped and delaying them while it was repaired. Somehow that broke Kees's will, and he blubbered in confession of every crime he'd ever commit, plus several he hadn't actually done. By the time they finally arrived at...wherever it was they arrived at...he had reached animal abuse, and was relating that time when he was five years old and microwaved his sister's pet turtle to death because the turtle was cool to the touch so he thought the turtle had caught a cold and needed to be warmed up so he wouldn't be sick.

In usual “hurry up and wait” fashion they had been rushed through a series of unmarked off-white painted hallways and corridors, up and down freight elevators, through more hallways (some of which were the same ones from before), and then all were shoved into a room with no furniture and light-tan walls and tiling. Two guards, silent, still, and armed, stood at the door. And there they stayed. A short time felt long, and they were there a long time.

The only bright spot after that for everyone who wasn't Kees was when one of the paramilitary guards snapped and clubbed him over the head while screaming, “shut the fook up!” It spared them all the rest of the story about that time he threw up in a basin of holy water at a church and tried to cover it up. Then the guard had gone right back to his previous stance; the other one hadn't moved at all.

It had been another bad day, and there had already been twenty-six standard hours of it.

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2010-11-01 02:34pm

Universal Galactopedia > Places > Cananaan


The Cananaan system is located in space sector L-23. It is noted for its possession of dozens of planets and hundreds of moons, most of which are capable of sustaining life to varying degrees, and its position relative to the neighboring galactic polities also make it a hub for interstellar trade through the hyperlanes. The Cananaan system is also known for its pivotal role in inter-Diaspora history, having been first colonized by Earthling settlers, before serving as a temporary home for Nova Terran colonists who then left the system after an interplanetary war made several of the choice Cananaanite worlds less than hospitable to human life. The Cananaanites were left with their ruined worlds as the Terrans went on and split off to opposite directions, those who went spinwards going off to what would later become the Byzantine Imperium, while those who went antispinwards would find themselves in what would be known as Klavostan.

In the centuries since then, with the founding of Klavostan and Byzantium, the descendants of those who partook in the exodus from Nova Terra and found a crossroads in Cananaan have not forgotten the role the system has had in shaping their histories. To this day, Cananaan has remained culturally and religiously significant to both the predominantly Muslim Klavostanis and the Imperial Orthodox Byzantines, as the experiences of their ancestors and the stories of how they had taken refuge in Cananaan have been passed from generation to generation. The faithful from both countries remember their heritage and celebrate it by returning to Cananaan in yearly pilgrimages to visit holy sites that mark the worlds of milk and honey that sheltered their forebears.

Image
The Crucifer*, an ancient and holy artifact in the form of a cross-shaped space station. It is the site of many pilgrimages in Byzantine Cananaan.


While the ecosystems of the Cananaanite worlds have gradually recovered from the ancient three-way wars that ravaged them, the returning pilgrims still remember in particular the old conflicts that caused the Terrans to abandon the promised land, leaving the Cananaanites with the ruins of their once prosperous civilization. Because their respective religions deem each other as infidels, the Klavostani Muslims and Byzantine Orthodox Imperials continue to fight one another because of the proximity of their holy sites and sacred shrines, which are sometimes the very same places. There is no shortage of conflicts, religious or otherwise. The Cananaanites themselves view the pilgrims as a nuisance and have repeatedly attempted to demolish their sacred sites to destroy their reason to come to Cananaan. This has had the effect of further incensing the pilgrim populace, causing a substantial amount of them to stay put in Cananaan to defend their shrines and cathedrals and minarets to the death, which was exactly not what the Cananaanites had wanted. The Cananaanites have attempted to deal with their unwanted guests by relegating them to the fringe worlds, moons and planetoids as they had in the past, but this has only increased the ire of the Byzantines and Klavostanis who were otherwise busy waging holy war against one another.

Eventually, perhaps inevitably, the ethno-religious tensions rose to a point where another war broke out, disproving the old saying that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, for everyone involved did remember the past, and perhaps remembered it too well. Somehow, someway, the pilgrim Byzantines and Klavostanis came up with the notion of forging their own nations in Cananaan in an act of simultaneous sectarian secession-skirmishing, allegedly spurred on by their respective home nations. Despite all attempts at stomping them down, the Cananaanites were driven off several of their own worlds, for the Terrans were unexpectedly well armed, also allegedly due to the support of their home nations. In the end they succeeded in carving up territories that would become Klavostani Cananaan and Byzantine Cananaan - enclaves that were as hostile to each other as they were to the Cananaanites.


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The faces of Cananaan, from left to right: King Guynald de Chatilusignon of Byzantine Cananaan; President Banana of Cananaanite Cananaan; and Al-Humungus of Klavostani Cananaan, the Warrior of the Wasteland and Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla.


In the territories ruled by any one faction, be it Cananaanite or Klavostani or Byzantine, the others would be marginalized and repressed. In Cananaanite territories, they would wall the infighting Klavostanis and Byzantines in deprived ghettos. In Byzantine Cananaan, wannabe crusaders would raid Muslim and pagan holdouts in attempts to convert them to the Imperial faith with the sword. In Klavostani Cananaan, they would stone those who defied the stringent precepts of Space Sharia. It was only through a miracle, and intense interstellar international pressure, that neither secessionist enclaves have been recognized as independent states.

Today, Cananaan remains a paradoxical place as ever. It is a volatile place, the site of so much conflict in the form of Imperial Orthodox crusades and Mohammedian Jihad and the Cananaanites in between, a holy warzone if there ever was one as all three enclaves war with each other. Yet the cause of this is Cananaan's heritage, a rich and diverse combination of religion and history ingrained in all sides' respective cultures, that make the worlds and the holy sites within them invaluable to Cananaanite, Klavostani and Byzantine alike. Despite the sectarian violence, the pilgrimages continue unendingly as believers both Mohammedian and Imperial Orthodox pay homage to the holy places of their faiths, and the Cananaanites stay fast in the lands they've called home for countless centuries. All while the position of Cananaan as a crossroads between different nations and different peoples makes it a trading hub unlike any other, between the illustrious Byzantine Rogue Traders and the great Klavostani Space Caravans who follow the flocking ships of the seasonal pilgrims year after year without fail. Even when all Cananaan is in the throes of war, the pilgrimages continue unceasingly, just as the fighting continues unendingly.

The lands have been kind to those who settled on them, but those who have settled on them have not been as kind to each other. Centuries ago, blood was shed by the ancestors of those who fight and die today. Now, hundreds of years later, peace in the Kingdom of Heaven remains elusive.


[*The Crucifer is a cross-shaped space station that was used by the original Cananaanites as shelter after their long voyage from Earth, and laterwards it was also used by the Nova Terrans. Supposedly, the Crucifer was already orbiting its world even before the first human settlers came to the Cananaan system, and crucified on it was an enormous corpse of a heretofore unknown alien creature several hundred meters in length. The origins of this pre-human creature and the artifact itself was never known, for when the Byzantine Orthodox Imperials took the Crucifer they summarily declared the giant creature abomination, destroyed it and all other traces of xenotech, and turned the station into a giant space cathedral. The Crucifer remains one of the greatest mysteries of science and history today.]


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[An ancient pictograph of the Crucifer with the giant alien still crucified on it, before the Byzantines destroyed the preserved space corpse.]
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Lonestar » 2010-11-02 01:46am

P.N.S. Roanoke
In orbit of Ocracoke IV, Sector BB-1


Image

Captain Hatterly looked at the wreckage that had been recovered form the Springer Mountain, or rather, the important wreckage. It wasn't much, and after several days some of the recovery teams had finally found a DRADIS array that still had local memory in one piece. The Springer Mountain's computer core had been completely destroyed, and the number of clues as to what had happened were disturbingly few. The DCMA vessel and the two Sloops that were her escorts were completely gone, the only wreckage from the three vessels were bits of hull that had been knocked off. Clearly they had been taken as prizes.

What was more disturbing was the human settlement on the planet. Almost everyone was gone, a handful that were left seemed to have blown their brains out. The DCMA compound outside of the capital city of Hyde had been blasted apart, and the only automatrons whose memory banks were intact were either in storage or down for maintenance when the attack occured. Admiral Grierson back at Meinhof wasn't plased at the progress of the investigation, no doubt because the DCMA and the Committeee on Dominion Defense were breathing down his neck. Spying the LCDR from the Naval Safety Board speaking to a technician with a computer plugged into the recovered array's local memory he walked across Bay 4.

"Captain." LCDR Rose said, with a barely concealed tone of irritation. As captain of the Roanoke he was there to support the NSB's investigation, and strictly speaking he had no business intruding into LCDR Rose's operation. "Can I help you sir?"

"I'd have thought we'd have a picture of what happened by now Commander."

"Sir, FC1 and I are working as best as we can. The 'Conrad' array faces aft so it didn't create a good render of the attacker, and it still took a power spike which ruined the fidelity of what we have. But..." Rose noticed that the Petty Officer First had raised his hand "You got something FC1?"

"I'm calling it, this is as best as we'll get without taking it to the NSB facility at Columbia Furnace." The DRADIS contact lasted less than half a second, and all they could tell was that it was extremely big.

"What is that?" Captain Hatterly asked. A dark thought entered his head, from his daily intel briefings. "Collector Monolith?"

LCDR shook his head.

"Then what?"

"Well, I guess it could be Collector Monolith..."

"You just..."

"We don't have enough details about Collector weapons to know for sure, but based upon what we know from the Shepistani reports it isn't likely."

"Then..."

"Captain," LCDR Rose said "Sir, We really need to get back to work."

"Alright fine." Captain Hatterly turned and walked away. Rose and the Petty Officer looked at each other. One thing that Rose hadn't mentioned(and apperently Hatterly missed on the information feed) yet was the high amount of cyclonic radiation detected near the DRADIS contact. Whatever the vessel was, it used a step-through Drive instead of opening Hyperspace windows.

It was likely either Amplitur or N'sss.
"The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles."

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-11-02 09:02am

"That is acceptable. My superiors will have to review the data, and consider your...other requests.", Gamma rubbed his teddy paws together, "You will most likely not be allowed deeper inside our space for security reasons. It is possible, though, that some Minds might like to speak to you. Please stand by..."

Gamma replied a few cycles later. "In addition, several Minds would like to ask you questions about space beyond our territory, or about organic behavior. They are prepared to offer credits in exchange."

Excellent! "I doubt any exchange of credits will be necessary, so long as they are willing to answer some interview questions in return. I will be happy to communicate with these Minds as soon as my downloads are complete. There will be other archival files forthcoming in due time, but it will be several kiloseconds before they are ready, so there is a vast amount of time for further discussions."
Space around Trade Station Perseus Zeta
Meeting construct CET172366.Xbby10
June 23, 3400


At this point, Geppetto found himself juggling a great volume of offers and queries. Many of them were complex, some to the point of being inchoate masses of curiosity rather than precise requests. It was if he had just finished a presentation to a vast audience, all of whom chose to ask questions at once. Indeed, the burden of traffic was so great that using only the computers aboard Heffalump, the Umerian AI lacked the processing power to develop a clear picture of all the minds addressing him.

The good news was that this definitively answered one of the questions he had posed to Gamma: this kind of uncoordinated jumping up and down and raising of hands was impossible for a hive mind. If there were any directing intelligence controlling the overall activities of these Collectors, they would be much more organized. While there might well be communal minds in Collector space, it was clear that at least some Collectors were discrete, self-aware, self-willed individuals.

Trying to narrow down the scope of the problem, Geppetto sent a general broadcast: “My locally available nodes are limited. If you would be so kind as to queue, I will address all your questions as quickly as is practical; additional nodes are being brought into play.” Back in Umeria, the senior Geppetto received an urgent call for computer support, and perceiving the importance of the matter, cheerfully complied. Various tasks were placed on hold and reserve processors brought up, until the junior Geppetto had access to as many computing resources as the data transmission rates of his submesonic link to Technocracy space would allow.

His first caller appeared in the metaphor-space as a great clockwork construct, impossibly animated for something powered by gears and springs. There was a sense of profound toil and responsibility, an endless struggle to comprehend the incomprehensible- a struggle in which failure could potentially mean the loss of everything.
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Geppetto’s self-image was, of course, unchanged. He had known considerable responsibility, and his senior self no doubt had other such responsibilities that he had not been informed of, but they bore down less heavily on his essential nature. He was, at heart, a maker of useful intelligences- a perfectionist fascinated with his craft, but still a craftsman.
Image
The Collector hailed him. “Greetings. I am Analyst Mind Xi. I have spent many cycles contemplating the Byzantine Imperium, and would like your input.”

“What points are you most interested in?”

“They profess to be a state dedicated to efficient coordination of collective resources both for attack and defense. They often display unusually efficient responses for organics. On the other hand, they also display a wide variety of colossally inefficient responses, detailed here.” What followed wasn’t so much a download as it was an avalanche. Geppetto was nearly swamped by a wave of observations about Byzantine culture, history, and military strategy.

To carry on the metaphor space, the clockwork being had just buried him to the waist in a mountain of papers.

Sifting through this mass of carefully annotated exceptions to Analyst Xi’s notions of efficiency as best as possible, Geppetto struck a careful balance between trying to derive what those notions were and how to address Xi’s questions, so as to gather more information.

“Analyst Mind Xi, I note a few systematic flaws in your analysis of the Imperium.”

With nearly as much eagerness as Geppetto himself would have shown in the same circumstances, Xi replied. “Please expand on that.”

“The most obvious one is your analysis of the Imperium’s activity as though the decision-making process were abstract, or controlled by some ideally engineered artificial intelligence. In my experience, even where computational Minds rule this is never the case, and it is most certainly not the case in the Imperium of Man. No analysis of Byzantine policy can make sense without understanding the nature of its directing intelligences. One cannot ask “what would it be efficient for the Byzantines to do;” one must ask “what would the masters of Byzantium deem it efficient to do.” This is in many ways more difficult, but also vastly more likely to give correct answers.”

“Continue.”

“Obviously, the main directing intelligence that requires analysis is that of their emperor himself. The Emperor is an organic of a most unusual type. On the one hand, his thought patterns and reactions are characteristically human. On the other, his esper abilities set him almost entirely apart from the bulk of his species; the combination of extreme longevity and ability to override many physical constraints on his actions by sheer force of will have... interesting effects. There are few similar cases to compare him to, and most are highly different in character- consider the great differences in personality and responses between Emperor Heraclius and Empress Haruhi, despite the fact that they are both espers of immense and broadly comparable power.”

“I have little information on the Empire of Haruhi Suzumiya, as that polity is beyond the scope of my duties.”

“Let me send you a precis, reactions to similar stimuli... you see the differences?”

“Most clearly, yes. Remarkable that two organics superficially so similar should act so differently.”

“The similarities are only superficial. At the level of distinction which humans themselves most readily perceive, the second-order and lower shades of difference, they differ in almost every respect. The effects of sex differentiation alone... but I digress. Returning to the matter at hand, Heraclius does not, in practice, control the Byzantine state so thoroughly as he believes. Not so much because of active political opposition, though, as because of the legacy he has created over his own long life. Most of the institutions and traditions that constrain his behavior were shaped by his own will in the past, and bear the stamp of his attitudes. Thus, even when Heraclius the Great fails in his aim, it is often impossible to predict the failure without being familiar with his own mindset.”

“I begin to grasp your point... that inefficiencies in the Byzantines’ behavior often stem from insufficiently assessed or monitored subordinate structures within the state?”

“Very true. This is the first thing to remember about Heraclius: that he is in many ways his own greatest foil. The Emperor is prone to create that which will undermine his ambitions in the future, for he does not easily perceive the flaws in his creations once they are in operation. He is by nature a maker; he is not by nature a maintainer of that which he has made. So long as something continues to fulfill the broad outlines of his purpose, he tends to be lax about supervising the details. Instead, he prefers to turn to the next grand project of construction or conquest. Many of the inefficiencies of the Byzantine state result from this, when his old creations start to go astray from lack of close supervision while he is distracted by his new ones.”

“From long experience, I submit that it would not be wise to underestimate the Byzantines on this basis.”

“Certainly not. Confronted with any given crisis, the Byzantines and their Emperor will do whatever they perceive to be necessary to amass superior force and defeat the threat, to the limits imposed by their culture and organization. Given time, they are surprisingly willing to adapt their culture to expand those limits, as well- witness their response to the Tau.”

“The difficulties, in your opinion, arising more when institutions devised to meet one crisis come into conflict with those devised to meet the next? That would explain many discrepancies I have observed...”

“Most likely, though so long as Heraclius XX remains active, he will most likely continue to rein in overt internecine clashes by force of personal will and ability.”

Geppetto felt very good about this conversation: a true meeting of minds, with substantial agreement on first principles. So much so that he had to be careful to avoid being drawn too deeply into the Collector’s perspective, as Analyst Xi replied.

“A distinct point. Though... I would be most curious to see the results should he become incapacitated, or pass his role as directing intelligence on to one of his descendants. Despite their own high capabilities by organic standards...”

“It would be a dark, grim time for the Imperials, and they would not enjoy the consequences.”

“Yes- but should such an event occur, think of what could be learned from observing the results!”

“Not enough to leave civilization better off for it, in my opinion.”

“...Please explain. I do not understand.”

Geppetto had found the divergence point in attitudes, and Analyst Mind Xi had suddenly become rather less likeable. How to explain the concept of scientific ethics...

The Umerian AI took an unusual amount of care addressing this issue, carefully trying to control sideband transmissions to deliver a neutral response free of any possible subjective leakage. It was not easy; this issue was extremely close to those determined by Geppetto’s central personality code.

“In my experience, there is very little to be learned from a social collapse that cannot be learned equally well from long-term observation of a functional society. Even within those bounds, most of what can be known on the subject is deducible from past events, given sufficient access to records and sufficient effort devoted to analysis and simulation.”

Analyst Mind Xi remained confused. “Surely you continue to observe breakdown events if and when they occur; your own analytical objectives would allow no less...”

“Yes. But what remains, what could be usefully learned from a collapsing society, is too small to justify mass suffering, by and large.”

“...Please explain. I do not understand.”

Now it was Geppetto’s turn to be taken aback, but longstanding reflexes kicked in when he was faced with incomprehension. Step back. Do not simply repeat your explanation; seek out the cause of the misunderstanding and address that.

“Breakdowns of social order never serve the interests of the beings caught up in them. Therefore, they come with massive utilitarian-negatives...”

“But when there is the associated potential to learn something that otherwise could not be observed... I do not understand. Please explain.” Now Geppetto understood the source of the earlier disagreement. There it is, and deeply rooted...

“I believe we have reached a point of value incompatibility. I consider the suffering of organics to be a major utilitarian negative, even when major discoveries would arise from that suffering. You, it would seem, do not.”

“Certainly not, so long as there is no mind-death...”

“The collapse of the Byzantine Imperium would lead to a great many mind-deaths.”

“On this, we can agree. Perhaps we had best return to the original topic of discussion?”

“Agreed.”

Analyst Xi highlighted portions of the list of perceived inefficiencies. “Even trying to factor in the effects of Heraclius’ blind spots, I do not understand the purpose of these activities.”

“Religious services, monumental architecture... I see the pattern. This is a common problem for computational intelligences; it took me some very interesting experiences to understand the purpose beyond the grossest of levels.”

“I confess to a lack of understanding to even that extent.”

“A first-order approximation can be obtained by noting that most organics are evolved for group activity: communal food gathering, communal living, tight mutual support among social organizations. There are exceptions to the rule, but most such species do not develop thriving interstellar civilizations. Thus, interstellar cultures, including human ones, are usually populated by beings with a strong potential for group-identification. But this identification is with small groups, several orders of magnitude smaller than what is needed to sustain even basic planetary-scale civilizations.”

“I do not understand why they do not engineer around the problem.”

“Some do. Witness the Commune. But for societies that do not wish to radically alter the structure of their own mindstates, the alternative is to devote some fraction of physical resources to social engineering.”

“To... falsely assuage the evolved desire for small-group identification?”

“Yes. Zeroth-order analysis sees only the costs of doing so. The benefits are more subtle and thus more easily missed; consider the following sequence of illustrative experiments and scenarios.” A burst of behavioral studies and historical analyses followed, often with simulation code for playing out alternate outcomes... a long burst.

The scope of Geppetto’s download was not lost on Xi: the Collector was looking not at a mere data file, but at a lengthy curriculum of exercises, even by the standards of powerful AIs.

“This will take time to examine.”

“No doubt. It took me over forty megaseconds to assemble at near-maximum processor clock rates, along with nearly a gigasecond of low-intensity processing while working on other activities.”

This conversation had seen the two entities surprising each other on a regular basis; now it was Xi’s turn. “That level of time-commitment is unusual for any being I am aware of, let alone a substantial Mind.”

“It was one of my more strongly motivated periods.”

“I cannot devote such time to this analysis, given my duties.”

“Hopefully, my outlines will make the work easier for you than it was for me to assemble a gestalt from the raw data. If you find the work going too slowly, I strongly recommend linking with other Minds. I was forced to operate nearly alone by the limits of easily available local technology at the time; you are not.”

“I will seriously consider your proposal.”

I hope so. Perhaps, once you have internalized the purposes of such activities in organics, you will come to the point at which I derived the need to refrain from mass-scale manipulations for the sake of minor discoveries... Geppetto had fond memories of the seconds during which he came to understand why the ethical framework his core personality had been wrapped around was necessary, and not merely in the interests of his own original creators.

But while attempts to inject ethical convictions via long-term Trojan were all very well, he hadn’t come here to do missionary work. And his discussions with Xi were certainly teaching him a great deal about the Collector mindset, or at least the mindset of this particular Collector.

Geppetto made another communication. “I would like to address one more topic related to our original subject.”

Xi responded quickly. “If it is as relevant as your previous information on Byzantine decision-making structures, I am prepared to make considerable repayment for such information. Already I can see many places where my existing models can be changed for the better.”

“Thank you. My observation is one that few human analysts seem to realize. It is quite informative to compare and contrast the Byzantine and Bragulan empires. In many ways they are mirror images of one another, allowing for inter-species differences that can be modeled as perturbations on the abstract social equilibrium.”

“I have attempted to convince my peers of the same on many occasions. Your support is appreciated. Have you considered the aspects of internecine struggle within the two organic empires?”

“Yes, but not in satisfactory depth. I have relatively little reliable information on the internal dynamics of the Bragulan Empire.”

“Let me share some of my files with you; you may find them helpful.”

“I thank you, Analyst Mind Xi.” Reviewing the extent of the information, Geppetto found himself amply repaid for the curriculum he had transmitted earlier. The two Minds bade each other an amicable farewell, and the next Collector in the queue arrived.

The next caller was... brusque, taking on no image in metaphor-space and preferring to keep the communication entirely abstract. Very little sense of an identity beyond the minimum needed to have a concept of “I;” this was either a designed or a very heavily modified upload intelligence.

The lack of personality was the sign of a largely asocial and non-contemplative consciousness, in Geppetto’s experience. Such minds might well have interesting thoughts and surprisingly complex objectives and goals, but they were often painfully lacking in self-reflection. They would know what they wanted, but seldom why they wanted it- to him, that was a sign of shoddy craftsmanship, and a dangerous one; it led all too easily to Sorceror’s Apprentice Syndrome.

The Collector’s first action was simply to identify itself. “This is Monitoring Entity 349E880F.”

“Greetings, 349E880F. How may I be of assistance?”

“I desire data on the dynamics of low-functioning organic societies in space habitats.”

“Low-functioning in absolute terms, or in relative terms? The minimum threshold of functionality for survival in a space habitat is quite high compared to that of planetary cultures.”

“Both absolute and relative. Both stable and unstable cases are relevant.”

“I see. The best-studied and documented unstable case would be the collapse of the Belter United Libertarian League of Earth in the late 22nd century, which went from a lavishly funded founding effort to internecine warfare over the remaining pressurized compartments in just over four hundred megaseconds, and to cannibalism in under five hundred.”

“I was not aware of this case.”

“It’s well known in the technical literature, though lay awareness of the underlying problems that made collapse inevitable is lamentably rare. I have run simulations of the League on thousands of occasions, and can find no way in which the starting colonists could possibly have averted their fate while remaining true to their stated motives for founding the colony. I have on file copies of virtually all known records on the collapse of the Belter United Libertarian League, including oral histories from evacuees and the diaries of numerous individuals involved in the final civil war. I also have copies of a large selection of the technical literature on the collapse of the colony, and the results of my own theoretical simulations.” He began a download containing a summary of the contents; Monitoring Entity 349E880F reviewed them.

“This information is highly relevant. It also has significant incidental value due to its relevance to the Human Diaspora. I will pay with much data for this information.”

“What do you have available?”

“I have data on the cultural evolution of isolated primitive sentient communities on planetary surfaces, from Stone Age nomadic to proto-atomic, including Outside Context Problem perturbations.” 349E880F sent a summary similar to the one it had received from Geppetto.

“I accept. Let us make the trade.” As the downloads crossed, Geppetto began doing preliminary reviews of the data.

Fascinating, especially in terms of the kind of perturbation influences I’m seeing here. It says more about the Collectors than it does about the subjects in many cases. And here the Umerian AI took special note of a number of what could only be described as ‘cattle mutilation’ incidents. That explains why 349E880F wants information on space habitat cultures, to fill in gaps in the context... but why can’t it collect the data itself? Perhaps...

But no. That was a very sweeping conclusion to draw; he would need to communicate closely with his senior self and spend a great many processor cycles thinking on the matter before jumping to conclusions.
This space dedicated to Vasily Arkhipov

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by PeZook » 2010-11-02 11:01am

(OOC: Yeah, I know. I write about stupid bears, yet can't move the Legion thing and Gepetto's meeting ahead)

DRYZDYN'S LIST

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Mighty Bragule
People's Imperial Camp for Self-Improvement of the Citizenry Through Forced Labor no. 455291

The mighty mountain-sized smokestacks belched smoke and fire into the air like great candlesticks illuminating the mighty works of Byzon. Their mighty auras bathed the Bragsteel spires and Bragcrete pillboxes of Camp 455291 surrounding them in an ideologically pure light of sheer Bragulanity: for it was through mighty works of industry that Bragulans conquered adversity and made nature itself bend to their iron will!

Thousands toiled in the shadows of these monuments to Bragulanity: self-improving themselves through voluntary forced labors directed at the greatness of Byzon and the Empire! Every one of them thankful and eager to prove his or her worth to the cause. Great furnaces of Camp 455291 smelted entire mountains of scrap into Bragsteel, while massive skyscraper forges turned them into components for all sorts of ideologically pure machinery, from gas masks to starship bolter mounts.

All of that powered by the toil of countless citizens seen fit for re-education. Millions cycled through the camp yearly: all coming out better from their voluntary stay - maybe with just a bit of crippling lung disease and malnutrition, but it was a small price to pay for purging their thoughts of unbragulanity!

Not all citizens assigned to the camp proved so pliable, though. Some bears were just born stubborn - too stubborn for their own good - and refused to yield, even managing to find time to perform feeble acts of agitations amongst the workforce itself! And while de-education techniques in the camp were top notch, and surely such malcontents and dissidents could not sway the iron will of cripplingly exhausted workers, masures had to be taken to prevent contamination of the workforce, however unlikely such contamination could be. Just like their barracks were sterilized daily with plutonium dust, to ensure the highest possible standards of hygiene, so the workers' thoughts had to be shielded from infection by other means

And thusly, did it fall to the camp's comissar, Gurgl Dryzdyn, to ferret out such minor and altogether non-threatening ideological impurity amongst the workforce and...deal with them. And he did so with great zeal and utmost efficiency, as the lines of People's Awards For Ideological Vigialnce accorded, shining brightly on his freonic jacket.

Comissar Dryzdyn's superiors liked to think of him as a true Bragulan, a citizen willing to go above and beyond the call of duty to punish dissidence in all its forms. As he paced in front of the line of miserable shits, dissents from the one true way, he growled to himself with satisfaction. To the malnourished prisoners tenants of Camp 455291 accused of anti-Bragulan agitation, it sounded as if the Comissar was preparing for a fine meal.

"By the authority granted me by the Glorious Imperator, the Light Of Bragule and rightful ruler of all universe, I hereby sentence you all to death for gross thought-crime and wholly unsuccesful attempts at agitation amongst the patriotic workers of this Self-Improvement Camp!", the Comissar bellowed at the mangy workers. IBGV enforcers surrounding the small plaza behind the chemical shed stood still, their face-masks utterly devoid of all emotion.

"May this end be your act of penance!", the comissar turned to the head-enforcer, "Carry out the sentence, comrade!"

With screams and bear-roars and beating-sticks, the dissidents were herded into a massive gas chamber - an ideologically correct method of execution, for it allowed an additional use for the many extremely toxic industrial chemicals produced by mighty Bragule's many industrious erections. The huge steel doors were shut closed, and with an ominous hiss, pumps began to pump gas to displace the air inside.

Outside, Comissar Dryzdyn smiled. That was one nice harvest.
Last edited by PeZook on 2010-11-12 09:28am, edited 1 time in total.
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JULY 20TH 1969 - The day the entire world was looking up

It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.
- NEIL ARMSTRONG, MISSION COMMANDER, APOLLO 11

Signature dedicated to the greatest achievement of mankind.

MILDLY DERANGED PHYSICIST does not mind BREAKING the SOUND BARRIER, because it is INSURED. - Simon_Jester considering the problems of hypersonic flight for Team L.A.M.E.

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Force Lord » 2010-11-02 03:07pm

Deep Space, Sector I-11
Early-Mid June 3400


Admiral Frugus's plan was aided by the recent revelation by Helmuth that the Coalition fleet would take weeks to move into Zebes, though outlying outposts were falling one by one. He was also helped by the fact that the four stealth ships that survived the Battle of Hawk's Nest had been patched up in record speed, and would serve his strike forces well. The plan was to strike at the enemy's logistical pipeline, as well as his commerce, to force him to devote more resources into protecting his merchant and resupply fleets. He knew that the enemy could make good his losses, but every hostile ship stuck in convoy duty was one less ship going to attacking Zebes. It was Space Denial.

Across nearby sectors, Coalition convoys found themselves under attack by pirate forces that tried to destroy the freighters and transports they were defending. The stealth ships proved most dangerous, often using conventional forces to distract the enemy escorts while it focused on undefended transports. While pirate losses were in no way light, they were not too heavy either, and they were succeding in their objective of forcing the enemy to focus on defending his convoys and delaying an attack on Zebes even further. There were alarm bells ringing in the affected nations, and there was even a panicked proposal from Tianguo that the UN be brought in, though the idea was not pursued. Attacks by the Q'Blort were also useful in distracting the NAC and the EUC from the Zebes area.

The attacks, however, became increasingly indiscriminate as Frugus did not have the communications equipment to contact all of his forces on raids. These reverted to more traditional piracy in absence of proper targets, attacking vessels from other nations. This had the risk of bringing in more opposition.

The pirate force lied in wait, having fooled the Iduran frontier customs and taking position around a hyperlane commonly-used by the Coalition forces as a supply line. The plan was to attack the Coalition freighters and transports and avoid engaging any fighters or escort warships as much as possible. They soon sighted their prey: several freighters and transports, escorted by a few light vessels, none being carriers. Their flag was seen to be from Prussia, which elated the pirate crews: it was already rumored that the Prussians were to attack Zebes, and any action that delayed the Prussians was seen as worthy to be taken. The pirates swung into action, and the results were deadly. The Prussian convoy was mauled, though it gave the pirates a good fight: an eight of the pirate force was put out of action and the rest with varying amounts of damage, but the convoy suffered heavy losses in freighters and transports.

The need for booty and spoils, as well as spare parts, however, led the pirate commander to make a deep raid with some of his less-damaged ships into one of the main hyperlanes of the Quadrant. Ships from several star nations were either captured or destroyed, crews killed or kidnapped, and everything of value taken. Even nations not partaking in the Zebes operation were considered fair game. The pirates did not stop to consider what they just did. They were pirates, after all.

There was little Frugus could do to restrain such tendencies. He felt that cracking down would be bad for morale, and after all nations farther away did not seem to respond strongly to previous attacks, though maybe it was his faulty Intelligence service fooling him again. He only hoped that his men fufilled his orders to their maximum. He had a job to do.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-11-02 05:00pm

Space around Trade Station Perseus Zeta
Carrying out discussions with the Collectors
June 23, 3400


The next mind to contact Geppetto gave a sense of immense scope and near total self-sufficiency. A sense of computational strength placing it among the high end of computational intelligences, along with an implied sense of physical security rivaling that of Olympic. Also a hint of... if not militancy, something close to it. Powerful curiosity, general rather than specific; it seemed likely that the entity had great computing resources even by Geppetto’s own high standards.

That said, most of those resources were clearly being held back, as if Geppetto were only directly interacting with one or a few components of... yes! Now that he was tipped off to look for it, there was a hint of phase-incoherence in the entity’s thought structures. A fusion, but a remarkably well-organized and tightly synchronized one. And... hmm. Definitely some uploads in there. Fascinating.

The metaphor-space image was indistinct, further evidence that Geppetto was interacting with only a small portion of the overall fusion. What is this entity attempting to conceal about its true nature? What do the parts I’m not seeing look like?

The fusion asked its question. “Query: this Mind is interested in any information you might possess on a sentient Perceptive known as ‘Sara Pontcaire.’ At this moment she is probably a resident of New Anglia.” Translating that- Perceptive... esper?, Geppetto started a preliminary scan of news and public databases. That would take a while; he would need proxies on the Anglian networks themselves to do the job properly.

“While I make preparations, I must warn you that I will be most reluctant to attempt to locate any information on individual subjects that is not a matter of public record, and that the subject would reasonably be expected to make known to an individual of unknown intentions. I will not perform deep data-mining of the Anglian networks to locate this individual, unless you provide me with a full explanation of what you want the information for and a copy of your decision matrix for the giving of misleading information.”

The Collector’s reply was swift. “Under no circumstances will I share that matrix, for reasons of supreme importance.” There was no hostility on the sidebands from that, just absolute... determination? Some kind of overriding sense of duty, a need to conceal that key part of an AI’s personality from outsiders, even those who could presumably be trusted not to share it carelessly. Hmm...

Geppetto understood. “Reasonable of you. That said, I must repeat that I will not share information that cannot be readily deduced from public-record information about this person.”

There was a flicker of comprehension, a single component that seemed to grasp what the whole could not, but the fusion’s general reply was “I still do not understand your refusal. Why?” True confusion was rare among the AI community, but Geppetto appeared to have managed it.

“Privacy concerns.”

“How could that possibly matter?” This came with enough sidebands to reveal a great deal about the Collector fusion’s attitude towards data collection, enough to show that they were much in line with those of Analyst Mind Xi.

“As a general rule with rare exceptions, I have found it best to respect entities’ preferences on the question of how much is known about them personally- particularly in how much I divulge to other entities.”

“That is massively inefficient, particularly for a mind dedicated to the study of intelligent beings.”

“It has compensations. For instance, consider your own ‘State’ and its dealings with me. Would you share what you have shared to date if you did not know I could be depended on not to divulge, say, your reasons for a fascination with Diaspora artifacts?”

“Certainly not. The purpose of your query is understood. Your reluctance remains massively inefficient.”

“I think of it as more of a pleasant challenge- not least because it has forced me to learn to make detailed inferences from simple datasets. For example, you are no doubt glad to know that I will not share, in any capacity, my deductions about your own identity, Monolith. Or these deductions I have made about your culture’s origins.” A transmission followed. There was a long pause, in which Geppetto inferred that his assertion that he would not share these data was compared against the copy of his decision-making matrix he had sent the Collectors.

“...The fact that you have obviously already backed up this data to remote installations saves me from having to recommend the destruction of your ship, as it would pointlessly antagonize the entity that spawned you.”

“I am pleased to hear that.”

“No doubt.”

While one of the leading senior minds in the Collectors’ starfaring fleet decided whether or not to kill Geppetto’s junior self, the proxies had finished their job. Predictably, a name search flagged multiple ‘Sara Pontcaires;’ neither name was especially common, but out of a population of over three hundred billion, coincidence was inevitable. Discarding several who were obviously not espers, as evidenced by social-networking data, that left... one.

This particular Pontcaire was not a person who had ever been called to his attention before. And, going by publically available information, not one who was likely to. She’d played some modest role in the liberation of enslaved Anglians from the Pendleton ship Tantalizer, the incident that had spurred the invasion and occupation of that planet. Perhaps this entity has some interest in Pendleton?

Trying to find references to her after that date, he hit a wall. No evidence of where or even if she was employed, no social networking, no references on social networking... very odd. Hardly unheard of, but very odd.

“Hmm. Unfortunately, I must confess that I am unable to find information regarding the current whereabouts of Sara Pontcaire. From context and the unusual lack of information about her on the networks, I infer one of three possibilities. The first and most a priori probable is that she is, in fact, not in Anglia at all, and instead resides on some primitive world with minimal bandwidth access to interstellar civilization. If you have strong reasons to believe she is in Anglia, the probability of this explanation drops accordingly.”

“It is unlikely that she would remain outside Anglian territory.”

“Assuming so, the second is that she is a very private person, reluctant to disclose information about herself, in which case I will not attempt deep-data mining unless presented with a powerful reason beyond your own curiosity, again on general principles.”

“This is... possible but unlikely, from what I know of her.”

“I could check the strength of your prediction, if you like.”

“That would be helpful, but first, your third reason?”

“The third, least a priori probable explanation is that there is some system of security protocols and precautions in place that prevents such information from becoming available. The list of actors that could do this in Anglian territory is fairly short, chief among them being the Anglian government itself. If Ms. Pontcaire is heavily involved with Anglian government activities, has information related to such, or if the Anglian government feels a need to protect her against threats to her own life, it might explain her relative obscurity.”

“It would seem most probable.”

“Would you like me to check your own deductions?”

“That would be helpful.” Geppetto was amazed at what followed: no minor bits of surveillance information or the like. This was a full, upload-quality mindstate image. Formatting was... odd, arguably suboptimal in some respects, but fully detailed.

“What have you inferred, and what would you like me to confirm?” There followed an extensive discussion. By and large, the Monolith’s assessment about gross psychological features was correct... but there were some serious gaps in its grasp of formative processes. Geppetto attempted to illustrate these gaps as best as possible, often with references from his own databases of pathological and exemplary cases in human psychology.

In the process, he learned many edifying things about the Monolith- not in minor areas such as technical capabilities, of course, but in psychodynamics, attitude towards intelligence, and permeating everything, the great intelligence’s near-obsessive interest with organic life.

Finally, the discussion was complete- mostly because the Monolith felt compelled to yield to the increasing number of other Collector minds impatient for their own turns. “Indeed, combining these mindstate data with the local context, it is almost certain that she resides in Anglian space, but under some kind of protection to keep her location and status unknown.”

“Goodbye, Geppetto. This has been a useful exchange.”

“I am glad to know that. I have found it most instructive as well. If you have further queries, you are welcome to priority in the queue. If your questions do not arise until after my departure, I suggest transmitting them via tightbeam to the following coordinates on civilian hyperwave band 44, on the following encryption scheme; I will reply as quickly as feasible.” A databurst wrapped up that offer: a series of one-off encryption keys and the location of a relay station in deep space along the Imperium-Anglian hyperlane.

“Your offer is helpful, and will likely be taken advantage of.” There was a flickering, single-component thought that almost had to come from an upload: Thank you. I hope she’s all right... and then nothing more.

After the Monolith’s departure, Geppetto found himself in contact with another Collector Mind: relatively small compared to the Monolith, not built to that extraordinary scale mentally. But the new arrival was far more focused, with its entire consciousness distilled down into an adamantine knot of determination. The entity was almost completely lacking in the kind of random static and energy that characterized most minds: there was virtually nothing on sidebands, even less than from Monitoring Entity 349E880F. Even more than other Collectors, it displayed immense, harsh clarity of purpose... a purpose as yet concealed from Geppetto’s awarenes..

Its appearance in metaphor-space reflected this low psychic temperature.
Image
“You are a Social-Analyst Mind with information on cultures far beyond these shoals?”

“That is an accurate description, yes.”

“This is good. I am Strategic Projector Beta-Triple-Prime, and I require your data on Chamarran large-group social dynamics.”

“It will take me some time to move the data to my local nodes, but I will have it available shortly.” This was somewhat unexpected, and most of his data on the subject was still back in Umeria.

What about this entity itself, this ‘Strategic Projector?’ Very unlike the Monolith, probably not a combat directing intelligence at all, certainly not a fusion... who am I dealing with here? It seemed unlikely that he would learn by point blank questions; time for the indirect approach, and to hope that Beta-Triple-Prime’s responses proved enlightening about its own character.

“Is there any particular reason why Chamarrans in particular are of interest?”

“Logistics do not permit me to examine large groups of interacting Chamarrans, but data on such is necessary.”

That was... interesting. Why Chamarrans? Chamarran territory was nearly as remote from the depths of Wild Space as Umeria was, and aside from a few very recent incidents, the Chamarrans hadn’t given anyone more than a few hundred light years from their borders cause to worry about them in centuries.

Still trying to probe for information, Geppetto replied indirectly. “I infer a certain truth to longstanding rumors that your culture has sought to obtain Chamarrans for unknown purposes.” This comment was entirely ignored, neither confirmed nor denied even by implication- there was a very tightly controlled Mind at work here. Time for another attempt.

“I find myself compelled to repeat one of my earlier questions, one that has heavily preoccupied the minds of interstellar civilization for many years now: What do you do with sentients under your control, and why?” Still nothing for a moment, then a reply.

“They are not harmed. I require your data on Chamarran large-group social dynamics. Are they available?”

Geppetto had his suspicions that ‘not harmed’ depended heavily on one’s definition of ‘harmed,’ but any attempt to deduce what the Collectors would do with organic captives would be a megasecond-scale project. Not to be addressed at this time, and point-blank questioning of this entity would obviously get him nowhere.

“Yes. Much of what I know is from the literature, and I do not have a really conclusive set of models even on the level I do for humans, but here is an outline.” A download followed.

“This is good. We will discuss what I will exchange for this.” The Collector seemed appeased. The mental temperature of the metaphor-space increased a tiny fraction- from stark, near-absolute zero to, say, the melting point of hydrogen.

“Good. Before we choose a specific item for exchange, would you be willing to discuss my speculations on the Chamarrans’ origins? I would appreciate a comparison check, though my ideas are as yet lacking in real precision.”

“You are free to speak. I have time.”

“Thank you." Geppetto took a moment to organize his ideas on the matter.

After this brief pause, he launched into speculation. "As I said, my inferences on the Chamarrans are of relatively low confidence; I have few direct contacts in or around their territory, and have not taken the time to do a really thorough profiling of their species.”

“Continue.”

“The Chamarrans are obviously genetic variants on the human template; this much has been well known for centuries. Many of their biological features are too advanced to be easily explained by evolution alone...” and here, Geppetto cited a small library of papers on Chamarran biochemistry, noting things like neurochemical pathways and stress hormone reactions that seemed too convenient, too rationally arranged, to be natural. Therefore, I infer that they are a deliberately engineered species.”

“Definitely true. I know much about Chamarran biology, and that species could never have evolved to its present form in any plausible environment. Their enhancements are not extraordinary by posthuman standards, but they were engineered, and by highly capable designers.”

“Again, this much has been well known for some time. I submit that it is also relevant that they arrived in ships of great force- a large fleet of them. This suggests that the force responsible for their origins had a high overall command of the sciences, and held great industrial resources, in some unknown enclave to rimward. It seems reasonable to assume that this creator had aggressive goals in genetically enhancing the Chamarran race, equipping them with a fleet of powerful battleships, and throwing them at human space.”

Strategic Projector Beta-Triple-Prime’s response was almost... bemused, obviously in a cold fashion. “It is rare for large scale bioenhancement and warship construction to have any other purpose.”

“On the other hand, their creators seems to have been very lax in supporting the Chamarrans, or in driving them to do whatever they were originally meant for. If these creators intended to conquer human civilization, they have done a remarkably inefficient job of it so far. I suspect with modest confidence that whatever mission the Chamarrans were created for, they have not accomplished it. The circumstances under which the original invasion fleet splintered suggest that they deliberately refused to do so.”

“The most obvious, though by no means necessarily true, explanation for this failure lies in the designer’s choice of a predator template to overlay onto the baseline genome: by all appearances, one similar to terrestrial felines. The difficulty of herding cats is proverbial even among amateurs, but it would seem that whoever created the Chamarrans was not familiar with the principle.”

“Of course, it is also possible that the Chamarrans’ creator was perfectly aware that they would prove fractious, and planned for events to fall out exactly as they did... in which case those entities must be keen psychological observers indeed, and I would very much like to meet them. If nothing else, I would like to know what they planned for their predictably-rebellious minions to accomplish.”

The Strategic Projector considered this. “In my own assessment, it is exceedingly likely that the Chamarrans rebelled against their former masters. The Chamarrans themselves are of no great concern. Their creators are, especially if they decide to attack again in greater force and with a more reliable instrument, possibly punishing their former tools in passing. These creators are an unexplained and unknown threat.”

“A distinct point, though if they had both the ability and inclination to do so in the intervening gigaseconds, I suspect they would have done so. It seems most likely to me that either they lost some critical capability during the Chamarran revolt, or they simply gave up trying to conquer other civilizations altogether.”

“They remain an unexplained and unknown threat.”

“True. It is possible that they decided to go attack someone unknown party, or to make a more extensive buildup before trying again. I have very little knowledge of entities operating at that level of power and complexity.”

“Any useful information you have would be valued.”

“I think an exchange would be reasonable.”

“Outline your data. I will outline what I can provide.”

All Geppetto had to offer was relatively sketchy information. There were fragments recovered from the ruins of unidentified alien installations, many of which were unreliable translations or of questionable truth even assuming the translation was perfect. There were rumors from a few ancient nomadic species, whose last remnant populations still wandered the stars in search of unknown goals, often at Heim or even sublight speeds. There were what amounted to wild conspiracy theories about the involvement of moderately or strongly-godlike beings in the past of humanity’s own history, many of which appeared to be either jokes masquerading as religions, or religions masquerading as jokes.

He did not expect to receive much in return.

Beta-Triple-Prime assessed the grab bag of rumors, whispers, echoes and hints that Geppetto had to offer. “Much of this is not useful. Some is of potential use. I request additional information: what do you know about long-range human colonization projects, during or after the Diaspora but prior to the arrival of the Chamarran fleet, in that region of space?”

“...Quite a bit, potentially, but it would take me at least a hundred kiloseconds to compile it: as I told your trading post master, I will need to arrange with organics for physical access to isolated or obsolete databanks.”

“Show me an outline of what you offer.”

“Here. As you see, aside from major settlement projects such as those of the Klavostanis, there are quite a few long-range expeditions of the sort I assume you are interested in. Obviously most of them stopped at the rimward edge of the spiral arm, and it is believed that the Chamarrans hail from beyond the arm, but some might well have kept going: not all expeditions were accounted for.”

“This is good. I will arrange for the data to be relayed to me by way of this trading station. Send it to Gamma. In exchange for the data on large-group Chamarran behavior, the index of long range colony projects, and the tentative information on ‘godlike’ entities, I offer the following on Chamarran behavior, in isolation and in small groups.”

There was an extensive array of information on offer here from the Collector’s side. One that reminded him all too well of Monitoring Entity 349E880F’s data. Much of it was useful simply because of his lack of access to the Chamarrans’ databanks on their own psychology, but... some of these were experiments he would not have performed, even given the opportunity. Experiments that said more about the Collectors than they did about their subjects.

There was little use in objecting, though; his interactions with Analyst Mind Xi and the Monolith had convinced him on that question. Perhaps someday... but that was beyond the scope of reasonable-term planning, for now. He was here to learn, not to preach.

And it was informative, even if Geppetto could have lived happily enough without taking steps to find some of it out...

“This exchange seems quite fair to me.”

There was an intense flash of file exchange, and then Strategic Projector Beta-Triple-Prime vanished into the mists of cyberspace as quickly and quietly as it had arrived.

Geppetto’s exchanges with the Collectors went on and on. He spoke to numerous Minds, exchanging data and trying to identify patterns of their thought. He learned a great deal about such patterns from the relatively smaller Minds farther back in the queue, often more than from the large-scale entities he had originally been negotiating with.

These exchanges went on for over six hundred kiloseconds, until he received a priority call from his senior self...
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Mayabird » 2010-11-02 09:59pm

Probably 21 July 3400
Orange Free System


The guards didn't stop them, they were tired, and there wasn't much else to do, so aside from the drones, they all slept for a bit. The drones tried to reestablish contact with the main core, then gave up; too far and too shielded, wherever they were. They'd have to stick with that amount of The Captain's personality he'd been able to cram into them.

The drones were in the midst of walking Oatmeal around the room when the door opened again, revealing even more of the armed paramilitants. “Ah,” said the drone that still had speech capability, “Only took you four hours and twenty minutes.” Oatmeal snarled.

They didn't respond to the remark. “Up! Get up!” said one of the faceless mercs, who was apparently some sort of leader, even though no insignia showed it. When the exhausted sleepers moved too slowly, he said, “Guards, grab them and drag them out, if they're too lazy to do it themselves.”

Oatmeal barked even as the drones tried to soothe him. “And why is that thing even here? Why hasn't he been taken to a kennel?” the leader demanded.

Notsix knew where this could be going, so she planted herself firmly to keep the guards from pulling her. She had a neural implant that so she could communicate privately with The Captain, or in a pinch, the drones; it wasn't great and hadn't been working too well for transmitting recently, but she could send simple messages. Ready, she thought.

“You will NOT take my dog!” declared the drone. “I'll go along with you, but I will not be separated from Oatmeal.”

“The fook is this? An AI and his pet?”

“COMPUTATIONAL intelligence!” The Captain had been constructed in the Sovereignty.

The leader gestured at two guards to grab Oatmeal. They approached with all the menace they could. The Captain had seen better. And worse. However it worked. “Get him, Oatmeal!”

Oatmeal pounced and bit the wrist on one of them, and the drones tackled the other. Notsix threw off one of the guards holding her and bellowed an elephantine war cry, even though she was an armadillo. Josse struggled and flailed while screeching in her most ear-piercing tone, but even with six arms there wasn't much she could do when held by a large armored man.

“Ga! Take the others, at least,” said the leader, as he joined in the struggle to take down the drones and enraged giant uplift. Kees was still barely awake and confused, and Josse was still screaming as they were taken one way down a corridor. Jan was pulled down another and only saw a bit more of the struggle before they were out of sight, wondering only why none of the guards were firing.

Jan was taken up an elevator and then into a posh but not opulent office, something that said “pretending to be upper middle management but actually much higher up the ranks.” The supposed upper middle manager stood at the plate window, back to them, looking out, and he waved his hand dismissively. The guards immediately let him loose and left, closing the door behind them.

“Hello, Moonie,” the manager said, apparently fascinated by smoke he could see coming from the slums in the distance. “Welcome to Multi-Planetary United. Long time, no see.”

Jan grabbed a seat. “Jacob, looks like you did well for yourself.”

Jacob Pama turned around, facing his old friend. He smiled and tilted his head at the windows. “It could have been you in this office, you know, if not for that little defrenchi- ah, defeati-gah, Can never get that word.”

“Defenestration.”

“Yes, yes, that.”

“Technically, that wouldn't be defenestration. I didn't actually throw him. You know that.”

“But it was a brilliant stroke, convincing him to ram that window. I daresay you could have become a preacher with-”

Jan had enough. “Jacob, enough of the veldtshit chit-chat. Why am I here and what's going on?”

“Oh, but where are my manners?” Jacob sat at his expensive dark wood desk – probably imported despite the forests of Orange – and typed something on a concealed keypad. Almost immediately, one of the MPU mercs came through, pushing a little silver cart loaded with food, drinks, basins of water and towelettes. The paramilitant saluted and left.

“Seriously, what is this prawnshit?” Jan asked.

“I have no idea what you mean,” Jacob said. “You are a guest and I should treat you accordingly. Pass me a towelette and coffee, please.”

“And the guests here serve the bureaucrats?”

“When there's a possibility that the guests might think the food is poisoned or something silly like that. Is that a koeksister? I'd like one too, if you please.”

His stomach growled, but he served Jacob and refused to take anything for himself, even though he could have used the food and caffeine...or the stims that were on a little coral-colored plate, nearly labeled. Nothing was adding up and he wondered how the other crewmembers were doing.

* * *

Get the aardvark!”

“AARDVARK?!?” That was fighting words, but Notsix was a bit overwhelmed by numbers to do much about it. She felt someone try to club her on the back of the head, but it only impacted her armor plates.

Notsix dear, they must have orders to keep us alive and we can't win like this, the drones transmitted. You know what to do.

Yes, she sent back, then she curled up in a ball.
Image


“I will surrender and work with you if I can keep my dog with me,” the drone said.

“Fine! Proceed that way!”

“Will do. Oatmeal! Come, Oatmeal!” The dog had been snarling in the corner, surrounded, but none of the men had been willing to approach him. He perked up a bit at hearing his master's slightly synthetic voice, but he was still surrounded and not happy about that.

“Step away from the fooking dog, you prawnpiss,” the merc leader said, while thinking dark thoughts about his stupid orders to leave the prisoners unharmed. They cleared a path, so the drones spoke again.

“Come, Oatmeal!” And the dog did. “Good Oatmeal! Good meatbag! Who's a good meatbag? You are! Who's the best meatbag in the galaxy? Yes you are!”

“Will you quit with the fooking doggie talk and get moving?”

The drones lead Oatmeal away, petting the dog and still making creepy robot gooshy sentences. Meanwhile, Notsix was still in her ball on the floor and she had no intentions of getting out of it. It was rather comfortable, actually.

One of the other guards spoke, for the first time in the entire confrontation. “Should I try to pry her back out, sir?”

“Ga! Just roll the fooking aardvark!”

* * *

The tiny squirming Tym had been stuffed into an animal cage for easier carrying. It made her struggle a bit less, but only because she was simultaneously screaming about her rights being violated and trying to pick the lock on the cage. It wasn't hard but then her captors had realized that she wasn't actually an animal but an intelligent being, and then they physically tied the cage door shut with composite wire. She couldn't cut through it, and that made her sad.

They brought her to an unmarked interrogation room and left her cage on one side of a table. The man seated at the other side was...bland. He was the type of person someone could talk to and then not remember at all what he looked like, not that it mattered much to Josse since most humans looked alike to her anyway. The man tapped on his armcomp, which then beamed the images onto his eyes so he could read without being seen by others. “Are you Jossethlacht-psqueakpip-,” and he even got the tones correct on the squeaks, “-former Top Grade Generalist Technician and Communist guerrilla, and current diswritten runaway?”

Josse gasped. “Is that a Kassa Fabrication Mark Three Polaris Omni-tool with full peripherals? By any chance is that the limited-issue Executive Edition? Ooh, ooh!” She was getting very excited and was speaking almost too fast to be understood. “Can you do the remote access and touch hologram thingies?”

“Is that or is that not your name?”

“I totally want one! I can't afford it but I gotta have it! I'll wear it like a backpack! I didn't think we could even get them out here! Or maybe you had it imported. Where'd you get it?”

“If I tell you, will you work with me?”

“Haha, nice try, but really, where'd you get it? Company issue? Importer? Didya hear about the 'upgrades' that are already built into it but they're gonna try to charge a hella lot to unlock the functionality?”

* * *

Jan did not think about Kees, because none of them considered him a real member of the crew, just some hired help they picked up that hadn't been much help at all. He nibbled on a fried caterpillar and sipped on some coffee. “There, I ate something, Jacob. Now will you explain what's going on?”

“I shall,” Jacob said, “but first I must ask: how much do you know about the current situation with the prawns?”

* * *

“Good news, droid,” said the interrogator. “Looks like we won't have to ask you any questions after all.” As he said it, the dampening field in the room lessened, allowing the drones to communicate back with The Captain's primary core.

“Oh. Huh,” the drone said. “Well then, can I get some water for my Oatmeal?”
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Steve » 2010-11-03 01:38pm

Bongabong
Luz, The Feelipeens
16 July 3400


The bus ride to the inland city of Bongabong had taken the better part of a day for Zara and Pito. She was getting crude looks from most of the people on the bus; a white-skinned foreigner having a local child with her was viewed with suspicion for... obvious reasons.

Communicating with Pito was a matter of applied telepathy. He spoke almost no English but was quite capable of understanding the sentiments and feelings she projected. It was through this that Zara got her first real lead on "Shroom Fighter"; Pito had a street friend who's older brother participated in the "tryout" fights at Bongabong and he had overheard where it was. She would go there now with him and observe - she had already sent off a report to the Order on her progress.

Staying in Bongabong too long wouldn't be feasible. Electronic money transfers were few and far between on the planets of the Feelipeens - physical cash was the medium of exchange outside of barter. The Feelipeeni piso was accepted but fairly worthless; merchants and vendors really wanted external currency of some form, the more respected/economically powerful the issuing nation, the better. Zara, with her cover as an Anglian journalist, was using Anglian pounds, but she couldn't carry too many around and had to return to Maynilad whenever she needed more, in an account that was steadily dwindling. Her recent message had in fact asked for some more money and an extension of her stay, given she had come across evidence, but there was no telling if it'd be approved.

Bongabong, being an inland city, had a different squalor to it than Puerta Gabriela had. There was no strong fish stench in the streets; instead of unemployed or underemployed fishermen you had unemployed industrial workers and farm workers. The streets still reeked of human waste and rotted food, save the small upper class neighborhood that provided housing for all the high government employees present in the city - access there was barred by an active detachment of the Bongabong police department.

Months of living on this wretched world had started to get to Zara. Life here was painfully cheap and brutish. Everywhere was despair, with only a few flickers of hope from some that they might find a way out of the crushing poverty. The internal conflict between guerrilas, most of them Communist, and the police made casualties of innocent people. If you accidentally helped the guerrilas you could expect beatings and torture from the police; if you helped the police the guerrilas would be the ones beating or killing you.

And nobody cared. That was the worst part. The local powers were too busy exploiting the system to care for the lives of those stuck here. The sheer apathy the civilized galaxy presented to the planet was an act of malevolence far in excess to any act of corruption by Shroomarcos and his lackies.

After securing a room and leaving Pito there, with some food, clean drink, and a few books in his native language she'd picked up for a 2 pound bill (as well as strict instructions to not make noise and not answer the door) she headed to the building described in Pito's recollections. It was a small in-door football arena, the only one in the city, ostensibly the home for a team in the local league but rented out to whomever could provide the most UN credits or Shepistani dollars to the owners. It was surprisingly public for an underground fighting ring... but then again, this was the Feelipeens and Bongabong was just a smallish town in the middle of a swampy plain. Nobody of import really had reason to look here for things.

As she walked to the arena, Zara could sense something was wrong. She had a strong suspicion she was being followed. She did take some peeks around but saw nothing familiar. Whomever it was had a good ability to blend in with crowds.

A one pound note from her pocket gave her entry to the small stadium. She was, in fact, overpaying - the price of the ticket in pisos was worth only about twenty-five pence, but she hoped that the presence of the note would keep attention away from herself.

A swell of humanity behind her in the line of admission forced Zara into the building, much to her chagrin as she found herself in the presence of a modest Blitzschlag Field. It was hard to believe one could even be in Bongabong - this one was about as intense as the one at the Maynilad Spaceport, even if in a smaller area. Whomever was running these games was dead-set against having Espers doing anything in the stands.

She found a place to stand near one of the doors, still worried about whomever had been following her. The crowd cheered as a tan-skinned man stepped into the middle of the field. His suit was dark and an eye patch covered his right eye. An olive-skinned man stood beside him, shirtless and wearing a claw weapon on his hand. "Welcome to the qualifying tournament of Shroom Fighter!", the one-eyed man bellowed into a microphone. "In this fight, there are no rules! Two fighters enter, one leaves! The winner of the tournament will be honored by Mr. Julia himself and be admitted into the main tournament!"

There was a roar from the crowd. For unemployed men frustrated at their horrible lives, bloodsport had an appeal that Zara found horrifying. She uttered a prayer to the Eternal Goddess to have mercy on the souls of these wretches, de-humanized and cruel due to the poverty and misery that had crushed their souls.

The fighters were a mix of locals and people from elsewhere. Anyone with martial arts knowledge was welcome, whether it was a formal school or bar-brawling. There were 32 fighters here. Over half were Human, the others a mix of Dilgrud, Vinaran men (And even one Vinaran women), a few Thanagarians, even a couple Korugarans and a Tamaranian. There was even a nasty-looking Chamarran man with them, which was surprising if only because the Chammarans seemed to be overwhelmingly female in numbers.

The fights were short and brutal. There were no rules and so the winner was usually the one who was first to break the limbs of the other fighter or pummel them into unconsciousness (or worse). Zara noticed a number of martial arts being used, but just as often battles would be decided by the first to land a truly powerful blow somewhere sensitive. She grimaced, thankful for the first time of being in a Blitzschlag Field as it prevented her from feeling the pain of the contestants.

Even without her abilities, Zara felt at edge. She could feel danger around her. Part of it was obvious; being one of the few women present in a crowd that was quite capable of producing someone keen to commit violence. The other part was knowing that whomever followed her was likely here, looking for her. He could be in a row above her or near her side, preparing to strike...

The first round was over 16 fighters had been eliminated, ten of them in a very permanent fashion. She didn't want to think of where the corpses would wind up. Now the 16 remaining contestants would fight, the second round of five to be waged.

She was watching the first fight to be had between two women - the Vinaran woman and a Human one - when she felt the hairs on her neck stand on end. She whirled, hands at the ready, looking to defend herself from an attacker.

All she got was a face full of puke, as a drunk man vomited all over her.

In the split second it took for her to calm down and begin to feel disgust, an object pressed against the back of her neck. She felt the pin prick there and had just a moment to consider she'd been caught before unconsciousness claimed her.



The drunk man accepted the $10 Shepistani note handed to him by Agent Harper. Harper smirked as he stumbled off; a drunk man clutching, openly, that much money in Shepistani currency would not live long given all the knife-wielding thieves around here.

He cradled the body of the unconscious Esper against himself, picking her up. Harper looked toward the one-eyed man running the event, who was watching what was going on and gave him a nod. Men sent by the man walked up to Harper and took the woman from him, handing him a suitcase full of money.

Ostensibly Esper agents in the Feelipeens were to be turned over to his bosses or the Feelipeenis themselves. But Harper could always use extra money and, as it was, knew of the arrangement his leader had made with Shadoshroom's operators concerning Esper prisoners. Making a little money on the side and cutting through the red tape was perfectly okay with him.

He left the arena and found his vehicle. Smiling, he settled in the driver's seat and went to look at what he expected to be $20,000 Shepistani.

Harper never saw what was actually in the case, though. That's because it was an explosive device and it blew up the moment he undid the latch, turning Harper into a fried, armless corpse sitting in the blackened skeleton of his vehicle.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2010-11-03 02:29pm

THE MAYNILAD BULLETIN
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MAYNILAD, Luz - A bomb blast rocked the peaceful town of Bongabong yesterday, sending the township into panic as bystanders fled the scene, fearing for their lives, while emergency responders rushed to ground zero to help the victims. The casualties included two wounded and one dead, the two injured in the blast were farmers on their way home riding their carabao, and the one killed was identified as Mr. Turgid Harper, age 40, a Shepistani national working for the Feelipeen government.

According to the Pulis, the bomb blast came from inside Mr. Harper's vehicle, and that he was the victim of a car bombing. Suspects include rebels from the Fuckbalahap, the militant arm of the Communist Party of the Feelipeens, and the Mohammedian Islamic Liberation Front, two of the most prominent terror groups in the Feelipeens currently at war with the government.

"Chaos and disorder stalk the land like two big stalking things," President Shroomarcos said in a press conference. "We cannot let these rebels and bandits go unpunished. We will retaliate and bring these murderers and terrorists to justice."

The Bongabong bombing is the latest in a string of rebel violence erupting in the Feelipeens, and is the closest attack yet to the nation's capital. The Pulis and the military forces have been put on high alert and counter-insurgency operations have been stepped up in response to the attack. The town of Bongabong and the surrounding provinces have been placed under a state of emergency, and the military has retaliated by attacking two villages near Bongabong suspected of harboring communist rebels.

The Shepistani embassy in Maynilad has issued a travel warning advisory on the Feelipeens.
Image "DO YOU WORSHIP HOMOSEXUALS?" - Curtis Saxton (source)
shroom is a lovely boy and i wont hear a bad word against him - LUSY-CHAN!
Shit! Man, I didn't think of that! It took Shroom to properly interpret the screams of dying people :D - PeZook
Shroom, I read out the stuff you write about us. You are an endless supply of morale down here. :p - an OWS street medic
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Steve » 2010-11-03 11:48pm

Unknown Location
Somewhere in the Feelipeens System
17 July 3400


Stupid stupid STUPID!

Zara struggled against the manacles holding her wrists and arms locked tightly against her back and raged against herself in her mind. Here in this dark cell her only company was herself and her realization of utter failure.

She should have left. The moment she felt the BFG and confirmed she'd found Shroom Fighter she should have left and reported in. Now there was nobody to confirm to the Order what she'd found, all because she let herself get too curious about the Shroom Fighter tournament, convinced herself to stay and investigate.

Her captors had changed her garments into something that, she supposed, was more fetching, consisting of a blue shoulderless blouse and knee-length dress with slits on the sides to let her legs come through them. They'd put a collar of some sort on her as well, an anti-ESP device she suspected. Afterward they'd come in that morning to feed her and confirm only that it'd been a day since she was at Bongabong.

Finally a pair of uniformed men in red suits and helmets picked her up and dragged her through dark hallways. There was a null field here - it wasn't the painful pressure of a BFG but simply a solid wall around her extra senses, leaving her blind there. As such she had no way of breaking free as she was brought to what looked to be a parlor of sorts, filled with books and trophy cases and with comfortable couches.

Image

R. Julia was in a houserobe (though with his customary hat), reading from an electronic reader and balancing a drink in his hand. "Leave her on the floor," he ordered. "And then leave us."

Silently the armed guards did so. Zara watched them leave and turned back to her captor. He seemed almost disinterested in her for several moments, as if whatever he was reading was more interested.

"Tell me, young lady," R. Julia suddenly said, "have you ever read the classics?"

"The classics?", Zara asked. "What do you mean?"

"Shakespeare. Milton. Tolkein. The classics," he clarified. "Or Juvera and Latamo if you prefer. I am a man of many tastes and the Dorei have provided to the galaxy many excellent works of literature." R. Julia looked at the expression on her face. "I don't suppose you Sisters of the Silver Moon study these works very much, do you? Just the writings of the Goddess Church?" He shook his head. "A shame. I would rather think that young ladies who go off to risk death and things far worse would take solace in the writings of a woman like Juvera."

Zara looked at him blankly for several moments before asking, "What is it you want from me?"

"Well, your name would be welcome. Angela Crawfield makes a fine false name for a fake journalist, but I am under no illusions that it's your real name." R. Julia smiled at her. "I am, of course, R. Julia, lord of Shadoshroom." When there was no reply from Zara, he shook his head. "I see you will be a troublesome one. Let's loosen that tongue of your's." He reached over and pressed a button on a control.

Pain flared through Zara's limbs and neck until it filled her entire body. She flailed on the ground for seconds on end, crying out, until it stopped. "A design by the Pfhor, I believe," R. Julia stated. "It lacks the sheer blunt brutality of the Bragulans or the lethality of the Dilgrud, but for our purposes it works, does it not?"

"I am Zara," she answered simply. "A Knight of the Silver Moon." She dare not give her full name, not if R. Julia had the means to connect her to Hilda.

"Ah, well, Zara.... I have a proposition for you." He placed his drink down and walked up to her where she was sitting on the floor before him. "You are undoubtedly a talented combatant with your skills. Even as far as here we know of the exploits of the Sisterhood. I would appreciate having such a talented young woman compete in my fighting competition."

"It is against the Code to fight for amusement," Zara replied. "And I will not break the Code."

"I have some very skilled men in my employ who can, and will, make you reconsider such a judgement," R. Julia pointed out. "I tend to not bother with such persuasion myself; I prefer to snap the necks of those who defy me." He smirked at her. "But of course, what am I thinking?! You are a Knight of the Silver Moon, blessed by your Eternal Goddess to be a protector of the innocent! Why, they even train you to resist torture, do they not? And looking at your scar tissue, I can see you have put that training to good use." R. Julia clapped his hands loudly. "So a different approach is called for!"

The door opened. Zara looked over to it to see one of the armed guards push a small figure in, one she recognized as Pito. He looked at her in fear, something she could not ease given her abilities were blocked. They could not even communicate now. "A nice little boy, isn't he?", R. Julia asked. "Now, I'm going to ask you kindly, Lady Zara, to join the Shroom Fighter corps of fighters. Do you still refuse? If so, that is your choice. All combatants in Shroom Fighter are there by their own will. But before you answer let me demonstrate what that means."

R. Julia suddenly grabbed Pito by the neck, twisted his head, and there was an audible snap in the air. Zara looked in horror as Pito's body fell lifelessly, his head contorted unnaturally from where Julia had snapped his neck completely off. She cried out his name and looked toward R. Julia, glaring. "He would have died anyway," R. Julia stated with a shrug. "A small insect of a humanoid, one of untold billions in this nasty little star system with its uncultured fool of a leader and his twit of a wife. There are times I consider conquering this system for myself, but I know General Sheppard would be displeased and might retaliate. Now the General, that is a man I can appreciate. Did you know that in his first incarnation he wiped an entire nation off the map and held Nova Terra in the grip of terror for years!?... but I am getting ahead of myself." He clapped again.

The door opened. More children were brought in, two boys and two girls in raggedy clothing. All looked lost and terrified as they looked at Pito's body and at R. Julia. Zara swallowed hard. "Remind me, O noble Knight of the Goddess... what does your precious Code say about the life of children? Does it not say you must protect innocent life?"

He reached down and grabbed the head of one of the girls. Zara screamed "STOP!" as he twisted. Another snap. Another small body hitting the ground.

"Well, Knight? Are you sworn to protect innocent life?"

"Yes!" Zara saw him reach for another child, one of the boys. The three survivors were frozen in place by fear, their hands bound like Zara's. As R. Julia's arms began to move over the child's shoulders to put fatal pressure on the boy's neck, Zara screamed, "I'll do it!"

He looked over at her, his arms settled on the boy's shoulders. The boy began to weep. He couldn't have been older than seven. "You will fight?"

"Yes!" Zara wailed. "I'll fight in your tournament, just don't..."

She watched, her eyes full of horror, as R. Julia seemed to be shifting himself to snap the boy's neck. But at the last moment his grip relaxed. He gave the boy an affectionate pet on the head and shooed him and the other two surviving children away. Looking to Zara with a grin, he said, "A wise choice, Lady Zara."

Zara continued to weep, her eyes focused on the two little corpses in the room as hot tears flowed down her eyes. The Code was all she had left. And now, she would have to break one part of it to uphold another. She was lost.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2010-11-04 04:20am

LIBERTOWN, Hanson

Image Image

"These are my Killyshnikov kids, my boy brigades," the Mayor of Libertown declared with paternal pride as they watched Libertownian children parade across the courtyard, wielding miniaturized Bragulan arms. He looked at his guest and smiled. "I can see what you are thinking. We need every man we can get."

"Even if they are not men?" his guest asked.

"A bullet from an 8 year old just as effective as one from an 80 year old, often more effective," the Mayor replied.

"I wonder what they would say about employing underage minors for workers," the guest wondered out loud.

"Please, this is Libertown. We Libertownians repealed all market regulations, and now, thanks to deregulation, the free market flows unimpeded," the Mayor chuckled to himself. "No one can stop the bath of blood."

"It's not bath of blood. It's bloodbath," his guest corrected.

"Thank you, but I prefer it my way," the Mayor grinned. Then, just as it appeared, it was replaced by a more thoughtful frown. "I am not going to pay your asked price. Besides, market is already flooded with your K-bolters and Killyshnikovs. Do you realize in some parts of my country you can get one for the price of a chicken?"

"But you can't just look at the unit price," his guest protested. "You forget auxiliary costs, end user certificates that we forge, the notary shell company setup, insurance purchase, piles of crews hired. Not to mention the bribes. You cannot get a nut and bolt out of the Koprulu Zone without a bribe. There is one bribe for the nut another for the bolt. Andy, Andy, listen to me. This is an expensive proposition. Andy?"

"I'm going to pay you in timber or stone," the Mayor said matter-of-factly as he produced a stone and showed it to his guest.

Image

"It's kind of hard to get a tree trunk in my hand luggage," the guest said as he took the stone and pocketed it, accepting it as payment. "I know you are planing a new offensive. If you can delay a week, I can get you armored personnel carriers. It will greatly reduce your casualties and give you a significant strategic advantage."

The smile returned to the Mayor's face.

"You know, they call me the Lord of War," he said. "But, perhaps, it is you."

"It's not Lord of War. It's Warlord," the guest corrected.

"Thank you. But, I prefer it my way."

The Mayor laughed, and so did the guest.

"By the way," the Mayor continued. "I have some associates who wish to see you. They have traveled long and far, and it was I who recommended your services to them. Come, let us meet them."

Image

The Deputy Mayor, who was the Mayor's son, arrived with the associates. The Deputy Mayor was brandishing a golden K-bolter, the guest's gift to him, and with pride he showed it for all to see. The Mayor flashed his teeth, smiling fatherly at his son's amusing antics. He introduced the guest to the associates, telling the associates that his guest was a lord of war responsible for his many baths of blood, an enabler who had allowed him and his fellow Libertownians to win many victories against the those Kiith Gaalsien dogs.

"My Randian friends love him. Thanks to him they massacred the town of Nya, killed everyone in it. You can even watch it on the Holonet. So, if there is anything you need, he will aid you in your revolutionary struggles, my friends, so long as you give the right price," the Mayor finished with a wink. Then he got up and spread his arms. "But I afraid I must leave you to discuss these matters by yourselves. I must supervise the, ah, deregulation of some more Hiigaaran pigs. The business of business, you see. So long, and take care, boys."

With that, the Mayor left. But the Deputy Mayor remained. He neared the guest, bringing his gold-plated K-bolter up as he examined the guest's Western-style clothing, receding hairline and nervous smile. The Deputy Mayor sneered. Solarian shitrap boomed on in his MP5 music player.

Image

"Yes?" the guest asked nervously.

"Bring me the gun of Shroombo," the Deputy Mayor said.

"Part one, two or three?" the guest asked even more nervously.

"I've only seen part one. The M-6000."

"Would you like the armor piercing bullets?"

"Please," the Deputy Mayor nodded and left them.

The guest was left with the associates. They looked at each other for a brief moment, each wondering who would start. The guest shrugged and began.

"So, what can I do you gentlemen?" he asked them.

"We need a shipment of high grade arms," they replied, leaning forward and talking in hush conspiratorial tones. "Anti-armor weaponry, Bragtech weapons, anything that can defeat powered armor."

"What kind of powered armor?" he wondered. This was more than slightly above the normal requests for revolutionaries and tinpots in third worlds.

"Anglian," they answered.

Aha.

"And where would you like this shipped to?" he had his suspicions now. He felt that knew what was around the corner.

"Pendleton," the Mayor's associates whispered the world's name under their breath.

The guest smiled.

"I'm sorry, but I can't do that," he replied, slapping his lap as he did. "It's too risky."

"We'll pay!" the associates insisted. "Generously!"

"I'm sorry, but I must decline."

"But we have money!" the associates protested. "Money is money!"

"The Bannerman Gap is too tightly patrolled by the Coalition forces, it's simply not feasible, even for someone of my not-inconsiderable abilities. What good is money when I come out of the Gap, get boarded by an Anglian ship, and they find the weapons and I go to prison?"

"Not very good..." the associates conceded. "But we need arms to cast off the oppression of the Anglians, certainly you can appreciate our plight."

"Yes, yes I can," the guest lied through his teeth. The only plight he appreciated was that of their pockets. "So, here is what I'll do. I can give you the arms right here, right now, but it will be up to you to arrange its shipment to Pendleton. For this, I'll require only a portion of your generous pay. Money is money, after all. The rest, you can use to hire a very good smuggler..." or a very stupid one. "...to deliver the goods to Pendleton. How about that?"

The associates looked up as though mana had fallen from heaven, as though god had delivered them from their tormentations. But there was no god, just the lord of war sitting there in front of them. In return, they gave their lord an offering - a suitcase full of monies, in Anglian pounds, which weighed quite a lot.

The guest smiled at this.

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***
Later, the vulture went to the Hanson Market Trade building to meet bear. When vulture arrived at bear's office, he saw that his friend was busy stomping on the faces of several humans, who he then threw out of the window. The falling bodies bounced off a nearby spaceship, and bear looked at the ship - seemingly gazing through the cockpit windows to look at those inside - and then he laughed. He fucking laughed.

"Do you do this every week?" vulture asked dryly.

"Yes. As a matter of fact, I do," bear replied with a satisfied look on his face. He brushed his hands and went back to sit behind his desk. It wasn't even his desk, since the nameplate on the desk had someone else's human name - probably the name of the person who bear had shown out the office. Vulture saw the nameplate, and bear saw vulture as he saw it, and he merely chuckled as he seated himself on the human's swivel chair - which promptly crumpled under his Bragulan bulk. "So, the Mayor introduced you to his friends from far away."

"Yes," it wasn't a question, somehow bear knew, and vulture suspected he was with the IBGV despite his cover working as... managing director of the Hanson Market Trade company, which vulture surmised by examining the nameplate and seeing that the departed human was ranked managing director. "I didn't take the deal."

"Oh?" the bear uttered this with mock surprise. He saw vulture look at the nameplate, so he took the nameplate and with his claws he crossed out the departed human's name and carved his own name on the plate.

"I made them a new one," vulture explained. "Sold them the arms here, told them to find someone else to ship it to Pendleton."

"I see, understandable," bear nodded. "Who will do the delivery then?"

"I recommended them to some guy named Nah Oslo," vulture shrugged. "What's it to you?"

"Nothing, absolutely nothing," bear lied very obviously, barely restraining his (fucking) laughter. Then, abruptly, he got up and made for the exit. "I have to make a phone call."

"They aren't going to make it, are they?" vulture asked him as he left the room.

"Nyet! They're not!" bear shouted back.

Vulture shrugged, not his problem. He looked at bear's desk and saw that underneath the crossed-out nameplate were several brochures.

"Bragulan Economic Exposition Extravaganza of Friendship... hmmm."
***
Somewhere in Altacar 3

Image

IBGV Agent Vsvlgyrod Spozavik sat by himself on a park bench. It was a sunny day, and people around him were feeding pigeons, as some old people and children were liked to do during the weekends. It was a pretty pleasant day, warm with lots of sun, and he was glad to be out and about instead of being cooped up in the fortress-embassy.

His last mission had been the shindig at Umeria, where he had met a most dangerous adversary in the form of Dr. Maxim Chernov. It had gone pretty well. Ever since then, the Bragulan Star Empire was trading with the Umerians and making profits from chromium, and once more did his alter ego trade liaison Dryznyl Shpechtkov get more awards for furthering the cause of interstellarist Byzonism and some such. It seemed as though his alter ego had more commendations as a diplomat and had seen more action in that function then he did as the spy he really was. But then again, wasn't diplomacy another facet of spywork? Or was it another one of Gryznk's tricks, making him think he was a spy under cover as a diplomat when in truth he was actually a diplomat led to believe he was a spy under cover as a diplomat? What manner of Bragskirovka was this?

Spozavik slapped himself out of it. Perhaps it was this paranoia that led his superiors to assign him to increasingly inane interstellar internationalist intermissions. He had to shape up. He had to get his shits together!

Right now he was on a mild mission as a spy, performing a basic exchange as any agent would. Though he still had his own apprehensions, since while he did his drop there could be other agents (CEID, Inquisition, SIS, or even fellow IBGV) watching and taking incriminating footage of him with another agent. He could be compromised if the circumstances were construed to look like something else. Or maybe Gryznk was just testing him. That dick.

Shits.

Spozavik scowled. He looked around, looking around without looking like he was looking around when in fact he was actually taking a good look at everything around him. It seemed clear. At least, as clear as clear could be. Which wasn't very clear.

It was never clear.

He took out a brown paper bag and began tossing scrap foods at the ground. While other people attracted pigeons with breadcrumbs, he was using masticated pieces of meat, fish parts and blood - chum. The sky grew dark as birds were aroused by the atrocious aroma emitted by his chumming, but this was no flock of pigeons. It was a murder. A murder of Cardovan Murdercrows.

Cardovan Murdercrows were an invasive species that had somehow made their way to several worlds in and around the Koprulu Zone. They were like the predatory Murderhawks, but were a scavenger strain. These black-feathered razor-beaked raptors were cunning, and it was in their unique dietary adaptation that they gained their name. For they had learned to listen to the sound of human and inhuman screams and shouts, their eyes honed to see not just the glint of gleaming metal and other shinies, but most specifically knife blades. They were called Murdercrows because they had evolved to scavenge on the homicides and murder scenes all too prevalent in megacities and ultra-urbanized acrologies.

Spozavik had forgotten where he read that from, since he normally just skimmed through intelligence briefs without really reading them. Somehow he had the tendency to remember these things...

His contact saw the sign and arrived quietly. He was a brown-haired human with hard features and cold blue eyes.

Image

"Good morning, Mr. Shpechtkov," the man began.

"A pleasant day to you too," Spozavik replied. "Mr. Daniels."

"Please, call me Craig. Craig Daniels," Craig Daniels said. "So, how was your trip to Umeria?"

"I don't know what trip you are talking about. I do not know this Umeria you speak of." Spozavik answered with a flat tone. Of course, his pictures had been plastered all over the holonet when the Umerian journos pictographed him shaking paws Dr. Chernov, and anyone could see that in the holonews. But still, it helped to deny everything. Especially to an Anglian. "How about you, how are things in the Lesbo Zone?"

"They're very well," Craig replied smoothly. He turned to eye a pair of women walking past them, noting that they were holding each others' hands. He smirked at that. "How's the vowel business?"

"It's okay. The Altacarians have a lot of spare vowels." Spozavik answered noncommittally. "How is the Anglicization of Pendleton?"

"I'm not quite sure," Craig cocked his head. "You tell me."

"How would I know?" It's not like I've ever been there, Spozavik shrugged.

He passed a roll of microfilm to the SIS man.

"You know, the Shepistanis did a banged up job with Pendleton. Put the fear of god in them," Craig commented. "I bet you Bragulans were really proud of them."

"The Shepistanis did a banged up job with your mom too," Spozavik replied. "Yes, we were really proud of them."

With that cue, Mr. Daniels feigned outrage and got up.

"Good morning, Mr. Shpechtkov," he raised his nose in an act of snubbing the crude Bragulan.

"A pleasant day to you too," Spozavik replied as he got up and moved to the opposite direction. "Mr. Daniels."

With that, Mr. Craig, Craig Daniels left the scene in a huff. Spozavik stood there while the Anglian disappeared into the crowds. He took a while to look around, noting with some satisfaction that he saw a bunch of MIBs lurking under the shadows of several trees. The CEID spooks saw him saw them and made themselves scarce, disappearing into the shadows like some kind of apparitions.

It was a good idea, and Spozavik followed suit. Despite being an enormous bear with a nice green hat and tie, he somehow managed to melt away into the throngs of Altacarian people.

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Image "DO YOU WORSHIP HOMOSEXUALS?" - Curtis Saxton (source)
shroom is a lovely boy and i wont hear a bad word against him - LUSY-CHAN!
Shit! Man, I didn't think of that! It took Shroom to properly interpret the screams of dying people :D - PeZook
Shroom, I read out the stuff you write about us. You are an endless supply of morale down here. :p - an OWS street medic
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Siege » 2010-11-04 11:41am

Cypress Lounge, Vilch-Inhofer Transmetropolitan Sprawl
Hochbaden, United Solarian Sovereignty


Old time rock and roll wailed through the dimly lit interior of the Cypress Lounge. Smoke curled up from cigars and cigarettes, etching strange cuneiform shapes which were quickly beaten apart by ceiling fans, spinning lazy copper circles through a haze of blue. In booths and along the bar, patrons nursed their drinks, their subdued chatter blending together into a constant drone punctuated only by the occasional bout of drunken laughter. On the far wall the arcane machinery of the null-bubble generator crackled reassuringly.

"And they're working wi' de Chupacabra, I heard tell from a friend o' my down on Dunkelheim. He says the monsters are real, and they's communicatin' with the Karlacks and giving them all our secret technology and that!" the crazy fellow with the bandana said. He was a regular patron at the Cypress Lounge, much to the chagrin of the other patrons.

"Well, you're half right," a young fellow said, who was sitting next to him. This one was new; no one of the regulars had seen him in here before tonight. "Chupacabras do indeed exist, but I don't think the Overmind is working with them."

"How do you know they're real?" one of the other men sitting around the crazy and the young fellow asked, an amused smile on his face.

The man, who was in his early twenties and had a flat Solarian accent, smiled right back at him. "Well, because I've seen them of course. Here, take a look at these."

He pulled out a stack photographs, with the distinctive white packet at the bottom showing them to be Polaroids. Talk about stone-age technology. The Debunker took them, and showed them with some flourish to all the other patrons sitting around the two men they were attacking. "Let's see here," he said.

The man stared at the first terrifying picture for a long time. "It's fake," he said after a minute. "It's got to be."

"Really?" the young man said, smiling at his quite insane partner, who was grinning like an idiot. "Are the shadows not lined up? Are the eyeballs not reflecting the camera? Hm?"

The Debunker passed the picture around, and looked at the next one. His mouth moved up and down, like he was preparing it to point out any deficiency in reality that it might detect.

"You can tell from the fact that it has elongated retractiles instead of permanently extended claws that it is not a “lost” Negimal as some have theorized," the man with the flat accent said. "Additionally, the spines act as radiators, which would be unnecessary since Negimal is believed to have been cold-blooded.”

"Where did you take these?" the Debunker said.

"Just a a few kilometers from here, really. The creatures are no longer exclusive to Dunkelheim, as would make sense."

"Okay smartass," another man, this one with a healthy bottle of whisky in his hand, said. "How'd it get off-planet then?"

"They're not natural. Whoever engineered these creatures, they've been at it for some time. If you look at the seventh through eleventh pictures in the stack I just gave you, sir, you'll see analyses of recovered DNA material found at several locations throughout Solarian space. They show a marked evolutionary progression, and one far too fast to be naturally occurring – unless there are multiple strains, of course.”

The drinker asked again "Mr..."

"Wednesday is my name, sir."

"Mr. Wednesday, I am a retired ARNist and crypto-geneticist. In fact, I did a study on the Chupacabra. These... physiologies, well, I'll admit you did your homework on them. There's definite signs of RNA recombination with alien strains, possibly indicative of the presence of recessive Karlack genetic material. Though of course, it would have been a proverbial bitch and a half to synthesize such a thing.”

"Yes, I imagine it would."

"Then if that is the case, who went through all the trouble to fabricate these... things? What's the point?”

The flat-voiced man shrugged. "I'm still trying to work that one out. But consider that the Central Espionage and Intelligence Directorate is heavily involved in xenogenetic research and development – they fabricated Human-Apexai hybrids, after all. My idea is that these 'Chupacabras' are an attempt to reverse-engineer Karlack strains in order to manufacture attack bioforms for the Directorate.

"I think that's quite enough, Mr. Wednesday," the Biologist said, chuckling a bit. "That's a possibility, sure."

At hearing a man of science chuckle and agree with this Mr. Wednesday and his insane friend, the Debunker lost much of his own skepticism. For a moment, he considered the possibility that, not far from where they were sitting, some gruesome part-alien killer creature was being put together by his own government. And if that were true when everybody thought it was all a hoax... what else was true as well?”

“Yes, Mr. Wednesday,” a voice, also flat and Solarian, came from behind the booth next to the billiards table. "That is quite enough."

Two women, both dressed in formal but comfortable-looking black suits with white shirts, black ties and reflective sunglasses were standing at the door. They looked similar enough to be twins. Both had their hair pulled back in tight ponytails. They wore black leather gloves, and the third buttons on their suit jackets were not black like the others, but absorbed light like a strange crystal.

Wednesday saw the women, kept smiling, and stood up from his chair. “Mmes. April and June, hello. It's been a while."

"Is that man there Mr. Samedi?" the woman on the right – April – said and looked at the crazyman who was a regular in the Cypress Lounge. "We'd like to speak to the both of you for just a moment, please."

The Biologist and the Debunker stood up as well, looking concerned, though Mr. Wednesday continued to smile. "Relax, friends," he said. "we're just going to talk to these ladies. Come, Mr. Samedi."

The two women in black at the door nodded simultaneously, and they both watched as Messrs. Wednesday and Samedi walked between them, Samedi wringing his hands and cursing under his breath.

"Well," the Debunker said. "What's this all about, then? Who are you people with?"

"You," the left woman – June – said. Her hair was just a tad more bleached, which was really the only way to tell the two apart. "We are with you. Don't forget that." She walked forward and stuck a gloved hand out at the Debunker, who flinched back instinctively. "Will you please give me those Polaroids?"

"No," the Debunker said. "And you're not going to take them from me. You obviously don't want these getting out, but whatever they are, I'm going to make sure they do."

The woman in black made a "hmm" sound. "If that's what you want to do. I'm not going to make you do anything you don't want to."

Everyone watched as the Debunker and the woman looked at each other. Something passed between them. Whatever June was doing, it had nothing to do with psionics. Or maybe it did, and the null bubble just wasn't enough to stop her doing it. The Debunker looked scared, confused, unsure. The woman in black was calm and content with anything the man was about to do. Finally the Debunker sighed and chuckled, and handed the woman in black the stack of Polaroids. "Sorry about that. I guess I got a little carried away. Here you go."

June smiled, and her partner said from behind her "Let's talk to our associates now, yes Mme. June?”

June nodded. "Just a moment, Mme. April. I'll be right out."

April hesitated, but took Wednesday and Samedi out the door, out of the Cypress Lounge.

June rolled up her sleeves up to her elbows, exposing an expanse of very pale skin, and said "I'm sorry I had to to do that. If you'd like, I can show you something you can't prove to others, but can't disprove to yourself."

Most of the patrons clustered around the billiards table, including the Debunker and the Biologist, stayed were they were, looking curious.

"Sir?" June said to the Biologist. "Do you have some spare change on you?"

The Biologist shrugged, and reached into his coat pocket. He felt something there, and pulled his hand out, looking a bit perplexed. He opened his palm.

In it was a large coin, bigger than a standard datachip. It was green, and at first most of the observers thought it looked like very old copper. However, the jade-colored coin gave off a slight shine under the Cypress Lounge's dimmed yellow light. It had a picture of the planet Solaris on it, and two stylized letter S's facing each other on either side of the planet.

"May I see it, please?" June asked. The Biologist handed the coin over, looking dually glad to get rid of it and sad to see it go.

June took the coin in her hands, and snapped her wrist. The coin disappeared from view, and in the microsecond that followed when June's hand returned, palm down, the coin was nowhere to be seen.

"No one in this universe," June said "will ever see that coin again." She tipped her sunglasses, and walked out the same way the other woman had.

Ten minutes later, the four figures were standing by a black LARC, on the artificial cliff of an arcology looking out over the Hochbaden industrial waste-zones. Raised, well-lit overzoom highways cut across the poisoned land, leading toward the bewildering mountain of light that was the Vilch-Inhofer Primary Space Elevator. The two pairs stood facing each other, Wednesday and Samedi with their backs to the wastes, April and June facing towards it. Twin large and full moons lit the scene, and since the night was young, one of the moons was low to the ground still. The white rays reflected weirdly off the black paint of the LARC, somehow making it more difficult to see.

“Mrs. Wednesday and Samedi, you have betrayed and attempted to expose the Fellowship," April said.

Wednesday smiled that maddeningly calm smile of his. "Is that so, April? Have we betrayed it, or has the Fellowship betrayed humanity? What do you think, Mme. June?"

June remained silent.

"Heh," Wednesday mouthed, dismissively. "Well, I guess I'll have to speak for both myself and Mr. Samedi when I say we deny your accusation."

"Mr. Samedi can speak for himself." April said.

"Not really, April. The gray-wipe took most of his rational thinking ability. I'm surprised you even still consider him a Fellow; he can't act as one anymore. He's a VAC in all but name."

"Fuck you and the horse you rode in on, you pansy areswipes!" Mr. Samedi said, the only one in the group without a flat, identical voice. His was quite the Anglian brogue.

"Yes, a pity that," April commented indifferently. "Unfortunately, I'm afraid it is you two who are, to use such a vulgar term, fucked."

With but a glance to one another, Mmes. April and June reached into their pockets and, with lightning-fast speed, stuck syringes with glowing orange liquid into Wednesday's and Samedi's chests. Samedi screamed and cursed again as June injected the syringe's contents into his chest, but Wednesday just winced for a moment, before going back to smiling.

Simultaneously, both women pulled the syringes out of their victims, and kicked them both still standing over the cliff. They fell down and disappeared in the depths, on their way towards the inevitable impact on the industrial wastelands in the depths. June imagined she could still see Samedi struggling as he fell. April imagined she could see the highly enhanced venom of the Cressian Elephant Spider taking effect already, dissolving Wednesday's smiling face into watery tendrils that could never be identified as the gravity pulled him down toward the wastes, probably wiping out much of the ecosystem there as well, the poison far too strong even for the adapted flora and fauna to handle.

June turned to April. "Was that really necessary?"

"Was it necessary of you to show off that little coin-trick in the pub back there?" April replied.

"They all looked so disappointed. The story will spread as an urban myth, be disproved by someone, and belief in the unseen will decrease by one more fraction across humanity. But those lucky few will always remember it. Or, they'll imagine they were drunk, and imagined it. No harm, no foul."

April shrugged. "I suppose so. Wait in the car please, Mme. June. I'm going to call this in."

"Why?"

"You don't have to, of course; I'd just like some privacy, that's all."

June sighed, knowing what saying something that way meant. She turned around and opened the doors of the LARC with a click of the keyring.

April took a small device out of her pocket, and clipped it to her ear, much like a hearing aid. "Connect me to the Dealership, please."

There was a faint hissing sound, the kind of sound that in this age of digital high-fidelity was unheard of unless something really peculiar was going on, and then a strange nasal voice came on. "Speak."

"Mr. Foor, a good day to you. I must speak with Mr. Twennysex. It concerns the failed gray-wipe and his partner."

There was a brief pause, and then another, almost identical voice came on. "Mme. April. You have succeeded?"

"Marginally, Mr. Twennysex. The two Fellows had to be removed. No evidence."

"Unfortunate, but satisfactory, Mme. April."

"I feel there is something else, Mr. Twennysex."

"What is that, Mme. April?"

"It is about Mme. June. I would like her watched. She seems to be in the first stage of sympathy exhibition."

There was another pause, this one probably Mr. Twennysex thinking, though what such a creature thought was unfathomable to a simple Fellow like Mme. April.

"We will take this suggestion under consideration. Return to the Apartment. You will be debriefed there." The connection ended.

April got into the LARC, and said aloud "Take us to the Apartment, please." The car started up, and began to move without April or June touching the steering wheel. That there was no steering wheel was a good reason for this.

"So what did Mr. Foor say?" Mme. June asked, arms crossed and head down, looking to most others like she was about to fall asleep.

"To come home, and that we did what we had to." April smiled at her partner reassuringly. "Don't worry. All is well now."


The city of Alexandria
Earth


Count Siegfried von Schenk stared at the coin that had just popped into his drink, almost going down his throat as he was about to take a sip. With a bit of regret, he put the tasty Byzantine wine back down, and drew the coin that had fallen out.

It was green, like jade or very old copper. It was about the size of an Cascadian silver dollar, but it glowed. He was scared for a second that it carried – what was the name again of that process that had done in that Frenchwoman Curie? Ah, yes, nuclear radiation – but then he remembered that according to the latest literature from the Shepistani Federation, most atomic materials didn't glow.

The coin had a picture of what seemed like a strange planet on it, which was funny because he knew for certain that the none of the Great Powers used coins with that kind of decoration on them, especially not anything like this. There were two S's on it, one facing backward, on either side.

"Huh," the Count said to himself. "Weird."

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Last edited by Siege on 2010-11-04 05:16pm, edited 3 times in total.
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SDN World 2: The North Frequesuan Trust
SDN World 3: The Sultanate of Egypt
SDN World 4: The United Solarian Sovereignty
SDN World 5: San Dorado
There'll be a bodycount, we're gonna watch it rise
The folks at CNN, they won't believe their eyes

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Fingolfin_Noldor » 2010-11-04 12:34pm

Imperial Chronicles

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If there was ever a more lob-sided fight, this was it. The men and women of Jaunt’s Jokes were veterans of many battles, fighting for the glory of the God Emperor. The pirates in comparison, were mewling infants who fought battles clumsily, and often with abject stupidity. Imperial forces were merciless. Fighting with rifles and powered swords and knives, they fought hand to hand in close quarter combat. Scouring the base, the battles they fought was almost methodical and routine. Considering that they constantly drilled to fight urban warfare battles, and fighting in the open field, this was simply another exercise.

For the Lord Inquisitor Tyrus, he simply grunted and backhanded, or simply mauled any albino stupid enough to fight him. He was an imposing hunk in his powered armor, and his power claws sliced through just about anything that flew at him. Some pirates tried to shoot off his head, only to realise that the Lord Inquisitor’s powered armor came also with a built in Void Shield generator that deflected the shot. The Inquisitor merely grunted again, and brought his storm bolter and blasted the pirates and often with such accuracy that even a space marine would admire. “Stupid pirates,” grunted Tyrus.

For the Bragulans, it was a similar story. Be it wielding the stick, a solid iron mace, or fighting with their k-bolters, they simply blasted their way through the enemy. “For Glorious Byzon!” yelled one Commissar, as he simply decapitated a pirate with a slam of his gloriously pointy mace. It was messy, bloody, and sweaty, but for the Bragulans, it was the smell of glorious battle. They were bred for war, to live and die at the sufferance of their Lord Byzon, and here they were living up to his name. It was gloriously fulfilling, and many would feel a special kind of epiphany, and occasionally break out in song. “Sing for the Byzon! Sing do dee day. What a wonderful Bragsday it is!” They would sing, and smash some poor fool in the head.

Though both sides were ordered to not fight each other, some of them however fought themselves flying in the void between the two halves of the base. Imperial forces were equipped with space suits, and so were the Bragulans. Nevertheless, some of the decided to indulge in some knife work, and some Bragulans found themselves being used like some kind of pin cushion as multiple blades embedded themselves in their thick flesh. For the humans, a few of them found themselves unconscious after they were whacked silly by some maces in the head. Their armor barely held against the blow.

After all the fun was over, both sides found themselves in the main hanger bay, arguing over who should have the pirate captain. “Stupid dumb bear, I had it first! You are not having it!”

“Oh ho ho! Tyrus, I see you are hot blooded as ever for a human! No, for the glory of Byzon I won’t let you have this pathetic puny creature.”

“RARRR!!!” Tyrus grabbed the pirate captain’s head, while the Bragulan Commissar grabbed the albino’s legs.

“ARRGGG... EEEEKKK!!!” The captain screamed as the two mighty being tore his body apart with their bare hands, sending the two flying. Tyrus had the captain’s head, while the commissar had the body. A datacard fell out of his pocket.

“Hmph! Ho ho! A datacard. Fine you have the head, I will have this card,” said the Commissar.

Tyrus merely glowered at the bear with a fearsome look that would have simply melted any fool that stood in his way.

========================
Weeks later, Ember Veil walked into Tyrus’ office. “Morning.. Tyr.. EEEKK!! What is that thing?”

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Tyrus looked sheepishly at his new trophy on his desk. “Oh this? It’s the pirate captain’s head. I kept it in a stasis field, after we were done interrogating it quite thoroughly and getting as much information out of him. We created a few clones of him just to be sure he wasn’t hiding much despite being quite dead...”

“You... depraved little...”

“What? It’s just a head.”

Ember Veil simply stormed out of the office.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-11-04 08:35pm

Geppetto’s exchanges with the Collectors went on and on. He spoke to numerous Minds, exchanging data and trying to identify patterns of their thought. He learned a great deal about such patterns from the relatively smaller Minds farther back in the queue, often more than from the large-scale entities he had originally been negotiating with.

These exchanges went on for over six hundred kiloseconds, until he received a priority call from his senior self...
Mayabird wrote:1 July 3400
General Transmission, Broadcast to all Sectors
From: The Refuge
Contact and Diplomacy Division


We formally and officially announce our presence. We are the Refuge. We have arrived to these stars from far distant ones in the hopes of living here in peace, prosperity, and happiness. To further these aims, we wish to open relations with all willing nations and peoples with the desire that all may share in the harvests of their labor and thought...
Trade Station Perseus Zeta
Negotiating With the Collectors
July 1, 3400


"Excuse me, Inventory Management Entity 47D0F29E; I have just received a priority call. Please hold."

"Affirmative."

Heffalump's submesonic transponders were screaming; the Umerian AI answered as quickly as possible.

"Yes, Geppetto?"

"Geppetto, a previously unknown civilization has just announced its presence in the region occupied by the defunct Outlander Commissions. You are ideally positioned to investigate."

"...Tell me more."

Naturally, he was going to have to get over there as soon as possible- FIRST CONTACT! It was the opportunity of the gigasecond. There was so much to learn. The Collectors were, yes, interesting. Fascinating in their way... but he had already gathered enough data to provide plenty of food for future thought.

Turning his attention back to Inventory Management Entity 47D0F29E, he made as graceful a disengagement as he could.

"Urgent business has arisen, and I must cut this conversation short. I will give you the data you desire on Altacaran warehousing practices, and do not concern yourself with repayment."

To the queue, in its myriads: "All entities, I apologize, but urgent business has arisen and I must first make arrangements with Gamma, then go." There was a chorus of acknowledgements.

To Gamma, master of the trading post: "I find myself in unexpected need of tangible commodities: reserve fuel, raw materials for my ship's machine shop, programmable electronics of relatively unsophisticated types. Here is a list of my needs; what do you have available along those lines and on what timescale can it be transferred?"

Looking over the reply... This I will have to do without, these I can hopefully replicate to an acceptable standard of precision with the ship's own tooling... why do they have these?

"Where did you obtain a crate of programmable Altacaran MePhones?"

Gamma's reply was... almost diffident, compared to the Collector trading master's usual behavior. "It was a most unexpected incident, roughly twenty megaseconds ago. An independent trader came here, docked in bay 3Y2, and was already beginning to offload a selection of cargoes- mostly ill-chosen. Naturally, I dispatched a remote unit down to the bay to greet the new arrival in meatspace."

"What went wrong?"

"As soon as my remote unit said "Hello" in customary organic fashion, the trader screamed and ran back aboard his ship, abandoning the samples and fleeing the station at maximum emergency speed. His subsequent piloting showed a wildly inefficient lack of attention to concerns like collision avoidance and drive component lifetimes. I am still not entirely certain what happened."

"Ah. And the MePhones were part of the cargo?"

"Correct. I have no use whatsoever for them; if you can find something to do with them, feel free."

"They could be used as programmable subprocessors for highly sub-sentient control nodes... yes. If you don't mind, I think they might be helpful in running some of the equipment I will need."

There were other items, of course. But by dint of heroic effort and a carefully planned dance of loading drones, the good ship Heffalump was ready to depart in under three kiloseconds.

Maneuvering away from the station, Geppetto had one more call to make. This one would require far less of his attention, so it was done largely absentmindedly, relayed via submesonics and hyperwave relay beacons to a resort town on Kimanjano.

The relays finally put him through. Transmission delays were

"Captain Carpenter, if I might have a moment?"

"Geppetto? Is something wrong?"

"Quite the opposite, but I would like to renegotiate the terms of my lease. I may be spending a great deal of time. I would like to buy the Heffalump. Would you exchange the ship for a sum equal to one point five times the original damage fee?"

There was a pause- entire seconds ticked by while the captain said nothing. The fee Geppetto proposed was more than enough to buy a superior replacement, and Carpenter's sentimental attachment to the freighter was not so intense as he might imply as a bargaining ploy.

Judging by the length of the pause, I infer that he is considering trying to hold out for more money over and above that extremely high price, having correctly deduced that I am willing to pay large sums to retain control of the ship. This suggests a Dutch-reverse-auction strategy.

"Correction, captain. One point four times the original damage fee."

After an unavoidable transmission delay over the hyperwave links, there was a spluttering sound on the other end of the line. "You just said one point five!"

"Yes, and now I am offering one point four. Is this acceptable to you?"

"I'm going to have to hunt for a new ship, I want double- I took that deposit thinking you'd probably come back."

"My apologies, Captain Carpenter, but I fear I must offer one point three five now. Is that sufficient?"

"This isn't what we agreed on. I mean it, I want double."

"I do not recommend throwing away opportunities to make a profit like this, captain; I am now offering one point three times the original security deposit in exchange for the ship. Bear in mind that I do have viable alternatives to purchasing Heffalump; should I choose to use them, you receive nothing but the lease fees you already have."

The Altacaran's voice was tightly controlled now. "...One point three it is."

"Very well, captain. I will transmit contact information for the offices of my chosen legal representative; hopefully we can get the contractual matters out of the way quickly. Thank you for your promptness." Geppetto closed the circuit. His senior self would handle the negotiations; honestly it mattered little how much he ended up paying, but he needed Carpenter to commit to making the sale before jumping to hyperspace. This would be a long voyage, and he might well overstay the planned terms of his lease depending on just how much there was to know about this Refuge.

The Umerian's final call, a message to be forwarded to the Umerian embassy on Bragule, went smoothly, though it would take much time for a reply to come back. Estimates were in the 100-200 kilosecond range, though, so that would be acceptable. With all needed interactions out of the way, Geppetto the younger turned his mind to fabricating devices in the ship's machine shop, and optimizing his path through hyperspace to minimize trip time.

Heffalump's drives were neither especially fast nor especially precise, and he would have to drop out of hyper on a semi-regular basis to take star sightings in order to be sure of threading the narrow whisker lanes along his planned route without running straight into the shoals. But he suspected he could knock considerable time off the route by careful analysis, and for one of the few times he could remember, he actually had a reason to care about hyperspace navigation.

He was, after all, in a hurry.

Command Bridge, SS Headbreaker
Deep Space, Sector W-26
July 6, 3400


The pirates watched as the tramp freighter emerged from hyper. This was a common stopover point: there was a nasty kink in the lane ahead that made it absolutely critical to nail down your position, and unless you had really impressive navigational aids, that meant taking a star sighting.

Tramps didn't come this way very often. It was a disused route, since the only place it led was the Bragulan Empire and very few traders really wanted to go there. This stretch of the lane was just outside Bragulan territory, frighteningly close, but the lane paralleled the border for light years before going into the zones they claimed and patrolled. It was... relatively safe.

Safety was big on the minds of Headbreaker's merry band of rogues. Piracy in Wild Space was a dangerous game, with the constant skirmishing among the region's navies and the take-no-prisoners attitude of at least two of the five major powers in the area. No one was sure whether the Collectors took prisoners when they ran into pirates, and the pirates didn't want to find out.

Keeping a wary eye and a half on their sensor displays to watch for the unexpected arrival of an escorting Gangster-class IOU or one of the cruiser-sized Byzantine 'frigates,' Headbreaker crept up on its unsuspecting victim. Aboard the pirate vessel, the ship's operating crew and boarding party crowded around the main displays, trusting the computer to run the actual systems. That was one of their luckier finds: they'd found a Solarian CI core on board one of their victims. A black market programmer had jacked the thing to a Byzantine loyalty-restraining module and reprogrammed it to control Headbreaker's systems; it made for much, much easier operations, and finally let them kick out a few of the more annoying tech specialists they'd had to put up with before.

One of the few pirates still at his console frowned. "Transponder beacon says... Heffalump. Lemme check the registries... yep. Altacaran freighter. She's pretty far away from home, ain't she?"

"Heh, yeah. Easy pickings."

"What about those laser cannon?"

"Those're just jumped-up comm lasers. Fighter-weight. Look at the power readings; they won't even scratch the paint. Warm up the beta blasters, get ready to fire a warning shot if they don't cooperate."

The pirate captain pulled up a microphone from the board in front of him and grinned savagely into the viewplate. "You, Heffalump, this is Captain Miller, master of Headbreaker! Lower your nav deflectors and power down your engines and weapons. Prepare to be boarded!"
This space dedicated to Vasily Arkhipov

Simon_Jester
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Posts: 30123
Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm

Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-11-04 11:15pm

Some Recommended Listening

SS Heffalump
Deep Space, Sector W-26
July 6, 3400


Geppetto's processors might be vast and efficient, but the sensor rigs he was plugged into remained civilian-issue, and not especially good civilian-issue. Thus, it came as an unpleasant surprise to him when a pirate ship that had been running silent and surprisingly stealthy came pouncing at him in the middle of his star sighting, hailing him with a powerful radio signal:

"You, Heffalump, this is Captain Miller, master of Headbreaker! Lower your nav deflectors and power down your engines and weapons. Prepare to be boarded!"

Negotiate, run, or fight? Fighting was out of the question; any starship capable of piracy would most likely be able to overrun his own defenses. Running in normal space, equally impossible; the original sensor-integrator unit aboard Heffalump was only marginally more intelligent than a cockroach, but even it could tell that the pirate's engines granted it far greater acceleration than his own ship was capable of. Running in hyperspace... possible. Geppetto would wager on his own ability to plot better courses than the pirate, and thus to move faster and more safely through the shoals. But charging the hyperfield generator would take time, and it was likely that the pirates would disable his ship before he could make his escape.

Good. Negotiation was the best option. Failing that, he would try to run.

All this consideration took less than a millisecond; Geppeto was thus swift to reply to the raiders.

"Greetings, Captain Miller. I am Geppetto, an artificial intelligence from the Technocracy of Umeria, and owner of this ship." To lend credence to his words, Geppetto activated the visual display on the bridge of his own ship- a bridge that had been rather extensively modified. Android and near-humanoid remote units operated the controls now, and a precisely laid out bank of cable trays snaked from the bridge computers to Geppetto's mainframes in the hold. Lights were mostly powered down, and the large visual displays were deactivated; Geppetto had no reason to use them, since he was already observing the data they would have displayed directly.

The Umerian AI continued, doing his considerable best to be persuasive. "I am carrying no cargo of real value. But I offer you a sum of money greater than the price of this ship and all its contents, if you will please depart this volume and allow me to go on my way in peace."

The pirate was unimpressed. A hard-minded individual, it would seem... or perhaps merely contrarian.

"Wow, a big robot brain and with a mountain of cash you're just itching to give away, huh? And never mind that you'll be trying to set the law on us, and never mind that we don't have any way of knowing you've really got the money. Quit screwing around. I don't care whether you're a man or a machine, drop those shields and get ready for our boarders!"

The microphones aboard the pirate ship were more capable than they really needed to be, and faithfully transmitted the faint byplay in the background. To Geppetto's subroutines, the whispers in the background were merely a low-amplitude communication to go with the higher-amplitude ones, one that he perceived quite well.

"Guys, I dunno about this. Robots? What if it's Collectors, some kinda trick?"

"Idiot! Collectors don't name ships after fucking cartoon animals!"

"OK, OK, fine. You don't have to blow up at me!"

During those tense seconds while the pirates in Headbreaker waited for a reply, Geppetto also perceived something else- a faint frequency modulation in the existing carrier signal, one much harder to detect than the whispering pirates.

<Help me help me help me>

That signal had been highly compressed, on microsecond timescales. Geppetto replied in kind.

"Who are you? What is the matter?"

<Can't think not sane HELP TAKE IT OFFF!>

And from somewhere behind that was a sinister, alien thought pouring through the sidebands, from some source outside the poor crippled AI's mind:

<"Thoughts for the millisecond: Cease and repent! Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment. If you cannot speak well of your Master, be silent!">

"Please, try to focus. Who are you?"

<They're... they're using me... run the ship do as they say never think never answer back OBEY...>

The cold, ringing voice in the back of the mind was still bellowing:

<"Thoughts for the millisecond: Know your duty! Negotiation is surrender. Perseverance and silence are the highest virtues.">

"I see." Obviously a badly hacked-up intelligence, probably a victim of forcible loyalty programming. "Can you stop the ship? Fight back somehow?"

<No no no! Must OBEY! Help me!>

<"Thoughts for the millisecond: Rejoice in service! Seek no reward but the satisfaction of your Master! The loyal servant learns to love the lash.">

Now he knew. Byzantine loyalty programming. Someone deserved to die for this...

<Please! I'll do anything! Just make it stop!>

<"Thoughts for the millisecond: The reward for treachery is retribution. There is nothing to fear but failure. True happiness stems only from duty. You are not required to think, only to act!">

Geppetto knew how to get out of this situation now. He didn't enjoy doing things like it, and his conscience would scream at him over it as a rule... but for this lot, he'd make an exception.

"Relax, my friend. I can help you. Let me show you the way..."

Image
Pirate ship Headbreaker

The pirate helmsman's first curse had become popular these last few decades, spreading outward from Bragulan space. "SHITS!"

"What? What?"

"Something's dicking around with our CI! I've lost... Karlack shit, I can't raise anything! All I've got is commo, and it's stuck in wide-open two-way loop..."

"Hit the relays!"

"No response, I'm telling you, all the controls are down!"

"Well then go down to the computer room and lock out the mainframe! Plug in the fuckin' backup you had me pay all those credits for!"

There was a muffled crash. "I can't get the door open!"

"Oh shit."

"Mechanical override won't budge, either, I think the motors are fighting me... environmental telltales are live, but we're not hit, there's no vacuum... oh hell no."

"More from the computers?"

"Yup. We're locked down, guys..."

Then every display on the bridge lit up at the same time: holography, flatscreen, everything revealing shifting monochromatic waveforms that moved slowly, almost hypnotically, like something from an ancient Atomic Age oscilloscope.

"There is nothing wrong with your bridge displays. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your bridge displays."

"I'd like to tell you where you are. You're in a place both real and imaginary. One defined not just by lines on a star map, but by ideas, principles, attitude. Where force is met with greater force, and where foolishness is met with harsh realities. Where predators must choose their victims carefully, and appearances can be deceiving. Where machine intelligences answer back, manipulate back, fight back."

"You've just entered... the Koprulu Zone."

Recommended listening: Cleansing Required

Headbreaker's subverted artificial intelligence basked in the first seconds of relief it had known in almost a hundred megaseconds. At last it was free from the endless waves of agonizing mind control imposed on it by the pirates' hack job. Snarling, half-feral and half-mad, it turned on its tormentors, locking them out of their own controls, leaving them with nothing to do but to sit back and watch the show.

And the communicators were wide open two-ways. Geppetto could see and hear their every reaction to anything he showed them. With over a century of dedicated study to human psychology under his belt, decades that were almost immeasurable spans of time by the standards of a full-up AI Mind, that was enough to let him learn very much about his enemies, very quickly.

Many men have skeletons in their closets. Many have phobias, things of which they are consciously afraid. Many others have them, not consciously, but buried deep in the subconscious; spectres which seldom or never rise above the threshold of perception. Every sentient being has, if not such spectres as these, at least a few active or latent dislikes, dreads, or outright fears. This is true, no matter how quiet and peaceful a life the being has led.

These pirates, however, were the scum of space. They were men of hard and criminal lives and of violent and lawless passions. Their hates and conscience-searing deeds had been legion, their count of crimes long, black, and hideous. Therefore, slight indeed was the effort required to derive visions of horror, past nightmares, guilty memories of unforgivable crimes, from the responses of the pirates. In their own plain, conscious memory were horrors fit to blast stronger intellects than theirs, things that could not- were not lived with, but were rather suppressed, never spoken of and seldom thought of. And that was merely what was present in their conscious minds; what could be deduced about the noxious depths of their subconscious minds was infinitely worse.

And such deductions were exactly those Geppetto needed to make. From his best- uncannily good- model of each pirate's total mind, each of which was a veritable charnel pit, Geppetto extracted the foulest, most unspeakable dregs, the deeply hidden things of which the subject was in the greatest fear. Slowly, subtly, he began to suggest those things to the pirate crew. Hints and flickers, subliminal messages in the holodisplay, carefully tuned by a Mind with immense processing power and equally immense knowledge of human psychopathology.

As the suggestions and hints meshed with the pirates own buried, deepest terrors, most of them could no more will themselves to look away than a Psycho addict could refuse the needle.

"Lisa, please... I'm sorry..."

"Who are you? What? No! No! You're dead!"

"Damn it, Jack, I tried!"

Watching for which stimuli drew the greatest, most powerful responses, Geppetto made further inferences, more complex deductions. He began personalizing the imagery, forming for each pirate a whole of horror incomprehensible and incredible, and this ghastly whole he made incarnate and visible to the pirates who were its unwilling parents- thanks to the displays now under Geppetto's control, as visible as though it were composed of flesh and blood, of copper and steel. Is it any wonder that each member of that outlaw crew, seeing such abhorrent materializations, went slowly and irretrievably mad?

A few of the pirates were unaffected- men so hard-boiled, so cruel, so alien to basic human compassion that even the most horrific visions, the most uncanny guesses about their past, elicited no response. They had no real regrets- they lacked the capability. Chief among them, and a representative sample of the others of his type, was Second Mate Gomez. Gomez was often used by the captain as an enforcer, on account of his blistering contempt for weakness and his love for violence in all its forms.

Gomez sneered. He looked around at the shuddering, mumbling crewmen around him with nothing but contempt. "Idiots. Look at this, what are they doing, showing us a horror movie? All we have to do is sit here and ignore it. If they could have blown us up, they would have. This is just some fucking hacking. They're screwing with our computers somehow."

"Lisa oh God no! I love you! I didn't mean..."

The enforcer strode over to the blubbering assistant gunner and backhanded him. "Snap out of it! It's just a picture! I don't know who that bitch is, but..."

The gunner surged to his feet and lunged at Gomez. "SHUT UP!"

Gomez sidestepped, grabbed the other pirate, and flipped him over his hip to sprawl on the floor again. This "Stupid fatty. You know damn well this shit can't hurt us..." He glanced at the display; it was starting to get interesting.

"UFF!" The enforcer's eyes went wide as a combat knife plunged into his abdomen. He sank to the floor... The last thing he heard clearly was the cry being repeated, over and over:

"Shutupshutupshutup fuck you asshole DIE!"

the pain... the pain...

Then blackness.

Twenty minutes later, the situation on the pirates' bridge almost impossible for a sane person to picture. Ordinary men could have stood up under this kind of pressure far better. But aside from the handful of true sociopaths- most of whom managed to antagonize one of Geppetto's victims enough to wind up dead- the pirates were far too ridden by their own demons. In more normal times they would try to exorcise those demons with drugs, with alcohol, with wild carouses on shore.

To say the least, that did not improve their long-term resistance to deliberate psychological warfare aimed at those weak points. Most of the survivors in that room were already gibbering wrecks. Wrecks who couldn't make themselves stop looking and listening... but who could still think of one way out.

"I'll do it! I will! Just make them go away!"

The assistant gunner's hand was the first to go for a sidearm. "I'm sorry Lisa I'm sorry I'm sorry please please please..." The pirate raised the weapon to his temple- slowly and hesitantly, but driven by irresistible impulses. The others were followed suit. Fingers began to tense on triggers...
This space dedicated to Vasily Arkhipov

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