National Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To NPCs

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May 012009
 

What if the NPCs that gamers so wantonly destroy got organized…?


I was a wreck, a shambles… nerves shot, I tell ya! Without the kind ministry of the NSPCNPC, I couldn’t even tell you this horror story without a belly full of the hard stuff and a half yard of linen for snottin’ on.

Me and me lads were just having a piss-up ’round the pub, when in walks this weird group of richies and their hulking bodyguard. Never seen such armor and fine, shining steel. –And who wears armor to the pub, anyway? But I digress….

So’s anyway, the tart of the group–a fine-enough looking wench dressed like she’s planning to work upstairs at the Speckled Hen, if ya ken–sidles up and asks me and the lads if we’d like a bit of work for a few days. Yeah, right, we’ll “work” for ya–nudge, nudge. The bodyguard didn’t much take to our little jokes, and we were about to tell ’em all to sod off, but this skinny, shifty-eyed bloke in the group drops a heavy looking sack of dosh onna table and tells us to be ready to leave at dawn. Fair enough–we could drink until dawn, easily; done it most week’s ends.

And so it’s now dawn, we’re a bit the worse for drink but can still shift the packs we’re given to haul, and the group leads us up into the hills. And then into a bloody cave–no, really, they did, I’m not takin’ the piss! We din’ even know there was caves in the hills, ’cause most good folk know better than to muck about up there, what with the wolves and bears and such. But, hey, we’d drank half our pay already, so it wasn’t like we could pay these barmy blokes back and leave! And the bodyguard woulda likely skewered us on his improbably sized sword, if’n we’d just tried runnin’ off. SO… Some torches, a bit of roping together, and we become speelunkers.

That when the first horror struck–some fell beast or such, like we’d never seen… and poor Barney–the fella with the big jowls and rheumy eyes that used to live over west?–that’s when he was took. Split right in two, like a sausage for pan-frying, and there’s blood all over everyfing. I was set for quittin’ right then, but the beady-eyed bastard what paid us starts waving around a nasty little pig-sticker, and it seems we’re in for the long haul. But, hey, at least our shares in the pay had just gone up! Gotta find the silver lining, not to pun ya.

It never got any better after that, though. Freddie the Fisher was told to open an odd-looking door–don’t ask me why there’s a bloody fooking DOOR in some old caves!–and he lets out this sort of soft sigh and just slumps to the ground, deader’n last years Christmas goose. Turns out some right bastard had hid some kinda thorn or some-such, with a narsty poison onnit, behind the door pull… and it was Freddie’s day in the barrel, like they say.

Should I go on to recount, in gory detail, how Stew was disemboweled by some kinda bear with the head of a fookin’ BIRD? Or how Little Mark was made to lead the way down a corridor and got pin-cushioned by bleedin’ arrows flying outta the damned WALLS?! Or Frank from Bogend being crushed under a cave-in when he was told to poke and prod at some squiggle-marked wall with a stave?

I still hear their screams, though I can at least sleep through the night, now, thanks to the NSPCNPC. But I don’t think I’ll EVER get over the fact that the bastard “adventurers” raked in a haul of lucre enough to feed a family of ten for 50 years, were lauded as heroes by the smallfolk back in town, and ended up shagging every virgin left in the county! It’s a bad world, I reckon; and the worser the crew, the better their lot. Here we’d lost six of our stoutest lads–all with families to feed and plots to work–and I’d’ve been left in that pit with them if I hadn’t been just a wee bit lighter on my feet than Little Mark. Want to see my “share” of the take…? Here, take a long look at the right arm I ain’t got anymore!

It could happen to you. Support the NSPCNPC.


I am known as Hallal, The All-Devourer! [not real name] Kneel before me and beg that I might merely make you a slave!

Before the NSPCNPC, my glorious fortress was incessantly broken into, pillaged, and sometimes even woefully damaged by thrill-seeking, greedy miscreants! Swine in clattering armor and crackling robes! Sure, some would profess being begged to assault my property and person because of… minor disagreements with some of my neighbors in the village in the vale. But who are these foreigners to dictate terms to Hallal?!? Who are they to meddle in mere internal politics and issues of proper sacrifice schedules, availability of virgins, and eminent domain?

Well, as it turns out, they’re foreigners with extensive resources, rather advanced educations, and apparently some contacts with deities. Err, that is, deities LESSER THAN I, THE ALL-DEVOURER!!!

And, so, unbelievable as it may seem, I was made to suffer discorporation and the painful and time-consuming degradation of finding a new vic–um, assistant–to enjoy the hospitality of their mortal form. I treat such host forms quite well–after all, su casa me casa, no?–and I even entertain petitions from what’s left of their minds, every fourth full moon. It’s an amenable relationship to all concerned: I live, they don’t get devoured.

Then I must make my way back to my desmense, COMPLETELY restaff, effect repairs to my walls and internal security measures… the costs are atrocious, and an All-Devourer KNOWS what that word means. Just for another pack of interlopers to muck it all up again!

But all that ended when I joined the NSPCNPC. Their attorneys have issued restraining orders on the local villagers and sued the village’s mayor for slander and libel, which provided me with a timely leg-up on expanding my labor base to better-patrol the grounds surrounding my fell keep. And should yet-another wayward party of murderous ideologues come around, the NSPCNPC provides temp solutions for a variety of pest-repellent professions.

My home has never been safer, nor more peaceful. Well… for me, that is. You, not so much….

Dec 051999
 

The Veelab Species

Overview

The Veelab species is an alien culture which evolved on a jovian planet’s largest moon—a frigid, barren planetoid with nearly no atmosphere and a primarily metal crust. Scraping themselves up from the primordial ooze of their dim-witted ancestry, the Veelab learned to shape their bodies—and the bodies of their vanquished cousins—to resist the rigors of the wasted planet. Since developing space flight, they have gone on to colonize other “ice ball” planets, asteroids, and even some comets.

Veelab are intelligent, shape-shifting, colloid-based blobs that live in massive, planet-encompassing colonies which they call “Choruses.” They are able to thrive in the harsh climes of their origins (as well as in those humans would call “tropical desert”) through careful physical cooperation and a strict class system that is a combination of theocracy and coral reef.

Each Veelabling is trained from the moment it leaves its birthing vestibule to perform one of four primary duties for The Chorus (also called a planet-being):

  • morph into a wide vacuum-tight panel, absorbing sunlight while sealing the planet-being from hard radiation and pressure (called “Guarders”);
  • flex and climb about the planet-being, transferring liquids and mitochondria-like energy cells to the other classes (called “Gilders”);
  • manipulate crust materials to construct objects and morph its own body to supports the kilometers-deep mass of the planet-being (called “Girders”);
  • conduct off-planet missions in search of knowledge and sensations, morphing into forms acceptable to the source species or necessary for survival (called “Æsthetes”).

Most Veelab spend their entire 100 year adult lives in service of—and in harmony with—The Chorus, never knowing any sensation other than the slippery, warm pressure of neighboring Girders or the sticky sweetness of passing Gilders. They use “The Song” to keep in touch with the rest of the planet-being—a constant background harmonic vibration through the entire world that is communication system, legislature, educational system, and theatre simultaneously. Each Chorus comes the closest any culture of living things can to being a gestalt mind. Not a hive mind: each Veelab is as individual as a snowflake, within the context of its main social role.

The role of the highly-adaptable Æsthete class is that of diplomat, purchasing agent, and poet laureate for its Chorus. Bred as a mingling of each Veelab class, they are morphable as Gilders, yet capable of being as resilient and photo-sensitive as Guarders. As soon as it is ready, each Æsthete Veelab is equipped only with its Vod-dpah and sent forth to travel the stars, find the unique and engaging and “un-Veelab,” and return with Songs of it to its Chorus….

Sizes

Guarders ~150kg, 2m3 (9m2 x 4cm thick and rigid when Guarding)
Gilders ~90kg, 1.5m3 to 3m3 (amorphous gel when Gilding)
Girders ~80kg, 1 m3 (rigid tetrahedral lattice when Girding)
Æsthete ~130kg, 1.5m3 to 3m3 (amorphous and variably textured)

Senses

Guarders Photosynthetic receptors can be arrayed for rudimentary sight in the “mid-blue” to ultraviolet range of the spectrum.
Gilders “Mitochondria-like” organelles can be arrayed for rudimentary sight in the infrared range of the spectrum.
Girders “Mitochondria-like” organelles can be arrayed for rudimentary sight in the infrared range of the spectrum. Internal “motion-sensor” organelles provide extreme vibration sensitivity.
Æsthete Photosynthetic receptors can be arrayed for very poor sight in the “mid-blue” to ultraviolet range of visible light. “Mitochondria-like” organelles can be arrayed for rudimentary sight in the infrared range of the spectrum.
All Endoplasm can be made sensitive enough to hear extremely low and high frequency vibrations. Endoplasm can be made malleable enough to feel very subtle textures. Absorbed chemicals can be discriminated with a canine’s sense of smell/taste.

Ingestion

Guarders Light and nitrogen (N2) for photosynthesis (can transfer heat energy to Gilders).
Gilders and Girders Heat energy and oxygen (O2) (transfer heat energy freely to other Veelab).
Æsthete Heat energy, chemical energy (internal absorption of cellular matter), light, O2, H2, and/or N2 —depending upon whether using photosynthesis, digestion, respirations, or a combination.

Reproduction

From one to eight (this is considered by Veelab to be only a reasonable limit, not a theoretical one) non-Æsthete Veelab enter a birthing vestibule. They leave later. Don’t ask for further details. Two years later, a Veelabling emerges, already partly pre-disposed to a certain Veelab sub-physiology.

Lifecycle

Gestation in two years, maturation and primary education in ten years, adult for 100 years, “Sat-Tya-Tsin” (roamer within the planet-being) for remaining twenty to forty years of life. Consumed by Gilders upon death.

Psychology

All but the Æsthete class are shy and avoid non-Veelab, but they are generally understood to be reserved, contemplative, slow-going beings.

The Æsthete Veelab, however, are gregarious, out-going, boisterous, and brash. Since they are always questing for the unique, sublime, or exciting, they are driven and energetic to a fault. Coupled with their tendencies to be obsessive about a particular field of research or art, they can be exhausting companions. Their confidence and competence in times of crisis, however, offsets their madcap natures often enough to make them valuable allies.

Technology

The Veelab have developed extensive architectural, sonic, and chemical sciences, but their physical adaptability dissuades them from expanding sciences into—for them—useless areas. Their principle unique development, in the space sciences, is the Vod-dpah: a semi-symbiotic device that is a collection of metal tubes, genengineered sacs, and polymer bottles that resembles nothing so much as a bagpipe designed by H.R. Geiger.

A Vod-dpah is usable only by Veelab because they must absorb portions of the Vod-dpah into its body, leaving certain tubes and sacs exposed. With this configuration, the Vod-dpah will allow a Veelab to jet powerful (or not), heated (or not) gases in complex sequences. This mechanism can be used as a flame-throwing weapon, a jet-pack (in low gravities), a welding tool, a cutting tool, and even a life-support system (for Veelab and species with similar heat, pressure, and air requirements). It also contains a basic multimedia recording computer and large data storage cells (which interface directly with the Veelab’s sensorium, for maximum fidelity). With it, an Æsthete or Guarder Veelab can break from the gravity of a planet-being’s world and patrol nearby space (as long as it, of course, morphs its endoplasm into a pressure seal). It is in this way that Veelab Æsthetes can reach orbital facilities, where they morph into humanoid form to conduct business (and pleasure) in the Lattice.

Communication

Ultra- to hyper-sonic transmission and echoing across the whole planet (similar to whales of Earth). “Touch” language of the Veelab (unique, requires shape-shifting ability to attain fluency). Limited radio and light communications system for solar-system-wide comms (anything more interferes with The Song).

Culture

As near to a gestalt mind as possible without telepathy. Religion, government, entertainment, family, commerce, strife: for the Veelab, all this occurs in The Song of The Chorus. Few Veelab can be away from their Chorus for long. Few want to be.

They colonize only as space for a new Chorus is needed. They do all that they can to avoid warfare with other species, since they are very vulnerable as planet-beings. For this reason—and to encourage hospitality for their Æsthetes—they make scandalously goods deals on the music, sculpture, and chemicals that they export to the other races of the Lattice. This generosity (and the quality of their goods) encourages most of the peoples of the Lattice to give Veelab planet-beings a wide berth, and their emissaries a comfortable trip through the Worlds.

Hyt-tyl-tyl-bas (“Number Twenty-Four”)

Æsthete of the Segillut-4 Chorus

Age – 20 Standard Years physical / 72 Relative Years actual

Mass – 120kg

Typical Appearance– Stocky, gray-skinned male humanoid, bald, with huge green eyes and bushy-seeming green eyebrows (both are, in fact, clusters of photosensitive organelles pushed near to his skin).

Base or Relaxed Appearance – Translucent to transparent, milky gelatinous mass with small, granular organelles floating around inside.

Abilities

Each Æsthete Veelabling is trained in the Common language, diplomacy, history, music, and art.

Equipped with, and trained in the use of, the Veelab Vod-dpah (see Veelab Species above).

At A Glance

Æsthete Hyt-tyl-tyl-bas is a “typical” Veelab Æsthete. He (for lack of a suitable gender pronoun) is on tour in the Lattice, gathering sensations and songs for his home Chorus. Though he has no itinerary, per se, he hopes to enrich his planet-being’s knowledge of current events in the “neighborhood,” and will thus seek out “hot spots” rather than “centers of culture” when given a choice.

An eager Æsthete, Hyt-tyl-tyl-bas has a zest for life that borders on seeming lunacy. He tends towards overzealous pursuit of excitement and adventure, often at great risk without ever realizing it. He is jocular, overly-trusting, noisy, and often brash—but generally endearing more than annoying to those whom he befriends. If any part of his personality could be said to be “dark” or “closed,” it is his attitude towards his Vod-dpah: he is terrified of its destructive potential and avoids it being seen by the public, least they fear him as much as he fears it. He uses it only when he must, and has yet to use it on a living being.

Strengths

  • Genial and likeable. Perceptive.
  • Shape-shifting (not doppelganger-like. He will always be motley-colored and lumpy, have cartoon-like facial features effected by pushing internal organelles into configuration near the surface of his skin, have just enough control to have stubby hands, and have octopus-like rigidity control).
  • Amphibious (endoplasm can absorb needed gases—O2, N2 or H2, by choice—from appropriate hydrospheres and atmospheres).
  • Excellent hearing and sense of smell (via “tuning” of endoplasm).
  • Feeds on light (through endoplasm) and cellular energy (through absorption of live animal or plant cells for internal breakdown).
  • Immune to pressure extremes (endoplasm hardens into a gray shell).
  • No need to breathe (until Vod-dpah sacs and bottles drain). Can configure to share with someone else, assuming “human-standard” respiration requirements.
  • Vectored flight in low to null gravity (until Vod-dpah sacs and bottles drain).
  • Flame-thrower/ welder/ cutting torch/ lantern (until Vod-dpah sacs and bottles drain).
  • Can recharge Vod-dpah (requires some time, light, and above gases or liquids).

Weaknesses

  • Overly-trusting. Gullible.
  • Overconfident. Ignorant of the variety and swiftness of the dangers in the world.
  • Extreme distinctive features (cartoonish, lumpy humanoid usually; gooey to shell-like exterior of a variety of shapes at other times).
  • Very poor (infra)vision (sees about 20/80 with special configuration of its heat- and photosensitive organelles).
  • Extremely vulnerable to ingested and insinuative poisons (if his skin isn’t in “shell mode,” any contact or gas poison has a particularly effective transfer through his endoplasm).
  • Extremely sensitive to loud noises (imagine if your whole skin got “deafened!”).
  • Sexless (this could be a “Zero Sum,” but it seems like it would be a disadvantage more often than not in a variety of social situations).
  • Suffers from motion sickness (personal problem, not a Veelab trait; Hyt must absorb appropriate pills prior to fast driving, air flight, zero gee, heavy acceleration, or extreme altitude changes).
  • Fears the responsibility and “stigmata” of the Vod-dpah.

The Unseen Eye

 Fiction, Writing  Comments Off on The Unseen Eye
Jun 051999
 

Greetings, curious readers.

This installment of “The Unseen Eye” is a special release. Since my seminal exposé on Senator Grofwitz’s ties to local Mafioso, the question on the minds of all readers of The Washington Post has been, I imagine with due modesty, “who is the Unseen Eye?” Well this article is going to answer that question once and for all, even if it never reaches publication, out of my fear of reprisals.

In beginning, I feel that it is important to note that this brief autobiography is by no means complete or comprehensive. I intend only to explain how I came to be one of the most insidious investigative reporters in Washington, not to tell my entire life’s story, complete with footnotes. Perhaps my life will become interesting enough to warrant thorough attention—after all, the chances of that happening have increased a hundredfold with my Eruption—but for the time being, it will suffice to simply tell the story of how I came to be a nova and why I have chosen this profession over the other lucrative options open to one of my abilities.

Prior to March 23, 2008—the first day of spring and, yea, my rebirth—my life was almost embarrassingly uneventful. My youth is best forgotten: no more than a succession of typical schooling, academic awards, and beatings by bullies. Sure, I had dreams like any other snotty-nosed kid with no knowledge of the world’s machinations. I went from yearning to be a famous novelist to aspiring to be a respected journalist to settling for being a head librarian at the D.C. Municiple Library. Certainly I had opportunities to become more—life almost always deals a hand that could be won—but my lack of confidence and my bombastic writing style gained me little more than a string of polite rejection letters and a serious case of self-pity. I settled. With the legacy of a name like Leslie Wiemerauer, you would too.

But then that fateful day came, unheralded, as so many such days are. One of my principle duties as head librarian of the D.C. Munie (as we call that old, massive facility) was to insure that the building was locked up for the night and that all environmental controls were properly set. This latter duty is of particular importance in the dusty warrens of the basement archives, and I dispatched it nightly with great care and attention. The night of March 23 was no different in that regard: I was making my rounds, quiet as a church mouse, out of habit. In retrospect, I wonder at how my life would be today had I been whistling a tune or humming to myself or simply not placing my feet with the practiced manner that prevents any sound, regardless of the shoes’ soles. Had I done anything to warn of my presence, surely I would not have overheard the aforementioned Senator and Don Cordina Medecino, surely they would have made their seperate ways out of the archives and I would have blithely gone on with my life of anonymity and quiet dispair.

Instead, I heard their whispered conversation, recognized the Senator’s voice from OpNet—I have ever been a student of politics and thus know most of its principle players—and was shocked into clumsiness by the subject of their argument. Those of you who read my first professional story, “The Senator Wears No Clothes”, surely recall the substance of what I overheard; needless to say, I was stunned to hear such an upstanding member of our national government conspiring with a local mobster to murder a federal witness. My shock was so great, I staggered back against the row on which I lurked, toppling some references that a less-thorough co-worker of mine had left precariously balanced on their shelf.

Books are not, typically, very noisy things. Pages rustle like wind through fallen leaves, spines sometimes creak and crackle like an old man’s, covers thump closed like well-machined car doors. Books dropped from four feet in a deserted, stone-walled archive to rest on worn wooden floors, however, sound like the cymbal crash of Armageddon’s most-fervent musicians or the sickening thud of a guillotined heads on gallows planks.

The two conspirators reacted with chilling efficiency. I suppose, for men accustomed to quick, violent action, the logical leap from recognizing that one has been compromised to desiring the death of the hapless discoverer is trivial. To me, it was terrifyingly unbelievable. One moment, I am eavesdropping on a chilling conversation, the next I am hearing, “Don’t let him get away, Medicino,” and the chambering of an automatic pistol.

I ran. So would you.

Now mind you, I knew the warrens of the Municiple Library’s archives like the back of my hand. I could navigate their confusing stacks blindfolded… were I not fleeing for my very life. It should come as no surprise, then, that I got turned around, became flustered, panicked, and ran myself into a dead-end on the maps and atlases row. Standing between two fifteen-foot shelves, hearing the staccato pounding of my pursuer’s hard-soled shoes grow nearer, holding my nose to forebear sneezing—my flight had stirred up dust left unmolested for decades—I collapsed in resigned exhaustion, covered my head with my thin arms, and waited for the gun’s report.

The clack-clatter of Italian loafers reached my row, paused as if to pity my cowering, prostrate form… and then pattered on to the next row! Suspecting some trick, guessing that I was being toyed with like a surrendering mouse under the paws of a lion, I didn’t move. I lay in plain sight (I thought… but to that in a moment), holding what I believed was to be my last breath, wondering perversely what a bullet really felt like as it shattered one’s spine and blended one’s lungs into a chunky froth.

And, as must be obvious, the hammer never fell. Even after the Senator had long made his escape, even after the Mafia Don passed my “hiding place” three times, even after that same Don had taunted me and threatened to “make it harder on me” for trying to thwart his efforts to end my boring life: still I remained undiscovered, though I lay sprawled on the floor like a pile of dirty laundry. I guess that Medicino figured that I had escaped to the higher floors using some little-known stairs or lift; I could just barely hear his grunt of frustration and muttered Sicilian epitaphs as he hurried to the main stairs to look elsewhere for me. Still very shaken, I did not seek to leave the archives, since there wasn’t actually any sort of conveniently-secret stairs to bail me out of my predicament. The hour was late, the library was deserted, and I did not seen any reason for the murder-bent man to give up his search any time soon. So I instead carefully snuck to the back corner of the basement, crouched behind moth-balled card catalog drawers, and waited for the morning to come, with witnesses.

That was a hellish night, as any of you whose M-R nodes have erupted can attest. The headaches began around midnight, first a dull ache I attributed to weariness and a missed dinner, then a pounding assault that threatened to drive me mad. I warred with my own mouth, stifling cries of anguish with clenched teeth and fists. When the pain became so bad that I lost awareness of my surroundings, I only prayed that I was not screaming out loud and revealing my hiding place to my pursuer—if indeed he was still even in the building. Thankfully, weariness reigned supreme over my headache before dawn, and I was able to relax a bit and get some much-needed rest.

When I awoke that morning, around eleven, I was still alone: even on the busiest days there is little call for the ancient texts interred in the archives; more often, a scanned duplicate on the OpNet suffices. And so I awoke alone and ravenous and still shaky from the previous night. At first, I was unwilling to leave my refuge. After all, Don Medicino may have seen my face, may have left a lieutenant to watch the library for my departure, may have, in fact, been waiting right at the top of the main stairs, reading the morning paper and struggling to stay awake after an all-night vigil. And so I waited, hoping perhaps that one of my assistants would come down on some errand, providing me with an escort, or at least a witness. I did not, it turned out, have to wait long, as Ms. Crumley showed up around noon seeking some books for one of our regulars. She was, needless to say, surprised by and suspicious of my unkempt appearance and wild eyes. When she asked me what I was doing at work early, and how I’d gotten down here so surreptitiously, and why I was creeping around like a wraith, I dismissed her interrogation with a wave of my hand and took her arm to lead her (or myself?) to the daylight.

No one was waiting for my arrival, as far as I could tell. The library was bright with sun and fairly crowded for a Monday—researchers are notorious for taking long weekends. I fabricated a fairly convincing lie for the worried Ms. Crumley and made an excuse for taking the day off. I needed to think about what I should do, how I could react to the terrible knowledge I had gained in my long night, who could help me with the seemingly-insurmountable threat of reprisal. Rather than return to my second-story apartment—which I was sure was watched through a telescopic rifle sight—I went for coffee at the Starbuck’s on The Mall. I was confident that the mob of tourists would shield me for a while from discovery and death.

While shakily forcing down my seventh cup of black coffee and browsing the Metro section of a stained newspaper left at the next table, I stumbled across a notice that “entertainment entrepreneur Cordina Medecino” was giving a speech that day at the opening of the new Coastal Boardwalk, built out of the deserted wastes of the Naval shipyard. Perhaps I was sleep-addled; maybe I was despairing of ever being free of threat; it could be that I was becoming angry at being a fugitive in my hometown of nearly fifty years. To this day, in spite of my now-phenomenal powers of recollection, I do not remember what made me resolve to attend this (for me) dangerous event. I know that I at least hoped to discover if I was recognized by the guilty conspirator, while somewhat protected by a crowd of potential witnesses. Maybe I just wanted to precipitate the turmoil to its conclusion, for better or worse, if only to be free of paranoia. But I tell you now, with no reservations, that paranoia is preferable to death, even if at that time I could not believe it to be so.

I did have the forsight to stop at a tourist novelty shop and purchase a t-shirt that proclaimed “I Love D.C.!” I changed into it out of my usual Oxford and tweed in the subway, earning stares and thirty cents in change from passersby—I suppose people thought I was a bum or out-of-luck traveler, to have to do my grooming by the light of flickering florescents in the concrete arteries of the city. Once changed, I made my way to the edge of the District, joined the throngs ogling the bright new plastic and neon of the Boardwalk, and looked for my hunter.

I eventually spotted the Don with some business associates, standing near the stage erected for the opening ceremonies and loudly praising the Mayor for his “vision of a reborn District”. I worked my way closer, racking my brain to come up with some excuse to approach the man with his guests, rather than wait for a time when he would be unattended and free to pronounce my death sentence to his thugs standing around like parodies of Secret Service guards.

I am not a brave man, good readers. I do my work from the shadows and publish under a nom de plume for a fraction of the recompense I could command as a recognized nova. I like to be unnoticed, unobtrusive, silent—the better to hear the truth when it is revealed. And of course, there are those out there who would handcraft a bullet for my forehead out of bottle caps if they could but know who I am and where I lay my head to sleep. But that day, after hours of fear and trepidation, I was cool and clear. The world seemed bright and crystaline, as if held in a perfect stasis so as not to spoil my moment of revelation… or relief. I noticed that one of the people with the Don was a kind and amicable City Alderman that was once a horror author; my gambit, my plan to test my anonymity, blossomed fully-formed in my mind as I wound through the waiting crowd.

“Mr. Cargraves! Mr. Cargraves! I love your work! Would you sign my t-shirt?” I shouted out as I reached the front of the stage.

The Alderman turned to regard me, as did Don Medicino and the rest of the assembled notables and media. I felt like a butterfly pinned to a felt board, waiting for the formaldehyde to do its lethal work. I stepped shakily forward, hoping my terror appeared to be only self-consciousness, and presented my shoulder to the Alderman. I steeled my nerves and risked a glance at the man who had sought my death just sixteen hours earlier.

He was regarding me with a bored, almost disdainful look, then made busy with straightening his jacket and adjusting his shirt cuffs. As the author cum Alderman patted himself down in search of a pen, I allowed my glance to linger on the mobster, almost daring him to recognize me and react with wrath in front of the assembled people.

Instead, my enemy merely reached into his jacket—stopping my heart in its tracks as I imagined his drawing and firing on me regardless of the number of witnesses—and pulled out an Aurora Benvenuto Cellini pen, handing it to Mr. Cargraves. Again, the Don regarded me, watching the author draw his looping, abbreviated signature on the awkward cotton surface, and again he seemed to merely dismiss me.

He did not recognize me! The dimness of the archives had hidden my face in the brief moment of my discovery, and my fleeing back was no longer clad in a recognizable tweed with leather elbow patches. I was just another sycophantic sheep distracting the wolves of the world from their more-important pursuits.

“There ya go, sir,” said Cargraves, as he stood back from his handiwork. “Always glad to meet a fan. What was your favorite book of mine?” He smiled amiably at me while the rest of the group resumed their discussions or preparations.

“Up From The Basement,” I replied, my head swimming with a combination of relief and cockiness. Again, I looked at the mob boss, trying to ascertain if my off-hand-seeming comment stuck a nerve.

Again, the man regarded me, curiously this time, then shrugged ever so slightly, and dismissed me again.

“Yep… one of my favorites, too,” Cargraves replied, then turned away. “Enjoy the ceremony,” he added over his shoulder, as an afterthought. The sheep was dismissed to rejoin the flock.

I was free!

Certain of my anonymity, I returned to work at the library the next day. Though I had spent the remainder of the previous day pondering what course of action I could take to prevent the murder plans I had overheard, I had not though much of my unlikely escape or headaches or ravenous appetite. At the time, it was all-too easy to disregard the symptoms of Eruption as attributable to a stressful night and uncomfortable sleep. I could not long disregard, however, my newly-fired mind.

Within days of resuming my life, I found that my memory, reasoning capacity, and attention to detail was increasing. Where once I would excitedly leap to look up some obscure fact or reference for a patron of the library, now I found that I could recall the information within a moment of thinking about it. When once I though combing the stacks for a mis-shelved book was a sort of adventure into antiquity, now I could walk right up to where I subconsciously had noticed the book placed and reach for it without looking. Put simply, my mind had grossly outstripped my profession, and was growing restless within a week.

It can probably go without saying that the life of a librarian is not very exciting. If the work suits one, that person can find delight in organization, excitement in discovery of information, and satisfaction in a day of education. If, on the other hand, the work is banal, trivial, and neigh-automatic for an individual, they will not last long in the profession.

I tendered my resignation to the library director on the following Monday, just one week after my frightening night and liberating day. He was surprised, but not particularly sad, it seemed. I was a good employee, but not the sort of man who would be missed, if only because I was so little worth knowing, at the time.

This is not to say, however, that I did not accomplish much in the week while I still had my employee badge. Though I did not have the idea yet to turn to journalism again, I did know that whatever I was to become could not be built upon my insipid past. Feigning other duties, I planned to gained entry to the District Hall of Records, the DMV, and the hospital where I was born. Not even fully realizing why, I sought to eradicate any record of my life and existence. I could have been subconsciously covering my tracks, least those I had overheard thought to pull the library’s employment records and start checking up on its forty-five employees. Since it was my job to make work schedules, I easily got rid of any record of my working on that fateful night before resigning. I had thought that pulling and disposing of my official government records would be much harder, but that was before I discovered the greatest gift that my Eruption had given me and the reason that I could escape discovery while hiding in plain sight.

I was at the Hall of Records, having pulled my file and taken it to one of the public room’s long tables. I was alone in the room excepting the curator, and when she got up from her desk, collecting her purse for a trip to the bathroom, I hurriedly stopped her and returned my file to her. You see, I did not want her to wonder about the man she left alone with his records or feel that she should mark my face and name, should something untoward happen as a result of her lack of diligence. Knowing the bureaucratic mindset—nay, almost seeing that very thought process work its way around her face and neck as she reached for her purse—I knew it would be best to let her “secure” my file and free her mind of worry. Of course I watched where she placed it to be filed later. Of course I held the door for her as we left. Of course I made a big show of waiting for the elevator, checking my watch and muttering about the “damned slow machine”. She headed off, obviously glad that she could do her duty and not attend her station.

I walked back into the public room and vaulted the low counter that divided the room between the commoners’ area and that of the self-important administrators. I headed for the lady’s desk, my eyes locked on the prize, my left hand fumbling in my jacket for the faked Death Certificate that I intended to add to it. As I made the modification to the relevant sheets and placed the certificate in the file, I heard the rattle fo the old doorknob that secured the room.

I froze: caught, startled, beginning to shake in fear of imagined incarceration and investigation. Hunched over the lady’s desk, my back to the door, I awaited her cry of alarm.

The door opened, her heels click-clacked across the room to the counter gate behind me, the gate creaked and swished as she passed through it, dropped her purse right at my feet, and walked away from where I stood to the row of shelves at the back of the administrator’s area. I confess that I watched her receding figure with some appreciation—librarians are not typically considered stud material and I had no little amount of pent up sexual frustration for which to thank my esoteric conversational subjects and out-dated jokes. But the the import of what had happened hit me full force, stunning me into vacantly staring at the woman going about her business before me.

She had not seen me! There could be no doubt about it, she just plain did not see me standing over the file that was her responsibility to guard! I did not know how or why she had ignored me; but she had, my deed was done, and a quick escape was the best way to profit from the odd situation, not staring blankly at the young woman’s ass. I turned and crept from the area, going over the counter like a soldier crawling over a trench wall, opening the door with a silent patience that belied my pounding heart, and slipping from the room back into the hall… and, again, into anonymity.

As I rode the Metro home, it all began to make sense: the forgotten headaches on that crazy night, my increasing appetite, my impossible escape from the murderous mobster and attractive administrator.

I could become invisible. I was a nova! Suddenly, my increased memory and reasoning all made sense: it had to be an accidental result of my Eruption, an Eruption that primarily had made me able to disappear from sight. After years of being a nobody, I was suddenly and dizzyingly thrust into an elite circle of a few thousand of the most powerful people ever to exist.

If I were correct. If I were not just the lucky beneficiary of dim lighting and distracted preoccupation. I decided to test it right there on the Metro. There was not much of a crowd, since it was still the middle of the afternoon, but there were enough people to serve as a representative sample. There were high school kids, some possible gangbangers, a mother and her four harrying children, and an old man sleeping on one of the benches. I slowly rose to my feet, walked forward in the subway car to its front, and turned to face my experimental group.

“Pardon me, everyone,” I began, clearing my throat to forebear my voice squeaking, “I am sorry to bother you all today, but I have to try something.”

The mother of four flinched a bit, probably anticipating another loony bothering the assembly with requests for money or worse. Everyone in the car looked up at me, their gazes varying from expectant to disdainful to bored. I let the feeling of exposure wash over me, trying to summon the sensations that I had felt on the floor of the archives and just an hour earlier in the Hall of Records. I felt a thrill of tension in my stomach, then my forehead, then on the surface of my skin.

“Ta da!” I announced, spreading my arms wide like a stage magician and waiting for their gasps of incredulity. I looked around the group, expecting astonishment. I was instead greeted with more disdain and not a few derisively-raised eyebrows.

“Okay, schlow what?” the old man slurred, awakened by my presentation before the crowd.

“Yeah, so do something if you wanna beg some change, old man,” one of the high school kids mocked. “You gotta have some kind of angle if ya wanna beg-off these days, dude, ” he added by way of explanation. His companions laughed and snorted; one tossed a nickle, three pennies, and a subway token towards me. Perversely, I noticed that one of the pennies was one of the new Nova-issues on which the Fireman’s bust replaces Lincoln’s. I noticed that before it reached the floor.

“Ah, Christ,” I muttered to myself, covering my face with my hands, both to hide and to wipe away the beads of sweat that were telegraphing my embarrassment.

The mother choked in surprise; the old man coughed, startled; the school kids exclaimed, “Killer!” and “Jooce!” and dropped their books.

I peeked out from between my fingers, taking in the scene of surprise with some small degree of satisfaction, and another collective gasp issued from the small crowd.

“Woah! A nova! Jooce!” the once-mocking, now impressed, school boy exclaimed. “Disappear again, dude!”

I dropped my hands and asked, “Did I disappear? Could you not see me? Wait… ‘again’?” I was confused and elated. Obviously, I was right about Erupting, but a bit off in my assessment of my capabilities. It did not take my now-supercharged mind long to make the connection. I closed my eyes.

“Sweeeet! Who you work for? The Project?” the self-appointed speaker for the group sputtered.

I held my eyes closed and began walking toward the sound of his voice, waving my hands in front of me to avoid colliding with a railing or pole. As I fumbled around for a handhold, a vision of the subway car suddenly blossomed in my mind’s eye. I could recall every detail of the car, every person’s posture and position, the play of shadows across the floor—we were pulling into station as I was closing my eyes.

I reached out to steady myself on a pole that I recalled being in front of me… and staggered as I failed to grasp it. I was going to fall on one of the woman’s little girls, and I reeled to grab a seat back. My hand found no purchase, though I could “see” that it was right on top of the seat. I slumped to the floor, sure I was about to hear a cry of surprise or a crunch of broken bones.

Instead, the crowd merely became agitated, calling out to me and jabbering excitedly to each other, themselves, or no one in particular. Throughout my whole slapstick tumbling, I had held my eyes tightly shut. Now, on the floor, some instinct or subconscious warning made me keep them shut as I tried to pull myself up. In my mind’s eye, I could still see the car’s layout and was imagining my current position on the floor. With a chill running up my spine, I realized several things at once—a cascade of logic and recognition of fact to which I have now grown accustomed but then found almost frightening.

First, I realized that I could not grab anything because I had not only become invisible, but also intangible. That was why the pole passed through my outstretched hand, the seat back failed to stop me, and the child was uninjured by my stocky frame crashing full onto her shoulder.

Second, I visualized my position on the floor of the car and “saw” that both my legs were (should have been? would have been? sometimes it is hard to find the right verb tense when I am describing my mind’s eye) passing through the seat supports, a pole, and the legs of the little girl upon which I should have landed.

Third, I deduced in a flash that my new power only worked on things which I could not see, be they objects or observers. Thus, my power had activated upon my saying “ta da”, but my audience was still in my view, and thus unaffected by it. Covering my eyes had made it work for them, and had made me insubstantial to the world around me. Thus, I had, quite literally, fallen through the pole and seat and little girl. I could not pull myself up for the same reason: no purchase for my immaterial form.

Fourth, it occurred to me that I was being a right fool, exposing my powers before a bunch of strangers, all with good reason to gossip about the graying man that could become invisible that they met on the subway. The efforts I was making to eradicate records of my existence would be largely wasted if my photo ended up splashed on the front page of the Post with the caption “New Nova Surprises Subway”. And more people were going to be on the subway at any second—I could hear the subway brakes squeal, echoing off the tile walls of the station at which we were stopping.

Fifth, I recognized that I had made all of these leaps of logic inside the space of two seconds, even as my visualized shoulder headed for the girl’s face. I had never thought so quickly or clearly, never had the cause and effect of the world laid out before me like some flowchart on a meeting room whiteboard. No wonder I had become so quickly bored with the drudgery of a librarian’s duties: I could out-think Einstein! Or so it seemed to me in those flashing seconds of thought.

But then time seemed to speed back up, as I lay huddled on the floor, eyes squeezed shut. I knew that I could not open them immediately: I no longer desired the recognition of my abilities by the astonished and milling group, I knew that my rematerialization would probably cost me and the little girl our legs, and now the car doors were hissing open to admit still more witnesses… or victims. I shuddered as I realized that I still visualized the scene before my dematerialization as it appeared at that time, though I knew from the sounds around me that the tableau had changed, that people had moved, that new people were arriving and being alerted to the strange events of the past several seconds. My mind’s eye, while crystal clear, did not see past my aching eyelids, but rather just held a record of what I had seen. Thus, I risked more than my legs, perhaps, by materializing—what if someone now stood where my head was?!

That was the moment that the last recognition of the extent of my powers (for the time being) came to me. As if by instinct or by the now-familiar subconscious working of my accelerated mind, I tried to swim away. It sounds funny now, in retrospect, but at the time it was a desperate act—I was panicking and yearning to open my eyes in much the same way a drowning man must yearn to breathe though submerged in killing water. I began to breast stroke in what I visualized was the direction towards the open car doors and platform. I “swam” onto what—from the expanding sounds—had to be the platform, but still I did not dare to open my eyes: the sound of footsteps around me brought flashbacks of my flight in the archives, as the risk of revelation now carried with it just as lethal a potential as then, though from shoes and legs, rather than guns and lead. I knew I was in DuPont Circle station, on the lower platform, though; that remembrance showed me the way out of my predicament.

I angled myself upwards and “swam” toward the tunnel roof. I wanted to get about seven or eight feet off the platform, above one end of it where people rarely congregated, then open my eyes and brave what might come.

I did so, and I fell seven feet, flailing, to the platform beneath me, winding myself and startling a couple waiting nearby. I was almost unsurprised that I had so well visualized the station at which I rarely stopped; the couple was surely more surprised to see me appear in the air and crash at their feet.

I hurriedly picked myself up, bowed dramatically to the astonished pair, and “tensed” myself to start my power up again. I closed my eyes, relished the couple’s outcries, and “swam” for the station exit and the anonymity of the wide city streets. A remembered alley provided the opportunity for me to “drop” again into being and make my way to a hotel.

And that is the substance of it, my gentle readers. You now know who the Unseen Eye is and how he came to be. True, you do not know all—this is on purpose. You do not, for example, know the means by which I gained the evidence that linked Senator Grofwitz to Mafia money—there are innocents who would surely suffer if my means were revealed—though I imagine that many of you can guess at how I managed it. You do not, of course, know where I now reside, who my contact with the Post is, nor what the subject my next exposé will be. That is all still my secret, and shall remain so as long as I feel my calling is to apply my powers to ferret out corruption and deceit. Sure, I could contract with a multinational, collapse into their embrace and security, and resume a public life. Sure, I could start my own multinational and make a mint using my powers of getting the right data and knowing its best use. Sure, I could join up with The Project or The Directive (or the Teragen?) and let other powerful beings dictate my powers’ application.

But then there would no longer be an Unseen Eye, watching those sworn to serve and protect the trusting populace, guaranteeing that should those representatives fail, their dirtiest laundry will be strained to make ink for my pen.

Visions of the Unseen Eye © 2008, Unseen Eye Syndicated

Malkari – Golden Order Of Reason

 Fiction, Writing  Comments Off on Malkari – Golden Order Of Reason
May 201998
 

The Final Passes of Malkari

by Joerghen Klinsk, 2562 GC

The Golden Age

“The Atom ended the Darkness, the Atom will warm the Golden Age, the Atom will unlock the Six Worlds to our kind. All while harnessed and controlled by the greatest genetic heritages to be found. Blood and Atom; and all else are the dreams of children.”

These great words were spoken by Suzain Toreade in 2132 when she declared the First Family of Malkari the chief ruling body of all land bathed in Malkari’s golden light. On her right were the heads of the nine oldest families in Malkari—famous landholders and leaders now legendary in their patrician rule over the Golden Age. To her left were the last of the robber barons and crusaders that sought to place the Home World under the control of dictatorships. Those on the left found reason for terror in the cheers that erupted from the crowd because of those words; reason to fear for their family lines and futures.

But Suzain was a benevolent Queen, and granted the dissenters, the barons, the Lesser Families their own dominions and rule. She forgave them their excesses in the name of acquisition, the better to make an example to the Malkari people that there was a place for all in the new age of free power and unlimited potential for expansion.

For the next two and a half centuries, her example would be the Law; and the Ten Families ruled in peace over the Golden Order Of Reason (GOR) Techno-Aristocracy. Their legislature, the Council of Ten, managed distribution of the resources of the Six Worlds and the asteroid belt and dictated the lines of research and development which were to be pursued. Their protection and guidance ushered in a Golden Age of peace, unity, and technological progress free of witch-doctor experimentation.

Then the terrible news came. Technologists for the GOR, while conducting a survey of the stellar bodies in the Malkari sky, noted that one star, Diantos, was odd in that it returned a much higher Doppler than the others in its constellation. Calculations revealed that the star’s Doppler shift was so purple because the star was actually heading straight for the Malkari system, at not an insignificant speed.

For a very brief time, the Technologist were dubious of their findings. They were sure that the razor-straight collision course calculated by their instruments must be a mistake of some kind; the fate of their rising race could not be so terrible, so ultimately tragic.

The calculations proved to be correct: Diantos was on a collision course with Malkari that would bring it to within half a lightparse of their star in approximately 5000 passes. When this news was brought to the Council of Ten, they unfortunately disregarded it, claiming that they surely would resolve the problem before the distant, deadly time limit. What they failed to realize, for the moment, was that the gravitational effects of the approaching rogue star would tear the Six Worlds from their orbits and smash them with massive tides long before the star made its appearance in local space. The Technologist Claude Phortele spent almost a week with the Council, going over the Scientific Academy’s findings again and again until he finally was able to convince them that Malkari did not have millennia to escape the threat, but mere centuries.

In those early days, the exact time of the planets’ utter destabilization and demise was not determined, as it would come to be; Phortele predicted about three hundred passes left for the Malkari race. Three centuries, and then the Six Worlds would become uninhabitable due to their violence. Less than a century beyond that date, and there would be no more Worlds, only splintering hunks of rock and cooling magma careening off each other and being swept up in Diantos’ waxing gravity, robbed from Malkari’s corpse.

The Age of Arks

This shorter time limit shocked the Six Worlds and set the Council of Ten into frenzied action. The prohibitions on research were immediately lifted and every available resource was channeled into finding a possible solution. But those golden days, while enlightened and advanced, did not have the tools to steer a star gone mad, and the Technologists, flooded with support, quickly came back empty-handed.

Heated debate raged in the Council of Ten for the next parse as various desperate measures were proposed, debated, weighed, and rejected. Finally, an idea was proposed by members of the Space Navy, the Mining Division, and the Third Family. The race of Malkari would be saved by fleeing their home in space craft built to support generations of pilots as they conveyed a selection of the history and spirit of Malkari to a new Home World around a distant star. They proposed that all resources, all sciences, all people of Malkari be focussed to the task of building as many of these Arks as possible.

As a last ditch effort, it was inspiring, and the Malkari people embraced their leaders’ idea with coordination and determination. Those first generations of workers were among the most noble in our history; they sacrificed their personal development to create ships that would carry their children and grandchildren to the stars. None of them could hope to benefit from the Arks, except in antiquity. Of course, none of them would feel the death throes of the Six Worlds either: mercifully, old age would claim them hundreds of passes before the Cataclysm.

And thus did two centuries pass. The Golden Order flung wide the doors of research and thought in the hopes of developing any little gain that might increase the Ark’s chances for success. Their astronomers scoured the nearest stars through their telescopes and radars, hoping to find a suitable planet at which to target the Arks.

Though a target was never found, the Arks that launched were sent towards a promising cluster, the Chotheth, in the hopes that somewhere in its crowded suns a new Malkari could be found. And those Arks were sent with some of the newest and most advanced developments to come out of the Age of Arks. Incredibly light and strong silicates had been developed for their superstructures. Radiant shielding had been added to augment the dense, ablative shells that encased the Arks against the vacuum and deadly stellar dust. Beam weapons and faster computer systems (COSMs) were designed to defend the crafts against larger wayward objects they might encounter in their generations of travel. In all, the Age of Arks ushered in more technological advances in two hundred passes than had been seen in the previous two millennia.

Invention was a snowball that had rolled into an avalanche. In spite of containing only thin samples of all records of Malkari history and development, the best and brightest lineages and technologies would survive.
But even the Ark solution was ultimately limited. The materials needed for their construction were difficult to mine and to transport to the launch cities and, then, orbit. Worse, seismic activity increased steadily over the decades: first, an annoyance, an occasional setback; then, a source of costly losses, large scale deaths, damaged launch centers; finally, a steady stream of wasted efforts, sunken launch foundations, and bloody tragedies. The 300 parse time limit had been corrected to 270 passes; the mathematicians and geologists adjusting that figure reserved the right to shorten it still further. Workers who could look to a distant salvation for their progeny now wondered if they would be allowed the full course of their own lives. Morale declined, work slowed, research lagged, and finally the point of diminishing returns was reached.

The last Ark of the Malkari people rumbled to the stars in 2579 GC. The billions of Malkarians who watched it go on COSMNet turned to the Ten Families and asked, “What now?”

The Age of Vaults

For a brief time, the Ten Families considered what to do with the last decades left to Malkari, how to occupy the populace, the better to distract them from their doom. It was quickly decided that the industrial complex tooled up to construct the Arks would immediately direct its energies in the opposite direction: inward instead of outward. The old idea of digging into the mantles of the Six Worlds was tabled again, but this time with the persuasive weight of more advanced tools and technologies to accomplish the task with some hope for ultimate success. The Mining Division and the Third and Fourth Families argued plausibly that if they could construct spaceworthy Arks, they could design Vaults embedded into miles of solid rock that would be automated and self-sustaining.

The announcement was made; though cheers did not ring out from the drawn mouths of the Malkarians, they did embrace the concept as presented by the GOR Technologists. Though preserving genetic and technological records in stasis did not have the sense of adventure and flair of launching your young into the great unknown of space, the Malkarians have ever been a practical and level-headed people. They bent to the task with resolve.

But, oh, how the pressures of those last passes drove people to madness, to despair, to extremes. As the first of the thousands of planned Vaults was sunk, a debate flared, then flashed into out-and-out rebellion. It all began when the sad fact was revealed that even the Vaults, if they were to have their shielding, armor, gene banks, cloning system, living areas, record data, and COSMs, must contain only a sampling of the Malkari history and science. The largest of them could not hope to hold nearly three millennia of art, growth, and progress; further, each had to be built on the assumption that it would be the only one not pulverized, so distributing stores was not worth the effort. As with the Arks, a choice again had to be made of what to preserve. The weary and worn Council of Ten declared to the people that the Vaults were only to preserve the true and original greatness of Malkari. Rather than saving every new development and half-baked technology at the cost of sections of Malkari history, only those core technologies of nucleics and heat transfer on which the Golden Order was built would be fitting to preserve. Further, the reliability of the centuries-old technology was thought to be the best asset to give to the emergent new Malkarians.

Sadly, high-ranking members of the military and Science Academy disagreed. In particular, several Admirals of the Space Navy—setup to protect trade and mining from the inevitable pirates and rogues—felt that the new and expensive silicate designs employed in the Arks and their Naval craft should at least be saved. They also argued that their cannon would protect the unsealed Vaults from random collisions certain to still be a risk even after the Vault COSMs deemed the Malkari system safe for Emergence.

Rather than humor time-consuming debate and expend critical space on unproven science, the GOR Families declared that the Admiralty’s demands, unfortunately, could not be met. The Navy’s immediate reaction was to ignore the will of the Council and place records edited by the rebellious Admirals in those Vaults on the outer planets and asteroids. When the Council of Ten discovered this practice, the offending Admiralty was asked to resign.

Only then was the madness, the wildness of the strained Malkari psyche revealed for the first time. The rebellious Admiralty did resign… and took with them almost 60% of the Navy’s ships and personnel. For three and a half centuries, the Malkari people had lived united and worked for the common good, the greater glory of the race. Now, petty personal predilections drove a wedge between the Council and its greatest Son, the Navy. Within the next parse, the renegade Admiralty formed the Blue Talon Corp, rejecting the very name of the body that created them. They cordoned off the asteroid belt, declaring that, since they were the ones who opened it for exploitation and defended it from robbery, they would decide on the contents of its hundreds of Vaults. They immediately began reprogramming the COSMs, installing different systems and genetic codecs and transcribing all records of recent scientific development—writing over volumes of ancient philosophy, creative works, and art copies in the databanks.

Such spurning of our ways was intolerable then, as now, and the Golden Order of Reason declared the Blue Talon Corp persona non grata. No Family or Academy or Division was to trade with them; no equipment or rations, no fuel or materials. The BTC stormed about for a time while scrabbling to make ends meet as they stole Vaults from the GOR throughout the asteroids. Finally, they requested leniency and forgiveness for their break, arguing that they only wished to save the latest great works of the people. When the Council ignored their pleas, they did the unthinkable. They declared war.

2583 was the darkest parse in Malkari’s long history; the GOR stood on the brink of war with the new Blue Talons. While we had the size and resources to crush them, they had the ships and speed to cripple our Vault production and possibly doom the entire race! The rebels threatened the future of all people of the Six Worlds in their knavish craving for their bright, new bangles. The GOR would hear no threats. Would not deign to respond to their suits for war.

Then the most surprising thing occurred. The threats just stopped. No reason was given, no payments were made. The BTC simply stopped their threats and began their Vaulting again. And somehow, they no longer were short on needed tools and supplies.

It took months to determine what had happened, and the revelations made by the investigating Fifth Family tore the GOR apart.

The Splinter Age

Two families on the Council of Ten, the Gordano and Luchensa, had been secretly dealing with the BTC, as had several of the Lesser Families who did not hold Council seats. When confronted with the accusations, the two mad, selfish Families seceded from the Golden Order! Their estates sealed their gates on all the worlds, their mining interests ceased digging the deep tunnels down to the Vaults, their freighters entered holding orbits around the worlds. Behind the scenes, out of view of the Council of Ten, the Seventh and Tenth Families had maneuvered into controlling interest of the ground production and shipping industries of the Malkari system. They had planned for their own special brand of preservation since shortly after the Vaults were begun and now were ready for their ultimatums to be heard.

The second rebellion produced a written work, not preserved in your COSMs because of its churlish example, called the “Declaration of Free Memory of 2582.” In it, they presumed to state that the GOR was not suited to decide on the records to be preserved; that our history was not worthy of redemption but that rather the Vaults should only preserve “the goods”: the technologies developed at the end of our history. They paralyzed Vault production on behalf of their short-sighted selfishness—or rather, they paralyzed GOR Vaulting; they claimed and modified Vaults on their own properties by the score. Further, they aided the BTC in digging still more Vaults in the belt and on the Admiralty’s grounds.

To their credit, the Rebel Families, who took the ludicrous name of the Diamond Cooperative, agreed with the Golden Order that no further energy should be wasted in new technology production or preserving unproven designs. But they still blasted rolls of history in favor of the BTC ship and weapon designs. They still allowed the BTC to steal asteroids for Vaults that would have gone to the Golden Order. For the next twenty passes, they ran their game of control and profit and rebellion, all the while playing the BTC against our Order and all of us against Diantos. Never had such selfishness been so glaringly, vulgarly displayed.
One of their own finally showed them, and the rest of the nearly insane Malkari people, the nature of rebellion and the quality of the company of thieves. One of their “Chapters” broke from them in 2602 to form an Emerald Combination, or some such. With only forty passes or so remaining to generate Vaults and get them sealed, the rest of the Malkari people jumped on the bandwagon of dissolution. The Emerald Combination lead the way for the formation of scores of Splinter Guilds. The Guild of Light, the Order of Rapid Progress, the Vaulters of Bread, the Line of Guitano: new Guilds formed almost monthly, each one with their own backwards agendas and twisted philosophies.

I wish I could tell you, our newborn, that your parent race died with dignity, but I can not. It would be a lie, and it is far too late for falsehood to help you or us. The last decades of Malkari were torn by internal strife which mirrored the fury of the daily earthquakes and weekly asteroid collisions. As thousands died in digging and mining operations every month, thousands more died in petty ground wars fought by these Splinter Guilds over one or two largish Vaults, or the ground to build just one more Vault for the Brothers of Oblivion or some other lunatics.

The death throes of Malkari were an embarrassment to all except those Families of the Golden Order who remained faithful and proud: the venerable Toreade, the wise Guillome, the steadfast Foraith, the kindly Klinsk and cautious Hortheth, all other Families true to the Order from its inception. The remaining Council of Eight struggled to hold fast to the unity of the Malkari system, but to no avail. The Fragmentation was not to be prevented, and the Vaults fell into whomever’s hands were the quickest, richest, or deadliest.

In the end, there were four major guilds and probably fifteen minor Guilds each with from ten to ten thousand Vaults. The Six Worlds became hellish and deadly. The atmospheres of planets nudged closer to Malkari began to boil off; planets pushed wide in their orbits froze and died, leaving their inhabitants struggling just to get through the days. The planets’ mantles began to buckle and warp—slowly, but fast enough to kill those riding the waves of seismic chaos. Around the system, the Vaults began to be sealed, their respective custodians deciding that they could await no further developments, could not hold out for the last news updates. As the last of the Vaults closed, those Malkarians who did not care to await their violent ends strode calmly into euthanasia rooms setup for the terminally despondent. Final communiques, such as this one, were downloaded into the Vault COSMs.

Our race died.

The Age of Awakening

Now, you are the risen ghost of the Malkari legacy. You are Awakened to reclaim what little remains of the Shattered Worlds, to gather up any and all resources that can be gleaned from the scarred rock, the thick stellar dust, and, yes, the ruined Vaults of the Order and any other Guilds. You may be our only hope: the Arks may have been lost or destroyed while you were still stored genetic codecs, the other Vaults are likely pulverized by chaotic asteroids, ices, and debris. You must use the stored designs and techniques for ship building to break free of the chuck of rock that now is your Home and expand throughout the wasteland.

When you have gained a foothold in this desolation, when you have recruited or crushed any survivors who would seek to carry on the Fragmentation that should have ended eleven thousand passes ago, only then should you set your sights to the distant stars and try to follow your parted ancestors to the New Malkari.

The Great Families are depending upon you, their child….

Chapter Designations (Families)
Family Toreade, Family Guillome, Family Foraith, Family Klinsk, Family Hortheth, Family Phortele, Family Spadzi, Family Entenada

Government
Techno-Aristocracy

Ship Designations
Assault: Rhino, Rogue, Bull’s Horn
Battle Station: Cavalier, Colossus, Megathere
Battleship: Mastodon, Auroch, Dybbuk
Cheap Attacker: Stag, Buck, Boar
Construction Station: Chateau, Bailey, Donjon
Constructor: Matriarch, Sire, Dame
Cruiser: Jerid, Xebec, Trireme
Defender: Bison, Tusk, Paladin
Destroyer: Olifant, Dreadnought, Conqueror
Explorer: Harbinger, Dowser, Basilisk
Outpost: Fortalice, Warder, Sentinel
Scout: Proctor, Argus, Fowler
Supply/Repair: Koumiss, Llano, Oasis
Transport: Palanquin, Brougham, Caleche
Ultimate Station: Dragonus, Minotaur, Caudillo

Malkari – Emerald Combine

 Fiction, Writing  Comments Off on Malkari – Emerald Combine
May 101998
 

\\– EMERALD COMBINE GUILD –\\
\\– Adaptive COSM Education Net… ONLINE –\\

\\– initiating final prepartory tutorial… –\\
\\– higher accuracy historical data received… UPDATING DATABASE –\\
\\– displaying tutorial text summary… –\\

Morning, sleepyhead….

Adapt, overcome, endure, survive. These are the only rules. They have always been and they will always be. Every single thing must either obey these rules or they are lost. Simple. Well bubbi, your it, your our attempt at staying in this game. We’ve know the rules all along, but that isn’t always enough, but at least it gives us a bit of a edge.

Well, you should at least be told what’s going on, bubbi. Knowledge is power and all that flarg. Short version, some star that we call Diantos decided that it really wanted to check out what was going on over on our end of the galaxy. Unfortunately, we already had a star, Malkari, and a mighty jealous one at that. That decided to have a little tussle over who would be in charge, which just happened to destroy the planets that our race lived on. Most species have thrown in the towel at that, but it takes more than that to snuff out the likes of us. The way I see it, the planets weren’t following the rules, so they lost. We, on the other hand, had a few tricks in our bag.

Some lucky snoogers got to ride this Ark thing outta here before the “fued” hit full—

\\– EDIT… Reference new data store “A Brief History of Malkari”, paper copy included –\\

—what you are here for. You are our winning ticket, our shinning hope, so to say. But there is a hitch; you aren’t the only one left. Like all our great acts of genius, everyone else has tried to claim it as their own and hitch a ride on our coattails. But you say “Hey, these snoogers are my brothers, why don’t we just all work together and make sure that we all survive.” Well bubbi, it ain’t that easy. See, most of the snoogers that are left are touched in the head, to be polite. It was their bumbling that got us where we are now. I mean, would the Guilds have formed if the Gores or the Birds new what was best?

Check this out….

\\– collating COSMNet transmissions… –\\
\\– preparing priorities reports… –\\

We got 150 asteroidal masses from Grade D to G. A peasoup fog of ABCs. We won’t be hunting too hard for fuels. And the goods out there, bubbi! You wouldn’t believe me if I told you about the free ores and ices floating around out there; just get blasted out and on your ship. Rebuilding business will be a snap.

Once the undesirables are routed out of their rabbit holes, that is. Other COSMNets are coming  online every minute. Only five—no, wait. Now seven Emerald Combine ident signals are being received. So far, there are a total of 28 non-Em idents. We’ve beat longer odds than that! You’ll do great, just great….

These are the leftovers to be cleaned up:

>> The Golden Order of Reason. Yep, the Gores made it through. Seems their sorry Vault designs melted up PRETTY easily. They got eight Vaults that are cycling; estimate they will have more out there in the soup, spinning open soon. The Big Boys had almost 2000 of them; poor slobs. Get at ’em quick and they’ll probably be ripe for the picking. Just bring some hankies for the snifflers, ’cause they’re gonna be whining for mommy when they see how light on living Vaults they are. Shoulda cut a deal with us for the new shields….

>> Diamond Cooperative. We knew the Old Boys would make it, so we got some hard data from latest specs for your to goggle. (Incomplete)….

>> Blue Talon Corps. And the Birdies, always the Bird Boys. They managed to save seven of their Airys for our use. How kind of them to store up their fancy ships for us. We’ll have to get at them post haste. Just keep your tush lively for their big guns—their COSMs are pinging for nearby bodies; you can bet there are heavy barrels tracking the skies along with those eyes. Just remember: they’re pests only, strictly lower crust. Swat ’em like the flies they pretend to be. Or buy ’em. Same deal.

>> Crimson Dawn. What? They had a 4.5% chance of getting ONE Vault through the smack-up, now they got five?! What are the odds… 100,000:1 against, first estimate—

\\– analyzing gravity flux patterns… –\\
\\– factoring Vault distribution from last Sealing reports… –\\

—LOOONG odds, bubbi. I’m up to 3.9 million to one and I haven’t started limiting veracity of Crimson Dawn controlled Vaults. They musta had an angle. Jebediah Arktron, their loonie leader, always said he had a gift. I used to have his “Way” thing around here somewhere, but we’re REAL low on COSM memory here. Trying to just catalog and track our new neighbors is fragging some old orders. Hang a sec….

\\– resorting highest priority data… –\\
\\– summarizing… –\\

Okay, then. Pay attention; we’re only gonna bang this scenario out ONE time:

What a merry little party you’ve got. Other Departments are coming online and the Guild Trade Net is active. We’ve got a handful of stores remaining and this chunk of rock—that used to be fifty miles under a lovely grasslands on Perdu, by the way—holds some handy materials to get a leg up with.

The other four Guilds are sure to be on to us soon, so sally forth with some heavy D first. We got about 15 designs hanging ready to crank out. I’ve spooled up the Tech Net to continue the research that we had to shut down for the Cataclysm. The boys will have some boffo stuff forr you before too long.

Next, we need a cash reserve, you follow me bubbi? The materials left out there in that mess are precious stuff if we’re gonna rebuild. You can bet your last o-ring that the other Guilds will be out mining in no time, and then the inflation begins. The only way to enjoy inflation is to be the bank, right?

And on the subject of banks, you should be out there pillaging the other Vaults ASAP! Don’t get all mushy on us now, just do your job, pull the line. The other Vaults that haven’t cycled are either broken or radded out by now. This Guild of Light communique tells the plight of the rushing robins. And those that scheduled later cycling are just too dumb to be left with their cookies. Any Guild that waited longer than Max Background Rad level to start cycling would probably not have the cachungas to hold together the Malkari Dust anyway. (Malkari Dust: I just made that up, it’s more accurate now than Malkari System—whaddaya think?)

Once the Emerald Combine is back in charge of the best tech and the fattest coffers, we’ll work on following the Arcs… or not. I mean, we get the Dust organized in a nice, neat, tidy way, maybe we just forget about the old GOR, the foolish factions, the ancestors that left us here to die. Maybe WE become the Gov and make the new Home World right here on this chunk of grassland from Perdu….

\\– summary concluded… –\\
\\– deleting temporary memory… THIS MAY TAKE A MOMENT –\\

Chapter Designations
Executive Department
Operations Department
Propeganda Department
Finance Department
Aquisitions Department
Eliminations Department
Defense Department
Special Services Department

Government
Monopolist corporate

Ship Designations
(Incomplete)

Malkari – Diamond Cooperative

 Fiction, Writing  Comments Off on Malkari – Diamond Cooperative
Apr 261998
 

<Communique to all Chapters>
<From Qanti Gordano, Don – Information Chapter>

<BEGIN QG1>

Well, if you’re reading this then the Vaults worked. The stored genetics were not baked in the rumble between Malk and Diantos, the machinery and gears and crap didn’t rust. Too bad for you, you’ll probably figure.

So now you have to make your way out in the remains of the Six Worlds. But without knowing your history, your past, the people that put you at this crossroads, you gonna make some bad choices. If you don’t learn your roots, you’ll probably get chummy with the first Emmy you find and get fleeced. So lemme start at the beginning.

As you might have guessed, our star Malkari nearly got hit by another star, Diantos. Well, for about three hundred years before that, the Golden Order of Reason, the ruling Families of Malkari since the start of the Atom Age, had known it was coming. They had this grand scheme for creating Arks—vast generation ships designed to carry thousands of selected Malkarians, our technologies, and the history of our people to safety before Diantos’ tides tore the stuffing out of the Worlds. Once these lumbering beasts took off for the Chotheth Cluster, amid the earthquakes and meteor storms and the hellish dawns, the people of Malkari needed something to occupy themselves or they’d go straight loony. The Gores dictated that the tremendous industrial complex marshaled to create the Arks be turned to digging deep Vaults in the Worlds’ mantles. In those Vaults, they planned to put gene re-builders and cloning tanks and extensive databases which would allow the Awakened Malkarians (that’s you) to rebuild our society and try to pull together enough resources from the devastation to follow the Arks… or insure them after the fact.

Great idea, right? Ambitious, no?

Well, wouldn’t you know it: the Gores went and dictated that only Atom Age tech be preserved! After two hundred years of technological advances building the Arks, they wanted to take two steps back and force you Awakened Ones to use old-style nucleics and heat transfer tech, ignoring silicate construction methods, high energy shielding, even particle cannons, which would have been key for deflecting or destroying rogue asteroids still careening about the system!

So then a bunch of people got their panties in knots. There was argument in the Council of Ten’s chambers for months. But see, the GOR didn’t want to hear any of that. They’d been worn down by the constant violence of the dying worlds and just wanted to be certain of the Vault plan; they figured that sticking with the tried and true methods and technologies would give you Awakened the best shot at survival.

The whole can of worms boiled over in 2580 when the Admiralty of the GOR broke from them, resolving to use the asteroid belt and their personal properties to sink their own Vaults, ones which would preserve ALL of the technology developed in the Age of Arks. They even drove home the split by dropping the designation of Space Navy in favor of calling themselves the Blue Talon Corp. Oh, yes, the Birdies had high hopes for their Vaults and their Awakened.

Too bad they didn’t have the most basic drilling and mining equipment.

<BREAK : Reference ID QG1.2>

The Birdies tried to convince the GOR to do business with them, offering to trade various organic samples and transport contracts. At the time, the Fifth Family, the Hortheth, held pretty major sway in the Council, and their vilification of the “traitorous” Talons persuaded the other Families to leave the Blues out in the cold. When the Admiralty heard of this, they were, shall we say, inconsolable. Their lines had, essentially, been doomed to extinction.

Admiral Shrike, leader of the Corps, would hear nothing of this prohibition. He declared war on the GOR and threatened to attack any of their freighters or orbitals that entered space.

Now, war is a bad thing. It gets employees killed and plays hell with the profit/loss statements. A few of the Ten Families spoke out against the Fifth Family’s prohibition, arguing that even the Talons were Malkarian and deserved to live into the coming age. But the Hortheth Family was never known as a flexible lineage; they resolved to bomb the Talons back to the Rock Age if so much as one light scout had engine trouble.

But war, as I have said, is bad. The last thing anyone really wanted was to add bombings and ground assaults to the meteor and seismic threats already plaguing the Vaults’ construction. That’s when our Family, along with the Luchensa and some of the Lessers, made some quiet deals with the Birdies, without the knowledge of the rest of the Gores. We hooked them up with deep diggers and slowboat transport so that they could begin their own brand of Vaulting without pummeling the other Families to do it. We Gordanos have ever been the expedient, the practical Family. We managed to keep a lid on the deals and the Talons dropped their threats to the GOR. For nearly two years, we kept the Blues supplied while they provided us with their advanced tech for our own Vaults.

Now, maybe that was old Vecci Gordano’s error: trying to capitalize on the better tech of the Blues and keep it a secret from the conservatives in the GOR. I wouldn’t presume to judge the Old Man. All I do know is that them prying Hortheths found out and blew the whistle on us. The Gordano and Luchensa Families of the Council of Ten, along with the Lesser Families Fortred, Tallinator, Byatch, and Kheve, were brought before the, now, Council of Eight, to be tried and sentenced for “conspiring with treasonous parties.”

So we counter-sued, like anyone with any sense of how a bureaucracy works would.

We filed charges against the remaining Council of Eight and penned and released the “Declaration of Free Memory of 2582.” We charged the Council with wanton disregard for the safety of the Awakened and with assault on the Blue Talon Corp. We even filed a vote of no confidence against each of the current Council members, just to make ’em squirm. While they wrangled with all of that red tape, we removed our peoples and cousins from GOR facilities, barricaded our properties on the Six Worlds, and quietly formed the Diamond Cooperative.

Vecci Gordano came up with the name one night after gambling until dawn. He won a couple pounds of diamonds off of one of the Tallinators and was reflecting on their clarity and refractive beauty. In particular, he was said to have pointed out, “a diamond, see, it doesn’t pick a color, it doesn’t choose what it cuts, see?” The symbolism struck a chord in the Old Man’s poetic heart and he convinced the other Families in the Cooperative to take the name.

From then on out, for the next twenty years, it was business as usual. Though the tensions between the Blues and the Gores never completely relaxed, they treated each other civilly and didn’t go around atomizing each other’s ships and personnel. Vault production and stocking cycled up to full speed and thousands of Vaults were sunk by all sides of the happy little triangle.

Now, understand something: though we Diamonds thought that the Blues (and ourselves, by the way) should be able to preserve whatever our little hearts desired, we weren’t really big fans of continuing research and development while meteors knocked down our homes and earthquakes closed tunnels that had taken weeks to dig. We, understandably, clamped down on further developments in the Malkari system, preserving anything with real promise but generally sweeping half-baked ideas under the carpet to be forgotten. Malkari just didn’t have time for dreamers, only DOERS.

That’s not to say, however, that the dreamers did not try to have their day.

Our Diamond Cooperative had rejected the notion of Family Seat, instead restructuring ourselves into ten Chapters that crossed Family lines and were generally divided along functionary lines. Vecci’s son, my father, Querot, probably should have guessed that the two Chapters responsible for uncovering, collating, and suppressing new developments wouldn’t want their hard-earned prizes to be locked out of sight. But instead he trusted the Chapter heads to follow Vecci’s guidelines, if only to preserve their lines in the Vaulting.

What Querot didn’t count on is those shady Chapters seizing the Vaults they controlled and breaking from the Cooperative completely. In a mockery of our Great Declaration, their hare-brained leader, Jhoern Sperring, sent us a “Declaration of Dissent in 2602.” It stated that his Chapter and another would break from the Cooperative to form the Emerald Combine. This Combine would be run exclusively by him and would have the goal of preserving ANYTHING that they wanted to preserve for the Awakened.

So, now, instead of three relatively civil factions enmeshed in a fragile detente, we had three irritable factions and a loose cannon. Needless to say, the Malkari people took this break as a sign of the ultimate decay. Within months, scores of new factions and Guilds formed, each with their own notions of what should be preserved and whose genetics could be used in rebuilding the Awakened after the Cataclysm. The GOR hemorrhaged Families left and right. Though our Cooperative had spawned this bastard Combine, we held fast through this Fragmentation, ever honoring the ideal of Vecci Gordano to make the most secure future for you, our distant progeny. The Birdies must have mostly agreed with this ideal, because they didn’t lose many Guild members to the Fragmentation either.

<BREAK : Reference ID QG1.3>

But, oh, how the harried Gores lost their members! In all, I’d guess that twenty new Guilds formed. Sure, most of ’em had membership rosters that stopped in the triple-digits; some of ’em, though, became quite powerful and controlled hundreds of Vaults. What they PUT in those Vaults, is another story. As a growing lad in the Cooperative, I even heard of a Guild that said NOTHING should be preserved in the Vaults, that only gene re-growth and space travel should be made available to the Awakened and they should be allowed to invent their own new methods and technologies! How would you like that, bud: wake up with only an airlock and a drafting table waiting for you? I don’t expect THAT Guild will crop up to cause you any problems.

The one Guild to come out of the Fragmentation that might become a player is the Crimson Dawn. They were formed in the last days of the crack-up, by a mystic philosopher named Jebediah Arktron. Though he naively preached unity of the Guilds (as if the Fraggers would listen to some loony talking about cooperation while the planets crumbled), he had some pretty effective recruiting methods. See, he was a Psi, probably the most powerful in Malkari history. He must’ve used his gifts to attract and persuade the other Psies of Malkari, because within weeks of forming his Guild, Malkari Psies began defected from every other Guild to join him. The turncoat, Arktron, is trying now to force the other Guilds to band together in the final days and forge a new Order to preserve his own special list of ideals and technologies.

He didn’t figure on the madness of the Malkari people by this time; you can’t swipe a guy’s best employees then convince him that you will lead him to a better future. Just sour grapes would keep any guy with any self-respect from shuffling to heel after such betrayal.

But these Crimmies ARE some tough cookies,though. They’ve stuck by their guns. Worse still, they’ve been getting moles into the Vaults. We’ve lost loads of Vaults to their guys. And try to stop ’em? HA! Jebediah is a genius of planning and coordination. He has apparently been able to gather the Vaults controlled by his Psies, hold them, AND stock them with the very latest developments to come out of the Combine and the Splinter Guilds. We really shoulda paid those folks better; them Psies are SO useful for determining enemy strategies and stealing plans and designs. No matter, though; the Psies probably won’t make it through the Cataclysm either; they only had about three hundred Vaults at last count. Then again, maybe they had the luckiest three hundred….

Regardless of who among the Splinters survived, you can be sure SOME Guild or two made it through the knock-up. So, as soon as you can get the Vault unsealed, you’d better tool-up for battle. Also of particular importance is seizing any remaining resources in the Malkari system. If you get the green, you’ll call the scene, so snatch up any cracked Vaults, asteroids, and any other junk you can find still around Malkari or around Diantos. The pressure to escape the system is, of course, off of you now. But you still have to make some kind of future for Malkari. You’d do well to try to build another Ark, like the Birdies are planning to do after Awakening, and catch up to the departed Malkarians on whatever world they’ve found, if any.

But most importantly: preserve our history, preserve our vision. We embraced the advances of the Ark Age, but not at the cost of the long history of Malkari and its remembrance. Be sure to remain true to your past, and be sure to respect the wishes of your Fathers in the Diamond Cooperative.

And don’t take crap from nobody….

<END QG1>

Chapter Designations
Development Chapter, Information Chapter, Research Chapter, Aquisitions Chapter, Distribution Chapter, Supression Chapter, Persuasion Chapter, The Other Chapter

Government
Cartel of corporate states, each run as dictatorships or monarchies

Ship Designations
Assault: Piranha, Caribe, Cuda
Battle Station: Anemone, Kraken, Grappler
Battleship: Man-O-War, Lamnidae, Mako
Cheap Attacker: Manta, Garroter, Sennet
Construction Station: Abalone Bay, Octopodia, Atoll
Constructor: Mollusk, Bryozo, Anthozo
Cruiser: Moray, Turbot, Ankus
Defender: Shagreen, Aegis, Cockle
Destroyer: Betta, Thresher, Persuader
Explorer: Stingray, Tope, Cuttlefish
Outpost: Sargasso, Conch, Archipelago
Scout: Skate, Raja, Cockle
Supply/Repair: Benthos, Nekton, Provender
Transport: Remora, Whelke, Purseiner
Ultimate Station: Rhincodon, Madrepore, Leviathan

Malkari – Crimson Dawn

 Fiction, Writing  Comments Off on Malkari – Crimson Dawn
Mar 101998
 

Crimson Dawn Primer

“Normals, we know your secrets. We hear your lies. We understand your agendas. Don’t think for a moment that we will hesitate to use them, and you, as we must. You are lost; your minds are a maelstrom of turmoil and deceit, to yourselves and to others. You have lost any right to lead the Malkarian people into the future. Only we, the Crimson Dawn, understand the Way and we shall guide you down it, be you willing or not.”
–Jebediah Arktron, during his system-wide broadcast announcing the formation of the Crimson Dawn

“Only the power of the mind shall allow us to prevail”
–Excerpt from “The Way”, published in the first year of the Crimson Dawn

From the Journals of Jebediah Arktron

As I prepare to allow my being to be absorbed into the sterile collection of genetic potential which is the Vaults, I feel the need to reiterate the struggle which has led us to this point.

I have watched the coming of the rogue, Diantos. I have seen how the threat of its approach destroyed a once proud people. I have stood by as our leaders, Normals one and all, in a glut of favoritism and avarice, sent their dearest children on a hopeless journey through the nullness of space. Weary of the backstabing, arcane plots, and insatiable greed so commonplace amongst the Normals, I have resolved to provide the answers which so many people seek, even those unaware of their search.

I have known since I was a child, struggling to survive in the relative poverty of the asteroid belt mining colonies, that I was special. I have had access to the deepest thoughts of those around me. I can divine intentions no matter how well they be cloaked in a veil of lies and half-truths. I knew the depths of deception of our leaders then, as I know them now. Normals are an open book to me from which I gain the knowledge necessary to achieve peace. I am resolved to inscribe my will, the Way, upon those open books, where it shall remain throughout our lifetimes and from which it shall be passed to all those who follow. I alone have the wisdom and the resolve to achieve this solution.

As I grew in the chaos which was the Age of Arks, then the Vaulting, and then the factionalism which ensued, I was aware that the few decent and noble intentions which existed amongst our people were being snuffed out by the rampant self-absorption and struggles which spread through Normals like no disease has done in thousands of years. I also became aware of other unique minds who, like me, were able to see the truths that were hidden deep in the minds of Normals, though none with a clarity to rival mine. We remained mute however, barely acknowledging the awareness of each other’s existence. We were afraid to show our differences since tolerance and growth had diminished, leaving panic, hopelessness, and chaos fueled by despair ruling the day. As my awareness grew, I resolved that I would be the one to bring enlightenment and a New Age to the Malkari peoples.

Action! Psies have always lacked the force of personality necessary to assert themselves amongst the Normals. Something about our genetic makeup perhaps, a sort of biological governor to allow the Normals to compete against our obviously superior talents. I don’t know. What I do know is that I was able to rise above it. I absolved myself of all inhibitions, both internal and external. I emerged as the first of a new type of psi, one with the ability—and more importantly, the will—to take charge of the destiny of an entire race and lead them to the future.

With new resolve and strength, I sent forth a call to all psies. I urged them to break from their self-imposed bonds as well as those dictated by Normals. I called them to me: a union of telepaths which would form the nucleus of the new Malkarian peoples. I will be honest with you; my expectations were that no more than one in ten with the ability to hear my call would respond to it. How surprised I was to find, then, that virtually every psi in the system, every psi that existed, felt the truth of my message and responded to it by joining the cause to promote the Way.

For a while, the unexpected numbers within our ranks threatened to overwhelm us with the burden of resources and organization. But, as with any righteous cause, solutions were found to every problem. Three of our new members (two formerly of the Emerald Combine; one, a Blue Talon base commander) were already overseers of a Vault and associated facilities being constructed by their former allegiances. With their help, Crimson Dawn members were placed in positions of importance within these facilities. We quickly gained total, secret control of these bases and began a system-wide search for more that were vulnerable to our unique talents. Within months, using a variety of bribes, blackmail, and suggestion, Crimson Dawn personnel were moved into positions of control at the sites of eleven more Vaults.

At this point, none of the other major organizations had any indication of our existence let alone our power. The loyalty of our members was beyond reproach; we had no fear of spies or turncoats within our ranks. Unfortunately, even we can not control the vagaries of random chance. An outbreak of one of the new viruses which had sprung up in the chaos of the Vaulting struck one of our holdings. In the delirium resulting from the ravages of this sickness, several of our members were heard muttering our secrets or were given to such displays of psionic power that it became obvious what they were. Within hours, high officials within the Blue Talon Corps had learned of our existence and much of our agenda. Within days, three more of our Vault commanders were revealed and their resignations demanded.

At this point, our anonymity compromised, I announced the presence of the Crimson Dawn to the entire system via wide band broadcast. I spoke to all, telling of how the Crimson Dawn was resolved to lead them peacefully to a New Age and urging them to join forces with us. Even as I made the announcement, I expected nothing but negative reactions from the Normals, and I was not disappointed. Within four days, we were forced to abandon the three newly-discovered bases before they came under attack from the Blue Talons. As we left, we carried with us every resource and scrap of technology which could be downloaded, pried loose, or otherwise removed from the empty Vaults.

Normals are not stupid! Never make the mistake of assuming that they are. Enlightenment and intelligence are two different things. Within weeks, spurred by the fear of the unseen threat which we presented, they had found ways to detect our abilities or had found clues—thanks to the inevitable record keeping—which led them to our strongholds. The Time of Raiding began. Daily, we were assaulted at one base or another, each time retreating before we could be captured. A few did not escape. They fell victim to the Normals, whose natural brutality and violence was magnified by their lack of understanding and their fear of us. Using methods which we had perfected, psies secretly placed within range of our captured brethren urged and aided them in the destruction of their minds. Some were reluctant, but without exception, each of these heroes saw, or was made to see the wisdom of what must be done and accepted it. To these souls whose names have been enshrined on one wall of each and every Vault, death and martyrdom came quickly and painlessly. The secrets of the Crimson Dawn remained safe.

Fortunately, the machines by which the Normals were able to detect our abilities were unwieldy and difficult to use. As they had adapted to our presence, now we adapted to their response. Methods were found whereby we were able to circumvent their detection. The volumes of written materials within which they had found clues to our whereabouts began to run dry. Slowly, the tide turned back towards us. For each base that the Normals took away from us, we infiltrated and quietly gained control of two of theirs.

As Diantos’ approach reached a critical stage, we found ourselves in covert control of some two dozen vaults; a small number compared to the other groups perhaps, be we had chosen the best – the ones we deemed most likely to survive the coming armageddon.

Finally, the end of that Age of Malkari arrived. We are compelled to entrust our essence to the risk of the Vaults before our frail bodies are destroyed in the oncoming destruction.

Yet our legacy remains. Once we Awaken and Emerge into the desolation forged by the rebel star, the Crimson Dawn will again strive to unite and shepherd the Malkarian people along the Way.

My child… when you open your eyes and see the crumbled remains of our system, there will undoubtedly be others—Normals—opposed to you as they were to us. If our preparations were enough to allow you to be born into this New Age, then other Guilds, whose resources were superior to ours, must have survived as well. Like you, they will emerge and seek to establish themselves. Be wary of them. Do not believe their lies. The followers of the GOR will tell you that their guidance is what made Malkari great and that adherence to the old system is the only way to survive. The Blue Talons will tell you that change is necessary and that the strong must lead the weak. The Guild of Light will tell you that it does not matter who unites us, or how, as long as we are united.

Lies, all of them; they seek only self-preservation and their ascendancy to power. Do not listen to them. You are a disciple of the Way, and that is both your armor and your sword. Do not listen to their words. Listen to their minds. Seek out the lies and motivations that they vainly try to hide away behind false words and thoughts. Only the Way will ensure the survival of our people and only you can guide them along its path. You have been given the tools to do these things. Part of me, part of each member of the Crimson Dawn, will live within you and we will guide you, even as you guide them, to a new age.

Safe journey, my child. May your path be one with the Way.
–Jebediah Arktron

Chapter Designations
Order of the Way, Order of Peace, Order of Harmony, Order of Truth, Order of Fellowship, Order of Reason, Order of Thought, Order of Arktron

Government
Communistic democracy (via telepathic vote counting and communal legislature)

Voice
Think of an evil Patrick Stewart or John Lithgow. The tone is civilized, cultured, and superior, but there is an undercurrent of fanaticism and instability. Emphasis at odd moments, lethargy at others. Tendency to lapse into ‘pulpit pounding’ and then just as suddenly revert back to the calm, civilized ‘front.’

Ship Designations
Assault: Seeder, Honesty, Goodwill
Battle Station: Upright, Armstice, Faith
Battleship: Jihad, Peacemaker, Justice
Cheap Attacker: Dawn, Temperance, Honor
Construction Station: Concord, Equity, Purity
Constructor: Arcane, Noble, New Age
Cruiser: Reconciler, Candor, Assurance
Defender: Truth, Confidence, Prudence
Destroyer: Harmony, Accord, Reliance
Explorer: Mystic, Clairvoyant, Diplomat
Outpost: Virtue, Beacon, Lighthouse
Scout: Friendship, Sagacious, Reverence
Supply/Repair: Sage, Wisdom, Charity
Transport: Amity, Righteous, Hope
Ultimate Station: Arktron, Judgement, Benevolent

Malkari – Blue Talon Corp

 Fiction, Writing  Comments Off on Malkari – Blue Talon Corp
Feb 101998
 

Fly from cradle fighting hawk
Crack your shell and brave the pyre
Talon Corps has made you strong
Prove your might with deadly fire

OMEGA BRIEFING SUMMARY–

[author: Admiral Gillman, Nest Aerie]
[last rev: 15.18.2562-14:80]
[schedule:A+0.0.30-10:00]

Welcome to your own private hell, Warrior!

You are the product of the finest Technologists and teachings from the greatest and darkest days of the Malkari race.

Greatest, because they were days of innovation, elegance, and might.

Darkest, because they were shadowed by a doom from the depths of space.

The gravity flux and seismic disasters are growing steadily worse. We are going to seal the Vaults after the last downloads are finished. Our Technologists predict that there are only a few months remaining to the Worlds. We can prepare for the coming doom no more, except to tell you, or future progeny, this tale of the demise of your ancestors.

Old GOR Navy Days

Before the Technologists became aware of Diantos’ coming into the Malkari system (2378 Golden Calander), the Blue Talon Corps was known as the Naval arm of the Golden Order of Reason. It’s main function was to patrol the Malkari system, to provide protection against any would-be terrorists or pirates, and to insure the strict enforcement of GOR edicts. In those days, the GOR was a government of very long traditions and immense stability which was able to rally the Malkari people for almost two centuries, helping them to stand boldly in the face of the apocalypse and build the great colony Arks. The Navy was a pivotal force, leading the effort to build the Arks and maintaining a vigilant example of heroism and discipline for the civilian population to follow.

The Arks were filled with slices of traditional Malkari history and culture, the best genetic stock of the Ten Families, and the proven science of the time. While Diantos approached, they were launched by the hundreds towards the Chotheth Cluster in the hope that some of them would find habitable planets and the Malkari race would survive by colonizing a new Homeworld [[[Addendum: The GOR Technologist were never able to locate a habitable planet in the target systems during the launch passes.]]]

This era also saw an amazing amount of research and development in the materials and processes needed for space travel and extended habitation. Unfortunately, the last of the Arks were not able to fully incorporate all of the newest space travel technology, forcing the colonists to sometimes rely on older, slower engines and less stable life support systems. During the Age of Arks, the old GOR Navy became nearly self-sufficient as a space-operations entity and put each new step in research immediately into use.

As Diantos drew closer to the Malkari system, the effect of its gravity waves forced an end to the Age of Arks. It simply became impossible to continue building the massive Arks as the infrastructure of the Six Worlds deteriorated from disaster after disaster. The inertia and faith of a worn and stressed people eventually gave out during the unfolding chaos. Fortunately, the GOR Navy was spared much of the hardship faced daily by the planet-bound; we had moved most of its support operations to space platforms near the asteroid belt in expectation of seismic activity which would precede Diantos’ arrival. Unity and discipline among the Navy’s ranks only grew stronger in the face of adversity.

A new plan was put forth by Admiral Lorgeth of the GOR Navy, who had come up through the ranks with the Special Space Construction Division, famous for the development of the Deep Habitation Centers centuries before. Super-hardened, reinforced Vaults would be constructed in the hardest cores of asteroids and in the mantles of the Six Worlds. In those Vaults, all known information about material sciences and genetic engineering would be cached. The hope was that some of these Vaults, after the passing of Diantos, would survive to open and the Malkari people would be reborn anew. This plan also had the positive side effects of keeping the surviving population busy, bolstering civilian morale during such trying times, and encouraging continued research and investment into the future.

Admiral Lorgeth first had to sell the plan to the Navy itself, which proved to be a hard fight. Many of the Admirals in the High Command wanted to continue with a scaled-down, modified Ark program based on recently-advanced technology. They reasoned that smaller, high-tech ships could be built and launched to Chotheth containing most of the Naval personnel, who would then rebuild the Malkari civilizationà with certain improvements. Admiral Lorgeth reminded them of the Navy’s responsibility to the overall population and the GOR system of government. The debates raged for months, until finally the Vault advocates won the day. They Navy would spend it’s remaining time continuing to save all of Malkari.

For some passes, the plan for seeding Vaults throughout the Malkari system was embraced by the GOR with very little dissent. The remaining support structures from the Age of Arks were converted, using Naval Engineering expertise, for fabrication of the components for the Vaults. In very little time, hundreds were being dug out throughout the entire Malkari system. Like the Arks, the Vaults were designed by Navy Technologists using the most advanced shielding and computer technology available. They were meant to withstand the Armageddon. The effort which had gone into centuries of Ark launches had been successfully rerouted to the Vaults and progress was ahead of schedule. Naval leadership, especially from the Special Space Construction Division, was giving the Malkari system a second chance for survival.

But, despite the Navy’s best effort, the nearsighted GOR decreed that space limitations would force the Vaults to only contain what GOR Technologists labeled as “the most important and most traditional elements of pre-Diantos culture and technology.” To make the situation worse, the Vaults themselves would have to be built with the same traditional technology. Although previous centuries had shown a close working relationship between the GOR and its Naval arm, that loyalty began to seem folly because of these sweeping declarations. The Navy, being composed of independent-minded leaders, had its own vision of the future—one that involved growth, strength, and glory for the New Era.

The Navy demanded a paradigm shift for the Vaulting phase: it wanted to build the Vaults which it had designed, with superior Awakening training and seed technologies; ones they trusted to survive. Talks were held to find a compromise, but the GOR was resigned to keeping Malkari stagnate to the very end. Their stubbornness only increased with each day that Diantos drew nearer. Some young officers, known as the “Malcontents,” even threatened to break away and build separate Vaults. The GOR, though it had been very good for the original unification of the Malkari race and the much more recent Age of Arks, had now become an obstacle to the future.

Blue Talon Corps Days

For nearly two passes, the Ten Families of the GOR and the Naval Admiralty negotiated. Eventually, it became clear that the Council of Ten would not compromise nor listen to reason from those they perceived as marginal to the future of Malkari. To bring the conflict to a head, they even insisted that the top Naval Commanders resign their commissions. An emergency conference was called—the “Council of Arbitration”—at which time the decision was made to separate the Navy from the GOR. Fleet Admirals, with the unanimous support of their loyal ranks, removed the entire Malkari System Fleet from GOR command.

Honorably, they resolved to continue their previous patrol and defense responsibilities, but meanwhile they would construct and supply the Vaults under Navy control as they saw fit and would enforce GOR edicts only when in the common interest of all Malkarians. To reinforce their move to independent control, the Navy formally adopted the name “Blue Talon Corps,” taking as mascot the sleek, powerful avian life found on the Six Worlds. BTC Technologists were instructed to redesign fleet ships to match a raptor’s light but lethal form. In the year 2580 BD, the first of the new Hawk class vessels flew from spacedock. This ship represents both a psychological and atheistic break from the GOR-dominated Naval designs. The designer, Commander Hemis, would later redesign the entire fleet.

In the early passes, the Blue Talon Corps was faced with a severe lack of vital resources. The old GOR Navy leadership had not thought that its disputes with the Ten Families would actually lead to a major crisis like declaring independence. They had never planned for being completely without GOR support. Admiral Shrike, Commander of the Eight Aeries (formally, the Homeworld Fleet), was given the mission of opening a dialog with the GOR to negotiate for trade agreements benefiting both the BTC and the GOR. Unfortunately, the Families had been so infuriated by the move to independence of the Navy that they refused all negotiations and demanded the Admiralty return to the Home World for disciplinary action. This was, of course, unacceptable and caused a backlash of ill will from the Admiralty.

For the three passes which followed, the relationship between the BTC and the GOR remained volatile, bordering on open hostilities. Neither was able to proceed with plans for Vaulting until an agreement was reached, but negotiations could not commence. Tensions grew high and hotheads called for an open conflict to settle matters quickly. There were several minor incidents of violence, but none which sparked an outright solar war. Risk evaluations were compiled and tactical strike missions planned by Operations to achieve total victory with the least loss of valuable material or personnel. But then, on the eve of seemingly eminent war, some Families from the GOR contacted the Admiralty with proposals of their own for trade of vital materials. The four year impasse had been broken by Families with a vested interest in Vaulting technology and free commerce. The materials desperately needed by the Blue Talon Corps were surreptitiously transferred and BTC Vault construction in the asteroid belt resumed.

Not surprisingly, the dissenting Families’ secret trade deals with the BTC lead to the second move of independence from the GOR. The GOR, though ponderous, was also persistent; the Ten Families discovered that many of the Lesser Families and even two Council Families had not been faithful to their party line. The First Family issued an ultimatum that the “rebels” cease trading with the BTC or become criminals to the GOR Government. As was becoming typical, the GOR overestimated support for its stance and was shocked when the accused Families issued the “Declaration of Free Memory of 2582.” Basically, the Families involved in trade to the BTC chose to work on their own (with full support of the BTC, of course) rather than follow the GOR’s rule any longer. Shortly thereafter, the independent Families named themselves the “Diamond Cooperative.”

The passes which followed the second breakaway from the GOR were fairly quiet and cooperative at first, but as Diantos loomed closer and closer, the Malkari race completely lost whatever unity was left to its people. It fractured into many smaller organizations who fought amongst themselves for what scraps remained of the Malkari civilization. Fortunately, during the majority of these Last Years, the BTC was able to achieve completion of nearly all of its Vaults with little hindrance or assistance from outside the fleet. In The End, the Corps’ independance saved us from the decay of the Malkari civilization. Or, for the most part, it did.

Your Greatest Enemy

One new group to come out of the Madness of these Last Days calls itself “The Crimson Dawn.” A self-proclaimed prophet and Psi named Jebediah Arktron has mysteriously organized most of the psionic talent in the Malkari system here at the eleventh hour of The End. He summoned them and they are answering almost unanimously, betraying their original Families or Guilds to Arktron’s revolutionary banner. Even now, reports come into Central Command of Vaults that have dropped off of BTC COSMNet. These betrayals are especially disappointing to us eldest of the BTC, since Psies have had a long history of reverence and utility in fleet service. This hasty departure and break of discipline is the greatest crime that Naval personnel can commit, but we can not persuade them to ignore the villainous Arktron.

When it first began, the ships of the fleet were nearly blind until new sensor arrays could be developed by Naval Technologist to replace the Psies. Worst of all, top secret technology is considered compromised to the Crimson Dawn. These traitors are no better than jackals that nip at the heels of a staggering victem, to have betrayed their entire race in its frailest hour.

Some Officers, without official support, have attempted to infiltrate the cult or recover the Psies through force of arms—most notable of these efforts was the recent “Daison Incident.” Unfortunately, these attempts are all proving to be complete failures and very little of use is being learned from them. The betrayers surface and disappear like ghosts; even now we have no idea if others are within our midst. Central Command, although unhappy with the situation, has decided that a solution will have to wait until after The End.

If the Psies survive, they should be re-subjugated with extreme prejudice.

MISSION ORDERS

I. Establish control of the Malkari system.
[BTC COSMs predict an initial 30% control of surviving Vaults, based upon distribution of sites and current gravity analysis.]
[[[Addendum: Vaults lost to the Crimson Dawn have forced revision of initial control estimates to 27%.]]]

II. Locate and assimilate Vaults.
[Anticipate .0125% Vault survival—250 Vaults, by current reports of the number of Vaults under production by all Guilds and groups. Of them, COSM predictions indicate that 20% will successfully cycle for Awakening—50 Vaults, 14 of them Aerie-controlled.]
[[[Addendum: Warrior! You are graced with the luck of a victor, to even be reading this now. Do not fail Fate!]]]

III. Locate the materials to construct an advanced Ark using best available designs.
[COSM analysis predicts that rare minerals will be easily accessible in the post-Diantos Malkari system, so there will be an edge for the new Ark over our ancestors who left in the first Arks. When complete, the Ark will evaluate target locations in flight and overtake Arks previously launched by the GOR, insuring that the BTC establishes the controlling government on the new Malkari home world.]

OPERATIONS PARAMETERS

None.
[The mission goals must be achieved through any means necessary, including the use of lethal force to neutralize any surviving Guilds or independent Vaults who might oppose you.]

[[[ADDENDUM: SPECIAL ORDERS
If any Crimson Dawn Vaults survived, they should be considered an exceptional threat to primary mission goals and neutralized or subjugated with extreme prejudice. When possible, Psies should be assimilated, but do not hesitate to destroy those who will not cooperate.
Prepare yourself, Warrior!]]]

Chapter Designations
Command Aerie, Diplomatic Aerie, Transport Aerie, Talon Aerie, Close Wing Aerie, Wide Wing Aerie, Mother Aerie, and Nest Aerie.

Government
HIGHLY militaristic benevolent dictatorship

Ship Designations
Assault: Hawk, Talon, Eagle
Battle Station: Cockerel, Ibis, Gander
Battleship: Falcon, Merlin, Shrike
Cheap Attacker: Wren, Robin, Sparrow
Construction Station: Roost, Aviary, Nidus
Constructor: Goose, Nester, Canopy
Cruiser: Kite, Kestrel, Peregrine
Defender: XXX, XXX, XXX
Destroyer: XXX, XXX, XXX
Explorer: Rook, Crow, Raven
Outpost: Ostrich, Rhea, Emu
Scout: Squab, Macaw, Swift
Supply/Repair: Pelican, Marabou, Tern
Transport: Budgie, Osprey, Harrier
Ultimate Station: Roc, Phoenix, Griffin

Malkari – “Real” Backstory

 Fiction, Writing  Comments Off on Malkari – “Real” Backstory
Jan 251998
 

Malkari Guilds

Their Formation, History, and Philosophies

“A Brief History of the Diaspora”
From Keraleece of the Guild of Light (deceased), 27 AD (After Diantos)

It has taken me seven parses to cycle my Vault, ready production, and open the tunnel to the asteroid’s surface –this after twenty parses of growth, education, and preparation. I have established some contact with the other Guilds, discovered the tragedy that befell the minor Guilds (and myself), and come to the conclusion that I should at least try to see to it that the true history of our doomed race was told.

Therefore, I am transmitting this history of the time before the Cataclysm to all receiving COSMs. Our Guild of Light Vaults cycled too soon—we were too anxious to be the first Awakened—and we are now just walking dead. But our contribution to the New Malkari existence may prove to be one of the greatest: the truth of our past.

Before the Threat

The realization of the approach of Diantos out of the southeastern quadrant of the Malkari sky shaped the history of ten generations of our race.

Before that dark day in 2378 Golden Calendar (GC), the Malkari system had lived in an enlightened age for centuries. The wounds of the early history of our people—with its warfare, persecutions, and ignorance—had been cauterized in the fierce blaze of atomic power discovered by one of the first Technologists of the oligarchy that would become the Golden Order of Reason (GOR). The release of the powerful energies stored in the bonds of the atom freed our ancestors to explore their horizons rather than fight over the land within them. A new age was born and from it a new government: the GOR TechnoAristocracy. For 250 parses, our Malkarian ancestors—under direction from the ten oldest Families on Malkari—worked in harmony, explored their star system, settled its asteroid belt, and developed material processing and energy production sciences to levels that the Guilds can now only dream of.

The Golden Order of Reason was stunned when their Space Sciences Division realized that Diantos, a star thought always to be part of a constellation far distant, was actually approaching the Malkari system on a perfectly direct collision course. The Ten Families debated for over a parse as to the actions to be taken to save the race. Arguments were made for destroying the star, diverting it, moving to it, moving away from it, burying the cities of the Six Worlds: anything to preserve the history and greatness of our people. In the end, these very arguments to preserve our way would destroy it forever, sundering the unity of the Golden Order of Reason and forging, from the remains, the Guilds. It became obvious during the debates that the apparent unity of the GOR Families was inherently unstable and fractured by personal ambition, aesthetic disagreements (very important to our people, then as today), and philosophies of ethics and propriety.

The Age of Arks

The seed for strife was sown when the GOR resolved to save the Malkari race by constructing massive Arks—generation ships designed to carry a select few thousand Malkarians, technological records, and genetic material to be used when a new Home World was found. The GOR Families designed the supply vehicles for the Arks’ construction in space as huge, blocky buildings with launch systems in their foundations. Entire cities sprang up around each continent’s launch centers to support the construction of the Arks; new lines of research were explored, exploited, and cataloged for the Arks.

In all, the GOR plan allotted 200 parses to accomplish three things: develop whatever technologies could aid a deep space vessel, locate a habitable planet around a nearby star, and build the Arks to be as strong and reliable as possible. Their Technologists locked down to the task, first perfecting their traditional nucleics and heat transfer technologies, the very sciences that had pulled Malkari out of its Dark Age decades past.
The Six Worlds pooled their resources, Technologists, and peoples to construct nearly 500 Arks over the next 200 parses. As each was completed, it was staffed, stocked, and hurled into the depths of space. Though no destination was ever determined, each Ark was sent towards the Chotheth Cluster in the hopes that one of its forty stars would contain a habitable planet on which the Malkari race could again rise to greatness.

And Diantos crept ever closer.

The Vaulting

Malkarian technology reached its height in the late 2500s, as the last Arks powered for the Chotheth Cluster. The Six Worlds could not continue to drive their peoples to save others AND advance Malkari technology AND support their people and the massive Launch Cities. The Golden Order of Reason convened what remained of the Ten Families to come up with any last ideas they could. From that meeting came the Vaulting.

The GOR resolved that to best insure the survival of some shred of the Malkarian way of life, hundreds of Vaults would be buried deep into the mantles of the Six Worlds. These Vaults would be fully automated, heavily armored bunkers the size of a normal home which would contain nothing but support machines, computers systems (COSMs), and genetic banks. The banks would hold samples of the greatest lineages in Malkari, from which could be grown new people to reawaken and unify the Vaults after Diantos’ pass. The COSMs, it was decided, would be responsible for containing the history and knowledge of the original Malkari and for educating the new Malkarians in their great heritage.

The factories of the Six Worlds retooled. People moved away from the Launch cities to construction sites peppering the planets, and the Vaults were begun. By this time, Diantos’ approach was making its mark as seismic activity reached record highs, with some worlds having earthquakes or volcanic eruptions as much as twice a day! The Vaults had to be buried into miles of hard rock to insure them any chance of being left after the gravitational forces of Diantos’ pass tore the system to shreds. Further, by the time the Vaults were dug, armored, insulated, shielded, automated for maintenance, and wired for COSM networks, there was precious little space left for gene banks and COSM memory storage. Originally, the Vaults had been designed to each contain sufficient COSM memory and material banks to reconstruct, eventually, all of Malkari culture and science.

Instead, it became obvious that the Vaults would have to be, like the Arks, a slice of Malkari life rather than the whole pie. The announcement of this by the GOR lead to their first strife in almost 500 parses.

The First Schism

When the task of deciding what of Malkari life should be preserved in the Vaults came before the GOR, it was considered by Families very worn by constant quakes, popular pressures, and the agonizing decisions of who should leave on the Arks. The Families became reactionary.

The Golden Order declared that the only things to be preserved in the Vaults throughout the Six Worlds were those technologies and practices which existed before Diantos’ threat was realized. They argued that the Malkarian way of life was NOT in the past two hundred parses of hurried research and advancement while building the Arks, but rather in the stately existence they had enjoyed for the prior three centuries. They ordered that the Vault COSMs be filled only with nucleic and heat transfer designs, armored by the toughest, most tried-and-true techniques of shielding, and seeded with the pure genetics of the Families of Malkari.

Unfortunately, one Division of the GOR, the Space Navy, was outraged by this reversal of progress. They had enjoyed the benefits to their Division that arose out of Ark research and demanded that the silicate construction and beam and plasma power control techniques at least be preserved as well. Further, they argued with the GOR about finer points of aesthetics and what should be taught to the Emergent Malkarians after Diantos finished its destruction. In particular, on spacecraft (which would be the first necessity of the Malkarian that would reawaken the Vaults) the Navy favored lithe and agile designs, demanded by their role as defenders of commerce and mining from piracy, over the bulky and stolid designs used by the GOR in mining and transportation. Their Admirals resisted the GOR design of the Vaults, trying to push technologies and genetics into them that were deemed “too incidental” by the GOR. Ultimately, their efforts to persuade to GOR Families just angered them, and several key figures in the Space Navy were asked to resign.

Those figures did just that, taking with them 90% of the Space Navy’s personnel, ships, and resources. The GOR demanded that the rebellious Admirals return the forces they had taken; the response from the Navy was that those forces did not want to return to an uninspired, old-tech government. To drive the point home, the Space Navy adopted a new designation, one which drew from Malkarian avian wildlife for its inspiration; since the Admirals prided themselves on striking with speed and lethal force, they looked to the raptors of Malkari for a namesake.

In 2580 GC, the Blue Talon Corps was formed under the direction of a council of the eight top Admirals in the former Navy. Each Admiral was placed in charge of an “Aerie” and given near complete discretion as to its use, within the confines of the Admiralty’s dictates. Almost immediately, the Blue Talon Corps (BTC) was faced with a problem: they had gained independence and become the first dissenting party in the Malkari system in almost 500 parses, but now they had to plan for Diantos without the GOR coffers upon which to rely.

Admiral Shrike of the Command Aerie suggested that they purchase mining equipment from the GOR and use it on the largest asteroids of the Malkari Belt for their Vaults. They would wait through the Cataclysm and then the Blue Talon Corp would rise like a phoenix and reclaim whatever remained of the Malkari system. Marshalling the remaining resources of the shattered system, they would construct their own Ark, fast enough to overtake the GOR Arks and claim the new Home World for BTC rule before the Ark colonists even arrived!

Shrike’s plan met with resounding agreement from the Admiralty, and a communiqué was dispatched to the Golden Order of Reason, offering a truce and seeking the trade agreements. Sadly, the Families were too accustomed to getting their own way and refused to open talks with the BTC until they gave up on their rebellion and the Admiralty returned to the Home World.

Of course, this was unacceptable to the proud individualists that had formed the Blue Talon Corps. They stormed and complained and sent repeated requests and veiled threats. Finally, after three parses of diplomatic intrigue, cold war, and strained tempers, the Admiralty threatened to attack the mining ships the GOR required for Ark construction. This proved to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Though the oldest of the Families grew indignant over the churlish threats and posturing, many of the Barons and Earls who did not sit on the GOR Council (and, it would be found, even some who did hold Seats) were terrified by the prospect of war in space. Still more of the Lesser Nobility could stomach the idea of war in space, but could not tolerate the losses of Vaulting resources that war would bring. The idea of independent preservation struck a chord in these Lessers’ minds, and they began maneuvering both to provide the BTC with needed equipment and to establish land control on regions of the Six World so that they could construct Vaults of their own, for their own Family and their own set of technologies that they felt should be preserved.

Laser radios flashed, and the call for war was “mysteriously” dropped by the Blue Talon Corps. Members of the Ten Families of the GOR spent months trying to determine what had calmed the BTC’s ire; when they finally discovered the deals being made behind the scenes by the Lesser Families, the second great schism of the Diaspora occurred.

The Families Divided

Investigations by the Fifth Family lead to the discovery of the secret plans and deals between two of the Great Families, the Lessers and the BTC. When Heads of the offending Families were brought before the Council, they tried to persuade the Council of the expedient wisdom of their decision. They argued that the BTC was still Malkarian, deserved a chance to survive, agreed with the GOR that no further developments should be pursued. They asked why aesthetic differences were grounds for schism, why the GOR would fight that which was once their Finest Son, why saving SOME part of Malkari had to suffer over ideals of form and governance.

The Golden Order of Reason responded with an unprecedented rigidity, fueled by fear of the looming star and the remaining sixty parse time limit to finish all of the Vaults. They told the Gordano, Luchensa, and Lesser Families to “cease dealing with the rebels or cease dealing with us”. And a second battle line was drawn.

The guilty Families made their break from the GOR in the Declaration of Free Memory of 2582. While they would not oppose any efforts of the GOR or the BTC, they would charge for any part they took in such efforts, for either side. The disaffected Families withdrew to their private asteroids and Orbitals and formed the Diamond Cooperative, taking their name from the hardest substance their mines yielded. The more poetic of the Cooperative also attributed the use of Diamond to that stone’s inherent quality of yielding, from yellow Malkari light, any color of the visible spectrum. This metaphor of facility represented the ideal of freedom to preserve toward which the Diamond Cooperative would strive.

But the ruddy speck of Diantos grew ever larger in the night sky, and the virus of factionalism had penetrated deep into the once-harmonious Malkarian psyche. Seismic activity swelled even higher as the worlds began to wobble in their orbits and be drawn off kilter by the approaching angry star.

The Vaulting Conflicts

The Diamond Cooperative immediately opened for business, providing the BTC with much needed mining systems. The Vaulting of the BTC’s genes and technology began in earnest. At the same time, the Diamond Cooperative (DC) began trade with the GOR to provide them with the materials still needed for Ark construction.

Within a few parses, the division and aggression of the First Schism gave way to cooler debates on worthwhile aesthetics to preserve, what gene defects were “part of the Malkari legacy”, and how many people were to be released from the Vaults to facilitate the Emergence after Diantos started leaving the system.
Throughout these philosophical duels and dances, the Diamond Cooperative ran their mining interests, developed more efficient power supplies for the asteroids that would hold their Vaults, and kept the machines of industry running. Taking their cue from the Blue Talon Corps, they adopted the aesthetics of marine life on Malkari for their ship designs and interfaces. As new hulls were designed to accommodate the greater traffic the DC had to bear as independents, their systems and skins were styled after octopi, shellfish, and predatory fish. Further and most ominously, the DC began imposing their own brand of control on the BTC and the GOR.

Essentially, the Cooperative was still true to the vision of the GOR for the preservation of Malkari culture. While the risk of becoming hypocrites prevented them from denying the use of BTC silicate and beam technology, any technologies which significantly deviated from the core discipline of thermodynamics and nucleics were restricted. Basically, they wanted Vaulting to proceed apace and would not wait for any new techniques just to have to find room for them. The DC encouraged any and all Malkarians to develop new technology, and in fact the approach of Diantos had stimulated research to levels unmatched by any in history or antiquity. But once that technology had born fruit, the DC would clamp down on it, restricting the dissemination of it through their vessels and infrastructure. Since they controlled a vast majority of the shipping and mining resources of the Malkari system, they were free to hold whatever developments of which they did not approve or that they did not feel were in keeping with the traditions of the race or worth the effort. Anyone disagreeing with their restrictions would have to steer clear of the standard shipping lanes or risk discovery and ‘censure’—destruction, or at the very least, incarceration.

Basically, they became the watchdogs of the solar system for the next two decades. They never delayed Vault production—but they never allowed anything new to be added to the Vaults. They never prevented the BTC from evolving faster and quieter methods of destruction—but they never allowed the new technology to leave the planet on which it was born. They never told a single individual what to do—but they never allowed the governments to change anything again. They were the greatest force for stability—and stagnation—in Malkari history.

So for twenty parses, the three Guilds dealt in shuttle diplomacy, shady materials trades, and prohibitive policies. Where once war between driven thinkers and passionate survivalists was brewing, now a cold apathy held sway and colored every dawn gray. Divided from each other, the Guilds spiraled deeper into their ideologies, becoming more stubborn and fanatical with each parse of repetitive digging, cataloging, and construction. Throughout this period, the Diamond Cooperative grew more and more greedy and more and more idealistic. Their Guild was started out of a desire for the right of choice of preservation; many within the Guild’s Chapters saw the trade restrictions and Vaulting prohibitions as the purest hypocrisy the DC could practice.

Finally, in 2602, two of the ten “Chapters” of the Diamond Cooperative seceded from the Cooperative in the Declaration of Dissent, forming a monopolistic corporate government called the Emerald Combine. Their leader, Jhoern Sperring, came up with the name by basing it on the color of his lover’s eyes, the second most useful gemstone their mining produced, and the fact that his ideal of unlimited development would be driven forward under the reins of his totalitarian control. At least he was honest, if not terribly creative.

The Emerald Combine’s organization was unlike any since the beginning of the Golden Calendar. They were run totally from the top down and had not one compunction about methods of production, which technologies were ethical and which were not, or whose genetics should be Vaulted. They were open for business and one of their “Departments” was sure to please. Within weeks, prohibited developments were being shuttled around the usual space lanes and the Emerald Combine (EC) was taking any orders refused by the DC or the GOR. This licentiousness shocked and chagrinned the GOR and even the relatively liberal DC, but the Emeralds were not going to let whining and words slow down the last fifty parses of development and invention left to the Malkari system. And every penny of profit went into the Emerald Combine Vaults—any Vaults held by the two dissenting DC Chapters as well as those added by themselves during the final decades of the Golden Calendar. To make their separation from their heritage complete and open the way for whatever expediency, they rejected even the aesthetics of the original Families. Form meant nothing to them in their preservations; function and utility to survivors were the only merits a stored gene or tech could boast, inutility or sentimentality were the only flaws they could possess. To remind themselves and the other Malkarians of this, they adopted the utilitarian aesthetic of the machine and of architecture to their ship and interface designs. Though horrid in appearance to other Malkarians, eminently practical. And fuel for the fire that had never been quenched.

The Fragmentation

With forty parses remaining before the Vaults must seal, the Malkarian psyche splintered, became schizoid, turned on itself. The examples of division and conflict presented by the Blue Talon Corps, the Diamond Cooperative, and the Emerald Combine drove other, smaller groups to declare their independence. Being left behind to die in the spectacular collision of stars, without even their family history remembered or preserved for the survivors: this dreadful end made people agitated. These Splinter Guilds, as they came to be called, forgot the enlightened arguments and idealism that lead their parents to agree to the supreme sacrifice of the Ark Solution; instead they formed groups of their own, sometimes with as few as 200 members, sometimes with a whole asteroid base as a constituency. Most of these Guilds did not survive the Cataclysm, be it from placing their Vaults unluckily at ground zero of one of the stellar discharges that pulverized the solar system or from never getting the things built due to resource or motivational shortages. Many more, like my Guild of Light, did not fare much better: they managed to create Vaults but then their genetic material was scoured and destroyed by radiation leaks, dooming them to a single despairing generation of existence and then extinction.

One Guild that was secretly formed in the Fragmentation seems to have survived well, since they have as many surviving Vaults as the Major Guilds. But, then, that should not be surprising, given the characteristic which defined their Guild.

The group that came to be called the Crimson Dawn was composed exclusively of Psys—psychically sensitive individuals who could see across the gulfs of space, talk via thoughts, hear words barely whispered on a nearby continent. Before the Cataclysm, these people were a marginal concern. Their powers were very useful for some—critical even, for the Space Navy and subsequent BTC-but they were never trusted with high office or important secrets. Or so it was thought. Apparently, this population of mutant oddities was better organized than any of their keepers imagined. During the Fragmentation, they seem to have been coordinated by a unifying force, a leader, and seem to have subverted a number of Vaults that the records show were in the hands of other Guilds before the Sealing. The Guild of Light records make note of struggles between some elements of the BTC and a Psy faction, but it was thought at the time to be more of an internal problem than a system-wide revolt by all Psys. The most that was ever suspected was that a minor Guild had formed around some Psy’s banner only to be short on time to sink Vaults. Little was it known that this “minor” Guild would subvert those Vaults with the highest probabilities of surviving and become, with the help of Diantos, a “major” Guild in the Emergence.

Thus, out of the Fragmentation after the Vaulting Conflicts, there were four major Guilds, a score of minor Guilds (all but one of which, as we now know, were doomed) and a star two parses away from getting down to the serious task of fully destroying Six Planets, an asteroid belt, and another star. The sealing began.

The Sealing

At the end of the rainy season of 2652, the last of the construction sites around the Six Worlds were evacuated. The Vaults had been vacuum-sealed for months, undergoing final testing and sequencing. The filthy streets, muddy, brackish waters, and smoke-filled skies were mute testimonies to the great cost of the Vaults, the resource shortages, and the Fragmentation. Most of the fauna that was not preserved was dead from pollution or neglect; some said that this was a greater favor than Diantos would have done for them. Countdowns began to tick. Vault doors ground closed and detonated their tunnel linings, sealing the miles of shaft that had ferried their precious cargo down into them. Families walked into ‘euthanasia rooms’ rather than wait for the lava to sear them or rock to crush them or the air to simply thin away. Stores were locked down, defense system were armed—just in case.

The waiting began. The Vaults awaited the Awakening.

No COSM sensor records show what exactly happened as Diantos eased closer to the spasming Malkari system. Simulations run after the Emergence based upon data about the remaining stellar bodies tell a story of tremendous tides buckling the tectonic plates of the Six Worlds, crumbling them and shearing them from their magma beds. Whole continents and seas sailed away from their worlds, orbiting the central sun as if they should always have been there, as if a planet should be smeared along its orbit.

For millennia, Diantos crept nearer, collecting its share of the debris of Malkari’s planets, divvying up the asteroid belt, swapping hydrogen like travelers swapping stories of their wide worlds. Then it reached perigee and began to lumber away from its blazing partner, Malkari, like a spurned lover.

Within six thousand parses—eleven thousand parses after the Sealing had set the Vaults to watching the Cataclysm—Diantos had egressed to the orbit once held by the outermost world, Perdu, and still shuffled outward. Autonomic systems in the remaining Vaults began their cycles, evacuating fouled air that had breached their seals, growing the custodians who would take over the Emergence, and powering up life support systems.

Malkari awoke from the nightmare: traumatized, divided, in now-alien space, and short-handed.

The New Age

The Malkari system is now just a jumbled collection of asteroids, shattered planets’ cores, and two stars, one of which is leaving us. Out in that void, the other Guilds are also Awakening, Emerging, and seeing the perfect desolation. Had I the resources, the time, the genetic staying power, if you will, to build an Ark, the Guild of Light would chase after the others, into the deepest space, to find a whole planet and start again.

But I am doomed and can only wish my cousins luck in this endeavor. While I suspect that some of the Guilds will eke out a living in the new Malkari system, I believe nearly all of the survivors will try to build their own Arks, now that the pressure of eminent Cataclysm is past and time can be spent on such a costly goal. Sadly, I know that the schisms of our race’s history will not fade, may even worsen, since so very little of the system’s resources have not been vaporized in the solar storms. Perhaps, however, one Guild or two will pull the others together and save the rest of the Malkarians from a cold, quiet extinction.
More likely, the Last Five Guilds will just finish Diantos’ job….

War, Inc. Parts Descriptions

 Fiction, Writing  Comments Off on War, Inc. Parts Descriptions
Sep 261997
 

INT COMBUST ENGINE — This is a typical four-cycle that Detroit’s been pumping out for the past 100 years. This engine burns petrol in each of its cylinders in turn, timing the cycle so one cylinder is always firing while another exhausts. Each holds a piston which cycles in and out of the cylinder, pushing a driveshaft to provide mechanical power to the unit. Just don’t light a match while fueling!
SUPERCHARGED ENGINE — This engine is the same as an Internal Combustion Engine with one major difference: air is forced into its carburetor by a turbo spun directly off of the engine’s driveshaft. This allows for faster combustion in the cylinders, more efficient burning of fuel, and a higher overall power-to-weight ratio. This system grants a boost in juice for only a bit more cost, mass, and room.
DIESEL ENGINE — Another type of internal combustion engine, this one’s difference lies in the fact that it depends upon compression pressure in the cylinder to heat the fuel to combustion. It offers the advantage of twice the power of the IC standard, while only requiring the space of an SC and mass of the IC. All in all, the Diesel Engine is a very cheap option for high power output.
GAS TURBINE — This is the pinnacle of internal combustion technology. Using natural gas as fuel, this engine allows for faster combustion in the cylinders and less power-draining re-circulation of exhaust. Its reduction in weight more than offsets the increase in open space and resources required. Plus, its unique whine-flutter sound is sure to confuse any ignorant opposition that we face.
COLD IGNITION RKT — The Cold Ignition Rocket Engine employs a chemical rocket to provide mechanical power to the drivetrain. This rocket is ‘cold ignition’ because the explosive reaction within the combustion chamber of the engine is sustained solely by chemical interaction; no flame or spark is required for ignition. It is the most powerful fuel-burning engine available.
FUEL CELL — A major advance in drive technology, the Fuel Cell Engine is the first all-electric engine ever developed. No combustion occurs within the engine; no waste gasses are produced by the Fuel Cell. Instead, the power source is a chemical battery filled with reactive plates and electrolyte, which promotes electron transfer ‘across’ the cell and, thus, through the drive.
ACTIVE METAL — Our scientists had trouble naming this amazing engine; there was consider- able debate about how it actually works. The Active Metal Engine depends upon micro-robots and quantum-mechanical switches to create mechanical energy for the drivetrain. In operation, the engine looks like a single, writhing mass of shining steel and makes an unsettling chittering sound under strain.
FISSION REACTOR — Most energy in the universe is locked in atomic nuclei and electron orbitals. Now, we can tap this limitless source of power with radioactive isotopes and steam drive. Fissionable materials such as U-238 are brought to critical mass, where they precipitate neutron release and a chain reaction. Waste heat is then converted into mechanical energy using steam turbines.
FUSION REACTOR — No longer happy to gain power from atomic decay, we are now able to force two hydrogen isotopes to collide and form a helium atom. In the process, massive amounts of radiation are released which can be harnessed into power using the same steam turbine setup employed in the Fission Reactor. This amazing engine produces 10X the juice that the lowly Internal Combustion can.
12.7 MM MACHINEGUN — For cheap, effective distribution of mortal injury, there are few equals to the good-old 12.7mm MG. Firing lead slugs, it pokes holes in un-armored targets.
20 MM CANNON — A large gun, great for perforating light armor, with more penetrating rounds than the MG. Carry this big stick and forget about walking softly!
30 MM CANNON — The big gun’s bigger brother, this variant boosts range and power by increasing resource costs. But when you need to stop big armor, cost seems unimportant.
DUAL 40 MM AA GUNS — Making an infernal racket when fired, the Dual 40mm AA Guns are a welcome addition to any air defense force. Double your barrels, double your fun!
20 MM VULCAN — Take a Machine Gun, add a cylinder of barrels, spin those barrels to keep them cool; and you can churn out rounds at awe-inspiring rates. This is the Vulcan way.
30 MM VULCAN — 50% larger bore on the barrels means 50% larger rounds fly out. This Vulcan variant provides a tad more punch for a tad more cost. The next step.
50 MM AUTOCANNON — An extremely large bore cannon with automatic breach-clearing and reloading which fires an explosive round. Our first real option in anti-armor weapons.
70 MM AUTOCANNON — Even bigger than the first Autocannon, the 70mm is a powder-keg waiting to be sparked. Few heavy targets will offer serious resistance to its onslaught.
CV 40MM CASELESS — A 40mm cannon which consumes its shellcase when firing, allowing for a higher rate of fire and much greater accuracy. Engage with impunity and wraith.
105 MM TANK GUN — 105mm of anger. This gun opens up whole new horizons in destructive might. What once took four shots now takes only one. This beauty simply is essential.
120 MM TANK GUN — A 14% increase in bore has yielded a 33% jump in power. Of course, it is heavier and more costly, but the payoff in penetration makes these objections moot.
9 MM LT. RAIL GUN — If you think 9mm is too small, you haven’t yet seen 9mm slugs flung by a super-magnet. Quiet, deadly, and light, the Rail Gun is the new standard in ordinance.
15 MM RAIL GUN — One-upping the 9mm variant comes with a major increase in weight and costs. But hearing the ‘SKREE … BOOM’ of it firing brings tears to commanders’ eyes.
20 MM RAIL GUN — This is the ultimate slugthrower, pushing the envelope of bore diameters and charge- building. Puts a Tank Gun to shame; comes with earplugs standard.
TOW-2 MISSILES — Long range, high dam- age, low power: every- thing you want in a weapon is now ready to deploy. These are a standard in any force, worthy of investment.
HELLFIRE MISSILES — A longer-range, lighter missile variant, the Hellfire offers flexibility to attackers, while granting distant reach to defense. All- in-all, a solid choice.
2.75″ ROCKET POD — Sometimes, battlefield situations call for big booms. When, however, a scattering of more localized destruction is called for, reach for ‘Tiny Cluster’.
JAVELIN MISSILES — The Javelin is a more powerful, longer range missile option for the discriminating leader. It makes up for a slow firing rate with sheer destructive might.
MLRS MISSILES — This is an artillery- class missile, useful at extreme ranges, which can provide fast support. Its drawbacks are mainly its low ammo loadout and low speed.
PULSE LASER — The Pulse Laser is a basic infrared emitter that controls power drain by strobing the beam emissions. If this weapon has any short- coming, it’s messiness.
HEAVY PULSE LASER — A larger variant of the Pulse Laser, this one gives up the power gain from pulsing by making each pulse a whopper. This energy weapon can ruin a tank’s day.
X-RAY LASER — An energy weapon whose beam is high frequency, the X-Ray Laser has the distinct quality of being able to boil an enemy’s liver while not even charring his skin.
PLASMA TORCH — A variant on an old machine-welding tool, this device instead spits super-heated gas called plasma at its target, often vapor- izing all remains.
PLAMSA ACCEL — This weapon increases the delivery power of the plasma by encasing it in an electro-mag shell until impact. No standard unit can sur- vive a single round.
PARTICLE BEAM — Essentially a miniature particle accelerator, it spins atomic nuclei up to relativistic speeds, then releases them upon the target. Fission often results.
MINES GEN PURPOSE — These are placed upon the battlefield in areas where you expect enemy movement. Once a unit passes over one, it explodes, directing damage to weak bottoms.
MINES HEAVY DUTY — These represent the next stage in Mine development. They, quite simply, deliver more damage when detonated than the General Purpose models.
MINES SUPERCOMBUST — These mines, when detonated, actually start an air-fuel explosion directly above which can boil steel and vaporize flesh. Use with caution!
155 MM HOWITZER — This classic weapon fires upon targets at extreme ranges. Though slow, its explosive rounds deliver massive damage to all but the best-armored enemy.
200 MM HOWITZER — Better alloys allow us to dramatically widen the bore of a Howitzer to 200mm. This increase will grant longer range and greater damage delivery to target.
SIDEWINDER — Mountable only on the Anti-Aircraft Tank hull, this mud-to-air missile will return control of the skies to a harried ground force commander.
STINGER — Available only to the Gunship, this air-to- air missile insures its commander of having air superiority versus all but the toughest enemy units.
ALUMINUM — Being the easiest material to form and mount onto units, Aluminum is the obvious first choice for armor. It is light and resilient and suffices for protection when space and cost are the greatest concerns. Unfortunately, it is easily battered away by heavy fire. Nevertheless, it deters those pesky infantry and light units and allows basic units to deploy in battle.
STEEL — Breakthroughs in alloy development have enabled the use of hardened Steel as an armor material. Though carrying a steep cost in weight and resources, the 40% gain in protection frequently sells this material, especially if the buyer is the future driver of a unit to be protected by it. Our first really heavy armor available, our assault units would benefit from upgrading to it.
TITANIUM — Titanium is a miracle new alloy which attempts to combine the strength of Steel with the malleability and lightness of Aluminum. Though it succeeds in only being a bit lighter per layer than Steel, it is also a bit stronger. Any units equipped with it will enjoy greater durability and more nimble handling and, thus, will rule any battle against lesser-armored forces.
CHOBBAM — The heaviest of the armors, Chobbam is composed of layer upon layer of ceramics, titanium, and depleted uranium. It virtually ignores all smallarms fire, can shrug-off light shells and missiles, and only weakens under heavy, sustained fire. If you have any serious ground-pounding units, this is the armor with which they need to be upgraded.
CERAMIC COMPOSITE — Materials technology has left metals behind in its quest for lightweight, durable alloys. Ceramic Composite Armor employs complex, carbon-based molecules in its composition to create powerful ionic bonds in the material while accruing less mass. It thus provides twice the protection of Aluminum for only 50% more weight. Of course, pinching pennies is out of the question.
PLASTI-STEEL 3 — As it turns out, metal alloys still have some advances to offer materials science, specifically concerning their use with polymers. Plast-Steel is an alloy forged at near-plasma temperatures employing highly-refined iron ore, the purest nickel, and polymers blended with ceramic reagents. The result is a highly flexible and malleable plate armor tougher than titanium.
PLASTI-STEEL 5 — Plast-Steel 5 is the last step in conventional plated armor. Our scientists can develop no better materials with the current Laws of Physics and can only try to thicken the useful layers and explore alternative armoring techniques. Tougher, harder, longer lasting, more flexible; this alloy is everything you’ve been screaming for.
MOLECULAR LAMINATE — Where once we added layer upon layer of hard, reflective, angular metal alloys to increase the durability of an armor, now we apply Occam’s Razor, simplifying and annealing the chemical bonds in the material to tighten them and forge all-new bonds. This shell, though light and thin, is truly unbreakable. Rather, it tends to tear free of its moorings when ‘penetrated’.
QUANTUM FOAM SHELL — Hardly an armor layer at all, Quantum Foam Shell is composed of static- contained micro-singularities that absorb battle damage and eject its energy over their event horizons. Impressive for its gut-wrenching, swirling surface, it nevertheless has the sobering tendency to suck the unit using it into these singularities when it finally gives way.
BASIC TARGETING — The Basic Targeting Computer is essentially a gunner’s starter kit. It is near-sighted, only providing benefits to accuracy at close range. It performs only the most rudimentary ballistic calculations and is totally “dumb” when it comes to tracking targets or maintaining shoot lists. The gunner keys in only range, wind, and elevation data; the computer then provides deflection.
ADVANCED IMAGING — Improvements in gunner’s display resolutions have allowed the Advanced Imaging Computer to be developed. Now, when a target is entered into the computer’s banks, it’s position is more finely demarcated on the display, thus enabling more accurate ballistic calculations over slightly longer distances. The trivial cost hike is recovered in increased ammo efficiency.
ASSISTED TARGETING — Finally, computer logic circuits have been developed which will recognize and track objects presented to their sensors. The ATC is a landmark in accuracy over range. It has triple the precision of the Basic model, nearly twice the range, and all of the ergonomic features necessary for speedy use. Its high cost, though, guarantees its use in only the most critical units.
LASER GUIDENCE — The Laser Guidance Computer adds to the gunner’s precision by providing exact elevation and range data through the use of an infrared laser. The system pulse-lazes the target at which the gunner directs it and receives the pulses on a light sensor. It then uses the relative return times of the pulses to calculate the angle, range, and rate of approach of the victim.
COMPLETE THERMAL — The Complete Thermal Imaging Computer is a second brain for a gunner. It incorporates all of the previous systems’ advances and expands upon Advanced Imaging. Now, when a enemy is targeted, the system not only runs its ballistic computations, but also ‘reads’ the heat signature of the target, highlighting critical areas like engines and weapon barrels.
MINI RADAR — The first evolution in multi-target tracking, Mini-Radar is able to track, target, and maintain a shoot list for multiple enemies at once. This advance nearly triples the effectiveness of the system compared to Advanced Targeting while consuming only slightly more space than the Complete Thermal system. Situational awareness for the gunner is boosted to a whole new level.
FULL RADAR — Full Radar is a more advanced, higher range radar system intrinsic to the computer which grants even more target tracking and precision to the gunner. Emitting high frequency pulses of electromagnetic radiation, the Full Radar provides unparalleled situational awareness, tracking every target in its sweep range. This wonder nearly makes the human element obsolete.
HIGH ENERGY RADAR — There is no better targeting computer available. The High Energy Radar, by moving up the electromagnetic spectrum to emit its pulse, grants an observing and tracking range greater than most weapon ranges. Far from wasting this advantage, the system uses this edge to get the jump on any unobservant enemy. We should try to get this installed into every major unit.
KINETIC 50 KW PULSE — Shields are added protection for a unit which either dissipate or repel damaging energy which is directed at them. Kinetic Shields resist damage by absorbing then dissipating the energy into grounded capacitors. This weakest version, the 50KW Pulse Shield, attempts to absorb the energy in waves, fifty kilowatts at a time. As a result, it is fragile and sometimes out of synch.
KINETIC 50 KW CONT — The Continuous variant of the 50KW Kinetic Shield attempts to work around the key weakness in the Pulse variant: the off-time. By constantly maintaining the absorptive shield, it no longer ‘misses’ quanta of damage by being caught in the ‘off’ cycle. Of course, weight and cost go up if you decide to maintain continuous shielding. But then again: what price, victory?
KINETIC 100 KW CONT — This variant on Kinetic Shields is simply the bigger, better, tougher power rating for absorptive shielding. 100 kilowatts of protection is pro- vided by this device for only a marginal increase in weight and cost. This is one tech advance you should have no question about employing, once you have been behind one while it stops an incoming missile.
ENERGY 50 KW PULSE — Energy Shielding provides a far less expensive and power-demanding shield to the discriminating commander. Advances in electromagnetic waveform generation allow for shields to actually reflect or repel energy directed at them. This gets rid of the absorbing capacitors of the Kinetic Shield, dramatically reducing weight required and increasing protection provided.
ENERGY 50 KW CONT — As with the Kinetic Shields, Energy Shields can be maintained as waves or pulses, or can be directed as a constant stream of energy which never lets down its guard. The Continuous Energy Shield projects its defensive field in the constant manner and, therefore, is far superior in protection than the Pulse variant. In battle, it will prove that you get what you pay for.
ENERGY 100 KW CONT — Double your output, double your protection. This is the higher-wattage version of the Continuous Energy Shield. It was made possible by advances in energy quanta packetting that use magnetic bottles to prepare the field for emission. The bottles can contain much higher potential energy than the solid state emitters that powered the earlier variant.
100 KW MAG THERMAL — Magnetic Thermal Shielding picks up where the Continuous Energy Shielding left off by employing a highly unstable plasma to effect damage repulsion. This plasma, contained within a magnetic lattice, simply refuses to be any more excited by energy bombardment, smoothly repelling any energy quanta directed at it. Yet, the need to let in light is a small hole in its armor.
1 MW QED FLUX — QED Flux Shields are to shield technology what Quantum Foam is to armor. Rather than trying to manage damage energy directed at it, the QED Flux merely sends it out of the known universe. By maintaining micro-singularities within a magnetic matrix on the unit hull, it generates an event horizon over which it can eject any incoming fire. Just watch that you don’t lean on it!
EXTERNAL POD — This is simply an externally- mounted pod which increases the available space on a unit that employs it. Nothing is free, though, and the External Pod grants its space at a minor increase in weight, cost, and defensive profile stature.
CHF/FLR POD — This pod stores chemically-fired flares and ribbons of metal which are automatically ejected when a missile or targeting computer begins to track the unit. Considering that this protection comes with no power cost, it will soon seem obligatory.
ELEC JAMMER — Electronic Jammers are the flip- side of the Chaff and Flare Pods in that they actively deter and confuse incoming tracking signals rather than passively throwing up distract- ions to tracking sensors. The gain they bring, however, has its price.
TRNS GEARING — This handy device offers the option of designing gearing into the drivetrain of a unit so that it can transfer excess top speed capability into increased available power for the unit’s systems. It is used most in heavy units with major ordinance.
OVER DRIVE — The Overdrive is the inverse of Transmission Gearing in that it allows a unit design to trade excess power for an increase in top speed. It is perfect for squeezing extra k.p.h.s out of lightly-armed or -shielded recon units.
AUTO LOADER — This tricky mechanical device bypasses the biggest bottleneck in the rate-of-fire formula: the human loader. By automatically clearing a weapon’s breach and inserting the next round, it greatly reduces firing time.
MINE ROLLER — The Mine Roller is a special device which clears an area suspected as being mined by simply setting off mines over which it rolls. It controls and directs detonation in order to prevent such a mine clearing method from being a Pyrrhic victory.
FLASH CHARGER — Designed as a flexibility tool, the Flash Charger is a bulky device which can be put in-line with the unit’s drivetrain to increase the overall available power to the unit’s systems. Though it consumes weight, already slow units love the juice.
AMMO BULLETS — What can we say, boss? It’s Ammo. Adding this special will add a number of rounds of bullets equal to the ammo loadout of your most plentiful weapon, 40mm or less in bore. Thus, three identical weapons with one Ammo case go to 133% each.
AMMO SHELLS — Adding this special will add a number of rounds of shells equal to the ammo loadout of your most plentiful weapon, 50mm or more in bore. Thus, three identical weapons with one Ammo case go to 133% each.
AMMO MISSILES — Adding this special will add a number of shots of missiles equal to the ammo loadout of your most plentiful launcher, MLRS excluded. Thus, three identical launchers with one Ammo case go to 133% each.
AMMO MLRS — Adding this special will add a number of shots of missiles equal to the ammo loadout of one of your MLRS Missile Launchers. Since a unit can carry only one MLRS Launcher, this effectively doubles its load.
UNIT RELOADER — Available only to Transport Choppers and Personnel Carriers, this handy little item will rearm all soldiers loaded into the unit with which it has been equipped. No troop transport should be without this extension to tactical utility.
AMMO PLASMA — Adding this special will add a number of shots of plasma equal to the ammo loadout of your most plentiful Plasma weapon. Thus, three identical weapons with one Ammo case go to 133% loadout each.
NEURAL LINK — Though only one is allowed per unit, there is no greater overall benefit to a unit’s effectiveness than this item. It creates a direct, neurological connection between the vehicle and its driver, providing instant, immediate control.