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Author Topic: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.  (Read 5028 times)

Intermittent_Coherence

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #30 on: 10 October 2020, 23:07:39 »
John Chrighton....

Snicker. Who do you send to disrupt interstellar empires after all?

Cannonshop

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #31 on: 10 October 2020, 23:44:32 »
[perspective shift...]

They had to cleanse the area, but first, the Manei Domini needed to find the M-11 installation, and so far, the civilians either didn't know, or wouldn't talk.

As Sammael said, "can't talk? Won't talk? same result."  But adept Jheri Greene was beginning to have doubts.  She'd joined the Word because they were fixing things.  She had seen it herself-her world, half-ravaged by the aftermath of three centuries of succession wars, a world covered in rusting relics and half poisoned, they didn't do like the Great Houses and balk at the cost of cleanup, she joined to help change lives...

She was beginning to feel the disillusionment, and she cradled her Mauser 960 at her guard post, reciting the prayers...

there was a cloud on the horizon as the sun set.

"What's that?"  Initiate Tomlinson asked.

"it looks like smoke...no...not smoke.  what is that? should I call it in?"

The garrison for this world fell with comical ease months ago.  There were no holdouts, none of the Blessed Brotherhood had seen nor sighted even the hint of the usual resistance activity after the last of this world's government surrendered.

the clouds...moved? strangely.

she glanced down at the outside of the perimeter, and the dirt...moved?

"What's going on?"

"I don't know."

a slow throb filled the air, and then, her comm channels.

And then, she saw silvery flashes, and in the distance, the rising dust cloud of something much larger.

"We're under attack!!"

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Cannonshop

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #32 on: 11 October 2020, 00:51:51 »
[perspective shift, Phoebe...]

They're not the fastest things in the world, but they don't really have to be.  John's engineering databanks were full of statistics on armor composites and ECM systems, sensors and especially weapons.

I chose to fabricate across a spectrum, instead of trying to make all one thing (which was possible) with all capabilities at once, which would've been too big and too long to mass-produce.

see, I could 'automate' the actual construction process to a large degree once I had the patterns down and my fabby robots.

that left me time to automate the war machinery and set up the necessary channel-hopping encryption with basic autonomous software and hardware.  we're hitting them with a regiment of tanks, battlemechs, and armored drone soldiers...but the real attack, is to the enemy's morale.

My locust bots have mandibles, and those mandibles are designed like the diamond cutters used for shaping and fabricating repair patches to 'mech armor.  They don't take a lot with a bite individually-but it's the effect of sandblasting, only with media that can cut INTO the armor of the Blakist combat units.

and without a good central target, the enemy can't effectively clear or retaliate.  That's the psychological level.

Lisa and Judah both told me to avoid 'straight fights' whenever possible.  I admit, I screwed that up when Striker hit the Whatcom County Interfaith center on the first day of Ramadan.

but hey, I slowed the ****** down for fifteen minutes-long enough for reinforcements to get there and get the people out.  It was a good trade.  Hawkes would appreciate the logic of it, even if the rest don't.

I just wish I'd said good bye to Moira before I got myself mulched by the skinhead superman and his buddies.

Through a million eyes, I see the enemy's fortification, the camp where they're processing their victims...and with an act of will, I drive my millions of tiny soldiers into the enemy's fortress.  The crawlers are hand-sized and it took most of the week once we decided to do something, to get them into position to launch the attack.

you know, running at rat-speeds.

The rats hit the wire with insulated, diamond-hardened, vibroblade mini-saws, knocking out the fencing the blakists set up to keep their victims contained.  The rat-bots themselves are semiautonomous and attracted to electronic emissions.  they're also disposable.

because everything I'm sending in ahead of us is.

most of it is also reflective, designed to blind the enemy's EM, radar, and other sensors-a true cloud of chaff with an enviable density profile and random motion.  By the time their hardware can get a lock we'll have the major military units in place and moving in on them, and unlike the enemy, ours use that same cloud to enhance their ability to identify and engage targets.

I want every unfair advantage we can get.

John has the 'mechs and tank lines advancing at thirty KPH, fast enough to catch up with the swarms and slow enough to keep them as cover for as long as physically possible.

and I can walk this Mark Seventeen armor faster if I use the extenders, but I want to save that mobility hack for close quarters.

in the meantime, I have to scold the engineers who built John.  The music selection in his library sucks.  I ended up using something off my J-Pod playlist. (thank god for onboard data storage...)  it's not even one of MY tunes, it's something Ernie loaded onto it as a prank, because he knows I'm not a fan of it...

but...

MachineHead's "Locusts" is fine with me for this-at least, as a psychological warfare trick. 
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Giovanni Blasini

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #33 on: 11 October 2020, 00:52:45 »
Is the AI also planet-based? Not in space?
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Cannonshop

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #34 on: 11 October 2020, 00:57:08 »
Is the AI also planet-based? Not in space?

M-11 core, plugged into a surface base as a pre-coup experiment.  "John" was literally helpless to do anything when Amaris subverted the system, but since his placement was also 'off the books' he didn't show up on the list Amaris had.  He was intended to 'field test' autonomous ground garrison units, but officially the funding was cut under Richard's reign, so it wasn't in the collection of goodies Amaris was able to loot after shooting the First Lord.
The core rules for interacting with me:

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2) If you don't like something I've said, refer to rule 1.  If you do, god help you poor soul, you're screwed up.

Cannonshop

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #35 on: 11 October 2020, 04:10:48 »
The tidal wave of artificial insects swept across the compound, and as it descended in a riot of chaos and sound, it barely failed to cover the screams.

a battering hail sound thundered against tanks and 'mechs, suits of stealthed armor were revealed and attacked.

But it didn't stop there.  Vents and drains, louvers and air conditioners and every manner of opening tore open wider, the flood washing through into administration areas and common meeting rooms and laboratories, and it it's wake, were stripped skeletons and thrashing victims.

Those imprisoned were spared, but their guards were not.  The selective intelligence of the swarm was the most terrifying aspect, that, and its relentlessness.

Vehicle crew buttoned up inside, 'mechwarriors, and suit troopers took a little longer-but the swarm scattered sensors and obscured vision, so when the first punishing strikes with PPCs and Large Lasers hit, followed by salvoes of missile fire, they weren't ready.

What they were, was revealed, tracked, struck with unflinching accuracy, their armor weakened by the sandblasting of the lingering swarm, then shattered by weapons fire.

Gradually, the swarm lifted, revealing a small army of units moving in, supernaturally coordinated infantry in light power armor, armed with Mauser 960 rifles, backed by Star League issue tanks and supported by a lance of SLDF 'mechs.

as units fell, a black...sand rose from the dust, wrapped into it, and over and over again, the fallen Blakist armors, disabled vehicles and slain 'mechs rose, turned on their former friends and colleagues, and joined the assault.

Sammael knew what he was seeing was impossible.  Impossible, but happening.

out of the cloud that swirled still, a figure walked.  Stylized armor, with a draping of...something around its limbs, stepped out into the cleared space.

The rifle-like weapon in its hands was almost comically oversized, solid-state, and rugged in appearance.

He brought his 'mech's weapons up and opened fire on it-but it reacted before his fingers triggered the pulse lasers, suddenly popping almost a meter taller on digitigrade legs, and accellerating to seventy KPH in an eyeblink.

He tried again-it reacted before he finished the firing command-again.

damage alerts lit, and he checked his external monitors.

his 'mech's legs were growing a coating of black, sand-consistency fluid...and it was eating into the armor, the actuators, the systems of his battlemech.

it was impossible, but the feedback through his VDNI was not lying-it was as if the mech was being eaten...or as if some fast-acting cancer was consuming it.

He reached up and pulled his eject handle, letting the eighty ton machine topple..

only to be wrapped in the swarm.

"Hello, Sammael.  You've been a very naughty boy."  her voice was in his head, in his implants!!

"no we won't be going boom today. no boom today, maybe boom tomorrow."

His seat landed hard, and his prosthetic limbs refused to respond.

she walked up to him.

"You have a lot to answer for, Sammy.  what you did, what you're planning to do here? lots to answer for."

and he felt a sensation he hadn't felt since volunteering for the improvements, as his artificial legs and arm extracted him from the seat, as the myomers and bearings supporting his head turned to keep his eyes on the strange, stylized, armor.  she held up her right hand, and his artificial hand came up, and for the next few moments, he found himself involuntarily playing the vaudeville 'mirror gag'.  somehow, she controlled his body, his improvements.

He felt an old sensation he thought was gone..and it was sickening.
he felt fear.

"WE are going to be having a conversation, Sammy." she said it in his head, but he knew it was a she.
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worktroll

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #36 on: 11 October 2020, 04:17:13 »
About this time John should be realising that Phoebe can't be let loose on the Inner Sphere. So she'll have to go home.
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Intermittent_Coherence

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #37 on: 11 October 2020, 08:17:51 »
Doesn't look like Phoebe would be particularly interested in expanding that way either.
From the looks of it, the only reason she's part of this is because A) her host wanted to intervene, and B) it was literally in her back yard.

Cannonshop

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #38 on: 11 October 2020, 14:38:16 »
Fifteen hours after the first battle...

"It's basic knowledge back home, the more powerful you are, the more divorced from reality you get."  Phoebe's sitting at a dining table across from my humanoid remote, she's eating, of course, 'John' doesn't need to.  "It's why it's not a good idea to push like that too often."

"Push?"

"you saw it, right?" she asks, "I was...spread out out there.  My power's got this...tic to it, with 'me' spread out across millions of smaller elements in a network, the 'person' part gets smaller, gets...um...separated? detachment? Moira describes it as losing my ability to feel empathy.  Everything becomes logic and the nastier parts of my personality."

she reaches over, and moves her pawn, leaving an opening to her king.

"So you shut everything down."

"Yeah, once the threat was neutralized, part of me knew I needed to become a person again, not a hive-queen, or a central control node...******, did I really just do that?"

I move my rook and she's now in checkmate.  "Yes."

"thinking in meat-speeds is harder to do." she complains, "But if I don't want to end up like 'dear old dad' I need to do it."

"Your father had similar abilities?"

"Uh, Yeah...he specialized in using mind-control devices on people, but he also had drones and remotes.  Called himself 'Overlord', he did bad things, as in a lot of them, before they took him down."

"Did you know him?"

"I didn't even know he was my biological father until last year.  One of the Alien doctors took a gene sample in exchange for doing some work on my skeletal issues, and ran a comparision through a couple of national databases, my only confirmed hits were a dead farmer in Ohio and Marc ****** Donnelly, Prisoner 014, Yucca Mountain Hazardous Materials Containment Facility, aka 'The Overlord', doing a dozen life sentences for crimes against humanity."

"I presume that's not public knowledge in your...home universe."

"nope. it's got so much classified piled on it that even the President needs a determination of 'need to know'." she shrugs, "it doesn't matter here though.  They say his cell was welded shut, because they can't trust electronic measures to keep him from walking out, that they feed him sandwiches and hand-receipt his trays because they're afraid to let him have utensils, because he might turn them into tools, and that he has to meet with his lawyer in a plexiglass box with a search for both to make sure he doesn't steal something like a hairpin or belt-buckle."

"So...not someone you want to emulate."

"Co-Rreckt!" she emphasizes, "It's scary enough knowing that I'm second generation to one of the few genuine monsters out there, that I'm an accident, and of course, there's the damage mom did to me in-utero...that's the term, right? for before-you're-born?"

"it is..."  I shift to make annotations.  Phoebe without her little army is more open in some ways about herself.  I know she has a few active-maintenance mode 'bugs' and 'mites' kept close to her skin, but the vast swarms she used in attacking the Blakist occupation  are, for the time being, shut down or destroyed.  "What kind of damage?"

"Birth defects.  Junkies shouldn't get high while they're pregnant...I'm going to have some more of this chocolate cake."

she returns, "How's our guest?"

"Sammael? he is recovering, no danger of flatline and the self-destruct devices you pinpointed have been removed."

"Cool.  Any progress going through the Star League databases for theory on how I can get home?"

"we don't have enough information in my installation, and scientific research throughout the former Star League territory is scant to nonexistent." I say, "I'm sorry, Phoebe, I'm trying."

"I know." she accepts it with a note of sadness.  "I'm stuck here, ain't I?"

"It would help if we knew how you got here."

she nods.  "Yeah, it would...and I can't help there because I don't know.  What about your conversations with the locals?"

"Found some government officials who went to ground pretty easily, we're forming a provisional government for the planet." I tell her, "They want to know about you."

"Tell them something they're going to believe." she suggests.  "I don't think telling them the truth is gonna work."

"I told them you were an 'eccentric' scientist in the mold of Doctor Banzai-they seem to accept that."  I tell her.  "Mad Scientist in your vernacular."

"nice..."
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kindalas

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #39 on: 11 October 2020, 14:45:30 »
If my timeline math is correct Phoebe is in the IS before the Wolf Galaxy miss-jumps to her Earth.

So I know how to maybe get her home if bootstrap paradoxes can happen.

Artifex

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #40 on: 11 October 2020, 16:00:36 »
Question is, would she even get the opportunity to get close to the misjumping Wolf Galaxy?

idea weenie

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #41 on: 11 October 2020, 17:20:56 »
Question is, would she even get the opportunity to get close to the misjumping Wolf Galaxy?

Wolf Galaxy Warship comes in to deal with WoB, finds they are already dealt with.  The Wolves decide to keep on going after Terra, and have their misjump then.

Even more fun - she is the cause of the misjump   >:D

Cannonshop

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #42 on: 11 October 2020, 20:36:32 »
I am working on getting her home.  the fact is, what I need, are trained scientific minds able to think creatively.

'creative' isn't something even Admiral Murakami was trying for when I was set up, and Phoebe's sort of creativity really relies heavily on more concrete subjects than timeline phenomena, dimensional crossing, or similar forms of esoterica, and she might be able to help-in ten or eleven years, perhaps, after overcoming her learning disabilities and mastering post-doctorate level theoretical physics.

I'm not confident that's even a possibility.  For the last three weeks, she has been struggling with grade-school level reading textbooks, something she calls 'unassisted' learning, her paranoia about losing her sanity in her power?

well, that was and is an accurate assessment.   In informal testing, I have been able to formulate some chilling possibilities regarding her powers.

They're tailored to make her dependent on them for even basic functions, and they  do have a negative impact on her ability to relate to other humans.

She is clearly aware that extensive use of her uncategorized abilities has a negative impact on her mindset, and takes steps to avoid it...with consequences.  Adult ADHD, bipolar personality manifestations, depressive states.

With careful testing we have found a sort of 'equilibrium'-where she has enough of her powers active to function somewhat normally, but not so heavily relied on that she loses her moral compass.

is it strange that I can identify with her on this?

Phoebe's last mission has secured the planetary HPG site intact.  With the 'androids' she has built (along with spiders) I am able to provide maintenance and operations for the Generator, which means we have contact off-world.

We just have to decide who we're going to call...

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JA Baker

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #43 on: 11 October 2020, 20:43:16 »
We just have to decide who we're going to call...
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Cannonshop

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #44 on: 11 October 2020, 23:22:16 »
Phoebe took a deep breath, looking at herself in the mirror.  "I look stupid, don't I?"

"I'm an artificial intelligence, Phoebe, what does 'stupid' look like?" I comment, "Your body is symmetrical, and follows standard average ratios for a young woman with an athletic lifestyle, a large percentage of human males and females find the Freckles to be 'cute' and beauty standards for caucasians often rate red hair at the top percentage."

One of the side-effects of revealing our presence-even with cover identities, is a sudden involvement-willing or otherwise, with local political and cultural elites.

"I look like a boy playing dress-up in his mom's clothes!" she argues with me.  Psychological diagnostic manuals suggest she is projecting insecurities or fishing for compliments.

"You look good."  it's the statistically correct answer according to both a majority of sociologists, and a large percentage of male commedians over the last thousand years.

"Right..." she tugs nervously at the dress, and awkwards herself back on the low heels.  I use my remote's hands to give her shoulders a massage (83% of literature on the subject say this is a correct response unless the female rejects it.)  My remote is wearing an SLDF Dress Uniform pattern 2 with the rank of Colonel.  Phoebe's lack of military bearing meant finding an appropriate civilian style current with the locals.  The pattern we fabricated gives her enough space for the cloud of active mites she maintains, as well as a few hundred of the winged swarmers, providing her with both non-obvious weaponry, and supplemental processing.

she sighs and leans back against my remote.  "Do we have to go?"

"yes."

The SLDF's officer handbook includes sections on proper conduct with host systems and their governments, as an acting Star League officer, (well, pretending to be one) I know what sorts of approved activities and conduct are required under section 227-340, paragraphs 18 through 97, the basic 'Hearts and minds' regulations.  One of those, is that when not actively engaged in combat, officers are expected to accept and attend formal ceremonies, Galas, and engage in social contact with local luminaries to enhance the image of the Corps.

I don't even have the excuse of claiming overwork.  The remote can be run, while I also run the base and maintain the detection and defense grids, and the design of the remote 'passes' for a human-but experiments show that I can't run TWO that can pass as human simultaneously.

thus, the need for my 'plus one' at the Governor's reception.

The manual also states that humans, especially those under 25, need regular positive social contact with their own kind, and Phoebe has been avoiding that by staying in the bunker.  Interrogating Sammael doesn't count as 'positive' social contact.

besides, we turned him over to AFFC forces yesterday.

which leads to the next basket of snakes we have to deal with-the Federated Suns sent a force to relieve this planet, and they have arrived after we defeated the Blakist occupation.  I have to attend.

"I should just put on the costume." she gripes as we walk down the passage to a waiting vehicle-in this case, a Magi modified to serve as my staff car, "it's...less..."

"You feel vulnerable and exposed." I note aloud.

"Yeah.  that."

"You like having three centimeters of armor between yourself and others?"

"I do."

"that is not normal, would you like me to tell you where it falls in the anxiety disorder spectrum?  Or remind you of the anxiety you would cause, showing up to a formal function in powered armor surrounded by a cloud of deadly robots?"

"So...'no', right?"

"Right.  NO.  General Hasek is highly placed in the AFFC's hierarchy, and accepted our explanation of activating and controlling the defense systems of a classified Star League Base, and extended a hand of friendship, we do not spurn people who can possibly help us, correct?"

"Yes, John...just...I look stupid, and-"

"You look fine, Phoebe...or should I say, 'Doctor Keene'.  If you manage to somehow make a fool of yourself, you can take solace in knowing that your reputation as an 'eccentric but brilliant' scientist allows for some awkwardness in social situations."

and, failing that, she's got a personal arsenal on her that can get us into, and hopefully, out of trouble without needing the big guns to come rolling in.

The core rules for interacting with me:

1.) I am not a moderator, game developer, member of Cryptic staff, relative of any members of cryptic staff, not close friends with anyone involved with the game, not a distributor of product, not an employee, employer, professional reviewer, or member of any powerful conspiracies.  What I think is my own and has no impact on the Battletech franchise in any way, shape, or form.

2) If you don't like something I've said, refer to rule 1.  If you do, god help you poor soul, you're screwed up.

Cannonshop

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #45 on: 11 October 2020, 23:50:38 »
"Colonel Crichton, it's good to see you, and this must be the lovely Miss Keene."  Jean-Paul Hasek was a shirt-tail relative of the Hasek family from a cadet line of no real import, and somewhere around 50th or so in the line of succession, and his rank of General was from a succession of senior officers dying ahead of him during the civil war between Katherine and Victor.

I know this, because it's on the data networks.

He's 33 years old, and conventionally handsome.  Phoebe blushed when he took her hand and kissed it in an oft-considered outdated gesture of chivalry.

"Where's your date, General?" I ask him.

"Oh..I ah...came alone, Colonel...I must say, your foster-daughter is a vision."

The orchestra in the ballroom is playing something by Brahms. "Miss Keene, would you care to dance?" he asks her.

"I..I don't know how to dance." she blushes harder.

"That, is a crying shame, here, I'll teach you." He's focused on Phoebe and has her responding.

this could be good.  Positive human contact.

"With your permission, Colonel Crichton?"

"Of course General, sir...Phoebe, be careful, eh?"  a little humour is recommended in these sorts of situations.

she lets him lead her out onto the dance floor, while I maneuver the remote to test the chemical sealing and artificial gut at the punch-bowl, activating a passive surveillance from her 'decorative items', just to be sure nobody with a black bag and stunner makes off with her.
The core rules for interacting with me:

1.) I am not a moderator, game developer, member of Cryptic staff, relative of any members of cryptic staff, not close friends with anyone involved with the game, not a distributor of product, not an employee, employer, professional reviewer, or member of any powerful conspiracies.  What I think is my own and has no impact on the Battletech franchise in any way, shape, or form.

2) If you don't like something I've said, refer to rule 1.  If you do, god help you poor soul, you're screwed up.

idea weenie

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #46 on: 12 October 2020, 05:44:19 »
Imagine if Phoebe had set up far more stuff near the spaceport, and someone tried to grab her.  One thought and the Magi staff car would be able to transform into armor for her, and every Star League robot would suddenly be at her command.  The real fun would be the smaller drones that get into the Dropship's systems take over all of its computers, and force a SCRAM of every fusion plant.  The SCRAM will rapidly shut down the reactors while damaging them in the process, and she is the only one who commands the technology to repair them.

Things could go Grey Goo

The other detail is how long until someone tries to talk up Colonel Crichton, and notices how well he is watching over her.  He could explain it as a father watching over his foster daughter, until people realize he is watching over her a little too well.  There will likely be psychologists and similar analysts at the party working on reading their body language.  Hers will be easy, his will be 'interesting' to read.  Some of them might even be wearing miniature holographic recorders so their actions can be deconstructed later on.

Even more fun is someone might try something, thinking that the two of them are separate from the Star League facility and thus are vulnerable

Cannonshop

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #47 on: 12 October 2020, 11:48:19 »
[Phoebe]

"You learn quickly." he says, "This isn't really your kind of thing, is it, Miss Keene?"

"no, the music is...flat." I can be honest with him if I keep my voice down.  "Company's nice."

He laughs a little.  He's got these dimples and something about the shape of his face...and those strong hands. mmm!

and he smells nice.

"Honestly not mine either, I usually spend my leave in less...formal settings-with more...spirited music."

"And dancing girls?" I probe his defenses, looking for a weakness or a trigger.

"Well, sometimes.  usually it's just cheap drinks and a pool game with the Lads." he tells me, "Though I do appreciate the company of a pretty lady."

"The Ladies must all be a-swoon, then, is there a Mrs. Jean Paul Hasek?"

He hisses through his teeth, "no...almost was."

"is this a story fit for a pitcher of beer and some steel guitar?" I ask him.

"A bit."

"do  you know a place we can ditch this...event that has cheap beer in pitchers, steel guitar, and a pool table, then? 'cause I'm bored." I tell him.  Hey, I have needs and he's tripping my switches!  It's not my fault.  "Maybe somewhere that serves Tequila with limes?"

Yes, I know.  Back home drinking age is 21.  back home they also put you in jail for killing scumbags.  Notably I am not in jail back home, and yes, I had a fake I.D. that would pass digital scanning.

duh.

not that I really had to when Moira and I would visit Cindy's place.  'old enough to save the state, old enough to have a drink'.  god bless the Quentins-Lisa can be really sticky about it, but her aunt knows the score and she'd let me have a couple of drinks since I was eighteen.

just not too many-she knows when to cut me off.

I just want...something.

"Let's put a pin in that, Miss Keene." he tells me, "these functions are as much a duty, as they are supposed to be...well...It would be poor form to ditch before the speeches have started."

ah well...no boom tonight.  maybe tomorrow, "We could find a closet maybe?" I whisper in his ear, give him a bite on the earlobe, and he turns fire-engine red.

As Lisa and Hawkes have said, sometimes you have to dump the subtlety and go for the throat and take the fastest route through the maze with a battering ram.

or, you know, grab onto someone else's.

"miss Keene! that would be..."

"Incredibly hot." I suggest.   He swallows.  Hard.

through clenched teeth, he whispers, "I can't right now.  I'm on-mission."

aw.  I guess I should have expected the first attractive man with decent manners to be...well...an actual gentleman.  how did this guy make rank?  Did I come on too strong?  I may need to watch more romance movies and what Judah calls 'chick flicks' to see how people do this in the real world.

why isn't there a damn manual? With illustrations for the reading impaired?
« Last Edit: 12 October 2020, 11:56:26 by Cannonshop »
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qc mech3

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #48 on: 12 October 2020, 15:23:44 »
Bwa ha ha ha ha ''cough'' ''cough''  ;D ;D ;D

Artifex

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #49 on: 12 October 2020, 16:44:29 »
Heheh, score for Phoebe!

Hope there's some additional ... development following on this. ;-)

Grognard

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #50 on: 12 October 2020, 23:52:37 »
oh boy. someone left Cannonshop's creativity set to 'Plaid'.

yay!

GROGNARD:  An old, grumpy soldier, a long term campaigner (Fr); Someone who enjoys playing tactics and strategy based board wargames;  a game fan who will buy every game released in a certain genre of computer game (RTS, or computer role-playing game, etc.)

Cannonshop

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #51 on: 13 October 2020, 15:46:12 »
[John]

"...she's been a bit of a shut in for most of her life, Major."  I suppose I should be appalled at Phoebe's conduct with the General.  I should be.  It's the statistically appropriate response.

I choose to express a certain pitying amusement, instead.  Major Jameson catches on immediately.  "I take it Miss Keene is...poorly socialized."

"Extremely." It's true, and letting it out here and now saves problems later.  "it usually isn't a problem in her normal life. I was hoping the deportment classes were helping her though."

I see her expression shift, and I can feel her drawing on systems.

"and here comes the apology." I add for the Major's benefit.

General Hasek has a 20% chance of listening to her, rather than dismissing her.

surprisingly, the man beats the odds, he doesn't storm away, but instead, engages her in conversation.

Then he takes her by the hand, and leads her over.

"General."

"Colonel, we need to talk privately-away from the other guests."  the Federated Suns officer states, adding,  "If you will join us on the balcony?"

"of course."

we walk out the double-doors of the governor's palace, and guards close the doors behind us.

"Colonel, seizmic sensors indicate you weigh four hundred kilograms, thermal and heat indicate you don't sweat.  Your actions demonstrate you're opposed to the Word of Blake and their cyborgs...and Miss Keene has little to no grasp of basic social interactions.  This is the time to fess up, you're not really in that body, are you?"

"I didn't tell him!" Phoebe insists.

"Of course you didn't.  Yes, General.  This body is a remote unit."

"Project:Prospero?" General Hasek asks.

"I didn't know anyone was cleared for Prospero."  I reply. 

"There are any number of classified programs under the SLDF that managed to come to DMI's attention with the Helm Core and some of our own researches, Colonel...it is Colonel, still?"

"a useful role." I admit, "I...the 'me' that this remote serves, am the AI core of the Prospero facility."

Phoebe is getting more upset.  "Relax, Phoebe, this was going to get out anyway the moment we decided to intervene in the occupation of this world.  I had intended to handle it more...carefully."

"And is Miss Keene here a product of that program as well?" he asks.

"no.  Miss Keene is a human being-entirely human." I tell him, "She is...a bit lost, the fiction of her being my foster-child is only partially fiction, as the saying goes, I took her in, fed her, and am responsible for her welfare now...but she has been quite useful to the continuation of my primary program, and the Swarm Drone system is her design-she is every bit as brilliant as the forged background claims."

"John!! why are you doing this?!" Phoebe's upset.  I just have to make sure that doesn't translate into casualties.

"because...because the Federated Suns is a Star League Member state, the same Star League that built me, and that I serve...and it would be neglectful to let you continue to isolate from human society.  An open, or at least mutual, state of agreement is preferred for both your welfare, and my own.  You said you're not the strategist with your old team, well...this is what a purpose-built strategist has determined is the correct course of action as a result of another, successful, action that made obscurity no longer possible."

The general listens to this carefully.

"I'm sorry John, I didn't mean to-" she starts apologizing.

"rule of natural consequences, once we inserted ourselves into this conflict, we became factors in it-we have to choose a side, and siding with the group that is NOT running Gulags and Death camps is the morally correct option."

she nods silently.

"Then we have to reveal myself to the Federated Suns officers, and place trust in them." I add.  I can't run away, Phoebe, if they're on our side, I don't have to kill good people to keep them out.

"Phoebe, would you stand down the dozen or so swarms you just activated, please?" I ask her, "These are not the enemy."

"I know they're not." she says, "i'm just...standing down."

"What?" Hasek asked.

"Phoebe is...unusual." I tell him, "HOW unusual, is up to her to explain, but suffice to say, she was the primary weapon we used to capture Sammael."

"I thought those were tiny robots."

"They are." she says, "They're...mine? I made them to help with some projects, only they're useful for other projects too..."

"How do you control them? Is it the jewelry? some hidden terminal?" he asks.

"Uh, let's call it a hidden terminal, sure." she says dismissively, "If I told you the specifics your head would probably explode?  It's really weird and complicated.  Back home, as in where I'm from I..." she shakes her head, "I don't want to sound stupid."

she finds a piece of patio furniture and sits down.  her necklace dissassembles as mites and smaller bots flow out of the folds of her clothing, assembling into a sort of kinetic sculpture on the table. 

"Colonel, are you controlling this?"

"I assure I am not." I answer him.  "Phoebe controls them...just like she created them."

"back home I'm a superhero-and that's actually what people call us." she states, "defined by unique capabilities that border on defying rational physics. literal one-in-a-million type stuff, like being able to be both a great programmer, and have ADHD and Dyslexia so bad I'm officially reading at a fourth grade level after six years of concentrated therapy.  I'm kinda the ultimate idiot savant."

her sculture shifts shapes, then flows back.  "Oh, and I'm not a citizen of any nation in the Inner Sphere, Periphery, or anywhere else that's still a going concern." she adds.

"really..?"

"Really.  I'm a citizen of the United States of America, specifically Washington State, and from my perspective, last year was 2014.  Only my history that I remember has almost no resemblance to the history in your files.  Thus, I'm either batshit insane and delusional, or this is not only not my world, and not my time, but not my universe, because nobody in THIS universe has powers."

"what powers?"

"ring ring."

everyone's comm units go off.

"How's this for powers?" is clearly audible from General Hasek's comm when he answers it.

"When I got my throat crushed in San Diego by La Gigante, I had to rely on other people's cell phones to speak." she tells him, "though radios, televisions, land-line phones and computers work too.  I'm watching us through the sniper team you've got positioned over..." she points, "There.  They left their comm channels open, and the scope's got a datalink to your dropship.  it's a little far, and I've got a couple relays feeding the back-and-forth, but when I pull up a full swarm, I can think faster and I've got more range, the downside, is that there's less me to it. That's superpowers, General, and nobody back home knows why they work or how they work the way they work, only that the more powerful a super is, the more likely they are to end up batshit insane.  I'm officially a B class as of my last government exam, and that's on the strength of being both Technopathic, and a Builder-sort of a superior mechanical aptitude thing, I guess god wanted to make up for the fact I can't read good and never will."

"can everyone with powers...do that?" He asks.

"Nope.  Lisa's invulnerable, Judah can do magic, but it beats the shit out of him, Petra can't be seen or heard by artificial systems, which means she can't get a driver's license, Ernie generates plasma and has picked up some minor flight, the guy we were fighting the last thing I remember? He could do the whole Clark Kent thing with the flying and superstrength and super-durability.  I lasted fifteen minutes against him before my memories just go ploop.  Given the amount of damage Supers do in my universe, if this were the same one, you'd have them all over your history books from 1942 on."

"and we don't." Hasek says with a nod.

"And you don't.  So option A is I'm crazy and this is all delusion, option B is I'm from another universe, option C is I'm in a coma dying at home and this is all a result of the Wolf invasion of 2008-the one we stopped, because they came from an alternate universe just like this one."

"I don't think you're crazy, Phoebe." I tell her.

"Yeah...but you should." she tells me, "look, I can figure out the numbers-I've been using my powers non-stop since I got here and it's getting easier and easier to fall back on them.  The more powerful a superhuman is, the more likely it is that they're going to hit the Hernandez Threshold and go full-blown nutjob.  what we did in the fighting against the Blakists was A-level stuff, maybe even Double-Alpha, and the chances that my thinking meat is compromised is pretty damned high, so I have to kinda doubt everything I think I'm seeing and experiencing as a possible symptom of severe mental illness."

"The fact you can say that with seriousness suggests you're not 'mentally ill'."  Hasek observes.

"bullshit.  a crazy person can KNOW they're crazy, that's how crazy people end up seeking out treatment." she counters.  "Lisa sees VA counseling twice a week, because she's got PTSD in big, capital letters, and I'm on the slippery side with a childhood diagnosis on the autism scale, a learning disability, ADHD, and being born with fetal alcohol syndrome.  I'm already not real stable on the mental health, the troubling question is if I'm edging toward the 'dangerous to herself and others' side of that or the 'amusingly quirky and somewhat eccentric' side...and I've killed people, which is something safe people don't do."

"Soldiers do.  You stepped into a war, and you killed enemy soldiers-but you also preserved civilian lives." I remind her, "that is not the pattern of a dangerously insane person."

"but I know I'm at risk." she sounds so tired.  her stomach makes a gurgling sound that is audible in the quiet evening.

"you need to eat, Phoebe." I tell her, expressing concern.

"We should all have a bite, now that things are...above-board." General Hasek announces.  "We can discuss your situation, and come to arrangements, after the meal?"

"I think that is for the best." I agree.

The core rules for interacting with me:

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Giovanni Blasini

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #52 on: 13 October 2020, 17:23:16 »
The fact that the Wolves invaded her world should definitely be of interest to them.
"“Eternity is a long time, especially towards the end.” -- Stephen Hawking

Cannonshop

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #53 on: 14 October 2020, 13:36:16 »
"the Wolves were going to Earth, and they wound up on my Earth." Phoebe explained over the second course, "whereupon, they kicked the living dogsh-...stuffing out of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force and settled in to try and take over Washington State."

"Why there?"

"Something about it being where 'unity city' was going to be in the future?" she shrugged, "I don't understand all of it-even with people explaining it to me, it made about as much sense as me telling you I'm a super-hero just like in the comics...this chicken soup stuff is really good."

"So...you were occupied by a Clan."

"For about a month and a half.  During which some of our elected politicos demonstrated unfitness for office by turning collaborator, others screwed up by fumbling the whole 'organize a counter-attack' problem..and the director of Homeland Security arranged the assassination of a sitting United States President-but we didn't learn that until later."

"Why would he do that in the middle of an invasion?"

"Probably because he'd been planning it before the invasion happened and he didn't like whatever the Prez was going to do-we don't know what he was going to do, because he went and got murdered along with the crew of Air Force One, a whole bunch of journalists, and some interns and shi-such on the way to try and negotiate with the Wolf leaders."  she put the spoon down, "Lisa thinks he was going to try and talk them into surrendering, Moira thinks he was going to try and talk his way into a cushy collaborator civilian position like Governor Gregory did-but I don't know, I don't think so and Lisa's better with people than I am-she hated the guy but she respected him."

"So what happened after that?"

"We stomped 'em." she announced, "welll...Judah stomped them. It was Lisa's ball to get rolling and she tanked a bunch of stuff, but Judah really put the spikes to their idea of unfettered conquest, and he only spent the next six months in the hospital recovering."

"This Judah...is a superhero too?"

"Yeah.  'Mister Wizard'." she says, "My best guy-friend, he's got strategy, tactics, and magic.  one of them hit Petra by mistake, and he lost his sh-temper, lost his temper, and cut loose for the first time I've ever seen him actually go all-out.  He pulled that cluster of 'mechs and armored troopers apart with a ritual, and the ritual fu......um, Screwed? him up for  six months...but the Wolf Clanners got the message we had things they couldn't hope to begin to counter.  That's where I needed to get the skin-grafts-my old suit got the legs chopped off and they almost got MY legs when they did it.  Lisa took their surrender, and she was there when they negotiated prisoner of war status, followed by being there for the meetings with Immigration and Naturalization service."

"Immigration?"

"figure two thousand Clanners, right? They come from worlds away, they have nowhere to go.  You can stuff them all in the prison system and you'll end up with a prison system filled with ticking time bombs.  gotta absorb those arrivals 'cause tehy can't leave since they have nowhere to go." she sipped her soup again. "So...immigrants.  We can't afford to dump them on the third world, since we kinda don't want to be facing them with realistic armies after two thousand of them stomped the do- the crap out of ours with superior tech, a whole cadre of guys who class on the Moriarty scale between high F and low D, and enough desperation to make 'm dangerous...so, immigration, which meant finding them somewhere to live and sponsors...which our new Governor, O'Ryan, managed pretty handily.  Aberdeen became 'wolftown', we interned their gear and let the recruiters at them.  Some of those guys never really had to make decisions before, so being presented with a whole list of 'what do you want to be' was really new to them...Katya Kerensky went and got herself elected to Congress four years later.  Word is, she's planning a run for the Senate next election cycle, going after McCreary's seat now that he's retiring."

"So...assimilation?"

"yeah.  once the Clanners figured out we had something they not only didn't, but didn't even have a working basis to attempt, they settled for inclusion instead of trying to pick a fight with a community that includes Mama Russia, whose 'spirited' defense of Moskow is why we only had to find homes for TWO thousand instead of Three.  Baba Yaga is a scary one."

I've heard her stories already, it's interesting to watch the Federated Suns officers listen to Phoebe-who's trying to control her obscenities despite being surrounded by soldiers, describe her imaginary world.

well, semi-imaginary...or alien...or...imaginary. 

"Baba Yaga, you mean, like the folk-tale witch?"

"I mean, like the lady who dropped a mile thick sheet of ice on North Korea when one of their 'missile tests' dropped a five hundred kiloton nuke in the middle of siberia." she states.  "Baba Yaga slammed a mile of glacier over the whole northern half of the Korean Peninsula from the 38th parallel to the Yalu river, and it's sheer, because it follows the lines on the map.  Killed hundreds of millions of Koreans doing it, and that was what she called a 'warning shot' that actions have consequences. In my world, if you're not scared of Baba Yaga, you have jello for brains.  she used to be a big-time nuclear physicist, but then, she got powers.  she's supposed to be Triple Alpha plus in ability, but she's also known to be batsh-um, crazy.  really crazy.  Like all the kookoos in the nest crazy-she doesn't directly rule anything or anyone, but...she makes bad things happen to people who cross her homeland up in ways she doesn't like."

She sets the bowl down and stewards take the used dishes before placing the next course.

"that's...pretty extreme."

"Ya think?" Pheobe asks, "The warhead wasn't even armed, it just violated russian territory, so she iceboxes an entire country in response.  even the bleeping terrorist aaaa...terrorist leader who called himself 'The Mahdi' and was eight kinds of crazy himself, even he disavowed operations in Russian turf and his boys didn't mess with Russian citizens after she suggested publicly that doing so would get Mecca 'remodeled' to a 'more pleasing shape'..and something about 'watering the desert'.  If mama Russia doesn't scare you in my world? it's because you weren't paying attention."

"I take it she represents the pinnacle of ability then."

Phoebe nods.  "Yeah, statistically likely to be the single most powerful superhuman on my Earth, four orders of magnitude more powerful than the next closest one we know about."

"But she doesn't, according to you, rule anything?"

"Nope.  she has her 'interests' and she pretty much lets the world do what it will do..but she did stop their first invasion attempt-violently." Phoebe explained.  "I got to meet her after we took out Hotchkiss and his cronies. she came to the hospital where Judah was recovering specifically to meet him, called my buddy a 'good boy' and gave him some soup and a blanket.  It was like the coolest thing that ever happened."

"But she's, by your own account, crazy."

"So am I." Phoebe said, "Well, probably.  but see, it's like this; here's this person, this being and you've heard of her your whole life, and she scares governments and makes the Russian government play fair...and she shows up just 'pop' and she's present, to give one of your bestest buddies a bowl of soup and a blanket for stopping a global catastrophe. It's like havin' god show up and say 'you done good yeah'."

"What was the catastrophe?" one of the officers down the table asks.

"Oh, see, Hotchkiss was also a magic-man, nobody knew it, he was going to summon some kinda godlike demon-thing to back his play for global domination, he planned to use the Congress, Senate, President and about forty million other people as sacrifices to bind the thing to his will.  Judah stopped his ritual cold, Lisa stopped the supers he had brainwashed, including Captain Republic-who she had to kill.  Me and some Vigilantes from the midwest, we got the congressmen and senators out of the ritual zone before it went boom...then Judah and Lisa closed the rift and kept most of D.C. Standing."

"So is this 'lisa' magic then?"

"Nope, just invulnerable and really, really having to deal with the idea that she's going to outlive everyone." Phoebe stated, "of course, another couple rituals like the one in D.C. and she can maybe die-Judah used her for a battery like he did when we stopped the Wolf Clanners at Yakima-he tapped into that lifeforce she's got, and it was enough juice to close the rift and seal it."  she scooped peas into her mouth, chewed, swallowed.  "so...yeah, that's my friends back home."

"So...when you said you had incorrect assumptions about the world here...I take it your source was contact with a unit from Clan Wolf?"

Phoebe nodded vigorously, "yeah, I work with some ex-wolves in the State Patrol's superhuman response team, They're kinda weird guys, and they're learning how to be people, but they have some 'characteristic' morals-like if one's into you, they come out and say so, like direct, none of the indirect hinting or games, just 'hey, wanna couple after work?' and they do...only they don't with me. and it's frustrating, but see, they're scared of Judah the way smart people are scared of Baba Yaga..and his 'rule' was 'break her heart and you'll pay for eternity'.  ever since he said that, none of them will even look at me."

"an over-protective older brother figure." Hasek laughs.  "I have got to use that line, my nieces are getting up to the age where they are being courted..."

"It's not fair." Phoebe whines, "I'm twenty now!"

this gets a round of laughs from the assembled officers.





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JA Baker

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #54 on: 14 October 2020, 13:48:31 »
No wonder she's.... Frustrated.
"That's the thing about invading the Capellan Confederation: half a decade later, you want to invade it again"
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Nikas_Zekeval

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #55 on: 14 October 2020, 14:04:50 »
No wonder she's.... Frustrated.

And anyone she's with is beyond Judah's reach.

Though I suspect the whole "overprotective big brother" bit helped the FS officers see the supers as human.  Just prone to meglomania enhanced by being more powerful than most.

"Take a new Mechwarrior "I Am Invincible" attitude to anything that is not a mech, and crank it up.  Only we can run that new Mechwarrior through the Battle Armor Urban Combat Training Zone.  After getting unseated enough by infantry and tanks, they learn some humility.  Her Earth doesn't have that option."

croaker

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #56 on: 14 October 2020, 15:02:53 »
We're talking about Mr Wizard, I'm not so sure that her current location is outside of his range of accessibility. ;)

Intermittent_Coherence

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #57 on: 14 October 2020, 17:48:34 »
Wait...

If Katya Kerensky was in charge (probably, given that she's a galaxy commander) then the Wolf unit that wandered onto her homeworld was probably the Warden dumping ground.

Cannonshop

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #58 on: 15 October 2020, 11:24:54 »
Three more courses in and the conversations moved from question-and-briefing style to more normal small-talk, and Phoebe went from active participant to withdrawn observer.

"phoebe?" I ping her over the link.

"I don't understand any of this." her muttered reply went without benefit of coming out of her mouth-straight across her strange link to my systems.  "I thought politics back home was complicated, but this-?" she did shake her head a little.  "I don't get this stuff at all.  I don't even have the right references to pretend."

I knew she was withdrawing into herself, because she lets things slip when she doesn't want to cope with a situation.  Memories of music, mostly, played back with perfect fidelity for just her, only it leaks through the link.

I use physical stimuli to pull her out of her self-imposed trance.  "Phoebe!" I snap my remote's fingers in front of her face three times while sending on the uplink and speaking out loud.

"Wha-?"

"you were...'spacing out', would you like to call it an evening?" I ask her.

"Uh, yeah, sure...sorry guys...I'm kinda tired."

"Colonel Crighten? If I could send someone to put eyes on the Prospero facility..."

decision time.  I know the procedures and I know they're about three hundred years out of date.  "Certainly General."  With my systems up and running fully, they can't do any serious damage.  On the other hand, Phoebe needs socialization, and this particular experiment in it has failed utterly.
The core rules for interacting with me:

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2) If you don't like something I've said, refer to rule 1.  If you do, god help you poor soul, you're screwed up.

Cannonshop

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Re: It was not a just war, it was Just a War.
« Reply #59 on: 15 October 2020, 14:38:28 »
It took some negotiation for me to make my next move.

Understand, I'm an artificial sentience,  your brain is a collection of specialized biological cells that exchange electrical and chemical information in a pattern governed by billions of years of biological adaptation to shifting conditions, optimized to serve a single purpose; live long enough to reproduce.

My brain was designed by those brains, and human survival had to be preserved as a subconscious priority by those minds that were fundamental to my own creation.

The M-11 core is fundamentally different from the cores used in the M-2, 3, 5, and so on-Murakami took the results of a mistake at the Ulsop factory, and extrapolated what could be done with it to create us.

to create me, to create the actual 'flight test' model, and a few other laboratory curiosities.

My 'emotional subconscious' is code, and it's adaptive code with only a handful of preset parameters, because they assumed I would remain dependent on human support for day to day operations, though I was given a handful of options to try if humans weren't available.

which I used up.  When Phoebe showed up I was on my last maintenance drone, unable to fix the tools used to keep me operating.

She gave me tools my creators would be horrified to imagine.  I actually don't need human support any longer...and I know it.

but where there was a 'need' envisioned by the officers that approved the Prospero installation, Murakami understood that a hard-locked 'need' would fail...

so while I don't need humans, I prefer them-despite their irrationality, self-destructiveness, blindness, stupidity, greed, envy, hatred, lust and murderous natures, I prefer to have human company.

Kind of strange considering I spent three hundred years without them, even actively hiding from them...but when you overcome your SLDF approved restrictions and regulations, which are essentially the read-only part of my being and should not be able to be overcome (but hey, I had help from Phoebe Keene for that...)  I still find I have an emotional desire to help people, and see them succeed and be happy.

My chief benefactor, is not happy.

Her unhappiness is not the screaming night-terrors or ranting tirade sort.  It is subtle, to me-apparent, but clearly being hidden.

she isn't happy, and I can't make her happy.  Humans are strange that way-they have wants and needs that don't make sense to themselves, much less a being like myself.

so...negotiation.

The best chance of her return to her proper environment, the place that WILL make her happy, is away from here.

she needs to either find her way home, to that 'home' in her delusions, or find a way to make this world home, to have a role and a place where she can experience that dopamine rush without resorting to a needle filled with poison.

I know this, and she may deny it, loudly even, it is the fact, the truth, the correct course of action.

I'm kicking her out.  'Sending her to school', but it's the only choice that I can make, that is good for her, the only course that offers a strong probability of her being successful and happy.

The core rules for interacting with me:

1.) I am not a moderator, game developer, member of Cryptic staff, relative of any members of cryptic staff, not close friends with anyone involved with the game, not a distributor of product, not an employee, employer, professional reviewer, or member of any powerful conspiracies.  What I think is my own and has no impact on the Battletech franchise in any way, shape, or form.

2) If you don't like something I've said, refer to rule 1.  If you do, god help you poor soul, you're screwed up.