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Author Topic: Who Goes There?  (Read 40284 times)

JA Baker

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Who Goes There?
« Reply #390 on: 15 September 2020, 19:56:43 »
And now, in a change to our scheduled programming...

A Slowboat To Nowhere

Space is big.

No, seriously, it's big. Really, really big. Really too big for most people to truly comprehend. So big, that even with the development of the Kearny-Fuchida Drive, it can take months, if not years, to get from Point A to Point B. Unless you're rich or connected enough to have a Command Circuit set up, and that's kind of cheating.

But, before all that, there were the Slowboat colonies: massive, multi-generation starships built around the largest fusion drives ever created. Some of the most famous examples were New London, Paraiso and Terrelibre, better known as Ross 248. Others were lost, their eventual fate unknown even to this day. They're an interesting anecdote from the early days of the diaspora, something to look back on in wonder and a certain amount of amusement.

But, what if I told you that, if you know the right, you can actually visit an inhabited, functioning Slowboat that's still in flight to this day?

It isn't easy. Even finding someone who's heard of it, let alone will admit they've heard of it, and know its course, actually getting there is easier said than done.

Okay, backstory time.

Few people have ever seen an actual O'Neill Cylinder in person: they are relatively fragile things, reliant on technologies that can only be manufactured at a scant handful of locations, mostly within Sol itself. Unfortunately, most were lost during the Amaris Uprising and the subsequent First and Second Succession Wars... well, it was like taking a sledge hammer to your mother's prized china. But, for all that structural fragility, they can be surprisingly robust systems. Properly managed, they can operate with only the bare minimum of outside assistance.


Callingwood Station started out as a fairly typical Island Three type O'Neill cylinder, originally constructed in orbit of Luna. As with many of the earlier space habits, the plan was to build it closer to the resources of the Luna mines of the Luna colonies, then boost it into its intended orbit with detachable fusion boosters. However, these were the days of the Terran Alliance, and people had started to look to the stars as a possible means of escape. As such they arranged for a number of alterations to be made to the Callingwood, and for additional equipment and supplies to be delivered. Then they arranged for the colony to be made as self sufficient as possible, knowing that it could be centuries before they found a world suitable for settling on. Additional, subtle alterations were made, each one explained away as testing a new system or design that, if successful, be added to later stations.

Then came loading the station, setting up the massive 20km long, 8km diameter rings with everything the colonists might need. Farms were created and stocked, as well as a number of small lakes, connected by a network of canals. How they managed to keep everything in place before the rings started spinning is, well, it's often said that we've lost so much, we don't even have the words to describe it anymore. Last, but by no means least, came the colonists, people dedicated to a journey that they knew might not be completed for generations.

Eventually, the day came, and the colonists strapped themselves in as the oversized boosters fired, freeing the station from Luna orbit. So far, nothing out of the ordinary, until they fell away and were replaced by a second set of boosters, then a third. One all of the boosters had been used up and discarded, a massive solar sail was deployed, while the ion drive originally intended for station-keeping, powered up, slowly building up more and more speed. The other Slowboats, often built into captured asteroids, had massive, purpose built fusion drives that allowed them to accelerate long and hard, reaching a higher fraction of the speed of light. But
Callingwood, with its repurposed design, was reduced to a far more sedate short acceleration and long drift.

Of course, the reaction on Terra and Luna was nothing short of pandemonium, with people struggling to work out just what had happened, even as Collingwood Station, and its quarter of a million inhabitants, disappeared off into the outer system, slowly bringing their habitation rings up to speed and settling in for their new lives. Hurried radio messages from Terra demanded that they stop, to turn around and return to Luna orbit. But that just goes to show that most people don't understand what Newton was saying all those centuries ago.


Callingwood Station was on the move, and the only way stop it, was to hit it with something bigger than itself.

Years passed. Decades. And eventually
, Callingwood Station drifted from memory, even as it drafted out into the interstellar medium, her crew deploying a crude ram scoop to fuel the ion drive. Eventually, it managed to reach 0.1C, a respectable speed for anything man made, and her passengers and crew settled into their new lives. Contact with Terra, always sporadic at best, eventually ceased, and they became truly alone.

But, not everyone forgot about
Callingwood: spacers remember their past, and the legend of the rogue colony became a popular story, their equivalent of Atlantis or El Dorado. Several studies attempted to plot her possible location, but this was made deliberately difficult by the crew of the station periodically firing their RCS thrusters to make seemingly random course adjustments. There was occasional talk of sending out ships to find it, once the KF-drive was developed, especially after other Slowboat ships were found, but with no habitable system within the Callingwoods last known vector, there was no obvious place to start.

Then, around the end of the Third Succession War, someone had a brainwave: what if they weren't headed towards a known, or at least at the time of departure, suspected system? What if they crew of the
Callingwood had simply picked a direction and just went, trusting fate to deliver them from whatever they were looking to escape back on Terra?

With this in mind, a few independent ships agreed to make stops along her last known course, to see if they could pick up any trace of her. It took years of jumping into the interstellar void, but eventually they started to pick up very faint traces of her ion drive, which lit up the electromagnetic spectrum like a flair. Taking readings and triangulating, they gained a rough idea, and eventually a dedicated mission was sent out of Metis to try and determine the fate of
Callingwood Station.

I don't know what they expected to find, but it probably wasn't a functioning city in space, still costing alone, almost nine centuries after launching. Of cause, locating the station was the easy part, but given the speed it was moving at,some 30,000kps, meant that any window of meaningful communication was almost non-existent. But the spacers weren't easily put-off, and started adapting an old DropShip for the task. Stripping out everything that wasn't 100% needed, they replaced everything else with massive fuel tanks and oversized engines. Then they had to find a crew crazy enough to undergo 6g acceleration for an extended period of time, even with the best LosTech drugs that the Belters had access to. But, they eventually had a ship and a crew that could, on paper, reach a speed sufficient to remain within radio range of the
Callingwood for long enough to actually hold a conversation.

They must have been mad to try, but in 3022, the DropShip
Telemachus was released ahead of the Callingwood, and started to burn hard.

I can't even begin to imagine how brutal it must have been, enduring massive, unending acceleration for days at a time, your body pumped full of a cocktail of drugs and artificial hormones intended to keep you alive and functioning under such conditions. In and of itself, it was one for the history books, but as fast as they went, the Callingwood was soon racing up behind.

A full transcript of the conversation between the Telemachus and the Callingwood has never been released, but it has been made clear that the inhabitants of the station are alive, and have managed to maintain a reasonably comfortable standard of living, all things considered. Vast quantities of data were exchanged in highly compressed burst transmissions, as the massive station caught up with and then quickly outpaced the far smaller DropShip. No attempt was made to try and dock: they relative speeds would have made any attempt nothing short of catastrophic for both vessels. Eventually, the Callingwood passed out of range, and the Telemachus began to decelerate ahead of turn around.

Two more missions were flown, before the
Telemachus was declared unsafe and scrapped. Further fly-by's have apparently taken place, but due to the extreme cost, and the stress on both ships and crew, they are extremely rare. Still, if you know the right people, have deep enough pockets and pass the medical, you too can see the last of the Slowboats for yourself.

Personally, I can think of easier and cheaper ways to get a thrill.

-Starling

The End
"That's the thing about invading the Capellan Confederation: half a decade later, you want to invade it again"
-Attributed to First-Prince Hanse Davion, 3030


wolfcannon

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #391 on: 15 September 2020, 20:20:23 »
interesting
Daniels Avenger                Clan Coyote
General Jennifer Daniels    Galaxy Commander Jim Skyes
                                        Omicron Galaxy
Clan Wolf in Exile
328th Assault Cluster(the Lion Hearted)
Star Captain James Sword

nerd

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #392 on: 15 September 2020, 22:06:03 »
Makes you want to get a disarmed Noruff, and affix enough droptanks.
M. T. Thompson
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Member of the AFFS High Command

Cannonshop

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #393 on: 15 September 2020, 23:25:34 »
Callingwood: When you've had enough, and you want OUT!
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PsihoKekec

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #394 on: 16 September 2020, 01:37:56 »
Callingwood: When you've had enough, and you want OUT!

I want out
To live my life alone
I want out
Leave me be
I want out
To do things on my own
I want out
To live my life and to be free

Also nice use of Douglas Adams quote.
Shoot first, laugh later.

Artifex

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #395 on: 16 September 2020, 03:26:32 »
Surely there must've been some cases of claustrophobia and all other issues related to that one in the beginning of Callingwoods life...  8)

JA Baker

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #396 on: 16 September 2020, 05:48:44 »
To ensure randomness, I asked someone to pick a place name completely at random, with no knowledge of how it was going to be used in the story. Callingwood is what they came up with.
"That's the thing about invading the Capellan Confederation: half a decade later, you want to invade it again"
-Attributed to First-Prince Hanse Davion, 3030


DOC_Agren

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #397 on: 16 September 2020, 13:51:53 »
a breakaway colony still on the move   :thumbsup:
"For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed:And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!"

georgiaboy

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #398 on: 16 September 2020, 14:00:15 »
Or think of it as a Run-away car.


"I CAN'T STOP"
"NO BRAKES!"

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JA Baker

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #399 on: 16 September 2020, 19:51:07 »
Or think of it as a Run-away car.


"I CAN'T STOP"
"NO BRAKES!"
Yeah, it would take them another thousand years to slow down, even if they could
"That's the thing about invading the Capellan Confederation: half a decade later, you want to invade it again"
-Attributed to First-Prince Hanse Davion, 3030


JA Baker

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Who Goes There?
« Reply #400 on: 20 September 2020, 17:18:37 »
Okay, let's go off the deep-end and see what happens...

Nuzhat al-mushtāq fi'khtirāq al-āfāq

The Spacers Guild is old. As in, pre-Hegemony old.

It was actually started by the Terran Alliance, before even the Deimos Project got off the ground, as a way of training and certifying crews from all over Terran under one, uniform system. And, somehow, it has managed to survive the Age of War, the Rise and Fall of the Star League and Four Succession Wars. Oh, sure, it's no longer the same single, unified body it once was, but once you get your Guild certification, you can find a job anywhere in explored space. Not all Spaces are Guild members: militaries usually have a bar on our joining, out of fear of where our true loyalties may lay, and anyone with a head for mathematics can learn to plot a jump. We just tend to be better and quicker, making us popular with merchants and independents.

And, like a lot of old and venerable organisations, it has its secrets.

See, the Guild isn't as centralised as it used to be, back in the day: the proverbial wheels coming off of civilisation will do that to any organisation not called ComStar, apparently. So the Guild fractured, but the splinters managed to remain on friendly terms, for the most part, resulting in the Twelve Grand Masters, the heads of the various Houses that make up the Guild. And because I know you're going to ask, they are as follows:

House Voidwalker, House Shadowkeeper, House Blue Star, House Odysseus, House Charlemagne, House Bligh, House Rosewater, House Kangnido, House Heyerdahl, House Joseon, House Starstrider and House Hightower. No, I have no idea where those name came from. I'm not sure anyone does anymore.

How do I know all this? Because I did my apprenticeship under House Heyerdahl, earning my silver sextons at twenty-four, reaching Master Navigator by thirty-seven, which is pretty impressive. That meant that I had to meet my House Master, and I think she took a liking to me: said I reminded her of herself at my age. No, she wasn't grooming me to be her successor or anything, because even back then, it was clear that I didn't have a head for the politics of running a Guild House. But we'd meet up in the backroom of some bar on a recharge station, drink like we didn't want to see tomorrow and play Koi-Koi.

And so came one fateful night, as the old saying goes. It was at that point where late becomes early, and we had several bottles of... something exceptionally strong scattered around the table as she talked me into yet another hand. It was just the two of us, her usual minders having been convinced to wait outside so we could get down to some "girl talk" in private. Truth was, we were both near paralytic, taking turns to trash-talk my, at the time very recently, ex-husband. We'd reached one of the quiet moments, where we didn't have any new insults to throw at him, and this odd expression comes over her.

So she starts to talk, and what she says has me feeing real sober real quick.

She tells me that there are actually thirteen Guild Houses, not twelve, and that the Grand Master of this unknown House is actually the Grand High Master of the entire Guild. They're the one everyone else secretly answers to. Tells me to keep an eye out for ships with green jump-sails, how there was far more to the Diaspora than we're told, how there are other nations, hidden, kept off the maps. Then she looked around, as if she was making sure that we were alone, that no one was watching us, in an otherwise empty room.

"They've been hiding for so long. So, so long. Afraid of us, afraid that we'd remember, that they took to the stars ahead of us. But some of us... some of us remember, we keep the secrets, keep faith in the Old Ways... we remember what happened the last time we met, we remember the wars..."

She didn't exactly say much after that: just mild sobbing between shot-gunning a bottle of something better suited to cleaning DropShip engines, and I soon joined her. She never mentioned it again, and I never let on that she'd said anything out of the ordinary. A Grand Master is privy to all kinds of secrets, some of which they're required to kill to keep from all but their designated successor. And given that I was nowhere near being in the running for that, I kept my head down and played dumb.

Problem is, it's kind of hard to forget something you shouldn't know, because you're constantly reminded of what you're trying to forget. And I certainly couldn't forget the odd combination of fear and sadness that I'd seen in her eyes as she'd rambled on, something odd considering the power she wielded as head of a Guild House. Anything that could frighten her was something I didn't want to face, but at the same time, became obsessed with.

So, how do you go about digging into a secret that's only now by a handful of people in the entire universe? A secret so well guarded that they'll slit your throat without hesitation if they even suspect you know it?

Carefully, obviously. Fortunately, like any society, the Guild has its outsiders and troublemakers, the proverbial Black Sheep in our otherwise happy little family. Not exactly the kind of people I was used to socialising with, but needs must and all, so I set about making some disreputable friends. It wasn't easy, given my by then well known position as the Masters drinking buddy, but I guess some of them liked the idea of corrupting someone so high up. It still wasn't easy, or safe, and more than once I had to use my trusty knife to defend myself. See, sometimes people get expelled from the Guild for breaking the more serious rules, while others carry a grudge because their application was rejected. Either way, there are plenty of arseholes out there willing to spill blood as a way of getting over hurt feelings.

The Guild knows this, and not only makes sure that everyone can defend themselves, but is more than willing to be proactive in dealing with such threats.

Two years into my little sojourn into the dark underbelly of the Guild, and I'd finally gotten a lead on someone who claimed they had some of the answers I was looking for. They told me to visit a certain recharge station, one kept off non-Guild charts, in a system that had been depopulated during the early days of the First Succession War. There are a handful of such places, some better known than others: just because a planet dies doesn't change the location of the star it orbits, and you'd be surprised just how many 'dead' systems are still on the trade routs. This particular recharge station had been abandoned, only to be reactivated and repaired, at great expense, by the Guild to serve as a safe harbour in an age when JumpShips would considered little more than target practice by the Successor States. Times may have changed, but we still maintain a number of such anchorages, just in case.

And, as it's off the grid, Guild law applies.

We arrived to find three other ships already in position, one taking a charge from the station. The other two had deployed their jump-sails. Green jump-sails. I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand-up when I remembered my mentors cryptic words: green sails meant that they belonged to the mysterious Thirteenth House. As such it was with some trepidation that I took a shuttle over to the station, still not exactly sure who or what I was looking for. The station is big, and not exactly standard design, an indication of just how old it is, as it evidently predates the ubiquitous Olympus class. It had two massive counter-rotating gravity decks, one for command and crew habitation, the other...

Okay, so we've all spent time in and around spaceport, despite how much some of us might hate going dirt-side, so we've also seen the more interesting backstreets you tend to find around them. The kind of places that are narrow, with big neon signs advertising everything from "authentic" Canopian food, to brothels and other, equally unsavoury destructions designed to separate a spacer from their accumulated back-pay. Well, that's what the second grav-deck looked like: if it wasn't for the curvature of the floor, I would have sworn I was planetside. Fortunately, being a Guild station, I didn't have to worry about having my pocket picked or getting shived in the back should I decide to indulge my more carnal desires. Eventually, I found the bar I was looking for, the Four Leaf Clover, thanks to the massive glowing shamrock outside. Getting myself a glass of something claiming to be whisky, I started to take in the room.

Didn't take me long to spot them: the bar was small and packed, but everyone seemed to be giving them as wide a berth as possible.

There were five of them, clustered around a table in the back. Two were big, and I do mean big; big enough to give even one of those Elementals pause for thought. One had an exceptionally crude looking sword, which looked more like an oversized meat cleaver, strapped to their side, while the other was holding a long metal staff that looked fit to serve as the replacement leg on a BattleMech. They were stood behind a woman who looked unnaturally tall and thin, what exposed skin she had on display so pale it looked almost translucent. While her two companions, very obviously bodyguards, were dressed head to toe in black, complete with helmets with wraparound visors, she wore a long, flowing green and amber dress, with a matching headdress that left only her eyes exposed. If it wasn't for the plunging neckline of the dress, and the slit that exposed an almost painfully slender looking leg, it would have been easy to mistake her for a man.

The two across the table from here were short, even in comparison to someone like me, but stocky, obviously well muscled. They were dressed in cut-down coveralls, with big leather tool-belts around their waists and welding goggles on their heads. Both had scraggy, unkempt beards that looked like they'd been burnt around the edges more than once.

Even from a distance, it was obvious that some kind of negotiation was taking place, and I found a seat where I could observe them without being too obvious.

In my defence, I'm a navigator, not some private detective or secret agent. I know nothing about how to watch someone without looking like you're watching them, or how to keep an eye out for someone watching you in return. As such, I completely failed to notice the man who'd gotten right behind me until I felt the muzzle of what felt like an AC/20 pressed into my ribs, just as the negotiations seemed to end, and the two short-stacks left.

I was "invited" to join the mysterious woman at the table, and felt it was best not to turn down the other. After all, every second they're not actually killing you is another second you've got to convince them why you should be allowed to keep breathing.

"So, you're the trouble maker Alana has told me so much about." the woman's voice was like honey being dripped into my ears, "I was staring to wonder if she'd been too cryptic."

"It...it was a set-up?" I asked, my throat dry despite all the whisky I'd been drinking.

"More of a test." the woman clocked her head to one side, and I get the distinct impression that she was smiling behind her mask, "We needed to see if you had it in you to find out the truth for yourself, no matter how far down the rabbit hole it took you."

"And what truth is that?"

"That the universe is far more mysterious and full of wonders than you've ever dreamed."

With that, she pulled at the fabric sounding her head, and it quickly and silently slid down onto the table.

First to be exposed was her narrow, angular nose, followed by a mouth filled with perfect, almost painfully white teeth, and a sharp, pointed jaw. But that was nothing in comparison to what followed, as the scarf continued to unravel, allowing hair the colour of spun gold to fall across her shoulders down down her back. A simply shake of her head, and her long, delicate, and above all, pointed ears, came into view.

"Now then, young-one," she looked at me with eyes like frosted glass, "let us discuss the future."

So yeah, that's how I became a member of House Evergreen. And now, my young apprentice, let me give you some advice: do not meddle in the affairs of Elves, for they are patient and meticulous in their plotting.

The End
"That's the thing about invading the Capellan Confederation: half a decade later, you want to invade it again"
-Attributed to First-Prince Hanse Davion, 3030


DOC_Agren

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #401 on: 20 September 2020, 23:20:15 »
Space Elves?
Bodyguards Orks???

"For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed:And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!"

Cannonshop

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #402 on: 20 September 2020, 23:31:46 »
Evergreen...so... Winter Court?
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.

Ajax_Wolf

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #403 on: 21 September 2020, 00:48:03 »
Space Elves?
Bodyguards Orks???
And Dwarves, oh my.
Why does everyone "Fire at Will"? Is he really that bad of a person? And what did he do to make everyone want to shoot him?

If a group of necrophiliacs met a group of zombies, who would do the chasing?

Bacon is Life! Even vegaterians eat bacon.

JA Baker

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #404 on: 21 September 2020, 11:08:32 »
Evergreen...so... Winter Court?
Or just a random word I picked that apparently means something to people who've read more than... okay, Discworld aside, I've read like... two "fantasy" novels? Something like that?

Things like this are why people keep accusing me of being a better writer than I actually am.
"That's the thing about invading the Capellan Confederation: half a decade later, you want to invade it again"
-Attributed to First-Prince Hanse Davion, 3030


georgiaboy

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #405 on: 21 September 2020, 12:29:02 »
"Evergreen"


The color of their sails.


Probably the color of their water borne ship sails, and the color of the light sails of their solar sail boats.
"Constructive critism is never a bad comment"
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- Socrates

Sir Chaos

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #406 on: 21 September 2020, 12:55:50 »
What does the title of the story mean? It´s Arabic, isn´t it?
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JA Baker

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #407 on: 21 September 2020, 12:57:49 »
"Evergreen"


The color of their sails.


Probably the color of their water borne ship sails, and the color of the light sails of their solar sail boats.
Elves = trees =????

What does the title of the story mean? It´s Arabic, isn´t it?
Yes: the book of pleasant journeys into faraway lands

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabula_Rogeriana
"That's the thing about invading the Capellan Confederation: half a decade later, you want to invade it again"
-Attributed to First-Prince Hanse Davion, 3030


JA Baker

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Who Goes There?
« Reply #408 on: 21 September 2020, 18:48:36 »
Let's get Meta...and very, very dark.
Also, sorry if certain people find any of this personally insulting: it's certainly not intended as such.


The Truth

Oh, and why did they send you to see me?

Cocky? What exactly does a psychologist have to do to be considered "cocky"?

Really? Well, yeah, that'll do it. So, the Head Head-Shrinker sent you all the way down here, to where they keep those of us deemed too crazy for prison, and too dangerous for a normal mad-house. Well, it's nice to see a new face, at least. I don't know if you noticed, but the guards and orderlies are all a bit... checked out?

Yes, it's painfully obvious, and makes them horrible conversationalists. Sometimes, I wonder if I talk to myself so much just to have an intelligent conversation.

Sorry: the meds they have me on really do a number on the old sense of humour. I'm not quite the sparkling whit I once was. Medical chart is right there if you want to... Why yes, it is a rather large dosage. Makes you wonder what I'd be like without it?

Oh, they showed you the photos? Even the one with the nuns? Yes, not exactly my best work, but I was working against the clock at the time. The Coalition was closing in on Terra, and the Word was still convinced I was working for them, when I was actually using them.

So, here I am, locked away in a place that doesn't officially exist, which is the perfect place for someone they claim they executed for, well, I did kill an awful lot of people, didn't I?

And they've sent you down here to ask why? Why did I kill so many people that I was deemed a one-man war-crime, a plague upon humanity, the Butcher of New Bealton? And yes, I was the one who released that wonderfully effective little bio-weapon on Odessa III. I don't know exactly where they dug that little relic up from: it was something particularly nasty from the Age of War, and a true work of art.

I just wish it hadn't presented so quickly: it really could have done some real damage if it had had the opportunity to spread.

No, no I don't feel any remorse for what I've done. I'm sure you know that I was declared utterly and irrevocable insane at my trial? Even the prosecution couldn't say how many people I've killed, but when you take Odessa into consideration, it has to be in the billions, doesn't it. So yes, I am officially the single most prolific mass murder in all of human history.

Hitler? Stalin? Amaris? Bush league in comparison. And it wasn't like they actually killed all that many people directly. No, when the history books write about me, if they haven't already, I'm sure they'll try and explain away what I did. Try and find some explanation they think they can understand. But you... you've been sent down here to learn the truth.

Are you sure? Last person I told, well, she's in one of the rooms upstairs, drooling into her straight-jacket. People don't like hearing the truth, no matter what they say or think of my own mental state. Because, truth is, I may be the only truly sane person in the entire universe.

Oh I know every crazy person thinks that! I have doctorates in history and psychology, thank you very much. I know that, on paper and out of context, my actions must seem, well, evil is the most common term batted around. Certainly was at my quote—unquote trial. Yes, the hand gestures are important and necessary. But, that's what your here for, isn't it?

Context always has been, and always will be, king, after all.

So, the Truth? The reason why I went from mild mannered academic to the most hated man since Stefan Amaris, with the blood of an entire world on my hands?

Reality. Is. Fiction.

Okay, roll your eyes and write me off as just another kook if you want. You know where the door is: don't let it hit you in the arse on the way out. Go tell your boss that I'm just another "life is but a dream" madman and see how far that gets you. No, you were sent down here to get a look under the hood at how my mind actually works, probably to see if you had the mental fortitude to survive.

Still here? Okay then, let us begin, as is tradition, at the beginning.

As I said, I am a student of both history and psychology, meaning that I look at the thought processes behind the actions of historical figures. I try to get inside their heads, just as you are trying to get inside mine, and try and see history through their eyes. Only problem is, it just doesn't work, not after a certain point around the late 20th century. People suddenly stop thinking and acting like people, and start acting like characters in a book. Their motivations, their drives, stop making sense, unless you presume that some random and inexplicable plague gave the entire human race a permanent case of the Stupids. Leaders, generals, entire nations, start making decisions that just do not make sense.

And it's not just people: the numbers stop making sense.

Take a world. Any random world in the Inner Sphere. Let's say it's got a population of a billion. Nice, round number. How big a military should that would be able to support? A couple of militia Regiment? Maybe a line unit? What if I told you that there were nation states on pre-Diaspora Terra that fielded armies that would put some Successor States to shame? Okay, maybe only the old St Ives Compact or Rasalhague, but my point still stands. By economy of scale, somewhere like the Federated Sun's or Lyran Commonwealth should have militaries several orders of magnitude larger than they've ever had. Some goes for the economy: even underdeveloped world's should be a net boon to their nations GDP, not a drain upon it.

It's almost like our entire economy was created by someone who only had a layman's understanding of how such things really work, and plucked numbers out of the air.

So, we have people acting like characters in a cheap paperback, an economy and military that makes no sense when you actually take a step back and look at the damn numbers, and a series of events that seem almost perfectly geared towards ensuring a near constant state of war throughout the last thousand years. That's not something that happens naturally. Nations don't just wake up one day and collectively decide to go to war on their neighbours.

Real people don't act like that.

But I guess that's the problem: we're not real people. We're figments of someone's imagination. Someone who, for whatever reason, wanted to establish a very specific set of circumstances leading up to where we are now. That's the realisation I came to in a moment of perfect clarity. I saw all the lies and deception and contrivances just fall away, leaving only the truth, in all its horrible glory.

And what else is a man to do, when he discovers that, not only is he not the master of his own destiny, but little more than a nameless, faceless background character in someone else's story? A number on a spreadsheet, doomed to be nothing more than a statistic in some epic story?

When you can't beat or change the system, the only options are to surrender, or fight back. To break the system, to refuse to follow the script set before you by some unseen, unknowable author. To deny the part they created for you. But, how best to do this?

The answer is simple: there can be no play if you kill the cast!

Yes. Yes, I can see you starting to understand now. Understand why I decided to bring about the extinction of the human race. How better to upset the story than to end it! After all, we're all just figments of their imagination, so is it really murder, any more than pressing the delete key is? If nothing is real and our actions have no consequences, then one must ensure that their actions have consequences! Refuse to read you lines and play your part. Refuse to be what they intended you to be. It's only when we break free of the life set before us that we are truly alive!

So, there you have it: the truth behind my actions my actions.

And now I'll give you another Truth: you weren't sent down here because you were "cocky", but because the director of this fine institution saw that you, like he, was ready to accept the Truth, ready to see behind the curtain. That other young lady, the one I told you about? She wasn't ready to accept what I told her, and that's why the director declared her insane and had her committed. And, well, claiming that a man the entire Inner Sphere saw die is not only alive and well, but taking over an asylum from the inside certainly sounds crazy, doesn't it?

Huh, yes, I think you're do nicely, my dear. Now, take a seat while I explain how we're going to move forward.

Tell me, what do you know about the HPG network?

The End
« Last Edit: 21 September 2020, 19:41:45 by JA Baker »
"That's the thing about invading the Capellan Confederation: half a decade later, you want to invade it again"
-Attributed to First-Prince Hanse Davion, 3030


Cannonshop

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #409 on: 21 September 2020, 23:21:48 »
LOL, nice take on The Joker.
The core rules for interacting with me:

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PsihoKekec

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #410 on: 22 September 2020, 13:19:09 »
So Blackout was actually the in-universe characters rebelling against the plot?
Shoot first, laugh later.

JA Baker

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #411 on: 22 September 2020, 13:37:13 »
So Blackout was actually the in-universe characters rebelling against the plot?
You may very well think that

 I couldn't possibly comment.
"That's the thing about invading the Capellan Confederation: half a decade later, you want to invade it again"
-Attributed to First-Prince Hanse Davion, 3030


SulliMike23

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #412 on: 24 September 2020, 21:51:30 »
Sounds like the Joker meets Rau Le Creuset.

JA Baker

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #413 on: 25 September 2020, 12:39:16 »
Sounds like the Joker meets Rau Le Creuset.
LOL, nice take on The Joker.
Funny thing is, I despise the modern take on the Joker. Feels too much like each successive writer is trying to out-Edge the last, extra Edge, hold the Edge with Edge on the side. The average comic with him in has more Edge than the complete U2 back-catalogue.

Maybe it's just the fact that I grew up on reruns of the Adam West Batman series, the Tim Burton movies and the Batman animated series of the 90's, but I've always felt like he needed a theme beyond "he kills everyone". Because, IMHO, that's not only lazy, but also boring. So I set out to try and make a character who's at least understandable, even if he is so crazy that he hardly qualifies as human anymore.
"That's the thing about invading the Capellan Confederation: half a decade later, you want to invade it again"
-Attributed to First-Prince Hanse Davion, 3030


JA Baker

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Who Goes There?
« Reply #414 on: 25 September 2020, 16:59:26 »
Time to take a great big sledge-hammer to canon...

The Improbable Life, And Possible Death, Of Alexandra Stephanie Hayes

Every family has its Black Sheep: the oddballs, the outsiders, the ones you don't talk about at family reunions. In the case of Alexandra 'Alex' Hayes, this is because she was, to be perfectly blunt, a bastard.

Born on Barstow in 3014, for most of her life, Alex Hayes thought that she was simply the daughter of Cathy Hayes and an unnamed MechWarrior who her mother had had a brief but passionate affair with during the Third Succession War, where she had served as a cargo master on a AFFS DropShip. All Cathy would ever say on the matter was that her lover had "died doing his duty", and that there was no need to saddle her daughter with stories of a man she would never meet. Cathy had had no reason to even suspect she was pregnant at the time of the man's death, but put in for a leave of absence as soon as she realised the truth, and dedicated herself to raising her daughter alone.

It would not be until 3034, when a then 19 year old Alex applied for a military scholarship, that the truth would come out.

During her routine physical, a blood sample was taken for cross-matching and screening for certain genetic conditions. It was also run against a database of known samples, often individuals who were wanted by the state. Alex's sample fund a match, and the young woman and her mother soon found themselves being taken into MIIO custody, where a number of very pertinent questions were asked. Cathy refused to talk, and Alex genuinely had no idea what they were talking about, so the pair soon found themselves on a DropShip, headed for New Avalon.

There, they found themselves in front of Hanse Davion.

Confronted by the First Prince, Cathy had no option but to break her silence and admitted that her deceased lover had been none other than Ian Davion, Hanse's older brother and, at the time of his death, First Prince of the Federated Sun's. She admitted that she had been serving on the DropShip that had carried the command elements of the Fourth Davion Guards to Mallory's World in 3013. She had been personally responsible for the First Princes
Atlas, and the two had quickly bonded, soon engaging in a passionate affair that both knew would never last. They had, in her own words, been two soldiers looking for some comfort in the war, and had found it in each others arms. Alex had been an unintentional, but not wholly unwelcome, result of their brief relationship.

More DNA tests and an examination of Cathy's military records, as well as debriefings of her former crew mates cooperated much of her story, but Hanse Davion had said he'd never doubted the truth: he'd seen his brother in Alex's face the moment he first laid eyes upon her.

This, however, would cause a potential problem: as Ian's daughter, illegitimate or otherwise, under the Laws of Succession for the Federated Sun's, an argument could be made that Alex had a legitimate claim to the First Princes throne, ahead of her uncle. Even though Alex had no interest in pursuing any claims based upon her newly discovered lineage, there were those within the Federated Suns, and beyond, who would try and use her as a figurehead to further their own agendas. There were those within MIIO who recommended killing Alex to protect the First Prince and his, at the time, two children, his wife, Melissa, pregnant with their third at the time. Hanse had quickly and sternly dismissed such suggestions, stating that he would no kill his niece, no matter what happened. She was, in his mind, a link to the brother he had lost, a member of his family, and an innocent.

But this led to the question of what to do with Alex?

As First Prince, Hanse had the authority to legitimise her as a member of House Davion, to grant her her father's name and a place in the nobility. Alex turned this offer down: she had lived her entire life as Alexander Hayes, and she saw no need to change that now simply because her father, a man she had never met and had never even suspected her existence, had been any more than another solider who had died in the war against the Combine. Impressed by her character, Hanse had agreed to her request, but insisted on granting her a full scholarship at the New Avalon Academy of Law, along with a comfortable but not inconspicuous apartment near the campus and a stipend to cover incidental expenses.

It went without say that she also received a hand-picked, and highly discreet, MIIO security detail.

It was while attending NAAL that Alex met Jian Novikov, a fellow student from the world of Brighton in the St Ives Compact, the somewhat shy and retiring Jian soon became friends with Alex, triggering an investigation into him by MIIO. While they found nothing about Jian himself to be concerned about, they did uncover that, like many people within the Compact, he had family still living in the Capellan Confederation. Digging deeper, they found that he had a second cousin serving in Warrior House Hiritsu, a revelation that had alarm bells ringing all across New Avalon: were the Maskirovka to learn the truth of Alex's parentage, they might attempt to use her in a renewed attempt to subvert Hanse's rule of the Federated Suns.

The convention between the First Prince and his niece was held behind closed doors, and no record is known to exist of exactly what was said, but those who knew him best are on record as having said that the only time they'd seen him look so humbled was when Melissa got worked up over something. All that is known is, despite the best efforts of the First Prince and MIIO, Alex and Jian remained friends. Someone suggested arranging to have the Academy expell Jian on some pretext, but Hanse rejected the idea, stating that it would only enrage Alex further then he already had.

It seems that, for all his prowess as a general and a statesman, the Fox had been cowered by a young woman barely old enough to drink.

Time passed, Alex and Jian growing closer until it was clear that their relationship was becoming romantic, despite the best clandestine efforts of MIIO to break the two up. This led to a number of rather uncomfortable debriefings for her security detail, especially when the relationship became fact rather than speculation. Unfortunately, the desire to keep Alex's existence secret, to allow her to live as close to a normal life as possible, meant that there were only so many people they could bring in. This meant that many of the decisions had to be made by the First Prince himself, who apparently found it more than a little uncomfortable to be presented with detailed reports of his nieces love life.

Things came to a head in 3038, when an agent tasked with following Jian witnessed him buying an engagement ring.

Suddenly, all hopes that the relationship was nothing more than a youthful indiscretion were dashed, and MIIO had to face the real possibility of a member of the ruling dynasty marrying someone with family connections to the Capellan Confederation. Memories of the Second Hidden War in mind, it was decided that, personal consequences be damned, the First Prince would have to act.

What followed was something that in his personal diary, Hanse Davion would call one of the great failings of his life.

Alex and Jian were collected off the street and driven to a MIIO safe house outside Avalon City. There they were met by Justin Allard, who, acting as both an AFFS officer and Duke of St Ives, questioned the two about their feelings for each other for over an hour. Jian was understandably surprised to discover that his fiance was a member of the the Davion family, all be it illegitimate, but maintained his position that he loved her and wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. Alex was somewhat more volatile in her reaction to what she saw as a gross invasion of her privacy by her uncles underlings. The conversation soon became an argument, with Alex storming out of the room.

Jian followed as Alex made her way through the house, Justin trying to calm her down while ordering the MIIO agents to stand down. Seeing a set of car keys, Alex grabbed them and made her way out into the stormy night. Finding the car the keys were for, she told Jian to get in, before driving off at high speed. Justin followed in a second car, ordering the MIIO agents to alert the local police. The safe house had been located at the top of a steep hill, the road leading back to the capital steep and winding, difficult at the best of times, and downright treacherous in the rain. An ACPD helicopter located the two cars as they raced down the hill, far faster than was safe. Eventually, the lead car lost control: hydroplaning, it skidded wildly before crashing through a low barrier and over a cliff-face. The drop was almost a hundred metres, into a fast flowing river, which had been turned into a raging torrent by the storm.

The wreck of the car was recovered by military divers the next day, several kilometres down stream. The force of the impact with the water, and the numerous underwater obstacles it had impacted against, had turned it into a twisted mess that could only be positively identified as the car Alex and Jian had been driving by checking the chassis number against MIIO inventory records. Of the two young occupants, there was no trace. A press release was put out, announcing the tragic deaths of two NAAL students in a car crash. The official coroner's report listed the cause of death as probably drowning, stating that the two had probably been rendered unconscious by the inertial impact, then drowned as the car sank, their bodies being shaken clear of the wreck by the force of the water.

Funeral were held on Brighton and Barstow, with empty coffins laid to rest by grief-stricken families. Despite everything that had happened, Cathy Hayes never went public with true story, but instead chose to retire, spending the rest of her days helping disadvantaged children on her homeworld. Jian was survived by two older sisters, the youngest of whom would go on to name her own son Jian in his memory.

And there the official story ends...

But, as with all good stories, it may not be the whole truth.

First, while he was working for MIIO at the time, and indeed being groomed to take over as Intelligence Secretary of the Federated Commonwealth, Justin Allard had never officially been a part of Alex's protection detail. Instead, he had been personally asked to intervene in the matter by the First Prince. Secondly, having a set of car keys left out in the open, even in a secure safe house, was a massive breach of basic MIIO protocol, completely inexcusable for the agents assigned to watch Alex. Third, neither Alex nor Jian were considered to be experienced drivers, and it is highly unlikely that they would have made it as far as they did before crashing.

So, what does this tell us?

Well, nothing. Everything I have told you is purely conjecture and hearsay, as no official records concerning the supposed connection between Ian Davion and Cathy Hayes are known to exist. Nor is there any solid evidence indicating that Ian was Alex's father, or that she ever met Hanse Davion. There are perfectly logical and reasonable explanations for everything, with even the brief extracts from the First Princes diary too cryptic to be easily understood. What we are left with are stories, rumours and conspiracy theories.

But, I can tell you this: records show that two NAAL graduates, Stephanie Harding and Julian Rubinstein, left New Avalon the day after the crash, on a ship bound for the world of Killarny. While this may seem purely coincidentally, it is interesting to note that the photos attached to their records have more than a passing resemblance to Alex Hayes and Jian Novikov, and that nobody in their year has any clear memories of the two
.
-Starling

The End
"That's the thing about invading the Capellan Confederation: half a decade later, you want to invade it again"
-Attributed to First-Prince Hanse Davion, 3030


SulliMike23

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #415 on: 25 September 2020, 18:48:26 »
Sounds like Hanse or Alex planned to fake her death so that the MIIO would get off her case and she could live her life without them constantly watching her.

nerd

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #416 on: 25 September 2020, 20:57:42 »
Or else, they were asked to 'disappear', to protect themselves and others.

It's almost merciful, compared to what happened to many pretenders.
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Sir Chaos

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #417 on: 26 September 2020, 03:47:18 »
I am reminded of that scene in "Eraser" where Arnie´s character barges into the witness´ home, guns blazing, then tell the witness and his girlfriend "Relax - you´re dead!".
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Cannonshop

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #418 on: 26 September 2020, 05:30:02 »
It seems to me to be a great way to assure the young couple's privacy and stymie those scavenger-parasites in the press.
The core rules for interacting with me:

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Artifex

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #419 on: 29 September 2020, 05:42:23 »
Hear, hear.

The hounds of the press are always overreaching.

 

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