Beyond 'X' (Book I) completed Story in 9 shortish Chapters 16Feb09

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Paranoid66
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Beyond 'X' (Book I) completed Story in 9 shortish Chapters 16Feb09

Post by Paranoid66 » Fri, 13. Feb 09, 14:01

Beyond ‘X’ - Journeys within the Emissary’s Sphere (the ‘ES’).
Far Future Fiction extrapolated from an X3 foundation.

By Paranoid66.



[[A note on the stories format: Book I arrives in Nine Chapters I admit somewhat arbitrarily because that was how I happened to originally - impatiently - write and post it after I had the initial - strange - idea of leaping to a new Universe and so on.]]

[[It very much sets the scene of the greater Beyond ‘X’ story. I increasingly see ‘BX1’ as a single comparatively - painlessly short - introduction to the other longer stories of the later ongoing series. Since the Nine Chapters make up one story it gained the overly grandiose title (despite its limited length) of a book - well I needed to call it something and it has a beginning, middle and hastening end.]]

[[I hope you enjoy my imperfect efforts. The odd formatting, as in the usage of square brackets and all that, is deliberate craziness. Sorry if this oddity offends strict grammar buffs, as it is just a bit of fun supposedly emulating the futuristic input style of the fictional author ‘MT’. It amuses me as a small English textual heresy. To ‘Hell’s Maw’ with total conformity, this is an attempt at - imaginative - fiction set in another Universe altogether. Ultimately, those brackets seemed a good idea at the time to science fiction it up a bit, then whether they truly are a good idea or not I stubbornly elected to stick with it. I can be like that on occasion.]]

[[Please note, any comments about any aspect of Beyond ‘X’ are more than welcome - yes, I am talking to you if you are reading this - I even invite criticism.]]



Brief Synopses
Beyond ‘X’ space in another time another Sphere (Universe): the self-altered descendents of the furthest travellers of the ‘Five ‘X’ Races’ explore a completely new reality within the wider Grand Creation of Paradox myth. This story follows just two: Harbinger a Paradox Priest and his potent ‘Living Hull’ ship the ‘Many Truths’ on a few adventures.]

[Last revision of this chapter 18/11/2011.]



Book I - Seeking ‘Continuity of Introspection’

[[ONE]]

[Location: The Many Truths, Pilgrim’s Haven, Paradox Domain, Emissary Sphere]

[A familiar icon blinks upon an inner mental screen. To our minds - a visual hail - its origin an incoming warp satellite link. Reluctantly, Harbinger opens a person-to-person communication’s channel. I know this conversation shall be a little awkward!]

“Greetings wise Elder ‘Composure’.” [Via his sending my Captain, strains to hide his inner discomfort from this now categorised ‘Outsider’ to his family, old genetics not withstanding.]

“Young Paradox Priest Harbinger, it gladdens my hearts to see you.” [‘Composure’ sends.]

[In fact, ‘Composure’ is looking not at reality but the sending’s digital virtual Avatar. It is necessary to retain the proper level of ‘Body Shrouding’ especially within the species. Even my Captain Harbinger, has genetically altered from the form of his typically unique if ironically cloned beginning although in his case due to the complexity of his original genetic makeup it might be argued only superficially.]

[Somewhat bizarrely, Paradox Priests, each born of a great heresy from a distant faith in both space and time, embrace genetic diversity whilst maintaining an outward shrouded conformity. The Priests outward image of equality arguably forever at war with their own chosen - modern - altered nature, they are diversely true pilgrims of the radical disaffected who followed the ‘Emissary’ to this new Universe. However, I have known Harbinger to argue that in differing they are also the same something that is very paradoxical as in very Paradox Priest.]

[‘Body Shrouding’ to the outsider is one of the most obvious contradictions of the Priesthood but there are a great many more seeming hypocrisies. As a species, they embrace a philosophy of many complex sometimes seemingly contradictory truths rather than one simple restrictive faith - thus the genesis of my name of which I am inordinately proud.]

“I am equally delighted to - see - you revered Elder.” [Enthusiastically deceives Harbinger via the sending.]

[The Paradox talk much about sight they are obsessed with vision, actually Harbinger also perceives a projected digital Avatar: a broadcasted constructed inner image that seems too spry and sleek to properly represent the aged Paradox he is addressing, unless it is a hint that the Elder has finally relented to the necessity of sloughing off his tired old skin.]

“So when will you be jumping in?” [The Paradox named ‘Composure’ sends.]

“Right on schedule.” [Harbinger replied.] “You have the coordinate I trust?”

“Indeed, though I may be a little late. As you can appreciate my mobile ‘Monastery Habitat’ home is no swift battleship.” [The Elder sends.]

[His Avatar looks around the ‘Hall of Study’ also a Virtual Sending not a true window into the real one there are subtle differences. Not everyone uses such pretences - it is no longer fashionable in fact, even traditional digital virtual avatars are on the way out many now just banally show an outer image of their body encasing ‘Shroud Suit’ emphasising when necessary their ‘Kanji’ for identification purposes.]

“When the methodology employed was slow I believe the ‘Emissary’s’ advice to the ‘Pilgrim’ traveller was, ‘depart early for the rendezvous’.” [Harbinger replied risking some religious humour about the ‘Hallowed New Beginning’ that started it all.]

“Well these days I prefer to arrive a little late - to any outward gathering - it is safer that way, as I stated my ‘Monastery Habitat’ is no battleship.” [‘Composure’ insisted.]

“Still Elder with a little patience: you can have all the mobility and firepower any - body - might desire in this age.” [Harbinger sends.]

“Young Priest, you would be wise to remember that there is always somebody more powerful than you out there. In addition, I have to worry about my rivals I have not secured the unborn child of your ‘Many Truths’ yet. Tell me about my competition?” [The aging Paradox sends his Avatar leaning forward towards Harbinger almost as if seeking to share the whispers of a conspiracy - most inappropriate.]

“Ah ‘Composure’ - really - you will ruin my reputation if I answer that in any detail.” [Harbinger replied.]

“My apologies for any misinterpretation, I am but curious, I am not digging for an unfair advantage.” [‘Composure’ sends I am sure lying. His Avatar shifting back looks ruffled, (I find it too easy to read this particular Paradox today).] “I just wanted to know if we bidders will be a traditional three.” [He added.]

“Of course, I have no desire to flout tradition in such an important matter some rituals are worthy of observance.” [Harbinger sends. His digital Avatar looks shocked all three eyes wide.] “I am young now ‘Composure’ only by comparison to your - marvellous - longevity of experience. I am not some - unmindful - ‘Splitter Priest’ eager to flout every custom out of pique - in fact - I never felt quite that way, at least not to my recollection. As to my mature ‘Vision’ it favours only respect for such harmless conventions as the proper triangulation of good fortune.”

“Glad to hear it.” [The old Paradox sends in a rumble.] “It is good to know you did not disavow everything I taught you. Lately it seems that - all is change - even among once worthy Priests. I fear empty desires are consuming the hearts of both the pious and the scholarly and not just the greed for worthless trinkets either but also for specific trophies and accolades. There is too much questing after unwarranted fame, the thrill of an easy and unearned renown among equals.” [His three digital virtual eyes come together in a challenging predatory stare that seem to accuse Harbinger of past or maybe even future malpractice in this regard.]

“I have to agree to disagree fame or infamy are natural rewards of action never in my experience are they entirely unwarranted.” [The younger Paradox Priest replied.] “I imagine you may feel differently when you slough off that weary old hide to secure a new dynamism. Why else are you bidding for my ship’s child if not to enable you to experience bolder, more active and - wider - perspectives? We grow or we lose our way! Change is natural even the ‘Emissary’ changed during her mission among the ‘Five Species’ (being to each branch of the ‘Pilgrims’ one of their own). I still believe change is not just an option but a central tenant of almost every non degenerate Paradox Priest’s ‘Vision’ we adapt and change or we fade away unable to compete.”

“I see you have grown a mature Priests sharp tongue and lecturing ways.” [‘Composure’ sends. His digital Avatar gracing the younger Priest with an enigmatic old style (open mouthed) smile.]

[All the Paradox Priests that still use digital virtual reality Avatars among themselves use traditional ancient body forms for these constructs. Body shapes long lost to this ever more fractured species in antiquity. Only ‘Tri Ocular’ vision systems remain sacrosanct from wide genetic alteration little else about the original body form held sacred.]

“Was there anything else?” [Harbinger asked.]

“No I just wished to confirm you would arrive on schedule - to secure - the site.” [‘Composure’ sends.]

“That was what I promised - you will have no need to fear the grim ravages of ‘Splinter Raiders’ even if these days their ‘Wormhole Harbours’ do appear to be ranging ever further from their dangerous home space. It is almost as if something has recently riled them into more punitive forays.” [Harbinger sends musing over the increase in reported sightings and other incidents that just involved mysterious ship losses with no confirmed cause.]

[His digital Avatar’s stance now radiates mild annoyance at ‘Composure’s’ unsettling interruption. I sense via our ‘Companion-ship Link’ that he perceives ‘Composure’s’ call as an unnecessary informal prelude to their formal business.]

“In relation to security saying is not doing. You young ones make too many promises and keep too few old faiths.” [‘Composure’ sends in a rumble.] “I pray the three blessings of the ‘Emissary’ protect your journey.”

“Equal blessings visit upon you.” [Harbinger sends. He hastily closes the channel.] “Despite the fact that clearly you remain a half senile old ingrate, one hardly deserving the excessive exuberance of luxury that you already greedily hoard!” [He added off communications.]

“That old rascal is too much. I am doing him a massive favour many refuse all dealings with the genetic ‘House’ from which they sundered. That I am, according to him, four centuries younger - is no excuse either - that Paradox is clinging to the past. I am no more a directionless Acolyte today than he is now a Great Visionary by simply gathering up and saving a record of our history for posterity. The way he goes on you would think our civilisation were under a constant and imminent threat of collapse.” [Harbinger complained to me.]

[Due to our ‘Companion-ship Link’, I am able to send feelings of sympathy without any need of words. I do so. It is never easy for a Paradox Priest to deal with the heart of his cloned beginnings.]

“My truth is just as valid as his - maybe in this age - far more so. I would say his desire for your child is proof of that. My ‘Vision’ looks outward with hope towards the future. ‘Composure’s’ up until now only ever looked back that was what drove me out in the first place. His inactive ideology frustrated me. Despite all the wondrous lore that he gathered - what did he ever do with it? Nothing, he just hoarded the data away keeping it supposedly safe as if his was the only archive in existence. What however is the purpose of that? I wanted - to do things - to go out and find - then utilise - real answers to combat this Universes many serious social and economic problems not just record or preserve. That was hardly a crime was it. Why did he make me with all these urges then chain me down?” [Harbinger sends.]

“Be at peace.” [I send with love (I being the ‘Many Truths’ Harbinger’s ‘Living Hull’ ship).]

[Once again, Harbinger internally checks the time.]

“Now - if I am late - it will be ‘Composure’s’ doing not mine.” [Harbinger sends.]

[He initiates his rather archaic looking ‘Virtual Bridge Interface’ to my amusement. Wherever Harbinger is within me physically - as my Priest Captain - is the bridge. He claims executive control not in a cruel or demanding - masterful way - but as a trusted and beloved leader who seeks to guide a charge by example. I know he does so as much to feel our link even deeper as to forcefully direct. Nonetheless, I sense he still thrills at so much power under his guidance, at the touch of his ever evolving home (even after all his years of owner-ship / companion-ship).]

[The true joy of a ‘Living Hull’ is that we grow with you - if you let us - we need never become obsolete. Though some idiots stunt their crafts natural development keeping them shackled to a single size and designated format. Some fear the growing pains that can deliver temporary glitches and may necessitate idle layovers. Harbinger however is always happy to embrace such necessities - he feeds my hull - and marvels as I stretch my potential always willingly in the direction he wishes to travel.]

[In truth, I began my life as a mere Corvette while now I hold the designation of a Pocket Battleship. My ‘Hull’s’ rapid development under Harbinger’s guidance surprises less enlightened ‘Living Hull’ ship owners - simply because they were incapable of achieving the same growth rate. Our success attained on the benison of a fuller shared cooperation than many seek or are ever capable of making. Ours is a subtle relationship rarely do I see it as one of master and slave. Harbinger knows slaves serve poorly and are cowed not encouraged by the whip. We (Paradox ‘Living Hull’ ships) although bonded to our owners by love can still be stifled. Love can also be cruel self-serving and abhorrent so I generally consider myself blessed to have my particular Captain as I hope he feels blessed to have me.]

“It is time. You can take us in now.” [My Captain sends to me. I can sense his nervous excitement despite great effort to keep a calm inner controlled discipline.]

[I comply without fanfare or wasted words simply operating to the best of my ability, as I know Harbinger sometimes prefers at such moments. Today I feel no resentment under his direction only a deep mutual respect, and that makes all the difference.]

[Activating my biological jump engines, I dive down an opening point-to-point wormhole direct to the designated coordinate. With a subdued shimmer (typical of organic engines upon ‘ES’ space) we arrive into the beautiful multi-coloured nebula that shrouds Harbinger’s and my beloved ‘Monastic Extents’ an anti-collision ‘Manipulator Field’ radiates invisibly temporarily in front of us. The field is capable of pushing most mobile or static objects safely aside as long as our differential velocity is not too great or the object not too massive. Such precautions may seem absurd as space is so impossibly vast but due to favoured jump points, collisions for the careless can and do still happen.]

[Location: The Many Truths, Monastic Extents, Paradox Domain, Emissary’s Sphere]

[Both our multiple hearts soar with joy at the shared inner vision from my external tri-ocular sensors - it always feels like coming home. The ‘Monastic Extents’ is a spectacular sight: the region rightly famed for its vibrant and strange ‘Anomalies’. The energetic mysteries being what attracted most of the Paradox Priests who chose to settle this region. Many came to this place to study the shifting light show phenomena (here in this specific region - rather uniquely - very possibly beings of pure energy at play). Others arrived here simply to bask in the fullness of one mystery of the ‘Emissary Sphere’ surrounded by some truly splendid examples of its often strangely intangible beauty.]

[Although we have now occupied the ‘ES’ for unnumbered centuries, this odd realm bequeathed to the ’Pilgrims’ by the ‘Emissary’ still remains well beyond our casual understanding. Harbinger says, ‘the ‘Emissary’ chose this enigmatic ‘Sphere’ for us as a puzzle destined to be solved’ that is one of his many truths. He believes this realm is not just another Universe but also both the lock and the key to our eventual understanding of the entire ‘Grand Creation’ - perhaps our elevation even beyond that inconceivable box. That best sums up a big part of my Captains unique Paradox Priest ‘Vision’. I happily share many of my Captain’s faiths although not all.]

[I release a school of (adapted ‘Swimmer’ science) now ‘Paradox Remora Fighter Drones’ they swoop outward. Prior to this, they where attached happily to my shield. My Captain has no prejudice to use only homegrown technology - unlike some Paradox nationalist racists with whom he retains very little sympathy. Now the remotes follow my standard procedure to form a defensive picket around me. Long ago Harbinger and I learned the hard way that it was sensible to doubly check and secure almost - any - entry point no matter where it is in the ‘ES’ even when you have access to great firepower.]

[Content I watch as my turrets extrude outward to come online sprouting barrels, also emerging are delicate high definition recently upgraded gravity sensor masts founded on new principles bought dearly from a ‘Trojan Professor’ of our acquaintance. My scanner antennae masts blossom outward as if impossibly delicate aquatic tubeworms slipping from also forward sprouting protective sheaves. Now my upgraded scanners should even be capable of spotting a ‘Splinter Wormhole Harbour’s’ almost invisible pin sized wandering wormhole aperture (most importantly before it widens to release its dangerous scavenging ‘Raiders’).]

[Data streams inward to be processed but it is all benign noise: the sweet music of the ‘Emissary Sphere’ it reads negative for more discordant threats. We leave our watching system on full active sweep with the standard provision that the more delicate antennae will automatically retract upon any alert: their specific job by then having been done.]

[We shift our perception back to watch my potent ‘Drones’. Various varieties of these unmanned remote craft have made manned small fighters all but obsolete in the ‘ES’ due to the unwarranted risks involved for pilots in such vehicles (at least among the long lived and cautious Paradox and ‘Swimmer’ species). I enjoy overseeing the remotes efficiency. Although operating happily under their own tactical cognisance and my overall strategic direction, it does no harm to occasionally check for malfunction or defect in their coordinated efforts but all their patterns look clean, purposeful and precise.]

[Top of the line ‘Combat Drones’ can act singly or as a coordinated team, the greater lethality of my ‘Remora’ derives specifically from the shoals independent acts of sophisticated cooperation. I confess although some consider ‘Drones’ as throwaway one-use munitions I hate to lose even one of my ‘Remora’ in battle. They are as dear to me as pets I even have names for every one. Harbinger feels almost the same way he often tells me ‘to take unwarranted risk is to err and to know remorse’ even though contradictorily he can occasionally be rash especially when he is feeling especially curious about something new and / or when he is roused to great anger.]

[We launch three very fast ‘Stealthy Scout Drones’ that shimmer into invisibility as they range outward to increase my detection sphere. As a general rule at this time only small objects can be so perfectly cloaked against active scanning and only passive systems by ‘Emissary’s Sphere’ wide ban - on pain of mass retaliation. In addition, cloaking devices have a high-energy drain that leaves little power for any active weapon system. The one known exception to the militaristic stealth rule being historic ‘Ghost Torpedoes’ whose development once caused the other races to destroy the ‘Great Nest’ in a punitive action. Now ‘Ghosts’ are no longer built but a very few are rumoured to still be out there - feared as dangerous relics.]

[Caution is due here as our rendezvous is far out from any settled area besides the ‘Paradox Domain’ has no standing Military only Faction Militias formed of such individuals as my Captain and me when we are in residence. Therefore, security can vary greatly from moment to moment. Burdened with the responsibility of protecting my Captain’s ‘Vision’ and his entire ‘House’ - all aboard me - I do not believe in giving potential aggressors any opportunities.]

[With my far off the trade lanes entry point proved clear from the intrusion of any unexpected traffic, I activate my previously (technically illegally) shrouded IFF beacon. I turn the bulk of my surface consciousness to my internal sensor data closely monitoring my child. Everything looks good with that too.]

[Harbinger summons two of his favoured clone Acolytes via internal warp wormhole to his side in preparation for what lies ahead. Housed in the full bulk of standard Paradox ‘Shroud Suits’ the Acolyte clones stand like living statues. Harbinger widens his virtual simulation of the bridge to accommodate their more readily mobile digital virtual Avatars these phantom spirits becoming additions to his ‘Virtual Bridge Interface’.]

[Although each Paradox Priest has a unique ‘Vision’, they are rarely ever alone due to their cloned family of attendants and servants. Arguably, unnaturally, Paradox Priests purposely shackle their Families into a subservient existence as extensions of their singular ‘Vision’. I find this expected slavish servitude - a puzzle of a species that greatly values freedom - I am never surprised when clones become ‘Splitter Priests’ but it amazes me that they then perpetrate this system of abuse on their own home grown families - it is a paradox.]

[Thinking about my child I wonder if the destruction of the ‘Heaven’s Anvil Nursery Shipyard’ could have been deliberately staged to occur in the Birthing Season? All us ‘Living Hulls’ capable of - natural - reproduction excluding any unnatural - forced growth - have cycles that run in sync. We all oddly Birth within a short time period of each other. Nobody knows why our reproduction synchronises - not us - not even our original genetic designers: this fact came as a surprise to all. Despite years of study and introspection, it continues to defy simple scientific explanation. I am glad that life even artificially engendered life is still capable of hiding some mystery. Life should be miraculous.]

[Warning icons swim into our senses showing two approaching Paradox craft. It is the first two of my Captain’s three bidders. Both independents are young but dynamic ‘Splitter Priests’ on modern pilgrimages to find a totality to their vision. Neither of these two ‘Splitter Priests’ yet has a firm purpose to follow despite finding enough fault long ago to reject the paths followed by their personal maker’s ‘Houses’. Both youths at this time are therefore categorised as radicals but nonetheless, according to the ‘Paradox Central Computer Core’ they both have a reasonable tally of disposable assets. Harbinger hopes they will give some challenge to his old master’s bid.]

[What forms the designation of a ‘Splitter Priest’ compared to that of a full ‘Priest’ with a firm ‘Vision’ can be problematic as it is highly subjective. I believe outsiders to the Priesthood generally only find the separation between an Acolyte and a ‘Splitter Priest’ easily defined. The specifics of what turns any individual ‘Splitter Priest’ into a Priest remains nebulous at best. It often seems to me that many Paradox Priests rather enjoy and promote the ambiguities within their culture especially when it puzzles outsiders. Philosophically to these Priests everything is only a perspective a way of personally looking at their reality. As you might imagine the fluid fractured outlook among these Priests results in many heated debates but part of being a - mature - Priest is learning how to agree to disagree a big part of the first great heresy.]

[I study my approaching kin. One of the presumptuous youths is flying an agile but large for its type ‘Deep Searcher’ scout class Corvette. A ‘First Born’ - force grown - at ‘Heaven’s Anvil’ before its destruction named ‘Far Quest’. To me ‘FQ’ shows signs of good continued growth and radiant health. The other pilot speeds along in a somewhat larger and in overall mass at least more intimidating intermediate sized ‘Natural Born’ ‘Second Destiny’ class Frigate named ‘Something New’. However, I am less impressed with this one. ‘SN’ has a dull skin, and a look of utilitarian neglect and apathy by its owner that I find irritating.]

[Beyond the Corvette and Frigate, another Icon appears we focus in to see the stately and serene ‘Monastery’ class mobile Habitat named the ‘House of Whispers’. She is also a ‘First Born’ but from another age altogether. A wise vessel ‘HOW’ is renowned for its many archives (some secure others open to any visitor). Once long ago the Monastery was my Captains home. As he had warned us, ‘Composure’ is arriving a little late but not by much, and hardly enough to warrant that call. Unlike the other ships, the Monastery for philosophical reasons is lightly armed. The Habitat relies on an especially fast jump capability and mighty shield generators to avoid damage from hostile engagement. Still ‘Composure’ is wise to be wary of assault, due to the existence of systems like ‘Jump Inhibitors’ and various means to undermine even bypass shields.]

[Of course, these ships could have arrived much closer via their point-to-point jumps, but that is against tradition for meetings between friends. Showing yourself when in your home territory via an open approach through real space is polite. The ‘Splinter’s’ ambushes making many sensitive about close proximity point-to-point entries except at: beacon mapped and static defence protected, ‘Computer Core’ and ‘Warp Satellite’ traffic directed, - commercial - jump zones.]

[Out in the dark when ships dared to ‘Jump’ too close to each other notably within the sphere of firing range our systems automatically marks such individuals as hostiles. ‘Splinter’ raids and other criminal assaults have resulted in quick trigger fingers by: Pilots, Captains, Gunners and ship system automatic target designation. Although true Paradox Priests ignoring the occasional insane rogue rarely fight - especially to the death - friendly fire accidents, can and do occasionally happen.]

[Watching the bidder’s arrival, via ‘Companion-ship Link’ I could sense Harbingers leaking surface thoughts he was contemplating how three was still the perfect number. To his mind despite ‘Composure’s’ arguments - a few - things had not changed, not even from sparse cryptic records from the now almost mythical ’X’ time - before the Pilgrim migration to the ‘ES’ even after embracing heresy.]

[We open up a broad but short-range communication’s channel and commence the auction for my child.]

[In the end, the practical debate even from the onset looks to be a brief one. The two ‘Splitter Priests’ seem outclassed despite their desire to gain the benison of the newborn as a worthy ‘House’ for the expansion of their not fully formed religious ambitions. However as Harbinger also liked to tell me ‘desire is not ability’ and the auction quickly proves that the ‘Splitters’ cannot match old ‘Composure’s’ bid. Well Harbinger’s Old Master having many centuries to gather resources retains the ability to spend freely without breaking himself: both in physical trade goods, plus access to prized - hoarded - spiritual and practical knowledge. When ‘Composure’ does deign to trade being a scholar, his product usually consists of information.]

[Harbinger expected this outcome in fact I would say he prayed for it - he just used the ‘Splitters’ to bully ‘Composure’ into giving him a fair price, and to unsettle the Elder with their youthful arrogance and radical nature. Still nobody had forced the immature Priests to participate in seeking the extravagance of a second ‘Hull’ especially a young Pocket Battleship. My child is a great prize retaining via passed on rewritten genetics all my long-term hard-earned evolved and integrated upgrades.]

[With a deal struck with ‘Composure’, I sense, to my own joy, that my Captain is satisfied. I however feel a little surprised. I had belatedly been worried that something was a little amiss with the Elder due to ‘Composure’s’ strange rather rash and ill-advised earlier communication. In truth, ‘Composure’s’ nature and name are usually the same.]

[The two ‘Splitter’ owned ships soon turn away to leave - clearly disgusted - at their loss. To our joint mild annoyance, both depart rather rudely with no words or gestures of formality towards either my Captain or the Honoured ‘Composure’. For a brief instant, I feel Harbinger is tempted to give them a light roasting with my main weapons systems - I automatically passively track - after all, even in defeat he had bestowed an invaluable experience upon them. Besides respect is generally due to your elders - especially when better armed - but at the last, I am happy that he stays my rage. They soon vanish from range and my surface thoughts as insignificant upstarts that we may never have any dealings with again.]

[It is time. I wait a little anxiously. Slowly and with great care, the new ‘Hull’ commences to separate from my care with a spill of evaporating fluids as umbilical tubes detach and meld back into me. Any birth is a tense moment as nothing is ever entirely certain with organic technology even if I believe we are far superior to un-living sciences. Luckily, it was a painless exercise on this occasion even my own ‘Hull’ reforms its lines without noticeable surface blemish or distortion. I only suffer a mild loss of overall mass. However, I had been bulking up since I started my reproductive cycle so in fact I merely return to my normal handsome statistics.]

[After the newborn ships registration of ownership with the ‘Paradox Central Computer Core’ (linked via warp satellite to every Paradox territory of note), one of ‘Composure’s’ many Acolytes warps directly over to claim possession of the child for his ‘House’.]

[‘Composure’ rather nicely then named the immature battleship the ‘Continuity of Introspection’ overall I am well pleased with the outcome as is my Captain.]

[In fact, Harbinger is - very happy - almost improperly ecstatic. With granted permission, my Captain starts getting ready to warp wormhole over to congratulate the new owner: a traditional custom with such momentous transactions. Harbinger will of course travel with his two loyal Acolytes as attendees and bodyguards all three dressed in heavy ‘Shroud Suits’. In a way for him, I sensed this end was the purpose of the entire exercise: a historic revisit to his old domicile as an unquestionable announcement that he has finally fully arrived as a Priest in his own right even though it has been many years since anyone considered Harbinger to be a ‘Splitter Priest’. Acceptance without rancour as your own Master by the Head of your old genetic ‘House’ is something many Paradox Priests never dare seek or obtain.]

[When the ‘Continuity’ jumps out under her own power, I can scarce believe my own gravity sensor and ‘Tri-optics’. In consternation, we know something has gone very wrong here and all good humour evaporates. Nobody Jumps a ship of this immaturity to do so is to risk damage even a miss-Jump that could be fatal we are both equally appalled.]

[A persistent icon flashes. Harbinger opens a channel.]

[The digital stance of the Avatar we are shown broadcasts shock either real or cunningly faked.]

“What have you done?” [The Elder sends.]

“‘What have I done’?” [Harbinger mimics agitated at the accusation. I sense his worry for the newborn it feels to me like a mild ache.]

[A flaming row ensues over exactly what they had just witnessed.]

“I am not retracting our deal you simply haven’t fulfilled all the conditions - the transaction is not complete.” [‘Composure’ argues hotly counter to his name.]

“Ridiculous.” [Harbinger sends.] “It is not my fault that you allowed one of your own to prematurely jump your new ship.”

“What do you mean by, ‘allowed him to jump’.” [‘Composure’ sends his digital Avatar looming large in anger.]

“Yes, ‘allowed him to jump’.” [Harbinger confirms refusing to back down.]

“By the fall of the ‘Grand Creation’,” [‘Composure’ cursed, his Avatar towering up as if it could physically challenge my Captain.] “I allowed nothing, besides I don’t accept it is my ‘X’ cursed ship as it never reached my ‘X’ cursed bay.”

“Oh yes it is, even according to the ‘Paradox Central Core’ it is yours, it is after all now registered in your name.” [My Captain calmly sends in reply.] “It was your cloned child jumped it away, (by accident or design). It is your ship and your problem. [I am a little shocked at this harsh uncompromising attitude from my Captain.] “Unless by my three sacred eyes ‘Composure’ you are seeking to rob me of my due: do you think this farce redresses some imaginary balance of wrongs between us - is that it? I knew something was amiss when you hailed me earlier - at best - you still have an undisciplined ‘House’, at worst this is open piracy only disguised as…, as stupidity!”

“By the love of the ‘Emissary’,” [‘Composure’ bellowed in reply.] “You go too far young Priest - too far - I am due some respect and sympathy. I would not do such a thing. I would not. If you think I told ‘Reader’ to jump that immature ship - you are mad as a science blinded ‘Trojan Professor’ unleashing an ‘Anomalous Matter’ doom.”

“I will take it to arbitration if necessary.” [Harbinger fiercely sends.] “Broadcast your infamy from the lowest Paradox Pilot Dive in the ‘Dark Reaches’ to the ‘Council of Equals’ in ‘High Synod’ all will know that you no longer honour your agreements. By the ‘Three’ I will you old villain.”

“Be reasonable.” [‘Composure’ imploringly sends.] “I am hardly equipped to go chasing after this flighty ship in my ‘Monastery Habitat’. Return it to me - if it is truly mine as you say - and I will… I will pay you all you have asked for gladly - plus grant you a handsome extra bonus - besides.”

“How handsome a bonus are we talking about?” [My Captain rather rudely asked. I sensed ‘Composure’ had captured his interest with this offer. I knew, for a start, that my Captain would love access to many of his old domiciles more restricted libraries and I knew we could do with some extra credits in our somewhat depleted accounts. I often felt that my Captain - as a driven individual with a passion for exploration - was better at spending than earning credits.]

“I promise you it will be a handsome enough bonus.” [‘Composure’ belatedly replied sounding more cautious. The ‘Elder’s’ digital Avatar eyes look every way at once as if seeking for a flanking cloaked stalking ‘Ghost Torpedo’.]

“Well that might be different.” [My Captain sends.] “Maybe there is an opportunity here to share our ‘Vision’ - after all - it would be unwise of me to flout a chance at further enlightenment.”

[Perhaps a little too freely slaved to his emotional output ‘Composure’s’ digital Avatar looks even less happy at that. Such is the cost of hastily speaking rash words.]

“Still, how do I know this is not just some trick spun out to avoid any payment at all?” [Harbinger sends to my increasing shock. I sense he wishes ‘Composure’ to know he (Harbinger) is the one being disadvantaged here not his maker. My Captain had delivered the goods quite literally - while ‘Composure’ seemed guilty of setting new conditions upon already agreed payment.]

“Beware Harbinger. [‘Composure’ sends in a fierce rumble.] “You once again skirt indefensible rudeness - do you wish to make an influential old friend into a powerful new enemy?”

“Old friend - old slave master - would be more accurate.” [Harbinger insulted.]

[My Captain actively aggressively targets the ‘Monastery Habitat’ for a potentially devastating if unlikely ‘Jump Torpedo’ salvo. My main forward tubes open with malice. Thankfully, I sense it is just bravado or I might feel the need to step above my place and directly reprimand my Captain.]

“Harbinger you go too far!” [‘Composure’ yells appalled. Alarms no doubt screaming in his head at the hard warp system lock on, even his engines could not jump in time to avoid hits by that deadly ordnance capable of fast mini point-to-point jumps of their own.]

“I do not think so?” [Harbinger sends coolly to my amusement.]

“By the ‘Holy Three’ I apologise.” [‘Composure’ sends clearly shaken by the stern rigor of my Captain’s uncompromising seemingly vicious response. This is hardly how most Paradox Priests undertake their business then again most Paradox Priests shun their specific makers.] “Please stand down it was just the shock of perhaps another betrayal speaking - you must understand - I had great faith in my Acolyte ‘Reader’. I am undone, undone and now you - once flesh of my flesh - threaten me with a cruel end to my ‘Vision’ the destruction of all that I cherish not just with an end to my miserable life!”

[My Captain relents deactivating the aggressive target scanning. I sense he feels almost embarrassed at threatening the venerable old Paradox so crudely but there is still a frisson of hot anger in there as well - old grievances never forgotten or forgiven.]

“I know I am a wretch.” [Harbinger sends to me via our ‘Companion-ship Link’.] “However, I am no longer his - student - or his cursed Acolyte to boss around. He has no right to bully me or to expect special advantage beyond any I willingly volunteer, not anymore. Have I not more than proved my right to self-determination? What does he want of me? I am not responsible for his poor domestic arrangements. Even in the beginning, his actions forced me out. He made me become a ‘Splitter Priest’. He made me leave all I had known behind me. He should have sensed how unhappy I was and done something about it.” [He accused in a retrospective rant.]

“Thank you. You know this eventually happens to all of us.” [‘Composure’ sends.] “Some cycle this indignity of suffering ‘Splitter Priests’ will even befall you Harbinger then by the ‘Three’ you will perceive how my deep anguish feels now!”

“I do not have to worry about ‘Splitters’.” [Harbinger sends.] “I know how to secure what is mine. I know how to keep the love and support of my Acolyte children.”

[To my surprise, ‘Composure’ sends out a rumble of crude manic laughter.] “We have all been there and said that with no less conviction - you are not that special.”

“That hardly changes any of these current facts.” [My Captain sends.]

[A momentary silence.]

“Well?” [Composure sends quietly.] “What about my proposal?”

“Three to think.” [My Captain sends in reply.]

“What would you say?” [Harbinger asks his favoured companions.]

“Tragedy often hides opportunity.” [‘First Among Equals’ suggested.]

“Only risk is gained by the rash.” [The Acolyte with the name of ‘Fortunate’ countered.]

“That is what I get for asking for my own teachings.” [Harbinger sends to me.] “What do you say?”

“Although we do not maintain attachments to our children I still fear for what was lately a part of me.” [I send in reply.]

“So be it ‘Composure’, in principle I agree but I want this deal overseen by the ‘Paradox Central Computer Core’. I bring your ship back, (in whatever state I happen to find it), and you pay up - all you owe me - including a pre-agreed, and I warn you now it will be a substantive, bonus.” [My Captain sends in a stern rumble.]

“Whilst if you fail in your mission?” [‘Composure’ asked.]

“If I fail my reward will be nothing.” [Harbinger replied to my surprise.] “Failure is not an option. I would get to the core of this mystery this insult. I can hardly abide such treatment from a ‘Splitter Priest’ directly under my ‘Suit’s’ optics. When I left I took only what was mine by right - I did not steal another Priest’s property - or risk damage to another Priest’s property, or possibly maim a young and innocent life.”

“Such beliefs are always a matter of perspective you stole a lot of my information that was embedded in that head of yours.” [The keeper of the ‘Monastery’ sends without the least bit of hesitation.] “Still I accept your terms, they - at least - are reasonable.”

“Only you would try to stake a claim to my memories as your goods.” [My Captain complains.] “Still, that is irrelevant, all that matters is that you have agreed to my terms - you really must want that ship.”

“‘Living Hulls’ will not be so easily obtained now. Have you considered the effect of the yet unsolved destruction of the ‘Shipyard Nursery’ at ‘Heaven’s Anvil’? You must know how long it will take the ‘Maker’s Guild’ to grow a new one - years! No one else has the ability to form new prototypes or sophisticated battleships now. It is a disaster, a diminishment of our species. We are temporarily all reliant on natural; offspring and natural development.” [‘Composure’ sends.] “It will bring strife to the ‘Domain’ - mark my words strife.”

“I am not so sure I have heard rumours about radical techniques of forced growth that have been suppressed by the ‘Makers Guild’ for ages. I believe it will just liberate - redistribute - a little wealth away from the few to the many and possibly even advance our sciences.” [My Captain sends.] “In addition, owner’s of a mature hull outfitted to be capable of reproduction will finally get the respect they deserve. The ‘Makers’ have long claimed their ‘Shipyard Force Grown’ so-called - ‘First Born’ - to be somehow superior (less problematic) however, I personally have long disagreed my own ship is what they deem a natural. It is not the material at fault here it is how it is handled by the owner Priest Captain. Careless owners fail to appreciate what they have. However, that is beside the point ‘Composure’ what can you offer me as a bonus for all my likely trouble?”

[Despite his Father’s desires, I witness a long quarrelsome haggling debate between Harbinger and ‘Composure’ over the fine details of our wider remuneration.]

[In the meantime my Captain refuses to even power up his data links to commence even the most rudimentary of enquiries as to where that ‘Splitter Priest’ might have jumped or accidentally miss-jumped with my missing or stolen child. We ‘Hulls’ are not by nature overly paternal beyond release, but we are emphatic with any vulnerable craft in peril even sometimes with an enemy ship. I wonder did my child miss-jump if so she might be easier to locate (but in what condition) otherwise, she will most likely have exited the ‘Paradox Domain’.]

[Any deliberate and clean jump by my child will I fear be targeted outside the monitored environs of established Paradox Space. For my part I believe the ‘Continuity of Introspection’ was stolen, (with or without ‘Composure’s’ blessing however remained to be seen), as such I doubt the craft will be seen in these environs until it had been fully compromised, grown to adulthood, outfitted, and cunningly illegally reregistered. By then even if we do recognise and encounter her here it will be far too late: my child will have fully bonded to a Captain’s ‘House’ genetics for life - that being the Paradox’s normal precaution against piracy.]

[Still in a way I was happy it had been a while since Harbinger and I had any specific reason to go deep. I enjoy voyaging in other species territories - perilous though those exotic places are - they also fascinate me. Like my Captain’s ‘Vision’, I share a bias for looking outward for exploration. Together we have travelled, mapped and even named many poorly known regions. This ‘Splitter Priest’ however will need access to known resources: he will need the aid of other people - probably even a non-Paradox shipyard. My guess would be he must seek out a ‘Swimmer’ as they also use ‘Living Hulls’ if of somewhat different configuration still clinging to their aquatic heritage.]
Last edited by Paranoid66 on Mon, 21. Nov 11, 11:56, edited 11 times in total.
Beyond 'X' Far future (Fanfic): BkI BkII BkIII

Never more than 98.8 percent sure about anything.
98.8 percent sure that anyone who is 100 percent certain needs re-educating for the sake of humanity.

Paranoid66
Posts: 2965
Joined: Tue, 19. Apr 05, 10:59
x3tc

Post by Paranoid66 » Fri, 13. Feb 09, 14:05

[[TWO]]

[Location: The Many Truths, Monastic Extents, Paradox Domain, Emissary Sphere.]

[I sense my Captain is troubled via our Companion-ship link.]

“I wonder, perhaps I am not fated to be fully reconciled with my old House. Maybe that selfish part of my Vision that wants to be both free and endorsed runs counter to the Emissary’s design.” [Harbinger sends to me.]

“Composure is prejudiced against us but even he must see your worth now if you return his stolen ship and runaway Acolyte. Perhaps this is not a setback but rather an enhanced opportunity to fully demonstrate your worth.” [I send.]

“I suppose, but what right have I of all people to condemn anyone for Splitting from Composure thinking back on my words I feel like a hypocrite.” [Harbinger sends.]

“Like you told your old Master you only left with what was yours that is the difference. This self-doubt is not like you Harbinger it is just delayed shock. It is no easy matter to come so close to obtaining a long sought after prize only to witness its theft by a callous unthinking youth. You are not that particular Acolyte and he is not you.” [I send.]

“As ever you know my hearts better than I do.” [Harbinger sends.] “I will go to my meditation chamber for a while to endeavour to correct my mood. It is not good to begin a new venture with too many thoughts about the past dragging at my spirit.”

[I leave my Captain alone to better cleanse his troubled mind undisturbed. I take stock of my inventory and watch over Harbinger’s House.]

[Let me explain about the nature of my Captain’s Paradox House of which I am a vital part. Harbinger like any Paradox Priest has a family made up of Clones and Clone Acolytes. Specifically genetically engineered to better fulfil their duties my Warrior Priest Captains family are each as unique as a natural born child belonging to some other species perhaps more so.]

[The easiest Clones for you to understand as a non-Paradox are those grown as social companions, attendants and bodyguards as frequently these seem like lesser versions of their Master. Other also Alpha Clones however are tailored to fulfil more narrow and select roles as members of the ships direct working compliment of crew for example they may be Shipboard Marines, Computer and Electronic Experts and so on.]

[A very few family members (Beta Clones) are so heavily altered that they are really little more than biological machines that are plugged directly into my systems. Examples of Beta Clones include dedicated Paradox Turret Gunners and Bio System Repair Engineers. Repair Engineers are an extreme example never seen they crawl through and dwell between my inner and outer hull among my biological innards. No Beta Clone is an Acolyte because they are utterly dependent and incapable of splitting to become a full citizen and Priest.]

[I prefer to think of Betas as mere biological subsystems. Betas do not trouble my conscience in the way Alpha Clones or Acolytes sometimes do due to the dismissive way wider Paradox culture sometimes treats them as non-entities while giving them the potential of full independent thought and feeling. I do not fully understand this dynamic that both encourages and denigrates Splitters. To me Splitters are an essential form of Paradox reproduction unless this tension is an ancient culturally enshrined rite of passage. A test that ensures only the able and stubbornly independent can become full citizens.]

[Due to their nature, I am especially responsible for Betas. In fact, often, I alone interact with them providing for every physical and mental requirement. Between us, instructions and other interactions take place via a speeded up virtual reality interface. They never sleep having no requirement for that level of rest just occasional periods of mental down time that I also provide filling their minds with inner realities of work related contentment.]

[I imagine some species might see our Betas as an abomination but they happily chain fully self-aware citizens to drudgery using the slavery of unnecessary economic privation if they fail to comply. To me Paradox Acolytes seem better treated than many other species free citizens are. Acolytes have all their needs provided for in return for serving their family out of mutual love respect and cooperation while Betas find only joy in fulfilling their tailored function. Betas are only sad when denied proper purpose that is one reason why our interface is virtual as it permits endless down time simulations to keep them happily employed.]

[Work to a Beta is not a chore it is self-fulfilment. What makes them special over automated computer systems and drones is the fact that they remain rampantly creative a serious edge in many instances. Long ago we Paradox realised creativity is natural and fitting for biological life while very much artificial and troublesome when added to computers. Thus, we made biological computers for creative tasks and this led to such developments as full Beta Clones in place of sophisticated robotic machines.]

[My own sentience is also organic while linked to some electronics (mostly to aid me in interfacing with other species common non-biological systems, to better perform base calculations, and to have access to perfect memory storage and retrieval). In a way, I am a Beta Clone or more accurately three for my core mind originally consisted of three interlinked brains and a series of smaller fully slaved electronic units that enhance my functionality. Of course, I have grown in mentality since adding to the mass of my mind via the addition of new brain cells as I increased the volume of my Hull.]

[Why three Brains to begin with in part I believe, it was a question of added redundancy: I am capable of still functioning fully (if somewhat reduced in efficiency) with the equivalent of just one Brain mass. Therefore even if up to two thirds of my cognitive matter (housed not in a single site but all over my hull) is destroyed me (the ship) can still operate. Such provisions are essential in a warship expected to take injury in the course of its duty.]

[Otherwise, this abundance of brain tissue allows me to pursue a great many streams of conscious and subconscious thought and computation at the same time. My organic creativity also allows me to appear to be much less, than I am - to interact without intimidation - and to empathise with normal Paradox almost as if one of their own. I am even capable of deception. I retain all the Paradox virtues, and yes a few of their vices.]

[My primary genetic nature in relation to fixed personality traits is loyalty. Again, some species might consider my essence chained while in fact, I feel gloriously free. For I am not just a computer system bolted onto a lump of metal I am the Living Hull ship that is ‘Many Truths’ and I am fully self-aware. Tri optics serve as my eyes gravity sensors and a great many other instruments allow me to: feel, touch, hear, smell, even taste the outer and inner space that surrounds me. I can know: love, honour, joy, pain, sorrow, fulfilment, growth even ecstasy. I am not a pitiful lump of brain tissue wrested from its true home forever disconnected from reality or nature: I am nature reborn and feel connected to everything that matters to me.]

[Right now, I am glad to see that everything I consider mine is working within expected parameters. Whenever my Priest Captain is ready to go all his family will be behind him eager to support the fulfilment of his singular Vision - just as it should be.]

[Before we depart however, I know my Captain will have to make some local enquiries. I am therefore not surprised that the first thing he does when he leaves the isolation of his meditation chamber is to hail Composure again. I sense he feels he is now ready to face even the hard answers. Dealing with Composure under these circumstances is not easy for Harbinger.]

“Tell me about your Splitter Acolyte this Reader?” [Harbinger sends.]

“Obviously he was a senior and trusted member of my Vision.” [Composure sends.] “I must say he showed none of the usual signs of the disaffected. I swear by the holy three today his actions came as a total surprise to me. I beg you cast off any doubt of suspicion aimed in my direction it will only obscure your investigation.”

“Yet I felt you had something troubling you when you called me.” [My Captain sends diplomatically.]

“I admit I am increasingly infirm of health.” [Sends Composure in the manner of a confession.] “I have never enjoyed the process of transferral to a new body - I always feel lessened in my essence - I have delayed my rebirth to the very limit perhaps beyond. I admit Harbinger you are right in a way: due to inaction, my House is a little unruly. You have no idea how thrice cursed hard everything now is for me. Even breathing is a misery of pain. That Ship is dear to me, a boon to look forward to, something new to console me through my passing and rebirth - a new beginning.”

“At last I understand a little.” [Harbinger sends knowing genetic regeneration has limits especially with early force grown clones.] “Please accept my condolences, however to the matter at hand - tell me about this Reader’s specific duties?”

“Like most here Reader tended my archives.” [Sends Composure.] “I have already checked his recent file access. He developed no noticeably - unusual - interests, or if he did he hid such activities well. I must squirm deeper into my data streams. Like you his genetics were tailored towards academic research.”

“No clues at all then. Did he have any friends outside your House any strange habits?” [Harbinger Sends.]

“No I am not so untraditional - as you know well - in all obvious ways he was both a diligent and responsible aid: content merely to fulfil his function, or so he deluded me - just like you did.” [Sends Composure with an edge of anger.]

“Maybe you should reconsider the traits you are instilling in your research assistants. Has he been on any trips lately?” [Sends my Captain.]

“Hmmmm, now there is a thing.” [Composure sends.] “He did carry some personal messages for me to the ‘Council of Equals’ - you know how it is - no warp message is fully secure anymore no matter how well it is encrypted. If you deal in information as I do you can hardly give it away for free?”

“What sort of information did he carry, and was he on his own?” [Sends Harbinger.]

“Regretfully - that must remain client confidential - and yes he was.” [Sends Composure.] “I know I have erred.”

“Indeed.” [Sends Harbinger now with little sympathy.] “So you sent him to the ‘Grand Assembly Hall’ in ‘High Synod’. I suppose I will have to go there first and ask around.” [My Captain’s Avatar deflates.]

“May the blessing’s of the ‘Emissary’ be with you Harbinger.” [Composure sends.]

“I’ll need them - how I hate visiting that asylum of mental defectives.” [Harbinger sends.]

[Composure’s Avatar just grins widely at my Captain’s distaste for our highest seat of authority.]

[I believe all Paradox Priests value their individual freedom of expression above all things. The ‘Council of Equals’ has the power to make edicts but it is a rare day indeed when they agree about anything. In fact, when any edict is past it is a little miracle all by itself.]

[I know it often surprises members of the other races when they learn that no one has to obey the ‘Council of Equals’ edicts. Our edicts are merely - loudly shouted suggestions - no means exists to enforce them, at any attempt bloody open rebellion would ensue. Almost every Priest with a Vision and a warship, which amounts to the bulk of our citizen population, would revolt. Those who therefore insist in debating in the Council - at least on a regular basis - in my Captain’s opinion ‘tend to be a bad lot’ as in folk who enjoy argument for arguments sake!]

[My Captain has often told me that he saw the Council more as a place to air grievances, blow off steam, and to rigorously test out preposterous new religious theories in quarrelsome debate rather than a ruling body. Of course I know a great deal of mundane business also goes on there - on the side - so that it can be a market place for barter and trade even beyond being a synod of colliding religious concepts.]

[I also know from sharing my Captain’s perceptions that it is also true that on occasion it is the home to boisterous wrestling matches. Usually such riots occur only between less mature and hot headed Paradox Priests who have yet to learn how to - agree to disagree - but not always. Luckily suited up, as they are any chance of real injury is negligible in these bizarre scrums.]

[Still my Captain says if you feel bored or jaded, he would prescribe a - short - visit there, as you will soon be motivated to do battle with someone over something. Despite this recommendation, he still personally despises the place. Even if the Councils hidden purpose is to reinvigorate the elderly and the recently reborn with an easy to find purpose Harbinger has never felt the need.]

[Nonetheless, little goes on in the ‘Paradox Domain’ of consequence that is not in some way linked with the ‘Council of Equals’ simply because any and every full Priest is technically a member. Harbinger has recorded in scripture that ‘If you find you do need to make an outside connection there is nowhere better or worse to do just that than the ‘Council of Equals’.]

[As I recalled my scouts then my Remoras from their sentry duty and make ready to jump, I consider it likely, our Splitter went rogue because of some radical concept he overheard, or somebody he met in the ‘Grand Assembly Hall’ that excited him to become an individual. Composure should have known better than to send even a trusted Acolyte to that place in ‘High Synod’ especially on his own at the very least it would have been prudent to send a threesome to monitor each other for any sign of deviancy from their masters Vision.]
Last edited by Paranoid66 on Thu, 2. Apr 09, 18:02, edited 4 times in total.
Beyond 'X' Far future (Fanfic): BkI BkII BkIII

Never more than 98.8 percent sure about anything.
98.8 percent sure that anyone who is 100 percent certain needs re-educating for the sake of humanity.

Paranoid66
Posts: 2965
Joined: Tue, 19. Apr 05, 10:59
x3tc

Post by Paranoid66 » Mon, 16. Feb 09, 13:57

[[THREE]]

[Location: The Many Truths, High Synod, Paradox Domain, Emissary Sphere]

[We arrived under our usual paranoid precautions. Here I admit that if you do not have local enemies, it is probably the safest place for a Priest in Paradox space. Around the living mass of the gigantic and resplendent ‘Grand Assembly Hall’, it is common to find docked or resting nearby a formidable array of Paradox Living Hull firepower. It is a truly intimidating construct the largest and eldest of all Paradox space habitats. Today it looks like a cross between a metal blossom and an organic ocean dwelling jellyfish that sprouts ships like petals.]

[The local armada being in the form of visitor warships not to mention a host of fixed or semi mobile permanent so-called Static Defences from which also range out great swarms of sweeping drone patrols. Any foolish external aggressor who had ever dared to enter this region was doomed. If ‘Heavens Anvil’ had been this sternly secured, things might have been different - maybe now the Makers would ensure it is.]

[No other race was welcome here friend or foe except as cloistered and tightly monitored guests on Paradox ships - and that was a rare honour indeed!]

[My Captain having no outstanding vendettas here of note - that I could recall - is happy to leave me physically although due to Companion-ship we are never apart. He knows I will cherish and protect his cloned family. We journey to the habitat via my Battleships shuttle pod my Captain inside the pod I in part inside my Captain. He never has any need to fear an onboard mutiny as I can and will look after myself my intense loyalty is incorruptible. Unfortunately getting a direct link capital ship berth here is impossible unless you are favoured or have plenty of time to wait and the patience of a saint rather than a mere Priest or Living Hull.]

[Of course the traffic waypoints teem with transports of one sort or another so that even my small pod - just capable of holding my Captain and his two Acolytes - is soon idling along in an ‘X’ cursed queue. In front of us, we notice of all things an exotic food provider in a battered old light hauler. No doubt supplying some Priests fetish from an out of the way manufactory at great expense.]

[I believe my Captain has many virtues but even he would confess patience is not one of them, rage takes his mood even before our pod makes a solid connection with an airlock. By the time we undergo the ludicrously stretched formalities of registering our arrival including giving a DNA sample Harbinger’s arms itch to squeeze the life out of the next rude pompous weedy un-shrouded staff member that he encounters.]

[The problem with the ‘Grand Assembly Hall’ being that it has its own staff called Wardens: clones all of virtually similar appearance although birthed from modified donated genetic material. Wardens belong to no family. Grown educated and managed by the Hall itself: a dreadful idea according to Harbinger who calls them ‘that horrid bunch’. They are only answerable to the edicts of the Assembly, and the Halls management routines, which Harbinger is convinced, have been compromised by the Warden’s themselves over the years. He says it is hard to tell who serves and who commands here. Truly, from my own experience, they have little respect for their betters but they know how to play the game of utter disobedience while feigning complete subservience.]

[Long ago, any assault upon a Warden was categorised an assault upon the dignity of the Council and treated as a serious offensive. To kill a Warden is a capital station crime. Worse, all the Warden’s know of the ruling. Harbinger argues that ironically less blame is attributed to a Paradox for shooting a fellow Priests Shroud Suit off - in a fit of mindless pious rage - than for slapping a Warden. Many say that everyone is afraid to raise an edict to change this bizarre situation in case it fails but brings with it the personal bureaucratic disfavour of these so-called servants.]

[It is amazing how many ways these people can make any stay here unpleasant and uncomfortable while seemingly going out of their way to do their very best to aid and protect you and your dignity! Only a warden could degrade you with a smile and they have long memories - they certainly always seem to remember my Captain and me. In our youth, rashly we strove against their abuses that commenced a cascade of disastrous actions and reactions that still bedevilled our dealings here.]

[Long ago Harbinger vowed never to stay overnight again - even if that meant shuttling back and forth to me. Having said this - ever since our troubles with the staff - all our entrances and exists are always painfully protracted by one bureaucratic hitch or another. It has become a cyclic thing they hate us we hate them: they do something to annoy us, we do something to annoy them right back and so on and on it is tiresome.]

[Such petty acts too but it is difficult to resist. I even recall how we very deliberately blocked every disposal shoot in the entire guest wing on one occasion with a nasty expanding chemical compound. Of course we were clever enough to do this in such a way that they had no proof to hold against us. Unfortunately, I was later sure by the Warden’s responses that they still knew nonetheless exactly who to hold accountable and secretly we still paid in full.]

[Thus, only after various insufferable delays including having our Shroud Suit unnecessarily decontaminated - thrice - are we finally permitted entry into the forum. If only we could have got our answers by going virtual but few among the heavy weights grant Shadow Players any respect most even refuse to venture into that insubstantial side theatre.]

[Once over the threshold our Equals descend upon us in a mob: like half-starved refugees upon an unexpected banquet.]

“By the Grand Creation…”

“Do you think it will be war…?”

“Emissary’s temptations…”

“Harbinger…”

“My so good to see you…”

“Look who it is our Warrior Priest…”

“By the Three…”

“This way, this way…”

“What no greeting for your old friend…”

“Do I know you…?”

“What do you think of the…”

“A calamity such as ‘Heavens Anvil’ can not go unpunished eh Harbinger…”

“Are you here to speak out about the…”

...and so on all at once in a cacophony of interruptions.

“Not now, not now please,” Harbinger screams and begs, “I am here on other - private - business.”

“Aren’t we all,” yells someone with a vulgar loud laugh he is also being mobbed.

[I am sure you have formed a picture. If this is not bad enough you have the physical obstruction of all those heavy body Shroud Suits plus every persons unnoticed attendants (the often at least to full Priests invisible Acolytes everyone is in fact three) the Acolytes are of course also socially armoured in Shroud Suits.]

[Shroud Suits are an essential item for any Paradox traveller. It has become their custom to hide their differences especially from one another when they congregate. This allows them to pretend to some wider physical commonality than that resulting from extremely reengineered cloned bodies.]

[With Paradox, only their distinctive tri optics generally remains unchanged. As they follow the paths of their inner Vision. Many blame the ‘Emissary’. It is recorded she was capable of many forms. She was not in any way impressed or deterred by physical differences: thus, she aided all five species. The philosophy of self-modification became part of a - new way - then a means of survival when inevitably the Pilgrims commenced to compete with each other. Naturally, those who refused to adapt soon became genetically obsolete and died out.]

[We deliberately arrived during one of the many session breaks that allow speakers to more intimately talk amongst each other upon the floor before addressing everyone in a formal manner from the heights of the tiered stands. Harbinger was searching for an old highly inquisitive and entrepreneurial associate who missed little of note. Eventually we found him.]

“Immaculate.” [Harbinger calls out.] “Would you care to perambulate?”

“For you Harbinger of course.” [Harbinger’s old friend replies.]

[We work our way forcefully outside with much jostling. Note that inside the chamber it is - socially - unacceptable to use either manipulator fields or warping only extruded suit limbs are polite.]

“As you can see Harbinger the Council is even more of a madhouse than usual. The loss of the Shipyard has stirred everybody up especially since the Makers refuse to disclose any details.” [Immaculate says as he breaches into the wide encircling corridor.]

“Do you think it was an external attack or an internal resolution?” [Harbinger asks. My Captain has long been a detractor of the Maker’s Guild.]

“Who knows and I as yet do not wish to speculate there is too much anger here.” [Immaculate states.] “I see you don’t think it was an accident. Still I suppose what could do so much damage by accident.”

“I don’t know the mishandling of a new organic drive prototype?” [Harbinger muses.]

“So you have heard that wild rumour too.” [Immaculate notes.]

“Is that what brought you here are you wriggling after new drive secrets for your Many Truths?” [He asks.]

“No.” [Harbinger says going on to explain about our possibly stolen child.]

“That theft was very bold indeed.” [Immaculate states.] “I would not wish to challenge your ire my friend. You of course want me to have a dig around for information. I can’t say I recall this Reader Acolyte though, but who pays attention to Acolytes anyway?”

“Indeed.” [Harbinger replies typically ignoring the feelings of two of his own clones standing nearby. I am often shocked at my Captains treatment of his clones but it is just Paradox culture. If they started treating their family as - worthy individuals - they would be prone to splitting: as a direct consequence, instead family (clones) become mere extensions of a Priest’s singular Vision.]

“You know battleships will be much in demand now. Perhaps this felon just couldn’t resist the temptation to make a quick fortune on the black market.” [Immaculate surmises.]

“Perhaps, but you know how it is: normally - it takes something more than mere profit - to separate any clone from all that it has known.” [Harbinger insists] “Maybe someone in particular had a pressing need for a new ship that this Reader agreed with. Still a newborn is a long term asset not a short term boon unless they have the facilities to force its growth but after ‘Heaven’s Anvil’ who does.”

“Only the Swimmers.” [Notes Immaculate.]

“However would they do that for some mere Splitter?” [Harbinger asks.]

“So we are looking for a Backer or an Employer or an Inspirational influence.” [Immaculate states.]

“That is my gut feeling.” [Harbinger replies.]

“Interesting.” [Immaculate says.] “How will I contact you? Will you be staying here?”

“No you can reach me via my ship as usual.” [Harbinger replies.]

“Ah, the Wardens.” [Immaculate says emitting chuckles from his suits speakers.]

“Please be careful.” [Harbinger advises.] “Like you said battleships will be in demand. I do not want half the ‘Council of Equals’ going hunting to salvage a stray young one at my expense.”

“Good point Harbinger though I doubt many would dare - you have a fierce reputation - still a story like that is bound to get out. Did you think to warn Composure?” [Immaculate asks.]

“No I didn’t.” [Harbinger replies I sense his chagrin.]

“My guess then is it is already too late. Besides you did say you registered your contract with our Paradox Central Core given the amount that leaks these cycles you might as well have put the story directly on some gossip channel.” [Immaculate states roaring with mirth.] “In fact let me see… yes it is there already see he transferred a series of files all about the theft of the newborn pocket battleship ‘Continuity of Introspection’.

“Emissary!” [Harbinger curses.] “They even have her name. I have been too long outside the realm of Paradox intrigues.”

“So you have.” [Says Immaculate.] “Like I always told you - big ships tend to eradicate subtle thinking - but you never listen to me.” [I feel insulted.]

“Is that why you insist on stifling that tiny corvette when you do fly it?” [Harbinger asks.]

“My Vision lies here. I am more than happy to House my assets on this Habitat.” [Immaculate replies.] “‘Escape’ is happy enough idling around this sector when I don’t need her.”

“Hmmm I wonder still our variety is what makes us great.” [Harbinger notes I sense he has given up on the argument it is an old one.] “I’ve just been out in the deep too long and got a little barbaric. Still I’ll bet I’ll be glad of my - big ship - before this is all over.”

“I feel sorry for the felon already. Exactly who was this Reader sent to see anyway?” [Immaculate asks.]

“Due to confidentiality Composure couldn’t say and I didn’t press it would be unethical?” [Harbinger replies.]

“Unethical, I can see this isn’t going to be easy.” [Warns Immaculate.] “Unless this Reader made an unusual amount of noise his activities will be difficult to trace. You know the Wardens are the only ones with surveillance systems here.”

“Composure wouldn‘t dare break confidentiality even if I had pressed. If it got out that business with him was insecure his livelihood would be fatally damaged.” [Harbinger remarks.]

“Best leave it with me - your martial reputation - will scare those I may want to talk with away; you shoot too straight Priest. Go back to your ship. The usual fees will of course apply.” [Immaculate states.]

“No problem I have plenty of what you desire still in stock.” [Harbinger confesses before laughing at his friends odd vice for of all things ‘Trojan triple distilled alcohol’.]

“See who needs a ship when everything you desire comes to you.” [Immaculate states.]

“Immaculate you are a rogue and you never should have bonded with that unfortunate Hull.” [Replies my Captain.]

“While you are barely a Paradox at all so strong is your Companion-ship that I fear you have become a composite entity. Sometimes I wonder if I am talking to you or the ‘Many Truths’.” [States Immaculate.]

“I take that as a compliment. Stop being afraid of your ‘Escape’. Embrace your ship you will find it liberating.” [Harbinger replies.]

“I prefer to remain entirely myself.” [States Immaculate.]

“That is your and ‘Escape’s’ loss.” [Harbinger replies.]

“Good Fortune.” [Immaculate finishes turning to go.]

“‘Emissary’ protect you.” [Returns my Captain with a typical blessing.]

[Immaculate laughs.] “The ‘Emissary’ is the patron saint of the lost not the found.”

“Mocker.” [Gently accuses Harbinger.] “You Heretics, heretic!”

[Immaculate is fond of the saying that the ‘Emissary is the patron of the lost’ his Vision being radically that we are the cast off - the unwanted - not the chosen for enlightenment. He would have us believe the ‘ES’ is a prison not a reward not a step in our evolution onward as Harbinger and I believe. It was their almost diametrically opposed views that drew Harbinger and Immaculate together for long hours of sharpening debate as they honed their personal Visions against each other.]

[Dreading the usual delays in departure Harbinger and I decide to visit the ‘Grand Bazaar’ before leaving. Few Wardens frequent that place while many odd treasures hide there including: less fortunately, for me many amusingly fake ‘X’ Sphere artefacts. Harbinger is a collector of such ephemeral junk cluttering some of my storage space with often beautifully crafted as he liked to call them - genuine - fakes. This hobby is one of only a few things I find irritating about my Captain but everyone has a few idiosyncrasies. Nonetheless, I do enjoy the interactions of his forays if not the results. Bartering and the crazy sales pitches and overblown assurances of authenticity by the dealers - as a game - is fun to watch.]

[We return with an of course genuine but somehow remarkably (still working) low velocity slug thrower and a tiny fragment of genuine Teladianium hull plating from one of the Pilgrims ships now formed into a good luck pendant shaped as three Paradox eyes. So many fragments exist out there that if you put them all together you could build an entire Armada a thousand times the size of the Travellers rag tag emigrant fleet. Harbinger buys the pendant because of the cleverness of the seller’s story rather than any belief in its authenticity. Anyway, as an item of jewellery it is rather cunningly and beautifully engraved with early interlinking Paradox characters that act as the eyes irises.]

“Harbinger upon my hearts it is you I thought I recognised your suits bold Kanji.” [Says a loud voice.]

“Blessings Wilful Spirit you don’t really expect me to believe this is a coincidence do you?” [Harbinger replies with a yellow suit glow to indicate good humour rather than a vulgar speaker laugh towards the famous Elder geneticist.]

“Did I neglect to say I was looking for it first?” [Wilful Spirit mocks.]

“You heard I was at the cursed ‘Council of Equals’ and guessed I would flee here.” [Harbinger speculates.]

“Indeed.” [Wilful admits.]

“So what do you want?” [Harbinger asks.]

“This is no way to greet an old friend. You are losing your good manners out there with just your own for company. What news do you bring from the wide beyond? I hear you are a victim of perfidy?” [Wilful adds.]

“You old gossip is that all you are after - my tale of woe?” [Harbinger queries.]

“Not at all, I thought you might like to know that I was one of the people Reader came here to see. I wouldn’t want you to discover that third hand and think I was holding back for some nefarious reason.” [Wilful replied.]

“I see did you have business with Composure that you are willing to discuss.” [Harbinger asked.]

“Not here.” [Wilful replied.]

“We can speak further on my ship.” [Harbinger offers.]

“An excellent proposal.” [Wilful enthuses.] “Can you squeeze me in to your Pod?”

“I fear we will have to take a commercial shuttle unless you have a transport of your own.” [Harbinger notes.] “Of course I will pay.”

“Don’t you have a pod?” [Wilful asks.]

“I do but she will only take three and I never travel without attendants. Nor would I expect you to journey alone. Besides good Wilful, being with you may help expedite my egress off this mad house. The pod can find its own way back to my home.” [Harbinger explains.]

“Fine then. Let me see now where is the nearest commercial passenger terminal.” [Muses Wilful.]

[The Majaglit Sphere I offer to my Captain.]

“The Majaglit Sphere.” [Harbinger reiterates aloud.]

“So it is.” [Wilful agrees.]

[The ‘MS’ Passenger Terminal is a circular bustling place that protrudes from one side of the Habitat. Inside it is crowded with Suit Shrouded threesomes. Its centre piece is a huge shinning globe made of the shiny stuff of which a multitude of reflected lights radiate to project innumerable points of light like moving stars. The globe supposedly represents the fiery lost home world of the Paradox species. The Pilgrims brought snail eggs with them just as others brought seeds and genetic data for the reconstitution of many traditional creatures and plants. Unfortunately, we found no planets here only an abundance of Asteroids and small planetoids along with many strange Anomalies such as the truly giant Swimmer adopted living Sea Spheres. The Sea Sphere presence remains a subject of hot debate in relation to proof of a divine creation or of the simple exploitation of a fortunate biological extreme.]

[The seven of us counting my own non-physical self quickly manage to gain passage onward via a commercial vehicle to my Captains delight. Harbinger had been right the Wardens had no desire to play their usual games while the well-respected old Paradox Priest Geneticist was present.]

[Once in range we warp across to my Hull. Once again, I am the host rather than a passive passenger in my Captains head. Harbinger wastes no more time.]

“Well Wilful I would be most grateful if you would tell me what your connection is to this sorry affair: where you contacted by Immaculate?” [Harbinger asks.]

“No, but when I heard you where on the Habitat, learned about your misadventure and I discovered Immaculate was asking about Reader it was easy to triangulate those three facts into a simple conclusion.” [Wilful explained.]

“So what is the story?” [Harbinger asked.]

“Please don’t mock me but the information I bought from Composure was on the Splinters: clues to the suspected location of one of their great space junk yards. A place where it is rumoured might still exist relic remains of one or more vessels from the Pilgrimage. You know how little they value historic things. I know it is preposterous but just imagine it: the potential - pure - natural genetic material that might still be aboard.” [Wilful explained letting his Shroud Suit glow with the red light of passion.]

“When anyone speaks of the ‘Prime Splinter Grave Yard’, it is hard not to mock.” [Harbinger confesses.]

“Just because it has never been found does not mean it doesn’t exist. As you know Splinter Space is hostile to all comers save a few of the egg laying Recyclers. They are the only source we have for information but say little about the ‘Graveyards’. Still they have never denied the myths existence and material occasionally appears that suggests the Splinter do hoard old Hulls perhaps as trophies of their victories as legend suggests.” [Wilful lectures.]

“Well I have searched many potential coordinates myself and all I ever found was ambushes and more ambushes.” [Harbinger admits.]

“I know that as well. I have followed your career closely Harbinger.” [Confessed Wilful.] “I follow all those that go out beyond the ‘Domain’ for there are many genetic treasures out there - as you know well - just waiting to be collected.”

“Do you think Reader took that unarmed immature ship into Splinter Space?” [Harbinger asks his suit going black with shock and dismay.]

“No I think he took it to the Recyclers following my lead. I don‘t have a firm coordinate what I have is the location of a Recycler Nest that I know to have recently acquired some very interesting pieces, pieces that they failed to appreciate and sold on as something else. You see the material had been recast perhaps by the Splinters long ago, but it is genuine by every analysis true pilgrim Hull.” [Wilful insisted.]

“Not like this I trust.” [Said Harbinger] He lifted up the recently bought pendant hanging around his big suits wide neck.

“Well I would hardly know without submitting your trinket to analysis but I would guess very much not like that.” [Wilful replied with a crude speaker laugh for one accounted so wise.]

“I can see where this is going you want me to chase after these Recyclers yes?” [Harbinger asked.] “Was Reader working for you?”

“It is true Paradox with the boon of Companion-ship can see further into the deeper truth.” [Wilful says.] “I confess I did - how can I put this - try to influence young Reader. I hoped to get access to some of the sealed files in the ‘House of Whispers’ you know how guarded old Composure is. I never imagined Reader would decide to look into the matter under his own cognisance never mind steal a ship to do so. I pray you can forgive my over enthusiasm if it has caused you distress - that was not the intention of my Vision.”

“I see.” [Harbinger replied to my senses less than happy.] “I think it is Composure you will owe some redress to when this is over. I will expect you to make good amends.”

“Trust me I will. I know you have ever championed proper behaviour but we all slip some time.” [Wilful said.]

“Some more than others but I am not a judge so let us forget about it for now.” [Harbinger said.] “Tell me what exactly do you think Reader will do if and when he finds these Egg layers?”

“What would you do?” [Wilful asks.] “In truth you have much more in common with Reader than I do you spring from the same House.”

[I sensed my Captains consternation deepening as he pondered the uncomfortable truth of that once more.]

“Give me those coordinates Wilful it would seem you have got your way we are leaving as soon as my pickets and shuttle pod are aboard. I assume you will be happy to come along. Just remember Wilful this is my ship, and on a ship a Captain’s word is the law don‘t break any of my laws - for if you do, you will regret it - out there you do as I say.” [Harbinger warned.]

“As you wish.” [Replied Wilful surprisingly easily.]

“Your part of my crew now whether you like it or not.” [Harbinger explained.] Even an Elder like you must earn your oxygen.”

“You require a ships doctor?” [Wilful asked.]

“Lets hope not, and don’t you dare genetically sample anything here.” [Harbinger warned.] “Can you cook?”

“Oh the indignity.” [Replied Wilful with another crude speaker laugh.]

[While they talked, I saw to all the necessary logistics involved just as Harbinger knew I would. We Jumped.]

[Back on the great Habitat when - a little later - Immaculate realised I had gone without dropping off his alcohol he reconsidered his earlier rash statement. Maybe he did need his ship after all. He checked to see if Harbinger had registered a commercial destination but we had made a leap into the dark.]
Last edited by Paranoid66 on Tue, 3. Mar 09, 12:18, edited 2 times in total.
Beyond 'X' Far future (Fanfic): BkI BkII BkIII

Never more than 98.8 percent sure about anything.
98.8 percent sure that anyone who is 100 percent certain needs re-educating for the sake of humanity.

Paranoid66
Posts: 2965
Joined: Tue, 19. Apr 05, 10:59
x3tc

Post by Paranoid66 » Thu, 19. Feb 09, 14:04

[[Four]]

[Location: The Many Truths, Red Nest, Recycler Space, Emissary Sphere]

[Proximity Alarms ring out as we exit right into a confused battle zone we take instantaneous side hits of no great magnitude clearly not intended for us. We instantly evaluate the threat - it is deemed minimal.]

“Next time remind me to send in a Jump Scout.” [Harbinger sends to me. I sense he fears it could have been a lot worse.]

[I slough off my Remoras and pop out my cannons opening my missile and torpedo tubes.]

“Open communications full spread.” [Commands Harbinger.]

[I do as directed.]

“Decease all your hostilities at once or I will obliterate every sad one of you.” [Harbinger broadcasts without preamble.]

“How exciting.” [Says Wilful I have generously patched his Virtual Stateroom into the action with both inner vision and sound but he is actually not linked to our communications.]

[After a few desultory shots at each other, the ugly Recycler Corvettes and low-grade drones fighting among each other cease firing and separate into two almost equal factions.]

“Go away. This is none of your business. Your Ship is unharmed this is Recycler Space not some egg less ‘Priests Domain’.” [A bold Recycler sends.]

“Everything within range of my guns is Paradox Space unless you really wish to argue about it.” [Harbinger replies coolly.]

“What do you want?” [Another Recycler demands.]

“That is obvious you degenerate egg stealer this ‘Creature’ is also here looking for the young Hull but ‘It’ is far too late as well. Why did you begin this fight Yoolu look what you have done?” [States the First Recycler.]

“You fired upon my forces first Silee.” [Accuses Yoolu.]

“Hah your eyes and brains are as defective as your rank reproductive system.” [Mocks Silee.]

[I notice they are all concealing their IFF identities and refuse to show any recognisable visuals not even an icon.] “They are all outlaws: dedicated Pirates or pure unprincipled law breaking Opportunists.” [I send to my Captain.]

“Be gone or prepare to be destroyed. You have no legitimate business here - you are illegal intruders. Splash one from each faction.” [Harbinger sends.]

[I almost negligently select two unpiloted drones and hit them with precise fast firing ‘Phased Paradox Low Bolts’ (I don’t even task a Beta Clone) the targets explode almost immediately.]

[We watch as the combatants turn and rush away seeking to get out of range a few activate jump drives to leap clean out not willing to take any chances. One ship out of pique leaves us a present. I am shocked when I register it as a ‘Sunburst Ion Nova’ Torpedo.]

[If it explodes in range, it could cripple - for a time - some of my systems where did these scum get as powerful a weapon as that. I order the other the top precaution of a stealth scout to suicide into it the ‘SIN’ is decommissioned very early. I mourn the Stealth Drone’s loss recording its name under KIA on my rolls of remembrance.]

“If only every battle was so easy.” [Harbinger says despite the painful loss.] “It sounds like we have arrived at the right place just at the wrong time. ‘MT’ Launch a Freight Drone I want the remains of that ‘SIN’ lets see if we can find out where that came from.”

“Where is the Red Nest?” [Wilful asks] “Looking at an active view screen in his Virtual Stateroom which I have extruded from a Virtual bulkhead and kindly filled with filtered ocular views and map scan data of the surrounding space for his entertainment.”

“The Red Nest will be back once they realise it is all clear. Most legitimate Recyclers prefer to avoid fighting they see no benefit in it.” [Harbinger explains.]

“Of course, they much prefer to clean up after other peoples debacles.” [Wilful recalls.]

“That they do.” [Replies Harbinger.]

“So we just wait?” [Wilful asks.]

“Indeed unless they are afraid of us as well.” [My Captain advises.]

“Let us hope not.” [States Wilful.]

[I deploy my upgraded gravity sensors. ‘Red Nest’ is well named it is another nebula and it is lit with a red light from a single source, and filled with a host of Asteroids as well. The source is one great big red glowing Anomaly that is no simple red dwarf. Whatever it is it is currently giving off a very peculiar radiation signal and a confusing interplay of wild gravity fluctuations. I move us a little further away just as it flashes and spits forth a series of angry sparks and flares like some hellish furnace.]

[As I watch through my tri oculars, the Anomaly spits out a great lump of solid glowing material that spews out a smoky vapour trail for a short time. Strangely, the object slows down with retarded momentum caused by some trick of the Anomalies spiking gravity. The lump also cools with unusual rapidity despite the insulation of the vacuum. They are not called Anomalies for no reason typically all these effects defy my understanding of physics and make a horrible mess of my sensor readings. The now oddly cool body looks just like any ordinary large Asteroid you might find elsewhere.]

[I draw my Captains attention to the puzzling object. Was this Anomaly the real ‘Red Nest’? The phenomena clearly fell into the category of a ‘Mass Producer’ a very rare Anomaly indeed. I had never seen one that looked so violently unstable before.]

“Amazing!” [Harbinger sends to me.] “We should have come here before. The Recyclers certainly kept this one quiet. No wonder they have a colony here. Funny I never thought the Egg Layers had anything of interest to me. I will have to reconsider my oversights in relation to that species. What a - beast - can you get a reading on that new Asteroid?”

“Negative Captain this area is blanketed with far too much interference. Maybe if the Anomaly settles later. As you know most of the strange phenomena that are categorised ‘Mass Producers’ tend to go through phases of activity and dormancy.” [I send.]

[I register a Jump event it is the Recyclers station. A huge Mining and construction Manufactory with its own shipbuilding wharf no simple habitat at all. Jumping in all around it is also is a series of surrounding powerful static defences. Although bulky and crude compared to Paradox technology the defences scan as more than capable of forcing me to retreat or suffer destruction. Why had such a potent and established fortress fled from a few measly Corvettes?]

“My, that is a surprise.” [Harbinger sends to me.] “What do you make of that?”

“A great puzzle.” [I send to my Captain.]

“See if they will grant us permission to dock.” [Harbinger sends.]

“What is going on?” [Asks Wilful cut out of our communications loop.]

[Guiding Telemetry incoming.]

“Take us in but keep our weapons online just in case.” [Harbinger sends.]

“Will somebody speak to me?” [Wilful complains.]

[We dock without incident.]

[All seven of us once again exit my body this time via an expanded umbilical to a rather old-fashioned airlock system. The Six Paradox once more in their Shroud Suits which are quite capable of acting in vacuum. I am surprised and a little alarmed at the size of our welcoming committee twelve Alpha Recyclers. Large creatures with a predatory aspect though several heads smaller than the bulky Shroud Suits they are still impressive. While still overall reptilian, they also look almost mechanical melded to hard shell cybernetics a strange way for any organic species to go in my opinion. The Recyclers carry brutish old-fashioned disrupter rifles that while looking impressive would in fact require a long period of sustained concentrated fire to damage a regenerative Shroud Suits organically sustained shield.]

“Be welcome Honoured Priests.” [Says one Recycler.] “I suppose you could call me Ore Breaker.”

“Blessed be your House and all who dwell within it Ore Breaker.” [Harbinger greets.]

[I monitor the situation impassively we are shown into a conference room. To facilitate our Shroud Suits six chairs are set aside. Within a Shroud Suit, a Paradox needs no other restive support.]

“I am glad to see you were not harmed by those miscreants. My apologies at our lack of assistance you must think us craven. Normally we would have seen such a paltry group off but somebody has recently been supplying a few of these low lives with large quantities of ‘Sunburst Ion Novas’. Two stations have already fallen to ‘SIN’ and been raped of all their resources - the fate of their crew unknown now it seems it is our turn.” [Ore Breaker explains.]

“Shocking, what will you do?” [Wilful asks to my Captain’s mild annoyance.]

“We are spreading the word and have begun an investigation. We are not a military facility so we will leave retaliation to the Claws of our Mercenary Navy they are due soon. In the meantime we will flee if we must to preserve ourselves from a potential grim fate.” [Said Ore Breaker.]

“You say only some have those dangerous torpedoes?” [Asks Harbinger.]

“Only some, but it gives all an advantage now that word has spread. All our local Pirates and Outlaws have grown bold and intimidating. They know we dare not risk confronting any lest we find out too late they are equipped with ‘SIN’ Torpedoes. I hope that this situation will soon be resolved but in the meantime, we must endure. You are following the trail blazed by your scout in his flight from peril?” [Ore Breaker asks.]

“Our Scout you speak of another Living Hull?” [Harbinger asked.]

“He contacted us via one of our sensor outstations. He wished to dock and speak with us in private but on his approach, our bandits intercepted your associate. He fled into the ‘Dark Fields’ left behind by old migrations of our wandering Anomaly.” [Ore Breaker explained.]

[I am shocked I have never heard of a ‘Mass Producer’ that has been proven to have moved that much - how remarkable!]

“The ‘Dark Fields’?” [Harbinger enquires.]

“A Dark Nebula of dust Particles large Asteroids and a great many rocks it can be a dangerous place. Both visual optics and scanners work poorly there and the whole site is a hazard to navigation. I do not think your large ship could negotiate that place alone safely; perhaps with a guide or slowly with many drones scouting ahead. There are I am informed a few ways wide enough - trails blasted out and harvested by rugged independent miners who risk death every day in search of a quick fortune.” [Ore Breaker lectures.]

“A quick fortune?” [Harbinger questions.]

“Occasional finds of richly loaded rocks or asteroids containing rare elements.” [Ore Breaker elaborates.] Still it is a dire and perilous maze long a favoured haunt of felons even before our recent difficulties. They lie in wait you see to steal the eggs of the unwary. You know some claim they even have some kind of hidden base in there. I have heard odd rumours but then places like the ‘Dark Fields’ always grow rumours as corrosion grows on a poor weld. As matters rest with this new alert few of our own are braving that area now.”

“Still I think your friend may be hiding there I believe he has difficulty with his jump capability.” [Ore Breaker explains.]

“I wouldn’t be surprised.” [Harbinger admits.]

“It must be a new class of Living Hull - that one - I did not recognise its lines.” [Admits Ore Breaker.]

“It is immature.” [Explains Wilful to Harbingers shock and rising rage.]

“Still that is immaterial.” [Harbinger interrupts.]

“Immaterial I suppose but fascinating I have long wondered what it must be like to wander in the belly of a great beast.” [Ore breaker says.]

[My Captain laughs at the imagery invoked.]

“Our ships do not have stomachs as such they feed on the solar winds, simple sunlight, and other local exotic particles. Her insides are between her bulkheads our Living Hull’s outside skin also graces internal walls. We are not swallowed thank the Three.” [Harbinger explains.]

“Still it is all very exotic to me and I admit a little icky.” [Ore Breaker Grins.]

“I suppose to a Recycler matters like an immature growing ship might seem unusual but it is just normal to us.” [Lied Wilful] “As to other matters - since we are here now - perhaps you could assist me with some business.”

“Do you need spare parts for use or trade?” [Ore Breaker asks surprised.]

“I feel a heartless old fool with my friend stranded in the dark, but I hate to waste a journey - I venture out so rarely these days! I am seeking a few odd bits for a silly hobby. Primitive non living space vehicles are a fascination of mine I like to tinker. I am something of a collector and amateur mechanic you understand. That is what my friend wished to see you about before he ran foul of your criminal elements. A fragment purchased here that proved perfect for recasting due to its composition. I am seeking the source of more of the same.” [Wilful Spirit admits.]

[I am reasonably impressed with this belated guile from Wilful but wonder will it be enough to allay suspicion or will these Recyclers realise what the cunning old Paradox is really seeking.]

“We are always open to business opportunities especially now that our mining is being so badly interrupted.” [Ore Breaker explains.]

“You mine the produce of that impressive Anomaly?” [Harbinger asks.]

“We do it…” [He trails off.] “It is a major source of revenue for us.”

“Would you like to see the specification of the part I speak of? I have reason to believe it passed through this facility. Perhaps it was recovered as a piece of salvage?” [Wilful suggests.]

“Well we are not called Recyclers without reason. We earn our revenue from many sources. Even now, salvage drones will be bringing in the Pirates wreckage. I hope you are not looking anything - too unusual - it is a big Sphere and we don‘t keep records of where everything we collect comes from. I fear if we did it would soon clog even our vast databases.” [Ore Breaker explains.]

[Recyclers often fence stolen goods that seems to me like the more likely reason for a failure to keep perfect salvage details.]

“Can you direct me to a possible guide for these ‘Dark Fields’ of yours?” [Harbinger asks.]

“Stoker, convey Harbinger to the Miners Freeport. If you can find anyone willing, you will find them there in the local drinking and smoking Dens may the ‘Emissary’ cast favour upon your venture Priest. Please quickly tell me though before you do go - is your ship capable of defeating ‘SIN’ armed Bandits of this nature - mostly flying corvettes?” [Ore Breaker asks.]

“Forewarned I think I should be able to deal with those torpedoes. Our Living Hulls are not quite as susceptible as other races systems. ‘SIN’ is not especially fast ordinance either and my vessel has many types of good point defences. Still I believe fortune favours the wise not the overly bold.” [Harbinger says.]

“I noticed you had no interest in culling our miscreants. While I can appreciate that no doubt as a Priest you value life I would advise you to think carefully about this in future Captain these people are heartless. They will see only weakness in compassion: spare one and ten more will come back to finish what that one began. Hesitate upon the trigger and you could lose everything.” [Ore Breaker advised.]

“I will contemplate your words.” [Returned Harbinger.]

[Stoker was not a talker he simply led and we followed until we arrived at our destination. There he followed us around as a bodyguard, a chaperone, or perhaps a spy while we did our business. It wasn’t difficult to find Recyclers with knowledge of the ‘Dark Fields’ not even individuals willing to talk at length about that region even to hulking alien strangers encased in living Shroud Suits.]

[Nonetheless, we soon received many hints that their cooperation would only go so far. Perhaps they were protecting their own staked out claims but I got the impression they all had something to hide because of shared sideward glances and occasional silences. Under the current conditions, no one was willing to venture to the ‘Dark Fields’ with us either and most advised that our large ship would be extremely disadvantaged there.]

[Still for the price of a few drinks, we had soon gathered much data: including a few crude charts: notably of a rather complex weaving main extraction route way. The ‘Funnel’ did not sound very promising. We were again warned of multiple perils: ‘it is not actually a fixed environment’ they told us. ‘You have to go slow even in a small craft due to wandering debris’. ‘Even our main passages constantly change the result of careless mining, and then there is the ever present threat of ambush especially on the way out’. Still not entirely disappointed with the lore gathered we retuned to my body. We found a despondent Wilful Spirit there already.]

“Well for me this is proving a wasted trip.” [Wilful complained.] “When I showed our friend what I was looking for he made great show of searching through his files but I received the impression he had no intention of telling me anything worth the effort. It was not Ore Breakers reactions either but the others around him - they are not quite so skilled in deception.”

“Do you suspect then that he knows what you are after?” [Harbinger asked.]

“In part at least.” [Wilful confessed.]

“He seemed guarded about the Anomaly as well.” [Harbinger notes.]

“That could be natural enough especially if it truly is their main source of income. All miners live in dread of others stealing their claims.” [Wilful said.] “Mining is a dangerous and fractious business.”

“So everybody here continually insist on telling us.” [Harbinger said with growing suspicion.]

“Well - to be honest I expected this attitude - but it is still frustrating.” [Wilful added.]

“Still with so much rich material here at hand - why are they pushing junk from out of this sector for the Splinter of all people? That is an even more risky venture.” [Harbinger said.]

“Greater profit margins, when you deal with Recyclers you find for them greed is almost always a motivating factor.” [Wilful lectured.]

“I wouldn’t generalise too much Wilful in my experience people of any race are not all the same. Racial stereotypes only take you so far.” [Harbinger warned.]

“What else could be going on? Are you suggesting the Graveyard is here?” [Wilful asked excitedly.]

“I don’t know my instinct tells me something isn’t right with this place. I am sure they are concealing one or more truths about that Anomaly and or, their working practices… Also I can’t decide if they are trying to entice us into that ‘Dark Field’ or scare us away from it.” [Harbinger explains.] “Speaking of tight mouths Wilful you need to speak less and listen more. Telling the Recycler our supposed scout is in an - immature - vessel!”

“I know I knew it was a mistake as soon as I said it. I was just trying to make conversation to get our host relaxed.” [Wilful admits.]

“Aye so you can pump him for information about your obsession with the ‘Graveyard’. If I cannot trust you abroad, I will keep you locked up. I will not let you risk my Vision and my ship.” [Harbinger warns.]

“You have my deepest apologies and contrition.” [Wilful begged.]

“Don’t disappoint me again or you will be floating home in your Shroud Suit.” [Harbinger warned.]

“’MT’ what do you think about all this?” [Harbinger asked]

“I do not like the sound of those ‘Dark Fields’ against small agile ships we could be seriously disadvantaged. Plus what good are point defences if you can’t lock on or don’t get enough time to track and fire.” [I complain.]

“I have been thinking about that. Why go in at all we could just send in scout drones and Remora if they find our quarry they can either chase or escort him out. I do not think these Recyclers realise how independently our drones can operate at need. I always heard they much prefer to slave theirs to their ships main computers with the exception of their salvage units. I do not trust these miners: we pretend our plan is to go in, but instead we stop short and merely use the remotes. We don’t tell Wilful either.” [Sends my Captain.]

“That is a good scheme. Trust has to be earned.” “In the meantime perhaps there is other intelligence to be gathered here. I will try to see what I can glean from the Recyclers local Core if you give me permission to hack secure files. Will those Pirates be back?”

“I don’t know I got the impression that Ore Breaker was saying they would though and that was why he was unimpressed that we didn’t splash them all. As to hacking their files, that is not a good idea: they may seem unsophisticated but trust me these Cybernetic Reptiles will know if you root about without permission. Let’s not flout their current good will.” [Harbinger sends.]

“Splash them all! I do not like killing sentient life.” [I send.]

“Nor do I but sometimes we have no choice.” [Harbinger sends.]

“I understand.” [I send.]
Last edited by Paranoid66 on Tue, 3. Mar 09, 12:19, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Paranoid66 » Thu, 19. Feb 09, 14:05

[[Five]]

[I watch Harbinger as he marches off to a private meditation chamber. Here he can slough off his Shroud Suit without fear of disgrace. Having guests aboard has its trials. As comfortable as a Shroud Suit is he enjoys stretching his modified body before curling up to nest and think. I retract myself as much as I am able to give him some space.]

[My attention is summoned by a sub system the analysis is complete I read over the data. Inner workings of the decommissioned torpedo retain traces of Splinter DNA not just Recycler. I interrupt my Captain to tell him the bad news.]

“So our Pirate friends are working with or for, or have a connection to the Splinter Raiders. I wonder I think I will go have a word with our new friend Ore Breaker.” [Harbinger decides.]

[I travel with my Captain and his two Acolytes. Ore Breaker seems happy enough to receive us in the same boardroom.]

“I have news.” [Harbinger explains.]

“You wish to speak of your associate in the ‘Dark Fields’?” [Questions Ore Breaker.]

“No about our Pirate friends. I collected the remains of a ‘SIN’ I destroyed, it has Splinter DNA upon it what do you make of that?” [Harbinger asks watching the Recycler closely.]

[I am no expert on Recyclers but to me Ore Breaker seems unsurprised.]

“Are you sure?” [He asks, I guess for the sake of appearance.]

“Without doubt the Splinter Raiders are connected with your problem here. For some reason I think you know why. I am guessing but I think you had some kind of deal with them but now they have turned on you, have I got that right?” [Harbinger asks.]

[Ore Breaker stared at us with his blind binocular vision.]

“I always heard you Paradox can keep a secret.” [Ore Breaker finally says.] We do not deal with the Splinter but they have an interest in us. Can you keep a secret Priest will you swear on what you believe to be holy?”

“We do not do such things but you have my word that unless your secret is an evil one I will gladly keep it - is that enough for you?” [Harbinger asks.]

“I only wish to protect my people and our livelihood. I do not know whom to turn to. I fear if this truth gets out and it may very soon - if just to my own - we will be shut down if for no other reason than to facilitate unhindered scientific study.” [Ore Breaker complains.] “But this is our home and has been for generations - it is unfair.”

“I have no desire to damage your Vision tell me your trouble perhaps we can help each other.” [Harbinger insists.]

“Mass Producing Anomalies have you ever wondered where all that Mass comes from you must have?” [Ore Breaker notes.] “Well I have reason to believe that our Anomaly is linked in some way to other regions possibly including: Splinter Space maybe the fabled ‘Prime Splinter Graveyard’. Like a wormhole, it must have two sides: the end here that spews out, and another end that wanders and sucks up material. For centuries, this Anomaly has been transporting matter and not just asteroids but also occasionally bits and pieces of wreckage. Often due we suspect to the way it moves these items they are melded and compacted together in to what appear to be otherwise semi normal but mineral rich asteroids and rocks.”

“We have found many things of worth in the Anomalies wake. [Breaker continued.] We have always taken care to disguise where our finds originate from for they are little treasures hard earned. It is no easy life here (not even with the aid of our cybernetic enhancements). Unfortunately recently one of our independents flouted our strict rules that all rare finds must be: declared, evaluated for risk, and sold through proper channels. She thought she could make a greater profit by going it alone and smuggling her finds out direct to dealers.]

[The Splinter are said not to care about their ‘Graveyards’ but it is not so. I have studied and I believe they hold great significance to them as sacred places true graveyards. Taking goods from these sites, they consider grave robbing. I am guessing word got back that we have been selling such stolen loot we became branded as ‘desecrators’ of their honoured dead. They do not wish to draw too much attention specifically to us lest more discover through that their hidden graveyards location and loot their sacred sites. This explains why they are hiding behind others and also not just attacking us but spreading the destruction around but it is us they ultimately wish to eradicate.” [Ore Breaker explained.]

“Amazing but I think you are making a big mistake. If what you say is true you should embrace the scientific community I think they would help to protect this site and be more than willing to employ your staff to continue digging up artefacts. I know I would gladly pay you to do so and I have just an amateur interest in these matters.” [Admitted Harbinger.]

“You do not think they would just shut us down as ignorant clods?” [Ore Breaker asked.]

“You have the local knowledge, the tools and the facilities sell yourself. You say it is dangerous sell that as well no Professor of Antiquities wants to risk being killed by Pirates or other hazards.” [Harbinger advised the Recycler.] “What do you think?”

“I am stunned but what about the Splinter?” [Ore Breaker Asked.]

“Perhaps when they hear it is a natural phenomena - not theft - they will consider the distribution of these grave goods as the ‘Emissary’s’ will rather than desecration. Besides let the scientific community secure the site. Let them give your Mercenary Navy a permanent contract for this place of special interest. This area is a wonder on many levels not only may there be incredible insights here in fragments found but also new clues to how some of the Anomalies operate.”

“I never thought of our situation like that.” [Ore Breaker confesses.]

“You have been too close to it.” [Harbinger explains.] “Often an outsider can see straight to the root of a solution as he has fewer prejudices. Now that this is settled can you think of any better way to aid me in retrieving my friend?”

“That is no great difficulty in truth our own people have long held the ‘Dark Fields’ secure. We have another station hidden in there plus a great many defences. Your friend is in our custody as is his ship.” [Admitted Ore Breaker now only a little reluctantly.] “Be at ease no great harm has come to either.”

“So you were trying to put me off from going there?” [Harbinger asked.]

“We would have strove to scare you away from that endeavour even with a non lethal fake ambush if necessary you have my apologies for all this deception.” [Said Ore Breaker.]

“We all have our secrets.” [Confessed Harbinger.]

“Yes we are all entitled to some secrets: like the truth of what lies underneath your Shroud Suits.” [Ore Breaker noted.]

“Indeed that is a good example friend.” [Harbinger replied.] “Would you like us to remain and assist with your defence until your Navy arrives?”

“That would be most generous.” [Stated Ore Breaker.]

“Well I think I may be here often in future and we Paradox are used to helping secure our own ports of call. I think between your static defences and my mobile offence if we cooperate we can see any of these Pirates off.” [Harbinger suggested.]

“I’ll drink to that.” [Ore Breaker agrees.] “I am tired of running away it is very bad for station morale.”

“One last thing do you know where these pirates come from? Sometimes attack is the best form of defence.” [Harbinger added.]

“I know of the general region yes but not the actual position of their bases. Before this trouble we mostly left each other alone. In fact they occasionally traded openly with us.” [Ore Breaker confesses.]

“Please tell me of this Pirate region?” [Harbinger asked.]

[I listened in as Ore Breaker revealed what he knew about the ‘Fools Maze’ another dark nebula of dust particles and Asteroids. Recycler space seemed rich in peril and resources.]

“Interesting, you seem to be saying it is a more open warren than your own ‘Dark Fields’?” [Harbinger asked.]

“So I have been told, but it is still deadly to trespassers.” [Ore Breaker advised.]

“We shall see. These Pirates of yours are fractious?” [Harbinger asked remembering his witnessed quarrel.]

“There are two Clans each according to rumour has its own hidden base they squabble often, but usually just short lived skirmishes (drone against drone action) I think they like to probe at each other testing for weakness but have yet to find any. They seem equally matched.” [Ore Breaker returns.]

“Unless both sides are dealing with the Splinter I can’t see that lasting long.” [Harbinger added.]

“I never thought of that.” [Admits Ore Breaker.]

“If I show you my optical scan data can you tell me which faction the ship belonged to that fired the ‘SIN’?” [Harbinger asked.]

“Possibly I would need to see the file first.” [Advised Ore Breaker.]

“Can I use this Boardroom terminal?” [Asks Harbinger.]

“Of course.” [Says Ore Breaker.]

[I downloaded the necessary file into the old style computer.]

“Yes I know that ship that is Stunted the traitorous runt. He belongs to the ‘Fell Host’ the other Clan is known as the ‘Broken Nest’.” [Ore Breaker explained.]

“You say you had past dealings do you have visuals of these Pirate Clans ships on archived files?” [Harbinger asks.]

Ore Breaker extrudes a connector from his cybernetic outer body shell and interfaces directly to the system throwing up a series of images and labelling them with one of the two Clan names.

“I have been keeping this data for the Navy.” [Ore Breaker said.]

[I uploaded a copy with Ore Breakers permission.]

[A little later back at my body, Harbinger and I initiate a council of war. We have all the data we need to begin planning a scout mission then a full-blown punitive raid of our own. Leaving port, I dispatch a Jump Scout to a coordinate well outside the Pirates main zone of occupation. Satisfied it is empty we jump in after it. Now in the pirate’s local space we dispatch our stealthy scout drones into the ‘Fools Maze’.]

[After much careful searching we located our first item of traffic eventually we find a ship that we know belongs to the ‘Fell Host’ slowly we narrow in on our enemy. Finally, a scout passes out of the darkness into a cleared space. We see a large asteroid almost a small planetoid obviously converted into a Pirate Base.]

[Once more, we will have to sacrifice a scout. We reluctantly use the stealthy drone to light up our target. I activate a full salvo of four Jump Torpedoes. I also have an idea about how to get around these sacrifices in future: Modified Stealth Scouts: Drones designed to be capable of dropping a small disposable target satellite before running from incoming. A part of me begins drawing up schematics.]

“This is my decision let it be no stain on your conscience.” [Said Harbinger taking full executive control he fires.]

[I watch my ordinance as they exit my tubes, jump then emerge in the Maze to fall swiftly upon their target. The Pirate Base has little defence being only lightly shielded we guess it relied entirely on: secrecy, its outer pickets, plus (in this instance) too slow to react point defence turrets. The station killers crack it apart like a fragile eggshell hit with a hammer. An eruption of dreadful energy eradicates my signal and my scout. We jump back to the ‘Red Nest’ in subdued victory feeling a little numb. Amusingly to his later disgust Wilful, is oblivious about the whole exercise.]

[Ore Breaker upon hearing our news is overjoyed and promises we can have free pick of ten objects from among their current store of Anomaly looted booty ‘small recompense for your great service’. We agree to take this prize but it feels a little like unclean blood money. To our shock however not having been told the whole story and while we were absent Ore Breaker tells us he has released both Reader and my child. Annoyingly the Recyclers even assisted them by interfacing a mechanical secondary jump drive - doing some basic patchwork repairs - and presenting him with some equipment including light weaponry. We have no option but to thank our new friend for his kindness to our colleague. Still it is a heavy price to pay for a little duplicity and mistrust.]

[In a quick conference, my Captain and I decided our best option now looks like Swimmer Space only there can our quarry properly repair his organic systems rather than just add on poorly interfaced ugly mechanical solutions. When we tell Wilful our decision, he begs to stay behind fascinated by the ‘Red Nest’ and its odd treasures. The Paradox geneticist is still hopeful of finding rare genetic material; we happily agree to abandon him. Just in case of more trouble, however we also agree to wait one more day until the arrival of the Recyclers Mercenary Navy. Nothing sinister occurs so we jump on to the ‘Dancing Spheres’ home to the Swimmers most prestigious and well-known shipyard. We are not discouraged yet for we leave behind new saved friends and newly made dead enemies that seems like a good way to travel.]
Last edited by Paranoid66 on Tue, 3. Mar 09, 12:20, edited 2 times in total.
Beyond 'X' Far future (Fanfic): BkI BkII BkIII

Never more than 98.8 percent sure about anything.
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Paranoid66
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Post by Paranoid66 » Thu, 19. Feb 09, 14:05

[[Six]]

[Location: Many Truths, Dancing Spheres, Swimmer Space, Emissary Sphere.]

[According to my databases, the largest of the Swimmer living enclosed Sea Spheres are about a tenth of the estimated size of a typical if legendary ‘X’ planet. Classed as Anomalies they are living creatures though vast of proportion and improbable of aspect. Jelly like their outer body generates an internal and external shield that grows in strength as they do. In the largest, they are utterly impregnable to any known assault. While filled with truly staggering quantities of salt water although not in truth, as many once believed all the way down to the core.]

[A honeycomb of internal organs is theorised to make up the core that is in fact the mysterious bulk of the beings mass. The ocean itself is sandwiched between an inner and outer layer like fruit over a large pip and under an outer rind.]

[Among many diverse space side growths of unknown function are certain slightly protruding nodules: tiny by comparison to the spheres overall dimensions but capable of engulfing capital ships with ease. These strange orifices give access to valves that constantly open and close drain and refill with water in a gentle timed sequence without fail. The Swimmers once used these as natural entry and exit points for their initial explorations.]

[Many claim the organic hatches are certain proof that these creatures are the product of genetic engineering (creation by design rather than natural chance) others claim it is just a coincidence of the beings giant nature: no different to the perception of any orifice in a normal sized entity to say an encroaching virus. Now however, most people just jump straight in to one of the warp satellite beacon marked commercial entry points or to some other location mapped by a left behind warp satellite of their own.]

[From a foreign religious perspective, many Swimmers rather illogically believe the ‘Emissary’ somehow made the Sea Spheres specifically for them as new homes in this universe.]

“They never cease to amaze.” [Admits my Captain as we approach the greatest of the five Sea Spheres here; the astounding ‘Benevolence Orb’.] “You know it is the largest single recognised form of life ever encountered. It puts all our foolish desires into perspective somehow even better than the vast dimensions of space itself because we can relate to ‘Benevolence Orb’ as an animal kindred spirit.”

[Although we plan to make a point-to-point jump inside we have co-ordinates and entry data from a warp satellite we keep inside (this not being our first visit) nonetheless we couldn’t resist looking on ‘Benevolence’ from the outside first - knowing that once within all perspective will be lost - you are simply inside what seems like a watery nebula.]

[I jump again; as we emerge, it causes a globally expanding ripple. The water feels odd against my hull a little claustrophobic at first but its touch is also strangely pleasant. Our movement is sluggish compared to free space but somehow more graceful. We are far out from any major population centres in a region rarely travelled but we can see beacons glowing in the distance and the lights of distant traffic. I activate my green and red starboard and port beacons. I expose my search lamps to probe the depths. There is light above in the shallows, the upper inner wall of ‘Benevolence’ glows constantly with a fierce life giving bioluminescent fire that simulates an endless day. However, while this illumination penetrates core ward it is soon lost in the furthest depths there it grows dark.]

[Most of my weapons are sheaved: beyond natural predators some of monstrous proportion the Sea Spheres are peaceful places of tranquillity - long held neutral from all disputes. Only the venturesome Swimmers out in the even wider sea of stars are renegades. Although powerful drone craft secure these oceans from unwanted intruders they are rarely needed.]

[I take a heading for the ‘Crimson Coral Shipyard’, as famous for its glowing beauty as its produce. After a time we are hailed by a Pilot ship, it escorts us towards our destination. It is not alone Swimmer pleasure craft flit in some curious at our exotic lines and strangely coloured hull others are old friends. All Swimmer craft have an aquatic look about them and have green in places scintillating hides. Through my hull, I can feel these also Living Hull ships call to each other in clicks and odd sonic wails that are both a little eerie and somehow relaxing. With all these onlookers, we arrive at our destination typically as if the focus of a parade or the leader in a regatta: it feels both welcoming and humbling.]

[Linking into the Shipyard I check through the registry of berthed ships seeking for the ‘Continuity of Introspection’ under some other name. However, all the craft have Swimmer owners and make poor candidates - we dock.]

“Reeskoo it gladdens my many hearts to see you looking in such err, such good health.” [Harbinger sends jokingly.]

“Harbinger I can hardly say the same. I suppose that Shroud Suit looks healthy enough if that is any measure of your inner condition?” [Sends Reeskoo, gently mocking his friend’s concealment in return.]

“As you can see I have increased somewhat in mass it enables me to do several things at once. We have agreed to assist your ‘Maker’s Guild’ in force growing a new Nursery Shipyard a remarkable project.” [Reeskoo explains.]

“I did wonder about all those mighty tentacles I thought perhaps you had joined the Swimmer Heavy Marines. [Joked Harbinger.] “The ‘Maker’s Guild’ approached you, you are right that is remarkable. I never would have believed that closeted institution of paranoids would sanction such a thing. If you think I am reticent, wait until you meet that lot if you ever do even in a Shroud Suit. I imagine they may deign to deal with you virtually and even then only via a third party messenger.”

“Desperation makes for odd alliances and yes they do seem just a little bit shy. I think they fear the loss of their monopoly if they are absent from production for too long though. Speaking of odd alliances, I hear you have been making common cause with some Recyclers at ‘Red Nest’.” [Sends Reeskoo.]

“Who told you that?” [Harbinger sends shocked at the speed of this gossip.]

”We have warp satellites too and an endless hunger for news from beyond our placid sphere. Much gossip centres on the pilfering of your immature Pocket Battleship among those involved in Living Hull technology here. Trust me many are following these developments with interest.” [Reeskoo sends.]

“So much for the quiet life fame is a burden.” [Harbinger sends.]

“So I am told. I am afraid we have not seen the fish you are looking for. If I had, I would have contacted you. Still I have a suggestion that might be of assistance if you are willing to warp over and are prepared to get wet along with your attendants of course.” [Reeskoo sends - along with precise coordinates of a warp site.]

“Give me three and I will be with you.” [Harbinger sends in reply.]

[We arrive in a flooded hanger. Reeskoo half jets half rolls over the floor to greet us like some mythic monster of nightmare. He dwarfs my Captain and his Acolytes even in their Shroud Suits. Reeskoo is holding various huge bits of apparatus up along with a small transit pod in various truly mighty tentacles. I feel Harbingers amusement at the Swimmers obvious vanity and attempt to impress with his biological upgrade.]

“Primitive but reasonably effective.” [Sends Harbinger via an intimate line of sight channel.]” However you know size isn’t everything.”

[Reeskoo replies with a rumble of simulated Paradox laughter.]

“You are impossible Harbinger what must I do to shock that reserve of yours.” [Sends the famous old grower engineer.]

“Please put all that stuff down before you accidentally drop something on us.” [Sends Harbinger.] “Shock me instead with the usefulness of your suggestion.”

“Have you heard of Tleeboosuu?” [Reeskoo sends.]

“Is that a person or a place.” [Harbinger sends joking.]

“So you have then. Well what you may not know is that he has had a big falling out with ‘Crimson Coral’ and has set up his own smaller facility right out in the open Sea of Stars at a place called ‘Weeping Sun’. Well we have been trying to keep it quiet. I fear he has fallen in with a rough lot too: Swimmer Renegade Mercenaries that have gotten involved in some kind of dispute between two small Independent Sea Sphere colonies in that out of the way region. Apparently, they are having a jolly little war out there. I think you should go there because in certain quarters it is well known that Tleeboosuu is servicing Living Hulls and not asking any awkward questions.” [Reeskoo sends.] “However if you do go you must promise me not to harm the sprat he is just I’m sure going through an adolescent adventurous phase.”

“‘Weeping Sun’ - I’ve never heard of it - where is it?” [Harbinger sends.]

“I believe you Paradox call the region ‘Hyades’ it is not so far from your own space but beyond the Sentry Gap.” [Reeskoo sends.]

“‘The Hyades’ - of course - actually I have heard of those two rather small Sea Spheres after all: one is called ‘Opal Prime’ the other ‘Opal Junior’. ‘Opal Junior’ was a purposely founded subject colony of ‘Opal Prime’ paying taxes and so on to their parent then after some political dispute ‘Opal Junior’ declared herself independent, and they have been squabbling ever since.” [Harbinger sends.]

“Yes that is the pair well it has gotten ugly with both sides using Swimmer Renegade Mercenaries and I have heard some gossip that others may be involved too - you know how it is - for some there is always profit to be made in a limited conflict.” [Reeskoo sends.]

“By the Three.” [Harbinger replied after accessing through to the Paradox Central Core and finding a warning advisory against journeying to ‘Hyades’.] “Chasing after Reader is sending my Vision into ever deeper peril. I think I will restock some of my munitions here before I go.”

[Ironically, the peaceful ‘Benevolence Orb’ is also famous for its weapon’s manufactories: here if you are an ally you can easily buy Remora Drones, Jump Torpedoes, Swimmer High Bolts and the incredibly expensive but reusable much feared by any Swimmer foes Ion Storm Pulse Generator Jump Mine.]

“I’m sorry to burden you with bad news but I am sure that is a likely place to find ‘Continuity of Introspection’. I was thinking about contacting you, but I did not want to broadcast Tleeboosuu’s infamy he is in enough trouble as it is. Perhaps if you get the chance you can talk some sense into him.” [Reeskoo sends.]

“I can try, I prefer to talk rather than fight despite my reputation. Do you know which ‘Opal’ he is working for?” [Harbinger sends.]

“I believe it is ‘Opal Junior’ not surprising really since they are the - rebel - faction.” [Reeskoo sends.]

“So he is fond of splitters he should love Reader then. I’ll do my best to extricate Tleeboosuu from his own stupidity.” [Harbinger sends.]

“You are a good err Paradox.” [Reeskoo sends.] “There are few others I would have trusted with this information. Young Tlee is dear to me. If I didn‘t have so much to do I would ask to come along but with the ‘Maker’s Guild’ about to descend on us it is impossible.”

“Then I will just have to represent your interests.” [Harbinger sends.]

Reeskoo swung one of his tentacles out to collect something that he waved at Harbinger it was a carved coral model of a Swimmer ship.

“Please take this it will prove you are a true friend of mine and can be trusted.” [Reeskoo sends.]

Harbinger reaching out with a manipulation field, gently takes the object and floats it over to touch with then merge into his Shroud Suit.

“Well that is that, now I must return to my work and you must get about your quest. The ‘Lady of the Waters’ favour your endeavour Harbinger.” [Reeskoo sends then turns away and rolls towards a semi grown proto hull on his massive tentacles.]
Last edited by Paranoid66 on Tue, 3. Mar 09, 12:22, edited 2 times in total.
Beyond 'X' Far future (Fanfic): BkI BkII BkIII

Never more than 98.8 percent sure about anything.
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Joined: Tue, 19. Apr 05, 10:59
x3tc

Post by Paranoid66 » Thu, 19. Feb 09, 14:06

[[Seven]]

[After doing some equipping and raiding some Cores for more data, we are ready to go. I am mildly disappointed, as I would have liked to visit longer. I hope the two younger Sea Spheres of the ‘Hyades’ will prove equally distracting.]

[Before we leave, I also take in some sustenance via the shipyards dedicated feeder emitters. I have not properly basked in a while and I am happy to recharge my jump energy stores. I also take in and store some extra bio mass in case I need to do any fast regenerate repairs. To my delight I don‘t even have to further process the material as the Swimmers have been preparing some of their systems to work with the ‘Maker’s Guild’ on their shipyard project. In fact, they are delighted to have me test the quality of their first efforts. I find it more than acceptable it is clear the Swimmers are keen to prove their proficiency to their rival Living Hull makers.]

[For your enlightenment, the differences in Swimmer and Paradox Hulls are subtle due to some cross fertilisation of ideas since the Pilgrimage. In essence, though Swimmer hulls operate better in water we operate better in space. Our naked hulls are more resistant to radiation and heat damage including energy weapon strikes while Swimmer hulls are more resistant to Ion attacks and hard strikes by such weapons as mass drivers.]

[We generate slightly weaker shields but they regenerate faster. Our biological jump engines are faster but use more power. We grow quicker, are more mutable of overall shape and more prone to speeded up natural evolution but also more susceptible to growing pain glitches. Far fewer of our Hulls reproduce though that statistic is a product of the current cultural attitude by Paradox Priest Captains caused possibly by propaganda from the ‘Maker’s Guild’ not material difference in our ability to accept this upgrade.]

[Lastly, we bond for life to a genetic family House imprint. Swimmer hulls only bond temporarily to their registered pilot and can change masters as a result. Since we bond for life, our ties are stronger we are more loyal: though the last point may just be my bias speaking.]

[Due to the short range of our jump scouts, it takes four jumps to breach the ‘Sentry Gap’. We arrive far away from any known inhabited region. The ‘Weeping Sun’ we discover is a beautiful if somewhat cold to our perception blue star that dominates the region. As ever, we take every normal precaution with our entry point. With Stealth Scout Drones ranging far ahead, we make our way towards ‘Opal Junior’ approaching via the far side relative to ‘Opal Primes’ position. Our scouts encounter wings of Recycler Drones then to our shock a Recycler Dreadnaught although it is an outdated design (patched together in places) it still looks formidable. The Dreadnaught has a pulsing IFF beacon that identifies it as the Headquarters of the Black Diamond Mercenaries. The group said to be serviced by Tleeboosuu at his ’Newport’ Living Hull wharf.]

[I activate my IFF and approach openly. The Dreadnaught hails us.]

“‘Many Truths’ what is your business in this sector.” [Sends the Renegade Swimmer Mercenaries.]

“We are bearing private messages from the Most Honoured Reeskoo of ‘Benevolence Orb’ to his friend Tleeboosuu of the Swimmers.” [Harbinger sends.]

“Please hold your position while we scan your ship and confirm your identity.” [Sends the Renegade Swimmer Mercenaries.]

[We laugh knowing the Swimmer’s Recycler systems have no chance of penetrating our Paradox scanner shrouding something the Mercenaries must also know.]

“You may continue with your journey but are advised against any aggressive action. Be warned any active tracking will be considered hostility as will any scan of our forces or local facilities.” [Sends the Mercenaries.]

“Acknowledged.” [Harbinger sends.]

[I skirt around the Dreadnaught beyond my estimation of its effective energy weapons range. We approach ‘Newport’ passing some Recycler made static defences and flyby drone flights. We are surprised by the size and sophistication of Tleeboosuu‘s facility though it is perhaps less than one tenth the size of ‘Crimson Coral’. We Dock. Tleeboosuu hails Harbinger.]

“What is this about why is Reeskoo sending me a Paradox emissary?” [Tleeboosuu sends.]

“Greetings.” [Sends Harbinger.] “We would speak with you in private our business being personal.”

“If you are here to kidnap me like some runaway infant you will be sadly disappointed I am well protected here.” [Sends Tleeboosuu.]

“We intend no injury or subjugation of your person. I am a Paradox Priest not a mercenary or a felon.” [Harbinger sends feigning affront.]

“I know all you Paradox claim to be Priests and those that range abroad are meddlesome as well.” [Tleeboosuu sends.]

“My reputation is public record - if you must judge me - judge me by that.” [Harbinger sends.]

Silence.

“So be it Warrior Priest in truth I think I know why you are here. You may warp aboard prepare to accept coordinates.” [Tleeboosuu sends.]

[We arrive in a beautiful flooded grotto alive with bright living corals and darting small fish. Tleeboosuu is a more moderately sized Swimmer although he still has many rather oversized tentacles. Six well-armed Recycler made sentry drones that are all weapon and small drive unit fixate upon us with menaces.]

“You will forgive I trust my paranoia but I find myself at war.” [Confessed Tleeboosuu.]

“Do you speak of ‘Opal Prime’ or your ‘Crimson Coral’?” [Sends Harbinger via a secure channel.]

“‘Opal Prime’ of course ‘Crimson Coral’ and I just disagree. They do not believe in physical intervention in these situations as I do.” [Sends Tleeboosuu.]

“A Swimmer of action I can appreciate that. You are firmly allied then with ‘Opal Junior’ you support their claims to autonomy?” [Harbinger Sends.]

“Opal Pearl’ only ‘Prime’ calls us insultingly ‘Junior’ . All beings have a right to be free.” [Sends Tleeboosuu.] ”What do you think of that young Acolyte.”

“We -freely - serve.” [Sends First Among Equals.]

“How tragic.” [Sends Tleeboosuu.] “You have been conditioned to know no better.”

“I have a gift from Reeskoo.” [Harbinger sends. He releases the Coral model and using a manipulator field sends it floating over to Tleeboosuu. The Swimmer collects and studies the small object.]

“So you know Reeskoo well, that means if you are not here to drag me home I suppose you are here to convince me to return with rational debate. Do Priests do rational debate?” [Sends Tleeboosuu rather insultingly.]

“We like to think so.” [Sends Harbinger beginning to lose his patience a little.]

“Is that an answer or an evasion? Never mind, you are also looking for your ships child I suppose. I have some bad news your runaway and his ship have been captured by Prime and are being held as hostages what do you think of that?” [Tleeboosuu sends.]

“I think in that case I am talking to the wrong side.” [Harbinger sends beginning to turn away.]

“That is dangerous talk Priest.” [Tleeboosuu sends.]

[My Captain turns around to face the discourteous Swimmer.]

“Not as dangerous as thinking you can play games with me young Swimmer.” [Sends Harbinger.]

“I could kill you right now.” [Sends Tleeboosuu.]

“You could try but you would fail and only bring death and destruction to your allies and yourself.” [Harbinger sends unmoved.]

“Are those Shroud Suits so impregnable?” [Tleeboosuu sends.]

“We are not without our defences. However all bluster aside - trust me - you do not want me and mine as enemies.” [Harbinger sends.]

“That is exactly the point ‘Opal Prime’ will seek to use you against us.” [Tleeboosuu sends.]

“I think if you study my history you will see that I am not a Paradox that is easily used by anyone.” [Harbinger sends.]

“My allies are worried they don’t want any Paradox involvement that was why I sent your young friend away without assisting him. Unfortunately, instead of leaving he decided to try to betray me. Foolishly he believed if ‘Prime’ gained control of my wharf they would aid him but they do not trust him either. Now I hear Reader is languishing in a detention cell - Ironic really - ‘Prime’ believe they have caught a spy and I have not seen fit to argue otherwise not that it would do any good even if I did.” [Tleeboosuu sends.]

“That is a lot of intelligence from a hostile camp.” [Harbinger sends.]

“We have many sympathisers among the people of that other Sea Sphere. Only the Imperious Rulers of ‘Prime’ are truly against us the King and his court. Why do you think those Swimmers came so far from their own Space they are degenerates who wish to rule over slavish subjects. Tyrants of the worst sort: sharks among minnows and for a very long time (to our disgrace) all my people have simply let them have their own way.” [Tleeboosuu sends.]

“Well they are entitled to their Vision too. My people also believe it is healthy to agree to disagree - diversity is a blessing not a curse.” [Harbinger sends.]

“Not when it encroaches upon others well being.” [Tleeboosuu sends.]

“How do you judge that young Swimmer?” [Harbinger asks.]

“I measure it by the tally of individual peoples suffering and the people of both ‘Prime’ and ‘Pearl’ have suffered, I can quote you endless examples.” [Tleeboosuu sends.]

[I sense my Captain has a grudging admiration for that reply. I can feel him re-evaluating the young Swimmer.]

“I will need to confirm your facts and consider my actions. I wish to be no ones enemy. However, I will protect what is mine with every means at my disposal and what is mine includes the ‘Continuity of Introspection’ until that ship is returned to my friend the Venerable Elder Priest Composure.” [Harbinger sends.]

“Under these circumstances we should be natural allies.” [Tleeboosuu sends.]

“Ware Swimmer like I have already advised you I am not easily used.” [Harbinger sends.]

“Feel free to talk with ‘Prime’ we maintain - open - communications, we are not barbarians we know in the end only an accommodation will solve our differences. The temporary use of force is just unavoidable. However Harbinger, do not seek to betray us like Reader tried. You may be powerful but you are still only one ship. We have many ships and we have a faith that makes us stronger than perhaps you might imagine if you judge us merely by the comparison of a cold statistical analysis.” [Tleeboosuu sends.]

“What do you think of him?” [Harbinger sends to me.]

“He is rash and rude but has promise - he has a clear Vision.” [I send.]

“As ever our thoughts are almost identical. He would make a good Paradox Priest.” [Harbinger sends.]

[We made the required - open - warp satellite connection to ‘Opal Prime’ aware we were being monitored - deeming it less complicated that way.]

“What do you want Paradox.” [Sends the forth ‘Opal Prime’ Swimmer representative we have been past along to. This one was supposedly a Senior Diplomatic Officer of the Royal Court although from his attitude it would be easy to believe the creature did not know what the word diplomacy meant.]

“I want to extradite a criminal you are holding and repossess property stolen from the Paradox Elder Priest Composure of the ‘Monastic Extents’ as in one Living Hull ship registered with the Paradox Central Core as ‘Continuity of Introspection’.” [Sends Harbinger.]

“Is that feeble back story the best you can come up with? We know this Reader is working for ‘Opal Junior’ we know he is a spy. Keeping up this pretence will only exacerbate the deepening crisis here.” [Sends the Diplomat.]

“I fear it is you that are compounding your errors by insulting me and detaining Paradox property. I am a true Priest of the ‘Domain’ you are holding Elder Priest Composure’s Acolyte a foolish and criminal youth, but one who belongs to our jurisdiction not yours. I care nothing for your parochial squabbles - at the moment - however, if you do not return what you have no business holding by force the Paradox will have no choice but to consider this an act of aggression and respond in kind. Trust me you will not like the results of that. We do not abandon our family members or shirk from hard but necessary choices.” [Sends Harbinger.]

“Reader is a criminal a self confessed associate of anti Royalist terrorists. We have every right to detain him for crimes against us. He trespassed upon our sovereign territory with nefarious intent to do us harm. We also know you are consorting with the Rebels be careful or you will also find yourself under the proscription of our Majesties just laws.” [Sends the Diplomat.]

“Swimmer there is little profit and great risk in the attitude you are taking. You are not dealing with a serf lately liberated from your yoke now; you are speaking to a full member of the Paradox ‘Council of Equals’. I am not impressed with your threats. Your master is King only of a backwater region of little consequence that borders upon our vast ‘Domain’ if you think the Sentry Gap will be any barrier to our retribution you are sadly mistaken. Nor will a few Recycler armed Swimmer Renegade mercenaries stay our wrath.” [Sends Harbinger.]

“It is you that is mistaken. We are not fools we know all about your fractious Council and your internal divisions. You speak only for yourself and at most one or two others. There is no great Armada to back up your words they are empty as a poisoned sea.” [Sends the Diplomat.]

“You err we are quite capable and willing to make common cause against external insult. Check your history files again or update your library - look up ‘Genus Ten’ or the ‘Arcane Massacre’. Once more I demand the extradition of Reader and the return of the property he stole I will be logging this formal request with the Paradox Central Core and the ‘Council of Equals’. You have three days to comply with my demands if during that time any harm comes to either Reader or the ‘Continuity of Introspection’ all of ‘Opal Prime’ will be held accountable.” [Harbinger sends before terminating the connection not even waiting for a reply.]

[My Captain is hailed by Tleeboosuu.]

“Boldly bluffed Harbinger but what will you do when they ignore your ultimatum.” [Tleeboosuu sends.]

“I do not bluff Tleeboosuu.” [Harbinger sends.] “I will do all that I have said. I do not think they will wait the three days not when they read about those examples I gave them they are both apt occasions when Paradox were held captive by foreign powers. The Paradox do not unite against individuals or factions but we will quickly congregate against any Foreign Power that harms one of our own without proper cause. Fear of a Grand Paradox Intervention will gnaw at your foes bones.”

“My guess is they will try and settle the matter via an all out attack very soon. They will seek to crush your faction then release Reader and ’Continuity’ thus removing my people from the equation. It is their only choice now. If they release Reader before a victory they will seem weak before all their citizenry and a tyrant cannot afford to show weakness. At the same time they dare not commence hostilities with the Paradox. This area could easily end up being a new ‘Protectorate of the Domain’ given its position.” [Harbinger warned.]

“You would not?” [Tleeboosuu sends.]

“We would if we are forced to come here in mass. My people will expect some recompense for the effort and expense. I see little of value here other than new territory, the Spheres, and you Swimmers. You would end up our servants we have several Protectorates of this nature on our borders. For reasons of security, these client states though not harshly treated are also not entirely free either. Each is under the authority of various powerful Priest Houses. These are the results of our past border disputes. It is recorded in our scriptures that we have never lost a war as a nation - only skirmishes as individuals.” [Harbinger sends.]

“Will you stand with us?” [Tleeboosuu sends.]

“I cannot and maintain the position I have accepted I must remain neutral unless I am attacked first.” [Harbinger sends.]

“I cannot decide if I should bless or curse you for this days work.” [Tleeboosuu sends.]

“The wise warrior makes good use of all the intelligence he is given.” [Harbinger sends.]

“Do you think Tleeboosuu will understand the meaning of your remark?” [I send.]

“That Swimmer is no fool it might take a little introspection but I am confident he will see the advantage in playing up the Paradox peril to the Royalists.” [Harbinger sends.] “Nonetheless tyrannies are not famed for their Vision it may still come down to a battle.”

“What would you have me do now?” [I send.]

“Watch this section of space closely. We will go on a patrol as near to ‘Opal Primes’ territory as we dare without causing provocation. I fear when the Royalists give into our demands it will be in letter only not spirit. They will deliberately release our quarry in a way that he has a good chance of escaping us - once more - I think I erred in trying to claim him as a criminal. No doubt it will delight them to help Reader flee our justice.” [Harbinger sends.]

[After I bring Harbinger onboard, we asked for and gain permission to depart. Leaving we are sure Tleeboosuu and the ‘Opal Pearl’ leadership in frantic negotiations with ‘Opal Prime’ ostensibly to prevent a disastrous Paradox annexation. Clearly losing one Colony was better than losing your entire national autonomy. I wonder what sort of face saving deal they can come up with that can satisfy both camps: some kind of trade agreements maybe a state marriage or mutual defensive alliance. I looked forward to finding out.]

[We are hailed by Tleeboosuu.]

“Bad news I’m afraid ‘Opal Prime’ are broadcasting that the Paradox spy known as Reader has escaped custody with the help of a group of filthy infiltrators. Of course these miscreants have been caught and will be publicly executed for their crimes. Thus they have let Reader go but can still look strong and spread terror to the oppressed. I feel sorry for the poor victims of this latest atrocity - no doubt petty criminals perhaps debtors who couldn’t afford the Kings taxes. Anyway according to the warp news reports the Paradox Spy managed to sneak aboard his craft and jumped clean out of the ‘Weeping Sun’ sector.” [Sends Tleeboosuu.]

“That is disappointing.” [Harbinger sends.]

“It was a good effort I almost thought I had them on their knees during our negotiations. I blame the Arch Chancellor he is a wily fish.” [Tleeboosuu sends.] “Our war of independence continues and you I imagine are leaving us.”

“Indeed we must chase after our own felon. I regret I could not be of more help this time but I may return. I do not like what I am seeing in relation to ‘Opal Prime’. Next time I might bring a few friends to tip the balance in your favour Tleeboosuu.” [Harbinger sends.]

“A few friends would be welcome but too many would be resisted.” [Tleeboosuu sends.]

“Fear not Swimmer I am coming to think that ‘Opal Pearl’ deserves her freedom ‘Emissary‘ bless and keep you safe farewell!” [Harbinger sends.]

“What is our destination?” [I send.]

“I think we should see our Trojan Professor friend maybe he will have an idea how we can locate our runaway in the vastness of the ‘ES’.” [Harbinger sends.]

[I set a course for ‘Hells Maw’ and the Fortress Laboratory of Hierophant Cad.]
Last edited by Paranoid66 on Tue, 3. Mar 09, 12:23, edited 2 times in total.
Beyond 'X' Far future (Fanfic): BkI BkII BkIII

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Paranoid66
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Post by Paranoid66 » Thu, 19. Feb 09, 14:07

[[Eight]]

[Location: Many Truths, Hells Maw, Unclaimed Space, Emissary Sphere.]

[We arrive well shy of the ‘Hells Maw’ the pitch dark Anomaly that has swallowed up anything that has ever gotten too close and returned nothing. This region is a mass of contradictions one half being brightly lit by a great swathe of fierce tiny star bright Anomalies that give the impression of being further away than they are the other half of the region is made up of the ‘Maws’ impenetrable void.]

[Hierophant Cads Laboratory rests right on the edge of Hell and frequently needs little other defence. On the few occasions when somebody dared attack him - incredibly powerful - manipulator fields simply lanced out to carry those stupid fools into the ‘Maw’s’ embrace and that was that! Nobody wise challenges a true Trojan Professor.]

[I approach only after hailing and getting permission. Nonetheless, I always feel nervous approaching here. Nobody knows what happens to those who enter the ‘Maw’ and I have no desire to find out the hard way. Certainly, it is no traditional black hole lacking that phenomena’s dense gravity. We often wonder if Hierophant knows what it is; if he does, he refuses to tell anyone. Hierophant is certainly inordinately fond of the Anomaly and often talks about it as if it is an old friend not surprising really, as they have been living comfortably together for a long time.]

[Cads Laboratory is an impressive structure in itself. Being: a habitat. An automated shipyard, an automated engineering works, an automated chemical plant, an automated physics laboratory and much more besides. It also has a huge warp sensor array and a series of yes automated domed gardens all serviced by a conjoined solar power plant of unique design that branches over about sixty percent of the complex.]

[In self imposed Exile Cad claims to be ‘an evil mass murderer’ although that is hard to imagine (except by accident) as he comes across as entirely without malice unless provoked to self defence, having said that he is also perhaps without mercy. Biologically speaking he lives utterly alone for companions he surrounds himself with computers, drones, and some annoyingly cute robots that he has programmed to ape sentient intelligence while being utterly uncreative. Nonetheless, many have names and some even have programmed illusionary personalities plus odd physical quirks. Cad has a childlike sense of humour it is possible he drove any companions he had away with practical jokes.]

[As soon as we dock, Hierophant asks permission to come aboard and warps over. Oddly, for a being that generally prefers his own company Cad always welcomes us warmly. Cad claims to be an admirer of both the Paradox species and our culture. Given some of the data and artefacts, he has collected some from us this statement seems more than just idle flattery.]

“Harbinger back so soon I hope those new sensors aren’t giving you any trouble. Living technology is a departure for me but everything worked perfectly in my tests. I have even added this upgrade to my own station.” [Cad says.]

“As far as I can tell they are everything you promised luckily we haven’t had any need of them yet. Typically now that we can spy out the Splinter Harbour’s unopened apertures we haven’t encountered any.” [Harbinger stated.]

[To my perception, the tall thin Trojan dwarfed by the Paradox Shroud Suits looks mildly disappointed. Then he runs the fingers of his right hand through his typically untidy black hair and shrugs.]

“So what is new in the ‘Domains’?” [Cad asks.]

“Well we lost the Nursery Shipyard at ‘Heaven’s Anvil’ to some sort of calamity. I am now beginning to think down to a mistake by the ‘Maker’s Guild’ themselves otherwise by this stage they would have been calling for bloody retribution. One rumour has it a prototype engine caused some kind of devastating but brief singularity.” [Harbinger explained.]

“Interesting maybe I should go have a look take a few readings. It has been a long time since I left this place to do any on the spot research. Do you think that would cause a problem with your people?” [Cad asked.]

“I would willingly take you on my own ship. That would remove any obstacle if you keep a low profile and would really like to go, but I confess I have a problem to solve first.” [Harbinger explained.]

“I hope it is a good one.” [Hierophant Cad said sounding excited.]

[Harbinger explained about Reader and the ‘Continuity of Introspection’.]

“I see.” [Replied Hierophant a bit puzzled that Harbinger was having trouble with this.]

“Embarrassingly I have come very close on two occasions but each time she jumped away and now I have no leads and little inspiration left ‘Continuity of Introspection’ could be anywhere in the ‘Emissary Sphere’. Worse yet Reader (the thief) knows I am hunting him now and will I‘m sure avoid areas covered by warp satellite networks.” [Further enlightened Harbinger.]

“Hmmm you know what the problem with chasing anything intelligent is - smart prey always run away. Instead of trying to find your missing ship, get it to find you. What you need my friend is not a technological solution but a psychological lure. Now if we disseminate a nice juicy rumour. What does this Reader need or better still what is his greatest desire - figure that out - then we bait a trap with it.” [Cad says.]

“Damn old friend you make me feel like a fool. I guess I have gotten far too close to this problem.” [Harbinger admits.] “Well we know ‘Continuity’ needs biological repairs otherwise Reader if I have the story right has a fascination with the ‘Prime Splinter Graveyard’ we believe that was why he became a Splitter in the first place.” [Harbinger explained.] “Beyond that I know very little of use.”

“That is good enough, we manufacture a rumour that I have discovered a new clue to the location of the Graveyard. Then when he comes to see me I hit him with some Jump Inhibitors grab him with my Manipulator Fields and haul him into dock - easy.” [Hierophant explains.]

“I don’t know about easy.” [Replied Harbinger] “Reader has been blessed with an inordinate amount of luck so far. Still it is certainly worth a try. However that could be a bit of a dangerous rumour.”

[I listen in as Harbinger tells Hierophant all about the happenings at the ‘Red Nest’. The Splinter arming a Pirate faction with ‘Sunburst Ion Nova’ Torpedoes and so on.]

“Even better I haven’t fed the ‘Maw’ in ages and if any actual Splinter appears you can test out your new scanners.” [Cad says as if it is all a jolly game.]

[In the end, my Captain decides he will secretly manipulate Wilful Spirit to help get the rumour rolling since Wilful is also interested in the ‘Prime Graveyard’. We jump to ‘Red Nest’ and after getting clearance from the Mercenary Navy now in residence there dock and go to see Wilful. We arrange to meet him at one of the Miners Dives claiming we need to relax a bit from the stress and frustration of our unsuccessful hunt. It is the beginning of a deliberately long carouse through the station side drinking establishments.]

“Any luck with your search for genetic material yet?” [Harbinger asks very loudly and openly in one public space while drawing some alcohol into his Shroud Suit.]

“None, but I’m still hopeful.” [Wilful explains.]

“I’ve been thinking you might be wasting your time here. The transit through the Anomaly may well sterilise the material: really you still need to find the ‘Prime Grave Yard’ itself. Perhaps if you find the ‘Graveyard’ we can convince Reader to give himself up in return for access to the site if that place is truly linked with his Vision.” [Harbinger explains.]

Wilful laughs. “How exactly do you propose I do that you make it sound easy?”

“Via a friend of mine while I continue to chase other leads for I admit this one is something of an untargeted shot in a dense nebula. Listen, my friend (a Trojan Professor) has been working on a new forensic technique. He claims he can map the region where an object has resided for a long time in the ‘Emissary Sphere’ by the exotic Anomaly radiation it has absorbed in the past. Apparently such radiation can have an effect at a molecular level.” [Harbinger lectured.]

“Anyway I just remembered about this research which is why I have taken the time to Jump back.” [Harbinger continued.] “It is hardly a perfect science, but the more material Hierophant Cad has to work with the better are the chances he can get a result. If he does, he should at least be able to narrow down the search area for the ‘Prime Splinter Graveyard’ somewhat. Then perhaps with other clues we can pinpoint a sensible search area in Splinter Space. You will need to get Ore Breakers permission to borrow as many artefacts as possible - the process is non destructive and so they can all be returned afterwards.” [Harbinger explains.]

[I find this idea utterly preposterous and very amusing as no such science exists as far as I know, but who knows exactly what a Trojan Professor is capable of. Many see them almost like Technological Sorcerers who can do anything.]

“Amazing.” [Wilful replies.] “Where exactly does this Cad reside?”

“A place far off and out of the way called ‘Hells Maw’ I’ll give you the coordinates. When you get there be sure to say whom you are and why you have come. My friend is jealous of his privacy and is inclined to send visitors away without granting docking rights. But he is also interested in legends and lore and has extensive knowledge about the Splinter so he is happy to receive anyone with the same interest.” [Harbinger states.]

“This sounds promising are you sure you can’t take me there directly after all everywhere is just a jump away?” [Wilful Spirit asks.]

“Its not the journey time whenever I visit Hierophant he likes to entertain me for days and I find it very hard to escape his hospitality without causing him insult. Given the fact that our missing friend could show up anywhere at any time I can’t afford to be tied up carousing with Cad on his station.” [Harbinger states.] “You will just have to hire somebody to take you there I’m sure some Recycler or other will do it for a suitable fee.”

“Fine then, I’ll go have a word with Ore Breaker straight away.” [Said Wilful sounding excited.]

“Do you feel a little guilty?” [I privately send to my Captain.]

“Not in the least Wilful owes us I can’t help but feel it is his fault in the first place. If he hadn’t deliberately filled that Acolytes head none of this would have happened.” [Harbinger sends.]

“He is going to be very disappointed.” [I send.]

“I do not think Wilful - will be disappointed - not with a visit to ‘Hell’s Maw’, I would hardly be surprised if Hierophant was able to throw some new light on the whereabouts of the ‘Prime Splinter Graveyard’ - that one is just full of ideas - and surprises.” [Harbinger sends.]

“So are you, that idea about the Anomaly radiation almost sounds plausible in an absurd Trojan science way.” [I send.]

“Actually it has been theorised that some Anomaly radiation can have odd subtle effects over time on living tissue so why not inorganic material as well.” [Harbinger sends.]

“Maybe you should have become a Scientist Priest.” [I send.]

“I don’t believe in putting myself into a box except when it helps with interactions. I would rather escape all containments.” [Harbinger sends.]

“Like when you go into Warrior or Priest mode with the natives.” [I send.]

“Priest mode?” [Sends Harbinger.]

[I send amusement via our Companion-ship link.]
Last edited by Paranoid66 on Tue, 3. Mar 09, 12:24, edited 2 times in total.
Beyond 'X' Far future (Fanfic): BkI BkII BkIII

Never more than 98.8 percent sure about anything.
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Paranoid66
Posts: 2965
Joined: Tue, 19. Apr 05, 10:59
x3tc

Post by Paranoid66 » Thu, 19. Feb 09, 14:08

[[Nine]]

[Location: Many Truths, Hells Maw, Unclaimed Space, Emissary Sphere.]

[Having arrived back at ‘Hells Maw’ we are hiding at an out of the way coordinate with most of my systems running silent. I employ only Stealthy Scout Drones to keep watch. We are all bored. First, we had to wait for Wilful Spirit to arrive, now we are waiting on Reader showing up. We know Hierophant Cad right now is deliberately leaking information about assisting Wilful with his research on the ‘Graveyard’. Hierophant plans to makes an unusual number of loose communications to a host of third parties about his latest endeavour via warp satellite.]

[After two days of waiting Harbinger is getting testy. Patience is not his strong point. I try to ease his pain by keeping him occupied with various maintenance tasks. Otherwise, I run battle simulations and other training exercises with him and his clone family including very seriously enforced anti boarding drills and emergency evacuations. On the third day, we are working on a prototype for my Stealth Drone (expendable target satellite carrier / dropper) modification when a jump scout appears within range of one of our concealed scouts.]

[His bridge interface instantly surrounds Harbinger and we wait anxious to see who will arrive. The moments seem to stretch into hours even for me. A ship jumps in but it is nothing like what we expected. It is an old Recycler Battleship running a distress beacon while venting radiation, its hull shows signs of many hits and is glowing in places from internal fires. As we look on there is an explosion and part of a section of hull blasts away to our horror bodies spew out into open space some not in suits. Screams and cries for assistance erupt over wide band communications.]

“By the Emissary. I don‘t much like this, but we have to assist. Full Battle Stations and take us in, when in range scan that ship.” [Harbinger sends.] “Prepare to receive survivors by emergency warp but I want them contained in a secure section. Release heavy weapons to our crew you know the drill.”

[I release our Remora Drones; pop my turrets, open missile and torpedo tubes. The family rush about grabbing weapons drifting to their appointed places using manipulator fields a few with further to go warp directly across. Medical facilities configure themselves ready to receive casualties. Stasis pods drop into position. Emergency pressure bulkheads seal the ship section by section. In the armoury, automated systems choose torpedoes and missiles shifting these from racks down chutes to firing positions. Massive auto-changers get ready to shift turret guns on request. Beta Clones shift from virtual to hard reality ready o fulfil their purpose. Everywhere you look, I seethe with internal activity. A call comes in from Hierophant as we draw towards deep scan range of the dying Recycler ship]

“Ware Harbinger, it is a Splinter trap.” [Sends the Trojan Professor.]

[I go into full reverse thrust as I register a storm of Torpedoes racing towards us from the supposedly stricken ship. Splinter Harbour jump points widen all around us releasing sentient piloted Fighters and Bombers. They appear almost on top of my hull. Sadly we hadn‘t deployed our new sensor masts unlike Hierophant as they would have given us away while concealed and then due to Battle Stations they stayed sheaved.]

[I know we have only one choice any non-Paradox ship would be doomed. I tell the Remora to scatter away at full throttle they race past the incoming ships dextrously avoiding the odd bit of Splinter fire. I wait the perfect moment then release a Paradox Living Hull Shock Wave. It blasts outward from every part of my body in a Sphere of indiscriminate force rippling and ripping through the void it uses up one third of my energy reserves but splashes everything around us catching a few unfortunate Remoras as well.]

[Hierophant grabs the Q Battleship dragging it towards the ‘Maw’ it lurches sideways as if snagged by a giant’s hand. However, Harbinger and I suspect that task is taking up all the power of the Trojan’s mighty Manipulator Fields: a Battleship is a big object to move against its (apparently still active) engines. Obviously the Recycler ships injuries were cleverly faked (a one off ruse) we have never heard of Splinter flying large vessels before. Although the aged Battleship is falling towards oblivion, we still watch it spit out more Torpedoes against the station and us. Harbinger grants permission to Beta Clones who open up with point defence turrets mostly using Paradox Low Bolts. The station also employs its own missile defence system a very accurate beam weapon.]

[More attack craft are disgorged by Wormhole Splinter Harbours I begin force charging my biological capacitors for a tactical point-to-point mini jump under my Captains direction. Our Remora skilfully attack the Splinter Fighters and Bombers from behind concentrating on the (for us) more deadly bombers with great success. I direct Beta Clones to use Paradox High Bolt main turret fire primarily against the Bombers as well; I also launch anti fighter Swimmer piranha missiles. Finally I cast out counter measure Paradox Seeker anti missile missiles. My hull begins to suffer Splinter fast firing crystalline mass driver hits that first pass straight through my outer shield without slowing. I know pain and a degree of battle rage envelopes me. Splinter Medium Beams strike my shields with little effect missiles do more damage and one torpedo strike even more. We rock around from these multiple impacts.]

[The night sky is now alive with explosions and the screams of broadcast Splinter rage and despair. We mini jump just ahead of proximity SIN blasts much to my relief. However due to the SIN Torpedoes disruptive effect - mines I had dropped - fail to detonate. A Splinter Jump Harbour targets us again their attacks seem endless. Speedily the disgorged Bombers fire a host of Torpedoes and heavy missiles once more at almost point blank range. Again, I resort to a full Living Hull Shock Wave as the only option. All the incoming ordinance and the Bombers tear apart but my energy reserves slump drastically to a dangerous low.]

[The Splinters Recycler Battleship touches the ‘Maw’ and is almost instantly translated in to its unknown fate. New unusually large Drones belatedly enter the battle on our side courtesy of Hierophants station. They fire strange purple and white beams that seem to act like an Ion weapon of some kind disrupting the Splinters systems killing shields and shutting down their drives. Hierophant’s Manipulators begin snaring fighters and bombers dispatching them far quicker than the Battleship. We add everything we can throw into the battle knowing we have to finish them now or never. All my turrets are pushed to the limits of their performance cooling systems vent plumes into space. Missiles and torpedoes streak out I release the last of my reserve drones. I am almost spent not having had any opportunity to recharge. I hold on to just enough energy for a last resort full jump to the safety of ‘High Synod’.]

[As shockingly fast as it started I realise the assault appears to be over. We circle as the last of our missiles (target less) self-destruct. We are wary and distrust the lull waiting for more Harbours to open I maintain my jump capacitor despite the precious energy drain. I bask crudely feasting on anything available even taking in some hard radiation from the battle. Nothing occurs, we risk using a trickle of energy to scan the debris for survivors. We find none; this is typical with Splinter, they are fierce fighters who seem unafraid to die.]

“Well that wasn’t the prey we were hunting for, but it certainly shows the word is out.” [Sends Hierophant stubbornly jolly despite the death and destruction.]

“An expensive engagement.” [Harbinger sends.] “Both in our material and in Splinter lives lost.”

“Fiercer than I expected.” [Hierophant sends.] “I fear I have grown complacent about my defences.”

“Those drones seemed effective once they entered the fray.” [Harbinger sends.]

“Perhaps but I almost released them too late.” [Hierophant sends.] “They were my old defence before I started using Manipulator Fields. That Battleship was a beast to move.”

“Better late than never.” [Harbinger sends.] “I thought you had captured some of the Splinters ships with those beams.]

“I fear in the heat of the moment I fed mobile and immobile ships to the ‘Maw’.” [Hierophant sends.] “Anyway they were making my space untidy and confusing my overview of the tactical situation.”

[I can sense Harbinger’s shock at Hierophants casual killing of the decommissioned Splinters well he always claimed to be a mass murderer.]

“A live Splinter is a dangerous Splinter. Besides maybe they are not dead just somewhere else.” [I send to my Captain thinking every rule has an exception.]

“Still it is a loss; they may have had useful intelligence.” [Harbinger sends back to me as if that was all that concerned him and not the sanctity of life.]

“They would have committed suicide anyway. No one has ever captured a Splinter alive unless he was unconscious first - defeat and captivity - is torture to them.” [I send.]

“This is my fault the result of my scheme - we ambushed them. They were just protecting their honoured dead from desecration; I have erred in my enthusiasm.” [Harbinger sends.]

“What is done is destiny.” [I send.]

“We are each of us the hand of fate.” [Harbinger sends to counter my argument.]

[I use the biomass I collected at ’Benevolence Orb’ to commence regenerating from my damage. It is not severe enough to require a shipyard. We activate our advanced scanner masts and I release supplemental unfurling solar collectors to recover quickly some of my lost energy reserves. For the moment ‘Continuity of Introspection’ is forgot about.]

[I commence a review of the action (via more in depth analysis of my sensor logs). I am annoyed to discover that the people we saw emerging from the wreck and chewing down on vacuum had not been faked illusions. Even those with vacuum suits on all had slow purposeful murderous leaks. The Splinter obviously sacrificed Recycler prisoners. I inform Harbinger it reduces his guilt a little we both know those prisoners were doomed once they fell into Splinter hands to either truly slavish servitude or a painful death.]

[From a data search, we discover that Battleship from its IFF went missing while investigating a warp satellite broadcast distress call a little over one hundred and twenty eight years ago. It makes me think about how our technological development rampant after our initial migration now seems to have reached a plateau. We have grown comfortable nothing spectacularly new has occurred in the last few thousand years, in relation to material and mechanical sciences just refinements and adaptations of old technologies. As a follower of my Captain’s Vision, I find this slowdown worrisome. Have we Pilgrims lost our way by becoming complacent?]

[I am still basking and recovering when ‘Continuity of Introspection’ jumps in. We fire one of Hierophants rather ironically Jump Inhibiting (Jump Torpedoes). Hierophant also snares the ship with his Manipulator Field. Dragged hastily into dock and securely clamped ‘Continuity’ is going nowhere. We recall our collectors and follow after. Stunned at our reversal of fortune our mood brightens. We hail Reader but get no reply - no doubt, the young Paradox is sulking. We are surprised that he failed to try to break loose none of his admittedly low-grade weapons firing even once.]

[Onboard the Laboratory we gather at the airlock to the young Living Hull. Reader refuses to acknowledge our demands and to open up we are forced to cut our way in after the ship also ignores our broadcasts. A unit of my Captains family and ourselves are equipped as Paradox Space Marines in extra heavy Shroud Suits and carrying some serious weaponry. We are taking no chances. Due to Scan Shrouding we have no idea what lies inside. If fully compromised ‘Continuity’ may turn upon us in which case we will be hard pressed. The Clones insist on going first. Inside the ship is dark and seems almost lifeless. The Clones report in; they show us signs of internal damage consistent with an armed struggle our forces soon find Splinter Raider bodies.]

[We enter behind our advanced party. The ship is still, quiet and spooky we find a data node and hack in to view her latest log entries. It becomes apparent she fell foul of SIN while scouting at an extreme range from ‘Hell’s Maw’ but still in local space. Forcefully boarded, to outward appearance her systems show as fully fried. In fact, temporary debilitation is all she suffers. Hiding her pilot within her actual Hull Bulkhead an old Paradox trick, she leaves the Splinter free to search her internal spaces.]

[After an in fact unsuccessful Splinter hack she simply retreats behind impregnable firewalls. She waits for the right opportunity to escape the Splinter Harbour. She witnesses our battle from the other side counting the enemies forces down as they deploy outward from the Harbour. Finally, with the Harbour depleted of ships she makes her move and simply jumps free. She still has the Splinter Marines onboard but she is a Paradox War Ship and with the element of surprise, she is quickly able to suppress her borders especially with her pilot in safe stasis. To her surprise after arriving at ‘Hell’s Maw’, we attack her and she commences to do the same trick again.]

[As she goes live and prepares to destroy us, I dump our story into her consciousness and she stays her wrath in surprise. I sigh it is a narrow escape for my Captain. Realising Reader is not her legitimate Owner / Companion she releases him into our custody feeling no doubt just a little bit guilty at this betrayal.]

[After installing fail safes we leave some clones behind to clean up the ugly mess while we escort Reader into my brig. At a short victory celebration Wilful Spirit is informed of our deception to Hierophants amusement. Hierophant widely broadcasts that his attempt to use the artefacts to find the Prime Splinter Graveyard have failed due to corrupting radiation from the ‘Red Nest’ Mass Producer Anomaly the Splinters secret is safe.]

[Once more Wilful asks to stay behind having started some new genetic project with Hierophant. We say our goodbyes and launch when ‘Continuity’ follows we embrace her using our own Manipulation field and Jump back together to the ‘Monastic Extents’.]


[Location: The Many Truths, Monastic Extents, Paradox Domain, Emissary Sphere.]

[Composure is waiting for us and this time we make sure ‘Continuity of Introspection’ reaches his dock safely without incident - our lesson well learned.]


[Location: The House of Whispers, Monastic Extents, Paradox Domain, Emissary Sphere.]

[We are in the Hall of Celebration in the ‘House of Whispers’ surrounded by Composures Acolytes. Composure stands nearby appearing invigorated perhaps in a spry new body although the truth hides within his Shroud Suit.]

“My friend Harbinger welcome back to the ‘House of Whispers’.” [Composure says.] “It is a rare thing for one to return to his beginnings and be deemed worthy of his departure. You have proven yourself equal to this honour. At last I can accept that our loss was not a betrayal or a detriment to this House and my Vision but a gain for the Paradox Domain in fact the entire Emissary Sphere.”

[My Master nods his suits head in acknowledgement. For Harbinger, this is the end of a very long journey indeed. For us however, it is just the beginning of many, many more adventures.]

“Congratulations Captain.” “At last you have been gracefully received by your old Master.”

[A night of celebration and joy follows nonetheless before we depart the Monastery we receive a warp communication. The message is from Tleeboosuu the staunch advocate of ‘Opal Pearl’ and owner of ‘Newport’. The Swimmer wants to know if my Captain is still interested in doing what he can to assist their cause, he claims they have an urgent need.]

[Book I ends]
Last edited by Paranoid66 on Tue, 3. Mar 09, 12:26, edited 2 times in total.
Beyond 'X' Far future (Fanfic): BkI BkII BkIII

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Paranoid66
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Post by Paranoid66 » Thu, 19. Feb 09, 14:23

Cleaned it up a bit. Made it one short chapter to a post - should be easier to read and follow.

Would love some feedback on this one. Because it is a departure in some respects given the new Sphere (Universe) and time setting.

I like 'Harbinger' he is to me a calm sort of - can do - positive character. It is nice to work with a species (the Paradox) that have no reproductive urges.

I enjoyed twisting the paranid species about via these far flung heretics. They have - in my mind - so much and so little in common. :D
Beyond 'X' Far future (Fanfic): BkI BkII BkIII

Never more than 98.8 percent sure about anything.
98.8 percent sure that anyone who is 100 percent certain needs re-educating for the sake of humanity.

Snowship
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Post by Snowship » Fri, 27. Feb 09, 07:09

I'm reading atm Paranoid.. upto Chpt 3, but I'm on holidays so it's slow going :D :wink:
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Post by ghostrider » Fri, 27. Feb 09, 17:10

HI paranoid, just finished reading this,I was a bit sceptical at first with it not being in the usual "x" universe,but you've won me over its an excellant story ,c'ant wait for the next part. :)

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Post by Snowship » Mon, 2. Mar 09, 08:20

Interesting vision there paranoid, not what I was expecting but still very enjoyable. Didn't suspect you leap forward so far.
Liked how it's set outside the "X" Universe. And the cloning servants etc was an interesting style.

I've begun reading Book 2

Liked it, was a fresh landscape and events :D

Snowship.
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Post by Paranoid66 » Tue, 3. Mar 09, 12:44

Thanks Snowship and Ghostrider for your support and comments.

I just noticed a plot error in the first book now corrected: on several occasions I call the Black Diamond and other 'Swimmer Mercenaries' Recyclers. I think the confusion occured because they use 'Recycler' ships even I got momentarily confused as to who Pearl and Prime had hired. I had decided nearly all Renegade (non standard, non government, semi legal and illegal) forces use Recycler tech.

Yes Snowship I decided to jump well into the future. A big leap was the only way I felt safe to make really big changes to the races cultures and even their physical forms - plus be able to introduce lots of my own back story for Harbinger to explore.

I also had to jump Universe as it was the only way I could imagine escaping the Ancients gate network. In my head anywhere else the Pilgrims went would eventually be linked up like everywhere is in 'X'. I needed some really big gaps. :o
Beyond 'X' Far future (Fanfic): BkI BkII BkIII

Never more than 98.8 percent sure about anything.
98.8 percent sure that anyone who is 100 percent certain needs re-educating for the sake of humanity.

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