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Sol and Centauri (all new!) [light language]

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Author Topic: Sol and Centauri (all new!) [light language]  (Read 664 times)
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« on: May 11, 2007, 05:24:28 pm »

If it's not too confusing, I'll merge the updates I made with the first post. I'll try and work towards having just the final version posted up. For now, here's the first half of the next scene. The date is liable to change, but it doesn't matter much.


October 25, 2321 CE

A parody of life flooded into the circuit, settling into its established patterns and pathways. Sensors expanded and analysed its surroundings. The recorded stimuli and responses that passed for memories and experiences told it that it was in the ready room of the Jovian Solar Critical Response/Assault barracks. The worldnet receiver in its heart linked itself to the local network, finding only a small system of nodes. Had it felt any emotions at all, it would have been vexed. Bringing its high-level sensors offline, it focused on the local surroundings. Two humans stood before it.
   “Is it on?” Harrison Tailor glanced over at his companion, Colin Farrell – the one who had asked the question.
   “Yeah, it’s on.” He was patient with Colin, and forced down the odd feeling of explaining something to a man forty years his senior. “Androids never just get straight up. It’ll be searching for a worldnet connection, – but it’ll only find the barracks’ local net – running through high- and low-level sensors to see where it is, and making sure its body’s functioning correctly. Then it waits for an order.” Colin looked the android over with keen blue eyes. The robot stood just taller than the average human, and was built in a humanoid shape mainly for aesthetic reasons. Its skin was made mostly of smoky, organiplastic plates, moulded into smooth curves. Joints and areas that needed flexibility were a darker polymer fabric. Under all that was a layer of combat-rated armour sheath, the same stuff used in the SCRA officers’ body-armour. Its forearms were empty, plastic and metal supports bridging the gap like an exoskeleton. Harrison leaned down into the recess the android lay in and patted its shoulder. “Come on.”
He led the way across the ready room. Colin and the android followed obediently, the latter having stood silently up from its reclined position. It walked with an oddly smooth gait, not wasting any energy in unneeded movement. Harrison slid open a wall unit, revealing a simple rack of tubes the length of the android’s forearms. He turned to the android, holding one, and said simply, “Open right forearm.”
Half of the structure over the gap in the android’s forearm retracted, allowing access to its insides. Harrison dropped the tube in, then reached back for another and repeated the process for the other arm. As he worked, he explained to Colin.
   “Armament variants. There are about six different types we have, ranged from stunners – the ones I’m putting in – to full-power thunderclap lasers. ‘Course, you need extra power for those. We’ve never actually used them,” he added. He spoke to the android again. “Hound, dismiss yourself and keep warm. Send your activation report to the log stream. Be ready for deployment at short notice.” The android turned and retreated, sinking back into its recess.
   “Hound?” Colin asked.
   “Its name,” Harrison supplied nonchalantly.
   “An inspector, by any chance?” Harrison grinned, and Colin joined in.
   “I had no idea you read the classics.” Colin nodded as Harrison threw an arm over his shoulders.
   “Not quite a classic, but close enough.” It was Harrison’s turn to nod. He let go of Colin and turned away from him, motioning to the rest of the ready room.
   “Back on-track, this is the ready room. I guess you figured out, this is where we keep our armour, weapons, power cells, etcetera.” He made a grand gesture with both arms, turning back to Colin. “And that concludes the tour. Sorry it was a few weeks late, but it sure made my job easier.” Colin smiled, and was about to make a remark when a text broadcast imposed itself on his vision. The emergency graphics on his corneo screen were depthless, demanding his attention immediately. The popup was a simple message in plain text, demanding his presence in the barracks’ small conference room. He dismissed the message with a wave of one hand, and glanced over at Harrison. He could see tiny images on the man’s eyes, in the same blood red that his message had appeared in. Harrison, too, closed the message and looked at Colin.
   “Wonder how much this has to do with Steve asking me to warm up Hound today?”
   “No bets,” Colin replied. “Let’s see, shall we?”

The briefing room was one of the smaller rooms in the barracks. It was on the top floor of the barracks’ inversed-pyramid structure, next to the ready room and maglev hangar. Harrison and Colin weren’t the first to arrive; Steven Vance, their squad leader, was waiting. He sat at the head of the ovular table that was the room’s largest piece of furniture. Harrison could see Steven’s face mirrored upside-down in the polished surface. Even light flooded from a recessed ring in the roof, glowing with the same intensity as sunlight on Earth.
   “Well done on being the first in,” Steven remarked dryly. “Sit down.” Harrison pulled a chair from under the table, and its back folded up to allow him to sit in it. He grabbed one for Colin as Dominic, Erik and Mary entered. Erik threw his arms in the air. “We ran here! How is it that you, Harrison Tailor, beat me to every single emergency briefing?” Harrison grinned as Steven waved the new arrivals down.
   “Get settled, people. Access the briefing stream and I’ll start now. We’re short on time.”
Harrison navigated his way to the barracks’ briefing file stream, joining in and receiving several new displays in his corneo sight. He shifted the images around, using hand gestures to shift his control between layers. There were several camera streams; Harrison recognised their coverage area as Jovia’s Commercial district – in other words, the offices of Jovian Resource Trade Corporation. The company did everything on Jovia – except their manufacturing and research/development, which took place on a station adjacent to Jovia. There were also several text files, looking from their header logs like secure transmissions that had been intercepted and decrypted.
As Harrison browsed the files, the rest of the squad arrived, taking seats at the table. Steven looked around: everyone was here. His squad, the Hellcats.
   “Right, we’ve barely got time to be here. We’ve received a warning from one of the Council’s netlinks here. A worldnet node on the Jovres Corporation’s level registered the presence of a fugitive – one of the Infinity Division activists the Council has been pursuing for a month or so. What he’s doing on Jovia we don’t yet know. We can, however, assume the worst: the Division are buying hydrogen and they can’t go through the regular channels to do it.” Harrison cleared his corneo sight and glanced at Steven. The squad leader was calm, as always. Steven’s bluntness and familiarity with his squad was something Harrison appreciated. Some SCRA teams Harrison had served with before coming to Jovia had been tight and formal, as if they were constantly on a proving ground.
   “Questions? No? So let’s get going.” The door slid quietly open, boots rang on the floor, then the briefing room was quiet. Five minutes later, a maglev car accelerated out of the SCRA barracks’ hangar.

The maglev train was Jovia’s main form of transport. The space station’s separate districts were arranged in a great mass three kilometres high and one wide at its widest point, looking like a giant silver arrow head poised to pierce Jupiter’s surface. On its crown sat Plaza, a giant hardglass dome ringed with restaurants, bars and boutiques that served Jovia’s population of almost ten thousand. The eight Broadways radiated from it, wide tunnels lined with yet more shops and offices. Directly underneath Plaza was the broad, round, compact constellation of triangular living modules known as Residence. Walkways and platforms linked modules into rough suburbs, each suburb served by a maglev tunnel. These tunnels coalesced into the Jovia Upper station, then emerged as the Artery line, a three-kilometre stretch of track travelling straight down. Capillary lines branched off the three descending tunnels, allowing access to Jovia’s other levels: Commercial, Administrative, Spaceport, Maintenance, and finally, at the end of the line, Industrial.
At Industrial station, Jovia departed from its arrowhead symmetry, branching into a flat disc riddled with conduits and large starship berths. Hanging from its lower surface, thirty-two alloy spears trailed kilometres down into Jovia’s atmosphere: Jovia’s tendrils, sucking hydrogen from Jupiter’s gaseous surface. The hydrogen was conveyed up the spears, the opposite of venom in a snake’s hollow fangs. It was drawn into Jovia, sorted, processed, refined, and compressed into pressure tanks to be transported. It was Jovia’s only trade, and the sole reason for its existence. With the outlaw of hydrogen refineries based in Terrestrial oceans, the supply had to move elsewhere. Jupiter was the largest store of hydrogen in the Solar system – a huge, ripe, red fruit.
From Industrial, the maglev line ran a circuit through the starship docks, the massive cradles where the hydrogen was shipped across the human domain. The three lines coalesced back into the centre, running up through Jovia’s centre once more, to complete the circuit in the Residence ring.
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