Archive for August, 2016

Rings of Fate S1xE7 – Horizon – Company (pt.5)

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Taken by surprise Solomon watched the ship suddenly pick up speed, it moved over the individual rings like a ghost, as unimpressed by the massive structure, as a cloud passing over cities and mountain ranges.

“A canon.” Nikolais words were like a dagger thruat to Solomon’s side. “What?”

“A canon on beta ring is realigning and targeting the hHarpy ship.” Nervously his fingers rushed over the displayed buttons. “I can’t access the controls, it seems that it is controled locally.”

“Degenhauser and Lexington.” cursed Solomon. Within a heartbeat he had rushed to the canon controls. “It is locking on to the harpy vessel!” Nikolai yelled.

With a few button presses Solomon had realigned a canon on the gamma ring, pointing at the one on beta.

With the press of a button the canon in beta that had been locking on Hylia’s ship was blasted off the surface of the Horizon. “I have governor Degenhauser on the line.” A communication officer turned to Solomon. Tell him to fuck off. “Stall him, right now I’d only start a political disaster.”

While the harpy ship approached the vacant lots on the alpha ring, where the ship Hylia had come from, had crashed into the Horizon, Johannes approached his old friend. “That was a rushed decision, don’t you think?”

“We’ve got more canons in storage, soon we can build new ones by the dozens.” pressing the words through his teeth Solomon had to gather his composure. “If these bafoons try anything like that again, you’ll have to restrain me.”

Nodding with a smile Johannes backed off.

 

Though not fitting the whole space of one vacant lot on alpha, the harpy pod made a beautiful addition to the Horizon, at least in Solomon’s eyes. After docking had completed Johannes and Sven immediately rushed to the port. Hylia was examined, reunited with her children and spared an immediate debriefing. The ship she procured was immediately boarded by one of Svens robotic explorers.

In his eyes one could see his desire to crawl into the narrow hallways himself.

All this while Solomon sat a conference table, again. Present in person, the governors. “What happened here, was treason. If the perpetrators can be found, they will be put before a military court, and, if found guilty, sentenced to death.” He had security footage looping on the video wall, of the harpy vessel gliding alongside the ship, the canon aiming at it, in a small additional display the computer commands were listed. A command to shut down, denied by renewed security codes, feed information to the canon from another source aboard the Horizon to track and lock onto the Harpy vessel. Right until the canon was terminated by friendly fire. With joy he watched color fade from both Degenhauser and Lexington. “We are a democracy, and this falls into your jurisdiction Governor Degenhauser, we need an investigation. On all rings.” Both Degenhauser and Lexington regained a little of their composure. “If the civil investigation turns up empty handed in four weeks, we will conduct one with military personnel.”

“There will be no need.” Degenhauser bowed his head, color had faded from him again. “It was my initiative, I assume full responsibility.” That was a surprise for Solomon, he had figuredn that they would find a pawn and sacrifice him. “You can’t assume responsibility.” Solomon leaned on the table. “You have responsibility, if it truly was your doing.” He sacrifices himself as the pawn, possibly protecting Lexington. “My last order stands, you will conduct the investigation. Afterwards you will step down as governor, and be put under house arrest.” Nodding with a dignified expression Degenhauser felt relief.

 

Day 1825

Air! Although not exactly fresh air, it was a lot fresher than anything he had been breathing in the last five years.

Breathing as if he was drinking nectar, Wesley opened his eyes. The surroundings were somewhat familiar, and at the same time they were not.

Horizon.

“Anna?” He raised his head and upper body. “Here.” She reached over from the bed next to him. “Why didn’t you tell me?” He took her hand in his.

“It would’ve put a lot more preasure on you.” She smiled, gently touching her belly with the other hand.

“Hello there,” Johannes approached the two beds, “my name is Doctor Johannes Falkner, you and I have talked a few days back.” He addressed Anna. “Before you ask, your child is fine.” Winking he turned to Wesley. “We almost had to pass you over, but you can catch up on that on our news channel.” He pointed at the screen on the opposite wall. In brief words he told them that their faulty implants had been replaced, and that their comrades were fine, lying in another room.

For a moment it felt strange for Wesley.

The four of them had shared close quarters for five years, now they could separate on their ship, and never run into one another.

Between all the beeping noise in the rooms adjacent to theirs both he and Anna missed one beep only the two heard.

 

Hylia looked up from her playing children. Not again! But another beeping signal interrupted her thoughts. “New listeners acquired, you perormed as expected.” Then the signal was terminated before the humans could detect it. Closing her eyes Hylia clenched her jaw. She had been played.

“Curses.” She hissed opening her eyes again.

 

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War Journal – 1 Swift Wings (ep28)

Around her the world began to shrink. No! Don’t lose consciousness! Not here, not now! Splashing her head into the icy waters she struggled on. Quickly she looked at the arrow in the cold light of her hand, let go of it. Another cry of pain filled the air as she jammed hand against the wound, a magical fireball in it to close the wound and stop the bleeding. Not my brightest idea! she cursed silently. Cooling her head once more she let go of the rock, swam away, eastward bound, as to avoid Leif and Whlana, who most certainly were looking for her by now. Will the brothers of the.order be able to stop him? Both Eric’s mental remnants and Fathala wondered.

“Do it.” the alabaster woman stood over Eric, her hands on his shoulders. “Our gift to this world awaits.” in Leif’s lap sat the Bane, sweating clouds of golden light. “No. She is out there. If she tells the.others, they’ll find a way to fight us, and they’ll descend upon us like the wrath of the heavens!” Whlana came round his.left side, like him she was naked, sweat dried on her skin, semen trickled down her inner thighs. “The bane could do away with the Sphinxes, they are most like he most powerful beings in existence. If they couldn’t fight its power, why should hey be able?” she smiled a peaceful smile. Leif’s glance fell on the trickle of semen. When she gave herself to him he could feel Whlana in there somewhere, resisting. It was not the same as in the other place with the alabaster woman. “It was mortals who made it, it will be mortals who’ll undo its effect.” he lectured. Taken aback by his reasoning her expression hardened. “Our gift can wait.” she agreed. “But do with her quickly.” again she took up place behind him in the great sanctuary hall, looking out through the waterfall.

“Please be swift.” Fathala thanked the Naga girl that took her message. She was about twelve, her mother and little sister spent the summer in the norh of the sea, but moved back to Naga’na in the cold winter months. Szihndaya vowed to abd hurried after her mother. The encounter had come as a relief to Fathala, after spending half a day in a ghost town, and an unknown amount of time in the air, contact with living, breathing Naga was more than welcome. After she found herself all alone in the icy waves once again Fathala felt lost. Tired she went to ground, allowing herself to rest for the night.Digging her stinger into the mud and rock of the sea floor he ensured not to be washed away by the currents, her wings drawn tightly around her she almost felt secure. “Go home. Tell them, and tell them to go through the archives, there must be an answer!” Eric stood before her, but his appearance was much changed. By all means he looked like a Naga man would look like if Fathala had to imagine one. His wings were ragged, but colored like liquid fire, his hand illuminating the ocean floor glowed more orange than the typical Naga blue. “You are a figment of my imagination, conjured up by my distressed mind.” she wanted to say, but beneath the waves she couldn’t speak.

“I am, true, but also the remnants of my memories and thoughts left in your mind, given form by both my memory of myself and your imagination.” his lips didn’t move when he spoke, but it didn’t feel like thoughts projected into her mind either. “However, go to the pole and tell them. Warn them.” “After I regained my strength.” she looked into his unaltered eyes, drinking in the warmth they spent. “Will you be here when I wake?””In a sense I’m always with you, and always will.” She felt as if she cradled her head on his curled up serpent like body. Just hold me and never let go. Never part my side again. Se fell asleep, deep, dark sleep without dreams.

Ravaged by wind and weather the small boat was not in the same condition that Fathala had last left it in, but still seaworthy. From Eric’s memories she knew how to operate it, maintain it. Within a day she had it ready to go to sea again. Since she couldn’t breathe saltwater, and the way to the pole was too long to fly, she decided to use Eric’s boat. I wonder whether the ithers nade it to the pole yet. Behind her the coast shrank to a thinner and thinner smudge on the horizon, vanished soon after. “Winds are with us, that’s good.” She glanced to stern, Naga Eric stood there, clearly enjoying the wind from the west. “Yes. But what will await us at the pole?” she had continued her way through the autumnly forests on wings rather than tail, that way she covered the path that took them close to three weeks in a few days. Originally she wanted to stay in Reedheim for a night, but the painful memories of her and Eric there was too much to bear, so she flew straight onward to the sea.

Besides, the fewer people she encountered, the better. For them. Leif might track her and might cause harm to anyone helping her. Seldom her glance fell west, afraid a light might shine through to her, taking her mind captive once again. Instead she continued east.

Within two weeks time she found a sail north east of her position. “That’s the ship we’ve met on.” Eric stood next to her as she stared at the distant canvas of cloth. “Still here?” she raised her eyebrows, fear grabbed a hold on her stomach. Leif!?

“No. They did not break through the storms around my home, sailed back to shore and refitted the ship like I told them to.” the plans he had drawn up for the crew for the ship came back to her mind. After following the sail for a while with her eyes she noticed that their course was bound to intercept hers before the much more violent seas. Taking the rudder firmly in her hand she hoped to reach them in time to meet with them. Still Leif might catch them wih he bane, but if they successfully reached the pole, he would turn on them in any case.

Superfoods!

I don’t know whether I have already presented my disdain – full on hatred is more like it – for this despicable garbage that is “superfoods”, if so, here we go again, if not, here we go.

◆First off, the people who birthed the term and continue to pass their stillbirth around like a real baby, are the sort of people who name(d) themselves after a fruit that evolved to be eaten by giant ice age sloths, and giant ice age sloths alone, and which is around today simply because ancient humans have cultivated that fruit after they had hunted the giant sloths to extinction – aka, the fruit was the bitch, the giant sloth its pimp. We killed the pimp, and became the bitch’s new pimp instead. People who call themselves after such a weak and unemancipated fruit, should not be allowed to birth any new terminology. 

◆There is no such thing as a superfood. If there were, EVERY human in the history of mankind would know about it, and eat it – with added vanilla taste and as a fish-milkshake.
Every religion would praise it as heavenly/divine shit, despite the fact that the infidels of the other religions (and the atheists) do so too. Every leader – including super racists – would’ve endorsed it, every zealous third-wave feminist would love it, despite the patriarchal (ab)use of “this feminine superfood”.
This isn’t happening at any point in history, what does that tell you?

◆”But, but, but, the western world only now discovered this edible treasure of ancient asian/mezoamerican culture!!!!” But, but, but, Asia traded with Europe throughout history, some medieval, or even ancient greek, discoverer would’ve gotten wind of the pussball berries. After the rapingdiscovery of America some schmuck somewhere would’ve returned with those ratdung-seeds, and we’d consume it daily since the fifteen hundreds. Hasn’t happened. Why?
Exactly.

◆Financial interest. Apples are as much a superfood as those fancy mice droppings from the Mayans, or some berries from central Asia. Fibres, vitamins, energy. But the ice age remnants did not elect this to be their superfood.
Why?
Not fancy enough, not enough money in it. Import that funky snot-berry mousedropping-seed and there’s money in it when you resell it as a superfood.

◆In some weird parallel universe, where the laws of physics do not exist, or work grossly different than here, there may be an odd, misshapen, world where terms that are non-descriptive of reality – like superfood(s) – have a rightful plafe of existence.
But not here.
Here, using this word in a sincere manner, shows just that the user of this, is a cranial ascetic, deprived of any rational thought, completely submerged in nutrional nonsense and woo.

Conclusion:
There are no superfoods.

Take care,
A.

Rings of Fate S1xE7 – Horizon – Company (pt.4)

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Sleep had been catching up to Solomon, like a predator stalking its prey, it fell over him, dragging him in and not releasing him for ten hours. Sharon awaited him with the breakfast, despite the late hour. After having breakfast with her he left for work. Their son had been off to school hours earlier.

“Good day Admiral,” first officer Nikolai Assanov greeted him with a smile, “I was about to send the status report to the other ships.”

“Don’t.” Solomon sighed, “Our harpy had caught on to our language pretty quickly. Perhaps her brethren have too, work it over and delete every and any reference to our Harpy satellite.”

Saluting Nikolai went to work on the report, while Solomon began his shift by going over the status reports of the various stations.

“Wouldn’t this be news worthy for the crew on Ericsson? We’re due to pick them up soon.” Solomon let his tablet computer sink, pondering he stared at the blank view screen. “They’re incapable of handling an encrypted message right now. The Harpies might be able to understand a clear transmission. If something should happen so we can’t pick them up, they’ll wake up on their own and wait it out for Destiny to get them.” With that he returned to his reports, leaving Nikolai to his report.

 

Feeling a burning sensation in his eyes Sven watched the Harpy type on the tablet computer he had handed her. “Why didn’t you dampen the signals?” She had inquired before. It took several attempts on her part because sign language wasn’t Sven’s strong side. “We need to fool your brethren, we’re afraid they’ll detonate right away if we cut you off.” He had replied at last. Seeming to understand the Harpy had set to work.

Certain aspects of engineering never had been her strong side, but she had a basic knowledge of the physics behind the military technologies.

She turned the tablet over to Sven. “Antiphotons?” He exhailed, with his eyebrows raised and forehead in wrinkles.

Trying to recall what the humans meant by the word photon she too pondered for a moment, but finally signaled “yes.”.

Feeling overwhelmed Sven turned his eyes back to the tablet. Equations that made no sense to him seemed to lurk there, ready to take his sanity hostage.

“Can we access the ship?”

Looking at him in a fascinated fashion the Harpy blinked. “Maybe.” Glancing to her young she felt the urge to cry out and attack something. Her loyalties were now torn apart. On one hand she never wanted to betray her people, but on the other she was afraid. Not for herself. Signing up for service meant to be ready to die.

But her young never were asked to commit. “If you give me sensor access, and physical transport, I will access that ship and reign it in.”

 

Narrowed to mere slits Solomon looked at Sven as he reported to him. Johannes sat beside him. “Display security camera footage.” He turned to Jana.

On the wall behind Dr. Håkland the video was displayed. “Notice how she looks to her children,” Johannes sighed. “she is as concerned for them as any mother. Her loyalties lie with them, and their well being.” He grinned. It was a victorious grin. Even though he, or they had not won anything, for the safe keeping of her children she would betray her kin.

 

Solomon sat in the command centre, his eyes fixed on the screen, pieced together from various cameras and sensors on the whisker probes, the outside of the ship, a mosaic of the aft – section was displayed. “Applying the specified filter.” Nikolai stated. Against the black background, here and there a star, a blob appeared. It was more a smudge, like a distortion in the visual feed. But it appeared on all feeds, and it circled the ship around the subgamma ring. “It won’t clear up.” The first officer reported.

“We only need the position, prepare the capsule.” The latter part of his sentence was directed at Sven and Johannes who stood by in subgamma. “You realize that this might not work?” Sven glanced at the Harpy. A stasis chamber that had been damaged during the first encounter with the harpys had been refitted hastily to fit inside the tube that led from the fusion reactor to space.

It was one of several such tubes, designed to vent the plasma from the reactor into space in case anything critical happened. Using the magnetic locks in place to guide the plasma out, the chamber would be shot out into space, directed at the smudge on sensors. Inside the harpy would have limited time to breathe and little maneuverability.

“What do I or we, have to lose?” After gesturing the Harpy climbed inside her capsule. “Call me Hylia.” She signalled before the hatch closed. After all the years she had finally given them her name, another small victory for Johannes, at least something that felt like a victory.

 

Pressed into the hard cushioned bottom of her capsule, Hylia felt forces press her down like she never had felt before. Inertial dampening in the capsule was a luxury not included. After a second she was ejected from the tube, the mammals had a computer calculated trajectory for her to rendezvous with the other ship. Two seconds went by without anything happening.

Reigned in by the magnetic pull of the altered drive in the spy ship her capsule was drawn to the ship. All the time she had her implant active, so the vessel, or its pilot if there was any, would recognise her and let her aboard.

She hoped.

A metallic thud echoed through the narrow interior of the capsule as it hit the ship. Only a narrow part of the ship had become visible to her at that instant.

Just as she had hoped and intended the ship, or its pilot, had pulled the capsule in towards a docking port, while she tried to gain access to the ship, the hatch got opened from the other side. “Nice to see you could escape!” A matron looked at her. “Not that it would do you a lot of good.” Hylia climbed aboard the vessel, it was crammed, narrow, even for their standards. After living aboard the mammalian ship for years now she had gotten used to tall rooms, simulated daylight patterns, even the hinted seasonal changes. Worried she reflected that it seemed a lot more natural to her now than the narrow, low architecture in her kin’s own ships. “What of the other two survivors?”

Supressing a growl Hylia took a deep breath, at least the smell was nicer to her nose. Humas had a very limited sense of smell, at least compared to hers. “There are no survivors, except for me, and the life I carried in me.” With those words she rammed a blade into her fellow harpy, that she quickly had unsheathed from her belt.

As the life was draining out of her Hylia looked down at her dying brethren. “And no one dares threaten my children.”

Quickly she then rushed to the control room, well aware that she was being watched by the ship. With a curious mind and childlike intelligence it followed her every step. “I had no other choice but to kill her, she would’ve never let me stop the overload in your engines.” Hylia sat down at the controls.

After a few moments the antiphotonic cloaking shield vanished around the ship. Satisfied Hylia noticed that this also took some of the strain off the reactor. “Now, don’t work against me, I’ve taken good care of my ship once. Sadly she died. After slipping into a coma due to massive braindamage she couldn’t contain her core. I can take care of you, if you let me.” Something told her that the ship had no idea what she was talking about. “My sisters rigged your core, so that it can’t be contained anymore, but you and I can fix that.” While talking Hylia slowly began shutting the reactor down.

“There, you see?” She got up and strutted across the room, out in the hallway she went for the core room, from an engineering locker she pulled a tool belt.

Feeling strangely complete with it, she looked at the mess her brethren had made of the core. Although it was in the process of shutting down still an excess of energy had to be released. Energy that still threatened to overload the core.

 

Eyes fixed on the screen Solomon watched the small vessel circle the Horizon, twenty minutes earlier it had appeared on top of the capsule that they had shot at it.

Sven and Johannes were present in the command centre as well, the time it had taken them to reach the command centre was the time it had taken the Harpy to turn off the antiphoton shield around the ship. “Her name is Hylia.” Were the first words Johannes had uttered upon entering the room.

Another surprise was brooding in the Doctor. Although they will have picked up four people in a days time, they’d get five lives aboard. But he wanted to wait until the current situation was resolved to tell Solomon that bit of news.

“Another burst.” Nikolai stated, at that moment there was a flash of bright light shot out of the ship into the depths of space, in a right angle to the course of the Horizon. Brooding Solomon watched, was Hylia just releasing energy, or secretly sending messages to her people? “Time?” He barked, a lot more aggressive than intended.

“According to these readings,” Nikolai studied the screen for a few moments, “the eminent threat is dealt with, but she seems to stabilise the engines of the vessel.”

 

War Journal – 1 Swift Wings (ep27)

The building he led her to was a simple home deep.inside a tunnel alley, he found his way there with ease, and navigated inside with even more ease, almost as if he wasn’t blind. Within moments had he gathered a pair of pants, two shirts and undergarments. To her surprise he even.possessed a second pair of shoes. The glazed tiles of the main path reflected the lights from the lanterns. Keeping Liam to her right, away from the wall, Fathala felt an immense weight in her heart. The wall had been scaled. From the inside!Both of hem heard the thrum of a bow, followed by the unmistakable hissing of an arrow plowing through the air. As they turned towards the sound, Fathala felt Liam’s hand slipping out of hers as the boy was knocked back by the arrow. Whlana let lose a second one, killing Liam instantly by piercing his throat. She stood in the open door of one of the battlements. After Liam had fallen to the ground, silently gargling out his breath she let the bow sink. With cold detachment she stared at the dead boy with eyes of mother-of-pearl. That’s not Whlana any longer.”I knew I had seen a blind child here.” her smile was icy cold as her eyes. “And you were right.” Leif stepped into view from the door. “Now you’ll join the people of Fallhus.” Leif raised his right hand, his eyes had begun transforming as well, he too had mother-of-pearl in them, a stone like coldness to his expression. Melting clouds of light flowed from the bane in his hand, a flash took hold of Fathala’s senses. Unable to stop, unable to control anything from her body she slithered towards the two, turning right on top of the wall. Below her thousands of tiny waterfalls from the town fell into he deep, vanishing against rocks and a few bushes, and many hundreds of corpses.

Fathala plunged into the deep.

Icy wind blew around her nose, Fathala felt it also filling her wings. “You idiot.” remembered words echoed through her mind. “These Naga’s wings are designed to keep them in the air, or the water current!” apparently the woman taking hold on Whlana knew sweetwater Naga. Pain shot through her consciousness, an arrow stuck out of her abdomen, the bleeding however had stopped somewhen along her flight.

Around her was nothing but the sweetwater sea, she smelled it. At least I’m somewhere near home and not over salty seas. Enjoying the power of controlling her own body, Fathala folded her wings. The wind of her fall roared in her ears, the water below rushed towards her.

Equally fiercely roaring the waves closed above her, the cold woke the last bits of her body from the mind controlled numbness.Sucking in the cold water through her gills Fathala let herself drift in the currents of the sweetwater sea. He has become strong. Sadly for the wrong cause!

Her stinger touched ground, irritated Fathala swam to the surface. More waterfalls greeted her. But they were north of the sea, and tge currents dragged her to the thundering waters, would carry her south again. I’ve come far. How long was I out? Her hands sought for hold on the granite walls, found some. Clinging to the northern mountains she clumsily opened her clothes wih the other hand, found an obstacle. The arrow. For a little while she had forgotten it was there.

Hoping that it was an unaltered Albin arrow she dug her finger harder against the.rock, as she yanked the arrow from her body. A cry of pain echoed off the walls across the waves. She could smell her own blood, taste it in the back of her throat.

Augmented Reality

The concept of this sounds like the most awesome invention in entertainment, the most innovatve idea in navigation and information ever.

Sounds.
But isn’t.

Plenty of old-schoolers have ripped on “Pokemon Go”. Bashing it with plenty of valid, and not so valid points pf criticism. 

I ain’t gonna chime in to the chorus, either loving or hating it – I don’t care for it.
At all.

Of course, some are blaming the game for the things the game can not be faultet for: our unpreparedness for augmented reality games.
•As individuals some lack the common sense and decency not to walk into hospitals – including ICUs, not to hike over graves on cemeteries, not to wander onto construction sites and fall into open holes in the ground, not to walk into oncoming traffic. I can hardly wait for the first morons to slip into nuclear power plants and get irradiated because a pikachu was hiding there.
Is the game to fault for any of this?
Nope. Human idiocy is.
•There are Pokemon in holocaust memorial sites, in hospitals, on graveyards, etc., preemptively the governments of the countries where this game is available should have told Niantic/Nintendo NOT to put shit there. Especially after the far less known and far less popular game Ingress had faced similar criticisms. Did the people in power learn? Nope. Did the game developers – who built on Ingress – learn? Nope. So at least a partial fault can be passed on to the development team.

We as a society were not prepared, our governments were not prepared, the developers were not prepared.
To some extent we still aren’t.
But this is not the fault of the game.
People, societies and governments were not prepared for TV, cellphones, smartphones or the internet. Some still struggle with that shit altogether. (Especially considering the lack of a coherent and transparent copyright law, eh?)

Faulting the game for exposing our own unpreparedness, our inadequacy to adapt to the new situation, is an escape mechanism.

It frightens us, how stupid people “become” when playing this game, it frightens us even more to know that these people were reckless idiots before, and Pokemon was just the catalyst that brought it to daylight.
It frightens us to see that just this easily a company can develop something – something so immaterial as software even – that turns our view of the world on its head, that makes everything different, that shows us our own inadequacies, and limitations.

It is just the same as saying that violent games make people run amok.
They don’t. These days it is relatively easy to obtain a weapon, if you have those tendencies.
If you have the tendency to run amok, you may still have an inkling of common sense preventing you from doing it at the first impulse, and you are drawn in by the violent games. Did the game make the homicidal maniacs? No. But they gravitated towards them.
Did Pokemon Go make the people stupid? No. It acted as a catalyst and exposed the window lickers as what they are.

Verdict: Not guilty.
Let Pokemon Go, go. Leave it be.

Accept that idiots are everywhere, and lament the fact that we did not turn Augmented Reality into the hottest tourist and learning app of all ages. That we did not turn augmented reality into a sky gazing app.
Be sad that you can’t whip out your phone, direct the camera to the weird cloud in the sky and it tells you what sort of cloud it is, what it means weather wise….and so on. What tree is this? What flower am I looking at? etc.
No we turned augmented reality into a game.
Just a game.

Take care,
A.

Rings of Fate S1xE7 – Horizon – Company (pt.3)

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“Wake up!” Shaken rather violently by his wife Johannes opened his eyes. “We should have reported to Solomon.” She stated with a hint of urgency in her voice. Obviously his expression told of his confusion more than he ever could verbally.

“The magnetic tide I told you about?” Nodding he rubbed the sleep from his eyes. “According to the Harpy there is a ship following us in close proximity.” Suddenly wide awake he jumped off the bed. “How do you know?” A glance at the time told him it was three in the morning.

Wordless she held up her glasses and raised her eyebrows. While gettingn dressed she told him that the hidden ship was a one-seater Harpy stealth ship. Originally for recon missions, but the Harpy in captivity feared that their engines were either faulty or manipulated so the ship functioned much like a bomb.

Johannes cursed the coffee supplement, he yearned for real coffee just as Solomon was. “So now, you think the anomaly in the magnetic field is the alien vessel?” He downed the supplement anyways.

“Yes. What else could it be?”

Hastily the two left their quarters, heading for the tube. “You’re going to engineering?” Surprised that she entered the cab with him he felt the need to ask. “No, meeting with the Admiral, he requested your presence as well.”

 

As soon as Oleksandra had started talking her technological details, Johannes felt lost. From the faces of the other men and women in the meeting he gathered that they felt likewise. With the exception of Sven.

“The tide therefore might be an indication of where the harpy ship is.” Silence followed Oleksandra’s closing statement, as the memebrs of the meeting tried to comprehend what she just had said to them.

“Dr. Håkland?” Solomon turned to Sven, past the screens with the video called elected officials. “We can’t detect a vessel. Not on infrared, visible or ultraviolet sensors, it is also not emitting any other signs of it’s presence, nor reflecting anything.”

Use a magnet then, a compass perhaps? Solomon bit his tongue. “Try to find out where it is, once we have found it, what are the options?”

“We can’t shoot it, if that is what you’re suggesting.” Sven immediately retorted. “Wether it is an engine malfunction or intent, shooting it, even if we could get a weapons lock, would destabilise it even more, possibly detonate it right away.” An eerie silence followed his words.

“Can you remove the implants?” After what seemed an eternity Solomon addressed Johannes. “Not without killing them. Their implant sits deep inside the brain, ours is subdermal. But why don’t we dampen the signal instead?”

Again Sven spoke up, the signal wasn’t the source of the problem, just a symptom, and one they shouldn’t tamper with, for it gave them advanced warning.

Nodding in agreement Solomon sighed, drawing up a representation of the Horizon. A tiny blob was circling it around subgamma. “We need to find out the following, people,” he exhaled. “What distance is the Harpy ship from us, what yield will the detonation have? I want options for disposing of it, and options to repair it and bring it in.”

“Bring it in? Are you mad?” Diane Lexington yelled from her screen, the gamma ring governor seemed quite agitated. “It has probably antimatter and other unstable substances aboard. That stuff was the undoing of the Ark1, we mustn’t lay our unexperienced and obviously incapable hands upon such technology!” Why do I get the feeling she has a bible under her pillow? Johannes mused, waiting for the reply from Solomon. “We could secure important enemy military technology, besides, with our captive Harpy eengineer we do have someone capable and experienced at our disposal.”

“Assuming she’s willing to help.” Governor Gustav Degenhauser from beta ring spoke up. “I concur with my colleague, we mustn’t let this thing nearer to us than it already is.”

The hostile atmosphere oozing from the video calls into the conference room was almost tangible, Johannes felt overwhelmed by it, wondered how Solomon felt. “My dear governors, your offices gave me, or rather my command, emergency ruling for the duration of this crisis. Therefore, any military decision, any decision concerning our safety, is not yours to make. Your objections are duly noted, and I will take them under consideration. But if it should proove feasible to bring this thing under our control, we will do it.”

Enraged Governor Lexington ended her call, greeting the round respectfully, but distantly cool, Governor Degenhauser followed her example.

After exchanging a few pleasantries, including a reassurance of full support in the matter, the last of the governors, Adrian Gilbert, who had managed to get reelected, also left the conference call.

“Joe,” sitting back down Solomon buried his face in his hands, “if that thing should blow, and the ship isn’t torn to shreds, what will the survivors face?”

Stunned Johannes looked to Sven, who slightly shook his head. “Radiation of all sorts, we haven’t got the slightest clue what kind of radiation this thing could set free. Safest place would be in the central tubes” how I hate the very idea of those, “inside the individual rings, or ring remnants.” Nodding Solomon muttered that he already thought likewise. “I’ll get crews to make a habitat there.” Oleksandra offered, the doubt in her voice clearly showing. “But the question of energy would then have to be considered. The fusion reactor would probably go, and the fission reactors would most likely not react well to that beating, and the radiation spilled on them from outside.”

Rubbing his temples by now, Solomon closed his eyes. Clearly he had hardly slept himself.

“Work on solutions, dismissed.”

Hastily all took off, leaving Johannes and Solomon alone. “Trouble sleeping?” Johannes approached his friend. “Is not sleeping trouble with sleeping?”

“I can always drug you. As the chief medical officer aboard I can temporarily relieve you of duty.” Raising his hands to fend off the threat, Solomon sighed that he’d be off to his quarters if Johannes kept his sedatives to himself.

 

Alfons was lying sprawled over half of the bed between Johannes and Oleksandra, his steady breathing had a calming effect on both of their moods, but still sleep eluded them.

“How about an EMP?” Johannes whispered, causing no reaction in the child, “To disable the Harpy ship I mean.”

“Could set off their engines.” Was the breathed reply. “Besides, I think they’re protected against that sort of interference.”

For hours they had passed ideas between them. There was an idea manifesting in Johannes’ mind that he didn’t want to even consider, let alone suggest. Yet his subconscious always returned to it. Why not implant one of the salvaged implants into one of us and direct the Harpys to abandon their plan?

“Think I’m gonna call in sick and take something to sleep.” He pinched his eyes.