Posts tagged ‘generation’

Rings of Fate S3xE4 – Horizon – Confrontations (pt.4)

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The sphere shot out of the front dish of the Horizon, through the vast emptiness between her and the Dhrakal. Quickly a group of fighters descended on it, just as the others regrouped for another attack. “Just as planned.” Jane had a smug expression as the fighters dove into the path of the spherical cab. A bright flash filled the screen, as it subsided the fighters and the cab were obliterated. Already the next cab was shot out of the dish. “We may be considerably low tech, when compared with our enemies here, but sometimes the primitives can be as deadly a foe as the highly developed.” The second cab crashed into the Dhrakal, again it lit up the entire screen.

A giant hole was torn into the side of the Dhrakal, leaking atmosphere and other matter from inside.

From the far side of the ship a series of pods were hastily shot into space. Right away the Harpy fighters from Farkahl and two of Horizon’s fighters went to intercept, and retrieve.

Secondary explosions began to rock the Dhrakal, it would not be long until the ship disintegrated.

“Was it really necessary Admiral?” Ambassador Hylia sat at the table in her quarters, a video link to the command centre displayed Jane sitting in her chair.

“To put nuclear bombs on the cabs before ejecting with ballistic velocity? No. But it won us the battle, and you have one survivalist enemy warship off your hands.” There were Harpies and human fighter pilots being treated for radiation burns, as they had been too close to the detonations.

Before the ambassador had called, Jane had received communiques from the commanders of the two Harpy ships, commending her on the outcome and the technique of the battle. “Another question, ambassador. Surely you know what your people retrived from the escape pods, do you?”

“Of course, why do you ask?” Blinking, and twisting her mouth Jane pressed at the display on her station.

The image at Hylia’s end changed from the Admiral to a hangar. The hangar on subgamma where the fighters landed, the hangars on subalpha where unusable after the attack, what fighter couldn’t land at subgamma, had, had to dock on the skeletal remains of the beta ring.

Two escape pods were in the hangar. From one a kicking and screaming Harpy man was dragged out, the other just sat there.

Open and waiting to be looked inside.

Jane’s voice came on over the image. “That was four hours ago, after they landed. Look what we found in the other escapepod.” The image enhanced. According to the treaty between Horizon on human behalf and the Harpies, spoils of war belonged to who ever could claim it. That was valid for patriarchists and DEHumans equally.

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Rings of Fate S3xE4 – Horizon – Confrontations (pt.3)

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Exiting the tube network Jane found herself in a chaotic mess of engineering staff running around. “Admiral!” Jake’s voice cut through the jumbled noise of dozens of people talking and arguing.

“I didn’t expect to see you here at times like these.”

Confused Jane looked around. “Times like these?” Barely having spoken these words her glasses started buzzing, it was Derek calling her from the command centre.

Another Harpy ship had joined them, on the backboard side, but it was a matriarchy ship, so the alarm had been cancelled, still the engineering crews were abuzz. “They believe a patriarchist attack is imminent. Better get back up here.” He closed the line to instuct cews, as battlestations needed manning if that attack was to take place.

“Jake, I need to get back up there. Before I leave, there was an anomaly in the magnetic field in tube 2, between sections 22 and 21.” Promising her to investigate the matter Jake saw her off, before returning to his duties.

Again there was a bump in the ride, although she had the faulty tube closed off, looking into the matter while waiting to arrive at subalpha she found a few reports had been filed concerning that section in the last half hour.

Before she even left the tube network her glasses began buzzing again. It was the ambassador, probably to inform her of the latest developments concerning the patriarchists.

“Admiral, there is no reason for concern, the Valhak is here to assist in the possibility of a patriarchist attack on your vessel.”

“I know.” Although the alarm had been cancelled, still the hallways were filled with people, heading to, or from, battlestations. A few men and women in pressure suits rushed by, heading to the combat vessels. “We are merely preparing for the same eventuality, besides, I would’ve liked to be noted before hand.”

As she entered the command centre Jane was greeted with a rare sight, a sight she had hoped to never see. Simultaneously alarm sirens began to blare, the hectic in the hallway outside the command centre increased.

Not only where the Valhak and the Farkahl on the screen, but also another Harpy ship. The latter was on an intercept course.

Before anyone could give orders the two Harpy ships flanking the Horizon opened fire on the new arrival.

“Ready the fighters. Gun control, lock target, wait for my command!” Jane sat down, since the assumed patriarchist ship hadn’t been shooting at them, she didn’t want to draw fire on the Horizon by also firing on the Harpy ship.

“That is the Dhrakal accoring to its transponder.” Derek yelled over the noise of several people talking and stating readings of their sensors.

Access to a database of Harpy ships, both friendly and hostile ones, also disclosed that the Dhrakal was very successful warship, matching the Farkahl.

“The only very successful ship the patriarchists have I presume, since they loose on all fronts with the matriarchy.” Jesting Derek looked back at the main viewscreen.

To his horror did he find the Valhak was damaged beyond fighting capabilities. Shields and armor virtually gone, weaponsystems inoperable. Now the patriarchists concentrated their fire on the Farkahl. Both ships dodged enemy fire, or were only grazed by it, returned fire. “Lock on their weaponsystems, and open fire when lock is confirmed.” Stern faced Jane gave the order she had hoped never to give, but with the two warships engaged in a deadly dance of fire and return fire, it was only a matter of time until the Horizon was going to be hit.

“Dhrakal deployed fighters, Valhak and Farkahl are as well!” Most of Valhak’s fighters were unmanned and functioned as shield around the ship, only a small percentage of them were manned and engaged on the enemy fighters.

“Keep ours ready for launch.” Since the DEHumans came and took almost all of the beta ring with them these fighters hadn’t been launched in ernest. Testruns from time to time, to ensure the engines were still working, or that the pilots had been properly trained.

But not in full ernest.

Lasers were discharged from Horizon, the Dhrakal and its crew were taken by surprise, as they cut through their defenses and directionally enforced shields striking right at the weaponsystems of the Harpy ship.

“Reading little damage, they redirected their shields to block further hits from us.” Derek barked the results as if he had truly believed their technology was a match for the Harpies.

Sarisfied with their results Jane watched as the shots fired from Farkahl penetrated the shields hitting the weapons of the patriarchists. “Perfect.” She allowed herself a victorious smirk, but the battle was far from over, as the advancing fighters concentrated on both the Harpy vessel to starboard and Horizon herself.

“Launch.”

Like a swarm of flies rising after being disturbed, two dozen, small one-man vessels flew out of the sides of Horizon’s subalpha and subgamma rings. Changing heading to face the oncoming enemies. “Remember to track your IFFs, I want no friendly fire!” Reminding the pilots of their responsibilities Derek switched their com lines over to flight control in an office two corridors away, as neither he, nor the command centre were equipped to, or capable of, handling all the small ships at once.

“They’re dodging our fighters!”

It was the navigation officer yelling on top of her lungs, she was panicking.

Jane rushed over to her console and stared at the displays.

She was right.

The patriarchists fighters cunningly outmanoeuvred the fighters from Horizon and her protectors, heading straight for the human ship.

“They’re too fast for a proper attack, even with their fancy technology.” Derek stated, he knew what that meant, but didn’t want to believe what his instruments and common sense told him.

“They’re on a suicide run.” Jane stood up straight, the fighters were moving too fast for a weapons lock from the lasers, but still the gunners kept firing at the swarm of incoming fighters, taking out most of them.

Glad that the laser canons had been converted to manual firing instead of the tedious automatic firing, Jane returned to her station. “All hands, brace for impacts.” She barked into her station, screaming out of every communication device on the ship.

Only moments later there were the reverberating sounds and shakes of impacts. A few had hit the forwad facing dish, designed to with stand a nuclear explosion and asteroid impacts, but some made it to subalpha and alpha.

“Casualties, damage, asap!” Jane clenched the armrests of her chair, the sudden shaking of the entire room, half the ship in fact, unsettled her more than she had thought.

Another wave of the suicide fighters was on their way, both friendly Harpies and Horizon fighters had cleared the area around and beyond them, to avoid being hit by Horizon’s lasers.

Again the gunners fired in the general direction of the incoming enemies, taking out a lot of them. Memories of being stuck inside a cab that had been propelled into space came to her mind. As the fighters struck and the ship shook again around her, those memories faded away, making way for reality.

“First wave killed twenty people, thirteen missing, sixty four injured. Eight pods on subalpha, seventeen on alpha shot to pieces. Waiting on reports from scond wave.”

Digging her nails deep into the armrests Jane regretted her next decision already. “Ready the dish.”

Derek looked at her with an empty expression. The dish had at its center an opening through which the nuclear bombs were to be released in case they needed to use the front as as the new propulsion dish.

These bombs were too slow to be used as a weapon, but during her years ascending the ranks and being Admiral, Jane had helped in developing an attack against targets in front of the ship.

“Are you serious?”

“They have a clear path now, they can ascend to ballistic velocities now. Unopposed. But so can we.” She growled those last words.

Deep in the bowles of the ship the tubes of the central spine were cleared of traffic. An extension of the tube, reaching all the way to the dish and the now opened lid, was opened to that tube.

From the alpha ring a spare cab was released into the central tube, and brought to incredible speeds by the magnetic fields.

Rings of Fate S3xE4 – Horizon – Confrontations (pt.2)

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Only minutes after leaving the ambassadorial quarters did the call reach her that a Harpy ship appeared alongside the ship, so her assumption that it had been shadowing Horizon waiting for it to be called in, was confirmed.

Quickly she left beta, heading for her quarters. Sushi, or raw fish dishes served by the Harpies, didn’t quite agree with her, but still she didn’t want to risk a diplomatic faux pas by denying it.

Why Ambassador Hylia couldn’t find taste in prepared food, even the stemcell grown lab meat, like Horizon’s Hylia had, was an issue that puzzled Jane.

Perhaps the ambassador sensed her dislike for raw fish, and it was only served at these dinners? “Honey I’m home!” She tweeted as she entered her quarters. Immediately her perpetual boyfriend Wolfgang greeted her back, their teenage children were no where to be seen.

For once she felt glad over that fact. “The kids are staying with my parents, in case you’ve been wondering.” A benign smile on his lips Wolfgang explained leaning in the door to the toilet.

“Thank you.”

“What’s new?” He nodded understanding her current condition, as she always came home like this from a dinner with the ambassador.

“Harpy warship to starboard, patriarchist threat, potential structural failure following a wobble. You know, business as usual.” Laughing through her pain she cringed.

“Oh, that old hat again.” Wolfgang was uneased by these news, but since Jane wasn’t, he played it off as cool too. “Explain that wobble to me though.” His curiosity got the best of him.

There was a menacing trait to the Harpy ships, Jane had to admit, as she looked at the sensor data gathered of their protector.

Although built for space, and battle in space, they were sleak, aerodynamic vessels, odd angles to refract sensors, unless they were moving slow, or in relation to the scanning source, not at all.

Unlike the Horizon, and her sister ships, the Harpy warships had intricate paint jobs on their exterior, adding to their menacing look. Each one was different, individual.

Reflecting the biological neuro circuits controlling them, each ship was an individual, both in exterior design and in regard to their mind.

“With that thing here, there isn’t a thing daring to attack us.” Derek commented seeing her study the ship. “You might be a bit too young to remember, but the linkers made short progress with these ships. The patriarchists use the same technology, the same design. They surely would dare to attack. Although, I must say, they surely would go for her first, giving us plenty of opportunity to shoot at them.”

The smug expression in her first officer’s face vanished. “Way to kill the mood, Ma’am.” Winking he retreated to his post.

She watched him leave for his console. It was ages that she had spent at that station. It also seemed like ages since she last had worked there.

Shaking off the nostalgic feelings, she looked at the ship to their starboard. Her name was Farkahl, and according to the information that Ambassador Hylia had released to her, the Farkahl had seen plenty of battles, and always was victorious.

Since the brain operating the ship was capable of learning, and possessed a strong will to survive, only the first few battles were won by her crew, soon the brain took over. She wanted to live, wanted to win, wanted to conquer.

A true warrior.

Once Jane had spoken with Horizon’s Hylia about the brains on the Harpy ships. She wanted to know how they were made, how they first came to be.

The latter was beyond the old Hapry’s knowledge. Brains in ships had been in use for so long, no one could remember who first implemented them, where the brains first came from. Since Harpy specific medication worked on the brain matter as well, it stood to reason that it had been a Harpy donating her brain, or parts of it.

“When a ship is ready to procreate it will form a series of ovuli, and sacks of seed. Another ship, ready for procreation must be found, and the two will exchange their seeds and ovuli. The then fertilised ovuli are taken to special facilities in our shipyards. Where they will, sooner or later, be implemented into a ship. That can either be a new one without a brain, or one wherein the brain had died.”

Recalling those words made Jane shudder. Just the thought of being an incorporeal brain implanted into the husk of one that had died before gave her the creeps.

Her eyes kept studying the Farkahl. This magnificent warrior surely was a prime specimen for cultivating new ship brains.

Other than the ship to starboard, it was another quiet day. Followed by another.

After a week of quiet days Jane began to suspect that the ambassador was more interested in showing presence than actual concerns from patriarchists, after all the DEHumans had long range sensor capacity beyond what Horizon could ever hope to achieve, especially with their shipyard ahead of them. It was possibly even greater than what the Harpies had at their disposal.

As suspected, the governors were not keen on the idea of transferring pods to beta. They each engaged a corps of scientists and engineers to investigate Jake’s scenario. Again Jane believed it was due to the Harpy presence on beta, that even her proposal of shared jurisdiction was dismissed.

Their xenophobic distrust of Harpies was hard to overcome, all Jane was left with, was to hope their scientists came up with the same conclusions as Jake, if that didn’t happen she could force them, by temporarily overruling them. A step she was prepared to take if it meant bringing the ship safely to its destination, even though she didn’t like that option.

Sitting strapped into the chair of the cab Jane travelled to subgamma, she wanted to speak to Jake again, when she noticed a bump in the weightless ride.

“Computer! Halt.” She turned her glasses on. “Location.”

“Beta ring, section 22.” That was shortly after a siphon section. “Analyse cab log for anomalies in the magnetic field guiding the cab.”

A field anomaly was displayed on her glasses. When she asked the computer to analyse the cause for the field variation she got an error.

Saving the findings to her glasses she continued on her way, and had the tube locked, as there were two additional tubes tu be used.

Rings of Fate S3xE4 – Horizon – Confrontations (pt.1)

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It was a quiet day on Horizon’s command centre. Admiral Jane Mulgrew liked those days. But didn’t trust them.

On a normal day there would be something. One of the two governors being a pain in the neck, jurisdictional disputes that needed settling, Harpy ambassadors complaining about something, or informing her of something else.

Ever since Hylia had passed away, with the express wish to be cremated on Horizon, and treated like a human, as she was part of the ecosystem on board, as she had put it, there was a permanent ambassador from the Harpies.

Jane had soon seen the pro’s of that.

Now Horizon had access to Harpy transponder signals, like the human IFF signals, in order to weed out any potential patriarchist ships approaching.

There was a ship docked at what remained of beta, functioning like a sensor beacon, boosting the long range scan capabilities of Horizon.

According to the treaty she had helped draft, there was to be no exchange of technologies, especially from the Harpies to the humans, but using the Harpy ship to function as an extension to Horizon’s sensors was within the treaty regulations, and even suggested by the matriarchy.

“Ma’am?” Jane felt a glimmer of hope that the quietness would find an end as her first officer approached her. “Next week’s duty roster.” Derek Harvey handed her a tablet. Hope faded away.

“Thank you.” She sighed, looked over the tables and nodded in approval. “And the ambassador asked for a confirmation on dinner plans.” Hope found a nice little corner to hide and disappeared completely. “Tell her that I will be joining as suggested by her office.” A group of twenty five Harpies resided on the beta ring.

Part of the garden was redesigned to their needs, their offices and quarters adjacent to them. Guards of both species stood at the entrance to their section, to ensure that nothing went awry.

Including methods to ensure the absence of any cloaked suicide patriarchists.

“Hey, anybody up for a little problem solving?” Jane sat in the mess hall munching on her lunch when the chief engineer sat down at her table, ending her lnch hour of solitude. “Any time Jake.” Shoving her lunch aside Jane was glad that her hopes had found a way out of their hiding spot, in form of the chief engineer, Jake Khaku. “We soon will enter the solar system, I’ve been doing a few calculations.” He tapped his glasses, sending her some data to her glasses. “When we will start slamming those breaks, we might encounter a wobble, due to the missing mass mid ship.” The displayed ship on her glasses started to wiggle.

“Up to a critical point.” The displayed Horizon broke apart, alpha and subalpha flying on in an odd angle to the previous heading, gamma and subgamma in another.

Although her hopes for variety had fulfilled, what broke the monotony made her long for monotony again.

Staring through the virtual devastation of Horizon at Jake, Jane knew where this was headed. And she knew she would have a hard time selling the yet unproposed idea to the governors. “You said we might encounter this problem?”

“If we redistribute mass we definitely won’t.”

“I’ve been Admiral for some time now, why hasn’t anybody ever come to me, or my predecessors with this?” Jane turned the display off. Knowing Jake, Jane could imagine what the answer would be, before he even opened his mouth.

“Because it is a possibility. It might not happen at all, but I have reviewed our course, and it takes us damn close to the Jovian monstrosity we call ES-p296. The gravitational tug we can get from that might set in motion the wobble, since we’re slowing down, we’ll be in that gravitational sphere longer, and there’s the moons!” He paused, lowering his voice. “We shouldn’t risk it. Before we enter the heliosphere of the system, we should redistribute the mass.”

“You know, Jake, that’s easy in simulations, but the governors would want to roast me on an open fire and feed me to the Harpies if I suggested it!” Tucking a strain of hair behind her ear she looked to her plate, somehow she found she wasn’t hungry anymore. “You can deal with those people? These pencil pushers want to live, and they want to arrive in one piece, don’t they? If we do not redistribute, there is the chance we might not arrive. Alive, in pieces or otherwise.”

Telling him she’d need more data, especially to present the governors with some evidence, Jane got up from her seat, left.

At least it wasn’t a dull mundane day any more. The display showed again the possible outcome of the gravitational tugs from ES-p296 and its moons.

She would have Derek draft a small memo to the governors about the subject. Convincing them to either give up parts of their rings to form a new beta ring, or share jurisdiction, even if it was for just the two years they’d need to complete their journey once inside the solar system, would not be easy.

Especially if there was a chance it might not come to the catastrophe at all.

As usual the Harpy quarters were damp, and not lit as brightly as Jane was used to. Ambassador Hylia sat at the small table they set up for receiving guests. At first there had been some confusion, regarding the name of the ambassador, but apparently Hylia was a popular name, and after the humans began referring to her as “Ambassador Hylia” and called the other one “Horizon Hylia”, confusion quieted down.

“Thank you for joining me this evening.” Computerised words reached Jane’s ears. “It is my pleasue, Ambassador. To what do I owe the honor of this meeting?”

There never was just a casual dinner with ambassador Hylia, it always had a purpose. Flashing her teeth in a Harpy smile Hylia took up a piece of fish. “There is reason to assume that Horizon is in danger.” I knew there was a catch. “From what source?” If you say structural imperfections, I just have all leverage I need to get the governors to agree to redistribution of pods.

“Patriarchists.” Stopping for a moment while chewing on a piece of sushi, Jane looked the ambassador dead in the eye.

For decades there had been no mention of them. Not once had a spy or saboteur been apprehended, or detected. “Why’s that all of a sudden?” Jane finally found words again.

“They are losing everywhere else they engage us. Your ship is the only thing they know we protect, and that is vulnerable. With your permission however, we would like to bring in a warship.”

Squinting at the Harpy at the other end of the table Jane knew that one was already in range. It shadowed Horizon, somewhere barely outside sensor range. Although that is boosted by the Harpy ship docked on beta, the ship following them probably had better sensors than the small ambassadorial ship. “If I refuse that might spell disaster for my ship, let alone the diplomatic consequences in case we make it through this alive. Correct?”

Again Hylia displayed her smile. “Why would we punish you? We would protect ourselves, meaning we all would leave, but if you survive any potential encounter with the patriarchists, we wouldn’t be cross with you.”

Lie. “In any case, ambassador, your warship would be more than welcome to follow this ship around and protect us from those who wish to harm us.” She toasted the ambassador with a glass of water.

With Horizon’s Hylia, she had once discussed alcohol amongst Harpies, discovering that they liked to drink fermented beverages, but only in moderation, and with close friends. If it hadn’t been fermented, juices of any sort were only a drink for the juvenile, the senile and celebrations.

Or to survive, if clean water was unavailable, but plenty of fruit.

Rings of Fate S3xE4 – Horizon – Confrontations (pt.1)

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It was a quiet day on Horizon’s command centre. Admiral Jane Mulgrew liked those days. But didn’t trust them.

On a normal day there would be something. One of the two governors being a pain in the neck, jurisdictional disputes that needed settling, Harpy ambassadors complaining about something, or informing her of something else.

Ever since Hylia had passed away, with the express wish to be cremated on Horizon, and treated like a human, as she was part of the ecosystem on board, as she had put it, there was a permanent ambassador from the Harpies.

Jane had soon seen the pro’s of that.

Now Horizon had access to Harpy transponder signals, like the human IFF signals, in order to weed out any potential patriarchist ships approaching.

There was a ship docked at what remained of beta, functioning like a sensor beacon, boosting the long range scan capabilities of Horizon.

According to the treaty she had helped draft, there was to be no exchange of technologies, especially from the Harpies to the humans, but using the Harpy ship to function as an extension to Horizon’s sensors was within the treaty regulations, and even suggested by the matriarchy.

“Ma’am?” Jane felt a glimmer of hope that the quietness would find an end as her first officer approached her. “Next week’s duty roster.” Derek Harvey handed her a tablet. Hope faded away.

“Thank you.” She sighed, looked over the tables and nodded in approval. “And the ambassador asked for a confirmation on dinner plans.” Hope found a nice little corner to hide and disappeared completely. “Tell her that I will be joining as suggested by her office.” A group of twenty five Harpies resided on the beta ring.

Part of the garden was redesigned to their needs, their offices and quarters adjacent to them. Guards of both species stood at the entrance to their section, to ensure that nothing went awry.

Including methods to ensure the absence of any cloaked suicide patriarchists.

“Hey, anybody up for a little problem solving?” Jane sat in the mess hall munching on her lunch when the chief engineer sat down at her table, ending her lnch hour of solitude. “Any time Jake.” Shoving her lunch aside Jane was glad that her hopes had found a way out of their hiding spot, in form of the chief engineer, Jake Khaku. “We soon will enter the solar system, I’ve been doing a few calculations.” He tapped his glasses, sending her some data to her glasses. “When we will start slamming those breaks, we might encounter a wobble, due to the missing mass mid ship.” The displayed ship on her glasses started to wiggle.

“Up to a critical point.” The displayed Horizon broke apart, alpha and subalpha flying on in an odd angle to the previous heading, gamma and subgamma in another.

Although her hopes for variety had fulfilled, what broke the monotony made her long for monotony again.

Staring through the virtual devastation of Horizon at Jake, Jane knew where this was headed. And she knew she would have a hard time selling the yet unproposed idea to the governors. “You said we might encounter this problem?”

“If we redistribute mass we definitely won’t.”

“I’ve been Admiral for some time now, why hasn’t anybody ever come to me, or my predecessors with this?” Jane turned the display off. Knowing Jake, Jane could imagine what the answer would be, before he even opened his mouth.

“Because it is a possibility. It might not happen at all, but I have reviewed our course, and it takes us damn close to the Jovian monstrosity we call ES-p296. The gravitational tug we can get from that might set in motion the wobble, since we’re slowing down, we’ll be in that gravitational sphere longer, and there’s the moons!” He paused, lowering his voice. “We shouldn’t risk it. Before we enter the heliosphere of the system, we should redistribute the mass.”

“You know, Jake, that’s easy in simulations, but the governors would want to roast me on an open fire and feed me to the Harpies if I suggested it!” Tucking a strain of hair behind her ear she looked to her plate, somehow she found she wasn’t hungry anymore. “You can deal with those people? These pencil pushers want to live, and they want to arrive in one piece, don’t they? If we do not redistribute, there is the chance we might not arrive. Alive, in pieces or otherwise.”

Telling him she’d need more data, especially to present the governors with some evidence, Jane got up from her seat, left.

At least it wasn’t a dull mundane day any more. The display showed again the possible outcome of the gravitational tugs from ES-p296 and its moons.

She would have Derek draft a small memo to the governors about the subject. Convincing them to either give up parts of their rings to form a new beta ring, or share jurisdiction, even if it was for just the two years they’d need to complete their journey once inside the solar system, would not be easy.

Especially if there was a chance it might not come to the catastrophe at all.

As usual the Harpy quarters were damp, and not lit as brightly as Jane was used to. Ambassador Hylia sat at the small table they set up for receiving guests. At first there had been some confusion, regarding the name of the ambassador, but apparently Hylia was a popular name, and after the humans began referring to her as “Ambassador Hylia” and called the other one “Horizon Hylia”, confusion quieted down.

“Thank you for joining me this evening.” Computerised words reached Jane’s ears. “It is my pleasue, Ambassador. To what do I owe the honor of this meeting?”

There never was just a casual dinner with ambassador Hylia, it always had a purpose. Flashing her teeth in a Harpy smile Hylia took up a piece of fish. “There is reason to assume that Horizon is in danger.” I knew there was a catch. “From what source?” If you say structural imperfections, I just have all leverage I need to get the governors to agree to redistribution of pods.

“Patriarchists.” Stopping for a moment while chewing on a piece of sushi, Jane looked the ambassador dead in the eye.

For decades there had been no mention of them. Not once had a spy or saboteur been apprehended, or detected. “Why’s that all of a sudden?” Jane finally found words again.

“They are losing everywhere else they engage us. Your ship is the only thing they know we protect, and that is vulnerable. With your permission however, we would like to bring in a warship.”

Squinting at the Harpy at the other end of the table Jane knew that one was already in range. It shadowed Horizon, somewhere barely outside sensor range. Although that is boosted by the Harpy ship docked on beta, the ship following them probably had better sensors than the small ambassadorial ship. “If I refuse that might spell disaster for my ship, let alone the diplomatic consequences in case we make it through this alive. Correct?”

Again Hylia displayed her smile. “Why would we punish you? We would protect ourselves, meaning we all would leave, but if you survive any potential encounter with the patriarchists, we wouldn’t be cross with you.”

Lie. “In any case, ambassador, your warship would be more than welcome to follow this ship around and protect us from those who wish to harm us.” She toasted the ambassador with a glass of water.

With Horizon’s Hylia, she had once discussed alcohol amongst Harpies, discovering that they liked to drink fermented beverages, but only in moderation, and with close friends. If it hadn’t been fermented, juices of any sort were only a drink for the juvenile, the senile and celebrations.

Or to survive, if clean water was unavailable, but plenty of fruit.

Rings of Fate S3xE4 – Horizon – Confrontations (pt.1)

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It was a quiet day on Horizon’s command centre. Admiral Jane Mulgrew liked those days. But didn’t trust them.

On a normal day there would be something. One of the two governors being a pain in the neck, jurisdictional disputes that needed settling, Harpy ambassadors complaining about something, or informing her of something else.

Ever since Hylia had passed away, with the express wish to be cremated on Horizon, and treated like a human, as she was part of the ecosystem on board, as she had put it, there was a permanent ambassador from the Harpies.

Jane had soon seen the pro’s of that.

Now Horizon had access to Harpy transponder signals, like the human IFF signals, in order to weed out any potential patriarchist ships approaching.

There was a ship docked at what remained of beta, functioning like a sensor beacon, boosting the long range scan capabilities of Horizon.

According to the treaty she had helped draft, there was to be no exchange of technologies, especially from the Harpies to the humans, but using the Harpy ship to function as an extension to Horizon’s sensors was within the treaty regulations, and even suggested by the matriarchy.

“Ma’am?” Jane felt a glimmer of hope that the quietness would find an end as her first officer approached her. “Next week’s duty roster.” Derek Harvey handed her a tablet. Hope faded away.

“Thank you.” She sighed, looked over the tables and nodded in approval. “And the ambassador asked for a confirmation on dinner plans.” Hope found a nice little corner to hide and disappeared completely. “Tell her that I will be joining as suggested by her office.” A group of twenty five Harpies resided on the beta ring.

Part of the garden was redesigned to their needs, their offices and quarters adjacent to them. Guards of both species stood at the entrance to their section, to ensure that nothing went awry.

Including methods to ensure the absence of any cloaked suicide patriarchists.

“Hey, anybody up for a little problem solving?” Jane sat in the mess hall munching on her lunch when the chief engineer sat down at her table, ending her lnch hour of solitude. “Any time Jake.” Shoving her lunch aside Jane was glad that her hopes had found a way out of their hiding spot, in form of the chief engineer, Jake Khaku. “We soon will enter the solar system, I’ve been doing a few calculations.” He tapped his glasses, sending her some data to her glasses. “When we will start slamming those breaks, we might encounter a wobble, due to the missing mass mid ship.” The displayed ship on her glasses started to wiggle.

“Up to a critical point.” The displayed Horizon broke apart, alpha and subalpha flying on in an odd angle to the previous heading, gamma and subgamma in another.

Although her hopes for variety had fulfilled, what broke the monotony made her long for monotony again.

Staring through the virtual devastation of Horizon at Jake, Jane knew where this was headed. And she knew she would have a hard time selling the yet unproposed idea to the governors. “You said we might encounter this problem?”

“If we redistribute mass we definitely won’t.”

“I’ve been Admiral for some time now, why hasn’t anybody ever come to me, or my predecessors with this?” Jane turned the display off. Knowing Jake, Jane could imagine what the answer would be, before he even opened his mouth.

“Because it is a possibility. It might not happen at all, but I have reviewed our course, and it takes us damn close to the Jovian monstrosity we call ES-p296. The gravitational tug we can get from that might set in motion the wobble, since we’re slowing down, we’ll be in that gravitational sphere longer, and there’s the moons!” He paused, lowering his voice. “We shouldn’t risk it. Before we enter the heliosphere of the system, we should redistribute the mass.”

“You know, Jake, that’s easy in simulations, but the governors would want to roast me on an open fire and feed me to the Harpies if I suggested it!” Tucking a strain of hair behind her ear she looked to her plate, somehow she found she wasn’t hungry anymore. “You can deal with those people? These pencil pushers want to live, and they want to arrive in one piece, don’t they? If we do not redistribute, there is the chance we might not arrive. Alive, in pieces or otherwise.”

Telling him she’d need more data, especially to present the governors with some evidence, Jane got up from her seat, left.

At least it wasn’t a dull mundane day any more. The display showed again the possible outcome of the gravitational tugs from ES-p296 and its moons.

She would have Derek draft a small memo to the governors about the subject. Convincing them to either give up parts of their rings to form a new beta ring, or share jurisdiction, even if it was for just the two years they’d need to complete their journey once inside the solar system, would not be easy.

Especially if there was a chance it might not come to the catastrophe at all.

As usual the Harpy quarters were damp, and not lit as brightly as Jane was used to. Ambassador Hylia sat at the small table they set up for receiving guests. At first there had been some confusion, regarding the name of the ambassador, but apparently Hylia was a popular name, and after the humans began referring to her as “Ambassador Hylia” and called the other one “Horizon Hylia”, confusion quieted down.

“Thank you for joining me this evening.” Computerised words reached Jane’s ears. “It is my pleasue, Ambassador. To what do I owe the honor of this meeting?”

There never was just a casual dinner with ambassador Hylia, it always had a purpose. Flashing her teeth in a Harpy smile Hylia took up a piece of fish. “There is reason to assume that Horizon is in danger.” I knew there was a catch. “From what source?” If you say structural imperfections, I just have all leverage I need to get the governors to agree to redistribution of pods.

“Patriarchists.” Stopping for a moment while chewing on a piece of sushi, Jane looked the ambassador dead in the eye.

For decades there had been no mention of them. Not once had a spy or saboteur been apprehended, or detected. “Why’s that all of a sudden?” Jane finally found words again.

“They are losing everywhere else they engage us. Your ship is the only thing they know we protect, and that is vulnerable. With your permission however, we would like to bring in a warship.”

Squinting at the Harpy at the other end of the table Jane knew that one was already in range. It shadowed Horizon, somewhere barely outside sensor range. Although that is boosted by the Harpy ship docked on beta, the ship following them probably had better sensors than the small ambassadorial ship. “If I refuse that might spell disaster for my ship, let alone the diplomatic consequences in case we make it through this alive. Correct?”

Again Hylia displayed her smile. “Why would we punish you? We would protect ourselves, meaning we all would leave, but if you survive any potential encounter with the patriarchists, we wouldn’t be cross with you.”

Lie. “In any case, ambassador, your warship would be more than welcome to follow this ship around and protect us from those who wish to harm us.” She toasted the ambassador with a glass of water.

With Horizon’s Hylia, she had once discussed alcohol amongst Harpies, discovering that they liked to drink fermented beverages, but only in moderation, and with close friends. If it hadn’t been fermented, juices of any sort were only a drink for the juvenile, the senile and celebrations.

Or to survive, if clean water was unavailable, but plenty of fruit.

Rings of Fate S3xE3 – Explorer – Settlement (pt.4)

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“Touching, yet uplifting, words, Admiral.” Joan Charles thanked him, after the ceremony. “Just like she would’ve liked it.”

Charles nodded, but soon left them.

He wandered up to the end of the road. It took him a quarter of an hour to navigate the corners, alleys and major streets. The majority of alloted spaces were still vacant, as Horizon and Destiny, together with Kismet, were still due to arrive.

Most of the time it took him to reach his destination was consumed walking up the narrow, straight road to his alotted spot.

Standing over the empty lot where his small military pod should land was Jeannine. She stared out into the distance of the river.

“What brings you to my corner of the woods?” Dean stopped next to her.

A sad smile appeared on her face. “I helped my gran to prospect the land, she made it look like she helped me, but it was her work. She was head of the whole operation from the beginning.” Knowingly Dean nodded, his hands in his pockets.

“I’m glad she’s dead. Not because finally I can shine, if it was just that, she could live for another hundred years.” Dean’s expression darkened, there was something on the metaphoric horizon he didn’t like. “Why’s it then you’re glad?”

“The planet can’t properly feed us.” Jeannine turned to him, tears ran down her face. “The probes had not detected this, they scanned for nutrients in general, not analysing thoroughly enough to tell us this, but close to nothing on this planet produces, or uses Lysine.” She paused for a second seeing the Admiral’s confused expression.

“It’s an amino acid. We need it to survive, to live. If she had known, her heart would have been broken.”

Slowly Dean felt the relief that Jeannine had mentioned take hold of him too. “Food supplements?” He asked looking out over the waters too.

“Aye. We’ll issue the report tomorrow.” Wiping away the tears Jeannine turned away to walk back to the settlement center. “Doc? Draft something else for your report.” Puzzled she glanced over her shoulder. “An agricultural exclave.” He needed not elaborate in detail. The volcanic islands on the far side of the planet, isolated from the natives and larger ecosystems, were the only possible spot on the planet for such an endeavour.

“Aye, might take an additional day or two.” Acknowledging this Dean just nodded, without looking at her.

Surely the governors would want to put the blame on him, and the provisional government of the colony would do the same.

Since he intended to end his career sooner or later anyway, he didn’t dread their blame. It only meant he could land sooner. Settle down sooner.

He looked at the blue sky, the bright yellow sun.

No. There would be absolutely no problem in being accused of something career ending in the lysine case.