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Broken Dagger

 
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Savant



Joined: 24 Aug 2006
Posts: 355
Location: Rangstadt, Allied Europe, Earth, NEC

PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2007 5:00 am    Post subject: Broken Dagger Reply with quote

Drones are a vital part of modern spacefaring society. They are tireless, efficient, devilishly clever, and most importantly, require nothing in the way of life support. Humans, on the other hand, are weak, inefficient, often foolish, and most importantly, require vast amounts of resources - all to do nothing more than to generate vast amounts of waste. Any society that can make drones more clever and more able to replace that ethereal function of the human mind will certainly put these drones to use, and will be better for it. there are drones for every task in space. For piloting. For engineering. For environmental support. For logistics. For cooking.

For killing.

Strange, that, really. Drones - computerized automata designed for specific functions - designed to end life, human life, real life. Yet still the majority of them never live up to their objectives. They kill only other drones, such is their population in space and the sparseness of human life in the black. One has to wonder - do they bemoan that fate? Certainly a drone, which is a fantastically complex collection of algorithms, can feel some amount of emotion. The average drone has the mental facility of a bird, it is suggested, and these creatures can feel basic urges. So to it is with the drones, some feel. Do these murder-drones feel saddened that their targets are only automata as they are? Do they yearn for the satisfying knowledge of the deaths of real humans, milliseconds before their detonations and demise?

The two Skags must have felt very frustrated. A veritable army of drones swarmed out from their stations and their hiding spots, and their electronic eyes were filled with the barrages of automated sentry points. The two Terranovan digital saboteurs were clever things, far more clever than the average automata, but they were not human - nor were they superhuman. They survived through wit and guile and sheer force; their electronic warfare suites were as important as their maneuvering jets as they struggled to close the gap.

Before too long the Skags had encountered resistance so thick that their dim survival routines knew that getting closer was impossible. Still, they must have been somewhat satisfied by the culmination of their synthetic little lives. The facility was within reach even if the flagship was not, and if they were lucky, perhaps there would even be humans within the fanfare of their demise.


-----


The white halo of light clung to the multi-legged spider which was the Monolith station, or at least the representation of it. It was only a trideo image suspended above a broad mohogany table - *real* mohogany - but that image held all of the same terror and foreboding as the real event some four hours ago. The same image was being played, again and again, across trideo and video screens all across the Cat's Eye trench. Fear was unifying the Capricians in a way that no market forces ever could

Behind and below the image, the craggy face of Veda Winthrop seemed like a statue. Pale, thin, gaunt; the Admiral was unmoving and stern, every bit the unyielding hero of ages past. He was a veteran of the most bloody and brutal war humanity had ever seen, and had been instrumental in ensuring that his state, his People, were victorious in that generational campaign. Now he was here, on Caprice, fighting that same war across a dozen battlefields in ways he had never imagined he ever would. The Caprician's battlefield was in the stock exchange, the Atlanteans underwater, the Terra Novans apparently fought their battles anywhere that they could. Even in the orbit of Caprice.

"This is a grave matter." He stated matter-of-factly to the assembled Chairpersons and Colonial Board members. That much was obvious. No one else spoke.

"This is a grave matter, and one which must be addressed. The Terra Novan problem is threatening to get out of hand."

It already had. The attacks out in the belt were one thing - how long before they were striking against Paladin Lots itself, or worse - how long before they attempted to push through the Gate to Earth? Most Talon teams were skilled but not tremendously so, but there were a few that seemed nearly unbeatable. It was simply too hard to pin them down.

"The CEF will not tolerate any further divisiveness with regards to federal security in this matter. I am placing Lieutenant Colonel Rasuul in charge of dealing with the recent upswing in Terranovan insurgence. You will - you *all* will - comply with her to the utmost."

He nodded at the dark haired, scarred woman. She stood at the back of the room like a wraith; pale round face with one milky white eye, framed with a tattered black halo of hair. The few Corporates who glanced back to her shuddered at her baleful countenance. The CID commander actually smiled briefly instead. There was no one who loved Earth more, and no one who loved the Black Talons less.

"Each of you," He turned his attention to the corporates in specific, "has been very helpful in making your repatriation as smooth as possible. We expect the same. Enthusiasm in defending the People will be rewarded, and *your* people will be rewarded. Let them all know that we all need to work together to keep this" He glanced up at the floating Monolith station, besmirched with the white nuclear flare, "from happening again."

"The Lieutenant Colonel will be coming to speak with each of you at a schedule of her choosing. Give her what she asks. Together we *can* ensure the stability of Gomorrah, Caprice and the Loki system. That's all for me. Lieutenant Colonel, I understand you wanted to speak with everyone right now as well?"

Rasuul smiled to herself as she stepped out into the dim light near the board table. Outside, Monolith was a gleaming dagger with a broken tip in the sky.


-----


Agnes clenched her teeth so hard that her jaw was throbbing. Sweat dribbled down her forehead and throat, she was wet and sore and smelly and dear Prophet, did it hurt. The pain in her jaw was nothing in comparison to the terrible stabbing pain in her arm and side. All of the painkillers in the world couldn't do anything to blunt Pathfinders' brutal assault on her injuries.

It wasn't really Pathfinder, though, to be fair. She could never get upset at the girl anyways, not for long. She might swear at her black bird at times, but she loved the Fury as dearly as any pilot ever loved a craft. So she could only grunt and sweat and let the tears trickle down her cheeks behind her helmet as the craft made its descent. They were tumbling in their plummet right now, tumbling as an asteroid might as they travelled along with the shower of rock. No ping, no heat; they were good. If only they were low enough to level out and let the tremendous G forces subside.

Beside and just behind her, Doctor Trembley looked on in concern. "Do you want something for the pain?" she could hear his voice through her helmet's radio. She shook her head once and grunted again as her head swam. He was unable to get up to give her any injections, and she wanted to stay as clear headed as she was able to right now - no drugs.

Instead, she barked out an order through teeth that were still clenched. "Peresalona. Altitude. I want to start levelling off at twenty five hundred meters."

"You bet, skip! Thirty second burn at Alt Two-Fife-Zero-Zero meters, level at Alt One-Two-Fife-Zero meters." Aggie grinned and choked on a laugh. Jeremi was always cheeful. No doubt he was loving this - the badlander probably pulled stunts like this all the time back in the Karaq Wastes with that jalopy of a plane he was in love with. She hoped that he remembered that Pathfinder was no aircraft, and this place had no appreciable atmosphere when it came to bottle rockets like the Fury.

"Don't get us all killed, Jeremi," she mumbled under her breath as her vision swam again. Despite it, she hadn't any worries. They were in good hands.
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