Welcome to the Polaris Calendar

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Welcome to the Polaris Calendar

Postby djmor » Wed May 13, 2015 6:18 pm

Link to the hosting blog: https://cheapmfz.wordpress.com/2015/05/ ... -calendar/

Welcome to the Polaris Calendar.


Centuries have passed since the Solar Union was born and died. The Jovian Empire rose from its ashes. Earth was left an empty shell of a planet, the poorest of people living in squalor and decay, and the uninhabited planets of the Sol System have been destroyed. The Empire required many millions and billions of tonnes of metal to complete their grand idea : the unification of the far-spread human race. At this point in time it would require dozens of small gate jumps to reach one side of Regno Hominum from the other, and many days of waiting at each gate for the queues to finish before you could go through. The Empire had dissent to quash. They needed a way to bring their warships to bare in a manner that would not allow the common guerilla tactics of the Rebel Colonies continued success.

The advent of Project Prometheus solved all of their problems. However, it required more material than any planet could provide and so required new technology to bring it to completion. The Empire’s technocrats developed a new type of mobile frame piloted by a basic virtual intelligence (VI). This allowed a single human to do the work of four, five or even six frame pilots, by controlling frame VI from their own centralised location. Mobile frames can be retrofitted to include the new VI by inserting a “Corpore” shell into the pilot’s seat. The shell comes preloaded with the “Sine Anima” VI that allows the frame commander to pilot the frame from a distance. Particularly skilled commanders can pilot several at once, fourteen being the highest recorded by the technocrats during their military testing and that by an Ijad/Human pair bond. Sine Anima has allowed industrialists of all stripes to reduce their workforces, which has been seen as either a blessing or a curse depending on which side of the workforce a person is on.

Meanwhile, the Terran Transit Authority has become a veritable juggernaut of the transport industry. They have acquired ownership of nearly all of the gates across Regno Hominum by outspending all other companies and have purchased a massive number of starship-focused corporations. The TTA is now a de facto monopoly across Jovian-controlled space when it comes to the purchase of starships, including those used by the military itself. Unsurprisingly, the TTA released a new form of propulsion that allowed the crossing of a star system in record time: Resonant cavity thrusters. Trips that used to take hundreds of days now take as little as a tenth as long. The Jovian Military took full advantage of this new technology to position itself as the protectors of multiple planets per system allowing themselves to spread out over more systems. All in the name of protecting humans from terrorist threats. The TTA wanted to release this new thruster to the public, but the Martian Military Council refused them the right to do so on the grounds that it was a military technology. Even though the transit gates are highly congested from intra-system use and queues are sometimes weeks long, the TTA had to grudgingly abide by the wishes of the Council.

Sine Anima has allowed the next step of the Prometheus Project to move forward. Full tilt asteroid processing has begun since the number of skilled workers necessary to perform it have been drastically reduced. Frame commanders now sit safely inside a ship without being challenged by the rigours of the vacuum and no longer risk death or dismemberment by the tools that are used to cut into, smelt and pour metals directly on even the smallest of asteroids. When the Jovian Empire concluded that they needed more material than was available in asteroids, they of course turned to the colonies. Unfortunately, many of the colonies were no longer interested in sending their important resources back to Sol due to the aggressive expansion that was happening in their own homes and systems. Many of what used to be simple colony worlds flourished into planet-states that demanded that their rights as sovereign entities be upheld. Unfortunately, most of them did not have a personal military force and were using Empire soldiers as police. This was not conducive to success at the bargaining table. Those that managed to throw off the yoke of the Jovian Empire joined the ranks of the Rebel Colonies, and those that failed were put back to work.

The Jovian Empire stripped their home system of all available minerals, destroying entire planets to mine the asteroid clouds that were created. They planned on harvesting the energy from the largest, and of course most easily accessible, nuclear fusion reactor available. For that, they built a shell around the star that gave life to Homo Sapiens and drove Vulcan to his knees. Slowly, the view of the sun became lesser and lesser as metal smog slowly blocked out the light. Eventually the planets, what was left of them, of the Sol system were in perpetual darkness. The Jovian Empire now had unlimited energy and Project Prometheus was completed. The result of decades of research and construction led to a pair of supermassive transit gates that would extend their grasp across the galaxy. These gates have the capacity to lock on to a specific type of beacon and create an Einstein-Rosen bridge between the beacon and itself. This has allowed capital ships to deploy the beacons and receive near instant transport not only back to Sol, but due to the way the twin gates were positioned, to any other beacon or transit gate in the galaxy.

The Jovian Empire elite now live in a space station orbiting the darkened sun surrounded by the Martian Armada. All the transit gates into or out of Sol are tightly monitored and guarded. The population of Sol has been in a steady decline as the Empire has been urging any and all to seek a new home on the subservient colony planets, promising steady employment and continued access to sunlight. Once more in human history, the government has subsidized exploratory missions, this time to far away star clusters. Hundreds of thousands of people were packed into colony ships in what most expected to be one-way trips, each of which were equipped with beacons so that the colonists could receive and send back supplies to Sol. The ships were flung haphazardly into the far reaches of space, since the gates could create bridges only to vague locations rather than distant beacons. Many of the ships landed in the systems that they expected to, while some ships were dropped into intersystem space and doomed to drift endlessly and even fewer had been catapulted too near to stars, black holes, planets, or various other celestial entities and had their exploration cut short.

One of these ships ended up in the well-known constellation of Ursa Minor and was immediately impacted by an asteroid swarm. Many of the ship’s systems ceased to function during this bombardment, not least of all was the astrometrics system. Life support was functioning, but only just barely. Days passed by as the crew attempted to patch up the damage with the limited materials that were onboard, cannibalizing less important systems such as guidance to repair others. One of these systems was signalling. As the radio was patched up, a signal was captured from a nearby location. An unknown language was being broadcast from what appeared to be the center of the system, where one would normally expect a star. Expecting the worst but hoping for the best, the colony ship plotted a course towards the signal and engaged the thrusters. Expected time of arrival was 72 days. Life among the ship was anything but usual, excitement and fear both reaching fever pitch with days left until arrival.

Zero Day. The day we discovered that there are others like us. Not just alien life forms, but humanoids. The day we drove straight through an electrostatic field and discovered that yes, megastructures could be hidden from view. The day we arrived at Polaris I, a space station that rivalled the size of the twin gates. The automatic docking systems towed the ship into docking position using what I could only assume were tractor beams. We were dragged slowly through another electrostatic field, this one was much stronger as you could feel the hair all over your body stand on edge. This area, an interior docking bay, was fully enclosed save the entrance with the field and contained a breathable atmosphere. It smelled of rotten eggs but we would survive, and, with time, we probably won’t even smell it anymore. We discovered that everything in here was made for creatures of roughly humanoid propertion. Hand rails followed the side of the docks, and they were just the right height. The automatic doors were just the right shape. Even crew chambers had bunks the correct height and size for us.The flashing lights were just the right frequency to be seen by our eyes. This can’t have been an accident.

---

Y1PC has been incredibly uneventful. We’ve explored the majority of this station and found not a trace of anyone living or dead. We still can’t access the computer terminals that are used here, we need more time to reverse engineer it. We’ve managed to get the ship back in order, even the beacon has been repaired. We haven’t dared turn it on yet, though. The technology in this station is far too advanced. The Empire would abuse it without doubt. It turns out that nobody on the colony ship bears any type of good will towards the Jovian Empire for destroying their homes, uprooting them and throwing them into the wind. Truthfully, I’m not surprised. I wouldn’t have wanted to activate the beacon even if everything had turned out fine. It’s nice to have found out where we are, though. Apparently we’re in a trinary star system in what we called Polaris. There are no livable planets here.
---

Y6PC has been amazing. We’ve been advancing leaps and bounds in our process to reverse engineer the station’s mechanics. There’s an automatic factory! I don’t know where the material comes from, but it’s able to make full frames from what appear to be simple CAD designs. It can make pretty much anything, from forks to scooters. We tried using it to make food, but that didn’t work. It appears to only make things out of metal. Good thing the colony ship has been turned into a giant greenhouse.

---

Y11PC allowed us to make the first transit gate with the automatic factory. A surprisingly large one, at that. We’ve installed it in one of the other docking bays and tried it out. It works. We still don’t know where the energy for the station comes from, we still can’t get into what we assume is the reactor room. There is no door and the walls, warm to the touch, are impermeable to our attempts. We don’t know what kind of energy source this place has, or why it has no natural inhabitants. We unfortunately have no xenolinguistics experts onboard so we don’t know what the radio broadcast is saying and we don’t have any other language to refer it to. What we’ll probably end up doing is making more transit gates. Maybe we can find some habitable planets nearby. I’m getting old, and it sure would be nice to lay in the warm gaze of the sun once more…

---

To be continued.
djmor
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Re: Welcome to the Polaris Calendar

Postby djmor » Fri May 22, 2015 8:17 pm

Planet Hansen

“Polaris, something’s not right here.”

Those words haunt me. They were the harbingers of something I could not have imagined at the time.

“What do you mean? What could possibly be wrong?”

“Well, we lost the cargo carrier.”

“Alright, well, screwups happen. We’ll just have the factory build another and send it to you via Sector 7.”

“No, I don’t mean that we borked it, I mean that it just disappeared.”

Of course, all of us at mission control thought he had lost his mind at the time. I wish we would have known then what we know now.

“Dammit Jake, put Mike on the radio. You’re not making any sense.”

“Sure, hold on a sec…”
“Yeah, this is Mike. He’s telling you the truth. We had our Animas out getting ready to unload the gear and we took a break for lunch. There’s a nice river about three minutes away, so we took off the helms while we went to check it out. Had a wonderful picnic by a small wonderfall, and I tell you it was just the prettie–”

“Damn it Mike, get back to the point.”

“Oh yeah, right, when we came back, everything was gone. It was the same clearing, but the frames and the cargo container were gone. The headsets were still sitting on the same big rock we left them at.”

That was when we knew. Mission control had a problem. Was it aliens? Did some giant beast just come by and swallow everything? We obviously haven’t fully explored this planet, so it was a possibility. It turns out that we were right, but we had no idea just how wrong it could be. We should have abandoned them both to the planet. They agreed.

“Well, come home then. Not much you can do without supplies.”

“10-4, on our way. Be there in thirty.”

And they were, they packed what little they could find, hopped in the ship and came home. A few days later, everything started to go wrong. People across the station were starting to find it very difficult to breathe, even though everything seemed okay. We had the doctors look at everyone who presented symptoms, which across the next few days lead to a hundred people being examined before they told us all that there was nothing physiologically wrong with us.

On day eight, Jake died. The autopsy report showed hypoxia as the cause of death. He had a history of sleep apnea and died overnight, so we didn’t think too much of it. It’s unfortunate, but certain medical conditions are dangerous.

On day nine, Mike died. The autopsy report showed hypoxia as the cause of death. He had no history of apnea, and died screaming in the middle of the night alone in his room. His neighbours heard it and tried to pry open his door, but it was locked. It took a while to get in using unconvential methods. That’s when we found him clutching his sheet in the corner of the room, eyes wide open. Of course, rumours spread quickly. We’re not military, we’re pretty much all civilians that just happened to get sent on a cruise. Order was difficult to uphold after this, to put it lightly.

Roughly three quarters of our population has been off station since this started. Most of the time, people prefer exploring the wide range of locales with the extensive gate grid that has been created. We radioed each and every group that was exploring through the grid that they were not to come back to Polaris until the situation was resolved.

That was six months ago. Things did not get better. Many people chose to leave the station, saying that if they were to die they wanted to do it on land under a bright sun. As people decided to go on, they evacuated back to the planet where Josh and Mike picked up this… bug, or whatever it is. We’ve turned the LZ into a leper colony. The skeleton crew that is left here on Polaris is tiny and growing smaller daily. We’ve tried increasing the O2 amounts, we’ve tried walking around in space suits, and nothing seems to be helping us breathe. We don’t know what’s causing this disease, but once a person decides it’s time to go to the planet we’ve decided to call Hansen, we don’t hear from them for long. There is no permanent colony there, people go there to die and the autopilot brings an empty ship back. I’ll probably be heading there soon, every day I wake up it takes so much more energy to draw breath.

Every day I wake up, I think back to the day Mike and Jake came back. What happened to that cargo container? What happened to those frames? Maybe I should go down to Hansen and look around, it’s getting really hard to breathe, and I am getting old…
djmor
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Re: Welcome to the Polaris Calendar

Postby Mantisking » Sun Jun 07, 2015 7:39 pm

I really liked this story. You built the sense of dread very well.
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Re: Welcome to the Polaris Calendar

Postby Mantisking » Mon Jul 27, 2015 7:07 am

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