Unity

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Re: Unity

Postby Blorf » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:05 pm

Atavism wrote:The idea here is that Unity connects and coordinates its subjects in a way that makes them compassionate and other-minded. There is a concern for their fellows that makes individuals happy to self sacrifice, be it a suicide rear guard or a worm turning itself over to its predators. It also makes them very considerate.


I didn't see it as 3rd-party control or anything. But are they actually not feeling other emotion or are they simply incapable of expressing other emotion? Unity shows compassion and selflessness in self-sacrifice for the good of the whole, but it also exhibits disregard for life, freedom, and property of others. I'm not suggesting the members are doing things they aren't themselves choosing to do, like in your cyberpunk example. But maybe they're responding politely and acting courteously in the same way one responds politely and acts courteously at the company Christmas party they'd much rather set on fire? You don't want to go, maybe you don't even fully "choose" to go... but somehow you've still managed to buy a new shirt to dress for the occasion, drive the car to the hall, and waste a perfectly good evening on people that aren't worth it for the good of your job and the stability that brings to your family. The worm and the rear guard, are terrified of what they're about to do. They don't want it and they hope beyond hope right up until the last minute that somehow the situation will change and what they need to do will no longer be required of them. As soon as they identified the need, they compelled themselves to serve the whole instead of the self. But it's not patriotic, it's biological. It's not sacrifice, it's compulsion. And this horrible feeling is your entire polite, happy, smiling existence—because being happy is best for everyone.

I'm not sure if I'm accurately describing this, but I hope it comes across.
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Re: Unity

Postby Atavism » Mon Jun 15, 2015 7:15 pm

Blorf wrote:
Atavism wrote:The idea here is that Unity connects and coordinates its subjects in a way that makes them compassionate and other-minded. There is a concern for their fellows that makes individuals happy to self sacrifice, be it a suicide rear guard or a worm turning itself over to its predators. It also makes them very considerate.


I didn't see it as 3rd-party control or anything. But are they actually not feeling other emotion or are they simply incapable of expressing other emotion? Unity shows compassion and selflessness in self-sacrifice for the good of the whole, but it also exhibits disregard for life, freedom, and property of others. I'm not suggesting the members are doing things they aren't themselves choosing to do, like in your cyberpunk example. But maybe they're responding politely and acting courteously in the same way one responds politely and acts courteously at the company Christmas party they'd much rather set on fire? You don't want to go, maybe you don't even fully "choose" to go... but somehow you've still managed to buy a new shirt to dress for the occasion, drive the car to the hall, and waste a perfectly good evening on people that aren't worth it for the good of your job and the stability that brings to your family. The worm and the rear guard, are terrified of what they're about to do. They don't want it and they hope beyond hope right up until the last minute that somehow the situation will change and what they need to do will no longer be required of them. As soon as they identified the need, they compelled themselves to serve the whole instead of the self. But it's not patriotic, it's biological. It's not sacrifice, it's compulsion. And this horrible feeling is your entire polite, happy, smiling existence—because being happy is best for everyone.

I'm not sure if I'm accurately describing this, but I hope it comes across.


I think I've got your point, though your example has caused me to suddenly and strongly identify with the Unies... I'll definitely have to keep that perspective in mind as I flesh this out better.
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Re: Unity

Postby Mantisking » Mon Jul 27, 2015 7:06 am

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Re: Unity

Postby Atavism » Tue Aug 11, 2015 11:14 pm

So, between work picking up and hitting a wall in general, it took me a lot longer to get this out than I though. I hope you enjoy part 2.

-

Planet Khthon/ Colony 2- Jon


Jon was woken up.

He had slept deeply and felt refreshed, his night terrors had been cured long ago. He climbed down from his bunk and got into the shower, holding his breath and closing his eyes against the high pressure jets that whirled around him. Cleaned, he put on his coverall and made his way to the cafeteria. Breakfast was soy milk and fruit, along with a granola bar that was as much mealworm and grasshopper as it was cereal.

The new girl, Ella came to clear his tray as he finished his last sip of milk. He faked shaking another drop or two just to delay her there with him. She smirked. Ella was tall, and carried a little extra weight on her body in a way that gave her large breasts and thick hips that Jon appreciated. He sensed her heartbeat race at his observation. Her lips parted slightly. She liked his broad shoulders and how the dab of gel in his bronzey hair gave him a boyish look.

They were reminded that Jon needed to leave in two minutes or he would be late, and that they would both be free at twenty-thirty if they stayed on schedule.

Jon smiled at her as he made his way out of the building, and was rewarded with a little rush. Outside, the air was still thin, but the ancient terraforming spires had already added enough oxygen that it was comfortable to those acclimated to it. Grass and trees were taking hold and precipitation had knocked down the once ever-present dust.

A green and red songbird landed on Jon's shoulder as he walked down the street. He could feel its tiny heartbeat slow as it rested. Grateful for the break, it began trilling birdsong to keep Jon company as he walked.

In the distance Jon could see the morning classes practicing with their vibro-swords. Their inert training blades rang and sparked off of the composite ceramic shells of their frames. Jon could feel the pilots sweat as they pushed their frames and bodies to do more and do it faster. One of the pilots lunged, and Jon could see the opening it created in his guard. Then they knew. The pilot twisted, kicking out hard to change direction as his opponent ducked and thrust at his chest. The sword struck home with a resounded clatter. The opponent helped the pilot up and they started again.

The bird fluttered away as Jon passed the eave where it made its nest. Two more landed to take its place. They were no burden. Jon ran a finger down their silky feathers as he walked to the armory.

-

Jon opened the circuit panel in the back of his frame. First, he closed the knife switch, energizing the panel. The control breaker was followed by the local control, and Jon paused a minute as he listened for the servos to energize and connect. Next he activated the generator field and the various utility components. He closed the panel and pressed the start key. The HUD and a few tertiary screens flickered to life, scrolling through the system's boot logs. A diagnostic started, pushing the other readouts to the side as it expanded to readability.

Jon latched his arms and legs into place as the diagnostic worked through its checklist. He idly nursed a nib at his chin, sucking through the warmish mouth taste until cool water came out. A message appeared on the screen to warn Jon the system would automatically shut down without acknowledgment. Jon tapped at his controls to silence it, then leaned heavily forward to disengage the dead man's switch. A ten second timer began counting down in bright red, strobing letters. Jon leaned back into it.

The diagnostic finished, indicating that an air filter needed to be replaced. Jon acknowledged the fault, clearing the screen. The empty hangar stood out in artificially sharpened relief on his HUD. Little green dots indicated the training frames far away. Jon pressed a key to filter them out and walked out onto the street. A squad of infantry joined him at the spaceport gate, making an idle formation as they stared at the sky and waited.

Eventually a cargo ship appeared, a tiny dot at first, but slowly growing until it loomed heavily over the pad. Hydraulics whined sharp over the rumbling engines as the cargo ship deployed its landing struts. The crew doors opened first, allowing the ship's security detail to join them on the pad. Jon signaled the pilot. The massive cargo bay doors slowly folded out to form a ramp into the ship. People waited inside, blinking against the bright light of the star.

Jon knew, in a abstract way, that he was seeing other human beings. They had the right shape, the right colors and they spoke Terran languages. Objectively, identifying them should have been easy. Jon couldn't shake the intense absence of their presence, seen but not felt, a cargo of ghosts dropped onto the planet. They had something unnatural about them that made Jon feel uneasy, even though they were the ones that looked scared. One of the guards nearby muttered the word “solitaires” under his breath, and everyone nodded in unison.

Jon was reminded that he, too, was once Alone.

Allison, the Liaison, was a much warmer person than Jon could ever hope to be, and her feelings of pity and goodwill towards the solitaires slowly overcame his apprehension. She waved her hands and called out like a tour guide to direct them from cargo hold and down towards the Temple. The guards took positions to the sides of the column in neat, orderly ranks. Jon took up the rear in his frame. His presence represented a certain overwhelming power that was in one way unnecessary, but was found to be useful in tamping down any thoughts of last minute dissent.

Jon could already see little motes of green floating up from the captives as they entered the cavern. Their hopes and fears circled and flickered like fireflies as the darkness deepened. Khthon was already beginning to take hold.


F-T System/ SSF Bridge of Judgment- Shadi

“We must deploy our mechaton forces here, and here,” Security Chief Turgidson rasped. In his senility, he was giving a briefing from the week prior. His staff had long ago become accustomed to holding their own meetings when they were done. They'd use his keen tactical insights on the good days and start from scratch on the bad. They were trapped in a catch-22 in which Turgidson held enough clout that they dared not oppose him directly, but their own actions maintained the illusion of competence that held him in power.

Shadi just wished that Commodore Poyle would finish up with AstroMax and take command again, but the SSF Xerxes kept reporting complication after complication.

Everyone made a point of praising and thanking Turgidson when he had finished his presentation. He looked pleased, if confused, at the head of the table. Everyone faked phoning their departments and giving out the new orders as they slowly made their way down to their makeshift war room hidden in an out-of-the way storage bay. Turgidson's personal aide gently led him in the opposite direction.

There was a sort of collective sigh as the command staff settled in among the crates and plastic wrapped equipment. They formed two rough camps around a decommissioned frame-scale riot shield they used as a table. One side was led by Security Captain Pyotr Arkadeyovich, the heir to one of the first-generation colonist families and second in command to Chief Turgidson. The other looked to Admiral Dalton Alexandr, second in command to Commodore Poyle. The divide represented the rivalry between the two branches of the F-T System's military as much as the personal rivalry between the two men jockeying to be promoted to the next Security Czar when Commodore Poyle retired.

Shadi sat behind the Admiral and waited. She clutched her attache case anxiously, calculating the most advantageous time to reveal its contents.

“So...” Dalton began, tentatively, “What's new with you guys?”

Pyotr made a frustrated hand gesture. “Nothing new. We know their equipment is a mix of very old and very new. We know the very old stuff is not of Terran design. Interrogation is fruitless. Autopsies consistently reveal an unidentified crystal formation in the subject's skull that might be telling us something if we had any idea what it meant.”

Dalton nodded. “That's very disappointing.”

“I'll tell you disappointing!” Pyotr flushed, “Two more systems raided. One of them was a partner. That reflects very poorly on all of us. What is fleet doing?” There was an iciness in Pyotr's eyes that made it hard to tell if his outrage was genuine or a contrived attack on Dalton's standing.

“We can't be everywhere. Space is a damn big place and the raiders aren't using conventional gates. We have Battleships Nimrod and the Gilgamesh deployed with interdictor fleets, but every time they commit to a system the raiders up and vanish. Then they're stuck waiting to transit to the next emergency. Its getting expensive and its getting us nowhere.”

“There must be some way to find them.” Pyotr growled.

Shadi smirked as she drew the room's attention to herself by loudly clicking open her case. “We have a way to find them.”

There was a profound silence in the room that Shadi interpreted as a near-future promotion.

“The problem we have faced so far,” Shadi began, “is that unlike conventional forces, the 'Green Raiders' do not give off any sort of communication noise. They don't communicate with each other or any sort of home base, nor do they seem to be using any sort of active sensor. This, combined with their ability to strike from outside of a system, makes them nearly impossible to detect until they are already attacking, and very difficult to chase once they've gone.”

“A conventional force would struggle to coordinate dynamically without very close proximity, which could give their presence away as an unnatural pattern of motion. The raiders, however, have the capacity to perfectly organize attacks from multiple vectors.”

Pyotr made a rolling gesture with his fingers that said, “Hurry up.”

“What I have found, however, is that the raiders do communicate. Or perhaps they do? We're not sure.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” Dalton asked.

Shadi took out a small audiobox and pressed play. The room filled with a low rumble like the call of some deep sea animal.

“This was picked up by a very large antenna array during their abortive raid on the F-T System. Originally Sci-Ops thought it was just interference, but with some scrubbing they discovered a distinct signal. It appears to be meaningless, and occurs at a much longer wavelength than is traditionally used for communications. But, when you speed it up-”

The noises slowly rose in pitch and speed until they began to form words.

“The Sun will rise from the rock and beam its green visions into the minds of the wise ones who will praise it with song despite the looming deafness of the red and purple who do not know the Green of the Fourth Waveform...”

“My God...” Pyotr muttered, “Do they hear that all the time?”

Shadi shrugged. “What we know is that the signal strength gets stronger when the raiders are nearby, but we should be able to pick it up whenever they gate into a system now that we know to look for it.”

“Start making calls people.”


AgriVenture/ Ranch13A- Josef

They had all of us rounded up outside of town. They were going around asking us our names and occupations, trying to root out the few engineers and technicians in our little herding town. It was all real peaceful-like, if you ignored the frames and the guns and focused on how the pretty little blonde was talking to everybody. After a few hours in the hot sun they even gave out snacks, if you'd believe it.

I kept looking around, trying to count heads and see if anybody had ducked them. Tommy was missing, maybe a few of the hands that'd be out with the herds. Looked bad.

Well, they had maybe a few of us loaded in that ship of theirs, they were having a hard time finding what they were looking for, I guess, when the ground started to shake. We all knew what that meant- stampede!

Some idiot must have slipped out and unpenned the megaphaunts. A few of those pissed off critters can rip up a frame, sure, but with everybody out in the open like that things were going to get hairy fast.

Ah, well, it wasn't our first rodeo, and I for one wasn't going up in that ship if I could help it.

It didn't take long for the herd to get over our way. Big animals, them megaphaunts. Native to the planet. Kinda look like elephants looked if they had big thick spider legs sticking out their spine. Good eating, but looking at them takes some getting use to. Thought I saw Tommy in his Ranchero-Osprey at the back, goading them on.

Everybody scattered. The cargo hauler's takeoff klaxon blared and people started to rush into its hold for safety, which boggles my mind when I go back and think about it. Well, the soldiers and their frames formed a line, tried for a fighting retreat that kept the animals out of the ship. Did alright I guess. I high tailed it out of there so I don't know all what happened, but I looked back once to see one of their frames lay himself out like a trundleball goalie to check the herd.

When the noise stopped we started to come back in to sort out the dead, what was left of us anyhow. Not much there besides a pile of bodies and scrap metal and a few screaming, half-dead animals. The herd was a cloud of dust on the next hill and their ship was a little star in the sky. Wasn't nobody moving around in the trample zone. Looked pretty bleak. Then I heard crying. I rushed over to it, tripping on one of the raiders and their clunky body armor. I couldn't find where the crying was coming from at first, but then I saw a little hand sticking out of the bodies. One of the raiders, a woman, she had curled herself up around a toddler to keep the kid safe. Paid for it too.

Damnedest thing.

Who are these people?


AgriVenture System/ Deep Space- Jon

Nobody knew where the enemy came from, but they had managed to slip between the cargo hauler and the gate. Their space black ships were visible only as silhouettes in the starfield behind them, for now. They were getting bigger. There were at least six frigates spread out as a net to catch them. A battleship was farther back, a promise of overwhelming force against anything the frigates failed to catch.

A plan was formed. Jon was given his part as he loaded his frame into its catapult harness. He understood its necessity.

His squadron loaded in to his sides. Jon was shown how they looked up to him. His reputation, his skill forming a beacon of confidence to push back their fear of what was to come. Jon knew he could not be afraid. He willed into himself a bravery that he didn't think was true.

There was a moment of disorientation as the catapult ejected them from the assault carrier that was quickly followed by free fall as his jets took control. They were coming up on the lead frigate fast. Jon's HUD attempted to predict the firing pattern of its point defense weaponry. Little streaks of purple indicated the past paths of metals spikes moving too fast for the eye to see. It was closing in on his squad, so as one they burned hard to spiral erratically like the crazed flight of a junebug.

Something shot by to the left. A space interceptor frame shaped like a inverted wasp, sting first, headed towards the cargo ship. Jon spun in a zero point turn as his jets fought to maintain his position in his squad's evasive maneuvering. He trained his laser on the interceptor and allowed the frame AI to hold his aim steady on its missile pod. A long second ticked by before the pod exploded, sending the interceptor careering away from the ship.

Almost as though in retaliation, one of his squadmates vanished as a hyper-accelerated slug shredded his frame. Jon swallowed against vomit as his squad dove hard to break their trajectory. A purple line indicated the phantom of a munition a meter before his face. Another intricate series of tight burns led to a shuddering stop as his magnetic grapple attached to the hull of the frigate just above its frame catapult bay.

Jon knew two more of his squad was missing now, reducing them to three. A warning indicator highlit the catapult bay. Jon grabbed his jetpack and yanked the emergency release, he wouldn't need it anymore. He pitched the pack into the catapult as the next interceptor squad launched. It struck the lead pilot squarely in the cockpit, tumbling his frame into his wingmen. Scrap metal shot out of the bay like a shotgun blast.

Jon moved his squad into the ship through the half-destroyed bay. They discarded their lasers for vibro-swords and electro-daggers more suited for the unpleasant closeness of in-ship fighting. They made their way towards the bridge, only stopping briefly to cut holes in the hull to catastrophically vent atmosphere.

A self-stopping bolt pinned his dominant arm to his chassis. A ship defense marine stood at the end of the corridor, safe behind a massive shield. Jon took cover by diving through a thin inner wall of the ship. Crewmen screamed as decompression sucked them into the empty corridor.

Small arms fire from a automated defense turret rang ineffectively off of his frame as tugged his arm free. He took stock of his situation. One of squadmates was reduced to tumbling fistfight with the marine guarding the corridor. The other had vaulted ahead towards the bridge to find himself tag-teamed by a pair of chubs wielding chain halberds.

Jon was told time was running out.

A side corridor to where the chubs were holding off his squadmate presented itself. He felt for their movements as they methodically cornered their prey. Just before they committed to a final lunge he threw his electro-dagger. It took the first one in the head, blinding the pilot within. The second, surprised, spun to meet Jon instead of keeping the pressure on his squadmate. A vibroblade took him through the back.

There was no time to go back for the other, increasingly desperate squadmate. Instead, Jon came through the door to the bridge like a linebacker. The crew stumbled for a moment as the air rushed out of the room, but they were prepared with pressure suits and magnetized boots. Jon lost precious time killing them one by one so his squadmate could eject from his frame and take over the helm.

On the viewscreen he could see the battleship. The tremendous panels that protected its plasma array were peeling open like the petals of some hideous metal flower as it prepared to strike. His squadmate fed in new coordinates to the frigate's drive system.

Jon was shown Ella, and the child he was assured was growing healthily inside of her. Jon's vision expanded, and he was shown all of the people of Khthon. They were so grateful to him. They loved him. Then his perspective lurched, and he was drawn down into the green darkness of the Temple.

The Battleship fired. A great orange lance of energy cut through the black of space just as the frigate put itself in front of the cargo hauler. An orange-tinted rainbow erupted from the frigate as the metal of its hull boiled off into space, then it exploded.

Jon was no longer there, only his shell remained. Jon had been taken back to Khthon, where he would live forever.
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Re: Unity

Postby Vitoria » Wed Aug 12, 2015 1:34 pm

“We must deploy our mechaton forces here, and here,”


Heh, nice nod!
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