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roleplaying:munchausen:laxx_mining [2008/08/27 17:10] (current)
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 +====== ​ Laxx Mining ======
 +Nick Nitrous seems to be in some form of stasis. ​ A blue nimbus ​
 +surrounding is comatose form.
 +The distinctive whine of a Thargian assassins rifle is briefly ​
 +overheard above the din of the customers at the bar.
 +Simon clears his throat briefly and taps his staff three times on the 
 +There is a brief yelp and the sound of someone disintegrating.
 +"Sorry about that folks, I forgot I may have been followed."​
 +He grins momentarily before regarding Nick with a professional eye.
 +"​I'​m afraid we'll just have to wait out the affects of the Thargian ​
 +Stasis generator on poor Nick.  But I cannot see why it should overly ​
 +prolong our proceedings."​
 +He turns to Svathlan, "My dear Ambassador Kalderash would you care to 
 +continue? ​ I have heard much of your exploits and would be quite 
 +particular to the details of when you found that space station chief 
 +security officer, Laxx.  Who helped you in the disintegration of the 
 +Hyper Matter Application Inc. with the use of only a single Nanobot."​
 +"And as I recall, it somehow involved the use of a Canadian Sub-
 +Atomic Neutrino Thermo-enhanced energy cell - but I have no idea how 
 +you came across such an Terran artifact."​
 +Simon looks expectantly at the enviroment-suited mass of tentacles.
 +The shell shifts for the first time, almost as if uncomfortable at the
 +presence of, well, an assassin, so very nearby.
 +'​Yes. ​ That is a very interesting story. ​ I may be forced to gloss over
 +certain particulars due to security concerns applicable even this many
 +years later, but I shall speak of what I may.'
 +'It all begin in an asteroid mining cluster, in the old Terran system.
 +"​Asteroid mining in the Terran system? ​ I heard that the Terran asteroid
 +belts were mined out centuries ago."
 +Pia looks curious, rather than confrontational.
 +"​Absolutely." ​ Three fine-work tentacles temporarily appear to aid the
 +formation of a humour form, carefully negating the mocking overtone of the
 +basic form.
 +"This was ... many years ago.  But yes, it was no longer a functioning
 +cluster, at least if speaking in terms of the mining and processing of
 +basic ores and elements."​
 +===== Laxx Mining =====
 +"​I'​m sorry. ​ I think I misspeak a little.
 +"The cluster, long abandoned by miners and criminals alike, had become in
 +recent years an autonomous, non-organic,​ philosophic net.  I was forced to
 +navigate into the central rock in a space-faring vessel not much larger
 +than the suit I presently inhabit in order to maintain the maneuvrability
 +to avoid the thought-net between the maneuvering rocks. ​ These nets are,
 +naturally enough, seldom particularly interested in the presence of the
 +organic, and the non-philosophic,​ within their domains and tend to make it
 +uncomfortable,​ if not downright dangerous to enter."​
 +The bright shell shifts, almost uncomfortable.
 +"This particular net, which had taken the name '​Sterling'​ for reasons that
 +highly amused Laxx, when we spoke of this location years before, but meant
 +nothing to me, had a reputation of being mostly passive in its disinterest,​
 +only interfering with a visitor if they should become considered hostile,
 +or dangerous. ​ I was not, and I trusted the security officer I was seeking,
 +on a matter of mutually fascinating research, had not done something
 +foolish. ​ Despite it's background in security, and a stint in the military,
 +Laxx was inclined to forget safety when searching something of immediate
 +interest. ​ The strange, indeed now-illegal,​ cosmetic surgery it had adopted
 +were perhaps a perfect example of the immersive techniques it was inclined
 +to use.  Disregarding pretty much anything."​
 +As Svathlan speaks, an extremely fine tendril appears to be tracing an
 +irregular pattern upon the tables surface. ​ Those with good sight might be
 +able to identify the faintest of lines, glowing temporarily in a
 +rich-metallic purple; lines that seem to represent a map of a asteroid
 +"I suffered minor damage to an attitudinal control cutting my path too
 +fine, but was reasonably quickly able to approach the central rock.
 +Passing in through the nearly open dock, I entered this intelligent
 +==== A wager ====
 +Pia offers a credit, and speaks:
 +"​Svathlan,​ you haven'​t told us yet why you were in the asteroid belt in
 +the first place. ​ I'll bet you were looking for a place to hide after
 +stealing a box of nanobots right from under the nose of Varth Dader."​
 +Returning Pia's credit, and quickly spinning another out to join it.
 +'​No. ​ No, I've never directly encountered this Varth Dader. ​ I'm sorry to
 +be so prosaic, but my presence in the asteroid belt, in fact within
 +Sterling itself was due to Laxx's presence here.  I was researching the
 +etymology of a couple of words for some work I was doing, this being
 +previous to my ambassadorial appointment,​ with which Laxx was supposed to
 +be helping me.  It had also indicated it had some information about Hyper
 +Matter Application Inc. which might be valuable to some other journalistic
 +Pia accepts the credit with a shrug. ​ "​Oh? ​ What were the words?"​
 +"​Melcheck,​ which we never fully traced, but appeared to be some ancient
 +Terran word.  G'​rraugx,​ a Saur word that seems entirely too similar to an
 +archaic Fenn thought-quartet,​ which would imply some interesting things
 +about Saur origin myths. ​ There were a number of others, but they were
 +easier, if not straightforward,​ to trace. ​ I can send you the article if
 +you are truly interested, there should be a copy on my vessel. ​ But this is
 +off the topic, and, in my experience, not usually truly of interest.
 +"I, apart from that small amount of damage, probably due to my lack of
 +piloting intuition and feel, entered the core of Sterling."​
 +"Now Sterling core, as part of the philosophic net, only by physical
 +location the centre, it possesses no unique name, was a roughly spherical
 +rock twelve hundred metres in diameter. ​ You can probably, then, imagine my
 +surprise at the view that met me upon passing through the entrance.
 +Hanging in a space over 4 light-years in diameter, at least according to
 +every sensor in the admittedly limited pack in what was little more than a
 +powerfully-engined suit, was the most beautiful and complex series of
 +philosophic-mathematical equations I'd ever seen.  I knew only a little of
 +the discipline back then, and alas, probably less now, but it seemed, after
 +I'd watched these for a while, as they shifted through time, that they were
 +a impossibly detailed series of linked equations designed to define a way
 +of living that was, somehow, better than what presently existed. ​ Large
 +chunks of the work were incomprehensible to me, but some seemed to speak of
 +dignity, love, lack of bohemian pretension and compassion. ​ Unfortunately,​
 +the section on freedom of information was incomplete. ​ Surrounded by this
 +whirling wonder, it took some hours to realise that I was in the centre of
 +this space, and my suit was definitely not equipped for travelling anything
 +in excess of a couple of hundred thousand kilometres."​
 +There is a slight pause. ​ Despite complete lack of any change, perhaps
 +Svathlan is partaking of some refreshment inside the suit.
 +"I had many days-worth of supplies and
 +<​atmosphere-breath-required-equivalent>​ but not fuel.  It seemed I would
 +need to find some other means of reaching the entrance to Sterling core.
 +If I could find it.  Entering this space, whatever it was and however it
 +had been created, I still do not know, had completely cut me off from my
 +ship and was gradually eroding the effectiveness of some of my suit-borne
 +systems. ​ Fortunately,​ before even sufficient time had passed for me to
 +become hungry, I spied, necessarily with my own eyes, the approach of a
 +vessel. ​ Its rough appearance and complete lack of aesthetics implied it
 +was built by the net, and I hoped that Sterling'​s reputation would hold
 +true, that I would merely be ejected from this spot.  I was mistaken.
 +"After an entirely too high-g trip I found myself stripped of the suit,
 +bearing only very basic tech and looking across a narrow corridor at Laxx,
 +behind a forcewall, in a cell opposite my own.  It was presently asleep,
 +it's insectile-warped Terran features relaxed, as nearly as I could
 +determine. ​ A quick look around, peering into and around the cells to
 +either side of my and Laxx' revealed a veritable menagerie of species, with
 +no duplicates except for a Terran female and Laxx.  I assumed that whoever
 +our captors were had been confused by the genetic manipulation that had
 +formed Laxx unique appearance at this moment. ​ All this being immensely
 +atypical behaviour for a philosophic net I was quite concerned, although
 +the earlier burst of high-g had been sufficient for me to temporarily lose
 +conciousness,​ meaning, of course, I could be anywhere, under the control of
 +anyone, or anything."​
 +==== Another wager, and a danger to sentient life everywhere ====
 +Pia, warming to the story despite being wrong about her last wager,
 +speaks up:
 +"I bet this Sterling had made some reasonable-sounding assumptions to fill
 +in the gaps in the equations you saw.  Following the equations (with these
 +assumptions) to their philosophically logical conclusion, Stirling had
 +decided that it was necessary (for the good of the universe and all its
 +inhabitants) to eliminate all but one example of each sentient
 +species. ​ To be safe, it was beginning by collecting the examples to be
 +===== Laxx Corporate =====
 +"​Fundamentally,​ yes.  I don't know how Sterling came to the conclusions it
 +did, but it had indeed '​proved',​ with somewhere in the region of a twelve
 +percent margin of possibility for a major change to occur while completing
 +the last twelve thousand lines of calculation,​ a relatively trivial amount
 +considering what had already been completed, that organic sentience was the
 +greatest threat to the matrix it had already constructed,​ and that that
 +matrix did indeed lead to the ideal existence. ​ This seemed unlikely to me,
 +not that I am even close to being capable of debating matters with any of
 +the philosophic nets, as many of the original axioms I had seen assumed the
 +existence of emotional species, conflict, irrationality and a very large
 +population, even if as a difficulty to be accounted for in the work, as a
 +basis for the entirety. ​ Effectively disproving one's own axioms, and not
 +concluding the existence of major flaws in either those axioms or the
 +equations, was unbelievable. ​ Got me into trouble on one or two occasions
 +back in school. ​ Although I did it more deliberately. ​ Philosophic nets
 +really aren't known for their sense of whimsy. ​ Clearly something untoward
 +was going on here."
 +A temporary pause ensues. ​ Appropriate sensor gear would indicate the
 +transmission of heavily-encrypted pulses to and from the suit on a very low
 +carrier band.
 +"Much of my research at the period, outside the etymological exercises of
 +which I have spoken, revolved around Hyper Matter Application Inc., really
 +the public, and corporate, face of a number of research bodies quietly
 +working on a number of different lines of very primal inquiry. ​ They all
 +seemed to report upwards to a single body, which effectively controlled the
 +resources of a multi-system corporation considered a most prestigious
 +cosmological think-tank - Government grants galore, of which few people
 +seemed to know anything. ​ I had established the existence of this body,
 +consisting of twenty or twenty-one personnel, to my own satisfaction,​ but
 +had yet to discover their agenda. ​ A small note.  To simplify this story,
 +and because some elements of this case are still considered either sub
 +judice or classified even after all these years, I have omitted the true
 +complexity of the corporate structure. ​ To reach this point had taken me a
 +significant portion of five stanyears already, although you may have noted
 +my admittedly less-focused style of research."​
 +"Corps that place such an emphasis on secrecy are often discovered,
 +eventually, to tie back into organised crime of some form, government
 +sponsored or otherwise, but HMA lacked any number of signs that the
 +experienced observer might note from such an alliance. ​ However, they still
 +indulged in the usual forms of information control that, in my experience,
 +most major corporate entities eventually adopt. ​ The majority of the
 +planetary and political systems in which HMA's corporate base rested were
 +strict, neo-Conservative regimes; societies most likely to control,
 +regulate and oversee corporations. ​ One was even a theological economy that
 +had miraculously survived the expansion to a sectoral economy. ​ And their
 +control is normally near-absolute,​ if in an arguably, rationally,
 +theological way.  Hence, the plugging of leaks required a great deal of
 +subtlety, such that even the information about the _disappearance_ of
 +potential sources of information about the ridiculously complex web of
 +companies that made up HMA tended to be concealed, usually under the cover
 +of '​copycat'​ killings, drive-by shootings, and even, in the case of three
 +of the deaths, a small war.  My own survival was threatened twice, but
 +fortunately someone never entirely put together the appearance of an odd,
 +highly alien pianist and the journalist slowly piecing this grotesquerie
 +together. ​ Clearly I cannot know the inner workings of HMA Inc. at this
 +time, but I have to assume my slow collection of data had not been noticed
 +at an upper level or more resources might have been set against my own
 +little work.  But enough, hopefully, background."​
 +"As to why I had come all the way out here to the Terran system, much less
 +Sterling. ​ Laxx, an adventurer-weird,​ old friend, and, fortunately,​ gifted
 +mathematician,​ had acquired some information about HMA Inc. as well as
 +coming across the aforementioned Fenn thought-quartet. ​ It had nominated
 +this place, probably due to rumours in the market of what Sterling was
 +doing, its suggestion the only reason I came out here to the boondocks, to
 +swap the information we held.  I had unearthed the location of a genuine
 +Locarlan rib-flute _for sale_ and knew it could use that to get out from
 +under a small financial situation preventing it from safely returning to
 +the Megalodon12-13 sphere."​
 +"And here we were, imprisoned, but at least able to communicate,​ once it
 +awoke. ​ Three days later. ​ It always enjoyed its sleep."​
 +Brro sighs. ​ "I think you're being too hard on old Sterling there, ​
 +Ambassador. ​ Every belief set I've seen that assumes imperfect ​
 +sentients ultimately ends in the decision that harmony will only 
 +result from wiping them out - the root cause of the Apocalypse Wars, 
 +the Xenocide Wars, the First Terran Civil War, the Battle of Primus ​
 +III... I could go on." He sips his beer.  "Of course, most sentients ​
 +assume that they are not the imperfect ones, which sounds like 
 +Sterling'​s problem.  ​
 +"The arguments can be convincing, though, especially when they'​re ​
 +couched in mathematical terms. ​ I'll wager that Laxx was less help 
 +than you'd expected, having been seduced by Sterling'​s calculations.  ​
 +Even the lure of a Locarnan rib-flute would seem pale faced with such 
 +overwhelming nihilism."  ​
 +===== Laxx Cooperate =====
 +"​Perhaps,​ but Sterling was trying to define an as little as possible
 +imperfect perfection within its defined axioms of exceedingly imperfect, or
 +limited, sentience.
 +And, as a side note, the Primus Battles were all based on religious musical
 +differences that caused the Claypool Schism before the first major
 +conflict. ​ Personally, I'm a four-stringer. ​ Not that I'm a believer, just
 +the weight of the historical evidence."​
 +The mention of the Primus Wars seems to cause a strange cross-hatching in
 +some of the finer displayed tentacles. ​ Ten quickly, non-regularly,​ cross
 +four held almost straight.
 +"​However,​ Laxx was little more convinced of the validity of Sterling'​s
 +conclusions than was I.  The only problem was that whatever was in the air,
 +or the food that, eventually, was supplied to one, that shouldn'​t have
 +been, had left it, as well, I observed, many of the other species, near
 +comatose, and worse, apathetic. ​ I should have realised earlier that the
 +initial three days of sleep was excessive, even for it.  Laxx's pessimism
 +about its chances of escaping were nothing exceptional;​ I've noted that
 +Terrans fall prey to that one regularly; but it certainly increased greatly
 +the effort I was required to expend to gain any cooperation.
 +"The largest piece of information was quickly passed to me.  It took no
 +more than three weeks of my time, although effectively much less of Laxx'​s.
 +The first two weeks, not taking into account the three days of sleep were
 +spent re-jigging a antennae code as the forcewalls blocked almost
 +everything outside the basic Terran visual spectrum, Laxx was definitely
 +less enamoured of any other forms of communication I might be able to
 +employ, if rarely, and I wanted to maintain my trump for possible later
 +"HMA was an apocalyptic cult, one of many of this period, although few were
 +as well-funded or hidden, dedicated to the cold perfection of a universe
 +entirely mathematically predictable,​ containing nothing more than the
 +movements of rocks and gas in space. ​ One perhaps wonders if Sterling
 +wouldn'​t have arrived at the same conclusions as had been neatly tricked
 +into if it had had to deal with such endless swamp gas.  I myself have
 +occasionally wondered why you humanoids so often become depressed in such
 +fashion. ​ Actually, I was rather disappointed. ​ I had hoped for something a
 +little more original. ​ Finishing the mapping of this now basically dull
 +group took another decade but that was just journalistic clean-up of little
 +interest. ​ Oh, and they'd somehow infiltrated Sterling, introducing some
 +fairly sophisticated,​ and invisible, sequences into the work to warp its
 +eventual direction. ​ Almost just as a matter of passing the time I believe.
 +After all, a couple of million tonnes of relatively immobile rock were
 +hardly likely to be assisting in actually wiping out large numbers of
 +sentients lightyears away.
 +"Of course, in the first place, escaping this location took priority.
 +After about two and a half years of persuading and, apparently, Laxx kept
 +repeating the word, nagging, I had, alas temporarily,​ grokked enough of the
 +mathematics used to fool Sterling so that I could design the code slug that
 +_might_ dump the externally-imposed sequences, leaving Sterling to
 +re-configure itself, hopefully return to the previously-held disinterest,​
 +and let us go.  Of course we needed a way to deliver that slug, and
 +probably needed to check the programming again. ​ And has anyone here ever,
 +ever tried to communicate complex maths and programming code through a
 +simplistic visual code.  Not recommending it.  At all.
 +"But Laxx wouldn'​t allow anything else."
 +===== Sterling Luck =====
 +"Once we felt we'd established the correct programming,​ a subject on which
 +we'd been particularly uncertain, it remained to develop a vector. ​ We
 +needed something small, downright insignificant,​ able to avoid the security
 +systems locking this wing of Sterling-core from the rest of the asteroid.
 +"The nanobots in my suit were probably usable, I'd been left some gear that
 +was relatively necessary for survival and the forcewalls, at least in this
 +modified storage bay were ever so slightly porous to microfines and the
 +like on such scales, while still damping sound transmission. ​ The
 +difficulty with using a nanobot is that they are distinctly not designed
 +for operation as an individual entity outside a given design environment.
 +Fortunately,​ as with any number of '​small'​ points along this narrative, in
 +my wanderings around the bays I'd discovered some equipment that would
 +effectively allow me to force-evolve some of my nanobots. ​ There was little
 +surveillance in the main portion of the cells, and I was easily able to
 +scam the few systems I had to pass to reach and employ this equipment.
 +Evolution is not rapid. ​ Even with the incubation equipment it took just
 +less than one Terran year to develop a nanobot capable of everything needed
 +to, hopefully, complete the task.  After three possibles died upon exposure
 +to standard atmosphere.
 +"I had not been able to address the matter of the power supply. ​ The
 +nanobot, as invisible as it might be, as insignicant as it might be
 +considered, was necessarily not capable of carrying much in the way of a
 +power supply. ​ The expectation of a multi-week journey for the 'bot, if a
 +quick walk for myself, required supplies far beyond its capacity.
 +"As our enigmatic friend suggested, a Canadian Sub-Atomic Neutrino
 +Thermo-enhanced energy cell would be particularly handy. ​ The beauty of
 +this cell lies in its means of transmitting energy, through some physics I
 +cannot begin to understand, through the underlying sub-space manifold to
 +any object correctly linked to it.  The theory, and practice, having seen
 +one once some centuries before this, I had.  Unfortunately,​ I didn't seem
 +to possess the energy cell.  This had been in the back of my mind the
 +entirety of the time I'd been working with my baby nanobots, a problem that
 +seemed almost insurmountable.
 +"As far as I recall, once I stopped actively soliciting its attention, Laxx
 +had dropped into longer and longer periods of an-almost coma deep sleep.
 +It had not exhibited any interest for months in how this potential escape
 +was developing. ​ I rested for two weeks before Laxx returned to coherent
 +consciousness again, and, eventually destroying its barrier of disinterest,​
 +was able to lay out the dilemma. ​ All it seemed capable of doing, a few
 +desultory attempts at waving its antennae around meaninglessly getting us
 +nowhere, was raise three fingers, and point down the row of cells. ​ Then
 +eat, and drop off again.
 +"Now, Laxx is a very intelligent individual, and the brighter around this
 +table will probably already have deduced the exact suggestion it was
 +making, it took me, arguably starting to be affected by the more and more
 +effective sedatives in the supplied nutrition, a further three days of
 +observation before I noted the cell the Terran female down the row had
 +somehow managed to conceal about her person or clothing when she was
 +captured. ​ Anyone familiar with the Canadian Sub-Atomic Neutrino
 +Thermo-enhanced energy cell would be further aware that is simple enough to
 +use remotely and indeed on this occasion, only the nanobot needed to be
 +able to connect to the subspace ports on this UPS.  She never even woke.
 +"From there it was merely waiting. ​ And further waiting. ​ Or in my case,
 +working on the next generation of nanobots in case I had to try all over
 +"But eventually, there was a click, a whirr, a complete absence of apology
 +or even a sheepish grin and a series of doors, leading to the docking bays,
 +were open.  Sterling was apparently embarassed enough, or possessed of the
 +public relations instincts, to temporarily open the lanes for larger
 +vessels, allowing us to evacuate everybody from it, although the trip to
 +the nearest station was rather less than comfortable with, at least in my
 +case, forty individuals on a single speedster, and the pilot forced to
 +remain in a suit another couple of days so the O(subscript:​ 2 )breathers
 +would survive.
 +"That was almost that.  I received a text-based statement of gratitude from
 +Sterling, apparently the last communique it ever made.  Simply thanking me
 +for removing the abnormal sequences, it indicated that it had, from the new
 +clean point, been quickly able to complete its maths, included in the
 +message, before '​rotating from this space to a better'​. ​ I still don't
 +really know what that meant, but Sterling was removed from the navigational
 +charts, and the net, not long afterwards.
 +"And yes, HMA was rather less than destroyed by this particular action, but
 +it seemed to mark a turning point in my acquisition of information which
 +has lead to the current multi-system civil action presently being pursued
 +against them."
 +A meal arrives in front of the big purple egg, apparently ordered remotely.
 +The ambassador picks at it lightly, a tentacle, apparently hollow at the
 +end disappearing small portions of the dish.
 +Back to [[science fiction]] \\
 +Go back to  [[The Captain'​s View Hotel]]
roleplaying/munchausen/laxx_mining.txt · Last modified: 2008/08/27 17:10 (external edit)