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[Fan Fiction] Sufficiently Advanced 
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Post Re: [Fan Fiction] Sufficiently Advanced
Absalom wrote:
The Loroi recoil in fear as they sense Alex create a psionic life-form from a "formula", to act as an (often bizarre, and possibly even random) intermediary?

There's also futile struggles, and Pyrrhic delays (not victories, most of the time), and if you ever defeat Nyarlathotep then Azathoth still will be every bit as immortal and blind.


I don't think I can really go with either of those ideas, sadly. Were Humanity to notice the Loroi in any meaningful way, either by creating a method where true communication would be possible or by engaging in any form of serious conflict (no matter how lopsided), this would be a story about radical imperialism and not cosmic horror. So as far as this narrative is concerned, Loroi = ant, Human = boot.

Mr Bojangles wrote:
Perhaps humanity or their enemy sets off a weapon that has the side effect of driving lesser telepathic beings insane. The fact that Alex was in the Steppes could suggest that some new front has opened in the local realspace/timeframe of the Local Bubble. Not every weapon deployment need result in a rewrite of history - tactical considerations, perhaps?

Does humanity still consider Earth their home turf? If so, Loroi space is pretty much at the doorstep given the reach of TL16 species. Maybe humanity is on the back foot and is going to start lashing out...


Actually, it wouldn't be hard to bring the fight to the Loroi, provided we throw out Humanity's time-control abilities. While I always pictured them with at least some ability to manipulate time, they don't need it to do anything that Alex did in the previous story snip. If we lock out time-shenanigans, we are left with a much more conventional war (sort of), though still one the Loroi would be barely able to witness. Based off what I know about higher-dimensional combat, a pair of 11th dimensional warships duking it out would be really nuts to watch.

:twisted:

I'm gonna have fun with this.

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Tue Mar 08, 2016 9:13 am
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Post Re: [Fan Fiction] Sufficiently Advanced
joestej wrote:

Mr Bojangles wrote:
Perhaps humanity or their enemy sets off a weapon that has the side effect of driving lesser telepathic beings insane. The fact that Alex was in the Steppes could suggest that some new front has opened in the local realspace/timeframe of the Local Bubble. Not every weapon deployment need result in a rewrite of history - tactical considerations, perhaps?

Does humanity still consider Earth their home turf? If so, Loroi space is pretty much at the doorstep given the reach of TL16 species. Maybe humanity is on the back foot and is going to start lashing out...


Actually, it wouldn't be hard to bring the fight to the Loroi, provided we throw out Humanity's time-control abilities. While I always pictured them with at least some ability to manipulate time, they don't need it to do anything that Alex did in the previous story snip. If we lock out time-shenanigans, we are left with a much more conventional war (sort of), though still one the Loroi would be barely able to witness. Based off what I know about higher-dimensional combat, a pair of 11th dimensional warships duking it out would be really nuts to watch.

:twisted:

I'm gonna have fun with this.


The ability to manipulate time seems like a reasonable assumption to me, but I would argue that an 11D warship could be just as "Oh-damn-I-need-to-change-my-armor-now!" terrifying without it. I say go nuts!


Tue Mar 08, 2016 12:01 pm
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Post Re: [Fan Fiction] Sufficiently Advanced
Sufficiently Advanced, Part 2

“You let it run loose?” asked Stillstorm, her mind a tempest of barely contained fury.

“With respect, Lashret, there was little else we could do,” explained Beryl respectfully. Beside her, Fireblade nodded in agreement. “As has already been proven, our weapons can do little more than inconvenience him, and all attempts to restrain him with mental abilities are reflected.”

“So seal the damn room and let it rot,” Stillstorm snapped, her eyes flashing.

“We tried. I’m not sure what he did, but he…warped through, somehow. He’s done the same thing every time we’ve attempted to physically restrict his movement. In the end we just gave up trying.”

“You’re telling me this alien can pass through solid matter?”

“Not through, I think,” mused Beryl. “More like around.”

“Make sense, Tozet,” snapped Stillstorm, her temper flaring again.

“Our scanners haven’t been able to detect any energy spikes when he phases, but the effect obviously isn’t constant or he’d slip right through the deck when he walked. My team and I spoke with the Historian Emissary, and-”

“You contacted the Emissary? Under whose authorization?”

“Mine,” announced Tempo, sweeping onto the bridge with a small smile. Stillstorm’s frown deepened. “This is a diplomatic matter now, Lashret, and thus my authority supersedes yours. We needed the Historians’ expertise to understand exactly what we are dealing with.”

“Oh? And what great diplomatic strides have you made?”

“…none,” Tempo admitted, her smile fading. Stillstorm smirked. “The alien has not communicated with anyone since the first incident in the medbay. It barely seems to notice our presence. Hence why I believed we required additional assistance.”

A young Soroin walked up behind Tempo, bearing the cylindrical form of the Historian beacon. She placed it on the ground, and the lid immediately retracted to reveal the device’s projection crystal. The ghostly hologram of the skeletal construct blossomed into existence moments later, a pleased expression on its alien face.

“Greetings, Parat Tempo, Lashret Stillstorm,” it rasped. “As always, it is a pleasure to be able to bestow the wisdom of the Historians to you.”

“Save the garbage,” Stillstorm snapped verbally, earning a spiteful glare from Tempo. She ignored it. “There is an unknown alien wandering loose inside my ship. What do you know?”

“Based on the facts provided to me by Beryl Tozet, I suspect your new guest is hyperdimensional.”

“And what exactly is that supposed to mean?”

“We perceive the world in three dimensions: length, width, and depth,” Beryl explained hastily, stepping forward to address the group. “But mathematically, many experts suspect there are several more that we can’t perceive. Hyperspace, for example.”

“...and?”

“And it seems likely that this alien exists at least partially in one or more higher dimensions. It’s how he can bypass physical barriers without additional energy expenditure: he walks ‘over’ them. It also explains why our weapons have very little effect. What we are shooting at is nothing more than a fraction of the true whole.”

“Fine. How do we stop it?”

“You don’t,” said the Emissary with finality. “The creature is likely harmless and will probably wander away in time. Until it does so, I suggest you ignore it as it ignores you.”

“Oh? And how can you be so sure?” asked Stillstorm suspiciously.

“Because you have nothing it wants.”

Without warning, a deafening chorus of klaxons and alarms began to blare. The bridge lights began to flash red, and Stillstorm shot the Emissary a spiteful glare.

“You were saying?” she snapped, turning to the main display. “Report! What’s going on?”

Fireblade walked over to her station and pressed a series of icons. A holographic image of the ship’s jump field generator appeared, the mysterious alien standing on thin air beside it. He didn’t seem to be doing anything to the generator itself, just staring, but judging from the frantic movements in the background, something was definitely happening.

“The generator is charging!” Beryl reported from her station, staring at a wall of holographic readouts and icons. “The alien must have turned it on somehow! If we jump to hyperspace without a vector-”

“I know! Cut the capacitors!” Stillstorm ordered instantly, silencing the sirens with a wave.

“Capacitors disconnected,” reported Beryl seconds later, her face a grim mask. “The generator is still active, but it shouldn’t have enough charge to transition the entire ship.”

“Tozet, I need a best and worst case. What happens if we don’t stop the generator?”

“If we don’t shut it down it will project a small jump field around itself and anything near it. Best case, we lose the generator, stranding Tempest in this system indefinitely. Worse case, it takes a big chunk of the superstructure with it when it shifts, and the ship breaks in half.”

“Harmless, you said?” Stillstorm spat angrily at the Emissary, who continued to watch expressionlessly. “Send all security teams and engineers to the generator. I want it offline immediately. Destroy it if you have to. And someone find me a way kill that damn alien, before it can try to slaughter us all again!”

“You are not authorized-” Tempo began, her tone dark, but the furious Stillstorm cut her off.

“This stopped being a diplomatic matter when your ‘guest’ tried to tear apart my ship. It is now a security issue. Thus, my authority supersedes yours,” she echoed, smiling venomously. “Take a seat, Parat, before I have someone remove you from my bridge.”

Tempo complied, retreating to her assigned station with an unreadable expression.

“Status on the generator!” Stillstorm demanded, returning her attention to Beryl.

“Light weaponry and emergency tools aren’t enough to get through its casing, and they’re having no effect on the alien either,” she pronounced instantly. “A team with-No! Jump field forming!”

“All hands brace!” roared Stillstorm, grabbing her chair’s armrests in anticipation of the massive shock the departing generator would no doubt cause. The impact came as expected, but the blast was mental, not physical.

HERE

The pain was intense, stronger than any telepathic strike she had ever felt. Her vision went a dark shade of blue, and her face felt wet. Reaching up with a hand as her eyes began to clear, she realized her nose was leaking blood.

The rest of the bridge had fared no better. Many had collapsed at their stations, knocked unconscious by the psychic shock. Only Fireblade and Tempo seemed to still have full command of their senses.

“What…what was that?” she panted, glancing at her screens. “Somone…status report.”

“…the…the drive reports no damage…” Beryl sent, her mental voice a pained whisper. “Shift…lasted for…split-second. Rema…rematerialized…exactly where…it was…supposed to be.”

“Not possible,” Stillstorm objected, fighting a wave of dizziness. “No jump’s…that precise.”

“It might be if it had guidance,” Tempo pointed out, her sending annoyingly composed. “The alien used our generator to send a message, then put it back where it was supposed to be.”

“Message?” asked Stillstorm, her foggy brain failing to make the connection at first. She got it a moment before Tempo answered.

“A distress call. He is summoning his people to come collect him.”

To be continued...

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Last edited by joestej on Wed Mar 09, 2016 6:16 am, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Mar 08, 2016 2:08 pm
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Post Re: [Fan Fiction] Sufficiently Advanced
:shock:

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Tue Mar 08, 2016 3:37 pm
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Post Re: [Fan Fiction] Sufficiently Advanced
Oh god, that shit is priceless. Oh please please please have Alex go full Q on their blue asses. Have him take away Fireblade's psychokinesis and give it to Shoe Girl (Cloud). Have him start giving them random hair colors with stripes, polka dots, plaid, the works. Sky's the limit here baby, let's see some action!


Tue Mar 08, 2016 5:13 pm
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Post Re: [Fan Fiction] Sufficiently Advanced
Is it OK that I laughed? Because I did. At Stillstorm. Oh, man, if she thought her day was bad before...

Hope everyone packed their brown pants before they deployed. :twisted:


Tue Mar 08, 2016 7:48 pm
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Post Re: [Fan Fiction] Sufficiently Advanced
"and will wander away in time." Clearly the Historians have dealt with such things (often), and finally just threw up their hands in futility.


Tue Mar 08, 2016 10:51 pm
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Post Re: [Fan Fiction] Sufficiently Advanced
Grayhome wrote:
Have him take away Fireblade's psychokinesis and give it to Shoe Girl (Cloud).




:D

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Post Re: [Fan Fiction] Sufficiently Advanced
joestej wrote:
Her vision went red, and her face felt wet.


Shouldn't her vision go blue, since loroi have blue blood?

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Post Re: [Fan Fiction] Sufficiently Advanced
Grayhome wrote:
Oh god, that shit is priceless. Oh please please please have Alex go full Q on their blue asses. Have him take away Fireblade's psychokinesis and give it to Shoe Girl (Cloud). Have him start giving them random hair colors with stripes, polka dots, plaid, the works. Sky's the limit here baby, let's see some action!


But then Stillstorm would give some inspiring speech about the value of the Loroi and their culture, and Alex would put everything back and leave. Or she'd pull a DS9 and just deck him. ...which would actually be in character for her, come to think of it.

But while 'God-like Alex trolls the Loroi' would be amusing I suppose, one of the primary objectives for this story was to create a TL16 Humanity that wasn't Q. Sorry!

Mr Bojangles wrote:
Is it OK that I laughed? Because I did. At Stillstorm. Oh, man, if she thought her day was bad before...

Hope everyone packed their brown pants before they deployed. :twisted:


I feel bad for her, I really do. Things are only going to get worse from here on out. Hopefully I'll get a chance to showcase that while her personality leaves much to be desired, she's an extremely talented commander. Some badass points might do a bit to offset that massive headache she's getting.

Absalom wrote:
"and will wander away in time." Clearly the Historians have dealt with such things (often), and finally just threw up their hands in futility.


I left it open to interpretation, and I've changed the Emissary's line to be a bit more vague to help with that. If anyone has bumped into a higher-dimensional life form in the past, it would be them, but they aren't exactly known for fully disclosing the information they've gathered.

Carl Miller wrote:
Shouldn't her vision go blue, since loroi have blue blood?


Yes. I suspected it might when I wrote it, but I was too busy to do the necessary digging into presyncope and redouts to confirm the redness was definitely caused by blood-flow. It's been fixed via edit.

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Wed Mar 09, 2016 6:42 am
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Post Re: [Fan Fiction] Sufficiently Advanced
Sufficiently Advanced, Part 3

Thunderbolt reports loss of main power, recovery expectancy zero. Request permission to evacuate and resign vessel.”

“Request approved,” Stillstorm answered heavily, staring at the drifting wreckage that had once been Winter Tide. No matter how many ships she saw gutted by the Shells, it never got easier.

“Alert, Fifty-One! We are picking up a new group of signals! A second enemy fleet is emerging from the disc! This group is significantly larger than the first.”

She ground her teeth as the new icons began appearing on her display. Yet another catastrophe brought on the strange alien they had recovered. Most of her crew were back to something resembling their full abilities, but its distress call had taken a terrible toll on her fleet’s farseers. The few who were still conscious were in no condition to use their abilities, and according to the medical reports there were one or two who might not ever wake up.

Which left her fleet was trapped in an empty system, blind and understrength, protecting a wreck too valuable to hand to the Umiak but too advanced to destroy. She’d been in worse positions, though she struggled to remember exactly when. At least the Historian Emissary had been able to explain why there was so little remaining of the alien ship: most of it was still in a higher dimension. Whatever that meant.

“Twenty-two quincunx squadrons around a core formation of thirty heavy vessels. Confirm at least ten of those are superheavies. The new group is not under acceleration. They are just drifting there at the disc interface.”

“Interesting,” Tempo sent, glancing at an icon to her left. She touched it, and the leering insectoid face of an Umiak appeared in the air before them.

“[Forces of the Hierarchy] finding it necessary/appropriate to request to engage in communication contacts [the enemy forces] to request to engage in communication setting Trade Bade requesting communication…” clicked the hissing voice of the Umiak. Stillstorm’s stomach twisted in revulsion. From the expression of several members of her crew, she wasn’t the only one. “That which speaks to [the enemy forces] exists [Kikitik-27-Tikhak-Tikkukit] respond presently…”

“This is a novelty. Have the Shells become so desperate that they will speak to the enemy?” she mocked, projecting a bravdo she didn’t feel. There was no way her remaining forces would be able to hold off a fleet that size, not in a static engagement with their farseers disabled. The Shells didn’t need to know that, however. “I am listening. Be brief.”

“Abnormality it is communication with [the enemy forces] when the situation is shown to be abnormal by [the Storm-Witch] known to us that does not retreat when attacked which is abnormal and the existence of [the object in question] that cannot be obtained by direct action which is abnormal…” ticked the synthesized voice of the creature. “We do not expect success of communication however there is nothing to be lost by communication when the time becomes irrevocable as it has…”

“Get to the point, if there is one.”

“Resulting from the preceding assault which [the Storm-Witch] made costly we have now observed at close range [the object in question] that is the remains of an advanced alien vessel we assert technology from [the object in question] was also the source of [the hyperspace anomaly] observed by these forces…”

Stillstorm kept her face neutral. The fact that the Umiak had noticed the alien’s stunt with Tempest’s field generator was unfortunate, though the fact that they hadn’t realized exactly what her forces had pulled from the wreckage was comforting. Despite that, at the moment she was tempted to hand the troublesome alien over to the Shells and let it tear their ships apart for a chance. Only the horrific idea that they might somehow unlock one of its strange secrets prevented her from seriously considering it.

“With certainty [the object in question] is an object of importance as shown by [the Storm-Witch] that has demonstrated to us intent and means by defending it and using it to create [the hyperspace anomaly] therefore with certainty this is an object of importance to us also and now we demonstrate intent and means by displaying the balance of our forces to [the Storm-Witch] and that which is [Kikitik-27-Tikhak-Tikkukit] now negotiates to acquire [the object in question] that cannot be obtained by direct action which is abnormal…”

“I have faced this one before. I recognize its odd behavior,” Stillstorm announced, a memory stirring. “I have seen it withdraw from an unfavorable fight when the rest of its empty husks brainlessly came on until the last.”

“Humbly we are gratified to be recognized by an opponent such as [the Storm-Witch] know to us with certainty credited for murders uncountable which we must respect…”

“I meant no compliment, so keep yours,” she retorted, her mind racing. “Tozet! I need to know: can we destroy the alien wreckage?”

“Unknown. We might be able to do enough damage with our plasma pulse cannons or the Wave-Loom Device to render what little there is unusable, but there’s a possibility that such an attack could cause it to spin, moving more of the wreckage into our dimension.”

“Wonderful,” she thought as the Umiak began its wretched clicking again.

“We suggest a proposal if [the enemy forces] simply abandon [the object in question] to us we agree to spare those forces of [the Storm-Witch] known to us without harm we only wish [the object in question] no more need be murdered further death not our objective…”

“Fool. If I choose to leave, there is nothing to prevent me,” she retorted scornfully.

In truth, she wasn’t so sure. The alien had already displayed an alarming ability to affect their jump field generator simply by being near it. If the creature did not want them to leave the system, it would certainly be able to stop them. Considering it had already sent a distress call, it would likely be quite opposed to the idea of departing before its recovery vessel arrived.

Not for the first time she was struck with the overwhelming temptation to simply use the alien as a shield against the Umiak. Provided her fleet could hold out until its forces came to collect it, they might use their superior technology to take out the Shells for her, if only to keep them from destroying the vessel that carried their comrade. Again, she shut down the idea. More likely they would puck the alien from Tempest without a trace and depart, leaving her fleet to die. Or they might turn their weapons on the Loroi when they were done with the Umiak. Her marines had tried to kill the alien on several occasions, after all.

“We do not expect cooperation from [the Storm-Witch] however we will derive no gratification from the destruction of [the respected enemy] which is unnecessary blood boiling in empty space nourishing nothing revered by no one. [Kikitik-27] whose promise is binding offer the opportunity to depart without harm we wait for an answer there is no hurry waiting costs us nothing we can wait…”

“I will consider your offer,” snapped Stillstorm, gesturing to kill the feed.

“You aren’t actually considering turning the derelict over to them?” Tempo asked, arching an eyebrow as the Umiak’s image vanished. “I hope I don’t need to remind you how dangerous that technology could be in the wrong hands.”

“The Shells will get that wreck over my dead body,” she declared with a snarl. “But if they want to give us more time, I am more than happy to let them. The aliens can take care of their own mess. We just need to buy time until they arrive.”

“I have heard of this creature that commands their forces. ‘The Stray.’ It is not a fool. It will realize we are stalling before long, if it has not already done so.”

“Which is why I do not intend to stall,” Stillstorm replied calmly. “Charge the Wave-Loom!”

“Confirmed. Starting Wave-Loom charge sequence.”

“Movement from the enemy. They have detected the energy buildup and are starting to accelerate on an attack vector!”

“Let them,” she ordered. “All ships to defensive formation!”

Stillstorm smiled confidently as she watched the Umiak formation advance. The smile was fake, but she kept it up anyway. If she escaped this with even half of her force intact, she would count herself incredibly fortunate.

Tsunami at four-six. Left wing squadron reports all ships ready.”

Black Razor at three-one. Right wing ready for action.”

Torrent at three-zero. Center squadron stands ready. Interceptors are rearmed and on station.”

“Van squadron reformed and returning to the line. Time to line: ten beats.”

“The Van will be their target this time, with Tempest as a secondary,” announced Stillstorm. “We are understrength and most of our ordinance has been exhausted. The enemy knows this. They’ll try to overwhelm us with numbers. The superheavies won’t engage until after the Wave-Loom fires. Ignore the derelict, survival is a priority.”

Tempest! At quick for action!”

“Wave-Loom charge at forty percent. The enemy forces have kicked off their gunboats.”

“I noticed,” she grumbled as the display lit up with hundreds of smaller contacts that shot forward. It was a tired tactic, but an effective one. The next step would be an alpha strike with the gunboats’ combined payloads. Against so many, she knew there was no way her interceptors and point defense lasers would be able to keep up. The solon ticked past in tense silence.

“Wave-Loom at sixty percent. Enemy approaching torpedo range.”

“Hold position,” Stillstorm ordered, carefully ignoring the digital counter that would show exactly how lopsided the odds against her currently were. She just had to hold out a little longer. Not for the first time, she cursed the alien for putting them in such a deadly predicament. They never should have saved it.

“Wave-Loom at seventy-five percent charge. The capacitors are still recovering from the emergency-disconnect we made earlier. Additional charging may cause overloads and make the heat system over-saturate when it fires.”

“I am aware. Continue charging.”

“Enemy has entered torpedo range. We have incoming ordinance.”

Stillstorm looked at the display and the solid wall of red contacts indicating the Umiak projectiles. She smiled. Shells were always so predictable.

“All ships come to new heading! Condense on Tempest, maximum thrust! I want every ship close enough to trade paint with us! Pull the interceptors to the rear and lock the Wave-Loom on the center of the enemy missile volley!”

A cone of light appeared in the display, indicating the blast area of the Wave-Loom. As the Loroi icons began to slide sideways, closing toward Tempest, the red dots of the Umiak torpedoes began to bunch, maneuvering further into the Wave-Loom’s lethal corridor.

“Wave-Loom at ninety percent! Accumulators reporting increased heat!”

“Wait for it…” ordered Stillstorm, watching as more and more missiles began to slide into the past of the Wave-Loom.

“Ninety-five percent! Overload on capacitor nine! Backups engaging!”

“Wait for it…”

The Van and Center squadrons had already compressed, sliding closer to Tempest than any rational formation would ever allow. The Right and Left Squadrons were closing as well now. This was their only shot with the Wave-Loom, and Stillstorm was determined not to waste it. Even if she had to destroy the weapon in the process.

“Maximum charge! Capacitors three, five, and eleven are about to overload! The backups are not going to hold. We have to fire now!”

“Just a little more…” she muttered, watching as the last of her ships slid toward Tempest. “Now!”

The ship shook and the lights dimmed as a column of energy tore loose from where it had been contained, ripping across space to annihilate everything in its path. The huge Umiak salvo was swept away in an instant, tens of thousands of torpedoes and missiles annihilated by the storm of plasma. The few not caught in the blast would be easy prey for the Loroi lasers.

The beam didn’t stop there. It continued through the swarm of ordinance to smash aside gunships, destroyers, and even light cruisers with reckless ferocity. Stillstorm noted to her chagrin that this 'Stray' Umiak commander had obviously figured out her ploy some time ago, and attempted to pull many of its ships out of the Loom’s lethal corridor, but several ships either weren’t fast enough or foolishly underestimated the power of the Loom. They paid for the mistakes with their lives.

“All squadrons, wedge formation! Prepare for close engagement!” she ordered as soon as the beam faded away. “And get me a damage report! How bad is the heat buildup?”

“A mix. The heat system was completely saturated, but appears to be recovering rapidly,” reported Beryl with some confusion, staring at her instruments. “Too rapidly. This shouldn’t be possible.”

To the side, Fireblade struck several icons on her terminal, bringing up a new image on the display. The alien was walking through one of the rows of heatsinks in the forward section, the air around him rippling with the temperature. He didn’t seem to notice, nor was he paying attention the many warning lights glowing on the saturated sinks, but every device he passed immediately switched back into its normal operational mode, the waves of heat vanishing in an instant.

“He’s shunting the heat away dimensionally!” the Tozet chirped in excitement. “At least, I think he is! At this rate of dissipation we can start accumulating Loom charge immediately, without any risk to the ship!”

“Maybe he’s not such a waste after all,” Stillstorm remarked, watching with a predatory grin as the Umiak superheavies started to move in. “Have the forward elements boost their ECM, then start charging the Wave-Loom again! The Shells are about to get a nasty surprise.”

“Wave-Loom charging. Total charge now at-”

“Multiple hyperspace jumps detected! Five contacts, two light seconds away on inbound vector nine-four! They’re small: the largest is only one hundred meters long. No, wait, now it’s fifty meters long…three hundred meters…”

“What?” she asked in confusion, staring at her display, which appeared to have gone insane. The five contacts appeared almost instantly, but then one vanished. Then two more appeared without warning, only for another of originals to vanish a few seconds later. “What the heck is going on? Are they radiating some form of ECM?”

“Negative, no interference we can detect. The signals just aren’t making sense! No detectable thruster exhaust, but they’re moving at incredible speed. Forty Gs and still accelerating. We can’t get any data on their composition, because their shapes keep changing almost at random. Their jump fields still up as well, which definitely shouldn’t be possible! They’re moving in complete unison though, even when their shapes change or one of them vanishes. I’ve never seen so much coordination between separate vessels, especially when they’re packed this tightly. The squadron is completely in unison.”

“It’s not a squadron, it’s a ship,” Beryl announced, eyes rapidly scanning through the wall of data hovering in front of her. “But we can only perceive the pieces of it that intersect with our dimension, so it looks like many parts moving in unison. It is why their jump fields are still up: the ship is sliding past us through a higher dimension.”

“I understood none of that, and I do not care. What are the Umiak making of the new arrival?”

“They’re falling back. Looks like they don’t want to get near these-this thing.”

Stillstorm smirked.

“Hold position and chart us a course out of this system. The moment these people pick up their refugee, we are leaving,” she ordered, watching the Umiak ships scurry away as the shifting cluster of signals raced toward the Loroi formation. “Where’s the alien?”

On cue, the creature appeared, walking through a nearby wall in a way the made Stillstorm’s eyeballs bend. She blinked rapidly as it walked into the middle of the bridge and stared straight through the hull, as though it could see the strange ship that was still over a light second away. Then its face twisted into an expression of horror, the first true display of emotion it had made since it arrived.

A tsunami of sensations and emotions smashed against her mind, but she was ready this time. Instead of trying to block the mental assault, she shifted her defenses to let it cascade around her, flowing with its deafening current. Her skull throbbed and her vision swam as a memory floated to the surface: an incident four years ago when she had casually been scrolling through images of Umiak warships. One image now stuck out: a Type-Z Destroyer, specially equipped with upgraded sensors to act as a listening vessel.

She glanced at the shifting cluster of anomalies bearing down on them, and the image of the destroyer returned again. She moved her gaze to the alien, and found its infinite brown eyes boring into hers. She didn’t need its next mental shout to know exactly what was coming for them.

ENEMY

---

To be concluded...

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Post Re: [Fan Fiction] Sufficiently Advanced
:o

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Post Re: [Fan Fiction] Sufficiently Advanced
Carl Miller wrote:
:o


:lol:

Since we've never actually seen the Wave-Loom get used I had to guess for its activation sequence, so its operation is likely quite different than what Arioch had in mind. Using it as a PD weapon is also probably not all that realistic, since the torpedoes likely wouldn't ever clump enough for the Loom to take out more than a fraction of them, not matter how close the Loroi ships got.

But screw it, it was cool and I needed a way to showcase that Stillstorm really does have the skills to back up her negative attitude. Take it as you will.

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Post Re: [Fan Fiction] Sufficiently Advanced
Guess we're about to find out what it looks like when crap hits a mutli-dimensional fan. This should be fun!

joestej wrote:
Carl Miller wrote:
:o


:lol:

Since we've never actually seen the Wave-Loom get used I had to guess for its activation sequence, so its operation is likely quite different than what Arioch had in mind. Using it as a PD weapon is also probably not all that realistic, since the torpedoes likely wouldn't ever clump enough for the Loom to take out more than a fraction of them, not matter how close the Loroi ships got.

But screw it, it was cool and I needed a way to showcase that Stillstorm really does have the skills to back up her negative attitude. Take it as you will.


I certainly don't have a problem with how you presented the Wave-Loom or Stillstorm's combat acumen. Though I bet she's gonna wish she had something bigger and nastier than a Wave-Loom in the very near future.

Also, this line:

Quote:
On cue, the creature appeared, walking through a nearby wall in a way the made Stillstorm’s eyeballs bend.


is gold. :lol:


Wed Mar 09, 2016 4:38 pm
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Post Re: [Fan Fiction] Sufficiently Advanced
Sufficiently Advanced, Part 4

“Target’s advance has halted just under one light second away,” Beryl reported, trying to make sense of the strange signals they were getting. “It appears to be-”

Her vision went blue and she tasted blood as a horrible hum began vibrating its way through her skull. The sensation was excruciating and impossible to describe. It felt like someone had taken a titanic speaker spewing audio feedback and jammed it against her brainstem, then grabbed a million tiny power cutters and started peeling her frontal lobes away a micrometer at a time.

She was pretty sure she screamed at some point, but the pain was so intense she had no idea whether that was true. It felt like the hum lasted for hours or days, but as the mental static gradually started to recede Beryl had the uncomfortable feeling that the strange attack had really only lasted for a second or two. At least the rest of the bridge seemed to have been hit just as badly. Most were bleeding from their eyes, ears, or noses. Beryl wondered uncomfortably if extended exposure to something like that might not cause actual brain bleeding, and hoped she would never get the chance to find out.

Something beeped insistently on her terminal, and she shifted her blurry vision over to where the sensor feed for the anomalous contacts (or contact, she supposed) was still hovering. It hadn’t gotten any closer, but the mismatched shapes were starting to change. It must have been rotating or shifting in a way they couldn’t perceive. She pondered that for a moment, her gaze drifting toward where the alien was standing with an expression of fear, anger, and resignation on his face. Then she realized what was about to happen.

“Seal all bulkheads!” she yelled, slamming the button to trigger an emergency vent of the ship’s atmosphere. “Evade starboard and brace for impact!”

She had barely sent the words before what felt like a fist the size of a frigate smashed into her, tossing her headfirst into her command station. Time slowed the way it sometimes did in life-and-death situations, and Beryl found her panicked mind racing as the glowing icons of her console shot up at her. Her nose would break first, she decided, and based on the angle of impact most of her teeth would likely follow. Then the full mass of her skull would hit, shattering the surface of the console and, if she was very lucky, knocking her unconscious via head trauma. Either way, the current flowing through the computer would hit her almost instantly after she impacted, lethally electrocuting her and likely setting her hair and skin on fire in the process. As last thoughts went, she decided, these were not the most comforting.

Then she was spiraling away in a whirl of…something. It didn’t feel as though she was moving at all, but the blur of colors and disorientation made it seem like she had somehow fallen directly through the floor and somehow ended up on the ceiling. She looked and found she wasn’t standing on the bridge of Tempest anymore, rather was somehow both above and beside it. Despite no longer being on the ship, she could apparently breathe, though the stars now twisted and warped in strange patterns above her. A jumbled mass of metal drifted in the distance, floating like a sun. It was too far for her to make out any details, and staring hurt her brain, so she returned her attention to Tempest.

The poor ship had seen better days. Something had struck the aft section, a vicious strike that appeared to have bypassed both shields and armor to begin and end directly inside Tempest’s hull. Her rapid action combined with the enemy’s poor aim had apparently saved the ship, but barely. A molten diagonal column had been burned straight through the ship, missing the command center by meters. Most of the port Wave-Loom strut was gone, as was much of the crew area. The hanger was a molten wreck, and a huge chunk of the starboard engine had also been torn away. Only a miracle had saved them from a fuel detonation. Without the last minute attempt at evasion or the emergency vent to contain the shockwaves of the impact, Tempest would have been gutted by the attack.

As the shock of realizing how close they had all come to dying began to fade, Beryl looked down at the ship and wondered if she had survived after all. She wasn’t on the ship, but wasn’t really off of it either. The walls (those that hadn’t melted) were still there, but she could see around them in a way that was impossible to describe. She could see the people on the bridge as well…but they were most definitely not the crewmates she had served with.

Feathery fronds waved through the air from the creatures that did not precisely sit in the bridge’s many seats. Rather, they seemed to simply occupied the space in and around the various chairs, with little regard to physical barriers.

“Damage coming in from all over,” warbled one of the bizarre masses, its strange growths vibrating in time to the words. Beryl realized with some surprise she recognized the voice as belonging to Mallas Rune-Laurel, Tempest’s executive officer. “Deflectors offline, most of our weapons are dead…it’s a miracle we survived.”

“No miracle. The Tozet managed to predict the attack,” crackled the voice of Parat Tempo from a tangle of small tentacles and glowing plumes. Beryl watched with some surprise as each word caused arcs of electricity to jump back and forth across the thing’s body like the bolts of a thunderstorm. “..and then she vanished.”

A new nightmare hovered or slithered its way from Pallan Fireblade’s post, waves of heat radiating from its titanically muscled pseudopods. It stopped near the obliterated wreck that had once been her console, actual flames beginning to flick around the huge feathery appendages that radiated away from it in all directions. One of the writhing limbs, writhed in white-hot flame, shot out in an almost reflexive motion toward something behind it. The blow was slapped aside with almost contemptuous ease as the blow's target lurched down-left-forwardly into Beryl’s view.

She would have vomited if her body could have figured out how. The things that appeared to have replaced Tempest’s crew were impossibly odd, but more curious than repulsive. This…this was an abomination. A twisted fusion of flesh and circuitry, it towered above the rest of the creatures, stretching off beyond her ability to see. Eyes, both artificial and biological, turned toward her as it opened a fleshy maw to reveal rows and rows of spinning mechanical teeth that seemed to stretch further back than the creature itself did.

SAFE

The mouth’s lips moved as though in a whisper, but its voice came out like a legion of saws slashing against one another. The delecate fronds of the smaller creature blew like leaves in a gale, and many recoiled as though in pain. Beryl knew how they felt.

Without warning a mechanical hatch on the monster’s hide slid open, unleashing a column of flesh not unlike a frog’s tongue. It snagged Beryl almost instantly, before she had a chance to even scream, and with a flick sent her flying away in a direction that was neither up nor down, left nor right, but somehow parallel to all of these.

Then she smashed against the plates of the command deck and bounced, floating off into the air in an explosion of pain. A gentle touch stopped her tumble, and she saw Tempo sliding weightlessly toward her, a kind expression on her face. Beryl had a momentary memory of a mass of limbs and lightning, and tried to vomit. Fortunately, nothing came out. Her training had begun to kick back in, and the logical part of her brain was reminding her exactly how puking into zero-gravity was likely to end. The graphic image did little to calm her stomach.

“Gravity…out?” she asked between dry heaves. “Damage?”

“Yes,” Tempo explained in a mental voice that Beryl made absolutely sure did not remind her at all of crackling electricity. “We are crippled, I’m afraid, but fortunately the enemy hasn’t seemed to realize we’re still alive.”

“They…they will,” she wheezed, an image of a titanic mass of metal hovering above her like a moon suddenly flashing back. “They can see…around the hull. Can’t…can’t hide.”

“All ships, lock all available weapons on the anomaly. Reserve nothing,” snapped Stillstorm. “If we must end, we won’t do it without a fight.”

Beryl wanted to say something, to point out the futility of attacking a ship like that with three-dimensional weapons, but stayed silent. Stillstorm knew as well as she did that they had no chance of hurting their attacker. All this could do was provide a momentary comfort, an illusion of importance to them all before they were annihilated. She resigned herself and began to close her eyes, when an icon flickered above the ruins of her station.

In a blaze of light a trio of ships appeared, close enough for the bridge’s battered environmental displays to actually show them. At first Beryl thought they were cones, then spheres, then cubes, and then her brain gave up. They warped in ways that hurt to look at but nonetheless made them seem as though they hadn’t actually changed. Perspective, she reminded herself. It’s like looking through a three dimensional window.

The mental mantra helped a bit, though she still couldn’t make heads or tails of the cluster of shapes before them. Without warning one of the pieces shone with light, a glowing barrier appearing before it just as a torrent of energy slashed silently against it in a brilliant display. Then the light and the fragments of alien starship were gone, as though they’d never been.

Beryl placed a hand on a nearby chair and tossed herself carefully to the remains of her station. The primary tactical display was dead, as were her controls. They were blind. In a moment of frustration she slammed a fist against the side of the projector, and it obediently hummed to life. She didn’t waste time being puzzled by this good fortune. It had been that sort of day. Instead, she began studying the glowing sphere with hawkish intensity, trying to wrest what she could from it.

She couldn’t tell the two ships apart, though they seemed to have no difficulties finding one another. The anomalies moved so fast they seemed to teleport, jumping from one end of the system to the other instantly, energy bursts appearing and vanishing without warning as they dueled somewhere beyond her sensors’ ability to perceive. Or perhaps they did teleport, she thought as thousands of metal contacts flashed into existence a light second away, and then disappeared without a trace. There might not have been that much difference.

“What are the Shells doing?” asked Stillstorm from behind her, and Beryl realized that she had been so enraptured watching the titans duel she hadn’t noticed the Umiak fleet has also begun to move.

“Course indicates…the enemy is falling back,” she replied in confusion. “They’re setting course for the nearest jump point.”

“They’re running?” Stillstorm inquired, her voice incredulous. “Now?”

“If we could, wouldn’t we?” Tempo asked, arching an eyebrow. To underscore her point, something exploded a half-dozen light seconds away, granting the system a second sun for a few fleeting solon.

The battle raged for at least another dozen bima. Beryl lost track after a while. It was the most unnerving conflict she had ever been part of, if one could even say that Tempest had taken part. Bima would crawl past without even a flicker from either combatant, then a blast of energy strong enough to dwarf the Wave-Loom might appear on the other side of the system, vanish to nothing, and reappear almost on top of them. She wasn’t even sure when it finally ended. She just knew that several bima had passed without activity, and then one of the bizarre anomalies was directly on top of them, barely a kilometer from Tempest.

Her breath caught in her throat as she had the horrible thought of what might happen if this was not their strange refugee’s vessel, if its attacker had managed to triumph. Then a wave of relief radiated from the brown-eyed alien, and had she not been floating, she likely would have collapsed as the stress escaped all at once.

She glanced toward him, resolutely reminding herself that it was definitely a ‘him’ and trying very, very hard not to remember the monolith of metal, bone, wire, and muscle she had seen. He nodded toward her, then at Fireblade, then at Stillstorm. She nodded back, as did Fireblade. Stillstorm did not move.

Without warning, he vanished, shooting off into the distance despite the walls that should have prevented such movement. The anomalies hovering in front of Tempest apparently took this as their cue, vanishing in a blast of light. A second later the drifting wreckage that had been the strange alien’s ship also disappeared, obliterated in an instant by a volley of beams that came from nowhere and returned just as quickly. Behind her, she heard Stillstorm sigh.

“Someone get this wreckage cleared away, and let me know how soon we can limp to a jump point. I’ve had enough of this wretched system.”

Despite herself, Beryl found she couldn’t agree more.



“You wanted to see me?”

“Yes. Something about alien we met…”


“Oh?” asked Tempo, smiling gently. “If it helps, it seems most of the crew has similar concerns about what happened. I’ve never seen Fireblade quite so verbose. Meeting something...someone…so far beyond us, it’s naturally a bit humbling.”

“It’s not that,” Beryl replied heavily, frowning.

Tempo didn’t like the look of that. The girl had been almost irrepressible cheerful before, but in the days since the alien vanished, she couldn’t remember seeing Beryl smile even once. Of course, combat fatigue was common, especially for officers so young, so the change wasn’t really a surprise. Just a bit of a disappointment.

“I remember what you told me,” she offered finally. “About how the creature shifted you dimensionally to save you from the blast. About what you saw when he did. It’s alright to be a bit shaken by that.”

“No, that’s not it either,” Beryl confessed, then shuddered. “Alright, it’s not just that.”

“Then what is it that’s troubling you?”


“It’s just…they were so advanced. We couldn’t communicate with them, we couldn’t even see them, not really,” the girl ranted, her frown deepening. “Biologically, he was…I don’t even know what he was!”

Tempo stayed silent, letting her continue. Beryl didn’t even seem to notice.

“I’ve been trying to compute the yields on some of their weapons, and everything I come up with just makes less and less sense! These people, they could have destroyed us without trying! What we saw, that was two ships! It was a skirmish!”

“Their power was quite impressive,” Tempo agreed. “But that’s not what you’re having a problem with, is it?”

“No. It’s…they were familiar!” she exclaimed. “At first I thought that alien was just so all-knowing, so beyond us. But he wasn’t! Their weapons might have been advanced, their technology was amazing, but in the end, they were fighting a war just like we were.”

Tempo said nothing again, simply nodding, her thoughts hidden behind a polite smile.

“I always thought, when this war was over, that I don’t know, maybe we’d finally succeed where the Soia failed. Expand the Union, put an end to all their fighting. But this…” The girl sighed. “They’re what we’re going to turn into, if we win. This is what we have to look forward to. There’s not going to be any grand union, with us as the great protectors. These wars aren’t ever going to stop. They’ll just keep happening, one after the next, until we get wiped out or take the rest of the galaxy with us as we go. All their power, all their mystery, and in the end those aliens were no more advanced than we are.”

Sighing, she placed a comforting hand on Beryl’s shoulder. She knew the right speech to use here, and had used it many times in the past when soldiers who had seen a bit too much started wondering if all the pain was really worth it. In a few days the Tozet would be her usual energetic self again, her doubts forgotten.

Despite this, Tempo couldn’t help but remember how familiar the alien’s face had looked when it seemed they were all about to be destroyed. Somehow, that fearful expression made the universe seem just a bit smaller and dimmer than it had a few days before.

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Post Re: [Fan Fiction] Sufficiently Advanced
Certainly different of what I have in mind and I have to say that it does touch the Cthulhu level.

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Mon Mar 14, 2016 3:03 pm
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Post Re: [Fan Fiction] Sufficiently Advanced
An interesting ending. One thing especially stood out to me: the fact that Alex specifically saved Beryl. Genuine gratitude for saving the ship (and him)? Mere repayment of a debt? Either way, it seems to me that there may still be some semblance of humanity remaining in Alex.

I can't say I'm surprised that beings of nigh-incomprehensible power and knowledge would engage in war. But, maybe I'm just jaded. :P


Mon Mar 14, 2016 11:49 pm
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Post Re: [Fan Fiction] Sufficiently Advanced
dragoongfa wrote:
Certainly different of what I have in mind and I have to say that it does touch the Cthulhu level.


I figured the stories would end up being quite different. That was sort of the point, after all. The Pale Horse is your answer to the "Outsider-verse Human/Cthulhu" question. Sufficiently Advanced was mine. I imagine if a third person were to approach the problem they would come up with a story different from either of ours.

Amusingly, the Cthulhu part was both easy and fun to write. TENTACLES EVERYWHERE!!!!! :lol:

Mr Bojangles wrote:
An interesting ending. One thing especially stood out to me: the fact that Alex specifically saved Beryl. Genuine gratitude for saving the ship (and him)? Mere repayment of a debt? Either way, it seems to me that there may still be some semblance of humanity remaining in Alex.

I can't say I'm surprised that beings of nigh-incomprehensible power and knowledge would engage in war. But, maybe I'm just jaded. :P


There's quite a bit of Humanity remaining in Alex. That's the point, and where the horror comes from. In the end, this is actually a subversion of normal Cosmic Horror: the giant unknowable boot is really just being worn by a larger ant. The horror comes not from the idea of insignificance, but from the revelation that true cultural advancement is impossible. Even at TL16, we're still just monkeys hitting each other over the head with sticks.

It was harder to pull off than I'd have liked, since Loroi have a warrior culture. They would be significantly less horrified by the prospect of that kind of stagnation than a Human would be. Still, if anyone would have regrets about the idea of God being just another monkey with a stick, it would be poor little Beryl.

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