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[Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark 
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Post [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
Alright, the idea for this specific story came to me some time ago.There have been some sources of inspiration, but my style is generally geared towards hard SF.
Since I had some time to spare, I decided to flesh some of it out, and put it down somewhere here, were it would be preserved and read. I'm not much of a fan of fanfiction in general, though I am a fan of literature.I find that fanfiction tends to preserve elements of it's authors's personality, which from a reading standpoint amounts to contamination. I try my best to avoid this, though it is probably inevitable up to a point. I also do not like author proxies, and also try to avoid them as well, though I will still comment on such matters when they show themselves. After each part, I will post some explanations regarding terms or aspects that catch my fancy, if any exist. I won't post updates regularly, since it's mostly a matter of being busy, the muse being asleep, or having enough energy.Another thing to point out is that I let the story grow mostly on it's own, and haven't really planned it all out in detail (even the fact the fact that I started writing it; I just opened a notepad file on a whim and started writing :) ). Of course, my whimsical nature has its downsides. At some point, I may even delete it if I've been in an impas for too long, or I don't like how it came out. Hopefully it never comes to that, but a fair warning is in order. I appreciate your understanding, and feel free to critique.


Sun Jun 24, 2018 5:47 am
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
Introduction: Part I

Spoiler: show
The system was empty. Just one pane of ALON-ceramic multilayered glass separating myself from the inky blackness dotted with points of light.

Of light, hope and horror. Magnificence and danger all in one. Some of these have worlds, and some of those worlds have life. How many of the stars I can see here are inhabited? He frowned as he realized he had not a clue. Why did I never think of that? I should make a mental note to ask what the new estimates on inhabited planets in unaided visual range are. Bet that'd make the astronomer's day", he smirked in his mind.

Still, I can picture these worlds in my head. What are they like? How did they get that way? His wild imagination, a core trait of his since he could remember, birthed vivid images of light and shadow.

Of green and red and gold. Wild creatures running around imaginary forests, life evolving from the oceans, taking its first steps, shaping the worlds across billions of years, taming the elements until they became forgiving and conductive to life's existence. Plants breathing atmospheres of death to microbes, and life to protozoans, alien forests colonizing volcano slopes... Extinction, explosion, dominion, decay, in a fractal pattern from microbes living on leaves to tectonic plates wrestling with one another, while being consumed by the ever growing biosphere living atop and inside them, until, finally, intelligence. Histories of war, armies marching and kicking up dust, sword and spear and shield clashing; families and clans, disappointments, victories, collapse, discovery, adventure, and struggle; enough of them to make the human species blush. An acceleration of the process of evolution like a supernova going off in a molecular cloud, throwing out its seed and coalescing more blobs of hydrogen into stars. Only these were stars of intelligence. Clusters of minds hurling themselves into the dark, grinding and competing with each other whenever they made contact. Therefore, many of them...

Moreover, each with its own glorious past...

"Contact re-established. Preliminary telemetry incoming" blurted the loudspeaker in the ceiling of his room. However, not close to full volume, the sound raged like thunder in the calm, dark chamber.

"Status?" He asked somewhat irritated his revelry had been interrupted.

"Target intact, sir. We are trying to verify its position and vector. Once that's been established, we'll initiate recovery and assessment protocol".

"Keep me updated." Less brutally, if you might.

"Copy that."

Alone, his eyes refocused on the dark expanse in front of his eyes. It is just the abyss and me.... Nothingness and radiation, more of both than the human mind can fathom. In addition, somewhere within... life. Intelligent, powerful, and hungry.

The interruption had changed his mood. The words of his first astronomy professor rung through his head. First class in a new subject, everyone eager to finally learn more about space, about how they had gotten to where they were, and what direction they were heading in. An equally peaceful, but far less tense time... Guess being an astronaut is still every kid's dream. Heh...

The serious middle-aged man that walked in had cut that enthusiasm with a mental blowtorch. "Listen, class. The Universe is Big. About 91 billion light years from what we can tell. It's cold, about 3 degrees Kelvin. And it doesn't give a damn about us". Those words had imprinted onto his mind. The Universe was a dragon, sleeping, and too big to notice the mites living on its hide. They could only hope it did not crush them when it rolled over.

The thought made him uncomfortable. A little taste of control would be in order. Even in times of inactivity, soldiers loved nothing more than routines to keep their minds off impending doom. Goes double for spacers and submariners. Now, I am the middle-aged man... Well, maybe not quite, but at least in spirit. Wonder if his own dourness was the same thing: a way to exert some semblance of control over a little, safe, part of the Cosmos he lived in.

He stood up from the chair, cursing the higher gravity. Even with high-G training, some troubles remained. Like getting light-headed from standing up too suddenly.

Maybe I really am getting long in the tooth. He tapped the controls on the large window, glancing as the dark screen outside slowly lowered into position, before making his way to the exit.

"Preliminary data received" announced the loudspeaker once again. "Camera probes have been deployed, and visual survey is about to begin. Shall I direct the feed to your PIU?"

"No need. I'm on my way there." Class is in session.


Last edited by Mr.Tucker on Fri Jul 06, 2018 7:08 am, edited 3 times in total.



Sun Jun 24, 2018 5:48 am
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
Some points: PIU-personal interface unit. While civilians would have some types of implants, most people in the space navy would shun stuff that could produce tissue damage or irritation in high-G situations.
The italic writing that is not hyphenated is a characters' inner thoughts. Obvious, but it's polite to mention :)


Sun Jun 24, 2018 5:51 am
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
Applied some spell checking and put extra space between the paragraphs:

Spoiler: show
The system was empty. Just one pane of ALON-ceramic multilayered glass separating myself from the inky blackness dotted with points of light.

Of light, hope and horror. Magnificence and danger all in one. Some of these have worlds, and some of those worlds have life. How many of the stars I can see here are inhabited? He frowned as he realized he had not a clue. Why did I never think of that? I should make a mental note to ask what the new estimates on inhabited planets in unaided visual range are. Bet that'd make the astronomer's day", he smirked in his mind.

Still, I can picture these worlds in my head. What are they like? How did they get that way? His wild imagination, a core trait of his since he could remember, birthed vivid images of light and shadow.

Of green and red and gold. Wild creatures running around imaginary forests, life evolving from the oceans, taking its first steps, shaping the worlds across billions of years, taming the elements until they became forgiving and conductive to life's existence. Plants breathing atmospheres of death to microbes, and life to protozoans, alien forests colonizing volcano slopes... Extinction, explosion, dominion, decay, in a fractal pattern from microbes living on leaves to tectonic plates wrestling with one another, while being consumed by the ever growing biosphere living atop and inside them, until, finally, intelligence. Histories of war, armies marching and kicking up dust, sword and spear and shield clashing; families and clans, disappointments, victories, collapse, discovery, adventure, and struggle; enough of them to make the human species blush. An acceleration of the process of evolution like a supernova going off in a molecular cloud, throwing out its seed and coalescing more blobs of hydrogen into stars. Only these were stars of intelligence. Clusters of minds hurling themselves into the dark, grinding and competing with each other whenever they made contact. Therefore, many of them...

Moreover, each with its own glorious past...

"Contact re-established. Preliminary telemetry incoming" blurted the loudspeaker in the ceiling of his room. However, not close to full volume, the sound raged like thunder in the calm, dark chamber.

"Status?" He asked somewhat irritated his revelry had been interrupted.

"Target intact, sir. We are trying to verify its position and vector. Once that's been established, we'll initiate recovery and assessment protocol".

"Keep me updated." Less brutally, if you might.

"Copy that."

Alone, his eyes refocused on the dark expanse in front of his eyes. It is just the abyss and me.... Nothingness and radiation, more of both than the human mind can fathom. In addition, somewhere within... life. Intelligent, powerful, and hungry.

The interruption had changed his mood. The words of his first astronomy professor rung through his head. First class in a new subject, everyone eager to finally learn more about space, about how they had gotten to where they were, and what direction they were heading in. An equally peaceful, but far less tense time... Guess being an astronaut is still every kid's dream. Heh...

The serious middle-aged man that walked in had cut that enthusiasm with a mental blowtorch. "Listen, class. The Universe is Big. About 91 billion light years from what we can tell. It's cold, about 3 degrees Kelvin. And it doesn't give a damn about us". Those words had imprinted onto his mind. The Universe was a dragon, sleeping, and too big to notice the mites living on its hide. They could only hope it did not crush them when it rolled over.

The thought made him uncomfortable. A little taste of control would be in order. Even in times of inactivity, soldiers loved nothing more than routines to keep their minds off impending doom. Goes double for spacers and submariners. Now, I am the middle-aged man... Well, maybe not quite, but at least in spirit. Wonder if his own dourness was the same thing: a way to exert some semblance of control over a little, safe, part of the Cosmos he lived in.

He stood up from the chair, cursing the higher gravity. Even with high-G training, some troubles remained. Like getting light-headed from standing up too suddenly.

Maybe I really am getting long in the tooth. He tapped the controls on the large window, glancing as the dark screen outside slowly lowered into position, before making his way to the exit.

"Preliminary data received" announced the loudspeaker once again. "Camera probes have been deployed, and visual survey is about to begin. Shall I direct the feed to your PIU?"

"No need. I'm on my way there." Class is in session.


Sun Jun 24, 2018 6:56 am
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
Mr.Tucker wrote:
Some points: PIU-personal interface unit. While civilians would have some types of implants, most people in the space navy would shun stuff that could produce tissue damage or irritation in high-G situations.
The italic writing that is not hyphenated is a characters' inner thoughts. Obvious, but it's polite to mention :)


True thou I am a bit unsure of what kind of items you had in mind here. In some cases an implant could be even less dangerous due to what type it is. I had this idea about how you could create in room holograms. Normally holograms must be displayed behind some kind of pane due to the impossibility to "write in the air", but that cause a range of other problems.
A way around that is to put that pane into goggles people are wearing. Without them you see nothing but wear them and you see things literary "printed in the air". In the Outsider story we see examples of computer screens on the bridge as holograms and there a huge holographic display in the center of it as well as the Historian ambassador displaying itself as an hologram. You need some kind of make believe technology to put that of for real. With goggles however it would be possible and each person can have an individual feed meaning that if something is sensitive, then only those with appropriate clearance can see it at all. Another reason to limit the feed are to make the environment less visually "noisy".

My latest visit to an optician in order to get new glasses exposed that I got a over time dimming eye condition that eventually will make me effectively blind if not treated. The treatment is to replace the entire lens in the eye with an artificial one , something that is a routine operation these day and something that was done to my mother as well despite her advanced age. Add a century of technical development and I guess you could add in some augmentations into a new lens to make those goggles redundant. I assume that a pair of strap on goggles are probably going to cut into the skin and cause infections a lot more then an artificial eye lens and they can be lost.


Sun Jun 24, 2018 11:49 pm
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
@Onaiom Modified, and thank you for your effort. As you might imagine, notepad does not translate well into web format, and my lack of issues with walls of text made me neglect spacing.

@Sweforce Communications devices. Stuff like inner ear speakers, or mandible mounted devices that turn bone vibrations into sound and viceversa. Also things like exotic tattoos, power devices that syphon energy off glucose, major intrusive procedures such as joint/bone replacement, etc.


Mon Jun 25, 2018 4:33 pm
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
Mr.Tucker wrote:
@Onaiom Modified, and thank you for your effort. As you might imagine, notepad does not translate well into web format, and my lack of issues with walls of text made me neglect spacing.

@Sweforce Communications devices. Stuff like inner ear speakers, or mandible mounted devices that turn bone vibrations into sound and viceversa. Also things like exotic tattoos, power devices that syphon energy off glucose, major intrusive procedures such as joint/bone replacement, etc.


I see, so implants are not out of the question but there will be a select few that are determined to be safe. Is this so strict that if someone NEED an implant as a prosthesis that that would be a career ending change?


Mon Jun 25, 2018 10:01 pm
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
Sweforce wrote:
Mr.Tucker wrote:
@Onaiom Modified, and thank you for your effort. As you might imagine, notepad does not translate well into web format, and my lack of issues with walls of text made me neglect spacing.

@Sweforce Communications devices. Stuff like inner ear speakers, or mandible mounted devices that turn bone vibrations into sound and viceversa. Also things like exotic tattoos, power devices that syphon energy off glucose, major intrusive procedures such as joint/bone replacement, etc.


I see, so implants are not out of the question but there will be a select few that are determined to be safe. Is this so strict that if someone NEED an implant as a prosthesis that that would be a career ending change?


Let's just say frivolous stuff would be frowned upon, like mobile devices. The medical ones, in my opinion, would depend on just what they affected. For instance, a new eye lens that's just a lens would probably be ok (though, remember, the eye is very susceptible to high-G; if the new lens is heavy/dense, it's no good), but one that has sensitive electronics would not be ok (remember, the Apollo astronauts reported sprites when closing their eyes; these sprites were high-energy particles that hit the eye and produced light; their interaction with a micro-electronic device would be suspect, and you don't want your eye shorting out in the middle of a fight, especially inside your body...). This goes double for stuff that can affect cognitive functions, like neural meshes. These are very fine and fragile electronics, after all.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmic_ra ... _phenomena
Something like joint replacement would also be problematic, because the new joint is mechanically dissimilar to the connecting bone, and might produce rheumatic pain when subject to compression or decompression cycles. This is common among airline pilots that suffer such a procedure (assuming they are even allowed to fly).
Finally, the tech in this story (roughly same time as the Bellarmine expedition) allows the healing or cloning of most organs. No need for a artificial heart or pacemaker if you can clone a new one, or implant stem cells to regenerate teeth. Your body is still best at what it does.

Most spacers would probably prefer to carry tech as clothes or something attached to their bodies. The already mentioned PIU is something like this:
https://youtu.be/f9r1vJncn5o?t=963
only it's not just for communication, but also control and interface between whatever system is needed. For instance, between a computer or electronics block and a electronic technician servicing it (and in close proximity). This eliminated the need for large displays on individual electronics blocks, like you find in aviation today:
https://i.ytimg.com/vi/FWEyDUqDVN8/hqdefault.jpg
https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/imag ... 9qU4K9MBil
which saves weight. Basically it allows remote interaction between a person and an individual system. A technician in charge of a certain subset of systems would have access to them, but not others which are in other areas of expertise. A commanding officer has access to everything, from comms, to life support, to individual subassemblies.


Wed Jun 27, 2018 2:54 pm
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
As I understand it, the main reason for humanity's ships slow acceleration in the Outsiderverse have less to do with insufficient engine technology and a lot to do with insufficient technology for inertial dampeners/gravity plating (I all but assume that this is the same technology). These system are simply not able to compensate for massive accelerations and most likely slow to do so as well, something that leads to less agile ships. They may even be unable to compensate in all directions meaning that with sharp turns, the crew will feel it.


Wed Jun 27, 2018 10:59 pm
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
@Sweforce - In short yes. Humans in Outsiderverse have not yet developed their version of the Floater Drive which all other space-faring Bubble species are using. The Floater Drive as I understand is based on inertial dampening technology producing a sort of "Mass Effect" (tm), but instead of working on the accelerating ship, it works on the exhaust particle stream, greatly increasing the apparent mass of the particles thus clamping down on their exhaust speed. This delta-E has nowhere else to go except back against the ship, resulting in tremendous thrust from very little fuel spent. I like the analogy of single-cylinder direct acting steam engine vs. a multiple expansion and condenser steam engine, or a pulse jet engine vs. a multi-stage turbofan.


Thu Jun 28, 2018 12:43 am
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
Sweforce wrote:
As I understand it, the main reason for humanity's ships slow acceleration in the Outsiderverse have less to do with insufficient engine technology and a lot to do with insufficient technology for inertial dampeners/gravity plating (I all but assume that this is the same technology). These system are simply not able to compensate for massive accelerations and most likely slow to do so as well, something that leads to less agile ships. They may even be unable to compensate in all directions meaning that with sharp turns, the crew will feel it.

I asked the same question. Here's what I got:
Arioch wrote:
Mr.Tucker wrote:
This question may have been asked before, but : what is the chief limitation for Terran ships achieving higher acceleration? Is is the drive technology or the inertial dampener technology? Or a combination of both?

Drive technology.

So it is my understanding that humans can develop dampeners that could cancel the acceleration, but their engines are not powerful enough to reach said accelerations.


Fri Jun 29, 2018 11:24 am
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
Mr.Tucker wrote:
Sweforce wrote:
As I understand it, the main reason for humanity's ships slow acceleration in the Outsiderverse have less to do with insufficient engine technology and a lot to do with insufficient technology for inertial dampeners/gravity plating (I all but assume that this is the same technology). These system are simply not able to compensate for massive accelerations and most likely slow to do so as well, something that leads to less agile ships. They may even be unable to compensate in all directions meaning that with sharp turns, the crew will feel it.

I asked the same question. Here's what I got:
Arioch wrote:
Mr.Tucker wrote:
This question may have been asked before, but : what is the chief limitation for Terran ships achieving higher acceleration? Is is the drive technology or the inertial dampener technology? Or a combination of both?

Drive technology.

So it is my understanding that humans can develop dampeners that could cancel the acceleration, but their engines are not powerful enough to reach said accelerations.


Interesting considering what we can achieve for acceleration today on aircraft and indeed rockets to lift cargo, and people, into space. Humanity warships are in Outsiderverse limited to 6G at the most. It is of course possible that this is about sustained acceleration and as such, even the low tech starships humanity got can accelerate at 10-20 G or more but not as a sustained burn. Something is odd here.


Fri Jun 29, 2018 12:48 pm
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
Sweforce wrote:

Interesting considering what we can achieve for acceleration today on aircraft and indeed rockets to lift cargo, and people, into space. Humanity warships are in Outsiderverse limited to 6G at the most. It is of course possible that this is about sustained acceleration and as such, even the low tech starships humanity got can accelerate at 10-20 G or more but not as a sustained burn. Something is odd here.


It's the comparison between an 100 meter sprint and a long distance marathon in terms of effort and stamina. Yes, even now we can build rockets that can go well over the 6G speeds of Terran ships but the problem is that their effective range of a few thousand kilometers is ridiculously low in terms of interplanetary travel. With the distances involved we simply need a far more efficient engine, if far slower, in order to travel from one planet to another.
One may also get the idea of having two 'types' of engines, one slow engine for the long voyage and a very fast one for battle speeds but still the difference in endurance will be paramount. Battles of contested space are bound to last for several days if not weeks as we are able to predict. The minuscule advantage of overwhelming speed for a few minutes will not be enough to turn the tide of a space battle.

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Fri Jun 29, 2018 1:19 pm
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
dragoongfa wrote:
The minuscule advantage of overwhelming speed for a few minutes will not be enough to turn the tide of a space battle.


You may want to dodge something bad heading your way.


Sat Jun 30, 2018 12:58 am
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
In such a situation you will be better served in using the extra mass that the rocket engines would take for something different, a few extra PD turrets for example. Every tool on a space ship requires mass and rocket engines large enough to offer several Gs of sudden acceleration on a ship of such scale would require a ridiculous amount of mass.

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Sat Jun 30, 2018 1:40 am
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
Sweforce wrote:

Interesting considering what we can achieve for acceleration today on aircraft and indeed rockets to lift cargo, and people, into space. Humanity warships are in Outsiderverse limited to 6G at the most. It is of course possible that this is about sustained acceleration and as such, even the low tech starships humanity got can accelerate at 10-20 G or more but not as a sustained burn. Something is odd here.


It's a question of delta-V. It's quite doable to achieve more than 6G's, but the delta-V will be lower. Basically, a normal TCA engine might only do 5-6 G, but it will keep doing it until it runs out of fuel, by which time the speed of the ship will be 500 km/sec (as an example). That means 500 km / sec delta-V. An engine with more thrust will achieve it's top speed faster due to higher acceleration, but said top speed is probably much lower than the normal engined ship's speed, due to using a lot more fuel . So it has lower delta-V, which means it takes longer to get to anywhere. Terran ships are fusion driven in this story, lacking a floater drive.
For an interstellar ship moving from jump point to jump point, accelerating and decelerating and changing vectors, fuel efficiency is paramount.
Thrust is generally a function of debit of mass expelled through the engine nozzle, while delta-V depends on specific impulse (which determines the speed of a kilogram of matter coming out of the nozzle, and is, basically, a measure of how much energy you put into every kilogram of reaction mass). Having both high thrust and high Isp is not generally doable, bc there is a third measurement, which is jet-power, where the total energy your engine produces is calculated by multiplying the debit of fuel per second with the Isp. Having them both be high exponentially increases the power of your drive, which means turning on at full burn will make it melt....
The floater drive cheats; it's a low-thrust/high efficiency engine, not dissimilar to Terran ones, but which artificially increases the mass of the flow through the nozzle, as dragoongfa described.


Sun Jul 01, 2018 4:48 am
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
Introduction - Part II

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"No, no, NO! This is wrong!" she said with disdain. "There's no way this can work! There's no way a cell can evolve a pathway like this naturally!".

"Listen, Diane, this is the result of all the folding simulations we've done back home", the short, slim man in front of her interjected. "It's the most likely solution to an acetylene based lifeform we can find."

"I don't care what the box-brains tell you. Something like is trivial to engineer, but the molecules are too large and complex for such a low energy environment to make on a lottery ticket."

She eyed the man with a insistent look, before noticing the obvious embarrassment he felt at being put down in front of a cafeteria full of scientists trying to enjoy their meals. Oh for Christ's sake, go choke on your burritos.

The woman paused to compose herself, still angry that valuable computing time had been wasted. She had been told she was too insistent and stubborn in chasing down theories. For the most part, her attitude oscillated between "F**k off" to mild amusement. Still, being a human being means I have to at least pretend I'm a social animal.

Her partner was still standing with a look of expectation. She sighed.

"Look, Greg, we'll squeeze in some time on APOLLO, just to make sure", she said after a short pause, "but we're not figuring out the relevant bit: how these critters got to where they were."

She saw him shuffling, the thoughts, half begged, were written all over his face.

I know what you're gonna say. That these guys were traders, and that they visited countless worlds in systems far and wide. Marco Polo's ugly stellar cousins. And in those systems, they're bound to come across some very special bacteria, with very special appetites and growth conditions. The math is on their side: the plethora of microorganisms here on Earth, multiplied by the number of habitable worlds and environments across their trade lanes.
Except these were, by all accounts, native to their world. Stop looking for the easy explanation, Occam be dammed!


She felt her temper flaring againt, but seeing his almost despondent expression put a dent in her fierce determination.

"I'm sorry, Greg. You know I'm not exactly one for cordial scientific discussion".

The man sat down,with a long sigh, a look of tiredness on his face. "No worries.", he said after a short pause." You get used to the temper. It's the awkwardness that stings", he half-smiled.

The woman felt a twinge of shame for her outburst. Gregory Varshavski was older than her by at least twenty years. And I bet every day he spends around me adds a decade. He was still surprisingly smart and quick for his age, though he seemed tired and worn out. You used to be a frontliner, my friend. Digging up dirt planets looking for the meaning of life in pondscum.Now you're just an assistant to ambitios nutjobs like myself. Looks like those anti-aging treatments only work on your body.

A pity too. From what she had heard, he had been a lively and adventurous chap back in the day. His thesis on radiation borne panspermia, and the patterns it would take following the Geminga supernova were still hallmarks of her early career. In fact, her work had started off as nothing more than a continuation of his, though the hypothesis had taken interesting turns since then. But the skepticism he had met, along with the long periods of absence from his home and family had taken their toll. Even after gaining a measure of acceptance, the academic community was quick to ignore it's author and concentrate on the theory, as it often did when proven wrong. You held on, but at the cost of your passion.

She noticed him taking out a small data card from a pocket, and slide it across the table.

"What's this?", she said raising an eyebrow.

"Stephansson sends his regards", said her docile assistant, bearing a wide grin.

She grimaced. Oh joy. More stupidity. Of the spit and polish kind. The woman moved her hand above the data card, with the reader on her wrist hovering about a centimeter off the device.She held the other hand symmetrically, as a holographic keyboard appeared beneath her fingers, alongside a holographic display that hovered above them. The message "Receiver: Diane Batra" was written on the login page. An empty field with a cursor was hovering beneath, into which she typed her unique password. The image changed to that of an open folder, with a video-text message file, alongside a large document. She selected the file, and the flat image changed again, showing a handsome man with a wide, warm smile. He was wearing a sharp suit that gave off an air of elegance, though not snobbishness. Clean, neat and presentable, as always.

"Hello, Diane. How have you been doing?"

Jerk. Sleeping together 15 years ago does not mean you can get all friendly with me. His face had that warm, beaming look it had always had, though the graying hair that sat atop it gave away his years.

"I got your message about a week ago. Sorry it took so long to reply, it's been pretty crazy around here".

I'm sure those department meetings get all sorts of crazy. She eyed the recording date. It had been almost a month.

"As you might imagine, your request kinda caught me off guard. It wasn't something I could just go to some director somewhere and slide across his table", he said in a long, eloquent tone. "But, after a bit of digging, I managed to get a hold of the info you wanted.Turns out, I had some former students who were working on Esperanza, and could sneak me the data. Looks like you came to the right man".

No even once, if I recall correctly. Diane eyed the documents attached to the message. Still good news though.

"I'm sorry to hear you refused the job I recommended you for at the Martian Institute. You know, it's pretty hard to find exobilogists with experience in field work".

Of course they are. People like you make sure they can only find jobs on mining outposts.

"You're really talented, Diane.Brilliant and energetic. It'd be a bonus if you could educate even a handful of students to be more like you", he said in an almost longing manner.

Spare me the glitzy speeches. I chose fieldwork, Henry. And I've written enough papers to bury you and your department chiefs in them.It's who I am. You're the presentable populariser with a silver tongue. You yourself said that pitching your ideas to some university in hopes of funding is only half the game. Even someone with little experience and less brains can get tenureship if he has the right connections and can sell his wares. Academia is just not my style. I'm not in this for fame, recognition, or even respect.If the students want to know what fieldwork is like, all they have to do is step out an airlock. It's how I did it, and I'd bet they'd make better exobiologists if they can think for themselves.

"Still, if you ever change your mind, you know who to call on" he hesitated. "I'm not exactly sure what gig you've landed there on Esperanza, but let's just say I find it odd that I'm having to send this through TCA channels. I hope you know what you're doing, especially with all this first contact craziness. It's not really your style to have government oversight."

So you tried to pinpoint me and failed. More good news. She had to admit, the TCA was pretty good at covering its' tracks. Even with all his connections, he'd have no chance of locating this place.

"I have to go. Take care of yourself will you?" he said, the look of uneasiness giving way to one of friendliness. "Henry out.", he said, as the message ended.

She could see Greg munching on a bowl of cereal in front of her, a look of bored amusement on his face. For the love of God, it's not even morning.

"Well? Any feelings of regret?" he asked through a mouthful of chocolate cornflakes.

"Of course he was gonna mention the job. MIBS is both prestigious and fickle. Refusing them isn't common, and him vouching for me probably didn't improve his image". She paused. "But no. No regrets. You know that".

"I do", he said in a warm, brotherly fashion. "Just making sure the food here hasn't changed your mind".

"Har-har.'Least he was debonaire enough to get us those reports."

The older man nodded. "A paragon of scientific process that one", he said with amusement. "So....what've got?"

She downloaded the documents, and flipped through the index. "127 reports. Looks like I'm gonna have to look over each and every one of them. Our mystery bugs are bound to be among them", she said already reading the summary of the first one.

"I'll leave you to it then", Greg said, lifting his, now empty, bowl. "Analysis on those yeast cultures should be done by now. Don't wanna leave the kids alone in the kitchen unsupervised".

"Can't think of a better nanny than you, Greg", said the woman, smiling as he made his way to the exit.

"Oh, and Diane?", he said, turning around.

"Yeah?"

"Remember the briefing at 1400 hours. Commander wants a report". His snarky grin was back with a vengeance.

How could I ever forget. It was unusual to have to deliver a face-to-face report in this day and age. The commanding officer, whatever ranks he was, didn't seem to care much about her team's work. He obviously seemed more interested in what the military tech teams had to say, but for the sake of equal treatment all team leaders were assembled once a week for a briefing and reports. The man likes his minutia. He seemed cordial enough, though he kept such a good poker face, she got the impression she was speaking Mandarin when reporting her progress.He did seem to be able to grasp what she was doing, though not in the more esoteric fields like protein folding and DNA synthesis. She had come to know some of the other people that participated in these debriefings as well, though whatever they did and reported was not known to her. She was always the first to speak, and the first be asked to walk out. Team leaders may be equal in treatment, but not in levels of secrecy. Still, this time, I have to be persuasive. The big boom boys had a test today, and they'll be gathering their papers off the floor and organising their results this week. I can squeeze some time on APOLLO 'till then, if the commander gives me the OK. I just have to convince him that we're on to something other than a flavor of algae-based food. Hopefully these reports can offer some help in that regard.

And with that she went back to studying her projection and occasionally nibbling a bite of her sandwich, oblivious to the humbug of people around her. Yuck.


Fri Jul 06, 2018 6:57 am
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
Not much to say here. Different type of PUI, since the good doctor is a civilian. Communications across interstellar distances generally take the form of recorded messages.
Put the parts in spoiler paragraphs so people visiting aren't crushed under a wall of text, or get tired fingers from scrolling :) .

PS: Forgot to mention:
MIBS - acronym for Mars Institute of Biological Sciences. Its' a premiere research institute, originally set up to research terraforming microbes and agriculture, that has since expanded in scope greatly, thanks to large grants and support from the Ares International Corporation, who use their research in the Hellas Basin terraforming experiments. A MIT for biologists and exobiologists.


Last edited by Mr.Tucker on Wed Jul 11, 2018 4:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Fri Jul 06, 2018 3:31 pm
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
Introduction - Part III

Spoiler: show
The large, flat screen slowly lit up as the image came into focus. A massive shadow that had been obscuring the field of stars behind it morphed into a familiar shape. Roughly circular, with jagged edges painted on a darker substrate. The center, once dim, was now visible, showing it's beige coloring.

"Ottis is stabilised", mouthed the young man with a rigour ingrained into his every fibre by his days at the Academy.

"Deploying survey USV's."

"Data stream has been resumed. Background radiation at nominal value." supplied the young woman a few meters next to him.

Hey, Clara. How has your day been?...Wanna go out for a drink later?... Damn, I hate these shifts.. The pilot shuffled in his chair. No one ever died of daydreaming.

"System status?", inquired a voice behind them with no small amount of authority.

"Readings incoming. So far all systems nominal" reported a third voice in the dim room, somewhere behind and to his right.

"Initiate scanning pattern on the USV's. Is the observational data compiled?"

"Affirmative, Sir. Video, infrared and radiation telemetry received and transmitted. Seismic data transmission pending full systems diagnostics."

"Roger. Proceed with scan".

That's our cue.

He moved his hand above the screen, with the image shifting from the right hand corner, revealing a table of items. There were eight in number on the first column, which were the designations of the USV's. With a flick of his hand, he activated the craft's first person view. Seems in order. He knew the video equipment was fragile and being banged up from the impact could do a number in it. Activating the food lights made the blackish surface beneath a little less blackish, though the light got lost in the immensity of the space ahead of it.

Right, let's see what shape you're in.
His hand moved and pressed one of the symbols on the vertical chart, a pictogram of a wrench and nut. A menu appeared, from which he selected the first option "General OST". A self test of every system of the USV. By the book we roll. Hope you didn't get too banged up, old girl. About 30 seconds to go.

His eyes shifted along the dimly lit chamber. It was roughly twenty meters across, of a hexagonal shape, with the large wall to his left and back being the large side.To his left two lads of similar age were looking intently into their monitors, though he knew they were just awaiting orders at the moment. Lee and Paul always get the easy gigs...

He sighed. I guess that's what being more experienced gets you. He knew he didn't outrank them, but this was his twelfth weapons test, and only their fourth.

His mind briefly flew to his upcoming trip home. Shore leave is certainly welcome. Long lengths of time doing nothing are just as bad as being worked like a mule. I should know. I've been in both circumstances.

He's always though of his posting as being superfluous. This is a space station, not a ship. Helmsmen are not needed. Then again, this base seems to have everything. Scientist, mechanics, engineers, marines, doctors, you name it.
Not a day went by that he wasn't stunned and awed by the scale of this undertaking. He had remarked on that right from the day he arrived here, though his initial enthusiasm had faded somewhat.

Stars's End, he though. The Area 51 of the colonial age.

His gaze shifted slightly to his right. Prashtan, his assigned dancing partner, was looking over his controls, most likely emulating his actions. You may look fresh and sharp as always, but you can't fool me. Let's see who buys who a cup of coffee.

A small chime announced him that the self diagnostics was completed. The list of items was all green, as expected. They really build these things sturdy, don't they?...

"USV 4 online. Requesting permission to undock", he announced with his hand over another item in his vertical menu.

"USV 7 online. Requesting permission to undock" announced the colleague to his right.

"Permission granted. Head to waypoint and assume starting position" responded the husky voice of the XO behind him.

He tapped the item, and the image jerked forward, slowly moving ahead.
"USV 4 undocked. Proceeding to waypoint", he announced.
With daft hands, Daniels tapped his screen, with the vertical menu appearing once again. This time he chose the "Pattern option", showing a list of waypoints that only contained one item. He clicked it, and the image showed a ever so slight jerk that only a trained eye could sense, as the unmanned craft slid towards a designated point hovering in the distance.

150 meters. 30 seconds travel time. The electrothermal thrusters, inefficient as they were, still delivered plenty of thrust. Cheap and effective.

"Captain on deck!" bellowed the XO, quite a few decibels higher than anyone expected.

Crap. The young pilot swiveled in his chair and stood at attention saluting. Which was all he could do, since turning from his comparatively bright monitor to face the darkened room rendered him nearly blind. He could still make out the silhouette of commodore Constantine Andrews as he walked briskly into his command chair.

"At ease. Proceed as you were." he said in his slightly formal yet cordial fashion.

The pilot slowly sat back into his chair. Usually he'd be allowed to be seated while piloting, but the USV was mostly doing it's thing, and the XO was a sticker for formalities.

"Test status?" he could hear the commondore asking.

"Firing completed. OTT has been successfully hit and then stabilised in a high orbit. Rotational vector compensated." he heard the XO reporting, referring to the maneuver that he had made earlier to eliminate the test target's rotational vectors.It's still moving away, but negating it's outbound vector and bringing it in would take longer.

"Radiation, infrared and long-range radar data has been compiled and sent. Short range examination is pending" finished the XO.

"Any spalling?"

"No large debris detected. Minimal fallout". He knew that even relatively small pieces of debris that came off the Ottis would be intercepted. That's what the gunnery officers that were located to his left beyond Pavel and Lee were there for, along with their counterparts on the symmetrical side of the room.

"Stellar weather reports?"

"No abnormal activity. The star has been quiet. Last reported flare was 46 hours ago" the astrogator replied.

A flare star. Not exactly prime real estate. A small red dwarf with a horrendous temper and low metallicity, surrounded by nothing more than an asteroid belt, closely packed into an area roughly four times the size of the Jovian system. A blip on cosmic maps...but a prime candidate for a discrete installation.

He'd been briefed on the specifics of the system itself during his first orientation. A file marked "Top Secret" identified this star as Van Biesbroeck's star, an ultracool red dwarf. The system was two jumps off the nearest space lane, and did not even contain an active navigational buoy. There were two jump points, one leading to the busy lanes between Sol and the colonies on Eridani, and the other leading into deep space.

Right on the edge of human settlement, which meant no chance of a ship accidentally stumbling in here. Even if they did, chances are all they'd see is a mostly empty system.

"Defensive emplacements, report."

"HLS turret 1 reporting. Systems ok" reported gunnery officer Hartman to his right.

"HLS turret 2 reporting. Systems ok" echoed her counterpart on the other side of the room.

"HMD turret reporting. Systems ok". Hartman's colleague, a freshman out of the academy.

"TWE reporting. Magnetic anomalies detected during firing. Systems nominal, but several hot spots have appeared again following the shot."

The Mjolnir. This was the experimental emplacement that shot whatever was being tested. A giant truss structure that, for the moment, contained the experimental particle beam that was fast becoming standard on colonial battlecruisers. Calling it a turret would be impossible. It couldn't move side to side or up and down. Ottis was maneuvered in front of it for firing.

"Is the report being drawn up?" asked the commodore.

"Report is completed and already delivered to research team" announced a calm voice that made the Ensign feel uneasy.

APOLLO. The VI equipped supercomputer that ran things on the base had access to everything but the functions on this bridge, which contained their own command and control independent of the rest of the base. He knew it helped immensely with the research efforts, but having a VI installed on it still gave him the creeps. He could tell the voice wasn't human. It had none of the emotional inflections that characterised human speakers though. One of the technicians had whispered to him during a lunch break that APOLLO wasn't really sentient, but more of a personal assistant on steroids.Apparently, not even a very sophisticated one, more along the lines of a user interface that one operated by asking rather than hitting keys. The thought did little to relieve his uneasiness. I don't like my console talking to me.

"Ensigns Daniels and Ramachandran, what's the ETA on starting the examination?" continued the commodore.

On cue. "USV 04. 50 meters to waypoint. ETA 1 minute".

"USV 07. 60 meters to waypoint. ETA 72 seconds", Prashtan chimed.

"Once examination begins, I want the image compiled on my screen before it gets sent."

"Roger" said the pilot.

The commodore was shrouded in darkness, the contour of his face barely visible from the light on the monitor he had just lit up. The few wrinkles on his face looked like deep gashes from some sort of sword fight.

He knew the commodore wanted to see every bit of the operations as they were underway. Even the relatively slow process of close examination was patiently followed through its' course. Wonder if he's a control freak or just really impatient.

He's been wondering that ever since setting foot on the outpost. He had expected some grizzled old admiral to be in command, and during the first operational briefing and orientation, he had mistaken the XO for the commanding officer. No small wonder, given his commanding presence and years. But thankfully he had realised his mistake before having the chance to voice it out loud.

Commodore...that's not even right. With a facility this size, he should, by all rights, be either a Rear Admiral, or a Port Admiral, not a fleet commander. There isn't even a fleet to command.
His young age had caught him off guard. Such high positions were generally reserved for older staff, while he was in his late thirties or early forties. He had wondered why this was the case. The low-ranking rumor mill was that favoritism was about. Daniels himself had high doubts this was the case, given the professionalism and responsibilities of the TCA.

I just can't wrap my head around it... Someone being treated with such high regards as to be put in command of this place while older, more experienced and well versed admirals and generals are left in desk jobs. Then again, none of those dudes have actual COMBAT experience.

Another rumor was that the commodore was some kind of genius tactician. But what good is that when you're commanding a static installation? He hadn't even heard of a commodore Andrews back in his academy days, and someone of this status and with such high rank would have been mentioned somewhere. But no, the man was a ghost by all accounts.

The XO was another oddball, even crazier this time. A Marine colonel acting as First Officer? No wonder he tends to bark his orders.
First Officer Arnold Hauser was older by at least a decade compared to his commanding officer, and was apparently a somewhat better known figure, at least among the star strutters. He had apparently participated in boarding actions taken against uncooperative vessels during the Aldean crysis. It sort of made more sense when he realised that a lot of the security personnel were marines, but still it was extraordinarily unusual for a Marine, even high ranking, to have the training of a sailor.

Another chime sounded in his earpiece, signifying the arrival of the USV at the designated waypoint. He swivelled the small vehicle, doing a 180 degree somersault, turning it's cameras toward the lip of the large structure he had just skimmed across.

"USV 04 reporting. Waypoint reached" he announced. "Proceeding to starting position on T-085".

"USV 07 reporting. Waypoint reached" reported his partner. "Proceeding to starting position on T-103".

The USV, under his careful hand, slowly moved upwards, crossing a distance of some ten meters of blackish metal, with the final three being the orange coloured material he had seen earlier. Ceramics. Lots of it.

The surface of the test target revealed itself, along with another virtual waypoint that he instructed the ship to proceed to. The large structure was bright on this side, with some discoloration in the distance. This close, the hexagonal tiles that made up the impact surface were clearly visible. The waypoint was situated squarely above the closest one,marked with a the number one and this time it wasn't alone. A forest of them were hovering on the virtual display, each situated squarely above their respective tiles and each numbered. On the far side of the large hexagonal surface, he saw the shape of the other USV hovering above the surface, it's position marked with a virtual black and white circle. It was slowly proceeding to it's own waypoint.

Flying by waypoint is about as exciting as watching algae grow. There was no need to manually fly the ships, since the pattern of virtual navigational markers was already pre-programmed into their systems. My job here is to monitor them and unscrew anything they screw up.Unfortunately, they apparently never screw up...

The small craft slowly maneuvered into position.
"USV 04 entering starting position. " he announced, as the ship reoriented itself facing the tile underneath.

"USV 07 entering starting position" Prashtan echoed to his side.10 seconds late, mate. Guess you'll be buying coffee today.

"Proceed with examination" announced the skipper.

"07, examination pattern initiated" he announced. In reality, all he had to do was select the pattern, and the ship started moving along a path from waypoint to waypoint, with it's cameras pointing downwards. The images were sharp, high resolution, and he knew there was a modular penetrating radar situated in the instrument boom to beneath the camera module.

"04, examination pattern initiated", reported the pilot to his right in his usual Midlands accent. Prashtan Ramachandran was about his age, and grew up in an overcrowded suburb of Birmingham. They knew each other from their academy days, having just about as much time on the base as he did, and was a very good pilot in his own right.

All of them are. Pretty wasteful posting. He knew that piloting the USV's was more or less meant to keep them sharp. They were there primarily to pilot the OTT and the four craft docked in the hangar. A Hayes, a tug and two shuttles. Such glamour.... Least the Hayes has guns on it. In theory it was meant to intercept any ship that arrived unannounced and started scanning for the base. Police frigates routinely patrolled the fringes of human space, so the presence of one in an otherwise empty system was not unusual. Though there's reason for any commercial traffic to come here. This system leads nowhere. In theory it doesn't even have a navigational buoy. No one comes here unless they want to do shady business or know what to look for. It had never once happened.

As the ships shifted position, they sent their images to the command center. A collage of the surface of Ottis was beginning to form. This was the visual image, and he knew there were also radar images alongside infrared and seismic charts. All would be compiled and sent to the gun nuts downstairs. No detail spared.

The commodore was still sunken in his chair, First Officer Hauser to his right, observing his own console. From time to time the commodore would point out something on his screen, and the XO would speak in a hushed tone. Whatever they were speaking about was drowned by the buzz of the equipment, but seemed to be of no concern to the matter at hand.

"Any word on when the engine tests are to begin?" asked the commodore. His question seemed directed at the XO.

"ETA is 4 hours, but subject to change. Team reports problems with cooling equipment. You'll have to ask them yourself, Sir."

"Understood, Lieutenant. Keep me posted on any changes in that regard. Any system traffic?"

"None since the "Shiraki" jumped out four days ago".

The "Shiraki" was their tender. And, like many things about this base, it was also strange. Instead of being a military transport, it was a civilian vessel. And not just any old rust bucket.

A Crusher. Fast, angry, sturdily built ships once operated by the competing colonial interests.
These ships are half the reason the TCA operates anything above destroyer level. Wonder who they confiscated it from.


Seeing it still made him uneasy. These were opponents in many of the simulations done at the academy. Though I guess that was before ET decided to phone home and bring over his friends. It was still a very clever set up. A commercial ship would have less attention drawn to it than a military "L'Amour" class transport. And it was still fast, even if unarmed.

The ship would come in once every two weeks, bringing supplies and transporting people on and off the base.

Next time, it's gonna be me on board that thing. He could feel the excitement and relief swelling up inside him, but calmly gave nothing but a small, discrete smile. Soon.

Glancing at the large screens to his right, he saw the astrogation team that sat in the middle of the room, in front of the command chair repositioning the buoys that were hovering closer to the star. It was their job to monitor both asteroids and stellar activity, but in term of actual astrogation, they were just as superfluous as he was.

All rocks in the system larger than ten meters had been surveyed by radar, their size and movement introduced into a computer simulation designed to plot their trajectory over the next ten years. APOLLO, the supercomputer that liked to make it's presence known from time to time kept track of them all. And since it also had a VI interface, it could also act as First Officer. Between APOLLO and commodore Andrews's micromanagement, he wondered if XO Hauser felt borderline useless as well.

"Ensign Wong, maneuver the USV's on the sun side of the target to T-309, 460 and 508. Have them hover about 20 meters off the surface" spoke the commodore in his usual calm tone, with barely a glance.

"Understood, Sir. USV's one through three moving to T-309, 460, 550" Lee replied.

"Ensign Thomas, take the USV's on the ventral side to T-310, 470, 563. 20 meters hovering distance. I want them in position for when disassembly begins."

"Roger. Moving to T-310, 470, 563" replied Paul.

Daniels sighed. The research team would indicate which tiles to be removed and replaced. The ones from the section of the OTT that were hit by the weapons test would be studied.

The OTT was one hundred meters across, a giant slab of amorphous steel, roughly ten meters thick, with hexagonal plates roughly a meter across covering one of it's surfaces, designated the impact surface. On it's dorsal side was a cluster of engines designed to maneuver the target around and stabilise it's movements following a weapons test. Alongside these engines there were the berthing and servicing stations for the eight small unmanned craft that serviced the installation. These contained different types of modular tools, instruments and attachments, as well as small robotic arms used for repair, and refueling.Though they look like glorified dog kennels. These eight berths were clustered around a central hub that contained the hydrogen fuel for both the OTT thrusters and the USV drones.

Said drones, like the one he was controlling, were about five meters long, with a camera ball and instrument boom situated in the frontal surface. It was cylindrical in shape, featuring many small thrusters designed for high finesse work around its' round central tank. To the frontal end of the vehicle, there were a pair of robotic arms, folded flat along the cylinder surface. Daniels knew that when the go ahead would be given, these were to be used to disassemble the surface tiles.

Not all, of course. That'd take almost a week.

He eyed the collage image, almost completed, that presented itself on the main frontal monitor. The target presented a large white blemish with outward radiating streaks. The tiles were cracked and blasted away in the impact zone. This was the region that interested the research team. The tiles here would be taken off and studied in the labs, while fresh one emplaced.

"Images compiled. Detailed visual survey completed. Seismic and radiation data also in" chimed APOLLO.

"Send it to the team. Let them know we'll be expecting instructions"

Daniels glanced at the large central screen as his USV stopped mere meters from Prashtan's. The Mjolnir really did a number on Ottis. On the one hand, I guess I should count myself lucky. Not many can say they've seen the pride of the colonial fleet fire. I've seen it nearly a dozen times.

The commodore had been in his chair for nearly an hour. He wasn't a rover, and seemed content to let everyone do their jobs. At least that's a plus.

"Sir, the team leaders are due to assemble in fifteen minutes" the XO said. "Should we postpone the debriefing?"

"No need. Things are well in hand here" said the commodore slowly rising and shutting off his monitors. "Mister Ibaka will be at the briefing, but his team is still expecting the results. There should be no delay in finding out which tiles they want for study. Bring the OTT in and proceed with disassembly".

"Understood, Sir" exclaimed Hauser as the commodore made his way to the exit.

"Prepare disassembly pattern" ordered the officer. "Once we get the results, I want it done by the end of the day".

Work, work, work..... Shore leave seemed a long way off ....


Last edited by Mr.Tucker on Sun Jul 22, 2018 7:51 am, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Jul 11, 2018 4:23 pm
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
Introducing Ensign Daniels, pilot. An above average pilot with an interesting history that will be detailed later.

The part came out much longer than I expected, despite my gusto in writing it. Some things to point out:
Star stutters: slang term for marines. They are trained to fight in low G environments, in specialised space gear.
Ottis: the affectionate name given to the OTT, or Orbital Test Target. A big, honking piece of metal with pretty minimal propulsion. It is serviced by
USV: unmanned space vehicle. The spaceborne equivalent of ROV's. Small cheap craft remotely operated used for all manner of tasks too dangerous for humans. Though asking a TCA pilot to fly one is like asking a modern fighter pilot to fly a UAV: he'll do it if ordered, but won't like it.
Flare star: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flare_star

I took some creative liberties with the star, since I needed a really dim red dwarf on the edge of human space for my story. In reality, Van Biesbroeck's star is part of a binary system, though since it's so dim, that may change as astronomers get better instruments.


Wed Jul 11, 2018 4:36 pm
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
So... any feedback? Writting the last part took me ages, and really sucked the energy out of me. Kept trying to introduce elements. I have the image of the facility in my head, but putting it into words is a lot more tiresome than I had realised. And in the end, I barely managed to describe maybe a third of it. I had inteded to touch on some of the surface facilities, but it was already getting long winded. I also chose not to dive too far into the characters, mostly because the perspective is of someone who already knows many of the control room team, and doesn't think about them a lot.


Sun Jul 15, 2018 9:11 am
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
My advise is mostly down to experience in what to identify as superfluous text and cut it off with a rewrite.

It's best to not over describe the events taking place, you have to leave things to the imagination of the reader. The reader doesn't need to know everything that happens, they need to know enough for their imagination to kick in and picture it on their mind. If it takes longer for someone to read an event than the actual event taking place then you are doing it wrong.

Also don't introduce a lot of elements at once, it is tiring; best way to do it is to slowly press stuff in naturally via character dialog or as separate exposition. Bloating the text as you try to describe an event that takes place with introducing new elements in the story is extremely tiring.

Closing: If you struggled to write something then you definitely did it wrong.

_________________
My fan fics:

Looking forward to the mirror (Delayed editing)
Reforged (Irregular updates)
The Pale Horse (Completed, could use some editing)


Sun Jul 15, 2018 9:53 am
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
dragoongfa wrote:
It's best to not over describe the events taking place, you have to leave things to the imagination of the reader. The reader doesn't need to know everything that happens, they need to know enough for their imagination to kick in and picture it on their mind. If it takes longer for someone to read an event than the actual event taking place then you are doing it wrong.

Also don't introduce a lot of elements at once, it is tiring; best way to do it is to slowly press stuff in naturally via character dialog or as separate exposition. Bloating the text as you try to describe an event that takes place with introducing new elements in the story is extremely tiring.


I would like to add to this from a reader's point of view, that you focus way too much on describing the background environment, like the icons on the DCI (Drone Control Interface) in the last installment changing when a function has been selected, rather than focusing on the action and the character interactions. You try to describe everything you see with your mind's eyes as if painting a picture or describing what you see on a TV screen, frame by frame, rather than letting your readers draw up the scene in their own imagination. Do not spend so much time in describing tech that is supposed to be mundane for the characters using it. I admit, it's only three chapters in, but I struggle understanding what's going on and why.


Sun Jul 15, 2018 11:41 am
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
entity2636 wrote:
dragoongfa wrote:
It's best to not over describe the events taking place, you have to leave things to the imagination of the reader. The reader doesn't need to know everything that happens, they need to know enough for their imagination to kick in and picture it on their mind. If it takes longer for someone to read an event than the actual event taking place then you are doing it wrong.

Also don't introduce a lot of elements at once, it is tiring; best way to do it is to slowly press stuff in naturally via character dialog or as separate exposition. Bloating the text as you try to describe an event that takes place with introducing new elements in the story is extremely tiring.


I would like to add to this from a reader's point of view, that you focus way too much on describing the background environment, like the icons on the DCI (Drone Control Interface) in the last installment changing when a function has been selected, rather than focusing on the action and the character interactions. You try to describe everything you see with your mind's eyes as if painting a picture or describing what you see on a TV screen, frame by frame, rather than letting your readers draw up the scene in their own imagination. Do not spend so much time in describing tech that is supposed to be mundane for the characters using it. I admit, it's only three chapters in, but I struggle understanding what's going on and why.


Good feedback there. I'm trying to for immersiveness. Then again, I'm probably trying too hard... I've always been fascinated by the small elements, and the main reason why I even started reading the Outsider comic was because of the background of info that it has. Worldbuilding is fascinating to me, though my lack of experience is painfully tiresome. Anyways thanks!


Sun Jul 15, 2018 2:46 pm
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Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2015 2:26 pm
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Location: Athens, Greece
Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
Immersiveness is best achieved by having the characters describe what they are feeling while the do a task, not by explaining the minute details of said task as they do it. Are they happy or bored while doing it, is it hard or easy, is it important or not; you add some details on top of that and you have passed along the message in a way that engages the reader's mind.

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My fan fics:

Looking forward to the mirror (Delayed editing)
Reforged (Irregular updates)
The Pale Horse (Completed, could use some editing)


Sun Jul 15, 2018 3:42 pm
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