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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 06-30-13, 04:20 PM Thread Starter
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A/N: A re-write of my Story Resistance, in which I theorized what would happen if modern earth came to enter the 40K universe. It sucked. Why? Because realism sucks, it restricts the writer. Here, it's rule of cool, stuff we have now or will have soon, tech that could exist but doesn't because it was never developed upon.

I explain who the humans are and where they're from right off the bat. Because that's not the point of the story. Oh and there's now a point to the story.

And, last but not least; screw the average joe protagonist, this guy's a mix of Tony Stark, Catherine Halsey and Rodney McKay. Now, do we have a party or what?


Somewhere during the apex of mankind's glory, a colony vessel, one of millions, was sent to the edge of what is now known as Segmentum Ultima, deep within the east fringe. The vessel's name has been lost to history, as was its ultimate fate, for Tau Sedentis, its destination, never saw a human colonist.

The vessel, and its millions of passengers, were declared lost forever. In truth, a simple mistake, made by an overworked Navigator, had them land on another, similar world, five hundred light years into the inter-galactic void, just outside known space.

The solar system became known to its new inhabitants as Net, in reference to it catching them in extremis. Net had never seen life, despite one of its planetary bodies being a carbon copy of terra. The reason for this lifelessness is twofold; first, Nuevo, the system's star, could be defined as "retarded" by some of Net's physicists, the radiation background in all of the system being so low it might as well be inexistent.

Natural selection still occurs and the inhabitants of the system still evolve, but without radiation, there is no mutation, without mutation, DNA cannot change and there is only so much a species can modify in itself with the same DNA.

The second reason for this sterility, though the inhabitants were quick to forget all about the Warp, was quite close to the first; No warp.

Though there is no such thing as "No warp", Net's isolation from most of the galaxy and complete lack of mutation came quite close.

Twenty millennia after settling the earth-like world Shelter, or Shell, the human colonists went to show history does repeat itself, regressing into a dark age of feudalism, during which most of their history was lost, scientific progress halted, before emerging into an accelerated renaissance, lasting only twenty years and quickly followed by an industrialisation for most island nations.

What followed had no precedence in history; knights, on horseback and totting massive swords, came from the main continent to end the islander's heresy…

As mentioned above, never before had a human being seen knights Teutonic being strafed by fighter squadrons.

What followed, however, was equally without precedence and would shape Shell's future: The island nations pushed back the invaders, capturing much of the baffled knights, completely routing the largest army ever created. They had the whole world's back to the wall, a secure dominance over most of the planet's resources.

They did nothing of it. Prisoners were returned to their respective nations, given plans and instructions to develop technology to rival that of the islanders. In their haste to crush the heretics, the world's leaders had scientific development boosted to levels previously unheard of, bringing a medieval society into modernity faster than its inhabitants could follow. The need for savants and thinkers caused education to become a priority, such that in half a century, the mainland's technology and literacy far surpassed that of their foes.

Only, now aware of economic and political concerns, neither the populace nor its leaders wished for open conflict. Fortunately, for, when friendly relations were established, the islanders were revealed to have stolen every breakthrough made by their former enemies.

The pragmatic, liberal and intellectual islanders, now known as Rockwall Conglomerate, and their militaristic, pious and idealistic rivals of the Golden Throne League finally worked together.

Though some attempts were made during their twelve years of peace, Shell's inhabitants slowly lost interest in space travel, focusing their research on computers, artificial intelligence and genetics.

It was at that time that Isaac Garber, a recently graduated engineer from the southern end of the Conglomerate, became known for creating a plasma reactor in his basement using a micro-wave oven, tumble dryer and fifty pounds of aluminium foil.

The reactor failed after five hours, but Garber went on to sell the reactor's blueprints for a small fortune, which he used to create Garber Corporation, his improved plasma reactor designs soon rendering petroleum and nuclear power obsolete and allowing him to buy out most of the world's oil and energy companies.

At age twenty-eight, Garber owned the third most influent corporation on Shell, sitting on enough money to purchase a small nation's military.

And, as he sat in his private jet, viewing the thing's schematics on his spectacle-mounted 3D interface, he was utterly bored. He'd designed the plane ten years prior, on the back of a physics test. He had argued with his teacher over the cost-efficiency of smaller wings on commercial planes and used the plans to prove his theory.

Despite practically laughing in the boy's face, that teacher was now retired in a seaside villa and married to two mannequins, thanks to "inventing" a revolutionary aircraft design.

On the other hand, he'd sold the schematics to one of Isaac's company and advised his former student whenever Garber felt he needed a less morale opinion on something. An odd relationship, but the playboy and inventor hadn't had a normal relationship since his mother died, three years earlier.

As he sat in his private plane, gorgeous young ladies with no personal interest in him busily ensuring he had all he needed, Isaac wondered what to work on next.

Now that he had enough money to live four lifetimes in excess, the urgency that had pushed him to invent and patent a wide array of gadgets in his parent's basement was gone... And wide array really did not do justice to the ridiculous amount of useless items the man's brain had blurted out:

The glasses he wore, like the computer they were linked to, the Ion batteries powering both and even that sonic razor one of the flight attendant was looking for in her purse, all were Garber Corp. patents.

Nowadays, he was hard pressed to even complete one of the billion ideas floating around in his hyperactive mind. He needed something to focus his attention, someone to answer to, anything to motivate him, otherwise he would grow clinically insane...

Sweeping the schematics aside in a dismissive hand gesture, he grabbed a virtual phone from his belt, the thing deploying into a holographic rubik's cube, hovering under his right hand.

First, he looked up the personal chatter number of Rockwall Defence Force's head of research, then entered that number in the cube.

The chatter beeped eight times before somebody shut it off.

"Al, do we have any sats around… John Goldberg? Yeah, Colonel Goldberg's house?" Called the CEO, leaning back in the satin cushion to look at the ceiling while rows of ones and zeroes scrolled down his field of view. "Good! Find me a backdoor into his system…" He waved away an attendant carrying a glass of bourbon, eyes still fixed on the scrolling numbers.

He found a way in through the man's access to the PIN, Planetary Information Network. From there, he booted his PDA and broadcasted directly to the thing's speakers.

"Hello? Colonel Goldberg?" He called, before adding, in a sing-song tone, "Heellll-oooohh!?" He waited about half a minute then repeated the process.

"Who's this?" Barked a gruff voice, whom Al quickly identified as the Colonel.

"About time! What were you doing, rubbing one out?" This teasing question actually served to hide any hesitation, for Garber was unsure just what it is he wanted.

"It's two in the AM, you smug bastard, now either you tell me what you want, or I have a flight of Vultures take down that candy ass jet of yours.

Al warned that the Colonel, despite not having access to any decent network or hardware, had indeed traced the intrusion back to Isaac's private jet… And had a flight of Vulture interceptors on stand bye.

"Lesson learned," spoke the CEO, "you don't become Father Winter without knowing how to make toys… Now, Vultures, huh?" He brought up the aging interceptor's blueprints and gave them a critical once over, "Yeah… Yeah, good enough. Cost effective." And he got to work, incorporating many of his own half-completed projects to the design…

His silence only infuriated the Colonel further, "I swear, if you don't identify yourself in the next ten seconds," warned the old man, "I will personally find out who you are and have everybody you ever so much as shook hand with…"

"Done, check mail!" Called the playboy, smug satisfaction obvious in his voice.

Annoyance slowly morphed to incredulity in Goldberg's voice, "What are you on about? Where did you get… Hang on a second… This, this woul-" He apparently ran off to get something.

Al, Garber's personal Virtual Assistant , always double checked his work and performed minute corrections without being asked, but the Colonel did not have access to such technology and verified everything by hand. To the man's credit, he spent five minutes doing what would take a whole team of engineers an hour, all that without his morning coffee.

"Okay," Finally announced the old man, his tone far friendlier now, "I'm listening, who are you and what do you want?"

Garber was many thing; a genius, an athlete, a visionary, but he was certainly not a people's person. His whole career had been nothing but rejections or betrayals, followed by anger and a burning desire to get back at those who wronged him, by doing better, proving them wrong.

Basically, Isaac Garber had no social skills at all. He'd even spent a fortune getting rid of multiple speech impediments. "Glad I got your attention, Colonel! Now, might you be familiar with Garber Corporation?"

"Energy and electronics. We outsource a lot of our informatics production to them. Why?"

"My name is Isaac Garber, I'm sorry to disturb you at this time of the night, but it occurred to me I had multiple designs that would be quite beneficial to our armed forces."

"What? You want to make a donation?" Goldberg sounded dubious.

Isaac laughed at this, "I'm bored, Colonel, but I'm still a businessman. Think we could meet sometime soon to talk about possible defense contracts?"

"Not how it works, Garber." Despite his words, Goldberg clearly seemed interested, "We issue a tender, review different offers and take the best of the lot."

"Ah, I understand, sorry I woke you up, Colonel," Apologized Isaac, smiling despite himself, "I guess the Golden Throne will be interested then…"

It was the Colonel's turn to laugh, "Alright, kid, drop over by my office tomo… This morning, we'll talk then."

"Got it. Sweet dreams, Goldberg!" While they talked, Isaac had been working on many of his ongoing projects, a military application giving him a fresh perspective on these formerly stagnant projects.

First, he researched air support applications for his discontinued aerial drone project. One thing Garber Corporation had over all of its competitors was actually decent AI technology, because they modelled their AIs' processors after beehives instead of individual beings. A thousand rudimentary programs worked together, splitting the workload into tiny, manageable tasks, reducing the hardware strain and preventing a single bug from paralysing the whole system.

And now, he might just have found a marketable application for the technology.

He found an application for the aforementioned drone, originally meant to assist firefighters, as an autonomous gunship, cheaper, faster and, after some modifications, better armed than its current military counterpart.

Current military forces relied heavily on missiles for anti-armour duty, but countermeasures to those missiles abounded on the battlefield, so Isaac trashed the dorsal fire-retardant cannon and created a customized turret from scratch to put in its place.

The first model looked like a tank's turret, but was quickly scratched in favour of a dome-like appendage of smaller caliber, meant to have a three-sixty degrees horizontal reach and one-eighty degrees vertically. Using computer-controlled fuses and a laser rangefinder, this cannon would provide limited defence from enemy aircrafts.

Next, he removed the two secondary cannons from the bat-like drone's belly and, after some research, installed anti-infantry rotatory guns, loaded with 30mm buckshots that they would fire at a rate of thirty rounds per second…

This too he scrapped. Spray and pray is a human thing, computers don't need thirty rounds per second…

Instead, he installed swivel- mounted Anti-matériel rifles, both with their own independent targeting computers and selectable ammunition.

In the end, the frame unable to accept much more strain, he fitted the wings with four anti-tank missiles and a rocket pod each. To help bear the strain, he changed the frame for a lightweight carbon fiber honeycomb structure, added a third rotor on the tail and increased engine size, at the cost of ammunition capacity.

Then, he sent the design in a virtual reality and put it through various combat situations.

Only after the third simulation, all of which ended with the drone failing, did Al point out the prototype's lack of armour.

"Fekk me…" Was all the inventor could contribute to the remark. Armour weights a lot, one has to find the balance between firepower, engine power and protection…

Isaac cut both wings in half, leaving just enough room for the rotors and moving both missile and rockets to the drone's flanks. This earned him half a centimeter of titanium plating at most.

"Al, what are my alternatives for those rotors?" The assistant enumerated everything from helium sacks to wings. "Good, I'll take them all."

Hydrogen tubes built into the drone's chassis decreased the weight by a fraction, but enough to allow for another means of suspension to be considered.

Twin rocket engines, built in the wings' place, supported by the tail rotor, would fire sporadically, like a bird flapping its wings… Figuratively, that is; there would be no flapping rockets, more like machinegun fire.

A flight attendant leaned in his field of vision and he sat up, shamelessly ogling the pretty brunette's cleavage for a few seconds before looking at her fake smile. "Sir," she spoke, "we are about to arrive in New Koat…"

This hit him like a baseball bat. "What do you mean, Koat?" He jumped from his seat and made for the cockpit, "Prangley, we're not going home anymore, take me to the capital!"

Prangley, a retired fighter pilot from the northern islands, looked over his shoulder and to his boss. Few people could tolerate Garber's excess, which is why he had hired an ex-Red Star pilot discharged for pulling a few insane maneuvers too many.

"Got it, boss, you better fasten seatbelt… Tell pretty ladies to fasten seatbelts too," He added as an afterthought, breaking off his approach despite ample protest from the control tower, "and prepare check-book, Rockwall air traffic not too happy when you break flight plan…"

Isaac had to hold onto straps in the ceiling to drag himself in the cockpit, where he sat in the co-pilot's seat. "Don't worry, Oleg, you can't have your flight license revoked twice."

"With respect, boss," replied the other over the rumbling of straining engines, "you never pull crazy Ivan in heavy-bomber. They let you get flight license back just to revoke it again."

And that is why the co-pilot seat of Garber's private jet remained empty.

000000

As they flew to their new destination, Garber, still strapped next to Prangley, went back to work on his drone prototype. Despite the reduced weight and increased lift capacity, the thing barely had any spare left for decent armor.

The Coltan-Titanium alloy Isaac had planned to use would only protect the thing against small arms fire. Anyone with a high-powered rifle or even flamethrower, seeing as this was meant as a very low altitude aircraft, would be a serious threat.

"Al, show me the periodic tree…" All elements known to man appeared in front of him, superposed with the plane's control panel. Quickly calculating atomic mass and taking availability into consideration, he reached out to eliminate Uranium and Palladium, only both his hands bumped against levers, airflaps, causing the plane to brutally decelerate, on the verge of stalling.

Prangley said nothing as he corrected his boss' blunder and set the plane back on track.

"Sorry…" Said Isaac before spinning his seat one-eighty degrees.

"It no problem, boss," Reassured the old pilot, "I would no pull crazy Ivan with airliner if I could not handle small slip-slide."

Any other pilot, and Isaac had seen a lot in his years as CEO, would have thrown a fit and resigned at the end of the night. Oleg only seemed bored, but then, the man had flown a supersonic airplane through a mineshaft, on the side of a mountain, to bomb the insurgents hiding inside before emerging from the other side with his plane intact.

His plane, an Su-87 "Jackal" Interceptor, had admittedly been a brilliant design for its time, incorporating brand new computerization and maneuvering systems on a predecessor's wooden frame. The Jackal proved itself, time and again, to be an agile if delicate model, capable of out-maneuvering most of its competitors.

The discovery of carbon nanotubes, and thus carbon fiber, had made wood an obsolete construction material.

Out of curiosity, Isaac added carbon fiber plating to his design, but that more than tripled the cost, making a single unmanned drone worth eight of its manned counterparts.

Still, something told him he might have something here… But what?

Wooden planks make for lousy armour at best, he knew that, so why did he feel like this would be the key?

Abundant, cheap and easy to replace, wood did seem like a great solution, but for the fact it simply would not do the trick.

Carbon fiber and wood. Those two things kept dancing around in his head, waltzing with one another like hot blooded lovers. Coat the planks in carbon nanofilm, like a flak jacket?

The drone caught on fire during the first simulation.

A wooden frame instead of carbon? This increased the weight further and reduced its strength so that any fancy maneuver, like, say, turning, would rip the drone apart.

Clearing his interface of everything but a 3D display of carbon and wood's chemical composition.

Cellulose made up most of the latter, so Isaac focused on that, cellular, molecular and atomic representations spinning before his eyes.

"Huh, that's funny…" Mouthed the genius, splitting the cell to get its content out.

Tiny fibrils, Nano cellulose, came out. He compared them to carbon nano-tubes, tested the tensile strength of both for an equal weight and, his eyes widening as he tugged at imaginary cords, realized the meaning of his discovery.

"Well, fekk me, I just revolutionized the construction industry!"

Oleg only raised an eyebrow, "You say that last week. Something went boom."

"Quiet, ye of little faith!" Isaac, now smiling, ran the calculations again, double-checking everything, and finally sent a hundred pages worth of data on his discovery to one of many Garber Corp. labs in the region, along with a simple instruction: 'Mass production next week. Make it happen.'

Knowing that you can extract a cheap substitute to carbon nanotubes from sawdust is one thing, setting up an efficient extraction method from existing facilities would be another entirely. Fortunately, Garber paid people so this would not be his problem.

The new material integrated seamlessly to the drone's concept, its cost yet unknown but estimated at about half that of an actual attack helicopter.

"You see that, Oleg?" He asked, pointing to the drone's schematics, "I'm the best!"

"Da, I see you wave like man with power cord up his ass. Very good, you the best, boss." Came the cynical reply, though it failed to kill Isaac's mood.

The headaches, however, did temper his exuberance some and he took the glasses off, keeping his eyes shut for the remaining two hours of flight.

Garber's 3D interface spectacles allowed him to directly access his personal database, PDA and the PIN without having to carry around two crates' worth of equipment, but wearing them for too long left him feeling like he had been staring directly into chemical floodlights for hours.

Coupled with a chaotic sleep pattern, this usually minor nuisance sometimes triggered sudden and violent headaches. Painkillers would have helped a great deal, but the eccentric inventor refused to swallow anything stronger than Acetaminophen.

The throbbing followed him out of the plane and halfway through the taxi ride to Goldberg's office, only to subside as suddenly as it had come just as Isaac considered canceling the meeting.

"Hey," he called the driver, a young woman that would not have been out of place in his plane, were it not for her unique fashion sense, "don't get me wrong, but… Uh… Why are you driving a cab?"

"Why do you ask?"

Most of his employees, the ones not hired for their brains, had been recruited by a pack of headsmen amongst the flocks of dance, art and esthetic university graduates, he knew that because it had been his idea, to help these girls pay for their tuition in exchange for something pretty for his guests to look at.

One, a Golden Throne representative, had tried to do more than look. This man's country was given a simple choice; put the bastard in retirement or find their own source of electricity.

"I don't know, guess it's rare to see college girls driving taxis." The CEO finally admitted, taking a closer look at his driver. Her hairs were raven black with rose red highlights, she wore sapphire lipstick and rings glistered in both her lower lip and right nostril.

"Who says I'm in college?" She never turned around, but one could hear some amusement in her flat tone.

"Your fingers on the right hand are slightly bent," Isaac explained, not bothering to hide his own amusement, "It's ten AM, your counter says I'm your second run and you're already shaking, meaning you had at least two coffees since waking up, barely a few hours ago. Went to bed late, but no hangover. Either you're insomniac or you studied for next Midas' exams."

That earned him a suspicious glance in the rear view mirror, to which he answered with an exaggerated smile, conscious that his torn grey t-shirt and jeans, not to mention the complete lack of decent shave or haircut, made him look like some weirdo that lives in a box.

"You a psychic or something?" The driver finally asked with some degree of sarcasm.

Isaac shook his head, "No no; been there, done that."

"Been where? In college?"

"Well, no, University, actually… Colleges don't exist where I'm from."

With a nod, she decided this guy was just some washout trying to sound smart. He'd looked drunk out of his mind for the first half of the trip and, suddenly, he was up and blurting out absurdities like normal people converse about the weather. More than once she resisted the urge to pull over and punch that silly grin out of his face.

"So," Isaac continued after almost half a minute of silence, "what are you studying?"

There were few things in Shell that would give Isaac Garber pause. A cab driver majoring in fifteen languages, politics and secretariat, however…

After he'd revised how many languages he could speak, a third as many as that driver, Garber decided that he needed this woman.

"Have you ever heard of Garber Corporation?" This was a rhetorical question, one she answered nonetheless.

"Heard? They sent me five invoice just this month, even after I told them my ex is supposed to handle the electric bill…" In her anger, she took a few seconds to recall why she was telling him that. "Why?"

Isaac extended one hand, "Isaac Garber, pleasure to…" The taxi driver pulled on the sidewalk and slammed the brakes so hard the inventor was almost thrown into the console. Her badge, hanging under the radio, read 'Nadia Guyen'.

Nadia turned fully in her seat and looked closely at her passenger before turning her eyes up to one of many billboards scattered around the capital. Isaac, sharply dressed and harboring a charming smile, leaned against his Corporation's slogan; 'My postroili yego , My vlast' , My budem eto ispravit', 'We built it, We power it, We'll fix it.'

"Wow… It's really you." There was no emotion in Nadia's voice, she even seemed suspicious. "I'll pay the bloody bills alright, don't worry."

"No… What, no!" Isaac tried to think of a way to voice it, but could only blurt out, "How would you like a real job?"

Nadia seemed offended, her dark eyes widening, "What do you mean, real? I have a job! We can't all be some smartass rich guy!"

Still unable to find a correct phrasing, Garder only dug himself in deeper, "No! I want you to work for me!"

"Oh, so it's an indentured servant you want!" The woman was shouting now, pedestrians keeping their distance at the sound of the infuriated cab driver. "You think you can just get whatever girl you want because you control electricity?"

Isaac carefully massaged his eyes, keeping quiet until he could finally speak his mind right.

"Look, I think you have an impressive pedigree and you might have noticed I'm very bad with people. I'm offering you a job as my public relationship advisor."

Nadia blinked twice, then turned to look at herself in the rear-view mirror. "Are you fekking insane?" Was all she said after facing him again.

"Is that a no?"

"You don't even know if I told you the truth!" The cab driver seemed about to pop a blood vessel and Isaac noted to himself that this seemed to be his initial effect on everyone.

I'm bad for people's health! Thought the playboy, holding back a smile. "Did you?" He asked with a shrug.

"No… I mean, yes! But…" And, suddenly, as though someone just flipped a switch, she regained her composure. "You know what? Fine. What's the job?"

Excellent question… "I have no idea. Just… Keep an eye on me and make sure I don't... Do that." He made a wide gesture, designating the awkward situation they found themselves in.

"You want me to babysit you?" That amused her greatly. He simply nodded, a childish pout on his face, "Oh fine. First, you need clothes… So do I. How much loose cash do you have?"

"Roughly two millions…" Isaac estimated, dismissively.

Nadia cocked an eyebrow, "Really, that's not…"

"Per hour."

They looked at each other with perfect poker faces, the staring duel ending with Nadia's mouth stretching in a thin smile. "Show-off."

First, Guyen drove off the sidewalk and three streets further north, into the commercial heart of the capital, where she bought a hundred Jacks worth of fast food for both of them.

Holding a chicken burger in one hand and what could only be described as fruit-flavoured liquid sugar in the other, Isaac realized he hadn't eaten since the day before, and had not eaten fast food in half a decade.

As he sat in this old cab, eating trash food and watching as a girl five less than five years younger than he was tried her best to make him look like a human being, Garber understood what he truly needed: Friends.

Nadia brought him into the most overpriced clothes store she knew, though price tags meant nothing to him, a fact salesmen were quick to notice and the two were soon the whole store's focus.

They allowed a confused Isaac to use their bathroom, though for what purpose, he had to ask Nadia twice.

The first time, she answered something about dressing up a monkey and shoved him into the employee's toilets, putting her sonic razor in his hand. The second time, he asked through the door and got an annoyed answer, "Your face, shave your face!"

"What's wrong with my face?" Garber looked at the razor, then up to his reflection in the mirror and was almost startled by how dirty he truly looked.

"It's talking! You want me to look after your image? Then hack that retarded beard off!"

Since when do I have a boss? Thought the inventor, frowning at his reflection, when a tiny voice in the back of his mind reminded him he hired her on a whim about twenty minutes prior as he had not eaten nor slept for at least a day.

"I regret nothing." He scoffed, carefully trimming his cheeks and chin back to pre-pubescent levels.

"What was that?"

"Nothing!"

No sooner was he out that half a dozen outfits, all far too extravagant for him to do anything with but burn, were trust his way by overeager personnel.

Nadia scared them off with a single, well timed curse and a few angry glares. After that, the two were free to browse actual clothes without fear of getting ambushed by commission junkies.

Nadia had him wear a turtleneck under some old fashioned black trench coat with two rows of buttons on the front and verses of the League's Holy Doctrine sewn in gold letters on the back. The pats also had golden scribbles on them, but they were gibberish, something about not feeding the bears on his right butt cheek and 'no vacancy' on the left knee.

"What is this?" Asked Isaac, eyeing the foreign object in Guyen's hand as though it would try to eat his face at the first sign of weakness.

Nadia glanced down at the hat, "A fedora."

"Why are you holding it? I'm not wearing this thing. No."

It took only a disappointed frown for him to put the 'fedora' on his skull.

It took a lot of willpower to let Nadia drag him in from of a mirror, but the result really surprised him, in a good way. He looked…

"Lord, I'm a smug bastard!" He cried, falsely horrified at his own reflection.

Somehow, Nadia managed to find Three hundred Kings worth of clothes in the short time he'd taken his attention off her. She now looked like a proper business woman… Except for the shiny sapphire tribal motifs sewn into her business suit…

Putting his glasses back on, Isaac cursed to himself. Goldberg would be waiting for them by now. He gave Nadia his credit card and opted to wait outside.

He found the streets empty, the sky an unusual tint of purple and a stench of burnt metal filling the air.

Isaac's glasses flashed twice before booting the interface. News networks were all padding for air time, air traffic hadn't said a thing out of the ordinary since Oleg's unscheduled landing… Military channels, however, were abuzz.

Something massive had appeared in orbit, a few minutes earlier, and held position there, twenty kilometers south of the capital. Its presence messed up with the atmosphere, causing this unusual purple hue and the alien feeling that had everyone run home like terrified rabbits.

"Al," He called, feeling that same unreasonable horror, " I want our drone in production ten minutes ago…" The assistant tried to explain they still had some work before achieving backwards time travel, but Isaac interrupted it, "And look in my scrapped files for anything I can adapt to military duty..."

Al asked which of their factories should be devoted to the new weapons production and Garber, after viewing footages of the floating moon-sized cathedral in orbit around Shelter, responded rather dismissively.

"All of them."

Nadia's smile melted the moment she exited the store.

"What the fekk is going on?" She hadn't even seen his face. A construct as large as that now hanging in orbit would likely ring every alarm bells incrusted in every living being's subconscious.

"I need to get to that meeting, Nadia. Fast."

She nodded, all business once more. "You've got it, let's go."
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 07-01-13, 04:34 AM Thread Starter
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Captain Hansel ripped the horn-like shard of Tyranid chitin from his shoulder as he navigated the darkly lit corridors, never breaking stride, not even as he pulled a thumb-sized teeth from his thigh, throwing it on the stone floor without second thought.

Blue and black writhed in every alcove he passed, Imperial Guardsmen from the Harakoni Warhawks, locking down the way to the bridge.

He walked in to find Captain Kratus, of the Ultramarines, hold his gun to the ship’s captain.

Hansel nodded to the Astarte, polite but careful, “Captain?”

Kratus nodded back, “Captain.”

Apparently feeling left out, the threatened navy officer, a young and promising nobleman of the Silio family, nodded to both, “Captains.” This prompted an irritated groan from the Callidus Temple representative, sat on a terrified crewman’s console.

“Boys, I swear I will castrate all of you if I hear this word one more time.”

“Right,” Kratus’ tone remained neutral and he turned to Silio, “He let the Tyranids on board, my Apothecary has reasons to believe this traitor is actually Genestealer.

The young man smiled, revealing perfect white teeth, “Now, Kratus old friend, let’s be reasonable.”

“I am reasonable.” Countered the other, his bolt pistol still lined up with the unperturbed Captain’s head, “You brought those refugees on board, you tried to seal my men in the cargo room…”

Hansel scoffed at that, eyeing his bleeding shoulder briefly. “Almost got me…”

They only earned a sigh from the naval officer. He might have defended himself, but Kratus splattered his brain on almost five meters of stone wall. All eyes on the bridge locked onto the Space Marine as he holstered his weapon and explained, “The Emperor will recognize his own.”

The Callidus Assassin shook her head in a mix of dismay and annoyance, but kept any comment to herself.

“Now,” Kratus yanked the dead Captain from his throne and took his place, “Navigator, where are we?”

The mutant’s voice echoed across the bridge, emanating from vox casters built into the throne, “Unknown, this is dark space, warp currents are weak in this area, I can barely see the Astronomican.”

“How did we get here, then?” Crewmen steadily went back to managing the Battleship’s systems, begrudgingly accepting the change in management.

“We were in a powerful stream leading to Macragge when the Tyranid boarders blinded me. Momentum must have brought us here.”

With a nod to himself, Kratus shut off the link, not bothering to give the Navigator further instructions, and addressed a young crewman manning the ship’s sensors, “What can you tell me about the world we orbit?”

None of the religious gibberish initiated by the man made sense to Captain Kratus, but he endured it and awaited a logical response. It took five minutes of thanking machine spirits, burning incense and pressing runes before the Astarte had his answer. “This planet is similar to Terra in many ways. There are two large landmasses and a cluster of islands…” This went on endlessly, an monotonous drone testing even the warrior-monk’s immense patience.

Either too stupid to realize the importance of that information or purposefully keeping the best for last, the crewman mentioned human inhabitants only after fifteen minutes of geological and climatic information.

This got Hansel’s interest, “Imperial Citizens? This far out?”

But Kratus laughed at the notion, “Feral, most likely.”

“Actually, Lord,” quipped the crewman, “I am picking a lot of communications and signs of widespread plasma technology…”

A frown twisted Kratus’ features and he interrupted the young man to question a grizzled veteran, the man in charge of coordinating gun batteries, “Are we able to defend ourselves?” Spoke the Astarte, centuries of training telling him to his before these renegades could do so.

“No, Lord, we left dock before fully repairing. It seems our weapons are not operational at this time.”

Kratus’ eyes went back to the sensor operator, “Where are their ships? Are they targeting us?”

The boy double checked his console, incredulous, and slowly shook his head, as though worried this might be a mistake on his part. “No, Lord… They seem to have no orbital defences, only communication satellites and a few habitats.”

Rarely do mortals get to see an Astarte unable to process a situation, and Hansel made sure to savour this small victory over his gigantic colleague.

“No sign of Tau military force?” Tried Kratus, still confused by what he just heard.

“None, sir, it appears they are fully inde…” The man’s mouth hung open for a few seconds, but he quickly caught himself, “My Lord! An Aquilla lander just left hangar four without authorization!”

It was Hansel who caught up first, “Tyranids?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Are they heading for the planet?”

The answer took a few seconds to come and, when it did, it was filled equally with relief and anxiety, “No, sir, they seem to be making for one of the habitats.”

This made sense to Kratus, it fit in his warlike world view, and he jumped back in command. “Captain Hansel, ready your shock troopers, we cannot let the xeno scum spread to this world!”

The Guardsman nodded once and got moving.

0000

Inside Orbital Space Station ‘Hope’, Colonel Simon LaPorte observed the lone craft as grew steadily larger. Clark Doyle, the station’s engineer, observed through another porthole, further down the corridor, while Isabelle Lamarr, their medical officer, did the same in her lab, above their heads.

Goldberg’s voice, transmitted live from Shelter, shook every speaker in the station. “Hope, this is Deus Command, do you have visual on the object?”

LaPorte pressed his earpiece, “DC, this is Hope, which one?”

Goldberg seemed shocked by that question, it took him a moment to speak again, “Repeat that last, Hope, you mean there are multiple objects out there?”

“Affirmative…” He drifted to Doyle, who seemed less than thrilled about the situation, and used the engineer’s shoulder to propel himself into the observation room, where he could get a better look at the exterior. “We have two, I repeat, two contacts. One’s about… Twenty kilometers in length, give or take.” He repeated the same calculation with the second, “And the other’s the size of a fighter plane, bearing straight for us.”

Goldberg spoke to someone else for a moment, his voice distant as he asked his interlocutor to leave the room before finally giving up. “Have they tried to make contact?”

He called Briston, who frantically tried to hail the newcomers on all known radio frequencies. “Nothing so far…”

LaPorte shook his head and, realizing Goldberg could not see, repeated Briston’s words.

The head of military research remained quiet for a while, then, when he finally spoke again, it was as soldier, not as scientist. “Colonel, you must get your men in the shuttle and leave Hope.”

To his right, unable to take his eyes off the incoming craft, Doyle acquiesced energetically while Isabelle poked her concerned face out of her lab, just above the observation room. At the end of the left corridor, Briston seemed to think this idea was the stupidest he’d ever heard.

“DC, you do realize this is a first contact scenario? We can’t just run away!”

“Colonel, your orders are to evacuate. It’s not up for debate, get out of…”

Doyle never stopped watching the shuttle, even when it began approach maneuvers, his eyes remained fixed to the cockpit. No light, no movement, just the space station reflected in opaque glass. The shuttle decelerated a hundred meters from Hope, lazily rotating to present the station with its starboard hatch.

Whoever flew this thing knew their business; the shuttle drifted in a perfect line until it hit Hope’s secondary bulkhead, on the tip of an elongated silver arm, twelve meters further on Clark’s right.

“Sir,” called the engineer, pushing himself to the left, into the observation room, “requesting permission to be spooked…”

LaPorte kicked his way back to the corridor, but stopped on the edge. Whatever was in that ship would have to force a match between their shuttle and Hope’s docking systems, then they would float down that arm and find themselves on the opposite end of the corridor. If anything about them looked fishy, LaPorte would seal off the whole section and get his crew into their own shuttle.

Doyle, the least scientific of the crew, volunteered to prepare their ride for departure. Nobody argued and all five of the remaining passengers assembled in the observation room, their attention focused on the other end of the sterile white corridor.

000

Goldberg kept quiet. Nobody had turned on any camera aboard the space station. An assembly of the most brilliant minds the RDF could find and they just sat there gawking, not documenting a bloody thing. He wanted to argue, to tell LaPorte he’s an idiot, but the scientist in him wanted to hear what would happen.

Only Garber’s new assistant, Nadia, dared break the eerie silence. “Look, my girlfriend works just a few streets away, I’m going to get her…” She was not quite asking permission, only making sure she should bother to come back.

The answer, as it turns out, was no. “Go ahead,” Isaac agreed, not looking at her, “Get anyone you want and head for the airport. My pilot, Oleg, will be at the bar, third floor, tell him we’re leaving in thirty minutes.”

She nodded energetically and ran off, her brand new and overpriced high heels soon finding themselves in a stainless trash can.

Garber turned his attention back to the veritable amphitheater of screens and electronic equipment. RDFR handled most space programs in Rockwall, and this room acted as RDFR’s nerve cluster.

He stood by the double doors, glasses on and growing hot with activity. Most people outright ignored the crazy, fedora-wearing, oddjob waving around in his corner, as Goldberg seemed to tolerate him, but Sergeant Nathaniel Sand, of the RDF SOCOM, really didn’t like it.

The Sergeant pretended to stand guard on the opposite side of the door, but Garber saw through it in one glance.

“I’ve only even been in the Naval Reserve,” Whispered the CEO, pausing his work with a grandiose hand-wave, “and even I know Sergeants don’t get guard duty. What’s wrong?”

Sand decided there and then to hate this man forever. “What’s your business here?”

Isaac went to answer, but speakers across the room screeched, like someone put the microphone in front of them, and, with a loud pop, went quiet.

Garber knew what had happened before most people in the room did, having re-oriented one of his company’s satellites to get a good look at the station. Had Sand not distracted him in that exact moment, Isaac might have seen the Tyranid warriors crawl out of the Aquila Lander and onto the station’s hull. Instead, he only saw them plunging into Hope from the shattered Plexiglas of its observation deck.

All he could make of the attackers were humanoid shapes, roughly human-sized and with inconsistent amount of arms.

Spinning the satellite around, completely oblivious to the RDFR’s frenetic attempts at contacting their space station, he looked at the mothership. Another shuttle, this one moving faster and clearly on an attack run, approached the assailed station… And destroyed it in a single shot.

Goldberg looked as though he was the one being hit by some alien ordnance, growing pale as snow as he fell back into his seat, a spinning leather chair overlooking the amphitheater like a throne. The colonel’s eyes were blank for a moment and only then did Garber realize the military had hacked his PDA to access the same satellite view.

“Mister Garber,” came the Colonel’s quivering voice, “if it’s alright with you, I would like to see what sort of weapons design you have to offer.”

Al had truly delivered on this one, as though, like his creator, the virtual assistant performed better with warfare in mind; there were four hundred discontinued projects in Isaac’s mail box.

He showed them the drone and let the shocked techies analyze its design as he focused on creating more.

An early power armour project was next in line. Not an armour for long, mind you; Garber doubled its size, integrated his new nano-cellulose frame and plates to the design, along with coltan-titanium hardpoints, before re-configuring the legs into a digitigrade position. The knees now bent backward, a humanoid head looked wrong on the thing, so he replaced it by a sensory bulb, which he sheltered in pyramidal armour plates.

Finally, seeing as the new design was not meant to accommodate a pilot, he removed both hands’ little fingers and put second thumbs in their place.

Being that he had little experience in creating actual weapons, he used a 90mm Autocannon normally meant for personnel carriers, gave it a stock and a grip and, just as he was about to send it to the military’s mainframe, was reminded by Al that he needed to fill that hull with at least some electronics before it became anything near useful.

Even with Garber Corporation’s most advanced processors and telemetry analyzers, the thing’s chest had enough room to accommodate a fat gorilla. Isaac thought of using it for ammo storage, but all of the drone’s vital systems were in there and ammunition has a bad habit of going boom.

He considered submitting the blueprint as they were, but decided to pretend this was intended that way and added life support systems, a 3D interface and a seat, so whoever controlled the drone could do so from inside or a distance, and soldiers on the field could take manual control of a drone severed from its handlers.

Isaac barely had time to send this new design that the headaches came back full force, a trickle of blood dripping from his nose and he took the spectacles off carefully.

Sand watched the whole process, awed that this madman waving around aimlessly in his corner could have created these two intimidating pieces of military hardware.

Goldberg seemed like he would normally have denied such fanciful, untested designs, but seeing as they were supposed to be ready for mass production within a week and basically cheaper than sawdust, the old scientist logged in a verbal contract with Garber Corporations.

“How many do you want?” Isaac would have cracked some jokes, but his brain felt as though it were on fire. Not only because of the migraine; this situation would mean massive changes, to him and the whole world, and now he had to produce military hardware out of a material that could very well turn out not to exist.

“As much as you can produce. You have a blank check.”

For now, he had Al produce a… Security force, using carbon fiber as an extremely expensive alternative to nano-cellulose, but already available to his sports car factories and private facilities.

Speaking of which… “I need to be going,” he announced, nodding to the massive main screen, where his designs were being virtually inspected one part at a time, “you have my number.”

Goldberg nodded, “I do… One last thing, Mister Garber…” The Colonel seemed uneasy as he made his way up to Isaac. “Tell me, was this all a coincidence? You offering your services just before those things arrived?”

He thought about it for a bit, then shook his head, “Don’t think so.” Admitted the young inventor, “Too convenient, but whatever is going on, I don’t know any more than you do.”

The Colonel pursed his lips, attempting a smile, but failing. “Then you won’t mind if I have Sergeant Sand here take care of your security, will you?”

The CEO and commando traded surprised looks, but opted not to oppose Goldberg’s decision. “Good, now get out of here, I have work to do… Blast, I just gave some twenty-eight year old a blank check, my boss is gonna want some answers…”

Both men saluted, though only one was serious in doing so, and left the room, enjoying the drastically colder corridor.

“Great,” growled the playboy on the way out of the building, “now I have two babysitters, one’s a lesbian and the other’s an asshole!” The took Sand’s car, a military truck that screamed ‘overcompensation’, and only once they were out of the parking did Nataniel take offence of Isaac’s words.

“Did you just call me an asshole?”

“Why? You want to be the lesbian?”

Sand frowned and said nothing for a moment, “Are you homophobic?”

This seemed to have no effect on Garber, but his words clearly showed he had not thought about it that way, “No, I’m Kelghast, stupid skak just comes out of my mouth all the time… Don’t tell Nadia I said that.”

They stopped at a red light, but seeing as the streets were deserted and they practically drove an armoured vehicle, Sand decided to keep going a second after coming to a stop.

“What’s my silence worth to you?” The Sergeant teased, still unsure whether to hate Isaac or not.

The latter looked around for a moment, then said, “A decent car?”

“Define ‘decent’.”

“Whatever you want; Speed-Racer, Hybrid… M1 Main Battle Tank.”

Sand drew his sidearm, pulled the slide and ejected the clip before tossing everything on the back seat. Then, he picked a pearl white revolver from the glove box. "Good enough," the Sergeant finally agreed, "now who's Nadia?"
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