Sol, Chapter 8: His Hate Grows as Their Blood Spills

Although the holobeing called Tichokiri signed off of the inter-stellar holoverse, he was still present in Daniel’s mind. And even though they had not known each other for more than a few hours, they had come to know each other quickly. Daniel was attracted to T’s knowledge and pragmatism, while it was fascinated with the Lunar boy’s astronomical emotional drive.

T: Daniel, you have not been chosen. It is not necessary to erase the memories of all that you have been subjected to. I say that you have not been chosen because you have chosen us. When you were unconscious on the surface of Earth’s moon, all vulnerable and waiting for certain death, an unidentified ship, presumably the former-freedom fighters, picked you up. Most likely they saw your work sabotaging the Helium 3 industrial refinement complex and knew that you were subconsciously  inclined towards beliefs contradicting those that you have been indoctrinated in since your birth. Those warriors, which are even to us drenched in mystery, dropped your body off at our waypoint. That is why you are here now.

Daniel: I know my state of being is weak, but please, allow me to help resist this invasion. I’ve always desired of destroying these ingrained beliefs.

T: Yes, passion… and dedication. Really the only abstract concepts needed in order for an organic to work the weapons system. Especially against these mindless drones and vile mercenaries… You see, these systems will feed off of your emotions. Remember everything your family did to you back on Luna. If you have the needed drive, all else will come automatically. The primary concern is that your body is still taking time to rejuvenate for correlation with the central nerve processing core…. We’ve never let a new organic, especially one so young, access  the defense system immediately after having been thawed from cryogenic stasis. However, since the danger is imminent, and your hatred so great, we find it can be necessary to break protocol… Let’s see… You run a 2/3 chance of not surviving if you proceed, do you understand?

Daniel: I understand Tichokiri…

T: That is, not surviving, in other words a 1/3 chance of survival. Do you still wish to proceed?

Daniel: Yes.

T: Then let us waste no more time.

Daniel’s body was enclosed again, although this time he was not subjected to the blackness of sleep but that of space. That is, actual space, not the holoverse representation. The defense systems on the asteroid included not only laser weapons, but highly advanced “invincible gravity flails”. It worked like a sling flung from the face of the asteroid rock, and carried a bubble carrying a being with so much force it reached near light speed. The operator worked in the translucent orb at the end of the tentacle sling, using gravity manipulators that would instantly crush any targets within reach.

Besides the gravity/laser defense systems, there were several hundred hydrogen mines in what was called the “outer wall”. Not only did the mines utilize ancient thermo-nuclear technology, but they were also rigged in order to amplify the electro magnetic bursts that such reactions naturally created. The effect would be devastating on any automated ships or drones within hundreds of miles of the actual blast radius itself, which was already huge. These outer defenses were thousands of miles away from the waypoint itself, roughly forming an oval around the asteroid station. As the center of Guild commerce, Waypoint 3 was the most heavily fortified asteroid in the Belt.

T: The Jackers comm is being disrupted by EMT bursts, I’m assuming the outer wall is breached. Ready Daniel?

Daniel: All I need is to focus and remember…

T: Exactly, let’s go.

The usage of the word ready was relative. The young human had spent his entire life worshipping and working simple machinery. He was feeding the belly of an unholy beast unknowingly. It was his chance to disembowel the beast.

Meanwhile, Dar was locked in a vicious battle with the drone fleet. The merc ships were able to slip by the pirate cruisers only because their drone companions were unlike anything the guild commander had ever seen. Dar was frustrated, every attempt she made at subduing the drones with EMT blasts seemed futile. She was no coward, and yet she was nowhere near a fool, and so she ordered her girls to retreat under cover of hydrogen flak with a handful of precious ships lost. Tichokiri could not communicate with Dar, although it knew something had gone terribly wrong, as the merc fleet amassed only a few kilometers from the waypoint itself.

T: Comm still down… Dar, if you can receive this, minimize your losses and retreat. Waypoint 3 will be closing up completely and initiate the detonation of the anti-matter field.

Daniel: What’s going on?

Daniel was encased in metal, and relying on gravity to arc back and forth in waves of destruction. The translucent tentacular vehicle he operated effortlessly smashed merc vessels to bits. The untrained boy took dozens of lives without realizing it.

T: Daniel, I’m bringing you back now.

Daniel: Why? I can feel the battle, it’s amazing. I just can’t see it.

T: Perhaps that’s for the best, but you need to prepare for the worst.

Just then the figurative blinds conveniently opened up on Daniel’s gravity-craft. The devastation was now apparent to him. The once imposing, hight-tech merc fleet had been shattered. Yet something strange was simultaneously developing, and Tichokiri was the only one aware. The drones were using the wreckage as resources in order to construct entirely new, automatic and self replicating weapons. The sight would have instilled fear into the holobeing if it could feel, especially since the EMT mines seemingly had no effect on these new drones.

T: How did they discover this energy? How could our intelligence have failed us? Now there is no choice, the only chance of survival is the last resort. This has never happened before.

Daniel: Why did you bring me back? I was just getting used to kicking ass.

T: You couldn’t see, but we didn’t win. However, you bought us enough time in order to close the station. We’re going to have to destroy everything in Mid-Sol in order to defeat those highly advanced drones. The anti-matter weapon is readying, hopefully it will work.

Sol, Chapter 7: Out of the Freezer, Into the Glacier

Daniel was ushered into a pure white oval room by friendly translucent drones with nothing all around him except a stand-alone tube in the center, which reminded him too much of the cryogenic chamber that he had just uncomfortably emerged from only seconds earlier. His being was injected into the Holoverse. Now Daniel could see for hundreds of thousands of miles all around the rock that his physical body was inside, but so far he could only bear witness to the impending battle with anxiety in thinking he had no part to play in the defense of the asteroid station himself.

T: We have three dozen Vultures and a drone mothership converging on Belt Sector 3.  Emitting instant encrypted alert to every Guild commander in Mid-Sol… Deploy all Human and Cybernetic forces in vicinity… Incoming friendly parties standby for further information.

Waypoint 3 Automated Server: Jackers Guild is requesting access through outer EMT minefield.

T: That was unbelievably fast.

Dar: Since when was belief ever a concern of yours ol’ holoboy? T’was, mere coincidence really… we may have been a bit encumbered and already on our way to your port, but- hey, tis better than dying right? Wait, well you can’t really “die” can you now really?

T: I will never understand pirate humor… nor human for that matter.

Meanwhile, the waypoint was buzzing with activity. All of the inhabitants thereof had been trained to respond against incursions, yet most of the encounters that were fought in the defense of the asteroid were nothing close to battles- more like skirmishes in comparison to the Drone Wars decades before. Hundreds of hidden laser turrets dotted the space rock, and most were automatic, but the larger ones needed sentient emotion (or “drive”, as it was called by the spacers) in order to thermally pinpoint targets. Early on in the development of cybernetics, it was realized that the fusion of organic and artificial sentience resulted in the best effects as opposed to reliance on pure machinery. The guilds learned this the hard way, as primitive spacers and pirates that went overboard with cybernetic development were often destroyed in combat by lightly transformed humans with less space-combat experience.

Dar: My girls always bring in a big haul Tichokiri; I can end this fight in microseconds even though our maneuverability is on the low end.

T: There are at least three dozen Merc ships descending on our belt sector in a rough semi-circle formation… the enemy are using those damn new drones that can disable EMT Bursters. Their automated ships will bypass our outer defense systems with an 86% success rate.

Dar: Three dozen? Are your outer sensors malfunctioning or what? My girls have only detected fourteen Morgan-class cruisers…  I was wondering why they’d set out on a suicide mission like this.

T: I take it that you have made some assumptions as to who our attackers are.

Dar: The girls sent a detachment to Europa a ways back because of some suspicious readings we intercepted… there’s a fully functioning outpost under the ice that violates Mid-Sol Conduct Charter…

T: …Seems like there is a string of colonies on the Jovian moons that have been going under the proverbial radar for some time now, any idea who they are affiliated with?

Dar: With their tech, well, these bastards must be subsidized by the EDF, but they certainly have hidden any direct connection with them. Once I’m finished with these assholes we have to destroy those moon bases, T.

The Jackers went into full combat mode. Their sleek frigates were the fastest stealth fighters known in Sol, and the female pirates that operated them were ruthless. Dar’s guild was known for looting corporate vessels uncompromisingly. And in the last few cycles the Jackers had depleted EDF and Corp coffers by disrupting all Inner Sol commerce which was deemed exploitative of lower class people still oppressed across the system.

T: Waypoint Server, put the last resort measure on standby… Daniel, I will begin your warm up procedures, we need every bit of help we can get for this battle.-

Daniel: Get me out of this damn tube! I want to fight.

T: Cannot process a redundant request, your body will be active in ten seconds, you will be prepared to integrate into the defense system… holobeing identity Tichokiri signing off, automatic response systems on…

For all intents and purposes, EDF, which formerly had relatively friendly relations with the Mid-Sol guilds, had declared war abruptly upon the wary yet still surprised inhabitants of Waypoint 3. Daniel would soon find out that his excitement for fighting these tyrannical mercenaries and drones could not be any more naive. He would learn that good and evil in any context is relative, and that horrifying choices must be made even by those that only wish for harmony.