Divided Destiny: Archer

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Samster, Jan 5, 2015.

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  1. [​IMG]

    It'd become something of an unofficial motto for Eden, derived from a speech given upon Conestoga's christening; it was re-coined by the lead surveyor when welcoming the first wave of colonists to their new, daunting home. The phrase was packed with all the raw emotions humanity's last hope brought with them from Earth — torn families and a homeworld now reduced to a geoid of molten rock. It's a customary send-off for expeditions, and every councilor has managed to squeeze it into their rhetoric one way or another.

    But it never got old. A world some billions strong reduced to a mere two-hundred and sent out among the stars packed like sardines in a space-can — no one questioned the phrase's verisimilitude: Survival is not an option.

    Archer's last communiqué was probably the most efficient message sent in the colony's history: "I don't know." Packed behind that single thought was an implication that rocked the colony's most hardened souls to the core. Archer had held humanity's hand since its fabrication, and had even helped guide Eden in its first steps making a living for itself. Anachronistic sentiments of technological over-reliance started to boil into people's minds, even driving some to take matters into their own hands against the will of an indecisive council.

    The question, of course, was whether or not Archer thought terraformation was the best course of action — somebody had leaked a plan from the encrypted portion of Earth's time capsule database that allegedly had the potential to turn New Terra from a red wasteland into a true new Earth. The catch was that this plan relies on a form of microbial manufacturing that had never been made a reality, much less tested on the scale needed to apply it to an entire planet.

    Apparently a think-tank got together on the subject of teraformation in Earth's last days and came up with the idea of converting ice into a breathable atmosphere. The whole idea was reckoned bogus by the people in charge at the time, but there was a policy of nothing wasted, nothing lost, and so the concept was relegated to the encrypted portion of the database with the hope that it wouldn't be seen until long after the colony had established a sense of stability.

    If it weren't for Archer, Eden may never have heard of the plan until centuries down the road. Given the stark nature of New Terra, Eden's council sicked the supercomputer on the problem; some weeks later, word got out that the cipher had been cracked — dumb luck, even for a machine as advanced as Archer. There were conspiracy theories suggesting that Archer had the key the whole time, but nobody really bothered with the subject. There was a solution; that's all that mattered.

    Archer briefed the council on a number of ideas proposed by Earth's plethora of end-game think tanks, but the only one that was comparable to any familiar technology was this, which paralleled some of the genetic research that went into the boptronic supercomputers like Archer and its predecessors. Even so, it was a stretch.

    Chairman Nguyen's voice boomed with his characteristic bravado, his opinion on the matter clear: "I can't just sit around while this council bickers about theoretical consequences; three technicians in a week is an unacceptable casualty rate. Hesitation could make the difference between a near miss and a near failure! We're making hairline decisions here — and if that doesn't scare you lot into action, I don't know what will." He takes his seat with a huff, the air settling just as quickly as it had been sent into a frenzy.

    Chairwoman Burke brought with her words a foiling calmness; she had managed to keep the council swinging this long, and she wasn't about to let it sway in this hot-head's favor. "What you're suggesting is that we make a leap of faith—."

    "Yes! A leap of faith!"

    "A leap of faith that could very well spell our doom."

    "Or none at all that will surely guarantee it." His dark hair flopped about in fervor toward the end of that sentence. It would be comical under less trying circumstances. "Better to die trying—"

    • • •​

    "—than to lie down and die," piped in Axen, interrupting her tale. "He actually said that?"

    "Not that you heard it from me."

    "Of course; confidentiality and all that, Doctor Burke." The two walked down the primary corridor connecting the command center to the hot lab Chairman Nguyen had sole domain over. It was somewhat cramped for such a popular thoroughfare, just enough space to fit four men shoulder-to-shoulder. The floor mesh covered a bundle of tubes and cables which carried resources from section to section, but the military atmosphere was contradicted by a skylight that curved overhead, revealing the shoulder-deep terrain the corridor carved right through.

    "You know, I think he's starting to lose his touch, Emma; between you and me, I think it's about time he croaked."

    "Now, that's just in bad taste."

    "It doesn't take a genius to recognize he's in over his head."

    "It takes one to come up with a better solution."

    "That's why he's not the only one on the council, huh?" Axen nudged his companion with an elbow, nearly clotheslining a passer-by. "Sorry, bud!"

    Chairman and Doctor Phan-Chun Nguyen, a prominent member of Earth's scientific elite, made leaps and bounds in the field of biochemistry, effectively doubling the rations since the first generation of colonists landed, and taking the first steps toward making available to Eden the specialized boptronic components in the Savant supercomputers.

    Chairwoman and Doctor Emma Burke, a well-respected leader and geologist, was charged with surveying New Terra for an optimal landing site for Eden's initial facilities; she was an adventurer of sorts, familiar with a number of other scientific fields and still young enough to pick up a few more tricks before she went.

    Doctor Axen York, the youngest of Conestoga's compliment, was an up-and-coming computational engineer; his ancestors were responsible for the invention of the Savant-series supercomputers, and he worked closely with Doctor Nguyen to bring the technology into Eden's reach.
    #1 Samster, Jan 5, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2015
  2. "Sorry, bud!"

    Doran turned sideways, narrowly missing the raised elbow of Doc Axen York. It was partly his own fault. He was in a hurry to get to one of the lower corridors and wasn't paying particular notice. The beeping of the handheld in his right arrested his attention. It showed a crude map of the colony. Corridors stretching, with rooms sprouting on the vine. Most of the colony's inhabitants knew the layout by heart now, but that wasn't what Doran used this map for. It was imperative to his work. A little red dot blinked in one of the corridors, next to it in blockish letters, the section in which this hall was. It was yet another breach and he was the closest mechanic to it.

    A left and right followed by a large curving corridor brought him to where he needed to be. The corridors that, most of the colony consisted of, was made out of two layers. This indeed made things feel a little cramped, but ensured that most debris, which was the major cause of hull breaches, didn't immediately put the occupants in danger. Doran stuck the handheld into his overall's pocket, after finding the maintenance hatch that led to the outer layer. The corridor was mostly empty, the majority of folk working earnestly on bettering the colony. The door opened with a clunk and Doran squeezed in, his tool box rattling in his left hand. He made his way to where the handheld had showed. The breach was barely larger than a quarter, probably just caused by a regular wear and tear. It was a quick job, but important nonetheless. Even a spark can turn into a forest fire.

    The lid of the toolbox swung open, revealing all the essentials for maintenance. It was a simple metal toolbox of greenish gray coloring with his surname in blod black lettering on the lid. A dirtied hand rummaged through the tools, seeking some sheet metal, double the size of the hole. Next followed a simple handheld welder. Doran moved the goggles that permanently sat atop his head. The tinted glass, blocked what harmful light there could be as he welded the piece of metal over the hole, sufficiently blocking breach. The welder was tossed back in the toolbox, the lid flipped shut after. "Todd" was written on it. Finally back inside, Doran sighed in relief. He gave a yawn and gave a delighted stretch to his shoulders.

    "Phew," he said. "No rest for the wicked." No sooner said, a beeping from his pocket sounded. He looked left and then right, extracted the handheld and set off.
    • Love Love x 1

  3. The dust storms had been especially severe in the past week; the three casualties Nguyen referred to were unprecedented — between Archer's watchful eye and Eden's disaster response personnel, there had always been enough warning and protection to ensure the colonists' safety. The latest cell, however, had doubled up with a far more destructive hazard; with Eden's observatory unable to track potential impacts and Archer unable to send communications through the electromagnetic interference, the colony had been rendered defenseless against meteors.

    The colony was particularly sober as a result — the corridors were quiet even in a bustle, the work crews worked without gossip, and even the children seemed to feel the tension. The politicians talked and talked, but nobody noticed; the air had a surreal crispness to it, as if sound could carry on forever but would always land with a whisper. New Terra was a cold world, and now its people grew cold in the face of adversity. The euphoria of survival was beginning to wane.

    Axen slumped into his chair, already reaching for his datapad. The glass pane lit up and displayed a variety of schematics each describing a potential Savant-lite model. The colony was in need of a more accessible version of its only supercomputers — for now, the precious few it had were nonrenewable resources. They were responsible for just about everything in the colony, from piloting externally-automated vehicles to analyzing complex data to answer some very hard and very abstract problems. But the technology that created them required extensive genetic engineering facilities and personnel — something the colony simply didn't have the capacity to bring into operation.

    He dismissed these leftovers and linked up with Kraft, that which had been created by his forefathers, and consequently the first of its kind. "Good morning, Axen," came the customary reply.

    "Are you so sure? Where's the Sun?" Axen always enjoyed testing the machine's intuition. It was widely believed that the Savant supercomputers were sentient, but there were still moments when the artificiality of their intelligence showed through.

    "The local star is presumably shining on our O-nine-thirty."

    "Oh?" The toying attitude brought on a tasteless grin.

    "The Sun has not been seen today." If Kraft could experience exasperation with Axen it would have sighed.

    "I should hope not. Now, what's the news?"

    "You can access science, operations, and social updates in the public database."

    "Don't sass me, Kraft; I want to hear it from you."

    "Affirmative. Contemporary overview:
    Science catalog:
    Communications division:
    We have begun a study investigating an alternative transmission format which bypasses the current radiowave/laser hybrid medium; by relying on these mechanisms, we have exposed ourselves to continuous interference by astronomical and meteorological phenomenon, particularly the recent string of dust storms. Currently we are looking into thermal nodes as an emergency transmission array; the Conestoga's habitat module is capable of producing isolated heat signatures which can be detected even under adverse meteorological conditions.​
    Infrastructure division:
    The plethora of microfissures and hull breaches present as a result of inclement weather have been a persistent issue since our arrival on New Terra. The infrastructure division is pleased to announce the completion of its trials concerning a semi-transparent gel coating which acts as an emergency solvent and coagulant in the event of a fracture. Distribution of the coating to integral sections will begin as soon as maintenance personnel are available. Future implementation will progress in stride with colony resources.​
    Operations catalog:
    Infrastructure division:
    The corridor connecting the observatory and the command center has been severely damaged; containment procedures have been executed. The observatory is currently offline and inaccessible. Emergency personnel have been sent externally to provide aid to the occupants, and machinery is working to remove the bulk of the debris so that we can begin repairs.​
    Maintenance division:
    We are in need of additional maintenance personnel to assist in applying emergency coagulant to the outer hull of the colony's most sensitive sections; volunteers will be asked to work alongside automated machinery to ensure quality control and provide touch-ups. Personnel familiar with working externally are in special demand.​
    Social catalog:
    Observatory division:
    We're all right. Nobody was in the corridor at the time. Containment was successful on our side, and the disaster team showed up with spare oxygen. Hopefully we'll be able to get back to work in no time.​
    Mortuary division:
    Funeral ceremonies for Saad Adil and his apprentice, Komachi Maya, will be held tonight on the forum stage at nineteen-hundred. Our condolences to their respective families; Eden mourns with them."​

    "Well, that explains Mr. Todd's hustle," Axen mused. "It's a shame about the agridome. I can smell the sweat off the DRPs' brows just reading."

    "I don't follow, Axen."

    "I'll bet they're working overtime to make up for the impact on the agridome; their way of mourning, ya' know?"


    "So quiet, Kraft?" Axen's brow jerked up at an angle.

    "Frost supposes they have been reminded of why they do what they do." And then it went up higher, something Axen had personally decided was 'his thing'.

    "What's Emma doing talking to you?"

    "She isn't. Frost has been eavesdropping."

    "Well, connect me to her anyway."


    Chairman Burke's face displayed on the datapad in Axen's hand. The woman's blonde hair was all he could see at first, until Frost's display visible over her shoulder lit up to notify her of the invasion. "Now is not a good time, Axen," she warned. "There's a problem with the mainframe and nobody has a clue where the fault is."

    Axen leaned forward with a new frown, his fingers twitching with anticipation. "And you didn't think to ask the resident IT about it?"

    "You know you're not authorized."

    "You'd think in a utilitarian society we'd be over with that sort of problem."

    "Not when there's so much at stake, Axen. Now, I need to isolate this issue before it interferes with colony operations. We'll talk later." She didn't wait for a goodbye.

    "Must've been urgent." Axen leaned back in his chair. "Kraft, give me a map of Eden's network; I want to see how it compares with the latest damage reports."


    Savant Kraft, the first of its kind, was given to Axen as a young adult on Earth. Its history has provided it with significant insight into the human experience. Kraft is responsible for managing a variety of communications and networking tasks in addition to handling automated machinery.

    Savant Frost is a dedicated supercomputer which was designated as the representative of its peer Savants in council discussions. It also functions as the colony's primary overseer regarding personnel management and emergency procedures.
  4. Squeak! The soles of Doran's shoes screeched as he came to a halt near a hatch. A pair of gray covered legs protruded from the opening, soon followed by an ass and then torso.

    "Hey!" Doran exclaimed. "You're suppose to notify if your going for a breach. I could've been somewhere else by now!" He was unsurprisingly a bit irritated. It was necessary for efficiency that each of the repair crew let the others know if they were going for a certain job. It was usually just a button away. They only needed to blip their location on their handheld to show they were near. This generally showed up as a blue spot with the member's detail next to it. It was basically precisely the same as how the breach would show up. With this knowledge a member knew where to put his attentions. Before people were just running around like headless chickens.

    "Yeah, yeah." A voice answered in return, dainty fingers gripping the side of the hatch. Finally the person's head emerged. "You really are such a stickler. Perhaps I didn't want you elsewhere." Lika smiled brightly at as she planted her feet on the ground, turning to face Doran.

    "You know better. Why are you even here? I thought you had business on the other side."

    "As a matter of a fact, I've already been there, grouch." She produced a clear tube, Doran wasn't even sure where from. It appeared empty to his eyes and he couldn't fathom what it was. "If you regularly checked your mail you would've gotten the notice. There's a new sealant being distributed. You know? The one they've been promising and promising."

    "We can't all laze about waiting for emails, Lika." An eye-roll from the female. Doran did recall the gel that has been in experimentation. Supposedly it would give everyone extra time to get to hull breaches. Or to evacuate inhabitants. Perhaps it would prevent future breakages like the Observation corridors. He wasn't entirely sure if it would work, but he wasn't one to worry about such things. He and those that worked with him were only in charge of implementation. "Used it here? Does it work?"

    "Won't know until there comes another tear, duh. Don't you pay attention to the briefings?" She was silent a moment, inspecting Doran. "Then again, look who I'm talking to!" Her ever-present smile turned to a teeth gleaming, laugh. "Anyway..." A turn on the spot and she walked away, giving a backwards wave.

    Doran sighed and slammed the maintenance hatch that was left open shut.
    • Love Love x 1
  5. Between the impacts on the agridome and the observatory's only link to the colony, the meteor impacts were really driving home the idea of an inhospitable wasteland. Food production was stable and it wasn't as if the observatory were unrecoverable, but the events were jarring nonetheless. Colony operations were suffering, and without Archer's guidance, Eden became a nervous community.

    Phan-Chun beat his fist against the wall of the corridor before sending a panel casing sliding halfway down the hall with a swift kick of his leg; it skittered to a halt as one of its corners snagged on a few holes in the floor-grate. A few orderlies exiting the nursery called out in surprize, but turned to shield their charges' eyes when they realized it was just Chairman Nguyen's usual hot-headed self.

    Where the panel once hooked Phan-Chun had been eyeing an access point which provided the signal for wireless devices in the corridor. He had found a nick in the cable that fed it, and evidently that concerned him. He fixed the last of a case full of cameras onto the hull behind it and hooked it up.

    WIth a sigh, he brought the panel back over and put it up; rolling his work cart away with a cacophony of clattering, he could be heard muttering a rather unsavory string of foreign phrases presumably concerning the female ancestors of whoever had been fiddling with his dear network.

    Chairman Burke's hair bounced with as much fervor as her footsteps, which rattled the grate and occasionally creaked the hull. Here the hall was dim, with no skylight overhead; the only color was a dull therapeutic blue which frankly was an eyesore. She came to a stop a few feet from the command center's staff entrance, and hooked her card to the scanner for a moment before unlatching it.

    "I could've been somewhere else by now!"
    Voices echoed over the crest of a corridor making the fourth and largest branch of the junction. The murky red of New Terra's dusty skies was visible before the bodies. She frowned when she saw something darker, greyer in the cover, but the door unsealing behind her distracted her. She tried to focus and see the darkness again, but she couldn't see it and dismissed the omen. She turned, and — why, we'll get to that.

    "Chairman Nguyen?" The sight before her was too absurd for a raised brow and far too strange to elicit laughter. Phan-Chun had apparently wedged himself into the would-be airlock between his cart and the doors. One leg was trapped behind the cart and the other was hanging over the top of it — he'd apparently tried to climb out over the blockage and forgotten to account for his height and the ceiling's cramped lowness. His head was bent over his torso and his arms were stretched between bracing his torso and reaching for the interface that would open the door.

    "Watch; I've almost got it," he insisted, his tongue practically hanging out in determination. "Don't help me."

    "How long have you been here?" Emma double-checked over her shoulder at the sound of a hatch slamming shut, conscious of the potential humiliation of being trapped like this. The mechanics would never let him live it down.

    "I just got here," he fibbed, leaning further over. Apparently he'd leaned too far; the cart shifted and shot out at Emma, pushing his leg out from behind him and torquing him and consequently his face directly into the input screen. A bit of blood beaded over the Open icon, which lit up as the door opened.

    Emma caught the cart and shoved it out of her way, but by the time she could manage that, Phan-Chun had already raised a hand as he pulled himself together. "Are you all right?"

    "No, probably not, but that's why we have the medical ward."

    "Well, you're talking." She eyed him as he got up. "And bleeding profusely! Yes, you're right, you should probably go."

    "Yeah, yeah. Come on; I don't want to pass out alone halfway there — we both know nobody would pick me up if they found me."

    Emma was concerned by the remarks. Phan-Chun's bravado was notorious, and certainly his name was dragged through trash compactors and waste incinerators by half the colony, but nobody really wanted him gone — certainly not after his bringing Eden out of a state of constant crop death and malnutrition. He'd always been the first to bring that up in the face of naysayers. "All right, come on."
  6. Doran stood beside the now closed hatched, a bit at a loss of what to do. His handheld was quiet. Apparently there were no other breaches in his vicinity, so he was left without purpose. Thus he stood pondering whether to go and seek the sealant his comrade so haughtily tote in front of him a while ago. There would likely only be a set amount of the formula in the testing stages. If the other crew members were as adamant on checking their mail as Lika was, there probably wouldn't be any of it left. In his opinion it would be a waste of time to make the trip. That left him wondering where else he would go with no apparent open jobs around.

    An odd thud from his rear shook Doran back into motion. He turned and made his way to the sound. Closing in on the sound he could distinctly hear two voices. That of a male and female. They sounded familiar enough, although he couldn't discern what the conversation was about. His suspicions about the owners of the voices were soon confirmed as Doctors Burke and Nguyen passed by. Nguyen had his head leaned quite a bit back, Burke was walking beside him. Two of the head honchos of the colony. Doran generally tried to avoid the academics. His people were the hands-on folk, that got smeared by oil and ran around like madmen. That was why the mechanic tried to stay out of sight until the two had passed.

    In the time he was waiting, he decided that it would be best to go to the Observatory. The knowledge of the disaster wasn't uncommon, but Doran had opted to do the more pressing hull breached this day. Now with no other breaches to fix, he thought it best to make himself useful there.

    Tap-tap his shoes went as he walked down a corridor in the direction of the Observatory. The corridors became busier and busier the closer he came to the destroyed section. Although not a lot of people, there were quite a few trying to help where they could. Some were fixing things, others were clearing debris. Doran proceeded to do what he does best; clanked his toolbox on the ground, fetched a spanner and jumped to work.
    • Love Love x 1

  7. Axen's brows went up when, while studying the public infrastructure records, a notification slipped its way onto his pad's screen. "Kraft, where is Doctor Burke?" The display on one of the machine's otherwise featureless faces lit up and showed the iconic spinning gear that demonstrated a Savant's prompt for patience. Meanwhile, Axen eyed the message with increasing curiosity (and suspicion).

    « Emergency Notice to All Staff »​

    Non-integral divisions personnel are hereby prohibited from essential operations areas. Command center access limited to pre-authorized personnel only.

    Internal affairs, maintenance, and observatory divisions assignments have been reprioritized in light of recent discrepancies in digital security records.

    Spaceport division operations will remain on hold until further notice.

    Thank you for your cooperation;
    Doctor Xavier Guile, Chairman
    Trevor N. Mason, Chairman
    Doctor Phan Chun Nguyen, Chairman
    Doctor Emma Burke, Chairwoman

    "Doctor Burke is assigned to a special staff meeting; records list her last checking in at the command center." Kraft's gear kept wheeling, suggesting it wasn't done thinking.

    In any case, Axen stood out of his chair and hastily made his way to the door. "Inform her I'm on my way."

    "She is in the infirmary, Axen."


    "Frost has notified me that Emma and Phan-Chun are not present for the meeting." Considering the situation, the horrified look on Axen's face was understandable. "Doctor Burke's badge is — affirmative." He hadn't waited for Kraft's explanation.

    The medical ward was clear across the colony from his laboratory, and considering the webwork of corridors and junctions he'd have to traverse, the trip could easily have taken half an hour. He was no space cowboy, and wasn't about to take a shortcut through New Terra's sterile wasteland — not even in one of the clunky environmental suits in lockers between each junction. Axen gave a sigh of irritation and headed out from his lab to the surface corridors, where he began the long jog.

    Raquel Thompson, a stern woman from the spaceport division, had the air of defeat about her as she made her way to the nursery. The complications there were just as bad, if not worse, than those nicks keeping the maintenance division on alert. She'd been raised working New Terran aerospace, and it threw her for a loop to be reassigned to infrastructure for an unspecified duration. At least she had the opportunity to pop in and greet her twins on the way to work, now.

    The events leading up to this morning kept her mind busy — especially the costs of the unexpected shuttle launch that threw away months of progress. She had tried talking her superior into keeping the program on watch so the shuttle could be received if its prototype relaunch capabilities worked miraculously, but evidently the council had other things in mind. The whole team was dismissed temporarily. They didn't even get the opportunity to figure out how it had guided itself without mission control on standby. But perhaps that was for the internal affairs division to find out.

    As she approached the nursery, the primary corridor for the medical ward opened out to her side. Dead ahead would be more youth and academic facilities and eventually the agricultural ward. Lots of bunks in that corridor; must be the smells of old Earth. She never really empathized, though she had to admit the agridomes were pleasant places to be around in contrast to all the dead sand and dark sky Eden had endured for decades.
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