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Virtual Insanity : A story about the Future

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Market Issues [10 Dec 2006|12:29am]

javeharron
Several weeks had passed since Williams’ trip to Mars. Meeting a few old friends was worth it, and the executive now sat back in his estate ruminating on events.

Helios, is it just me, or have certain servers online been more dangerous to us and the JASTS?

Well, a JAST was almost destroyed by a strange algorithm a while back. Similar to the strange attack that slowed down communication a few months ago.

Hmm. The plot thickens. How about the backup plans?

We’ve got a backup form that can fit all the JASTs and us if we need it. However, it’s floating around the asteroid belt now, and unless there’s a really bad emergency, we won’t have to use it.

I’ve also noticed something strange. Whenever we report server attacks to the WDMD, they either do nothing, or place in sleeper algorithms they can activate at anytime.

Well, that’s bureaucracy for you. If certain predictions were right, the age of nanotech industries would’ve meant the end of bloated bureaucracies as we knew them, and start of economic and political decentralization.

Well, we still might have potential to do it ourselves. However, to get the full effect we’ve deserved, we still have the same damn obstacles as normal: Distribution. In order to get the sort of decentralization we need, we need enough nano-factories shipped around the world so that enough people can use them rather than rely on traditional purchase of commodities.

Likewise, we need people to be familiar with a new economic system. Nanocapitalism can eliminate scarcity for the most part, but we still need to instruct enough people in the theory so that nanotech is used to its full extent.

Well, free copies of Murray Rothbard’s “What is the Government Doing with your Money?” have been available online for decades. Most people just don’t have interest in theoretical neo-Austrian economics.

Most people also don’t seem to care for the political state of the world. Some WDMD “terror suspects” seem to have done nothing wrong in their lives. It’s like the neocons all over again.

Or worse. Clarke seems like such a long time ago, but the public reaction is always the same. Voters trade freedom for security, loose interest, and all the meanwhile, the terrorists find some new hole in the system and commit more atrocities.

Compare surveillance technologies to economics for a second. The governments hold a monopoly on them. People unauthorized to hold devices like phone taps or sniffing programs are held as stalkers or hackers. In other words, the government doesn’t like competition.

And it’s gotten worse since Clarke. More government crackdowns and secrecy. Tell me, Helios, do you know David Brin?

Yeah. He’s an old sci-fi writer. Wrote political essays for a time.

One of his ideas was the “Transparent Society.” The idea was due to cheaper electronics, citizens should have the same access to those surveillance technologies as the government. Instead of clinging to the illusion of privacy or letting Big Brother in, make both government and society more open.

I do find the politics of that amusing. I very much doubt a Senator who passed a bill allowing increased government surveillance would like the idea that their finances and personal life could also be screened by anyone with a modem.

Yeah. Politicians could be held accountable for breaking the law. Stalkers could be counter-stalked and revealed to the police. Sounds better than the old climate of fear environment. Oh, and to think, this is now on an international level thanks to the WDMD. And world taxpayers’ money goes to fund this.

The WDMD has also been talking about regulating nanotech more strictly, since a certain public relations official said, “With nano-assemblers, any terrorist with the proper schematics can make an atomic bomb, or worse. WDMD monitoring of nanotech companies, such as Williams Biomedical, is necessary to prevent another Clarke.”

Well, they’re welcome to try. What many executives fail to get is public access to nanotech could weaken the powers of bloated, self-important bureaucracies around the world. With nanotech, people can become more self-sufficient. For energy, they can make their own solar panels. For materials, they can recycle trash in a disassembler. It’s the ultimate in recycling, after all.

Realistically, nanotech makes most consumer goods and retail chains obsolete. All one needs is a schematic for the assemblers to follow. Raw materials are not a hard thing to acquire. Due to the internet, schematics can be copied an infinite amount of times.

I do have a way of making sense of the system. Since people will maintain different interests, they will still have different professions. Favors exchanged between both parties would like be the system. A “currency” unit would be like Hayek’s idea. The informational equivalent of an hour’s design would be a good objective value. People control the amount of “currency” they mint.

Won’t that lead to inflation of worthless online currency and make all labor of equal worth?

No. If someone “mints” too much currency, they will suffer a loss of free time and bad credit rating. As for labor, I said “Informational Equivalent” of a commodity. A computer program taking three hours to write is worth three units of currency. The initial rates of exchange might be unstable, but they will stabilize over time. Markets normally do that. The problem, of course, is materializing entire system out of whole cloth, or else it will crash before it even gets off the ground. Another way to think of it is each individual is like a small corporation, trading out shares of their own stock.

How about unskilled laborers and laymen?

Online information will make education free, should one desire it. The JASTs and I have been working on an online college for some time now. It has yet to go public, of course, but it should ideally be accompanied by the system it was meant to support. Likewise, cheaper nanotech should allow transhumanist augmentations to become more widespread.

Yeah, but how about services like firefighters or police?

Those will be government-run. As historical Philadelphia shows, for instance, that free market fire departments often spend more time spraying each other with hoses to get to fires than putting them out. That is why we still need some sort of federal government. Complete anarcho-capitalism only works in theory.

Lots of systems do.

Well, I’m hoping to make this one work. Humans are innately selfish and greedy, so why not use it for the public good? As for the WDMD, they had better get back to their normal job, or else.

You think you can take them?

No, I’m more than able to use economic subversion. For instance, I can stop supplying them with technology, or I can use this nano-capitalist system to bypass them and make them irrelevant.

Sounds good to me.

I hope so. You’re the true AI here.
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Interlude - The Parable of the Sower [10 Oct 2006|01:56pm]

c81
Note: the following does not take palce at a specified time. In fact, this piece is most likely to have taken place outside the current flow of the story, preferably around about before the fall of Clarke. If anything, this piece is one out of a series that is focused on an individual character with this story. 

~

When one sees the Terabithia, one is inclined not to describe the ship, or give its layout readily. To begin with, when Josiah inherited the ship from his teacher, his main preoccupation was whether he could get the ship off the ground in the first place, and of the tens of rooms of accomodation on board, onl a few mattered to; mainly the bridge, the ISN port, the hatchway and the cargo hold. It was only after a year of touring around the ship did he actually map out the ship in its entirety. Not that he didn't have the blueprints of the ship to begin with; rather, Josiah was an unusual character, and was one who liked to do things on its own.

Its an eccentricity that he had inherited since young. Dudley, his best friend, cousin and a fellow eccentric, knew quite well about Josiah's peculiar habits. Popular as he was back in Olympus Mons, he was rather aloof and oblivious to everything that happened around him, not to mention that, in contrast to the virgin hands of Mr. Kinsbrick, Mr. Jameson would usually be caught with his pants down more often than not. Not that that was unusual, it was rather the fact that a man so eccentric as Josiah, with his obliviousness and absent-mindedness could get away with being both popular and suave that puzzled Mr. Kinsbrick who, despite his own charisma, wasn't as lucky.

Josiah would chuckle, and say its all down to how things play out. WHile he did acknowledge the possibility of an existence of an entity that we call 'luck', he also believed, partly, in the idea of a thing called 'will'. A power inherent in all beings, and would manifest itself in certain actions that seemed out of the norm. Indeed, while Josiah admitted himself to be rather lazy, he knew full well that there were times when he just had to take that effort to do something. Years of doing this had made him realize that even the most trying things, after a while, become reletaively easy for him. At the same time, his uniqueness was manifested in his love for experimenting; Dudley woudl notice that he took down his study notes in an unusual manner and that, even though he had a highpropensity to forget ideas in subjects outside his field, a quick glance at his notes, as opposed to hesitatingly referrignt o them half the time, helped refresh his memory in a jiffy.

And it was here, at the 'living room' of the Teb, that Josiah was, looking out into the window, staring at Gaia, strumming a guitar, humming to himself. Dudley was there, sitting at the dining table, revising one of the drafts of a work he intended to publish sooner or later... if he could get round to it.

Dudley took a quick glance, and eyed Josiah. Josiah had always been a mystery to him, as outlined above, but there were things about him he could not understand. While Josiah had his flaws, as he remembered full well during those University days, when the life of party seemed to interest him as much as academics, Josiah wasn't a mindless fool who got away by simply regurgitating everything that came to him on a blackboard and a screen. At the same time, he justs eemed adept at anything he could get his hands on. SUre, he's older now, and isn't as versatile as he once was, but his adaptability was something of a mythic ability.

To an extent, Josiah seemed almost... 'perfect'.

Why would he harbour this thought ? Dudley knew that he shouldn't entertain it. AFter all, his cousin was a complete arsehole, a selfish bugger who never really seemed to care for people, and this had brought misfortune to the both of them at many times, not to mention that Josiah's memory did fail him at certain times, and he had a penchant for a stubborness that defied logic.... 

But Josiah was just unusual. He wasn't some cad who tried to get his ideas and theories across no matter what, but rather, accepted any ideas that came by his way, and discerned what was interesting out of the lot. He was not interested in people who believed that "A is A", he was just as interested in the ARts as he was in the Sciences. The Arts had remained for him a mystery, and, although Dudley demonstrated an eye that Josiah could never really develop for literature, Josiah would still chuckle, thankful that there was at least one other person in the world who was there to helphim in somethign that was weaker in.

Josiah was endearing in this way. Utter cad as he was, he wasn't a person that anybody, save for a self-righteous pussilanimous twit would find repugnant, as he could pass off as a genial person in most situations.

~

The one thing that most people would ask Josiah was what he believed concerning the Gaia theory.

Dudley asked this question once. It was that very day, that very moment, when Josiah as strumming the guitar, and Dudley had decided to rest his eyes after consulting some Milton, which was to serve as a basis for his future text.

Josiah put aside the guitar for a while. He was still reclining by the window, with a cushioned edge just beside the glass, enough space for any resident to recline, and look out, into the murky depths. With his trademark move, he took his right hand, brought it to his mouth, mimicking a cigarette, and inhaled deeply, as if he were smoking a fictituous piece of tobacco.

"Dud, it's not so much what I believe in the Gaia theory, as in why I believe it."

"Well then, Josiah", said Dudley, "Why ?"

Josiah turned back, stared at the Earth, and answered.

"Because, the Earth is alive."

Dudley sniggered sarcastically.

"Alive ? What, as in the classical sense, a religious entity unto itself ?"

"You know I find it hard to believe in God these days, Dud."

"Yes, I know JJ..."

"But the Earth is alive. In almost every sense, literally, and spiritually.

If it were just a barren rock, then I;d suppose it'd be nothing special, but, this was something different about it. It was like as if it were a seed, and all the other planets were also that. Some were too far away to even  evelop, and some were too close, and were scorched, but, out of a huge probability, and with an everyday certainty of extinction, our planet managed to find itself at just the right place, during the right times, to grow and burgeon."

Dudley kept listening.

"And what if, out there, in the magnitude of space, there are other such worlds, and other such stars, numerous and edless as they are, with more planets than we do, and yet, out of a handful, only a few, a remote few, a few, very lucky 'seeds', that were allowed to grow and develop."

A silence grew, as Josiah finished.

Dudley kept watching Josiah. He lost his parents when he left the WDMD, both of them to cancer, but this hardly seemed to affect him. In some respct, it was an undermining of his character, another example of a man who should be more mindful of the people around him. And yet, as Dudley knew, unlike his own parents who kicked him out of their house, Josiah's parents, mindful of his achievements, even if little and within his own circle, would still be proud of him in some ways. Perfect ? Far from it. 

And yet...

Before picking his pencil again, Dudley added a few words.

"You know, there was something like that in the Bible."

"Hmm ?"

"Luke, Chapter 8. The first few verses."

"I don't read the Bible anymore."

"You should. Your theory is similar to that very parable."

Josiah chuckled, and picked his guitar again, going back to his music.

Dudley could only sigh, as he tried his hand at his work again.
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Chapter Nine [09 Oct 2006|06:43pm]

stormwell55
It had been a few weeks since Gervase and Yolanda had arrived on the Alamar, almost a month since they had left their old life on Earth. Things had been quiet apart from the aftermath of some shoot-out at a re-enactment of Mars, something which Yol herself had found out about on some obscure forum. It seemed some unseen force on the battle-carrier prevented the outside world from entering, something which had Yol somewhat worried.

Gervase was busy with his own problems, first trying to fit-in amongst the crew and secondly relearning formation flying from scratch. Yol could tell that Gervase was finding it hard, though at least he hadn’t touched the bottle since they had arrived onboard despite there being a fully stocked crewman’s bar. Gervase didn’t bother to say much about his day, not even about who he was supposedly working for. This left Yol feeling alone, though she preferred her own company.

She had been busy, managing to access the Alamar’s internal and external systems and even the ISN uplink. A quick scan of the logistic programmes revealed the vast stores of munitions, being a battle-carrier it didn’t surprise her. Though she couldn’t quite work out why they were headed for some remote French mining outpost in the Belt, nor why the Alamar was supposed to linking up with some heavy reinforcements on the way in…or so the frequent coded transmissions told her. She had found out that the reinforcements were a couple of Frigate class ships and oddly enough a troop carrier. What worried her most was the lack of transmissions between the Alamar and the French outpost they were headed for.

She decided to link with the ISN to see if she could found out some more info on the mining outpost and more importantly Gervase’s new employer, a certain Victor Wilheim.

~ ~ ~ ~

Yol found the uplink quite easy now that she had had some practice at it and of course she remembered to set up a series of firewalls to hide her trail and more importantly to give her a warning if somebody on the Alamar had noticed her. She found quite early, when she first became aware of her abilities, that she liked her alternate form, a being of energy that was almost her mind flying along the electronic pathways of the so-called ‘ISN network’. It was like being in another dimension, a dimension of electronic signals carrying information to and from parts unknown. The whole solar system was merely compressed into one server, or so it seemed as Yol jumped from one data stream to another as she travelled the main roadways.

However the first thing she did, once she figured out just what her abilities were, was to find about her parents. Unfortunately she hadn’t been able to find out much expect for a headline from some Russian regional newspaper, ‘BABY GIRL SATCHED FROM HOSPITAL’, which was dated ‘July 2079’. The date more or less matched the rough date she had worked out for when she was born, though there was a lack of further information. There was also a lack of records from or about the hospital and no reports whatsoever, not even from the regional police. It seemed that somebody made sure that there was no record of her existence.

She had more pressing matters to attend to.

Yol discovered early on the JATs, sentient beings almost like her, which appeared to be observers more than virtual guard dogs. They never seem to pay her any attention, though she was careful to mask her trail, but they didn’t seem at all bothered by her hitching a lift. She found them useful in a way, that if she trailed one long enough it led her eventually to a data rich server. Though she shuddered in her virtual form at the thought of the other ‘things’ she had encountered in her travels online.

Chloe.

Yol wasn’t sure what to make of this being, a strange being having the appearance of a schoolgirl. The name had been whispered frequently in the data streams, it even had the JATs spooked if such a thing was possible. Yol herself had had one encounter with ‘Chloe’, something which she didn’t want to experience anytime soon. It happened about a month or so ago, she had stumbled onto a data server which looked promising in revealing her past. No sooner than she logged onto the server there was something like a…disturbance.

Yol experienced something akin to a tap on her shoulder…a sensation which she didn’t expect possible. She turned round to see an entity with, for some strange reason, the appearance of a schoolgirl. The entity gave a slight smile, closed her eyes, and said, "Hello. My name is Chloe."

Then promptly vanished.

Before Yol could figure out what had had happened, she found her connection being terminated. The feedback sent her into shock for a few moments, but she was lucky it didn’t fry her brain. Since that time, Yol kept a weary eye on the data stream for when this ‘Chloe’ should reappear.

Suddenly she got a warning signal from one of her firewalls on the Alamar’s uplink, cursing she hastily dropped her mask and terminated her connection. She didn’t give a damn if the JAT she was trailing noticed her ‘blink’, she posed it no threat.

Least she hoped it also came to the same conclusion.

~ ~ ~ ~

It took her a moment or two to come to her senses after her emergency termination, before she connected into the ship’s system to see if she had been noticed. A stream of data, larger than she expected, flooded into her mind which took a while for her to process. When she did she found out that the ship’s defence systems and turrets had been brought online. The MiGs in both hanger bays were being prepped for launch whilst the klaxons throughout the ship sounded their alarm.

The Alamar was under attack.
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Chapter End - Dis-Trust [09 Oct 2006|12:32am]

c81
As much as Josiah was not in the room to overhear Anton's narration of the actual events that transpired during his last trip to the lunar city of Diana, he had definitely heard the words 'Venusian Mafia' come out from the piehole of the stowaway. Of course, Josiah reasoned to himself, the Venusian Mafia had many targets on their hitlist, so it wouldn't be surprising if this was one such person, and anyone could end up on their deathlist if you piss them off, no matter how high or low you were. But, this man..... why would the WDMD also be after him ? And, of all the ships he had to hitch a ride on.... why the Terabithia of all ships ? One though led to the other, and, out of the thousands of theories that came forth to Josiah's mind, a few hundred were plausible. And, out of the hundred, all shared one common consideration; Anton Miles was a danger.

As Miles Bell rose from his seat after concluding the narration, Josiah walked up to him.

"That was some interesting story you got there."

Miles Bell was alone now, save for Josiah, and Raghast. Terence had gone off to have another unlucky try at his studies, while the Colonel decided to retreat back to his room for a slight binge. Dudley, on the other hand, felt that it was time the fish was fed, humming to himself "So long, so long, and thanks, for all the fish...." Only Raghast was left, sitting with a blank look, though, with his hidden sense, he could make certain the danger of Josiah's presence to Miles Bell. However, Mr. Bell was oblivious to all this, and was taken in by Josiah's smile.

"I hoped you like it. By the way, the last one was all true; the trucker took me from Diana to Mars, then dropped me off at some platform."

"Oh really.... I take it you've been to Venus ?"

"Well.... yeah... went to the main capital of Eros Major a while back."

"Oh really ? Sounds interesting...."

A smile crept on Josiah's face, as he bared his teeth, showing off a rather genial emotion. Miles was taken in by this, and gave off a light laugh. Raghast, owever, gave off an emotion of worry. Josiah was giving off a slight weakness, and, for a man whose mind he found very hard to read for some reason or rather, he could sense a slight weakness here. Josiah was perspiring, indicating a slight anxiety. This perspiration allowed Raghast to peer slightly into Josiah's head, even if only for a short second, and somehow, gauge out what Josiah's next action would be.

It was certain.

Josiah wanted to do something bad.

Raghast had little time. He seldom did this, and as much as it took a great toll on his mind, he had to do it.

Miles continued to smile, until he felt a slight tinge of pain in his head. Clutching his head for a while, Josiah asked "What's wrong..."

"Noth-"

Miles could see it in his head.

~

Josiah was holding Miles by the collar, with a gun to his head. Miles was pinned to the wall, and Josiah's index finger was carefully placed on the trigger finger, even though mainly out of threat. As the imags flowed through his head, he could feel the perspiration n the image, even though it wasn't real. And yet, it did feel so genuine...

"Listen, you son of a bitch, what did you do to have the Venusian mafia on our asses ?"

Miles wanted to hesitate, even if a gun was pointed at him. He knew nothing.

~

"Let's just reason this out !"

As Miles blurted this, he was back in the real, with Josiah surprised at this reaction.

Miles slightly recoiled as Josiah came up to him. Josiah was puzzled by this, until he heard a small voice enter his head.

"Please don't hurt him."

Both men turned to the silent figure of a boy.

"Raghast, you have to stop doing that..."

"Look, Mr. Jameson, I will tell you everything about the Venusian mafia, and what I know, but please.... do not hurt me."

Josiah dusted off his coat. He hismelf never liked violence..... always dirtied his clothes. Then again, he was never one for civility, but it was already made certain that Mr. Bell was innocent in every respect. Raghast seemed to indicate that he was innocent, the Colonel had interrogated him, (though it was more of a tea drinking session), and even a lie detector (belonging to the Colonel) on-board the Teb revealed that, in every aspect, Miles Bellw as an ordinary fellow he did nothing wrong at all.

At least cocnerning Clarke.

"Fine, Mr. Bell. You have my promise. I won't do anything, provided you explain to me what you did."

As he said this, a call came in.

~

As the young Terence March reeled on the floor, trying to calm himself after hearing a rather rude and obscure joke from a man who apparently knew his mother, Josiah couldn't help but laugh at the scene. There was some kick out of making fun of an illegitimate child, as any man could pass of as his or her father, wicked as the statement was. Besides, Josiah did share a liking for George Lucas's classic, one of the few things that he had in common with Thomas Williams when they were younger. And still friends.

"Excuse, Mr. Jameson, but who is the man Terence is talking too ?"

Josiah felt a tap from behind. Tilting his head slightly, he saw that it was the hitch-hiker Miels Bell. Feelign somewhat tired, Josiah gave a ywan, ebfore answering Miles's question.

"It's Thomas Williams, head of the Williams Corporation."

"Thomas Williams ? THAT man ? Why is he calling you ?"

"Good question. I'd like to ask him myself. But, for a man who seems to know everything, it sure is interesting for him to ask us. I have a suspicion that he knows something."

"Eh ?"

"He must have got wind about the WDMD's latest announcement about you. I have no qualms that you didn't do it, and I'm sure he doesn't."

As Josiah said this, his mouth stopped, as he eyes glanced to the phone, and an idea came forth.

"Hmmm...... that bugger would like to know more about you. Tell you what, why don't you tell him everythign that you know about Clarke, first, before you tell me what you did with the Mafia."

~

Parker was slightly bemused with himself.

"Great. So a bunch of nuns grabbed us down to these sewers, and then, after giving us a piece of advice anyone would give, they fuck off."

"They said they had to go off."

"Yes, Parker, but that was a waste of time. i mean, why-"

As Parker said this, Firdaus whistled to both of them.

"Yo, you two.... I got something to show you."

Firdaus had moved from the side of the sewer, closer to the wall. Parker had already found descending to the sewer tunnels a displeasure, with the smell of waste of beneath him, and the growth of algae and god knows what else on the damp floor beneath him. The slime seemed to extend all the way to the walls, and the only thing that he, and Joel wanted to do, was get out. However, as soon as Firdaus said those words, he had pressed a button, covered slightly in slime. The sound of a metallic whir could be made certain.

~

Lilli was looking out into the sky. Raghast had been the only thing in her mind for the past few days, and nothing else could be amder certain.

However, ever since that ship left, becoming no more then a tiny dart, Lilli looked on and hoped, hoped that Raghast would return, and the two would be together once more.

That time, however was not now. And, as her mind could sense, there were other men, well prepared to take care of her until that time. They were there, already at the front door of the bulding she was in. There wasn't much time left.

Besides, this wasn't captivity. This was sanctuary, even if temporary.

~

"Sir, Lilli has been acquired."

"Bring her aboard the ship, and prepare for the operation. Hopefully, this will allow one safeguard before the real trouble starts."

~

Josiah was staring at the one man he hoped not to see again. The voice was undeniable, and the time was just quite wrong, yet it had happened, and there he was, Thomas Williams, before him. Josiah ahd to put up with this, putting on the air of nonchalance he had long practised and believed him, as he spoke with Thomas.

"Well, get ready for a long story, cos we've found him.

By the way, Thomas, why did you call the Terabithia ?"

"Why do you ask ?" asked Thomas, somewhat puzzled.

"I bet you know a hundred other ships in the vastness of space, and it just seems so unusual that you had to call my ship out of nowhere."

"With all due respect, Mr. Jameson, your ship was one of the few surviving ships we know of that survived Clarke."

'Yes, I know that-"

"And I happen to know that Terence March, penelope's son, is on that ship. Penelope was my friend, so, I just felt that it would be interesting if I actually got to converse with the son of my colleague."

A slight pang of guilt was in Josiah's head, as he slowly gulped down. Nevertheless, Josiah managed to retain his calm,a nd continued to talk.

"Well, anyway, about Miles-"

"Well, here's the thing, Tom - Anton Miles stowed away on my ship. I found him in the cargo hull, hiding in one of the crates."

"That's unusual... doesn't the Terabithia have any security systesms ?"

"It does, but I'm pretty sure Mr. Bell found a loophole somewhere on the ship. It's not surprising.... I've had assasins worm their way into the ship one way or the other, though I usually have them.... desposed of."

'Even so, you should invest in better protection."

"But, anyway, I found him hiding on my ship, and that's about it."

"And that's your long story ?"

"That's not even half of it- Mr. Bell, tell him the rest."

~

Mintaka was looking to the artificial sky of L5 with Lukan, as both watched the ships go by. Lukan was thinking of his wife, back on Earth, stuck in Little Lycan, Mintaka was thinkingo fht elife she once had, a long time ago, when she wasn't in the shell she was now inhabiting. The memories were fuzzy, but there was a life she had, before that red desert of Mars was made evident.

"Josiah will be coming back soon" said Lukan, looking to the sky.

"Josiah" murmured Mintaka, thinking of the man who brought her in aboard the ship.

~

As the Terabithia came within reach of L5, Josiah had managed to sit Miles before him. Josiah was on another chair, but had it reverse, and ahd his chest placed against the seat of the chair, with his arms clutching the back, in a posture typical of some interrogations.

"Alright, Mr. Miles Bell. While this ship is dockign at L5 on its own, i want to hear every last bit about what you did on Venus."

"And what about you ?"

"I have trouble with the Mafia, but not once did they mention me. But I'm pretty sure whatever that happened on Clarke had, even though indirectly, somethign to do with what you did on venus."

Miles sighed.

"I might as well tell you then."
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[08 Aug 2006|10:05pm]

lord_haku
The High Priest


The Cardinal flipped through his personal leather-bound edition of the Avignon Church's "Book of Sinners". Carefully, his bejwelled fingers ran along the cream vellum, his mind searching for the heretic in question.

"Fr Anton Krause..." He mused, quoting from the text. "A priest in the German Roman Catholic Church, famed for his tolerant yet stern dialogue with the Lutheran Churches...one of the first influential Catholic theologians to have advocated the positive effects of cyborg technologies. His works were banned under the 'Subversive Scientific Research' edict, released by Pope Godwin in 2043...however, Krause eventually decided to put himself up as a test subject, adding augmentations to his human frame...he is believed to have been influenced by the theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and the recent religious figures who have become part of transhumanist groups..."

Scowling at the words before him, the Cardinal disdainfully thudded the book closed, and had his servant take it back to the shelves. With an air of further annoyance, he motioned his hand over the cruciform on his desk, and his hologram emitter activated, projecting an image of his ally the Prince.

"I want your help, Richelieu." Began the recording, the Prince's face smug all the while. "France has become a potentially booming market for a mutual friend of ours, especially since that little girl offed herself from the top of your Cathedral. I need you to pull a few strings and free up one or two trading routes for him...after all, the French government can't really do much nowadays without your support. Mercutio needs acess to ports on the French Mediterranean, and a man of your influence could achieve this. And Our Lady also want you to increase your denunciations of Fr Anton Krause...make it the subject of your next sermon, or something. Men like Krause are becoming an increasingly dangerous threat to our road-map of dominion. I want his head, Cardinal...or By God, I'll have yours instead..."

Angrily, the Cardinal turned off the recording and scowled once again. This madman, this vile atheist of Mohameddan pagan stock was telling him what to do. But then again, without the Prince's influence and backing, not to mention his connections and plans, Richelieu would not even have clawed his way up Deacon, let alone a Priesthood. He'd have spent his existence ministering to the backward peasants, far from this palace of God personified...power, pure power.

He also despised the way that the Prince kept referring to his strange contact with the name of "Our Lady"...
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[28 Jul 2006|09:49pm]

lord_haku
Apologies for my lateness. This is something of a 'filler piece' before I move on to bigger fish, but it will contain a developable plotline

The Baron


Cane in hand, Mercutio strode down the sawdust-blanketed halls and byways of his New Orleans base of operations. Occasionally one of his scientists would raise their head from their computer terminal or microscope, take in the disturbingly powerful presence of this narcotics baron, and then return to their work. Flanked by one of his financial aides - a toadying little man called Bildenberg - Mercutio inspected his ranks for recent developments. Since the neat display of Mab's powers at the Second Battle of Olympus Mons, the more insatiable line of junkies had leapt onto the market, eager to sample an entirely immersive drug which could not only cause disregard for their own life - even the old school of chemical-based drugs could pull that off - but allowed them to feel the dangerous high of killing someone else. Almost ignored by his master, Bildenberg continued reeling details from his datapad.

"...we've had shipments dropped off in Saudi Arabia, and there are some clubs in New York which we've infiltrated. As expected, drug raids have been conducted in numerous lunar ports, seeing as the politicians would like to prevent anything along the lines of Olympus Mons happening again. Three of our peddlers were arrested in Beijing; however the recent growth in the Hong Kong sector has allowed us a new foothold in China, so the Asian market won't suffer any time soon. Also, Mr Mercutio sir, I must draw attention to the decreasing profit margin we've experienced in Federal American territories since Jerry Robinson has begun to claim our product as being somehow diabolically inspired...I don’t wish to alarm you sir, but..."

Mercutio raised a silencing hand.

"Worry not about our markets in the Federal area, Mr Bildenberg." He soothed. "I have had assurances from some business associates of mine that Robinson is merely paying lip-service to the usual special interest groups. After all, what sort of evangelist would he be if he condemned abortion, homosexuality, liberalism and secularism, and then didn't adopt a negative stance on narcotics?"

"As always sir, your explanations are most welcome. Now as for our French market, having received a blow at the hands of the equally vehement Cardinal, we..."

"Don't bother me with politics Bildenberg - I want to have some fun! What other delights have we planned at the moment, eh? I have some customer reports from certain ladies and gentlemen who were highly impressed with the 'Houri' strain. They would like to see similar drugs on the market, especially if we can further reinforce the level of reality..."

Bildenberg broke his stride, and led his lord across the wooden floor into another laboratory. Mercutio was surprised by the goings on - black cockerels in wooden cages, African tribal masks, varying snakes; obviously the developers were appealing to voodoo rituals for inspiration. Tapping the edge of one of the observation chambers, which housed an already deep-under “patient“, Bildenberg smiled at his master’s obviously interested reaction.

“This young fellow has agreed to be a test subject for Nimue.” Began the guide. “It’s a delightful new nano-strain which induces the addict into a sense of mutual appreciation; almost like love, really. However, with the first phase of the trip concluded, they experience something akin to a blissful paralysis, somewhere in between an orgasm and a heart attack.”

“Ah, like Merlin’s seduction and decline.” Nodded Mercutio. “I suppose that’s what brought the name on?”

“Indeed.” Smiled Bildenberg. “But what they don‘t know is that after enough trips, they will end up into a slow physical decline, and only a counter-strain of highly potent Mab will relieve them from it. Our marketing department came up with originally; it moves addicts from the beginner drugs into our more expensive range.”

“I want the first shipments to go to Europe.” Mused the baron. “I’ve contacts in London and Marseilles who can spread it into the nano-drug virgins. With this Nimue working for us, plus certain political ties, our annual revenue may double over the course of the next few years.”

He then slipped Bildenberg a piece of paper, and patted him on the shoulder.

“This is a request from my Arabian contact.” He mumbled, almost whispering to his career-minded assistant. “He wants us to look into the possibility of developing new…aggressive drugs. The Olympus Mons incident wasn’t exactly a big success for me, but my business associates like the idea of using nano-drugs to create unconscious soldiers. There is an internet contact I want you to get ahold of…his highness Il Principe says she’s an intelligent young woman with the beginning blueprints for the new developments…”

Mercutio patted Bildenberg on the shoulder, and wandered off to inspect his other investments. Standing alone amidst the clamour of scientists and test subjects, Bildenberg unfolded the paper and checked the name.
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News & Dreams [30 Jun 2006|04:06pm]

chainsword
[ mood | cheerful ]

It was a fun class. He stood there, in the back, very quiet, listening to what the instructor was saying. Not that he needed to knew anything about dog-fighting, be it in atmosphere or in space. What he really wanted was to know his instructor, Captain Mendez.

The class had ended and the students were talking with the instructor. He took advantage of Mendez distraction and planted a little box on her briefcase. It was a copy of the blackbox found in Clarke. They knew if someone could find something wrong with what was displayed, that someone was Paz Mendez.

After his delivery, he left the room. He needed to make another one, this one a little more difficult.

~

Raghast was sleeping again. But in his dreams there was a shadow trying to wake him up. This shadow warn him of a danger. And he did and in his front, right on top of him, was a transparent tentacle. He looked around and saw several tentacles, all connected to the other children sleeping there. And, what was worst, they all come from... Lili.

Raghast couldn't believe it! He managed to duck from his tentacle and looked to Lili. She was dreaming, more like having a nightmare. And near her head there was a shadow. He couldn't see who he or she was but somehow was controlling Lili's tentacles.

He tried to wake her but couldn't talk, in fact he couldn't even move. He manage to slip by the tentacles more because it seamed not to know where he was than by his own.

Then someone entered the room. That someone start arguing with the shadow and, as he/she did, the tentacles simply disappeared.

And... he awake. He was still at Terabithia, he had fall asleep.

~

He needed to do it right. He waited until she was alone in the house. He had to be sure that it was she who answer the door. He got to the door, put the package on the mat and press the bell. When she answer the door he was nowhere near to be seen. Only a small package was there, with a note saying “for Zoe, from a friend”

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Darth Schadenfreude [29 Jun 2006|12:46pm]

javeharron
Williams walked down the halls of Olympus Mons University’s massive School of Engineering. He saw none of the faces of professors he remembered, but considered why.
This is the Civil and Structural Engineering Department. Biomedical’s on the first floor.
Originally, Civil and Structural Engineering was on the first floor, meant to be symbolic of the fact it was the oldest “foundation” of modern engineering. However, demands for more lab space, as well as additions to the building, re-arranged the departments since Williams had studied there. Williams had a few things he owed, one of the reasons for his trip. He stopped by a few of his former classmates’ offices, who were now professors. He did have an errand to do in the Electrical Engineering Department, however.
An employee of his worked at the Olympus Mons University, the head of a joint project between Williams Biomedical and OMU. The plan was to construct several new types of concealable listening devices, hidden cameras, and other covert electronics. The WDMD had also invested a substantial amount into it. Williams had access to a few extra prototypes, which he planned to use as payment. After picking up a few devices, he mailed them directly to an address he and a contact for the Tugas had worked out beforehand.
So, that was how you worked out payment to the Tugas?
Yes. I figured they could use some new toys, so I sent some surveillance and spy devices they’d get a kick out of. Plus a special surprise. A weapon they might find useful.
Don’t the Tugas normally operate without use of lethal force?
They do. The weapons, however, are non-lethal ones. I sent them set of custom-made Magshockers.
That sounds useful. It’s designed to incapacitate a human with an electric shock, or work as an EMP type device on machines. It also makes a nice club. They draw bioelectricity from a human body, so they don’t run out of “ammo” very easily.
Exactly. What I customized, though, was I made them all out of polymer and advanced nanocircuitry. I also made them more compact. The idea was to create a smaller, easier to use one that doesn’t set off any metal detectors. They’re ideal for agents who prefer non-lethal means if they can’t avoid it. After all, sleeping guards attract less attention than ones with holes in their head.
True.
Speaking of the Tugas, did they find much on this “Jennifer” figure?</b>
A girl in France with that name died strangely slightly before the attack on the JASTs happened. The Tugas and JASTs both tried to trace the server, but both ended up pointing at the Confederates.
It’s always something.
They can’t pinpoint who directly, but we think Marduch, the Cardinal, and their cronies may also be directly or indirectly involved.
This conspiracy keeps getting better and better. How about the WDMD projects?
All on schedule. Our method of construction is saving a lot of time and labor-hours.
Building small parts and then combining them normally allows for smoother assembly than just trying to build it all at once.
That’s the basic premise of nano-fabrication, remember.
Yeah. How’s Paz and Tellos doing?
They’re playing Red Storm 1942 again before Paz starts a brief lecture here. Right now, she was shipped here to Mars to teach a bit on dogfighting at Olympos Mons’ military academy.
Ah, the alternative-history shooter game. The premise being that the Second World War was fought between fascism and democracy on one side, and communism on the other, rather than democracy and communism against fascism. Allied factions include British, German, American, Italian, and Chinese Republican forces. Communist factions are the Soviet Russians, French, Red Chinese, Spanish, and the Japanese Empire. Of course, here, the premise here is the Japanese, French, and Spanish had communist regimes installed in their countries, or at least ones who prostituted themselves to Soviet interests.
I normally prefer Chinese Republican forces. They’re not as well equipped, but have fast respawn times. Germans are great for maps with tanks on them.
So, from the server data, it seems Tellos and Paz are both on an Allied server, playing as American forces. Paz is a frontliner, while Tellos is an engineer. It’s a map of the Aleutian Islands, with a Japanese-Soviet naval force advancing towards an American garrison.
That’s “Battle of the Bering Sea,” one of my favorite scenarios.
You know, how about we join in? It’s about time for some game play testing, anyway.

What nation shall we be?
Russian, of course. Let’s see what Paz and Tellos can do together. I can tell this will be a fun battle.
With that, Williams attempted to fire up the game. Something had stopped him, though.
Hold on a sec.
Yeah?
More info from the Tugas. Remember our personal investigation of Clarke?
Yeah. Has there been a breakthrough?
They just supplied us a copy of the data from the black box from Clarke.
What did they find?
A single name. One “Miles Bell.” There’s no record of this individual being involved with any terrorist groups, or even extremist philosophies, before. The WDMD released a statement on him. His DNA was found in an incriminating place. Other than that, they haven’t released much. Oh, other than the fact he was last seen on L5, and may have possibly escaped.
There’s a lot of traffic around L5. There’s countless ships always docking there. Even more-so since they set up a makeshift shelter for Clarke refugees. Anyway, tell me more on Bell. Did he have any friends involved with terrorist groups? It’s not unknown for some suspects to be brought into a terrorist plot by friends.
Absolutely none. I have some suspicions on this case. The man has no motive, no means, nor expertise for this sort of attack. An attack on Clarke would require lots of planning, coordination between several agents, technical expertise to overcome mechanical fail-safes, and electronic expertise to enter the colony’s systems undetected. Nor does he know anyone who would have the means or motive for such an attack.
What if he was just a pawn in some larger plan, with someone else doing the planning?
If that’s the case, then more names would be found. The timing for this bit of information is also impeccable. The name of a seemingly random man suddenly turns up just when the public wants more progress on tracking down the terrorists.
So, think it was planted?
They found a nano-recorder black box with the name on it. To taper with something like that requires more processing power and technical skill than most terrorist groups have no hope of matching in their dreams.
Assuming that this is some new group, they sure went through a lot to frame Miles Bell. If it is authentic, you think that Miles Bell would be on some intelligence agency’s watch list?
Yes. The fact that, all of a sudden, a person with no possible means and no motivation is listed as a suspect worries me.
If it’s a new group, and it could very well be, then this might be Miles’ first action with them.
Yes, but remember no group officially took responsibility for Clarke. A few WDMD officials have noted doubt. Some USA, PRF, and EU officials are also unsure.
Hm. That is odd. Perhaps some new group, with technical skill, was responsible. They would destroy the colony, then alter the black box data, and frame Miles Bell for his part in the conspiracy. Seems fairly complicated and contrived, though.
Yes, but think of it this way. Marduch’s stock prices have jumped as well. New drugs are emerging even faster from South America since the massacre on Olympus Mons. The strange deaths of young women have effected the JASTs and our web access abilities negatively. The French suddenly are able to almost hit a prototype fighter of ours on a mission that almost no one was supposed to know about. And, to top it all off, the Cardinal and his whole rotten Anti-Papacy have been getting more ill-gotten money than before. The ILF almost mounted a biological attack on Russia. Not to mention, Marduch’s support for the American Confederates has never been more open. I think there’s a lot more going on here than a simple hunt for a suspected terrorist.
Strange things have been happening, true. There’s got to be something logical behind it. It’s no secret to us the Cardinal, Marduch, that drug lord, and the Confederates are in bed with each other. And they’re selling weapons to the ENC and the ILF. Is Miles Bell someone who perhaps was mind-controlled? There have been some cases where experimental mental implants could control someone to commit a crime, and then leave no memories it was committed. Then again, to fake data on a colonial-standard black box is something only an AI, master hacker, or uploaded mind could do.
A digital entity like this “Chloe,” who significantly slowed down JAST communications, could very easily do something like that. I think Chloe was just toying with us and warning us. The fact we traced her to Confederate servers leads me to think that unholy conspiracy has more abilities than we might’ve thought in the first place.
So now they’re using that power to frame a random innocent? And for what? To commit more terrorist attacks? That’s a sickening thought, to say the least. Daedalus, I want you to call up the Terabethia and ask if they have any information. Use one of our covert channels. We’re going to need call everyone we know.
Sure. Terence might not like helping. I’ve gotten through to Josiah.
Mind putting me through directly?

Williams heard Josiah’s voice. “Yes? This is CEO Williams himself?”
“Yes, Mister Jameson. Pardon the interruption, but some sources of mine have recently become suspicious over a certain suspect wanted by the WDMD,” Williams mentioned. “Have you happened to hear or find anything else about a man named Miles Bell? Oh, and is Terence around?”
“With Miles, it’s a long story. I’ll have to get back to you on, but Terence is around,” Josiah replied.
“Can you put me through? I have something important to tell him,” Williams asked.
“Sure,” Josiah replied. He vanished, and the annoyed face of Terence appeared. “What?” he grumbled.
“Terence, did you know your mother well?”
“What about her?!” Terence snapped.
“I met her a long time ago, before you were even born,” Williams continued. “She was my research assistant when I was at Olympus Mons. She was quite a nice woman, you know.”
“What are you getting at?!” Terence thundered, with an odd mix of anguish, fear, and anger across his face.
Williams altered the tone of his voice. He willed himself to sound deeper, and added a mechanical respirator sound in between breaths. Williams locked eyes with Terence on the video screen, and an evil grin crossed his face as he spoke. “TERENCE! I AM YOUR FATHER!” Williams exclaimed in his no voice.
The unfortunate man’s jaw dropped. “NO! Th-that can’t be! I-I…” Terence stuttered.
And with that, Williams doubled over laughing.
That was mean.

I guess Terence never had someone do such a convincing “Darth Vader” impression.
Either that, or he doesn’t appreciate that sort of schadenfreude.


Terence, however, was surprisingly still on. He was mumbling incoherently to himself when Williams added, “Terence, I was just kidding!”

The previously speechless man was none too amused. He almost closed the line when Josiah moved him out of the way. “Listen, we’re having some strange things going on up here. It’s a long story.”

“I have no problem with long stories,” Williams added.

“Then get ready for a long one,” Josiah said. “Since we’ve found the man himself.”

---

Paz stood in front of the classroom, as several Aerospace cadets watched her. She pointed to a projector screen behind her. Two computer generated models appeared on it, both of World War II era fighter planes. There was an American Corsair F4U and a Japanese Zero, both labeled.

“Now, since I’ve gone of the basics of atmospheric dog fighting, here’s a simulation I made,” the pilot explained. She pushed a button on a remote, and the animation started. The Zero trailed the Corsair, and was preparing to open fire on it. Paz started to explain as the animation followed. “Here, you might recognize the American plane here is at a distinct disadvantage. The Zero is more or less moving in for the kill,” she explained. “If the American pilot does nothing, here’s what happens.”

The Zero continued, leveled itself, and opened fire, shooting down the Corsair.

“However, let’s say we’ve got a more experienced American fighter pilot here,” Paz pushed another button, and the planes went back to their original places. This time, as the Zero struggled to lock onto the Corsair, the American plane turned up and over the Zero, turning upside-down before moving in behind the Zero. The Corsair, now above and behind the Japanese plane, opened fire.

“As you can see, there’s countless possibilities here. The Zero might have tried to circle back itself, bank to one side, and countless other things,” Paz explained. “With lots of planes in the air, the confusion further increases. Thanks to modern sensor technology, however, it’s a lot easier to detect targets and friendlies. However, causes of friendly fire still happen. Always look before you shoot. The targeting computer is not the mind of the aircraft. You are. Thus, your military will hold you responsible for any losses. Before we move on, any questions?”

A young man raised his hand in the back row. Paz looked towards him. The man started to speak. “Captain Mendez, why did you use World War II airplanes for your simulation? Why not some more recent history, like the Second Russian Civil War? And is that the Red Storm 1942 engine you used for that simulation?”

“Because recent history can get touchy with certain individuals,” she scanned the room once. “And because Second World War fighter planes always interested me. They had no radar lock-on or targeting computers. It was just skill, willpower, and devotion to them. The weapons and plane models might’ve changed, but the basics remain. And for you last question, yes, it was. I made those models myself for a more historically accurate World War II Pacific Theatre mod I made.”

A young woman looked up. “You play Red Storm 1942? Awesome! We should so play online sometime!” she chirped.

“That’s enough,” she waved her hands. “We’ll talk about games after class. Now, moving on, you probably know many nations operate space-planes, and various craft capable of both atmospheric flight and zero gravity flight. Atmospheric dog fighting has been refined since the First World War. Zero-g is something new. Now, we’ll go onto zero gravity dog-fighting.”

The image of the World War II planes changed to two high tech space-planes, a PRF Diwata drone-plane, and a larger ENC “Torque” MiG-57. Paz pushed another button, and the labels for both appeared. “There’s no sounds in space, save what you here over your radio or in your cockpit,” she explained. “Now, in space, the basics still hold, but there are some significant changes to take note of.”

The Diwata moved in behind the Torque, and opened fire. There was no sound as the rounds exited the barrel. The two craft when back to their original setup. The Diwata fired at the Torque from a longer range, this time causing more damage to it.

“Anyone care to mention why the Diwata caused more damage to the Torque at range?” Paz asked.

A female student raised her hand. Paz looked at her. “Gyrojet rounds. The Diwata was firing gyrojet rounds, or small rocket bullets. They continue to accelerate even after they leave the barrel, so they get more powerful at longer ranges,” the student replied.

“Very good,” Paz replied. “Now, do you know why gyrojet rounds are ideal in space, and even for aerospace vehicles in general?”
“Simple,” the female cadet said. “There is no recoil. In fact, in the atmosphere, there is “negative” recoil, since the round going off sucks in the oxygen from the air around, creating a vacuum and pulling the gun forward. In space, no recoil means you do not have to built in recoil-absorbers into a craft, and in the atmosphere, you have gravity’s pull to help accelerate the projectile’s descent velocity.”

“So, are you a mechanical or aerospace engineer?” Paz asked.

The female cadet nodded.

“Can you tell me why flying in space is extra dangerous when projectile rounds are used?” Paz added.

“If you’re in space when a bullet hits your cockpit, it depressurizes your cockpit and unless you have a spacesuit or vacuum-sealed ejection pod, you’re a goner,” she replied. “Most newer fighter models have space-capable ejection pods, though.”

“Excellent! This insightful student here mentioned most of the things I was going to say,” Paz mentioned. “There’s something else to note, however. Anyone know what the turning radius in space is if you have want to shake or face a pursuer?”

The female cadet made a ring with her thumb and forefinger, and said,

“Zero.”

“Exactly!” Paz mentioned. “Almost all modern fighter space-planes have rotating mini-thrusters mounted on their nose. In space, there’s no friction from the air, so you can use those mini-thrusters to turn fast and about face. Even remotely piloted and drone planes can be made to use these physics. Observe.”

She pushed a button on the remote. The animation started with the Torque pursuing the Diwata. The Torque moved in, and locked onto the Diwata from the rear. The Diwata, however, had its nose thrusters activate and it turned around to face the Torque. The Diwata opened fire, blasting the Torque face-to-face. The thing was, the Diwata continued to move at its previous velocity, albeit backwards.

“There’s the wonder of zero gravity.” Paz asked the class. “Any questions?”

The class, now speechless, began to clap. Internally, Paz wished Tellos was there to share it with her.
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The Travelling Man [26 Jun 2006|11:37pm]

bsgnome
An excerpt from the Vagabond International...

The Vagabond's Code
Pay back your debts to the bit.
The word of a Vagabond is irrevocable.
Who breaks the Code is scum.

--Everyman Jack

...

The Art of Hitch-Hiking

Often, the traveling man will find that he needs to get somewhere when he lacks an obvious means of transportation. In situations like this, it's best to, above all, remain calm and nonchalant. No one wants to help out a desperate man. Observe your surroundings, and consider your options: is there a fueling station, bar, or some restaurant nearby? If so, your best bet is to mosey on into said venue and scan the crowd. You're looking for a fellow, more on the jovial side, but not too drunk that he won't recognize you later on. He's your man. Such a character is almost always guaranteed to give you a lift, at least to the next docking platform.

However, circumstances won't always be so convenient. Perhaps there isn't any fueling station, bar, or what have you nearby. Or, perhaps, for one reason or another, your in a pinch, and you need to get gone fast. If this is the case, there is no shame in stowing away on a cruise liner, a freighter, or some random fellow's starship. If you need to do this, above all, avoid running into any member of the ship's crew, or even passengers, if at all possible. It is easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.

----------

So here I am on the Terabithia, Miles Bell thought to himself, Never heard of it. What's so special? Why am I safer here than out there, hitch-hiking my problems away like I've always done?

Miles had been led into the main quarters of the ship by Josiah, and had readily made himself comfortable in the sitting room, lounging across almost the entire expanse of a sofa, despite the questioning looks of the others. Josiah had called the rest of the crew into the room to meet the stowaway.

An interesting crew, these folks. Josiah Jameson, I'm sure of heard of him, some sort of planetologist apparently. This Dudley fellow and his uncle, the Colonel as he considered each of them he turned his gaze from one to the next, A Terence March, some random student, and then that kid, Ragamuffin, or whatever ...

"It's Raghast," the boy says.

Miles is caught off guard. "Wha- Well, yes, I knew that. Josiah introduced you already."

"You thought my name was Ragamuffin. It's Raghast."

"... Yes, ok." He's certainly a strange one. "Anyhow, I do hope you all don't mind my stowing away on your fine vessel. It really is rather decent of you."

"Hmph," Josiah grunts, "You might as well, we're already dragging those two along," he says, motioning towards Terence and Raghast.

"Yes, well, what with my being a fugitive ..."

"But you said you didn't do it," Terence broke in.

"Well of course I didn't, I'm nothing but a travelling man with next to no resources. Even if I had had a reason to indiscriminately kill millions of people, I certainly don't have the resources for it." Then suddenly adding, "Not, that I have a reason, mind you."

"We believe you. Just don't get in the way." Josiah says, before walking off, signalling that the introductions are over.

"A traveling man, you say," Dudley begins after Josiah vanishes behind a door, "You must have some interesting stories to tell."

"As a matter of fact ..." and with that, Miles begins narrating his most rehearsed tale. The same one he told in the bar.

----------

"What a tale, my boy. What a tale." "Incredible." "You didn't really do all that did you."

This last was from Raghast, "Well, of course I did. Do you take me for a liar?"

"I agree with Raghast," Terrence speaks up. "It certainly is a consistent and engaging story, but it can't all be true. I mean, aren't the Gibbous Vandals a Lunar Rock band? In fact, their biggest song is "New-moon Bleeder," and much of your story comes right out of the lyrics to that song."

"Ha. You caught me. I never expected to meet anyone else who knew about the Gibbous Vandals ..."

"He didn't make it all up though," Raghast explains, "he just exaggerated ... alot."

"Yes ... that's true."

"You really did have a run in with a Lunar gang. But you didn't know their name."

"Yes. Yes. Ok, fine ... fine. Here's the real story:

"So, there I am, in the fine city of Diana. Not at it's best these days, as anyone who's been there can tell you, but still a relatively decent place. I was just coming out of an apartment complex, after paying one of my friends a visit--and getting a few favours from him while I was there. So, I was coming out of this decently well-off complex, with nice new cloths (one of the favours), and these hooligans, one by one, fall in step behind me.

"Now, I know they're there. My first reaction, on a normal day, would have been to make a run for it. But I was sick of running. I had had an uncomfortable run-in with the Venusian Mafia just the other week, and I was not about to let this one go. Not these no-name Lunar thugs. So, I turn around to them. They all stop, and glare at me. Very intimidating, admittedly. I say this: 'Look, fellows, I'm just a traveling man. I have no money, or anything. I'm looking to hitch-hike my way to Mars. There's nothing you could get from me, so, if you don't mind, just bug off.'

"Well, they are none pleased by my little speech, and their leader, a fairly squat little man, somewhat on the chubby side, points his finger at me and snarls 'Y' wants'a bleed new-moon?' He actually did say this--it was merely convenient to tie in other lyrics from "New Moon Bleeder". I laugh at him. Not really my best idea. They're already mad. They all howl and start yammering amongst themselves. Then, the boss says 'Gedready, new-moon, we gon'a make y'a bleeda.'

"And so now I'm thinking to myself, ah hell, I did not need this. Naturally, I turn, and I sprint down the road as fast as I can't. About half a block down, there's another gang. A rival gang I take it, because, when they saw me running from this other gang, I was suddenly their best friend. Their leader, a lanky mohawked fellow, caught me, and gripping my arms in alliance, passed me off to one of his lackeys and told him 'Th'sman 'sour frien'. Taghim wher'e needs'a go.'

"So, these two gangs face off, and there's a bloody brawl. Of course, I was already being led away by lackey, who soon got me to a nearby fueling station. Gripping my arms as his boss had, he says 'Don'eva ledem thugs chas'y'agai'. Y' jusgall us. W' taghar'adem.' Of course, from that fueling station, I was easily able to hitch a ride to Mars.

"And that's the true story. Not nearly as exciting as my fabrication."

"Not at all," Dudley disagrees, "That's even more exciting."

"Eh, maybe," Miles shrugs, "I'd rather have myself kicking Chunbgut in the face."

----------

Rome, somewhere in the Vatican apartments.

Fr Anton Krause is delving into the ISN, finding everything he can about the Cardinal, especially reports regarding his going abouts days, weeks, months, and a year before the Clarke Incident. Looking for any and every clue as to how the Cardinal is connected to these recent events.
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Chapter 8 - Chance encounters [25 Jun 2006|10:29pm]

c81

CHAPTER 8

Miles Bell was now standing on another space platform.

Great, just great, thought he. Out of the frying pan, and into the fire. He had escaped one platform, only to reach another. Nevermind that this one was a church, accessible for most denominations, the fact remained that WDMD officials were hot on his trail, and, like al his other adventures, he was once again, dumped off.

But, this one was quite different.

~

“Thanks, madame, for the-”

“Shut up, you son of a bitch.”

Miles was slightly taken aback. The fear was creeping up on him again, as he felt that his rescuer could have been one of them.

“I’m sorry, I just-”

“Look, just shut the fuck up, and let me drive, okay ?”

Two hours then passed, as the woman crossed over a few continents in her shuttle until she reached a small orbital platform, with a few shuttles, and one or two ships docked on it. The shuttle slowly lowered itself onto the docking area of the platform. The woman then turned round from her driver’s seat to talk to Miles.

“Listen, Mr. Bell. Down here there is one ship you must look out for. You have one task, and only one task, and that is to stay on that ship. And don’t think you can run away…”

‘Why are you doing all this ?”

“It’s not just the WDMD that’s on to you. Others are. And, as of this moment, your only refuge is on this one ship, whose name I’m about to tell you now. Whatever happens up to you next is up to you.”

~

Miles could hear the ringing of the beel, as he looked round. The name of the ship rang clear, as the shuttle sped off, away from the platform.

Terabithia.

~

Joel’s head was slightly groggy.

“Where the hell am I…”

As he came to, he found Firdaus, and Parker, standing. Joel slowly got up, his heavy body trying to assess the surroundings. The area seemed to be a sewerage area of some sort, with pipes leading all the way. Joel’s eyes traced along the pipes…. Until he saw three women.

He instantly recognized who they were.

“The Blessed Trinity ? But, I thought you were-”

‘Dead ? It was smart move they made.”

“A pity that Brother Dominic had to not only pay the bribes, but allow computer generated footage to let people assume that we were dead at the hands of the Harlequins.”

“Brother Dominic did what he had to do, Sister. AT least he managed to escape, and we were fine.”

It was here that Parker chipped in.

“Yeah,a nd Firdaus was in on all this, and we didn’t know.”

‘Dei, brudder; they just turned up this year, before the tournament.”

‘Wait- that means you..”

The first sister, the leader of the trio, who answered Joel earlier, gave a reply.

“Parker, do you REALLY think that a business contract can me made overnight ? NKS was already losing money since last year, and Marduch was already interested in furthering his vile competition by getting himself into a larger market. Plus, he had the money, so al he had to do was buy what was a respectable and reputable martial tournament, and turn it into the massacre he wanted. All he had to do was make it inaccessible to the public eye, but available to anyone via pod cast.

Thing was, we were in on it for a while now.”

“We ? Who’s we ?”

“Us. The Vatican.”

“Wait, that means that you took part this year just to-”

“No, we’ve always been taking part in the competition, ever year. You’ve seen us before, and you know how we fight. We honour God, and we honour the art of stopping fights. However, Marduch and his cronies are just interested in furthering their agenda and their pockets.”

‘You shouldn’t be so harsh, Siter…”

“Oh, quiet Sister. I know what I’m talking about. And while I don’t believe in death, I hope Marduch gets locked up for every one of his dastardly deeds. It is aazing he hasn’t exposed the nanotech people yet, and the Tran humanists-”

“Wait, he knows all this ?”

Parker gave a questioning look to the elder nun.

“Marduch knows about this. He knows what Thomas Williams is. At the same time, he has his eyes on a few members of the Catholic Church. I’m surprised that Fr. Anton is still alive, what with the stigma going on with him and Avignon-”

The three started to have a quizzical look on their faces.

“Wait… what does Marduch have to do with Avignon ?”

“You really don’t know anything, do you ? The WDMD is not the only ones doing their investigations, the Church has its own agents, though minor. What bothers us is why factions of such differing ideologies are working together.”

“I assume you’re talking about the Prince, sista.”

“Yes, Firdaus. It is not only revolting, it is insane. Why would an Islmaic terrorist, a corrupt Catholic cardinal, and two White supremacists collaborate together ? Three of them hate coloured races, and this union seems all the more too unusual. And, if what they say about Mercutio is correct, then it is getting all the more ridiculous.”

“You’re saying it is all ridiculous, then, what else can it be ?”

“Let me tell you what WE think. The Cardinal may want to recreate the Papacy in Avignon, but he’s hardly the sort to be a madman. There’s no real point in trying to bring the papacy to Avignon, but I have a hunch that he’s in on all this. Mercutio also seems to be funded by the Cardinal and Marduch, but his operations were already well-funded even before this elaborate union. “

“So ? Whata re you getting at ?”

“I’m getting at this: something else, something bigger, and larger is controlling all these men. Some people think it’s Marduch, but I think that’s bullshit-”

‘Sister !”

‘Shut up. It’s bullcrap. Marduch doesn’t have the foresight to think up something big, let alone the demise of Clarke. When the massacre at Olympus Mons happened a few days back, some South Americans were found to be guilty of collaborating, but aside from Mercutio, all hands pointed to something bigger.”

Parker had enough of this.

“Fine. What ahs this got to do with us ?”

“I suggest you three be careful. We arranged to meet the three of you, now, before it’s too late. We’re going back to Rome, and see what we can do there. But be wanred; Marduch has his eyes on all of you, especially you, Sun Kwan Park.”

“SO, what about me ? I can just throw fire. Big deal.”

As the two sister continued to walk back, the third sister turned back, and said something to Sun.

“You’re real name’s not Sun Kwan Park, isn’t it ? Do you think we don’t know what you reallya re ? What runs through your blood ?”

Parker’s face was blank.

“And, what you were even before you were fighting in these tournaments ? Not everyone knows about your past, Parker, and the thing is, not even you do. Not even we.”

Joel was bothered.

“Look, he may have amnesia, but-”

“Pay attention to your dreams, Sun Kwan Park.”

And with that, she promptly left, to follow the others.

Firdaus was silent throughout all this. He finally spoke up.

“What were they talking about ? What is your past ?”

“I don’t know, Firdaus. I don’t really know.”

~

The Terabithia was leaving the platform, as Dudley, Raghast, Terence and the Colonel were returning from the Mass. As Josiah left the ship on autopilot, with L5 as it’s intended destination, Josiah walked out of the control room. He was walking, down the passageway, when he heard a distinct sound.

It was coming from the cargo area, and it was not very loud, but, for some odd reason, Josiah could hear it. Slowly, he made his way, down various stairways, and pass certain doors, he reached the main cargo hold of the Terabithia, a giant space, mostly empty because the expeditions of Jameson, which usually met the requirements of one, tow, or, at the most, eight people, were not the same as the ship’s maximum for twenty people.

And, with this, Josiah was able to make out that a figure was hiding in one of the crates. It was a light tapping, but, experience taught him before.

As he grabbed forth the man hiding inside the crate, he was quite surprised to see who it was that was hiding there.

“What the…. You’re…”

“Yes. Mr. Bell at your service, a man framed fro a crime he, sadly, didn’t commit.”

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TELEVISION [25 Jun 2006|08:49pm]

c81
 

TELEVISION

~

NEWSCASTER 1: It has been three months since the demise of the space station Clarke, and, as of this moment, families of the victims aboard the city, and of the town of Fragosus can be contented to know that proper funeral service will soon be available, as the remaining DNA of the victims found has been fully traced. The ashes of the victims will be placed in a wooden casket, where it will be burned before an audience of -

STATIC

Excel: HAIL ILLPALAZZO !

STATIC

NEWSCASTER 2: The WDMD is now looking for this man: Miles Bell, the latest addition to their most wanted list. Mr. Bell, believed to be a random hitch-hiker, is believed to be the sole remaining perpetrator of the fall of Clarke, and is still at large. The WDMD has issued a warning that anyone who sees Mr. Bell should inform the nearest authorities, as Miles Bell is believed to be armed and dangerous, with-

STATIC

Alba Meira: Were you the one who burned this city ?

Kyo: *stance ready for battle* Looks like I can’t run away, can I ?

Alba Meira: I’ll make you pay for this, punk.

STATIC

NEWSCASTER 3: Three days have passed since the massacre at Olympus Mons, and authorities are still tracking down the main culprits behind the incident. Although several South American members of the WDMD, working in the DSO have been suspected as being behind the incident, clues point to a larger organization that had planned the infiltration of the officer cadet school on Mars. However, it is not know who-

STATIC

Torg: -so you don’t have to worry about a clown in a cow suit ruining everything Of course, I’m talking about Riff.

Zoe: Maybe, maybe just this once, things will go my way.

STATIC

NEWSCASTER 4: Pope Xavier has issued another warning to the Cardinal of Avignon, asking him to step down from the government of AVignon, and from his duties as a man of clergy. The Cardinal, ex-communicated from the Church five years ago for preaching heresy and for undermining the current head of the Roman Catholic Church, has threatened to start another papacy of his own. This would make him the second Anti-Pope of the 21st century, the first being the Pope of Communist China shortly before the revolution-

STATIC

Magneto: You should listen to her, Charles !

STATIC

NEWSCASTER 5: Another suicide has been reported in the town of Singapore, making it the fifth this week in the island city. Authorities the world over are starting to figure out the root causes of the startling increase in suicides this year, with the suicide rate per week matching those during the Depression. Governments are staring to emphasize that distressing-

STATIC

Shinji: Why do the angels attack us ? I mean, aren’t they supposed to be good ?

Asuka: Well, they attacked first, didn’t they, stupid ?

STATIC

NARRATOR: Tonight on Marduch: KNOW YOUR DRUGS ! Today, we shall take a look at…

MAB !!!

Queen of fairies, and all-round evil, MAB is as bad as drugs can get. Watch out for it’s sister companions ! Tonight, we will take a look at Mab, it’s history, as well as other drugs like Accel, Golding and-

STATIC

NARRATOR: Since the Dawn of Time, Man has been curious-

STATIC

INTERVIEWER: And tonight, on Ideas, Ms. Braunn, from Rane-Braunn industries !

Ms. Braunn: Thank you, Mr. Lewis.

INTERVIEWER: So, Ms. Braunn-

STATIC

Seiji: WHY THE HELL DOES MY HAND HAVE…. TITS ?!!

No, why does my hand have a girl on it ?

Midori: Umm…. I’ve liked you, for quite a while now….

STATIC

NEWSCASTER 6 : Scientists are starting to pick up unusual readings on the ELF bands. Though this phenomenon is not unusual, it has been acknowledged such anomalies have never been at this rate as -

STATIC

Goldfingrer: I’ve been expecting you, Mr Bond !

STATIC

NEWSCASTER 7: A major cargo of jewellery has been hijacked, this time over the skies of Venus. Authorities have started to figure that the culprit behind this is none other then the Venusian Mafia. The Venusian Mafia, currently under Antonio is-

STATIC

ARAGORN: Then I shall die with them, Legolas !

STATIC

NEWSCASTER 8: Lieutenant General Grant, head of the WDMD in the USA, has this to say:

GENERAL GRANT: What we are looking at is a conspiracy of a sizeable proportion. Whoever targeted Olympus Mons was most likely to be behind what happed to Clarke. We’ve ruled out most terrorists, and a check on recent funding has ruled out most possible suspects, even Marduch. Whoever is behind all this knows we’re watching, and may be planning more.

These are dangerous times.

STATIC

~

As Josiah continued to switch the channels, Dudley grew tired of the noise.

“For God’s sake, Josiah; would you at least stick to one channel ?”

Josiah shrugged his soldiers, and continued pressing the buttons of the remote.

“Anyway, Josiah, we’ll be docking at a nearby space platform before we head down to L5. We’ll begoing to Church…. Not that’d you go anyway.”

Josiah had an expression of nonchalance. He then turned off the television.

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End of Chapter 7 - FRAMED [25 Jun 2006|07:39pm]

c81

Miles didn't know what to make of the mysterious figure that stood before him.

He was bald, wrapped in a lgiht brown cloak, and he was wearing an old pair of loafers. He walked quietly, and, rather suspiciously, confronted Miles Bell. Miles looked down, and met the man's two, gray eyes, staring at him, his quizzical look against his inquisitive look.

"Are you Miles Bell ?"

~

The two men continued to laugh, as they talked to each other, this time over a different dish of fish & chips.

"Well, Mr. Bell ? Did all of this really happen ?"

"It did."

Both men smiled and laughed. Earlier, the cloaked man asked Miles to tell him the same tale that he narrated at the diner earlier, and, while Miles felt suspicious at first, got invovled in his own act, and upon winning the heart of the man, was now sitting over a meal of fish & chips.

"I have to hand it to you, Mr. Bells, that's one hell of a story."

"It sure is - helps keep me going."

'Hell, Miles, you should be writing for the Almanac."

Miles was a bit puzzled.

"The what ?"

"The Globetrotter's Almanac to the Globes. It's a publication that they just started recently."

'Oh ?"

"I guess you've been stuck on this platform for a while. It's a new thing, and they've been getting hitch-hikers, writers, hobos, the lot, all to write for the electronic book. Where an encyclopedia and a travel guide could give you boring details of a palce, the Alamanc would give you tales and what-to-dos... a story like that would make you famous !"

"Well, even if it did, I wouldn't be if I was stuck down here. I mean, news hardly happens, aside from what they show on the TV around here."

"Oh, so you do know about the news."

Miles, smiling, nodded his head, still thinking about the story he told earlier.

"So, I'm sure you know about Clarke ?"

"Big city fell from the sky, a million lives died, yet I was too far away to do anything about it."

As he said this, the cloaked man smiled, as he rest his arms on the table.

"That's real funny...."

"Yeah, it is..... such a tragic event happened at the very moment when I was watching the telly-"

"'Cos I'm afraid I'm goign to have to arrest you."

~

A look of grim seriousness crept on Mr. Bell's face.

"What ?"

"I'm sure you know what black boxes are, don't you ?"

'Well, every plane, bota and spaceship these days needs one..."

"Yeah, and so do space stations.

Now, here's the thing about Clarke. There were two explosions. The first was a minor one; it just caused some turbulence, and took place mainly in the bowels of the city. A bit serious, but nothing that a bit of evacuation and a proper clean-up couldn't handle. But the second explosion... wow ! That killed a thousand thousand people ! So many lives lost in one big boom ! 

Miles Bell was starting to worry, as the cloaked man continued to talk in a mocking tone.

"And, that's not counting the town of Fragosus: when Clarke fell, it fell to Earth, becoming one big ball of debris. At least a few thousand people lived in that town, and few of them would know about a giant space station falling on their heads. And, even though Clarke did blow up in one big boom, it was still a big, burning fireball. In fact, despite the intensity of the second blast, the outer walls of the station were coated with enough super-tensile strength material to withstand a nuclear explosion,as well as re-entry into Earth's atmosphere. As such, we're talking about a ball that didn't properly disintegrate when entering Earth, and thus, gathered a lot of impact when it fell all the way down to Earth.

But, as with everything, miracles always happen. And, in this case, despite all the death, and all the damaged, there was one miracle. Clarke had one black box, and it was one that was found only recently, amongst all the debris, after search teams tried uncovering the mess all over the place. It's surprsiing that, where the WDMD and Thomas WIlliams couldn't find anything, a bunch of explorers could. But, anyway, they found a safe, made of the strongest known alloy to Man as of this time.

And do you know what was in that safe ?"

Miles shook his head, slowly.

"They found a nanotech capsule, about as large as a drinking tumbler. And, within all those nanites was information about what went on in a certain egnineering crew, and what was attached to the city just before all that shit happened."

Miles continued to listen intently, and fearfully, as the man continued.

"And you know waht they found ? A space trucker, the sort that delivers goods between the worlds, happened to ahve moved at an incredibly fast speed, before docking itself at Clarke.

And here's the thing. Though you weren't on that truck, your DNA was."

Miles was perplexed.

'What has all this got to do with me ?"

" Well, let's put it this way: a mastermind can orchestrate an event, but not necessarily be present when his minions carry it out.

It just so happened to be that your last hitch-hiking trip was on the SAME space truck that dumped you off at this diner."

Miles Bell slowly recoiled bakc at his seat, as the man, with his gray eyes, and smiling, but glaring, face, read out the lines he was keeping to himself.

"WDMD."

He said this, reaching for his pocket, and showing his badge, the unmistakble sword on the Earth surrounded by a gear against a shield. The badge was official.A nd, the man was continuing with the lines that he long wanted to say.

"Miles Bell, you are under arrest for planning and carrying out the destruction of the space station Clarke, Man's first city in space. You are responsible for equipping it's perpetrators, and, as such, responsible for the million plus deaths that resulted from your actions. You have the right to remain si-"

"I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING !!"

As he said this, eyes were all over the diner, as they stared at the two men.

"Come down, Mr. Bells. Just come, follow me, where we can find out why you -"

"I didn't do, damn it ! That space truck, it just dumped me..."

"It was a decoy, and they were willing to -"

"I DON'T BELIEVE THIS !!"

As he said this, Miles jumped onto his seat, and, in a poorly instinctual move, jumped, right out of the window, breaking the glas, as he rushed headlong into the open of the space platform. Bits of glass started to fly everywhere in the reduced gravity, as Miles continued to run in the minimal atmosphere that the platform had. Surrounded by a glass dome with only a small opening, Miles knew he had to escape, even if there was no visible sign-

"Miles, over here !"

As he said this, a woman called out to him, speakign from her own private shuttle.

Knowing full well that he could be walking into a death trap, Miles ran straight for the shuttle, hoping to God that he wouldn't die, whether he be caught, or not.


~

"STOP ! POLICE !!"

As he said this, a commotion grew amongst the diner, as the detective jumped straight out of the windown, and ran towards Miles.

As he did this, he realised that Miles Bell had managed to get himself into someone's shuttle, and that shuttle had been waiting for him, thus confirming his deepest suspicions about Mr Bell. The detective grinned, as he stared into deep space, and slowly, at the fugitive shuttle.

"You can run, Miles, but you can't hide."

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[25 Jun 2006|07:39pm]

c81
The Running Men were walking back to their rooms. All the fighters taking part in Marduch’s “Brutality Bloodsport” stayed in the bunks they onced used to stay when the tournament was formerly “Battle Royal”. However, there were visible changes, the least being armed security all over the building, all paid for by Marduch’s propaganda earnings. The joy and laughter of pugilists talking and laughing before a coming bout, between themselves, or against others, was now gone, as all fighters were forced to stay in their rooms, with the number of each veteran fighter dwindling. Even the old coffeeshop at the apartment was removed, abandoned, a reminder that Amrduch was willing to make an example out of the races he disliked.

However, he Running Men had put up with thos for two months now. To them, the outside world hardly mattered, and for the moment, only what happened, in the now, within their space, mattered.

"That last battle was intense."

"Yeah, definitely. I'm amazed that I still got my limbs."

"I'm amazed that you started singing Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise"

"Yo, brutha, you gotta feel the vibes in you. Been spending most of our lives livin' in a gangsta's paradise...."

"Ah, shut up and wank off somewhere."

Parker said this, as he kicked open the bunk door with his leg,. Just as he did this, three figures cloaked in brown appeared in front of them.

"What the fuck-"

Just as he said that, the first figure asked them a question.

"Are you the Running Men ?"

Parker wanted to answer rudely to this rather dumb question.

"Then who the fuck else could we be ?"

Just as he said that, the third cloaked figure, standing the furthest at the back, dashed forth, and confronted Joel.

"Hey... watch it-"

Within moments, Joel fell to the floor passed out. Firdaus was ready to strike, but, before he could even move his legs, the second figure, closest to the door, grabbed his legs, then had him locked in a manouever not too uncommon in commando sambo.

“Alamak !” was the last thing Firdaus said before he passed out.

Parker had enough of this. Feeling the flames erupt from his figures, he was about throw them, when the most unimaginable happened right before his very eyes. A spray of white foam leapt onto his body, and put out the fire. Before he could do anything else, he was caught by the arms.

"I'm sorry we have to do this."

The voice that spoke behind him was clearly feminine.

"Listen, bitch, chlorophyll, foam, or whatever shit ain't gonna bring me down; I can easily snap your two arms and burn you alive-"

"And you listen, Sun Kwan Park- your life is of great danger even before you joined this year's tournament ! I'm in no position to threaten your teammates, but my concern is you. If you at least let me take you and your men somewhere-"

"For what ?"

"We don't have much time- the walls have ears. Just follow us, quietly."

As she said this, the cloaked figure removed her arms from Parker, who had his arms ready to move in case the woman did something particularly stupid. However, she didn’t. Instead, she moved past the cramp living room, and into the sleeping quarters of the three. There, with Parker, the two unconscious Running men, and the other cloaked figures, she got down on the floor, and went beneath Fridaus's bunk bed. Firdaus always slept alone, seperate from the two, who shared one bunkbed.

"Hey, that's Razak's bed...."

As she did this, she revealed a hole in the cheap upholstery that covered the floor. Parker couldn’t see it, but he could hear the sound of a metal door opening.

"What the....."

"Questions later."

~

The crew for the Terabithia were about to leave.

It was a terrible day, the day after the tragedy. The lives lost were enough to irk even Josiah, a man who, he felt, was primarily responsible for that which happened. Although he tried not to care, the fact remained that someone did try to kill him down there, and, in the process, caused the death of a number of young people.

"It's not your fault, James."

"Dudley's right. That bagman already infected the cadets even before the event started. He was more interested in trapping you in the corner, then pouncing on you like a cat !"

"Listen, Colonel, as much as I can content myself with that fact, the fact remains that none of us is safe. As long as we are targeted, everyone around us, wherever we go, is bound to suffer the consequences. I'm surprised the reporters haven't come looking for me."

As he said this, Tellus came and met up with the trio.

"That's because we had to bribe them."

"Tellus..."

"Look, Josiah, while I agree that there will be innocent victims, none of this is your fault."

"Yeah, I'm not going to let it bother-"

"But that doesn't mean you can just let is slide so easily. Dudley and the Colonel may be in on this with you, but the young boy Terence isn-"

"Terence ? How did you know about Terence ?"

Tellus felt that he had to answer Dudley's question.

"I met the boy earlier. He was walking around the History department, just after the incident, and he was accompanied with a lad called Rag-"

"Enough, Tellus."

Tellus was surprised by Josiah's sudden reaction. He, nonetheless, continued.

"Anyway, the boy knew about the incident only recently. He was worried about you all, mainly you, Josiah, but he's thankful nothing happened. But I'm surprised that you have two civilians aboard your ship, aside from the Lukan."

"Look, Raghast and Terence are guests with no home. As much as I'd like to give them one, those parasites can-"

"I wouldn't think that your guests would be parasi-"

"Listen, Tellus... you may be a Captain, now, in the WDMD, and I may still be a Lieutenant, having left 13 years ago, but I'm still older than you by 5 years."

"Perhaps, but we don't go by age, or rank around here."

'Well, anyway, my business is my business. You have your job to do, I have mine. If a bunch of spastic people want to hang on to my ship, fine, but I'm willing to kick them out if they are no more then pests."

Tellus sighed, as he tried to prevent showing a grudgeful look to his one-time senior.

"Fine then, Josiah, I'll be off.

By the way, sir, keep me updated when you find anything."

"I sure will, Tellus ol' boy," said the Colonel, trying to grin, though knowing it was the wrong time to do so.

"Josiah, what was that about ? He's got nothing to do with the JASTs, let alone Thomas Williams, and you go treat him like some outsider ? What is wrong with you ?"

"I don't care. I care about nothing."

"You never did. You're a real bastard, James."

"Say whatever you want. I'm going off."

And with that mutter, James walked off, towards the Terabithia. Dudley wanted to pursue him, but his uncle, stopped him.

"Let him be, nephew. Josiah has always been like this. What's more important is that we get Terence and Raghast..."

"We're here."

Dudley turned round, and saw both Terence and Raghast. He was especially relieved to see that Terence was safe.

"An army fellow by the name of Tellus told us that you would be here."

"Well, lad, we are. But, we can't leave yet."

"Well, why not ?"

As he said this, Raghast, staring at the Terabithia, made an observation.

"Josiah needs time."

"Two hours, top, boys ! Let's get some tea while we're at it."

"I concur, uncle. I need to e-mail Lukan. We will be going back to L5 , we must as well let him and Mintaka know. Let's stopover at the Internet cafe there."

As they said this, Terence and Raghast took one good look at the Terabithia, and spared a thought for Josiah, before they followed the other two elders.

~

Tellsu was already a fair distance away from them. The behaviour of Josiah bothered him, just what was with old man Jameson lately ? He knew Josiah had touble with authority as far back as the days when he was his superior in the WDMD, but that was far back. Josiah wasn’t all that bad; he wasn’t fired form the WDMD, but he only joined for a 5 year contract, as a means for gaining experience. After that, he began his work proper as an enviromentalist.

There was also this incident at the moment. He was wondering where Paz would be at the moment. Even if he didn’t know, he knew that she would have already known about this massacre, and would be calling him sooner or later. She was becoming more annoying these days, but in rather endearing way, as compared to her more sickening attitude to him before.

Then again, he didn't want to care; there were more pressing things in the world. A bribe was paid to keep Josiah and his Terabithia free, but he couldn’t do this forever. People would know. They would eventually know. And, if Tellus didn’t find out what was the root of all this insanity, then the surreal would become a nightmare.
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[24 Jun 2006|10:46am]

c81
[ mood | Who is Newmov ? ]

The atmosphere is clean, and crisp. The room that is presented before the audience is one of complete formality, where not a single stone was left unturned. Or, aside from that, that even stones weren’t allowed in this room. A table was set aside, with two, fresh cups of porcelane, filled with coffee brewed not too long ago, and poured a minute just before the event. The table itself was not some cheap wooden table, but an elegant glass table with wooden legs, each leg carved with elaborate art, and the glass itself fashioned in an irregular, but visually pleasing shape. Two normal wooden chairs, though expensive, and well-cushioned, face each other. By the side of these two cameras, a large green wall, and on the other side the basic necessities of a television recording crew. Though the technology is now advanced, with only one camera, one set of lighting and less men needed, cameramen, as they have always been, are the necessary unsung heroes in the production of television.

I a moment, two men step in, the INTERVIEWER, and the interviewee, PROF. NEWMOV.

They sit at the table, the camera starts rolling, and the interview begins.

INTERVIEWER: Welcome back to the show ! In case you’ve just tuned in, by name’s Clark Lewis, and you are watching “Ideas”, the programme where ideas in this present day and time are changing the world as we speak.

Today, in our studio, we have one of the greatest and most important personalities in our time, this 21st century. This man had survived the second Communist revolution, and escaped to America, where he lived for as an adolescent, before travelling to Oxford, where he studied as a tween. Shortly afterwards, he returned to America to teach, and finally, chose to live in Space when the Space Elevator in Australia was finally complete. Shortly after the Fashoda II crisis, based upon his own desire for a safe haven for academics and intellectuals alike, he convinced the UN to help him build what we now consider the greatest institute in education; gentlemen, if you please ! Prof. John Newmov !!

AUDIENCE: *claps* (note that an actual audience need not be included in the scene, and the sound can be substituted with that from a recording. However, a real audience is desired to amplify the importance of this interview)

JOHN NEWMOV: Thank you, Mr. Lewis. I find it a great pleasure to be here.

INTERVIEWER: Not so great a pleasure as to have YOU down here, in our very studio ! I mean, founder of the greatest institute in known Humanity, and the stuff that legends are made off, it’s enough to ask why you did it !

JOHN NEWMOV: Greatest, eh ? I hardly think it is. For me, the greatest was Oxbridge and Harvard, which, as you know, was both transported to my university, though some of their more native colleges, primarily those of English literature and American literature (respectively) stick to their own homes (and those are their best bits). And that’s not forgetting the hundreds of new universities in the Germanic region of the newly formed United States of Europe. I tell you, that Mazzini chap is clever…. I hope the EU succeeds once and for all.

INTERVIEWER: And yes, speaking of EU…. You yourself was born during the Second Communist Revolution. I’m sure those times are hard, and impacted you greatly.

JOHN NEWMOV: Were they ? I can hardly even remember them !

AUDIENCE: *light laughter*

JOHN NEWMOV: But, what I do remember, were the essential bits.

INTERVIEWER: The cruel fist of totalitarian rule ?

JOHN NEWMOV: I think people take Communism a bit to harsh these days. I don’t blame them; they have an ideology that is adverse to mutual existence - wanting to convert the world, imagine that ! - as well as a system that begins with a dictatorship, as opposed to democracy, I can’t see who wouldn’t be frightened ! But, ultimately, people were too hard on Communism, or at least that’s what I think. If anything Communism is important to me.

INTERVIEWER: That’s an ironic statement, coming from someone as freedom-loving as you.

JOHN NEWMOV: Do not forget that, within my university, Communists exists, though these are peace-loving intellectuals who have ideas, and live their lives debating with other intellectuals, and furthering their ideas by trying to think new things.

If anything, what bothers me is the stigma most people give to Communists; I imagine that the natura impression of Russia is never as a country, but always as some overbearing force that just can‘t fit in the world. I cannot forget the one time there was this cartoon of a huge old female peasant, made to represent Russia, that was holding an old military uniform, and was trying to put on a business suit; the cartoon was trying to make it suggest that Russia was not suited to anything but being just a poor country !

But, to get to point; the Second Communist Revolution was a challenge.

INTERVIEWER: A challenge ? In what way ?

JOHN NEWMOV: Well, *cough*, at the end of the 20th century, a book came out by Francis Fukuyama, just after the fall of the Berlin Wall that stated that, with the supposed death of Communism, ‘History had ended’ !

INTERVIEWER: History ended ? Why, that’s blasphemy ! What of September the 11th ? What about Williams the Space Whale ? Or the Second Communist Revolution ? Or the rapid advancement into space ?!!

JOHN NEWMOV: You must understand…. Fukuyama was speaking in a Hegelian point of view. But I’ll get to that later. Suffice to say was that Fukuyama believed the democracy was now the only road left to Truth, which was challenged by the Communists. Even Vladimir Putin -

INTERVIEWER: Just to cut short, for a while, Putin started the thing, didn’t he ?

JOHN NEW MOV: No he didn’t. It’s a fabrication, but with an ounce of truth to it. Putin was responsible for starting the Revolution AFTER his death.

As I was going to say, just before his death, one of his last speeches - not sure which one, I have to check my notes, as it was before I was born - made a reference to Lenin. I remember the quote quite well:'It is impossible completely to read Marx, without reading Hegel. In fact, two centuries later, Marxists don't know Marx !"

Lenin was not some run-of-the-mill revolutionary who wanted revenge for the death of his brother, Sasha, at the hand of Tsarist forces, nor was he a mindless killer who subjected people to totalitarian rules. Rather, Lenin was thinker and leader; more the former then the latter, but he was a visionary. He was not only a thinker, and an actor, as shown in his great athletic ability. And the fact remains that, though he was a revolutionary first, he was also a philosopher. And, this, interestingly, was what Putin was…. Though he did it such that he arranged the revolution to take place after his death. Then again, that’s just a conspiracy theory; we’ll never know if Putin was truly a Communist, or if he just admired Lenin

INTERVIEWER: That reminds me; how DID you leave Russia ?

 

JOHN NEWMOV: It’s a funny story, really……. It was my parents who were escaping the country, and I was arranged to live with my own relatives. One would think that y parents were harsh, but they did it out of their own safety; they wouldn’t know if they could support themselves, let alone me, in an outside environment, on such low funds. Ironically, however, I managed to stowaway on the very ship they were taking (cheap cruises, as you know, were increasingly popular as an alternative to aircraft flights earlier this century), and eventually, I reached America, with my own family. It was a real risk.

INTERVIEWER: And a risk worth taking ! Look at you now !

JOHN NEWMOV: Maybe so, but my father was worried at the time. Had he not succeeded in getting a job in a school, I would not have made it at all. I thank God for the support my parents gave me all this years, till their last days.

INTERVIEWER: Your times in America, your days in school, what were they like ?

JOHN NEWMOV: Boring, really. I could tell anyone about my adolescence; it was nonchalant. Alright, that’s a lie: they were not my best years. I did far better when I left. What I do remember, however, was that I was far smarter when I was older than when I was a teen: I think anyone who tries to treat adolescents like adults is greatly mistaken. After all, I was one big bum !

If anything, it wasn’t until I reached Oxbridge that my ideas just started changing.

INTERVIEWER: Tell us of your times in Oxford and Cambridge.

JOHN NEWMOV: I’m sure the audience is familiar with my younger brother, born in America, Mikhail Newmov. He’s a Communist, too, but he’s also a devout orthodox Christian, and a stalwart defender of democracy and communism.

You see, my brother believes that Communism can only be achieved, if the revolution towards it aims first, not for a dictatorship, but for a democracy, with an economy that’s still planned, but at the same time, allowed to mingle with the free market. And, if anything, the introduction of a religion that tries to elevate Humanity, as seen in the examples of the National Convention, and Comte, is flawed . Just read William Golding to confirm this.

INTERVIEWER: I trust that you met people like this in your university days ?

JOHN NEWMOV: Actually before then; even in High School, I was familiar with particularly eccentric, but incredibly bright people; people who may never become as famous as, say, Kant, but had ideas that could last for ages.

And, yes, I met those kinds of people in university. Even when I went to Harvrad to continue teaching, the individuals I met were the sort that you just don’t get anywhere.

INTERVIEWER: Truly profound; and that’s why you builty Olmpus Mons ?

JOHN NEWMOV: In truth, the real credit has to go to a friend I made in Harvard. He was a Greek, born in America, and he went by the name of Conchis, though that was really his nickname. He was a really interesting individual, deeply interested in post humanism, as opposed to everyone else on the campus ! Despite our differences, we got along quite well, and one day, when I told him about my dream for the ultimate university, he said: why not make it happen ? So, I did.

INTERVIEWER: And I wonder…. Why Olympus Mons ? The Americans and the French were fighting for that site.

JOHN NEWMOV: Mt. Olympus, in Old Greece, was the Home of the Gods. It was not the Highest mountain, but, to them it was, and it was fitting to make it the home of the Gods. Here, we have the Highest Mountain in our system, and we consecrate one idea here: Education. It is not a God, but it is, in and of itself, divine.

The bickering between the French and the Americans was just that; bickering. The Americans can go ahead and talk about how they ‘won’ the mountain, while the French can go ahead and call them bastards. In fact, I think the battle at the site, being re-enacted ever year is pointless, though the WDMD think it’s essential, as it was the only battle ever done in space suits, so I let them be.

INTERVIEWER: And your university excels, even up till now, I mean, where did you get all the funding for all this

JOHN NEWMOV: It was a worldwide effort, and I had a bit of spare cash. The university is still young, and only the second batch of graduates are coming out, but, from what I see, it’s going good. Plus, the icnome generated from the ‘University town’ is enough to keep the place going for a few more years.

INTERVIEWER: Before you go on about the university, earlier, you mentioned something about a fellow called Hegel, another person called Fukuyama, and the end of History, why did you say all this ?

JOHN NEWMOV: Well, Fukuyama was trying to imply that, with the fall of Communism, history ended, as the road to Absolute Truth was made clear. Hegel, as you know, was trying to make clear Kant’s impression that Absolute Freedom, and Absolute Truth, was attainable with the next few centuries.

Of course, what he was also suggesting was that there were to be no more new ideas.

ITNERVIEWER: You mean -

JOHN NEWMOV: in the past 100 years, philosophy has remained the same. Science may have made efforts in space travel, construction, and ability, but that’s just science: the humanities have suffered because there has been a lack of ideas in both departments. The clothes we wear in this day and age are the same a hundred years ago, and music is still the same. And, even if we did think up something new, nothing truly unimaginable, unattainable; that completely ORIGINAL ideas, could be achieved, at leats as long as we inhabit a third dimensional space.

INTERVIEWER: You’re trying to say, that we will not se new original ideas now, and there is an existence beyond this three dimensions ?

JOHN NEWMOV: Yes, yes of course. I don’t doubt it, but I leave that to the future.

INTERVIEWER: Right.

Ah, and of the students now, who do you think are the most promising ?

JOHN NEWMOV: I came across one very bright young female student. She’s working in the Biotech areas of the University, and is always our most promising student. She has studied advanced logic in Computing, as well as Biology… in fact, she wrote three interesting papers on Biomechanical evolution, Eusocialism and Higher Logic. Her name…. Can’t really remember it, age is getting the better of me… I think it’s a Penelope March. Our brightest student yet. There’s also a Thomas Williams; really interesting chappie in the biomedical engineering, and he happens to be working with Penelope. He’s more into Nan technology, though, and he himself wrote a thesis on Four-dimensional Living, amongst various others. Sure, some noted that the others were far better then that one, and that particular piece was laughable, but I liked it the most. I can see a great future for that man. There’s also a budding enviromentalist, who is the head of the recycling in our university; some call him an over-glorified janitor, but he’s proud of his work, and I’m proud of his abilities.

INTERVIEWER: A janitor, huh ?

JOHN NEWMOV: This, ‘janitor‘, wrote a thesis on the implications of Terraforming, as well as Nan technology, on the new worlds of Venus and Mars. He also wrote a paper suggesting the relation between Dawkins and Lovelock. Ultimately, he is a Gaia theorist, and he believes that the planets are starting to change, thanks to Humanity. He also provided an updated Daisyworld, really nice working model of the actual Earth in hologram form, and I never saw anything quite like it. Truly a remarkable man…. Josiah Jameson, that‘s his name… though this fellow seems more interested in fun and adventure then work. Very smart, but also very lazy.

INTERVIEWER: That’s just the science-

JOHN NEWMOV: Oh, forgive me, I forgot to mention the Humanities side. There’s this Chinese scholar, Shen, he’s studying to become a priest, Bless him….

INTERVIEWER Just ton interrupt- the Chinese are far different from before.

JOHN NEWMOV: Indeed they are, and I blame it on the split all thos years ago. For me, the one thing hat divided the nation, aside many things, was when the Chinese church finally did it, and made their own Pope, the first Anti-Pope in more then five centuries. This, along with growing market forces, and a desire to democracy, split the country into two. Interesting that the next Pope, Pope Paul, sought to make amends as the first, true, Chinese Pope.

INTERVIEWER: I take it that you are a Christian.

JOHN NEWMOV: Yes. This is a sentiment that seems to offset the Dawkinites and Objectivists, but I remind them that I am just a fighter in their mental pugilism, so it’s all good.

INTERVIEWER: And back to, what was it, the Arts ?

JOHN NEWMOV: There’s this Chinese scholar, Shen, specially sent from Rome, who happens to be the understudy of the Cardinal of the Martian congregation, stationed at my University. While he’s not as stellar as the other students, he’s immensely popular, and immensely kind; the world could do with a few more kind men, as well as a few more smart men.

And then, there’s this port by the name of Kinsbrick. He can remember Shakespeare and Auden at the tip of his fingers, and can remember them off-hand, but, his work status in the university town is a bit sad; he does nothing but drink at the pub, and hardly gets income, aside from public readings. However, I like his prose and poetic style; the best out of the other writers the university has to offer.

INTERVIEWER: A stunning alumni I guess these will make.

JOHN NEWMOV: You bet.

INTERVIEWER: And what of the Ivory Tower ?

JOHN NEMOV: Well……

*static*

The interview is cut short. Anyone watching the video will wonder why the video was cut short before their very eyes. The static also reveals nothing in this recording.

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New Moon [23 Jun 2006|02:10am]

bsgnome
The Basilica of Saint Peter.

At this hour, the doors were closed to the public. Normally brimming with tourists and the Faithful, the marble hall was now all but empty.

Fr Krause stood admiring one of the sculptures surrounding the High Altar.

"'St Longinus' by Bernini," a voice said, from behind him.

Fr Krause turned to see that Pope Xavier had joined him. "Yes, the man who pierced our Lord."

"Indeed. A beautiful sculpture. Perhaps Bernini is a saint himself, inspired by the subjects he depicted ... but, you did not ask to see me to admire art, nor to discuss the saints. What is it, that you had to speak with me in person?"

Fr Krause sighed, "Your Holiness ... Father. In Avignon, things are not well."

Pope Xavier lets out a sharp laugh, "Tell me something I don't know. I've heard that you were unable to meet with the Cardinal; rather, you were not permitted to. What are you talking about, then?"

"About a week ago, a young lady came to confess to me. Unlike many of the penitent, she was truly guilt-stricken with horror." He looked at the Pope with weary eyes, "She jumped from the top of Notre Dame des Doms ... she confessed to me here, in Rome, and then, while I'm in Avignon, she leaps from the very residence of the cardinal whom I'm trying to interrogate."

"Don't throw that word around lightly, Father. The last thing the Church needs now is another Interrogation."

"The last thing the Church needs now, Your Holiness, is another Schism."

Pope Xavier looked at Fr Krause for a bit, then nods, "You think this was more than a coincidence. Maybe it is, Father. But what would that mean?"

"I'm not sure," Fr Krause shakes his head slowly, "I would guess ... I would guess that the Cardinal ... the Cardinal is trying to frighten me away. To cow me into submission. He sees me as an obstacle to his Anti-Papacy. And I'm afraid ... not for myself, but for those around me. For anyone I've ever known, or spoken to. Am I so dangerous to him ... ?"

They both let silence settle. Fr Krause again looked to the sculpture.

"Because of Truth, because of His teaching," Pope Xavier began, "Christ was dangerous to the Jewish status quo, and so dangerous to the Romans, who feared a Jewish uprising. You, Father, know Truth, and you can spread it to others. You are dangerous to the French status quo, and so, dangerous to Avignon.

"Christ died for us. And so, we die for Christ. When God is your strength, there is nothing to fear.

"Saint Longinus, martyr, pray for us." And with that, the Pope turned away, and made his way back towards the door which led into the Papal chambers.

----------

"So there I was," Miles Bell narrated, "cornered in an ally by the Gibbous Vandals, probably the fiercest gang on all of Luna. Their leader sneered at me and pointing his chubby finger snarled 'Y' wants'a bleed, new-moon?'" He paused to scan his audience for a reaction, and was met by eager faces, hanging on his every word.

Oh this is great. They're eating this up. Better make it good ...

"Now, what you need to understand here, is that, in the Lunar vernacular, new-moon is probably the worst slur for an outsider there is. I was none too happy about being called a new-moon, so, you know what I did ..." breathless anticipation, "I pointed my finger right back at him, and I said 'Yeah, I'll bleed, chubgut. But first, you've got to promise me something ...' Looking around at his crew, he snorted, 'Ha. Y'ear tha' boys. Th' bleeda wants a promis'. A'righ' bleeda, what's'th' promis'.' And, all the while he was laughing with his gang, I took the opprotunity to ready myself, and, when he turned to me, I gave that Gibbous Vandal the hardest kick I could, right in the kisser. I probably knocked a few teeth loose, and I definitely heard his nose break. And as he lay there bleeding on the ground, I tell him 'Don't cry if you bleed first.'"

Upon concluding his story, Miles was cheered and patted on the back, and probably punched , jovially, in the arm a few times. "You sho'd them Lunatics a thing'er two, eh." "Never did like Moon-men m'self, buddy." "Lemme buy you a drink, guy."

Miles lifted his hand, "Actually, sir, if you wouldn't mind, I'm actually a tad hungry, so ..."

The big, hairy man guffawed, "Well, y' just needta ask, guy. You like lobster?"

"I'd love lobster"

"Too bad, I can't afford it." The table explodes with drunken laughter. "Haha. Just some humour there, guy. They don't serve lobster here anyhow. I'll get you something you're bound to like."

----------

An hour later, his drink-drenched companions all stumbled away, one by one, as their shuttles were departing the platform. Eventually, Miles was left alone with his stir fry.

I'm certainly getting sick of stir fry.

Quickly running out of funds, and with no way to contact his connections, Miles decided to earn as many free meals from bar patrons as he could. Mostly from telling fabricated stories. As it turns out, the Gibbous Vandals were an obscure Lunar Rock band.

The bulk of that story was taken directly from their near hit, "New-moon Bleeder".

He hadn't been lying about having a run-in with a Lunar gang, but he certainly didn't know what moniker they went by, if any; they never cornered him in an ally; and he certainly never knocked their leader out with a kick to the face.

I've never fought anyone, for that matter. Never been a violent person, never will be. I'd much rather run from my problems.

As he thought this, a figure entered the diner, heading his way ...
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A Prince's Dream [17 Jun 2006|01:39am]

javeharron
The Prince was having quite a time. He was naked with the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She smiled at him, and moved towards him. Just then, the phone rang. The drug-induced vision disappeared, and the annoyed, naked Prince reached past the case of Vaseline and box of tissues to reach the phone.

“Hello?” he grumbled.

“Why the hostility, friend?” came Marduch’s familiar voice.

“I was trying out our Brazilian friend’s newest nano-drug,” the Prince explained. “It’s called Houri, and gives the impression that you’re screwing the Houri.”

“You mean the virgins you get in heaven, right?” Marduch asked.

“Yup,” the Prince replied. “Now, I was just in the middle of the experience when you called. This better be important!”

“You are aware of the attack on the reenactment, right?” Marduch asked.

“Yes,” the Prince answered. “Quite a piece of work, if I do say so myself. It’s brought too much attention to our contact, though.”

“Exactly. Seeing as I control a good portion of the media, sweeping this issue to the side shouldn’t be too hard,” Marduch explained. “However, the people will need a significant distraction. This is where I need your help.”

“So, you want me to launch another attack? I have reason to believe your main business competitor shot down my last one,” the Prince explained. “Quite literally.”

“I need something so big, it will silence Williams Multimedia for a while,” Marduch continued. “However, it has nothing to do with terrorism.”

“Then why call me up?” the Prince grumbled.

“Because you are a master of pencak silat, and some obscure martial arts I can’t pronounce,” Marduch explained.

“So you want me to appear on that corny deathmatch show of yours?” the Prince asked.

“Exactly! You will be allowed to bring any helpers you want. I need someone to defeat the Running Men,” Marduch answered. “I never liked Asians too much, and it’s humiliating to have them in a contest! If you need, I’ll also have Jerry Robertson out there with you.”

“Speaking of him, what’s he been up to?”

“The normal.”

“So, masturbating into children’s skulls, skinning people alive, holding lynching with other Confederates, and the like?”

“Yup,” Marduch answered. “I do find something funny, though.”

“What?”

“Remember our ENC contact?”

“What about him?” the Prince asked. “Always thought he was dead weight. Never liked listening to us unless we threatened to harm his kidnapped family.”

“Robertson killed his family several months ago, and Yin’s still not aware of it!” amusement could he heard in Marduch’s voice.

“How did you fool him, though?” the Prince asked. “I saw some of the video recordings of the family alive. You mean those were faked?”

“Of course. Things like digital media are easy to fabricate when you control a worldwide media corporation,” Marduch explained. “Even the secure line we’re on now was no problem setting up.”

“True, true. I am interested in helping eliminate some troublesome scum,” the Prince explained. “When do you want me on your show?”

“It will be a while,” Marduch explained. “But sometime in the not to distant future.”

“Fine. I’ve got to go. Got something to finish up,” the Prince said as he slammed the phone down.

His real name was Yusef, and he had grown up the spoiled son of a wealthy Arabic businessman in Europe. The Prince was originally nickname his classmates gave him to describe his spoiled, arrogant personality. He turned to terrorism for curiosity at first, and then amusement when he found he enjoyed planning attacks. He took up martial arts on the side, but enjoyed drugs since his time as a teenager. It was only due to money siphoned from his terror group that he was able to afford his habit, and the nano-stimulants that kept him in shape.

Yusef figured it was time to ask for a customized form of Houri. Perhaps something that would allow him to be aroused as he killed people. That would be very fitting for the contest. The Prince snickered as he thought of murder fantasies for the Running Men. Perhaps he would stab them with a human rib?

Talk about a boner, he snickered.

He also thought about decapitating someone, and the mental association of “getting head” make him snicker.

I can hardly wait, the Prince thought as he went back to his drugs.
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[11 Jun 2006|06:35pm]

chainsword
[ mood | thoughtful ]

“Do you think she got the message?” Antonio asked

“She did, you can count on it” said Manuel “Have you heard from Williams?”

“No, we've still to deliver his report.” said Antonio

“Let's hope he has something of value to exchange for it” said Manuel

A few Tuga ships were closing in to L5. Their contract was there and they need to get her to safety and their time was running out.

“Prepare the cloaking device, we don't want them to know we were here” said Manuel

“Yes, Captain” said Antonio while pushing some buttons

The main ship left the fleet and disappeared from the scanners and from plain sight. The technology wasn't new but it work perfectly. The ship would land without anyone noticing. They landed inside an abandoned spacedock. No one cared about the place. It seamed natural that a city as big as L5 had an abandoned spacedock like that and no one even question it's existence. That was a good thing for groups, like the Tugas, who want to enter the city without the authorities knowledge.

~

Raghast watched as Colonel Buck inspected the bodies. He was upset by all of it but he have seen enough dead people to let that break his concentration. Raghast knew that Dudley and the Colonel only wanted to protect him and Terence but he lived in the streets for so long that he like to know what was happening around him.

Then Dudley mumble something about Terence, about something he said. That make Raghast even more curious. He got close, trying to understand what they were saying.

“Are you ok?” said Terence's voice

Terence? That could not be, Terence wasn't here!

“Wake up! You're having a nightmare” said Terence's voice

And then, Raghast awake. He was back in Mars. Terence was near him and he seamed worried. Raghast was all sweaty, his breathing was irregular and fast.

“Are you ok? You were having a nightmare” said Terence

“I am, thank you” said Raghast. Luckily Terence didn't notice what he was really doing.

Astral projection was a very difficult thing to do. Raghast only did it once before. He needed all his strength and concentration to be able to do it. He heard of people who managed to create a real copy of themselves across great distances. Unfortunately, he only managed to project his spirit. That allowed him to hear and, sometimes, to talk to others, but he couldn't interfere or be seen.

But it demanded so much of him that it seamed that he was convulsing. That was what made Terence to awake him, he simply didn't knew what Raghast could do.

Raghast needed to rest. He knew something about what had happened with the others but he couldn't tell Terence. There were no way of explaining how did he knew that when not even the news knew about it.

~

“Sir, we have the JATs online” said Antonio

“Then let's not keep them waiting” said Manuel

“Greetings from the TUGA” Manuel wrote on his keyboard.

“Greetings, do you have what we asked for?” the reply appeared bellow

“Yes. Do you have what we asked for?” Manuel wrote

“Yes.” was the only reply

“Then let's trade. I've set a drive in [CR-12LT] for you to upload what we need” Manuel wrote

“Ok. Upload our to [VR-15TT]”

~

Manuel toke the optical drive with the info he needed and set it on a special drive he had for that specific purpose. He made a backup, just in case he might need it later, and gave the disk to Antonio.

“This will be very valuable later” Manuel said “Keep it very safe”

“Yes, Sir” said Antonio

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Zoe. 5. [11 Jun 2006|11:35pm]

hollud
[ mood | creative ]

Chapter 5.

Vi5. Zoe5. Episode5.Collapse )

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[11 Jun 2006|11:47am]

stormwell55
Gervase was still quite bewildered when he boarded one of the Alamar’s shuttles the following morning. The luxury of the hotel provided by his mysterious new employer was beyond what he dared dreamed about, and was a stark contrast to the basic essentials of a typical ENC barrack which he was used to. Though he wasn’t quite sure about Yol, since kept silent the whole time and crashed out on the sofa once they arrived at the hotel suite. Her damn rifle nearly stirred up trouble a few more times, but luckily it was quickly sorted out.

This time around the shuttle pilot was some talkative civilian, but a quiet and well disciplined military one. The man had said little as they climbed up through the Martian atmosphere, expect addressing Gervase as ‘sir’ and the odd response to the infrequent burst of radio chatter which Gervase guessed was from either the Alamar or Mars Aerospace Traffic Control. But there was something that was bugging Gervase, he was sure he had seen the pilot’s uniform somewhere before…but he couldn’t think where. The crisp, navy blue flight jacket didn’t offer any clues, but the insignia was very much like the one of the British Royal Aerospace Force…but the design was all wrong.

His thoughts were interrupted when the pilot suddenly burst into life by saying. “Now approaching the Alamar sir, ETA two minutes.”

Gervase mumbled back. “All ready?”

“Yes sir, all ready. She should be coming into view about now sir.” True to the pilot’s words the underneath of the Alamar filled the view from the cockpit window. Up here the ship seemed a how of a lot more impressive than it did on some spaceport view screen down below on the planet’s surface. More of the ship came into view as the shuttle circled round to the portside hanger pod, overwhelming Gervase with the vastness of the vessel. The ship’s name, ‘ALAMAR’, was painted onto the side of the hanger pod in large, white letters that were easily two stories high.

The pilot, noticing Gervase’s amazement, revealed his human side, “Pretty nice isn’t it?”

“That’s…bit of an understatement.”

“Aye it is. I’ve been on this ship for six months so far, yet I still find it to still be quite impressive as I make my approaches.”

“No arguments there mate.” Gervase replied as the shuttle made its final approach to the portside hanger.

Things proved to be bewildering onboard the ship itself after the shuttle landed, mainly due to the vast size of the hanger which could have easily been a vast cathedral of metal. It was also quite overwhelming to see the hustle and bustle of the hanger deck itself, after the lift had carried down the shuttle from the landing pad and the blast doors had opened. The deck was teeming with crewmembers and mechanics tending to a wide range of craft in various states of maintenance and repair (though Gervase noticed that they too were wearing the 'not-quite' British RAF uniforms). The shuttle pilot opened the side hatches as a group of crewmembers moved a tow-rack into position underneath the shuttle’s nose, the pilot turned round to his passengers and said, “Welcome to the Alamar.”
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[03 Jun 2006|05:52pm]

lord_haku
[ mood | inspecting ]

After the Olympus Mons Incident


Colonel Buck inspected one of the bodies, prodding aside one of the destroyed limbs with his baton. His examination combined the enthusiasm of a soldier, the deductive reasoning of a detective, and the slowness which only a man his age could achieve. As Josiah approached him from the side, he too seemed to have some concerns.

"Bloody clever sod, whoever came up with this." Grumbled the Colonel. "Who would have expected a massacre to occur at a military recreation? And not only that, be he infects the fighters with Mab so that they'll have no clue of the damage they're doing...do you sincerely reckon this was a Mercutio job, Josiah?"

"I've no idea, Colonel." Mumbled Josiah in reply. "The quantities of Mab required to drive that many people into that much of a frenzy...well, only a pusher of Mercutio's influence could supply the drugs. But only a weapons smuggler would have access to those sort of rounds, and they must be pretty well-connected as the DSO would notice if a cache that large disappeared. I also have my suspicions of the Olympus Mons security, either on counts of inefficiency or corruption. They slipped several hundreds of students excessive quantities of Mab and armed them with real firepower...surely the security teams should notice something this big..."

"I was on security duty myself." Replied Buck. "We had checkpoints in place to make sure no students were carrying live rounds - anyone carrying so much as fireworks were reprimanded. They either had extremely efficient counter-security methods of smuggling in their contraband weaponry, or they had a huge amount of luck. Taking into account the fact that no-one could be that lucky, I think we'll have to assume for the time being that this attack wasn't carried out in the interests of one group alone, but rather funded and supplied by numerous different groups. And what makes it all the more worrying is that they seem to be after you..."

"I dunno." interjected Dudley, having been let past security. "I mean, you had to tackle that nutcase when he attacked you and Lukan on board your ship. Not to mention the Clarke bombing, of course. I spoke with Thomas Williams earlier and he said there's been a recent change in activities with the Avignon group, along with a sudden growth in profits for the Marduch Media syndicate. He said that there could be some links, perhaps a few backhanders to lower-down officials in either group."

"I told you not to talk to him." Muttered Josiah. "Williams can launch his own investigation into this scenario, but he's having no affiliation with any of us. I won't have him sticking his nose into my business as well as everyone else's."

"We're all on the same side, Josiah." Began the Colonel, reprimanding his younger friend. "I don't like Thomas Williams any more than you do...his technologies take all the honour from war...but if he wants to share information with us, we'll have to be fair enough to share ours back with him. That might include revealing the existence of Mintaka, along with Raghast and Lukan."

"I can't afford to compromise the secrecy of my project; that self-effacing git might steal it." Snapped Josiah. "And if I find any of you letting him into any of our secrets, you can find your own way back to earth. Dud, if you tell him anything, I'll have both Terence and Mintaka flung out with you. And Colonel, you'll be keeping Raghast and Lukan if you betray my trust. If Thomas Williams is so damned clever he can figure things out for himself."

"Alright Josiah, I was only bloody mentioning that I'd heard something from him..." mumbled Dudley. A look of recognition then swept across his face.

"Terence..."

"What about him?" Asked Josiah, still slightly annoyed.

"He mentioned a friend of his had comitted suicide in Avignon...I spoke to him before the battle and I didn't really give the location any consideration...but Avignon...I mean, that's where the Cardinal's at, isn't it? And from the nature of the girl's suicide, I'm guessing that she was a Mab victim too."

"A Mab-related death in Avignon?" Exclaimed the Colonel. "Bloody impossible! The Cardinal has banned all use of artificial halluciogenics in his realm, and no-one - either carrying a dosage of Mab or under its influence - would be able to find their way into Avignon without a severe beating. It's entirely Mab-free."

"Aye." Nodded Dudley. "Just like Olympus Mons is meant to be, right?"

The Colonel considered this notion.

"What are you driving at, nephew?"

"Think about it - there's only a few groups of people who could investigate a mess this big. There's Williams and the Transcendi, military types - such as yourself and Tellus, uncle - and random adventurers such as myself and Josiah, along with the folk we pick up; people like Terence, Raghast, Lukan and Mintaka. Now normal lines of officialdom rarely investigate anything as strange as the incidents that have been taking place recently, and so people like the bunch I've just listed are pulled into the fray. Personally, I think the events have not only been 'usual' acts of terrorism, used to generate fear or infamy, but also cleverly placed forms of bait used to pull us into the fray."

"Not a bad notion," began Josiah, "but have you any evidence for this?"

"We wouldn't have taken much of an interest in young Jeniffer's suicide - that's the girl who died at Avignon - unless we knew Terence, which we do. Plus, both today's battle and the Clarke bombing happened while we were there. Someone's trying to trap us. Whoever's organising this, they don't just want you Josiah, but they also want me and my Uncle Buck. Guesses are they already know Mintaka's cyborg nature, Raghast's abilities and Lukan's more secretive side. Thomas Williams is also one of their targets, as they know how he reacts to these sort of events, along with figures like Tellus. These people also have influence in the Mab trade lines, as well as the arms industry, the Avignon Church and the American Confederacy."

"A conspiracy, then?" Hazarded the Colonel.

"Most definitely."

The group considered this, and left the scene.
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