javeharron (javeharron) wrote in futurefantastic,
javeharron
javeharron
futurefantastic

Darth Schadenfreude

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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