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Mass Effect/AEC: Chapter 12 (c.2)-Tomb


Tweet of the Day: Uncomfortable Automata and the Business of Nightmares



Horse Head Nebula, Pax System, Noveria, Peak 21 Research Facility, October 20, 2196

The impact that created the ice rimmed crater outside ripped the facilities blast doors apart like paper. Teeth like icicles hung above our heads. Inside the loading dock mounds of snow covered stacks of crates and abandoned equipment. A human corpse, dressed in a white jumpsuit, rested with it’s back against a rover with a pile of tools at its feet. An icy veil covered dark eyes that stared into oblivion. I thanked the lowest bidder for the armor that kept Noveria’s deadly cold away from my skin.

“This place is a tomb,a frozen tomb. I call it a classic case of post-orbital strike syndrome,” I said.

“This facility intercepted and data mined Alliance and Salarian low priority comm traffic through the local relay and passed it along to other Cerberus facilities off world.  That is intel we can use, commander,” said Miranda.

“We will have to dig out. Should have brought Vega with us. I mean it would be unfair to ask Utah to do all the heavy lifting,” I said.

Utah turned his shiny cyclopean gaze toward me, “While the Creators designed the geth for heavy labor, the tonnage of existing debris exceeds this platform’s capabilities, Commander Thompson-Ramos.”

“That’s a no,” I said.

“Correct, Commander Thompson-Ramos,” said Utah.

Stacks of crates littered the loading bay. High on the back wall two sets of stairs, left and right, led to an office that overlooked the area. A rectangular shaft, some fifteen meters wide by ten across dominated the center. The elevator panel flickered to life followed by a dozen or more clusters of red lights around the dock.  A dozen Rampart class mechs came to life around us.

“Take cover,” I yelled as I dived behind a cluster of crates.

The mechs marched forward at a relentless pace. The heavy volume of fire from their sub-machine guns chewed up the scenery. Pasha, Utah, and I tried to hacked three of them. They simply seized up for a second, then pressed their attack.

“Electronic counter-measures ineffective,” said Utah.

No shit!

“Drop drones on target,” I said.

Pasha and Utah deployed a pair of drones that engaged the mechs at long range with rocket fire. Miranda alternated her attacks between overloading the mechs shields and hitting them with explosive rounds from her Scorpion modded with disruptor armor. The shiny charges stuck to the mech and exploded a second late with enough force w to strip the mechs kinetic barriers. I finished them off with short burst. Four more mechs came down the stairs. I cloaked and took position atop a large snow bound to my left. I switched to the Black Widow and took aim at the new wave of mechs. With each breath I slipped deeper into the zone: time slowed down, focus narrowed, targets prioritized.

Two targets, ten o’clock high. First target, engaged, headshot.

The mechs head shattered in a smoking ceramic cloud.

Second target, engaged, headshot. Two more mechs , two o’clock low. Enemy on crosshair, compensating for unstable surface. Shots fired, target down. Re-target and repeat.

Both mechs collapsed in fiery heaps.

Targets neutralized.

At that moment the cargo lift in the center of the dock. An Atlas came up, with flanked by four more light mechs. The Atlas blew apart Pasha and Utah’s covered with a single shot from its cannon. I whirled around and fired the last shot from the clip into the mech’s right knee joint. It went down on one knee. The drones engaged the two light mechs on the far left, while Miranda engaged the ones on the right.

Utah leaned over Pasha, “Is Creator-Pasha still functional?”

Pasha waved him off. Utah switched to his carbine to shot gun mode and blasted apart the two remaining light mechs. The Atlas punched the lift with its claw and stood up.  I slid down the mound, braced the Widow against the snow, grabbed the left leg of the bipod and fired at the mech’s engine cowling. Five inferno rounds punched through the blew open the cowling. The explosion tore apart the mech.

“Sitrep,” I said.

“Unit two-three-seven fully functional. Creator Pasha is also fully functional with no damaged to his enviro-suit,” said Utah.

“I’m alright, sir,” said Pasha.

“Classic case of post-orbital stike syndrome, commander?” asked Miranda.

We rappelled down the shaft to a warehouse below. From there we explored the facility. Despite Miranda’s skepticism, the collection of burst pipes, collapsed hallways and frozen mummies reinforced death’s grip over the facility.Utah pried the door to the serve room open. Inside, among the damaged data modules and processing units stood a holo display. An image of a young woman in her late twenties hovered above.

The projection came to life.

A robotic voice emanated from the holo’s speakers, “Intruders in main server room. Countermeasures exhausted. Unit designation: Nemesis.”  The hologram gazed up at me and said in a deject near human voice, “But my name…my name is Eva Coré.”



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TV Tropes Monday: We Will Spend Credits in the Future

Tweet of the Day: Birth of Another Idea


This is a old and well worn trope. If a future society has a system of currency, it is usually expressed in credits. Credits can be both electronic or a form of hard currency but they are, by enlarge, accepted everywhere the future protagonist goes. But why do authors rely on this trope? Like other common sci-fi tropes it has become part of the so called, “conventions of science fiction”, those elements or tropes that serve as short hand for the reader and ease immersion, such as Faster Than Light Travel, universal translators, and super-luminal communications.

Attempts to use other terms in place of credits can sound like funny money. Super-Dollars or Crazy Pesos simply will not do. You also run the risk of having time make a fool out of you. Such was the case with many a book set in the far future of the 1980s. Back then the imminent collapse of the U.S. economy and the certain rise of the Japanese Juggernaut seemed inevitable. While the U.S. economy has waxed and waned of the years, so has the Japanese economy without a major turn over in the global markets. Similar situation with the Euro. Some author thought that it would become the new global currency.

Other authors chose to use the the credit in a somewhat more realistic sense. Local political entities have their own currency and the credit simply serves as a standard to measure the exchange rate of different currencies, much like the dollar standard today. Of course, who ever issues that currency wields significant economic power in a setting.

In tabletop and computer RPGs the credit serves a shorthand for money. In fantasy themed games gold serves as the median currency, regardless of where the hero travels to, all prices are expressed in gold coins or derivative coinage, such as copper or silver for cheaper items and more expensive items sold for electrum or platinum pieces.  The irony is that some due to microtransactions in games (where you can buy in game items with real money or exchange real money with in-game money) the in-game transactions of some games have actual real life values, although they have do not have the same reach outside of the game as they do inside of the virtual world(s). New forms of private electronic currency like BitCoin are attempting to become the credit standard but without government backing they are more of a commodity than an actual currency.


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World Building Wednesday: Ceremonies of State


Tweet of the Day: Writing is still about rejection, even if you are self-published


The new monarch get’s anointed with holy oils and holds a sword and scepter as badges of office.

A new president stands in the cold January air giving the first speech of his four years in office.

These are two of the many ceremonies marking the succession from one ruler or leader to the next. As I mentioned in Monday’s post, at the heart of any government lies the question of legitimacy, that is the right to rule or govern.  The ceremonies of the state are designed to grant and maintain that legitimacy in perpetuity. But what makes them the subject of a world building posts?

The when, where, how and why of these ceremonies represents cultural values of the society the ruler seeks to rule. For example, swords represent martial prowess and the right of judgement over the people. The wording of an oath literally spells out what is expected of the ruler such as leadership in time of war and mercy in time of peace. The ruler then becomes the embodiment of these values. This in turn lends a sense of legitimacy to the new government. To go against the government is to go against those values the society holds in highest esteem thus turning the challenger into an outlier. It also lends an air of timelessness, a feeling that it has always been so, from time immemorial thus nothing has change or will ever change.

Many author borrow from established traditions (see: Fantasy Counterpart Culture) but even those that do should understand why there are five swords used during the coronation of a British monarch and why the Sword of Mercy is a broken sword. Those who wish to mix and match or create new symbols will have to figure out the difference between say a stave of office versus a mace or shield. Does the new leader stand side by side with the old one or is the old leader banished from the capitol on inaugural day. Is there is an oath, what is the basis of that oath, the wording, and its meaning?  What is the importance of the place where the investiture occurs, or can it happen anywhere. Is there a magical or technological means of assuring the right to rule?

Remember that while a coronation may be the most elaborate and important of ceremonies related to the state, there are many more, such as graduations from a military academy, the birth or birthday of a monarch or heir, the knighting of a faithful follower, the selection or acceptance of ambassadors. Any situation where political power is given or transferred tends to have its own ceremony reflecting the importance of that office in the larger scheme of things.

Like most of the information created during a world building session, most of this will not see the light of day, but the author must have a good grasp of the ceremony. If nothing else, it will reveal a lot about society the author created.


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TV Tropes Monday: Succession Crisis


Tweet of the Day: WisCon: The Frenkel Decision


There comes a time in the life of any government that the baton must be past to a new leader, except that somebody drops the baton, or is shot on the way to delivering it, or the baton gets lost, or the metaphor gets stretched beyond the breaking point. When that happens you have a Succession Crisis. While the trope applies primarily to monarchies, it can also to any apply to any government in a time of transition of power.

The key to this trope is legitimacy, the belief that the person taking power or claiming said power has the lawful right to do so. If the legitimacy of the new ruler or candidate is successfully questioned then  you entered a Succession Crisis.  Life for the common citizen may continue, for awhile anyway. Finding a way to resolve the crisis means solving the legitimacy problem because while a new ruler can take power by force, that doesn’t mean that the crisis is over. On the contrary, once ceremony is thrown out the window, anybody can claim the throne and you have yourself a merry little civil war and/or outright invasion, sometimes both.


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Weekend Roundup: July 13-19


Tweet of the Day: Playground Time Machine


In Europe summer was the, “campaign season.” In spite of tales of heroic knights and conquering kings, the host of any army was made of peasants. And peasants plant fields in spring and harvest in the fall. So summer, with its sun baked fields and long days was perfect for war. Whether it was besieging a rebel baron’s castle or rampaging through the streets of a fortified town in search of plunder, summer was the time of glinting mail, bloody clashes, and decisive action. Now war is waged around the clock, any time, anywhere. Of course the romanticism we imbue those long ago battles make the current conflicts seem far crueler, but the truth is that by sword or bomb, it is the peasant that dies in the name of his lord.

But enough of that, let us see what this week brought us:

I hope you are having a more pleasant and peaceful summer where ever you are.


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Space for Rent: The Truth about Israel

I wrote and posted this piece in another blog, in another time, but the world turns and what is old is new again. This is an opinion piece backed by some relevant facts. Like any opinion about the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict it will not be popular. However, I will not play the game of false equivalences. I will try my utmost to look at the facts as best as I can comprehend them. But one thing is certain, the current conflict is unsustainable and a detriment to both Palestinians and Israeli.

The Palestinians need Justice and Freedom.

The Israeli need Freedom from Fear.

Make of that what you will.


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Wizards’ World War(s.3) Dispatch 27: The End of the Beginning (P.2)


Tweet of the Day: Open-Air Saint


Seasons 1 & 2Season 3 PremiereDispatch 26 – 28


Eastern Mediterranean Ocean, 7 k.m. Northeast of Sant’Agat di Militello, Regione Siciliana, Rebupplica italiana, 15 October, 19:25 hrs +1 GMT

Lieutenant Mathilda Kathy Jones, call sign,”Jailbird”, peered through the helmet mounted display across the moonless night in search of targets. She selected and drew a box around each enemy torpedo boat with the thumb stick in the collective control. The computer tallied the target and assigned a missile to each. The Apache pilot, Captain Ben “Hill” Lawson sat above and behind her. He scanned the dark sky above them in search for the signs of the enemy. The first time the squadron encountered a dragon it cost them two helicopters and four crew.

“All targets assigned,” said Jailbird over the comm.

“Verify target selection,” ordered Hill.

She swept the Apache’s sophisticated sensor array across the marina. She counted five torpedo boats. She spotted another one hanging from a crane. She selected another missile and targeted the crane bound torpedo boat.

“All targets accounted for,” she said.

“Trident lead to Trident flight, target locked. Standing by to engage,” said Hill over the radio.

The pilot in the second section of two radio back, “Targets checked and accounted for.”

“All units, engage assigned targets,” ordered Hill.

Hellfire missiles slip from the wing mounted launchers in fiery salvos. A second later violent explosions rocked the marina. Torpedo boats disintegrated into flaming chaff. One ton torpedo warheads cratered the concrete quays. Stacks of oil barrels spewed angry red flames that flared white hot on the infrared scopes. Surviving crews ran to and fro in a futile attempt to put out the inferno.

“Well done Trident Flight. Egress  to Poseidon,” said Hill.

The Apaches banked hard right and flew back to HMS Ocean.

One flaming distraction delivered.



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