Name: Cpt. Mark Danials
Origin: Detroit, Michigan, Earth
Era: 1835 CE
Mark Daniels was born in Detroit, Michigan in1803. His father was a Revolutionary War veteran who moved to Detroit after the war. From a young age Mark was groomed as a soldier. He was taught to shoot muskets and rifles, and grew up hunting deer and wolves. When he was 18, he joined the Michigan militia. He fought in many engagements with Native American tribes while stationed at Fort Miami and Shelby. At the age of 28 he was promoted to Captain. He and his unit, the 21st, earned a reputation when he lead an assault on a local Chippewa tribe thought to be attacking settlers.
Level 3 XP: 3821 Next: 6000 Skill: 0
Str: 15 (+2) HP: 24/24
Dex: 16 (+3) Chi: 3/3
Con: 14 (+2) Ref: 2(4) Fort: 1(3) Will: 0(0/2)
Int: 12 (+1) Atk: 4 Melee: 6 Ranged: 7
Wis: 11 (+0) Def: 11 Dodge: +3 Armor: +3 (+4/+6 vs
Cha: 09 (-1) Init: 0 (+3/-1) Move: 5
Firearms, Advanced Firearms
Rifle Proficiency (+2 to shoot rifles)
Long Shot (+50% distance w/ firearms)
Dead Aim (+4 to attack w/ full round aiming)
Precise Shot (Negate -4 to fire into melee)
Combat Awareness (Not flat-footed before combat)
Ride Horses 4 (+7)
Self Centered Asshole
Hover Sentry Guards
HP: 30 Chi: 0
Atk: +5 Def: 15
Zap Prod: 1d6 non-lethal, Stun 1 round (Fort save DC 15)
Tranq. Darts: Range, 30'. Unconscious 2d6 hours (Fort save DC 30)
Pain Field: Save Reflex DC 20 or Flee
Mace: Range 5'. Stunned for 1d4 rounds and Blind 1d4 hours (Rflx save DC 15)
Movement relies on ship's magnetic field and gravity control systems. Does not function in other non-microgravity environments.
Can control all security locks on all ship's doors
Provides video feed to monitoring stations
Can controls ship's microwave emitters, air pressure, and gravity
Has thermal, visual, and air pressure sensors
Can access ship's internal cameras and sensors.
Can function in micro-gravity extra vehicular environments
Functions up 3 hours in a vacuum before internally overheating.
Vulnerable to electromagnetic pulses
Name: Cpt. Mark Danials
"Welcome aboard the Younger Brother Pear, Judge Olden," Doc says, wryly.
"How did we get here? What kind of devil lovin' magic are you using on me?" The Judge demands, angry and indignant.
"You fell into a hole in your own jacket pocket. If I were you I'd get back in there, pronto."
"What the hell kinda fairy-tale nonsense is that? Why are you here? What is this place?" The Judge refuses to look around and examine his situation, instead insisting that Doc bend to his will and explain everything for him.
Captain Daniels, however, is actively examining everything he can. Thunderhorse keeps a close eye on him as he moves slowly about the room, indulging his curiosities. "Is that the War for Independance?" he asks, pointing at the television.
Thunderhorse shakes his head. "No, it's the American Revolution."
Captain Daniels looks at him, confused, probably more-so by the translator than Thunderhorse's comment.
Doc deals with the Judge, playing off the old man's religious superstitions. "This is Purgatory. This ship sails the stars endlessly between Heaven and Earth, with the occasional stop at Hell. Now either you get back into the jacket, or we let you off at our leisure."
The Judge is visibly shaken by this. He doesn't want to believe it, but he can't help but fear that it's the truth. Just then, Captain Daniels touches the window and the shutters dissolve, revealing the stars and Earth beyond. Judge Olden turns as the Captain gasps. The Judge's jaw drops.
"Who...who are you?" the Judge asks.
"I'm Saint Peter, and now is not your time. Get back in the jacket."
The Judge stares at him, not moving. The Captain furrows his brows at him.
Doc rests his hand on his pistol. "Please. You don't have much time."
The Judge picks up his jacket and starts to put it on.
"No, no, just reach into the pocket as deep as you can," Doc corrects him.
The Judge obeys. He pulls the sleeve back off and turns the inner pocket out. He reaches into it and slips away. The jacket falls onto the floor.
Doc turns to Captain Daniels. "And you. You've got to return to your own time."
"My own time?" asks Captain Daniels.
"Uh, yes. It is not your time to be here in the afterlife. Get yourself back to Earth."
Captain Daniels moves slowly towards the coat. Doc picks it up off the floor and offers it to him. Daniels takes it from him, cautiously.
"Saint Peter, eh?" Captain Daniels is evidently not a religious man. Doc gets the feeling he's not going for it.
"Yeah. Now get going."
Captain Daniels examines the jacket carefully. He looks into the pocket. "Guess I'll see you later, Pete." He winks at Doc before reaching in and disappearing.
Doc wipes his brow and takes a seat. Thunderhorse sits back down, too, hypnotized once again by the TV.
Dr. Ritenrong calls in on the intercom. "Hey, I just got two intruder alerts. Did they show up?"
Doc calls back at the ceiling. "Yes, they showed up."
"Did you get them back in the jacket?"
"Both of them?"
"In clearing the security alerts just now, I see we've still got a guest. He's in Room 7."
Doc and Thunderhorse turn to each other. Thunderhorse grabs his ax as Doc jumps up from the couch. They both run out into the hallway.
Dr. Ritenrong meets them at the elevator. He leads the way towards the room in question.
"I don't understand. I put them both in the jacket with plenty of time to spare. They should both be on the Chesapeake. How did this happen?" Doc asks.
"I don't know," Dr. Ritenrong responds. "It's entirely inexplicable. We've got to expect these kinds of things, you know."
They stop outside Room 7, where a hover sentry that wasn't there earlier is now stationed. Its tazer prongs extend in response to their presence. Dr. Ritenrong asks it for entry. It scans his retina with its single laser eye, beeps a gruff confirmation, and moves aside.
The door slides open. Captain Daniels is lying on the bed, reading a book. There's a stack of them next to his bed, along with several empty cups and plates.
"Well, this is an unexpected surprise. What brings y'all to my cozy little cabin?" He asks, sitting up.
"How did you get here?" Doc asks.
"What?" Captain Daniels asks.
"How did you get on this ship?" Doc asks again.
"Don't you remember?"
Doc looks at Dr. Ritenrong. Dr. Ritenrong shakes his head.
"You sent me back to the Chesapeake in the Judge's pocket. When we were there you didn't remember anything about our being here on the Di Li. When you left the Chesapeake, I jumped aboard the Pu right before you closed the bay doors. Then you torched the Chesapeake, remember? You were there. You put me in shackles and threw me in this room," Daniels explains.
"You've been here all this time?" Dr. Ritenrong asks.
"...yes. Did you forget about me?"
Doc looks at Ritenrong. He turns back to Daniels. "Excuse us, please." Doc orders the door shut again. In the hallway, he talks to the professor.
"What is going on? I thought we had to use a wormhole to change time-lines. How did this happen?"
"It must've been when we used the coffee cup. We arrived in a time-line where Captain Daniels escapes the Chesapeake. The us-es we passed arriving here must've captured him and locked him up."
They open the room door again.
"Do you know where you are?" Doc asks Captain Daniels.
"We're in orbit over Earth in a space ship called the Younger Brother Pear. It is a Multidimensional Astral Research Vessel. I'm not thick, you know. I can read, unlike horse brain over there, and I've had plenty of time to do so."
Thunderhorse snorts at the comment and grips his ax tightly. The hover sentry reacts to him, turning and readying tazers.
The Daniels is nonchalant. "Come on, shit-for-brains. I could use some damned exercise. I'm tired of sittin' around in here, so you right on and kill me if you want. I wish the rest of you would make up your damned minds about what yer gonna do with me."
Doc restrains Thunderhorse with his hand, holding him back from unleashing his viking rage. At the same time he orders the door closed again.
"What can we do with him?" Doc asks.
"I say we kill him," grunts Thunderhorse, pissed.
"Well, it's too late to send him back in the jacket again. Besides, he'd probably just escape again, and next time there might be two of them," Dr. Ritenrong says.
"Can we just drop him off back on Earth?" Doc asks.
"He knows too much, now. Did you see what he was reading? Military history and technical manuals. The Host must've brought them to him, since he's programmed to fulfill any reasonable request, even those made by prisoners. I guess I forgot to mention to him that books about the future are not reasonable requests."
"So what if Daniels knows about the future? What can he do?"
"Too much. What if he invents the Browning Automatic Rifle before the Civil War? Hell, he's got a grudge against Ohio, what if he uses what he's learned to take back the Toledo Strip? It's all too much to risk sending him back to Earth, at least in this era."
"So we kill him," Thunderhorse responds, intently. "We kill him and mash him and feed him to the horses. Then we will see who's brain is made of shit."
Dr. Ritenrong expands on this thought, or rather attempts to steer Thunderhorse away from his train of thought. "Or we keep him here, locked up indefinitely? Who knows, maybe he can be useful. We can't trust him now, of course, but maybe..."
Thunderhorse's train isn't budging. "Kill him."
Thunderhorse and Doc are enjoying breakfast in the lounge. Thunderhorse is wolfing down a bowl of Space Puffs and beer while Doc enjoys a coffee, croissant, and cigarette. Thunderhorse snorts in laughter at the TV as Bugs Bunny once again gets the better of Elmer Fudd.
Dr. Ritenrong comes into the room with the Judge's overcoat. He looks exhausted, but pleased, as if he finally solved a problem.
"Good mornin', Steve," says Doc, surprised at the professors presence. He's usually locked away in his lab all day. "You're looking much better today."
"Good morning, gentlemen." Steven lays the data on the coffee table before he joins them on the large, semicircular couch. "Thank you, Doc. I am feeling good."
"How's work on the Autopilot going?"
"He's dead," Dr. Ritenrong replies remorselessly.
"Dead? How did that happen?" Doc asks.
"I tried to rewire his cranial unit to accept larger memory chips, but I overloaded the circuit and his brain shorted out. Unfortunately, I don't have a spare."
"Can we get by without an Autopilot? I mean, can you fly the ship on your own?"
"About as well as a bus driver can fly a passenger jet. Most of the systems can be automated by the computer, but in case of emergency, we're boned."
"Er, how likely is that?" Doc asks, becoming more concerned.
"Well, there's no orbital traffic in this era, so that removes most of the risk. However, there's always a chance of solar storms, meteors, and space pirates. Right now I'd say the chance of emergency is about 1 in a million. In my experience, those odd are not good. But there' s nothing we can do about that. The real problem is that I can't maneuver the ship through the asteroid field."
Doc almost chokes on coffee. "Sorry, why would you want to do that?"
"Asteroids are great for wormholes. Craters on asteroids are created and destroyed everyday. I've got a detailed mapping of the entire asteroid belt and a computer program that can predict almost every impact that has or will occur. Turns out, there's a portal to nearly every era in the asteroid belt. The tricky part is getting to them. Without careful maneuvering, we could hit one and damage the ship, or worse, change the outcome of the impact time-line."
"Okay, so where or when are we going that we need to go into the asteroid fields?" Doc asks. Dr. Ritenrong's wandering sense of conversation is always confusing and somewhat aggravating.
"Oh, we don't need to go into the asteroid fields. We can just orbit the solar system faster-than-lightspeed for a while to go back in time, or near-lightspeed to go forwards. That takes a while, though, sometimes months. I think we'll just leave the ship in 1835 and go into the pipe."
"Go where?" Doc asks again, frustrated. "Wait a minute, what pipe? The corncob pipe?"
"You got it back? How?"
"Not yet, I haven't." He checks his wristwatch, which is more like a bracer with a computer on it. "Give it five minutes."
"Okay, how will you get the pipe back?"
"It was so simple I couldn't see it. I get so hung up on taking care about not altering the course of history in any unpredictable ways, I sometimes forget how much control I actually have over the course of events. Please, finish your coffee. I need the cup."
Doc looks at him curiously. He gulps down the last sip and extends the cup towards the professor. Steve produces the Q-TIP device from his lab coat.
"I spent forever trying to trace the jacket's route through history, only to realize that it's in my hands. I've determined that the jacket is only about a hundred days old. The Judge and Captain went into the wormhole in the pocket about 180 hours ago. So they will emerge from the jacket 2,220 hours before the pocket is destroyed."
Dr. Ritenrong pulls a small, square device from his lab coat pocket. On one side of the device is a sticky tack, which Dr. Ritenrong adheres to the coffee cup. On the other side is a stopwatch display, which Dr. Ritenrong programs for a 2,220 hour countdown. He puts the cup on the table. He dips the Q-TIP in it, and clicks the button on the top. It sounds just like a pen clicking.
"Okay, the charge is set. Let's give it a minute or two, so we have time to get back in the cup."
"Let me get this straight," Doc says. "We're going into the coffee cup, which will take us three months into the future."
"Then we tear open the jacket pocket, which breaks the wormhole."
"Then we re-enter the coffee cup to arrive back at this time, where the Judge and Captain Daniels should be arriving."
"If my calculations are correct, yes. And I am very diligent about my calculations. I've run some tests already. When I first got the jacket I put in a tracking device, hoping to find it somewhere on Earth, in case they went backwards in time because I just got frustrated and tore open the pocket. But the tracer just showed up this morning, putting the wormhole's temporal zenith at about 90 hours ago."
"Doesn't that mean that the jacket is definitely going to be destroyed in three months? Why do we need to go into the coffee cup? Can't you just put a detonator on the jacket its self? Or just wait around three months and then tear it open?"
"I suppose so. In another causality chain perhaps that's what I did, and that's how I got the tracer back. But I figured a demonstration of the Q-TIP was in order."
Almost exactly on this cue, Doc, Steven, and Thunderhorse leap forth from the coffee cup. This is quite a shock to the Doc and Thunderhorse who were, until this exact moment, really enjoying their relaxing morning.
"Flaming teats of Loki!" Thunderhorse yells, throwing his cereal to the floor as he jumps up from the couch.
Standing Doc waves tentatively at himself. Sitting Doc waves back.
Dr. Ritenrong stands up. "That's our cue. Let's go." Doc and Thunderhorse approach the coffee cup cautiously. The Thunderhorses stare at their mirror images, trying to intimidate each other as they circle around each other, trading places.
New Doc takes the seat Original Doc was sitting in, saying "Watch out for the stool."
"Thanks," says Original Doc.
Original Dr. Ritenrong lifts his leg like he's going to stomp on the coffee cup. As he puts it down, he shrinks away into it, disappearing. Doc and Thunderhorse look at each other. Thunderhorse goes next, following Steve's procedure. He, too, disappears into the coffee cup as an expression of both surprise and fear washes across his face.
Doc goes next. He puts his leg down into the coffee cup. The coffee cup becomes a huge tunnel as the universe balloons around him. Immediately, the other side appears, as if he simply stepped through a doorway. The world beyond is giant, but shrinking. He steps right out the other side, right off the edge of a bench in Dr. Ritenrong's lab. He stumbles and hits his shin on a stool.
Doc collects himself, his shin smarting but okay. The Judge's jacket is lying on the bench next to the coffee cup. The time bomb on the cup is counting down the remaining few minutes until the cup shatters. Dr. Ritenrong is already here, working quietly on a robotic head in the corner. He waves a quick greeting at the party, and returns to work. The Host is also here, waiting with a broom and dustpan.
"Okay, here we go," Dr. Ritenrong says as he picks up the jacket. He turns the jacket pocket out and gives it a yank. It doesn't budge. "Some good stitching on this. Here, Thunderhorse."
Thunderhorse takes the jacket. He yanks hard, grunting. The pocket resists little and is quickly torn away. He hands the jacket back.
"Alright. That's it. Let's go back." Dr. Ritenrong says. He climbs back up on the bench and steps into the coffee cup. Thunderhorse again follows him, and Doc after.
Once again, the universe grows huge as he steps into the cup. This time is easier, now that Doc knows better what to expect. He steps gracefully from one end of time to another, arriving back in the lounge where he, the Thunderhorses, and Dr. Ritenrongs are meeting each other again.
"Flaming teats of Loki!" Thunderhorse yells, throwing his cereal to the floor as he jumps up from the couch. Again.
Doc waves at his sitting self. The Old Doc waves back.
Old Dr. Ritenrong stands up. "That's our cue. Let's go." The Thunderhorses do their little mirror dance as they trade places.
Almost without thinking, Doc says "Watch out for the stool." Then, almost experimentally, he adds "That first step is a doozy."
"Thanks," his former self replies. They that were step into the coffee cup, on their way to becoming those who they are now.
The jacket still rests on the coffee table. There's no sign of Judge Olden and Captain Daniels.
"It changed," Doc says.
"Hmm?" asks Steven.
"Before I said 'Watch out for the stool.' This time I added 'that first step is a doozy.' It changed."
"Yeah, that happens all the time. We never return to the timelines from whence we came. It always changes. Changing the future often has just as much effect on the past as changing the past has on the future. It's usually something benign like that. I've got to take those anti-causal effects into my calculations all the time. It can be a real bitch."
Dr. Ritenrong calls in the Host, who arrives promptly. He hands the android the coffee cup. "Please take this to my lab and keep it in secure-store until, oh, say five minutes before the timer goes off."
"Of course, sir." The Host complies and takes the cup away.
Doc, Thunderhorse, and Ritenrong sit on the couch and watch cartoons for a while, although they watch the jacket more than the TV. They wait expectantly for the slightest sign.
Thunderhorse is easily distracted by the TV. Doc picks up the manual for the clone-o-mat and reads, intermittently glancing at the jacket. Steve stares at the coat intently.
Half an hour later, the pipe falls out of the pocket, followed by a gold pocket watch and some coins. Dr. Ritenrong springs to his feet and picks the stuff up off the floor. He's practically jumping for joy.
"We've got it!" he says, waving the pipe above his head. "I'm going to start my calculations immediately! If the other two show up, just shove them back in the jacket. Get them back on their timelines!"
"But the ship burned and sank, we can't send them back to their deaths," Doc says, but Dr. Ritenrong had already ran out of the room.
Doc ponders what to do. He goes back to his room and straps on his pistol. He grabs Thunderhorse's axe and brings it into the media room.
"Here. Just in case they want to start trouble." Doc says. Thunderhorse nods. Doc goes back to reading, trying to put the butterflies out of his stomach.
The manual is technical and difficult to follow, but engrossing. Two hours later, Thunderhorse is asleep on the couch, snoring loudly. The TV is playing a history show about the American Revolution. Doc had almost forgotten about Judge Olden and Captain Daniels.
But suddenly they're here, falling out of the jacket pocket like sacks of potatoes. Thunderhorse awakens with a start. Doc stands and offers a hand to help them up.
"Welcome aboard, gentlemen," Doc greets them. Captain Daniels accepts his offered hand and allows Doc to pull him up.
The Judge chooses to struggle to his feet on his own. "Where the HELL are we?!" he demands.
Doc and Thunderhorse have been studying, training, and drinking heavily for more than a week without much sign of Dr. Ritenrong. He's been practically camping out in the robotics lab the whole time. Occasionally he will appear in the galley late at night, order dinner and drinks, and chat briefly. He's not much for conversation, though.
Doc manages to catch him in the galley at about three in the morning. Thunderhorse was off abusing the malfunctioning Maid, while Doc was watching what at first appeared to be a brain transplant, but was in fact a sex change operation. The Atharan patient was having a large, single gonad installed in his (formerly her) skull, replacing the uterus that was there. Doc drinks some single malt whiskey, quickly, as the vulva still on his/her face is quite disturbing.
Steve comes in and sits down next to Doc. He orders a roast beef sandwich, looks briefly at the TV, then changes his order to chicken salad. He also orders a vodka martini.
"What's up, Doc?" Doc asks.
"Everything and nothing," the doctor replies. "That autopilot is hopeless. There's just not enough TerraRAM slots in his cerebral processor housing, and his systems are not compatible with ExoRAM. I need to either get a bigger cranial unit or buy a less complicated space ship."
"Sounds rough," Doc replies as he sips his whiskey. "What about the overcoat? Figure out where that wormhole goes?"
Steve slams his martini belligerently. "See, that's the whole damn problem with quantum physics. Fucking Schrodinger. Right now, it goes anywhere, AND EVERYWHERE. At once. It's all in flux. We won't be able to collapse the waveform and KNOW until we go into it. But I want to have some kind of idea of where the fuck we'll end up. These kinds of calculations take forever. Sure, I could weld together a metal cup or something right now, open up a wormhole in it, plant a small time bomb on it so that it cracks open in 2199, and keep it in on the space ship in deep space for the next 360 years. Theoretically, we should show up right where we want to be without any dicking around. But you know what?" Dr. Ritenrong stops to drink from his second martini.
The pause goes on. "What?" asks Doc.
"Theories are horseshit. Do you have any idea what could happen in the next 360 years? Of course you do, you're a damned historian. There's no way to guarantee that that cup will make it that far, or worse, not go too far. What if the explosive doesn't go off in time? What if the stabilizers fail and the ship drifts into the sun? What if space pirates attack? You know what, they will. All of that will happen. And it won't happen. It will be a totally random chance where we end up. Believe me, I've tried it.
"The only way to reliably navigate time is to find something that you know will take you where you want to be. Something you can trace the history of from start to end. That corncob pipe was a perfect example. All we had to do is open a wormhole in it, jump in, and leave it to its natural course through our timeline. It would take us exactly where we want to be. I spent months doing the research and calculations, and that idiot judge fucked it all up."
Dr. Ritenrong drinks some more. The cook brings him his salad, but he's no longer hungry. He picks at it a bit.
"You know, I never thought my career would end up like this. I spent forty years researching wormhole and time travel. When I finally worked it out, when I finished my sketch of the Q-TIP's mechanism on the fridge, I showed up at my own door. Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever opened your door and saw yourself on the other side? It'll mess you up, man.
"I came in to my apartment and told myself 'The galaxy will be destroyed and only you can stop it.' Then I handed me the Q-TIP and jumped into a coffee cup, which promptly fell off the table and smashed into pieces. Damnit, why am I so damned cryptic, sometimes? I guess it's because no one payed attention to me in school." He finishes his martini and orders another.
"I spent the next five years trying to figure out what the hell I was talking about. I traveled time, backwards and forwards, studying and researching the fate of the galaxy and what I had to do with any of it. I also made a few bucks on the side, and got some swanky tenures at some respectable universities. Cambridge is my favorite. Did I tell you Isaac Newton is a good friend of mine?"
"No, you never mentioned that."
"Oh, yes. He's a reclusive, arrogant dick most of the time, but when he lets loose, it's a party." Steve chuckles to himself. "'Those aren't my knickers!' haha, classic." He smiles into his glass, and takes a sip. When he puts it down again, he's solemn. "Then I found my graveyard."
"Graveyard?" Doc asks.
"Yeah. After years of searching for answers, I finally figured out where the fuck I disappeared to all those years ...ago. I was in a cave in ancient China. So I went there, hoping to ask myself what I had seen that was so important. What I found was me, dead. Lots of me. There were at least twelve bodies, all me, all dead. I don't know what killed any of them, and I'm not sure I want to find out. They all just seemed to stop living. It's got to be something about narrowly escaping the cataclysm."
He shudders as he remembers. "On the walls were detailed the events that lead to my deaths. I suppose I put them there so they would be preserved. A map of various timelines, each leading to a disastrous outcome. The galaxy on the verge of destruction, having to escape to the past to pass the torch, so-to-speak, and then crawling into a cave to die. Is that what will happen to me? How many times will this go on?" He chugs back the rest of the drink.
"What happens in the future? How exactly is the galaxy destroyed?" Doc asks.
"See, it's this ship. Not this ship, a different one. I think," he slurs. "And it galaxies through movement at the light of speed. It uses an ex-tra-die-men-shin-al fuel star fueler thing to push it through the ex-tra-die-men-shins. Then it crashes into this thing, I donno whadit is. You can't see it its ex-tra-die-men-shin-al. But it crashes and BLOOOOOWS up into bits and pieces and then the galaxy disappears." Steve hiccups.
"A warship. Last time it happened it was a warship. First time, it was this ship. Thats why I bought it, so I know it doesn't go and blow everythings up. Every time the galaxy explodes I try to go back and change something to stop it. So first thing to do is buy this ship and make sure it doesn't go and crash into the whadderveritis. But then something else happens. After this ship, it was a space probe, so I blowed that up but then they just sent another one. So I stopped them sending probes but then a courier went through that sector and HE crashed. It took three lives just to stop that guy from taking a shortcut. I mean you think people want a galaxy instead of pizzas but, sheesh, some life forms. After the pizza guy, a damned warship goes through and IT hits the fucking thing. That was five lives ago, and I still haven't figured out how to stop it. Can't stop the war, I started it to stop the courier. Can't blow up the warship, it's a damned warship, and any other warship you send after the first will just go and crash its self. Can't just put up a sign saying 'DO NOT ENTER THIS SECTOR OF SPACE IT WILL CAUSE THE DESTRUCTION OF THE GALAXY' because too many depressed jerks would just race right the fuck out there and end the galaxy right now. Already tried it.
"Anyway, I can't thinkaboudit anymore tonight. Gotta sleep." Dr. Ritenrong slides off the bar stool and staggers off towards his room, crashing into a table and chairs as he leaves the galley.
The best dog in all of history, Saffron the Puppy Toes, went on to eternity last night. She was a German Shepard - Chao mix, crazy as hell, but a vigilant and loving defender of her family. Unfortunately, as she aged she was becoming more irritable and less discerning. While she thought she was defending the house from strangers, she turned on the wrong person, her daddy and my good friend, Will. She bit his hand rather badly, requiring a hospital trip. With three big dogs and a baby on the way, an aggressive dog like Toes with a deteriorating sense of friend and foe could no longer be contained in such a small house, and the decision was made to put her down. RIP Saffron.
I have been actually working at work lately and doing chores for the woman at home, and have not had much time to write this week. Next up is some background on Steve and the outlines for the next mission. Doc, are you going to post "Twas a Rough Night" or can I use it to jump off with the next chapter? I didn't want to read the draft but then I saw the comments on "Killing Time" so I did and it is good.
In the mean time, here's some comics I quite enjoy:
Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic
The Order of the Stick
Viz Comics, via the Something Awful forums
"Why do we go in the booth, again?" Thunderhorse asks. His eyes are red from days of watching movies and drinking beer.
"To learn how to use guns," Doc responds. His eyes are equally red from days of reading and drinking coffee.
It's been almost a week since they returned from Earth, and Doc has done nothing but study and watch the occasional movie with Thunderhorse. Thunderhorse has been learning about Earth history, guns, the film industry, and reading. The latter is not going so well, but progress is being made. Thunderhorse has been enjoying Westerns and gangster films. World War 2 movies scare the hell out of him.
This morning, Doc decided it was time for a break from the routine. He'd been reading about the Holobooths, and thought it would be good to try them out, finally. Fortunately, it seems Dr. Ritenrong has a western style game on file.
The two step into the spherical booths on either end of the lounge. The world they enter is dark, save for a pair of doors behind them.
"Load the Shoot Out! program, computer," Doc commands. The computer complies.
The black world becomes light as a bright sun rises over an old desert town. Doc is surprised to find that he's wearing a cowboy hat and chaps, along with a belt laden with a six-shooter. Thunderhorse is even more surprised to find himself in the same condition.
"What is this magic?" he asks, without the usual fury as he's becoming accustomed to the strangeness of his new surroundings.
"It's an illusion. We're going to play a game."
"We're in a Western!" Thunderhorse is excited. "Will we meet the Outlaw Josey Wales? What about Lee of Marvin?"
"I don't know. This is more of a High Noon game, or The Quick and the Dead, remeber that one?"
Thunderhorse pulls out his revolver. He looks it over, examining its parts. Doc had previously explained the function and concept of guns to him, but this is the first time he's held one. He pulls the trigger, almost by accident.
Doc feels a physical jolt as his world goes black. A giant, laughing skull appears hovering above letters a hundred feet tall; "YOU LOSE!" Momentarily, the world becomes bright again, and he's back on the deserted road with Thunderhorse.
"HAHAHA! That was funny! Let me do it again!"
Thunderhorse takes aim with the revolver, but this time Doc whips his revolver up and plugs the viking before he gets a shot off. Thunderhorse flies back and hits the ground. After a short moment, he fades away and re-appears standing again.
"That was not so funny," Thunderhorse says, rather upset by the experience.
The small town is not much more than a road lined with a dozen wood buildings, and desert surrounding them in every direction. The place looks real enough, but feels artificial. Something about the lighting, the textures, the sounds and smells seems fake or unrefined. It's probably just a cheap game.
The town has a general store, a church with a clock tower, a bank, a saloon, a sheriff's office, a stable, a few houses, and a mansion at each end of the road. A brief conversation with the poorly animated town drunk outside the saloon reveals the basic plot of the game: the two rival families are having a quick draw tournament to see who is the fastest gun in the west. The prize is one million dollars.
There are a selection of weapons in the general store, and not much else. In fact, the only thing for sale besides weapons and ammo is a change of outfit. Whiskey can be bought at the saloon, but it doesn't seem to have much effect other than tasting like bad whiskey. The two start with $5, just enough money to enter the first round of the tournament. Thunderhorse has already spent his on whiskey.
A sign on the road points to a "practice area" out in the desert, where rabbits, cactus, and birds regularly spawn and disappear, kind of like a realistic shooting gallery. The two go out to warm up.
Doc is doing okay. Every time he hits a target, a little ching! sound tells him he's made more money, 10 cents for cactus, 25 for rabbits, and a dollar for a bird. Ammunition here seems to be infinite. Thunderhorse is having a hell of a time. It's easy enough for him to pull the trigger, but he hasn't gotten the whole aiming thing down. He keeps flinging the gun forward before he pulls the trigger, as if he must sling the bullet out.
Doc helps him out with this a bit, and Thunderhorse is ecstatic when the bullet finally hits a cactus and the little ching! goes in his pocket. "Hooray! I have destroyed the green thing!" He keeps trying, getting a little better as he goes.
Doc leaves Thunderhorse to practice while he decides to go start the tournament mode. To do so, he must pick a family to sponsor him, either the "Bucks" or the "Reds." Doc goes with the Bucks because their mansion is closer. He pays his five dollars and the fight begins immediately. He is called out to the street by a grizzly looking bandito. The townspeople line the street, conveniently blocking all exits.
The mayor referees the fight. "At the sound of the bell, draw!" The bandito has a few inane chatter loops, insulting Doc's mother in the most politically correct ways possible. The sound of the clock ticking is amplified, and it's magically ten seconds to noon.
When the bell tolls, Doc draws and fires. His opponent is almost hilariously slow on the draw, and falls quickly. The mayor shouts "Doc wins!" with the "Doc" part poorly tacked on. $10 falls into his pocket.
After a few rounds of this, Doc has enough cash to start buying new weapons. He picks out a shotgun and a rifle and takes them out to Thunderhorse for him to try. Thunderhorse is still at the shooting range. He's getting better, missing only every three of four shots instead of all of them always. He's reloading the pistol when Doc arrives.
Doc hands Thunderhorse the rifle. It's a poor replication of a Winchester, but it will work for now. "Here. Try this one." Doc shows Thunderhorse how to use it. Thunderhorse tries to hold it like the pistol, but Doc corrects him. Thunderhorse fires and misses. It's obvious Thunderhorse is uncomfortable with it. Aiming and precision is just not his thing. Doc gives him the shotgun instead. It's a simple single-shot, short barreled shotgun.
One blast and Thunderhorse is in love. The shot easily takes out a rabbit. "Now this I like," Thunderhorse remarks. He reloads it and keeps on shooting, hollering with excitement when he lets off a blast. He's hitting almost every shot with this.
Doc practices alternatively with the rifle and the pistol while Thunderhorse enjoys the shotgun. As they shoot the targets, they shoot the breeze as well.
"What's it like living in the Winterlands, Thunderhorse?" Doc asks.
"It is a hard life, not like here. Here we eat whatever we desire, whenever we desire. In Hilton, our farms were small, and could only grow very little, for the warm seasons were very short. We either bought our food from the city, Venis, or we simply took it from others. If you wanted meat, you had to kill a sheep, but sheep are well protected. They cost many gar, and thus were kept safe behind the city walls.
"The city of Venis is large place, even larger than the place we saw on Earth, although it only has one tall building, the Tower of Venis. It is the seat of Nathan the Pickled, King of Venis and self proclaimed ruler of the Winterlands. No one beyond the city walls accepted him as king. We of Hilton live for ourselves, and deny any man who would rule us. But that did not stop him from sending his armies into our town to burn our homes and take our women.
"King Nathan proclaimed he was protecting the country side from brigands and thieves, and that he was bringing peace to the land. Ha! If he had simply shared his grains and wine and sheep with us, we would not need to kill his men and steal. My fathers tell me stories of the days before Venis, when we would ride across the seas, looking for a home; a land rich in soil and beasts. When my fathers arrived at the Winterlands, it was a warm and green place. But when the snows came, Nathan's fathers killed and raped and stole our food, locking it away behind their stone walls.
"Some say it was an evil spirit that possessed Nathan's family and cursed the land. Other say he hides a frost giant below the tower, who bring with him snows and death while giving the king power and wealth. I think this is true. It was a frost giant who led us astray all those years riding through the wastelands. He clouded our vision with snow and wind and killed us with frostbite and starvation. That frost giant was protecting King Nathan, for if we had reached the Tower, we would have laid it in ruins.
"I will return there, someday, and have my revenge. If what you say is true, and we can travel through time its self, then we can save Hilton together, keep Jazelle safe, and crush Venis with our mighty thunder slings!" Thunderhorse fires the shotgun, hitting a bird. He smiles with pride.
Hologames are the latest in state-of-the-art entertainment. They have pushed the boundaries of artistic expression and physical simulation to the limits of sensory input. Once immersed in a program, the average viewer will not be able to distinguish it from reality. In the hands of a master programmer, a holo simulation can be absolutely realistic to even the most discerning eye.
To play a hologame, one must have access to a holobooth. A holobooth is a hollow, gyroscopically mounted sphere lined with high resolution plasma diodes, laser projectors, infrared sensors, air pressure regulators, speakers, microphones, and scent replicators. The combined effect is total immersion and freedom of movement in a world of the programmer's creation.
While holobooth technology can be used for business, such as planning an architectual design or holding teleconferences, they are mostly used for entertainment. Some programs are passive, allowing the user to experience movies or famous events in history without all that dangerous mucking about with time travel. But the most frequently used programs are, of course, video games.
Older holobooths require a player to bring their own props and costumes, but modern versions use a variety of techniques to fully simulate every aspect of a player's character. Using air pressure, electromagnetic nerve stimulus, and good old fashioned optical illusions an empty handed player could swear he's holding a gun, sword, dildo, etc; whatever the game designer dreams.
Unlike traditional video-only games, hologames can train a wide range of abilities beyond hand-eye coordination. You can learn to fly, operate heavy weaponry, become a sex god and/or goddess, learn kung-fu, or anything else you can afford. Even the EDF Marines use holosimulations to train their troops and pilots.
The Younger Brother Pear has two available holobooths in the media room, which can be linked together for a shared simulation. The following programs are on file, but more can be purchased over Q-Net. Simply make a suggestion and the computer will bring up a list of available programs and pricing.
MARV-IN Design Explorer: Explodable schematics of every system on the ship
Zombie Invasion!: Fight off endless zombie hordes with a limited set of weapons
Shoot-out: Challenge your speed and accuracy in this old west quick draw tournament.
Olympiad 2400: Try your hand at various track-and-field events from around the galaxy
Space Racers: An exciting space flight racing simulator
Calm Seas: A relaxation program, lots of strolling along an empty beach.
Debbie Does Dallas CCXVI: Sorry, non-interactive.
Star Hearts 7: An embarrassingly cutesy cartoonish RPG. Dr. Ritenrong claims this was left over from the previous owners, he just hasn't gotten around to deleting it.
In 2092, a scientific breakthrough that would change the galaxy forever was made. A professor at MIT named Ronald "Rox" Yusoksof opened the first anti-temporal wormhole in a coffee cup in his laboratory. The walls to the higher dimensions had finally been broken. This was the dawn of the Galacitc Era.
The first use of this technology was used for archeology. Excursions were made back in time to gather scientific information and samples from the past while experimenting with the nature of causality. Famous time explorers such as Enri Watson and Lucas Shaw risked their lives in perilous journeys back into the unknown. Some of them, including Shaw, never returned.
The obvious military applications of time travel were never (officially) harnessed. In 2096 the Pact for the Non-Militarization of Time was made between all Earth's countries and the Exkoreans. It was decided that the risk of causal paradox was too great; if the US destroyed North Korea before the war, the wormhole may never be invented, thus they could not have done what they did. Excursions into the past, much like the first excursions into space, were limited to reconnaissance only.
The technology also broke the lightspeed barrier. By opening a wormhole into the second tier spacial dimensions and placing an engine and fuel there, ships could harness reactionless Newtonian motion. In 2108, the first FTL explorer vessel was launched, and contact was made with the Alpha Centaurians, a much older yet woefully underdeveloped race still living in huts and yurts after 20,000 years of evolution. We didn't even have computers then. God, we suck.
It was not long before the Exkoreans acquired this technology, as well. This was the start of the First Solar War, the most awesome war in all of Earth's history. In 2120 the Exkoreans launched a fleet of FTL warships from a hidden factory on the asteroid Ceres towards Earth, taking Earth defense forces totally by surprise. Martian outposts had willingly joined the Exkoreans already, since they had better resources and capabilities to survive on that barren desert world. Earth's remaining Lunar outposts fell quickly in the first strike.
Although their orbital defenses were able to fend off most of the invasion fleet, the individual nations of Earth found it far too costly to maintain the effort indefinitely. Cities were being bombarded, nuclear weapons were being dropped from orbit, and Exkorean drop ships were starting to land. The economy of the United States of North America collapsed again under the strain. Thus, in 2121 what remained of the USNA federal government and the rudimentary United Nations joined to become the United States of Earth.
United at last, Earth was able to bring to bear the entirety of the planet's military power and resources. Earth Defense Forces were able to destroy the Exkorean landers and push their mother ships out of orbit. They took back the moon, and pushed the war back out into the Solar system. By 2129 the EDF had reached the Asteroid Belt. During the Battle of Ceres, an important Exkorean weapons factory was destroyed by the heroic final efforts of the Pink 5 Starfighter Squadron, finally turning the tide of the war.
The war came to a stalemate when the EDF and Exkorean, now both locked in a difficult and endless struggle in the Asteroid Belt, began strapping FTL engines onto large asteroids and aiming them at Mars and Earth. Neither side wanted their planet utterly destroyed, and neither side wanted to utterly destroy the resource rich planets. The USE had the upper hand, however, since they were more willing to blow the wastelands of Mars into deep space than the Democratic People's Republic of Exkoreans was to destroy the rich and fertile Earth.
The stalemate lasted for several decades until Martain resources could no longer support the Exkoreans. In 2177, an agreement was reached. Earth provided provisions and resources to the Exkoreans, and the Exkoreans agreed to leave the star system and look for fertile ground elsewhere in the galaxy. The Exkoreans left the Sol system in 2185, and Mars was handed over to the USE.
With the war finally over, Earth was free to explore the galaxy. Over the next century, humans spread out, populating every inhabitable planet, making friends and enemies everywhere, and trading their FTL drives and other advanced technologies for places to live and thrive. They laid the foundations for the Galactic Congress and other galactic organizations to regulate trade, mediate conflicts, and to guarantee personal rights for every sentient being.
In 2248, the Exkoreans made contact once again, from the opposite side of the galaxy. They had found an uninhabited, fertile world and named it Saettang, or New Ground. The Saettans began a wave of military expansion the likes of which the Galaxy had never seen before or again. They swiftly conquered all inhabited worlds in the 6th Galactic Sector, enslaving their peoples and using whole worlds resources to build up their army. In 2269, the Alliance of Paruvian Planets made a drastic appeal to the Galactic Congress to stop the Saettan Empire from taking their planet. The EDF and an alliance of friendly planets took up the cause and agreed to help. The Galactic Alliance was formed, and to this day they fight to keep the Saettan Empire from spreading.
This author has read many Q-Net entries on the future of the war, but like all future-net entries they tend to change a lot. Maybe the past ones do too, but there's no saying if that's happened or not because I wouldn't know if it did. There could be Time Wars going on RIGHT NOW and we'll never know. Even if the past does change, this writing would change right along with it. That's so freaky to think about. Anyway, in this author's opinion, the war will eventually be won by the Galactic Alliance in a critical battle over Saettang by a brave young Alpha Centaurian and his beautiful human mate. They will togther in an epic space battle with the evil Saettang, dodging nuclear blasts and particle bursts and diving into the atmosphere blowing up the Neopyongyag city central reactor core, devastating the entire planet and flying off into the galactic core to make love and live forever in peace and happiness.
Anyway, regardless of the war and devastation, humans are the best thing ever to happen to the galaxy. They've come a long way in a short time. They're prolific, intelligent, beautiful creatures, with sleek, four limbed forms and their furless bodies, two eyes, and powerful genitalia brb
Posted by humanfan23, 2318 CE. Entry never completed.
The Americans decided to leave the Middle East in the 2010's. The region was in turmoil while religious leaders and politicians vied for power in the area. Eventually, Iran stepped forward as the major power in the region. The smaller states of the region unified under its leader's persuasive religious ideology. Mussad Al Mardiin was able to bring together the disparate states with anti-semitic rhetoric, the same strategy used by Germany eighty years earlier.
In 2021, Mordiin threatened the use of nuclear weapons on the Jewish state of Israel, essentially for being Jewish. The hot-headed American "rock star" president Zachary Edlebrock retaliated by threatening to nuke the entire area if the Israelies and Iranians didn't "shut the fuck up about the god-damned holy land." This, of course, was scandalous, but President Edlebrock's career and political power seemed to thrive greatly on scandal.
When Iran finally attempted an invasion on Israel later that year, President Edlebrock made good on his promise. Following a very brief but intense and totally wicked awesome air battle between Israel, Iran, and the United States, all major military targets, factories, and cities in both Iran and Israel were destroyed with nuclear weapons. The once "holy land" remained a radioactive wasteland for centuries.
Earth's other nuclear powers were outraged at the American actions, and threatened retaliation if the US didn't do something to rectify the situation. President Edlebrock was quickly impeached, tried, and executed for mass murder. To his credit, he plead guilty to all charges and had his own Attorney General prosecute the case. His famous quote, "Kill all killers then kill yourself," was made as he ran himself through with a sword in a traditional act of Seppuku, followed quickly by a lethal injection and a hanging. The whereabouts of all his remains are still unknown.
The nuclear war was the last straw for both the American political climate and the Earth's ozone layer. Several thousand oil fields caught fire in the blast and sent poisonous gases into the atmosphere, greatly accelerating the oncoming greenhouse effect. Countries neighboring the nuclear hot-zones demanded environmental reparations and support for the flood of refugees.
As America collapsed into depression and the global temperature soared, the Chinese took the lead as Earth's reigning power. Their economy had thrived on America's spiral downwards. It soon became apparent, however, that the Chinese economy was as flimsy as the materials used to build their cars. As the Chinese people became richer, more manufacturing was outsourced overseas to cheap American labor.
By the 2070's, both America and China were equalized as super-powers on Earth. The US had reconfigured into the United States of North America, including both Canadian and Mexican provinces. Environment suits and medical advances had been greatly accelerated by the conditions now present in the Middle East. Environmental control systems and non-gasoline powered vehicles were invented to combat the growing global warming crisis. Cold fusion had been harnessed at last. The first permanent Martian colonies were established, and humankind was on its way across the galaxy.
In 2082, the long dormant country of North Korea re-emerged. Feeling that its once friendly neighbor, China, had abandoned its Communist ideals for Capitalism. North Korea declared war on China and the Unites States by launching fighters into space to destroy satellites and communications systems. Space had long been kept un-militarized by mutual agreement, but North Korea had finally broken that pact.
By continually knocking out satellite communications, North Korea had effectively wiped out a good portion of command and control. This kept their borders safe for nearly three years. In that time, they were able to launch military colonies and factories to the Moon, Mars, and several asteroids. The North Korean borders on Earth were soon overwhelmed, but invading Chinese and US forces were surprised to find seemingly endless resistance coming from nowhere. It was soon discovered that the North Koreans had spent the last hundred years building a huge underground complex to house nearly four fifths of their population, all of whom were in the military.
The years underground had greatly advanced the North Koreans' ability to survive in space. Although their home on Earth was overtaken and captured, they had already established themselves on Mars and the Moon. By the 2090's the conflict had died down greatly while the North Koreans, now referred to as the Ex-Koreans, built up their forces and resources elsewhere in the solar system. Minor skirmishes still occurred on the moon and in the asteroid fields.
To be continued further
Earth is one of the most important and influential planets in all the galaxy. Humans were the first species to break the light barrier and unify the galaxy. Their tenacious drive, indominable spirit, and ruthless assholery has made them the most successful and prolific race in the known universe.
Earth was formed about 10.5 billion years after the Big Bang in the Sol System. Its first sentient species, the Octopodians, remained dormant at the very bottom of the oceans for much of the Earth's history. A race of introverted philosophers, their choice to sit at the bottom of the Earth's seas and reflect upon themselves and existence didn't get them very far up the evolutionary ladder, and no one was even aware of them (except the occasional hungry sperm whale) until mankind began colonizing the sea floor late in the 23rd century. There had of course been wild stories about sunken cities and ancient wisdom, but no one seriously believed a word of it.
The Earth's second sentient species, the Dinosaurs, left Earth in a big hurry when the largest of their nuclear reactors underwent a catastrophic meltdown. The resulting blast was on the scale of a large meteor impact and left the entire planet devastated for thousands of years, nearly wiping clean all traces of their civilization. In time, mammalian life got a foothold, and what was left of the Dinosaurs evolved into feathered birds. No one knows exactly what happened to the Dinosaurs after they left Earth. Many doubt they could've gotten very far. What little we know about their civilization suggests they were far too stupid to have achieved faster-than-light travel. They are either endlessly floating frozen through space or dead.
Earth's third sentient species, the Dolphins, are such gregarious sexaholics they never got around to inventing an inclined plane let alone an interstellar vessel. Their communications skills are some of the most advanced in the galaxy, however, and were a great force in helping humans become a dominant force in the galaxy once the communications barrier was breeched.
Humans were the fourth sentient species to evolve on Earth. Their perfect balance of intelligence and mobility allowed them to evolve intellectually faster than any other species in the galaxy. They are primate descendants, have only two legs, two arms, two eyes, and one set of genitalia apiece, generally speaking.
Humans overcame their evolutionary cousins, the Neanderthals, by the traditional means, out fighting and out fucking them. Within ten thousand years they already had invented agriculture, masonry, beer, and all the other fundamentals of civilization. Only a couple of thousand years after that, they were working with metals, navigating oceans, conquering large swaths of land, and even working with gunpowder.
Unlike most civilizations, the invention of explosives did not mean their immediate doom. Although there were some extremely bloody wars during this period of Earth's history, overall they were relatively short and decisive. Humans have an innate moral quality in that their desire to not get blown up eventually wins over their desire to blow things up.
Human history is short but intense. Unlike your average planet, where two species might war with each other for thousands of years with no clear victor and result in the utter destruction of cultures, or a single species lives together in harmony for eons without significant achievement, Earth's pattern of a single species warring with its self produces a much more limited, fruitful conflict. Wars last just long enough to make advances in technology but not wholly devastate entire populations.
The best example of this is the Earth's 18th through 22nd centuries. Throughout this period, Earth underwent its most bloody and devastating wars (most lasting less than a decade) and made the fastest technological advancements of any species ever known; from men on horseback with lances and fireworks to interstellar space travel and galactic conquest within 400 years.
The most influential war on Earth, perhaps in the galaxy, was the Second World War. In this conflict, a country from the European continent called Germany rose from the ashes of the previous World War to begin conquering the continent, taking back lands they had lost, and killing those whom they thought had wronged them. The Germans took advantage of technology and tactics learned from the previous conflict, accelerated the production process, and refined their devices to be the fastest, strongest, and most powerful war machines on Earth.
To counter this, the people of the American continent used their own massive production capacity and resources, combined with the tactics and experience of the people of the British island to create an army just as swift and powerful. They, alone would not have been able to conquer the Germans. However, the German Chancellor, Adolf Hitler, while a charismatic leader, was a hideously bad tactician. His decision to bring another superpower, Russia, into the fight was the downfall of the National Socialist Empire. Russia proved to be an equally capable producer of mass destruction, and their retaliation for the attempted German invasion was swift and decisive. Germany was quickly surrounded and crushed by both sides.
The Americans still had to deal with Germany's allies across the globe in Japan. The technical advances in radar and aviation allowed Americans to get close enough to their main land to deploy yet another advanced weapon, the Atomic Bomb. Built upon the recently discovered concepts of the relativity of energy and matter and using captured German scientists, the Atomic bomb proved to be a devastating weapon, the use of which promptly ended the conflict.
However, the Americans and their allies now faced the Russian government, who also discovered the secrets of nuclear warfare. Usually, the discovery of nuclear fission means the demise of that species. Not so, in human history. The nuclear war remained cold, with only the threat of mutually assured destruction keeping each side at bay. This proved to be very fruitful, indeed, as the tension and threat of utter devastation lead to major advancements in aerospace technology, taking mankind into outer space for the first time in the 1960's.
There were some minor heated conflicts over the positioning of weapons, political ideologies, natural resources, and personal vendettas during this time, but full scale nuclear conflict never occurred. Eventually, the Soviet Union collapsed under the economic strain and left the United States as the sole superpower on Earth.
Technical evolution did not stagnate, however, as the global conflict had left wakes of instability across the planet. Most notably, the Middle East. A major oil resource, both sides had tried to gain allies and territory in the region. When the Cold War ended, pressure from the Soviet Union collapsed. The people there turned their attention fully on the United States. Although hopelessly outgunned, their persistent hit-and-run strikes (or more often, hit-and-die) combined with American political unrest gave the Middle Eastern rebels enough power to hold their ground.
To be continued.
Medical Association of Disembodied Brains
In order to become a great surgeon, one must dedicate his life to study and practice, leaving time for little else. Several great, noble minds have donated themselves to this pursuit, so you don't have to. The Medical Association of Disembodied Brains, or MADB (pronounced "mad bee"), are a collection of the greatest doctors and surgeons the galaxy has ever produced. Their central nervous systems are housed in jars on the planet Faer Fecheed in the Pegasus 31 star system. They can perform any operation, anywhere, anytime, through the operation of Remote Robotic Surgeons over Q-Net. They bring to bear the most advanced knowledge available throughout all known time-space, and are considered miracle workers by many. Their fees, however, are absolutely astronomical, and their services often are beyond the reach of entire planetary economies. Thus, they only directly work with very important, very wealthy people. At a lesser yet still outrageous cost, however, they provide a series of preprogrammed techniques that a Remote Robotic Surgeon can perform autonomously, with the assistance of "lesser" medical professionals.
Remote Robotic Surgeon
A Robotic Surgeon is a device that houses a variety of tools, scanners, and instruments for diagnosing and treating illness or performing surgery. They can be preprogrammed to perform a specific technique or operation, or they can be controlled remotely. A doctor can perform an appendectomy or other routine tasks with the push of a button. While advanced models are highly adaptable in cases of emergency, most of the time a highly trained medical professional must be nearby to assist it, if not take over in case something goes horribly wrong.
This became legally required when the Prime Minister of Toadalrekaal was undergoing a sextuple bypass of his secondary heart by a totally autonomous unit, as part of a demonstration of I-Robot DoctorNetics Division's new technology. His primary heart experienced an attack during the operation, and the machine decided to remove it. Unfortunately, there was only one spare part cloned for the secondary heart, and it was placed in the primary position. It was not strong enough to withstand yet another heart attack, the fifth of the operation so far and the ninteenth of the day. He died on the table. Witnesses claim that if the machine had been under sentient supervision, it wouldn't have removed the primary heart and the Prime Minister would still be alive today. Others claim there was no way the fat bastard was going to live to see lunchtime, anyway.
The Toadalrekaalian Parliament, notably upset, appealed to the Galactic Congress to enact laws requiring a medical professional to supervise all automated surgeries. This legislation passed easily. Hal Kubrik, CEO of I-Robot at the time, claimed that the bill went so quickly because the Galactic Congress are a "load of fat fucking bastards, themselves."
It is interesting to note that the Galactic Capitol had, at the time, recently been rebuilt and its foundation reinforced with heavy-duty earthquake shock absorbers, even though it is built on a geologically dead planet.
Cloning and Genetics
Cloning is the process of replicating tissues, organs, or even entire life forms from a small sample of genetic materials. Modern Clone-o-mats are capable of growing replacement organs in a matter of minutes or even seconds. Full body replacement procedures are growing less expensive and less time consuming. However, neural information transfers are still an infant technology and highly problematic. Brain transplants are still the preferred technique. With the right equipment, a skilled doctor can revive a being from the dead as long as the brain is still mostly intact.
More advanced Clone-o-mats have a gene-splicing function, whereby samples of genetic material from two distinct organisms can be combined in a controlled and selective manner. This is extensively used by many of the galaxy's armies and navies to enhance their soldiers. It is also widely used by the body-mod communities, transsexuals, and other-kin (those who feel they were born the wrong species) .
Fully cloned replacements are illegal, but the practice is widespread. Spy agencies use them to place their own brainwashed versions of dignitaries into positions of power. Autopolygamist compounds are a constant target of raids by the Galactic Bureau of Knowing Things. Some people are just so lonely, or have such a huge ego, that they can only accept themselves at their best friends and thus they have themselves illegally cloned.
The main issue with full cloning is neural information transfer, which more often than not leaves the subjected clones brain dead when their neurons reject the input knowledge. Science has not fully answered why this procedure is so delicate, however some theorists suggest that the new neurons refuse to accept the stupid ideas of the old. Testing this has been inconclusive, probably because a neural transfer is a stupid idea in the first place.
Nanobots and Nanotech
Nanotechnology has been called the greatest advancement in science and technology in the history of lifekind. It has also been called the greatest disaster ever achieved by hubris.
Nanobots are microscopic robots which can be used for a variety of tasks. Most are autonomous, but some, especially older versions, must be operated via remote control. Their main use is in medicine, although they are also used in industry. Their expense has limited their use in the private sector, but some household applications have been designed, such as cleaning and maintenance.
Nanobots can be used to target cancers, viruses, bacterias, hemorrhages, and a whole host of medical situations. They can be injected, swallowed, or inhaled, depending on their function. Once in the host body, they will seek out their target and work to repair it. When their task is complete, they power down and are excreted by the body. Some versions can be recovered for re-use.
Some nanobots are designed to persist in the system and perform regular maintenance, enhance bodily functions, or even assist the body in repairing its self. These sorts of bots are incredibly expensive, however, and are most often used by soldiers and porn stars.
Nanobots can have military applications as well, not only in enhancing soldiers but in disabling or even killing enemies. Airborne nanobots can infect an enemy soldier and target specific organs or muscles to disable them, or simply liquify them from the inside out. These highly lethal and painfully slow attacks are banned by Civil Warfare Convention, but are still often used by ruthless warlords and space pirates.
High intensity electromagnetic pulses can effectively stop older, electronics reliant nanobots, however, modern and advanced nanobots are biologically programmed. The only sure way to destroy the invaders is to send in other nanobots, usually referred to as "antiboties." Entire wars have been fought in the bowels of dignitaries.
There are certain forms of nanobots which do not enter living tissues at all. They can be used to repair electronics or mechanics, or are even part of such structures themselves. Fluid-wing aircraft use nanobots attached to their hulls as wings, which can reconfigure themselves to provide stable flight in any situation. Some robotics are made entirely out of these nanobot colonies, making them highly reconfigurable and suitable for any purpose. These nanobot colonies are often referred to as liquid metal robotics or Quicksilvers, since they look like a living pool of mercury.
The catastrophe most detractors of nanotechnology refer to is, of course, the Grey Goo. In 3613 the planet Eisse 9 was entirely consumed by self-replicating nanobots. These bots were designed to be a self-healing liquid metal. They break apart atomic structures and reconfigure atoms and molecules into new nanobots. The process was supposed to stop once the predetermined limit was reached, but the control structure failed and the entire planet was consumed in a matter of minutes. The entire star system is now under quarantine. Efforts to destroy them have failed, and the only option is to wait several million years until their sun enters its red-giant phase and destroys them. Some have suggested destroying the planet before the Eissians create the disaster, but that act has been held up indefinitely by lobbyists for the Coalition for the Unaltered Normalcy of Time.
Nanobots cannot be purchased through Q-Net replication units, as replicators do not have the resolution to create and assemble the tiny parts. Nanobots must be purchased through an authorized dealer. An objective list of dealers can be found at the Galactic Commerce Regulations portal, but why not shop at Krazy Kahoona's Big Shop o' Nano Bots! on the third moon of Rigel 3? We've got the best deals on any kind of nanotech you need! Open five years after the solar event that wiped out Rigel 2.
Editor's note: I would like to apologize for the unobjective interjection made by representatives of Mr. Kahoona, however he really does have the best deals in history. His store exists in 3179 through 3192. If you ever exist in that era, pay him a visit.
A particle-laser is a high energy particle beam directed to a target by an ionizing laser. They can be pulsed (or phased) or sustained beams of electrons, ionized gas (usually helium), or, more rarely, positrons.
Electron particle-lasers will burn through skin, boil internal fluids, and disrupt nervous systems. They can also create deadly levels of X-Ray via Bremsstrahlung interaction (or breaking radiation) if it collides with a lead surface, thus the weapon penetrates most gamma ray shielding, great for killing off people hiding in a solar-storm shelter. There is a slight threat of bounce-back radiation exposure, so it is recommended that one only fire this weapon while properly shielded.
Ion particle-lasers rely more on the kinetic impact of the high energy particles than any heat or residual effects of the interaction. The mass of particles combined with the near-lightspeed velocities combine to have a similar effect of hitting someone with a train. The projected energy is considered alpha radiation, so there are health risks associated with chronic exposure to reflected energy, but not as much so as the electron beams and certainly much less than the positron beams.
Positron particle-lasers are much rarer and mostly used in a vacuum as the beam tends to detonate violently in an atmosphere, although some ionizing laser systems are capable of clearing a vacuum through which the particles may travel safely. Upon impact with a target, the positrons undergo anti-matter annihilation, releasing incredible amounts of energy often vaporizing the target instantly. The resulting explosion also releases large amounts of gamma rays and x-rays, which can possibly kill surrounding targets or disrupt ships' systems. These weapons are usually mounted for ship-to-ship combat, but are sometimes used in conjunction with heavily shielded combat suits or Mecha-armor.
The weapons can come in multiple configurations, from personal fire arms including pistols, assault rifles, and sniper rifles, to vehicle mounted cannons and even planetary defense. Most hand held weapons of this nature are pulsed, as it only takes a brief burst of energy to render a single opponent incapacitated. Anti-ship or vehicle weapons often have a sustained beam. Some hand-held devices are adjustable in this respect.
The power systems come in a range of sizes and styles. Of course, vehicular mounted systems draw power from the central reactor core. Personal firearms require portable energy packs, usually in the form of batteries. Ion style particle-lasers require an additional ion pack, while the proton version requires an antimatter containment pack. Batteries, generators, and ammunition can be self contained magazines, backpacks, or integrated into armor.
The power needed to emit these particle beams is so great that the self-contained magazine batteries are often made of extremely volatile, highly energy-dense materials. Weapons designers take advantage of this, and most particle-laser clips can also be set to detonate on their own as grenades or bombs. These highly volatile materials are often very difficult if not impossible to recharge, and must be discarded. The exception to this is antimatter containers, which can be refueled from a generator.
Since the particle beams are magnetic in nature, a strong enough magnetic field can deflect or absorb the incoming particle beam. Armors can be lined with microscopic wires to create a Faraday cage, reducing the effectiveness of electron beams. Ion particle beams can be stopped by layers of kinetic resistant armor. Positron beams require an ablative surface to neutralize them, but these usually don't last long.
Railguns are weapons systems which launch a small metallic projectile at near-light speeds using a magnetic force generated between two rails. The projectile uses sheer kinetic energy to destroy its target. The system can fire extremely rapidly, delivers a hell of a punch, but requires enormous amounts of power. Early systems were restricted to space and naval warfare, but as more power-dense batteries and generators were invented, smaller systems were built. They are great for use in space as they have no moving parts (other than auto-loading features) and thus do not require the grease or oils that render traditional firearms useless in a vacuum.
As with particle-lasers, the power requirements are quite large. A magazine for a railgun will usually include both ammunition and a battery. This battery is often extremely volatile, and the magazine can be used as a fragmentation grenade.
Personal railgun calibers are measured in microns or sometimes sub-mircons and can be very difficult to extract from a patient if thrown from a fragmentation explosion. Even though the bullet is very, very small, its sheer muzzle velocity can cause extreme damage to a target, often exploding chest cavities. The rapid fire feature on most weapons allows the user to create almost a "laser" beam of micro bullets, although this can have a hell of a kickback.
Since the bullets by nature are magnetic, they can be deflected by a strong magnetic field. Other ballistic armors, such as spider-webbing or ceramics, can be used to reduce their effectiveness, although much thicker layers are required as compared to traditional firearms.
Directed Energy Weapons
Directed energy weapons use either pressure waves or electromagnetic waves to incapacitate a target. Often, these are non-lethal.
Directed Energy Weapons include sonic weapons either as irritants or concussive blasts, pain guns which use a microwave frequency to directly irritate the nerves, soft lasers used either to simply dazzle or blind a target, or thermal lasers that can do real damage.
None of these systems (except some thermal lasers) require the amount of power output as particle-lasers or railguns, so their battery systems are often simple, rechargeable, and non-volatile.
The disadvantage of a thermal laser over a particle-laser is that the thermal laser often requires a sustained beam over a period of time to start doing any significant damage. Some very high-power vehicle mounted units are capable of vaporizing a human in a short burst, but these are impractical for that kind of use. The advantage of a thermal laser is much lower power requirements, but it takes longer. Magnetic shields are useless against them, but sufficient heat shielding or reflective surfaces will limit or stop the effects. They also do not emit radiation nor have any threat of secondary radiation effects, so they are much safer for the user.
In order to buy time for himself to study medical journals and read up on the equipment in his new lab, Doc had to find some way to occupy Thunderhorse. It is difficult to study when an alcoholic of his magnitude is pestering you to drink with him all the time.
So Doc introduced him to the movies. The screen in the living room is an enormous, parabolic high-resolution flat-screen. One cannot see the individual pixels on it even with a magnifying glass. The sound system is tremendous, as well. It's like having an I-Max in your own house.
"Moving tapestries?" Thunderhorse asks as they sit down on the plush, semicircular couch.
"Yes. People write stories, then painters draw them. Then actors perform them, and musicians play for them. It's all recorded on film, and we can watch it over and over," Doc explains.
"Film, like on milk?"
"No, a thin strip like a ribbon. The ribbon has the pictures on it, and if you shine a bright light through it, the picture appears on the wall. Move the strip past the light quickly, and the pictures change so fast it looks like they comes to life. That's how they used to do it, anyway. I'm not sure how this thing works, but the idea is the same."
Doc calls up Casablanca. They watch it together, the translator echoing every word. Doc laughs at his favorite lines and quotes the parts he knows by heart. Thunderhorse sits transfixed, hardly drinking his ale or even blinking. He's completely mezmorised by the show. He doesn't speak until the end.
"Why did he put his woman on the winged boat? Why did his friend become his enemy and then become his friend again? Where is this land, Casablanca? Do they really have bars like that? What was that instrument his slave was playing? Why did they all want that parchement? Do the Germans win the war? Where were their swords?" his questions flood the room. He hardly breaths between them.
Doc slows him down. "All in good time, my friend. We both have a lot to learn. Why don't you try asking the computer?"
Thunderhorse nods. He raises his arms to the ceiling. "Oh, mighty Computor, heed me!"
The ceiling dings at him inquisitively.
"Where is the land of Casablanca?"
The viewscreen switches to a political map of Africa from the 1930's and displays some factual information.
"See, this Computor of yours does not answer my questions."
"It's pointing it out to you on the map, see?"
"Map? What is this a map of?"
The computer responds and zooms back, displaying a globe laid out with political boundries, slowly spinning and displaying more information.
"What is this now? I do not understand these runes." The text switches from German in roman lettering to old Norse runes. Thunderhorse blinks. "These are the runes of the wizards!" He yells, averting his eyes.
"Can you read them?"
"Reading is for wizards! The runes will devour my soul were I to look upon them! This Computor is trying to kill me!"
"No, no, no. Computer, display the text as it was." The computer obeys. "Look, these runes will not devour your soul." Thunderhorse glances at them quickly. And again. Satisfied, he turns back around.
"You are right. These runes are safe. But I do not understand them."
"I guess you'll have to learn," Doc says. "Computer, do you have reading lessons on file?" It shows a long list of videos. It's going to take some time to narrow this down. "Tell you what," he says to Thunderhorse. "I'll put together a programming schedule for you."
"A list of things to watch. That will be your job while we're aboard this ship. After you take care of the horses each day, come in here and watch movies. They'll teach you about reading and history and anything else you want to learn. Okay?"
"Yes. This sounds like a good job. Will they teach me about the thunder slings?"
"Sure." Doc calls up A Fist Full of Dollars. "I think you'll like this one." Thunderhorse is instantly transfixed as the music kicks on and the brightly colored credits roll up.
Doc goes off to the observation deck to study a while, in peace.
Living on the Younger Brother Pear is like being the only guest in a hotel you can't leave. The meals are excellent, the service is ever present, the view is spectacular; but there's something about being trapped in a bubble in space that is a little unsettling.
Perhaps it's the endless hum if the air conditioning, or the drone of the reactor cooling system. Maybe it's the knowledge that there's enough power within that reactor to demolish the solar system. It could be that the android servants, while programmed to be friendly and helpful, are the most superficial people Doc has ever met. Worse, he can't fault them for it. Their soulless, artificial personalities shine like a blinking clock on a VCR.
The Host, in particular, never has much to say for himself. He was activated in Seoul in 2213 and was shipped directly to the Younger Brother Pear as it was assembled in space. He was programmed to analyze the ships systems and maintain life support in emergency situations. In 2222, Dr. Ritenrong purchased him and the ship, and upgraded his programming to include maintenance of the reactor core and other technical systems on board. The Host is always prim and proper, but accepts people's faults and is willing to clean up a mess. Doc imagines, though, that somewhere within that metal mind of his he's being deeply sarcastic and secretly revels in his arrogance.
The Cook is, in Doc's opinion, not a bad guy for a robot, but is a little annoying. He's always cheerful, and knows everything there is to know about cooking, baking, and mixing drinks. He's got access to some kind of sports encyclopedia database, and will occasionally spout out an uninteresting piece of trivia with precise timing to break a lull in galley conversation.
After five minutes of silence while Doc enjoys a beer and watching some live feeds from a remote surgery session on Arctura 12, the machine breaks the silence.
"Did you know that, in hockey, Wayne Gretzky holds the world record for scoring 215 points in a season in 1986?" it says, still drying the same glass it had been washing for the last 10 minutes.
"No, I didn't know that," Doc replies. He's still focused on the operation. It is difficult for his visual cortex to even parse what the hell is going on, as many bits of Arcturan anatomy are extremely foreign. The procedure seems to be a total replacement of whatever atmospheric processing organs the thing has. Doc is more interested in the tools, anyway. The surgeon is apparently some kind of brain in a jar working with a multi-armed robot through Q-Net from a planet in the Pegasus system.
Another five minutes pass. "Did you know that soccer is the most played sport in the entire galaxy?"
"That's interesting." Doc is trying to make out whether he's looking at an antenna on the patient's head, or something else entirely. He does not immediately realize the mistake he'd just made.
"Yes, it is. Every inhabited planet has had a version of the game at some point in their evolution. The concept of placing a spherical object into a goal of some kind has always been a source of competition. It reflects the reproductive process and compensates an intelligent species need for direct sexual competition, often times replacing combat. Did you know that the Merkin people of the sector 413 alpha fight wars entirely with a soccer-like game called Jarquin, in which the two or sometimes three teams kick small thermonuclear devices around their low-gravity planet, attempting to- "
Doc interrupts him. "No, I didn't know that. Please, I'm trying to watch this." It's a futile effort, though. The robot is moving too fast for him to really understand what's going on. There's a sort of laser cutting through tissue, a device for suctioning away the black ooze that must be the thing's blood, all in a flurry of activity. The robot injects something somewhere into the patient's anatomy, then swiftly and precisely yanks out what must be its lung or something like that, and replaces it with another, which is much greener.
The subtitles on the screen mentions something about nanobots being fed into its lungs to either repair them, or that they were the cause of his disorder in the first place. The translation is unclear. They do mention that the organ was cloned from cells taken from the patient only half an hour prior to the operation.
Doc had payed a visit to his new office earlier in the day. As the science and medical officer, he has full access to all the drugs and equipment safely locked away in the medical bay. Dr. Ritenrong had granted him security clearance to all decks and compartments, including the emergency weapons locker on the bridge.
The Medical bay is well stocked and easy to use. Each bed has a lifesigns monitor that activates when anyone lays on it. Each also has a plastic quarantine shroud that can be pulled over the patient. This also houses an MRI scanner, X-Rays, and an array of surgical tools which are operated by programming the procedure into the console, and can be controlled in real time via remote control and microscopic cameras. Drugs and other injections can be fed into the robotic syringes from outside the cover by feeding the bottles into a specially designed tap. The quarantine beds can also fold into the walls and can be used for suspended animation
The entire medical bay can also be evacuated of air and flooded with high-energy radiation to completely disinfect it. Safeguards prevent this from happening while anyone is in there, though. Since the walls are lead lined, the medical bay is also the ships solar-storm cellar.
The cabinets contain all the usual pain killers, disinfectants, antibiotics, and other minor medical equipment. There are plenty of medkits and a portable surgical suite which is compact enough to fit in the Jeep. There's also a stock of unlabeled red wine, useful for treating radiation sickness.
His office / lab has some useful tools; a centrifuge, microscopes both optical and electron scanning, some petri dishes and other such tools, and a strange device which looks like a cross between a blender and a microwave. It is labeled "Venture, Inc. Clonomatic."
Some of this stuff will take some studying to use, but Doc is confident that he'll learn it in no time. He decides to study up on medicine as much as possible before teaching Thunderhorse how to fire a gun.
The ride back to the Younger Brother Pear is as quiet and unremarkable as tearing through the atmosphere at Mach 22, entering free-fall, and orbiting Earth can possibly be. At least the pressure changes help with the ringing in Doc's ear. While the Pu circles around the planet lining up for docking with the mother ship, Doc browses the Q-Net.
He finds a couple references to the Chesapeake. The last time he looked, there was very little. Now, there is just a little more. A few UFO conspiracy sites from deep in the archives of Earth's old Internet claim that the boat was abducted by aliens, siting scattered accounts of eye-witnesses in the Toledo area. Skeptics claim the sighting was nothing more than a meteor.
A more recent Q-Net entry sites a natural gas mining expedition to the bottom of Lake Erie found the Chesapeake. Questions were raised when old Norse currency was found amongst the wreckage, along with two used .44 caliber bullets and some synthetic fiber gauze not used until the late 21st century. A few episodes of Mysterious Mysteries were dedicated to the subject, with very poor ratings. With the advent of faster-than-light travel and the resulting consequences of time dilation, these kinds of anachronisms became commonplace and whole thing was chalked up to space pirates.
Dr. Ritenrong also searches the 'net for answers. His fingers are lightning across the Pu's consoles as he looks at blueprints, equations, fashion designers, and a whole slew of nonsense that only he, apparently, can understand.
Thunderhorse takes a nap, snoring loudly. The loud bang of the ship entering the Younger Brother Pear's hanger and locking into place wakes him up. Gravity returns.
"Sure thing, fella!" the autopilot says, in a different tone than last time, possibly attempting to convey some other message but finding its self unable to. Everyone unbuckles, gets up, and stretches out.
Steve speaks. "Doc, Thunderhorse, get the horses up top, then make yourselves at home. We'll be in orbit for a while. I've got to fix this stupid robot and analyze this coat so I can figure out what we need to do next. If you need anything, just ask the Host. I'll be on deck three if you need me. Autopilot, please follow me to the robotics lab."
"Sure thing, fella," the old tones chime. He gets up and follows the professor off the ship.
Doc and Thunderhorse go to the cargo area. Doc begins reloading the Jeep's equipment while Thunderhorse ponders the magnetic locks holding the horses' hooves to the floor.
"Why do they not move?" he asks, puzzled as he tugs at the reigns, trying to lead them.
Doc examines the locks briefly. There's a simple green button which disengages the electromagnets. Lightning snorts and paws his hoof in relief. Thunderhorse sees him do this, and begins unlocking hooves with him. At least he can learn. Doc notices there's quite a mess of manure and horse piss on the floor. Poor things must've been literally scared shitless when the ship started moving.
"Slep and Nir," says Thunderhorse as they're unloading the horses from the Pu. "That is what I shall call them. That is what Odin's horse was called, and between them there are eight legs. They are very fast, too. But not as fast as Lightning," he boasts, proudly.
The two lead the horses out of the hanger and into the hallway. "Thunderhorse, I'm sorry I got mad earlier. You did the right thing. You did exactly what I told you. I was only mad because I was afraid for you. You're the only friend I have in this crazy world and I don't want to see you hurt. I will protect you, especially from the thunder slings."
"No, I understand. I did not realize how loud those thing are. They truly summon thunder. It is frightening, I admit. But the ones who wield them are weak. They rely too much on them, but they are big and slow. I can defeat them easily. Yours is much different, though. It summons thunder much faster."
They round the corner and reach the elevator. Doc hits the button. "There are some that are even faster, and some that are even louder. Sometimes both. I'll have to teach you how to use them, so you understand when to avoid them." The elevator arrives. They get in. "Deck one, please," Doc orders. The elevator silently slides upwards.
"I can wield this power, as well? I don't know. When I sink my axe into someone's skull, I know for sure they will be dead soon." Thunderhorse smiles at this in a rather scary way.
The elevator doors open to the observation deck. It's just as green and lush as it was before. "To destroy your enemy you must know your enemy. Let me teach you."
Thunderhorse nods. "As you wish."
The Earth spins slowly above them.