Southern Seas, MY 2203
The pair of isles of the deep slid through the fungus infested water between the Consciousness and the Cult. All along the area there were multiple Cult artillery to bombard the isles and the troops they were carrying, and a very large number of foil-based probe teams lurking in bases and roaming the seas. In short, it was a dangerous place to be.
Fortunately there were no Cultish foils, so as long as the isles stayed away from Cult mainlands and traveled in pairs it was unlikely that they would be able to prevent them from landing in Gaian lands and assisting in weakening the Cult position there.
On board there was an impact rover, ECM defensive rover, and mindworms. This was a mission not of conquest but of pure destruction. The impact rover would be upgraded to amphibious status, would cruise up to the Cult base on Gaian territory, blast away at the armorless garrisons, and land the mindworms and support troops at the nearest Gaian base. The next turn the impact rover would repeat the process and the mindworm assault forces would move in.
At last report there were nine military and civilian units at the base including a few missile artillery and missile rovers. The Gaians had been having a hard time and, and last report, had all their forces eliminated. It was entirely possible that the Cult could counter attack, and before that happened they would have to be eliminated. The combined operation would take several years, but it would be well worth it. If properly organized there was minimal chance of losses.
And, what would happen to the base when it was captured? That had been decided long ago: it would be gifted to the Gaians. They only had four bases and could well due with another, and it would round out the bases on their island. Moreover, that meant that the University wouldn’t have yet another far flung colony to defend, and the Gaians would likely be thankful that the threat was removed – and that they got a base within their home territory.
It would be up to the Gaians to defend it. Every effort would be made to keep some University forces there – likely the rovers and probe teams. The mindworms would be taken to other opportunities of interest.
HIVE 2203, Operations Center for HIVE – 10
“You will hold.”
“We will die in the attempt if need be.”
Yang had no reply for several minutes as he studied his Seneschal in charge of HIVE – 10.
“I did not say anything about dieing. I said hold the city. Reinforcements are in route to you now. More can be sent if needs require. Your defenses are strong and can withstand the spore bombardments.” Yang said coldly. “If I require your death to defend the city I will inform you of the time and place I want it done, is that clear.”
It was no question and Montgomery Smythe-Blair knew it so. Yang had been furious that his cities Firemen had perished under the assault by the worms but there was nothing he could have done. The new troops, once equipped had rushed to the tunnels and purged the worms but the worms had done their job.
“I understand Chairman. We will hold, we will loose no more Firemen.” Smythe-Blair fought to say bravely.
“See that you do. HIVE – 12 will be operational next turn followed by HIVE – 13 and then HIVE -14 in two turns after that. Resources are scarce right now and the strain to feed so many people at HIVE – PRIME is becoming difficult. What I do not need now is an incompetent fool running one of my new cities into destruction!” Yang boomed angriliy.
Smythe-Blair swallowed with great difficulty and then nodded his head in agreement.
The line went dead.
Yang looked up at Zho and nodded to him at which Zho handed him the e-pad which Yang studied.
“They can hold?” Yang asked as he looked back up.
“Yes, provided no more native vectors attack the city which we don’t think we will happen. Native life form activity is up but still acceptable.” Zho replied.
“Is this construction of a recreational center warranted Zho?” Yang asked as he slowly stood up.
“I think so Chairman.” Zho began to explain. “We have reached five thousand new humans at HIVE – Prime and the demand on resources, especially medical is significant. We still lack the resources and technology to increase our harvest of food so we need more drones to work and work longer hours. The end result is more injuries to our drones. By adding a recreation center and rehabilitation unit our drones can recover quicker and return to work. Suffice it to say the place will not be a luxurious, immoral den of evils but rather a place for our drones to recover from wounds, receive re-education and therapy.”
“I agree, it is important and the date supports the expansion. You have my approval.”
University Base, MY 2204
“The advent of Zero Point Energy is a true breakthrough for the University,” Amy Constance stated. “Not only have we finally unlocked a key to energy production, but almost as a side note we now are able to use that energy harvesting ability to structure a new political model for our society.”
She paused and pointed to a schematic, rotated it up and then sideways, and then highlighted a key portion. “This is the key. Being able to harvest energy without restriction has led to greater integration of our cities. In short, information flows faster. This means that we can either elect for greater control via a Federal Police State or for greater but decentralized integration through a Federal Democracy. Both have their advantages. A police state has the same crippling limitations to research as a normal police state, but it is much more efficient and allows greater support of military units. Moreover, police units are much more useful – their effects are magnified by the increased data flow. In short, if you don’t care about research and need social control and an aggressive military footprint than a Federal Police State is optimal.
“By comparison, we could migrate from our Unitary Democracy to a Federal Democracy. In doing so we retain our Talents this more enlightened governmental form gives us, but suffer under greater support restrictions for our military. Likewise, any espionage actions will be more difficult. On the plus side the efficiency is much greater, and we will need that desperately as we expand to our 17th base shortly.
“We have long since decided that we would need to be desperate indeed to suffer a 30 percent research penalty by switching to a police state. The main question is whether we want to stay in a Unitary or Federal Democracy. Opinions?”
“There is no question that we should change,” Zakharov said. All heads swiveled. Zakharov rarely ventured his opinion first. Therefore he must think this obvious, or he felt strongly. Either way he had everyone’s attention. “We desparately need the greater efficiency. That will be key to decreasing our energy losses and the bureaucracy that tends to cripple us. But, not now. I noticed that the support penalty will mean that new bases are starkly affected. We need to get our last two new bases up and running before we change. If I am not mistaken our two newest bases will be established within three years. They have been delayed while carefully moving through fungus in the Jungle, correct?”
Gregory Kline nodded.
“Then, once they are established we can reconsider the motion. Until then, might you enlighten us on how much additional energy production we have?”
“With Zero Point Energy our energy production increased by 14 percent,” Amy replied.
Zakharov smiled. “Good. Very good. And our breakthrough rate?”
“Improved by a similar amount. It will improve again as we use supply crawlers to harvest energy for University Base, and complete the Supercollider in the coming year.”
Zakharov’s smile widened. “Exactly.
HIVE 2204, Main shipyards at HIVE – 4
“A beauty, a true beauty.”
“I agree, we couldn’t have designed her better.”
Both men stood at the end of the massive dry-dock/shipyard and watched as water began to pump in.
“Are your sure the cradle will hold?” Asked the chief naval technician.
“It will hold, I designed it to hold ships four times the size of our foils.” The dock yard technician replied proudly. “We had no choice due to the fact that the designs for the sea colony pods are nearly double the size of a exploration foil.”
“Yes.” The naval technician replied. “We will start that project as soon as we can float this foil out the dry dock doors and berth it for final fit out. Then we drain the dry dock and lay down the new keel.”
“A sea colony foil, who would have ever thought, frightening if you ask me, stuck out there hundreds of miles from land on a platform anchored to the sea floor.” The dockyard technician gave a slight shudder.
The naval architect looked at him but said nothing. The man was a fool but he did know how to build a good dry dock construction yard. Yang had ordered him to build not only the exploration foil and sea colony pod but also a warship and a sea terraformer unit. It was an ambitious building schedule since only HIVE – 4 had a dockyard, all other HIVE cities were landlocked. He knew that was about to change with the establishment of HIVE – 13 and HIVE – 14 but those cities would have their production capabilities dedicated for some time building infra-structure and Firemen units. It would be a decade or more before they even began to consider building naval units of any type.
University Base, MY 2205
Zakharov couldn’t stop smiling. Today was the inauguration of the first true scientific Project on all of Planet: the Supercollider. Other Projects were useful – even necessary – but none advanced or had the promise of this Project. It offered pure scientific advancement, and insights into some of the basic building blocks of matter itself. Moreover, if the researchers into native life were to be believed it could even start tearing apart the strange energy patterns that suffused the xenofungus and its symbiots. The applications were breathtaking.
What was even better is that it complemented existing scientific research at University Base. Yes, there were network nodes and research hospitals, but now the work done at these facilities could be cross fertilized, so to speak. The effects were multiplicative, and wonderful.
With this one Project and with reorienting resource harvesting from mining to energy the research output of University Base alone was greater than all the other known factions on Chiron! The very thought of this made him feel slightly giddy, and it wasn’t because of the Fungal Gin Fanny Bangers a young intern has foisted on him. In fact, the scientific output of the University was now ten times that of the backward Cult of Planet. Each advance and improvement further cemented in the technological superiority of the University – as it should be.
Of course technology would be given or sold to friends. The Cyborgs and Gaians were true friends, and were aligned with the University in many ways. They would share in a certain portion of the University’s progress if for no other reason than they worked against the blighted Believers and Cult. Both were also research oriented, after their own fashion, too.
Soon the Cult would be brought to its knees. Within the year the first of their cities would fall to the University, and as more amphibious rovers were constructed the fall would become a cascade. With the eradication of the Cult all the nasty Cultish probe foils that lurked in the dozens would be ended once and for all, and the threat they proved toward the Gaians and Cyborgs. The Cult simply had to be eliminated.
Zakharov took a stiff slurp of the Fanny Banger and then grimaced. It was potent, but not very smooth. But right now it suited his mood.
HIVE 2205, Hall of the Operatives
“Chairman unrest among the workers is climbing.
“Tell me something I don’t know, like why are the drones revolting more and more even though we have more Fireman to keep them in line.”
El’Bandar waited patiently for his response. He would wait until the hint of panic left the discussion and Chairman Yang.
Yang looked even more troubled for a second and then quickly collected his thoughts and then bowed to El’Bandar with a slight smile on his face.
“Thank you Chairman.” El’Bandar began. “The issue is even with the increased troop levels the workers, our drones are still finding ways to make trouble with their idle time. We need to find outlets for approved HIVE behavior which will reduce tensions in the Hive and promote solidarity.”
“Well, yes of course.” Yang began. “What I want to see is more discipline and less riots. We need HIVE – 5 and other bases to be more productive and I can not, we can not achieve that while workers are being coddled by health and safety technicians.”
“You say coddled and they would say treatment.” El’Bandar began. “Our citizens are working around the clock in many occupations that support our society. Without additional relaxing outlets we will lose our vision.”
Yang pondered this for some time and then nodded to El’bandar.
“Draw me up a report on your suggestions so I can discuss them with Zho.” Yang said as he slowly stood up and left the small cramped room with its cramped furniture.
El’Bandar shut the plas-steel door and reached over to open the secret panel to the headquarters fo the operatives for the word of truth. Here was the heart and brain of the Operatives for the Hive, the word of truth as some called it. Here buried below him in four levels was the advanced drone recruitment and training center.
As El’Bandar walked down the long stone corridor to the main security checkpoint for his organization he wondered if Yang really knew of this facility or chooses to ignore it. Either way, it allowed El’Bandar and his team to work unhindered of rules and oversight a major advantage to his work and his team.
University Base, MY 2206
The reports were in and Zakharov was seething. Somehow the Cult probe had attacked and destroyed one of the mindworms on the isles of the deep. How was this possible? Did the Cultists have some strange affinity with Chiron that allowed them to select their targets? Or maybe their soil foil probe teams were all the more skilled?
Regardless the attacks must continue. The amphibious foil was doing a stupendous job in eliminating the defenders – four total so far – but now the Cultists were building Kevlar Defenders. That would make the task somewhat more difficult. If all went reasonably well the amphibious rover would eliminate the last defenders and then the University would take the base.
There was the prospect that the Cult would bribe the base away. They had those bloody foil probe teams all over the place, and at last count there were seven. And those were the units that could be easily seen! The Gaians and Consciousness had as many all over the place, too.
The only answer was to take the base and immediately gift it to the Gaians. Hopefully that would solve many problems. Then the isles could retreat to safe waters, get more rovers, and then start the serious business of bringing the Cult to its knees.
Zakharov smiled at that prospect. The thought of seeing that smug little fanatical whelp on his knees begging for forgiveness gave him a sense of deep satisfaction. If he were in good mood he’d grant it, but then again – maybe not.
HIVE 2206, Colony pod #14
“Seneschal we have arrived at the colony site.”
“Very well, inform the foreman to begin unloading as soon as you have stopped the transport and anchored it.”
Jackson Tweet, Seneschal for the future HIVE -14 colony was a happy man to say the least. The worm infestation that had plagued their arrival had been defeated so nothing could stop them now.
The colony site was not his first choice but it had been Chairman Yang’s and that is all that mattered. The site was located along the massive river valley that flowed from east to west along the northern edge of the great mesa. Several colonies had been built to the east but his was the first to be built to the west. In time, another colony would be built further west to provide a seaport to the western sea areas.
Tweet stood up and looked out his small porthole to the lush river valley and smiled. Perhaps Yang had been right to pick this spot after all. Regardless if it was or not it made no difference since it was Yang’s decision and no one else’s.
Gaian Territory, MY 2207
Waylan snorted, “****. Now what’s wrong?”
Salar’l looked over at the young woman. “Orders. We’re to disembark at the monolith, repair, and then move toward Cult territory.”
She adjusted her pulse rifle across her chest in what she thought was an impressive manner. “They’re just f*cking fanatics. Someone gone soft?”
“Mind your tone,” Salar’l said. “The new Cult defender has ECM, so our amphibious rover is much less effective. We have the largest known army on Chiron, and our combined strength will allow us to crush the Cultist base. All they have is a Kevlar ECM defender and a critically damaged missile rover. We advance over land with the mindworms and the amphibious rover is by sea. Our job is to soften them up. Should be easy. Get it?”
Waylan frowned. “Yah. But I don’t like it.”
That was the first civil thing she’d said all day. “Good. It is only a delay. You’ll get your shot.”
She grinned at that, adjusted her rifle again, and then turned and left. Salar’l watched her go. What he didn’t tell her is that their assault was likely to be fatal, and that their group was a measured sacrifice to preserve the rover. It was not quite a death sentence, but it was pretty close.
Salar’l tried to think happy thoughts as his mindworm saddled up to him, coiled around his torso, and started tickling him. He had to smile – Far-el always knew what made him feel better.