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The Spartan Chronicles

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  • Googlie
    replied
    ^

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  • Rynn
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    ^

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  • Veracitas
    replied
    *bump*

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  • Googlie
    replied
    ^



    [This message has been edited by Googlie (edited November 19, 1999).]

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  • Googlie
    replied
    quintuple post deleted (what the heck was going on?)

    [This message has been edited by Googlie (edited November 03, 1999).]

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  • Googlie
    replied
    quadruple post deleted

    [This message has been edited by Googlie (edited November 03, 1999).]

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  • Googlie
    replied
    triple post deleted

    [This message has been edited by Googlie (edited November 03, 1999).]

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  • Googlie
    replied
    Double post deleted - order of the Spartan Federation Governor


    [This message has been edited by Googlie (edited November 03, 1999).]

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  • Googlie
    replied
    Hargreaves had asked the pilot to detour over Plex Anthill so that he could see firsthand the devastation that the battle had wrought..

    It was awesome. Battered hulks of armored vehicles dotted the landscape around the base, which itself, from the air, looked to be largely piles of rubble. In the harbor, and offshore, could be seen the wrecks of transport ships and warships, and even this many hours after the cease fire columns of smoke still spiraled lazily into the early morning air from damaged vehicles and destroyed buildings..

    As they overflew the airbase, he could see the devastation caused by the artillery bombardment and by the bombing and strafing runs. He saw a Morgan transport taxiing around the potholes in the synthcrete runway getting ready to disgorge its load of garrison troops ready to assume command of the base.

    A veteran of several Spartan engagements, Basil couldn’t remember ever before seeing so much destruction.

    The contrast with Morgan Processing was indescribable.

    As they approached over the vast solar arrays that defined Morgan Energy Monopoly, and began their descent to Processing, Basil was awed by the sheer ostentation of the Morganites.

    ‘Only they’, he thought, ‘could cover a continent and its oceans with solar mirrors and tidal energy harnesses.’

    He reviewed his notes as they began their final descent.

    The base had a population of just over 70,000 and while as a Morgan base it had a high cyclical output of 10 nutrients, 10 minerals and, as was to be expected, 47 energy credits. As he keyed in his data he saw that it would be less productive as a Spartan base. The nutrients took a tumble to only 4, and the energy to 7, but the minerals really accelerated up to 18. As he ran the simulations, Basil noted that he would need to divert human capital to foster the talents, to keep the drone problems manageable in the immediate future.

    He called up the file on the Base Manager, one Cecil Krantzenstein.

    Re-elected manager in the gubernorial elections of 2222, with two remaining years to serve in his current term. Ran on a platform of strong base infrastructure, and received over 70% of the vote.

    Probe reports and scuttlebutt say that he was a reluctant convert to the directional change of a few weeks ago whereby many of the bases rush-built their production quotas and retooled for military upgrading. Not a favorite of CEO Morgan’s nor of Morgan Jr.

    Hargreaves resolved to have an early meeting with Cecil and try to convince him to stay on.

    He’d need some garrison troops. He’d sent word to the 469th before he left asking them to “drop in” to Morgan Processing after he’s taken office, and they would give him a strong counter-Yang presence in case the Hive got nasty.

    And he’d given a lot of thought to renaming the base. He knew from Googlie’s files that he and Burge had talked about new base names, and wanted to get back into the mainstream Spartan philosophy and away from Santiago’s late fixation with esoteric names. Burge’s preference for the next base was one that Basil liked.

    Morgan Processing would become Ruby Ridge Memorial.

    As the Spartan Government needlejet came in low for its landing, Hargreaves couldn’t help but be impressed at the opulence of the Morgan base.

    There seemed to be no base facility that was wanting, and there were some that from the air Basil didn’t recognize at all.

    He glanced at his commlink reader and scanned the list that he had been sent.

    Childrens Creche
    Recycling Tanks
    Recreation Commons
    Energy Bank
    Network Node
    Hologram Theatre
    Tree Farm
    Hybrid Forest
    Habitation Complex
    Centauri Preserve

    “Hmmmm. I wonder what that last one is,” he thought. “I must pay an early visit.”

    Then the bonus. Morgan Processing was the home of one of Morgan’s Special projects – The Weather Paradigm. he made a note to ask what advantages that gave to the base, and to the Federation in general.

    As the jet came in from the east, he saw to the south, in the bay, the four great tidal harnesses that generated much of the base’s energy. With typical Morgan efficiency, kelp farms had been established along their superstructure to provide added nutrients for the base population.

    To the north were the huge solar collectors that were in the Base’s zone of control, forming part of the massive aray that stretched as far as the eye could see to the northeast.

    On the base’s southwestern boundary stood a massive farm, with its neat rows of fruits trees and vegetables supplemented by the greenhouses and hydroponic tanks that kept the oxygen level and temperature constant.

    The base’s sensor array could be seen to the northwest, by the airport.

    What was impressive was that all the remaining land contained within the base’s zone of control was forested. “Probably part of their tree farm and hybrid forest development,” he thought.

    They swept into a perfect landing and taxied to the administration building.

    As the needlejet’s retractable exitway deployed, Basil saw hurrying towards the doors a somewhat portly figure impeccably attired in a dark blue synthsilk suit, with a white cotton analogue shirt adorned with a cheery red polka dot tie. He had a matching handkerchief in his hand with which he mopped beads of sweat that developed periodically on his forehead and upper lip. His shoes were shining black, of some synthleather that took a mirror like shine.

    As Basil descended, the awaiting Morganite stuck out his hand awkwardly.

    “Cecil Krantzenstein at your service. You must be Basil Hargreaves?”

    “The very same,” replied Basil. “Pleased to make your acquaintance.”

    “This way, please,” he said, indicating a limorover that was waiting nearby. “I’ve vacated my offices for you, and I’ll take you right there.”

    “Okay,” Basil replied. “But I may be more comfortable with an office suite in one of your hotels. I imagine you’ll still need your office as Manager.”

    “As Manager?” Cecil asked. “You don’t wanrt to supplant me and impose military or police rule?”

    “Not at all,” replied Basil. In The Spartan Federation we have Base Governors – a sort of political appointment – and Base Administrators, elected by the populace, who run the Base. I would expect you to remain with the Base Administrator title, to do what you’ve always done, and to brief me in how your customs differ from ours, and what your people will expect as Spartan Citizens with a Morgan background.”

    Cecil positively beamed.

    “Splendid,” he said. “I should like that very much. I’ll arrange for an office suite to be reserved at the Local Morgan Hilton. I’ll do that right away.”

    He flipped his commlink open, and barked a few orders into it, then flicked it shut.

    “It will take an hour or so. Would you like a tour of the base in the way in?”

    “That’s be useful,” said Basil. “I’d especially like you to explain to me and to see your Centauri Preserve. I’m familiar with all your other base facilities, but have never come across this before.”

    “It’d be my pleasure,” said Cecil, giving the limo driver the appropriate instructions.

    Basil sank back in the comfort of the seats to enjoy the ride

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  • Tokek Belerang
    replied
    "Vava!" Naawal Jones cried out.

    Levavassier ignored her, and pushed past the stunned Hive guards into the brightly lit chamber.

    "General. Field Marshal. Gavin!" he screamed.

    The lone figure standing between him and the shatteringly bright light source turned around and faced him.

    "Gavin!" Levavassier cried again.

    The eyes of the old commander looked dark, vacant, not there.

    "I think he's ours now." came a gentle voice beside him.

    Levavassier looked to the side, and looked into the eyes of the spy Sand. Behind him, the spy they called Angel.

    "No! I'm taking him to Command! We all need his help!"

    Now the figure of Gavin Burge moved, and spoke reasonably.

    "Come, come, Eugene. I'm not dead. Frankly, I don't know what all the fuss is about. Let's just get on with things, shall we? I'm sure you and I have a chess game to finish somewhere."

    Chess?

    "Snap out of it, Graftman." Naawal Jones said in his ear.

    "But I don't know the first thing about chess." he told her as she was standing next to his bed.

    Jones laughed.

    "You're past it, old man." she said. "Waaaaay past it."

    "I dreamed." he said.

    "Yes. You did. You dreamed you were rescuing Big Bear Burge from the clutches of the Circle."

    "Wonderful." Levavassier said, and got up to a sitting position.

    "Meeting at eight. There's an admiral who wants to see you."

    "Admiral?"

    * * * * *

    There was some discussion as to whether the place was called New Zanzibar or just Zanzibar. The people who lived there just called it Zanzi now. "We'll build the bar later" was the running gag.

    Levavassier went by the airstrip to call on Nans Andersen. He found him fiddling with the undercarriage of his Aardvark.

    "That thing ever run?" Levavassier inquired.

    "Only to get Colonels out of enemy lands. Won't work for lower ranks." Nans said and got up. "Good to see you walking."

    They shook hands.

    "It feels good. No more crutches."

    "Let's get over to the mess hall. That admiral wants to hear your story."

    "Fine with me. But after that, I'd like your opinion on a job offer I have for a certain pilot."

    "Sorry bastard." Andersen said grinning.

    "Yeah. I hope he's stupid enough to swallow it."

    "If he's Danish, you've got a shot."

    "You reckon?"

    They went over to the mess hall.

    * * * * *

    Waiting for him were Admiral Teresia Giacomazzi, Governor DeVaughn Molina (ret.), Acting Governor Vincent Meaux, and the ghostlike figure of Fungrunner Paatelainen.

    "Colonel!" the admiral said. "I am honored to meet you again."

    "Admiral. Thank you. Likewise, I assure you."

    "I've heard of some of your group's exploits from these gentlemen, and from miss Jones earlier. I've been asked by Field Marshal Burge to debrief you on your mission in Hive lands. I suggest we do this over dinner - I imagine you could do with a proper meal."

    "I could, yes, as a matter of fact. But why the hurry? I will be in Sparta Command in a matter of days."

    "The Field Marshal - Gavin - was quite adamant. I'm afraid he gave no further explanation."

    Levavassier accompanied the admiral to the Star of the North, where the debriefing meal was to take place, wondering whether she knew that Gavin Burge was reported dead in some Hive media.

    * * * * *

    Levavassier sipped his apéritif - a rather rare aniseedy concoction from back on Earth, quite potent.

    "After leaving the captured Sea Base, we had a change of mind. At first we had been convinced that we could not hold onto the base, and would merely let it run on automatic in case your ships would arrive before the Hive came calling again. But we were made to think otherwise by the Hive commander, Aaron Santos."

    "Ah yes. I've heard of him. Extraordinary fellow."

    "Quite. Fungrunner knew him, of course. Aaron Santos was the biggest black market racketeer in Yangland - as it turned out. That's why he was in the base in the first place - making deals with whoever came calling. He told us a lot about the disposition of the Hive forces, and his story seemed to indicate that there was little risk of losing New Zanzibar, as everything the Hive had was committed to the Battle of the Plex."

    Levavassier stopped, and both soldiers considered the unworthy fate that had befallen the base that had been so grimly defended. They looked each other in the eyes, and found kindred spirits. No soldier would have turned over Plex Anthill after what had happened there. No Spartan soldier, anyway.

    "So we returned briefly, and left Vinnie Mo to run things. The colonel was instrumental in getting him some backup from his private network of 'assistants'."

    "What was in it for the colonel?"

    "A way out. We had him along for the ride, at first, as bargaining material or whatever. But he managed to convince me - in fact, Fungrunner vouched for him - that he was in it to retrieve some 'valuables' from Great Clustering. In the meantime, he could help us on the way and sneak in with us at the same time."

    "And this was when the illustrious miss Jones joined your crew."

    "Illegitimately, yes. A detail Colonel Santos had not informed us about - he had sprung his old crony Naawal the Black Lion."

    Levavassier sighed, and finished his drink.

    "That was the last of that Pernod on Chiron." the admiral said.

    "Appreciated."

    "Thank you. It seems to me that, in your exploits, you were faced with as much cross and double-cross as you put into it yourself."

    "Admittably. I learnt quite a lot. Among other things that the notion of control is rubbery at best - utterly illusive at worst. Control by the state, I mean. A lot goes on that is utterly beyond our grasp."

    "I imagine so. Please continue with your story. It is quite fascinating."

    Levavassier closed his eyes.

    "We landed in thick fog. There were about thirty of us, of which half were Devo Molina's men. Of which ONE was Naawal Jones, which Devo knew but I didn't. We moved by night, and always made our way to Great Clustering. We made sure to stay away from the bases, but did our best to sabotage key assets outside the bases. Sensors, bunkers, roads. But our main business was the data lines. The first sensor we found, we blew up. Leave that to Devo's boys and girls. The second, a couple of Vinnie's datajackers worked on. Consequently, the sensor grid put us at quite another location than the one we were actually at."

    Levavassier grinned.

    "What?" Giacomazzi barked, intrigued.

    "During the battle of Plex Anthill, some of the Hive mainland sensors issued - I wish I had been there - red alerts due to a surprise attack by swarms and swarms of tartan-clad pink flying elephants singing 'O Canada'."

    Giacomazzi harrumphed.

    Levavassier eyed the glass of wine that was being poured for him with interest.

    "But things got less fluent after that." he said.

    He tasted a piece of the farm-raised salmon on his plate, and wondered briefly what the taste might have been of its relatives in the streams of Skye, before continuing.

    "We were hit out of the blue, at night. Excuse the dud metaphor." Levavassier said, and paused to look at the admiral.

    "Ashaandi." he continued.

    The admiral leaned forward, forgetting her meal before her.

    ------------------
    Numquam turbae misceri

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  • Hydro
    replied
    Assassin’s Redoubt

    *****

    “How DARE they do this to me!” Kirsten Alfredsson stormed. “Plex Anthill was MY base, it was given to me! I was to be the Military Governor! They can’t just give it away!”

    Helen Tobias sat at her desk, composed and reserved. Kirsten had been a royal pain ever since she had arrived at Assassin’s Redoubt – she was demanding and tried to assume control at every opportunity, even when it clearly wasn’t her place. The dinner engagements and functions Helen had invited Kirsten and her aid Sarah to had invariably been less than pleasant, with Kirsten bluntly ‘guiding’ conversations toward what she wanted to talk about, which typically involved how wonderful the person Kirsten Alfredsson was. Assassin’s Redoubt civic and business leaders had started avoiding her by the end of the first dinner party. Kirsten’s skills were well suited for the military with a clear chain of command, but her civilian skills were almost non-existent. Helen was a little worried about her quiet aid Sarah Dawson. The personalities of the two couldn’t be more diametrically opposed: where Kirsten was domineering Sarah was cooperative; Kirsten was self-centered and Sarah was genuinely empathetic toward others; Kirsten was supremely self confidant and Sarah was unsure. Sarah almost seemed to be in pain when around Kirsten, which she probably was considering that she was an empath.

    “I have tried to get through to HQ, as have you, and neither of us has gotten a response. Considering what has been going on lately it is hardly a surprise that communiqués from a couple of Military Governors might slip down the list of importance,” Helen said reasonably.

    “I have my commission, and I will not be denied,” Kirsten replied with a steely tone. Kirsten’s face was hardened from her rage.

    Gradually, here face softened, then became almost friendly. Almost.

    “Helen, my dear, could you spare an air transport?” Kirsten said sweetly.

    Immediately on guard, Helen replied, “Perhaps. What do you need it for?”

    “I intend on assuming command of that mysterious Hive city Zanzibar. It does not have a Spartan Governor, and could undoubtedly benefit from my guiding hand.”

    Helen paused. There were definite benefits of getting rid of Kirsten. She would gladly take the cost of the transport out of her discretionary city budget just to be rid of her. Still it had to be structured in such a way so that she would not be considered an accessory, since assuming control of Zanzibar was clearly outside of Kirsten’s orders.

    “Very well. You will have to sign a requisition against your city budget. Procedure, you know.”

    “Yes, yes. I understand.” Kirsten said dismissively. “When can we leave?”

    We?!!

    “Uhm, Kirsten, what do you mean by ‘we’.”

    “Sarah and me. Who did you think?”

    Helen was relieved. But what of Sarah? She was a sweet girl, and was almost wilting under Kirsten’s heavy hand.

    “I’m afraid that Sarah’s services have to be extended for the evacuation of Plex Anthill. Her gifts are still needed as part of the cleanup, and her orders support that,” Helen improvised.

    Kirsten glowered, then nodded in acceptance. “She will be required to report for duty at Zanzibar when the evacuation in done.” Kirsten didn’t say that Sarah was a vital tool of her plan to control and subjugate hostile elements to her governorship.

    “Hopefully her orders will be clarified before then,” Helen replied evasively, with a smile. “I’ll arrange for transport immediately. We’re done, aren’t we?”

    Kirsten’s eyes narrowed at the recognized dismissal.

    “Yes.” Then she turned crisply around and left the room.

    Helen signed with relief after the door automatically closed. That woman has the potential of being marvelously effective, if she doesn’t explode or alienate everyone around her first.

    Helen hit her personal comm. “Sarah, this is a message from Helen Tobias. It looks like Kirsten is going to Zanzibar. You will be staying with me for a while. Stop by my office sometime today so we can talk about it. If Kirsten asks, your assignment is to render humanitarian assistance at Plex Anthill. Call me if you have questions.”

    Helen smiled to herself. Doing a good deed and poking someone unpleasant in the eye always felt good.

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  • Hydro
    replied
    Plex Anthill Exodus

    *****

    A palpable gloom hangs over Plex Anthill.

    Rao sits at the now partially disassembled tactical holo table, from which he had led his portion of the Plex Anthill defense. His temporary C&C is now turning from a command center to a field hospital again, with almost a thousand wounded to be cared for. Soon it will be an evacuation center. Through it all the majority of the former Hive citizens complacently stay in line to get their evening allotments of nutrients.

    The costs in the battle with the Hive had been horrific. All of the rovers and Aardvarks in Rolling Thunder were damaged, non-operational, or partially destroyed. Over half of his well-trained crews would be out of action. Twenty percent would never see action again due to severe injuries, or death. The word from 469th airborne was that the only partially operational brigade they had was their elite rovers. Their infantry was almost too badly damaged to jump. Slats’ pilots were all pretty shot up, but were mostly operational. All in all, everything was a mess.

    Still, Rao reflected, their hard won victory was is now bitter, and had been reduced to dust. HQ had just sent word that Plex Anthill, taken and then defended so valiantly and paid for in blood, was to be given to the Morganites. Valor didn't matter – politics rules.

    Normally this would be a time of celebration and frenzied activity, with all the wounded Spartans, Hive soldiers, and Hive citizens to be cared for. Against the odds the Spartans at Plex had won the day. That deserved a celebration. Instead there was like there was a black cloud hanging over everyone. And a faint sense of betrayal by HQ.

    Once again Rao would somehow have to establish some sense of order, if only to turn Plex over to a Morganite governor. His immediate concerns was stabilizing the wounded and evacing them when possible to Assassin’s Redoubt. General Wang had issued orders to transfer the base of operations for RT to Assassin’s Redoubt too. That, at least, was good news, since The Redoubt was the closest thing to home for most of his men and women. Airborne would simply hop and scoot, who knows where. The 4th Wing would simply fly away to their next assignment.

    But what of the Hive men and women that I promised Spartan citizenship? Regardless of the consequences, Rao vowed, I will NOT abandon them. They have fought too hard, and believed too much, to be abandoned.

    He was alone once again, with Luong now helping the medics take care of the unending stream of wounded and dying. Fatigue was now Rao’s enemy. Sleep and rest were far away, probably days away.

    Weary beyond words, in both mind and body, Rao stood and walked to the comm. He had a flurry of calls to make.

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  • Hydro
    replied
    Morgan Industries Hybrid Tree Farm

    *****

    EarthLindly, what is 'tickling'?Ehm asked.

    Shannon smiled. Such a simple question. The answer was easy to explain to a human. But how do you explain a concept like 'tickling' to a mindworm? Especially to a mindworm that doesn't have any nerves, at least none that a human would recognize.

    Look into my mind. I am thinking of 'tickling', she replied. Shannon thought of a time when she was little back in Gaia's Landing almost 55 years ago. She and her older brother Greg, who later died during the Fall of Gaia's Landing, had been babysitting her while she was home from the Crèche. She had been teasing him mercilessly, as only 8 year olds can tease their older 14-year-old brother. Finally he broke down and gave her the attention she wanted by chasing her around the apartment to 'catch' her. After a series of bold and grand escapes, which Greg undoubtedly arranged, he finally caught her and tickled her until she couldn't breath any more. It was her fondest early childhood memory, and it always brought a smile to her face.

    mmmmmmmmmm. Is 'tickling' a DNA male familial unit?

    No, Ehm. 'Tickling' is the action in my memory that caused me to laugh. You know, the barking noise humans make when we are happy. The sensation of stroking certain portion of the human body is sometimes pleasurable. This perception is called 'tickling'.

    May I tickle you, EarthLindly?

    What an unusual request! I haven't been tickled in decades.

    Yes, Ehm

    Shannon sat down in the fungus by the path in the hybrid tree farm and took off her shoes. A playful smile crossed her face as she wiggled her toes in the rubbery and strangely soft fungus. Here it was intermingled with a short green grass that existed symbiotically with it. Whereas the grass used the sunlight for photosynthesis, the fungus used the dead grass mat for food and gave back nitrogen as food to the grass - a perfect circle. The green blades of grass contrasted with the variegated pink of the fungus, creating a mottled look to the field.

    Ehm skittered over. He was still very small, barely over a foot in diameter. He formed a tiny pseudopod not more than 5 centimeters long and two centimeters in diameter and tentatively brushed several of the bunched 10-centimeter worms in the pseudopod up and down the underside of Shannon's exposed foot. The worms were dry. Most humans assumed that since mindworms were shiny and glistened in the sun that they were slimy, and almost no humans every tried or had the opportunity to find out differently.

    The tingling shot up Shannon's leg, and instantly she burst into laughter, and was quickly gasping for breath. She flopped into the fungalgrass and let her head fall back and let the peals of hysterical laughter come out. The yielding mat of fungus accepted her form, cushioning her arching back. Soon happy tears were falling down her cheeks.

    Slowly Ehm stopped tickling, so slowly that Shannon didn't even know he was stopping. He, apparently, could empathicly sense when the sensations were becoming too intense. Shannon wrapped her arms around her chest and luxuriated in the moment. She heard Ehm skittering toward her and he morphed from the fungalgrass onto her crossed arms on her chest. He formed a small knob of a 'head' at the top of his mass and seemed to be looking down at her. She looked up a little at his always slightly-agitated grey mass of worms.

    Ehm, you got it exactly right. That was tickling.

    Is EarthLindly happy?

    Oh, yes. Yes I am happy.

    *****

    Shannon had been on many tours of the Morgan Industries hybrid tree farm with Ehm. Every time Lindly found something new, something subtle and amazing. Already the hybrid forest had been growing for almost 10 years. As the months and years continued the hybrid forest spread and integrated the mono Earth and Chiron ecologies it encroached upon. As it went the multiforms of plants and animals, both of Earth and Chiron origin, became more accessible to humans. The ecology was friendly to humans. Due to their symbiotic relationship both Earth and Chiron species flourished more than they could singly or alone. The result was an impressive increase in productivity for all organisms, and more resources for the humans managing it.

    Even more impressive than the fungalgrass were the forests of oak and pine, intermingled with fungal stalk clusters that were up to 10 meters tall. Apparently the fungus had species that were adapted to the various climates of Chiron just like Earth species. It took years of study just to understand the metabolic processes that allowed the integrated fungus to survive, and even more to perceive the subtleties of its speciation. Once the appropriate Chiron and Earth ecosystems were mated they seemed to meld. They then adapted as a symbiotic unit, as if they were made for each other. No longer did one planet's biosytem 'win' or 'lose', replacing each other in a battle to the death. The system was truly greater than the sum of its parts. With only a little maintenance both flourished.

    Ehm's home was an area that had a small labyrinth of fungus which was pink, but varied in hue from purple to slightly gray. Interspersed within the blunt and rounded fungal cylinders and branching tubules were pods of soil and crevices that supported grasses, lichens and pools of water with abundant life Earth forms. Even when the fungus was 'dominant' a whole microfauna of Earth species was present. Shannon was always amazed as she viewed the complexity. Even as a non-biologist she could perceive something beautiful here. Gaian biologists would gladly pay a month's salary just to come here just to walk for an hour in such a place.

    This towering of fungus of Ehm's home reached up almost 20 meters. Shannon could actually walk within some of the larger 'halls'. She liked calling it Ehm's Cathedral, which it resembled to her. The fungal stalks tapered up to form a corridor that looked, from the inside, like a Gothic arch with a decidedly rounded organic flare. From the outside it looked like an irregular and globular mass, like most all fungus looked from the outside.

    Already another day had passed. It had been a day of learning and discovery, as usual, with Ehm as her guide. He was unfailingly polite and was almost eager to explain and answer, as well as he was able, all of Shannon's questions. Some, Shannon thought, must seem as silly to Ehm as were his question to her about 'tickling'.

    Shannon sat in the late afternoon sun looking off to the sinking sun in the west. She had been gone for over 2 days, and her meager store of rations was almost exhausted. If she were a biologist or an ecologist she could have simply lived off the fruitful land, but no such luck. Ehm's meals were inedible to Shannon, as they were mainly quasi-organic Chiron mobile life forms that existed as part of the xenofunus ecosystem. It would be dark in about 3 hours, and it was time to go home. Strangely, even through she enjoyed the luxurious surrounding of the MorganRitz she felt more at home out here. It was peaceful here. A sense of the Serenity of Planet that Deirdre had always told her to open her mind to started to make sense.

    Almost sadly she stood up from the short 'stump' of fungus she had been sitting on and looked off into the distance toward the Metropolis of Morgan Industries. It dominated the horizon, with its towers grasping toward the sky. It was the second largest city on Planet, after UN Headquarters, and offered untold luxuries, vices, dangers, and pleasures. It was a human world; a miniature parody of the great cities of long lost Earth. In truth, it supported only 100,000 souls. The great megatropolises of old Earth had reached 120 million before Unity departed. Truly, human society on Chiron was but a shadow of former glory. This, the hybrid forest, was a world of both Chiron and Humans. This had to be humanities future, not the clusterings of old human habits, which were so hard to break. Those human tendencies had failed so spectacularly on Earth. They threatened to fail on Planet, too.

    Maybe. One day.

    Ehm skittered over to her and stroked her ankle, not as a 'tickle' but as a farewell. He knew she was leaving.

    I have to go now.

    I know EarthLindly. There is confusion. Anger. Happiness.

    Why would Ehm say that? What was going on? There are many times I wish I had psi talent.

    Goodbye, Ehm

    Shannon started her walk back to the city. The trail was vague, being only occasionally used by the robots that harvested resources. She would have to hurry, since many parts of the city were simply not safe in the evening, especially the Delta Sector, which she would have to pass through. After 15 minutes she turned on her comm, which she usually turned off during her little sojourns with Ehm, and was surprised when it told her she had 23 priority messages and 201 secondary messages.

    Good god. Shannon thought. What's happened.

    She immediately played the important messages, and her shock only increased. First, Morgan had liberated the two Gaian cities Gaia's Landing/Worker's Nest and Nessus Shining/Hole of Aspiration. Second, Morgan had broken his pack with Yang and was not at war with him. Third, Morgan now had a Planet Buster. Fourth, Deirdre had perplexing new orders for her. Lastly, Morgan Senior was requesting an audience ASAP.

    Looks like her days of easy and relaxing days at Morgan Industries were at an end.

    This perception was strengthened when she saw a heloflyer making a b-line for her. They had found her. She stepped forward and waved. They obviously had her transponder code, so she decided to help them out.

    As the helojet got closer she saw the Morgan Industries logo. It was traveling at terrific speed, too. They must be in a hurry.

    So, it is official. No more gallivanting for me - back to being the Gaian Ambassador to Morgania Shannon thought.

    Resigned, Shannon walked toward the landing helo, the wind from its propwash tussling her auburn hair.

    [This message has been edited by Hydro (edited September 22, 1999).]

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  • Tokek Belerang
    replied
    Three messages commlinked their way through cyberspace to the terminal of Marlo Hollis.

    "Reluctantly, but - Yea. Truce it should be - Yang has been hurt enough, and we need to be more wary of a planetbusting CEO right now."

    Signed, Teresia Giacomazzi.

    And the second:

    "Yea."

    From Patricia McMillan.

    And the last:

    "Nay. Every assistance must continue to be given to the usurper Haarand Ashaandi. Yang must be destroyed, and destroyed utterly. Miriam Godwinson is dead - now let us finish Sheng-Ji Yang, and Planet may gain the Peace of the Builders at last."

    It came in over the commlink of Salvador St. James, but the signature said something else.

    It said, Colonel Corazón Santiago.

    ------------------
    Numquam turbae misceri

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  • Googlie
    replied
    Marlo was sitting half asleep with her feet up on Googlie’s desk in the SAC guest office he had appropriated.

    His commlink beeped, startling her, and she activated the screen.

    She was surprised to see the features of Chairman Sheng-Ji Yang on the screen, and to hear him offer peace terms.

    Then an unfamiliar face took his place.

    “I am Sang Shimoda, Chief Civilian officer for the Hive. Chairman Yang authorized that transmission to Federation Governor Allardyce and Supreme Commander Burge a few minutes ago. I am to receive any reply. You will understand, I am sure, that he would prefer to talk in person to Colonel Santiago. Is she by any chance available?”

    ‘Bastard’ thought Marlo.

    “No,” she said sweetly, and neither are Allardyce or Burge.”

    “Then to whom am I talking?” asked Shimoda.

    “Marlo Hollis, Acting Federation Governor, at your service.”

    “Ah, the redoubtable Ms. Hollis. Your fame has preceded you. Have you an answer for the Chairman?”

    “I will need to consult with the Junta Command. It is, what, 2.00 in the morning Chiron Universal Time. We have a ceasefire in place as of 9.00 midnight, for 18 hours. I will reply to you before 9.00 noon today, that is, within 7 hours. Is that sufficient?”

    Shimoda smiled indulgently.

    “It will have to be, won’t it?” he said.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Marlo encrypted the recording, and sent it in a secure burst to the Junta members and anyone else she could think of. She got the names largely from Googlie’s secure list.

    Burge/Ashaandi
    Honshu
    Honshu(Motohiro)
    Tucker
    Atreus
    Miller
    Levavassier
    Lockhart
    Giacomazzi
    St James
    McMillan
    Hargreaves
    Bonaventura
    Copy to Corazon Santiago file.

    ‘Too bad if I’ve missed anyone’ thought Marlo as she hit the transmit.

    Her covering message simply said:

    “By the authority vested in me by Federation Governor Allardyce, I will confirm the truce to be permanent unless instructed to the contrary before 9.00 noon today by a majority of those voting.”

    She appended Googlie’s electronic seal

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