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Hydro's post from the Firaxis forum

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  • Hydro's post from the Firaxis forum

    I thought that this was one of the best short stories yet. I've copied it below in its entirety.

    Hydro posted 06-23-99 12:09 PM ET
    Q: Why might a lurker come into the harsh light of the SMAC forums from the safety of obscurity? A: Because the lurker feels compelled to do so.
    I felt compelled to join the SMAC community after reading the great SMAC short stories! For months I ignored the SMAC Fiction forum. Big mistake. Then I read Unavoidable Casualties (Elemental). WOW! Then, desiring more, I read Mindworm (Googlie). Another WOW! Shortly thereafter I read the rest (on this and other forums)and enjoyed them all.

    These stories brought into focus what I truly love about SMAC: it is a world that seems (at least in my mind) to have a life of its own. Other games (like MoO2 and even Civ2) are fun, but lack depth. I would never get personally involved, thinking things like "Lal, you treacherous bastard!How could you do that to me!" or "Morgan, you bloody idiot! Now Yang is going to eat you alive!" or "Mirim, so you want a treaty. That will last, oh, a nanosecond". In my mind Brian and Sid have successfully created a world that, in the spirit of science fiction, comes alive. No small achievement!

    With that said, I humbly submit a short story for your amusement.

    The Interview
    M.Y. 2234

    Another citizen was escorted into the interview room. The woman was of indeterminate years and wore a strangely archaic black suit and white shirt, which was slightly soiled and appeared to be singed on the right side. Looking around the small room, she noticed the table and miss-matched chair, and a mounted holo projector that was obviously set to receive and transmit her actions. After hesitating briefly she seated herself, the expression on her face showing she was relieved to be off her feet.

    One standing and two seated figures watched the holo display in a dimly lit control room. The seated junior technician looked up at the statuesque Interviewer, who nodded. He then activated the two-way audio to the interview room and a data display. The Interviewer glanced at the data display and then spoke softly, yet clearly, to no one in particular; “Your name is Shu Hoy Hathaway. Available information indicates you are a performer. Our data are incomplete, please elaborate.”

    The woman in the interview room started at the sound of the voice. After a moment she responded, “Yes, sir. I am a synthviolinist, on a two-month tour. My Vitae should be available under the name Shu Hoy Myong. I am recently married.”

    “Thank you. One moment,” the disembodied voice responded. In the control room the small female senior technician called up the Vitae for the ‘new’ name on the city Datalinks and routed the information to the data display. The Interviewer silently examined the data for a moment, and one eyebrow very slightly arched upward.

    “Madam, I believe we have a common history. I, too, was aboard Unity. Although we have not previously met, your reputation proceeds you. I would be honored if you would demonstrate your art,” the Interviewer requested.

    The synthviolininst responded, “I would be pleased. Unfortunately my instrument is not with me.”

    “I will have your synthviolin brought to you,” the Interviewer responded. In the control room the junior male technician whispered into a pers-com. 30 seconds later an attendant entered the interview room and placed her synthviolin case on the table in front of Madam Hathaway.

    A gentle smile appeared on Shu Hoy’s face as she ran her fingers lightly over the case. With subtle dexterity her fingers activated the case’s datapad, inspected the readings, and started the opening sequence. There was a brief sucking sound, as the hermetic seal was broken, and the case lid opened. Shu Hoy briefly caressed the polished synth maple and beech, rosined her bow, and manually tuned her synthviolin.

    “What would you like me to play, sir?” Shu Hoy inquired.

    “Mozart’s First Violin Concerto,” the Interviewer responded. Then he added, “In the style of Pearlman.” Shu Hoy nodded, stood fully erect, paused, closed her eyes, and began to play.

    The Interviewer blinked twice, and noticed something was different. When had Shu Hoy started to play the third movement? He examined his chronometer and noted that 15 minutes had passed, and mentally berated himself for his lack of control. Glancing to his right, the junior male technician had a far away look in his eyes and a slightly slack-jawed expression on his face. To his right the senior technician had an irritated frown on her face – the look of non-comprehension. She immediately caught his glance and straightened to attention. The Interviewer motioned to cut the control room feed on the two-way audio.

    “Technician, call up the detailed history of Madam Hathaway” the Interviewer ordered, and the technician immediately complied. As the Interviewer examined the record he grew concerned. She had trained on Earth at Juliard, had completed multiple world tours of Earth for the U.N, and had been nominated to be the Senior Musical Specialist aboard Unity “to bring music to Chiron” by the U.N. Secretary General herself. This woman was over 210 Terran years old. Only society’s elite received the extraordinarily expensive longevity treatments – clearly, the Peacekeeper government valued this woman as a Talent to be preserved at all costs. Her ability was extraordinary, perhaps unique, as was her music’s effect on some individuals. The Interviewer gazed at the transfixed and enraptured junior technician. This woman is actually dangerous, in her own way. Yes, something would have to be done. Immediately.

    “Technician,” the Interviewer said, “schedule this woman to receive an immediate pyto-chemical lobotomy with standard RNA reeducation as a,” he paused to type in a query into his personal datapad, “sanitary maintenance worker. It is clear she has no current productive skills.”

    “Yes, Sir,” the senior technician responded, “The queue is currently 2 days, shall I give her a Blue Priority?”

    “Yes, that would be acceptable” the Interviewer commented. “Also, have all of her personal effects, especially all hard and e-copies of her music and the instrument, destroyed.”

    “Yes, sir,” the senior tech chirped.

    “Before I leave I have two more tasks for you” the Interviewer continued, “First, see to it that all non-approved music files are purged from the city Datalinks and replaced with selections from the last 10 years of Ode to Productivity and Growth. Second, your junior technician requires additional ‘training’. See to it. I now have other duties to attend to. Carry on.”

    The senior technician broke out in a squint-eyed grin, “Gladly, sir.” The pale illumination in the room showed only her leer, a vaguely brown jumper, and her bald head.

    The Interviewer took the pneumatic elevator 13 floors down to the ground level. While passing to the lobby he noted a hissing sound, indicating some of the Chiron atmosphere was getting into the building. More battle damage, he thought. Nitrogen narcosis due to exposure to the Chiron atmosphere negatively effected productivity. He made a note in his datapad and assigned a Level 3 priority for its repair. This done, he donned his air-purifying mask and cycled the airlock.

    Outside, the double Chiron suns were bright and the sky clear. At least 15 Chaos infantry squads lumbered over the sporadic debris in the streets, herding terrified civilians to holding stations or ‘reeducation’ centers. Down the street the 20 story Peacekeeper Administrative Complex was fully engulfed in flame, the pall of its black smoke reached upward and then west like a bent finger. Three blue Chaos needlejets screamed across the sky.

    Triumphantly, Chairman Yang strode out under the Chiron suns in his resplendent blue battle armor to receive the cheers of his conquering army.


    [This message has been edited by Googlie (edited January 08, 2000).]

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