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Story Time: Team Aether Plans

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CallmeBlue
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Joined: 06/14/2014 - 01:37
Story Time: Team Aether Plans

A Matter of Gravity
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

KOINON-NET ARCHIVE: [REDACTED]

VOICE RECORD

SPACE-TIME COORDINATES: [REDACTED]
COLLOQUIAL DESIGNATION: Needle of Night

[BEGIN RECORD]

[Operative Crabbe]: So, as you can see, The Scourge are using this natural wormhole to transfer fleet assets from the Grey bases in universe [REDACTED] to their offensive in the [REDACTED] Spiral Arm of Galaxy [REDACTED] in Universe [REDACTED].

Currently, the opposition consists of a coalition of 34 major species and their minor allies. Over the past month, The Scourge have focused their offensive toward system [REDACTED].

That is a sound choice on their part, since the system is heavily industrialized, with a total sophont population, including megastructures and space-based habitats, approaching 29 trillion.
[REDACTED] alone produces 10% of the Coalition’s war materiel, and takes a leadership role in Coalition strategic planning.

Although the system has been building up its defenses, the 15000 heavies currently en route via the wormhole will probably be enough to overrun it.

[Captain Trajan: Note: Originator of Record]: Magos, what’s this?

[Magos Blue]: Elven elderberry brandy. Have some if you like.

[Operative Crabbe]: So, anyway, that’s the situation.

[Quasar]: Jenn, Cryo, and I have a possible remedy. Can we zoom to the system of the wormhole? Yes, there.

System [REDACTED] is trinary, with the wormhole in a distant orbit around two stars, an orange giant and a white dwarf, which orbit each other close enough to represent a contact binary.

As often happens in such cases, the contact binary is also a cataclysmic variable. In other words, matter from the orange giant accumulates on the surface of the white dwarf until it triggers a brief episode of greatly enhanced fusion commonly known as a nova.

The white dwarf is almost due for a nova, but The Scourge are willing to risk one last convoy through the wormhole. That’s where we come in.

[Blake Sigurdsson]: I always wanted to goose a star.

[Quasar]: It’s not as easy as you might think. Antimatter warheads lack sufficient energy density, so Cryo and I came up with a different approach.

Perhaps you’ve heard of magnetic monopoles? They’re tricky to contain, and harder to manipulate, but boy do they ever make for fantastic fusion catalysts!

Jenn ran a few numbers for me…

[Jenn Jones]: I borrowed most of the surplus computing capacity of 23,000 industrialized systems, and four major superintelligent processing nodes, for the past week.

[Magos Blue]: How did we pay for all that? Please tell me we didn’t just proliferate the knowledge for a new arms race through the multiverse.

[Jenn Jones]: Ha! The four superintelligences already knew all about conversion weapons, and helped out as part of the war effort; but I configured the mass-distribution software package as a game. Hit the top-played lists on over half the systems, too.

[Magos Blue]: Can we trust these silicon gods with such a crucial calculation?

[Jenn Jones]: Can we trust ANY gods? The ones I approached all had good reasons to be annoyed with Grey Infinity.

[Quasar]: Anyway, it turns out that Gaugamela can pack enough monopole-loaded missiles to cook off the white dwarf in its entirety. With correct targeting, the explosion will proceed as a chain reaction, producing a focused relativistic jet, like a shaped charge, in an arc of 30 degrees or so.

Although the natural wormhole has survived multiple novas from the white dwarf, the focused supernova should be too much for it. Several failure modes are possible, but all cases should be… spectacular. Gravitic waves from the collapse will prevent access to hyperspace or temporary wormholes.

[Operative Crabbe]: That’s quite a blast. But what about the portion of the explosion outside the main arc?

[Quasar]: Well, Gaugamela could be in for a bit of a rough ride. Assuming that we depart at maximum thrust as soon as the missiles are away, our calculations show that she should reach a safe distance before shields fail.

[Cryonic]: Barely.

[Operative Crabbe]: How do we get close enough? The Scourge will post scouts throughout the system. Given the strength of the main force, I’d expect 50 to 100 heavies on the far side of the binary.

Gaugamela can’t last long outnumbered 80 to one.

[Captain Trajan]: The Koinon will never agree to send Gaugamela on a suicide mission!

[Quasar]: Well, if Blue can make her invisible for four hours or so?

[Magos Blue]: Cloak a fifty-kilometer dreadnought once, and people will expect you to do it again. Yes, with preparation, and help from Red and Green, I should be able to.

Just understand that if The Scourge have wage mages nearby, they certainly will detect a spell of such magnitude.

[Blake Sigurdsson]: After the pasting we gave them at [REDACTED], The Scourge are finding archmages a bit pricey to hire.

[Magos Blue]: It only takes one, Red.

What does R.E.G.G.I.E. say about the chance of that happening?

[Jenn Jones]: Twenty-seven percent.

[Magos Blue]: And P.Y.T.H.I.A.?

[Jenn Jones]: Still analyzing replies. “No” is leading at 35%.

[Magos Blue]: So, we can destroy a star system on purpose this time, and with it a permanent feature of two universes. I miss the days when “a new secret weapon” meant an extra bank of oars on a galley.

[Cryonic]: And save 29 trillion lives. That’s what we do.

[Magos Blue]: All right, everyone pick your marble for the vote.

Crabbe, please brief Wepwawet and Alecto; we’ll need them to vote on a gamble of this magnitude too, even if they don’t like to deal with questions of science.

Captain, I trust you will return with the Koinon’s reply once you’re done with that brandy?

[END RECORD]

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.

CallmeBlue
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Joined: 06/14/2014 - 01:37
Sharper Than Any Two-Edged

Sharper Than Any Two-Edged Sword
___________________________________________________________________________________________________

KOINON-NET ARCHIVE: [REDACTED]

VOICE RECORD

SPACE-TIME COORDINATES: [REDACTED]
COLLOQUIAL DESIGNATION: Needle of Night

[BEGIN RECORD]

[Rex Greene]: You probably know that it is common to the history of many superheroic universes that Nazi bitter-enders retreated to the Antarctic colony of New Swabia once they regarded Germany as impossible to defend at the end of World War II. In a large proportion of these universes, they found prehistoric, or even pre-human, portals to a variety of destinations there.

In universe [REDACTED], the only functioning portal led to one of the floating continents in the clockwork realm we have called “The Broken World,” located at coordinates [REDACTED].

[Operative Crabbe]: Wasn’t that one of the places that P.Y.T.H.I.A. pinged as somehow crucially important to our cause?

[Rex Greene]: Exactly so.

[Cryonic]: Have we learned why?

[Jenn Jones]: P.Y.T.H.I.A. has had more trouble than usual parsing references to this place.

[Rex Greene]: Anyway, for more than 70 years, the Nazi colony has expanded through military conquest, and not a little diplomatic maneuvering, until it completely controlled its own continent. While certainly a blight on the Broken World, it didn’t do anything drastic enough to attract the attention of any major players...until yesterday.

[Blake Sigurdsson]: It looks like Trajan nodded off again. How about a Charm of Rude Awakening?

[Magos Blue]: No, Red. He may be a political appointee, but we should stay on his good side. I doubt that we will need Gaugamela to resolve this situation anyway. Go on, Green.

[Rex Greene]: Last night, by the Needle’s clock, New Swabia launched a metahuman strike team onto Parallel Earth [REDACTED], that we have called, “Window World.”

[Quasar]: They’ve breached the quantum barrier without outside assistance? That’s not good.

[Rex Greene]: We don’t know whether they had outside assistance, developed the ability on their own, or perhaps reverse engineered the relict technology of the Broken World’s builders. For that matter, their SS magocracy could have learned how to open portals between worlds magically.

[Operative Crabbe]: Well, what DO we know?

[Rex Greene]: We know that they succeeded in stealing the sword known as Durendal from the Window-World-French superhero who calls herself, “Joan of Arc.”

Durendal is the sharpest known object in the four billion universes that we monitor.

[Quasar]: Now what the heck does that mean? Can the cutting edge be less than one atom thick?

[Cryonic]: Well, some forms of matter built from magnetic monopoles can be much smaller in radius.

[Quasar]: So this medieval artifact has cutting edges reinforced with strands of material that we can’t duplicate now?

[Magos Blue]: Qwade, you may have to accept that the sword’s cutting ability is literally miraculous, or “magical” as some might say.

[Quasar]: That doesn’t really answer the question. We could just as well say that Smurfs make the sword sharp.

[Blake Sigurdsson]: Well, we can’t prove that Wayland the Smith WASN’T a Smurf.

[Quasar]: For that matter, IS she really Joan of Arc?

[Magos Blue]: Well, that depends on what your definition of “is” is.

[Quasar]: Don’t get presidential with me, Blue. Is she really a saint who’s been dead almost five centuries?

[Magos Blue]: You know perfectly well that the Needle of Night, and the Mirror World around it, are fictional places described in that supplement for a role-playing game sitting on my shelf there. And yet, here we are.

In fact, that’s precisely why we are here and not elsewhere, since the logic bomb that our base of operations represents to Grey Infinity is what keeps them from stomping us to dust.

From a certain point of view, only choices and intentions are real, while the so-called material universes are one big illusion.

The woman believes herself to be Saint Joan. Who am I to tell her otherwise?

[Quasar]: Can’t you scan her with magic?

[Magos Blue]: You should know by now that magical techniques can yield opinions, more or less, but not what you would think of as “data.” Magic is subjective, not objective.

My observations suggest that she consists of a disembodied spirit who combines with a willing human possessing certain moral and religious qualifications. That’s actually how the Nazis stole the sword; the strike force broke into the facility where the weapon was stored while the spirit had left her human host for a while to give her some “time off.”

[Cryonic]: A parasitic lifestyle doesn’t sound very saintly to me.

[Magos Blue]: Not parasitic, more like mutualistic. The spirit takes nothing other than the ability to interact with the physical world, but gives health, strength, and spiritual comfort.

[Cryonic]: And if the host body is destroyed while inhabited?

[Magos Blue]: Well, that would be fatal to the human of course. As far as I can tell, she always mentions this possibility to prospective hosts.

[Quasar]: But what’s the origin of the spirit?

[Magos Blue]: As far as she herself knows, she is the ghost of Joan, sent to Earth to defend France.

[Wepwawet]: Qwade, do you doubt that I am a god of Khem? You would do well to recognize that higher powers interact with the physical worlds more than you know.

[Magos Blue]: Ultimately, it comes down to faith. I have faith that she means well. If you study her behavior, I suspect that you will agree. The dossier is in the mission documents for your perusal.

Now, time is short, so let’s get on with the briefing.

[Rex Greene]: We might not have known about the theft, but Doctor Paradox happened to be in Window World at the time on an unrelated mission, and by an incredible coincidence, the Nazi strike team almost ran him over.

[Magos Blue]: Remember your lessons, Green. “There are no coincidences whatsoever.”

[Rex Greene]: Of course, Blue.

[Magos Blue]: Paradox ignored my specific instructions not to put himself at risk, and invisibly followed the strike team home. He reports that the Nazis plan to take the blade to one of the sites widely believed to contain the equipment that keeps their little piece of the Broken World livable.

[Wepwawet]: That is madness! Would they destroy something they do not understand?

[Jenn Jones]: They don’t want to break the equipment. They hope to control it...and where their floating continent goes. The sword is for the force field around the equipment.

[Quasar]: They’re in for a surprise! Even working together, we couldn’t understand the scientific principles governing that force field, nor any of that tech, really. Nobody has, as far as we know.

[Operative Crabbe]: Who knows what they can do if they penetrate the force field? It’s better not to give them the chance.

[Cryonic]: CAN they pierce the force field with Durendal?

[Magos Blue]: Reliable sources that I’ve had time to consult say it’s not out of the question.

[Operative Crabbe]: So, we go in, grab the sword, and rescue Paradox, right?

[Magos Blue]: That’s the idea, but there are some tricky points.

[Rex Greene]: Durendal is said to contain several relics of importance to Roman Catholicism, and association with two great heroes of strong faith has further enhanced the sword’s spiritual qualities. It would be unwise for anyone without the right religious affiliation to handle the weapon.

To be clear, that means all of us here.

[Jenn Jones]: But the Nazis have no problems?

[Magus Blue]: The Nazis know enough not to handle it directly. Describe our precautions, Green.

[Rex Greene]: Blue, Red, and I have enchanted a small runestone like this for each of us. It will stick to the sword, and nothing else, like a magnet. Once attached, the full power of the runes will activate, and within a few seconds the sword will return to Joan.

If necessary, it should be safe to manipulate the sword with telekinesis, gravity, plant tendrils, whips, or really by any indirect means. A non-living entity lacking self-awareness also should experience no difficulties holding, or even using the sword.

[Jenn Jones]: I’ll make sure to take drones with arms.

[Magos Blue]: The Nazis gave the sword to a particularly souped-up battle-bot.

[Wepwawet]: Ah, that would be my target then, yes?

[Magos Blue]: You’re the only one here who can risk taking hits from the sharpest object in the multiverse.

[Operative Crabbe]: What else can we expect in their roster?

[Rex Greene]: Paradox reports the usual mix of local conscripts, clone troopers, light and medium exoskeleton suits, cyber-wolves, and a variety of battle bots. The SS battle-mages appear to be mostly adepts with a few masters, so they should pose little serious threat.

[Magos Blue]: Unless Paradox is mistaken, or the archmages are concealing their presence. Never underestimate the opposition, Green.

[Rex Greene]: Of course, Blue.

[Magos Blue]: Alecto, as usual, please take down anyone who targets one of us mages with conventional weapons.

[Alecto]: THEY SHALL NOT DO SO A SECOND TIME!

[Magos Blue]: Quasar, we’ll need a precise wormhole entrance at the convoy location.

[Quasar]: Give me the spacetime numbers, and it’s as good as done.

[Magos Blue]: This is pretty routine, so I hope we can dispense with formal votes, yes? If there are no further questions, let’s meet in the portal room in one hour.

[Cryonic]: Be sure to check your symbionts and bound spirits. We’ll want all 15 senses active for this mission.

[Magos Blue]: Someone please turn off Trajan’s recorder. He’ll probably still be asleep when we get b...

[END RECORD]

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.