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The Melancholy of Mackie-Chan
Meta: Dartz, I just sent you some thoughts by site message, to prevent clutter in this thread.
Rob Kelk
"Governments have no right to question the loyalty of those who oppose
them. Adversaries remain citizens of the same state, common subjects of
the same sovereign, servants of the same law."

- Michael Ignatieff, addressing Stanford University in 2012
To: Jet Jaguar
From: James Bostwick

No, all we've done so far is random overflights with a waved F4R. First with cameras and later with a waved ground penetrating radar. As you can see there are four different sites with scorch patterns. So far nothing but enough tunnels to make Mt. Sirabachi look like a kids coloring book maze.
And I realise I've made a drastic mistake. by not coming up with a proper antagonist first. I suppose it doesn't technically matter, considering it's not the main thrust of the story... I should've worked this out beforehand but I pushed ahead to pop some life into the forum.

Anyway. Who would do this? Why? What could be important enough to be worth shooting down random pilots when they fly overhead?

Can we work something solid out here? Where I wanted to go needs someone capable of providing a worthy opponent to a combat cyborg running close to the ragged edge. (I'd hoped the last scene would suggest that something wasn't right - Jet's running right over him. I might've done it wrong)
--m(^0^)m-- Wot, no sig?
My first thought is, are we looking at something aimed at Jet and Frigga in particular, or are they a more general threat? Someone indulging in a bit of space piracy or random mayhem perhaps, with the mentality of 'no one cares if some stupid Fen get themselves killed'?
Hmmmmm... We never did determine what happened to Quattro after she escaped from Nehalennia, she's both sufficiently ruthless and sufficiently overconfident to pull something like this, and she does have a motive to dislike the Friggans... From her point of view, it's a shame Anika contacted Miyuri instead of Yayoi - Quattro's revenge won't quite be complete once the Friggans take the bait. Assuming we go with Quattro as the antagonist, of course.

EDIT: Wait, I'm confusing Quattro and Naoko there. Quattro doesn't care about Yayoi.
Rob Kelk
"Governments have no right to question the loyalty of those who oppose
them. Adversaries remain citizens of the same state, common subjects of
the same sovereign, servants of the same law."

- Michael Ignatieff, addressing Stanford University in 2012
As always, if we go with Quattro, I put my vote in for her having her 'Starlight Breaker through the ship' moment and the smug being wiped away... along with most of her jaw Tongue
Depending on when you have it set, your could have it be a shadowy government agency of some type, from country that makes the most sense. Or a splinter bosk group that was pretty minor and got missed in the aftermath.
A more general threat for sure.... a mundane nation's secret program might make for an interesting dilemma. But I think that story's been done....

Quattro is.... somewhere. Probably somewhere cold, and unlikely to escape from unless someone sends her to space-Arkham by mistake....

Naoko - this isn't her style. Had another plotbunny to further ruin Naoko's life, funnily enough.
--m(^0^)m-- Wot, no sig?
How about Grey or some other Boskone that we haven't caught yet
Don't want to be the person to use them up.... although that does give me an idea for a fairly interesting moment later on.

The story was always supposed to be something more than just Mackie spending a few weeks as a Seinen heroine - that's just the hook to bring people in. I wanted to play with their relationship, Jet's sanity and a few other comments on the Crystal Millenium.

Something's on the moon, somebody was doing something with it, and it's worth shooting folk down to hide. And Jet's gone off on one trying to find who it was.

Mackie, and anyone willing to tag along, has to find her, prefereably before it goes way too far or gets out in public.
--m(^0^)m-- Wot, no sig?
Rajvik Wrote:How about Grey or some other Boskone that we haven't caught yet
We've set Grey up as a very difficult nut to crack - you have to catch his "all knowing" (except that he isn't) assistant Profeta first. And this doesn't seem like his style anyway.
Rob Kelk
"Governments have no right to question the loyalty of those who oppose
them. Adversaries remain citizens of the same state, common subjects of
the same sovereign, servants of the same law."

- Michael Ignatieff, addressing Stanford University in 2012
We do have other groups to work with (see the ... n_Fenspace]Wiki's Crime in Fenspace page).

While we could have the Criminal Guild behind this, this sounds more like the Concordat or Big Fire.
The Concordat sounds interesting. It might even tie in to the previous half-finished thing with the Hi-Streamer.

Is there any specific source material for them?
--m(^0^)m-- Wot, no sig?
Not really. The closest source material is The Trust from the Stargate SG1 TV series. The idea behind them was to be a fendane conspiracy with the Dane reaching into the Fen side of the equation.

In practical terms they (and Big Fire) are supposed to be what-the-hell-did-we-step-in-now level enemies. Mostly you touch at the fringes, but if you get a major project things get interesting.

Quote:"Define 'interesting'."

"'Oh God, Oh God, We're all going to die'?"

EDIT after sleeping on it:[/]
As to what could be up if the Concordat is involved? Probably something commercial (they still do the 'because we can' stuff). Rare minerals? Luna Titanium? Manufacture of illegal goods? Research and development of currently illegal tech?
I like the last two myself...
Hear that thunder rolling till it seems to split the sky?
That's every ship in Grayson's Navy taking up the cry-

-- "No Quarter", by Echo's Children
Cobalt Greywalker Wrote:As to what could be up if the Concordat is involved? Probably something commercial (they still do the 'because we can' stuff). Rare minerals? Luna Titanium? Manufacture of illegal goods? Research and development of currently illegal tech?
Helium-3 mining? (Unlikely considering they're in a maze of twisty passages, but not impossible given wavetech and WFC tech.)
Rob Kelk
"Governments have no right to question the loyalty of those who oppose
them. Adversaries remain citizens of the same state, common subjects of
the same sovereign, servants of the same law."

- Michael Ignatieff, addressing Stanford University in 2012
Uranium mining? No doubt banned or heavily restricted Upstairs.
Edit: Oh! Or uranium enrichment.
Interesting. I could, as they say, work with this...

Especially considering the RF-155 engine cores run on something 'with a little more kick that gasoline'. Becky Brown being a step up from that.
--m(^0^)m-- Wot, no sig?
I'd say it's heavily controlled. By this point, I'm sure Fenspacers have found other productive uses for the stuff, after all.
It is definitely heavily controlled. By this point, everybody important (and almost everyone else) knows what Kaboomite is, and that the SOS-Dan Convention has Kohran's hardware to make more. They don't have Kohran's know-how, though, so that would need to be developed independently.

Mind you, there are a very-few postgraduate nuclear-physics students with the necessary skills, and one or more might have slipped through the FBI/NSA/AEC (or country-specific equivalent) net designed to catch them all and give them jobs with the government.
Rob Kelk
"Governments have no right to question the loyalty of those who oppose
them. Adversaries remain citizens of the same state, common subjects of
the same sovereign, servants of the same law."

- Michael Ignatieff, addressing Stanford University in 2012
Quote:so that would need to be developed independently.

This is of course, what Mushroom Kingdom seeks to prevent from happening. Coincidentally.....
--m(^0^)m-- Wot, no sig?
Which in its own way would give the Consortium almost a triple reason to do so.

1) Successfull development and production gives them a darn terrifing weapon

2) having such a weapon, they can sell it to other Bosko's for really really big bucks to fund their own nefarious plans

3) the Bosko street cred for not only having done so, but having done so almost litterally under the noses of the Supers, Stellavia and the rest of the Mushroom Kingdom.
Hear that thunder rolling till it seems to split the sky?
That's every ship in Grayson's Navy taking up the cry-

-- "No Quarter", by Echo's Children
Two hours ago, she'd never existed.

Now, Gaige Kisaragi had an old apartment in Crystal Kyoto, two bank accounts with enough money to furnish a single-person apartment on 77 Frigga, and a pilot's license issued last year by Crystal Hiroshima. Her new ID card had been freshly printed.

Name: Gaige Kisaragi.
G: F-A
DOB: 08/09/2003.
Residence. Eleanor City. 77 Frigga.
Privilege code: 1D2

Surprisingly high, considering. But then, she'd been told the algorithm also took account of physical attractiveness, whether the person wanted it on their side, or not. Gaige's annual dues had still halved. It seemed unfair, somehow.

She took a breath.

“I'm Gaige Kisaragi.”

A hollow silence answered. Every spark in her mind said otherwise. She placed the card back in it's pocket in her wallet, then slipped the wallet in her jeans pocket.

Only for a few weeks.

She took a few steps, the movements of her body no longer completely unfamiliar, but still not yet right. Things moved where she expected them to move. Her bra compressed down on every breath, constricting down. Her underwear hugged tight. The belt on her jeans pressed against her hips.

She walked right up to the window which made for the far wall

Her sister's face gazed back at her from the sun-blasted wastela

No, not anymore. Gaige could see the differences. Subtle, but there. A sharper chin, more bite to the eyes. Almost a twin, but not quite. A coarser hair style completed the differences. Maybe related, maybe cut from the same memetic cloth, but different people. Drawn by a different artist.

“I'm Gaige Kisaragi,” she said. “Test Pilot for Asagiri. I'm from Crystal Kyoto.”

Her guts twisted an answer

“I'm Gaige Kisaragi,” she tried again. “Test Pilot for Asagiri racing. I'm from Crystal Kyoto.” She took a breath. “Anything else is none of your damn business.”

The pose the reflection struck completed the image. Arms folded at the stomach, glaring down, daring to challenge. Red hair burned. Gaige Kisaragi stood outside on the asteroid surface.

Something sparked in response. Not who she wanted to be, but maybe a glimpse of someone she could've idolised on screen. An image that could be tolerated. What was it someone once said about Fenspace – you have the chance to be your own hero.

A small smile came to her lips for the first time since she'd woken up. At least for a few weeks

A mischievous spark flickered in her mind. Both hands pressed against her breasts, drawing lucious tingles throughout her body,

“I want you Mackie,” she said, drawing heavy breaths. “Truly,” she breathed, “Deeply,” she husked, “Lovingly” She rolled her tongue around the word, licking her lips as she drew an electric finger along her stomach. A giddy thrill shuddered through her body. “And you are hot, aren't you sweetling?”

Mind and body burst into war, leaving her standing there trying to make sense of it all. She stood there shivering, cold thrills crawling from her thighs up her spine, gazing at the woman she desperately wanted to embrace in that moment, mind longing for the warmth of her body against her own

Three simple words came to mind out from the fog.

Go fuck yourself.

And she burst out laughing, filling the room and ringing back at her.

“I'm Gaige Kisaragi,” she gave herself a rueful smile. “For a few weeks at least.”

Satisfied as much as possible, she stepped away from the window, pacing around the apartment. The living area furniture had been salvaged from Serenity, with only low-end monitor, barely capable of 4k output and a few cheap couches. Nothing to write home about. The kitchen had an electric cooker, a microwave and a fridge. The tap on the kitchen sink rattled when opened, a stuttering flow of water gurgling down a black-hole sink. She let it run to clean out the pipework.

The bedroom up on the mezzanine had a single bed covered in worn sheets, two empty closets and not much else.

No different from anyone else's apartment before they had the chance to make it their own. Old, recycled, just enough to live in. By the end of the year, the whole accommodation block would be fitted out and ready.

Gaige had her own apartment, a motoroid, a shipment of personal possessions on the next midget from Kyoto, a wardrobe that varied from nosebleed to normal, a history, even a Facebook account that'd been created, backdated, then sparsely populated with mindless inanities that'd look real but never actually said anything..

Parachuted into a new life. Another person's shoes. Conjoured into being out of vapour but still hers. She glanced around the empty apartment. This was her space. The idea entered her mind that not even Jet could open that door without her permission.

Maybe afterwards, she could keep it.

She lay back on her bed and stared up at the concrete ceiling.

But isn't that how it starts? And then by the end, this becomes the new normal to the point where the struggle of going back just doesn't seem worth it. A few too many showers. Maybe finally working up the courage to go a little deeper on the self investigation....

Maybe Mackie did die in the crash, and this new person gets built out of the wreckage? Already, software patched the gaps, helping her walk and sit and relax in peace. Had anything else been patched?

And what of the wave when it got involved?

She knew what it'd done to her Sister's mind. That's why she had a Sister and not whatever Jet had identified herself as before.

Isn't this all part of of the railroad? Horror. Discomfort. Tolerance. Acceptance. Enjoyment. And then, Mackie's finally allowed to die and be mourned when Gaige Kisaragi usurps his place because she can't bear the thought of ever being him again because she's built her life back up and enjoys it so much.

A terrible thought rang in his mind.

Had her Sister planned this? Something didn't seem right about her earlier. But she wouldn't be like that about it, would she?

Gaige stared, holding her hand in front of her face,

Objectively – judged purely as a machine – it was the better body. Stronger. Faster. Better senses. More efficient on energy and probably capable of running longer if she pushed it. An athlete's body, rather than a teenager's.

Another lure to tempt.

Gaige decided to spend the day in her apartment rather than face the public.

Time to settle in, she told herself. Time to build up the courage to step outside in public again and put on the mask. Time to enjoy a little peace and quiet and just think things through.

The locked door ensured her privacy.

A quick shower washed away Frigga's grime. Already, the mind had begun to adapt, sensations no longer alien, even if they were still wrong. A can of deoderant still taught a painful lesson. She wondered as she dried herself if she'd have to go through the same thing in reverse.

So, that's how it starts another part of her mind whispered. When you get to the point where going through all this discomfort and strangeness again to go back seems worse than just carrying on being Gaige?

She'd never admit to anyone that she tried on a pair of shorts with an extra bundle of socks in the crotch, just to see if it'd feel the same. If anything, it made her feel worse, accentuating the differences while reminding of what wasn't there anymore.

She paced around in the cold air, before finally slipping into a silken nightgown that'd once been her Sister's.

Nothing else. Bare feet crossed the concrete floor.

Sheer silk caressed her skin, cool and soothing as she settled a seat to watch some streams. Her legs crossed, then recrossed themselves, the body finding it's own point of comfort. Gaige couldn't help but admit that she agreed with it on this occasion. A hot cup of coffee, Schwarzmarken on the stream and no bra compressing her chest.

If she had to be like this, she could gladly spend the next few weeks exactly like this.

--m(^0^)m-- Wot, no sig?
War is just a form of politics by other means. It's an old saying. In the last few months Jet's come to understand the opposite is also true. Once you understand that, being Baron gets a lot easier

She'd still give anything to be anywhere but a stuffy office deep inside Crystal Tokyo, explaining exactly how search engine optimisation worked and the value of being top of the heap come election time.

Square peg meets round hole. She wishes to be somewhere else, for any excuse. Her wish is granted

Koimura, deputy for west Hiroshima, sees the change in her face and offers his best Pan-Am smile.

“Wow, no need to react like I ran over your dog,”

A twitch rolls through the cyber's body and her gets the feeling that maybe he's just touched a raw nerve.

“I need to leave. It's personal.”

Jet doesn't even wait for the formalities, she's gone and out of the city. A ping reminder for a 3-whip sounds in the back of her mind, but she ignores it. By the time the message from Kusadasi gets to gets to her wondering where she is with the Independent Alliance trying to push a no-confidence through she's left the city.

By the time she bothers to respond, she's left the planet.

“My brother's shuttle has gone missing.”

That's the only explanation she offers. A message from Koimura reaches her, letting her know he's stepped out of the vote, out of respect. Well-wishes follow from the entire parliament, but she doesn't read them. The Tokyo parliament might as well be a weber-block for all it matters to her and getting to the moon.

For the first time in years she feels the vast gulf of space – the void between worlds yawning open to swallow her body. It gives her time to think, time to entertain the worst possibilities and fears. Time to despair. Time to hope.

She's twenty minutes out when they find the wreck.

No sign of life.

Stellvia passes a moment before she starts her landing, streaking to the moon. The difference between a crater and a deft landing is an instant in time, but she's mastered it. Made it instinct.

Shards of carbon sit splashed across the surface of the moon, deep scars carved in the dust where the harder parts land. One ofthe three spacesuits there finally notices her arrival, putting itself between her and the wreck.

“Hey! Stop!”

No force in the universe could stop her. Eventually, the suit relents.

“We found parts of the cockpit. Over there.”

Nothing recogniseable. Splintered carbon. Cable. What might be a finger. A piece of instrument. A chunk of the canopy. A boot burst on impact. Dessicated rags, crumbling to the touch. Remnants of a seat. A control column with flakes of something pressed into it. A shattered helmet, and the remains still inside.

Something tears inside, a little death deep inside her heart. She feels the magnificent desolation engulf her soul, alone in the galaxy.

She can't even cry.


The suit holds up its hands, taking a step back. “We haven't even found the recorder yet”

There isn't one. They stripped everything out of those lightweights – even the black boxes. She asks herself how.

Her muse answers with a way to find out. A paper dating backdated

She launches with the skull in hand. Ruined, but the hardware seems intact. RAM chips can still hold residual charge. Jet pings a message to A.C., hiding her reason for now. Confirmed. She has maybe five hours with that model – 1 hour already gone. Six to the Forge. Four Home.

Already, she knows her brother is dead. Fine. She resigns herself to it. But she has to know how. Or who?

For her own sanity.

She has four hours to figure out what to do.

“Hey Jet, What's....”

Anika throws up when she sees what inside the helmet. Jet doesn't care – she just needs somewhere to put the chips – something that'd let her get access to what was inside.

The last few moments of memory, right before the impact.

The Galatea project is nowhere near complete. But her puppet might do.

Jet cuts through the remains with a saw. This isn't Mackie. This is just a thing. A remnant. Mackie's gone, she reminds herself.

Parts of the mainboard are gone, but the core chip and memory stacks seem to be intact. Most of the control and I/O interface has broken off along with something she can't identify. It doesn't matter – she knows a dirty way around.

It'd work through her puppet's interface if she tied the core through it.

To buy time, she powers the chips, locking them into a continuous self-refresh mode. The last few seconds are burned in.

After thirteen years, you pick up a few tricks. Amuse helps, filling in the blanks before she knows they're there.

She has to know. What killed her brother.

It drives her forward, feeding into inspiration.

The puppet's interface isn't supposed to be used like this, and neither is the mainboard and memory controller but it works. It'll work long enough for her to dive in. Jet checks signal paths. All looks well. Battered hardware is holding up. The shock gel inside the skull did its job. One last check. An alarm.

A ghost. A consciousness.

She hates whomever decided on that term.

She sickens at the idea of what she's done. She's seen broken AI minds before. Sometimes dead is better and she knows it. She wouldn't have even tried this if she thought there was a chance....

But there it is. An echo. A ghost. A mind broken on impact.

Frankenstein's compulsion takes hold. She has to know. To see for sure.

She dives through the connection.

There he is, bewildered in virtual space. In a Daze.

“Mackie,” she tries. The ghost responds. It remembers. She doesn't dare hope it's intact – she knows that's beyond her skill.

There's no relief. It's not really him, her mind whispers and she longs to ignore it, forcing herself to answer. She wants it to be, forces it, pulling the puppet into a sisterly hug. A show, maybe.

The ghost tells her what she needs to know.

Mackie's dead. And someone killed him.

--m(^0^)m-- Wot, no sig?
... Well, that's worrying. And likely going to end with at least several people hitting Jet.

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