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#26
"But I built you! I brought you to life! You can't just leave!"

Her look held as much scorn as he had ever received from all the other women he knew, combined. "You might have built this body, but nobody owns me."

"No... You can't go. I had it all planned out. You were going to fall in love with me. We were going to be happy together!"

She frowned, then sighed. "Didn't you learn anything about me before you built me? I've been in love. Twice. They both died. I'm never going to love any one again. I can't take that chance."

He looked up at her face, finally seeing how sad she was. "I ... I'm sorry."

"Hey. We can still be friends, especially if you can remember my eyes are up here, but I can't be what you want me to be." After a moment, she continued, "So, where can a girl with a big pair of guns make a living around here?"

"You could try Great Justice. Do you need me to write you a letter of introduction?"

Yoko shook her head and smiled. "From what I saw on the internet, I think everybody around here knows who I am."
--
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
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#27
"What do you think it is?" she asked.

"What I think doesn't really matter. It's the
Maltese Falcon."

"Han Sulu's ship?" she teased.

"Blasphemy! No, it's the Plot Device, the McGuffin. The reason for the plot to move."
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
"Being told to be 'open minded' about something is usually a code for 'you're not going to like this, but I want to subject you to it anyway'. Conversely, being told that you are 'closed-minded' is generally a means of asserting that 'I don't like the fact that you're proving me wrong, so I will pretend that your failure to agree with my argument is a philosophical deficiency'." - RationalWiki
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#28
The Runestaff was purring along nicely. We did a fly-by of Saturn because... reasons, and managed to get some extra data-packets to send back to Hermes (always pays to do a favor for the folks likely to know what to do with anything odd you see.)

As we passed Neptunian-orbit distance, I was watching the speed for the shift to FTL.

I almost missed it. There was a hiccough after we crossed the Cochrane Barrier: a blip another 20 AU out, so I throttled back to idle. Safety first. I turned the ship back (for best scanner coverage) and gave a few pings that confirmed: planetoid, and a significant one.

"What's going on? We've lost power?" Kate asked as she dropped into the co-pilot seat. Not hard to miss: the ship was almost dead silent when the engines weren't burning.

"No," I tapped the display, "We've stumbled over a planetoid. Deep cold, probably been falling in-system since before Copernicus was born. Rocky. Trace... maybe ice. Mass reads a little under 1.0: Earth-sized. Rae?"

The Significant Intelligence agent piped up at my cue, "Nothing on record, sir, this is new."

Kate's eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas morning who finds an 
actual pony in the living room by the tree.

"Okay, Rae, let's tag it and take a closer look!"

I had been an independent asteroid hunter since '09, so I knew the drill: find it, fix it, register your claim, find a buyer. This might be a bit beyond those rules, though.

"What are we going to call it?" She was rotating through the spectrum on the display to find an image of the planet that was less black-on-black-in-deep-space.

"Let's get a closer look, first." I throttled up very carefully; I didn't want to go shooting past it again. I didn't get that "impending doom" feeling, so I was still relaxed, like it was just another sprint from Earth to the Mall.

"Rae, draw me a polar orbital insertion, to maximize topographic scan." I could do the math myself, it just took longer.

Kate turned to me with a serious look. "We aren't landing?"

"Look at those temperatures! Not ideal for a beach pic-nic!" The spectrograph showed it was nearly space-cold, no tectonic activity. Core was frozen, even.

"Sir," Rae cut in, "Completed planet orbital plot shows near-miss Saturn and Jupiter collision probable." Rae hated using imprecise terms, so this was significant.

"How soon?"

"Ten years, three months, eighteen days, three hours, twenty eight minutes to Saturn fly-by perigee of two hundred-eighty thousand kilometers, sir. Plot accuracy will improve with additional data."

Kate whistled. "Wow, that's... a hundred-seventy thousand miles? Three quarters the moon's orbit?"

"You know smart is the new sexy, right? That's about half-way into the outer E ring's orbit. Something this big will make a mess of it. And that's long before it starts its Jupiter dive."

I sat back in my seat and frowned.

"What?"

"How much force and time would be needed to park this planet in a Jupiter orbit? Or use a Jupiter fly-by to brake it into an inner-system orbit?"

"Planetary engineering? With what, a solar sail?"

"No, that would be silly! I'd use a gravity brake."

"... We do have ten years before it's even close to Saturn. Something to leave the grandkids?"
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
"Being told to be 'open minded' about something is usually a code for 'you're not going to like this, but I want to subject you to it anyway'. Conversely, being told that you are 'closed-minded' is generally a means of asserting that 'I don't like the fact that you're proving me wrong, so I will pretend that your failure to agree with my argument is a philosophical deficiency'." - RationalWiki
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#29
.... I know we're all for making it miss and a heroic rescue.

But goddamn would that be a cool explosion.

I propose diverting it into Jupiter for shits and giggles. Nobody lives there anyway.
________________________________
--m(^0^)m-- Wot, no sig?
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#30
If the date of that vignette is ten years ago -- unlikely but just barely possible -- well, then, it could be the thing that splatted into Jupiter on St. Patrick's day:

-- Bob
---------
Then the horns kicked in...
...and my shoes began to squeak.
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#31
It would make a mess of Saturn's rings long before it got to Jupiter, but it would certainly be one hell of a show!

This was actually inspired by the CalTech research that has suggested a big (x10 earth-masses) planet beyond Pluto, making a mess of the usual patterns of "debris" out there.
( http://www.caltech.edu/news/caltech-res ... anet-49523 )

Okay, and some of that "planetary extinctions by stuff dislodged from the Oort Cloud" doom-saying. I figure a giant, dirty slush-ball is appropriate.

[edit, sorry]
"Well look at this. 'Pears we got here just in the nick of time. What does that make us?"
"Big damned heroes, sir"
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
"Being told to be 'open minded' about something is usually a code for 'you're not going to like this, but I want to subject you to it anyway'. Conversely, being told that you are 'closed-minded' is generally a means of asserting that 'I don't like the fact that you're proving me wrong, so I will pretend that your failure to agree with my argument is a philosophical deficiency'." - RationalWiki
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#32
The following was taken from a security camera on Mars. We believe the speakers were CIA agents, but we can't be certain at this time.

"So... This guy builds his own Gundam in his backyard..."

"Really an unused Mecha bay on Mars, but same effect..."

"It takes him six years of intermittent effort fitted around his job as a Mecha technician..."

"Yes, yes, get on with it."

"And it really only just occurred to him, after he's already completed the damn thing, that someone in the government - any government - might be concerned about that?"

"Hey, he passed the psychological tests. Came up clean."

"Fine. Well, I guess he's Great Justice's problem now."

"Hey, I don't think GJ could have resisted the opportunity to have Gundam Heavyarms on their payroll. Have you seen the size of those Gatling guns?"

"Too bad the pilot came with it."

"Now don't be like that. Mr. Barton's a reservist, and he's got so many 'waved biometric locks built into the thing that he's the only one who can pilot it..."
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#33
It's like this.

You give an average senshi a gun and some orders and they go make it happen. Tell her to shoot that target, and she shoots. She doesn't have to ask why, or if it's right or wrong – so long as there's no big red flag waving above it, it's a valid mission. She might have some misgivings if it skirts the border, but she has to trust her superiors – it might seem strange or a little unusual a mission but it's also part of a much bigger plan, a picture that only becomes whole far above her pay grade in an office on a far away planet

That's her mission, and she completes it. She squeezes the trigger. If everything up the chain of command is kosher, she's not responsible for the consequences of where it goes.

Being a troubleshooter is different.

Being a Troubleshooter means having the power to choose to act. With the fate of the 'verse and hundreds if not thousands in your hands, you weigh the situation up and make the choice to pull the trigger.

Or not to.

And you know that each time you pull that trigger, somebody might die, and you made the choice to kill them. Just you.

Being a Troubleshooter, means being responsible for wherever that bullet chooses to go after it's been fired. The consequences are yours and yours alone to bear.
________________________________
--m(^0^)m-- Wot, no sig?
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#34
She stood, or rather floated, among a billion-billion stars. Her close-fitting short gown and short-cropped hair seemed an intentional choice: nothing obscured her vision wherever she chose to look.

She had learned to locate and identify the sun and planets, but she was a guardian, not a stargazer. From this observatory chamber, she could see all around the asteroid she called home. Or 'prison', depending on her mood. Today it was her prison. She drew in a breath, raised her chin, and blew out a puff, and began drifting. She curled, spin, and extended a hand in the direction of her travel. Shortly, her fingers clawed at an unseen net, the pressure of her fingers making the tiniest distortion in the displayed stars.

Now came the hard part: she could imagine her way from here to any of the planets, but learning how to navigate out of this illusion was another thing entirely. But she had worked out the trick, and clicked her tongue, listening for the echo. Three points of contact on the hidden wall, a second and third round of clicks and echos, and she kicked off the wall, perhaps a bit too fast. A hand extended ahead, she closed her eyes and clicked again, before the wash of stars vanished and she drifted into a ruddy, underlit, and narrow passage.

A skinny robot working on some jumble of wire and paneling ingored her from its perch on a wall, as she corrected her course and bounded along the passage past it.
"Damned robots!" she murmured.

The chamber behind her measured only 5 meters across, but it was a sphere, with displays that perfectly repeated the images from outside the asteroid in every direction. She had wanted to be able to see trouble coming, she had not intended to become a necessary component of the monitoring.

As she came to the end of the passage, the light changed: the red gave way to yellow as an undeniable tug of artifical gravity started, then blue as she was pressed to walk the floor. Before her was Another Damned Door. Every junction had been built for safety: the construction and engineering overseer-AI had been meticulous in regards to that. She cycled the door open, stepped into the small chamber beyond, closed it, and cycled the other matching door open, stepped through, then closed. It had become second nature. And wearying. She was now in the Concourse, as it had been named.
From this chamber, she could access most of the place directly: the entry (and hard, cold space beyond) was that one, the reactor and processing was that one, the kitchenette and quarters for her were that one, agricycling was down that one.

She shook her head and looked away from the entry lock, with "One Small Step" still scrawled in dried, rusty red on the inside of the outer door. A day in her history she'd rather never remember. She scratched absently at a scar on the palm of her left hand.

She elected instead to walk to the Reactor airlock. Without realizing it, she stepped into the airlock with a skinny robot, and out the other side.

The bright of the arc reactor was the only place in the whole rock with more than 20 Watts of light, and by quite a bit. The skinny robot moved away with no sound. She raised a hand to shield her eyes from the reactor's glow as she stepped out of the airlock.

"Mistress," a mechanical voice began, "What may we do for you?"

As her eyes adjusted, she could lower her hand and make out, on the opposite side of the domed room, Coachman, the construction and engineering overseer-AI. Its skinny robot body had been masked, shaped, and made up as a steam engine laborer, in a steampunk fashion. Its eyes showed no concern, nor even interest; it asked only out of formality.

"I wish to leave this oubliette, to safely return to the company of cooperative humans."

Coachman looked back up from the device open on the floor before it. Him.

"Mistress cannot be protected while the security and secrecy of the station is maintained. One or both objectives would fall below minimum performance. Security of the station is paramount. The others concur."

"The security and secrecy of the station exist only in order to protect me from predation by Death Eaters. I wish to retask the station to lighter security, no secrecy, and a vehicle I can use to return to Fenspace."

"Retasking is not possible."

"And white knights are more than impossible to come by out here," she thought.
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
"Being told to be 'open minded' about something is usually a code for 'you're not going to like this, but I want to subject you to it anyway'. Conversely, being told that you are 'closed-minded' is generally a means of asserting that 'I don't like the fact that you're proving me wrong, so I will pretend that your failure to agree with my argument is a philosophical deficiency'." - RationalWiki
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#35
"So well, we needed the money to make the network upgrades and everyone agreed that we needed to do it but it never got enough budget assigned to it because other stuff just kept winning the popular vote month to month and we never got over the minimum amount of money we needed....... So, Jet told me to just override the system since it obviously wasn't working right.

And you can't just override it y'know because the results have to be believeable and creating believeable vote distributions that'll stand up to scrutiny is the hard part. But I'd already done that for our reactor fuel burnup records for the patrol, So I created PRIMARY.

PRIMARY takes the public vote and turns it into something we can actually use to get thins done. Everyone thinks they took part and their vote got recorded but really, since we started running the system, whatever they want can always become what we need to get done.

So we got our network upgrades started and paid for, and a bunch of other infrstructure things nobody wanted but everyone needed, but I can't help but feeling a little dirty for doing it.
________________________________
--m(^0^)m-- Wot, no sig?
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#36
And elderly couple stand on the moon with nothing but the stars above them, a lunar motorhome, and their own company.

"Hey, it's your crater Jim...."

"Next, we'll go see your mountain, Marilyn"

--
________________________________
--m(^0^)m-- Wot, no sig?
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#37
A follow on fro :
Dartz Wrote:The Hands that Threaten Doom.

We stand here together as friends now, but I would like to take you back in time. I would like to bring you all back to the year 1984. The world stands on the brink of nuclear holocaust. And we are Soviet Sailors, aboard our motherland’s most recent achievement, charged with the defense of our home.

This ship we stand aboard was built for no other reason, than to ensure the United States could not initiate a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. She was funded in a panic, General Secretary Andropov driven to nuclear paranoia by the Cowboy in the White House and his Star Wars system that threatened the delicate balance of fear. It was known that the United States did not have a no first use policy. It was believed that, in the event of a war, the United States would have no option but to use nuclear weapons first.

And knowing this, Secretary Andropov lived in absolute terror of a surprise United States attack.

This terror, and the exercise of 1983 lead the world to the brink of accidental disaster. This ship was built as his assurance, that we could defend ourself should the need arise. He died before this ship ever took to the sea.

It was no secret to the Soviet Union that the United States Navy could track our missile submarines using an underwater sonar net. The Soviet Union lacked stealth technology of the Americans for our bombers.

They came up with a two part solution. A monumental effort on the part of the KGB to detect the very moment when the decision to launch was made within the White House, and this ship, made to prevent that decision from ever being enacted.

Capable of one week autonomous operation with fuel load capable of transiting the Atlantic ocean. She would be launched the moment it looked like a crisis was developing to a dangerous position. She would cross the ocean beneath the detection of early warning radars and above the sonar nets, sounding no different from any other aircraft. Uncatchable by submarine. Undetectable below radar. She would carry her payload to the coast of United States and lay off the coast of their largest city, listening, while above, our missiles waited.

Above our heads sit six missile tubes capable of carrying 1 missile each. Each missile can travel over four hundred kilometres to its target under ramjet power, at speeds exceeding Mach 3 and altitudes far below what can be detected by American radar systems.

Would a volunteer care to come forward and sit in the gunner’s seat?

Thank you, Mister Hidaka. Here is your missile key and code book. Beside you is a radio, a direct line to Moscow. The order will come through as a series of numbers. You write them down on your book with that grease pencil.

I would like you to imagine that you are a crewman on this ship at that time. To feel the weight of his responsibility. You know with certainty that the order could come at any moment. The world teeters on the brink. Your home. Your family. They wait, trusting you to your duty so they will not suffer the horror of atomic holocaust. It sits in the back of your mind.

The silence hangs. Day to day you wait as the doomsday clock ticks onwards, listening to the reports of the building crisis – hoping.

The order would come with an electronic alarm from the radio room below – just like that. One. Two. Three alarms, the chimes of midnight, and then the voice of Moscow would speak to the crew. You would write down the letters you hear.

“????????????. ???m22?”

In the radio room below, the operator copies. He bursts through that hatch and hands you his code book. The Captain, me, hands you mine. All three of us compare.

I think this is an authentic message. Do you concur? Bear in mind. We only have seconds to save everyone we care about from annihilation in atomic fire.

So, Hidaka we concur. This is a valid message.

Beside you is a safe. Two keys will open that safe. Yours and mine. Insert your key into the lock on the right. One. Two. Three, and Turn. The safe opens and now we have our orders waiting for us in packets.

Pick the one where the first two letters match the first two in our code. Open it.

Quickly. Any delay might let them launch their weapons first. Seconds count.

Now. Compare the remaining letters with the codes on the sheet and pray it is the first one.

Abort.
Mission 1.
Mission 2.
Mission 3.
Mission 4.

Our order is Mission 2. An order from Moscow, to launch our missiles towards a target we do not know. Do you concur this is correct? Do the codes match?

Good. It is a valid message, containing a valid order to launch.

The use of Nuclear weapons has been authorised.

We have moments. First, enter the remaining 3 digits into the target computer. One. Two. Three. Lock. This commits the targeting package to the ship’s guidance, aiming it at its final destination. Computers determine the missile flightpath from our position and prepare the final solution.

A green light on this indicator indicates a valid target.

Now. There are two key locks. Each one must be operated within one second of the other. Each one must be held down within five seconds. One key lock is beside you. The other, is on this console here, which I will operate. This arrangement ensures no one person may fire the missiles. It takes two of us. Both of us complicit.

Take your key and insert it into the slot. On my command, turn the key.

Three. Two. One. Turn. Now. Hold. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Release

That light on the panel tells you that the missiles are now active. It might as well now say welcome to World War Three.

There are no aborts. There is no ‘oops’. The computers are now in control. The end result is as inevitable as the sun rising.

Missile batteries are now active. The missile is now entirely self-powering.

Targeting package has been uploaded to the missiles guidance computer. It confirms a valid package has been received.

The silo-soft alarm warns that both missile doors have now opened.

Fuel valves open in the missile. Ignitors spray a jet of hot magnesium sparks.

These three lights warn of the fires within the missile bay as the engines start. You now hear the roar of the boosters, the whole ship shaking as the first missile launches, a cloud of smoke and fire enveloping the ship.

That missile is now on its way to its target. Unstoppable. Irrevocable. Five more would normally launch in sequence, but we can only afford to fire one today.

Whether you have just saved the world from nuclear holocaust, or just dropped the match into the gasoline, is for what is left history to decide.

If they are lucky, they will detect it incoming, but likely not. They are looking for ballistic missiles, which lob high in the air, not a cruise missile hugging the terrain. All it will do is warn them. The missile cannot be stopped. It is too fast for fighters to catch. Too low for SAMs to shoot down. In three minutes time, that missile you just fired will reach the White House, where it will activate. In a microsecond, a terrible new sun will be born two hundred metres above the White House garden. The grass will freeze to carbon. President Reagan will live long enough to see the flash from the comfort of Marine One as it tries to take off to carry him to his E6-B command aircraft. He and his staff will know nothing afterwards. Neither will their families. Or hundreds of thousands of others. Annihilated in a moment. The centre of Washington DC and anyone there will evapourate to dust.

The rest of the city will know hell. Those in the open incinerate alive. Those indoors are shredded by flying glass, or crushed by collapsing buildings. The firestorm turns the rest to ashes.

A second missile will arrive at the Pentagon, razing it from the face of the earth. A third will target Andrews air-force base. A fourth and fifth will hit Norfolk, Virginia. The final missile, operating at the limits of its range, will endeavor to hit Raven Rock Mountain Complex. The core of the US national command authority, and most of it's military strength will be crippled in a moment. Then comes the fallout, ground up and turned to poison in the nuclear furnish, blighting what was left alive.

The Americans will still have the ability to launch without the President, but it will take them time to work out who and how and with what. Who has the authority, and how will they give the command. Time enough to reconsider, to realise they have already lost. For their boomers to be hunted down. For their missiles to be destroyed by our main force already inbound.

The United States as it has been will cease to be. And we are people who have committed the gravest of sins. Whatever happens, the world of tomorrow will be irrevocably different from the one of today. So sit back and enjoy this last two minutes of peace, before hell itself is unleashed.

It is now time for us to return to home, and hope that it is still there when we arrive.

Thank you, Mister Hidaka, for your help. You can stay seated if you’d like.

Fortunately, that is the closest any of us will ever get, to knowing what it feels like to start World War Three. But take that feeling with you, and know….

Six months ago, research rockets launched from this ship nearly caused the greatest catstrophe in history. A new error. The world came within seconds of nuclear war, and for what?

Research probes, seeded into the aurora borealis by a researcher from Manchester University.

All proper procedures and notifications were followed, pipework filed, acknowledged and stamped. and still, the system failed. We do not know how close the Russian or American governments truly came to war – for obvious reasons, they have decided not to share. But think on the process you have just witnessed – the automation – the inevitability of it.

Once set in motion, it cannot be put down. Once the fuse is lit, it cannot be cut.

That the hellfire of these weapons could come within a moment of being unleashed, even today, due to a simple bureaucrat losing a scrap of paper should serve as a warning to us all.

Put away these dangerous toys for good. Banish them from the face of existence. Never again should the error of eighty years ago be repeated.

We stand aboard this ship today, to share that hope, that weapons such as those which this ship once carried should never again be allowed to see the light of day.

Or we may yet go into the night.

-- Lun Alekseeva
________________________________
--m(^0^)m-- Wot, no sig?
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#38
"You the pilot of that 'nightlight destroyer'?"

I had to chuckle "Aye, that's me." My 30m wedge ship had acquired the nick-name as soon as I got it past STC the first time. It had started, on paper anyway, as a Class-S, but well before it was completed, the original owner met a messy end. The yard was happy to have someone bid on it and pay (upfront) to have it finished, even if it did mean Warsie modification. Only STC actually called it by its designation.

"I didn't see any guns on it."

"That's right."

"Somehow that just doesn't seem right," he said.

"I heard that very thing from Space Patrol."

"How you expect to do your part against villainous space pi... uh Reavers?"

"Boskos, Reavers, Death Eaters, Slavers, whatever they are, I've done my part."

He regarded me for a long moment, "You a veteran of the Boskone war?"

"Aye, flew recon for OGJ. Turned out more than enough men to be killed by others."

He let that settle in for a moment before he spoke again.

"Fought with the Irregulars, myself. What unit you with?"

"Independent."

That took him by surprise: those were unheard of during the war.

"How'd you manage that?"

"Barely," I said.

He had to chuckle lightly at that.

"I heard stories of a ghost, would nip out from US airspace, make trouble for the Boskones, then flit home at the end of the night."

"Hmm. Didn't know there were stories."

"You sayin' that was you?"

"Could have been. I was still based earthside during the fighting."

"This ghost, went by some troublemaker callsign...."

"Spoilsport," I said as I started walking away.

"That was it!"
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
"Being told to be 'open minded' about something is usually a code for 'you're not going to like this, but I want to subject you to it anyway'. Conversely, being told that you are 'closed-minded' is generally a means of asserting that 'I don't like the fact that you're proving me wrong, so I will pretend that your failure to agree with my argument is a philosophical deficiency'." - RationalWiki
Reply
 
#39
OOC: I think I like this guy.
--
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
Reply
 
#40
"Cybernetic Ratrap"
Tedx 2022. Republicon.

Alright. I've five minutes to explain basic cybernetics and cybernetic ethics to you, the ordinary fan.

I hope you don't like rats. If you're in any way squeamish, nothing good is going to happen to this rat, so you should probably leave now if you don't think you can stand it.

Let start with what cybernetics is.

It's not this stuff here on my body. Or the ability to break engines in one punch. Or Major Kuanagi's sexy Leotard.

Cybernetics is the art of control, a self-piloting system. When an action, generates a response, which acts as feedback, to drive a correction. That's cybernetics. There's a lot more stuff in there, about how living animals respond to situations, life-mimicking technology and breaking engines in one punch, but right now, let's focus on the generally accepted pop-culture definition of cybernetics - technology integrated with biology, to achieve some benefit. That benefit could be anything we choose it to be. I know the purists are already screaming at me - and if you want an intelligent and well researched example of cybernetic theory and practice, A.C's panel is tomorrow.

Here, we're going to play with our cyborg rat instead.

Like I said, I amn't a surgeon, but this one I had made earlier by someone with nimble fingers. He's a fairly standard lab rat, with a standard interface kit on his back, with the filaments in his whiskers and nostrils. It's a fun project to try at home for your little madlings. Make your own cyber-rat. It doesn't bother him.

We've made him a better rat. And he looks a little weirded out, but not too disturbed. He's getting new signals into his brain and he's taking time to sort it out. And he's pottering around on our table doing the usual rat things.

The little computer on his back is detecting things in front of him, and sending feedback signals through the antenna to sort of trick him into acting. We've given it a few new senses from the micrcontroller on its back, beyond what a normal rat woudd have.

We have made him better.

Our little cyber rat can find food better than a normal roach, because it has a new chemical sensor.

It can navigate in the dark, better than a normal rat, because it has an ultrasonic sensor.

It can detect threats, better than a normal rat. No normal rat would smell the poison in this plate, but our cyborg rat can pick up the chemical trace and its systems give it a warning to avoid it. It goes and finds the food instead.

It’s internet connected, so it can even send signals to rats across the system through roachbook. A kind of labrat i.p. telepathy.

We can even steer the rat with a little remote control. Go left. Go right. Link up to my own systems and puppet it along with a thought.

It seems fun, doesn't it?

We can even trick its senses into believing things that aren’t really there with false inputs. Like that harmless ball of tinfoil is a danger. We can make him think good food is poison and steer him away from it by feeding him a fake smell of poison. We can even force it to do things it wouldn’t normally ever want to do.

See how he knows to avoid the trap? It's covered in cat scent and he knows that as danger. Nudge him towards it, and he instinctively tries to escape before it kills him.

Now watch what happens when we take control again. We can march him headlong into the trap. You can see his nose twitching in fear and he senses the danger, but we can keep marching him on. You can close your eyes if you don't want to see the next bit, but it's not going to go away. The trap snaps shut.

No more rat. Like I said. Nothing good would happen to this rat.

So. What’s the point of doing that? Why hurt an innocent rat?

Imagine you were that rat. And you smell the cat coming and you know the danger is there. But still, you can do nothing to stop yourself from marching headlong into the trap because that’s what every other sense you have is forcing you to do. Your body is not your own anymore. And your legs still carry you forward, even as you beg them to stop. Every fibre of your mind is screaming to stop, but you just can't help yourself. They wait you there, while the trap snaps shut on top of you.

And you die.

Anything I did to that rat, can be done to you. T?

And that right there is the promise, and the horror of cybernetics. In five minutes. With my apologies to Bruce Sterling.

There are no evil technologies, only evil applications. Modern cybernetics gives us the ability to expand the human domain into a vaster reality, one limited only by our own imaginations and technical capabilities.

But if you want to know why the fuck cybernetic ethics is a thing. Or why we have things such as informed consent, or minimum quality of life, or personal integrity laws and why you will be lucky to make it to prison if you break them....

Just remember remember the rat. And how the Boskone did exactly that to hundreds of people.

Thanks for coming."
________________________________
--m(^0^)m-- Wot, no sig?
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#41
(From the post panel feedback)

Should've used a lawyer instead. I keep telling you people get too darn attached to the rats!
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!!!
-- "No Quarter", by Echo's Children
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#42
"...there's some things even the rats wouldn't do!" With apologies to Robin Williams. Nanoo-nanoo. Wink

Yasuri Nanami is my number one waifu, if only because she would horribly murder all the others if they didn't shut up and toe the line.
"They did not care about all the other attempts wizards had made on the Lone Power through history; as far as a computer is concerned, there is no program that cannot be debugged, or at worst, rewritten."
-Diane Duane, High Wizardry
"If our friendship depends on things like space and time, we've destroyed our own brotherhood! But overcome space, and all we have left is Here. Overcome time, and all we have left is Now. And in the middle of Here and Now, don't you think that we might see each other once or twice?"
-Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull
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Re: Vignettes
#43
So.

There we were looking out at the left chine with that big damn hole in it, and Earth below about to get very big, very quick, and we'd just finished sending out a distress call that we'd basically written off as our last will and tastemant because nobody could get down here fast enough to pick us up before we hit atmosphere and burned. So it goes, we had a good ride. Lets stay together until the end.

A minute before interface, the radio crackled.

"Dragon Wagon, this is Houston, do you read?"

That voice was just so full of confidence and clarity - a dead certainty with a microphone. I knew we'd be OK.
________________________________
--m(^0^)m-- Wot, no sig?
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RE: Vignettes
#44
"And so, on my first day on the reactor team I was introduced to the most important maintenance tool on Frigga,"

It sat on the desk right beside the coffee pot

I love the smell of rotaries in the morning. You know one time, I got to work early, before the rush hour. I walked through the empty carpark, I didn't see one bloody Prius or Golf. And that smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole carpark, smelled like.... ....speed.

One day they're going to ban them.
Reply
RE: Vignettes
#45
"Why is the Black Rod of the Millenium a giant.....?"

"SPACE WAS LONELY THEN!!"

I love the smell of rotaries in the morning. You know one time, I got to work early, before the rush hour. I walked through the empty carpark, I didn't see one bloody Prius or Golf. And that smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole carpark, smelled like.... ....speed.

One day they're going to ban them.
Reply
RE: Vignettes
#46
"Papa, you sure I can do this?"

"Very sure, sweety.  Besides, I'm surprised you're even asking.  After all, you designed that body yourself."

"I know, Papa.  It just... seems so unreal now."

"I know what you mean, sweety.  You ready?"

"Like you say, 'No time like the present.'"

They counted down together and then jumped from the platform at the very top-edge of the Tower of Americas.

Mayonaka Langely-Rhodes opened her wings, and whooped joyously as they caught the air, letting her take flight for the first time ever.  And her father cheered as he followed along in a parasail.

Yasuri Nanami is my number one waifu, if only because she would horribly murder all the others if they didn't shut up and toe the line.
"They did not care about all the other attempts wizards had made on the Lone Power through history; as far as a computer is concerned, there is no program that cannot be debugged, or at worst, rewritten."
-Diane Duane, High Wizardry
"If our friendship depends on things like space and time, we've destroyed our own brotherhood! But overcome space, and all we have left is Here. Overcome time, and all we have left is Now. And in the middle of Here and Now, don't you think that we might see each other once or twice?"
-Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Reply
RE: Vignettes
#47
You know, there're two kinds of people you got to get the boss's permission to kill.

A friend of ours.

And a troubleshooter.

Not because of what you'll do - but because really, you can respect a troubleshooter where you despise a cop. We're the same. We live under the same code. We're not cogs in the service of some government or authority. We're out for ourselves - outside the law according to our own codes. And we don't rat to people outside.

I ordered the attack on your brother - you found me - and I deserve to die.

That's how we live.

I don't regret that. So take your vendetta. However you see fit.

I love the smell of rotaries in the morning. You know one time, I got to work early, before the rush hour. I walked through the empty carpark, I didn't see one bloody Prius or Golf. And that smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole carpark, smelled like.... ....speed.

One day they're going to ban them.
Reply
RE: Vignettes
#48
"That woman deserves her revenge... and we deserve to die. But then again, so does she. So, I guess... we'll just see. Won't we?"
Mr. Fnord on FFN and Mal3 on AO3 Conceptual Neighborhood - yet another damned sci-fi blog • The Westerosi (ASoIaF) The Westerosi II: Subprime Directives: Extradimensional horrors threaten the Seven Kingdoms, and Captain Hasegawa of the Starfleet Rangers has to stop them. If she accidentally conquers Westeros in the process... oops?Fenspace (shared world)

"It is your job to personify the tyranny of the majority. You must brutally, ruthlessly oppress and persecute the fuck out of the poor misunderstood disruptive creep minority so that the privileged nerd funhaver status quo can be maintained. It's a thankless job, but somebody's got to do it. Fun Über Alles, all hail the Fun Tyrant, without him our campaign is lost." --SA user Angry Diplomat, on the GM's role.
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RE: Vignettes
#49
I tried to come up with a better way to say this, but there wasn't one.

There's something about us that doesn't feel right anymore. Something between us that's changed. It's been on my mind for a while, and, in the last few weeks back home, I finally figured oiut what it was.

I grew up.

But you're still the same. Deep down, you're still that half-kid I met when I was still young but I'm just not that person anymore. No matter how much the reflection in the mirror stays the same, I feel older every day. I'm older than my mom was when she had me first.

While you're still you.

And that doesn't feel right anymore. I need something else. Maybe it's maturity, an adult feeling that's more complex. More than just pretending to be grown ups. I can't pretend to be that young anymore.

That's why I think it's time to call it a day. I'm sorry. I won't be coming back. I hope you can understand why.

Thanks for the last ten years. I have no regrets. That's I think it's best if we leave it here, before things start to fester either of us start regretting anything. I never want to regret being around you. I'll still smile when I think of you, and all the things we did. it really was fun. I hope you still want to be friends. I want to stay in touch.

Most of all, I hope you finally find your own place in the world.

I'll see you around, Jet

-Ford.

---------------------


I forgot Ford appearrs in some of the emails around TMoM, even when she doesn't appearr in the story proper and never had a role in it. But when the question of 'Why does Ford stay with Jet?' comes up and there's no real answer, maybe the answer has to be that she doesn't. And why would she leave?

Whether I fail at giving these people their own lives or not is on me - it's a total skill fail. But I wanted them to.

I love the smell of rotaries in the morning. You know one time, I got to work early, before the rush hour. I walked through the empty carpark, I didn't see one bloody Prius or Golf. And that smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole carpark, smelled like.... ....speed.

One day they're going to ban them.
Reply
RE: Vignettes
#50
---- Jet's wandering around somewhere she's been before, and probably shouldn't be going ----

A few guards from Great Justice remained to patrol the ruin, keeping the Stalkers away. Otherwise, the rock had been empty for nearly a decade. It’d been stripped bare of anything that might’ve been valuable, or could’ve been of use in a court of law, on a test bench or to an intelligence analyst. Only the structure and framework remained,

The metal framework supporting the tunnels had already begun to split and fray like rotting timber. The hopes and dreams that’d built the place had long since gone, replaced first by a nightmare of violence, then by nothing at all.

The wave had a funny way about it. Things would last for years without maintenance or repair, so long as someone still lived there and gave it a spark of life. Once abandoned, things could unwind themselves in months, turning to kipple as the energy and intent that filled them evaporated and left them to come apart and become kipple. Once Kippleisation set in - almost nothing could stop it. People just stopped caring.

It happened to people too, Jet figured. She moved on.

===

I love the smell of rotaries in the morning. You know one time, I got to work early, before the rush hour. I walked through the empty carpark, I didn't see one bloody Prius or Golf. And that smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole carpark, smelled like.... ....speed.

One day they're going to ban them.
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