Within the Halls of Innovation on Polevnic, Simguru Antal's true believers go about their work. It is not a duty but an honor for them, for they are furthering their leader's vision which will bring order to a chaotic galaxy and light where there is darkness. In these halls you would not see a single face that showed signs of dissatisfaction, or whose eyes were not alight with purpose.
Well, perhaps one.
Brother Sparks halted, wondering how the man had recognized him. Had he an ocular implant that transmitted real time location data on everyone on Polevnic? Had someone slipped a tracking device in his drink and was now lodged in his lower intestine? Was he using a genetic trace sensor that scanned the air for flakes of dried skin or dandruff?
Oh, wait, it was the fact he was the only man in the Halls of Innovation wearing a hood.
He pulled it down and turned around. The young courier, smiling brightly, handed him a datapad. He turned and ran off with another datapad for another client.
Brother Sparks let it scan his thumb and his retina, then gave it a password to voice-analyze. Of course any amount of data could be sent instantly across any distance. Pilots communicated with one another between star systems and listened to Radio Sidewinder from Sagittarius A*.
But that didn't make the data secure. Transmissions could be intercepted and encryptions could be broken. One famous such incident involved the explorer Erimus, the first to travel to the opposite side of the galaxy, sixty-five thousand light years from Sol. Weeks before his expected return he seemed to have showed up early, to much fanfare, and ready to claim millions of credits.
Only that hadn't been the case at all. A preliminary data transfer had been relayed when Erimus feared that he would be unable to make it back alive. That had been intercepted and decrypted, then merged with terrabites of worthless forged cartography data, and handed in.
It hadn't fooled anyone for long, but the pilot had almost made off with a small fortune in ill-gotten credits before he was interdicted and brought to justice.
This was why Stellar Cartographics insists on all explorers bringing their ships to an authorized station personally, so that the data core can be analysed and the information proven to be authentic. It hasn't made many explorers happy, though.
But this was why, especially in places like the Halls of Innovation, sensitive communications required a literal personal touch. Everyone was on the same side, marching forward toward the perfection of human society. They were all on the same side here. Nobody had anything to hide.
Funny how many couriers one could see running about here.
Brother Sparks tossed his hood back up and headed for his Order's wing. It wasn't officially his Order's wing, of course. Offically the Order didn't exist. They'd been folded into the Utopian Commune fifty years before. But traditions were respected, to a degree, and his Brothers knew how to keep the old ways alive.
Brother Sparks sat down at his minimalist desk and skipped past the "Eyes Only" warnings to start reading the relevant parts.
He stopped, then leaned forward. Backed up several pages, then skipped ahead. Connected the dots.
Salvage and Recovery Report Summary 34992X
Station Outpost: Trevithick Dock - LHS 3447
Unidentified Signal: Derelict ship in deep space.
Ship class: Cobra MKII prototype (possible reproduction?)
Contents: One pilot (deceased), hold empty.
Report 1: Ship found by salvagers suffering from severe carbon scoring and drained power plant. Canopy breached. Deceased pilot suffered severe facial burns. Salvage returned to nearest space dock for evaluation and repairs or scrapping. Due to state of pilot body, ship assumed to be a more recent reproduction of the Cobra MKII prototype rather than an original. Possibly a KitCobra refit.
Report 2: Standard medical examination of deceased pilot indicates body is still in resuscitatable state. Taken to Emergency for standard RemLok procedures. Items found on board ship suggest it may not be a reproduction. Federation Galactic Aerospace Museum contacted with serial numbers for verification.
Report 3: Standard revival procedure failed. No cellular degradation observed despite prolong vacuum exposure. Advanced RemLock procedures authorized.
Report 4: Advanced revival procedures failed. Neurological and vacuum exposure specialists consulted. Experimental procedures authorized. FGAM expert confirms pilot's ship is at least two hundred years old and is most likely one of the lost Mark II prototypes, though it has been refurbished several times.
Report 5: Experimental revival procedures succeeded. Pilot has suffered memory loss but is making remarkable recovery progress. Neurology reports indicate unknown implant of organic and inorganic components covering his brain. Experimental RemLok implant? Nothing on file matching it for last two hundred years.
Report 6: Patient continues to make rapid recovery, on par with that of a normal long-exposure pilot rescue. Hematology reports unknown nanotechnology in his blood stream, now dormant. Could these have helped preserve his body in prolonged vacuum exposure in close. Blood work sent to Geneva Medical Research Laboratory on Sol for further analysis, along with brain scans.
Report 7: Pilot still suffers from memory loss but is considered fit to leave. Having no insurance, the Federation Galactic Aeronautics Museum has agreed to acquire the MKII prototype in exchange for all medical bills paid, plus an arrangement with the Pilot's Federation to allow him to resume work as a pilot. Pilot is... not happy about this arrangement.
This on its own was worth Brother Sparks attention. The procedures mentioned were within the fields his Order had worked on in the past. Fields they continued to work on in secret. Fields Simguru Antal was also studying, but with darker ramifications. It was a game of chess. His people ostensibly worked for Antal, yet helped made sure certain breakthroughs were never made.
Not all was well in Utopia.
However, it was the second report that tied in with the first that gave him what he needed. It had occurred months later, in Alliance space. It had been attached and forwarded because of the pilot's facial recognition match. Whoever in the Order had sent him this information had apparently now created a search string specifically for him, because there was far more where that came from, including something about a spokesman for Odyssey Expeditions called 'Ranger M'.
But it was this that grabbed his attention.
Audio Log of Dr. Pavel Klimt, head of pilot recovery
"Hoo boy, had a doozy today. Got five popsicles brought in from the local Combat Zone--bunch of stupid kids squabbling over turf like that means something. Three of them wake up like babies, one does into neuroshock and had to be brought in for advanced recovery procedures, but the fifth?
"Okay, you ever see a movie where you think the guy is dead, but suddenly he lurches up, back arched, gasping like he's been underwater for three minutes, eyes bulging out like he's seen hell and doesn't want to go back? Yeah, like that. Then he crashes back down, unconscious.
"Thing is, there was no brain activity. Not before, not during, and not after. There might be some kind of EM interference, but this guy was braindead.
"And then the braindead guy opens his eyes. He's looking around for someone, looks over at an empty chair, as if he expects to see someone there. Starts saying 'moss foot', which it turns out is his own name, and waving his hand in front of his eyes, like he's making sure he can see. Then he looks to me and panics. Yells out something about her brother, that I should tell Mathias something went wrong. I finally get a sedative in him and he calms down, but according to our scanners, still no brain activity. I mean, what the hell?
"That's not even the weirdest part. After this guy leaves, I send off a request to Gateway regarding what I'm seeing, trying to find out if a specialist can give me a call with some advice, but when I get an answer, it was a request from Geneva to forward everything I have on the matter. So I do, and what happens? It turns out I accidentally deleted everything about it after I sent it. Geeze. Sixteen hour shifts will do it every time. At least somebody's got the information."
Accidentally deleted? Maybe. Maybe not. The fact Geneva came knocking wasn't a coincidence.
Brother Sparks waved a hand over his featureless desk, which exploded into an elaborate holographic computer array. After several security checks, he dipped back into his Order's archives. It would take forever to search every experiment, but he had the information he needed to speed things up.
"Computer. Search keywords: Mossfoot, Brother Mathias. Secondary keywords: nanotech, long term vacuum exposure, brain implant. Cross reference and compile."
Brother Sparks leaned back while the machine sorted the millions of records, and quickly came up with a virtual folder file of results. He plucked the folder from the screen and checked how thick it was.
This might take a while.
Pilot: Mossfoot - Ship ID: Viaticus Rex (Cobra MKII)
Rank: Competent - Status: Clean
Last edited by mossfoot on Mon Aug 03, 2015 2:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.