Horizon ducked just in time for the claw aimed at her visor to graze the top of her helmet instead. The drone tried to pull back the claw for another strike, but it stuck in the helmet’s gel layer and pulled her head with it. Aggravated the raccoon grabbed the clasps holding her helmet on and released them, freeing her head as the drone tried to shake the helmet off. She quickly assessed her situation; her legs were straightened out but still in agonizing pain. Horizon decided that she could ignore the pain if it meant greater mobility and started to rise, only for the drone to raise another spiked leg to strike at her stomach.
Time slowed again as the spike descended, inching closer and closer while her body sluggishly tried to dodge. Horizon felt her stomach sink in terror as the drone’s attack… swerved to her left?
Continue reading “Horizon: Rebuilt Ch. 7” →
Three days after the rig explosions Horizon raced through a burning factory complex. One of Surtr’s regular moonquakes had finally overwhelmed the under-maintained safety systems of a fifty-year old chemical plant along the equator. Even with her FedTech environment suit and helmet the fumes from the open chemical vats, heat from the flames, and falling girders would tax her regenerative abilities, the rest of the Friendly Society didn’t dare to come within half a kilometer of the facility. One hoped that was far enough that whatever might be attempting to kill her wouldn’t splash over onto them.
Horizon leapt over a fallen beam blocking her path, glowing red with heat from the fires, and landed on a still-intact wall. Her metallic claws dug into the concrete of the wall as she scrambled up to a catwalk that had thus far escaped the quake and flame. So far, she had found no survivors, just corpses, most of them partially dissolved in spilled chemicals or incinerated by the flames. However, she couldn’t take the chance that there might still be someone still alive and trapped in the building.
Continue reading “Horizon: Rebuilt Ch. 6” →
“So,” Jenny thought out loud as she and Horizon left the canteen. “In order to figure out what all is going on in your head, you need to kill an asshole oligarch?”
“No,” Horizon replied. “If he’s still alive I won’t be able to kill him because my implants would recognize him as my commanding officer and stop me.”
The squirrel paused to consider her statement. “Wait, if they won’t allow you to harm your commanding officer than how did you manage to set off that bomb?”
Before Horizon could answer an angry male ermine in a hospital gown rounded a corner and spotted them. “Hey, you!” he shouted and held up a plastic-covered hand towards Horizon. “Look at what you did to me!”
Continue reading “Horizon: Rebuilt Ch. 5” →
This one’s intended as a bit of a standalone story, between the larger arcs of Horizon Book 1 and 2.
Jerald shivered as he climbed into the cabin of his rig. He regretted, once again, that he’d chosen lynx biomods instead of snow leopard with its heavier fur when the Company had offered them upon his emigrating to Surtur. He’d had the impression that hydrocarbon mining would somehow be warmer, but no, the executives weren’t wasting any of the valuable gases on heating up their workers, while they stayed in their well-insulated bunker offices. He let out a misty sigh and slammed the door behind him before slotting the starter chip into the dashboard.
The mining rig began the laborious process of starting up, giving Jerald time to wonder who had driven this rig before. The colossal walkers largely ran themselves, but he hadn’t used this particular rig before, to his trained eye it was subtly different from the others. Usually the Company put a driver on a single rig until either the driver or the rig was taken out of service, however that might happen. His normal rig had gone in for maintenance the day before, and this one had been available. He wondered to himself if its last driver was still with the Company, or if they’d found some way out of the Company’s leonine contracts?
Almost automatically he reached for the throttle and set the rig in motion. Six legs lifted and set themselves back down in alternating pairs as Jerald steered slowly out of the refinery yard. The radio crackled. “Rig 23 be advised, there’s been reports of raider activity in your sector recently.”
Continue reading “Ethane Horizons” →
The Resolution retreated to Tiere’s Hills cloud while MechRat digested the data that he’d been granted access to by their reluctant commander. They entered orbit around a kilometer-long asteroid that had long ago been deemed too far from the star to bother mining, though it held a fair amount of rare elements that MechRat claimed would be useful for them to build his new weapon. Horizon and Lift went down to the asteroid on the Dustbin, putting the old ship’s mining equipment to its original use, supplemented with some of the latest FedTech from the Resolution’s printers.
A week of drilling into asteroid and refining trace metals later, the raccoon and ox flew back up to the mother ship. After soaring through space in a starship that responded to her very thoughts, piloting a rocket-based craft with hand controls felt clunky and inelegant to Horizon, she wondered if MechRat might upgrade the old ship with neural controls once he had the time. On docking with the Resolution she took a pallet of lanthanides once Lift had loaded it and went off towards MechRat’s workshop.
The opossum was deep in a simulation trance when Horizon entered, she shot him a message on the ship’s network.
Horizon: I’m here with the first load of your rare metals.
Continue reading “Horizon: Salvaged Heroes, Chapter 10” →
After the nova of the 25th century the Federation’s grasp over the outlying systems was severely weakened. With interstellar travel immensely more difficult without the majority of the stargate network, local governments frequently found themselves fending for themselves. Planets and stars isolated, vulnerable to predation by pirate clans, renegade posthumans, and even other federally recognized governments, desperate for resources.
The ambitious system executor Ronkall Argentum revived the long-discarded idea of a small corps of posthuman enforcers of the peace, with an additional variation. Project Paladin would package a set of augmentations suitable for empowering paragons of Federal virtue into easily portable modular kits that would fit onto a small starship, along with VR suites specially designed for the memetic priming of these champions. Rather than attempting to transport a peacekeeping force or nakedly extort tribute with ortillery, they could convert locals into ambassadors of a greater power with the means to win over hearts and minds through shock and awe.
In several systems it proved quite successful, however, in the Tiere planetary system things went somewhat awry…
Continue reading “Project Paladin” →
A while back I wrote about how the concept of superheroes might not fly in a transhumanist setting where anyone with sufficient resources might rebuild themselves into a superman.
But after writing about the different legal systems in the Para-Imperium I had a couple ideas for implementing them. One “above-board” and one “below.”
Sanctioned heroes: The “memetic badass” approach, where the security forces attempt to reduce expenditures by focusing not on big police departments, but on a small group of celebrity supermen with customized augmentations, movie-star good looks, and extensively marketed adventures. Not dissimilar to the purpose of Knights in Shining Armor in Middle Ages Europe. In this case, their purpose is less to fight crime as to dissuade people from committing crime in the first place, so only those with the resources to field their own super-villains, or attention-seekers like the guy Rorschach dropped down an elevator shaft, will dare to commit crimes. Either one tends to suit the entrenched oligarchy just fine, the fights make for good publicity.
A sanctioned superhero’s jurisdiction rarely extends beyond their home planet or habitat, and they’re typically part of a planet- or star system-spanning organization of other heroes. Attempts to form a Federation-wide group like the Green Lantern Corps or their Lensmen predecessors have thus far been stalled in committee.
This approach is vulnerable to the death of a superhero, as crime tends to skyrocket until a new hero manages to build an equal reputation to their predecessor. As such superhero leagues tend to have the best medical care available, including, it is rumored, illegal brain cloning.
Vigilantes: The “shadowrun” approach. These tend to arise most often in polycentric legal systems like the Pallene or Cetan law systems, in which feuds can simmer between factions for decades, centuries with life extension. The romanticized version is a tragic figure like Batman or Zorro who has a legitimate grievance that the conventional authorities failed to address. That type of vigilante does exist, but tend to be short-lived as they right the wrong that led them to take up the cape and then retire, or die trying. The more common variety are mercenaries more akin to Deadpool, supersoldiers for hire willing to act as deniable assets for any House or company with sufficient credit.
A somewhat new fashion, this device consists of a U-bot hive and sufficient U-bots to suffuse the area desired, be it a house, a field, a ship, or a temple. When called upon the U-bots may move objects, clean or repair, or project images. After installation the Anima requires only power and periodic supplements of elements (mostly aluminum) it can’t scavenge from the environment. The Field is usually operated by an AI, sometimes multiple AIs for larger Fields, and some Houses have been known to load their founder’s sim-personas into the Anima Field. It is also possible for a BCI to operate an Anima Field directly, though the subconscious access option is not recommended for troubled minds.