'BOREALIS RISING' - A Subnautica Story V2.0.

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  • BugzapperBugzapper Australia Join Date: 2015-03-06 Member: 201744Members Posts: 1,085 Advanced user
    Well said, @Alrekr_Ironhand.

    Couldn't have phrased it better myself. :)
  • TigerTomTigerTom Join Date: 2018-02-27 Member: 238363Members Posts: 46 Advanced user
    edited May 2018
    Now I feel like such an idiot. (Which I am :P )
    Bugzapper’s Awesome Subnautica Books:
    Book 1 | Book 2
    My Subnautica Fanfic: LINK
  • BugzapperBugzapper Australia Join Date: 2015-03-06 Member: 201744Members Posts: 1,085 Advanced user
    Lightning flared on the horizon, now darkening to an ominous steel-grey. A barely-audible mutter of thunder followed thirty seconds later. The storm front is only ten kilometres away, and we don't have the fluidic shield online yet. Placing the field emitters proved to be sightly trickier than we initially supposed. The first few were an absolute devil to align manually, so we've had to modify their design 'on the fly' to incorporate an extremely precise GPS transponder. So much for referring to our PDAs and simply plonking them down in the general area. The best we can manage is millimetre-range accuracy over a maximum span of fifty metres between each emitter. It has taken us the best part of eight hours to lay one hundred emitters and accurately align each of them. We're cutting it awful close now, as is the pilot of TCS Porkchop Express. ETA, twenty-five minutes.

    "Selkirk to Skull Island Control. Last emitter's locked in place. Commence power-up sequence."

    "Aye, Sir." Enzo replied. "Main reactor is online in standby mode. Safety interlocks are engaged. Output voltages of auxiliary reactors Alfa and Bravo are stable and fully synchronised. Status is green across my board. Power distribution network enabled. Activating the emitter array now, Sir."

    An acrid tang of ionization hit my olfactory sensors like a hammer blow. The atmosphere around us began crackling and throwing off eye-searing arcs of stray electricity, as if we had somehow drawn the approaching storm down upon ourselves. I really don't like the look of this. Something's obviously way out of kilter. JUNO, DIGBY and IANTO appear to be equally concerned, backing away from the shield's periphery with commendable haste.

    "Enzo! What the hell's happening up there, Laddie?" I roared into my commlink.

    "Network instability. Minor phase variance detected in emitters 3 and 4. Correcting it now, Sir."

    Something miraculous has happened. The field's vicious arcing and spitting ceased within seconds of Enzo signing off, that insane cacophony replaced with a faint microwave hiss that hovered on the absolute threshold of my hearing. A single pure tone, entirely free of annoying sub-harmonics.

    The field flickered into view, a ghostly aurora rising from the ground, arcing skyward. As the fluidic shield coalesced into a unbroken hemisphere, it took on a swirling, opalescent shimmer, the last rays of fading sunlight refracted through a single layer of atmospheric water molecules.

    Magnificent.

    A less poetic soul might compare it to being trapped inside a soap-bubble.

    "Now for the auld drop test. Ye'd best stand a ways back... Ah's gan' all Neanderthal fer this yin."

    The crew backed off about fifty metres or so, just to be on the safe side. I stooped, picking up a small rounded pebble, along with a fist-sized chunk of basalt. Ten metres from the shimmering barrier, I flicked the pebble lightly at the shield like a marble, noting that it passed through easily. Satisfied with this preliminary result, I walked back to where the crew stood, grinning evilly.

    "Ah've nae idea where this yin's endin' up. Engage predictive tracking mode. Get ready tae scatter."

    Thus forewarned, I whipped around and hurled the rock with all the force I could muster. It left my hand at a fairly respectable 650 km/h, shattering violently as it hit the shield. Primary kinetic impact test series, successfully completed. Personal note: Probably not a good idea to start playing cricket.

    "Attention, all personnel. Freighter is now on final approach, ETA two minutes, thirty seconds."

    "Thank you, Mister Savini. Stand by to lower the shield. We'll be joining you directly." I replied.

    A heavy rain began pelting down. I can taste the ocean's salt in it.

    We've run out of time.
    TenebrousNova0x6A7232baronvonsatan
  • TigerTomTigerTom Join Date: 2018-02-27 Member: 238363Members Posts: 46 Advanced user
    Hey @Bugzapper, check out my awesome signature. Is is okay with you if I have links to your book in there?
    Bugzapper’s Awesome Subnautica Books:
    Book 1 | Book 2
    My Subnautica Fanfic: LINK
  • BugzapperBugzapper Australia Join Date: 2015-03-06 Member: 201744Members Posts: 1,085 Advanced user
    TigerTom wrote: »
    Hey @Bugzapper, check out my awesome signature. Is is okay with you if I have links to your book in there?

    No problem at all. I certainly appreciate your enthusiastic response to The Aurora Chronicles so far.

    Fair warning; this story will be concluding fairly soon. There will be no more after Borealis is done.
    Finito. No amount of impassioned pleading will convince me otherwise.

    Writing around 500 pages with zero possibility of financial recompense takes a certain degree of fanatical dedication to the subject matter.

    I'm perfectly satisfied knowing that I can walk away from Aurora & Borealis with at least one completed novella under my belt. Consider them as a freebie.


    However... The next one's gonna cost ya. >:)
    baronvonsatanTenebrousNova
  • Quantum_AnomalyQuantum_Anomaly Join Date: 2016-06-13 Member: 218496Members Posts: 20 Advanced user
    I cant wait to pay for one of your books, and you'll have to send me a PM if you need someone to review or help edit lol, because 90% of why I come to the forums any more is to check on your tale. So keep me informed when I can throw money your way.
  • TigerTomTigerTom Join Date: 2018-02-27 Member: 238363Members Posts: 46 Advanced user
    100% Of why I come to the forums is to read this.
    Bugzapper’s Awesome Subnautica Books:
    Book 1 | Book 2
    My Subnautica Fanfic: LINK
  • the_marinerthe_mariner US of A Join Date: 2016-12-29 Member: 225653Members Posts: 132 Advanced user
    Hey @Bugzapper, I just wanted to ask: what was your original plan for Aurora Falls before the implementation of the present lore? Clearly, you had your own ideas for how the story would go, and it shows; you've got the Warpers being sentient and having a primitive culture of their own, as well as the presence of an Alterra survey team on the planet, both things that were never in Subnautica proper. On the other hand, there's also more canon-accurate bits mixed in, like the Sea Emperor's imprisonment and the Precursors being introduced in Borealis. I know you mostly wrote both stories on the fly, but if you had a plot different to the final version we got already planned out, would you feel alright sharing it with us?
    I had drifted o’er seas without ending,
    Under sinister grey-clouded skies
    That the many-fork’d lightning is rending,
    That resound with hysterical cries;
    With the moans of invisible daemons that out of the green waters rise.
    - H.P. Lovecraft
  • BugzapperBugzapper Australia Join Date: 2015-03-06 Member: 201744Members Posts: 1,085 Advanced user
    @the_mariner: My original plan for Aurora Falls was that the plot could be modified as Subnautica evolved. Bear in mind that I started writing this yarn when there wasn't as much depth to the game's story line (pun intended). I've attempted to maintain some connection with the game's canon, although that connection has been very flexible in order to accommodate what I've already written. An 'alternate reality' scenario would be the most accurate description.

    As for spilling the conclusion of Borealis Rising... Sorry, no can do.

    Spoilers! ;)
  • the_marinerthe_mariner US of A Join Date: 2016-12-29 Member: 225653Members Posts: 132 Advanced user
    @Bugzapper Believe me, I have no intention of spoiling the ending to Borealis. All I was interested in was the original plot of Aurora Falls. There was a very clear plan for a story that you had between the addition of the first abandoned bases and the addition of Torgal Corp., and I was only wondering if you would be willing to share that original, pre-modification plan.
    I had drifted o’er seas without ending,
    Under sinister grey-clouded skies
    That the many-fork’d lightning is rending,
    That resound with hysterical cries;
    With the moans of invisible daemons that out of the green waters rise.
    - H.P. Lovecraft
  • BugzapperBugzapper Australia Join Date: 2015-03-06 Member: 201744Members Posts: 1,085 Advanced user
    @the_mariner: I honestly can't remember that far back. However, I do recall that the introduction of Torgaljin Corp opened up a sizeable can of worms.
    That took a few pages to sort out.
  • TigerTomTigerTom Join Date: 2018-02-27 Member: 238363Members Posts: 46 Advanced user
    edited May 2018
    Why did Selkirk name it “Skull Island”?
    Bugzapper’s Awesome Subnautica Books:
    Book 1 | Book 2
    My Subnautica Fanfic: LINK
  • BugzapperBugzapper Australia Join Date: 2015-03-06 Member: 201744Members Posts: 1,085 Advanced user
    edited May 2018
    @TigerTom: He wanted to keep the tourists guessing where the 20-metre gorilla is hiding. ;)

    Skull Island was originally terraformed as a storage site for radioactive elements and other hazardous materials. Later converted into a spaceport facility and construction base for Borealis.
    0x6A7232
  • BugzapperBugzapper Australia Join Date: 2015-03-06 Member: 201744Members Posts: 1,085 Advanced user
    "Pan. Pan. Pan. Skull Island ATC to TCS Porkchop Express. Urgent weather advisory. Supercell front ETA our position, less than sixty seconds. Ceiling is currently 1100 metres, visibility less than 100 metres at sea level. Anticipate severe wind shear conditions from the northwest below 1000 metres on your approach vector 040. Surface wind speed is currently 45 knots and rising. Doppler radar is reading squall-line gusts exceeding 70 knots. LZ autopilot landing is advised. Skull Island ATC, over."

    "Roger that, Skull Island. We'll be riding your beam down on this one. Porkchop Express, out."

    The glare of the freighter's landing lights grew steadily brighter. I felt, rather than heard its approach over the howling wind and slashing rain, as she was coming in low and slow on her graviton lifters. Conditions out there would have made a standard atmospheric landing approach exceedingly risky. Despite the impressive power of its air-breathing engines, a Percheron-class freighter still has a large surface area, so the pilot has made a sound judgement call by using a more cautious landing technique. Definitely not a barnstormer, by any stretch of the imagination.

    As soon as the freighter's landing struts made contact with the pad, the fluidic shield reactivated. A passenger transfer connector snaked out from the island's terminal building, deftly attaching itself to the freighter's main airlock. Skull Island's ground crew are already heading over to handle the freighter's turn-around. Passengers will be disembarking any minute now. Time to collect our VIP.

    It wasn't hard to pick Radka Zelenka's face out of the crowd. A quick check of the surveillance feed revealed that she had detached herself from the main group upon entering the terminal. We found her standing by one of the viewports, apparently enthralled by the ghostly flickering of the island's shield. The leading edge of the storm roared and raged overhead, the darkness lit by jagged slashes of lightning, tearing the sky apart with increasing ferocity. In the brief interlude between flashes, I saw her face mirrored in the viewport. A faint, enigmatic smile that only the Mona Lisa could match.

    She's an attractive, fine-featured lass, although it seems she has taken considerable pains to deflect any unwelcome attention to her physical appearance. No obvious use of cosmetics, a baggy Alterra jumpsuit worn one size too large, and her shoulder-length chestnut hair appears to have been styled by a Force Nine gale. At a guess, I'd say she has a good reason for contriving this slovenly turnout.

    I stepped forward to announce my presence. Redundant. She has been watching us for some time.

    "Doktor Zelenka? I'm Alexander Selkirk, and these fine folk are my crew. Welcome to Manannán."

    Radka turned slowly, as if reluctant to direct her gaze in my direction. I extended my hand in greeting, and felt an almost-imperceptible flinch as her skin touched mine. Interesting response. Not quite revulsion, rather more like surprise. Clearly not what she was expecting.

    JUNO's voice came over the PA system. "Your attention, please. Due to adverse weather conditions, passenger transfer to The Last Resort will be via our transport submersible, Exodus. Please make your way down to the lower level docking facility. Boarding shall commence shortly. Thank you."

    "Radka, you'll be coming with us, of course. We have our own secure deepwater facility, and there's a workshop already fitted out to your specifications. Now, before we go any further, I must remind you that any information pertaining to this mission is to be kept confidential. Beyond Top Secret, in fact. Outside of my crew, only you and Captain Halvorsen have been made aware of the situation on Damocles. If Alterra gets its hands on a functional example of Precursor nanotech, that's the end of the human race. I've seen what this abomination can do to an entire planet. Are you with us?"

    Radka grinned fiercely. "Hell, yeah. As long as Alterra's kept out of the picture, count me in."
    0x6A7232TenebrousNovabaronvonsatan
  • TenebrousNovaTenebrousNova England Join Date: 2015-12-23 Member: 210206Members Posts: 641 Advanced user
    If they do nuke Damocles into Oblivion as I suspect, I imagine it would have huge consequences for Manannán since the two bodies are so close to each other...wouldn't it disrupt the weather systems?
  • TigerTomTigerTom Join Date: 2018-02-27 Member: 238363Members Posts: 46 Advanced user
    edited May 2018
    If they do nuke Damocles into Oblivion as I suspect, I imagine it would have huge consequences for Manannán since the two bodies are so close to each other...wouldn't it disrupt the weather systems?

    I think so, but maybe Selkirk will find a way to fix it somehow.
    Bugzapper’s Awesome Subnautica Books:
    Book 1 | Book 2
    My Subnautica Fanfic: LINK
  • 0x6A72320x6A7232 US Join Date: 2016-10-06 Member: 222906Members Posts: 5,242 Advanced user
    If they do nuke Damocles into Oblivion as I suspect, I imagine it would have huge consequences for Manannán since the two bodies are so close to each other...wouldn't it disrupt the weather systems?

    Pretty sure nukes only have an adverse effect in atmosphere. If the two planets were close enough to be swapping atmosphere, there would be other problems, AFAIK. Ask @Bugzapper to be sure, but if my understanding of nukes is correct, that's how it is (unless we're talking about doomsday device levels of yield of course, and even then I'm not sure unless it's powerful enough to launch parts of the other planet at its neighbor?). Again, though, it's Bugs' universe, we'll see soon enough!
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  • TenebrousNovaTenebrousNova England Join Date: 2015-12-23 Member: 210206Members Posts: 641 Advanced user
    0x6A7232 wrote: »

    Pretty sure nukes only have an adverse effect in atmosphere. If the two planets were close enough to be swapping atmosphere, there would be other problems, AFAIK. Ask @Bugzapper to be sure, but if my understanding of nukes is correct, that's how it is (unless we're talking about doomsday device levels of yield of course, and even then I'm not sure unless it's powerful enough to launch parts of the other planet at its neighbor?). Again, though, it's Bugs' universe, we'll see soon enough!

    I was thinking more along the lines of what would happen if Damocles was destroyed, since it would be exerting a gravitational pull on Manannán as our own moon does on Earth, which affects the tides. I should've been more clear!
    the_mariner
  • RowletAlexRowletAlex Eleventy-seven Nonexistent Street, Nowhereville, Outer Space. Join Date: 2018-03-16 Member: 239126Members Posts: 53 Advanced user
    I’m guessing that due to the massive amounts of minerals extracted from Damocles by the nanites/precursors, it doesn’t have that much mass left, and it won’t really effect the tides to blow it to oblivion. Plus, Manannan still has that other moon, so it won’t be left completely tide-less.
    TenebrousNova
  • SaltyPeteSaltyPete Germany Join Date: 2016-03-10 Member: 214067Members Posts: 3 Fully active user
    edited May 2018
    I bet Selkirk doesnt want to blow up the whole moon, imagine parts of it dropping to Manannan with some still aktive nanides... bad stuff. Most likely he plans to EMP-fry those buggers wich shouldnt harm the structure of the moon.. but who knows..
    Whatever happens ist up to Bugzapper, and he never failed to keep me interested. I just love this Story.. :)
    TenebrousNova
  • BugzapperBugzapper Australia Join Date: 2015-03-06 Member: 201744Members Posts: 1,085 Advanced user
    edited May 2018
    Last stop on Radka's grand tour of The Broch just happened to be our Advanced Projects lab. Gauged by her involuntary gasp as the bulkhead doors parted, I'd wager she's moderately impressed by what's in here. Haven't quite got around to tidying up after installing the fluidic shield emitters yet, but her little corner of the lab is Bristol-fashion and shipshape. Hot off the fabricators, in fact.

    "Okay. I'm definitely impressed." Radka admitted. "Honestly, I figured I'd get a folding table and a rusted toolbox with half the socket set missing... If I was lucky. Instead, I get a transmutation furnace, a full suite of remotely operated CNC tooling, nanolathe component fabricators and a telepresence RADSAFE assembly rig. This setup is way better than anything Alterra could offer."

    No point in being humble about it. I bowed extravagantly. "All yours, Doktor Zelenka. Dozo."

    We were supposed to be having dinner after the tour. An opportunity to give Zelenka some time to unwind and find her bearings. No such luck, I'm afraid. As soon as she gave the lab's facilities her full seal of approval, it was straight down to business. Fortunately, the lab has its own wardroom, so I was able to hold the initial briefing as originally intended, more or less.

    Radka stared intently at the hologram for quite some time, zooming and rotating the image with graceful, almost negligent hand gestures. She hummed softly and tunelessly all the while, occasionally consulting her PDA and entering her own sets of equations. Rather ashamed to admit that she's using mathematical functions that I'm barely aware of. To a non-specialist, it would look like a bewildering mix of arcane script and alchemical symbols. Give me an honest Einstein tensor or warp field geometry calculus any day. At least I can wrap my head around either of those. This ordeal is particularly nerve-wracking for me, since it's my bomb design that's currently under the microscope.

    Judging by that ever-present smirk of hers, Sensei isn't too impressed with my effort.

    "It's a fizzle, Captain Selkirk." Radka declared. "A fairly elegant one, but it's a fizzle all the same."

    "What d'ye mean, a fizzle?" I growled indignantly. "Okay, it's based on an old design, but it will..."

    "That design is inherently inefficient. Don't get me wrong, it's still a solid example of a deuterium-boosted fission/fusion implosion device. Only four hundred kilotons maximum yield, I'm afraid."

    "We can work together to improve that figure, surely we could modify..." I began meekly.

    Radka snorted derisively, dismissing my unfinished suggestion with an imperious gesture.

    "No, your design won't work. Period. Right idea, wrong materials. Using cobalt sheathing in an EMP bomb? Are you serious? Now, if you were planning to make an already dead world uninhabitable for another decade, that would be the way to go. Since it's your first attempt, I'll give it a C-minus."

    She's deliberately goading me.

    Rather than rise to such an obvious bait, I took a deep breath, counted to one million, gritted my teeth and somehow managed to smile pleasantly before responding.

    "Thank you, Doktor Zelenka. I think this might be an ideal time to discuss the details of your 1.5 megaton EMP device. Once we have a grasp of its design, the sooner we can begin in earnest, yes?"

    Man alive! I can sit through hours of lecture time without wishing I was someplace else, provided that the discussion is intriguing enough to catch my interest. We had to endure six and a half hours of smiling condescension and snide comments. Not overly fond of androids, apparently. To be honest, Zelenka certainly knows her business, but there is something about that woman's general attitude that rubs against the grain. You could grind down a neutron star's core with that wicked tongue of hers. Even if she does make Sheldon Cooper look like a cuddly thickie, there's no excuse for this level of gorram arrogance.

    Still, we desperately need her expertise... And she knows it.
    0x6A7232TenebrousNova
  • TigerTomTigerTom Join Date: 2018-02-27 Member: 238363Members Posts: 46 Advanced user
    Ah, he IS going to
    SaltyPete wrote: »
    EMP-fry those buggers

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  • the_marinerthe_mariner US of A Join Date: 2016-12-29 Member: 225653Members Posts: 132 Advanced user
    edited June 2018
    In all honesty, I’m taking a liking to Dr. Zelenka. It may just be me, but it seems like all throughout Borealis nobody’s been that suspicious of the hyperintelligent, insanely strong, and borderline sociopathic android, even though most of the people said android has met so far were trapped more than a kilometer underwater for their entire lives because of Selkirk’s actions.

    At this point, anyone who isn’t “ermaGERD Selkirk can I be your teammate/have your robot babbehz?” is cool in my book. Again, this may just be me.
    I had drifted o’er seas without ending,
    Under sinister grey-clouded skies
    That the many-fork’d lightning is rending,
    That resound with hysterical cries;
    With the moans of invisible daemons that out of the green waters rise.
    - H.P. Lovecraft
  • 0x6A72320x6A7232 US Join Date: 2016-10-06 Member: 222906Members Posts: 5,242 Advanced user
    In all honesty, I’m taking a liking to Dr. Zelenka. It may just be me, but it seems like all throughout Borealis nobody’s been that suspicious of the hyperintelligent, insanely strong, and borderline sociopathic android, even though most of the people said android has met so far were trapped more than a kilometer underwater for their entire lives because of Selkirk’s actions.

    At this point, anyone who isn’t “ermaGERD Selkirk can I be your teammate/have your robot babbehz?” is cool in my book. Again, this may just be me.

    I suppose borderline hostility is one way to figure out character traits. Probably not the wisest choice if you're dealing with a potential problem, though. At least not whilst trapped due to weather. Accidents happen on Parris Skull Island.
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  • BugzapperBugzapper Australia Join Date: 2015-03-06 Member: 201744Members Posts: 1,085 Advanced user
    edited June 2018
    Ever heard of a substance called hafnium-178m2?

    Until quite recently, neither have I.

    I'm aware of plain old hafnium, a silvery transition metal with a close chemical similarity to zirconium. Element 72, Hf on the Periodic Table. Rather useful in nuclear engineering, as it readily absorbs stray neutrons. Naturally, its main application is in controlling neutron flux in fission reactors. However, in its high-energy state or 'nuclear isomer' form, hafnium-178m2 is a particularly greedy beast. Feed it enough neutrons from an x-ray source, and it will store up to 60 times as much energy as you've pumped into it. In terms of its potential explosive power output, one gram of Hf-178m2 is equivalent to 50 kilograms of TNT. There will also be an intense burst of gamma radiation when this substance absorbs a massive dose of x-rays as the bombs detonate. The resultant burst of gamma radiation will in turn excite gas molecules in Damocles' upper atmosphere, triggering a planet-wide EMP effect. Hopefully, without shattering its crust like an eggshell. Fingers crossed.

    Yes, I'm calling them bombs. Not 'devices', 'gadgets' or 'gizmos'. They're thermonuclear bombs.

    Zelenka's virtual prototype is about the size of an Alterra-issue dive cylinder, and we're currently tweaking its design to accommodate a more efficient neutron accelerator. There's not a lot of empty space to play with either, since there's already a 15-kiloton nuclear implosion bomb in the main casing, and all remaining space is taken up with detonation electronics and second-stage thermonuclear components. Without going into an uncomfortable amount of detail, the accelerator (or 'zipper') fires a stream of neutrons into a pea-sized pellet of frozen tritium gas, which acts as a boosting agent for the impending thermonuclear reaction. Two bombs inside a series of casings comprised of exotic metals and alloys designed to hold the bomb together, just long enough for everything inside to go completely mental.

    That takes roughly a microsecond, all up. In atom-jack parlance, it's known as a 'shake', as in 'one shake of a lamb's tail'. Blink, and you'll definitely miss it.

    Undeniably, Zelenka is a certified genius in her chosen field of expertise. However, working with her has not been a pleasant experience. Close proximity to Radka has proved to be a hazardous business, at least in terms of the steep emotional price it demands. In fact, she played the 'PhD Poker' game barely ten minutes after her arrival here, and I folded like an origami frog. No contest. She has six doctorates that neatly encompass the hottest fields of advanced physics. My dusty old MechEng degree and an equally aged Master's in warp propulsion systems simply doesn't cut it, at least in her estimation. It's like pairing Doctor Manhattan with Beaker from 'The Muppet Show'.

    Aye, it's no picnic, but at least we're achieving tangible results. In the two days since her arrival, Zelenka has refined her original bomb design to the point where we can actually start fabricating most of the key components within the next 48 hours. The transmutation furnace is currently converting pure tantalum into the required hafnium isomer, albeit at an excruciatingly slow rate. We need about a kilogram to make gamma-ray emission sheathing sufficient for all eight bombs.

    To be honest, I've never met another human being as intensely focused as Radka Zelenka. I'm more used to working in a mildly boisterous frame of mind, since a bit of light banter usually makes the working day more tolerable for all concerned. Not so, in her case. I've attempted to start a casual off-topic conversation a couple of times today, only to be met with a Gorgon's glare that would freeze stellar plasma. Rather than make any issue of it, I decided to leave well enough alone. On further reflection, it's probably a kindness that Zelenka isn't one to muck about while she's at work. Her favourite bits on the Table of Elements aren't ideal source materials for practical jokes.
    0x6A7232TenebrousNovabaronvonsatan
  • BugzapperBugzapper Australia Join Date: 2015-03-06 Member: 201744Members Posts: 1,085 Advanced user
    edited June 2018
    Cutty Sark hung motionless, precisely 85 kilometres above the surface of Damocles. As it turned out, my decision to launch immediately after assembling the bombs appears to have been uncannily prescient. Admittedly, I did have a fair idea when any surviving nanites would begin showing signs of life, since their re-appearance is linked to the cooling rate of the glassy crater directly beneath us. Its surface has already cooled and solidified, forming an almost-perfect parabolic depression in the planet's crust. So far, there are only fleeting signs of nanite activity, although I suspect this may not be the case for too much longer. JUNO has been monitoring the planet's surface since our arrival, a little over two hours ago. Unfortunately, there's still enough residual heat in that vitrified mass to interfere with her readings. Elusive and ambiguous though these EM traces may be, it's a fair bet that the nanites are on the move again. To provide a small measure of advance warning, I've launched a salvo of twelve surface-penetrating probes, reconfigured to serve as active lures during the final stages of this mission.

    The airlock cycled. Under my remote command, Gawain opened a heavily-shielded transit case and gently withdrew one of Zelenka's EMP bombs. Since these bombs are required to generate as much prompt gamma radiation as possible during detonation, there is a complete absence of any internal shielding material. Instead, each weapon is encased in a disposable ceramic casing that's lined with a boron-cadmium-lead composite material. Even so, these wee bundles of joy are still hotter than Hades, and decidedly unsuitable for humans to handle.

    Placement is critical. No pun intended.

    Each bomb is simply left floating in space, rather than being launched from the ship in a series of fly-bys. It is essential that all bombs are completely motionless when released and perfectly equidistant in relation to their neighbours, so that the EMP effect provides total planetary coverage at maximum output. There's a very small margin of error involved; only about a kilometre or so of leeway in any direction relative to the planet's surface. Not particularly impossible to achieve, although it was a damnably slow business.

    Twelve hours later, all bombs have been set. There's not much more to do until we have solid confirmation that the nanites are well and truly on the move. Those probes are intended to act as tripwires, so we'll know when it's an appropriate moment to push The Big Red Button. To pass the time, JUNO and I made an heroic attempt to engage Zelenka in conversation. In a way, I was hoping that Radka might show some interest, any interest in our merry band of castaways. She's obviously not happy with her current status on board the Carl Sagan, and I conjure she might welcome an opportunity to do something more constructive when we return to Terra. Not interested.

    Not at all surprised, in fact. It seems that we have a genuine misanthrope in our midst. Not an ideal fit.

    "Probe Four is down, Sir. Signal lost on Probes Seven, Three and Ten." JUNO announced.

    I activated the secure comms channel. "Selkirk to Carl Sagan Actual. Five minutes to SUNSET."

    "Message received and understood, Captain." Halvorsen replied.

    Standing off at 2000 kilometres, Cutty Sark is safely outside the area of effect. Even so, I thought it best to take the 'full belt and braces' approach. Shields at maximum, laying stern-on to Damocles.

    "Doktor Zelenka, would you kindly do the honours?"

    Say 'cheese'!
    0x6A7232Quantum_AnomalyTenebrousNovabaronvonsatan
  • BugzapperBugzapper Australia Join Date: 2015-03-06 Member: 201744Members Posts: 1,085 Advanced user
    Well, that was impressive.

    Damocles flared like the proverbial Thousand Suns as all eight bombs detonated simultaneously. Total event duration, eight point seven-five seconds. As the incandescence faded, the planet's entire atmosphere fluoresced like a luminous fire opal, a magnificent, planetary aurora of flickering green, purple, white and red flares. Almost instantaneously, our surviving probes on the surface ceased transmission. Bingo. Those probes were EMP-hardened, their shielding precisely scaled to survive an X9-Class solar flare, unlike our nasty little friends lurking below the surface. There's only so much shielding that a nanite can carry, no matter how cunningly it's designed.

    I am banking on a guess that the nanites have not yet adapted their swarming behaviour. Our initial observations indicated that the central swarm remains connected to its outermost elements, sending out tendrils composed of tightly-packed nanites, rather than moving the entire mass hither and yon under the surface of Damocles. An economical application of effort to be sure, but one that proved to be instrumental in their apparent destruction. We're well aware that the EMP effect decreases sharply after passing through a few metres of dense soil or rock. That factor alone could have made this mission an exercise in sheer futility. However, the nanite tendrils appear to have served as an excellent subsurface antenna network, conducting the EM pulse to precisely where it could do the most damage.

    And apparently, it has.

    Long range scans are still inconclusive. As anticipated, there's now a vicious radiation belt surrounding Damocles, We'll just have to hang around until the dust settles, figuratively speaking.

    "Congratulations, Doktor Zelenka. Octuplets, all Boys."

    "Thank you, Captain Selkirk." Radka said, inclining her head in wry acknowledgement.

    "Twelve megatons total yield. Right on the button. There's a canny job of work." I smiled.

    Zelenka smirked. "Absolutely. There was never any doubt. You'll also notice that almost all of the energy released during detonation reached the planet's atmosphere. Zero point zero-zero-three-nine per cent neutron beam collimation loss. Hardly worth mentioning, in fact. Your suggestion of using beryllium focal lenses wasn't entirely idiotic after all, it seems. Consider me completely surprised."

    "One does one's humble best." I replied, smiling graciously. No point in stirring up more trouble.

    "Anyway, we sincerely appreciate your efforts, although there's little to offer in return. Perhaps you'd like to spend an extra week or so at The Last Resort, if only to make up for your lost R&R?"

    Zelenka shuddered visibly. Her infuriating mask of self-assurance vanished in an instant. Boom.

    Wild panic flared in her eyes. "NO!" Radka buried her face in her hands, sobbing. "The s-sea..."

    "What? You have thalassaphobia? But, how did you- ?"

    "I dosed up shortly before landing on 4546B... Ximophen. It helps a little, but I can't take it for any extended period. A couple of days, at the very most. I can't think straight for weeks after that."

    I gaped at her like a landed codfish, utterly dumbstruck.

    "Why put yeself through the bloody wringer like that? Didn't Halvorsen even bother tae mention that 4546B is an M-Class water-world, for Crom's sake?"

    Radka smiled ruefully, knuckling her tears dry. "Of course he did. I came and did my job anyway."

    "Ah'm sair sorry, Lass. Ah dinnae whit else tae say." I murmured. "Let's get ye back tae the Sagan."

    The trip back was uneventful. JUNO spent most of the time with Zelenka. Secret women's business.

    Anywhere else but Manannán, some might consider a primal fear of the ocean entirely irrational. She sees the full truth of it.


    ... And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.
    TenebrousNova0x6A7232baronvonsatan
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