Jump to content
Noko

[Aspyn] In the Middle of Difficulty... (Closed)

Recommended Posts

Michael, I hope you forgive the intrusion.  I'm sure you're busy. 

My analysts just dumped these projections on my desk this morning- have you seen similar projections?  Can we help?

Ebn5BAH.png

Feel free to contact me directly, I left my number with your assistant.

Adam Nial

CEO, The Uriel Group

"A Better, Safer, Tomorrow."

@amenities

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By now, a large base had been built on Asyn's northeast coast. In the last few months it had become Michael's new residence. After a long absence, he finally found himself sitting in an office made special for him. Whether for a businessman, a politician, a soldier or a clergyman, this was the first office that had ever been made for Michael Commager. There was a plaque on the wall outside that read both his military and religious rank. Across the hall were tablets inscribed with stories some much more eloquent writer than him had made about all his adventures.

Inside the office was a white oak desk with a comfortable chair behind it, and behind that a bookshelf filled with books took up the entire otherwise wood-paneled wall. Two chairs faced him from the other side of the desk that were just as nice as his own, meant for visitors he'd yet to have. On the corner of his desk was a perfect isosceles tetrahedron, standing straight up on one point. From Michael's point of view the left of the desk was the door, to the right a great window that overlooked the sprawl of the thriving Aspyn. He could turn his chair just so that he could relax, finally, for once, and look out and something good. There was a point in the day where the sun peaked Bia'Thera and the floor of Michael's office was bathed in sunlight, but you didn't get hit in the face with it unless you walked right up to the window. With a few plants right there to catch it, the smell of vegetation filled Michael's office at these points of the day. With the sun on his feet, the smell of green in his nostrils, he leaned back and closed his eyes with the city of Aspyn's heart beating gently in his ear.

A pleasant chime notified him that a message was conveyed along city Fauxton lines and into his office, projected down onto his desk from a face of the tetrahedron.

On 8/17/2020 at 1:25 PM, Noko said:

Michael, I hope you forgive the intrusion.  I'm sure you're busy. 

My analysts just dumped these projections on my desk this morning- have you seen similar projections?  Can we help?

Ebn5BAH.png

Feel free to contact me directly, I left my number with your assistant.

Adam Nial

CEO, The Uriel Group

"A Better, Safer, Tomorrow."

@amenities

By now it was a natural reflex: Michael's fingers that had a moment ago lingered effortlessly on the desk corner curled into a fist, his brow knitting into a web of concern. Frustration didn't describe it anymore, because he understood that Valucre was fraught with evildoers. At any given moment of peace, he knew it was only a matter of time before disaster struck, so he'd had his moment and then poof, there it had went. With the smell of Aspyn's augmented vegetative life still filling his office, Michael sat in deep thought while looking down on his city of refugees. His city that someone saw to threaten.

Then his fist loosened.

With a thought, the number for Adam Nial came up on the crystal face nearest him. Somewhere presumably in Hell's Gate, a comms crystal would illuminate in a place that would get the CEO's attention.

"Terran Major Micheal Commager, is this Adam Nial? I'd like to talk about this data you sent. It's.. It's quite something. Not to doubt your analysts, I just had to hear it from you, this is positively legitimate?"

Meanwhile background scans of the number and location verified that this was, in fact, the Uriel Group. Only the typical encryptions would close the conversation in between a high ranking government official and a third party discussing high stakes information.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Adam was at his desk when the holophone on his desk lit, casting a soft, purplish, light across his reflective glass desk.  He glanced down, a fresh frown drawn as the encryption verification arose from the communication disc like a messiah arisen.  "Michael Commager (Verified)," it read, and without hesitation Adam tapped his fingertips against the silver podium, simultaneously sliding a hand back through his tangled hair on the off-chance Michael was broadcasting video.

"Terran Major Micheal Commager, is this Adam Nial?"  The voice echoed through, barely a pause before Michael launched into the business of things.  "I'd like to talk about this data you sent. It's.. It's quite something. Not to doubt your analysts, I just had to hear it from you, this is positively legitimate?"

"Michael, yes - this is Adam.  I wish I could say there were doubts, but we cross-checked and verified the raw data and the finished projections.."  Adam paused, bringing his elbow forward to lay across the desk, engaged.  "It's legitimate.  There's not a single doubt in my mind.  We've been able to extrapolate a significant amount of information which I think could help your defense against the demons."  Again, he paused, and gravity weighed down his tone.

"It's quite an army, Michael.  Have you been able to get scouts nearby?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There was no video on either side of the transmission, only a silence stretching after Nial's reply. 

"Regrettably no, I haven't," Michael admitted. Despite Kahd's overtaking of small villages along the Wastelands border, it was specifically this factor which granted him safety from Michael's vigilant gaze. Michael ticked the places off that where he'd put crystals that could project roaming probes in his own image, and the projected path was outside all of their ranges.

It was a failure, a loss of countless lives whose souls he couldn't even reach anymore. But it was also an opportunity for Michael to learn, to grow. 'Desensitized' never described the way he felt for their loss, but he certainly wouldn't be defeated by it, just like he had not been defeated by the losses of any other battle he'd weathered. Sometimes the best thing you can do for those you loved that are lost is continue onward. This philosophy drove him to inhuman lengths, envisioning the powers of all those he'd lost coursing through his veins in his most dire moments.

It was now that this sensation not only settled upon him, but utterly assailed him. He wasted no time feeling bad for himself, or others for that matter; he opened another comms channel to Barrett, the director he'd elected for his base.

"Barrett," he said curtly.

"Mikey!" came the casual alienesque creature's voice, ready to cajole like always. "What's happenin' man—"

"First Lieutenant Barrett, attention!" Adam Nial would still be part of the conversation and even he, largely unknowledgeable of Michael's persona, would be privy to the Major's potential for tonal aggression.

"Sir!" Any illusion of their friendship evaporated in Barrett's innately casual voice instantaneously. Nobody could see him, but he stood from his chair and stood at attention out of sheer fear and instinct for his former squad leader.

"Projection incoming," said the Major as the image given by the Uriel group wired through to 1st Lt. Barrett.

"Ffff... wha—"

"Listen carefully, Lieutenant. We have some time before the horde's projected arrival, but this is dire. This calls for a mustering of all forces except for peripheral defenses to the southwestern border. Full utilization of Fauxton channels will be necessary, we need a tenfold stockpile of munitions and resources. Adam Nial of the Uriel Group, a verified group with our interests in mind, is here on the line to discuss potential resources. Adam this is First Lieutenant Barrett of the Terran Military and director of the Aspyn Military Base. Barrett, this is Adam.

"Now to cut to the chase— as I see it, lives are lost for every minute we waste— in relation to the numbers you gave us Mr. Nial, is there any other part you can play in helping out? Before you respond, I'm infinitely grateful for the information to begin with. You have already done us an incredible service that I can't thank you enough for. It's just," his second admitting smile was palpable over their broadcast, "I think we could use all the help we can get."

While they spoke, Barrett was already disseminating the bad news through their military network and dispersing appropriate information through appropriate channels to have a defense ready and extend scouts toward the hoard's projected path well in advance of its projected arrival in order to gauge its actual arrival and the necessary force of their rebuttal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Acknowledgement of Lieutenant Barret happened in the flow- polite, but easily lost in Michael's commanding control of the conversation.  At his desk, Adam propped his chin up in his palm and and, with the other hand, activated a data crystal set on the opposite side of his desk.  Immediately, a haze of light fanned upward and displayed a series of holographic folders.  He began to browse through those with the tip of his finger, swiping the floating rectangles from side to side, and occasionally dipping in to explode the contents into a square display which overtook the entirety of his desk.

"Now to cut to the chase— as I see it, lives are lost for every minute we waste— in relation to the numbers you gave us Mr. Nial, is there any other part you can play in helping out? Before you respond, I'm infinitely grateful for the information to begin with. You have already done us an incredible service that I can't thank you enough for. It's just.. I think we could use all the help we can get."

Unseen on the other end of the communication, Adam nodded to an empty room.  While removed from the danger of the situation, he felt its gravity- felt the weight and purpose of the call as innately as Michael may.  Methods aside, when Adam had founded the Uriel Group so many years ago, he'd codified their purpose in a single mission statement, that they would always move toward a Better, Safer, Tomorrow.  He actually meant that.

"I think there is," he said after a moment, after sorting through and pulling out the analysis he had been provided.  "We have significant tactical information extrapolated from the invasion of Treedell and the observed behaviors and movements of the forces across Lagrimosa.  We can let the pencil pushers figure out the finances over the course of this week, but I don't want to hold up your ability to prepare and respond.  If we're in agreement, I'll send you the information now."

It was a bold choice for Adam- an enormous extension of trust to a man he knew only by reputation, but we weren't going to get to a Better, Safer, Tomorrow on a foundation of shadows and mistrust.  Still, he was a businessman, and while Michael surely understood that he may not know how deeply Adam cared about his employees and their well-being.  What he did here- goods before payment- gambled with the salaries of his employees and the liquidity of his business.. but there was a demon horde marching on Aspyn and Adam couldn't remain idle.

"Also, based on the enemy's observed tactical capabilities, we began re-architecting the TOTEM series to provide offensive and defensive capabilities geared for this specific engagement- I'll send the schematics over.  If we remain on schedule, we should be rolling out the new versions of TOTEM shortly.  If you're interested in deploying those to support your soldiers, have the accountants include that in the negotiations.  We could potentially start moving machines early next week."

Casting a blue eye back to the map, Adam pinched his chin and examined the projections- they would make it.  They had time.

Edited by Noko

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nobody would ever reach the Better, Safer, Tomorrow on a foundation of shadows and mistrust. Michael believed that too, maybe without the slogan but with the same sentiment. Michael could very well be a good guy, a really good one, but to who? For whom was he making tomorrow better, safer; and by extension for whom was he making it worse, more dangerous? For the moment, he knew now that it was the archdemon whose existence he must jeopardize with all his heart and soul. 

Scouts were already dispersing to verify the information, so he didn’t treat this as a matter of trust. A matter of an hour or so would verify that this was true.

"Also, based on the enemy's observed tactical capabilities, we began re-architecting the TOTEM series to provide offensive and defensive capabilities geared for this specific engagement- I'll send the schematics over.  If we remain on schedule, we should be rolling out the new versions of TOTEM shortly.  If you're interested in deploying those to support your soldiers, have the accountants include that in the negotiations.  We could potentially start moving machines early next week."

The CEO spoke and the Major flipped through the information he had accepted over their private channel. Schematics, projections, estimations, statistics, calculations. Specs. Images. 

A crimson ring of fire kindled to life at the sight of the words ‘yelled Gaia.’ This wasn’t a newly reborn saint they were talking about. That exclamation alarmed Michael the most out of any of the archdemon’s qualities. It created a rip, a tear, a violent dissonance in his brain that triggered him to go from tranquilly thoughtful to readily agitated. Just like a lot of people when you question their strong faiths. He could already tell in his gut that this would be his greatest challenge as the Hand of Gaia. 

“Three weeks,” he said, gritting his teeth. He leaned back, consciously relaxing himself as his back touched his chair, closing his eyes for a moment to envision the inevitable struggle that would come based on Uriel Group’s data.  “We need samples of those who were infected by the light coming from Kahd’s eyes, bio samples of vegetation the lands he’s crossed, eye witness accounts if there are any survivors who have seen him…”

While Nial and Commager talked on equal terms, the former would understand that the latter was a largely amiable individual. The singular mean strike that had driven his short communication with his First Lieutenant was invisible now. Even so, its influence spread like wildfire through all of Aspyn’s military networks. The necessary information was disseminated through Barrett into the appropriate ranks and a proper battle plan was started, the proper parties who had experience with the archdemon contacted.

“I remember your TOTEM presentation at the World Fair,” said Michael reminiscently, almost abruptly. Now, not in the face of Nial’s information but in the face of his offering equipment, especially TOTEM models, Michael’s propensity for trust found itself tested.

“Those things are.. Awesome,” he said it cautiously. “Not to be ungrateful, because like I said I really am, but I have questions. Do the TOTEMS have sentient drivers or are they run by AIs? Will they come with some sort of off switch if I need to, in the case of catastrophic targeting failure, protect my own men against them?”

It was easy to forget that all of Aspyn was mobilizing while Michael talked with Adam. Hopefully the CEO wouldn’t think that Michael was lingering on an unimportant issue or looking a gift horse in the mouth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Three weeks.."

In his high-backed chair, Adam was experiencing the same consternation as he explored the timeline.  The TOTEM models were already in production.  They needed another two days for the latest round of adjustments based on the samples Argus sent back from Treedell, then a week for QA/QC, and probably a handful of days to get the TOTEM models shipped to Aspyn, which had the unfortunate trait of being literally halfway across the country.  He squinted, the press on his bridge tighter as the figures ran through his mind.  When Michael went on, he was glad for it- these were problems he could solve.

"We need samples of those who were infected by the light coming from Kahd’s eyes, bio samples of vegetation the lands he’s crossed, eye witness accounts if there are any survivors who have seen him.."

"Through our partnership with Argus, we already have boots on the ground collecting those samples and performing interviews.  The data has been coming in since this morning and we should be in position to consolidate a report by tomorrow evening.  The answers from that will inform our last set of adjustments to the outbound TOTEM models," interjected Adam, lending some sense of preparedness to a scenario that was decidedly not.  All in all, the CEO was entirely capable- over his head in the whole archdemon-apocalypse thing, surely, but distilled down to its essence this terrifying development was just a problem; problems broke down to systems, which could be derived from facts, which could be determined with effort and person hours.  The familiarness of it provided a certainty, an immovable steel rod in Adam's spine, where he remained unshaken and sure.

Abruptly, Michael continued and Adam refocused caution which laced the Major's words.

"I remember your TOTEM presentation at the World Fair.  Those things are.. Awesome,"

"..they are."  It was quiet, not an interruption, but Adam couldn't help but to agree.  The TOTEM models were his babies and he still marveled in their ingenuity, working daily with the teams to ensure their continued development and creative evolution.

"Not to be ungrateful, because like I said I really am, but I have questions."

Of course, of course.

"Do the TOTEMS have sentient drivers or are they run by AIs? Will they come with some sort of off switch if I need to, in the case of catastrophic targeting failure, protect my own men against them?"

"The TOTEM operators are wholly sentient drivers; Uriel doesn't utilize independent AI components or operators of any sort anywhere in our supply chain.  When the schism in Hell's Gate happened a few years ago, we chose to champion our workers.  Our products are proudly built by the men and women of Hell's Gate- not their computers."  Adam stated this definitively, almost defiantly, the edge tempering only as he went on to the topic of his workers and the product themselves.  As he continued, his tone settled- but sharp emphasis and marked pauses highlighted his passion for the product and his business.  

"The closest to an autonomous AI would be the strict HECTOR series, which is not a true automaton but is semi-autonomous," he continued, "It can make response-only decisions based on rules created for it by its operator and input it derives from the W.A.R. module - in testing, this significantly increased operator survivability by over six-hundred percent.  There is an operator in the unit, who is keyed specifically to that unit, and the unit cannot function without the presence of its operator.  We ensure this by making specific components of the operators unique magical essence a requirement for the unit's power drive - no operator, no power.

Because the units are keyed to their operators, there's no off-switch- you would need to be concerned with a rogue operator, but not a rogue AI.

I don't mean to get in the weeds here, Major.. did that address your concern?  It's one we share, I might add.  A full AI unit will never have a place at Uriel."

Edited by Noko

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nial would hear Michael rapping one fingertip on his desk as he described his TOTEMs, and the rhythmic cadence into which the drum settled indicated that he was placated by Uriel Group's thoroughness, their statistics, their data, and their TOTEMs.

"Yeah, I just needed to hear it straight from the source. All things considered, I agree to as much help as you're willing to offer," he responded after a short pause. "You mentioned transport taking a couple days due to the vast space between us. I'd like to offer Fauxton transport, it's much faster than most available means so it might help things along faster. This isn't a deadline I'd like to push at all," his breath of a laugh afterward was audible. "Hold for a moment please."

Meanwhile Watchmen and Terran military units were mobilized, the Biazo Abbey contacted for clergy support, and the Glasmanns to reconcile any information or resources they were willing to pair with the Gaian and Terran forces rallying in Aspyn.

"Terran Military Major Michael Commager here. I would like to talk about the Kahd'Xel situation. Perhaps there is a collaboration of resources and information we can create together that might ultimately cripple or put an end to this thing. Get back to me." @The Alexandrian

--

"I've contacted a friendly family," he said on returning to Nial, "But we are certainly in need of help on at least three fronts. I and my men can cover one front, and the Glasmanns are a potential for a second front, but it would be ideal if we could depend on the TOTEMs for supplemental or primary support on a third front."

At that moment, Michael sent a ping to Li'El containing all the data he'd just received. @danzilla3

"Will you be capable of taking up one of three potential fronts in the conflict this projects? You know," he said with a dark sense of humor he thought Li might appreciate, "just hypothetically."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Li was in bed when he received the message, just about to fall asleep when his PDA pinged him. He looked down to see the sleeping form of Marigold, who was still asleep with his head resting on the former Paladin's chest. Not wanting to wake his lover, he moved delicately as he picked up the device. Scrolling through the data Michael had sent, he frowned. It seemed that he and his fellow Disciples would soon find themselves in the fires of battle. His left arm curled around Mari protectively as he gave a simple, one word reply.

"Yes."

@Djinn&Juice

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Hold for a moment please."

Adam held- for a moment, he even held in place, waiting patiently, until his natural energy levels bubbled over, and he launched himself upward from his desk and began to pace.  There was a lot to plan - build time, travel time, training, retro-fits to the existing units..  He pushed a breath out, letting his cheeks inflate as he pursed his lips, then abruptly crossed toward a second comm-unit mounted on one of the mural-covered walls.

A rousing symphony erupted from the comm unit- apparently, Michael's hold music was an old Aspyn battle hymn which Adam found himself humming along to as he activated the second comm-unit.

"Janus, get me Geralmo and Rosa."

The automated voice responded immediately.

<Warning: It is eleven forty-four at night.>

"I know."  Adam came to a stop, folding his arms across his chest.  After enough 'gentle' reminders that his staff didn't keep the same long hours he did, Adam had written the code for this little doozy, which did nothing but irritatingly remind him when he was trying to contact people after reasonable hours.  It didn't stop him- just reminded him.

"Janus, override polite consideration: contact Geralmo and Rosa when the call with Michael is complete.  Advise them that it's a priority call."

<Polite-consideration overridden.  You have overridden polite-consideration three times this month.>

Adam scrubbed his palm over his face, then pinched the bridge of his nose.

<Call scheduled, I will advise you when it is connected.>

The man paced until Michael back on the line, his footsteps marking the half-seconds for as long as it took him to cross his office.  The Major would hear his change of position when he got back on the line; much further away now, and moving, enough that Adam had to project to be heard clearly through the phone.

"...but it would be ideal if we could depend on the TOTEMs for supplemental or primary support on a third front."

"Of course, I wouldn't have reached out if we didn't intend on helping."  He paused, mulling over the shortcuts he could take to get the machines in Michael's hands sooner.  "Having the Fauxton available will certainly speed things up." acknowledged Adam.  A slow exhale escaped his lips as he recalculated, thoughtfully scratching the day's scruff on his chin. 

"Have the accountants connect in the morning to work out the details.  If we can get use of the Fauxton immediately, I'll send you trainers in the morning so we can get your operators up to speed on the models you choose.  We recommend one operator for every T.O.T.E.M. deployment along with an appropriate number of model-dependent backup operators.

In the meanwhile, we'll keep working on defensive equipment for your men.  We're also partnering with Argus for treatment modalities.  I can't promise anything, but they've been miracle-workers with previous catastrophes.  I'm not sure if you heard about the water troubles in Last Chance, but they saved a lot of lives there.  I'm hoping they can do the same here."

Edited by Noko

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While Nial spoke, Michael considered. The introduction of a third party when deals were almost concluded was always suspicious to Michael. Had an investigation in Last Chance not just come up clean on Argus, he would have immediately probed into them too, but seeing as the events of months prior had occurred with no over-the-table results Michael would settle for examining the TOTEMs on arrival for any malpractice. It wasn't out of suspicion for Argus or The Uriel Group that he would do it, it was out of a sense of duty. It was the same thing he would have done regardless of where the resources were coming from, both for foul play and quality.

"I'm not sure if you heard about the water troubles in Last Chance, but they saved a lot of lives there.  I'm hoping they can do the same here," came Nial's voice, presumably over speaker now based on the reverberation of his voice.

"I did hear about that," said Michael in a conversatorily conclusive tone that indicated he had a new notion to present. "But I'd like to talk payment. I can send over a number and if that number suits you, you can send me proper account information and we can get this ball rolling. There is no time to waste. Can you send me over schematics of the HECTOR and TOTEM-ONE models? Those will be our bread and butter in Aspyn, I think. I will contact you, and if all is well with you then I'll distribute our network of Fauxtons between here and there for physical transfer of the TOTEMs.

"Now to cut to a new chase, you said something about your team working on gathering samples of the incident in Treedell. I know something like that might take time, especially in gathering volatile new magics, so take all the time you need to do so safely; but do you have any sort of timeline on how long that might take, and are you willing to part with some of said samples? We've got boots on the ground in Treedell as well, but I could potentially do something useful with as much stuff as possible if I have three or four days to work with them, which means if you agree I could wait up to two-and-a-half weeks for the samples at most."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...