Contingency – Chapter 5: Preparedness

Three Months, One Week after the Vancouver Incident

“Hijo de tu puta madre!”

This had followed a small explosion from the direction of the Armory. It had been going on for the better part of a month. Juan had been trying to modify the pulse weapons from the Bladed Claws armory for weeks now. And every time he’d get close something would cause it to go wrong. He couldn’t get the pulse fields to pierce soft warm butter let alone anything close to human flesh. Oh he could get the field to take on the shape he wanted, it just burst like a soap bubble the moment it hit anything denser than air.

The minor explosions and deep wounds from destroyed pulse weapons had provided DuFrane with a chance to test the cruzzir drug. Under Cranex supervision he had applied the drug to the man’s wounds. Cranex had noticed that the rate of cellular regeneration was enhanced in humans but noticed no other problems with it. Juan had so far not reported any differences either. DuFrane was still worried it could cause Cancer… or turn Juan into come kind of Wolverine.

Juan had told him if that happened to just call him the Chubacabra.

Both DuFrane and Cranex had watched him leave with the same deadpan level glare. Jackson was certain that Cranex might not be the best influence on DuFrane. Though Cranex was concerned as they had kept an eye on Juan during treatment. That was what lead to Captain Drake being in the medical for the moment. “I have never seen a species take to Cruzzir as well as your species does. You consume close to four time the amount of nutrients, oxygen, and water of any species in the galaxy. Yet the smallest amount applied on a wound and the result is almost instantaneous. I’m honestly shocked,” Cranex said.

Drake nodded and asked, “Are there any side effects so far?”

Cranex shook his head, “No, Cruzzir works exactly as it is supposed to on your people. Perhaps a bit faster but that is it.”

Drake nodded, “That’s good then…”

All of the sudden the conversation was interrupted by a loud explosion and Juan’s voice screaming, “Chinga tu hermana!”

Drake sighed and rubbed his temple, “Let me know when he grows another arm or something Bones.”

Cranex just sighed and pulled out the vial of Cruzzir and an application stick.

Six Months after the Vancouver Incident

Drake was walking up to a small clearing. Jahmal and his working group and summoned him out here to day. They had spent the last several months working on their project and apparently had something to show for it, finally. Drake had hoped for something. What he saw as he reached the group was at least very intimidating.

The group was walking around a volunteer who was standing there, the armor was a glossy black in places, with some kind of black fabric underneath the individual plates. The helmet was an opaque black as well, but with a white skull on the front. There was also what could only be described as a cloak over the figure, draping down his shoulders with a cowl over the helmet.

Drake felt that was one creepy looking setup.

“Ah Captain, we are just ready to show our demonstration.”

Drake nodded and said, “Tell me you are documenting this. Earth is going to need this advantage or at least something to work from.”

Jahmal nodded, “We’re recording everything and we’ll make sure we have it fully documented. We’ve got Brooks working on a computer system to store everything we are developing here.”

Drake knew of Brooks second project. The Central Intelligence Core, where everything they figured out was being documented and stored. IF and When they finally managed to get back to Earth they would have something for the boys at JPL, MIT, and yes maybe even Area 51 to work with.

“Now, we’ve been operating on the idea that we’d have to have armor good enough to at least stand up to traditional Earth weaponry. Compared to a Kinetic Pulse Weapon this is a considerable threat. We probably won’t see any projectile based weaponry out here but better safe than sorry,” Jahmal said.

“We’ve based the plates on traditional armor plating. The Fabricator has allowed us to experiment with certain material combinations while not wasting our resources.”

The Fabricator seemed to allow them to process most forms of matter into usable products by recombining matter at the molecular level. So even though they didn’t have a lot to work with they could have the fabricator take whatever waste they had and recycle it into new objects. Though from the number of warped, pierced, burned, melted, and one that looked like it had been turned inside out, that had been a lot of recycling.

“First off the under layer you can’t see right now is where the pressure is being applied to the body. By replacing air pressure with mechanical pressure we are able to provide the soldier with a greater field of movement. The under layer also has the environmental temperature regulation, as many materials available to us can be used that aren’t available on Earth.”

Drake nodded, thinking of the big bulky white suits that were basically wearable space ships. Drake took a moment and asked, “What kind of field of motion are we talking about?”

Jahmal handed Drake a piece of fabric he assumed was for the suit. It seemed to stretch rather easily, but not too much. In fact it seemed to only have a little bit of give as he tugged on it. Than Jahmal pressed a button he had mounted on the sample and the fabric loosened up significantly.

“We decided that if something happened and the armor lost all power it was better to design the survival systems to be able to maintain necessary conditions when unpowered.”

Drake nodded, it made sense to lock things down to improve the longevity of the soldiers life as much as possible.

Jahmal continued, “Over that was have the actual armor. Using the material samples we had from your flack jacket we were able to create something we hope will be up to the task. We took a carbon-Kevlar composite and overlaid it on top of a titanium tri-weave fiber that should stand up to a hand gun with little problem. Combined with the basic electro-static defense screen everyone uses out in space it can stand up to several hits from a standard assault rifle. A Barret .50 cal sniper rifle however will still end you without you even knowing it.”

Drake thought for a moment and asked, “What’s powering all this?”

Jahmal answered, “We’re using what can only be called a quantum power battery. We pulled the energy sources out of a few of the defense harnesses in the armory. I’m not sure how the stuff the Hunters had when they attacked Vancouver compares. We’re not sure how it will all work in actual combat, but for now we know no one uses bullets so we should be fine.”

“Yea, just record everything and see if the guys back home can figure it out when we get them all of this information,” Drake said, grinning at the camps attitude towards alien technology. Its space magic, let the white coats back home figure it out.

The problem they had was they really didn’t understand a lot about what was available. Space Magic was really how they were treating everything right now. It was all they could do. Because in spite of how intelligent they were, they were still soldiers, fighters, criminals, and killers. None of them were researchers.

Jahmal took a moment and said, “We’ve still got a few ideas, but we’ll be playing around with them before even thinking of adding them into the standard armor kit. We are including fusion blades inside the gauntlets. That way if you need a knife it will be handy. There are also maglocks at the hip and on the back for larger weapons like side arms and rifles. Juan has finally given up on trying to make the standard pulse weapons work as he wanted. They just keep exploding on him. And even when he got it to actually fire like he wanted, the moment it hit something denser then air it popped like a bubble. Doesn’t matter how much force goes behind a soap bubble or how it’s shaped, it will still pop.”

Jackson thought for a moment and asked, “Then how the hell can we be using this sort of science to fly, or shield against anything?”

Jahmal looked at him for a moment and then said, “Strictly speaking, we can’t. At least not against anything we’ve developed on Earth really. We still don’t understand HOW it allows for shielding, or providing lift and thrust in space, or flight, or gravity. Right now it just… does. The scientists who got a hold of the tech from the Vancouver Incident probably were able to figure out a Hell of a lot more than we are.”

“Still it’s all just so fanciful. Let me ask you, how much of this stuff do you think we could have developed or figured out on our own if they hadn’t interfered with us like they did?” Jackson asked, the question something that had bothered him for a bit.

Jahmal thought for a moment and then said, “To be honest, I don’t know. The basic premise of how some of this seems to work LOOKS like it could operate with regards to KNOWN principles. An electrostatic field creates a bubble around a ship, that bubble glides along the surface of space. It was theorized by a Mexican Theorist Migul Alcubierre that you could create a bubble around an object, and with this bubble push and pull on Space-Time in such a way that you could effectually bypass Relativity. You can go faster than light without the actual vessel ever getting close to light speed. That looks to be HOW the FTL drive on the Bladed Claw functions.

“A lot of this is all guesswork on our part though. I’m accessing a lot of the galactic data network, which seems to have a fully accessible copy of our internet, make of that what you will. We’re referencing enough to put what we have into context, but aside from that… there is still so much that we don’t know,” Jahmal admitted.

They needed to fix that.

 

Eight Months After the Vancouver Incident

The burn of muscles, the dripping of sweat as she completed the well-remembered movement of the form. Claudia Dresden had always found the state of mind she achieved in the movements of the many forms she had mastered calming. She could take whatever was bothering her, from a case at a dead end to a relationship problem and let the stream of movements and muscle memory take over and by the time she was done everything would be clearer to her. She desperately needed that right now.

She had been gathering intel, interrogating the crew of the Bladed Claw and doing some digging through the galactic information network. There was something bothering her, something at the back of her mind that really told her something was wrong with the Galaxy. And it wasn’t just the fact that the rest of the Galaxy was more scared of Humans who had apparently from what she had found always seemed to prefer to be friendly with them then the Hunters who just destroyed and ate them.

That was one thing that bothered her. The other was something she had heard during a meeting from DuFrane about the Corti Neural implants. That frankly was eating at the back of her mind much more when she took into account certain things. The neural implants were able to communicate with each other, and using an artificial language called Complex, were able to ensure that anything a person said, or tried to communicate through body language and the like would be understood. Complex was developed to ensure translations between languages, both verbal, visual, tonal, and anything else was faithfully translated. Nothing could be misunderstood or misinterpreted thanks to these implants. That bothered her significantly though.

The amount of information needed just to be able to process that let alone transmit between implants was astounding in her mind. That the Corti had accomplished that was impressive, but it lead to a question in her mind. One that might just be paranoia. What else could be transmitted, and how far?

It was just another reason she swore she would only be using the Translator headsets or Reaper helmets and not getting an implant anytime soon. At least those she could remove. A neural implant was far too invasive for her liking. The sentiment was shared by everyone else that was human at least. Cranex assured them it was perfectly safe, and had already been cleared by the Directorate for Human use. That was going to be something else for them to take up with the Directorate at some point.

She hadn’t been a fan of Star Trek, but an old boyfriend of hers had, and she had watched all the series with him. To her the Borg were by far the scariest monsters that they had come up with. Because with machines in their heads they all became part of the machine. She just couldn’t help but think that these Corti Implants might be that particular Pandora’s Box that should never have been opened.

She just finished her last form when Drake walked in. Claudia was the soul female among the group, and had frankly just kept herself busy. Like everyone else she had focused the last several months on the tasks they had assigned themselves. The only reason anyone followed Drake for so long had been because no one else had anything close to the authority to make any decisions. His rank in the Military had just been a convenient excuse for the soldiers that had been snatched and grabbed to put the responsibility on him. Everyone else had just gone along with it, even though aside form her and maybe a few others the rest were civilians, criminals, and terrorists.

President Ronald Reagan had once given a speech where he pondered the effect a common foe from beyond the stars would have upon the world at large. She was seeing that principle in action here. Drake himself had risen to the challenge but like her kept a lot hidden. She was the ONLY female among a group of men. It had been an interesting time for her.

She was admittedly a very attractive woman, her skin a creamy pale color and smooth save for the callouses on her hands from the hours of training and the constant typing on a keyboard filling out paperwork. The hours of exercise and training had kept her in good shape, as she had to make sure that no matter what she could bring down a suspect without endangering her own life. She was not what one would call buxom, but her gender could NOT be mistaken from any angle as anything other than feminine.

Her brown hair fell in waves down her shoulders when free of the tight ponytail she had it in when she worked out. No one had really bothered with maintaining their hair length though due to fear of using fusion blades anywhere near their heads and necks. The men were all looking a bit shaggy now, Drake no exception. However, Claudia had had her gym bag on her when she had been grabbed, and had been able to use the fabricator to make some things she needed for her own hygiene. Included shaving her body hair.

The men hadn’t felt the need to do the same, but they kept as clean as possible using the facilities they had at hand. Nothing on a good hot shower and soap, but nowhere near what they’d have smelled like if it had been eight months without ANYTHING. The lack of deodorant had taken some getting used to by everyone.

Especially as everyone had shared every aspect of their combat training, and aside from Mark Ryan the kickboxer and MMA fighter she had the most extensive training in hand-to-hand combat. Everyone was expanding their skillset as much as they could. They were still working on how to properly use fusion swords and knives but were getting close to an acceptable method.

She had been in extremely close contact with everyone, Drake included. She had been on the outs with her last boyfriend, and while she had been given some privacy she like most everyone had her desires and needs to work through. She also however had a very different issue to everyone else. One that was hard to ignore.

There was no birth control out in space. It wasn’t needed, plain and simple. No other species in the Galaxy, not a single one, had sex for any reason other than procreation. Even the Corti had sex, even if they transferred the resulting embryo to a specialized tank in order to ensure it met with the Directorate’s strict eugenic controls. But none of them had sex as a form of recreation, or intimacy. It was only considered in the arena of childbirth. If she really wanted she could probably work something out with Cranex, but he was a Medical Doctor.

A Medical Doctor who had no experience or even comprehension of Abortion. It would be a mistake for him to even TRY to abort a pregnancy unless absolutely necessary. She’d just have to accept the consequences if she decided to indulge in that particular past time. Which considering their situation would be irresponsible on far too many levels. Still…

Drake had pulled up a punching bag and had started working hard on it. Claudia decided she needed to go and take advantage of that privacy she had been afforded, better than the alternative at the moment.

One Year After the Vancouver Incident Classified Star System: Code Named Forge Corti Military R&D World

The shipments of Allebenellin heavy troopers left Forge on schedule and delivered to the front lines for both the Celzi Alliance and the Dominion. Granth could only smirk as the Directorate, and by extension his superiors in the Hierarchy continued to ensure the prolonged engagement failed to come to a conclusion.

Granth starred out the window as another company of heavy troopers marched into a Celzi troop transport for some system on the line he couldn’t be bothered to remember. All was going according to plan, the conflict would end when the Hierarchy choose to end it, not only to gain the benefit of the influx of credits from weapons sales to both sides. It would end at the appropriate moment to increase Hierarchy, and by extension Corti supremacy over the galaxy. The Corti had already mastered their Evolution, they had mastered their technologies and had made themselves indispensable to the rest of the galaxy. The only way one species could possibly strike at them was if they were willing to go to war with the whole of space itself.

Only the Hunters were both willing, and potentially able to do so. At least they had been. The Humans had both the will and the reason. Cranex frowned as he considered that mess. He trusted that 07 and other members of the Hierarchy had a plan for the Deathworlders, but in his estimation everything that had occurred could be considered a declaration of war. If the Humans ever achieved FTL and managed to get themselves out of the containment shield, then they could potentially declare war against their Wardens.

And with all the returned abductees back on Earth, they could decide that there are no allies to be had out here. That would be a worst case scenario. Thankfully in Cranex estimation, the actions of the Mother-Supreme of Gao by accepting the Human Female Xiu Chang into the Clan of Females would stay Humanities war machine for long enough for possible diplomatic and economic talks. That did not mean that contingencies weren’t needed.

He had already considered a few that would ensure extermination of all Human life on Earth, but none seemed practical as the other species of life on that world were extremely profitable to other ventures of Directorate research and profit. He had already sent out a scouting team looking into potential other Death Worlds for both Military and biological research. A Colleague at the R&D system of Chrysalis might be interested as well. He always enjoyed Vrenzs company, and had sired many children with her that were the top of the genetic spectrum. Perhaps it was time to see if she were interested again.

Granth frowned though as he thought about those worlds. A large concentration of Category 12 Temperate worlds were located within a few light-years of Earth. One at what the Humans Designated Proxima-Centauri, another at Epsilon Eridani, and two in the Vega system.

He had dispatched a research team to reevaluate all of them, and potentially mark certain species of interest. Vega 3 had some promising biological flora specimens that could be potentially new medicines or recreational agents. Vega 4 was also looking to be a source of potentially new fauna for weaponization.

The team had several more months before departing Vega for the journey to Epsilon Eridani. He wondered what they would find there.

One Year Four Months Two Weeks After the Vancouver Incident

It was a bit of a special day for the Abductees. It had been on the suggestion of one of the civilians that if they were going to be out in the Galaxy and seen they should take on a name taunting their oppressors. IT had begun with Jahmal’s team calling their armor Reaper Armor and designing it to look like one of Earth’s Death Gods. It had evolved into a poll in the Mess hall they had put up first to take suggestions, then to vote for a winner. In the end they had decided to call themselves as a collective the Shinigami, Japanese Gods of Death.

And Today SSgt Clark Brooks unvailed his contribution. The Bladed Claw had been gutted and rebuilt into a design less blocky and far more sinister looking. The utilitarian and thin grey metal hull had been replaced with thick armor and black carbon fiber plating to make it invisible to most scanners. The ones they could test against anyways. It had a sleak winged appearance, and almost looked like a crow wit hwings spread flying through the night.

Brooks had re-christened the ship “The Valkyrie.” The Chooser of the Slain.

They partied hard that night. Juan had in his spare time found a plant that he had managed to turn into extremely high quality alcohol. It had been lovingly dubbed Space-Tequila. Jahmal’s group respectfully declined to partake.

Jackson was sitting back away from the crowd, enjoying his drink when Claudia walked up to him. Being the only woman on the planet had resulted in her having to deal with and accept the occasional cat call and sexual innuendo. If anything it had become a sign of affection, but no one disrespected her.

Jackson gave her an appreciative glance and lifted his glass in welcome, “Claudia.”

“Jack, how does it feel to be Captain of this Pirate ship?” Claudia asked, an amussed look on her face.

Jack shook his head and said, “I’m not sure if we are Pirate’s yet. But if we are we can just ask Juan to start working on creating Space-Rum.”

Claudia laughed softly, “It may come down to that. Earth is still lost to us, the Galaxy is terrified of us. It just doesn’t make sense that We scare them worse then the Hunters. We don’t eat sapient species alive after all. Yes, we are carnivores but not cannibals, if that word applies here.”

Jack looked at her, “You’ve been thinking about the implications on the Neural Implants again haven’t you?”

Claudia raised an elegant eyebrow at him, “And you haven’t?”

Jackson didn’t answer for a moment. After gathering his thoughts he said, “I think, with all the information we have now, and everything we’ve ended up warning ourselves about in popular media that maybe you are right. That there might be something to this neural network being potentially a danger in and of itself. Cranex says no, that the implants aren’t designed that way. But at the end of the day, he’s a medical doctor. It doesn’t mean he knows everything about these things that he doesn’t need to know.”

Jack took a moment and took in Claudia’s profile in the light of the bonfire. HE sharp chine and aristocratic nose all seemed to work with her high cheekbones and her eyes to convey the look of a hawk, watching from on high to see it’s prey running along the ground. He couldn’t help but find it attractive. That focus on something she had no proof for, only a gut instinct. That certainty attracted him to her on a level more then just physical.

“I want you to get with Brooks, now that he’s done with this see if the two of you and Jahmal can figure out a way to potentially monitor this neural network. Keep it between the three of you and me. I don’t want anyone else to know about it,” Jack said. He had decided to let her run with it long before now, he just wanted Brooks and Jahmal to be able to provide her with technical support.

Claudia looked to him and smiled, “I’ll let you know what we find out.”

She walked up to him, so close they could both smell each others individual scents. The lack of any perfume, aftershave, deodorants, seemed to make things less contrived and more primal. In that moment she finished her space-tequila and grabbed Jack by the back of his neck and forced him down into a kiss. It was a searing, passionate exchange between the two. It lasted for only a few moments, but it was long enough for them to both to breath heavy and feel a burning crush of desire.

The moment the kiss was broken Claudia looked up into Jackson’s green eyes, and backed up slowly, almost reluctantly. She said, “I should turn in for the night. I want to get a fresh start on this project early tomorrow.”

Jack nodded, his throat a bit tight as he said, “Yea, I should probably as well, don’t need to end up with a space-hangover.”

Claudia smirked, “We really need to stop putting space in front of everything we do out here.”

Jack smiled, “Probably, won’t stop us from doing it though.”

The pair retreated, but neither forgot that kiss, the moment, the urge. It was only their professionalism, and the knowledge of what could result if they let go that stopped them. Had this been Earth, then something completely different might have happened.

In a way this was better, it might not burn out so quickly had it been otherwise.

One Year Five Months After the Vancouver Incident

ULTIMATUM FROM HUNTERS: DEMAND ALL HUMANS BE TURNED OVER ELSE QUOTE SWARM OF SWARMS ENDQUOTE WILL RAID KNOWN HUMAN LOCATIONS. ALL SHIPS, STATIONS CARRYING HUMAN PASSENGERS ADVISED: JETTISON IMMEDIATELY. NOTIFICATION ENDS.

Everyone sat in the Mess Hall after one of the watch officers had heard the message over the Dominion Emergency Notification System. A simmering rage had ignited in everyone there. Drake didn’t shout, didn’t yell, didn’t even bat an eye. He simply stood there, and though he said it quietly it could be heard as if he had shouted it from the rafters.

“Ready the ship. It’s time for the Valkyrie to ride.”