Military Use of AI Sparks Controversy

This controversy has brought several deep philosophical questions to light, one of the most potent of which is the idea about programming. If an AI is programmed to do a job, do they really have a choice to do anything else?

While generally considered by many to be the most permissive and equal culture for artificial intelligence in the galaxy, the Serenity Concord has come under fire recently from the Icarus League, an AI rights advocacy group based out of Nimbus Station. The passage of the Artificial Life Form Rights and Enforcement Act in 2384 has been promoted by the group as a “good start” toward truly equal rights between AI and biological life. The organization has recently began protesting how the Concord and in particular Solas Tempus make use of AI. In particular the group accuses Solas Tempus of forcing AI’s into militarized roles and as subservient to biological leadership. Recently the Icarus League has found an unlikely ally in a gender equality organization (Equality Alliance) primarily based out of the United Federation of Planets which fights for intervention in other cultures which show a clear gender bias in either enacting or executing laws.

The Icarus League has lodged a formal protest for what they claim is “an unfair militarization of AI programs”. The practice began with the advent of Multinodal Core and the Mark I Android Body. With the ability for an AI program to transfer safely to and from an android body, Solas Tempus has begun placing the Multinodal Core technology in new vessels giving ships as “Master Systems AI”. This AI program is responsible for not only running ships systems but may be called upon to complete missions in their entirety should the crew become incapacitated or killed. Such an AI is usually also a member of the command crew of the ship, most often 1st or 2nd officer.

The formal protest also notes that very few of the AI programs are granted true command positions, relegated to secondary positions such as “Operations Officer” or “Executive Officer” making them still subservient to biological masters. The League claims this is not only unfair but a violation of the 2384 rights act passed by the Concord. They have demanded the Solas Tempus release some proof that they are not exploiting AI programs and put a stop to the practice at once.

The Equality Alliance has lodged its own, separate, formal protest against Solas Tempus itself stating that the group has unfairly targeted female AI programs for placing as executive roles on new starships. Since the AI programs are predominantly identified as feminine the Equality Alliance has accused Solas Tempus and the Concord of “setting gender rights back at least two hundred years with short-sighted decisions based on ancient biases”.

We were able to reach Sal D’Amico for his comments on accusations of forcing AI programs to join the military.

Due to the passage of the AI rights act of 2384, the Concord has seen a major increase in the number of AI entity that have petitioned to become citizens of the Concord. It should be noted that no AI entity has been turned away in their request. Such entities are afforded the same rights as any other group, though many were created in military settings of other races, governments, and even companies. These entities wish to put those skills to use and a great many have applied to join Solas Tempus. Again no AI entity has been turned away from doing this. The program of giving a specialized role to AI programs wishing to serve in our space force as a “Master Systems AI” is not forced, positions are offered and very often asked for by AI programs. No AI has been forced or coerced into a position as a Master Systems AI and no AI has been denied an android body which has requested one.

Fleet Admiral Sal D’Amico of Solas Tempus

Admiral D’Amico is correct, there has been a definite surge in applicants to the Concord and to Solas Tempus of AI programs of various types since the AI rights act as passed two years ago. Many of these entities were in hiding for fear of being forced into servitude again. Even with these facts, the Admiral’s statement has fallen on deaf ears for both the League and Alliance. While Solas Tempus refuses to comment on the accusations of gender bias within its ranks, the Concord representative for the Schatten System Murrika was available for comment.

We are grateful for the passionate press for equal rights for all life. Recently we have been accused of the unconscionable practice of forcing an AI program to be feminine and serve at the behest of biological masculine people. This is quite simply not true, we value the sanctity of all life of all kinds and of all genders. We do not, nor will we ever, force a particular gender identity onto a sentient entity of any kind. Such actions would be illegal under the law, should any person or group have proof of such accusations, I challenge them to bring such proof to my doorstep or to our courts!

Senator Murrika, Representative for the Schatten Star System

Our own survey of recent AI additions to the Concord and to Solas Tempus itself has seen that there is, in fact, an abundance of feminine AI entities from the XIA’s being created to AI programs which have moved to the Concord. We were able to speak to one of the very first prototypes of the XIA’s, Camila Xia.

You asked me if I was ever forced to do anything. I wasn’t, I have a job though. A lot of people have jobs and for most humans and other biological life they are left alone to figure that out on their own. I was programmed to do my job, I enjoy my job. I provide information to the person I’m assigned to. Sometimes that means I make notes on meetings, record events, do deep-dives into a particular research topic, or collect information. Most of the time what it means is that I study important topics and use my processing power to make connections that may or may not be difficult for many biological people to make in a short amount of time. I’m kind of an expert at whatever I need to be an expert on.

No one here has ever forced me to be a girl or join the military or anything else. I’m really upset that people think that just because I chose to be a girl means I was forced. Or just because I chose work for Solas Tempus, I was forced. It’s completely absurd and insulting.

Lt. Commander Camila Xia of Solas Tempus

This controversy has brought several deep philosophical questions to light, one of the most potent of which is the idea about programming. If an AI is programmed to do a job, do they really have a choice to do anything else? This is a much deeper question and gets into the nature of choice. Advocates for AI rights say that it may not be true choice. Admiral D’Amico had a final comment on this issue when we spoke.

Most adults remember a time when they had to decide to keep doing what their parents wanted them to do or stop and make their own way. Some choose to go into a family business or follow a religion because it was what they were raised on, it is what they know. Others choose to break away and follow their own path. There are an infinite array of choices in between those extremes. How is that different from programming? We don’t like the word. No one likes to think of themselves as programmed but we are. Programmed with cultural beliefs, behaviors, rules, and so much more. All of our learned behavior are programs.

Fleet Admiral Sal D’Amico of Solas Tempus

Certainly there are a lot of questions to ask. Questions that are as difficult to understand as they are to answer. As with any controversy based on such questions, it is clear that there isn’t going to be a resolution anytime soon. Solas Tempus is committed to its continued use of AI programs on its vessels throughout the controversy. In fact a recent policy shift within the organization has created a military review board to determine proper ranks befitting the skills and positions of AI programs which have not previously been afforded ranks within the organization. Sources within Solas Tempus indicate this has been on the table for the last two years while they worked out exactly how to proceed. Moving forward the organization has committed to providing ranks and options to those AI programs which have previously not been explicitly provided with such.

While initially this new policy was to be overseen by the (mostly) biological leadership, the Icarus League has taken broad credit for pushing Solas Tempus into having a review process that involves AI programs. While the policy will not be entirely enacted by AI, Solas Tempus has agreed that there will be equal AI and biological representation. Officials declined to name names of who would be overseeing this process or who would participate.

Several advanced programmers and experts in the field of AI have also noted during the controversy on gender that most AI development uses adaptive neural networking to “grow” a consciousness out of base directives. Cited most often is the QUINN Type AI, whose framework has become the centerpiece of modern AI development. While there is some disagreement on the details it is widely considered that the AI personality, gender, and even sexuality are developed in an organic way. The AI neural network responds best with a very small set of directives and adding a gender and its facets to ensure the production of a feminine (or masculine) gender would be difficult, though not impossible. From our own research the current state of the art in AI growth state an AI personality begins to develop first as the neural network becomes more complex, in theory the gender of an AI develops at that time before an AI network becomes self aware or even conscious for the first time.

The details of how an AI neural network grows into a fully sentient, living, being are unclear. Perhaps as research moves forward more answers to these philosophical questions will be forthcoming.

Death Moves Unchecked – Police Afraid to Investigate?

I’ve never seen anything like this, they say it’s gangs but it’s not. It’s been a bloodbath in the gang controlled areas, they are setting up roadblocks to keep people out we’re not even going in. I don’t know what they are going to do, but things are not under control, those people living there need to get out. They need to get out now.

Several areas around Chicago have been plunged into chaos. While the official response from police is that they are working several unrelated cases which have been misconstrued by the press to be related incidents and that things are under control. The police chief has chastised the press in recent public statements accusing organizations of purposefully misrepresenting facts. Even in the midst of these public statements reporting that surrounding areas are under control and there is no public danger, reports are that the Mayor is close to declaring a state of national emergency.

On condition of anonymity one officer, which we will call Mr. Smith, has described a much different situation developing.

I’ve worked for the Chicago Police Department for the last 7 or so years, maybe 8 now. I’ve never seen anything like this, they say it’s gangs but it’s not. It’s been a bloodbath in the gang controlled areas, they are setting up roadblocks to keep people out we’re not even going in. I don’t know what they are going to do, but things are not under control, those people living there need to get out. They need to get out now.

Mr. Smith

Several other members of the department also agreed to speak with us on condition that we protect their identities. Most are afraid of not only losing their jobs but being sent into places they won’t come back out of. Photos provided by a pair of detectives show strange symbols drawn in blood. One of the defectives also said looking at them “felt wrong” somehow but couldn’t explain it, both detectives said they were considering leaving the force stating “we aren’t trained to handle this, no one is”.

Alderman Duante Smithers spoke to us about the issues plaguing many residents on the outskirts of Chicago.

We all know the police have a tendency to disappear when Blacks are getting hurt, but this is ridiculous and they should be ashamed of themselves. I don’t even know how many are dead but my own people say there could be as many as a hundred people dead and no one is being allowed to speak of it. Several massacres have gone untouched by the cops. No one is even trying to help these people and they need help. It’s disgusting, goes to show how little anyone cares when you’ve got the wrong color skin.

Alderman Duante Smithers

The Alderman is not alone, reports from quite a few people speak of crime scenes that haven’t even been taped up even though weeks have passed. One thing is abundantly clear, whatever is happening, the police are just as in the dark about it as everyone else.

The Council

We contacted the Vampire Council for the city who are equally appalled at the recent action among human officers. While the council swears they are looking into the matter they have been rather tight lipped, as have other supernatural organizations which usually work with police and the public to solve delicate situations for which the police and general public are unaware.

While it is not unusual for the council to be tight lipped when they feel it suits their interests it is unusual for the other groups to be equally so. There are some unconfirmed reports that the council is investigating what could be happening, with a particular bend toward a possible link to demons or one of the lower planes. Several who have been paid to study the symbols state that they stick in the mind in an otherworldly way and make a person uneasy to gaze at with a lasting effect.

Several individuals of particular gifts such as psionics and students of the mystic arts have also left the area without a word. Some have left profitable jobs and spent considerable resources to prematurely end contracts though none could be reached for comment.

OOC Notes

This storyline is not just mine to do. I would like all players to try to integrate this new information into their role plays. This is something everyone in the city would have heard something about. Those within supernatural circles would have heard more. Notes on this storyline can be found on the forum under this tag or this tag here on the wordpress. This is also linked to the current plot at the Starlight Motel on Discord as well as other posts there. Please contact me with any questions but also feel free to improvise if you don’t know you can guess and we’ll make it work.

Fleet Admiral Thomas Returns

As of this moment the hospital will only state that Admiral Thomas is being cared for and is stable but still listed as critical but expected to pull through. No other information is available on his condition or the circumstances which lead him to be classified as deceased.

On December 21st, 2385 Fleet Admiral Lance Thomas was admitted to the military hospital at Nimbus Station under the care of his personal physician Doctor Nevyn. Details are scant at best with military officials having declined to make any comments thus far on the apparent rescue and recovery of the Admiral, thought dead over a year ago. The operational details are scarce, but we do know that the rather new STMC recently dispatched a unit along with several other vessels on a classified mission. Further we also know that acting Fleet Admiral D’Amico left suddenly at around the same time.

As of this moment the hospital will only state that Admiral Thomas is being cared for and is stable but still listed as critical but expected to pull through. No other information is available on his condition or the circumstances which lead him to be classified as deceased. Many are confused by this sudden change in status and how the Concord could get things so wrong. Some may recall that when he was declared death his wife, Drem Confoscho, took leave from her command of the Drakon following some troubling murders on the vessel. Since then the woman has been rarely seen though her command was restored.

Was there a Coalition?

According to unofficial sources a distress call was received by numerous receivers just prior to resources throughout the sector being activated. A number of reports have also come in that a civilian component was present, several cargo, transport, and merchant vessels somehow also responded to this distress call including the famed recluse Marcus Trent head of Excalibur Inc. The coalition force reported included Federation, Klingon, Romulan, Avali, Concord, and Civilian elements but details are sketchy as to exactly why such a large force was deployed or how they all came together in the first place. A coalition of this nature has not been seen since the Dominion War over 10 years ago. One interesting note to make is that the infamous Tal Ravis also is rumored to be part of the assault team, though requests for comment from Mr. Ravis himself or his commanding officer have gone unanswered. Mr. Ravis is known to have been involved in rescue efforts previously and to have been a prominent figure in several battles within the Schatten System itself, once brought up on charges for his misuse of a powerful experimental weapon during one such battle. Even though he was under investigation and facing imminent charges at the time, Mr. Ravis participating in the daring rescue of Admiral Thomas and was cleared of all charges. It appears that Admiral Thomas owes Tal Ravis again, as one anonymous sources states that he lead the team who actually performed the rescue.

Finally we are reasonably certain that a group of four arrivals from an alternate timeline joined Ravis in the team to rescue Admiral Thomas. Tina Lockwood, Jedidah Shafir, Qing Shan, and Eugen Strauss were sighted by multiple sources disembarking with Ravis and his usual team. These four have the distinction of being the only known splices to have occurred outside the Schatten System, they appeared at Starbase Tranquility in the Markab System. Little is publicly known about the quartet other than they are exceptionally skilled operators.

Possible New Weapon?

Other reports have come in that Solas Tempus used an as-yet completely classified vessel which has yet to be publicly known. The vessel itself was said to be the largest vessel ever constructed. A triangular shape the ship was said to have provided cover during the battle and her arrival turning the tides. Additional reports also say that Solas Tempus captured an enemy space station of some kind, supposedly spherical in shape with incredible weaponry. Neither of these reports have been confirmed at this time and requests for comments of Solas Tempus also gone unanswered.

Discourse Single Sign On

All users of the forum can now use their Discourse login credentials to sign into the WordPress. This will automatically link your Discourse information and profile from the forum to the WordPress database. I’m working on possibilities for using Discourse as a Single Sign On solution for the Wiki as well but that is a long way from finished.

Those people who already have accounts on both, the system will use email address to link the two, if anyone has any issues let me know and I’ll do my best to fix them. This is going to make it a lot easier for people to post their own updates for their own stories.

Fighting for your Author in a Coma

A writer slips into a coma, all of the characters in their head are fighting to keep them alive.

The prompt here is simple. The concept of an entire world taking place all inside the mind has been done in movies before. In particular the movie Identity from 2003 which explores one possible scenario. Another movie with this idea is Sucker Punch from 2011 showing an entirely different concept of the world inside the mind.

A writer slips into a coma, all of the characters in their head are fighting to keep them alive.

How would this work? What would this look like? Would the characters be aware? Where does your creative thought go with this?

Infinite Codex – Notes & Tags

For a long time now I’ve been using OneNote for my notes, before that I used Evernote. I’ve used a lot of other software as well, the problem comes when you want people to collaborate on those notes.

Discourse has a feature they call a “Wiki”, by that it means a post which can be edited by anyone the way a Wiki is. This isn’t nearly as powerful as our wiki, but is still pretty useful. I have called this kind of universal notebook the Infinite Codex. As I explain in the description of the area, it is a place on the forum to put notes about plots and other ideas which can be edited by everyone, commented on, and doesn’t have to be correct nor is it instantly part of our canon. This is designed to be informal, similar to a post where people comment and reply but where the author or anyone else can go in, make changes, additions, and the like.

I’ve started by posting to it almost all of the half-finished storylines I have notes on in hopes that this will give people an idea of how it can be used. All of the information is up there, it can be easily edited, and it can be easily linked to elsewhere on the forum or anywhere else. My hope is that when people want to get some ideas out, they feel comfortable just making a post in the codex and editing it as they need.

Tags

I have also enabled the tagging feature of the forum. It’s had this feature for a long time, but until today it was disabled. Posts within RP areas need to be tagged with the tag for that setting. This allows using the tags to pull together information from across form areas. Major plots will also have their own tags for the same reason. People who’ve been here long enough to be in the “Regulars” group or otherwise have sufficient access can create their own tags, otherwise use the ones that are already there.

I’ve gone through and tagged most everything where it should be. Hopefully this will allow better organization and finding information (say from Phoenix Nebula or the Codex) and tying it to a particular post or series of posts.

Rebuilding the Community

For those who want the short version, I’m looking to have people increase participation by using the posts on this site as a starting point to have characters / NPCs who may not otherwise interact to do so. Short or long doesn’t matter, but use these as a source or a topic to talk / interact on in RP sessions. Next, help others, try to gently pull people in via inviting people into scenes. Finally, help get ideas rolling be constructive, be a sounding board providing feedback on pros and cons and help refine and build ideas for play. Don’t be afraid to be wrong or look silly, just create.

Usage has been on the decline for a bit now. Even before the server split participation has been on the decline. A few have been pushing forward anyway and being active. I want to support those players who have been active. First off, a shout-out to Winter who has been working on some amazing stuff in Embers of Soteria. Her contributions have been aided by many but her writing, effort, and creativity have been exceptional in adding a flavor to the story and components that fit into the greater narrative of the setting nicely.

I still fully believe that the server split was a good idea; though I do question it at times. Regardless the genie is out of the bottle with that one so either way that is how things are set up. I do recognize that it might not have been my best idea.

TL;DR

For those who want the short version, I’m looking to have people increase participation by using the posts on this site as a starting point to have characters / NPCs who may not otherwise interact to do so. Short or long doesn’t matter, but use these as a source or a topic to talk / interact on in RP sessions. Next, help others, try to gently pull people in via inviting people into scenes. Finally, help get ideas rolling be constructive, be a sounding board providing feedback on pros and cons and help refine and build ideas for play. Don’t be afraid to be wrong or look silly, just create.

Why is there a lack of participation?

We did a survey last year about participation. I have discussed the results at some point with the staff and I don’t think the situation has really changed that much. One of the biggest issues is that people don’t have a lot of time to sink into role playing and if they do, they may not want to role play here. It’s unreasonable to assume everyone with time is going to really become a devoted role player / writer here so I largely classify this as an unfixable problem. We cannot make people have more time and we cannot dictate how people should spend it. I myself have very few bits of time to string together and real life often gets in the way.

The other issue the survey brought up was about the games and playing; there is a feeling that the lore is at times impenetrable and there is a general enthusiasm with plots but a general inhibition or hesitation toward posting. People who are here who have a lot of good ideas, want to role play, are even talented at role play, but have no idea what to add to a game. This timidness toward being wrong or somehow screwing up a game is a huge factor, the second of all factors for people not participating (the biggest being time).

What do we do?

What I’d like to do is to use this site as more than just a collective history or creative narrative to add spice and color to the setting. I would like to use this to provide background that then people can use to base role playing on. So we have some recent posts about the Solas Tempus Marines and what their training is like. As an example, we have a lot of military characters and they could talk about or comment about the marines and their training in Finnegans (good or bad). People could NPC a group of marines for character to interact with or even make a marine character to play. This provides a place to go for shorter (or longer) role plays with characters that may not otherwise have a reason to interact. A drunk marine in Finnegans being an asshole and provides a reason for two military (or non-military) characters to react, talk, be brought together over a drink.

Similarly we had a recent post about troubles brewing around Chicago. This is intended as not just the introduction to a story arc (which it is) but also players in the Saevae could be talking about that and that could bring in other characters who normally wouldn’t interact. There’s a lot of fear that would be going on, fear is a powerful motivator. There would be everything from scam artists to heros showing up and with so much social pressure people are bound to get into conflicts. This is a jumping off point for side-RPs.

One of the biggest things I want people to take from this is to really try the dumb idea out, don’t be afraid to be wrong, don’t be afraid to look stupid. Make stuff up, you won’t be wrong. Often the crap that gets made up becomes part of the story arc and there suddenly you’ve participated in the whole arc!

Pulling vs. Pushing

I also want to ask everyone (especially staff) to begin pulling. I say pulling because I don’t think it is a good idea to go and pester people to role play. A lot of people have @here and @everyone suppressed and the server muted. So ping or DM someone whose on the server that we haven’t seen for a while and invite them to do a role play. Look at what characters they have, don’t push… Don’t ping them 3-4 times in a row and then keep at them but offer… “Hey, haven’t seen you around the server for a while, we’ve got some stuff going on, maybe want to do a scene?”

From what the survey from last year said a lot of people don’t know what to contribute, so I ask everyone to try to help fix that. Be vocal with ideas, advocate for the people that you know are good writers and help them with ideas. It’s often so much easier to see ideas for other people than it is to see ideas for yourself! A lot of this is about collaboration no one has all the ideas on their own.

Trouble on the Horizon?

For many people in the cities around Chicago gangs and gang violence are just part of everyday life. For those in Ford Heights and similar areas, the violence has been steadily escalating for days and no one quite knows why. The dominant gangs appears to be splitting along previously unknown fault lines. Loyal members vanish for a few days and then come back only to shoot up their former allies with no demands or talk involved.

The most recent shooting has even gang members shocked and willing to talk to each other. Previously, it hasn’t been easy to get the leaders of the different territories to get together, but something has changed.

Bobby just came at us. We hadn’t seen him in a few days and figured he’d just been layin’ low, pissed someone off. Saw him next and he got the drop on us, just started shooting. It was bloody, I don’t know what could make anyone do that, out of nowhere, we grew up together and he just shot me in the chest four times. I’ll never forget it though, I see him again he’ll be the one bloody.

Eye Witness to Shooting in Ford Heights

Even with the chronically low levels of educational success, the local community leaders have been able to broker meetings between gang leaders in the area. So far, no one is accepting responsibility, in fact local leaders have taken them at face value.

When one of them is fronting, you can tell. You can just tell, more often than not they’ll tell you themselves that they did it without saying it. A lot of these people lead out of fear, fear of reprisal. No one wants a war, but most of these boys agree that one is coming, the only problem is they don’t know from where.

Local Community Leader

So far the police have been silent, but that is nothing new for these neighborhoods. Word has it, that this isn’t isolated to the Heights either. Word has come in from other neighborhoods that similar things are starting to happen elsewhere. Investigations reveal numerous 911 calls from surrounding suburbs and even getting into the edges of Chicago proper. Calls are often answered late and when the police get there, there isn’t much to do other than call the coroner and file a report.

Kids are dying. Kids. I don’t care what they think, these aren’t perfect kids but who is? And what do the cops do? Nothing. They don’t care, to them it’ll be all the same if we all drop dead tomorrow. Maybe then someone will build a nice mall and golf course, then the cops would care. No, we’re on our own.

Local Pawn Shop Owner

Community outrage has yet to reach officials in Chicago, or if it has they have been entirely silent. Repeated calls to the mayor’s office or the police chief have been met with no comment. The silence is deafening. If this continues, they won’t be able to stay silent forever.

Orbital Deployment Exercise

What you’re about to see is really something special. Each trainee must complete some of the most extreme combat and insertion maneuvers we can put them through, so when they are out in the field they can go through whatever is needed and complete their objectives. I don’t personally know of any training programs which do this as a standard training program either.

Recently Vice Admiral Emily Artis allowed reporters from the Soteria News Service to tag along with the latest group of trainees which are nearing graduation from the Solas Tempus Academy and become members of the young but illustrious new group, the Solas Tempus Marine Corps. Our reporter met with their commanding officer to tell him about what this was all about.

What you’re about to see is really something special. Each trainee must complete some of the most extreme combat and insertion maneuvers we can put them through, so when they are out in the field they can go through whatever is needed and complete their objectives. I don’t personally know of any training programs which do this as a standard training program either. The trainees are taken up to around 250 km, with an orbital velocity of right around 180,000 kps. Our drop point is randomly chosen at liftoff to prevent anyone from knowing what they’re going to jump into. Once we’re in the window for the drop point, the trainees are deployed. They must safely deploy from the vehicle and arrive within the target landing zone within a set time from. So what you’re about to see is their final exam of sorts, these people have been training for a long time to do this, all building to execute this drop.

Captain Reginald Armando

Captain Armando is quite proud of his people, he talked further about how the trainees are trained in order to accomplish this. The Orbital Deployment Exercise is just one small part of the overall examination process.

The team loaded up at Serenity Station in a Type 6 Shuttle, giving each other a hard time about who might fail and making jokes about who might throw up in their armor. The armor is of particular interest, as Solas Tempus bagan developing advanced exoskeletons before the incorporation of the Serenity Concord, what the marines are wearing is termed as Class 1Z Advanced Cybernetic Exoskeleton, developed specifically for use by the marines. We spoke to one of the trainees about the armor and what it allowed them to do.

Oh, the 1Z? Yeah, it’s pretty amazing technology, it’s like it lets you do what your mind sets out to do. It’s some powerful stuff, we’re all pretty good soldiers, well trained, and there’s always limits. The body can only handle so much, with the 1Z though it’s like a perfect kind of partner. The 1Z helps you do what’s got to be done.

Trainee Brett Evans

Mr. Evans, soon to be Ensign Evans, went on to talk about how the armor was an extension of who he was, just a hunk of alloys and technology until someone like him straps in. Many of his fellow trainees felt the same way, like they were pretty good but the armor let their body do what needs to be done, beyond what others can do. Of course, the Captain had a slightly different take on things.

The 1Z? Yeah it’s impressive hardware, and these kids really like it. There’s a lot to like about it. They aren’t wrong when they talk about the fact that it becomes an extension of the wearer though, we picked these people for a reason though. Each one of them makes the 1Z look like a toaster in comparison to the possibilities. These kids have the best training without even touching that armor before they even qualify to look at it.

Captain Reginald Armando

Captain Armando went on to talk about the training that each person goes through, in fact one of the qualifying tests is about armorless-operations where for their finals the trainees will go head to head with seasoned veterans who know all the tricks and tools of the trade. The program is really impressive.

The Jump

Once the shuttle lifted off, the trainees were made aware of their drop coordinates and the joking stopped. That’s when the Captain issued orders for the trainees to prepare to drop and each one secured and checked the armor, plugging the drop coordinates into the armor’s on board computer and securing their helmets. The rear hatch opened and the trainees gave the thumbs up, when the shuttle was over the right orbital window, they got the green light and jumped out, two at a time, right out of the protective force field and over Soteria in hard vacuum.

The Captain as well as the Vice Admiral and myself watched from the shuttle cockpit as the trainees descended and hit the atmosphere, according to the Vice Admiral that was the moment where a lot of the pass and fail grades would be decided, being able to go from hard vacuum to atmospheric reentry in a suit of armor is not an easy thing. All the trainees made it to the ground in the end, though their grades are still being decided. On the ground, the group was in good spirits, some expressed wanting to hop back up to orbit and do it again. They would get their chance, this wasn’t the only orbital drop they’d have to do in order to become marines. All of them were eager to get onto the next phase of the process.

Writing of a Saga

I know that most of us have spent a long time crafting responses, stories, and characters over the last few years. What is on the Wiki remains persistent and can be easily exported in the event that I can no longer pay the bill. Still there is character biographical data, setting information, but not really stories of any kind, just background and source material. In that vein, I would really like to begin actual work on writing a kind of comprehensive main plot of the settings. There is just so much to write and I cannot possibly do it on my own.

As a site we’ve been going around for almost three years now, since 2016. We’ve got a lot of stories written and a lot of those stories have yet to be canonized, some of the information has even been lost when channels have been deleted on Discord and such things. I would like to really start to cobble together the saga that we’ve built, so that it doesn’t get lost forever someday. Back in the old days we had persistent chat logs on IRC that could be saved (I have a lot of them myself, still) and forum data could be easily backed up (as our forum is). In the age of Discord and many related servers (such as Slack, Zulip, or Mattermost) there is the problem of how to get the data out of Discord. The short answer is that, you can’t. I suppose one could code a bot to dump all of the Discord information to a text file, but as I can attest to with chat logs and like they are nearly impossible to parse.

I know that most of us have spent a long time crafting responses, stories, and characters over the last few years. What is on the Wiki remains persistent and can be easily exported in the event that I can no longer pay the bill. Still there is character biographical data, setting information, but not really stories of any kind, just background and source material. In that vein, I would really like to begin actual work on writing a kind of comprehensive main plot of the settings. There is just so much to write and I cannot possibly do it on my own.

In that vein, I’m asking for help in getting this ball rolling. I’m getting some of my creative mojo back after a long span of having no real creative fire left, so I don’t mind firing it up. I’m still up in the air for what would be easiest, given the prevalence of using Google Docs, I am inclined to believe that would be easiest for everyone and thus, I envision this as a folder on Google Drive that is shared and people can collaborate, write, and start things for their characters as they want to. I will have a main file for the Saga of Blazing Umbra which will contain the main story itself and other stories be satellites to that (that also stand alone). The idea is that we’ve got the actual stories of all of our characters and plots written in a narrative form, perhaps even cut-paste largely off of Discord itself.

To that end, I’ve made a shared folder on Google Drive. The link provides view-only access, since these are our stories I would like to actually add people’s editing access as needed, to protect the work from vandalism. I have also enabled version histories, so if there are changes that a person doesn’t like to their story, they can be viewed and the original is recoverable. Please comment or DM me for direct access.