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Chapter 2: Escape


New Frontiers GM
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The meeting with the World's Authorities drew near.  Each of the group had been given a list of them, some were surprising, others not so much.  they'd been allowed to communicate with their friends and families, and the fellow students who'd been gathered.   This of course helped them make some peace with it. Surprisingly more Reclaimers were indeed found, though they were not separated from their families.  True to Omoikane's word, they were all younger than them, most were under fifteen actually.  When Omoikane was asked why they weren't separated, the AI simply answered. "They are Reclaimers, yes. But they are all only children.  When they come of age, then they will come into their birthright, as you have."
 

When they all arrived at the meeting together, they found A large circular room, in the center was a table with a glossy black surface, but it wasn't stone.   The walls were a blue tinted metal, and the chairs were comfortable, and arranged around the table. Six of them were occupied by Various adult representatives.
 

From the Civilian Government, Lt. Governor Shima, The governor's right hand woman, a tough high class Lawyer.   She excelled in civil rights cases, and while Governor Masuda spoke with fire and passion, Lt.  Misato Shima was pure ice, maintaining an air of aloof dignity.

 

From The Military, Admiral Stanford Witcomb,  he was the second highest ranked soldier in system, his shock of close cropped white hair and clear blue eyes made him look younger than his 82 years.   He wasn't smiling, but as the Reclaimers came in and took their seats, he was watching, and noting how they comported themselves.
 

From Fujiwara Heavy Industries, there were actually two people present, Local Manager Kenji Morisato, the man who for all intents, had control of all FHI facilities in system, was middle aged man, nearing his fifties, but still had the look of a man who loved his work.
The second person from FHI and also serving as a Scientific authority was Emilia Lang.  She was the overall head of Exotic Research, a little known department within the conglomerate.   She was the youngest of the adults at close to thirty. She was a genius with doctorates in three fields.

Chancellor Myra Tompkins was the head director of the civilian course of Corbulo Academy, representing the Academy and all the students there. She was among the more vehement in resisting the evacuations, as she was responsible for all the students.  The fact that all of the "Reclaimers" as they'd been called were students at her Academy wasn't lost on her and she eyed them with  concern.
 

The last stood as representative of the Independent concerns on planet, One Yiva recognized as Dane Erickson, the Second of Thorfare Corp.   From among the many smaller Corps, they'd been elected to send a representative due to being trusted for their fair and honest dealings, though they definitely kept more to themselves.  
 

Once everyone was seated,  Omoikane began to speak.  "I am this Facility's caretaker.   My name in the language of my creators is mostly unpronounceable in your tongue, so I have chosen something close to its meaning.  Please, address any questions or concerns to me, Omoikane."   
 

"Now, As you have all been shown the footage of the Invid, both the arrival of the scout, as well as archival footage.   I know you are not inclined to trust my words, but I do hope my actions speak for me. The Reclaimers have asked that I be as open with you as I am with them, and I will do so if it will get your cooperation.  I will state the facts as they are."
 

The table came to life, a column of light, coalescing into a hologram of the world, pinpointing every human settlement, and changing through views of them through the cameras of the drones and ships on site.   "You recognize that the ships are unarmed, and that your weapons are useless against their armor.  The attacks have stopped, this is good.  What isn't good is that you haven't really allowed anyone to board the ships, allowing me to bring them to the safe zones."
 

"Safe zones for what?"asked Admiral Whitcomb.

 

"As you know Admiral, going through hyperspace as your ships do can induce jumpsickness, even in healthy and hardy young humans.  We will be executing at least a dozen randomized hyperspace folds, the true method of space travel which yours are based on, in rapid sucession.   It is my duty, charged by my creators and the Reclaimers, to ensure your safety, thus I have prepared places that are shielded against Fold radiation.  Due to limited time, and power needs, I have only been able to make four ready, but with even distrubution they will comfortably hold the world's population when We Fold to escape the Incoming Armada."
 

Chancellor Tompkins spoke next.  "Wait.   How does a zone on the planet protect the citizenry if you're talking of Folding away?   That doesn't really make sense.  Would you be folding away to decoy them from the planet?"
 

Before Omoikane could answer, Dr. Lang did.  "Not if the world itself is a ship, and is what will be folding.   World-encompassing energy shields are impossible with our technology, and even what we do have the capability to produce take enormous power."  
 

Omoikane's terminal bowed slightly, and spoke. "That is Correct Dr. Lang.   This facility, this world, is an arkship made by my creators.   This was to be a redoubt leading up to the deployment of our final resort against the invid.   At the time, I had power reserves to fully protect the planet and to relocate should need arise.  Sadly, I cannot do that at this time.   We have abit over eighty hours to evacuate everyone into the safety zones, and then we must leave or we will be overrun.  I do not have the time or power reserves to ready the defensive fleet."
 

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Tired as she had been last night, Annette couldn't claim more than 3-4 hours of real sleep before the sheer strangeness behind her luxurious quarters had driven her awake. Sitting there, in the dark, listening the white noise of the alien machinery vibrating almost-imperceptivity around her. At her heart of hearts, she couldn't trust this whole ancient aliens scenario. It had the feel of trap, an itch she couldn't scratch, their AI host too eager to serve it's Reclaimers. What kind of people would do THAT to a being? Screamed unspoken volumes about their society, the kind of stratification that saw Earth as the natural heart of the universe over all the other human worlds. If they missed one sign, one clue, of human habitation in the system, these Invid seemed like the type to follow up a missed swing with another, especially if they had a grudge after their last round. How could it be sure? Her father knowing nothing about any of this?

 

Left her sitting there in the dark in the middle of a too big bed, thoughts tumbling too quick to settle even if she had a quick bag. 

 

Sixteen hours later, sitting there at a table with the six most powerful people in the colony in a replica of her Corbulo Academy military uniform, she heard the answer, inhaling as it both clicked and freaked her out behind a plastic smile. The planet was a world ship? With its own fleet? That was, Verse take her bad memory, a Class Three or Four civilization thing, at least. And the least of her, their, problems. 

 

"Forgive my interruption, Ladies, Gentlemen," she offered with a respect for authority it had cost her a lot to fake, "It's a lot to consider and not a lot of time to consider it, ancient worldships underneath our feet this whole time, aside. *BUT* if there is even a chance Omoikane is right, we need to clean up our, humanity's presence in the system as thoroughly as possible before he takes the planet out from under our feet with whoever gets into a shelter by the deadline. I'm just a student at the Academy and don't know whatever secrets you've kept from the population and each other..."

 

The red-eyed Mirandan couldn't quite stop herself from pausing to look at Emilia Lang, face of the local conglomerate conspiracy in her mind, before continuing, "...But, I know my history enough that the low-tech culture in a first contact scenario is the one that loses nine times out of ten. We need to cover our tracks until, if Omoikane is telling the truth and helps up, we *aren't* low-tech culture anymore, at least enough to hold our own."   

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Yiva had been silent still trying to come to terms with the circumstances that put her in this meeting. She listened to Annette and agreed with her for the most part.

 

All except on the running away.

 

"We cannot just leave," She held up her hand to stave off the chorus of dissent, " They know we are here. When their fleet arrives and we are gone they will double or triple their effort to locate us because we will have just became what they fear the most. And we do not know if they can track a world through fold space. They have had all of this time to advance their technology."  She looks around at the delegates, "Someone has to be here when they arrive. A defensive fleet that will fight. It is what they will expect."

 

She turns to face Omoikane, "Do you have the capability to put a decoy planet in this planets place? One that we can blow up?" 

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Everyone had been listening, and Omoikane answered.  "There is simply not enough time for that, nor do I have the spare power to do so."   "What I can probably arrange is one of the dreadnaughts rigged to blow.  If we leave it in the orbital framework, it comes to look like the salvage of a derelict.  Because its reactor will be active, it will draw their attention.   Certainly not slake it but give them something at least."

Kazuya shrugged.  "Would there be any point in trying to have it fold out to another location, leading them away?"

Omoikane's eye like crystal seemed to narrow, and she answered  "If they find the ship here, they will take the time to search the entire system for any others.   They'll also be finding the orbital facilities.  They will give away that you're not their age old enemy, and I do not have the time to fabricate something that will tell them otherwise.  Still, they will waste time and resources searching all nearby systems for you.   That is good, because they will find nothing, and then they will have to start again.   I already have three ships I'm preparing to send to other systems, back towards my creator's worlds, ones you've never even discovered, so that it will obfuscate where exactly we did go, should they have redeveloped the means to track such things."

Admiral Whitcomb looked troubled.  "A Dreadnaught class ship? Just how large is that? The three we've found..."  He said to the surprise of all but Dr. Lang.  

"The three ships Fujiwara heavy industries and the military have found are two pursuit corvettes,  at roughly a hundred and fifty meters in length, and a single Attack Corvette, at two hundred and fifty meters in length.    They are nothing compared to the fifteen kilometer length of a dreadnaught.  I have ten such  ships in storage, though I will only be able to partially ready one before our departure."

"I knew it!"  Dr Lang exclaimed, and all eyes turned to her.   "I knew the ships we had were impressive, but something seemed off.   They blow anything we've got out of the water, and our MAC cannons, railguns, and autocannons are all pale imitations of the weapons we found, but you're confirming their are ships even more powerful stored here."

She looked to the others, and smiled.  "We must prepare to leave.   This entire world has value.  The people the fauna, and flora..all the technology we're only being shown a glimpse of.."

Mira raised a hand.  "What will happen to all non human life on the planet when we fold?"

Omoikane spoke quietly.  "It will perish.   More than  likely all structures on the surface will be scoured from it, along with all water, and all terrestrial life."

Kenji Morisato spoke up.  "Is there no way to avoid this?  Even if we jump to earth, there is no way they could take in so many people, and certainly we cannot remain in our home system.  People here have spent generations making this world our home, must we surrender that as well?"

Omoikane was silent for several long moments.   "There is one, and only one way.   I have planned 12 random jumps, to maximize the confusion and obfuscation of our absence, and just where we went.   If we cut the number of jumps to four, we should have the power to shield the entire world for the time it takes to complete those jumps.  However,  such few jumps will greatly increase the chance of discovery."

Chancellor Tompkins seemed perturbed by this.  "Then why all the fuss of the Evacuation, why not simply use the least amount of jumps and conserve power for the shield?"

Omoikane turned to her.  'Because doing so directly increases the chances that I will fail to safeguard and protect the Reclaimers of this world.   That singular duty is one I cannot fail.  Your cities can be rebuilt.   But if your lives are extinguished, not even our science can rebuild that.  Even if we go with the lesser number of jumps, I must insist on the evacuation to the safe zones.  Since those will be protected both by the shields and the armor of this facility."

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There was a LOT to take in, but Anna's engineering-brain seized not on the background story, but the immediate problem. Energy.

 

"Okay...okay, that all sounds like it must need an absolutely monstrous amount of power," she said, "but maybe we're going about this the wrong way. What would it take to get enough power for more jumps? You have a bunch of ships, can we siphon power from those? What about the sun? Can eat ANY of this cake we have? I mean, the colony HAS reactors and energy storage. Would it be enough to make a difference?"

 

On the face of it, the question seemed absurd...but who really knew, right? An advanced civilization might have incredibly enhanced energy efficiencies. It might not actually take as much energy for them to do these wondrous things as it sounded like to her primitive mind.

 

And...if she was honest, the idea of being trapped under the surface of an entire PLANET full of this technology didn't sound so bad! She'd grown up in spaceships and asteroid bases! Imagine that, but stuffed with SPACE MAGIC!

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Ray shrugged his shoulders, "If inter-system navigation is as hard as intra-system navigation or even land nav, it gets exponentially more difficult to follow after every additional jump. That's just according to the math. As far as the shorter versus longer series of jumps, I'd say go for the longer series. It'll also enable us to prepare over more time for the inevitable conflict that's coming. I think we need to focus on the survival of the sentient life on this planet and also on the rest of the Human sphere of influence." 

 

He began pacing back and forth. "We also need to figure out how to advance our understanding of the technology presented by Omoi." He turned to the drone, "Can we get our engineers and scientists to study the technology you are enabling us to use? After all, if they can translate the tech or create bridges, that'd be awesome."

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Omoikane seemed to pause, considering Anna's question.   "The larger ships are necessary for us to complete the evacuation.   The smallest class have negligible power usage, so reclaiming it from them will not matter much.   If it were something your people are amenable to, I could use the various fusion reactors on planet to build up more power, but it won't amount to all that much.   If I pull too much, too fast, the materials your reactors are constructed of will Not last, and then we will have a different, and more destructive problem.  As to your question about solar power, I can use solar power, but not with the facility configured as it currently is.  Changing configuration will definitely destroy upwards of seventy percent of the human settlements currently established.  That goes against my prime directive of protecting you, so I have not done so."

She then turned to address Ray.  "The Invid and my creators both have the means to track Folds through Hyperspace.   This facility does, and can easily track up to six jumps without allocating more resources.  Now, there is a good chance that the Invid no longer have the capability, certainly they do not have it to the level they once had, our final weapon saw to that, however, it didn't actually work in full, else there'd be No Invid."

"Currently, we do have something of an advantage, as we have Reclaimers of the highest class, which has enabled me to render my full support to you, and will do so for any other Caretakers and facilities we encounter from here on out.   With some time, humanity will come to fully understand the birthright left to them, I'm certain your homeworld will have yet more Reclaimers, and the more of you that there are, the better."

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