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DocBubonic
Mar 11, 2003

Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis

Marek

"I see. An after action report on my neurochemistry raised a red flag. And that coupled with my personality prompted concerns. I can understand the concern. What you said is a bit disconcerting. Especially if the only data you have available, is the after action report on my neurochemsitry and anecdotal accounts of my personality. If this was about someone else, then I might be concerned as well. Still, I feel that any diagnosis at this time is a bit premature." Marek turned his chair to face Moon.

"How does the neurochemistry report from this last mission compare to other nuerochemsitry reports about me? A few of my classes involved experimental psychology. And one important lesson from those classes is to make sure there is enough data to draw conclusions. Too little data and you're likely to have false results. If the concerns of my behavior are drawn mainly drawn from this one incident, then I think its too early to worry about my mental health. The report results might be anomalous.

It seems though that you took my personality into account as well. Am I correct in thinking that your observations of me are from the time we've served together? If you look up information about me in the military records, then you'll see that I've been like this the entire time I've been in the military. I don't think the records have much to say about how I was before I joined the military.

This leads me to, what I think is the crux of the issue. Possible unresolved issues regarding the Earth. It was a despicable act. I joined up because of what happened to the Earth. I would have thought the Great Web would avoid destroying any garden worlds. There's so few of them that I would think that attacking and destroying one would be off the table. The Great Web apparently feels this is a valid strategy. Doesn't that bother you? It bothers me a lot." Marek tried to keep his voice calm, but it was clear the issue bothered him greatly. "This last mission, it felt like we struck a heavy blow against the Great Web. Maybe we do this a few more times and we'll bring the war to a conclusion. I know nothing I can do will bring the Earth back, but maybe I can stop the Great Web from destroying another garden world."

He exhaled and looked down. His hands clenched up and he unclenched them trying to let his anger defuse.

"You might think that the Earth's destruction affected my personality. That makes sense. Maybe it did, but not in the way you think. I've always been withdrawn and not very sociable. I was like this before I joined the military. I don't know much about your past or how you grew up, but I grew up in a mining colony." He looked back up. "I spent most of my life living in a metal box. Not a lot of living space. A person was lucky to have their own bedroom. You had to get used to living next to people all the time or you went crazy. The way I dealt with it was by spending time by myself away from people. I guess what I think of being normal is thought of to be abnormal here. Since this seems to be an issue, I'll try to change." He looks up and smiles. Marek learned quite a bit about social interaction having grown up in a mining colony. A person had to be willing to change.

"I'll take your suggestions under advisement. I'm not sure if I can get myself to be more sociable, but I could find a hobby to channel my energy into instead of 'flagging targets for destruction' as you said. Maybe something that involves other people even."

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Ambivalent
Oct 14, 2006



Moon

As he talks about Earth, she feels compelled to respond, “Of course it bothers me – I’m here, aren’t I?”

He goes on to explain himself, she listens patiently. “It isn’t like I wanted to go rummaging through your personal business. The commander asked me to. It isn’t a sin to be introverted. Your stress reactions are just way out of line, in ways that look like trouble. You know the science – just… do something so she doesn’t end up removing you from duty. I’m not ready for new crew on 425 yet.”

The Oldest Man
Jul 28, 2003



You presume too much, Officer Moon. I didn't object to relaying the after-action workup to you because of Officer Capek's privacy. I objected because this course of action is contraindicated by the UGM manual of combat psychology, because you are disqualified from providing post-trauma therapy to a member of your own crew by reason of proximate interference, and because further exposure to combat will both cause further psychological damage to Officer Capek as well as jeopardize our combat effectiveness. The correct action is to relieve him of duty until he can undergo psychiatric editing.

Commander Ilyusha's motives in this matter are opaque to me; however; you believe you are helping a fellow officer. You are not. Your motives are relevant only in that they have made you ignore the likeliest outcome to instead sate your own desire for co-affiliative action.

It is possible that I am incorrect. For the sake of our mission and the four of you, I hope I am.

"Diagnostics are complete, Officers. No anomalies were detected. I appear to be functioning normally," Red says, "However, it is the primary responsibility of Hunter 425's AI specialists to make value judgments about my performance. The standard corrective action remains a new instantiation of my personality based on a post-qualification copy of my program. If you have any doubts about my reliability, I suggest you exercise that option."

"If not, I am concerned about the change in our mission goals outlined by the Commander during our briefing this morning and wish to discuss my concerns with the two of you. It is not within my purview to question the intent of the new objective, but operating independently and outside of the order of battle will put this ship at a degree of additional risk. It is possible that we will be incorrectly designated as a bogey and frozen out of UGM command and control networks if we present our identity data without first registering to our designated C&C network, until our identity can be directly verified by a certifying command authority. That will be difficult in a complex battle environment. Are my concerns unfounded?"

Ambivalent
Oct 14, 2006



Moon

As Red’s line of questioning becomes more insistent, it becomes harder to carry on both conversations while at the same time questioning herself. It’s outside of regulation, but in practice, some regulations are given leeway during wartime to preserve personnel as I understand. What is this ‘likeliest outcome?’ Still. She probably gives Red’s suspicion more credence than anyone else would. Could it be that he knows something more and is prohibited from telling her? Or some sort of intuition? The former is immensely distressing, the latter more than a little intriguing. If you could bring up previous after-action neurochemistry readings, and give me the date modified for each of them, I’d appreciate it. I’ll review them later.

The more overt conversation… she raises an eyebrow, looking up from her console to Marek. “I don’t think it’s an unfounded concern. I had notions that her decision is an emotional one – not a good basis for making command decisions, but well, she’s a battle-tested commander.” She looks a little uncertain speaking, then wonders what sort of surveillance they have here at this workstation, “I thought she wanted to hang on to the intelligence from Remonde and deliver it personally because she wanted to remain in the loop and see what fruits our efforts bore. If it was a truly significant risk, I can’t see her taking it for the sake of personal investment. Unless you think there was some other reason.” What, like Commander Ilyusha is defecting?

DocBubonic
Mar 11, 2003

Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis

Marek

"I understand your position. I merely wanted to state my position on the matter. And as I said I plan on making changes. Since this matter isn't official, I guess I still have time to make corrections in my behavior." He stayed calm. There was no use in reacting strongly. It was just constructive criticism. The way Moon seemed intent on pushing the point home struck him as a bit odd. What kind of pressure was she facing in regards to this, he wondered. He started to wonder if the situation wasn't as simple as having a neurochemistry report getting flagged. Something else seemed to be going on here.

When Red spoke up about his concerns, Marek leaned back in his chair. He welcomed a change in conversation, but maybe not a change to this. This seemed out of character for the AI. Why should the AI present this concern to subordinate officers? Did it bring this up with the Commander and not like the answer she gave? Bringing the matter up to Moon and himself seems like it is trying to subvert the Commander. Marek wondered, what's stranger here; the Commander's plan of action or the AI discussing its disagreement with the Commander to lower officers? He had his own reservations about the Commander's course of action, but assumed the Commander knew what she was doing. The A.I.'s behavior did seem erratic, but the data would indicate otherwise. Marek's gut instinct said that something was wrong with Red, but there was no real proof of the matter. He had no proof that a back up of Red should be installed. Right now all he could do is wait and observe.

"Red, did you bring this issue up with the Commander? And if you did, how did she respond?"

Pinche Rudo
Feb 8, 2005



Alarus Za'al

Alarus sat at his workstation as he ran through the encryption keys. He pulled out of his sandbox system and cued the workstation couch to soften and he sunk into the foam as it responded by decreasing density until it sensed his brain reached the optimum level of comfort. Something had been gnawing at him as he was running through the encryption keys. If Moon was backchanneling info the Commander, should he inform Carl? Carl had just as much, if not more to lose than the rest of them considering the whole issue with his assignment to a ship instead of the fleet, which was some sort of underhanded punishment (in all but name only). If Moon was so interested in all their "well-being" then Carl should definitely know as he was under the microscope too.

Alarus pinged Carl on the intraship comms network. "Hey man, you got a couple minutes to talk? Want to meet for a cup of caff?"

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Carl

"I'm good on the cup, 'man'," he says somewhat exaggeratedly as the reflex game slows to a pause, "but I'm free to talk. Give me a moment to finish my session here and I'll head over." The concept of esprit de corps was just as familiar to him as anything else, but having someone he only knows on a professional level contact him in such an informal sense is not one he prefers. Sarcasm, in moderation, vaguely disguises his distaste. He cuts the session short with a sigh - another potential high score run lost - and headed over to the cafeteria. Maybe just water would suffice for now.

The Oldest Man
Jul 28, 2003



Alarus and Carl meet up in the ship's cafeteria. It's 21:30 ship time, which means the place is practically deserted. Officer Olson is chatting with one of the maintenance techs in a corner, but the two of them make a break for the opposite hatchway as soon as Carl enters. Alarus flags the pilot down with a friendly wave of his coffee.

-

"I can't speculate about motives. However, the tactical realities of this course of action are of a great deal of concern to me. The success and safety of Hunter 425 is my reason for existence. When I don't understand the risk calculations that underpin the decisions made by my human partners, I can't do my job effectively," Red replies to Moon, "Commander Ilyusha's new objective is difficult for me to understand. She has directed that we place our ship in considerable danger by operating outside of prescribed guidelines. This risk is well understood. The objective is to deliver our intelligence information directly to a relay proxy ship instead of delivering it through normal channels. However, the value of this objective is unknown. Therefore, it is difficult to ascertain the level of assumed risk that we should accept during our planning and subsequent combat operations."

"For example: if we fail in this objective, we can still deliver the intelligence via normal channels but only if we survive. Therefore, an aspect of survival planning is highly desirable as a fallback mechanism regardless of the new objective's relative value, since we can achieve a valuable secondary objective in case of non-catastrophic failure. However, if delivering the intelligence directly to a proxy ship is much more valuable than delivering it via normal channels, by a factor of ten or more, then maximum effort should be employed to do so and any failure becomes comparatively less acceptable. A high degree of risk can be assumed to deliver equivalent gains to the overall war effort."

Red pauses and editorializes, "I believe I've adequately communicated my difficulty with incorporating this new objective into my routine analysis and planning. I won't bore you with the underlying ethical calculus."

"I did raise this issue, Officer Capek," Red says, "Commander Ilyusha and Okeanos advised that I discuss my concerns, in the context of enhancing our tactical plan, with Hunter 425's AI specialists."

Statistically, the eventual outcome is most likely a psychotic episode during combat and while submerged in the neural link, Red whispers back. Moon knows the implications. The neural link is a very safe piece of technology: it allows communication between the short-term memories and executive functions of the connected crew, but walls off most emotional responses, long term memory, and other things that could cause problems. There's little danger of anything worse than daydreams crossing the bridge between minds.

But during certain types of traumatic mental episode, the brain spontaneously re-wires itself in a cascade of neural changes. Signal pickup areas in the brain that were utterly innocuous one moment may channel extreme emotions or thoughts the next. The link's safeties may not screen the other participants from the damage. For a few moments, everyone connected to the link will suffer the same trauma as the member experiencing the episode. The lasting effects could be permanent.

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Carl

"Alarus. Sorry about earlier," he says, "I was in the middle of something. You know how it is. What can I do for you?" He sets about the ponderous task of mixing water with generic fruit concentrate. "Something about the mission?"

Ambivalent
Oct 14, 2006



Moon

Closing out the ‘private’ discussion with Marek, she just nods in agreement. He seemed to have a healthy attitude – sincerely willing to entertain change while being well-informed. “Alright, just promise me that if…” She smiles weakly, “I don’t know, anything starts getting to you, if it gets to be more than you can handle on your own, talk to me? We’ll work it out. We’re a team: any problem you have, it’s a problem we can all deal with.” That’s sort of an indirect and nice way of reminding him of the dangers that Red just reminded her of. Still, she feels confident that they can handle this. There’s another nod, signifying she’s closing the book on the subject for now.

In her head though, she’s trying to piece together Red’s concerns about Ilyusha. Her own concerns about Ilyusha. Ilyusha’s concerns about Marek. Her own concerns about Marek. Red’s concerns about Marek. Everyone’s concerns about the mission. She rubs at her face a little, grimacing, “I’m going to get wrinkles from this.”

“Well, it sounds prudent, Red.” The fact that Okeanos and the commander had kicked it back to them is a little reassuring – at least they hadn’t told Red to shut up about those concerns. Although, maybe they’d sent Red to her and Marek thinking it would get the AI reset. She stretches her hands over her head, working out some stiffness, trying to get her mind nimble as well “But the whole chain of command bit – we’re not really of a place to formally question the commander’s commands. That’s why she’s a ‘commander.’” She looks to Marek, then the console, then gives up – humor has difficulty surviving in this environment. “It just seems… wrong, somehow, to try and think of ways to save ourselves in case of emergency. What about Surt’s team?” She sighs, “It can’t hurt, I guess – as a thought experiment. So… contingencies.”

“We could… target a friendly ship as we pass through Trieste, and deploy a buoy of our own with an in-case-we-explode-deliver-this-message parameter.” And without missing a beat, she starts to shoot down her own idea, “But then we’d have to leave the data cache with the buoy, and what if that friendly ship moves outside the buoy’s range… Doesn’t safeguard Hunter 425.”

“We could launch attack ships with the intel in case the carrier comes under attack. Assuming we have time. And we’d need a target destination. And still need a plan for delivering the intelligence in that event.”

“We could… encrypt the intelligence and stash it in a civilian communications network somewhere and hope it can maintain obscurity until an algorithm reaches out to UGM command. Which… saves none of us and risks exposing the intelligence.”

Moon’s spitballing winds down, as the flurry of bad ideas starts to tire her out, “Tsk. This sort of thing is really not suited to me. Isn’t making sure we don’t die supposed to be someone else’s job?” If this were some sort of anime, she would close her eyes and exhale a small puff right here. She continues her lament, repeating something she’d been told. “‘It’s like a graduate program, Su, but everything's taken care of and you get to work with all the most advanced systems.’”

Ambivalent fucked around with this message at Jan 30, 2015 around 15:56

DocBubonic
Mar 11, 2003

Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis

Marek

"You got it, Moon." If anything did happen or if something might happen, Moon should be the first person to go to. She approach the situation with a fair and balanced sensibility. No telling if anyone else would. This situation seems to have been blown out of proportion though. Now he just had to deal with the situation with Red.

"So the Commander probably isn't interested in hearing us discuss why this a bad idea. She just wants our tactical input of the situation? I think I got that right." Marek rubbed his chin to think of something constructive to say. At the moment he found himself a bit unsure of the A.I. It seemed a bit too independent. At the same time his teaching led him to question A.I. behavior. An A.I. reset would be a good idea, but he didn't want to do that just based on what he knew now. In addition, he worried it might make him look like he was trying to hide something. Best to wait and observe.

"If the Commander feels this is the best course of action, then I agree with her. I assume she has a better perspective on this than I do. Now in regards to tactical options, perhaps we could have a mobile vedette around the ship. Have a group of hunters act as a picket. They could provide advance warning of potential threats. Even if the threats happen to be friendlies. It might endanger the hunter ships, but the carrier would have a greater chance to survive. A strategy like this is a bit unorthodox, but so is the Commander's plan."

DocBubonic fucked around with this message at Feb 1, 2015 around 06:25

Pinche Rudo
Feb 8, 2005



Alarus Za'al

Alarus nods to Carl as he takes a seat. "Thanks for coming to meet me at such an odd hour." He took a sip of his caff, setting it aside as he leans over the table. "Sort of. I was a bit curious about what was going on with Moon being called into the Commander's office for a 1 on 1 after the debrief. Marek and I were talking in the hall after when she comes up and all but gives us a psych eval right there. Asking how I was holding up, giving me advice, etc. It was a bit...odd for unsolicited advice." He unfolded his hands and leaned back a bit, "Maybe it's just the old Intel instincts kicking in but it raised some questions." He reached back to his caff and took a sip, then gestured towards Carl. "I just wanted to see what your thoughts were. I didn't get a chance to talk to Marek afterwards as he stayed with Moon."

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Carl

He picked up a spoon and used it to stir his drink. He took an experimental sip - grape, and set the mug back down. "I don't really have any thoughts. Nobody contacted me for additional debriefing, and Moon certainly didn't talk me up - not yet, anyway. I should remind you, though, that we as a crew are directly responsible for what historians will certainly compare to a scale of atrocity on par with the loss of Earth," Carl said. "Marek was the person on fire control, and you were targeting, right?" Rhetorical - of course they were - he was there, after all. "I'm not trained in intel like you are, but my guess is that that it was directly a result of talking with the Commander that said conversation took place." He goes for the cup again. "Those would be my thoughts on the matter." So concluding, he takes another, much longer sip of his drink.

Pinche Rudo
Feb 8, 2005



Alarus Za'al

Alarus nodded, thoughtfully sipping the last of his caff and setting the empty cup aside. "Hmmm, you're probably right. I'm just a bit concerned the Commander didn't talk to us directly if it was something serious and is relying on Moon to backchannel." He shrugs. "Is that her style?"

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Carl

"Who can say?" He says. "The Commander has her reasons for everything. She's got more experience than any two of us in service years combined - she probably decided to take that tactic because Moon is our peer rather than our superior. She is also likely on the clock based on the operation we're going to be undertaking very soon. No time for dealing with 'the science of feelings' and all that."

Pinche Rudo
Feb 8, 2005



Alarus Za'al

Alarus nodded "Got it, you're probably right. Just wanted to give you the heads up." He smiled, picking up the empty cup to dispose of. "As if we're not under enough pressure to be on our "A" game our next mission. We've also got to worry about what we say in front of Moon." He groaned. "Well I am gonna head back. I've been researching comm buoy model lines and their encryption keys. Thrilling stuff. Thanks for the time to chat." Alarus tossed his empty cup in the re-cyc unit as he left the cafeteria.

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Carl

He watched Alarus go, before getting up himself. However, it wasn't to leave, it was only for a refill on the water. He sends a message to Moon on the messaging system, text only.

Something going on? People are talking.

aldantefax fucked around with this message at Feb 1, 2015 around 05:09

Ambivalent
Oct 14, 2006



Moon

“That’s actually a pretty good idea – and if anything goes catastrophically wrong, attack ships could still disperse like in the other plan.” There is a small pulsing hum behind her ear and she groans a little. Carl’s incoming message comes through, and she laments to Marek, “Looks like Officer Za’al made contact with the remainder of the team. Is it too late to add a part to the plan where we launch Alarus out an airlock? What is that guy’s problem, anyway? He second guesses everything I do, like I won some sort of contest to ‘sit on a real live attack ship’ and then obsessively busies himself with everything I do.” She blanches and looks Marek’s way, “You don’t think he like, has a thing for me, do you?”

Effortlessly, using her thoughts, her personal assistant fires back a response to Carl's missive, People can only mean ‘Alarus.’ Marek, Red and I are just at the workstation by the launching bay, spitballing ideas for how to make the Commander’s plan not suck. Feel free to join in. If Alarus is still there, he can come too – as long as he isn’t weird about it.

Ambivalent fucked around with this message at Feb 1, 2015 around 05:16

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Carl

Planning without the pilot? This sounded like something he was obligated to show up for. He finishes his cup and heads over to the bay, getting his flight plans in order. He shows up in short order.

"I was unaware that the plan was something that we had the pull to alter further," he says by way of greeting to Moon and Marek. "I'm more concerned about the execution portion which will necessitate our deployment."

DocBubonic
Mar 11, 2003

Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis

Marek

"I'm not surprised he would. When you got called into speak with the Commander, it got him suspicious. He's a spook or used to be one. People like that are always paranoid. He wants to know everything that is going on around him. As for second guessing you, I don't know. I don't think he has a thing for you, but I'm not terribly good about figuring stuff like that out. If he is, then I'd hope he'd find some other avenue to do it." He paused thinking about sending Alarus out the airlock. The last thing Marek wanted to even think about was something like that. Even if it was just a joke.

Hearing Carl enter, he turned to face him.

"Hey Carl. Probably a good idea that you came. Maybe the three of us can come up with something. I just mentioned to Moon the idea of setting up a picket with the hunter ships surrounding the carrier. Anything approaching the carrier would run into the hunters first. The hunter could then warn the carrier and the carrier would have some time to react."

DocBubonic fucked around with this message at Feb 1, 2015 around 06:31

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Carl

"Something, you say? I didn't expect we were doing something so outdated as to form a line of battle with hunter ships directly. I've discussed flight plans with the other astrogators, and I'm sure that if you're proposing this something involving more than just the 425, that is certainly going to change whatever plans are already in motion. Drastically, even," he says. "Unless you're implying that the carrier deploy the Hunters via the launch cradle so that we're about as far afield as we were in the last sortie," he says. "We don't have sufficient data on the Trieste theater to send a vehicle out like that. Ripcord wouldn't save us in that instance.

"Red, if you haven't already done so for Marek and Moon, please display the flight telemetry that we're on right now in addition to the Carrier modeling data from my flight library..."

I know about space. Space Tactics at 12.

Pinche Rudo
Feb 8, 2005



Alarus Za'al

Alarus returns to his room and mocks up some comm buoy relays and practices cracking them and sending encryption handshakes through them.

Research 14, Intelligence Analysis 13, Computer Hacking 15, Cryptography 13

Ambivalent
Oct 14, 2006



Moon

She gives Carl a wave as he wanders in, her workstation monitor view a mess of carrier schematics, assorted documents, a game she’s since been playing, and a drama, all the while chit-chatting with Red and Marek. As the astrogator digs in to the problem, she lays out the position, “Well, the primary concern is that the commander’s decision to keep Okeanos in the loop, operationally, means we’ll be travelling the sector unescorted and Red was concerned that we needed countermeasures both to ensure the intelligence is transmitted to Command, and to ensure that we, of the 425, survive in case of a catastrophe.”

“One proposal was to have the attack ship carry a copy of the intelligence and have 425 deployed in… like, escort – but like also ready to scatter.” She shrugs a little.

Ambivalent fucked around with this message at Feb 2, 2015 around 00:57

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Carl

He turns to Moon. "Ready to scatter? You are aware that Hunter-class vessels do not have jump capabilities, so if there's something at a scale to destroy the Okeanos we either have to be launching out of a burning carrier - and all the issues that entails - or we'll be in normal space maneuvering only, wherein engagements will be a clear and present danger. Replicating sensitive data payload would certainly make sense, but it only increases the amount of chances the intel we received can be successfully intercepted by the Web." He rolls his shoulders back in a shrug/stretch combo, moving his head from side to side.

"The current plan of doing brief micro-jumps in system has the highest chance of success from that data that's available. Also," he says, extending the stretch to bending his wrists this way and that, "the assumption that we're running into a disaster, while high, is probably one that is being accounted for higher up in the chain of command. I already have a disaster plan in Red's data banks should we lose link to command structure - but, if it comes to that, we're going to be in trouble no matter how good we are."

aldantefax fucked around with this message at Feb 1, 2015 around 21:19

Ambivalent
Oct 14, 2006



Moon

She shrugs her shoulders again, taking Carl’s criticism in stride. “It was an iterative work in progress.”

DocBubonic
Mar 11, 2003

Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis

Marek

"I figured the hunters could make contact and break away. The Commander is probably going to avoid any protracted fights. But lets back up here. The reason I came up with this is because we're going into a mission outside of established parameters and Red wanted our opinions." Marek paused concerned that he might give the impression that he's looking for a fight. "If my idea won't work, I don't mind. Better that it get stopped here before it goes any further."

The Oldest Man
Jul 28, 2003



Red chimes in when directly queried, "It is an unusual set of tactical considerations. The idea of using multiple attack ships to protect the carrier at close range has some merit. However, consider: Hunter 425 relies on the jump drive of the Okeanos to displace. Okeanos cannot displace while Hunter 425 is deployed. If we are attacked and must displace, Hunter 425 must be in the cradle for at least six seconds to allow the carrier's drive to reach criticality. It follows that we must recruit other carriers, and their attack ships, to form the defense cordon while we complete the objective."

"The other carriers that participated in the attack on Remonde Prime are the only ones that we will be able to contact prior to arriving at Trieste. We are scheduled to rendezvous with the attack group on the edge of the Trieste system in just over 12 hours, to assess the situation, before making our final displacement into combat. Their commanders must be convinced to participate in our objective if this plan is to be attempted."

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Carl

"And so it goes," he tacks onto Red's short briefing. "Six seconds of liability that we can't really afford, unless you wanted to offer up a sacrificial lamb to be left behind while the Okeanos warps out. The tactical value is questionable. My opinion is that we need more information before we can formulate a real strategy in coordination with whatever the Commander says we're doing. Unless there's actual evidence that she's unfit for command and her plan's going to cost the UGM this carrier, I'll defer to the outcome of that rendezvous and execute accordingly. I happen to like Commander Ilyusha," the astrogator finishes. He takes a seat and pulls up some viewports to review the current maintenance progress on the repairs being done on the 425.

The Oldest Man
Jul 28, 2003



"Commander Ilyusha is within her authority to sacrifice this carrier in pursuit of broader strategic objectives. Your lives as well," Red says bluntly, "It is the principle responsibility of command to put one's subordinates and materiel at risk of death and destruction to further the war effort."

Ambivalent
Oct 14, 2006



Moon

She laughs a little, “That is a terribly cynical, Red. Have you been consuming Henry Halleck?” Moon leans forward and clicks out of her game, suddenly interested again, “Try Elon Vanderwal’s Wages of War. It may be within the commander’s rights to sacrifice subordinates and resources but it is hardly the principle responsibility. You make it sound like a goal instead of a cost.”

Moon disengages from Red for a moment to answer her human crewmate, “And it’s not that I don’t like her, Carl. She’s clearly more experienced. We’re just having trouble seeing the risk calculation on this Trieste thing. Why is it so important risking the carrier to deliver the intel practically by hand?” She shrugs, “Who knows, Red wanted contingency planning, so we're thinking.”

Ambivalent fucked around with this message at Feb 2, 2015 around 07:51

DocBubonic
Mar 11, 2003

Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis

Marek

"I don't know how much the intel is worth compared to lives and equipment, but I'd rather not sacrifice people and equipment to deliver this intel. Getting other carriers to help protect the Okeanos makes sense, but I don't know if any of them would be willing to follow the Commander's plan. I wouldn't want to depend on them agreeing to help the Commander deliver the intel."

He shifted in the chair. Talk of Ilyusha being unfit for command made him uneasy. It didn't seem right and he couldn't bring himself to consider the possibility. The Commander knew what she was doing. If she thinks this is the best course of action, then she must have good reasons for doing this.

"Breaking from established S.O.P. isn't something I like, but I gotta imagine the Commander wouldn't do something like this without a good reason. The intel must be worth the risk. At least I hope it is." The others seemed just as hesitant to question the Commander's judgement, but they seem willing to willing to go further in their thinking than I am.

The Oldest Man
Jul 28, 2003



"I was designed to be pragmatic, Officer Moon, not cynical. It is a tautology that the primary responsibility of the command officer corps is to spend lives and materiel, because all other responsibilities of any significance are delegated to subordinates or machines or reserved for the general officer corps. I didn't intend the observation to be morbid."

Ambivalent
Oct 14, 2006



Moon

“Well, I’d rank the safety of the state, the integrity of the war effort and executing the orders of a superior authority ahead of that. Expenditure of resources comes in pursuit of those goals but well, now I’m arguing a technicality with you, Red, and I’ve done this enough to know that I can only deflect your ultimately correct logic as long as I can stay awake. You win!” She throws her hands up jovially in surrender and opens her game again, speaking to the others, “So what’s the course of action then? Disperse copies of the data store to Red, hope we get six seconds for an emergency jump? If we want to do something different, we need to submit a proposal to the Commander – I’ll write it up but let’s do it soon so I can get some natural sleep before we hit Trieste.” And so she can fill out her own post-action journal.

DocBubonic
Mar 11, 2003

Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis

Marek

"You know writing up our suggestions and sending them in together might be the best way of expressing our opinions. Both in regards to our dislike of the Commander's plan and possible tactical options she could take. That way she doesn't have to deal with us personally and instead focus on our ideas." He didn't know if he wanted to propose his picket defense idea, but he wasn't sure if there were many options on the table. Carl seemed to think that current plans were suitable for the upcoming mission, but the mission wasn't going to be S.O.P. Would those plans hold up when things don't go according to plan? Marek tried to remember if there were any references to a situation like this in the records of the war. Realizing that his military history knowledge wasn't that great, he went to a terminal to see if he could pull up any information that might be relevant to the situation.

Expert Skill (Military Science)-10, Computer Operation/TL12-13

The Oldest Man
Jul 28, 2003



Marek starts pulling log reports on his neural interface. There are millions of such entries to sort through, but the software assistant is good at locating such things when the search terms are narrow: action reports where attack carrier commanders violated standard battlefield communication rules, and the results. Fortunately, after action reports and logs are matters of public record for active UGM officers. AIs make minimal sensitivity redactions, but everything else is as broadly disseminated as possible.

It's well known that command officers are given broad latitude to make decisions in pursuit of their objectives and to act on their own initiative to further the war effort. One of the reasons for that latitude is that the command officer corps is highly professionalized and omni-capable. Another is a much more pragmatic reason: AI analysis of combat data makes it almost impossible to hide malfeasance or incompetence. A commander will be excused almost any action if, in hindsight, their calculation was that the action would be a net win for the UGM. Ironically, that's probably why Commander Ilyusha felt comfortable sending Moon to give Marek an off-books counseling session rather than putting him in for official psychiatric care. Intent matters somewhat. Results matter much more. Procedure matters very little, if the other two criteria judge the decision a success.

The war record is full of examples of protocol and policy violations. Everything from relatively minor breaches of personnel management to showing a colony no mercy in violation of the UGM's receipt of surrender doctrine, all recorded both by AIs and in the personal notes of thousands of UGM command officers in their logs and after-action reports. In a few instances, the record shows that the officer was demoted, punished, and in handful of cases, imprisoned and edited into compliance. But in the vast majority, their actions were deemed reasonable by AI monitors and human superiors.

Breaches of protocol with intelligence payloads are uncommon, but not unheard of. The fundamental problem with intelligence-classified data above a certain level of restriction is that it is subject to a highly unusual set of transport and transfer rules that are designed to safeguard it against information warfare attack. The alternative is to expose the data to theft or corruption; the polymorphic encryption that protects it also makes it impossible to verify the integrity of the data without the decryption key. It is very difficult to outright steal the information, but it is relatively easy to destroy it via a broadcast or tightbeam information attack. To prevent that from happening, the data can only be copied or transmitted when such actions are deemed critical to ensure a single canonical copy survives long enough to be decrypted by a certified authority and then disseminated as appropriate. Until that time, it must be isolated in active secure storage that can be physically walled out of the carrier's computer system when it is carrying such a payload.

For the obvious reasons, many command officers have broken those rules in cases where they feared the loss of the data through the destruction of their own ship or when they were unable to locate an intelligence-certified authority to decrypt the data without deviating from their planned mission. The commander's desire to personally deliver something that could be materially relevant, rather than simply delivering it up the chain of command in the midst of a historically massive and predictably chaotic battle, does not seem totally unfathomable.

"I've already been incorporating your suggestions and assumed ethical calculus into my pre-battle planning," Red says, "And validating it with Okeanos as we have been in conversation. We may have an opportunity to contact the other carriers before entering the Trieste battle area. In that case, your scenario of a short-range vedette to protect the carrier while we locate and tap into a comm buoy will be communicated to the other carrier AIs as one of several possible options. They will collectively raise the scenario with the command officers during terminal attack planning if situation at Trieste is amenable to the tactic. Your contributions will be noted as a matter of record."

"My concerns are satisfied. Would you like to discuss anything else? If not, you should all get some rest. We have a limited amount of time before our next sortie."

Ambivalent
Oct 14, 2006



Moon

She stretches her arms over her head and yawns, “I’m feeling good, Red. Good work, 425. Long day!” Her access shuts out from the workstation as she stands up from the seat, offering high-fives where they’re received. “I’m turning in, though, catch you all later!” Marek gets a pat on the shoulder, Carl gets a wave.

~

Indefatigable as she may seem, she is, in truth, totally fatigable and once the small door on her personal quarters slides shut, she all but crashes face first onto the bed provided for her. Slowly, she turns her head and starts to get comfortable, accessing her neural link. Maybe after Trieste, the carrier would hit a more civilized system and they’d get to reconnect to the broader social civilian networks. For now, she’s left with the puzzle games and small systems populated by crude pseudo-intelligent programs she’s modified or even crafted herself – none that could hold a candle to something like Red or Okeanos, but enough to keep her environmental and game sims interesting, to cultivate her personal media.

A long day. Behind closed eyes, she chews her way through an academic treatise on illogic and simulated irrational behavior, something that she’d been reading before the mission. Waiting for sleep, she wonders if the surface of Remonde Prime had fully cooled yet. Likely. A strange day.

If anyone still wants Moon for something, or to stop her on her way out, that’s fine, feel free. Just figured I’d condense two posts into one.

Pinche Rudo
Feb 8, 2005



I'm just waiting for the scene jump to post

DocBubonic
Mar 11, 2003

Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis

Marek

Going through the data didn't produce any new insights, but it did give him some perspective about the situation. The Commander's move wasn't as odd as first thought. Marek mentioned his findings to Moon and Carl. As the meeting came to a close, Marek gave Moon a nod as she left.

"That's good to hear Red." Nice to have it out of my hands, he thought to himself. He then looked to Carl. "Got anything else?"

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Carl

He shrugs in reply. "Nothing right now, but I'll probably find something in my personal maintenance inspection." He nods at Moon's departure. Even though he knew that Red's inspection with the maintenance crews covered every foreseeable aspect, he couldn't help but make sure the 425 was actually double, triple, quadruple checked until he was safe in his inspection. Even if he didn't find anything, it was still routine. He'd do it on a Hunter-class ship, he'd do it on a Carrier. "Keep me in the loop if you come up with any new ideas. I'm sure Alarus will have something about the encryption soon enough." He claims Moon's workstation, spreading his work to more virtual monitors.

i'm good to go whenever

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The Oldest Man
Jul 28, 2003



Battle at Trieste

Hours spent sitting in a shock pod, waiting for a sortie that never comes, are much longer than hours spent in briefing rooms.

No plan survives contact with the enemy. At Trieste, Commander Ilyusha's plan didn't make it that far.

On the approach to Trieste, the crew of Hunter 425 climbed into their combat gear, lay back in their shock pods, remembered how to breathe liquid again, and then waited. And waited. After three hours, they got out, spat the shock medium back up, and then waited some more.

Okeanos has been sitting at the edge of the system, over fifty AU out from the star, for six hours. So far, the only thing that anyone on the carrier has done is try to make sense of the situation further in and mostly fail at it. There's a battle going on, and has been for over a month. In addition to the massive fields of stellar nursery debris, asteroids, collision fragments from mutually annihilated planetesimals, and dust clouds, there are massive formations of wreckage drifting about. Some contain fully or partially functional ships, or reconstituted drone swarms, that are still operational enough to be a threat. Others are filled with sentient munitions that make even micro-displacement operations a hazard.

If the carrier was tapped into the UGM battle network, some of this might be comprehensible. Ilyusha's plan was to ignore standard procedure and operate independently of the main order of battle. That plan has been rendered irrelevant, because it's unclear if a main order of battle still exists at all. The entire Perseus Front was committed to combat in this system, and it's unclear how many of those ships are still operational or how they're organized. Direct sensor observations of some particularly kinetic engagements deeper in the system reveal that there are large formations of UGM ships operating coherently to sweep and destroy masses of unidentified (presumably Web) slower-than-light and jump capable ships. However, their attack patterns keep them in contact with the enemy for only a few moments: they appear at apparently random headings and pseudo-velocities, fire a burst of munitions, and ripcord out of the engagement area in less time than it takes the light of their arrival to reach the target.

The carriers must still be out there, communicating and coordinating, but Okeanos has been unable to locate any of them. All of the pre-planned collection areas and navigational points, and the backups, and the run-spots that are simply seed-generated sets of target coordinates, are empty. A month of algorithmic evolution and polymorphic strategic planning AIs warring with each other at beyond light speed seems to have made a complete hash of the pre-planned order of battle. Even the fragments of broadcast communication that have been picked up are completely garbled; basically unintelligible both in format and encoding. Communication, data, and encryption protocols have evolved as well as doctrine. It seems as though strategic command did not anticipate the cumulative effects of polymorphic doctrinal AIs, running in concert on an unprecedented scale, and for an unprecedented length of constant battle.

To complicate matters, with the entire system full of hot, radioactive, kinetic, and possum debris, and the ability to sink waste heat via their attack ships' ripcord devices, finding a carrier in Trieste would be a difficult task in a controlled exercise. After a month of playing hide and see with both Web forces and tens of thousands of other adaptive learning programs to test their findings and adapted doctrines, it's a safe bet that experience has made the Trieste UGM's AIs far better at hiding than Okeanos and Red are at seeking.

The UGM clearly has the upper hand against the Web here, despite the thousands of new enemy combatants that are pouring into the system every hour. Okeanos and Red are having trouble even cataloging the new contacts properly before a ghost formation of attack ships materializes, cuts them to ribbons, and then vanishes. The loss rate appears to be at least one thousand to one, even if the AIs discount the parasite ships, semi-autonomous weapons, and locally produced drones that constitute the vast bulk of the Web's forces. However, it's hard to understand what the implications are, or what course of action the carrier should pursue. For the moment, even the AIs are unable to intuit the flow of the battle. All the crew of the Okeanos can do is watch, analyze, and try to understand what they're looking at. Some of the carrier command crew have begun splitting into factions as they analyze the data: those who want to report back to the closest UGM assembly area at Mu due to the unpredictable nature of the situation, those who want to begin broadcasting and trust that they will receive instructions from a UGM listener, those who want to begin a one-ship campaign against the nearby Web forces.

Ilyusha appears content to wait for an opportunity to complete her objective... or at least, for the situation to clarify itself.

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