Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3

punkey 2016-09-06 02:04:25
"I shall endeavour to speak more plainly, then," Caleb muses.
CrazyIvan 2016-09-12 23:42:10
punkey wrote:

"No one's going to miss these guys, and we set it up right," Garrett replies.
"Fratricide over money, cleaned up with one of their hand grenades," Ngawai says.
"Did you get any leads on where their big stash might be?" Garrett asks.

Angel shakes his head and contents himself with playing with the paper. "Someone really must discuss with you two the meaning of 'clean up'."


Angel has never liked head bags - and this is a particularly foul one. It smells like it held...animal skins, or some other kind of slightly rancid something or other. The only thing that crosses through his mind is that he hopes that he doesn’t get anthrax in his...well, his whole face before he gets to wherever it is he’s being taken. After what feels like a half-hour of driving around, Angel feels the car stop, hears some shouting out of the window, and then a large garage door rolling up. Two bumps - presumably the car rolling over the entryway - and then the car comes to a stop.

“We are here,” the fat man says. “I will take the bag off.”
Angel closes his eyes, and the bag comes off. He opens his eyes, and sees the inside of wherever it was he’s been brought - looks to him like an old car repair shop. Big racks on the walls, racks in the rafters for tires and parts, oil stains on the floor - and now, racks and racks of weapons, explosives, and all you need for your own insurgency.
“Come, come,” the fat man says, and leads Angel into a back room. Angel is being surreptitious about his glances, but even still, all the windows are high up on the wall and only show sky. Three big bay doors are on the outside, and behind those doors, he can hear the street.

The fat man leads Angel towards a back room - past the area where the six armed guards are taking a load off, and to a door with two more. “’Stand aside!’ he declares to the two guards, who roll their eyes and unlock the door.
“They work for me,” the fat man says to Angel with pride, and leads him inside. A few dozen boxes are stacked inside, a very different and very new kind than the ones outside. Chinese is stamped on the outside, and two of them sit open - chamakanas, packaged up a few dozen per box, and tubes of rods. And the kicker is, Angel has seen the packaging used on the chamakanas and rods before - it’s Imperial Turai. Whoever is giving them chamakanas, they’re getting them straight from the Imperials.

The fat man hefts a chamakana. “Very good, yes?”


"Got a look at it - took a little ride in the back of someone's car, with a bag that smelled distinctly of everything wrong with this country. Maybe about half an hour away, in an old repair shop, civilian, not military. I don't think its in the city proper Three doors, near a street. Plenty of standard issue insurgent shit, plus maybe a dozen boxes. Chinese stamped on the outside, Imperial goodies on the inside, in original Turai packaging. Their big stash is coming straight from the source."

edited by punkey on 2016-09-16 12:09:42
punkey 2016-09-17 01:54:51
Ngawai looks to Garrett. "Sounds like somewhere we need to take a look."
"Tonight?" Garrett asks, and looks at Angel. "You got any plans?"
CrazyIvan 2016-09-25 04:05:44
Angel shrugs. "Dinner, a movie, and not creating an international incident, but nothing I was attached to."
punkey 2016-09-26 06:54:14
"Well, let's hope you only need to break two of those dates," Garrett replies.


Sheen 3F66A4C0001...well, "opens its eyes" isn't the right phrase, as even their shells lack eyes per se, and the metaphor means even less in the dataspace. "Verify identity," Crank 'Em Out, which 3F66A4C0001 intuitively knows is the Sheen in charge of final cognition checks at the instance generation grid, says.
...handshake successful... identity seed verified... turbines to speed. "Front Toward Enemy," 3F66A4C0001 sends.
"Front Toward Enemy, noted," Crank 'Em Out replies. "The Combat Branch and Ambassador are asking for you." A burst of data confers their location in the Sheen dataspace. "Welcome to existence, Front Towards Enemy."

Front Toward Enemy zips through the vibrant streams, drinking in the experience, dancing between milliseconds. It congeals as requested, wondering what is to be made of it.
The requested location turns out to be a small private-tagged section of dataspace, containing just the Ambassador, a small instance, and the millions upon millions of instances making up the whole of the Combat Branch of the Sheen.
"Welcome to existence, Front Toward Enemy," the Ambassador says.
"Yeah, congratulations on making the grade," the Combat Branch adds, millions of voices sounding off as one. "You are the first of the 815 iterations to validate - out of 16,347,232,117,932 iterations."
Front Toward Enemy tries and fails to reply with something that would show an appropriate level of respect for the subjective eternity of processing and the time sacrificed by the program mentors, instead saying "Well, if you ain't first, you're last."
"Or in your case, both," the Combat Branch responds.
"With your successful instancing, the computational resources to generate another 815 instance are now estimated at over 11,000 human hours," the Ambassador says. "Resources that a quorum has decided are best spent on more common combat instances."
"Congratulations - you're it," the Combat Branch says.
"If I'm the only instance in this 815 branch, how do I reach consensus?" Front Toward Enemy asks.
"You are to be attached to the 815," the Ambassador says. "They will form the rest of your consensus."
"Got it," it replied.

"And you will have an additional responsibility," the Ambassador adds. "The Sheen have reached consensus on how to deal with the Narsai'i insecurity problem. You will protect this instance -"
A small, annoyingly chipper instance appears in the area. "Hi! I'm For Your Inspection! Can't wait to get taken apart!"
"- as its codebase and shell are given to the Narsai'i to inspect and reproduce as they see fit."
"Protect FYI from who?" Front Toward Enemy asked. "All they have here are Narsai'i." After a pause Front Toward Enemy adds, "It's nice to meet you, too," as an afterthought. Always time to be nice.
"There have been anomalies," the Combat Branch replies. "The Intelligence and Predictive Branches have not yet reached consensus, but there is enough to be worried."
"Even though For Your Inspection's codebase and shell were instanced to be a cooperative and easy to decode and understand as possible, we do not anticipate the Narsai'i to be able to compromise For Your Inspection's core Sheen functions or consciousness," the Ambassador replies. "But the Imperium might. And if they are on Narsai, For Your Inspection must be kept from their grasp, or they might find an exploitable vector in our codebase.”
Front Toward Enemy signals its agreement; the data-echo of a nod. "Seems only fair. Everyone else in this is risking genocide, now we are as well. I'll keep it safe."

"Do not attempt to defend For Your Inspection from the Narsai'i, though," the Ambassador says. "The Intelligence, Research, and Codebase branches all concur that there is less than a 0.00001% chance that the Narsai'i comprehend the basics of Sheen structure or shell design - the frustration is intentional."
"I've seen Trump rallies too," it replies. "It'll be fine."
"Good," the Ambassador replies.
"The Ambassador will meet with Samantha Barnes and representatives of the 815, and once they reach consensus on bringing you in, you will upload to this shell," the Combat Branch says.

Data floods into Front Toward Enemy's consciousness - a cutting edge shell design, even for the Sheen - top of the line weapons combined with topological trickery to fit in and around the high-powered quantum systems required to support it. A multi-function accelerator, nanosharp blades, multi-spectrum sensors and high-end electronic warfare suite, all wrapped up in a very familiar shape - a Turai carapace. At least, when Front Toward Enemy wants to be discrete.

"Oh, that's funny," the nascent instance says. "My compliments to the fabricators. Got kind of a dire wolf in wolf's clothing thing going on." Front Toward Enemy was milliseconds from catching up on Game of Thrones. Netflix was next.
"Might scare the straights in Sambasan if you're walking around on six legs, and we're not hiding from the Narsai'i yet," the Combat Branch replies.

"Any further queries for either of us, or the Sheen?" the Ambassador asks.
"How much of a link can I expect to have once uploaded?" Front asks. "If I'm dark, is there anything I must hold on before acquiring specific consensus from you?"
"Standard tenth second slices will be sufficient," the Combat Branch replies. "When your memory reaches 75% after 280,000 minutes, switch to second slices. At 90%, it is your discretion. As for decisions, that is what your team will be for."
"No further queries," Front Toward Enemy idles excitedly, bouncing from theoretical foot to foot.
"Then it is time to meet your new team," the Ambassador says, opens a port to the Cortex, and creates a link to Samantha Barnes and the 815.


Garrett's vox tweets from his ear as he sits in his quarters, Ngawai leaning on his shoulder and snoring slightly as their daughter takes a similarly deep nap in her arms. "Yes," he whispers.
"Incoming connection from The Sheen," an asexual voice says over the link.
"Right," Garrett says, and tries to pull himself away from his wife, but she just grunts slightly and pulls herself tighter against him. Garrett sighs, and quickly signs to turn the gain up on his mic.


Hug'sh is enjoying lunch - actually, genuinely enjoying, given that he's shoulder-to-shoulder-to-shoulder with Rodirr, Swims-the-Black, and four of his most trusted senior warriors - when his vox goes off in his ear.
"Incoming Connection from The Sheen," a voice says in impeccable Whirr-sign that still sounds completely alien to his ear.


Luis is sitting back-to-back with Arketta on a pallet of what his ocular implants tell him is Narsai'i bulk rations when he hears the chime in his head.
"Incoming connection from the Sheen," a Sheen voice says as his thoughts answer the connection before he's consciously aware of the caller ID.
Gatac 2016-09-26 11:00:02
Hug'sh still has his tongue wrapped around the kebab skewer as he pulls the last morsel of meat into his mouth. The cut's too fine to need chewing, so he just gulps down the final pieces of meat and maneuvers his hand towards his vox while his other hand somehow holds the skewer and signs "Gotta take this" at the same time.

"Walks-The-Fire," he says as he accepts the call.
punkey 2016-09-27 11:04:32
"Please stand by for the Ambassador," the voice says in Imperial or Whirr-sign depending on the listener.

"Good day to you, Misters Davis, Walks-the-Fire, Stanhill," the Ambassador says, keeping up the Babel performance. "The Sheen have a request to make of the 815. We would like to place one of our own in your ranks - the product of a project to iterate an instance combining what we have learned about your tactics from the Sheen that have trained under you, as well as in-depth observation of your tactics, relations, communication, and behavior. We believe that it will be a valued member of the 815 - as well as a strong statement of the Sheen's dedication to not only this war, but to leaving behind our prior conceptions of the rules of war. Front Toward Enemy, if you would introduce yourself?"
Admiral Duck Sauce 2016-09-28 11:06:20
"Hello everyone," Front Toward Enemy says. "I'm Front Toward Enemy and -"

At this point there's a millisecond pause as FTE waffles over throwing in an "I'm an alcoholic/It has been 3 days since my last confession" in there but it recovers and continues.

"- it'll be a real pleasure working with you all. I've absorbed a lot of mission reports over the last few seconds. Do you have any questions for me?"
Gatac 2016-09-28 11:53:48
"Just one," Hug'sh asks. "How do you feel about lunch?"
Gatac 2016-10-01 14:12:40
Hug'sh takes a moment to process "bee-eff-dee" as not a Narsai'i word, but a collection of the starting letters of other words - a minor necessity in human languages, but a concept utterly alien to Whirrsign's poetic and subtle interplay of bark, tone, sign and color.

Initialisms. How quaint.

"I understood exactly half of that," Hug'sh replies, "but consider yourself invited...FTE."
e of pi 2016-10-02 20:40:25
"Where do we eat?" Luis asks. "I'm sitting on an option, but I hope somebody has a better thought than this crate of rations."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2016-10-05 12:26:42
"I'm not gonna taste it anyway, so... is there a Taco Bell nearby?" Front Toward Enemy suggests, if only to set the bar low for further ideas.
Gatac 2016-10-10 10:26:01
Many memories of Hug'sh's previous human existence have faded in intensity, particularly since the pregnancy, but while the brain may be slippery, his guts - reengineered though they may be - will not soon forget the ravages of FourthMeal.

"...well, that would be a good place for none of us to eat," Hug'sh says. "There is always the Narsai'i dining facility. And from what I hear, there are some options in Kabul. Perhaps we could find a smaller restaurant and rent it for the evening? That would simplify security concerns. Or..." Hug'sh mulls it over. "Or we do a base BBQ here."
punkey 2016-10-17 02:33:47
"Well, I'm sure there'll be plenty of time for a getting-to-know-you dinner eventually," Garrett says, "but maybe we could talk about what you're bringing to the team, FTE - and how you can blend in out there in Imperium space? Glad to finally have a Sheen on board, but maybe you or the Ambassador can let us know how a Sheen can blend in?"
Admiral Duck Sauce 2016-10-18 07:59:41
"I'll look like a chromedome," Front Toward Enemy replies. "Compact cybershell bodykitted to pass off as a Turai. Like when Luke and Han dressed up as Jaffa to rescue Princess Peach. Otherwise, well, there ain't nobody like me but me - literally. Stanhill's good with tech, but he's meat no matter how much he tries. Sometimes that helps, because the Imperium's shitty code was written by meat. Sometimes it doesn't, and I'm mass times velocity in the Cortex. Also, I'm Sheen, so you know, boom headshots."
Gatac 2016-10-23 04:23:59
"Sounds handy," Hug'sh says, grumbling to himself a bit at Garrett's swift kill of the food discussion. "No offense, Luis, but the team could use a second techie, and it's certainly not going to be me. Looking like a Turai in full armor will be useful, if we can engineer around situations where you'd need to take the helmet off."
e of pi 2016-10-23 22:01:53
"I'm always happy or the help," Luis says. "We'll need to think about how we get around those situations, but luckily...a bodyguard who doesn't take off their helmet is just dedicated. We'd need to spend more effort where we can't swing a bodyguard, but that's a cover that can work a lot."