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Sarge Rho's little big universe of short stories


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#1 Sgt. Rho

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 20:25

This is a short-story I wrote about a part of the fictional future storyline, that wouldn't stop buzzing around my head. Oh, it's also the first time I've written a short story.

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"The Vesta Standoff", Year 2398

"Warning. Proximity Alert. Warning. Unknown radiation signature detected." Said the station's AI in its cold, mechanical voice. Almost simultaneously, the seismographs scattered around the surface of Vesta detected a quake of quite literally earth-shattering proportions. "Warning. Hawking Radiation detected. Warning. White Hole formation detected. Warning. Structural Integrity reaching critiiii-i--". The AI went silent. Almost all of the alarms the station had were still sounding in concert almost welcoming the end of the world. Depressurisation, Loss of power, the alarm for impending collisions, even an alarm that indicates Vesta is desintegrating went off. Panic ensued.

Vesta is a large asteroid in the belt between Mars and Jupiter. A white hole is the exact opposite of a Black Hole. While, like a black hole, it attracts matter, nothing can ever enter its event horizon, unlike a black hole, where nothing can leave the event horizon.

Mere seconds later, the quake subsided, power came back in most of the station, but the alarms weren't going to stop any time soon. One after another, systems came back to life, first the lights, then most of the sensors, finally the AI. For the crew it likely felt like an eternity. As soon as the observatory was back online Cpt. Cortez, the Vesta Mining Station's current commander and supervisor, had it pointed in the direction the white hole was detected.

Most of the Station's inhabitants were still paralyzed by the shock, and confused by what just happened.

The surface of Vesta blocked the line of sight of the observatory to the white hole, so he would have to wait for Vesta to rotate far enough. And surely enough, it did. Few could make sense of the images the telescopes of the station showed. A blinding light, with little smears casting shadows onto the detectors of the telescope. As the light faded, the smears became silhouettes. It soon became clear that these were heading towards the asteroid. A short time later, interplanetary communications came back online, as well as the uplink to an orbiting railgun sattelite, intended to keep the station safe from smaller asteroids. Images from its camera explained the cause of the massive earthquake. The asteroid had been pulled from a vaguely spheroid shape into the shape of a teardrop, by the gravity of the short-lived white hole. Remarkably, its orbit hasn't been altered significantly.

The silhouettes have since become clear images. It was a small fleet of spaceships of unknown origin.

The station's AI had sent out an SOS through the station's various communications systems. The SOS would still take several minutes before reaching the next human ship, and even longer before it reached Earth. The speed of light is still a barrier only Tachyon cannons and Warp Drives can cross, or so everyone thought. As soon as the SOS was recieved, the two most advanced Terran ships in service were sent towards Vesta.

"Ares station, this is Terra Fleet Command. Helios Fleet is ordered to relocate to Asteroid Vesta immediately, the station there sent out an SOS, and are being approached by ships of unknown configuration and origin. You are authorized to retaliate to any agression with full force. Time elapsed when recieving message: 14 Minutes".
Helios Fleet was the name given to two experimental ships, the TXC Columbia and TXC Constitution. These unfortunately, were currently Stationed near Mars, which in turn was close to the opposite side of the solar system of Earth. It took over an hour between the SOS being sent, and the ships being dispatched, and then they were still over a week away from Vesta. By normal means, that is.

The TXC Columbia and TXC Constitution were identical in construction, but what set them appart from all others were their warp drives. In the late 23rd century, human warp drives were still rather crude, and would create small gamma ray bursts upon arrival, which would destroy any electronics on a planet below if a ship was to jump directly to a planet, not to mention the damage to the biosphere. These two ships had the first warp drives without that issue.

"Ares station to Helios Fleet. We have just recieved orders from Fleet. You are to go to the Asteroid 4 Vesta ASAP, apparently the station is being invaded by Aliens, or...something. Oh, and make them into a nice fireworks display if they shoot you." Ares station is a relatively small space station build into Deimos, one of Mars' two natural sattelites, with a communications officer who doesn't have a very high opinion of military protocol.

In synchronized fashion, the armor plates on the sides near the center of the ships shifted forwards, revealing a mess of wires and structural components beneath. That mess was lifted out of the ship by powerful hydraulics, and would soon begin to unfold into two halves of a ring, meeting above the bridge and below the observation deck. These rings contained electromagnetic field generators that would produce a negative energy desity behind the ship, while also accumulating energy in front of the ship. This caused a distortion in the spacetime continuum, and soon the ships shot off at several times the speed of light. While warping, a ship is cut off from the outside world, as no transmissions get through the distortion without becoming an unrecognizable blue shifted mess. Mere seconds later, the field generators deactivated, and the fusion engines - each ship had 6 of these, roared alive to correct the orbits of both ships.

They had just traveled the equivalent distance between Earth and the Sun, also known as an Astronomical Unit, AU, in seconds, by manipulating spacetime in such a way that a sort of faster than light wave was created, that the ship, and a small bit of untouched spacetime, would ride to their destination. This does however not knock out conservation of momentum. A ship would thus have to use its engines to match the speed of its target, once out of warp.

As the ships left warp, they were still traveling at the velocity they were at in their high orbit above Mars, blasting right past Vesta. They would have to use their engines to match its speed, which would take several minutes. In the meantime, they charged the weapon capacitors.

Both ships were armed with petawatt-lasers, and relativistic mass drivers. No energy source known to man could provide that ammount of energy. Exept gammaphotovoiltaic annihilation capacitors. Otherwise known as antimatter capacitors. Electrons and Positrons produced by the ship itself using lasers and pair production, or taken up at a fuel station, were injected into a chamber coated with a material that could turn gamma rays into electric current. The positrons and electrons were magnetically held in a form known as positronium. Structurally similar to Hydrogen, but composed of an electron and its antiparticle. And only possible thanks to finetuned electromagnetic fields, without which they would annihilate with eachother, producing pure gamma rays. To charge these antimatter capacitors, positronium was slowly filled into the chamber's magnetic fields, and when needed dropped out of suspension.

The systems required to keep the chamber cool are quite energy intensive. Terran ships use the entire outter surface of a ship as radiator. As consequence, the ships became increasingly obvious on the sensors of the unknown ships.

Unimpressed, the aliens ignored them. The Columbia proceeded by loading one of the relativistic mass drivers, railguns that spanned the entire length of the ship, capable of accelerating a half-ton projectile to 2% the speed of light. These weapons had pulsed antimatter catalyzed fusion engines at the rear, because the recoil was extreme. The projectile was turned into plasma in the process, and a bright lance of nuclear fire emminated from the nose of the ship.

The aliens finally took notice, but didn't reply in any way to the communication attempts of the ships. Until one of their ships was instantly vaporized, as pulses of the PW Lasers of the Columbia hit its hull. These lasers would transfer so much energy to the target, that most would instantly evaporate, or at the very least melt. Those weren't very large ships, and as consequence couldn't absorb much energy. The result is catastrophic.

The ships were attempting to communicate on all wavelengths available, and various forms. Radio transmissions, microwave bursts, light signals, laser signals. All attempts were met with silence. The message basically said "Leave this solar system or be destroyed.". Terrans are rather xenophobic and severe.

After half an hour, the captain of the Columbia, the flagship if you will, gave the order to engage. And so they opened fire with all their weapons. The aliens couldn't put up much of a fight, as their fleet consisted purely of mining and research ships. They launched their nuclear mining charges towards the Columbia and Constitution, wrecking one of the Columbia's engines, and two of the Constitution's lasers. The aliens began to flee rather swiftly after most of their fleet had been incinerated. By the end of the engagement, both ships' exteriors were glowing red hot, and they were venting hot coolant to cope with the heat produced by the lasers and antimatter capacitors.

The Mining station on Vesta was however destroyed, as an act of Scorched Earth, or in this case Scorched Asteroid, they launched some of their mining charges at the station when fleeing.

This was Earth's first encounter with the Hydrian Conglomerate, an alliance of sentient species that have all independently evolved on the moons of Upsilon Andromedae d, but at similar paces. Upsilon Andromedae is a binary star system with 4 planets, and one of the stars being a red dwarf in a wide orbit. But my no means Humanity's first contact with them, as the colonists of the Gliese 581 system encountered them haf a century earlier, on more friendly terms.

Edited by Sgt. Rho, 20 February 2014 - 22:18.


#2 Sgt. Rho

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 22:15

And here's another one, on the origins of the Glisean Union.

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"Exodus", Years 2065-2280

In the years leading up to World War 3, the then recently formed Europa, the successor of the European Union, comparable with the United States of America in some regards, realised they could not win such a conflict, and decided the best course of action would be to abandon Earth. And World War 3 had become inevitable. Now, Europa had plenty of experience dealing with space travel. They landed the first humans on Mars in 2038, in cooperation with NASA and Rocosmos, and designed the ship used for the grand tour mission in the 2050s. But an interstellar journey is something that has yet to be attempted. Specially one of such magnitude.

Europa held much of the energy production capability and ressources on Earth, primarily due to their highly developed network of Fusion Reactors and Fuel Cell energy storage facilities. Additionally, they had something everyone wants: Fresh water. By the 2060s, clean water, without having to build massive purifiers, had become a valuable ressource. And the European atlantic coast had massive untapped fields of Methane Hydrates, which had displaced Oil as the primary fossil fuel. This lead to them having a monopoly-like control over Energy, not to the amusement of China or South America, both of which were still far behind Europa on Nuclear Fusion.

Here's the thing about evacuating an entire Continent. How do you evacuate 4 billion people? Do you even evacuate 4 billion people, or just send a fraction of the population?
The choice was made to evactuate all 4 billion people in the end.
Enormous sleeper ships would be built, an entire fleet of them.

But they weren't ready when WW3 broke out. July 28th, 2067, that is the date the missiles started flying. Most major countries had ASAT capabilities by then, and most nuclear missiles never made it to their targets. But enough did.
Forget the Tsar Bomba test in the late 20th century. These were Antimatter bombs, with a yield reaching several Gigatons for the larger ones. Numbers that mattered little to the people in cities like Beijing, New York, Rome. In less than half an hour, 3 billion people died, almost a quarter of Earth's population at the time. Not only were the cities that were hit destroyed, but everything around them. Tens of Kilometers around the impact sites were incinerated, the shockwaves themselves traveled even further.

That was just the beginning. The nuclear war threw enough material high up in the atmosphere to start a nuclear winter. Temperatures dropped everywhere, harvests were lost, and the fallout would end up being fatal for another billion people. But the war was far from over. For years to come, the superpowers of Earth, that is Europa, the US, South America, China, India and Russia, would fight eachother, to the last man if need be.

Europa was fairly hard to get into. Enormous fortresses lined the border between Europa and Russia and China. Their purpose was however, not to defend Europa, but to delay the fall as long as possible, so that as many ships could be constructed, and as many people evacuated as possible. Early in 2074, chinese antimatter bombs broke through, and annihilated large parts of the "East Wall". It was then time to go. Few more ships would be completed by the time the Chinese-Russian military reached the space port in Toulouse.

With all its might, the European Military had no chance against the Juggernaught that the tank batallions of Russia and China were. And they were relentless. Even nuclear mines would only delay them for a few hours, until those outside of the blast radius had caught up. In less than a week, they had blasted their way to the border of France. At that point, there was no European Military left to slow them down. In a desperate attempt to buy the evacuees time, the entire way from northern italy to Toulouse was converted into a nuclear minefield. The war had already been lost before it began, nobody seemed to have an issue with nuking their homeland at this point.

The many shuttles were still left by the time the Chinese-Russian Military reached Toulouse. Those that could moved to the British Islands. Heathrow Airport was one of the few regular airports capable of supporting space planes. Toulouse soon disappeared in a flash of nuclear fire, and several mines on the route to the Eurotunnel had already detonated. What was left of the European Navy was positioned in a blockade between the British Isles and the European mainland. To no avail. Russian Akula tanks could cross the channel almost as easily as crossing land.

Akulas were hover tanks. Hovering roughly 1 meter above the surface, and armed with phased plasma cannons. Essentially a railgun that would turn the projectile into plasma, and fire it as a beam at any target within a few kilometers. No armor could withstand such heat, and so the European Navy was no threat to them, more of a nuisance. And the Russian and Chinese lost not a single soldier in their rapid conquest of Europe. Akulas are robots, equipped with rudimentary AI, and shielded against most forms of electronic warfare, including EMPs.

Within the day, they reached London. No more nuclear mines were placed, exept a tripple antimatter bomb right underneath Heathrow, that would be detonated as soon as the last Shuttle that could had left the runway and reached a minimum safe distance. 12 Teratons was the yield of that bomb. When detonated, it would tear a hole in the crust comparable to the crater left by the impact that killed the dinosaurs.

And so it did. "Minimum Safe Distance" in this case meant "Low Earth Orbit". As the last shuttle approached the Exodus Fleet, the gamma ray sensors on all ships spiked. A blinding flash was easily visible from Orbit. Debris was flung so high up into the air, some sattelites were hit by it. The shockwave consumed most of western europe, seemingly in slow motion as seen from space. A half-a-kilometer high tidal wave was also racing across the atlantic, and would soon destroy most of the african and american atlantic coasts.

The Exodus Fleet was parked in Geostationary Orbit, waiting for the final shuttles. Each ship identical in size and construction, carrying millions of colonists in hibernation. But they looked unlike what sci-fi novels would tell you. Enormous plates of armor, 4 of them, stacked in front of the ship. Behind them a long truss, not far behind the armor plates were enormous tanks, half filled with Hydrogen, the other half with Antiprotons. Extending in an x-fashion were structural trusses leading to four proton-antiproton engines. Dangling a kilometer behind the engines were the habitation and cargo sections, as well as a lightweight centrifuge in which a crew of genetically modified humans would live for the 200 years that the trip to Gliese 581 would take.

Gliese 581, in the early 21st century astronomers discovered several habitable-zone planets around that star, 21.5 lightyears away, or 200 years at just over 10% the speed of light. Only one of the planets was habitable, but the others had probably habitable moons. It's a rather unremarkable Red Dwarf star, so all planets in the habitable zone would either be ungodly huge, or tidally locked to the star. That means, one side is always facing the star, and burning, while the other side is in permanent darkness and freezing. But there is an area between these two extremes which may have very earthlike conditions.

The last shuttle docked, the passengers quickly moved to their designated hibernation pods, the cargo was stuffed into the cargo section. Until that point, solar arrays provided the power needed for the ships. But those would only add weight on the trip, and become useless mere months into the journey. Each ship had a set of fusion reactors and enough deuterium-helium 3 fuel to provide power for 300 years, more than enough for the trip. These were powered up, and the solar arrays jettisoned, like cutting the wings off a Butterfly.

The ships steered clear of the resulting cloud of debris, and finally fired their engines in sequence, so that no ship would damage any other ship. Bright blue-white flames errupted from the engines, and the ships seemed to stretch. The result of the light structure of the ships. The hibernation and cargo modules were "hanging" from a long tether behind the engine section. This construction style saved mass, which in turn made it easier to build the ships. Most of the materials were mined from asteroids, exept one. The Antiprotons were produced by a network of particle colliders scattered throughout Europe. These would normally produce the Antihydrogen (And Antiproton and a Positron) that Antimatter Bombs use as fuel, but was expanded and repurposed for the Exodus Fleet.

The fleet accelerated for a year, and would then coast the rest of the way to their target. Once there, the ships' frontal armor plates would be detatched, the ships would then spin 180° degrees, and redock with the armor modules, shortly thereafter the engines fired. The armor plates were neccesary, as at 10% the speed of light even a grain of dust could hit with the force of a small nuclear weapon, as well as induce nuclear fusion upon impact. In additon, there were several ultraviolet lasers mounted on the armor module. These would ionise interstellar hydrogen in the path of the ship, and then accelerate it around the ship using electromagnetic fields, to compensate for the drag produced by moving at such high velocities.

Gliese 581 was not picked only because of its abundance of possibly habitable worlds, but because it would take anyone trying to get there also take centuries, and it was estimated that nobody could build a warpdrive for another 500 years at least, by which time a colony would already have been established and developed to such a degree that it could fend off invaders.

216 years after begining their voyage, they were entering the Gliese 581 star system, and starting up the engines again, that have been dormant for two long centuries and 15 years.
Not all ships survived the voyage, and some would even be lost during this final leg of the journey. The antimatter containment fields on two ships failed while entering the system. They were instantly destroyed.

The fusion reactors of the ships were located at the end of the habitation and cargo section, and could act as fusion engines. As the fleet entered orbit around Gliese 581c, the third planet of that system, they cut the trusses that held the ships together for the entirety of the voyage, and jettisoned the armor modules. Each ship carried several reusable SSTO shuttles that would be used to transport goods and people down to the planet. The antimatter drive sections rejoined with the armor modules, and boosted themselves into a higher orbit. Meanwhile, the fusion reactors transitioned into engine mode, and put the ships into a polar orbit that matched the habitable stripe on the planet, so that they could land at any time.

It was the beginning of a new civilisation, on a new planet, and none of the mistakes that almost destroyed Earth's biosphere would have to be made again. There would be no need to drill for oil, since fusion reactors could provide all the power a civilisation may ever need., if oil existed there in the first place, that is. There is also no need to contaminate the environment, since resources can easily be gathered off-world.
Gliese 581c also has an enormous moon with a thin atmosphere, that could be terraformed and used for farming.
Unlike Earth's green plants, on G 581c, plants are black. Since the planet recieves much less light from the star, plants have to absorb more light. As consequence, rather than Clorophyll A and B (which absorb Red and Blue light), plants there have another substance that also absorbs Green light.

#3 TheDR

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 23:04

I really liked the imagery of the massive bomb being denoted below Heathrow. I can imagine the crust of the planet being split in two. The majority of it seems well thought out and detailed. However it's quite hard to read because it's chocked full of exposition.

Your 3000 words has nearly enough explanation for half a book. It feels more like a detailed plan than a short story. It's not necessarily a bad thing for someone noting down their thoughts, however it does make reading it a bit choppy. The flow is constantly being broken up by lots of detail unrelated to the plot at hand.

Focus on a particular battle, create some characters and let them interact with the world (a more involved point of view would be nice, smelling, hearing, seeing) and explain less, which in turn can add some mystery to the story.

Exposition wise, my advice would be to deal it out in smaller chunks and to show not tell. For example, the second story could be explained from the point of view of a pupil at a school learning about the history of the universe (you could have a character doubting the truth of the history, feeling like it's just spoon-fed propaganda). Or even a heated debate between two people sympathetic to different sides of the conflict.

Good luck and keep up writing.
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#4 Sgt. Rho

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Posted 21 February 2014 - 14:23

Thanks, and thanks for the advice too.

Well, my background - that of a graphical artist - creates the temptation to visualize everything. And I find it very easy to "lose" myself within the story, and end up writing much more than I planned to.

#5 TheDR

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Posted 21 February 2014 - 19:50

No problem, I'm glad I could help.

On the topic of visualizing everything, I completely understand and have done a similar thing to you in the past. One of the hardest parts of writing is deciding what to leave in and what to take out. It becomes doubly hard when it's a short story because the time frame to explain all the concepts and ideas is limited. I've found that leaving out portions of explanation actually adds to the story and tension (as long as they don't end up as plot hole).
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#6 Bakelitu

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Posted 14 December 2020 - 21:52

Since you have been working on Ardent Seas for so long got any Story/Facts about it? |8
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#7 TheDR

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Posted 15 December 2020 - 09:09

I still agree with the majority of my 2014's self advice, but the grammar needs work. Keep trying Kyle B-
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#8 Sgt. Rho

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Posted 16 December 2020 - 10:09

I haven't done a lot of actual writing since then. i do hope my grammar's improved a little, though. Thanks!

I did write some bits for Ardent Seas, though.

https://www.devianta...Astra-580455542

https://www.devianta...2-A-L-697787650

#9 TheDR

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Posted 16 December 2020 - 11:01

View PostSgt. Rho, on 16 December 2020 - 10:09, said:

I haven't done a lot of actual writing since then. i do hope my grammar's improved a little, though. Thanks!

I was commenting on my own grammar in my previous posts :P

I think grammar only improves if you work at it. I've found out that the hard way.
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#10 Bakelitu

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Posted 21 December 2020 - 23:32

View PostTheDR, on 16 December 2020 - 11:01, said:

View PostSgt. Rho, on 16 December 2020 - 10:09, said:

I haven't done a lot of actual writing since then. i do hope my grammar's improved a little, though. Thanks!

I was commenting on my own grammar in my previous posts :P

I think grammar only improves if you work at it. I've found out that the hard way.


Das y my grammar sucks I dont work on it
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