a number of anonymous Sigma Psi facets with consciousness
Kinkajou: So XD tell me a story.
XD: My tale is a simple one and perhaps uplifting as well. In our civilisation, our technology had reached a level that enabled us to produce hydrogen simply and easily. This meant that cars were designed to run on hydrogen fuel. The ultimate fuel. Hydrogen combines with oxygen to generate heat (able to drive engines) and water vapour. Energy and power without pollution.
Hydrogen is difficult fuel to use safely. Its use requires considerable technological expertise in the construction of pressure vessels to store it safely and the creation of safety systems to prevent accidents. A Hydrogen leak plus a spark is a bomb. Hydrogen is an incredibly small molecule, consisting of two hydrogen atoms cheering electrons. It is able to penetrate all but the most carefully created joins. And it must be stored under pressure to create energy density.It is however well worth the effort. No Zeppelin disasters for us.
The main problem arising in the mass generation of hydrogen for fuel, is overcoming the problem of activation energy. This is the energy that needs to be put into a chemical system such as water to split it into hydrogen and oxygen. This energy can be recovered and then reused to energise/catalyse the next chemical reaction generating hydrogen. Efficiency demands the ability to recycle activation energy in the creation of hydrogen from water.
Kinkajou interviews Jaruselka, (“A Call to Arms” by Alan Dean Foster).
Kinkajou: Thank you for agreeing to discuss your world with me today. Could you tell me something about the technologies and the people in your world?
Jaruselka: I am a Massood, acting as a soldier for the Weave. The Weave formed as a cooperative of species intending to resist dominance by the Amplitur. We Massood undertake much of the fighting. The Wais are responsible for much of the organisation and technology. The Hivistahm operate as technicians. But there are many other species as well each adding its own peculiar skills to our enterprise.
Kinkajou: So tell us something about the species of the Weave.
Jaruselka: A typical Hivistahm tech would spend most of its time grumbling. Not complaining – but simply muttering under its breath, worrying and dreaming of home as it perfectly executed this or that delicate task. They are superb technicians. And they never balk at taking orders from others.
Like No one else, another of our species, the Wais. I know of apocryphal tales of battered worlds from which survivors emerged filthy and tattered. That is survivors except for the Wais. The Wais seemed to drift through the war and peace alike, accompanied by invisible undetectable cleaning facilities.
We Massood enjoy fighting and running. Often my partnered friends would engage in a barrage of traditional verbal combat as a way of strengthening their mating bonds. Although we fight for the Weave, our partners often exhort us to take no unnecessary risks. We would all want this.
Mate jealousy is uncommon amongst us. Older females often form strong bonds attachment to younger females. Strong bonds also form quickly and easily between genders, an early evolution of and not a societal development. Mutual reassurance and personal support is vital to personal growth, indeed like a form of verbal grouping or tribing. Instead of picking lice from each other’s short grey pelts as our ancestors had done; now we pick neuroses from one another’s souls.
Kinkajou: And you believe that humans are different?
Jaruselka: Yes indeed. I remember when we first confronted Will Dulac on board his boat. He told me what a shock it was to him to see members of our armed group attempting to communicate with him. He was finding it hard to concentrate on what our Wais communicator was saying, due to the presence of three tall toothy monsters (we Massood), who had surrounded him.
Each of us was pointing something short and machined in his direction he told me. He believed they could be implements of peace or devices for reassembling the atmosphere or even measuring body temperature. But instinct told him that these machined devices were something much more sinister. When one of us began to wave one of these pointy lethal looking devices in his direction, he came to a very rapid decision. Escape.
Escape is an unusual choice for us. An individual and self-serving choice. A choice not reflecting the needs of the group. It was a choice very much different to one any of us may have made. A human choice only, I think.
Kinkajou: So you frequently use energy weapons?
Jaruselka: Absolutely. I remember once in combat upon taking a single step I suddenly felt something akin to a sharp blade cutting me on the side. Looking down, I saw a tiny steaming black hole in my uniform just beneath my 15th rib. I knew immediately that there was likely to be a matching hole in my back.
I tried to analyse what vital organs, blood vessels or nerves were in the vicinity of the shot. I tried to guess how long I was likely to be able to keep on going. The problem was no less intriguing for the fact that it was of more than theoretical concern to me.
The Weapon’s effects that I have experienced were when the beam penetrated and cauterised. But that is not necessarily a good thing. It might mean that I would be at risk of dying slowly.
When I finally reached hospital they told me that I had been hit by small-bore been weapon. They told me that I was indeed very lucky. If the shot had been on the left my spine may well have been severed.
Weapons require energy and energy / power can be unreliable.
When in potential combat situations one checks one’s weapon often. One must even frequently check to make sure is fully powered. This cannot often be taken for granted ever since the Amplitur introduced into some battlefields a genetically engineered bacterium which has found Weave power cells the perfect place to breed.
At the time I was shot, I wondered how the enemy may have managed to get behind us in strength on the battlefield. Perhaps an outlying detector failed. It is much easier to blame a military disaster on failure of equipment rather than personnel.
Kinkajou: It seems that your technology is very efficient in miniaturising energy storage and production. Fuel cells in the long-term give much more regeneratable power than simple batteries. The trick is to have a mature technology in fuel cells which can produce energy as quickly as a battery, but much more sustainable in over time. I can see that the Amplitur have even recognised how such an energy technology becomes a valuable military target in its own right if it can be attacked with the right tool. And a bacterium may well be the right tool.Masood Weapon
Kinkajou: How have you found human technology rates against the technology of the Weave?
Jaruselka: Humans to us were an incredible dilemma. Their architecture was primitive, as was their agriculture and art. It is only in the manufacture of weapons that they did excel. We found this aberration intriguing, more so because it posed unexpected problems for those charged by the Amplitur with the local pacification of the humans.
We found it difficult to imagine a species achieving this level of technology and still burning irreplaceable hydrocarbon deposits simple to generate energy. The illogic of it numbs the mind. I’m told that there is not a single fusion plant on the entire planet.This worked to the advantage of the Weave forces when the Amplitur invaded the human home planet. They were totally unprepared for and unfamiliar with the social and technological organisation of the humans. There were no centralised landmasses on the planet. There was no centralised infrastructure, which could be rapidly taken over. The humans do not even speak the same language. Dozens of languages were evident over the entire globe.
On almost all the planets constituent within the Weave, the inhabitants had built a single fusion plant to provide energy for the entire planet. On the human world there were literally thousands of energy generating structures scattered everywhere over the planet.
And for our enemies, the worst realisation of all was that the planet groaned under the weight of previously unused military equipment. Madly gyrating aircraft. Thousands upon thousands of heavily armoured vehicles with large heavy weapons, operated by merciless foes.
The human world for us of the Weave was an inspiration to all of us who fought. Never before had a world in which troops had been landed, been abandoned by the attacking forces. And as quickly as well.
The members of the Weave, I believe, are much more civilised than humans.It is conceivable that one species may come into conflict with another, but once a species has achieved a certain minimum level of technologies – is not possible for members of the same species to continue to war with each other. It is contra evolutionary.
Catastrophe theory proves the species which fights among itself cannot long survive. It will quickly reduce its numbers below the level necessary to maintain a civilisation.But I think the most important aspect of humans to those of us fighting for the Weave, were their inspirational characteristics. They made us feel better about fighting.
I remember fighting in a world of perpetual rain.
The constant rain and the adjacent high snow covered mountains totally demoralised our Massood fighters. We could tolerate the cool weather adequately but not the constant precipitation. Fungus and mildew sprout everywhere including if one was not careful, on equipment and feet.The Amplitur are on this world were winning the war.
The advent of the humans in a very short time totally reversed the title of the conflict. Massood warriors would willingly go forth with human interdiction squads to attack our enemies. Our warriors forgot their miseries and only concentrated on what would give us success.
The humans did for us what the Amplitur to with their mind control and dominance did with their troops. By adjusting the minds of the soldiers, the Amplitur’s troops could be made to forget their misery and to remember what they wanted to achieve. The humans did this for us by example, not by mind control or dominance.
Kinkajou: Thank you Jaruselka: We have been seeking information about technologies such as your energy weapons and the fuel cells that power them, and information about technologies in your world such as fusion power plants. But again you have reminded us, that it is the social issues arising in conflict and even within technological innovations that are the most thorny and difficult. People matter, and as often as not, far more than the technologies they sue.
Alan Dean Foster
A Call To Arms
Alan Dean Foster
A Call To Arms
Kinkajou interviews Rahm: Tzen warrior
(The Bug Wars: Robert Aspirin)
Kinkajou: Greetings Rahm: Forgive me for awakening you. I seek information from you about your enemy. Could you tell us what you see in this picture of one of our cities?
Rahm: It is obvious that the city and probably its inhabitants were destroyed in an attack. There is evidence in the ruins, of attack from above and below as well as at ground level. This indicates an organised concerted attack controlled by intelligence. The extent of the damage would indicate a mechanised attack. But there are other factors here that suggest large beasts causing mechanical damage. It suggests that the “Coalition of the Bugs” was involved.
Kinkajou: How is this situation likely to develop?
Rahm: The situation is dangerous and suggests that we are all vulnerable to imminent attack. It is hoped the enemy grants us enough time to gather and analyse information and to prepare our armies before the battle is joined. Why have you sought me out, Kinkajou?
Kinkajou: You and others like you who are officers, do not make positive and negative judgements. You observe another’s strengths or weaknesses and adjust your actions accordingly. This is why I have sought you out. I believe that you are a warrior and that you are efficient in the performance of your duty to the Empire.
Kinkajou: How should we proceed to counter this new threat?
Rahm: If the coalition of insects utilised the knowledge of the first ones, as we have, is doubtful we would be here today. We Tzen are effective not because we have knowledge, but because we use it. I would also be inefficient as a Commander if I did not strive to obtain maximum effectiveness from each warrior in my command regardless of methods.
The first step is to assemble warriors whose knowledge and skills are capable of dealing with the current threat. If there is a slight edge to be gained by selecting certain qualifications over others, is well worth the time spent. We should look for specific individuals who we feel will be able to fill our needs.
For example, my second-in-command had his original training as a scientist. He feels this enables him to more rapidly observe, summarise and appraise the factors weighing on a specific situation.
He feels this ability would be best utilised by directing the efforts of reserve force, where the situation they are facing would be significantly different from that in the original battle plan. He suggested to me once that he should indeed be the leader of just such a reserve force.
Kinkajou: How should we plan what we need in the coming battle?
Rahm: I think to start we should select an arbitrary number of soldiers and a collection of equipment which may be suited to our task. We should then proceed to see how this specific battle group may engage in and emerge from a conflict.
As we calculate mission success probability and casualties, it will become obvious that different constellations of equipment and different numbers of men may have a better chance of achieving our goal. We can then rerun our battle plan to recalculate our success and casualties.
I feel that implementing this method, by converting unknowns into specific numbers of troops and equipment assigned to the achievement of a specific task, and then readjusting our strengths and intentions, we can evolve an increasingly more successful plan.
Kinkajou: It seems an efficient approach to problem-solving, in unknown circumstances.
Rahm: Well, the most difficult phase in planning a military campaign is deciding on “anticipated casualty rate”. Interstellar combat has made this phase even more crucial. You estimate the number of warriors required to complete the mission after casualties.
Then you calculate your transportation and supply needs based on that number. If you underestimate your casualties, you run the risk of losing your entire force if your supplies and fuel run out why you are in space travelling back to the colony ships.
The High Command had arrived as solution to this problem. They calculate the probable number of casualties and then stick to it.
Essentially they plan to return a specific number of troops to the colony ships. When that number is on board the transports, the ships close their doors. Anyone still outside is considered a casualty.
Kinkajou: This seems very calculated, even scientific approach to planning a battle.
Rahm: I’m not a scientist. I am a warrior. As warrior I am more concerned with reliable observation rather than explanation. If an organism I am fighting breathes fire, I want to know about it, even if no one has figured out exactly how it is accomplished. I am not the most modern of our warriors.
However, throughout our history Logistics and resources are one of the most important factors in combat. In the above example, it is critical to accept that one only has the resources to return say 30 percent of one’s troops back to the colony ships. To plan otherwise is to risk losing not only extra troops brought on board, but the original 30% as well, should supplies particularly of atmospheric gases, run out.
I think this traditional approach to combat marks me as one of the “Black Swamps” generation.
Kinkajou: Yes for the last three hatchings, the policy has been to assign two syllable names to new warriors. Your name, Rahm marks you as a survivor from an earlier era of the Empire.
Rahm: I recall awakening after I had been assigned to one of the colony ships. Reflexively with the advent of consciousness, I looked to my weapons. I felt them there in the darkness strapped to my body. I felt them and relaxed a little, moving on to other levels of consciousness. I have my weapons. I am alive. I am Tzen. I’m duty-bound. I am Rahm.
Having recalled I am Tzen, it does not surprise me that my first thought is of duty before even thinking of my name. It is part of the character of we Tzen to always think of the species and the Empire before thinking of ourselves – particularly in the warrior caste, of which I am one.
I remember flexing my talons. Yes, I felt my body to be functioning efficiently. I was ready to venture forth. Since this day, much of my time and efforts has been involved solely in the services of the Empire in the war against the “Coalition of the Bugs”.
Kinkajou: The High Command would have to be foolish to pass you over for a command assignment, Rahm: Although other Tzen have not always agreed with your decisions, they have never known them to be foolish. This is again the reason I have sought you out for your skill and opinion.
Kinkajou: So what are your specific warrior skills?
Rahm: Much of our training is as infantry, but infantry using machines in combat. I have been involved in complex skirmishes using skimmers, flyers and thumpers. We have routinely used much technology in combat. We act in effect as a form of mechanised infantry, using technology to enhance our own abilities.
The sparkling engines of our craft are noiseless, giving deadly support to our favoured form of attack – namely “surprise attack”. The “First Ones” (the race that developed these engines), were fond of using them for noiseless factories and elevators. As a warrior race, we have other uses for them.We have also in some of our campaigns have utilised power technologies to enhance and weaponry.
The Ants and the Empire utilise the same power source. These power sources were originally all designed by the “First Ones”. This means that the ants can run their machines from our power sources and we can run our machines from theirs.
In preparation for this specific campaign we modified our power sources and changed the configuration of our machines to accept power. The situation then became that we could run our machines from their power sources or ours. The enemy could only utilise their own power sources.
We further developed a new machine that consumes the power of the enemy power sources at an unbelievable rate, and converts it to power which replenishes our own power sources. These are called energy drains.
Mechanisation and equipment are a substantial component of all campaigns which we Tzen have conducted.
Kinkajou: So you use radiated power for many of your machines and weapons in battle situations?
Rahm: Yes. However we do use fuel cells as well. For example, my hand burner has a fuel cell. I acquired one when they were still relatively new and untested in combat. The hand burner has surprisingly compact independent power sources. We were able to use one to cut a tunnel through rock to the outside world from a cave complex in which we were hiding, but used only 3/4 of the power within the fuel cell.
To cut through rock and still have energy to spare, is in itself an amazing if technological feat. Although I was very concerned at the time that my fuel cell was only 1/4 full, it was amazing how much work had been accomplished.
I remember when on one campaign, our position was approached by enemy formations. From their stealth and the focus of their motion, it was apparent that not only had we been spotted, but we were the object of an ambush. Even though we had been on the planet for some time, our fuel cells still retained energy.
Our burners proved crucial and in fact a deciding factor in this battle.
Technology is important in battle. By being able to observe at a distance and to gather information over a distance, one can predict the development of many situations.
For example while we were in hiding after we had failed to make transport pickup in a campaign, we spotted the Scout Flyers of the Empire with increasing regularity. We then realised that an invasion was imminent. Consequently, the reappearance of the Empire fleets did not come as a surprise. We were ready for them.
Kinkajou: Thank you Rahm for all your information. I respect you for your abilities as I am sure you respect me for mine. You have your opinions and I have mine. There is never any question of who is right or wrong.
Rahm: Time is of the essence now Kinkajou: The enemy comes.
Kinkajou: I had not been aware prior to my encounter with you of the possibility of informally convincing a veteran warrior that is in his own best interests to advise another less experienced warrior on the finer points of combat and field survival.
My brief encounter with you has also prepared me for battle far more than any other mental exercises that could have been devised. Energy courses through my veins, heightening my judgement and my reflexes. I believe I will enter into the coming conflict in a state of powered control.
Rahm: I leave you Kinkajou: I feel no desire to wish you luck or to give you last-minute instructions. You are a warrior. You know what to do.
Rahm, Tzen Warrior
The Bug Wars
Rahm, Tzen Warrior
The Bug Wars