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View Full Version : Fractal Federation - Welcome to Mugen - Part I (3200 words)



3blake7
March 5th, 2017, 10:55 AM
I put a lot of work into designing my universe. The goal of this was to introduce the reader to various things in the universe, in a way that doesn't seem intentional.

I'm not a writer by trade so I had to look up some things. Like I was curious about the ratio between narration, action and dialogue. I was also curious if there were any hard set rules about present tense versus past tense and whether the narration is first person or third person. I read that people prefer to use present tense with first person and past tense with third person. I also wanted to know about dialogue tags, because I personally find it a little annoying saying he says, she says.. line after line. When it's just two people talking, its obvious who is who so I drop the dialogue tags when I can but when it's a group I have to use them every time or you wont know who is talking.

----

Darkness.

"Am I awake?"

An omnipresent light gradually increases in brightness and in every direction there is nothing but white. My customized artificial intelligence avatar appears out of thin air, facing me. Angel is dressed in a flowing white dress with large white feathered wings rising out of her back. She spreads her wings and smiles a most intoxicating smile.

"Welcome to Mugen, Max. It is 2632 on Earth and you are now 63 years old. You have been in transit for 6 years. The population of Mugen is 714,285. You may interact with other colonists within artificial reality or you may temporarily download your mind into an android body," says Angel. "Do you have any questions Max?"

I respond, "Nope."

"Would you like me to transfer you to the virtual waiting room?"

"Yes, please."

A room appears around me, with people eating and talking around tables, people walking around, standing in line and getting food from the virtual cafe. In the center of the room is a fountain, spraying water into the air and around it's circular pool, are four consoles, which activate a holographic information kiosk. To the right, there is a hallway with doors that lead you to other star systems and by walking through one, your digitized mind will be instantly sent via laser beam to another star. A second hallway, behind me, has doors for each space station in the Mugen system which provides information on the space station and allows you to download your mind into a vacant android. The third hallway, to my left, leads to artificial reality universes and has doors for all the public ARUs and the private ARUs, if you have access to any. Angel has already interfaced and can provide me with any information, so accessing the information kiosks is unnecessary.

"Angel, grow me a body."

Angel appears. "Hello Max, do you wish to use your standard template or would you like to customize?"

"Use my standard template."

"What space station would you like to grow your new body on?"

"The one with the highest population."

"Certainly. The clone process has begun on the Felicity and your body will be ready in 28 days. Is there anything else I may help you with?"

"Yes. How many players are in The Game?"

"Currently 217 Max. Would you like me to transfer you to the lobby of The Game?"

"Yep."

I am instantly teleported to the virtual lobby for The Game, which is a war room, with a large table in the center, displaying a map of the Mugen star system, with the territories controlled by the two factions displayed in red and blue. There are multiple simulations running and I can scroll through them by swiping my hand through the air. The walls are covered with pictures of various weapons and military vehicles, which change every few seconds. The Game was designed by the Agency Defending Agency 562 years ago. It is the oldest ARU, which was designed to be a one hundred percent realistic, never-ending war simulation. Only members of the ADA have access including those in the reserves. We haven't encountered an alien civilization yet, but it's more than possible that there is some hostile civilization within our galaxy. In The Game, there are two sides; the Red Team is controlled by a single artificial intelligence while the Blue Team is a mixture of human beings and assets controlled by a second artificial intelligence. The purpose of The Game is to train human military personnel, to train the ADA AIs and to allow creativity to generate new tactics and strategies. I personally like to take on the role of a colonel in charge of research and development. The Game allows you to invent anything, as long as it doesn't break the laws of physics.

"Hey," says Alex.

I was caught by surprise. "Oh hey, I'm Max, just arrived here."

"Nice to meet you Max, I'm Alex, I'm 19 years old, I was born here. Are you planning on staying or just passing through?"

"Nope, this was my destination. I'm from Earth and I'm 63 years old but the last 43 years I was a laser beam bouncing from star to star. My body is already in the process of being grown but I'll have to hang out in the virtual world for a month. What space station are you on?"

"I live on the Felicity, it's a TerraSys SC-500K."

"How many ADA people are here?"

"About 21,000. I am having lunch with some of the guys and gals in half an hour, how about you download to an android and join us on the Felicity?"

"Sure, that sounds great. Where at exactly?"

Alex swipes his hand through the air.

Angel says, "You have just received an address Max."

"Thanks Angel."

"Angel huh?"

"Yep, she has white wings and everything."

"Like The Avians?"

"A little different. Angel, change display to all."

"Cool."

"Would you mind catching me up on your sim while we wait?"

"Sure."

Alex places his hands above the table, slowly pulls them apart and the display zooms in on the outer most planetoid. "So far the red team has launched thousands of lightsail propelled fusion impact warheads, which were traveling at 20% of the speed of light so there is no way to stop them. They destroyed some of our space stations, some of the Autonomous Self-Replicating Industry and some of our surveillance satellites. They then launched payloads which contained self-replicating nanomachines at most of our moons, outer planets and asteroid belts. We witnessed 18 impacts with surveillance satellites and deployed our fleets to sterilize them with nuclear bombs. Then we began the long search of locating other possible impact sites. The 14th fleet discovered an infestation on our outermost planetoid Marge, 10 years after the attack."

I nod. "Lets transfer to the command ship."

"Blue, transfer me and Max to the to the 14th fleet's command ship," says Alex.

The artificial intelligence, Blue, speaks in a musical voice, "Transferring."

Instantly, Alex and I are on the bridge. Alex is wearing an admiral's uniform and I'm wearing a vice admiral's uniform. There are tactical displays manned by simulated humans and a view port filled with stars and a small planetoid. Behind the captain's chair, there is a large table, displaying the positions of the 14th fleet around the planetoid Marge.

"We don't have enough missiles to destroy all the larger machines and even if we did, some of the nanomachines would survive and start replicating again," says Alex.

"What we need is a sample of the nanites, so we can develop a counter-measure and release a predatory self-replicating nanomachine," I suggest.

"We already have a sample."

I say, "Blue, analyze the hostile self-replicating nanomachine and devise a predatory self-replicating nanomachine."

Blue responds, "Analyzing.. Analysis complete. Engineering.. Engineering complete. Producing.."

Alex advises, "We should probably go ahead and bomb what larger machines we can, then we can direct another fleet to finish them off."

I ask, "Do they have defenses yet?"

"Doesn't appear so. They seem to be devoting their entire industrial capacity to expanding that capacity. They probably didn't expect us to locate the infections so quickly."

"What's the chances that there was another impact site that you have yet to discover?"

"We think this is the last one. If we missed another impact site, it would've had the time to replicate to a size where we would've detected it by now."

A display starts flashing red and the captain moves the zoomed in video to the large display. "Sirs, it appears that the infestation has re-prioritized and they are starting to build defenses."

"They probably detected us," suggests Alex, "Blue, open a line to all ships in the fleet."

Blue responds, "Line open."

"Admiral to all ships in the fleet, coordinate targeting data and begin assault, exhaust all missiles minus one thousand."

All twenty of the ships in the 14th fleet, each with three hundred thousand missiles, began launching hundreds of missiles per second. Through the primary display, we saw the entire surface of Marge blanketed in explosions.

Blue interrupts, "Production complete."

"The nanites are ready. Captain?" I ask.

"On it." The captain walks over to the ship's communications station and contacts the weapons officer.

Alex says, "We need to contact the 12th fleet, they are the closest and will have the ordinance to finish off the larger machines."

"Blue, open a line with the 12th fleet," Alex orders.

"Line open," responds Blue.

"This is the admiral on the command ship of the 14th fleet. We have identified an infestation on the planetoid Marge. We will be exhausting our entire missile inventory, minus twenty thousand in reserve, in order to destroy the larger machines within the swarm. I am requesting the assistance of the 12th fleet. Please rendezvous with the 14th fleet and assist in the eradication of the infestation. We have also released a predatory self-replicating nanomachine and will be monitoring it's progress. It is zero-nine-two-two with a delay of zero-zero-five-seven, receipt of message at one-zero-one-nine." Alex looks towards me and says, "send."

Blue confirms, "message sent."

The captain informs, "the nanite warhead is ready sir."

"Fire at will," commands Alex.

"Aye, fire nanite warhead!" the captain responds.

The command ship launches the missile with the nanite warhead which impacts the surface without causing an explosion.

I say, "The predatory nanomachines could be countered if their nanomachines detect a threat. It's possible they have an artificial intelligence already or they could have some defensive nanomachine blueprint stored in their molecular memory."

"We are still decoding their molecular memory. It wouldn't surprise me if they have the blueprints. We'll just have to wait and see," responds Alex.

"Well, not much we can do now. Lets call it quits and I'll go download to an android."

"Sounds good."

"Angel, transfer me to the Felicity's virtual lobby."

Angel appears, "transfering."

Instantly, the bridge of the 14th fleet command ship disappears and is replaced with new surroundings. The room is solid white and empty, with the exception of a single console for a holographic information kiosk. I activated the console and learned that the TerraSys SC-500K is a ring type space station with a maximum population of five hundred thousand. The Felicity has a radius of 2.8 kilometers, with 57 floors, a width of 250 meters and gravity ranging from 10 to 9 meters per second squared. It has a completely self-sustaining ecosystem that uses the power generated by solar panels to recycle waste back into useful forms.

"Angel, show me the available androids."

Angel appears and then 10 androids appear, standing in a line.

"I'll take number 4."

"Certainly Max, transferring your mind now."

Everything goes black and is then replaced by a room, with lifeless androids standing with their backs to the walls. Being in an android body always feels a little strange. In artificial reality your simulated brain is identical to your biological brain, all the senses feel real but the android body has it's own sensors under it's artificial skin and it just feels a little off.

"Angel, show me a transparent map with my current location and the destination."

"Yes Max."

A transparent map appears in my field of vision, with two dots and a line connecting them. I leave the room and outside is a hallway with people traveling in both directions. In the center of the hallway, there are two speed walking conveyors going in opposite directions. I get on the speed walk conveyor going left and walk three districts over and then I get off and walk to my right, which is a hallway with four elevators. I press the down button and the elevator door opens, I get in and press the button for the first floor. The elevator stops, the door opens and I walk out onto the first floor, which is four stories high. On the ceiling there is an an illusion of blue skies, white clouds and a bright star. There are storefronts on both sides of the hallway and apartments above all the stores, which have views overlooking the bustling first floor. There are strings of lights dangled from one side to the other, people window shopping and so much chatter from thousands of people talking. The circumference of main street is 17.5 kilometers long but my destination is only six shops down. When I reach my destination, there is a large neon sign above the door that says, Philly's Cheese Steaks.

I walk in and the hostess looks up. "May I help you?"

I reply, "I am here to meet Alex."

The hostess grabs a menu and says, "right this way."

I follow the hostess to a table at the back right side where there are five people sitting, including Alex.

"Is that you Max?" asks Alex.

"In the synthetic flesh."

Alex points at the person sitting to his right. "This is Janice, she specializes in ground warfare." Then Alex points to the person second to his right. "This is Oscar, he specializes in ocean warfare. This is Jose, he specializes in air warfare. Lenny specializes in cyber warfare and then there is me, I specialize in space warfare. Everyone, this is Max, he just arrived at Mugen. Pull up a seat Max."

I grab a chair from the nearest table and sit down. "Nice to meet y'all."

Janice nods. "What experience do you have?"

I respond, "I'm still working on my first science degree and I've only been in the ADA for 2 years. I want to specialize in Research and Development."

Oscar says, "Nice, you are just as qualified as we are. We could use an R&D specialist. What do you think about joining our crew?"

I reply, "Why not."

The waiter walks over and places two plates in front of Lenny and Jose. Each plate has a fifteen centimeter cheese steak and a pile of waffle fries. "I'll be right back with the rest."

Jose and Lenny speak over each other. "Thank you."

I say, "It looks good. Too bad my android body can't smell the wonderful smells."

Alex responds, "Well, you can always go to the virtual cafe and experience the smells and tastes without having to worry about your figure."

Everyone laughs.

The waiter returns with a circular tray with three plates on it. He sets the plates in front of Oscar, Alex and Janice. "Is there anything else I can get you?"

Janice and Oscar look up and shake their heads no.

Alex says, "No thank you."

The waiter responds, "Enjoy."

Oscar says, "The best thing we can do to protect our star from hostile civilizations is early detection. If we have enough surveillance satellites and enough fleets strategically placed, we can eradicate an infestation before it becomes too large for a single fleet to handle."

Jose responds, "That's a good point. The infestation on Marge is already beyond the ability of a single fleet. It took us years before we got to Marge and by then the self-replicating machines had already infested the entire planet and had the industrial capacity to launch a major offensive."

I say, "I agree. If they hadn't focused their entire industrial capacity to increasing that capacity, they would have been able to build a defense. Me and Alex were just in the sim before we came here and we depleted our entire missile inventory, which was way bigger than what you typically see on ships that size. We had to redirect the 12th fleet which is over a year away. We did release a predatory self-replicating nanomachine but they could develop a counter-measure of their own. If that doesn't work, by the time the 12th arrives, they would have already regrown to the point where there won't be enough missiles. The best option is surveillance satellites around any raw materials which could be used for self-replication and then arm them with thermonuclear warheads."

Lenny adds, "What about the laser propelled light sails armed with fusion impact warheads? The warhead will be relatively small and won't be emitting any radiation that we could detect. It doesn't even use a primary fission reaction to set off a secondary fusion reaction like thermonuclear warheads. Instead, it uses the kinetic energy of a warhead going 20% of the speed of light; the impact will create the required temperature and pressure to ignite a fusion chain reaction."

I respond, "It might be possible to detect the light sails, by using a wide beam laser to sweep the space between Mugen and it's unexplored neighbors; we could detect reflections. We may also be able to detect the light sail's infrared emissions while it's being propelled using lasers but we would have to pick out the signal in their native star's emissions, which won't be easy."

Alex suggests, "We should probably build tens of thousands of light sail fusion impact bombs and go with mutually assured destruction. At relativistic velocities, they would be impossible to defend against. Then we should have satellites armed with thermonuclear missiles around every location a self-replicating nanomachine could flourish."

Janice adds, "If we want to be really paranoid, we should relocate every space station and every satellite every 2 years. That way, if they send a relativistic probe to get positions of potential targets, by the time they act on that information, it's already out of date."

Oscar says, "They might anticipate their light sails being detected. They could launch a light sail propelled warhead, then the warhead could detach and fire it's thrusters. Even if we detected the light sail, we wouldn't know the velocity and position of the warhead."

Alex says, "We should restart the simulation. I really wanted a space fleet but it really doesn't make sense."

Jose says, "Some space warfare expert you are."

There is a moment of silence while everyone takes a bite out of their cheese steak or waffle fries.

I say, "Terraforming of Mars and Venus should be done back in Sol. It will be 44 years before we get to see any pictures though."

Alex replies with his mouth full, "We are terraforming a planet called Mugen Prime but the ASRI is still building supertankers; it's not even in phase 3 yet."

There is another moment of silence as everyone eats.

Oscar says, "The head of our ADA is from Earth, he's 537 years old and has 11 grandmaster titles and 66 master titles. That is all through conventional education too, not uploaded to a cybernetic implant or anything."

I respond, "I can't imagine being that old, it must get really boring since you've already done everything. I'd probably spend a few decades in the Wizarding World ARU or something."

Jose laughs. "I play that."

Janice says, "Do you know where you are going to live yet? Have you gone through orientation or anything?"

I respond, "Nope, literally just got here 2 hours ago."

Janice says, "Felicity has some vacancies."

Oscar says, "Yea, there is one in my district, sixth floor."

I look at Oscar. "What's the number?"

Oscar responds, "It's D06B093."

I say, "That's different than what I've seen."

Oscar smiles. "I can explain. The space station is divided up into six districts, from A to F. The next number is what floor you are on, which can be anywhere between: 1 and 57. There are two hallways, with residential areas along the windows and the grow rooms are in the center, between the two hallways. Residences facing the Mugen star are on the dayside, while residences on the opposite side are on the nightside, which is indicated with an A or a B. The last set of numbers indicate your specific residence. The first three floors are different, since it's all commercial and there are more than 2 hallways. The hallways start at A on the dayside and end with G on the nightside. Got it?"

I respond, "Got it, thanks!"

Alex adds, "The districts align with the second tier of the cellular democracy, with each district having 281 community zones. Once you get settled in, you should talk to your community executor."

Oscar says, "Our community executor is awesome, you'll like her."

Red lights start flashing in the restaurant and a siren starts going off.

Alex says, "Probably a decompression drill."

The hostess waves at some people outside of Philly's to get them to come in. Six people come in before she closes the door and seals it.

bdcharles
March 6th, 2017, 11:02 AM
From what I have read of the above, your extract reads fine and I had no trouble following who was talking and at no time did the dialogue tags intrude. I suppose the fact that you are thinking about this stuff suggests you're alive to the nuance of it and therefore able to work it out in your writing and catch the rhythm of what flows and what doesn't. So basically there are no rules about it; it's just a matter of what you can make work with your writing style.

Bard_Daniel
March 9th, 2017, 01:55 AM
Your dialogue read fine to me. As bdchales mentioned, it's all about finding what works for your style of writing and what does not.

I liked the interaction between your characters and the concepts in your universe. Interesting stuff. It reads with a certain degree of finesse.

Thanks for sharing and keep on writing! : D