• Hey (name)! This is a general announcement to all of our members that we have a growing Alternate History and Creative Writing section that is increasingly seeing new content. If you haven't taken a look lately, please do so and perhaps leave a comment or reaction if you read something you like! Let's support our writers!
  • For those of you who would like to support the Sietch financially, subscriptions are BACK. Simply click on Account Upgrades and you will be able to upgrade your account!

Battletech Welcome to the Dark Age (SI)

Chapter 1: Welcome to the suck

PsihoKekec

Swashbuckling accountant
Comrade
Joined
Aug 23, 2019
Reaction score
12,128
Location
Slovenija
There were occasions when I woke up due to muscle cramps, a bad way to wake up, but this is worse, much worse. It is like all of the muscles in my body are rebelling. My throat is as dry as the desert and I make my hand move to the right, despite all of the protest by the muscles, in order to find the stand next to my bed, where the glass of water is. I don't open the eyes yet, my mind works sluggishly, but at the same time as I register there is something stuck in my left arm, the right hand finds the metal bar at the side of the bed.

I freeze. This isn't my bed, this isn't my home. Where am I? How could someone move me without waking me up, I'm not that hard of a sleeper. I move my right hand to whatever is stuck in my left hand and feel a thin tube. IV? Metal frame bed would make sense for hospital. Must be hospital, it's a safe place. But what would land me in a hospital without me knowing? Perhaps I rolled out of bed and hit my head. Brain aneurysm in my sleep. Truck through window? As I remember, the hospital has alarm buttons for patients, better find it before I need to go to the toilet. About that that, is the weird feeling down there a catheter? Best not to roll on my side then. I open my eyes and see pitch black, only slight outlines of room. My bedroom always has that glow at the door from the streetlamp. Button should be at easy reach, probably near my head, so my right hand begins slow exploration along the side of the bed, with my shoulder muscles protesting at their use after what seems to be long vacation. I sure hope it wasn't. Then my fingers found what might be the delivering button near my pillow and fudgingly pressed it twice. Now all I have to do is wait, it must be night and I don't know how far the nurse room is. Oh right, they have nurse shortage, so there might be single overworked nurse doing rounds just now or is on the toilet or fell asleep... I will just have to push down the black thoughts and wait a bit. Since I probably don't have any sense of time right now, I'll just wait an eternity or two before pressing the button again. But first I'll rest my hand a bit, before my shoulder goes all French on me and declares a general strike.

Waiting, thinking, waiting, thinking, trying to warm up my muscles without too much movement. I can feel all of extremities, so there is that. But I think I can already feel headache starting. Probably from lying for too long. Then the door opens, but the hallway is only dimly lit and it's like I can't really focus my sight. The lights in the room came on slightly and the figure turns to me

''Please do not move sir, your muscles have athropied somewhat.''

Why is she speaking English? Where am I? I try to raise the question, but only dry gargle escapes my throat.

''Your throat is dry sir, my colleague will bring the water, just one moment.''

She seems to have keyed the intercom.

''Helen, the unpronounceable patient in 39b is responsive, bring the kit.''

Did they move me abroad for treatment? Wait, responsive? Was I in coma?

''Sir, your eyes are not used to light I will put the coveralls on, because I will need light for work.''

Suffice to say it was an unpleasant experience of nurses doing medical stuff to me, still much better than the scalpel, chisel and hammer removal of molars. Once my throat was hydrated enough for words to come out I tried to ask the nurse what was going on, since I first tried in Slovenian they thought it was just some gibberish from incoherent patient, so I switched to my somewhat adequate English, but they only reassured me I'll be OK and that the doctor will arrive in soon, they didn't have full access to my medical file anyway.

It was a long wait, with me wondering what happened to me, how my family took it... In short, not happy thoughts.

Finally I could hear different footsteps than those of the two nurses.

''Good morning mister.''

''Good morning.''

''Now can you tell me please your name.''

''Boštjan Žnidaršič''

''Ah so that's how it's pronounced.''

''Now Boštjan, what is your last memory.''

''Getting into bed, now can you tell me what happened?''

''In a moment. Can you just tell me what the date was?''

''It was Sunday, middle of August, was it 17th or 18th?''

''This would mean you have amnesia going back for more than half a year before the accident, but it could be temporary.''

Half a year, is it already 2020?

''You see in March 3130 you suffered serious accident during regimental exercise, a freak system whiplash hit you through your neurohelmet and you have been comatose since.''

The sheer amount of words that did not make sense in this sentence was staggering, I just couldn't compose coherent response, so incoherent noises had to do at first.

''I understand it is hard to digest what I told you, but we are the best institution for such care on Valexa and we will help you recover.''

This must be some weird joke, was I really in coma and someone put up a distasteful wake up prank, or was I sedated? In any case someone needs sound trashing and I'm sure some of my friends and relatives would be willing to lend a helping hand. I thought of switching to Slovenian, but they spoke their English without the accent my country mates usually have, so they probably wouldn't understand me.

''Please cease this charade, I am no bloody time traveller, just get me out of this bed and back home.''

''Calm down mister Boštjan, you will have to undertake extensive physical therapy in order to be able to leave the hospital and that's not taking into account the therapy for brain damage.''

Then nurse interjected.

''I think you should ask him what year is his last memory from.''

''From the year 2019'' I told without waiting for the doctor to ask me.

''You mean your last memory is from 3119? Long before your enlistment?''

''No, my last memory is from the year two-zero-one-nine, there is no way I skipped m... mil... mil...''

''Millennia?''

''And a century.''

''Well mister Boštjan, my speciality is physical part of comatose patient treatment, the issue you are having is covered by my colleague Dr. Smythe who will be arriving within an hour. Now for you to physically recover from your ordeal I will need you to cooperate with me and heed my instructions. Can you do that?''

''Will it mean I will be able to go to the toilet instead of doing it in the bed.''

''Absolutely.''

Of course in the beginning it meant that a nurse, built like brick shithouse, manhandled me into the wheelchair and took me to the toilet. Thanks to muscle stimulant treatment during the hospitalization my muscles were still there, I just needed to restart them and make them remember the motor functions. I will need to wear the shades for some time though. My head though... Various scans shoved everything to be in working order. The psychiatrist was absolutely delighted to work on my case, I suspect she is looking forward to publishing articles about this in medicine journals. So her theory is that combination of traumatic brain damage and comatose dreams made me switch between fantasy and reality, with my previous interest in 20/21 century Terra and culture of my ancestors leading to my subconscious adopting the persona of random guy from the past. And since being a mechwarrior was such big part of my life I reimagined it as computer/board game to play. I was quietly entertaining two theories. Either I am comatose and this is just a dream, but several painful attempts to wake myself up, which I passed up as accidents from being all clumsy from long sleep, I came to conclusion that I can't wake myself ''from the inside'' and will just have to play along. Also everything is all too coherent for a dream. Which leads me to second theory. Act of random omnipotent being. Which I will just have to play along. I have dismissed the prank option as several of my scars have vanished, while others which have faded over years are well visible again. In other words, my body got younger by at least decade.

I was moved to the general section of hospital and I received my personal belongings that were stored in the hospital in case of me waking up. Just some clothes and wallet with my military ID (I must have been in a foul mood when it was taken), some pounds and bank card (still valid). All my earthly possessions. Orderly told me though, that other possessions would be either with the next of kin or, since I was soldier at some depot at base.

An official from the department of military administration also visited me, explaining my position. My enlistment is coming to an end and while AFFS will pay fully for my treatment, as injuries were suffered in the course of duty, my current state means that I would have to newly enlist if I wanted to continue my service as I would have to be trained from beginning. And I would not be accepted for mechwarrior training again in order to prevent any medical complications from any kind of negative feedback. My back pay is on my bank account. And my unit, 5th New Avalon Hussars rotated out of Valexa three months ago. He also mentioned that my accident was caused by faults in no less than three components, leading to some serious complications for Johnston Industries, apparently some in AFFS really don't like the Garm. I wonder why.

So I was left pondering. I accepted that I am in the world of BattleTech, hopefully there is still copy of me in the real timeline so my family isn't wondering how and why I vanished. I am stuck in a shitty part of the timeline in realm that is going to get bent over the barrel badly. By Space North Korea and Space Japan of 1930s. And there is nothing I can do. I don't have smartphone with prophetic documents, I only know some bits of this era I remember reading on forums and I have no way of reaching those making the decisions to pass over even those little tidbits. If I publicly post what I know I will be considered just another loony, albeit one with a tragic back story (nice guy, promising mechwarrior, but then freak malfunction fried his brain, really sad). Maybe they would believe me once the HPGs fail, or maybe not. Maybe I should just enlist in AFFS get into infantry or armour and get killed when Capellans come calling. So thanks a lot ROB, thanks a lot. Even Jihad would be better than this.

So I was brooding between the therapy sessions until two visitors handed me what I can best describe as plot hooks from the DM, welcoming me to the era of suck.
 
Last edited:

PsihoKekec

Swashbuckling accountant
Comrade
Joined
Aug 23, 2019
Reaction score
12,128
Location
Slovenija
Well, here goes my first attempt to write something since highschool. I hope it won't suck as bad as Dark Age does.
 

prinCZess

Warrior, Writer, Performer, Perv
Comrade
Joined
Aug 11, 2019
Reaction score
3,427
Location
Off the Rez, on the Warpath
But first I'll rest my hand a bit, before my shoulder goes all French on me and declares a general strike.
Like the way you set up the paragraph preceding this as a running and jumbled listing of thoughts and actions. I also feel like I should give fair warning that this final line made me laugh out loud, and I am going to be shamelessly stealing it for my own use in the future.
''Good morning mister.''

''Good morning.''

''Now can you tell me please your name.''

''Boštjan Žnidaršič''

''Ah so that's how it's pronounced.''
And, again, this got a laugh out of me. Thank you.
Only point I'd raise is to use 'He said' or 'I said' during those extended back-and-forths between two people so it's easier to follow who's talking.

Your English is very good, by the way. I didn't even question if you were a non-native speaker until 'you' were confused by the nurse speaking English herself. Occaisonal dropped...prepositions, I think they're called? Words like 'A' or 'the' and stuff like that, and I've seen plenty of fanfics by native speakers which are much worse about it :p.
I hope it won't suck as bad as Dark Age does.
From what I've heard from other folks on the internet, since I dropped out of BT lore at the FedCom Civil War, I don't know if it's physically possible to suck that bad. I only ever hear how much of a dumpster-fire the Dark Age is.
 

kelgar04

Comrade
Comrade
Joined
Aug 19, 2019
Reaction score
421
From what I've heard from other folks on the internet, since I dropped out of BT lore at the FedCom Civil War, I don't know if it's physically possible to suck that bad. I only ever hear how much of a dumpster-fire the Dark Age is.
More like a landfill fire that got hit by napalm and kept burning for a year and set the nearby sewage works on fire causing a massive spill into the nearby drinking water and poison the water table.
 
Chapter 2: ROB drops some hints

PsihoKekec

Swashbuckling accountant
Comrade
Joined
Aug 23, 2019
Reaction score
12,128
Location
Slovenija
''Mr. Boštjan, you have a visitor, he is waiting for you in the inner lobby. ''

Well, I was finishing my therapy and it wasn't far from here to the lobby, so I took it slowly. There was only one person sitting in the lobby, a middle aged man in business clothes, who might as well have ''lawyer'' tattooed on his forehead. Legal matters, how quaint.

I suppressed my existential dread and moved to meet the man.

''Mister Žnidaršič (he butchered it, but so does everyone, that's why they just call me by first name), I am Francoise Besquerwith from Mitchell & Dimitrov, we represent Saffren Dynamics Group here on Valexa, is there somewhere we can talk.''

''Well I don't really have an office here, so we can talk either here or the garden that is down the hallway on the left.''

He thought for a bit, I got impression he wasn't exactly enamoured with the seats here.

''Then let us walk to the garden.''

''So what did I do to catch the attention of Saffren Dynamics Group?''

''It is not written, but I reckon that getting your name into papers was it.''

''I haven't followed papers since I woke up, was there really much attention?''

I knew there was some media attention to my case, but told the administration I don't want to deal with it while undergoing medical care.

''There wasn't a media on world that hasn't ran the story, you weren't the main story though. But it seems it was reported offworld as well, such curiosities are always welcome to fill the pages. And someone saw fit to inform Vice President of Saffren Dynamics Group about your case. I gather you two are related?''

I gave him perplexed look.

''I wouldn't know anything about it, I lost all of my memories.''

There was a bit of pause.

''Well fortunately for you, he hasn't.''

He sat on the garden bench and started working the briefcase lock, then took out a white sealed folder with some logo and passed it to me.
Comstar logo?

There was single page in it.

Greetings Boštjan, my name is Joffrey Žnidaršič and we are cousins, going back to Janez Žnidaršič who moved from Lyran Commonwealth to Federated Suns during the rule of Hanse Davion. Word has reached me of your predicament and as one of the few kin I have left I wish to render you assistance. If you are to accept my offer I have arranged through solicitor firm in our retainer for you to travel to Markesan where I reside.

Looking forward to meeting you, Joffrey Žnidaršič




Well, this certainly looks like a plot hook a from DM to pull the players into right direction, early in the campaign.

''So this whole proposal...'' I gave a clue that I would like additional explanation.

''Our firm does not know the contents of offer, but we have been informed that if you are to accept it we are to book you passage on a jumpship to your destination along with money for travel expenses.

''How long do I have to confirm it?''

''The reservations for the travel are already being made. I am not familiar with jumpship schedules, but we will probably know in few hours, do you want me to contact you then?''

I think about it for a bit. All that was waiting for me here is uncertainty. Well, Markesan is also uncertain, but there might be something to it. Possibly ROB making sure this adventure isn't so boring. But there are some matters I need to settle first.

''I need to ask the doctor if I am even capable of travelling on a jumpship due to my head damage. I won't go before doctor declares me medically fit. Also my discharge from military is in three days I am supposed to stay at least until then.''

''But in general you agree with Suffren Dynamics Group proposal?''

''I am most intrigued. What kind of enterprise are they?''

''Their biggest divisions are consumer electronics and entertainment media, they also have interstellar transportation division.''

''And mister Žnidaršič?''

''I don't have much knowledge about him, we don't do much work for them, but from what I know he is gradually taking over day to day handling of corporation from his father in law.''

''Tomorrow I will know whether I will need further examinations, so if I can contact you then?''

With practiced move he handed me his business card.

''I have lunch from 12.30 to 13.30, otherwise I'm in office. If I'm visiting a client you can leave message with company secretary.''

''One more thing Mr. Žnidaršič (he tried to mimic my pronunciation with certain degree of success), do you mind travelling as a passenger on a cargo dropship? Their passenger cabins and amenities are usually rather spartan, but they are more common than passenger dropships.''

''I don't mind. At least not yet''



I wondered later why would some rich CEO care for amnesiac cousin multiple times removed. You don't become CEO of mayor corporation by being nice guy, is this token good deed quota for the year or something calculated? I just hope the guy is not an unholy combination of prince Joffrey and former Who Wants To Be a Millionaire host. That would be bad. Very bad. I mean, rich man you never knew before, is inviting you to meet him far away? This scenario usually ends with body parts in seven different trash cans. But then, why would this rich CEO go searching for targets several jumps away? I guess I need to stop thinking up darkest scenarios for everything and grow some sense of adventure instead.

---

Well, doctor Starling (yes seriously) told me that the scans and tests don't indicate any dangers from hyperspace jumps, but they can't predict everything, so he had me sign a form that I'm travelling on my own volition, to secure hospital from any ambulance chasers and prescribed me dralaxine to take as precaution before the first jump, but since I didn’t have TDS in my medical carton I will probably be fine. Doctor Hassen drafted regimen of physical exercise for me to follow in next two years and appealed to me to continue exercising even after completing this regimen. Sound advice I wish I had heeded when I was younger. Doctor Smythe was devastated to see me want to depart, for a moment I thought she would refuse to sign a discharge form, she really wished to continue picking my brain for a few more months. I get it, I must be the most interesting patient she had, but she already has enough material for articles in medical journals and all she can discover in this head of mine is that I don't really believe to have lost my memory, but quite the opposite, what I claimed came to term as comatose fiction is still reality to me. And so is this. Maybe insanity is not such a bad option. Anyway she gave me some advice on keeping my mental health and I promise to come additional sessions before departure for Markesan.

Later I contacted Besquerwith and confirmed my acceptance of invitation. He gave me date of departure, so between discharge from hospital and liftoff, I'll have eight days to experience the capital of Valexa. Putting down the phone I noticed that there is man waiting for me to finish, which was weird as there is another pay phone just to my right. He stepped forth and pulled out an ID.

''Hernadez Davilla, DMI, I need to speak to you.

He was a well built man in his forties and gave impression that he didn't start his career behind the desk.

''We may use the garden.''

''Not the Kuritan way I presume?''

''Unfortunately I left my thousand times folded katana, that I bought from genuine samurai in some back alley for five pounds, in my other trousers.''

''So you are getting your memories back?''

''I am not, but I learned enough by now to know that Draconis Combine is cosplaying the 1930's Japan.''

''Cosplaying?''

''Pretend play. Now why is DMI interested in me, is there something buried in my lost memories?''

''It is a matter of your own safety. How much have you relearned of Federated Suns history since you woke up?''

''Just the bare basics.''

''DMI officer with the 5th Hussars passed me your DMI file before the regiment returned to its posting. What do you know of Victoria war?''

''We either won or lost the war, I will need to read more about it.''

''There was world named Mitchel, it was badly hit during Jihad, so the remaining population lived in domed cities. Our forces took the world, but when Capellans counterattacked they didn't just target our forces, they systematically breached the domes and slaughtered the population, instead of trying to retake the world. The only survivors of Mitchel are people AFFS managed to evacuate and Capellan Confederation considers them and their descendants to be traitors.''

''And I'm one of the descendants?''

''Exactly, your mother was born there. During service you were warned you would be executed by Capellans if they captured you. Also you could be targeted by Capellan sponsored terrorists, one such attack killed your parents.''

I thought of my parents and envisioned them getting murdered.

''Hanse Davion should have excised Liaos like malignant tumor they are.''

I hope I'm the only child in this reality, it's horrible enough my parents here were murdered for the sin of being alive, it would be even worse if my siblings were murdered alongside them.

''A bit late for that I guess, they are too strong now.''

''Is there anything in the file about any surviving kin in the file?''

He gave it a bit of thought.

''There isn't, but it was only information MIIO passed us, regarding safety of, let's say Michelites in the AFFS. But attack was bombing of meeting of Mitchel survivors on Frazer, so if any of your kin were alongside your parents in the blast range then they were probably killed as well. If they weren't, then it is possible MIIO would give them new identities to make them less of a target, however that is not information they would share with us. But the issue here is you, if the Maskirovka has you on file as a descendant of Mitchel survivor, the media attention might get you targeted.''

I still thought of myself as boring accountant and being targeted by an interstellar secret service sounded really implausible.

''Would Maskirovka really expend resources to murder a single amnesiac guy of no importance?''

''Normally they wouldn't, but there is always some fanatic wanting to impress the Divine Wisdom with his devotion to state. There are periodically actions by them that really defy logic''

''And Valexa is border world.''

''Exactly.''

''Is there any pictures of me in media?''

''They got a couple in the uniform.''

''In uniform'' floats around my brain for a bit, before settling for a soft landing.

''Clean shaven.'' I stroked my beard. ''Then this stays for a while.''

''You do realise you are still in service?''

''I will ask for no shaving chit for the discharge day then.''

''Of course the chance of them targeting you are small, the issue of attacks on Mitchel survivors was so far contained in Victoria PDZ.''

‘’Because most of them live there?’’

‘’Well....yes.’’

Thank you very much for stoking my paranoia and general mental black clouds.

''I will be careful anyway, how difficult is to get a gun here legally?''

''If doctors can give you clean bill for mental health, then as ex AFFS you can get permit within week or less.''

‘’How legal are foldable knives?’’

‘’I don’t recall any special regulation about that.’’

Better than nothing then.

‘’Well thank you very much for warning me about this danger, is there anything special I should know about about Maskirovka.’’

Again there was a short pause before he replied.

‘’Not really, their people always do their best to blend in, just like our in Confederation. It’s possible they would try to put a hit through criminal underground. However this is not like in holovids, where such matters are put in motion with call or two, it usually takes time.’’

‘’So if I, for example, moved to somewhere in Crucis march within weeks time, would it would be unlikely for them to organise a hit on me?’’

‘’More or less. You are still a target of little importance, not worth of burning out their people on the ground. They would make sure to their cover is safe and that takes time.’’

Oh well, that takes some newfound weight off my chest. +1 to incentive to go to Markesan, +1 to tragic backstory and +1 to hatred of Capellan Confederation.

We talked for approximately half a hour, I learned a lot about current security situation in the region. I decided to try a little future prognosis.

''You think Capellan Confederation would be capable of doing what Amaris clan did, amassing decades worth of military production in hidden depots, for rapid buildup in case of war.''

''Actually, this what many in the department fear. Confederation is totalitarian nation with pervasive security service and complete state control over media, they can pull this easily. But our higher ups think that since it would be hard for us to do it, it must be even harder for them to do it.''

''That kind of rationale had led to disaster throughout the history.''

He made a grimace, ''Apart from Victoria War, we have been at peace for the last fifty years, I think the higher ups believe it will remain so for the next fifty years, so their thinking athropied a bit.''

''That doesn't sound good.''

He gave me a reassuring smile

''It's not that bad I'm just a professional worrier. I have been taking too much of your time already, it is time for me to go. I hope we meet again before you depart.''

''Likewise.''

It took me some time to realize that he was listening to my telephone conversation. How rude of him.

---

I told doctor Smythe about my family in the next session, she was surprised by it, it should have been marked in my file, no known next of kin usually just means they can't find them, not that they were blown up by scumbags serving an asshole with delusions of godhood. Anyway she immediately theorized that my loss of family influenced my subconscious to build a new reality for me. Now she was even more eager to pick my brain some more.

Discharge from hospital was a quick formality, discharge from AFFS on the other hand was bureaucratic nightmare that was completed in one day only because some of the people I dealt with took pity on the poor guy who was crippled during service here. The biggest problem was that all the gear I was supposed to return at discharge had vanished, either taken by 5th or nicked. In the end everything was deemed destroyed in the accident, including my dress uniform.

So I got a weekend to kill in the capital. I got to tourist information center just before they closed and they found me a B&B in the outskirts, within easy walking distance of subway (although I'm repeatedly informed that my definition of walking distance is a bit off in Western society). Sleeping in a non-hospital bed in non-hospital room after long hospitalization is a bliss. Next day I went shopping, two duffel bags, several sets of clothes, appropriate shoes and few other necessities, just enough to fit in one duffel bag. After eating a good shepherds pie in a nice English style pub I went to fill the second duffel bag.

So there I was with full belly, full wallet and empty duffel bag, standing in front what seemed to be well stocked mom &pops book store. Normally I would limit myself to just couple of books, sometimes leading to downright agonising decisions. But not today. Today there are no brakes on the shopping spree train, FOR I AM UNLEASHED!!!

Oh dear I hope I didn’t say this aloud.

Quick look around failed to spot anyone looking at me like I just ranted like a maniac, which means I didn't vocalize my inner thoughts.

Time to make the biggest book purchase in the history of my life!

It was a really nice store, the kind of that makes bookworm like me feel right at home. I once dreamt of a bookstore like this existing in my hometown, I actually felt a pang of sadness when I walked by the place next day and there was no bookstore there. There was also section for second hand books, expanding my selection. I first delved into historical and contemporary military matters books, along with general technical books. As I started looking for novels to balance the weight of knowledge on my shoulder I was startled by a female voice.

''Sir why are you putting books in the duffel bag?''

I turned around to face the girl of, I don't know, high school age? I'm really terrible at judging the age of the people. Sure looked like she is destined to become librarian though.

''Because you don't have any shopping trolleys here.''

''Sir, this is bookstore, not a supermarket.''

''I know, I'm looking to buy books.''

She was looking really confused to me and was giving me the feeling like I'm one of those horrible customers who make the lives of retail workers living hell. A really terrible feeling if you are not an utter scumbag.

''But with the duffel bag?''

OK, looking for compromise here.

''Would it be better if I left the duffel bag at the register and brought the rest of the books I pick there?''

''Well yes, but why do you need so many books?''

''I'm behind on my reading and I'm going on a lengthy journey soon.''

That calmed her down a bit, but she was still vary, like she expected me to, I don't know, perhaps to bolt for the door, carrying off the books without paying?

''By the way, do you carry any works by George Macdonald Fraser or Joe Abercrombie?''

''I haven't heard of them, but maybe my father has, I can ask him.''

As I feared father never heard of them, so I will probably never read the remaining Flashman novels, unless I find some specialized library or if Inner Sphere has its version of Project Guttenberger. Or I can convince the First Prince to lend me a half a dozen RCTs for a visit to Sarna.

Dragging my haul back to my room I pulled a notebook I bought and started writing down everything I remember about the Dar Age. It wasn't much, but it was bad, especially for my two favourite realms. I need to find a way to inform someone about it but how? I will need to check what passes for internet here in the next days.

---

Well the countdown to departure consisted of final sessions with Doctor Smythe (please don't cry for me, the truth is that half of what I told you is total bollocks), exploring the capital, especially the beautiful nature museum and trying to get the hang of the system in the computer cafe. At this occasion I would like to take back everything bad I said about Microsoft. OK, let's be realistic, 70% of everything bad I said about them.

With no chance of getting in contact with the decision makers. I decided that the most I can do for now is to launch some of the facts as a rumor aimed at conspiracy theorists. Perhaps the powers that be will take it seriously when HPGs fail.

+Stormchaser has logged in+

+Want to hear something weirder than that amnesiac?+ -Stormchaser-

+Like what?+ -Jollygreen-

+Phantom blackbox messages PDZ command received last year+ -Stormchaser-

+29 in three days+ -Stormchaser-

+And they only use them in excercises these days, no regular traffic+ -Stormchaser-

+Thus no unit possessing them sent anything in this timeframe+ -Stormchaser-

+What were they about+ -Dragonforce-

+Standard AFFS encryption, but no valid decryption key+ -Stormchaser-

+Took them months to decrypt+ -Stormchaser-

+Then they filed it under noneofyourbusines+ -Stormchaser-

+No details how I got to read them, because it's official offense+ -Stormchaser-

+They had time stamps from 3135 to 3149+ -Stormchaser-

+Mostly unit status reports and news bulletins+ -Stormchaser-

+News from the future, I like it+ -Jollygreen-

+Collapse of HPG network some time before the first message is referred to in multiple messages, but no date is given+ -Stormchaser-

+ Rising of armed nationalistic factions in republic is mentioned followed by invasion by capellans, dracs and falcons+ -Stormchaser-

+Somebody important named tucker harwell was kidnapped by comstar faction and kept in a secret comstar base, allegedly destroyed during in jihad. Details mentioned in 3148+ -Stormchaser-

+Harrison Davion negotiated for alliance with republic but died in unclear circumstances+ -Stormchaser-

+There is remark that we can't double our forces overnight like capellans did+ -Stormchaser-

+Republic pulled remaining forces back to prefecture x and deployed some kind of hyperjump jamming technology, nothing gets in or out+ -Stormchaser-

+This one takes the cake i think. Wolves and lyrans made a deal for wolves to move to fwl border and they jointly invaded fwl successor states. Jessica marik united the remnants+ -Stormchaser-

+Then wolves turned on lyrans and raced to tharkad against falcons coming from the other direction. Lyrans defended the capital but army was gutted.+ -Stormchaser-

+New falcon khan thinks she is second coming of ghenghis khan+ -Stormchaser-

+Coordinator and his entire family are assassinated. Few years later the new coordinator is described as kanrei's puppet+ -Stormchaser-

+Sounds like fun time all around+ -Guardian-

+Invasion first by dracs and then capellans. Robinson and New Syrtis fall. -Stormchaser-

+Forces gathering on Palmyra for counterstrike against dracs are destroyed by drac ortillery. Twelve rcts and lcts are lost, first prince killed.+ -Stormchaser-

+Bullshit, AFFS would never concentrate so many units on single world.+ -Guardian-

+WTF is ortillery+ -Dragonforce-

+Second in line for throne was apparently sent to lc to help fight the falcons and wolves. Was recalled, but no mention of him returning.+ -Stormchaser-

+First Prince after Harrison would be Caleb and I tell you that guy sure looks like he has a few loose screws+ -Jollygreen-

+Ortillery is short for orbital artillery. Warships and PWS can do it.+ -Guardian-

+New Avalon falls in 3146+ -Stormchaser-

+I call bullshit+ -Guardian-

+RAF surges out of the prefecture x sometime before 3148 but is defeated.+ -Stormchaser-

+I too don't believe New Avalon would just roll and submit+ -Jollygreen-

+Five way battle for Terra, wolves win+ -Stormchaser-

+Wolf khan proclaims wolves to be the illclan and formation of the new star league+ -Stormchaser-

+The last message mentions that federated suns leadership considers the wolf terms to be the only option for survival as nation+ -Stormchaser-

+This is load of tripe+ -Chargersfan9-

+That's all folks. What I wrote here can cost me my job, so I'm using one time handle and getting out.+ -Stormchaser-


Well, this is my first feeble attempt to warn the universe. Now to see what ROB has in store for me on Markesan.

Damnit, I was so focused on typing my text, I forgot to ask the Dragonforce person if it's nickname comes from obscure 21st century band, overly focused on playing fast. Probably not, but I'll take any chance to get some metal and rock music, readily avaible selection here is abyssmal.
 
Last edited:
Chapter 3: Across the stars and far away

PsihoKekec

Swashbuckling accountant
Comrade
Joined
Aug 23, 2019
Reaction score
12,128
Location
Slovenija
While digging up info on Markesan before departure I did some calculations and came to realization that it must be autumn on its Southern hemisphere now and it will be early winter when I'll arrive. Since this hemisphere of Valexa is in the middle of summer, I couldn't find any shops selling winter clothing in the short time available, so I'll have to do with layered clothing until I can run into closest overpriced clothing shop near the starport. Just few hours before departure I remembered that due to my clean shaved picture in the ID, I might get into trouble with security, so I had to find a barber, to perform emergency beard removal.

At the spaceport my anxiety and depression from being a stranger in a strange land and never seeing my folks ever again was increasing with every moment, as the time to travel further away to even more uncertain fate was coming close and even perceived exhilaration at the thought of SPAAACE TRAVEL!!! could only slightly dull my doom and gloom.

Well the path I took certainly wasn't the most glamorous. Bored crew member met me at the loading area, lead me to the passenger room and told me to read the passenger instructions on the wall of the room. The passenger accommodations on this Mule consisted of two rooms with four bunk beds each, luggage compartment, communal bathroom/toilet along with access to lounge and mess hall. Everything else was off limits. This being cargo ship, it means no windows and the single projector in the lounge was not showing the liftoff, but some sports program, so my experience can be summed up as, ''it was rumbly until we left the atmosphere'', although experience of all that mass ripping off from the clutches of the gravity was peculiar, to say the least. Flight to the jumpship was done at tolerable 1.2 acceleration, well tolerable to everyone but one passenger who complained about everything. I mean, the idiot lived off the snacks from the wending machine instead of perfectly good food from the kitchen. If there is one thing I learned in the army is to never say no to a warm meal, even if it's just macaroni with minced meat sauce from the can. Oh, and how to properly fold my clothes. Come to think, the homemaking skills that conscription service would instill into young men would probably halve the divorce rates down the road, a compelling argument for its reintroduction.

I was given timeline for jump, so I could take dralaxine in time and it still felt wrong. It was like my brain was pulled through my eye sockets, with lungs and guts going along for the trip. No pain, just weird nausea, but I heroically managed to keep my food down. Unlike the idiot. Vomit is never a pretty sight and it's even more revolting in zero-G. Everybody tried to escape the lounge ahead of the expanding rancid cloud, with exception of annoyed crewmember who had to vacuum the barf. I bought him a drink later. The crewman, not the Maximus Vomitus. Also, taking dump or piss in zero G sucks, literally and figuratively.

It's a good thing that a passenger ticket included gravity deck allotment during every recharge, so I could escape the cabin fever build up, as I have never been in an enclosed space this long without the ability to go outside. Not to mention that bitching and moaning from Mr. Idiot started to grate on my nerves fast. I used my allotted time for exercising and to eat a meal normally, then moved to zero-g observation area to have a look at the stars from much different perspective than what I was used to. I recall that in my childhood I could see lot more stars than I could later on (probably due to somebody coming up with a bright idea to place street lights in the village), but this was something completely different than the Milky Way I saw in my childhood, it was absolutely mesmerising. Someone has printed and laminated cue cards for the jump points, so you could identify important stars, if you could get your bearings that is, I always tried to find the system we jumped from and the one we would jump to next. And there was of course the sun, never thought I would see one that is not Sol, never mind multiple. There were also sun-gazing glasses in the observation point as even with the thick polarized glass it wasn't good idea to look directly at it with naked eye. It also wasn't good idea to stay at the observation point too long, if you didn't want to get the spaceburn. As I forgot to buy the sunscreen on Valexa, I heeded the safety warnings. Guess who didn't and looked like tomato afterwards?

These few distractions aside, the travel to Markesan was a lesson in dullness even with all the books I had, thus not improving my mental state. The good side was that I had much better understanding of the universe I was in, which combined with my limited ''insider'' knowledge... well I had absolutely no idea how to put in use. I had no proof to show I'm not just a raving loony and no access to important people to use Flerris* method of reverse deductive thinking. Just waiting for the ROB to hook me up with the plot hook. Preferably not in a slasher movie way.

Just like with the aircraft, the roughest part of Dropship flying is the landing, but to be honest, I expected more oomph from thousands of tons and metal touching the ground, I could remember several rougher aircraft landings from my past life.

Now, while getting onto the dropship on Valexa was easy enough, getting off was entirely different matter, at least here on Markesan. Apparently the other Dropship came from the planet with E level health warning and since we used the same Jumpship, everyone was subjected to standard E-level procedure, which means we had to strip, do a full body wash with something that stings a bit, they took our blood and stool samples (laxatives were provided for former if you didn't want to wait) and all our worldly possessions were disinfected. Judging by reactions of everyone but Mr. Idiot, this is fairly common procedure in interstellar travel.

Thus I found myself at the information desk, where I got handled an envelope with directions, invitation and a key card. The grandmotherly employee at the desk explained to me that the autumn is lasting longer this year, so my clothing is not a problem and there is no clothing store at the starport anyway. I took a fast train to the Lakesville main station and a underground ride with four changes (there ought to be only two, but I made a mistake), finally arriving to an apartment building, where a flat waited for me. Travel is always tiresome to me, so I only put the sheets from the wardrobe closet onto bed, showered and went to sleep despite being only 9PM local time , putting one of the knives under my pillow, along with a small flashlight. The fresh sheets always feel good, perhaps even in prison, but I'm not in a hurry to test this theory.

I was awoken at roughly 7 AM to someone flushing a toilet a floor or two above me. After weeks of dropship bunk, this was a really refreshing sleep. After some biscuits I saved from yesterday I put on some casual clothes and went outside looking for some place that serves a breakfast. While I was really hungry, I still decided to pass the fish & chips place and see if there is anything else. I wasn't disappointed, for O'Higgins Balkan Food is certainly a place I would be obliged to visit, if only out of morbid curiosity. The place looked more like Irish pub, and sign on the wall proclaimed ancestral recipes passing from generation to generation, going back to Terra, but since proprietors couldn't look more Irish if they, well... did something very Irish, I had my doubts about the claim. But burek, even if not Mladost tier, was palatable enough and included yogurt, so I was willing to cut them some slack and continue the patronage of their fine establishment for the reminder of my stay in the Lakesville.

I decided to hold off my wardrobe shopping until the meeting is done and I knew where I stand, so I only looked up the nearest supermarket and stocked up my fridge and pantry a bit. I channel flipped TV for the first time and it was an alienating experience and the existential anguish I was suppressing since waking up was coming to the forefront with full force. In news they were talking about events that were totally alien to me and people I knew nothing about. Downbeat I turned off the TV, put on my ''office'' wear, packed what I needed into my sling bag and went out for a walk to calm my nerves. Weather was lovely, but I was restless and nothing could calm me. Remember the school, when you were studying for important exam, but the more you learned, the more you were aware of the gaps in your knowledge and on the day of the test, during the classes before it, you were more and more conscious of your unpreparedness? Well, this was exponentially worse.

I tried to read a book in the park, but couldn't focus, so I took off walking, going through the city for hours, seeing people going normally through their every day errands. I guess normal life wasn't all that different from 20th century, this being the future of the 80's after all. Although I didn't see that many examples of 80's hair. But then, this isn't 3025 anymore. I first planned to take the underground to the financial district, however restless as I was, walking there seemed better option.

I arrived before the Saffren Dynamics building a good hour before my appointment and handed my invitation to receptionist, who handed me the visitor pass and gave me directions where to go, once I'm left in. So I languished in the lobby, trying to read the book and watching the minutes pass by, proving again how relative the time can be.

Finally, shortly before five I left my soft but not comfortable seat and went through security, where they thoroughly checked me and relived me of most of my earthly possessions. Since this was 9-5 business, I was soon faced with human torrent going the other way, but at least there was no problem getting a place in an elevator going up. The area I arrived to was completely deserted, I knocked on the office door and took a seat on what I assume was a waiting chair.

Several long minutes later door opened and a man greeted me.

''Ah, mister Boštjan, I'm glad you could made it, how was the trip?''

''Boring, but thank you for invitation and the ticket,'' I replied as we shook hands. Medium build, blue eyes and brown hair, could pass for a relative on my father's side.

''Well yes, interstellar travel is not exactly an opportunity for sightseeing, unless you are an avid stargazer. Please come into the office.''

It was a regular office, which was not in line with position he supposedly held in the company, not to mention the fact that we were meeting after working hours.

''This isn't your office I presume.''

''Perceptive,'' he smiled, ''but I will need to borrow access to Human resources terminal , which is best done in their office.''

He sat himself behind the desk and took a pose which implied he will do some talking.

''Now, while I'm all about helping a relative in need, I must admit I have practical motives as well, now have your memories began returning.''

''They haven't, doctor believes that short of frying my brain again, the chances of recovery are below 1%.''

''That is unfortunate, but still, I believe I can find a work for you within corporation. How are your skills with computers or vehicles?''

''I can learn the different operating systems and programs, but with vehicles, while it is possible muscle memory is still there, the conscious knowledge isn't, so I would have to relearn it, thereby it would be best if I for example took driver lessons and retook driver's test.''

''Sounds fair, can't be too careful about those things. Now despite the loss of your memories, do you know of the term OPSEC?''

What has that to do with corporate job?

''Operational security, it means not blathering out the confidential information and responsible handling of all information sharing mediums.''

''Good, because you see it is not only important in the army but also in the business world, as corporate espionage is a major problem.''

''And inter-corporate backstabbing?''

His smile grew a bit larger as he leaned a bit further back in his chair.

''We prefer to call it internal shenanigans and it's even worse problem.''

''The more the things change, the more they stay the same.''

''Like in the army?''

''Like in my ''other'' memories.''

He creased his forehead a bit as he leaned forth.

''You are referring to your condition?''

''Yes, the memories my mind created while in coma.''

''What was it exactly, the newspapers tend to be not particularly informative.''

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

''According to doctor, well, doctors, I suffered mental trauma, with my parents being murdered and me being notified shortly before the accident. Then my brain got fried and my sub consciousness built an alternate reality in my comatose dreams, overwriting conscious memories, which shouldn't be possible, but the electric shock must have rerouted my brain functions.''

''I am sorry about your parents, but why is that supposed to be impossible?''

''As they explained to me in layman's terms, the brain functions which allow for creation of memories shut down when you sleep, that is why you can only remember parts of dream when you are near wakefulness, but the shock kept that part of the brain active all the time, recording the remarkably coherent dreams as actual memories.''

''Remarkably coherent?''

''The dreams you remember, how long does it take for them to turn into something illogical?''

''Not long I guess, and in your case?''

''I have decades worth of memories of living a normal life on Terra, a millennium ago, all perfectly useless.''

''Were they able to find any other explanation?''

''Only that some random omnipotent being switched two people in two different points in time and space, but they are a bit reserved on that one.''

''Can't see why, it seems perfectly plausible,'' he replied completely deadpan, ''but anyway if you are willing, I can offer you a basic desk job, with opportunity for professional training and advancement. Are you interested?''

I smiled. ''Is it bookkeeping?''

''Something like it, you would be working in logistics.''

I shrugged.

''I can do the spreadsheets''

''A skill that might serve you well, however, you will be required to also learn the basic operation of exoskeleton and work mech, so you can transfer to other department as needed.''

Desk job, while also learning both exoskeleton and work mech?

''Since you mentioned OPSEC before, I reckon there is more here than it meets the eye.''

''Ah, you remember it despite me changing the topic. Good, too many people are scatterbrains these days. You see corporate shenanigans are afoot all the time, but as of lately even more so, so I need additional pair of eyes and ears on the ground to keep me abreast of situation.''

''Yes, I am sure that as Žnidaršič I will be most inconspicuous.''

''I have fake documents ready for you.''

''That's illegal.''

''Don't worry, I have cleared it with legal department.''

I gave him a long doubting look, nonverbally conveying my disbelief.

''It's legal for use in corporate work, but you will still need to use your real documents in interactions with the authorities.''

''And if authorities want to have my place of employment?''

''We are one of the big boys, we have protocols for these events.''

Wow, Shadowrun without magic and filthy xenos.

''So my task would be?''

''To observe your surrounding and build up your work resume so your transfer to a relevant department later, can be... inconspicuous.''

''Was there a picture of me in these newspapers?''

He shrugged.

''You are practically unrecognisable out of uniform.''

I might as well change my name to Clark Kent then.

''So what should I know about the job?''

''Nothing actually, just be a normal, nondescript worker, learn your way around the workplace, socialize and don't attract undue attention until I contact you. Any other questions?''

''When do I need to move out of the flat?''

''It's one of those we keep for transitioning employees, you can stay there for up to six months.''

He handed me a form he printed.

''Sign here as Derek Nell.''

I put D N on the dotted line, he took one copy of the form and put it an folder which he handed to me.

''Here is all you need to start the work on Thursday. Hopefully this is a start of a long and successful cooperation.''

''Likewise.'' Was all I could come up with.

''Welcome to Saffren Dynamics. Now if you excuse me, I have a busy schedule ahead of me, we shall meet again once you are, shall we say, more grounded in our little outfit.''

We shook hands and said our farewells. The building was eerily quiet at this point, there was probably just a skeleton staff in this huge building between five and nine. I recovered my possessions from the security and went to the underground station. It was getting cold as the sun was setting, I was hungry and I had no desire to walk all the way to the flat. Even as I lay in bed I kept ruminating on the meeting. Employing a relative as a spy in your own company would be rather foolish endeavour, so mister Joffrey is either out of his depth in these corporate games, or there is something else behind. It also dawned on me that I won't be able to make ham and eggs for breakfast because I forgot to buy lard. Such is life for me in the 32nd century.
 
Last edited:

Bear Ribs

Comrade
Comrade
Joined
Dec 25, 2019
Reaction score
6,125
This is really nice. Good to see a fic set in a different era and with different assumptions than "make a beeline for Helm."
 
Top Bottom