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An excerpt from The Dreaming Oceans of San Miguel

From The Dreaming Oceans of San Miguel

Prologue: Dr. Kanas

 

Pale turquoise close to the surface, the color of the ocean water deepened through darker and darker shades of cobalt and navy. Secure in their hardened pressure suits, teacher and student descended with ease, taking temperature and salinity readings, and panning their cameras back and forth across the steep wall, their powerful lights penetrating the growing gloom. A slight current nudged them along at a few knots as they descended. A profusion of branching structures, of different textures, sizes and colors, covered the wall, and huge fans, some three or four meters in diameter, waved in the current. Thousands of hand-sized diaphanous polyp structures hung suspended in the water; most were mushroom in shape, but some star-shaped or tubular, all trailing thread-like tentacles.

“Is this coral?” the young woman asked over the suit radio.

“The easiest answer is, yes it is.” Dr. Kanas replied. What the hell was her name? “It seems to have evolved the same structures and to fill the same ecological niche.” That’s it! “Kirsten, can you give me a measurement of the angle of the wall?”

“Joanna, sir.”

“Huh?”

“Kirsten bailed out, remember? She got seasick on the boat ride over from Camp Gregory.”

“Sorry.” He could remember the scientific names of thousands of species on hundreds of life-bearing worlds, but found a simple name impossible to recall. “Can you give me an angle?”

He knew the angle measurement, and the fact that it had varied since they began their descent. He wanted to make sure she paid attention.

“Well, eyeballing it, I think it’s about seven degrees off of vertical.”

“Good. How does that compare to the surface?”

“There’s no beaches on this island, that’s for sure, but the angle at the surface is about twelve degrees off vertical.”

“Excellent. Now, remember on the boat ride over from Camp Gregory? Do you remember the shape of the island on the horizon?”

“It looks like the top part of an egg.” She paused. “In fact, most of the islands are shaped like eggs.”

“Excellent, Kirst-, er, Joanna. In fact, all of the islands have almost the exact same shape. They just vary in size.”

“Yeah, that’s weird.”

“Very. But can you tell me why that’s weird?”

“Well, presumably the islands have been here for a while, given the coral on the wall here, and the vegetation on the island at the surface.”

“Yes.”

“There’s no sign of erosion!”

“Excellent, Joanna. Remember the storms we witnessed from orbit? Some had sustained winds of 125 klicks, with precipitation reaching one point five meters over twenty-four hours. Surely a force like that would cause some erosion?”

“So, are there big birds in these islands?”

“No, Joanna. I’m sure there aren’t. However, there’s something warm inside them. Did you take infrared measurements from orbit?”

“Yes. The core of each island reaches several hundred degrees centigrade. So, are they volcanic?”

“That’s a decent hypothesis, for sure. Especially given how the islands are grouped in arcs across the face of the planet, but we haven’t found any evidence for plate subduction or sea-floor spreading, have we?”

“Not yet.”

The islands presented quite a puzzle. This particular island seemed to be in relatively shallow water, and for size, measured about thirty klicks in diameter. The hardened pressure suits would allow them to descend to 800 meters. Once they finished poking around down there, they would dig through the detritus on the surface to see what they could find.

“Dive 1, this is Carp. Acknowledge.”

“Dive 1, Carp.”

“We’ve picked up a tremor, Dive 1, six point five kilometers north-north-west of your position, fifteen hundred meters depth. What is your status?”

“Haven’t felt anything, Carp.”

“Advise you surface, Dive 1.”

Shit! We just got down here!

They suddenly began to descend much faster. Some new current, like a riptide, clutched them and pulled them deeper. The island wall shuddered, a shower of coral descending with them. Joanna screamed and turned toward him. Kanas could see her face behind the helmet visor of the pressure suit; her wide eyes looked at him. Fear and nausea gripped his stomach, and he gasped as he panicked.

“Use your suit impeller!” Kanas cried. He had almost lost sight of her in the avalanche of coral, but he could still hear her breathing and her screams. The rumble around them grew to an almost unbearable volume. He tried to use his own suit impeller, but it couldn’t counter the force of the current.

The coral almost obscured his vision as it filled the water and descended beside him. He became aware of a soft light, and realized the polyps emitted a faint pink and blue glow. Over the next few seconds the light grew much brighter, and he saw them swarming against the wall. Below him, approaching fast, he saw a huge fissure that seemed to grow even wider as he descended toward it. The polyps seemed to swarm into it, their light illuminating the seabed. He glanced at his gauges and saw that he had reached more than 900 meters in depth. He no longer heard Joanna’s breathing or her screams. He grasped and then held a rocky ledge as the current tried to pull him into the fissure.

Just a few moments after the current began, it stopped. He hugged the ledge, gasping for breath, and then began pulling himself up the wall. As he climbed the polyps grew even brighter. He then noticed streams of smoke or dust ejected out into the water from the wall. Some streams reached two or three meters in length, as if driven by powerful jets. Most of these plumes were dark in color, but some looked blue or green or even white. The polyps swarmed around the jets, swimming through the clouds.

Then he felt it, a cool sensation, in his boots.

Water.

Somehow, his suit had been breached, either due to impact or pressure. At this pressure the breach was probably microscopic, but his suit was filling fast, weighing him down. He used his wrist controls to dial up the impeller to maximum power. He made some progress, but the speed of his ascent soon slowed.

Then the voices began.

Am I mad? Is this some sort of pressure sickness?

At first a babble, the voices soon took on familiar tones. Family members and friends, far away, spoke to him from his memories. Their faces appeared on the glowing polyps in front of his helmet visor. His mind’s eye became overwhelmed with memories of his childhood, adolescence, and early adult-hood, several different vision streams flowing through his awareness. The emotions came on fast and strong, and he wept and laughed and felt frustration and anger all at that same time.

He became aware of a looming presence, like an undefined but huge shape above and beyond the memory streams. Vast and alien, it seemed to scream at him with silence, a void so full of meaning he couldn’t even begin to comprehend it.

Just at the edge of his mind, at the very limit of his awareness, he saw The Answer. It was the solution to All Questions and the One Question. It was so wonderful, terrible, vast, obvious and obscure, that he wept at the possibility of it.

Before he could grasp it the water entered his lungs.

Definition: Hominin

A Hominin is any organism of the taxonomic tribe Hominini. This includes recent Humans together with extinct ancestral species and those species transplanted from Earth to other worlds by now non-existent sophonts. The tribe Hominini branched from tribe Panini during the Miocene Epoch on Earth. During the Pliocene and Pleistocene Epochs more numerous and diverse Hominin species appeared. During the Miocene, Pliocene and Pleistocene Epochs advanced star-faring sophonts harvested and transported samples of these species from Earth to other worlds with suitable environments. Researchers hypothesize there were more than a thousand such transplantations, with evidence of Hominin civilization found on worlds as far as 30,000 LY to spinward of Earth. It is believed most of these transplanted Hominin groups did not survive more than a few thousand years. None of the Hominin species currently existing are capable of procreation with other Hominin species. There has been much speculation on the part of researchers as to how many species of advanced star-faring sophonts carried out Hominin transplants, what their motives were for transplanting Hominin species to other worlds, and why they disappeared. Researchers refer to these extinct sophont species using a variety of terms, the most common being Forerunners, Harbingers, and Precursors.

During the United Earth Era five of these Hominin species were discovered by Humans from Earth (homo sapiens) on worlds within 5,000 LY of Earth. These include the Druan, the Entra, the Linu, the Dovar, and the Yathans. These species were given full representation in the United Earth Parliament and Senate. While conducting the final offensive against the Snirr, the United Earth Expeditionary Fleet discovered six more Hominin species within 30,000 LY spinward of Earth: the Kivik, the Minkasa, the Novan, the Olora, the Pada, and the Ral. During the Imperial Era, the home worlds of the Druan, the Entra, the Linu, the Dovar, and the Yathans all enjoyed Senate World status.

The Reunification and Reconciliation Act of 2436 declared that all Hominin species were, by default, subject to the laws, and recipients of the benefits, of the Hominin Union. The Act was justification for bringing all Hominin worlds within the fold. Given the ferocity of the Snirr Wars and the Antispinward Secession of the 24th century, the ruling Destillières family reasoned that only by uniting into one political, economic, military and cultural entity could Humanity and its cousin Hominin species defend themselves against the hostile alien civilizations in the Milky Way Galaxy.

Related entries: Destillières Family; Dovar; Druan; Entra; Forerunner; Harbinger; Humans; Imperial Senate; Kivik; Linu; Minkasa; Novan;Olora; Pada; Precursor; Ral; Reunification and Reconciliation Act (2436); United Earth; United Earth Parliament; Snirr Wars; United Earth Senate.

From The Concise Historical Encyclopedia of the Hominin Union, 3rd edition, 3.1.2802, translated from the Xochilian Prime language by T.Polomarchus.

The Spez-Kriegworks K3-A Armored Battlesuit

From The Anuvi Incident

The deck alarm blared again and Captain Cavanagh’s voice filled the hangar. “Secure for tactical operations.”

“All tactical data will be transferred to your battlesuit computers,” Captain Lovelace said. He nodded at the First Sergeant.

“WHO ARE WE!?” the First Sergeant screamed.

“THE 356TH!”

“WHAT DO WE SAY!?”

“YOUR DEATH, MY LIFE!”

“SUIT UP!”

The Varano, a Victory class assault transport about five hundred meters long, had two spherical hulls fore and aft joined by a long, wide connecting hub. A thousand drop chutes, holes two meters wide at the bottom end of several meters of steel pipe, lined her underside. Magnetic accelerators shat out capsules four meters long, each containing an Imperial Marine in an armored suit. All Marines fought as battlesuited infantry: each wore a Spez-Kriegworks Model K-3A Armored Battlesuit, a 2.5 meter tall suit of steel and aluminum, with musculature and reflex enhancers, leap servos, a flight pack, and the latest in targeting, electronics, and counter-measures. A 64-kilojoule laser mounted on the left arm complemented a grenade launcher and magazine of 20 bombs mounted on the right.

A Squad Sergeant commanded each squad of fourteen Marines, with each squad composed of two teams. Karadjian commanded Putz and his buddies in First Squad. The brass assigned each squad a ready room in the lower decks of the ship, each a circular room ringed by fourteen four meter long capsules, and each capsule contained an armored battlesuit. The Marines stripped off their coveralls and pulled on their compression jump suits, garments of a tight-fitting material covered with interfaces that hooked into ports in the battlesuit. The battlesuit transmitted vital data to the squad sergeant, the company commander, the battalion commander, and up to the control room in the Varano, allowing commanders to monitor the health and status of each Marine.

“Don’t forget to seal your toilet tubes!” Sergeant Karadjian barked. “You won’t get any sympathy from me if you’re swimming in your own shit!”

 


The Marines of the 356th Imperial Marine Battalion are equipped with the Spez-Kriegworks K-3A Armored Battlesuit. This is a 2.5 meter tall exoskeleton composed of a titanium-aluminum-vanadium alloy, and advanced polymers and ceramics. The systems within the suit enhance the wearer’s strength and reflexes, allowing the wearer to perform incredible feats of strength and speed, including extended low-angle or high-angle leaps, close-range physical combat with vehicles and enemy personnel, and controlled flight or descent using the attached flight pack. Encased in re-entry capsules, personnel wearing the exoskeleton can descend to a planet’s surface through an atmosphere from low-orbit; the capsule provides protection from the friction of re-entry, and the drag ‘chute slows descent enough to allow use of the flight pack to precisely target the desired drop zone.

Advanced sensors provide infrared, low-light, and ultraviolet vision, long range sight, and targeting using optics, radar, and laser. Full environmental protection provides the flexibility to operate in a multitude of environments including hostile environments planet-side, in orbit, or ship-to-ship operations in vacuum. Encrypted radio communication and full tactical display allow full communication with and perception of personnel location at the squad, platoon, and company level. Integrate the communication system with a full WorldNet satellite system or Fleet Information System, and the wearer has unmatched perception of threats from around the target world or within a fleet of any size. Base armament for the suit is a 64-kilojoule laser on the left arm and a grenade launcher and magazine of 20 bombs on the right. A right shoulder interface provides a mounting point for a variety of accessories, including an antimatter missile launcher, a hull piercing explosive harpoon used for boarding spacecraft, a heavy plasma projector, a point defense projectile launcher, or an enhanced electronic warfare pod.

The K-3A Armored Battlesuit provides an unmatched advantage in individual mobility and firepower.

The HSS Solstice

The James Cook class, planned during the reign of Nicolas Destillières (2552-2633), is the centerpiece of the Union’s effort to consolidate the gains in the frontier regions. The explicit mission of these vessels is to survey likely worlds for immediate settlement. Ten of this class are planned. Sleek, fast, and outfitted with powerful sensors and experienced crews, it is hoped that these vessels can perform thorough but fast surveys of habitable worlds. See the novella Hope’s Surprise.

The Solstice is the third of the class to be built, after the James Cook and the Vitus Bering, and the first of the class to be fitted with the Jav-Koria Redstar Mark I hyperdrive, giving the vessel a greater range.

Spacecraft Technical Information

Ordered: December 14, 2630
Builder: Dahl Heavy Industries, Grotha Shipyard, Mercala
Launched: February 22, 2633
Commissioned: March 4, 2635
Home Port: Silmais Orbital Station, Korla
Identification: IEM-8834296273
Status: Active Service
Length: 110m
Power: Pieron KK4 Antimatter Reactor rated at 1.024 GW
Sublight Propulsion: Banner Type I-Q Reactionless Drive, 17.5 m per s squared

FTL Drive: Jav-Koria Redstar Mark I, 178.662905 LY per day
Range: 560 days under FTL drive (100,000LY), 1825 days total
Complement: 10 flight / operation, 16 mission specialists, 4 research scientists
Sensors: Full sublight and translight navigational, tactical and scientific suite
EW / Countermeasures: Standard dampening / jamming / suppression suite

Armament: Pieron Mark XII Five Mode 500 MW Laser Energy Projector
Shields: Random Phased Gravitic Outer Force Field rated at 10 MW, Tight Phase Transition Hull Force Field, rated at 692-996 GHz
Armor: Ablative Cerananocarbon Plating (ACP) over main hull, Nanocrystalline Gel Reinforcement (NGR) of main hull
Hull and Superstructure: Hypofault titanium-aluminum-vanadium alloy with nanowelds
Vehicles: 3 Model II-A Imperial Scout Buggies, 4 Cargo Walkers, 1 Angelwing Hovercar

Schematic

Grid is 1 meter. Click on the graphic to view.Command Section Schematic

The Forward Command Section

  1. Command Deck
  2. Avionics and Sensors
  3. Conference
  4. Computer Core
  5. Office
  6. Access and Storage
  7. Escape Pods (2 crew per)
  8. Head

 

 

Crew and Lab section - forward half

The Crew and Lab Section, Top Deck

  1. Central Lift
  2. Lounge and Cafeteria
  3. Kitchen and Stores
  4. Captain’s Stateroom
  5. Scientists’ Staterooms
  6. Pilot’s Quarters
  7. Navigator’s Quarters
  8. Engineers’ Quarters
  9. Technicians’ Quarters
  10. Survey Chief’s Quarters
  11. Security Chief’s Quarters
  12. Political Officer’s Quarters
  13. Chef’s Quarters
  14. Head / Showers / Laundry
  15. Mission Specialist Quarters (2 per compartment)Crew and Lab section - aft half
  16. Passenger Stateroom
  17. Outer Airlock
  18. Inner Airlock and EVA Suit Storage
  19. Medical
  20. Biology
  21. Bacteriology / Microbiology
  22. Chemistry / Biochemistry
  23. Weapons Locker
  24. Environmental Controls
  25. Astronomy
  26. Planetology / Geology
  27. Power Systems Lab
  28. Access Ladder to Ventral Sensor Array / Bottom Deck
  29. Passage to Forward Command Section
  30. Passage to Engineering Section
  31. Escape Pods

The Crew and Lab Section, Bottom DeckCrew and Lab Section - bottom deck

  1. Central Lift
  2. Airlock
  3. Cargo Door
  4. Cargo Area
  5. Vehicle Bay
  6. Equipment Storage and Prep Area
  7. Access Ladder to Dorsal Hull / Top Deck

 

 

Engineering Section Schematic

The Aft Engineering Section

  1. Antimatter Reactor Core
  2. Reactionless Drive
  3. Hyperdrive Coil
  4. Auxiliary Fusion Reactor
  5. Antimatter Fuel Containment
  6. Fueling boom
  7. Main Power Conduit
  8. Gravity / ICF Generator
  9. Deuterium Fuel Storage
  10. Force Field Generator

Schematic images created by James Vincett using Cosmographer software.

Artwork by Filip Velkovski

Copyright © 2015 James Vincett

A Map of the Hominin Union

hominin union map

A Map of The Hominin Union
During the Reign of
Marie-Élise Singh Caroillon des Destillières

There are approximately 1000 settled worlds in the Hominin Union, with a total population of approximately 1 trillion sentients, of which more than 74% are Hominin species. Approximately 70% of the total population of the Hominin Union resides on 103 worlds within 5000 LY of Earth.

Within the Union there are 12 Hominin species (Including Humans) and 28 intelligent alien species.