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Chapter 2: Secrets

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It’s been ten years since Navi left Earth; 15 years since the ENS Dauntless E317 was destroyed by the Whisperers.

The early years had not been easy for Navi and he had to work harder than he had ever worked to survive the badlands of the Agrissa Sector. The others of the 97 survivors had it much easier because they had pooled their resources and settled into a comfortable lifestyle on Agrissa’s moon. It was Navi’s own fault for not considering joining up with the others before making rush purchases, but that experience had taught him valuable lessons for the future.

By Navi’s estimation the first 6 months were the hardest. While everyone else was settling into the prearranged shared housing he stayed at the barracks on the naval base and set about working on his cargo ship. The 400m long mining hauler had been filled to the brim with obsolete mining equipment and other junk, and Navi’s first major project was to sort through that junk and salvage any usable equipment. However before he could begin to sort through the junk he had to move the Cargo Ship to a rented port away from the military births.

To pay for the port fees would cost 7 Gold a month, and while moving the Cargo ship he had christened the Vitality he realised that trying to take it to his Asteroid would be suicidal. Navi had named his Asteroid Audacious; the same name he gave to his expensive Sim. Fortunately for Navi the Class 5 Sim-Audacious was not expensive for nothing; encased in armoured Oriculcum Steel it came with 5 bots and a HyperSleep VR interface. Sims are keyed to the neural signatures of primary users and they operate on read-only operating systems; making them impervious to hacking.

The 2 humanoid bots of Audacious immediately got to work repairing the Vitality while the other three of the 10 limbed bots got to work sorting and cataloguing the junk. Navi joined the Repairs on the ship. The scrap metals were used to repair the hull enough for life support systems to be within safe limits. When the sorting was completed Navi gave the instruction for the multi-limb bots he called Scrappers to help with repairs.

After 3 months the Vitality reached a state where he could use it to safely reach the Audacious Asteroid. However Navi wasn’t willing to risk it just yet so he rented out his repair services to locals using the benefit of his class 5 Sim and his engineering expertise. The problem had been fuel for both the ship and the smelter. He hadn’t been able to switch on the smelter because he hadn’t bought the Nuclear Fuel Rods for both the Vitality and the smelter.

Unlike hyperspace capable ships that are powered by Fusion Reactors solar system ships are powered by advanced Fission Reactors. That meant the fuel for big ships is cheaper than the fuel for small ships. Navi finally understood why the others had chosen tugboats and small transports; his cargo ship would be expensive to operate in comparison. With the aid of the Sim repairing and maintaining ships proved more lucrative than he had anticipated but operating on the moon came with high taxes and his ability to stockpile fuel was limited.

Therefore Navi elected to buy components for crude bots and invest in setting up a ship repair infrastructure. Once he had all the components he could muster he loaded that entire load on the Vitality and set out for Audacious under the protection of hired mercenaries. It had taken Navi 18 months since arriving in the Agrissa System to pull all the resources together for the final phase of his plan. Even then he already knew that the rest of the coming years would be a long struggle to conserve resources just as he had done the previous 18 months; spending most of the time in HyperSleep while Virtually controlling one of his Sim’s 2 Androids to move around.

Surveys of the Audacious Asteroid told Navi of its structural integrity and the 1.24km diameter hollowed-out centre that had been the Asteroid’s iron core; that would be his target. Navi knew that to preserve the Asteroid’s structural integrity he had to stabilize the core that had been the centre of gravity. Fortunately the previous miners had left a field generator at the heart of the asteroid to prevent it from breaking apart; the power source of the field generator was meant to last 200 Standard Earth Years, and that meant it was still good for another 150 Standard Earth Years.

The network of mining shafts had already been stabilized and the loading area previously used for ore loading would become Navi’s ship repair facility. Navi had previously noted 17 shafts that started from the surface of the Asteroid and reached up to 2km into the Asteroid to reach cavities measuring from 150m to 400m in size, and he recognized that the cavities must have been mineral deposits at some point. Navi designed and built 4 Large RailGuns that would serve as initial defence systems for the Asteroid.

Navi understood that even though his asteroid fell within the defence perimeter of the UEN base on Agrissa’s moon all it would take was a bribe at a convenient time and the asteroid could be attacked with the security arriving too late to do anything. So Navi planned to install Large RailGuns that fired guided munitions on all 17 of the shafts, but future plans included lasers and plasma beams. However for now the crude 4 Large RailGuns and surface turrets would be enough to deter most.

Once primary systems and defence systems were installed the mercenaries were no longer necessary and they left 2 months after arriving on Audacious; taking with them technicians Navi had hired to assist with the instillation. The Sim, the Smelter and a Workshop were installed at the heart of Audacious. For the next 5 years Navi was barely out of HyperSleep as he worked to make Audacious into a habitable repair station. At some point Navi chose to cannibalize the Vitality for its metal, systems, engines and propulsion systems.

The Vitality’s propulsion systems weren’t large enough to move Audacious like a ship but they were perfect to correct and optimize its orbit. For years Navi didn’t have a ship of his own and depended on supplies provided by friends from the original 97 as they were the only ones he truly trusted. Navi’s ship repair business was booming largely thanks to the prowess of his Class 5 Sim Audacious and its army of 250 bots. Navi finally reach the point where his mind was a little at ease and he could afford some leisure.

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The rest of the 97 had long since started living their lives and since they’re evenly split between men and women they intermarried and most had even started raising children. There were only 4 holdouts who thought that given enough time they could return back to the home systems; Commander Valding now Commander Benjamin Hendricks, Lieutenant Dan Ervin, Lieutenant James Adams and Ensign Navilno Devalio. For their own personal reasons the 4 could not give up on their dreams and as such spent most of their time in HyperSleep.

Of the 4 holdouts Navi is the only one to even attempt to build a life in the while the other 3 simply bought a 2 room bunker with three HyperSleep pods and went to sleep for ten years. The three aforementioned holdouts are the biggest individual shareholders of the mining company established by the 97. The 97 had decided to pool what remained of their monies and for a mining company as source of future income; Navi who could only afford to contribute 150 gold is the smallest shareholder.

The Dauntov Company started with 287,000 gold coins; enough to buy several mining vessels along with mining licenses. A small quarry was established on Agrissa and in space they secured a water supply contract with the Naval Base; as they say the rest is history now. Dauntov is now Navi’s biggest single client and thanks to is success the shareholders are amongst the wealthiest citizens of the Agrissa System.

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At the Dauntov Annual General Meeting (AGM) commander Hendricks presented a report that painted an alarming picture of the situation on the Home systems. Lieutenant Commander Raj Sundra had become the de-facto leader of those who had properly settled into the Agrissa system.

The subject matter of Commander Hendricks’s report is the risks posed by the arrival of 2 of the top 5 civilizations it UEN territory. The Powerful 5 or P5 as they come to be known each control about 5% of the Milky Way Galaxy; that’s 2500 LightYears in any direction from their Homeworlds. The Aaum (Black & White humanoids) , the Vars (Insectoids), the Prothians (Large Humanoids), the Hyperions (Large Humanoids) and the Zaarz (Biotechnological) have been space faring thousands of years longer than all the other known civilizations.

The Vars and the Zaarz are likely the most dangerous to the UEN given their ravenous natures but the other three were no better. Unfortunately the 2 that showed up in UEN space are the Vars and the Aaum; fierce rivals who have fought each other to a stalemate that has lasted thousands of years. The fact that they had come to Earth did not bode well for the Humans and Whales; many a civilization had been decimated by these two species.

The pretext for their arrival was the leaked information about contact with the Whisperers. Apparently some people had leaked the information to the Greys and the Blues and that precipitated the arrival of the Aaum who were closely followed by the Vars. As soon as the 2 of the P5 showed up those whose lineage had been secretly associated with the Greys, the Blues, the Reds and others promptly evacuated from Earth and UEN systems and hurriedly returned to their master’s sides.

It was all too apparent who had leaked the secret of contact with the Whisperers to outsiders; it was some or all of the super-rich. The super-rich had been a hindrance to humanity for eons and generations upon generations of them had sought to surreptitiously control the civilization on earth. Not content with wealth and power the super-rich conspired to enslave humans and ultimately sell them to their Alien masters for the right to join the alien ranks.

But the super-rich had been thwarted by Developing Nations of the Earth in the early twenty first century CE. Lead by the BRICS countries the developing nations refused to emulate the Corporate Oligarchy the super-rich had created in the USA; choosing to curtail the power of the wealthy and insulating their countries from threat posed by the International Conglomerates controlled by the super-rich. High taxes for the rich guaranteed that the super-rich in their own countries never became to powerful.

Internationally the Developing Nations launched their war against the super-rich by first abandoning the United States Dollar as their reserve currency; this served to curtail the pre-eminence of the US economy. The Developing Nations reasoned that the sovereign currency of a particular union or country cannot be a world currency, and that a world currency had to be immune from the problematic effects of fractional reserve banking. The rebellion against the super-rich had targeted the heart of their power and could now strip them of their influence.

The benchmark currency was set as a 1cm diameter 2mm width Gold Coin; later Iron, Copper and other Metal Coins of similar proportions were included. The Age of American Exceptionalism ended with the introduction of the Metals Reserve Banking. Each country could maintain their printed currency but the only international money transfer modes the Developing Nations would accept would be in Metal Coins. The super-rich tried to overthrow the governments of the key Developing Nations but it was already too late; once China became the Biggest Economy in 2014 there was no turning back.

Without the Dollar, the Euro and Yen to underpin their international trading the US and its allies entered a long period of stagnation, and that left them unable to impede the development of other countries as they had done for the previous 100 years. Every country that produced metals could trade their coins for goods and services and those that produced goods could trade them for coins. The world had returned to a Hard currency and the fictitious printed notes could be used within each particular country but it held no value anywhere else.

The insidious super-rich had been dealt a crippling blow but they held fast to their Corporate Oligarchy in the United States; hoping to someday turn the tide in the future. The sinister super-rich finally got their chance in 2380 when the Corporate Oligarchy of Conglomerates supported a religious group that wanted to establish independent colonies in the Berisa sector. By 2450 the 7 colonies had formed the Free Systems Alliance and had over 200 million humans between them. The FSA citizens looked set to build something new that could one day rival Earth.

It is unclear what the FSA did to antagonized the otherwise peaceful Breegun Empire but the FSA found itself at war, and with the UEN refusing to send military aid 5 of the 7 FSA worlds were essentially cleansed of humans. Even after over 100 million Humans were slaughtered the UEN refused to give the FSA military assistance. The UEN was no keen to start a fight with a near peer; sending millions of its own troops to die for something the FSA likely started.

Given that the Breegun look like Frogs the UEN deduced that it was likely the human supremacist of the FSA who believed that God gave them dominion over all life did something to anger the Breegun. In the thousand years the Breegun had been a space faring civilization they had never attacked another civilization; not even the weaker planetary civilizations. Given the uncharacteristic behaviour of the Breegun it was clear to the UEN analysts that the FSA must have done something truly terrible.

Then the UEN received reports that a Breegun outpost had been destroyed days before the war began; a member of the Breegun Royal family was killed. The UEN arrived at the conclusion that it was not in Earth’s interest to render any assistance to Humans who had decided they wanted to live outside UEN authority. In the end the Corporate Oligarchy of Conglomerates that essentially ruled the United States convinced the US Government to send an expedition to rescue civilians from the to remaining FSA colonies.

The US evacuated the 45 million refugees to a mining outpost owned by one of the Conglomerates some 100 LightYears from the UEN boarders. Apparently none of the UEN countries wanted the troublesome FSA religious human supremacists within their borders and the UEN wouldn’t take responsibility so they were left to fend for themselves in this new world. Remnants of the FSA developed a vile Hatred for the UEN for refusing to give military aid and what remained of the FSA military embarked on a life of piracy; instituting a culture of piracy amongst what remained of the FSA.

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For the first time in years all the 4 holdouts had shown-up in person.

Cmdr-Hendricks : " I’d say that Earth has a few months left; a year at the most."

LtCmdr-Sundra : " What? They’re negotiating!"

Lt-Ervin : " The negotiations are pointless at this point."

Lt-Adams : " That business with Whisperers is a false flag; this has been a False Flag operation from the Start."

LtCmdr-Sundra : " Your saying that the Vars and the Aaum are colluding to destroy Earth? Aren’t they bitter enemies? Why would they cooperate to attack the relatively insignificant UEN?"

Cmdr-Hendricks : " Because the UEN is not as insignificant as it seems. And I don’t believe that they’re cooperating; it’s more likely they a mirroring each other’s steps knowing full well that the only way to break the stalemate regarding Earth will be to destroy Earth."

LtCmdr-Sundra : " What do we have that they may consider a threat?"

Cmdr-Hendricks : " The UEN has become to powerful to quickly. That’s why the Aaum demanded that the UEN become an Aaum Protectorate. But they know full well that if the UEN agrees the Vars will attack. If the UEN survives we become a useful Aaum Vassal, and if the UEN is destroyed it’s a potential problem removed. The Vars aren’t offering anything better, and this negotiations process is just to buy time for their fleets to get into position. At least that’s what the Sims predict. The UEN has been moving Titan Class StarCruisers into position while using Explorer Class StarCruisers and SCC Class StarCruisers to evacuate Skilled people from Earth."

Lt-Ervin : " The UEN is clearly making contingencies; they don’t think that Earth will survive."

LtCmdr-Sundra : " But Earth is the Heart and soul of the UEN; if it’s destroyed the UEN might collapse."

Cmdr-Hendricks : " At this point the only consideration is what happens once the Home System is Destroyed. If the UEN doesn’t put-up a fierce fight in defence of our Homeworld the vultures will consider us a push over. But if we put up a fight we risk depleting the bulk of the UEN forces making it impossible to defend ourselves from the Vultures; let alone hold the UEN together. The Security Council likely already knows that this is the End of the UEN."

LtCmdr-Sundra : " Then what do we do?"

Navi : " Survive! According to Audacious humans are likely to be enslaved by the Wocuk; the Reptilian bustards always hated us. In worst case scenario we might face an attack by the Zaarz; at which point extinction is a possibility."

There are gasps in response to Navi’s statement.

Cmdr-Hendricks : " We need a Hyperspace capable ship to reach safe zones; this area isn’t even almost safe."

LtCmdr-Sundra : " Are you saying they’re going to abandon the Naval Base?"

Lt-Ervin : " The 4 Dauntov Company Class 5 Sims project a scenario where All outposts are abandoned in favour of defending the few highly Advanced UEN worlds outside the Earth system."

Lt-Adams : " This Naval Base has a Frigate and 4 Corvettes; hardly enough to defend against a serious threat. Once the Home System is gone they’ll pull back to defensible positions near friendly Civilizations. We have until then to get ourselves to those worlds."

Cmdr-Hendricks : " Assuming that whoever attacks doesn’t cut off the retreat. Either way our target worlds are on the other side of UEN space and it would take at least 4 years to get there from here. When the Naval Base is abandoned the ships will likely be fully loaded with base personnel and their families; so we can’t count on getting a ride from them."

LtCmdr-Sundra : " Buying a Hyperspace capable ship would likely exhaust all of our resources, and the price will be steep given the current tensions. Would it be possible to build a HyperDrive?”

Navi : " Though Audacious has designs for commercial HyperDrives as a class 5 Sim it’s not equipped to build a HyperDrive; that kind of work is usually handled by a Factory Installed Class 7 Sim. Even if we could somehow scrounge together the components and materials for a HyperDrive it would be meaningless without a Fusion Reactor to power it."

Cmdr-Hendricks : " What about a Jump Gate? They’re powered by Stars aren’t they?"

Lt-Ervin : " In that case all we would have to do is refit the Mining ships with HyperSleep pods for everyone and enough fuel to last 25 to 50 years."

LtCmdr-Sundra : " In any case it would be best to collaborate with any on Agrissa that may plan to run to safe systems once the StarNavy leaves. It is unlikely that we are the only one who noticed and some of them may have resources we could use to build the Jump Gate faster."

Lt-Adams : " Navi; can your Facility handle such a Job? And how much would be your construction fee?"

Navi : " Normally a Jump Gate is sponsored by the local Authority and costs around 275,000 Gold, but the one we’re talking about would be a makeshift Jump Gate and nothing like the robust ones in the Home Systems. Therefore given that it would only be good for some 20 Jumps it should cost about 70,000 gold to build. My fee should be 15,000 Gold but I’m willing to settle for 3 of the 4 Dauntov Company Class 5 Sims as my fee."

Cmdr-Hendricks : " We need 1 Class 5 Sim to Navigate Hyperspace but I’d like to keep 1 Class 5 Sim in reserve. So how about 2 Class 5 Sims and 11 Class 4 Sims instead."

LtCmdr-Sundra : " The 4 Dauntov Company Class 5 Sims and 25 Class 4 Sims are Keyed to the Dauntov Company executives you won’t be able to properly use them beyond the standard Shareholder access. What do you want with them?"

Navi : " I’ll take the deal. And I’m only interested in their processor cores to expand Audacious to something resembling a Class 6 Sim."

Lt-Ervin : " As expected of a Scavenger."

Everyone chuckles.

The owners of the Dauntov Company had decided on their course of action and would soon reach-out to select people on the Agrissa Colony and coordinate efforts to secure components and materials for the construction of the Hyperspace Jump Gate with the Audacious Ship Repair Facility as the primary contractor.

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