Episode 01000011 [C] – Precog
Psi Faction | Training Room 10
The Echelons – Trance Channeler Controlling Chamber
Psi Faction Lieutenant Colonel Gailen Allred was in Training Room 10 with Lead Guard Jai reviewing mission profiles. Chris Escani, was monitoring Test Subject IA, a Trance Channeler suspended in the glass covered controlling chambler in the middle of the room. Wired up in a nutrient-supply bath with tubes and sensors attached to her body, her psychic power constantly monitored by Chris who ensured her body remained in perfectly controlled harmony, every body function optimal.
The bluish white liquid she was floating in, bubbled near the tube in her mouth keeping her body and her mind at the optimal temperature. Her cellular stasis maintained, the atoms, neurons and electrons within her cells perfectly controlled. As a Trance Channeler she was the eyes and ears of the Psi Faction monitoring the gridscan and the Psi Faction building constantly ensuring no threats to the facility, the area of the Echelons and the Zone.
Raven Allen the cybersecurity analyst entered the room in his black uniform with the words “Psi Faction” stenciled on the back in yellow walking up to Jai who raised an eyebrow irritated.
“Data was difficult to parse. The compile was encrypted. Took time.” Raven handed Jai the encrypted panel. “Has Vena’s last reported data cycle on it. Why did you want it?”
“We found an anomaly. You can go.”
“Don’t you need me to parse the quell?” Raven inquired.
“No. I’ll handle the queries. Dismissed.”
“Sir.” Knowing Jai couldn’t parse queries but sensing when to quit, Raven saluted snapping his heels together throwing a glance at IA in her controlling chamber as he exited the room.
As the door closed, an alarm went off on IA’s controlling chamber. Chris Escani racing over in his wheelchair to the terminal in front of her chamber trying to resolve the issue.
Gailen shot Chris a look. “What’s the problem?”
“IA says there is an imminent threat to Vena.”
“What do you mean?” barked Jai nodding at Chris.
“I’ll put her vision on the board. May be a it choppy, haven’t run it through the calibration. Trance Channelers parse time differently, the visions aren’t linear.”
The heads up display came online as Jai rolled back the vision.
“Let me play it.”
A flash blast as light took over the whole heads up display then the video just went black shutting off. Chris changed the view to the controlling chamber.
Gailen looked over at Chris who just shook his head unable to reveal additional details as IA calmed down in the chamber as a tear rolled down her cheek.
“Has that ever happened before?”
Gailen furrowed his brows, hand to his chin. “Patch me into Vena immediately!”
Episode 01000100 [D] – Alert Alpha: Collateral Damage
Pacific Territories Space Colonies | Juniper Quadrant
Lagrange 3 – Vena Satellite Surveillance Mission Command
All was quiet.
The Big Board flashed all clear, the log cycle complete as satellite operation signals read that all systems were nominal, functioning as designed. The strategic display with its flashing lights showed fifty screens on the heads up system monitoring Grid 15, their current position in space inside the Juniper Quadrant under the control of the Pacific Territories Allied Space Forces. The partnership with the International Federation Organization known off world as the IFO was headed by the powerful oligarch, Mr. Ennias who ran the Eleni, a group of influential Trance Channelers that provided counsel to international governments and The Syndicate, a conglomerate aligned with the Corporation headquartered in the Cit. The IFO had influence over various regions, spce stations and were responsible for upkeep and maintenance of the major Pacific Territories space colony quadrants led by the flagship Juniper colony.
The IFO had recently turned attention to the Grid 15 after intel revealed threats to the Pacific Territories, the executive counsel demanding changes to the designated risk appetite. It was this reason that Grid 15 had implemented a new risk posture as the Atlantea Federation became more of a threat in space. Cybersecurity analysts deployed to Juniper were highly-trained genetically-enhanced humans from the Imperial High Orbital Militia that had been activated for duty in the last year due to an uptick in terrorist activity against the colonies.
The operatives were code named “FUIO.” Their real identities Top Secret, numbered only as Black Ops High Orbital operatives.
To the military they were known as Commodities. In Top Secret mission documents, they were called Sentinels.
The Vena Array was renowned for its high tech state-of-the-art Vena Mission Command responsible for monitoring the Top Secret Vena Satellite. To protect the strategic importance of the satellite, state-of-the-art phase-shift cloaking technology was used to hide the exact location invisible to the eye and scanning technology.
The Array was the envy of the Pacific Territories, a glory of technology, the epitome of mankind’s ingenuity, monument to the bright future of space colonization. With Vena, the Pacific Territories was at the forefront of innovation ahead of other nations. Though th Atlantea Federation who was responsible for the bloody war that ensnared the planet in their pursuit of world domination, resources and land. They couldn’t match the sheer power of the Pacific Territories in space.
0200 Hours | Juniper Quadrant | Vena Array
It was a sleepy uneventful morning at Vena Mission Command. The only people awake on the station monitoring the Vena Satellite were Travis Johnson, the Lead Cyber Threat Analyst and Kylen Ritsua, the Senior Mainframe Security Administrator.
Both men were highly trained intelligence operatives in the Pacific Territories Air Force members of the FUIO Lagrange 3 Space Intel Forward Division. As Subject Matter Experts and science officers they were best in class. They had been stationed on Vena for six months on mission assignment from Mr. Ennias their orders encoded in a dossier logging credible threats against Vena.
Barely large enough for the two of them, the Mission Control Operations Center was utilitarian by design. The Big Board with its fifty monitors lined the room with NEK hardline terminals. The terminals logged and monitored with high tech scanner terminals along the left wall. To the back, cabinets with disaster recovery manuals, emergency alert terminals, and first aid station spanning the right wall.
Terminal with lights blinking flashed as systems monitored the Array logging multi-threaded processes in miliseconds. Buttons and blips from the stations twinkling off the dull grey metal walls. Every action and command Kylen and Travis took on the systems adhered to strict protocols and complex controls utilizng control scripts supporting risk mitigation and vulnerability containment.
The sophisticated monitoring systems tracked Vena’s telemetry and operations, high-tech hardware, mechanics, terminals and functions. Designed by the SenseNet in partnership with the Corporation, the room was covered floor to ceiling in cutting-edge software ensuing Vena’s availability, integrity and authentication was operating optimally. Vena’s operation was critical to survival of the Empire and the her allied space colonies.
The processes Travis and Kylen carried out daily on rotation, never strayed fropm protocols. They executed the elaboraet controls exactly as outlined in the procedures ensuring segregation of duties. Each control extensively audited by the Psi Faction Night Team, these checks and balances ensured there was never doubt about control execution on operations.
Travis’ and Kylen’s physical and mental enhancements as former clandestine psychic test subjects of the Psi Faction were alo closely monitored by the Elite military, their brainwaves scanned regularly along with their psi signatures.
On being assigned to Vena, they were only known by code names and were forced to sever ties with family and friends. They underwent exhaustive background checks, intrusive psychological evaluations, an physical and weapons qualifications.
Locked in the tiny control room, they were six hours in to their twelve hour shift as Alpha Team. Their backup, Beta Team from the previous shift were off duty. Only a skeleton crew on the station.
Their early morning routine was uneventful. Sworn to secrecy when they accepted the assignment, Travis and Kylen had taken a solemn oath to defend Vena with their lives.
Their Vena commissions signed off by the highest ranking in the Elite military, The Lead Minister of Parliament, Mr. Stuart, delivered their orders in person, their roles critical to the Empire and the only positions sanctioned and approved by the Emperor and the Viceroy.
No activity for hours, recently promoted to Senior Mainframe Administrator, Kylen fiddled with his new bright blue and white name tag on the breast pocket of his black space flight suit straightening it to it just right. The neon green bars on the wide metallic rim at the neck housed the suit’s hidden air-tight helmet if needed in case of emergency. Reviewing the logs as he checked Vena’s telemetry as the scan cycle kicked in, he glanced at the clocks marking quadrant space time.
Wanting to lighten the mood, Kylen engaged. “Checked the new Omnibus Darklight game cheat on the gridscan? SenseNet released her open source to the colonies an hour ago.”
Travis smiled, eyes closed, boots up on the desk his hands behind his head as he threw Kylen the sly eye.
“You viewing personal email on duty?”
“Commander, like you weren’t.…” Smirking, Kylen took his handheld out of his pocket punching in his secure code a drawer opening dropping his handheld inside. The secure drawer slid closed the device stored for safekeeping, the drawer wouldn’t unlock till the end of the shift knowing a handheld in Mission Control was against regulation.
Nodding as he fixed his mistake, Travis answered happily.
“Yes, know that Black market hacker AYOR in the Echelons? His review of Darklight’s new battle mechanics, said he’d never seen a gridscan game that sophisticated. Mentioned Darklight’s mechanics seemed military-grade. Think it’s a warning shot?”
“Maybe…” Kylen ruminated touching his chin. “AYOR’s known to have hands in every system on the gridscan. Even rumored he got a backdoor into the City mainframe. I’d love to see that. Had his intel on a few security briefings in the past, saved my squad’s arse.”
Kylen went to the scanning terminals turning off an alert chiming in the background.
Travis inquired. “Anything we need to check?”
“No. All good.” Kylen returned to the topic. “It could be him. Where would AYOR, a civilian, get classified access to Simulatrix? I ran a table top disaster recovery sim on her at the Psi Faction preparing for my Vena assignment. Simulatrix is no joke, jacking into her war game engine, was like being in country, cluster fire fight, so real.”
“What was your Simulatrix disaster recovery mission?”
Kylen’s his right eyebrow twitched remembering. “Last one was a Level 5 Cybersecurity Incident. Active threat to Vena actually. I’ll definitely check out AYOR’s review. Thanks.”
Travis smiled ear to ear clapping his hands. “And wow, did you see Omnibus Darklight’s new avatar outfit? That’s my type of AI. She’s wicked hot. What I would do with her…. She’s my dream girl.”
Kylen laughed slapping Travis’ feet off the desk. “What? You in love with a a vid? Omnibus ain’t real? Out of your mind. Don’t let Gailen hear you say that.”
The heads up alerted a call coming in, Psi Faction logo pop-up flashing on screen. Travis ignored the alert letting it ring a few times as the chiming screamed through the room.
Kylen growing irritated, threw a pink rubber ball at Travis. The ball had a black and white image of the Omnibus Darklight game avatar on it floating slowly through the air, the station’s reduced gravity affecting its flight.
“Well, answer it.”
Travis snatched the floating ball as it came in reach setting it down next to the keyboard as he logged in, an image of Gailen Allred from the Psi Faction appearing on the main heads up.
“This is Vena Mission Control. Warrant Officer Travis Johnson online. Welcome to Mission Control, Lieutenant Colonel, Allred. We’ve been waiting for your call. Vena Array signal check, passcode delivery initiated. The sky is black…”
“…with nuclear war,” Gailen gave the responding passcode completing the voice authentication the link to Vena from the Psi Faction ops room engaging as the security features verified and validated both Travis and Gailen through the heads up.
The image of Gailen came online then suddenly split in half, the image fuzzy as the screen kept dropping pixels for som reason, the transmission coming in garbled, choppy.
Travis played with the heads up controls boosting the signal adjusting the image trying to clean it up. “Something’s jamming the feed. Let me boost the signal….”
After a few seconds fiddling with controls, he was able to clear up the white noise fixing the audio. The video feed pixelating wildly, unable to resolve the issue, the image turned black going blank. He boosted the audio frequency, the band distorted.
“That’s odd..” Kylen frowned, worry niggling. He dismissed it as Travis cleared the frequency, image returning crisp and clear.
Gailen’s eyebrow twitched barking orders. “Psi Faction’s tracking a threat on your vector. Any anomalies on Vena in last six?”
Kylen punched up scans for the last six hours. The heads up showed the logs for all of Grid 15. “No threats. Board’s clear.”
As Gailen continued with his questions, the Vena monitoring early warning system reported an error. The big board flashing red blips as the alert scanner at the side of the room registered a projectile in the Grid 15 on direct trajectory towards Vena. The antiquated alerting scanner was due to be mothballed, taken out of commission, the tech crew keeping it in service as a precaution because it had the ability to register unique phase-shift particle signature that none of the newer systems could for remote threats.
Jolting to attention, Travis engaged frantically attempting to intercept the target. He skimmed the logs of the antique system, typing commands as multiple windows flew open on the heads up display as additional systems identified an imminent Level 2 threat. Errors started popping up peppering multiple monitors.
Kylen slapped the terminal punching in his Level 2 secure code, the system granting him access as he triggered a full scan that immediately initiated the Incident Response System on confirming the imminent threat. The Operational Control Management module came online triggering Disaster Mitigation applications immediately plotted risks factors, projective vectors, speed, number of hostlies and any vulnerability incoming to the Vena Array.
Buzzers going off from systems all over the room, Travis confirmed the readings.
“Tracking two anomalies. Coming in hot. It’s right on us. Is it friendly, Pacific Territories? Atlantea Federation? Confirm now!”
Accessing the Remote Attack Defense Perimeter, the hatch opened and a satellite dish slowly raised on the heads up display sending out an elector-magnetic pulse as Kylen triggered the long range rapid scan of the entire grid. He extended the scan out to the nest two adjacent grids and ran a back trace to determine where the threat originated.
Gailen barked orders, Kylen glancing at the heads up, the call with the Psi Faction disconnecting without warning. Wiping sweat from his brow, adrenalin kicking in, he hesitated, lost for a second wringing his hands as he stared at his palms, his mind racing through countless scenarios and simulations.
“We lost the feed to the Psi Faction.”
Kylen, still frozen he silenced his racing thoughts getting control of his emotions, his hands flying across the keyboard as he typed, the system responding as he tried to respond to the anomaly.
Travis barked orders. “Re-establish connection.”
Kylen raced across the room engaging the scanning terminals. “Not good. Systems offline. We’re being jammed.”
“What about scans?”
“Pulling them up.”
Travis stared at the big board, the system flashing scenarios the threat countdown coming online.
Kylen’s voice cracked. “Vena missed last check-in. Been dark two cycles. System should’ve reported it? They’re definitely jamming us. If we miss another cycle, initiate Level 5?”
Travis saw Kylen’s hands shaking. “We’ve never initiated Level 5? We’d need clearance from Gailen.”
“Threat’s on a hard vector. Coming right at us.”
“Is it a mobile frame? Nuclear? Check the signature.”
Travis threw himself in the chair, gliding to the back terminal. He transferred the Level 5 Defense Relay control. “No signature. Can’t read it.”
Disaster Recovery Board | Level 5 Alert – Vena Threat Imminent
The Level 5 Defensive Control device kicked in taking control of all of Vena Mission Control’s systems, alarms blaring through the room as the emergency lights switched over on bathing the room in a crimson glow. Multiple warnings flashed across terminals relaying massive amounts of data, data backup process initiating the one minute countdown to backup complete.
The heads up view display changed showing a long-range external views of the station from various angles, the monitors displaying the threat barreling towards them too fast. The system tracked the threat’s velocity accelerating as the outer booster exploded, the weapon speeding towards its target.
“Can we intercept?”
Kylen lunged at the terminal “No time….” Panicking, he brought up Vena’s control module, fingers flying across keys. “Dump Vena’s core!”
Travis shocked whirled around in disbelief. “What?”
Kylen slapped the terminal. “Now!”
Travis raced to the back dialing in the combination to the security locker ripping open the doors pulling the Vena Disaster Recovery code book from the cabinet. Slapping the book on the desk between them, he flipped pages as they broke the two metallic envelopes with their code names extracting the emergency procedure cards. Pulling the cards from the sleeves, they entered their Top Secret command codes into the red Emergency Disaster application NEK hardline terminals.
Kylen pulled the key around his neck flipping open the plastic cover over the Level 5 disaster trigger shoving the key into the slot as Travis did the same.
Both of them realizing what was at stake. Travis nodded as he met Kylen’s eyes understanding the danger. Synching their movements, they turned their disaster action keys at the same time triggering the array to dump Vena’s dta and core memory.
Watching the big board, a flash and a loud boom ejected Vena’ black box as Kylen and Travis watched the box with its escape engine fly off at velocity boosters firing clearing the satellite, escaping the imminent threat.
The heads up timer tracking the black boxes’ journey, the timer counted down as the box flew out of range, a second booster rocket igniting for the next leg of its journey. The Disaster system logged the box’s speed and masking the secret trajectory to the designated secure landing sight that neither Kylen nor Travis knew, the route and landing site Top Secret.
Travis confirmed as the box cleared Grid 15 disappearing out of heads up scanning range.
Confirming the black box was safe, fingers running over the words in the disaster recovery book, he read the protocol steps ready for the next action.
“Vena has cleared threat landscape. Black Box is away.”
Kylen wiped his brow. “We are Sentinels. For the bloodline…”
Turning from the emergency terminal, Kylen faced the heads up display plastering his hands on the desk steeling his nerves, a bright lightning from the threat’s engines barreling directly at them.
Pupils dilated, Travis’ watched in horror as a blinding white hot explosion engulfed the heads up blocking the sky in a devastating flash, the threat hitting the Array knocking Vena out of its orbit, the explosion vaporizing Vena Mission Control into space dust.
The blast split the Juniper Quadrant in half, obliterating Vena, debris floating for kilometers, sucking the oxygen from the station smothering itself as it imploded.
An eerie silence washed over Grid 15.
Lost in the wreckage, a pock-marked charred piece of pink rubber with an image of Omnibus Darklight floated through space among scattered debris, a sorrowful memento from the explosion that destroyed Vena.
An hour later, two Pacific Territories mobile frames arrived, the pilots leaving their cockpits scanning the debris field for life signs, having tracked a distress signal from the Juniper Space Colony.
“The signal’s over here… “ The pilot relayed to his subordinate as they flew past a destroyed NEK hardline terminal keyboard towards the signal.
Flashing the scanner, the lead pilot located the signal, the scanner landing on Kylen Ritsua’s scorched name tag floating near a chunk of pink rubber and a destroyed half charred handheld.
Lead pilot turned off the scan the beeping stopped. “Let’s go back.”
“What about survivors?
“No survivors. They were Sentinels.”
“Roger that.” Nodding, the lead pilot threw a salvage beacon returning to his frame cockpit and logged they call in their return to the Juniper Colony.
The two pilots saluted the debris field flying off as six Pacific Territories Cleaner frames from military disaster recovery entered the area.
The Cleaner crews from the La Paz space station flew up on the air space where Vena had once been, their job neutralize any assets and ensure no proprietary technology would be left behind.
We are Sentinels. This is who we are.
TO BE CONTINUED