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TFT Snippet #18

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TFT Snippet #18
Post by runsforcelery   » Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:37 pm

runsforcelery
First Space Lord

Posts: 2409
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 10:39 am
Location: South Carolina

Since we are getting close to the release date . . . .

______________________________________________________

April
Year of God 904




.I.
Nimue’s Cave,
The Mountain of Light,
Episcopate of St. Ehrnesteen,
The Temple Lands.


<Wake up, love.>

Nynian Athrawes opened her eyes as the beloved voice flowed through her.

<Welcome back, sleepyhead!> that same voice said.

The smooth stone ceiling above her had become a familiar, almost comforting sight over the years, but not as comforting as the face smiling down at her. She smiled back, then stiffened as she realized Merlin’s lips hadn’t moved.

“Is this—?” she began, only to pause as another face appeared beside Merlin’s.

<Just a moment,> a second voice said somewhere in the depths of her mind, and the air above her was suddenly spangled with a series of glowing icons. There were twenty of them, arranged in five neat rows of four.

<That’s better,> the second voice said, and Owl’s disembodied head smiled at her. <It will take you a while to master the fully interactive interface, Nynian. I’ll take you through a tutorial when you’re ready, but until you’re familiar with it, the more intuitive aspects of it are locked out. For now, you can visualize the proper icon to cue your implant’s CPU to bring up the appropriate function. Later, after you’ve become fully familiar with the interface, all that will be required is the decision on your part to activate the function you desire.>

“I . . . I see,” she told the AI, then looked back at Merlin. “This is going to take some getting used to,” she said. “Especially for an old woman like me!”

<Old!> his voice snorted in her brain. <Are you sure you want to throw adjectives like that around with me this was , young lady?>

Nynian laughed, reassured by the familiar tartness of the exchange. It was true that she was sixty-four years old, her dark hair lightly threaded with the first strands of silver, but sixty-four was only fifty-eight in the years of long-dead Terra, and she’d received the enhanced basic medical nanotech Merlin and Owl had made available to all of the inner circle. It wasn’t remotely the same as the antigerone therapies which had allowed the original “Adams” and “Eves” to live as much as two or two and a half centuries, even without the booster treatments still available to the “archangels” in Eric Langhorne’s command crew. It did, however, assure she would be disease-free, immune to Alzheimers or any form of cancer, that any injuries would heal with near-miraculous speed, and that she could expect to live to at least a hundred and fifty years. If they hadn’t managed to overthrow the Church of God Awaiting by then, her longevity would undoubtedly raise a few eyebrows. On the other hand, if they hadn’t overthrown the Church by then, raised eyebrows would be the least of their problems.

Then there was always the minor fact that while Nimue Alban might have been born over a millennium ago, Merlin had been in existence for less than fifteen years. So which of them did that make a cradle robber?

“So how do I talk back to you?” she asked.

<The same way you always do, I’m sure!> Merlin’s sapphire eyes laughed at her. <You’ve never been shy about giving me grief before!>

“You only thought I was giving you grief before,” she warned him, then looked past him to Owl’s head. “Owl? How does this work?”

<As I said, you need only visualize the appropriate icon.> One of the floating icons, a pair of stylized lips, glowed more brightly than the others and flashed slowly.

Nynian frowned as she focused her attention on the flashing image. It felt a little odd, because she discovered she wasn’t actually “seeing” it with her eyes at all. The image was projected into her field of vision, much as Owl had projected data and video onto her contact lenses for years, but there was still a subtle difference, although it took her a moment to realize what that difference was. This image was projected directly into her mind, with a sharpness and clarity that bypassed the actual optic nerve. It had a . . . solidity, although that wasn’t really the word, greater than anything she’d ever actually “seen.”

And yet, sharp as it was, it snapped into even greater sharpness as she concentrated on it.

<Visualize it like this?> she asked, and her own eyes widened as she realized the mental commands which should have gone to her vocal cords, her tongue and her lips, had gone somewhere else entirely.

<Exactly like that, love!> Merlin told her, reaching down to lay one strong, long-fingered hand against her cheek. <I always knew you were a clever one!>

<I know we’ve all said this way too many times by now, but this really is like magic,> she “said.” <Like the telepathy in those old pre-space novels Nahrmahn found.>

<I suppose it is, in most ways.> Merlin extended a hand and lifted her into a sitting position. He was very gentle about it, and she felt only a minor twinge of discomfort as a reminder that she’d just undergone the most intrusive neurosurgery any native Safeholdian had ever experienced. <I can’t say for sure what the authors had in mind, of course,> his voice continued somewhere inside her brain, completely bypassing her eardrums and yet “sounding” exactly like himself, <but I expect it’s close to what they were reaching for. And I had Owl modify your software just a bit. For the Federation, with the planetary datanets available on a wireless basis everywhere, things like range and security were approached rather differently. No one needed very much transmission or reception range, because data nodes were so frequent and so widespread they were always tied into the net, pretty much anywhere. And “security” consisted of encryption and other ways to safeguard data flows and prevent hacks. No one ever worried about whether or not an implant’s signal might be detected because no one saw any reason to hide it.

<Our situation’s just a little different, however, so your implants have more transmission and reception range—not a lot more: there’s a limit to the power of any EM transmitter I want anywhere near your cerebral cortex, but enough that we can talk to each other from one side of a baseball field to the other, let’s say, even without a SNARC. And while you’ve got all the standard protections against hacking, our main security concern’s making sure any transmissions between us stay covert, which is another reason to keep them low powered enough they’re pretty severely range-limited. You’ll be able to tie your implants into the SNARCs, but you’ll have to route them through your existing exterior com to get the range you’ll need and its stealth features will go on covering you when you do.>

She nodded slowly, her eyes intent.

<But I’ll be able to talk to you like this whenever I want? Wherever you are?> It was his turn to nod, and she snorted in amusement. <Well, that sure sounds like “telepathy” to me!>

<I don’t disagree, although there are some big differences. For example we can’t exchange emotions the way ‘telepaths’ could in the books. Information flow’s something else, but even there, there are hard limits to what we can exchange in real time. That’s more of a matter of bandwidth, but once you’re fully acclimated to your CPU, you’ll be able to drop files directly to anyone else who’s received the implants. Not just data files, either. Experiential files, too. Not just accounts of things you’ve seen or experienced but the actual memories of them. And, now that I think about it, there is some emotional exchange involved there. It’s just not a direct exchange between individuals and it can’t be done in real time, only in uploaded files. There’s no way for ‘two to become one,’ but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to share files that allow you to . . . understand one another in ways you never could before. Although I won’t be able to do as much of that as you and the others will.>

<Why not?> she demanded as she heard the bittersweet edge in his mental tone.

<Bandwidth again,> he said simply. She raised an eyebrow, and he shook his head. <My high-speed port’s still down, Nynian, and there are a lot of databytes in an exchange like that. Too many for the human nervous system to transmit to another human nervous system in real time. That’s one of the big reasons I did so much damage to Nahrmahn’s brain when I recorded him with the EMS headset. Instead, you’ll have to “zip” the memory in your CPU, then send it across to the intended recipient. But even compressed, it’ll still be a huge file, and unlike your new “wetware,” I still can’t process high-speed data transfers on that scale. That’s why Nahrmahn has to slow the internal clock on his VR down to match the real world whenever I visit. I can’t process—No, scratch that, I can’t access the datastream at a high enough baud rate. You have a far higher rate than I do, so he’ll be able to maintain a higher compression ratio with you. I just won’t be able to do the same thing.>

Disappointment darkened her eyes, and he bent to kiss her gently.

<Didn’t say it can never be fixed,> he told her. <In fact, Owl and Nahrmahn have been quietly at work on building me an entirely new “brain” for quite a while now. One that does have a high-speed port.>

<Oh? And why is this the first I’ve heard about that?>

<Because none of us were sure it was going to be possible and there was no point mentioning it if it wasn’t,> he said reasonably. <It’s actually been a more complicated challenge than the one they faced when they built Nimue, because they started from scratch for her. They had to figure out how to build her and they did it all with their own “proprietary” hardware and software. My problem’s “only” a software glitch, but the software’s also hardware because it’s hardwired into my existing brain. Nimue’s PICA was never emancipated; she always used it as a remote, which is why the system was designed to dump every ten days whether she wanted it to or not. The whole idea was to build a PICA with features that meant it couldn’t “go rogue,” no matter what happened, and the people who built me wanted to make damned sure no one screwed around with those safeguards. Doc Proctor did anyway, but not even he could get around all the protections without a few . . . side effects, and Owl’s decided that trying to fix me the way I am would only run the risk of creating additional, unanticipated problems farther downstream. So he’s had to figure out how to build a mollycirc brain—using his and Nahrmahn’s “proprietary” design—that will permit permanent, long-term independent operation. In essence, they have to build an empancipated PICA’s brain that they can drop into a PICA chassis which was specifically designed to prevent anyone from doing that. He tells me they’re getting close, and we’ve been working on recording my post-Nimue memories for a while now. We’re still a couple of years behind the curve, but we’re getting there. So by the time they have my new brain ready, we should have a complete record of me to download into it. Hopefully.>

<As long as no one goes fooling around with your brain until we’re sure we have a complete record,> she said, leaning her head upon his shoulder.

<Trust me,> he kissed the top of her head, <I’m not taking any chances on forgetting about you.>

<Good.> She tilted her face up to kiss him, then sighed and leaned back into his shoulder. <And now, suppose you walk me through what the rest of Owl’s icons do? The sooner I get this mastered, the sooner we’ll be able to clear it for the others!>



.II.
Imperial Court,
City of Yu-kwau,
Kyznetsov Province,
Empire of Harchong.


“I want every member of their families here in the South arrested!” Emperor Zhyou-Zhwo snarled. “Every one of them, do you hear?!”


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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Re: TFT Snippet #18
Post by PeterZ   » Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:48 pm

PeterZ
Fleet Admiral

Posts: 6253
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:11 pm
Location: Colorado

One wonders if we now get non-PICA seijins? Perhaps this can provide Hektor with more control over his left arm? One can't wait to find out.
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Re: TFT Snippet #18
Post by runsforcelery   » Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:57 pm

runsforcelery
First Space Lord

Posts: 2409
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 10:39 am
Location: South Carolina

PeterZ wrote:One wonders if we now get non-PICA seijins? Perhaps this can provide Hektor with more control over his left arm? One can't wait to find out.


Peter, they aren't going to "fix" his arm. The tech to save his arm's mobility originally simply wasn't available in time. It would have been available after the fact, but it would have required the actual regeneration of nervous tissue, and that would've taken time, and would have been flatly impossible by the standards of Safeholdian medicine.

So they made the decision — with his concurrence — that they aren't going to repair it until/unless the truth about the Federation and the origins of Safehold can be fully revealed. Given the state of medicine on Safehold, the physicians there know the damage to his arm is permanent within the capabilities of the medical science provided to them by the Archangels. That means that repairing his arm would constitute a "miracle," and they aren't going to present that kind of miracle tied to Hektor. There are several reasons for that, including a desire to avoid providing the "Shan-wei takes care of her own" crowd with any additional ammunition to use against Charis. There's enough of that with seijins running around. And, frankly, in Corisande it serves as a permanent reminder of both the attempt to assassinate him and Irys on their wedding day . . . and of his decision to protect her with his own body. And, fortunately, it's not his dominant hand.

Would he like to have the use of his arm back? Of course he would! But, having considered all of the options and all of the pros and cons, it was ultimately his decision to not "miraculously restore" the use of his arm.


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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Re: TFT Snippet #18
Post by PeterZ   » Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:28 pm

PeterZ
Fleet Admiral

Posts: 6253
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:11 pm
Location: Colorado

Oh, Bother! I was hoping for some charters to be 'elevated' to seijinhood. Having other characters besides our PICAs develop extraordinary skills would be nice to see. I suppose the NEAT interfaces will allow enough additional abilities for that purpose, should the IC decide to reveal those new found abilities.

Regardless, what amounts to telepathy and lightning fast learning abilities will make the Inner Circle charactersmuch more interesting in the new story arc.
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Re: TFT Snippet #18
Post by SCC   » Wed Dec 12, 2018 5:10 am

SCC
Commander

Posts: 235
Joined: Wed Sep 12, 2012 12:04 am

This just occurred to me, but could these new bio-implants be how Merlin got that recording of the inside of the Temple? What are the limits on the sensors of these implants?
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Re: TFT Snippet #18
Post by Undercover Fat Kid   » Wed Dec 12, 2018 7:03 am

Undercover Fat Kid
Commander

Posts: 198
Joined: Sat Oct 12, 2013 10:20 pm

After wandering for so long in a proverbial desert, truly my cup overflows.

Thank you RFC.
.
.
Death is as a feather,
Duty is as a mountain
This life is a dream
From which we all
Must wake
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Re: TFT Snippet #18
Post by isaac_newton   » Wed Dec 12, 2018 7:09 am

isaac_newton
Commodore

Posts: 894
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 5:37 am
Location: Brighton, UK

Great - thanks RFC :-(

TFT is something to look forward to in the midst of the Brexit shambles :-(
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Re: TFT Snippet #18
Post by Keith_w   » Wed Dec 12, 2018 7:34 am

Keith_w
Commodore

Posts: 938
Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2012 11:10 am
Location: Ontario, Canada

Thank you for this snippet RFC. If you don't mind my asking, how much of the book have we gotten, and will we get more? Also, I was wondering considering this passage: "a pair of stylized lips, glowed more brightly than the others and flashed slowly" if Owl is going to start showing movies, starting with the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I only ask because we saw the Rocky Horror Show a couple of weeks ago at the Stratford Festival and then watched the movie again for comparison purposes. We preferred the stage show. In any case, looking forward to January and my hands on the whole book.
--
A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
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Re: TFT Snippet #18
Post by Joat42   » Wed Dec 12, 2018 10:22 am

Joat42
Rear Admiral

Posts: 1433
Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2013 6:01 am
Location: Sweden

SCC wrote:This just occurred to me, but could these new bio-implants be how Merlin got that recording of the inside of the Temple? What are the limits on the sensors of these implants?

Very likely.

---
Jack of all trades and destructive tinkerer.


Anyone who have simple solutions for complex problems is a fool.
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Re: TFT Snippet #18
Post by phillies   » Wed Dec 12, 2018 11:04 am

phillies
Vice Admiral

Posts: 1918
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Location: Worcester, MA

SCC wrote:This just occurred to me, but could these new bio-implants be how Merlin got that recording of the inside of the Temple? What are the limits on the sensors of these implants?


Marching toward creating an inner circle corps of supermen that will be more powerful and, given human nature, eventually as corrupt, as the old Inquisition.
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