Topic Actions

Topic Search

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

Into the Light Snippet #14 (nitpicker!)

Aliens? Invading aliens? What will Earth do? Well...we may have a few more resources than we first thought. Come join a friendly discussion about David Weber's newest Tor series - "Out of the Dark."
Into the Light Snippet #14 (nitpicker!)
Post by runsforcelery   » Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:24 am

runsforcelery
First Space Lord

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

I had to think long and hard about exactly where to break this snippet so that nobody would be disappointed or impatient. :twisted:

_____________________________________________________________

.XV.
Dreadnought Târgoviște,
Phase-Space,
1.5 LY from Earth.


"What? You're out of your mind! Dark Passage is tons better than The Big Heat."

"How can you say that? Ford is the classic avenger of wrongs, whereas Bogart is out to avenge himself and prove his own innocence!"

"But he's Bogart! Ford is always so . . . so fueled by nervous tension. And it's not just Bogart; it's Bacall, too!"

"And in one of her stronger performances, I admit, my Stephen. But Bogart was 'off his game,' as I believe you Americans put it, in that film. And aside from the way in which his appearance is changed, the character of Vincent Parry is sadly two-dimensional. Oh, the cinematography was very clever, especially the way in which the viewer never saw the hero's face until after the 'plastic surgery,' that I grant. Yet despite that, I cannot say that Bogart's ability to support a film was at its best in Dark Passage."

"But Glenn Ford? I like a lot of his work, but I never thought action movies were really his forte. I like him a lot more in movies like Fate Is the Hunter. I mean, Pleshette overacted in that one — she usually did, really — but Ford nailed McBane, and Taylor was damned good as Savage. The model work's . . . pretty bad, in a lot of ways. I'll give you that. But it was made in 1964, for God's sake! And I personally think it was one of Ford's best movies."

"In which, once more, he is avenging a wrong done to others! You see? You make my own case for me!"

Stephen Buchevsky sat back in his unreasonably comfortable chair and glowered across the small table. He'd always loved a good movie, but he'd never thought of himself as a student of classic cinema. In fact, most of the movies he'd seen dated from the seventies or eighties. But he'd had more exposure than he'd realized to earlier cinematic fare. He might be out of his league as a cinematic scholar compared to his present company, but how could anyone prefer Glenn Ford to Humphrey Bogart? That was just . . . wrong.

"Oh, cheer up!" The green-eyed, sharp faced man on the other side of the table waved his beer stein. "Perhaps we should watch Blacula again! That always seems to improve your mood."

"No," Buchevsky said very, very firmly. "We are not watching Blacula again. In fact, if I have my way, we are never watching Blacula again!"

"So sad." Vlad Drakulya shook his head, his expression sorrowful. "And it shows so little empathy. If I must endure all of the . . . imperfect cinematic presentations of my own life, then surely it is only fair that you should endure Prince Mamuwalde — who, after all, at least begins his unbreathing life as a truly heroic figure!"

"Life isn't always fair," Buchevsky replied. His own eyes darkened for a moment, as memory of just how unfair it could be ambushed him, but then he shook himself. "Although, I will grant you that as blaxploitation movies go, it's one of the best. I'll even grant you that it's an arguably serious attempt at a horror movie with a Black protagonist and the producers went out and actually found an actor with the chops to pull it off. Yeah, and they managed it without pimps or drugs. I did like that! I just can't handle William Marshall with hair glued all over his face and a mouthful of fangs. My God! Did you ever see the video of his Othello? That man could act, Vlad!"

"Yes, I have, and yes, he could. Indeed, he was far better than Burbage was in the original presentation, not to mention actually being Black. Of course, he had certain technological advantages not available to the Globe in 1605, as well." Vlad's eyes went unfocused for a second or two, then sharpened and focused once more on Buchevsky. "Very well, we will leave that one for another time. Is there another film you would prefer to request?"

Buchevsky pondered that question, because the options were . . . many.

One thing he hadn't suspected during his sojourn in Romania was that "Mircea Basarab" had been an even bigger cinema junkie, and for far longer, than Stephen Buchevsky. In fact, longer than anyone else on the planet had been alive! Nor had he guessed that Vlad Drakulya had amassed one of the world's great digital movie collections on the servers under his villa above the Arges River. He'd built that villa, almost within sight of Poenari Castle — a fortress which had served him well in its time — over four hundred years ago, although it had never appeared on anyone's maps, and it had served him even better — and far longer — than the castle had. It had also been equipped with all the "modern conveniences," including an enviable computer suite. He'd been very careful to power down anything which might have attracted Shongair sensors to his home, but before he'd left Earth behind, he'd uploaded the entire content of those servers to the dreadnought he'd renamed Târgoviște and found a way to interface his video files with the starship's holograph projectors. Watching at least one of those films every day had become one of their more enjoyable rituals.

"You're the only one who has any real idea what you have stashed away in the computers," he said finally. "I'll let you choose — as long as it's not a Glenn Ford movie!"

"So sad that you are so small minded." Vlad shook his head mournfully. "In that case, however, why do we not consider a complete change of pace and watch something a bit less dark?"

"What did you have in mind?" Buchevsky arched one eyebrow.

"One of my favorite Cary Grant films." Vlad smiled. "Father Goose."

Buchevsky suppressed a chuckle. Vlad Drakulya had an unmistakable partiality for the film noir genre, which was probably inevitable, but Buchevsky rather doubted the world in general would have been ready to believe the true weakness of the historical reality behind the most enduring, bloodthirsty villain in cinematic history was for comedies. Especially — the temptation to chuckle disappeared —comedies which incorporated a deadly serious thread centered upon a character who rose above his flaws to protect that which he had learned he loved.

"All right, I could do with a little Grant," he allowed. "Assuming that you'll sign off on The African Queen next."

"Ah! I sense a theme of sorts! Very well. Although —" Vlad's smile turned sly "— I was thinking in terms of Human Desire."

"Oh my God!" Buchevsky rolled his eyes. "Thank goodness I managed to avoid repeating that one. If you really need to add another Ford movie to the calendar, try to find one with at least one character I can empathize with."

"Fair, fair," Vlad conceded, then pulled the slim human-style keyboard out of the edge of the tabletop and began entering commands.

Buchevsky sat back with his beer, watching him, and the sheer . . . unlikelihood of his life flowed through him yet again.

He looked around the compartment — the equivalent of what a human would have called the captured Shongair dreadnought's wardroom — which the ship's printers and servomechs had reconfigured to meet human notions of comfort and convenience. The overhead remained too close for someone Buchevsky's height, because the Puppies were short even by the standards of normal-sized humans, but the ship systems had done a remarkable job of modifying Târgoviște's interior. Of course, he thought, at the moment only he and Vlad were awake to take advantage of that, and he tried to imagine how far from the world of his birth he'd come. The starship's best speed in hyper was just under six times that of light, and they'd left the Sol System astern three months earlier, which meant they'd covered a light-year and a half as normal space measured things. It would take them another forty years to reach their destination: the Shongairi's home star system. And when they did . . . .

His jaw tightened. A part of him absolutely agreed with Vlad. There was only one way to be certain the Shongairi never again threatened humanity, and as Gunny Meyers had pointed out, the one thing that couldn't be disputed about capital punishment was that it had a very low rate of recidivism. Yet another part of him remembered the tearing anguish of losing his own daughters without even one last chance to hug them, tell them how much he'd loved them. And that part of him shied away from becoming the very creatures he'd most hated in the name of retribution.

Maybe that's a good thing, he reflected. I told Dave Dvorak I wouldn't let Vlad turn into a monster again, so maybe it'd be just as well if I didn't turn into one, either. Speaking of which

"There are still some things about this whole vampire business I'm trying to figure out," he said, and Vlad paused in the commands he'd been entering.

"Only some?" Vlad's eyebrows quirked.

"Well, a lot, really," Buchevsky admitted. "Like why I don't feel any need to be drinking human blood. Or why sunlight makes me itch like hell but doesn't melt me into dust that blows away on the breeze."

"You may, perhaps, have already perceived that the legends of the nosferatu are somewhat less than completely accurate," Vlad replied dryly.

"You might say." Buchevsky snorted.

"Well, my Stephen," Vlad sat back in his chair, one hand on the table, "I am reasonably certain you cannot have been more taken aback by those differences than I. It would appear my sturdy Romanian peasants' grasp of our condition was less than perfect. In so many ways, actually. It was not until the headlong progress of science in the twentieth century that I began to realize just how imperfect."

"Really?" Buchevsky folded his arms across his chest. "Somehow I hadn't thought of putting 'Count Dracula' and 'scientist' together in the same sentence."

"Scarcely surprising. However, when one lives for several centuries, one acquires at least a smattering of knowledge about a great many things. And, for obvious reasons, I was what I suppose one might call moderately curious about my own origins and state. I have never been able to discuss it openly with breathers, of course, but that has not prevented me from thinking about it a great deal. Especially about the fact that it bears so little resemblance to the legends and folklore about it."

"I can see that. And what have your smatterings of knowledge told you about it?"

"Well, as I am certain you are yourself aware, however cursed we may be in some ultimate sense, at least we are not 'cursed' to be ravening, blood-drinking monsters every night." Vlad spoke lightly, but Buchevsky sensed a weary lifetime behind the words. "As I say, it took quite some time for me to develop a theory as to why that is, and why, I suspect, you 'itch' so badly in direct sunlight. Despite the folklore, it is not the 'purifying and cleansing' effect of sunlight which causes our kind so much distress, particularly when we are newly come to it, my Stephen. The problem is that we are . . . overeating."

"Overeating?" Buchevsky repeated, and Vlad snorted.

"We do not sustain ourselves on the stolen life force of others, Stephen! Rather we absorb energy directly from our environment — both electromagnetic and radiant, it would appear — and our sensitivity to it is strongest when we are youngest. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that as we become older as vampires our ability to tolerate the absorption without pain grows. I have theorized for many years that in direct sunlight we are simply overloaded until we learn to deal with it, and our experience when we seized Thikair's ships would seem to confirm that. Would you not say so?"

Buchevsky's shudder wasn't at all feigned as he remembered the exquisite agony of the journey to orbit on the exteriors of the Shongair shuttles. It was fortunate that Vlad had warned them what they were about to experience — and that every one of them had been so . . . motivated to endure it. It had been considerably worse than being killed, as he knew from personal experience, and it had taken several minutes for them to recover even after the shuttles entered their docking bays.

"To be honest, I was not at all certain that we would survive the intensity of radiation in space, especially in the concentrations of the Van Allen belts," Vlad admitted.

"Kind of forgot to mention that to the rest of us?" Buchevsky asked with a wry smile.

"Oh, no, my Stephen! I did not forget. I simply chose not to concern you with things which could not be controlled. Would you have declined to attempt the journey if I had shared my thoughts with you?"

"No." Buchevsky shook his head, expression momentarily grim. "No, Vlad, I don't think a single one of us would have turned back, even if you'd told us we probably wouldn't make it. Hell!" His expression lightened, and he snorted. "Every one of us had already beaten the odds just to make it that far! Of course we'd have figured we'd make it all the way!"

"No doubt." Vlad smiled, but both of them knew the truth. It wouldn't have been optimism that sent them on a potential death ride; it would have been determination, rage, and fury.

"At any rate, our experiences on the journey appear to me to offer ample confirmation of my original theory. And it is also the reason that our fellows who chose to sleep away the voyage found it so easy to go into 'hibernation.' I have done so myself on occasion, although it requires isolation from the energy all about us. Earth and stone were the only materials available for 'insulation' when I first began to comprehend how the process worked. No doubt that explains the legend that the vampire must return to his 'native earth' during daylight. The only way he could get any true sleep was to bury himself!"

"Yeah," Buchevsky agreed with a laugh. "I can see that — if you're right about 'absorbing' energy."

"I am as certain of it as I am of any other aspect of our existence, my Stephen. And while we can subsist on extraordinarily meager amounts of energy, we lose much of our capabilities if we are left in a state of energy deprivation for an extended time. The shielding on these ships is sufficient to protect breathers from the radiation hazard even here in the hyper-space, which means that it 'protects' us, as well. Fortunately, it would appear even Hegemony electronics leak sufficient energy to sustain us at minimum operating levels. But that's the reason our fellows could retire to the missile magazines, shut down the electronic systems, and hibernate until we choose to wake them once more."

"I was tempted to join them," Buchevsky admitted. "It's gonna be a long trip. But if I had, I wouldn't have figured out you were a fellow film nut and gotten my postgrad course in cinematography!"

"Indeed," Vlad said, but his smile acknowledged that the true reason Buchevsky had remained aware was to keep him company.

"I have to say that if I've turned into an energy eater, I'm at least grateful that I can still enjoy the occasional beer," Buchevsky said.

"Liquids are relatively easy for our kind to imbibe and . . . process, although we scarcely need them on any regular basis, which may be another part of the notion that we drink blood, since we so seldom consume solid food. I fear you can experience only the taste in your present state, however; I have become 'inebriated' on an excess of sunlight upon occasion, but alcohol no longer affects us. I do believe that eating and drinking also helps to sustain us in some fashion, as we grow older. I would postulate that it provides a form of . . . call it replacement biomass. I was quite surprised the first time that I realized I actually felt hungry again, and our appetite for food and drink never become more than a shadow of what it was when we were still breathers. Within a few more decades, however, you will once again be able to eat and enjoy a good steak or salad upon occasion. Until then, I would recommend against it, however."

"Yeah, figured that part out for myself. Talk about heartburn!" Buchevsky shook his head. "But, man, wrapping my head around this seems to get harder, not easier, as I go along!"

"I realize that. It has been difficult for me, many times. And I regret that I inflicted this upon you without your permission. That is something I have always tried to avoid, whatever the novels and the films or legends may say."

"Not like you had a lot of choice," Buchevsky pointed out. "If you hadn't, I'd be dead — and so would Jasmine, Calvin, and Francisco. And everyone else on Earth, by now, now that I think about it."

"True." Vlad nodded. "Yet the fact remains that I did not ask, and the fact that you would have died otherwise does not absolve me of that." He looked away for a moment, his expression troubled, then returned his gaze to Buchevsky. "In the early days, immediately after I realized what had happened to me, I acted without thought — and without restraint. Too many of those I brought over in those early days were even darker than I, and some of them . . . reacted poorly to what I had done to them. Indeed, some of them . . . ."

His voice trailed off, and his expression was bleak.

"I was monster enough before the change, my Stephen," he said, after a moment. "To see what I could do after the change was sufficient to terrify even me, however, and some of my 'children' were far worse than I, when the change came fully upon them. Take Bratianu is the oldest of us all, after myself. Indeed, he is the only of my original 'children' who remains."

"What happened to the others?" Buchevsky asked softly, and Vlad's mouth tightened. Then he faced the ex-Marine squarely.

"Destroyed, every one of them — by my own hand. I had no choice. Too many of them came through the change only to descend into madness . . . or worse. And others grew impatient of the restraint I imposed upon them. They saw no reason why such as we should not make ourselves princes or even kings."

"I can sort of understand that. But why didn't you? Make yourself a prince or a king, I mean?"

"I was a prince. I had no desire to take that upon my shoulders once again. All it had ever brought me was grief and guilt, and when I awakened, it was too late to stop the conquest which was already upon us by the time I ceased breathing."

"Awakened?" Buchevsky leaned forward in his chair slightly. "You mean like I did after you brought me across?"

"No, my Stephen." Vlad shook his head. "For you, the transition was a matter of days, only. For me —? Forty years passed between my last breath as a mortal man and the moment I opened my eyes once more."

"What?" Buchevsky blinked. "Why did it take that long?"

"If I knew the answer to that, I would know many things I do not," Vlad said dryly. His index finger tapped slowly, thoughtfully, on the tabletop, and then he shrugged.

"I have never actually described what happened to me to another, Stephen," he said very seriously. "Perhaps it is time I did."
Last edited by runsforcelery on Sat Aug 03, 2019 5:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
Top
Re: Into the Light Snippet #13
Post by Bluesqueak   » Sat Aug 03, 2019 12:00 pm

Bluesqueak
Captain (Junior Grade)

Posts: 368
Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2016 2:04 pm

Targoviste, huh? :lol:

So are we getting the Forest of the Impaled, or Vlad's reaction to his brother's assassination?

Or is that going to be the conflict?
Top
Re: Into the Light Snippet #13
Post by Joat42   » Sat Aug 03, 2019 12:51 pm

Joat42
Rear Admiral

Posts: 1438
Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2013 6:01 am
Location: Sweden

The whole energy-harvesting thing supports the nanite-theory posited earlier.

---
Jack of all trades and destructive tinkerer.


Anyone who have simple solutions for complex problems is a fool.
Top
Re: Into the Light Snippet #13
Post by Randomiser   » Sat Aug 03, 2019 1:04 pm

Randomiser
Rear Admiral

Posts: 1411
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:41 pm
Location: Scotland

Nit: the previous snippet was also numbered 13
Top
Re: Into the Light Snippet #13
Post by Randomiser   » Sat Aug 03, 2019 2:30 pm

Randomiser
Rear Admiral

Posts: 1411
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:41 pm
Location: Scotland

Another forty years, huh?

looks like the 2 parts of this story are set to run at very different rates, which would be a problem. I suspect it won't work like that. So what could change it?

Maybe they will encounter foes in phase space? Or 'friends' in phase space, racing, as they imagine, to rescue poor captive earth from the Puppies? I guess the Shongairi Phase Drive has all those super-redundant safety features too; wonder if they slow it down and by how much?

After another 14,600, or so, old movie viewings, Steven or Vlad or both will be crazy.
Top
Re: Into the Light Snippet #13
Post by Joat42   » Sat Aug 03, 2019 2:51 pm

Joat42
Rear Admiral

Posts: 1438
Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2013 6:01 am
Location: Sweden

Randomiser wrote:Another forty years, huh?

looks like the 2 parts of this story are set to run at very different rates, which would be a problem. I suspect it won't work like that. So what could change it?

Maybe they will encounter foes in phase space? Or 'friends' in phase space, racing, as they imagine, to rescue poor captive earth from the Puppies? I guess the Shongairi Phase Drive has all those super-redundant safety features too; wonder if they slow it down and by how much?

After another 14,600, or so, old movie viewings, Steven or Vlad or both will be crazy.

The idea that the phase-drive can made to go significantly faster due to scaling down the incredible amount of redundancies is sound.

Or perhaps, the whole 'check the discarded ideas' may come up with a phase-drive or another FTL that are magnitudes faster and will allow Earth to build new ships that will catch up with Târgoviște.

---
Jack of all trades and destructive tinkerer.


Anyone who have simple solutions for complex problems is a fool.
Top
Re: Into the Light Snippet #13
Post by Bluesqueak   » Sat Aug 03, 2019 2:58 pm

Bluesqueak
Captain (Junior Grade)

Posts: 368
Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2016 2:04 pm

Randomiser wrote:Another forty years, huh?

looks like the 2 parts of this story are set to run at very different rates, which would be a problem. I suspect it won't work like that. So what could change it?

Maybe they will encounter foes in phase space? Or 'friends' in phase space, racing, as they imagine, to rescue poor captive earth from the Puppies? I guess the Shongairi Phase Drive has all those super-redundant safety features too; wonder if they slow it down and by how much?

After another 14,600, or so, old movie viewings, Steven or Vlad or both will be crazy.


They might speed up the drive - or it might be that we get a flash-forward to 'Earth, Forty Years Later' and 'Targoviste, Forty Years Later' - once the story has established how Earth got unified and how humans adapted Shongairii tech. Certainly the next generation of Dvoraks has been carefully established.

From the excerpt, it's fairly easy to wake the others and go to sleep yourself, so it may be that Steven is simply on 'first shift', as it were. Vlad himself is used to spending a few decades doing nothing much. :)
Top
Re: Into the Light Snippet #13
Post by PeterZ   » Sat Aug 03, 2019 4:04 pm

PeterZ
Fleet Admiral

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

The Shongairi have colony worlds with Shongairi on them too. Are there any closer to Earth than 40 years away? Will Târgoviște approach one of those worlds first? I can see arguments for doing so. Especially if the inhabitants have something interesting to offer.

So if Agincourt happened in 1415 and Vlad died in 1476, the transformation happened over the 40 year period ending in ~1515. It makes sense that whoever from the Hegemony researching humanity would seek other human examples of brutality after the interpretation of Agincourt was disseminated. So if whatever nano/virus escaped containment to infect Vlad came from a Hegemony source, the timing works out. Perhaps, a researcher dug up Vlad's body to experiment. They returned the body when they finished thinking the experiment had run its course. Of course, the nano/virus continued working after the researchers left.

It'll be fun to find out just how much RFC wants to reveal in the next snippet.
Top
Re: Into the Light Snippet #14 (nitpicker!)
Post by PeterZ   » Sat Aug 03, 2019 6:12 pm

PeterZ
Fleet Admiral

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

One wonders if the phase drive involves computer controlled cycles of some sort. If it does, then the speed of the FTL drive is a function of the number and/or duration of those cycles. Cutting back the redundancy means increasing the perceived speed. So, if the degree of redundancy is en par with that of their nuke power plants, they can reduce it by a factor of 10 and still be within acceptable human risk tolerance.

That means a human designed phase drive can arrive in the Shomgairi home system in 4 years. I doubt RFC will give a greater advantage. That sort of strategic decision loop advantage will buy humanity enough time to build a population base large enough to survive the Hegemony's adaptation of humanity's risk tolerances.
Top
Re: Into the Light Snippet #14 (nitpicker!)
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:18 pm

DrakBibliophile
Admiral

Posts: 2277
Joined: Sun Sep 06, 2009 2:54 pm
Location: East Central Illinois

LIKE! :D :D :D :D
*
Paul Howard (Alias Drak Bibliophile)
*
Sometimes The Dragon Wins! [Polite Dragon Smile]
*
Top

Return to Out of the Dark