Another one from the Jace short-
Usual caveats, and comments appreciated, as always!
In the suite, he brought up the holo, logged into the secure comms and mumbled, “So you want a challenge…Lemme see…” He thought for a seg, leaned back and stared at the ceiling for another couple of segs, and finally said, “Access all secure databases. Find- GalPat, sub assault shuttle, sub data stream, sub data set…sub…failed mission- Find.” He got up, poured a drink and came back as the speakers dinged. He flopped back down and waved the holo screen to life, “Huh, there aren’t as many as I thought, either that, or these are the only ones with data,” he mumbled to himself.
He plugged the data cubes into the reader on the desk and said, “Download available data sets to ready cubes.” It only filled the one cube to a little under 50%, and he said, “Find- GalPat, sub assault shuttle, sub data stream, sub data set…sub…completed mission- Find.” He finished his drink, put the glass in the recycle, and came back to see it still churning, so he hit the fresher, getting ready for bed. He came back, and it had finally completed. It appeared there was a lot more successful missions, which made sense in some ways, and he cocked his head, “Download available data sets to ready cubes. Stop download when second cube is filled.”
He started to turn off the lights, stopped and turned back to the holo, “Access all secure databases. Find- GalPat, sub assault shuttle, sub loss rates, sub by year, sub historical to current- Find.” With that, he headed off to bed, still puzzling over the ratio of failed to completed missions.
After a restless night, he got up and flopped down in front of the holo, waved at it, and flipped through year after year of data. In frustration he finally said, “Search download data, consolidated loss rates- Find.”
A half seg later, two screens popped up, one a very detailed screen by date, location, mission,
Fleet, numerical sub command, unit number, and details if any, of losses. The second was a very truncated version, simply showing loss by year. He whistled as he looked at the truncated version, “Damn, thirty-one percent loss rate average? And some of them approaching fifty percent? How many troops have we killed?” He shook his head sadly, “So many lives lost before they even got on the ground. He scrolled back to the top and sighed, “Top secret. No wonder. If this got out…”
Pulling the two data cubes out, he got up, shoved them in his pocket, and headed for the Slop Chute for breakfast. As he ate, he thought about what he was about to do, This might be the major, or a major improvement in survivability for our troops if this autonomous control element is as good as it thinks it is. We’re seventy percent through the development of the next generation assault shuttle…
At the elevator head, the automatic security system said mechanically, “Two data cubes detected. Insert cubes in reader.” He inserted them one at a time, saw two green lights, and heard, “Data cubes authorized. Once in, never out.” He nodded and punched the button for the elevator.
Five segs later, he sat in front of the holo screen, “Good morning. I have something a little more challenging for you. Are you ready?”
“Good morning, Captain. I am ready.”
Roberto placed the data cubes in the system, then pushed the data to the pile, “Here you go. Actual data from assault shuttles. See if you can do a better job than they did.”
Thirty seconds later, the voice said, “I will run these, but I do not have parameters for an actual shuttle. May those be provided?”
Shaking his head, Roberto pulled up the new shuttle’s specs and pushed them across. “Use these.”
The voice asked, “G force Species limitations?”
“Figure twenty-two Gs there Ace. Humans can only stand seven Gs for any period of time.”
“System parameters state maximum emergency of thirty Gs for maneuvering.”
“That is a fifty percent overage for all practical purposes. The inertial dampers max out at fifteen Gs. Pilots are trained to not exceed twenty Gs unless there is a full emergency, and that’s computer limited to twenty-two Gs.”
“You humans are extremely frail. And the failure rate is extremely high at thirty-one percent. Is there a reason?”
“They got blown out of the sky. The data streams should show what was on their ECM and radar screens.”
“Blown out of the sky?”
“Destroyed, along with all the troopers on them,” Roberto said with a wince.
“I will run a thousand iterations of each and prepare a report. It will be available in twelve divs.”
Roberto decided to go to his regular office and relook at the specifications on the new assault shuttle after Ace said what it did. After palming out of the lab, he went by the Slop Chute and picked up a disposable carafe of coffee, carrying it gingerly to his office. Once there he poured a cup and waved the holo screen live, then leaned back in his chair, thinking.
After a few minutes, he leaned forward and called up the specifications for the new Mule version 2.0. Paging quickly through them, he found the inertial damper unit specifications, and smiled as he realized they had put in a 30 G capability. While it was considerably larger than an actual assault shuttle, the construction requirements were the same, and all of the internal racking and equipment was also high G rated. He laughed to himself as he remembered the hate and discontent over the 30 G autochef, with the manufacturer squalling at the requirement until she was told that while it wouldn’t be used at 30 Gs, it still had to survive 30 Gs if she wanted to sell it to De Perez Galactic.
After a desultory lunch out of the autochef in the break room, he went back and started drawing up a plan to install the autonomous controller in the new Mule. The best he could come up with was to remove the captain’s couch, and put the controller there, then cable it to the ship via the normal control runs that had connected to the couch. Another couple of hours, and he’d reconfigured the bridge by adding an additional offset captain’s station in place of one of the electronics technician’s positions. That one got relocated to Engineering, and he grumbled, “Where it should have been to start with. One on the bridge is enough.”
He punched the change order request into the system, looked at the priority, and smiled as it showed a completion date a week out. Looking at the time on the holo screen, he thought, Now let’s see what Ace has come up with. But I better eat first, no telling how long it will take to look at the data. He walked over to the Slop Chute, went through the line almost automatically, and took a table by himself. If this works, this could potentially revolutionize the assault shuttle capabilities. The ability to react at computer speeds to multiple inputs, making decisions in milliseconds based on direct feeds from sensors might allow survival rates to… He stopped as he picked up his tray, Don’t go there. Don’t get ahead of yourself Roberto.
Back down in the lab, he looked at the data rolling across the holo screen, 46% success, then 66% success, and the last set was at 81% success. He shook his head, not believing what he was seeing, “Eighty-one percent success rate? That’s impossible!”
The voice almost sounded smug, “No, it’s not. It is simply adequate utilization of the available assets and review of multiple interactions. In sixty-seven percent of the interactions, there is an exact sequence of missile firings against the inbound shuttles. It is prefaced by changes in the radar profile, giving just over one second of warning. Also the shuttles in seventy-seven of the interactions were launched in the same sequence and flew the same profiles toward the planet in question.”
One more set of data scrolled across the holo screen, “Based on elementary analysis of the available data sets, it is possible to get a ninety-two percent survival rate. This could be done by using decoys, varying launch profiles, and increasing the G limitations to twenty-five Gs,”
“That’s not…” Roberto started to say possible, but stopped, I wonder if anyone has ever done that analysis? “How did you get from forty-six to eighty-one percent?”
“Basic analysis. By maneuvering in anticipation of the missile firings, it is fairly simple. I do detect that it would not be a comfortable ride for you frail humans, as many maneuvers are at maximum G allowed.”
“Show me, Ace” Roberto demanded.
The voice gave the mission number, the fact that it was a mid-level launch and it was destroyed less than one seg prior to landing. “Observe. The red track is the actual mission track. The green track is the track that I flew to ground.”
He sat back and watched the two tracks, data bubbles almost overlaid until about four minutes into the mission. “First ECM hit, ECM changes now.” The green track diverged radically with a 22 G loading at that point, and by the time the actual shuttle had been destroyed, the green track had diverged by almost 20 miles in positioning, and 22,000 feet in height.
Roberto blew his breath out explosively, and realized he was sweating from the tension. “What is this launch sequence you are talking about?”
The display rolled up to a 2D depiction of a surface, showing red diamonds, with one yellow diamond more or less in the middle of the display. “This is not completely accurate, as reverse track data was used to plot the launch locations. However, it should be within five percent of nominal.”
“What is the yellow one?”
“That appears to be the controlling unit, and the ESM fixes back to that location as the most probable. The firing pattern is as follows.” The graphic changed to show pecker tracks of the missiles coming up from six of the launch sites, “They enemy’s goal is a six missile box surrounding where their predictive tracking thinks the shuttle will be. Above, below, front, rear, and each side.” Another set of launches was seen and they formed another box lower and in a different location from the first one. “The sixth launch was what killed the shuttle in this instance. The most launches found were eleven before a hit, and that one was less than ten seconds from the planet. Most of the successful launches were accompanied by Weasel strike fighters that were able to counter-battery the launch sites, reducing their effectiveness.”
Roberto rocked back muttering, “I can’t believe nobody has looked at this before.” He shook his head, “I think we might have to take you flying.”
“Flying,” the voice asked hopefully, “A real ship?”
“Possibly,” Roberto said, as the wondered, Now how the hell to do I get Ace out of here? Unless… We do have a secure set of links down here. If I compress and port the data to the secure system…and I could do a tight beam laser link from the office to the Mule during a flight. He looked askance at the pile of molycircs sitting on the lab bench, “I’ll need to build another pile. That’ll take a week or so.” He smiled, “Ace, if I build another set of molycircs that duplicate what you…inhabit, could you do the same thing to correct my parameters again?”
“Of course I can. Will I have access to the GalNet then?”
Roberto chuckled. “Ah, no. I’m afraid I can’t let you loose on the galaxy just yet.”
Two weeks later, Roberto sat back as the last data string from the Mule confirmed receipt of what he now thought of as Ace’s personality. He keyed the secure comm unit, “Zero Two, I’m showing good data transfer. I will meet you at the pad.”
A clipped metallic voice responded, “Roger Lab, Mule Two returning to the pad. That must have been a pretty hefty data file there Doc!”
“Zero Two, it was. See you shortly. Don’t power down when you land.”
“No worries, we’ve got a div or so before we could. The test engineers are wanting to run more testing on the Star Class engines with the reduced nozzles.”
“Copy. Lab out.” He deselected the comm module, wiped the data from the secure system, and palmed out of his office. He caught a ride to the De Perez area of the spaceport, palmed through the security facility, nodded to the manned desk and said, “Going out to Mule Two. Got to check on a data set.”
The security man nodded and said sotto voice into his desk, “Need a runabout to security, one lab rat going to Mule Two.”
Roberto chuckled, “Lab rat? That’s what you call us?”
The security man shrugged. “You folks run around like rats in a maze over there. I was there for ten years, couldn’t wait to get over here where there is some sanity! And less shit blows up over here!”
“Well, you do have a point there,” he said, smiling as he turned to the plasglass window. He saw the runabout approaching and walked quickly out to meet it.
He climbed up to the bridge of Mule Two and stepped onto the bridge, heard cussing, but didn’t see anyone. He walked between the consoles and saw the back of a man down on the floor his arm stuck between two consoles. “Need a hand,” he asked.
“No, what I need is a Deity damned wrist comp that won’t fall off my damn wrist.” With a grunt he extended his arm, “Gotcha you little sumbitch!” He popped up, wrist comp in hand, and Roberto realized it was the pilot.
“Kicking me out of my chair for that pile of shit makes my entry and exit different. I went to get up and drug my damn arm against that other console and pop there went the damn wrist comp. What the hell is that shit for, Doc?”
“First, I’m not a doc, I’m just a lab guy doing testing. It’s a new type of autopilot the company is looking at for the updated attack shuttle.”
The pilot grumbled, “It’s not going to stay there, is it?”
“No, if it works, it’ll be embedded. Right now we need it up here to observe and have your input on its actions in flight.”
He challenged Roberto. “I’ll have a disconnect button, right?”
“Of course. If I’ve got to ride along, it’s going to have a disconnect.”
“You already done testing on it?”
“In the lab, a little over a hundred thousand iterations of various scenarios.”
The pilot snorted, “So it can do the canned shit. We’ll see what happens when reality smacks its precious little memory.”
Roberto threw up his hands, “Pilot, I just do what I’m told. You don’t like it, take it up with flight safety. They approved the installation.”
The pilot mumbled something as he walked off the bridge, and Roberto shook his head in frustration. He sat at the navigator’s station, reconfigured the holo screen to a test screen, and drilled down until he found the compressed files he’d ported up. The data was all there, and he pulled two cables out of his shipsuit, completed the connection of the newly installed molycircs to the ship and keyed the power on.
He opened the port on the molycircs and started the data push. As soon as he saw data passing, he got up went and got a bulb of coffee. Coming back, he sat in the pilot’s seat, looking out the armorplast windscreen at the spaceport and operations going on. A Star Liner had just landed and he watched as the automated loaders shuffled around it like ants around a treat, extracting cargo, baggage and who knew what else, as a passenger module pulled up to the main cabin to debark the passengers.
A beeping noise interrupted his musing, and he went back to the navigator’s seat. The data was showing as transferred, and he expanded the data, then started the activation sequence. Alternating between the holo screen and the pile of molycircs sitting in the test rig, he held his breath until the odd blue glow, common to all molycirc installations started slowly, flickering and increasing in intensity, as he watched the boot sequence on the holo display. Well, it’s starting. Now the question is, did Ace make it across the port? He entered the start time for the molycircs in the ship’s log, and tagged it to leave the molycircs up and disconnected from the ship until he returned tomorrow. He went back into the ship system and removed all of the compressed data, then reconfigured the station back to navigation, finished his bulb of coffee, and detoured by the mess on the way out to put it in the recycle. I’ve got to come up with a way to differentiate the two entities. Maybe…Jace, I’ll call the one in the Mule Jace.