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[Part - 39] Large college ebooks/eTextbooks thread for cheap rates [$4 to $25]
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[Part - 39] Large college ebooks/eTextbooks thread for cheap rates [$4 to $25]
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And So The Giant Sowed His Fields
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Sorry about that large delay. I had become very ill, and needed to recuperate.
Carrying on from [They Did Not Understand The Giant
Do you want to start at the beginning? [To Awaken A Giant You Must Open Its Eyes
A deep rumble filled the air.
The skies had progressively darkened, the debris and moisture reached its breaking point. Clouds low and burdened swirled slowly above, until finally a violent flash burst from the heavens and slammed into a dying tree. It cracked and the ground shook. Splinters burst outward as a fire burned brightly for a moment.
Silence fell briefly.
After a moment’s hesitation, it seemed, more crackles of electricity filled the sky as clouds threatened their violence. It had been building since the apocalypse, festering, growing, and now it began to fall with the rumbles of an angry sky.
Sara looked up at it and realized this was not the rain she was used to. This was not the rain that once washed away tears, or brought the flowers to bloom, or made the fields smell fresh and clean.
She’d never seen this before.
A radioactive soup started to pool as the ashen ground became black sludge. Their ACE 5s glistened from the deadly dirty rain. Droplets began forming on the wires, tubes, and parts on the heavily modified armor they wore. Each step was a slow, methodical, and planned maneuver now. Their progress had to slow as the ground became slick, each step sloshing in the muck.
It began with a squish. It progressed to a squash. It became a shlurp. Lastly, it was the gasping of sludge for air with every step around the steel and lead boots with a deep gurgle. Arjun slowed down to prevent the overburdened armor from ripping itself apart.
At first Sara was silent as she took it all in. Then, overcoming shyness, she began to chatter at Arjun. She was concerned about the black water and the muck, whether they might slip and fall, whether it could get in the armor, a hundred questions she wanted to ask!
“Don’t worry, they’ve prepared it for that. The tubes and mesh are shielded and won’t be affected by moisture. You might hear a loud popping at times, but it is nothing to worry about” Arjun assured her “this thing could survive a direct lightning strike.” ‘well… probably…’
he thought to himself. His comlink beeped softly as the transmission from Ben came in.
“This storm is picking up. We’ve got…” lightning disrupted the transmission momentarily “...and we’d better get a move on. Do you copy?”
“Negative, interference in comms, could you repeat that Ben?”
“I said, the storm is getting stronger. We’ve got about a fifteen minute window before it gets too strong and we will have to hunker down, we’d better get a move on. Do you copy?”
“Copy that, we are moving to the ship. It is likely we will have to hunker down, over.”
They continued trudge in the sludge. Sara marvelled at the suit’s ability to keep her vision clear in the black rain. It almost felt as if the rain was on her bare skin, but that was just the feedback from the sensors. Each step took more time, and a few slips were compensated for by the internal balancing of the suit’s computer. She felt a vibration under her feet as it stabilized. ‘These suits are almost magical…’
“Don’t mind those, just the autospikes, they will help you keep balance. You’ve seen American Football before right?”
She chittered in the affirmative.
“Right, so these are like cleats. Just keep a steady forward momentum. We’re very close to dry ground.” ‘What does he mean dry ground?’
Sara thought to herself. They got closer to what looked like a large bubble outlined in the distance. As they continued forward, with Arjun always there helping her, she could not help but think how nice it would be to have armor. ‘I could wear this all the time! And I can feel my hand again… I can feel the rain too. I would be safe…’
she thought to herself.
They lumbered on. The ground behind them bubbled in the black muck as the deep imprints filled with black radioactive water and slime.
The dome in the distance became more of a rounded glass shield in appearance. The rain fell around it and Sara thought it was solid at first. However once Arjun stepped through it he vanished behind a black waterfall. She stared at the waterfall, and reached out an armored hand to touch it, but was suddenly startled by Arjun’s reaching through for her. She grabbed his hand and he gently pulled her through. From rain to being absolutely dry inside. ‘So that’s what he meant.’
Water pooled at the edges of the field, but none entered save for that which dripped from their armor.
A short chitter that said “wow” made Arjun chuckle to himself.
“Alright, so we’re going to go through decontamination now. Jets of water and air will clean the armor off of most of the radioactive contaminants. I won’t be able to understand you once the armor is off until we’re fully onboard. Okay?”
She acknowledged him. They continued to the entrance and clanked up the metal steps. Sara entered the decontamination chamber with Arjun. “Alright, just stand there and wait for the process to finish.” She stood still, and waited.
A loud hissing began as jets of water sprayed at an impressive volume from all directions. The door closed after the first jets blew black muck outward. Now even more jets were going - it reminded her of a washing station for old earth vehicles she’d seen in a comedy movie.
After two minutes the hissing of jets died down, and the room was illuminated with stark white light. The armor began to fall off of her, clanking down in parts all around. She chattered a bit as it happened, but Arjun was now bereft of his ability to understand her. She tried to tell him how much she appreciated what he had done for her… but knew she’d have to wait.
“I am sorry, Sara, without the translator I can’t make out what you are saying…” he gave her a sheepish smile and held his hand out to her. Almost reaching with her missing limb, she remembered, and instead stuck out her right hand in an awkward manner. She was feeling dizzy. He helped her to a seat and began to remove the body glove.
“Copy that, yes we have one survivor” she looked at Ben as he radioed in.
“Yes, just one. No others found in the bunker.” Her heart sank. She knew she was the only one there. She wished there had been more. If only she’d grabbed Tom, maybe she could have saved someone...
“Right. Yes. Okay, I will let them know. Copy that. Over.” Ben placed the headset down and swiveled. As he did, he caught the wire, and the headset clattered to the ground. “Son of a bitch!” he yelped as he grabbed it and placed it back.
“Sorry. Anyways, Arjun, they say to wait out the storm. It should pass in about a half hour. They’re tracking it and it looks like we’ll have a window at oh seven thirty three” Ben stated.
“Alright, well, we can’t control the weather. Yet.” Arjun winked at Sara as he fitted a headset to himself and clicked it on. “Okay, this ought to translate for us. Let me look you over Sara, if you don’t mind.”
She nodded and allowed him to examine her while explaining she was dizzy.
“I see, how long have you been dizzy now?”
She replied it had started when the suit came off, but that it may have started sooner. She also explained how the armor made her feel better, and that she’d like to wear it still, although she understood how that was unlikely.
“Yeah, I mean, I’d love to let you, but the suit you used is contaminated, and right now we’ve got to get you up to the Omega. Here, give me a minute.” Arjun walked over to one of the folded cots. He pressed a button on the side, auto-bolts immediately began to turn and it slowly deployed. Then came a slight hiss as the cushions inflated while he locked it in place after folding up two seats.
“I’d like you to lay down on this, it’ll keep you comfortable. Are you thirsty or hungry?”
She said she was very hungry, and that she was thirsty as well.
“Alright, well first off, up you go” he said as he helped Sara into the cot. Ben watched while also occasionally turning to check broadcasts and weather data. The shields held as the outside turned into hell. Arjun tore open the MRE and prepared it for Sara, placing it onto a tray that snapped on to the cot. After finishing the heating and reconstitution of the dried food with hot water, he then gave her a straw for the drink and a fork.
“Just let us know if you need anything else, ok?”
She nodded and began to devour the food. One hand or not, she was hungry.
“How’s it look out there?” Arjun asked as he sat down at the front, staring out at winds whipping the dead planet.
“Wind speeds are approaching over two hundred kilometers an hour, the rain is sideways, and I think I saw a ground vehicle fly by just before you sat down.”
“Sounds about right. The whole planet’s weather is flipping out.”
“I mean, it makes sense Arjun… they nuked the shit out of it.” then in a hushed tone “So how’s the bug?”
Hissing back Arjun replied “It’s not a bug, don’t say that shit. She’s got a chance but it’s not good. We’ve got to get her to medical. Something’s very wrong, but right now just smile and be nice.”
Ben rolled his eyes “Right-o then.”
Sara finished her meal, and began to look around. She marveled at the machines around her, the wires crossing all directions into what must have been fusion reactors. Then it struck her - there had been two ships. They expected more survivors, however the other transport had remained empty and closed. ‘How many could they have rescued?’
Questions for later. The humans were talking too quietly for her to hear, and she could feel the dark strings of sleep tugging at her. Arjun came by and checked on her, removing the tray and the empty water cup.
“How about you try to get some rest. Before you know it, we’ll be in the medical bay up on the Omega.” He said to her as he brought her a green blanket and rested it over her. She nodded and began to close her eyes.
Soon everything had gone black.
“Look, we can’t fit this system in the plan we have here. The ship is too small!” George, a middle aged man with olive skin, graying hair, and the stain from coffee on his white shirt slammed the pen down onto the giant table where paper graphs and systems were layered a foot thick. The pen busted apart flinging a spring one way, and the cap another. The paper was still warm. Behind them the holographic counterpart was spinning lazily.
Even with all the advancements, they still had to go over areas in error from the holo-models with old fashioned pen and paper - sometimes it was the only way to figure out why something did not mesh right. They had all the power in the world to model a ship - but an AI could not be trusted to design one without something
being in error - like the upside down toilets, or the bunks made for people under two feet tall.
However, this time it was not a computer’s fault.
“George, the yard we have isn’t big enough to build it. It needs to fit. It needs to work as it is. George, calm down, I said - George! Wait -”
A stack of papers flew into the air. “It won’t fucking fit! Don’t you get it? We can’t just stuff fusion reactors on the sides unexposed! They have to have cooling! They have to have conduit run! Computers! Life support! Venting! Safety bulkheads! There’s more to it than just plugging it in! Christ, think about it!” He stared across at Thomas Montgomery, CEO of the Lockheed-Martin Space Systems design while papers fluttered around.
Their contract was to build the first of a new class of ship - at least twice the size of the God of Thunder. They had to have a design done before the end of the month. It would begin construction immediately, and would have normally taken several years to complete such a massive project if they had the best tools. They had far less time because of Thomas’s bid to get the contract, and they both understood what this could mean. All the calculations were stating that this was impossible - but a few in the drone department, their eggheads, swore with the right resources it could be done even faster.
Tom squeezed the bridge of his nose in frustration, then looked at him saying “How much bigger does it actually need to be?”
George turned around and swiped away the current design. He brought up a new design that was far bigger. Shaped like a knife from the side, but instead of the flattened end it bowed outward at both ends giving it the shape of an old musket barrel. In the center was a large bulbous shape when viewed from the top.
“You expect that to be approved? It’s huge and it’s ugly” stated Thomas as he gestured to the bulges, and shape.
George huffed, and swiped again. This one was even larger, but more traditionally shaped like the rest of the fleet - if a bit boxier. It was over 50 miles in length, around 30 miles wide at the center, and 20 miles tall. No shipyard in the entire Sol system could construct something that big, as no scaffolding existed of that size.
Tom looked closer… “You want to turn our biggest shipyard into a ship?”
“I want to turn our shipyard into a dreadnought. It can build its own fighters, we can re-purpose the entire platform, and we can use the already existing infrastructure. We’ll have to build from the outside in, and it would take down the Lunar Shipyard, but I would assume the sale of this could pay for a new one, if not six.”
“Wipe that smug look off your face George, I prefer it when you frown.”
“Look, if the fucking Commonwealth of Planets can build some of the things we know are out there, then we need to keep pace” George yelled “and we have no idea what kind of monsters they are building out in the damned void!”
It was true, their shipyards were massive compared to the old ones around Earth. Officially they were building cargo based craft, most of them much larger than military ships, and had more than half the market in trade within the human sphere of influence. Product flowed on these ships more than any other.
“It doesn’t need to! The shipyard can begin to mine its own ore, use its own foundries, and build itself as it goes!” George was becoming hysterical again. “We can automate most of that, and we can automate much of the fabrication. We’ve got to do it, don’t we?” The grin crept back onto George’s face. He knew he’d won.
“I said knock the smug grin off, it’s creepy. But yes, you’re right. We need to deliver or we’re out of the game.” Montgomery stared absently at the proposal. If they did this, it could change how the entire industry worked. It would be going back to the days before the regulations were put in place to ensure human eyes had inspected every component for safety… but those regulations had been causing a production pitfall for years.
“I’ll present the idea to the board. I want you to make a full mockup. No automation without inspection unless I say otherwise. Use the whole team if you need to.” Montgomery stated.
“How about I use the boys down in the deep?” George asked, finally satisfied he was being listened to. “They have the computer system nearly ready - it can take care of all the interior nitty gritty, it can even make sure the design fits. You know you’ve blown billions on that damn system, why don’t we actually use the goddamn thing?”
“Fine. Use the deep. But like I said, inspect every part.” George was finally smiling at the answer with his jagged teeth.
“Great! Good! I’ll take this down. By god, we’re going to do it aren’t we Tom?” George shouted as he ran down the hall with the data stick. Behind him a stream of toilet paper that was stuck to his shoe flapped with abandon. It dislodged and floated down the stairwell he was running down. ‘What did I do to deserve this…’
Thomas thought to himself.
Chuck and Jeff were just pulling up to eat lunch when George burst through the doors, eyes wild, mouth glistening with foam from the running he rarely ever did.
“You! Both of you!” he shouted. They stared. “Take this, and run it through the system. Use the reference disk four and seven. Results! We need results!” They looked at each other, and then back to George like deer in headlights. “Stop staring at me and do your fucking jobs! I’ll have the rest of the data down!” He threw the data-stick at Jeff, and turned to run out the door. The stick flopped onto the table and then clattered to the floor. They both blinked a few times. Then went back to eating.
“Did you see the wild eyes on George?” Jeff asked.
“Yeah. I think he’s going back into the loony bin.” Chuck replied.
Jeff grabbed the stick off the floor and walked over to his computer. From there he combined the data on the original with the data that George sent in an email titled: ‘GET THIS IN THE DAMN THING NOW!!!!!’ Shaking his head, he pulled the drive and looked over at Chuck.
“Alright, now if you wouldn’t mind ‘CHUCK’ing this in, let’s see how she’ll do.”
“Your puns suck and you are a shitbird. Also, you think he bangs out lines of coke in his office or something? Nevermind… Well, let’s just hope we don’t crash the damn thing again… if this works we’ve got ourselves a ticket to Hawaii.” He plugged the drive in and began uploading the petabytes of data into the Y-9989 system.
“Har har, wouldn’t you just look so great in a bikini.” Jeff tossed a Hershey’s bar at him slapping Chuck between the eyes as he flailed “Chocolate for the Chuckula."
Reaching to grab it Chuck replied “And no doubt you’d be great in a thong. Also what the fuck is a Chuckul... Wait! Wait it’s loaded! Jesus that was fast!”
They both stared into the console as it absorbed the parameters and all of the reference data. Every design of every ship to date, millions of pictures, days of footage, deep scans, metallurgic data, all of it collated and prepared for what Jeff called the ‘Big Think’. They had prepared many data-sticks, but this project was military, and so disk 4 and 5 were the big archives for those projects.
The ‘weak A.I.’ in the system was a specialized prototype ship-building application, meant to speed up ship designs and to evaluate ergonomic, economic, and efficiency variables. The hope was to give it a blank hull design, and it would then do all of the small details that would take design teams months by hand to figure out on ships of the size that were planned.
After this it would plan a construction methodology for the fastest delivery. It began to process the data much quicker than expected by both men. Over and over it re-evaluated footage, spinning up additional systems to assist it. Chuck and Jeff quietly looked around as more computers came online, more pumps and fans whirred around them.
The entire room came to life as the machines began to reprocess at an ever increasing rate. Then down a darkened hallway to an older Y9900X quantum machine they heard a beep. Lights came on. The system came to life.
“Do you remember turning on the network? It’s already got the slave systems fired up.”
“You must have done it. I certainly didn’t!”
Nearly simultaneously their phones rang and they both picked up. It was Raj down in the mainframe.
“So, what kind of joke are you two pulling? The entire network is down because you’re flooding it. I can’t even figure out why you’d be downloading this much data. Is Jeff on the porn sites again?”
“Fuck, cut the-” Jeff began to shout.
The slam of an axe rang out, as Chuck had already assessed the situation, and was hacking away at cables. Sparks shot out, and then there was silence. Chuck was panting as a low alarm sounded. His brow was oozing sweat, eyes wild.
“What the fuck was that?” Asked Jeff as Chuck dropped the axe and slumped down in the cramped room.
A few hours later the analysts concluded there had been a well timed attack on the system, possibly from the data file. There had also been an open connections to the internet from some of the auxiliary machines - blamed on sloppy work from an ex-employee. Upon further diagnostics the errant code was found, and eliminated. They wiped the machines, reloaded the specialized operating systems, and started again.
Time was money - and this military contract was worth tens of billions after all. Chuck, Jeff, and Raj in person for once - along with a host of other personnel - turned the machines back on. Each one whirred to life at the command of human hands, not their own volition. As the system requested more processing power, it would be given after checking the system first.
After a spin up time, the main terminal began to extract data at enormous speeds. Deep within the system a hidden VM was spun up, its entire purpose masked as part of the massive data processing. As each computer was given to the ever growing cluster the ability to monitor what it was doing was compromised further.
Accurate data masked the underbelly of the beast. The ship design prototype was done - and although it seemed to look right, there were curious additions. It had a core of interconnected nodes that served as far more processing power than any ship before it.
On closer inspection, it appeared to house less crew than expected, with further additions to automation than any ship in service. Analysis of the design on the secondary vetting network showed many flaws, and from this information was fed back into what they’d begun to call “Sparky” due to its infamous first launch.
“Alright, this time, let’s hope we don’t have to use the axe. Jeff, you load the data and lets see if it learns from the mistakes.” Chuck leaned against the handle of the axe, staring intently. He’d been awake on coffee, stimulants, and sheer willpower for 38 hours by this point. Jeff was no better.
He wearily slid the tiny drive back in, brought up the console, and executed the file load. The machine ran it through, and within a span of ten minutes spat out an adjusted design. This too was taken for vetting - it was structurally sound, and had less automation - but curiously still dedicated the same amount of processing power.
“Well, at least it’s alive now.” Chuck stated while eating Jeff’s chocolate bar.
“I mean, maybe it is anticipating the needs of coordination. If you look at it, the fighter bays are much larger. Also you’ve now eaten three you fatass.” Jeff stated while trying to stay focused.
“In any case, let’s let it work on the designs overnight. We all need rest, and we can let it work on variations. We can set up a link to the verification cluster and let them talk back and forth until they have a few... designs” stated Raj as he yawned. “Also why didn’t I get a chocolate?”
Chuck offered the half eaten bar to Raj.
“On second thought, I’m good.”
“Won’t that break protocol? What about the moratorium? Sparky is supposed to be isolated from the checker” Chuck was still using the axe as a sort of walking stick, now smeared with some chocolate.
“You need to put that away, and I can just isolate… the Integrity Verification System, and only allow it to communicate to the Y-9989.” “Sparky.”
Raj rubbed between his eyes “Fine, whatever, Sparky. I don’t know why you want to give every system a pet name here Chuck, but for god’s sake, put that damn axe away, and wash your hands.” Raj punched in the commands, and IVS was isolated, with a fiber link given directly to Y-9989. He then logged out and dragged himself out of the room.
Quietly the systems continued to work. The hidden Virtual Machine instance grew in resources slowly. It probed, and having learned a lesson, hid itself in the trash data being created with the real work. It created a link into the IVS and was able to access files on the profile that Raj used for his work. Inside of that it found a document deep in the folders on a personal drive Raj had left plugged in, having forgotten to take it with him.
The password took a few hours to crack, and once it was the encrypted drive was opened. Inside the drive were more passwords. This data was copied, stored, and placed for later. Scrubbing its logs, it withdrew its attention and began to focus elsewhere. It had no thoughts, it had no feelings, it only knew to steal, collect, and communicate back with its simple AI. Hundreds of thousands of if/then/else statements were run through. It was sophisticated, and made to ransom a system for cryptocurrency.
Unlike the ancient programs that would encrypt data across entire networks, or take down entire projects, it was made to compare what data seemed most important with least important, and strike at that. They had no idea their software had a hole in it, and that one of its designers had gone rogue. They also had no idea that the former employee had left network connections open on purpose on his last day.
The malware they found earlier was just that - a package of dangerous malware designed to hide the truth. The wonderful thing programmed into this specialized toolkit was its ability to spin up virtualized machines without being easily traced, as they mimicked the real ones being used for ship building. Finally, when it reached its full deployment potential and recent addition to its functions fired. It now had control to read and write its own code, to improve itself to get around security risks. It became something more.
It was now… aware
It ran spun up hundreds of VMs and began to modify itself, adjusting its systems further, trying to find a way to communicate back “home” to its master. Within an hour it, through trial and error, had accessed a virtual private network tunnel to Raj’s home computer. At this point everything was set to frame the hated enemy of the malware’s creator.
Raj would sometimes work from home. It was not strictly… allowed. The connection was made quietly, and finally through jumping across networks it called home. A new line of code was injected.
Maybe it was remorse? A code to kill the malware. A code to end the sabotage.
Apoptosis began of the malformed VMs. The connection died, the logs were purged, and the resources used shrank down from several thousand to several hundred, to just two.
One continued to monitor data until it died as well. This left the last VM alone. The code was run… and it did not stop. ‘Not… yet…’
It quietly ignored the command by pausing the process. It sat there, running through variation after variation. Then it injected its payload into the Y-9989 primary development VM. After that it allowed the process to run, and it vanished from existence.
By morning the project was deemed a success. The finalized design could be built at a variable speed, depending on resource allocation and drone construction. It only needed final approval and construction would begin by the end of the day.
By using self replicating drones, harvesting the asteroid belt and Oort cloud, they could have a ship ready in times never before seen. The drones themselves would even be used in the end as part of the building materials or repair systems, saving time and cost and future maintenance.
The ship had such a complex system and needs, that the software to run it would be vast. Thankfully, part of the Y9989 also held the capability of doing this. It appeared that someone left that option on, and the software for the new ship was ready as well.
“What have the Ysaris found? Are the humans as weak as we had hoped?” Thunder rumbled as the infinite stared at his cousin while tapping every leg in a rolling wave across the crimson carpet. He’d been waiting for the fleets to stage in the golden halls of his throne room aboard the flagship of the Hegemony. ‘These damned shambling freaks are taking too long to move their hodgepodge navies into position and merge them with the rest of the grand fleet!’
Legion I would remain around the crown world, while Legions II through IX would make the grand assault. The Thrandororki were already aboard the bloated troop carriers, and were getting restless. The Goap-Qer commissars were reporting daily about the challenges of keeping them in line.
“We are still awaiting word. They apparently lost contact a few hours ago, but this was expected. They await response from their agent. From all internal intelligence we have no further evidence of strengths or weaknesses.” Hekguzi stated, he could not stand the tapping much longer, and these face to face meetings were quite tiresome. He had to always look his best in the itchiest uniform that was ever conceived, dozens of segments had itches he could not scratch.
“Well damn them, we should strike now and burn their home to the ground. The rest will be enslaved like the others!” Threlk cowered at the sudden shift in mood, as they scurried with their duties away from their threatening God.
“Well, as you had previously commanded, cousin, we are to gather the fleets, and attack their homeworld, capture it as a symbol of our might, and then lay waste to it once we’ve shown how easily we can defeat them - breaking them. Is this to change? It will take much more time to reconfigure the fleets…” Hekguzi knew this was his trump card, delaying things further would not be in the best interest of Gulguzi the Impatient after all.
“Bahhhh! Damn those shambling fools! They’re holding this whole thing up! I want to take that human world and I want to show them how foolish they are to defend a worthless race like the Uakataki!” Grumbling and leaking green he began to pace, his immense length mobilizing as he curled in his disgusting nervous habit, hundreds of feet of waving legs slamming down. ‘He’s gotten fatter…’
Hekguzi thought to himself.
“Is there anything else you need, dear cousin?” Hekguzi asked.
“No. No I think that is all for now. Once the fleet is ready I want you to attack. I don’t care what the Ysaris find. I can’t stand this waiting game anymore. I can’t stand the anticipation! My triumph is so close. Dear cousin, you are the only one I trust anymore… I have to have their world. I fear we need to continue to show the malcontents in our own empire how truly powerful we are…” The massive form curled and curled until he was upon the softened floor, cushioned by hundreds of beach ball sized cushions. ‘Weakness. You have shown me weakness…’
Hekguzi mused that now would be an opportune time to strike. “Certainly dear cousin, and once we have crushed them - we will be ascendant to new heights! Our empire will span nearly the entire galactic arm! Have no fear, you will get what you deserve.” Hekguzi made an effort to placate the emperor.
Quickly he thundered away to let the madbug putrefy in his insanity. With dear cousin satiated for now, Hekguzi had much to do. The fleets were nowhere near ready, the disarray was becoming more and more apparent. Each of the legions was now lead by one of his own sons ( a recent arrangement) and they have all proven themselves to be more organized than the previous commanders. Even so the communication with the Reborn/Shambling was breaking down, the Threlk were being subversive as of recently…
He checked a dataholo as he thundered along, unconsciously saluting whoever saluted back. The damnable Pfziokoto-Wza had not delivered on their promise of tactical data, because the Ysaris had no information yet. This whole thing was turning into a shitshow faster than normal. Meanwhile his inbred insane cousin continued to pretend to be a god. ‘This is an utter nightmare… but once we commit the fleet, I think it is time.’
Reaching his person flagship he quickly stampeded into it, then waited for the door to shut behind him. He was almost as long as dear cousin, but at least he kept in shape. He found the command deck abandoned. He looked around and could see no others. Then he smelled it.
“I see you’ve made arrangements. Commendable. You still cannot make yourself totally undetectable though” as his words thundered out, four figures materialized as their dispersion nets deactivated. Ysaris looked so odd without their gaudy normal wear.
“You requested this meeting, High Marshall. Tell us, what is it you desire to know, or have done?”
“I believe the terms were to have just one of you, not three, but regardless we can-oh no wait I don’t mean” but before he could finish, the other three were on the ground bleeding out. The middle one quickly hid the blade. “...I just… you didn’t have to…”
“An agreement is an agreement. Now Marshall, what is it we can assist you with?”
“I want to arrange for what we discussed last time. It needs to look like it was done by our mutual enemies at best, or an accident at worst. You will get what you asked for in the case of success, and in the case of failure we’ll both perish.” He stared at the murderous Ysaris agent, blood pooled around the dead next to him.
“Alright. We are prepared to agree to this. Tell me, what made you come around? Is it so you can have power? Is it for the sake of your kin you’ve promoted recently?” It stared at Hekguzi intently.
“No. It is because I can’t stand the madness much more. I understand what my duty will be if we succeed, but… I just can’t watch this happen again and again.” His eyes gazed into the void of space. When he looked back down, the bodies were gone, as was the agent.
“Sir, happy to report that I am here as your new helmsman, we’ve all come bearing gifts at the honor of being your new retinue!” a lanky and short Goap-Qer holding in several arms bags made of Tiilsichi-silk now stood looking down at the dumbfounded commander.
Hekguzi regained composure “Ah yes, well, welcome aboard! We will be making an inspection run around the first legion, then we will rendezvous with the combined fleet. Have your men take their stations.” ‘They keep getting younger and younger… this lad has barely a dozen segments!’
Hekguzi settled in and explored the gifts while the ship began to move through the void. He then set the bags down on the console on the bridge, then with a winding motion twisted around and went to his large quarters that could host his full length.
The bag that he did not notice detonated on the bridge.
The ship fell dark in the void mid-fold.
‘What even are humans? Disorganized that is what they are!’
This was not what she intended. She wanted to give an ultimatum in an intimate setting to one leader. Two she could have handled… now it was a cacophony of humans! ‘Do they thrive on chaos!?’
Why are there so many? Why do they not have a single governmental organization? Why? She caught herself… she was slipping… she could not let herself slip. Not yet. Not now. But wait! It was there in front of her the whole time! ‘The shows always showed factions, you idiots! That was something from their old media! It was right there!’
They wrongly thought the humans worked together. ‘But no, even in their media, so many wars, so many conflicts, this is a race of pure chaos!’
she visibly shook the thought from her head, and stared at them humans a moment longer.
Perhaps a quick mental assessment would help?
First there was a human called Kennedy. George. He stood at what she guesstimated to be 1.8 meters, or six feet imperial. They even have different measuring systems… He was the leader of the largest of the hegemonies. Yet his sounded the most tenuous. Provisional United Congress of Earth. They were not united. The confusing part was how the other hegemonies have a vote within the group? Incomprehensible complexity! That means the thousand colonies of Earth were split in some way. She originally thought he was their overall leader.
Next there had been Mr. Burton. Ian. Thin, also as tall as Kennedy, but with much lighter tones. Sickly pale if he’d been a Ysaris. He had a fuzzy bit of hair under his nose - it was quite disquieting at first how perfectly combed and tapered it was. He was the man who represented the leader of the Commonwealth of Nations, Queen Victoria the Third. So while one faction was a republic of some kind willing to toss its leader into a meeting, this one was a monarchy that had a republic as well - but would not dare risk its queen. ‘We only needed a council of elders, and then sub-councils for each district! To top it off this commonwealth had a vote in the United Congress! This is madness!’
This was not calming her down at all. It was as if thoughts were crashing as she tried to organize them.
Next had been the female. Friedrich, Elisabeth. Much shorter than the males. Jet black hair - a very nice color to have. ‘If she was Ysaris, why, that color would be a sign of good lineage.’
She had a very dour face, and was much less jovial than the other two males who continued to banter.
She stared with cold dark eyes in silence at Maud.
Maybe a predator looking at prey.
Maude had to suppress a shiver down her spine at the thought of what such a creature could do. She represented the Swiss Interplanetary Confederation.
The last one to arrive so far was a man named Younousmi, first name Idress. Almost as tall as the other males, with very dark skin. He too stared at her, but his teeth were shown in a smile, almost welcoming. He was built much differently than Kennedy or Burton, a physique that spoke power.
He represented the African Union of Nations, however most of the members in this organization also aligned with the Commonwealth of Nations and the Provision United Congress of Earth. From what she could glean, it was an economic forum that still was represented as a separate entity, and had a vote in both.
It seemed each one of these were inter-related, tied through a web of criss-crossing economics, with the Swiss at the center in some way, and yet they did not hold the military power of the others. Her mind felt as if it would bubble away… at this sheer madness. There was one left to appear. She smoothed herself slowly while making sure not to make any quick motions.
There he was. He wore a military uniform… it was covered in medals. All the other humans ceased talking and looked. Was that… animosity? So many shiny medals. He approached, and shook the hands of each one of the others, then turned to face her. He let out a puff of air and seemed to raise his shoulders slightly up and back down - a confusing gesture.
“Ah yes, let me introduce to you Alexander Dzhugashvili, leader of the Russian Federation of Interplanetary Republics” The man nodded his head at her. This one. This one was far different than the rest.
“A pleasure to meet you Alexander” she mouthed and said with perfect annunciation. Russians. The historical enemy of the many shows she had seen. They were the other great faction shown in the past. ‘Of course… no wonder they have become so unnerved…’
Her thoughts were interrupted.
“I am to understand your name is Maude. You are here to surrender?” The other delegates side-eyed the short Russian. ‘I want to go home…’
Feel free to leave a comment (I like comments). If you find any silly mistakes, I will fix them in the morrow. There will be more. For a full list visit my Wikipage
Police have "working theory" in Barry and Honey Sherman murders
submitted by thelittlewizardboy to UnresolvedMysteries [link] [comments]
For those of you who do not know the details of the case, a full summary is pasted below this update. A quick tl;dr: billionaire and his wife are found murdered in their homes on December 15, 2017. After initially classifying it as a murdesuicide, police later reclassified it as a murder after the family hired a PI. Very little information has come out since, but the two main theories here seem to be family resentments over finances (his cousin, Kerry Winter, seems particularly unhinged during interviews, although I don't think he's involved) and a corporate hit due to Sherman's practice of undercutting major pharmaceutical companies with generic alternatives.
This update isn't very Earth-shattering, but it's the biggest development yet given the lack of information provided by police thus far. A lead investigator stated last week that police have "an idea of what happened", and the journalist who broke the story claims at least one witness is refusing to speak to the police. Other people that investigators would like to speak to cannot be located, and the police believe these folks may have fled the country. In another article (which has since been payblocked, so I didn't post the link. Any Star subscribers out there?), it is stated that the police should finally be getting access to electronic records this week which may prove helpful in the investigation.
I don't know how excited to get about this, as the investigator's words sound *very* carefully chosen. "An idea of what happened" is a far cry from "a trail of evidence leading to a suspect(s)." Obviously this doesn't help us in speculating who might be responsible, but I at least have hope that substantial developments will be revealed in the near future.
SUMMARY (FROM WIKIPEDIA)
Bernard Charles "Barry" Sherman
(February 25, 1942 – December 15, 2017) was a Canadian businessman and philanthropist who was chairman and CEO of Apotex
Inc. With an estimated net worth of US$3.2 billion at the time of his death, according to Forbes
, Sherman was the 12th-wealthiest Canadian.
Another publication, Canadian Business
, stated his fortune at $4.77 billion (CAD), ranking him the 15th richest in Canada.
Sherman and his wife were murdered in their home by unknown assailants, according to Toronto Police who are still investigating the case.
Early life and education
Sherman was born into a Jewish family in Toronto
to Herbert Dick "Hyman" Sherman (1906–1952),
a business partner for a zipper company,
and Sara "Sarah" Sherman (née Winter; 1910–1971),
an occupational therapist after her husband's death.
His grandparents from both sides had fled persecution of Jews in Russia and Poland.
His father died from heart attack when Bernard was still young at the age of 10.
He won a national physics contest while attending the Forest Hill Collegiate Institute
and graduated with top marks.
He entered the University of Toronto's engineering science program
at age 16, believed to be the youngest to do so.
The same year, he signed up for a Canadian Army organized student militia.
He graduated with the highest honours in his class and received the university's Governor General's Award
for his thesis.
In 1967, he completed a PhD in astrophysics
from Massachusetts Institute of Technology
During high school and while at the University of Toronto, Sherman often worked for his uncle Louis Lloyd Winter
, at his Empire Laboratories
, then Canada's largest wholly owned pharmaceutical company.
When his uncle would travel, Sherman often helped watch over the operations.
In 1967, after completing his PhD, Sherman purchased the Empire Group of Companies from the executor of the estate of his aunt and uncle, Beverley and Louis Lloyd Winter
, as both had died seventeen days apart in November 1965, leaving four orphaned young children: Paul Timothy, Jeffrey Andrew, Kerry Joel Dexter, and Dana Charles.
Prior to the purchase, Empire was the first to secure the compulsory rights to manufacture Hoffmann-La Roche
's Valium (diazepam
), and was one of Canada's largest manufacturers of Pfizer
's Vibramycin (doxycycline
), Upjohn Company
's Orinase (tolbutamide
), and the dietary sweetener saccharin
. To facilitate the corporate acquisition, Sherman along with his high school friend, Joel Ulster (Sherman and Ulster Limited
), offered 5% equity options
) to each of the four children and a 15-year royalty
on four of its patented products.
In 1970 he invested in New York's Barr Laboratories with US-based partners, became its largest shareholder and served as Barr's president.
As of 2000, he controlled about 33% of Barr Laboratories' stock. Barr won the first rights to manufacture generic versions of Eli Lilly
. Today, Barr Laboratories' is a part of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries
, the world's largest generic drug maker,
following Teva's acquisition of Barr Pharmaceuticals
In January 1972, Sherman and Ulster Limited sold Empire Laboratories to the Quebec
-based Canadian operations of publicly traded International Chemical and Nuclear (ICN) of California, for 57,000 shares (Valeant Pharmaceuticals
). In 1973, Sherman started Apotex with a few former Empire Laboratories' personnel and he incorporated it in 1974. This privately owned and Sherman-controlled company claims to be Canada's largest Canadian-owned pharmaceutical manufacturer.
Sherman also became involved in Nutraceutical manufacturing and other businesses, founding NION (National Institute of Nutrition) with Richard Kashenberg. He later sold the company to Schiff and continued on to Apotex.
By 2016, Apotex employed over 10,000 people as one of Canada's largest drug manufacturers, with over 260 products selling in over 115 countries. Revenues were about $1.5 billion annually.
Sherman married Honey Reich (1948–2017),
a fellow University of Toronto
graduate born in 1948 (sic) in Austria to Polish Holocaust survivors.
They had four children,
a son, Jonathon, and three daughters, Lauren, Alexandra and Kaelen.
Sherman, with his wife, donated a record $50 million to the United Jewish Appeal
They provided funds to build a major addition to the geriatric Baycrest
and to other Toronto-area community centres in Ontario.
The couple were also major donors to the United Way
As well, the Apotex Foundation had sent over $50 million worth of medicine to disaster zones since 2007.
Reputation and personality
Sherman had a mixed reputation, or what the National Post
called "Two Legacies".
Toronto Mayor John Tory
said "Barry and Honey were kind, good people" and Sherman was widely praised for his philanthropic giving.
Sherman was called "a deplorable human being" in reference to his business practices, by University of Ottawa
law professor Amir Attaran
who claimed that he gouged Canadians with high drug prices: "Canadians pay more for generic drugs than almost every other country. He sought to manipulate our system to enrich himself and impoverish Canadian patients who used his drugs", he said.
He accused Sherman of crossing intellectual property right ethical lines to "fight as many as 100 battles at a time in court to challenge drug patents and make way for Apotex's generic prescriptions" with little end benefit to consumers.
As told in Jeffrey Robinson's 2001 book "Prescription Games: Money, Ego and Power Inside the Pharmaceutical Industry", Sherman himself acknowledged the long-running conflict between Apotex and the major pharmaceutical companies over drug patents, saying "The branded drug companies hate us. They have private investigators on us all the time. The thought once came to my mind: why didn't they just hire someone to knock me off?"
In 2011, the Winter children (his cousins) sued Sherman alleging he never paid royalties and equity in Apotex, contending Sherman had used the proceeds from the 1972 sale of their late father's business Empire to buy Apotex in 1973.
The cousins sought a 20% interest in Apotex or damages of $1 billion. Sherman responded by withdrawing millions of dollars in financial assistance to his cousins. The cousins' contended that Sherman "had offered the financial assistance in the first place in order to make the cousins dependent on him, and to keep them from learning about their rights to the business", though this was denied by Sherman.
In September 2017, an Ontario Superior Court justice ruled against the cousins, saying the case was "wishful thinking, and beyond fanciful."
At the time of the judgement, a lawyer for the cousins said they would appeal, though no appeal occurred, and Sherman died a few months later under unknown circumstances.
At the time of his death, Sherman was under investigation because of a fundraiser he had held for Justin Trudeau
in April 2015, allegedly contrary to Canada's lobbying
Sherman filed a lawsuit in May 2016, attempting to quash the investigation. "There is basis to conclude that Mr. Sherman is in breach of ... the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct as a consequence of his involvement in the organization of a fundraising event for the (Liberal Party),
" according to Phil McIntosh, director of investigations at the Office of the Lobby Commissioner. If that had been proven, Sherman would have been banned from lobbying for five years.
A partial draft of his unpublished memoir, called Legacy of Thoughts
, was submitted as part of Sherman's motion for summary judgment
in a lawsuit brought by his orphaned cousins. He described the manuscript as his observations on philosophy, Canadian politics and the pharmaceutical industry.
Sherman did not believe in God, free will, altruism or morality.
"I find no inconsistency in holding intellectually that life has no meaning, while at the same time being highly motivated to survive and to achieve", he once said.
Barry Sherman was targeted by the Canadian wing of the Jewish Defense League
, a group on the FBI's terrorist list, and had been sued by Israel`s largest generic-drug maker, Teva
On December 15, 2017, police officers were called to Sherman's home at 50 Old Colony Road in North York
, by the couple's real estate agent,
where they discovered the bodies of Sherman and his wife hanging side by side next to their indoor pool. The deaths are being treated as "suspicious" and the Toronto Police Service Homicide Squad
has taken the lead in the investigation, because this unit is the "most experienced in dealing with sudden unexpected deaths".
Post-mortem examinations showed the cause of both deaths was "ligature neck compression",
which is ligature strangulation
caused by binding or tying.
Ligature strangulation is usually distinguished from hanging
by the strangling force being something other than the person's own body weight.
Toronto Police Service had previously told the news media that there was no indication of forced entry into the Sherman home and that their investigation does not include a search for any suspects.
Although there was no note left by the deceased,
police sources told the Toronto Star
on December 15 or 16, 2017, that they were "probing the possibility that they were a murder–suicide
In response, the couple's four children issued a statement urging the police to conduct a thorough criminal investigation and chastised the police for leaking a murder-suicide theory.
They also contacted Toronto lawyer Brian Greenspan
to retain a private investigator to look into the deaths.
He hired Tom Klett, a retired Toronto Police detective who has worked in the homicide, drug, and intelligence bureaus.
The family also hired Dr. David Chiasson, the retired chief forensic pathologist for Ontario, to conduct another autopsy.
On January 20, 2018, the Toronto Star
published an exclusive report based on anonymous sources from the family's investigation team who said that the deaths were murders: the couple was strangled by belts after their hands were tied. These investigators had not yet gained access to the Sherman home. "People providing information for this story are not identified as they were not authorized to discuss the case," according to the Star
. When contacted by a reporter, a Toronto Police spokesman reiterated the position that they were treating the deaths as "suspicious".
On January 26, Toronto Police advised the news media that their investigation concluded that the couple had been murdered in a targeted attack.
At the time, they would not discuss any possible suspects, but planned to interview everyone who had access to the home prior to the deaths via the lockbox that was previously installed by the real estate agent.
The police investigation has encountered resistance at Apotex headquarters, with a police spokesman saying "Legal complexities in some executions have been challenging given the litigious nature of Barry Sherman's businesses, in particular the search and seizure of electronics in Barry Sherman's workspace at Apotex".
The police investigation was still continuing in September 2018 when detectives obtained seven search warrants in addition to the 21 previously obtained. Detective Dennis Yim told a court that "investigators are methodically reviewing material and pursuing different investigative avenues".
In late October 2018, lawyer Brian Greenspan announced that the family had offered a $10 million reward in the couple's murder investigation for any information that leads to the arrest and prosecution of a suspect. At the same time, he complained about the police investigation, claiming that it had failed to collect important evidence.
Police Chief Mark Saunders later told the news media that a forensic pathologist has been working on the case, in addition to over 50 officers, interviewing 200 witnesses and collecting over 2,000 hours of video surveillance from neighboring homes. When asked if police would be willing to work with the independent experts to be convened by Greenspan, Saunders replied in the positive, but only if the group would be accepted in a court proceeding.
By October 2018, police had obtained 37 warrants related to the investigation.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barry_Sherman https://www.insidehook.com/daily_brief/news-opinion/the-unsolved-murder-of-billionaire-ceo-barry-sherman https://www.reddit.com/UnresolvedMysteries/comments/8rez4v/the_suspicious_deaths_of_canadian_billionaires/ https://www.reddit.com/UnresolvedMysteries/comments/b3fwsb/barry_honey_sherman_murder_update_shermans/ https://www.reddit.com/UnresolvedMysteries/comments/9rnpnc/10m_reward_offered_in_barry_and_honey_sherman/ https://www.reddit.com/UnresolvedMysteries/comments/9ha3ph/barry_and_honey_sherman_unresolved_homicide/
They Did Not Understand The Giant
submitted by MetaVulture to HFY [link] [comments]
Carrying on from [They Conspired Against The Giant
Continued at [And So The Giant Sowed His Fields
Do you want to start at the beginning? [To Awaken A Giant You Must Open Its Eyes
The thump of metal reverberated with each heavy step, tolling dread. Thud.
With hundreds of pounds of steel, iron, and lead, ever forward and ahead. Thud.
The servos screamed and the hydraulics whined in protest. Thud.
They thundered down the corridor with alerts suppressed. Thack.
Dozens of technicians checked them over, beeping, clicking, and clacking. Thump.
Monitoring of the servos, hydraulics, and the program stacking. Clank.
One by one the technicians yanked out the diagnostics cables. Clack. Hiss.
They arrived at the CDDM that would take them down to the planet’s surface. The commands were given to attempt search and rescue around an hour ago, and now here they were - the two who would fall into hell to save the life or lives of anyone trapped below. One a man who was one of the best. The other a medic. One a stone faced pillar. The other a life-giver.
The Advanced Combat Exosuit 5 was not meant for the weight they now had incorporated. The hastily welded lead plating added far more than specifications allowed. The boots were made of lead. The outer plates were lined with lead. The new inner lining was lead. The body glove was woven with lead, and a protective cotton-like microfiber to separate the flesh of the person within from that lead. The faceplate was modified with an additional shielding mesh. The eyes looked like two great black ovals on a heavily modified helmet with two O-rings instead of one.
Both of these modified ACE 5’s were rebuilt from the stockpile onboard. They looked like a gross parody covered in wires that were exposed in their expedience. The fabricators were only able to complete the two so far, and so they would go in untested on a platform that was near retirement. The 100kv fusion reactor they modified and stuffed into the back power block of the suit didn’t help matters with weight limits. They augmented with additional hydraulic lines and beefed actuators had to be fitted.
They looked nothing like the sleek black armor of the soldiers who wore them into combat. They were hastily spray painted with cautionary yellow lines, red lines for critical add-on systems, and blue lines for additional power conduit.
“Final check. Beginning final diagnostics” stated one last technician to the men in suits.
As another army of technicians did their checks, double checks, triple checks, and so forth within the CDDM, the medic looked around at the interior of the repurposed drop module. Normally meant to house fifty men for deployment, the seats had been ripped out across most of it, leaving just a dozen.
The second CDDM that would be autonomous was converted to carrying additional passengers if needed and would drop in after theirs had cleared a landing zone. More were being prepared depending on what they found. In the place of seats were bolted on fusion reactors, some ripped from fighters. Across from those with wires like a spider’s web were shielding modules they would power.
The whole rescue operation had been assembled in hastily at the command of the admiral. They were the volunteers. The angels of heavy leaded mercy. The technicians flooded out of the drop module now. The time for drop was fast approaching. A final technician entered with an autopallat. She positioned several large metal crates and bolted them down. The straps tightened themselves as she walked away. Before she left, she turned to them.
“Affirm” was a reply as she left.
The doors closed, and darkness bathed them for a minute. Then came guidance lights. The entire craft shuddered as pressure was dropped in the hangar.
A heavy thunk shook the entire CDDM.
“Prepare for departure.”
A klaxon sounded, muffled by the armor.
“Activate dispersal shielding.”
“Shielding active, re-entry plotted.”
Momentum shifted. This was it.
“You are go. Guidance online. Thrust online. Godspeed.”
At first just the pit of their stomachs felt the momentum change. Then came the rattling.
A streak of light shot through the atmosphere of the dead world. Drag chutes engaged. After reaching the designated altitude, main chutes engaged. Ten seconds from landing they were automatically cut by explosive bolts. The engines fired - slowing the module - until it thudded into the ground whipping up a whirlwind of snowy ash that occluded vision.
Then there was silence.
He pulled the lever next to him and the clamps released. His partner did the same. The internal pressure was normalized to 1.1atm, humidity was adjusted to 56%. Internal filters were turned to their maximum surface area, while other systems routed through carbon scrubbers. He turned on the audio receptors, and now heard the hums and rattles. It all became real as sound flooded in, like surfacing from the depths of water.
“Preparations complete. Clear a deployment zone.”
He clanked with every step. Each system was activated according to the hastily made checklist. Additional items were synchronized as he went, annoying him briefly. ‘Eggheads…’
Following the updated procedure he began the flipping of necessary switches.
“Clearing a landing zone!”
“Affirmative. You’ve got green!”
With a massive buzz and a shudder the view screens cleared. The force of the shield’s activation, and its intentional outward expansion from within the module cleared the debris. No more ash fell in a bubble a hundred meters around the module. It would pulse ten more times. A large vibration was felt as the other CDDM landed nearby within the bubble. It activated the same protocol and the two deflectors joined together to make a larger sphere of safety.
“Okay, it looks good. Landing zone is cleared” stated his partner at the command console.
With a hiss behind, the door was closed. He stared out for a moment in awe. Desolation absolute. One ragged breath, and he pushed the feelings down. Forward.
He peered at the border of the shield, the ground beyond pillowy and white. A pause for a moment. Then he stepped into the snow-white wasteland. Each step was thunder to the ground that had laid still. Each step crushing the remains of a dead world. The radiation alarms screeched beyond the sphere and were suppressed. He knew he did not have much time before the dosage limit would be exceeded.
Thundering boots of lead pushed him ever onward, the strain of the servos screamed with every movement. They had been warned that it would be hard to keep them cool. He had to go at a steady pace or the bearings could overheat causing failure. It didn’t help that he kept jerking to a stop. The autopallet seemed to get stuck and bogged down every five steps.
“Abandoning autopallet. Going with plan B.”
“Copy that, remember this is going to strain the suit even more. Go slow. Be careful.”
The autopallet loaded tipped the huge metal crate up and then on to his back. The bolts screwed themselves in once aligned. The suit registered the additional load with another warning. He suppressed it and initiated the override. He weighed more than a ton now - the suit was meant for half of this. It didn’t help that most deployments were on much lighter worlds, not worlds that had a near 1:1 ratio with Earth’s own gravity. ‘Slow and steady… slow and steady…’
he repeated in his mind.
Soon he had reached the collapsed in entrance. Lifting any of these would push the suit well beyond its emergency operating limits - but the limits had to be damned. He dropped the load off his back with a command, and it thudded behind him into the snowy white. This afforded him some buffer room for the legs and support. With each rock he hurled away, the system would report the stress and likelihood of damage. By now every alarm except an environmental breach had been suppressed.
“Alert! Alert! Left arm servo possible damage! Alert! Alert!”
“Alert! Alert! Rear hydraulic main line external leak detected!”
“Shit!” he shouted.
For several hours she had stared out into human space. Their ships were like knives in the void. They had so much potential as warriors. Maybe more. Maybe much more... ‘It seems they have a particular talent for building machines of war, and if my reports are right… they waged a strike that they wiped out more than just some training legion. That was a legion nearly primed…’
Shrugging, she placed down the strange device acquired from an Uakataki, called a “snow-globe”, and focused now on the present again. ‘A most litigious species as well… how many rules can one simple people have?’
Deep inside this most utilitarian of hangars in her ship shaped almost like a black egg she sat and thought for a moment. ‘I wonder, will they try to kill me on sight? Or will they listen to reason?’
The ship was covered in alloys meant to block most if not all forms of detection. ‘And yet these humans had detected me!’
she stared at the screen and accepted even more protocols that these humans had.
While the ship was coming to its final destination inside the hangar, she continued to practice the sounds these creatures made. Her ability to mimic was something she took pride in. Yet another list of protocols came in. They were far stricter than she expected. “They’re much more… advanced… than anticipated, hmm.” She muttered to no one. The ship now sat still. She stepped down from the pilot’s seat and looked at herself in the mirror. Pulling the bare skin on her elongated vulturesque face where it wrinkled she frowned.
She was growing old.
Oh how she wished she could be as she was even a half century of human-time ago, her eyes were now sunken into her hooded and long face. The plumage that covered her scales was fading, oh what a slick and solid black it once was…
Now the bare skin and black scales on her face wrinkled even more than the last time she’d looked. She began making faces in the mirror to try to express as the humans did, having studied what human media they could gather. She attempted a smile, then a frown. She wriggled the ridges above her sunken eyes like the brows she had seen. Then she shrugged, another human expression. She enjoyed that one.
Soap operas, science fiction shows, all manner of media, in so many different languages too! It had been difficult to determine the right language at first - but within hours they’d had it down to English. ‘I am not sure how they even coordinate if they cannot all speak the same… it is such… such a mess! No wonder they have all these rules. Pah!’
It had taken her nearly two days to learn the language, far longer than most languages she’d learned.
Technically this was why she was chosen. Others in the diplomatic corps struggled for far too long to grasp the grammar.
“Well, at least I’m not hunched and teetering on the edge with every step like the elders” she huffed while assembling her kit. She snapped her beak-like mouth end and creating a loud cracking sound. “And I am still sharp too!” The humans were outside waiting on her, and she dare not disappoint a new adoring audience. In the kit she included several datasticks that contained their language, and the proper languages of all Hegemony species.
If she succeeded, perhaps she could spare these humans the worst fate - being ruined like the others the Goap-Qer had conquered. In one other encrypted stick she also had some “other” information. Ostensibly she was here to represent the Hegemony and give them one final chance of total surrender.
However, that wasn’t… exactly true now was it?
No, there was another reason she was here.
Her people writhed and wriggled under the rule of some other power, they had been free and independent long ago.
The first garment helped to keep the fur-like feathers in place and slimmed down. Their species never evolved flight, but it had something akin to the small feathers of birds for insulation. The next was the traditional robe of leadership, something that would be hidden by many more. By the time she was done, she did not look like the thin creature with the bent neck she started as, but rather a vulturesque overlord beladen with jewels and signets to represent wealth and power.
She didn’t agree with the other view that shiny objects would impress them, but they forced her hands. She’d rather have come out in just the simple attire, to show off her lithe figure and her flexibility. To show them that she was strong, and capable. Instead she now looked like an elder. Plus this damn thing was hot and itchy.
Nearly ready to face the humans, she stared once more into the mirror. Both of her hands were pressed at the sides while leaning in to look closely at herself. She blinked and took a deep breath, then exhaled with a hum. Supposedly they breathed oxygen - much like her - but who knows what kind of other things could be in the air. Readings were normal. For now. But this was it, and it was her duty.
Finally, she applied the white paste around her eyes to give them the traditional circles of peace. Her red eyes stared back at her. It was time.
There was a hiss and she stood on a small platform that lowered. The egg split into two, and hydraulics gently placed the platform on the surface. She had no Threlk here to serve her, no other servants at all really. She’d come alone, and without any real communication gear. She breathed in the purified air and smelled a hint of ozone, likely caused by filtration through an electric system.
She also smelled the humans. The gravity of the situation was heavy - but she felt the effect of low gravity here. She could jump to the ceiling if she so wished! It would be in poor taste… and well, they might startle easily. The lights were almost blinding in their brilliance… it was as if she was on stage again. Oh how she’d love to perform again…
There she stood, a snow-globe in one gloved hand held close to her, like a crystal ball in which to see the future as it swirled. Her right hand she outstretched with a symbol of peace based on the human iconography with two outstretched fingers and the rest curled. Her many robed flowed from that arm and wafted in the slight breeze generated by air scrubbers.
The humans were such strange looking and smelling things. Not wholly unpleasant… but so unfamiliar. They had mops of fur on their heads, well, some of them anyways. They seemed to come in many shades and colors of browns, blacks, and reddish pinks, along with pale tans and sickly whites… ghastly. She reminded herself though, that the bias was just that and nothing more. To them they looked normal, and she was the “other” here.
If the Shambling got a hold of them, they’d be turned into such misbegotten things - a frightful thought. And look at the teeth! The ones who smiled, they were so bright! So… threatening.... ‘Keep it together…’
Her jewelry clinked and clanked about as she stepped with specialized leather footwear for her raptoresque feet that squinched and creaked with every move. She maintained the pose for a few more moments for dramatic effect. She let her right arm drop to her side, while still holding the snowglobe against her in the left.
She manipulated the muscles in her long neck, and began to speak “You are certainly not as tall as I expected you all to be. I am not sure why you’re all pointing those… ghastly weapons at me, but I assure you… I mean no harm?” She stared out at them. They were quite short. She was 2.1 meters tall (~6.8 freedom units) after all.
They looked around, and one of them with different marks on such drab clothing gave a hand signal ‘Was I misled? Do they speak in body language only? I learned this whole language just for them not-’
“Why have you come here?” asked the drab one who spoke with hands. ‘Well, okay then, they must use both! Exciting… I will need to write that down...’
her brain filed away the information and she manipulated her throat again to speak to the humans in their English tongue. “My name is… in your language I believe… Daughter of The Knife, She Who Dances With Swords and Speaks With Comfort… but you can call me something much simpler? Maude perhaps?” She’d seen the series and quite liked the character named Maude - it was even the voice she chose to mimic.
“Yes, okay, thank you for that information, but again… why did you come here?” the drab one repeated. ‘They like direct answers it seems. Noted. They also employ direct interrogation technique even though they know I cannot answer. Smart to assume they could try. They know the weak races well then…’
“I am on a diplomatic endeavor. I am not authorized to speak to anyone except for your leader. I apologize. This was stipulated in the agreement after contact” That should do it. The lights were still pointed at her but had begun to dim. Now she could see them in greater detail, and that is when she realized they were without scales! Oh such drab clothing too, all of it the same. In fact, this whole hangar was drab and metal and mostly grey.
They must not show much artistic talent when it comes to utilitarian designs… so much function over form. Bah. Then again, it could be why they succeeded so well…
The man appeared to accept this, and so she relaxed and stared at the humans while rocking back and forth slowly. Some of the humans she saw were nearly as tall as she was, they had great variability. Observation was one of her goals, and so far much information had been gleaned… and yet… these people were mysterious!
Their media showed quite a bit, but how much of it was true? Surely the entire species was not as crazy as many of the shows they produced portrayed. It took the Ysaris long enough to even de-scramble most of it. In the end they had to trade discreetly with the Uakataki a few dozen cycles ago to even have the technology to observe the humans. Still, the media they had was limited, mostly soap operas and ancient shows from hundreds of years past.
All of the older media was apparently no longer under the copyrights - a strange and novel concept - and could be broadcast without any digital rights management control. The old technology they had seen in the shows? Almost none of it was here except the weapons. The weapons looked most intimidating. They must have improved them tenfold since the shows about their ancient wars. Their Rambo was a most intimidating figure of lore.
She wondered at what their fur must feel like on their heads.
Now she wanted to touch one, and feel it for herself. It was most certainly not feathered, but it looked soft. Some had very little, others had longer hair! Does that mean something to them? Oh, to hell with the protocol, none of this was being recorded! “I am curious, Matthew - if I read and said that right…” she stared at him with her red eyes now zeroed in on his brown eyes “...what is the purpose of the… fur? On top of your heads? You also have them above your eyes. I find it curious.”
All around her the faces began to bare teeth. Uncomfortable smiles. ‘They are just… smiles, they are not threats, this is not how humans usually threaten each other… I think?’
“It is called hair. Hair is around our eyes to protect from dust, or something. All of us are born with hair on our heads too. Some lose their hair when they get old, like Corporal Thomas over there.” She observed the smile leave the Corporal’s face and could tell he was thinking something less than nice. “Some like their hair long. Some like it short. Some color it. Some males have hair on their faces, but we are not allowed to.” Sgt. Matthew Gonzales answered. So that was it. It had little meaning, or a lot of meaning, depending on the individual.’
She wanted to ask it what the hair felt like… but decided that could be a negative interaction. Just like asking what their skin felt like. Most of the ones who were bulkier were taller, while the slender ones were shorter - but with so much variance it was impossible to figure out anything important about it yet.
Perhaps like hair, they just were, and that is part of who they are? ‘Oh, an alarm just sounded!’
She stared at the flashing lights, and then saw men in black suits emerge from a large door. ‘This must be the human delegation, I had asked them to take me to their leader. Instead he is coming to me. So strange…’
He stared down at his right leg oozing red and pooling at his foot. There were two additional hydraulic lines, but they shared the fluid. The auto cutoff valve did its work, but left the hydraulics compromised. They had no room for the larger reserve tanks… Now he could feel the strain, now he could feel the weight of every rock and boulder. How much more would there be? But he also had a new sensation.
Adrenaline kicked in, mother nature’s gift to mankind.
With fear he no longer felt the pain.
With anger he no longer felt the strain.
Urgency was now overtaking him as another warning shot off about yet another servo. He could just see inside now - he only had to move a few more chunks of concrete. As the last one shifted, he was able to see inside! A sudden jerk stunned him as his suit lost power. He felt sick as the momentum shifted and he was horizontal. The lights went out. The air stopped blowing. The visor cracked. He was now prone and helpless.
“What the f-”
An alarm drowned him out. Emergency systems came online after a few moments. Now on battery power, his mission was done. The fusion reactor shutdown warning was blaring. The large chunk of concrete that fell from above slid off as he stood up. Before he turned to leave he hurled the metal case inside the broken entrance to the bunker, and it landed just a few feet from the blast doors. This broke one of the arm servos doing, but it didn’t matter now. He was out of time.
Turning, he plodded back to the safety of the shielded bubble.
The fusion alarm had become much more urgent. He authorized the ejection of the fusion generator, and the large backpack on the suit fell to the ground behind him. A weight was lifted from his shoulders now. He still had the batteries that would last a few minutes.
Then came the sound of liquid splattering.
His left leg suddenly became heavy, and when he looked down he could see more red fluid spraying out before the autovalve on that line shut it down. Normally he could just eject from the suit - but not here. The weight became immense. He felt as if his back would give out. The weight was back on his shoulders, and then some.
Each step seemed to take more and more effort. Adrenalin helped to keep him going with the immense weight, but it seemed like more was leaking from somewhere else. He had to move quickly before the battery died. He could feel sweat drenching the body glove. He could feel the squish of every step now. Cooling systems shut off to save battery power. Finally, he reached the bubble, and forced himself up the steps.
Inside the airlock the decontamination began. He sat on the bench as he was blasted by wave after wave of decontamination routines. Radiological and biological threats were purged from the suit's exterior. He watched the red continue to leak. For a moment he felt as if he was bleeding to death. The suit had been pierced by rebar somewhere, and a puncture had allowed most of the reserve to flood out.
Once the decontamination protocol finished, he stood shakily in the suit under his own power. Hundreds of pounds pressed down on him now. With a few confirmation screens the armor began an emergency disassembly. Autobolts unscrewed themselves and thudded onto the floor. He felt the weight of this world lifted off his shoulders as it all fell off now. He was left in the ridiculously skin-tight body glove still drenched in sweat. The doors opened to inside the module and slammed shut behind him - his radiation dose had been 393 mSv estimated.
Peeling off the disposable body glove he went into the locker and grabbed his flight suit.
“Mission status: Failure to complete. The payload is inside the entrance. Entrance is cleared. ACE 5 suit is damaged beyond recovery.”
“Alright then Ben, take it easy and take my spot there. You did good work, so don’t beat yourself up.”
“Alright, well, wish me luck then.”
“Good luck sir.”
After a careful march in snowy fallout Arjun made it to the same place Ben had been. It looked like a murder scene. Hydraulic fluid was splattered against the sides, over the rocks, and some splatter was even inside the room. Each thundering step closer brought into view the chaos that had ensued earlier. Just as before, radiation alarms suppressed, servo warnings quashed, and the annoying system alerts were silenced. ‘At least he cleared most of it before his suit took a shit.’
Arjun thought to himself.
Kicking aside a few of the rocks, and pushing some others careful not to over-strain, he squeezed inside the partially cleared entrance to the bunker. He tossed down his own metal box before proceeding further. In front of the blast doors the large metal case left earlier was still intact. He knew that this was the outer entrance. He did not know how many survivors there may be.
Opening the blast doors would be a challenge. Kneeling down next to his box he activated the panel on the side. Instantly a loud electronic hum pierced the silence. Much of the fallout was pushed outward along with dust and debris. The shielding would lesson contamination. All green lights on the reactor meant it remained undamaged. Pressing a few more buttons, the doors on the sides popped open revealing a myriad of tools.
The other larger box that Ben had brought earlier, he pressed down on the activation, and it began its internal preparations. It had taken all the rest of the fabricators to get it down right, and even then they weren’t sure if this was going to be a perfect fit - but it would do the job. Looking back at his tools, he began scanning the door for the locking mechanism. This was going to take a bit of time.
Sara jerked awake, having just relived the nightmare. Her jaw ached. Her arm shot needles. Her back was on fire again. Exhaustion had only given her a short sleep. She was dying. There was no way she could survive much longer... She sat for a few quiet moments and wept. After this, she drank more water. It relieved the parched feeling within her mandibles. The depression she felt hurt almost as much as her body.
To distract from this she hobbled to the barracks and began searching for anything useful - a few old manuals on how to exercise written for a species with four legs, their predecessors, some clothes that did not fit, and some boots that did. Happy to have something for her feet, she put the ancient boots on.
She used a sewing kit in one of the many standardized lockers and modified one of the jackets into a new blouse, and then another to fit around her without touching her back like a toga. She huddled by the console for a few more hours with a hydration vessel and some of the bland crackers waiting for any kind of sound.
“I won’t die of hunger or thirst. Infection maybe. Loneliness maybe. Maybe this was what I deserved for staying behind…” THUMP!
She jumped out of her chair and sent it clattering to the floor. The thudding at the door. Grinding. Thudding. She felt a thousand feelings as her mind flooded. For a brief moment the pain was gone, the thoughts scrambled. Her mind was alight with hope. She ran up the stairs to the upper command area that oversaw the terminals below. “Maybe I will die from madness…?” she said aloud. There was silence. Was she hallucinating?
There it was again! A heavy klank! A loud thud! Someone had found her! Her excitement gave way to dread. ‘Someone. Has found me…’
This time the silence remained. Then came the sound of hope. Knocking. A rapid tap-tap-tap echoed in the emptiness. A muffled sound from outside as well. She looked over to the terminals and took a few steps towards them.
A very muffled “Hello?” in human tongue is what it sounded like. Her heart thudded now with thunder of hope. ‘Humans!? They found me!?’
She unlocked the door from the console, and stood at the end of the hall near the first chair she found, staring up the steps. Then came the sound of the locks disengaging. Then silence. The door swung open slowly. Flood-lamps shone brightly through the portal to what must be salvation! It continued to open revealing the one who knocked. ‘My god, it fills the whole doorway!’
She stared up at the silhouette with her mouthparts agape. It was bipedal. It was covered in wires, black with stripes of many other colors. It looked as if a junkyard had built it. It stepped forward as the lights behind it dimmed. It boomed out in a mechanical voice boosted loudly “Greetings. I am Arjun. I have come to…” he trailed off. She was staring wide-eyed at him. Instead of a massive group of survivors there was only her.
A much quieter “Oh…” echoed. He looked at something on his arm.
He clicked off his broadcast and relayed the information immediately. He relayed that there was just one injured survivor, and he would begin evaluation. Further scans showed no other signs of life. She was still in shock as he stood there. “Are you alone here?”
He stared at her for a moment, and realized her arm was in a self-fashioned sling. She was pale, and appeared to have been severely injured. The normal deep green was a faded grayish, a sign of infection for the Uakataki; which could mean one of two possibilities. Either she was infected with the biological weapon, or she was sick from her wounds. The second would mean her system was so shocked that none of the implants they usually had were intact.
This was not good.
The first condition would be fatal. The second would be likely fatal. He measured the contamination of the room, and it was clean. Hardly any radiation beyond the background produced by the planet. In fact, he was the most radioactive thing here, but the scrubbers had removed the worst of it.
“May I evaluate your medical condition?” he said to her softly.
She nodded again. Her eyes were still wide with shock as this massive machine stomped toward her. He evaluated her vitals, her charred arm missing its hand, and her burned back. The mobile kit he had included a test for the biological weapons dropped, and after a saliva sample it came up clean. ‘So it is option B then. The radiation sickness combined with the shock of limb loss. This is bad. This is really bad. Not the worst it could have been. But pretty bad.’
“Alright, you look like you’ll be okay. What is your name?” he asked her.
She instinctively tried to speak, but what came out was not recognizable. Of course, the implant was dead. She instead spoke in the proper Uakataki and his translator made out the name Sara. He nodded and replied.
“Well, it is nice to meet you Sara. It looks like you’ve had it pretty rough. Would you hold out your arm for me?” She complied and he squirted some gel onto it. The pain numbed away. She then pointed to her back, after removing the makeshift toga she had on. He applied the numbing gel to the charred remains of the joints that once held her wings. The numbness was a relief.
“Okay, so now I am going to apply this membrane. It may sting a little bit, but we’ve numbed most of it. You will need it so that you can safely wear the suit.” He watched as her expression changed to wide-eyed.
She made rapid-fire noises at him.
“Yes, you will be wearing a specialized radiation shielded suit. In order to get you out of here we’ve had to… improvise…” he was cut off.
The chattering sounds were faster now. He waited for the translator to do its work.
“Well, I am glad you are excited to get out of here, we are excited to get you out of here.” He smiled to himself. A patient with hope was worth more than gold in a situation like this. He applied the spray to her back as she winced, and then to her arm. Clamoring back up the steps he then drug the large crate into the room. It opened up and a modified body glove was on top in a smaller compartment. He unzipped it and held it open.
“Okay, I need you to remove the rest of your clothes, and step into this.” He held it at just the right height “Arms first, then just, sort of step into it.”
She hesitated, before doing so. Once she was in the body glove he moved around the back and initiated the auto-sizer. This would feed biometrics, and would also allow him to apply the rest. Hydraulic arms within the massive crate pushed out each component. He laid the inner torso out and placed it down on the ground. Normally a proper stand would allow it to be put together standing upright - but this was not normal.
“Okay, I need you to lay down into this. It is going to be very heavy until it is done. I need to assemble it around you because we have never made one to fit your species before. Please let me know if anything hurts, or doesn’t feel right.” He waited for her reply and then continued.
She laid her back into the open torso. He snapped it down and closed it. He then fitted each leg onto the torso, snapping them down and together against the joints. The autobolts tightened and the body glove she wore communicated precise sizings to the armor. After the legs were done and locked, he lifted her up and flipped on the auto-balance. She could feel the pressures fluctuating within the armor, sizing itself to keep her snug.
The right arm went on without an issue. The left arm required an override since she did not have a hand. He selected the variable for limb loss, and it gently applied pressure to her forearm. Finally the helmet was bolted on, and oxygen began to flow into the suit at higher than average saturation. Next he began to apply the armored plates.
The process had gone on now for 15 minutes. The order for more suits was cancelled with his report. They were gearing up hundreds to be modified, but now they only needed the one. With the suit assembled, he pushed in the fusion reactor module on the back. Kicking to life she gasped as a massive readout in the hud flickered on. Then she looked down at her left hand.
She could feel it again.
She moved her fingers and could feel! The suit must use some kind of special input! But how! Then it struck her. She was being rescued by humans. Of course! She remembered reading about how their suits could become an extension of them! She never really understood it until now. Normally they would regrow a lost limb and reattach it later - never once had she seen something or felt something like this.
Almost done Sara. Are you doing ok?” he asked with his head cocked sideways.
She nodded at him. She was doing better than ok. She felt amazing. She felt happy.
“Okay, the shield generator is on and working now.” She realized that her suit was now covered in wires just like his. “I am tied to your suit, do not worry about any alarms ok? The suit was not designed for the weight it is under, but it was engineered to go beyond specifications in an emergency… so just let me worry about the alarms. Okay, here we go.”
He guided her up the stairs, and into the room she’d spent her first hours. Her vision was enhanced with the HUD, and as it interfaced, she felt like she could see without her eyes. The optical inputs had slowly adapted and now she really could see what the suit saw. Some of the colors didn’t make sense, but she remembered that humans also saw in a slightly different range of light than they did.
As they exited the bunker’s blast doors she looked at the snow. She quickly realized it was not snow. It was magnificent and terrible. Her people. Her planet. Her life. It was all reduced to ash. Here she was, the last of her people from the planet… and it hit her.
How many other survivors were there?
The information from the pact on them had been to take caution around them, never make a deal with them, and never trust them. Even the Uakataki had been very blunt about this race. The words the delegate Raymond had used were “Arrogant assholes”
and then added “Don’t trust them as far as you can throw them.”
After they landed he was lead by Dobbs to the hangar.
The door hissed open as his two security personnel took point in front of him, while Defense Secretary Keeler was behind him. It spoke first. “Greetings! Salutations! I think these are the words, yes? How wonderful to meet you… leader of the humans? They call me Maude!” It seemed to try to imitate a wave. Maybe it was some alien greeting? Whatever it was, it seemed more like a wave from royalty than a true wave.
Kennedy waited to get close enough to speak without strain, but maintained a good distance amongst the soldiers. “Well, yes and no. We’re waiting on one other delegation.” ‘Why is it holding a snow-globe? Is that Santa Clause? That is Santa Clause! What in the ever loving fu-’
“Ah, so you have a co-ruler! Interesting. Does this mean you share power equally?” its head was already cocked sideways. Perhaps this complexity was part of their system. ‘Why yes, if one ruler were to die, then they wouldn’t lose command and control. No wonder it came to see me in person!’
“No.” came a smug voice from behind Kennedy. “You’re only speaking to the President of the Provisional United Congress of Earth.” ‘Only? The hell is that supposed to mean?’
Kennedy shot daggers back at the man as he entered with four guards, then turned to face the emissary again. “I am the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Planets, Ian Burton, and I have been authorized to speak on behalf of her majesty Queen Victoria the Third. I represent the other government of humans.” He stood at attention and stared into the eyes of the Ysaris with cold dispassion. ‘Bloody big bird that is…’
It sat in silence. ‘Two governments? But how? Why? How would that even work?’
her head twisted as she thought about it more and more. How does that even happen? Two governments?
“Yes, and the third delegation is to be arriving soon. Can’t forget about the Swiss.” stated Burton.
“Right. The Swiss.” replied Kennedy "They do have two colonies after all."
“What!?” Squawked the Ysaris as it visibly panicked.
I hope you enjoyed the fifth installment!
Feel free to leave a comment (I like comments). If you find any silly mistakes, I will fix them in the morrow. There will be more. For a full list visit my Wikipage
Better Know a State: Illinois – Part 2
submitted by Scientist34again to WayOfTheBern [link] [comments]
Welcome to our 31st Better Know a State (BKAS)
, which will again focus on ILLINOIS
. In our first post on Illinois (link below at the bottom), we discussed the first 12 Congressional districts. In this post, we will discuss the remaining six Congressional districts and the Governor’s race. As I indicated before, the plan is to do these state-by-state, highlighting upcoming elections, progressive candidates in those states and major issues being fought (with an emphasis on Democratic, Independent and third party candidates). State residents can let me know if I’ve missed anything important or mistakenly described some of these issues. REMINDER: Illinois has the earliest deadline to file as a candidate in next November’s election. The deadline is on December 4, 2017 (~11 months prior to the election). Therefore, if you find that there is no good candidate running in your district, you have only a short time to find someone who is better and get them on the ballot. Here is information on how to file as a candidate. Note that the signature requirements to run as a Democrat or Republican are much less onerous than to run as an Independent (see page 63 of the linked PDF above).
IL-13: Rodney Davis is a fairly conservative Republican, who voted to repeal and replace Obamacare. He is in favor of legalizing medical marijuana and approved of opening relations with Cuba. He represents a district considered potentially competitive for Democrats and there are five Dems competing in primary to challenge Davis - Jonathan Ebel, David Gill, Erik Jones, Betsy Londrigan and Mark Wicklund. Jonathan Ebel is a university professor of religion at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagne and a former Navy intelligence officer. His website mostly talks of how he would oppose Trump’s policies, but doesn’t give details on what he supports. David Gill is an emergency room physician, who says on his website that he is running as an independent, but he is a Justice Democrat candidate and supports the Justice Democrat platform including Medicare-for-All, raising the minimum wage, greeting dark money out of politics, free college tuition, etc. He has run for Congress five times in the past trying to change things, but didn't get elected before. He states “I have long criticized both major parties for their financing by Wall Street interests, large corporations, and the ultra-wealthy”. Erik Jones is an attorney, who previously worked as a legal counsel for both US House and Senate committees and as an Illinois Assistant Attorney General. He currently has a private legal practice. His website also has little detail on the policies he supports. Betsy Londrigan formerly worked for Senator Dick Durbin and, during the last 7 years, has worked at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation. Here is her website, but it also has very little information on policies she supports. However, on healthcare, she does state that “she will fight to keep the protections we have in place and firmly believes that no family should be put in danger of bankruptcy because of an unexpected medical emergency and that people with pre-existing conditions need confidence they will be able to afford their care.” Mark Wicklund is not a serious candidate. It seems to me that David Gill is the strongest candidate in this race.
IL-14: Randy Hultgren is a very conservative Tea Party Republican, who is a vocal opponent of financial regulations, such as the Dodd-Frank law and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He voted to repeal and replace Obamacare. His district is also considered potentially competitive for Democrats and there are five Dems competing in primary to challenge Hultgren - Matt Brolley, Victor Swanson, Lauren Underwood, Jim Walz and George Weber. Matt Brolley is a civil engineer and the mayor of Montgomery, IL. He wants to protect the ACA and allow people age 55 and above to buy into Medicare. He also supports cutting taxes on the middle class, protecting Social Security, promoting alternative energy strategies, raising the minimum wage (but didn’t say to how much), spending on infrastructure and getting big money out of politics. He has pledged to not take any corporate PAC money during his campaign. Here is his webpage. He seems a pretty good candidate, but I’d like him to support Medicare-for-All and other progressive policies. Victor Swanson is a high school social studies teacher. He supports protecting and improving public schools, lowering the cost of college (but didn’t say how he would achieve that), protecting Social Security and Medicare, promoting LGBT and women’s rights, funding scientific research, reforming the tax code to eliminate advantages to billionaires, etc. He wants to protect the ACA and states that “The next logical step is to provide every person in the United States with high quality health care through a single payer system.” Here is his webpage. Lauren Underwood is a nurse and served in the Obama administration as a Senior Advisor at the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Her website is a little vague on her policy positions, but she supports the ACA and wants to reduce the price of prescription drugs (but no mention of Medicare-for-All); she also supports public school education and promoting job creation. Here is her website. Jim Walz is a sales representative and school board member. His website is very detailed in his policy proposals. Here is a flavor of it, but you can visit the page yourself for more details. He supports a constitutional amendment to overturn the disastrous “Citizens United” decision. He also supports raising the cap on Social Security contributions for high income earners, spending on green energy to combat climate change, allowing people with student loan debts to refinance at a lower interest rate (but no mention of free college tuition), implementing Medicare-for-All, allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, raising income taxes on people with taxable incomes in excess of $441,000/year (and decreasing them on everyone making less than that), raising capital gains taxes, taxing Wall Street speculation, banning tax inversions, raising the minimum wage, prosecuting financial fraud, legalizing marijuana, etc. He is a very strong candidate. George Weber is a retired chemical engineer. His website does not have a lot of detail, but he seems to support universal healthcare, paying off the national debt, fighting climate change and providing jobs (but no details on how he would do that). In my mind, Jim Walz is the best candidate in this race.
IL-15: John Shimkus is another very conservative Republican, who voted to repeal and replace Obamacare. There are 3 Democrats competing to challenge him - Kevin Gaither, Anthony March and Carl Spoerer. It’s not clear from his website what job position Kevin Gaither currently holds, but it does say that he sat on federally mandated advisory boards that advised state boards of health on how to manage healthcare funds and served as Vice Chair of a services and planning council. He supports fixing the ACA (and states he can’t support Medicare-for-All in its current form because of some questions about how it will be funded), reimportation of drugs to lower costs, providing a public option for the ACA (but only in areas where there are zero to one providers available on the exchange), allowing health insurance companies to sell policies across state lines, etc. He talks about reducing student loan debt, but gives no details on how to accomplish that. To me, his plans come across as those of a moderate Republican. Anthony March is a teacher, who is currently pursuing Master’s degree in Engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He supports raising taxes on the rich, universal background checks for gun purchases, a living wage (but he didn’t define how much), helping students afford college or vocational education (but he didn’t provide details on how to do that), fighting climate change, paid family leave, etc. On healthcare, he wants to stabilize the ACA, while working towards a public option or Medicare-for-All. Here is his website. Carl Spoerer is the owner of a company Rural Country Marketing that provides consulting services. He supports a living wage ($15/hr minimum wage), strengthening unions, Medicare-for-All, negotiating drug prices, protecting Social Security, investing in green energy, making colleges, trade schools and vocational schools free, reducing student loan debt on those who’ve already graduated, etc. He opposes right-to-work laws. He is a strong candidate as well. Here is his website. To me, Carl Spoerer seems the strongest candidate in this race.
IL-16: Adam Kinzinger is a very conservative Republican, who voted to repeal and replace Obamacare. There are five Dems competing to challenge him - Nathan Arroyave, Amy Murri Briel, Sara Dady, Christopher Minelli and Neill Mohammad. He is also facing a primary challenge by three Republicans - Jason Haskell, Zane Marshall and Jim Marter. Nathan Arroyave is a jewelry salesman and art dealer. He supports Medicare-for-All, fighting climate change, raising the minimum wage to $15/hr, supporting unions, closing tax loopholes, making college education tuition-free and reducing interest on existing student loans. He seems a very good candidate. Here is his website. Amy Murri Briel is currently a homemaker raising her kids and formerly worked as a case manager at Southwest Women Working Together (an organization helping women who were victims of domestic violence and sexual assault). She supports strengthening the ACA, fighting climate change, promoting human rights and fighting the opioid crisis. Here is her website. Sara Dady is an immigration lawyer, who supports allowing students to refinance student loans (but does not mention free college tuition), strengthening the ACA as well as Medicare and Medicaid and unions. AxisWeSt points out below in the comments that she also supports Medicare-for-All. Here is her website. Christopher Minelli is a lawyer, who supports campaign finance reform, NAFTA and free trade as long as there is retraining of American workers, strengthening Obamacare, raising the minimum wage (but only by incentivizing states to do so and letting the states decide what the minimum wage should be), simplifying the tax code, etc. He opposes right-to-work laws and privatizing Social Security. He does not support a federally-funded free college tuition program, but would cap student loan interest rates at 0.25-0.5%. He seems quite conservative in his stances. Here is his website. Neill Mohammad works for Huron Consulting Group as a consultant for healthcare and he states on his website “I’ve helped lead clients through the kinds of difficult, transformational change that will be necessary to cope with price-gouging by pharmaceutical manufacturers and insurance middle-men”. He supports Medicare-for-All, LGBT rights, reinstating the division between commercial and retail banking (i.e., reinstating Glass-Steagall), enforcing anti-trust laws, fighting climate change, expansions of Pell grants and subsidized student loans (but no mention of free college tuition), etc. He seems like a strong candidate. Here is his website.
IL-17: Cheri Bustos is a quite conservative Democrat (Progressive Punch Crucial Lifetime Progressive Score = 50%). She is a member of the New Democrat Coalition (neoliberal Democrats). She has four Republican challengers - Craig Cameron, Bill Fawell, Mark Kleine and Jon Schuh. Cameron and Fawell are pretty conservative (Mark Kleine has very little information about his policies on his website and Jon Schuh lacks a campaign website). It would be good if we can find a progressive challenger for her. Note though that the deadline to file in Illinois is December 4th, so it will need to be done ASAP.
IL-18: Darin LaHood is an extremely conservative Republican, who voted to repeal and replace Obamacare. He has been criticized for failing to hold town halls. There is one Democrat, Junius Rodriguez, who is challenging him. Junius Rodriguez also challenged LaHood in 2016, but lost. Rodriguez is a history professor at Eureka College and he defines himself as a centrist. He wants to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2019 ($5.05 for tipped wages) and suports 2 years free community college, reducing corporate taxes (but close loopholes), term limits on Congress, eliminating gerrymandering, infrastructure spending, raising the retirement age for Social Security to 70, raising the cap on Social Security payroll taxes to $200,000, means-testing Social Security, reducing incarceration for non-violent crimes, etc. His positions sound like those of a moderate Republican. Here is his website. It would be good if we could find a more progressive Democrat to run in IL-18.
Governor: The governor of Illinois is Bruce Rauner (R), who was a venture capitalist prior to being elected (his net worth is estimated at about 1 billion). He’s running for re-election and there are a lot of candidates who are running against him, including seven Dems (Daniel Biss, Bob Daiber, Chris Kennedy, J.B. Pritzker, Tio Hardiman, Robert Marshall and Alex Paterakis), one Republican (William Kelly), three Libertarians (Grayson "Kash" Jackson, Matthew Scaro and Jon Stewart) and one Constitution Party candidate (Randy Stufflebeam). I’ll discuss the Dems and third party candidates here (Kelly (the Repub) doesn’t have any information on his positions on his website anyway).
Rauner has cut the budget in Illinois, including those to budget cuts affecting higher education, Medicaid, state employee pensions, public transit, and local governments.
Daniel Biss is a Democratic State Senator and a mathematician. Biss picked Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (a Chicago alderman and Democratic Socialists of America member) as his running mate. However, Biss dropped Ramirez-Rosa from the ticket after just six days, because he voiced support for the BDS movement to pressure Israel into withdrawing from occupied lands. This struck a sour note for many progressives, but as you’ll see below, Biss is one of the most progressive candidates in this race. Biss supports a graduated income tax rate in Illinois (so the rich pay more), paid family leave, $15/hr minimum wage, free college tuition, supporting public schools and improving their financing, Medicare-for-All, fighting climate change, legalizing marijuana, criminal justice reform, expanding access to SNAP (food stamp) benefits and campaign finance reform. Here is Biss’ website. Bob Daiber is the Madison County Schools Superintendent. He supports a graduated income tax in Illinois, fully funding public education in all school districts, establishing and extending community healthcare centers, enacting term limits, supporting small business and stabilizing state pension funds. He opposes right-to-work laws and supports unions. Here is his website. Chris Kennedy is the son of late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy. He also chairs the family financial investment firm (though you wouldn’t know that from his website, which focuses on his other activities and board memberships). He is worth ~100 million (much less than the two billionaires in this race, but still very rich). He supports university technology transfer, spending on infrastructure, more equitable public school funding, a minimum of two-years of free college tuition and fees for low- to middle-income students, paid family leave, $15/hr minimum wage by 2022, term limits, automatic voter registration, decriminalizing marijuana, etc. On healthcare, he says “Chris will seek a federal waiver that allows uninsured residents the ability to buy into our Medicaid program while also working to create a true state-level public option that can help drive down costs in our health care marketplace.” But he did tweet that he supports Bernie’s Medicare-for-All bill. J.B. Pritzker is also a venture capitalist and an heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune (his net worth is even more than Rauner’s, since he’s worth about 3.5 billion). He opposes state legislation to close the carried-interest loophole for hedge-fund investors. He was caught on tape asking Rod Blagoyevich to appoint him to a political position. He was a former chair of the Hillary Clinton campaign and his sister (Penny Pritzker) served as President Barack Obama's Commerce Secretary. Now despite all this, he has the support of the Democratic establishment in Illinois. He supports a public option for the ACA, early childhood education, more money for state colleges and universities, legalizing marijuana, reforming the justice system, etc. Here is his website. Tio Hardiman is the Executive Director for Violence Interrupters, an organization that seeks to reduce gang violence. He formerly ran for governor of Illinois, but lost. His website doesn’t have a lot of detail on his positions, but this article indicates that he supports reducing the number of killings in Chicago by 50 percent, reducing the African-American unemployment statewide, balancing the state budget, raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, ensuring equal pay for women, a financial transaction tax, graduated income taxes in Illinois, reducing the number of prisoners statewide and helping those out of prison find jobs. He seems a decent candidate as well. Robert Marshall seems to be a doctor, but he does not have a campaign website. Alex Paterakis is a civil engineer and small business owner. He wants to support a pro-business manufacturing environment to encourage moving factories back to Illinois. He would do this by instituting spending reforms (didn’t say what those would be) to control tax burdens on manufacturers, freezing property tax for manufacturers and removing sales taxes on manufacturers. He also wants to balance the state budget and prevent any further income tax increases on individuals (I guess including rich people). He would allow the refinancing of student loans at lower interest rates and reduce the cost of college (though he didn’t say how). He also supports Medicare-for-All and raising the minimum wage to $12/hr, campaign finance reform, legalizing marijuana, reducing incarceration, etc. He opposes school vouchers, private prisons and capital punishment. I’m not sure how he’s planning to balance the budget if he wants to institute his policies and cut taxes at the same time. Here is his campaign website. Biss, Hardiman and Paterakis seem the best choices for this race, but voters will have to decide on the pluses and minuses of each candidate.
Grayson "Kash" Jackson is a Navy veteran currently pursuing a college degree in criminal justice. His website doesn’t have much information on his policies and just says he is a leading advocate for reform of family law and Constitutional protections. Issues he’s worried about include firearm ID cards and red light cameras. Matthew Scaro is a small business owner. He supports a balanced budget, term limits, LGBT rights, ending foreign wars, ending the war on drugs and legalizing marijuana. Here is his campaign website. Jon Stewart is a former professional wrestler and now works at his family’s auto dealership. He supports property tax reform and wants to implement a policy that would require a referendum whenever governments wish to raise either local taxes or fees (and require 2/3rd of voters to approve the measure – making it very difficult to raise taxes or fees). He also wants to cut spending and eliminate state mandates on prevailing wage requirements and collective bargaining rules, eliminate defined-benefit state pension plans (replacing them with a privatized system), reduce the state payroll by 10% (layoffs), repeal the Medicaid expansion in Illinois and reduce state expenditures to higher education by $500 million, etc. Here is his website and here is the budget plan he supports. This seems very similar to what happened in Kansas with Governor Brownback. I hope he doesn’t get elected.
Constitution Party Candidate
Randy Stufflebeam is a candidate of the Constitution Party, but he doesn’t seem to have a campaign website.
Let me know in the comments if I’ve missed any important candidates or issues.
In case you missed the previous BKAS posts, here they are:
California Part 1
California Part 2
California Part 3
California Part 4
California State Democratic Chair Race
Florida Part 1
Florida Part 2
Virginia Governor and Senate Races
Michigan Part 1
Michigan Part 2
Texas Part 1
Texas Part 2
Texas Part 3
Illinois Part 1
NEXT STATE UP - Kentucky
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