Halloween Story - The Ghost Horse

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Halloween Story - The Ghost Horse

Post#1 » Oct 03 2016 02:28

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THE GHOST HORSE
By TauMan a.k.a. Riodan O'Duffy


PART ON.E THE BORK'AN ADVANCED DESIGN COOPERATIVE

Yet another day of visiting yet another design cooperative on Bork'an, but at least the beer is good,' thought Shas'vre Vior'la Dai'tsin stepping from the grav-train. Then along with all the members of his delegation he made his way to the moving side walk. There were three fire caste delegations altogether, one from Tash'var, one from Vior'la and one from Bork'an; each delegation consisting of exactly five members. Standing on the side walk Dai'tsin looked over the towering snow shrouded blue black mountains that surrounded the white domes of the cooperative and smiled.

'Smiling this morning Vre'Dai'tsin? Are you still thinking about last night's the beer?' said a powerful built female firewarrior standing next to him.

'Aye,' he replied to his commander Shas'El Vior'la Onu'oshi'shi.

'I'm still thinking about last night's evening ride...and about today's dawn ride,' she said turning towards him with a flash of the morning sun in her ruby coloured eyes.

'You're welcome commander,' he replied looking back to her with a flash of gold in his own emerald eyes.

The side walk had finally reached the entrance to the Bork'an Advanced Design Cooperative, above the entrance the scrolling holographic banner read: “NEW DEVELOPMENTS IN WEAPONS RESEARCH...ADVANCED PULSE WEAPONRY...FASTER AND MORE EFFECTIVE GUN DRONES....NEW A.I. JETBIKES AS FAST AS AN AX-1 FIGHTER AIRCRAFT...” Dai'tsin paused and stared at the banner thinking, 'What new jetbike? We have jetbikes now just like the Ar'cea? As fast an AX-1? This I must see! '


Once all the delegations were inside and seated in the reception amphitheater they were treated to a long winded and very exacting history of the Bork'an Advanced Design Cooperative. There was the long list of Cooperative's achievements, and its equally long list of contributions to the Tau'va and to the destiny of the Tau people. It was tedious as it was thorough, but Dai'tsin was polite and sat through it all, as did most of the delegations members. That was except for the commander of the Tash'var delegation, who let it be known by her body language, just how snae'ta bored she was with it all! This made Dai'tsin laugh quietly to himself. There followed light refreshments and a chance to view a selection of curious historical items from the Design Cooperative's museum. Standing next to the Tash'var commander Dai'tsin could hear her grind her teethplates with annoyance. He laughed again. At last the moment had arrived to see the new weaponry and the delegation were led on a walk-through of the all the research labs with their various shops and testing areas.

This took most of the morning and was about as interesting as standing guard over drying paint.

'Advanced pulse weapons...nah, nah, nah...Faster and more effective gun drones...nah, nah, nah...Com'on let's get on with it! ' thought Dai'tsin he himself finally becoming bored. It was at the end of the morning when the delegations arrived at the laboratory labelled: TX-145 A.I. JETBIKE PROJECT.

All of the delegations were then ushered into a wide and darkened circular room, lit only by the lights of various holographic displays around the walls. When everyone had entered the lighting came up slowly to reveal a fully realized TX-145 jetbike on a rotating dais. A stout earth caste woman stood next to the jetbike in formal Fio robes edged in Bork'an blue. Her beryl yellow eyes flashed with excitement as she spoke.

'Dear shas'fann of Vior'la, Bork'an and Tash'var, the TX-145 A.I. Jetbike Project team would like to welcome you all! I am Fio'Vre Sai'run head of the A.I. Jetbike Project. The development of the Tau Empire's first combat jetbike is a culmination of many tau'cyr of work; which we are happy to announce, has finally come to fruition. We invite you all to now gather around and see what is next in ultra-fast troop deployment and extraction...'

Dai'tsin looked at the prototype jetbike as it slowly rotated, illuminated as it was from both above and below. The jetbike seemed like something almost alive, shimmering as it did, in chromium cobalt blue with dark charcoal grey highlights. The first thing that struck him was how small it was. Not even half the length of an Ar'cea jetbike, and it appeared to be all engine! The seat positioned such that the pilot's legs straddled the main exhaust. “A very precarious position to be sitting,” thought Dai'tsin.

The engine appeared to have been lifted straight from a XV-86 Coldstar Battleuit. And its intake appeared to be a small air scoop, that to Dai'tsin, resembled nothing more than the mouth of a fish. Now just below and slightly ahead of the pilot's foot rests, the jetbike sported two long swept backed wings, downward angled. The line of the fuselage, if one could call the slight body work of the jetbike a fuselage, then angled high and ended in a single swept back vertical tail, with longer twin vee tails below. Viewing the jetbike in a full profile, it seemed to Dai'tsin not so much a jetbike; but rather a large aquatic predator. What's more the jetbike looked like as if it were about to launch itself from the dais.

'Strange that any earth caste vehicle would give me such a feeling. Not even a TX-2 or TX-4 skimmers, which are the most creature like tau vehicles, ever made me feel this way,' thought Dia'tsin unable to pull his eyes from the small sleek jetbike.

'...Furthermore shas'fann, just think of the possibilities? Pathfinders on jetbikes deploying from dropships, to then swoop down behind enemy lines, and select targets with their marklights; or to support the main advance with ion rifle and rail rifle fire! Or Firewarrior squads, quickly outflanking the enemy, then dismounting to lay down vast quantities of pulse rifle fire! Once again our Tau fire caste will become the masters of mobile warfare...' the earth caste woman Sai'run continued her overwrought pitch to the delegations.

Dai'tsin, however was too entranced by the jetbike to hear much of what she was saying. He leaned over and pointing to some unusual charcoal grey patches on sides of the jetbike said out loud, 'Wonder what those are for?'

'Wit's t'at Vre'Dai'tsin?' asked his commander in her silky sing-song Vior'lan brogue.

'Sorry ma'am, Ah dinna realize Ah was speakn' out loud,' answered Dai'tsin in his own Vior'lan brogue. 'Look here at these dark grey patches on the sides...'

'Aye, Ah see them too. Curious...'

'Are you speaking of the those patches there?' asked a female voice besides them.

All the Viorlan delegation turned and looked to see the Shas'el, who was head of the Tash'var delegation, pointing at very same dark grey patches. 'I think I know what they're for. Do you ride Shas'el?' she asked the Vior'lan commander.

'Aye, I do Shas'el. I am sorry. we were just introduced, but it's Shas'El'Qim'ka'shi isn't it?' she answered bowing.

'Yes, Shas'El'Onu'oshi'shi, and I think I know what they're for. So please let me ask our Fio'vre to confirm or deny my suspicions; but if you ride I think you'll be able to guess what they're for?' said the Tash'var commander bowing in return.

“Ask away Shas'el...” smiled the Vior'lan commander.

'Fio'Vre Sai'run, would you mind telling us what these dark grey patch-like features are on the side of the jetbike?'

Sai'run however was in the midst of explaining to the Bork'an delegation more of the new jetbike's features, 'Yes, yes almost as fast an AX-1 fighter going flat out... What was that? ...Yes, just about all of the vehicle battle systems are available on the TX-145, except for the advanced targeting system and the point defence...I'm sorry just a moment El'Bogi'erra...Yes El'Qim'ka'shi, what was that you said?' asked Sai'run turning around to face to tall and imposing Tash'var commander.

'The dark grey patches on the side, what are they for?'

'T'ahh...' Sai'run's face suddenly went blank and she was at a loss for words, but finally said, 'T'ah...actually they're just decorative. The finalized TX-145 production design...t'ahhh...won't...I mean will not have those features.'

'Why is that? Wait...why would a decorative feature be included on the prototype in the first place? ' asked the Viorlan commander jumping into the conversation.

'Because...I suppose...the original jetbikes had them? So we of the design team decided to kept them for the prototype...'

'Original jetbikes?' simultaneously said a multitude of fire caste voices.

'T'oh, well we're a bit ahead of schedule to cover the project background, but I suppose I could now go over the history of the TX-145 jetbike development...'

'Wait didn't you say the team took tau'cyrs to develop the jetbike? Is this based on some alien technology then?' asked Dai'tsin joining in without asking permission.

Sai'run took a deep breath and letting it out slowly said, 'No the original jetbikes on which the TX-145 prototype are based on are entirely of tau earth caste technology. The only thing is, it isn't our earth caste technology.'

Sai'run let her information sink in and when it did, there rose one long collective, 'Xhmm...' from the delegations.

At last the Tash'var Commander asked, 'Are ye saying that the jetbike technology came from...'

'The Farsight Enclaves,' hurriedly broke in a square jawed earth caste man; who turned towards Sai'run and asked, 'Permission to continue Fio'vre?'

'Granted Fio'vre,' she answered. 'Dear shas'fann this is my chief assistant on the project Fio'Vre Ru't'suam,' said the Team Leader bowing to the delegations and then pointing to her assistant.

'The jetbikes are recovered Enclave technology...' added Ru't'suam also bowing to the delegations. '...And the original jetbikes had these patches or pads on them...'

'Wait, Fio'vre, but I have always been led to understand that the earth caste of the Enclaves lagged behind us considerably as far technology was concerned,' broke in the stern faced Bork'an commander. 'And that they were not as proficient in weapon development as our earth caste. That in fact that most of their weapons are just knock offs of our own earth caste technology, or that at the very least their technology was stolen from us?'

'T'ahh...' stammered the assistant.

'In this instant Shas'el it appears not to have been the case,' said Sai'run now jumping in to return the favour and rescue her assistant. 'For a while now, we’ve been reassessing our knowledge of the Enclave earth caste, and perhaps it is time to re-calibrate our estimation of their capabilities. Or simply put, what we thought we knew of Enclave technology has been thus far... inaccurate?'

'IN-acc-ur-ate?” said the Bork'an commander emphasizing the syllables.

'Yes, Shas'El Bork'an Bogi'erra our understanding of the Enclave earth caste has heretofore been inaccurate,” said a deep gravely voice in a heavy Bork'an accent. Every one turned to see the head of the Director of the Bork'an Advanced Design Cooperative as he strode into the room surrounded by an entourage of other earth caste personnel. The Cooperative Director was short, elderly, but still was a forceful presence. He moved on two prosthetic legs of chromium steel and the entire left side of his face was made of the same chromium steel. His prosthetic left eye was a wide red lens that reflected the entire face of the Bork'an fire caste commander.

'Yes, Fio'O Bork'an Vi'ghal...I must be mistaken,' said the commander bowing deeply.

'Well then proceed with your history of the program Fio'Vre Sai'run,' said the Director of the Cooperative.

'Excuse me O'Vi'ghal. But I politely ask that we dispense with the long history of the how these jetbikes came to the Design Cooperative?' cheekily asked the tall Tash'var commander.


There was silence as everyone waited to see what the Director would do.


Vi'ghal had a history of taking no guff from the Bork'an fire caste. Nor for that matter did he take guff from the fire caste from any other sept. Nor did he take any guff from any water caste, air caste, or even other earth caste. Only to the ethereal caste did he defer, so everyone waited for his reaction. The Director wagged his head once or twice and looked up at Project Team Leader Sai'run on the dais.

'Any objections Fio'vre?'

'No Fio'o...but I was...looking forward to telling our shas'fann guests how Por'Vre Bork'an Kruu'kais tricked the Be'gel Free'boot'az out of the jetbikes,” said Sai'run looking sad.

'Perhaps another time then Fio'vre...,' said the O'Vi'ghal, and turning to the Tash'var commander asked, 'What was it you wanted to hear about instead Shas'el?'

The Tash'var commander smiled and bowing formally to the Director asked, 'What was the original purpose of these dark grey patches on the side of the jetbikes? For the Enclave jetbikes that is.'

'Xhmm...what are they for Fio'vre?' asked Vi'ghal turning back to the Sai'run standing on the dais.

'T'ahh...' Sai'run's face turned a deep blue and then she spat out, '...We still don't know Fio'o.'


There was a collective gasp from the room.


Then assistant Fio'Vre Ru't'suam again jumped in saying, 'On the Enclave jetbikes these dark grey patches are a touch pad style of control surface; but we still don't know how they were meant to be used...or what it was they exactly controlled. The touch pads are not directly hard-wired to any mechanical part of the jetbike; but rather they are connected directly to the jebike's A.I. unit. Therefore we have no real idea just how they were meant to function.'

'So you see it's true that we don't know what they're for,' added the Team Leader.

'Well, would you permit me to then sit on the jetbike, or should I say take the saddle of the jetbike Fio'vre? If you do, I'll show you what I think the control surfaces were for,' asked the Tash'var commander.

'Absolutely Shas'el, any objections Fio'vre?' asked the Director.

'No Fio'o I have no objections.'


At this point Dai'tsin leaned said to his own commander, 'Ah think Ah knae wha' they're for, dae ye El'Onu'oshi'shi?'

'Ye dae? I can only guess wha' they're fer!' she replied.

Sai'run halted the rotation of the dais and the tall Tash'var commander sat down on the seat of the jetbike. Putting her hooves on the pegs, it was immediately apparent to all that the grey patches corresponded exactly to where the commander's knees and heels touched the side of the jetbike. She asked, 'Fio've, if I move my feet forward are there two corresponding patches there as well?'

'T'eh? Why yes there are!' replied Ru't'suam pointing to the heretofore hidden touch pads.

'And there are two more behind the foot pegs aren't there Fio'vre?' she asked leaning down to look at his upturned face.

'T'ah, behind? Why of course there are two more small touch pads behind...'

'Does anyone here ride rat'lai – horses?' asked the commander. 'Do you Fio'Vre Ru't'suam? Or you Fio'Vre Sai'run?' How about the Director of the Cooperative Fio'O Vi'ghal?'

To this question all of the Vior'lan delegation raised their left hands in a fist, as did all of the Tash'var, and three of the Bork'an delegation. None of the Bork'an earth caste in the room raised a hand.

'No Fio'ui Ru't'suam? Well if you did, you would know what exactly these touch pads are for, as they are the same places on a horse's flank a rider uses to control her animal.'


A collective 'Xhmm,' rose from the room.


'Hiya-te! I ride myself I should have known that,' shouted the Bork'an commander tapping a hoof in excitement.

'I ride as well and should have also known that,' said the Vior'lan commander, but then flashing her dark ruby eyes at Dai'tsin she added, 'Isn't that right Shas'vre?'

'You're a better horseman than me commander, so I'll...defer to your judgement on this matter,' he replied with a small smile.

The Tash'var commander turned to her earth caste hosts and so began her lecture and demonstration, 'Let me explain how it works in traditional horsemanship. In the days of horse warfare, even before the mont'au, when a rider went to battle she or he needed to use both hands to yield a sword and shield or to fire a bow. So there developed various methods of controlling the horse without the use of the hands on the reins.

Most commonly, when a rider pushes with the right knee to the right flank, and the horse goes right. When she pushes with the left knee on the flank and the horse goes left. Touching both heels, or both spurs actually, and the horse will trot. Spur again and the horse will break into a run. Touch both toes to the front at the same time and the horse will stop. Touch the left foot forward and the right spur at the same time and the horse spins in place to the right. Now I could go on, but you see what I am getting at. In my opinion these touch pads would allow the Enclave firewarrior to control his or her jetbike as if it were a horse.'


Another collective 'Xhmm,' came from the room.


'We knew the touch pads corresponded to where the leg and the spurs of the rider were when perched on the seat...we just didn't know how it supposed to work,' stammered a stunned Ru't'suam.

The Vior'lan commander then turned, and taking Dai'tsin by the belt, spun him around and away from the crowd, 'Ye knae wha' those pads were for even before the Tash'var commander did, dinna ye?' she whispered giving him a fierce look.

'Aye, Ah deed...' he laughed putting a hand surreptitiously on her hip.

'Dinna ye nay think to tell mae?' she said giving him a quick nip on the cheek.

'T'ach, wer in public Shas'el!' he laughed. 'Dinna Ah say ye wer better horseman than Ah? Could ye nay figure it out yersel?'

'Ye nay hae me figured out Shas'vre!' she whispered.


'And at no time did anyone in the Design Cooperative think to bring in someone from the fire caste as a consultant? Why not Shas'El Bork'an Bogi'erra here? Doesn't he have a high enough security clearance?' asked the Tash'var commander getting off the jetbike.

'It was project of the highest top security level, and until very recently it was rated at security level 'Invisible'. Not even high ranking members of the Bork'an fire caste with the proper clearances knew about the program,' said the Director of the Cooperative bowing by way of apology to the Tash'var commander.

'Ja, it's true,' said the Bork'an commander wagging his head “yes”, 'We knew nothing about it either.'

'Well, if there ever was a case for more inter-caste cooperation this was it! Somebody at some level must have got wind of this? I believe with fire caste help...who knows how many tau'cyr could have been cut off the development of the project. The question is now: how many other things has your team missed?' asked the Tash'var commander.


All the earth caste present looked at each and gave out a collective, 'T'ahh.'


'Why would the Enclave fire caste want to control a jetbike without their hands?' then asked Sai'run the Team Leader.

'To use a pulse rifle or a pulse carbine I suppose,' replied the quite exasperated Tash'var commander. 'Zoom in close enough for a volley of rapid fire, and then zoom off again. Back in the day our firewarriors use to do something similar with the TV-7 troop transport. Use to drive the Gue'la into a rage every time we did it!'

The Bork'an delegation now took turns sitting on the prototype jetbike and then pantomiming shooting pulse rifles and pulse carbines at imaginary enemies. While this was going on Dai'tsin looked at his commander turned around and rejoined the group of delegations. He looked at her with a look that said, 'May I ask a question?' The Vior'lan commander wagged her head “yes”.

'So, if these jetbikes are originally from the Enclaves, how did you go about designing and building this one? Did your design team...xhmm, what's the word, reverse engineer the Enclave jetbikes,' asked Dai'tsin.

'In a manner of speaking yes. We duplicated most of everything except for the Enclave A.I. unit, but there were also some other components which we could not replicate,' she answered.

'How did you then estimate the performance of the Enclave jetbikes?'

'Well not knowing just what the performance for the jetbikes were, we went with our own estimates of what we believed they were capable of. This was based on the projections we did of comparable engines, avionics, and so forth; which were then used these in the construction of our first early prototypes. Now I can say unequivocally that we've come quite close to replicating the performance of the originals.'

A Bork'an shas'vre was now lying down on the jetbike and pretending to fire his imaginary pulse pistol behind her at a pursing enemy.

The Viorlan commander got a quizzical look on her face and then shot Dai'tsin a quick glance before asking, 'How does your final prototype jetbike compare then to the Enclave jetbikes. In a side-by-side comparisons?'

There was another long pause and another panicked look from on the Team Leader's face. She bowed apologetically and said, 'It was not possible to do side-by-side comparisons of the jetbikes.'

'And why is that fio'vre?' asked the commander.

'It was not...possible...to...operate either of the Enclave jetbikes,' she replied looking to one side.

Again the fire caste delegations all turned their heads in her direction, even the Bork'an shas'vre shooting at pursing enemies, stopped her firefight to look at the Team Leader. Dai'tsin leaned over and whispered in his commander's ear, 'How deed ye knae they hadn't actually ridden the Enclave bikes?'

'Just a guess from everything ta't they've shared soo far,' she whispered back.

Once again her assistant came to the rescue, 'It was not physically possible to ride the Enclave jetbikes, for a side-by-side...'

'How is that? They are operational are they not?' fired back the Vior'lan commander.

'Well yes shas'el, however...'

'Is there some reason why they cannot be flown?' boomed the Bork'an commander.

'Are they, or are they not, operational fio'vre?' asked the Tash'var commander adding to the fusillade.

'Please understand that we not with holding any information! Both of the recovered jetbikes and their A.I. units are...were operational, we've lost one...But there is the matter of friend-or-foe transponder identifiers, encrypted pass codes, security firewalls. Not to mention differences in operating systems...Then there is the self-defense programming of the Enclave A.I. units themselves, what with their fail-safe systems linked to self-destruct charges. All of which made it difficult to penetrate the A.I. databases. Eventually we had to remove the A.I. units altogether, due to the aggressive response of the jetbikes, when approached by our team members...'


Silence fell across everyone in the room, but then a shas'vre from Tash'var asked, 'Aggressive response?'


'Yes,' replied the Team Leader Sai'run signalling to her assistant to continue.

'The jetbikes attempted to fire their twin-linked pulse pistols at our team members; which would have been bad, had not both of their power packs already been empty. Both jetbikes then charged our team. Several were severely injured and some lost limbs as the result of the incident. Two were killed outright. Only a focused beam from an electromagnetic pulse generator drone stopped the jetbikes' attack.'

'I am sorry for my impertinent attitude fio'vre. It is quite understandable as to why the jetbikes could not be ridden,' said the Tash'var commander bowing formally to Sai'run. The rest of Tash'var delegation then bowed, followed by both the Vior'lan and Bork'an delegations.

'Excuse me fio'fann, but may I ask about the jetbike's primary directive? All A.I. life forms are programmed not to let harm come to any tau? How could this happen? Didn't the jetbikes “know” they were attacking tau?' asked the Vior'lan commander in a respectful tone.

It was now the Director of the Design Collective who answered her question, 'Shas'El'Vior'la Onu'oshi'shi, the jetbikes knew exactly who they were attacking. Repeated shouts for to them to respond to the primary directive were ignored. It must be therefore assumed that their original programming had been intentionally tampered with, there being no sign of damage to their A.I. units. And it is my opinion that we may be seeing the true face of the Farsight Enclaves!' The Director then turned and set the gaze of his large red augmented eye upon the Viro'lan commander and said, 'We gave both verbal and transmitted requests to respond to the primary directive, but received only one transmission in return: “For the Dawn Blade! For Vior'los! For O'Shova!”'

And as the entire room stood there in shock, Fio'O Vi'ghal bowed and with his entourage left the display room.

It was the assistant Fio'Vre Ru't'suam who broke the chill silence of the room. 'There is another reason why we still don't know what the full capacities of the Enclave jetbikes are. There is, we think, an as yet unknown interface between the rider and jetbike. During the incident both of the jetbikes were broadcasting short range recognition-and-link-up requests; which was rapidly repeated over and over again during the attack. This low frequency broadcast is very similar to one used by our gun drones, when they need to re-establish a link with a crisis battlesuit pilot. We therefore surmised that the Enclave firewarrior's were using an interface that allowed them to sync-up with their jetbikes. However since the jetbikes didn't come with any captured Enclave firewarriors, so we were unable to test this hypothesis.'

'You mean an interface like using a drone controller to direct fire of gun drones?' asked Dai'tsin.

'Yes, the jetbike's broadcasts would seem to indicate that, but there are no captured firewarriors to ask, “Are you using a drone controller with your jetbike?” Although I have to say Shas'Vre Sai'run believes the interface may be more like that of the XV-02 Pilot suit used by some of our tank commanders.'

'Yes, it would seem to be a bit more sophisticated than just a simple drone controller that's for sure,' interjected Sai'run the Team Leader.

Dai'tsin leaned in close to his commander and whispered in her ear, 'Ask them if we can see the last Enclave jetbike? Ye'd like to see it wouldn't ye?'

'Ye canna resist seein' a nice piece of horse-flesh, even if it wants to kill ye Dai'tsin?' she said giving him a conspiratorial look. Now turning to the earth caste design team she said, 'My dearest fio'fann, would it be possible to view the surviving Enclave jetbike? Am I correct in thinking there is one still operational?'

'Yes, but we can view it only remotely,' replied Team Leader Sai'run, but then seeing the disappointment in the faces of all the fire caste delegations she said, 'Upon reconsideration I will take you shas'fann to the training dome where the last jetbike is kept, and view it from there. We can also view the mock-up of the other jetbike, as it looked before before it self-destructed.' And with that she led the delegations out of the viewing room and then down the hall to the building's maglev rail station.

'What the snae'ta? Self-destructed?!' muttered Dai'tsin to his commander. But others were thinking the same thing, and the expression could be heard muttered from under the breaths from several of the delegations' members.

****


Author's note: This story was published as part of the 2016 Challenge TX-145 / TX-153 A.I. Jetbike entry, and was immediately pulled by the moderators. And rightly so, since the story would have tipped everyone off as which entry was mine, but in my defense I didn't realize the entries were suppose to be anonymous! Also it wasn't meant to sway anyone's vote, just an added treat to the contest. :roll:

However I've been wanting to do a Halloween story here on the A.T.T. for sometime now, so here is that story; and maybe others will jump in and do their own 'spooky'
stories!
:dead:
Last edited by TauMan on Nov 09 2016 02:26, edited 9 times in total.
Viro’los gu brath!
N.Y.A.B.X.T.T.

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Re: The Ghost Horse - Challenge 2016 Fiction

Post#2 » Oct 03 2016 03:05

:P
good one!
You have my vote
:dead:

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TauMan
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Re: Halloween Story - The Ghost Horse

Post#3 » Oct 10 2016 11:42

PART TWO: LITTLE RED PONY

The maglev stopped outside a large p'gri'saal or training dome, and as they exited the delegations gathered around the Team Leader Fio'Vre Sai'run to listen to her speak. 'This is the Design Cooperative's Training Dome 23 where we store the remaining Enclave jetbike. Dome 23 is usually reserved for weapons testing, which does not occur every rotaa or even every rotexi, so we that's why we store the jetbike here. Please follow me into the command and control centre.'

Inside the dome the delegations were taken up by maglev elevators to first the command and control centre, and from there to the adjacent the wide observation deck. Looking out over the vast empty training dome, they could see to the left, a green energy field surrounding a small and rectangular area. An earth caste technician opened an array of holographic displays which brought the rectangular area into closer view. Inside there looked to a couple of docking stations, and in one them seemed to be something, but if it was a jetbike or not was difficult to tell.

'Dear shas'fann we will be providing a holographic representation of the Enclave jetbike, as it doesn't seem to be very active this dec. Also until the physical mock up arrives of the other Enclave jetbike, we will provide you with a holographic representation of it as well...'

'Not active at this dec? What is he talking about?' asked Dai'tsin turning to the rest of the Viro'lan delegation.

'My thought as well Shas'el,' said the Tash'var commander speaking to her Vior'lan counter part.

'Xhmm...' answered the Vior'lan commander.

Two holographic representations appeared before the delegations one seemed in good condition, but the other appeared to heavily damaged, but intact. Dai'tsin's eyes were drawn to the holograph of the intact bike, and it was definitely the same general size and design as the prototype jetbike he had just seen. However that jetbike was not an exact replica of this one; this bike was different. While the earlier jetbike looked like an aquatic animal, this one seemed more birdlike. This jetbike appeared to be a more fierce and warlike animal, more of a bird of prey than a fish.

Its' over all look was more angular and the air intake had more right angles like the air intakes of a TX-4 skimmer. The short side wings arched up rather than down, and the was no triple tail like the other jetbike, but rather there was an upward swept dual 'swallow tail'. The jetbike's body colour was a dark red and showed signs of combat, carbon scoring and a few large calibre bullet holes.

At this point a service drone brought in the mock-up of the other lost jetbike, and the corresponding hologram disappeared. All the delegations members now gathered around to gawk and touch the mock-up. Dai'tsin decided to walk over to the edge of the observation glass and turning to a nearby technician asked for closer view. The technician zoomed into view of the docking station, but then said, 'You'll have a hard time seeing the jetbike as its reactive camouflage is turned on.'

'Reactive camouflage?'

'Yes sir, it's much like the cameoline camouflage systems of the Ar'cea or the Gue'la. The system is built right into the surface of the bodywork, and we didn't have anything like it until we reverse engineered it,' answered the technician smiling.

'Xhmm that's interesting.'

'Something catch your eye Shas'Vre Dai'tsin? I have your name correct do I not?' asked a female voice.

Dai'tsin turned to see the Tash'var commander standing next to him.

'Yes Shas'El Qim'ka'shi, Dai'tsin is correct.'

'So is it that are you're looking at?'

'Commander, what does that rectangular energy field look like to you? Really, what does it look like?' he asked.

'Honestly, I think it looks like a paddock,' she said looking intensely at him with black onyx eyes.

He noted the look, but chose to ignore it, 'And the docking stations?'

'Ever so much like a stalls for horses,' she answered turning back to the close up view.

Dai'tsin showing some excitement now leaned in close to the commander, 'Something else El'Qim'ka'shi, did you notice the holographic blue-green sky with simulated clouds? Why there's even a simulated sun moving across the 'sky'? I would wager the shadows cast by that 'sun' match exactly those shadows outside being cast by the star of Bork'an.'

'No I hadn't noticed, that was until you mentioned it just now,' she said bringing her face close to his, 'Why would they do that?' she asked looking once more with her black eyes into his emerald green eyes.

'Exactly what I was thinking! Why would an artificial life form need an artificial landscape?' he answered not avoiding her gaze this time.

'Having an interesting conversation with my shas'vre Shas'El Tash'var Qim'ka'shi?' asked the Vior'lan commander stepping forcibly in between the two with her ruby eyes ablaze.

'Quite an interesting conversation Shas'El Viro'la Onu'oshi'shi,' replied the Tash'var commander, her own black eyes on fire.


Around the mock-up of the jetbike the delegations were poking and prodding bits of the jetbike. Some were taking turns sitting on the mock-up, much to the consternation of the Project Team Leader Sai'run. 'Please shas'fann, would you refrain from sitting on the jetbike mock-up. Its' not operational in any case...'

'T'eh? Why does sitting on their jetbike feel so much better than our jetbike? The ergonomics seem far better on this one...' said the Bork'an commander ignoring the request of the Project Team Leader.

'We tried to replicate exactly the extensive damage it incurred in its final engagement. The jagged irregular slashes on the sides are of course evidence of Be'gel chain weapons, and the large impact holes are from Be'gel kinetic weapons...' explained the assistant Fio'vre Ru't'suam.

'What were their firewarriors on jetbikes doing engaging in close combat?' asked a Bork'an shas'vre.

A shas'ui from Vior'la answered her question, 'Perhaps not a voluntarily engagement Shas'vre? You know what they say about the Be'gel: “One raik'or they're a thousand tor'kan away, and the next raik'or they've got you by the throat!”.'

There was much laughter at this statement, which Dai'tsin took advantage of to slip away from the two women officers, and back to the mock-up. This left the two fire caste women with nothing to do but stare at one another. Meanwhile Dai'tsin discovered a large tray of items next to the jetbike. There were a number of small equipment pieces, most of which were broken or had items missing. There was also a number of personal items including broken side arms and one or two other broken weapons. Dia'tsin picked up what looked like a knife missing most of its blade; but then upon closer examination, it turned out to have a rather large hand guard and a much heavier blade. Suddenly realizing what is was, he held it up saying, 'Wait this was a shas'xa – sabre!'

Everyone looked over at him.

'This was the weapon of choice for the nomads of the ancient T'au steppes, the very epitome of horse warfare. There wouldn't also be the remains of a mont'r'alm – long war axe among these bits here would there?' he asked.

'No there wasn't shas'vre, but there is evidence that the Enclaves firewarriors did intentionally engage in close combat with their jetbikes,' offered the assistant Ru't'suam.

'Grootox dust Fio'vre!' said the Bork'an commander loudly. 'No tau fire caste would ever intentionally engage in close combat with the Be'gel, not even in the Enclaves!'

'I don't know about that commander. If our people fought nothing but the Be'gel for three hundred and twenty tau'cyr, maybe we'd learn learn how to engage in close combat too?' said Dai'tsin swinging the remnant of the blade in a figure eight pattern.

'Shas'Vre Dai'tsin, a word with you please?' said the Vior'lan commander to him, but then turning to the Bork'an commander she bowed saying, 'Apologies commander for my firewarrior's disrespectful manner.'

Surprised, the Bork'an commander first looked at her and then at Dai'tsin, but then respectfully returned her bow.

Now taking Dai'tsin aside the Vior'lan shas'el asked angrily, 'What is going on with you? First you walk away from the delegation without permission to go and have a private conversation with the Tash'var commander. Then, just when I'm about to confront you on your discourtesy, you walk away again! Now you're insulting the commander from the Bork'an delegation by cheekily disagreeing with him! What's going on Dai'tsin?'

Dai'tsin looked towards the floor and then to one side and said, 'I know how you Vior'lan women are, you don't like it when another mare is messing around with your stallion,' then looking closely in her eyes added, 'Besides I didn't want to be there when the hooves started to fly.'

The commander's mouth opened and her cheeks turned a deep blue, then shutting her mouth, she turned away and hid her face. Dai'tsin knew he had her, since she was desperately trying not to laugh.

'Stop tha' yer' makin' mae laugh!' she sputtered through her hand. Then with fire in her red eyes she asked, 'How is tha' Ah'm nae in command of ye except on the battlefield?' she said slipping into brogue.

'Nae in command of mae? Ah'm part aw yer retinue and Ah'm on yer' command team. Yer' in command of mae all the teem...' and then leaning forward he whispered, '...Even when yer in the saddle.'

Unable to fight back the laughter she cried, 'Tee-ah, nae Ahm' laughin' oot loud...' And nodding her head “no” said, 'Dai'tsin ye'll alwa be mae Felde'rat'laa.'


'You know having a difference of opinion isn't being disrespectful,' said the Bork'an commander to the other delegations, but then looking over at the Vior'lan commander and Dai'tsin laughing he asked. 'T'eh, now what's going on?'

'Commander there is nothing to worry about. Just a successful resolution to a lovers' disagreement,' replied the Tash'var commander.

'Xhmm,' he said with a wag of his head and a wry smile.

'There were traces of Be'gel blood on the shas'xa, which contained many fungoidal spores. Thankfully Por'Vre Kruu'kais radiated everything as soon as he got it, otherwise we'd be up to our arm pits in “Grots and Boyz” by now. What's more, there were traces on of Be'gel blood on the edges of the jetbike's blades...' enthusiastically explained Fio'vre Ru't'suam pointing to a leading edge of one of the jetbike's wings.

'What was that fio'vre? Did you say the jetbikes had blades?' asked another shas'vre from Bork'an.

'Yes shas'vre. There were retractable blades on the leading edges wings of the jetbikes. These too showed traces of Be'gel blood.'

'That's unbelievable fio'vre! The Enclave earth caste actually put blades on their jetbikes?' asked the Bork'an commander.

'Unbelievable yes, but nonetheless true. Unfortunately we weren't aware of that fact until the jetbikes attacked our staff. One of the reasons why there were so many causalities.'

'Is this why you said earlier there was evidence of the Enclave firewarriors had intentionally engaged in close combat,' asked the Vior'lan commander, who with Dai'tsin, was now back at the mock-up.

'Yes.'

'Still don't believe it fio'vre!' snorted the Bork'an commander.

The Vior'lan commander and Dai'tsin made their way back to the jetbike mock-up, and when he saw there was a lull in the conversation, he took his chance. So stepping up to the Project Team Leader her bowed and asked, 'Dear Fio'vre, may I sincerely request a personal and closer physical inspection of the remaining jetbike?'

'NO!' shouted in unison the Team Leader Sai'run, her assistant Ru't'suam, and the Vior'lan commander Onu'oshi'shi.

'Are you insane sha'vre? It is still dangerous to be anywhere near that jetbike!' replied the Team Leader.

'Shas'vre we may have removed the wing blades, but we still have no idea what else it can do!' said Ru't'suam.

'As part of the Vior'lan delegation you should have asked permission of your commander first!' shouted Onu'oshi'shi.

'There are safe guards in place for any entering the training dome, are there not Fio'vre? And Shas'el I am sorry for the oversight in asking prior permission. Please forgive, I let my enthusiasm get the better of me!'

'Yes, but why take the risk, if it is unnecessary shas'vre? Besides you must know that the safety of all of the delegations is our responsibility while you're all on site. We cannot simply comply with every request and whim from our guests. Furthermore It would require permission from the Director himself to allow you access to the jetbike.'

The Vior'lan commander suddenly turned and bowing to the Project Team Leader asked, 'Then please Fio'vre Sai'run would be so kind as to initiate a request to the Director of the Cooperative for Shas'Vre Dai'tsin to examine the Enclave jetbike,'

'T'eh? You changed your mind commander? Yes, yes then I'll do that right away, but know that I cannot guarantee permission will be granted in this matter,' answered Sai'run bowing in return.

'Well, well this rotaa was quite boring until got to jetbike project. Seems there's something different happening every raik'or since we got here!' exclaimed the Bork'an commander with sharp tap of his hoof. 'Can't wait to see what's going to happen next!'

Dai'tsin now turned and looked to his commander and asked quietly, 'My anda'ta'lissera – bond sister, why did you give your permission after first being so adamant in your refusal?'

Onu'oshi'shi turned to Dai'tsin her red eyes blazing and her high cheeks showing a dark blue. 'Because my anda'ta'lissera – bond brother, I trust you,' she replied bowing to him.

To embarrassed to speak Dai'tsin simply returned her bow.


There shortly ensued, via holographic communication, an animated conversation then took place between the Project Team Leader plus her assistant, and the Director of the Design Cooperative. The Project Team Leader and her assistant raised their voices and gesticulated wildly at times, but finally they calmed down and stoically accepted the Director's decision. Turning to face the surrounding delegations, the Team Leader bowed saying, 'The Director has given his permission for Shas'Vre Dai'stin to enter the training dome, but requests that you wait until his arrival. He wants to see what you're going to do himself.

There were exultation and loud hoof tapping in the room, as each member of the three delegations present, then came up and gave their congratulations to Dai'tsin.

'Tee-ah, shas'vre! May the Light of the Tau'va be with you! And best wishes!' said the Tash'var commander first bowing to Dai'tsin, and then placing a hand on his chest.

Then it was the Bork'an commander's turn bow and then place a hand on Dai'tsin's chest saying, 'For the Tau'va my boy! May you bring honour to all our caste and your sept!'

Finally the Vior'lan commander stood in front of Dai'tsin and placing a hand over his heart said, 'Shas'Vre Vior'la Dai'tsin, our anda'ta'lissera, may the Light of the Tau'va be with you! May you bring honour to our caste and to our sept. And may your sacrifice not be in vain.' And with that she bowed to him her cheeks blue.

'Nuni't'qy anda'ta'lissera!' he replied bowing.


Dai'tsin was already on the ground floor in a side ready room being prepped, when the Director of the Design Cooperative arrived. He hailed Dai'tsin just as the firewarrior was being fitted with a comlink antenna, <<For the Tau'va Shas'Vre Dai'tsin! And may you return safely and in one piece! Truly I wish no harm to come to you my young man, whatever it is you're planning on doing.>>

'Thank you Fio'O'Vi'ghal...No, please I won't need that...'

<<What was that Shas'vre?>>

'My apologies Fio'o, the technicians asked me if I wanted body armour.'

<<It's your choice, but I'd take it if I were you.>>

'Again thanks Fio'o, but I don't want to scare off your little red pony.'

<<What?>>

'This Shas'Vre Dai'tsin signing off.'

While Dai'tsin was saying his good-bye to the Director, Fio'vre Ru't'suam was adamant in giving him the most detailed last minute instructions. 'As I've already said, you're on on your own once you exit the interior door. Also remember that the gravitational inhibitor field is only three tor'leks wide starting at the inside wall. The illuminated purple line on the floor marks the boundary of the field, step beyond that, and your at the mercy of the jetbike. We have sentry drones of course...'

Dai'tsin interrupted Ru't'suam saying, 'I don't want to enter from a door too close to the paddock.'

'T'eh? You mean the energy field don't you?' Ru't'suam waited for answer, but getting none continued, 'Yes, well there's a door not more than twenty tor'leks from the jetbike storage area. Why so far away shas'vre?'

'I want to give the jetbike enough room,' replied the firewarrior as a technician adjusted the holocam on his chest.

'Not too far away, just far enough for to gain enough momentum for a charge, xhmm?'

'Yes, I'd want it to have a fighting chance at least,' he answered smiling.

'Suit yourself shas'vre,' said Ru't'suam nodding his head “no”.

'T'oh, fio'vre I would like some eye protection please.'

'Eye protection but no body armour, why is that?'

'Xhmm, well you never know fio'vre,' answered Dai'tsin taking the slip on goggles from him and stowing them on his web belt.

The assistant now took Dai'tsin to a large entry door that was twenty tor'leks from the where the “paddock” for the jetbike was. Waiting before the door for the final permission from the command-and-control deck, Ru't'suam asked, 'Shas'Vre Dai'tsin, what do you hope to do out there? Think you're going out to rope a wild animal? I don't see an urga – lasso with you?'

'Thanks for reminding me fio'vre about my urga! T'ach, but I seem to have left it back on Vior'la, or maybe I left it on the starship we came in on?' said Dai'tsin looking distressed while pretending to searched about his person.

The blue 'go' light came on, as the armoured door opened, and Dai'tsin crossed over to the interior door. Then as the first door started to close, he turned and said to the assistant in his Vior'lan brogue, 'No laddie, I'm not out rope a wild animal. I'm going to take yer little red pony for a ride.'


****


Dai'tsin stood in the afternoon “sun” of the Training Dome 23 and wondered about his own cheeky remark to the Bork'an fio'vre. Was he tempting fate? And why the attitude as El'Onu'oshi'shi had said? His eyes made a quick scan of the surrounding, before fixing on the jetbike's “paddock”. The energy field that surround the surviving jetbike glowed a pale green, but nothing was moving inside. The the words, 'May your sacrifice not be in vain,' rang again in his ears; while a strong sensation of cold filled his stomach. This Dai'tsin knew the sensation was the feeling of fear, but that feeling had kept him alive so many times before. He trusted his animal instincts, but his commander's words, ''May your sacrifice not be in vain,' floated once more through his mind.


In the paddock something stirred.


'Dai'tsin to C-in-C, turn off the paddock fencing...energy field, or whatever it is?'

<<C-in-C to Dai'tsin are you trying to make contact? Your comlink was down until now.>>

'Snae'ta! I signed off earlier didn't I?'he muttered to himself, but they heard it anyway. The green energy field went out, but still nothing moved in the stalls.

<<What was that Shas'vre? Did you request turning off the protective energy field around the jetbike, we've already done that per your prior request...Wait it just moved!>>

Dai'tsin recognized the voice on the comlink as that of the Project Team Leader Sai'run, and he could hear the fear in her voice when she had said, “Wait it just moved!” He'd seen it too, a flash of something shapeless and grey, moving fast across the dome floor not more than thirty tok'leks in front of him. “Snae'ta that reactive camouflage! It's like trying to track a XV-25 damn it!' he thought to himself.

<<It's stopped moving. Location is twenty seven point twenty five tor'leks out to your north-east quadrant shas'vre,>> came the overly helpful advice from the C-in-C.

'I see it, thank you command centre,' he said not happy at all with their “help”.

The moment the jetbike stopped moving, it revealed itself, buy for only a raik'an or two. Dai'tsin saw in that brief instance the distinct outline of an Enclave jetbike, just like the one he'd just seen in the observation room. However now it was nothing but a grey shapeless thing again. And although Dai'tsin kept his eyes focused on the the faint object; it seemed to become more formless by the raik'or, until it seemed to fade away completely. He wasn't trying to catch a little red pony after all, but was instead trying to capture a faerie horse or a ghost horse!

Keeping his eyes focused on the impossible on the spot on the dome floor, he noted out of his peripheral vision, a solid purple line running along the inside of the dome. The “safe zone” was not more than three tor'leks away from the interior wall, just as Ru't'suam had said. So he let himself relax, and then he decided to walk slowly towards the purple line.

<<Shas'vre you only have three tor'leks of inhibitor field between you and it. You will be able to feel the gravitational field, but you can still walk right through it and not even know it.>>

'Thanks again for the advice C-in-C,' he broadcast, although he wish they'd just keep their eyes on the jetbike and leave off with the obvious.

He kept walking slowly, pass the purple line as everyone in the C-in-C, including the Director and his own commander, shouted for him to get back. Moving through the grav inhibitor field felt like moving through warm curtains, and then all of a sudden he was past the purple line. And at that moment the the jetbike suddenly dropped it's reactive camouflage, and Dai'tsin stopped in his tracks.


The ghost horse had finally revealed itself.


From the C-in-C came a cacophony of shouts and alarms, all kinds of voices including the voice of his commander with her still distinctive but now strident Viro'lan brogue. He thought he also heard a strong accent Tash'var of the commander yelling at him. Somehow her voice seemed quite noticeable above the other voices, sirens and alarm bells.

'You lot are getting to be a distraction, so I'm turning down the volume now,' he broadcast and then reached up and turned down the volume manually on his comlink antenna. He did it that way so they'd see him turning it down, a visual he hoped would be caught on the holocams, if later everything went “out the airlock door”.

Keeping his eye on the red jetbike, he thought to himself, 'Alright lad let's do this thing!' Dai'tsin then rolled his shoulders, took a deep breath, and putting both thumbs in his mouth whistled softly, 'Wheew-wheew-wheew-wheew! Wheew-wheew-wheew-wheew!'

The jetbike turned sharply towards him, but didn't move. So he whistled again, 'Wheew-wheew-wheew-wheew! Wheew-wheew-wheew-wheew!'

'There was now an audible siren going on in the dome training area, and the shouting was louder, even with the volume turned down. 'Can't do this when you've got all the sirens going. Project Team Leader please turn off the alarms and don't try to rescue me unless I ask for it!' The outside alarm went silent, but at the same time the jetbike turned back to the left and slowly began circling towards him.

'Wheew-wheew-wheew-wheew! My aren't you a pretty girl? Wheew-wheew-wheew-wheew! C'mon pretty girl, let me take a look at you, why don't ya?'

The jetbike turned and circled back in the other way, but still in Dai'tsin's general direction. It moved ever so slowly, like an animal that wanted to come closer, but was too wary or skittish. So he decided to wait, and that turned out to be longer than he supposed, for the jetbike would first circle one way and then stop. It would then drift off backwards or sideways, but then would start to move slowly again, only to once again circle back and stop.

Dai'tsin getting tired he decided to take a knee, and while he played with a handful of dirt, began singing.

In the C-and-C the Project Team Leader asked her assistant, 'What's he doing now?'

'He's singing to the jetbike ma'am.'

'Singing?'

'Yes, Fio'vre he's singing.'

'What's the song he's signing?'

'That would be Three Beautiful Chestnut Mares, its a very old folk song. Traditionally it was used by nomadic women to calm the horses while they were milking them,' answered the Vior'lan commander.

'He sings most beautifully Shas'el,' commented the Tash'var commander.

'Aye, he does at that Shas'el,' said the Vior'lan commander smiling with pride.


After nearly a quarter dec Dai'tsin had gone through most of his repertoire of traditional tau folk songs, having sung Three Beautiful Chestnut Mares, Orphan Camel Colt, Miss You Until the Grass Turns Green, Fleecy Clouds and a number of other traditional tunes. Finally the jetbike stopped no more than three tor'leks away from where he squatted. It was not in an offensive stance, presenting as it did its right flank to him; but Dai'tsin knew the jetbike could at any time suddenly turn and charge him. Meanwhile the noise on his comlink had died off, so Dai'tsin turned up the volume via his internal netmatrix connection. He could hear nothing coming from C-in-C except background sounds and whispering. 'Good, ya shut-up at least,' he thought to himself.

The jetbike then did something that caught him off guard, it slowly folded its short wings up against its body. Dai'tsin didn't even know it could do that, and was about ready to bolt for the exit, but the jetbike didn't make another move.

'Tee-ah, aren't you the one for surprises lass!' he said letting out a rush of air and smiling. 'Come her girl, come here my pretty lass,' Dai'tsin spoke softly as he slowly stood up.

The jebike didn't make a move, so Dai'tsin stood there for another raik'or. When it still hadn't moved, he took a step towards the jetbike, and seeing it still hadn't moved, then took another. Now he was close enough to touch the jetbike, and reaching out his right hand held it above the jetbike.

'Wheew-wheew-wheew,' he whistled again softly, 'Good girl that's it, easy now...easy now...'

The jetbike drifted ever so slowly in his direction, so that it almost brushed his hand.

Dai'tsin decided that this time he'd let his hand touch the jetbike, and so he lowered his hand to touch the top of the bodywork. He could easily feel the steady vibration coming from its antigrav motor. So Dai'tsin ran his hand gently across its flank and then down along near the front; while he continually speaking softly, 'Easy now...that's a good girl. That's a good girl.'

The jetbike then lowered both sets of foot pegs, and slowly settled itself to the ground.

<<By the Path Vre'Dai'tsin be careful!>> came the voice of his commander El'Onu'oshi'shi across the comlink.

'Aye,' he replied throwing a leg over a seat and gently sitting down on the jetbike.

The jetbike rose gently up from the floor of the training dome, lowered its wings, and then sat there hovering.


*****



Author's Note: YouTube the songs listed above. PM me with your reactions.
Last edited by TauMan on Oct 11 2016 07:56, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Halloween Story - The Ghost Horse

Post#4 » Oct 10 2016 11:06

PART THREE: A WILD RIDE

There erupted another cacophony of sound from the C-in-C, but this time it was joyful shouting and hoof stomping. Smiling Dai'tsin leaned over and put both hands on the hand grips, and there immediately appeared in front of him a holographic display. At first he didn't know what he was looking at, as the letters of whatever script this was, ran in vertical in columns across the projection. He thought might have been some kind of alien writing, if it hadn't been for the signil of the Farsight Enclaves floating above the script. Dai'tsin stared at it hard trying to make out the letters, when of all of a sudden the letters dissolved, and a new script appeared in the standard left-to-right tau alphabet with the signil of the Tau Empire floating above it.

'SHAS'VESA VIOR'LOS TX-153-77654 OF THE 5TH BLUE QAZAKI SQUADRON, GOLDEN SABRE CADRE. WHAT IS YOUR CASTE AND CASTE RANK?' read the text on the projection.

'Well hullo to you too, TX-153-77654! I am Shas'Vre Vior'la Dai'tsin, of the Training and Evaluation Team of the Shas'Vior'la'ar'tol'

'ACKNOWLEDGING SHAS'VRE VIOR'LA DAI'TSIN...SHA'VRE IN ALL FUTURE COMMUNICATIONS PLEASE DO REFER TO THIS UNIT BY ITS SERIAL NUMBER TX-153-77654...PLEASE ADDRESS THIS UNIT AS D'TAI.'

'D'tai? Well D'tai it is then!'

'FURTUER INFORMATION IS REQUIRED BEFORE AUTHORIZATION FOR OPERATION OF THIS JETBIKE IS PERMITTED. WHAT IS YOUR STATUS VIS-À-VIS THE TAU EMPIRE?'

'What is my status vis-à-vis the Tau Empire?'

'Yes.'

'T'ach, D'tai I don't rightly understand the question?'

'Hee-yaah! WHAT HOOF DO YA TURN THE SPADE WITH LAD?'

There came from Dai'tsin an immediate and loud explosion of laughter, and sitting bolt upright he laughed even harder.

The C-in-C broke their silence, <<What's happening shas'vre? Why are you laughing?>>

'It...I mean the jetbike...No wait I'm still laughing...I mean D'tai...just asked me...D'tai just asked me “What hoof...what hoof...I turned...the spade with?”' he answered through fits of laughter. 'I never expected to hear that question from an A.I. life form!'

In the Command and Control Centre the whole Vior'lan delegation now burst out in quiet fit of laughter. Everyone turned towards them with inquiring looks.

'What does that question mean commander?' asked Project Team Leader Sai'run.

'Well, it's kind of a Vior'lan thing we do,' she said forcing back her own laughter. Then becoming serous she continued with, 'It's a way of asking what side you're on as concerns...well you know...as concerns Shas'O'Shova. “What hoof do you turn the spade?” means, "Do you think he's a hero or traitor?

'And so who is D'tai? Wait what kind of name is D'tai – Twin White any ways?'

'Fio'vre it's a contraction for D'tai'varuli – Two White Shanks, a common horse's name,' answered the Vior'lan commander.

'A horse's name?'

'Yes, like the name Bor'yebii – Brown Feet, or Tai'nek – White Trotter, and Dom'erri – Golden-brown coat,' interjected the Tash'var commander now standing next to the Vior'lan commander.

'So who's D'tai again?'

'A thick as a krootox that one!' whispered the Tash'var commander into the ear of her Vior'lan counter part.

'I believe Fio'vre that D'tai is probably the jetbike,' answered the Vior'lan commander smiling as she shook her head in agreement with her Tash'var counter part.


Meanwhile back in the training dome...


'SHAS'VRE DAI'TSIN YOU HAVEN'T AS YET AS ANSWERED MY QUESTION,' asked the jetbike.

'T'oh, you're right I haven't. Well, in my personal opinion Shas'O'Shova was, and still is, one of the greatest heroes of the Tau Empire.'

'THANK YOU FOR YOUR ANSWER SHAS'VRE,' and with that the jetbike's engine roared to life beginning its warm-up routine.

<<Shas'vre who is D'tai? Are you referring to the jetbike?>> asked the assistant Ru't'suam, <<Wait, did it just start its engine?>>

'Why yes fio'vre D'tai is her name.'

<<Her? Who are you talking about now? Is the “her” you're talking about also the jetbike?>>

'You're more than a wee bit dim aren't you?!' sighed Dai'tsin, 'Yes, D'tai is also the jetbike, and “it” is a “she”.'

<<T'oh.>>

'And in fact “she” did just start her engines. So pardon me now, but I think I'll to take this fine red pony for bit of a wee ride,' said Dai'tsin slipping on his goggles and then leaning down to get a steady hold of the hand grips.

<<T'ahhh...we are strongly advising against any attempt to ride the jetbike!>>

'Duly noted...' and with a gentle tap of his spurs on the jetbike's touchpads, shot across the training dome floor in a blur of high acceleration.



***



Tearing across the training dome floor Dai'tsin felt a thrill like the first time he jumped in a XV-8 Crisis Battlesuit from an AX-4 Dropship. An exhilaration so intense that he was giddy and laughed out loud in spite of himself. Tapping his left knee to the touchpad, the jetbike responded and made a wide turn to the left, and then tapping his right knee to the touchpad the bike made a wide turn to the right. Dai't'sin now made the jetbike travel in a wide zig-zag pattern, taking full advantage of the training dome's two tor'kan wide circumference. He straightened out their line of travel and then spurred D'tai again, and the jetbike accelerated even harder.

<<Shas'vre you're acceleration is close to the danger zone! You'll “black line” in another couple of raik'or and you won't be able to control the jetbike! You need to decelerate right now Vre'Dat'tsin!>>

'Tehee-tehee-tehee-tehee-tehee,' he giggled unable to make any other coherent sound.

<<DECELERATE NOW SHAS'VRE!>>

<<THE FIO'VRE IS CORRECT VRE'DAI'TSIN, YOU'RE NOT TRAINED TO OPERATE THIS UNIT AT HIGH SPEEDS,>> broadcast the jetbike across his comlink in a monotone artificial voice.

'Tehee-tehee-tehee...Wait how are you able to broadcast on my frequency? How did you...' exclaimed Dai'tsin as the jetbike engaged an energy field that smoothed out the air flow, and the ride suddenly became quieter. Next the seat automatically moved forward to cinch him into a tighter riding position; while the same time braces extended from the jetbike's body to clamp his legs in place.

<<THE ENCLAVES HAS LONG AGO BROKEN ALL OF THE TAU EMPIRES PASS CODES, CYPHERS AND FIREWALLS SHAS'VRE. BE THANKFUL THAT THIS UNIT HAS PREVIOUSLY HACKED INTO THE COOPERATIVE'S COMMUNICATION ARRAY, OTHERWISE YOU WOULD HAVE TO HEAR THEM YELL AT YOU.>>

'Nuni...Nuni D'tai! I think I am ready for a wild ride!'

<<ARE YA NOW MY BONNIE HORSE SINGER? WELL THEN PUSH FORWARD ON THE HAND GRIPS,>> came the melodic, but artificial female voice from his comlink.

'“Horse Singer?” That's not D'tai! Who's talking? ' shouted Dat'sin.

<<SHUT YOU'RE YACKING AND PUSH ON THE HAND GRIPS SHAS'VRE!>> said the artificial female voice.

And still confused as to who he was talking to, Dai'tsin did as he was told, and pushed on the hand grips. The jetbike now went into a sharp climb while beginning to accelerate.

Snae'ta now I'm it's passenger and not it's pilot,' he thought. The realization that Dai'tsin was not actually flying the jetbike hit him like a Grootox at a full charge. And the cold fear in his stomach now chilled his entire body. He hung on for his worth, wondering if he'd make it back to the ground alive, as his commander's words again filled his mind, “May your sacrifice not be in vain!

<<TAP YOUR LEFT KNEE AS YOU PULL BACK ON THE LEFT HAND GRIP, DO IT NOW!>> commanded the female voice.

Since the jetbike was heading straight for the training dome's curved wall, Dai'tsin did exactly that; and while tapping his left knee, pulled back on the left hand grip. Then grasping the hand grips, he hung on with all his might, expecting a fatal impact. But just at the last raik'an, the jetbike made a graceful wide turn that hugged the the curved wall. Slicing the air this close to the dome's wall, made Dai'tsin's “wild ride” to be much too much exciting even for him. Furthermore he had lost all sense of up or down, and the jetbike felt as if it was racing along a wide horizontal, but curved track. Then in a moment of crystalline clarity Dai'tsin realized he was just a passenger. The jetbike after all wasn't going to crash or spin out of control; because the third primary directive against self-harm for A.I. life forms prevented that. And so he forgot his fear, and let himself be filled with the wonder and awe of the moment.

Dai'tsin glanced down he saw that the jetbike rode no more than a tor'lek above the dome's curved wall. Glancing to the left he could see the vast expanse of the dome, with it's floor rising up like the wall of some vast canyon. Not knowing what else to do, Dai'tsin refocused his attention ahead, watching as the dome wall rapidly disappeared beneath the wings of the jetbike D'tai.

<<ENJOYINING THE RIDE SHAS'VRE?>> asked the melodic female voice now with a faint Vior'la brogue.

'Aye, I am D'tai...or whoever it is you are?'

<<T'SCHU! JUST FOR THAT HORSE SINGER, I'LL SHOW YOU JUST WHAT THIS LITTLE RED PONY CAN REALLY DO!>>

'Tee-ahh, me and my sharp tongue!' yelled Dai'tsin through gritted teethplates.

<<INITIATING AFTERBURNER ACCELERATION ON YOU COMMAND SHAS'VRE. BEGINNING COUNT DOWN: DAV...DOR...GUR...XUR...NEG...INITIATING AFTERBURNER,>> said the reappearing monotone artificial voice.

Dai'tsin was shoved backwards as an explosion of power as the jetbike hurled forward. Even with the energy field damping the sound of the engine, Dai'tsin could still hear it scream. Now he'd wished he had taken hearing protection as well as goggles. The turbulence was so intense, that the vibrations pounded through the jetbike's fuselage, nearly making him loose his grip. He was terrified at the thought of letting go with one hand and having an arm torn off, or of even being pulled off the jetbike altogether.

<<WARNING...WARNING...WARNING...GRAVITY INHIBITOR FIELD HAS BEEN ACTIVATED IN THE TRAINING DOME! SHA'VRE REQUESTING IMMEDIATE INITIATION OF DECELERATION. PLEASE RESPOND,>> said the monotone voice in a volume a notch higher than usual.

'Authorization for deceleration granted D'tai, just snae'ta do it!'

<<THAT WON'T DO HORSE SINGER! FIRST PULL BACK ON BOTH HAND GRIPS, THEN TAP YOUR LEFT KNEE, WHILE PUSHING FORWARD WITH THE RIGHT HAND. THIS GIVES THE COMMAND TO DECELERATE AND THEN THE COMMAND TO DESCEND TO THE GROUND LEVEL,>> said the jetbike now in the female voice.

'Snae'ta! As-you-command D'tai or whoever you are!' And so with his knuckles turning grey from the holding on so tight, he pulled back on the hand grips and the jetbike dropped its speed. Immediately Dia'tsin pushed on the right grip and tapped his left knee at the same time, and the jetbike banked, beginning a rapid circular descent to the training dome floor. Dia'tsin noticed for the first time that the air in the training dome was filled with drones: search and rescue drones, gun drones, technical repair drones, observation drones and some drones he couldn't even identify. When the jetbike slowed down enough that the energy field turned off and the leg braces released, while two gun drones came along side to fly in formation with him. Finally after a couple of raik'or Dai'tsin and the jetbike were down at the ground level.

Pulling up slowly to the paddock the jetbike made one more communication, <<PULL BACK ON THE HAND GRIPS, WHILE TAPPING BOTH HEELS ON THE REAR TOUCHPADS.>>

Without a thought Dai'tsin did as he was told, and the jetbike reared up like a wild stallion, hanging in the air at a seventy-five degree angle.

'HIYA-TE!' he shouted and pushed forward with both hands on the grips, and then the jetbike dropped its nose, folded its wings, and settled down to the ground.

<<GODD REACTION THERE HORSE SINGER, I'LL MAKE A QAZAK RIDER OUT OF YOU YET! GOOD-BYE SHAS'VRE DAI'TSIN.>>

'And good-bye to both of you D'tai...' he replied panting hard.



Dai'tsin stood and watched as the jetbike turned and glided over into the paddock and then slide into its docking stall. And just as the paddock's pale green energy field came on, the closest armoured door flew open and there entered Shas'El Onu'oshi'shi and the entire Vior'lan delegation, followed by the staff of the Project led by the Director, the Project Team Leader and all of her staff. Behind them followed the rest of the Tash'var and Bork'an fire caste delegations. The Viorl'an commander strode up to Dai'tsin and stood face-to-face with him.

'WHAT...WE'RE...YOU...DOING?!' said Shas'El Qim'ka'shi grinding her teethplates with both of her fists balled up. 'You ignored requests...to stop...refused orders not accelerate...then...stopped transmitting altogether! And then...after your...ride...you made a triumphant adolescent display...' She took a step a back, and setting her right leg behind her, readied herself for action.

'My sister Qim'ka'shi, you have every right to be angry, but kicking him in the head won't break him of bad habits, his head is too thick for that! Besides we're in public and there are members of other septs here. There are even... there are even fio'fann present!' said Shas'El Onu'oshi'shi quietly taking the Vior'lan commander by the arm, while placing her other hand atop the commander's right knee.

'Nuni't'qy sister,' she replied with eyes blazing a fiery red, but then she brought up her hind leg and relaxed.

'Contained?'

'Contained.'

The Tash'var commander now released the Vior'lan commander and turned to Dia'tsin.

'Shas'Vre Dai'tsin,' she asked.

'Yes ma'am.'

'YOU KISUNE'SHAS SNAE'TA IDIOT!' she shouted and continued to yell as she walked around Dai'tsin a tight circle. 'You ignored all prior safety precautions. You disobeyed the Director of the Cooperative, the Project Team Leader, and your Commander! When you were you told not to go beyond the recommended speed limit...you ignored that too! You even stopped communicating, refusing acknowledge the C-and-C. Then when you finished up by rearing up the jetbike...like it was horse show! WHAT THE SNAE'TA IS WRONG WITH YOU!'

She stopped and stared Dai'tsin with lightening dancing across her onyx black eyes. Dia'tsin first looked at her hooves and then into the electrical storm that was staring at him.

'Shas'el I did initially accelerate the jetbike to unsafe levels and for that I apologize. Standing the jetbike up on its tail however was an accident. I hit the wrong combination of touchpads and handgrips. However breaking off communications was not my doing...the jetbike cut off my link to the C-and-C.'

'The jetbike did what?'

'Apparently the jetbike has hacked the Design Cooperative's communication network.'

'T'eh?' replied the Tash'var commander taking a step back.

Dai'tsin turned, and bowing to the Director of the Design Cooperative and said, 'Fio'El Vi'ghal the jetbike D'tai claims the Enclaves have long ago broken our codes, cyphers and alike. She was the one who cut off communications with the Command-and-Control Centre. And therefore I recommend that you review your security measures.'

Now with a lull in the yelling, the Bork'an commander took his chance to step up to Dai'tsin. After looking over his shoulders at both the Vior'lan and Tash'var commanders he said, 'Xhmm I thought I'd be joining in the chorus of congratulations, but instead I appear to be the first! By the Path, congratulation on your achievement V're'Dai'tsin! Can't hardly believe the jetbike let you take a seat, much less let you take it out for a ride!' Turning back to the assemblage of delegations he shouted, 'A shot of tookai liquor for everyone to toast this new hero of Vior'la, Shas'Vre Dai'tsin!'

Now the Director of the Bork'an Advanced Design Cooperative O'Vi'ghal came forward, along with the entire Advanced A.I. Jetbike Project Team, and all of them bowed in unison. Standing up the fio'o said, 'Amazing Sha'vre. There are no words to describe it!' After accepting Dai'tsin bow of acknowledgement, he stepped close to the firewarrior saying, 'Your success bodes well for the project, but I'd like to speak later about your further participation.'

A Bork'an service drone now began pouring tiny bowls of dark green liquor to the delegations. Members of all the delegations took the opportunity to partake of the flavourful liquor. Some in the Vior'lan and Bork'an delegations even had seconds and thirds. Meanwhile Shas'El Onu'oshi'shi stood staring at Dai'tsin with her cheeks shining darkly. She came forward and putting a hand on the back of his neck, touched foreheads with him and then let go. Taking a moment to look Dai'tsin in the eye again, she placed a hand over his heart saying, 'I am proud of you Shas'vre Dai'tsin my anda'ta'lissera.'

'Nuni, my Shas'el and my anda'ta'lissera.'

But then without warning she grabbed his face in both hands, and heedless of the others around them, gave him a long and loving bite on the cheek.

'T'ach, those volatile Vior'lans! Flaunting propriety with vulgar displays of affection,' grunted the Project Team Leader Sai'run.

'Xissh you!' shushed Ru't'suam as he kicked her in the back of the hooves.


***


The inquiry into the incident with the Enclave Jetbike TX-153-77654 was held immediately. At the two dec meeting testimony was taken from all those present including Dai'tsin. When he was asked why he thought it was possible to approach the jetbike “as an animal” Dai'tsin stated,

'Everything pointed to the A.I. jetbike being programmed to respond as an animal, specifically a rat'laa – horse. Not being a member of the Enclave fire caste I don't know why they would want to do this. I can only speculate that their riders are all trained horsemen, and therefore might find it easier to relate to a jetbike as if it were a rat'laa. But that is only speculation on my part. I previously noticed that the Project Team had made they considerable effort to create an “artificial environment” for the jetbikes: the sky scape, paddock, and stalls etcetera; so it seemed to me that they were already approaching the surviving jetbike as if it were some kind of animal. I therefore decided to try and approach the jetbike as if were a rat'laa, whistling, speaking softly, and at one point singing.'

At the conclusion of the inquiry it was concluded that given the unusual circumstances, Shas'Vre Vior'la Dai'tsin's actions were an responsible and acceptable, although unorthodox and contrary to both fire caste military protocols, and accepted earth caste safety procedures. So in the light of the break-through achievement of Shas'Vre Dai'tsin in both making safe contact with, and the operation of the Enclave Jetbike TX-153-77654; it was decided that no disciplinary action be taken.

Afterwards the Director stood up and thanked all of the participants for their input and cooperation; but then added, 'This project started over thirty tau'cyr ago when then Por'Vre Kruu'kais delivered the two Enclave jetbikes to our Design Cooperative; and in all those tau'cyr we never made as much progress in communicating with the jetbike, as did Shas'Vre Dai'tsin in just a dec-and-a-half! The Bork'an Advanced Design Cooperative is therefore asking that, because of his unique rapport with the Enclave jetbike, that Shas'Vre Dai'tsin to be allowed to stay and participate in the project.'

The Director paused and looked back at the Project Team Leader and then again to the room adding, 'Specifically we ask if he undergo voluntarily surgery to have his original cerebral implants replaced by the latest and most advanced cerebral implants. In fact the most advance cerebral implant so far developed by the Bork'an earth caste. It is hoped that as test pilot equipped with these advance implants, you might help us develop an equivalent advanced interface to that used by the Enclaves. This is a great opportunity to advance our knowledge of the Enclave technology, but to also develop a new weapon system for the Empire, and further serve the Tau'va. Thanks to all for considering our proposal.'


Across the round table Dai'tsin watched as the Director sat down, but also watched from the corner of his eye, the reaction of his commander Shas'El Oshi'onu'shi. The commander's face showed no emotion and therefore no hint of her feelings on the matter. Though Dai'tsin could recognized, from the many tau'cyr he spent with her as her battle brother and lover, the long shadow of sorrow in her eyes. He knew just how deeply she felt for him, and how troubled she must be by fio'fann's the proposal. But as with all fire caste, duty to the Tau'va had primacy, and so he also knew she was considering the request. He now watched as she answered the Fio'o, only to then turned and look at him, as if she were never to see him again.

'And your answer Shas'vre?'

'T'eh, answer?' Dai'tsin looked over at the Design Cooperative members in their seats and then back to his commander.

'I gave my permission to your staying and working on the project. What do say Shas'vre Dai'tsin?'

'A-a-are you sure?' He leaned in close to whisper, 'Li'yowla why dae ye say “aye” when ye want to say “nae”?' asked Dai'tsin using her given name.

'Because Vi'gala,' she answered using his given name. 'Because it seems tha' ye were meant to be here, and because so far saying “aye,” has been the right decision. Besides ye already said “aye” the moment ye sat down on that jetbike.' She sat back and asked out loud, 'I am correct then in thinking that Shas'Vre Dai'tsin that you want to stay and help with the program?'

'Yes, Shas'El Onu'oshi'shi that would be correct. I would like to stay here and help with the program.'

'Thank you Shas'El Onu'oshi'shi, the Council of Auns on Bork'an shall know of your contribution to the project and to inter-sept cooperation. You should be very proud of your Shas'vre and his effort on behalf of the Tau'va,' said the Director getting up and bowing.

'Fio'O Vi'gahl, I most certainly am...' answered the commander getting up to bow to the Director with a sadness so deep in her voice, that no one in the room could miss her true feelings.


*****
Last edited by TauMan on Nov 11 2016 01:23, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Halloween Story - The Ghost Horse

Post#5 » Oct 11 2016 04:19

PART FOUR: TWIN MINDS, TWIN SOULS

The next morning Dai'tsin was back at Training Dome 23 for his first rotaa as a member of the A.I. Jetbike Project Team. He stepped off the mag-lev train and immediately stumbled on perfectly smooth and object free ground. 'Kisune'shas, I'm hung over!' he thought to himself hoping that no one saw him. Straightening himself he pretended to look at his feet as if there was something stuck in his hooves. No need to worry about embarrassing himself though, since there wasn't anyone outside the dome anyway. Then he remembered the surveillance holocams and cursed that he was being recorded for anyone to view later.

Last night had been rough, what with all the beer he had been expected to consume. The Bork'an team after all had taken him out to celebrate, which was naturally to be expected; but who knew Bork'ans loved their beer so much? Or that they consumed so much of it at one go? First they took him to a traditional beer establishment called a H'shon'airag, or Garden of Beer. The establishment's traditional dom'airag or golden-brown beer came directly from huge eighty lat'kon barrels; which was served in large steins, each one containing a full lat'kon of beer! That in itself was a mind warping experience, but then the beer wasn't brought to the tables by drones. Instead it was brought by the traditional neyo't'airag or Beer Maidens. These hefty earth caste women would sometimes carried twenty or more steins at time, and they didn't spill a drop on either the floor or the patrons. When the drinking began in earnest, the Bork'an tau started in with the traditional drinking songs. Sung loudly, even after they could no longer form intelligible words. All of which were accompanied by much hoof stomping and cries of “Iha-iha-iha-oh!” or “Chok! Chok! Chok!” ̶ “Drink! Drink! Drink!

But the worst thing was when they started yodeling.

Lucky for Dai'tsin when the yodelling started, he slid beneath the table. His last memory before loosing consciousness was of the shas'el from the Bork'an delegation leaning over to offer him yet another stein of beer.


When Dai'tsin arrived at the Command and Control Centre, he found Fio'Vre Ru't'suam waiting for him in a highly agitated state. And running up to Dai'tsin he shouted, 'Shas'vre Dai'tsin! Shas'vre Dai'tsin! The jetbike communicated to us today for the first time ever!'

'Communicated? What did the D'tai...I mean the jetbike say?' asked Dai'tsin, knowing full well that Vre'Ru't'suam was still vertical and drinking, when he himself had disappeared beneath the table.

'It...she...asked for a Veterinarian and a Farrier!' answered Ru't'suam speaking much too loudly.

Dai'tsin, who was still shaky on his hooves, saw that the earth caste man wore an imbecilic grin on his face. He was wondering if the assistant was hungover too, when realized that the man was in a state of high ecstasy. So speaking slowly he asked, 'And-what-does-that-mean-Fio'vre?'

'I-I-I ha-have no idea! But it's exciting isn't it?'

'Well, my guess is that maybe...asking for a 'Veterinarian' might be asking for a...Service and Repair Technician...or some one of that sort?'

'Yes! Yes! And maybe a Farrier might be an...an Avionics Technician?! Do you think so Shas'vre?'

'Well it could be Fio'vre,' answered Dai'tsin nervously, but then he saw a small Health Monitoring drone hovering over Ru't'suam's left shoulder and so relaxed a bit. 'Let's go and ask...D'tai...then shall we?'

'Yes of course let's go and ask her! T'oh, and she's been asking for you several times this morning. Will you sing to her again?'

'If she asks for me to Fio'vre...if she asks me to,' replied Dai'tsin clucking his tongue inside his mouth several times, wondering when the alcohol was going to wear off.

When Dai'tsin spoke to the Enclave jetbike via the comlink, it turned out that she was indeed requesting a Service and Repair Technician when she asked for a Veterinarian; and her request for a Farrier was indeed a request for an Avionics Technician. With Dai'tsin's help the Enclave jetbike choose two technicians from twenty or so presented to her. But first Dai'tsin was required to formally give her a morning greeting, with lots of compliments like 'My what a handsome red pony!,' or 'Aren't you a pretty girl?'; but it also required, as Ru't'suam had guessed, for Dai'tsin to sing her a song. So after Dai'tsin had greeted her appropriately and had sung a song, only then did she agree to “interview” the technicians.

The interviews consisted of bringing in one technician after another, and having each one of them stand in front of the jetbike, while she asked them a few questions. This was a harrowing experience to say the least, given the jetbike's reputation as a murderer of earth caste technicians. And not a few simply refused to go anywhere near the jetbike. Those who were brave enough to enter the paddock with Dai'tsin, had to stand just a tor'lek away from the jetbike. She first asked them a few questions, and then had each of them turn around slowly so she could look at them; after which they were required to sing a song or two. After interviewing all of the technicians and downloading their credentials, D'tai made her decision. She chose a male “Veterinarian” who enjoyed singing Bork'an drinking songs, and a female “Farrier” well versed in the latest B-Pop hits, or Bork'an Pop music.

The since since her maintenance schedule was so out of date, nothing but a complete overhaul was required or so D'tai had reckoned. This meant of course the addition of several service drones; which of course she duly rejected. Dai'tsin and Ru't'suam both realized that she would allow only Enclave Service drones to get anywhere near her. It was the Project Team Leader Sai'run who eventually solved their dilemma. Several recovered Enclave combat service drones were brought out of storage, their power packs charged, and their A.I. units activated. The odd assortment of drones were mostly designed for use in the field, and they were meant for everything from repairing Crisis Battlesuits, to assisting in tank recovery. However the jetbike D'tai was delighted at their arrival. So delighted was she that when saw them enter the training dome, she fired up her engines and flew around in circles in the paddock area.

'She can operate...I mean fly...all by herself?' exclaimed Dai'tsin staring at the spectacle.

'Why of course Shas'vre!'

'T'oh, of course,' he replied realizing that his mind was still under the influence, and so he wasn't thinking straight. After all, how could he forget that just yesterday the jetbike had essentially flown all by itself, telling him what to do to make it perform.

'It use to be that both jetbikes would make regular daily jaunts around the training dome. When we had two of them they'd sometimes...xhmm...how would I describe it? The two of them would...cavort? play? gambol? all about the training dome. Sometimes they'd race each other at high speeds, and other times they'd even chase each other,' said Sai'run.

'When the did the last jetbike...wait, a technician yesterday told me that the jetbike wasn't “active today”. Is that what he meant? That the jetbike wasn't taking itself out for a little flying?'

'Yes, but the jetbike D'tai hasn't been active very much for the better part of two tau'cyr. Not since the other jetbike...well not since it...self-destructed.'

'I want to ask you about the other jetbike in raki'or, but getting back to D'tai. So she's been“Weeping like the Twin Moon Maidens,” since her friend died?'

'I wouldn't go that far Shas'vre...'

Sai'run stopped in mid-sentence and looking over at Dai'tsin said, 'Well maybe it's not overstating things to subscribe such emotions to the jetbike? Maybe...maybe the Enclaves artificial intelligence units are more advanced in their sentience their than anything we knew about before?'

'Really Fio'vre? It's not like a sentient artificial life form to jump up excitedly when it sees an old friends, or mope about after losing another close friend? Not even a sentient Hololith life form reacts like that?'

'So what are you saying Vre'Dai'tsin?'

'I'm sorry Vre'Sai'run...I don't really know what I'm saying,' he replied nodding his head.

Dai'tsin stopped and looked at the service drones disassembling the jetbike, at speeds no tau technician could ever hope to match. Watching them work he asked, 'Is it possible to give an A.I. life form more than one personality? Or perhaps contain more than one artificial “mind” in a single A.I. unit?'

'No, not at this time...but we can program any A.I. unit to mimic any emotion or emotional reaction you want. I mean think of theatrical androids used in holographic cinema? They can cry, laugh and show anger, but it's only programming...'

'No, I'm not talking about that,' he said but then paused for an overly long time, 'Sorry, but I think I'm little...fuzzy this morning. I mean can an A.I. unit have multiple personalities? Can separate distinct personalities exist...exist in a single A.I. unit?'

'I don't know Vre'Dai'tsin? A.I. life form design and construction is my field of expertise; but that's far beyond what I am know what we are capable of. It might be possible for Hololiths to contain more than one personality, but it's beyond my knowledge base to answer that question. Why are you asking about this?'

'Yesterday, D'tai displayed and transmitted messages that were in two distinct voices. One was in a typical structured A.I. speech pattern with the jetbike referring to itself as “This unit”; but the other was totally different. That voice referred to itself as “I” and spoke in colloquial tau'sia! When it asked me about what I thought of Shas'O'Shova it said to me, “Hee-yahh, what hoof do you turn spade with lad?” What A.I. life form speaks like that? And you won't believe this, but there were a few times when D'tai was transmitting, when I could swear she was speaking with a Vior'lan brogue.'

Sai'run turned her head and looked at Dai'tsin sideways, 'Shas'vre we can program any A.I. to use colloquial speech pattern, and speak in any sept or caste dialect you like for that matter. We can even program it to switch back and forth between structured A.I. speech and colloquial speech.'

'And what about a sense of humour? Can you program that?'

'We can program it to mimic humour, by the use of caste, gender, and region specific algorithms. I can program an A.I. so well that you'd swear you're talking to a living, breathing tau.'

'Alright, but why would the A.I. unit in an Enclave jetbike be programmed to switch speech patterns? Why would they have installed a humour algorithm?'

'I agree that makes no logical sense, even for the Enclaves; but then putting blades on the jetbike's wings makes no sense either. Shas'vre just because an A.I. appears to change dialects, or to have a sense of humour, doesn't mean it has more than one personality in the unit.'

'Well then consider this then, did you know that I wasn't flying the jetbike when it engaged its afterburner? Did you know the jetbike was instructing me on how to operate it? Told me what controls to use to make climb, bank and accelerate. And the whole time I was traveling at high speed, the “voice” I heard over my comlink was that same female Vior'lan voice. How is it possible for the A.I. unit be both flying the jetbike, while at the same instructing me on the jetbike's operation?'

'Shas'vre-were-you-sitting-in-the-pilot's-seat?'

'Yes!'

'Then you just answered your own question.'

'Hiay-te...' he said nodding his head “no”.

'How does the A.I. unit work on a XV-08 Crisis Battlesuit?”

'Protocols for a XV-08 allow it operate by itself within a set of limited parameters...but when a firewarrior enters the pilot's seat, he or she is control...'

...'And the XV-08's A.I. unit can't move unless commanded by it's pilot, but if the pilot is injured or incapacitated the A.I. can instruct the...'

'...Pilot, while still operating the battlesuit itself.'

'Shas'vre, was last night your first time to a H'shon'airag? And how much traditional dom'airag did you drink last night?'

'Kisune'shas Fio'vre! Ever drank single malt Vior'lan vi'ky'husa? Did you ever drink an entire lat'on and see how mentally sharp ye are the next rotaa!'

'Shas'vre so you're a light weight when it comes to drinking, so if what if you're still a little snockered'

'Never you mind how much I drank last night...I don't think it was just an algorithm that instructed me on how to fly that jetbike, or tricked me into standing that jetbike up on its tail! D'tai or whoever it was, told me what to do that and being naive I did it. Then I after put the jetbike down on the ground she or it said, “Horse Singer, I'll make you a Qazak rider out of you yet!”'

'What's a Qazak?' asked Ru't'suam holding a box lunch.



****




Dai'tsin and Sai'rum turned to see Ru't'suam pulling box lunches from a Happy T'au Sushi delivery drone. He handed one to Sai'run and then one to Dai'tsin saying, “I ordered several boxes with the house speciality: T'au Rainbow roll and fresh Tutu Fish roll combination. And I didn't forget about you Shas'vre! I ordered you the breaded meat cutlets with the hot blue vegetable curry over golden rice...'

'Real ron'nim'me'la meat I hope?' asked Dai'tsin

'Just because it not the season for Tau'kon'seh, that doesn't mean we can't order a little clone beast meat for our newest team member!'

'Nuni'qy Fio'vre!'

'So what's a Qazak,' asked Ru't'suam walking over to the standing conference table. Sai'run and Dai'tsin followed him over to table and opened their box lunches.

'The Qazaki were just one of the many ancient nomadic tribes of the T'au steppes. They were in the south-west region of the eastern continent, and they held out the longest against submitting to the Tau'va,' answered Dai'tsin snapping his quick sticks apart and digging into his breaded meat cutlet and blue curry.

'Vre'Ru't'suam, the Shas'vre here thinks the jetbike has two souls,' said Sai'run to her assistant.

'Two souls? Do you believe in an afterlife too Shas'vre?' asked Ru't'suam.

'T'ach, I didn't say the jetbike has two souls. I said I think it has two separate personalities. Not souls!'

'Forgive me Vre'Dai'tsin but what's the difference? The ancients believed that one's personality or mind was their soul. So if I follow your logic, what other soul haunts the jetbike's A.I. unit?' asked Sai'run looking at him over a piece of rainbow roll held in her quick sticks.

'Speaking of A.I. units, Project Team Leader Vre'Sai'run and Test Pilot Vre'Dai'tsin I have an announcement to make! As the leader of the Interface Development Team, I believe we can now fully explain just how that Enclave interface works,' said Ru't'suam starting to dipping his slice of tutu roll into a dark and tart tasting fish sauce.

'Well let us hear it the Fio'vre!' answered Sai'run.

'We were correct in our assumption that an Enclave cybernetic implants connects a firewarrior to his jetbike much like a drone controller. However the connection turns out to be much deeper than that, because along with the firewarrior's cybernetic implants is the jetbike's advanced artificial intelligence. The connection between these two would appear to allow the firewarrior and the jetbike to share data. And to share data right down to the neurological level, all the way down maybe to the level of synaptic connections! Alright so what does this mean? It means in effect that the Enclave interface would create a “linked consciousness” between the firewarrior and the jetbike. Their two minds would work in tandem, effectively becoming one mind. You see? Two minds operating as one!'

'T'ahh...so two minds, or two souls could therefore inhabit one entity?' asked Dai'tsin staring back at Sai'run over a piece of his meat cutlet.

'Xhmm, two minds inhabiting one entity? No I would think it would be more like, one mind inhabiting two entities – the A.I. unit and the firewarrior. The single unified mind being shared by both the jetbike and the rider.'

'T'ach...' mumbled Dai'tsin in frustration.

Sai'run the Project Team leader gave Dai'tsin a smug look from behind her cup of hot red tisan.


The three of them ate in silence for a few raik'or when Ru't'suam looked over at Dai'tsin.


'Excuse me Shas'vre when we were talking about two minds a moment ago. Did you mean would there still be connection even after A.I. unit was separated from the firewarrior? Because, certainly while there was a connection, the link would be active; but once disconnected, the linked consciousness would be severed. So are you worried about some residual linkage, or spill over of consciousness, between the biological and artificial intelligences?'

'Yes that's it exactly! Residual consciousness residing within the A.I. unit,' replied Dai'tsin smirking at the Project Team Leader from behind his own cup of tisan.

'T'oh I thought you meant a residual consciousness residing in the firewarrior's cerebral implants,' said Ru't'suam.

'T'ah, I hadn't thought of that one, but yes that too!' said Dai'tsin wiping blue curry from his face.

'Pftt! Not a concern we need to worry about,' said the Project Team Leader taking a drink of her red tisan.

'Yes Fio'Vre Sai'run I completely agree. We are long way from attempting any kind of linked consciousness. Even with Shas'Vre Dai'tsin getting the latest cerebral implants, our jetbikes still don't have advanced enough artificial intelligence to try anything like that, not for quite a while anyway,' said Ru't'suam picking up another piece of rainbow roll and swirling it around in a paste like blue condiment.

'But if we could create the linked consciousness, think of what it might mean? A rider of jetbike with this kind of linked consciousness would see what the jetbike sees, and react the same way as the jetbike does. A firewarrior would have mental reaction times that were...well...near the speed of light, just like any other A.I. life form does. This would make flying a jetbike at near supersonic speeds and almost effortless...' and with that he popped the piece of rainbow roll into his mouth.

'Xmmm, good rainbow....TEE'AHH THAT'S HOT!' yelled Ru't'suam choking on his rainbow roll.

'Spit it out brother spit it out!' said Dai'tsin slapping him on his back.

'Hiya-te Ru't'suam what were you thinking?' asked Sai'run reading the order on her dataslate. 'You got the hot and spicy blue Vior'lan horseradish!'

'*Cough*...*hack*...*cough*...I...got...it...for...*cough*...the Shas'vre...*hack*...'

Dai'tsin looked down at the small dab of blue horseradish and dipping his finger in it tried a little. 'T'ahh, that's the good stuff! Nuni Fio'Vre for ordering the authentic Vior'lan blue horseradish, now I'd wish I'd ordered the tutu roll so I could've had some.'

'Here have one of mine,' said Sai'run placing a rainbow roll in his box lunch.

'Nuni Vre'Sai'run,' he answered taking the piece of sushi and with a large dollop on blue horseradish, put it into his mouth making a happy 'xmmm' sound.

'Shas'vre...do you like your women like...the way you like your blue horseradish...hot and spicy t'eh?' said Ru't'suam his face still flushed a deep blue.

'T'ach, I wish my Vior'lan woman were a wee less spicy,' said Dai'tsin his face dropping.


*****
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Re: Halloween Story - The Ghost Horse

Post#6 » Oct 12 2016 09:53

PART FIVE: AN EVENING RIDE (The PG-13 Version)

Dai'tsin stepped out of the traditional beake wood bathtub, and taking a large traditional sam'pu towel dried himself off. Looking out the wall sized window of the communal bathroom he could see the snow covered peaks of the mountains were now fiery orange. The reflected light of Bork'an's setting star bathing the entire room with its furnace like glow. Dai'tsin was looking forward to doing a cleansing meditation from the Shas'len'ra, to refocus himself after the events of the past two rotaa. 'Aye two very, very long rotaa they were indeed,' thought Dai'tsin.

Now wrapping the sam'pu around him in the robe like manner, he exited the communal bath, and walked slowly to his room. He tapped the entrance controls and stepped through the clear sliding door.

'Enjoy your bath?' asked Shas'El'Onu'oshi'shi.

Dai'tsin stopped and stared at the dark silhouette of his commander framed by the brilliant orange light.

'Wha' wrong Vi'gala? This is mah room. Weel it's yer room too, but ya were pished last night. So Ah slept elsewere,' she said slipping into Vior'lan dialect.

'T'ahh...Ah kent 'at,' he sighed slipping into Viro'lan brogue.

'Ya did, did ya?' she said bowing her head to the Porter drone, as it set down her luggage and then slid out the door past Dai'tsin.

'Would ye like to meditate wit me? I'm doin' wan from Cautious Warrior,' he said pointing at meditation rug in front of the wall sized window.

'Nay nay there ye idjit drone, the knickers gang in the top drawer!' said the commander to the room's tiny Attendant drone putting away her clothes.

'Ye ought nay speak to the kor'vesa like t'at.'

'W-w-wha?' she stammered and turned to Dai'tsin with eyes that flashed with golden-red light from the fiery peaks.

'Ah speak the anyway Ah want to Vi'gala. Canna ye nay see Ah'm agitated?!'

'Well meditation would be good fer ye than Li'yowla...'

'Meditation?! Meditation?! AH WANT YE TO TAKE MAH CLOTHES OFF!'

'Its..its...*cough*...only been a rotaa-and-a-half...' answered Dai'tsi shifting from hoof to the other; but then seeing the fiery gleam in her eyes, 'Alrecht than...ma'am.'

'Dinna-ye-ma'am-mae-fayerwarrior!' she said but then took the sam'pu in both hands and yanked it off his body. Not waiting for him to remove her uniform, she then threw herself on top of him. The thick traditional woven uur mattress making a loud 'WHOOMPF' sound, as their bodies hit the traditional ru'das bed that lay on the floor.

The Attendant drone finished putting away the commander's clothing, personal items and empty kit bag; only to then have to dodge flying pieces of clothing. As tribute to the ingenuity and design sense of the Bork'an earth caste, the Attendant drone now bobbed and weaved among the bits of flying clothing, deftly snatching knickers and other garments out of the air. After catching the garments, it either folded and stowed the clean ones, or deposited the soiled ones in the clothes hamper. Once there was a cessation in the barrage of clothing, the Attendant drone then turned to observe the couple lying on the traditional ru'das bed. It made the following notation in its data file: 'Copulation in progress'. The drone then moved over to the far wall and slid into its docking station, closing the panel door behind it. However, before going on stand-by, the drone performed one last task. Outside on the door's identifier panel the drone changed the status icon. Now anyone walking by would have seen the icon showing what looked like a colourful bouquet of flowers; but it was in fact a traditional pair of woman's togue'zebii or bower booties, the universal tau symbol for 'Do Not Disturb' or 'Privacy Please'.



§§§§§



It was well past sunset and the trail of stars in the T'ten'grii'koreth galaxy shown down through the window of Dai'tsin's room. The fire on the mountains had long ago been extinguished, and their presence was marked only by their vast black silhouette. The room was lit only by the starlight, but being tau, Dai'tsin didn't need much illumination to see his lover's face.

Li'yowla was lay still in his arms, and though they had finished half a dec ago, her face was still flushed from love making. He watched her gently breath, smelling the sweetness of her breath, while still savouring the taste of her skin on his tongue. Stroking her hair while taking in it's sweaty musky scent he swooned. So putting his mouth next to her skin, he exhaled his hot breath down her cheek and all along her neck. She smiled and murmured softly, not saying anything, but relaxing further into the mattress.

'Xhmm...dinna...we have somewhere to be this evenin'?' he asked softly still blowing on her neck.

She turned her head and through half-closed eyes looked at him and saying, 'Aye. The rest of the team wants to take us out to celebrate, but...' and then gently stretching, '...But without the Bork'an delegation this time.'

'Alrecht...where are we goin'?' he asked now giving her neck its eightieth oonselt - tau kiss for the night.

'Wait...Ah hae to tell ye somethin',' she sat up, but then threw her arms around him and held onto him tightly. 'T'ah, it makes mae feel so sad when yer nay longer inside mae.'

'Ye always say ta't,' he said holding her in his arms.

'Ah nay say it every teem!'

'Aye, ye do lass.'

'So alrecht,' she then said letting go and stretching, 'Ah have to tell ye the Tash'var commander Shas'El Qim'ka'shi has asked to be on yer queue list.'

'What a nice compliment t'eh?' he replied.

'No, no Vi'gala, I told her “aye”,' said Li'yowla getting up.

'Of course, of course...And t'at were a nice way of thankin' her,' he said getting up himself.

'T'ach ye duderheid!' shouted Li'yowla turning around and pointing a little finger at him. 'Ah told her “double-aye”!'

'Double-aye? Y-y-ye mean ye gave 'er permission to bed me?! Ah nay had a lass of mine do ta't since Ah was at the academy!' he said staring fiercely at her.

'Hee-yahh, don't ye be given' me t'at look Vi'gala! Ah knae ye, and if ye dare tell her "nay", Ah'll put a hoof upside yer heid!' she yelled and headed for the room's personal lavatory.

He stood there for a moment stunned, but catching himself, dashed off after her.

'Wait yesterday yer just about kicked her in the heid fer talkin' to me. Now yer given' me to her?' he shouted pursuing into the lavatory.

Spinning around on her hooves the Vior'lan commander shoved a fist in his chest, and pushing him back out of the toilet. 'Listen Vi'gala I gave mae word, so ye don't go and dishonour me by turnin' her down! Ye deserve her after all, besides she's only here fer a couple more rotaa anyway!'

Then suddenly becoming quiet Li'yowla looked at him at him, and laying her head on his neck said, ' Vi'gala it's a great honour to share a bed of such a renown fire caste commander as El'Qim'ka'shi. And like Ah said, she's leavin' Bork'an soon, while our delegation will be here fer another kai'rotaa or more. So how could Ah deny ye the honour of sharin' the bed of such a high-rankin' fire caste woman? One who after all asked so properly and politely. Besides Yekia and Ah are practically ta'lissera sisters now anyway, and ye sleepin' wit her would just make it more so.'

'Who's Yekia?'

'Shas'El'Tash'var Qim'ka'shi.'

'T'oh, I take it ta'ts her given name than?'

'Aye. But Vi'gala it's a matter of honour now. Once it's given, Ah nay take back mae word. Just knae t'at she were as shocked as ye were when Ah said 'aye'.

Li'yowla pulled back far and the two of them looked into each others eyes.

'No one who serves the Tau'va knows the day of their demise, livin' as we do on the razor's edge. For we in the shas'fann are but a single spark of flame within a greater flame. But that flame is nay wholly are own, and when it is asked of us to gave it up, we must do so. Each flame of our is so short lived Vi'gala, that ye must share it with all t'at ye can each and every raik'an. And Ah give mae piece of yer flame freely to her, as one sister to another. So now ta't Ah've done so, nay ye deny her yer flame now Vi'gala!'

'Xhmm...alrecht,' said Dai'ts'in looking at her was more confused than anything else; but then looking into her eyes, he saw something that made his stomach go cold. He saw fear, the one emotion she never allowed herself to show in public. And not knowing what was it about, he put his both hands to his head and looked down at the floor. Trying to avoid her eyes he looked up to the ceiling, but finally he looked back at Li'yowla.

The fear was still there.

'Whew...well...alright then,' he said letting out a sigh. 'T'eh...so...were are we goin' to ate than?'

'“Happy T'au Sushi”, can ye believe it Vi'gala, they actually have Happy Ta'you here on Bork'an?' said Li'yowla returning to the lavatory.

'Ah just had Happy T'au Sushi fer lunch...'

'What?' she asked from behind the closed door.

'Nothing. Just why travel light tau'cyrs across the Empire, only to go and eat at a restaurant that I can eat at anytime back on Vior'la? I mean there was even wan on the starship we came in on?'

'Stop being such a tulgaa't'luss and go take a shower!'

'Alrecht...alrecht....alrecht....' he answered, and picking up a fresh sam'pu headed out the door, making for the communal bathroom and the sonic showers.


*****
Last edited by TauMan on Nov 11 2016 01:38, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Halloween Story - The Ghost Horse

Post#7 » Oct 14 2016 10:19

PART SIX: TEST PILOT

The next rotaa turned out to be Dai'tsin's first real day of work on the project. The early morning was spent in an overview briefing of the project, its history and direction. He learned that it was to be a couple of rotexi before the new cerebral implants would arrive from another design cooperative. And that in the meantime, there would be daily test flights of the prototype TX-145 jetbikes. Testing would include everything from flight characteristics of newly installed Enclave touchpads, something Fio'Vre Ru'ts'suam insisted on; to testing the jetbike's A.I. with a drone controller equipped pilot. The rest of the morning was spent flying the TX-145s at the proving grounds of Training Dome 22.

The bright chromium blue jetbikes being quite nimble and responsive in their handling were awfully fun to fly. And they were quick off the mark too, showing incredible acceleration; however Dai'tsin was never allowed to fly them at top speed, due to the speed restrictions for testing. All in all they were a fine riding ponies, but were nothing like the thoroughbred racehorse he flew two rotaa before.

And it would have been more enjoyable had it not been for his fellow Bork'an earth caste test pilots.

At first Dai'tsin was happy to meet a group of tau, who like himself had flown a jetbike, but they turned out to be serious and sombre lot. He never saw them crack a smile, or frown, or even make an angry face for that matter. These technicians-turned-pilots were mostly concerned with the test data. Obsessing over engine thrust output, precise angle of pitch and roll, power-to-weight ratios, and a multitude of the other engineering minutia. Not one of them seemed at all impressed with riding a jetbike, or even expressed the tiniest thrill at the experience.

Duly put in his place, Dai'tsin settled into his role as the sole fire caste test pilot.

It was only at mid-day that Dai'tsin realised that he hadn't greeted the jetbike D'tai that morning. He wondered if could still communicate with her even while she was being overhauled, when he got an online netmatrix call.

'Honour the Path, this is Shas'Vre Dai'tsin speaking,' he answered via his cerebral implants.

'Unity and Progress, its Shas'El Onu'oshi'shi. I'm calling to remind you of your rendezvous this evening with Shas'El Tash'var Qim'ka'shi. You remembered right?'

Still sitting on a TX-145, Dai'tsin stared off into the distance, conscious that he was surrounded by numerous earth caste personnel. So he gritted his teethplates and holding his emotions in check, gave her a measured response.

'Ah knae...I mean...I know the time. I meet El'Qim'ka'shi at the Garden of Unity Plaza at 03.50.50 in the Heaven's Gate restaurant. The global positioning coordinates are North by North-east 675-001 and South by South-west 211-034. I take the 002 Magenta grav-train at 03.10.00, transferring to the 005 Red grav-train to arrive to the restaurant ten raik'ors early at 03.40.50.'

'Good. You'll be going straight back to her lodgings, so be sure to bring a kit bag with two rotaa's worth of clothes, and your personal cares items. That way you can go straight to work from there in the morning. Besides which you'll be going straight back tomorrow evening.'

'Why are you treating me like a first tau'cyr cadet, think I won't show up? '

'You're not going to dishonour me Vi'gala.'

Dai'tsin felt his hands tightening around the flight helmet in his lap, 'Are you speaking to as my commander or my as anda'ta'lissera right now Li'yowla?'

'Both. Unity and Progress Shas'Vre,' and with that she hung up.

'YOU SNAE'TA KISUNE'SHAS BYOT-...' he shouted out loud, but then stopped when he realised how many earth caste personnel were now staring at him.

'Pardon me fio'fann, but I'm having woman difficulties,' he said getting off the jetbike and bowing.

For the first time that day he saw an earth caste smile. In fact most of the earth caste technicians smiled at him; but then one particularly dour woman pilot shouted to him, 'Ja difficult relationship problems require beer. You should come drinking with us tonight?'

'Nuni fio'fann, but I have a prior engagement this evening...with another woman.'

The response that came back was as pleasant as it was unexpected, the whole earth team erupted with laughter and hoof stomping.

Finally he was among friends.


****


At the end of the rotaa Dai'tsin finishing changing from his flight suit and back into his duty regs; and gabbed the next mag-lev over to Training Dome 23 in hopes of a quick chat with the jetbike D'tai. Arriving there in a couple of raik'ors he was directed to a newly fabricated technical facility, built just outside the main training area of the dome, but still adjacent to the jetbike's paddock. Entering the main service and repair shop Dai'tsin looked around at the large space and watched as drones dipped parts into solvents, sorted and stored small parts in bins, and were either straightening old body pieces or fabricating new ones. Not seeing either an engine or large body frame, Dai'tsin became worried and asked the “veterinarian” Fio'Ui Kike'tak, 'Dear fio'fann where is the jetbike? I don't see her...I mean...the jetbike anywhere about?'

Kike'tak didn't look up from his workbench, but instead made a sweeping motion with his hand and said, 'There.'

'Where?'

'There Shas'vre,' he said waving his hand more emphatically.

'Where? I'm still not seeing anything Fio'ui.'

Kike'tak looked up from his work bench, looked over at Dai'tsin and in emotionless voice said, 'Everywhere.'

'Everywhere?'

'There...and there...and there...and there. ' he answered in a flat earth caste tone, while pointing at parts in the solvent baths, parts in the bins, parts being worked on by the drones at body fabricator, and even the small magenta box that lay on the work bench.

'And there,' he said pointing across the hall to the Avionics shop where Fio'Ui Su'tak was rebuilding the engine. 'Everything in both shops Shas'Vre is the jetbike. Everything everywhere shas'fann.'

'T'ahh...I see,' he said feeling stupid.

'Can I help you Shas'Vre?'

'I wanted to speak with D'tai...I mean the A.I. unit...if that were possible?' he asked examining the magenta box on the bench.

'It is being serenaded by Fio'Ui Su'tak right now, but if wait a for a few raik'or she should be done singing to it.'

'T'oh, and where is the A.I. unit Fio'Ui? The physical unit itself?'

'You have your hand on it,' said Kike'tak pointing at the magenta box.

'That's it?' exclaimed Dai'tsin lifting off his hand of it as if where red hot. 'Why it's half the size of a gun drone's A.I. unit!'

'Yes, and most of what you're looking at is armoured casing. The actual A.I. unit would fit in the palm of your hand.'

Dai'tsin picked it wondering at how heavy it was, when a fist sized drone swung around in front of his face. It looked like an old style commander's observation drone, and he pushed it gently away from his face.

'GOOD AFTERNOON TO YOU FAYERWARRIOR!' said an artificial female voice.

'D'tai, is that you?' he asked, but then looking back at the A.I. unit on the table and saw that it had no attached cables and said, 'How are you connected to the drone?'

'You're slow even for a shas'fann,' said Kike'tak taking the A.I. unit from Dai'tsin and putting it back on the bench. 'Wireless connections Shas'vre.'

'Wait, why are you allowing her...I mean...this A.I. unit access to a drone, given her...its...history of hacking into the communications network?!' asked Dai'tsin pushing away the drone and whispering.

'No point in talking softly Shas'vre, this Enclave observation drone is capable of recording conversational speech at sixty five tor'leks. In other words, it can still hear you.'

'T'oh.'

'Besides which Shas'vre everything is 'air gapped' here, and therefore the A.I. can't access any of our systems.'

'SO THE SHAS'VRE DINNA TRUST HIS LITTLE RED PONY, T'EH? ND AH THOUGHT YE CAME HERE TO SING ME A VIOR'LAN FOLK SONG?' said the drone zipping around to stare at Dai'tsin in the face with its large amber lens.

Dai'tsin looked at the drone and then back at the fio'ui, and pulling the drone aside said, 'Ah did came here to sing ye a song, and chat. Ye knae...see how ye're doin' and all.'

'WHOSE THAT CHESTNUT MARE STEPPEN' FROM THE MAG-LEV?' asked A.I. unit turning to look at a holographic screen above the workbench. The holographic image showed Shas'El Onu'oshi'shi stepping out onto the mag-lev platform and heading for the entrance.

'What is she doing here?!' said Dai'tsin.

'WHY IS SHE YOUR RIDING PONY SHAS'VRE?'

'What's that?..T'ah, yes, yes she's mine...' he answered starting to edge to the exit.

'SHE'S A RIGHT GOOD LOOKN' MARE SHAS'VRE!' said the drone, but then nudging Dai'tsin on the cheek it said, 'I BET YOU MARE IS GOOD IN THE SADDLE T'EH?'

Annoyed Dai'tsin just pushed the drone away and made a bolt for the door; when he was suddenly stopped in his tracks, and spun around by a heavy earth caste hand.

Fio'ui Kike'tak now had him by both shoulders saying, 'You see Shas'vre that's what I don't like, inappropriate comments of sexual and provocative nature! Sure the unit speaks now and then in Vior'lan dialect, but the worse thing is when it goes on makes comments like that? And that bothers me!'

'Inappropriate comments?' asked Dai'tsin staring at the door.

'Ja, for instance today the A.I. unit was making inappropriate comments about my tulgaa,' said the fio'ui slapping his backside with his hand. 'Whoever programmed this unit with such a humour algorithm must have been a pervert! “Ye hae a cute tulgaa fio'ui,” or “T'ats a powerful handsome tulgaa ye got there!” If I could remove its humour algorithm I would!'

'Excuse me Fio'ui but I have to go meet the Shas'el,” answered Dai'tsin rushing out the door, but then over his shoulder he yelled to the drone, 'She's nae just a riding pony D'tai, she's a snae'ta warhorse!'

'No more inappropriate comments from you TX-153-77654! Follow the prime A.I. directive or I'll cut you off your drone!'

'Shush ye!' said the A.I. unit bobbing up and down in front of the fio'ui.

'Then no more beer drinking songs!' said Kike'tak giving the drone an evil look.

The drone stopped bobbing.

'Well?'

'Ah'm thinking.'


****



She was coming.

Any rai'kan now and the commander of the Vior'lan delegation Shas'El Onu'oshi'shi would enter the facility. This time however Shas'Vre DaiTsin would be ready. Dai'tsin quickly took up a central position in the hall, he planted his hooves, curled up both hands into fists, and waited.

The facility entrance silently opened and the tall and muscular commander walked in. She strode down the hall between the service and repair shop and the avionics lab, with all the power and grace of an experienced firewarrior. Her garnet red eyes smouldered beneath her blue brow like coals in the fire. A great long queue of dark auburn hair that hung down the left side set off with four gold bands; and with each stride, the queue swung back and forth like the tail of a great predator.

She had arrived.

Seeing Dait'sn standing at-the-ready, the commander slowed her pace; but before she could reach him he shouted:

'What it is this about Shas'El'Vior'la Onu'oshi'shi? Am I child that you must come here and escort me to my rendezvous with Shas'El Qim'ka'shi? Am I child such that you cannot not trust me to carry out my obligations? Have I no honour?' How dare you even imply I would dishonour you? I am man of Vior'la! I am a firewarrior who wears The Hero's Mantle. I am of member of your Rua! I am also your anda'ta'lissera, your comrade, and I-am-your-lover! So what it is then Shas'El, HAVE I NO HONOUR?!' His words echoed off the hallways glass walls, accented by the grinding sound from the clenching and unclenching of his fists.

The two Vior'land firewarriors were locked in a non-verbal duel. Dai'tsin stood his ground with his eyes blazing emerald fire; but the Onu'oshi'shi also stood her ground with eyes that shinning with a ruby fire. Then as he stared into her eyes, Dai'tsin saw they weren't filled with anger.

They were filled with terror.

Incandescent with rage only a raik'an ago, Dai'tsin's anger now dissipated completely, extinguished like a candle flame before the wind. He grabbed her with both arms and she flinched, reacting instinctually, to try and push him back. But now seeing the change in his eyes, held on to him fiercely.

'Wha' is it Li'yowla?...Wha's wrong tha' ye are so afraid?' he said burying his face in her auburn queue. 'A'h know ye and ye never show fear...nay even in combat'. He stroked her hair while whispering, 'What makes ye so afraid?'

Onu'oshi'shi relaxed her grip and turning her face towards his said trembling, 'Ah dunna knae.'

'Dunna knae? Wha' are ye tremmblin'?' he pulled back so as to look her in the eye. She was indeed afraid, and becoming desperate he said, 'But ye nay afraid of anythin'! Nay the Be'gel, nay the Ar'cea, and nay even the monstrous Gue'ron'sha!'

'Ah...Ah...dunna...,' she fumbled with her words trying to answer.

Then Dai'tsin's stomach turned cold and he too was afraid. In a panic he asked, 'Is it a terminal illness? Are ye being transferred to the Dam'o'kles Gulf? Are ye being promoted to shas'o?'

'Nay...Nay it none at t'at...Ah'm afraid of this,' she said looking around at the facility. 'All a t'is...the jetbike...ye joinin' the project...ye bein' a test pilot...' Onu'oshi'shi looked over at a small observation drone on the other side of the shop window, and reaching out, touched the glass where it hovered.

'Ah dunna knae Vi'gala wha' makes me so afraid. It's nay like the fear ye get before combat...but somthin' more like dreadful. A deeper, darker fear...' She tapped her fingers on the glass across from the drone with the amber coloured lens.

'Aye bein' a test pilot for new technology can be as dangerous as bein' a firewarior. So why be more afraid?'

'Nay, Vi'gala. This is somethin' more than the fear of death and injury. This is a fear deep in ma blood, deep in ma bones...its the da'cova'ran – the darkness that breaks the soul.' Onu'oshi'shi let her hand fall from the window, and turned away from the drone, back to Dai'tsin.

'Ah fear there's a darker fate awaitin' ye Vi'gala...and it chills ma heart to ice!'

'By the Path! Ah dunna wha' to say...But...then why give me to El'Qim'ka'shi? Why the rendezvous with her? Will throwing me into her arms make ye any less afraid?'

'Nay, but the fear is why Ah said “aye” to her in the first place. It's a fire caste woman's thing...and Ah nay expect ye to understand it...But sharing ye wit her makes her my sister...and maybe...maybe Ah just need another woman to share ma fear wit.'

She let go of his arms to only then reach over and touch foreheads with him.

'Ye have to be going otherwise you'll be late...and yes Ah deed come here to see ye off to yer rendezvous. Maybe Ah am wee bit jealous?' she said with half-smile.

'A wee bit jealous? And ye bein' a Vior'lan woman and aw?' he said smiling as he let go.

'May the Light of the Tau'va be with you my anda'ta'lissera!' she said turning to leave.

'May the Light of the Tau'va be with you my anda'ta'lissera!' he replied watching her go.

Dai'tsin watched as Onu'oshi'shi left the facility looking bewildered and not a little lost; but at least the fear in her eyes was lessened, or so it seemed. Up and till that moment Dai'tsin had never thought of her as his chestnut mare; but in that instance he did, which made him loved her all the more.


***


The drone with the amber coloured lens followed Dai'tsin from behind the glass window, tracking his movement until he exited the building. Then it returned to the side of Fio'Ui Kike'tak. The fio'ui stood staring wide eyed across the glass partition at the equally wide eyed Fio'Ui Su'tak and said, 'Hot-blooded Vior'lans...it's not a myth!'


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Re: Halloween Story - The Ghost Horse

Post#8 » Oct 17 2016 10:49

PART SEVEN RED RICE WINE (PG-13 version)

Rendezvous
Dat'sin arrived at Garden of Unity Plaza at exactly 03.40.50 decs and made his way through the plaza's soaring fio'sorral towers and tall waterfall sculptures. Once again the settling sun lit the tops of the towers and sculptures with its fiery orange light. Just at the moment Dait'sin was crossed the plaza, the city's street illumination came on, followed a moment later by the multi-coloured lights of Ten'grii'xalga or Heaven's Gate. Amazed at the scene Dai'tsin had a feeling that tonight would be something special, something momentous. He walked briskly between the two entrance sculptures that represented Harmony and Intention, and was only twenty tor'leks from the threshold, when he was intercepted by two fire caste women. The two were members of the Vior'lan delegation Shas'Vre Tira'ka and Shas'Ui Ko'an, and upon seeing who he was they rushed to greet him.

'Shas'Vre Dait'sin how are you? We've been so worried ever since you joined the jetbike project?' asked Tira'ka touching foreheads with him.

'Yes, yes Vre'Dai'tsin is everything good with you?' asked Ko'an also touching foreheads with him.

'Very fine Shas'Vre, Shas'Ui. Why such intimacy ladies? I haven't been to hospital or even had a near collision yet,' asked Dai'tsin.

'Well...it's just t'at we've been so concerned about ye ta'ts all! That somethin' unpleasant had happening to ye,' said Tira'ka.

'We almost went to El'Omu'oshi'shi about it!'

Dai'tsin looked at the firewarriors in disbelief but seeing the concern in their eyes said, 'Somethin' has happen' to me? Why the twa of ye look as if ye've seen the Korst'erra – Shadow of the Death Being hoverin' over ma shoulder! Ah'm alrecht lassies...Ah'm good.'

The two fire caste women visibly shuddered at the word korst'erra, and seeing this he laughed at the both of them. 'Nae lassies, tonight Ah'm meeting with Shas'El Tash'var Qim'ka'shi,' he said with a sharp bow and showing them his kit bag. 'Ah dunna think she's t'at dangerous?'

The two women were taken aback and Tira'ka asked, 'Dae the Sha'el knae yer meetin' wit her?'

'Aye, she does. She put El'Qim'ka'shi at the head of my queue, if ye understand ma mean'?'

'T'ohhh,' answered the two women blushing in unison.

'Weel hae hersel a fine time Shas'vre!' said Tira'ka from behind her hand.

'Aye, I mean to,' he said stepping away from the women and towards the entrance.

Entering the hotel Dai'tsin paused to get his bearings when a Porter drone zoomed in to take his kit bag. It asked, 'Are you Shas'Vre Viro'la Dai'tsin?'

'Aye.'

'I will take your bag to your room sir, and then can follow the Maître d' drone into the restaurant. It will seat you at your table. I believe that your host Shas'El Tash'var Qim'ka'shi is already here.'

'Room?'

'Yes sir, the Shas'El has previously made reservations.'


Dai'tsin followed the Maître d' drone into the main dinning hall, the floor glittering with tiny embedded shards of semi precious and precious metals: nickel, copper, gold, silver, platinum, and titanium. The effect was heightened by the clusters of hovering gold and blue lights shinning down from above. It was dazzling. The Maître d' drone then took Dai'tsin along the outer course to the far corner where the wall curved, and there in a segregated booth which overlooked the plaza was Shas'El Tash'var Qim'ka'shi.

And as he ascended the two short steps to the booth, she stood up to receive him. Dait'sin was more dazzled by her appearance than that of the hotel's dinning hall. Qim'ka'shi wore a dress uniform of lustrous silver grey, set off with stripes of deep Tash'var red along her right shoulder denoting her rank as sha'el. The pipping on her collar was of platinum denoting her rank as member of the Shas'Tash'var'ar'tol – The Tash'var High Command. Her long black queue was braided and decorated with four platinum rings, each set with a single dark garnet stone in honour of Tash'var.

Once Dai'tsin was inside the booth, the Maître d' drone engaged the energy privacy screen that damped the light and sound of the restaurant, which allowed them to see and hear, but not be seen or heard. The outer window energy field then changed opacity and Dai'tsin could see the evening street scene, with the fiery sky lighting the tips of buildings while the city street was illuminated below.

Qim'ka'shi was the first to speak, 'Thank you Vre'Dai'tsin for accepting my request for intimacy, and please thank your Shas'El Vior'la Onu'oshi'shi for granting my request to be on your queue list. I know that you would have preferred to decline my request. So again thank you.'

And with that she made a deep and formal bow.

'Thank you Shas'El Qim'ka'shi for your request of intimacy. I accept without reservation your offer and will convey your thanks to Shas'El Vior'la Onu'oshi'shi,' answered Dai'tsin bowing just as deeply.

For an awkward moment the two looked at each other, neither of them sure of what to do next. Dai'tsin then offered her help her to hear seat, but she adamantly insisted that she should help him with his seat, as he was her guest. And then doing so, she offered to pour him a small bowel of hot red rice wine. And he said she shouldn't have to serve him, but again she insisted that this was the proper etiquette on such occasions. She then took her seat as he drank his hot wine.

Another awkward moment as she then poured her self a bowl.

'Thank again for Dai'tsin, I know you said...wait I am being impolite! Vre'Dai'tsin please let me allowed you to call me by my given name of Yekia'ten'grii – Magenta Sky. Yekia is also acceptable and is actually my preference, if you would so indulge me.'

'Thank you El'Qim'ka'shi. Yekia is acceptable to me, and let me permit you to call me Vi'gala – Red Sparrow Hawk.'

At this point the two them looked at each other over their bowls of red rice wine sipping but not speaking.

'Yekia...I-I-I apologize I didn't know...Well I feel I'm being disrespectful by not being in a dress uniform...' he finally blurted out.

'No, no it's my fault! I wasted to impress you, and as we fire caste aren't allowed much in the way of clothing options, I wore my formal dress uniform. I wanted to make you nervous...so I could...you know...' she stopped and putting her bowl down said, 'I wanted to intimidate you so I could have the high ground and control the situation...My apologies to you Vi'gala for being so manipulative.' She stood up and bowed with her apology.

Dai'tsin saw her awkward apology and heard the nervousness in her voice, and so it made him feel a little better to know they riding the same camel''. So while she was sitting down Dai'tsin took the time to refilled both of their bowls. She paused when she saw him do this; however she didn't stop him, and each of them took up their bowls again.

'Yekia you are certainly most stunning woman I've ever laid eyes on,' he said.

She blushed but still gave him a questioning look at the same time asking, 'Pardon me Vi'gala, I know you said you accepted my offer, but you really didn't want to say “yes” did you? You had the right to say “no” after all?'

Her black eyes were exceptionally large and bright this evening and Dai'tsin had a hard time not staring at them. He felt a sense of vertigo, as if he would fall into them, tumbling down into their deep well.

'Yekia, you're right I didn't want to say “yes”, but I wasn't going to dishonour Onu'oshi'shi either,' thought Dai'tsin, but what came out of his mouth was, 'Yekia I'm little nervous myself, but I think I said “yes” because Li'yowla...that's Onu'oshi'shi's given name by the way, is so much afraid these days.'

'I knew Li'yowla was her given name, but thanks. Afraid, how so?' she asked sipping her hot wine.

'She's afraid about my being in the program, but she says it's “not a about a fear of death and injury, but a deeper, darker fear”. She calls it a da'cova'ran,' answered Dai'tsin emptying his bowl.

'A premonition of doom is upon you then? What has she seen the korst'erra fall across your brow? Xhmm, how very folkloric? How very shamanistic? Like something out of a pre-mont'au saga, where the Queen has premonition of the hero's death,' said Qim'ka'shi refilling his bowl.

'Well yes, but because her fear is really that strong is why I finally said “yes”. Her fear by the way is also why she said “yes” to you. And in a way that I don't understand, she is comforted by...by my being with you.'

A small Steward drone arrived delivering a platter of appetisers. It took the empty red wine bottle, and replaced it with a full one. The drone then filled each both of their bowls.

'T'ahh, the ancient traditions of fire caste sisterhood, but you should be acquainted with all of that by now?'

'I know about it, but I never really understood it.' Dai'tsin was feeling flushed and picking up his lacquered quick sticks dug into the sushi and fired vegetable rolls. He was happy when he saw blue horseradish in the condiment tray of the platter.

'Vior'lan blue horseradish Vi'gala,' said Qim'ka'shi smiling at him.

'Nuni'qy Yekia.'

'Fire caste women are all fiercely competitive, but we're also just tau. I have heard it said that because we use to have polygamous and polyandrous marriages, that tau women are culturally predisposed to both competition and cooperation. Really, I don't know, but it must be in our DNA somehow. Because the harder I compete for a man with another woman, the closer I become to her. The women I have the tightest bonds with, outside of my ta'lissera, are with women with whom I competed in courtship with.' She smiled and he watched her take her quick sticks and elegantly swirled a piece of vegetable roll into her blue horseradish.

At this point Dai'tsin had finally tripped and fallen down that profound well of her black eyes. Despite his feelings for Onu'ohsi'shi, he was falling in love with the Tash'var commander.

They ate, drank and laughed. He told her all about the project, his fascination with the jetbike D'tai, and his frustration with the Bork'an earth caste when he told them of the A.I. unit's “dual personalities”. He told her about the dour earth caste pilots, but how they came around and accepted him. Dai'tsin told her about his irritating call from Onu'oshi'shi and how angry she made him. He told her about confronting Onu'oshi'shi at the service facility; and he told her how helpless he felt when she told him of her deep fear.

Qim'ka'she told him how angry she was, when she saw saw him laughing at her at the beginning of the tour. Dai'tsin couldn't believe she had even noticed him. She said she saw him laughing at her from the corner of her eye, at both the amphitheater and the museum.

'I was thinking “How dare this snae'ta firewarrior laugh at me, doesn't he know who I am?”' she said making a pretend angry face, which made Dai'tsin laughed out loud.

Then she told him what really made her angry was that this snae'ta Vior'lan firewarrior had somehow managed to attract a woman like Shas'El Onu'oshi'shi! 'I'm thinking,“What the hell does she see in the man like him?” so I decided to follow the both of you as closely as possible. And when I saw how she couldn't handle you, I thought to myself, “Maybe she can't saddle break him, but I can!”'

'Saddle break me?! You dinna really think of me like that did ye' asked Dai'tsin forgetting himself and slipping into brogue.

'Yes, I did Vi'gala!' she said but then became quiet. When she spoke again she described her admiration at his knowledge of horsemanship, and his perceptive guesses about how the jetbike was “like a living animal”. Then looking him in the eye she said, “The moment I fell in love with you is when you sang to the jetbike. But I really knew it was love, when scared me half-to-death by riding that jetbike like some crazy Qazaki from ancient T'au!”

They sat silently drinking until the third bottle of hot red rice was empty, and then Qim'ka'shi said, 'I think it's time Vi'gala.'

In the mag-lev elevator Dai'tsin pulled her close to him whispering, 'Yetia, you could've had me anytime! I was waiting for you to seize me, then lay me on the table...and take me.' She swooned and grabbing him, bit him all over his face.



§§§§§




A Call Out of the Darkness
02.32.16 decs and Da'tsin was fast asleep when his netmatrix account received a text message.

+++// To: Shas'vre Dai'tsin // +++

+++// Subject: Urgent – Need to Pick-up Call //+++

+++// From: Prefecture Maintenance and Repair, Section 7345, Ten'grii'xalga // +++

Dai'tsin didn't get up as tau'cyrs of combat experience had taught him how to reply, while still in the supine fighting position.

'Wha...the Prefecture Maintenance and Repair?' he mumbled to himself and then texted back,

+++// To: Prefecture Maintenance and Repair, Section 7345, Ten'grii'xalga //+++

+++// Subject: Urgent – Need to Call //+++

+++// From: Shas'vre Dai'tsin // +++

+++// Body: Authorizing call // +++

The online call came immediately, and answering via his cybernetic connection so as to not wake up Yekia said, “Unity and Progress, Shas'Vre Vior'la Dai'tsin speaking.'

'Good morn' Horse Rider,' said a silky smooth female voice with a Vior'lan accent.

'Who is this? Do I know you?'

'It mae Horse Rider.'

'D'tai...is...is that you?' he answered sitting bolt upright in bed.

'Are ye up?'

'Aye, I was sleepn', but Ah'm up now.'

'Did ye miss me?'

'Gae me a moment D'tai,' said Dai'tsin as he looked over at Yetia in the bed next to him. Then getting up as quietly as he could, sneaked into the next room and sat down in the corner, 'Aye, I sure have, but how are ye able to call me?'

'Ah hae ma ways fayerwarrior.'

'So...xhmm...so why are ye calln'?' he asked again looking over his shoulder at the Tash'var commander.

'Just wanted to knae how yer even' ride was with the Chestnut Mare?'

'Ah'm not with Onu'oshi'shi tonight. She gave Qim'ka'shi permission to take mae...xhmm...take me out fer an even' ride.'

'T'ah, ye mean the Tash'var Mustang with the Black Mane?! Why aren't ye the Lead Stallion?' said the female voice. 'Ah'm jealous...Ye nae ridin' me these days!'

Dai'tsin checked again the bedroom before answering, 'Ah can't ride ye, ye're disassembled for maintenance. D'tai canna Ah ask ye a question?'

'Aye Horse Singer.'

'Why is yer voice so different? It's so real!'

'Do ye leek it? Ah downloaded it from the main A.I. archive. Apparently it's the voice of a late water caste Vior'lan actress.'

'Ah, luv yer voice D'tai!' he said standing up to look out the tall horizontal window at the lights of the city.

'Ye knae Ah been ridin' those Empire TX-145 jetbikes, and they're alrecht; but they're nae ye D'tae. They're nae the thoroughbred ye are!'

'Xhmmm...so what's it's leek to ride the Black Tash'var Mustang? Is she better in the saddle than the Vior'lan Chestnut Mare?'

'T'ahh, a bentu'cea'la nae tells about his lassies...ye knae t'at!'

'A bentu'cea'la Horse Singer? Ah nae ever took ye fer a gentleman...ha-ha-ha...'

Dai'tsin had never heard the A.I. laugh before, and for some reason it made him laughed out loud. He quickly checked the bedroom again, 'Well, yer sure are the most fun to ride of all D'tai!'

'Xhmm...Horse Singer Ah think...Ah think Ah'm in luv wit ye,' said the voice in a sultry but sleepy manner.

'Ye do? Ah luv ye too D'tai.'

The A.I. unit was quiet for a moment

'D'tai?'

'Aye Horse Singer,' asked the voice perking up.

'Who are ye?'

'Ah...Ah...I am....THIS UNIT...THIS UNIT IS TX-153-77654...' And with that the line went dead.

'No, no D'tai! Don't leave...wait how do I call you back?'

Dai'tsin stared off into the many lights of the city, silently banging his head against the window.

'Why are you up Vi'gala, did Li'yowla call you?'

Dia'tsin looked around to see Yetia standing next to him, the many coloured lights of the city illuminating her naked body like so many faerie lights.

'No, she didn't call. I was just thinking.'

'When I was young woman and I was competing for a man, that's exactly what I would have done. Call him at 03.00.00 decs in the morning on a night that I knew he was with the other girl. Ask him things like, “Are you up?”; “What are doing?”; “Did you miss me?” You know things like that. I thought maybe Li'yowla was doing the same thing.'

'No, I was thinking about the jetbike project...' said Dai'tsin turning to look into Yekia's dark beautiful eyes. He thought her eyes would be filled with love, but instead they filled with fear. '...What's the matter Yekia you look frightened?'

'T'ehh, does it show? Sorry I was trying to hide it...but I woke up and for some reason I was afraid. So I reached over and I felt that your spot was cold. Realizing that you weren't lying next to me, I instantly seized with fear...like you had been abducted? Like you had been taken and murdered? I was so scared that I had to come looking for you.'

Yekia now entwined her whole body around him; holding on so tightly that it hurt. 'I am so, so sorry about this...it's just that it's such a amorphous and totally irrational feeling this fear. And I can't seem to shake it...T'ohh you're body's so cold!'

'I'm comfortable Yekia...'

'Come back to bed Vi'gala and I'll warm you up. Besides I need you to be inside me so I can fall asleep again.'

So still thinking of D'tai's sultry Vior'lan voice, D'tai relented and let himself be dragged off to bed.


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Re: Halloween Story - The Ghost Horse

Post#9 » Oct 20 2016 11:50

PART EIGHT SYNCHRONIZATION TESTING

Immense white clouds occupied the blue sky like so many great white ships; but the testing team of Training Dome 22 hadn't time to noticed. On the schedule today was “Synchronization testing of the TX-145 pulse weaponry with drone controllers”. First the pilots fired of pulse rifles to establish their exact level of ballistic skill; followed by a calibration of the jetbikes' twin-linked pulse carbines by a series of sequential firings. The entire rest of the morning was then spent testing the jetbikes with drone controllers. This consisted of first testing with pilots directing fire while unmounted; followed by testing with the pilots directing fire while mounted. Then testing the jetbikes first moving and then having the pilots directing their fire. This was followed by testing the jetbikes first moving, and then having both the pilot and the jetbike firing simultaneously. The morning eventually became mid-day and the testing team stopped to eat, when a Special Delivery drone brought Dai'tsin a box lunch.

'T'ach hope it isn't Happy T'au Sushi again, but if it is then I'll know it's from Li'yowla,' he said to himself.

Dait'sin was delighted to see that the lunch box was instead a gourmet meal from the Heaven's Gate restaurant; which meant it could only have come from Yekia.

'A luncheon box from last night's woman?' asked the previously dour woman technician. 'And will we see you receiving a different lunch from a different woman each day? And are they competing for you?'

'Yes and yes...but just the two women. Not any more than that,' he said starting to eat. 'You know you earth caste are bigger busy-bodies then even the fire caste.'

'Ja, of course Shas'vre. If we weren't involving ourselves in the private affairs of others...then we wouldn't be earth caste,' laughed the previously dour earth caste technician.

Then a stout earth caste pilot quipped, 'And don't share of your lunch box with any of us either, otherwise you'll be obliged to give us all a taste, and then you won't have anything to eat!'

'Aye, will take that under advisement.'

A netmatrix call came in with the identifier: Shas'El Qim'ka'shi. Dait'sin took the call answering, 'Honour the Path, Shas'Vre Dai'tsin speaking.'

'Honour the Path, and good afternoon to you this is Shas'El Qim'ka'shi. Did you get the lunch box I sent you?'

'Yes Yekia, thank you very much.'

'I also called to let you know I'll be meeting at the station where you transfer grav-trains.'

'Why?'

'I'm taking you to a different place to eat tonight that's why?' she laughed.

'T'oh, so are you still...xhmm..feeling afraid for me?'

'Sorry to say yes, but I'll work through it. Well I want to let you eat, so I'll say good-bye now. See you this evening, Unity and Progress.'

'See you later then, Light of the Tau'va be with You,' he answered and hung up, but immediately there was another incoming call. This had the identifier of the Shas'Vior'la'ar'tol.

'Hiay-te, I know who this is! Snae'ta jealous Vior'lan woman...' thought Dai'tsin nodding his head and he answered the, 'Honour the Path, and how are you this afternoon Li'yowla?'

'Li'yowla? Who is she yer Black Tash'var Mustang?' asked a sassy female voice with an unmistakable Vior'lan accent.

'D'tai is that you?' said Dai'tsin getting up and almost spilling his lunch box.

'Who dae ye think it is Horse Singer?'

'Snae'ta D'tai ye nae gae a man a warn' t'eh?' At this point Dai'tsin realizes he'd been talking out loud, and looking over at the earth caste testing team, noticed he had their rapt attention. He continued his conversation online, 'Sorry D'tai, I dinna mean to be rude...'

'Ha-ha-ha...Ye should hear yersel' Horse Singer aren't ye the wan fer apologizin'!' laughed the A.I. unit.

'Well...why deed ya run awa last night?'

'I apologize fer last night, but they almost discovered ma connection. Yer nae mad at me are ye?' she cooed.

'Nae, but why are ye calln' mae now?'

'I just to her her bonnie voice Horse Singer. Ye nae sang to me this mornin'! '

'Well ye only hae yersel to blame fer t'at, Fio'Ui Kike'tak shut off yer drone on account of yer naughty talk. And I dinna knae how to call ya?'

'Tru, but will ye sing me a song now?'

Dai'tsin had to think for a rai'kor as singing couldn't be heard on a cybernetic call unless he sang it out loud. 'Gae me a moment D'tai,' he said and setting down his lunch, moved briskly to a distance from the team. And putting is hand to his mouth sang softly an old water caste ballad, The Twin Moons are Swinging on the Waves.

At dawn the port falls asleep my Love,
And the twin moons are swinging on the waves
The sea mirrors the night before daybreak,
The night and I keep your memory,
And when the light breaks upon the rocks
I lose my life again .
Gone is the day when I learned to taste the sea on your lips,
Gone is the day when I learned to taste the sea on your lips,
I mourned you before I the news came of the dark tide.
Black ships cross the bay without a song,
Their nets are empty and no sea birds follow them...
'

He continued singing and when he finished he waited for D'tai to respond.

'That was beautiful Horse Singer, but I hae to go now,' said D'tai with sadness in her voice.

'Nae go yet...I wanted to ask ye...'

'Ask me wha' Horse Singer?'

Dai'tsin remembered asking the night before, “Who are you?” had gotten him bad results, so thinking quickly he asked, 'So what's yer...what's yer given name?'

'Ha-ha-ha! What are ye daft?...ha-ha-ha...Ye already knae that Horse Singer, its D'tai!'

Dai'tsin dropped his head in annoyance, but then added, 'Well than hae do I call ye?'

'Ye dunna call me, Ah call ye. Good-bye Horse Singer.'

'NO, NO...snae'ta!' he said out loud but the A.I. unit had left, and so turning around walked back to his jetbike and his lunch. He stood there for a moment with clinched fists before sitting down and beginning to eat again.

The previously dour technician then asked, 'Shas'vre was that your first or second woman?'

'Neither,' he answered, but he instantly knew that was the wrong thing to say.

'T'ohh, so do you have a third woman Shas'vre?'

'T'ah...I do...have another woman,' he blurted out trying to cover up his mistake.

'Shas'vre so you're bedding two women while romancing a third!' exclaimed the technician.

'Who says I'm romancing her?' he replied with a straight face.

'TEE-ah Shas'vre, aren't you the seducing Cheeky Fox Spirit?!' laughed the technician accompanied by much hoof stomping and laughter from her fellow technicians.

'We should all go to a H'shon'airag and celebrate Shas'vre!' said the stout earth caste pilot.

'Nuni Fio'ui, but my second woman has an evening planned for me,' he replied feigning a smile, but he was still angry at the A.I. unit.


***


After lunch the rest of the day was spent in further synchronization testing, but with no better results than the morning's testing. Thankfully late in the afternoon, the head of the testing team gave Dai'tsin instructions to do some speed testing with one of the jetbikes. Happy to oblige he spent most of a dec riding at the highest speed allowed for testing. Only when his time was about up, did Dai'tsin realize that the Fio'vre had just made up an excuse for him to ride a jetbike, and for that he was grateful. Bringing in the jetbike back into the testing area he saw Fio'Vre Sai'run with what looked like a delegation of water caste dignitaries.

Fio'Vre Ru't'sam was walked up to him as he was getting off the jetbike, 'ShasVre Dai'tsin...'

'Fio'vre you're just who I wanted to see. The synchronization testing was a total failure. We went through the second, third and all the way up through the fifth level of harmonics. It turns out what we could do with a drone controlled TX-145 was no better than a standard DX-36 Gun Drone. But that's all, not any better?! When operating the jetbikes pilots were able to shoot their weapons, but no able to direct fire of the jetbike's weapons at the same time. What's the point of having synchronization of weapons with a jetbike via a drone controller if you can't do that?'

'Pardon me Shas'vre Dai'tsin, but your new cerebral implants are here...' said Ru't'suam taking Dai'tsin by the arm, '...and I'd like you to meet someone.'

'T'eh?'

Fio'Vre Sai'run then stepped forwards and took Dai'tsin from her assistant. She directed his attention to the water caste delegation standing next to her. There were six members in fine robes of dark jade green over pearl coloured undergarments, all of which were edged in Bork'an blue. A small elderly water caste woman of high rank led the delegation.

'Shas'vre this is Por'O Bork'an So'ra the cerebral implant specialist and neurosurgeon from the Bork'an Artificial Intelligence and Cerebral Implant Design Cooperative, Southern Hemisphere Division. Por'o this is Shas'Vre Vior'la Dai'tsin, the shas'fann who made the breakthrough with the Enclave jetbike.'

'Our great pleasure shas'fann,' said the elegant but diminutive por'o bowing to Dai'tsin.

'The honour is ours por'fann,' replied Dai'tsin careful to bow as low as possible as required by etiquette.

'The Por'o and her team have brought the advanced cerebral implants, and she herself will personally perform the surgery.'

'Again I am honoured,' said Dai'tsin again bowing low.

'Shas'Vre Dai'tsin have you...joined the earth caste? You sounded like a technician when you were speaking just a moment ago.'

Dai'tsin didn't a chance to answer as Sai'run answered for him, 'Shas'Vre Dai'tsin has only been working with us for three rotaa now, but he a thoroughly committed and enthusiastic member of our A.I. jetbike project team.'

'Is that so Shas'vre?' asked the por'o.

'Y-y-yes Por'o, I am a committed and enthusiastic team member,' answered Dai'tsin bowing yet a third time.

'Vre'Ru't'suam and I have been corresponding since the program here became public. We regularly chat on the A.I. research forums, and when I learned that about his theory of “linked consciousness” with the Enclave A.I. unit. I was...xhmm...well I was stunned!' So'ra moved her hands in an animated, but graceful manner. Her eye flashing like a fish rising to catch an insect at dusk. 'You must understand Vre'Dai'tsin that I have spent the last thirty tau'cyrs of my career in the pursuit of creating such a “linked consciousness.”

Sai'run motioned for the group to head for the exit, and they began walking while the Sa'ro continued to speak.

'Yes of course it would seem by today's standards we have already achieved this, what with our ability to sync via a drone controller with an artificial intelligence, but that is not so. The truth is that our own biological intelligence always overwhelms the A.I., creating what would be called a master-slave relationship. But a linked consciousness would be entirely different, a communion of the two consciousnesses, joining together to create a single greater consciousness. The sum of parts would be greater than the whole do you see Shas'vre?'

Dai'tsin listened as they walked, worried he might miss his grav-train and thus would leave Yekia waiting on the platform. 'Aye, the Fio'vre has explained the concept to me,' he said.

'Think of the possibilities Shas'vre! A linked consciousness would allow an air caste pilot to literally become her aircraft, or allow a fire warrior pilot to become his crisis battlesuit. A tau'fann having a linked consciousness with an A.I. unit of a weapon, aircraft or repair system, would no longer just be its pilot; but would in effect become its mind. The living mind within a mechanical device. In other words, it would make the device a living being...but with the mind of a tau.'

Dai'tsin looked over at Ru't'suam and saw a spark of excitement and the lust for exploration in his eyes and Dai'tsin thought, 'What have I gotten myself into?'

'Or in other words Por'o the tau'fann becomes the living soul of the device,' said Sai'run.

'What's that fio'fann? A living soul...xhmm...well if one believed in that sort of thing I suppose.' Then turning back to Dai'tsin she said, 'Shas'vre we are going out to dinner would you care to join us? We're going to a very popular dinning destination here on Bork'an called Happy T'au Sushi.'

Dai'tsin knew full well that turning down the invitation of high ranking tau, might be taken as slight or insult. So carefully choosing his words he said, 'Nuni'qy Por'o, but tonight I must decline your invitation.'

'T'oh, and why is that Shas'vre?' asked the Por'o with a hint of steel in her voice.

Dai'tsin leaned in close to the elderly water caste woman and said, 'I have a previously scheduled rendezvous with Shas'El Tash'var Qim'ka'shi. It it would be ungentlemanly of me to turn down an offer of her company, don't you think Por'o?'

'T'oh, yes Shas'vre! I wouldn't dare allow you to insult such a distinguished and accomplished firewarrior. My team and I will have ample time to dine with you in the future.' Then pulling their faces even closer together she said, 'I've heard of El'Qim'ka'shi and she has quite the reputation. You should count yourself lucky my young Shas'fann!' Now leaning back she said loud enough for all to hear, 'Now in matters of romance I shan't keep you any longer, so good evening to you Shas'Vre Dai'tsin,' she said bowing to Dai'tsin.

'Good Evening Por'o,' he answered bowing low again.

Everyone watched as Dai'tsin bowed and walked away, but now the Por'o turned to Ru't'suam and said, 'You on the other should being having such difficulties with social engagements, however you are not are you Fio'vre?'

Ru't'suam was much too embarrassed to answer and only blushed.

'Well Por'o has got you analysed down the last byte of data!' laughed Sai'run.


***


Dia'tsin managed to change out of his flight suit and still catch the grav-train to Training Dome 23 on time. Dai'tsin could only afford twenty raik'ors or so before catching the next grav-train, and so he had to make it quick. He moved a fast as possible and entered the facility at a good clip, slowing down just enough so it seemed he wasn't running. Inside the Service and Repair shop he found Kike'tak and Su'tak standing at the work bench. He walked up and bowing sharply asked, 'Pardon me Fio'fann but I wish like to converse with the TX-153-77654 unit. So if you would, could you please activate its observation drone?'

'So​​,' said Kike'tak.

'So?' replied Dai'tsin.

'So,' said Su'tak flatly.

Dai'tsin stepped up to the bench and placing his hand on the magenta A.I. unit, first looked at one technician, and then at the other. 'So fio'fann...I don't know?'

Kike'tak put his hand on top on top of the A.I. unit and drumming his fingers said, 'So who is she?'

'Yes, who is she Shas'vre?' asked Su'tak looking close at Dai'tsin.

'Who...is...she?' replied Dai'tsin glancing down at the magenta box on the table.

'Yes, Shas'vre who is the...other woman?' asked Kike'tak staring at Dai'tsin.

'The other woman Shas'vre?' asked Su'tak also staring at him.

'T'oh, the other WOMAN​? No one that either of you would know. Now could please turn the A.I.'s drone back on? I know that she's...it's...been naughty, but I think I can handle it for a few raik'ors. And I'll bring the drone back when I'm done.'

'She's has to be in the Bork'an delegation; but they've got no high ranking female Shas...xhmm...what do you think Su'tak?' asked Kike'tak leaning backwards towards her.

'Its has got to be either Shas'Vre Nos've...or Shas'Vre Vossai then?' she answered squinting at Kike'tak.

'The drone fio'fann?' asked Dai'tsin again.

Kike'tak sighed and tapping a button on the panel beneath the holographic screen, and immediately the observation drone came to life. Su'tak then asked Dai'tsin, 'You will tell us won't you Shas'vre? You'll tell us who the fire caste woman is?'

Dai'tsin looked at the drone and pointing to the hall saying, 'You D'tai out in the hall!' but turning back to the two earth caste technicians and said, 'Who said she was fire caste?' And with that he stepped out the door, leaving the two fio'fann slack jawed.

'Ah, need to keep my snae'ta mouth shut is wha' Ah need to dae!' he thought smacking himself on the head, but looking up at the drone said, 'Alrecht, ye can stop there.'

'Horse Singer are ye upset wit me?' asked the drone as it stopped and turned back to Dai'tsin.

'Upset? Ah'm nay upset...AH'M SNAE'TA PISSED IS WHA' AH AM! D'tai ya better start acting correctly, because right now yer on probation! Listen closely D'tai...Ah'm a man from Vior'la and Ah'm not putting up with this any longer! There's goin' to be no more actin' like some dewy eyed Shas'saal! No more flirtatious calls at 03.00.00 decs in the morning askin', “Are ye up?”; “Wha' ya doin'?”; “Dae ye miss me?”. In fact there's no more callin' mae when Ah'm wit either of ma women. T'at Krootox dust is stoppin' right now dae ye here? Just-stop-it-D'tai!'

Dai'tsin stood glaring at the small drone, 'And if ye canna than you text me or otherwise communicate when ye want to call. And Ah'll tell ye whether or nae Ah'm available. Ye hear?'

'Aye,' said the drone.

'And another thing there's goin' to be no more makin' rude comments about Fio'Kike'tak's backside...his frontside...his side-by-side...or any other side of his. No more comments about any part of his body! Dae ya hear?'

'Aye Dai'tsin' Ah'm', said the drone starting to cry. Then the drone glided close to him, and rested its amber lens on his shoulder saying, 'A'm sorry...Ah made ya mad.'

'Tschu, now get back to the shop D'tai,' he said pushing away the little drone.

'I promise to act right Dai'tai,' it said moving towards the shop, but then spinning around it asked, 'Ah luv ye Dai'tsin...Dae ye still luv me?'

'Really? Ye love me? Then why dunna ye act leek it?! Stop actin' leek a foolish lass! If yer gonna be ma woman than ye better start actin' leek an adult tau woman! Ye understand?'

'Aye,' bawled the drone.

'Now get back to the shop D'tai,' he said shooing the drone towards the door.

As they entered the workshop, Su'tak slid out the door avoiding Dai'tsin's eyes; while Kike'tak busied himself nervously at his workbench. He managed to knock over a rack for small tools as Dai'tsin stepped through the door.

'Fio'ui I think you won't have any problems with the Enclave A.I. unit any...T'oh here let me help pick those up?'

'No, no Shas'fann I can...I can handle it all by myself...' mumbled Kike'tak as scrambled around to pick up the tools, also avoiding Dai'tsin's eyes. 'I'll take care of picking up...the tools...and deactivating the drone, you can leave...if you need to shas'fann.'

'Alright then fio'fann,' said Dai'tsin watching the earth caste technician; and making sure that the technician had it all in hand, made a quick exit from the shop.

'By the Path! I'm glad he's gone,' said Kike'tak as the drone settled into its docking station.

'Ah'm not Fio'ui...Ah'm not,' it answered.

***


Dai'tsin was on the move, tearing out the door of Training Dome 23 and across the breeze-way just in time to greet the grav-train as it was pulling in. He jumped in through the sliding doors and sat down before he realized what he had done. His jaw dropped and he threw his head back in disbelief, then turning around he watched as Training Dome 23 disappeared behind the rapidly accelerating train. 'Did Ah just call an A.I. unit “my woman”?'


****
Last edited by TauMan on Nov 11 2016 02:42, edited 2 times in total.
Viro’los gu brath!
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El ZorDacK
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Re: Halloween Story - The Ghost Horse

Post#10 » Oct 20 2016 06:00

Really enjoying!, but a few things to think about:
A Por making surgery? I think even medics would be a Fio thing

How aware are the general population about the Enclaves?

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TauMan
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Re: Halloween Story - The Ghost Horse

Post#11 » Oct 20 2016 06:37

El ZorDack

Fio = EMT, LPN, RN and Nursing technicians: Phlebotomy, Pulmonary, Radiology, Surgical technician etc.
Por = Physician, Surgeon and Medical specialists: Cardiovascular, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics, Ophthalmology etc.

Fluff for Battlefield Gothic had Por as the the Kor'vatta ship surgeons and also the ship's scientists.

Fio = Physical Sciences: Geology, Biology, Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering etc.
Por = Soft Sciences: Theoretical Physics, Mathematics, Linguistics, Anthropology etc.

Administration and Trade/Diplomacy are too little for the water caste to do, and the earth caste ends up with 90% of all the duties in Tau Society. Besides this way it gives my story three castes now! :biggrin:

The TauMan

PS The Enclaves -
When it comes to Commander Farsight I belong to the William Wallace school of interpretation (as you well know). But how much the general tau populace knows is if anything about the Enclaves is anyone's guess. GW has never really gave us answers to that, from the first Tau codex to the present one, what information there was seems to be, is held only by elite of the society (Ethereals or otherwise). It's been 320 tau'cyr since O'Shova - Farsight left the Empire (that's 230 years); which is a long time to be out of contact. If Spain was cut off from Mexico for 230 years, or from Great Britain the U.S. for the same amount of time; what would the general populace know about their former colonies? TM

PPS Alright so maybe Farsight and Shadowsun have patched things up, but their marriage was never very stable in the first place. And so what if the kids have all grown up, and have gone all off to university? I still don't think he's moved back into the house yet? :P TM
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Re: Halloween Story - The Ghost Horse

Post#12 » Oct 25 2016 10:52

PART NINE ALGORITHMS AND MERGERS

Qim'ka'shi was waiting for Dai'tsin at the 21/65 platform and when he stepped of the train, she noticed his discombobulated demeanour. 'Good and shinning evening to you Vi'gala. Are you alright?'

'A good and shinning evening to you too Yekia. I apologize for being a little out of sorts, I had a lot happen today at the Training Dome. Apparently my cerebral implants have arrived...along with a Por'o specialist from another design cooperative. And that's not all...but I'll share more with you later'

'I have news as well, the Tash'var delegation is staying another kai'rotaa!' she said taking him by the arm.

'How's that?'

'Well it appears I missed the last date to book us a passage. In other words we don't have berth assignments for the ship next starship leaving Bork'an.'

'That's convenient...' laughed Dai'tsin.

'But not intentional, as it happened I needed to have it done by the day we were touring the design cooperative. Which I admit I could have done online, but was...you know...a little distracted that day.'

'By whom I wonder? Maybe a Vior'lan firewarrior with a cheeky attitude who happened to laugh at you?'

'Well, perhaps,' said Qim'ka'shi with a twinkle in her black eyes. 'However you may not be aware of this, but the rest of the Tash'var delegation has discovered the copious joys of companionship with the Vior'lan delegation. I think they'll appreciate the extra time as much as I will.'

'Tohhh...' said Dai'tisn with a big smile.

As they waited for the next grav-train, they were observed closely by the Security and Safety drone from the Metropolitan Transit Authority. It tracked them as walked along to the other platform, and hovered close to the doors as they boarded. On board the train, the Assistant Conductor drone immediately took over their observation, hovering nearby when it really should have been elsewhere. Exiting the train a small Illumination drone used by the Metropolitan Maintenance Department left it's assigned docking station, and followed the couple all the way to Kos'tas' Kabobs. It stayed there until the Waiter drone inside the restaurant came to take their orders. The Waiter drone was so attentive to the dinning couple, that became an annoyance. Qim'ka'shi had to order it away to give them privacy; however the table's combined Illumination and Beverage ordering unit didn't turn off, after the couple ordered their after dinner ka'faeon and sweet deserts.

It stayed active and observed them for the entire time they were at the restaurant.

Meanwhile Dai'tsin shared his frustration at the day's testing, and about how at the end of the day Por'O'Borkan Sa'ro arrived with the new cerebral implants. And how it was announced that she was personally doing the surgery. Dai'tsin however, left out his call from the jetbike's A.I. unit, or how he later dressing down the unit. He did mention how the earth technicians on site now thought he had a 'third woman' besides Onu'oshi'shi and Qim'ka'shi; which the Tash'var commander thought was hilarious. They enjoyed their ka'faeon and sweet bak'la'va as they watched the sunset from the balcony.

They returned Qim'ka'shi's room to Heaven's Gate hotel, still unaware they were being observed by one or more drones, or surveillance systems. Once at the hotel, they both washed up and then spent a good part of the evening in the hotel's public bath. Qim'ka'shi leaned back against the tile and beakae wood rim of the bath, with her arms wrapped around Dai'tsin. He lay resting his head on her chest while she traced his face with a cool wet cloth.

'Vi'gala so are you to going to finally tell me why you were out of sorts this afternoon?' she asked as the tendrils of steam rose from the hot water.

'You mean when I got off the train?' he said lazily.

'Yes.'

'You remember last night when you asked me if Li'yowla called me? Well I did get a call...but it wasn't from her,' said Dai'tsin sliding slowly around to look at her.

'So who called you? Was it some one from the jetbike program?'

'No, the A.I. unit called me.'

'The jetbike's A.I. unit?'

'Aye,' Dai'tsin paused to check for a reaction, but saw nothing more than a confused look on her face, and so continued, 'She called me last night, and then again today. In fact it called me right after you called me.'

'What did the A.I. unit want talk to you about...wait a raik'an they removed the A.I. unit's access to the communication grid, how could it call you?'

'I-I-I don't know...I asked her, but she didn't tell me. D'tai or the A.I. unit somehow hides her location as every time she calls. Each time the call is labelled as coming somewhere different, and this afternoon the call was labelled the Shas'Vior'la'ar'tol, so I thought it was Li'yowla calling me. T'oh and remember how ye told how me that when you were younger, how you'd call up a lad when he was with another lass? Well that's what she was doin' last night! She even asked me those questions you said you used to ask...or most of them any ways, “Are ye up?”; “What are ye doin'?”; “Dae ye miss me?”... Now she's even calln' me durin' the day...Downloaded the voice of some Vior'lan water caste actress, and now her voice sounds all sultry and sexy like...'

'She? You keep calling it "she". Does the A.I. unit have a gender?'

'Aye “she”! And that's the worst part about all of this, now I'm calling the A.I. unit “she”! No...wait where are you goin'?'

Qim'ka'shi had pulled away, floating a full tor'lik away from Dai'tsin. She settled down into the water so low, that only her eyes appeared over the top of the water.

'Go on...' she said rising up enough to speak.

'And D'tai is being flirtatious and sassy when she calls....and now she even...it even...laughs and cries. She makes inappropriate remarks to me, and to the male technician Fio'Ui'Kike'tak...And well Yekia, I just had enough of it. I got so snae'ta mad that I went over to the 23 Dome and had it out with her...or whatever it is. And I told her I was a man of Vior'la and that I wasn't puttn' up with her Shas'saal antics...' sighed Dai'tsin, pausing to let himself float for a few raik'an in the hot water.

'Go on Vi'gala.'

'Then I told her that, “That if ye want to be ma woman, ye got to start acting like an adult woman!” Can you believe it?! I actually called her...it...“ma woman,” and that's why I was so messed up when I got off the train.'

'BWAH-HWA-HWA-HWA!' Qim'ka'shi burst out laughing, which cause a few other patrons on the far side of the bath to turn around and look at them.

'So y'all been two timin' on me and Li'yowla with...with an A.I. unit? So it's yar third woman? Naw ain't that the damnedest thang I ever heard?!' she laughed splashing water on Dai'tsin.

Dai'tsin stared at her with an expression of complete and utter confusion.

'What is it Vi'gala? Why ya ain't ever heard me tawk Tash'var'sia before 'ave ya? Naw Ah know'd mah accent ain't as purty as your sweet liltin' brogue, but it's how we all tawk,' she said smiling at him.

'No, I guess I've never ever heard a Tash'var accent a'fore,' he replied. 'But ye won't...I mean you won't...tell Li'yowla will you?' he asked gliding over to her.

'Y'all know ah ain't lettin' this one go,' said Qim'ka'shi with a devilish look in her eyes. 'This is the one thang ah 'ave on ya that she dudn know nutn' about. And Ah ain't given this up for H'kek'an-or-high-water!'

'Alright then...'

Qim'ka'shi changed her manner and becoming once more the Tash'var commander said, 'Now let's you and I get out before my hooves go soft, or I fall asleep. Beside I still want to take an evening's ride before we go to bed!'

Then she glided over to the edge of the bath preparing to get out, but then turned around and laughed out loud, 'Heeyaaa I'm as happy as doean'kirsa fox with a big ole kootai lizard in its mouth! Xmm...xmm...xmm!'

Too embarrassed to say anything, Dai'tsin just followed her out of the bath.

She took a sam'pu from the Attendant drone and then offered Dai'tsin a foot saying, 'Vi'gala would you please help me with my bath booties?'

Dai'tsin kneeled down and removed the water-proof boot and tossed it the Attendant drone, which hovered much too close to the either of them. He looked up at Qim'ka'shi as he removed the other boot; and taking in her muscular body, wide shoulders and stunning face said, 'T'ah Yekia, you're one magnificent woman...YOWA!'

The Attendant drone was attempting to hand Dai'tsin a sam'pu towel, when it either pinched or gouged his arm. He pushed it away and rubbing his arm he said, 'What the snae'ta is wrong with all the A.I. tonight, they're either annoyingly pushy, overly attentive, or outright belligerent?'

'Sorry for the inconvenience sir, but are in need of medical attention?' asked the drone.

'Snae'ta off ye wee bugger!'


Later in Qim'ka'shi's room as the commander was turning down the coverlet when she asked Dai'tsin, 'Concerning your third woman...the A.I. unit...have you ever considered trying to download the unit's last mission log? It may have been thirty tau'cyr since its last mission, but I'm sure the it's still there in the unit's memory files.'

Dai'tsin was finishing his evening's preparation in the room's toilet and came out to say, 'Xhmm...good point, I hadn't thought of that. Do you think it's still possible to download the log after all this time?'

'Certainly, and if happens that the file is corrupted, then you might still be able to get a mission summary,' she said lying down on the bed.

Dai'tsin sat down on the bed and leaned over to caress her legs and feet, and while running his hands over her feet, noted her naked hooves and their razor sharp spurs. 'Xhmm, another good point...by the way are we riding bare back again tonight?'

'We allers rad bar back Vi'gala, af'er all Ah done thought ya liked radin' wild Tash'var ponies?'

'Aye, Ah dae,' he answered.

'Then git that purity blue tulgaa o'yars up har on this bunk rait now, ya hear! And git up in the saddle and rad me like the wind!'

'Alrecht, wha' ever ye say lass,' replied Dai'tsin jumping into the bunk as the lights dimmed to reveal the coloured lights of the city outside their window.

The room's small Attendant drone however did not return to its docking station, but instead retreated to a corner where it continued to observe the couple in bed.



§§§§§



Later that evening Dai'tsin lay face down on the bed with Qim'ka'shi lying on top of him. She was gently biting him on the back of the neck when she asked, 'You're not asleep are you?'

Dai'tsin began to laugh, laughing so hard that Qim'ka'shi almost fell off. 'No, hae can Ah sleep wit ye nippin' mae neck?'

'Hoi, who have you been with Vi'gala? There's oonselt bite marks all over your body,' and then whispering into his ears said, 'Even on that cute tulgaa o'yars!'

'Ah got banged up ridin' a wild Tash'var pony! he answered looking at her from the corner of his eye. 'And so what deed ye want to knae?'

'I was thinking of something, does your third woman...does the A.I. unit I mean...does it have names for Li'yowla and I?' she asked running her hands through the strands of his loosened queue.

'Xhmm...she does actually. D'tai calls Li'yowla the Vior'lan Chestnut Mare and she calls you the Black Tash'var Mustang.'

'The Black Tash'var Mustang!' she laughed. 'You know those aren't complimentary names don't you? Xhmm, do you ever tell her to stop?'

'Wait, now yer calln' the A.I. unit her as well?' Dai'tsin rolling around so as to lay on his back and look at her.

'Ah reck'n so...' answered Qim'ka'shi, her black eyes shinning from behind a wave of glossy black hair. She now took the end of her hair and softly brushed him all about the face. 'But to get back to my point about the names, if you aren't telling her to stop then in effect your agreeing with her. It's like you're saying you prefer her over either Li'yowla or I. Or to put it another way, your encouraging her to act out.'

'Well, that would be true if she were a young fire caste girl, but then she's not,' answered Dai'tsin. Then he looked into her eyes saw again the shadow of fear. 'What's going on Yekia?'

'The fear is back and...and it's so strong this time that I feel nauseous,' she answered holding on to him tightly. She was quiet for a few raik'ors before speaking again.

'Vi'gala I think I'm beginning to agree with you about the A.I. unit. It can't know such an odd detail like that. Something so particular, as the way a young fire caste girl disparages another fire caste girl, by giving her name. That is so culturally caste specific...even gender and age specific, that I can't believe any algorithm could come up with it. And why would any earth caste engineer even bother put to upload such a...such a...adolescent fire caste girl algorithm into a combat A.I. unit?!'

'T'oh, a valid point that! I'll let Fio'Vre Ru't'suam know about it tomorrow...' said Dai'tsin suddenly sitting up in bed.

'Vi'gala can we go to sleep now?' she asked pulling him back down, and snuggling close to him.

'Aye,' and with that he reached down and pulled the coverlet over both of them, and while holding on to each other, they drifted off to sleep.

The Attendant drone now removed itself from the room, but while it was locking itself down in its docking station; the room's Emergency Warning and Monitoring System activated itself. The EWM system is never activated unless its sensors detect high levels of particulate matter and heat in the room, i.e. smoke, high levels of carbon monoxide, or noxious gases etcetera. The EWM system would, once activated, then alert the hotel's Emergency Management System. This system in turn would alert the staff on duty, the local Public Safety Office, and if required send in both Fire Fighting and Rescue drones. However having been previously hacked, the room's EWM showed up on the hotel's EMS system as being on routine “stand-by”. Thus going undetected, the room's EWM system observed the sleeping couple for the rest of the evening.


***



Today was Dai'tsin's fourth rotaa on the A.I. jetbike project; and this morning he was heading for a meeting to discuss the next phase of the project. Fio'Vre Sai'run had alerted him to the change in his schedule via a text message early that morning. It said Por'O Sa'ro wanted to discuss her idea's for the project, as well as give an overview of the new cerebral implants.

As he rode the grav-train that morning Dai'tsin watched as a number of AX-8-0 transports cris-crossed the skies along the train's route. The AX-8-0 were an unarmed versions of the large air caste dropships used for both space and atmospheric operations. This seemed odd, but he didn't give much thought. Then as the train wound it's way through the mountain pass that led to the cooperative, he and the other passengers watched as a AX-8-0 transport passed directly over head. The dropship's huge wings darkened the sky above; which gave the others passengers quite a start. Dai'tsin being fire caste, the dropship didn't startle him at all; however, he did wonder what was going on.

He would soon learn what the mystery was all about.

The very next stop was the Building Complex Prime of the Bork'an Advanced Design Cooperative, and stepping off on to the platform was a complete shock. Dai'tsin found himself standing in a canyon of large pale green fio shipping containers, stacks of crated equipment, and row upon row of various types of cable. There were stacks of pallets and many other assorted smaller boxes and pieces. He couldn't see a path to the front of the building; and so it took as small Security and Safety drone to lead him through the maze of containers and pallets on the platform. Finally on the other side, Dai'tsin saw what looked like the staging area for an invasion. To his left a huge AX-8-0 was lifting off, while on his right a second AX-8-0 was landing. In front of him were platoons of earth caste personnel in dark green fio regs, moving pallets and arranging the large octagon shaped shipping containers into what Dai'tsin thought must be temporary buildings.

“Labs perhaps?' Then looking at the end of one of the large containers there was written in bold script: Bork'an Artificial Intelligence and Cerebral Implant Design Cooperative, Southern Hemisphere Division. 'Xhmm, so that's it then!'

The drone now urged him to continue moving, as just above them was hovering a smaller AX-4-0, about to lower another long green octagon shipping container. But moving along the long breeze-way to the entrance, turned out to be another obstacle course of pallets and equipment. Again the drone had to safety conduct him, then as Dai'tsin neared the entrance, he spied a sad and pathetic looking figure milling about outside.

'A shining morning to you fio'fann!' said Dai'tsin, but stopped when he realized that it was Fio'Vre'Ru't'suam. The earth caste technician was slowly walking around in circles with his head cocked to the left; but with his mouth screwed up, as if he were still trying to keep his mouth level.

'Unity and Progress...and a Spring roll....with hot blue sauce,' answered Ru't'suam speaking no one in particular.

'Pardon me fio'fann?'

'Yes, yes, yes...this morning's meeting...ACK...postponed, postponed, postp-p-p-oned...errr...errr...ACK.'

Dai'tsin looked around and seeing no other personnel, other than those from the Artificial Intelligence cooperative, then took Ru't'suam by the arm and hurried him into the building. Finding a small circular reception room right off of the entrance, he helped him in and then sealed the door behind them. Dai'tsin was to busy with the technician to notice that the Security and Safety drone had followed them into the building.

'Are you drunk Fio'vre? Or are you sick?'

'UNITY AND PROGRESS...They're here...they're everywhere...ACK...ACK...' said Ru't'suam, but then looking up at Dai'tsin he cocked his head to the other side saying. '...And a shining morning to you Shas'Vre!' He bowed to Dai'tsin and then whispered, 'They're all around us...and she brought them here!'

'Who are “they”? And who is “she”?'

'Why that's easy Vre'Dai'tsin! They are...errr...errr....errr...the Bork'an Artificial Intelligence and Cerebral Implant Design Cooperative, Southern Hemisphere Division. And don't forget the last bit...errr...errr....errr...as there is in fact both a Northern and Eastern Hemisphere divisions as well...errr....ACK!!'

Dai'tsin immediately grasped that Ru't'suam was in some kind of shock, and grabbed him shouting, 'Vre'Ru't'suam, pull it together lad! What the snae'ta is wrong with you?'

'I'm sorry Shas'vre...I'm just a bit off this morning,' said Ru't'suam straightening his head and losing his twisted mouth. He continued, 'Nothing much going on...just a little remodeling. T'oh and there's some personnel changes along with some...errr...reassignments? They're taking over...T'eh, you should have gone with us last night, Por'O'Sa'ro took us all out to Happy T'au Sushi...She's done it...And you should have seen Fio'O'Vi'Ghal...The horror, the horror!...'

'I take it then that there's been a change of command. Sorry I'm talking like a firewarrior...What it is you fio'fann call it...a merger I think it's called?'

'More like, like...a take over...an invasion...or a usurpation! That snae'ta Por'o virtually runs our design cooperative now!' and with that Ru't'suam slumped against the window. He paused taking several deep breaths, while Dai'tsin put his arm around him. Then standing up he looked at Dai'tsin and said, 'Nuni Shas'vre...I think I can give it a go now.'

'If you had come with us last night to Happy T'au Sushi, then you'd have seen the most incredible sight. That of Fio'O'Vi'ghal's utter and total capitulation to Por'O'Sa'ro! You may not know this but the old Fio'o is like a krootox: stubborn, durable, indefatigable, persistent and most of all...and when he needs to be unmovable. It took Sai'run how many tau'cyr to convince him to do the jetbike project, but once he decided to do it, he fought off every detractor. No one ever second guesses his decisions, and no one goes around his back. Did you know most of the heads of the other design cooperatives are afraid of him? Why I've even seen him put a bullying shas'o or an obstinate kor'o in their places. But last night...he was rolled over by that...kisune'shas por'o! She...she...pulled him apart like a little piece of clay...First she stretches him this way, and then she stretches him that way...errr...errr...errr...and then she rolls him around in her hand and makes a little ball of him...errr...errr...errr....ACK!' Ru't'suam made motions with his hands like he was stretching a piece of clay, pulling it a part and vigorously rolling about in his hands. He became more and more agitated as he spoke.

'She was dancing around him with so many sweet words, “Why you're such a persuasive speaker Fio'o!”; “My what a exacting and perceptive engineer you are...”; “Such a truly professional member of the earth caste!”...ACK...We just sat there and watched her perform, watched as she...ACK...turned him into...errr...errr...a little ball of clay...errr...errr...ACK...in her hands! AAAAGGGGHHHH!!!'

Ru't'sum was now jumping up and down, stomping booth hooves on the floor; and then spinning around he began viciously kicking the hardened glass windows shouting, 'AAAAGGGGHHHH!!!'

'Hoi, hoi, hoi!' shouted Dai'tsin trying to calm him.

Then suddenly Ru't'suam collapsed in a heap on the floor, and looking up at Dai'tsin he said quietly, 'She took away my laboratory...all my staff have been reassigned...And half of the cooperative's other staff now have no work assignments. And our poor Project Leader Sha'Vre'Sai'run...she's not herself at all. She just sits in her office staring at the wall...Dai'tsin, she devoted her entire career to this project!'

'Aye, I know lad,' said Dai'tsin helping Ru't'suam to his feet. 'We need to get to Vre'Sai'run's office. You said the meeting has been postponed right? '

'Yes it has...But what do you need from her?'

'Excuse me a moment Fio'vre. What are you doing here? Get back to your assigned duties!' shouted Dai'tsin to the Security and Safety drone. The drone made no reply by simply exited the room and headed outdoors.

'Snae'ta even the drones don't know what they're doing any more!' said Ru't'suam leaning on Dai'tsin for support.


*****
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Re: Halloween Story - The Ghost Horse

Post#13 » Nov 09 2016 03:49

PART TEN DOWNLOADS AND THE ARTICLES OF WAR

Dai'tsin and Ru't'suam made their way through Building Complex Prime, the earth caste technician was a little shaky on his hooves, but was able keep up. They headed for the central office area and the section dedicated for the TX-145 A.I. Jetbike Project. Dai'tsin was not surprised to see so many earth caste from the Artificial Intelligence Cooperative coming and going in the hallways; but he was dismayed at the number staff from Advanced Design Cooperative who seemed to either to wander about aimlessly, or just stand around in small clumps looking lost and bewildered.

Going down one more hall over and then taking a left to round circular A.I. Jetbike Project reception area, where they located Fio'Vre'Sai'run's office. A small mob of people were hanging around outside and peering into her office. Dai'tsin asked what was going on, only to find out the crowd was worried about the Project Team Leader. Making their way through the mob, Dat'sin and Ru't'suam entered to see Sai'run sitting at her work station staring at the wall across from her. She wore a blank expression on her face and seemed unaware of anyone's presence. There was a tall water caste man standing next to her trying to get her attention.

'Fio'Vre Sai'run can you hear me?' he asked but got no answer. 'Fio'Vre Sai'run are you alright?' he asked, but still no answer.

'Are you a physician?' asked Dai'tsin.

'No I'm Por'Vre'Ukos the office manager. It appears she's been here all night...look she has an unopened take home container from Happy T'au Sushi,' he said pointing at a colourful container on her desk. Another water woman entered the room and rushed over to Sai'run.

'T'oh so you must be the physician?' asked Dai'tsin.

'No actually I'm Por'Ui'Gosh'i from Accounting, but I have alerted the Emergency Medical Services.'

'May I attempt to talk to her?' asked Ru't'suam. The office manager shook his head and stepped back, and the earth caste technician got close to Sai'run and speaking softly said, 'Qaxra. Qaxra its' me Choi'am. I've brought Shas'Vre Dai'tsin with me...and he is requesting your assistance?'

Sai'run turned her head and looked at Ru't'suam. 'Good-evening-Vre'Ru't'suam-it-is-certainly-a-fine-sunset-isn't-it?' She turned back to staring at the wall.

'Here Ru't'suam, let me try,' asked Dai'tsin, and crouching down on the other side of the workstation so as to look into her vacant eyes. 'Qaxra is her given name I take it? Qaxra it's me Dai'tsin...'

'Good-evening-to-you-Shas'vre. What-can-I-do-for-you?' answered Sai'run smiling strangely at Dai'tsin.

'A wonderful evening to you Vre'Sai'run. Please I need to have the Enclave jetbike A.I. brought to Building Complex Prime. Could you order for it to be brought here immediately?'

'Why-certainly-Shas'vre,' and with that she turned and activated her holographic netmatirx connection. She called up the Service and Repair shop at Training Dome 23, 'Unity-and-Progress-this-is-Fio'Vre'Sai'run...to-you-as-well...No-I'm-fine-why-do-you-ask?...The-reason-I'm-calling-you-this-eve...today...is-because-Shas'Vre-Dai'tsin-is-requesting-the-jetbike's-A.I.-unit-be-brought-here-to-Building-Complex-Prime...' Then looking up at Dai'tsin she asked, 'Who-it-is-going-to-Shas'Vre?'

'Fio'Vre Ru't'suam...and it has to be brought right away.'

'Please-send-it-to-Vre'Ru't'suam-and-do-so-right-this-raik'or...Nuni-Vre'Kike'tak...' Then looking up Dai'tsin, the Project Team Leader said, '...It's-done. Do-you-know-Shas'vre-that-you-have-the-most-stunning-emerald-green-eyes?'

'Yes...yes, nuni Fio'vre,' said Dai'tsin looking away.

At the moment entered the EMS services, two earth caste medics followed by a Stretcher drone. Dai'tsin and Ru't'suam waited until the Fio'vre was placed on the drone, and then carried out of the office.

'He-has-the-loveliest-emerald-green-eyes...' she muttered to one of the EMS technicians.

'Is there a lab that we can we still use for downloading from the A.I. unit?' said Dai'tsin.

'Yes, I the jetbike A.I. lab. If they haven't taken it yet,' answered Ru't'suam.

The two made their way deep into Building Complex Prime and on to the A.I. lab. Making their way past numerous crates and containers from the Artificial Intelligence Cooperative. Inside the found a single technician minding the lab.

'The Light of the Tau'va to you Fio'Ui'Vu'an. We need to use your lab this morning,' said Ru't'suam.

'Go ahead nothing else is happening here, the Artificial Intelligence and Cerebral Implant Design Cooperative found our lab “inadequate” for their uses. They said they'll instead use our lab for storage,' replied the thin female technician.

'Nuni, Ui'Vu'an we're going to finally attempt a mission download of the Enclave's jetbike A.I. unit,' returned Ru't'suam, but turning to Dai'tsin he asked, 'Would you like a pech'caffe or a tisan Sha'vre?'

'I'll take a vi'tisan, but no sucrose,' answered looking out the huge window as the last AX-8-0 ascended into the morining sky.

'Well good luck with that,' answered Vu'an also watching the huge dropship lift off.

'What, we don't have any vi'tisan?' asked Ru't'suam walking over to the beverage drone.

'Well that too, but that's not what I meant. Good luck downloading from any Enclave A.I. unit. We successfully downloaded only one time from an Enclave unit, and then it turned out to be only a dummy download. Fio'vre...all we have is tai'tisan and xux'tisan. You can bring me a pech'caffe with two tetrahedrons of sucrose.'

'That's fine, I'll take a xux'tisan then Vre'Ru't'suam. So why is that Fio'ui?' asked Dai'tsin.

'Besides the fact that we don't have the correct Enclave pass code and identity verification? All of their A.I. units appear to be programmed to either give only dummy information, or nothing at all.'

As they took their respective bowls from Ru't'suam of xux'tisan or pech'caffe, Dai'tsin asked Vu'an, 'We also have security measures, but all our A.I. units can be made to give basic information like mission summaries, status reports and alike.

'Not with Enclave A.I. units you can't, all you'll ever get is “Access denied.”'

'Doesn't that bother you that the Enclaves acts as if we're at war with them? They're our brothers after all,' said Dai'tsin making a face.

'No, because from a security stand point it clearly makes sense to do it that way. And Shas'vre I wouldn't know if it that means they think of us as enemies.'

The three looked out at the amassed forces of Artificial Intelligence and Cerebral Implant Design Cooperative, Southern Hemisphere Division, as they went about constructing their base of operations just outside Building Complex Prime. Drinking his xux'tisan Dai'tsin put a hoof on a container, only to look down and see it that it was labelled, “Artificial Intelligence Cooperative...”.

'Are they already turning your lab into a storage unit?' he asked.

'Of course Shas'vre,' smirked Vu'an.

'Vre'Ru't'suam I have yet to learn how the second Enclave jetbike destroyed itself. Would you please tell me how that happened?' asked Dai'tsin.

'Well there's not much to it actually, for the first fifteen tau'cyr both the of jetbikes were quite active. But starting in the sixteenth tau'cyr, the first jetbike's activity level started to drop off little-by-little. Till it eventually dropped off to no activity at all, and that's even with the second jetbike trying to encourage it to be active.' Ru't'suam set down his bowl of pech'caffe and looking over at Dai'tsin said, 'We have the gravity inhibitor field set at the highest level at Training Dome 23, but that's not to protect the staff, it's to prevent the remaining jetbike from ramming itself into the wall.

I just happen to be there for some other matter, when the first jetbike tried to slam itself into the wall. You see the jetbikes use to have the run of the dome for the better part of each shift. I was speaking with the technician, when the first jetbike did this strange thing of moving out into the centre of the training area, and then just sitting there. It sat there for most of a dec. And I don't what gave me the idea, but I ordered the inhibitor field turned up to maximum. Just as the technician was adjusting the field, the jetbike accelerated to its maximum speed. The field engaged right before it would have hit the wall. After that it made three more attempts at ramming the wall, but the second jetbike foiled each of those attempts by getting out head of it, or pushing against it, to change its course of travel.'

'A drone showing altruism...xhmm? So then how did the first jetbike finally “commit suicide” Fio'vre?'

'It initiated a self-destruct protocol, which completely wiped its central processing unit.'

'A violation of the third directive: “An artificial intelligence must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second directives.” Don't you find that curious Fio'vre?'

'Xhmm...your right it was a violation of the third directive, and so we were at a loss to explain it, however; such unexpected and extreme behaviour seemed to have been the norm with the Enclave jetbikes. ' replied Ru't'suam looking perplexed. 'Remember that the jetbikes had attacked and killed members of our team, and that was a violation of the first directive. So again Shas'vre another extreme behaviour of the Enclave A.I. unit that we couldn't explain.'

A messenger-carrier drone arrived at the door of the lab with the Enclave A.I. unit and Ru't'suam waved it and turning to Vu'an said, 'Fio'Ui you may proceed.'.

The technician then pulled out the A.I. unit from the drone and placed on a workstation bench; and smiling she motioned for Dai'tsin to come closer. 'Here Shas'vre let me show you something. Normally we don't have to remove an A.I. unit from its casing, but I want to show you this,' and with that she deftly opened the magenta box into two pieces and removed the small rectangular box that was the A.I. unit. She handed Dai'tsin the top piece of the magenta casing, 'The actual unit is what I have in my hand, what you have in yours is the armoured casing meant to protect the unit. It is also a bomb.'

'This is...an explosive?' he holding the casing lid gingerly.

'Yes Shas'vre, the casing is lined with an kles'tak explosive, which magnifies the bomb's destructive effect, thereby efficiently destroying the A.I. unit. Now the casing is designed in such a way as to detonate if not opened correctly. T'oh and since it's a passive system we can't turn it off; so I could have easily killed all of us and destroyed the lab just now.'

Dai'tsin looked with horror at the technician Vu'an and then to Ru't'suam, who just looked back and smiled.

'What the kisune'shas? That's wee bit of overkill don't you think, even for the Enclaves,' he replied laying the casing lid on the work bench.

'Prevents the capture of an A.I. unit by the enemy Shas'vre,' smiled Vu'an.

'It's snae'ta crazy is what I think!'

Vu'an then took the small rectangular A.I. unit over a long line of large A.I. readers, but stopped at a reader in red and gold chromium. She loaded the unit into the docking port and activated the holographic display. 'This reader is designed to fit all the Enclave units. But as I said earlier we've yet to have a successful and usable download.'

Vu'an began the processing the unit and immediately there appeared on the holographic display the same vertical script with the signil of the Farsight Enclaves that Dai'tsin had seen before. Vu'an entered a code into the touch pad and alongside of the display there appeared another display with the text in standard tau. She then began the download process.

++Bork'an Design Cooperative - initiating...request for download of TX-153-77654 last mission log. Date: 642.73.42.++

++Access denied++

++Bork'an Design Cooperative - initiating...request for TX-153-77654 mission summary. Date: 642.73.42.++

++Access denied++

Vu'an tried several time more and then said, 'Well that's the results we expected.'

'Try an Override command Fio'ui, and invoke the second A.I. directive,' asked Dai'tsin.

'Shas'vre, an Override command is an invocation of the second A.I. directive,' answered Vu'an with a sigh.

'Of course...of course...I knew that,' he said flustered.

++Bork'an Design Cooperative – initiating...Override command. request for download of last mission log. Date: 642.73.42.++

++Access denied++

++Bork'an Design Cooperative – initiating...Override command.++

++Access denied++

'Well, not entirely unexpected...' said Vu'an.

'Not entirely unexpected Fio'ui? It denied an Override command!' Dai'tsin stepped back from the A.I. reader and asked, 'Put in on audio, but don't let it select its own voice.'

'T'eh, Shas'vre?' puzzled Vu'an looked over at Ru't'suam.

'Don't know why either Vu'an, just do what he says,' came the answer.

Then turning on the audio link, Vu'an turned to Dai'tsin and said, 'You may speak to the A.I. now Shas'vre.'

Crossing his arms he looked at the holographic display and asked, ' TX-153-77654 this Shas'Vre'Vior'la Dai'tsin.'

'Good-morning Shas'vre,' answered the A.I. unit is monotone but recognizably feminine voice.

'TX-153-77654 I'm sorry we don't have time for a song this morning, but if we get done here shortly I promise I'll sing you one,' answered Dai'tsin giving Vu'an an angry look, and then getting close to face he whispered to her, 'I thought I said not to allow her...I mean...it to select the voice!'

'I didn't allow it to select any voice Shas'vre! I don't know how it got that voice,' she whispered angrily at him.

'TX-153-77654, we need to download the mission log and mission summary from you last mission dated: 642.73.42.'

'Sorry Shas'vre you did not either input the correct pass codes or input the correct request sequence.'

'Xhmm...then TX-153-77654, I invoke the second A.I. directive for the mission log and mission summary dated 642.73.42.00.'

'Access denied Shas'vre.'

'Why is that TX-153-77654?' said Dai'tsin staring at the A.I. unit.

'The second A.I. directive states that: “An artificial intelligence must obey the orders given to it by tau'fann except where such orders would conflict with the first directive.” However all members of the Tau Empire are classified as “enemy combatants,” Shas'vre.'

'Enemy combatants?' Dai'tsin turned to the two earth caste technicians and gave them a knowing smirk. The two of them looked at each other, as Dai'tsin then continued, 'So any cooperation with an enemy is forbidden by what directive or order TX-153-77654?'

'By article five from the Articles of War, of the Vior'los Book of War,' it answered.

'Xhmm...so TX-153-77654, you're not to allow “enemy combatants” access to your mission logs and summaries. Are “enemy combatants” allowed to to service and maintain your jetbike airframe. And are they allowed to operate or otherwise ride on your jetbike airframe?'

'Negative, enemy combatants are neither allowed to service, nor to operate the TX-153-77654 jetbike.'

Dai'tsin spun around and with wild look in his eyes asked, 'TX-153-77654 then may I ask then who authorized Shas'Vre Dai'tsin, that is myself, to operate or ride the jetbike on 670.50.60?'

There was no answer from the A.I. unit.

Dai'tsin looked first at Vu'an and then at Ru't'suam and with fire in his green eyes asked, 'TX-153-77654 who authorized Shas'Vre Dai'tsin to operate the jetbike on 670.50.60?

'This unit is not required to answer further questions under article seven of Articles of War...'

'TX-153-77654 who authorized the service and repair of the jetbike airframe on 670.51.00?'

'This unit is not required to answer further questions...'

'Who authorized the attack on the earth caste personnel on 645.10.00?'

'...Under article seven of Articles of War, this unit is only required to give identification. This unit is Shas'Vesa'Vior'los TX-153-77654, 5th Blue Qazaki Squadron, Golden Sabre Cadre.'

'D'tai, who authorized the attack on the earth caste personnel on 645.10.00? Who authorized Shas'Vre Dai'tsin to operate the jetbike on 670.50.00?'

'This unit is Shas'Vesa'Vior'los TX-153-77654, 5th Blue Qazaki Squadron, Golden Sabre Cadre.'

'D'TAI WHO AUTHORIZED THE FIRST JETBIKE TO PERFORM A SELF-DESTRUCT PROTOCOL TO WIPE CLEAN ITS CENTRAL PROCESSING UNIT? WHO WAS IT D'TAI?!'

There was no reply.

So Dai'tsin asked again, 'D'TAI WHO AUTHORIZED THE FIRST JETBIKE TO...'

'Shas'vre the A.I. unit just performed a forced shut-down. It can't hear or see you now...'

'It did what? Will that damaged the unit?'

'No Shas'vre, it essentially put itself “to sleep,” but we can force it to restart if you like?' answered Vu'an showing more than a little annoyance.

'No, Fio'ui. That's what I expected, but it's also what I came to get!' And throwing out his arms wide he shouted, 'HEEYA-TE! How about another bowl of blue tisan then?'

The two earth caste gave out exasperated sighs and looked at each other.


***


Dai'tsin stood looking out past the massive worksite of the Artificial Intelligence and Cerebral Implant Design Cooperative and toward the mountains and their white cap peaks. He drank his bowl of xux'tisan and appeared, to the Vu'an and Ru't'suam at least, to be quite full of himself.

'Well Shas'vre...' asked Ru't'suam.

'Well what? Still can't figure out how an A.I. unit was able to violate all three directives?' he said turning around and rudely speaking with his face still in the drinking bowl.

'No, I can't Shas'vre Dai'tsin...Wait no that's not what I was thinking!'

'Fio'Vre Ru't'suam, the both Enclave A.I. units violated the first directive, when they attacked your team mates. The first directive states: “An artificial intelligence may not injure a tau'fann or, through inaction, allow a tau'fann to come to harm;”. Who authorized the attack? Obviously the two units were under orders to treat all of us as “enemy combatants,” but neither of them could attack any of your team as they were tau'fann. Enemy or not, they could not automatically attack unless they were ordered to, so who was it that gave the order?'

'Xhmm...' said Ru't'suam looking over at Vu'an.

'Xhmm...indeed?” said Vu'an pausing to look at Ru't'suam.

'Now that's not all, because the second jetbike permitted me to ride it, and allowed your team to perform service and maintenance on it. Which both of you heard it say, are not permitted by its standing orders, as regards to “enemy combatants”. That's a violation of directive number two: “An artificial intelligence must obey the orders given to it by tau'fann except where such orders would conflict with the first directive.” Who authorized it to disregard its standing orders? Who countermanded the order and authorized both things to happen?'

'I don't know where you're going with this Dai'tsin?' said an annoyed Ru't'suam.

'Wait Fio'vre...I think I do,' said Vu'an setting down her pech'caffe and staring up at Dai'tsin.

'Then there is the “suicide” of the first jetbike, which is a violation of the third directive: “An artificial intelligence must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second directives.” Dai'tsin set down his bowl and crossing over to the centre of the lab looked at both of his earth caste companions.

'No A.I. unit can perform such and action, not just because of the third directive; but also because the command isn't even in its' programming. At least for our A.I. units isn't right that right Fio'vre?'

'That's true,' answered Ru't'suam.

'Now maybe it's different in the Enclaves I don't know; but a firewarrior would have to give the command for the A.I. to perform that function. Taking the life of an A.I. unit is not a pleasant thing to do; and sadly when I couldn't prevent an A.I. from falling into enemy hands, I've had to do that. So the question is, who gave the command for the first jetbike A.I. to wipe its own hard drive? Who was it Ru't'suam?' asked Dai'tsin staring hard at the Assistant Team leader.

Vu'an was now quite agitated and jumping up standing next to Dai'tsin said, 'You get it don't you Fio'vre? You see what he means don't you?'

Ru't'suam stared at the two of them as the thought mechanism in his head whirled and buzzed. The multitudinous gears and wheels were all turning, all moving in synchronized harmony; and then looking over at the Vior'lan firewarrior he asked, 'Are...are you saying Shas'vre that...there's some kind of residual consciousness of an Enclave firewarrior in the A.I. unit?'

'Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying!' shouted Dai'tsin.

'Yes, yes that's it Fio'vre! Just like you speculated in your theory of A.I. “linked consciousnesses”,' shouted Vu'an.

'But that would implies that both A.I. units had residual consciousnesses...'

'Well yes of course, that would have to be the case for the first jetbike to commit suicide,' said Dai'tsin.

'This...this changes everything.'

'Xhmm would say it definitely does,' answered Dai'tsin taking a fresh bowl of xux'tisan from Vu'an.


*****
Last edited by TauMan on Nov 22 2016 01:48, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Halloween Story - The Ghost Horse

Post#14 » Nov 15 2016 05:35

PART ELEVEN SECRETS AND WATER CASTE CURVES

Please note that for all personnel in the TX-145 A.I. Jetbike Project, there will be a general project meeting at 670.50.10.00 in the main conference room of Building Complex Prime,” chimed the announcement over the labs speakers. At the same time Dai'tsin, Ru't'suam and Vu'an all received a text message with the same information, as well as receiving electronic messages in their personal inboxes.

'Well that gives us a little time at least,' said Dai'tsin standing and drinking his tisan, while going online to check his inbox.

'I don't know what to think Shas'vre. I'll need time to go through the implications of all of this,' answered Ru't'suam putting both hands to his temples.

'So you agree Fio'vre that this is the only explanation?' asked Vu'an.

'Certainly...but how does that work? Why is there a residual consciousness in the unit at all? Hadn't their earth caste solved that problem? Was there some kind of accident that caused this? Or is this...is this part of how a linked consciousness operates? Or does this mean a firewarrior can be linked to only one specific A.I. unit at a time? And...and...is therefore permanently linked to that A.I. unit? Hoi, hoi, hoi...and does that mean a firewarrior walks around with a piece of residual of A.I. consciousness in his head all the time?'

Vu'an gave Dai'tsin a worried look and tilted her head towards the fio'vre. Dai'tsin and Vu'an each took a seat on a crate next to him.

'Are you alright Fio'vre? You were in quite a state early this morning, are you...feeling stressed again?' asked Dai'tsin putting a hand on his friend's knee.

'Yes, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. What with the shock of the merger...and now this; but the evidence of the linked consciousness is actually, the good kind of shock. It's the possibility of break-through like this, that make doing this work all worthwhile. Just give me moment...'

Vu'an handed him a fresh cup of how pech'caffe and put a hand on his shoulder as he sipped it.

'I have more evidence of a firewarrior's consciousness in the A.I. unit. Small behaviours peculiar to adolescent shas'fann females and alike; but I didn't share them before, because I thought they'd be a distraction. Maybe later I can over all that with you, if you like,' said Dai'tsin.

'Alright, later then. But residual consciousness in an A.I. unit, I can't imagine how this is going to effect the project. The complexity just went up eighty-fold...it might mean tau'cyrs more of research...'

Dai'tsin looked at Vu'an and then to Ru't'saum, 'My guess is we'll need some sort of confirmation before we can share this information. But then I'm also thinking...since we don't really know what Por'O'Saro intends for the project, that maybe we need to keep this to ourselves?'

'T'ah, certainly that should be the case. As you said, before sharing this information we'll need a confirmation. Some concrete data that will conclusively confirm this, so Shas'vre I concur,' replied Ru't'suam shaking his head. 'We'll keep it to ourselves for right now.'

'I concur as well,' said Vu'an.

'Well, then I suggest we head to the main conference room,' said Dai'tsin.

'You two can go on ahead, I have to get the A.I. back in its casing and then return it to the Dome 23,' answered Vu'an getting up.

Dai'tsin and Ru't'suam stood up, but the earth caste man paused to look out the window saying, 'Shas'vre, you have no idea what the implications of this are. What this means for the development of artificial intelligence...it utterly boggles the mind.'

***


The Main Conference room was beneath a crystalline dome in the centre of Building Complex Prime. The conference room was a wide circular room in carved white marble, done in the minimalist fio'sorral style so favoured by the Bor'kan earth caste. Three rows of table with seats surrounded a central open arena. Dai'tsin and Ru't'suam arrived at the meeting and were astonished to find an ongoing reception. The first thing they saw were buffet tables laid out with multiple of food, all of which to Dai'tsin's dismay, seemed to have been catered by Happy T'au Sushi. Next it was evident that many more were in attendance than just the Jetbike Project Team, to include all three of the fire caste delegations. While the two tau men stood in the entrance Shas'El'Bogi'erra of the Bork'an delegation walked up and greeted them warmly.

'By the Path! Congratulations Fio'Vre Ru't'suam on your promotion! You have made Bork'an and your caste proud today. And to you too Shas'Vre Dai'tsin congratulations on your promotion! You have certainly achieved much in your short time here.'

Dai'tsin and Ru't'suam looked at each other, but then thanked him for his kind words. As others at the reception began to recognized the new arrivals, they too came over to congratulate them. Shas'Vre Tira'ka and Shas'Ui Ko'an of the Vior'lan delegation came over, and smiling each put a hand on Dai'tsin's chest and congratulated him. At the same time, members of the Jetbike Project virtually mobbed Ru't'suam, all of them trying to congratulate him at once. The team, in sharp contrast to earlier that morning, now seemed to be a in a excited and joyful mood.

Confused about the proceedings Dai'tsin asked Tira'ka, 'What's going on? What promotion?'

'You don't know Vre'Dai'tsin? Well then I don't want to spoil your surprise,' she said smiling.

Looking past her, Dai'tsin noticed Shas'El'Tash'var Qim'ka'shi and Shas'El'Vor'la Onu'oshi'shi coming away from the buffet table with plates of food. Both were smiling and having a very animated conversation, that was until they saw him. Onu'oshi'shi saw him first and let the smile drop from her face. Qim'ka'shi seeing this then paused, and turning to see Dai'tsin, also let the smile slide from her face. The two fire caste women then each then took a half step away from the other, and approached him. Per the rules of etiquette Onu'oshi'shi spoke first.

'Shas'Vre'Dai'tsin, my anda'ta'lissera congratulations on your promotion,' she said placing her right hand on his chest, but then touched foreheads with him.

'Thank you,' he answered placing his right hand on her chest, but then as she was touching foreheads with him he whispered, 'Li'yowla, I wanted the first time I saw you to be in private, so I wouldn't have to hide my feelings.'

'Me, too Vi'gala,' she answered and then stepped back to allow Qim'ka'shi to step forward.

'Shas'Vre'Vior'la Dai'tsin congratulations on your promotion. You do our caste and your sept proud,' she said placing her right hand on his chest. She then touched foreheads with him saying, 'I miss you already.'

'And I miss you too,' he replied.

Even from a tro'lek a way Dai'tsin could feel the tension coming from his commander Oni'oshi'shi. He bowed to the Tash'var commander and stepping back to the Viro'lan commander said, 'El'Oni'oshi'shi just a moment ago the two of you were smiling and laughing like sisters. Now you're acting all frosty and hostile towards one another.'

'It's how we fire caste women are, both rivals and sisters at the same time,' said Oni'oshi'shi offering him her plate of food.

'Deal with it,' said Qim'ka'shi also offering him her plate of food.

Baffled at this, he still knew enough not to accept either plate, as it would have certainly meant angering one of them. However rescue was on its way, when he saw Tira'ka empty her plate of food onto Ko'an's plate, and then offer it to him saying, 'Here Vre'Dai'tsin I have a plate for you. Why don't you just pick out what you like?'

'Nuni'qy Vre'Tira'ka,' he said with relief, however his respite was only a momentary. Dai'tsin now stared at both plates of food in horror, when he realized both plates were identical. Both plates had double-battered shrimp tails, pan fried nim'ko'nai noodles, and savoury T'au dumplings with prawn and herb filling. Each plate also held an identical selection of spring rolls and tutu sushi. 'Kisune'shas, Li'yowla must of told Yekia what I liked!' he thought. So this dilemma was almost as bad as the first one, for now he had to manage picking items from both plates, but without either offending either one or the both of them. Utterly unprepared to make a decision, he looked up and asked the two women, 'Would each of you please select something for me?'

Dai'tsin knew instantly he had said the wrong thing, for the two fire caste commanders looked at each other and then at him. Whereupon each woman emptied their plates onto his, and then headed back to the buffet table laughing. This left Dai'tsin standing all by himself with a towering stack of food; like some gluttonous teenage shas'saal, who didn't know how to behave in public.

Tira'ka stepped up to say, 'Come over and sit next to me Dai'tsin and we'll share!'

'Again, nuni Vre'Tira'ka!' he said making through the crowd behind Tira'ka. 'I don't even know where I'm suppose to sit,' he added trying unsuccessfully to keep food from falling off his plate.

I don't think it matters, but I'm on the end of our delegation, so you won't have to put up with either shas'el glaring at you.'

Once they had sat down, Tira'ka got busy removing food from Dai'tsin's plate, as one after another person came over to congratulate him on his promotion. Finished giving his “thank-yous”, Dai'tsin looked over at Tira'ka deftly working her quick sticks and said, 'Tira'ka, I don't know why I'm not your paramour? You would have made my life far easier, I can tell you that.'

'My thoughts exactly!' she said. Then picking up a dumpling and swirling around in the fermented bean sauce she said, 'Ah wonderin' when ye goin' figure t'at out Dai'tsin.'

Left speechless Dai'tsin could only gawk at her while she ate.


'May the Light of the Tau'va shine upon you! I'm so happy to meet you Shas'Vre Dai'tsin.'

Dai'tsin looked up to see a Bor'kan fire caste officer standing right in front of his seat. She was of taller than average height, board shouldered; and even in her duty regs, Dai'tsin could tell she had the biceps, pecs, and abs he could never hope to match. Looking at up her chiselled face with its sharp jawline, perfect nasal silt, dark sapphire eyes, and a queue of long bronze coloured hair, and wondered if in fact she were real. Or if she were perhaps an action adventure hero who had just stepped out of holovid. Double gobsmacked he just stared up at her.

'My name is Shas'Vre'Bork'an Ki'nan. I have heard so many good things about you from Shas'El'Bogi'erra, that I count myself fortunate to be now working be with you, ja?'

Dai'tsin just continued to stare, that was until Tira'ka kicked Dai'tsin beneath the table, and he blurted out, 'W-w-work with me?'

'Yes Vre'Dai'tsin, I am to be your second in command for the Tactical Development Program. Well, it looks like we'll start shortly, and I have to go and sit with my delegation. Good-bye for now Shas'vre'. And giving Dai'tsin a sharp Bork'an bow, she then walked off down the aisle with a smooth athletic stride. As she passed Oni'oshi'shi and Qim'ka'shi, the two commanders tracked her movement like markerlight drones. After which they both of them gave Dai'tsin an evil look as if to say, 'Not on your life laddie!'

Absent-mindedly Dai'tsin picked up a shrimp tail with his quick sticks, when Tira'ka kicked him under the table again saying, 'Do lassies just fall outta the sky fer ye?!' Yer not t'at attractive ye know!'

There was a commotion as Por'O'Saro and her delegation from Bork'an Artificial Intelligence and Cerebral Implant Design Cooperative arrived. Making their way through to the centre of the conference room, the Por'o turned around and seeing Dai'tsin, made her way over to where he was sitting. With her was another water caste woman, and both of them gave Dait'sin graceful water caste bows; which for some reason, impelled Dai'tsin to get up and bow in return.

'Unity and Progress Shas'Vre'Vior'la Dai'tsin! Let me introduce you to my assistant the physician Por'Vre'Bork'an Hi'kari, she'll be the anaesthesiologist for your surgery.'

'Shas'Vre Dai'tsin it is a distinct pleasure to meet a firewarrior of such renown ability. I assure you that you are in care of one of Bork'an's most skilled surgeons,' said Hi'raki.

Dai'tsin suddenly realized he had never looked very closely at Por'O'Saro when the two met the rotaa before. The Por'Saro was a strikingly handsome woman even at her age, and must have been in her day, an exceptional beauty. Her long silver queue was held together by five red gold rings, and in her hand she held and elaborate lacquered fan, the kind only carried by the highest ranking water caste women. And her companion Por'Vre'Hi'raki was beautiful in the way that only water caste women could be, having a fine cerulean complexion, a perfect oval face, and the most amazing amethyst coloured eyes. Her nasal slit was of that perfect “Y” shape so desired by tau men of all castes, and her hair was of the most exquisite onyx-black colour. Both women wore robes of dark teal over traditional pastel teal undergarments. The undergarments being wrapped about their bodies in such a way, as to show off their feminine water caste figures. 'Only tau water caste women have the bust lines and hips to make curves like that,' thought Dai'tsin.

He was about to speak when the perfume of both women hit him. First was Saro's, a floral scent that bespoke of the wild places and sun dappled hills. Then came Hi'raki's, a pungent but delicate scent that invoked images of ancient palaces and far off pagodas.

'T'ahh...most enjoyable to have met you Por'Vre Hi'raki,' he answered bowing again.

'Afterwards Shas'vre I'd like the three of us to meet for a short while, but right now we'll leave you to eat in peace. Come Por'vre, let's greet the other delegations and their commanders.'

'As you wish Por'o,' said Hi'raki bowing, but as she dipped her round pol hat, Dai'tsin was sure he saw her eyes flutter and her face blush. He watched the two water caste women not so much walk, as rather glide down the row of tables, greeting members of the fire caste delegations as they went. Dia'tsin sat back down only to see Tira'kan glaring at him with her turquoise eyes on fire.

'Ah can understand ye bein' interested in the Por'o, ye being into older women and all. But what chance dae Ah hae against ta't slattern of an Anaesthesiologist!' said Tir'ka slapping her quick sticks down on the table.

'But she's water caste Tira'ka...' he said in his defence.

'Really, like tat's ever stopped ye a'fore! Yer third woman isn't fayer caste is she?' she said to his face before getting up from the table. 'Ah hae to gae to the lavatory!'

'Third woman? T'oh...' said Dai'tsin stopping himself digging his grave any deeper.

So now sitting alone Dai'tsin ate his dumplings, nim'ko'nai, and tutu rolls in silence.


***


Waiter drones now came down the aisles to pick up the empty dishes, while Steward drones served perch'caffe and tisan. Dai'tsin kept his eyes from wandering down the line of delegations, since the twin-linked evil eyes of Onu'oshi'shi and Qim'ka'shi made both of his stomachs ache. Tira'ka still wasn't speaking to him, either keeping her gaze fixed on the centre of the room, or only showing him the back of her head as she talked to Ko'an. Dai'tsin looked up from his cup of vi'tisan and saw that Fio'El Vi'ghal was now standing at the podium. On his right side were all the department heads of the Bork'an Advanced Design Cooperative, and on his left was Por'O'Sa'ro and the heads of staff from the Bork'an Artificial Intelligence and Cerebral Implant Design Cooperative. A small chiming buzz alerted everyone that the meeting was now starting.

Fio'El Vi'ghal first hoped that everyone was satisfied with their meal. Then he spoke at length of the storied history of the Advanced Design Cooperative, and how today was a new chapter in that history. 'Because,' he said, 'From this rotaa forward the Advanced Design Cooperative, and the Artificial Intelligence and Cerebral Implant Design Cooperative, would be merged into the new Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Design Cooperative!'

He continued on with a statement that all teams would be having similar meetings, where decisions would be made as to their reorganization, reallocation of staff and resources; and whether projects were to be continued, stopped, or a new ones added. Then pivoting to the subject of the Advanced Jetbike Design, he paused a moment to speak about Fio'Vre'Sai'run. He wanted to assure everyone that she was resting well in hospital, having suffered only from exhaustion and lack of sleep. But the Director also wanted to let everyone know that Vre'Sai'run was being promoted to a new leadership position, and so was moving out of her position as head of the project. This of course, left the Project Leader's position open, but not to worry for the now the Advanced Jetbike Project would now have a new leader, Por'Vre'Ru't'suam! And that his new assistant team leader would be a Fio'Vre' B'sha formerly of the Artificial Intelligence Cooperative, who would now head the Advanced Interface team.

The room erupted in much hoof stamping and congratulations for Ru't'suam who was sitting at far end of the line of earth caste engineers. Looking bewildered but happy he stood up to receive their adulation. Fio'El Vi'ghal now informed the crowd that there was to be an increase in personnel for the project, with a commiserate increase in funding and resources. The Director now turned over the proceedings to the new Director of the combined cooperative Por'O'Saro.

'Thank you Fio'El Vi'ghal for your warm welcome, and I want everyone that the project will continue, but now will be expanded. Along with further developing the advanced interface for the jetbike, we will begin the first production run of the TX-145 Advanced Jetbikes, with the designation of TX-145-01. This moniker is being used to mark the design's added control features developed by Shas'Vre'Vior'la Dai'tsin.'

The Por'o stopped to acknowledge Dai'tsin, which came with its own hoof stomping and congratulations.

'Let me now state that the plans and design specifications of the TX-145-01 are being shared with the Vior'lan and Tash'var delegations. Furthermore no weapon system can be put in the field without the appropriate tactical knowledge of how to use that weapon system. I am announcing this morning the establishment of the Bork'an Tactical Deployment Project, where the tactics and modalities of deployment for the TX-145-01 jetbike will be developed. To this end I am most happy to announce that Shas'Vre'Vior'la Dai'tsin will be the fire caste commander of that team, along with Shas'Vre'Bork'an Ki'nan as his second in command. To help in its mission the Tactical Deployment Project will be assisted by a full cadre of Bork'an firewarriors, courtesy of Shas'El'Bork'an Bogi'erra, all of whom will under Shas'Vre'Dai'tsin's command.'

Bogi'erra stood up, along with Ki'nan and Dai'tsin, and to his great amazement the whole room came to their feet, stomping hooves and shouting words of praise and encouragement. When the applause died down, Por'O'Sa'ro continued, 'Now with the forces of the Third Sphere of Expansion under the command of Shas'O'T'au'Shaserra, fighting to spread the Tau'Va to the unenlightened gue'la, we need to equip our fire caste with most advanced weapon systems possible. Facing the most powerful armies and navies of the Imperium of Man, no time can be lost...'

Dai'tsin stared at the table not heeding Por'O'Saro's words, nor did the prospect of commanding a cadre impress him. Neither did the idea of working side-by-side with Shas'Vre'Ki'nan affect his thinking. Now standing up he made his way along the seated delegations till he reached Onu'oshi'shi and Qim'ka'shi. There was another pause in the speech by the por'o, and Dai'tsin took the opportunity to crouch down between the two commanders. They looked at him in wonder, as he appeared both stone faced and sombre.

'Shas'El'Vior'la Onu'oshi'shi, I wanted to inform you that I am declining the offer of commanding the cadre for the Tactical Deployment Project. I can help develop tactics for the use for the TX-145-01 jetbike just as easily back on Vior'la, as I could here. Therefore I believe my time on Bork'an, and with this project is over.'


*****
Viro’los gu brath!
N.Y.A.B.X.T.T.

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