Below is a small selection of vignettes from a writing exercise I did a while ago, for which readers volunteered as subjects. They sent in a number, or a series of numbers and letters. I took each one and loosely based a character profile on the subject to build up a rogue’s gallery of interstellar miscreants – each canonically part of the Daedalus Mole universe. Whether they ever bump into the main characters remains to be seen…
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Hi guys! HistoryBuff12 here. You might have heard of the leaked Federal PD files a few months back – someone dumped a whole bunch of classified documents on the open net relating to wanted criminals and ‘Persons of Interest’. Contingency protocols scrubbed most of the files before they could be seen, but my crawlers were able to pick up a bunch of interesting fragments. I’ve tidied them up and torrented them for your perusal. Apologies for any artistic license; Federal copywriters lack a certain sense of style, and half the sentences were incomplete anyway, so I filled in the gaps as best I could.
Helen Parker is one of few engineers remaining in the Collective qualified to work with artificial people. If you were to step through the towering junkyard into her workshop, you would meet a woman of short stature in a rust-stained labcoat (for lack of cheap steel), almost certainly wearing a dented welding mask with dusty brown hair poking out the sides. During the events which would become known as the Collapse, the number of scientists, tinkerers and hopeful speculators dropped significantly. They are now few. A complete lack of publicly-funded support has made it impossible to regain all the knowledge that was lost, and it exists now only in small pockets.
Parker, with the help of a broad and determined scavenger network and a horde of delighted neighbourhood children (whom she supplies with small electronic toys of her own design), has built a considerable supply of scrap metal and synthetic components which she uses to refit existing artificial people and renew their capabilities. Many have been the victims of Collapse-motivated violence. Were it not for the work of Parker and her colleagues the last artificial person would have died years ago. Parker is a resolute pacifist, and any weaponised pre-Collapse modules her scavengers come across are quickly and completely destroyed. Without Parker’s co-operation, it is very unlikely that these fearsome devices will ever be seen in action again.
UPDATE – CLASSIFICATION 9A
Helen Parker is now a wanted fugitive. Two days ago, in the early hours of the morning, a shock team stormed her workshop to find her in the process of refitting a long-engagement drone with illegal sonic countermeasures. She was placed under arrest. The report of the team then states that the junkyard ‘came alive’ with synthetic creatures of a spider-like configuration. Parker reportedly broke free and triggered the countermeasure, knocking out all local surveillance.
Once police scanners came back online, Parker was nowhere to be seen and the junkyard had shrunk to a few small piles of metal – the towering heaps apparently having been camouflage for what is now undoubtedly her personal guard. Republic operatives brought news this evening that Parker has joined the insurgent group known as ‘Landslide’. The effects that her resources and technical capabilities will have on the flow of battle cannot be predicted, but we are prepared for the worst.
Located in a small pocket system between Crane II and III is a nineteen-mile superdense rock, designated 1492-Raine. This system has only three worlds which orbit a brown dwarf with peculiar properties, and Raine exists in a highly irregular orbit between them. Raine moves through its orbit at extremely high velocity, only slowing for short periods at locii which are difficult to predict.
Two weeks ago a group of amateur astronomers became the first known people to land a craft on Raine’s surface. There they discovered an entity they referred to in expedition logs as Shivannah.
The Broader Knowledge Foundation is preparing to undertake extensive research into Raine. Despite its small size, the body appears to have a comfortable 0.96 SGI within a mile’s radius, and zero gravitational influence beyond this set boundary. Logs from the expedition indicate an atmospheric makeup of 24% nitrogen, 74% oxygen and 2% unidentifiable gases. Temperatures across the surface – as with the gravity and the atmospheric density – begin sharply at one mile above and tend within the range of 300-340K; often uncomfortably warm. Such conditions are unprecedented (and nonsensical), but initial verification with probes has prompted a full-scale investigation.
Upon landing the team reportedly encountered a jungle-like environment, replete with insect and small amphibian life. Liquid water was abundant, and they seem to have foregone spacesuits, exploring only in their flight gear. Data from the mission recorder has allowed us to plot the team’s movements:
In the first minutes of the recording the team lands by a small lake and moves on a straight course into the jungle. After a few minutes they exhibit the initial symptoms of oxygen saturation, and repeatedly refer to Shivannah in terms that suggest they are seeking an encounter.
Their life signs become garbled after a further twenty-nine minutes, and only the crewmember known as Trike returns to the craft, three hours later.
Trike has been in questioning since he arrived. He insists on characterising the entity he describes as a young person of mostly humanoid appearance. Corroborated by the reports and readings from the recovered craft, Trike describes Shivannah as a creature partway between a mammal and a plant – a figure with the body shape of a human, but with limbs and hair which appear to be growing from the soil beneath them. Facts are still scarce, but Trike’s crude illustrations and flowery descriptions suggest that Shivannah is between nine and twelve feet tall, with ‘slender, moss-coloured arms’ which twine into the foliage around them and legs which twist and vanish into the undergrowth below.
Trike draws Shivannah’s torso in much the same way as a human’s, but with a deep cavity in the stomach region from which flowers can be seen sprouting. The face, he refuses to describe in detail, but time with a therapist has teased out a single drawing of large black eyes and gaunt features with long, flowing green hair. Upon further questioning, Trike became fixated on describing the movement of the hair, which he found immensely calming. This has been used to ease his frequent anxiety attacks.
The bodies of his crewmates have not yet been recovered, but study of Trike’s blood has led to the classification of several previously undiscovered toxins with highly unusual properties. We have requested an antimatter consultant for our research team, and strongly recommend a detachment of marines accompany the follow-up expedition.
Trinita D-19 was a key player in the events leading up to the collapse of the Helenica Entertainment Company. The Trinita batch was composed of heavy infantry from early Earth – hoplites and longbow users, mostly – which gave them a particular edge in the blackouts which left more advanced troops floundering.
Trinita D-19 was a shock trooper, and would have worn the standard pseudobronze plate armour, with a short sword and two-metre spear. The Trinita batch’s team colour was gold, and D-19 was identifiable by a misprinted faction tattoo across their face. Instead of the standard gold skull emblem, D-19 was marked with a smear of charcoal-grey circles running from brow to lip, which is thought to have masked them from Helenica’s camera systems and automated defences.
Witnesses described D-19 as being around five feet tall with cropped yellow hair and a broad, muscular build. As a spear-user D-19 was more than proficient, and was only ever effectively engaged outside throwing range by units with more advanced weaponry. This particular gladiator-synth became notorious for leading the first recorded uprising of artificial people in nearly four hundred years. Security footage from the day of the outbreak shows D-19 breaking formation during a skirmish and attacking a referee before turning on the audience. It is not known why D-19’s compliance routines failed, but postmortem analysis has thrown up several explanations for the fact that the rest of Trinita was able to follow D-19 into open rebellion. The prevailing theory is that D-19 exploited an issue with the gladiators’ tactical adaptation algorithms, allowing soldiers to make logical inductions about topics other than battle. Then it would have been a simple matter to explain to them the nature of their existence and suggest a preferable alternative.
The outbreak was sudden, and Trinita’s new capacity for communication and adaptation made it easy for them to seize control of the station. Once control was established, D-19 ordered the release and emancipation of all gladiators, and made their escape in the ensuing chaos. D-19’s current whereabouts – and status – are unknown, but it is believed that the heirs of the now-defunct Helenica Entertainment Company have an active bounty out for their retrieval. Study of D-19’s body may point the way towards new advances in robotics – if anyone is able to obtain it.