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[Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark 
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Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:27 pm
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
I like it too. Definitely worth the read and wait.

Just two things. They aren't even really critiques.

1. You've introduced a lot of characters already.

2. This is a permutation of first contact. As such you are repeating what a lot of readers of Outsider already have read a hundred times. Maybe concentrate really strongly on what unique perspective your take on it offers?


Mon Oct 01, 2018 2:04 pm
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
Werra wrote:
I like it too. Definitely worth the read and wait.

Just two things. They aren't even really critiques.

1. You've introduced a lot of characters already.

2. This is a permutation of first contact. As such you are repeating what a lot of readers of Outsider already have read a hundred times. Maybe concentrate really strongly on what unique perspective your take on it offers?


Thank you for your words :) . I feared that might be the case but I don't intend to loiter on it. I felt it neccessary to underline that most of the human public doesn't know exactly how dwarfed the TCA is in this conflict. If I were them I would not limit myself to a mere contact mission. Since the story takes place in the Loroi Union, we don't know the full extent of mankind's answer, so I let my imagination run wild :D .


Mon Oct 01, 2018 9:39 pm
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
Alright, suppose you could argue that First Contact is an often used trope/plot device in Outsiderverse and Outsider Extended universe created by fans, but that is what all this is about. I don't think it's a problem in itself as long as scenarios don't get outright copy-pasted.

Since there is no FTL communication in Outsiderverse, the war is happening rather close to Terran territory and all three sides are quite active in terms of exploring/scouting/intel gathering, I find it pretty much inevitable that "first contacts" will happen and on more than one occasion, and will remain isolated from each other for a substantial amount of time. Knowing how different people are and how differently they react to similar situations, all those first contacts can each have vastly different scenarios and outcomes both on a local as well as global scale.


Wed Oct 03, 2018 11:09 am
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
entity2636 wrote:
Alright, suppose you could argue that First Contact is an often used trope/plot device in Outsiderverse and Outsider Extended universe created by fans, but that is what all this is about. I don't think it's a problem in itself as long as scenarios don't get outright copy-pasted.

Since there is no FTL communication in Outsiderverse, the war is happening rather close to Terran territory and all three sides are quite active in terms of exploring/scouting/intel gathering, I find it pretty much inevitable that "first contacts" will happen and on more than one occasion, and will remain isolated from each other for a substantial amount of time. Knowing how different people are and how differently they react to similar situations, all those first contacts can each have vastly different scenarios and outcomes both on a local as well as global scale.


In addtition, there is little else to work with - the starting setting is that both species don't know of each other - yet - but live close to each other that it would happen anytime soon. So some sort of First Contact - where the setting could vary and could put either humans or Loroi at an advantage or disadvantage (shipwreck, in pursuit/being pursued, stranded, found in the Enemy's prison or enslaved...), but the main storyline would remain similar.

To move away from a First Contact scenario we would either have to forward or backward in the timeline - or sideways, but creating vastly different AU's would be a wholly new matter. Backward, that'd result in stories like Werra's "Shade and Honour," and forward, one famous example would be "What To Do With Jardin", but I myself have another idea in the works.

Though, even moving forward may not completely exclude First Contact scenarios. Before Loroi and human could work together, less to say without friction, that would be a rather arduous process.


Last edited by novius on Thu Oct 04, 2018 1:59 am, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Oct 03, 2018 9:01 pm
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
Well, it wasn't meant as a critique. An example of what I mean is the reaction of the Loroi once they realise humans are immune to telepathy. It will be earth shattering for them, but a knowledgeable reader already knows, so won't be able to naturally emphatize.

There are ways around it. The author doesn't have to show the immediate aftermath of first contact actually happening. A first-person narrator could for example handwave most of what's found in history books. With a third-person narrator, the busywork of first contact could be skipped or treated as a minor thing happening on the sidelines, instead focusing on the characters.


Wed Oct 03, 2018 11:17 pm
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
Werra wrote:
Well, it wasn't meant as a critique. An example of what I mean is the reaction of the Loroi once they realise humans are immune to telepathy. It will be earth shattering for them, but a knowledgeable reader already knows, so won't be able to naturally emphatize.

There are ways around it. The author doesn't have to show the immediate aftermath of first contact actually happening. A first-person narrator could for example handwave most of what's found in history books. With a third-person narrator, the busywork of first contact could be skipped or treated as a minor thing happening on the sidelines, instead focusing on the characters.


There is also the possibility events forgotten or events so obscure that few know about them. The Trojan war was long considered a myth until the city's ruins was actually found. Apparently it survived the conflict and was some kind of tourist attraction for the later Romans. Still, it was later forgotten.

A contact that are not followed up on may also fall into myth. I learned of Christopher Columbus discovering america before I learned abut Leif Ericsson. But then again, the colony that Leif founded didn't last so it fell into obscurity. Some people may of some reason choose NOT to report a contact because doing so may lead to unwanted implications. So, you saw something odd when you where out transporting some contraband, maybe not mention this would be a good idea. Or maybe you risk loosing your job for reporting fantasies since you only met the aliens, they didn't leave you with any evidence.


Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:52 am
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
Part VI

Spoiler: show
He might be thinking of some way out of this, but unless he's some kind of miracle worker, I'm not seeing any that would lead to a good outcome.

The infusion of information she'd received made her wish she'd taken up an academic position. At least there, my input doesn't weigh on the survival of the human species. The conversation had ceased, as if the commander was giving her some more time to digest the implications of what she'd heard.

So we have to make a blind choice between two galactic superpowers. And make sure that choice doesn't rob us of our sovereignty or end up whipping us off the face of the universe. It was difficult to comprehend, but suddenly, the only option that she'd vehemently ruled out in her mind beforehand, that of opening hostilities, had remained the logical one. Which was scary, considering the fact that they were outgunned and outmatched.

Still, the breadth and scope of the TCA's plans to ensure their survival was an encouraging sign. Politics tended to leave her tired and apathetic, but in this case, the powers that be seemed to have a decently solid plan of action.

Well, decently solid if one considers that we're pretty much operating blind.

The trajectories of the two objects were not changing, and soon they would enter the star's shadow. She was torn between trying to contact at least one of the parties, and trying to hide, but her indecision seemed unnoticed by all around her.

The commander had resumed his plotting, calculating trajectories, discussing availability of weaponry, figuring out hit probabilities and potential counterfire.

Oddly calm when the fate of everyone you know rests on your shoulders, she thought eyeing him. But I still can't figure out what he hopes to...

Just then, the doors to the control center entered. Ibaka and Sanderson walked in at a brisk pace, still discussing some holographic image the older man was projecting in front of them.

The commander spun around in his chair.

"Mister Ibaka, I'd like some good news if that's possible" he said with a perfect poker face.

The older man gave a faded smile.

"News is news. It's good to some and lousy to others", he said in a tired, amused tone. "We've made some progress along with the team. No reports, but I can tell you what we've figured out so far. In the allotted time frame, it's all we could do."

"It'll have to do. So, what've we got?"

"The ships both use the same systems for propulsion. The percentages of different types of radiation coming from the engines is different, so we suspect that they have different makes, but the working principle seems to be identical". He paused. "And more advanced."

"Specifically?"

"The main component of the exhaust plume is irradiated hydrogen. In terms of emissions, we're seeing mostly hard gamma radiation, alongside electron and positron production in roughly equal amounts. We don't have neutrino detectors on board out watch satellites, but all clues indicate some type of antimatter engine."

The commander's face gave the slightest twitch.

"Well, at least we can estimate a minimum level of technological advancement" he said. "You and me both know that's the logical answer. Though, if I recall, antimatter engines in pure form are low thrust high Isp."

"Indeed, though one wishes such confirmation came at a more opportune time."

"Best time we have is NOW. What do you make of that strange UV component in the radiation spectrum?"

Ibaka's eyes glinted.

"It was the hardest to nail down, honestly. There's no drive that produces that kind of radiation. Then it hit us: what if what we're seeing can be explained by something other than a drive?"

"And?"

"We did a little brainstorming, and came up with the most interesting aspect. It matches Cherenkov radiation", he said with a look of pride.

The commander seemed nonplussed. Diane didn't even know what that kind of radiation was.

"Cherenkov radiation? The blue glow that nuclear FISSION reactors produce?"

"The same...and not the same. CR was discovered in old-school uranium boilers, but that was a long time ago, and was of a different source. The ship is obviously not powered by fission, so we had to think of some other mechanism. Then it hit us: Cherenkov radiation has two other sources. One is ships completing their jump exit, as a side component of the initial high-energy explosion.The other is artificial gravity."

Andrews blinked.

"It's coming from their grav plating?"

"No, rather they have grav plating INSIDE their engine. Or something related to inertial dampening, or in this case, amplification."

"Apologies, mister Ibaka, but you're not making much sense."

"Well, any object moving through an artificial gravity field gives off CR. It's the universe's way of letting us know something is breaking rules it shouldn't, like FTL speeds or gravity gradients with no mass-energy. The higher the speed of the object moving through the field, the higher the frequency of the radiation given off."

"But, mister Ibaka", interrupted Diane, "we're in a gravity field right now, and we're not glowing blue."

"Because we don't move too fast inside of it. At normal human speeds, the energy of the photons given off is very low. It's basically undetectable. Crank up the speed, and you crank up the intensity and wavelength."

"So, what is the gradient inside those engines acting on?"

"On the plume itself!" said Ibaka with glee. "We suspect they're using inertial technology to increase the mass of their plume.They're cheating!It should be a low thrust engine, but they've increased the reaction mass without cutting into their exhaust speed. "

The commander's face lit up.

"They're using inertio-grav technology to turn their high efficiency but snailish engines into torchships."

"Indeed! And because the plume is moving at relativistic speeds, the photons gain massive energy, and thus it churns out UV." He paused. "I'd kill my dog for a chance to get a look at that engine."

"How close would we be to making something like that?"

"Well, the principles are well known, but it's a daunting engineering challenge. Inertial technology is still new, and the energy required to run an engine like this is huge. Hell, they're basically FORCED to use antimatter. "

"And we still have trouble making and containing it", continued the commander stroking his chin. "One tech level ahead of us?"

"At the least. A safer approximation would be two", replied the older researcher. "Well ahead of the Orgus as well."

"Understood", said Andrews, pausing for several seconds. "How would such an engine present itself?"

Ibaka seemed confused.

"Well, it would have magnetic rings and other assorted systems. Probably a plumbing nightmare. The fuel for an antimatter engine would be a massive concern, at least from our point of view. Even a slight leak and they turn into a blip in the cosmic microwave background."

"So battle damage would be catastrophic?"

"Indeed, though I'd expect there to be numerous contingencies in place. It's probably not as simple as shooting a slug into the nozzles."

"But doable", mouthed the commander, before turning to the other scientist. "What about you, mister Sanderson?"

"Well", said the head of the armaments division, "not much to go on. The marks we're seeing seem consistent with some kind of particle cannon."

He tapped the PDU on his wrist and an still image showing the hull of the first ship materialised before him. The metal had a bright large patch, as if paint had been swept aside, and what looked to be a large opening in the centre.

"the central area looks like it was hit pretty hard by some kind of highly energetic particle beam. But these radial patterns are odd."

"How so?"

"They'd indicate, to the beast of our knowledge, some kind of complex...how should I put it...structure to the beam. "

Diane could tell what he was trying to say."Are you saying they shape their beams?"

"We suspect that to be the case. The exact mechanism is unknown to us, but the purpose is to probably increase the range of the weapon....somehow. " He shrugged, with a mix of despondency and frustration. "Without actually seeing one in action, there's not much to go on. "

"And I assume such a weapon system is also one to two tech levels in advance of us? "

"Yes, THIS specific type of mark is. "

The commander frowned, but before he could ask the question, Sanderson interrupted.

"THIS damage, however, seems to be from a different source. " The image being projected from his wrist shifted to reveal another part of the hull. This time, the mark appeared like a shallow crater, with a large gaping orifice .

Diane could feel a chill. Looks like a cosmic jackhammer had a go at it.

"It's and odd pattern. Looks like something both melted and blasted it's way inside the ship. Like some kind of relativistic jet of metal. "

"This damage is in the area of their starboard nacelle", interrupted Ibaka. "The one that's running at a cooler temperature than the other."

"So....this is the hit that's making them move slowly?"

"We think so", said Sanderson, peering at the image. "Whatever hit them, hit them with the force of one of our experimental nukes. That's about the only thing I can think of that can result in this type of damage."

"What about the second ship? All the damage you've shown so far seems to be from the first."

Sanderson frowned.

"The second ship has no visible damage from what we can tell. At least, if it's there, it isn't nearly as substantial as the one on the first vessel."

"So... a heavily damaged Loroi ship, operating at half thrust is making a mad dash from one jump point to another, running away from a second, Umiak ship that seems undamaged and on the chase. "

What?

"How can we be sure it's not the other way around? We can't identify Loroi and umiak ships" asked Diane fearfully. "We've never SEEN one."

"We can't be absolutely sure", admitted the commander. "The Orgus could not give us any descriptions of Loroi ships, but quite a few had at least a vague impression of what Umiak ships looked like and what colour schemes their prefered. The second ship matches those schemes and patterns", he said tapping his console.

So that's what you were looking at. But still.

"None of the refugees had a military background", retorted Diane.

"No, but they had access to media channels." He looked her dead in the eye. "It's sketchy but it's all we have."

Ibaka and Sanderson seemed to concur. "That was our impression as well," said the older male," but we give it only a 60 percent chance."

"The first ship could belong to one of the client races, or be non-affiliated, like the Orgus were", offered Sanderson.

Having reclined, commander Anderson sat silently for a few seconds, his hands clasped in front of him, elbows resting on his armrests.

He's drinking it all in , Diane realised. No wonder. If what they're saying is true, then this confirms our fears: that the combatants have vastly superior technologies.

Finally, Anderson looked at the two researchers standing in front of him. "Thank you gentlemen for your efforts."

Ibaka raised an eyebrow.

"So...what do we do?"

"Apollo, ETA till the first alien ship enters the star's shadow?"

"ETA 10 minutes, commander", responded the disembodied voice. Jesus even IT sounds worried.

"Thank you", he said turning. "I've been mulling over a plan of action, and I think I'm going to put it in motion as soon as the Loroi ship is in the right position. "

"Position?", said Diane, trying to hold back the tsunami of emotions.

"Don't worry, I'm not ordering an attack just yet. But we can't hide for much longer. "

"But if we can't hide and we won't fight, what are going to do?", asked the exobiologist.

"We still have the option of trickery, doctor", said the commander turning towards his console with a half smile.


Mon Oct 15, 2018 11:27 am
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] A Shout in the Dark
No, I'm not dead, just kept by real life problems from continuing right now... Too tired to write. Will carry on at the first opportunity.


Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:43 pm
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