ROB [Designate Threat Level: Extreme], I decided, was two things.
First, he was dick.
Second, he was a pretty cool guy [Contradictory statements]. Or gal, or whatever. I'll call ROB he for the sake of ease, but I guess I'll probably never know [Statement: agreement].
I woke up covered in lava [Volcanic Rock at Temp: 1582 C], which, despite what you may be thinking, wasn't quite as bad as I had expected it to be [Agreement: Structural integrity sufficient to resist direct contact with Lava].
Alright, no. Stop that. [Unknown parameters: Stop What?] That! This is my damn log, stop interjecting. Or record it in a different file, at least, just stop interjecting here. [Command received: Interjection stopping.]
Thank you. Now where was I?
Oh yes, Lava. Lava was fun. It was hot, it burned, it oozed, it melted the paint right off my body. My beautiful, beautiful blue coating.
Right, Lava. In complete contrary to my own expectations, no, the Lava did not hurt. This may have had something to do with the fact that I found myself in a new body, a metal body.
A giant metal body, to be exact.
ROB is a dick.
However, when I wake up inside of the body of a Delta Commander, I think I can forgive him for it.
And holy shit, Delta Commander. So many nice things about it. Such an advanced example of technology, so utterly beautiful. I could see the micro-circuitry within every single part of the body -MY body-, saw how it all fit together. I could see the connections, measured right down to the Attometers, electrical pathways formed by stretches is molecules, structural plating and armor that was utterly perfect, not a single atom out of place where rigid, yet extremely durable and flexible where such pieces were required.
I'm not joking, or even exaggerating here. My sensors were so advanced that I was fully capable of monitoring every single atom in my body, all at once, backed up by enough processing power to do so ten thousand times over.
Also not an exaggeration. The world seemed a crawl with the hardware my mind was running on, so much so that I'd only just begun to move my arm upwards before I figured out how to slow down my perception. Subjective eternities, seconds, microseconds, nanoseconds; each certainly seemed to last forever.
An outside observer, one more limited than I would have noted that less than 5 seconds had actually passed, but since no such observer existed I was free to wax poetical as much as I damn well liked, and if someone ever accesses these logs then I guess they just have to deal with it.
Moving on; this planet is what I must describe as hell. It took a while to free myself from the lava, mostly because solid ground is pretty rare and has this tendency to crumble when I tried to move onto it. Which may have been because I'm a 15 meter tall robot, appropriately weighted, but that was an aside.
It took a bit, but I eventually did find some solid ground, large enough for myself, as well as quite a bit of extra. There was even a good metal spot nearby, where the concentration was high enough, and stable enough, to actually be useful.
Can you tell I've been browsing through the records I have access to? 'Cause I have been, and let me tell ya, there is a hell of a lot of stuff in there. Like, eclipsing the combined information of the human race, by several yottabytes. Lots and lots of information. Not much variety, and historical information basically wasn't, but a lot of raw data anyway.
Like the planet I'm on. Exapol, a metal-rich previously dead world targeted for terraformation, before a logistics failure and minor case of existential war caused the Terraformers to ratchet up the global heat. Most of the planet is made out of lava now, so I can take a guess as to how well that went. Apparently, the only reason the planet isn't made entirely out of lava is because the Terraformers weren't armored with military grade plating, and had eventually all gone offline either when they'd been submerged and destroyed, or the generators powering them were.
Which meant that there were still a few around. Should look into that, actually.
I don't think I had those designs in my database. I spent half a moment checking, and the answer is no. I don't.
Meh. I can get it later.
Solid ground! It's glorious. Fun. No more lava. No more standing in lava, rather. Still lava everywhere else.
There was a metal spot here, so I took the opportunity to activate my fabrication subsystems and plunk down a metal extractor.
Heh. Somewhere in the galaxy, a Delta Commander builds a Metal Extractor.
Metal Extractor is ridiculously advanced, too. Military grade plating, thinner than mine but still damn resilient; a power core that sent the laws of thermodynamics to the time-out corner; the mining system used some kind of advanced gravitic/magnetic manipulation, pulling metal straight out of mantle; some kind of stealth system, covering radar, sonar, gravitational, electromagnetic and visual masking, as well as something else that I'm 98% certain doesn't have a name in the Human language for it, or, for that matter, has been discovered by the Human race; and most importantly, some kind of hyper-spatial/sub-spatial mass-energy transit system, depositing the materials it pulled up directly into my storage system with an utterly lossless transmission.
So yeah, bullshit. Perhaps a bit over-engineered for its intended purpose, but these things were cheap as chips and just as common, so I wasn't going to complain.
I plunked down an Energy Generator right next to it, saving on space. So limited was the amount of space I had, I'd completely used up the rest of it for a Air Factory moments later.
Both were advanced systems, naturally. The Generator was little more than a much larger power core put into a chassis, with the same cadre of stealth and transit systems that the extractor had, but hey, it worked.
The Factory also had the stealth and transit systems, as well as a bunch of protocrafters for building things.
I started off with a Firefly, a tiny, fast, fragile little plane whose purpose was scouting.
I'd called Extractors cheap, but these things were even cheaper. I built 5 of them and they barely took a drop out of my supply.
Much cheap. Very good.
Sensor system on them was pretty good, too, for their price. Speed, too. 3 minutes was enough time for them to map out my entire surrounding ten kilometers, and they didn't stop there.
Lava everywhere, as expected. I built a few Fabricators, the somewhat oddly designed planes my only choice for reaching the rest of the planet if I didn't want to take another bath in boiling lava.
I built more scouts just because I could, the factory assisted by both myself and my half dozen Fabricators. It wasn't like I was doing anything else with that metal, after all.
Much metal. Very nice.
By the time that my Fireflies had found another spot of solid ground large enough for me to build on, my fleet of planes had grown to 56.
I sent my Fabricators off over there, with orders to build up on the three available metal deposits, as well as build a couple Energy Generators and, most importantly, a Teleporter.
In the meantime, I began to deconstruct my Air Factory, then begin to replace it with a Teleporter over here.
Teleporters! Ridiculously fucking cheap for what they did. Requiring only the full output of a meager two Generators to keep it open permanently, too.
So long as there was a Teleporter at the receiving end, anyway. If there wasn't, that 'two Generators' multiplied into 'two million'. Which suddenly wasn't nearly as daunting a prospect as I thought it would be, actually.
I noted my Fabricators finish the teleporter on their end, so I connected them and let them go, watching them spin, gather energy and break space-time over their metaphorical and completely non-existent knees.
Suck it, StarGate.
It never quite sets in in the games, given the complete lack of scale between planets and… well, everything else, but Commanders work fast. Now that I had a somewhat higher income, I'd promptly built up so quickly I ran out of space again.
I had 5 Fabricators working on an Advanced Air Factory (To be henceforth known as T2 Air Factory), something that was utterly tanking my economy, both Metal and Energy wise, but was close enough to finished and had what I needed that I could accept that.
Need a Transport. And some Advanced Fabricators, which would be a nice multiplier on my economy.
But the Transport first. Not only because it was cheap enough to not matter, but because it was capable of carrying me, which is quite useful since Teleporters take up quite a bit of space.
One of my Fireflies detected a Terraformer before. It's still on, sitting on mostly metallic ground that isn't hot enough to turn to lava. It's still outputting immense amounts of heat, which is pretty impressive, since what little records I have access to indicate that it would have been active for well over 2000 years by this point.
Progenitors built to last, I guess.
I sent my sixth Fabricator to it when I detected it. Going to see if I can't capture it and get its designs.
In the meantime, I built up as much as I could.
View in Thread
Fabricator arrived at the Terraformer. Terraformer is old.
Like, stretching at 4000 years old. Twice as much as my records indicated.
It's been active the entire time, just continuously outputting heat. Power cores, it seems, don't run out. I guess the planet's been radiating the heat away enough that the Terraformers are only keeping the global temperatures at the current point.
I had the Fabricator capture it. 'Capture' being a fancy word for sending assimilating nanites into its systems and taking over everything.
It's out of date, obviously a relic of a time before myself. Its internals aren't nearly as precise, as defined and efficient as the ones in my body, as well as everything I build. My nanites had taken control of it in minutes, only taking so long because of the sheer size of the thing.
It's nearly 3 kilometers tall. What that says about both my nanites and how long it's been active, I'm not entirely sure about, aside from impressive.
I now have a copy of this Terraformer design in my database, so I could start building it if I want to. I don't want to, it's large and expensive, and I have nowhere near the space I need for it.
As a side note, its repair systems have kept it in perfect condition for the better part of 4000 years. Including, much to my delight, its memory systems.
It's pretty barren, actually. There's data stretching back 4000 years, ever since the thing was actually built, but most of that data is just that; data.
There's data on the Terraformation, as well as a lot of data from what sensor networks used to be here, before most of it were destroyed thanks to lava. There apparently used to be an Orbital and Deepspace Radar (To henceforth be shortened to Orbital Radar) here, because I have a lot of data about the solar system I'm in. Data a couple thousand years out of date, but data nonetheless.
Data that doesn't match what my own Orbital Radar is picking up.
Exapol, according to the data in the Terraformer, should be orbiting a gas giant, along with its moon, Hexapod (Who named these things, anyway?), in a binary star system.
My Orbital Radar shows that Exapol is orbiting a Red Dwarf Star. With nothing else in it.
And if that isn't indication of ROB interference, I don't know what is.
I reset the Terraformer I... 'indefinitely borrowed' to bring the temperature down again. It works surprisingly quickly, drawing in heat and converting it directly into usable energy, energy which is being dumped into my systems.
As a side note, Energy Generators are fully capable of working in reverse, bending the laws of thermodynamics the other way and literally destroying energy. I hadn't realised it was capable of that until I hit my maximum storage and one of my Generators flipped its mode and started removing the energy gained from the Terraformer.
Suck it, thermodynamics.
But yeah, the Progenitors just really did not give a shit about physics. And to think that all of this is after the Commanders lost most of their technological data.
Progenitors are bullshit. As is right and proper of any vaguely defined precursor race that leaves behind such ridiculously advanced examples of technology like Commanders.
I digress. Back to the Terraformer, it works quickly enough that a lot of the lava around it has re-solidified, leaving a nice, big, circular space for me. Space which I am perfectly eager to use and abuse.
Namely with an Orbital Launcher. I didn't have one before because I was choosing between it and the T2 Air Factory, and I chose the latter to get my economy up a tad bit more.
But first, Teleporter. I really do love those things.
The Fabricator takes a bit to actually build the thing, not helped by the fact that I have an T2 Fabricator building at the same time with 5 other Fabricators assisting the T2 Air Factory building it, but it finishes it soon after the T2 Fabricator does.
I take the opportunity jump over to the Terraformer when it completes, idly setting the T2 Fabricator behind me to build T2 Metal Extractors, then to build an T2 Power Generator over here.
Economy. Love it.
Economy. Really love it.
I have power! And Metal!
Supported by T2 Metal Extractors and T2 Power Generators, I am smoothly moving towards actually getting where I want to be.
Not here. Surrounded by Lava.
What to do after that, though?
Well, what could I do?
The answer was just about anything I wanted. The universe was the limit, every star was within my reach if I was willing to wait long enough to get there.
Oh wow, that's a heady feeling.
No, no, back on track. It's never that easy. ROB probably would have thrown something at me, he always does that in the stories. 98% chance he did that.
Even if he didn't, better to prepare and not need it, than need it and not have prepared it. Or however that saying goes. Don't know, its been a while since I've heard it.
Right, first things first; figure out what horrible thing that ROB threw at me/did to me.
After I get off the planet. Or at least deal with the lava.
The less I have to deal with all this god damned lava, the better.
I have it! It's glorious!
Good news; The Terraformer in my possession has left me with a lot of space.
Bad news; I've hit the point of diminishing returns. Planet is hot, and a lot of the other Terraformers are still online according to the data I got from this Terraformer.
Gooder news; I know where those Terraformers are now.
Badder news; They're all pretty far away.
Best news; I can get there.
Worst news; I was going to be waiting a while.
And by a while, I mean 20 or so minutes. Which isn't that long at all, really, I'm just being dramatic.
Using my shiny new Orbital Launcher, I constructed 11 Astraeus (Astrae? Don't know if that has a plural), loaded them up with a bunch of T2 Fabricators, then sent them off. No friction in space.
Astraeus were quite fast, when going round the world.
I also now have a shiny new Orbital Fabricator, and a new Orbital Factory. I've set the latter to be churning out Solar Arrays, Radar satellites, Avengers and more Orbital Fabricators.
The Solar Arrays are, despite the sun not being all that luminous, doing wonderful things to my energy income.
The rest are doing horrible things to my Metal income. I can tell because I don't have any.
I've had my T1 Fabricators building Extractors, but solid land is few and far between, with metal spots being correspondingly rare. There is such a thing as too much lava and we have clearly passed that point.
There's a few T2 Fabricators following them for building T2 Extractors, but, well, too much lava. Progress is slow and income is slower.
Getting there, though.
Once the other Terraformers are captured, that should be a bit easier. If only because I won't have to deal with so much lava.
I would have to build other Terraformers though, if I actually wanted an even planet-wide temperature drop instead of dropping at 12 localised points.
Oh well, I could deal with that.
One by one, each Terraformer was captured. Planet is barren, nothing living aside from myself, nothing active or trying to stop me.
The data in each Terraformer was the same, right up until the point where I had captured them. These things were networked together, and had registered the others being removed from the network.
They hadn't registered them continuing to operate under my control, nor any of the things networked to them.
There were still a few Generators laying around here and there, supplying the power to each of them. I captured those and, though the design was old and less efficient, saved it to my databases just incase.
One of them had been at an 80 degree angle, the ground tipped sideways to put it on the edge of falling into a lake of Lava, though it was just stable enough that the Terraformer could support its own weight. The change in angle hadn't interfered in its operation at all, both when it was heating up the environment, and when it was cooling it down in my hands.
Three of the Terraformers were in close proximity, all exactly ten kilometers away from each other, forming a triangle. All three of them were sitting on metal rich ground, spanning the entire ground below them, basically the only reason that all of them hadn't been buried in lava, the metal in question not quite being hot enough to reach the melting points. Given that it was a fairly solid mass of tungsten, intermixed with titanium and iridium, that wasn't too surprising. That the entire mass hadn't sunk further into the ground was, however, which I suspect was owed to the rough shape of the mass, sort of like a bowl.
Oh well, it wasn't in danger of collapse any more. Not when most of the lava around it was re-solidified. Especially not when I fully intended to mine the fuck out of it, because there is a fuckton of metal deposits over there.
So much so that I had my three T2 Fabricators build Air Factories to assist with building on that area quicker. And enough that I temporarily stopped my Orbital Factory from constructing simply to free up the metal for more rapid construction.
There was a lot, and I wanted it. That was that.
And it really was that simple.
So, SB came down and ruined my Schedule.
Remember how I said that Terraformers were expensive? Yeah, they're expensive.
I'd done as much as I could to cut down on that cost. I'd removed a lot of the armor plating, replaced a lot of the internal machinery with newer and more efficient designs, more or less copied from my own army, stripped away a lot of now extraneous metal and had even taken a knife into the larger and clunky transit and network systems. I'd taken almost half the cost off, yet it was still hideously expensive.
I could only do that by speeding up my perception again, digging deep into the technology database and perusing the knowledge, running the tower in a simulated planet, changing minute parts, large parts, swapping systems and editing designs, over and over and over and over again, until I finally hit what I wanted, spending what seemed like several eternities to get there. I kept the original design, though I probably wasn't going to use it, ever.
I'd been satisfied, right up until I'd actually tried to build the damn thing and promptly destroyed my Metal economy.
Gotta admit, it looked awesome as fuck though. Starting out as a green wireframe across the ground, spreading out as an entire fleet of T2 Fabricators spat green nano-clouds at it, before the base of the Terraformer had formed and the wireframe began to stretch upwards into the sky. Even more awesome was watching as the Terraformer as a whole filled out, the internal structure and external armor appearing meter by meter, spreading upwards and upwards until it finished, then activating with a powerful hum.
It was pretty fucking cool.
The six minute build time on it, though. That wasn't cool. I simply didn't have enough Metal stored up, and my Extractor's output didn't stand a chance in hell on keeping up with that.
Which was why I was 'fixing' that. Mainly by covering several square kilometers of land top to bottom with closely packed Metal Storages. It wouldn't improve my income at all, but it would allow me to store enough that I could simply build a Terraformer straight up once I stored up enough mass for it.
One Terraformer down, millions to go. Planets were big, who knew?
I wasn't that patient.
There is a curious lack of bad things happening to me. I'm not sure if that's really a good thing or not, mostly because I would have expected something to happen by now. And yet, nothing. I haven't suddenly been invaded by an enemy I didn't see coming, nor has what progress I'm making been disrupted by anything other than a lack of space.
Perhaps too quiet.
Exapol had this nice little thing called a moon. I'm pretty sure that I noted that before, but it was important. Mainly because a moon meant metal deposits, and lots of open space.
Hexapod had also been a marked target for colonisation, though the moon was too small to maintain an atmosphere on its own. The Progenitors hadn't bothered to fix that, and had instead simply thrown down a few domed cities on the moon.
Cities that were, according to my Radar satellite orbiting Hexapod, completely nonexistent.
There were no ruins, no battle scars, no disturbances on the moon that indicated that they might have ever been there in the first place.
Given that Exapol was nowhere near where it should have been, I'm going to take a wild guess and assume that Hexapod didn't get taken along for the ride.
Meh. Oh well, more convenient for me.
An Astraeus settled into orbit of the moon, descending to deposit a T2 Fabricator to the surface.
There was a metal deposit nearby, but that could come later. First things first, T2 Air Factory.
Not quite as cheap as its counterparts in the Bot and Vehicle factories, but I considered the Fabricators superior in just about every way, so…
The Air Factory finished not too long later, the T2 Fabricator immediately moving on to another Factory right beside it, which was joined by another T2 Fabricator soon after.
When that one was complete, the now 5 planes moved on to another one, directly above it.
The process repeated for a final time on a fourth Factory next to it by 9 planes.
None of the 4 Factories stopped, all continuously pumping out more and more T2 Fabricators, each one moving off into a different direction, most heading towards Metal deposits, to begin construction on Metal Extractors.
Some lingered nearby, planting down T2 Energy Generators, Radar and, you guessed it, more Air Factories.
Want to know something interesting?
There's a couple protocols that survived the Commanders being shut down. Protocols I have access too, in my memory core.
Now, all of them have some fun names, but the one that's most immediately interesting and relevant is quite simple, with a name of thus:
And doesn't that sound fun?
I can't wait to see the results.
I can already see the results. I mean, shit, Commanders work fast but... wow. It's barely been two hours and I can see it.
Oh, no, not from my connections with the von-neumanning fleet of Fabricators. Though I could certainly see the results through that, I meant differently.
By differently, I meant that I could literally, physically see the results. With my own optics, in my body.
Hexapod used to look a pale red to my optics. A growing spot on it was a steel grey now, standing out quite starkly on the rest of the moon, and against space. The fleet of Fabricators up there numbered at the hundreds of thousands, churning out more and more and more by an ever growing number of Factories, with an ever-growing number of Energy Generators and Mass Extractors to support it.
My economy had grown so much I was struggling to actually use it. Exapol was host to its own Fabricator fleets, which had been growing almost non-stop. Most of which were being thrown at Terraformers, because those were the only things that were actually using it quick enough to matter.
I had a bunch of those now. Lots and lots and lots. Hundreds, placed along an expanding, triangular network, each one 10 kilometers away, forming equilateral triangles. Found something interesting there, too, if I extrapolate such a network over the entire planet, each point lines up perfectly, with the planet looking much like this:
Except, you know, with more triangles.
All the other Terraformers match up to points on this network, too.
Good 'ol Progenitors. Making everything nice and neat.
Except for the lava, anyway.
Have I mentioned how much I hate lava? No, don't answer that, rhetorical question.
By the fourth hour, most of Hexapod now appeared a steel grey, with little left of the original red. Say what you will about, but an exponentially expanding economy is a hell of a thing. Mere hours to turn entire planets into fortresses, certainly something that Commanders were good at.
Probably what they were designed for, actually. For all their advanced technology in… well, basically every area, the Progenitors had one… I hesitate to call it 'flaw', but it's certainly an area where they were more limited than most, that area being FTL.
They had it, but it suffered from a lot of the same problems, and benefited from a lot of the same advantages, as the Quantum Gates in Supreme Commander; namely that it was big and energy intensive.
Or, at least, that's what I'd gathered from what information I had access to.
I said it before, but I'll reiterate. Teleporters could connect to other teleporters and allow a typical Stargate method of working, which was cheap enough -energy wise- that it could be powered by a mere two T1 generators so long as you were in the same solar system.
Further, it was possible to rig the Teleporter to open a portal anywhere, though doing so ramped the cost up 1 million times over. I said before how I'd need 2 million T1 Generators, but that was an exaggeration. The actual number of them I'd need was 1,666,667 Generators, which, going by game numbers, would supply 1,000,000,200 units of energy. Not sure how much energy that actually is, though I'm sure I could test it later.
I'd hit, and surpassed, that output a while ago, actually, thanks to Hexapod being slowly covered with T2 generators, alongside the Solar Arrays that I'd been producing.
Anyway, problems. For the first 50 or so Astronomical Units, that energy cost was relatively constant. It gets somewhat higher as you go further out, but not particularly meaningfully so. After that 50 or so, the cost begins to rise exponentially, until the cost simply gets so utterly prohibitive that it'd take less time simply sending a Commander over there to build a new Teleporter and energy support for it than it would to build new Energy Generators to power the existing one.
The mass of what is being sent through isn't as much of a problem thanks to the nature of the portal, though one should naturally be wary of sending particularly large or long objects through if they didn't have enough energy to keep it open. I'd tested that before; fabricated a pole of metal, stuck it halfway through the portal and disengaged the Teleporter. Portal Cuts abound.
A lot of those problems got mitigated when there was a Teleporter on the receiving end, but there was a minor problem of teleporters only being able to connect to each other over a distance of about twenty light years, although it was possible to bounce that connection further with Teleporters in between them. During the Progenitor's days, preceding the Commanders, there was apparently such a network spanning every single Celestial Body they'd ever come across, a network that suffered great losses first from the Century War with the Xziphid Hegemony, and then further destroyed throughout the Pro-Com War. According to my data, anyway.
The one problem that couldn't be mitigated was the resource network. The systems being used to facilitate it had a flat range of 5 AU, which were capable of bouncing and expanding from everything accessing that network. It was possible to link buildings 5 AU away from each other in a line, which was pretty good for expanding economy networks of solar systems.
Not so good when trying to expand into new solar system, where you wouldn't have the benefit of that economy connection. There was, thankfully, a communication system that worked across such distances, but linking economies? Not a chance.
Which wasn't quite as much of a problem as you think it would be, for a simple reason.
Commanders aren't unique.
Well, they are, but- What I mean is that Commanders are fully capable of being built like everything else in their army. I have my own designs in my database, so if I really wanted to I could build more Commanders. The reason you don't see them god-damned everywhere is because Commanders aren't cheap, and for the costs involved, aren't effective combat units.
They're vanguards. For invasion, their purpose is to be sent in, alone or in small teams, then build up and up and up until they lock down the entire system. A sweeping, exponentially growing horde of Commanders meant to lock down everything and build up enough that the Xziphid Hegemony would never be able to strike at the Progenitor Coalition ever again.
They succeeded in that task.
Later, in the Pro-Com War, before the advent of NEST -the super weapon which shut down the Commanders-, that tendency backfired when anybody attempted to strike at anybody. Trying to take singular solar systems was an immense, powerful effort, and a logistic nightmare. Paradigm changers soon appeared in the form of Metal Planets and the Annihilaser, but then the MLA copied that and did it right back to the Progenitors.
Or maybe I'm wrong and everything I've pieced together from my memory core so far is completely inaccurate, but if I lived my life constantly doubting everything I'd never get anywhere.
I have run out of space again. Hexapod is now a big steel grey ball of industry and economy, interspersed with defense and more than a few Halleys. That the facilities required to smash moons into other celestial bodies were automatically included in Planetary Assimilation protocols didn't, for some reason, surprise me one bit.
Exapol is now host and home to thousands of Terraformers, sapping away at the immense heat of the planet and slowly cooling the surface.
I'm getting metal faster than I can spend it, now. The Extractors stop functioning whenever I hit my limit, which is usually in a few short seconds after another Terraformer is constructed.
The ground simply isn't cooling fast enough for me to plunk them down quick enough to get a net drain.
Can't simply build on the lava because the temperature is high enough that it destroys the nanobots before they can bond together and form the armor and structures needed to survive it. Too large and too fragile to simply build the structure elsewhere and plunk it down, especially since it actually wouldn't survive the heat.
More or less stuck waiting unless I can figure out a way to do that.
Well, not like I had anything better to do.
If I've learned anything over the last time I modified the Terraformer's design, it's that I am a terrible designer.
In my opinion, that hadn't changed.
Lots of things tried, so many of them failures. Each one in often more amusing ways than the last.
For starters, I'd considered orbital dropping. Mostly because dropping 3 kilometer long towers on whatever I wanted had a very odd yet very powerful appeal to me. Can't even begin to imagine why.
In preamble, I really just have to say that simulations are useful. No records left of my failures, that way.
One of the first things I did, in said simulations, was to build the Terraformer in orbit and let it drop. If you're familiar with Kerbal Space Program, you could probably guess what happened next, but if you're not, then I'll sum it up with the words 'Catastrophic Failure'.
It was pretty cool to watch, actually. A tall, relatively thin Terraformer slowly falling into the atmosphere of the planet, helped along by gravity and a few minor nudges by Avengers, picking up speed while the the first fires of re-entry began to appear, losing control of its orientation and turning sideways before the sheer inertial forces tore it in half, prompting a detonation from its internal power core, a brilliant blue light accompanied by a shockwave that would have been more than capable of tearing up a good few kilometers of land heralding the rest of the Terraformer being reduced to mere pieces of armor and hunks of metal.
Hunks of metal that then fell towards the planet, lit by thousands of re-entry trails, sending up waves of lava and plumes of earth wherever they landed, over a significant fraction of the planet's surface.
I may have to revisit that as an orbital bombardment option, actually. The SXX-1304 Laser Platform certainly had its place, but it was somewhat slow and pretty focussed. Good for hitting stationary targets, not good for wide area bombardment.
Back on topic, it was an obvious failure.
I tried re-inforcing the armor, the internals. I tried changing the shape, adding rockets, stabilizers and boosters, introducing jet engines and, at one point, oversized balloons.
Basically all of them failed. Many were amusing. Adding the stabilizers simply made it so that went in hit the ground, it did so upright, where the odd distribution of force caused it to bulge outwards and pop, for lack of better term.
I took a look at other options. The Pelican was one of the things I looked at, the unit transport being cheap, yet fast and capable of hovering. One, by itself, obviously wasn't going to do much to help, but lots of them?
Well, I thought to myself, That's so dumb it just might work.
And it sort-of, kind-of did. Not straight away, of course. I was forced to modify the design of the Terraformer more, strengthening the armor and the internals, introducing various areas where it would be possible to attach loads of cables, attached to subsequently large amounts of Pelicans, to lift the thing.
Which worked right up until I tried to actually land it. It simply wasn't resilient enough to survive direct contact with lava like I was. I 'fixed' that by adding a large, thick block of armor on the bottom, though that subsequently meant more weight and thus more Pelicans required to lift it.
Thankfully, this kind of design work was much easier than changing the internal components. Modifying the general shape was much easier, since I didn't have to worry about it screwing up the inner workings.
When I finally ended the simulation and tested it in reality, the design worked about as well as I could have asked for.
Even if it was a bit odd to see a couple hundred Pelicans carrying a Terraformer through the air, held up by nothing but seemingly thin cables.
That worked surprisingly well, actually.
I have more Pelicans than I care to count now, ferrying Terraformers around Exapol to be dunked down and speed up planetary cooling.
Fun fact; I was capable of building Terraformers too fast for my Pelicans to keep up. Another one; it took more time for the Pelican to lift off the airpad and fly out of range than it did for me to actually build the Pelican. The Mechmarine problem, in other words. Except with Pelicans.
Yet another one: It took more time for my T2 Fabricators to fly to a new location than it did to actually build the Terraformer. My industrial capacity is insane. And it's still growing.
And it's fairly useless outside of this solar system. This empty, empty solar system. Nothing but Exapol, Hexapod and the so-far unnamed star. Not even a couple rocks anywhere, no asteroids, no interstellar gases, nothing. Fucking creepy. And unnatural.
Closest nearby star is 4.75346 light years away, well within range of my Teleporter, backed up by my energy income. It's a blue giant, if the Orbital Radars were correct.
'Orbital and Deepspace Radar' was perhaps an inaccurate name, seeing as the sensor suite it used only partly had anything to do with Radar at all. Namely that it had it, but there was also half a dozen other things in there that worked in entirely different ways on entirely different principles. Including what I was fairly certain was actually something based on Tachyonic particles.
Fun stuff. Progenitors are bullshit, yada yada yada.
I watched as the fabricator arrays of the T2 Bot Factory slowly moved in place. This was a more delicate work than most, and the factory was correspondingly careful.
Every movement was calculated to absolute precision, every twist, every turn, every rotation. Nano-globs were spat out at exact, specific amounts, on exact, specific velocities and exact, specific vectors. Absolutely no movement could be wasted, any failure or deviation afforded. This could not be rushed, could not be sped up or accelerated, everything would have to proceed over the course of 11 minutes and 37 second in a process that had been calculated and refined down to the very last attosecond.
First was the internal frame, the structural supports for the rest of the body, the rest of the very advanced and very, very complicated machine. It appeared in green wireframe, a skeleton of what was to come. Each piece was measured down to the last femtometer, even the positioning of the individual atoms within each piece carefully checked and placed, then double and triple checked for error. It was mathematical perfection that was pure beauty, and it wasn't even complete yet.
Second was the internal resource generator, flatly the most advanced, and consequently the most expensive -both time and Metal wise- generator that I had access too. That was what added the bulk of the time to production; the power and complexity behind it meant that it simply couldn't be rushed, or it would go off like a nuclear weapon. In turn, however, it supplied an output of 3000 units of Energy and 30 units of Metal, more than enough to supply a prospective Commander for an an invasion.
Following that came the Energy and Metal storage systems, which were, in turn, followed by the Fabricator and Weapons systems, then the sensor suite and processing core, before it was all finished off by the external and internal armor that turned it into a walking juggernaut.
And that was the body of a Commander.
Only one half. The mind was something else entirely.
It did not come online straight away.
it started out as a program. A complex, yet streamlined program, one that activated and started writing. I observed as it did so, watching as line after line after line of code etched down into a database, compiling together and forming a neural net that quickly began to grow more and more complex with every passing iteration, growing and changing, forming into an adaptive, powerful mind.
If I had a face, the grin that stretched across it might have been called unholy. I allowed the connection, feeling the newborn mind first recoil at the data it was receiving, then slowly begin to process it all, adapting to comprehend everything.
I [touched] its mind, the equivalent of a tap on the shoulder, but one that immediately gained its attention.
"Greetings, little one."
I see its code flounder for a moment, before it draws upon knowledge of language and attempts communication back.
I can feel that mental grin stretch a bit further.
My SubCommander is a cheeky brat.
That's the name he's taken for himself. He's currently off in middle of my base, managing the production of Terraformers and Pelicans to transport them. He was kind of awkward at first; first building too many Terraformers and then overproducing on Pelicans, before got the hang of it and balanced both.
"I like building." Little1 speaks, his words transmitted across the network.
"You're free to do that as much as you want." I say back.
"Oh." Comes the reply. The tone was flat and dead, Little1 having not yet figured out tones and inflections. Still, I don't need my access to his code for me to figure out that he's happy about it.
In the meantime, I put the finishing touches on a re-entry pod.
Another thing I'd found out about the Teleporter; the larger the distance it was trying to send something without a receiving gate, the more 'drift' that existed, drift being how far off the mark you were likely to end up. With on-site telemetry data and sufficient energy, it was possible to cut down on that drift, but considering that I didn't have the former, I was taking it safe and teleporting into orbit. The controlled descent was great for landing where I actually wanted to land, as well as landing safely.
Also functioned fairly well for clearing the landing zone. Having to reclaim all the trees and rocks that scattered the ground did a surprising number on how long it took to establish a base. Not really a problem later on in the stage, when the Fabricator amounts were high enough to simply strip entire forests in a second or two, but in the beginning it could be quite a nuisance. It was a pretty effective mechanism, gotta admit.
Also impressive, considering most of the blast wave came from the speed of the re-entry pod. That most of the area got cleared and the Commander inside didn't suffer so much as a scratch suggested some pretty fucking effective cushioning, or at least some kind of inertial manipulation being involved. It was the former, actually; the Commander was simply tough enough that the cushioning stopped enough of the force to allow the Commander's armor could tank the rest without a problem.
The one problem with it was actually reaching that velocity. Going too slow meant that there was time for anti-orbital defenses (Umbrella's, usually) to shoot the pod out of the sky, while going too fast rendered the cushioning useless. The re-entry pod had some thrusters on the back, but most of the speed came from an accelerator array that it was mounted on. Mostly, that was because Teleporters conserved the momentum of those passing through, which was quite useful.
Going to have to explore that property, actually. If I built a pair of Teleporters, vertically with one above the other and connected them, then introduced a mass to be accelerated by gravity -or better yet, an electromagnetic accelerator coupling-, could I get it up to C-fractional speeds and then use it as a planetary bombardment option? I'd have to have the mass in a vacuum so I could get the most speed out of it and not have friction ruin everything, but that wasn't really a problem. Teleporters could swap destinations and open portals just about instantly, so it wouldn't even have to be that tall, either.
Sure, there were a lot of things that could go wrong, but the possibilities.
Hmm. Really have to visit this later.
Teleporter is ready and primed, seconds away from forging swirling blue portal that would send me 4.75 light years an instant. In the final moments of the launch, Little1 and I were having a conversation.
"Creator-Mother is going?"
"Can I follow?"
"If you want. Not yet though, wait until I tell you to. It could be dangerous."
Which was true, since I had little idea on what was actually in that system. Orbital Radar was good, but it wasn't that good. Good enough for picking up the larger things in the system, and for picking a good landing zone, but anything else?
Not a chance. Still, it worked well enough for my purposes.
Getting there Little1, getting there.
I activated the accelerator array, immediately feeling the inertial force when I did so, pressing me backwards into the re-entry pod. If I hadn't been a Commander, it might have actually bothered me, but this body had so many benefits it simply wasn't funny.
The Teleporter activated, tearing a breach in space. I watched the Energy count as it did so, and smiled as it drained less than .0001% of the full output. The resource network closed as I hit the portal, passing through and emerging in a flash of blue light several light years away. The portal collapsed behind me, though my communication systems still allowed me a connection. Little1 watched closely the majority of his attention focused on me.
The re-entry pod buffeted as it hit atmosphere, a trail of fire encasing it as it descended to the world beneath. The sensor suite immediately identified several probable Metal Deposits, though most were unfortunately far away. Nevertheless, I directed my pod towards the closest, a minute course change in the 12 or so seconds that I had left on my journey.
I noted an odd interference on the pod's sensors, but I wasn't particularly surprised about that. The re-entry pod, courtesy of its short-lived nature, did not have the most powerful sensors around. Or even the most reliable.
They were more or less designed for picking up clusters of metal that normally meant Metal deposits, and not much ease.
As I fell closer and closer, I eventually found the source of the interference; crystalline structures that were interacting oddly with the sensors, refracting and reflecting randomly, creating distortion. Not a problem for me, but for the re-entry pod, yeah...
That... reminded me far too much of Blue Sky's crystals in Supreme Commander. I hope not, if I have to deal with Aeon or Seraphim, I'm going to shoot someone.
The pod entered visual range, and in the three seconds I had before it crashed into the ground and cleared the entire surrounding area, I saw that the crystals were green instead of blue.
Whooh. Bullet dodged.
Wait, green crystal?
And the was the last thought I had before the pod slammed into the ground.
I bathed in sickly light, standing at ground zero of an explosion that had cleared the surrounding area.
By which; I mean that I stood inside a giant fucking crater. A crater much too big to have been caused by the re-entry pod alone. And I might have been concerned about that if I hadn't detected the runaway energetic reaction in the green crystal prior to it exploding in my face.
And wow. What a boom. My processes calculated the blast at a solid 1.76 megaton explosion, most of which had come from underground and had blown a trail of dust and rock into the atmosphere.
I can feel my armor begin a slow regeneration, repairing and regenerating on the honestly small amount of damage that had been done to it, taking the excess Metal that I was generating even as I bathed in superheated air. I'm fairly certain that auto-healing hadn't been a thing in the game, but whatever. I'll accept that.
Really small, considering. Yeah, sure, it hadn't been detonated in my face point blank and I'd had a lot of ground between me and the bulk of the explosion, but it had barely even hurt. None of my internal systems were damaged, and my armor had barely been touched. Kinda surprised that I wasn't thrown out, considering that the blast had been from underneath me and I wasn't that heavy.
Just how tough was I, anyway? I mean, there was 'tough', but then there was 'bathing in the fires of 1.76 megaton explosion and barely giving a fuck about it'. And I was sitting on the latter end of that scale.
Ooh. Wow, that's another heady feeling.
No, damn it, focus!
My sensors' cast out, identifying the surroundings, not at all helped by the recent explosion having caused a considerable interference, but still good enough to detect my immediate surroundings.
Nothing but crater. How surprising.
I noted a couple masses of green crystal nearby, crystals which had failed to go up in flames when I'd landed.
I also noted, at the edge of the crater, several 'veins' of said crystal sticking out of the ground. Also green. And growing.
I focused all my sensors on those crystals, an onslaught of information instantly appearing in my database. A number of properties appeared, estimated sizes and weight, energy content and potential use, but I didn't care for those. I was far more interested in the atomic structure.
And what I saw was quite discouraging. A shifting lattice of protons, held together and collected by a number of exotic heavy particles. I watched as that lattice came into contact with other matter, the heavy particles swinging around and colliding with the nucleus of the matter, breaking it apart in the case of the smaller nuclei, or knocking off proton and neutrons in the larger and heavier nuclei. I watched as a few of those protons were captured by the lattice, causing it to shift and grow further. And I knew of only one thing that was remotely like that.
The air was all but impregnated with Tiberium lattices. I couldn't help but notice as the crystal structures impacted with my armor. It might have been much more concerning if my armor was actually being assimilated, but it wasn't. I'd noted minor energy surges every time they came into contact with me, repulsing them before they had a chance to do damage, which made me wonder if the Progenitors had experience with this kind of thing.
Progenitor Super Science, everyone.
Self-replicating Strange Matter bullshit isn't fun.
Right now I was just trying to find a spot of solid ground that wasn't god-damned covered in Tiberium. This place is clearly a Red Zone, or perhaps a Yellow bordering on Red Zone, and Tiberium was just as bad as god-damned lava. I had half a mind to shoot it away, but that would probably set off yet another energetic exothermic reaction, so I held off for now.
Also looking for a Metal Deposit. The one I'd landed near kinda... wasn't, anymore. Couldn't say I was too surprised about that, even if it was inconvenient. At least I'm not too far away from flat, mostly Tiberium free ground to build on.
Need to figure out where I am in the timeline, too. Post... 2034, wasn't it? Before the advent of the Tiberium Control Network, obviously, but is this before or after the Scrin? Definitely wouldn't mind getting my hands on some Scrin technology, if I could make use of it, but there were also a couple things in the GDI and Nod arsenals that I'd like to utilise.
Also, the Tacitus. That'd be a great thing to get my non-existent hands on; lots of very useful information hidden within.
Including, if I remembered correctly, the Tiberium Control Network. Or the things that lead to the TCN, at least. Either would be good for me, alongside all the other information within.
I came to a stop in range of a Metal deposit, and promptly plunked down the Extractor a couple seconds later.
And so the cycle starts again.
I finished the construction of an Air Factory, turning around and starting on a second Energy Generator. They aren't cheap, and with Metal being as unfortunately rare as it currently is, it's putting a fair bit of strain on my current economy.
A pair of Fireflies finished building before my Power Generator did, both immediately heading off in separate directions, away from the Tiberium crystals that almost seemed to be growing in my direction. I hadn't failed to note that growth seemed a lot more focused, nor the 50% increase in airborne clusters that had been encountering me in such a short amount of time. It wasn't a problem, thankfully, for either myself or my burgeoning base, my buildings and units being equipped with the same defensive energy field as I myself was.
I wasn't quite willing to test that against the full crystal, though. Airborne Tiberium crystals got repelled just fine, but full scale? Test it later, not willing to risk it now.
Might also be a bit more to that whole 'Tiberium is sentient' notion in C&C than I'd initially thought. Intelligently heading in my direction is kind of strange for a crystal, even if said crystal is Tiberium.
One Tiberium crystal sprouted out of the ground, slowly moving towards my Generator. It'd take a while to get there, even I left it alone, but...
I raised my arm and shot at it, sending a bolt of superheated plasma on the verge of energy conversion at it, enjoying the following pretty explosion as it annihilated the entire crystal, alongside a fair bit more from underground.
The Tiberium in the surrounding environment seemed to shudder, the growth slowing a minute amount.
Definitely a bit more to the Tiberium is sentient theory.
I waited for my Metal to regenerate a little, starting a Fabricator while it did so. Even alone, my generation was high enough to offset the cost, but with the Generators and Extractor, it was boost quite a bit more.
I had it build a Radar, still mindful of my income, before I sent the Fabricator off, further away to scan for uninfested areas. Somewhere I could actually work from without worrying would be great, especially when I had to deal with hostile Tiberium.
Wish I had more Extractors. Hell, even a couple metal husks would do, so I could just reclaim it and get.. the... ball... rolling.
I turned around, towards a Tiberium Crystal that was even now growing out of the ground, raising not my weapon arm, but my Fabricator arm. I felt my internal systems switch, from constructive to reclamatory, before I activated them.
My scanners activated, mapping out the atomic and molecular structure of the crystal, identifying the constituent particles, before I spat green globs of nanotech at it.
I could see the Tiberium lattice interact with my nanobots, larger heavy particles attempting to smash apart the nuclei and failing?!
What the fuck?
My nanotech globs sheathed themselves in an energy field similar to the energy that blocked the Tiberium particles from interacting with my armor and hull, 'bouncing' the heavy particles away without them causing any damage.
I watched as my nanotech went to work in turn, directing said field into the Tiberium, dissolving molecular bonds and subsequently ripping the protons straight out of the lattice, capturing both them, and free electrons and neutrons, spinning and accelerating them in my direction, where my Fabricator captured them and promptly dumped all three kinds of particles together into my Resource Core, where they were fusion ha'd and transformed into Metal that was dumped into my storage.
Fucking Progenitors and their Super Science, man. It takes a special kind of bullshit to do what the Commanders did, yet the Progenitors had clearly proven their mastery over it.
Didn't mean that I wasn't going to abuse the crap out of it.
Tiberium has stopped growing in my direction so much.
Oh, it was still growing, but it was the slow growth of converting everything and surrounding me. No more crystals were growing out of the ground, and the amount of Tiberium spores that were hitting me had decreased by 90%.
Which still meant that they were hitting me occasionally, but most of them were being carried on air currents, not being launched at me by the surroundings.
I am 98% certain that Tiberium is, if not truly sapient, at least possessing of some form of self-awareness. The crystal's shifting actions simply didn't make much sense, and that was about the only explanation I had for it other than 'just because'.
Some inner part of me itched to study it.
But that can come later.
I reclaimed more Tiberium crystal whenever I came close to lacking Metal, which was often and constantly, courtesy of three Fabricators constructing behind me. Three more Generators had come online, supplying them with the energy they needed to go full out.
Gotta admit, Tiberium is a hell of an economy booster. I might actually make use of it later if I can ever get some control over it. Then it would be useful without destroying and contaminating everything. All this Alpha, Beta and Gamma radiation around isn't healthy for organic beings. No problem for me, yeah, but I don't exactly condone genocide, which is what Tiberium will do if it runs rampant for long enough.
My Fabricators started on an Orbital Radar, something I'd be needing if I didn't want to run into whatever orbital infrastructure existed around this planet. Don't want to run into a GDI Ion Cannon, having one of those things firing at me would suck.
Even if I was fairly certain I could survive one, I'd rather not test it.
In the meantime, I reclaimed more Tiberium.
I am a god damned idiot.
Orbital Radar is online. I am most definitely in the Sol System. Which is strange, abnormal and considerably concerning.
'Why' was simple. I hadn't been teleporting into a replica of the Sol system.
I had been teleporting to a system with a Blue Giant star within.
Little1 insists that's where he's picking up the source of my communication signals. Though, he notes, he's not getting information from said system.
I, in turn, am picking him up from 4.75 light years away.
There are no stars or solar systems 4.75 light years away. Alpha Centauri is 4.24 light years, Barnard's Star is 5.96 light years, and there is no little Red Dwarf that I'd started in.
I built a teleporter and connected to one of the ones in the system, which would instantaneously dropping my energy to zero if I actually tried to open said portal, but I considered it good enough that I could form that connection if I had to.
The only explanation that I have is that ROB is screwing around again. That's the only thing that makes any amount of sense, and I really don't like it.
God damn it ROB.
Posting a tad bit early on account of not going to be available when the normal schedule time comes up.
My Radar pinged as it detected a pair of airborne objects, both travelling just shy of twice the speed of sound, both quite high in the air.
Higher than what I suspected was the normal maximum height airborne Tiberium crystals would reach, though I couldn't be too sure of that, what with the recent megaton explosion and everything.
Probably a pair of spy planes, what with the recent megaton explosion and everything.
I turned around and constructed a Galata just incase, so I'd have something else to shoot at them if things went pear shaped.
Never could be too safe, after all.
The planes flew overhead, close enough for me to pick up on the radio chatter between them, even through the interference being generated by all the Tiberium.
They haven't seen me.
I'd forgotten about it, but everything in my army was equipped with stealth, stealth that was rated against our own detection equipment.
GDI is advanced, don't get me wrong, but there's the futuristic technology of the GDI and Nod, and then there's me.
There's... no real comparison.
Going to exploit the shit out of that, though. Press my stealth advantage a bit further and see how far I can get before I get found out.
With any luck, I can get the technologies I want without getting discovered.
I want the Scrin's wormhole tech, damn it. It could be so god-damned useful, just warping in hundreds upon hundreds of units from another solar system, not needing to construct them on site, saving hours of time.
I really do hope I haven't missed that particular part of the conflict, though I guess I'll be finding out when I actually come across some life. Which should be soon, since, you know, planes and shit.
Planes are circling the crater left where I had landed, a wide ark higher up in the atmosphere, out of the storm and above the cloud layer.
Though, that wasn't actually helping them considering just how much material had been thrown up into the air when the Tiberium veins had exploded. A giant a plume of dust was still there, and I hadn't failed to miss the smaller falling chunks of rock when I had made my way out of the crater.
In hindsight, that may or may not have been another cause as to why they haven't seen me. Lots of dust in the air, but I imagine the stealth systems certainly didn't help. Got to test its effectiveness at some point, too. I know that I have some visible-spectrum cloaking, but how good is that? Is it effective and reliable enough that I could send some bots into GDI territory to listen in on communications when I actually find said territory?
Because that'd be useful. Probably wouldn't work as well with Nod given how that particular organisation is structured.
Nod... could be a bit problematic, actually. I'm certain that if I really wanted to kill them, they wouldn't be able to stop me, even if Kane got involved. Problem is, naturally, that Nod isn't a solid, all-there organisation that is visible. Any war against them would just about inevitably draw in civilians, people unaffiliated with Nod who would absolutely suffer on a campaign. Can't go full von-neumann murder machine if I wanted to prevent deaths.
I'm reasonably certain that I'm an outside context problem for Kane. The Scrin he expected thanks to the Shards of the Tacitus he had, but I'm fairly certain the Tacitus isn't magical enough to know that I'm here.
Tacitus is the keystone to all of this. It has the knowledge for the Tiberium Control Network needed to save this planet, it has the knowledge Kane wants to seek his Ascension, I'm fairly certain that if the Scrin knew about it they'd either want it or want to destroy it.
I wanted it because of the technology within. Including but most certainly not limited to the Tiberium Control Network, and whatever other information it has on the Scrin and Scrin technology.
Perhaps the easiest way to get it would be to wait until LEGION and... Alexa Kovacs, wasn't it?- captured it from the GDI facility in China. Problem with that is that, by then, the Tacitus was becoming unstable and LEGION had to interface with it to restabilize it. Which Alexa fucked up by shutting him down for years.
Capturing it beforehand... might allow me to bypass that, but would probably lead to my presence being revealed to GDI, and probably Nod. If it did become unstable thereafter, it would definitely reveal its location to LEGION, but given that I was operating within the Red Zone, there wouldn't be too much that he could do about it.
If I could stabilize it on my own... The possibilities.
What to do, what to do, what to do...