Life is sometimes best shown in the obscure

Written in 365 Parts: 152: Mathematical Conundrum

Hooper smiled for the first time in days. The combining of points of datum into one massive database to conduct cross-comparative searches had been successful. They had it. Someone was manipulating data, and Hooper had the manner in which they were doing it, and could use that. It was a pattern that repeated in some widely different sensor readings that could only mean one thing. Someone had altered both of them in the same fashion. To be more precise the data was manipulated by the same algorithm,  likely a very complex one, and there were artefacts to indicate manipulation. 

The computers had been crunching streams of information for many hours. The first sign of a pattern was in air-flow data. The amount of air that is used in any section of the station was strictly monitored and regulated. The filters not only detected the amount of gases, but they scrubbed and filtered the air for particulates and airborne toxins, viruses and bacteria. The filters were analysed on a regular basis and their findings recorded.

They could record the amount of air used by any individual, or group of individuals, and compare it to their movements around the station. A good medical programme would detect an organics health patterns throughout the day and even detect and predict the spread of infections or diseases. Judiciary didn’t pay for that level of pre-emptive medical care. They did have the sensors, and record the information, though. Storage was cheap, medical intervention was not.

 Due to various factors that might affect the readings they were always adjusted to reflect an average distribution of information, and then a program allowed generous wiggle room for non-recorded trends. A room where people told jokes all afternoon would be vastly different to the same people the following day when they were quietly working. So there was a range of variation. You could hide a lot of data in that variation if you knew how to adjust the figures. 

The same was true for the sensors that recorded mass. Every plate on the floor of the building had a weight sensor. As did every lift, every gravitational belt, almost any surface that was in use in some manner. All energy usage and variations were observed and noted. Again there could be slight differences, the machines weighed items into the tenth of a gramme and a program ran corrective statistics based on trend. Eating a sandwich while walking, throwing the wrapper in a waste bin, would be immediately apparent as a shift in mass between being in a room and then going into a lift. So a range of variation was allowed. If you were clever you could smuggle or move items, even replace one person for another, if you could manipulate this data.

More importantly you could do the same with the load lifters, elevators and fuel readings on the shuttles. It was a matter of knowing what the sensors recorded, what they matched it to, and what the trend variances would allow. Hooper now knew all of this from the research of the last many hours. It was clear that so did the quarry. 

What the computers found by analysing every record and cross matching them was a statistical variance in the numbers that was within the trend but had a pattern. It was all about the random. You could generate a truly random variation. It would be difficult and require a very powerful computer, but you could do it. But the random numbers being selected here had to fall within a trend. They also had to fall within a close enough variation as to be not too distant to what is expected. The trend could not always be at an extreme point or swing wildly. Over time, with the large number of datum points collected, this led to a repeat of practice. The algorythm’s constraints of range led to a cycle through the possible variations. So the trend distribution differences in fuel cell depletion of a shuttle journey twenty-seven days previously, which coincided with a visit from Susa Camile, matched the trend variation of airborne particulate collection from coffee in a storage room from ninety-four days ago. The statistical likelihood of this happening was small, but not insignificant. However the same variance occurred over a hundred times in the last year over a vast array of different readings and data sets. That was statistically unlikely. The intellect comparing the data sets placed the chances outside of the possibility of it occurring naturally..

This information meant that something was similar. Why did the visit from Camile link in statistical variation of numbers, the spread of variables, To a coffee particulate count in a locker room? Hooper had the computers analyse both sets and looked at the actual records. The coffee particulate count was higher in the storage area than expected, yet there was only one officer listed as being on duty and they drank chocolate. Hooper verified there were particulates of chocolate recorded by air filters and there were, they fell well within statistical averages.

The shuttle journey was more interesting. The trend there was negative. The weight on the return journey, accounting for all items taken from the shuttle and items gained, indicated that the shuttle had a lower mass to power usage ratio. The statistical variance had the same profile as the coffee particulates. It was the same sequence of possible change. 

If one were suspicious one might imagine, reasoned Hooper, that Camile brought an item with her and left it at the station. The mass difference which would have affected the sensor data was overwritten to the highest level of variance to mask the fuel cell inaccuracies on the return journey. So something was brought to the station. Removed, and hidden, from manifests and its missing weight accounted for in the changing of the sensor data. Hooper started a very thorough check on the data of the inbound journey. It was also likely to be masked, just with a set of variances that hadn’t yet been detected.

The coffee particles then, what were they? It would suggest, since the readings said there was only one chocolate drinking person on duty and using the terminal at the time, that this wasn’t true. Again Hooper started a thorough check of all data around the event. Say someone could mask their arrival at that location, or at least mask how long they stayed. Say they drank coffee while the organic on duty drank something else. Say they brought the drinks with them, or stayed for a drink while there.

It was two data points. But lots of sets of data was collected at those two points. Hooper had to assume they had all been masked. Altered and changed using the very complex deception the evidence inferred. Hooper pondered that if they assumed the information is suspect, and there was a pattern, then now they could use those many streams of data. There were very few suspect data collections, compared to the vast numbers they had collected. Hooper decided that the best notion was to run an analysis on the restricted sets, the suspect data, and the whole data. Use the known problem to look for other patterns and try to retroactively determine if the algorithm was applied to the data all the time or just at certain points. How was it being used? 

Hooper opened a very secure link and set the expert, who did not work for judiciary, to work on the reverse engineering of a mathematical conundrum.

Written in 365 Parts: 151: Data Requests

Hooper accepted the financial charge from the central archives, for the subject access requests they had made, and applied it to the holding account for the divisional section. The holding account was only tallied once every week, so there would be three more days of making the requests for data and accepting charge forms before the system reported what Hooper was doing. 

The moment that the system checked in his requests, and updated divisional budgets the activities would be obvious. Hooper was sure his quarry would flee, they would be monitoring this level of investigation. 

The quarry was careful, clever and had been doing this for a long time. They no doubt had flags to notice if someone was doing large scale data requests. Especially since Hooper had requested the precise movements of all personnel, organic and inorganic, for the past ten years. That data was not held by the judiciary. The law enforcement was an arm of government and all data was centrally collected and archived.

There was also the data protection legislation. Judiciary couldn’t acquire information secretly without a warrant, or good cause, linking it to an active investigation. That was a request that would see every affected intellect in the department notified that their personal movements, both on and off duty, had been part of an access request. So Hooper had used the holding account for the division and had requested everything. It was risky, they might find nothing, they might get fired and prosecuted for a waste of departments funds and resources.

Judiciary was a planetary organisation. Its budgets were paid for from taxes and the application of fines, land rates and loans. There was an oversight committee who decided how much the departments could spend and there were audits of all accounts. What made the situation more complex was the systems that were used by judiciary; computer intellects, storage systems, shuttlecraft, equipment, they were all loaned. Various government departments, individual suppliers, contracts and tenders made up the actual mechanics of the judiciary. The hardware and equipment  was not owned by them, it was rented.

All interaction with equipment was recorded, it was what Hooper relied on for his current line of inquiry. All government equipment was charged, on usage. So every auditor on the payroll was highly attuned to ensuring departments had the best possible equipment, that they used sparingly.

Hooper added the information to the datasets that were already correlating and cross-referencing all the sensor information. There was something forming, a small edge of a pattern, Hooper was sure of this. 

Hooper checked the intellect that had been analysing the small bursts of static that had been unearthed as coming from the satellite. The intellect was unable to decode it directly as the information too short and lost in a sea of digital static. One would have to know precisely what they were looking to find. The estimation from the systems was that it would take even the combined intellect of all the government systems a decade to crack a single occurrence. There were thousands of instances. It would be more important to find something analogous. So Hooper had it cross-comparing data. Hooper was looking for patterns, or for the absence of patterns, and praying there were exceptions. 

The exceptions, in Hooper’s estimation, made the rules, So the exceptions, were always interesting.

Written in 365 Parts: 150: Water Runner

Breathing was fast now. The lack of oxygen now a far greater factor than the dehydration that had plagued them for hours. The water in the suit had collected mostly around the midriff, probably caused by the light rotational spin. It amused, for a moment, to consider that the effects of gravitational spin would be so significant. Though with so little else to affect the mass it was also just nature. 

Eyes flick to the oxygen monitor. It was in the critical zone but there were still a few hours of survival left. The suit was incredibly efficient. Even with the recycling turned down to minimum it was still extracting small amounts of oxygen from the moisture that they had secreted. It couldn’t refresh it to drink, as that system had been turned off, so the limited systems had decided to recover whatever useful element they could. Oxygen. The hydrogen was being collected and stored, it also was used for fuel to power the small separation engines that were giving Drick precious hours of air by splitting the water into its component elements.

If Drick survived this the first thing they would do is invest in the company that made these systems. Then buy a really good model and write a long review on the value of them. Drick would have laughed, even tried to, but all that the dried mouth could manage was a gurgle, that rasped across the tongue like a death rattle.

They were closing their eyes again when a glint in the distance. Drick tried to focus, to blink, but there was little moisture even on the eyes. All the moisture was sloshing around the midriff. They couldn’t focus. A touch of an internal glove switch and the helmet screens of the suit zoomed in. Drick croaked a laugh. Hoarsely barked. It was a ship. It was heading straight towards them. The beacon must have worked.

As the vessel drew closer Drick could see that registration markings declared it to be from the outer system. A Kuiper Belt vessel. Likely from Eris. A water runner from its size and shape. Small forward, dart-like, crew section, filled with command areas and also probably with crew quarters. This section was less than one fiftieth of the ship’s size. 

A long central section, more a hard skeletal spine with large hard points joints. Each joint was a multipurpose docking ring and anchor for attaching tanks and storage containers. A mixture of freight containers of different sizes still populated the frame. 

At the rear of the vessel a block of tanks and a large round section containing an oval of engines. The vessel could achieve incredible thrust from a mixture of ion ejection and fusion drive. It allowed it to accelerate at a constant rate, landing on planets and shipping raw materials across the solar system.

From the look of the vessel as it came closer, and details started to become more defined, it was old. It was probably new in the early twenty-second century. The model type lasted for nearly two hundred years before being decommissioned about one hundred years ago. So this vessel was anywhere between two hundred and three hundred years old. In the latter end of the twenty-fifth century it was a relic.

There were two flashes of light from the rear of the vessel. Close to a large container. Shuttle or fighter craft. They were moving fast, too quick for the suits cameras to track. It didn’t matter as they would be visible very soon. The ship’s crew had to be either scavengers, mercenaries, smugglers or pirates. Drick smiled as they knew that it was a hopeful thought for anything other than pirates. This type of vessel would be a block, stop, chop and process shop. Filled with experts on finding and ripping ships apart. 

The attack on the ship was probably crew from this vessel acting as passengers or low-level crew. Hopefully Drick wasn’t specifically targeted and the attack on the ship merely a matter that they were in the way. Didn’t matter much if they knew who Drick was at this stage though. However things went, at least they would be alive for a little while longer.

Written in 365 Parts: 149: Drawn Out

The cloud of debris and bodies had been slowly drifting apart for more than two Terran days. They were affected by virtually no forces except the gentle tug of a distant star. They would, no doubt, be pulled as long desiccated flotsam into that star and their eventual consumption in some far distant epoch. Perhaps the fortunes of the galaxy may be impacted before then and some other cataclysm claimed their body. It was even possible that they would drift and slowly be taken apart atom by atom by the background radiation of space until some final lump drifted in the dying lights of the last glance of the universe.

Until then the slight acceleration they had on leaving the vessel was pushing them on a long arc around that gravitational object. It would help them set a long and very slow orbit. The two figures who had been close enough to be one object had drifted apart by a hundred metres since they were last together. Their trajectory was never completely matched, just sufficient for the looting of the dead. The speed at which they had moved apart did not belie the fact that they were still trapped in the same parabola. They would drift along a similar path for the eons yet to come.

Power had started to become an issue after just twenty hours. Sustaining body temperature was its biggest issue. The suit was able to recharge, there were kinetic activators and solar cloth layers. But they required far more than the background starlight, and the lack of motion in zero gravity, to help. There was a choice to be made between keeping the suits heating systems working, or the full recycling of all secondary life support systems. In the end it had to be the heating, it afforded the greatest chance of survival.

At first it was easy to just lie still and relax, let the consciousness drift into a gentle sleep. A snippet of some long forgotten verse tingling the synapses ‘sleep of death in which dreams came’. What else was there to do? Worrying about the situation would just increase the heart and respiration rates and cause more use of limited resources. 

But, with each passing hour other physiological factors started to cause issue. They were lying in their own sweat which had started to coalesce around the internal skin of the suit. The micro pumps had been disabled with the recycling system. This was causing slight skin irritation. Far more concerning was the rising temperature, mild dehydration induced fever which was steadily raising heart rate. The dehydration was also causing a headache that was getting progressively more intense. This caused them to be in a fitful state of wakefulness. All of this further exacerbated the sweating, increasing the irritation and making their skin start to prickle and burn. With no drugs to relax the mind the constant pressure to be distracted was becoming a strain. 

There was a light flashing in the periphery of their vision which was becoming steadily deeper in shade. It had started as a smooth green with a high percentage figure but was now a blinking red. It was the suit’s oxygen levels and they had reached a critical point. The supply had already been reduced to its minimum saturation, causing a burning in the lungs adding to the overall discomfort.

Drick did the calculations. There was probably less than five hours of air at this level of burn. They checked the weapon they had taken from the dead body. It was fully charged. Recoilless, magnetically accelerated, ballistic rounds. They would work just as well in the cold vacuum of space as they did in an atmosphere. Drick would wait until the final few moments, but they would not die of asphyxiation.

Written in 365 Parts: 148: Surprise Instruction

Marsh dove through the hot edges of the hole, he had just made, in the armoured doorway and rolled to the corner of the room. In this corner the wall met the large curve of the window and for a second a wave of vertigo threatened to knock him off his feet. A mental shake settled the sensation and he checked his surroundings.

A quick scan of the room revealed the friendly signature of Drick’s suit and no other signs of life. Marsh took a quick glance outside the window again. There was a large amount of tracer fire erupting out of the front of the building, but he could not determine what they were firing towards. The tracer fire was actually the discharges of plasma as the discharges ripped through the air heat-deathing the atmosphere. The angle of fire was seemingly towards empty space. Whatever was firing was taking a lot of efforts to destroy nothing.

Marsh signalled that he was secure on the comms screen and waited for Drick’s instruction. When it came it was surprising but he did as he was asked. Marsh had learned that Drick was always about ten steps ahead of him in working any situation out. It wasn’t that he was slow or they were exceptional, well not that exceptional. It was the advantage of decades of experience of equipment, tactics and events coupled with a passionate zeal for the work.

Marsh followed orders and started to spray the room in a random pattern covering floor to ceiling with a slew of the paralysis darts. Marsh was forced to hit the auto-reloader which pulled another ten thousand shot magazine into the chamber twice before there was a sudden reaction that almost made him drop the weapon.

A figure fell from the ceiling.

The gun fell silent as Marsh almost leapt out of his own skin in surprise. A short message from Drick scrolled over his internal monitor. “They came in and didn’t go out, had to be a stealth suit. They will be out for too long, prepare the hypo while I prep them. We have to ensure the construct program is in place before they fully awaken.”

Written in 365 Parts: 147: Liquid Flesh

Charlie looked up at the Powered Armour that towered above them. If the organic inside took a brief look down at an outside monitor they would clearly see the figure crouching up at them. Charlie could even see themselves on the security feed that Rodero was altering in real time. However, they were presented as a non-threat. The weapon they were holding identified as a dart emitter, and of no consequence. Charlie knew that they would get a single shot before that assessment would be altered. They had to get the perfect hit, and then get out of the way.

The gun indicated that it was cycled to its maximum emissions, Charlie depressed the activator. The weapon was an extension of the same technology that allowed for gravity reducing fields, and the constant acceleration graviton drives of interstellar spacecraft. Inside the gun was a powerful fusion cell that fed directly into a graviton accelerator. The accelerator was a series of opposing particle loops that fed increasing levels of energy to massed particles. These particles were positioned in loops around each other, and a central core, that allowed the build up of gravitons. On release the combined charge was directed as linear gravity. The effect was a frame shift that disrupted any particles it passed through. Literally tearing matter apart on a molecular level. 

The beam had two severe drawbacks. It would quickly lose its potency as the incredible energy charge was a weak force that would dissipate quickly in any gravitational field. It would not affect structures that had strong bonds. Heavy armour resisted the shifting forces, as did most physical weapons. However, its effect on sensitive electronics, computers or organic matter was devastating. Anything within a few metres of the beam was disrupted. Delicate circuitry shattered into pieces. Flesh fell apart, and puddled, leaving a clean skeletal frame behind.

There was an electronic scream from the suit as thousands of circuits died in a micro-seconds brilliance. Inside the suit the organic occupant didn’t even have time to contemplate the agony that would have made them scream, before their flesh and organs liquified.

The suit toppled forwards onto its still firing guns. Physical systems that no longer received instruction. They took a full two seconds to stop firing which made the suit jerk and jitter on the cold concrete surface. It jerked and shook, gouging holes in the smooth grey expanse.

Charlie checked and noted that Alpha had neutralised the rest of the room. They flashed a signal to control and the other teams that they had achieved penetration. The ground floor was taken. Without waiting for a response the two Dricks moved immediately to their next task.

Written in 365 Parts: 146: Two Desks

The explosion was loud in the confined space of the maintenance room. The concussion wave, that followed the sound, had barely dissipated against the shield when Drick started their run. In the monitor view Drick could see that Marsh had also started his run. He was four metres and three seconds behind Drick, separated by a wall.

Ahead of Drick the shaped charge had blasted a, roughly circular, hole in the toughened resin and steel laminates of the compound internal walls. There were a few sparks from exposed wiring systems, that would trigger fire alarm breakers the minute they erupted into life. However the systems were under their control and still disrupted by the pulse. 

Drick leapt through the thin haze of smoke at the lowest height they could manage. Landed on their hands and rolled into the office. Drick was  using the captured security systems monitors, and their own internal systems, to quickly build up a layout of the room.

The space was larger than Drick had expected. On the schematics they had used there was an extra wall partitioning this office. It was clear now that the wall was a temporary divide. It was, no doubt, retracted at this time. Drick could see that there were runner tracks on the floor and ceiling. The room was now dominated by two large desks. The walls were the right angle shape of smooth internal surface, and a large corner window that curved between the two ends.  

The first desk was an impressive single slab of wood, that had been shaped into a u-shaped curve, that was laid on one long edge. It gave a deceptive clear view through the desk. However this was false as Drick could not see the chair through the desk. The upper half chair which was clearly visible behind the top of the desk. Clearly it had a hologram field, or a mirror, projected in front of it.

The other desk was more a long meeting table. It had thirteen chairs arranged in a curious pattern around a long oval. Twelve of the chairs were arranged along one side of the table culminating at the curve of the sides. The other chair, slightly larger and taller, was opposite them. All of the electronic displays were arranged to give this primary chair the most advantageous position, and all of the information.

The deceptive desk, and command table, both indicated to Drick that the owner of this office liked to be in charge. Liked to be the centre of attention. Liked to have secrets. 

There were few other features aside from the large window. A single two dimensional projection frame on the wall of a group of organics with the sitting Planetary Governor, was the only feature of note. The other wall contained the room’s single door. All other vertical surfaces were window. The desk was almost devoid of all features aside from an antique pen, inkwell, and paper blotter. 

The room appeared to be empty. But Drick knew this had to be false. Appearances were always deceptions.

Marsh rolled through the open door and took position in the corner of the room, where the window met the wall, as they had planned. Drick watched as they also scanned the room. Looking, as Drick did, for their objective.

Written in 365 Parts: 145: Imaginary Targets

Drick Alpha and Drick Charlie watched the suit as it moved towards the main doors. The suit was ponderous in a building that it had some concern for. They could move at about twenty kilometres per hour in combat mode, but they would tear up the marble floor doing so. It didn’t look as if this unit had been fitted with any optional gravity assist or boosters. Likely kitted with weapons pods only. 

It was only a few metres from being in direct line of sight of their two comrades who were still in their pods. Even with the ballistic shields and armour that the pods had, the weaponry in the mobile armoured unit would efficiently eradicate Beta and Delta. 

The analytical packages of Alpha and Charlie worked swiftly and threw information to their internal monitors. Calculations for the time to first strike and likely assault patterns were being displayed and overlaid onto the world view. Augmented screens showed routes of attack if they wished to engage. They could see their own routes of attack and retreat, and the routes of all other allies and opponents. Their was a multitude of colours and transparencies. The most important strategic maneuvers had the brightest colour and highest opacity. The projected route of the suit was ghosted onto every overlay allowing them to prioritise it in this battle situation and anticipate issues.

Alpha was about to suggest opening the doorway now. They couldn’t wait any longer. They would have to start the assault. It was risky, in fact likely to be downright foolhardy, but it was possible that only one of them would be immobilized which would give the other three a chance against the suit.

Action now would delay the time to the detection and interception of the primary team which was an overriding objective. Alpha messaged their thoughts to Charlie. They prepped the plan and then paused. The monitor showed the suit of armour starting to act erratically. It was swiftly moving its visual systems and weapon tracking in wide arcs as if scanning multiple targets. Alpha flicked an overlay for the forward view of the security systems. They now saw the simulation that Rodero was feeding into the security systems of the compound. Alpha smiled, then signalled the go command to Charlie as they wrenched the door’s safety release system open.

The door opened swiftly, but almost soundlessly. In any normal circumstance it would still have been detected by the suit of armour, or other security personnel. But, as they opened the door they timed it so that the suit of armour had opened fire on its multiple imaginary targets. Their timing was perfect. The monitors in their implants had shown the massive power spikes as the powered armour’s weaponry charged up. This had determined the optimum insertion time.

Charlie ran across the foyer space, ignoring the few guards who had started to recover from the effects of the electromagnetic pulse. Alpha would have to deal with the additional forces alone. Charlie’s task was to disable that suit as quickly as possible. They used a randomised ducking pattern to minimise the threat of stray assaults from any opponents. Their run brought them into a position that was directly in front of, and low down to, the armoured suit.

Alpha had dropped the door wrench the moment the portal had snapped open. They waited the half second that Charlie needed to start their run, before they rolled through the doorway and to one side. The schematics indicated an alcove where there was a security panel, and a fire control panel. Alpha rolled into the alcove. It was only a slim cover, Alpha was mostly exposed, but it was better than clear space. Alpha had unclipped the automatic needle weapon and selected the paralysis darts. Alpha started to spray sections of the room where shots were being fired from, or where the heat overlay indicated organics were hiding. Alpha was cautious enough to even spray the numerous bodies lying still, or twitching, on the floor. At this stage the fewer potential issues there were, the better the outcome.

Written in 365 Parts: 144: First Objective

Drick and Marsh moved quickly down the corridor avoiding the hardened forms of organics caught in the expanded foam from the stick bombs. As they passed each doorway they executed the same manouvre. One of them would crouch to the side of the hinges. The other would climb up the wall and adhere at frame height and upside down. Then the door would be opened and they would scan the room, both moving left to right but reversed to each other. 

Any organic would be shot with paralysing needles. Any machine, defensive or monitoring, would be hit with a micro-pulse from the electro-magnetic discharger they carried. If the machine looked to be shielded they would toss a static discharger onto it. The discharger would shock the machine if it attempted to move or give any signal. 

They soon reached the double doors at the end of the corridor. This was their first objective. This room contained the offices of the highest ranking security operative in the compound. They went by the name of Max Ducotte according to the nameplate on the door. Their title was regional security administrator. Drick paused and raised a brow behind the faceplate. There were no visible signs of an issue, but Drick had developed a special wariness, and the only times they ignored that feeling they regretted.

Drick motioned for Marsh to hold, and then they took out a handheld scanner. It wasn’t very accurate but it might detect an issue. Drick did a broad scan across visible and non-visible electro-magnetic spectrums. Then checked radio and magnetic spectrums. The scan came back with some slight inconsistencies but nothing dramatic. However there was still something gnawing at Drick. Then they understood. The room must be shielded. There was no organic life, or heat trace, on the monitor, and yet the officer was in there according to the intel they had from three minutes previously.

Drick paused to consider. There was nothing listed on the schematics as that unusual about this room. The doors were standard fire-resistant and attack-resistant security panels. The room beyond fitted with surveillance counter-measures that would have been taken offline by the pulse. The hand scanner was limited but it should be showing at least a faint trace of an organic life through the doors. 

There were two conclusions. One, the room was empty of organic life, even if recently deceased they would still be giving off heat. Two, the doors and room had been upgraded from the original recorded schematics.

Drick decided that option two was the more likely answer. This meant adapting the plans. They had originally wanted to use the doorways for a direct assault. But that may not be possible. So a two pronged attack would have to be used. Keep the original plan, but add to that plan. 

Drick indicated to Marsh to start preparations for a full assault on the doorway. Drick checked the schematics and moved back down the corridor to where there was a small maintenance doorway. Drick opened it and looked at the long oblong room. According to the building layout the end of this room was adjacent to the end room. Drick went to the wall and quickly started to pull an explosives kit out of the satchell. A few seconds was all that was needed to set force directed ordinance in place. 

Then Drick erected a small kinetic shield at the far end of the small cupboard near the doorway. The shield used an electrostatic force to repel ballistic objects. It should deflect the secondary effects of the explosion before draining its power cells. A quick look outside and Drick saw that Marsh had moved back to be parallel with the maintenance doorway. Marsh was erecting a similar shield. Drick gave a signal and they both activated the charges they had placed.

Written in 365 Parts: 143: Incoming Ghosts

Drick Alpha sent a coded burst with a data package detailing the current situation to command. Rodero unwrapped the information and added the live views from their feeds to the assessment. Alpha and Charlie wanted to get close to the suit and Rodero didn’t envy them. It was a very dangerous piece of machinery. More tank than assault suit and more than competent enough to push back the entire attack. It was unlikely that there were more than this one in the tower. This suit alone was unusual and broke about five thousand city ordinances.

Alpha was requesting a diversion so that the two Dricks could get closer to the suit and incapacitate the machine and its operator. Rodero would have thought withdrawing to a minimum safe distance of a hundred kilometres and using a low yield tactical strike would probably discourage the suit, though maybe not stop it. Rodero pulled multiple screens into view detailing full statistics on the unit. They showed combat profiles, materials in the construction, payload types and configurations, deployment situations, control systems, and most importantly any weak points.

After a few seconds, while Rodero immersed in synchronous communication with multiple constructs and their own super command construct, they had an answer. In regards to the suits armour and weaponry it had few weaknesses, the only one that would be suitable was already the suggestion Alpha and Charlie had devised. However in regards to the suits monitors and sensors there was a single weakness. 

The suit had a flaw in its threat capacity. If it was presented with too many targets and incoming information it tended to prioritise for maximum threats only. This wasn’t a flaw in itself, however on this particular model that meant that some objects were not just placed on a low threat status they were dropped as threats completely. Effectively, if presented with too much data the system queued the information by level of importance. Less threats were moved to a lower priority and data about them placed into storage or disregarded. The systems were finite, and on this machine finite was around ten thousand individual threats. After a few thousand it started to disregard data until it reached a saturation where it stopped everything but minimal threat assessment, and limited that to ten thousand objects. It had no capacity to hold any further data, and no way in which to store it for future assessment, so it was ignored. Those threats would be invisible.

Rodero verified that the assault teams for the building were all still tied into the main security and monitoring systems. Then Rodero analysed the whole of the connections being fed to the combat suit. A small guilty smile of pleasure crossed Rodero’s face. Typical. When spending close to three quarters of a billion credits on a top of the range assault suit, the absolute last thing you wanted to do was give any pilot of such a suit any level of fully autonomous control. The suit’s systems were tied directly into the main security systems. It wasn’t a wholly stupid idea. The suit would use all of the security systems for additional information and to offload capacity overcoming the potential flaws of its own systems. At the same time it would also be able to receive immediate new threat information not available to its own systems. 

However, the company had decided that any pilot of the suit would not be given full authoritative control. This amounted to overrides being switched in favour of the buildings command computers. The security system was treated as a single point of truth. The user could not override this. So if, for instance, the buildings systems determined that a half million ground assault troops were attacking in mixed formations using tactical nuclear weaponry it would place them as the highest threat level and utilise all system resources to combating them. Any other information would be dumped. The pilot could not override this, they couldn’t even turn the suit off as it could be remote operated. In fact in the event of such a massive threat the pilot was automatically overridden in favour of the suits faster, and more superior, algorithms for dealing with the highest level of threat first.

Rodero quickly assembled a construct that matched the building foyer and adjoining areas. Then the outside world was drawn with significant changes to the level of threat. Rodero slowly uploaded the construct over the real world information being supplied to the suit by the master security system. 

For the suit the world changed. It didn’t know there was a change, but change occurred. Drop ships had slowly moved into position and were opening bay doors to release waves of ground assault marines in full combat armour. Rodero made sure to place the position of each ship in a clear space so that no building or vehicle was directly in front of it, or directly behind. Similarly the troops all dropped into positions clear of organics. The suit was about to go ballistic in a big way and Rodero wanted to minimise any potential collateral damage.

Rodero watched as the combat armour moved forwards and then squatted down. The large automatic cannon on the back of the suit moved up its rails onto the left shoulder and started to auto-target the thousands of incoming ghosts. The arms lifted and a dazzling array of weaponry sprang forth. The suit upped its stance to full tactical resistance and targeted the waves of ghosts.