Dead... and Back is a survival horror Role Playing Game. The Anarchy Zones is its official setting - aliens, reanimates, and the ruins of 2055 America.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Internal Treachery

I used to have an old framed comic sitting on my desk. A character proclaimed "I love mankind, its humanity that I can't stand!"

That seems to be the rule here. For all the bluster that one of the G-zones will emerge to lead us and reclaim or reformat the world, I just can't recommend visiting one. They have this us or them mentality that sees outsiders as resource at best, or a public utility pipe to bring in materials and export waste.

There was this one guy I knew. Went in, and got accused of murder. Hadn't been there when it occurred, had no motive, or even knowledge that the victim existed. But when strangers show up, its time air out old grievances.

Now his experience was singularly bad, I should point out. It would be wrong to presume they always jump to that conclusion. Sometimes its a more round about path - a lot of people want to do things off the books. Not always bad things. A lot of people down in New Birmingham appreciate playing cards with people who won't rat them out to the though police for gambling. Other places will pay for an impartial arbiter with no stake to mediate claims.

Some unscrupulous individuals will ask you to liquidate a rival for them, rather than just blaming it on you.

Point is, people in the cities have an agenda. We all do. But in the zone, its make yourself comfortable, explore, find a lost relative, find a way to die with glory and honor to atone for all the friends you lost in The Event, or find the recipe for all those flavors of ice cream you recall as a kid.

City states tend to have bigger goals, and ones that need more vision to acquire. Whenever something must be pictured, there are those who thing they'll be the better photographer.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Answer is Glowin' in the Wind

The world of 2055 is not a copy of 1955, nor of the ideas for the future from 1955. Atomic power is not the answer to everything. However, there are still a number of places to be avoided due to radiation hazards.

Unlike the whimsical title of this post, radiation gives little visible sign of its presence. If you can see radiation, there are generally three causes:
  • It is affecting some other material, causing it to fluoresce
  • Small particles are exceeding the local speed of light (slowed due to water refraction) producing a blow glow know as Cerenkov radiation.
  • You're viewing a source powerful enough that you'll be dead in a matter of moments.
Aside from that, it has no odor, taste, or feel - the few signs being its health affects in the form of poisoning. Some truly astute observers might notice the effects on the environment - dead pine trees, clear water with an absence of micro-biotic life, and the like.

Nuclear power plants built in the mid twenty-first century are far better designed than the first and second generation plants of the sixties and seventies. Almost all are passively safe - overheating shuts down the reactor rather than causing a meltdown for example. Almost no civilian reactor had releases of radiation due to The Event.

Nuclear powered warships are a somewhat different matter. Most were sunk at sea, and are sufficiently far underwater to be effectively non-hazards.  The aliens did hit some in port, and of course, many ports built to handle such vessels had radiological materials on site for refueling or recently removed.

Fallout is an issue in some areas. Most militaries generally tried to either use high-altitude air-bursts or deep subsurface blasts. Although these techniques minimized the amount of material exposed to radiation and thrown into the atmosphere, short of avoiding atomic weapons, it can't be completely prevented. After five years, almost nothing remains in the atmosphere, and exposed materials are inert, but some long lived isotopes remain. These are unlikely to be directly deadly in the short term, but as mentioned before - high radiation can destroy nano-vac, which leaves people far more open to opportunistic infections.

Another source of hazard are the multitudes of no longer accounted for point sources. Gamma irradiation machines from food processing, various calibration devices, or the cores of radio-therapy machines in abandoned hospitals. (See the GoiĆ¢nia accident for a real life example of what harm those can do.) Unfortunatly, there are some scavengers who don't know the danger and are acquiring hazardous materials unwittingly. Crossbow teams from Las Vegas are often sent to look for not just nuclear weapons, but old sources as well because of this danger.

Friday, August 26, 2011

type one incoming

Franklin was bone white and wheezing like a half-drowned man even before he struggled up the knotted rope to the third floor hideout. Ben had to pull him through the widow and prop him on the couch across from it.

"A whole army of them" Franklin croaked between gasps "Had to sprint six blocks to avoid being seen."
   "Any follow you here?"
Frank shook his head.
  "Good, you rest now - when the others get back, we'll make evacuation plans."

"Like hell we will!" It was Marci - a full five and a half feet (5' 3" without combat boots) of crew-cut, spit-shine, and gung-ho marine. "We are this close to getting them! I confirmed it, the vehicles are still there and the hatches dogged - now is the time"
   "Didn't you just hear Frank - we've been here too long - the things are waking up and swarming."

Ben sized up the opponent. On one hand, the police forensics man was a good four inches taller, and twenty pounds heavier. On the other - most of that was just pure fat, and it was desk job versus active marine. A long moment of silence passed, but then it seemed words become adequate again.

"Is it really such a sure thing boot-champ? If it really worth it - wouldn't the national guard ahve taken the APCs with them when they retreated." Ben began again
The marine shook his head. "First of all, its pronounced "Boo-show"
   "Whatever Frenchie"
   "Does that matter?"
   "If I am the one who has the knowledge, it behooves me to be the most correct. As it works out, the vehicles are probably a write off - out of fuel, break down, or fried by alien rad cannons. Besides, high maintenance vehicles aren't worth much, we're here for the EM-Rats."
  "And those are worth our lives?"
  "Of course. Just because you never saw them in action" The marine chuckled - "Oh, back in Argentina, it was a be-you-tee-ful thing."
   "Are they the reason you're the only person I've met that doesn't find the whole Southern Drone war one big cluster F--" Frank interjected.
   "It all depended on where you deployed. They were really selective about which areas to make a stand..."

Another person entered the room, a medium height brunette paramedic named Alice, de facto leader of the group. "If you're sharing war stories can I join in?"
   "Right now" Ben began "is talk some sense into this guy. "Frank spotted a whole bunch a reanimates and yet, he still wants to go for the booty."
   "I ain't denying there is a risk when dealing with a butt-ton of reanimates, but we're looking at em-rats here."
   "Which is?" Alice asked.
   "Multiple Role Aircraft and Tank - combined shaped charge and expanding rod warhead. Select a mode, and it can slag a tank twelve miles away, or a fighter five miles high."
   "How big are they?"
   "Say, 140, 160 pounds, ten inches around, bit over six feet long - not including the launchers."
   "Sorry Mr. Beauxcamp, but it doesn't sound like we can move many of these things any reasonable distance. I'm going to have to call this one over - pack it in."
  "Don't do this!" the marine shouted, then paused. "Sorry, didn't mean to raise my voice to a lady. But all due respect ma'am, at least wait until the other two get back. These things will give us a week at any good town - maybe more. You're looking at either an eighty foot fragmentation radius, wipe out a heck of a lot of Rovers,, or enough directed power to slag a tank. It will outright vaporize anything the aliens have."
   "Ok, you've got my interest again. Week per missile, or the lot of them?"
   "You know how prices shoot up for groups. More of us, less the town likes... six of us - umm"
   "I'm waiting"
   "Day, day and a half per missile, a bit more with the single launchers, for the whole group. Not including anything else in the vehicles equipment locker - gauss guns, a payload rifle probably, tools -"
   "Any twenty seven millimeter shells are mine, but the rest sounds like profit.But we'll need to be quick. Ones might wake up first, but the others can't be far behind."

Monday, August 22, 2011

Where Have all the Robots Gone?

"Hey, Shu, Stupid question - why aren't we sending a robot to do this job?"
   "We don't have a robot."
   "Yeah, but you used to work for U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men, Inc.right? And there are plenty of machines left lying around..."
   "Where to begin - I wasn't a factory worker for one. We had machines for that - real surprise? Secondly, robots aren't built for this. Just like cybernetics - we built to minimum specifications. You don't build a surgery bot with the power to punch through a bank vault imagine what it could do if there was a problem during surgery? Durability doesn't pay either."
  "Why not? Isn't the whole point of a robot being tougher and stronger than a human to do dangerous jobs. The surgery example makes plenty of sense - but military bots?"
   "So you can make it three-hundred kilograms and able to resit mines -but hard to transport, or two kilos, and let it blow up itself and the mine each time. Giving each soldier five or six mouse-bots means they're more likely to get used - which translates into safer soldiers than ones relying on robot that isn't there. And of course, more replacement order for us."
   "The old planned obsolescence ploy."
   "Hardly that mercenary. But unless its an industrial welding arm, using steel when aluminum, zinc alloy, or polymer can do just as well is adding extra weight - which means a need for bigger motors, more power, more expense - aside from mine clearing units, our bots were built to last, just not to resist and overcome. So protection against emp level surges, collapsing buildings, wandering rubble, going without lubricants - you can find robots, but frankly, a mobile humanoid isn't that useful compared to how hard bipedalism is."
   "Good news if they ever rebelled - hunh?"
   "In most applications, we didn't need anything that smart. Really - does the pool boy need to be able to quote philosophy or just look good in shorts and ready for when the misses isn't around?"
   "I didn't need to know that."

Friday, August 19, 2011

What to Wear to a Black Tie Gunfight

I haven't been feeling well, and have had obligations to attend to, so this has been a less than productive week. Next week should be a five entry make-up week, provided I can think of anything.

"Today's lunchtime topic - Encounter suits and other armor. We will start with body armor. Nice, simple, and far more complex than you think.

There are two main types solid and liquid. There is no gas or plasma armor - and if they existed, it would be pretty hard to wear. Solid armor is the older and cheaper technology - high strength ballistic fibers interwoven with the occasional ceramic or metal plate to catch and stop projectiles. Its been the standby for about a century now, and in most places, what you would find. Liquid armor uses nanotech rehological nonnewtonian fluids - which is a bunch of ten dollar words to describe something with the consistency of toothpaste that stops bullets whenever it is put under pressure or receives an electric charge.

Liquid armor is somewhat flexible, making it less fatiguing to wear due to greater comfort. Its also more resistant to environmental factors - Kevlar that is wet, or gotten dirt in its weaves, or abraded by the environment - even long term storage can be a negative - won't work as well, if at all. Liquid armor is also somewhat more reusable. Technically, an old bullet proof vest is a one use item, though everyone has probably gotten away with more than that at some point in the zone.

Old style armor is cheaper to produce, works just fine - or with trauma plates - better, and is easier to replicate. You might find a micro-fac that can spin ballistic silk, but liquid armor is too new, and too closely guarded a secret to still be made.

Power Armor. Thats a term with a lot of endearment. Everybody wants one. Thing is, it is not really armor. Better than a ballistic vest, but the main purpose is to provide additional technology and carrying capacity to troops. Despite the stories, a heavy machine-gun, auto-cannon, or even a sniper with a heavy anti-material rifle can rip a Papa November a new one. However, on board radar and thermal imagers mean you might be able to see that gun or sniper and react, while the better capacity means you can carry an anti-tank missile to deal with that vehicle from miles away.

Even if the extra weapons aren't available, and it doesn't make you superman, the capacity or tech alone makes it great - right? Well, like a combat jet, they do take a lot of maintenance. Furthermore, its a little more complex than simply put it on and turn it loose - you need some time to adjust, and hopefully a bit of training. Diego has met more than one person who broke a limb because the armor tried to move or close up before they were ready, and there is a bit of a lag in movement - it often seems a bit more like swimming than walking.

What is probably at once the most familiar and enigmatic at the same time is the Eekaide. Most of us call them Incubus power armors, or simply those alien walking machines. Some of the more sadistic amongst you might call them target practice. I'm not here to judge, and there are citizens that pose a legitimate threat - but it may be helpful to try and get along. Remember, each one contains an intelligent being and could very well be your friend under better circumstances.

Now that intelligent being inside tends to refer to it as an eye-ka-ih-dee or alternately...eye-ka-ee-day. No, I can't hear the difference either, but apparently the Citizens can. It means either utility carapace, or encounter carapace. Functionally its kind of a mater of tense I guess - is it a suit there to be used or do you actively go out and operate it in the field.Suit is relative though - its piloted by a sitting individual in a cockpit, not worn.

From the citizens point of view its actually somewhat akin to a fork-lift, albeit one that can shatter concrete and pull apart I-beams. However, its built for abuse and hazardous environments, so it works in combat too. It is tougher than most human power armors - the only one that might be on par with the Might MacArthur which is one of the heaviest - though its notably faster than that one.

Well, that wraps up this broadcast for now. Be careful out there."

Monday, August 15, 2011

Threat Briefing: M-309 Powel

An image flashed on screen - a huge wedge sitting on rollers and a rubber chain. Atop that a hexagonal rotating box, from one facet a long thin tube emerged. Four others featured small barbetts, the lenses for the anti-missile lasers barely visible. On the rear, sixteen hatches for a vertical launch system. Almost as an afterthought, a grenade launcher on top of the hexagon, in its own little turret. The folding slats for stand off detonation, and the convertible like top that hid the upper works from top attack munitions weren't present on this one. 

Instructor FFDE-03 snapped his pointer against the wall for emphasis.

"This is one of the most dangerous things you can face on patrol, possibly worse than an annihilator. A gun island. Or to use the - Human - term for it - "Emm-tree-zerro-neen Pow-el Thank"
   You can see the dimensions printed in the margins, but that just doesn't do it justice, not until you've seen one. Its Longer than an Ekadie is tall, and weights several times as much. Yet, on open terrain, it is also faster, by at least fifty percent. Of course, in open terrain it doesn't need to outrun an Ekaide - that type three main gun can shatter a carapace at almost any visible distance.
   Conversely, it is highly resistant to our weapons. Standard hot light emitters can't burn through anything but ancillary parts like rollers or optics, and short wave weapons don't seem to penetrate its armor either. Heavy rocket guns can pierce the sides or rear at optimal range - and only optimal range. Too close or too far, it won't have the energy. The only thing we have that can almost reliably damage it are missiles. Unfortunately, it has numerous systems to resit those - interception hot light emitters, and some sort of exploding boxes that destroy the missile just before impact. We're working on reverse engineering those."

One of the pilots in the back raised its right arms and hummed an interruption melody.
   "Combat leader - what is the purpose of these things, where did they come from? Surly the humans had as little way of knowing we would show up as our leaders did."
   "That is a good point. The short answer seems to be that the indigenous species are as divided into families and guilds as we are, but did not emigrate to new territory as readily as our defeated groups did. It is a relic from their wars, and as you must note, the geography of this world is very different from home. The land masses are far most contiguous, and often a bit flatter, deserts somewhat more rare. Ground transportation from our point of view isn't efficient - better to use boasts to go around the coast or fliers to go over terrain. Here entire wars could be fought without seeing water.
   Actually, you could call this thank thing some kind of land ship. Shooting first with the biggest gun at long range, or having the armor to resit the initial volleys is just like on the water where there is nothing to hide behind.
   Which returns me to my original line of discussion. Don't try to engage these in a fair fight. Keep terrain between you and it. Try to pull back and order in air strikes if we can spare any. Collapse structures on it - an encounter carapace is far more mobile and far better at going through narrow or rocky terrain than the human machine. Our power cells seem to last a lot longer than theirs, so if you can keep running, it will give up fairly quickly....
  CFGB-4 eyes front - all of them! Are you paying attention?
   "Yes leader."
   "Care to tell me how many missiles the unit has?"
   "It has access to multiple types of missiles - medium range anti-aircraft and smaller land attack ones. It can carry a mix of them, several of the smaller ones fitting in one launcher - but are unlikely to have all that many due to the current supply situation."
   "Do you actually know that - or were you just reading ahead?"
   "Can't it be both?"
   "I really hate you shokenda types."
   "Well you're stuck with us, or at least would be if it wasn't time for the patrols to get ready - looks like you're going to have to cut this briefing short."
   "I am the one in charge here. I will decide when the briefing is over! As for the rest of you... this briefing is concluded. Get ready and be safe!"

Two dozen citzens stood up in unison, crossed their arms against their chests, and replied together  "From the world to us - then on to greatness!"

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Alternate D&B Setting: Unit 2552 Part Three


There are two main types of creatures produced by biopreparat. Chimeras are often (though not always) derived from non-human creatures and are built with semi-specific goals in mind. For example, an acid spitting cat like creature meant to sabotage military bases and equipment. The other type is Hematavores - former humans that have become vampire like creatures.

Hematavores are further split into five classifications:
  1. Relentless: Zombie like, but fast, with high tolerance of pain
  2. Cunning: Focused on a single target, a hard to kill assassin
  3. Sadistic: Stronger, slower, and more likely to continually desecrate bodies than move on.
  4. Serial: Capable of attacks over the course of weeks or months with little resupply.
  5. Infiltrator: Capable of speach, thought, and disguise
There is some variation within each category, but each is meant to fit a notable military function. Relentless ones are simple to create shock troopers mostly meant as bullet sponges for other soldiers. Cunning are for taking out specific targets and ignoring anything that doesn't physically get in its way. Sadistic and Serial are for anti-psychology operations - one leaves scenes of great brutality to demoralize the enemy, the other never gives them respite.Infiltrators are alternately super commandos, or personnel that can be re-used for menial tasks behind the front lines - freeing up the living to keep fighting.

Notably, none of the hematavores are notably superhuman. They don't feature armored skin, and can technically be killed without destroying the head. However, provided the right drugs (the ones used to control them - see below) they have a near infinite pain threshold and supply of adrenaline - a relentless type could probably run a marathon even after both legs were shot off at the knee.

A body needs to be mostly intact to be used for the hematavore process. They will usually be stitched up and clothed as needed, so the end result is a fairly normal looking person, though some might show heavy scarring depending on the end of their former life. Sadistic and Relentless types are the notable exceptions.
   Sadistic types end up a bit larger, looking more like body builders, though often wires, tubes, or small boxes can be seen just under the skin - something is quite obviously wrong.
   Relentless types have even more machinery sticking out of them, and large layers of subcutacious fat to sustain them - a ready to deply one appears quite corpulent. Meanwhile, one that has been operating in the field will be gaunt in most areas, with folds of skin hanging from others. At almost no point do they have what seems to be healthy proportions, but since they don't need to sleep - are often used at night when the enemy is less likely to notice.

There are two main physical restrictions on the creatures produced by Biopreparat.

Hematavores drink blood - hence the name - but not necessarily for food. Despite the occasional off-the-wall attempt, no supernatural creatures have proven possible, and from a natural standpoint, very few things can subsist on blood alone. However, they are conditioned to need it as one of the

What they do actually require is certain types of drugs. The cellular regeneration rates of the creatures is limited without certain strong stimulants - limiting their capacity to repair damage. This also means that they should have a limited life span of a few months to years.Secondly, they need other chemicals to keep them from collapsing in pain and shock - a precaution that can limit some types to as little as two weeks of operation.

Unfortunately, many of the drugs were either already common ones adapted to other purposes, or have certain analogs more common than the actual type. A hematavore that can find a supply of cocaine, heroin, certain anti-depression medications, Attention Deficit Disorder treatments, PCP and a number of other possibilities, circumvents the main chemical controls.

Basic Hematavore Stats:
Before the additional surgeries, chemical augmentation,and training, all hematavores start with a simple template. Although such basic creatures could exist, they are not notably aggressive an a minimal threat.
  • Stregnth: 3
  • Tech: 2
  • Quick: 2
  • Wits: 1
  • Close Combat: 3
  • Ranged: 1
  • SDI: 2
  • Necrotic Threshold*: 2
  • NecroPoints: 1
Relentless Type: 
   SDI increased to three, Quick to four, and two NP rather than one
    Wits 2, Ranged 3
    Strength to Five, Close combat four, SDI three
    Wit 2, NP 6, NT 2
    Tech, quick, wits, ranged attack, and NP to three. Often smart enough to acquire body armor raising SDI as well.

*To clarify Necrotic Threshold - the creature ignores a number of otherwise successful hits, but otherwise loses NP like animus (though usually without slowing down).
   For example, against an NT 2 SDI 2, NP 2 creature is attacked by a character with Ranged Attack 4 and an DR 3 weapon. 4d6 is rolled, and the result is 2,6,6,6 - three hits. However, the NT reduces this to only one success, meaning the stats are now NT2 SDI 2 NP 1.
   Generally speaking, a high SDI means the creature in invulnerable to lesser weapons and a specific area must be destroyed. NT is usually coupled with low SDI, means it can be wounded, it just takes a lot of damage before dying.
   No amount of rifle bullets will destroy a tank, but a hit to its weak armor on the rear with a man-portable rocket will ruin the vehicle. An airplane can be shot down with a machine-gun, but a lot of holes need to be made assuring vital systems are compromised.

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    Target Practice

    The wall was covered with strange black welts - shallow bowls of obsidian glass a hand span across. Another scab popped off the concrete with a sound like a great hammer striking. Citizen lasers didn't penetrate concrete all that well - instead they flash explode what little moisture is present, and melt the substrate.

    Satisfied, the pilot carefully set down the two meter laser apparatus, and picked another. This was shorter and stubbier, and oval in over all shape rather than lightning bolt. A bite was taken out of the back end, forming a groove to place the encounter suit's right hand, connecting the weapon to power ports and targeting. A satisfying hum began to emanate as the capacitors charged up.

    Moments later, the Ekaide sprang into action, leaping forward like a grasshopper. For a four meter machine with legs seemingly too spindly for its bulk, the thing was quick to accelerate. The weapon swung to the left, and even combination of torso twist and arm movement. It tracked across a yellow line painted on a wall fifty meters away. Next the armor leaped sideways to the right, swung its left foot around to preform a quick one-eighty turn....

    And hit a chunk of concrete, tripping. With a seemingly natural movement born from its computers, the left hand reached forward to cushion its fall, but the armor's face still planted itself on the broken road. Inside, monitors momentarily flickered and a warring klaxon blared.

    Nothing damaged but pride, the alien set the machine to do a one armed push up, then curled the legs under, and stood up. The machine's head shook, mirroring it pilot. She then walked back to the start mark, reset the chronometer, and readied to start the beam cannon run again.

    Another quick start, cannon tracking fleeing prey, turn about, fire at ambush, duck behind an old semi and crouch. Breath calmly and let the capacitors and cooling system catch up, reading for a full thirty second blast. Dash out from behind the vehicle, sweep building to the left while looking right for signs of missiles, jump from the yellow spot to the yellow X, then duck and push into the old open garage. Check time.

    Still not setting any records, but better than last week - minus the face fault. Time for something different.

    In the center of an intersection was an old human armor, propped up by some metal bards driven into the pavement like an anti-tank scarecrow. It was the common soldier one, smaller and slower than the Ekaide, but often equipped with deadly rocket launchers and not to be underestimated. After placing the gun on the hood of an old car, the armor balled up its fists, and approached, arms in front like a boxer. Quite unlike the human machine, the encounter suit's hands were built to take the rigors of close combat.

    First the right arm blurred as a fist jabbed at the enemy's head. A lower punch to the gut from the left followed soon after, then two for quick punches from the fight. Some more cracks appeared in the smaller machine, but it had been filled with adobe like building material so it wouldn't simply disintegrate under continued practice runs. All the while, the legs bobbed and side stepped.

    Punching an unmoving target didn't stay interesting for long though. Ambush drills were getting repetitive too. With deliberate attention, the pilot began flipping switches for the shut-down sequence. The front plate folded down to provide egress, as the legs crouched to bring it to a more reasonable height. Buckles unfastened, legs unstrapping from the sitting position of the pilots seat, and one arm grabbing the pilots sidearm, another a food bar, and the last two steadiness her as when shifted and got out.

    A quick treat, and then on to personal weapons practice. Overhead a foreign sun hit its apex.

    Friday, August 5, 2011

    Fueling the Problem

    Multi-Fuel vehicles fall into two broad categories, coequally termed Pistons and Fans. Piston units, more properly, adaptive internal combustion (A.I.C.) enginess - are computer controlled, detect what fuel is in use, and and adjust the timings accordingly, but otherwise operate akin to a standard gasoline engine. Conversely, "fans" are based on turbine technology - powered by heat, steam, and whatever will burn.

    Piston A.I.C. engines show distinctly better fuel economy. Their parts are also a bit less exotic - turbine blades are chunks of metal grown like crystals for superior strength, while a cam shaft can be turned out on any properly set metal lathe. However, they do tend to have somewhat more parts - spark plugs, fuel lines, timing systems, injectors and so forth. They tend to work best when using only one fuel type at a time, and often require extra maintenance to remove deposits or flush lines to avoid corrosion or the timing set off. Perhaps the most problematic element is since the fuel flow, combustion, and exhaust rates are computer controlled, these types were far more likely to have been compromised by the EMP.

    Turbines simply need heat, and will work with mixed fuels of any grade, or even mixed types at once. Some even get hot enough to use paraffin (which is solid at 134 degrees F / 57C) or use natural oils unadulterated. Rather than being direct drives like A.I.C.s (usually) are, turbines act as electrical plants for electric other motors - so there is less to worry about in ways of a transmission or a single drive shaft. This also means that they're the right choice for vehicles than need a lot of electricity for systems like radar, rail guns, anti-missile lasers or large communication arrays. The trade off is, they're hotter, (essentially a small jet engine running a power plant), somewhat loud (though there is often insulation), more polluting, and somewhat exotic to fix. Worse yet, despite the easier time finding fuel, turbines are about two orders of magnitude less efficient in mileage. While an AIC can optimize combustion to nearly 40 miles per gallon of methanol (17 Km per liter) turbines often get fractions of a mile to the gallon - though some complex machines use systems that will get two or three miles to the gallon.

    It is fairly unlikely to find turbines in civilian vehicles due to the hot exhaust and low efficiency. Not impossible though, for example, turbine racing motorcycles were quite popular in the 40s. Military vehicles show somewhat more variety. Tanks with heavy weapons and many redundant electric motors driving the treads almost universally use turbines. Others depend on the manufacture - some will use fuel cells for weapons and A.I.C. units for moving, others will simply eschew high energy systems for missiles and conventional guns. Vehicles do not have nearly as many limits on storage capacity and weight as infantry, so a multi-task Gauss rifle is less needed when a normal fifty-caliber weapon will do.

    Although range based on hydrocarbon fuel is usually the gold standard, Petrol is an extremely rare fuel at this point - both from peak oil, usage, and going stale from sitting. Plant based replacements - algae reacted bio-petrol, methanol, and ethanol are more common in liquid form. Hydrogen as seen some use, but only in areas near water and with plenty of electricity to produce on site - the economics of moving cryogenic liquid or very diffuse gas never really materialized.

    In North America at least, there was no single solution to the problem of fuel production. Indeed, the faster and cheaper solution was to generally eliminate the need to travel and use fuel in the first place. Hence the presence of giant arcologies, fed by on site factories, with businesses manged through SPHERE augmented reality instead of on-site personnel. Even with multi-fuel vehicles, finding gas can be quite difficult.

    Other Power Sources
    Fuel cells are a quite common source of power. Although not always as efficient as batteries, in many applications, its quicker to refuel than recharge. Indeed, most major back-up systems now use such cells, since its easier to transport hydrogen or ethanol than car sized acid cells or four hundred degree thermal batteries.

    Batter are rather common in cars. Often these are in the form of large packs on the underside of the car, designed to be swapped out with the right equipment. Rather than the vehicle remaining stationary for long periods of time while charging, the batter is replaced in a matter of minuets, and the old cell is then plugged in. These 100 kilo batteries have found a number of uses in the zone, even when the cars no longer function.

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    Ride Along with Right Thought

    [Interior Shot - Classroom, Early Afternoon. Furnishings are worn, mostly off camera. FoV focused on a man, mid 40s, chestnut hair, well trimmed mustache, blue polo shirt. He begins speaking:]

    There are a lot of odd beliefs about Right Thought. Some are simply bizarre - like we have a secret knock or only wear rings on our right hand. Others are downright blasphemous. One rumor connects us to some Roman time conspiracy of a fourteenth disciple of Jesus. [Shakes head dismissively]
       But the thing you must believe is, we want what is best for you - for your soul. No strange signs or ceremony - just an oath from Ezekiel 18:23 [Camera pans upwards to a banner about the blackboard as the speaker continues, it reads "declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live" Fade to black]

    [Opening theme plays over montage of officers entering homes or patrolling streets. Final shot is of a church, slowly panning to top of steeple while voice-over plays:]
       "Inquisition is filmed with the men of Right Thought. All suspects are considered sinners until they receive the forgiveness of the LORD."

    [Interior shot, automobile, Priest driving]
       Most everyone has their moment of weakness - that is why god's son and his loyal servants are there for you. There are those who give in. It must be between the person and god to return to righteousness. But that pull away is strong. We are a rope to tie to the Rock.
       We're heading to a special case. He was given a warning - and had stopped. Entirely. Some can do that, they are truely blessed. But most need weaning, coaching, confession, prayer. An abrupt stop is all too often an attempt to be more discrete than true recovery.
      We're here.

    [Camera Two - Exterior shot, red brick three flat apartment building with too many layers of white paint flaking off a decades old brick facade.Priest from car walks from off cmera left forwards to door, camera view gives chase, both stop near door]
       "See how it decays? That is what sin does, just not so evident. Well, no sense in delaying salvation - yes?
    [Knocks on Door]
       "Mr. [REDACTED] open up. This is Brother Anderson of Right Thought!
    [Door opens, though chain remains connected, Blond woman peeks through gap.]
       "I'm sorry sir, Mr. [REDACTED] is not here right now.
       "Who might you be miss?
       "I'm [REDACTED]"
       "Are you sure he isn't here? He was instructed to be on the premises."
       "I just do the laundry and keep the place clean. I can't help you." [Door Shuts]
    "This is odd, but not unexpected. I was hoping he would be reasonable and came alone. That does not seem to be the case. So now I need to call in for back-up, and an entry team will be here shortly. We will have to search the premise, and will probably find something that shouldn't be there.
       People seem to think its harmless, and what else is there to do when we're stuck in little camps like this. Or else fall back on the old excuse, it was legal before the Event. But really, what kind of logic was that? - Oh, he was such a nice boy until he killed all those people and wore their skins like trousers, I'm sure he is still a nice person now. Really, those were some hideous times indeed...
    [Cut to commercial - man in doctors scrubs with back to large white wall, to his right, pictures of the wasteland begin to flash.]
       The Event has purged a great deal of sinners from the land and many of the others are stuck in the wasteland, without proper acess to healthcare. Like those expelled from Eden, child birth is now a painful and dangerous burden.
    [Camera pans left, revealing the doctor is standing near a hospital maternity ward]
       But here in the community of New Birmingham we have access to the best medical care there is. Have you had children to sustain the righteous? It is your duty to bring forth the next generation. Generous rewards are available for those who bring four or more into the service of the lord. Inquire at...

    (For those of you not familiar with the show "Cops" - watch the intro sequence to better understand this homage)

    Monday, August 1, 2011

    Cybernetics (work in progress)

    "So, doc, what is his prognosis?"
       "Not as bad as it could be. A little better and I'd even say it was good."
       "You cut off his arm."
       "The alien was just swinging that radiation cannon blindly, it only winged him - well as much as turbocharged X--ray can. He is suffering from acute radiation poisoning, but he didn't get enough full body exposure to go beyond that. The biggest lingering problem is going to be his immune system is damaged, and a radiation dose like that probably destroyed any nano-vac that was in his system. He is probably going to need double doses, and a bit more to cover the surgery - and god knows that stuff isn't easy to come by around here.
        "You cut off his arm."
       "The arm took the brunt of it, the marrow was basically charred, so I needed to amputate to avoid blood poisoning or gangrene. But there is an upside to that. A nice clean medical removal means an intact stub and nerves, so he is a prime candidate for a cybernetic replacement. Its much worse if it gets ripped off - by... something."
       "You cut off his arm."
       "You cut off his arm."
       "Well this is bloody F-ing great. He is probably going to take this better than his sister."
    "Hey Alan - can you get up here for a moment? Jannie is a bit hysterical, and I'm going to need some help getting her to bed.

    "So - are you going to give him anything special?"
        "Please tell me you're not going there..."
       "I mean - we are an anti-alien resistance group, some super strength, or a laser..."
       "The joke wasn't funny the first day of med school, it isn't any better now. Cybernetics do not grant trans-human capabilities. Never have. Unless we gave him a titanium spine and steel carapace, trying to make a super limb would rip his shoulder blades out well before he could lift a car. The waste heat of an industrial laser can melt light metals - would could neither miniaturize one to fit in an eye, and it would set his head on fire if he tries to use it. Nor would there be a place for a coolant reservoir to maintain proper infrared vision."
    "Calm down man, I'm just trying to add levity to the situation"
    "don't tell me to calm down."
    "Well, then cool it."
    "Get out!"
    "Damn it, do you know what calming down means for me - two fifths of whiskey and beating my wife until I get twenty-five years for manslaughter."
    "I knew I should of shopped around for a better doctor."

    The punch was not unexpected, but fast.