Li DeTerra goes shopping

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SpongeJr
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Mon Jan 20, 2014 1:09 am

Simulations. Virtual flight partners. Interactive stories. Games. Not what he was looking for.
4-dimensional maps on every scale from 1 meter/second resolution up to astronomical scales. He would need maps, but none of these local ones would do. His computer already had every relevant bit of data available from Eridani cartography libraries -- plus a few bits that weren't commercially available.

"These aren't exactly the kinds of ROMs I had in mind..."

"Yes, of course... right this way, Mister..."

"DeTerra. Call me Li, though."

The clerk waved at the air. They weren't actually going anywhere.

Isaac Li DeTerra was browsing the ROM Biosoftware section of a holographic display shelf at the Flight Shop, a virtual store at Commonwealth Commodities. He had already spent more credits than he intended; the shop had a section of solar armor of just the type his ship required, and he couldn't pass it up. But he knew if he had any hope of reaching the Core, he was going to have to take a lot of gambles.

After a confirmatory tone, the clerk waved at the air a second time, and the display shelf and its contents slid quickly and silently out of view. Replacing them was a virtually identical shelf displaying a similar series of ROM Biosoft chips. These ROMs had no descriptions. No additional information. No names. Floating on the shelf next to each of them was only the price in credits and a string of characters in written in Universal. This was known as the "identifier", and generally consisted of a word or two that identified a particular encryption clan and a version number. Sometimes only one or the other would be found.

There were four available. One was labelled "V y ger 0110". There was no way to be sure, but from Li's experience, he guessed this one to be a leaked advance copy of the latest 3DV video story, scheduled to come out next week. There was news of a few hundred copies that made it to Starton Eridani being seized by authorities, and presumably there were a few hundred more that weren't seized. The second and third ROMs had an identical identifier of "GIZMO#320". It was uncommon to see two copies with the same identifier in the same store, due to how these ROMs were acquired. These caught his eye. The last ROM had an identifier of "©2418 NeuroSoft, rce". This one also intrigued him.

"One hundred forty-nine credits each," said the clerk.

"So they are. And the keys?" asked Li.

"One credit each."

It wasn't illegal to sell these "rogue" ROMs. It wasn't illegal to sell the encryption keys to decode them. It was, however, illegal to sell the two together as a single product or service. To work around this regulation, stores had taken to selling the ROMs for a price, and the encryption key as a separate purchase, typically for a single credit. Both the ROMs and the encryption keys were considered by the Commonwealth to be "fair works of art as ordered three-dimensional data" and "not intended to be used for execution as instructions or any other purposes" and "must be sold individually". In reality, either one was useless without the other, and no one ever bought them with the intention of using them as art of any sort...
I'm working on new sounds for Transcendence. Check out what I have so far: http://xelerus.de/index.php?s=mod&id=825
(still a work in progress, but it does work!)

SpongeJr
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Mon Jan 20, 2014 1:22 pm

"Those Centauri menacing the system won't have a chance against me. Linza should be able to pull a quarter of lightspeed now!" Li thought to himself. He had just had the main engines scrubbed and polished, a service that most ship owners might only have done once or twice in a decade, if at all. It wasn't even necessary; Li's Wolfen-class fighter was barely three years old. Still, he wanted his ship in top-notch shape for his journey to the Core. The scrub-down maintenance would insure that last two or three percent of performance was delivered from the 10 megawatt reactor to the Wolfen's main drive.

Li clicked a small button on his wrist computer. About half a meter in front of him a holographic checklist appeared. He had bought the ROMs. He had calibrated all of his ship's sensors, limited as they were. His ship's fuel was topped-off, and he had a dozen Helium-3 fuel rods for refueling. Emergency rations and water in case the ship's life-support matter synthesizer failed him. Check. Full systems diagnostics. Check. Icon of Domina mounted in the sleeper section of the ship. Check. All that was left for him to do now was stop at Flightthreads Eridani to have his freshly serviced backup flight suit delivered. Linza would indeed be pulling .25c, and if Li intended to reach those speeds, his flight suits had to be adjusted and calibrated for the immense acceleration forces. Li motioned at the air, and the holo-display in front of him faded from his view.

"Dock beta eight. Section zero three zero. Bay one," Li told the sales clerk that appeared in front of him where the checklist had been, "That's Linza."

"Thank you for your patronage," said the clerk, "The suit will be delivered before you get back to her, and we'll deduct the cost from your cash card when you confirm the receipt. Have a great day."

After a brief ride in the tubelift, Li was standing beside Linza. He motioned in the air, and a ladder began to extend leading up to her bridge. Li put a hand and foot on the ladder. Briefly, he looked behind him. Save for the plain, off-white walls of bay one and the tubelift platform, there was nothing. Still, the gesture somehow seemed appropriate. He might never again be in this star system again after today. A few hundred pilots from Eridani had already begun their journey after receiving the vision. Rich, poor, men and women alike, young and old, professionals and laborers... no pattern ever seemed to emerge. Anyone might be called by Domina. It was pointless to fight it. The few who tried simply found themselves more and more driven by visions during the day and dreams at night. To fight the calling was to fight oneself, and no one had found it fruitful to do so for more than a week or two. Li climbed determinedly up Linza's ladder, not looking back a second time...
I'm working on new sounds for Transcendence. Check out what I have so far: http://xelerus.de/index.php?s=mod&id=825
(still a work in progress, but it does work!)

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