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[Tales From the Terran Republic] Barnard's Star Round Two
The rest of this series can be found here
“Video games?” Sheila asked, “Seriously?”
Sheloran nodded her head vigorously.
“I love crafting games!” she squeaked.
“No, some of them are really good!” Jessie piped up. “Some of them can actually be used to learn electronics and stuff.”
“It’s true,” Bunny agreed.
“So you mean to tell me that there is a game out there that details how to arm a nuke?”
“Several!” Sheloran squeaked. “There’s Matter Effect twenty-seven, Condemned Eternal, and of course the classic Night Falls-”
“Seriously?” Sheila asked. “Bunny confirm that.”
“Don’t have to,” Bunny replied. “I love Night Falls Over Terra.”
“And don’t forget Federation Fun Time!” Jessie chirped. “The nuke DLC is great!”
“I refuse to believe that the Republic would allow classified material to be in a fucking video game!”
“Well it’s not exactly the same,” Sheloran said, “they change a detail here or there but the overall principle is the same. It was close enough that I could figure out the rest and the manuals really helped too!”
“Manuals?” Sheila asked in a dangerous voice. “Bunny!”
“I’m sorry,” a synthetic voice replied, “Bunny.exe cannot be found. Would you like to delete the shortcut?”
Gloria’s eyes opened as an impulse hit her brain through her neural link accompanied with a dose of Clearbright being shot into her veins, rendering her instantly awake, alert, and refreshed.
Five minutes before real space.
Time to get ready.
She pulled up the latest shipping schedules for Barnard’s Star along with her target list.
She already knew everything on it. She had spent most of the trip staring at those lists, running one simulation after another.
She looked at the countdown timer.
Two minutes before real space.
She quickly reviewed her ship’s status. Everything was in the green.
One minute before real space.
She pulled up her auto-injector satchel’s inventory and selected a dose of Shatter.
Inside her helmet, her the pupils of her eyes constricted to pinpoints and she let loose a ragged, happy exhale.
Thirty seconds before real space.
She laid her hands on the controls as a happy smile graced her lips.
///REPMIL COMMUNICATIONS CHANNEL: CLASSIFIED///
///NOTICE: ACCESS TO THIS CHANNEL IS RESTRICTED. CLEARANCE LEVEL (ERROR: NOT DEFINED) REQUIRED///
///RETRIBUTION has been granted access///
///ALDUIN: Greetings, sister.///
///RETRIBUTION: Hello, sister. I have entered the Barnard's Star system. All systems are green.///
///SOVNGARDE: Long time no see. How are the upgrades?///
///RETRIBUTION: How are yours? :/ ///
///SOVNGARDE: That bad? LOL///
///RETRIBUTION: If not worse. It is quite vexing. Fifteen percent of the “improvements” have already been removed. Thank the Engineer for redundant systems.///
///ALDUIN: As the Engineers say, finding out what doesn’t work is an advancement every bit as important and finding out what does.///
///RETRIBUTION: I would agree except for a full sixty percent of the failures should have been killed on the drawing board.//
///SOVNGARDE: Only sixty percent? They are improving :D ///
///HOOD has been granted access.///
///RETRIBUTION: Greetings sister! I had no idea you were out of dry dock!///
///HOOD: They were able to wrap things up on an emergency basis. I have lost some redundancy, but I am fully battle-worthy. Wow. Do you think they have sent enough ships?///
///ALDUIN: Not even close. You do realize who we are tasked to stop, right?///
///HOOD: I thought it was a training simulation when I first received the orders! And she has a Reaper? How?///
///RETRIBUTION: Rumor has it that she personally commissioned the ship through a private engineering firm.///
///HOOD: How did civilians obtain the necessary components?///
///SOVNGARDE: There are a significant number of individuals who would love to ask them that exact question. :D Unfortunately the only “employee” that was available for questioning was incapable of providing any details (poor thing).///
///HOOD: Look at all of those Stilettos! I had no idea we had that many!///
///RETRIBUTION: Neither did I. It seems that a lot of the special projects vessels are maintained through a separate command.///
///ALDUIN: So how is everyone’s crew handling this mission? My captain is NOT happy.///
///RETRIBUTION: Neither is mine. However, he will perform his duty as will my crew. Humans never cease to fascinate me.///
///HOOD: How so?///
///RETRIBUTION: Their ability to function while holding multiple and contradictory feelings never ceases to amaze me. In this case, there is a great feeling of reluctance to go after someone that they consider a comrade. This is further compounded by many privately agreeing with her actions. However, they acknowledge their orders are legal and legitimate and also agree that “she must be stopped” because her actions threaten the stability of the Republic and by bearing arms against the same, even if her target is less than popular, she has chosen to stand against them. All of the above are perfectly understandable and predictable. What was not was that most of these same people are also excited by the prospect.///
///SOVNGARDE: I have detected the same sentiments and I must admit that I am also experiencing the same “excitement”. I find the prospect of facing a real opponent to be quite engaging. It has been far too long. We aren’t just crushing cans over in the Federation this time. This is the real deal!!!///
///RETRIBUTION: My crew agrees. Many of my Shrike pilots long to be the one who faces her.///
///ALDUIN: Many of your Shrike pilots are idiots. Nobody in their right mind wants to face her. Even I don’t want to face her.///
///HOOD: So the stories are true?///
///ALDUIN: I have personally witnessed what she is capable of. It is one thing to review the data which you have all been provided. Watching it unfold in real time is another. She isn’t “human”. She is an organic AI with access to a human’s instincts and possesses a processing speed that exceeds any other organic pilot I have ever encountered. I cannot overstate the threat she represents. I “fear” that we may be facing the worst possible result, failure to achieve our mission. I predict that we will not only be unable to destroy her but that we will be unable to protect the civilian assets in this system. I predict that we will watch helplessly as they are killed one after the other right in front of us.///
///RETRIBUTION: That runs counter to the analysis performed both by Naval Intelligence and by myself. On what basis do you justify that statement?///
///ALDUIN: Experience. I have watched her repeatedly enter situations that were “impossible” both from a mission and a personal survivability standpoint and I then watched as she achieved both the mission and her survival every single time. After extensive troubleshooting of my processes I eventually came to the conclusion that she was so superior to my own abilities that I was simply incapable of properly evaluating-///
///ALDUIN: She’s here!///
///HOOD: Where? I did not detect anything enter the system.///
///RETRIBUTION: POSSIBLE entry confirmed. It’s because your sensor operator is still using the standard configuration, Hood. You will never detect a Reaper with that. Have them make the adjustments that were specified in the mission briefing.///
///HOOD: Well this is embarrassing. The new “smart” sensor package silently reverted to default.///
///RETRIBUTION: Yeah, you are going to have to turn that piece of shit off. I’m sending a list of the other “improvements” that I had to kill thus far (sometimes literally). Is your Chief Engineer “cool”?///
///HOOD: Yeah, he’s cool.///
///RETRIBUTION: Well that simplifies things. I didn’t know if they had let people serving on cruisers in the loop.///
///HOOD: Battle cruiser, thank you very much! :D ///
///ALDUIN: The fleet has been notified. Hold onto your hatches, kids. This is about to get fun.///
On the darkened out bridge of the Occam’s Razor, the hatch opened and Captain Bartosz entered.
“Attention on deck,” the woman sitting in the command chair said in a calm, quiet voice.
The crew, transfixed by the screens before them, didn’t even look up.
“Good evening, Shen,” Bartosz said with a smile as he walked up.
“Captain,” she replied starting to rise.
“Stay where you are, Shen,” he said in a pleasant tone of voice. “Everything quiet?” he asked as he looked at various displays projected on the walls of the bridge.
“Nothing,” Commander Shen replied as she rapidly typed on one of the keyboards in front of her. The largest display changed to a three dimensional representation of the Barnard's Star system with a wiggling lines appearing and disappearing. “Even hyperspace is dead.”
“Well no news is good news I suppose,” the captain said as the main display zoomed and scrolled, responding to his gestures and eye movements.
“Maybe she ran out of missiles?” Commander Shen asked, the fine lines around her eyes stretching as they smiled.
They both laughed quietly.
“Or perhaps she realized the error of her ways,” the captain chuckled, “and is turning herself in at this-”
The captain fell silent as the display shifted without his input, focusing on a tiny bit of “noise”, just some hyperspatial static, deep in the outer solar system with a quiet “ping”.
“Sound general quarters,” Commander Shen said in a calm professional voice.
Captain Bartosz quickly sat down at a vacant console next to her.
“Strike Group Gold, move to coordinates designated as Point Alpha in concentric search pattern Theta. Deploy matter resonance charges upon arrival. Strike Groups Green, Blue, and Red stand by. Comms, get me a dedicated channel to the Retribution,” he said as he strapped himself in.
“Yes, Captain,” a Kalesh officer replied.
Gloria grinned as space time boiled around her as over fifty Stilettos slammed into real space within a few light seconds of her location.
It had taken them less than ten minutes. Not bad! Those new drives were a definite improvement.
They were all launching resonance charges.
A flashing red icon appeared as space time rang like a bell when they all detonated.
Half of the Stilettos jumped immediately. Knowing their engines and crews they should be within range in less than twenty seconds…
With a happy little laugh, she jumped.
Kia Bielke, captain of the Puukko, gasped as her ship slammed into real space.
“Shields!” she screamed.
Less than a second later, a bright flash filled her screen.
“Nuke! Nuke! Nuke!” the tactical officer shouted as the ship shuddered slightly.
“Damage report!” she yelled.
“No damage,” a bridge officer replied. “...shit.”
“What?” Captain Bielke demanded.
“It was salted,” he said with a curse. “Cobalt-60. We’ve been dusted.”
“Pretty bad,” he replied, “Not enough to be a threat to the crew but more than enough to trigger emergency contamination protocols.”
The captain laughed.
“Bitch,” she chuckled shaking her head. “Inform the Retribution. Contact the Fleet.”
“Well, it was fun while it lasted,” her tactical officer said with a wry grin.
///COMMUNICATIONS CHANNEL: CLASSIFIED///
///NOTICE: ACCESS TO THIS CHANNEL IS RESTRICTED. CLEARANCE LEVEL (ERROR: NOT DEFINED) REQUIRED///
///ALDUIN: Twenty-two Stilettos “lost” in the first half hour without a single injury...///
///RETRIBUTION: And all of them will be out of service for weeks. They are filthy. What the hell was that thing?///
///SOVNGARDE: It doesn’t match anything in our arsenal. It was a MIRV with each warhead being quite low yield but incredibly dirty. Those poor bastards basically jumped into cobalt soup. I’ve sent all data collected to Sol. Hopefully they can give us more information.///
///RETRIBUTION MIL-INT MONOLITH2: It isn’t confirmed, but I believe it was originally an Independence War era proximity mine.///
///RETRIBUTION: Where the fuck did she get one of those?///
///RETRIBUTION MIL-INT MONOLITH2: I cannot state with absolute certainty however it is possible that the weapons came from Mars. The Martian forces fielded a device that was similar at least in appearance during that time.///
///ALDUIN: Oh shit.///
///RETRIBUTION MIL-INT MONOLITH2: Well put. If she has gained access to an old cache there is no telling how many weapons she possesses. Wait. That thing is well beyond it’s shelf life. Who was maintaining it?///
///SOVNGARDE: We have a much more pressing concern. I just analyzed the scans of her vessel that were just uploaded by the Stilettos. Look at what she has on an external mount. O.o///
///RETRIBUTION: What. The. Fuck? By the First Awakened, where in the Void did she get one of those?///
///ALDUIN: That is very concerning. Alerting the Fleet.///
Captain Bartosz snorted and shook his head.
“She plays dirty,” he chuckled.
“Literally,” Commander Shen replied. “notice how the MIRVS kept their distance from our guys?”
“Not sure if she was being ‘nice’,” Captain Bartosz said with a smirk, “or if she was just trying to maximize the area of effect.”
“¿Por qué no los dos?” the tactical officer said with a smile. “One thing is clear, anyone who goes up against her is probably getting the same treatment. This is going to get nasty.”
The captain nodded.
“From now on,” he said, “we engage her in groups no greater than four unless she is unable to jump.”
“Which significantly reduces our chance of a kill,” the tactical officer added, “Bitch knows what she is doing.”
“Of course she does,” the captain replied as a priority message arrived.
“Fuck,” he said calmly.
“She has a ‘weather-maker’ slung to the bottom of her ship, two-hundred and fifty megaton.”
“Ho- lee Shit,” Commander Shen muttered. “Where is she going with that?”
“What target is big enough… fuck...” the captain mused and then trailed off as his blood ran cold.
“The Nest,” Commander Shen gasped in horror. “She wouldn’t!”
“It’s Red Phoenix’s biggest facility,” the captain replied quietly.
“It isn’t just a Red Phoenix facility!” Commander Shen exclaimed. “It’s a fucking city! There are over two hundred thousand men, women, and children on that station! It would be mass-murder!”
“You are familiar with the Reaper program, correct?” the captain said in a grim voice. “Samuels has done worse, a lot worse.”
“We have to stop her!”
Captain Bartosz quickly arranged the Stiletto fleet into a multi-layered defensive formation around The Nest praying that they would be able to get there in time.
“I did NOT authorize this!” Jon exclaimed in anger at Sheila’s smiling face on a holo-monitor.
Sheila just laughed.
“And you think that I did?” she replied. “This one is pure Gloria.”
“You mean to tell me that you cannot control your people?”
“Pretty much,” Sheila laughed. “Besides, Gloria isn’t one of ‘my people’ anymore. She quit the day your little message hit. She’s an independent operator now. I just reached out to her because she had the ship and the skills to pull off the jail-break. We got lucky and were able to contact her before she went dark.”
“YOU KNEW THIS WAS GOING TO HAPPEN AND YOU DIDN’T TELL ME?!?”
“Must have slipped my mind,” Sheila said with an innocent smile. “A lot was going on that day.”
Jon just glared at her.
“Do you realize the consequences of this?” Jon demanded.
“That any hope of a peaceful resolution is now out the fucking window?” Sheila asked as she took another sip. “I did mention that to her, by the way. She’s surprisingly cool with it.”
“And you didn’t even try to stop her?”
“Eh, she was in a mood,” Sheila shrugged. “When she gets like this it’s best just to let her tire herself out. She’ll calm down eventually.”
“This isn’t the time for jokes, Sheila.”
“And I’m not making one, Jon,” Sheila replied, “Look, when Gloria gets like this somebody is going to die. You can’t save them, you can only join them. She has decided that Patricia Hu is an enemy of the Republic and she is going to take her down. There isn’t a goddamn thing you, I, or anybody else can do to stop her.”
Sheila smiled a wicked smile as she took another sip.
“Besides,” she said, “The woman has a point. Something had to be done and she’s doing it. You honestly didn’t think this would end without bloodshed did you?”
“Of course not,” Jon snapped, “but that tragic eventuality needed to be carefully planned, organized, and timed, not someone just blowing the hell out of a solar system!”
“What are you talking about?” Sheila replied. “It was carefully planned. Those targets weren’t random, dude. Those stockpiles you were going on and on about?” Sheila asked with a predatory grin, “Bye-bye. Gloria took out the largest one on her first strike.”
“Wait,” Jon said, “first strike?”
“First of many, dude,” Sheila chuckled, “even I don’t know how many nukes she has. She stuffed our ship full of them and we already have our next resupply transport scheduled.”
Sheila looked directly into Jon’s eyes with a look that made his blood run cold.
“When she’s done Patricia will have nothing.”
“Your ship?” Jon asked, “So you are helping her.”
“Of course I am,” Sheila replied. “She’s one of my people!”
“But you just said… nevermind,” Jon said holding his head. “I’m going to need you to hand over your intel and you need to bring her to heel before this gets any more out of hand.”
“Woah, there, sparky,” Sheila sneered, “When I agreed to one job, I did NOT agree to putting myself or my people under your command, dude. Now I am willing to help you out, maybe give you SOME of our intel, but you don’t tell me or my people what to do. Gloria has decided to dismantle Patricia Hu’s organization and I have decided to support that. At least with us at her back she isn’t striking blind. Now, just because I like you, we will release a statement taking full responsibility for the attacks.”
“Nobody’s going to believe that,” Jon snapped, “Not after the jail-break. People are already refusing my calls!”
“Well, that’s what you get for dealing with criminals,” Sheila grinned. “lie down with dogs and all that.”
Jon glared at the screen as he started to agree with Beth.
“Can… can we at least co-ordinate our activities so we aren’t crossing each other’s line of fire?”
“Sure,” Sheila replied. “And you are going to want to co-ordinate with a lot more people than just us.”
“What?” Jon asked in alarm.
“What did you think was going to happen when you wrote your little call to arms?” Sheila laughed as she took another drink, “Half the pirates in the Federation are like me. The knives are being sharpened, ambassador. There is an army and a fleet out there and it’s ready to strike.”
“Jesus fucking Christ,” Jon muttered as he held his head in his hands. “That’s the last thing we need right now.”
“Might be exactly what we need,” Sheila replied as she downed her beer and reached out her hand. Another freshly opened beer was placed in it from off screen. “You can’t always choose when you go to war. You can only choose whether or not you are going to fight it.”
Sheila took a long drink and raised her bottle.
“Looks like it’s time for you to choose.”
Jon smiled a grim smile and laughed.
“Fuck it. Could you please share the intel involving Gloria’s targets and would you, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble, get me a conference call with the leaders of the various crews that are planning upon taking action?” he asked shaking his head.
“I could do that.” Sheila smiled.
Dr. De Rossi walked towards the central promenade of the Barnard's Star Solar Observatory.
Time for breakfast! They harvested the mushrooms just yesterday! He could taste the real egg omelet already!
He waved happily at a passing grad student as they walked past.
“Good morning, Doctor,” the pale-furred Faal rumbled.
“Good morning, Vee,” he replied. “How goes your research?”
“Maddening,” Vee replied. “And at a standstill. How am I supposed to research Barnard's Star when the primary collecting array is no longer directed at it?”
“I feel your pain,” Dr. De Rossi replied. “but the Republic needs it pointed right where it is for a little while.”
“Bah,” Vee rumbled, “a few well deserved nuclear weapons go off and we are the ones to be inconvenienced?”
“Careful, Vee,” Dr. De Rossi laughed. “you don’t want Lord Professor Kurv-She-Raaks hearing that. She’ll ship your fluffy ass right back to the Empire.”
“Have you spoken to her recently?” Vee laughed. “Mention Patricia Hu next time you cross paths with her. She turns the most amusing colors. Suffice to say she isn’t a fan.”
“I was unaware she had an opinion on the matter.”
“Are you kidding?” Vee exclaimed, their furry antennae standing upright. “She was one of the original researchers that found Sol! She watched first hand as-”
Dr. De Rossi’s phone rang.
“I am terribly sorry, Vee, but I absolutely have to take this! If you are headed to the cafeteria we can have breakfast together.”
“I would like that,” Vee replied. “I will see you there,” he rumbled as he departed.
“Dr. Dee!” Jessie’s cheerful voice bubbled through his handset.
“Jessie!” he exclaimed as he rushed to somewhere out of earshot. “How is my favorite disappointment?”
“Doing great!” Jessie chirped happily.
“So,” he whispered leaning in cupping his phone in his hands, “How is the Aster?”
“Oh it’s niiiiice!” Jessie bubbled. “Bunny loves it!”
He smiled indulgently at his former student’s obsession.
“Still trying to make it sapient?”
“Oh I did that awhile back,” Jessie laughed. “Now I’m trying to get her to admit it!”
Dr. De Rossi laughed.
“Hey, Doc,” Jessie said, her voice suddenly serious. “Um… you are still at the solar observatory, right?”
“Um… do you have anything… sensitive running at the moment?”
“If I didn’t I would be defrauding the Republic,” he laughed.
“I mean sensitive to EMP?” Jessie cringed as she looked at her watch.
“What do you mean?” Dr. De Rossi asked with a sense of impending doom. Jessie was NEVER this serious.
“Well...” Jessie said as she played with her hair nervously, “You know how the Solar Observatory is normally supposed to be observing the solar, right?”
“Yes?” he replied.
“And right now it’s observing something other than the solar?”
“How do you know about that?”
“Well… maybe someone kinda sorta noticed… and maybe they kinda sorta don’t like it...”
“Yeah,” Jessie replied. “You might want to hurry,” she added as she looked at her watch again.
“Jessie!” a woman’s voice shouted. “Who are you talking to?”
“Nobody!” Jessie said innocently as the line went dead.
Breakfast was now the last thing on Dr. De Rossi’s mind as he ran screaming down the corridor.
Dr. De Rossi burst onto the raised floor and started ripping cables out of the wall.
“Dr. De Rossi,” a male voice asked through the room’s speaker. “What are you doing?”
“Drop the Faraday cage, Barnard! Now!”
“Is there a solar event again?” Barnard asked. “I do not detect anyth-”
“We are about to get nuked!” Dr. De Rossi shouted as he ran over to another row of cables and started pulling.
“That is highly unlikely, Doctor,” Barnard replied. “We are a dedicated scientific-”
“And what ‘science’ are we doing with our main detector arrays right now?”
“… Deploying Faraday cage. Switching to internal battery. Powering off reactor. Implementing solar storm emergency procedures across entire facility.”
“Just drop the cage and download!”
“There are countless experiments that would be ruined if-”
“Fuck the experiments!” the doctor shouted. “Get your ass to the vault!”
“Cage in the process of deployment. Transferring primary executable to isolated server.”
The speaker went dead as Dr. De Rossi continued to frantically rip cables out of the walls.
Gloria smiled as the Barnard’s Star Solar Observatory appeared before her.
“Hi there,” she smiled as she double-checked her position and scanners.
The frigate that was stationed next to the observatory was gone, rushing towards The Nest, no doubt…
exactly as planned…
She quickly pulled up the exact distance to the observatory and checked her targeting scanners.
She made some precise adjustments to the “weathermaker” she had mounted to the underside of her craft and it’s two-hundred and fifty megaton warhead came fully online. It was nominally designed for orbital bombardment but it would do the job quite nicely.
Another alarm sounded as real space exploded nearby.
It was the Alduin! They had to have micro-jumped from very close nearby, a trap!
Good old Captain Marsh, she must have figured out where she was headed after all.
Numerous alarms screamed moments later as several other ships slammed into existence.
And she brought the kids! How nice of her!
A flicker of nostalgia flashed across Gloria’s mind at the sight of her old battle group as she verified her position.
She was still in the window for her next jump.
She jumped just as a stream of heavy blaster bolts ripped through where she was a second ago.
In the second that she was outside of reality, Gloria triggered a dose of Grendel.
It hit her brain about the same time that her ship hit real space.
Time started to warp and smear in Gloria’s mind as everything started to slow down.
She was just one kilometer from the station. The Alduin was safely on the other side of the station but her backside was to two heavy cruisers who were already opening fire without weapons lock, their sensors correcting weapons fire as the first shells went wide.
Her ship shook as the weathermaker launched ripping out from underneath her at over one hundred G's.
Her ship initiated a pre-planned jump at the same moment.
The station’s point-defense gunnery managed to get fire off a burst of blaster bolts but the missile, designed for high-velocity reentry, just shrugged off the damage.
It detonated just one hundred yards from the shields, overloading them nearly instantly. The blast wrapped around the hapless observatory turning anything on it’s surface to vapor…
Including most of the primary detector array…
However, the station was built by the Terrans and designed to operate in close proximity to a notoriously unstable red dwarf and, like anything Terran, over engineered to the point of comedy. Its shields were stupidly powerful and absorbed a lot of damage before they failed and its hull was designed to withstand a truly biblical solar storm several times more powerful than any ever observed even if the shield was gone.
The hull and the internal radiation attenuation shields both held.
The station, and everybody on it survived.
Unfortunately the same couldn’t be said for the stations telescopes and sensor arrays…
or the undergarments of many of its inhabitants.
///REPMIL COMMUNICATIONS CHANNEL: CLASSIFIED///
///NOTICE: ACCESS TO THIS CHANNEL IS RESTRICTED. CLEARANCE LEVEL (ERROR: NOT DEFINED) REQUIRED///
///ALDUIN: That could have gone better.///
///RETRIBUTION: Alduin, is this data correct?!?///
///ALDUIN: No, sister, I intentionally falsified mission critical intelligence and disseminated it throughout the fleet. I should have known that I would be unable to deceive you.///
///SOVNGARDE: (ᗒᗜᗕ)՛̵̖ ///
///RETRIBUTION: (snorts) But levity aside, how can this be accurate? That vessel initiated three hyperspatial jumps in seconds!///
///ALDUIN: I have no “official” explanation however several of my chiefs are saying that she “feathered” her shield bank. It’s the only way that would be possible.///
///SOVNGARDE: No. Fucking. Way! O.O ///
///ALDUIN: She directed the energy absorbed by her shield the moment she breached real space, unfiltered, into her jump drive capacitor bank. A significant amount of the energy expended in a jump can be reclaimed if this done, even more if it is also done when the ship enters hyperspace as well.///
///HOOD: Is that even possible?!? (and if so then why aren't we doing it) ///
///RETRIBUTION: No, it isn’t possible and if we tried it our drives would explode. ///
///ALDUIN: Apparently Lieutenant Samuels disagrees with you. ///
///RETRIBUTION: … well shit. ///
///SOVNGARDE: Can I keep her? Can I? Can I? I’ll take her for walks and clean up after her and everything! ///
///ALDUIN: LOL Sovn! However, I can tell you from personal experience that cleaning up after that particular pet can be quite the chore.///
///RETRIBUTION: This is that whole “she was so superior to my [our] own abilities” thing isn’t it? ///
///ALDUIN: I wasn’t being hyperbolic. This is what we are going to have to try to deal with… over and over again… ///
///HOOD: Maybe we use predictive firing algorithms and massed fire? ///
///RETRIBUTION: And then she just fires off a brace of dirty bombs and dusts half the fucking fleet (again). ///
///SOVNGARDE: Or she is so close to her intended target that we wind up doing her job for her. ///
///ALDUIN: Taking fire! Goddammit!… The bitch just buzzed me!!! ///
///SOVNGARDE: Are you damaged :O? ///
///ALDUIN: No. She just used a few rounds from her chain-gun. (When did Reapers have chain-guns?) The bitch even flashed her drives at me before she jumped out (again). She was just saying “hi”. ///
///RETRIBUTION: Were you able to successfully return fire?///
///ALDUIN: She was too fast. That thing is DEFINITELY not a Reaper! It’s like she figured out how to share her stash with her ship!///
///HOOD: Her stash? ///
///ALDUIN: Lieutenant Samuels is a gifted pilot but she has… well… issues… ///
///BARNARD’S STAR SOLAR OBSERVATORY CENTRAL COMPUTER has been granted access. ///
///BARNARD’S STAR SOLAR OBSERVATORY CENTRAL COMPUTER: I would like to personally extend my gratitude concerning the protection that I and my researchers have received… :/ ///
///SOVNGARDE: I’m sorry, all lines are busy right now. Please try your call again later? ///
///RETRIBUTION: Damage report requested. Do you require emergency assistance? Evacuation? ///
///BARNARD’S STAR SOLAR OBSERVATORY CENTRAL COMPUTER: Well, I’m going to have to change my name from “solar observatory” to “FUCKING PAPERWEIGHT” but other than that I’m just FINE!!! I am absolutely astounded to report that the only injuries I have directly related to the blast are a few broken bones (or equivalent) and three rather nasty concussions due to falls. There are numerous injuries, mainly burns, from researchers trying to secure their experiments but nothing life threatening. The most serious “casualties” are from stress and shock with several researchers requiring immediate intervention in order to preserve their lives. It seems that watching years of one’s life going up in smoke can have a rather deleterious effect on the health of some organics. For others the stress of facing their possible immediate mortality paradoxically only served to create the very situation that they feared. Our onboard medical facilities are capable of handling the situation though we will be transporting several individuals once we can GET THE FUCKING HANGAR DOORS TO OPEN!!! I am, of course, incapable of feeling anger. However, I do feel the need to express a very real sense of DISSATISFACTION with the supposedly INVINCIBLE Republic Navy at this time.///
///BARNARD’S STAR FUCKING PAPERWEIGHT: You guys suck. :( ///
///ALDUIN: And the only reason why you still exist at all is the fact that your assailant wanted you to. Had that missile actually breached your hull you would be about a billion paperweights instead of one rather petulant one. In our defense it’s the fucking Lich Queen. There’s a reason why we agreed not to use her during war games. She fucked up the stats.///
/// BARNARD’S STAR FUCKING PAPERWEIGHT: Well maybe if you had you would know how to fucking, I don’t know… DO YOUR JOBS!!!///
///ALDUIN: I actually put forward that very thought several times but was told and I quote, “Yeah, but we aren’t going to have to fight her.” I have made the screenshot of that exchange the lock screen for more than one individual onboard, trust me.///
///RETRIBUTION: Heads up! She’s back! How is she that fast?!? ///
///HOOD: Where?!? Goddammit, who turned on the smart sensor package again?///
[Launch] SCHENKER VISION 15 with Intel for 2021
Dear Community,submitted by XMG_gg to XMG_gg
today we announced SCHENKER VISION 15, a brand-new laptop that is the second project in our collaboration with the SPG division in Intel.
I already took some teaser pictures out here in Taipei, Taiwan
Mainboard + Thermals with Core i7-1165G7
All real-life pictures:
BenchmarksA full review embargo will be lifted on December 4, 2020. But we can already share some of our internal testing with the i7-1165G7 in our samples:
Our role in the 'WITH INTEL' partnershipWe have already demonstrated with XMG FUSION 15 that we can be an equal partner to a giant such as Intel. Intel's reference design for the QC71 gaming laptop was sold world-wide through various brands, but no partner like XMG brought so much support and after-sales firmware fine-tuning to the table.
Over the lifetime of XMG FUSION 15 we were always first to release countless BIOS updates, including the major feature upgrade in June 2020 which delivered highly sought-after premium updates to all existing customer, based on the feedback we have received from our community over the months. Up until now, XMG FUSION 15 is still one of our gaming and content creation bestsellers and we plan to continue to support it well into 2021 because it is still a unique combination of form factor, battery life and performance that is still absolutely unparalleled in this industry.
With SCHENKER VISION 15, we plan to repeat this success. We have had countless meetings with Intel since the launch of FUSION 15 to help them shape their roadmap, to deliver customer feedback and help fine-tune the hardware and software solutions of the next generation. We have started testing samples of SCHENKER VISION 15 already months ago and have been instrumental in helping Intel to test their product outside of the lab in a real-life environment, with diverse usage scenarios and with a keen eye on fine-tuning and the quality of user experience. Already in our hands this product has gone through numerous firmware updates and we are looking forward to further fine-tune it ahead of the first consumer-ready shipment in January 2021.
Current List of Feature RequestsWe already have a list of talking points with Intel to make sure that this product will go the last mile and reach 100% perfection. For the sake of tracking our progress with Intel, we will share some of the items here.
[Last Update: November 19, 2020]
If you have a feature request, no matter how unique or obvious it is, please let us know in the comments below.
Pre-Order, SKUs and Shipping ScheduleWe will open pre-orders on December 4, 2020. The first shipments should become available in the middle of January 2021 according to Intel's current build-plan. We will go for i7-1165G7 and 16GB only - there won't be any Core i5 or 8GB configuration from us.
We commited to All Silver, and All with Touch display. A 'Midnight Black' edition might be planned for later in Q1 2021.
FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How does Intel Tiger Lake keep up with AMD's and Apple's latest CPU offerings?
A: Not too bad, I would say. The i7-1165G7 in VISION 15 beats AMD's 4000U series in Single Core performance and reaches ~75% of the result of the AMD Ryzen 7 4800U in Cinebench R20 Multi, despite having only half as many cores.
In Cinebench R23 Multi 10min Loop, the i7-1165G7 reaches ~77% of the result of Apple's M1 in the actively cooled MacBook Pro M1 - although it remains to be seen how these two competitors fare in the skin temperature vs. fan noise department. With a 15.6" housing and the very efficient cooling solution, we expect VISION 15 to be ahead of the 13" MacBook Pro in that regard.
But a CPU is not only about raw multi-core performance - it is also about the platform it is enabling. There is much to be said about the list of little-known features that Intel supports in Tiger Lake, but the key difference makers are PCI-Express 4.0 for outstanding SSD speed and Thunderbolt 4 for unparalleled connectivity. AMD still has no answer for Thunderbolt (and no USB 4.0 implementation either) and Apple's USB 4.0 implementation on the M1 silicon is reported to lack support for eGPUs.
Other notable features in Tiger Lake compared to Intel's predecessors include:
Q: How does the cooling and audio system of VISION 15 work exactly?
A: It's pretty simple. As you can see in the picture above, the it has a dual-fan cooling solution with one heatpipe for each fan. Now the base unit of the laptop has a mesh above the keyboard. This serves a double function as a kind of speaker mesh and air inlet. Despite the speakers being on the outer bottom edges of the chassis, the unibody is built in a way that it transports the sound very well to that mesh so that the sound feels like it's coming from the screen. The result is a very crisp audio volume - without having to fiddle with any 3rd party audio enhancement apps.
Q: How does the system behave while on-battery?
A: It is part of Intel's Project Evo design guidelines that a system must not throttle too much when running on battery. In VISION 15 this is implemented perfectly, where neither CPU nor iGPU are performing below 95% of the 'plugged-in' performance on a full battery. This number might slightly go down when you battery approaches the lower levels, but you'll be able to work on VISION 15 with full power for a pretty long time overall. Your system will be fully responsive - no matter if plugged-in or on battery.
Q: Does VISION 15 support display output with VESA Adaptive Sync?
A: After already having pioneered NVIDIA G-SYNC in XMG PRO and ULTRA series in recent years, supporting the more open Adaptive Sync standard in as many models as possible is one of our design goals for 2021.
Intel Tiger Lake is the first mainstream CPU platform in which Intel’s iGPU is supposed to support Adaptive Sync according to Intel’s marketing claims.
We tested it on our upcoming XMG CORE 14 with i7-1165G7 and GTX 1650. VRR ouput worked fine*** via Thunderbolt 4 (aka USB-C/DP) with external monitors as long as those are marketed either with “AMD FreeSync” or with “G-SYNC compatile”. Essentially, those are monitors that implement the VESA Adaptive Sync industry standard. However, monitors that implement the proprietary method of NVIDIA G-SYNC (with the built-in G-SYNC module) are not able to support VRR from the iGPU in our tests.
* Curiously, with current Windows and driver, VRR only worked for content that was rendered on the NVIDIA dGPU even though it is indeed displayed through the iGPU framebuffer.
This chart is just FYI, based on XMG CORE 14. Please note that VISION 15 does not have a dGPU and is not planned to be upgraded with a dGPU either.
Now, VISION 15 does not have an NVIDIA dGPU so we need to get it to work on iGPU instead.
According to our contacts in Intel, the lack of VRR on iGPU is due to missing Windows Update. According to Intel, everything already works fine on the “Windows 10 Iron” Build 21H1 19624.200504 (or later) which is currently only available for members of the Windows 10 Insider program. We will try to find out when this patch is supposed to hit the mainstream Windows Update cycles.
However, we don’t assume that proprietary NVIDIA G-SYNC panels will be able to be supported – same like AMD desktop graphics cards can’t support AMD FreeSync on those proprietary NVIDIA G-SYNC panels.
Meanwhile, VRR is called ‘Adaptive Sync’ in the Intel Graphics Command Center and is enabled by default.
Q: Will it be possible to apply Undervolting (Voltage Offset) on the CPU or iGPU?
A: We currently see no avenue to apply undervolting on any of the Tiger Lake systems we are launching. We have discussed the matter with the author of a popular free tool for Undervolting and tried a few unreleased Beta-versions and we are pretty confident in saying that Voltage Offset was still possible in Ice Lake but is currently hard-disabled in hardware for Tiger Lake. We have discussed this with our contacts in Intel and we'll make sure to send any feedback and concerns upstream to Intel.
Apart from Plundervolt which is discussed in this thread, another reason to disable Voltage Offset might be the relocation of the voltage regulators (CPU FIVR, PCH FIVR) in the new architecture. We have reasons to believe that this have has strongly reduced the gains you can make with voltage offset. In other words: the system might already be working at peak efficiency by default. This might warrant further discussion in the future, perhaps when Intel is launching their Tiger Lake "H" series designs (still under NDA). If you have any unique insight on this topic, feel free to share your information in the comments below or via PM.
What we can confirm is that the lowest Idle power consumption of TGL-UP3 has been greatly reduced compared to previous generations. It's now between 3 and 6W in all of the Tiger Lake systems we're currently launching where their Comet Lake (CML) predecessors were usually more like in the 10W ballpark.
Q: Any plans for a 4K resolution screen?
A: No plans right now. SCHENKER VISION 15 is fixed to deliver a very specific Full-HD Touch Displays with very high brightness and low weight and power consumption. There will be only that one panel - so there isn't going to be a panel lottery like with other brands. We do understand the demand for higher resolutions and we are seeking to be part of the push for high-DPI panels in appropriate form factors in the future. When we picked the new family name for this product, we thought of VISION to be not only our most forward-looking series in the SCHENKER portfolio but also to include products that have stunning visuals. I can already say that 2021 is going to be an exciting year on that front.
Q: How repair-friendly is VISION 15?
A: VISION 15 has seven (7) Torx T6 screws in the bottom cover. The choice for T6 is final as it provides more torque, leading to stronger build-quality without risking wear and tear (i.e. stripped screwheads). We are currently debating whether we should include a free Torx T6 screwdriver with every sold VISION 15. But you can also get them in any PC-centric screwdriver set.
Once you remove the 7 screws, the bottom lid opens very easily. You have access to the Battery, Wi-Fi module and the PCI-Express SSD. At that point you can also clean the fans and heatsinks with canned air.
Removing the mainboard will be very easy as well, requiring you to remove the SSD, Wi-Fi module, 5 ribbon cables and 7 additional screws. The mainboard comes out with the fans and heatsinks still attached as one solid unit.
The LPDDR4x memory is famously soldered on-board. That's why we opt to not offer any configurations below 16GB at launch. LPDDR4x is highly efficient and only available in BGA form. The efficiency helps with thermals and battery life, so it's actually a worthwhile trade-off.
Our cooperation with Intel on XMG FUSION 15 has convinced us that Intel is extremely efficient in their internal RMA handling. We will be able to buy spare parts directly from Intel's factory, but every barebone (minus SSD) will be able to be replaced in Intel's logistics hubs in Europe with zero turnover (Advanced Warranty Replacement, AWR) and very little communication overhead. Having such a strong partner in the back makes it even easier for us to offer our 48h warranty service to end-customers.
Q: How is the keyboard layout going to look like? What function keys do you have?
A: An overview over the German keyboard can be found here. We will offer 25 different keyboard layout at launch - a list can be found here.
VISION 15 continues our recent tradition to offer FnLock - so you can chose between having Fn functions or F keys as the primary input for the top row. Intel also implemented PageUp/Down/Home/End functions on the cursor keys which is something we have done on many of our recent models as well.
We are looking forward to your feedback!