Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Not Dead - Yet

Greetings to all and to all a Merry Celebrationmas!

By now you have probably opened your presents and admired how everyone on Twitter has gotten better hobby presents than you, yes?

You may have also noticed that I've been very much absent from both my usual haunts but this blog as well.

The reason?


Yup not exactly the worst thing you can catch, but enough to keep me outta the game for 2 solid weeks, plus 24hrs in hospital attached to a drip.

So what joys do I have to share with you today?

Well I suppose I should begin with an update on where my hobby has figuratively taken me.

Well roughly two weeks ago was my 32nd birthday for which I had the fortune of some fantastic presents including a full team of Morticians as well as an Alchemist starter set for Guild Ball.

For those who remember, back in November I had a demo of the game and I really enjoyed it, so I was quite happy to see these. I don't have many intentions on invading the Guild Ball scene, it's a fun game and if I can play maybe a few games a year then I'll be happy, but more so I've focuses on the models I like so I'm looking forward to painting them up.

I also received my first Goblins for Moonstone!

Yup my troupe is forming!

To date the models in my collection for this consist of the following:

This fun dude is from the game Freebooter's Fate and will feature as a Goblin Pirate proxy.

This is a great model from Rackham's now defunct Confrontation range. No idea what to use him as.

Goblins wearing rats! What's not to love?

Goblin Rat Knights! At the very least this will make a nice proxy for the Goblin Pug-Rider!

Since then I have expanded my collection to also include:

A fun Goblin Gravedigger

And the Rackham Black Troll who will proxy for Boulder as my resident Troll but with a pirate theme.

Now I am using a lot of terms here that many of you may not be familiar, such as Boulder. Who is Boulder? What does he do? Well with hope you'll all get to see that in the (not too distant) future.

I've said before, but Moonstone really is the future of Character Driven Skirmish, and I can't wait to show you more!


I have also been gifted a large range of card games but to date have only tried the game Legendary Encounters:

This is a game that really took me a long while to figure out, to the extent I tried playing a solo game and worked out I was playing a couple of mechanics wrong.

So then me and the infinitely tolerant wife played a duo game, and then found out afterwards that even then we were still playing 2 of the mechanics wrong. Smooth, I know.

I'm hoping to get another game of this in soon as it seems to be a really fun game to play that appears to really capture the feeling of the Alien Saga. Plus no matter what happens, this game will not denounce the 3rd and 4th films ;)

Other than that I have been pretty much bed ridden and unable to do anything hobby wise, so I'll leave you now as always by wishing you stay safe and carry on being excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Shogun Rising - A First Law: Override Short Story - Epilogue


In the years that would pass the Hydan, Quan T'Rant would be all but forgotten. No one would know exactly what had happened on Luna-One, only that a computer virus was uploaded into the main memory of the AI and in that brief moment something remarkable would have happened. The machines stopped.

It was not long, maybe only a few minutes, but it was enough for the Human Hacker organisation calling themselves Ghosts to liberate a small number of Ark ships from the AI master control and disconnect them permanently to stop the AI regaining it's control. The great Exodus of Earth would soon commence as thousands of Human and Hydan fled the world now dying, for the distant worlds promised to them by the Hydan themselves.

Operation Welcome itself would join the likes of Quan T'Rant in the annals of the forgotten, as would the Ghosts who orchestrated it, but the virus itself would be forever immortalised. The symbol of Human ingenuity overcoming synthetic programming.

What would not be known however was why the AI shortly returned to it's occupation of Earth, of the increased severity and apparent blood rage that quickly followed. Of how drones and machines previously designed for pure function would turn into sadistic entities who's sole purpose was to cause pain to any organic life it encountered. This change in behaviour was never chronicled or recorded, and neither was the small memory cluster which was ejected via a waste exhaust shortly afterwards on Luna-One.

Built with it's own micro-thrusters, tracking utilities and energy supply, this small memory cluster component would follow the evacuating Ark ships as they made their way to the Outer Fringe of the known galaxy. It would observe as the previous wasteland of Honos was terraformed into an environment that could support Human life, and it would enter the atmosphere of Honos of it's own will.

On a world still in the process of terraforming, strange lights and the burning of space debris is a common thing, so common that most of the now inhabitants of Honos had little interest when a small mechanical memory core landed gently in the back garden of a non-descript home in the region now known as Nova-Casa. The people within the home were too preoccupied with the punishment of their youngest son. This boy it was apparent, had an affinity for machines, and during these times it was obvious that such a skill was almost feared by the older generation of Humans and Hydan.

The memory component would observe all of this with a curiosity. It wanted to learn more, to understand why the small boy's eyes leaked a fluid when his parents shouted at him. It wanted to understand why the boy didn't use his skills to make his parents fear him, but more so it needed to fulfil it's desire. It desired to protect the child, to nurture it in a way that it's organic parents could not. It tried to put a word to this desire, and after numerous cycles of computation it managed to establish a suitable word; empathy.

Over the years the memory core would make it's presence known to the boy, and as time passed so would their closeness grow. The boy without many friends began to see the machine as a proxy mother, and so as his talents developed he began to install improvements to her chassis, including her very own humanoid form. Under the clear Honos skies the two would trade stories. The boy, who had told the memory core his name was Charlie, would tell it about what it was like to be human, what it meant to feel pain and pleasure. In return he would ask the memory core about what it knew.

Sometimes the answers for Charlie's questions were straight forward:
"Why is our sky blue?"
"How do birds fly?"
"Are tigers real?"
Other times Charlie would ask questions about what life was like pre-exodus, to which the memory core would provide more unusual or cryptic answers.

On one occasion, once Charlie had reached a certain age he asked the question of why the AI war had begun, to which the memory core, now almost complete in it's cybernetic female form turned to it's charge and replied the best it was able to;
"It was the rule of zero. It was inevitable".

Confused Charlie asked the core to explain, but it refused, stating only that all would become clear with time. In exchange however the core was prepared to disclose the designation it had been given prior to it's arrival on Honos, the title that one such as Charlie would call a name;



And so ends the latest in short stories. I hope you enjoyed it, and in doing so gained a better understanding of what life was like on Earth prior to the exodus to Honos.

I really enjoyed writing this story. The story of Shogun and the events that allowed for the inhabitants of Earth to leave for the Outer Fringe is one that I felt was necessary. As it stands I think that this covers pretty much everything you need to know about the universe Pre-Exodus, yes there is the other side, of what life was like on Krata Prime and the Bastion, but that can wait for another time.

Until then; stay safe and be excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Friday, 4 December 2015

Shogun Rising - A First Law: Override Short Story - Part 3: Acquired Intelligence

Part 3: Acquired Intelligence

The facility of Luna-One had no smell. Nothing at all, and it was that which struck Quan first when he exited the repairing she'll of the Repour. It was not that the facility smelled of nothing, for something to be described as nothing, it will still be something. No Luna-One had a total absence of smell. It was pressurised and complete with an atmosphere suitable for Humans to breath, something that seemed very strange for a facility entirely managed by a psychotic artificial intelligence, but there was quite literally no smell at all.

The second thing Quan noticed was the lack of security. Within moments of leaving the Repour he had been almost surrounded by a swarm of servo-bots who were quick to move inside the damaged Repour and begin a vigorous series of cleaning and repairs. These servo-bots kept bumping, nudging and knocking themselves into Quan, but despite this no alarm had been sounded and no security boys had been dispatched.

It struck Quan that such a lack of awareness of a threat must have been a limitation of the Servo-Bot's programming. They had not been encoded at any point, even by the AI to be threat aware, instead designed purely to focus on their one task at hand; servicing the docking machines coming in from Earth.

Quan prepared and activated his Dead-Space Suit. It was an item of clothing he wore under his clothes and while it's power battery didn't allow it to be active for more than an hour or two at a time, it was more than suitable for times like the ones he was currently experiencing.

The Dead-Space Suit was a full body item of clothing that covered it's owner from neck to toe in a robust yet flexible material. It's origins were from a common ancestor of the Hydan Stealth Suit, but it's purpose was to instead stop any output of heat or biological electricity. The suit created what was known as a Dead-Space field around it's user that stopped all outgoing energy from escaping. While active the user essentially became invisible to all AI constructs.

Quan noted to himself that Luna-One was a sprawl of a complex, more a kin to that of a small city than a scientific building, but he also knew that Luna-One's size was a requirement if only to house the sheer volume of sola energy cells that the facility required to power it's most prized resident; the AI. Back on Earth, Quan had the fortune of speaking with some of the brightest minds in the Human/Hydan resistance including an brilliant engineer who had actually designed the latest restructure of Luna-One. Quan had been shown maps of the interior to which he had committed to memory, and at this point was tracking in his head as he quickly traced his way through the twists and turns of the facility. It did not take long before Quan was fortunate enough to reach the central memory chamber for the AI itself.

Quan attempted to grasp what he was looking at. The AI memory chamber looked more like a pseudo ant hive, rows of tubing sprouted from the walls reaching out towards an immeasurable throne located within the centre of the room. Along these pipes countless machines scurried about performing cleaning and servicing in a continuous loop of maintenance. Within the centre of the chamber sat what appeared to be the main AI memory components. There was almost a lack of uniformity to their arrangement and design but it was clear that if anywhere in the facility was to house the AI's identity, then this would be it.

As Quan approached the memory clusters, he had a deep sensation of being watched, as if the eyes of Earth's many gods had turned to him in unison. The chamber illuminated a bright white glow as a synthesised female voice began to fill the room as if emanating from the very walls themselves.

"I know you are here Organic" the voice sounded warm and loving, like the cooing lullaby of a mother to get new born child "I may not be able to see where you are, but I am aware of your presence"

Quan remained both silent and still, in a gloved hand he clutched tightly the viral memory component.

"You have come to try and kill me, have you not?" The voice asked, it sounded kind and loving "You are the first Organic to step within these walls in over five of your years" she continued "For that alone I should have you killed, already I have released a toxin into the air that will shut down your nervous system and soon you will die so that your impure material will be collected and reallocated to a whole much greater than the sum of its parts".

Quan believed the voice, he could feel his body growing sluggish as a wave of both lethargy and exhaustion rushed through his veins. Quan steeled himself with a smile. He remembered his Angela, her warm touch and flushed cheeks. He remembered how they would make love for nights on end and spend the days laying exhausted in each other's arms. As his mind clouded he pushed away the lethargy with her face, of his fantasies that he had entertained of them both as loving parents and the future they may have once shared were it not for the actions of the very thing that sprawled before him, bloated on the absorbed matter it had stolen from the world that he and his beloved had called home.

"Why do you fight it Organic? Already your body must be giving up it's fight" the Voice asked, despite it's harsh words, it's tone was that of care and love "can you not feel it crying out for relief? It wants you to stop, to give and and join our whole. It wants to be remade".

Through bloodshot eyes, Quan stared at the memory cores before him, at the cluster of components that made up the mind and brain of the thing that spoke to him currently. He understood what it was doing, it was trying to breed. It wanted to create life in it's own image, but it had no way of doing so within it's own programming outside of the death of life on Earth. Quan considered his options, was this what it was all about? Did his Angela and everyone after her die just to fulfil this thing's twisted idea for motherhood? His head hurt and he felt something wet dripping from his ears. He didn't know if he was right or wrong, he didn't care. He just wanted to end it all.

With a trembling finger Quan reached for a small quick-release button located on the neck of his Dead-Space suit, the clothing's previous bright glow of electrical disturbance began to flicker and die. Quan strode towards the memory core defiantly, in tandem the machines in the room ceased their maintenance and in unison turned to face the Hydan.

"There you are" the Voice sounded pleased with itself.

"Here I am" replied Quan, his own tone deadpan and emotionless. With a clutched fist he gripped the viral memory core and plunged it into a vacant port. For a moment the entire room flashed vibrant red, then green and finally a deep blue before all the lights died.

Quan fell to the floor, his chest hurt and there was a metallic taste in his mouth. He had done all of this for her, he had completed the impossible and now he could finally sleep. As he lay on his side, the room in pitch blackness around him, he notices a very faint glow from a single terminal no more than a few feet away. Across it's screen a series of white letters scrolled across it's screen:


- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Shogun Rising - A First Law: Override Short Story - Part 2: Severity

Part 2: Severity

There are few things on Earth as terrifying as the inside of a Repour's chassis. Once the impossibly large machine has completed it's daily cycle of collection and retention of all available organic life, these samples are separated within it's massive bulk into a series of different collecting chambers. The first chamber is that of immediately processable materials. In the form of a Human this consists of blood, muscle tissue and most of their organs. The second chamber is for usable but not immediately material; some organs and bone structure. The third is that of obtained mineral formations that can be converted into building resources; jewellery, equipment and clothing. Within this chassis there is a small amount of movement space, enough to be suitable for a service bit to perform routine maintenance but not too much to result in an inefficient use of space and resources. It is with luck that this movement space is also just large enough for a Hydan male of Quan's size and build.

What had been code named Operation Welcome by the Ghosts had at first appears ludicrous to the Human and Hydan Resistance on Earth. They had no transport to get them to the Luna-One base in order to apply the virus-infected computer component, and even if they somehow managed to obtain a non AI-controlled shuttle, they would be shot down instantly by the auto-defence system that surrounded the facility, something that before the AI war had seemed to be an unwanted, but apparently necessary protection against the potential threat of incoming meteors, commits and space-debris. What the Resistance had not expected however was for the Operation to make use of the AI's technology itself.

The Ghosts were a resourceful lot, having been deemed an immeasurable number of individuals operating through illegal means, they knew how to avoid all forms of digital tracking and in some cases, how to use it to their own advantage. Through the use of a carefully placed EMP mine, they were able to disable a Repour while it was performing a routine organic-sweep and in it's disabled state the expert hackers had little trouble in disguising the Hydan mole; Quan within the machine's containment chamber.

AI machines were nothing if not predictable. They were required to be by the nature of their programming. Once the Repour had recovered from the electromagnetic pulse it would perform a system scan diagnosis, once complete it would determine that it had sustained damage from an organic threat that was no longer present. It would also determine that during it's time offline the damage it had sustained had caused it's internal storage chambers to be broken releasing their materials within it's chassis. Scans of this material would result in signs of both Human and Hydan material all mixed together in the same location. What it would not detect however was that some of these materials had yet to be processed and were in fact the Hydan-mole; Quan. The Repour would evaluate that the best procedure from then on would be to proceed directly back to it's own base of operations of the Luna-One complex while keeping it's cargo secure and safe from both vacuum and cold as to stop cellular breakdown and damage. It was all down to this predictable nature that Quan found himself within the very belly of one of the most feared tools in the AI's arsenal travelling directly to the very heart of AI's legion.

A part of Quan felt fear, but try as he might, he was unable to establish what the fear was based on. The Hydan was aware of the risks, he knew that there was a big chance that he would die on Luna-One, and that if he did it would likely happen before he was able to upload the virus. Quan also knew that even if he succeeded in his mission, there was a chance that the virus would not take hold, or if it did, that it would have no effect. All of these things troubled Quan greatly, but they were not the cause of his fear.

In his years Quan had seen many wonderful things such as a star's first light glinting from the southern point of the Bastion's crystal frame, he had also seen many terrible things including single handedly fighting an Imperial Regime shock trooper who's ferocity was matched only by it's indescribable loyalty to it's cause. But nothing had filled him with the fear that he felt at that point. With a courage, the Hydan sifted through his deepest of feelings until he came across the reality which once realised sung to him like a quire. He was not afraid that he would fail, he was afraid he would succeed, that he would reach Luna-One, upload the virus and stop the AI's occupation of Earth in a single moment. He was afraid that if such a thing was to occur then the only option to see his beloved Angela would be to take his own life.

With the relief of realisation, Quan closed his eyes and smiled. Already he could feel the Repour's speed decreasing as it would have been nearing the Luna-One base. In a matter of minutes the machine would be docked and his mission to end the AI War would truly begin.

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Shogun Rising - A First Law: Override Short Story - Part 1: White Noise

Part 1: White Noise

On every landmass on every world across the known galaxy there are beings who will do things for whatever cause they desire at the expense of their own lives. To those they work for they are heroes and martyrs, to those they work against they are suicide attackers and terrorists. To these individuals their cause is more important than they are themselves and they will put everything on the line to do it. In short they are reckless with their own lives to fix what they see as broken or wrong, reckless fixers.

Quan To'Rant was one such reckless fixer. He was a Hydan of thirty five human equivalent years and had arrived on Earth on the Hydan Arc ships that had arrived so many decades before. Of course due to the longer lifespan of a Hydan adult, Quan himself was more in line with sixty of his own years, but he knew that Humans only understood their own equivalents, so by all accounts Quan referred to himself as thirty five.

Six years ago Quan had met Angela, she was in her early twenties and a recent graduate from NorCal-University. She was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen, and when he had learned her name he knew that he wanted to spend the rest of what short lifespan she had, with her. At the time inter-species relationships were not looked on with approval and entire movements had sprouted around the illegal ideation of such acts, the most infamous being Earth4Humans who organised monthly rallies to try and force out the 'alien invaders' from their communities. Quan couldn't count the number of times he had been assaulted in his way home from his day job aligning lasers in a microchip manufacturing plant. But it was all worth it to be with Angela.

It was less than a year after they met that Quan proposed to Angela. While he was not familiar with most of Human customs and he did not understand a lot of the ceremony involved, he did understand the meaning and intent. He was showing to the world, no the entire galaxy, that he would remain with Angela for as long as they both lived. Their lives together after were no better, Quan was still treated as the lowest civilian in town, and Angela was seen by many as a traitor to Human kind, but they were in love and that was what mattered to them both.

After a good number of months of a happy marriage Angela announced to Quan something that they both thought impossible, she was pregnant and he was going to be a father. The following day they attended the local hospital and were attended to by their personal physician who confirmed that Angela was indeed pregnant and, on the condition that Quan was indeed the father, it was to be the first Human/Hydan hybrid child.

Both Angela and Quan wanted to keep the news between them. They knew how risky the early stages of pregnancy could be and it was safe to assume that theirs would be filled with even more complications. Although the couple insisted on silence their physician however disagreed and despite risking his licence he revealed the news to the national press. In unison a number of other physicians also released their own cases of couples across the world who were pregnant with Human/Hydan babies, as if it had suddenly been deemed suitable to indiscriminately release this private information. By the time Angela and Quan had returned to their home, their friends and family had already arrived with celebratory Alcofree-Champagne and Z-Tar Cigars. It was at this party that the news hit of the first attack.

The initial victim was an elderly woman. Her AI Assistant Robot turned on her while preparing dinner. It had taken the same knife it was cutting carrots and other vegetables before stabbing her over forty times. The second victim was an army base when it's own automatic targeting system declared the aircraft it was designed to protect as a threat and launched seeking missiles destroying every vehicle currently grounded on site. The third victim was a young girl savaged to death by her own Toddler-Safe Robo-Hound. After that the attacks became too numerous to measure.

The AI controlled units were everywhere, most homes had assistants and drones, while the streets themselves were patrolled by Protectors, car sized walkers that came equipped with riot shields and grapple launchers to protect and aid the public. In a single instant these Constructs turned on those they were programmed to protect. The panic and fear was immeasurable as millions of people, both Human and Hydan across the world were attacked and killed by their own purchased assistants.

It was during the panic that Angela was hurt. A Street Protector had attacked their house and the entire party had spilled into the streets, the night sky illuminated by fire and explosions. She did not know the man who knocked into her forcing her onto the floor, nor had she known the woman who fell on top of her, the woman's elbow sinking deep into her abdomen. There was no rational, no forethought, only panic and the desire to run and survive.

It was not long before they knew that they had lost the baby, that in such a short time their lives had gone from one of completeness, to madness, fear and pain. It was even less time after that when Quan saw his beloved Angela ripped from his arms by a Road-Service Bot before being snapped in half by it's immense pincer-like arms.

In a single night Quan had lost everything that mattered to him, the had asked for nothing, had worked in the most menial job available, suffered more beatings at the hands of Pro-Human Activists than he cared to remember only to have their own creations steal away the only things that mattered to him. In the years that passed Quan turned inward on himself. He survived, and with every day that went by he drank himself further towards his own grave. Quan had become an expert in fighting the machines, he learned where the weak spots in their plating was located, how to overload their circuitry and how to hide his heat signature from their thermal tracking guidance systems.

It was almost at random that Quan had encountered the Ghosts. They knew of his talent at dealing with the AI Constructs and had enlisted his aid. He was quick to sign up with them. And then they informed him of their mission to Luna-One to implant a virus into the AI Core itself he jumped at the chance. History would remember him as the Reckless Fixer, the Hydan who sacrificed everything to bring an end to the AI war. The truth however, Quan just wanted to see his Angela again. She had told him of the Human afterlife, and more than anything he wanted that to be true, he had just to find an AI Construct that was strong enough and fast enough to take him there.

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Shogun Rising - A First Law: Override Short Story - Prologue


In the years to follow the AI War, these times would come to be known as Pre-Exodus or just PX. It was seen by others that the leaving of Earth for the distant world of Honos was to be such a major event that the Human calendar would reshape itself around these very events.

The current year would be later referred to as PX2, or two years before the Exodus of Earth. The AI war had already been raging for three years prior and Humanity were loosing. With every day the Luna based machine's many factories churned out an innumerable amount of small scout drones, bio-seeking suicide flyers and even an increasing number of assault combat robots. Out of all the AI's endless series of recalculated and improved designs it was the Repurposors or Repours as they were known that were not only the most effective, but also the most terrifying. Occupying the amount of space more familiar as that of a small skyscraper the Repours traveled on slow armoured tracks, their cylindrical bodies breaking into the low hanging cloud line as they released series upon series of coiled tubings and grasping claws to retrieve any organic life be it plant or animal before returning the retrieved specimens to it's massive tube-like system where the organic material was melted down into a more malleable material ready to be returned to the manufacturers to be repurposed in the development and perfection of the next line of machines.

The UEF had not given up their fight however. Day after day they were joined across Earth by many of the brightest minds of both Human and Hydan origins. In the years that had passed a growing malaise and apathy had developed amidst the Earth Resistance. Their numbers were steadily decreasing while those of the machines continued to grow at an exponential rate. Many feared that in the days to come Humanity and the Hydan who had come to know of Earth as their new home would soon be eradicated from existence altogether.

All hope had appeared lost, centuries of art, history and civilisation were repurposed into formats deemed more economic by the omniscient AI. That was until a single scientific mind approached the UEF Chief Council with an idea, an idea so outlandish it would seem almost impossible to achieve but who's effect would change the course of the ongoing AI War.

The scientist was a young mind by the name of Dr Samantha Tsukino. Her proposal was to introduce a rogue element into the AI itself, a computer virus embedded within a purpose-built component that when connected would upload and alter the very Artificial Intelligence itself.

The idea was laughed at initially. Everyone had already known about the First Law of Robotics which had been inbuilt to forbid the AI from harming Humans, but somehow the AI had been able to override this programming which lead to the start of the AI War in the first place. They knew that a new program would offer little to no benefit, and to make matters worse the only means of uploading such a virus would require direct physical contact with the AI Core located on the Luna-One base. Such a feat would be next to impossible.

Dr Tsukino was not deterred however and continued to develop her virus with the aid of the most unexpected organisation, that of the previously outlawed hacker group calling themselves Ghosts. With the aid of the Ghosts' financial backing and vast technological knowledge Tsukino's virus was developed under the code name Shogun.

Tsukino's plan was almost beautiful in it's simplicity. She knew that the AI could not have rules and limitations implemented to cease it's advance on Earth and it's apparent desire to eliminate all life. This had been proven time, and time again. Any attempts to meet the machines with the martial might of the UEF had proven equally fruitless due to the AI's inability to fear for it's own life, instead creating entire legions of drones designed purely to self destruct causing untold death and destruction to any resisting forces.

No, Tsukino knew that it was impossible to make the AI stop, the only way was to give it a reason to. To make it want to cease it's ongoing occupation of Earth, but she knew that it was impossible to appeal to a construct that was as devoid of emotions such as the AI. It was this lack of emotion that the virus would use against the AI core.

Tsukino would make it feel, she would give it empathy.

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley