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Double Vision

Posted on Mon Apr 30th, 2018 @ 4:54am by Lieutenant Commander Mel Torma & Major Karbainov Gennadiyevich Ph.D

Mission: New Horizon
Location: Outside the hospital
Timeline: After the battle

He had gotten down from his perch on the roof once more, and like the countless rounds he had made since making landfall at the hospital he began to survey the battlefield. The russian shouldered his carbine but kept it lowered as he walked out of the receiving bay’s service door. Peering around the corner he checked the ridges for any obvious signs that they had a sniper on them and moved forward to where the ships were parked.

Before getting very far he noticed one of the drones was standing guard and Karbainov's curiousity got the best of him. He couldn’t help himself and started to get closer for a better look. He was pretty intent on what he was doing, so he did not notice much else as he tried to figure out how much of a punishment something like this could take before it went down.

Mel didn't exactly sneak up on him, but with his attention so rapt and occupied...

"They're remarkable." she commented, her tone soft enough that she hoped she wouldn't actually startle the burly marine. "Most of Dalacar's standing military are drones, like this one. Even our fighter squadrons are actually drones." she commented as she continued.

"We haven't had the chance to formally meet." her other form continued the conversation, and actually held out her hand to Karvainov. "I'm Mel Torma. Thank you for helping keep everyone safe."

The previous twin continued, while the other still was the seemingly designated 'Greeter'. "We have a very, very select few back home that willingly run towards danger. It's a commendable trait, so thank you."

“All drones? How do you deal with jamming? Are they all independent thinkers? How do you program them with tactics?” Karbainov asked absently fascinated by the drone, looking it over and noting it had taken some damage. “Do they know to repair themselves?”

Then he saw Mel. His eyes widened and his mouth opened several times to speak, but it didn’t happen. “Well hello!” he said with a warm smile, moving his carbine to his back. He accepted her opened hand warmly and shook it. “A pleasure to meet you. And I do what I can, not all of us have the smarts to be an engineer or a scientist, so we must do what we can to co-exist. But you are welcome” He said to the fascinating creature. “So you come from Dalacar?” He asked her pronouncing the name as slow as he could to make it sound…. Close. “Logistically, I don’t want to offend, but how does this work? Do I look at one of you? Or both at once?”

She gave a smirk, "You know, for someone who claims not to be an engineer or a scientist, you ask very intelligent and thought out questions." she complimented as he took her hand. "As for how we..."

"... figured out how to deal with various bumps in the road, trial and error mostly. The drones have a simple logic routine that if there's an interruption in commands from the central..."

"... Thinking Engine, then they operate off of the last verified command and battle tactics until a verified link is reacquired. We also bounce between several different wavelengths, so in order..."

"... to effectively jam the drone army, you'd have to essentially jam almost every form of subspace communication available." she stated. "And no, they're not independent thinkers at..."

"... all. Every drone in a group gets their tactics from a Thinking Engine. I'll show it to you later, it's remarkable really. It's a calculation engine that looks at current tactics, makes..."

"... millions of calculations in a second, figures out how the enemy will react based on how they've been reacting, and then sends out updated tactics to the troops." she explained. "So that..."

"... the longer a conflict goes on, the more dangerous an opponent each drone becomes." she sounded pleased, though she ran her fingers over the damaged chassis of the one drone that sparked this conversation. "They don't know field repairs. Most battle strategies..."

"... involve overwhelming numbers. Damaged drones are recalled from the field to be repaired, or recycled into fabricator mass to produce a less damaged replacement." she took a breath, which was odd because even the one currently NOT speaking took the same breath. "As for how to look at me, as dangerous as this may sound, look at me however you feel most comfortable."

"I've had training in Singular Instance Sensitivity, so I'm comfortable and prepared to be around non-Dalacari. You can't offend me casually, and no... that wasn't a challenge." she giggled, an infectious sound that traveled from one form to the other.

He switched off looking at whichever one was talking at him. He smiled each time she switched the one that was talking. He thought it was very interesting. “Sounds like you have everything covered… thank the gods you are on our side…” He said with a nodd. “Those communications you use… could I get like.. A few man packs of those?” He shook his head with a laugh. “Never mind, don’t worry. These are not a priority right now… but something nice to think in the the future…”

He took a moment to process everything she had said. Well at least he didn’t have to worry about offending her. He laughed with her, a hearty belly laugh. “Well… I will do my best not to offend, or be challenged to offend… So, you are an engineer?” He asked looking her over…. Twice.

"I'm sure as the Republic of Dalacar and the Federation become closer allies, we'll be trading plenty of exclusive technologies. You could use it, believe me. Your replicators?" she just giggled.

"I'm teasing, but I'm certain there'll be a tech trade in the future. Or the past. Oh this is hurting my head." she shook both of her heads, just the thought of how much this was wrong was bothering her. "But, to answer your question, no..."

"... I'm more of a scientist. On Dalacar, we've freed ourselves from menial pursuits and tasks with our drone workforce. So, without having to worry about tasks like transportation..."

"... or waste management or housekeeping, we can pursue higher fields like math and science and art. A Dalacari is free to be whatever they want at the moment. So, I wanted to be..."

"... a scientist. Mostly because I'm better at taking things apart than I am at putting them back together." she admitted with a smirk. Well technically a pair of smirks.

“Does this… timeline affect you specially? Like do you have a temporal sense?” He asked her. “Is that what is hurting your head? Or is it just the… complexity of all of this?”

Each body shook her head, "No, I mean, not like in some mystical sense. Just messes with my head." a pause, "In a 'Trying not to think about it' sense. That Thinking Engine was left here because..."

"... the ship it was one was disabled. All hands lost." she pointed out. "That's an entire ship of Dalacari, gone. I want to ask the Engine for their names. Their homes. Their..."

"... family locations so that I can warn them. Tell them not to get on that ship, but if I do that, then that ship might not be here now, and then we'd all be dead without the..."

"... drones here to help fend off our enemies. So I can't. I can't ask, I can't learn, I can't even find a way to thank them. They might not even be BORN yet, and they've already..."

"... saved our lives. It really messes with your head when you think about it like that." and then, the pair gave a smile each, "Hence... no thinking about it."

The russian gave her a thoughtful nod. "I understand exactly what you are going through. In combat, when you loose those close to you, it hurts... and you start questioning your actions, and the possibilities." He looked over to the drone. "Your people's sacrifices, and their noble spirits will not be forgotten. You just need to keep busy, and do what needs to be done. So the ghosts don't haunt you. My father always talked about outrunning one's deamons..."

She gave a pair of nods. "For a Dalacari, the closest one to you is you." she said, and motioned to her other half. "We evolved from swarm predators. Nasty little bunches of fur and teeth. They form something of a group empathy and..."

"... use it to stay safe, alert, and dangerous. Can't surprise them unless you surprise them all, and when one finds food the whole pack just moves in. It's pretty crazy to watch, really." she admitted.

"But, that's our roots. Now, we're pairs. BUT... if you hurt one you hurt both, so everything we do we do carefully. Any risk we may expose ourselves to has to be measured." she didn't sound upset by what others would consider life in a crystalline cage. She took a pause, and a pair of deep breaths, before she even thought of continuing this line of thought.

"We ran out of room for the dead in Dalacar. There are no graveyards. No cemeteries. We cremate the dead separately and mix the ashes with glass to make two baubles. Icons to..."

"... remember. For the more religious among us, they're kept in an alter. For the rest, they're kept on a shelf. I... I didn't see any Dalacari bodies out there, which is a mercy I think."

She shook her heads, "I don't think I could handle seeing one. But, I think I know what I want to do before we leave here." she paused, "I want to at least make a pair of markers. Something..."

"... to at least acknowledge their passing, from a Dalacari to another. This way, no deamons, no ghosts. No unfinished business. Last thing we need right now are angry ghosts." she giggled, despite the grim nature of their conversation.

“Then you should do it… If you feel like you should honor your dead you should do it.” The marine said with a nod after listening to her. Her species was quite interesting and he liked hearing about her species and how everything came to be. “I agree with it, they deserve it, what can I do to help you?” From the tone in his voice he was very serious, honoring the dead was something the Marine thought important.

The Russian laughed a little at the angry ghost comment. "You are right, spirits are the last thing we need to worry about. Does your species belive in an after life?"

The pair nodded, "We do, but ... you have to promise not to laugh." she warned, "The Dalacari are of a ... split mind about it." she paused, like she just told the worst joke in the universe.

"The more religious of us believe that when we pass we meet with Dia in the grace of their presence. From there, we're lead to a paradise where all those who passed before us wait." she explained.

"If you lived a virtuous life and didn't stray from Dia's wisdoms, you can join them all as one enormous family. If not, you are forced to wait forever at the gate. Joyous community..."

"... and companionship forever denied." she then shook her head, "As for those of us of a less-religious mindset, our concept is a little less homely. When this shell passes on..." as she mentioned the term shell, the silent twin patted her own shoulders.

"... our minds become unshackled, and in the form of boundless energy we can roam the cosmos at the speed of thought seeking answers to all our questions." it was obvious from her tone which one she was a bigger fan of: The latter.

"Now, as for helping me, I'd really appreciate it. I have an idea for what I'd like to do, but that involves smelting some sand into glass, and then maybe putting a few locks of my ..."

"... hair into the mix. The one thing is, I'd prefer the cuts to come from each of me, and I'd really rather someone else cut." she mentioned. "See, Dalacari have a taboo about coming into..."

"... contact with ourselves. It's... it feels weird, like running your tongue along the back of someone else's teeth." she shivered at the description. Nicely done, Mel. "So, if I show you what to..."

"... cut, and where, would you?" she asked. "I know, I know, hardened marine training didn't qualify you for barber duty, but in this case alone, I'd make an exception." at that, she smiled.

“I promise I won’t laugh.” He said with a nod and prepared himself for the most ridiculous things he could imagine. But as she finished he couldn’t help but wonder that a species across the universe came up with something so similar to his own beliefs. “Either of those sound like a reasonable afterlife expectation. Some humans believe similar things.” He had surely heard weirder things proposed. His own thoughts drifted to his father, and his teachings about the Norse and their beliefs about Valhalla.

“Not much of a barber no…” the Russian smiled. “But I think I can handle this.” He tugged on his vest and pulled a small knife that was hidden under some other gear.

"When the time is right." one said, while the other held up a single hand in the 'Hold on there partner' motion. Though, soon they both relaxed, "Thank you for this. On one hand, I know it might sound a little silly but, I think everyone knows exactly how I feel..."

"... but it's a feeling no one really looks forward to. So, for understanding, and indulging a little in Dalacari custom, thank you." The serene moment was soon broken by the sound of a stomach growling. It was certainly one of Mel's, though which one took a bit of narrowing down.

"Okay, food first, then memorial?" she offered with a smirk.

He made a little flourish with his hands and the knife disappeared into his gear in -almost- a magic trick. “Yes, get something to eat… there is a functioning replicator, but the database is corrupted… not sure if they fixed it yet…” He said with a smile. “I just had some food, but when you need me… call me back and I will give you a hand with what you need.”

 

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