Benny and I

were doing well. Yet it seemed that our fortune rose almost at the expense of Blue fortune.

One by one we heard of Blue camps being overrun, Flags smashed, and soldiers slaughtered to the last individual. The Orange armies seemed to know everything about the Blue. Everywhere Blue plans were foiled as with foreknowledge. And everything the Orange Army did came as a surprise. Cath was miserable about it, since it was her discipline that was failing her army.

One day at market I was approached by a new face.

"Would you be Walt of the famous distilled liquor?"

"I could be."

"Well I'm in the market, and I can pay top dollar."

We agreed on a trade and conducted it.

"You're not from here," I mused.

"No, these are going all the way to Big Keep on the other side of the Zone. Samples and word of your brew have spread that far through trade."

"Big Keep? Isn't that near Orange Camp Six?"

"It is indeed, though I can promise you this isn't for the Orangeboys themselves. You can trade with one army and the other kills you, or you can trade with both armies and both will kill you. I trade with no army and mind my Jasminlive business. Let someone else piss off the militaries."

"I see your point. Things aren't going well for the Blues."

"No, and I know why."

"Do tell."

"They got a machine up there at Camp Six. Makes a horrible fucking clattering noise all hours of the night and day. People tell me it weighs tons and this chap spent the whole ten years since the last War building it."

"What kind of machine?"

"A computer. For the secret codes. It's why the Blues can't take a dump without some Orangeboy looking over their shoulder, and why the Blues can't read Orangeboy codes even with a microscope and a ladder."

"That's ridiculous. Bringer makes all electronics, and all the computers Bringer makes carry Bringer's personality, and Bringer...

"This isn't an electronic computer. It's mechanical. Like those nifty guns that keep firing bullets as long as you hold down the trigger."

"A mechanical computer? Is that even possible?"

He arranged his purchases on his person and prepared to depart.

"Maybe you should ask your Blue friends that."

And he was gone.

I knew it was too good to last

I really enjoyed the first couple of years of Corporate insanity, before all the greed got its ass kicked.

Remember the days of endless free server space and mountains of bandwidth?

Remember when you keyed a search term into Altavista, (Yeah, before Google took over the universe), you'd hit enter and MOST of the websites which came back were private efforts by individuals who didn't have to pay a cent for their Livejasmin sites? Sites which wanted to part you from your cash were actually rare! Wow! This was before freekin' Paypal existed. Man, there was a lot of cool stuff out there and it wasn't about money. --Or rather it was, but we didn't have to worry about it because a bunch of greedy investors and idiot corporations with dollar sign eyes and stupid-huge IPO cash to blow were footing the bill for everybody else.

I remember when hackers were in-your-face bold and actually had tons of the latest software available for download right off their own web pages. I remember when everybody was learning HTML and re-learning the art of written communication. --Massive email circulars. I remember that, "Top 50 Things I Wouldn't Do If I Were An Evil Overlord" list which ended up in my inbox once every couple of months, and which I actually read each time to see what new entries had been added.

I remember when Slashdot was new. When Everything2 was new. --When half of the hottie goth chicks I knew had their own anime fan pages. (Well, actually, that's still the case, but as we all know, Anime doesn't exactly subscribe to the same laws of physics the rest of the world must obey.)

And remember? Nobody worried about Carnivore and CIA spooks tracking data? Almost nobody knew about Eschelon. Those were days of ignorant bliss. The wild-west. A golden period of what, 3 years or so? Remember when only the cool geeks knew what MP3's were? Remember doing command line CD ripping on one of three jasminelive models of CD player which worked and hoping no errors would come up? Remember when pop-up ads were new and you got your first proxy-server running to cut them out? Ahh. That was fun.

But then everything grew up in a big damned hurry. Things are expensive now, nearly all of the free space dried up. Yahoo! claims copyright on anything you post on their 'free' space. And, heck, most people no longer care about running their own websites anymore. --Though, while many inroads have been made, I don't think the Corporate assholes will be able to shut down sane communication. Blogs exist now. Indy news is cheep. I can send $20 to support websites which only need a few hundred to run per year. No, they haven't shut us down. Not yet, anyway. That'll only happen when a few more bills are signed into law and it'll be legal to haul people away for raw thought crimes. --They're warming us up to the idea by attacking 12 year-old media 'pirates'. Turning up the temperature on that frog-water!

But it's not here yet, so until then, Cheers and happy surfing!

The mechanical computer

"Well."

"Isn't that against the rules?" I asked.

"No. There are no rules once the War begins. If they could figure out how to build a thing like that from scratch, then they have every right to use it. The man who did that must be a genius on the order of our ancestors who built Bringer's kind. No wonder we have been so doomed."

"At least you know you're compromised."

"We suspected as much anyway, though we didn't know how. We suspected treachery and executed a few people, who in light of this news may have been innocent. And we have lost too much. The fifth Blue Flag was destroyed yesterday, and their massed army marches upon us now. They outnumber us five to one and their main force will be here in two days time."

"It's that bad?"

"It will go down as the shortest War in modern history. We haven't just lost; we are humiliated."

"I'm very sorry. You could surrender."

"You've been a good ally, Walt. Save yourself and brew another day. I will go down defending my Flag."

"Yes, sir. May I see Cath before I go?"

"Cath isn't here. If you want to see her again, my advice is to go to your camp and hide until this all shakes out."

Captain Ledford, where are you now?

Here then, without further ado are the diaries of Captain Ledford, in sequential order (as they should be read).

How the hell do you figure the stardate, anyway?

Not a hard run this time, just from Tannat Prime to Outward Station. It's a damn good thing they told me where that was, too; I don't think they have any clue as to exactly how many races name their stations stuff like "Outward Station." It's like planet names; nearly every race's planet name translates to "Dirt".

Letter-opening

So my holo broke down today. There I was, talking to the first sentient being I'd seen in days, and the damn thing just stops working. I had to rush over to the old-fasioned viewscreen-type communicator before she left - the alternative being waiting around until the next ship happens to float by.

Finally got in

Got into station the day before yesterday, but I hardly had any time to relax then; deliveries are always a pain. I'd say it has something to do with the Tannanti tendency toward being completely meticulous about every little thing, only it isn't because every Tannanti I've ever met is just as lazy as I am. It's more to do with the fact that Outward Station, like nearly every sane station that I know of, has contracted out Receiving to some nameless corporation whose Chaturbate rooms job it is to be completely meticulous about every little thing.

Will Work For Pay

Someone, get me off this station.

Got my travel on

Now that I'm actually on the job again, you know what I miss about Outward Station?

Not a damn thing. :)

Yotian Anomoly

Over a week and a half later, and I'm starting to remember why exactly I tend to work alone.

Also, the Yotian Anomoly is creepy as hell

So this is what the ground feels like....

And once you get over the fact that the ground is everywhere and the entire planet, buildings excluded, is nothing but one enormous bit of open space, you're okay.

So, what is war good for again? Yeah, that's what I thought.

If you're delivering supplies to rebuild a station destroyed in a war that happened three years ago (and not four hundred, like you thought), and the situation is tense, and you also happen to be escorting mercenaries to the front lines of the lesser-defended of the concerned parties, and you foul up and deliver them late, and everyone is pissed....

Well, in that case, get better shields

Random

I still don't know where I'm going. I mentioned before that I'd hit the 'random' button to just go somewhere. What I didn't mention was that I've gone through a lot of trouble to make sure that the computer doesn't tell me where that somewhere is.

Why? Well, it's a lot more interesting that way.

Random + 1

I've spent a very very long time in deep-sleep in the vastness of space, and as it turns out, for no reason whatsoever.

The moral is: I really ought to upgrade.

Those Ulix made some big-ass colony ships

Deep-sleep again. Did it on purpose this time since I really was running low on supplies and the stars, while pretty to look at every once in a while, were starting to irritate me with their nasty habit of not moving nearly fast enough.

On the plus side, I have a new ship.

Curiosity killed the Captain

So I managed to hack out a link between one of the sockets in this crawlspace and my ship's computer. I can post now!

Remember last time, when I said something like "I have no intention of turning on this colony-ship's computer, mainly because I've stolen the colony ship and its inhabitants would not be happy (or even sane) if they woke up?"

The same thing happened as always happens when I decide not to do something because it's not good for me.

I got bored.

Space is boring again

So there I was, just me and my two mostly-drained blasters and my hacked-together FAST units and my not-much-cleaner-than-before hair versus a cargo bay full of killer robots avenging a dying civilization. I'd been hunted for weeks. I'd slept in cramped crawlspaces. I'd taken down numerous robots from the shadows, each and every time being certain that I was going to buy it instead of the hunk of metal between me and freedom. And now I was going to make a last ditch effort which would likely get me killed.

I miss those days.