Thursday, November 30, 2006

Document NSAR01-It NS-G-001 successfully retrieved

Document NASR01-It NS-G-001
Title: New Shiran Auditoral Review Interview NS-G-001 (transcript)
Transcribed by: Masako Information Services (MIS) Autotranscriber s/n 183-173-1783-8g
Participants: 1) Tomoki Portia Karina Berthold, Auditor-Writ-Large, Lady of the Liquid Lance, Mamuck of the Multifaceted Mirage and triptych of the Takarazukan Trifector (designated as T hereafter), 2) Hugh Fleming, Governor of the Colony of New Shiran, thirteenth colony of the Extended Kingdom, Olipahnt of the Occidental Octopi and commander of the King's 121st Marine Regiment (hereafter designated H)
Recorded at: 21014-214-10-14-03-NS:21014-214-14-43-42NS
Original audio file available upon request.
Line reference numbers omitted
Transcript begins:
T: You are aware this interview will be recorded.
H: No, but I'm not surprised.
T: Well I will start with the formalities then. This interview is conducted as part of the Auditoral Review of New Shiran by Tomoki Portia Karina Berthold, Auditor-Writ-Large, under the authority of Santorum Trask, Under-Hierophant of Colonial Affairs, who acts on behalf of His Majesty Shardon the twenty-third, Monarch of the Extended Kingdom. As such, this interview is considered sworn testimony, subject to all considerations of testimony given to a court of law. This interview, and any subsequent interviews will be recorded, and such recordings will become public documents available to all citizens after standard waiting periods. Do you understand this?
H: I do.
T: For the record, please state your full name, position and titles.
H: Hugh Fleming, Governor of the Colony of New Shiran, thirteenth colony of the Extended Kingdom, Olipahnt of the Occidental Octopi and commander of the King's 121st Marine Regiment.
T: When did you become Governor of New Shiran?
H: I was appointed Governor on 20982-032. I arrived on New Shiran on 20982-145NS and commenced my duties on 20982-155NS.
T: Who was Governor before you?
H: The first Governor was Stephen Yrf, who was followed by John Odwen. I was appointed Governor to follow John Odwen.
T: Are you aware of the colonisation schedule that was created for New Shiran before the colonisation fleet departed?
H: Yes I have studied them and was a member of the Schedule Revision Committee during the Odwen Governorship.
T: Do you think the previous Governors were able to follow the schedule?
H: When Odwen took over the colony was well behind schedule, and lacking many resources that should have been available. Part of the role of the Schedule Revision Committee was to revise the schedule to match what was feasible at the time.
T: Was the revised schedule adhered to?
H: No, this planet has proved to be much more difficult to colonise than any other in the Extended Kingdom.
T: Why do you say that?
H: Well, just look around. The planet seems to resist our presence. Nearly all the attempts to begin mining for resources have failed in catastrophic accidents. Without mining, industrial production is minimal. Agriculture is going OK, but without an industrial base, we can't expand much beyond what we already have.
T: What about surveys of the planet? When was the first survey completed?
H: An orbital scan of the planet was completed by the advance party, but atmospheric conditions prevented accurate visualisation of much of the third continent. Aerial surveys were done for the regions surrounding the colony, but after several accidents and loss of craft, aerial surveys were discontinued.

Breakfast and a meeting

Tomoki ate breakfast in front of the computer. She reviewed the surveys that had been taken of the planet. She made several notes and then had the computer play some music while she finished her breakfast.

After she finished, she gathered up her notes. She shut down the computer and withdrew her disk. She put the disk back in her suitcase and then locked the suitcase. She left the suite and locked the door behind her. She retraced her steps from yesterday evening until she stood before the doors to the Governor's office.

She was just about to know on the door when it opened in front of her. The Governor stood in the doorway looking a bit surprised.

"I did not expect you to be so prompt for this meeting," he uttered in shock.

"I said I would be here at this time and I am here at this time. Is that a rarity on New Shiran?" Tomoki replied coolly. "I trust you are ready," she continued.

"Of course, go right in. I'll be back in a moment," the Governor said, before darting down the corridor.

Tomoki entered the office and sat down on one of the couches off to the side of the office. She withdrew a dark metallic triangular device from a pocket inside her coat and placed it on the table. She then leant back and relaxed while she waited for the Governor to return.

A few minutes later the Governor returned and sat down across from Tomoki.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Breakfast time

Tomoki woke the next morning with the sun shining in through the gap between the top of the curtains and the top of the window. As she stood up she looked through the gap and saw the plains of New Shiran dotted with prefabricated buildings. She got out of bed and walked into the bathroom, where she enjoyed the luxury of a long shower, which was something she had missed on the voyage to New Shiran.

Breakfast arrived just after she finished getting dressed. She had put on what was a conservative outfit back on Beaumont, but here it felt quite out of place.

As when dinner had been delivered last night, there was an attempt to open the door followed by a vigorous knocking on the door. Tomoki unlocked the door and let the woman bearing her breakfast into the suite.

"I'm sorry Auditor, but there seems to be a problem with your door," the maid said hesitantly as she carried the tray over to the coffee table at the side of the room. "The attendant last night mentioned a problem. I'll have maintenance have a look at it," she said.

"That won't be necessary, I like it that way," Tomoki replied. "And please take the tray from last night."

"Oh, OK." The maid collected the tray with the remnants of Tomoki's dinner and quickly left the room.

Friday, November 24, 2006

A reckoning is to be had

Well, there had to be a reason for this, and Tomoki was determined to find out what it was. The summaries she was reading skipped over any concept of a schedule for the colonies development. Even the satellite maps seemed vague. The settlement was clearly visible, but some sections of the global map were just shown as a cloud obscured blur. Definitely something to question Governor Fleming about.

She made a few notes about questions she wanted the Governor to answer and possible follow ups, as well as some other people she thought would give her a better idea of what was happening here on New Shiran, as well as its history.

Tomoki went to the computer and used it to send a message to the Governor scheduling a message for late tomorrow morning. She then set an alarm for sunrise tomorrow morning, and prepared to sleep for the night. She had a shower in what turned out to be a rather small bathroom, and then went to sleep, lying on the bed naked.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Chapter 2

In which we explore the process of colonisation, and wonder what went wrong with New Shiran

Tomoki woke when she heard someone trying to unlock the door to her suite, and then a rapid knocking. She got up and walked to the door. She unlocked it and opened the door.

Standing in the doorway was a young lady dressed slightly formally and bearing a tray packed with food.

"Sorry to disturb you Auditor Berthold, but I was unable to open your door. I've brought you your dinner," she said quickly in a flustered manner.

"Leave it on the coffee table over there," Tomoki replied and pointed at the table between the couches.

The maid entered the room and scurried over to the couches, and gently placed the tray on the coffee table. She turned and left the room meekly without looking at Tomoki.

Tomoki stretched out on one of the couches, and picked at the meal as she began to review the early history of the colony. She had reviewed the initial surveys and planning documents
for the colony back on Beaumont, but had wanted to wait until she saw the colony before studying it's history further.

She clearly had her work cut out for her trying to find out why the colony was so far behind schedule. The early stages had gone well. The orbital station had been set up, and the deuterium refinery in orbit around Tahe could produce enough to supply a Second Expansion colony. Out here, it mostly say idle, its production capabilities above and beyond what was needed by New Shiran.

The initial landing had also gone well. The colony ships were designed to land and be converted into accommodation, agricultural and industrial buildings. This first spurt of development had happened, and nothing seemed to have gone on since.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Interlude 1

The first planet in the Delta Sokirin system was detected in 19121 and was a gas giant later designated Delta Sokirin VI (Tahe). It was detected by astronomical observation of small variations in the Doppler shift of light from Delta Sokirin. Delta Sokirin VI had an orbital period of 5124 standard days, and an estimated mass of 0.1032% that of Delta Sokirin.

The Delta Sokirin system is 45 standard light years from the homestar away from the galactic core. It was a candidate system during the Second Expansion, but was removed from consideration early in the planning phases due to the distance to the system.

Delta Sokirin was also a candidate during the Third Expansion, and this time a probe was sent to the system. This probe found 11 planets, 3 rocky planetoids, 2 minor planets, 5 gas giants and one (Delta Sokirin IV) suitable for colonisation. Delta Sokirin was once again rejected for colonisation due to the discovery of several suitable systems close together that lay in the direction of the galactic core. It was decided to colonise these planets, as it was hoped that the proximity would improve trade between the fledgling colonies.

By the time of the fourth expansion, improvements in FTL travel and communication made the distance between Delta Sokirin and the Extended Kingdom less of a burden than it had been during previous expansions. Together with the discovery of several suitable systems between Delta Sokirin and the homestar, this made Delta Sokirin more suitable for colonisation as part of the Fourth Expansion.

The lead ship left the homeworld on 20929-004, tasked with setting up orbital facilities in orbit around Delta Sokirin IV and VI and performing the initial survey of Delta Sokirin IV. The main colony fleet left the home year just over a year later on 20930-42.

The colony fleet was led by Captain Stephen Yrf, who had previously been a military officer and then mayor of Shiran, the 6th largest city on the homeworld. Landfall was on 20931-211, and on this day the colony on Delta Sokirin was officially named New Shiran.

Taken from A Brief History of New Shiran and it's Role in the Extended Kingdom

Thursday, November 16, 2006

End Chapter One

Tomoki examined the blanks and selected one that closely resembled the key she had been given. She inserted both into slots in one side of the small box, and the box made a whirring noise. She removed both keys from the box and set the original onto the desk in the bedroom.

Taking the box and the new key with her she walked to the doors to her suite. She knelt in front of the door and held the box up to the lock. Another noise came from the box, then a click. She took the box away and put the new key into the lock and turned it. The lock turned and secured the door. Satisfied, Tomoki returned the small box to it's place in the larger box, and closed and locked the larger box.

Next she took a disk from her bag and went back to the computer. She put the disk in the computer and restarted the machine. When it had finished booting, the display was different from when she first used it. Tomoki checked a few settings, then returned to the bedroom.

Tomoki laid down upon the bed and closed her eyes. Despite the slow adjustment on the ship during her voyage, she was not yet used to the time here on New Shiran, and her body clock was still synced with a planet about 30 light years away. She knew that sleep was the best solution, and so planned to take a nap until dinner arrived. She spent a minute relaxing her mind, and then went to sleep.

Some Paranoia is Good for the Soul

Gertrude rushed out of the room leaving Tomoki alone. Tomoki walked to the desk and sat down. The computer was already activated and ready for use. She started by toying with the system, seeing how out of date it actually was, what security systems were activate, the extent of the colonies comnet, and so on. The computer wasn't the most advanced device, but would meet her needs. No obvious surveillance software was present, but she would check further later on.

Tomoki then went to the bedroom and inspected her bags. The seals remained intact and there was no sign of tampering. She opened one of the bags and withdraw a slim metallic box with an elaborate combination lock. She adjusted all the dials and opened the box.

Inside the box was a set of what appeared to be blank keys, and another, smaller box.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Colony Ain't All right

"Yes, we have, and have fulfilled as many as we could."

"There were some difficulties?" Tomoki asked warily.

"Well, the only suites suitable are all within this complex. And certain items you requested are not available at the moment. "

"Such as?" she said while raising her right eyebrow.

"A few niceties you requested for your suite. Your computer is a little below your requested specifications. A few other small details I'm sure you won't notice. Oh, and an independent comlink to the homeworld." was the Governor's weak reply.

"You mean to tell me that after 83 years this colony has yet to set up a second comlink system? Or even build anything on it's own?"

"We have built beyond the initial colony settlement, but this facility is still the best we have to offer. As for the comlink, without significant imports that are beyond our means, it is not possible at this point in time."

"Then I shall have to make do, won't I. But this is a bad start to my review of this colony. Would you have someone show me to my suite so that I can begin my work."

And with that the conversation came to a stop. The Governor summoned an assistant on the phone, and waited in awkward silence. Tomoki, for her part was revising her initial plans to accommodate the lack of progress that had been made on New Shiran. She had been given vague hints of some small problems, but nothing of this magnitude. This little development after 83 years was without precedent.

Her musings were interrupted by the arrival of a small mousy woman who stumbled as she came through the doors into the office. The Governor looked up at her and brusquely commanded.

"Gertrude, please take Auditor Berthold to the suite that has been prepared for her, and give her anything else that she requests, within reason."

Tomoki shot an angry look at the Governor, but decided to make an issue over the slight. She nodded at Gertrude and said "Lead on," and then followed the small woman out the doors and into the corridors.

"It's not far," Gertrude said, heading away from the Governor's office. "I'm sure it's not," Tomoki muttered under her breathe.

After walking along a few corridors and up one flight of stairs, Gertrude stopped outside a set of double doors identical to those of the Governor's office. Gertrude unlocked the door with a mechanical key, which she then handed to Tomoki.

"Who else has a key to this room?" Tomoki enquired.

"Well, security and emergency services have keys for almost everywhere, as does the Governor. The cleaners and other service staff too, I suppose."

"Thank you," Tomoki responded. She entered the suite. The first room resembled the Governors office. A large desk in the middle of the room and some couches off to the side, and past the couches was a door. Walking through the door led to a comfortable bedroom with a large bed, cupboards and a small desk. Another door on the other side of the bedroom presumably led to the bathroom.

"will you need anything else, Auditor?" Gertrude asked deferentially.

"Not right now, but could you please organise dinner for, uh, whenever is appropriate." Tomoki replied, having not yet adjusted to the local timekeeping conventions enough to be more specific.

"You may leave now," she added sharply when Gertrude made no immediate attempt to leave.

Friday, November 10, 2006

In which we learn some names, and Formality aids the word count

The man led her to an all-terrain vehicle, and took the driver's seat himself. The journey took about an hour through mostly clear plains spotted with rough dwellings here and there. As the vehicle slowed, she saw the first building that seemed up to the standard of the space port, and assumed this was the Governor's office building.

The vehicle stopped roughly and she quickly got out of the antiquated machine. She strode towards the building, forcing her guide to run to catch up in time to open the door for her.

"The Governor's through this way," he said as she entered the building, and then led the way into the corridors. After a few turns they stood in front of a pair of large doors. "This is his office. He'll be expecting you," he mumbled, and then departed rapidly.

"Time to get this started then," she thought, and opened both doors before striding through.

"Governor Hugh Fleming, I have been sent by the Under-Hierophant of Colonial Affairs to inspect and illumine, reveal and report on the colony of New Shiran. You will of course wish to review my credentials." She stated with rigid formality, and then withdrew an envelope from her satchel, and handed it to the Governor.

"Welcome, welcome. We have been preparing for your arrival since we heard you were to visit. There were a few details we have yet to receive," the Governor replied.

"Oh, and what might those be?" she queried coolly.

"Who you are for a start."

"You have my credentials."

The Governor turned the envelop in his hands, looking at the seal, yet another formality in this affair, then opened it with his fingers, careful not to damage the contents. He opened up the letter and read aloud its contents.

"To Hugh Fleming, Governor of the Colony of New Shiran, thirteenth colony of the Extended Kingdom, Olipahnt of the Occidental Octopi and commander of the King's 121st Marine Regiment,

From Santorum Trask, Under-Hierophant of Colonial Affairs, , , , and Eminence of Excessive Epithets, on behalf of His Majesty Shardon the twenty-third, Monarch of the Extended Kingdom.

I Present to you Tomoki Portia Karina Berthold, Auditor-Writ-Large, Lady of the Liquid Lance, Mamuck of the Multifaceted Mirage and triptych of the Takarazukan Trifector, charged to inspect and illumine, reveal and report on the past, present and potential of the colony of New Shiran.

I request and require that you render any and all assistance required or requested by her while she carries out her task as she sees fit.

Signed and sealed at 21014-144-18-12-03"

The Governor looked somewhat surprised, but sullen also. "We weren't expecting someone quite so eminent," he said quietly.

"And for my part, I was not expecting to visit somewhere quite so ... out of date, but here I am. I trust you received my list of requirements?"

Monday, November 06, 2006

I can't make up names

Tomoki Berthold stepped off the boarding platform and into the arrival lounge with a sense of dread. She still didn't know why she had been sent to this rock of a planet. The place was a mess, with very few buildings, and those few stuck out like sore thumbs. This was typical of most colonies, but at least the others made a bit of an effort to get on with things.

New Shiran had been colonised 83 years ago, but not much had improved since then. Even considering it's status as an agricultural world, it's industrial development lagged behind what it should have been. It showed in the crude nature of the spaceport. The planet still used a small fleet of shuttles to ferry people between the surface and their ships, most of which were unable to land due to the lack of facilities. The ferries looked as though they'd been used since before the colony was founded.

Tomoki looked around, seeking the Governor's representative that was meant to be waiting for her. In the distance she spied a scruffy man, dressed in the retro clothes that colonists tended to wear, out of affectation more than actual need. The contrast between his rough garments and her sleek suit was remarkable, and indeed, she did remark upon it.

"I'd have thought the Governor's representative would have had a bit more sense of what is appropriate attire for such a meeting", She said.

"Well, yeah, but this ain't what I do every day. Up until last week, the Governor didn't have much of a staff. We're sort of learning this as we go," he replied defensively.

"Very well. That gets you sympathy, but not a pardon." was her taut reply. How are we getting to the Governor's office?"

"A vehicle is waiting this way, if you'll follow me."

She followed him through the small building to the exit, where an empty field with a few rough vehicles existed where mass transit and elaborate parking structures should have already been in place.

This part feels like a prologue

Some say history is determined in grand gestures, the charge of the cavalry, the signing of the treaty. Others think that the course of history depends on all the small actions of all the bit players. Towards the end of the Second Era of Time Travel, some more relaxed scholars attempted to find out the answer once and for all. They did this by first making some small changes (moving a pebble a foot to the left), then making bigger changes (closing a door that was open), the more subtle changes (convincing a man to change the spelling of his last name by one letter), and onto the outright blatant (dropping a safe onto Lord Wellington just before the Battle of Trafalgar), all with inconsistent results. Ultimately they decided that the past, like so much in the present, was a chaotic system, stable in some parts, but susceptible to violent swings if pushed at just the right place.

Of course, once such tom-foolery was discovered, a great scandal broke out, and as events played out we left the Second Era of Time Travel, and the Third Era of Linear Time, or as some of the more aggressive historians are calling it, the First Self-Imposed Era of Linear Time, began. A bit excessive if you ask me, but society will always have people who like to be over the top.

I will admit that it is good seeing people showing a bit of willpower and avoiding something tempting and yet so dangerous. The ethos is spreading, although as I have mentioned, there are some who are taking it a little too far. They could at least show some creativity. I mean calling themselves Neo-Spartans is ridiculous, when they are neither new nor Spartan.

Anyway, back to my original point. History is a tricky thing. I think it ignores most of us, takes our measure and finds us wanting. But a few are taken under her wing, and decide the fate of us all. And History grows more picky as time goes on. Fewer are called, and fewer rise to the challenge.

I'd like to think I was one of those picked by History to move mankind forward, but I know better than that. But I have followed in the wake of those who were, and have yet to decide if they rose to the challenge.