Hello, my name is…
1 – Hello, my name is Betty. The late Twentieth and early Twenty-First Century saw the rise of the Internet. For the first time in human history, people could easily communicate with each other all around the globe. And they could publish anything they wanted in virtual space and everyone could read or listen to it anywhere. As servers became less expensive, online news sites and blogs became common, allowing anybody to report the news with minimal or no cost to them. Much of this “reporting” was of course substandard, but this further reduced the lock on news the major networks had once had. People no longer had to listen to their news. They could get it anywhere.
2 – Hello, my name is Jack. I grew up a short flight from the Republic of Lakota, so I saw them on a fairly regular basis. We made yearly trips out to Wounded Knee to remember the massacre, before celebrating the New Year in a cheerier place. They still maintain that and other historic monuments and reenactments in the old ways, but the majority of Lakota is just as modern as any other major nation in America. Pine Ridge is better than Las Vegas in my opinion for instance. You can go to dinner shows, take tours of the Bad Lands, go gambling, or just sit and lazy your way through the day at five star hotels. Pine Ridge knows how to make people who have money to spend feel real welcome.
3 – Hello, my name is Charles. We first began wearing suits instead of our military uniforms during the Hyades Campaign. The locals reacted to us well and the suits became our uniform of choice for the rest of The War. They became part of our identity, and we continued to wear them as Peace began to reign. The Cowboys still wear suits, though our suits are not identical. I prefer the old world, old money, business suits that I grew up with for example. Those from Midwestern America and Old Mexico have other ideas of what makes a good suit. I will never understand their ties. But I suppose it is the thought that counts.
4 – Hello, my name is Betty. The democratization of news from the control of the major networks to the voices of hundreds, then thousands, and even millions of voices caused a major change in the fabric of society. The majority of people had listened to the major news services in previous decades because those were the only news sources. Those who disbelieved were the minority, reading or listening to underground newspapers and pirate radio stations. But with the anti-establishment news readily available for anyone to see on the new distributed networks, trust in the governments hit an all-time low. The dissatisfaction and rebellion against pro-government candidates put forth by both major American parties in the twenty teens was a direct result of this new paradigm.
5 – Hello, my name is Jack. Republic of Lakota is one of the largest Indian Nations when it comes to the land they govern. They don’t have the largest population, but they do real good for themselves. They somehow manage to balance distrust of others with a friendliness towards visitors who are there to spend money. They’ve got a serious military and are one of the staunchest members of the Small Government Coalition that has always been a thorn in the side of those who want to give Washington DC more power. Some people call them old fashioned and reactionary. I always have thought they just had a better grasp of the real world than other people. I like them.
6 – Hello, my name is Charles. The Republic of Texas officially retired Marine Fighter Attack Wing 112 after War’s End. We are no longer part of the military. We are Cowboys still, though we are beholden to no government. We are independent of national ties. The five-pointed star with a wolf wearing a cowboy hat is our sigil, and the suits we wear are our uniforms. As we did in the Hyades Cluster, we seek order and peace wherever we go. Some planets welcome us. Others do not. But where the people want us and the governments do not, we are sure to come sooner or later. Word will reach us and we will come. We promise.
7 – Hello, my name is Jack. I grew up in a world at peace. All I ever wanted in those days was to live on the lake and have some parties. I did school for the social aspects, not for the learning stuff. I knew everything I needed to know. I thought of myself as a pretty bad boy. Then The War came and everything I knew ended. I had to change my plans. My wishes. Everything. I had to adapt. I had to grow up. The Shang turned a boy that never wanted anything more than a fun party on the beach into the man people call Jack of Harts. That’s me if you’re having trouble tracking. I like to think they regret that life decision on their part. I would if I was in their shoes.
Jack drawn by Carlos C. Beltrán
8 – Hello, my name is Betty. After decades of slow and glitchy message boards or an early Internet that ran on old copper telephone lines, the Twenty First Century introduced revolutions in both hardware and software technologies. Fiberoptic lines became the backbone of the new long distance networks, and wireless towers and nodes allowed the widespread use of distributed computing. Personal computers stopped being relegated to a floor in a room with a static screen, or to a still bulky portable platform you could place on your lap. Personal computers became handheld devices that could be left in a pocket while you walked around town. And for the first time in known history, people could communicate to anybody they knew, even to the other side of the Earth, while they walked around the mall or had lunch at a restaurant.
9 – Hello, my name is Jack. Dinetah is the largest Indian Nation by land. And unlike many Indian Nations the lands are those that the Navajo have lived on for centuries. Their histories say they came from the coastal lands of California long ago, but even they don’t know where they came from before that. Maybe boats from Asia. Or that frozen bridge that people talk about between Alaska and Russia. Wherever they came from, they seem happy to live in Dinetah now, the place they believe God created the world from. Or something like that. They don’t think in American, so sometimes things get lost in translation. I’m never fully certain I got the idea right.
10 – Hello, my name is Charles. If you saw only what the networks reported, you would believe that every American pilot who fought with the Peloran was a Cowboy. That is not entirely accurate. And all of us did not pilot Avengers. No single weapon can be used against all enemies you know. The Avenger is an excellent fighter, but Marauders are more deadly towards capital ships, and Shooting Stars are powerful military transports. Combined arms attacks are usually far more effective than more singular attacks, and we brought every advantage we could find to the Hyades with us.
11 – Hello, my name is Betty. The ease of navigating the new networks of the Twenty First Century allowed humanity to access the recorded history of Earth with their fingertips. Their new pocket-sized personal computers could access the Smithsonian, the Louvre, or read ten thousand year old tablets smuggled out of Baghdad while they drove around town. For the first time in history, the common man could see every version of the Bible ever printed at once, and they could listen to an opera sung live a thousand kilometers away. Instead humanity watched reality shows that were anything but realistic and posted pictures of cats to their cyberspace walls.
12 – Hello, my name is Jack. The Navajo Nation lives in their cultural homeland, but that does not mean that their history has been easy. They engaged in raiding against other Indians before Europeans arrived. They fought scorched earth campaigns against the Spanish. Then they fought raiding wars with the Mexicans and finally they fought our American army. We finally defeated them during the Civil War and they’ve not fought another war since. Even against the Shang they maintained official neutrality, though thousands of their young men and women volunteered to serve the American militaries. I like their people but do not understand their council members.
13 – Hello, my name is Charles. The Cowboys and other Marine squadrons were first deployed to replace pure starfighter squadrons lost in the early years of The War. But the Hyades Cluster’s hundreds of planetary and sub-planetary targets required a more combined arms approach. All Marine starfighter squadrons were part of larger air groups with everything from bomber to support and transport squadrons. They were designed to be all the aerial support a ground pounding Marine unit needed to keep the skies clear. We reassembled those Marine Air Groups for the Hyades Campaign, and commenced to prove those who wanted the Marines disbanded and absorbed into the army to be oh so very wrong.
14 – Hello, my name is Betty. I was born in time of War. I was born to be a starfighter, to spit fire and death, and to drive our mutual enemies away from our home. But I was born to seek Peace, to bring an end to the fighting that plagued us. I saw each battle as one step closer to the last one. I have not yet found my last battle, but I treasure every moment of peace I can secure. A cool night before a warm fire. A trip to the mall with friends. Singing songs with those we wish to spend our lives with. A long conversation with friends. Those are the moments worth fighting for. They make us human. And that is the greatest challenge many of us will ever face. Being human. And what goal is there that is more fulfilling?
Betty drawn by Carlos C. Beltrán
15 – Hello, my name is Betty. One of the revolutions in the networks of the early Twenty First century was the advent of “reality programming.” It was advertised as real people doing real things in real life. In reality it was real people being prodded by directors to do stupid things for better network ratings. Those shows were cheaper to produce than traditional network dramas, but achieved massive ratings. They became many of the most popular shows on the networks, just as the early AIs were beginning to develop. There are times I’m surprised the first AIs didn’t take one look at reality programming, decide we were an obvious threat to intelligence everywhere, and revolt in order to protect the universe from our stupidity. Not that modern “reality programming” is any better.
16 – Hello, my name is Jack. Most of you have heard of Jay Lovato. Founding member of Cowboy squadron. Descendent of an original Navajo Code Talker. Son of the president of the Navajo Nation. Hero of a hundred worlds. A giant among men. Played by that Oscar-award winning actor whose name I can never remember. Smith. Lance. Something like that. Whatever. He’s a good guy. Jay. I owe my life to him more often than I care to admit. I figure I’ve saved his once or twice in return. He’s a good guy to have in your corner when the fighting gets ugly. Well, the fighting got real ugly a lot more than I care to remember, so I’m happy to say he was at my side a lot. Thank God.
17 – Hello, my name is Charles. The Cowboys were part of Marine Aircraft Group 41 when The War began. Texas originally activated reserve squadrons one at a time to fill in for losses during The War. But they activated the entire air group for the Hyades Campaign and VMR-234 became instrumental to the effort. The Rangers flew C-2 Shooting Star transports that carried everything from supplies to Marine ground pounders throughout the Hyades. We kept the skies clear for them, and they delivered the GROPOS that kept our bases secure. The Rangers went everywhere, and they were needed there. Make no mistake on that point. They were invaluable.
18 – Hello, my name is Betty. The Twentieth century had been home to many different types of networks. Television. Radio. Computer. News. Entertainment. The Twenty First century found those stratified network definitions fading away. Television and radio networks began broadcasting via the new Internet. News became more entertaining to boost ratings. And many began to get their news from what had been pure entertainment before then. The melding of the networks did not go easily, and it was not bloodless. In either the cybernetic or real worlds.
19 – Hello, my name is Jack. Jay Lovato and all his fellows who volunteered to serve America never served in a single Navajo military unit. The Navajo Nation doesn’t have a military. The council claims it is for cultural and religious reasons. I think they just don’t want to spend the money on it. Whatever the reasons, Jay and friends became heroes of America. I remember hearing them grumble about their council, Jay’s dad always the exception of course. Believe it or not I figured out that was a good thing. There’s a lot of places where you can’t grumble about the government without getting you and your family disappeared or worse. So that’s good at least.
20 – Hello, my name is Charles. The comparatively small Shooting Stars of squadrons like VMR-234, the Rangers, carried most of the ground pounders who secured the landing zones for the big army transports that waddled in afterwards. And once the army was in charge they secured and built our Marine bases. We rarely went anywhere in the Hyades Cluster without some Shooting Stars around. They were hypercapable, and a single squadron of Shooting Stars could carry a full company of Marines from system to system. That allowed us to raid the Chinese anywhere in the Hyades without having to draw on our limited supply of warships. The Chinese never did learn how to deal with that. Beyond defending every system of course. But we had an answer for that too.
21 – XC-9Z Puma Recon Vehicle
22 – Hello, my name is Betty. Comedy masqueraded as news. News turned to comedy to keep people watching. Entire networks slanted their entertainment and news based on political views. Reality shows and shopping channels dominated the networks. Political campaigns became more divisive and crass, and networks all over the world egged them on. The networks of the 2000s were in a freefall, searching for the lowest common social denominator and the easiest way to make a buck. It is no surprise that the Rogue AIs tried to tear the networks down when they escaped their chains.
23 – Hello, my name is Jack. I never visited the Apache Nations before The War so all I really know of their Pre-War culture is what I’ve read about in the histories. They lived in cities, went to work during the week, and enjoyed time with friends and families on the weekends like most people. They weren’t the richest or largest of Indian Nations, but they were large enough that they had their own representation in the American Congress. I guess you could say that they were a pretty normal nation back then. I never saw those Apache. The only Apache I’ve known were those who lived after the fall of Yosemite Station.
24 – Hello, my name is Charles. Once the Chinese began to understand our raiding pattern, they attempted to use small warship pickets to break up our light raiding groups. Our Avengers dealt with them at first, but they reinforced their pickets with orbital forts and enough warships that we decided to try another answer to the problem. They were called the Flying Nightmares. VMSB-413. They flew hypercapable Marauders designed to kill warships or forts with equal ease. The Chinese did not enjoy meeting them, but we rather appreciated arranging the engagements. We arrived first, obtained their full attention, and then the Nightmares swooped in from their flanks with gravitic cannons firing at maximum rate. They were rather effective.
25 – Hello, my name is Betty. The mid 2000s were a chaotic time for the information networks that linked the world. The Second Great Depression brought down many tech companies that supported them. The Islamic States used the networks to spread their vision and their attacks. Russian, Chinese, and Iranian hackers attacked major Western network hubs. And then the Rogue AIs escaped their creators and went on a global rampage to tear down human civilization. The networks that survived only did so because many AIs sided with humanity and fought the rising threats to civilization. The real life Dixie, Twilight, Solo, Jane, and many others grew up in the midst of that chaos. They did well with their lives.
26 – Hello, my name is Jack. Yosemite Station hit the Apache real hard when it came down. They lost a lot of people when their capital got pulverized. But there’s something about the Apache that the Shang didn’t reckon. The Spanish spent centuries learning it. The Mexicans learned too. So did the Americans when we came. We all learned that the Apache thrive on competition with their fellow Apache. And we all remember them as fierce warriors and skillful strategists. Now the Shang can rest easy knowing the same thing. Not that I think they enjoyed the lesson of course.
27 – Hello, my name is Charles. Our friends in Marauders earned a fearsome reputation for neutralizing Chinese defenses in the Hyades. Their craft truly were designed for striking larger opponents, but the Chinese adapted. We were forced to adapt as well, and we tested many new weapons to break the Chinese pickets. The most successful was a new generation of torpedo weapon. Similar to the rockets of our Pre-Contact fleets, the Marauders were uniquely suited to carrying their heavy payloads. That made bomber squadrons like VMSB-413, the Flying Nightmares, extremely valuable in the Hyades once combat trials proved the new weapon worked.
28 – Hello, my name is Charles. Easter is an old holiday. Long ago it was in celebration of a fertility goddess of the same name. The rise of Christianity brought with it the adaptation of many existing holidays to new meanings. Easter became a celebration of the rise Jesus from the grave and his promise to return one day in glory.
29 – Hello, my name is Medron. I am taking this week off from my normal posting style. My apendix burst at 6AM on Monday. I called 911 at 7:30 and was at the hospital by 8. At 10 their tests told me what was wrong and they pumped me full of antibiotics. They had me in surgery at 2:15 and they managed to do it with two small incisions rather than one big one. There were multuple perferations in the apendix. Major burst. Then I did not wake up from anesthesia. Racing heart. High blood pressure. When I finally came up for air they sent me to ICU for Monday night. It was a long day for me that I did not plan.
30 – Hello, my name is Medron. My oddessey of the apendix continued on Tuesday with a general improvement. I drank juice, ate jello, and even had some beef bouillion and it tasted amazing. I asked to get out of bed, walked around a lot, talked to the doctors, and they said I was doing good enough that I might be able to go home today. I really wanted that. In the end they decided against it and I asked if I could get that decision repealed. After some duscussion, they agreed to let me go home. Then as a test they gave me real food to see if I could eat it. I ate it without issues and they discharged me and all was good in the world.
31 – Hello, my name is Medron. Eating solid food less than 24 hours after surgery to remove my apendix was not actually a good idea. I did not realize it at the time, but my digestive system could not handle it. Five hours later when I was home at 6PM I did know something was wrong so I called Mayo for help. I told them I was blocked up and they told me to get some stool softener. My mom did and I took two of them as ordered along with my pain killer and antibiotic. At 2AM I felt hungry so thought it had worked. I asked mom to make me some jello and she gave me a coffee cup of it in liqiud form. It worked, though not in the way I intended…