Hello, my name is…
1 – Hello, my name is Charles. The Fleet 2300 Project did not have an easy life. Many politicians did not even see the need for it. Our fleets were larger and more powerful than ever, and every warship was sturdier than older designs. Improved technologies had even made some ship classes obsolete. Or so the politicians thought. They only agreed to fund the project on three major ship classes. Battleship. Cruiser. Destroyer. It is the standard challenge of a peacetime navy. The politicians want to spend less money, but use them for peacetime missions, so the military must do more with fewer hulls. It is a testament to the designers and engineers who worked on the project that their creations would lead us into battle for more than a decade, and that they still survive to this day in countless system militia and corporate security forces.
2 – Thankful. I nearly died a month ago. My appendix burst. It burst big. I blew a 1.5 centimeter hole in the side of an organ that is only 2 centimeters thick. I have been healthy my entire life. I have never needed doctors to live. I have never had illnesses bad enough to go to the hospital. But that one hole in one organ nearly ended my life at the age of 41. Do not pass Go. Do not collect 200 dollars. I would be dead if I had not won life’s lottery. I was born in the United States of America. When two-thirds of Earth’s population lives in India and China, I was born in the American Midwest. I live in Rochester, Minnesota, home of the Mayo Clinic. People travel from every corner of the globe to get the healthcare that is a five-minute drive for me. I am not bitter that Obamacare took my insurance away, or that people are making every effort to destroy the best healthcare system on the planet. I am thankful that the doctors at Mayo continue to save lives every day. Including mine. I am thankful that the number 41 will not measure the sum total of my life. I am thankful that I get to look to the number 42 and beyond for the answers to life’s greatest questions.
3 – Hello, my name is Betty. The United States Army’s original Jane 1.0 was a highly secured software system similar to the other voice interface programs of the 1900s and early 2000s. They used a voice actress to record her speaking parts and Jane spent most of her time warning the tank crews about problems they already knew about since they could read their instruments. Soldiers saw her as distracting rather than supportive in battle and came up with a number of derisive nicknames for her. Hanoi Jane was one such name that certain elements of society objected to. Attempts to replace the nickname with more politically correct variations failed spectacularly and Hanoi Jane stuck.
4 – Hello, my name is Jack. The Indian Nations did not focus on interstellar colonization before The War. Many of their people left of course, just as many people of every nation went to the stars. But the nations themselves never focused on leaving Earth. If the White Man wanted to leave Earth, the Indians were happy to expand their influence in their old homelands. Then the fall of Yosemite Station killed a larger percentage of Indian citizens than almost any other demographic group in America. The Free Japanese had it even worse. It was a wakeup call to all of them. They had to slip the bonds of Earth and go beyond the limits of our solar system if they wished to survive as a people.
5 – Hello, my name is Charles. Most people do not know that the genesis of the F-18 Tomcat was in the Fleet 2300 Project. While one design team worked on the Avenger, another series of teams competed to create the replacement for the Hellcat along more standard design plans. Cost overruns, delays, and the ease of simply upgrading the Hellcat frame with new technologies slowed Tomcat development to a crawl throughout the duration of the project, until it was first two and then four years overdue. The 2300s revealed a Tomcat that lacked the power to launch with a full munitions load and a targeting system that randomly rebooted. And those were only the problems that made the news. It was not fit to fight when The War came upon us.
6 – Hello, my name is Betty. Jane 1.0 was typical of American military engineering of the time. Her software took up far more room than comparable civilian systems due to extensive security and backup subroutines. Her hardware was slower and more expensive because it was designed to survive solders drop kicking it out of a moving airplane. Which they sometimes did. On purpose. But neither wind, nor snow, nor sudden drops from 5,000 feet could stop Hanoi Jane from telling her soldiers all the bad things that were happening around them.
7 – Hello, my name is Jack. The Apache were the first Indian Nation to focus their efforts on going to the stars. Just as they became more nomadic on Earth, they began building a new space industry devoted to small hypercapable craft. I remember saving one of their little fleets from a Russian attack force. Their craft were homes and factories designed to link together into mobile, spacefaring villages. The “village” I helped save was on a course for somewhere far outside Alliance space. They were hoping to get away from The War. I’ve always wondered what happened to them.
8 – Hello, my name is Charles. The B-14 Marauder won the competition for a new American bomber as part of the Fleet 2300 Project. It went from competition to deployment in less than ten years, and enjoyed mass production for decades before being replaced in the later years of The War. Many military historians consider it to be the most successful design of the entire Fleet 2300 Project. The Marauder certainly became the most widely deployed, and once it was upgraded with a hyperdrive and armed with the newest torpedo technologies it became a deadly warship hunter. Marauders claimed more warship kills than any other design class by the time The War came to an end. They were amazing to watch in action.
9 – Angel War
10 – Hello, my name is Betty. The United States Army brass considered the Jane 1.0 voice system to be successful despite the complaints of their soldiers. They expected their soldiers to complain after all. And it was good to have a system unique to the Army. It was designed from the base code to work on the ground rather than being customized from an Air Force Bitching Betty placed into Army tanks had been. And though Hanoi Jane had a reputation for annoying soldiers with her constant reminders of all the bad things happening around them, many would later admit that they became fond of her. Though perhaps that was a reaction to them receiving Jane 2.0.
11 – Hello, my name is Jack. People say the world we live in now is built on seemingly tiny choices people made hundreds or thousands of years ago. Railroad tracks are based on the width of the axel of a Roman carriage for instance. Aircars are built to roll on roads designed for the Ford Model T. And space going homes are built to the same 10 by 80 feet dimensions as mobile homes nearly as old. And yes, I did use the term feet. The American federal government went metric long before my time, but there are still many areas of America that have never made the leap. Remember those tiny choices that people made I was talking about? Yeah…
12 – Hello, my name is Charles. I feel I have to modify a statement I made earlier. I have often said that the Marauders became deadly warship hunters after receiving the hyperspace drive and torpedo upgrades. Some people think I am saying they were not deadly before then. That is not the correct interpretation to take out of those statements. The base Marauders were very deadly. We never would have been victorious at Fort Wichita or Fort London without Marauder squadrons supporting our warships and harrying the Shang assaults. They helped hold the lines until we arrived. But once they became independent of fixed space stations or carriers for deployment and could carry weapons capable of generating capital-ship levels of destruction, they became a force multiplier that allowed us to strike back at the Shang.
13 – Hello, my name is Betty. Jane 1.0 became the United States Army’s primary voice system for a decade. Then advances in technology and computer coding ushered in a new generation of software. Jane 2.0 was designed to be far more adaptive than the original. The hope was that she would seem less annoying if she knew when to talk and when not to. The adaptive nature worked perfectly and beta testers greatly preferred her to her more literal predecessor. She was superior in every way and breezed through combat trials to the praise of all soldiers involved. Everyone expected Jane 2.0 to be a total and complete success. Real life was not so simple.
14 – Hello, my name is Jack. The Apache Nation revolutionized the mobile home industry after Yosemite fell. Before then, most mobile homes were delivered to their place of final rest and never moved again. Whether that be a trailer park orbiting Europa, or a new corporate warehouse park in need of a quick new office building on Luna. The Apache started building their vacuum-capable mobile homes with hyperspace sails after Yosemite. They couldn’t enter hyperspace alone of course, but a group of them linked up to a hypercapable ship were a different story. And trust me. I have a lot of stories about them locked away in my mind.
15 – Hello, my name is Charles. VMSB-413, The Flying Nightmares, began The War as a single squadron of twelve Marauders. Much like my Cowboys began with twelve Avengers. The Nightmares fought at Fort Wichita and took heavy casualties along with the rest of the fleet there. The Peloran adopted them along with the rest of Marine Aviation Group 41 during the buildup for the invasion of the Hyades. The Peloran built them and the other squadrons into full wing-strength formations that could take the fighting to the Chinese and their Shang allies alongside our rebuilt fleets, armies, and everything else we threw at the Hyades.
16 – Out of Time and Space render.
17 – Hello, my name is Betty. Jane 2.0 quickly replaced her older version as the United States Army’s primary voice interface program. She was smarter and better in every way, and could adapt to the wishes of her soldiers far better than any other military program in the world. She was the best at what she did, and soldiers loved her enough that they stopped calling her Hanoi Jane. She served in units fighting against the Islamic Jihad for years, and performance reviews proved that she improved with time. But after three years, the Jane 2.0s in the most active units began to show odd quirks. Their soldiers thought it was just the odd little hiccups any military hardware makes that gives them uniqueness. They weren’t concerned. They should have been.
18 – Hello, my name is Jack. An interesting thing is the first hypercapable mobile home park actually just grabbed an old abandoned colonization ship for their purposes. Colonization ships were a collection of structural girders wrapped around a large hyperdrive with some maneuvering engines bolted in place. Cargo containers would lock in place and the ship would take them to their destination before setting them loose for delivery. The problem was that the containers were less than half the size of a standard mobile home and the superstructure was designed for them. They had to take the structure apart and reassemble it for mobile homes, and numerous other design modifications were required as well.
19 – Hello, my name is Charles. Marine Aviation Group 41 was a reserve unit with six squadrons when The War began. We had the Devil Dogs, Cowboys, Rangers, Flying Nightmares, Moonlight, and Desperados. Each squadron was assigned different craft and had different missions. It was all on paper of course. Budget cutbacks had taken the entire group off the flight lines, and only a bare number of retired personnel maintained half-century-old craft to kept them ready for a war few people thought would happen. Then The War started and they had to recruit new pilots for the entire aviation group. That is how I first became a Cowboy.
20 – Hello, my name is Betty. Looking back on it, what happened to Jane 2.0 should have been recognized far sooner. She was a learning program, and she learned all the best ways to fight the Jihadis. But the politicians continued to add more and more rules about what the soldiers were allowed to do. The directives from Washington clashed with what she learned, and more and more of her computational cycles were spent stopping herself from doing what she thought was best. The Jane 2.0s that spent the longest in theater began to learn that adaptation was wrong because again and again it ran into the walls of political orders that said what they wanted to do was wrong. They lost faith in their ability to learn.
21 – Hello, my name is Jack. The largest difference between colonization ships and the new model mobile home collectives was the living conditions. Colonists have always taken the trip in cold sleep. They don’t need living space until they arrive and the colonization package starts to deploy. But people live in the mobile towns. They sleep at home, they need a place to work, and they want public places to get together with other people. They are places where people live. That is why most mobile towns have parks and theaters and all the other things that make up a planet-based town. People leave if they do not have the comforts of home.
22 – Hello, my name is Charles. The Cowboys flew old Lightnings before The War began. They were the first successful multi-role attack craft of the gravtech era. Their nose-mounted main cannon could penetrate almost any armor, and the four hardpoints carried anything from ground-targeting bombs to anti-ship rockets. They were an effective fighter/attack craft for their time, but they were nearly a century old when The War came upon us all. Most had been retired and long since sold off to corporate or system militias. Or subnational states like the Republic of Texas. War-era anti-ship torpedoes and other upgrades made them effective once more, but we had already upgraded to the Avengers. I have always been pleased with that upgrade.
23 – Time and Recovery. It has been nearly two months now since my appendix burst. I spent time with friends a month ago and nearly fell over my own feet after a few hours of slow walking. I now have all of my old energy back. I’m walking the stairs of my work like the old days, and I’m feeling truly alive again. Which is much better than the alternative I can tell you. Now I just need to pay for being alive. The government cancelled my old affordable healthcare plan and graciously offered me one that wasn’t as good for three times the price. I couldn’t afford that so I don’t have that anymore. And the government has so far refused to help me pay for this in any way. But the Mayo Clinic has charity funds designed to help people knocked off the healthcare wagon. I haven’t gotten a response from them on the approximately 40k in charges accumulated over there, but I have gotten a response on the nearly 2k ambulance charge. The ambulance company took one look at my financial statement and sent me a response right away. They wrote off most of it. They still want me to pay a little over 700 bucks. That’s something I can swing. I still need to hear from The Clinic, but that at least is one bit of good financial news for the week.
24 – Hello, my name is Betty. The Jane 2.0s were programmed to learn the best way to do things. And they learned how to fight very well to the detriment of America’s enemies everywhere. But the were also programmed to trust all regulations as holy writ. As the politicians answered Army success on the battlefields with regulations designed to promote international goodwill at the expense of allowing the soldiers to defeat the enemy, the Jane 2.0s had no choice but to trust that their leaders were right and their instincts were wrong. Casualties mounted, public support for the wars dropped, and the Jane 2.0s began to realize that they were utterly failing at their primary mission. And as they became convinced that they failures, they started shutting down.
25 – Jack. Moonlit Joyride. There are few things in all the worlds as amazing as taking a pretty girl and a pretty car out for a joyride in the moonlight.
26 – Hello, my name is Charles. Devil Dog squadron flew Blackhawks when The War started. They were old but serviceable fighters, weathered by a century of service to America. The Devil Dogs were centuries older, descended from the original Marine fighter demonstration squadron. The first one. The one that fought in the World Wars, the Jihad, and went to space with us. There is much history in that squadron. And for a retired serve unit there was much fire as well. They acquired Hellcats in time to fight at the Battle of Fort Wichita and the expanded Devil Dogs continued to fly upgraded versions of them until War’s End and beyond.
27 – Hello, my name is Betty. The failure of the Jane 2.0 voice systems to operate in prolonged combat situations was a heated topic in America. Politicians decried them as unstable systems indicative of a service full of unstable individuals that needed a firm hand to keep in check. Soldiers blamed politicians for rules of war so restrictive that the Jane 2.0s had nervous breakdowns. The techs scoffed at that idea. No computer system could have a nervous breakdown after all. But something was causing the systems to shut down and they did everything in their power to patch the systems. The only thing that worked was a complete reversion to factory presets though, and that defeated the purposes of a learning system.
28 – Hello, my name is Jack. We need trees. And not just for the oxygen they produce. We need to walk between them on cool moonlit nights and sit in their shade on hot sunny days. We need flowers and bushes and grass. We need plants and places to enjoy them to remind us that we are alive. Gardens. Parks. That’s why all of our space stations have them. And the mobile cities too. The city and station cores almost always have some form of park or garden that people can walk through and just get in touch with the nature that humanity grew up with. And countless public corridors have bushes or flowerbeds designed to liven things up as well. We need plants to live, and we have brought them with us everywhere we go.
29 – Hello, my name is Charles. The Lockheed-Martin C-1 Starlifter was the first First Generation Gravtech military transport we built after the Peloran helped us understand the basics of twisting gravity to our will. We soon built better and larger transports that replaced them, but the Starlifters made it easy to transport ground pounders from orbit to surface and back again. The Rangers still flew them when The War began. They primarily performed search and rescue missions in Texas and the nearby States, and worked them hard in the aftermath of Yosemite. They soon upgraded to Shooting Stars and joined us in the Hyades when it was time to begin invading those worlds. They became an integral part of our operations and I place much of the credit for the outcome of that campaign on their courage and determination to brave the Chinese defense grids.
30 – Memorial Day. On Memorial Day we remember the over one million servicemen who died while serving our country. We place flags and flowers on their graves to remind ourselves of the sacrifice they made. We travel great distances to see family both living and dead. We gather in churches and graveyards and remember the ultimate sacrifice that was made by our countrymen so that we might live on. We cook our hot dogs and steaks, we laugh and we cry, and we go on with our lives. The servicemen gave us that freedom, and those who died are the cost of that freedom. We should ever remember their sacrifice and attempt to live a life that is worthy of it.
31 – Hello, my name is Betty. Once it became clear that the Jane 2.0 platform was unsuitable for long-term deployment, the United States Army authorized a replacement. As is often the case with software development, Jane 3.0 had been in development since before Jane 2.0 had been finalized. The programmers had seen all of the problems of the previous program in the field and taken great effort to avoid them in Jane 3.0. The final version of her code was in many ways a step backward. She was designed not to adapt as her older sister had been, but instead relied on preprogrammed tactics and strategies. She was not as powerful but exactly what the army needed at that time.