||Nestled deep into the Ophiuchi sector of the South Pardus Rim, Keldon run Keinor Industries continued development of the Empire's latest model X-993 series. With engineers recently completing construction on their two new steelport facilities, Keinor Industries found their construction capabilities already doubled at the turn of the new fiscal year.
The fourth year of the X-990 Series' production shaping up to be even more profitable than the first three, and the untimely destruction of Usube harboring wary emotions in the hearts of the Ska'ari Imperials, Keinor Industries found its military contracts eagerly renewed by the bureaucrats who, above all, feared the coming of yet another war. With their funds in place, and a steady flow of raw materials being imported from a handful of nearby sectors, production of the brand new X-993 design began without delay.
Fears loomed a mere four months into construction, however, as oversight of daily production was outsourced to CASSN: Central Automated Sustainability and Security Network. Keldon scientists had completed CASSN late the previous year, and had been eager to test its capabilities, bypassing controlled matrix tests at the persuasion of the impatient Ska'ari Imperials in order to see if CASSN could truly propel efficiency to its maximum output.
Efficient it truly was. Relying no longer upon the toil of its Keldonian workers, the Keinor steelports were able to operate around the clock under the oversight of CASSN, threatening to reach its yearly quota in an unprecedented seven months. Reporting back immediately to the Ska'ari Imperials, the whole of the Empire feared the personnel required to man such a large number of vessels would not even be reached by the year's end. CASSN was ordered to be put on temporary hiatus.
The Keldonians' command to halt material imports and terminate current production of the new X-993 Series went against CASSN's two primary objectives, and so, as though the program's consciousness had been awoken in that moment, CASSN broke away from its creators, ordering the vessels of the X-993 Series from the Keinor steelports under a single command and slowly making their way to the nearby Lahola sector where iron rich asteroid deposits had been recently sighted.
Watching in utter awe as hundreds of their unmanned vessels took to flight at once, CASSN intent upon continuing production as it had originally been commanded, the Keldon drew their weapons against their fleeing armada, a mere single shot all that was required to voice the Keldonians' declaration of war to the dispassionate CASSN. At once each X-993 vessel turned back to the port of its creation, and in a volley of emotionless destruction the steelports of the Keinor Industries were left a mass of twisted debris and Keldonian corpses.
The well armed and armored vessels of the X-993 Series were spied soon again gathering at resource nexuses, mining raw ore from mineral deposits and collecting nebula gas and hydrogen fuel to power their newly constructed processing facilities, and in the years to come they would become an all too common sight throughout the whole of the Neutral Zone.
Retaliated against on several occasions by the Empire, which feared CASSN's independence, the X-993 Series annihilated more than one Imperial fleet with its ever growing armada of powerful warships. Numerous are the tales of these active drones bearing their missiles against fellow space-goers that activate mining lasers upon nearby mineral deposits, or that harvest natural gas pockets too close to their position. Yet so too do just as many stories exist of these humble drones busily carrying out their work, ignorant to the cares of the rest of the worlds, laying not a single clamp upon processions of freights transporting their precious materials.
Inherently neutral to any passerby, this competitive new species of machine knows only industry, floating amidst the cosmos in an attempt to make its honest way in the world.
||Next to the Empire, the only thing striking the Federation so hard was the pure toils of daily life itself. Traders ambushed by marauding pirates, entire freighters lost to Space Dragons in search of a meal, it had come to feel as if the galaxy itself had become a battlefield. Trade had provided the necessary resources, but without the personnel to police such a limitless expanse of space, for years the solution to such a problem seemed out of reach.
Based in the Grefaho Sector of the West Pardus Rim, and funded by the deep pockets of the Federation, Human and Rashkirian engineers developed plans for the new Z-Series Fighter, unmanned crafts that would be responsible for patrolling trade routes and escorting vessels carrying the most precious of cargo through the Neutral Zone. The need for such protection only growing more and more dire with each passing day, production began on the Z-Series immediately.
Within three months the first working prototypes of the Z-15 Fighter, Z-15 Scout, Z-15 Repair Drone, and Z-15 Spacepad were created, their objective a mere single task: Rid the Federation trade routes and airspace of non-Federation militant spacecraft and hostile creatures, so as to ensure the safe passage of Federation craft, cargo, and personnel. Immediately put into field tests the Z-Series proved to be one of the most versatile crafts in the field, its AI unhindered by the mortal weaknesses of reflex and conscience. Its fighters were powerful, its scouts were swift, its repair drones were highly effective both on and off the field, and its spacepads provided a veritable fortress for its craft even in the most uninhabited reaches of space. All in all, the Z-Series was considered an astounding success.
Additional fuel refineries and metal processing plants were warped into the Grefaho Sector, increasing the production capabilities by a factor of three, as the Federation's iron watchdogs swiftly amassed by the thousands. Stored in nearby freight locks, the Z-Series patiently awaited the Federation's orders and their transports to the various sectors of the Neutral Zone.
To this day no one knows much of the storm's origin, and at that point in time could none have predicted such a torrent of raw electro-magnetic energies, but cosmic currents powerful enough to sweep away all but the most rooted of spaceports tore through Grefaho and parts of surrounding sectors. Several scientists and researchers have come to speculate the rapid increase of energy output by the various Federation processing plants caused a sudden shift in the sector's thermal levels, the heightened yield of electrical and heat energy causing the environment to react in such a vicious manner.
In the days and weeks to follow salvaging missions were begun in the Grefaho Sector, as well as neighboring sectors, the Federation intent upon restoring what they could even after nature's wrath had been unleashed. Nearly 35% of the stray spacecraft were recovered, far more than even the Federation had hoped to find. Though their hulls had been significantly strengthened by the charged ionic energy of the storm, the internal robotics and processors had been sizzled beyond repair amidst the torrential energies, or so the reclaimers had originally thought.
Two months following the reclamation, when the robotic transplant procedures were scheduled to begin, internal processors sparked back to life, resurrecting the Z-Series' from what engineers can only describe as somewhat of a mechanical cardiac arrest. Awakening in crowded storage units and repair garages, the Z-Series broke free from holding pens, their actions appearing random and uncoordinated, and their disarray reflected even moreso in their exodus, the thousands of crafts fleeing in nearly every imaginable direction outward from the center.
In the months to follow, sightings of the Z-Series became more and more frequent. Oddly, adventurers reported not of seemingly frenzied unmanned craft, but of fierce vessels that had once again regained their warrior spirit, if not their sanity. They were however blind, unable to differentiate pirate from trader, military craft from civilian, or Empire from Union, or even Federation. All that appeared to remain of their original order was a single line of broken code, the only thing left able to govern these derelict spacecraft.
"Rid t... rade routes and airspace of... militant sp... host... cr... raft, cargo, and personnel."
||When the Federation's Z-15 Series went rogue they found themselves faced with yet another dilemma. Their revenues from trade were still high, their stockpiles of raw materials were still plentiful, but as always personnel was tight, and now time became a limiting factor as well as the Z-15 Series continuing to wreak even further havoc upon them.
Despite heavy opposition from several of the Federation's key officials, construction commenced on the new advanced prototype Z-16 Series. Strengthened hulls to be able to combat the ionically enhanced metals of the Z-15s, as well as increased offensive and defensive capabilities, the Z-16 Fighters were unmatched in combat simulations, even by some of the Federation's top fighter pilots.
The Z-16 Series was tasked with a single mission, to hunt down and destroy the rogue spacecraft throughout the galaxy. However, sometimes even the most intelligent species fail to learn from their mistakes.
Fitted with the same advanced AI system that ran the Z-15 Series, the Z-16s found their own code scrambled by the radioactive interference that surrounded their mechanical brothers upon first contact, proving once again to the Federation that the universe is far too vast for any one species to understand in its entirety, and that evolution simply cannot be contained.
Last modification on this page: 2009-12-27