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Life2.0 Liberation Asset Design Bureau
Technical Brief:
"Gigawatt-output Magnetoplasmadynamic Thrusters"


An MPD thruster uses a small propellant pump (the bottom being only just visible) and an electric field between the cathode (outer circle) and anode (inner spike) to accelerate ions at extremely high velocities with very small thrusts. As viewed on the display here, it is roughly one-third actual size based on CoaDE numbers when viewed on desktop.

Magnetoplasmadynamic thrusters are a traditional electric propulsion system for RCS and automated applications. The exact method of operation consists of using a powerful electromagnetic field to apply force to ionised plasma propellant, which then accelerates. The exchange of momentum then accelerates the vessel. No combustion and need for only one propellant make it safer than a chemical rocket, which is able to be a dense liquid when stored, making it smaller than the equivalent chemical rocket. Lastly, the extremely high exhaust velocities give it delta-v a chemical rocket could only dream of, making it lighter when you reduce tank size to match.

The downside however, is high electricity supply, and being needed for a long time - with very low thrusts, even short and simple movements, such as re-orientating a ship, can take up to a minute, while applications using MPDs as main engines can be hours or days of thrust. In the context of Human efforts, initial development was limited by the high electricity requirement, with early studies finding a power requirement in the hundreds of kilowatts to get useful performance out of.

Thanks to Naomi choosing to put nuclear reactors everywhere however, we can really make use of them; MSI have designs going to even greater levels thanks to their zero-point power supplies.

We have designed a one gigawatt MPD that is suitable for propelling small ships - ~ 0.5 m/s^2 at 85,000 kg - or for RCS on larger ships while being a vast improvement on chemical rocket equivalent systems.

Declaring Officer: Head Of Spaceship Propulsion, Hoggagha

Been playing around with some other CoaDE tools developing a mobile Hubble Space Telescope concept suitable for Life2.0's purposes - which are really quite extreme on delta-v; chemical rockets really do cease being useful as soon as you want to try interplanetary missions. Even nuclear thermal struggles outside Kidore's inner planets, they'd have to go pulsed or liquid reactor designs to get high enough specific impulse just to get to the other planets; Sol is theoretically doable to use chemical rockets for travelling the inner planets by contrast.

It turns out that they also work as RCS systems for Orion propelled ships, which is great, as Orion can only thrust in a straight line, for obvious reasons.

I must say I'm more sceptical of the numbers for these than I am for the numbers for Orion in CoaDE, as we simply don't know what MPDs at gigawatt throughput will cope like; we haven't even tried 0.01% of the power this thruster uses as, unlike Naomi, the powers that be in the real world are very wary about putting reactors using weapons-grade enriched uranium in space.

But it works in CoaDE, and works that much better than a conventional RCS system that I don't mind the high margin for error.
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It looks like that focus on nukes is coming in handy.
Kidore II Research Mission, Part 2 New
"Kidore II Research Mission, Part 2"
29th Qutrok, 9 (2188)

Fifteen hundred nuclear explosions later, and we arrive in low orbit.

We've launched our communication relays - four satellites to stationary orbit to handle the first four years of communications - and now we are preparing to descend to the surface.

We're bringing a lot of other useful infrastructure too - Surveying probes, spectral analysis probes, underground mapping probes, weather tracking probes... More than sixty tonnes of research satellites to help us understand our new world. The initial results are promising; Oxygen content is roughly 28% by mass of the regolith, more than enough for extracting it to work to supply an atmosphere and give metals to build with.

I've even found someone special on the trip; Lytalk. She's the head of aeroponics. Sweet, gentle, trails her voice when she gets excited... Still building up the courage.

It's amazing how nervous women make you.

I focus on the task at hand - modules are undocking from Loveboat One ready for descent to the surface. I suppose I had better go give the speech I've been working on.
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A Plan And An Apology New
"A Plan And An Apology"
30th Qutrok, 9 (2188)
Rivkah Of Unity

I've been avoiding Aunt Alex and Uncle Thando since I cut short their honeymoon. But, I can't avoid them forever. I've called for a strategic review meeting. They, and most of the rest of the colony's military and industrial leadership are here. Mum and Dad are listening to the broadcast, which as always, is going out to everyone.

Big advantage of radio; no one else uses it. Everyone else uses the Galactic Community standardised subspace transceivers. Valerius thought to check for radio broadcasts, but Gaius didn't bother. Agrippina says he explicitly overruled an officer who suggested checking based on his assumption that we'd be using the clearly superior communications gear on board the slave ship.

Mum doesn't think we'd get away with it a second time though - these days we keep it going out of social inertia.

Anyway, in front of us is the display for the plans I've been working on. Hushed whispers pass around the viewers, but no one is heckling.

I think back to the beach where Mum taught me how to speak, and take my stand. "Ladies and gentle-beings, this is what I'm proposing to do to rapidly expand our space-based infrastructure. Alexandra and Thando's test has demonstrated the ability for Orion pulsed propulsion to give us access to the the rest of the star system, and the Kyaese development project has begun unloading their mission to Kidore II. Our system, orbiting our A-type star, is vast with myriads of smaller bodies for us to expand to and build up towards the goals of defence and survival against the MSI threat."


"To push this forward, I have pushed our development team working on the production of pusher-plates and designs for the nuclear devices we are using for our propulsion systems. The Kidore II mission is only the beginning. I have been working on the calculations for the number of freighters needed to operate the logistical infrastructure to support the future expansion plans and how quickly we can assemble them, knowing that our assumption is an MSI naval assault in three years time. Our Olinbar allies have shown us the Captain's manual, which details their expectations for that fight. This imposes severe constraints - we cannot be sure that only one planet capable of producing will be enough for our civilisation to survive a full-scale assault. It does also mean opportunities - their war doctrine assumes conflict against planets and large artificial habitats. They do not anticipate large off-world populations hidden inside asteroids. We must therefore go fully into our logistics support so that we can leap to fully asteroid life."


"Mum's strategies brought us this far. We now have to think about how to win, not just survive. We need more time to establish ourselves and grow. We have had teams of people tracking every asteroid big enough to put people inside, and we have found millions big enough to fit small colonies inside. Spreading our population across thousands of asteroids in the inner belt - within our star's habitable zone - will create a military nightmare for Olinbar trying to carry out an offensive so far from home. The extra organisation time they will need is our opportunity to develop ourselves, and find allies."

I centre the display on Unity. "Unity is home. Sadly, in order to win, it has to be sacrificed. Either we exploit the world to give ourselves a fighting chance in open space, or MSI will come here and reduce it to slag. I've therefore decided that - unlike Mum, who was only willing to allow emergency combat launches of Orions from Unity surface - we have no choice but to launch all traffic possible from Unity with our best propulsion system. It is better to live free dying of cancer than to be enslaved again. Pretty much everyone in this room is older than me, and I know nearly all of you would agree with that in private. But equally, I don't want to launch the bigger designs from Unity surface. This limits us to the 12m pusher-plate design, as it's very small bombs have the least worse levels of fallout, and casualties and environmental damage can be kept to a lower level; we expect no worse casualties of a 12m launch than we do from the testing of a megaton yield test weapon."


"I'm aiming for a hundred operational pusher-plate ships by the end of the year."

Dozens of hands rise. Li is waving frantically thanks to callers on the line. But no one shouts, and it does not descend into arguments - Mum has trained them well. I look at Caeso.

He rises on his cane. "Your grandmother would have concluded the same young one. But I do find a small flaw in your logic; why do you assume that Unity has to be the launchpad where the ship's are constructed?"

"You are saying we need an orbital shipyard?"

He nods. "Absolutely."

"I discounted that. We don't have one, or, the time to build one first - our ship construction that we can use right now are planetside. And we'll need a lot more infrastructure to support it, which we'd still need to get up and running from where we are now, and resources are an issue."

He smiles. "You have the seed resources."

"True, we could bring in more asteroids to Unity, we've done it before, but..."

He shakes his head. I stop to let him continue. "No. The Flagship. That massed more than a thousand times the fleet you are proposing to build."

I see it now. "Oh. Oh yes. We could make that work, although it isn't as easy to hide as our underground construction and launch facilities." I look at Agrippina. "What was it called, the Flagship?"

"Gaius was a strong believer in the old gods. In terms of a name alongside the Galactic Community registry entry, he had it named the 'Vulcan'." She pauses. "For the god, not the Star Trek civilisation."

I have an idea. I look at Alexandra. "Aunt Alex, Mum told me all the old Roman gods had Greek names. What was the Greek name for Vulcan?"

She looks at me curiously. "Hephaistos. The god of craftsmanship, forger of the weapons of Olympos."

I smile. "Strategos Alexandra, you are hereby charged with making L2NA Hephaistos ready to build the Liberation Assets of Life2.0."

She stands, and bows. "I accept." She looks at Thando. "Coming?"

His eye sparkles. "Unity may be Rivkah's home, but you are mine."
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It's nice that Tryykad might get a relationship...

Are they completely abandoning Unity in the long run, or will some people stay on planet?

Asteroid homes, huh? That's certainly one idea. It does make them hard to totally defeat - I'll give Rivkah that.

Renaming it the Greek name of the old ship name is hilarious. So gloriously petty.
It's safe to say that they all will. Naomi considered making it a requirement in order to boost population growth, although she decided it was too great a demand.

Rivkah doesn't want to abandon Unity, and in the event MSI arrive with the navy in force they need to trick them into attacking Unity and leaving afterwards. Some people have to stay as bait to make the trick convincing.

And based on habitats constructed on real world feasible technologies, you can basically house as many people as you can feed.

It's an idea I knew had to go in. :)
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L2NA Hephaistos, Part 1 New
"L2NA Hephaistos, Part 1"
2nd Hoggagha, 9 (2188)
Thando's Wife

Caeso wasn't kidding when he said the Flagship had more mass than a thousand fleets of the ships Rivkah wanted to build; you can let go of something in here and slowly watch it drift to the middle of the ship like it's carried by a gentle breeze, which puts it on a par with decent sized asteroids. Not enough to walk with though, so we are still pushing ourselves off walls as we explore.

No reliable atmosphere too, so everyone is suited up in combat gear - we can't be sure no one survived - wearing tracking devices, radiation monitors, and everyone is in a pair buddy system on open comms, attached with tethers. Our first task is to secure the wreck, identify everything of interest, deal with those anomalies, and then we can start disassembling it.

We've got about ten thousand people doing this exploration so far; shuttle pods have been bringing people up non-stop since the meeting. Thando and I were first in.

Everything is twisted from the heat. It's been months radiating away, and now everything has re-solidified haphazardly. More like caves than corridors. A touch on my butt tells me Thando found something; there's a door, unusually with an intact seal. We both ready weapons as he runs a set of scans, then we butt heads so that we can talk and actually hear each other through our suits. Naturally, he holds my waist to pull me tighter.

"What do you think?"

"Sensors aren't sure if there's anything on the other side."

"Do we go in?"

He thinks it over. "We ought to leave it sealed, there's atmosphere we can recycle inside."

We flag the room on our navigation display for later investigation. Our third in four kilometres of misshaped corridors.

This isn't what I had in mind when Naomi told me that I could have the Flagship. But looking back, I was... Living a fantasy. But, as my husband runs his hand down from my waist as he turns us back to the corridor, I lean into his shoulder. This time it's real.

In a few weeks I'll have a hundred thousand people busy working on this ship, stripping it down, building the reprocessing and manufacturing facilities and the shipyard dry docks, the assembly drones... I tap my husband, and he takes my hand. I can just about hear him tell me he loves me. I'm glad I'm with him.
Exploring the flagship might've made a good horror movie, given fear of the unknown. What is lurking in those corridors?

Why is this chapter labelled "Thando's Wife" and not "Alexandra"?
Neumanns, Part 1 New
"Neumanns, Part 1"
2nd Hoggagha, 9 (2188)
Rivkah Of Unity

HK-47b spots me enter the residence. "Good morning, Meatbag. I presume you aren't ill? Such frail meatbags..."

I laugh. "I'm doing ok. Better than Mum. Where's the Holocron?"

He points. "Waiting for you. He's mildly irritated that no one listened to his suggestion to use the Neumann replicators, so he organised a demonstration."

Looking at the yard, I realise how busy the Holocron has been. Autonomous drones have dug a cave out the back of the house.

No, cave is the wrong word.

I'm walking down a gentle spiral descending into the depths. It's smooth, I've never seen a track this smooth before, the colony's roads are all dirt tracks made by the passage of all terrain vehicles, but this is... Something else. I peer over the railing. It's a long way down... There's buildings down there. Suddenly there's squealing and the noise of electric motors - a vehicle comes screaming around the continuous upward bend. I've never seen a ground vehicle moving so fast. Even Mum wouldn't drive that fast! I don't think the buggies even can go that fast...

Or so low. The bodywork practically touches the ground, and it looks so flimsy with the vanes and... wings? I don't know what to call them, it's unlike anything else I've seen.

Or stop so quick - the brake discs are orange as the passenger canopy swings open beside me.

It's not even half the height of a buggy, and the tyres have no tread. I watch as the seat - the seat, only a driver - adjusts geometry to accommodate me. I get in, nervously.

Scream of motors and tyres as the vehicle brakes it's front wheels while spinning the back ones around. Heart is pounding inside my chest as it sets off. I close my eyes as I'm pinned to the back of my seat. This thing out accelerates a rocket!

Breathe. Or at least try to, the scenery is a blur... I close my eyes again.

When it stops, the Holocron is waiting for me. "Good morning, Rivkah Of Unity."

I get out, slowly. I look back as the vehicle parks itself. "What is that?"

He smiles. "That is a fusion-powered racing car; a one megawatt motor in each wheel, active aerodynamics, top speed of... Well, we aren't sure. Not a long enough straight to test it. Maximum cornering acceleration enough to make you unconscious."

I work it out. There's aircraft that don't go that fast. "How is it possible?"

He waves to the city behind him. "Welcome to New Bulawayo. Let me show you around."
Exploring the flagship might've made a good horror movie, given fear of the unknown. What is lurking in those corridors?

Why is this chapter labelled "Thando's Wife" and not "Alexandra"?
Yes, but equally you guys know I'm a terrible horror writer, and your imaginations would do it a lot better justice than I could.

In some African cultures, people are called by their relationship to another person; in this case, sfter talking it over on Loveboat One, Alexandra now uses "Thando's Wife", and Thando uses "Alexandra's Husband" because she found the idea romantic.
Neumanns, part 2 New
"Neumanns, part 2”
2nd Hoggagha, 9 (2188)
Rivkah Of Unity

We're in an autonomous open top car. The city is entirely underground, but flooded with yellow light from LED lighting in the roof optimised to mimic the G2 star Sol. I've put sunglasses on because it's so bright - it never occurred to me until now that G type stars appear brighter in the sky because of the higher emissions in visible light spectra. Kidore being an A-type star mostly outputs in ultraviolet, and Unity is three times further from Kidore as Earth is from Sol, so despite being much bigger and vastly more powerful, visible light is much less.

It's weird, everything down here feels more saturated in light.

The city is beautiful; streams run down the central avenues, and it's as much a forest as it is a city. Even the pavements are actually a derivative of algae that are tough enough to be walked on. I just sit and observe.

The machines are still working. The car takes us through an area that's under construction, and there's an ecosystem of machines of so many different sizes and functions all working together:

Volumes for open spaces are mined out in bulk using laser ablative methods with excess material sucked away, while the floor to roof supporting columns are left in situ. Other machines take materials from the miners to process and extract raw materials, and other machines manufacture support structures from the processed materials, who are followed by other machines that carve the columns into buildings. The roads are made by grinders cutting and smashing the eventual road into a fine dust, followed by sintering machines that super-heat the rock using microwaves into forming a not-quite molten solid that is left to cool.

The Holocron lets me watch the process for a while. "What do you think, Rivkah?"

"It's so much more impressive than I thought it would be."

"Yes. Has Tryykad told you he saw this place?"

"No. I suppose you intend to do the same on Kidore II?"

"Exactly. These techniques were originally developed for Mars and Luna, but they were refined and perfected in the Iriphubliki."

"How many people were housed in settlements like this?"

"A hundred million Humans. Plus droids like HK-47b."

"Could these techniques work on asteroids?"

"Yes. Any body composed of rock would do."

"Ok, and how resilient against bombardment?"

"Depends on weaponry and depth underground."

"Against MSI."

"They dug the Iriphubliki out, then sent in Praetorians to fight the underground war; anyone lesser would have just been a grinder."

"That's what worries me... We need to be able to beat Praetorians. But even Valerius questions if it's possible."

"You have Vorosh."

I look carefully at him. "What do you know about her magic?"

"Very little. But, if there is anyone in the colony capable of taking them down with our present technology, my bet would be on her."

I think about what I've seen. "Yeah. She wants to train more people."

"Those zero-point reactors that the Praetorians have make them have as much power in their suits as the whole of our present civilisation Rivkah. It's only Vorosh and anyone she can train who stand a chance."

I think about it. "Yeah..." I get an idea. "What if we can shut those reactors down?"

He pauses. "In theory, yes. Have you read the technical papers on the Bobrick-Matire drive in the Archive?"

Ooh. "You mean manipulating the fabric of space to make them unable to generate energy?"

"Precisely. Without continuous energy to operate the powered armour, the thin layers of neutronium reinforcement in their suits just become dead mass. A small enough warp field and you could crush them beneath their own weight; Olinbar are not sufficiently strong to stand beneath tonnes of armour unaided."

Mum put a team on the Bobrick-Matire drive years ago, but they've yet to produce a system that works effectively enough with our power generation.

But, they have been able to warp space in the lab, limited only by power. That must be how the Caesulenus Drive actually works, a sublight solution to the warped space metric.

And I know the Olinbar intend to give us Zero Point Reactors of our own.

I'm thinking of a warp-field gun. I make a note, then look back at the Holocron. "Back to the surface - I've got to get this project started immediately."
Rivkah has got ambitions for some serious weaponry. The term "Warp Field Gun" makes me think of "Warp Ammo" from the old Mass Effect games. I doubt Rivkah will use Psionic-enhanced ammo in a fight, but it's a fun parallel to think about. :)


I've also figured out a possible way to bring the End Of The Cycle in, if the colony is willing to pay the price.
Time for some "what if" speculation, I think.
Well, these von Neumann machines look useful. I'm worried that they might (either deliberately or inadvertently) rebel. A robot war could be an issue.

I feel like ensuring the destruction of the galaxy for a temporary victory is unwise and out of character for Naomi and Rivkah. Now, if a future leader is put in a worse position than they're in... that deal could make sense.
Perhaps. But they're on the same living standards as any other member of the colony. ETA - don't forget the technology is also over a century old, and was developed by a droid liberationist who believed in cooperation between organics and droids.

True. And both sides know that. So, the End Of The Cycle makes a different offer.
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"Kidore II Kri-Kyaese-Ci Research Mission, Part 3"
8th Hoggagha, 9 (2188)

We've got the initial colony set up - Septima's Sunset. None of us have forgotten what she did to us, and we will see the sun set on her empire. Kri-Kyaese-Ci is the starting point, a rallying cry, and one day soon, a forge.

The Kyaese Live.

Just a few landed habitat modules buried in sand for now, but the Neumanns have gone to work - exploration Neumanns are trying to find the resources we need, but most of the crust in our area is silicates. We're hoping to get secondary colonies up and running where the metals are; we've found fissiles from orbital surveys about 350km south of here, and there's a rich iron deposit in the crater centre.

Us Kyaese are not a warlike people. We've never been the kind of predators that Xenaya and Humans are. We're opportunistic insectivores mostly, by nature.

But, in being among them, we learn.

Naomi has restored what Septima took away - our hope.

My father, before he was murdered, spent years afraid of MSI. He couldn't see a future that didn't mean an MSI victory. But she gave him hope, strong enough that he died instead of recanting.

And despite the bitterness I felt, she put a weapon in my hand and talked me through her plans.

Hope is a dangerous thing.

Once I had none.

Now I lead a people who have been turned from the despair and depression that left us paralysed, and we now reach out with confidence and hope.

The Kyaese Live.​
It's nice to see a species regain hope. Let's hope that it isn't false.

Naming the colony after their enemy and indicating a victory is a bold move. It's practically asking MSI to send her? to attack them.
A Confluence Of Mages New
"A Confluence Of Mages"
9th Hoggagha, 9 (2188)

I've gathered all the magically knowledged Lukhuinites together; spent weeks arranging this meeting, and waiting for people to move to our enclave.

Most of them are practicioners of Mage-Craft, as expected. Some Healers, a few Bolt-Casters, a couple of Scryers, and a really interesting man who has developed what he calls the Practice of Cybranomancy, by integrating his magical talents into machinery and computing; he has some very intriguing theories, and I'm pleased I'm not alone in exploring the potential for new magical arts with the far greater scientific understanding available to us.

What's most interesting is our pair of Scryers. They're a husband and wife, and they're telepathic with each other. They share thoughts, and dreams.

And not in the normal way either. Most Lukhuinites are familiar with the twilight clouds dream; it's considered a rite of passage. But what's different for them is that they are both active in each other's dreams; they brought me a data log from when they slept in an MRI scanner together, and the charts indicate common patterns.

And that gave me an idea - what if we tried to induce that effect in all of us?

So, for the first night while we are all gathered, we're going to try communal dreaming, and see what happens.

It's exciting research.