Star Force: Empire (SF58)

BOOK: Star Force: Empire (SF58)
2.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub



April 8, 2652

System (Beta



was sitting in
his office looking out the panoramic window down into the valley when the
tone sounded, bringing him out of another of his
daydreaming sessions. The Administrator spun around in his chair, seeing a
holographic prompt. He reached out to his desk and touched the button accepting
the call, with the image of another
popping up
above his wide desk.

“I just finished compiling the recent numbers,” his
counterpart from region 18 said with a light smirk on her face, “and you were

“I usually am.”

“But you weren’t right about the source,” she quickly
corrected him. “It was D flock.”

Larry frowned, his pleasure with being right now
tinged with confusion. The former Lacvamat capitol world that they were tasked
with managing pieces of had been in Star Force’s care for some time now, but
not long enough to do a thorough job of reworking the infrastructure and
civilization up to their standards. Humans still held all the important
positions, with the fleshy fliers working their way up the learning curve and
having to earn their place.

Most hadn’t cared early on until Davis had instituted
the ‘flock’ program, which was a reorganization unique to the Lacvamat. While
Star Force still had the individual advancement possibility woven into the
design, most of the Lacvamat didn’t care to act unless it favored a group,
hence they’d been given group advancements. That was atypical of Star Force but
with each race they added, whether as member, ward, or mainstay, peculiarities
had to be troubleshooted.

Technically right now the Lacvamat were a ward of the
empire, but they weren’t being treated as such. Rather they were being
reorganized and grown into what would one day be a mainstay, similar to the
Calavari or Kiritak, and in order to make them a feasible addition their race
had to be integrated into the whole…which always came with challenges.

For the Lacvamat that was double trouble because they
weren’t bipeds. Most of their movement occurred through flight, though they did
have two fairly thick, short legs they could hop around on. Those legs doubled
as hands with some precision talons on them that could grab or manipulate
controls, but designing infrastructure for such a race varied differently than
for Humans, and blending both together was far more difficult than, say,
blending the needs of the Calavari with Humans.

As far as the societal aspect was concerned the original
Lacvamat were definitely routed in a ‘group think’ that the maturias had
virtually eliminated, but without that cultural hive mind the individual
Lacvamat were lazier than most species. There were always exceptions, but on
average the fliers just weren’t cutting it, then Davis had instituted the
flocks and so far that had seemed to cure the problem.

The flocks were not made up of bloodlines, but were
rather talent pools. One had to earn their way into a flock through individual
merit, but after that point they worked together for a myriad of things short
of full autonomy. Davis had made it clear that he didn’t want the competition
factor overemphasized to the point of division, but rather to keep it friendly
and constructive.

Each Lacvamat world that Star Force now possessed was
split into regions that had unique flocks within them, each of which amounted
to as little as 200 or as many as 10,000 Lacvamat.
Every one
had a specific purpose with none being self-sufficient, but rather tasked with
a tiny piece of the overall planetary puzzle. Each region was redundant and
able to fully support itself, if not also assist others in times of need.

Larry had been having discussions with
as to how production quotas were going to fare for
years, with both Administrators being able to call outcomes before they
occurred. Recently Larry had suggested that in one of their neighboring
regions, number 13 to be precise, there was going to be a quota overage in the
production of iron ore.
had disagreed,
suggesting that they’d just barely scrape by in the six month cycle, which she
now had admitted was a mistake.

But the confusing thing to Larry was that, while he
had apparently been right about the numbers, he had been wrong as to which
flock had given region 13 the boon.

Each assignment, such as a mining operation in a given
facility, would have several flocks attached to it. Each would be working
alongside one another, some during different shifts, others simultaneously, but
never working together. The output was measured independently for each flock
and scores were assigned. In this case it was D flock that had kicked the
overall mining site production well over their expected quota, which was merely
a loose figure that the local facility was shooting for.

Flock D for this facility was the oldest flock in the
grouping and had been in ownership of the top spot for some time. They always
hit their quotas and little more, earning points for the flock that gave
upgrades to their status. Throughout Star Force
civilians were assigned luxuries based on statuses that they earned or could
purchase with credits, but those statuses were always individualized. With the
Lacvamat flocks they were not, with the entire group rising or falling with the

This ‘team’ advancement was the first for Star Force,
which valued the individual above all other concepts, but in the
case it was working to provide them the
motivation they needed. That said, D flock at the facility in question had
always been steady and reliable, doing what they needed but never going over
the top, which was why Larry didn’t understand how they could have been the
ones to push his estimates to fruition.

“What about B?”

“Just over par,” she said with some mirth.

“That makes no sense.”

“It’s certainly unusual, but with the new
flock coming in perhaps the vets wanted to lay the law

“That’s not how they think.”

“Well, whatever the reason, D came through for you and
you won this round. I just get the satisfaction of knowing it was by accident.
Any news happening on your end?”

“Same old, same old.”

“How close are you on that spaceport?”

“Still another 2 months before it goes partially
online, what with these damn aerial patterns.”

“Definitely one of the challenges of living here. Are
we still on for tomorrow?”

“I don’t know how much I’m going to be able to gloat.”

“Like I’ll miss that.”

Larry nodded. “Yes, we’re still on, and I’ll grant you
a tie on this one.”

“No, it may have been a sloppy prediction, but it
still came out to be true. Take your luck and run with it.”

“Alright, have it your way. 2 shot lead.”

“Three, actually,”
said with some dissatisfaction.

“They came in
far over quota?”

“Ye….ep,” his fellow Administrator said with some
shame as she cut the transmission, leaving Larry alone again in his office.

Curiosity got the better of him and he dug into the
planetary files to search out the production records she was referring to. They
were recent, having been filed within the past 6 hours, and showed that the
mining site in question had registered a 6 month production quota at 278%.

That blew his mind, not because he hadn’t seen numbers
like that before, but because of the location and those involved. He’d expected
the newer 2 flocks to up their game and put the lagging facility ahead on this
cycle but he had not expected so much. Since he’d taken the over on this one
the higher the number went the more credit he got for it with
on their regular ‘dates’ as he liked to think of
them, though there was nothing romantic involved. It was just a chance to spend
some time with a peer on a planet full of aliens.

Their dates were part work, part games with them
picking two or three activities to do over the course of a day while chatting.
They necessarily had to be low effort to accommodate the conversation, and the
first of which they had planned was
, in
which his prediction had earned him a bit of a head start. It was one of the
games available in an entertainment chamber, rather than a ‘real’ game that left
physics to the universe instead of computer simulation, but the luxury of being
able to pull up over 300 premade competitions inside a bland, somewhat small
room had its benefit for those that weren’t overly concerned with competition
and just wanted to play to blow off some steam or hang out.

There were other Humans here, of course, but only a
handful of administrators and Larry liked to spend time with his peers whenever
he could.
was the closest of them, being
located in the region to the north and only a short hop away by dropship or a
longer ride by train, but all of the Administrators could get to one another
without too much trouble or delay and keep some semblance of community on the
otherwise bizarre planet…one that they were attempting to convert into

Larry swiveled his chair around so he could look back
out the window. The cityscape below him was Star Force, telltale from the grid
layout and the material of the buildings, but what varied was the high,
needle-thin spires rising up from the center of the city and the mass of
buildings clinging to the far canyon wall. They were built vertically, such as
his office was on the opposite side, connected by a carpet of structures
between the two with a smattering of spires in the center.

That wasn’t typical Star Force, but it wasn’t that far
outside their normal motif. The bizarre thing about it was the aerial traffic
that had the open air within the canyon filled with the Lacvamat moving around.
Instead of taking internal lift cars or walking down hallways they flew
everywhere, making the cityscape below more of an outdoor interior than true
buildings, where the roads doubled as topless hallways.

There were enclosed structures, of course, but when
one wanted to move from point to point they came out to the roof and flew over
to the next location, meaning that all of the structures had to be thin and
accessible to the air, with none of the big, hulky city-buildings that Star
Force favored elsewhere.

Larry and the other Humans moved about conventionally,
for it was Star Force infrastructure and therefore accommodating Humans and
others with subsurface rail lines and lift cars. Not far off down the canyon,
where the exit of the river that flowed down the now artificial center met up
with a spindly little lake, there was a large plain sitting in the middle of
the otherwise varied terrain. There construction was still continuing, with the
most notable feature being a spaceport…but unlike most Star Force spaceports
this one wasn’t being constructed on the ground.

It looked like a giant mushroom rising high up into
the sky and spreading out laterally, leaving a thick central stalk supporting
it then an umbrella outstretch that allowed the Lacvamat fliers to move across
the surface beneath the starship traffic so they wouldn’t cross paths. The
Lacvamat could fly to considerable height, but Larry and the others had found
that giving them an altitude free of craft that they could move about through
without worry saved a lot of hassle…or rather it had been an Archon that had
devised that little tidbit and passed it onto them, for he was technically in
charge of the entire Lacvamat race.

But it was Administrators like Larry that held
everything together, with the planning and building of individual cities to
consider. The Archons would come in, change this or that, then leave again to
put out any procedural and societal brush fires that popped up, but it was the
Administrators that stayed in place and made sure everything progressed
smoothly, for that was their function. Sometimes what the Archons wanted was a
pain in the ass to do, but he’d never met one who had given orders just to yank
someone’s chain and there was always a reason for what they did, even if it
wasn’t immediately obvious.

But on this planet he’d been left mostly alone. It had
been the Lacvamat capitol before but, on the call of an Archon, that
designation had been stripped from it and moved to another location.
was still heavily populated, as far as the aerial
race was concerned, though the layout of the cities was very thin and almost
underpopulated compared to the Star Force norm. That was necessary, given there
was only so much sky space, and while the Lacvamat could navigate in large
groups fairly easily the Administrators had learned not to get them too packed
together, for when they all had different directions to go the ‘group think’ of
the Lacvamat kind of misfired and chaos broke out.

Get them all going in the approximate same direction
or with the same purpose and they could swarm through the air with ease, but
the somewhat regulated flight patterns of the low altitudes within the cities
defied that theme to a degree, though there were long, thick columns of fliers
all heading the same way on what looked like roads in the air from Larry’s

Little specs would split off from them and fly through
the open spaces in between, coming down or up to one of the spires or surface
buildings where they needed to go. It was those transitions especially that
caused trouble in greater numbers, but with proper city planning and population
monitoring the Star Force Lacvamat cities functioned and functioned well,
though there were always opportunities to improve.

BOOK: Star Force: Empire (SF58)
2.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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