[NO LONGER UPDATING] Ceres's Chaos: A Tragic Space Opera
"Not a very important aspect to train, but I'll have to include that into my training plan as well," Ceres thought as he finally rejoined the tour group to leave the compulsory section.
The next compulsory section was the history of the Strathon System, which Ceres also basically skimmed the rest of it, only learning what was necessary. Who cares about planets and moons he would maybe travel to in the distant future?
He was more engrossed in his newfound training method of Glucose Rush that involved him listening to an audio clip of the best insults in the Loeric Empire at the same time.
All he needed to know right now was that Athen was essentially a mining focused planet, but still had its own limited autonomy, concentrated in the only city of the planet which he was living in right now.
He was looking forward to being able to go see the other optional sections, and when he finally had a chance to ditch the tour group, he walked briskly over to a section that was brimming with printed models of starships and even a full-scale model of a small destroyer that you could walk through.
The section was detailing the technological development of starships in the Loeric Empire. He had been hooked onto starships recently, especially after seeing that full-scale imperial patrol boat simulator in the Gladius’ hangar bay.
Starships were the main bulk of the fighting forces of the Loeric Empire, and for most of the human star nations.
Despite the limitations placed by the Council on the amount of weaponry that a certain class starship could have, most starships of a higher class could generally level an entire city if they wanted to.
Of course, that usually amounted to a war crime, but the Council didn't enforce it too much, considering such acts of violence as human nature unless it went overboard in terms of ecological devastation, in which case they will intervene with extreme prejudice.
In some cases, they were known to wipe out entire star nations for major transgressions against humanity unilaterally.
This intervention slowly shaped human aggression to be more lenient towards one another, though not so much against alien races.
No conqueror wanted to earn the ire of the Council!
This made D Class States, who were limited in terms of range of materials and population to focus more on medium sized to small starships, such as patrol boats, corvettes, and frigates, with a few dashes of destroyers.
As the strength and resources available to the state increased, so would the size of the starships increase.
The hallmark of a strong state was either how large or numerous were the starships they could field, which could be a combination such as a large-sized ship bordering on juggernaut levels that could deploy multiple smaller starships in the dozens to neighbouring star systems.
Despite the logical conclusion that a juggernaut ship would not be able to exert power efficiently compared to a thousand frigates across multiple star systems, it was still sometimes a great symbol of power and authority, acting as a critical mobile fortress in battles that took place far from the star nation.
Ceres was captivated by the exhibits shown here, as he himself was open to the idea of working aboard one of these starships too, whether large or small.
He walked through the corvette that was about just three hundred meters long, thirty meters wide and tall. Walking around the bridge exhibit, he imagined himself as the captain of a fifty-men crew, exploring the wider galaxy.
The starship naturally led into Ceres' potentially most favourite section, exosuits! Any spacefaring crewmember had to usually wear a space-rated exosuit at all times, and they were generally military exosuits with nerval plugs.
Humanity used to wear basic vacuum-resistant space suits, but as exosuits became more and more popular and cheaper to both manufacture and repair with standardized components, the majority of military personnel were required to wear different types of specialized exosuits, augmenting their roles and capability on a ship.
This also drastically reduced the amount of crew needed on each starship, allowing for better efficient allocation of human resources. It was said that there were humans who could run entire starships on their own, their NEIR level considered to be legendary. “They must be at least above 3 NEIR!”
Ceres main fascination laid with the epitome of exosuits, the mechsuit! Instead of fitting a suit to the size of the human, humanity instead decided to build a suit around a pilot that extended into large dimensions, being at least twenty-five meters tall.
Designing such giant mechsuits led into a whole other realm of technological development that went against previous ancient space doctrine of fighting with large amounts of sleek fighters and drones.
But the adaptability of the mechsuit has been causing a slow decline on emphasis with ordinary starfighters, since mechsuits were both more mobile, could cause devasting damage through large capital ships by boarding action and a more versatile weapons platform overall.
Right now in the Loeric Empire, both were fielded, though starfighters were still cheaper and easier for the normal soldier to pilot compared to a mechsuit.
Starfighters were cheaper and had less requirements on nerval ratings, only requiring a basic 0.65 NIER, which almost every human had naturally. Mech suits required a minimum of 2 NIER but filled an essential gap between a starfighter and the patrol boat class, which was the smallest class starship.
Mech suits ability to construct and lift objects on its own also proved a huge advantage over starfighters who generally could not land and dig a trench.
Trying to build a starfighter to the same weapon specification of a mechsuit would require resources similar to a patrol boat and multiple crew members to keep the same low requirement on nerval ratings, but then at that point it was better to just make a patrol boat directly.
Mechsuit pilots were generally well respected in the Loeric Empire, but the main bulk of the devasting force were still medium-sized starships which could blow away low-level mechsuits easily.
Certain advanced states were already proclaiming that mechsuits would eventually replace even a fleet carrier, but that wasn't an imminent probability here in a D-class state.
Ceres has never worked on a mechsuit before as his short-term goal of winning the graduation competition was solely focused on exosuits.
He knew Uncle Dawn used to work on mechsuits as well and taught him about the models that he worked with, but it was only in the museum where he actually got to see some of the actual decommission models of mechsuits.
They were vastly bigger and larger than the one he saw in the Gladius.
"Step by step, Ceres. If you win the competition, you can choose to do any of this! “Ceres grinned to himself as he stared at the towering model of an old-gen ranged mechsuit, imagining himself in it searching alien ruins in an fantastic treasure hunt within the Beyond.
Ceres eventually made his way towards Erik and Braton, who were at the exosuit section.
“Hey Ceres, check this out, they made autonomous exosuits in Athen!” Erik pointed at an Athen Defender exosuit that had its frame left open to prove that no one was inside, yet it was moving wirelessly!
It was performing basic movement actions up on a stage, while a large crowd of students watched in awe.
“I thought humanity largely gave up on artificial intelligence of this level since the Alpha Uprising.” Ceres remarked.
Humanity had a few bad runs with artificial intelligence and full robots in general, though Ceres did not know too much about it.
The Council too restricted every human’s star nation advancement in artificial intelligence, citing the multiple failures and devastating collapses of societies who had let AI run rampant and take over almost everything in the past thousand years.
“Well I guess the enforcers think they are better than the previous generation of humans then.” Erik replied, while an older man dressed in a formal suit walked up to the stage, no doubt being the main presenter of this exhibit.
“Here you see the evolution of the enforcer unit in the future. With criminal activity continuing to rise in Athen, especially beyond the city, autonomous exosuits with limited autonomy can help to stop crime and increase the effectiveness of our current officers.”
“This project is still a preliminary concept, but it’s to provide you kids with a better, safer environment in the future. With this, we will no longer suffer loss of human life when fighting with criminals from the Beyond, and be fully prepared if a raid by the slovesa occurs here as well.”
A light round of applause came, largely from the inner students and teachers. The group of orphans applauded too, but with less enthusiasm.
The enforcers were not viewed in a positive light in the outer zones, especially when the enforcers were extremely biased towards inners.
Ceres, Erik and Braton walked away, heading to another exhibit while the crowd dispersed.
“I don’t think the project will ever come to fruition. The Loeric Empire doesn’t have enough resources or scientific capabilities to deploy this kind of exosuits without cost. Maybe it’s just a start-up trying to steal investment money. Either way, we’re the military so it doesn’t affect us.” Ceres mulled.
“I didn’t know crime was on the rise in Athen, we never seen anything occur in Zone 17 at all, is it worse in the other zones?” Erik asked.
“Most likely it’s because of the Gladius’ presence that Zone 17 is relatively peaceful. Aunt Fye probably wouldn’t like a crime infested zone. I highly doubt anyone wants to mess with the entire Gladius and earn the ire of all the trainees there. Maybe even the criminal groups use the Gladius as their neutral ground in order to benefit from the training.” Ceres replied.
“Shit, then aren’t we fuelling the criminal activities?”
“Brothers, I believe the criminal activities they are talking about are outside the city, which means beyond the border of New Saint, especially places like Rockhold and others. If it were inside the city, I believe the crimes actually refer to the increasing incidences of inner-outer violence. I have had a few friends from the Gladius bodybuilding club involved in such incidents.” Braton replied.
Ceres was surprised that Braton was more in-tune with society than he was, but he kept that to himself. “Yea, an inner just tried to harass me in the previous museum section. Is there something going on in the city that I don’t know? Why are all the inners out to get us now?”
“Not all of them, Ceres, you can’t generalize like this! But you’re right, I think one of the reasons is because Chad Athen is egging them on. His declaration of winning the competition is stoking the superiority of the inners.” Erik sighed.
“That doesn’t make sense, the inners have won every graduation competition since sixteen years ago, why would this year be any different?”
“Brother Ceres, sometimes people just want to feel superior and unleash their hate on those lower than them.” Braton spoke with an air of enlightenment.
Ceres agreed and decided not to continue the conversation. “There’s no point worrying about such inane stuff. All we have to do is do our best in the competition, and everything will be solved in due time. We hardly have any power to control what others do...”
A young doctor was packing his bags, getting ready to leave the apartment. Yet before he could open the door, his mother hugged him from behind.
“Don’t go! You have such a generous offer from the Seras General Hospital, yet you’re giving all of that up for a thankless job in the outer zones?! Stay here! The outers don’t deserve your help!”
“Don’t be stupid, Mom, people need me out there! And don’t worry I’ll come back once every year. You told me to help others, so I’m doing that right now! The outers are humans too!”
The young doctor brushed his mother’s hands off and left the apartment, knowing that it would be an entire year till he could see his parents and siblings again.
“Don’t lose sight, there’s no such things as outers and inners, there are only humans who need to be saved!” The young doctor told himself on repeat as he walked.
He took a looptrain all the way out, heading to the outer zone of Zone 31, which had suffered a ship crash that was quickly followed by a wildlife invasion due to the deterioration of the defense barrier!
“What citizen of the Loeric Empire would I be if I don’t help?”
When he reached the outer zone, the entire zone was still a warzone. The enforcers and military were still fighting off the wildlife that had infested the zone thanks to the ship crash. No one knew what was on that ship, but the young doctor didn’t care.
His job was to save lives!
“Thank you for coming, we’re desperately short-handed. Head to tent K, you’ll be the primary doctor on-call for all the patients going through that tent.” The clerk gave him directions, to which he hastily followed.
Every minute he wasted dawdling was one more potential life gone.
The tent was more of a makeshift shelter than a single person camping tent – having over 500 beds within. “Wait, I’m the only doctor here?” The young doctor remarked, while one of the nurses ran up to him, his face showing signs of overwork and exhaustion.
The lacklustre expression on the nurse’s face revealed a complete lack of sleep and proper nutrition.
“Thank goodness, the last doctor fainted on us and we found out he forged his credentials, so you’re going to be our main doctor. How good are you at amputation? Actually never mind, follow me immediately. It doesn’t matter now if you’re good or not.” The nurse started walking off, motioning towards the young doctor to follow him.
The young doctor was still stunned by the sight within the tent. Hundreds of incapacitated patients, both enforcers and outers alike, suffered together in the tent, the moans and sniffling forming a cacophony of despair. It felt as though he had entered a realm of pure suffering.
The scariest part of the tent were not the whimpering patients who suffered severe injuries, but those who had fallen silent, either having given up on hope or already dead with no one to check.
How many of these patients had already been decomposing here over the last few days?
He looked closely at one of the beds near him, noticing that the screaming enforcer on that bed still had his exosuit on, as half of it had melted and merged into the enforcer’s skin.
His helmet too was melted into his face, yet he raged against the metal chains that tied him down. “LET ME DIE!”
Next to the enforcer was an outer, who was equally in terrible shape, yet an expression of glee could be seen on what’s left of his face. “Good for you inner, go and die if you want to! It’s your fucking fault for this whole accident! I hope all you inners die and see your precious underground mancaves BURN!”
“Doctor? Doctor, follow me please. Doctor? DOCTOR?”
The young doctor finally pulled himself away from the enforcer, looking back towards the nurse.
Instead all he saw was a museum that was soon closing, while he stood next to an autonomous Athen Defender on a stage, while a museum worker was desperately trying to get his attention.
He looked down and noticed he wasn’t young anymore, and instead of the lab coat, he was wearing a formal suit.
Wasn’t he just in the tent just now, to help with the accident in Zone 31 that occurred sixteen years ago? Sixteen years ago? He looked up again to see the museum worker’s exasperated expression.
“Doctor? Doctor Wu! We’re closing the museum now, could you please stow away the exosuits?”
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