How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 02

How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 02

          Merlin sat very still, watching his instruments, waiting. Five more minutes crept past. Then ten. Fifteen.

          “Any response from the kinetic platforms now, Owl?”

          “Negative, Lieutenant Commander.”

          “Good. That’s good, Owl.”

          There was no response from the computer this time. Merlin hadn’t really expected one, although Owl did seem to be at least starting to develop the personality the operators’ manual promised he would . . . eventually. The AI had actually offered spontaneous responses and interpolations on a handful of occasions, although seldom to Merlin. In fact, now that he thought about it, the majority of those spontaneous responses had been directed to Empress Sharleyan, and Merlin wondered why that was. Not that he expected he’d ever find out. Even back when there’d been a Terran Federation, AIs — even Class I AIs (which Owl most emphatically was not) — had often had quirky personalities that responded better to some humans than to others.

          “Activate phase three,” he said now.

          “Activating, Lieutenant Commander.”

          This time, if Merlin had still been a flesh and blood human being, he would have held his breath as two thirds or so of the thermal signatures on his sensors began to move. Most of them moved fairly slowly, their paths marked by twists and turns, stopping and starting, turning sharply, then going straight for short distances. Several others, though, were not only larger and more powerful but moved much more rapidly and smoothly . . . almost as if they’d been on rails.

          Merlin watched the slower moving heat signatures tracing out the skeletal outlines of what could have been street grids while the larger, faster-moving ones moved steadily between the clusters of their slower brethren. Nothing else seemed to be happening, and he made himself wait for another half-hour before he spoke again.

          “Still nothing from the platforms, Owl?”

          “Negative, Lieutenant Commander.”

          “Are we picking up any signal traffic between the platforms and the Temple?”

          “Negative, Lieutenant Commander.”

          “Good.” Merlin’s one-word response was even more enthusiastic this time, and he felt himself smiling. He leaned back in the flight couch, clasping his hands behind his head, and gazed up at the moon that never looked quite right to his Earth-born memories and the starscape no Terrestrial astronomer had ever seen. “We’ll give it another hour or so,” he decided. “Tell me if you pick up anything — anything at all — from the platforms, from the Temple, or between them.”

          “Acknowledged, Lieutenant Commander.”

          “And I suppose while we’re waiting, you might as well start giving me my share of the flagged take from the SNARCs.”

          “Yes, Lieutenant Commander.”

* * * * * * * * * *

          “Well,” Merlin said, several hours later as his skimmer headed northwest across the eastern reaches of Carters Ocean towards the city of Cherayth, “I have to say, it looks promising so far, at least.”

          “You could’ve told us when you started your little test.”

Cayleb Ahrmahk, Emperor of Charis and King of Old Charis, sounded more than a little testy himself, Merlin thought with a smile. At the moment, he and Empress Sharleyan sat across a table from one another. The breakfast plates had been taken away, although Cayleb continued to nurse a cup of chocolate. Another cup sat in front of Sharleyan, but she was too busy breast-feeding their daughter, Princess Alahnah, to do anything with it at the moment. Depressingly early morning sunlight came through the frost-rimed window behind Cayleb’s chair, and Sergeant Edwyrd Seahamper stood outside the small dining chamber’s door, ensuring their privacy.

Like them, Seahamper was listening to Merlin over the invisible, transparent plug in his right ear. Unlike them, the sergeant was unable to participate in the conversation, since (also unlike them) he didn’t have any convenient sentries making sure no one was going to wander by and hear him talking to thin air.

          “I did tell you I intended to initiate the test as soon as Owl and I had the last of the EW emitters in place, Cayleb,” Merlin said now, mildly. “And if I recall, you and Sharleyan knew ‘Seijin Merlin’ was going to be ‘meditating’ for the next couple of days. In fact, that was part of the cover plan to free me up to conduct the test in the first place, unless memory fails me. And in in regard to that last observation, I might point out that my memory is no longer dependent on fallible organic components.”

          “Very funny, Merlin,” Cayleb said.

          “Oh, don’t be such a fussbudget, Cayleb!” Sharleyan scolded with a smile. “Alahnah was actually letting us sleep last night, and if Merlin was prepared to let us go on sleeping, I’m not going to complain. And frankly, dear, I don’t think any of our councilors are going to complain if you got a bit more rest last night, either. You have been a little grumpy lately.”

          Cayleb gave her a moderately betrayed look, but she only shook her head at him.

          “Go on with your report, Merlin. Please,” she said. “Before Cayleb says something else we’ll all regret, whether he does or not.”

          There was the sound of something suspiciously like a muffled laugh from the fifth and final party to their conversation.

          “I heard that, Ehdwyrd!” Cayleb said.

          “I’m sure I don’t know what you’re referring to, Your Majesty. Or, I suppose, I should say ‘Your Grace’ since you and Her Majesty are currently in Chisholm,” Ehdwyrd Howsmyn replied innocently from his study in far-off Old Charis.

          “Oh, of course you don’t.”

          “Oh, hush, Cayleb!” Sharleyan kicked him under the breakfast table. “Go on, Merlin. Quick!”

          “Your wish is my command, Your Majesty,” Merlin assured her while Cayleb rubbed his kneecap with his right hand and waved a mock-threatening fist with his left.

          “As I was saying,” Merlin continued, his tone considerably more serious than it had been, “things are looking good so far. Everything I could see on the skimmer’s sensors, and everything Owl can see using the SNARCs, looks exactly like a whole batch of steam engines either sitting in place and working or chugging around the landscape. They’ve been doing it for better than seven hours now, and so far neither the kinetic bombardment platform nor whatever the hell those energy sources under the Temple are seem to have been taking any notice at all. So if the ‘Archangels’ did set up any kind of automatic technology-killing surveillance program, it doesn’t look like simple steam engines are high enough tech to break through the filters.”

          “I almost wish we’d gotten some reaction out of them, though,” Cayleb said in a far more thoughtful tone, forgetting to glower at his beloved wife. “In a lot of ways, I would’ve been happier if the platforms had sent some kind of ‘Look, I see some steam engines!’ message to the Temple and nothing had happened. At least then I’d feel more confident that if there is some command loop to anything under the damned place, whatever the anything was, it wasn’t going to tell the platforms to kill the engines. As it is, we can’t be sure something’s not going to cause whatever the anything might be to change its mind and start issuing kill orders at a later date about something else.”

This entry was posted in Snippets, WeberSnippet. Bookmark the permalink.
Skip to top

Comments

45 Responses to How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 02

  1. So steam engines are OK. Maybe electricity is the trigger.

    Or, since the first rationalization for the platforms was to take out anything that the Gbaba could detect, maybe it’s radio.

    Or they only take orders from the Temple, and only the Wylsynns have the key to activate them, and the Group of Four is so screwed.

  2. Anthony says:

    Electromagnetic signature of some kind, Maybe sensitive enough that power generating plants can set it off. The next question is what happens if something does trip the alarm system, does it attack automatically, or does it alert the temple, which then would need permission to fire (possible from someone with an authorization key).

    It is possible that the key controls something else entirely, like a series of nukes. Use the Key, tell the system where the trouble is, and a city blows up.

  3. Richard says:

    How does Merlin know the bambardment systems are tied to technology. He was only specualating that was case in OAR.

  4. Dave says:

    A fairly intricate little test there.

    Steam power is a requirement for the ironclads Charis is going to need in order to begin going into the heavily defended ports where the GOF navy is and shipyards where they’re being built. Once that navy is completely neutralized, then the dynamic changes. The GOF will then be forced to spend more time and energy putting out small fires on the mainland.

  5. Pyrrhic says:

    Colleagues:

    Remember our young Wylsynn – currently heading the patent office in Old Charis. HE has a key to something significant. It may well be this. We shall see, shan’t we? LOLOL.

    Best,

    P.

  6. corpronj says:

    I think one of the “Angels” is in cryostasis under the temple and either the wisynn key or an automatic trip -large power source?- will wake them up. The book synopsis and my general feeling that it is about time for Charis to be really tested make me think so anyway.

  7. corpronj says:

    I think one of the “Angels” is in cryostasis under the temple and either the wisynn key or an automatic trip -large power source?- will wake them up. The book synopsis and my general feeling that it is about time for Charis to be really tested make me think so anyway.

  8. max says:

    From the synopsis, we could think that Merlin did or did not go to the temple but something/one did or did not wake up and made his presence known.

    The synopsis tell us : “And Merlin Athrawes, the cybernetic avatar of a young woman a thousand years dead, has finally learned what sleeps beneath the far-off Temple in the Church of God Awaiting’s city of Zion.”.

    It just tell us that Merlin is the one, maybe only one (or with his group but not the whole world) who know the secret, so I do not think if there is an ‘Angel’ under the temple, that the angel wake up and made his presence known to the church and world… well, it may as well not even be an ‘Angel’ in there… and I’d think if it’s an ‘Angel’, the discovery will not happen before the end of the book, because it would change the way the church respond, maybe if not the use of the kinetic bombardment and solar energy platforms system, the use of new weapon… and there is no mention in the synopsis of new weapons, just rebellion, religious terrorists and assassins.

    Well, we all know as well that a synopsis is as best, incomplete.

    I’d hate to see an ‘Angel’ wake up, because what would be the point of Duchairn and his “regenerated faith” and the work he began. If an ‘Angel’ did wake up, I think it could well listen to every conversation in the temple, know that they are corrupt and may want to kill him on the first occasion. And even if he could protect himself,
    an ‘Angel’ (because he is an ‘Angel’ from God…) would just wipe them and take control.

  9. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @3 — Richard

    According to OAR, “August, Year of God 890, chapter VII, Merlin/Nimue knows the capability of the Rakurai from The Book of Chihiro and from tests he and OWL conducted with SNARC’s trying to penetrate the defenses of the Rakurai.

  10. max says:

    From the synopsis, we could think that Merlin did or did not go to the temple but something/one did or did not wake up and made his presence known.

    The synopsis tell us : “And Merlin Athrawes, the cybernetic avatar of a young woman a thousand years dead, has finally learned what sleeps beneath the far-off Temple in the Church of God Awaiting’s city of Zion.”.

    It just tell us that Merlin is the one, maybe only one (or with his group but not the whole world) who know the secret, so I do not think if there is an ‘Angel’ under the temple, that the angel wake up and made his presence known to the church and world… well, it may as well not even be an ‘Angel’ in there… and I’d think if it’s an ‘Angel’, the discovery will not happen before the end of the book, because it would change the way the church respond, maybe if not the use of the kinetic bombardment and solar energy platforms system, the use of new weapon… and there is no mention in the synopsis of new weapons, just rebellion, religious terrorists and assassins.

    Well, we all know as well that a synopsis is as best, incomplete.

    I’d hate to see an ‘Angel’ wake up, because what would be the point of Duchairn and his “regenerated faith” and the work he began. If an ‘Angel’ did wake up, I think it could well listen to every conversation in the temple, know that they are corrupt and may want to kill him on the first occasion. And even if he could protect himself,
    an ‘Angel’ (because he is an ‘Angel’ from God…) would just wipe them and take control of the Church.

  11. Maggie says:

    “Most of them moved fairly slowly, their paths marked by twists and turns, stopping and starting, turning sharply, then going straight for short distances. Several others, though, were not only larger and more powerful but moved much more rapidly and smoothly . . . almost as if they’d been on rails”

    Oh, you can’t get far without a railroad!
    You can’t get far without a railroad!
    You got to have an engine and you’ve got to have a track,
    You can’t get any distance in a buggy or a hack!

    Steam on the water? Steam on land!

    OK, does Safehold have the metal to support a track structure??

  12. PeterZ says:

    Nothing in the stories so far suggests that iron is only available in limited quantities. Railroads would open up the interiors of Chisholm and Corisande to trade in a big way. Not to mention decrease the transit time between Delthak and Telesberg. Most importantly I think that a railroad can get goods to the Barony of White Church from Telesberg without going around Margret island.

    I kind of doubt steam powered ironclads will come into the mix in these stories. The logistics required to support them are pretty high. So, while we may see those steam ships destroying the Jahras shipyards in a book or two, I doubt Charis will develop the bases necessary to support steamers all the way into Dohlar.

  13. KenJ says:

    OAR; in discussing the location of Nimue’s cave states it is under one of the largest iron deposits in the world and that the planet is lousy with the metal.

  14. EM says:

    So steam engines are going to be introduced to Charis and Safehold in general. This will probably have interesting political consequences because it is a clear breach of the Proscriptions, but Merlin, Cayleb and Ehdwyrd won’t let that stop them.

    I wonder what types of engine will get introduced first and what they’ll get used for. IIRC the first terran steam engines (beam engines?) were IIRC used for pumping out mines. I’m also wondering how they’ll get around the ‘where did you get those ideas from?’ questions.

    The first long range rail lines will IMO mostly be built for freight and longrange army movements. Lines between Tellesberg and White Church, between Cherayth and Port Royal and possibly between High Rock and Hanth Town or between Delthak and the coast will probably be high on people’s priority lists for various reasons. Some people might also try to build (narrow gauge) rail lines within factories and/or ports to increase hauling capacity. Even steam- or horsedrawn trams aren’t entirely out of the question, which could bring the idea of what we’d call suburbanization to someone’s mind (‘New Towns’).

    It will also be interesting to see what gauge gets chosen and why. Do builders go for narrow gauge (3′ 6″ or less) for ease of construction or wide gauge (5′ or more) for capacity and growth potential? Will there be any effort to standardize gauge early? It’ll also be interesting to see if someone comes up with the idea of the Decauville railway (premade sections of narrow gauge track fastened to metal sleepers) for plantation/forestry/mine or military use.

  15. Maggie says:

    EM, what do you think of the possibilities of the beginnings of a beautiful friendship between the Empire and Siddarmark with RR’s transporting iron ore overland sometime down the line?

  16. EM says:

    The main problem with a steam RR being built in Siddarmark will be the Inquisition hauling off everyone involved for a messy execution. A secondary problem might be the development time involved for mobile steam engines in general, but that’s something also effecting Charis.

    One possibility I didn’t think of earlier is the possibility of a steam tug pulling strings of barges (or cargo galleons) from the coast upriver to Delthak. Since the tug isn’t going far afield it doesn’t have the logistical problems with longrange steamships. On a larger scale, steamships on Howell Bay and out to Lock Island might be possible without overstraining the logistics. Coal could be moved by sail. Steam ironclads as defensive battleships based at Lock Island itself (first and foremost) would also be devastating early on.

    One other water-related thought. I wonder if the esteemed Author has considered the british canal system in the 18th and 19th centuries and how something like it might effect the flatter and opener regions of Safehold. Horse drawn barges or narrowboats anyone?

  17. Drak Bibliophile says:

    EM, it hasn’t come up but canal systems are very likely to exist on Safehold.

    Of course, the British canal system was “johnny-come-lately” compared to the Mesopotamia canals and the ones in Northern India. [Smile]

  18. Maggie says:

    Draft Lizards for the barges, maybe. Don’t know if Safehold has heavy horse breeds necessary for that kind of work. Come to think of it, I need to re-read to see if there are any mules…

  19. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Maggie, I don’t remember seeing mules mentioned but I doubt that they’d need mules with “draft dragons” around.

  20. Maggie says:

    Say it ain’t so, Drak! How could an advanced humanity cast its’ last surviving offspring into an uncaring void without the comadeship and guidance of that magical blend of Earths’ two finest creations: Horse and Donkey!

    George Washington must be spinning in his grave….

  21. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Well Maggie, it’s just more evidence that Langhorne was a “jack-ass”. [Very Big Evil Grin]

  22. If you build good blowers, instead of a smokestack your warships could vent the steam through condenser pipes and under water, so that there would be far less thermal trace.

  23. Maggie says:

    Well said, Drak!

  24. Terranovan says:

    @22 George: The whole point of this test was to make sure that the Rakurai platforms wouldn’t respond to steam power – thereby making a disguise of the ship’s steam engine needless.

  25. Jon says:

    Anyone know when the E-ARC is coming out?

  26. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Jon, this is a TOR Book so there won’t be an E-ARC. [Frown]

    On the other hand, there will be an electronic version released at the same time as the Hardcover (Sept 13th).

  27. Brom says:

    @14. Steam power may not be such “a clear breach of the Proscriptions” as one might think. The Proscriptions allow equipment to be powered by moving water, moving air, or heat from fire. (Examples – waterwheels, sails vice oars, and smelters …)

    Getting power from steam is no more than two or three (depending on how explained) “permitted by the Proscriptions” processes utilized in combination. Easy to explain, easy to demonstrate and easy to understand.

  28. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Brom, as the next snippet will show, Father Paityr would likely not agree with you.

  29. @24 If you want to see if the platforms respond to steamships, you might worry that the platforms know that steamships do not travel across land. Some of these simulators needed to be out in the water.

    Someplace up-thread: If the rakurai attack beam has a 5 mile radius, the platform can be at the horizon and Merlin is still toast.

  30. WP says:

    I think the key is the Truth Stone/Stone of Truth. I thought it was a trigger, but somewhere in the last book, they were referred to almost as synonyms.

    I agree about Father Paityr – he’s honest – and honorable. He’s likely to be more strict since he will be afraid that any compromise in him will because of a desire for revenge on his part. He’s going to be problem worse than if he could be bribed.

  31. PeterZ says:

    Drak pretty much hinted that we will get a clearer understanding of what the proscriptions actually say with respect to steam power. If DW is feeling generous he will give us some definitive deatails on the wording itself in the next snippet.

    With that in hand we should be able to truly speculate. 24 hours to wait.

  32. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Of course, I’m beginning to feel that Dragon-Sized Snerk Collar that DW put on me. [Wink]

  33. PeterZ says:

    No, no. Please refrain from snerking Drak. You duty now is to survive and provide more snippets. Heaven help us if DW punches the red button on your collar. Brrrr not a pleasant thought. No Drak and No snippets! ;-)

  34. tootall says:

    26- no TOR E-arc-for HFaF. It’s ok, we all get to be together here for a while. Sometimes the conversation is as interesting as the book.

    Anyway, is there an E-arc for the other one?
    A Rising Thunder

  35. Doug Lampert says:

    I’ll note that the first Railroads predate steam power (1630, wooden rails, animal traction), by 1758 parliment in England had actually created a permanent railway in England, in 1776 they started using iron rails rather than wood.

    The first steam locomotive is from 1804, over 150 years after people started running trains of carts on wheels and 28 years after they started laying iron track.

    Even using animal traction putting your cargo on wheels and putting the wheels on rails is still an efficient way to move heavy cargo.

    So you can start building railroads WITHOUT neccessarily having steam engines. Patent office approval of the steam engines isn’t needed for you to use rails to improve overland cargo hauling (note that without steam power the rails still suck, they just suck slightly less than other methods).

  36. PeterZ says:

    @30- WP. My namesake has the Stone of Shueler and knows the truth when it is spoken in the Stone’s presence. He will know that the Archbishop is telling the truth when he speaks of the Terran civilization prior to creation. Knowing that the Writ is a lie, but having a deep faith in God as Father Paityr does, do you think he will slavishly follow the Writ and the Proscriptions?

    No. He will be very like Archbishop Maikel, but with the Wylsyn cache. That will be important to mainlanders as a counterpoint to Clyntahn. The most important thing is to know that the orbital bombardment system will not interfere. Everything else has been set up to keep the theological lawyers at work for eons whitling away at the excess to get to the kernel of Truth.

  37. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Tootall, _A Rising Thunder_ hasn’t been scheduled yet so it is impossible to know when the EARC will be available.

    PeterZ, while I’ll not comment on whether or not Father Paityr will “learn the truth”, I’ll note that the Brotherhood is very concerned about what “learning the truth” would do to a person with a strong faith.

    I suspect that they learned the hard way that some people had lost their faith in God when told of the true history of Safehold.

    While Father Paityr doesn’t appear to be somebody who’d lose his faith because of learning the truth, the Brotherhood won’t lightly risk that.

    Minor hint, the Wylsyn family believes that their ancestor was the Archangel Schueler and they have good reason to believe that. [Wink]

  38. PeterZ says:

    I got that last bit from the last book, Drak. My nasty disposition thinks that Shueler is probably a very likable and honorable man. He was likely very much what he descendant are now. This seems like a counter to the dispicable arrogance of Bedard.

    Think about it. Shueler wants to mitigate the excesses of the CoGA and ended up creating the monstrosity of the inquisition. Bedard wants to implement the emotional levers of her field into the curch and ends up with one of the most effective ministries of the church.

    BTW, of course the Brotherhood wont risk telling Father Paityr. He is the critical part to unraveling the proscriptions. DW will not let that happen too quickly. Using the Brotherhood’s valid concern as the reason is completly believable.

  39. Drak Bibliophile says:

    PeterZ, I’m not saying that Father Paityr *won’t* be told the truth.

    I just thought your earlier comment *under-estimated* the shock that learning the truth would involve.

  40. PeterZ says:

    Well, I have been away from this forum for a while and my posts on this subject was not available here. You may assume that I may be overestimating the shock value of Paityr finding the Truth. Its like you or I receiving a highly reliable source saying that Jesus was lie and we should really become satanists.

  41. KenJ says:

    Peter,
    I’ve had a similar thought process. What if Schuler happens to be part of a /SECOND/ conspiracy…. One totally un-related to the Pei’s and striving to work from within, especially when it was obvious that the overt resistance of ShanWei would be crushed. He may even be a lone wolf, thinking there was only himself and his eventual family to strive to mitigate the path of Langhorn.

    So, he becomes one of the most outspoken members of Langhorn’s Cabal: Archangel of Punnishment. But he also quietly has a family in whom he instills a tradition of honest service, not self-service.

    Must my own twisted mind at work ;)

  42. tootall says:

    41.. Wow-Wheels within wheels-it’s why I love the comments, Thanks KenJ

  43. John says:

    Can’t wait

  44. Bret Hooper says:

    I keep wondering when (and if) Merlin will find it necessary to create for himself an Externally Linked, Independent, Telecommunicating Embodiment (probably female in appearance) so s/he can effectively be in two places.

  45. kari says:

    From the previous book…I can’t help wondering if the fact that Duchairn’s office has a working screen and plays music isn’t a clue to what’s below the temple? What if there was a person who had believed in Longhorn until he committed mass murder? And then wondered….what would happen if Shan Wei was right and Langhorne wrong?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.