Project Silence - Tranquility Base
By Michael Cleveland
The personnel in the control room went about their tasks with the cold self-assurance that can only be found in places of absolute security, oblivious to the tall, androgynous figure that lounged back in one of the unoccupied chairs. The Archangel of Lightning did not smile, but neither did he show any outward display of emotion as the human occupants of the building passed by. Jean seldom showed even the trappings of emotion when he came to this place, but if he was troubled by what he saw he had never conveyed it to Kzylchk. The Kyriotate flinched momentarily within the computer system as he heard and felt the all too familiar disturbance of an incoming Gateway transmission.
"Sir, this place is not secure. The humans would love to try and -"
The Archangel's brow raised slightly. "Capture me, Kzylchk? The odds of that are minimal. In any event I am sufficiently shielded. No one will notice me."
The Kyriotate quieted himself for a few minutes, then spoke again. "With all due respect, Archangel, I really think we need to wipe this place off the map. This place creeps me out like nobody's business."
Jean turned to face the computer screen, moving his face into a look of mild irritation. "You are out of line, Seneschal. We shall no such thing." As the Kyriotate's emotions twisted from apprehension and concern to fear, Jean softened his voice slightly. "If it makes you feel any better, although I do not share the same level of fear of this place as you do, I am not entirely comfortable here myself. Still..." Jean paused for a moment, as if to calculate the impact of his next statement. "God has placed this Tether here, in this place and under these circumstances, for a reason. I believe it to mean that these 'Silencers' may be an objective good, but I also believe that it is a sound strategic decision to place an operative in a position to monitor their movements. I am not totally certain of his reasons, but I am sure that he wants us to be here."
The Seneschal closed his eyes for a moment within the processor, and then pulsed his agreement. "Yes, sir. I understand. I won't let you down." Jean nodded and moved to the locus point of the Tether. "I am certain you will not let me down. And if, during your stewardship of this Tether, you should come to understand precisely what God intended in placing it here, I have no doubt you will inform me." As the Archangel of Lightning streaked towards Heaven, Kzylchk turned back to the computer system and surveyed the vast array of automated defenses, force catchers, captured Vaputech weaponry and all the other assorted devices that were specifically meant to trap or kill people like himself. Shifting toward the Gateway Monitoring Systems, he muttered under his breath.
"Oh, trust me, Boss. I've been doing nothing but wondering what God was thinking myself."
Dark Side Lunar Facility - aka 'Tranquility Base'
(Moderate/Quiet Tether of Lightning) In the late 1970's NASA sent another robotic probe to survey the lunar surface and take high-resolution photos of the dark side of the moon. Shortly after achieving orbit, the probe's transmitters failed to respond to Earthside transmissions. After several months of investigation, it was determined that there has been a flaw in the transmitter that made it susceptible to vibration during launch that had somehow gone undetected. After several contractors were fired and much screaming and carrying on by congress was finally done, it was decided that lunar exploration would be put on temporary hiatus. Thus ended the first era of manned extra-planetary missions.
At least officially. In truth, there had never been a robotic probe - all the time and effort had gone into making a 2 passenger launch vehicle and landing craft. This might have been able to get past NASA oversight, had it not been for the fact that the landing craft had no provisions for getting the people back to Earth. Whoever went on this mission was pretty much doomed to be two very dead Astronauts.
Except they weren't Astronauts. They were Silencers. You see, the Project Silence Jumpgate program was almost completely finished with its experimental stages and had been able to reach literally every point on the globe. Analysis of the Gateways had revealed that there was no appreciable difference in psychokinetic expenditure for different distances travelled. While this seemed like it had already been proven to be the perfect military transport technology, a young physicist by the name of Harold Richsmann realized that perhaps this could be taken a step further. The logic was relatively sound - if you had the ability to Gate to any place you could get a Jump Officer to, what was to stop you from using this technology to colonize other planets? All you had to do was get one man on the ground successfully, and from there you could bring in additional material and manpower as needed.
Although Project Silence was skeptical of the idea at first, it had the potential to solve two additional problems they faced. The first was the need for a permanent base of operations that could be run without having to keep looking over your shoulder for Extra-Dimensionals or people who were unaware of the project. The second was a little more problematic - the Extra-Dimensional R & D division and the Emerging Technologies division had recently been merged into a subgroup classified Project Icehouse, and they had been tasked with the duty of reverse-engineering alien technology. Icehouse had been meeting with some success, but in the process was creating energy surges and signatures that the aliens could trace. In order for them to have any chance of making workable devices, they had to find a site that was completely remote and isolated from any chance of discovery.
That was over twenty years ago. Since that time, Project Silence has been moving some of its most secure operations up to the DSLF, or Tranquility base as its inhabitants call it. It hasn't been easy, of course - at least 2 Jump Officers have had to be on site at any given time during its construction. Everyone assigned to the construction effort has memories of it being a long and arduous process - after all, while each psychokinetic 'push' can transfer 300 lbs of material across, it's taken quite a while to get everything through. The place was built completely by Jump Officers, as it was necessary to insure that everyone that went through was also capable of getting back in a pinch. 2 Jump Gate operators would open a gateway for the incoming crew, who would then transport approximately 1,500 pounds of material across before using their last psychokinetic push for themselves.
Although the base holds Project Silence's command echelons, Project Icehouse's construction facilities, the central Jumpgate command center and the contingent of soldiers that make up the bases defensive troops, the vast majority of the people who make up the project are unaware of the bases location or existence. The base is heavily shielded from radiation sources and has been build to produce as low of an electromagnetic signature as possible. Most of the people who built the base did so knowing that they would be unlikely to leave it often, and many of those serving there who have died over the years have their ashes mixed with the soil in the hydroponics dome. Transmissions to and from the base are in short bursts rather than real-time continuous feeds, and while Jumpgate command is on the moon the majority of assaults are undertaken from earthside staging areas.
Somewhere during all of this, a Tether of Lightning managed to form in the base. In the heart of what is now the Jumpgate command center, a plaque is set into the floor at the exact position where the first darkside jump gate was activated, forming the locus of the Tether. Hidden within the computer systems of the base is Kzylchk, a 15 force Friend of The Illuminated who splits his time nearly evenly trying to watch the Silencer's movements, keep Project Icehouse from pushing the wrong buttons on the Vaputech they've been working with, and generally trying to not get himself killed. After nearly 15 years in the facility, he's grown accustomed to the loud clanging in the Symphony that only he and his Superior get to hear from the relic creation and the constant Jumps. He's also gotten quite adept at maneuvering through the computer networks, modifying data as necessary to cast the infernals in a less favorable light. It's working, too - although the rate at which Project Silence attacks 'Host' bases is still completely unacceptable, the rate at which it identifies and neutralizes bases belonging to the 'Horde' has been rapidly increasing.
For the moment, Jean is keeping the existence of this Tether quiet until his evaluation of the situation is complete. Although he passes along information to the appropriate Archangels when he determines an attack is imminent, he fears that too many among the Seraphim Council would demand access to the base. As it stands right now, the only people who use the Tether are the Seneschal and the Archangel himself - and there have been instances where Kzylchk has nearly gotten himself discovered. The few people treading in Project Silence's most private of domains, the better.
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