by Max Barry

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by The Red Tape Singularity of Yegla Islands. . 40 reads.


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Sub-initiative SVETOVID/Gossamer

Alternate Designation: Project GHOSTLIGHT

Phase I: Crew & Personnel

Stated Aims:

  • To develop a wholly clandestine, cost-effective methodology of personnel procurement and training, for the purposes of all further personnel requirements within the confines of Project GHOSTLIGHT

Introductory Statement:

So. Before we can get onto designing anything spaceship related, we need to tackle what may perhaps be the most crucial portion of this entire project. Because the ships, however fancy they are, need crew. Which wouldn't ordinarily be a problem, were we not doing this behind enough layers of cloak and dagger to make the Commissariat look like transparency advocates. GHOSTLIGHT is a clandestine project, and thus we need to procure personnel without raising attention - crew, yes, but also maintenance workers. Researchers, planners. Perhaps even marines, if such a thing becomes feasible. But crew, first and foremost. We cannot draw them from existing manpower reserves, nor from the civilian population - both cases would raise inordinate amounts of suspicion considering the sheer scale of this thing, and the former case would also present an unworkable drain on our existing departments. AI was briefly considered during the early stages, but there's just too many issues - current technology in that department simply isn't advanced enough for something of this scope. Nor would they prove a reliable factor, for a wholly automated system is prone to interference. The one advantage we do have, however - and make no mistake, it's quite the advantage - is that we form the baseline. The core, if you will. Our solution to this problem, whatever it may be in the end, will be what the remaining project is built around. The vessels themselves will be purpose-designed to accept whatever esoteric means of staffing we may devise. And that grants us... leniency. Access to unorthodox avenues of thought. It is time to explore those avenues, ladies and gentlemen. We must make men of functionally nothing, and make them we will.
-Dr. █████████ █████████, project management

Status: In Progress


  • Proposal #1
    Identifier: "FLYWHEEL"
    Proposal Body: Proposal #1 hereby stipulates the usage of purpose-designed training suites, staffed by UYDF personnel oblivious of their true purpose, to be utilized as a means of remote-control for the GHOSTLIGHT system. Inputs would be managed and translated into control impulses by means of an AI-modulated coordination node, which would also serve to translate sensor inputs into potential targeting parameters within the confines of the simulator. No additional manpower would be required, as existing servicemen could be assigned to control duty as a form of purported training.
    Status: Rejected on the grounds of functionally (and/or cost-effectively) insurmountable caveats, including the difficulty of input management, the inflexibility of an indirect simulation framework, and the potential for security breaches, given the wholly digital nature of the system.

  • Proposal #2
    Identifier: "REGOLITH"
    Proposal Body: Proposal #2 hereby stipulates the usage of cloning technology for the creation of service-capable citizens, and their immediate training and conscription into the GHOSTLIGHT initiative. The primary advantage of this solution would be the wholly conventional nature of each crewmember, necessitating no specialized vessel internals or means of control.
    Status: Rejected on the grounds of functionally (and/or cost-effectively) insurmountable caveats, including the currently primitive state of cloning technology, as well as the difficulties presented by either the creation of an orbital cloning facility or the transportation of vast quantities of personnel into orbit in a clandestine manner. While the design of GHOSTLIGHT docking and manufacture facilities is as of yet not finalized, the overwhelming bent towards orbital solutions necessitates a measure of consideration to be given to this eventuality.

  • Proposal #3
    Identifier: "HUSK"
    Proposal Body: Proposal #3 hereby stipulates the alteration of induction contracts for newly-conscripted and/or volunteering servicemen to incorporate a thaumically-effected, metanarrative geas, prefaced by a mandated questionnaire (or equivalent thereof) regarding the signee's spiritual beliefs and moral values with regards to the afterlife, euthanasia, and various other related matters, designed to indirectly gauge consent for the signing of the geas. Upon subject expiry, trigger-parameters within the geas will effect the binding of the signee's consciousness, thaumic field and de-facto "soul" to a GHOSTLIGHT-integrated controlling body, from whence the exact regulatory actions required to operate the project's combat systems would be made possible. Training could be provided either in realtime, or as a form of direct-data thoughtform broadcast. Advantages of this proposal include nigh-total inscrutability on the part of the uninitiated, a marked increase in versatility with regards to the target vessel design, and the creation of personnel lacking standard "upkeep" (nutrition, conventional habitation, e.t.c.) requirements.
    Status: Provisionally accepted, pending further elaboration.
    Addendum: █████, I refuse to believe that this is something you came up with on the spot. You may have been granted provisional acceptance, but rest assured that any links between yourself and ███████ ████████ will be thoroughly investigated. If you're bringing in what I think you're bringing in, I want no part of it.

Notice on progress (██ ██ ████) :

Got the first batch of... recruits? I'll say recruits. In any case, entrant sources are mixed - so far we've got █ battlefield casualties from ████ ███████ ██ ████████████, a group of ███ ████████ ██████ ██████ █ ███████ █████████ ██████████, and about █ cases of old age - wasn't really expecting the latter so soon, but what the hell. For what it's worth, they seem to be taking to it rather well - I expected a lot more existential dread and such. Now that we have a precedent case to back us, we didn't make the mistake of cramming them into storage cubes again - this time it's direct transfer into humanoid proxies. That does bring me to one of our core issues at present - the proxy bodies aren't quite cutting it. The sensor suites we can slap on them simply aren't advanced enough to simulate human inputs - of all the things we get wrong in this weaponized ouija board, it's the goddamn VR realism. Though on that topic - ████████ has been turning out some interesting dividends lately. I suggest shooting them a memo with regards to possible informational exchange - the construction of a dreamscape-state would both provide a suitable control environment, and alleviate a significant measure of tensions in the personnel. I'll leave the specifics to you.
-█████ ██████, HR dept.