Comic 1446 - Crosshairs

5th Feb 2017, 9:00 PM
Average Rating: 5 (19 votes)

Author Notes:

Centcomm 5th Feb 2017, 10:12 PM edit delete
AT least its not a friday!
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Stormwind13 5th Feb 2017, 9:00 PM edit delete reply


The EVIL Duo DID go there. This isn't going to be good.
megados 6th Feb 2017, 1:28 PM edit delete reply

My initial reaction was more like Holy Shit, but yeah, I think it's gonna cause a shitstorm of some sort. . .
Dragonrider 5th Feb 2017, 9:06 PM edit delete reply

One hopes that the sniper rifle was destroyed prior to a shot being fired, also hope this does not restart the hostilities between forces. With the "Bluebelles" still on the loose the cease fire is fragile at best. As I recall there is a cordon of snipers around the node where Silver was so that probably is not the only arrow in the quiver.

Edit note: Close examination of panel 4, the sniper weapon does not appear damaged therefore other arrows in the quiver may not be needed. Best comment now might be OH FUCKING SHIT
Stormwind13 5th Feb 2017, 9:15 PM edit delete reply

I think Noctis ordered everyone BUT Astraea away from the Node, Dragonrider. And she was ordered to kill ANYTHING coming out of the node. No challenges, just shoot to kill. I was hoping Dr. Silver was smart enough to go out the BACK door. You know the one Char came in thru.
Centcomm 5th Feb 2017, 11:10 PM edit delete reply

Side note Our sniper is using a Luna made Rail gun. similar in power to Marcus's range is "yes"
DLKmusic (at work) 5th Feb 2017, 9:07 PM edit delete reply
Just wanted to mention that I was the voice of doom and gloom that called this!

(although, to be honest I thought it was Charlie that was gonna get sniped).
Stormwind13 5th Feb 2017, 9:17 PM edit delete reply

So we get to blame YOU for Dr. Silver's death, DLK? Alright, we will send the appropriate folks after you. :-)
DLKmusic 5th Feb 2017, 10:03 PM edit delete reply

I calls em as I sees em... She was never called off, in spite of the cease fire, and our evil duo have been conspicuously quiet about this.

I'm wondering if her defensive shield with those killbots is going to be good enough. Guess it time for a field test
Centcomm 5th Feb 2017, 10:12 PM edit delete reply

snickers.. we didnt for get. not for a second.
Timotheus 6th Feb 2017, 12:03 AM edit delete reply

This was one of my three plot complcations I had in mind. The question is, is the graphic explosion that of the weapon being fired or of something neutralizing the weapon? I believe it could be interpreted either way.
Gilrandir 6th Feb 2017, 12:49 AM edit delete reply
Well, rail guns would not normally generate propellant gasses. On the other hand we could be seeing evaporated coolant. In my opinion, however, what we are seeing is artistic license. Guess we just have to wait and see.

In any case, that is a huge signature (in my uneducated opinion) for a sniper weapon.
Centcomm 6th Feb 2017, 1:47 AM edit delete reply

actually look up the US navy rail gun.. you will see why i put the giant fireball.
Gilrandir 6th Feb 2017, 2:01 AM edit delete reply
True enough. Apparently the velocity of the projectile superheats (or even ionizes) the air in the barrel ahead of the projectile, producing the muzzle flash. So, technically, 'coolant', although the actual amount of cooling provided is negligible. ^_^

Kudos for the research, @Centcomm. ^_^

"Where did the sniper shoot from?"
"Over there, where all the bushes are on fire."

EDIT: I wonder if a rail gun should be generating a near-field EMP in the vicinity of its operator every time it fires?
Greenwood Goat 6th Feb 2017, 4:00 AM edit delete reply
Not to mention that the enormous current and voltage generate massive amounts of arcing, plasma, and vaporised, burning bits of rail and sabot. And yes, it would be generating a significant amount of EMI, possibly enough to count as an EMP and certainly enough to fritz or permabrick unshielded or unhardened devices that got too close.

Railguns have had a natural home in science fiction throughout the 20th century. The basic operating concept is the same as for the Jacob's ladder spark effect, where the electrical arc climbs up the gap between the two diverging electrodes. Any electric current, arcs included, generates a magnetic field around itself. This field wants to expand, so it forces the arc up the electrodes to their ends, and then forces it stretch out from the ends of the electrodes until it breaks. Then a new arc is struck at the bottom of the electrodes, where they are closest together. Now, replace the thin electrodes with heavy steel rails, the arc with a steel sabot slotted to slide between the rails, and ramp the current up from a fraction of an amp to about 8000 amps and the voltage from 10,000-odd to several million volts, and the same expanding electromagnetic field effect will accelerate the sabot to several times the speed of sound... if all goes well. The concept was conceived around the start of the 20th century, and has been looking for both a practical implementation and an otherwise insoluable problem to deal with ever since. A number of attempts were made over the last century to build a working prototype, but it was only in the 1990s that they actually got them to work. There are still major issues with reliability and endurance, especially where the arcing ablates the surface of the rail, burning and vaporising it away, meaning that the rails have to be replaced every thirty shots or so. And while the military wouldn't say no to a super- or hypersonic kinetic field gun, they're managing fine with their current field artillery and rocketry, backed with the odd airstrike. The massive amounts of power required mean that it would be difficult/impractical to make a railgun that would be mobile on land. In fact, the only mobile combat unit that could house a railgun, or battery of railguns, along with the necessary generating capacity, would be a naval vessel. A battleship-sized one, indeed. Probably commanded by a naval captain or at least a full commander. The navies of the world haven't had a need for those since torpedoes (and later, anti-shipping missiles etc.) changed the patterns of war and made them obsolete. If they could produce a battle-ready naval railgun system, and find a situation that they needed (or might need) it to combat, they would be able to have mighty battleships plying the waves again... now, who is it that's done all the recent research and development on railguns, from the 1990s to the present...? Ah, yes, the US Navy! >;=)>

Head of Naval Intelligence: This person of interest has been identified as a fembot assassin armed with a man-portable sniper railgun, possibly from the future or somesuch. Obviously, and primarily, this represents a grave threat to our plans for railgun-armed battleships, should this technology be captured and reverse-engineered to enable smaller vehicles and units to carry such weapons. Also, she/it might be intending to kill a lot of important folks or damage a lot of important materiel with said gun...

Hornet 6th Feb 2017, 7:22 AM edit delete reply
I could see the Russian military and their love for largely heavy military systems building a land battleship carrying these and powered by a graphite or other solid-state nuclear reactor. Course they don't have the US limitation of need to airlift or sail their military to foreign shores.
Mike C. 8th Feb 2017, 6:11 AM edit delete reply
You mean something like an Ogre?
megados 6th Feb 2017, 5:50 AM edit delete reply

@ Centcomm: Actually, I thought it looked very good, and Astraea must be very strong!

The EMP field can be contained within a Faraday cage-like structure around the field coils (rails). the opening at the projectile exit would emit a directed EMP in the direction of the projectile. In theory, at least.
Sheela 6th Feb 2017, 8:16 AM edit delete reply

There are homemade rail guns out there too.
megados 6th Feb 2017, 3:36 PM edit delete reply

That's cool, @Sheela! Yeah, their housing would suppress most of an EMP it produces, but their cables and capacitors would also need to be shielded. Those have as much of a magnetic field under current as the field rails do.
rufiangel 5th Feb 2017, 10:02 PM edit delete reply

Finally finally caught up! Aw dang, just when we thought things were winding down. :'D Love DC Centy, Rose, thank you for working so darn hard on this comic despite all the health complications going on - mad respect and much love and blessings from me to you!
Centcomm 5th Feb 2017, 10:11 PM edit delete reply

OMG yay Rufi thank you soo much and welcome to the present! and thank you for making one of my favorite comics too Rufi!!

No seriously guys her comic is awesome.
Haegan2005 5th Feb 2017, 10:36 PM edit delete reply

It is, it is true.
DLKmusic 6th Feb 2017, 12:20 AM edit delete reply

agreed. (blatant Plug for Rufi) Serpamia flare Absolutely rocks
mjkj 6th Feb 2017, 1:06 AM edit delete reply

Link to Serpamia Flare.
Wolfsbane 6th Feb 2017, 3:20 AM edit delete reply

Absolutely on top of the heap. The motion is seconded and passed.
Sheela 6th Feb 2017, 8:17 AM edit delete reply

I agree, it's a lovely comic, and welcome to the comment section! :D

Don't worry, we won't bite .. much. :)
rufiangel 7th Feb 2017, 1:49 AM edit delete reply

Ohmigosh Centy, all of you guys ;____;***

*hugs every single one of you* :'D thank you so much for such kind words omg

It's truly such an honour ;v;***

(And DC comments are the best ahhh XD <3 I love reading all the insights, theories and predictions, DC readers are so goshdarn clever @_@)
chk 6th Feb 2017, 9:51 AM edit delete reply

Sheela will nibble though.
megados 6th Feb 2017, 12:44 PM edit delete reply

Bring an extra pair of shoes! :-D
Aetrun 6th Feb 2017, 2:10 PM edit delete reply
Thanks mjkj for the link, just went and read the whole thing and love it. Awesome comic rufi
mjkj 7th Feb 2017, 4:35 PM edit delete reply

You are welcome, Aetrun =)
Morituri 5th Feb 2017, 10:11 PM edit delete reply
Hm. I wonder why I don't particularly care? Dr. Silver rates a heck of a lot less empathy from me than most of the other characters.

Literally my first thought was, "Well, dang, that's a shame, but whatever, she's expendable."
Dragonrider 5th Feb 2017, 11:00 PM edit delete reply

@Morituri: Ask Cent Comm New Troy if she is expendable, no she is not her lab is a big profit center for New Troy, the AI's she develops and offers for sale are second to Dolly but are above New Troy standard. Her death will virtually ensure Acantha will be held hostage and Nova Roma will become a satellite State of New Troy. Best hope to hell that she had shields at overload and was in the drones shield wall also.
xpacetrue 5th Feb 2017, 11:57 PM edit delete reply

I think Dr. Silver is a rather interesting character. She may tend to be distant from most humans, but that's because she seems to empathize with and care more about androids. Then there's how she seems motivated by money and how she was reluctant to get involved with Cent's black projects. But, hey, who can blame her? She's had bad experience with trusting Marcus with these special missions, at that. Then there's those special powers of hers and how she would never use them to mind-control an android because it goes against her beliefs. Ironic that these androids are going to kill her out of fear that she might try to do just that.
Marcus Ramesy 6th Feb 2017, 9:52 AM edit delete reply

The first "special" mission that Dr. Silver ever went on with me was her idea...
megados 6th Feb 2017, 5:40 AM edit delete reply

Like her, or hate her, the mere fact that she was fired upon is going to cause a shitstorm. This poses a threat to a plan that was, up until now, going so smoothly . . . . . . well, as smoothly as things like this can go :-D
Sheela 6th Feb 2017, 8:20 AM edit delete reply

And then we learn that Dr Silver was an android!

And some IDIOT just shot at her.
And now she PISSED!
megados 5th Feb 2017, 10:16 PM edit delete reply

I wonder if Dr. Silver's drones are fast enough to catch it. Or provide shielding?

Either way, aww shit.
Centcomm 5th Feb 2017, 11:09 PM edit delete reply

we shall see!
Sheela 6th Feb 2017, 8:20 AM edit delete reply

Or if she's even human enough to be particularly hurt by a bullet.
megados 6th Feb 2017, 4:16 PM edit delete reply

For everyone's sake, here's hoping that she isn't hurt, or at least not too badly.
Sheela 6th Feb 2017, 5:03 PM edit delete reply

It might also just be a hardlight projection that she's shooting at.
Gilrandir 5th Feb 2017, 10:32 PM edit delete reply
That's ... disappointing. I wouldn't have expected Noctis to disobey a direct order -- unless it is the sniper who is disobeying the direct order. Still, it is refreshing to see Cassians doing what they please, instead of what they have been ordered to do. It throws an entirely different light on all those times they complied with the orders Decimus gave them.

I am sure there is much more of interest to come in this part of the tale. And now we know why Maxus is in Hangar 5A. Or, as it is known to some, "Camlann Field". ^_^
Centcomm 5th Feb 2017, 11:09 PM edit delete reply

Noctis didnt. think very carefully what her orders currently are.
Gilrandir 5th Feb 2017, 11:26 PM edit delete reply
Wasn't Noctis there and serving as the communication relay when Maxus negotiated the cease-fire with Memento Mori (and by extension, their allies, the New Troy operatives)? If so, didn't Maxus have to turn to Noctis and say something to the effect of "order all our troops to cease fire and hold in place until further notice?" So, if Noctis obeyed that order, that would have included relaying the command to Astraea. If Maxus didn't have Noctis relay the order, he would have had to give it himself -- which means she still would have heard it, and still been obligated to relay it to all the other Cassians under her command. So, either she heard the order and disobeyed it, or doesn't consider herself under Maxus' orders, which means her earlier scene in the bedroom (specifically Comic 1277 - The Glory Of The Throne) where she surrendered to him and places herself "... at your disposal," was a sham. Alternatively, she relayed the order in good faith, and Astraea chose to disregard it on her own initiative.

I suppose another possibility is that Maxus negotiated the cease-fire, but then gave no orders at all to that effect -- leaving the question of why Memento Mori isn't raising bloody hell about having been betrayed after negotiating in good faith. That doesn't seem very likely. What am I missing? How did all the other troops get the cease-fire order, but Astraea get left out of the loop without Noctis' willful collusion in seeing that order go astray?
Timotheus 6th Feb 2017, 12:14 AM edit delete reply

The order to snipe "whatever came out of the building" was not part of the rebellion response or general military orders. It was part of an older, higher level survival response initiative by the cassians and as such was outside of the normal chain of tactical orders. Noctis (or Kali) had to give a direct order for Astrea to stand down from her position. So far no one had directed or given Noctis cause to reverse her order.
Gilrandir 6th Feb 2017, 12:55 AM edit delete reply
I cannot agree that Dr. Silver was not known to be working with Memento Mori, and therefore not explicitly within the scope of the cease-fire order. No matter how many 'willies' Noctis had, her exchange with Maxus about restoring the hard line for communications makes that explicitly clear. If there's a higher priority directive that prevents her from following a direct order from Maxus, her duty is to inform him of that fact at the time. (Assuming she considers his orders to have any force at all. If she considers herself a free agent, of course, all bets are off.)
megados 6th Feb 2017, 12:56 PM edit delete reply

@Timotheus that is how I understood it as well.
HiFranc 6th Feb 2017, 12:25 AM edit delete reply

Given the nature of their worries, she may have thought that the order was Dr Silver manipulating her.
xpacetrue 5th Feb 2017, 11:50 PM edit delete reply

So, does this mean that Cassians and other androids can unintentionally forget important details? They can have faulty memories, just like humans?
DLKmusic 6th Feb 2017, 12:24 AM edit delete reply

that is exactly what Noctis has been doing ever since she got her "orders" directly from Prince Decimus.
Gilrandir 6th Feb 2017, 1:03 AM edit delete reply
I don't think Noctis has forgotten anything, @DLKmusic. In the past, she has skirted the intent of her orders, while adhering to the letter of them.

It is true that, because the actual order was not given 'on camera', we can't know exactly how it was worded or what device Noctis used to circumvent it (or just disregard it); but, it is hard to imagine Maxus issuing such a simple and commonplace order in any way that would allow such trivial circumvention. This is the kind of situation that has literally hundreds of years of military history to provide well-established precedent for both how to phrase such an order unambiguously and how bad things can get if the order is not successfully received and acknowledged by all affected units.
DLKmusic 6th Feb 2017, 1:22 AM edit delete reply

You are correct, Gil, 100 percent. but you are missing one minor detail.

Noctis is NOT military, she's an Assassin. she doesn't follow a military code of honor, and is expected to get her hands dirty on projects that no honorable Military man would touch. Further, she has proven time and again that you need to be exact and explicit with your orders to her if you think there is any possibility of her manipulating it.

Noctis made it VERY clear to Maxus that she hates Cyber-Paths. Maxus should have known better and been more specific with Noctis. Don't get me wrong, I'm not pointing the evil finger at Maxus as this is pretty new to him, and up to this point, Noctis appeared completely "trustworthy", so this would have been difficult for anyone to catch. However, this is also the first point in the current crisis where Maxus and Noctis are not in complete accord.
Gilrandir 6th Feb 2017, 1:43 AM edit delete reply
Maxus is military. As I said, without the actual scene in which the order is given, we can make up whatever we want about what did and didn't happen. But, considering how we have seen how Malati's inhibitor did not allow her to 'finesse' the situation when she had, in fact, legitimately sustained damage, it seems unreasonable to assume that Noctis' inhibitor would let her 'finesse' a direct order whose meaning and intent were both clear. The fact that Maxus is military strongly argues for the likelihood that the meaning and intent of the cease-fire order were both clear. Therefore she either does not consider Maxus' orders to apply to her and she should not be calling him "Lord General" and "Lord Regent", or she does consider the order applicable and chose not to follow it. Or I'm missing something.

I wonder if the other Cassians (such as Samanta -- though not her, specifically, of course) have also been wandering around happily ganking any rebels they are so fortunate as to stumble across because, if Astraea didn't get the order, why should any of the other Cassians have gotten it?
Timotheus 6th Feb 2017, 2:32 AM edit delete reply

There was NO military order given. The assassination watch was a pure survival response on the part of the Cassians. Therefore, no subsequent military directives would have an effect on Astrea's actions unless Noctis (or Kali)specifically relayed them to her. To Noctis, this was probably something totally separate from all of the other events of the day. Restoring communications did not mean rescinding the need to eliminate the cyberpath.
Guest 6th Feb 2017, 5:32 AM edit delete reply
Actually I wouldn't call it survival, Timotheus. To me it seems to be pure FEAR. Noctis was afraid of the stories of what a cyberpath could do without having the facts.
Gilrandir 6th Feb 2017, 8:09 AM edit delete reply
I'm not sure I understand your reasoning here, @Timotheus ...

If an order goes out that says "Stop doing this", it seems (in my opinion) like every person to whom the order applies needs to stop doing that. It should not matter if they were previously doing it because they were ordered to, or because they were doing so recreationally, or because they thought they were doing something else entirely and then discover otherwise. Stop means stop. The only thing that should matter is if you currently have conflicting orders from a higher-ranking source which supersede the Stop order. Or if, for some reason, you believe that the order does not apply to you.
Timotheus 6th Feb 2017, 1:03 PM edit delete reply

"You believe the order does not apply to you." Astrea was not sniping rebels, securing a strong point, or actively opposing any invaders. She was in position to take out a threat to her kind as ordered by her superior. If all of the rebel forces danced in front of her in a conga line she wouldn't shoot if they didn't come out of that building. And Noctis didn't consider her to to be part of the counter revolt actions so no specific order to stand down was given to her.
Gilrandir 6th Feb 2017, 1:13 PM edit delete reply
We'll have to agree to disagree here, @Timotheus. It is entirely possible this is the rationale the creatrices are using to justify the present unfolding of narrative, but in my opinion it makes Noctis seem much more ... sleazy than I would have expected.
Morituri 7th Feb 2017, 5:27 PM edit delete reply
Agreeing with Timotheus. As far as the Cassians are concerned "There Exists A Cyberpath" IS a fully legitimate reason to destroy it. Astraea is doing that and would be doing that absolutely regardless of any invasion going on. Because A Cyberpath Exists.

This has nothing to do with the rebellion, the military action, the invaders, or even the succession. If she gets orders that any or all of those things are no longer a cause for action, she still has a cause for action. And that cause is, A Cyberpath Exists.

Even the fact that they found OUT about the fact as a result of the fighting, does not mean that the end of the fighting can be a reason for Astraea to stand down. Not While A Cyberpath Exists.
Gilrandir 7th Feb 2017, 5:51 PM edit delete reply
To h*ll with the Throne, as long as a cyberpath exists? I don't think I agree, but that may very well be the impression the creative team wants to create.

We'll just have to wait and see.
DLKmusic 6th Feb 2017, 2:36 AM edit delete reply

It's my understanding that the inhibitor only works as related to the Livius Dynasty. Maxis is not Decimus, nor is he Acantha, whom Noctis will not have the same kind of leeway.

There's no reason to assume the other cassians are ganking random rebels, but Astraea was in a unique position. She was ordered to fire not against a rebel, but against what the Cassians perceive as a threat to their very existance. Think back, if you will, to the vow that Noctis made over Malati's corpse... "I will do everything I can to insure that as many of our sisters as possible will survive".

I would also like to mention that Noctis's irrational fear of cyber-paths is the single most human trait she has. She fears that a cyberpath will force her to do things against her will, and doesn't see the paradox of the inhibitor already doing that to her.
Gilrandir 6th Feb 2017, 8:24 AM edit delete reply
My understanding is that the inhibitor applies to any hardwired behavioral directive. All Cassians are supposedly hardwired for loyalty to the Throne of Roma, except for Kali who, as a special case, was hardwired for loyalty to the House of Livius. But perhaps I have it wrongly ...?
HiFranc 6th Feb 2017, 4:21 PM edit delete reply

The inhibitor limits what they can do.

Her fear is that a cyberpath would be able to see what is not there and / or wrongly perceive what is there, make her think and feel things that are against her personality, remove their ability to think or feel at all, etc.

They know that they are slaves bound to the will of the throne. They can still think what they like, feel what they like and, where permitted, do what they like. Whereas the stories say that a cyberpath can take all that away from them. Can make them slaves who are unaware that they are or even welcome it.
Gilrandir 6th Feb 2017, 4:59 PM edit delete reply
Taking all that into account, @HiFranc, how is it relevant to the issue of whether or not the inhibitor should or should not be compelling compliance with the cease-fire order? Are you proposing that there is a certain amount of fear that causes a Cassian's inhibitor to become irrelevant and frees them from any programmed constraints on their behavior? That they can do whatever they want, as long as they are "scared enough" to justify it?
HiFranc 6th Feb 2017, 5:47 PM edit delete reply

I was just replying to the question about what's different between the cyberpath and the inhibitor. As to why the order still stands - see Stormwind's post at the bottom.
Gilrandir 6th Feb 2017, 6:56 PM edit delete reply
Ah, I understand now. Thank you.
megados 6th Feb 2017, 5:28 AM edit delete reply

@Gilrandir, the only thing I found with regard to Noctis being given a direct order regarding Dr Silver is HERE, where she's basically told to get the comms back up, and she gives them the door code. I don't recall her being given any other orders. They have spoken together at length since, and respectfully on both sides of the conversation.

Noctis herself is "creeped out" by Dr. Silver, and understandably. Imagine someone who could take over your mind at will . . . .

As I understand it, Astraea was told to guard the door and kill anything that comes out. I don't remember any order given that would negate that. Not to her or Astraea. I'm not sure I see where Noctis would order Astraea to stand down unless told to do so, and not doing so would end in the elimination of what Noctis probably sees as a threat (to the Cassians, at least). Astraea sees her as "Monster".

It's hard to say what the other Cassians are doing, because I guess that would depend on what they WERE doing, and whether they are aware of Kali's demise, and Noctis' ascension to Princeps, and what Noctis has directed since then, and the timeline of the period when Tennyo's comms were damaged, and when they were repaired.

I do believe that Noctis considers Maxus Lord Regent, and Lord General both. If he does order to do something, so far as I see, she does it. I just don't see, (or maybe I'm missing) that he's told her anything regarding this particular instance.

I have been totally wrong before though . . . .

So now we wait . . . :-)
Gilrandir 6th Feb 2017, 8:15 AM edit delete reply
Unethical generals would probably love it if the common, accepted practice in wartime were "Look, how about if all your guys stop shooting at us and most of our guys stop shooting at you? You're okay with that, right? We promise to let you know when it's okay for you to start shooting back at us again."
megados 6th Feb 2017, 1:06 PM edit delete reply

While I totally agree with your statement, Maxus has been, first, fairly distracted by the attempt on his life, and then the events which followed. Isn't it possible he simply is not aware of some details as yet? Given the pace of recent events, I might be inclined to guess it is. He may not have been aware that Astraea was assigned there.
Gilrandir 6th Feb 2017, 1:36 PM edit delete reply
I suspect, @megados, that Maxus does not know what orders Astraea was given, or he would have taken steps. I could be wrong, however.
megados 6th Feb 2017, 3:47 PM edit delete reply

That is my belief also, @Gilrandir. I will also go out on a limb, and say that I don't think he will be happy.
Sheela 6th Feb 2017, 5:14 PM edit delete reply

It should be noted, that Maxus *do* know that Astrea is under orders to kill anything exiting the network node.

However, his orders were to reconnect the hardline (which was done), not to spare the cyberpath's life.
A small difference, that Noctis is betting her life on.
Gilrandir 6th Feb 2017, 5:41 PM edit delete reply
Well spotted, @Sheela. Thank you.
megados 6th Feb 2017, 5:46 PM edit delete reply

You are right, @Sheela, I had forgotten it. At this point, I have to agree that Noctis is taking a gamble. Her discomfort with Dr Silver must be greater than even I imagined. Either that or there is still more to it that we don't know yet. Maxus knows and did not have her stand down. I wonder why? Would it be possible he thought Silver was going to take another route? Possibly perceives her as a threat, because Noctis does? Sometimes answers to questions only give rise to more questions.

I go out on a limb; Sheela cuts it off . . . OK, I see how this works . . . :-P

Anyway, thanks for the reminder. :-D
Timotheus 6th Feb 2017, 6:33 PM edit delete reply

I had forgotten that exchange as well. In which case I can only say that General Marcus must have either forgotten the sniper aspect of the situation in the turmoil of changing situations or relegated it in his mind into the general communications situation and assumed it would be taken care of as a matter of course, not realizing it would take a specific order to counter.
Sheela 7th Feb 2017, 8:46 AM edit delete reply

Or maybe Maxus don't like cyberpaths either.

Alternatively, we're looking at the flipside of operational security.
Haegan2005 5th Feb 2017, 10:35 PM edit delete reply

This cannot be good. So, if she goes down, it gets really real in Roma.

And that cannot be good.

HeSerpenty 5th Feb 2017, 10:48 PM edit delete reply

Centcomm 5th Feb 2017, 11:04 PM edit delete reply

yeah that about covers the oncoming storm.
Rashala 6th Feb 2017, 12:17 AM edit delete reply

There is always a chance its gun just blew up instead of fireing
mjkj 6th Feb 2017, 12:54 AM edit delete reply

Hmmm, did Astraea not hear about the ceasefire?

Is the ceasefire now off?

Will Astraea survive that?

@author note: indeed, Cent, indeed. Thank you for that...

Gilrandir 6th Feb 2017, 1:12 AM edit delete reply
Perhaps the best option at this point would be for Dr. Silver to survive the attack, reach out with her brain and demonstrate that all of Noctis' fears are perfectly justified. She puppets Astraea back home to New Troy and has a new, sexy, heavily-armed lab tech at her beck and call from now on.

Unfortunately, we are told (by commentary) that this is not possible for any cyberpath other than Tokyo Rose. ^_^
Visvires 7th Feb 2017, 8:20 AM edit delete reply
No way they don't hear about this. Noctis is going to be in deep trouble, fatality or no.
Gilrandir 7th Feb 2017, 9:46 AM edit delete reply
Actually, if the sniper is successful, it could be quite some time before they start wondering "What could be keeping Dr. Silver?"
megados 7th Feb 2017, 5:15 PM edit delete reply

Could it be possible that those drones have some comm capability?
Mark_L_A 6th Feb 2017, 1:09 AM edit delete reply

I hope her barrier shield is set to auto. Otherwise she is a goner.
cattservant 6th Feb 2017, 4:20 AM edit delete reply

That's a lot of muzzle flash for a sniper gun...
Visvires 6th Feb 2017, 7:00 AM edit delete reply
Noctis, you had one job. Well, actually, you had more than one job. But calling this off was one of them.

Dr. Silver gets a sniper. No one thinks twice about the talking head. No consistency in the terror.
Gilrandir 6th Feb 2017, 8:00 AM edit delete reply
Morituri 8th Feb 2017, 9:30 AM edit delete reply
She already knew there was a cyberpath in play when the talking head happened. No matter what it said or what anybody else thought, she has to have assumed it's the same one.

At the very least, though, she has an opportunity to take a shot at this one. I'm quite sure if she had the opportunity to take a shot at another she wouldn't hesitate.
Dragonrider 6th Feb 2017, 9:28 AM edit delete reply

One thing which has been ignored here is the fact that while Veronica Silver is a Bitch (note capital B) she is an extremely intelligent one. She knew she would be a target the minute she walked out the door, as she is the deadliest weapon New Troy deployed in this mission. Single handedly she and her drones cleared the skies of the home court air power, used their own communications to send them "looking for dickheads lost lollypop" effectively ran Nova Roma at leisure. She would have been ready for a sniper attack against her the minute she stopped to smell the napalm outside the building she was in. She certainly would have a R/T visual of the area she needed to cover to get to the Exfil point. Either she has super, over the top shielding, or that is not actually her. We know it's not a hologram as it cast a shadow in panel one most likely scenario that is an android that looks like her to draw fire and allow her drones to take action. As with comments from everyone this is my FWIW (for what its worth) take after reflection.

Edit note remember she was able to pack one hell of an amount of tech gear in a very small space. it's entirely possibly those orbs she had inside were configured to build this walking target when she left.
Gilrandir 6th Feb 2017, 10:14 AM edit delete reply
You raise an excellent point, @Dragonrider, that this is not Dr. Silver's first dance. She will know the threat of snipers on the battlefield and (unless necessary for plot purposes) take all reasonable precautions against it.

Sadly, one of the reasons snipers have been a mainstay of war since ... forever, is that there aren't a lot of reasonable precautions against them that are terribly effective. Otherwise, troops today would be using the modern-day equivalent of those protections and snipers would have gone the way of the phalanx. However, with enough magic-tech, who knows what is possible?
CptKerion 6th Feb 2017, 11:25 AM edit delete reply
The effective counters to snipers consist of air support, artillery support, and in the case of AMRs, heavy armored vehicles.
To deploy these, you must first know the snipers are there. So far as we're aware, Silver is unaware of the Cassians' comm network.
I also have my doubts that her personal shield is sufficient to stop the setting's era equivalent of an AMR.
On the flip side, I don't think the authors want to kill her off just yet, I get the sense that they want to do more with her than ventilate her here and now.
Shit also is unlikely to get too far out of hand from this as Maxus will not let it do so, and since he is now the regent of Nova Roma, the Cassians must answer to him.
Gilrandir 6th Feb 2017, 11:40 AM edit delete reply
@CptKerion --
"..., the Cassians must answer to him."

When they are not circumventing his orders. ^_^

If we start splitting legal hairs, he may not be Lord Regent until confirmed by the Senate. If we start spitting legal heirs (Oh wait! We did that! ^_^), he might end up as Imperator.
Sheela 7th Feb 2017, 8:24 AM edit delete reply

A small, directional barrier shield would probably be the most effective counter.
Visvires 7th Feb 2017, 8:24 AM edit delete reply
Trouble is, she was told a ceasefire was in effect. She's not the first person to walk up to the other side in less-than-ready fashion. We've had several pages of people with their guard down, or at least not fully up. She's just the first one to get betrayed.
Sheela 7th Feb 2017, 8:45 AM edit delete reply

True, but the drones are less likely to be caught unawares.

And they too, could have a small, but quickly deployed, barrier shield.
Gilrandir 7th Feb 2017, 9:50 AM edit delete reply
As a general rule, one would expect that by the time you detect an incoming Mach 7 projectile it is already through its target. Positioning a shield at that point would be very much a case of 'too little, too late'.

However, I understand they are doing wonderful things with technology these days. ^_^
Gilrandir 6th Feb 2017, 10:31 AM edit delete reply
On the plus side, the world currently has three major city states; so, after Nova Roma gets glassed, we will still have New Sparta as a spare in case something happens to New Troy. ^_^
HiFranc 6th Feb 2017, 4:27 PM edit delete reply

Correction: The North American continent has several major cities. You're forgetting Ahta. Tokyo Rose is in another and there have been hints about Europe.
Gilrandir 6th Feb 2017, 5:11 PM edit delete reply
I believe Tokyo Rose maintains her mailing address in Shinedo, which (for no good reason whatsoever) I have assumed to be located on the island nation formerly known as "Japan" with probable extensions to the lands touching the westernmost shores of the Pacific Ocean. Her actual location is (we are told) a Shinedo state secret.

My impression was that Ahta was a small town at best, not really considered politically independent or sovereign. However, I could easily be wrong about that. You are right that Europe is currently a big question mark.

And you raise another interesting point about the Datachaser's canon: Apparently, a community, no matter how populous or wealthy, is irrelevant and inconsequential if it is not home to an A.I.S. Even New Rome, with Aeneas in his crippled state, was considered to have a 'seat at the table', but biological-only communities are (apparently) just lumped in under the umbrella term 'Wasters'.

Luna may be an exception to this, since I don't think we have heard anything about whether they are playing host to an A.I.S. or not. But then the story is still unfolding ... ^_^

But yes, three sovereign city-states of note on the North American continent. Your point is well taken.
Sheela 7th Feb 2017, 8:27 AM edit delete reply

In the comments, Centcomm once said that the area near Copenhagen had an AIS named Ariel (as in the mermaid). And their focus was biotech and things like recycling and cleaning tech, such as filters.

I may, or may not, have been involved in that particular idea.
megados 7th Feb 2017, 12:29 PM edit delete reply

For all we know, you ARE Ariel, and not a dog at all! O_o
Sheela 8th Feb 2017, 9:45 AM edit delete reply

Well .... who's to say that Ariel does not enjoy being incognito every now and then ?

Imagine an AIS with world wide cell reception for it's dolls ?
It would be damn near unstoppable, if it decided on something.
Stormwind13 6th Feb 2017, 5:20 PM edit delete reply

I'm not sure WHOSE comment to direct this to, so I'll put it here and leave it at that.

First, on page Terminate With Extremely Justified Prejudice from 13 August 2015 (currently page 1233) Noctis realizes she is dealing with a cyberpath. Her orders are blunt and to the point. KILL THE CYBERPATH.

She calls for the message to be disseminated over the sub-net. First she makes all aware of the suspected cyberpath in or near the palace network hub. All Cassians are ABSOLUTELY ordered to maintain distance (well beyond Dr. Silver's range, but Noctis isn't taking chances) that can't be contravened except by direct order by their Princeps.

Next she details Astraea to a sniping position over the hub outside the proscribed zone. Until ordered to stand down she is to shoot anything that emerges from the hub, regardless of identification. Human, machine or android kill it immediately. DO NOT HESITATE.

Noctis considers the threat of the cyberpath to be so severe that she would rather have Nova Roma BURN to the ground rather than harbor such a monster!

This was BEFORE she was given carte blanche by Douchimus to implement her plan. Her programming is supposed to "...defend the throne and the royal line." (Curiosity, 24 September 2014 <currently page 1088>, bottom panel). Followed up on the next page by (cries a little) CeCi asking about them serving the city too, which Noctis says, "That is the purpose for which we were made."

For her to believe that Nova Roma would be better off burned to the ground than allow Dr. Silver loose in the city speaks VOLUMES of Noctis' fear.

As has been pointed out, Maxus only ordered Noctis to allow them to restore communications on Restoring Communications from 16 March 2016 (current page 1335).

In fact, the exchange went:
Maxus - "Noctis?"
Noctis - "They are making use of a cyberpath."
Maxus - "Ah. I see. We need those comms."
Noctis - "It is a cyberpath, Lord General.
Maxus - "And this is an ORDER, Noctis."
Noctis- "Very well. I trust someone here can handle the task of reconnecting the hard line?..."

I do not believe (again as several people have now pointed out) that Maxus had ANY inkling that Noctis had ordered the assassination of Dr. Silver. Since he didn't realize it, he didn't order it stopped.

The ceasefire was for military units... not for a MONSTER that could destroy the city. Maxus might see it differently (being human almost certainly will), but Noctis is the one running that scenario. Until Maxus realizes the TRUE situation, he isn't going to take steps to counter it.

That is my take of the situation and why Noctis feels justified in risking official displeasure. She is running the risk of being removed as Princeps. She may even be courting her own destruction (if New Troy demands it for killing Dr. Silver). She has already picked her replacement, the best, most stable Cassian she can. But killing the cyberpath is so important that she is willing to risk it. She might be destroyed on her mission to protect Acantha because of it, but... the fear of the cyberpath overrides it all.
Gilrandir 6th Feb 2017, 5:38 PM edit delete reply
Well researched, as always, @Stormwind13. I will express my opinion about a couple of points:

* - We never see Maxus actually order the cease-fire, but is anyone seriously suggesting he negotiated the cease fire and then didn't order it? In which case, why aren't Nova Roma's troops continuing to wreak havoc on Memento Mori, and why isn't Marcus hearing about it?
* - I consider very dubious the contention of all the people arguing that the cease-fire applies only to military units since Memento Mori isn't a military unit! They are a bunch of civilian rebels organized as a crude resistance. Arguably the cease fire applies to anyone working with them, and Dr. Silver was working with them.
* - As @Sheela pointed out, Maxus was informed of Astraea's mission before the cease-fire (assuming he understood that by "neutralize" Noctis meant "kill").
* - Are you asserting that, if Noctis just gets scared enough or emotional enough, she develops the capability to defy commands issued to her by Maxus acting in his role as Lord General in defense of the city and for the restoration of public order? Because it seems to me that no matter how much she wants to betray his honor and kill the cyberpath in contravention to his given word, her inhibitor should be preventing her from so doing, by action or inaction. If she does get the option (given sufficiently intense emotional response) to disobey orders -- and I admit that is certainly a way for the story to go -- then I repeat that it throws an interesting light on all the earlier implied orders of Decimus that apparently she wasn't sufficiently emotionally invested in to disobey.
megados 6th Feb 2017, 6:22 PM edit delete reply

As Gilrandir notes, that is a well thought out synopsis, @Stormwind13. Here, though, (as Sheela pointed out), it is clear that Maxus DOES know, so as Gilrandir points out, either Maxus is unclear about Noctis' statement, or has reasons of his own. I certainly hope they do not lay all of this on Noctis; she was not ordered to stand down. If Noctis is to be destroyed over this, it would be a huge injustice IMHO.

I do believe as I always have, and completely agree, that Noctis' fear is very real, and that was her original motivation, but here, as both you and I referred to, Maxus gives her an order pertaining to the cyberpath, and after initially balking, she complies. I don't think her fear overrides her sensibilities, or her inhibitor. If it did, she would have resisted a lot more, I'm inclined to think.

At this point, I really don't know what to think. *edit: The only things that come to mind is whether Maxus knew what Noctis meant by 'neutralize', but he should have . . . it's a common term, or whether Maxus forgot about this detail.

And thank you Stormwind13
Sheela 7th Feb 2017, 8:36 AM edit delete reply

On the page that I referred to, Maxus showed surprise that the Cyberpath was still alive.
Also, he calls Dr Silver "a mutant", for all we know, Maxus may not like mutants much, despite his own "upbringing".

I'm fairly certain, that he understands that "neutralize" means "kill".
megados 7th Feb 2017, 8:55 AM edit delete reply

Agreed, @Sheela. That leaves me with Maxus forgot, or didn't think it important, (highly unlikely), or that he takes the perceived threat to the Cassians seriously. It is incumbent on a military leader to minimize casualties to those under his command, (much more likely). Both of these are pure supposition and conjecture, though, and there could be reasons that I have not even considered.


I also think that Noctis would be willing to take the fall for it, if it keeps Maxus in the clear. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.
Dragonrider 6th Feb 2017, 6:50 PM edit delete reply

Another FWIW my .00005 cents worth Noctis knows her orders from Maxus superseded any from dickhead, knows what orders she gave, she believes the orders she gave were necessary for the protection of both Nova Roma and the House Livis therefore her inhibitor is moot because she is acting within the paradigm used in her creation matrix. Will she face sanctions up to and including a memory wipe or self destruct under orders? Yes, however the question is moot again if Silver is assassinated Nova Roma might as well have had Dickheads programs do their thing because New Troy sure as hell will reek havoc, death and destruction.

Now here is another off the wall suggestion, what if that was only an Android Body of Silver all along and Silver herself is back either in her lab, or a frozen corpsesicle like Rose and has been for many, many years?
megados 6th Feb 2017, 7:14 PM edit delete reply

@Dragonrider, There have been a few speculations about it not being the real Dr. Silver, but yours is unique. That's something that hasn't been considered yet. It makes another good point.
Gilrandir 6th Feb 2017, 6:53 PM edit delete reply
Maybe Astraea is using beanbag rounds ... which are then being heated by friction into a superheated ionized plasma. ^_^
velvetsanity 6th Feb 2017, 10:03 PM edit delete reply

Something nobody's considered yet.

There's a very good chance that Silver is aware of the sniper. And also the nature of the sniper. How/why? She has drones, plus the communications network at her beck and call. How do we know she isn't using those resources in combination with her abilities to trick Astraea's senses into seeing what isn't there? Hologram was mentioned as a possibility, but this wasn't.
Dragonrider 6th Feb 2017, 11:44 PM edit delete reply

Good thought but in panel 1 she is throwing a shadow, holding out for android as Sheela suggested.
Dragonrider 6th Feb 2017, 11:47 PM edit delete reply

We are only about thirty votes ahead of number 9 and 200+ behind 7 lets get voting remember I gave a way to legally vote twice a day.
megados 7th Feb 2017, 7:15 AM edit delete reply

If it's a sensory trick, there is no reason that it couldn't include a shadow . . . Just sayin'
Speedy Marsh 8th Apr 2017, 12:46 PM edit delete reply
If it is a trick, then in panel 1, someone or something other than Astraea is seeing it. The views in panel 1 and panel 2 are from very different angles, so the only way Astraea could be seeing the view in panel 1, is if she's linked to some sort of camera at a different location.

If panel 1 is a camera's view, then Silver could be tricking both the camera and Astraea. If not, and panel 1 is our perspective, then any trick would have to at least appear to be casting a shadow, from any viewpoint.

If it's a doll, then it would of course cast a shadow. If it's a hologram, then the shadow itself could be a hologram. Or, the hologram could be opaque, casting a shadow. We were told in the comments, a couple of pages ago, that the floating screens NT uses are based on force fields. Maybe a hologram is an opaque version of that.

If Silver somehow knows specifically about the sniper sent to kill her, she might have even gone through the door that the lady bringing the coffee entered from, found a body that kinda looked like her, and put her armor on it. It doesn't look like mechanized armor, but who knows.

She could even be driving the body's muscles, by sending electrical impulses from the suit through the body's skin, like my TENS(Transdermal Electrical Neurostimulation) unit does.

Instead of a dead body, she could have put the communications tech lady in her armor, although I'm not sure Doc Silver is that coldblooded. Silver could've told her that she'd let her go, if she'd create a diversion to help Silver escape. The Nova Romans don't know what Silver looks like, and if the rail gun does penetrate the shields, there won't be any facial features left to identify her as the comm tech. Silver would probably be long gone, before they got around to identifying the body.
StellarJay 7th Feb 2017, 2:38 AM edit delete reply

If Dr. Silver is killed by this action, what becomes of the drones? No longer under her control, do they drop dead with her or go wild killing everything in sight?
Visvires 7th Feb 2017, 8:19 AM edit delete reply
If I had such drones, I'd want to have them set to tear after my killer, on conditions that my death was confirmed and the attack was clearly deliberate. I don't know how much programming can be done for those - how smart can they be made without making them self-aware?
Sheela 7th Feb 2017, 8:42 AM edit delete reply

I suspect they would be smart enough to seek other commanding officers, ie. Marcus.

It is canon that they are very smart.
Visvires 7th Feb 2017, 4:12 PM edit delete reply
If she's clearly dead, seeking other commanding officers really doesn't do it, at least not to my sensibilities. Calculating the trajectory and unleashing all available firepower, on the other hand...
Sheela 8th Feb 2017, 9:46 AM edit delete reply

Oh they would attack the attacker, no doubt.
But after that is good and well destroyed, they would seek out Marcus, I think.
Rigor 7th Feb 2017, 8:01 PM edit delete reply
Fascinating discussion. I just wonder why did she waste time talking when she should shooting? Maybe androids don't breathe it talking would still degrade her aim.
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