The Dark Powertronic timeline (a slight digression)

I thought this better done outside the comment stream of The Dark Powertronic timeline, given the length. I’m not sure the timeline quite works, but for the purposes of comic books it’s probably okay. Feel free to disregard if it contains any significant problems.

I said:

Dr. Quill would definitely not sell AEGIS weapon technology. But it could have been hacked from his systems. Or he might have deployed it himself (as an orbital mining system, as an orbital energy transmission system, as an orbital asteroid defense system) and had it taken over / compromised / confiscated / blackmailed away by AEGIS.

A Year of So Ago …

“God damn it to fucking hell!”

“Uh-oh. When you start cursing, I know something’s wrong.”

“We’ve been hacked.”


“An off-network secure site where I put some of my more … obscure research.”

“Dammit, Byron, if it’s outside our firewalls, we can’t protect it. I’ve told you that.”

“But if it’s inside, it’s a target. Anyone coming after us might come across it. And … that would associate it with us, if it were found. Either of those could be problematic.”

“All right, that sounds properly ominous. What did they get away with?”

“All my research information on Specimen X23.”

“All right. I’ll bite.”

“Northeast Congo basin. We were following up on reports of another Primordials complex.”

“Yeah, I remem–wait, Specimen X23? The Elkinator?”

“Dammit, Rusty --”

“It’s better than your idea was.”

“The Doom Moose?”

“I rest my case.”

“Anyway, Specimen X23 …”

“Yeah. Whoosh. That was a tough one. I’m not sure how we managed to finally kill it.”

“I’m not sure what was actually keeping it alive.”


“At any rate, that cut short the expedition, but I had the remains of the specimen brought back here for further research. That energy beam it fired–”

“Something like that would be awfully dangerous if someone – wait, you’re telling me --?”

“I figured out how to replicate the effect. Weaponize it, potentially. It uses power of an amazingly new and unfamiliar nature – shunting over force from some sort of parallel, high energy state universe --”

“High energy is right. I know, I was there. What on Earth could you possibly want that much energy for?”

“Any number of things, potentially. In the long run, a solution to the energy crisis. Incredible new propulsion systems. But most important, in the short term …”


“Did you read that memo I sent you, nine months back or so, about new asteroid data being reported back from QBase, on the Moon?”

“I got to confess, love, I only read the ones with short subject lines in a few, low-syllable words I can understand.”

“You’re smarter than that.”

“But I have a short attention span. What was in the memo?”

“We’ve been doing calculations on asteroid and meteor strikes and near misses on Earth, using both historic geological data and improved astronomical analysis of .”


“The density of near-space bodies that could – or will – intercept Earth has been slowly increasing over the past fifteen thousand years or so.”

“Why would that be?”

“Difficult to say. There could be a largely undetected belt of such space material, in an eccentric, precessing orbit, that we’ve been more closely aligning with during that time.”

“Or aliens could be throwing more rocks at us.”

“C’mon, Rusty, that’s paranoid even for you.”

“Given the stuff we run into? At any rate, what sort of odds are we looking at?”

“Not high. Not yet. But the best numbers we can crunch, indicate a cataclysmic collision is at least even odds to occur in the next five hundred years.”

“Well, that gives us some time --”

“The over-under on that is significant, Rusty. It could be five hundred years. It could be tomorrow. And our threshold for ‘cataclysmic’ was up to 25% of the human population dead from the impact, from the collapse of the environment and economies and food transport. If you go for less horrifying results, the odds go way up.”

“So the Elkinator tech --”

“The theoretical workings of the energy forces wielded by Specimen X23 could allow for an energy beam powerful enough it could be used to destroy even a K/Pg impactor body, the sort of thing that triggered the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event some 66 million --”

“Dammit, Byron, you wouldn’t put a weapon like that on top a mountain here on Earth, would you?”

“That would greatly impact its firing arc, and the use of such an energy source originating on the Earth’s surface, at that level, could have its own devastating effects.”


“An orbital platform would clearly have the most flexibility, and would avoid the problems of --”

“And create a potentially world-devastating weapon if turned back toward the planet.”

“Yes, exactly, dammit, I know. After I’d done some initial write-ups of what such an orbiting platform would take, what it could do, I realized the danger.”

“Not enough to throw it all in the shredder.”

“Better to know than not know. But that’s why I’ve kept further research slow, quiet. I couldn’t let anyone know the full picture.”

“Even me?”

“We agreed there were always going to be some secrets, love. In both directions.”

“This seems a little different.”

“You’re right. I should have said something. You’re not the only professional paranoid here. But even with Chin gone, there are other hypergeniuses that could understand my work. If they got even a hint of it, or discovered more of those creatures or their associated ecosystem …”


“Something like that doesn’t evolve in a vacuum. What did it eat? How did it develop? Are there related life forms? Hell, Rusty, it could be related to the Primordials in some fashion, which opens a whole new bag of worms.”

“Great. Hey, wait. The Moores. Their kid, Joey.”

“Yes. I sent them to that area. The cover story was legitimate enough – the region is a vast reserve of potentially unknown or under-researched botanicals that could revolutionize medicine. But I was also looking for signs of that ecology I spoke of.”

“Or the ruins we were searching for.”

“Perhaps. I did give them some search grids to focus on, suggested they keep an eye out for some of the high-energy signature X23 had.”

“If there had been more of those creatures --”

“I know. But as it turned out, they were slain by the most dangerous creature of all: Man.”

“And the kid --”

“My research continues. Whatever happened to him, it doesn’t appear directly related to Specimen X23, except in the sense of it being unexplained and fantastic.”

“I hate ‘coincidences’ like that.”

“You and me both.”

“And this data hack?”

“The servers involved sent me a warning about it overnight. I just verified them. The data’s been copied and deleted. Dammit, Rusty, it should have been safe. I had it stored outside of where anyone would be likely to look for it.”

“Security through obscurity?”

“In part. As a first layer. I also slapped every firewall and protective software I could come up with. I even had Jason apply some of the AI he’s been toying with to create an additional layer of protection. The servers themselves are on the Internet for only one hour, each day, the exact time varying based on the decay of --”

"Right. Great defenses. Except they didn’t work."

“They didn’t work. That said, the data is triple-encrypted, using powerful enough algorithms that it sometimes made it difficult to get adequate throughput to the servers. And there are algorithms within the data itself that will start deleting data if correct codes aren’t entered in. In all likelihood, whoever got away with it got nothing.”

“In all likelihood. Sort of like in all likelihood, that giant asteroid isn’t going to bean us on the head in five minutes? Right, nothing to worry about.”

“I didn’t say that.”

Elsewhere …

“Well done, Agent 1337.”

“I like a fun challenge. How did we find that server, anyway? That whole setup screams hypergenius.”

“Turns out some other hypergenius sniffed it out. One of the black hats, Jan Beheer, I believe. We had fingers into his systems, and followed up on the lead before he bothered.”

“I got the first layer of encryption off, enough to know you’re going to need a lot of horsepower for what lies deeper in.”

“Horsepower we have.”

“And there’s some sneaky bits that are likely to trash the whole data pool if you don’t treat it right.”

“Good to know. We have teams ready to work on it, now that you’ve finished the extraction.”

“Good. Ugh. That was thirty-six hours I’d rather not repeat soon.”

“Take a couple of days off. You deserve it.”

“Thanks. Hey, one more thing. Do we know who it belongs to? Or even what’s in it?”

“That’s above my paygrade. Far as I know, it’s all anonymous at this point. I guess the assumption is, if someone was so eager to hide it, it’s probably pretty interesting.”

“Hey, if it’s some video game company stashing next-gen specs out somewhere they thought it would stay secret, let me know.”

“More likely old Dr. Chin plans for a giant robot or some other threat to the world. In any case, probably nothing that either of us will ever hear anything more about. Go home. See you Wednesday, Agent 1337.”

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  1. It was fun doing Byron and Rusty again. And doing that Old School JQ science-speak (I can just hear Dan Messick talking earnestly about “Specimen X23” and “the most dangerous creature of all”).

  2. The Alex fillip at the end is gratuitous and perhaps overly-tidy. The idea that some of Alex’ computer-related activities for AEGIS might have consequences that they are unaware of (perhaps by their own intent) is kind of cliche, but I thought it might be amusing (and need never be referenced again).

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