Monday, March 27, 2017

Dawn on Jefferson, Chapter Eleven: The Breaking Shadstorm

CHAPTER ELEVEN:  THE BREAKING SHADSTORM

Most of the time, I despise the silly word play games corrupting our awesome town’s name ino words that are less than wholesome.  It is a temptation the young boys who think they are funny and the less than happy cannot resist doing.  Our town’s founders just walked right into it with name ‘Shadwell.’

Most of the time, as I said, very annoying.  I entirely disapprove.  However, today, right here,right now, I find myself in the midst of the perfect Shadstorm.  

What’s a Shadstorm?  Some exotic alien weather pattern unique to Shadwell?

Its a storm, alright, but its not the weather.  

Shadstorms are when the parents of to go nuts over something.  There is often a lot of angry yelling, accusations and sometimes even name calling.  There are a few grudges held over past Shadstorms and some families had stigmas ever since.  In one case, the family move away to another town!

That was because Livia Curlless and her best friend Rohan Blake decided to go right up to the cliff edge of stupid crazy and take a flying leap, head first, right off.  Base jumping edition of megaderpage. With no parachute.  Face first.  Singing that classical music song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”  

Yes, really, that dumb.

You see, they decided for their science project, they were going to study the life cycle of the taxito.  Livia, in her infinite genius, decided they needed to breed those highly deadly Jefflie bugs inside the school.  Bites from those vicious little things can cause anaphylactic shock in human beings.  I told you about them when my Dad and I were walking from his farm to school already, remember.

Yes, this brilliant plan was executed inside the school.  Inside where no one wears their leathers as protection.  Inside where a swarm of taxitos might bite many many kids and kill several before the nurses could administer antidotes.  

Yes, we have protections in case the seals ever break and taxitos get in.  No system is perfect and these two megaderps took it way past stupid.

These two geniuses started growing with the intent to breed, taxitos inside the school.  They did have a sealed terrarium.  No taxitos escaped to terrorize the school.  However!  To get eggs even into the school without being detected - I mentioned the protections from dangerous critters getting in, right? - these two megaderps disabled the sensors in the area they snuck the taxito eggs into.  They did not want to get caught - so why the school!?! derporable megaderpage! -  and they did not want the emergency drones popping out of the wall and zapping the taxito egs dad immediately.  Those drones are standard in every room in a building on Jefferson, just like a smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector or nannite alarm.  Normally they sit in a small sconce on the wall until if and when Jefflife is detected in the room and they come out zapping with their mini lasers.

Raising the taxitos would have caused a small storm.  BUT!  BUT!  BUT!  BIG HAIRY STINKY SMELLY BUT!

The geniuses left the detection equipment off.  And even wild taxitos could have gotten in.  Livia and Rohan were worried the defenses would detect the taxitos in the terrarium and attack it as well as set off alarms.  And gotten them in trouble.

As if they were going to get away with their plan...In the school?!  Really?!

A teacher smelled the taxito larva hatching - they smell like cinnamon buns and Mr. Gutierrez has a serious weakness for cinnamon buns, so he followed his nose into the broom closet.  And...then he quickly called for help they removed the taxitos and left a surveillance drone waiting for whomever was doing the megaderp.

In walked Livia and Rohan and BOOM!  Totally busted.

The Shadstorm that caused was huge.  Both families decided it would be better to move away than put up with the storm.  The worst part after though was Kat’s Mom.  Kat was friend before she met Kalen.  Then she became an aderpable.  We’ll discuss all the other derp types another time.  Kat’s Mom just kept harassing Livia and Rohan’s families.  That was the final straw and they moved away.

Oh the dark side of living in a small town!

Sadly though, my Shadstorm was far, far worse than some megaderpage.

My Shadstorm actually mattered more than just my hometown.  It affected the whole of the American planet of Jefferson and, even more so, all of the interstellar United States.

Uninvited Indian soldiers on an American planet was an act of war.

So, yeah, my Shadstorm was ten times worse than poor Livia and Rohan’s.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Terminator Times #29

Drones:


DARPA seems to be revisiting the British Skyhook concept with an arrestor hook and catapult in its SideArm project.

DARPA's OFFST program is going to explore drone swarm tactics.

Australia has selected the CamCopter for its navy VTOl drone requiremen and unveiled its plans for a mix of manned and unmanned platforms.

China is offering its AR-2 missile meant for UAVs to foreign countries.

Daesh is using drones to drop bombs.

Israel's Flying Production has unveiled new UAVs.

Unmanned Ground Vehicles:

Lockheed is working on their own UGVs.

Software Bots:

MIT has an annual AI vs AI wargame.

3d Printing:

The European Defense Agency is looking at 3d printing.

Counter Drone:

The US Army has contracted SRC to develop counter UAV tech.

More on the US Navy Spike missile tests against drones.

META:

The US Navy has eliminated the unmanned systems office.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Paleolithic Papers #13

Genus Homo:

Brain size and tooth size were not linked during human evolution.

Stone tools can be examined for the types of plants they were used on.

Asian populations are genetically contiguous with their stone age predecessors.

Did the first humans arrive in North America much earlier than previously thought?

Modern Humans (Homo sapiens):

Tibet may have been occupied by modern humans by the end of the Pleistocene.

Paleolithic cave art started out as public art and became private over time.

The environment of Shanxi, China during the late Pleistocene.

Human remains of the Mesolithic of South Africa.

Foraging patterns have persisted in New Guinea since the terminal Pleistocene despite the advent of farming.

Neandertals (Homo neanderthalensis):

The underrated genius of Neandertals.

Neandertals get praised and examined in the NY Times.

Neandertals were rock collectors.

Examining the molars of Neandertals.

Reconstructing the diet of Neandertals at El Sidrón, Spain.

How did Neandetals spread to the Greek Island of Naxos?  Boats?

Homo naledi:

Examining the ribs and vertebra of H. naledi.

Genus Australopithecus:

A. sediba:

A sediba was adapted to tree climbing as well as bipedal walking.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Stealth Saga #61

KF-X:

Indonesia's participation in the South Korean KF-X program has hit a snag over licensing issues for American technologies: they have not been approved to be licensed to Indonesia.

PAK-FA:

The PAK-FA's engine  has been delayed to at least 2020.

The Russians are also signalling production for the PAK-FA, even with a interim engine, has been delayed past 2018.

The Russians and Indians will be bringing a light weight version of the  BrahMos missile to the PAK-FA.

Russian Fifth Generation Fighters:

Mikoyan will develop a 5th generation fighter alongside the PAK-FA. 

TF-X:

The British are helping Turkey build their 5th gen TF-X fighter.

KC-Z:

Lockheed has unveiled its KC-Z concept.

B-21:

Northrop had its B-21 contract modified.

The B-21 will be networked.

B-2:

The B-2 strikes in Libya were used as training exercises.

B-2s trained with F-22s, B-1s and Aussies.

F-22:

The F-22 upgrade has been delayed again.

F-35:

President Trump really does support the F-35 according to SecDef Mattis.

Lockheed's prez stated a deal was close for the next 90 F-35s.  President Trump claims to have helped reduce the price of the F-35 for the next lot purchase by $600 million.  The real amount appears to be over $700 million with the F-35A now costing $94 million each.  Some think the amount saved isn't real.  Some are head scratching over Trump and the F-35.

If Trump wants to reduce the F-35 price, it has been suggested he needs to compete the engine.

SecDef Mattis has ordered a review of the F-35 program, and specifically, a comparison of the Advanced Super Hornet and the F-35C.  The USMC will participate in the review and appears to be confident the F-35 will come out the winner.

The F-35A received a 15:1 kill ratio at the Red Flag exercises.  Some are claiming that was because of the F-22s.

The F-35A will appear at an Australian Airshow.

F-35B, if canceled, will cause problems for the USMC.

First west coast F-35C squadron has been stood up.

Friday, February 10, 2017

CRISPR COWS! CRISPR Used to Create Bovine Tuberculosis Resistant Cows

CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology has been used for the first time to successfully produce live cows with increased resistance to bovine tuberculosis, reports new research published in the open access journal Genome Biology.

The researchers, from the College of Veterinary Medicine, Northwest A&F University in Shaanxi, China, used a modified version of the CRISPR gene-editing technology to insert a new gene into the cow genome with no detected off target effects on the animals genetics (a common problem when creating transgenic animals using CRISPR).

Dr Yong Zhang, lead author of the research, said: "We used a novel version of the CRISPR system called CRISPR/Cas9n to successfully insert a tuberculosis resistance gene, called NRAMP1, into the cow genome. We were then able to successfully develop live cows carrying increased resistance to tuberculosis. Importantly, our method produced no off target effects on the cow genetics meaning that the CRISPR technology we employed may be better suited to producing transgenic livestock with purposefully manipulated genetics."

Modeling the Mantles of Icy Moons

Heat transport in the high-pressure ice mantle of large icy moons

Authors:

Choblet et al

Abstract:

While the existence of a buried ocean sandwiched between surface ice and high-pressure (HP) polymorphs of ice emerges as the most plausible structure for the hundreds-of-kilometers thick hydrospheres within large icy moons of the Solar System (Ganymede, Callisto, Titan), little is known about the thermal structure of the deep HP ice mantle and its dynamics, possibly involving melt production and extraction. This has major implications for the thermal history of these objects as well as on the habitability of their ocean as the HP ice mantle is presumed to limit chemical transport from the rock component to the ocean. Here, we describe 3D spherical simulations of subsolidus thermal convection tailored to the specific structure of the HP ice mantle of large icy moons. Melt production is monitored and melt transport is simplified by assuming instantaneous extraction to the ocean above. The two controlling parameters for these models are the rheology of ice VI and the heat flux from the rock core. Reasonable end-members are considered for both parameters as disagreement remains on the former (especially the pressure effect on viscosity) and as the latter is expected to vary significantly during the moon’s history. We show that the heat power produced by radioactive decay within the rock core is mainly transported through the HP ice mantle by melt extraction to the ocean, with most of the melt produced directly above the rock/water interface. While the average temperature in the bulk of the HP ice mantle is always relatively cool when compared to the value at the interface with the rock core (∼ 5 K above the value at the surface of the HP ice mantle), maximum temperatures at all depths are close to the melting point, often leading to the interconnection of a melt path via hot convective plume conduits throughout the HP ice mantle. Overall, we predict long periods of time during these moons’ history where water generated in contact with the rock core is transported to the above ocean.

Primordial Martian Atmosphere had Little Carbon Dioxide?


The CO2 level in Mars' primitive atmosphere 3.5 billion years ago was too low for sediments, such as those found by NASA's Curiosity exploration vehicle in areas like the Gale Crater on the planet's equator, to be deposited. This and other conclusions are drawn from a paper written with the participation of researchers from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and published in the latest issue of the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The area Curiosity has been analysing since 2012, as part of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, is composed primarily of sedimentary sequences deposited at the bottom of a lake 3.5 billion years ago. These sediments contain various secondary minerals, such as clays or sulphates, which indicate that the primitive surface was in contact with liquid water.

The existence of liquid water requires a warm surface temperature brought about by a minimum content of CO2 in the atmosphere. Yet this was not the case with Mars in its beginnings. "This contradiction has two possible solutions. Either we have not yet developed climatic models which explain the environmental conditions on Mars at the beginning of its history, or the Gale sedimentary sequences really did form in a very cold climate. The second option is the most reasonable", explains CSIC researcher Alberto Fairén, who works at the Centre for Astrobiology near Madrid (a joint centre run by CSIC and Spain's National Institute of Aerospace Technology).

[...]

"However, the rover has not found carbonates, thereby confirming the results of studies by all previous probes: carbonates are very scarce on the surface of Mars and, therefore, the CO2 level in the atmosphere was very low", adds. Fairén.

Boeing Unveiled its Spacesuits for Passengers on its CST-100 Starliner Capsule



link.

The Coming Cyber War #24

Cyber Warfare:

Cyberwarfare is a high priority for the US military.

The US Army needs to be ready to fight a multi domain war tomorrow (including cyber).

Is the US really ready for meme warfare?

How vulnerable is the US Navy to cyberattacks?

How Russia has built its hacker team. 

A heretical POV on the Russo-American hacker war.

Russia says its facing increased cyber attacks.

Conscripts in the Baltic nations are selecting cyberwarfare over infantry.

Ukraine is denying the Russians tracked its artillery units with malware.

Ukraine did have its power grid taken down via a cyber attack though.

Cyber Security:

box.com plugged a major data leak.

The was a very large increase in the use of encrypted web traffic in 2016.

Smart electricity meters can be dangerously insecure

Trump stated no computer is secure.

Rudy Guiliani, Trump's cyber security 'expert,'  doesn't seem to know much on the subject and has a very hackable website.

The WaPo claimed Russian hackers compromised a vermont electrical grid.  However, the WaPo semi retracted stating computers at the electrical system were compromised, but not the electrical grid itself.

Protecting quantum computers from hacking.

A British developed method of distributing quantum keys is being tested.

Trump being unwilling to give up his private phone is a huge national security risk.

IARPA is seeking ways to verify integrated circuits and chips are not compromised on the hardware level.

Cisco patched a security vulnerability in their Prime Home software.

A zero day exploit for Microsoft windows can cause a blue screen of death.

Microsoft is ending its security bulletins this month.

A greyhat hacker cracked 150,000 printers that were left unprotected online.

Could AI be used to patch systems automatically to counter botnets?

Many IOS apps are vulnerable to TLS hacking.

Google pressured many Android app developers to correct security flaws.

Pwn2own is offering several bounties for security flaws.

The US Army's security bounty program has paid out over $100,000.

Android's pattern lock system can be cracked in 5 tries.

An alarming number of VPN apps for Android have viruses and malware embedded in them.

Samsung Galaxy phones can be remotely attacked and forced into an infinite reboot cycle.

Google has paid out over two million in its bug bounty program.

Google is claiming the only well behaved anti virus software is Microsoft's.

NetGear has a lot of very flawed consumer products.

Cyber Espionage:

The FBI details the hacking campaign during the US elections by the Russians. Trump's message has now shifted from the hacks were not real to they were not important to the election outcome.  In a moment of rationality, some are calling for getting ready for 2020 by protecting the critical infrastructure of the US elections.  Wikileaks is claiming Russia is not the source of the DNC hacked emails.  I'd be cautious about what Assange states: not only does he have an agenda, but it's written out in big flaming letters scrawled across the sky.  Russia, it is claimed, wants you to read the hacking report.

Secret rules make it easy for the FBI to spy on journalists.

Russia is extending Snowden's asylum and plans on offering him citizenship.

The Netherlands has become so concerned about cyber attacks during its elections, the ballots will be counted by hand.

Which US cities have the worst malware infection rates?

Google has been ordered to hand over emails stored on a foreign resident computer system unlike Microsoft.

Some are pointing out you can't talk Chelsea Manning without discussing Julian Assange.

Did the FSB try to hack the email account of Politkovskaya just prior to her murder?

Russia arrested three individuals for treason wrt espionage supposedly for the US.  This includes a top cyber security researcher at Kaspersky Labs.

Governments around the world shutdown their countries' internet access more than 50 times in 2016.

Twitter released a list of FBI requests that might be unconstitutional.

There is a massive twitterbot network

LeakedSource might be permanently shut down by the Feds.

Washington DC's CCTV system was hacked by parties unknown prior to the inauguration.

The US Congress passed a law stating old emails MUST have a warrant to be viewed.

Cyber Crime:

Anonymous supposedly hacked and took down over 10k darkweb sites.

Supposedly, cracking tools stolen from Cellebrite have been dumped online by the hacker. The original hack stole nearly a terabyte of data.

DRM company Denuvo left its email servers unsecured and two years of email have been dumped online by hackers.

More than 14,000 clients changed providers after the Mirai botnet attack on Dyn.

Hackers cracked a number of unsecured radio stations and began to play an Anti Trump song.

It is very easy to change other people's flight bookings, etc.

Koolova ransomware will unlock itself if you read two articles on ransomware.

LG helped a programmer remove ransomware very easily from his smart tv.

Ransomware shut down an Ohio town.

Thieves are pretending to be soldiers seeking love online and Hamas duped Israeli soldiers, hacking their phones, by pretending to be attractive women.  Remember the old tshirt: on the internet, no one knows you're a dog.

A student hacker faces a decade in prison because his spyware infected over 16,000 computers.

Vizio secretly tracked the owners of TVs made by them.

The first malware for Macs of 2017 has been spotted in the wild.

Did a Rutgers University student create the massive mirai botnet?

Lavabit is relaunching.

The FTC dismantled two massive robocall networks.

A Canadian man had his laptop stolen and then found the thief via facebook and remote access software.  The police IDed the person.

The FBI is looking into the cyber attack that took down the Sundance Film Festival box office.

St Louis libraries have been eaten by ransomware.

The Cockrell Hill Police department lost years of evidence due to ransomware.

An Alpine hotel in Austria was attacked by ransomware.

A former Fed employee was fined for installing bitcoin software on a work computer.

Cyber attacks also have medical repercussions.

Two and a half million XBOX and Playstation players' passwords have been leaked online.

Russian hackers claim to have taken down the Africa Cup website.

Amazon Rain Forest NOT Pristine: Western Amazon has Over 450 Large Earthworks From 2,000 Years Ago



The Amazonian rainforest was transformed over two thousand years ago by ancient people who built hundreds of large, mysterious earthworks.

Findings by Brazilian and UK experts provide new evidence for how indigenous people lived in the Amazon before European people arrived in the region.

The ditched enclosures, in Acre state in the western Brazilian Amazon, were concealed for centuries by trees. Modern deforestation has allowed the discovery of more than 450 of these large geometrical geoglyphs.

The function of these mysterious sites is still little understood - they are unlikely to be villages, since archaeologists recover very few artefacts during excavation. The layout doesn't suggest they were built for defensive reasons. It is thought they were used only sporadically, perhaps as ritual gathering places.

The structures are ditched enclosures that occupy roughly 13,000 km2. Their discovery challenges assumptions that the rainforest ecosystem has been untouched by humans.


 

Evidence of a Hopping, Bipedal Mammaliform From Cretaceous Korea

Korean trackway of a hopping, mammaliform trackmaker is global first from the Cretaceous

Authors:

Kim et al

Abstract:

A trackway of a small hopping mammaliform trackmaker from the Jinju Formation (Lower Cretaceous) of the Jinju City area, Korea, is the first of this type reported from the Mesozoic of Asia, and globally. The animal left a narrow trackway (∼20 mm wide) with small tetradactyl footprints averaging less than 10 mm in diameter. Only two footprints registered with each hop (mean length 41 mm) thus indicating a bipedal gait. All trackway evidence suggests a small “mouse-like” trackmaker. Previous reports of trackways made by hopping tetrapods from the Mesozoic are rare and presently restricted to ichnogenus Ameghinichnus isp. indet., from the Jurassic of Argentina. Ichnogenus Musaltipes from the Cenozoic of North America, is the only other ichnogenus representing a hopping mammal. The Korean specimen here named Koreasaltipes jinjuensis, is different from these aforementioned ichnogenera in digit count, digit proportion and trackway configuration, as well as lack of tail trace. Koreasaltipes jinjuensis is from a lake shore paleoenvironment associated with nematode tracks (Cochlichnus isp.), other small tetrapod tracks attributed to avian theropods (birds), pterosaurs and crocodylomorphs, as well as larger saurischian dinosaurs.

How Birds got Their Wings


Ediacaran NeoProterozoic Skeletal Metazoan Cloudina was Separate From Other Ediacaran Lifeforms

Flexible and responsive growth strategy of the Ediacaran skeletal Cloudina from the Nama Group, Namibia

Authors:

Wood et al

Abstract:

The Ediacaran skeletal tubular putative metazoan Cloudina occurs globally in carbonate settings, which both provided lithified substrates and minimized the cost of skeletonization. Habitat and substrate preferences and the relationship of Cloudina to other metazoans have not been fully documented, so we know little as to its ecological demands or community dynamics. In situ Cloudina from the Nama Group, Namibia (ca. 550–541 Ma), formed mutually attached reefs composed of successive assemblages in shallow, high-energy environments, and also communities attached to either stromatolites in storm-influenced deep inner-ramp settings or thin microbial mats in lower-energy habitats. Each assemblage shows statistically distinct tube diameter cohorts, but in sum, Cloudina shows an exponential frequency distribution of diameter size. In reefs, we document a periodicity of size variation, where mean, minimum, and maximum tube diameters vary together and show a systematic increase toward the top of each assemblage. We conclude that most Nama Group Cloudina represent one ecologically generalist taxon with highly variable size, that size was environmentally mediated, and that Cloudina could respond rapidly to periodic environmental changes. While Nama Group skeletal metazoans coexisted with soft-bodied biota, there was no apparent ecological interaction, as they were segregated into lithified carbonate and non-lithified clastic microbial mat communities, respectively. We infer that ecological flexibility allowed Cloudina to form varied communities that colonized diverse carbonate substrates under low levels of interspecific substrate competition. This is in notable contrast to the earliest Cambrian skeletal epibenthos that formed biodiverse reef communities with specialist niche occupancy.

Are Iran and Russia Fighting in Syria?

Between Jan. 23 and 27, 2017, there were reports that Syrian president Bashar Al Assad had suffered a stroke and had to be hospitalized. The usually pro-Assad British newspaper The Independent claimed that the Syrian president was suffering serious psychological strain.

Allegations of a president’s poor health take on extra significance in a Russian proxy state. During the Cold War, the Soviets frequently cited allied leaders’ purported medical and psychological problems when launching military interventions — takeovers, essentially — in the countries of the supposedly-ailing heads of state.

Did the same thing just happen in Syria?

Has China Been Practicing Missile Strikes on US Military Bases?

You’ve probably heard that China’s military has developed a “carrier-killer” ballistic missile to threaten one of America’s premier power-projection tools, its unmatched fleet of aircraft carriers. Or perhaps you’ve read about China’s deployment of its own aircraft carrier to the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea. But heavily defended moving targets like aircraft carriers would be a challenge to hit in open ocean, and were China’s own aircraft carrier (or even two or three like it) to venture into open water in anger, the U.S. submarine force would make short work of it. In reality, the greatest military threat to U.S. vital interests in Asia may be one that has received somewhat less attention: the growing capability of China’s missile forces to strike U.S. bases. This is a time of increasing tension, with China’s news organizations openly threatening war. U.S. leaders and policymakers should understand that a preemptive Chinese missile strike against the forward bases that underpin U.S. military power in the Western Pacific is a very real possibility, particularly if China believes its claimed core strategic interests are threatened in the course of a crisis and perceives that its attempts at deterrence have failed. Such a preemptive strike appears consistent with available information about China’s missile force doctrine, and the satellite imagery shown below points to what may be real-world efforts to practice its execution

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Ukraine War Update: Пожалейте бедных Украины. До сих пор от Бога, настолько полно коррумпированных людей и так близко к России.

Ukraine has been suffering through major fighting, or at least significant shelling, on the contact line in the Donbass.

Ukraine is fighting just to hang on.

The fighting had over 10,000 recorded explosions  in a day by the flacid OSCE between the Donnie Rebs and Ukrainian military. 

Some are saying this is a test of the new Trump administration to see what he will do.  Others are suggesting Trump has already abandoned Ukraine in favor of Russia and Putin has already been given the green light to cause Ukraine to collapse and take it over.

Some have been saying the fighting was going to be a second Debaltseve.  The Russian artillery has definitely been pounding

Here is a glimpse of life within the DNR.

Someone is assassinating the  warlords of the DNR: Givi is the latest death.  He was killed by a bomb in his office.

Much to my surprise, Trump's ambassador to the UN blamed Russia for the violence in the Donbass and she even stated the sanctions would remain in place until Crimea was returned to Ukraine.  o.O 

Monday, February 06, 2017

Dawn on Jefferson: Chapter Ten, No Awknerds Were Harmed

I raced after the Awknerds. The complete embarrassment of their serenade still turned by ear tips bright red. And now I was going to get my vengeance. And they were going to stop. NOW.

And poor Aitan was going to stop being tormented too, but that was a secondary benefit, not why I was doing this. 

I had put away my needler when I started running. It would have been awkward to run with it. I am twelve after all and if I had tripped and accidentally fired the needler by pulling on the trigger. I'd never run with my finger inside the trigger guard. That would be a recipe for disaster!

Every kid on Jefferson starting at the age of six gets a training course on how to use a needler. At age 8, every kid gets one. We practice every day. Needlers are small guns of a sort, really airguns, that use pressurized air to fire one of several types of needle at a target. Most ammo is the sort to knock out a Jefflife critter without killing it. A tranquilizer dart, really, we call a trankle. There is another type that makes a loud bang noise, a bangle. This is meant to scare away animals too, but can be a bit dangerous. Finally, there is a dart for Earthlife, too. But you are not given that until you are 18. My needler carries bangles and trankles.

Needlers are necessary tools on Jefferson. While most Jefflife leaves humans alone, there are critters that are very territorial. If you stumbled across a family of Thunder Pigs, you would be in trouble if they charged and lacked something to do. That's just bad luck. However, there are types of Jefflife that seem to be very offended by us being here. Most are not local to Shadwell. However, one type is.
Yoats are medium sized pack hunters. They howl, but in a cacophonous yowl that would offend the least picky coyote on Earth. They eat small Jefflife critters but seem to absoultely hate humans. They are not intelligent like a person or even a dog, but they are dangerous. They smell a lone person and they can hunt that person down. A Yoat wouldn't attack an adult, but when you're a kid, they are a danger.

Almost right after Shadwell was founded, they killed a kid, or so we are told, called Kenny.

So all kids older than 8 carried a needler and most adults, too.

I PROMISE, I didn't shoot any of the awknerds.

As I said and meant, no awknerds were harmed - by me! - in this adventure.

However, because I am a much better runner, than any of the awknerds, I nearly caught up to them and then stopped. Puffing a bit, I just ran fast! Sheesh! I pulled out my needler. I took aim...and...
Rosa, via her little Immie camera, screamed in my ear.

I had a bangle loaded and her scream made me jump: I hadn't noticed her Immie cam flying next to me. THAT nearly made me drop the needler. Fortunately, my finger was not on the trigger. It would not have been: pointing a needler at someone is really dangerous. Every kid knows that. It would have gotten me in trouble. I had been aiming above their heads, but when Rosa freaked, I jerked and had my finger been on the trigger I’d have nearly shot the dirt near the last of Aitan's jerk friends.
I screamed at Rosa and proceeded to fire a half dozen bangles in the air above the fleeing villains.

BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!

The twins Kyle and Karen screamed. Aneiren wet his pants I heard later. Cadman shrieked with joy. He was going to be a problem later, I knew, but the others were cowed.

Except I didn’t really. What? You think I am that crazy and reckless!?! Shame on you!

I told you we all have boosters, right? The little computers that talk to the implants in our brains allowing us to control machinery around us. Remember?

Good.

I also told you I am a member of the Merry Pranksters.

You can do simple social math, right? Well, we’d hacked the Awknerds’ boosters a while ago. They loved tinkering with their boosters and even building custom ones. We happened to stumble across their oopses and found a way in. We’d planned on using it for a grand prank. Maybe make every Awknerd see a dancing banana instead of the teacher at school or some such. We had not decided as a group.

Well, I decided to just outright use the backdoor, the way into their boosters, to end my and Aitan’s obnoxious little tormentations. The Awknerds heard and saw the bangles going off around them. Their boosters were feeding in the sounds and sights to their brain. They, in their excitement and then fear, couldn’t tell the difference. Or so I hoped. I think I was right. I was worrid about Cadman though. He might have figured out what was happening.

I holstered my needler, unfired and safe from getting in trouble, at least that way, from the adults and parents. I quickly returned to chasing them and I yelled at the top of my lungs.

I ran down the last part of the hill and chased them into the forest. They decided they were going to lose me through trees. If what we had could really be called trees. Anyways, they put those big trunks between me and them.

I followed though pretty easily: they really needed to put down the VR goggles and get outside more.
We ran for what seemed like forever, really 20 minutes, when Kyle tripped and fell. Karen stopped to help him up and when she saw me, she surrendered. Kyle was sprawled out and dazed, so I helped her get him up. I made them both promise the humiliation of Aitan and I was over.

I made it VERY clear if they continued, they would really, REALLY regret it. My friends and I were known as the Merry Pranksters for a reason and they did NOT want to get into a Prank War. The last clique who attempted that still had their dogs dyed hot pink two years later.

When we got Kyle up, we noticed what he'd tripped over.

It was a helmet.

A combat helmet, like the sort my uncle Fred would have worn in battle.

And it had the Chakra and tricolor of the flag of India.