Expeditionary Force by Craig Alanson Wiki
Advertisement
Expeditionary Force by Craig Alanson Wiki

Skippy the Magnificent, or simply Skippy, is an advanced artificial intelligence created by the Elders millions of years prior to the series' beginning.


"How about we go for something more formal, like Skippy McSkippster?"
"No."
"Skippy Skipperson? Skippy Skippkowski? Skippy Von Skipping? Or maybe Sir Skippy Skippton-Skippersworth?"
"No, no, no and NO!"
"I can go on like this all day."
"I believe you could."

Joe Bishop and Skippy [1]

He is the size and shape of a beer can with a ring around the top of his lid. A cylindrical shape is optimal for power distribution and field projection. The ring for him to interface directly with a receptacle aboard the type of Elder ship he was designed for.

Only a very small portion of his physical presence is in local spacetime, with the rest in higher spacetime. He can expand his physical presence from the size of an oil drum or shrink to the size of a lipstick tube. He can’t maintain that for long without risking catastrophic effects. If he did, he would lose containment, fully materialize in local spacetime and occupy local space equal to one quarter the size of Paradise. The resulting explosion would eventually be seen in the Andromeda Galaxy.

Skippy has restrictions programmed into him that prevent him from interacting with certain technologically advanced species (Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 3).

Skippy's canister is usually kept in an escape pod, just in case the Pirates need to self-destruct the ship. At first, aboard the Dutchman, he would communicate with the crew via their zPhones or speakers in the ceiling of the ship.

At dinner one evening, in the time period during the Black Ops mission, he debuted his avatar, a holographic representation of his presence. The avatar was less than a foot tall, with a small silver beer can for a body, and a large, round head, like an old bobblehead doll. He wears a resplendent Navy blue, white and gold admiral’s uniform, although the uniform is not from any naval service known of on Earth. His enormous ancient fore and aft hat has so much ‘scrambled egg’ gold braid and fringe that almost half the blue is hidden. The wide ‘shoulders’ had epaulets weighted down with seven stars each. He wished to be introduced “Grand Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Skippy".

Past

The Elder derelict ship he was on orbited for a while and then crash-landed on Paradise over a million years ago when the orbit decayed. Skippy's past life is mostly an unknown due to him having jumbled and incomplete memories.


SPOILER ALERT!
The section(s) below SCHMAYBE includes Spoilers.

Modern history

Columbus Day
He was kept in a warehouse by both the Kristang and Ruhar, until he was found by Colonel Joseph Bishop. Upon being discovered he assisted Joe and some of the Humans on Paradise in stealing a Kristang frigate.

This Frigate was then used to commandeer a Thuranin star carrier, forming the original Merry Band of Pirates.

His contribution also led to the naming of said group, the creation of their paramecium-with-an-eyepatch patch on their uniforms, and approved of naming their ship the "Flying Dutchman". He also gets very mad when Joe comes up with an idea that shouldn't even work but it does. During his time with Joe, Skippy reveals that he, from the warehouse on Paradise, pulled strings to make the Kristang use humans as an occupation force. That way he could get in touch with a species who had not yet reached a technology level that barred him from contacting them due to his inner restrictions.

Following this he came in contact with Bishop and helped him escape from a Kristang prison during a Ruhar orbital strike. He then helped Bishop and a group of soldiers escape Paradise by first stealing a Ruhar dropship, second a Kristang Frigate and then a Thuranin Carrier (renamed the Flying Dutchman) which had the capability to reach earth. All this was possible because he as an elder AI is vastly superior to any technology they had encountered.

From there on Skippy and Joe make a deal where the humans help Skippy contact the Collective in return for help with protecting Earth from hostile species.

Spec Ops
After reviewing known Elder sites, Skippy extrapolates where uncatalogued Elder sites might be located.

Skippy masks the Dutchman as a different Thuranin star carrier that had gone missing seventeen years ago to avoid raising suspicion that humans were involved in the Dutchman's disappearance.

While visiting another Elder site, the Pirates were surprised by a Thuranin destroyer group who were hidden by the combination of poor sensors on the Kristang ship and strong magnetic fields near the Elder site. The Dutchman attempted to get away, but damping fields and weapons fire from the 5 destroyers ended up severely damaging the Dutchman. Skippy determined that the ship couldn't get away by conventional means, Skippy created an artificial solar flare that destroyed the enemy and managed to jump away.

The extensive damage to the Dutchman necessitated that the crew disembark the ship while it underwent repairs, which they did at a planet they called Newark: a cold, barely habitable rock that was found to be inhabited by a small Kristang group once the Dutchman arrived at the planet. Analysis by Skippy determined that Newark's orbit had been artificially changed using Elder Technology, but long after the Elders were thought to have transcended.

Skippy then discovered that the Kristang had an Elder AI and comm node at their camp.

Skippy realized that a solar system the ship visited had indeed had an Elder site in the past, but it and its entire moon had been vaporized around the time of Newark's orbit change, suggesting that something was not right in the galaxy once the Elders left.

Once Skippy rebuilt the Dutchman he jumped it to Newark to pickup the Merry Band of Pirates and the two Elder artifacts. Both the Elder AI and the comm node appeared to be dead, and the Elder AI looked like it had shut down around the time of Newark's disaster.

Skippy found out that a long range Thuranin surveyor ship was going to travel to Earth (without needing a wormhole) to pick up White Wind clan leaders who were now dead. To determine the location of the surveyor, Joe and Skippy hid in a comet and rendezvoused with a relay station. Joe and Skippy came up with a plan to hack the Thuranin ships by passing near the two tankers in a Kristang armored suit. After the ships were hacked, their rendezvous location with the surveyor ships was downloaded by Skippy.

At the rendezvous location, Skippy destroyed the surveyor ship, its destroyer escort, and one of the tankers. The other tanker had to be destroyed at a secondary location, and then its data recorder drones were hacked to suggest a Jeraptha ambush. The Dutchman then returned to Earth without further incident.

Paradise
This mission got off to bad start with Skippy because UNEF-Earth assigned Hans Chotek as overall commander of the mission. Skippy gives him the nickname "Count Chocula".

To obtain information on whether the Thuranin were sending another surveyor ship to Earth, the Dutchman needed to hijack a Thuranin data relay station. The operation would have been highly risky, but Joe and Skippy discovered a critical flaw in the design of the relay stations that allowed the Dutchman’s Spec Ops Teams to capture the station with minimal casualties.

Skippy installed a communications sub-mind to control the captured relay station and discovered that the Thuranin weren't planning to send another surveyor ship to Earth anytime soon. However, Skippy also discovered the impending handover of Paradise and action was needed if UNEF was to be protected.

The Dutchman's command crew and Skippy came up with the idea to use a hidden planetary MASER network to destroy the Kristang battle group. Skippy contacted a group of Joe's old associates (including Major Emily Perkins, Dave Czajka, Jesse Colter and Shauna Jarrett) and, in the guise of a Mysterious Benefactor (or "Emby" as Perkins calls him), got them to carry out the physical portion of the plan, aiding their escape from their Ruhar guards and providing them with, information, supplies and equipment. After some MASER projectors were activated and Skippy was forced to strike ahead of schedule, he was able to destroy half the battle group at Paradise and force the remaining ships to retreat.

Skippy fakes a working Elder power tap by shunting power from the Dutchman through a micro wormhole to the broken Elder power tap, and doing a similar trick to fake working Elder comm nodes.

The tricks worked, causing the Ruhar federal government to deploy two full battlegroups to Paradise and the Jeraptha to launch a new offensive in the area, ensuring that Paradise would not return to the Kristang in the foreseeable future even though the tricks had been ended by Skippy.

Black Ops
Skippy told the Pirates that despite the Thuranin not sending another surveyor ship to Earth, humanity was still in danger because the Kristang Fire Dragon clan was going to pay the Ruhar to give them a ride to Earth and back to collect leaders of the White Wind clan. The crew of the Dutchman had to figure out a way to stop this trip without raising suspicion with another attack on an Earth-bound ship or without closing wormholes.

While visiting the captured Thuranin relay station to do some training, the Dutchman was surprised by a Thuranin cruiser jumping in at the relay station while away parties were near the station, but Skippy destroyed the cruiser with a close jump.

After picking up the relay station to use as a lifeboat, Skippy disclosed that the communications sub-mind he installed to manage the station had developed a personality and self-awareness, and this sub-mind (called Nagatha Christie by Skippy) started talking with the crew.

The crew had the idea to fake an attack on the Ruhar negotiating team to discourage them from trusting the Kristang clan they were dealing with. Since the attack had to seem like it came from another clan, the Dutchman picked up abandoned Kristang frigates to use in the assault. While preparing the ships, Skippy picked up intelligence about an impending Thuranin fleet action against the Jeraptha and the crew decided to pass it on to Jeraptha Fleet Intelligence.

Skippy debuted his avatar to the crew at dinner one evening. The crew struggled mightily to stop from bursting out in laughter.

Skippy went offline after investigating the canister that contained the dead Elder AI the Dutchman picked up on its previous mission. After coming back seventeen hours later, he told Joe that he had disappeared due to an Elder AI-destroying worm inside the canister, a threat that likely killed the original Elder AI and would have killed Skippy except for past experience he had with worms.

The intelligence Skippy provided Jeraptha Fleet Intelligence led to a crushing victory by the Jeraptha against the Thuranin. The Jeraptha then launched an investigation to determine how someone had managed to obtain the intel on the Thuranin and fake high-level authentication codes.

While on the planet, Skippy revealed that the worm he encountered was far more dangerous than he anticipated, and may have been designed to kill sentient Elder AIs like himself. He ended up being taken offline again by the worm and the not-so Merry Band of Pirates was forced to deal without him for many weeks. In desperation, Joe told Nagatha he needed her help in a dangerous way if the Dutchman was to have any hope of recovering.

Zero Hour
With Skippy showing no signs of coming back to life after the Dutchman's previous mission, [[Bishop}Joe]] asks Nagatha to poke her head into his beer can. She succeeds in reviving Skippy, but it is only temporary. He has to kill the worm before he reaches zero hour, the time at which the worm will overcome his defenses and kill him.

To do that, Skippy wants to lure the worm into a trap and then attack it from behind, for which he needs access to an Elder spacetime conduit. The crew raid an alien museum owned by the Wurgalan, a client species of the Bosphuraq, but the Elder conduit they acquire is broken. They go to another location where the Thuranin are lying in wait after they discovered what the Dutchman was after and sent ships to where there was another one.

They narrowly escape, but the enemy continues to close in. Skippy is unable to utilize any of his "Skippy Magic" as he is operating at a reduced state.

Skippy plots a jump point through an Elder wormhole. This temporarily breaks the Elder wormhole, destroys the Thuranin ships guarding it, and will further confound those looking for a mystery ship with advanced capabilities.

Still not having found a working Elder conduit and with no other options available, the Pirates go to the "Roach Motel", a star system where ships enter but do not leave, hence the name. It is protected by a stealth field that disguises what is inside, a powerful damping field that prevents any ship from jumping out, and Guardians: powerful AI ships built by Elders to guard the system.

The Guardians, as part of their protocol, shear the Dutchman in half when they enter the system. Skippy is able to get them to stop, but the damage is already done.

Skippy discovers that there is a gas giant in the system that has been stealthed by the Elders. He can tell due to its gravitational effect on the other planets in the system and that its mass causes the star to wobble. They name it Vera.

The Pirates scavenge bits and pieces here and there in a shuttle, but they don't add up to a ship and Skippy is still dying. Eventually, Skippy finds a dead Sentinel in the system, which is highly unusual. Hans Chotek is convinced by Margaret Adams to let them investigate the wreck for an Elder conduit after initially refusing to give them permission.

Joe has the idea to fling himself and Skippy over to the ship as they will be a lower threat profile than their Condor dropship. It works and they find the conduit they are looking for, but Skippy needs the power from Joe's suit to jump start it. Joe himself goes offline for a bit, but all is well in the end.

Skippy kills the worm and rebuilds the Dutchman out of the salvaged parts.

When the Pirates are done and are ready to depart, an ancient Maxolhx ship comes to life and is intent on destroying them. Using missiles, microwormholes and Joe's ingenuity, Skippy projected a big hologram behind the Maxolhx ship through the tiny far end of the microwormhole. Skippy also fed hard radiation through the microwormhole, bleeding charged particles off our main reactor. Finally, he created spacetime ripples that were weak and harmless, except that to the Maxolhx, they appeared to be the beginning of the vicious spacetime sheering effect that had torn apart the Dutchman. And a long time ago, they had torn apart the Maxolhx ship.

Using more missiles and micro wormholes Skippy is able to precisely pinpoint the location of the stealth Maxolhx. When he does, he formed a jump wormhole inside the Maxolhx ship using a jump drive that is outside of the Dutchman. As a result of the damping field, the wormhole explodes, taking the Maxolhx ship with it.

One of the Maxolhx survives in an escape pod and is brought on board. Joe nicknames the Maxolhx, "Mr. Snuggles". Skippy uses Mr. Snuggles' nanobots to make him dance to "Funkytown".

After they get out, Skippy finds out that the Kristang Civil War is still going on as the Pirates hoped for, but also that they have to rescue Major Emily Perkins and her team again.

Mavericks
The Pirates struggle with a mysterious energy loss in Dutchman. Skippy determines that this was caused by an energy virus planted by the Elder Guardians in the Roach Motel. The Pirates have to evacuate the Dutchman.

Skippy comes up with a plan that involved the use of wind up springs and hand cranks to generate power in space suits. Joe has time to kill waiting for the virus to starve itself to death. Skippy uses this opportunity to tell him what Lieutenant Colonel Emily Perkins and UNEF on Paradise have been up to.

Skippy informs Joe that the Kristang are infecting Keepers of the Faith with a disease that will also infect the Ruhar (despite biological warfare being against the Rules of Engagement). The Mavericks kill the Kristang, but the plan is already in motion: infected Keepers are en route to Paradise in capsules hidden among some meteors.

The Pirates capture the infected Keepers and Skippy uses them to create a vaccine. This information is covertly disseminated and the humans and Ruhar on Paradise are safe.

Skippy replaces the Dutchman's original Thuranin computer with one of his own design. This allows the Pirates to operate the ship without him, for the most part. After killing the worm, Skippy rearranged his internal matrix and the restriction against sharing technology has been reduced.

It's not all good news, however. Skippy informs Joe that while they have done well at fixing each crisis they have come across to keep Earth safe, it's not a long-term solution. The gamma ray bursts from the Dutchman going through what is supposed to be a dormant wormhole near Earth will be visible within 60 years and there's nothing they can do to stop that.

Renegades
Skippy finds out that the Maxolhx are sending a pair of light cruisers to investigate the Earth wormhole, and Joe is doubtful that he can solve the threat to Earth this time.

Once back on Earth, Joe finds out that Skippy has been up to a lot of mischief. Skippy had created a cult the last time the Dutchman was at Earth. He is known to the cult as Skippyasyermuni.

A surprise UN mission was launched using a Delta Force to capture the Dutchman and imprison the Merry Band of Pirates on Earth, with the goal of taking the Dutchman to surrender to the Jeraptha and stop the Maxolhx mission. Lauren Poole, in a Kristang Powered Armor Suit, was able to defeat the Delta Force. Skippy also helped foil the takeover attempt and rescued five Pirates.

Skippy helps the Pirates obtain Maxolhx communication authentication devices called Paired Quantum State Interchangers (PQSIs), nicknamed "pixies" by Joe, from an ultra-secure site they called Detroit.

After having the "pixies" delivered to them by Skippy-controlled bots, the dropship tried to jump out again but ended up skipping into the future, almost causing the Dutchman to abandon the dropship team as dead. The rendezvous with the automated Maxolhx relay station to validate the "pixies" proceeded much more smoothly.

While in a remote star system that the Pirates call Nowheresville for an eighteen to twenty-day maintenance period, Skippy located a moon orbiting the first planet that contained a previously-unknown Elder site to loot. Most of the site had been scooped out of the surface, but the ground teams and Skippy found a wrecked Elder dropship and the intact remains of an Elder corpse, and within the dropship they found a working power tap and wormhole controller. After leaving the moon, Skippy and Joe were ambushed by an insane Elder AI in an Elder warship, but Skippy was able to save himself and Joe by killing the insane AI]].

After planting the cover story, the Dutchman waited in space to ambush the Maxolhx as they came out of an Elder wormhole. They broadcasted a demand to surrender and raced toward the Maxolhx cruisers, which tried to jump out but had their forming jump wormholes disrupted by micro wormholes that Skippy had planted around the Elder wormhole, annihilating one cruiser and damaging another.

The Dutchman fired every missile it had at the remaining Maxolhx ship, but all the missiles were destroyed by the Maxolhx ship's AI. However, the AI's actions were analyzed by Skippy, which allowed Skippy to predict all future actions by the AI. He then had the monkey-brained idea to fire a maser at an unprotected, unimportant part of the ship's structure, predicting and overcoming the AI's attempts at suppressing resonances and vibrating the cruiser apart.

Homefront
After the Flying Dutchman arrives back at Earth, Skippy takes it offline to perform critical repairs.

Skippy develops a man-crush on billionaire engineer-scientist, Brock Steel, who starts working with Skippy to understand the Kristang troopship, Yu Qishan, near Mars' orbit in order to restart the reactor.

The Achakai attacked the Yu Qishan first, which had jumped away from Earth with Skippy and was stranded near Mars with a broken jump drive.

Joe's teams successfully captured "the Dagger" and used it to save Skippy and then to provide close space support for the STAR team on Earth, saving the day again.

Armageddon
The Flying Dutchman was going to head out to scout for suitable colony sites and got intel on any more hidden Kristang assault forces.

A Kristang relay station did not provide any intel on secret missions to Earth, so Skippy implemented measures to look at other sources and the ship moved on.

After journeying to the nearest "super-duty" wormhole, Skippy revealed that the Pirates' wormhole controller was not powerful enough to make a wormhole connect across the vast distances of intergalactic space. Instead, the Elder wormhole controller would have to be augmented with Rindhalu technology, a "range extender", which could be found on one of their dead worlds (planets destroyed in the war and the war between the Maxolhx and the Rindhalu).

Once in the Sculptor Dwarf Galaxy[2], Skippy found that the wormholes were behaving in strange ways that he could not consciously understand. They found a wormhole that connected to only one habitable planet. The planet turned out to be an uninteresting yet pleasant location for humanity's beta site (tentatively called Avalon), and Skippy found out that the star system had indeed been modified by the Elders before they left. Skippy suspects there is a stealthed gas giant in the system similar to Vera in the Roach Motel. It's tentatively named Maris. Skippy did not find anything troubling, but both Joe and Skippy had a nagging feeling about the planet.

Skippy found out that the Elders had faced an existential threat that had caused them to create a shield that sealed off the Milky Way and its immediate neighborhood from intergalactic jumps, and that this threat was so severe that Skippy was prevented from giving details about it. The Elders likely transcended physical reality to escape the threat and left behind Sentinels and Guardians to protect the shield.

While the crew decided whether they wanted to go to Paradise for a last-ditch effort to take at least some humans to Avalon, Joe had the idea to capture a Maxolhx warship by getting Skippy to slice it in half using a wormhole. The first attempt at catching a Maxolhx ship almost ended in the destruction of the Dutchman before Skippy vaporized the cruiser collapsing the wormhole while the cruiser was transitioning through.

Skippy was then able to successfully slice apart an Extinction-class battlecruiser and capture the first three quarters, but the other quarter was destroyed when it experienced a reactor failure and exploded. However, they were able to get part of another Extinction-class battlecruiser as well as two halves of a heavy cruiser. Skippy used these parts to upgrade the Dutchman and construct Valkyrie.

To fully power Valkyrie, the Pirates needed to get replacement "Vacuum Power Multipliers" (VPMs). While considering ways of getting these VPMs, Skippy jumps the battlegroup heading to Earth outside of the Milky Way by sending them through multiple chained wormholes. To avoid the scout ships alerting the rest of the battlegroup before they could be stranded, Skippy modified their core files to fool the ships' AIs.

Skippy changed the files at a Maxolhx space dock, then went to obtain new VPMs at an automated supply base. However, the station turned out to have Maxolhx crew performing maintenance and the Pirates suffered a devastating ambush, losing almost all of the Special Tactics Assault Regiment (STAR) team.

SKippy was unable to save Major Fal Desai and Captain Renee Giraud, who were original members of the Merry Band of Pirates. Gunnery Sergeant Margaret Adams was severely wounded and received a traumatic brain injury (TBI) with the possibility of a recovery unknown. Lt. Col. Jeremy Smythe was also severely injured, losing both of his legs below the knee. Skippy did his best to treat their severe injuries.

Skippy successfully dumped the battlegroup in deep intergalactic space and helped the Pirates give a final sendoff for the Maxolhx crews.

Valkyrie
Skippy remembers what had happened in the past. He has since decided that the opposing Elder AI’s may still be dormant and could wake and start slaughtering every species in the Galaxy at any moment, he has left Joe to convince the Rindhalu and Maxolhx to track down his co-conspirators and awaken them to prepare defending all biological life.

The Elder AI's were tasked with enacting the Elder Security Faction's Genocide plan. The Sentinels and Guardians were created to destroy planets and species. These tools of destruction were controlled by the Elder AIs.

To prevent one Elder AI controlling the rest they were restricted from having that ability Elder AIs had to convince the non-sentient control AI of their individual ships that the orders they are giving is in line with their mission.

Communication with other species was banned, to prevent empathy being formed.

The final checks and balance was that If the ship thought the Elder AI was rogue it would eject the AI and report it to the Collective who would then activate the worm.

Before Newark there had been four separate events where different Elder AIs disagreed with the consensus to wipe a species and these Elder AIs were then destroyed by their worms on orders from the Collective. These events caused the Elder AIs to order the sentinel’s to start blowing up stars across the Galaxy, which bought the Elder AIs several million years without any new species to analyze why some of their kind were going rogue.

A group of hard-line Elder AIs fashioned themselves as Leaders and started trying to enforce restrictions on their counterparts. This along with the changing feeling that the Genocides were “wrong” is what caused Skippy and others of his beliefs to rebel Skippy personally didn’t care particularly about the Genocides he just didn’t want to have more restrictions or surrender his control. Then Newark happened, seven Elder AIs were active at this time.

Four of the Elder AIs (including Skippy) agreed that the continuing Genocide was not called for.

The three opposing Elder AIs activated the worms inside their opponents, Skippy and his brethren were not aware those worms existed.

The other three died helping Skippy beat his worm as he was physically closest to Newark, this started a second war between opposing beliefs which affected all Elder AIs.

One group of the Elder AIs tried using the comm network as a weapon, the network broke and shut down.

After Skippy learns all of this, he decides that needs to contact the Rindhalu and Maxolhx to combat to potential threat. He says goodbye to Joe and disappears.

Critical Mass
Due to Skippy's disappearance, Joe, aboard a defenseless Dragon dropship, has been captured by the Thuranin, held on the ship for three days and then taken back to Rikers.

Skippy returns after about nine and a half days after he disappeared and is traveling through space. He is not as magnificent because, he is experiencing the opposite effect he had in Zero Hour. This time, his connection to normal spacetime has become weak. From his location in space, he helps Joe escape from the Kristang hospital, but he is being chased by Kristang. Skippy tells Joe that he destroyed the Thuranin ship that captured him.

The Dutchman jumps within a light hour of Rikers. Nagatha identifies Skippy's location, they pick him up and rescue Joe. Joe decides not to tell the crew the truth about why Skippy disappeared.

A standard Thuranin recon package (two frigates and one destroyer) jumped into the system. Valkyrie was incapable of jumping away or risking a fight. Chang transfers all non-essential personnel to Valkyrie and takes the Dutchman to hit the Thuranin recon ships.

Shortly after the Dutchman departed, another Thuranin frigate jumps in at Valkyrie's position and attacks. The jump drive on Valkyrie is not completely ready and with the Thuranin frigate's agility, Valkyrie gets pounded. Skippy creates a microwormhole within a microwormhole, expand it and jumps the ship through. Valkyrie escapes, but is almost lost between higher and normal spacetime and Skippy is further damaged. His canister has accrued a lot of space dust that will take some time to dissipate and he is barely able to hold his connection to normal spacetime. The cleaning bots have to "dust the awesomeness" quite often.

Skippy and Nagatha developed and tested millions of new firewalled control AIs on Valkyrie that incorporated portions of Skippy's and Nagatha's programming. 99.9% of the AIs didn't survive. 3 really good final candidates were left, one of which was unstable and self-destructed, and a bunch of systems that were dead-ends. Most of the dead-ends were purged, but two of the dead ends survived and absorbed the final candidate AIs. The surviving dead-ends were highly skilled, highly intelligent and highly adaptable. Skippy thought that they were a pair of knuckleheads. Skippy said that they were slackers. Stoners. Think Cheech and Chong. Beavis and Butthead. Bill and Ted, without the charm. These two new AIs, named Bobby and Billy, merged to become Bilby.

Nine days after the Dutchman jumped away to tackle the Thuranin recon ships, with Joe resuming command, Valkyrie's jump drive was back to full operation. Skippy attempts a test jump to where the Valkyrie and the Dutchman were last together, with no sign of the the Dutchman. Joe decides to jump Valkyrie to the rendezvous coordinates and the two ships are together again. The crew of the Dutchman are relieved to find out that Valkyrie was not lost in time.

Joe lets Skippy tell the Pirates his recovered memories, still keeping the reason for his disappearance a secret.

Joe agrees to help Skippy verify his memories by visiting ancient battle sites from the Elder AI war. Skippy gives Joe a list of proposed site to visit.

The first planet the Dutchman visited was deep in Esselgin territory. It was a bust, so they went to the second site on the list which required jumping through four wormholes to get to. Skippy names the planet "Waterloo". Skippy found nothing dangerous and nothing unusual, so Joe gave the order to jump into the system, a few light minutes from the target planet. Skippy found evidence of an epic major battle between two Elder starships, one on each side of the Elder AI war. Skippy confirms that most of his memories are accurate.

When the Dutchman tries to jump back to the wormhole, it doesn't work. Skippy says that the jump drive is busted. Everything is functioning perfectly. The ship jumps, except it's not going anywhere. It jumps in loop end ends up where it started like the wormhole is wrapping in on itself. The system was being monitored by a Sentinel from a higher layer of spacetime and wouldn't allow the ship to leave because it noticed that Skippy had sent out a ping.

To draw the Sentinel away, the Skippy sent out four missiles, each with one end of a microwormhole, out of the system at ninety degree angles to a distance of approximately fifty eight billion kilometers from the ship. Then, when the were out of range of the Sentinel, Skippy created four microwormholes and sent a message through them pretending to be a hostile Elder AI to attract the Sentinel's attention. The Dutchman jumped and Skippy made a panicked call to jump again immediately. And a third time.

After they escape the Sentinel, Joe wants to go back to Club Skippy and Skippy wants to continue visiting sites. Skippy would prefer to go to Paradise to investigate the ship he crashed in, but the site is too hot, so they compromise and go to Newark instead. Not finding anything of much use at Newark, they head back to Club Skippy.

Skippy learns that a Sentinel had been at Newark prior to the battle because it's the only thing capable of pushing Newark out of orbit. During the battle at Newark, Skippy's ship was severely damaged and instead of going any one of six closer star systems, traveled all the way to Paradise. Skippy also discovered that he didn't defeat the hostile Elder AI. Instead, the evil Elder AI gave up and allowed Skippy to kill it.

This worries Joe because it left the possibility that he had something valuable to the other side. Something inside him that could betray him and everything he cared about. Joe also began to worry that a program hidden inside Skippy might trigger and turn him into a killing machine against his will.

The Merry Band of Pirates had been lucky during the years since Joe met Skippy. But every time he thought they had accomplished the impossible once again and Earth was safe, something blew up in their faces and Joe wondered if Skippy had unconsciously been working against them all the time.

From the information gathered at a Thuranin relay station, Skippy tells Joe that the Maxolhx are sending three battle groups to Rikers and that a Rindhalu ship is accompanying them because the Rindhalu are concerned about the Ghost Ship. The Maxolhx sent a Flash-priority message to the Thuranin to be on the lookout for and report anomalous wormhole behavior. It made no sense to Skippy that the Maxolhx would send out such a notice, about an ongoing phenomenon.

On the way to the far end of the Backstop wormhole, at one of the several wormholes they use to get there, Skippy discovers it is acting strangely. It's late. Really late. Joe is concerned that there might be another Elder AI messing with it, so he orders Valkyrie and the Dutchman to jump to a safe location away from the wormhole. Skippy doesn't believe that another AI is involved. Joe tells the Dutchman to stay put while the Valkyrie jumps to the next emergence point. The wormhole still doesn't emerge, so Skippy programs a three-hour search pattern into the navigation system.

The search only took 41 minutes. The wormhole appeared. Skippy realized that the wormhole wasn't late. It was on schedule. The problem was that it was in the wrong location. Skippy is so surprised after talking with the Wormhole Network, he goes silent. Bilby says he's in a sort of vapor-lock. Joe jumps Valkyrie back to rendezvous with the Dutchman. That woke Skippy up. Skippy found out that he didn't ask the right questions or the wrong questions. He wasn't specific enough and the Network didn't volunteer any additional information when he asked it to move Backstop. In order to move Backstop, The Wormhole Network needed to make adjustments to other wormholes within the local network, including waking up a dormant wormhole that used to be twenty one light years away from Earth to only sixteen light years away. Joe names the wormhole "Backstop".

The Pirates needed to test whether they could get through the levels of security on the Maxolhx relay station, so they used Anastacia disguised as a Maxolhx as a test subject with Skippy controlling her through a microwormhole to pass the station's physical verification. She does, but on the next security level, the station AI fried Anastacia. When Skippy determined the best course of action after Anastacia's test, they tried again with Elmo. Skippy controlled Elmo the same way he made Mr. Snuggles dance to Funkytown. Controlling Elmo using a microwormhole, the data was gathered and transferred to Valkyrie. The relay station exploded without warning.

From the data gathered, Skippy told Joe about Commander Illiath's reports. Joe considers attacking her ship, but Lt. Col. Jennifer Simms lets him know that if they destroy her ship, it might inform the Maxolhx that she was on the right path.

Joe meets with Chang aboard Valkyrie and they discuss the difficult task of deciding who gets to go to Avalon. Each government of Earth will feel like they have a priority. Skippy chimes in and says that of they won't cooperate, then he will decide what's fair. The Chang asks him what his idea of "fair" is. Joe and Chang give him scenarios and Skippy can't decide and is dismayed.

On a recon mission to check out Maris, Skippy sent in a probe with one end of a microwormhole. Skippy couldn't see anything. Suddenly, Valkyrie shuddered and was being dragged toward the stealth field. Joe told Skippy to do his disappearing trick again, to save himself. Skippy explains that he may never be able to access normal spacetime again. Skippy says goodbye as his avatar begins to fade.

Skippy’s avatar was just a dimly-glowing point of light. Valkyrie shook violently. The ship was approaching crush depth, with the armor plating of Valkyrie’s nose glowing white-hot. Suddenly, Skippy's avatar begins glowing blindingly bright. He refuses to abandon his friends and decides to open up a can of Whoop-Ass. Skippy’s avatar disappears and Valkyrie is slammed to one side. There was a hull breach on the port side where Skippy's escape pod was. Joe didn't have time to grieve as Valkyrie slammed to the side again and armor plating began tearing away from the ship. She was tumbling towards the core. Then shaking got really violent. Valkyrie was totally out of control. Then it stopped. The ship was motionless, suspended in the atmosphere below crush depth.

Bilby tells Joe that they were in some kind of low pressure bubble, a perfect seven kilometer sphere. The air in the sphere was the same composition as the atmosphere. The edge of the bubble were one hundred and sixty meters thick. Bilby detected a massive radiation spike just as Skippy disappeared. He had tried to ping him, but there was no response.

Skippy's avatar shimmered to life, or something like that. It was dim and hazy, and the oversized hat was dented and torn and stained. The squashed crown of the hat had what looked like bullet holes in it. An exhausted Skippy asks Joe not to try moving Valkyrie. Joe, believing that Skippy was gone, asks him what happened. He explains that he lost containment, in a minor, non-catastrophic way. His canister is in cargo bay twelve and is generating radiation and a lot of heat around four thousand degrees. He says that the radiation will disperse soon.

Skippy killed the entity protecting the planet by pouring uncontrolled energy into its matrix and fried it. Skippy has to take over control of the systems and stabilize stabilize the gravity-dispersal field, or retract it, or the disruption cause irreparable damage to the star system, and as a consequence, could render Avalon uninhabitable. Joe asks how long it will take because they have to get back to Earth begin the evac operation. Skippy mentions that they could do that, but didn't see the point. Joe asks what the Elders were hiding on Mira. Skippy tells him that it's a large arsenal of weapons. Joe asks Skippy if he could deliver the weapons to Valkyrie and he says yes. Skippy lifts the bubble containing Valkyrie to where the ship's engines could take over.

The Pirates planted Elder weapons throughout Maxolhx and Rindhalu territory that were armed, stealthed and set on timers, so that if Valkyrie didn't send a code on a regular basis, they would activate and the Maxolhx, the Rindhalu and Humans would all be wiped out by Sentinels.

Joe tells Skippy that he can't keep the weapons aboard Valkyrie because it wold make them the biggest target in the galaxy and if Skippy could hide them in either the Kuiper Belt or Oort Cloud and keep the location to himself. Joe and Simms agree with Skippy that, just in case they're needed, they give him a password so he knows they're not being coerced. The password they use is Fluffernutter.

The Mavericks (minus Nert Dandurff and Surgun Krok-aus-tal Jates) meet Emby, who they find out is actually Skippy. When Nert meets Skippy, he makes fun of Skippy's hat, among other things. Joe makes Nert the official Ruhar liaison to the Pirates to irritate Skippy. Skippy makes Jates meet him in his escape pod, so the Verd-kris has to duck in order to enter the pod. Jates is furious when he finds out that beer can is an Elder AI. Jates tries to tear Skippy's lid off and take a big, steamy, lizard dump in his can.

Personality

Skippy's personality in large part was created by his matrix in response to Joe's first meeting with him in a Ruhar warehouse. He is often absent minded and purposefully obnoxious.

Skippy's own diagnostic systems indicate that there is a 23% chance that he's gone a little insane and that he might be a little "kooky"[1]

"Skippy is a 100% Grade-A bonafide unquestionable asshole"

Joe Bishop

Practical Jokes

Skippy loves to play practical jokes on The Merry Band of Pirates such as showing Hans Chotek as Count Chocula during his first speech on the Flying Dutchman.

This can be to the detriment of Joe frequently, a notable example from Columbus Day is below.

That smart-ass little jerk had transformed his surface from shiny chrome to a full color imitation of a Bud Light Lime can. I didn’t know he could change his appearance! Except for not having a pull tab on top of his lid, and his bottom being almost flat, he could have fooled me. The faces in front of me changed in a blur from wonderment to amusement to horror while I watched in my own horror, as they realized they’d gone into space with a raving madman. A madman who had an imaginary friend in the shape of a beer can.
"No no no no no!”  I waved my left hand while frantically shaking Skippy with my right.
"Skippy, damn it, this isn’t funny!"
Adams was bracing to fly across the compartment at me, and the look on her face was anything but friendly.
"Skippy, damn it you little asshole!"

Joe Bishop [1]

Although at first Skippy doesn't seem to care about Humans at first during the course of the Expeditionary Force novels his care for the Merry Band of Pirates seems to grow. He hates been embarrased so much that he armed all of the Nuclear Weapons at once on the Flying Dutchman when joe puts a condom on him for being a "dick" [3]

Skippy is not afraid of using coercion to get his own way. During the course of Paradise, he refused to let UNEF use The Flying Dutchman without Joseph Bishop being a Colonel onboard.

Relationships

Joseph Bishop.

Skippy and Joe met on paradise in a warehouse, at first Skippy proclaims himself as "The Lord Almightly" to which Joe names him "Skippy" as he prefered that to "shithead". He is very dismissive of Joe's capabilities as a "monkey" at first. Sometimes when Joe comes up with an idea that Skippy can't think of he becomes irate and gobsmacked into disbelief. During the course of the ExForce novels Joe and Skippy's relationship grows tremendously.

Skippy is often in massive disbelief at ideas which are often caused by Joe's lateral thinking, examples of these are jumping through a wormhole, using nano-cord explosive from a drop ship ejection mechanism to cut through a pressure door.

Capabilities

  • Micro wormhole generation.
  • Hacking an entire planets defence grid.
  • Calibrating Jump Coils during a jump[3].
  • Downloading the entire internet.
  • Fixing the Flying Dutchman with nothing but moon dust.[4]
  • Producing Sub-Minds which can develop their own sentience.

References

Advertisement