There were no underspace repeaters on board the Coloratura so the message had to be sent to the observation platform Jean d'Arc and relayed via tight-band pulsed laser instead. The body of the message was encoded in the first few nano-second pulses, and the remainder of the message consisted of the instructions for the Resource Deployment team. When receipt of the message was acknowleged by the Coloratura's AI all but one of the data banks on board the Jean d'Arc automatically flushed themselves, to prevent any eavesdropping on the data.
Lindsay Avernon looked up at the holo-screen and read the first line of the message as it arrived, then stopped and placed a finger on the first red inset on her wrist-com. The wrist-com pinged softly, reminding her of submarine sonar from the black and white films she liked to watch, notifiying Dr. Shiva that he was needed. Then she went back to analysing biological samples provided by the Jean D'Arc when the Coloratura had first arrived in this region.
Dr. Shiva marched into the lab, his heels clicking loudly on the synthicrete floor and his white coat billowing out behind him. He raised a hand in acknowledgement of Lindsay and looked at the holo-screen. The screen identified him retinally and the rest of the message unfaded into view. Lindsay read it too.
"One hundred and fifty Empirical Storm Troopers," said Dr. Shiva softly as the message faded away again. "I believe the last time we were called on to resource EST we were asked for five. I wonder what kind of problem is thirty times bigger?"
"What were those five used for?" said Lindsay, noting that new data was being uploaded to the bio-matching console. She tapped a couple of keys experimentally and confirmed that the console had locked her out.
"They were inserted into the Avalon when the crew mutinied. The five of them disabled the crew and the bridge and brought the Avalon back to the Northstar shipyards. I think they were up against four hundred armed men and two sub-sentient AIs."
Lindsay whistled. The bio-matching console beeped, telling her that it was ready to go.
"Looks like they have their own programming too," she said. "Why are they called Empirical?"
"Every time the EST are deployed, the survivors are analysed when they're brought back and their programs are matched and hybridised. The idea is that the sub-AIs that run the EST evolve to be the best for any situation. Each new brew of EST has untried programs running in them."
"Ah. Well, we're good to go."
Dr. Shiva tapped a command into the vat console, and across the lab six ceiling-to-floor tubes filled rapidly with nutrient broth and stem cells. Seconds later the stem cells were dividing and growing, and in the space of only twenty minutes an adult-sized human-clone was floating in the nutrient broth. The bio-matching console beeped again, and wrote programming data straight into the brains of the new constructs. Dr. Shiva grinned. A little over eight hours to produce a battalion of Empirical Storm Troopers, enough probably to conquer an entire habitat. It was enough to make a man feel like a god.