Early on, it became apparent that we weren't getting all of the help we COULD -- or even SHOULD -- get from the Confederacy. The psych boys and the policy makers and the politicians puzzled it out -- and, oddly, the AIs helped more than one would expect. Most of the Confederacy left supporting us to the Darjee -- which allowed them to ignore uncivilized behavior by both us and the Swarm. Some of them knew better, but just couldn't bring themselves to play; others apparently had an interest in watching the Darjee take it in the shorts and were willing to gamble -- after all, the Swarm weren't the first threat the Confederacy had dealt with. Of course, it had been a LOOONG time since the last engagement, but...
The Darjee weren't putting out one hundred percent, either. They were between a rock and a hard place -- if they gave us too much, we were a worse threat than the Swarm -- but if they didn't give us enough, we couldn't do our job. Add to that the fact that the Darjee had other things to do besides put forth a full-fledged support effort for their rather vicious protégés, and it becomes obvious that the handouts would be limited in scope.
Technology assimilation was another matter. We had a limited period in which to try to maximize the benefit of technologies that other races had been developing for millennia. Look what giving whiskey and rifles did to Native Americans and you can see the dangers of that -- but we weren't going to defeat the Sa'arm with what we had. So the Darjee doled out bits of this and that, crossing their fingers that we wouldn't go wild with anything -- and we adapted the technologies to our needs. This kept a lot of hothouse brains going twenty-four hours a day...
Some things just take too long to replicate. It wasn't enough to get bodies off the planet -- we needed all human knowledge and culture. The Darjee gave us a scanning technology that went all the way to the molecular level, but they didn't give us a method of replicating the target quickly beyond a certain size; if you wanted a duplicate of the Louvre, for instance, nanobots would do it -- in several months. We didn't have the time or resources for such, so it was decided that we would evacuate some facilities, along with people. By Year Three, it was clear that, efforts to stabilize things by taking along the less desirable as second-class citizens aside, we were STILL participating in someone's idea of a eugenics project -- which was unacceptable to a large number of people both on and off the homeworld. The methods we were using for extractions were great for starting colonies that would be self-supporting -- but once they were up and running, we could move things better by less resource-intensive means.
Managing priorities was a bitch; the war effort HAD to come first -- but the evacuation was a pivotal feeder. Every body we got off the Earth was a producer of additional bodies we would need to engage the Sa'arm -- which meant every body counted and the evacuation effort must be maximized within the support constraints. Colony ships were great -- and we sized the original hundred pod ones up tenfold -- but once we had essential services set up on a colony and it was environmentally adjusted for habitation, we didn't need pods -- or, at worst, we could manufacture them on-site.
Replication technology is a lot faster than manufacturing, on the small and medium scale -- but you have to do research and development first. We had places doing that on Earth -- and you could no more replicate them than you could any other product that doesn't exist. It wasn't enough to evacuate the hothouse minds -- we needed for them to have familiar surroundings to work within to get the job done. That meant not only taking scientists and technicians, but taking the labs and the fabrication facilities. On top of that, you have the issue of economics -- for every one of these primary resources, you needed three to six support personnel -- butchers and bakers and candlestick makers -- to take the load off so they could concentrate on their jobs. Concubines take care of a lot of keeping the home fires burning, but they have resupply needs and requirements for communications and infrastructure ... We needed to jack things up.
The first cube ship rolled off the assembly line in orbit around Nova Terra at the end of Year Five; it was a giant cattle car, capable of evacuating and processing 250,000 people. It was all rooms and corridors and hallways and dining facilities and briefing areas -- and mounted six field- bubble generators capable of collecting a facility a quarter of a mile in cubic volume and toting it for a month, then setting it on a new planet. Transit time was cut to a week; crews were Fleet Auxiliaries, and the kind of trouble to be expected from a mixed mess made regular pickups simple by comparison -- but it helped cut down on the eugenics angle, and it allowed us to extract critical facilities.
Selection was by a number of means -- multinational corporations tended to have the facilities, and they stumbled upon the means. DuPont was the first; they traded ALL of their proprietary process information for the extraction of six research facilities, workers and all -- and their top tier management, of course.
When people started going off-world more or less without regard to their CAP score, many of the disaffected settled down and 'normal' extractions became easier. Confederacy staff started looking at making deals with individuals who didn't quite measure up, but who could provide a particular function ... And someone realized that if basic health care support was available to the entire population of the homeworld, not only would it cut a step or two out of extraction processing, the troops on the ground when the Swarm arrived would ALL be available for duty...
Jacques Moreau pulled up before the restaurant and got out of his van, collecting his toolbox from the back. It was an early summer evening in Year Five, which provided him with a fine view of a couple of sweet young things in skimpy clothing as he followed them inside. The number of females per male had definitely fallen due to extractions, and older, post-menopausal women were seeing increased popularity among those left behind -- but there was still a lot of stuff still out there that met the basic standards for pickup.
He flashed his credentials to the manager at the door. "Replicator repair," he announced.
The manager frowned. "There's nothing wrong with ours."
Jacques nodded. "You wouldn't notice, but there is a minor issue. We're going through ALL food replicators to fix a problem that could lead to output degeneration over time." The manager frowned and examined Jacques' credentials and the work order closely -- but they were genuine, even if his excuse wasn't. Jacques waited patiently while the manager called the support call center on the work order for verification; this was his 360th call in the last ninety days -- the drill was MORE than familiar.
"Okay, there are four replicators -- but you probably know that," the manager grunted. "Please don't haul them all down at the same time -- we're headed for the evening rush." People tended to eat out more and more -- it was a chance to socialize and the pricing had dropped dramatically due to the availability of cheap replication. Cooks now concentrated on making new and different foods that could be replicated easily, rather than mass-producing a few items on a menu. Besides, restaurants were a great place to get picked up ... Servers were in high demand as the average restaurant's business quintupled -- but cooks had a hard time if they were just hash-slingers. Female waitresses tended to disappear during a pickup, so restaurant owners shifted to males -- and gay males surfaced as a preference just because they were more detail-oriented, gossipy -- well, you get the idea. Jacques merely nodded and headed for the kitchen area.
The staff wasn't thrilled; Jacques was MOST DEFINITELY in the way. Food preparation was programming, extraction, and presentation -- people STILL didn't like the idea of eating the identical thing to the person next to them, so the wait staff routinely adjusted something or fed minor variants on a dish to keep people happy. Jacques moved from replicator to replicator, opening a panel and extracting a module and replacing it. The process took about twenty minutes; as he placed the last old module in a rack in the bottom of his toolbox, a light on a small round unit the size of a hockey puck next to it began to glow green. Jacques smiled gently; this was what he'd been working toward all these months ... Closing his toolbox, he headed out to the bar.
There was nothing technically wrong with the replicators; Jacques was adding an additional function. And that little green light meant that his period of effort was over, and it was time to extract his reward!
The addition was a module that provided six basic health-maintenance nanobots and dispensed them in the food. The Confederacy had decided that an announcement might cause all kinds of foolishness and insanity, so they drafted five thousand technicians to go around making the adjustments in secret. By the time people began to realize what was going on, the vast majority of the populace would already be treated and it would be a dead issue.
Jacques, personally, was selected for his task when he went for his annual CAP test. Jacques' hands were highly talented, but he lacked in other areas -- he had a five point seven CAP score and nothing in the world was going to improve it. But he was a premiere technician, and some things just can't be taught ... The desk agent had stopped him on the way out, "Can I have a word with you?"
.... There is more of this story ...