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Author Topic: RP Log Thread.  (Read 6098 times)

Posts: 11

« on: August 09, 2006, 06:04:10 PM »

I'd posted these on the old forum, and the online game has some new folks who need the old backstory again. So it's past time to be doing them up again.

I'd prefer this to be the thread for the logs; comments and questions in a separate thread, please, to avoid confusion.

Posts: 11

« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2006, 06:18:22 PM »

The Known Galaxy is divided into four major powers and the Frontier Zone, a treaty region where the major powers are forbidden to operate military units and where all the local inhabited systems are politically independent entities.

The Saldrallan Union is a constitutional monarchy, dominated but not exclusively ruled by the reptilian Saldralla. All member species are considered equal subjects of the Union, and the nobility and bureaucracy include many non-Saldrallans as full members. The snake-folk are reasonable overlords and recognize the value of a market economy, but a pervasive bureaucracy tries to keep tabs on everything that happens
within their borders.

The Demarchy is militarily the weakest of the four major powers. Originally a loose confederation of several species, it remains disorganized; and without a single dominant species, the Council’s policies are inconsistent from one administration to the next. Economically, however, this lack of central control is beneficial, and the Demarchy is the richest of the four powers on a per capita basis. Being the least aggressive of the four, as well as having the greatest autonomy for its member races, they have an advantage in dealing with the independent systems of the Frontier Zone. [Note: The founding races of the Demarchy are the Pythyraxx, Madribel, Forzssp, Tetsuashan, Ryjyllians, and Undine.]

The Devalkamanchan Republic is the largest of the four major powers, and militarily the strongest – but the official name belies a very different truth. The Republic is a militant theocracy, and the official religion grants, at best, second class citizenship to those not of the Templari species. Every world in the Republic has a Templari governor and garrison, and the high taxation rates necessary to fund the military machine have had a deleterious effect on the economy over the centuries.

Approximately 2400 years ago, the Saldrallan Union and the Devalkamanchan Republic met near the center of what is now the Frontier Zone, and war erupted. The Demarchy was soon drawn in as well, on the side of the Union. The two sides were evenly matched, and in a long period of war neither gained any significant advantage. Both sides were crippling their economies, and after two centuries of strife, all parties realized that they were weakening themselves to the point that another hostile power would be able to walk over all of them. The Conference of Arsubar met for years before the details were worked out, but in the end an agreement was reached. The Frontier Zone was created, a buffer zone between the Union and the Demarchy on one side and the Republic on the other, along with a convertible currency. Although there were a lot of problems at the beginning, that currency is now the standard in the Zone and among the three signatory powers, and the Zone’s mega-corporations are economic powerhouses that have great influence on the three powers, as well as dominating the independent worlds of the Zone itself.

The fourth major power is the rather enigmatic polity known in Galactic Standard as the Cold Realm. Its territory actually partly overlaps that of the Demarchy and the Union; the Realm is made up of methane-based life forms very different from the water-based oxygen metabolisms of the other three stellar nations, and as a result are not interested in the same type of worlds. All three have decided that there is little need for conflict simply over territorial integrity, a somewhat illusory concept in any event when ships can drop out of hyperspace almost anywhere. The species most commonly seen is the blocky Eegop, but no one is quite sure whether they are dominant or simply the ones most interested in trade with those they refer to as lava-bloods.

It has been 2200 years since the end of the Great War. All the powers have recovered from the damage of the conflict and have been expanding in other directions since then, settling new colonies and adding new races to their domains. The advantages of peace have so far outweighed the temptation to resume hostilities. (No one can be sure that the next year will not produce a new enemy, after all. There is always a war faction in the Republic, but by now their economy is so woven into that of the Zone that the attempt would immediately weaken them, an anathema to the creed of the official church. This relegates the War Now faction to the fringes... unless, of course, something changes.)

Posts: 11

« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2006, 06:25:40 PM »

The Frontier Zone stretches across the two hundred light-year treaty gap between the Devalkamanchan Republic and the allied powers of the Demarchy and Saldrallan Union. Almost dead center in the Zone is the homeworld of the Arsubarans, which has become one of the major economic hubs of Known Space in the 20 centuries since the end of the Great War.

Arsubar is the single most populated world in Known Space, with most of the planet’s landmass covered in urban sprawl. The giant corporations that dominate the Frontier Zone are all headquartered here, as are the Treaty Monitors of the three great powers. Huge fleets of ships exist just to import food to the planet below.

There are currently nine of you in the waiting room outside conference room AAJ-1201 in the orbiting station popularly referred to as “Jobs Tower”. The advertisement, hidden among the ‘Class D Freight’ and ‘Earn Money Conducting Surveys!’ blurbs, was looking for people willing to serve on an exploration mission. Currently in the room are two Keero, the freefall-loving bat-folk, the tentacled kooshball shape of a Madribel, a centauroid Chakat, a large felinoid Grak’an and two smaller felines of other races, a sentient who looks something like a cross between a lizard and a cheetah, and a blue-haired Arsubaran female.

The smallest female feline, looking somewhat like an anthro jaguar, sits there idly playing her guitar as she waits.

Kreegif is sort of waddling around the office, looking for a comfortable place to perch, grumbling something almost nobody else can hear.

Keesha chitters back at the other bat, sounding a bit amused.

Kreegif squeaks at Keesha in Keero’ki. <These groundling stations are so uncomfortable.  Why do these people insist on it being so heavy?>

Keesha shrugs. <They’re used to it. Apparently the Arsubarans, at least, get weak bones in free fall. We’ll be back on a ship soon enough, I’d hope.>

Felina leans back against a wall, twirling an old looking zippo in her fingers, her tail flicking a little impatiently as she waits.

Kreegif replies to Keesha. <We’d better be... not sure how much longer I can take this walking!>

Rahsha continues idly playing some tune on her guitar. The feline’s about 5’2”, with a jaguar-patterned pelt, green eyes, and short, spiky black headfur. She’s sitting there in groundsider clothes as she waits, the only notable thing about her outfit being a large gold-colored pendant hanging around her neck.

The Madribel speaks, its voice generated by an electronic translator. “Let us not start by complaining. I am M-3-Spiral-Green, licensed practical medic. Who are all of you?”

Rahsha glances over at the Madribel as she continues to play, “Rahsha. A...performer.”

Kreegif looks up, “I’m Kreegif, qualified to operate ship’s weaponry.”

Katai relaxes as shi watches the others, drinking out of a stein (filled with synthol, so shi is in no danger of getting drunk).

Felina grips the lighter as she looks up “Felina, Security..” she looks around, almost like she’s sizing up the fellow people in the room.

The Arsuburan speaks up. “Donna Liu. Geologist and meteorologist.”

Katai hmms, looks like people are introducing themselves. “Katai, Ship’s Engineer.”

Spots looks up as well, the rather strange cheetah-lizardish looking one tilting his head and glancing about. Must be his turn since everyone’s staring at him. “Spots. Combat pilot.” He keeps it short and sweet for now.

The Grakan says “Zh’Kath.  Half-psychic.  Trained in security, specializing in criminology.”

Just about the time the introductions have been completed, the robotic receptionist beeps. “Mr. Dolando will see you all now, if you’ll move into the conference room?” Behind it, a door slides open. Katai nods at the droid and moves toward the opening door.

Rahsha slings the guitar over her shoulder and walks into the conference room.

Spots gets up and makes his way towards the conference room as well, though he tends to hang behind somewhat.

Zh’Kath gets up and goes in.

Ms. Liu gets up and files into the room, followed by Keesha and M-3-Spiral-Green, whose locomotion seems to be a cross between a tumbleweed and a sea urchin.

Kreegif waddles his way in, following everyone else, keeping his wings tucked close so he doesn’t knock anything over and appearing very awkward.  He hasn’t been off ship too much.

Felina’s ears perk as she looks up, pocketing the lighter as she slowly and gracefully moves over to the room, eyes still scanning the area.

Inside the conference room is a table with eight chairs - or the equivalent - one for each of the people present. The far side of the room is a glassteel panel, beyond which the bulky form of an Undine floats. Keesha emits a sharp whistle, and mutters to her fellow bat <I didn’t even know they -had- an aquatic section on Jobs Tower.>

Zh’Kath takes his seat.

Katai settles at an empty space between chairs, settling on her barrel feline like, and sets her drink on the table and looks around the room, taking in details and, as an engineer, critiquing the equipment.

Rahsha unslings her guitar, sitting down in one of the chairs in a fluid motion, letting the instrument rest against her leg.

Spots stands at a half-attention, his paws placed behind the small of his back, and nose held up level.

Kreegif pings around a moment, then huhs, replying, <You’d think they’d have better Keero accomodations as well!>  He looks around a bit, waddling towards a chair.

The big porpoise-like being beyond the glass wears an ornate harness which holds various gadgets within reach of his tentacles. He waits until everyone is settled. “Greetings, gentlebeings. My name is Dolando, and I represent a consortium of businessfolk who are commissioning a series of exploratory missions to open up new markets and new colony worlds at the edge of Known Space. Your resumes and preliminary interviews indicate that you would make a good team for one of our survey ships, and we would like to make all of you an offer on that basis.”

Katai nods “So, cutting to the chase, what do we do and for how much?” shi asks. Gotta love Engineers, right to the point...

Felina chuckles a little.

The Undine makes a complicated gesture with his tentacles, which the translator interprets as a laugh. “What you do, Ms. Katai, is investigate planets and star systems that we will provide you the coordinates for. The pay is higher than Class D Freight, does not include Trans-Galaxy’s forfeiture clause, and I think the ship we provide is in significantly better condition than Class D usually provides, as well.”

Zh’Kath says “That goes for the rest of us, yes?  The employment contract I mean.”

Dolando gestures again. “Of course.”

Katai nods and gives a small smile “Good. Class D freighters are a pain to keep working, the last I was on was held together with chewing gum and bailing wire, as my Grandparents would say.” as shi relaxes and lets the other talk.

While Katai is listening to the Undine, a striped fur-covered appendage sneaks up from under the table and slips around her stein, carefully removing it from the table. The drink is replaced just as carefully moments later, minus a small amount of its contents. Rahsha sits listening to the employer, now licking a stray drop of synthol off her whiskers.

Kreegif just listens quietly, trying to figure out how people can be comfortable in these stupid chair things.

“If you will turn your attention to the central display...” A holographic image flashes into place, the lean shape of a Terakama class cutter. “Since you will be operating in unknown territory, we have made arrangements to provide a ship with, perhaps, less cargo capacity than we’d prefer, but with teeth enough to deal with most problems and the fins to get away from things she can’t bite. This is the Altimara.”

Katai nods as shi looks over the ship and runs an experienced critiquing eye over the ship.

Rahsha glances at the image, not knowing much about ships but pretending to look interested by it. The display rotates for those not familiar with the design - the cutter is a bulging sword shape, relatively tall for its width but mainly long and lean. “She is equipped with two Marasaki blast cannon, electronic countermeasures, and a full shield suite.”

Zh’Kath sighs to himself. o O (At least it’s the start of a career.)

Rahsha asks, “So, what kind of pay are we expecting?”

Felina hmmms..

Katai listens quietly, going over what she knows of the Terakamas and looks around, wondering who else will be a part of the crew?

Dolando gestures again, though this time the translator doesn’t react. “We are offering 60,000 credits per month, with the first month payable in advance. All information gathered on these missions is proprietary, and your contracts will contain penalty clauses for unauthorized release of information about your target systems, but you are free to bring back samples of trade goods or minerals for your own profit if you wish.”

[Note: Class D Freight is a notoriously nasty and low-paying position with Trans-Galaxy. It pays 50k per mission and requires a 5-year contract; if you don’t complete the contract, you forfeit all pay advanced up to that time.]

Felina smiles a little as her ears flick at that.

Katai nods softly “So if one of us wanted to set up trade with the systems after we explore it and return we are free to do so? Or do we need to clear it with you and share part of the profits?”

Kreegif squirms around in his seat, somewhat distracted from the proceedings, but paying attention.

Katai is trying to translate the ‘free to bring back samples of *trade goods* or minerals.’ part of that last.

Dolando makes another gesture. “That would go under the proprietary information clause. If you wish to conduct long-term trade with any of these systems, you will need to license it through the consortium during the period of exclusivity.”

[19 years is the standard legal term for such things.]

Katai nods. “Then why would we be allowed to bring back trade goods if we can’t act upon trade them goods represent?”

Rahsha asks, “Does the company reserve salvage rights on any wrecks we encounter or are.. forced to create in the course of our employment? Or are we free to profit off such.. ‘finds’, as we would off minerals and trade goods?”

Zh’Kath says “What about any interesting technology we may find?”

Dolando explains further. “You may bring back -samples- to sell while you are under contract to explore, as part of the exploration mission. Going back to conduct long-term trade is licensed. Salvage and recovery rights if you should chance upon pirates or abandoned vessels belong to the crew, though if you exercise those rights you are also responsible for repairs to the Altimara necessitated by anti-piracy actions. Finds of advanced technology are yours under the salvage rights clauses, as well, though we will ask for first refusal rights to purchase such finds.”

Dolando continues after allowing a few minutes for the group to inspect the hologram. “At any rate. We would like to assign duties as follows: Zh’kath - Internal security officer. Felina - Ground security officer. Keesha - command pilot. Spots - copilot. Katai, chief engineer. M-3-Spiral-Green, medic. Donna Liu, science officer. Kreegif, weapons officer. Rahsha, liaison and first contact specialist. If you would like to select a captain for overall command, you are of course free to do so.”


Posts: 11

« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2006, 06:26:49 PM »

Felina blinks a few times but doesn’t say anything, looking over at Zh’kath then at Kreegif.

Zh’Kath blinks.  “‘Captain’?....I am unfamiliar with that designation.”

Katai hmms softly and looks around at the others, wondering who’d be a good captain.

Rahsha says to Zh’Kath, “The person in charge of the crew and decision making. Makes the orders for the crew to follow and gets to sit in the big chair.”

Zh’Kath blinks.  “One being is supposed to do all that?  Why not just let everyone do their jobs?”

Kreegif hrms and chirrups, “Count me out.  No way am I sitting in a big chair, if it’s anything like this presumably regular sized ones.”  He fidgets more.

Katai nods. “I’d say we’d need someone who has commanded previous crews and can use good judgement not only in day to day affairs but successful in battle with a minimal loss of crew.””

Keesha skreeks, “Some races are like that - they want someone in charge to give all the orders, whether or not she’s competent in all situations. Let’s see how things work out before we go doing that.”

Katai nods “The natural leaders will come to the for front and from them we can see who is competent.”

Kreegif chirrips at Keesha. “‘She?” he teases, then tsks, “Silly walkers.”

Zh’Kath says “The leader should depend on the situation-who is most expert at dealing with the current crisis.  This is not the natural way to do things?”

Keesha nods to the Grak’an. “Works for the Keero. We’re not herd animals, either. Shall we go see the ship?”

Zh’Kath says “Though we might want to elect a coordinator in case disputes arise as to who should be in charge in a given situation.”

Spots hmms softly, still having been at his semi-attention the whole time. “I have operational experience, but as the co-pilot, am not in position to be ship commander.”

Donna smiles at that. “We could always vote...”

Katai nods again and hmms “You could be in charge when we are in battle.” shi says to Spots.

Zh’Kath looks around.  “Several of us have already taken themselves out of consideration I think.  I myself have minimal coordination training.  Is there anyone who thinks they might do better?”

Kreegif chirrips, “Who cares about this so-called captain, people will do what they want anyway.”

Zh’Kath says “I don’t know about ‘captain’, but we should have a coordinator at least.”

Katai shakes her head “As Engineer I am busy keeping the ship repaired, and in dire emergencies, piloting the ship.”

M-3-Green does something complicated with its tentacles. “You may be the best choice, Zh’Kath. But for now, we need not worry about it.”

Zh’Kath blinks.  “SOMEONE needs to be able to handle disputes between crew members.”

Rahsha says, “How about we argue over who gets to put their name on the ship’s stationary later and go see the ship, and see about getting that payment in advance that was mentioned?”

Zh’Kath says “And disputes may happen as early as today.”

Katai nods at Rahsha and smiles “Yes, we need to move our gear and get our quarters squared away.”

Felina smiles and shrugs alittle “I’ve had experience leading and have strategic training.”

Keesha nods. “Let Spots or myself handle tactics in a space battle, and you’ve got my vote, then. Let’s see how things work out.”

Katai says, “Not to mention in my case I have to beat a few droids over the head to get my quarters revamped to my specifications plus the specifications of the other crew members - like them Keero who’ll need special gravity and atmosphere considerations, along with special bedding and seating arrangements than standard.”

Rasha thinks of something and turns to their employer, “I’ve got a question about the ship. There any restrictions on alterations made to it? Like say the engineer here decides to weld on some more armor or the gunner wants to pay for a new gun to strap onto it? Or those crew quarter changes shi just mentioned?”

The Undine smiles, a rather alarming thing to see. “Crew quarters can be altered to your comfort - and as long as any ship modifications do not decrease the value, you are welcome to make them. If you’re agreed, then, meet at docking bay JL-W-17 in an hour. You can look over the ship, and we’ll get you signed in.”

Katai nods and smiles “Will be there, Mr Dolando.” and waits for the others to stand up first.

Kreegif happily gets out of the chair, stretching a little and extending his wings a moment.

Katai stands up slowly and takes hir stein and hmms at it, shi could swear shi didn’t drink that much? Oh well, shi’ll be heading to the local bar to wait out the hour anyway.

Zh’Kath sighs.  . o O (Everyone seems to have forgotten to select a coordinator.  Oh well.  Best to wait until they see the importance of it.)

Rahsha nods an affirmative, then stands, slinging her guitar over her back as she wanders off to collect her belongings and head to the docks.

The group is met at the dock by a maintenance crew of two Pythyraxx and a Dolome who give Katai a full rundown on the ship status and let her inspect the ship. A pair of Arsubarans shows up a little later with the contracts, and a set of sealed orders is passed to the pilot when all the paperwork is completed. “All set, then. Your advance pay will be deposited in your accounts within the hour. We’ll expect you to leave sometime tomorrow - the disc with your first mission will automatically decode when you pass the hyper limit. Any questions?”

Kreegif waddles along, squeaking to Keesha in Keero, <I can’t wait til we’re outta here and back where we belong.>

Katai shakes hir head. “Should have the crew quarters done with in a few hours with help by the bots and any ground crew that can be spared.” Shi sets off to get things done to specifications based upon each crew member’s needs and desires.

Katai will also mod the pilot chairs to be hot swappable depending if it’s a Keero or the cheetah who will be piloting as well as other crew stations to the crew members who’ll be at them.

Felina follows the group “Hey, there a forge or a workshop on board?”

One of the Pythyraxx nods in approval. “Mozzt definitely, yezz. Full workzzhop in engineering zzection.”

Felina grins. “Great.”

The new crew spends the next several hours shopping while supplies are loaded aboard the ship and quarters and stations are modified for the beings that will be using them. Everyone is aboard and ready to go well before the deadline, and nothing unusual happens as the ship departs the station and gets traffic control’s permission to proceed on one of the outbound routes. Keesha and Spots open the intercoms to the rest of the ship when they pass the hyper limit a few hours later. “We’re ready to open the sealed coordinates, gentlefolk. Anyone who wants to watch, please come to the bridge.”

Zh’Kath is already on the bridge.

Katai puts hir two bots on monitor duty and trots out to the turbo lift and heads up there.

Rahsha finishes stowing her gear in her cabin and makes her way up to the bridge.

Once the witnessses have gathered, the pilot inserts the disc and the computer analyzes it. “1712 hours Day 37 2205 AT. First assignment.” A series of coordinates is read off, simultaneously feeding to the astrogation computers, followed by other information. “Preliminary scans by long-range systems based at Kath Chorra indicate that this system is a single G-type main sequence star with 8 planets, the third of which has an oxygen atmosphere. No indications of insystem belts. Determine the potential resources of this system and report back to the Far Horizons Ltd. office at 27A West End, Skyhome Alpha, when complete.” Keesha grins at that last bit. “Nice! We’re going to get to visit T’kreshti Ka!”

Spots leans back against a bulkhead as he listens and watches, his tail curling at the tip.

Kreegif chirps happily, “Good!  At least we’ll get to go someplace with some decent accommodations.”

Katai nods softly as shi listens to the data and stretches.

Rahsha rereads the mission info, “Okay, swing into a system, see what’s profitable for the corps to loot from the natives, then drop it off in an office that sounds like it’s probably sharing a building with a lawyer’s or accountant’s office.”

Katai nods “A milk run, Rahsha, should be easy and boring unless we run into space pirates.”

Rahsha grins and says to Katai, “Or run into whatever ate the space pirates if there’s none around there.”

Katai nods “Or if the planet has a budding space program and isn’t entirely primitive.”

Keesha skreeks, “West End is supposed to be -the- place for upscale businesses, Rahsha. Don’t let the address code fool you.”

Spots sits down at the nav console, and starts to work on some computations for the transition to hyperspace. “After all, might run into a nebula or bounce through a supernova, and that’d end your trip real quick, huh?”

Rasha leans over Speckles’s console and points at the display, “Look out! You’re about to hit that red giant there! Oh wait, that was just a spot of ketchup on the monitor.” She then retreats before comment can be made.

Kreegif looks al ot more comfortable on board ship, stretching out his wings again and hrrming, “Could almost glide in here.  Almost.”

Spots leans over to peer at the blob, and shakes his head, “No, that is blood.” That’s all he comments on, before he finishes up, and looks over towards the pilot. “Course laid in. ETA 11 days, 4 hours.”

Keesha chuckles and pokes the gunner with an outstretched wingtip. “You’re getting lazy. Pump the air up a little and we can fly in here. Gliding is easy.”

Zh’Kath frowns.

Keesha nods to Spots. “Looks good. Let’s get under way.” She nods to the draconic, and he hits the confirmation. The lights dim for a moment as the phase engines ramp up, and the black jewel-studded expanse of normal space is replaced by the swirling energy-mists of hyperspace, along with the usual nausea and disorientation from the shift. “Transition good. Course accepted. We are on our way, people.”

The Madribel leads the way back to sickbay. “Anyone who needs medication to overcome shift-sickness, please follow me.”

Posts: 11

« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2006, 06:35:18 PM »

The journey through hyperspace is uneventful. Katai spends part of the time installing a smuggler’s closet in Rahsha’s quarters, and Zh’Kath continues to check through the security programs on the ship’s computers. He doesn’t find anything, but he can’t shake the feeling that he’s missing something. Everyone is awake when the journey is complete and Altimara makes the transition back to normal space.

Katai comes up to the bridge and settles at the Engineer’s console just before transition, monitoring things and giving the droids any necessary orders though hir head set comm.

The system seems to be as advertised. Six of the eight planets are visible from the transition point, including the oxygen-bearing second. The innermost seems to be behind the star, as does the sixth. The Mars-class third and fourth worlds, the Jovian fifth and seventh, and the iceball eighth can be spotted on the sensors almost immediately.

Spots looks towards the others, “All right, the planets are here. Here’s the locations. What are our objectives again?”

Katai says, “To explore? We can make sensor sweeps of the uninhabitable worlds as we past by, and stop to see if the oxygen world holds civilization.”

Spots purrs, “Explore for trading or mining?”

Keesha nods. “Either or both.”

Rahsha says, “I suggest the oxygen world first, so we don’t need to walk around in spacesuits all day.”

Spots nods, “Then lets start with the ice ball and get it done with. And scan for any other planets we may have missed.”

Katai nods “We can do sensor sweeps on the way past to see what there is to be mined, but the oxygen world would hold civilization for trading.”

Spots purrs, “We’ll do orbital scans of the non-habitable planets to determine which warrant further investigation, then visit the oxygen world. After that, we can go back to the other planets and look deeper at the ones we want. Sound good?”

Katai nods at Spots “Can do.”

Spots hmfs quietly. “Should have brought a recon specialist. Who’s familiar with planetary scans?”

Zh’Kath says “I am well trained in systems operations.”

The Arsubaran smiles. “That’s why they hired me, I think. You do the scans, I’ll tell you where to look.”

The oxygen-bearing world is part way around the primary star, and Spots swings the ship past the outer worlds on the way in. The first two, Jovians 5 and 7, are typical of their sort, with multiple small moons of no particular value except for volatiles. When they reach World 4, however, the sensors pick up something odd.

Zh’Kath frowns, and starts fiddling with the sensors some more.

Katai looks over at Zh’Kath “What’s wrong?”

Zh’Kath says, “I don’t know. If I did I would say...we should proceed with caution. It is possible our communications are being jammed.”

Keesha skreeks, “Why would anyone be jamming our comms? There’s no one here to talk to.”

Spots looks back towards Zh’Kath. “Sensors, you mean?”

Zh’Kath says “Not really. It’s in the communications bands. Maybe it’s aimed at our radar. Then again, perhaps they don’t know we are alone in this system.”

Rahsha says, “Oh good, they haven’t met us yet and already they care enough to annoy us.”

Zh’Kath says “If it is indeed a hostile force.

Spots purrs, “Does the planet have any moons?”

Keesha skreeks, “One little rock.”

Katai waits for Zh’Kath to recheck.

Zh’Kath keeps fiddling with the sensors.  He looks surprised.

Katai gets up and pads over to look over Zh’Kath’s shoulders “What is it?”

Zh’Kath says “I am picking up a very strange radio signal from the vicinity of the sixth planet....can anyone make sense of this?” He displays the characteristics of the signal on the main screen and plays the audio.

Katai looks puzzled and settles at a computer console and starts to flip though the data trying to match it up with what shi remembers.

Zh’Kath tries to scan the immediate area around the broadcast.

Katai mumbles, as shi searches the computer, “Cold races, cold races, I know I’ve heard of this somewhere…” Shi looks agitated, some data that doesn’t fit yet it’s staring at hir in the face.

Zh’Kath waits for Katai to finish hir analysis.

Katai ahs and fires up a translation program shi finds and feeds the sensor stream into it and directs the output to the main viewer, full visual and audio.

The audio was probably a mistake. It’s a screeching, hooting mess, with multiple clashing harmonics - apparently the direct sound output of the creature. The translation puts up a matrix.

Distress        Distress      Distress       Danger         Danger
Distress        Danger       Danger        Attack          Attack
Danger         Danger       Attack         Attack          Disabled
Danger         Attack        Attack          Disabled      Disabled
Warning       Assist         Assist          Disabled       Assist

Felina facepalms “Yay..”

Katai hmms as shi looks at the others. “If this signal is genuine, it needs our aid, whoever it is.” Shi turns off the audio and just leaves up the matrix.

Zh’Kath tries to answer the signal. “This is Zh’Kath Verahn of the Altimara.  What is your situation?”

Rahsha says, “Gee, this sounds optimistic.”

Katai feeds the output back though the program to rebuild the matrix to transmit it. “It’ll take about 90 minutes for a response to get to us here.”

Katai hmms “I suppose we should plot a course and head for the 6th planet, have sensors out on full, and weapon systems ready? Whoever attacked it might be still out there.”

Zh’Kath says “How long will it take us to reach them?”

Spots is already running the profile. “Two hours, fifty minutes for a zero-zero arrival. Half that for a high-speed fly-by.”

Felina says, “There any type of ID that might give a clue as too who or what’s transmitting and how long it’s been transmitting?”

Zh’Kath says “All right.  We should be able to start moving towards them and receive a response to our message en route.”

Katai prepares for possible battle or rescue, has one droid ready a room for the cold races if rescue is necessary and the other one goes over weapons and shield systems to be sure nothing’s going to fail at a critical moment.

Rahsha goes to ready her spacesuit in case we have to go over onto the cold critter’s ship.

Felina does a final check on her weapons and readies herself.

Vrkur says, “We might want to stop.”

Keesha skreeks, “I’d think so, yes. Minimum time transit, we’d be passing it at half the speed of light.”

Katai nods in agreement as shi nips off to get hir suit ready and tanks aired up and ready in case of an emergency. Shi returns with hir pistol holster on hir hip with hir stunner. Shi returns to the Engineer’s console.

Spots purrs, “I’m going to get there as quick as we can while still being able to stop once we do. And we’ll go real quiet like.”

The transmission from the alien ship doesn’t change during the time that the Altimara takes to approach it. Spots takes advantage of the star to make a stealthy approach, swinging nearer to it and angling to make the final approach from straight out of the sun.

Distress        Distress      Distress       Danger         Danger
Distress        Danger       Danger        Attack          Attack
Danger         Danger       Attack         Attack          Disabled
Danger         Attack        Attack          Disabled      Disabled
Warning       Assist         Assist          Disabled       Assist

Zh’Kath rubs his fangs, then tries to determine the size of whatever’s broadcasting the signal.

Felina goes out of her room, fully equipped, going to meet the rest of the people that are getting ready.

Kreegif runs a check on the guns, in case they’re needed.

Katai nods, progress is good, though bad that the creature hasn’t responded yet to the sending.

The sixth planet has multiple moons; the ship is orbiting the largest of them, rather than directly orbiting the planet.

The ship is an odd looking thing when it is finally close enough to bring up on the viewscreen. Rather than a fuselage and nacelle shape, it appears to be a series of curved tubes, looking more like a loosely wound ball of yarn than a spaceship, with a diameter about the same as Altimara’s length. Spectroscopic analysis indicates a titanium-alloy hull, while the windows are pure water ice.

Katai skims though the computer to find a match for the ship class, hoping Zh’Kath can find markings to translate on it’s name and registry.

The computer has only partial data on the ship.

Katai pulls up the data onto a monitor next to Zh’Kath so we both can study it and try to figure out what and who we are looking for.

Standard interstellar passenger (?) vessel of the Hyall!#kata. Capable of 200 gravities acceleration. Standard weapons load unknown, but usually armed. Most commonly carries at least one electrobolt beam capable of damaging electronics systems.

Katai hrrs , passenger, and looks to see if it says what it’s crew and passenger capacities are.

Further information on Hyall!#kata?

Zh’Kath scans for the markings Katai wanted...as well as battle damage. The ship is too alien to be sure what are features and what is damage, though. He frowns and scans for life signs. “Katai?”

Katai pulls up data on the Hyall!#kata as shi tries to find out the crew and ship capabilities so shi knows how many to prepare for.

Hyall!#kata: Homeworld unknown. Cold Realm intelligence, few interactions with oxygen life. [The computer displays a holo of one of the things - it appears to be a starfish with fifteen arms. Five end in eyes, five in mouths, and the remaining five appear to be manipulative and/or mobility limbs. The holo displays a standard measuring rod - the thing appears to be perhaps one meter high and three across.] Methane breather, body fluid butane . Normal temperature range -200 to -150 degrees F.

Katai hmms at Zh’Kath. “Find its registry information?”

Zh’Kath says “No.  But I have a theory, and I have the impression you might know if it’s possible.”

Katai turns around and settles down so shi is level with Zh’Kath, giving him hir focus “Ok, hit me with it.”

Zh’Kath says “Scans show no one on the ship, but cold lifeforms on the planet.  Now - suppose, for some reason, the inhabitants wanted to be left alone and set this ship in orbit around the planet to attack anyone who cane too close, and to continually broadcast the message we heard to warn other life forms away.  What do you think?”

Zh’Kath closes his eyes and seems to meditate.

Katai ponders in thought “Possible the ship is a colony ship? “

Keesha skreeks, “Too small for a viable colony. Might be a trade ship.”

Spots hmms, “How many life forms on the planet?”

Liu says, “The planet/moon looks like a full Cold Life ecology. Temperature about -170 F at the equator.”

Katai nods at Keesha “This is true, so either emergency colony as their ship is disabled, which means we should land and assist them as much as we can, and let the other cold blooded races know so they can initiate rescue. Is the ship active at all?”

Katai says, “As if the ship is active, it could be as you say, Zh’kath, a trade, legal or illegal, ship stopping to do business.”

Rahsha returns to the bridge carrying her spacesuit, “I miss anything?”

Keesha chuckles. “Not much. It’s still sitting there, squealing away.”

Zh’Kath opens his eyes and checks the other ship’s environment status.

Spots purrs, “Are there any left on the ship?”

Zh’Kath says “And the ship is impossibly warm for those inhabitants. In fact, we could board it ourselves.”

Katai quirks? “Aren’t them windows made of ice? If so, how could the ice stand up to our temperatures?”

Felina says, “Space is cold.”

Zh’Kath says “The temperature is almost, but not quite, warm enough to melt the windows.  But you have a point.”

Katai nods at Zh’kath “There is that too, it takes an environment system to maintain that temperature, so if their environment system is off it should be the same as the space outside.”

Spots purrs, “That’s rather warm for the listed temperature they live on. Perhaps a life support failure?”

Liu runs some calculations of her own. “Black-body temperature this far away from the star is about 220 below. A bit chillier than the moon we’re orbiting, and way too low for that ship. Something’s gone wrong over there.”

Katai nods at Liu “Exactly, if the system had failed totally it would be 220 below inside the ship as well as outside.”

Katai says, “You can’t generate heat from nothing. It has to be operational but set higher either missed or some failure in the controls that let it go higher.”

Rahsha says, “So.. Shall we go aboard and poke around to see what we can find out?”

Katai nods at Rahsha “I suppose we should, perhaps even fix the ship up for them, and send someone down to let them know the ship works and they can continue on their journey.”

Spots purrs, “Anyone bring a space suit?”

Keesha skreeks, “I’ve got mine. I’ve got no idea how to fix a starfish’s environment controls, though.”

Katai nods as shi trots off and brings hirs back and looks for someone to ‘borrow’ to help hir into it.

Posts: 11

« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2006, 06:36:19 PM »

Zh’Kath helps Katai into hir suit and suits up himself.

Rahsha pulls on her spacesuit, which she retrieved from her quarters earlier.

Katai straps a full tool kit to hir waist, some spare parts in pouches, hir holster on hir hip with hir stunner, and closes everything up. Shi tucks hir helmet under hir armpit and hmms. Shi trots off to Engineering and packs a box to strap to hir taur back and nods as shi smiles as shi returns to the Bridge “Ready.”

Spots purrs, “I hope someone bought some survey gear.”

Rahsha has her dufflebag with her, and her other gear, including weapon, strapped on to the exterior of her spacesuit.

Felina puts all her stuff in her backpack, grumbling a little as she finishes up, joining the group. “Ok, everyone ready?”

The shuttle moves out carefully from the Altimara’s docking bay, scouting over the alien ship until an airlock is located. Katai had already prepared a universal docking ring, and the connection was made without too much difficulty. The next trick is to open the alien craft...

Katai moves to the airlock and settles to study the controls to see how they work, and once figure that out, operate them once everyone is ready.

The airlock opens easily enough. Beyond is a dim reddish-lit corridor that curves off in both directions. The air on the other side is chill, but not frigid; the suit monitors report it as unbreatheable, though, primarily methane and hydrogen with traces of ammonia vapor.

Rahsha says, “Methane and hydrogen.. I’m going to recommend no one light a cigarette in here.

Zh’Kath draws his pistol, activates his shield and enters.

Katai looks around the corridor and says into the suit comm “No, really?” sarcastically and hmms “Who’s taking point, and which way are we going?”

Felina looks over “There any oxygen in the air?”

Rahsha, following Zh’Kath’s lead in activating shields, comments to Katai, “I nominate someone else take point as you all have bigger weapons than me.”

Katai nods at Rahsha “And besides me, all I have is a stunner, though I bet a blaster would work great, plenty of surrounding fuel to compress and ignite.”

Zh’Kath looks up and down the corridor. “Left.”

Felina rolls her eyes, shouldering her rifle “I’ll take point.”

Katai follows behind Felina, taking notes on a electronic tablet shi borrowed from the ship, shi’s gonna update the master database on this ship class if shi survives this.

Rahsha looks around as they enter the ship and says to Katai, “Hm.. Hey, our contract said we get salvage rights. Think you could get this thing habitable? We do have a spare pilot after all.”

Zh’Kath says “The windows would melt.”

Felina blinks “I think if the owners are still alive that would be theft, not salvage, we may want to check out the moon first.”

Katai hmms as shi looks at Rahsha “I think the cold blooded on the planet below has rights over this first.”

Zh’Kath says “And who knows what else might fall apart if we do that.”

Felina glances at Zh’kath. “That too.” She looks around “Anyways. Where to, Katai?””

Katai nods in agreement “The systems were designed for this type of atmosphere.” and hmms as shi looks around, trying to find a computer terminal.

Felina says, “Left.. Heh.. There’s one vote, any others?””

Spots purrs, “We all stay together.”

Katai shrugs “Find me a computer terminal and we’ll see if we can find a map of the ship, if we can translate the language.”

Katai hmms and nips back into the shuttle long enough to fetch a portable computer that has the translation program on it and settles this on hir back as well as the box. Shi looks around again “Lead the way, Felina.”

The corridors are dimly lit, with reddish lights; they also have very low ceilings, though they are quite wide. Left does indeed seem to be the right direction... only about fifty feet down it opens up into an obvious engineering space.

Felina flicks the flashlight on the end of her rifle on then starts walking, leading with the light as she heads toward the left, her eyes carefully searching the area for anything suspicious.

Katai follows behind Felina and lets her take anything that maybe incoming.

Zh’Kath keeps his lights off (his eyes function well enough in whatever lighting is available)

Something has obviously gone wrong - the body of one of the starfish-creatures lies in the middle of the room, damaged and with pale blue sticky blood on the floor around it. One of the panels nearby has obviously exploded, but the damaged circuits behind it are unlike anything even the engineer has ever seen.

Rahsha nudges at the dead starfish-creature with a boot, “I think it’s dead.”

Zh’Kath uses his criminology training to see what he can learn here.

Katai hrrs as shi steps over to the exploded panel and starts to study it, trying to make heads or tails of what it does and how it does it.

Felina says, “One body..” She looks around then at Katai “What’s the verdict Katai?”

Katai starts to repair the panel “Possible to repair, may take a while though.”

Zh’Kath sighs and stops his prodding.

Katai traces the circuits and finds the equipment they connect to. “Yep, it’s life support. Heaters jammed on, they must’ve left before they cooked. Once this is fixed,” shi grunts as hir repairs don’t go entirely right and settles to fix hir mistakes, “the heaters won’t be full on but be regulated like they should be.”

Zh’Kath puts his hand on the floor and meditates.

The engineer works on the thing for a while. Eventually, she says, “That should do it.” and throws a switch. Apparently, it doesn’t do it, as the panel spits sparks and another minor explosion occurs.

Zh’Kath blinks out of his meditation, dives....and gets hit by shrapnel.  Not badly, though. He gets up.  “What happened, Katai? Katai??”

Katai gets the brunt of it and is knocked back and unconscious. Hir suit is torn fairly badly along her barrel; it isn’t explosive decompression, not in an atmosphere, but the toxic stuff the starfish breathe will contaminate her air if it isn’t repaired.

Spots frowns a little at the situation, and stares at the exploded area, debating whether or not to try and fix it. “Anyone else any good with repairs?”

Zh’Kath blinks at Katai, sighs, lifts hir up and heads back to the ship.

Rahsha gets hit by some of the explosion as she’s trying to loot the starfish....then is knocked out as an unconscious taur is propelled into her.

Felina blinks. “Back to the ship, now, “Leaking suits is BAD,. means oxy’s getting into the air. We don’t need that.”

Spots groans as he realizes Rahsha’s also down, and shakes his head, “All right, lets go.” He goes for the lighter one to carry back.

Felina flicks off her light and shoulders her rifle, looking to see who’s the strongest one in the party – it’s her, but Spots is capable of handling Rahsha, so she leads the way back to the shuttle, still watching out for intruders.

Felina opens the shuttle doors and hits the intercom button “Hey doc we got wounded here!”

Spots heads back towards the pilot seat when in the shuttle, and gives Keesha the situation.

The little Madribel is already bustling about. Its mechanical voice responds, “Understood when the explosion I heard. Bring the engineer here, please, have things ready. Rahsha, there in seat.”

Zh’Kath puts Katai where directed.

M-3 tsks over the injuries. “Careful with alien equipment must be.” But it works quickly and efficiently, tentacles seemingly everywhere at once. It applies medical patches to the worst of Katai’s injuries and gives them both injections and simple bandages.

Katai rolls over and lets off a string of curses that would make a space pirate blanch as the medical patch takes effect. Shi’s a bit pissed at hir repair failing. Shi takes off hir suit and spreads it out, taking out a suit repair kit, and settles to repair it not willing to let anything ship related defeat hir so easily.

Rahsha, upon awakening, also checks and repairs her suit. Then gives Katai a lecture that consists of phrases like “Warn us before you’re working on things that might explode again” and “make sure the rest of us are out of the blast radius” and...

Katai ignores Rahsha as shi is too busy berating hirself and hir intelligence as shi works on hir suit.

Zh’Kath says “Silence, Rahsha.  You think Katai TRIED to blow hirself up?  Shi took the worst of it and has suffered enough.”


Posts: 11

« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2006, 06:42:30 PM »

Katai starts to put on hir suit once it’s fixed, and with a determined look shi straps on hir tools, checks hir air, locks on hir helmet, and heads for the airlock. Shi is just a little pissed. Pissed at hir failure - shi’s going to make it right.

M-3-Green fusses as Katai gets up so quickly. “Careful be! And not to over-exert before the healing done is!”

Katai looks at the little green thing “Oh? And *how* much longer do you propose I let my failure sit there a failure while you fuss over me like I was a mere kitten?”

Spots starts to get his suit back on to follow the engineer back into the ship.

Zh’kath gets his suit on.

M-3 grumbles. “Mere kitten? Near corpse were you. Machine still be there when you recovered are.”

Katai nods “I am an engineer, it is my job, if I die saving the ship then I die, the good of the many outweigh the good of the one or the few. We don’t know if the people below are surviving or not with out their ship.”

Felina’s glad she’s not there. She spends her time patching her suit by the airlock.

Zh’Kath blinks at that.  “You’ll do no good to anyone getting yourself killed.  Think about that and calm down before you go back in there.

Rahsha suits back up after the repairs are done, and prepares to go back over again. Noting to herself to stand away from working engineers in the future.

Katai pffts as shi shakes hir head “You are not an engineer, you are a baby-sitter for the kittens who sit behind a desk, so you don’t understand.” as shi heads for the airlock again.

Zh’Kath frowns.  “If you believe that you know nothing about my race.”

The Hyall!#kata ship is unchanged, or nearly so. The suit monitors indicate a slightly colder temperature inside the alien ship now. Katai heads back to the engineering node while the others follow her.

Katai settles to study the machine further, to see where shi went wrong the last time shi tried to fix it, taking hir time, letting the healing properties of hir race work while shi uses hir mind, eyes, and scan tools.

Spots stands far enough back to be sure he’s out of any blast radius.

The engineer putters about in the guts of the alien machinery, trying to figure out what went wrong and how to repair the new damage.

Katai tries to repair the machine yet again with hir better understanding, still taking all sorts of notes with hir portable computer, with an eye toward updating the Master Database on this type of ship and its systems.

Katai works for about an hour, then nods as shi closes up the panels. “Good, we can now go talk to the people below and let them know their ship will shortly be habitable for them.” Shi looks around for a computer port.

Zh’Kath says, “Have you checked out life support?”

Katai rrfs softly.  “If I can find a computer port, I can adapt and plug in this portable computer.” She thumbs at hir taur back, having brought that along a second time “If we can translate the computer into Galactic I can run a full system diagnostics and see if anything else is broken.”

Zh’Kath says “I see.  Any luck with that?”

Katai shakes hir head as shi looks around again for a computer port.

Felina leans back against a wall, shifting in her suit obviously uncomfortable as she looks around, holding onto her rifle.

The temperature of the room is definitely dropping now, and several red lights have come on over what Katai thinks are the environmental controls.

Rahsha stands off to one side, with others between her and the engineer as she looks around the corridor, trying to figure out where exploring might be profitable.

Felina blinks a few times “Hold up, no one move..”

Katai pauses and looks over at Felina “What’s wrong?”

Felina looks around, eyes watching the consoles.  “Whatever the hell you did just turned on something. There are infrared sources switching on and off. Maybe beams or something.”

Katai frowns and looks thoughtful “Well, what band do they see in? Obviously not the same as ours.”

Spots purrs, “Where? Can you elaborate?”

Felina glances at Spots “Infra red beams, be careful, the last thing we need is some sort of defense system activating..” She pulls a grenade out of a bandolier. “One sec, I’m going to try something.” She presses the detonator and drops it at her feet.

Katai eeps! “Stop! They see in a different bandwidth than we do! Remember, the light color here is way different than on board our ship, and who says that red is bad to them? Different culture, radically different culture, might reverse that.”

The smoke pours out, turning the room into a misty blur. There do not actually seem to be any lasers attempting to cut through the murk; the infrared lamps are just lamps. After a minute or so, the smoke dissipates; fortunately, the chemicals in the smoke grenade didn’t react badly with the local atmosphere.

Katai skims the status boards as the smoke clears and hmms “If red is good, lets say, then we are all gold, I think.”

Felina says, “Yeah, well, unless they were some weird culture that likes laser shows in their hallways..”

Zh’Kath says “Katai?”

Katai nods at Felina “They are a really weird culture, we know so little about the cold blooded.” She hmms? at Zh’Kath.

Zh’Kath says “What went wrong here in the first place?  What caused the accident that killed their engineer and set their life support on its disastrous (for them) course?

Katai shakes hir head. “Truthfully, I don’t know.” Shi skims the room for a computer port. “If I can find the damn computer port I might be able to figure it all out, it should be in their logs.”

Zh’Kath says “What about physical evidence?  You don’t need a computer port to look at the state things are in and make an educated guess.”

Katai pads over to the computer terminal and nods. “True,” as shi hmms at the room in general. “But you can only tell so much from the external physical evidence, a lot of it is hidden in the walls, floor, in the access tubes, etc.” Shi settles to study the port, looking puzzled. “Oh, this is going to be fun.” What she’s found seems to match the prevailing theme of the ship.

Rahsha looks around the hall, in the vain hope some sign might be translatable as “Cargo Hold This Way” or “Ship’s Treasury” or “Armory” or anything else that sounds promising.

The chakat is looking at what might be a computer port; but if it is, it’s not going to interface well. The plug shape is a five-pointed star, with a central ground - it’ll require a bit of work back in Altimara’s shop to even start to attempt to build something that will mesh with it.

Zh’Kath snarls and stalks off to explore the other parts of the ship.

Felina’s tail flicks impatiently inside the suit “So.. What’s the verdict..?” she shoulders the rifle..

Rahsha follows Zh’Kath’s lead. She figures if anything attacks, she can flee while he deals with it.

Felina looks up “Hey, where do you two think you’re going?”

Zh’Kath says “I don’t ‘think’.  I KNOW I’m not going to stand around here doing nothing. I will look for evidence of what happened here.”

Felina says, “Yes you are, you either wait here or in the shuttle.”

Rahsha says to Felina, “We’re just looking to see if anyone’s hiding or there’s anything interesting to find to...um..figure out why this ship’s here.”

Katai sighs as shi compiles all the data and stands up “I’ll need to go back to the Altimara to build an interface device, this is a 5 state parallel system, it’s going to be a doozy of an adapter.”

Felina says to Zh’kath and Rahsha, “Yeah? that’s a bad idea. Everyone should stay together.” She looks at Katai. “How long?”

Rahsha comments, “I think spreading out’s safer, less likelihood of everyone getting injured at once if something goes wrong.”

Katai shrugs “We can explore if you want, Rahsha. At least a couple of hours, if not more.”

Felina nods “Ok then.” she grins “There, we escort her back, then we can explore while she’s working.

Katai nods “Escort and fly me back to the mothership, I’ll need a full engineering workshop.”

Felina looks up “Yes, and a weaker force is such a good idea. We don’t know what happened or what’s here.”

Zh’Kath looks rebellious, but says, “Very well.”

Felina nods “Good..”

Katai packs up hir tools and starts back toward Felina and the door heading back toward the shuttle.

Felina waits outside the airlock to the sip “Ok, somebody go with Katai and fly the shuttle back in case we need a quick escape, who’ll volunteer to wait?”

Zh’kath says, “Katai can fly the shuttle there.  Someone else can fly it back.”

Felina looks at Zh’kath “Yeah? Who?”

Zh’Kath says “Keesha can bring it back.”

Felina nods “Good for me.”

Once Katai’s on her way, Zh’Kath looks around, trying to decide which direction to go exploring in.

Felina waits for the airlocks to close and waits a few moments before heading off, walking toward the place Katai was working. “Let’s go.”

Zh’Kath follows Felina.

Felina’s walking toward the engineering node, planning on inspecting around that area first.

Zh’Kath says “I have already inspected this area.”

Felina walks past the node then, keeping an eye out for anything that could be a door.

Zh’Kath heads down the corridor, past the engineering node.

The engineering node is humming along nicely, with more red lights on the status panels. Beyond it is another stretch of apparently blank corridor leading to another bulge. This one has multiple stations to do... something. Each is a padded circular rest surrounded by five screens, each with its own control station.

Zh’Kath examines the area for a few minutes, then puts his hand on the floor and meditates.

Felina glances at Zh’Kath as she inspects what might be the control deck “What are you doing?”

Spots keeps polishing his gun, until people do something. He watches the others start to move off, and follows behind them, at a little distance in case they blow something up again.

Zh’Kath blinks after a moment.  “Sensing psychic impressions.  In future, do not disturb me when I am like that unless it is an emergency.”

Felina nods.

Zh’Kath says “I am puzzled.  The evidence indicates an accident and evacuation to the planet.  But the message we received suggested an attack.”

Felina says, “Well then.. maybe we should go look for more pieces to the puzzle. You get anything off that body before?”

Zh’Kath says “Only that it was an accident that killed him.”

Rahsha looks around the room for anything valuable that might’ve been forgotten. “A couple of things that might be tools.”

Zh’Kath says “Right.”  and heads for the other exit from this room.

Felina says, “Let’s turn around. Katai or the others would have better luck here.” She walks toward the way the group entered, then stops as Zh’kath replies.

Zh’Kath says “...and do what?  We still don’t know what happened here.”

Spots hms, “Should we really bother their ship? Let’s get back now that it’s repaired. Has anyone tried communicating with the life forms on the surface?”

Rahsha says to Spots, “Best to find out what they’re like first. Hence our ship tour.”

This node, like the last, has a corridor leading in and one leading out. Continuing down the passage this time brings the group to a five-way junction, with four other corridors meeting the one the group is in at equal angles. A close look reveals five switches, one on each corner, and a hairline crack that runs from corner to corner, outlining a pentagon.

Zh’Kath examines switches on the corners.

Felina looks at the psychic “So.. You getting anything on which way?”

Rahsha looks around, “I think I found some switches...”

Felina says, “Don’t touch.”

Rahsha points out the switches on the corners between the corridors.

Felina says, “We might know what they do once Katai uplinks.”

Rahsha says, “Maybe they’re door controls?

Zh’Kath blinks.  “Freight elevator.”

Felina blinks “Huh?”

Rahsha turns to Zh’Kath, “Freight elevator?

Zh’Kath nods.  “My intuition tells me this is a freight elevator.  I should mention that half-psychic intuition is not always reliable.  But if you look here you’ll notice a thin crack in a pentagon at the junction.  Just large enough for a starfish.”

Rahsha hmms, “If it’s a freight elevator, maybe it’s connected to the cargo bay or supply areas..”

Felina sighs and shakes her head “Fine, let’s ask the ol' divining rod..” She unsheathes her katana and stands it on its hilt. “Let’s see where she wants us to go.”

The sword falls more-or-less pointing to the corridor forward and right.

Zh’Kath says “As good a direction as any.

Felina looks as her sword falls and points down the passage, leaning over to pick it up and sheath it “All right - let’s go.”

The first bulge in this corridor looks similar to the last one. Several circular padded seats, surrounded by screens; the controls this time are equally incomprehensible but don’t look as complex.

Zh’Kath examines this area as he did the last one.

Felina chuckles and mumbles “Ok.. this is familiar..” she looks at Zh’Kath as she waits.

Zh’Kath blinks.  “Nothing important.  But I have a basic idea what this room was for.”

Felina says, “Yeah? What’s that?”

Zh’Kath says “Off-duty activities.”

Felina nods and blinks a itttle “Like a game room?”

Zh’Kath says “Perhaps.”

The air temperature is steadily decreasing. It’s down to 50 below zero now.

Felina nods “Ok, well, let’s go..” She turns to leave but stops at the intersecion “Hmm..” she takes out her sword and attempts to carve ‘game room’ in the wall of the corridor leading to the chamber as a label. Her sword doesn’t penetrate the wall, but it does cut through whatever they’re using as paint. She smiles at her handiwork and continues down the hall.

The next bulge in this corridor has the same padded circles - they must be seats of some kind - but with the center of the circle hollowed out, so that they look more like big donuts. The donut hole is a recessed hatch of some sort.

Zh’Kath examines this room.

Spots hmms. “Maybe a feeding place?”

Zh’Kath says “Perhaps, Spots.”

The third node on this branch is almost exactly like the first. Beyond it is another junction of five. Like the previous one, has five toggle switches and the same pentagonal hairline crack surrounding a starfish-sized area.

Felina hmms.. “Let’s head back and check out one of the other corridors. I don’t want to get to far from the shuttle.”

There are no surprises on the way back to the first junction, except that the scratches in the paint that Felina made seem to have vanished.

Felina blinks “Wait a minute.”

Zh’Kath frowns and keeps going back the way they came.

Felina looks at the wall she scratched. She growls at Zh’Kath. “Hey, wait up, somethin’s not kosher.” She looks at the wall and feels over it. “I carved a label into this wall.”

Zh’Kath says “I know.  Which is why I want to make sure we can find our way back.  Quickly.”

Felina takes out her sword again carving a shallow line in the wall and watches it.

Spots hmms, “Perhaps it’s an organic ship? That would account for the water windows.”

Felina nods to Spots “That’s what I was thinking.”

The scratch doesn’t change while it is watched.

Rahsha says, “Or it has some kind of self-repairing paint job.”

Felina says, “Or at the least a self repairing polymer.”

Rahsha takes a piece of chalk out and writes ‘Test’ on the wall. “Let’s see if this erases as well.”

Neither mark changes.

Spots purrs, “Stop looking at it for a second!”

Felina says, “I’ll have to remember to take a few samples before we leave..” she looks around and snarls “Ohh.. Not even that psychic knows what he’s getting himself into... Dumb ass..”

Zh’Kath returns.  “My suspicions proved groundless.  We’re not trapped here.” He looks at the marks. “Hrrmmmm....”

Felina snarls at Zh’Kath and points at him aggressively “Listen dickhead, I was put in charge of security on ground missions, so whne I say STAY TOGETHER you do it.”

Zh’Kath cocks an eyebrow.  “‘In charge of ground missions’....Where is the ground?  The way I see it, we’re still on a ship.  That means the ‘ship’ security chief is in charge.”

Felina says, “Funny, don’t fuck around.”

Felina says, “Anyways.” she looks at the corridor to the left to the one she scratched “Maybe it takes a while, let’s go and we’ll check on it when we return.”

Zh’Kath says “YOU’RE the one who decided she was in charge here.  I disagree.  If this were a combat situation I might defer to you.  But this is an investigation - something which I have more training in dealing with.  To my way of thinking, that makes me the logical coordinator.  If the others disagree they can follow you.  But... the way I see it, you have no right to talk to me that way in this situation.”

Felina looks at Rahsha and Spots then glares at Zh’Kath “Let’s continue..”

Rahsha points at the next hallway. “How about this one?”

Zh’Kath says “Wait.”

Felina shrugs “Good to me.” she starts then pauises “Yes? You find something?”

Zh’Kath uses his communicator to get in touch with the Altimara.  “Altimara?  Are you reading us?”

Spots follows along with the Felina.

Keesha’s voice responds. “....mara here. Read.... ....ference from hullmet.... ...gency?”

Felina raises an eye and chuckles “Maybe we should just stroll down and say hi to her on the shuttle.”

Zh’Kath frowns.  “Getting interference.  Between that and...whatever is happening with the walls, I say we go back and see what kind of progress Katai is making.”

Spots nods, “Lets head back.”

Katai perks hir ears up as shi hears about the hull metal interference. Shi sets one of the droids to doing a full metallurgical scan on the hull metal. Shi returns to hir project full focus.

Felina says, “Didn’t I just say that?”

Zh’Kath shrugs and heads back.

Keesha’s voice breaks in on the suit-to-suit circuit again. “Rep..ing. Boarding par.... have an emer...?”

Zh’Kath picks up the pace in returning.

Felina looks at the others “Well, let’s follow our Mister impatient in case something decides to make him a snack.”

Zh’Kath tries again when he’s in engineering.

“Repeating. Boardin... ty, do you have .... mergency?”

Zh’Kath snarls and rushes back to the airlock to try again.

Spots frowns, “Lets get back to the shuttle quickly.”

Felina sighs “They’re asking if WE have an emergency.”

Katai frowns as shi listens to the comm and goes though final checks on her interface device, running a whole host of final scenario tests, checking hir notes and rechecking them.

Felina moves back to the airlock, with Zh’Kath. “Not really. Do you have an ETA on Katai’s thingamabob?”

Keesha sounds relieved. “Ah, good. We weren’t getting much through that ship’s hull, and when we heard you call us we were concerned. Katai? How are you doing?”

Katai checks hir notes and hir results “I can try any time now, everything is showing green, or in their parlance, red. Gah, everything about them is in 5s, what a mind set they must have.”

Felina speaks into the communicator “Ok, we’re returning to the ship to pick you up Katai.”

Posts: 11

« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2006, 06:49:03 PM »

Keesha looks relieved as the party reboards the shuttle. “You had me worried when you started calling. The hull was blocking most of the transmissions. Katai says she’s ready - let’s go pick her up.” The flight back to the Altimara is brief and uneventful, and Katai boards carrying a bulky interface device.

Katai is waiting with hir device and a portable computer with all sorts of programs shi might need on it, and as many memory chips shi can get hold of, and shi is waiting by the airlock to be taken back to the alien ship.

Felina turns to look at Zh’Kath, growling a little at him. “OK, you will listen to me on this mission or you will not go! Now, I’d rather have a psychic to help us find out what the hell has happened on that damned ship, but I will NOT have anyone fucking around and endangering everyone. You say I’m acting like this is a military mission? You’re FUCKING A RIGHT I am! Was I the only one that saw the word attack in that damned distress signal, or were you to dense to hear it?”

Zh’Kath frowns. “Have you seen an enemy? Weapons fire? Any signs of combat?”

Felina says, “Lack of evidence does not mean lack of crime. And what about the explosion that injured Katai and Rahsha?”

Zh’Kath says “Until we are actually IN combat, or close to it, I consider this an investigation, which means I consider myself to be in charge.  So do not try to order me again until the situation changes.”

Keesha clears her throat. “But we don’t know for sure yet that there isn’t some enemy on board the alien ship, either. Would we even recognize something that would prey on the starfish? I think both of you have part of it. We are investigating - but if our military expert thinks something is a bad idea, let’s listen to her. It’ll be too late to take precautions after we’re attacked, Zh’Kath. Cooperation, citizens.”

Felina nods to Keesha “Thank you.” She turns back to Zh’Kath. “You’re in charge of security on this ship, dickwad. Off the Altimara, it’s a military situation unless I say otherwise. Understand?”

Rahsha says to Keesha, “Lessee, things that prey on starfish.. So we should look for giant fish in the ship?”

Keesha grins back. “Probably not fish, no. Might be smaller - can’t be too much bigger or they wouldn’t fit. For that matter, maybe ‘attack’ meant ‘sabotage’. How good is that translation program?”

Zh’Kath grabs Felina by the front of her uniform.  “I told you before when you tried to play that game that we’re not On The ‘Ground’, we’re still on a ‘ship’, so technically I’m in charge.  And I told you JUST NOW NOT TO TRY TO ORDER ME AGAIN!  I have been patient with you because you are an alien and a woman, but the next time you speak to me out of turn like that....” He lets go and drops her back to the deck. “...I will treat you the way I would another Grakan who acted the way you do and DEMAND A FIGHT!  DO YOU UNDERSTAND?”

Katai shrugs as shi goes over the recordings of the last exploration “Good question, we have had major contact with only one coldblood race. Now, I don’t care which of you two shows me around or if I go alone, but I want to visit some of these places you visited.”

Katai shrugs as shi steps on the shuttle and settles at the pilots console “Whom ever is coming with me, you have thirty seconds to get on, otherwise I am going on my own. I can care less about this squabble, there is a job to be done, and it will get done even if we have to leave these two here on the ship alone to settle their difference.”

Rahsha follows Katai’s lead.

Keesha chitters and boards the shuttle, shooing the engineer away from ‘her’ console. “My job!” She looks back at the two argumentative felines. “You two coming along, or not? I’d like to get this over with before the starfish figure out their life support is working again.”

Katai nods at Keesha and settles beside her.

The intercom beeps, and Liu’s voice comes over it. “We’re picking up something strange from the alien ship. Didn’t notice it until we were this close, but... it looks like a Union distress beacon.”

Felina growls as she’s grabbed, not even blinking as she very quickly pulls out her stunner, pressing it to his side. “Do not touch me! I will not hesitate to cut you down if you ever lay a hand on me again!” She blinks and earperks, turning to the intercom and ignoring the male as she listens.

Katai hrrs softly and sighs “Distress, we must respond, yes?”

Keesha skreeks, “A Union distress beacon?”

Zh’Kath goes up to the intercom and asks “Is it coming from the ship or elsewhere?”

Liu says, “Yes. It’s intermittent, disrupted, just like the suit radios were while you were over there. Almost like it’s got something with a beacon in its cargo hold or something.”

Zh’Kath rubs his fangs.

Katai nods “I’ll work on the computers the rest of the crew locate that distress beacon.”

Zh’Kath looks at Katai.  “...Very well then. Do we have tracking equipment?”

Keesha skreeks, “Should be something somewhere. A beacon receiver is standard equipment for a ship, for rescue work.”

Katai steps back onto the ship and heads down to Engineering. Sie comes back with a set of hand held tracking devices. Shi settles down and tunes them to the Union frequencies that are used for distress and tests them.

Katai passes out the scanners and puts one on hir belt too just in case.

Felina hmms as she looks at the item,, shrugging as she puts it on.

Rahsha idly activates her suit’s air supply, then calmly unslings her gas gun in the direction of the two argumentative felines, “Right, I suggest we follow the chakat and bat’s suggestions and do our job. Now play nice or you may wake up in sick bay strapped to a cot with a large headache.”

Zh’Kath says “I will be as calm as I can be as long as this... madwoman isn’t trying to tell me my job.  Or insulting me.”

Katai nods as shi puts on hir helmet and unslings hir own stunner “Let’s get going folks, there’s a situation on board that needs our immediate help, lay aside the arguments for when we have free time.”

Felina shrugs “I’m cool, and open to intelligent suggestions.” she walks away from the male as if nothing happened and looks at Katai “I have ideas that I may need you for later.. Let’s go.”

Zh’Kath gets into the shuttle.

Keesha chitters something under her breath as everyone boards, and then the shuttle’s drive activates and takes them back to the alien ship. She mates the shuttle to the alien airlock again and flips the front of her helmet shut. “Comm check. Let’s go find this beacon.”

Katai checks hir comm “Testing one, two, three. Reading all clear?”

Zh’Kath says “Are we all going or is someone going to stay with Katai as shi interfaces with the computer?

Felina shuts her helmet again, stretching a little. “It’s not smart to split up.” She looks at Katai. “How long will you take?”

Katai shrugs “As long as it needs to take.”

Zh’Kath says, “Are you suggesting Katai come with us?”

Keesha skreeks, “If sie can get hir computer link working, it might be able to tell us what’s what. Worth a try before we go traipsing around that maze on our own.”

Felina nods to Keesha “That’s what I was thinking. We might be able to download some sort of map into that thing.” She points at the computer suitcase.

Katai nods as shi strides off with the portable, hir device, and the memory chips for the engineering node, letting the others follow hir.

Zh’Kath follows.

Felina stays in the lead with Katai, looking around carefully as she goes.

The engineering node is pretty much as it was; the temperature continues to drop, and almost all the status lights are now red - which appears to be the starfish’s color for good. Something does appear to be different... there is condensation and frost on the walls and floor. Something is apparently condensing and freezing as the temperature decreases.

Katai frowns at the condensation and takes out a container to scrape some off into it to be analyzed “Something is polluting the air.”

Keesha skreeks, “Something probably boiled when it got up to our temperature and is freezing again.”

Zh’Kath scans the condensation.

Felina looks at Katai “Ohh, earlier I attempted to carve words into a wall so we wouldn’t get to lost and when we returned the carvings were gone, you know of and substance that could do that?”

Katai thinks on that one. “Immediately I’d say droids, which wouldn’t show up in a lifesign scan, that are programmed to keep things tip top. Uhh, as for chemicals...umm… nothing I can think of.” She shakes hir head and moves to one of the walls, taking out a scraper and a fresh container and chips off some of the paint into the dish to analyze the paint later in the lab.

Zh’Kath says “Ammonia....why would enough ammonia be in the air to cause this?”

Katai hmms “Do we know what type of atmosphere they breath? If we do we can scan to see if the ratios are right.” Sie settles at the computer port and starts to set things up for hir next task.

Keesha skreeks, “When we first boarded, it was about 80% methane and 15% hydrogen, with the rest various minor components. There was some ammonia, but it might have been a byproduct of overheating. Their normal temperatures are too low for gaseous ammonia.”

Zh’Kath looks at Katai.  “Ammonia is condensing around everything.  Will this be a problem?

Katai ponders as shi plugs in the probe and settles at the keyboard “Doubt it, the filters should take most of it out of the air once it freezes.” Sie hmms as she starts to download the data stream and sets up the decoders and decrypters to try and translate it into something shi can read and understand.

The small handheld units do not have the power of the ship’s receivers, but on the other hand they’re much closer and not listening through hullmetal. The directional indicator seems to be toward the center of the ship.

Katai looks up and brushes hir paws off once shi is done and says “This might take a while, I can download the computers into this portable behemoth and set it to try to translate their language into something readable by us. Understandable by us is another thing.”

Felina says, “Shoot.”

Katai ahems. “Please don’t. I’m trying to repair the systems, not further damage them.”

Felina chuckles “You know damn well what I meant.,

Katai smirks as shi swishes hir tail, shi checks the portable’s screen to see how it’s progressing.

Zh’Kath frowns.  “The beacon is on another level.  I do not believe we should look for it until we have a firm idea of how the lift works.”

Keesha chuckles. “Well, maybe we can sell the records to some intelligence service.”

Rahsha says, “I suggest we push one of the switches and see if it calls the lift?”

Katai nods at Keesha “I was thinking of sending it off to Info City. They can translate the whole mess into something understandable and give us a better understanding of the cold blooded races.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Zh’Kath says “You surprise me, Rahsha.  You do not consider it risky to get into a situation you’re not sure you can get yourself out of?”

Rahsha, “Not really. Plus we already have our space suits on. What’s going to happen? We suddenly get exposed to a vacuum?”

Zh’Kath says “What can happen is we get ourselves stuck on one of the other levels and run out of air.”

Felina nods.

Katai looks at it “This will take a while to do, and the beacon is a distress beacon. As for getting out, sure there are other airlocks, just a short space walk to our shuttle if we get stuck. But, we shouldn’t get stuck, not with me around.” as shi smiles and starts on down the other corridor toward the lift.

Felina gets up and moves, following next to the chakat.

Keesha skreeks, “She’s got a point. Can’t hurt to try. And we’re not going to be able to get anywhere if we don’t.”

Zh’Kath follows.

Rahsha shrugs to Zh’Kath, “I’m good at getting out of locked areas.”

Katai settles at the controls and starts to study them, thinking in patterns of 5 now that shi knows *that* much about them from hacking into their systems. The rest step onto the pentagonal pad. Katai hmms softly in thought and reaches out to flip a single switch, the one to the left, and holds hir breath.

There’s a pause, and then the lift starts to move, the pentagonal piece of flooring moving down through a pentagonal shaft. A new pad takes its place, Zh’Kath having to duck as it slides into place overhead, and then there are only the walls of the shaft sliding upward around you.

Zh’Kath blinks and frowns.

Katai hmms “That’s down, OK. “ as shi makes detailed notes on hir tablet computer and watches. Shi reaches out to flip the switch once at the next junction.

After about ten seconds, a new corridor junction comes into view, briefly, but the pad continues to drop. Another pad slides into place over your heads as it continues to descend.

Keesha skreeks, “Well, that doesn’t seem to have done anything. We’re still going down.”

Katai hmms “Is the beacon coming level?” as shi moves to the next switch to the right to wait for the next junction to flip that one once.

Zh’Kath scans for it. “We should be level with the beacon at the next stop.”

Katai frowns in thought “OK...” Shi returns to the same switch, waiting for the next floor to come up. 

About five seconds past the second level, the shaft ends, the pad continuing to descend through apparently empty space. This is a cargo deck, from all appearances, and the beacon is suddenly loud and clear. The wreckage of an obsolescent Union fighter is huddled in one corner.

Rahsha looks around at cargo space, “Now we get to see the interesting stuff..”

Zh’Kath says “First thing’s first, N’KaaHreiLa’nn”

Keesha skreeks, “This looks like our stop. Do you think the elevator is going to?”

Katai shrugs “I hope so, unless this switch needs to be flipped counted for each level number. Once for 1, twice for 2, etc.” and reaches for hir tablet computer to pull up the 5 state binary table shi was working with while designing the interface “Or in their weird binary system.” She pauses. “Well, binary is wrong, it’s pentatary.”

Keesha spreads her wings out and dives off the edge of the platform, spiraling down to the floor below. “I’ll wait for you here if it doesn’t stop.” She’s right - the elevator doesn’t stop as it reaches the floor - it reverses direction, and starts back up. Katai tries again at the next floor, gets another reversal, and soon realizes that each switch is simply coded for a particular destination. With that knowledge, shi figures out the pattern easily and brings the elevator to a halt on what seems to be Deck 3.

Katai steps off and steps over toward the wreckage and starts to study it with hir engineering eyes and background knowledge. “It’s an old Saldrallan Viper 2. Hasn’t been front-line equipment for a century, but they’re common enough for system defense fleets and convoy escorts. Doesn’t look too out of date…” She peers into the cockpit, and then carefully brushes scorch away from a plate under the forward gun emplacement. “Last maintenance overhaul about half a year ago. Looks like it’s been in a fight. And the emergency cryopod is also showing occupied. Shall we revive the occupant?”

Zh’Kath says “What race?”

Katai steps up to the cryopod and looks at the status board. It’s a Checchi. Whatever they are.” Shi hmms. “Probably not in a space suit. OK.” as shi checks to see if the pod can be disengaged to run on its own internal systems so it can be transported back to the ship.

The cargo deck is full of interesting objects. Some things are universal - crates are crates, and even the starfish are slaves to packing constraints - the crates are hexagonal prisms.

Rahsha looks at the crates, “So many choices.. Eeny, meeny, miney, moe..”

Felina looks at Rahsha “Hands off at the moment, we’ll peek and split it up later OK, don’t want to get bogged down do we?”

Rahsha turns to Felina, “You folks are busy with the ship, no? That’s not my area of expertise. Finding out the contents of crates is, however.”

Zh’Kath puts his hand on Rahsha’s shoulder and says “First thing’s first, N’KaaHreiLa’nn.  Let’s deal with the lifeforms here before salvage.”

Katai starts to disengage the cryopod “We’ll need to carry this pod back to the ship, the occupant won’t be able to survive in this environment with out a suit. Then there we can put the occupant some place safe before reviving it in case it’s dangerous.”

Keesha looks under Katai’s shoulder. “What’s a Checchi?” That apparently is the name; the readout has just switched to Saldrallic script, but the pronunciation is the same.

Felina says, “Well, let’s do it, I’d put survivors above items.”

Rahsha says, “If I could make a suggestion?”

Katai nods at Felina “It’s going to be heavy, unless I can find some sort of cargo lift to use and figure out how to use it.”

Rahsha says, “Let’s send the cryo pod back to the ship aboard the shuttle with a pilot and a guard. The rest of us can stay here to continue exploring. There’s no need for us all to keep moving back and forth. Or just load the cryopod on the shuttle and leave a guard with it in case the inhabitant decides it’s time to wake up.”

Katai looks to Felina and lets her make that decision.

Zh’Kath looks at the pod.

Felina says, “Let’s see how heavy it is.”

Zh’Kath tries to lift it.  Manages, but starts groaning, and puts it back down. “A little much for me.”

Katai reaches to pick up one side, motioning Vrkur to get the other side of it “Well, decide what you want to do. We are heading to the shuttle to drop off this pod before the internal systems run out of power.”

Zh’Kath lets Katai get the other end.

Katai starts off to the lift platform with Zh’Kath carrying the pod between us, letting the others catch up. Rahsha lags behind a moment, opening one of the hexagonal crates and taking a sample of the waxy substance that fills it.

The trip back to the shuttle is uneventful, though the cryopod has to be cycled through the lock by itself due to its size. Katai is pleased to find that her computer download is complete, and shi brings the system with her. M-3-Spiral-Green looks fascinated by the cryopod when it arrives. “These Checchi I must be looking up before revival. Information on board is. Are we ready to leave?”

Zh’Kath says “No. This is just another piece to the puzzle.”

Katai hmms as shi looks to Felina and Zh’Kath “Shall we revive this Checchi or shall we have a few guards posted before in case it’s dangerous?”

Zh’Kath says “I recommend Fel be ready to attack it if necessary while I question it.”

Katai steps back and unholsters hir stunner and has it in hir paw, though down at hir side so it’s not threatening, and lets the doc take over the procedure.


Posts: 11

« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2006, 06:51:28 PM »

The Madribel’s voice-box isn’t really designed for it, but M-3 manages to make it produce an amused snort. “Is not being dangerous, I assure you. Will take hour or more to thaw out and will not be in any condition to attack when does.”

Felina nods.

Keesha pilots the shuttle back to the Altimara, where a cargo tractor lets the little Madribel trundle the cryopod back to the sickbay. The Checchi, as it turns out, are even smaller than the pod indicated - a cadet member of the Union, the picture of one in the datafile looks like a cross between a gerbil and a hedgehog.

Zh’Kath says “While we wait for our guest to wake up, what have you got, Katai?”

Felina looks at the thing in the pod.

Rahsha asks M-3-Spiral-Green, “Would you be able to run an analysis on something for me?”

Katai nods “Not yet. It’s binary readable finally, but it’ll take more time and work to decipher it to human readable.” Shi plugs the portable to upload the file into the main frame into a protected file and runs the translation program on it using the mainframe’s power.

M-3 waves a tentacle at Rahsha. “When the Checchi thawed is. Busy now.”

Rahsha hms and looks around the room at the others, trying to decide if any of the other crew members might be able to do a chemical analysis.

Felina looks at M3. “So.. when will that be?”

The mechanical voice is just as dispassionate as always. “When done is. Two hours if no problems and kibitzers not pulling my tentacles are.”

Rahsha asks, “Is anyone else here capable of running a chemical analysis?”

Felina blinks “Huh?

Katai says, “Anyway, let’s give the medic some space, let us go explore those weird areas on the ship and let me figure out what they do. “ as shi turns and heads to the shuttle.

Spots clicks on the intercom from the command deck. “I’m observing a shuttle lifting from the moon. Drive signature indicates a Cold Race ship.”

Zh’Kath says “Try to raise them.”

Rahsha asks Zh’Kath, “Think you could figure out what this is?” She shows him a sample of a wax/paraffin-like material.

Katai sighs “Well, that sucks, anyway, guess we won’t be exploring more of the ship.” and returns to the computer to watch it translate and analyze the copy of the computer download.

Zh’Kath says “Perhaps....and I will try, but right now, we have another problem.” He heads up to the bridge.

Liu’s voice joins Spots. “We’re transmitting a basic greeting filtered through that translation program. No response yet.”

Zh’Kath stops.  “How long till they reach the ship?”

Katai leaves hir suit on, helmet next to hir, as shi fiddles with the main frame and studying what it’s spitting out so far.

Spots says, “About twenty minutes, unless they change course. The ship’s distress call, if that’s what it was, turned off a few minutes after you left with the life pod.”

Zh’Kath snarls and continues to the bridge. When he arrives, he runs his own scan on the alien shuttle.

Katai comes up to the bridge and turns on the Engineering substation and scans over it.

Felina goes to the bridge.

Rahsha follows the others to the bridge. She knew they should’ve looted first and rescued second.

Kreegif dangles upside-down over the weapons controls, keeping an eye on things, waiting in case he’s gotta explode something.

The shuttle reads the same environment as the Hyall!#kata ship, now that it’s been repaired. The scanners aren’t really designed for Cold Race life, but there seem to be a half-dozen of them on board.

Keesha slips into the copilot’s chair. “We’re getting a transmission. On screen.”

Zh’Kath says “We may be entering combat soon, so Kreegif, be ready to take command.  But wait for either me or Rahsha to declare an end to diplomacy.”

Katai turns to study the main screen to see what pops up.

Rescue     Rescue    Cold           Hot           Query
Repair      Ship        Hot             Cold         Query
Repair      Cold        Cold           Attack      Query
Repair      Rescue    Gratitude    Reason     Query
Query       Query   <Altimara>? Gratitude  Query
Zh’Kath sighs.  “Their meaning is fairly obvious, but it seems more meaningful communication eludes us.  Rahsha?”

Katai hmms “They think in fives, their computers work in pentary, their bodies have 5 limbs, 5 corridors, 5 levels. So we get 5 groups of 5 words.” and thinks a moment and starts to run basic pattern matching on the 5 by 5 pattern in the main frame, then shifts it off to Rahsha to do the more detailed analysis.

Felina says, “Maybe they want to know if we, the rescue/repairers are hot or cold, if we mean them harm and why we did it.”

Keesha checks the pre-translated datastream. “Interesting. They’re using our transponder squeal as an identifier for us.”

Rahsha says, “I believe they’re either saying they rescued the Union alien in medbay, or we rescued them. That they were attacked by another cold race. And that they’re asking why we’re rescuing them and expressing gratitude?” She turns to Katai for the pattern analysis.

Felina looks at Rahsha “That too..”

Katai hmms as shi says “They are actually sending five parallel streams. The matrix appears to be an artifact of the translation.” Shi runs that though the translator and pattern matching to see if anything comes out for the parallel idea instead of matrix idea. “Fascinating race, they think in parallel I am guessing, five parallel streams being sent, and the translator matrixes it up for us. So it’s readable but not entirely understandable with our existing program.”

Katai puts up the matrix block shi has so far next to what the translator put up on the main viewer, so they can be viewed side by side.

Felina sits down to let the brains do the thinking, popping some aspirin.

Katai thinks on this “Rescue Rescue Hot Cold Query.” and thinks a moment “With just Rescue Hot Cold Query” I’d say they was asking if we rescued the hot blooded from them. But why two rescue at the beginning? “

Rahsha says, “Perhaps indicating both that we rescued the alien and that we’ve rescued them by repairing the ship.

Keesha skreeks, “Or maybe just emphasis, and to round out the five?”

Katai nods “Ah, yes, emphasis.” and looks at the next “Repair Ship Hot Cold Query” is them asking if we repaired their ship. So I’d say we send “Repair Ship Hot Cold Yes” in response to say yes we did. Or, ah, ‘Repair Ship Hot Cold Affirmative’ , they may not understand yes.”

Katai says, “Or, well, query is a computer term. We send a query, or question, and get true or false. So in my final version “Repair Ship Hot Cold True” “

Katai keys that up and waits to get an quorum on if shi should send or not.

Felina nods “Sounds good.”

Katai nods and presses send to toss that though the translator to the shuttle.

The Hyall!#kata shuttle docks with its mother ship, and nothing more is heard from them for the time being.

M-3 sends a message up to the bridge about an hour and a half later. “Almost awake, he is. Wish to greet him?”

Zh’Kath goes down to greet him.

Katai stands up and heads for the med deck with Zh’Kath.

Rahsha heads down as well, followed by Keesha.

Felina earperks and heads to the pod, getting her stunner ready. Kreegif, Liu and Spots remain on the bridge for the time being.

M-3 is watching over the pilot of the wrecked fighter. He’s a tiny thing, a squirrelish creature with powerful hind legs. He’s perhaps the size of a large cat or a small dog, but with a crest from his head, down his backbone, to his tail-tip of sharp spines. “Still in his suit, he was. Fit inside lifepod that way, along with some of his gear. Waking up, he is.” The gear in question are small weapons, a spacesuit, and armor to fit the creature.

The Checchi turns out to be a small, rodentlike creature, about two feet tall and weighing maybe thirty pounds at the most. Most of that weight seems to be in his legs and hindquarters, suggesting a leaping or hopping creature. By contrast, the forelimbs are almost an afterthought, tucked under the torso when not in use. A long tail stretches out behind him about four feet long, ending in a tuft of quills. The same quills run down the back of his head and along his spine in a narrow stripe, giving the overall impression of an oversized jerboa with a bad hair day. He is wearing a Union flight suit, tailored to let the quills out.

Katai nods as shi studies the weapons, suit, and armor.

Zh’Kath switches to Saldrallic, figuring that a Union pilot would be most likely to know it. “You are on board the company ship Altimara.  We found your damaged craft on board a Cold Realms ship. Will you explain how you got there?”

Mree’Chil coughs softly, lets out a soft groan, though the tailtip twitches a bit.

Zh’Kath waits for the creature to recover more.

Rahsha adds, in the same language, “And don’t go for your weapons or else the cheetah with the stunner may become trigger-happy.”

Mree’Chil coughs again, eyes flickering a bit, then blinking open. It lets out a startled “*Chirk!*” noise and scrambles to its feet, or tries to. Cold sleep doesn’t let go very fast. He flops back against the table, eyes trying to focus on the crew.. Finally it takes a breath and answers, “Am.. I prisoner?”

Felina says, “Don’t know yet.”

Zh’Kath says “Not yet.  Answer the question.”

Felina looks at Zh’Kath then the person.

Mree’Chil chirps, “Tired.. You are.. Not Union? *kaff* Who are you?”

Zh’Kath says “I told you.  The company ship Altimara.  Business-owned.”

Mree’Chil ahs and nods, getting to his feet, somewhat unsteadily. With his size, he’s still shorter than most of the crew, even standing on the medical bed, “I am rescued, then?”

Rahsha nods, “Can you tell us what you needed rescuing from?”

Keesha skreeks, “I think so. Who were you fighting when your ship got shot up?”

Mree’Chil coughs again, though softer this time, “Don’t know.. I was.. Protecting a convoy.. very important to my people.. Pirates attacked us, though we were going through uncharted space..”

Felina says, “Were they cold blooded?”

Katai looks up from what shi is studying and hrrs “So you apparently got left behind and the cold blooded took your ship on as wreckage.”

Felina says, “And like starfish?”

Mree’Chil shakes his head, “Never saw who they were.. don’t think they were the *chirricut*, the cold-blooded, no.. Starfish?”

Zh’Kath says “She describes the aliens we found you with.”

Felina nods “At least one of them.”

Zh’Kath says “When was this?  What date?”

Mree’Chil shakes his head to clear it a bit, “Raider-class frigates.. Two of them. Ugh.. They must have been hiding in the cometary cloud.” He blinks at the question, “Ah... You wish to know how long I have been in cold sleep.. It was day... three hundred-something.. 305, I think. 2204 AT.”

Keesha skreeks, “And today is 49, 2205. You’ve been asleep for 104 days. Not too bad.”

Mree’Chil relaxes a bit, “Ah.. good. I was worried that I might not wake up for a few years, at least.. Or not wake up at all..” He shakes out his mane and tail with a light rattling of quills, looking about.

Mree’Chil takes a deep breath, “In that case, I owe you my life.. I am Mree’Chil, of the Checchi, scion of Lre’chil, of the line of Great Horizons. My family’s accomplishments are many and great, and I aspire to their honor.”

Keesha skreeks, “Well, the starfish didn’t try to wake you, it seems. Welcome aboard. We’re doing a survey of an unexplored system at the moment, we’ll get you back to civilization when we’re done. How does T’kreshti Ka sound?”

Zh’Kath says “Hrrmmm....seems your fighter went adrift and was taken aboard by those starfish.  You can stay here while we finish our mission in this system and return to base.  There no doubt you can contact one of your consulates and arrange for transport home.  Provided you will cause no trouble.”

Katai nods. “The cold blooded probably know next to nothing about hot blooded biology so it was safer for them to leave him in cold storage.”

Keesha skreeks, “Seems fair. We don’t know much about their biology, either.”

Mree’Chil nods, “I.. think I have heard of that place..” He nods to the other, “I have sworn the Oath of Five Rivers, and hold minor classings in xenobotany as well as shipboard navigation and repair, in addition to my duties as a pilot. If you will allow me, I will assist in what ways I can.”

Rahsha asks, “What is the Oath of Five Rivers, if I might ask? The term is unfamiliar to me.”

Keesha translates to Galactic with a grin. “Skyhome One. Only the most cultured place in the Frontier Zone. Just ask any Keero.”

Mree’Chil ahs, “It is.. a promise by those of our people who are entering military service. Very old.” He recites it, first a line of his chirping language, followed by translations. It sounds like a cross between the Hippocratic oath, the lord’s prayer, and a liability waiver. Basically accepting what it means to be a warrior.

Katai hmms softly “So we have a warrior, good, I am going to assume he’ll report to Felina then?”

Mree’Chil oohs, nodding to her, then responding in Keero’ki, “I was unfamiliar with that name for it, we have not gone that way yet.”

Mree’Chil switches to Galactic, “Er, no.. it is an oath by all the military forces.. I am a fighter pilot, first and foremost.”

Felina lowers her stunner a little.

Zh’Kath says “I don’t know what ‘Oath’ and ‘Promise’ mean, but I think we can treat you as a guest.”

Mree’Chil motions over to the table behind the stunner-toting Felina, “In that case.. if I may, my clothing, please? You have no doubt examined it and not found anything more threatening than fabric?”

Felina says, “Not my call.”

Keesha skreeks, “Zh’Kath’s in charge of security. If he says you’re acceptable, then you’re in.”

Mree’Chil nods, “I shall not claim skill or prowess until I know of the fate of the convoy I guarded, but I believe I fought well in their defense. I offer my services to you as needed until I do.

Zh’Kath shrugs.  “For now, as I say, I think we can treat you as a guest.”

Mree’Chil nods.

Katai nods as shi steps away from Mree’Chil’s stuff and settles down so shi isn’t too threatening. It’ll be fun, now shi really has to watch hir step.

Felina puts her stunner away and yawns, lightly poking Katai “Need to speak to you about a project whenever you finish with that other ships transmissions. Mabe rack up a few creds for the patch job.”

Katai noddles at Felina “Perhaps we can help each other.” as shi smiles.

Felina says, “Yes. That may be best.”

Mree’Chil gets dressed.. Those tables are cold.

Felina slings her suit over her shoulder and heads to her quarters.

Katai heads back toward the bridge to see how our cold blooded friends are doing.

Mree’Chil waits to see what accommodations are to be made for a ‘guest’.

Katai pauses “Oh and if you have any special requests for your quarters, Mree’chil, let me know, I am Katai, the chief engineer.”

M-3 says, “Sleep here for now. Wish to make sure you completely recovered are.”

Mree’Chil nods, “I do not wish to be a bother.. At my size, an empty storage container will more than suffice, though if you have one with food air filtration, that is ideal..”

Keesha grins. “We do have a couple extra rooms if you want one of your own, later. Might as well be comfortable. We can talk shop...”

Katai nods at Mree’Chil “Give me your specifications and I’ll have the droids do it.”

Mree’Chil nods and hops back up onto the padded table with an easy bound, settling down with his electronic tablet and catching up on some reading..

Keesha skreeks, “I’m going to head back to the bridge for now. The Hyall!#kata are being quiet since they went back to their ship, but there’s no telling if they’ll stay that way. Feel free to join us if you get bored.”

The Madribel turns back toward Rahsha as the others depart. “Now, something you wished me to look at there was?”

Rahsha nods. “I need this sample analyzed, please. If you don’t mind.”

The medic takes it and rolls back to its workstation for a few minutes of analysis. “Some sort of wax this is. Wax and other organic compounds. List of components here is.”


Posts: 11

« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2006, 07:04:40 PM »

The Hyall!#kata ship remains silent for a short time after their shuttle docks with it, and then another transmission begins. The translation program breaks it down as:

Hot           Cold      Cold       Repair       Query
<Altimara>    Hot       Hot       Query       Query
Gratitude    Query       Eegop       <untranslatable> Query
Gratitude    Remember    Cold       Cold       Gratitude
Hot       Sleep       <Altimara>    Transfer    Query

Zh’Kath snarls, starts to say something, stops and looks at Rahsha.

Felina says, “Yes yes yes yes yes?”

Rahsha says, “I believe the translation is as follows: They’re asking if we repaired their ship. They’re asking about the warm-blood lifeform from their hold. I’ve no clue what the untranslatable bit. They’re expressing gratitude and want us to remember we have their gratitude. And they want to know if we have the sleeping alien from their hold.

Felina says, “What’s Eegop?”

Keesha skreeks, “Another of the cold races. They’re not too weird, we’d trade with them sometimes back home.”

Zh’Kath snarls, starts to say something, stops himself, and says “While Katai is busy you seem to be the closest thing we have to an expert here, Rahsha.  What do you suggest?”

Felina nods to Rahsha. “I’ll take that. Is there a way we can… uhh... query them if everything’s fine on their ship?”

Keesha shrugs. “Best bet is to take our message and feed it back through the translation program.”

Rahsha thinks a moment, then sets up a matrix of her own. “Perhaps. try: 

Hot       Cold       Cold       Repair       True. 
<Altimara>    Hot       Hot       Query      Query
Query       Eegop       <untranslatable> Request    Explanation. 
<Altimara>    Remember    Cold       Cold       Gratitude 
Hot       Sleep       <Altimara>    Transfer    True

I’m not sure on that second line.    I’d go with Keesha’s recommendation to use the translation program, however. See if we can find out what the untranslatable phrase is.”

Zh’Kath says, “I...have limited faith in the ability of that system to get across our meaning to them without a major misunderstanding.”

Felina nods “I agree.. Can we at least review the message before it’s sent?”

Rahsha runs it through the translation program, and smiles. “See? The translator agrees with me.”

Felina raises an eye at Rahsha, chuckling a little “You have my vote.”

Keesha skreeks, “The translator’s agreeing with itself, more likely. But that’s a good sign in a translation program.”

Zh’Kath stays quiet.

Keesha skreeks, “So, should we send it?”

Rahsha says, “Unless anyone can think of a reason we shouldn’t..?”

Spots nods, as his finger hovers over the transmit key. “Going once.” He pauses.  “Going twice.” His finger stabs down on the switch. “Sent!”

The alien ship remains silent for something close to five minutes, and then running lights blink in a complex pattern and it begins moving out of orbit.

Felina mumbles something.

Rahsha blinks, “OK, I guess that means it won’t be answering our questions. Anyone have an idea on that light pattern?”

Keesha shrugs. “No idea. But it’s recorded now.”

Zh’Kath says “I consider ourselves lucky we didn’t start a fight.  Honestly - one would think an interstellar race would be better at making themselves understood!”

Keesha skrees, “They’re probably thinking the same thing about us. Pity we didn’t have a chance to examine that body in more detail. They’ve got five of everything else - what if they had five brains?”

Felina blinks at Keesha “That’s one hell of a case of schizophrenia..”

Keesha skreeks, “It would explain the parallel channel transmissions, though.”

Zh’Kath frowns.  “We do well enough communicating among hundreds of different races.  What races do you think THEY communicate well with?”

Felina looks at Zh’Kath and shakes her head “You know it’s very possible that WE came off as gibbering moronic three year olds.”

Kreegif grins. “But clever ones. We put their life-support back together.”

Felina nods.

Keesha skrees, “So. It was an interesting little encounter, but it seems to be over. Back to our main mission?”

Zh’Kath says “I don’t doubt that we sounded...strange to them.  But I attribute this more to them than to us. I see no reason not to continue our main mission.”

Felina says, “Different culture man, open your mind a little.”

Rahsha nods to Keesha, “Yes, back to the pillaging.. I mean, exploring. Hey, wait, I just thought of something. Let’s check if they left anything down on that moon they were waiting on.”

Felina pokes Rahsha lightly “Watch it. Though it does sound like a good idea to scan it.”

Zh’Kath does so, and the data comes up on the screen. There is no sign of technology or power generation on the surface, though there is a great deal of cold life. “Nothing. Oh, well.”

The remainder of the inbound leg is uneventful. The two Martian worlds don’t appear to be anything out of the ordinary, and the Altimara settles into orbit around the Terran second planet about eight hours after the Hyall!#kata ship vanishes into hyperspace.

The world looks fairly ordinary from orbit. Extensive oceans are broken up by numerous broad archipelagoes and a half-dozen small continents. Surface gravity is 0.95 standard, and surface temperatures range from 115 F at the equator to just below freezing at the winter pole.

Felina says, “OooOOoo... Must remember to return here for a vacation.”

Rahsha says, “Well, let’s start scanning for lifeforms and settlements.”

The planet is rich with life - most of the islands seem to be covered in jungle. If intelligent life exists, though, they have not yet reached the stage where they have detectable power generation. Even on the night side, if there are any campfires they are indistinguishable from natural forest fires.

Rahsha hms, “Well, that wasn’t very useful.. Can we scan for minerals? Or limit the life form scan to species already in the computer’s data library? See if anyone else has set down here before.”

Zh’Kath frowns.  “Some useful mineral concentrations here and there, no technology at all.... but I can’t scan some of the islands.  The jungle is too thick.”

Rahsha asks, “You can’t scan the islands? Is the vegetation enough to block the scanners, or is something actively blocking them in those areas? And can you be a little more specific on kinds of minerals?”

Felina blinks “Huh? Would leaves and wood really interfere all that much?”

Zh’Kath says “The vegetation itself seems to be blocking them.  It surprises me too, Felina. On the continental masses, I’m picking up uranium, thorium, tungsten, cobalt, and rare earth deposits.”

Mree’Chil hops in through the bridge door, looking about, “Ah.. Hello. Doctor.. thing. said I was OK to be moving about.”

Keesha skrees, “M-3-Spiral-Green. I think it doesn’t translate very well.”

Felina says, “Maybe we should pop down and see.. The air’s clean right?”

Mree’Chil nods, “That it does not.. In any case, may I be of assistance?”

Zh’Kath says “The air is fine.  And now that I look at it, it seems the vegetation isn’t blocking the sensors so much as there’s nothing but vegetation on those islands.”

Mree’Chil’s ears perk up, “Hmm.. what sort of vegetation?”

Zh’Kath looks at Mree.  “What kind would you like?”

Mree’Chil hops over to look at the console, “Any will suffice.. Xenobotany is something of a professional hobby of mine. Are the mineral deposits in large quantity? A life-bearing planet with heavy minerals, truly a valuable find.. If it’s not already inhabited.” He rattles his tailquills a bit, looking at the botanical data.

Rahsha says, “Should probably ask our engineer if there’s any minerals that might be useful for ship repairs. Are any of the deposits close to the surface, and do we have any equipment for retrieval of them?

Mree’Chil scratches his chin thoughtfully, “Obtaining ores may be only a portion of the problem. Refining them takes a lot of time and effort, as well as a great deal of mess.”

Zh’Kath says “Our mission is to locate these ores and other items of interest.  Mining them isn’t our job.”

Rahsha nods to Zh’Kath, “But we are allowed small amounts of personal goods from items of interest that we come across, as I recall

Mree’Chil nods, “Though your employer may appreciate samples.. and there certainly may be other items of interest. The planet has a great deal of plant life, perhaps I can assist with that?”

Keesha skrees, “Plant life - or animal life, for that matter - is a possible source of useful chemicals and pharmaceuticals. I would assume we should map out the useful ore deposits and check the jungles for exotic biochemistry, nie?”

Zh’Kath says “Up to you, N’KaaHreiLa’nn.  But I doubt we ourselves can get enough ore to make it worth our while.  As for samples...I see no reason why not.”

Felina nods “I agree.”

Mree’Chil nods, “I will see if I can talk.. Spiral.. green.. something.. out of a few specimen containers and possibly some other equipment that may be of use..”

Rahsha says to Mree’Chil, “If you’re going to be collecting plants, you might want to ask Katai if shi can rig up one of the rooms to act as a greenhouse or something so you can keep live samples there.

Mree’Chil nods, “If it is permissible, I do not require as much living space as the others on this ship, I could have them in my quarters.”

Keesha skrees, “Not a problem, if you want. We’ve got half the hold set up for biosamples if we find good ones. Part of the mission brief, after all.”

Mree’Chil nods, “Ahh.. excellent.. I will head to sickbay to see about setting up some sort of field kit, then.” He hops down from the console and out the bridge door excitedly..

Keesha skrees, “Cheerful little guy, isn’t he? Where shall we set down first?”

Zh’Kath says “Perhaps he enjoys his work.  I say we start at one of the islands I mentioned before, then see if we can get a few ore samples.”

Felina says, “I don’t care.”

Keesha glances at Zh’Kath. “Let’s try one of the more temperate ones, I think. You don’t look like you’d be too comfortable at the equator.” She starts tapping controls, and the ship is soon decelerating and spiraling in toward one of the islands in the northern hemisphere.

Zh’Kath says “If necessary I can use a spacesuit.”

The ship enters the atmosphere without any trouble, and is soon approaching the island that the bat picked. “Coming up on our destination, Zh’Kath. Want to see if you can find a landing spot?”

Felina gives Zh’Kath a wired look then shudders, looking back at Keesha “I’m going to get ready what’s the ETA?”

Zh’Kath glances back at Felina. “Something wrong?”

Felina stoops and looks back at Zh’Kath “I just hate those things.”

Zh’Kath says “What things?”

Keesha skrees, “Spacesuits? They’re okay, as long as you haven’t been eating the wrong stuff...”

Felina says, “What ever you say.”

Zh’Kath shrugs and directs Keesha to a landing spot. “There should be a clearing two miles ahead.”

Mree’Chil hops back in, toting a small pack and securing various items to his equipment harness, “I’m ready whenever everyone else is.. How is the air there?”

Zh’Kath says “The air is fine.”

Keesha brings the ship to a hover over the chosen landing zone. “Well, crud. The place is underwater.” Sure enough, the clearing in the jungle seems to be a pond.

Zh’Kath blinks, snarls and scans again.

Mree’Chil says, “How deep is it? Perhaps we can land upon the shore without difficulty?”

Rahsha departs to her quarters for a bit, returning with her usual duffle bag.

Felina returns with her back pack and her armored coat on, stretching a little with a grin.

Zh’Kath says “The water is shallow, but I am not confident we will not sink if we land.  Your call, Keesha-if it doesn’t support our weight, can you keep us from getting stuck here?”

Keesha frowns. “Should be able to. Spaceships float as long as they’re intact, anyway. I’ll set her down gently.” The bat does just as she says, and the ship settles gently down, the descent arrested before the ship is floating. “Looks like the vegetation is strong enough to support us.”

Keesha skrees, “The trick is... how do we get to dry land? I’m as close to shore as I want to get. I suppose we could use the topside emergency airlock and walk out along the wing until we’re next to the shore.”

Felina says, “Wouldn’t it be easier to land the shuttle?”

Keesha skrees, “Where? I suppose we could nudge it closer to the trees, but the trees are everywhere. There’s no place but these soggy clearings to land.”

Mree’Chil says, “I’d rather not swim if I can avoid it. While all these empty containers will float, swimming isn’t something my species is built for.”

Zh’Kath says “Anything wrong with Keesh’ suggestion we walk on the wings?”

Felina shakes her head “Nope.”

Keesha skrees, “Swimming isn’t high on my list, either. The wings will get us close; we can lower one of the groundside access ladders to get back to it later.”

Felina nods, and looks around “Let’s go.”

Mree’Chil waits for someone to show him where the topside hatch is. He checks his breath mask filters, as well as the charges on his weapons. He secures the straps a bit better, as this was meant to be a belt pouch for someone larger, not a backpack.

Mree’Chil hmmms, “Interesting... I don’t think there’s any actual soil here.. The plants appear to be aquatic.

Felina nods “Yeah.. Where’s the dirt?”

Zh’Kath says “The scans didn’t find any. I thought it was a problem with the scanners, but…”

Felina looks at the Checchi. “Plants usually grow in dirt right?”

Mree’Chil says, “Watch your step.. Presumably, they’re either feeding off nutrients in the water, or have long tether-roots..”

Keesha dips a wingtip in the water as she reaches the bottom of the ladder, and tastes it. “Pah! You’re right. It’s salt water!”

Mree’Chil carefully hops over onto a large tree root, “Not all the time.. most planets have naturally-occurring hydroponic species.. this just seems to be a very large version.”

Felina says, “Mabe we should’ve brought the shuttle, What do you think the chances are of the ship sinking and if it does can it handle the pressure?”

Mree’Chil says, “Limited chance of it sinking, provided nobody opens a hatch on the bottom of the ship..”

Felina nods “Like pond scum?” she looks around “Only larger..”

Keesha skreeks, “She won’t sink. She’ll float if the roots give way, and if the vegetation is thick enough to fool the sensors, it should support her.”

Felina nods “Good.”

Mree’Chil nods, “Much. seaweed might be a better analogy.. There may be dedicated buoyancy reservoirs for each plant, or there may be a single species that provides flotation as a symbiotic relationship...”

Rahsha asks, “Is it the amount of plant matter that’s blocking the scan? Or some attribute of the plants?

Felina says, “Maybe the uranium?”

Keesha skrees, “That was off on one of the continental masses.”

Mree’Chil says, “I’m going to guess that it’s simply that the scans aren’t penetrating the water *under* the plants..”

Mree’Chil says, “May as well start here..” He rummages in his pack for a couple specimen jars, fills them with water from the ‘pond’, eyeing it critically, “Hmm.. definitely some algaeforms in there.. give me something to do in my spare time, isolating them.”

Felina looks at the ladder “Is that hatch the easiest accessible entrance to the ship?”

Keesha nods, “It is if you can’t swim.”

Felina sweatdrops a little “Gotchya.”

Zh’Kath says “As I said, I would seem to have made a mistake there - it wasn’t that the plants were blocking the scans, but that there’s nothing but plants here.”

Keesha skrees, “So how often do you have lily-pads twenty kilometers across? Understandable mistake.”

Posts: 11

« Reply #10 on: August 09, 2006, 07:06:01 PM »

Felina says, “Plants are good, if they can hold up a ship we may be able to plant on planets with high percentages of water for housing and food, let’s move on slowly and take samples of each that we can.” She looks at Mree’Chil. “Sound good?”

Mree’Chil examines the rest of the forest, hopping in a little ways, occasionally examining some of the smaller, secondary plants. “Hmm.. I think it’s more a collective than a single unit.. hard to tell, though The bulk of it may be located beneath the surface, with these being out in the air for some reason. Most likely aspiration, as pollination could be handled by ocean current much more effectively..”

Rahsha grins at Mree’Chil, “Or it’s actually a predatory plant waiting for small creatures to run across it, picking at the bait of its visible parts.”

Mree’Chil nods, “Keep your eyes open for animal life, as well. Most likely avian or amphibious, I’d imagine.”

Keesha glares at Rahsha. “Oh, now that is just a lovely thought.”

Mree’Chil chuckles a bit, “Well, one way to find out.. I’d been wanting a core sample from one of these larger trees anyway. If they have growth rings, we can find out a lot about the weather..”

Felina says, “I’m betting on aquatic/amphibious.” She shoots a glare at Rahsha “I wouldn’t test fate, don’t you ever watch movies, people that say things like that are the first to go..” she glances at Zh’Kath “Like ‘lets split up’.” She chuckles.

Zh’Kath blinks and looks to the right.

Rahsha’s ears twitch and she turns to look at the water, “What was that?”

Felina earperks and looks around “Something hit the water.”

Mree’Chil looks up at the others, having pulled his dagger to get the aforementioned sample. “Fell in, you mean?” He hmmms, looking up into the branches.

Keesha skrees, “Or jumped.”

Zh’Kath kneels down and closes his eyes.

Mree’Chil scoots so that he’s between a tree trunk and one of the larger folks.

Felina points at a spot in the water to the right and a little ahead of the landing party. “Over there, it was about a foot long.” There are a few ripples where she’s pointing, spreading out from a central disturbance.

Zh’Kath blinks and get up.  “You saw something, Fel?”

Mree’Chil’s quills bristle out along his back and tailtip, “Possibly just a fish snacking on a bug, or the like.. I’d rather not take too many chances, though. Some of us are more conveniently bite-sized than others.”

Felina nods “Yes. I’d suggest we go fishing but if they’re sentient that may not be the best first impression.”

Keesha skrees, “Not if they’re sentient fish, anyway.”

Zh’Kath says “We should find out something about them.”

Mree’Chil hops up onto a higher root, keeping an eye on the water, though he proceeds to carve a deep sliver out of the tree with his vibrodagger.

Zh’Kath moves closer to the water to get a better look.

Felina looks back “I’ll be right back.” She moves over and takes out a coil of high strength line from her coat, tying it to the latter then ties the other end around her waist, moving back to the water, shining her light into the water.

Rahsha moves closer to the trees and lets the other felines play in the water.

Mree’Chil, deciding the others are keeping an eye out, warily collects his specimen, tagging it and putting it in a specimen bag.

Zh’Kath gets Fel’s attention and points. “That fish-thing is right behind you.”

Felina blinks and earperks “What?” she looks back behind her.

Zh’Kath is pointing at it.

The chitai has just begun to turn when the little creature flashes forward, leaping out of the water and fastening its teeth on the end of Felina’s tail.

You whisper, “Don’t worry about it. It’ll hurt, but it won’t do any real damage. It’s not poisonous.” to Felina.

Zh’Kath roars and rushes towards Felina.

Felina yelps, flicking her tail about and growling as she grits her teeth, looking at Mree’Chil “Specimen container!! NOW!!!”

Mree’Chil *CHRK!*s, rummaging in his pack, “Don’t think I have anything that big.”

Felina glares at Zh’Kath as he rushes at her then grabs the ‘fishes’ tail, attempting to pull it off her tail!

Rahsha comments to Felina, “Somehow I don’t think that tail decoration’s a good look for you. Too much thrashing about that could knock things over.”

Zh’Kath tries to grab the fish, too.

Felina knocks Zh’Kath's hands away!

Zh’Kath says “What now?”

Felina pulls the fish off her tail and holds it tightly “OK.. Let’s get a container for it then.” she flicks her tail in front of her to look at the tip.

Mree’Chil hmms, pulls out a clear plastic bag, “This should do it..?”

Zh’Kath says “Who here is trained in medicine?”

The fish-thing squirms, but Felina manages to stuff it into the plastic bag, where it continues to squirm around. It’s about half muscular tail, which is apparently how it accelerated rapidly enough to pounce the moving tail-tip.

Keesha chitters and climbs higher up into the trees. “Not me.”

Felina assumes the bag’s filled with water.

Mree’Chil hmmms, “Someone else want to carry this? It’s a bit heavy...”

Felina looks at her tailtip. It’s bruised, the fish-thing’s jaws were quite strong, but it’s not bleeding and nothing appears to be broken.

Zh’Kath says “I will carry it.”

Felina looks at Rahsha. “Mind taking this little bastard inside?” She blinks and hands it to Zh'Kath instead when he offers.

Mree’Chil nods, “Good looking fish.. If nothing else, this planet will be a popular fishing hole..”

Rahsha looks to Zh’Kath, “Sorry, medicine’s not my field.” Then turns to Mree’Chil, “Make sure to note the fish’s diet as ‘chitavore’.”

Zh’Kath says Assuming you can find customers who don’t mind little incidents like this one.

Mree’Chil chitters a bit, quills relaxing a bit, “Noted... On the plus side, Felina gets it named after her.. ‘Felina’s Little Bastard Tailbiter’.. has a nice ring to it..”

Zh’Kath looks at Felina.  “How does your tail look?”

Rahsha snickers at Mree’Chil.

Felina smoothes out her fur “I’ll live..” she stands and growls at the fish. “Try that again and you’ll be dinner!”

Zh’Kath says “You do not think it was poisonous?”

Mree’Chil shrugs, “Hey, you caught it, your call what we do with it..”

Felina says, “Bastard fish goes inside, let M3 check it out.”

Zh’Kath says “We should bring it back for study.  No doubt that will satisfy your temper.”

Mree’Chil keeps his eyes on the water, and his tailquills bristled out as he examines some of the higher tree roots.

Felina unties herself and coils the rope, putting it away and pointing away from the clearing. “Let’s go a little deeper..”

Zh’Kath says “You saw something else that interests you?”

Keesha skreeks, “Maybe she thinks one of them isn’t enough for dinner.”

Felina says, “Don’t know yet, think I’ll be staying away from the water though.. Just be sure not to move too far from the ship..”

Rahsha suggests to Zh’Kath, “Maybe she wants to see how many other bits of her she can have bitten, so she can get more species named after her. Things like ‘Felina’s Ohmygodwhatisthat?!? Ear-Gnawer’ or ‘Felina’s Argh! Getitoffmyfoot! Anklebiter’.”

Mree’Chil tsks, “Be nice... though keep your tails up.”

Felina gives Rahsha a look, gripping the grip of her rifle very tightly..

Rahsha grins and wraps her tail around her waist.

Zh’Kath says “Don’t shoot her, Fel.  If you’re going to fight, do it... ‘honorably’ I think is your word for it.  Claw against claw.”

The rest of the afternoon is uneventful; Mree’Chil fills up a lot of specimen containers and the group discovers that the local insect-type life doesn’t quite understand what to do with mammalians, which means that no one gets bitten but everyone gets the bugs tangled in their fur. As the sun gets low in the sky, they head back to the ship. Felina and Zh’Kath are still arguing.

Zh’Kath says “You think it is better to repress your temper?  Perhaps you are right.  I do not understand your race sufficiently to judge.  All I know is if you were Grakan you would have a right to a fight right now.”

Felina glares a little at Zh’Kath “You’re right - you don’t know me or my race. Let’s drop it.”

Zh’Kath is silent.

Mree’Chil just keeps his tail bristled. Anything biting it gets what it deserves. He’s intrigued by some of the hints he’s getting from the island ecosystem. With a bit of genetic engineering, he suspects, they could use a variant of this back on his homeworld to help filter toxins out of the oceans.

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