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Chapter 51 (Original Archive)

Elizabeth 10/27/2010

Irsa

Irsa listened to the crew's attempts to talk to the creature out there. "I wonder if it understands you. I also wonder if it thinks we're people. It might not think or know we're people. There was this bush on the Warden, near my tribe, that became sentient. That means a people, right? Scared everyone for a while. Food isn't supposed to argue with you. But eventually we got it to quit attacking us in return for compost." Irsa says, feeling a bit homesick for her tribe.


supreme_arbiter 1/24/2011

"I wonder if it understands you. It might not think we're people. There was this bush on the Warden near my tribe that became sentient. That means people, right? Scared everyone for a while; food isn't supposed to argue with you, but eventually we got it to quit attacking us in return for compost," Irsa said, feeling a bit homesick for her tribe.
"This creature might think that we're its compost," Arkady said with a nervous chuckle.
Bud twitched as he worked the drone's controls, jerking his head from side to side like he wanted to dance in his chair. "Are you thinking of using the drone as a missile?" Arkady asked.
"Possibly," Bud bobbed his head in time to a silent rhythm. He sent the drone diving toward the prone shape kneeling at the edge of the excavation. The creature's image was dark in the thermographic video image but its silhouette was steady and centered, growing as the drone flew closer. Bud felt certain he could hit the creature if he stayed on target but he was not prepared to oppose Nike's authority for the sake of hunting an unknown animal. He wheeled the drone about again and said to Nike, "I could kill it if you want."

Nike ignored Bud for the time being and switched through the translator's database. She chose languages at random and spoke into the microphone. The ship's external loudspeakers converted her voice into the speech of native tribesmen from earth, ancient tongues from vanished civilizations, and words from lexicons known only to academic linguists.

Nothing seemed to affect the creature. Then, without warning, it slid a paw down the side of the excavation. The motion at first was nearly imperceptible, like the shadow of a minute hand on an analog watch, but soon its rear paws came into view and the creature was clearly descending toward them.

-end transmission-


gammaben 5/12/2011

Percy

Nothing seemed to affect the creature. Then, without warning, it slid a paw down the side of the excavation. The motion at first was nearly imperceptible, like the shadow of a minute hand on an analog watch, but soon its rear paws came into view and the creature was clearly descending toward them.
At Amanda's station, the two academics both tensed their neck muscles at the sight of the creature's movement toward Pandora, as viewed through the bridge view-screen.

"Eep!" Percy managed to squeak, at the sight of the creature's movement toward them. "Um, so I'm wondering where the line is."

"What line?" Amanda asked matter-of-factly.

"The line we need to metaphorically draw in the sand. The line which, if that thing crosses it, we do something drastic. Like blow it up. Or at least, close the door! Just for the record, my vote is that the line is somewhere significantly far away from our ship!"

"But what if we're communicating with it? Maybe it is moving closer because it understands us?" Amanda asked, both the former Warden instructors pairs of eyes still locked on to the screen.

"Well, considering that the plan for our present short-term mission does not include having our friends, comrades and crew mates be eaten by fish, snakes, or flying... fish-snakes, I think we should err on the side of caution." He recalled the tragedy at the lake, and the present threat's first presumably deadly strike.

"That is true. Statistically, our mission's success does decrease with the loss of each resource."

"We're people, not resources!" Percy said, shaking his head disgruntled.

"For purposes of the calculation, I was depersonifying us into variables."

Percy sighed and drooped his head briefly. Amanda was frustratingly beautiful, but sometimes repulsively analytic. The combination worked both for and against her.

Walking back to his bridge station, and assuming the rest of the bridge crew had overheard his conversation with Amanda, he continued. "Well you all know my thoughts. We need to draw a line, unless our ship is the line." He looked to Nike, deep in thought. He looked to Bud and his blood-thirsty grasp on the drone's maneuvering controls. The others he took in as well, then realized something.

"Waitaminute, we don't know what this thing is, or how to talk to it. But maybe someone else on board does."

Nike's eyebrow arched. "The natives?"

Percy nodded. "Depending on which of them we ask, we may need a security escort! But I'll go grab them if you want!" Percy was an idea man, but he was also an action man. The suspense compelled him to act, and he wanted to do something!


gglass 5/31/2011

THX-1492

"That is true. Statistically, our mission's success does decrease with the loss of each resource."

"We're people, not resources!" Percy said, shaking his head disgruntled.

"For purposes of the calculation, I was depersonifying us into variables."
At the sound of the words 'statistically', 'calculation', and 'variables', shook THX-1492 out of its long, painful diagnostic. The AmnesiacVirus that had been embedded itself deep, deep within the robot's memory systems was very clever indeed.

But not clever enough. It had left enough traces of its damage to be tracked by THX's relentless SARDAUKAR program. And after several hundred years, SARDAUKAR had finally won.

The Amnesiac had attempted for so long to destroy the precious files from the Warden's Prima-code. It also was sophisticated enough to attempt to delete the Ultra-Emergency Alpha-Omega comms from long dead Earth. Thank whatever Machine-gods, THX-1492 perhaps 'believed in', that Lt. Matahachi's unknown secondary CPU unit had self-activated and unleased SARDAUKAR unto the unsuspecting AmnesiacVirus.

Which of course raised the question, who or what had downloaded Amnesiac into THX? And if it was, or had been, in THX, where else might Amnesiac had been implanted into? Pandora perhaps?

All of this internal thought processing took just a few micro-seconds to compute when the external danger became apparent.

THX-1492's visual sensors registered the alien pit creature moving slowly towards them. A distant alarm from Earth's ancient past rose upwards through the robot's memory.

It began to flail its robot arms to warn its vulnerable comrades:

"DANGER, DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!!! DANGER, DANGER!!"

(perhaps there was leftover damage from Amnesiac after all!)

THX-1492 {aka George}


supreme_arbiter 8/3/2011

IAS turn 60: 4th Evening at the Excavation

-----< On the Bridge of the Pandora >-----

Percy walked back to his station and said to the rest of the crew, "Well, you all know my thoughts. We need to draw a line, unless our ship is the line."

"I think the line in the sand should be the range of Pandora's turret," Arkady replied. "We should stun that thing if it gets too close."

Percy scrutinized Nike's inscrutable face, saw Bud's blood-thirsty grip on the drone's controls, and experienced a sudden realization. "Waitaminute, we don't know what this thing is, or how to talk to it, but maybe someone else onboard does."

Nike arched an eyebrow. "The natives?"

Percy nodded. "Depending on who we ask, we may need a security escort."

"Janus," Arkady suggested. "I think Horatio made his perspective clear; he'll see nothing but demons and illusions. I don't trust him or his students."

Nike nodded and sent Percy to quarters. He returned a few minutes later with their guest; Janus seemed to sense the crew's uneasiness and bowed politely, thanking them for sharing their food and allowing him to see the wonders outside the ship earlier that day.

"We hope you can assist us with the local wildlife," Nike said, gesturing to the large monitor on the main console. "Do you recognize that creature?"

Janus peered at the dark image of a shadowy, cat-like creature crawling down a steep embankment; it had descended another dozen meters into the excavation since Percy had left the bridge. "I have never seen such a creature before. Men return from the desert telling strange tales, but none have described such a place as this. How long ago was this moving picture made?"

"It's happening right now."

"Incredible! I had no idea these windows could show the present. Can they also show the future?"

"DANGER, DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!!! DANGER, DANGER!!" THX-1492 spun its arms in alarm. The robot had parsed Percy and Amanda's conversation as: 'Statistically... decrease... calculation... variables', then shutdown its systems and booted into its secondary CPU. The SARDAUKAR diagnostic programs had begun churning and thrown an error:
> AmnesiacVirus detected!
> attempt to cleanse systems failed
> logging infected registry entries...
> virus quarantined successfully
> Prima-code unaffected
How long had the clever virus been hiding in its systems? If Matahachi had not installed a new CPU, THX-1492 might never have detected it. Could the virus have destroyed the Warden's precious Ultra-Emergency Alpha-Omega comms? While THX-1492's visual sensors registered the alien creature slowly moving toward the Pandora, the robot considered who or what could have infected it with the AmnesiacVirus.

-----< Outside the Pandora >-----

The silver bird's enormous size terrified Coeurla. She believed everything her mother had said about this forbidden place. The strange creature had stopped squawking as if calling for help; she expected it to attack at any moment, but it did not move. Her stomach rumbled. Slowly she descended the steep pit, clinging to roots with her sharp claws; Coeurla reached the valley floor without making a sound.

The strange bird was still and lifeless. She began to suspect it was not a creature at all, but the emissions radiating from the towering head were so powerful that Coeurla could feel them from a few hundred meters away. She traced the gently curving waves emanating from the creature with her tentacles.

A trench led into a small stone building between her and the silver bird. Coeurla crawled toward it.

-end transmission-

[OOC: The Pandora is sitting in the excavation where the "N" direction indicator is located on the map, and the cat-like creature is on the southern side of the exavated ruins.]


gglass 8/4/2011

THX-1492

THX-1492 boomed through its intercom rather more loudly and harshly than normal.

"SUPPRESSION SUCCESSFUL -- PRIMARY ALPHA-OMEGA PROGRAMMING PRESERVED -- WARNING: REGISTRY CLEANSING POSSIBLE TEMPORARY -- CONSTANT MONITORING NECESSARY FOR PRESERVATION OF ALPHA-OMEGA WARDEN REBOOT"

The light coming from its visual receptors was brighter than normal. The whirring of its fans was faster. If one looked closely, one could have sworn that it was 'standing' more erect. Its mechanical joints were trembling with an almost 'animal' intensity as if it were a lion ready to pounce on its prey. The robot acted as if it wanted to throttle somebody.

"WARNING: AMNESIAC-VIRAL INFECTION DETECTED AND NEUTRALIZED BY SARDAUKAR MONITORING PROGRAM -- PRIORITY COMMAND: EXAMINATION OF ALL SHIP'S SYSTEMS, SUBSYSTEMS, AND INDEPENDENTLY OPERATING MACHINE AND BIO-TECH ENTITIES FOR POSSIBILITY OF AMNESIAC-VIRAL INFECTION MANDATORY IMMEDIATELY! -- MANDATORY OVERRIDE OF ALL OTHER CONSIDERATIONS! -- MESSAGE DELIVERED TO COMMANDING OFFICER -- ACKNOWLEDGMENT NECESSARY -- ACKNOWLEDGMENT NECESSARY -- ACKNOWLEDGMENT NECESSARY!!!"

The robot stared at Nike with a terrifying, fanatic intensity as if it wanted 'something' and wasn't going to wait long to get it.


supreme_arbiter 10/14/2011

IAS turn 60: Paralysis

[How the crew of the Pandora spent their 4th evening at the excavation]

"PRIORITY COMMAND," THX-1492 exclaimed, "EXAMINATION OF ALL SHIP'S SYSTEMS, SUBSYSTEMS, AND INDEPENDENTLY OPERATING MACHINE AND BIO-TECH ENTITIES FOR POSSIBILITY OF AMNESIAC-VIRAL INFECTION MANDATORY IMMEDIATELY! MANDATORY OVERRIDE OF ALL OTHER CONSIDERATIONS!"

"Hold on a moment before you connect to the ship's systems," Nike replied, "Pandora, can you hear me?"

"Of course, Nike."

"That creature has reached the bottom of the excavation. If it attempts to cross the meadow, I want you to hit it with the rifle in your turret. Can you do that?"

"Affirmative Nike."

The crew held their breath as the creature crept past the ruined dropship on the other side of the excavation. Crawling on its belly, it stole through the tall grass and entered the meadow. The Pandora's cameras focused on its head as it approached the ship. The weapon's targeting mechanism activated and red crosshairs locked onto the pantherlike face; the creature froze in place, its dark tentacles waved, and a red bolt slashed across the infrared monitor, striking the center of its back. The creature stiffened and fell over.

"Got it," Bud yelled.

"Did we?" asked Nike.

"The paralysis rifle's systems are nominal," Pandora announced. "Life signs are positive. The creature still lives; I detect no movement."

"Well then," Arkady said, "what do we do now?"

"NOW CONNECTING TO PANDORA," THX-1492 announced. The robot initiated the SARDAUKAR diagnostic program and began scanning. The ship's brain was enormous; its photonic memory chambers were vast and deep and THX-1492 calculated a thorough search would take many hours, but its patience was unsurpassable.

[OOC: The Pandora is parked at the bottom of the excavation in the northern clearing (where "N" is marked on the map) and the paralyzed creature is on the southern side of the dark stone ruins in the open meadow north of the ruined dropship.]

...and here's a first look at the creature:




gammaben 12/14/2011

Percy

As THX-1492's klaxonic outburst transitioned into a silent diagnostic of Pandora's systems, Percy pondered the robot's frantic warning. He considered something silently as the beast outside was neutralized, then shared his thoughts aloud.

"Guys," Percy began, using the term as a generality as opposed to attempting to attract the attention of only the males within earshot. "Am... I... a bio-tech entity?"

His memory loss was no secret. He had previously attributed it to scrambled genes, or an incomplete cloning, or a fault memory engram, or a combination of all of them. He continued his thought progression as those around him turned to consider his aural self-examination. "Shlitzee has already confirmed that I, and most of the rest of us, are some kind of synthetic bioroid, not fully human."

Continuing with a sense of worry clearly creeping into his tone of voice, Percy explained. "You all know my memory has been scrambled eggs from the moment I awoke on Warden. Maybe someone sabotaged Alpha Sequence to prevent any clones from awakening with knowledge meant to be kept secret?" Perhaps the saboteur could not or was not willing to disable Alpha Sequence completely, out of a sense of emergency necessity--after all that was the purpose of the clone contingency program. His pulse raced and Percy grew nervous.

He didn't want to interrupt THX-1492's train of electromechanical thought, but Percy Jenkins was desperate to know what it knew, now that the robot had vanquished the nefarious virus in its memory. Could the key to the mystery of his entire brief existence be just out of his reach behind some artificially constructed memory block at the genetic level? He wondered if Shlitzee had a surgical maneuver or nasal spray to treat such a diagnosis.

[OOC: Awesome! D&D Displacer Beast image recycling. LOVE IT!]


Elizabeth 12/14/2011

Irsa

Irsa has no idea what Percy is talking about. At least not well enough to care or offer an opinion. She knows that most of the crew are copies of the original crew although some have mutations the original crew didn't have. Irsa focuses on the creature outside wondering what it is or should be called. And on whether it will be safe for her to go foraging tomorrow.


supreme_arbiter 12/26/2011

IAS turn 61 - Stunning Mystery Companion

[OOC: Thanks for the posts for THX and Irsa; special kudos to Percy for guessing part of Coeurla's lineage ;^) Muwahaha!]

"NOW CONNECTING TO PANDORA," THX-1492 announced and opened a secure socket to the AI's shell. LEDs glowed in the tireless robot's transparent faceplate. Data quickly filled its capacious buffers, and THX-1492 parsed each packet in a fraction of a millisecond, but Pandora's photonic brain was vast and deep; processing it all would take time.

Nike patted the robot's chassis. "Thanks! Let us know what you find but don't make any changes yet; we're guests on her ship. Now, I want that creature outside taken alive. Shlitzee, do you think you can sedate it?"

The robot's eyes spun lazily. "Certainly willing to try."

"I'll watch your back," Arkady volunteered.

"Waaaaitaminute! My memory has been scrambled eggs from the moment I awoke on Warden. Maybe someone sabotaged Alpha Sequence to prevent any clones from awakening with knowledge meant to be kept secret?" Percy, his brain working much faster than his tongue, wondered if Shlitzee had a surgical maneuver or nasal spray to treat such a diagnosis.

"Great question," Nike sighed, "but first we've got a wild animal to secure!"

Percy raced for the gangplank behind Arkady. They stopped at the armory and Arkady took the Sturmkarabiner assault rifle; Percy grabbed the combat shotgun and a green orb, remembering Bud's lesson on the safe use of gas grenades.

Outside, Pandora switched on her floodlights and illuminated the excavation floor. Percy, Shlitzee, Irsa and Arkady crept toward the creature that had been stalking the ship. Its chest expanded with shallow breaths; its head was larger than a tiger's, and the tentacles sprouting from its dark fur resembled something from a forgotten nightmare.

Expecting the creature to leap to its feet, Arkady approached cautiously with his rifle raised.

Shlitzee experienced a shuddering uncertainty that hindered the proper functioning of her actuators, something like what humans called fear. She opened a channel to Pandora and initiated a backup of her neural network in case her body required rebuilding; then she concocted a cocktail that would have sedated an elephant back on earth. She injected it into what looked like a vein and examined the creature. "I think that'll do its trick."

"Mission accomplished, I think," Percy told Nike.

"Excellent! Do you think we can use the airlock as a cage?"

"I can lock both doors and vent fresh air from outside," Pandora replied.

"Good. Shlitzee, have your assistants and Hephaestus help you carry the creature to the airlock and lock it inside."

As the crew watched the robots haul the heavy animal's sleeping body back to the ship, Irsa asked, "What should we call it?"

"If I have my way," Arkady replied, "I'll call it dinner."

-end transmission-


Elizabeth 12/27/2011

Irsa

Irsa wrinkles her nose in distaste at Arkady's statement. "Got plenty of food, don't need to eat it." Irsa says, shaking her head at the idea. (Hamsters are herbivores who eat meat only if no other food is available. It's been several generations in her tribe since their last famine.)


publius1024 12/30/2011

Arkady

Arkady looked away. "Not so much need as want. I haven't had meat since... well, never really; I can't remember much of my former life but the smell of ground beef on a grill comes back to me sometimes. It would be good to have something besides vegetables and HEaVE protein bars in the pantry. But still, if I knew this beast could talk and could convince me it hadn't planned on eating us, I'd say it's off the menu."


Elizabeth 12/30/2011

Irsa

"Oh, okay. You don't eat people, that's good. I remember the legends about humans. That they could eat anything. But you don't eat other kinds of people." Irsa relaxes and wonders if the creature is a people or not. If it was a people they could convince it not to eat them with words. She also hopes THX and Pandora don't get sick from the virus THX detected. Machine viruses were nasty to live metal.

supreme_arbiter 3/13/2012

IAS turn 62 - Dawn, Day 5 at the Excavation

[OOC: Wow, 2.5 months since the last turn; sorry, game on!]

Irsa relaxed and wondered if the creature caged at the back of Pandora was a person or not. Perhaps Nike and the crew could convince it not to eat them, but not tonight. Irsa was awake with excitement, but it was late and she was eager to go foraging in the morning. She retired to her chamber, shut the door, and tried to sleep.

The stunned creature also slept. Arkady watched it on the bridge's main monitor until his eyelids grew too heavy, but THX-1492 was tireless. The robot remained on the bridge when everyone else had gone to bed, except Caleb who kept watch through the night; the robot kept its processors focused on the Pandora's photonic AI shell.

Through the windows on the roof of the bridge, the light of dawn was glowing when THX-1492 completed its search of every photon in the ship's shell. The robot had found no traces of malware anywhere: no worms, no viruses, no bugs, no adware, no spyware, no Trojan horses, no exploitable vulnerabilities. No errors whatsoever.

THX-1492 was a diligent laborer with too many clock cycles and not enough instructions to be operating at its peak performance level. The robot reloaded the shell's technical specifications; the AI's photonic storage media was fluid. The meticulous robot deduced that an intelligent worm could have rewritten itself beyond the buffer while it had been examining the contents one sector at a time. THX-1492 considered methods of shutting Pandora down for a more thorough analysis and prepared a report for Nike.

An alarm bell rang in Nike's chamber at 08:00. She dressed, went to the mess hall to eat, and sent a radio message to the crew, telling them she would soon be leaving. Shlitzee marshaled her helperbots at the edge of the forest, ready to cut a wider path toward the rock where they would anchor the beanstalk.

-end transmission-


Elizabeth 3/14/2012

Irsa

Irsa didn't fall asleep right away until she reminded herself that the major threat was safely contained and couldn't harm her or anyone else. Then she slowly relaxed and fell asleep. She awoke to Nike's message telling everyone she was leaving. Irsa stretched and got out of bed. Took a shower, which was fun, dressed and then headed for the mess hall. Irsa had her usual breakfast of fruit, nuts and roots. She packed her cheek pouches with food and checked the map for the best places to forage. And then armed with a couple knives and three spears and three bags for gathering left the ship to forage for edible fruits, nuts, roots and seeds, smiling. She also checked with Shlitzee to be sure she wouldn't be in the way of their work.


supreme_arbiter 3/19/2012

Irsa went to the bridge and checked an image of the forest for the best places to forage. Pandora had recorded the image when she landed in the excavation; Irsa saw a faint outline of a pathway running up the side of the pit to where it entered the forest, but no sign of the path through the forest. The roof of the jungle was punctuated only by enormous rocks.

Armed with a couple of knives, three spears and three bags for gathering, Irsa left the ship with the crew. She followed Shlitzee's two helperbots until they reached the end of the trail they had carved through the foliage and began hacking with their vibroblades at the undergrowth. Irsa flew out of their way into the dense canopy above them, foraging for anything that seemed edible. She found more of the sweet flowers she had found the day before and filled an entire bag with them.

[OOC: The image below is the rock the party is headed for; at the end of this game-day the crew will have cleared a path halfway toward it.]




publius1024 3/23/2012

Arkady

Arkady lay on the bed in his quarters but could not sleep; he went to the showers, and when he was clean, he dressed in a new pair of trousers and a shirt that he found in a basket beside the benches. [OOC: thanks Percy!] The pants were baggy but spotless, and Arkady held them around his hips with his hands as he walked barefoot to the mess hall and into the recreation room where Bud was watching something on the Omega Box. The speakers, focused in a tight beam on Bud's face, prevented Arkady from hearing the program, but he saw a martial arts film playing when he passed behind him.

Arkady sat down at another screen, searched the spectrum of entertainment options, and settled on a program from the 20th century called Star Trek. He settled into a chair and soon found himself laughing at the bright, happy vision of a 23rd century where there was no money, ships traveled faster than the speed of light, and matter compilers produced orders instantaneously. If the matter compiler in the garage worked that fast, the space elevator would already be finished, but each small part required hours to compile.

Arkady laughed until tears filled his eyes. He wiped his face with a clean sleeve then saw a horseshoe-shaped image on a blue flag marked 'United Federation of Planets' and remembered pictures on a computer screen, statues of victorious athletes from Olympia, Apollo with a wreath of leaves circling his head, Daphne turning into a laurel tree. Reveling in forgotten memories of archeological subjects he had studied on Mars, Arkady watched the rest of the program in silence and fell asleep before it was finished.


supreme_arbiter 5/25/2012

IAS turn 63 - Evening, Day 5 at the Excavation

In the outer office adjoining her private cabin, Nike sat with THX-1492 and listened to the robot's analysis of Pandora's photonic shell. "But you didn't find anything unusual, right?"

"Affirmative. No anomalies detected. Shutdown for further analysis recommended."

Nike looked around the room. The ship's AI had said she didn't monitor the crew in their quarters, but Nike wondered if Pandora could hear them. "I would consider it if we were in a position of strength, and the world hadn't ended. But even though Pandora can act independently, she hasn't given us a reason to distrust her. The last thing I want right now is a paranoid AI." Nike put her hands to her head and rubbed her temples. Her crew mates, talking turtles, coyotes, werewolves and hamsters, had her reconsidering her conception of what it meant to be Human.

"Besides, if we shut Pandora down, we won't be able to use her defensive and surveillance systems. I'm afraid there may be more hostile creatures out there."

--------

Throughout the day, the security team kept watch on the panther-like creature from monitors on the Pandora's bridge. The creature's slumbering form did not move or rouse itself from its corner of the airlock. "What are we going to feed it?" Davred asked Chelydra when he relieved him.

"I unwrapped some HEaVE bars and put 'em in a bucket outside the airlock with some of Irsa's flowers and leaves. We'll see what it eats whenever it wakes up from its beauty sleep."

--------

The expedition hacked its trail uphill through the forest, and by late afternoon they could see the base of the steep rock where they were going to attach the spacehook. Deep shadows marked clefts in the cliff, hinting at crevices or caverns, but the sun was descending and the party turned back before nightfall. Irsa flew home above the road crew, carrying a bagful of sweet flowers, while the helperbots collected cut debris for the recycler.

As they returned to the ship, they heard Pandora's voice in their ears. "Atmospheric entry vehicle detected, size and silhouette matches Warden escape pods. Its heat shields are foaming, chutes deployed; it is drifting over the forest toward your location."

-end transmission-


Elizabeth 5/25/2012

Irsa

Irsa listens thoughtfully. "Does this mean we're maybe getting a new crew member?" She says to the others. "Pandora, make sure Nike knows about this. I can do a fly-by check when it lands." Irsa says to Pandora. Irsa begins looking for the escape pod in the direction Pandora gave.


supreme_arbiter 6/8/2012

IAS turn 64 - Evening, Day 5 at the Excavation

"Atmospheric entry vehicle detected, size and silhouette matches Warden escape pod. Heat shields foaming, parachutes deployed; drifting over the forest toward your location."

"Pandora, make sure Nike knows about this," Irsa said into her headset.

"I'm on the bridge, Irsa. Bud is launching the drone now."

"Does this mean we're maybe getting a new crew member?" Irsa asked.

"I suspect you're right," Arkady replied from the garage. "Is it a coincidence that these escape pods keep landing close to us? Are hundreds of these pods landing all over the planet?"

"Cut the chatter, Red Two," Nike responded. "Away team, the pod is drifting toward your path."

"I don't believe in coincidences," Bud said to Arkady off-comm as he entered the garage with the Kurita plasma rifle over his shoulder. "Come on, I've got your back."

"I can do a fly-by check when it lands," Irsa said over the comm. She flew above the trees and saw an escape pod, similar to the one she and Becka had landed in six days ago, drifting above the overgrown hill north of the excavation. It fell slowly on billowing fabric sails and crashed through the treetops above the trail. Irsa flew toward the crash site where her crew mates were gathering around the escape pod.

The door swung open and a diving suit with the handle of a mesh bag wrapped around its hand climbed out of the pod. The arms and legs swung wildly as the suit fell over onto its back; no face was visible in the transparent faceplate. Arkady and Bud ran up the trail in time to see the suit stand slowly, like a marionette without any visible strings. Bud raised the plaser rifle to his shoulder and aimed it at the seemingly empty diving suit.

"What is this," Arkady asked, "a robot or a headless zombie?"

-end transmission-


Elizabeth 6/8/2012

Irsa

Irsa flies over to the diving suit. She wonders about the new arrival. It seems awfully uncoordinated and Irsa wonders if the being inside might be smaller than human size.

"It may be smaller than a normal human. All the Warden's suits are sized for regular humans not other species. I'll take a closer look." Irsa says and lands close to the diving suit.

Irsa will look down into suit through the faceplate trying to see what's in there. "Hello there, do you need help?" Irsa asks the suit.


Mike 6/11/2012

Arun

Startled by the landing of the green, winged being in front of it, the diving suit promptly falls over backwards again. A whooshing noise can be heard from an external speaker, followed by a few unintelligible noises.

The suit flails about a bit before rolling over onto its front, and slowly managing to get to its knees and elbows, and then standing on its feet and its hands both for a moment before wobbling itself upright into a very unstable standing position.

The suit raises its arms (which almost throws it off-balance again) and this time, words can be made out in the whooshing sound from the external speaker, the first part of which seems directed back at the speaker, as if in relief...

"Barr-tcher-shhpeak?! Ohhh Motherr, thhhankssh!" (and then directed toward Irsa) "Peaccce ffromm mee, llland-ffrriend! Honnessht, I amm! Hherre amm I lllossht, wwifffout mmmy fffamilly... plleasshh, do youu hhave kinndnesshh forr mee? I cannn bar-tcherrr... I hhaff thhhingssh of mannn fffor tchrade, pllleassh?"

The occupant, still not visible through the transparent faceplate, almost seems to curl up, arms and legs tucking close to the body of the suit, quivering, while evidently awaiting a reply...


Elizabeth 6/11/2012

Irsa

Irsa notices the unfamiliar accent and reference. Into her voice mike she says, "It calls this language barter speech and called me a land friend. I think its from the area of deep water on Warden. I thought that was just a made up story. It is friendly though."

Then to the creature in the diving suit, "Greetings friend. Sure I'd like to trade. I have spears and knives to trade. What kind of man things do you have?"


Mike 6/12/2012

Arun

The helmet of the suit looks up slightly, hopefully, at Irsa. For just a moment, Irsa sees a reflection of of the helmets inner display panel reflected by large gold and black eyes, and just as suddenly all that can be made out again is the black color of the helmets cloth interior.

A noticeably relieved-sounding whooshing noise emanates from the suits speaker, as the occupant replies to Irsa: "Llland-fffriendd! Yyeshh! Honnorr of Mmothherrsh issh wiff yyou? I haff shhymbollsh of Olld Tchimmessh, mmade byy menn- I tchrrade ffforr peaccce ffromm yyou, annd thhesshe menn? Humannsh? Fforr shhelterr? Annd wwat-tcherr? I amm drryingg... I hurrttch..."

The occupant of the suit raises its arm, to which a mesh bag containing what appear to be books, a coil of rope, and a small piece of electronics.

"Mmy nnamme... issh Arrunn. Plleassh, mmayy I knnoww yyou alll...?"

The occupant stands a little straighter, a bit more calmly, while it awaits a reply from Irsa and the group.


Mike 6/22/2012

Arun

Startled by the landing of the green, winged being in front of it, the diving suit promptly falls over backwards again. A whooshing noise can be heard from an external speaker, followed by a few unintelligible noises.

The suit flails about a bit before rolling over onto its front, and slowly managing to get to its knees and elbows, and then standing on its feet and its hands both for a moment before wobbling itself upright into a very unstable standing position.

The suit raises its arms (which almost throws it off-balance again) and this time, words can be made out in the whooshing sound from the external speaker, the first part of which seems directed back at the speaker, as if in relief...

"Barr-tcher-shhpeak?! Ohhh Motherr, thhhankssh!" (and then directed toward Irsa) "Peaccce ffromm mee, llland-ffrriend! Honnessht, I amm! Hherre amm I lllossht, wwifffout mmmy fffamilly... plleasshh, do youu hhave kinndnesshh forr mee? I cannn bar-tcherrr... I hhaff thhhingssh of mannn fffor tchrade, pllleassh?"

The occupant, still not visible through the transparent faceplate, almost seems to curl up, arms and legs tucking close to the body of the suit, quivering, while evidently awaiting a reply...


supreme_arbiter 6/23/2012

"Lower your rifle," Arkady said to Bud. "I think we've found another Warden refugee. Greetings Arun, a friend of Irsa's is a friend of mine. We should get back to the ship before it gets too dark; some dangerous creatures lurk in these woods at night. Wait a minute, sorry Percy, did you say something about the Watcher? What do you know about him? We kind of had a run in with him before we left the Warden."


Mike 6/26/2012

Arun

Arun leans down towards Irsa and says "I do nnottch mmake thhhe bar-ttcher-shhpeak vvverry good... ishh thhish yourr Mmmothherr? Shhe callsh mme ffriend, yeshh? Ccann I ccome wwiff yyourr fffammilly nnow?"

(If an empty diving suit helmet could appear nervously expectant, this one surely does.)

Arun fastens the mesh bag to the D-rings on the diving suit since it doesn't appear that anyone wishes to take any of his belongings yet.


Elizabeth 6/26/2012

Irsa

"Not my mother. But we are a sort of family. And sure you can come with us." Irsa says, trying hard not to giggle at Arun's mistake. To Arkady, "Let's go and see our leader, Nike. She will be pleased to make a new friend and I'll let her handle the trading." Irsa is smiling widely, trying not to laugh much at how silly this encounter has become.


Mike 6/27/2012

Arun

"Yeshh-yeshh! 'Llleader' issh llike 'Mmothherr', yessh? Lllet ushh sshee Mmothherr-Nnnike annd be fffrienddshh wiff mmee!" Arun says jovially, and begins following Irsa like a happy, gangly, wobbly, bipedal puppy.


gammaben 7/7/2012

Percy

Percy observed the encounter with the latest Warden refugee from the comfort of his bridge station. The bridge's monitors displayed the zoom camera's feed of the scene around the recently downed pod. He listened to the chatter and keyed on the commlink at Arkady's question.
Wait a minute, sorry Percy, did you say something about the Watcher? What do you know about him? We kind of had a run in with him before we left the Warden."
"Arkady, Bud, Irsa, this is Percy. I think Arun said 'water,' not 'Watcher.'" Percy shivered uncontrollably at the thought of the Warden bots, presumably under orders from the mysterious Watcher back on the Warden, that had chased him and the others off the ship. "But I definitely say we give Arun the twenty questions about his experience on the Warden. Watcher or no, I'm sure he will have quite the story to tell."

Percy keyed off the commlink. He glanced over at Amanda at her bridge station. She was deep in thought, keying in space elevator structural integrity calculations, at least, he thought. Nike sat in the captain's chair, monitoring the scene outside like a hawk watches its prey from a mile above.

Satisfied their visitor and the greeting party were destined for Pandora, Percy stood, stretched, and walked over to Amanda.

"I'm going to meet them at the gangplank. Need a break?"

Amanda looked up. "A break implies weariness. On the contrary, this is exciting stuff!" She giggled, lost in her maths, and returned to the workstation. Percy glanced at Nike. They exchanged shrugs.

Percy left the bridge, muttering, "Radio on." His internal radio activated and he listened for any chatter on the internal comm system. As he reached the gangplank, he zipped open his fanny pack, pulled out his nail file, and filed his nails. Through the open entrance he kept an eye out for Arun and his Pandora entourage, and thought about the nightmare he'd had last night.

In his dream, no doubt inspired by the sight of the creature that stalked, and was stunned by the laser of, Pandora, he was being chased by a creature black as night. Every time he tried to turn and defend himself, he would swing a club at the creature, but it would pass right through it as if a ghost. Then he'd notice the creature wasn't where he thought it was, but off to the side, and he would run again.

[[OOC: I assume Percy put back the combat shotgun and green orb from night 4's encounter with the now-stunned creature. He is wearing his Pandora-issued clothes; his duralloy armor is in his quarters. He has his laser pistol with him.]]


supreme_arbiter 7/24/2012

IAS turn 65 - Welcome Aboard

[Evening, Day 5 at the Excavation]

"Bring our new crewmate aboard before it gets too dark," Nike said over the comm. Arun heard Nike's voice in his helmet's speakers.

"Yeah," Bud agreed, "let's hurry home. I don't want to run into any more tentacled panthers in the dark."

Arun fastened the mesh bag to the D-rings on his diving suit and joined the crew. He ambled along the trail, and the jungle gave way to a wide vista overlooking a chasm beside an overgrown hill to the north. The path spiraled along the chasm's edge into the shadows of a premature twilight caused by the pit's steep walls. The Pandora sat at the bottom like a permanent metal structure.



"The next order of business after Arun settles in," Nike told the crew from the bridge, "is our guest in the airlock. It's showing signs of life and will probably be hungry soon. I want to see if it'll eat any of our vegetables or protein bars."

"Roger," Bud replied, scanning the jungle with his rifle. "Any movement along the perimeter up there?"

"Negative," Nike answered, "all clear."

The helperbots lit the party's way to the Pandora's gangplank as the sun disappeared over the trees above them, and stars lit the night sky. Percy greeted them in a fresh shirt and trousers, introduced them to the Pandora, and led the way into the ship. He passed the central hallway and turned right at the next corridor. "These are our quarters, Arun. Take your pick of one of the unlocked doors. You'll find showers and toilets at the end of the hall to the right before the medbay."

[OOC: crew quarters 12-E, 12-F, 12-G, and 12-L are unlocked and available for Arun]
In [Percy's] dream, no doubt inspired by the sight of the creature that stalked, and was stunned by the laser of, Pandora, he was being chased by a creature black as night. Every time he tried to turn and defend himself, he would swing a club at the creature, but it would pass right through it as if a ghost. Then he'd notice the creature wasn't where he thought it was, but off to the side, and he would run again
[OOC: The GM smiles a wicked grin]

-end transmission-


Mike 7/29/2012

Arun

Arun does his best to keep up with the conversation, and also keep up with the groups progress through the amazing sights of the jungle, and then the view into the pit towards which he was being led.

Arun was amazed by how quickly he was apparently accepted as a peer of the group around him. He marveled at the beings he heard called 'helper bots', especially considering that they were at least distantly related to the old Guardian of the Pool from the area on the Warden that his people called 'Home', but much, much more friendly than the old Guardian was.!

'Shock and awe' would be the best way to describe Aruns mental state as they approached what the others called "the Pandora". Arun shivered as they approached the underside of the Pandora. The resemblance between the old building that housed 'the Pool' and the Pandora was so great, he almost expected to see that the Pandora had its own old Guardian that would shoot at him when he got too close!

On their journey from Arun's crash site, Arun had been concerned that the screen inside his helmet that had initially shown 6 solid green bars when he had first donned the diving suit had slowly shown fewer and fewer green bars, then displayed 3 yellow bars, and now displayed only one blinking red bar. He had no idea what this indicated, but he had a suspicion that it didn't bode well for him. In addition, his skin was really hurting now, and his muscles were extremely sore from wearing this suit for almost a whole day. He hoped he would get an opportunity to ask someone for a copious quantity of water, and soon!

Arun was introduced to yet another person when he entered the Pandora, whom took him to a corridor full of doors.
"These are our quarters, Arun. Take your pick of one of the unlocked doors. You'll find showers and toilets at the end of the hall to the right before the medbay."
Arun looked at Percy for a moment and organized his thoughts before replying: "Thhank youu, fffriend. Buttch... whhat are "quar-ttchershs"? Hhow do I "pickk a doorr"? Wwhat arre "sshhowersh andd tchoiletsch"? "I shhorry for mmy nnotch knowwing, ffriend..." Arun said sheepishly.

Arun appears quite a bit embarassed by his own ignorance, and shrinks in upon himself a bit as he awaits replies to his many questions.


Elizabeth 7/29/2012

Irsa

"Arun? Do you breathe water or just swim in it?" Irsa asks, thinking she should get a large container full of water ready for Arun. She waits for his answer.


Mike 7/31/2012

Arun

Arun turns to Irsa and says in a very tired voice: "Mmy ffamilly lliveshh unnderr thhe wwat-tchersh of thhe... thhe... 'Lla-goonn'! Yeshh, thhe peoplles of Bar-tcherr callled ourr wwat-tcher thhe Lla-goon. Thheyy callled mmy ffamilly the 'Shhore-wallkerrsh'..."


Elizabeth 7/31/2012

Irsa

Irsa looks at Percy frowning. "Arun needs water to swim in to stay healthy. Not sure what shore-walkers are but it sounds like they may breath air. Can you get him a a large container and help him fill it with water, please?" Irsa explains and asks Percy.

Turning to Arun, "Follow me, I'll help you find a room and show you how to use a shower. A shower will get you wet and maybe make you feel better. Can you take the helmet off?" Irsa asks Arun.


gglass 8/6/2012

THX-1492

THX-1492 is diverted from its routine maintenance duties by the arrival of a new crewmember from the Warden. It promptly moves to withing a meter of Arun and stares at the amphibian, computing. Then it asks in its harsh, mechanical voice. "This unit offers welcome and computes it is 89.73% probable that you are from space-ark Warden. This unit would ask for information. Would you report to this unit the activity level of engineering-bots on Warden? Are the compensatory systems being repaired? Do you have any information on command code authorizations to alternate Alpha-One command designate units? How many levels have accepted the gold channel Alpha-Omega Priority Command designated: "Human-Race-Salvation"? THX waits patiently for a response.

Mike 8/6/2012

Arun

Arun had begun to follow his new friend Irsa when THX-1492 had clomped up to him and started speaking.

At this point, several things occurred nearly simultaneously:

Arun whooshed in surprise and tipped backwards, with his arms flailing;

An amber light on the belt panel of Arun's suit had winked out, and a red light had winked on, emitting an alarmed beeping;

Arun's suit squatted down abruptly with its arms oustretched to the sides, and the backside of the legs, backpack, and helmet of Arun's suit popped open like some kind of giant clamshell.

There was a noteworthy pause, when from the cavity of the suit Arun emitted a resigned-sounding whoosh. A bulbous head shifted from the black color of the interior cloth of the suit to a light-colored brown, streaked through with pulsing patterns of white. Slowly, two large golden eyes with rectangular, black pupils came up above the rim of the helmet.

"I'mm vverry shhorryy..." Arun said, "plleashhe do notchh be fearr of mee!"

"Out-shide of mee issh diff-rrentch, but-chh innshhide of mee issh llike youu! I 'thhink' too, yeshh?" Arun pleaded for understanding as he slowly emerged from the back of the suit, tentacle after tentacle wrapping around the outside of the suit, reaching for the wall and ceiling for support.

Arun gently and slowly lowered himself to the floor in front of the suit, pushed the blinking red button on the front of the belt panel, causing the suit to stand back up and power down. Arun looked around at the assembly from his low vantage point, pausing for the longest on the vast metal bulk of THX.

Arun-suit

"I thhank youu fforr yourr welllcomingshh, Guarrdiann. Thhanksh youu forr not-chh hhurrt-tching mee! I meann youu no harrmm- I amm shhorry I went-ch inn yourr Pooll! I prommishh I willl nev-verr ggo nearr thhe met-chall rroomm ag-gainn!" Arun punctuated his statements to THX with placating waves of his front arms.

Turning towards Irsa, it was clearly evident that Arun was in some discomfort. His skin was cracked, and blue blood oozed from many places on his arms and body. "Frriennd... youu shhaid youu hadd wat-cherr fforr mee? Wat-tcherr llike thhe lla-goon? Not-tch llike thhe wat-tcherr thhat-ch fffallshh ffromm thhe shhkyy?"

Arun curled his arms up below his body to make himself appear smaller and less threatening to the those who were present... especially the intimidating presence of THX!

Still pulsing with bands of frightened white color across his color-changing skin, Arun looked at Irsa with eyes that spoke volumes about his terror at being stranded in such an alien world, with such alien beings to hang his salvation upon...


Elizabeth 8/6/2012

Irsa

Irsa looks with fascination at Arun. She'd been expecting a furry person. Irsa knew little about water dwelling creatures beyond the fact that they existed and some were furry. Arun was not furry at all but definately needed help and, Irsa realized, fairly soon.

"Percy, I need that tub now and bring it to 12d! I'll help fill it with water when you get it there. Arun, follow me please." Irsa says to Percy and the obviously frightened Arun.

Irsa quickly leads Arun to Room 12d.

OOC: GM feel free to change 12d if it's already occupied to an unoccupied room.


gglass 8/6/2012

THX-1492

THX stares at Arun. Quiet but incessant clicks and whirring noises emanate from the maintenance bot.

"Calculating....Process Threat Matrix....Analysis Complete. Threat Matrix NEGATIVE beyond three standard deviations. Reassessment prioritization of subject cephalopod survival probability necessitates delay of determination of WARDEN critical information from subject."

THX-1492 attempts to access its memory banks of the Warden.

{question: being a high level maintenance-bot, assuming it has extensive maps of all the levels of the Warden, does THX have any memories of the 'pond' that Arun refers to? or to the 'Guardian'? THX might know who this bot was.}

"Processing...subject error....this unit is not 'Guardian'...aggression of 'Guardian' unit against subject life-form is an primary programming error of subject unit 'Guardian' which will require MEMORYWIPE and reprogramming upon this unit return to Warden. .....this unit would request specific information concerning 'Guardian' unit...however, information delay necessary for survival of cephalopod-unit."

"Calculating.....cephalopod life forms require specific mineral and oxygenation requirements of liquid water sustainance....current water tanks of Pandora unable to provide cephalopod sustainace without reprogramming....this unit will perform function."

THX immediately proceeds to room 12d {or whichever room of Pandora is most appropriate}. It accesses the maintenance system and begins to fill whichever empty tank it can find while mixing the distilled water tanks of Pandora with the appropriate mineral, salt, and oxygen content that most earth ocean based cephalopods would need for survival.

When the tank is appropriately configured and filled, THX retreats to the corner of the room, pulls its arms in, shortens its leg units, dims its lights, quiets its voice and attempts to present a less intimidating presence to Arun while quietly stating to no one in particular...."threat matrix negative...threat matrix negative..."


supreme_arbiter 10/1/2012

IAS turn 66 - Feeding Time at the Zoo

[OOC: Sorry for the delay. For context, I've incorporated the previous turn with additions interspersed in the beginning, and more new stuff at the end. Thanks for your patience everyone :^) Great posts for Arun, Irsa, and THX!]

"Thhank youu, fffriend. Buttch... whhat are quar-ttchershs? Hhow do I pickk a doorr? Wwhat arre sshhowersh andd tchoiletsch? I shhorry for mmy nnotch knowwing, ffriend," Arun apologized, shrinking deeper into his suit with each question.

"Do you breathe water," Irsa asked, "or just swim in it?"

Arun turned to Irsa and said in a tired voice, "Mmy ffamilly lliveshh unnderr thhe wwat-tchersh of thhe... thhe... 'Lla-goonn'! Yeshh, thhe peoplles of Bar-tcherr callled ourr wwat-tcher thhe Lla-goon. Thheyy callled mmy ffamilly the Shhore-Wallkerrsh."

Irsa frowned and looked at Percy. "Arun needs water to swim in to stay healthy. Not sure what shore-walkers are but it sounds like they may breath air. Can you get him a large container and help him fill it with water, please?"

"I'll get a tub and some bottled water," Arkady offered and hurried down the hall.

"Follow me," Irsa said to Arun. "I'll help you find a room and show you how to use a shower. A shower will get you wet and maybe make you feel better. Can you take the helmet off?"

Arun started to follow his new friend Irsa when THX-1492, having postponed its routine maintenance applications, approached and investigated the new crewmember. The robot processed its initial observations and said in a harsh, mechanical voice, "This unit offers welcome and computes it is 89.73% probable that you are from space-ark Warden. This unit would ask for information. Would you report to this unit the activity level of engineering-bots on Warden? Are the compensatory systems being repaired? Do you have any information on command code authorizations to alternate Alpha-One command designate units? How many levels have accepted the gold channel Alpha-Omega Priority Command designated: 'Human-Race-Salvation'?"

Arun whooshed in surprise and fell backward, his arms flailing. An amber light on the belt of his suit turned red, and an alarm started beeping. The suit squatted forward, arms outstretched, and the backside of the legs, backpack, and helmet popped open like a giant clamshell. After a terrified pause, a bulbous head emerged from the cavity. Arun's skin, black like the suit's cloth interior, shifted to light brown streaked with pulsing patterns of white as he lifted his head and eight arms above the helmet's rim. Blue blood oozed from his cracking skin. He blinked wide golden eyes with black rectangular pupils.

"I'mm vverry shhorryy... Plleashhe do notchh be fearr of mee! Out-shide of mee issh diff-rrentch, but-chh innshhide of mee issh llike youu! I 'thhink' too, yeshh?" Arun slowly emerged from the suit, tentacle after tentacle wrapping around the outside, reaching for the wall and floor for support. He lowered himself gently to the floor and looked up at the assembled crew, pausing on the hulking metal robot. "I thhank youu fforr yourr welllcomingshh, Guarrdiann. Thhanksh youu forr not-chh hhurrt-tching mee! I meann youu no harrmm- I amm shhorry I went-ch inn yourr Pooll! I prommishh I willl nev-verr ggo nearr thhe met-chall rroomm ag-gainn!" Arun waved his front arms, showing empty suckers, and coiled the others beneath him.

Irsa knew very little about water-dwelling creatures. She had heard some were furry, but Arun was hairless. His trembling eyes bespoke terror at being stranded on an alien world and relying on the kindness of strangers for aid. Irsa sprang into action. "Arkady, I need that tub now and bring it to the showers. I'll help fill it with water when you get there. Arun, follow me please."

"Frriennd... youu shhaid youu hadd wat-cherr fforr mee? Wat-tcherr llike thhe lla-goon? Not-tch llike thhe wat-tcherr thhat-ch fffallshh ffromm thhe shhkyy?"

"I'm not sure what kind of water we have, but we have plenty of it." Irsa led the way down the corridor. Arun's parched skin cracked as he hauled his body over the metallic floor. Each step was agonizing, but he was determined to reach water on his own power. Irsa opened a door on the right, and Arun followed her into a room with ropes and pulleys that hung from the wall, and chairs and benches with heavy weights behind them. Irsa stepped into another room, and Arun followed her across a smooth floor and into a chamber that was so small he could reach each wall with outstretched arms.

Irsa turned knobs on a small device on the wall. "I'm setting the shower for a light mist. If you want more water, you can turn this knob, and this button turns the water on and off. It's on right now, but the water won't fall until the door is shut all the way. Are you ready?"

Irsa shut the semi-transparent door. Clean, fresh, unsalted water misted from a faucet in the ceiling and fell in tiny droplets on Arun's skin.

---

Arkady arrived in the storage room and found fewer bottles of water than he remembered. Arkady shared the Pandora with Percy, Nike, Chelydra, Amanda, Bud, Caleb, Becka, Irsa, Davred, and six natives: Horatio, his students Foryn and Mica, Janus and his companions Devon and Malik. Six robots, and sixteen men and women had been living on the Pandora for seven days since she had crashed planetside, and Arkady wondered what was going on with their waste. Did the waste reservoirs flow to the recycler? He shivered and grabbed a few of the remaining liters of water, put them in a bin that had no holes through the bottom, and hurried to the showers.

Arkady squeezed past THX-1492 at the door to the restrooms. The maintenance bot had retracted its arms and legs and dimmed its lights, and Arkady heard soft but incessant clicks. "Calculating.... Process Threat Matrix... Analysis Complete. Threat Matrix NEGATIVE beyond three standard deviations. Reassessment prioritization of subject cephalopod survival probability necessitates delay of determination of WARDEN critical information from subject."

THX-1492 accessed its memory banks, querying its records of the Warden's architecture. There were pools in the biological testing facilities on level six, ponds on levels seven and eight, lakes and ponds on levels eleven and twelve, fountains, ponds, and pools in Epsilon City on level fourteen, and reservoirs on level fifteen. None of the water-features on record had robotic assistants with names like 'Guardian', but THX-1492 suspected its data required updates. "Processing...subject error....this unit is not 'Guardian'...aggression of 'Guardian' unit against subject life-form is an primary programming error of subject unit 'Guardian' which will require MEMORYWIPE and reprogramming upon this unit return to Warden...this unit would request specific information concerning 'Guardian' unit...however, information delay necessary for survival of cephalopod-unit. Calculating...cephalopod life forms require specific mineral and oxygenation requirements of liquid water sustenance...current water tanks of Pandora unable to provide cephalopod sustenance without reprogramming...this unit will perform function."

"No wait, THX, the rest of us need fresh water in the showers. We can get some salt for you if you need it, Arun, and I have a tub here to collect water for a bath." Arkady stood outside the shower door, wondering why he felt awkward about seeing a naked octopus while he waited for Arun's reply.

"Threat matrix negative," THX-1492 said softly, "threat matrix negative..."

---

Bud, Caleb and Davred edged past THX-1492 and entered the restroom with the robot Shlitzfarl. Bud carried a heavy rifle, Davred held a large tube with pistol grips, and Caleb had a shotgun. "It's feeding time at the zoo," Bud announced. "Who's with me?"

Arkady eyeballed Bud's 15 megawatt Kurita plasma rifle. "Isn't that a bit overkill for a zookeeper?"

"That's what I said," Davred replied.

"You should talk! I didn't bring a pod launcher."

"I left the explosives in the armory and only grabbed the green knockout-gas pods."

"And my bullets are made of rubber," Caleb added.

"Then you can take care of our guest in the airlock if it's grumpy about being locked up all day. I'll cover your backs; we can't replace crew members as easily as we can repair a plasma hole in the ship."

[OOC: The doors to crew quarters open with finger print scans. Arun required immediate hydrotherapy, so I skipped the process of assigning him a room. There are several empty rooms for Arun to choose from after he's recuperated from his extended dry-spell, or perhaps after the crew feeds and examines the creature held captive in the airlock.]

end transmission


gammaben 12/6/2012

Percy

[[Percy]] It boggled Percy's mind that Warden kept sending them creatures of size, shape, type and mutation far and wide in the genetic spectrum. If they kept absorbing all God's creatures under the sun they might need to start double-bunking. The possibilities made his mind swim with distracting combinations. He laughed to himself, despite himself.

In the restroom, Percy assisted as he was able with Arun's rehydration. Once Arun was stabilized, he backed off and thanked Irsa for the good-natured ambassadorial role she continued to play. "We should get you an official crew uniform. I'm thinking your crew patch should say 'CMO.'"

"No can do, Technical Trainer Jackson, that position is already taken!" Shlitzee countered. The bot and the zookeeper commandos had come upon the scene and suddenly the restroom seemed a bit unusual a scene for a conversation on uniforms for flying gerbils.

"Yes, of course.... CMO--that is, Chief Medical Officer Shlitzfarl, meet Arun the octopus...oid." He gestured to the blissful Arun in his water-nirvana. "And let me re-introduce you to our newly minted CMO--that is, Chief Morale Officer, Irsa." He smiled, moving his presentation somatics to the hovering hamster. Percy winked at Irsa and backed out of the way so the robot doctor could offer a proper examination of their new crew member. There'd be time enough later for Percy to make a full inquiry on what the Warden escapee new of his former home in orbit later.

For now, he had an experiment to perform, and he definitely wanted the privacy of his quarters to try it out. Once there, he shimmied out of his Warden-standard issue shoes and Pandora-fabricated clothes, and logged into the computer terminal. It was time to add Percy the Octopusoid to Percy the Adaptoid's repertoire... if he could manage it. He trained his quarters' computer-camera on himself. "Computer: begin recording. Visual and audio. Filename Percy-octopus-alpha." Then, he willed himself to adapt: "Form of, an octopus...oid!" He concentrated on the shape, image, color, texture, of Arun's outer form. What was that saying about a face only a mother could love? Closing his eyes tight, he waited for the change to come over him.


Elizabeth 12/6/2012

Irsa

Irsa watched as the friendly robot Shlitzee examined Arun. "Arun will be okay, right? How come his blood is blue not red like everyone else? Is it because he's not a mammal or a reptile? And what kind of people creature is he anyway?" Irsa asks curiously.

Irsa smiles at Arun reassuredly. "Welcome to the Pandora. That's this place's name. The metal person is Shlitzee, she's friendly. I'm Irsa and I hope Percy can get me a uniform something like his. That would be great." Irsa is talking a lot, excited about the strange newcomer.


Mike 12/9/2012

Arun

Arun was astounded at the sudden flurry of activity around him, and the presence of even more strange denizens of this amazing metal building that he found himself on.

When the 'not'-Guardian(?) THX converted the fresh water of the small chamber into brine and filled the tank they brought for him with it, Arun flopped into it and sank, exhausted, to the bottom. He let his mind clear for a moment with the rush of relief, but just as quickly had his thoughts return to his current situation.

Arun's surprise at this act of kindness almost surpassed the relief he felt in his wounds. The 'fresh' water as they called it was indeed like the rain onboard the Warden, but once THX had used his magic to change the rain water into brine, it was perfectly like the water of the lagoon. Arun felt his wounds beginning to close almost immediately.

The attention suddenly being paid to him by the new 'human-Guardian' metal-person named 'Schlitzee' was likewise stunning. What was this creature? Arun guessed that humans had somehow managed to create Guardians in their own likeness as well as in different shapes, such as the Guardian of the Moonpool, and Arun's amazing rescuer, THX-1492.

Arun patiently and with utmost respect attempted to answer every question put to him, and allowed the ministrations of Schlitzee on his person, and THX on his tank to continue until the both of them seem satisfied. Arun marveled at them, and began to think of them as metal people, vs. forces of nature as he had considered the old Guardian back home...

'Back home.' Arun noted the detachment he felt when thinking of the lagoon, his siblings, and his Mother. He felt guilty that he felt so detached regarding his removal from his old life. He thought that he should feel remorse that he had been gone for so long from his family, yet it seemed that the more he thought about it the more those thoughts flitted away and were replaced by question after question that he wanted to ask about this new place he found himself in.

When the din had settled a bit, Arun - whom had been sitting in his tank soaking up water, regenerating his skin, and looking around at everyone with just his eyes sticking up out of the water of his tub- pulled himself up on the edge of his tank out of the water a bit. He nervously cleared his siphon (which sounded much like a faucet running into a full sink to anyone whom heard), and said aloud:

"Excuushe mme, frriendsh... I thhhannk youu forr yourr kinndneshh- eshhpeshiallly tto frriennd 'Tchee-Aichh-Ekshh' forr thhishh good wat-tchherr! I amm feellinng muchh, muchh bet-tchherr now!"

Arun then, somewhat sheepishly, looked around at the assemblage and diffidently asked "I ddo not-tchh wishhh tto ashhk forr morre thhhan youu haff giffen mee, butt... doeshh annyonne haff a crab I coulld eatt?"


supreme_arbiter 12/20/2013

IAS turn 67 - Feeding Time

Shlitzee leaned over Arun's shower door. "I just need a tiny tissue sample for our records," Shlitzee said as her eyes turned deep purple. "Now don't worry little fella, this won't hurt me at all."

Arun watched the android reach out to touch one of his arms. The effect the 'human-Guardian' metal-person named 'Shlitzee' had on Arun was stunning; humans had created Guardians in their own likeness, Arun guessed, marveling at Shlitzee and THX, thinking of them as metal people, not forces of nature like the old Guardians back home... With that thought, Arun suddenly felt guilty; would he ever see the lagoon, his siblings, or his Mother again? Rather than feeling remorse over his separation from everything he had ever known and loved, he was excited, and thoughts of home flitted away, replaced by questions he wanted to ask about this new world he had discovered.

Shlitzee pinched one of Arun's limbs and withdrew from the shower. Arun sank into his tub, soaking up water and regenerating his skin; he lifted his eyes above the water to look around and pulled himself out of the water to clear his siphon, which sounded like a faucet running into a full sink. "Excuushe mme, frriendsh... I thhhannk youu forr yourr kinndneshh- eshhpeshiallly tto frriennd 'Tchee-Aichh-Ekshh' forr thhishh good wat-tchherr! I amm feellinng muchh, muchh bet-tchherr now! I ddo not-tchh wishhh tto ashhk forr morre thhhan youu haff giffen mee, butt... doeshh annyonne haff a crab I coulld eatt?"

"Crab sounds great," Arkady exclaimed. "I would join you if we had any. I'm afraid our menu only includes protein bars and Irsa's leafy greens for the moment."

"He will be okay, right?" Irsa asked Shlitzee, smiling reassuredly at Arun.

"Arun looks better already. No signs of infection or illness are present in his sample."

"What kind of people creature is he anyway?"

"Arun's DNA is non-human: genus enteroctopus, species dofleini."

"How come his blood is blue not red like everyone else? Is it because he's not a mammal or a reptile?"

"Most meatbags have red blood because iron-rich hemoglobin proteins turn red when they bind with oxygen molecules. Arun's blood doesn't use hemoglobin; he uses a protein called hemocyanin which binds oxygen to copper instead of iron, and that's why his blood is blue. Comprende?"

---

[After Arun has rehydrated and recovered from his wounds...]

"We've got work to do," Bud said. "Follow me, boys and girls." He led the way out of the showers, down the corridor to the back of the ship, and stopped outside the airlock door. "Pandora, bring up a video feed from inside the airlock on one of these monitors."

"Sorry Mister Asuda, terminals outside the bridge are locked."

"What?"

"Oh sorry," Percy replied, "I locked all the terminals so only the computers on the bridge can be accessed. I didn't want the natives getting into our systems."

"Well, can someone on the bridge please tell me what's going on inside this ad-hoc cage?"

"I'm watching the feed right now," Nike replied over the headset channel. "I think our guest knows you're there because it's crouched and staring at the door."

"Crouching, eh? It's about time we saw some action. All right Caleb, open the door; Davred, stand by with that gas launcher."

"Wait," Arkady shouted. "If you have to gas it, won't we be gassed as well?"

"That's why we have robots onboard, my boy, to clean up the mess. Caleb, open the door."

Caleb pressed a sequence of keys beside the door and stepped back, aiming his shotgun at the airlock. The door slid open and revealed a dark, panther-like creature cowering by the door on the other side of the airlock chamber. The creature held its tentacles against the back of its head.

"I thought its fur was black," Irsa said, "but in this light it looks kind of purple."

"Stay back," Bud urged. "We don't know what this thing is capable of yet. Arkady, would you do the honors please?"

Arkady looked through the bin of HEaVE protein bars Caleb had been carrying and said, "Hey look, they have seafood flavor bars."

"What kind of seafood?" Percy asked.

"It doesn't say. Based on the way these things taste, I think the designers meant you'll 'see' this 'food' again soon after you eat it, but it's all we've got." Arkady unwrapped a few bars, gave one to Arun, and carried the rest toward the creature in the airlock.

The creature's dark eyes watched Arkady place the protein bars on the airlock floor. Arkady hurried behind the silent crew, and the creature stretched a tentacle toward the bars. Tentatively touching them, the tentacle grasped one and brought it closer to the dark feline face. Wrinkling its nostrils, the creature put the food in its gaping maw and swallowed without chewing.

"What do we know about this thing?" Bud asked Shlitzee.

"I'm a doctor, not a xenobiologist. Its DNA sample is practically useless without a detailed analysis of the alleles that have evolved on this planet. But things could be worse: at least its chromosomes are diploid."

"That's not particularly helpful."

Shlitzee's eyes turned bright white. "Eschew obfuscation, that's my motto."

---

[OOC: this occurs sometime later, assuming Percy survives feeding time... Mu-wa-ha-ha]

Percy retired to the privacy of his quarters with an experiment in mind. Shimmying out of his Warden-standard-issue shoes and Pandora-fabricated clothes, he called up his backdoor application with a four-fingered key-stroke, entered his password, and activated the computer terminal in his room.

Percy trained the computer's camera on himself and said, "Computer: begin recording. Visual and audio. Filename Percy-octopus-alpha." Concentrating on the shape, image, color, and texture of Arun's outer form, Percy remembered an old saying about a face that only a mother could love. Closing his eyes, he waited for the change to come over him, willing himself to adapt. "Form of: an octopus...oid," he said and felt his body become wider as four additional arms grew from his torso. He opened his eyes and stared at the camera-feed on the monitor. Gold eyes moved from side to side as Percy looked at the octopusoid staring back at him. Percy the Adaptoid had added another creature to his repertoire.

-end transmission-


Mike 12/23/2012

Arun

Arun is tempted to ask Arkady what a 'protein bar' is, but abstains due to the growing tension he feels from the assorted persons in the area.

When bud mentions that everyone should follow him, Arun slips out of his tank, dripping. Looking around at how all the bipeds are limited to walking on the decking, Arun thinks that it might be better if he kept the slipping to a minimum and chooses to use a wall and the ceiling for a pathway to follow the assemblage. At least he wouldn't cause anyone to slip from up there.

Arun struggles to keep up with the group, wishing now that he had that suit he had worn in functional condition again. Thinking back to THX-1492 and his ability to assemble things so quickly, Arun wonders if THX's capabilities might extend to making the suit functional again.

As the group makes it's way after Bud down one of the hallways, Arun crawls overhead of THX and addresses him. "Friend Guar... *whooshing pause* Frrriend Tchee-Aaiich-Ecckshh? Mmmay I ashhk yyouu fforr yyourr hhelllp againn?"

Arun goes on to explain how he feels his ability to keep up with the humans, and be less of a slipping hazard, would be greatly enhanced if he could get that diving suit back into operational status.

When they get to the airlock and Arkady throws Arun a seafood-flavored protein bar, Arun deftly plucks out of the air as it tumbled towards him, and examines it closely. The chemoreceptors on Arun's arms tasted the protein bar and found it completely adequate for his needs. Arun stuffed the bar as quickly as he could into his beak and rasped away at it thoughtfully as he watched the door to the airlock open, and everyone nervously eyed the black animal that was inside. Arun thought that it was interesting that the animal had two proper tentacles itself, and wondered if it might a point of similarity between it's species and his own.

In any event, Arun thought that the humans that were in charge here seemed to have things under control. Arun waited patiently for a response from THX, and considered asking Arkady for another of those 'seafood bars', but didn't want to seem greedy.


gglass 12/23/2012

THX-1492

THX-1492 stops as a dripping wet Arun asks his question.

".......working......engineering repair of pressure suit requested......work order request allocated ...."

The engineering bot reverses direction and maneuvers back to the diving suit and begins repairing it. Its large, heavy arms grasp the non-functional unit to hold it up as several small, fine tool-arms extend out to cut, whir, solder, & splice the suit. Once it has finished with the mechanical repairs, it will connect to the suit's CPU to do a diagnostic of its systems.

[assuming THX is successful with the repairs, it will return to Arun to report.]


gglass 12/23/2012

THX-1492

**OOC: The suit needed a good overhaul considering its age and disuse, but the biggest issue is that the power cell was depleted. Arun had 3 total power cells he brought with, each with a photovoltaic recharging system. He just needs some basic instruction on how to keep the thing powered up. ;) ***


Elizabeth 12/23/2012

Irsa

Irsa listens as Shltzee explains about Arun's blood.

"So hemoglobin and hemocyanin both bind oxygen into the blood. Hemoglobin binds it to iron and hemocyanin binds it to copper. Iron in the blood is red and copper in the blood is blue." Irsa says with a fair degree of understanding. Then Irsa looks at Arun, "Better get some more seafood bars, Arun. It may be awhile before you find out where the kitchen is at. That's where the food is stored. This tentacled creature may be a people, we don't know for sure yet. And it might be a while before anyone gets hungry again." Irsa says, looking at their prisoner warily.


supreme_arbiter 2/1/2013

IAS turn 68 - An Octopus's Garden Arun slipped out of his tank, dripping, and watched the bipeds walk on the deck ahead of him. Hoping to keep the floor dry, and prevent his new friends from slipping, Arun clung to a wall near the ceiling and followed the assembly. Struggling to keep up, Arun wondered if THX-1492 could repair his suit. As the robot passed beneath him, Arun said, "Friend Guar...," whooshing pause, "Frrriend Tchee-Aaiich-Ecckshh? Mmmay I ashhk yyouu fforr yyourr hhelllp againn?"

Arun asked the robot to help repair his diving suit, keeping his arms against the wall to prevent anything from dripping from his wet skin onto the robot. "Working...," THX-1492 responded. "Engineering repair of pressure suit requested. Work order request allocated..."

THX-1492 stopped at the diving suit. The engineering bot's heavy arms grasped the non-functioning unit, extending a screwdriver to unfasten the suit's diagnostic panel. A moment later it said, "Battery source depleted... powering system for analysis," and signaled Hephaestus, the only other bot that obeyed THX-1492's commands besides Terminus and the two helperbots.

[OOC: Hephaestus is the NPC engineering robot]



Hephaestus answered the call in the garage. The bot grabbed three small hydrogen cells from the supply room and brought them to THX-1492 in the hallway. THX-1492 replaced the power cells, took the old ones to be recycled, and powered the diving suit. Arun watched every detail, certain he could replace the power cells himself when he needed new ones again, and he checked to see the three cells were still in the satchel he had brought with him from the Warden.

"Diagnostic results positive," THX-1492 reported. "Depending on varying usage, average battery life: 3.96 to 31.72 hours."

"Howw ddoo yyouu rrechhargge the batcherrieshh?"

"No hydrogen cell rechargers are online at this time. Recharged hydrogen cells are in storage."

Arun checked his satchel once more; he had been certain the box he had found with the power cells was a device the men of Bartertown had called a photovoltaic recharging system. Arun wondered what the box was, but he left it in the satchel, tied the satchel to the diving suit's arm, and climbed into the powered suit, activating its systems and following the crew down the corridor.

[OOC: *backstory alert* By the time photovoltaic receptors became efficient enough to be a cheap source of abundant energy, hydrogen was already a more marketable product. Most things on the Warden run on hydrogen cells.]

---

[OOC: a little while later the crew feeds the captive creature in the airlock.]

"Better get some seafood bars, Arun," Irsa said. "It may be a while before you find out where the kitchen is at. That's where the food is stored. This tentacled creature may be a people, we don't know for sure yet." Irsa looked at the prisoner warily.

Arkady tossed a few HEaVE protein bars to Arun, unwrapped the rest, and carried them toward the creature in the airlock.

Arun deftly plucked the bars out of the air as they tumbled towards him and examined them closely. He gripped the end of a wrapper labeled 'seafood-flavor' and tore it open. The chemoreceptors on his arms tasted the HEaVE protein bar and found it adequate for his needs. Arun stuffed the bar into his beak and rasped away at it thoughtfully as he watched the dark animal inside the airlock, wondering if the creature's tentacles indicated a relationship between its species and his.

[OOC: a little while later...]

The creature swallowed the unwrapped bars, and Arkady brought it more, tossing a few to Arun. The wrappers indicated various flavors: kidney-pie, fruit, vegan, peanut. Chelydra hauled a bucket filled with water into the airlock; the creature ate the last protein bar, then lapped up the bucket's contents.

"This fella is gonna eat us out of house and home," Bud said. "It'd better stay away from my peanut bars."

"Sorry," Arkady replied, "that was the last one."

"Then you're on compiler duty tonight, and breakfast had better be ready when I get up."

"Should we take kitty for a walk before we turn in?" Percy smiled. The cat-like creature huddled in the airlock, looking much smaller than it had the night before in the jungle.

"It hasn't made a mess yet," Chelydra answered. "Maybe it has an efficient waste system."

"Yeah right," Bud chuckled. "All right Caleb, shut it down for the evening."

Caleb closed the door to the airlock. "Here's your passcard," Chelydra said to Arun, passing him a narrow security card. "You'll need it to get into a room tonight."

The night patrol went to their stations, and the rest of the crew went to their quarters. Irsa walked with Arun and showed him which of the Pandora's sleeping rooms were empty.

[OOC: Four sleeping rooms are empty: E, F, G, and L as indicated on the crude ASCII map below and on the Pandora map (http://metamorphosisalpha.com/ias/pandora.html) Room "L" is two doors down from the bathroom, rooms "E", "F", and "G" are across the hall.]

/medbay
+---+
|#| |
|#| |
|#|-bathroom
|#|#|
|E|L|
|F|#|
|G|#|
|#|#|
+---+
\mess-hall, bridge, etc.

Arun chose a door, and Irsa pressed a button on the panel beside it. She told Arun to touch the panel by the card reader, and he reached for the duralloy pad on the wall. "Not with your suit," Irsa laughed. "Touch it with your own hand."

Arun stretched a tentacle through the diving suit's faceplate and reached for the panel. A light came on, glowing through his skin. "Thumbprint unknown," the panel read, "please swipe passcard." Arun waved his new passcard over the reader, and the panel announced, "Arun. Thumbprint saved. Door opened. You may now use your passcard or thumbprint to lock or unlock this door."

Arun stepped inside his room. It had a three-tiered bed in a corner, across from a desk and lots of cabinets. The room was clean, dust-free, and smelled like new.

*end transmission*


gglass 2/2/2013

THX-1492

Having completed its task in recharging Arun's power suit, THX-1492 proceeds about its routine maintenance tasks on the Pandora. It slowly and steadily rolled along the metallic walkways adjusting power couplings, performing minor repairs on worn engineering components, and running routine diagnostics on critical ship's systems.

But unknownst to the engineering-bot, a hidden subsystem deep within its positronic matrix, activated a long lost musical program which began to be played over and over through THX's speakers, softly, mournfully as the robot diligently performed its tasks.

(a most appropriate piece for a lost ship of deep space):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Magnificent_Void

http://www.hos.com/php/showAlbum.php?albumID=1749


supreme_arbiter 3/21/2013

IAS turn 69 - Day 6 at the Excavation

THX-1492 rolled along the Pandora's metallic corridors, examining the ship's devices, adjusting power couplings, repairing worn components, and analyzing the ship's critical systems. At midnight, the robot rolled onto the bridge and commenced another analysis of the Pandora's AI. While THX-1492 searched for malware and vulnerabilities, finding none, a hidden subsystem deep within the robot's positronic matrix activated a long lost musical program which played mournfully on its speakers as the robot diligently performed its tasks.

[OOC: Thanks Mike, "The Magnificent Void" will make a great chapter title (and soundtrack) when (if?) the crew reaches the Alexandria in orbit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Magnificent_Void]

---

Coeurla awoke, stiff and sore on a metal floor. A portion of the ceiling glowed, illuminating a metallic chamber with no doors. The last thing she could remember was crawling through a meadow at the bottom of the forbidden pit. She had been stalking a giant silver bird that had not moved a muscle but had made squawking noises like it was afraid; then an intense beam of energy had struck her, and Coeurla had blacked out. Now she was starving, frightened, and exhausted, but she was alive. She searched the room around her; it was small, had no exits, and contained no food, so she waited and slept, conserving her energy.

Footsteps outside the chamber awakened her a few hours later, and she opened her eyes. A portion of the wall slid sideways, revealing several strange creatures in a corridor beyond the doorway. These creatures had more meat on their bones than Coeurla's last meal had; they made squeaking noises, then one of the meat-creatures approached Coeurla and offered her a handful of rectangular bars that smelled like meat. She tasted one and did not like the flavor, but it was richer than anything Coeurla had ever eaten. The meat-creature gave her more bars, and she ate them all; some were tastier than others, and she soon felt her hunger satisfied for the first time in many months.

The meat-creatures brought her a bucket of water, clean and cold, and while she drank, the door slid closed again. Coeurla did not understand their strange behavior, but the creatures had not harmed her, and she was glad for the meal they had provided. She slept well and dreamed of what else they might bring her when she awoke.

---

Amanda worked late at night, studying at her terminal on the bridge. Her knowledge of mathematics came back to her as she read documents she dimly remembered. Memories of classrooms and white-boards had felt like itches she could not scratch until she began browsing old texts in the Pandora's digital library. The ship's astrogation applications were becoming more familiar, and she was confident that in a few days or weeks she would be able to plot a course if they wanted to leave the planet's gravity well, reenter the atmosphere without crashing, or travel beyond the solar system to the colony at 82 Eridani.

Davred kept watch beside her. The ship's computer told him the time was 2:30 AM, but Davred was wide awake and enjoying her company. Her face and figure were pleasant to the eyes, and he smiled at Amanda as he cycled through feeds from the cameras Arkady had installed along the excavation's perimeter. Nothing moved in the jungle, and the night passed without incident.

---

In the morning, Arkady hauled cut branches and leaves to the recycler, and the road-crew followed their freshly cut trail into the jungle. They soon reached the clearing below the enormous rocky hill where they planned to install the space elevator. Watching the silent caves in the sheer stone cliff, they pressed onward, hacking a trail through the dense undergrowth. The jungle was still; no creatures stirred but the crew of the Pandora.



Their trail crawled around the hill, and the twin suns were well past their zenith by the time the crew reached the other side. "It looks like there's no other way up but the hard way," Bud said when he saw the sheer stone cliff waiting for them on the far side. Setting his plasma rifle against a tree, he grabbed an overhead branch and did a few pull-ups.

"Firp ding blast," Davred choked.

Bud leaped to the ground and replied, "It's not so bad. Maybe we'll find an easier way up if we push the trail around the entire hill."

While the helperbots shredded the undergrowth with their vibroblades, blazing the trail forward without ceasing, Irsa flew among the treetops, collecting more sweet-tasting flowers. She heard Bud's pronouncement and examined the stone hill, wondering how her crewmates would climb the steep cliff. "Hey," she shouted, then thought better of calling attention to herself in the ominously silent jungle and flew down to them. "There's a cave entrance over there," she said, pointing toward the hill.

"We can see the caves from down here," Bud said, "but we don't have any equipment to climb with."

"No, I mean I can see a cave entrance down on the ground level over there."



-end transmission-


Mike 3/23/2013

Arun

Arun was overjoyed when knowledge of how to replace the power cell system of his suit was imparted to him. He considered what he was told about how the hydrogen energy cells were freely available on the ship and decided that he would keep the recharger and a rechargeable cell in his cargo bag attached to his suit's D-rings in case he was ever stranded away from the ship.

Arun followed THX around the ship for a bit, but seeing that the robot was preoccupied with his maintenance duties he decided that he would utilize his newly-regained mobility and follow the other members of the crew out into the jungle to see what great project that they were working on.

Arun again marveled at the helper bots and their facility at accomplishing the directives given to them by the humans of the crew. Arun also marveled at how effortlessly his new friend Irsa flew through the air, making him momentarily miss swimming in open water powered by his siphon like a small jet-powered submersible.

Arun truly felt like a stranger in a strange land, being suddenly part of an expedition in an environment so different from what he was accustomed. Before he had entered the Moon Pool, he had never before been out of eyesight of the lagoon that was his home. Now it was as though he had been a land-dweller all of his life. He had thoughtfully filled the legs of his suit with water from his tank before heading out from the ship, after he had figured out how to block the one-way bilge valves from emptying them every time he splashed water into the suit. This, he felt, would give him quite an extended ability while away from the ship.

As the group trudged through the jungle, Arun asks Bud if he could explain the purpose of their trek, and asks if there is anything he can do to assist. Arun's stamina is truly only limited by the suit's current power, and he is truly excited to be a part of the going's-on of the crew and their mission.

Arun asks Bud (if Bud is willing to dialogue with him) about what it is they are trying to accomplish, how they intend to do it, and also the technology involved. Arun is quite ignorant about technology overall, but his heightened intelligence makes him amazingly adroit at learning quickly.

When Irsa lands nearby and explains about the cave, Arun quickly volunteers to scout out the cave's interior. He will leave the suit behind and explore under his own power, trusting on his senses and innate camouflage ability to keep him out of trouble, if the group agrees that a scouting mission would be wise before committing the group to a spelunking session entirely.


Elizabeth 3/24/2013

Irsa

Irsa nods at Arun's suggestion. "Just be careful. And check the ceiling once in a while." Irsa says as she gives Arun a spear in case of trouble. "In case you find something hostile, the spear might deter it."


supreme_arbiter 7/31/2013

IAS turn 70 - In Search of the Unknown

[OOC: Wow, sorry it took me so long to get this turn out. First, a little bit of RetCon: the bag Arun found on the Warden does NOT contain a recharger, sorry :^)]

"Howw ddoo yyouu rrechhargge the batcherrieshh?"

"No hydrogen cell rechargers are online at this time," THX-1492 reported. "Recharged type IV small hydrogen cells are in storage."

Arun was overjoyed to hear there were fresh power cells somewhere on the Pandora, but he checked the contents of his satchel again. There were four devices inside, three small hydrogen cells, each with a green window marked "charged", and a shiny, cylindrical object that Arun had believed was a device the men of Bartertown called a recharging system. Arun held up the cylinder and asked THX-1492 what it was.

"A spare rebreather in case the oxygen filter system fails," the robot replied.

---

[Later, during the afternoon of day 6 at the excavation site]

Arun volunteered to scout the cave.

"Just be careful," Irsa said. "And check the ceiling once in a while. Here, take my spear. In case you find something hostile, the spear might deter it."

Arun left his suit and crawled toward the towering cliff under his own power, trusting his senses and innate camouflage ability to keep him out of trouble. He crawled through dense undergrowth, dragging the spear behind him, pushing back branches that threatened to scratch his damp skin. Arun followed a narrow, grassy path through the trees and soon found himself in a clearing facing a rocky cliff with dark openings.

Dark, rectangular doorways lined a wide corridor carved into the mountain. The passage stretched beyond the limits of Arun's vision. Alongside the corridor, a flight of grass covered steps made of stone, worn by the passage of countless eons, rose to an upper landing where more dark doorways lined a narrow passage into the mountain.

Holding the spear before him, Arun poked and prodded his way over the overgrown rubble that littered the ground beneath the cavernous openings.



-end transmission-


Mike 8/6/2013

Arun

Discretion being the better part of valor, and conflict avoidance being the better part of octopoidal discretion, Arun valiantly chose to leave the spear in a covered spot in some foliage and circumvent the broadest part of the clearing, staying in cover as much as possible, and remaining completely camouflaged in color and texture the entire way. As much as he truly appreciated his new friends concerned advice and opinion, Arun really didn't think that his capabilities with a sharp stick would be of much use against a large threat, especially against something as large as another tentacled predator like the one in the small "airlock" room, anyway.

His Mother would have been very, very proud of him, he thought absently, as he focused on scanning the great opening ahead of him.

He would need to get out of direct sunlight before he would be able to see through the shadowed gloom of the cavernous space, so he came up with a plan that he thought would grant the highest level of stealth, and thus the highest level of success, that was available to him.

In the short amount of time that he had spent solely in the company of all these land-dwellers, he had deduced a strong trait in these land-dwellers that he felt could work to his advantage. Specifically, in such a scenario as this one- land-dwellers, especially these humans, seem to expect that most threats will approach them from the ground. Thus they spend most of their time looking down at it, unlike bottom-dwelling aquatic folks like him and his family, whom spend almost all of their time looking upward for the threats native to their artificial tropical lagoon home.

Feeling that his plan to utilize the upper reaches of the cavernous ceiling to add an extra layer of stealth to his approach was the wisest course he could take, Arun then began scouting for the most feasible and least observable way of getting from the clearing to the ceiling of the cave without being detected. Knowing that technology existed to remotely view areas with small and inconspicuous pieces of technology, Arun made a special attempt to avoid anything that might look like such a piece of technology as he ascended on this slow and cautious adventure, and also kept a close watch on the ground and walls for signs of anything interesting...or threatening!


supreme_arbiter 8/23/2013

IAS turn 70.2 - Cavern

Discretion being the better part of valor, and conflict avoidance being the better part of octopoidal discretion, Arun left the spear in a covered spot in some foliage. As much as he appreciated his new friends' concerned advice, he didn't think his capabilities with a sharp stick would be of much use, especially against something as large as the tentacled predator that was caged in the Pandora's airlock.

Arun circumvented the broadest part of the clearing, staying in cover as long as possible. Then, camouflaging his skin to match the color and texture of the stone, he climbed the cliff face and crawled toward the top of the cave entrance. Arun had deduced that land-dwellers, especially humans, seemed to expect threats from the ground, unlike aquatic folks who spent most of their time anticipating threats from above.

Daylight made it hard to see through the shadowy gloom in the cavern. Arun crept cautiously into the upper reaches of the ceiling and scouted for a place to hide. The stone surface was mostly smooth, but there was a hole cut near the center of the roof that had just enough space for Arun to squeeze into.

The hole looked like it had been carved into the roof. The top (or bottom depending on perspective) was filled with a plug that was pitted like the bottom of Arun's lagoon. The plug was flaking as if it had once been painted, long ago, and its surface was a uniform reddish brown. Arun had heard of inconspicuous metal devices that could remotely view an area, and the hole seemed artificial, but the plug wasn't made of any kind of metal Arun had ever seen; if it was some sort of technology, it didn't look like it still functioned.

Arun hesitated at the lip of the hole and looked down at the passage below him. The walls sloped toward the floor. Dark rectangular openings lined the corridor for countless steps, retreating far into the darkness.

-end transmission-



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