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Alex Humva

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  1. IC [Colonel Ojeda] "Right." Gunshots had the ambassador fleeing back into the dining room quickly enough, one of the corporals coming back with a shot to the leg. "Walker, with me, we're going get out of here the old fashioned way. Skinter, get everyone beamed out of here." "Colonel Ojeda," the computer's voice came in over her ear. "The sensor array is picking up multiple ships converging on the crew buffet. They are not following standard Engi traffic procedures." "Hostile?" "They do appear to have weapons charging, Colonel." "Can't even get a break in allied space." The Colonel gritted her teeth. "Zokander there?" "No Colonel." "Command officer override, Colonel Palmira Ojeda. Voice verification. Disengage AI sapience safeties one through three. Get the thrusters running and fly to the location, inform crew to prepare for an emergency evac." Daniels voice piped up, the Colonel looking at him. "You? No, you're not going fit, probably not. Me and Walker? We're a bit more lithe. Engi won't expect that, so long as they don't have life sensors active. Of course..." Ojeda grimaced. "There's a greater intelligence at work here. An attack on a Confederate embassy... I want to know who's behind it. I want to know-" The wall burst open, the explosion sending everyone flying back. Grappling hooks were quickly attached, and Engi began pulling themselves into the room, armed with little more than their fists and various bits of rubble. Ojeda, slumped against a wall, was just about ready to meet her maker at that point, but the Engi didn't seem to bother with her or the crew... they were going after the magistrates. A mob beating ensured, but even as Skinter's weapons order teleported in, Ojeda wasn't exactly sure /where/ to shoot without the governor or magistrates getting in the way. The Engi guards were all gone, and the ambassador's guards were just as confused, not sure where to start shooting now.
  2. IC [Colonel Ojeda] "Attempt not to get shot." The Colonel took stock of the exits, noting the Master Sargent heading for the stairs with the ambassador. "We may need to make our escape via the tunnels. Roof's a deadzone. Feel like sneaking around in some ventilation shafts?"
  3. IC [Engi governor] "[stun rifles, standard across Engi space. I'm surprised you haven't seen it before.]" The governor raised a mechanical eyebrow. "[Perhaps their designs mislead you, weapons for guarding magistrates are produced by a subcollective than standard weapons.]" The governor also raised an eyebrow at Walker's expression. "[is your flight commander drifting off, Colonel?]" "Hmm?" Ojeda glanced over, then returned to her food. "Have to forgive her governor, I don't think she handles her drink very well." And then she noticed it from the corner of her eye; the waiter tapping something out on his wrist. Maybe he was ordering a new set of drinks; but usually, you didn't nervously flinch when getting refreshments. Trouble. It was barely after she had tapped it out that a great thunder came through the room, the sounds of explosions, followed promptly by the sound of a mob charging in. Human screams could be heard, the sound of gunfire as the external defenses were quickly overrun. The governor started to sputter something out, but he was already left behind, trained military minds far ahead of him. The Master Sargent had a rifle out, yelling orders in a language Ojeda didn't recognize as his men grouped around the ambassador. They'd need to evac, and the Kestrel teleporter couldn't get all of them out fast enough. And the roof... was covered by snipers. "Skinter!" Ojeda pulled a pistol from her side, locking a round in. "Get a teleport vector to pull the staff and ambassador out. Harken, we're going be surrounded, did you pack any smoke grenades?" IC [The Crew] At the buffet, things continued to go well, though the keen-eyed observer would notice some odd Engi activity. Odd shuffling about, low Engi whispers, though they were aliens, who knew what it meant.
  4. IC [Colonel Ojeda] The dinner proceedings continued on, small talk being made and the Colonel keeping aware of her surroundings. Scope flashes indicated there was already someone here. The mob outside wasn't coordinated, it couldn't be, but any spec ops agent knew that chaos was best for distraction. The Kestrel had only jumped in two hours ago, none of this could be about her crew. It was the ambassador, and galactic chance had put her people in the middle of this diplomatic dispute. She glanced over the ambassador's guard. Two privates, two corporals. Greens, fresh out of bootcamp, though to be assigned to ambassador duty, they must have been top of their units. Still, they lacked the experience needed. Judging by the garrison she saw outside, though, there must have been higher ranking individuals then them. Maybe this was just their rotation. Meanwhile, the Master Sargent was here, lording over some backwater embassy garrison... maybe he made enemies back home. A waiter refilled her glass, and she took a moment to look the Engi over. Engi were hard to read, their true faces obscured behind a visor. Though, as Ojeda considered it, their proper faces weren't much easier to read, distorted from the centuries of never using them. They were prone to very human like behavior, though... and this Engi's fingers were twitching, barely held under control as it walked away. She tapped the table, Harken picking up the code. Bad feeling. Have the ship run sensors. IC [Kestrel Crew] The dropships had flown the assorted crew a short distance, to another high platform. Directing them into the room underneath the platform, the crew was greeted by a wide open conference hall, with all sorts of foods and delicacies littering the tables that themselves littered the hall. It really was a spectacular feast, and a monument to Engi efficiency that they had prepared it on such sort notice.
  5. IC [Colonel Ojeda] The party made their way into the embassy's main chambers, eventually finding themselves in a well-stocked dining room; glass chandeliers hung on the ceiling, the walls covered in rich wood and paint. The long table was well stocked with food, the remaining Engi waiters just putting the last of the meals on the table. Taking her seat, Ojeda made a mental note of their location in the building; living much of your life on a ship gave you the uncanny ability to count your steps and determine your position in enclosed structures, and this told her that the dining room was a scarce five meters from the exterior of the building. "[A toast, to our distinguished company.]" As the governor raised his glass, Ojeda noted other Engi at the table; no doubt the upper crust of the colony. The Engi never made any claims of enlightenment, and their bureaucracies certainly reflected it. Elites that profited off the labor of workers, just as it had always been on Earth. The Engi seemed happy enough with it, though. "[These individuals here are war heroes, and we are honored to have them visit.]" Ojeda took a sip of the drink out of respect, tasting the liquid. Wine of some sort, and the lack of a metallic taste in her mouth told her the nanites didn't think it was toxic. She made a sign, informing the rest of the staff that it wouldn't kill them. "The honor is ours, governor." Ojeda pondered briefly the rapid chain of events that brought her here. In any other situation she'd think it a trap, but she also knew the ways of these Engi governors; a bureaucrat out on a frontier world, managing an irrelevant colony far from the Collective Consciousness' eye. Any sort of visit from Confederate war heroes would give him political points at his next proper dinner, maybe even get him assigned to an inner colony. It was about status advancement, little more.
  6. IC [Colonel Ojeda] The tablet sent back an affirmative, while the Colonel idly considered the Sargent's tale. Her attention turned, though, as they slowed down to deal with the middle-city structures, and gave her window an excellent view of the embassy. There was a mob of Engi, with hulking drones patrolling back and forth, keeping the aliens at bay while a dozen human soldiers watched nervously. A somewhat bad situation if she'd ever seen one. The shuttle landed on the embassy roof, the doors hissing open and the governor allowing himself out first. "[Don't mind the rabble,]" he spoke with some tone of prejudice. "[Your embassy was constructed by our finest engineers. Its inner chambers could survive a nuclear blast.]" "So we can't bust out a window to escape," the Colonel reflected. "[i'm sure that won't be necessary, Colonel.]" The group walked into a nearby stair well, the Colonel looking off into the dim distance. Her eyes weren't as good as they use to be, but... she signed to Harken and Skinter as she continued on, the two following behind her. Five flashes, one two three five seven o'clock. Scopes. IC [The Computer] "Attention crew," came over the intercomms. "The Engi dropships have arrived to deliver you to the governor's buffet. Please assemble outside of the hanger bay doors and enter the dropships. The following personnel will be staying behind: Chief Saladd, Spaceman Taylor, Spaceman Blotts, Consultant Zoss, and Captain Devas. Remaining crew will be attending the buffet; please stay in communication with the ship, in the case of an immediate recall."
  7. IC [Master Sargent] "I was stationed on Heinlein 5 when the Mantis attacked. Took charge of the situation, and then some uppity Captain ordered me to lead a mission into one of the hive ships. Diverted ten thousand good men in an effort to destroy it, leaving the capital's defenses understaffed. Capital was overrun, he became nymph food, and I was in the hive ship slicing up Mantis royal guard." The man took a heavy inhale of his cigarette, the rest of the smoke quickly whisked away by the shuttle's air control. "Got to the birthing chambers, found one of the queens. You know how the scientists said that there was no way a pregnant Mantis could fight? Shows you how much the ivory tower knows. Fast bugger, carved my arm off in the first minute. She didn't like it so much when I got a crystal grenade in her shell, though. Would have died in there with her, if my squad hadn't pulled me out. Place was too **** hot, could barely breath in that atmosphere."
  8. IC [Colonel Ojeda] The shuttle ride was uneventful, the craft nimbly darting through the walkways and bridges that littered the mechanical city. Looking out the windows, Ojeda could see an endless sea of Engi, working or going to work. She had been told the Engi never really slept, not on their own worlds, thanks to a permanent medical nanite presence and energy fields. Instead, they'd take short twenty minute breaks every few hours, resting their minds and giving their components a recharge. An extremely efficient society, driven by AI and superusers. It made the governor a somewhat laughable bureaucrat; an Engi governor may have final say in matters of state and justice, but no governor actually managed the day to day affairs, or even made the crucial decisions. No, dedicated Engi, Engi whose mental capabilities were deemed sufficient, managed these vast cities in conjunction with AI. The governor could be removed and the only difference it'd make is putting his staff out of a job. "Colonel," the Master Sargent spoke up, Ojeda glancing at the man. He was scarred all over, what looked to be plasma burns, and a mechanical arm. The scarring around it was attached told her it was the work of Mantis claws. Nasty way to lose a limb. "Your two men here have Planetary insignia. Any more on your ship?" "Only two I have." "Shame. Be nice to see some friendly faces; five months of guarding an ambassador kills your social life." "What's the ambassador doing, that she needs five heavily armed troopers around her for?" "Engi are feeling a bit rebellious m'am, one of them took a potshot at Corporal Yalta here. How's the stomach treating you corporal?" A grunt was the reply. "She's fine. Haven't you heard about the Engi revolts?" "I've been out of the loop ever since the Invasion. Supervising the construction of the ship. Engi never struck me as the particularly rebellious type, what's going on?" "Dissatisfaction with me and you, m'am." The Sargent pulled out a cigarette, passing one to his private, then pulling one out for himself. "While you were pulling burning corpses off of the Tokyo and I was getting my bowels ripped out by a Mantis queen, the Engi were throwing a fit over having to actually fight the Mantis. Talks of a treaty of nonaggression and such, backing out of the Federation. Whatever they have for a government decided otherwise and now some civvies feel like this can all be resolved if they shoot our ambassador." "Any danger for us?" "Oh, plenty. This city's a nightmare for any sort of defense, only safe place is indoors and even then tunnels allow for a dozen different entrances. You should have brought more security for you and your command staff." "[My dear Sargent.]" The governor spoke up in a somewhat annoyed tone of voice. "[The few insurgents are of no matter for the Colonel and her crew; allow me to assure you, Colonel Ojeda, that we are safe, and your crew will be fine at their event. I have taken all the security precautions necessary.]" The Colonel watched the governor for a moment, then looked away, contemplating what she might have gotten her crew into.
  9. IC [Colonel Ojeda] After a period of prepping and Ojeda giving herself a large dose of nanites to deal with any alcohol, the command staff had assembled at the cargo bay, dress uniforms in varying states of ironing; the rest of the crew would be on their way soon. Ojeda herself was flanked by Skinter and Harkin, the two serving as immediate shields if someone were to take a shot at the Colonel. Behind her rested the rest of the command staff and, in the rear, Halik. The hanger door hissed open, allowing the group to walk out to the Engi greeting party. There was a plethora of Engi, at least thirty, but most of them were merely workers. The group that stood out was that in the center, two Engi and six humans. The eldest of the Engi stepped forward, extending a hand to the Colonel. Ojeda gave the Engi a salute instead, prompting a moment of confusion from the alien, until it made a synthetic laugh. "[Forgive me Colonel,]" the Engi spoke in a deep voice. "[i often forget the differences in etiquette. Please, allow me to welcome you to the Ninety Second Colony of the Engi Collective, known to your people as Troy. I am Colonial Governor Sethell, chief magistrate of this world. The woman next to me is Ambassador Amador, from your Terran Confederation.]" The Engi passed, analyzing Ojeda. "[Are you familiar with her?]" "We've met." The Colonel looked Amador over. "She was one of the ambassadors I carted around on the frontier, tried to keep the peace with the rebels out there." "[Then an introduction is not necessary. Please though, Colonel, if you would, introduce me to your command staff.]" "Lt. Colonel Sophie Chastain." The Colonel motioned to her XO. "Decorated on the Mantis frontier and in the Rebellion of 87. Major William Daniels, decorated during the Invasion of Terra. Major Estelle Walker, decorated for service in the colonies and in the Invasion of Terra." "[Quite the staff, then.]" The governor motioned, the group starting to move away, down the platform, with the cityscape below them. The Kestrel was parked on the highest level, a look over the edge informing Ojeda that they were at least three miles above the surface, though with Engi cities, there was no proper 'surface'. "[Accommodations will be made for your stay.]" "While I'm sure my crew would appreciate a brief stay, we won't be staying any longer than the ship's polish job takes." The Colonel seemed slightly concerned about the Engi just assuming her compliance. "We're on a mission, we can't afford to stop for a week at every inhabited world." "[Of course, of course.]" The governor ended the conversation there, the group getting into a spacious shuttle and sitting down as its pilot peeled off and went down into the city.
  10. IC [Colonel Ojeda] "I'd hope so, considering how much cattle the Engi buy from Earth."
  11. IC [Colonel Ojeda] "Alright teams, listen up." The Colonel's voice came over the comms. "The ship's run a decontamination, you all will follow standard decon procedures when you get back. Flight commander, get your fighters into low orbit, we'll meet back up in space. Devas, you know the drill, get the reactor prepped for a jump. We'll leave this planet yet in one piece." IC [Engi Colony 92, human designation "Troy"] Two days later... Engi worlds were a sight to behold; the first species humanity met in the stars, those early explorers discovered the Engi frontier worlds. Weathered by decades of Mantis incursions, the Engi were confused to see a new species, but happily invited them to travel through their space. Though explorers found themselves greeted by cities that never seemed to end, cities that would stretch for miles into the sky, with miles underneath them of catacombs and a thriving undercity life. It was the Engi colonizing ethic: to build several large and dense cities, and to leave the rest of the planet alone. Human experts estimated a single Engi colony city held seven hundred million Engi, but the mechanical lifeforms never seemed to mind. Indeed, the Engi were a sociable species, such that when the first explorers landed in one of their cities, they were greeted by the colonial governor herself. Apparently years of violence against them hadn't discouraged the quaint little lifeforms to greet strangers with open arms; perhaps that was why they were the target of continued attacks. In the present, Ambassador Amador was wishing that she was one of those early explorers. Sitting in the governor's mansion, she was sipping some sort of Engi drink they translated as wine, waiting to see the colonial governor. To her side were four Planetary Forces troopers, ground thumpers dressed in full blue and purple armor. The ceremonial armor was flashy, but it was effective; the ambassador had personally witnessed one of her guards take a plasma grenade point blank. Man shrugged it off, though she later learned he had taken shrapnel to the gut and had to be removed. A shame, too; he was always so good at cards, a reliable bet if she had ever seen one. Standing near the window, her guards' commander, a certain Master Sargent Areleous, was peering out at the assembled Engi mob. "I don't think they're all too happy to see us," he remarked with a scowl, smoking some sort of noxious plant that the ambassador was sure no amount of nanites could help against. "I'm going call in a dropship, leaving by car's too risky now." "Still don't see why the machines hate us so much," one of the privates mumbled. "Probably because you keep calling them machines." Areleous gave the glass a knock, then attached a small cube to it. "It's why you're not the ambassador, but rather the kid who runs for her coffee." The private understood the implication to shut up, leading Amador to sigh. "If you must know, private, as orderly and peaceful as the Engi like to portray themselves in the galactic scene, no species is defined by one stereotype. The Engi are violent, and as it happens, not all agree with human involvement in their affairs. Many feel that their losses in this war could have been avoided if they had simply left humanity to be subjugated." "I'd call them xenophobic wankers, but I'd probably do the same. Then again, I've been called a xenophobic wanker in the past, so I guess it takes one to know one." Areleous settled himself down on a cushion, his frame remaining tense in case of attack. "And that's why you aren't the ambassador either." Sensing the door clicking open, the ambassador rose, putting on a smile as an elderly Engi and his aide came into the room. "Governor Sethell, I'm glad you could make time for our meeting." "[it's always a pleasure.]" The governor's face was expressionless; the ambassador couldn't tell if the Engi simply refused to update the screen it had in place of a face, or if the governor was simply bored. "[We will be attending a dinner; I hope you don't mind the modification of schedule.]" "A dinner?" The ambassador was puzzled. "[Yes, one of your vessels has appeared in our orbit. It was broadcasting a League frequency, but our satellites quickly deduced it of Federation origin and, by the alloy analysis, built in the Terran shipyards. After we made its commander aware of this, she identified herself as Colonel Palmira Ojeda; our records show her as a heroic individual, savior of over a thousand soldiers from the T.C.V. Tokyo. I invited her to dinner, and she agreed.]" "I... see." The ambassador raised an eyebrow, unsure of how to take the governor's sudden invitation. "Well, governor, as you can see there are protesters outside..." "[We will be taking an inner city shuttle, no need to involve the citizenry. Please, ambassador, this way.]" It was going be one of those nights. IC [Colonel Ojeda] "Well, that happened." The Colonel sat back down in her chair, looking around her. Conveniently, all her command staff were present, so no need for comms. "Ok soldiers, our mission: attend an Engi dinner without being poisoned. Daniels, get into something nice, Walker, you too. Chastain, me and you need to have a discussion about emergency gumbo tactics." She flicked on her security comm. "Harken, Skinter, get into your dress uniforms, you two are on security detail." Then, shipwide, "Attention crew, we are preparing to enter into the Engi colony Troy's atmosphere. Upon landing, I and the command staff will be attending a dinner. Apparently the Engi feel the need to clean our ship up, because they're just such a generous species, so we'll be running a skeletal crew while they do so. The computer will have command authority while we are gone, and the Engi have prepared a separate buffet for our crew, so all but essential personnel are welcome to go join it." Then, to a private comm, "Devas, stick around while we're gone. Engi rarely have malice in mind, but you know I don't like people poking through our systems. Stay covert and keep an eye on them." Standing back up again, the Colonel turned to Halik. "Adviser, I am aware of your more... inflamed feelings towards aliens, but I would like you to accompany me and the staff. Consider it an observation mission, if it helps." OOC So yeah basically everyone's in two groups, the rabble's off to go eat at the Engi buffet while the command staff is heading to a dinner plus security and Halik. And Devas is going go all metal gear solid on us.
  12. IC [The narrator] Probably to everyone's surprise, not a whole lot of anything happened. Callisto and Ganymede fell back, Ganymede calling in some help to revive the remaining humans, and Europa's crystal harvesting continued on as expected. The halftrack arrived back with the nanites, and after a brief period of nausea, the spores were removed from their system, restoring everyone's mental state back to good condition. Radio static continued, though, and the computer eventually identified a hacker; someone within the facility splicing into their comms, no doubt one of the deranged Engi. By the time something eventful happened, the sun was setting in the sky, and the last shipment of crystals was just about ready. The groups had gathered together, the computer having analyzed the logs and the reports of the facility doctor and found that fungal spores were the most likely explanation, though it couldn't find an explanation for the mental presence Ashley felt. Long-term sensor analysis did show something alive under the surface, but its lifesigns were so faint, it was barely detectable. More important was the strange and lumbering beasts, who had chosen now as a good time to wander through. The assembled crew was able to watch as they thumped past, the ground shaking as they did.
  13. IC [Colonel Ojeda] "Halftrack just got back on the ship; hold your position, I'll have 'em take you back the nanites." The Colonel frowned, thinking for a moment. "We'll continue the crystal harvest. Retrieve the rest of the facility crew and get them into the hanger, the ship's air filters will keep the rest of ship fine. Daniels, pull the data bricks and bring them back, the computer can analyze them faster here. Devas, keep your head and shoot anything that gets too close. Harken, I want you topside, you'll be providing cover for Europa."
  14. IC [Doctor Stevens] "Oh." The doctor took a moment to take it in. "Well, I think my license needs renewal. In the meantime, I'd suggest returning to your ship and getting an injection of cleansing nanites. We don't have any here, I doubt they'd still be functional after all this time anyways. Do you have others in the facility?" IC [Colonel Ojeda] After sweating into her chair for a few minutes, the Colonel regained her wits, turning the comms back on. "If it's so huge, then why... ah. The mining shaft. Landes, can you at least feel if it's malevolent or not?"
  15. IC [Doctor Stevens] "I'm not a hundred percent sure what it is, might be a microbe or a fungi, smart money's on some sort of fungal spore, but I didn't have the time to conduct a proper study before we had to freeze ourselves." The doctor glanced at the Engi, a bit worried. "We weren't affected, not as much as they were anyways. Mild paranoia and twitchiness, though some more severe hallucinations got a hold of the command staff. I'd suggest getting some cleansing nanites though, to get it out of your system, just in case. As for the Engi... well, the invader seems more inclined to their biology than ours. Mass hysteria, superstition, homicidal rage... the Engi are really an uncivilized race when you strip them of their higher functions." The doctor walked over to the cabinet, his Engi companion trailing along, and after typing a combination in pulled out a syringe, injecting its fluid into himself. "You'll have to excuse me if I'm a bit uneasy on my feet for a bit, it was a rush cyro job. How long have we been frozen? It was 62 ALT, January, when we went under." IC [Group Io] Harken found the water to be easily navigable, no currents or murk to get in the way. Within short order he was upon the resting figures, and able to get a better look: some sort of cuttlefish-like creature, except rather than one blob with tentacles, it was oblong and stretched, as though it was a quadruped... with tentacles. The creature was resting peacefully, different colors and textures rippling across its skin as it did. What was peculiar was a long and consistently blue stripe down what might have been its spine, the same blue as the mushrooms Harken had seen.
  16. IC [Ominous Presence] The presence didn't respond, not in any way Ashley could understand anyways. She was unsure it was unable to understand her, though as she felt around it she came to a startling realization: it was all around her because it was actually that large. Whatever alien presence this was, it was huge, not just psychically but physically as well. It might span the entire forest for all she knew. IC [Colonel Ojeda] "I'll be watching." The Colonel had begun to sweat, her vision continuing to blur in and out. Whatever was doing this wasn't very precise about it... but it didn't feel like a psionic incursion. It didn't feel like anyone was forcing its way into her mind. Sliding back into a chair, she tried to puzzle it out. Insane Engi, Confederates who froze themselves... why were the Engi insane and not the humans? Surely if there was something psionic, they'd focus on the base commanders, and not just drive one species to a homicidal insanity. IC [Group Ganymede] The defrost time was somewhat lengthy, you couldn't just thaw people like popsicle, so there was a period of awkward silence as the tube hummed away, until finally, the machine released a plume of gas within the tube, gave the occupant a moment to rouse, and chimed open. Coughing profusely, and then immediately throwing up whatever was in his stomach, he drug himself out and steadied himself on the tube as he blinked around in the dim light. "Please tell me you're not slavers," the man mumbled, before the Engi rushed to him and held his arm in the air. "[Chosen! Chosen!]" The alien seemed positively delighted that it didn't accidentally kill the man with the wrong wakeup sequence. "I see you met Joe here." The man's wits were slowly but surely returning to him, as did his recognization of the situation, noticing that none of the team had gasmasks on. "You've been breathing this air, haven't you? Oh dear. Oh very dear. The ship you came on, does it have nanites?"
  17. IC [insane Engi] "[You are no prophet! You didn't do the ritual! You didn't do the ritual! He, he is a prophet!]" The Engi scampered over to a cyrotube, tensing up as it looked at the mark, then tapping on the console, the tube beginning to hum as it began a defrost cycle. "[He will prove you wrong! He will wake the chosen! You are an impostor!]"
  18. IC [insane Engi] The Engi stared at the mark, then at Wulf, then at the mark, then at Wulf. "[...You just made that. You are no prophet of the Creator. Who are you to make that mark?]" It backed up, new fear in its eyes. "[You... you're a demon. An impersonator.]" This seemed to completely unhinge the Engi. "[Thirty years they slept! Thirty years I was free! Now they walk once again! They take your form! YOU ARE NOT CHOSEN!]"
  19. IC [Colonel Ojeda] Something's playing with us... but this is inconsistent. Something's not right about this not being right. The Colonel turned her comms back on, hoping whatever was messing with them was distracted. "Keep the skies clear Walker, don't leave our area." And then Daniels. "Daniels, try and salvage what you can from prior messages, logs or somesuch. Something's going on and surely it didn't start five minutes before they sent out the emergency hail." And then to Harken. "A lot of things are odd right now Captain, give me details." She pulled the sensor feed up, blinking as her vision blurred for a moment. "Very lovely underground spring, with some residents I see. Are they hibernating?" IC [insane Engi] "[Chosen by the Creator. Chosen to slay the demons. You aren't chosen! You don't bare the mark! They do.]" The Engi pointed to the cyrotubes. "[They bear the mark!]" IC [Ominous Presence] The presence, as Ashley soon found, wasn't in her mind; it was outside, but so imposing it had appeared to be in her mind already. She could sense... higher thought, but a totally alien kind. Something so different that she just could not grasp the exact nature of it. Slugs and humans differed, but even they were understandable to each other. This was simply alien.
  20. IC [Colonel Ojeda] "Blank your mind Major." The Colonel rubbed her temples, increasingly aware of something in the back of her own head. "Remember your training and keep your wits. Computer, what's causing this?" "I'm uncertain, Colonel." The computer seemed to have a twinge of doubt in its voice. "EM frequencies are clear, I'm detecting no surges in brain activity for the crew aboard the vessel. Captain Harken's suit is registering his brain activity normal as well." "Landes, try and sweep the area, see if you can-" The Colonel stopped, realizing something. "What's the status of the EM frequencies, computer?" "Clear, Colonel." "What's the status of the communications?" "Disrupted, Colonel." The Colonel looked at the map blankly for a moment, then at the console. Quietly tapping on it, she began to write up a lengthy piece on tactics while she zoned her mind out, a very clear thought being sent out. Landes or Souper should have been able to pick it up. Senses compromised. Operate independently. It was going be a difficult mission. IC [insane Engi] "[Demons of the Earth! Demons of the water! Cursed children of the Creator!]" The Engi did seem to calm slightly at Kharon's voice, as it looked the man over. It was still quite deranged. "[You, you are not chosen. You can't stop this! The demons can only be stopped by the chosen!]"
  21. IC [Colonel Ojeda] "Affirmative. Dug too deep, demons, killing, seems to be right there in the list of things that happen to far-flung frontier outposts." The Colonel glanced at the map, frowning as she noted the fighters breaking off. "Major, why are you breaking off your patrol pattern?" IC [Group Io] It was a short crawl through the tunnel before the posse broke through a wall of fungal growth and into a rather large cavern. The walls were covered in the glowing mushrooms, illuminating the whole cave a dim blue light. After a short slide down the side of the cliff they'd surfaced on, the group found themselves looking at a massive underground lake, crystal clear water allowing Harken to see all the way to the bottom... and notice the prone figures resting at the bottom. They were too distant to make out any shape, but his sensors confirmed they were alive, and giving off readings like nothing he'd seen before. IC [Group Ganymede] The group's discussion on the frozen humans and the tracks of the aliens was cut short by the door hissing open, an Engi staggering in. Its visor was gone, revealing two frantic, human-like eyes, while the rest of its body was obviously in a state of disrepair. Muscle fiber was exposed to the air, its mechanical parts where in varying states of deterioration, and its unhuman face was contorted in an expression of fear and shock. "[They walk again!]" It screeched in an Engi dialect, the visors translating it and putting it up as text for those who hadn't learned it over their years in space. "[Thirty years they slept, now they walk again! Slithering, they slither into your mind! You can't stop their invasions, only the chosen can stop the demons!]" The Engi turned to the Mantis, rushing to it, some of its grayish blood rubbing onto her shell as the Engi grabbed the Mantis' shoulders. "[You are not chosen! You must flee! You must all flee! Only the chosen can stop the demons!]"
  22. IC [Group Ganymede] Even Kharon's extensive knowledge of the sector's more hostile fauna fell short; this was a remote world, likely with it's own naturally-evolved life, and probably undocumented. While he couldn't make out any specific species, the tracks reminded him of a creature he had once seen on Poseidon Prime; something that looked like a large cuttlefish, and could surface on land, wiggling along the beach to capture slow-moving crabs. This thing certainly had tentacles, at any rate.
  23. IC [Group Io] It was a long repel down; Harken's kilometer long rope was nearly at its end when he reached the bottom. Crouching down, the captain was able to see further down the tunnel... and pick up faint lifesigns with his suit's sensors. The tunnel would be trip, though: in his bulky armor, it'd be a tight fit to get through, though from what he could tell it did open up to a more spacious surrounding. IC [Dorian] It's not even reaching out and... I can feel it. It's in our mind. Entered without us even knowing. It's not doing anything, it's just... staring. Everyone could be in danger. IC [Colonel Ojeda] "I copy, Landes." The Colonel flicked on to the team-wide frequency. "Watch your step folks. Landes is sensing presences, and that means something at least close to sapience is down there." IC [Team Ganymede] Souper found xhemself unable to access their minds; cyrotubes put a human into a deep state of hibernation, the brain simply wasn't active enough to be accessed psionically. Kharon had a better success, though, as he found that the room wasn't quite as sealed as he thought. Dust had obviously been stirred up, as well as a variety of Engi footprints wandering around, as well as some footprints he couldn't immediately identify.
  24. Of all the times I've been bummed over things, usually the one thing that was certain to make me sink deeper into it was my father telling me I'll get over it. It's just not a very helpful piece of advice for the bummed and the depressed. To the blog topic itself, yeah, I know the feeling. A good movie or TV series ends and you just want more. There's always well written fan fiction.
  25. IC [Colonel Ojeda] "I read you." The Colonel's voice came with a crackle. "The computer's working on getting over this interference, solar flare's passing through. What's your situation?" IC [Dorian] Ashley. Dorian spoke up for the first time in a long time. Something down there... doesn't feel right. Like something just woke up. There's... presences, all over down there. Alien, so very alien. IC [Palmira Ojeda] "Major Walker," Ojeda's voice was distant as it came in over Estelle's comms. "I'm picking up a disturbance, two kilometers out, heading towards the facility. Check it out."
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