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 Border Colony Crathon

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REDSHEILD

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PostSubject: Border Colony Crathon   Sat May 04, 2013 7:55 pm

Olaron stood outside amid the gray rocks of the cliff, his chrome chassis flaring brilliantly as lightning flashed in the distance. Rain, wind, and wave pounded the shores of Crathon's largest continent. For a moment he was blind as a massive wave smashed against the rocks, throwing foam and water into the air and blasting away loose debris from the cliff's edge.
He peered across the gulf and witnessed distant flashes, followed shortly by the shattered lines of lightning and the crack of thunder.
"So" he thought "They have begun"

Crathon's surface was mostly ocean, and large volcanic vents around its equator, combined with the frozen poles, created conditions perfect for a never ending series of massive storms. However the storms he saw in the distance, far inland, were of a different nature. They were abrupt and short lived, yet their power dwarfed those that set the norm across the planet.
He didn't need to see what was happening to know what was causing it: the discharge of heavy weapons. Not the conventional ones used by the Vathari, but the weapons of the Fabricators, exotic and terrible feats of power and destruction. Each flash or shock wave was a by-product of firing, the storms the result of the titanic amounts of energy that bled into the air as the blast traveled through it.

He knew that somewhere inland across the inlet, two Fabricators were locked in a duel to the death. A friendly one, at that, as neither appeared to have escalated to nuclear weapons, at least not yet. Olaron knew these beings well, one was the legendary Thiril, one of the first Fabricators to turn against the Oncari. The two he faced were a younger sort, born during the battle for Oncar itself, pushed in to battle against their kin, only to turn against their creators the moment their shared form and its swarms of subsidiary units came online. Those two were Rethul and Quaya, brother and sister, created as a counter to the more singular-minded first generation Fabricators, they were two beings who shared the same existence. Their main form was a massive mobile factory that was armed to the teeth and capable of creating swarms of more conventional vehicles. This was in a stark contrast to Thiril's tall bipedal form, one that many of the first Fabricators assumed when they began their rebellion.

The battle had likely devastated its immediate surroundings, both from stray or deflected shots, and the wounds in the land created as the combatants repaired their bodies in the midst of combat. Olaron's place in all of this was as moderator. The two Fabricators were dueling out of practice, and for safety were acting through replicas of themselves. Olaron had a direct monitor of their connections to their respective combat forms, and as soon as a connection would be severed, he would call the victor as whichever one was still standing.

Alas, the battle had raged on and off for many days, and he was sure they still had a good week in that area before they moved to the nearby mountains, where one of them would likely gain the upper hand. And since such duels were always held on worlds with little more than an orbital presence, Olaron had very little to do, and he never did fancy counting stars, or rocks, or waves, or rain droplets. So he settled for watching the endless battle, at least until the orbital station came within range again, and he could talk to someone, or something. For by now, almost anything would be better than standing out in this endless rain, viewing a distant and endless war between giants.


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PostSubject: Re: Border Colony Crathon   Sat May 04, 2013 11:48 pm

"All systems nominal."

Oran admired the way the captain spoke so calmly despite being moments from one of the greatest events in history. He could barely focus on the sensors console himself, and the weight of his responsibility was far less than the others on board the bridge. To say the excitement was overwhelming was to the say the least of Oran's emotions.

His nervous glance went back the window once again, where he saw a series of rings ahead, all connected to a single "spine", which they were on the apparent bottom of, hanging like the rings from the central track. Several engineering craft and their parent frigates patrolled nearby, but they were beginning to peel off and move a fair distance away as bursts of radio chatter came in through communications.

"Oran!"

He jerked to attention, noting the captain's stern gaze and realizing he had been called repeatedly already, but ignored the captain in his ignorant excitement.

"Yes?"

"Let me know when they all reach minimal safe distance. You do know how to operate a sensors console." Oran knew those last words carried a hint of doubt and perhaps questioning, but he also knew better than to answer. He focused his attention to the console in front of him, dancing his fingers along the keyboard for an instant to bring up an ellipsoid around the array.

"Clear."

"Launch," the captain said, his voice directed into his headset, which was undoubtedly tuned to the array control crew. The ship immediately began moving, electromagnets working in conjunction with the ship's automated thrust to propel the half-kilometer vessel along the spinal length. They passed ring after ring, not simply accelerating, but achieving specific parameters required to ensure the ship survived the end maneuver.

With a final burst of momentum, the blast shields on the bridge dropped. There was a distinct absence of noise -- which Oran could only assume was the ship passing the threshold -- followed by an unnatural shaking of the ship. Another moment passed (and another moment of silence), and the blast shields were raised.

Contrary to all expectations, they did not see a backdrop of stars dotting the bleak darkness of space. They saw, to the surprise of not only Oran but the entire crew, a planet. And they were falling through its atmosphere at incredible speeds.

The captain was the first to jump to action, as expected of any captain, beginning a stream of orders to the entire bridge crew before opening ship-wide communications and streaming orders to them as well.

Oran set to work at his console, scanning the planet and surrounding area as quickly as the computer would allow, but the sensors -- his sensors -- went offline shortly after he began, whether due to a reaction in the atmosphere or even atmospheric friction, he didn't know. In fact, the only thing he knew at this point, between all the information he had gathered and his life experiences, was that they were going really, really fast.

He found his words shortly after the realization loosened its grip on him, his voice calm in a manner alien to him but so familiar to the captain, who merely nodded in acknowledgement before turning his attention elsewhere.

"Sensors down."

"How long until impact?"

"Half a minute, Captain."

"Disengage the ring if it hasn't been torn off already. All hands prepare for impact."

Boom.
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PostSubject: Re: Border Colony Crathon   Sun May 05, 2013 12:15 am

Again a clap of thunder as the titans battled, the sky rattling, and Olaron watching with the half-present eye of boredom. As his vision went white with yet another flash he felt a wave, this time not of sea but of light, strike his antenna. It was short, the message, and to the point.
"Ground, we have a disturbance, upper atmosphere. Spatial."
"Acknowledged" he sent back, his absent mind practically feeling every photon as they left the comms suite mounted to his chassis.

Another clap, a boom in the sky. Yet this one was different, somehow, from the others. One of speed. A sonic boom, from above.
With speed unknown to most sapients Olaron's head snapped around, his glass eyes peering at the source. Actuators whirred and clicked as lenses came into focus, and he saw a most unusual sight.
A great wreck of metal, falling through the sky, burning as a large metal ring tore away from it. A flash and a late scream, and shocks went through the ship, great fires from its bow piercing the wind and rain against the pull of the planet and the craft's own speed.
But it was too late.

A third grand crash marked the end of the ship's descent, slamming onto rock, sand, and wave as it plowed onto a nearby beachhead. Olaron had already estimated where it would crash, and had set off running towards the location, jumping with some effort over crevice and crack to cross the withered rocks of the island so he could reach the waters. His metal body hit the seas with little grace or splendor, spray and foam finding its way into the voids and spaces of his form, only to be washed away by the cold ocean.

As he emerged from the water near the fallen craft he noticed that the great shadows in the distance, the Fabricators, had stopped their duel. And so he began to cautiously tread towards the alien construct, both unsure and afraid of it in the same moment as his metal feet sunk and rose through the fine wet sands.
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PostSubject: Re: Border Colony Crathon   Sun May 05, 2013 1:12 am

"Anyone alive?"

It was the second thing Oran heard after the crash. When the ship came to a halt, he held his breathe until he heard what must have been a wave crash against the hull, a welcome sign that he was alive. In the future, he would toy with the idea that everyone was waiting for it, but for now, his mind was focused on the voice in the darkness of the bridge.

It wasn't the captain's, to his surprise, but the communications officer whose name escaped Oran at the moment. Ignorant of the question, Oran removed his seat buckle and slid from the console chair, a small groan escaping his throat.

"Hey, who was that?"

"Me... Oran! Sorry, Oran."

"Yeah, Llaga is alive too, Oret." That's his name, I remember now.

"There's a closet around here with some lights. Where is it?"

"By sensors, I think."

"Oran, there should be an emergency closet near you."

"I heard." His hands fumbled in the dark for the closet handle, but he did find it. He considered it his first success of the day, reaching in to grab a light and switching it on.

The bridge was surprisingly intact, with the blast shields down and only a few papers scattered around. Oran could see in the light that more than half of the bridge crew was laying on the ground, but he couldn't tell if they were dead or alive. He paused for a moment before tossing the light across the bridge lightly, where Oret caught it. After repeating the process for Llaga, the bridge was fully lit.

Llaga and Oret immediately set about checking on the limp Gyraci laying around, as Oran made his way to the hallway, which was a more troublesome task than one would think, with the ship aligned in such an odd way. After moving into the central hallway, he was relieved to see hand lights of the engineering crew in the distance. He blinked the light several times, signalling the survival of at least some bridge crew, and waited for a confirmation reply. To his thanks, someone was looking his way. A series of blinks came back, and after a moment of puzzling it out, Oran realized they were repairing a small breach in the internal air system. Signalling his confirmation, he returned to the bridge.

"Broken jaw. Those two?"

"Fine, just out cold, as far as I can tell."

Oran climbed carefully back into the bridge, looking up to see Oret and Llaga standing near the front, holding up the captain.

"They're repairing a minor breach in our atmospherics. Captain all right?"

"He'll live. Broken jaw."

"Wish our generators were working."

There were nods all around. In that moment, Oran realized his opportunity, and spoke up.

"Yeah, I was actually about to suit up and survey the hull externally, see how bad off we are."

Llaga was the first to react to that, piping up. "That's all right, I'll do it."

"I've got it, you should stay with the rest of the bridge crew."

"Are you sure? You're new to this ship, I'm not sure you..."

The captain held up his hand and Llaga fell silent. Locking eyes with Oran, he nodded. That was that.

Oran soon found himself near one of the emergency hatch in an atmospherics suit, with a semi-automatic coil gun in his hands. He wasn't sure why he had grabbed the coilgun, or even where he grabbed it from, but it wasn't time to think about it. Fighting against the slope of the ship, he climbed to the hatch and began to turn the wheel. When it popped open, he climbed through to the next way, and looked through the peephole. Seeing that there was open air, he reached down and slowly pulled the hatch closed behind him, and opened the one ahead.

From the outside, Oran got his first ground view of the planet, largely barren and bleakly gray. After scanning the atmosphere with his suit and finding it somewhat breathable, he took his first breath of the atmosphere too. It was lacking, of course, and Oran switched back to his suit's atmospherics after exhaling. He walked across the hull a short way, watching the landscape more than the ship, and looked out across the ocean they had very nearly found themselves completely submerged in.

It was a beautiful sight, if frightening. Storms occupied all the sky he could see, and waves crashed against rocks and beachheads, of which the hull was now a part. He wiped the sea mist from his visor after a moment, and his gaze immediately settled on a disturbance in the flow of the waves.

Something was moving towards the ship.
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PostSubject: Re: Border Colony Crathon   Sun May 05, 2013 1:29 am

He could make out a shape moving as he approached the ship, a square -a hatch, of some sort- lifting from it, and a figure rising out of it.
A wave crashed on his legs as he realized it. It wasn't just a figure, it was an alien. And an organic, too, judging by the suit.

Olaron walked near enough to the ship that, he believed, the creature could see him. He reached into a utility compartment and affixed a light to his right hand, raising it into the air. He flashed it once, paused, once again, another pause, then twice in succession, paused yet again, and flashed the light three more times fast enough for them to be grouped but apart enough to be noticed.

Then he kept his hand held high, and waited.
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PostSubject: Re: Border Colony Crathon   Sun May 05, 2013 1:47 am

When he saw the first flash, Oran wasn't sure whether he'd die in another instant or if he'd already been hit. It was only after another moment that he realized it was only a light, not a weapon. He played the flashes over in his head, trying to find meaning in the sequence. He felt foolish standing there for a moment before it came to him. The Goas Sequence.

Oran fumbled with his hand-light a moment, holding the coilgun one handed as he raised the light. He began the long process of flashing out the reply, five blinks, a pause, eight blinks, a pause, thirteen blinks, and he lowered the hand-light.
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PostSubject: Re: Border Colony Crathon   Sun May 05, 2013 1:56 am

Olaron felt a warmth in his mind as the lights flashed back, the sequence continued by the alien. Good. They are life after all he mused to himself.
He set the light to continue the sequence for another five places where it would then wait for him to have it start after the alien had responded.
That done, he began walking towards the ship, not at a pace that could be threatening, but fast enough that he would arrive before three exchanges of the sequence.
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PostSubject: Re: Border Colony Crathon   Sun May 05, 2013 2:12 am

The light continued flashing as the figure moved closer, presumably continuing through the Goas Sequence, but Oran was far too surprised to keep track of the number. When the blinking finally stopped, he raised his hand light, but took a moment before he started flashing it again. The Goas Sequence was getting far too large for him to want to blink it out, so he began a new sequence.

Two, four, eight.

The light blinked back without a moment's hesitation, sixteen, thirty two, sixty four.

Oran was amazed at what was happening, that he was the one to make First Contact, that he held so much responsibility now when he was just a sensors officer not long ago. The figure was getting closer now, and Oran could make out the shape more clearly, but the details were still blurry. The being -- for that was what it was, Oran now knew -- had strange looking joints, almost mechanical in appearance. Another few moments passed, and it hit Oran so suddenly he almost jerked from the impact.

It was a machine.
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PostSubject: Re: Border Colony Crathon   Sun May 05, 2013 2:37 am

Once he got close to the ship Olaron lowered his arm and returned the light to its storage compartment. The alien had stopped the sequence, and now it was standing still.
Approaching the hull he noticed that the ship was askew, the place where the alien stood just slightly sloped away from level. He back up a ways and with a good, solid leap, jumped up onto the ship, landing only a few yards from the alien, his feet coming down with a hard sound as the electromagnets within energized so he wouldn't be able to fall off.

He turned to look towards the alien, his glass eyes glowing a soft green. Facing the creature, Olaron's body was lit by the dim light of the stormy world, his gray metal form worn from the wear of the rain, water, and hail he had endured the past several weeks. And on his chest's left-most plate was emblazoned the emblem of Vathar, a red hexagon with a red dot in the middle, and a sectioned green hexagon inset between the two. From his right eye ran two lines of green paint which wrapped around his forearm and spiraled down his arm to end in a green dot in his right palm. He extended his arm up, palm facing the alien, then closed the five-fingered piece into a fist, bringing it in the same motion to strike the emblem on his chest. And then he muttered the phrase

"Antu Vathar"

Vathar Greets You.

He did not expect the alien to understand. But it was the custom with those foreign, as it had been since the days before, the days even the Old Minds could not remember. And so, it was said again, for the first time since.
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PostSubject: Re: Border Colony Crathon   Sun May 05, 2013 2:47 am

Too shocked at first to move, with one hand clutching the coilgun's grip and the other the light, Oran didn't react until the alien's fist met its chest. The intent of the message was obvious, and Oran found himself comforted by the alien's words, however mechanical its appearance. He asked himself whether it was truly sapient or whether it was a construct of another species, but found no answer, as should be expected of such reactions.

He tucked the hand-light into his belt and adjusted the coilgun's sling to hang it behind him before holding his own hand up. His two thumbs were folded against his palm, as well as his fourth finger, while the remaining three were held together, pointed to the sky.

"We are Gyraci."
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PostSubject: Re: Border Colony Crathon   Sun May 05, 2013 2:55 am

He kept his posture rigid as the alien did its own greeting. The word it said, the last one, it had meaning. Gyraci, was it? Now, was it a name, or a kind? A species? A race?

Olaron put his arms to his side, then, using both, motioned to his chassis.
"Vathari" he said.

He paused, to give the alien a moment, then he took his right hand and placed his index finger on the right side of his head, pointing towards his main processor.

"Olaron"
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PostSubject: Re: Border Colony Crathon   Sun May 05, 2013 3:03 am

A name. It has a name. Olaron. A name.

Oran was far more excited than he had ever been, more so than during the launch, more so than when he first joined the navy, more so than even his first mind-touch. He took a moment to mentally prepare himself, thinking over the alien's actions several times before beginning to mimic them.

He placed his palm against his chest, repeating the word "Gyraci", and excitedly -- perhaps too fast -- pressed two fingers to his temple to say "Oran". Taking initiative, he waved at the hull of the ship, from aft to fore, saying "starship". Pinching the outer layer of his suit between a thumb and index finger, he said "atmospheric suit".
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PostSubject: Re: Border Colony Crathon   Sun May 05, 2013 3:15 am

Warmth spread through Olaron's mind as the alien, no, as Oran responded. A new species, one of life, of learning, of mind.
Of teaching, too. New language, the Gyraci words for ship, for Oran's suit. It was a moment to behold, even that small exchange.

He retried a piece of scrap from a compartment, held it in his hand. First he pointed to the ship, then to the scrap metal.

"Ship" he said, in the Gyraci tongue.

He let the word hang for a moment, then he gripped the scrap with both hands, and tore it halfway down the middle.

"Damage"

On his right forearm a device emerged, crackling with electricity. He forced the tear in the scrap together, then ran the arc welder over it, sealing the piece again.

"Fix"

He pointed to the hatch

"Inside"
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PostSubject: Re: Border Colony Crathon   Sun May 05, 2013 3:42 am

Oran understood quickly enough that it (he? she?) was offering repairs, but he couldn't know how favorably the crew would react to a large robotic alien coming aboard. He moved toward the hatch nonetheless, and when Olaron began to follow, he stopped and held a hand up. Before continuing to move, Oran pointed at Olaron and then the hull where the robot stood, just to get the point across. When he was certain Olaron understood, Oran opened the hatch and climbed down.

On the bridge, Oran was greeted by a few more conscious faces. A storm of questions hit him, but he interrupted them with "I've made first contact". The words seemed to hang in the air, and just when it looked like everyone was about to talk, the captain held up his hand in the same fashion he did earlier, and nodded once again.

Oran excitedly relayed the tale, beginning with the atmosphere and covering everything from the machine swimming towards him to the number sequences and lingual exchange. He ended with the alien's offer for repairs, which caused a silence not too dissimilar to that of crossing the wormgate threshold. An argument broke out, but Oran was only looking for one confirmation: the captain's nod.

Conveniently, when he received it, the radio burst to life, and the chief engineer hailed the bridge crew. Before the others could react, Oran summoned the Chief Engineer to meet him by the emergency hatch he had used earlier. A brief explanation at the hatch caught the chief engineer, Llorem, up to speed.

It was then that Oran re-emerged and waved Olaron over, inviting him to enter the ship.



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PostSubject: Re: Border Colony Crathon   Sun May 05, 2013 6:13 pm

Olaron watched Oran disappear through the hatch. He imagined it would be big news to what other crew aboard that they had crashed on a world with intelligence on it, and so nearby, as well. He took the opportunity to inform the rest of the small Vathari presence on Crathon about what had occurred.
"Orbital, I have made contact with the anomaly. Crashed starship, creatures on board are intelligent organic lifeforms. Requesting deployment of maintenance drones attached to my frequencies."
"Confirmed. First contact protocols coming online, Vathar, Oncar, and the nearest major world, Urastil, have been informed. Orbital out."

As the orbital station once again zipped out of range a part of Olaron felt disappointed that the mind controlling the station was not more enthused. Another part of him knew that it was probably for the best, it was hard enough to handle first contact by himself. No need to get others involved without reason.

From the distance he heard a large boom. It was not the same thunderous sound as before, but the two duelists had clearly gone back to their game. It was better that way, as Fabricators were strange beings, and they might only complicate things if they gained an interest in the crashed vessel.

Oran emerged again from the hatch, gesturing towards it. Olaron accepted the offer and followed him down the hatch into the ship. The hallway was lit dimly by a few small lights, though there were larger fixtures that were unlit. He took this as proof that their main power was down.

The hatch closed shortly after and as his eyes adjusted to the dim lights he made out a second figure, also suited. He made an abbreviated motion of greeting, mere placing his fist to his chest, and without saying a word.

He brought his right hand up to the level of the aliens' chests, a misty gray light emitting from a device emergent from his palm. His scanners fed data of his surroundings into his processors, and the gray mist changed shape until it was a holographic diagram of his immediate surroundings, enveloped by a silhouette of the crashed spacecraft.
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PostSubject: Re: Border Colony Crathon   Sun May 05, 2013 7:46 pm

A look passed between Oran and Llorem, one of mutual curiosity and excitement. Away from the bureaucracy and procedure of normal ASC navy life, they could fully enjoy the feeling of learning something new and so wildly foreign. Oran wondered for the rest of the day why he hadn't become an engineer and insisted on making his way through the ranks to the bridge crew. Llorem asked himself why he hadn't become a sensors operator in preparation for this day.

Walking down the corridor with Olaron in pursuit, Oran was filled in on the status of the ship, as if he were the captain and not the injured elder Gyraci sitting in the bridge.

"The emergency generators are on, but they only have enough stored power for a week, if we use it as little as possible. We'll need it for heating, lighting, and any status or sensor consoles still online back in Engineering and on the bridge. Even if half the solar panels weren't broken, we can't get enough power to sustain the ship with that weather, if it's how you told me."

"It is."

"Now, it seems to me our only option is to repair the fusion generator, but it could be completely destroyed for all I know. Unless your friend here happens to have a generator in his pockets--" Llorem glanced back and looked Olaron up and down for a moment. "Or a hidden compartment, I suppose, then we're not very well off."

"And you think they won't send help before our generators give out."

"They know accidents happen. If they send another ship, it'll be to complete the wormgate, not rescue us. Only when that's functioning will they bother to scan the system. They'll wait a few days before declaring us lost, send a ship a few days after that, and scanning the system could take another day."

"It'll be close, then." Oran stopped and looked at Llorem, waiting for the answer.

"Close if it happens at all," was the reply, and Llorem continued on.

A sudden, seemingly distant 'boom' caused the two Gyraci to stop just before the main reactor emergency hatch. Oran was the first to turn to Olaron, but Llorem was not much slower.

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PostSubject: Re: Border Colony Crathon   Sun May 05, 2013 8:14 pm

Olaron watched the two Gyraci with interest while his auxiliary sensors mapped the ship as they walked along. He recorded their conversation and prepared a copy to send to Orbital when it came back into range. The map floating above his palm became annotated as he analyzed the ship's design, little notes appearing here and there, dimensions, possible damage, thoughts on the aesthetic, and whatever else came to mind.

He heard the boom and thought nothing of it. The Gyraci, however, appeared concerned, their gazes inspiring unease in his mind. The image of the ship shifted and swirled, the mist coming together to form an aerial view of the landscape from the crash site to the site of the duel. He toned down the brightness, but the flashes were clear indicators of the magnitude of weapons being used, which the Fabricators survived with little damage.

He conjured a second hologram next to the new one, this one a quick animation of two Vathari engaged in a mock sword duel. The small figures greeted each other with the same motion Olaron had used to greet the Gyraci, met in quick combat, then withdrew and shook hands, the image going blank for a moment before repeating.

"Practice" he said, pointing at the animation. He then pointed to the Fabricators, and repeated the word.
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PostSubject: Re: Border Colony Crathon   Sun May 05, 2013 9:39 pm

Oran bobbed his head, mouth ajar as if to say "Ah, of course". Llorem murmured the word a few times before turning on his heel and walking the final few steps to the hatch and twisting the wheel.

"Now, as far as we can tell," he grunted, obviously having difficulty with the wheel, "the magnet rings are broken in several places, and there was some plasma leakage. Hngh, there we go."

With the door open, it was clear the generator room was a bigger mess than it should have been. Before Oran could comment, Llorem continued.

"We figure the guys who set everything up weren't very thorough. It would have still been a mess, but the crash shouldn't have shaken it up this much."

Several catwalks had collapsed and a few tables were partially yanked from their original positions, bolts scattered about. In the center of the room sat the fusion generator, a widened crack running down the side of the containment chamber, with the floor near it partially melted.

"It's a good thing we didn't take this thing into combat. One good hit and the generator would have come unfastened itself, I'm thinking. In any case, there isn't much we can do here."

"What if we could get the main generator back online? Don't we have spare parts?"

"Some, sure. With the containment broken and the magnets gone, though... I don't even know if we have spare magnet rings, and it's doubtful they'd survive intact if we did. I doubt the ASC would leave us a whole spare generator, too, which is what we're looking at with the containment breached. We might have some materials to repair it, but..."

"I see what you mean. You haven't answered the first question, though."

Llorem tapped his foot a few times, staring blankly at the generator.

"If we can get the main generator up, we'll survive until our supplies are out. Assuming we did have the parts, it wouldn't take more than a day to repair, but I'd like to take another day to make sure all the cabling and piping is intact."

Oran bobbed his head, appearing to be deep in thought himself. It was a few moments before he turned to Olaron and pointed back to the fusion generator, struggling to repeat the word the Vathari had told him earlier.

"Fix?"


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PostSubject: Re: Border Colony Crathon   Sun May 05, 2013 10:30 pm

As the Gyraci were speaking, Olaron brought his map back up, detailing the reactor room, measuring and analyzing. In the same moment he felt his senses expand as the two maintenance drones he requested landed softly on the beach. They were quadruped in form with an array of tools and sensors mounted to a ball-like head protruding from their blocky central cores. He was relived to find that they would just barely fit through the external airlock and into the walkways.
The two drones were accompanied by the characteristic sound of metal on metal as they scampered through the ships to Olaron's location.

They were nearing the room, having slowed down and approaching almost silently, as the Gyraci finished their conversation and the one called Oran spoke to him. Olaron replied with a simple "Yes." and motioned towards the doorway. A moment later the two drones came through, single-file, then they stood side-by-side, facing Olaron.

"Fix" he said to the drones, though it was not needed, his mind was linked to their simple ones. They began doing simple tasks, organizing piles of equipment and wiring, repairing split or cut wires and connections. Olaron turned to the two Gyraci, and pointed at the annotated hologram that still floated above his open palm.

"Diagram?" he asked, motioning between the room and the image.
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PostSubject: Re: Border Colony Crathon   Mon May 06, 2013 5:36 pm

The two Gyraci stared for a moment, unsure of what the Vathari wanted, if anything. The lingering surprise of the drones' sudden appearance didn't do much to sharpen their instinct. Llorem was the first to break the unnatural silence hanging between the three, with a quick "Just a moment" before crossing the room to find an intact terminal .

"If they're going to fix the generator up, they'll probably need... this." He tapped the screen a few times, and the terminal ejected what appeared to be a thin board. When he came closer, it was clear that the object was some sort of digital tablet. Llorem positioned himself and the tablet in a way that the Vathari could see the screen.

On the screen was a diagram of the fusion generator and several buttons with abstract images hinting at their function. Llorem went over them briefly, pressing each a few times in turn so Olaron would understand. The diagram could be exploded, reset, and manipulated part by part. The view could also be rotated around it with the dragging of a fingertip across the screen, and the parts could be brought up in a window reminiscent of a parts catalog for old machinery, detailing their function and appearance. While Llorem doubted the alien could understand Gyraci well enough to read the dialogue windows for each part, he hoped it was intelligent enough to understand what each part was from the appearance.

After Llorem handed the Vathari the tablet, he looked up to see Oran watching the drones with interest, walking around the room and stepping close every now and then to look at them in detail, though shyly backing away when it moved.
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PostSubject: Re: Border Colony Crathon   Mon May 06, 2013 6:33 pm

Olaron habitually tried to reach out to the tablet with his radio, but found the device didn't respond. He was about to perform a self-diagnostic when he remembered that it was an alien device. He gently grabbed it from the Gyraci that had led him and Oran here and began to examine it. It was simple enough to manipulate, but alas, the maintenance drones' software was not suited to analyzing images and translating them into three dimensional data, and he neither wanted to modify them for the task or have to do it himself. He felt along the edges and contours of the device, searching for ports. Finding two he held the device in his right hand as his left index finger's tip split open to reveal a mass of delicate wires surrounded by tiny telescoping actuators. They snaked through the air towards the device, exploring the ports until they adjusted to fit them. He probed a bit, playing with voltages and currents that felt to fit the device's impedance.
He figured one of the ports as power, the other as data. For the sake of it he started supplying the device with energy, and a little green light on it turned red. He looked at the Gyraci with their red skin and figured there may be a connection there. For a bit of fun, he showed the device to the Gyraci, and turned the power on and off several times. The data port was a bit more challenging, he had to manipulate it in the right ways to figure out the software structure, and he didn't even know their machine code. Eventually he was able to convince the device to dump its memory into him, where he could dissect it more easily. It took a good half hour, but eventually he had translated the data, and had a three-dimensional schematic he could give to the drones. He handed the tablet back to the Gyraci, but not before putting a little program on it that compared Vathari and Gyraci numeral symbols and values with a binary example set to display.
Outside he felt another pair of drones from Orbital land near the ship, and he set those to scout out the exterior. They took about an hour to scout around the outside, and he projected an image from his hand showing a comparison between the diagram and the damaged areas, updating in real time. He then motioned to the two drones in the room, now idle, and pointed at the map's display of the ship interior and then the door, hoping to convey a request to have them scout the interior of the craft.
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PostSubject: Re: Border Colony Crathon   Mon May 06, 2013 10:15 pm

"You let alien machines board the ship?"
"They're repairing the ship, I don't see what you're complaining about."
"I'm complaining that this is a major breach in security. For all you know, they're preparing to kill us as we speak."
"I highly doubt that."
"How would you know, though?"
"Look, that's not what's important right now. If you're that concerned, grab a rifle and point it at the door. They're going through the corridors right now."

* * * * *
[In the generator room]

It was a lie, but they wouldn't notice. He mentally thanked them for not asking about the distant explosions that could be heard frequently. Explaining that would be sure to set them over the edge, and the last thing the ASC needed was a war with the Vathari or those titans they associated with.

Oran bobbed his head in Olaron's direciton, but, realizing the gesture meant nothing to the Vathari, found himself struggling for a moment to find a means to communicate his affirmation. It was then that he remembered the program uploaded on the tablet, which Llorem showed him briefly.

"Llorem, I need the tablet."

"What fo-- Oh, yes. Of course."

Oran quickly brought up the program, which the Vathari had strangely managed to upload without the use of the terminal or a wireless uplink. It only took a second to find the Gyraci numeral one and the Vathari numeral one, the latter of which he brought up on the screen. With the tablet screen turned to Olaron, Oran bobbed his head, hoping the meaning would be conveyed properly.

Strangely enough, he felt as though he did know it would be understood. All the events leading up to this point made it clear that the Vathari were a highly advanced civilization, and as far as Oran knew, they couldn't be alone. So far he had seen nothing to suggest the Vathari were anything but robots, and most machines had creators.

But that didn't make them any less intelligent or individual, did it? For one to learn, to understand, and ultimately create with the knowledge gained, they must be at least as sapient as the Gyraci. Oran's thoughts turned once again to the demonstration nearly an hour before. His and Llorem's reaction was first of interest, as Olaron probed the tablet for a means to connect, but that was quickly drowned out by excitement and awe when the machine-being became seemingly effortlessly adept at manipulating the device. Draining and restoring the tablet's power was the least of it, they soon found, when the tablet was returned and a completely new program was added to its memory, comparing Gyraci and Vathari numerals, and upon 3D schematic Olaron held in his hand, based off the data on the tablet, they only had one word in their thoughts to describe it.

Intelligence.

No mere machine following rigid programming structure could accomplish what Olaron did in so little time, Oran thought, though he admitted to himself that he knew little of computer programming himself. It was that which solidified in his mind a single thought, that if the Vathari did have a creator, he would not think of the machine-beings as inferior to their creators, but simply a natural progression stemming from them.
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PostSubject: Re: Border Colony Crathon   Mon May 06, 2013 11:36 pm

Olaron looked at the tablet. It displayed a numeral. But not just a numeral, the numeral One. The foundation of computing, One and Zero. Yes and No.
Yes

Without a moment's pause the two drones set off, scanning and searching at a pace that seemed much too fast for their graceless bodies, yet one they accomplished regardless of appearance. The map in his right hand reacted immediately, throwing up diagrams, notes, possible damages, questions, as before. Mapping the ship, checking against the copy from the tablet to differentiate form and function from wear and tear.

He knew it would take some time, so he thought for a moment. Where were the rest of the Gyraci? He thought about what had happened. Oran had talked to someone, the signals from his suit glowing in the air. He remembered another glow, distant but attainable. He projected it to the map. Ah, there, just about the center-top of the ship. That was the source, a room with what looked like consoles and controls. Command room, likely.

He pointed at the room, and a dot in red appeared. He pointed to his own location, and a dot in green. He traced his hand through what looked like the best path to take to that room, and he held the image there for the Gyraci to see.
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PostSubject: Re: Border Colony Crathon   Tue May 07, 2013 12:03 am

Tensions in the bridge were high, at least among the Gyraci. Oran and Llorem stood the side of Olaron, while the rest of the bridge crew stood with the captain, near the front of the bridge. Many of the ship's engineers, as few as they were, stood present as well. Llorem knew his team well enough to know that some opted out, a few from apprehension, a few from dedication to the job, perhaps even working alongside the drones. He wasn't sure about that, but imagined that some day it may be the case.

They stood in silence for a few moments, with those two in particular seeming like outsiders among their own. Oran had already introduced Olaron, and stood awkwardly as he waited for the others to respond. Their issues not unknown to him, for he had experienced the same flood of emotions as they when Olaron first began to communicate, and again when the alien leaped effortlessly up the hull, and one hundred times over as Olaron continued to show to Oran that he was, in fact, alive. Still, the silence seemed endless, perhaps because he had grown strangely familiar with Olaron in the last two hours, though their interaction was relatively little and extremely simple compared to those he had with his fellow Gyraci.

Perhaps Oran was as alien as the Vathari, and that was why he fared so well.

Llorem was undergoing a different mental struggle. A man of opportunity and excitement, he found it frustrating that the others seemed so passive in the face of adventure and discovery. He ultimately became an engineer to feel this way on a regular basis, and the rest of the crew was squandering their chance to become part of a great discovery, to be written down in history and forever immortalized. Yes, it was frightening. Yes, it was a potentially dangerous interaction. But was it not worth it?

It was the captain, once again, who reacted first. Perhaps the others were waiting for him. He removed the frozen gel-pack from his jaw, setting it on a console nearby. He took a few steps forward, crossing the gap, and held out his hand.

And he waited politely like that, for as long as was needed for the machine-being in front of him to respond.
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PostSubject: Re: Border Colony Crathon   Tue May 07, 2013 6:01 am

Olaron found it strange, the reaction of the other Gyraci. Their stillness, passivity. Sure, they had little in the way of language between him and them, but that the other two had understood pointing meant they were similar in some respects. That they knew math and science, the wonders of this universe, was another point of kinship. Was it fear, that made them this way? Or was it something else, authority? That seemed to be the reason, authority from the one they crowded around, Olaron could tell, the being held itself the way a commander did. But still, the others' reactions were disconcerting to him.

The commanding Gyraci put down the cool object it had held to its jaw -was it injured?- and extended its hand to Olaron. Before he had a second thought, he did what came naturally. He took the Gyraci's hand in his own and shook it up and down, making sure to gauge his strength against the Gyraci's own movement.

When the Gyraci let go, he did as well. He pointed at himself.

"Olaron. Vathari." he said. He pointed at Oran "Oran. Gyraci." and then he waved to all the others, whose names he did not know "... Gyraci?"
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