Session 4 2

The wreckage of Tzimitche Station is about what one can expect from a space station that was never expected to be exposed to actual gravity.
A few decks here, processing shaft there - it's a good thing you have a map from the aerial survey.
Ingenue: "…it is broken."
Zinda Tegram: "Metis? Something wrong?"
Spyboy Pearson: "[To be expected.]"
Abraham: "Beyond the station being broken?"
The station was, of course, mostly labs and processing equipment. It had been named off ancient Earth legends of a type of vampire particularly adept at sucking the life out of things - apparently not all people. Tzimitche Station was designed to metaphorically suck interesting ideas from the vast, diverse biosphere this planet offers.
Alexander Morello: "And us being trapped on a planet of carnivorous plants?"
Abraham: "Pretty sure they're omnivorous."
Spyboy Pearson looks over the survey and thinking about the original layout, matching bits and pieces together.
Spyboy Pearson: "Admiral, do you have any idea where your friend would have been when the station got de-orbited?"
Most of this is automated; most of that no longer functions, without connection to the central power plants - which are over thataway. Fusion, of course, and still functioning. Also the densest concentration of movement.
Abraham: "None, sadly."
Spyboy Pearson: "And yeah, they're not carnivorous - no animals developed here, so no plants developed the ability to eat them. What'll happen is they'll kill us and use us for fertilizer."
Spyboy Pearson: "Hmmmm. Well, he was on comms with us, so…."
The bridge - even on an immobile station, Confederation stations call the control center a "bridge" , likely to capture some glory of ships - is about 100 meters beyond, detached from but in sight of the reactors.
Spyboy Pearson flags out the command center.
Spyboy Pearson: "That's the most likely area."
Ingenue triggers active scans. "Still with active power. Curious. There were active fusion reactors in the two bases. The fusion reactors should be secured immediately before they are scavenged by the indigenous lifeforms."
Zinda Tegram: "Should I?"
Abraham: "Yes. If nothing else, we can use them to repair the Roland, or at least get her in space again."
There are also a few hangars here and there; the automation was fed by probes exploring the planet, sampling for things not already classified.
An old practice, dating back to the late 20th century, albeit on a far larger scale than most could dream back then.
Abraham: "Metis, if you can pinpoint the reactors, you can coordinate with Spyboy to get them air lifted back to the Roland. The rest of us will try to figure out what happened and see if we can find anything else useful or important. It's not /impossible/ there are survivors."
[OOC] Ingenue: Any survivors showing up on active scans?
Active scans are muffled, from down here. Too much vegetation - animate and otherwise - blocking signals.
Alexander Morello: "I guess we'll have to do this the old fashioned way…"
Even the sunlight is dimmer…wait, that's not just because of the trees. Suddenly, locally, ambient light dims to nighttime levels.
Abraham continues to search with hand sensors ((not quite the same as when Alex scans with hand sensors)).
ExecutiveOfficer: "SIR! Incoming…ah, just look up!"
Ingenue: "Understoo… decreasing light levels."
Abraham looks up, irritated as he was quite certain he was close to finding something.
Alexander Morello looks up
Zinda Tegram glances up.
Darkening the sky are thousands, possibly millions, of giant flying weeds. Akin to the slithering shooters, but with wings. Rapid-moving glints between them hint of attacks among the cloud; that many of them, here and there, begin falling uncontrolled hints more strongly.
Alexander Morello: "That's… new."
Almost at the same time, the slitherers you can see begin attacking one another and clustering into groups.
Abraham orders in a calm voice "Take cover."
Alexander Morello takes cover, as ordered.
Before long, there is substantial ground-to-air and air-to-ground fire too. You recognize a battlefield when one forms around you.
Abraham obeys himself.
Alexander Morello: "What a strange new world…"
Zinda Tegram takes cover.
Ingenue pauses to study the swarm of flying things. "They are in conflict. Plant-based life seems to have the same initiative to forcibly acquire resources that protein-based life has."
Zinda Tegram: "Abraham, we need to move on those reactors."
Spyboy Pearson: "….for point of reference, plants are just as protein-based as meats, they're just better at making them from scratch."
Abraham: "It got stranger." Abraham picks up one of the dead weeds and shows them the 'wing'. "The leaves are shaped like pinions. It's almost like someone modeled a plant after a bird. A raptor, to be precise."
[OOC] WC GM: Science or related roll. Easier for Abraham.
Abraham: "Yes. Top priority is those reactors. Metis, guide Spyboy to them so he can get them back to the Roland."
Abraham rolled up 4dF: - 0 + + (Base: 5 Total: 6) (SCIENCE!)
Spyboy Pearson: "Do we have any heavy-lift shuttles? Cuz that's what it'll take to move a fusion reactor."
Ingenue transmits the coordinates of the active fusion reactors.
Abraham: "No, damnit! I didn't expect to find the reactors intact."
Spyboy Pearson grimaces
Abraham orders three of the marines. "You three, fly back to the Roland and get two of the heavy shuttles to ferry the reactors back."
Zinda Tegram throws a sensor ball out of her cover to get a sense of the exact layout of the battle.
Marines: "Yes, SIR!" They run off.
Ingenue still looking upwards. "Suggest dispersal of plant-cloud before introducing the limited resource of heavy-transports."
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: EG: Are we being engaged or ignored?
[OOC] Abraham: That's 2 Marines left and 4 Xenobiologists. Unless someone snuffed it without a dramatic soliloquy.
[OOC] Ingenue: I suspect ignored; I don't think the plants were shelling us when we originally landed, they were shelling each other and we landed in between them.
The layout is a massive tangle, though slowly sorting into clusters. You're not sure if you haven't been noticed or if you're being ignored; either way, no fire is yet being aimed at you.
That said, safe paths are identified - basically, stay away from the forming knots/impromptu bases. The heaviest fighting is concentrated around the reactors, though you'll have to approach to seem more details.
Spyboy Pearson: "Thank God that they don't equate animals with threats yet, I'll say that."
Alexander Morello: "I have a feeling that will change sometime soon…"
Abraham: "Why would they? They killed all the animals millenia ago, they probably suspect they can pull that off again."
Zinda Tegram: "I'm gonna make a move here before we start taking fire."
Zinda Tegram takes a deep breath, tightens her grip around her laser cannon, and makes a run for the interior of the station.
Alexander Morello shrugs towards Zinda
[OOC] Abraham: Zinda's going to negotiate with the daisies.
[OOC] WC GM: The nearest interior? That would be one of the lab parts.
Alexander Morello: "I think she'll manage to convince them otherwise."
[OOC] WC GM: Is that your destination?
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: That's fine. I want to work through the interior of the station to the reactors.
[OOC] Spyboy Pearson: Abe: that'd be Spyboy. Zinda just shoots things.
[OOC] WC GM: The reactors are disconnected: you'll have to go "outside" again to get there. But you can get closer through the lab part, yes.
Alexander Morello follows Zinda into the labs.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: That's fine. It's a safer path and, on the way, I can grab the logs from the terminals.
The lab's walls at least offer some protection from incidental fire. Part of this section has been claimed by one of the knots of plants, but they are easily avoided. Several slitherers focus their oculars upon the party, but do not engage yet.
Xenobiologist: "Man, I remember putting in for a transfer here. I wanted to work here in the worst way. I never thought I'd get my wish like this."
Zinda Tegram focuses her oculars right back.
Spyboy Pearson: "Well, now you're working here in the worst way. So….?"
The lights are on - apparently there is emergency power. Batteries, at least.
Alexander Morello activates his radio.
Alexander Morello: "Nikolai, are you there?"
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Any terminals around?
[OOC] WC GM: Several.
Nikolai: "Alexander? Is that you?"
Zinda Tegram stops at one of the terminals and tries to find the research logs.
Alexander Morello: "Nikolai! Yes, it's me. Where are you?"
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Crashed research station and dangerous flora? Do I smell dangerous escaped test subjects?
Nikolai: "Holed up in the bridge. The doors are holding, so far."
[OOC] WC GM: No, it's worse. :P
The research logs are easy to access. They are not even minimally encrypted.
[OOC] Abraham: Dangerous escaped scientists?
[OOC] Spyboy Pearson: For the record I have no problem with the Machine Mother.
Alexander Morello: "We're in the lab section. What happened!?"
Nikolai: "They woke up."
Alexander Morello: "They… woke up? Who? The plants?"
[OOC] Spyboy Pearson: So, are we together or have we split up?
The logs show experiments in cultivating approximations of intelligence in plant life, through the application of high power.
[OOC] WC GM: Together unless you say you've split up.
Nikolai: "Yes. They were supposed to be sedate, not taking initiative. You know, PLANTS."
Alexander Morello: "Until you fiddled with them… Always fiddling with things."
Alexander Morello clenches his mechanical fist
Zinda Tegram frowns, and stores the logs.
Abraham: "Plants have never been sedate. Not on Earth. Not on Nielnieh. Not anywhere. Anyone who thinks so really has no clue what they're seeing."
[OOC] Spyboy Pearson: Well, I believe we were planning on breaking up the party - Spyboy to the reactors, Abraham presumably to the bridge and/or whatever he found curious.
Zinda Tegram: "Do you have any idea what they want with the reactors?"
Abraham: "It's just slightly more pronounced here."
Induced volcanism - smash a few asteroids at very high velocities through the crust, something that would never be approved in a Confederation system but recently there had been much less oversight - yielded access to radioactives, around which crude nuclear steam engines could be built, using the plants as ablative shielding.
[OOC] WC GM: The party was going through the lab section to get closer to those objectives, no?
[OOC] Alexander Morello: That was my impression
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Yeah.
Nikolai: "They're hearts. Each reactor is the core of a new…entity, you'd say. One with many bodies."
Zinda Tegram: "Hearts. Are you fucking with me? Why'd the station deorbit?"
Abraham: "That's what it looked like. Fortunately the reactors were easily pinpointed and destroyed."
Zinda Tegram makes a sound halfway between a growl and a sigh. "Are they sapient?"
Alexander Morello: "So, at the heart of each of the swarms there's a reactor tree?"
The flora had been using toxins for more than just dominance. They had evolved primitive communications - ways of transmitting intent. This was easily enhanced, so that one mind-equivalent could control distant, not-physically-connected parts. The control was not precise, at least at first, but said parts could be designed for enhanced sensitivity.
Nikolai: "We crashed for the same reason you did: jump point displacement. We were safely in orbit until then."
Abraham: "So… just to make sure I understand what happened here. You took the most dangerous, violent, territorial, and poisonous flora in known space… and weaponized it?"
Alexander Morello: "What the hell were you thinking?"
Zinda Tegram: "Can we, uh, 'signal' an intended tit-for-tat cooperation strategy? To deter them from trying to use us?"
Many designs were experimented with - weapons, industrial, many kinds of things difficult to construct using traditional means.
Ingenue: "They were thinking 'data'."
Nikolai: "Of course we weaponized it. Why did you think we were funded?"
Alexander Morello: "Yes, but we have procedures, protocols! This sort of thing isn't supposed to happen!"
Zinda Tegram looks up at the ceiling and closes her eyes.
Zinda Tegram: "You worked R&D Alex?"
Alexander Morello: "Nikolai, how could you be so reckless?"
Some designs were deemed too dangerous to test right away. They were prototyped in the labs, but never released to the surface.
Zinda Tegram: "Nikolai, who funded you?"
Alexander Morello: "Yes, but nothing like this."
Nikolai: "We were orbiting a planet in the middle of nowhere. We never thought they would discover how to MOVE THE ENTIRE PLANET!"
Zinda Tegram thinks for a second, then runs a search on the computer for 'Crest'.
Zinda Tegram: "Right, moving the planet. How'd they do it?"
Abraham: "Of course."
Zinda Tegram: "Actually"
Zinda Tegram: "Don't tell us that."
Zinda Tegram looks straight at Spyboy.
Crest shows up at the top of the funders' list - tied evenly with the Confederation.
Spyboy Pearson: "Don't give me that look, Missy, I've gotten far better at keeping secrets with this thing than, say, a robot who's design is explicitly to gather intelligence and feed it to its progenitor."
Ingenue: "The forces inherent in moving a planet without it losing structural cohesion… that sounded pejorative."
Alexander Morello turns down the volume on the radio so that just he can barely hear it.
Alexander Morello: "How'd they do it?"
Zinda Tegram: "Metis, if you find out how to move planets like these plants do, you need to understand that…Elles can't know that, or it would be…bad."
Nikolai: "They built on top of the original volcano. They enhanced it."
Ingenue: "The data would be classified?"
Nikolai: "They INVENTED. They weren't supposed to be able to invent!"
Abraham: "Highly. To the point that it can not leave this room, assuming this still qualifies as a 'room'."
Alexander Morello: "They converted a volcano into a rocket engine?"
Nikolai: "Basically. We think. We didn't get much of a chance to analyze it."
Zinda Tegram: "Metis, please try not to let the integrated know."
Alexander Morello: "Things have a tendency to do things we don't intend them to."
Zinda Tegram: "How many intelligences are we looking at?"
Alexander Morello turns the radio back up.
Abraham: "They discovered a way to move the planet. The question now is 'why'?"
Spyboy Pearson hmms.
Nikolai: "Millions, possibly billions, assuming each reactor is an intelligence."
[OOC] Ingenue: Hmm. That's a question. Are there any pings on the Neu-comm besides Spyboy/B4/Metis?
Abraham: "Did they move it closer to the sun? More sun equals more sunlight."
Nikolai: "They've found ways to drill deep, and are doing so all over the planet."
Spyboy Pearson reaches out with the neutrino comm, looking for neutrino sources, paying particular attention to those that are modulated.
[OOC] WC GM: Nope.
[OOC] WC GM: Not from the planet, anyway. Distant pings from Armstrong, though.
Alexander Morello: "If we only had a big can of weed killer…"
Zinda Tegram exhales.
Zinda Tegram: "Fuel air bombs."
[OOC] Abraham: So we can't blame this on the Nephilim?
Alexander Morello: "Or that."
[OOC] WC GM: For once, they are blameless.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: Hooray!
Ingenue flags the data appropriately and buries it within the depths of hard storage with all the other really interesting data that no one is allowed to know about.
Zinda Tegram: "No…this still smells like Nephilim."
Nikolai: "We thought they would, but they prefer radioactives."
Alexander Morello: "We can't allow any of this to get off-world. Nikolai, did you include any sort of kill switch?"
Spyboy Pearson: "Sure, but not active. I bet you anything that the scientists used data from White."
Nikolai: "According to our projections, they will drain this planet dry mining it…in a few thousand years. Less, if they find a way to speed up."
Alexander Morello: "That's not quite the time table I was hoping for."
Zinda Tegram digs through the logs to find any notes on the plant signaling system.
Abraham: "Can they survive that? Can they leave the planet and infect another one?"
Zinda Tegram: "They invented rocket engines already."
Alexander Morello: "They managed to move the planet, I think they can figure it out."
Nikolai: "We THINK they can not survive hard vacuum."
Zinda Tegram: "You think."
Zinda Tegram: "What makes this tentative."
Ingenue: "As the plants have demonstrated the capacity for invention, it is likely they will accelerate the timetable. It is also likely that humans cannot survive hard vacuum… before they developed innovation."
Spyboy Pearson: "Duh."
Alexander Morello: "They can survive being nuclear reactors, I think hard vacuum will be an easy adjustment."
Spyboy Pearson gestures out the window.
The plant signaling system is based on pheromones and toxins, with data tightly encoded.
Alexander Morello: "So, a kill switch?"
Nikolai: "Precisely."
Nikolai: "To kill them, we would need to kill the entire biosphere."
Nikolai: "…we did not quite have the funds for that."
Zinda Tegram: "God dammit…everywhere we go it's fucking hole diggers…"
Spyboy Pearson: "I'm sorry, Commander, but what gave you the idea that they were ever in control enough to craft a killswitch?"
Ingenue: "Rapidly enough that they are not capable of adapting."
Zinda Tegram: "Wormholes, mining, housing…"
Spyboy Pearson: "And what made you think that the kill switch would remain intact under the effects of rapid mutation?"
Alexander Morello: "I am completely okay with killing the biosphere. Anyone disagree?"
Abraham: "You already killed this biosphere. We're just putting it out of everyone's misery."
Spyboy Pearson: "Risky."
Zinda Tegram: "Let's try making some conversation first."
Spyboy Pearson: "I'm….*choke* with Tegram on this one."
Ingenue: "…..that would be a tragic loss of data."
Spyboy Pearson: "We try to kill them, they are the enemy, done. Based on the reasonable assumption that destroying a biosystem is very hard, and destroying a biosystem capable of aggressively responding to threats is dangerous."
Spyboy Pearson: "We may as well give peas a chance."
Nikolai: "Umm. The lab section you are in. Which one is it?"
Zinda Tegram snrrks.
Alexander Morello checks the walls for any sort of identification.
Zinda Tegram looks at one of the plant things, and makes eye contact.
Alexander Morello: "I'm not sure we'll be able to 'convince' them not to expand. They need nuclear fuel, and they will eventually run out of it. Then they'll HAVE to leave Tuskegee."
Zinda Tegram: "Well, if we can't, we have fuel air bombs."
Zinda Tegram: "Then, if we can capture their…rocket engine, we can drive the planet into the star."
Alexander Morello: "First we have to get off this damned planet."
The wall is labeled "DESIGN STORAGE" . Nearby is a room with several data chips, which a rather humanoid-looking plant is ambling through, stumbling through the motions of inserting chips into various things - like a large baby being telepathically directed through the basics of using a computer.
[OOC] WC GM: Culture/Tech from Zinda and Ingenue.
Alexander Morello: "We're in design storage, Nikolai."
[OOC] WC GM: Easier for Zinda.
Nikolai's voice goes quiet. "…tell me they're not in there."
Ingenue rolled up 4dF: - - + + (Base: 3 Total: 3) ((Culture/Tech on telepathic plant babies, so old black and white horror movies?))
Zinda Tegram rolled up 4dF: - + - 0 (Base: 2 Total: 1) (Culture Tech)
Alexander Morello: "There's a strange looking plan-man in here, and that's it."
[OOC] Ingenue: Oh! This is just like Revenge of the Killer Space Foliage!
Zinda Tegram: "Fuck, they're trying to get computer access."
Zinda Tegram dumps all the data she has access to and sets the computer to wipe.
Spyboy Pearson: "If they can use computers, they can speak. Doesn't mean this one can, though."
Spyboy Pearson: "Well. They can understand, anyway."
Spyboy Pearson logs into the computer remotely. And agressively.
Zinda Tegram waves a hand in front of the plant-person.
Ingenue watches the plant-person intently.
The data is piping to a set of 3D printers, which the plant-person is stumbling toward.
Zinda Tegram: "It resembles you, Metis."
The data feeds are easily shut down, but the printers are already extruding…those designs look dangerous.
Zinda Tegram: "Nikolai, they're using the 3D printers."
Nikolai: "STOP THEM!!!"
Spyboy Pearson aborts the run.
Ingenue: "It does, though with significantly more chlorophyll."
Spyboy Pearson shoots the objects coming out of the printers a good half-dozen times.
Alexander Morello reaches out to grab the plant-man with his mechanical arm and activates thermal sterilization protocols.
Zinda Tegram cuts the printstock feed-spout.
Abraham takes one of the half-printed objects and studies it.
The data gatherer, and gathering, is quickly stopped.
Spyboy Pearson taps into Metis's array to see what he can about the control mechanisms behind the creature.
Ingenue: "But now we will not see what it was producing!"
Zinda Tegram checks print-queue.
Abraham finds what looks like an elephant with long, curved, sharp tusks as long as it is - in miniature, but easily copied. These were prototypes - templates.
Spyboy Pearson: "….Check the logs, Metis."
Ingenue: "Stored data accessed via log is not the same as data gathered via direct observation."
Abraham: "I'm guessing more plants. What were those printers filled with, Nikolai?"
Nikolai: "Designs we thought too dangerous, and too impractical, to release onto the planet."
Alexander Morello: "But giant walking nuclear reactors were perfectly fine….?"
Zinda Tegram: "Well, they have dedicated data-gathering drones."
Zinda Tegram: "Screw it, let's just synthesize a conversation."
Zinda finds more of the same. Something to infest and take over uncontrolled biologicals here, more types of fliers there…
Nikolai: "Err - say what?"
Nikolai: "We never designed data gatherers."
Ingenue: "You did not designate innovators or inventors, did you? Yet they are here."
Alexander Morello: "We should destroy this section to make sure it stays out of their hands."
Zinda Tegram starts working out how to broadcast "You Attack, We retaliate, You help, we help so long as not against our interests." over pheromones.
Abraham: "Absolutely. I say this with intense regret, you have no idea how many forms I'll have to fill out over this, but it has to be done."
Alexander Morello: "Are the fighters still up?"
The pheromones seem to be more for master-slave communications. "Attack here," for instance. Not so much for communication with other intellects.
[OOC] Abraham: "Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do…"
[OOC] WC GM: Spyboy: Communications check.
Zinda Tegram maintains the broadcast anyways. Maybe being broadcasters will earn us some degree of consideration.
Spyboy Pearson rolled up 4dF: 0 - - 0 (Base: 5 Total: 3) (Communications)
[OOC] WC GM: Zinda: Culture/Tech
[OOC] Spyboy Pearson: Ooof. Tap /Information first principle of warfare/ for reroll?
Zinda Tegram rolled up 4dF: + + - - (Base: 2 Total: 2) (Culture/Tech)
Spyboy Pearson rolled up 4dF: 0 + 0 - (Base: 5 Total: 5) (Communications)
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: I'm missing something baaaadly here. : D
Zinda is not sure whether the pheromones are even being noticed.
[OOC] Abraham: Zinda, stop using Eau de Salad and try actual pheromones.
Spyboy Pearson: "Uh."
Spyboy Pearson: "I think they're making a Metis."
Zinda Tegram: "They already made that."
Zinda Tegram: "Also, why Metis?"
[OOC] Ingenue: ..that should be /obvious/.
[OOC] Abraham: Even plants need a mascot?
Now that Spyboy mentions it - yes, there does seem to be some sort of construction going on behind the slitherers, who seem to be arrayed in a defensive wall.
Zinda Tegram: "So, Nikolai, say we assume they're sapient. How would one address the core of the hivemind?"
[OOC] Abraham: lim.eroc|dnimevih#lim.eroc|dnimevih
Nikolai: "…that is a good question. I'm not sure they would understand any human language."
Spyboy Pearson: "And yet they were able to access a computer and fab up some designs."
Zinda Tegram: "They don't seem to be responding to pheromone broadcasts."
Abraham: "Who made those computers then?"
Nikolai: "I feared they would find a way."
Spyboy Pearson: "Yeah, pheromones are a terrible means of controlling a hive."
Ingenue: "Binary."
Even as Abraham asks, the answer is apparent: these are standard Terran Confederation milspec computers.
Spyboy Pearson: "They only propagate at the speed of a gas-in-another-gas, unlike light, which propagates at light, or electromagnetic forces, which same."
Zinda Tegram: "Metis, how's your sense of smell?"
Ingenue: "This frame is equipped with a range of sensors to analyze particulates collected from the atmosphere."
Spyboy Pearson has already started copying the files to his own (heavily encrypted) personal computer and shredding the ones remaining in the database.
[OOC] Ingenue: So, how good is Metis' sense of smell? Alertness 6 + sensors == can detect pheromones?
[OOC] WC GM: Sure.
Zinda Tegram: "Could you start, uh, to try to 'interpret' any pheromones being sent?"
Ingenue: "That would require shifting processor time from analysis of the Nephilim languages. Is this acceptable?"
Zinda Tegram: "Uh…well, after we're done here shifting it back would be nice, but yes."
Spyboy Pearson: "But if that's not it…."
Zinda Tegram: "Your processor time is your own, you know."
Spyboy Pearson steps forward, looking at the humanoid plant.
Zinda Tegram: "You don't need me to tell you how to think. I appreciate the consideration however."
Spyboy Pearson: "Hello?"
Spyboy Pearson: "[Metis, is your data bridge up?]"
Ingenue reallocates additional processor time to air analytics and gathers data from the pheromones. ((Which would probably me a maneuver…))
Ingenue: "[It is not; filtering, collating, and transferring information from sensors into a method transmittable over the neutrino communicator requires a majority of my processing ability.]"
Spyboy Pearson: "[Understood.]"
Spyboy Pearson: "[Can you run a passive filter, scanning for any signs of modulation, without hindering Zinda's request too much?]"
Spyboy Pearson: "[I have the same search running on my personal computer but you've got far better sensors than it.]"
The construction concludes, and another plant-Metis begins to stumble around, finding its footing.
Spyboy Pearson: "Hmm. Well, I can see why they'd duplicate Metis in particular."
Spyboy Pearson: "She's not an anima…animal…"
Spyboy Pearson: "Oh, crap."
Abraham: "The question is, how did they even know about her?"
Ingenue rolled up 4dF: + 0 + 0 (Base: 6 Total: 8) ((Alertness for gathering pheromone data))
Zinda Tegram: "That's what I want to know."
Alexander Morello attempts to grab and burn the second plant-Metis.
Zinda Tegram: "Don't kill it yet!"
Spyboy Pearson: "Eh, any reasonable - hey!"
Spyboy Pearson: "Commander, try not to be stupid."
Ingenue: "Information about my systems seems to be prevalent in multiple situations. Yes, please don't burn other me!"
The second plant-Metis is behind a wall of slitherers, who gather up and tense up at Alexander's approach.
Alexander Morello steps back.
Spyboy Pearson: "How are we supposed to talk to them if we keep killing the things capable of talking?"
Alexander Morello: "I think we could probably pick a better place to have a dialogue rather than in the location that we most need to exclude them from."
Ingenue: "….yes, also that."
Zinda Tegram: "We already wiped the computers and gut the 3D printers."
Ingenue: "Pheromones source has shifted; primary source was outside the wreckage of the station. Primary source is now… other me."
Spyboy Pearson: "….Local brain?"
Spyboy Pearson: "Hello over there!"
Zinda Tegram: "Great, they're downsizing."
Ingenue: "Potentially. However, this frame is not equipped with pheromone generators. I can analyze, but not reply."
Zinda Tegram: "Are they radioactive?"
Abraham: "FedCom regulations prevent any 3D printed object from being innately radioactive."
The plant-Ingenue works its mouth, obviously unfamiliar, and squeaks.
Abraham: "It's also fairly obvious that FedCom regulations are a vague concept here. Are they radioactive Nicolai?"
Zinda Tegram nods. "Make that motion if you can understand us."
Ingenue: "I do not think these plants are adhering to FedCom regulations."
Nikolai: "Are what radioactive?"
Nikolai: "We had no radioactives on the station, if that's what you mean."
Alexander Morello: "The plants. You said only the nuclear powered ones were the 'thinkers'."
Nikolai: "They are! Why?"
Zinda Tegram: "The data gathering specimens. It's putting out pheromones, we want to know if it's a thinker."
Alexander Morello: "What about the smaller 'thinkers'?"
Plant-Ingenue speaks in Ingenue's voice. "The plants." Then in Alexander's. "The plants."
Nikolai: "Smaller what?"
Spyboy Pearson: "Those."
Alexander Morello: "Well.. that's eerie."
Nikolai: "I am only receiving voice communications. What?"
Abraham: "Good ear though."
Alexander Morello: "There is a small bipedal plant here that's outputting pheromones as well as… well, talking."
Spyboy Pearson: "Yeah, that whole 'the plants' thing was not our people."
PlantIngenueInAlexanderVoice: "That's eerie."
[OOC] Alexander Morello: I knew I misspelled that…
[OOC] Abraham: Shit! The plant Nue has a spellchecker!
[OOC] Ingenue: So does metal nue. Rilly!
Ingenue: "Residual imitation. A process used by children to mimic an adult's speech to lay neural paths to allow for true communication. Fascinating."
PlantIngenueInSpyboyVoice: "Not our people."
Zinda Tegram: "You learn fast, other Metis."
Alexander Morello: "Perhaps we should implement some sort of security protocols… "
Zinda Tegram: "Don't know if you can understand me yet."
Plant-Ingenue begins to walk away, the slitherers forming a cordon around it.
Spyboy Pearson: "Let's not call it that, yes? Could be confusing. I say we call it Speaker."
Zinda Tegram: "Speaker is a decent name."
PlantIngenueInZindaVoice: "Learn fast."
Spyboy Pearson: "…And now I'm getting seriously worried."
Spyboy Pearson: "I'm with Alexander on the security protocol thing."
Spyboy Pearson: "Admiral, you care to implement that with the Roland?"
Zinda Tegram steps toward Speaker to test the reaction of the Slithereens.
The defensive wall once again bunches up where Zinda approaches.
Abraham: "Yeah. Once there is a Roland that is not scattered over six miles."
Zinda Tegram: "You leave now, Speaker, bad things might happen to this planet."
Zinda Tegram: "We'd like to talk with you."
Ingenue: "Please. Stay."
Alexander Morello: "We should still implement it crew-wide."
Speaker and its wall stop for a moment.
Ingenue turns, looking outside the station. "There is incoming pheromone-based data from outside. Quantity: Large."
Alexander Morello: "Oh no…"
Speaker: "#Hello hello can you understand me no wait AIIIIIEGH!#"
Speaker and its companions resume moving out.
Zinda Tegram: "We can understand you. Let us walk with you."
Abraham: "I think she's being 'ordered' to leave."
Spyboy Pearson: "Was that Kilrathi?"
Ingenue: "Rapid assimilation of kilrathi language…"
Ingenue: "They are at the Roland."
Zinda Tegram: "How do you know?"
Abraham: "There's a lot of Kilrathi lore going on here."
Alexander Morello: "I knew those Kilrathi xenobiologists had something to do with this."
Zinda Tegram attempts to follow Speaker.
Ingenue: "Because I suspect that what we heard was mimicry of what the Kilrathi xenobiologists just said."
Zinda Tegram: "Interesting."
Spyboy Pearson: "That sounds probable."
Abraham: "Most likely."
Spyboy Pearson bites his lip.
Zinda Tegram: "Let's get back to the roland, for now."
Ingenue: "Which results in a 94% probability that the Kilrathi xenobiologists are in danger and/or 'deactivated'."
Abraham pulls out his com. "Abraham to Roland, what is your status? Roland, respond."
Alexander Morello radios the Kilrathi xenobiologists
ExecutiveOfficer: "We're all fine here, sir. What's up?"
KilrathiXenobiologist: "Can I help you?"
Alexander Morello: "This is Dr. Morello, everything okay over there, lab section?"
KilrathiXenobiologist: "Yes, yes, everything's fine. We just got comms restored."
Ingenue: "Contact the transports."
KilrathiXenobiologist: "Have you found our friends on the station? Did they survive the crash?"
Spyboy Pearson: "…..I'm gonna put that as a definite 'for a bit.'"
Alexander Morello: "Okay, keep us posted of any developments. If you encounter any small bipedal plants, monitor them closely and keep them away from anything dangerous, but do not harm them unless absolutely necessary."
Speaker and its companions exit the lab section, making their way through the battlefield.
KilrathiXenobiologist: "Understood."
Zinda Tegram: "Also keep them away from any computers."
Zinda Tegram: "Any."
Abraham: "The plants have achieved full-blown sentience. You can expect strategy and tactics from them. Be alert for attempts at deception in their next attacks. Thought you should get that information immediately. Abraham out."
KilrathiXenobiologist: "I'll relay that to security."
Abraham put his com away. "Well, at least now they won't be too surprised when the plants try more sophisticated tactics."
Zinda Tegram: "So, Speaker, where are you going?"
[OOC] Alexander Morello: BRB
Zinda Tegram: "I'm tempted to follow that one."
Speaker is almost out of ear shot, and does not seem to be responding.
Zinda Tegram: "Well, let's get down to the reactor core."
Zinda Tegram: "Shall we?"
[OOC] Ingenue: …are there any new pings on the neutrino communicator?
[OOC] WC GM: Nope.
[OOC] Ingenue: Then that, at least, is safe for now…
Ingenue: "…yes."
Zinda Tegram starts to work through the battlefield towards the reactor.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: back
Alexander Morello: "What about Nikolai? We should get him out of the bridge and somewhere safe."
Zinda Tegram: "On the way back. It's pretty close to our landing site."
Zinda Tegram: "Speaking of which."
The fighting is fiercest around the reactor. What are probably early-stage tree-fortresses try to grow around it; at least four are attempting, and judging by the parts that keep falling off, they are mutually poisoning one another.
Abraham pulls out his com again. "Abraham to Marines. What is your ETA with the shuttles?"
Zinda Tegram checks the remote sensors of the Sterne Lanze.
Marine: "Shuttles ready, but we can't safely fly into that contested airspace, sir!"
The Sterne Lanze reports all quiet in the hangar.
Abraham: "All right. Hold position and monitor. If you see a chance, take it."
Alexander Morello: "I'm not sure how stealing a reactor would impact our 'peace efforts'."
Zinda Tegram: "Neither am I."
Abraham: "Marines are ready, but they are understandably leery of flying into contested airspace."
Zinda Tegram looks around at the slithereens fighting.
[OOC] WC GM: Anything in particular you're looking for?
[OOC] Alexander Morello: She's just appreciating their grace and beauty
[OOC] Abraham: Slithereens. She found them.
It is apparent that forces are pouring in from elsewhere. The four competing trees - looking close, it may well be four distinct forces fighting, each trying to secure the reactor for its own tree. Though…the reactor does not look quite standard issue.
[OOC] Ingenue: Assessing how likely they are to eat us? Or how'd they taste with some ranch dressing and croutons?
[OOC] Abraham: Assessing what differentiates these reactors from standard issue? Other than plants fighting over it is rarely standard issue.
One of the research notes mentioned how ranch dressing was a useful kill switch early on, but the plants developed and spread an immunity to it.
[OOC] Ingenue: And there is our solution: Nuclear Ranch Dressing.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: Genius!
[OOC] Abraham: I'd taste it.
The reactor seems…adapted? A bit more primitive? It's hard to tell without a detailed examination, but something seems off.
Alexander Morello: "Nikolai, anything you'd care to tell us about the reactor? It doesn't look standard issue."
Abraham: "Anyone got a good enough look at that reactor to tell me why it seems 'off' to me?"
Nikolai: "The reactor? Hmm…oh, right! They modified the reactor a while ago, to run early tests of adapting the plants around reactors. I guess those modifications are still in place?"
Abraham finds his hand of its own accord slapping his forehead.
Nikolai: "Which explains why they think they can make use of it, I guess."
Alexander Morello: "Have you just gone completely insane without me?"
Nikolai: "That wasn't me! I was just cataloging when they did it."
[OOC] Abraham: Alex, I think it's time you gave back Nikolai his common sense.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: Yeah…
Nikolai: "It's like why they could use the printers."
[OOC] Abraham: I mean, it was funny for a while, but seriously.
Zinda Tegram frowns.
Zinda Tegram: "We need to clear the airspace right?"
Zinda Tegram: "What if we…"
Abraham: "Yeah?"
[OOC] WC GM: And now you see where the plot comes out.
Zinda Tegram: "What if we flood the entire nose-space with just, 'stop' signals. Jamming, as it were."
Alexander Morello: "You rebuilt the entire station to be more accessible to the plants, and then were surprised when they took it over?"
Abraham: "That could work. Do we know the 'stop' signal?"
Nikolai: "We were in orbit."
Alexander Morello: "Still."
Zinda Tegram: "I saw when I was going over the encodings earlier."
Alexander Morello: "That's even more reason to be careful."
Nikolai: "No, seriously. We kept a long distance from them, as our safety."
Alexander Morello: "Doooooesn't look like it worked."
Abraham: "I think they 'moved the goal posts'."
[OOC] WC GM: So, going to try to emulate the pheromones recorded earlier? You don't have 'stop', but you do have 'defend' - you think. You'll also need a way of manufacturing large quantities.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Hmm. One of the other labs?
[OOC] Abraham: If only we had 3D printers configured to make plant stuff.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: If only we hadn't blasted the 3D printers configured to make plant stuff.
[OOC] Ingenue: But where will we find those?
[OOC] WC GM: Like the ones you just destroyed. There are other lab sections around, but Nikolai suggested the one you were in was the one optimized for that.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: Well, it was a good idea at the time.
[OOC] Ingenue: Look, it can't be too hard. They're just molecules, right? What could possibly go wrong?
[OOC] Abraham: You know what is also molecules? Batman!
[OOC] Alexander Morello: Guys… I think that *I* might be molecules.
[OOC] Spyboy Pearson: Ohhhh noooo
[OOC] Ingenue: Well heck, that means we can repurpose the doctor as a pheromone printer! This Plan Cannot Fail!
[OOC] Alexander Morello: Which means that I am made of chemicals… which means that all over the nation mothers hate me for no reason
[OOC] Abraham: We will remember your sacrifice.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: What if we…infected one of us.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: There were plans for an infected biologicals right?
[OOC] Ingenue: We will put it on youtube, where it will go viral and you will make millions, posthumously.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: Sounds like a fun time.
[OOC] Abraham: Well that would be The Last of Us.
[OOC] WC GM: So! What are you doing?
[OOC] Alexander Morello: Awkwardly standing in a circle in the middle of a battle of the plants, it seems
Abraham: "Nikolai, can you take us to any other 3D printers?"
Alexander Morello: "First we have to rescue him."
Nikolai: "What do you need 3D printers for?"
Abraham: "We are going to try to flood the air with a 'stop' hormone command."
[OOC] WC GM: That said - Engineering check.
[OOC] Abraham: Specifically engineering?
[OOC] Ingenue: From anyone or someone specific?
[OOC] WC GM: From anyone. This is re: how you're going to make the hormones; if you can justify another skill - but this is, e.g., more Engineering than Science.
[OOC] Abraham: Because my engineering is practically nonexistent.
[OOC] Abraham: Okay then.
Ingenue rolled up 4dF: - 0 + + (Base: 4 Total: 5) ((Engineering to think about how to create the pheromones))
Abraham rolled up 4dF: 0 0 0 + (Base: 1 Total: 2) (Engineering because of course you can use a phillips head screwdriver to tighten a flathead screw.)
[OOC] Abraham: That's more than twice what I expected to get.
Alexander Morello rolled up 4dF: 0 - - 0 (Base: 3 Total: 1) ((Engineering! It's like science, but dirty!))
[OOC] Abraham: I sincerely hope 'Nue got a high enough roll to save our butts.
Something in the backs of Abraham's and Alexander's minds says something is off about the request, but what…?
[OOC] Abraham: Of course. We're trying to make the 'Stop' hormone, but totally forgot about the 'hammertime' one.
Ingenue: "Analysis of the 3d printers indicates they are… inefficient in mass-production of biological material. Such development normally happens in bio-vats, which are designed to produce biological material."
Zinda Tegram: "So, where would those be?"
Nikolai: "…yeah. You want the vats. Umm…hold on…they were far side of the reactor from the design section, sooo…probably on the other side of the reactor from where you are?"
Ingenue points in the most likely direction, given observation of station schematics and dispersal rate of orbital drop. "Over there."
Nikolai: "I don't think the parts got jumbled around upon crashing. Just displaced."
Alexander Morello: "Nikolai, do you think you could meet us there?"
Nikolai: "Negative!"
Nikolai: "One of their bases is right at the exit to the bridge. I think they're using it as a secure back side. If I stepped out into that…"
Abraham: "Right. Best not to do that."
Alexander Morello: "Yeah."
Alexander Morello: "We'll see what we can do about rescuing you."
[OOC] Abraham: "We'll see what we can do about confiscating your chemistry set."
[OOC] Alexander Morello: SHHH!!! That's implied.
[OOC] Ingenue: Isn't that a lot like closing the barn door after the horses have conquered the world?
Abraham: "All right, we have a destination. Let's get to those printers."
[OOC] Alexander Morello: Yeah, but if they've screwed up this much, imagine what else they can bollocks up?
[OOC] Ingenue: My Little Death Blossom?
[OOC] Abraham: Besides, confiscating barn doors in that situation won't help much.
[OOC] WC GM: Friendship Is Mind Control
[OOC] WC GM: So - this is a more dangerous part of the battlefield. You can not simply walk around it. How do you proceed?
[OOC] Ingenue: Straight down the middle…
[OOC] Spyboy Pearson: Artillery fire
[OOC] Alexander Morello: Nonchalantly.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Warning shots?
[OOC] Abraham: We are ninja. We walks between the raindrops. And the exploding seed grenades.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Just head out there, return fire when we take it?
[OOC] Ingenue: Remote control the Stern Lanze into a strafing run, it'd be like sending a single wraith against an army of spore colonies…
[OOC] Abraham: Alternatively we could play the ghostbusters theme and strut the way they do in the intro to the cartoon show.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: As long as we don't turn to look at the explosion we should be cool.
[OOC] WC GM: Most of the fire is addressed to "Occupant", not to you.
[OOC] WC GM: Alternately - we're getting close to time. Cut here, and address that challenge next time?
[OOC] Ingenue: Oh, then we just mark it 'return to sender', and its all fine.
[OOC] Abraham: And yeah, probably best to cut here.

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