Session 4 4

While the battle is over, gunfire continues. The marines are taking to cleaning out the remaining motionless plant-creatures with gusto.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: If they ARE the trees, can they still come out of the trees, man, come out of the trees?
The party, meanwhile, evacuates back to the Roland, along with the salvaged reactor - which at least provides more power, but that power is not connected to anything yet.
[OOC] WC GM: The trees themselves don't seem to be mobile. Whatever you want to call the mobile plants, they are not themselves the trees.
[OOC] WC GM: Aside from how the trees rapidly grow at times.
[OOC] Ingenue: Does it need to be? I thought the power situation for the Roland was 'tolerable for now'.
[OOC] WC GM: Quite. So, you have more power - but you aren't using the excess for anything yet.
[OOC] Abraham: True, but leaving a live reactor lying around in reach of immature plants is careless.
[OOC] WC GM: They might argue that they use the reactor to get to maturity.
[OOC] WC GM: But that gets into the definition of "maturity".
[OOC] Alexander Morello: One man's maturity is another plant's taking over the galaxy
[OOC] WC GM: Anyway! You wished to interrogate Nikolai, yes?
Abraham: "Okay, options people. Obviously we need to get off the planet. Can we broadcast out an SOS?"
[OOC] Alexander Morello: I think he'd prefer we 'debrief' him
Alexander Morello: "Are any of the other Admirals in range?"
Nikolai: "The station's SOS should have reached Armstrong by now. But I doubt they can do much about it."
Spyboy Pearson: "Easily, but it'll take weeks to get the crew off-planet."
Zinda Tegram: "Even if we get off, the place needs to get glassed."
Alexander Morello: "I agree with Zinda. This entire planet is a biohazard."
Spyboy Pearson: "….I'm leery of genocide except as a last resort."
Nikolai: "You have seen their fliers. You have not yet seen their larger ordinance."
Ingenue: "…but its so interesting!"
Alexander Morello: "Larger ordinance?"
Abraham: "The planet has always been a biohazard. But now it's a sentient biohazard and that changes things."
Zinda's eyes swivel in their sockets to focus on Nikolai.
Nikolai: "A sentient, heavily armed biohazard."
Zinda Tegram: "That adapts quickly."
Nikolai: "Did I mention the engines?"
Zinda Tegram: "Engines?"
Alexander Morello: "Is it sentient or just reactive?"
Zinda Tegram: "You mean the giant volcano thruster?"
Nikolai nods.
Spyboy Pearson: "And is 'it' sentient or are 'they' sentient?"
Nikolai: "Very much 'they'."
Zinda Tegram: "How do they communicate with each other?"
Ingenue: "Via pheromones."
Abraham: "Seriously? Isn't that an extremely slow means of communication?"
Nikolai: "So far, yes. But I fear that is about to change."
Spyboy Pearson: "Amazingly slow."
Alexander Morello: "What do you mean, Nikolai?"
Nikolai: "If there's one thing they do well, it is adapt."
Nikolai: "We all heard their speaker."
Nikolai: "Now that they have language, it is only a matter of time before it spreads."
Zinda Tegram: "So, what do you know about the engine?"
[OOC] Abraham: "It runs hot."
[OOC] Ingenue: It gave the Roland an owie?
Nikolai: "Not as much as I wish. It is how the planet got to the jump point, obviously."
Zinda Tegram: "Do you know how it gets defended?"
Nikolai: "Heavily."
Alexander Morello: "Or how it manages to move an entire planet? Volcanos generally aren't… well, very effective thrusters."
Nikolai: "There are entire clans - such as the plants have them - dedicated to the defense, maintenance, and operation."
Alexander Morello: "The atmosphere tends to get in the way."
Nikolai: "They have…enhanced it, somehow. My colleagues suspected they've turned it into a fusion engine, based upon the output."
Zinda Tegram: "I see. I was thinking we might capture it and drive the whole planet into the sun somehow."
Nikolai: "That would certainly be one solution!"
Abraham: "There's also the fact that using… magma… for thrust means venting planetary mass. So the planet is loosing mass every time they change direction with no meaningful way to 'refuel'."
Nikolai nods. "And THAT is worrisome."
Zinda Tegram: "Interesting point. Could we drain the planet of, uh, 'fuel' by making our own volcano?"
Nikolai: "We can not help but suspect the plants know this, somehow. Are aware of it on some level: that the planet itself needs to feed."
Abraham: "How do they avoid seismic activity every time they trigger an erruption?"
Nikolai: "They don't."
Zinda Tegram: "I didn't plan to use it here, but…well, I did buy something off of badger that may be applicable."
Zinda Tegram closes her eyes.
Alexander Morello: "Do they plants have any spaceflight capabilities? We could scout the volcano from orbit using a fighter."
Nikolai: "Other than the planet itself? No. But they have anti-space capabilities. That ordinance I mentioned."
Zinda Tegram frowns a bit. "Hey, how much small is this planet than…" Zinda looks at spyboy. "Nevermind."
Abraham: "That's a worrying thought. Last thing we wan to do is 'glass' the planet and find out some spores escaped to infect another planet."
Nikolai: "They practiced by shooting down the supply ships."
Nikolai: "Suffice it to say, gain enough altitude and you are…prey."
Zinda Tegram: "Where's the ordinance stationed?"
Nikolai: "All over."
Spyboy Pearson: "Than what, Lagos Prime?"
Alexander Morello: "I think that if Zinda can outfly Nephilim and Oldziey fighters, she can probably outfly even sentient plants."
Nikolai: "Ironically, how you arrived on planet might have been the ONLY safe way to get to the surface. Well. Safe-ish."
Abraham: "Is that your medical opinion, doctor?"
Zinda Tegram: "Really now? The clans compete right?"
Alexander Morello: "No, but it's my opinion of Zinda as a pilot."
Nikolai: "They compete, yes. But they unify quickly when presented with an external threat."
Nikolai smirks. "Much like humans. Or kilrathi, I suppose."
Zinda Tegram: "I see. Well, what if we expressed ourselves as only a threat to…certain ones."
Nikolai: "That is why the entire planet has not descended on you yet. You are as yet only known to certain of them."
Alexander Morello: "Because of the slowness of pheromones?"
Abraham: "And only one 'clan' has language?"
Alexander Morello: "But once they develop language…"
Nikolai: "Also because you were not observed."
Zinda Tegram: "Observed how?"
Nikolai: "Landing."
Zinda Tegram: "Ah, because they rammed us."
Nikolai: "The jump point can be somewhat flashy, no?"
Spyboy Pearson: "No, language won't speed things up."
Nikolai: "It blinded most of their sensors, briefly."
Spyboy Pearson: "Or it may, but only if we start acting as a threat."
Spyboy Pearson: "Keep in mind they were fighting each other more than us, back at the reactor landing site."
Zinda Tegram: "So, we need to act quickly."
Spyboy Pearson: "Or intelligently."
Ingenue: "They are exclusive?"
Spyboy Pearson: "Once they've acquired language, they can be negotiated with. That is, right now, the extent of our knowledge."
Spyboy Pearson: "They may not be able to be negotiated with in good faith, but right now our decision upon encountering a new sentient race is WIPE THEM FROM THE COSMOS!"
Nikolai: "You have at least a week before we reach Armstrong, unless they enhance the engine further."
Alexander Morello: "Well, we don't really have a good track record with meeting new species, do we?"
Spyboy Pearson: "And that attitude is what caused the destruction of the Kilrathi."
Alexander Morello: "I think these plants are probably a different case."
Zinda Tegram: "I, uh, sort of bought a *really* high yield matter/antimatter bomb off of badger. What if it got deployed in their engine's…'exhaust port' I guess."
Nikolai: "The kilrathi who, might I add, are largely responsible for the uplift of these plants. I do not suspect my colleagues of intentional, deliberate vengeance, but I can not put it beyond possibility that this may have been at the back of their minds."
Alexander Morello: "I had a feeling. They seem a bit too good at treating plant induced injuries…"
Zinda Tegram: "Well, wait. We said they had no way of changing course?"
Nikolai: "They have an engine. Of course they can change course. But they have no interest in doing so."
Zinda Tegram: "I see. Well, we don't have the resources to glass from orbit…Most of them don't know about us yet, supposedly…"
Zinda Tegram: "Spyboy? What do you think our shot of taking out the engine is?"
Spyboy Pearson: "Assuming we can get the bomb deep enough, hard to say - not sure how good their antiair is but it's supposedly very good."
Spyboy Pearson: "But I want to go absolutely on the record as saying that is a TERRIBLE idea."
Zinda Tegram: "Well, what would you do?"
Spyboy Pearson: "We don't want to avert the possibility of Tunguska infecting Armstrong by destroying Armstrong, too."
Abraham: "Without a way to get off planet it is an extraordinarily terrible idea."
Spyboy Pearson: "We are apparently on a course for Armstrong. If we destroy the engines, well - we stay on a course for Armstrong."
Zinda Tegram: "Need to turn, first then."
Spyboy Pearson: "Without any means of slowing for a rendezvous - well, we smack into Armstrong at interplanetary velocities."
Abraham: "Seeing as how the planet hasn't iced over yet, I think we're still in the sun's gravity well."
Alexander Morello: "We need to scout this engine so we can figure out how it works."
Spyboy Pearson: "More information is never a bad thing."
Zinda Tegram: "Would be good to try and open up some lines of communication at least."
Nikolai: "Planetary icing does not happen that fast. Still, that is worrisome. This planet has been further from the sun than it usually is, yet it shows no sign of cooling. I suspect the plants in the trees."
Spyboy Pearson: "Indeed."
Nikolai frowns. "Ah, I mean the reactors in the trees."
Ingenue: "How many reactors do they have?"
Abraham: "One less than they would have."
Nikolai: "Many."
Ingenue: "Is the quantity expressed in tens, hundreds, thousands, or more?"
Nikolai: "They have been drilling for radioactives. In essence, the nuclear plants can breed."
Nikolai: "What is the typical population, in cities, of a standard homeworld?"
[OOC] Ingenue: This feels a little Star Control-ey, but can we scan for radioactives?
[OOC] WC GM: It is possible to scan for certain wavelengths of radiation. Of course, in Star Control you were scanning from orbit.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: I think if we're not going to fight them, the only other real option is to talk to them.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: I agree. Although it will be hard to convince them to change course…
[OOC] Ingenue: Just cause we're not going to fight doesn't mean we parlay on their terms. Gather intel, find the best places to strike, give them a chance to see reason aka Do What We Say, then eliminate them if necessary.
[OOC] WC GM: It'd be easier to scan for concentrations of infrared - the equivalent of the Star Control bioscan. Again, though: lack of access to orbit.
[OOC] Ingenue: Does the Roland have anything equivalent to a probe?
[OOC] Ingenue: Also, hasn't google mapped this planet yet?
[OOC] WC GM: You mean like small, fighter-sized spacecraft?
[OOC] Alexander Morello: Or could we launch a fighter without drawing too much fire?
[OOC] Ingenue: Actually, I was hoping for something smaller.
[OOC] WC GM: Like the one Zinda used to successfully recon at low altitude?
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: A fighter? xD
[OOC] WC GM: Ah, like missiles equipped with sensors? That's easy to rig up as needed.
[OOC] WC GM: Limited lifespan, though.
Zinda Tegram: "Nikolai, could you talk to them?"
Abraham: "Way I see it, we have three choices. A) Blow up the planet, preferably from /off/ the planet. B) Open a line of communication, establish a dialogue and totally ignore standard FedCom First Contact protocols. C) Die horribly and let things proceed without us. I making an executive decision of Not-C."
[OOC] WC GM: Also: there is a map of the planet available. You have reason to believe the map is no longer accurate with regard to fine details.
Nikolai: "If it is safe, although I suspect you would have far better success."
Zinda Tegram: "Well, do you have any easy way to manufacture the pheromones?"
Nikolai: "The vats. They should be salvageable - if we knew which pheromones to use."
Nikolai: "Each 'clan' develops a different encoding. It's like cryptography, so a different clan can not take control."
Zinda Tegram: "Is there any, uh, 'public' encoding?"
Alexander Morello: "The clans need to have some sort of language they use to talk to each other, right?"
Nikolai: "Probably. Given how rapidly innovations spread, we doubt it was entirely observation and mimicry."
Zinda Tegram: "Well, let's just start broadcasting on that."
Zinda Tegram: "So, then, we need a way to listen."
Zinda Tegram pulls up the data dumps salvaged from the station.
Zinda Tegram: "We can't just make Metis do it…"
Spyboy Pearson hooks up his computer and starts running an aggressive search.
Alexander Morello: "We could ask…"
Zinda Tegram raises an eyebrow.
Zinda Tegram: "And how would you suggest we do that?"
Alexander Morello: "She has olfactory sensors, right?"
Zinda Tegram: "Yeah, but running the search takes…Well, Metis, you tell him."
[OOC] WC GM: What are you looking for in the data dumps?
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Maybe something like
Alexander Morello: "I mean, there would be a lot of smells to sift through, but we could try to narrow things down a bit by getting… uh… getting in the middle of a large group of plants."
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Want to talk;Not yet adapted to pheromones?
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: That should parse to them right?
[OOC] Spyboy Pearson: I dunno. Pheromone coding algorithms, I guess?
[OOC] Spyboy Pearson: Also anything that catches my brain.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: I know I dumped the encodings
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: We need a way to parse the reply
Ingenue: "Data search without sufficient parameters requires a primacy of my processor time and offer a probability of false positives. Collection of pheromones for analysis in in progress. Pheromone content is aerosol, and there are likely caches that would significantly increase my data mining capabilities."
It quickly becomes apparent that, to translate this language, more samples will need to be gathered - which means getting closer to the tree-fortresses.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Well, let's get going?
Spyboy Pearson is also gonna trawl the data dump for all the behavior history he can find. Any edge he can get at predicting future behavior is a tactical plus.
One thing does become clear, though: there is some degree of control over where these pheromones are sent - judging from the lack of them in the local atmosphere.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: After you.
Abraham: "Now that's interesting. Nikolai, is there anything… physically unusual about the pheromones? Why aren't they dispersing like other aerosol compounds?"
[OOC] WC GM: Hmm…give me a Tactics check, Spyboy.
Spyboy Pearson rolled up 4dF: 0 + 0 0 (Base: 6 Total: 7) (Tactics)
[OOC] Alexander Morello: BRB
Nikolai: "Because of how they are emitted. It is safer to say they are squirted - shot, really - rather than just allowed to float on the wind. This also increases speed of transmission."
Abraham: "It also cuts down on eavesdropping, I'd expect. Thank you."
Spyboy Pearson: "Huh. Seems like they take their Clauzewitz a little too seriously."
Ingenue: "Atmospheric conditions would affect drift, though trajectory of distribution would limit drift. However, unless their computational ability is beyond my capacity to measure, there will be uncorrected error as determining the precise location of a particle is considered… tricky."
Abraham: "It's been a long time since the officer's academy, Spyboy. What about Calusewitz?"
Alexander Morello: "So we're going to have to get rather close, then."
Spyboy Pearson: "In times of peace, prepare for war."
Nikolai: "That sums it up. There is always war, to them. Always has been."
Zinda Tegram shakes her leg a bit to see how it's holding up.
Spyboy Pearson: "Looks like there's the same local tree fortresses around us as the reactor site, so we've got a one in four chance of finding the speaker."
Nikolai: "They were uplifted from warring plants. You know how old the arrowheads were?"
Alexander Morello: "If they've always been in a state of war, it's going to be hard to 'teach' them peace."
[OOC] Ingenue: If the leg falls off, I vote Zinda stays at the Roland.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: T_T
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: If it hurts, she's gonna go stim herself up to be ready.
Zinda's leg is healing up nicely. Still not 100% - it aches a bit.
Spyboy Pearson: "And with them focused on resourcing, they may be vulnerable to infiltration."
Zinda Tegram winces.
Abraham: "I believe the arrowheads were dated at 10 000 years ago."
Nikolai nods. "So they have been at constant war for at least that long. Probably much longer."
Ingenue: "Is there any system or policy for the acquisition and/or conversion of prisoners?"
Nikolai: "Conversion if possible. Digestion - essentially - otherwise."
Nikolai: "It is another form of conversion."
Alexander Morello: "A quite literal form."
Ingenue: "Is there evidence that the individual units are anything other than remote drones? Are there degrees of intellect exhibited within the lowest caste?"
Zinda Tegram: "There must be a system for the formation of alliances."
Nikolai: "Rudimentary intellect has been demonstrated, but for the most part you are right, little one."
Nikolai: "The true intellects are the trees."
Alexander Morello: "And how intellectual are they?"
Nikolai: "You can outthink them one on one. Probably."
Alexander Morello: "So high order negotiations are probably out, but trickery may work?"
Nikolai: "Doubtless they have their own geniuses, relatively."
Nikolai: "Have you ever tried to make peace on a balkanized world?" He looks at Abraham.
Ingenue: "It is possible, perhaps even likely, that my copy was created as a concession to the limitations of organics, specifically to utilize inefficient verbal structures to aid communication. It is just as likely that it is an attempt to glean whatever information they can about a foreign strain, learn its weaknesses, such as the vulnerability of bipedal motion, to more easily assimilate your bodies."
Spyboy Pearson: "That said, we do have something to offer them."
Zinda Tegram closes her eyes. "Well, we certainly have their attention as a military threat."
Spyboy Pearson: "The ability to form alliances."
Nikolai: "…that is an interesting point. Why you, and not me, or my colleagues? Is there something about you that they could more readily copy?"
Abraham: "No, I have not. I am rarely sent to a balkanized world to 'make pece'."
[OOC] Ingenue: Are we even pretending that 'walking AI' is a secret any more?
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Pffft. xD
[OOC] WC GM: It is to Nikolai, at least.
[OOC] Abraham: Tell Nikolai we grew her.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Nah.
Zinda Tegram: "Well, if we've determined that we're going to try something else before killing them, let's head on over and try to talk."
Zinda Tegram cricks her neck.
Nikolai: "I have seen them copy machinery. If I did not know it was impossible, I would guess that you were some sort of android, with a brain structure they could scan and attempt to imitate. But of course intelligent androids are just science fiction."
Ingenue: "We are, aren't we."
Spyboy Pearson: "They. She means they are."
Abraham: "No. We mean we."
Nikolai: "Ha! Dealing with sentient plants? I guess you could say this is a science fiction story, except for not being fictional."
Zinda Tegram places my hand on her shoulder.
Zinda Tegram: "Careful what you say about my daughter, Nikolai."
Zinda Tegram: "She's very real."
Alexander Morello: "Nikolai, she IS an intelligent android."
Nikolai: "…"
Ingenue: "All known data supports Zinda's conclusion."
Zinda Tegram gives Nikolai a deathglare.
Nikolai: "…but…that is impossible."
Ingenue: "As are sentient plants that interface with machinery, and yet, this is the universe we live in. You learn to cope."
Abraham: "Funny. That's what the tree reactor said."
Alexander Morello: "About as impossible as a planet full of sentient plants, yeah."
Zinda Tegram: "My daughter's existence is very possible, Nikolai."
Nikolai sighs. "Next you'll be telling me you've had contact with planetary hiveminds, and start weaving a strategy to impose the same on these plants so you can negotiate with them as one entity."
Alexander Morello: "They've dealt with a planetary super computer, does that count?"
Zinda Tegram eye twitches.
Zinda Tegram: "Oh, *her*."
Ingenue: "That possibility has not been discounted, but it is more of a… 'plan B'."
Spyboy Pearson: "Yeah, playing the plants against each other seems like a much more viable strategy."
Nikolai: "…"
Spyboy Pearson: "Especially cuz the hardest part about playing them against each other is finding a way to profit by doing so."
Nikolai: "And next you'll be telling me that…no, never mind. That possibility is too ridiculous to even mention."
Alexander Morello: "Hm?"
Abraham: "The universe is a very silly place, Nikolai."
Ingenue: "Speculations on my superposition aside, this does not get us closer to dealing with the hazard in front of us. There is a time limit in these factors."
Spyboy Pearson: "You know, sometimes I wonder if Admiral Wenser is a rogue Nephilim…"
Alexander Morello: "Now that's crazy. He's an admiral!"
Spyboy Pearson: "Yeah, but so's Admiral Bounty."
Nikolai: "Of course Wenser is an Admiral."
Spyboy Pearson: "I mean uh how are you doing, sir?"
[OOC] Abraham: "So tell me, Nikolai, how long have you been Wenser?"
Zinda Tegram taps her foot. "Are we leaving or not?"
[OOC] Alexander Morello: Wait, he's Wenser? I thought *I* was Wenser? We can't all be Wenser… can we?
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Fool! Zinda is the real Wenser.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: WIll the real Wenser please stand up?
Nikolai: "She is right. We should get going. Or…if you would rather I stay behind, I can scan for signals from my colleagues, let you know where they may have been taken. I have no illusions that they are still alive, but perhaps the plants that have had the most contact with them may be a higher priority."
Alexander Morello puts his hand on Nikolai's shoulder.
Alexander Morello: "Stay safe, Nikolai."
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Do we trust him? I don't trust him.
[OOC] Spyboy Pearson: If it helps, I trust him to give away our position.
[OOC] Ingenue: The real Wenser is already standing.
[OOC] Ingenue: I trust him to me more like the real Nikolai than any of us are, and that's about it.
[OOC] Ingenue: I'm still not 100% sure that you all aren't neph-plant hybrids wearing very convincing masks. Perhaps you will submit to DNA analysis?
[OOC] WC GM: So, heading out?
[OOC] Spyboy Pearson: Sounds like the best option.
[OOC] WC GM: Flying, walking, or how are you proceeding? And any decision as to which tree-fortress, or picking one at random?
[OOC] Alexander Morello: Three legged race is the only proper way to travel
[OOC] Spyboy Pearson: Can I use Tactics to try and figure the most likely tree-fortress to have the Speaker?
[OOC] WC GM: Sure.
[OOC] WC GM: Though you won't be able to get a one-stop answer.
Spyboy Pearson rolled up 4dF: + - 0 + (Base: 6 Total: 7) (Tactics to place "This tree is the most probable destination of the Speaker…")
While there is not enough data to pinpoint Speaker's location yet, a flyby surveillance should be able to gather that data. Specifically, look for the tree-fortress that is spending the most energy (as indicated by infrared) on things inside itself, rather than on drilling, expanding, or other outward projects.
Spyboy Pearson frowns.
[OOC] Ingenue: Are the fortresses far enough away to justify taking fighters? Cause that would make scanning really easy, so long as we don't all crash and die.
Spyboy Pearson: "Can't get much of a path for the Speaker - but given that it was her tree that got the most info from the labs."
[OOC] WC GM: They are far enough away from each other and the Roland, yes.
Spyboy Pearson: "Zinda, care to make another recon flight? We're looking for the tree that's not focusing on gathering resources right now."
[OOC] WC GM: Walking would take a while - the slitherers move very fast overland, and the fliers fly.
It further seems likely that, assuming Speaker has made it back "home" by now, Speaker hitched a ride at some point.
Zinda Tegram: "Sure."
Zinda Tegram leaves to do just that.
Spyboy Pearson: "Be careful. After we pulled that cluster bombing run on them, we know they've upped their AA."
Zinda Tegram: "I'm not that easy to get shot down."
Zinda Tegram: "Oh, yeah."
Zinda Tegram: "Can you hook me up with some pheromones to dump?"
[OOC] Ingenue: We haven't cracked the pheromone code yet, have we?
Spyboy Pearson frowns and starts parsing files.
Alexander Morello: "Isn't part of the goal of this run to collect a sample of their pheromones?"
Spyboy Pearson: "Any idea what you want to dump?"
Spyboy Pearson blinks
Spyboy Pearson: "Or does it not matter? You just want to get hit with their controllers."
[OOC] Spyboy Pearson: Assets to scrounge a pheromone dispenser?
Alexander Morello: "But that would pollute any sample you could take for analysis."
Zinda Tegram: "Just, 'don't'."
Zinda Tegram: "Or, 'stop'. It's for if they shoot at me."
Spyboy Pearson: "I'm afraid we don't have any linguistic knowledge yet."
[OOC] WC GM: You can get a pheromone dispenser cobbled together. No need for a check. *What* exactly it dispenses is another story.
Zinda Tegram: "Well, that's fine then. Be back in a few minutes."
Zinda Tegram slides into the frame and reseals before doing her typical startup routine.
It takes some minutes to do the recon. Of the tree-fortresses, two appear to be expanding toward largely unclaimed territory (judging by the lack of tree-fortresses in that direction); they will come into contact and conflict soon, but for now they are giving the Roland a wide berth. One shows significant output underneath - that must be the "drilling" Nikolai talked about.
Zinda Tegram does some low flights in the area to try and find Speaker, and catch more from any 'squirts' that happen.
[OOC] Ingenue: Possibly setting up more lava vents for controlled volcano-torpedoing? Or going for radioactives. Or maybe they are root vegetables.
And in the fourth, Zinda sees infrared patterns in distinctly humanoid shapes. Or so they appear; as she watches, the "limbs" of one of them detach. It is hard to get a much clearer picture without getting close, and even at this distance she can see the anti-aircraft emplacements track her.
[OOC] WC GM: Going for radioactives, most likely.
Zinda Tegram flashes her signal lights at them a few more times as she flies a bit closer.
They open fire.
[OOC] WC GM: Pilot check.
WC GM rolled up 4dF: 0 - 0 0 (Base: 5 Total: 4) (Gunnery)
Zinda Tegram rolled up 4dF: + - 0 0 (Base: 7 Total: 7) (Pilot, tagging the fact I'm Zinda god damn Tegram. Or, y'know, born in the cockpit.)
Those were practically warning shots. None of them strike home.
[OOC] Ingenue: Why /isn't/ that one of your aspects?
Zinda Tegram refrains from shooting and just passes over and keeps flashing her lights. In a pass where it's conspicuously obvious she's not shooting.
They continue to fire.
[OOC] WC GM: Two more Pilot checks before you're clear.
Zinda Tegram rolled up 4dF: - 0 0 0 (Base: 7 Total: 6)
WC GM rolled up 4dF: - 0 0 - (Base: 5 Total: 3) (Gunnery)
WC GM rolled up 4dF: 0 0 0 - (Base: 5 Total: 4) (Gunnery)
Zinda Tegram rolled up 4dF: + 0 0 - (Base: 5 Total: 5)
[OOC] Ingenue: It looks like they are now warning their warning shots.
They almost clip her…almost.
[OOC] Abraham: Zinda just wanted them to feel good about themselves.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Basically. : P
[OOC] Ingenue: Zinda is very kind like that.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: She is! She is magnanimous, as befits a proud knight.
Zinda Tegram finishes her pass and continues to wait to see if they're still intent on shooting.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Also to take a glance at the footage she just got.
[OOC] Abraham: She is also the blue thunder.
They keep shooting so long as she is in range. Once she is not, they stop.
The footage - yeah, that was one of the kilrathi that just got dismembered.
A humanoid of about the dimensions of Speaker was present, likely watching.
Zinda Tegram circles around a few times collecting some more pheromones.
[OOC] Ingenue: Taking notes? Is Speaker a diligent gatherer of data? ooooh, someone to talk to!
[OOC] Abraham: Don't you already have twitter in your head?
[OOC] Ingenue: …yeah, currently the only thing on the Neu-Comm is Spyboy and B4: The Soap Opera and its always reruns.
On the second circle, a few fliers begin to trail her. As she completes it and begins her third, they apparently figure it out and cross over, heading to intercept instead of fruitlessly follow.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: We should work on neutrino comms at some point.
Zinda Tegram lets them intercept and just sits prepared to evade any fire.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Not trying to evade their trajectory.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Zinda has something they can't copy anyways. : 333
They don't bother to fire. They try to ram.
WC GM rolled up 4dF: 0 + + + (Base: 6 Total: 9) (Pilot + For The Swarm)
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Pffft. Cute. xD
[OOC] Abraham: Use your resolve. It always works for me.
[OOC] WC GM: Technically, you have spin from earlier.
Zinda Tegram rolled up 4dF: + + - - (Base: 10 Total: 10) (Born in the cockpit, 360-degree cockpit, spin)
Zinda Tegram raises an eyebrow and looks behind her as she just goes for another loop around.
Zinda Tegram: "Curious."
[OOC] Ingenue: So, what are the odds that those are explosive suicide flyer bomb things?
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Scourge, huh.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Zinda's micro is too good for that to work, but amusing.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: They run into each other?
Indeed, a closer look shows that these are little more than flying bombs. They soon run out of steam, start to fall, and veer away from the tree-fortress - apparently, ditching themselves where they will not cause harm.
Zinda Tegram: "Huh. Missiles."
What little preprocessing Zinda's pheromone collector does, readily picks up an associated brief change in character at that moment.
Zinda Tegram does a little loop-de-loop on the way back.
As she heads back, more of the suicidal fliers follow - these ones launched, on pure ballistic trajectories. Her autopilot could evade them.
[OOC] WC GM: No roll necessary.
[OOC] WC GM: What has everyone else been up to while she was flying?
[OOC] Alexander Morello: Holding up score cards, mostly
[OOC] Ingenue: Keeping a close eye on Zinda and plotting painful murderous death if those things so much as mildly scratched the Stern Lanze's paint.
[OOC] Spyboy Pearson: Spyboy's been watching, since she hasn't patched that security hole yet.
[OOC] Ingenue: Also, more processing on various things we've talked about. Nue's a multi-tasker.
[OOC] Abraham: Recording it to broadcast later on pay-per-view
Ingenue is pretty sure those altered pheromones were directional change commands.
[OOC] WC GM: Science to analyze for more info - from Ingenue or anyone not-Zinda.
Alexander Morello rolled up 4dF: - 0 + + (Base: 5 Total: 6) (SCIENCE is for analyzing things.)
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Poor scourge. They really thought they could catch her.
While most of the pheromones are command codes, useless beyond that one tree-fortress's minions (and changing over time), there is a minor strain every time Zinda passed…there, directly between one of the expanding tree-fortresses and Speaker's. Communication-type, with what look like emphases on certain parts.
An increased amount on the second and third circles, then diminishing, then increase again shortly before the artillery-plants were fired.
Alexander Morello: "If we could gather more of this pheromone in other situations, we could narrow down its possible meaning."
Zinda Tegram crackles over radio. "You want more?"
Ingenue: "Always."
Alexander Morello: "Try to do something different, we need to compare the contexts."
Spyboy Pearson: "Not with this one, though. I don't want you shooting at it before we have a chance to talk, if you can help it."
Zinda Tegram: "Copy."
Zinda Tegram flies to one of the fortresses that reacted to her more sluggishly earlier.
At first there is no reaction - then the same pheromones as preceeded the artillery plants come through. A minute later, her sensors pick up incoming ballistics, but in a denser pattern.
Alexander Morello: "Okay, so we can narrow those down to some sort of attack code. How about trying to trigger an abort code?"
Ingenue continues to analyze the data collected by Zinda, correlating results with the earlier data.
[OOC] WC GM: Medical or Science check.
[OOC] Ingenue: Nue or anyone?
Alexander Morello rolled up 4dF: 0 - - - (Base: 5 Total: 2) (Medicine, it's like science but with blood!)
[OOC] Alexander Morello: That went poorly
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Alex! Tag for reroll.
[OOC] WC GM: Anyone not-Zinda, since presumably Zinda's too focused on piloting & data gathering.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: Yes. I am doing that.
[OOC] WC GM: Actually, that explains why Alexander thought it was an attack code.
Abraham rolled up 4dF: + + - - (Base: 5 Total: 5) (Science!)
Alexander Morello rolled up 4dF: - + - 0 (Base: 5 Total: 4) (Medical)
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Now, tags for big numbers~?
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: I mean it's a waste not to use your FP. :3
[OOC] Abraham: *shrugs*
[OOC] Alexander Morello: Tagging I've Blinded You With Science
[OOC] Abraham: Tags Math Geek
[OOC] WC GM: Indeed, it would be safe to say that this session involves science combat, rather than platoon, social, etc.
[OOC] WC GM: Spyboy and/or Nue rolling?
[OOC] Abraham: I was tagging for a +2 rather than a reroll. Just FYI.
[OOC] Ingenue: …not really worth it, Science and Medical are really low… though Nue would be data bridging for the whole one person who can exploit it.
[OOC] Spyboy Pearson: Alright, then.
Spyboy Pearson rolled up 4dF: + - + + (Base: 5 Total: 7) (Science! plus data bridge)
Those are not attack codes. They look…genetic? Gene seq-
Spyboy recognizes weapon schematics.
Spyboy Pearson: "….Those…those look like weapon schematics to you, Admiral?"
Genetic ones, to be sure. Blueprints for how they are grown and used. The exact details would take a while, but these pheromones conveyed how to weaponize existing components in new ways.
It was not so much signals to attack, as signals for what to use to attack.
Abraham: "Really looks more like instructions for IEDs than actual weapon specs."
Alexander Morello: "Interesting."
With that insight, another strand unveils: a way to infect the local trees - not the tree-fortresses, but the ordinary trees that make up most of the jungle, converting their cores to high-pressure steam that would launch…
It would appear they intend to fire trees at Zinda, soon.
Wooden steam rockets, specifically.
[OOC] WC GM: Anyone going to tell her?
[OOC] Alexander Morello: Brings a new meaning to 'flying telephone poles'
Spyboy Pearson: "Looks like they have ballistics planned next, Zinda. Rockets."
Abraham: "Zinda, they plan on launching trees at you. Be on the look out for leafy unaerodynamic missiles coming your way."
Spyboy Pearson: "Watch those trees."
Zinda Tegram: "Copy."
Sure enough, two seconds later…
Zinda Tegram: "Any idea on the PSI output?"
Abraham: "Oh, and try not to dodge them too contemptuously. Plants probably have feelings to."
WC GM rolled up 4dF: + - 0 + (Base: 4 Total: 5) (Engineering)
Zinda Tegram: "I'll make them look like they actually have a chance."
Zinda Tegram rolled up 4dF: 0 0 + - (Base: 5 Total: 5) (Pilot)
Alexander Morello: "It's impressive that the plants are able to change their biology so quickly…"
That had more than a chance. That actually scrapes the paint on the Lanze.
Zinda Tegram: "Oooh, they actually gave them decent output."
Abraham: "Considering they're still working on a hormonal system, that's exceptionally fast."
Zinda sees quite a few trees shift a bit - they're aiming. A direct hit, with that much force, would penetrate the Lanze's armor.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: I tried to manipulate the roll results to be similar actually.
Zinda Tegram slows to be an easier target.
Alexander Morello: "That sort of metabolism is generally incompatible with plant life… I wonder how they manage it."
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: 5 matching 5 is exactly what I was going for. :333
Abraham: "Nikolai, I think that question was directed at you."
Ingenue narrowed gaze.
[OOC] WC GM: Sure you want to slow down? They do mean to down you.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: I know. I'm not that worried.
[OOC] Abraham: *facepalms*. You just had to be five by five, didn't you?
[OOC] WC GM: :P
[OOC] Alexander Morello: If she's too hard to hit they'll make better tree missiles
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: That, too.
Sure enough, round two is much better aimed - and more of them.
WC GM rolled up 4dF: + + - 0 (Base: 8 Total: 9) (Engineering + Aimed + Macross Tree Massacre)
[OOC] Abraham: Actually, slowing down is probably a good idea. Any yuts can draw a bead on someone going the same speed all the time.
Zinda Tegram gets a slightly crazy grin in her cockpit and tightens her grip on the controls.
[OOC] Spyboy Pearson: You know what we haven't had enough of?
Zinda Tegram rolled up 4dF: 0 + - + (Base: 9 Total: 10) (Born in the cockpit, 360-degree field)
[OOC] Spyboy Pearson: Concessions.
[OOC] Abraham: I read that as concussions.
Zinda manages - barely - to barrel-roll through the incoming fire.
Zinda Tegram twirls around to match the missiles just like the old dogfighting movies, drawing tree-rockets into each other.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: Either works
[OOC] Alexander Morello: Well now they're just going to make better tree missiles
[OOC] Abraham: Zinda, might want to lay an aspect on yourself 'variable speed'. Just a thought.
[OOC] Ingenue: Their tree missiles are just fine; they're going to make better aiming algorithms.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: Better maneuverability
A few seconds, as the tree-fortress considers - then a bunch of trees relax in the direction of the Roland.
Spyboy Pearson: "BRACE FOR INCOMING!"
Zinda Tegram fires into the air at nothing in particular.
[OOC] Abraham: Now I have a sudden urge to make a log cabin.
[OOC] Abraham: A Cabin in the Woods, so to speak.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: With Joss Whedon in the basement?
[OOC] Ingenue: And now I have a sudden urge to set you on fire.
Sure enough, a salvo is soon arcing toward the carrier.
Zinda Tegram rolled up 4dF: - 0 + + (Base: 4 Total: 5) (Alertness to place "Bad idea to shoot that" on the Roland.)
[OOC] WC GM: They're shooting anyway, and ignoring Zinda.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: Any pheromones for that launch? Like targeting?
Zinda Tegram turns back to the tree fortress and starts warming her heavy dust cannons.
Zinda Tegram: "Shall I retaliate?"
[OOC] WC GM: If there were, they were sent from the tree-fortress to the roots of the rocket, not a path Zinda would intercept.
[OOC] Ingenue: Lets see if we all die. If not, we'll answer!
[OOC] WC GM: The tree-rockets aren't the fastest missiles. Trying to shoot them down?
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: I could. Or I could shoot the fortress a bit.
[OOC] WC GM: Anyone else doing anything about the incoming?
Ingenue pulls processing off of the data mining to direct towards analysis of the incoming projectiles, analyzing their projected impact vectors. ((Alertness to place aspect "Incoming Attack analyzed" ))
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: I will shoot them down if nobody else comes up with anything.
[OOC] Ingenue: Did we ever get the Roland's weapons back up and running? Did we even try?
Spyboy Pearson checks traces the signals through the Roland to see if the PDWs were reconnected.
[OOC] Spyboy Pearson: We didn't, the crew may have.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: I'd shoot them down in a very unusual way… anything to avoid giving them any useful information
Zinda Tegram rolled up 4dF: - - - 0 (Base: 5 Total: 2) (gunnery to place the aspect 'super charged' on self.)
Ingenue rolled up 4dF: 0 - + + (Base: 6 Total: 7) ((alertness maneuver))
The ship weapons were not. However, there are marines out there, still cleaning up the plants, some with heavy weaponry that might make a difference.
[OOC] WC GM: Relaying vectors to them?
[OOC] Abraham: Actually, tree missiles headed our way is a beautiful time to logend.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: brb
[OOC] WC GM: Wait for it… :3
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Don't forget those aspects please. :D
[OOC] Spyboy Pearson: Can we predict where the logs are gonna land?
[OOC] Spyboy Pearson: As in, which parts of the ship are most vulnerable?
[OOC] Abraham: Or just math out the trajectories?
[OOC] Ingenue: Nue is always relaying information to anyone who can receive it, unless someone points out those attack vectors should be classified.
[OOC] WC GM: Nue's already mathed it out, yeah.
[OOC] Ingenue: Does anyone want to place more aspects to avoid 'oh god oh god we're all going to die'?
[OOC] WC GM: But the marines don't have neu-comms. Anyone relaying that data?
[OOC] Spyboy Pearson: I'll patch it through, then…
[OOC] WC GM: Write it out, then.
Spyboy Pearson uploads the targeting data to the marine's tacnet.
Marine: "…sir? What's this?"
Zinda Tegram: "Rockets. Just shoot them down. The velocity is pretty low."
Marine: "Ro…SIR YES SIR! COMPANY! GET THOSE GUNS POINTED AT THE SKY!"
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: I'd like to take advantage of a few free tags please.
[OOC] Abraham: "THE TREES ARE REBELLING AGAINST THE LUMBERJACKS. Had to happen eventually, BUT NOW YOU NEED TO HEAVE HO AND SHOW YOUR BARK IS WORSE THAN THEIR BARK!!!"
[OOC] Alexander Morello: We are lumberjacks and we're okay- we sleep all night and we work all day!
[OOC] WC GM: Alright, two rolls: one for Zinda's action, and someone want to roll for the marines? They've got a base Energy Weapons 3.
[OOC] Ingenue: That sounds like Abe.
[OOC] WC GM: Don't forget the tags.
Abraham orders evacuations from the areas targeted ((maneuver to lay the aspect 'unpopulated targets'))
Spyboy Pearson rolled up 4dF: 0 - + - (Base: 5 Total: 4) (Energy Weapons + 'We Know Exactly What's Coming')
Abraham rolled up 4dF: - 0 + + (Base: 3 Total: 4) (Marines suck at shooting down trees. Need good Navy men, damnit!)
Zinda Tegram rolled up 4dF: 0 0 0 + (Base: 15 Total: 16) (Hundred Eyed Demon;Heavy Dust Cannons;Supercharged;Bad Idea To Shoot that;Ignoring the little fly)
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Right on the reactor, of course.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Beam rating 5. >:3
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: If it applies.
The marines manage to shoot up the salvo enough that only superficial damage is inflicted. By contrast, the damage Zinda inflicts is non-superficial: what remains of the tree fortress is aflame, and its towering canopy is no more.
Zinda Tegram circles around looking for speaker.
However, it seems to have energy for one last volley. 10-20 trees had fired last time. This time, a square kilometer of trees relaxes at once in the Roland's direction…

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