Session 4 9

The Roland has been - somewhat - repaired. It is good for subsonic in-atmosphere travel; anything more is going to take a lot more work.
The executive officer is briefing the party on the mission…
Zinda Tegram leans forward in her seat, focusing on the briefing.
ExecutiveOfficer: "We can only approximate, based on what that Speaker told you, but if it's a quarter of the way around the world it'll be about 10 hours. I suggest you get some rest."
[OOC] Abraham: I love that we have an officer specifically for presiding over executions.
[OOC] WC GM: And you hired him.
[OOC] Abraham: He was cheap.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: Guys, I don't think it's THAT definition of executive…
[OOC] Ingenue: He was three-chop Nick.
[OOC] Ingenue: Dude, he's the Admiral. Its his job to creatively reinterpret his crew.
ExecutiveOfficer: "This planet is still rotating, so we're pretty sure the engine only fires at certain intervals. You'll have about two hours until the next interval - again, we can't be more specific until we're there."
ExecutiveOfficer: "It'll be night time, so bring your infrared vision. We're pretty sure that's how your opposition will be seeing, so infrared flares are recommended."
Zinda Tegram: "Alright. One last thing…can you have engineering rig up a fuel air bomb for Sterne Lanze?"
Zinda Tegram: "Given their rate of adaptation, I'd like the first hit to hurt."
[OOC] Ingenue: Roll to place aspect 'we gave Zinda a bomb'?
ExectiveOfficer: "They're already working on the designs. You can carry three, right?"
[OOC] WC GM: Autopass, given how much time you have to prep.
ExectiveOfficer: "They also ask me to pass along how much they appreciate working with Oldziey technology. I'm pretty sure they were being sarcastic."
[OOC] Spyboy: Good, cuz I'd be using Aspects to reroll high numbers and that would make things awkward.
Zinda Tegram: "Tell them to go fuck themselves. It flies better than anything they've built."
Alexander Morello: "And irradiates better, too."
The officer brings up a picture of a series of obviously sculpted volcanos: natural volcanism does not produce mountains nearly that perfect. "We recovered this from the station's data cores. The images are too coarse to make out specific defenses, but…" He points to a large tree halfway up each. "…based on this, we suspect that a single 'clan' controls each one, coming to consensus somehow."
Zinda Tegram closes her eyes.
Zinda Tegram: "Will we have decoys?"
Alexander Morello: "Will our Speakers have trees in place to replace the other clan's command trees?"
ExecutiveOfficer: "We'll try, but we're unsure how good their sight is."
ExecutiveOfficer: "Our impression is the Speakers refuse to come along. Umm, you'll have to convince them, sir."
Zinda Tegram: "Convince them…?"
Zinda Tegram: "…Hah, oh, of course."
Zinda Tegram: "Metis, would you mind coming with me to help with that?"
Ingenue: "Of course!"
ExecutiveOfficer: "If you can take control of the engines, that'll give us control of the planet's trajectory. We can take it anywhere we want, so long as we have the fuel."
ExecutiveOfficer: "Off-planet travel doesn't appear to be an option for them, though we can't tell if that's an inherent limitation or if they just haven't gotten the concept yet."
Spyboy: "They panic at being disconnected from their tree fortress. Commander, Admiral, you have any ideas on how we can modify one of the cargo bays to accommodate them?"
ExecutiveOfficer: "Either way, this will at least temporarily handle their threat."
Abraham: "I don't think modification will be necessary so much as 'clearing out'. They should be roomy enough as it, once they're emptied."
[OOC] Ingenue: How much do we understand about their senses and/or how they perceive the world? We can't really arrange something nice for them if we don't know how they perceive things.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: We need one to dissect.
ExecutiveOfficer: "Science team doesn't think that's the problem. Rather, it's enclosed spaces - and we'll be traveling fast enough that they can't ride outside, or with a door open."
[OOC] Ingenue: You learn so much more with vivisection, but you were trying to convince Metis that was bad/wrong last week.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: Well, that's why we need a dead one!
[OOC] WC GM: You know as much as you've discovered ICly.
[OOC] Ingenue: You can't observe their primary nerve clusters firing when they're dead!
Zinda Tegram: "I have another idea."
Zinda Tegram: "We need an engine…yeah?"
Zinda Tegram: "What are their tree forts but…giant engines? We have a spare fusion core, but the engine's busted…"
Zinda Tegram: "Why not take one of them along? Mount them up and…y'know."
[OOC] Ingenue: Can we rig the fusion reactors to produce enough thrust to move the planet?
[OOC] Spyboy: Not without incinerating the tree hives, from what I understand.
[OOC] WC GM: Not even close.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Come on!
[OOC] Spyboy: Also, not without understanding what it its that lets them use the volcannon as a rocket.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Let a speaker inhabit the fusion core
Abraham: "Sadly, the math is just not there, Zinda. Or rather, it's there, but it says 'no'."
[OOC] Alexander Morello: Without blasting off the atmosphere…
[OOC] Spyboy: Though the fusion trees are a good starting point for plantships.
Zinda Tegram: "Not to move the planet."
[OOC] WC GM: But that's not what Zinda's sugg- yeah, that.
Zinda Tegram: "To move the speaker."
Zinda Tegram grins.
Zinda Tegram: "The engine's for the Roland."
Zinda Tegram: "They need a tree fort, so we become the tree fort."
Zinda Tegram: "Then, later…"
Spyboy: "The answer to your first question is that the tree forts don't produce any thrust. The fusion reaction is entirely contained, and we need it not only released but focused and controlled."
Spyboy: "So it wouldn't be easy."
Zinda Tegram: "You've seen them build. You think they couldn't?"
Ingenue: "Given their rate of evolution, it is… possible. I think."
Spyboy: "I've seen them copy designs. I haven't seen them innovate. And them innovating is as frightening to me as Elles is to you."
Zinda Tegram: "And…they deserve to see the stars, I think."
[OOC] Abraham: BRB
Zinda Tegram: "Give them the chance."
Ingenue looks up. "But the stars are right there. Are their light receptors not powerful enough to identify them?"
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Come on organic ship's intelligence!
Zinda Tegram: "Metis…seeing something up close is different."
Zinda Tegram: "Spyboy, even though I feared Elles I…asked for Metis, right?"
Zinda Tegram: "Give the speakers the same chance."
Alexander Morello: "Yes, and we're still worried about LaGOS. I don't think we should risk unleashing another expansionary hive mind on the universe."
[OOC] Abraham: Back
Spyboy: "Oh, I'm all for it. I'm just scared."
Zinda Tegram: "Abraham?"
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: It'll be interesting!
Ingenue: "Expansionary hive minds have so much to offer."
Zinda Tegram: "You think so Metis?"
Zinda Tegram: " Most humans view them as something of a threat."
Spyboy: "The fact that they terrify us is another thing that she thinks they have to offer. It's all data…"
Abraham: "Not yet. The doctor is right that we are already dealing with LaGOS, /and/ the Nephilim who are probably also an expansionary hive mind. ((And I'm not even mentioning Wenser.)) Maybe later, after they've had a chance to demonstrate that they can co-exist peacefully."
Ingenue: "Many humans view emergent AI as a threat. You are more progressive."
Alexander Morello: "Emergent AI has historically demonstrated itself to be an existential threat to humanity."
Zinda Tegram: "Can we at least use the fusion core to ferry them to the target?"
Abraham: "I don't see the harm in that. Would make things more convenient."
Ingenue: "Humanity is too interesting to eradicate."
Alexander Morello: "Maybe for you, but that's not how everyone seems to feel."
Zinda Tegram frowns a little.
Zinda Tegram: "Is that the only reason, Metis?"
Abraham subtily leans in. He is curious about Metis's answer.
Ingenue: "That is the simplest reason. There are more complex reasons."
Zinda Tegram: "Mmm…that's good."
Zinda Tegram: "I guess."
ExecutiveOfficer: "So, what's the plan?"
Abraham: "This is the only volcano slash thruster?"
Zinda Tegram: "Crown squadron bombs the hell out of them and we airlift the speakers in, I guess."
ExecutiveOfficer: "There are at least five, as you can see from this picture. But it's likely they're all clustered together, however many there are."
Ingenue: "Is there any information on what is used to reinforce the vents?"
Spyboy: "And some of the tree fortresses are on our side, right? Any way of knowing which ones aren't?"
Ingenue: "Check the trajectory of their artillery. The closer it comes to us, the less 'on our side' they are."
ExecutiveOfficer: "Impossible to know until we get there, but I would assume they will all be hostile."
Zinda Tegram: "What are the status of the Scwarzelanzen?"
ExecutiveOfficer: "It's clear the vents were reinforced by a design from Tzimitche Station, but we have been unable to recover that design."
Zinda Tegram: "Reinforced?"
ExecutiveOfficer: "Your fighter is good to go. Your squad's fighters - the ones we have on board, anyway - should be ready by the time we're there. The rest have yet to be delivered, and we are unlikely to receive delivery until we leave the atmosphere."
Abraham: "Okay, Crown squadron will bomb these locations," he indicates on the display, "Those will cause rock slides and hopefully make it very difficult for any land offense to be carried out, leaving their air offense, which will be more easily handled."
Spyboy eyes the map and starts memorizing routes.
[OOC] Abraham: Me lays the aspect 'A plan! A most palpable plan!'
ExecutiveOfficer: "We're pretty sure that's not just rock inside."
ExecutiveOfficer: "Alright. And then we take the fortresses one by one, with reinforcements cut off?"
Abraham: "Just so."
Zinda Tegram: "Sounds good."
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: I'd rather bomb them simultaneously
ExecutiveOfficer: "I'll prep the marines for ground assault. Will you be neutralizing the trees beforehand, or should we capture them intact?"
Ingenue: "Intact! …as much as possible."
Zinda Tegram: "Hun I'm not sure that viable."
Spyboy: "I'm concerned with the ethics and the feasibility of capturing tree fortresses intact."
[OOC] Ingenue: This is when Nue needs an algorithm for crying.
Zinda Tegram: "We're bringing in replacements, after all. The FAB should leave the shells of the fission cores intact, and then our own speakers come in."
Alexander Morello: "It is unethical to experiment on prisoners of war."
Zinda Tegram: "Yeah…it is."
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Move this along?
Ingenue pauses, realizing that 'who can we experiment on then' is not a valid response.
[OOC] Abraham: Though there is a valid counter-response to Ingenue's invalid response. 'Volunteers.'
[OOC] WC GM: Next scene after this is talking to the Speakers. That happens when you make it happen.
Zinda Tegram: "Well, I think we're done here."
Abraham: "I believe so. Unless anyone has anything else to add?"
Spyboy: "Alright, how can we tweak the tree fortresses for in-atmosphere movement?"
Zinda Tegram pushes herself to her feet and walks, coat over her shoulder.
Alexander Morello follows after Zinda.
Ingenue follows Zinda.
Spyboy: "Huh. And it was her idea, too."
Abraham: "Yeah."
Alexander Morello: "Zinda, how are you feeling?"
Zinda Tegram: "Huh…?"
Zinda Tegram: "I'm…"
Zinda Tegram stops, closes her eyes, and shivers.
Zinda Tegram: "I'm going to fight."
Zinda Tegram starts walking again.
Alexander Morello: "Listen, you can't keep this up forever."
Ingenue: "[…]"
The Speakers are milling about outside, under the watchful eyes of the science team. At the moment, they are playing with a few toys - tossing each one back and forth, examining it, and finally breaking or attempting to eat it (often both).
Zinda Tegram: "Hello."
Zinda Tegram: "We're going to bomb the thruster clans. We want you to take their place."
Ingenue: "%We are going to remove the thruster clans and want you to claim the territory.%"
The Speakers look up, one of them swallowing the last toy.
Zinda Tegram: "Thanks for translating."
One Speaker looks at Ingenue. "Speak this way? Is easier!"
Ingenue: "Vocal communication is inaccurate and… oh yes, fine. 'Easier'."
ScienceTeamMember: "Hope you don't mind. We've been teaching them new words."
Zinda Tegram: "That's helpful, actually."
Alexander Morello: "Yeah, thanks for taking the initiative there."
Speaker: "We take over volcanic plasma thrusters? How go?"
Zinda Tegram: "You will…grow on the station core. We will carry you there."
Zinda Tegram: "You will become a new tree fortress."
Speaker: "…new clan?"
Zinda Tegram: "Yeah, that's the idea."
The two Speakers look at each other briefly, then one looks to Zinda. "Show!" And points toward the cargo bay the station core had been taken to.
Zinda Tegram: "You mean, 'please show'."
Zinda Tegram cooperates, nonetheless.
Alexander Morello sighs
ScienceTeamMember: "We have had as much success teaching them politeness, as I have had with my own children."
Ingenue: "Did you explain that politeness is a non-optional social convention?"
ScienceTeamMember: "We tri-"
Speaker: "SOCIAL CONVENTION!" Speaker points, and one slitherer abruptly vivisects another.
Zinda Tegram: "Uh"
Zinda Tegram: "What?"
Ingenue: "Interesting."
ScienceTeamMember: "…that appears to be what they think of that."
Zinda Tegram: "Well, maybe try treating them like they treat you, then. They'll catch on eventually."
The slitherers go back to wandering about in loose formation, as if nothing happened.
Zinda Tegram shakes her head and opens the cargo bay doors.
Alexander Morello: "Remind me not to attempt to shake hands with any of them… I'd like to keep the one I've got."
Ingenue: "Zinda. I am not allowed to do that, correct?"
Zinda Tegram: "No."
The salvaged fusion core from the station stands, cold and idle.
Zinda Tegram: "You are not allowed to do that."
It passively towers over all present - just as the cargo bay's walls, in turn, tower over it.
Zinda Tegram glances back at the speakers.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: I'm imagining the music from Raiders of the Lost Ark here.
The Speakers follow Zinda, eyes on her and the core.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: The cargo bay is being examined by top men. TOP men.
[OOC] WC GM: That's not too out of place.
Zinda Tegram: "This is it."
Zinda Tegram: "Can you inhabit it?"
The Speakers dash forth, running to it as if walking was inconvenient, and begin examining.
Speakers: "Broken." "Fix fix." "Become!" "No food." As one, they look at Zinda. "Need food!"
Zinda Tegram: "Food?"
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Oh god
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Is this
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: That time
[OOC] WC GM: Which time?
[OOC] Abraham: I suppose if you've lived your life like Zinda, flashbacks are inevitable.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: Hammertime?
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Zinda is going to become part plant?
Zinda Tegram: "What sort of…food…"
The slitherers - having been trailing behind - begin scooping up dirt and bringing it in, dumping it at the base of the core.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: Little Shop, Little Shop of Horrors…
Compared to the core's size, it is a slow process.
Ingenue: "They are plants. They require soil, water, and light. 'Food'."
Zinda Tegram coughs.
Zinda Tegram: "I, uh…"
Zinda Tegram: "Sorry, just the way they were looking at me made me feel a bit like food."
Zinda Tegram exhales.
Ingenue: "Zinda is not food!"
[OOC] Abraham: Well, at this point, Zinda is probably rather dirty…
Zinda Tegram: "Yeah…thanks."
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Probably.
One Speaker headtilts. "Want be food?"
Zinda Tegram: "Uh…"
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: OOC, yes.
Zinda Tegram looks at Metis, then at the Speaker, then back at Metis.
Zinda Tegram: "What do you…mean…?"
Said Speaker looks Zinda over. "Food dead. Friend not dead."
Zinda Tegram: "Uh…yeah, let's keep it that way."
The other Speaker pipes up. "Become! No food. Be clan."
Ingenue: "Yes!"
Zinda Tegram: "You want me…to be…"
[OOC] Ingenue: That was a mistimed yes.
Zinda Tegram: "Hooked in?"
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Dammit WC this always happens
[OOC] Spyboy: Making Zinda the polar opposite of Michael in one more way. I like it.
Speakers: "Clan? But…friend not…" "Friend no want dead. No want be food. Be clan?" "Friend not Speaker!"
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Michael has to adopt a speaker.
Alexander Morello: "Zinda, are you sure that's a good idea?"
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Trying to think of a way for Zinda to say no but the speakers think she said yes
Zinda Tegram: "Let's…well I would like to, uh, speak more clearly with you if that's what you're asking."
[OOC] Spyboy: 'It SEEMS like it could be interesting…' and forget to clarify the 'but that's crazy.'
Alexander Morello: " Don't think that's quite what they mean…"
Speaker: "Friend become Speaker?" The other Speaker gives the first one a horrified look at that suggestion.
[OOC] Spyboy: Should Abraham and I enter at this point, in time to egg things on?
[OOC] WC GM: You're present. Go for it.
Abraham enters in time to see the look of horror that one speaker is giving the other. "Did I miss something?"
[OOC] Spyboy: Way I see it, Spyboy explicitly saying it's a terrible idea would just make Zinda say 'don't reject it out of hand,' which the Speaker could take as tacit agreement.
One Speaker points to Zinda. "Friend want us eat friend."
Zinda Tegram gulps and has her hand imperceptibly twitch to her torch.
Zinda Tegram: "Eat?"
Abraham gives Zinda a look of mock horror. "I think there may be some small misunderstanding here."
Zinda Tegram: "Misunderstanding?"
The other Speaker replies, "No that eat. Eat, let make units!"
Speaker: "Become clan!"
Spyboy: "….They really need adjectives."
Zinda Tegram relaxes a bit. "Well, uh, sure, I mean…"
Zinda Tegram: "How bad could it be?"
Alexander Morello: "Pretty bad… Conflicting biology."
Alexander Morello: "Lack of thorough understanding of the interactions of your biology and theirs."
Abraham: "Pretty bad. Imagine if Spyboy's implant /didn't/ go as planned."
Alexander Morello: "Not to mention any sort of psychological damage caused the the collision of your mind and theirs."
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: I'm just gonna presume Zinda didn't catch that.
Spyboy: "Yeah, there was a test subject before my implant."
Alexander Morello: "And, as different as they are, Lagos are still pretty similar to humans. Much more similar than plants are."
Abraham: "93% identical DNA, as opposed to 85% for the plants here, and that's /before/ they were… uplifted."
Ingenue: "….how do their cell walls even work? How would it interact with human biology without…"
Abraham: "Also that."
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Guys you are making it hard for me to do something stupid
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: I want to do something stupid come on
[OOC] Spyboy: I'm all for it
[OOC] Alexander Morello: It's just our job to try
[OOC] Ingenue: Nue's encountering the reason why you don't get two 'primary' directives. 'Zinda stay safe' is currently assaulting 'gather any/all data'.
[OOC] Abraham: Put your chainsaw down and listen to me. It's time for you to join in the fight.
Zinda Tegram: "I think…I'll pass."
Zinda Tegram: "Well, on the other hand…"
Zinda Tegram: "Metis, what do you think?"
Zinda Tegram: "No, nevermind….Aaah fuck it."
Ingenue: "… data… it….processing."
Zinda Tegram: "We need to get in these f*ckers heads so we know what's going on and that they won't stab us in the back right?"
Zinda Tegram: "Hey! Do it!"
Ingenue: "….yes?"
Zinda Tegram: "I'm gonna…"
Abraham seriously contemplates putting a warning label on the outer hull of The Roland. 'Zinda inside'.
The Speakers walk up and hug Zinda. "Friiiend~!"
Alexander Morello: "As your medical professional, I strongly advise you NOT to do it."
The Speakers begin to grow on her. Literally.
Zinda Tegram raises her arms and looks uncomfortable.
Zinda Tegram: "Woah…woaaah…Uh…"
Ingenue: "[!]"
Slowly, the Speakers begin to morph into a single Zinda-covering cocoon.
Zinda Tegram tosses Metis her torch. "If you need to!"
[OOC] Abraham: Talk, with your mouth full. Bite, the hand that feeds you. Bite, off more than you can chew. What can you do?
The slitherers keep bringing dirt in.
Alexander Morello: "Am I ever gonna get out from under cleaning up after her?"
Ingenue catches the torch. "No."
Abraham: "If it's any consolation, Zinda counts as Hazard pay."
Alexander Morello massages his temples.
The slitherers almost seem to be chanting, like a procession of alien monks filling a lake one bucket at a time.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: That's not creepy at all.
A few slitherers pick up the cocooned Zinda and plant her on the soil. The cocoon begins to grow over the core.
[OOC] Abraham: Depends. If they're chanting 'Unga chaka chaka unga chaka chaka', not so much.
[OOC] Alexander Morello: Sharkbait-oo-ha-ha

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