Session 7 1

The party has returned to orbit, and now begins the trek from one side of the sector to the other. Even if things are relatively trapped and confined, the path to Grissom being a mere three jump points and then one further to White, this is still multiple star systems - a journey that, just 1000 years prior, would have been nearly inconceivable.
[OOC] Abraham: You keep saying that word. I don't think it means what you think it means.
Even far more recently, it was but speculative science fiction. And yet now, the journey is less important than the destination. But the journey still happens.
[OOC] WC GM: Are you going through David or through Mahavier?
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: …David is empty.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: And it may be wise to check get a quick look on Mahavier. Just in case.
[OOC] Spyboy: We were just in David. We didn't blow up the planet this time.
[OOC] Spyboy: I agree with regards to Mahavier, though.
[OOC] Abraham: Mahavier. We've been to David.
By coincidence, Tuskegee returns to Mahavier as the party is traveling through it. There is much evidence of mass robbing: even a brief survey shows a much lighter density of asteroids than had previously been recorded. That this was temporarily a zero planet system may have helped with the absconding.
[OOC] Abraham: WingedCat sighs dramatically, but inaudibly, over IRC and pushes his David magnum opus into the recycle bin.
Indeed, a few asteroids are still on course for the jump point, and the unmanned relay station has been rigged to open the jump point as asteroids near it.
Zinda Tegram: "Well, now we know where he was getting the mass from."
[OOC] WC GM: Nah, it's fine. You've pretty much done the plot I had for that, other than the bit related to the unnamed system.
Zinda Tegram: "Do a flyby over Tuskegee to take a look maybe?"
Space being vast, it is not hard to dodge these asteroids.
[OOC] Abraham: I call shenanigans. This is suppose to be a Wing Commander game.
[OOC] Metis: Asteroids weren't hard to dodge in the games either. Though it was more fun to blow them up.
[OOC] WC GM: And you do have that option here, should you choose.
[OOC] Abraham: Well… yeah. Though I've had my ship appear right in front of an asteroid and not enough time to do either, though this was the SNES port
[OOC] WC GM: We're taking the PC original version as canon, where it matters.
[OOC] WC GM: Thus: you can dodge asteroids.
Spyboy: "I'm sending a few drones for a scanner pass, so we don't really need to visit until the plants can develop a radio and we can say hi."
[OOC] Abraham: "Absolutely nothing happened in Sector 83 by 9 by 12 today. I repeat, nothing happened in Sector 83 by 9 by 12."
[OOC] Spyboy: "But….nothing DID happen in Sector 83 by 9 by 12." "I know."
Abraham: "Good idea. It's best to keep an eye on the neighbors."
Spyboy: "Speaking of which…"
Spyboy fires up the Nephilim handshake protocol and says 'hi' to the Nephilim on the planet….just in case.
It takes quite a bit of time to sweep an entire planet, but Spyboy has time to kill during the trip. Well before reaching the jump point to Armstrong, Spyboy is fairly certain there are no Nephilim on Mahavier. Just as he is reaching this conclusion, a Metis-like voice breaks out from bridge speakers…
???: "Friiiends!"
???: "We see friends!"
Spyboy: "Alright. I take back what I said. They have developed radio."
Spyboy nods towards Metis, who is after all the Speaker for the humans. And lagos.
Zinda Tegram: "Ah, hello."
ExecutiveOfficer: "Actually, it looks like they pieced together Tzimitche Station's radio."
Zinda Tegram: "Are you doing well?"
[OOC] Metis: Is that an official position?
[OOC] Metis: Also, are we actually friends?
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: No but don't let them know that.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: We're more like terrifying sky monsters I suspect.
[OOC] Spyboy: Also, it's not an official position, but the Speakers for the Tuskegee-
Tuskegee: "Doing well! Learning! Friends' friends planted books!"
[OOC] Spyboy: Ahem. The Speakers for the Tuskegee beasts are Metisalikes, so it stands to reason that when Metis speaks, they'll associate her with Speaking for us.
Zinda Tegram: "That is good. We do not have a great amount of time to spend, but we figured since we were traveling through the system we would make sure that your planet was, uh, not likely to move again."
[OOC] Spyboy: Also, Metis would have been able to pull that logic from Spyboy when he nodded towards her; if she disagrees that's fine, too.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Have the volcano thrusters been dismantled?
[OOC] Metis: Terrifying sky monster. That is our usual position.
Metis: "Or possibly explode."
[OOC] Spyboy: Also, Zinda complicates matters, which makes sense given that she's a terrifying sky plant.
Spyboy: "What kind of books?"
Tuskegee: "Planet move! Move here, move there!"
Zinda Tegram: "I, ah, yes, but you see why it was a problem when you were going to hit ours, I hope?"
The mountains where the volcano thrusters were are still present, but show a greatly reduced amount of thermal activity from before.
Zinda Tegram gulps.
Tuskegee: "Books with words! Books with ideas! Books about friiiends!"
Zinda Tegram: "I see, umm, OK."
Zinda Tegram: "Hey, Spyboy, what was your friend's name again?"
Metis: "If they are not in a endangering themselves or others, there is nothing wrong with them moving. Most planets move."
Zinda Tegram: "Nikolai?"
Tuskegee: "No hit friends' friends planet. No kill friends' friends. Stay here. Friends' friends can visit."
Zinda Tegram: "Yes, that is best. I am pleased to call you our friends."
Spyboy: "He was the Doc's friend, I believe."
Zinda Tegram: "Ah, alright."
[OOC] WC GM: Are you asking them about Nikolai?
Spyboy: "I wonder what could be accomplished by teaching them to build spaceships? The risks, of course, would be immeasurable…"
Zinda Tegram: "…Let's not give them too many ideas."
Zinda Tegram: "Is Nikolai doing well?"
Tuskegee: "Nikolai doing well! Nikolai reading!"
Metis: "If that is the direction they wish to go in, they will accomplish it on their own. Assuming they have not depleted their planet of the necessary resources in powering their volcanoes."
Heggy: "Yeah. It could be amazingly wonderful, or it could result in the extinction of one, two, or three species."
ExecutiveOfficer: "Getting a visual from the drones. Putting it on screen."
Spyboy: "Yeah, but a teacher can guide the student. We could all benefit."
Heggy: "I think you and I have our own path we will need to walk…Leave it to Nikolai."
At first the picture is of Nikolai, sitting on a log, reading from a datapad, a quartet of Metisalikes perched close and reading along. The picture pulls back - arrayed around him are dozens, hundreds, thousands of Speakers. Pulling back further reveals an array of plant creatures, including many new forms - a few recognizable, with a bit of thought, as pheromone repeaters. It is the largest rock concert grade childrens' reading session the party has ever seen with their own eyes.
Zinda Tegram: "Wow."
Zinda Tegram: "…What's he reading?"
[OOC] Metis: How To Kill, volume 5: Explosions are your friend!
[OOC] Abraham: Also, please please please let it be Perry Mason.
ExecutiveOfficer: "Sorry, that's the best resolution we've got."
Zinda Tegram: "Which book is Nikolai reading right now? We're far away so it's hard to get a good look."
Tuskegee: "Book about friiiends! …friiiend…ship! How be friends!"
[OOC] Abraham: Oh, I get it. Nikolai bought the prior Humble Book bundle. The My Little Pony one.
[OOC] Spyboy: Ah.
[OOC] WC GM: MLP probably continues to exist, and modern versions may well be among the documents available to him.
Zinda Tegram: "Does the book have a name?"
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: To the party.
[OOC] Abraham: Of course, Humble Bundle still being around goes without saying.
Zinda Tegram: "Some children's book? Probably a good choice."
[OOC] Abraham: "Bullshit diseases A-Z. 'A is for Alfluenza'…
ExecutiveOfficer: "Aha, there we go. Drone's connected to a beacon near the station - apparently that's the designated spaceport now. He was supplied with standard primary educational curricula for students in extreme at-risk social situations."
The XO looks a bit sheepish. "Ah…the stuff they bring out to keep kids from falling into gang wars."
Zinda Tegram: "OK,. Sounds…smart."
[OOC] Abraham: Oh. He's reading 'Shinji and the Warhammer 40K'.
Abraham and Spyboy can easily tell the XO is speaking from personal experience.
Zinda Tegram: "Well, keep at it. We need to go, but it has been nice speaking to you!"
Tuskegee: "Keep at it! Friiiends!"
[OOC] WC GM: Given the level he's reading to them at, the only title we'd know - Shakespeare levels of old to the PCs & NPCs - would be Dr. Seuss titles. Though…heck, sure, those are on the reading manifest.
[OOC] Abraham: Better he read those to them then force them to sit through the movies.
[OOC] WC GM: So, yes. They're getting the story of the Grinch.
[OOC] WC GM: Being read on stage to a worldwide attentive audience.
Nothing further of note happens until the party reaches Armstrong.
ExecutiveOfficer: "…getting a request to brief the records office on the status of Oldziey and Kali. What do I tell them?"
Metis: "The truth?"
Abraham: "Yes. We'll tell them the truth."
ExecutiveOfficer: "Also, apparently public sentiment has come around to setting the plants up for admission into the Confederation, once they are 'adults'."
Abraham: "That's good. Inclusive is best for the long run."
ExecutiveOfficer: "Aye aye. But, uhh…is Kali officially deceased or what?"
Kali's voice sounds from the air around Zinda. "I am right here, you know."
Abraham shrugs. "Okay. You're the person to ask. Are you dead?"
Zinda Tegram sighs.
Zinda Tegram: "You're going to follow me forever, aren't you?"
Zinda Tegram: "You're not even my real mom."
[OOC] Abraham: If Zinda's getting more diplomatic, than someone has to pick up the slack.
Zinda Tegram: "Do you want a new body or what?"
[OOC] Spyboy: I'm sorry, was Kali Zinda's mom in any way?
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Mother in law.
[OOC] Spyboy: Okay, so that's what Zinda meant. Fair enough!
[OOC] Abraham: So wait…. Zinda was a plant by Kali all along?!
Kali: "My life literally depends on staying around you. This emulation that I now am, turns off unused parts. I…never was the most social, so by default it turns off social interaction and initiative. If I'm not hanging around people - mainly you - I become an automaton again."
[OOC] Spyboy: Nah, Zinda was only a plant after we landed on Tuskegee.
Spyboy snickers.
[OOC] Metis: Get her a cat. She can talk to her cats!
Heggy thwaps Spyboy. "Michael!"
Spyboy: "I'm sorry, I'm sorry. It's just - in order to keep her personality, Kali has to stay around Zinda? Can you not see how hilarious that is?"
Spyboy: "And how awkward things will be when Zinda meets up with Alfred again?"
Kali: "…death glare, Spyboy. I am giving you a death glare."
Spyboy: "Good to know, good to know."
[OOC] Abraham: And so, now we know where gamma ray bursts come from.
Kali: "Though…I may need your help if I am to download. I could puppet a body, but that wouldn't fix this emulation…error."
Kali: "Limitation."
Kali: "…whatever, I messed up."
Abraham: "XO, tell them Kali is to be listed as missing in action."
The XO struggles to keep a straight face. "Yes, sir!"
Metis: "But Kali is not missing. Simply very small."
Spyboy: "Yeah. That's the problem with a dispersed intelligence. It tends to spread out…"
Kali: "Believe me, I am trying to avoid letting that happen right now."
Zinda Tegram: "Fuck…"
Zinda Tegram: "…You're still an admiral, technically?"
Kali: "…I'll try to hang around someone else if you meet Alfred in the flesh again."
Kali: "No technicality about it. Even if I'm dead I'd still be an Admiral."
Zinda Tegram: "Then we can use your access, if it comes to it."
[OOC] Abraham: New Star Trek series idea. The ship's computer is an admiral. Hilarity ensues.
Kali: "Let's keep that as a backup."
Spyboy: "Do we need it? The Admiral's an admiral, too."
Abraham: "I like to think so, yes."
[OOC] WC GM: …I almost want to say that Star Trek used that idea for an episode.
[OOC] WC GM: I know there have been non-ST books written with that concept.
Abraham: "And I know of no protocols that require two or more admiral credentials to access."
[OOC] WC GM: And at least one anime series.
[OOC] WC GM: At least two, if Tenchi Muyo counts via Ryo-ohki.
[OOC] WC GM: Not that her "fleet" was that large.
[OOC] Abraham: Well, now I'm envisioning the Cabbit Navy.
Metis: "Yes, but this way Zinda can access things that the Admiral might not want her to access."
[OOC] WC GM: Imagine what happens when a society breeds starships to be lifelong companions for their explorers.
Abraham: "That said, if we need any of Kali's personal files for any reason, she can tell us 'no' in person."
Spyboy: "That she can…"
Kali: "…by the way. I've been reading up on those plants. Zinda, are you effectively their mother now?"
Abraham: "There are many many things I do not want Zinda to access, because she is about as good at keeping a secret as…no. There is nothing in the universe on par with Zinda's inability to keep a secret. And by the same token, the things I don't want Zinda to access, Kali also won't want her to access for the same reasons."
Zinda Tegram: "…That's a difficult question to answer."
Kali: "Do I or do I not now have grandchildren thanks to you?"
Zinda Tegram: "I…You have Metis."
Zinda Tegram: "She's my only daughter."
Kali: "…that will do."
[OOC] Abraham: "Metis, give your grandma a hug."
[OOC] Metis: Yay, I'm satsifactory!
Kali: "So. You never did answer my question. What ARE you? And I don't mean just 'human', 'human with a lago wife', 'android', 'human slash oldzieyspawn slash sentient plant hybrid slash general terror to the galaxy'."
Spyboy: "To be fair….no, that's a pretty accurate depiction of Zinda."
Zinda Tegram: "…The hell do you mean Oldziey spawn?"
Zinda Tegram: "Oldzien people are human!"
Spyboy: "…Well, from what she said you might not quite be."
Kali: "They…can cross-breed, I suppose. But they have rejected much of their Terran heritage."
Spyboy: "Also, I suspect that Kali, being from Oldziey, knows that humans from Oldziey are still human. She just refuses to admit it."
Abraham: "Every colony has rejected most of their Terran heritage. That's what being a colonist means."
Kali: "It is precisely BECAUSE I am from Oldziey that I know we're not the same."
Kali: "Things like the constant need for gravity."
Kali: "You probably don't know that we've been tinkering our genes to get around that problem you have with bone loss."
Zinda Tegram: "…"
Zinda Tegram: "Given the problems I saw a lot of comrades having, I find that hard to believe."
Abraham: "Oh! Oh! How about a constant nitrogen rich atmosphere? Like Nielnieh doesn't have. Are my people any less human for it?"
Kali: "…it's far from perfect."
Kali: "I've never been, but I hear Earth's atmosphere is nitrogen rich."
Kali: "And other colonies adapt for it."
Spyboy coughs
Abraham: "Yes it is. 90% I am given to understand. Nielnieh's is about twelve at sea-level. And believe me, gene therapy was rampant for four generations to deal with that."
Spyboy: "Besides. Oldziey is only ninety years old. Really, how far off of human norm could it possibly be, even with active changes?"
Abraham: "So, am I more human, less human, or as human as an Oldziey?"
Metis: "As human. It is a binary definition."
Kali responds with silence. Somehow, for a time, the party appears to have shut her up.
ExecutiveOfficer: "Approaching Grissom jump point. Sir, do we go on alert?"
[OOC] Abraham: Oh god, we killed her.
Spyboy checks the drones - yeah, recovered before departing Tunguska, then not deployed through Armstrong.
Abraham: "Yellow alert since don't really know what to expect."
ExecutiveOfficer: "Aye, aye, sir. Yellow alert! All fighter crews to the hangar!"
Spyboy and Heggy salute Abraham, then deploy.
Zinda Tegram: "Time to go to work then."
Zinda Tegram saunters down.
ExecutiveOfficer: "Opening jump point now. Transition in five, four, thr-ALL STOP EMERGENCY ALL STOP!"
Zinda Tegram: "Hey Kali, can you at least make yourself useful as an operator?"
Zinda Tegram: "The back seat hasn't been getting run."
Abraham: "What's the problem XO?"
Kali: "I can try."
Zinda Tegram: "Thanks."
Spyboy checks the Roland's scanners.
ExecutiveOfficer: "SIR! Er…sir! Good thing I got in the habit of scanning jump points after our recent encounter. Bringing it up on screen."
[OOC] Abraham: Still waiting for Unicron to show up.
At first, the picture looks standard. The tunnel through the jump point, perhaps a little less dilated…then the picture rotates to a "side view" , showing the jump point tunnel pinching off.
ExecutiveOfficer: "If we'd gone in we'd have run right into the walls, sir."
Metis: "That is unusual."
Spyboy: "What the…?"
Abraham: "That is deliberate."
Zinda Tegram leans back in her fighting waiting for launch clearance.
The tunnel pulses, opening wide for a moment, then pinching off again.
Spyboy: "How much clearance is in there?"
Abraham: "So…Options. Is it too closed off for fighters?"
ExecutiveOfficer: "…if it does that again, we can sneak fighters through, but there's no way we're getting the Roland through in time."
Abraham: "How about a probe? Can we get one of Spyboy's probes through?"
ExecutiveOfficer: "Yes, but it won't be able to transmit back."
The tunnel pulses again.
Abraham: "It may not have to. Spyboy. Send in a recorder probe for…two minutes, then have it return so we can view the footage."
ExecutiveOfficer: "…something feels organic about that."
Spyboy: "Aye-aye."
Spyboy launches said probe.
[OOC] Abraham: Subspace… is hungry.
The probe drifts through the third pulse. Two minutes pass, then a third…finally the tunnel pulses again, and the probe's telemetry beams back.
False color images of gravity gradients trace the Grissom system, looking unmistakably like an artery-vein-capillary system, with the planets and sun as major nodes, linking off to the other two jump points.
Spyboy: "Oh, dear."
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Does Zinny get ze telemetry?
[OOC] WC GM: All fighters aboard get copies, yeah.
[OOC] WC GM: If the pilots are downloading it - and most of them are.
Zinda Tegram: "…What the hell…?"
Zinda Tegram stops and thinks.
Spyboy: "…..wait, what?"
Radio traffic emanates from the University of Grissom, standard distress beacon frequencies and automated broadcasts.
Spyboy: "Trouble confirmed…."
Spyboy skims through the distress beacons.
The jump point stations are shot through with holes - bent, where the gravity veins go through them. There is no sign of power or life aboard.
Abraham: "Yes. Okay, thoughts people. The Grissom system has apparently decided to become a life form."
Zinda Tegram: "…Talk with it, and if that fails…where's the heart?"
The distress beacons are Confederation standard, about what would be expected after several days when no help is anticipated but no point is seen in turning the beacons off.
Zinda Tegram: "…Is anyone alive planetside?"
Zinda Tegram: "Fucking hell…OK, so uh, that means the jump points are…respiratory?"
Zinda Tegram: "Is anything coming out?"
Kali: "Can't tell from here. We'd have to get over to the planet."
Abraham: "Is there any evidence it's spreading?"
Spyboy: "It's not impossible that this IS spreading."
Spyboy: "From White, or from Chandley."
ExecutiveOfficer: "What Spyboy said. Fortunately there's no sign of it entering Armstr-oh I hate it when I'm wrong this quickly…"
ExecutiveOfficer: "Sir. Measuring the jump point, the point of contraction is, in fact, very slowly moving up."
ExecutiveOfficer: "At this rate I estimate it'll fully reach the Armstrong side in a week."
ExecutiveOfficer: "And then…well, no idea what happens once it's past, but if it turns Armstrong into something like that…"
Spyboy: "Sir, I recommend…I recommend we deploy a recon team via fighters. We need eyes and minds on the ground."
ExecutiveOfficer: "If we can't stop whatever this is before then, I'd advise evacuating Armstrong - except, if we can't stop this, there are only so many systems we can fall back to."
Abraham: "I agree. And since our ability to send information will be hampered, I will be going with you."
ExecutiveOfficer: "Mu Cephei and Oldziey would be our last stands in less than a month."
Zinda Tegram: "…Then we kill it."
ExecutiveOfficer: "The pulsing appears to be regular. I'd say no more than three fighters can safely get through per cycle. Shall I queue up backup to come in after you?"
Abraham: "Since there's no evidence that there is a sentience to reason with, or even if there's anything such a sentience could do even if it existed, I am forced to agree. This is not the traditional definition, but this is an invasive organism."
Metis: "Killing it may be problematic."
Spyboy: "We'll find out once we're there."
Abraham: "Yes. Even if we do kill it and stop it from spreading, what do we do with the, and I use the term loosely, body?"
Spyboy: "We need more information."
Abraham: "We need /a lot/ more information."
Abraham: "Yes, XO, cue a backup squad."
ExecutiveOfficer: "Yes, sir. Volunteers only for this mission."
Zinda Tegram: "So, we launch then?"
Spyboy: "Sounds about right. Overwatch One, moving to launch position."
Abraham: "We launch. First wave will be Spyboy, Zinda, and myself. Metis, will you go with Zinda?"
Metis: "Yes."
Spyboy: "Demon, recommend we loiter until the Admiral can launch - I take it back, Metis wants to ride with you and Grandma."
ExecutiveOfficer: "Overwatch One, you have launch clearance. Will transmit timing information once your squadron's in position."
Spyboy: "Copy that. Launching."
ExecutiveOfficer: "Sterne Lanze, be advised you have a passenger inbound."
[OOC] Spyboy: I'm particularly proud of the Grandma comment. Fortunately, WC found a loophole in the 'GMPC' setup.
[OOC] WC GM: I've been finding loopholes all campaign long. :P
[OOC] WC GM: The big thing is to not let them get in the way of the PCs' awesomeness.
Abraham makes his way to the launch bay and gets in his fighter.
[OOC] Spyboy: Well, you can forget to have Kali talk and write it off as 'that part is temporarily suppressed.'
Spyboy maneuvers in front of the Roland, Big Dish pointed down the warp tunnel.
[OOC] WC GM: And/or Kali is looking around.
From this vantage point, Spyboy can easily replicate the Roland's sensor findings. Yeah, that was way too close.
ExecutiveOfficer: "Rico, you have launch clearance. Sterne Lanze, you are clear once your passenger is on board."
Metis: "Passenger is on board and strapped in."
Abraham: "Launch."
Zinda Tegram: "Time to go then."
Zinda Tegram launches.
Given the distance, Heggy is actually right on the dividing line between jump point tunnel and normal space, though it is a mathematical distinction.
Spyboy: "This is Overwatch One to Green Leader. Big Mike, I'm trusting you to have my back. Don't do anything stupid and get killed, right?"
BigMike: "Roger that. We'll line up to come through next."
[OOC] Spyboy: I assume 'Rico' is Abraham?
[OOC] WC GM: Yep
[OOC] Abraham: It is.
Spyboy: "Spyboy to Rico, we've got the navigation data about as perfect as we can. We're ready to go as soon as you and Demon are formed up."
ExecutiveOfficer: "Next opening is estimated in fifty-eight seconds."
Abraham: "Let's go then."
Spyboy: "Heggy, that's a go."
ExecutiveOfficer: "I advise getting inside the mouth, but stay at least a meter from the walls."
The jump point tunnel ripples.
Abraham: "Roger."
ExecutiveOfficer: "…it's early. Ready thrusters!"
Heggy punches.
[OOC] Abraham: Spousal abuse!
The tunnel peels open in front of Heggy and Spyboy.
ExecutiveOfficer: "GO!"
Abraham thrusts.
Engines at max cycles and max distance, Overwatch leaps through the tunnel.
[OOC] WC GM: Sterne Lanze goes through too, I assume?
Spyboy: "….This….is very nerve-wracking."
[OOC] Abraham: <Heggy> "You want to swap seats?"
As soon as the three ships arrive in Grissom, Spyboy forgets about his nervousness and glues his brain to every sensor feed he can get…even the ones that he's not supposed to have access to on Abraham's and Zinda's fighters.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Zinda does.
Zinda Tegram: "Kali, what are we looking at?"
The tunnel ripples, contracting early - the rearguard Sterne Lanze's shields actually intersect the tunnel wall, collapsing instantly; fortunately, the fighter itself scoots through to safety…barely.
[OOC] Metis: Will the shields come back as normal, or are they actually damaged?
Grissom System. To the naked eye, all looks fine, though that jump point station has more holes than swiss cheese. Overlaying the false-color gravity gradients shows a dense but navigable maze.
[OOC] WC GM: They'll come back.
Zinda Tegram: "Geeze…"
Zinda Tegram frowns. "If this is a capillary, then…where's the blood?"
Kali: "You tell me. Astrobiology is a new field for me."
[OOC] Abraham: So…I knew eventually Hastur would make it into the game.
Close inspection reveals traces of dust being pumped through the gradients. Bursts appear to be irritating the jump point tunnel, causing its expansions and collapses.
The sun, all the planets, and the major asteroid clumpings are node points for the system - possibly the source of the dust.
Abraham: "Someone take a closer look at that dust. Is it possible this is another nanite situation?"
[OOC] Metis: What do the scanners say about the dust?
Spyboy dispatches the drone and starts plotting a course to the planet that fails to intersect any of the gravity strings.
The dust does not appear to have energy signatures of its own.
Spyboy: "If the dust is nanites, they're unpowered."
But close examination shows energy signs akin to the jump points in the gravity traces - almost like the jump points had been extended to form this jumble.
Spyboy: "….or…ugh, this place is hurting my brain."
Abraham: "Stay frosty, Spyboy. Is it possible this was caused by some kind of mechanical failure or sabotage of the jump points?"
Spyboy: "Mechanical failure, causing a problem on this scale? I can't see how. Sabotage? That's another matter."
Spyboy: "If so, that finger is pointing squarely at the Nephilim."
Abraham: "I always give optimism a chance."
Spyboy: "Though…Crest could be involved, or this could be a side effect of the experiments that the Kilrathi scientists are doing."
Getting near the University is easy enough: avoid the major connectors, and open space is free space. The planet's surface has many craters, with rocks hoisted occasionally and being crushed into dust before feeding into the main system.
Abraham: "Okay, is it possible that this is the result of some university experiment gone wrong?"
Zinda Tegram: "Anyone alive down there?"
Spyboy: "Possible, yes. Unlikely, but possible. If they had found something on White that could cause effects on this scale…then they'd be keeping quiet."
Edward: "This is University Chancellor Edward Cullingham. Are my sensors reading correctly? Has someone arrived in orbit?"
Spyboy: "…And there we have an answer for Zinda's question."
Abraham: "This is Admiral Abraham Bounty of The Roland. What is your situation?"
The backup team should have arrived by now, but the jump point has not pulsed again in all the time it took to get to the planet.
Edward: "Oh thank goodness! Err, pardon, our sensors are only reading three fighters in orbit, not the Roland - but if you got through…"
Edward: "Our planet is being looted for mass!"
Spyboy: "….and that would explain it."
Edward: "Some kind of tractor beam or something. Multiple impacts all around our planet. We're keeping the survivors clear, but we're getting low on supplies - this never was an agricultural planet."
Spyboy: "….that would explain everything except how, and the 'how' would be Nephilim tech…"
Spyboy looks for a directedness to the dust. Where are they headed?
The dust seems to be being channeled into the three jump points. Without getting close, likely inside, the other two it is impossible to tell what purpose the White and Chandley jump points' exits are.
Zinda Tegram: "…So, you were attacked?"
Zinda Tegram: "Oh, excuse me. This is Queen Tegram of Oldziey."
Edward: "…"
Zinda Tegram: "…"
Edward: "…Admiral Abraham's voiceprint checks out."
Edward: "But Queen of Oldziey? You're just messing with me."
Edward: "This is no time for pranks."
Abraham: "That's good to know. I've grown rather attached to my voiceprint."
Zinda Tegram: "Just answer the question."
Edward: "We don't know if this was an attack, a side-effect of the experiments on White, or what."
[OOC] Abraham: Now when Metis introduces herself, she has to do so as 'Princess Metis'.
Spyboy frowns.
[OOC] WC GM: Because every little girl wants to be a princess, right?
[OOC] Metis: I don't think Zinda has had a chance to secure Metis in the succession.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Cute~
[OOC] Abraham: Utena says otherwise.
Zinda Tegram: "…Did the gravity waves enter from any particular jump point or what?"
Edward: "Gravity waves?"
Edward: "You mean the tractor beams? They knocked our long range sensors offline in their first strike."
[OOC] Abraham: They're what gravity does at football games.
Edward: "We don't know where they're coming from."
Spyboy: "They're leading into all three jump points, which is problematic, since they're what's causing the erraticism of the Armstrong point."
Spyboy: "…I recommend sending the drone through the Chandley point; if there's anything on that side, it'll be able to spot it and…maybe it'll be able to return."
Edward: "Erraticism? We figured there was a reason no one's come from Armstrong in a while."
[OOC] Abraham: Spyboy, I have once again underestimated your capacity for understatement.
Zinda Tegram: "The entire system looks like…well, here's the telemetry."
Zinda Tegram: "It looks alive, so I'm trying to figure out where to bomb."
Edward: "Receiving…well, you're certainly from Oldziey judging by the quality of these scans…"
Kali: "HEY! Don't insult the nice people who are here to save your hides."
Edward: "…voiceprint identified as Admiral Kali. Err. Admirals, has Armstrong been affected too?"
Spyboy: "Not yet."
Abraham: "Beyond making the jump point… problematic… to get through… no."
Zinda Tegram: "I'd advise you not to test me."
Edward: "Oh! I should probably have mentioned this sooner, but Dakka's carrier crashed nearby. We're harboring the survivors. Dakka took a small squad to White to investigate; we haven't heard back."
Zinda Tegram: "…god dammit…"
Edward: "If you need spare parts - err, mind the tractor beams, but if you can land safely we can service your fighters."
Spyboy: "They haven't taken any damage yet. We should be fine…for now."
Zinda Tegram: "I will keep that in mind. Can you put me in touch with any survivors from your astronomy department?"
Abraham: "Though we will remember your kind offer."
Spyboy: "Admiral, I recommend we make a pass by the Chandley jump point, just to rule that out, land on the planet for a breather after, then proceed to White."
Spyboy: "…This is gonna be a long flight, otherwise."
Abraham: "True. We don't even know if this is the source of the phenomena."
Edward: "We've got an Astrophysics department. They cobbled together what sensors we still have. Let me raise them."
[OOC] Abraham: Shads and I have to leave pretty close to logend. Just FYI.
Dean: "Aaastroengineering, this is Dean Dean. I take it I'm speaking to our visitors in orbit?"
[OOC] WC GM: Yeah, driving toward a good logend point.
Abraham: "You are. What do you have for us?"
Edward: "…pardon him. The department's officially titled Astrophysics."
Dean: "Our *engineers* have been trying to figure out what's going on. Thanks for the data set - if I wasn't seeing the craters I'd dismiss this as forgeries."
Zinda Tegram: "We're trying to find the source."
Zinda Tegram: "We know it's not Armstrong, but it is spreading through that jump point."
Dean: "Well, the source would be in White or Chandley, I can tell you that much."
Zinda Tegram: "We also have reason to suspect that the White ring is a wormhole generator, if that information helps at all."
[OOC] WC GM: And yes, that's Mr. Dean, the Dean of Astrophysics/Astroengineering.
Dean: "That's one of the more popular theories. I heard there was some theoretical work out of Collins they were going to put to a test in White."
Zinda Tegram: "Would you care to elaborate?"
Zinda Tegram: "And could operation cause what we're seeing here?"
Dean: "I wish I'd kept more of the details. Apparently there was a publication, or maybe just private messages, from a Professor Wayne - Kilrathi, if you can believe it - that inspired the researchers over in White."
Spyboy: "Yup. Saw that one coming…"
Dean: "The timing's about right."
Zinda Tegram: "…We have met Wayne."
Abraham: "He is… boisterous."
Zinda Tegram: "That is a good word."
Dean: "Sounds like you know more'n I do."
Zinda Tegram: "…Admiral, I believe we should probably follow Dakka, then."
Dean: "Then you also know Admiral Wenser was going to oversee the tests?"
Abraham: "Assuming the White jump point hasn't been sealed like the Armstrong one has."
[OOC] Abraham: Anything more before we go check out the White jump point?
[OOC] Spyboy: I got nuffin.
Zinda Tegram: "…That does not surprise me at all."
Abraham: "Lets at least look at the White jump point then."
Dean: "Good luck. Let us know if there's anything we can do for you."
About the time the party reaches the White jump point is when the neutrino communicators - starting with Zinda's - pipe up. "[The Abrahim demonstrates power expected of the Abrahim…but we fear the Abrahim now deigns to idly mess with us. We can not comprehend the Abrahim's purpose in giving life to the jump points.]"

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