Session 7 3

The university's feed will take a while to fully send. Apparently, they do not know how to compress thousands of years of civilization into a single searing burst of revelation.
[OOC] Spyboy: Ugh. Well, no wonder it's a late game Secret Project.
Zinda Tegram leans back.
[OOC] WC GM: Given as it's a very few steps from there to game over, win or lose? "Late game" is right.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: SMAC reference?
[OOC] WC GM: Yep. Voice of Planet.
[OOC] WC GM: Couldn't resist. ^_^;
The Nephilim send nothing further, apparently absorbing the information as it is sent.
Spyboy proceeds on an intercept course, hopefully only lagging a bit after the diversion towards the Chandley jump point.
[OOC] Abraham: So they're not just converting it to a number and making a scratch on a stick to be decoded later?
[OOC] WC GM: Spyboy: intercepting who?
[OOC] WC GM: You can't see into their cockpits, but given their observed modus operandi, sticks like that are probably not involved.
[OOC] Spyboy: Intercepting the rest of the group.
[OOC] WC GM: Given as the rest of the group is just hanging around the White jump point, this is easy enough.
It takes about an hour for Spyboy to rendezvous. The Nephilim are still reading.
Zinda Tegram: "…"
[OOC] Spyboy: What is our ETA to the White jump point?
Edward: "The index has transmitted. How long are you planning to be in-system? It will take many days to transmit our entire archive."
[OOC] WC GM: You're there. The others were already there; that hour was for you to join them.
Heggy maneuvers directly in front of the jump point, taking care to avoid any of the sharper gravity gradients.
Zinda Tegram: "Uh…we plan to head out soon but I'm sure your new students will uh…"
Zinda Tegram: "Well, they can probably hang around longer."
Spyboy will focus on every reading the big dish on his fighter can make out about the jump point. Heggy will watch for anything that might be a threat…
Spyboy: "We'll leave a…stealth drone…to retransmit. Thanks for the upload, Chancellor."
It takes a few minutes to get the timing of the jump point's pulses down, but Spyboy gets a good enough idea of when the group can push through safely.
Edward: "Alright. Will these new students be able to talk to us?"
Zinda Tegram: "…Probably not."
Zinda Tegram: "Or, rather, uh…we might be able to arrange it but please understand that they will have a rather…unique perspective and set of objectives."
Zinda Tegram: "The Nihilism is strong in these ones."
Spyboy: "Just so…"
Edward: "Ah. Would you like us to try to get them to see a different philosophy?"
Zinda Tegram: "That would probably be for the best, yes."
Zinda Tegram: "Also, they may have an uncomfortable tendency to, uh…deify humanity."
Edward: "…do I want to know who these students are?"
Zinda Tegram: "Probably not."
Edward: "I'll just assume they are grad students speaking to faculty, then."
Zinda Tegram: "Thank you."
[OOC] WC GM: So - what stealth drone are you preparing? And is it then off to White?
Zinda Tegram: "…Also, if it becomes an issue and we need to formally enroll them, uh…"
Edward: "We'll bill you for the tuition, don't worry."
Zinda Tegram: "Thank you. Also, uh…do you have a discount for suspected hive minds? I'm not too sure how many of them there are."
Zinda Tegram: "And…well, it may get a bit expensive."
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: …I am laughing.
[OOC] Spyboy: The stealth drone is the fact that the Nephilim will - or may - still be here and be able to listen to the transmission.
Edward: "…I would ask if you are joking but we are in the middle of something that was supposed to be impossible."
Zinda Tegram: "I am sorry. On the plus side, I can promise you that they didn't cause the current incident."
[OOC] Spyboy: The 'stealth drone' thing was a blatant lie to hide the fact that one of the most feared factions in known space is in fact in the system and we're not doing anything about it.
Edward: "Umm. Well. If they are truly a single hive mind then I suppose we could enroll them as one student, and charge a single student's tuition. If they are indeed all one."
Zinda Tegram: "…Probably."
Edward: "I see."
Zinda Tegram: "They actually thought we did it."
Edward: "You didn't, I assume?"
Zinda Tegram: "Not to our knowledge, though."
Zinda Tegram: "My personal guess is something went wrong with that ring world."
Edward: "I can believe it. Then again, given what they turn up routinely, I could believe a lot of things coming out of there."
Zinda Tegram: "Yes, indeed. Umm…You probably don't have one of those, uh…I can tell them to listen to radio but I'm not sure they will."
Zinda Tegram: "Sorry I'm thinking over how to enable them to…ask questions."
Spyboy: "I'm sure they will. They watch. I'm not sure if the'll actually ask any questions, but we know they have the capability…"
Edward: "How are you contacting them, if not by radio?"
[OOC] Abraham: BRB
Zinda Tegram: "That's classified I'm afraid."
Zinda Tegram: "I'm sure some of your Lago students could probably figure it out, but for now let's just try to get them to use radio."
[OOC] Spyboy: Not how I was gonna phrase it, but what I was gonna say anyway =p
Spyboy: "[Strange to see Zinda happy to keep secrets…]"
[OOC] Spyboy: Speaking of keeping secrets…
Zinda Tegram: "[Hey, you guys. We have a facility on that planet that can probably help you with your problem, but uh…]"
Spyboy slips into the Nephilim network and hunts around to see if they do, in fact, have EM radio capability.
Zinda Tegram: "[You're going to have to actually speak to them. Do you have radios?]"
Zinda Tegram: "[We do not have the infrastructure to use Neutrinos.]"
Nephilim: "[We had noticed radio traffic. Is it the same as what you have been transmitting?]"
Zinda Tegram: "[…More or less. It would probably be best to communicate using those EM frequencies.]"
These Nephilim do indeed have radios. They seem to regard it as standard equipment, at least for anyone flying in Terran or Kilrathi space.
Zinda Tegram: "Oh, finally, I know it's a bit of a pain but…they're sort of idiot savants. Please try to be patient."
Nephilim: "[As you say, so shall we do.]"
[OOC] WC GM: Zinda's line was in open radio?
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Yes.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: For humor value.
Edward: "Hmph. I know academia can be-"
Nephilim: "We shall attempt patience."
Edward: "…eee…"
Zinda Tegram: "…Yeah, uh…hey guys."
Zinda Tegram: "Sorry I told them to use radio."
Edward: "WHAT. THE. HELL."
Edward: "Nephilim?!?"
Edward: "You brought us NEPHILIM as students?"
[OOC] Spyboy: "You can read user tags!?
[OOC] WC GM: They can see video.
Zinda Tegram: "Please try to be…quiet about it."
[OOC] WC GM: Standard transmission includes a pic of the sender's face.
[OOC] Abraham: Back.
Edward: "…not that we can tell anyone like this."
Spyboy: "They brought themselves. Besides, you're on the planet, and they're far away - wouldn't you rather they learn from you this way, rather than on the dissection table?"
Zinda Tegram: "Yes I really think this is better than the…prior arrangement."
Edward: "Uuum. Aheh. You're…sure they are not the ones doing this to our planet?"
[OOC] Spyboy: I'd forgotten about that convention! Man, it's been too long since I played a fighter sim…
Zinda Tegram: "Reasonably."
Spyboy: "Given that they thought it was us…mostly."
Edward: "W-well. I suppose this is a…unique form of diplomacy…"
Heggy: "They were very impressed."
Zinda Tegram: "From what we've been able to figure out, there are a few different…factions."
Edward: "And I suppose no other Terran university can claim to have had Nephilim as students before."
Spyboy: "Not really; it's diplomacy at its most basic, two sides learning about each other in order to facilitate communications."
Spyboy: "[Suddenly I'm not so sure about that, but I suppose any that the Wensers may have attended wouldn't know and so couldn't *claim* it.]"
Edward: "Sir, the number of successful attempts at diplomacy with the Nephilim that we are aware of is precisely zero."
Edward: "If this is at all successful it will therefore be unique."
Zinda Tegram: "That hasn't been the case for a few weeks now…"
Edward: "…alright, the number of UNCLASSIFIED successful attempts."
Zinda Tegram: "But uh… three known factions so far. The ones we had that war with, who seem to not be present, uh…a certain other faction who seems to be trying to integrate into human society who you probably should not bring up and…your students, whom I am sure will offer you their perspective soon."
Spyboy: "[I knew I shouldn't have said that about Zinda and secrets…]"
Zinda Tegram: "[Hey, he actually needs this information.]"
Zinda Tegram: "So, umm…Hey, uh…you guys, you doing OK there?"
Edward: "I see. Well. Nephilim, you are welcome to speak with me at any time. We'll continue our data feed until we run out or you ask us to stop."
Edward: "Our situation has not gotten significantly worse since your arrival."
Zinda Tegram: "That's good. We'll stop back once we've addressed this problematic physics situation, so uh…"
Zinda Tegram: "Please try to babysit them until then. Thanks."
Spyboy: "If it makes you feel better, start keeping a detailed log. If…everything goes sour, then be ready to go to ground and disappear. We'll be back, with the full might of an Admiral of the Confederation behind us."
Zinda Tegram: "And me."
Spyboy: "I'm trying to comfort them, not scare them more."
Edward sighs over the radio. "If I'd known what we were getting into when I insisted we offer free day care for any children of our students and/or faculty…"
Edward: "We already are on the ground. Each minute, there is less ground we can go to."
Zinda Tegram: "Look on the bright side. Your xenopsychology department will be very popular in a few years."
Edward: "…right. I'll look into forming a xenopsychology department, then."
Zinda Tegram: "Hahaha, alright. Michael, are we ready to go?"
Spyboy: "Sequence is…confirmed, with a 1% deviation over the past twenty minutes. Barring a sudden change when the mass of our fighters enters…yeah, we're good to go."
Metis: "How likely is a sudden change?"
Spyboy: "I'd say…very, but hopefully nothing we can't react to. I'm a little worried about sending the drone through, since we have no way of knowing if the point will settle after we go through. The one to Armstrong didn't, after all."
Zinda Tegram: "…Well, it's not gonna get any easier."
Zinda Tegram: "Time to go to work."
Spyboy: "The way I see it, either we all go in as a group to minimize the effect of the changes, or we go in order of worst to best, so that the less skilled pilots have a better chance of responding to the shifts in the wormhole."
Zinda Tegram: "…I'd rather see everyone through alive."
[OOC] Spyboy: Actually, I misspoke…but I can clarify.
Spyboy: "The flip side is we'll be crowding each other if we all go at once. We won't have as much room to maneuver if we need to."
Zinda Tegram: "…Well, it should be fine."
Spyboy: "I sure hope so. I've already rejected three computer simulations of the jump point activity due to inaccuracies. Metis, how about you?"
Metis: "Passing through at once offers the best chance of assisting or rescuing another, as we will all be present. As for the simulations, I cannot acquire the amount of data necessary to form a coherent model."
Zinda Tegram: "…Then let's form up."
Zinda Tegram takes position behind Spyboy.
Spyboy sets up a timer based on the similarities between the models, marking the compression pulses to minimize the danger.
Spyboy: "Admiral, any time you're ready…"
Spyboy waits for the next wave, then times his entry into the jump point until just after the wave hits this end of the transit!
Abraham takes position behind Zinda. "Ready. Let's go."
A pulse, and then the jump point is open briefly. One hurried transition later…
White system. It is one thing to hear about a star that has no planets, no asteroids, nothing but a clearly artificial ring around it. It is quite another to see it - though what Oldziey was becoming is at least similar.
Abraham is recording.
Metis isn't plastered to the windows staring (because that is undignified, and the Stern Lanze doesn't have cockpit windows), but sensors are alert and greedily devouring data.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: With the Lanze's 360 degree cockpit, wouldn't it make more sense to just strain looking in all sorts of directions?
Spyboy is dispassionately studying the scan returns.
Most of the known archaeology camps are still broadcasting beacons. Gravity arteries and veins line the system, in slightly higher concentrations than Grissom - despite there only being the two jump points to link to. The density is higher going toward Chandley, and occasional flashes across the EM spectrum come from that direction, looking a little like something approximating a primitive neural net.
Heggy: "Wow! This is amazing! Have you ever seen anything like it?"
[OOC] WC GM: I think that's what Metis is doing.
[OOC] Metis: Well, yes. But… with dignity.
Zinda Tegram: "Oh boy."
Zinda Tegram: "Chandley, huh?"
On a well-known structure, the camps would be located by function - engineering here, life support there, orbital control over yonder. Alas, the camps were emplaced almost at random, and some abandoned when little of interest was found.
Spyboy looks for any sign of Dakka's presence.
…and then the disc the ring encloses flashes briefly. Through it can be seen an image of another star system. It is gone in two seconds.
Dakka's carrier's beacon broadcasts from one of the camps.
There is, however, no radio traffic.
Zinda Tegram flies on over.
Metis captures and replays the stream, frame by frame. Does the image of the star system correlate with any known star maps?
Spyboy: "Welp, the ring is active, alright…I wonder if it's resonating with the proto-gate in Chandley?"
Dakka's carrier is speared by one of the gravity veins, which seems to have immobilized the carrier then expanded slowly, flensing matter away. It dangles in place above a camp, powered down.
The system on the far side matches no star map in Terran or Kilrathi space.
Zinda Tegram: "Yikes. Any survivors?"
[OOC] WC GM: Broadcast on normal frequencies?
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Yeah.
Zinda Tegram: "This is Zinda Tegram. There any survivors onboard there? Over."
Dakka: "This is Admiral Dakka. You're with Abraham, right? We got everybody off and downstairs."
The signal comes from the camp.
Zinda Tegram: "Ah, Dakka. Alright."
Abraham: "Dakka, this is Abraham. What is your situation?"
Dakka: "Stranded, but glad to hear a friendly voice!"
Dakka: "We were checking out reports of strange energy from the ring when this happened."
Dakka: "How'd you get through the jump point? My boys say they're sealed off."
Abraham: "With difficulty, Admiral. With difficulty. Another story for another time."
Metis stores the image(s) for later analysis.
Dakka: "Well, obviously we need to deal with whatever this is. You think it's the Nephs?"
Abraham: "That would be nice, but probably not."
Metis: "Please send over whatever data you have about this strange energy."
Dakka: "We haven't got much. Since this started up…well, we think the ring might be trying to form a wormhole to somewhere. Maybe wherever the ring builders went."
Dakka: "But it doesn't have power."
Metis: "…and any data about the construction of the Waterloo that is before us, which does not match the construction records logged at Yorktown. …please."
Dakka: "…err. Aheh. Y'noticed, huh?"
Metis: "If I say yes, will you transmit the data?"
Dakka: "Yeaaah, that's the Waterloo 29."
Dakka: "28's back in Grissom. Me and my boys showed up here, we did what we always do: build a new one. This time we had to pull stuff off the ring, 'cause there wasn't anything else."
Spyboy utters a flat what.
Dakka: "I know it ain't standard regulation but by this point it's tradition. 25 served in Chandley."
Zinda Tegram: "…What?"
Metis: "Admiral, may I confiscate the carrier? For analytical reasons?"
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Waterloo?
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: Like, the hotel?
[OOC] WC GM: The battle that ended Napoleon. Yorktowns are named for historical battles.
[OOC] Abraham: Like the Water Park.
[OOC] Spyboy: You may be thinking of Watergate, Zinda.
[OOC] Zinda Tegram: O-oh. Right.
Spyboy maps the pulses, adding them to the map from Grissom, looking to see if there's a center to the system.
Dakka: "Anyway, we found some parts that still seemed to have kind of power, so we, err, 'requisitioned' them. Wasn't long after that that this happened."
[OOC] Spyboy: Shocking.
[OOC] Spyboy: Tells us where the nexus is, though…
The center seems to be roughly located on the White-Chandley jump point.
Metis: "How long ago did this occur?"
Dakka: "One week ago."
This matches up with when White and Grissom went dark.
Dakka: "Good thing we've been able to, err, forage rations for everybody."
[OOC] Metis: Has Dakka transmitted any data yet?
[OOC] Spyboy: Do my records from Grissom indicate a locus at the Chandley point, or is it this point in particular that is/is closest to the center?
Metis: "The way he said 'forage rations' implies that they were not foraging rations."
[OOC] WC GM: Dakka has only sent what he has said.
For some reason, Metis gets an impression that Dakka may be hiding something.
[OOC] WC GM: The Grissom-Chandley point did not seem to be nearly as much of a locus as the White-Chandley point seems to be.
[OOC] WC GM: If that's what you're asking.
[OOC] Metis: Zinda, could you annex the Waterloo?
[OOC] Spyboy: It was, thanks. Though now I have another - was one of the two points in Grissom more dominant than the other, Grissom/Chandley or Grissom/White, or were they about equal?
[OOC] WC GM: For what sense of "dominant"?
[OOC] WC GM: If you mean activity of the gravity veins, about equal.
Metis: "Zinda, if someone is providing deliberately inaccurate data, how do you get them to provide accurate data?"
Spyboy: "[That…hmm. From everything I can tell, the center of the problem is actually AT the jump point between White and Chandley.]"
[OOC] Spyboy: You ask Spyboy. Or get Zinda close enough for the Zinda Paunch, of course.
Zinda Tegram: "Uh, well…depends."
Zinda Tegram: "Is it Dakka?"
Spyboy sends a few pings towards Dakka's crew. Any Integrated in the group?
Zinda Tegram: "Yo Dakka it's fucked up to lie to kids you know."
Spyboy does not detect any Integrated in the camp Dakka is broadcasting from.
Dakka: "Kids? You're bringing kids into this?"
Zinda Tegram: "She's my daughter man. Don't lie to her…"
Zinda Tegram: "She can tell you are, y'know."
Zinda Tegram: "I mean hell, even Kali…"
Zinda Tegram: "Hey Kali say hello."
Dakka: "Fine, we manufactured rations."
Metis: "From?"
Kali: "Hello Dakka. If Wenser is here too, we'll be reunited."
Dakka: "…the Ring."
Zinda Tegram: "…Go on."
Metis takes a long look at the ring. "…it is edible?"
Dakka: "What? It's got all the basic nutrients you need. It took some conversion, sure, and it wasn't the tastiest, but it's keeping the researchers fed."
There is no sign of agriculture, hydroponics, or anything edible in the Ring's structure.
Zinda Tegram: "…What're you using to convert it?"
Metis: "But… if the ring is edible… and the carrier is made from the ring… then…"
Metis: "Are ships… food?"
Dakka: "…if that's a kid, I know that tone. No, we can't make the entire Ring into ice cream for you. Besides, you'd get indigestion."
Dakka: "Before you even made it through a thousandth of a percent."
Zinda Tegram: "Metis, no, he's probably just messing with the sub-atomic structure somehow."
Zinda Tegram: "I dunno Dakka, she can eat alot."
Zinda Tegram: "Also, I'm not sure she even can get indigestion."
[OOC] Metis: and never gain an ounce.
[OOC] Metis: Robot digestion.
Dakka: "We set up a little convertor, cobbled it together. Same way we reshaped stuff to make 29 up there."
Dakka: "Should've known not to mess with alien power sources like that."
Zinda Tegram: "…Go on."
Metis: "…are you experiencing some kind of difficulty?"
Dakka: "What? You see the results. We didn't catalog the original form so we can't just unconvert it."
Dakka: "Yeah, some kind of difficulty. We don't know what we pulled out. We messed up, okay? Now we've gotta figure out how to fix it."
Spyboy sighs.
Zinda Tegram: "So, you did cause our…gravity field problem?"
Metis: "Please transmit all pertinent data. So that we can assist you. Now. Please."
Dakka: "…fine. FINE. Here's our schematics. Just don't blab it all over the sector, please." There is a concentrated burst - but Spyboy and Metis are easily able to capture and decode it.
Spyboy sets up an encrypted network between the fighters with which to display the schematic.
Metis: "[DATA!]"
Metis happily consumes… erm… analyzes the data.
The nanofabricators are one thing. Remote power - autonomous guidance - knowing Metis's frame, these designs look a little primitive.
But it is the title that immediately captures the eye: "DAKKA MAXIMIZER" .

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