Diplomatic Touch

Day 32, Morning

By morning of the 32nd day, none of the alien scouts are anywhere in sight, all having retreated either a few minutes after Liz captured one of the flying drones in a box, or having hidden themselves during cover of night. With the "crab" machine herds having migrated westwards with Lev and his men, this marks the first day on Splinter with nothing alien and active anywhere in sight of transhuman senses or sensors.

Overnight, most of the Scum have also finished healing to the point where they can actively participate in colony matters again. They're unusually subdued, in a somewhat grumbling way, possibly because of having received a stern talking to the day before that they don't have an effective, meme-laden reprisal to. This actually means that they stay focused on their work for once, though, and they predict, on the occasions Thanat's trolling manages to coax a response out of them, that by the next gate opening they'll have something valuable to export back to Sol.

The last dregs of the crude alien oil/tar substance have also been pumped out of the underground chambers, into Lahmia's prepared silo.

(OOC: Being extremely dense in complex organic molecules, the "alien oil" is worth +6 Resource points, already added to the Splinter page)

Sameera and Lime have packed up and set off for the islands in the bay, with Sameera grumbling over geological anomalies and Lime seeming eager, or about as eager as they ever get, to explore a new biome.

The first trickle of data from the Terragen survey team has also started arriving, much of it's still raw and unprocessed, but there are still some early observations: the rest of the system seems somewhat empty, so far the portable observatory hasn't detected any astronomical bodies of planetary size or above. Secondly, the observatory is experience some trouble with the local atmosphere, at some angles where it should be getting a good view, atmospheric haze is interfering more than expected. The Terragen team is still trying to figure out if it's an issue with their gear or if there's actually something up with the atmosphere, and if so, if there's a pattern to it. They're also hoping to spot the eclipse-causing body that the team spotted in their first days on Silverwheel.

Some of the refugees have also started trailing after Biff and Zap during their normal daytime adventures(mostly consisting of tanning, flexing and lifting) and asking them further questions about Ultimate philosophy. It seems like it may be catching on.

Day 32, Noon

It's around noon when Lahmia, Arianhod and Thanat arrive in the mountains where Liz, the Terragen team and the ruin-filled lake are located. By this point the autominer is mostly out of sight amid a hazy cloud of stone dust, making a ferocious racket as it grinds up raw stone and ore, separates them into roughly-purified piles, and then compresses the piles into handy bricks of feedstock matter. Currently it's pinging out over the mesh that it's detective a cave system about another hundred meters down, and whether to just slam right into it or to avoid it.

Arianhod

Letting the chopper's ALI handle the landing, Arianhod gets out and stretches. No crashes on as simple a trip as it gets, so that's good. «Liz, where you at? Your Galatea's in the GEV if you want it. Let's get our new little friend inside there and jam a COT where the sun don't shine.»

/ 2 more rez to bring Pilot:Air to 40, total /

Thanat

Letting Lahmia handle the landing, Thanat gets out and stretches. No crashes on as simple a trip as it gets, Lahmia's just that good. «Liz, I prepared your Galatea in the GEV if you want it, all freshly oiled and ready to go. Too bad nobody had fractal digits on hand at L&R last time, could've jammed them into that machine.»

Thanat looks around slowly.

«So uh, mountains. Nice…»

«Are we going back now?»

«We're not staying long, are we?»

Arianhod

«We need to decide what to do about the caves, or if we want to drill in a shaft and send bots down there. We should also put an aerostat up here to keep radio contact when we eventually move beyond it. Also, let's start looking through the ruin. Lahm? Can you have Buer start making the rounds of the place?»

«Also Thanat, now that we have a steady supply of material, have we considered a rail system from the gate to the colony? We could even hit up L&R for a GEV level nuclear battery and an engine kit so we can start airlifting feedstock to the gate, build a railstation there, and build the rail south»

Thanat

«I'm not about to decide anything geological, Sameera's here for that. We can just ping her for her opinion when the relay's up.»

«Not sure about rail, I'll have to check the feedstocks in detail. It's a big thing, y'know. Especially if we're not just doing rail but also a bridge to dodge the spider bots, and vehicles that go on the rail. Better wait until Sameera deploys the other autominers and we're done building up exowombs and whatever the fuck else.»

Thanat sets the GEV's fabber to print yet another relay aerostat, with the materials generously gathered by the autominer so far.

Arianhod

«Good thinking

@Sameera, yeah, so, pros and cons of drilling into the cave system here? I'm thinking we should try to breach and explore it first and sent in an exobot, idea for doing that?»

Day 32, Noon

Sameera replies to Arianhod from somewhere off the coast: «Pros: It could let the autominer get deeper faster. There's no guarantee, especially with the weird geology around here, but a lot of interesting elements tend to be heavy enough not to be in the topmost crust, so it could be profitable. Cons: The cave system looks a bit too regular that I feel safe saying it's a natural formation. If the autominer crashes through the roof of an active indigenous facility, we could see reprisals, we know they're armed, after all, and the autominer isn't exactly an offensive weapon. If you want to take that risk, I'd say recall the autominer once it nears the caves and plant explosive charges to blow through. That way if anyone's inside, they won't be in any state to protest about what we're doing.»

The team also gets pinged by their Gate Security squad. «Colony council, we've got a situation at the gate.» The camera view is an static camera on the nearby prefab, viewing the gate and its immediate environs, the gate security team is taking up firing positions behind barbed wire earthen berms and barricades made out of the local trees cut down and lashed together. There's a loud hum in the background and several of the gate's limbs are re-arranging themselves. «The gate started warming up about sixty seconds ago. What we can tell from our local systems is that it is not a Love & Rage connection, it also looks geared to slam straight to max gate size once it opens up, so bypassing the usual first-in protocols of probing. My guess? It's either an attack that wants to be able to roll through as fast as possible, or someone running from trouble on an exoplanet who needs to be able to jump through as fast as they can. They're using older protocols, so we should be able to lock them out for a few days at the very least, meaning we don't need to take a risk.» The view shows that the gate aperture has finished configuring itself while the Gate Security commander has been briefing them, they've probably only got a matter of minutes to come to a decision before the gate is ready for someone to arrive.

Arianhod

The / sane, rational / choice is to lock it down. The fact it might be someone running from something (whether their fault or not), is another.

«@GatSec, if they're fleeing they're probably going to be dead soon if it doesn't go through, on the other hand I don't want a tank or whatever rolling through there. Anyway to put a holding cell around it? Channel it in the prefab? At least in that case if its hostile you can put explosives around and in it and turn the building into one giant shrapnel bomb. Let me talk with L&R on qbit and see if they can at least recognize those signatures. Here's hoping its from sol…»

«@Love and Rage: Something is trying to force the gate from our end and its not us: Do you recognize these incoming signals from any particular address?» She sends a compressed data feed of what the gate security team picked up

«@Kinkulon: Oil is ready to go, have the minifac fab the gnats as needed.»

Lahmia

After a long trip of listening to Thanat complain, Lahmia is relaxing by lounging on top of Abraxas. "Buer, go forth," the explorobot rolls out of the GEV and starts making an electromagnetic racket, blasting the surroundings with various waves and lasers.

"So, when do we get to see our guest? I want to set things up so we have somewhere to work."

Day 32, Noon

The response from L&R and Gatesec hit at almost precisely the same time.

«L&R: All we can say is it isn't anyone who's ever registered a connection to your gate before, or at least haven't done so publicly. Do what seems right to you, Silverwheel, you're responsible for your colony, that's the best advice we can give.»

«GateSec: We could try… but if we damage the gate with explosives, there's no telling if it'll go offline, or for how long. We could be stuck here for a year or more with no Sol-side contact. One hundred and twenty seconds till the gate is stable enough for someone to pass through.»

Kinkulon, meanwhile, is completely unaware of the brewing crisis. "Finally, took you long enough, this is like when I submitted my research grant application to the University of Titan for my seminal paper on the properties of the transhuman anus in zero gravity. It took them over a year to get back to me, can you imagine that?" He keeps talking.

In the background, Buer is rolling on to the frozen lake which prompts a moment of comical confusion from the machine as it adjusts to the suddenly reduced friction. Initial scans as he rolls across the ice suggest that the lake is likely frozen all the way to the bottom, but also that it shouldn't be, ambient air temperatures should be leaving the lake thawed, and the topmost centimeter seems to be constantly thawing and refreezing, producing an extremely low-friction surface. The ice is largely translucent, and while the bottom of the lake is out of view, there are suggestions of large structures wholly frozen below. Not all of them seem to be connected, either, giving a suggestion of a bunch of separate structures suddenly dropped into water which froze before they could hit the bottom, rather than one large building intentionally submerged. Buer is carefully approaching the nearest above-ice segment, looking for ways in.

Arianhod

On the 1% chance it was humanitarian, Arianhod decided it was worth a risk. Via mental acceleration, she puts together and emergency plan «Take up defensive firing positions, drop all your explosives in front of the gate. The second it comes through, order whatever it is coming through to surrender in every goddamn language we know, if it doesn't to it, light it up if I don't give a differing command.»

She turns around to the gate crew. "GET BACK IN THE VEHICLES, NOW, GRAB THE BOT, BRING BUER, THE GATE IS HOT. We need to get there as soon as possible.""

/ Military Ops: 1d100-65: -35 [1d100=30] Superior success! /

Thanat

«Gate's opening is going to be huge, you should explode whatever comes through first, and then we'll interrogate the cortical stacks. Safer that way.»

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