Exploration Log


Day 2, Approximately Noon

As the GEV backs away, the mechanical spiders start to follow, tracking it for several kilometers until, at some seemingly arbitrary boundary between the savannah and the jungle biomes, they simply stop, watching it from the tall grass before fading back into it. The huge crab-shaped machine they'd seen on the horizon has gotten somewhat closer during this, and the party can now see that the tall grass around it is crawling with more spiders of various configurations. They give a sense of the self-organizing chaos of an animal herd, rather than something with a strict command hierarchy. Several times they watch spiders bumping into each other and having brief face-offs before one seems to back down and they continue about their way.

Once the GEV is out of whatever zone the spiders seem to feel comfortable staying within, the herd adjusts its course so that it will be passing close by, but south of the GEV and its crew.

The exploration so far, aided by the scouting from Liz's Gnat, has helped the party broaden their geographical knowledge of the area.

The red dotted line is the area that brief observation will reveal the spiders to stay within, the PoI on the sandy peninsula is the approximate location of the lights that Liz saw during the night. The PoI to the southwest is the approximate location that the railgun shot came from.


"That was certainly a thing…I suggest we keep trying to head down to the coast, circumvent the crabs by going over water if needed, check out that island to the south east, and continue on to the south east point."


Thanat shrugs with all eight of his limbs. "We're going to hit all those points of interest anyway, the order in which we do so doesn't matter all that much."


"Well, yes. But south east, south west to explore the probably launch site, and then whatever the hell those things up north are, and remember, the gate opens in 12 days."


"After a relatively brief examination of our assets, I have come to the conclusion that until a colony is properly establshed, I am… less than useful." Liz declared from her place in the GEV's mesh.

"That being said-" She continued, and from elsewhere there was a muted hum and clank of the GEV cargo section yawning open. "I refuse to be useless." She pushed an AR overview of her Guardian Angel's schematics as well as adding it to their TacNet. It's Sentry ALI replied back with an oddly charming professional salutation as well.

When the drone flit off into the air to help keep an eye on things, Liz continued. "I refuse to be useless. I will maintain reconissance and aerial observation of our surroundings." She retreated from puppeting her Gnat as she said that, trusting to run both devices via entopic commands.

As she was doing that, she queried the GEV mesh as to their feedstock. "I also have an idea…"

Day 2, Evening

By the time the GEV hits the coast, it's evening time and Liz has had a chance to get acquainted with the GEV's feedstock situation. There's enough ferrous and carbon feedstock for various small replacement parts for repair jobs, and a solid supply of organic feedstock for producing food, small chemistry experiments and spare parts for biomorphs.

The coastline consists mostly of a wide, sandy beach, littered with washed-up empty shells and the local seaweed, both alive with various types of seaborne arthropod. The sea itself still looks calm, the weather on this day much like the one before, with a few light clouds and otherwise little activity in the sky… perfect circumstances for sailing. The GEV splashes into the surf and, after a few perilous moments where it feels like it's going to sink, the massive vehicle bobs to the surface and is set on a course to the southeast, towards the island revealed by Liz's surveillance.

Even at a distance, it looks densely overgrown, with not a single inch of shoreline or dirt visible around the edges.

Being on the surface, the party sees little of Splinter's sealife except when it breaches the waves. Somewhere far to the east, at the edge of their vision in the open water, something huge and serpentine reveals its coils before diving again, and Liz's view from the air shows that the deeper water is populated by many large shadows. The coastal regions, where the GEV is, however, seems mostly hope to extremely colourful corals and other bottom-dwelling life, little that actually swims or floats.

Hull sensors report that the water is about as saline as Terran lake water, little in common with any of Earth's great oceans, and slightly more alkaline than would be expected from a large body of water.


"EEEEE, megafauna! Use that to advertise this place, I'm sure we'll have xenobiologists swarming to get here…and probably some big game hunter Ultimate types."


"Sea monsters! What treasures they must hold beneath the briny-" the water analysis pops up on her display, "err, the alkaline depths!"


Perhaps, Liz thinks- She'll start an XP travelogue. The GEV was not roomy enough for both herself and her Muse to run concurrently, but there was a plethora of meshed devices onhand to get around that. Quietly partitioning off some lower priority meshware to run her assistant, Liz contents herself with her idle project. While hardly a cinematographer or even basic nature enthusiast, it was easy enough to record from her Gnat and Angel robots, streaming their feeds back to the GEV as well as tacitly piping the explorer vehicle's own sensory feeds into her XP archive.

The beaches do a lot of the work for her- scenic vistas that for most are only possible in lavish VR sims based on ancient recycled sensorium data from Earth. Flitting out over the water, far enough that the GEV's passing does to add to the waves, Liz watches the shadows move underwater, gathering that for more XP reel.

Maybe she'd finally take that class on film and documentary studies…?

Day 2, Evening

Up close, something's odd about the small island as the GEV approaches. The waves don't seem to be lapping along its shores so much as the island seems to be rising and sinking with the waves, like it's bouyant but anchored enough to not float away into open water. It's hard to tell if it'd be able to support the GEV, or whether it'd sink, if they attempted to drive it ashore. The island's flora appears to be a mixture of the dark green foliage they've already seen on land and lighter-green, thinner-leaved plants that mostly make up the undergrowth.

Liz's perpetual surveillance sees no large life on the island, though it's absolutely crawling with smaller creatures, most of them bioluminescing faintly in the twilight of the evening. It looks like primarily unshelled molluscs, reminiscent of Terran sea slugs, some of which occasionally slip over the side of the island and into the sea. The GEV has also started attracting some attention from the local life as it gets close to the GEV, something boneless and mostly-translucent the size of a chimpanzee is making its way up the windshield, climbing pseudopod over pseudopod, occasionally pausing to re-orient itself. It has no visible eyes, orifices or other external structures.

As the light fades from the sky and the alien stars start crowding in again, Liz also spots the lights on the southern horizon once more. Being that much closer, the rest of the party can also see them from ground level now, though not as clearly as Liz can. The lights appear to be at sea level, or very close to it.


"Hmmm…" Liz's voice is surprisingly pleasant despite it's inherently cool register. "We are nearing our preliminary destination."

Ordering her two drones to range out a bit further, the AGI continued to record XP feed as well. She made a point to also start snapping still images of the starfields and bioluminescent biology all around them. The GEV bobs in the water, a bit more firmly as it starts crossing over submerged sandbars and similar topographical features underwater.


Arianhod makes notes of all the flora and fauna they see. "Why is the island doing that? Let's not get closer until we find out. We're going to need some aquatic drones next time Sol calls, but they might get eaten…oh well. Let's proceed to the 'lighthouse'."


"Maybe it's not an island, but another giant creature that's hibernating. Or a colony of smaller ones. Something we'll have to study, and see how safe it is."


"Of course, I just want to make the first question something other than 'Let's see what happens when we ram it and drive over it.'"

(Arianhod wants to avoid the island for now and continue sailing south until we get one hex north of the "lighthouse", land, and drive the rest of the way.)

Day 3, Dawn

The GEV makes smooth progress along the calm water through the night, even though its exterior seems to attract a lot of odd, sometimes brightly-coloured, all seemingly boneless, sea-creatures that explore its nooks and crannies, occasionally getting into loud fights on the hull. Thankfully the windshield wipers don't get clogged up by the resulting slime and gore. The GEV's sonar also picks up vague, shark-sized moving signatures in the depths during the night, though they never get close enough to the GEV for a clear resolution and vanish back into the deeper sea as daylight comes. Night brings no visible moons or other interesting objects in orbit, so it's another clear, starless sky, though it starts to cloud over as dawn approaches.

Daylight, when it comes, is filtered through low-hanging, dark-grey clouds that rattle a heavy rain off the GEV's hull and wind which whips up the sea, dropping the exterior temperature to 15 Celsius before accounting for windchill.

After several false starts, Arianhod manages to make the GEV climb a soggy beach that seems intent on swallowing the vehicle's tires whole, climbing into the dunes beyond which are made no easier to navigate by the rain. As the GEV crests the first large dune, however, they get a view of their "lighthouse" to the south…

It looks like a port facility of some sort, with several long, low piers stretching into the sea, broad avenues and long, flat structures designed around hexagonal symmetries. The compound is separated from land by a wide moat that appears to have once been bridged, but now only the start and end sections of the bridge remains. Even at a distance, it's visible that the roofs of several of the structures have collapsed, in one case with verdant greenery bursting from the opening in all directions. Liz's airborne view reveals that the place seems to have more canals than roads, most of them still containing water, and that some of the buildings with collapsed roofs appear to extend some distance underground.

There's no sign of any movement or activity in the place.

Abraxas' automated nomenclature generator suggests the name "London" for the site, indicating correlations between being coastal and decaying to make the name relevant.


"Oh wow oh wow. Ruins. Liz, can we get aerial of the facility? Not…too aerial, we're within direct shot of the SARG. We need to figure out, if its clear, how to get across."


"Any infrared sensors on this drone or something? Does it pick up any radio signal?"

"How do you guys feel about murder if it secures our claim?"


"Goddamn, can't wait to go murdering the locals eh? But if that's transhuman, and there's inner system assholes in there, well, I'll be open to suggestions. Otherwise, let's hold back, but definitely go in with weapons."


"I'd rather not, but it's going to be hard to settle peacefully along proper outer system ideals if there's transhuman cunts here already, who consider the whole planet theirs. As for locals, if it's natives, not the same thing, at all."


"It sounds like a call to arms," Lahmia personally readies her bots. She grabs a canister of nanobots and her battle rifle on the way to the drone bay (whatever we call the minion pit). The canister was set to disperse spy nanobots after a delay and gently taped to the backside of her guardian angel, Raum, and the battle rifle was placed before it. "Raum, your sword awaits. You have two missions: encircle the stronghold with my cursed sand of sight, and protect Liz's own angel. It will aid you from above. Go forth, my minion!" Lahmia opens the hatch and makes more gestures with arcane circles floating around. Raum fires up his rotors, picks up his rifle by carefully landing on it and clicking it into place, and flies off on his mission.

With the nanobot dispersal on a delay instead of remote control, Lahmia was free to check on Abraxas and the currently unnamed explorenaut. It has a t-ray sensor, maybe it can be useful without having to leave the GEV. Also wasn't there a big snakipede back here?


"If this place proves safe enough, we can get enough scrap to feed into the fabber to get modern metal composites to rebuild the bridge with and also top off the feed stock. If this place proves viable, it might be the best place to set up at least temporary settlement. At the very least, we can probably leave our biggest, heaviest stuff here so we'll have more room for imports when we head back to the gate."


Taking a few wider angle shots with her Gnat, Liz bid her avatar nod into the tacnet space. "I will have the gnat run overwatch, while the Angel stays low and explores the interior buildings. This does seem like a proper place to establish a beachhead, though."

(Gnat is running overwatch, G.Angel is hovering low and will cover the Exploranaut when Lahmia deploys it. Multitasking is in effect.)

Day 3, Dawn

Checking on the storage deck, Lahmia confirms that the snakipede is still lurking under the Dwarf, surrounded by the partially-eaten carcasses of various kinds of brightly-coloured ocean life that climbed aboard during the night. It appears to have stopped glaring balefully at everything and is instead curled up on itself, asleep by the looks of it, it's carapace heaving and settling with every breath. Now that she has a chance to get a closer look at it, it looks like a long, legless centipede with small grasping/manipulating limbs underneath its head.

Meanwhile, Liz and Lahmia's bots scout the ruins at low altitude, largely confirming their initial assessments, spotting seven buildings in total, and several places where the ground has caved in, revealing subterranean spaces. There's also what looks like a sunken vessel resting in the shallow water next to one of the docks, completely submerged. Half-buried and in some cases toppled signs are also visible along the roads and canals. Most of them are badly weathered by sun and sand, but some alien symbols(generally consisting of interlocking circles and hexagons) can still be seen on some of them. One of the more intact signs depicts a scenic underwater vista, with muted sunlight shining down through tall vegetation.

Large amounts of dark green vegetation are sprawling out of the collapsed roof of one of them, on closer examination it seems to be growing out of a marshy pond, depth indeterminable, in the center of the building, the interior of which mostly seems to consist of open spaces. Still active lights illuminating parts of the interior may be some of what Liz had seen during the night. The two bots also spot further light fixtures outdoors, some fitted to building exteriors and others on poles, like streetlights, though none of them seem to be active at the moment.

The low construction, angular shapes and sloped edges of the buildings bring to mind human military bunkers in their design, at least when only the surface portions are visible.

Another partially collapsed building contains what looks from the air, like a maze on the exposed floor. The corridor layout has few rooms, lots of dead ends and seems to have been made intentionally confusing.

Something that strikes the scouts after a few moments is that only three of the buildings appear to have any apparent doorways at surface level. One is the largest building, and seems wholly intact except for a bit of surface weathering, and the other two are near the water's edge. One is the tallest building present, and its large doors bring to mind a warehouse(it also has doors facing the harbor as well as inland), while the other is the smallest and also near the piers.


"Aren't we a bit far from the gate for a base? Not to mention there's those patrolling spider robots to dodge on the way to here."

He points on an AR screen that pops into view as he does, at the caved in, and underground parts. "Kinda worrying, that the ground could just give out. Oh well, at least it looks long abandoned, and to have had a high enough tech base recycling will get us far yeah, and fast."

"If you gals are up to pilfering and destroying priceless xenohistorical artifacts and ruins, that is."


"We WANT to be a bit aways from the gate and the gatehouse we should put around it. If someone pays an Extropian to chuck a nuke through the gate just before it closes, we want some distance. Besides, I'm thinking some kind of road or dedicated ship or pontoon bridge to utilize the coast outside of the spider zone. Worst case, we can set up on the edge of the jungle and savannah before the spider enclosure and build a road back to the gate."

She pauses for a moment. We should probably scout the ruins going outside in, and honestly, a proper archeological dig would take decades. Unless we discover sapients here I'm okay of continuing the human historical practice of building new cities on top of old cities."


"Let's nuke the gate ourselves. When the Discord one got nuked, it rebuilt a kilometer down or something."

"I'm fine with graverobbing too, just making sure we're all onboard."

He downloads the mapping data from the GEV's sortie into the sea into his private stuff, for later. "Water looks calm, at least. Cheap pontoon bridge with concrete anchors could work out."


"While I am not at all on principle against cursory souvenir acquisition- there is the more pertinent question: If you do take some artefact or treasure from these buildings, where are you going to keep it? Habitable space is at a premium."

Putting the various drones under her authority on overwatch, Liz hums to herself. "As for simply recycling them for parts. Mildly objectional- at the very least we should take the effort to record what we consume before conversion; I see no reason not to use this facility though in some capacity in the future, however."

Pinging Arianhod with a brief request regarding her military expertise, Liz opens up an AR planning session. "We have approximately ten days before the next scheduled check-in. Assuming we can ascertain that any subsequent deliveries and such can be delivered on a set rotation…"

The VR schematic is quickly populated by simple geometry that describes the Pandora Gate and it's immediate environs, and Liz then invites the rest of the group. "A cursory evaluation of our locale and situation indicates a number of potential challenges. A degree of institutional paranoia is only reasonable, in the current situation. "

As she speaks, the AGI continues to sketch in largely symbolic blocks various structures and procedures- if Arianhod knows the military dimension, Thanat the infrastructural, Liz herself is the one determining the security. "Tentative plans, of course." She amends with a slightly warmer tone.

"As mentioned, all of this contingent on our reasonable certainty that autonomous defensive systems or similar are not present."

(Security Ops Roll + Arainhod Military Ops + whatever else)


"Habitable space isn't at a premium, we have a whole planet. We can just store this junk wherever, if somebody wants to see it, they'll have to come."

"Autonomous defensive systems are present for sure, we met some of those little spiderbots. And our mapping missile was shot down. Something to deal with definitely before settling down for good."


"Seriously, with a stock of metals nearby, Thanat and the bots could throw up 4 walls and a floor and ceiling and put our heavy stuff in there. We should look to see if we can get a mobile base when sol opens. As long as they had a supply of anti-hystimines, a flat with a food fabber could literally put up a fabric tent on the beach and be alright."


"Hmm. I will need to re-evaluate the stated plans and mission objectives then- I was under the impression our expedition had a far narrower scope." Liz declared.

"I do concede now that our defacto authority is for now effectively limitless. I also feel safe in assuming none of you are particularly interested in instituting… centralized hierarchical systems of resource management and distribution."

She pauses for a moment, to gather her thoughts and choose her words with great care- significant for someone working at digital speeds. "I would however argue that 'wealth' is a broader term than mere currency. As you say Thanat, there is a wealth of space waiting to be distributed. That space can in turn be leveraged as an incentive to achieve our immediate and long term goals, such as Arainhod's desires to establish a morph production facility."

"As for the 'spiders'. A thought occurs- We have not encountered anything equivilent to our local micro and radiowave meshware, but the spiders seemed to communicate via infrasonic methods…."

Diving into the GEV's local meshwork, Liz quickly spun through a few simulations, pushing out collaboration requests as she did. "Please contribute, if you notice correlations or observer patterns-"

Continuing to play her analysis, she hummed. "In theory sound is limited by the mediums in which it transmits, in addition to other physical constants. Bandwidth may be narrower…"

(Running w: A theory- the locals may use a sound-based mesh instead of a 'light/energy' based one.)


"Buer, go forth my minion!" Lahmia found out that a lot of the stuff on the GEV doesn't have set designations and has become far more powerful than ever before. The explorenaut, which Lahmia renamed to Buer, dutifully rolls out of the GEV and bellyflops into the surf. She takes one more look around the bay in case anyone needs to get thrown out too (the viperpede or whatever it is can stay as long is it keeps up the pest control).

On the way back to her usual seat, she commands the nanobot hive to produce scout nanobots (as opposed to spy). "With these eyes in place, we can better understand this mystery."

Day 3, Morning

While the party plans out their future options and the airborne bots keep a bird's eye view of the area, Buer races across the dunes unopposed, flops into the moat, sinks to the bottom(which turns out to be similar to a culvert, made out of large slabs set together) and climbs up the gently sloped inner side. Buer keeps excellent traction in the more sandy sections, but the parts the "concrete" roads have much less friction than the ALI expects and it always spins out several times, doing sick donuts in the sand.

It uses its thrust vectoring to jump over the caved-in sections of the ground, while belly-mounted cameras image what lies below. In every case, it looks like an underground canal, the water looking swampy and clogged with vegetation and rubble, on a straight line between two of the buildings.

With a combination of thrust vector jumps and careful climbing, it crosses the external rubble boundary of one of the partially collapsed buildings, imaging the interior more closely than the flying bots have so far: It seems to consist of two separate interiors, a central container made from heavy glass or plastic(at least a couple dozen meters in diameter), filled with murky, overgrown, swampy water and extending about fifty meters into the ground. Surrounding it, separated into multiple levels by floors, are open spaces connected by stairs and, where it remains, railinged on the interior side. The open spaces are a mess of rubble and scattered furniture, and further down it appears the central pillar has ruptured and has slowly flooded the lowest levels. Eel or serpent-like shapes are occasionally faintly visible under the dirty surface of the water.

The scout swarm, meanwhile, is thoroughly mapping the interior shapes and surfaces, providing a perfect map so any potential explorers won't get lost. Both the scout swarm and Buer report that there's active electrical equipment in the ruins(as evidenced by the lights), but nothing that seems to produce a significant power drain or EM field.


Thanat softly coughs, it sounds very fake, and not just because it's coming out a voice synthesizer. "They use speech to communicate, you mean, not a mesh?"

"I wonder if this," he highlights all the water pits and canals inside the island, "was meant to exploit something in the water, or if the people who used to live here were amphibians. Probably the water thing, we should pick a few samples for deeper analyses."

"Does the furniture reveal you anything about who lived here?" he asks Arianhod, the flesh expert.


"That and the stairs can tell us some things. Let's do the obvious: They have legs, otherwise it would be a ramp. I'd have to take a closer look to make more estimates."

(Morph design @ 75 or biology at 80 to make rough guesstimates of what kind of critter used these things)

  • morph design 1d100-75: -26 [1d100=49]
  • regular success, spending an insight point to increase it to a superior success for more detail.


"It seems quite flooded indeed, an aquatic bot couldn't come soon enough." With a flick of her wrist, a dark red pentagram appears over her hand. The star gives way to an image of a lion's head surrounded by five goat legs, "Buer, take a water sample while you're down there."

Day 3, Morning

Buer transmits Lahmia the digital equivalent of a snappy little salute and mounts the debris to explore the interior of the building, making its way down from ledge to ledge until it reaches the water. It scoops up a small amount of water, then steps back from the ledge to run a brief analysis that its internal lab suit is capable of: the sample is similar to swamp water, not fundamentally harmful, but full of a large amount of biological debris and detritus. It also seems to be less saline than the seawater, but about the same alkalinity. The internal flooring seems to be tiling in patterns of light blue and green, and the internal walls have faded motifs in the same colours.

Meanwhile, Arianhod starts working on the measurements brought back by Buer and the scout swarm that's slowly invading every available crevice of the facility. Looking over the furniture, assuming it's analogous to the sort of human furniture she thinks it is(chairs and long loungers), she estimates that they were used by a species averaging about seven to eight feet in height(or length), likely anthromorph or naga-shaped, though she also figures there's an outside chance they could be quadrapedal.

The scout swarm reports that it's having trouble exploring underwater, apparently it's made primarily for atmospheric and vacuum exploration, and will need extra time to map the underwater sections of the ruins. Flowing through the above-water sections of the underwater canals, however, it's looking like there's a network of them connecting all of the ruined buildings, and possibly connecting to spaces that have no above-ground presence at all. Many of the canals are wide enough that you could sail a transport barge through them.


"I hope we find remains, so we can settle once and for all whether snake-people females have tits or not."

"We'll have to consider too that the water composition that interested them might have changed since they've stopped exploiting it, too. Doesn't look like they've left any machinery behind, or in too obvious places. However their civilization collapsed, it was slow."


"Thinking about the important things, I see. And let's not rush to judgement, there's no machinery SO FAR. We haven't looked inside the closed buildings for that ship yet."


"All those buildings were closed until their roofs collapsed. And there's furniture, I don't think they'd just sit in empty rooms all day, and if they did, that they'd need so many. So they took the important bits when they left. That or the spider-robots recycled it into more bots or spare parts."


"We can't confirm anything until we've combed the base, I have no idea how blue water salvage works, but we absolutely should get a look of that wreck out there, not necessarily now, but when sol opens and we can order the right gear. Unless you can make the dwarfbot able to operate underwater. "


"It can operate underwater, but it can only walk. No swimming or thrust, either it'll need to find ramps, or we'll need a crane. We should request a barracuda bot or ten, though. Maybe neo-octopi or dolphins would front the cost if it means access to this planet's seas in safety."

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