Settling In

Day 30, Evening

Interviewing their simulspace captive takes a while, especially the part where they confirm that all of his attempts to breach the Lockbox had, in fact, failed and that a copy of him wasn't haunting their shared Mesh like a malicious poltergeist, but eventually all members of the expedition council are back in the corporeal world.

The refugees and the local Scum are experiencing some frictions, mostly caused by the refugees refusing free narcalgorithms(they have trouble seeing how it isn't similar to subjecting their egos to slapdash psychosurgery) and figuring out that the Scum are trying to troll them much faster than the Scum would find funny. A state of mild cold war has descended on the Scumhaus, with the refugees pointedly keeping their side more clean and orderly than the Scum side. After realizing that they've got more-or-less free access to the local fabbers, some of the refugees get busy decorating their part of the habitat, others explore physically(though they take it seriously when the L&R security team tell them to stay out of the ruins) and a couple investigate the local Mesh, browsing the collective library of XP's. They also all, for lack of something better to do, sign up for Biff and Zapp's seminar, especially after the Scum tell them what assholes Ultimates are, which automatically raises the duo's esteem in their eyes.

An hour prior to the first seminar, Sameera checks in. The visual link confirms that she's on a snowy peak in mountainous terrain. In the back, Lime is setting up an Autominer, while the Terragen team are installing a telescope under Alice's stern instructions. Before she starts talking, Sameera pans the camera over the area, revealing that they're in a small valley terminating in a frozen-over lake with ruin structures just barely breaching the ice. "I think I found that reflecting surface you guys spotted on day one," she says, then turns the camera back to herself, "And I also found something else. We weren't planning on crossing the mountains up here, but I figured I'd send a drone high, see if we could get eyes over the mountains… check out this footage."

The videolink switches to drone-perspective footage as it rises over the barren peaks, revealing the terrain to the north. The mountains descend sharply into a swampy morass, dotted with what look like huge impact or weapons fire craters, some of them deep lakes large enough to swallow the party's entire encampment. Near the rough epicenter of the destruction is a jumble of alien structures, canted at odd angles like the ground below them has settled or suffered an earthquake. As the drone starts dropping back down, Sameera switches back to her selfie perspective. "Either it looks like someone had a fight, or the locals weren't quite as good at terraforming as they thought they were. We'll check in again tomorrow once we've fired up the autominer and gotten some samples."

Arianhod

<Acknowledged, Sameera, excellent work. Chopper is standing by if you need resupply and/or reinforcement> Arianhod shares the footage with the colony with the comments open.

Arianhod also sends a message to Phoenix team that her cottage is small but it is free of scum and she only sleeps there two hours a day.

<@Gatesec, status? And do you need any particular supplies or support from over here?>

<@Thanat: we need to start planning additional permanent buildings. I'm thinking a compromise between my surface building preferences and your bunker fetish is having a connected undercity with permanent buildings over each. I.E. the apartment block would have one or two basement levels while going 2 to three stories skyward. People can live…as efficiently as they want, and we don't have to duplicate power, plumbing, infrastructure, etc. Once Sam starts sending over shipments, we can get that up and running.>

<@Lahm: Getting your new ware is not a problem except we need feedstock…which that oil will provide. Status on that? We also need those gnat bots, but those can wait until Sam's shipment, I guess.>

Arianhod busies herself moving the morphs from the freezer containers to the cryo tanks, pausing to consider if the lumpy one is salvageable or not.

Thanat

"I don't have a bunker fetish you gigantic twat, I didn't have a choice. The soil is ass for building, the materials were kinda crap, and we were in a hurry. If we want to build permanent, we'd be better off this shitty sand island, it's all coarse, and rough, and irritating. And it gets everywhere."
Thanat then goes into an hour-long speech about soils, foundations, sand, the strengths and weaknesses of various kinds of concretes, the erosion of sandy places and how dunes and beaches move fast, the distribution of the mass of buildings and all sorts of things nobody cares about. Not even five minutes in, it becomes clear he's busy doing other things, and that the speech was either pre-recorded or that it's just Buzz using Thanat's voice to read his notes. Then he seems to have forgotten about the ongoing speech, as he adds "plus, you can't take three steps here without finding some priceless xeno-artifact, do we really want to have a permanent, developing, growing city here, as opposed to merely a research outpost? We'll run out of space fast, anyway, especially with your statist homesteader ideas, and we would have to settle on the mainland then" over his own voice speaking about something else.

Thanat also eventually takes pity on the refugees in their Cases, and gives them a copy of his library of XP of biological functions, in case they miss them too much. Most are tagged "human", with a few having the "neo-octopus" tag, or weirdly just "octopus", there's the the occasional "neo-cetacean" and "neo-avian" standing out. They're all excellently organized, tagged and named, making navigation and finding anything easy. There's everything from feeling the air on your skin to quite a lot of pornographic XPs, with the odd feeling of hunger, a good meal, thirty different kinds of farts and burps, twelve different stubbed toes, having a shower, or the sun in your eyes, and everything. Nearly all of them are tagged with author names that aren't Thanat's, he shared very few of his personal XPs and they're horribly plain and vanilla by Scum standards. Buzz did quite a bit of censorship on the fly and kept out the least newbie-friendly XPs, too. It's more than enough for muses to construct life-like enough VR scenarios for the refugees. They might be better off spending weeks or months in VR than in the real world.

Arianhod

Leaving Thanat to his state, Arianhod decides its finally time for "me" projects. The hospital and morphs would have to wait, but now that the latter was secure, the clinic up and running, everyone in good health, and no immediate catastrophes, she uses the time before the seminar to start doing what she's wanted since she got her: fire up the homebrew.

She gets input from the scum contigent, and especially the botany/drug guys (including Thanat) since they'd most likely have the most useful opinions, two thirds of the first batch is gonna be something like 9.0 ABV for the lightweights and then a batch to get people like her shitfaced. To go with the tropical theme, she's going for the ~summer lager~ thing with a citrus taste, except the "citrus" is acid tart from the local wildlife she's learned about the xps of the scum eating (and shitting) the critters. Both the brewery and biology lab will be involved with this.

Lahmia

Lahmia has also signed up for B&Z's warrior-poet seminars or whatever, she doesn't really care what they talk about as long as she has some eye-candy besides Thanat doing the skeleton dance or Arianhod yelling at medical equipment.

«Uh huh,» she's enjoying the sun the way goths do, disdainfully and under a lot of shade. Lahmia is overseeing Urist putting the oil tank together from lounge set (it's mostly plant matter and trash stone) and a tropical drink she printed up. The construction nanobot hive is nearby awaiting instruction.

«It's definitely coming along.» There's no visual update, which isn't out of the ordinary but it probably just means Lahmia doesn't want to admit that she could probably make Urist finish faster.

Day 31, Morning

Gate Security replies to Arianhod with a negative on needing supplies for the time being, they've got their fabricator chewing up chunks of the jungle to produce barricades and convenient waist-high cover to fire from behind.

Several of the refugees investigate Arianhod's offer of sharing her cottage, but end up being too intimidated by her hulking bulkiness, having a quiet sense that she'll dismantle them and use their head as a soccer ball if they accidentally leave any dirty socks(or whichever the machine equivalent is) lying around her private quarters.

The Lumpmorph is functional enough under the weird surface, the organs and brain are properly grown, the issue seems to be purely a cosmetic one, though a considerable cosmetic one that it'll probably take about a week in a healing vat or exowomb to unfuck.

Thanat manages to successfully keep the refugees from ever bothering him for anything ever again by sending them his personal collection of scat pornos. They have full access to the colony's mesh and VR, but seem to prefer to staying in the physical world for the most part. Essentially living in VR for multiple years with no option to leave appears to have killed their appetite for more of it, at least for the time being. Their mesh use is about as advanced as the Jovians' was.

Eventually it's time for Biff and Zapp's seminar, which turns out to be half-and-half amateur theater and reading-from-a-podium-with-powerpoint-slides. The general gist is what they gave Arianhod a preview of at the gate, attempting to rehabilitate the Ultimate ideology as being more than just "big guns, shoot things." The first session, though, is mostly background and shitting on other ideologies, explaining how they generally fail to challenge themselves and fail to prepare their believers for the next great disaster after the Fall. They dump equally on hypercapitalists(portrayed as weedy, snivelling types who throw money at TITAN war machines then are surprised when their brains get cut open) and anarchists(stereotyped as getting high and attempting to democratically vote for who should risk their lives when under attack by exsurgents) while the brave, square-jawed Ultimates stand firm atop the pile of non-human and exhuman corpses at the end. The refugees and Scum both appreciate the dumping on hypercapitalism's excesses, but the Scum are left fuming at the insult to their proud anarchist principles, much to the delight of the refugees. They Scum do however resolve to keep showing up just so they can heckle Biff and Zapp on their future performances, which are supposed to put a fresh and exciting spin on the Ultimate ideology.

In the morning, Urist is finally done welding Lahmia's storage silo together. The parts of it visible above the sand have been decorated with engraving of local wildlife and human figures hunting it with primitive spears and bows. There's no telling why Urist's design algorithms decided this was appropriate, but at the very least it contains less memes than if Scum had decorated it.

Those with vaguely normal sleep cycles have barely gotten up in the morning before a warning blares out across the colony-wide mesh. In the Scumhaus there's a half-dozen instances of biomorph mesh inserts reporting that their owners are in distress, in advanced levels of pain and considerable panic. It's a colony-wide request for immediate medical aid and support.

Arianhod

Vaugely miffed that people that have been dead for 10 years find her more offputting than scum, Arianhod shrugs and gets her requisite 2 hours of shut eye.

And then the alerts.

Vacsuit on, scabbard and lasgun on back, Arianhod grabs her medical kit and runs full tilt. «@Scumhaus, tag anyone in distress and keep the central area clear, the servitor will establish a triage area.» Ordering the servitor to do so, as well as the GEV to pull up to the door while she's running for it.

Lahmia

Lahmia was up late destroying all challengers at VR games. Before going to sleep, she got updates and diagnostics from every ALI in London Falling, skimmed through it for red flags, and threw her beach gear back into the disassembler. As she crawls into bed, the construction nanobot hive is given the order to inspect the oil tank and seal it up at the nano level where necessary. Pumps and pipes can be set up in the morning. She crawls into bed, content with another day of no one dying and nothing breaking.

Morning arrives quickly when her home starts rolling away. Even with new structures being built, Lahmia has been rather reluctant to stop sleeping in the GEV. Even with all her implants and transhuman behavioral editing, Lahmia is still dazed to find the GEV starts driving by itself with no coffee. By the time Arianhod hops into the driver's seat, she's pretty certain it's not actually an earthquake this time.

"Am I being kidnapped again?"

Thanat

"Nurse Thanat reporting for duty," he clicks a few of his tentacles together. He put on a medical mask over his face and a blue hair net over his head, 'makes me look more professional', says he. The white and pink nurse outfit with a skirt doesn't make him look all that professional, however. At least, it's not a slutty nurse outfit.

He had not done much by night, taking a couple hours to work on improving his robotic brains with Buzz's assistance. This ware would allow him to keep working on his blueprints at all time, while also doing other things. This is absolutely not because he wants to enjoy two porn XPs at once, despite the rumors his muse will undoubtedly spread. He unfortunately did not have much time to try it out properly and iron out the kinks or get used to it much, but a life-or-death situation sounds like the ideal practice to him. After all it's all highly motivating, and if they die, they can just come back some time later, no real harm done.
20:54:18 < DiceMaid-9001> Sanev_Khan, morph modification, Multi Tasking, PurpleXVI: -67 [1d100=28]

Day 31, Morning

The only red flag Lahmia has picked up overnight is that a pack of recently-hatched snakipedes attempted to overpower and Abraxas and carry him back to their burrow, after about three unfruitful but very enthusiastic hours and completely exhausting their venom glands, they eventually gave up defeating the machine.

Arianhod, Thanat and Lahmia if she takes the chance to leap on board, arrive at the Scumhaus just in time to witness one of the Scum stagger out of the door and pitch face-first into the dew-dappled sand. His breathing his wheezy, his skin is tomato red, his face and neck are swollen and he's clawing at them frantically. Glancing through the door, the rest of the Scum are suffering similar reactions around their breakfast table, most of them are at least capable of staggering around in a panic, but one of them is on his back and foaming at the mouth.

The refugees are keeping a safe distance, looking afraid to interfere. There's no sign of Kinkulon or B&Z, a quick check of the mesh indicates that Kinkulon is in his lab, sequencing alien DNA while B&Z are taking a morning swim in the surf, apparently not giving a shit about the potentially hazardous alien wildlife. The security troops dispense a quick mesh ping, asking whether their help is needed, otherwise they're going to go back to keeping an eye on the alien machines out in the dunes, which haven't left yet.

Arianhod

<@LonSec, continue patrol until further notice, we might need more hands later, I will keep you informed.>

Arianhod checks him over, but can't discern what's going on behind some kind of hystimatic shock. "Get him into the healing vat!" Arianhod then realizes Lahmia's morph is probably incapable of both quickly and safely moving a normal sized human body and Thanat would probably drag him by the foot so he'd hit his head and thus be the height of scum humor. She shoves the guy in the vat herself and heads down into the scumhaus after ordering the fabber to start printing medical stabilization gear. On a hunch she grab the oxygen tanks from the GEV as well.

<@Liz ? Camera feed, I want images of the scum bunker now, and then I want you to start looking back through last night's footage.>

/ Paramedic: 1d100-70: 19 [1d100=89] /

Lahmia

Lahmia pulls up nanofab records, who made what for the past 30 hours. It's not hard to process what Arianhod is shouting about. She grabs a cup of espresso out of the autocook while the list compiles.

Day 31, Morning

While Arianhod hoists the worst-struck Scum on to her shoulder and jogs to the nearest healing vat, Thanat examines the victims while occasionally batting them away when they paw pathetically at his tentacles presumably begging for some sort of aid. He's thinking back to his hab management classes, they're decades ago, related to atmospheric systems, he's seen faces and reactions like these before, in connection to some sort of gas… it takes a couple of minutes because Thanat's memories of any sort of scholarly experience are cluttered with instances of him being censured by the lecturer, but eventually he notes that their reactions seem very similar to extreme CS gas exposure.

Meanwhile Lahmia is sipping a mug of good coffee to a background of the wailings and wheezings of the damned and damaged. The autofab logs mostly contain new structural parts for Urist to build the silo out of, the LonSec team producing concertina wire and black/yellow striped warning tape, spare parts for the Cases since they seem to have something breaking once an hour, Kinkulon fabbing an extremely lifelike couch-sized human esophagus and some of the local Scum producing some classic cookware and gear, the sort of stuff people used to use before they had a food fabber just extrude delicious meals. Generally only used if someone wants to show off, if it's for a meme or if they're such fancy motherfuckers they can actually afford non-fabber food.

Thanat

"It's just, kinda like tear gas, you pussies. You remember the drill, right? Get naked, get showered, stand in front of some fans, I'll take care of your clothes."

Still, he checks over the Scumhaus' systems, to see if it the ambient air is clean, completely fouled or merely shows traces.

Lahmia

"I think they tried to cook something the old-fashioned way, if it's not in the air it's in their stomachs." Being of limited use in a medical emergency, she sets Raum and the other GA (he needs a name) to patrol the perimeter in case anyone/thing gets some ideas during the chaos, the construction nano-hive to start installing pipes between the oil tank and where the pump will go, and finally gets dressed out of her pajamas. Her new shirt has a picture of a photorealistic skull with eyeholes shaped like anatomically corrects human hearts.

Thanat

"Yeah, that's entirely possible. We're a pretty stupid bunch. It should induce vomiting, though, a self-solving problem."

Arianhod

Arianhod is running around, yelling, and trying to treat people when Thanat's brainwave comes through. "VENT THE BUNKER'S ATMOSPHERE. THE FRONT DOOR IS OPEN." She heads into the bunker proper and looks for the source of all this mess.

Thanat

"It's not a door, it's an airloooooooooock."

Thanat pokes one of the Scum with a stick.

Lahmia

Pushing away all the other windows, Lahmia brings up the Scumhaus life support controls, in one fluid motion she opens the roof vents and sets every fan to full blast. "I call upon the winds to blow."

Day 31, Morning

The venting air seems to bring the scum some degree of relief, but not much. Scouring the bunker, the only thing that seems out of place is the breakfast table. It looks like breakfast has been several variations on the theme of "hot dogs," so the table is covered in a profusion of buns, sauces and approximations of pickled vegetables. The only thing Arianhod doesn't recognize is a container of some thick, so-dark-it's-nearly-black brown substance, it's uncapped, smeared on several half-eaten food items, and just approaching it makes her eyes water. After thirty seconds or so, she recognizes it as the same weird pus substance growing on some of the sewer seaweed.

Liz, meanwhile, has been scouring the camera feeds in accelerated time and has watched through all of the previous night, then the early morning. It starts with the usual Scum debate about what to have for breakfast, when someone opines that he wants something "spicy." The other Scum agree, but then the debate falls into the spiciest thing possible, and all of them hit up the local mesh to see what's spiciest. Spiciness is defined by capsaicin content in short order and, since Arianhod's research has added it to the local database, the seaweed pus is the most concentrated natural substance logged.

A couple of them manage to find a way into the sewers(circumventing the L&R patrol), harvest some armloads of seaweed and squeeze the blisters into a dispenser before beginning to use it as a sauce.

It also seems to be, as Thanat has predicted, inducing vomiting, the only problem being that on the way down it's also induced considerable esophagal swelling, thus requiring some swift medical intervention before the Scum choke on their own vomit.

This is of course an excellent time for Sameera to hit the colony with a high-priority hail.

Thanat

"Ah, what a bunch of idiots."

Thanat closes the jar of Silverwheel Sewer Seaweed Spicy Super Stupid Scum Sauce, so that the delicate fleshies don't have to. He also cleans up the table and gets rid of whatever leftovers of the sauce there are, mostly by dumping everything into whatever containers lie around, airtight if possible, and putting it all to the recyclers. He's a nice person like that.

"So do we just cut them open and let it pour out or what? We could also let them die, be a lesson to them. They're mostly still in their original bodies though, they'd get kinda pissed."

Using his newly installed powers, Thanat also simultaneously checks on Sameera's high priority hail and listens to her message.

Arianhod

"I. I. There isn't even a high to be had from it, its just pain! You'd need to reduce its concentration by a factor of…"Arianhod looks at the hail. "When I get back from whatever it is they want we're doing cooking. Everyone goes the clinic now, or at least outside until the servitor cleans all this up!" She writes a prescription for anti nausea/CS gas.

«What's up Sahm?»

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