Splinter Defense Force

Day 25, Noon

The GEV comes in hot off the desert on a warm, sunny day. Even from a distance the party can see that the Jovians are hard at work on the disassembly instructions they've been given, breaking down much of the piers for fabber materials with industrial gear and feeding it into the fabbers. Currently, the alien "countdown" signal, reaching even to their base camp(though the gunmoth hasn't followed them), is estimated to hit zero, with whatever consequences that has, in between eight and twelve hours.

Once they arrive, Sameera is asking whether she can requisition one of the GEV's and some of the Jovians to drop off an automine up in the mountains north of the local Pandora gate. She argues that it'll get them some scouting done, visibility from the mountains should be excellent, and that serious digging done in a geologically active location would likely yield some excellent clues on the planet's geological past, not to mention likely better resource output than from just tossing another automine into the desert or the local ocean. Alternately, she points out, there's a mountainous island not far out into the sea that a GEV could easily reach.

Inside, some of the Scum are taking a break from their hard work making designer drugs by attempting to cook some of the local sealife. At least none of it has any bones to pick out or risk choking on.


"So, as Arianhod keeps stressing over, we are coming up on another gate activation. Meaning we'll go there with a GEV, right? Let's take Sameera and an autominer, we can drop her in the mountains after we dealt with the gate. And the second GEV, we'll send to the island, to drop the other two autominers on its mountain. Plenty of resources and stuff, yeah? Anyone can fly it? Better it fly over the sea than get eaten by a giant monster."


"Okay, okay, let's get a list of assignments."

«@ Colony. Next gate opening is in 60 hours. Anyone going back to Sol needs to be at GEV 1 in exactly twelve hours to make it back to the gate in time. Anyone sending xp, physical items, or other files back to Sol, please start curating them now, and if they have to go to someone specific, please address it as needed. Please make all request for specific items or blueprints now and we will accommodate them as best we can.»

«@ Lev, per our discussion, get the prototype up and running. Minimize the amount the dwarf bot does; Liz is competent but I want to be sure the back door is gone before we allow it to work on sensitive items. Tearing up things for feedstock is probably best.

«@ Sameera, we're headed first to the gate, then to the mountains to set up the autominers and also check out that point of interest. I guess two GEVs head out, one comes back.

«@Lev, anyone who needs a break from the Scum should come along. Battlesuit should probably stay here in case Something happens.»

«@ Guys BBQing wildlife: More power to you. Please send xp to us, and if you encounter any digestive problems, toxic shock, etc, please report to the clinic or have your muse ping us if needed if you've been rendered paralyzed by sea creature poisons.»

She then launches into a ramble which is somewhat related but mostly a long run on sentence.Arianhod's muse, mostly silent up to this point, pipes up;

Eris: «@ Nearby, please do note Arianhods' increased state of agitation. This is a fairly regular occurrence during stressful situations. Please make sure she eats and sleeps as per her morphs requirements and she doesn't exhaust herself on pointless busywork. Do you know how much anxiety a brain with mental acceleration can generate? Seriously, folks, I have to live in here»

Day 25, Noon

Several of the Jovians display an interest in getting away from the Scum, but Lev vetoes it, explaining to Arianhod that he'd like to keep all of his men and women at the camp, in case the alien machines out west decide to attack. Besides, he adds, digging trenches and setting up gun emplacements is exactly the sort of thing to make the Jovians relax and make them feel at home.

The Dunk My Junk crew decide to call an early end to their filming on Splinter, not wanting to risk losing anyone else to weird, alien phenomena. They thank the crew for letting them do stupid things on an exoplanet, however, and promise to put in a good word for them back on Sol.

Surprisingly, the test kitchens in the Scumhaus produce no immediate medical complications. Generally, it turns out, once you trim away the head and digestive system, and apply liberal amounts of butter, much of the local sealife is essentially just tender, swimming meat that requires minimal preparation. Of course, with the only pseudo-compatible proteins and vitamins in the two ecologies, the nutritional content isn't excellent, and over-indulging in sea slug filets seems to have a habit of producing brightly-coloured diarrhea(apparently the pigments in the colourful sealife, including some of the bio-luminescent compounds, are not denatured or digested by the standard transhuman large intestine). Some of the local drug scum have also taken to keeping some of the sealife as pets because some of the milder nematocyst toxins turn out to give you a pleasant buzz if you mash your face into the still-living creatures rather than grilling them, and the critters are too small to do much more damage than breaking the occasional unguarded finger.

Meanwhile, Kinkulon lodges a request to borrow some Gnats for a long-distance scouting expedition. He wants to map out the borders of the sea to the east, his reasoning: considering the varied megafauna in the depths of it, if scouting suggests the sea isn't large enough to give rise to those populations, that would be another point in favour of Sameera's terraforming theory. To get it done in any sort of decent time, he requests the use of four Gnats or similar flying, autonomous drones, with the warning that they may well not return intact if they run into bad weather, malfunction or encounter something hostile.

Lime asks to be allowed to accompany the others in journeying back to the Gate. Not that he wants to leave, but he's feeling slightly out of sorts and feels that maybe leaving the base for a bit might help him feel better.


Arianhod agrees with Lev, noting the countdown and once it gets close to sixish hours the Special Needs folks (read: the pregnant ones) should get into the most reinforced building, probably the scum barracks, until we're sure its not an attack timer. Nodding to Kink, Arianhod asks Lahmia if we can accommodate that, and asks if he can take a radio booster if they're going that far out. She then asks the Junk folks if they're going to activate the missing guy's backup or give it another two weeks to see if he shows.


«Four Gnats? Let me check the feedstock,» Lahmia is feeding an entire tree stalk into the fabber's disassembler and using the cellulose as a base for some t-shirts, and the gooey sap's natural polymers will go towards making a squishbot. She doesn't actually have to check anything, she's right there and there's plenty in the machine.

What she's really up to is conferring with Arianhod's muse how best to take care of her when she's hyperfocused; Thanat's just going to make jokes and Liz is much too hands-off to do it, so it falls to Lahmia. As the fabber spits out a six-pack of blue sports drink, Lahmia thinks about how a lot of what she does is take care of things that are incapable of taking care of themselves. Her deep thoughts are interrupted by Abraxas' help signal, he's stuck in the canal again.

"Every fuckin' day with you. You're lucky you're cute," Lahmia's fishes out the bot with a winch. "I wonder if the Dunk My Junk guys will let me have a souvenir…"


«Just drug her if she gets too annoying and/or agitated. I'm sure the Scum have already figured out things that'll work on her biology,» he tells Arianhod's muse.
«Yeah! Sometimes I load up narcoalgorithms in what passes for Thanat's brain when he gets too annoying. I even occasionally implant ideas and thoughts there directly and he doesn't even notice,» his muse Buzz adds.
"I notice, but I just let you believe I don't."
"I see the inside of your brain at all time, I know you don't notice!"
"Sure I do!"
Thanat keeps bickering with his muse, both voices coming from his speakers. Any Jovian biocon in the area will no doubt appreciate the sight of a robot man struggling with an AI implanted inside his own mind, while the Scum from the USS Space Nazis Must Die give a collective blasé shrug, they've seen the pair do worse. After a few minutes of this, Thanat falls to the ground as half his tentacles wrestle with the others.
"Why are you trying to choke me?! I don't even breathe!"
"It. Makes. Me. Feel. Better!"
Eventually the spectacle abruptly stops as Thanat stands and dusts himself off, in control of his eight limbs again.
"Yeah so uhm, time to be productive members of this society and help… load the GEVs with… with whatever, right?"

And he does just that. He also does final touch-ups on the turret and pop-up mount designs, making sure they won't break right as they're used, due to being made with local recycled materials rather than specialized feedstock as in Sol.
Thanat also notices nobody has logged in flight/drive paths for the GEVs and he quickly set those up. One with two automines to go to the mountainous island, to set the mines there. And the other to the gate (still avoiding the spider bots and passing by the sea), then to the mountains far north. It's really just two big red arrows, one curved to avoid the spider bots. With a little 'land as soon as possible not to waste fuel' annotation as the arrows cross the shores.
Meanwhile Buzz has retreated to the London Falling VR office space, where she stands angrily by the water cooler and rants about Thanat to any Liz forks that approach too close.


<@Lev, one more thing occurs to me: We now have an ongoing threat with every immigrant through the gate being a possible Jovian intelligence operative. I have contacts on Titan I can ask about people but there are limits. What should I be looking out for?>

Day 25, Noon

Lev considers Arianhod's question while using his Jovians and the occasional helping claw from Urist to dig trenches in the sand. "Anyone without a stack," he answers, after a few minutes, "They might have augmentations, but nothing nanotechnological, only inert matter. Genetic flaws, too, anything that'd have been fixed in a basic Splicer, usually a sign as well." When they're not building defenses in case of an imminent assault, Lev's soldiers and the Scum assist in loading the GEV's and securing the autominers.

Thanat's Scum buddies don't have anything to send back to Sol yet, but they expect their courier to arrive on this gate opening and leave on the next. It'll give them a chance to polish the latest iteration of their petals, in any case.

Sameera's shut up in her lab for the time being. Apparently the results from her cores aren't quite matching up to theory, and it's annoying her to some extent, and Kinkulon is busy plotting out optimal scouting patterns for the Gnats, on the assumption that he'll definitely be given them because he's so good at his job and such a genius besides.


<It sounds like you just described, well, you guys. Is there anything that'd help us separate Jovian intops from refugees who were once lucky or rich enough to get augs? Or from ex-soldiers?>


since we're fast forwarding

Presuming mothra doesn't attack, Arianhod contacts L&R via qbitt with the following:

1. notification the dude is MIA, asks for what his resleeve conditions are.
2. asking for both colonisists with infrastructure/heavy construction experience (especially naval/blue water), but also @-list friendly sorts who can tolerate moderate biocons. Personality and not being a shithead is more important than skills. People who need "5 years experience" are welcome.
2a. lottery to see if anyone wants to sleeve into her spare splicer. Conditions are working two gate shifts (28 days) and then they can leave or stay or whatever. Priority given to infogees and people in shitty cases, pods, etc.
3. Notify the Titanian consulate to try to get one there as well (Probably just a single dude at the start, but mostly she just wants an @-lister that isn't another scum.)
4. Look up exowomb and other other gear I need to grow morphs.
5. Gonna try to push the Silverwheel name change but not if there's mass dissent.

Day 27, Evening

(OOC: Since no one appears to have any especially pressing plans, I'm fast-forwarding slightly as it would be nice to at least start, if not finish, the gate stuff before the session wednesday)

The repeating alien radio signal terminates abruptly as it reaches a theorized "zero," but no robot army assault appears imminent. Lev remains unconvinced, however, and he and his Jovians keep working on fortifications as the GEV's are loaded up and set out. Sameera briefly resists leaving her samples alone, but when someone reminds her that her autominer placement suggestions have been OK'd, she's in a GEV faster than anyone else, and asks whether they're there yet more than just about anyone else.

With the road cleared through the jungle, the return to the gate is a lot easier than usual, even if it looks like keeping the path clear is going to take some work. Even with the clearance work barely two weeks old, the local plantlife has already started intruding on the path again, throwing arm-thick creepers across it and small buds pressing up through the hard-packed dirt. Unless they make a more permanent solution, or put work into clearing it again on the way back, it'll probably be close to as difficult to traverse as it was uncleared by the time the gate next opens again. And thanks to the aerostats, they're able to keep up with things back at base while they're rolling, internal and external sensors giving them a good idea of what everyone's up to.

Suit sensors from the Jovians working outside showing that one of the gunmoths is back to loitering within view, apparently keeping an eye on the base, occasionally getting just within the extreme range of the base's sole heavy cannon emplacement. When not working on the defenses, the Jovians seem to mostly take care of various maintenance tasks, like clearing the airlock doors of the constantly drifting sand or handling those other repair tasks that ALI's can't be trusted with or bots lack the dexterity for. The sensors inside the base mostly just show that the Scum are stapling beer cans to Thanat's door in the shape of a penis and otherwise engaging in mildly artistic, casual vandalism like painting little skulls-and-crossbones on any bots left back at the base.

They're about half a day's drive from reaching the gate, and about a day's sailing-and-driving out from their base, when their Mesh connection back to the base is abruptly lost. Signals still travel via the aerostats, but there's no pickup at the far end, which could either be up to a downed relay, some other, innocent, maintenance issue or a sign of something bad happening to the base. If the base's transmitters are down, it would likely take someone on foot six hours to march far enough north that their suit transmitters could reach the aerostats without the base boosting them.


Having been quite grumpy the past few days, Arianhod is not happy. "Liz, diagnosis of the connection, please. Anyway to boost this, we CANNOT afford to miss our date here. We could load all the outbound passengers and cargo on one and have Lahm fly us south until we have a connection."


I don't feel up to a full In-Character post right now, but having gone over the pbps and what i remember of last session, I would appreciate Purple's input on the following:
* As of Day 27 Afternoon, all of the wares Liz has queued up are complete. I will at some point compose a new list of wares to start and log their project starts accordingly. I expect to leave 5 or so Liz-teams free for any programming tasks the other PCs want to queue up.
* Main Liz is primarily focusing on crunching through the crab/moth signals and languages. To that end over the past several downtime days, i have spent Liz's remaining Rez on Xenolinguistics, bringing her up to Xenoling 20.
* As per Arianhod's request, Main-Liz will also roll Interface 75+10/assisting character to diagnose the communication problems.


Lahmia, curled up in her seat under a blanket, pokes her had out and gets a quick update of what's going on. She dumps her old coffee into the autocook and gets a fresh steamy mug. "I really hope it's nothing important," Lahmia drops into the co-pilot seat and drops a bottle of sports drink in Arianhod's lap. The Gnat scouts ahead as usual, and being able to spot smoke from a distance might influence how quickly Lahmia clicks through the pre-flight check list before taking the GEV south.

Day 27, Night

Several hours of flight south later, near the coast, but still out of sight of the base, the GEV piloted by Lahmia picks up a signal again. It's weaker, definitely not from the base's repeater array and it's carrying a looping audio message from Lev, set to a background of small-arms fire and the distant thump of the flak cannon firing.

"To all members of the Silverwheel expedition, keep your distance from London Falling until normal comms are up again. We've got hostile action from alien elements. No casualties on our side, we're keeping them at bay so far, but a stray shot took out the comms array antenna. Once we have the time to fix that up, that should be a good sign that things have calmed down. This message will now loop. To all members of the Silverwheel expedition…"


"GODDAMIT, how could I be so stupid as to send away our main force when we had this situation."

<@ GEV 2, proceed with cargo transference, immigration and data transfer as normal, mining expedition head north as planned. Situation as base, will report more when we get there.>

"Fuck fuck fuck. I was so certain on trying to save that dipshit I antagonized the aliens into attacking. Okay. Breathe. Its probably mothra and those ground units…how would I approach the situation…"

Military Ops: <DiceMaid-9001>, 1d100-65: -56 [1d100=9]

Day 27, Night

Arianhod is aware that the GEV is comparatively lightly armored, and that any military-grade weapons will likely cut through it like butter. Additionally, if it's flying, it will be an extremely visible target. The course of action most likely to not get them blown up if they come to the rescue against Lev's insistences would be to drive or sail to land away from the battle zone, and then proceed on foot where they'll be able to use the terrain for cover. On the other hand, using the GEV for maximum mobility and to drop them right into the thick of combat might, if they don't get blown out of the sky because their pilot is competent, be the sort of thing that could effectively turn the battle if it's a close call.

While Arianhod is mulling over the possibilities, Liz manages to diagnose the communications problems. As far as she can tell, it's a physical issue, the receiver antenna/relay at their base camp is physically unable to transmit or receive messages. As she assesses the issues, however, she notices that there's a secondary signal reaching them. It's much fainter than Lev's, and doesn't have an official identifier. It looks human, but jury-rigged, and could potentially be an alien infowar transmission of some sort.


"Well Lahm, ever wanted to be a badass?"


"Leave it to the Jovians, they're there for that. Let's just hit the gate. If we turn back now and show up, we'll just hurt their macho spec ops pride. The other GEV should be closing in on us soon-ish anyway, it's not like passing through the island before hitting the gate was a huge detour for them."


"Alright, on wings of steel and fire, I guess," Lahmia pushes the throttle up and sets the GEV at a comfortable altitude so she can change into her vacsuit mid-flight.


"Just putting into the GEV's log that I think you're both being stupid."


"Someone decode that second signal, I want to know if its a trap or message or whatever."

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