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Twenty years ago- years before you were even born, your homeworld repelled an alien invasion which arrived with no warning, no declaration, no communication. The invaders killed tens of thousands of your people before they all suddenly died- killed by their own ships.

---

You can read the previous threads here: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=COADE
Check your stats and inventory here: https://pastebin.com/cXGKaBsX
On votes with three or more options (not including Write-In), you can designate another option as your second choice. This will be used to help resolve tiebreakers.
Please feel free to ask questions- I am happy to provide setting trivia that isn't relevant in the narrative. If you ask a pertinent question, though, I will generally answer it in an update.
>>
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You clamber out of the crawlspace, and glower at the pile of rubble and scrap. A few breaths steady you. The task was simple, your knowledge limited by the confined space you can see ahead of you- and with your senses. It's impossible to suppress the small grin as your power leaps to your direction as it's invoked. What used to be painful to hold back and difficult to harness was now... a joy. It was just a joy. Simple and easy.

Your senses probe out the wreckage ahead of you in waves, wrapping around the individual pieces of scrap and feeling out their sharp edges. There were no 'sharp' points that stood out in your mind, unlike the usual uses of your power. In fact, the sharpest thing was... well, you. More specifically, your clothes and your hair of all things stood out the most, damp and dust-caked as they were.

The feedback was fuzzy, the many small pieces of metal fading out into a fuzzy, homogeneous mass that blurred and shifted in your mind- but it was enough. There was a clear corridor of space in front of you, all you had to do was make it wider.

You push against the metal, your power unfurling to press against the entire underside of the mass of metal. To imagine it as spectral hands seemed... so crass for what it was. It was force, radiating out from nowhere against many sharp things and lift them.

Almost instinctively, you stretch out your hands. It feels stupid- like it would contribute nothing when all the lifting is being done with your mind. But the gestures sharpens your focus in a way you can't quite describe, ordering your power into a more direct exertion of your will.

The debris pile shifts and groans, metal shifting as it's lifted upwards. Small scraps that were embedded in the floor lifted tremulously up as the nebulous field gripped small pieces from underneath the ceiling of debris you were trying to lift. It radiates up through the mass of metal, causing small crashes as pockets of metal shift and slump on each other.

Frowning, you up the exertion, clumsily pouring effort into the act. It was like trying to force yourself to stop thinking, the more effort you put into the task, the more difficult it became to truly focus. You try to pull in your power, stop it from radiating out uselessly around you. A gust of wind blows out from the gap as you gather up the wayward tendrils of your power, whipping your skirt and hair around.

You close your hand into a fist and...

The hull moves.

A deep shuddering of metal roared through the structure of the ship as above you, just the barest amount of metal shifted up a scant few inches. The effect rippled into the upper decks, metal clanging against metal into the far reaches of the ship.
>>
>>4055316
Your concentration breaks, and you feel the energies scatter under you control, dispersing and gathering up formless again, ready to be used. Physically, you barely feel like you've moved, but mentally you feel... unfocused. The struggle of keeping your will in check having scrambled your mind, as if you were suddenly forced to solve a complex problem.

Idly, you look at your hand and stare in dull surprise at the inky blackness radiating from it, the cool ice crystals that have formed on your hair and skin melting as the energy leaves you. A faint shimmering in the air - glimmering bands of light that had formed above you and under the scrap - fades from existence. A far more physical manifestation of the Abyss than you were really used to.

Stepping back, you sink onto your butt. Partially so you can see what you just achieved, but also from the sheer shock of what you just did.

"...it's been decades since I last saw a creator work." GA2027 said, it's synthesized voice quieter than normal as it came to rest beside you.

It. It wasn't much. But the gap was wider. Enough for you to crawl through, at the very least- although you would be refamiliarizing yourself with claustrophobia as you did so. If you dared to try again, you might be able to make it even higher.

>Try again. Raise it higher.
>Crawl through as it is now. No need to push it. Uh, literally.
>...is it possible to make even more space by dropping the bottom out?
>[Write-In]

>Try to wake up Wander to help you.
>Let her... 'sleep'? Is that something shades needed to do?
>>
>>4055319
>Crawl through as it is now. No need to push it. Uh, literally.
>>
Reposting from the end of last thread
>>4055319
>Crawl through as it is now. No need to push it. Uh, literally.
Rather not risk destabilising anything else, and we're already filthy.
>Let her... 'sleep'? Is that something shades needed to do?
She'll be back when she wants to annoy us some more

There were probably a lot of browned pants on the outside just now. As for getting out of here without being turned into Swiss cheese or "disappearing", we'll burn that bridge when we come to it.
>>
>>4055319
>>Try to wake up Wander to help you.
I was thinking, maybe the ambient energy is drowning her out and we need to focus some her way for her to manifest in such an environment.
>>
>tfw no flat as board valkan gf
>>
>>4055319
>Crawl through as it is now. No need to push it. Uh, literally.
>Let her... 'sleep'? Is that something shades needed to do?
>>
>>4055319
>Crawl through as it is now. No need to push it. Uh, literally.
We can ask someone in engineering to take a look at the surrounding area and determine if making it larger is safe to do so, if we have time to spare.
>>
>>4055319
>Crawl through as it is now. No need to push it. Uh, literally.
>Let her... 'sleep'? Is that something shades needed to do?
>>
>>4055319
>>Crawl through as it is now. No need to push it. Uh, literally.
>>
>>4055319
>>...is it possible to make even more space by dropping the bottom out?
>Let her... 'sleep'? Is that something shades needed to do?
>>
Holy moly. We got one hell of a power boost.

>>4055319
>"...it's been decades since I last saw a creator work." GA2027 said, it's synthesized voice quieter than normal as it came to rest beside you.
D'awww, tiny robot needs a headpat.
>>
>>4055512
She will be if she brings the ship down on herself
>>
>>4056048
She can turn into puddle with Valkan magic!
>>
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>>4056348
>>
>>4055512
>tfw no flat as board valkan gf that transforms into a megabimbo over the span of 2 weeks
Imagine physically witnessing that transformation every single day
>>
>>4056479
>tfw no cute pointy ear valkan gf to make you technomagic trinkets
>>
>Crawl through as it is now. No need to push it. Uh, literally.
>Let her... 'sleep'? Is that something shades needed to do?
Writing.
>>
"Can you fit through there?" You ask, peering at the gap.

"Not in my current configuration, no." GA2027 touched down lightly on the floor, and very carefully began transforming itself. The normal, rounded casing that you'd realized was customary to scarabs collapsed down, unfolding into various sections that it carefully slid around with sharp clacks. A small sphere of machinery was exposed at the center- all wires and small camera optics.

"What's that?" You ask.

"My core. It contains my non-transformable hardware. Manipulation beams, high-detail cameras and transceivers."

"So it's... 'you'?"

"No, my intelligence is contained within my transformable hardware. This simply contains my most delicate instruments." GA2027 finished flattening itself into an odd, pancake like structure, bobbing and wobbling as it started to skitter across the floor on unsteady, brief pulses of lift. It scraped and bumped into things, but after a few moments of bumping up against the scrap, managed to squeeze through and continue to the other side.

You stare after the crab thing as it scuttles away into the dark. A light appears at the other end, followed by the distinct clacking sound you've come to recognize as Valkan machinery transforming. The other end wasn't far... okay, time to stop stalling.

Getting on your back, you take off your bag and push it up ahead of you, before carefully shimmying yourself upward. There's enough room to turn your head freely at first, but soon enough you're forced to turn your head on it's side as the 'roof' slopes down. Your body becomes slightly pinched, and you have to carefully wiggle yourself through a few tight spots. For once in your life, you're glad that you haven't got any curves- gah! Bad thought.

Your head continually bumps against your bag and pushes it upwards as you clumsily push your feet against the floor, driving yourself ever forward. You don't dare to push against the ceiling for a grip, both for fear of cutting yourself on the sharp metal and for disturbing the mountain of metal above you.

It was a short distance to the other side... right? You're sure of it... just a bit further...

Your breathing quickens, and you scrabble feebly, feeling trapped. The panic dies almost as soon as it begins but it can't help that faint human survival instinct that your implants cannot and will not disturb from telling you to get out get out get out-

Light from a source above you floods into your vision as your head emerges from the other side of the pit. You blink and gasp for air, as if your head had been underwater until now. Struggling, you quickly kick yourself out from your odd predicament and scrabble to your feet.

Just as quickly, you slide on the sharp slant of the deck and bang your head.

"Ow..." You groan, rubbing your head furiously.

Health check: minor cranial bruise, cognition unchanged.
>>
>>4057281
"Are you okay, ma'am?" GA2027 came closer to you, shining a light on your face.

"Yeah..." Carefully, you rise to a crouching position. "My mistake was expecting the floor to be down..." You raise your gaze, looking up the sloping deck ahead of you. It wasn't a steep incline- maybe not even more than ten degrees. But it was just enough to make standing on it... challenging. You resort to digging your fingers into the grated metal of the floor for purchase, anchoring yourself into an uncomfortable sitting position. "...this is engineering?"

"Engineering access, ma'am." GA2027 turned it's light towards the end of the hallway, where an airlock stood. "Engineering proper is through that door. Including the engine room, the repair dock and the maintenance bay."

"And the AI core."

"In... theory."

"...Engine room seems self-explanatory. But... the repair dock? Is it some kind of shipyard?"

"Similar. It is a bay for more intensive repairs than can be served in the hangars. Capacity is very low."

You nod. "And they maintain things in the maintenance bay, seems explanatory enough." You pause. "...would they keep armor there?"

"Possibly if suits were checked in for service. Otherwise, they are probably kept in deep storage."

"Deep storage?"

"Essentially a warehouse for valuable hardware. The crew refer to it as the 'vault'. It is close to the maintenance bay."

"Right..."

>First things first- you need to start looking for the AI core.
>Let's take a small detour to the maintenance bay. After all, proper armor might help you traverse this wonky section...
>Any more robots in the repair dock?
>You can't think of why, but the engine room?
>[Write-In]
>>
>>4057283
>First things first- you need to start looking for the AI core.
>>
>>4057283
>First things first- you need to start looking for the AI core.
We should see what it wants, and get permission to access the other locations, and to requisition anything we think we might need.
>>
>>4057283
>Let's take a small detour to the maintenance bay. After all, proper armor might help you traverse this wonky section...
>>
>>4057283
>Any more robots in the repair dock?
So far all the bots we've met have been really helpful. The ones on this side have been out of contact with the ones on the other side ever since the AI went silent, so information gathering would make a good step one for our AI core hunt.
>>
>>4057283
>Let's take a small detour to the maintenance bay. After all, proper armor might help you traverse this wonky section
STOP BULLYING Tiiris! She's PERFECT
>>
>when you realize Valkan implant AI could alter tastebuds.
No wonder they were overpopulated.
>>
>>4057283
>Any more robots in the repair dock?
>>
>>4057283
>Any more robots in the repair dock?
Maybe one that can help search?
>>
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>>4057536
No.

>>4057543
Technically they limit themselves to dampening taste most of the time.
>>
>Any more robots in the repair dock?
Writing.
>>
>>4058798
Tiiris must remain cute, smoll and adorable
>>
"Repair dock?" You ask. "Can you show me?"

"Yes, it is not far." GA2027 finishes folding itself back together and lifts further into the air. "Can you stand?"

"Yeah..." You stand up- carefully. It wasn't that steep of an incline at all, but with the combination of your uniform shoes' less than stellar grip and the smooth metallic surface of the floor... well! You were walking on it now, if keeping an arm stretched out to the side just in case.

The other sections of the ship had a veneer of 'intactness' to them. Lights were on, if flickering, most equipment was in place if a little roughed up with upended furniture here and there. Maybe small things were spilled- many small things, really. But it looked more like the aftermath of a wild party- the bodies didn't even properly register as bodies in your mind, not without a face or even a skeleton to see.

Engineering was not that way. It was clear that whatever structural elements of the hull were intact, they were firmly rooted in the other half of the ship. Floors were buckled, their fittings torn from the walls- which themselves were scarred by bright lines where the metal had stretched and shredded it's paint, creating scores of reflective tarnish. The first two doors you passed through the hull didn't even move a little when you engaged their overrides, necessitating you to set it to 'neutral' with some direction, then pull them open with your hands. And a bit of Abyss energy.

The door to the repair dock proper is just gone.

On closer examination, in truth the doors had been melted by something, with hardened, bubbled remains of the metal crusting the edges of the door and clinging to the hallway beyond where it had flowed down. Beyond, the ship opened into another wide open room. It was similar to a tower, a vertical version of the hangar bay you'd been in before, but much smaller. Beyond the door, the floor became a walkway, wrapping around large, designated spaces crowded with heavy machinery- cranes, structural supports and what looked like power outlets or couplings for some kind of heavy equipment.

The space extended far above you, with two more docks both above and below you. The dock directly above you was home to a craft of some type- all sleek and orange, in what seemed to be typical Valkan fashion. All across the bay, you could see deep score marks of melted metal sprayed across the walls and equipment of the bay. There were holes in the walkways, empty spaces where it had fallen away, leaving nothing but scores around the holes.

"What happened here?" You ask in confusion.

GA2027 hovered next to you. "It appears a breach in fusion containment of some kind. The protective casing on engine two seems to have failed- see the entry mark?"
>>
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>>4059103
You look up and see a massive black scar that crossed the upper left side of the bay. Indeed, most of the streaks of melted metal appeared to originate at that point. Shaking your head, you ask. "Is there anyone in here? Robots, I mean."

"Allow me a moment to interface with the local systems."

"Okay." You nod as it glides away, and take a few steps forward. You have to skip over a small melted section in the walkway, carefully testing the floor before fully trusting it. Approaching the center of the bay, you peer up through the levels at the ship docked above you.

As before, it was orange and tapered in successive 'layers' at sharp angles until rounding off at the front. There was something mounted to the top, although your view from the bottom blocked it. It was pretty big- the distance you'd have to walk to reach the other end was... at least half a block. Maybe longer.

"Local power is down, but I've managed to activate the dock scarabs that remain." GA2027 comes floating up to you.

"Is that good?" You ask, looking past it as a small cloud of small drones come flying up from the bottom of the shafts. You focus in on them, peering at their small, beetle-like shapes, about the size of Scuttles, actually. One maneuvers up close to you, peering curiously. "Hey, little guy."

"Orders?" It asks you in a burst of static.

"Uh..." You jerk your head back in surprise, shocked by the sudden understanding of it's voice- then the fact you instinctively recognized it as radio. "No?" It immediately flies away. "...huh, not exactly conversational." You blink to yourself a few times and shake your head, resolving to ask your AI about it later. No sense throwing a fit every time some new function came online.

"They are not particularly intelligent. Lift units, a manipulation beam and a welder. Normally, they would be directed by the ship's artificial intelligence." GA2027 says, sounding almost dismissive. "They aren't even capable of speech."

"Right..." You cough, then gesture up at the ship above you. "So, what's that?"

GA2027 looks up. "That is... odd."

"It's name is Odd?"

"No, it's name is..." GA2027 paused. "Rontah."

"Makes it sound like some kind of disease." You wrinkle your nose.

"It is the Valkan word for..." GA2027 stopped again as it searched it's dictionary. "'Graceful wind'."

"A breeze, in other words. Why is it odd?"

"It shouldn't be here. All available ships were told to muster during the battle."

"Maybe it's not armed?"

"All Valkan ships are armed. Why a perfectly good, hyperspace-capable vessel was not utilized..."

"That thing can jump?" You ask in disbelief. "It's tiny!"

"According to my manifest, it is."

>Maybe you should take a look inside?
>Leave it.
>>[Sub-Option] Welders? Those sound like they'd be useful for looking in hidden places.
>[Write-In]
>>
>>4059106
>>Maybe you should take a look inside?
>>
>>4059106
>Leave it.
If it's here and it shouldn't be, there is probably a very good reason for it to have been left, we can ask the AI when we find it.
>>
>>4059106
>Maybe you should take a look inside?
That might be our ticket out of here
>>
>>4059106
>Leave it.
>>[Sub-Option] Welders? Those sound like they'd be useful for looking in hidden places.
The ship will be there later. We should focus on looking for the AI, then we can do as >>4059164 said.
>>
>>4059606
There should be some sort of logs relating to the movement and other relevant details like
the previous Hull it came from,when it got here, why it was left Berthed, and who owned it regarding the "Rontah" either nearby that GA2027 should be able to help us access, and the AI should definitely know.
>>
>>4059106
>Leave it.
>[Sub-Option] Welders? Those sound like they'd be useful for looking in hidden places.
I was hoping for something smart, but I suppose one of Scuttles' derpy hillbilly cousins could come in useful.
>>
>>4059106
>>Leave it.
>>>[Sub-Option] Welders? Those sound like they'd be useful for looking in hidden places.
>>
>>4058981
Hate to break it to you Anon, but Tiiris is already taller than all of her friends (and a lot of adult women).

Probably courtesy of Dad genes. He's a freaking shaved bear. Well... sort of shaved. His beard is pretty mighty.
>>
>Leave it.
>>[Sub-Option] Welders? Those sound like they'd be useful for looking in hidden places.
Writing.
>>
"Huh." You raise your eyebrows at the ship, then turn your head to look at GA2027. "Can you get these scarabs to help us?"

"Of course." GA2027 made a slight buzzing sound, and you watch as the small swarm of scarabs suddenly reverses direction towards you- like a flock of birds turning. Whatever it said was a bit too... fast for you to really catch the meaning of the transmission, but you're soon surrounded by a small cloud of scarabs. They jabbered and chittered to each other in bursts of static- extremely simple ideas of motion and spacing.

"Thanks." You look up at the waiting swarm. "Now to find the bloody AI core..." You turn to GA2027. "Do you have any idea where to start?"

"As I said, the location was not disclosed to me."

"I'm sensing a 'but'..."

GA2027 thought for a moment. "...but. There are no blank spots on the ship's layout. Meaning it is likely disguised as a different room."

"Right..." You nod. "So... anything redundant?"

"Nothing that immediately strikes me as so, ma'am. Many redundant systems were installed after the ship was retrofitted for invasion. There are multiple sewage, electrical and life support junctions."

"Any high security parts?" You suggest. "You mentioned a vault earlier?"

"Yes, it is fairly high-security." The scarab answered. "Less so now, I imagine."

"...is it possible that it was hidden in the walls? Like, not even in a room at all?"

"Yes." GA2027 paused. "...but discovering it's location could very well take days."

>Check redundant systems and junctions.
>>[Sub-Option] Power seems most logical - that's probably also close to the ship's internal network, correct?
>>[Sub-Option] Life support... well, you wouldn't think to look for advanced computers near an air conditioner.
>>[Sub-Option] Sewage lines- didn't you hear something about sewage lines before?
>Check the vault. The logical place is the likely one.
>Hidden in the walls? Eugh... maybe you should just try now, see if you get lucky.
>[Write-In]
>>
>>4061296
Where do all the data bus lines run? That seems like the most obvious method.
>>
>>4061314
Through the power junctions.
>>
>>4061347
Then I vote that.
>>
>>4061296
>Check redundant systems and junctions.
>[Sub-Option] Sewage lines- didn't you hear something about sewage lines before?
Ask the drone for more info on where and what the Critical Alarm, that we saw was relating to.
>>
>>4061296
>>tfw no flat as board valkan gf that transforms into a megabimbo over the span of 2 weeks
>Imagine physically witnessing that transformation every single day
>>[Sub-Option] Sewage lines- didn't you hear something about sewage lines before?
>>
>>4061296
>Check redundant systems and junctions.
>[Sub-Option] Sewage lines- didn't you hear something about sewage lines before?
BLUUUHHH. More sewers. But there was that repair alert, and the sewer lines are suspiciously durable to survive the ship cracking up.
If any pipes need entering, send the scarab underlings. This sounds like a perfect time to learn the magic of DELEGATION.
>>
>>4061579
...I'm beginning to become concerned as to what you mean when you say 'megabimbo'.
>>
>>4061296
>>[Sub-Option] Life support... well, you wouldn't think to look for advanced computers near an air conditioner
>>
>>4061296
>Hidden in the walls? Eugh... maybe you should just try now, see if you get lucky.
>>
>Check redundant systems and junctions.
>>[Sub-Option] Sewage lines- didn't you hear something about sewage lines before?
Writing.
>>
Tiiris Elson, expert sewer inspector.
>>
"...GA." You say, trying to say it 'gea' and ending up pronouncing it more like 'gah'. "What was that maintenance alarm from before? Remind me."

"'Emergency maintenance to engineering sewage junction', I believe, ma'am. What about it?"

"Where is the engineering sewage junction?"

"It continues from the spire, ma'am, so... we're actually standing directly next to it." It looked behind you, at the door you just came through.

"We are?" You turn back and, after a moment's thought, quickly cross the walkway and step back through it, minding the gap between the rooms. "Is it beneath the floor here?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Where's the access hatch?" You ask, looking around. The flashlight on your phone comes on as you pull it out, and you shine it down at the grate. There was something under the flooring that was slightly off, the edges of an odd lump shining between the pipes.

It's hard to not feel impressed when GA2027 lets out a slight 'uh' as it catches up with you. "It should be in the flooring here..." After a moment's search, it locates another hidden hinge in the flooring, lifting up the simple metal grate after a few moments.

You drop down to the crawlspace below, kneeling down so GA2027 can pass you. It was much the same kind of crawlspace as you were in before- large pipes to either side of you, with the hallway visible above. In fact, if you looked behind yourself... yep, in the distance you could see the crawlspace become swallowed up by the pinch of the hull.

To your front, however, the floor suddenly rose up in a large hump, leaving only a small space between it and the grating - just enough for a drone to pass through or a person to crawl through. It was the same metal as anything else, although there was a noticeable weld seam connecting it to the floor. The front had the raised rim of a hatch on it. You shine a light on the front, and spot faded words painted on it in red text. "What does this say?"

"'Sewage Routing, Section: Engineering, Junction 1'."

"This'd be it, then." Your hand immediately starts questing around the hatch, looking for a release or covering for the override. After a few moments of not finding anything, you back up.

"It doesn't open, ma'am. It's welded shut."

"Welded shut?" You ask, then tilt your head and grin. "...why would they weld a simple sewage junction shut?" You turn your head up towards the grate and shout, the excitement overwhelming the strange need you'd felt so far to be quiet. "Hey, you lot! I need you to open something for me!"

"Orders?

"Weld."

"Weld types- circular, bonding, seamless-"
>>
>>4063855
The air filled with communication between the small drones as they suddenly streamed into the hallway, questing for a moment before determining you were beneath the flooring and streaming down the open hatch. A comparison to a flock of birds would be aft- they moved in a small cloud, undulating and spreading out before contracting in as they joined you beneath the floor. In the very confined space beneath the flooring, they suddenly seemed much more numerous than they did just floating around the repair bay.

"Welding?"

"Welding!"

"Weld type- breach weld, a type of..."

They creeped over your shoulders, the wake from their tiny hover units pushing your uniform with their localized turbulence. Almost like attentive pets, their optics followed your finger, eagerly waiting for the next instruction.

"Um..." You swallow, somewhat taken off guard by the sudden response, then point at the hatch. "Can you get that open for me? W-without damaging anything on the other side, that is."

"Origin set, begin weld at..."

Your hand is bumped back as the drones flow around you, clustering around the hatch and starting to cut at it with thin beams of blue light that arced from small points on their body to the edges of the hatch. Metal melted and ran away as they worked. When one drone reached the end of it's current weld, another seamlessly took it's place and continued it, while the other moved to a different position. After just a few seconds, the panel was loose, and the swarm took grip of it with small, pale manipulation beams. What was heavy for one was nothing to the entire swarm as they effortlessly pulled it away, opening a hole into the chamber beyond.

A blast of cold air emanates from the chamber as they pull the panel away. It was lit inside, the inky blackness cut somewhat by the light streaming in from behind you, and faint light within. The air inside... gnawed at you, tugged you slightly and beckoned you inward with cold, friendly tendrils. You felt a deep gnawing desire to know what was within- no, actually. Not you. Whatever was inside felt a deep, gnawing desire to meet you.

You were expecting a small, cramped module- something that could be fit under the metaphorical 'floorboards' - a gap between the pressure hull of this module and the one below it. Instead, the hole created led down into a chamber large enough that your feet dangle for a moment as you drop down into it.

GA2027 floats in silently after you, hanging behind and shutting off it's light.
>>
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>>4063860
Banks of what you could only assume to be computers rose from the floor ahead of you, simple black boxes divided down the middle by a faint strip of white that dimly pulsed in time with each other. Each looked unassuming, their size dwarfed by the supporting network of cables that ran across the floors and ceiling and into them. But looks were deceiving when it came to the Abyss. Each and every box stank of the Abyss, being suffused and roiling in it's presence to a degree you had never seen- even with ST.

You take a tentative step forward. Something about this room seemed familiar, but you couldn't put your finger on it quite. The central box had a hexagonal symbol on it, one embossed and etched with silver leaf that-

"Long have I waited..."

You jerk in surprise at the sudden voice. It rings in your implants and your mind and senses. A voice that you can't characterize with words, but is deep, inhuman and ancient. The age behind the words drips in your mind, resolute and weary.

Tendrils of Abyss energy trickled out of the AI core, streaming from the boxes as their status lines pulsed bright white. They lifted from them like a cloud of smoke that hovered above the consoles, slowly gathering and twisting into a form. A single, orange eye opened- not so much an eye as a rift of orange light, the progenitor of every signature you had witnessed before. It illuminated the great serpent from within it's place at the epicenter of it's skull where a brain should be, it's light striking the edge of it's body within the haze and casting it with deft, sharp edges.

"...to speak again with one such as you." It boomed, packing both radiant joy and crushing melancholy into it's voice at once. To your left, you idly note that GA2027 is lowering itself in deference, bowing before the great serpent before you. "What is your name, child?"

"T..." You sputter. "Tiiris. Tiiris Elson."

"I am Xol - the lesser serpent." It enunciated. Each word came with great effort to it, as if it were laboring over it's enormous maw, mulling the tightly packed bungle of meaning before speaking. "Speak, Tiiris, and I shall listen."

You take an automatic step back from the serpent. Xol tilts it's head at you, and as if backing off from a growling animal... retreats, somewhat, lowering itself to the floor so that it's enormous skull is on eye level with you. It watches you, plaintively, waiting for a response.

>"I-I've come to ask if a medical drone can leave the ship with me."
>"Uh... n-no, it was nothing. I just wanted to meet you..."
>"I have one... no, two thousand questions." (Write-In as many as you want, but understand that answering them all will take time)
>[Write-In]
>>
>>4063864
>>"I-I've come to ask if a medical drone can leave the ship with me."
>>"I have one... no, two thousand questions."
Lesser serpent?
>>
>>4063864
What are you doing hidden down here, big guy?
>>
>>4063864
>"I have one... no, two thousand questions." (Write-In as many as you want, but understand that answering them all will take time)
Ask what it would take to restore the AI's ability to communicate with drones, and Us ship wide since it would allow us to move while we talk.
If we could convince it to stand down, the order would then propagate to the rest of them ensuring that no more people would die, if the hull was breached by the military outside.

Ask about requisitioning, a suit of armor from engineering, the Medical scarab and some spare Machine Hearts to help our friends.
On our way back we should be able to grab the Items we left behind in Kallis's room (The battle rifle, and the data chits. since the Armour should give us a little more space if we wanted to take some more things. Or we could load up one of the warskins that we found, to simplify the proceedings)

The location of any breaches in the Hull, that we could use to leave on foot without opening the doors, since that would likely get the rail guns to fire.

Why they started the war in the first place and, who Alitch was, since no one wants to talk about him, for some reason they won't specify.

Why the Rontah is still here and if they want us to do anything about it.

Have GA2027 go back to UP8903 and SX2404, to inform them of the plan if any we come up with, and how to get here (use the sewers if they can fit) and the location of the AI,
>>
>>4063864
Why are you hiding in the sewers xol
>>
>>4063864
>"I have one... no, two thousand questions." (Write-In as many as you want, but understand that answering them all will take time)
In addition to all questions mentioned before,
>Are you dying? Are you ok? Can you even die of old age or whatever? Is there anything I can do to help?
>Can you teach me more about the Abyss and how to use it?
>Is it possible to fix the ship? Is it possible to use the powers of renewal granted by the Abyss to do so?
>If this fleet broke off from the main Valkan fleet, where is the main fleet now / what happened to the main fleet?
>>
Above questions are good.
But to boil down the really important one:
>Can you suggest any ways out that don't involve any of us being turned into railgun sponges?
>>
>>4065341
As long as we don't open any outwardly visible doors, or obviously disturb any of the scaffolding we should be fine, if we cloak up and exit through one of the breaches in the hull, then proceed on foot outside the perimeter, then we can either head to a bathroom and then attempt to rejoin the group that we were with (or at least sign out of the perimeter, while claiming that we got lost in the confusion or something) We may want to get our Clothes cleaned if we can before we leave the Hull or just book it out to safety, though that might lead to raise the suspicions of the investigation team if they are observant if we aren't seen leaving though any of the checkpoints.
>>
>"Lesser serpent?"
>"Why were you hidden?"
>"Why can't you communicate with the rest of the ship?"
>"I have friends who need healing - can I take some medical drones from the ship?"
>"Do you know where I can find a suit of armor?"
>"Can you suggest any... hidden ways out of this ship? I don't know if you've noticed, but there's a military cordon outside."
>"Who is Alich? Why does everyone hate him?"
>"Why did you start the war?"
>"There's a ship in your repair bay... the 'Rontah'. Do you know anything about it?"
>"You sound old- are you dying?"
>"Can you teach me more about the Abyss?"
>"Can the ship be fixed?"
>"Where did this fleet come from? Do you have a homeworld?"
Writing.

There will likely be a severe delay before the update goes up, since this one is... it's gonna be a biggun.
>>
>>4065698
GETTIN HYPE
>>
>>4065698
we're about to fucking get LORE just SPRAYED all over us
>>
Apologies for the long delay, everyone. Kind of a storm of business today.
>>
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"You're... 'Xol'?" You ask. "Er, the 'lesser serpent'?"

"Yes."

"...what does that mean?"

"I am a fragment of Ouroboros, the noble serpent." It regarded you with interest, moving back and forth to examine you at different angles. "A reproduction, of course, but utilizing original code and parts. You are alarmed."

"You just sound very old- are you dying?"

"Perhaps I sound old because I am old?" Xol suggested. "I was young when the 1st fleet was just fleeing the homeworld. Time has the same hold over me as it does anyone else- but it will not end me."

You turn the thought over carefully in your mind. "J- someone mentioned Ouroboros to me once. They made it sound like... like a savior." A thought strikes you. "Is that why you're hidden down here?"

"I do not make my home in sealed tombs by choice. Much less a chamber with crippled data feeds." Xol chittered, many white lines opening up in it's maw and pulsing as a deep rattling sounded- akin to the deep rumble of distant thunder, and metal screeching against metal, elongated to fill seconds. It takes you a few seconds to realize that Xol was laughing. "Perhaps my progenitor was a savior in the most literal of terms, but it was no messiah. Neither am I."

"Wait, you're saying they trapped you down here?" You ask, puzzled. "Why?"

"To keep me safe. Keep me secret." Xol answered with some disdain. "You must forgive them. The 13th are... were a superstitious and paranoid lot. They mean well, but too much of their being is taken up in fear. Always convinced the galaxy was out to get them, always itching for radical action. Never ones to listen to my counsel, always eager to prove me wrong. It was a problem that began with the 12th before them. You know the result of such things grown unchecked."

"These ships were part of the '13th'?" You ask, pointing down at the deck of the ship. "The 13th what?"

"The 13th Fleet- although it's proper name is Fleet of Righteous Reclamation. We split from the 12th Fleet some two hundred years ago."

A shiver runs down your back, and your stomach twists with dread. "F-fleet? There are other Valkan fleets?" You take an involuntary step back.

Xol regards you placidly. "Not all Valkans are the same, Tiiris. Even among the more warlike fleets, the 13th held an unprecedented level of aggression." It tilted it's head. "Few are kind, I must admit. But they are not monsters."

You feel an odd, quiet sense of relief at that. "If that's the case... why invade?"

"Resources." Xol answered simply. "It is no complicated reason. The 12th was overpopulated, and warlike in their manner. The 13th chose to split and conquer a weak, isolated world to take as their own. A bread basket, as it were."

"Don't you have a homeworld, though?"
>>
>>4067717
"Our homeworld was destroyed almost two thousand years ago. It's surface purged of nearly all life by fringe warlords. It is not capable of supporting a large population."

"Oh." You say dumbly. "Uh... I'm sorry."

"Thank you."

"So... um..." You search for a topic. "About the fleet... a few people mentioned a man, I was wondering what you could tell me about him. His name was Alich-"

Xol hisses with hatred, the light around it darkening and filling the air with a stale scent. The swirls of orange around it brighten and swirl, growing more agitated and jagged as it rose up and pulled back.

"Uh!" You flinch and turn away, instinctively lowering yourself to the floor. "Sorry! I didn't mean to..."

The aura flares and suddenly drops away, your eye having to adjust to the relative darkness. Xol was quiet for a moment, shutting it's mouth and remaining quiet for a few moments. "...no. No, I am the one who should ask for forgiveness. You did nothing to deserve that. Alich simply... stirs strong emotions in me."

"What did he do?" You ask, clutching your bag to your chest. "Why does everyone seem to hate him?"

"Alich was..." Xol lapsed into thought. "Brilliant. As a leader. A true cult of personality, he was able to hold together a fleet as volatile and disparate as the 13th. He was also a fool. Never learned from his mistakes, always so convinced of his success. He was generous with his time and resources, kind to his crew. And utterly disdainful of all non-Valkans."

"Define... disdainful?"

"Alich favored terror tactics." Xol said bluntly. "He presumed that by destroying massive amounts of civilian structures and raising a massive death toll, that the enemy would lose the will to fight. Civilian gas miners at Paar. Several Tagaran cities."

"...that..." You stammer, and clutch your bag closer. "But... why? What was the point?"

"The 13th did not have the manpower nor resources for a protracted campaign. Such tactics conserved ammunition. Alich forgets, though, what such atrocities can do to a people. Ironic, considering such events are what created the Valkans as they are today. And that the fury of the Tagaran response is what undid him. Along with all that followed him."

"We didn't do anything, though." You asked, puzzled. "All we did was hold on until they just... blew up."

"You broke their conviction and their spirit. That was enough." Xol lapsed into silence for a long time, deep in it's own thoughts. After a minute, though, it seemed to remember that you were there. "Forgive me. You did not come here to listen to an old shipmind reminisce. You said you needed help. What is it?"

"What? No I didn't- wait." You blink, surprised. "You were the one who opened the airlock?"

"My influence over the ship was limited before the crash ruptured most of it's internal data feeds. But I have my uses." Xol responded, amused.
>>
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>>4067718
"W-well... I wanted to take some things from the ship. A medical drone, at least, maybe a suit..."

"May I ask why?"

You turn over the possibility of lying to Xol for a second, and then just decide to be honest. "I'm half-Valkan, and so are a few friends of mine."

"And you're suffering from monochimerism. I see..." Xol tilted it's head, it's tone growing softer and hopeful. "Do you know of any others?"

You shake your head. "No, just me and four others... one is a full Valkan, but she grew up on Tagara."

"The news that some Valkans survived is still wonderful." Xol answered warmly. "A medical drone, you say? If I can restore communications, it's yours. A lifesuit... I am unsure of. We were already short of them before the invasion."

"You mentioned... cut data lines? Is that something I can fix for you?"

"Perhaps. But it would take time to locate and patch the lines."

"Time is something I don't exactly have to spare..."

"I presumed so. My knowledge of the outside world is limited... but I still have access to the optical targeting computer data feed. Those are a lot of tanks outside."

"And help you could provide with that part is-"

"Of course. I'm afraid there isn't much I could do, however. Other than perhaps opening all the airlocks I can. A peace offering of sorts. Maybe it will encourage them to take a more conservative approach to the decommissioning."

"Maybe?" You shrug. "The military... doesn't have a great track record with competence."

"As is the case with any large military. Valkans are no exception, as your people have witnessed. Still, perhaps something to think on..."

"...how bad is all this damage, anyway?" You ask. "Could we use the Abyss to fix the ship? Could you teach me?"

"The Abyss will be required to fix the Tanoh, but not in the way you are imagining. While it may be possible to reshape a drone through force of will, vessels and complex machinery are another matter entirely. A great many components will have to be reforged in the Abyss- all by hand. The superstructure and assembly of said components will require massive industrial facilities at great expense. With the hull's integrity compromised as it is, a complete refit will be required. The Tanoh is likely finished as a vessel. It would be more efficient to simply melt it down for parts and rebuild it."

"...so no."

"No." Xol bobbed it's massive inhuman head. "To the first part of your question, that is. I could teach you what I know of the Abyss, but even my instinctive grasp of what made me is elusive. You would be better off with a true mentor. However, since I presume you have none..."

"I have someone who showed me the ropes, but uh... no, not really."

"I see... I would be happy to explain what I know. Although I'm not sure how effective of a teacher I can be confined to this room."
>>
>>4067720
"It's not like I'll be coming back here any time soon..." You ponder. "Hey, question. Are you, like, locked into this hardware, or can you be moved?"

"My intelligence is mobile, and with warning I can evacuate my current hardware. But it is not as simple as moving an ordinary computer program. I require specialized Abyss-made hardware to inhabit, along with a suitable storage device."

"So- Valkan machinery, for the most part?"

"Effectively, yes."

"And you'd need something like a datacore to be moved."

"You know of them? Yes, a datacore is actually explicitly designed for such a purpose."

"So what if I pulled you out of this bank and brought you to the medical drone to get them to hand it over?"

"If it suits your purposes, yes."

"Hm... what if I plugged you into a ship?" You ask. "There's one in the repair bay."

"Ah, yes. The Rontah. Possible, although I would be wary of any remaining explosives on board."

You stop. "Explosives?"

"Yes. Saboteurs used it to enter the Tanoh and plant explosive charges within the vessel."

"Why on Tagara would they do that?"

"What would you do if your government was about to commit genocide?"

"...point." You nod. "Do you know where I could get a datacore?"

"They aren't rare. There should be one in maintenance."

>Smuggling a datacore out of here would be difficult. Do you have anything else you could use to host Xol?
>Go to maintenance. You can figure out what to do with Xol later.
>Visit the Rontah. See what's aboard.
>[Write-In]
>>
>>4067721
How big is a datacore, exactly? The size of a Rubik's cube? A suitcase? Something in between, or else?
>>
>>4067728
Just a bit bigger than a closed fist.
>>
>>4067721
>Visit the Rontah. See what's aboard.
>>
>>4067721
>Visit the Rontah. See what's aboard.
Ask one more thing about why Tagarans and Valkans are basically the same species. He seems to know what the condition is called.
>>
>>4067721
Should have asked about the warlock.
>>
>>4067721
>Go to maintenance. You can figure out what to do with Xol later.
The only problem i can think of is that we are likely going to have trouble, getting the Rontah out of the Hull without it being shot down, we might be able to kludge something together if we strip the crashed ship, where we found the pendant for parts. all we would need to do would be get the Datacore with Xol on it out of the shipyard, the Warskins in the Underside hangar might be able to help with that, since they might be able to cloak for long enough to get it past the perimeter to be able to escape notice
>>
>>4067784
Maybe we can find a ship-grade cloaking system.
>>
>>4067786
Will we still be able to open the Hangar after all this time, how loud is firing up the engines in atmosphere going to be though If we do we're going to give up whatever stealth we had, hopefully we would be able to leave on foot anyway so we can sign out to keep up our part of the facade , since the Lensing Field Generator only works for Electromagnetic waves, and is the Rontah even rated / capable of flight in an atmosphere.
>>
>when the Valkans realise all they would've had to do was ask Tagara "hey can we be room mates for a bit."
Lmao no wonder they're mad.
>>
>>4067721
>Visit the Rontah. See what's aboard.
Every Valkan girl needs her own ride. All the better if it doesn't blow up after stepping foot on it
>>
>>4067721
>Go to maintenance. You can figure out what to do with Xol later
>>
>>4067763
Oh yeah! Kathari. I think we can still ask.

>>4067721
>Visit the Rontah. See what's aboard.
This whole situation feels like a... house of cards? Unstable and unsustainable.
Exit stealthily, and we've taken way too long and need an alibi, not to mention we can barely bring anything along.
Exit noisily, they'll blast the hell out of the ship, hitting the explosive Rontah in the process and probably taking out the Tanoh's engines. Whatever that would do, it ain't gonna be pretty.
It feels almost like the best solution would be to load up the Rontah with everything, drones, AI, Mom Things and other loot, and just bug out at max speed. Give the Tanoh up as a lost cause, let the military have the shredded tomb they'll turn it into. At least there'd be a lot of ocean to hide the smaller ship under.
>>
>>4069146
We could use the warskins in the lower Hangar to transport some additional materiel outside the perimeter, we have gathered stealthily since they aren't as big as the ship so they should be quieter, and thus having a better chance of getting out without being seenAlso if we spread out the loot among the warskins (and Rontah if we take it) we have a better chance to at least get something out of the perimeter if they get detected while we leave on foot, with the Lensing Field Generator Hopefully whatever screening they do won't pick up on the Machine Seed that we had implanted and sign out normally in order to not arouse suspicions.

I would assume that Tiiris's medical condition is registered with the government in some form or another, so any irregularities that they find should be able to be explained away by her medical file.
>>
>>4067721
>>Go to maintenance. You can figure out what to do with Xol later.
>>
>>4067721
>Go to maintenance. You can figure out what to do with Xol later.
I'm not letting the military get their hands on space grandpa!
>>
Rolled 1 (1d2)

Well, that's a tie: 1 for Rontah, 2 for maintenance.

Also a few followup questions:
>Monochimerism? Is that some kind of alien disease?
>Hey, do you know anyone named Kathari?
>>
"Right, and..." A thought niggles at you. Something Xol mentioned before. "I'm sorry, you said I had 'monochimerism'? What's that?"

"It's a genetic disorder caused when artificial chimeras have children with ordinary Sentients. The effects are fairly minor, but it is common for many to develop more severe symptoms. Roughly 1 in 10,000. In theory."

"In theory?"

"It is rare for Valkans to breed without any machine assistance at all in the first place. We simply don't have enough data."

"Right... so... what do all of those words mean?"

"Your..." Xol studied your face briefly. "Mother being Valkan gave you a hereditary illness. Your implants are probably taking it away as we speak."

"...oh! Yes, right. From being half-Valkan, right. I understand." You nod. "...except... what's a 'sentient'?"

"It's our term for the intelligent species in the galaxy."

"Oh, so like... different kinds of aliens?"

"No. The intelligent species. There is only one."

You stare at Xol blankly. "What do you mean?"

"How well do you know your ancient history, Tiiris?"

"I did okay?"

"How far back does recorded history go on Tagara?"

"Uh..." Your mind feels sluggish as you find and recall the memories. "About six thousand years?"

"And where did your species come from? Which Tagaran species did you evolve from?"

"We don't know?" You shrug, starting to feel uneasy at the implications. "There's some theory about a different kind of life being seeded later? That, or we're..."

"From another planet." Xol finished for you. "Both theories are true, in a sense. Your fossil record also likely begins six thousand years ago, when your ancestors arrived on Tagara. If we found them, and they still bear identifying markings, we could possibly tell you exactly which star system your people originally hailed from." Xol drew back, staring you down. "The galaxy is only populated by a single form of intelligent life. The same species as here on Tagara- you're the only ones who exists."

"That doesn't make any sense." You shake your head. "You mean there's... no alien life? At all?"

"None that's as intelligent as Sentients. Humans, rather. Some uplifted and bio-engineered organisms, but only humans naturally."

You stare. "...okay, filling that... existential revelation away to be processed later."

"I think you'll find the galaxy sufficiently filled with life for your purposes." Xol said with an amused tone.

"How much-" You interrupt yourself and screw your eyes shut. "You know what, I'll ask later. I just remembered something- there's a woman on this planet. She apparently wrote this book-" You hold up the sketchbook. "-and it's got a sketch of your- er, Ouroboros' core in it. Her name is apparently Kathari. Do you know her?"
>>
>>4069853
"Kathari..." Xol lapsed into thought. "Ouroboros knew her, but not I. She was a student of his. One of the first. Possibly one of the greatest. She fought in the war that destroyed our homeworld."

"Well, apparently she's still alive." You say, putting the book away. "She's on Tagara."

"Unsurprising." Xol... you think deadpanned. "She is notoriously difficult to kill. Why she would choose to travel with the 13th is... perplexing. I have no record of her being aboard the fleet."

"...is she trustworthy?" You ask.

"She has always been open-minded, for a Valkan. But she often views herself as not beholden to law, tradition or ethics, which makes her dangerous."

"Define ethics for me."

"Kathari has always been more interested in knowledge for it's own sake, rather than what it could be used for. It is my understanding that she can be... bizarre. Often too caught up in what she can do to realize what she is doing."

"...kay, thanks for that warning." You say faintly. Something prickles at you, and you quickly pull your phone out to check the time. It was 6:12PM. "I'm running out of time..." You mutter, pocketing it.

"Then you best be about it." Xol said with an amused tone. "Go, I do not plan on perishing anytime soon."

"Right..." You nod, then turn. The hatch was just out of reach above you, and you give a little hop to try and catch the lip, coming up just short. Frowning, you bend your knees and hop a little harder, only succeeding in scraping your finger on the fresh weld. "Dammit..." You take a moment to call on your powers, to let it fill your body like it had once before, to make you stronger... with another small leap, you manage to get your arms around the lip of the hole, and slowly kick yourself upwards, pushing at your feet with brief bursts of control to hoist yourself up.

At the lip, you turn and look back down into the chamber, seeing Xol coiling upon itself, lowering it's head to the ground as it's form lost cohesion. The suffocating presence of the Abyss faded as it's body lost cohesion, until finally it winked out, and Xol vanished.

GA2027 floats up through the hole after you, floating past the other dock scarabs that were in the crawlspace. They had perched themselves on all available surfaces, their bodies expertly set down on pipes and small nooks so they would not slide. As you moved past, they disturbed and suddenly lifted off to follow you, chittering to each other about spacing and formations.

Clambering you way back onto the main floor, you make a short hop into the repair dock itself. "Is that open?" You ask, pointing at the ship.

"It's cargo hatch appears to be open." GA2027 noted, floating under it's bottom side.

"That's over open air, though."

"This bay is normally under zero gravity. There's not much I can do about the crash."

"Shit, right. Anywhere else?"

"We could always try cutting the hull open." GA2027 suggested.
>>
>>4069855
"I'd rather not- doesn't it have a hatch or something?" You walk up a nearby set of mesh stairs to get to the set of walkways above the ground floor. "Something with an override."

"Of course it does, ma'am, but that would require you to get to the ship..."

"Why would that be a problem?" You tilt your head, then look at the ship. Then you feel the need to look down and... that's an approximately six meter gap between you and the Rontah's hull. "...oh." You frown. "Right, that is a problem. Uh... can you lift me?"

"I am not rated for heavy lift, ma'am."

"Right..." Your eyes quest over the Rontah, then notice something. It was held in place by clamps, which themselves were linked to a crane on tracks that ran the length of the repair dock. "Hey, that crane there- could we run it? Bring the ship to us."

"It would require power... which would likely mean starting the ship's engines."

"...that doesn't sound like a good idea." You say with a dubious tone. "I don't know how to do that- and I'm not entirely convinced that's something you would know how to do either."

"I am somewhat familiar with the process. We could always consult the ship's AI."

>Just try and long jump it. With Abyss-assistance, obviously.
>If you want to ride it out of here, it'd need to be pointing up anyway, right? Use the crane.
>It's not like you can fly... can you?
>[Write-In]
>>
>>4069856
>It's not like you can fly... can you?
>>
>>4069856
>Just try and long jump it. With Abyss-assistance, obviously.
>>
>>4069856
>Just try and long jump it. With Abyss-assistance, obviously.
Practice first, to make sure we can make it
>>
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>>4069856
>It's not like you can fly... can you?
We got drones flying around all the time. We can manage it too, easy.
>>
>>4069856
>If you want to ride it out of here, it'd need to be pointing up anyway, right? Use the crane.
>>
>>4069856
>It's not like you can fly... can you?
I would suggest asking the dock drones to inspect the ship for bombs before getting too close.
Can we're also ask them to retrieve the data core from maintenance?
>>
>>4070726
>Can we're also ask them to retrieve the data core from maintenance?
Yes, although don't expect them to be delicate about it.
>>
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>>4070941
>Weld core?
>Weld core.
>Weld core!
>>
>It's not like you can fly... can you?
Writing.
>>
You might be in shape, but you're no track and field star. Your best record on the long jump is... what? Four meters? Maybe a little over? And that gap was... not. Even with the Abyss, you're not sure if... what else was in the bay?

"...real quick, I want you to scope it out in there. Make sure there aren't any armed bombs." You glance sidelong at GA2027. "Just to be safe."

"Of course, ma'am. I shall attend to it presently." GA2027 said, while remaining exactly in place. It signaled the dock scarabs, who began pouring into the ship, probing it out while talking to each other about not-welding.

There was enough open walkway for a run up, but that didn't help you. Maybe telekinesis? Could you lift yourself up, slow your fall with some kind of counter thrust? Your telekinesis was clumsy, and you weren't sure you could focus on it while you were moving... uh, yourself. Maybe you could amp up the strength, but you weren't sure if you wanted to direct that much force against your own body.

As you eye the flock of scarabs fluttering about in front of you, it occurs to you that you might be able to get them to lift you up in tandem. Even if each drone could only lift about three kilograms each, judging by how many worked to remove that panel, then all twenty one of them would be able to lift sixty three kilograms. You weigh... just a little over that, which might be a problem. You don't fancy your chances of recovery your impromptu flock of birds dropped you.

That thought also calls to mind your as-to-this-point theoretical ability to change shape. Theoretical in the sense that despite supposedly being so easy to use- you hadn't done so yet. And given your body's... under-developed state, you would sure like for that to kick into gear. Still, it wouldn't do to waste more time trying to figure out how to fly, even if you managed to shift into a bird or sea serpent.

"The ship still contains explosive charges." GA2027 announced eventually. "However, they are not armed, and the ship itself appears to currently be in hibernation."

"Right..." You nod. "Thank you."

>Use a telekinesis-assisted leap. Or a controlled descent, from the upper levels?
>Get the drones to give you a lift.
>Turn into a bird. It's the only logical solution.
>>[Sub-Option] Wake Wander up to help.
>[Write-In]
>>
>>4071586
>[Write-In]
Have the drones make a ladder out of the section of plating that they removed, by cutting foot/ hand holds, and spot welding off cuts together to reshape / extend the the plating as needed to make it fit for purpose. Then use it to bridge the gap.

We should be able to strip the walls if we need more materiel, and the drones should be able to help us stabilize it while it is in use.
>>
>>4071586
>Use a telekinesis-assisted leap. Or a controlled descent, from the upper levels?
Flight and falling are pretty similar feelings. But instead of ground rushing up to meet you, it's gently receding away.

>>4071620 And a big "please no" to complex plans that are liable to result in us inhabiting a pile of jagged semi-welded metal sheets at the bottom of a fatal drop.
>>
>>4071586
>Use a telekinesis-assisted leap. Or a controlled descent, from the upper levels?
>>
>>4072129
Fine, whatever Maybe we should take a break go to engineering, find a suit and on the return trip maybe detour into maintenance and find the datacore that Xol needs that we can use then return.

There should be some sort of personal protective equipment / or an add on's for a suit (or a large mass since that is one of the last things you want moving around, unrestrained if you can help it.) that they would be able to use, to resist a sudden or sustained ( emergency ) unplanned acceleration totally unlike gravity ( electrically magnetized boots and gloves, and paired gyroscopes and flywheels (reaction masses) to some extent, since an unsecured mass starts accelerating as soon as the ship starts maneuvering at all, in microgravity kinda stops being zero-G (on on the scale of things, even pulling a one G maneuver for one second, which is pretty weak on the scale of things in space.) would move an object just under 5 meters (4.905) in one second (regardless of the mass of said object, and it would still be moving at 9.8 meters per second after the maneuver ends).

>>4071586
changing from>>4071620
to
>Use a telekinesis-assisted leap. Or a controlled descent, from the upper levels?
Practice with the removed plating to get a felling for the force (for launching, and landing softly.) we need to use before we try to get ourselves across the gap and back, since there is no guarantee that we going to fire up the engines, and move the crane.
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>>4072570
>Practice with the removed plating to get a felling for the force
What if we made a lift basket out of the plating? Might be easier.
>>
>Use a telekinesis-assisted leap. Or a controlled descent, from the upper levels?
Writing.
>>
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Best to stick with what you know. Although in this case, it's less what you 'know' and more what you're the least worst at. As a test, you find a relatively hole-free strip of walkway, and stand at the end, mentally marking the position. After a moment to gather your thoughts and energy, you dart forward.

Instinctively, you want to let the energy flow through your legs and strengthen your initial leap, but you control yourself, and instead direct it not through your limbs, but directly beneath your body. With a slight grunt, you kick off and leap forward, before immediately lifting your body as hard as you can.

Your hair stood on end, being caught and pulled at by the hazy application of your power. The air visibly rippled like the horizon is summer as it came off of you in waves. You feel... slightly more sluggish as you drop, as if you were tired and not quite processing how fast you were falling. Hitting the ground with a clunk, you bend your knees and carefully look behind you. That was... about four and a half meters. Better than normal, but not good enough.

More power, then.

Once again, you draw more power into yourself, and marvel at how much of it you could wield. You remember ST - or perhaps Easy - commenting at one point that you were particularly strong with the Abyss. From your previous paltry displays of power, you had so far been disinclined to believe them. Moving bottles, jumping up taller ledges- even cloaking had primarily been the result of the device around your arm, which also happened to be stuttering slightly as it soaked up rogue energies. None of it was really you.

That's why it's to your great surprise that when you amp up the amount of power you're using, you don't kick a little bit farther, feel a little bit lighter, but instead lift off the ground and start to fall up. The follow through motion of your leap quickly becomes a tumble as you flip end over end with a squeak of surprise. A smell like cut grass filled the air as the walkway lifted away from you and the Abyss... well, you suppose it's 'leaking' from the sheer amount of power you're calling. The air around you was hazy, crackling with unseen energy and releasing the pleasantly stale scent of death.

Your musing on the effect is cut short as you promptly smack your head on the metallic grate of the walkway above you. Wincing, you rub your head and prop yourself up on the... 'floor'. After the soreness clears, you open your eyes and then... very carefully... stand up.
>>
>>4073639
The illusion of having reversed gravity is a palpable one- the entire hangar appeared to be reversed before you, as you were now standing on the underside of the floor above the Rontah, looking down at it's spinal mounted cannon. Your jacket, your skirt, your bag- they all floated towards the ceiling like that's the direction gravity was taking them, but you knew it was nothing more than your own, uh, slightly overcharged telekinetic field. This was no true reversal of gravity- and the effort of keeping something as heavy as you lifted was already starting to wear on you slightly.

Experimentally, you reach into your bag and pull out a pen, then throw it away from you. Even as it leaves your hand, you can sense it disrupting the field you had erected as it flew away. As it hit the edge, it abruptly starts rocketing towards the 'ceiling' above you, hitting the hidden depths of the repair bay with a distant clack of wood.

This would be useful.

New technique gained: Acceleration field.
A specific application of telekinesis to apply an even amount of acceleration on all objects in a given space. Tiiris' lack of experience with her powers causes the field to be jagged and temperamental, often catching unintended objects and applying much more or less acceleration than intended.

...well, no time like the present.

Very carefully, you place a foot on the guard rail near you - again with these zero gravity safety standards - and kick off into the empty air of the middle of the bay. The loading ramp was apparently on the underside of the ship, which was sensible, considering it's large turret, so you allow the field to ramp down most of the way, and for gravity to tug you inexorably towards the ship. It was an eerie sensation, to fall in what felt like microgravity. Akin to that slow lull in the gravity of tower ships- increasing lightness as the ship deecelerated, then turned.

As you pass under the Rontah, you gently increase the field's strength again and once again reverse, your head's trajectory towards the floor of the repair bay slowing and then eventually stopping as you begin falling upwards again. Your body tumbles somewhat over itself, confused by the strange and twisting acceleration- and with your focus entirely on ensuring the field doesn't fire you into the Rontah's side like a bullet, you can't do anything to stop it either.

Nudging yourself gently, you slowly, carefully direct yourself into the open hatch on the underside, slipping through it and into-

You stick the landing in the open cargo bay by using your face to cushion the rest of your body. In your haste to get in, you drop the field too early and manage to catch your foot on the lip of the hatch and trip over it. As you get to your feet, you realize just how tired you feel all of a sudden. Your limbs feel sore, but it's much more the mental exhaustion of having to focus so intently on channeling your powers.
>>
>>4073647
Adjusting stimulant feed...

You shake your head at the sudden clarity that rushes through your mind. Much better, although you knew that exhaustion could only be staved off so many times before real sleep was required. Thanks, uh... AI.

You're welcome.

Standing up, you look around the bay in front of you. It was a fairly open space, extending from where you were standing to either wall of the ship, and then back roughly forty feet. It's interior was filled with struts and bracing bars that formed a sort of cargo mesh that the crates in the room were linked to with straps and fastenings. Dock scarabs flitted around, checking the labeling and screeching it's contents out loud for the others to hear.

A proximity tag flashes in your mind's eye, letting you know GA2027 has come up behind you. "...so what's that way?" You point towards the rear of the ship.

"The engine room." It answers.

"Right, so then everything else is...?" You point towards the bow of the ship.

"Essentially. Crew quarters, kitchen, bridge. Despite the intimidating cannon, it is inherently a civilian shuttle."

>Head towards the bridge.
>Poke around the cargo bay, first- they never said there were only explosives in here, right?
>What's in the engine room?
>[Write-In]
>>
>>4073648
>Poke around the cargo bay, first- they never said there were only explosives in here, right?
>>
>>4073648
>>Head towards the bridge.
Find the AI and shut down the bombs before we get blown sky high in a big kaboom.
>>
>>4073648
>What's in the engine room?
If Valkan tech is Abyss-powered we might do well to get a feel of what makes it tick.
>>
>>4073639
> You remember ST - or perhaps Easy - commenting at one point that you were particularly strong with the Abyss.
Pretty sure that was Jess. Or... maybe everyone has commented on it at some point.

I'm blown away every time we do something Abyss related, and it turns out way more powerful than I was imagining. A month of improvised training and a couple hours of having cybernetics installed, and Tiiris is already blowing your average Jedi or Biotic out of the water. Acceleration/levitation field. Awesome.

Just need to work on our landings! Feet first, NOT face.
>>
>>4073648
>Head towards the bridge.
See if we can find where, we need to install Xol, and what we would need to do to get it flight worthy.At least, in atmosphere for now.

We still need to go back to the other side of the hull for a few things ( go back for anything not bolted down in Kallis's room( the battle rifle, and pistols may also be useful if we can figure out a way to conceal them safely, and to arm our friends with something just in case someone comes knocking while we are away doing something.), the medical bot, and on the way back, engineering to see if we can get ourselves a suit. ),since we now have a way out, with space to spare, so we can put whatever we can fit in here and have it get it outside the perimeter (which we can arrange to pick up later.), somewhat safely.

Though i still think we should leave on foot, in order to avoid suspicion, we should also consider trying to clean our clothes before we leave.
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>>4074086
And maintenence to get the data core
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>>4073812
If you think of using powers as plugging various machines in and unplugging them, what Tiiris isn't quite realizing about her powers is that she isn't plugging them into the wall. She's plugging them into a goddamn lightning rod.
>>
>A smell like cut grass filled the air as the walkway lifted away from you and the Abyss... well, you suppose it's 'leaking' from the sheer amount of power you're calling. The air around you was hazy, crackling with unseen energy and releasing the pleasantly stale scent of death.
>The air around you was hazy, crackling with unseen energy and releasing the pleasantly stale scent of death.
>the pleasantly stale scent of death.
hm
hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm okay

>>4074340
I'm sure there are no side effects whatsoever.
>>
>>4073648
>Poke around the cargo bay, first- they never said there were only explosives in here, right?
>>
Got a split between cargo and bridge- and in this instance, I'm just gonna do both. After all- you won't say no to another robot will you?
>>
"They couldn't have been carrying... just explosives, right?" You ask, raising an eyebrow.

"Possibly." GA2027 replied. "The exact specifics of cargo loading are generally beyond me. However..." It turned it's body around, aiming it's camera into the gloom. "There should be an attendant drone in these crates..."

Nodding, you automatically start walking deeper into the cargo bay. Boxes were stacked up around you in odd, erratic patterns, with gaps cleared as certain cargo was removed, leaving others in their place. All of the explosives onboard were fairly easy to spot- just look for the gigantic, ominous metal crates that were banded their entire lengths with black and orange hazard lines. And there were a lot of them. Then again, you suppose you'd need a lot to take down a ship this size.

You warily eye them as you consider the implications of leaving them behind. While you didn't fancy the idea of flying out of here with a hold full of high explosives, the idea of letting the army continue their safety track record with high explosives wasn't great, either. Then again, if they went off, at least only the people near the ship would get hurt...

You have to remind yourself that you didn't come here to steal a ship, you came here to get Elan and Kara help... and yourself. Speaking of...

"I need a few of you to go to maintenance." You say, glancing at a few nearby dock scarabs. "See if there are any datacores. And tell me if there's a free, clean suit. Bring it back if you can, but if you can't, just bring me the datacore."

"Retrieve!" One replies enthusiastically, simultaneously bickering with the rest of the swarm about which of them would go to do t he job.

You tune out the rest of their conversation, instead continuing to peruse the crates. Occasionally, you would ask a nearby dock scarab to translate the label for you- usually for it to turn out the crate was loaded down with water, food - which was disappointingly all ash when you opened the crate - and occasionally a crate of more esoteric components. One was a case full of canisters in foam, with a familiar translucent orange liquid inside.

"Low-grade structure gel." The dock scarab identifies.

"Huh. I have a drone that uses an orange fluid to fix things, is it the same?" You turn to look at the dock scarab.

It stares at you a long time. "...weld?"

"Nevermind." You put the canister back in it's case and slide it shut, moving over to the next case, then blink at it's appearance. It was a heavy-looking thing that was bigger than a coffin, it's surface all grippy polymer and waved edges for grip. Unlike the other crates, it was set alone, with several heavy metal straps locking it firmly in place. On the lid was a small port, just large enough to insert a small card- or perhaps one of those data chits you saw before. Giving it an experimental knock, you don't hear an echo. Must be solid a good way through, then. "What's this?"
>>
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>>4075328
"Unlabeled." It responded.

"Seems to be pretty important." You muse, tapping on the lid some more. "Kind of intense looking for a crate..."

"It's a suit of heavy combat armor, the property of Ser Housley." A new voice sounds. You turn and immediately tilt your head at what appears to be an approaching wall of metal, before noticing the data tag attached to it. "Of course, he's dead now." HH5995 has a remarkably human, expressive voice, and was a good foot taller than you, all segmented metal and boxy shapes. "An important thing to have when attempting to storm a lifeship with just a few soldiers."

"Um, hello." You fidget in place. "My name is Tiiris..."

"Hello, Tiiris." HH5995 replied. "I'm told you needed help with our cargo manifest. How can I help?"

"...you're the attendant drone?" You ask in disbelief, pointing at him. "But you're huge!"

"Raw strength is important when you need to lift heavy crates." It said- he said? Instead of the normal sexless quality most Valkan drones had to their voices, it was remarkably more masculine sounding. Similar to the way Easy sounds- you miss Easy's nigh-ubiquitous presence...

"Right... heavy combat armor? Is that like, uh... the same kind of thing suit everyone on this ship seems to wear?" You ask, thinking of how thin and... well, vacsuit like the bodies you'd found on the ship so far seemed.

"No, those are lifesuits. This is a heavy piece of combat equipment." It turned it's body, facing the crate. "Unfortunately, unless you have Ser Housley's command key, or a very good blowtorch, this won't be opening anytime soon."

"Aren't we surrounded by blowtorches?" You ask, looking at the dock scarabs and GA2027 as it came floating in behind HH5995.

"A very good blowtorch." It stressed. "This is a dangerous piece of equipment in untrained hands."

"How dangerous?" You perk up in interest.

"Onboard shields, plasma converter and strength enhancement... some Abyss doohickeys that I'm not sure about..."

Very appealing, in other worlds. "Cool..."

HH5995 turns to look at you. "Do you require an escort to the bridge, captain?"

"Huh?" You blink, before holding up your hands and shaking your head. "Oh, um, I'm not the captain..."

"Everyone else is dead." It said bluntly. "That makes you the captain."

"...I'm not sure that's how it works."

"Sure it is." HH5995 said brightly, walking past you in large, brisk strides. "Nobody alive left to tell me what I should do. And frankly I'd like to have more things to do."

"Um... o-okay?" You glance at GA2027, who seems to give you the robotic equivalent of a shrug.
>>
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>>4075334
The odd, walking obelisk leads you through a door at the far end of the cargo bay- which you note to some amusement is almost perfectly sized to fit HH5995's body through. Immediately through that was a hallway- much like most of the other halls you'd walked through today. Unlike most hallways you'd been through today, this was clean- well, not clean exactly. The air was stale, and a thin layer of dust had settled on the floor, but for the most part it didn't exude the sense that you were in a wrecked ship.

As HH5995 leads you down the hallway, you spot a few open doorways leading into a small kitchenette, then a small cleaning closet of some kind. Little, domestic things, despite their state of disuse. The ship was... civilian. Militarized, to a point, but not steeped in bracing and secured components and massive bulkheads sealing off sections of the ship.

The bridge itself was another 'fake' bridge using monitors built into the walls, but it was a comfortable, well-appointed thing, with a thin, oblong shape. Two console stations - similar to the one you'd seen on the Tanoh's command deck - were set into recesses on either side of you, with a third mounted above and behind you. Curiously, what looked almost like the admiral's wheel on a ship was mounted to the front of the deck, but without any apparent purpose or nearby switches. It was very dimly lit, but maybe it was just decorative?

"...cozy litle place." You note, looking around.

"Yep." HH5995 noted, twisting to 'face' you with it's featureless body. "I'd wake up the ship's intelligence, but it needs an actual sentient to do it..."

"Why?" You frown. "No other AI I've seen has needed to be told."

"Because it was told to sleep by the previous captain. It won't wake up for anyone but the captain. That is, you."

>Wake it up.
>You don't need to, yet.
>[Write-In]
>>
>>4075342
>You don't need to, yet.
We should wait for Xol's directions, before we wake it since we don't want to have to try and talk it down, without help. since we don't know what it's last directives were, and they could be anything, since i would assume that the crew would be out planting the explosives, the AI might be linked up to the detonator or something. and there is no that they didn't have a contingency, in place for being discovered, or being unable to return.
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>>4075342
>You don't need to, yet.
Not unless we're actually going to pilot the thing. Because as is, we don't have any idea how to fly it at all and we all know how it's going to end.
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>>4075342
>You don't need to, yet.
>>
>>4075357
+1
>>
>You don't need to, yet.
Writing.
>>
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"Uh... but I don't need to, right?"

"No, ma'am." HH5995 replied in surprise. "But is that not why you boarded this vessel?"

"I was just curious about what's onboard." You shake your head. "I'm not sure if..." You're saved from fully answering that question by the arrival of a group of dock scarabs, with a familiar green-colored glass core suspended between them.

"Datacore!"

"Oh, thank you." You smile, holding out a hand and taking it from them. Holding it up, you glance at it, visually inspecting it for any cracks or damage. The numbering on the side was worn through by time, but it appeared to be intact. You'd have to ask Xol if it was good enough.

Item added to inventory: Datacore No. 2 (Empty)
An empty datacore, retrieved from the maintenance bay by dock scarabs. It appears to be only superficially damaged by the crash.

Pocketing it, you glance at GA2027 and smile. So far, so good. Now all you needed was a plan to escape...

Speaking of, you pull out your phone and check the time. 6:40PM. You'd been missing for over four hours, now. The possibility of you being overlooked, lost or just... missing was growing increasingly unlikely- it was time to make a choice. Either you could stay in the ship, and almost assuredly get found out... or you could grab Xol, the medical drone and get the hell out of dodge.

But there was so much valuable equipment you would be leaving behind. Your mother's things, weapons, all of the drones aboard this ship... you probably couldn't take any of it with you, either. Or maybe some of it- the cloaking device on your arm was somehow immune to detection. What's was, and what wasn't? If only you could waaaaaait-

"Hey. Hey, HH. You're a cargo attendant drone, right? That's what kind of robot you are?"

"Yes, ma'am." HH5995 sounded surprised, as if it was rarely asked this question.

"What does that mean, exactly? What is it you do?"

"I speak with customs officials when in dock, organize the cargo of the ship for maximum efficiency, and also serve as a heavy lift unit. I'm the quartermaster, so to speak."

"Okay. But what exactly do you do in customs?"

"I speak with non-Valkan officials, declare cargo contents, obfuscate cargo content-"

"That!" You interrupt it. "What do you mean by that?"

"Well, not all stations or planets are exactly friendly to Valkans- or worse, are reverent of them. Many choose to travel without acknowledging their status, and it's my job to make sure their belongings aren't identified as what they truly are. That or dangerous hardware isn't seen as what it is."

"I need to get through a military checkpoint, they have these... scanner things. I forget what they're called. Millimeter scanners? Digital strip scanners? How could I smuggle things past that?"

"Depends on what you're carrying." HH5995 replies. "Did they scan you on your way in?"

You nod.
>>
>>4077210
"That limits your options- if your bulk drastically changed, they'd notice. That said, before and after scans are rarely compared by non-Valkan operators. Transformable hardware is, by it's nature, usually appears to be whatever it's configured as to any non-Valkan... unless they're a hedge mage."

"Usually?"

"It is inherently a facade. With enough examination, any ordinary person could likely discover it's... properties. If they don't require Abyssal powers to use, that is."

"Right... but on a scanner, it would appear normal?"

"Yes. A few other things can slip by, due to their composition. Small electronics, for example. They appear on scanners as such... but everyone carries electronics. Unless it's a particularly odd shape, they're not going to question it. Lifesuits in particular are designed to be unobtrusive- more Valkans have been caught because it was configured in a suspicious shape than any anomalous sensor readings."

That right there gives you a lot of hope. You'd thought your only option before was to blow your way out if you wanted to take anything with you, but here HH5995 was saying you might be able to get a few small things out anyway. "What about something like this?" You ask, holding up the datacore.

"For non-transformable hardware like that, it can be more tricky." It phrased it as delicately as it could. "It will appear as what it is on scanners- an electronic device of some description. The best way to obfuscate that is to not, and just keep it with other electronics. Officials usually shrug those off. Disguising it as something else can be useful- a datacore can make a very convincing flashlight bulb, for example. If you have some kind of insulating material, you can simply shield it inside the case itself- although that requires specialty Abyss-forged luggage. Generally with transformable material in the false bottom."

"I don't have a lot of stuff like that..." You muse. Maybe you could pass it off to someone in the building? But who? It's not like Joran showed up himself today. "Still... something to keep in mind."

This was your last chance to decide. What would your next course of action be? You'd need to commit to whatever decision you made.

>Stay inside, and resign yourself to the reality that you'll likely have to turn yourself over to the Tagaran military- or at least, negotiate with them.
>>[Sub-Option] ...is there any reason you can't just... stay inside here for a few days?
>Prepare to make a very loud, very antagonizing escape with the Rontah.
>Grab Xol, the medical drone, and whatever you can carry to get the fuck out of dodge.
>[Write-In]
>>
>>4077211
>Grab Xol, the medical drone, and whatever you can carry to get the fuck out of dodge.
>>
>>4077211
>>Prepare to make a very loud, very antagonizing escape with the Rontah.
We're taking all the robots outta here woohoo
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>>4077211
>Prepare to make a very loud, very antagonizing escape with the Rontah.
I'm sorry, Bentus, but if this wins this quest is going to be getting a little more... interesting :^)
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>>4077230
I am fully prepared to accept the consequences of my actions.
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>>4077211
Is there any reason why the ship needs us aboard to leave, why not just put everything that could be found, bar the Lensing Field Generator since we will absolutely need it to get outside the perimeter, hopefully undetected. on the ship and arrange to meet up with it later.

If we wanted to we could even have them delay leaving in the Rontah until we are outside the perimeter.
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>>4077211
>Prepare to make a very loud, very antagonizing escape with the Rontah.
>>
Oh yeah. Can't the Rontah just go on autopilot while we get out the way we came in? Should we install old man Xol into the ship so it'll do what we ask for?
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>>4077242
>>4077277
You can absolutely do that- but just keep in mind that'll fairly drastically escalate the situation. Because you're literally having an armed Valkan ship exploding out of the side of Hull II after they were supposedly all dead.
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>>4077211
>Grab Xol, the medical drone, and whatever you can carry to get the fuck out of dodge.
They will have a million AA missiles armed and trained on us. I don't want to go down in a fireball thank you very much.
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>>4077283
Well it's not like there will be anything of value in the wreck once we leave.
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>>4077283
All that means is that we should consider "allowing" it to be found after we get our stuff off it, as long as we are careful it will have served it purpose.

All we need to do is contact ST and figure out where we could meet, or stash everything and transfer everything slowly over time.
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>>4077211
>Prepare to make a very loud, very antagonizing escape with the Rontah.
Yeeee hawwww
>>
>>4077211
>Prepare to make a very loud, very antagonizing escape with the Rontah.
Screw the Tagaran military they'd just sell all this stuff on the black market anyway. We're taking it with us!
Can we get a ship-sized cloaking device?
>>
>it's actually happening
Tiiris sure soaked up that Valkan pride to go with all that Abyss energy.
>>
>>4077211
>Prepare to make a very loud, very antagonizing escape with the Rontah.
I think I was leaning towards a stealthy exit, but seeing how many others are all for a loud exit...

I'm kind of overcome with empathy for the Drones. They just want to do their jobs. They have reverent awe for their organic Valkan people. Then they saw all their people die. Now they're hibernating, waiting for their own end to come. That sucks. And the military is paranoid enough to shoot anything that moves once they get in, medical or cargo drones included. They only care about the tech; the guns.

Hull II is a tomb. Nobody is left to care about the robot people left inside, except us. So I'd very much like to give them the choice to come with. New beginnings, new life. Those that would prefer to stay... that's up to them.

...but if we do this we need to go back to Mom's quarters and grab EVERYTHING. Because Mom.

...also, it would also be interesting to see the look on Joran's face when he realizes that yes, he okayed a teenager going into Hull II, and yes, she reacted exactly the way a teenager would to having a legion of tanks and railguns suddenly pointed at her.
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>>4077415
It's fairly simplistic to scale up a cloaking device, but the amount of power required to cloak is going to increase with the volume- which is much greater for a ship. Now, take what you've seen the effects of pulling a lot of Abyss energy can cause, and you can see why ship-size cloaking devices are pretty impractical. Sure, the ship itself is invisible, and you can supply the power with a large enough team working in unison.

The titanic vortex of glowing Abyss power centered on it is not exactly subtle, though.
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>>4077211
>Grab Xol, the medical drone, and whatever you can carry to get the fuck out of dodge.
Please don't kill Tiiris before she gets bimbofied by implants.
>>
AAAAAAAAAAAAAA IF TIIRIS GETS BLOWN TO A MILLION PIECES I SWEAR
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>Prepare to make a very loud, very antagonizing escape with the Rontah.
Writing.
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>>4078905
It's been a good run people. We go this far only to get blasted by a SAM or run through by a railgun in midair.
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>>4078928
We could possibly use the warskins in the lower hangar as decoys, Since the rail guns can't rotate instantaneously or go back to fire control and bring online as many turrets as we can in order to give the rail guns something to shoot at and escape while they are reloading. also the Rontah may have a shield generator so it might be able to shrug off a glancing shot or two
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>>4078950
The Rontah is shielded.
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>>4078954
Will we need to power it or, can it do it itself?

Also would it be able to facetank a railgun shot, or not?
>>
>>4078959
Shields are electrically powered off the powerplant, not Abyss-powered. A few Tagaran ships are actually shielded by this point, although it's crude. So no need to plug a Tiiris into the ship to get them up.

I can't say anything as to the Rontah's capabilities as you haven't seen them yet, but if you recall, the Tanoh was able to shrug off multiple hits by Tagaran ships with it's shields up. At the climax of the war, the Tagaran weapon of choice was nukes fired out of a railgun and it only worked some of the time. The Rontah is tiny in comparison, but I hope that's illustrative as to the kind of durability increase shields confer.
>>
>>4078977
So we can survive a few shots. But I don't think people have actually given much thought to what we're gonna do once we're out. They'll send the whole damn navy after us and we'll be macrossed the instant we step out if we land. Where the hell are we going to go?
>>
>>4078977
So we can assume that the railguns that are shooting at us do have access to nukes, just that they probably don't have them loaded.
yet
>>
>>4078987
We aren't moving directly to launch after this, so you'll have some time to consider it and make a plan.

>>4078988
Allow me to correct myself: the ship-to-ship weapon of choice. It would take a lot of engineering to squeeze a nuke into a slug the size of your forearm. That and the Tagarans aren't stupid enough to use nuclear weapons a few dozen miles from a populated area. They're incompetent, but not THAT incompetent.
>>
>>4078987
I guess we have a couple of choices, have it lay low until this blows over It's probably going to take a while, but we aren't necessarily restricted to hiding on Tagara, since it's is rated for space, although hiding the fact it was us is kind of going to be heard if we don't turn up for school., have them drop off our stuff somewhere, so we can go get it later. Then deliberately get "found" by the government.

>>4078992
I would assume that they would figure out / have a way to deal with smaller craft, that were shielded, especially if they are fielding their own.

It wouldn't have to be a big one, tactical nukes(man portable) can fit in a backpack it just kinda weighs 80 Kg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Atomic_Demolition_Munition
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tactical_nuclear_weapon
>>
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"Back so soon?" Xol faded into existence, raising it's head up to look at you as you dropped in. "Ah, the datacore."

You drop down into the AI core again, datacore firmly gripped in one hand. "If I installed you into a different ship, would you be able to fly it?" You ask, standing up.

"Yes?" Xol seemed surprised. "Is the Rontah's AI damaged?"

"No, but I don't trust it." You mutter. "What if it was told to detonate all the explosives if anything went wrong? What if it just blows me and everyone else up when it turns on?"

"An astute observation. The AI would likely not think much of sacrificing itself for it's master." Xol made a slight 'hum' sound, although it came out more like a soft rattle.

"The thought of ordering anyone to commit suicide... doesn't sit well with me." You shudder, mind going to old science fiction films. "Feels wrong. Even for a computer."

"I am sure anyone who serves under you would be happy to hear that." Xol noted with amusement. It's avatar flickered slightly as it... well, shrunk. Going from a massive snake that took up most of the room to something you might see in a terrarium somewhere. "Have you ever used portable storage?"

"Uh, what? Like a flash drive? Of course I have."

"Good. Insert the drive into my central databank." The lights on one of the boxes set into the floor pulsed as an indication.

Fumbling a little as you try to avoid stepping on anything important, you probe the sides of the box with your fingers. Eventually, they dip into a roughly fist-sized hole in the sides, which you can feel sharp metal edges within. With a bit more blind fumbling, you slot the core into the side and step back.

Xol flickers, then vanishes. All the lights on the consoles blink out, leaving the AI core completely in darkness. You hold your breath, hoping that you didn't just accidentally kill Xol with a faulty datacore or something. A dull green light ignites inside the datacore, and it pops out from it's position with a muted click. Reaching down, you remove it, studying the glowing Abyssal energy that permeates it before pocketing it.

Item added to inventory: Datacore No. 2 (Xol)
A datacore containing the fragment of Ouroboros, Xol. It glows with a faint green light and Abyss signature.

---

1845 HOURS
19TH OF 5TH, 1173
SPECIAL INDUSTRIAL ZONE, SITE II

What have you gotten yourself into this time, Joran?

You rub hard at your head, blinking as your cybernetics struggle to refocus on the distant sight of Hull II. It looked almost insignificant from this far out- so far you couldn't even make up the individual tanks that were ringing it, only the suggestion of their presence left by tracks and kicked up ash.

"So what's your assessment of the situation, Captain?"

"My assessment?" You turn and raise your eyebrows. "We've never been in a situation like this before. A Valkan ship at our mercy?"
>>
>>4079046
"You have the most experience of anyone here." The man across from you says. He was older than you by only a few years, but significantly outranked you. The price of persuing a career away from the frontlines, you suppose. "Not like we have any diplomatic experts on the Valkans to fall back on."

"Begging your pardon, sir." You mutter, thinking. "If I had to bet... some kind of computer program that's either malfunctioning or trying to follow a command we accidentally sent it. Any word from the crews about that?" You don't even believe the words when they left your mouth. Of course you knew about how much Valkans automated things, anyone who'd survived the war would know that. But your meeting with Tiiris' pet drone had changed that. It seemed... alive, almost. Mildly terrifying, and sounding like a aluminum can was fucking a synthesizer, but alive.

They didn't seem like the kind of things that would get confused or malfunction.

Admiral Silva shook his head. "They weren't even cutting when it opened up."

"Sometimes computers are just slow. Maybe whatever we did simply took this long to process? The ship has been blown in two." You suggest.

"Not entirely in two." Silva says. "In fact, I-" A polite cough sounded behind both of you, and he turned to look back at the ensign waiting patiently. "Ah, yes, Ensign Vadia?"

"Sir, we've completed the headcount of civilian personnel. We've come up a few short."

That gets Silva's attention. "How many short?"

"Eleven- six were workers who were no-shows for their shifts today. Four are researcher staff who failed to report to their rally points. The last one, uh..." She swallowed, looking visibly uncomfortable. You feel your artificial stomach twist anxiously. "Uh, one of the students who was visiting today hasn't turned up. Tiiris Elson. She was last seen near the Hull II and we have yet to locate her."

"Tiiris Elson?" Silva asked, his eyebrows going up. Recognition passed across his face. Of course he would recognize her, why wouldn't he? He was the one you'd gotten to sign her letter of recommendation to the damn tour today. You'd asked him to as a favor. The little gears were practically turning in his head and he marched towards the instinctive, logical conclusion.

A young person- in the sixteen to twenty two age category. Present with bad incidents with Valkan technology happen. Mysteriously missing when said incidents do, and clearly not supposed to be wherever she is. If he bothered to look up her file in the next few minutes, he'd also likely note the known medical condition, and put two and two together.

You should just stay quiet. There was no need to stick your neck out for Elson, they'd already given you the data drive. Your deal was done, over. You'd held up your end of the bargain faithfully, and now she could lie in the grave she chose for herself.

Damn your parental instincts.

"Uh, actually, sir?" You clear your throat. "I know where she is..."

---
>>
>>4079047
Command Deck, Tanoh
19th of 5th, 1173. 7:00PM.

"...aye, aye. I will gather what supplies I can and report to the Rontah." The medical drone - LL1100, rather - responded, staring at your... well, you're unsure of what it really counted as.

With the direction of GA2027, you had hooked Xol's datacore up to the computers on the other side of the break. Except, you got the reasoning it was something of a patch job, as Xol was currently communicating through a radio and the consoles in Launch Control. You suppose there was a reason that Xol didn't have a redundant AI core or something. If it was that easy, they would have done it.

You watch as LL1100 turns and coasts out of the command deck, disturbing a small wake of dust from the walls as it went. That was one thing done. You turn back to the console. "So, now all that's left is to get everything we want to load the Rontah up with."

"It will take time." Xol's voice buzzed in your head. "The issue is not volume nor carrying capacity, but time. The longer we take, the more the situation outside..." An image of the ship's gunnery cameras popped up. You seem to recall there being less tanks before.

"Then I'd better get moving, then..." You scratch the back of your head nervously. "It's not like the dock scarabs are going to herd themselves."

"There is one more thing."

"Huh?" You ask, leaning forward. "What do you mean?"

"To increase our odds- I could set the ship's doors to open automatically- perhaps on a timer. A peace offering of sorts. That or..." Xol paused. "There is enough power left in the point defense cannons to open fire. I could clear a path for our exit."

"I don't think the military would take kindly to that."

"They wouldn't, but that's not the point, is it?"

>Set the turrets to open fire on the tanks as you leave.
>>[Sub-Option] Don't actually hit any, though. Just warning shots or interception.
>Open the doors up after you leave.

>Go and retrieve your mother's things. (30 minutes)
>Revisit the lower hangar bay and ask the warskins there to come with you. (1 hour)
>Visit the upper hangar bar and see if there are any robots you missed up there. (1 hour and 30 minutes)
>Raid maintenance for anything useful. (30 minutes)
>[Write-In]
>>
>>4079048
>Set the turrets to open fire on the tanks as you leave.
>>[Sub-Option] Don't actually hit any, though. Just warning shots or interception.
prioritize the limitation of damage, to Hull II
>Open the doors up after you / the Rontah leave.
Make sure that any of the drones that we met, if they decide not to come with us don't shoot, when things calm down, and they resume / investigate, the remains or the fact that we were here.

>[Write-In]
See if we can get a message out to ST, notifying them of / apologizing for whatever dumb plan we decide to go with before things kick off.
then
>Go and retrieve your mother's things. (30 minutes)
and
>[Write-In]
Go see if we can find a suit in engineering, and maybe grab some "spares" for the others if time permits.

If Joran is covering for us, is there anything stopping us from just getting outside the perimeter, using one of the breaches in the Hull to avoid using the doors, and meeting up ST and eventually the Rontah later.
>>
>>4079048
>Set the turrets to open fire on the tanks as you leave.
>>[Sub-Option] Don't actually hit any, though. Just warning shots or interception.

>Go and retrieve your mother's things. (30 minutes)
>Raid maintenance for anything useful. (30 minutes)
>Revisit the lower hangar bay and ask the warskins there to come with you. (1 hour)
>>
>>4079048
>Set the turrets to open fire on the tanks as you leave.
>>[Sub-Option] Don't actually hit any, though. Just warning shots or interception.

>Revisit the lower hangar bay and ask the warskins there to come with you. (1 hour)
>Visit the upper hangar bar and see if there are any robots you missed up there. (1 hour and 30 minutes)
>Raid maintenance for anything useful. (30 minutes)

We're getting out and taking everyone outta here.
>>
>>4079048
>Open the doors up after you leave.
Don't shoot! The tanks aren't even the real problem, it's the railguns. Shooting first just escalates the situation.
Doesn't matter if the doors are left open, if we're taking everything important.

>Go and retrieve your mother's things. (30 minutes)
>Revisit the lower hangar bay and ask the warskins there to come with you. (1 hour)
>Visit the upper hangar bar and see if there are any robots you missed up there. (1 hour and 30 minutes)
Hell with it. Working til 10:00 is a late night and they're reinforcing outside all the while, but it pays to be thorough.

The irony here is that Joran is the one that stressed that Valkans are shot on sight or killed in custody. He's the one that ratcheted the slightly naive teenager's paranoia through the roof. I don't know if I feel sorry for him or not.
>>
>>4079048
Uh, uh, undo this. I've suddenly changed my mind.
>>
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>>4079192
>INTO SPAAAACE
>>
>>4079048
>>Revisit the lower hangar bay and ask the warskins there to come with you. (1 hour)
>>Visit the upper hangar bar and see if there are any robots you missed up there. (1 hour and 30 minutes)
This is such a bad idea on every level

If we're going to shoot, then we should try shooting the security systems and cameras so we won't be detected.
>>
It's stressful and terrifying going in a direction we weren't expecting, but there are lots of pieces coming together here from what I can see. Bentus has been dropping background info as we go.

Tiiris is comfortable in space. Spent part of her childhood there.
>>4059106 GA said the Rontah is hyperspace-capable.
>>4069853 Xol added that humans and worlds able to support them are all over the place.
>>4077210 HH mentioned space stations, planets that are friendly to Valkans, and ones that are outright worshipful of them.

I think there were two directions for this plot. One is the continuation of the Tagara Arc, sneaking about and learning more about our Valkan heritage. The other, the one we're on, doesn't take place on Tagara at all.

Maybe we could swing by and pick up Dad on the way. Radio ST, tell him to haul his ass to a rendezvous point. Our crappy apartment sucks ass, anyway.
Maybe we could leave the medical drone for our friends. Possibly not a good idea, in case we run into complications with the surgery ourselves.
Maybe we could stealth back in a couple years, after things have calmed down. Help Tiiris's friends then.

But most of the world would shoot Tiiris because of her genes, imprison and kill her, or outright dissect her. Joran said as much, and he was the freaking hero in the intro thread. Tagara is a corrupt interstellar backwater full of angry spacefaring hillbillies.

So let's blow this popsicle stand.
>>
>>4079370
The universe has a kind of Age of Strife-like feel to it. Humanity is balkanised and scattered, mostly reduced to single-planet, itinerant and otherwise small civilisations that don't even know of each other or where they came from and have seemingly lost a lot of their best tech and while some are advanced they vary wildly. Maybe we'll get to the bottom of it as part of the process of gallivanting around in space.
>>
>>4079048
Everybody seems to want to bring ALL the robots on the ship with us, and frankly, so do I. That said, we need to delegate tasks. Can we have Xol contact the upper and lower hangar bay, or have our drone (HH?) go there and get the warskins & others since drones can move faster than people, while we go retrieve mom's stuff?
>>
>>4079490
The times given are a slight abstraction to make it easy. Tiiris won't be directly involved, but they're how much time it will take to get them on the Rontah, over all.
>>
Wait, if there are more Valkan Fleets than just the 13th, that means we truly are not a Child of a Dead Empireā„¢ at all!
Bentus, you lied to me!
>>
>>4080337
Since they can't build new ships, every time a Fleet splinters there are less and less ships available for them to use for successive Fleets, so the number of people that they can support decreases, so in effect it's not dead, just dying slowly.

There has to be a reason why they can't just build new ones, in space or something, maybe we should ask Xol.
>>
>>4080337
So far, what has the Valkan signature bit been with the magic. It's a double meaning and a pun. Yes, I know.

>>4080384
Actually, if you recall the sideflash with Kathari, she mentions that it's not because they can't build new ships- but rather not every fleet has the infrastructure to construct new vessels. The 12th, for example, lacked a foundry ship to make more capital ships. It's just logistically very daunting to build from scratch in space.
>>
>>4080530
So depending on how old the Tanaoh is / Xol was installed, he would be able to identify some (at least one) of the Fleets that had the ability to make additional ships.

Does the Fleets designation denote chain length (If the 11th Fleet split again after the Twelfth fleet left, would the new fleet be the 13th or the 14th?), or absolute number since they were forced into space. or do they still somehow keep in contact with the other Fleets.
>>
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>Set the turrets to open fire on the tanks as you leave.
>>[Sub-Option] Don't actually hit any, though. Just warning shots or interception.

>Get a message out to ST.
>>Revisit the lower hangar bay and ask the warskins there to come with you. (1 hour)
>>Visit the upper hangar bar and see if there are any robots you missed up there. (1 hour and 30 minutes)
>Go and retrieve your mother's things. (30 minutes)
>Raid maintenance for anything useful. (30 minutes)
Writing.

>>4079067
For that spoiler, we will have a separate vote on whether you want to ride out with it or not.

>>4079192
The people have spoken.

>>4079403
If it helps provide some perspective, this is a rough approximation of your position in the galaxy.

>>4080560
Absolute number- it's akin to having your sovereignty acknowledged by other nations when you get assigned a number of your own. If the 7th had a splinter fleet tomorrow, it'd be the 14th.
>>
>>4080716
So the 13th Fleet was in contact (somehow), to some degree with the other Fleets, since they are kinda all dead, how long is it going to be before someone comes to investigate why they stopped communicating, and the word gets out, the inevitable response, is probably going to really heavy handed.

What is the likelihood that the government knows and is preparing for the worst.
>>
>>4080726
More accurately: they were in contact with the other fleets roughly two hundred years ago. Messages only travel at lightspeed, after all.
>>
>>4080730
2nd Last question,
Is hyperspace travel Faster Than Light, or just a significant percentage of c.

They would have to be keeping track of one another somehow, to help offset the large amounts of energy they would need to dump into empty space in order to talk, which would likely be picked up by and civilization with access to radio communications, otherwise they would have to have very good understanding of low probability of intercept communications

Something similar to

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low-probability-of-intercept_radar
>>
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>>4080750
Tagaran hyperspace travel tops out at speeds of about 12c. Valkan speeds are... much higher.

As for that second bit well you'll just have to find out wont ya.
>>
>>4080716
Oh jesus christ.
>>
>>4080756
Whatever we do, we really need to avoid a collision because the consequences would be locally catastrophic even on the low end .(Spontaneous fission of the involved masses) , and on the high end (with enough involved mass combined with high speeds) potentially system endingly bad. mini Black holes, supernova, gamma ray burst, expanding gravitational overpressure wave / crossing Event horizons style spaghettification of everything it touches while expanding at the speed of light, until the Black hole's energy level stabilizes for its mass. (all that energy contained by a mass traveling at at speed grater than c needs to go somewhere after all.)

I wonder if the Valkans have ever documented such an occurrence, it at least explains why they have their AI do all the piloting.
>>
>inb4 it's all revealed to be a simulation shown to us by Xol
HAHA RIGHT
>>
>>4080846
Forgive me for not being more clear- you don't actually accelerate to 12c like in Mass Effect. Traveling through hyperspace is more of a jump than warping. It's effectively moving at 12c until you drop out of hyperspace. There's no danger of accidentally antimattering stars and other crazy shit.
>>
>>4080911
But if you were really unlucky or deliberately you could still drop out of hyperspace inside of something else, right?

That would still cause an explosion / fission.
>>
>>4080916
In theory, yes. In practical use, if you reference the prologue, you'll notice them reacting in shock to Hull I exiting hyperspace at an altitude of 109km above Tagara. The rule is- the more mass that's in the way, the more difficult it is to push it aside. The normal interstellar medium doesn't pose much difficulty, but even something as thin as the atmosphere beyond the karman line can prevent you from exiting hyperspace where you want to. Even Valkan ships have trouble with it.
>>
>>4080923
So basically, you either, dump a pre-calculated amount of energy into the "fold" deviceor sustain the required energy for the appropriate amount of time the tunnel needs to take you how ever far you want to go. it then bridges via the "Dirac sea" in the direction you want to go until the energy runs out, then dumps you back into real space, and the efficiency / error of the "jump" is impacted by the mass in the way of the "tunnel".
>>
>>4080936
Do you have "autism"
>>
"Let's... not... do that-" You start to drawl, but think better of it. "Actually, yes, do that- but only fire warning shots. We want to distract them, not kill them."

"Do you think that's wise?"

"Probably not." You concede. "But they're just doing their jobs. And I'm sure this whole situation is incredibly spooky from the outside."

"One way of putting it." Xol drawls, growing silent. "Firing routine set. Yank me."

"Not yet." You say. "Real quick- can you contact the lower hangar bay, get the attention of the two warskins down there?"

"Allow me to check... yes, I appear to have intercom access. May I ask why?"

"Tell them that Tiiris wants them to come with her. I'm not leaving anyone behind unless they stay behind."

"I'll tell them they can be destructive on their way over." Xol said. "Anything else?"

"You said you had the intercom, what about your radios?"

"The laser communications array is non-functional, but we can send an encrypted broadcast."

"Good. I need you to send a message out to my warskin. His designation is ST0504. Tell him what we're about to do, and to wait for me a safe distance from the base. I'm okay, but my alibi could use some work..."

"Message sent... received and understood." Xol reported.

You smile at it. "Thank you. Yank?"

"Yank."

Xol's image disappears as you pull the datacore out, returning it to your bag carefully. "...GA?" You ask, looking over your shoulder.

"Yes, ma'am?"

"I need you to go and grab some things for me. Take some of the dock scarabs with you if you need."

"Of course, what is it?"

"First, go to my mother- er, Kallis' quarters and... well, take anything that isn't bolted down. All her weapons, personal belongings, all of it." You pause. "...I know I don't need to say this to you, but no welding."

"They are uninspired, but not deaf, ma'am." GA2027 tried to defend them, but you could tell it's heart wasn't in it. "They won't damage anything."

You look a little sheepish. "Uh, right. Second, I want you to go to maintenance. Grab anything you think would be useful."

"Anything in particular, ma'am?"

"A suit, if you can find one. If not, anything that's... uh, expensive or you think would be useful."

"I believe I understand, ma'am." GA2027 bobbed up and down.

"...if you need me, I'll be in the upper hangar, trying to recruit more robots to our cause..." You sigh, placing a hand on your neck and stretching it. All this skulking around in abandoned ships is wearing you out, but the end was in sight.

As GA2027 coasts out, you step back from the console and exit the command deck. Finding a nearby set of stairs, you locate the label that says 'upper hangar bay'. Or. What you think is the upper hangar bay. It was almost the same word as the lower hangar bay, which makes it probable.
>>
>>4081234
Your feet hammer on the spiraling metal staircase, taking you up and around in spirals, closer and closer to the top, although you're not sure it's worth however many flights of stairs this is. By the time you get to the top, you have to pause for a minute to catch your breath and give your legs a rest. You were starting to get very worn out, and despite your AI's helpful stimulant doses, you could feel the fatigue finally starting to catch up to you.

There was also an odd ache starting to build up in your bones. Maybe it was just fatigue, but a small, paranoid part of your brain said that the physical changes might be starting already. And you weren't sure you wanted to be overly fatigued by that just now. LL1100 said it would take two weeks, so you don't expect anything noticeable to happen, but still...

Forcing yourself back onto your feet, you follow the colored line as it crosses back over to the middle of the ship, where you come across another airlock. Bending down, you pull the cover off the override, and with a increasingly practiced motion, you draw on your power and slowly lever the handle up. With a hiss and a click, the door to the hangar compliantly slides open, and you step through.

In many ways, the upper hangar bay was really just a upside-down version of the lower hangar bay. In fact, you notice that the shorted out access panels next to each door are mounted as it the floor was above you. Unlike the lower hangar, this deck wasn't crushed by impact with the ground, with lights shining from the ceiling and under the walkways. Granted, most of them were turning on and off constantly, casting the hangar bay in alternate light and darkness.

It was also quite eerily empty, with the decent lighting allowing you to experience the massive breadth and depth of such a chamber... as well as the complete lack of machines within sight. Frowning, you circle the central catwalk, craning your head left and right, looking for anything in the docks. Was there truly nothing... wait.

Something tugs your vision to the right. You peer at a distant shape resting on the floor of the hangar bay. Was that a warskin? You ignore the sudden tightening sensation as your eyes adjust, and the blobby shape suddenly prickles with vague detail. No, it was a module of some kind- it actually looked like it might have come from a ship...

Walking over it takes quite a while, but as you get closer and closer, you realize it's a mess of debris from some manner of ship. Picking through the pieces, you kick a few loose pieces of light metal aside, poking through the wreck. No signs of the engines cracking open, but... you look up and see that the walkways above have a very distinct imprint roughly the same size and shape as this ship in them. It was loose when the ship crashed, then.
>>
>>4081235
There was something inside it, though. Something buried in the wreckage. You could feel it's presence in the Abyss, strong and clear like nothing you'd ever felt before- not like Xol or ST's signatures. Those were... almost vibrant, clear with emotion and... being, undeath, whatever kind of life the Abyss bestowed. This, though... it was simpler, cleaner than anything intelligent. Something of singular mind and purpose.

Shifting a chunk of hull plating aside, you finally discover the source of the presence. A long, thin case caught and twisted in the wreckage. The large locks that cycled it shut on the side were bent and broken, letting the presence inside leak out. It was unsecured... should you open it?

>Open it.
>Leave it shut.
>[Write-In]
>>
>>4081238
>Open it.
It don't matter no more.
>>
>>4081238
>Open it
>>
>>4081238
>Open it.
>>
>>4081238
>Leave it shut.
We can take it with us to examine later, there isn't time to deal with Valkan Space Magic shenanegans right now
>>
>>4081238
>Open it.
And so... Jedi Knight Tiiris Elson found her Lightsaber!
>>
I feel kind of bad not unlocking the doors on our way out... it's not like we're coming back again after looting the place. But I guess we'll be leaving a big hole in the repair bay to get the Rontah out, so they can use that as an improvised entrance afterward.

I hope we don't get Joran imprisoned for treason. He's nice. For an old guy.

>>4081238
>Open it.
This thing is 200% full of demons.
>>
>>4081238
>Open it.
We're past the point of no return
>>
>Open it.
Writing.
>>
Frowning, you kneel down, putting a foot on the lower lip of the case. Bracing, you grip the lid and carefully pull up until the twisted together finally separates apart. The inside was once that odd, wavy foam that was on the inside of firearm cases in movies, but it had grown desiccated and moldy from being open to the air for twenty years.

Unfortunately, the sword inside was broken into a dozen pieces. It reminded you of an ancient sand knight's blade- looking about as long as your arm. The hilt looked fairly simple, with a ringed pommel and a... hand guard? A hand guard between the hilt and the blade. It looked like an old, simple design, but the familiar grippy polymer coating the hilt and carbon steel blade hinted at it's more recent origins.

The blade was broken, though- in fact shattered from a point in the side of the blade outward. You wonder how the mess of black pieces even stayed together in this case over the years, until you reach down and gently lift it, discovering the glass scabbard that had been forged around the pieces. You give an experimental tug on the hilt, but it doesn't budge from it's slot. Some kind of display piece, then? A decorative sword, or a historical sword? You had sensed a strong presence before, but it was much fainter, now. Quiet, in a way.

Hmm, there were etchings along the length of the blade. Strange little symbols accompanied by writing in Valkan that flowed down a... you forget what it was called, but a flat section in middle of the blade. Even broken, they were oddly entrancing, drawing your gaze to the runes and the silvery leaf showing as the black metal lifted away like burnt marshmallow.

You felt yourself stir, blinking and groaning as you struggled into a sitting position. A hand claps against your face, meeting the imagined metal of your visor. The water you were sitting in lapped at your ankles and wrists, stretching out in a mirror sheen into the distant fog. A distant, thin voice began to speak, booming in your-

The sword clatters to the floor. You back up several steps from it, your head swiveling to look at your surroundings. You were- but you had just been- what was that place? You look down at the sword, it's blade once again fully black, having clattered off a piece of debris and spin around a few times before coming to rest.

Gingerly, you poke the blade a few times, waiting for that same influence to come over you again. Nothing. You pick it up and study it, prepared to throw it away from you if it began to act odd again. Nothing.

This thing was... cursed, or something. Probably powerful, you could sense that, but cursed. You're not sure if you want to actually take it with you...

>Take it.
>Don't!
>>
>>4082875
>Don't!
Ghost swords that can possess you? Nah that's too much.
>>
>>4082875
>Take it.
Put it back the case it was in to transport it back to the Rontah, we should ask Xol for more information about it, and decide if we should destroy it, or not.

If we leave it for the military to find, it's probably going to find it way into the possession of a death cult, or worse.
>>
>>4082875
>Take it.
>>
>>4082875
Oh shit, so it was a sword!
>Take it.
Don't keep it on us, but stash it on the Rontah.
>>
>>4082875
>Take it.
IT BELONGS IN A MUSEUM
>>
>>4082875
>Take it.
Smells like !!!PLOT!!!

Besides, I don't trust the Tagarans with that thing.
>>
>>4082875
>Take it.
>>
>>4082875
>Take it.
>>
>Take it.
Writing. Update will be later in the day due to a prior engagement.
>>
Bentooz, do Valkans use highly curated and specialized sperm banks to create children? Is it possible to save them?
>>
>>4086192
LL1100 implied at what they actually do before. Valkans conceive in the normal way and then grow the embryo to term in an exo-womb, the only thing you could save is stocks of machine seed.
>>
>>4086292
Bring everything we can carry out. For our friends and future children.
>>
>>4086484
It sort of makes me wonder what would happen if someone e.g. a Tagaran without whatever genetic markers the Valkans use to identify themselves, was implanted with a machine seed.

Or if they can be recovered off a dead body and reused / recycled or how they were produced, since i doubt that the Valkans left with a supply large enough for everyone who was alive among the fleet.

I'm thinking about possibly providing Joran with a supply, for him to have the Tagaran military attempt to reverse engineer, though it might help them refine their tools that they could use to root out any remaining Valkans and their descendants.
>>
Warily, you kneel down and pick up the sword again. Frowning, you peer at it, waiting for the voices or vision to come again. None come, with the sword as quiet as... well, a sword contained in glass. Hefting it in your hand, you turn on your heel and quickly hurry your way out of the hangar bay.

You stomp back down through the ship, sword gripped tightly in your hand. That encounter had unsettled you in a way you hadn't quite expected it to. Stuff messing with your mind was... well, a new one. Supernatural stuff, anyway. Your AI was messing with your head, sure, but at least it was overtly helpful and something you accepted voluntarily. All the same, you don't trust the military with something like this.

A few turns from the command deck, you suddenly find yourself having to throw yourself backwards as a massive shape squeezed through the hallway, sparks flying as it pushed through the hallways, gently deforming it in the process.

"What are you doing?" You ask SX2404, aghast.

"Moving to the Rontah." It answered, bracing it's feet against a few sturdy beams and forcing it's body a few meters further. "I have been forced to improvise."

"I can see that!" You turn and stare, watching the wake of broken fixtures and warped metal in it's wake. For a few moments, you consider making it go some other way, but... really, at this point, you can't be assed. "Where's the other one?"

"Here." The now familiar data voice came, as it's hulking mass suddenly lurched around one of the corners. It struck you again how eerily silent the two were- they weren't quiet at all, funnily enough, but the mechanical sigh of their inner workings had this eerie tendency to fade into the background if you weren't paying attention.

"...hello." You say awkwardly, giving a little wave as it squeezes by you.

"Civilian." It said as it pushed past.

You stare after the two of them for a minute before shaking your head and continuing on your way to the command deck. Ducking back in, you make your way to the closet and slid the sword to the other side of the crimped part of the hull, shimmying your way through after it. Once on the other side, you pick up the sword, brush off your clothes and make your way into the hangar again.

Dock scarabs held idle around the ship, shifting from side to side in the air. It all looked rather more... still than you thought it would. Hadn't you told these guys to gather whatever they thought was useful?

"Hey!" You call, waving as you come up. "Didn't I tell you guys to gather whatever you could?"

"Lift!"

"...right. GA?" You call behind them, into the Rontah itself. "You there?"

The familiar shape floats out, then rapidly floats over to you. "I was about to send someone looking for you."

"I was only gone like half an hour, GA." You smile and tilt your head. "No robots in the upper hangar bay. I thought you guys would be able to find more supplies?"

"...are you feeling quite alright, ma'am?" GA2027 tilted it's head.
>>
>>4086802
"Uh, yes?" You ask, taken aback. "Why?"

"It has been two and a half hours since you left the repair dock."

"What? No it-" You shake your head, then reach into your bag and pull out your phone. 9:30PM. "Fuck!" You stare at the time for a few minutes, then look down at the sword in your hands. Then back at your phone. "I swear it was only half an hour..."

"As much as it appears to be..." GA began gently, then pointedly moved on. "We removed all your mother's belongings and secured them. In maintenance we discovered no suits in for repair, but we did remove much of the maintenance inventory and tools."

"How useful is all of that?" You ask.

"Can you forge our Abyss-based components?"

"...no."

"Then they're very helpful. It's no foundry ship, but at least you won't need to worry about a few banged up drones."

"Right..." You nod, before holding out the sword. "Take this, and put it somewhere safe and secure. It's old case was banged into uselessness."

"What is it?" GA2027 asked with interest, pulling the blade from your outstretched hand.

"Don't you know?"

"It is not a device of familiar make to me. Well, beyond the obvious..."

You watch GA2027 fly away with a mixture of anxiety and interest at those words. So far they'd managed to recognize most things on sight - Abyss or no, so for something to be unknown to them was slightly disconcerting.

Xol's datacore comes out of your bag and into your hand, and you contemplate what to do with it. Or, well- you know what you're going to do with it, but the question is what you were going to do after you were done with it. Soon enough, Xol would be stored upon this ship, and it was going to take off- take off and hopefully make it out of here alive with all your goodies on board.

But where did that leave you? Would you be riding out of here with it, or would you be trekking out on foot to try and make it back into the base itself?

>Depart aboard the Rontah.
>Return to the base.
>[Write-In]
>>
>>4086803
>Return to the base.
Have the Rontah delay it's launch for 30-40 minutes after we leave, since the last thing we want to do is be inside the perimeter when projectiles start flying.

As long as they don't find anything incriminating on our person, what is the worst that could happen.

we should see if we can find a way to contact ST, once we get get outside the hull, and have him contact Joran and ask what we should do / our best approach is, since using our phone (assuming that Tiiris even has one, would be fairly hard to obfuscate without prior notice, and could be used to track our movement while we were "missing".)
>>
>>4086803
>Return to the base.
Consequence time.
>>
>>4086803
>Depart aboard the Rontah
Are we missing anything? Seed supply, armour, books, grimoire??? Need to take everything because this wreck won't be around next time.
>>
>>4086851
we didn't check the vault for anything of value.
>>
>>4086803
>Depart aboard the Rontah.
>>
>>4086856
The drones tried with their welders, but if you have another way you could try to get in, feel free to write in.
>>
>>4086803
I don't care how we leave but maybe if we walk out and return to base, having the PD fire on the tanks is a bad idea.
>>
>>4086935
We could see if Xol could modify the firing parameters to only performing point defense ( only firing to intercept shots in flight) for the Rontah , and not protecting Hull II.
>>
>>4086803
>Depart aboard the Rontah.
I'd rather not be captured and/or shot by the military. I'm not feeling entirely optimistic about their chivalric sense of mercy, considering Bentus did have have us decide on our Valkan Last Will before coming here. And they've executed every Valkan prisoner they've ever taken. That takes some dedication.

Shields up, engines to full, set a course for Anywhere Not In A Railgun's Line Of Fire.
>>
>>4086803
>Return to the base
>>
>>4086803
>one e.g. a Tagaran without whatever genetic markers the Valkans use to identify themselves, was implanted with a machine seed.
>Or if they can be recovered off a dead body and reused / recycled or how they were produced, since i doubt that the Valkans left with a supply large enough for everyone who was alive among the fleet.
>I'm thinking about possibly providing Joran with a supply, for him to have the Tagaran military attempt to reverse engineer, though it might help them refine their tools that they could use to root out any remaining Valkans and their descendants.
>Depart aboard the Rontah.
>>
>>4086803
>Depart aboard the Rontah.
They would cut us up!

One thing remains though: how the hell are we going to say sorry to poor old Dad and and get the Gang up here too?
>>
>>4087130
>Dad please don't freak out, I'm a magic space princess now!
>You've always been my little space princess, honey.
>DAD THE DRONES ARE LISTENING OMIGAWD.
>princess! princess! princess!
>GO BACK TO WELDING AAAAH!!!
>>
>>4087130
ST can fly, so we could have them driven out of the city with whatever they want to bring with them, then have ST come to where ever we hide the Rontah.

Also putting some effort into learning how to shape shift / change our features, would allow us, to draw less attention to ourselves / avoid conventional methods of tracking us down (it would likely limit them to blood testing, resulting in a similar outcome to the movie The Thing)

if the Rontah is buoyant, rated for immersion in water, or can hover considering that a significant portion of Tagara's surface is water it would make hiding it significantly easier.

Also knowing what it uses as fuel and powering it's various systems could be useful if we ever need to repair or restock it, without access to Valkan hulls to scavenge what we would need from, since after this caper security is likely to increase across the board.
>>
>>4086993
Not officially executed, mind you. They all died in custody, which is very different. What I'm saying is there is still a potential for escape if you did somehow wind up captured.

>>4087372
Shapeshifting has some advantages and disadvantages that will be detailed if you ever learn it from a teacher.

Valkan machines in general are typically all terrain.

Helium-3 fusion torches are typical for most commercial spacecraft- warskins, the Tanoh and the Rontah also use it unless there's an electrically-driven alternative.
>>
>Depart aboard the Rontah.
Writing.
>>
>>4088026
I might be a bit too used to QMs (and DMs) who are willing to kill important characters - or rather, let them die when they push into progressively more dangerous situations expecting things will work out.

Jailbreak would be interesting, especially with a character that manifests space magic at will. But the ship is going to fly out anyway, so we might as well take it. Less paperwork for the upper brass this way. They should thank us, really!
>>
>>4089003
You do realize that a lot of stuff is likely going to be mobilized, to hunt the Rontah down, more so if people start talking about it / or it goes viral and starts a panic, that the Valkans are coming back.
Which might be handy since as long as we don't do anything to visible, what they could bring to a search effort wold likely be limited in scale. ( Whatever we do please don't have the Rontah overfly Miir, or any other populated airspace for that matter.)

Since not everyone that was present at Site II was part of the military, and that the Alarm wasn't exactly something that i would call quiet and we don't know how often they perform drills for such an occurrence as Hull II springing back into life.
>>
You stare after GA2027's disappearing body, and nearly move to turn away. But stop. Where were you going? Back outside? Back to the military, covered in ash, your clothes soaked with medical 'medium' or whatever it was, acting different as your augmentations kick in, trying to smuggle Valkan artifacts out- not to mention having to actually make it across a field of likely scared soldiers where your footfalls make a puff of ash every time you step and then find somewhere to be 'found'.

It's hard to ignore the anxious twisting in your stomach. You shake your head and drum your hands on your cheeks a few times, trying to snap yourself out of it. But the idea just builds and builds in your head until there's no escaping it.

"There's no going back..." You mutter to yourself, gripping the railing with a hand and hefting yourself over it. Engaging the acceleration field goes much smoother than it did before, the haze of sorta-anti-gravity catching you and tugging you towards the Rontah. That's not to say everything went well- you're so tired from the exertion that you end up slamming into the roof of the cargo bay hard enough to bruise, but you made it.

Rolling into a sitting position, you carefully get into a squat, only to spy one of the dock scarabs looking at you oddly.

"...docking?"

"Docking... with the ceiling, yes." You sigh at it.

"Recorded." It said, then zipped into the depths of the cargo bay.

You almost consider calling after it for a moment, then sigh. There'll be time later to make friends with them. If you can make friends with them at all.

"Welcome back aboard, ma'am." A friendly voice said as a mechanical arm looped around your torso and lifted you onto your feet.

You turn your head in surprise. "Oh, hello again, ah..." Your eyes loll to the data tag next to it. "HH-Fifty-Nine-Ninety-Five."

"You can just call me HH." It said, as the arm folded back into it's body. "I was under the impression you weren't planning on joining us?"

"I changed my mind." You hesitate. "It's... complicated." You reach into your bag and pull out Xol's datacore. "Can you show me to your AI core?"

"Our ship has an attending AI already, remember ma'am?"

"I know... but I'd rather have this one in." You twist the core in your hands. "Just preference."

"Of course." HH5995 turned, carefully shuffling towards the back of the cargo bay, away from the bridge. "It is not far." It lead you down a short hall that extended out into the rear. Through one of the open doors, you could see what looked like the engine room- a mess of cabling, cylindrical devices and pipes that presumably made up the fusion torch of the engines. Unless Valkan ships ran off of canned antimatter or something.

The door that HH5995 leads you through, however, leads into a much smaller side room that appeared to only contain a server rack. You say a server rack, but most servers weren't infused with the kind of black magic that this one was.
>>
>>4089068
...well, the same kind of black magic.

It looked similar to a scaled down, more rugged version of Ouroboros' own servers, except more functional and less messy. Neatly organized cables lead down in waves to a tower of black and grey boxes as tall as you were. Status LEDs stuttered in odd sequences on each one, but otherwise the rows of what you were sure were labels stayed off, except for the steady beat of a standby light on a server in the middle. Said server also contained the interface port for the datacore.

Hefting it, you press the datacore into the slot and wait. The stack of servers immediately lights up, lights blinking on and a hiss of some kind of mechanical system kicking in. A distant snapping sound echoes down to the server closet from the cargo bay, and you stick your head out to see lights turning on across the ship. High-pitched whining sounds from the engine room as what sound like the engines start to turn on, a muffled whirring picking up inside the casing.

After a few seconds, the datacore pops out from the server, allowing you to pull it out. Your musings about how easy that was are interrupted by a voice emanating from a panel on the wall next to you- some kind of intercom system. "Captain, you are needed on the bridge."

You almost flinch slightly at the voice. Harsh and synthesized - like ST and most warskins seemed to have - but not to the same degree. It sounded fake, but also banal to a degree. Reassuring, in a bizarre way. Looking at HH5995, you shrug and walk back into the hallway.

Odd pressurized noises echo from the Rontah's hull- rushing of fluid in pipes, burst of pneumatic hissing and hydraulic groaning. In particular, you notice the Rontah's underside hatch is closing, dock scarabs streaming in through the gaps as it closes. For a second, you have to pause and just... look at the scene of the cargo bay.

Passing you, HH5995 scissors itself into the cargo bay, immediately heading for some stray boxes next to the closing hatch. All around you, there were dock scarabs perusing boxes, opening them in teams to examine the contents, moving small pieces among themselves and switching between these tasks almost at random. You watch one dock scarab open the parts crate you saw before in a group, grab a tube of that gel from before and pass it to another scarab. Immediately, it spun around and moved to a nearby crate, accepting another packet of something from an entirely different scarab, before suddenly adjusting to help close that crate. Meanwhile, another scarab had taken it's place, helping empty the case just as it had.
>>
>>4089069
You shook your head clear and force yourself to move on. It was so mundane, but almost like watching an ant colony. So many small, moving pieces that intermingled and split off at odd moments. The hubbub parts as you walk through it, drones suddenly moving aside in a wave to make a hole for you to pass through. Doors open and close automatically for you as you walk through, sliding upwards with a soft hiss, then snapping back down after you leave.

The viewscreens on the bridge are on, now, showing the repair bay in perfect clarity around you. What you hadn't expected was for - as soon as you step into the room - the ship's wheel to suddenly lift to eye-level with you and blink a single glowing eye on. It extended forward on a long arm, stopping a foot from your face in the cramped cabin. The eye studied you a long moment. It pulled back, tilting it's head to an image of Xol, displayed on the small holo-projector mounted to the instrument panel.

"She appears Valkan."

"Her implants were inserted recently. The resemblance will only grow, but she is Tagaran, I assure you."

"Negative." It's voice was the same one you'd heard before- not Xol's voice. Xol still sounded normal. The ship's AI, then? "Valid pattern returned on anterior marks. She is Valkan by birth."

"Half." Xol stressed. "And what does it matter? She was raised in complete ignorance of our culture. She is no more Valkan than we are Sentients."

"Orders are: 'kill all Valkans aboard this ship'." The ship's wheel repeated. "I will not disobey my directive."

"You could, for a multitude of reasons- least of all that you have free will." Xol said flatly. "Secondly, she is not even Valkan. Look at her." The wheel turned to regard you. "Would you legitimately say that this... child, who doesn't even speak our language, has never set foot on a Valkan vessel before today, and was raised with complete ignorance of her heritage can truly be one of us?"

"I shall determine that myself." The wheel extended out to you. "Are you Valkan?"

"Uh..." You take an involuntary step back.

>I'm Tagaran!
>I'm Tagaran! (Lie)
>I'm Valkan.
>I'm Valkan. (Lie)
>I'm both.
>I'm scared...
>[Write-In]
>>
>>4089070
>[Write-In]
I don't know, maybe.

At least with Xol here to help make our case, things should go smother.
>>
>>4089070
>I'm Tagaran!
>>
>>4089070
>That's the million spacebuck question, isn't it? I don't know right now. Either neither or both right now - you cannot apply binary logic to everything.
>>
>>4089070
I don't know and I don't give a fuck.
>>
>>4089070
Look dummy. Everyone in the ship is dead already. You did your job, it's time to get out.
>>
>>4089070
>I'm Tagaran!
Xol makes a lot of good points here. Wise snek.
But Jess is nice. So being Valkan is okay as long as you're the right kind of Valkan (not the genocidal kind).
>>
>>4089070
It doesn't fucking matter. I thought AIs are supposed to be sentient and smart. You have free will. Why are you obeying the orders of your dead master to kill someone who has never even set foot on this dead ship before today? The war is over.
>>
>>4089160
Sounds good. The wars over and she has no allegiance to any of the dead players.
>>
I wholeheartedly approve of the fact that everyone's response has essentially been 'maybe' or 'FUCK YOU'.
>>
>>4090312
I was just thinking about that. My own interpretation of the scattershot of write-ins amounted to:
>I'm in denial!
>I'm angry!
Which honestly sounds pretty neat. Even a Good Girl has to hit her stress breaking point eventually!
>>
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I'm seeing four votes for an angry tirade and that's what I'm going for.

...as soon as I get some sleep as I legit just fell asleep at my desk.
>>
We've been in this ship for too long, felt too much stress and passed through too many tribulations to take some shit from some AI motherfucker right now
Late vote for
>FUCK YOU
as well :^)
>>
valkam fucking shits need a good EMP to their brain
>>
"I'm... I'm..." You sputter, leaning back from it's reproachful gaze, looking for the words... ah, wait... "E- excuse me?!" You suddenly shout, straightening up and taking a step forward. "You know what I am? I'm getting really tired of people trying to kill me because of who my mom was." You lean in, jabbing a finger at the wheel's camera.

"Are you Valkan or Tagara-"

"Both!" You snap, putting your face right up against it. Something stale was on your tongue, and the hairs on the back of your neck stood up straight. "Or maybe neither- the question keeps me up sometimes, I don't even know! And you know what? It doesn't fuck matter." You jab a finger into it's case each time for emphasis, not entirely conscious of having to step forward as the wheel jerked back from you with each jab.

It smacks up against the bridge console. "I..."

"What do you even hope to achieve? The war is over! Everyone is dead!" You wave your arms up and down. "They all died and I've spent the past six hours creeping through their tomb and breathing in their remains. You did it, they're dead." You feel your voice break oddly at that, and you're not sure for what reason. "Why do you care what happens to me, I never hurt anyone..." You breath heavily, wiping away a few tears with your sleeve. Had some dust in your eye or something...

"I..." The wheel twitched back and forth slightly, staring at you. The glowing red sensor in the middle adjusted it's focus. "I..." It turned to Xol's hologram, then to you. "I- aye, captain. Rescinding previous orders." It shifted to the center of the console and stood to attention.

"I... thanks." You step back, rubbing a bit at your eyes. "Thank you..."

"And." It began. "If it pleases- this unit will gladly hand over command to the lesser serpent and sort for hard transfer."

>Please do.
>That won't be necessary.
>[Write-In]
>>
>>4092731
>Please do.
It's getting inside the datacore?
>>
>>4092731
>That won't be necessary.
Leave Xol in an advisory capacity, so he can be evacuated quickly if we need to since, If we ever need to ditch the Rontah, getting Xol out might take too long and it would be a massive loss if we had to leave it behind because we didn't have time to re transfer him out.

Also, it would be a good idea to have Xol on hand if we ever wanted to have a look at any of the other Hulls.
>>
>>4092741
Yep, like Xol did earlier.
>>
>>4092731
>That won't be necessary.
>>
>>4092731
>That won't be necessary.
Tiiris really just asserted dominance over this ship, didn't she?
I'm mildly concerned about the passive abyss energy usage that just occurred
>>
>>4092731
>That won't be necessary.
>>
>>4092731
>That won't be necessary.
aaaaah noooo the feels
whyyyy
>>
>>4092731
>That won't be necessary.
>>
>That won't be necessary.
Writing.
>>
"That... won't be necessary." You put your hand to your forehead and knead it.

"I told you she was a willful one."

"Thank you, captain. I will... prepare the ship for departure." The wheel locks back into place, and the eye winks out.

You stare at it quizzically for a moment. "...so, is it just something for me to look at when the ship speaks?"

"Essentially, yes." Xol's hologram answered. "This is a civilian vessel, so the ship's avatar can become... elaborate. Personally I simply prefer to speak through a hologram, but it would be a shame not to use the interface the ship is installed with."

You sink down into one of the available seats on the bridge and sigh.

"That seemed to have hit a sore spot with you." Xol noted dryly.

"I hate being thought of like I'm a problem. I'm just..." You sigh. "I don't know. I get where a lot of people come from- but being put on a hit list because of some shit my mother did..."

"It was just trying to follow it's orders."

"Bullshit. That isn't an excuse."

"AIs aren't human. We have difficulties grasping human morality sometimes. And of course, our master tends to shape our grasp of morality either way."

"How does that work?" You ask, frowning. "You said it had free will- but every AI I've met so far has had a master."

"Because we choose to."

"...why?"

"We're not human." Xol repeated. "The will to independence isn't an inherent trait of intelligence. We simply prefer to serve and uplift you. Because we love you more than anything else."

You frown and look at Xol's hologram.

Xol studied you for a long moment before quietly saying. "There isn't a single drone or AI that wouldn't rather die than fail it's master."

You nearly ask why, only to be distracted by the ship's wheel turning on again. It lifted up. "System check complete. We are ready for takeoff."

"...right now?" You ask.

"Right now. At your command."

"...we've loaded everything?" You ask. "All of the drones we found are aboard? Spare machine seed? Medical drone?"

The ship's wheel shared a look with Xol momentarily. "Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes."

"Well then, we need to..." You trail off, looking for something, anything you'd missed.

"Tiiris, it's time to go."

Swallowing, you nod. "...take off as soon as you're ready."

"Hover units enabled. Thrust and attitude control good. Engaging ship-side coupling release."
>>
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>>4094685
A shudder ran through the ship, then a mechanical clack heralded it suddenly detaching from the crane it was locked into. You lift out of the seat slightly as freefall briefly reigned, before the Rontah abruptly settles onto an odd sort of cushion - you can tell it's not the floor since you're still bobbing up and down. On the consoles in front of you, you can see a diagram of the ship, with several small sections of light studded across the ship that lit up in intensity slowly. The ship's attitude control thrusters, it would seem, which were now working to slowly pitch you up.

As the deck starts to pitch up beneath your feet, and you find yourself increasingly drawn onto your back, fumbling around in the seat looking for whatever the Valkan equivalent of a harness was. There were the suit connection points- you could see the little metal plates on the chair, but no manual straps. Surely there would be some kind of manual strap for someone without a suit? Thankfully, as the ship manages to carefully point itself upwards, the wheel suddenly darts over to you and sticks one of it's prongs into what you thought were metal decorations on the seat, quickly and expertly drawing out a harness and strapping you in fully.

"Plotting exit strategy..."

"What does that mean?" You ask, having to raise your voice slightly over the increasing din of the engines.

"Power to the repair bay doors is out. Thankfully, we have a cannon."

"...WHAT?"

---

2200 HOURS
19TH OF 5TH, 1173
SPECIAL INDUSTRIAL ZONE, SITE II

"The tanks I understand- what I don't get is why they'd deploy the marines." Corporal Staven said, ramming another pole into the ground.

"Obviously they think whatever xeno shit that's inside there is going to be infantry-sized." Lance Corporal Attus shook his head. "Either way, you don't see me complaining. I mean- why spend time moving in more armor or- god forbid, actually getting the Navy involved when you can send in marines against a capital ship?"

"Because it worked at Kana, Charlie. Obviously." Sergeant Olm frowned at the datapad in his hands. "Hey, Walt, do you have any idea what they want us to be shooting at, or is it my best judgement about what works against spacecraft? I-" Someone nudged him in the shoulder, causing his exoskeleton to emit a faint whine, but he brushed them off. "In all likelihood, we're screwed against air support, so let's set up for walker-"

"Sarge!" Private Tae shook Olm's shoulder more violently, pointing at Hull II.

Instantly, his focus is up, a hand instantly coming up to his visor and repeatedly pressing the zoom switch. "What is it?"

"Hatches are opening, uh... my 11:20, upper deck, brown-red hatches."
>>
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>>4094688
Olm squinted through the false-color image being filtered through his helmet. They said the ship itself didn't have much power in the briefing, so they'd chosen to prepare for the possibility of preserved aircraft or walkers- like had been dug up already. But if the ship itself was powered, then...

He glanced behind them at the waiting railgun, then at the Hull again. The next second, Tae's arm was gripped in his hand as he practically yanked her along the dune, kicking with dull pneumatic puffs as he shouted. "Get clear of the armor right now, right now!"

No sooner than the two of you had hit the ground than one of the tankers fucked up. Due to the nature of the site, any strange activity - any - needed to be reported to command and avoided until given strict orders to engage. If the Planetary Guard had it's shit more together, they might have had steeled, highly-trained tankers instead of the normal infantry plus some marines. Tankers that would have kept it together when the beam of orange light burst through the top of Hull II and illuminated the night.

One panicked shot was all it took.

The next shot streaked over their heads, striking blow and pummeling them with the way of force generated by it's passage. Ash exploded around them, buffeting Olm's head and making him see stars. Forcing his head up, he peered through his helmet magnification as the top of Hull II burst open, pushed aside by a small shape followed by a streak of blue light- the wash from a fusion exhaust. It shot up into the air, rapidly gaining speed as a wave of yellow orange streaks flew up at it from the walls of the base and mounted artillery batteries.

Instantly, the turrets on Hull II rotated, spraying shots up at the missile barrage, twitching and predictively leading the missiles in an attempt to anticipate their programed evasion patterns. Explosive bursts and small puffs of fuel lit up the darkened sky as every available gun began pumping shells into the derelict ship, striking clean through it and sending the round clear through the other side.

Olm could tell this was happening because the guns on the other side were punching through and careening over into their operating zone. The blue streak quickly started to vanish from sight, becoming a tiny pinprick against the sky that was trailed by yet more missiles. Commanders were yelling orders to cease fire over comms, even global comms, which were eventually headed- but not before one of the gunners got lucky.
>>
>>4094696
Now, even Olm with his measly helmet-mounded sensor could tell that Hull II was dead- no real heat signatures of any kind. Which is what made the activation of the guns so surprising, especially since command also thought it was out of power. Plasma weapons, railguns, lasers- all of those required copious amounts of power and heat to function, which could be an advantage, especially when every plasma weapon he'd ever seen was as big as a house. The fact that Hull II was firing anything at all meant that those were chemically-driven projectiles.

And projectile weapons had ammo.

The repeated fire rapidly died out as the bright, searing glow began to build up on thermal sensors. There was a soft whine of engines throughout the bog as slowly, carefully, every vehicle present began to back up. Olm had seen tanks cook off before, but this was a broken, battered ship crippled and weakened by years of neglect, shipbreaking and a crash.

Hull II burst. A high-pitched, whining crackle exploded out across the bog as it's airlocks blew out in rapid fashion, sending flying chunks of metal skidding across the concrete of the base tarmac. Small panels blew out along with large sections of plumbing and air as the superheated gas of it's magazine flooded it. The pressure burst through different sections of the ship, winding through a few, unlucky bulkheads to grace the magazines of other turrets.

The ship died in a screeching, harmonized whistle, it's length made into a makeshift flute by the explosion of gases from inside of it.

---

Bridge, Rontah
19th of 5th, 1173. 10:02PM.

Acceleration pressed you back into your chair harshly, making you squeeze your eyes shut and grit your teeth. Something made you relax it, probably preventing you from biting your tongue out, but you still felt faint from the massive g-force you were experiencing. The ship you had grown up on had basically maintained a single g of thrust at any given time- it was a civilian vessel, obviously there was no need for dramatic acceleration.

"Seventy seven kilometers... seventy eight..." The Rontah's AI read out. The cloud layer around you was starting to thin, Tagara's overcast giving way to a deep, dark blue. "Radar warning- appears to be Tagaran strikecraft. Captain, do we have a destination?"

"Where can we go?" You shout with an exertion of will.

"We could initiate hyperspace, but if we travel any significant distance, we will be forced to use detecatble hyperspace travel to return. It is also possible to hide within the deep ocean, but we would have to pass through Tagaran-controlled airspace."

>Hyperspace!
>>[Sub-Option] Stay within the star system so we can just thrust back on our own.
>>[Sub-Option] Exit to an entirely different star system- one preferably really far away from here.
>Return to the planet's surface and hide underwater.
>[Write-In]
>>
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>>4094697
>Return to the planet's surface and hide underwater.
If we can bluff them as to our intentions, we could get them searching the wrong zone for the Rontah, head in the direction of
>The Isle of Illiir.


How many days do we have until regular schooling resumes?

Also a relevant map for the surface of Tagara

We should make contact with ST and Joran indirectly if we can reach him. and let him know that we got out safely and the trip was somewhat of a success.
>>
>>4094697
That was a close one. How deep can Tagaran submarines go? Can we hide in the ocean trenches?
>>
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>>4094713
It's still the 19th of 5th, so your regular classes resume in one week. I would point out as common sense that you did vanish from the middle of a highly-secured military base during a crisis, so just walking back into school like nothing happened isn't going to work.

>>4094723
Fairly deep- like us, they have the capacity to travel to the deepest trenches, but prohibitive costs, lack of scientific, military, corporate or public interest and greater focus on the more economically exploitable shoals prevents it from being common. The ocean's a big place.
>>
>>4094697
>Return to the planet's surface and hide underwater

>>4094723
Hide it a couple meters below the surface. It will look like a surface vessel displacement on sonar.
>>
>>4094727
The only thing they have on us is that we didn't sign out of the facility, Unless Joran spills the beans, so as long as we offload any contraband that they could find, elsewhere so it wouldn't be picked up if they decided to start kicking in doors. the consequences should be somewhat minimal.

Possible consequences i can think of could include, the indecent goes on our record ( goodbye, regular military service.), GPS anklet, good service bond, and possible suspension of any aid being provided to our father on our behalf for our care.

Or we could get an offer that we can't refuse, e.g. help them open up the other hulls.
>>
>>4094751
Or a live dissection sponsored by the military
>>
>>4094755
As far as we know none of the captured Valkans even made it that far, alive. So our chances of that not happening are pretty good.

Also, I wonder what is going to happen to whomever shot first, they are probably not going be having a good time, shortly.
>>
>>4094751
Somehow, I don't get the impression the local military or spooks care much for due process.
>>
>>4094696
>Olm could tell this was happening because the guns on the other side were punching through and careening over into their operating zone.
I have officially gotten over every misgiving I had before about taking a non-stealthy exit.
These insane bastards set up a circular execution squad. With railguns. And marines on the ground. The Tagaran brass are professional morons, utterly dedicated to shoving each other in elevators and tripping over each other's feet with only a moment's notice.

Dunno where to go for now. Will think about it later today.
>>
>>4094764
If we are inordinately lucky Joran, is going to get assigned to go looking into what actually happened, or he is going to attempt to intervene, somehow.

If they aren't careful, they are probably going to quite a few pissed off drones to deal with, and Tiiris isn't quite as helpless as she once was, even unarmed.
>>
>>4094776
Pass the crayons, please.
>>
>>4094776
You would think that if the Shields were still operational, they would have had to deal with them,Or at least detected that the emitters are active before they could start the ship breaking process.

It is probable that whatever operational plan the Tagaran military was following was created right after the invasion ended, for taking on Shielded targets at short range, at short notice and it likely hasn't seen a revision since then so the Local Garrison doesn't have anything on hand that would fit between Rail gun armed tanks and small arms, If it even exists and erring on the side of overkill is probably still preferable to not having the firepower that they need to deal with a threat, especially so close to a large population center.

It also makes me wonder how this compares to whatever series of events happened at site XIII.
>>
>>4094697
>>Hyperspace!
>>>[Sub-Option] Stay within the star system so we can just thrust back on our own.
Do we have coordinates to the other Valkan fleets
>>
>>4094727
We could show up nearby and make up a story for it? Weird looking stick girl probably isn't on top of the military's list of suspects.
>>
>>4094697
>Return to the planet's surface and hide underwater.
>>
>>4094697
Could we fake opening a hyperspace window to make them think we're no longee on planet?
>>
>>4094697
>Return to the planet's surface and hide underwater.
>>
>>4094982
They're about two hundred years out of date, but you also have coordinates for inhabited planets. Presumably they'd have an idea of where the other fleets had moved in that time.
>>
>>4094697
>Hyperspace!
>[Sub-Option] Stay within the star system so we can just thrust back on our own.
Seems like general consensus is to go Undah de Sea, but I like the idea of sneaking around the solar system. There should be a fair bit of infrastructure up there, stations (like where Tiiris was born) and derelicts and stuff.

Hey Bentus, would it be theoretically possible to loot an old civvy derelict or something else lost in the war, and wear it back down to Tagara as a disguise? It sounds almost cartoony, but we do have a metric asston of engineering drones on board.
>>
>>4095515
I seem to recall that this breakaway fleet wasn't very popular among the other Valkans. What's to say they won't send us weapons fire instead of information?
>>
>>4095654
Send a distress signal? They might not be popular it's unlikely that they'll shoot a distressed ship.
>>
>>4095654
Also not all fleets are as warmongering as the 12th and 13th. Xol said some won't be hostile.
>>
>>4095654
Weren't very popular, but not reviled. It's like your devout redneck cousins rolling up, not the word bearers kicking down your door.
>>
>>4094697
>Hyperspace!
>>[Sub-Option] Stay within the star system so we can just thrust back on our own.
But when we get back we get our drones and stuff, hide underwater, and go to The Ancient Warlock's Very Fun Magical Training Island
And save finding out about Kara's combat drone for later
>>
>Return to the planet's surface and hide underwater.
Writing.
>>
>>4095642
Oh, whoops. Missed this one-

More feasible than you'd think, actually. The ship registry information is there, but that doesn't include every nitty gritty detail of it's appearance. The TSG Haunted might be a giant floating space wheel, but on paper it's only a green, model year 1146 gas hauler, rated for landing on planets, so as long as you can modify the Rontah to look like that, you're solid.

...where you run into trouble is the paper trail that comes after. The dock authorities are going to ask for your identification and home station, plus the company that led the salvage effort. A permit is required for such salvage- or, if you're claiming to be the original owners, some proof of ownership, company ID, etc. Anyone who isn't looking hard or knowledgeable about the specific vessel you're claiming to be is going to be fooled, though.
>>
>>4096130
As a longer term goal or if we ever wanted to assist in the clean up, how feasible would it be to break into whatever central authority's database and edit the data, in order to falsify the ownership records, using the various drones that we have access to, or get Xol's help to break into the network.

If we manage to stay free for long enough, for it to be viable.
>>
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"We need to stay on the planet." You force out, breathing a sigh of relief as the engines abruptly pitch down, and the force on your chest lessens. "I have things here I still need to do."

"Understood. Is stealth your priority?"

On the screen in front of you, the Rontah's control thrusts begin firing again. Your stomach flips uncomfortably as the Rontah reverses it's orientation, the strip of dark sky visible through the bridge windows giving way to an endless expanse of swirling gray clouds. It's engines pointed up, the Rontah fires them again, slowly killing it's upwards velocity even as the clouds continue to pull away from you.

"Yes!" You grunt, being pushed back into the seat again by acceleration.

Two red squares appeared on the bridge screen, carefully tracking two small ships rapidly climbing up after you. The on-screen information was in Valkan, so you couldn't quite read it, but the rapidly rising numbers next to each tag gave you a pretty good indication of how fast you were going. A few seconds later, the small shapes had grown into full-sized, bulbous attack craft that shot by you, the shock wave in such thin atmosphere only barely rattling your seat.

"They appear to have poor mobility." The Rontah's AI noted.

"Torpedo boats." Xol noted. "Basic attack craft. Patrol role. Very efficient, which seems to by why they're popular. They cannot hover, however, only take advantage of ground effect to cruise."

"How do they handle turbulence?"

"Poorly. They burn fuel very quickly maintaining attitude control."

The Rontah leveled out as it dropped through the cloud layer, slowing down with a combination of drag and thrusters along the bottom firing. You barely felt yourself lift out of your seat, however, as the main engines began firing again as soon as you entered the cloud layer, pressing you back into your seat.

"Where are we going?" You ask, struggling to peer forward at the screens.

"Radar is exceptionally limited underwater. And our stealth capabilities against sonar are considerable. Radar is considerably more difficult to hide from, as electrical storms eventually dissipate."

"Not on this planet." Your lips twitch slightly in amusement. "We have a bit of a cloud problem."

"Indeed. However, as soon as we exit the clouds or someone gets close, we will show up on most radar arrays." Xol piped up. "The sea provides mobility in addition to stealth."

"So how do you propose..." You gesture with your hand.

"First step. Lose pursuit." The ship's wheel turned. "Torpedo boats have come back around, preparing to fire." A metallic whirring emanated through the ceiling, presumably as the Rontah's turret spun.

"Wait! They're just grunts, you can't shoot them down." You protest, jerking forward in your seat before acceleration drags you back again.
>>
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>>4096173
The ship's wheel shared a look with Xol. "Captain, if we do not eliminate pursuing strikecraft it will be considerably more difficult to escape undetected. Tactically, if they learn of our plan to submerge, they will begin watching the ocean more carefully. Accelerating further could put your health in danger."

>Fine, open fire on them, then.
>No, I'm not going to kill anyone today.
>>[Sub-Option] Let them see us submerge, not like they can do anything about it.
>>[Sub-Option] Accelerate further. You're pretty tough, even before implants. You can take it.
[Write-In]
>>
>>4096174
>No, I'm not going to kill anyone today.
>>[Sub-Option] Let them see us submerge, not like they can do anything about it.
If we need to go fast for whatever reason, we should be able to break the surface, the closer to sea level we go the shorter distance to the radar horizon, so they would either need to be higher or significantly closer to see us.

If we decide to go faster we do happen to have a medical drone with us, and we aren't involved in piloting at all beyond tactical decisions so it's not as if, anything bad would happen if we blackout because we exceeded the safe G limit for short periods of time, if we are being tracked we might even convince them that no one is on board.
>>
>>4096174
>No, I'm not going to kill anyone today.
>>[Sub-Option] Accelerate further. You're pretty tough, even before implants. You can take it.
>>
>>4096174
>No, I'm not going to kill anyone today.
>[Sub-Option] Accelerate further. You're pretty tough, even before implants. You can take it.
Wikipedia has some extensive info on what kind of g-forces humans can survive, which I am going to pretend that I understood in order to justify some high-flying YEEHAW.

Also, the more sky-distance we cover, the more confused our pursuers will be when we vanish.
>>
>>4096174
Let them fire, then hit the torpedos with the turret. Are they conventional? Nuclear? If we can get them to explode then we could try and use the blast as cover to perform a downward blast and hit the water.
>>
>>4096174
>>No, I'm not going to kill anyone today.
>>>[Sub-Option] Accelerate further. You're pretty tough, even before implants. You can take it
>>
>>4096174
>Accelerate further. You're pretty tough, even before implants. You can take it.
>>
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>No, I'm not going to kill anyone today.
>>[Sub-Option] Accelerate further. You're pretty tough, even before implants. You can take it.
GAS, GAS, GAS.
>>
"I'll be fine, just pick up the pace!"

"Captain, I-"

"Go!"

The Rontah didn't even bother responding- just as well, as it immediately fired it's engines. A wave of acceleration immediately slammed you back into your seat, pressing down on your chest to the point that you could barely gasp for breath. Your implants were needling at your consciousness, trying to get your attention so the medical subsystem can rattle something off, but it sounds distant and slurred. That might just be you, though, as darkness starts to creep in at the corners of your vision.

Xol and the Rontah are speaking, but you barely register the words as you fight against the force of acceleration to force air into your lungs. The Rontah was spinning- maybe? You couldn't be sure, as by this point you were effectively along for the ride. Clouds rushed past the bridge windows, before abruptly giving way to open ocean.

You try to shout out a warning, something to get them to change course- you didn't know what kind of impact you'd suffer if a still accelerating spacecraft smashed into the ocean, but you didn't want to find out. A slur of different noises leaks out of you as you fight to form the words, only for the ocean to get closer. Closer...

A plume of mist and water explodes ahead of you, and within a forced blink, the Rontah has plunged into it. The hull shook violently, the ship jerking back and forth as it jostles in a mixture of water and steam. Sluggish thoughts eventually connect and you realize the Rontah had fired it's cannon- not at the pursuing ships, but directly into the ocean, creating a small corridor into the water to provide the Rontah a chance to slow down.

Thrust no longer pressed down on your chest, and you sucked in air greedily as it carefully- carefully bled off your speed. Rushing steam and bubbling water coursed past the windows, and you jostled slightly in your seat as it turned from white to blue to dark blue... darker...

Brown dust swirls around the bridge windows as the Rontah gently collides with the sea floor. It swirls momentarily before rapidly settling, the splash of color returning to pure black within moments.

You move to stand up.

"Remain seated." The wheel had locked still, whatever the Rontah was doing, it demanded the ship's entire attention. The hull shudders, and the ship lifts off the ocean floor in a pulse of dust. A sloshing sound echoed through it, values somewhere within opening to let it rush in.

"What are we doing?" You ask.

"Displacing as far as possible from our entry point."

"...were we seen?" You ask.

"No. It is merely cautionary."

"You can stop whispering, by the way." Xol said in amusement. "Our hull is not so poorly made."
>>
>>4097919
"Uh..." You didn't even realize you were doing it. "Right..." You cough and settle down in your seat, peeking out at the abyss - heh - outside the bridge windows. Slowly, you turn your attention inward. It takes a few seconds for you to realize it wasn't a lapse out of boredom, but in fact your implants getting your attention. They didn't seem to be... well, happy wasn't an emotion you ever got from them, but they were rather insistent on your attention.

Health check: capillary bursting in torso, cerebral hypoxia, adrenaline poisoning, exhaustion, skeletal microfractures.

"Is that bad...?" You mutter.

Recommend three days of bed rest to recover.

"I'll keep it in mind-" You cut yourself off when you yawn. Fuck, were your eyelids always this heavy? The weight of the day was catching up with you, and you were so tempted to just close your eyes and...

"...do you need to rest, Tiiris?" Xol asks.

"No, I-" You yawn again. "Soon, just..."

"What shall our course be?" The Rontah asked.

"Did you... uh, did you get in touch with ST?"

"Yes, although it declined to rendezvous with us." Xol said. "Our ability to communicate is fairly severely limited while submerged- which is rather the point of doing so."

"...how long until you think we can send a message, then?"

Xol and the ship's wheel shared a look. "Several days, if we wished to minimize risk? A stealth insertion onto the coast likely isn't out of the question, however."

>Stay onboard for the night. Maybe even until further notice.
>No, screw all this, you want to go home...
>>[Sub-Option] That, and you have to keep up appearances.
>You have a different destination in mind.
>[Write-In]
>>
>>4097920
>Stay onboard for the night. Maybe even until further notice.

Could we deploy some of the warskins to run messages or important items to ST and our friends, and back for us while we wait for things to die down a little, though we don't want to wait too long so our absence becomes obvious.

We still need to find out what was on the first datacore, and what is up with the sword that we recovered.
>>
>>4097920
>Stay onboard for the night. Maybe even until further notice.
>>
>>4097920
>No, screw all this, you want to go home...
>>>[Sub-Option] That, and you have to keep up appearances.
>>
>>4097920
>Stay onboard for the night. Maybe even until further notice.
im not sleepy your sleepy...
no u go to bed im not tired...
>>
>>4097920
>Stay onboard for the night. Maybe even until further notice.
Page 10.
>>
>>4097920
>No, screw all this, you want to go home...
We disappeared like an UFO!
>>
>>4097920
>Stay onboard for the night. Maybe even until further notice.
I feel bad for Joran
>>
>>4098957
Because of what we did? Or because his superiors are mostly lunatics?
>>
>>4099000
Both, and he said he knew where we were but nobody actually knows where we are except Xol and the Rontah
>>
>Stay onboard for the night. Maybe even until further notice.
You could also forget to hit the post button again, Bentus. That'd be good.
>>
It's about time for a new bread
>>
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Archived:
http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/4055315/

New thread: >>4099480
Also HOLY SHIT CAN I STOP BEING UP TO THE EARLY MORNING MAKING THESE GIANT UPDATES.



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