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Chapter 49 (Original Archive)

supreme_arbiter 7/31/2009

IAS turn 55 - The Mountain Queen

THX-1492 followed the helper bots and inspected their programmed behavior. The absence of error messages satisfied the robot. Its wards behaved as robots were expected to, without deviance. A continual stream of 'success' messages was the closest approximation of pleasure THX could imagine with its current programming.

Irsa followed the crew into the jungle, looking for more food and supplies for making spears. The vegetation was plentiful but bland, and stones were uncommon. She carried home a few limbs for spear shafts when Chelydra gave the word to return.

The crew spent a second night at the excavation and awoke to another breakfast of instant coffee, protein bars, and Irsa's leafy greens. Again the crew marched from the pit and into the jungle. Behind them the dense forest swallowed the excavation while THX observed the helper bots in silence.

By midday they reached a shallow valley, their trail crossed a narrow stream. Growing bolder, Irsa explored further from the crew. She flew up high, above the leafy treetop canopy, and found another world where ferns, flowers, mosses and grass clung to wide branches, above her only sky. Some of the flowers looked meaty and tasty, and she put them in her bag.

When Irsa returned to the Pandora that evening, the food analyzer told her the canopy flowers were nutritious, and she found their taste to her liking. Together with the sweet roots from the seashore, Irsa dined in grand style that night.

-end transmission-

OOC: I've said this before, but for the sake of being thorough--I plan next turn to kill a character who hasn't been spoken for in years. If you want to return someday, no problem, please drop me a quick email in the next couple of weeks.

stacinator 8/1/2009


Nike stretched before she took sat down in her chair. Her stomach made a strange squeaky noise. "Damn protein bars..." she mumbled to no one in particular, as she though almost fondly of the weird greens Irsa had been bringing in. "God, I really need a pizza." She thought, and smiled in spite of herself. Then she forced herself to begin to think over the issues at hand.

"Pandora, how are you this morning? Anything I should know about?"

supreme_arbiter 8/17/2009

"I've turned the cameras off in the dining hall and corridors, for your privacy, but I've been observing the gangplank, and everyone who has come and gone. Alexei left this morning with the road crew, and showed up briefly in my sensors this evening, but instead of returning to the ship he's crawled into the escape pod lodged in the trees at the excavation's edge. There are no other signs of life in the excavation, Nike."

stacinator 8/28/2009


Nike digested this information quickly, and something about it made her instincts tingle, just a little bit.

"Pandora, is Chelydra still awake?"

supreme_arbiter 8/28/2009

"Yes, he is securing the gangplank," Pandora replied. "Wait, I see Alexei now. He just came out of the forest. He's up in the trees at the edge of the excavation. I think he's heading for the escape pod that is stuck up there. Yes, he just went inside. I can't see him anymore."

supreme_arbiter 9/4/2009

"Radio on," Nike said, "Chelydra, can you see if Alexei is OK? He's up in the escape pod in the trees?"

"Can you reach him on the comm?"

"No, he can't speak, remember? He writes on a whiteboard when he wants to talk."

"Oh, yeah. He should talk to Shlitzee about that. Our nano-medical equipment's pretty complicated. I'll bet it can fix his vocal chords."

"Maybe, Alexei you hear that? Nevermind, I just want to make sure he's OK."

Chelydra lowered the gangplank and walked around the ship. "Hey Alexei," he shouted, "You all right up there?"

Alexei poked his head out of the entrance to his escape pod and stared down at Chelydra. "You coming down?" Chelydra asked. Alexei shook his head, waved, and disappeared once again.

"He's fine Nike. Looks like he wants to stay up there."

"All right, come inside and lock down for the evening then. Pandora, please keep an eye on Alexei and let me know if he has company up there. Security teams keep me posted if anything happens."

-end transmission-

supreme_arbiter 9/25/2009

IAS turn 56 - The Mountain Queen II

As the crew walked down the winding path descending toward the Pandora to rest for a third night in the excavation, Alexei watched from the treetops. He'd grown bored with life on the Pandora. There were several crewmembers that he found attractive, but they were too busy for him. Heavy petting seemed out of the question with Amanda or Nike who were always doing something on the bridge; when Irsa wasn't searching for vegetables she was in the kitchen preparing them or eating, and Becka hadn't looked up from her book since Alexei met her.

He watched the crew spiral around the edge of the excavation to the bottom and enter the Pandora, then climbed into the trees where his escape pod lay nestled among the branches. He had with him a blanket, a bottle of water and a midnight snack, and settled down for a good night's rest without the Pandora's stale, recirculated air. The view was much better here, too.

He made himself comfortable in the wedge of a padded chair, and was starting to relax when he heard over the comm, "Alexei, can you hear me? Are you all right?" Alexei growled. He climbed to the doorway and saw Chelydra emerge from the Pandora's shadow. He waved at Chelydra, and was happy to see him wave back and return to the ship. Alexei returned to his makeshift bed and let the sighing noises of the jungle lull him into a peaceful sleep.

The jungle air was cold. Alexei woke frequently and rewrapped the warm blanket around his feet. In the middle of the night he lay awake, trying to fall asleep again, when a thump startled him--something had fallen on top of his pod. He sat up and listened intently. A moment later a dark shape hovered above the doorway. Alexei shrank beneath his blanket as a large creature swung down and crawled inside with him. Tentacles whipped around the room. Before he could react, they shocked him like a bolt of lightning. Paralyzed, he watched helplessly as the tentacles lifted him toward the creature's mouth.


"A large creature is approaching the edge of the excavation," Pandora said with an urgent voice.

Nike awoke with a start from an otherwise sound sleep. "Where is it?" she heard Caleb say over the comm.

"It's approaching Alexei's escape pod."

-end transmission-

Elizabeth 9/26/2009


Irsa awakes. She's bored, her food gathering of the last few days had gotten out of hand. And she decides to visit Alexei. Grabbing a spear just in case of trouble, Irsa timidly asks Pandora where Alexei was. A large creature heading for his escape pod panicked Irsa. She ran as quickly as possible out of the ship and took to the air. She knew the pod's general location, and heads there as fast as she can. And attacks anything that doesn't look like Alexei by stabbing it with her spear.

supreme_arbiter 12/9/2009

IAS turn 56.2 - The Mountain Queen

[OOC: wow, sorry I've been away so long. And now for something completely different... ]

Coeurla awoke from another nightmare. She opened her eyes and gazed about her sleeping chamber, hoping that some hapless morsel had wandered into her lair. Her great hall was completely dark, but Coeurla could see clearly that it was as empty as her stomach. She was alone. She rose from her warm bed and arched her back, stretching, her claws scratched at the cold stone steps beneath her dais. Several days had passed since her last satisfying meal and her stomach rumbled ominously. She yawned and softly padded across the room, down one of her many corridors, and up the steps to her favorite perch.

The stone balustrades had long since rotted away, the view was dizzying. A stiff breeze was blowing but the cool night air felt pleasant against her dark, heavy fur. From the balcony Coeurla's sharp eyes could see the jungle below from one side of her valley to the other. She gazed at the place where the trees disappeared, the pit that her mother had warned her never to enter. No hunter had ever returned from it, but in the past few days something had changed. Coeurla had seen two large birds fly in, and three had flown out. She wondered if the pit was now safe for hunting.

She turned from her perch and descended the stone steps through her palace to the jungle floor. She prowled her domain, searching for a meal, but her subjects knew well enough to keep out of sight. She found a trail recently cut through the forest by some great beast, it led in the direction of the pit. Coeurla strode along the path until she reached the forbidden place, then her confidence slackened. Her instincts told her to turn around, but she peered over the edge and saw one of the birds sitting at the bottom. Nothing moved.

Her ears detected movement above her, and she leapt back from the pit. She glanced up and saw a giant stone lodged in the trees above her. The sound had come from within. She leapt up onto a tree, climbed into the canopy above her, and stalked toward the giant stone. She drew near and traced the edge with her tentacles. A thrill of excitement ran through her, it was made of metal.

She dropped down onto it and peered over the edge into an opening in the side. A small head, unlike any she had ever seen, peered from under a hide of some kind. Coeurla leapt inside and stunned the creature. Its body went rigid like any other prey. She lifted it toward her mouth, examining it before dining. It would be a small meal. She wondered if more of them were nearby.

A faint noise came from the creature, not from the orifice she imagined it ate or screamed with, but from the ears on the side of its head. She had but a moment to ponder this curiosity before other sounds drew her attention. A hissing sound and a heavy thump echoed from the bird at the bottom of the pit, and the sound of wings raced toward her. Coeurla climbed from the pod with her meal in her tentacles and gazed around, ready to jump away at any moment. She spotted a green furry creature, not much larger than her meal, flying toward her with a long pole pointed at her.


"A large creature is approaching the edge of the excavation," Pandora said with an urgent voice.

Nike awoke with a start from an otherwise sound sleep. "Where is it?" she heard Caleb say over the comm.

"It's approaching Alexei's escape pod."

Irsa heard the message, grabbed her spear, and left the Pandora within seconds. She flew toward Alexei's escape pod and arrived in time to see an enormous creature with four legs and two whip-like arms climb from within. It was dark, and the creature's fur was blacker than night, but Irsa could see it held Alexei, unmoving, above its head. It turned a catlike face toward Irsa, its eyes reflected the dim moonlight. Irsa aimed her spear.

[OOC: How close will Irsa approach the creature? Close range with a spear is 10 meters. If she attacks, please roll 3d6. The dice server we used to use is down, so roll your own and good luck :^)]

-end transmission-

Elizabeth 12/9/2009


Irsa will attack by throwing the spear at the tentacled feline thing.

Rolled 3d6, came up 5, 3, 3. Total of 11.

supreme_arbiter 12/18/2009

Irsa aimed her spear at the tentacled feline and threw. The missile flew straight and true, and would have struck home if the dark creature hadn't been so fast. It leapt from the escape pod and cleared the space between it and another tree deeper in the forest. It was gone before Irsa could react. She flew through the trees chasing after it, keeping her eyes on a dark silhouette. She saw it cling to a thick branch and stop. In the pitch black jungle shadows she saw two eyes like silver saucers reflecting diminished moonlight straight at her.

[OOC: Irsa's my rock (and the Assafs are my copilots :^) I've never killed a character whose player hadn't clearly abandoned the game, but I will punish characters who deserve it. To Irsa I say, "Be careful out there!" To everyone, check your inventory early and often.]

-end transmission-

Elizabeth 12/9/2009


Irsa turns right and attempts to attack from behind.

supreme_arbiter 1/27/2010

Irsa turned right and circled around the tree on which the creature was perched. She held her breath and moved her wings as silently as she could, hoping she could ambush the creature from behind.

Coeurla pinned her ears to the back of her head and smelled the air, but no other creatures stirred nearby. She stung the hairy creature she held in her tentacles until the delicate sparks in its brain stopped tingling and she knew it was dead; she held her meal close and prepared to spring as Irsa came around the trunk of the tree. Coeurla's sharp eyes could see Irsa as clear as day, but she could tell her prey had difficulty seeing in the dark--her eyes darted back and forth, trying to focus. "This morsel will be easy as well," she said to herself.

A faint whirring sound came from the pit and quickly grew louder. A long shape with two protrusions flew up and circled around the clearing; it clamoured like a creature that did not care if predators could hear it. Frightened, Coeurla leapt to another tree and was gone from sight before Irsa could fire.

-end transmission-

gammaben 3/1/2010


[[Sorry for my absence, everyone!]]

After returning from his solo away mission two days' previous, Percy felt slightly rejuvenated. Slightly frustrated with there having been nothing to write, radio, or Post-It Note home about, he nevertheless enjoyed the trip outdoors. He had lumbered to his quarters, doffed his duralloy suit, freshened up, and spent the rest of the evening tinkering with his computer's desktop, screen saver, and font preferences, completely relaxed and clear from the worry of the past several days. He had deliberately blocked the stress of his short second chance at life, its horrifying beginning, and current multi-pronged predicaments about the existence of human life in the galaxy, from his mind.

The day after he met up with Arkady and returned his pocket knife. "Just as sharp as yesterday when you loaned it to me, Ark," he smirked, handing it over.

[[How about gerber_magnum_lockback_pocket_knife_hi-res.jpg -- I figure you can hack it up and replace the S with a W for Warden, assuming it is standard issue Warden crew member fare.]]

He spent the rest of the day visiting the various stations of the ship: the bridge, the matter compiler, engineering with a wave to Hephaestus and a bit of tinkering with the telescope. On that last piece of equipment, he was curious if there were any logs of the telescope's previous use. He tried to strike up conversation with the crew, to get to know them better. Specifically he complimented Irsa on her food gathering. "Sure beats HeAve bars!" he smiled, still a bit mystified with the fact he was having conversations with such amazing creatures as human/turtle hybrids, mutant hamsters, coyotes and chimpanzees, and alcoholic robots. "How can you tell what's ok to stuff in your pouches for bringing back to the ship, and what to avoid? My sniffer isn't very good--I'd probably smell and taste test my first wild berry and think it is fine, only to wake up days later from a poison fever--or not!"

He enjoyed walking around with his coffee, which mostly got cold as he toured the ship. He stopped by the medical bay and slowly tried to bring himself back to task. He was reminded of their casualties, some in the biomedical storage, some not, and sobered up his focus to the task at hand: saving the galaxy and ensuring the survival of humanity. On his way back to his quarters for the evening, he passed the Rota Tribe's quarters, Horatio and his students' quarters, and wondered what had become of them. Were they spending the time playing dice games? They were certainly out of sight, out of mind--and that was probably for the best for the time being.
A faint whirring sound came from the pit and quickly grew louder. A long shape with two protrusions flew up and circled around the clearing; it clamoured like a creature that did not care if predators could hear it. Frightened, Coeurla leapt to another tree and was gone from sight before Irsa could fire.
Percy was in his room and thinking of settling in for the night when he heard some commotion. It was someone running down the hall. Either a fellow crewman was having a bathroom emergency or something else was going on of a more dreadful nature. He awkwardly grabbed his laser pistol and ran down the hall. From the hall to his left he spied the gangplank, open, and a clamorous cacophony beyond. He sprinted to the the drop-ship's entry way and spied beyond, laser pistol gripped and ready for aiming and firing, should he find them in danger. "Where was Chelydra?" he thought, hoping it would not be up to him to play military wolf-man hero like he had in the jungle dome on Warden.

Elizabeth 3/1/2010


Irsa is upset that she couldn't rescue Alexie. She does however recognize when she is outmatched. And whatever killed Alexie was too powerful for her. She heads back to the ship. Tomorrow she would plant something in Alexie's honor. In the meantime a late night snack would help her feel better.

supreme_arbiter 3/17/2010

IAS Turn 56.8 - 3rd day at the excavation ends, day 4 begins

Irsa showed Percy how to use the genetic analyzer to test the vegetables she was washing in the mess hall. Percy spent the morning tinkering at his computer on the bridge. Examining the data coming down from the Alexandria, he watched portions of a few movies made on Eridani, mostly tired and unoriginal plots derived from old Earth films. There was a sci-fi film forwarded from Earth that was interesting, and Earth news from the 2300's: deadly hurricanes in the North Sea, economic disaster in Europe, a coup in Africa, rioting in the US, fighting in the Mideast.

Disturbed by the way civilized people had treated one another when civilization still existed, Percy left his computer and visited Arkady in the garage. Arkady was arranging parts on the floor outside the matter compiler for Hephaestus to assemble. Percy gave him back his pocket knife. "Just as sharp as when you loaned it to me, Ark."

"Thanks Percy, but why don't you keep it? I can't imagine what I would need it for. Besides I don't see myself doing any exploring until after this elevator is finished."

Percy stopped by engineering next. He waved to Terminus and examined the telescope. It had survived the crash landing remarkably well. He turned it on and examined the user logs. It had only been used once 503 years ago. The images were of the icy moon Charon orbiting Pluto. (OOC: image to follow in 2015 when the New Horizons spacecraft reaches Pluto :^)

Percy played with the interface and soon was aiming the device at the sky but the sun was too bright. He returned at dusk to scan the heavens. The moon was not yet visible in the excavation's narrow horizon and Percy could detect no other astronomical bodies besides stars, but after several minutes of computer guided searching he spotted the Alexandria orbiting 100 kilometers directly overhead. A communication satellite and the beanstalk spool hovered nearby.

Percy heard a commotion outside engineering. He grabbed his laser pistol and ran to investigate. The gangplank was open. He sprinted outside and stopped beside Chelydra. Percy followed his gaze upward and saw Irsa fly into the trees at the excavation's edge. Caleb ran down the gangplank behind them and tossed the spy drone into the air. It flew after her.

"What's going on up there?" Nike asked over the comm.

"I don't know," Bud replied, "I can't see much through the drone's cameras. Irsa registers in infrared but not much else. I'm flying higher for a better view."

"The creature leapt away from me into the trees," Irsa interjected.

"What did it look like?" Nike's voice was calm and rational.

"Like a huge cat with dark fur and tentacles. It was carrying Alexei away."

"I can't see a thing Nike, the jungle is too dense. The drone's cameras can't even see Irsa through the trees."

"Keep trying Bud. I'm sending a security team up to you, Irsa. Be careful up there. We don't want to lose you too."

THX-1492, Shlitzee, Davred, Caleb, Chelydra and Percy soon joined Irsa. THX shone its powerful beams into the forest looking for the creature but it had left no trail to follow. Nothing stirred among the trees except the gentle evening breeze. They searched until dawn but found nothing.


The sky grew lighter through the Pandora's bridge windows. Nike struggled to stay awake in her comfortable command chair. She looked back and forth between two monitors: the drone's feed showed an endless stretch of featureless foliage, and the camera at the end of the beanstalk displayed the slowly approaching planet. A row of numbers decremented toward touchdown, just over 60,000 km to go.

"Nike," Arkady said over the comm. "The natives in the crew quarters are ripe beyond belief. They've been cooped up in there for almost five days. I think we should let them out to stretch their legs and fumigate the rooms."

"Ok, let them out around noon when the sun is overhead and clean them up. In the meantime I want you to compile infrared cameras and relays for around the excavation perimeter. I don't want to get ambushed again like we did last night."

"I have a lot more parts to build for the elevator."

"You'll have plenty of time. The first cable won't touch down for at least four more days and you already have enough pieces for Hephaestus to begin construction at the rock."

"Ok. But I think we'll run out of carbon soon. Between the HEaVE bars and the diamondoid elevator parts, the compiler is going through carbon quickly."

"Take a bucket and haul in some of the debris the robots cut making the trail out of here. As soon as they reach their destination you can have them haul it for you."

"Roger," Arkady grumbled.

That morning Irsa held a private memorial service for Alexei. Becka put down her book long enough to join her. Irsa found a patch of rich looking soil overlooking the stone ruins, cleared a space by weeding the grass and dug a hole. Inside she placed one of the sweet delicious roots she had discovered on the beach five days ago. They had grown tiny stalks since being picked and Irsa hoped this one might grow into a mature tree someday. It would make a fitting tribute to Alexei's memory.

-end transmission-

OOC: The image of the Alexandria is from a pilot for a TV show called Virtuality.

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