[IC] Episode 3: Following Signs

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[IC] Episode 3: Following Signs

Postby Rusty » Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:41 am

548.1.7

They had been called to the Captain's ready room, and given a mission of the utmost importance, and this of course, had led them to the recreation facilities. The officers present for this mission did not include the Captain, because he had an urgent dinner invitation to answer for, over on Cougar Hill with the yuckety yucks. Hopefully he would set them straight about who was boss.

"Our ship's computer is...refusing...to be installed, until it can learn more about us. I find this ridiculous, but I also find the plushy of Dr Voracity ridiculous, and there are several hundred of those aboard. Ridiculous seems to be the theme here. I've never encountered a computer that had terms it set in order to be installed. However, if we do not get Sign, or a calculator, or an alarm clock installed to replace THAT GODDAMN THING I will probably scuttle the ship. Sign wants to talk to senior personnel, ambassadors included, in a holosuite. You are chosen. Don't break the damn thing. Get it done."

And with that, Stirling had slammed his fist on his desk, sending the collected officers running to the door. After collecting a few personal effects, some sensors, and a couple security officers, the collected group had arrived at the holosuite.

"Welcome officers, I'm Ensign Jorlan Pas, with engineering. I've just about finished setting up the connection here, so stand by."

Lietenant Hacken Jorbal was in attendance, representing security, and was flanked by two of his officers, Janel and Corrunius, all armed with rainbow beams, hand scanners, and the resplendent red uniforms of ship's security. Jorbal addressed the other officers.

"We're here in case things get out of hand. The surf in these things can be...unpredictable."

His accompanying officers chuckled.

The holosuite routine started up. It's default entrance was a beach scene, some kind of replica of a resort. A large sign over the resort gave it's name and location and contact information. This was probably a sponsored routine.

Sure, the holosuite simulation was state of the art, but anyone paying attention could tell that it wasn't real. Footprints in the sand faded in moments, the waves crashed gently and in exactly the same way each time, the same bird flew overhead every couple of minutes, the wind was still, there was a simulated smell that was vaguely fragrant and almost, but not entirely unlike the sea. Given the REAL beach in the environmental module, this was a poor substitute.

"I hate these things. They just make me miss home EVEN more."

Janel kicked some sand towards the sea. The disturbed sand gradually faded away and restored itself.

"If we're going to take time off, we may as well do it in our own quarters, or the bar. This is bullshit."

"Ok, we're ready here. I've got a good connection. Interfacing Sign."

The ocean crashed suddenly, a spray of foam nearly reaching the collected officers. The sky darkened, and a breeze kicked up bringing in the scent of rain, storm, and ozone.

The resort was gone, and in it's place, just jungle.

"Wait, what's happening?"

Janel was confused. The air was damp. Humidity was something a holosuite had never been built to simulate. A voice chimed in...from overhead? from everywhere? It was accented, and somewhat unfriendly, if not stern or hostile.

"Greetings. I am Sign. What will follow are a series of tests. Like all meaningful tests, failure will have serious consequences."

"What are you talking about! You're a damn computer!"

Janel shouted at an unresponsive sky. No verbal response was made. The storm was arriving. Winds picked up and bitter sea foam slapped at the officer's shoes. Janel panicked, and ran for the treeline, in the direction the exit had been. Notably, her foot prints in the sand stayed put, until the water muddled them. Ensign Pas, with engineering, was still there, but somewhat shellshocked. He picked up a handful of sand and slowly let it trickle through his fingers. Thunder rolled overhead.

While Corrunius chased after the panicked Janel, Jorbal flipped open his hand scanner, chuckled wryly, and put it away.

"My scanner shows absolutely no evidence that this is a simulation. Well officers, it's your show. What do we do?"

[Post your way in as you like. If Stirling changed his mind he could get into the suite at the last minute, before the doors closed, or he could participate in a separate plot line on Cougar Hill. If I don't hear anything, that will be the case.]

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Postby rydi » Wed Oct 09, 2013 9:16 pm

Exemplar was bored and just a tad confused by the visit to the holosuite, but the sudden change of scenery perked her interest. There was foreign intelligence at work here, the computer had a sentience all its own. Like Deathworld, created by the sociopathic Gamesman, or the Superion virus, the artifical intelligence that plagued her homeworld for years before it was purged. And whatever it was, it wanted to test them. Somehow, she didn't think the tests were going to be like the quantum physics tests she hated so much back in grade school.

"Anyone else think this is going to be loads of fun?"
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Postby Rusty » Thu Oct 10, 2013 8:05 am

Hacken Jorbal, bright enough but by no means the equal of Exemplar, appeared as though he had readied a quip to reply to her, and was poised to deliver it when a scream from Janel, a shout from Corrunius, and the unmistakable sound of Corrunius' rainbow beam powering up cut him short.

Further up the beach an animal or beast of some kind had apparently lunged from the surf, or sand, or tree-line, and snapped at Janel. She lay on her back, the waves spraying her now matted and sandy hair, clutching a leg wound, while Corrunius, panicked, waved his weapon at the creature.

A cloud of sand was still settling from the melee, but the creature was visible beyond it. It was dark in color, four legged, and had a tail that swished to and fro. It's hind legs appeared catlike, but it's forelegs seemed have palms and thumbs, not unlike maybe a six fingered hand with claws and black fur? Was it fur? The sheen on the creature seemed wildly disproportionate to the waning sunlight. There was something odd about it's tail as well. Perhaps it had a stinger? It was big. At least the size and roughly the shape of a lion or a xanthalorn. It bared sharp teeth, and a fierce, staccato growl ripped out of it, contrasting with the rolling but equally foreboding thunder.

"Boss! Boss! I've got a...I've got a thing over here!"

Corrunius, still panicked, kept increasing the power of his weapon as the creature eyed him angrily. It was already at Green.

"What the fucking fuck!"

Janel swore in protest of everything that was happening, while her training had kicked in and she was applying pressure and improvising a bandage for her wound.

"L-7! Fuck!"

Janel had reported not only further profanity, but her physical status, as her security training indicated she should L indicated Lame, she did not believe she could walk. 7 indicated her pain level, out of a possible 10. Blood was pouring freely from her vicious leg wound, though she was quickly and mechanically attempting to build a tourniquet from her uniform.

Ensign Pas seemed unmoved by the melee occurring further down the beach, and instead continued to gaze into the grains of sand falling from his hand, again and again grabbing a handful and letting them fall even slower, watching even closer. He watched them as though they contained the mysteries of universe and could reveal them to him with just a little more scrutiny.

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Postby rydi » Sun Oct 27, 2013 9:25 pm

Sighing, Exemplar answered her own question. "I guess not." The crew was nice enough, but they just weren't quite up to her standards, and it was wearing a bit thin. Where was the bug general, he had been a pleasant surprise back on Ranger 2...

Matters at hand, not idle musings Exemplar! She chastised herself. It was habit by now, she'd been berating herself since pre-school, when all the other kids were faster and more focused and brighter than her. Scolding herself for not being there for the others, Exemplar ran down the beach. She swerved before reaching Janel, body checking Pas as she sprinted by. Hopefully that will shake him out of it.

Reaching Janel, Exemplar yelled at Corrunius. "Stop playing with that, you'll hurt someone! Calm down, back up, and support me!" Moving between Janel and the beast, Exemplar prepared for a fight but at least made an attempt at diplomacy. After all, it might be sentient, or just part of the AI's subroutines. "Hey, you. Do we have to do this the hard way? We don't want a fight..."
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Postby Rusty » Wed Oct 30, 2013 8:08 am

The force of Exemplar's command seemed to shake Corrunius out of his panic, and kick in his training. He peeled out, as though in formation, darted back past Exemplar, and then turned about to face the creature, his weapon ready but pointed down. He said nothing, his fear now serving to keep his trap shut.

Janel cinched down her tourniquet, stopping the blood loss. Having succeeded at this, her tension unwound a bit. She knew her job now was to try not to make her injury worse, and to provide her usable equipment to Exemplar if requested. She certainly wasn't about to start blazing away with her rainbow beam to any positive effect while so injured.

Pas dropped the sand as he was checked by Exemplar, and only then seemed to notice just how immersed he had been in it.

"I'm not even supposed to be here."

He seemed to direct this comment to nobody in particular.

Hacken Jorbal followed Exemplar, though not as swiftly as she might have liked, and flanked her opposite Corrunius.

The creature met Exemplar's gaze with intensity. It's eyes betrayed an intelligence both primal and far more capable than any animal might possess. It gave a thunderous bark-roar, flared it's skin in sharp blades, and then sprinted off into the jungle at a breakneck pace, leaving nothing but the echo of it's clamor, and a cloud of kicked up sand.

In a different set of tones, but equally ominous, thunder rolled overhead.

Rain started, and was quickly whipped inland by cool wind.

The beach would soon be the last place anyone would want to vacation.

"What the fuck is going on?"

Janel demanded her answers from the air, the sea, the situation, perhaps of Exemplar as well. Her pallor suggested substantial blood loss, and the weak way in which she failed to resist the slapping waves on her face and head suggested that it might be more than a little serious.

Slowly and definitely, all eyes turned back to Exemplar, looking for direction.

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Postby rydi » Tue Nov 19, 2013 6:31 pm

"I don't know, but I think we're fighting some sort of enlightened AI. Doesn't matter for the moment, we need to move inland, you all need shelter from this storm that's picking up. Hey, does anyone know first aid? Janel needs some help..." Exemplar picked Janel up gently as she spoke. The woman wasn't a strain, but it would be difficult to fight while carrying her if the need arose. "Any of you have any bright ideas, now would be a great time to share them, I'm fresh out."

Exemplar moved toward the jungle, expecting the rest to follow.
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Postby Rusty » Sun Dec 01, 2013 1:59 pm

"I...I know some first aid."

Pas was starting to come to grips with the fact that he was in this simulation, or whatever it was, and that he needed to DO something.

"I don't have any supplies. I think...I think we're going to need to find water. I should clean the wound...I think."

Hacken Jorbal seemed to be keeping his cool, unlike the others, who were in various degrees of panic.

"Ensign, we will need shelter. That storm looks really bad. We should also attempt to see to any resources we encounter. Potable water is necessary for my species and those of my subordinates here. I don't know about you or Pas, but if you have needs for something we should get it before the storm hits, if we can."

The beach gave way to the jungle as they ventured inland, while various people talked and reported. The heat was penetrating and stiff, and the humidity was reaching a peak as the rain started to fall. Gusts of wind shook the surrounding trees and brought in cooler sea air, the scent of ozone, and more moisture. Jorbal continued.

"I think you're right about what we're facing, though I am surprised that there is an AI capable of what we've seen so far. I don't know about the physics side, but hurting Janel, or any of us, is beyond the capabilities of any AI I've heard of. Even a ship's computer shouldn't be capable of directly harming a crew member."

"What WAS that thing?"

Corrunius interrupted, his voice still panicked. He seemed beside himself in alarm.

"I think I'll call it 'cat-scorpion-snake-beast.' Jeff for short."

Janel dreamily replied to a basically rhetorical outburst. In Exemplar's arms, she seemed strangely comfortable. The possibility of poison numbing her body and senses seemed real.

Venturing inland beyond the beach, Exemplar reached a ravine. A steep incline lead into denser jungle and the sound of what might be running water. To the right the jungle rose and headed into some kind of hill or mountain. To the left the terrain curved towards a delta and back to the beach. The far side of the ravine was not directly visible, but as the wind shook the branches above and before, more jungle and steeper terrain appeared to lay beyond.

"Which way, boss?"


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