Die-Sun

Incident Report

Uh. Uh. I first received notice of a portal intrusion at approximately 1600. The automated defenses activated, deactivated, and reactivated before being destroyed. I made contact with the individuals in the portal corridor and they declared themselves to be non-hostile. As they showed no signs of Jandross infection I permitted them to enter the facility. They identified themselves as representatives of a diverse coalition of interests with a shared goal of repelling the Jandross incursion. I received their report and forwarded it to Admiral Grayson’s office for review. Shortly thereafter, as their leader was installing replacement weaponry for the potral room, a second intrusion event occurred. This one was also non-Jandross, but was a hostile force of nonhuman entities. The smaller ground troops were approximately one meter tall, with twelve footlike appendages and serrated teeth. The larger forms which I assumed to be in command were approximately four meters tall, bipedal, with several arms running down the sides, and appeared to interfere with the mental processes of those around them. The group of ‘ambassadors’ and I initiated a tactical retreat, hoping to lure the hostile forces to the outdoor kill zone, but before I could activate the remainder of the defenses, an orbital laser strike, probably also triggered by the hostile intrusion, decimated the hostiles. We were fortunate that one of the visitors was mechanical in origin and able to detect preparations for the strike or we would also have been killed. Under the advice of their leader, I deactivated the portal to prevent future intrusions. He said that it would be possible to block intrusions of this sort again with the proper materials (I have attached a requisition list). That said, it is my estimate that the portal is currently nonfunctional and no longer of tactical value, and I request reevaluation of my post.

1st Lieutenant Jak Hardon

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Ark 9

The Cinder and her people arrived today, as Navlaan told us they would. The Cinder herself chooses to remain hidden, though I assured her companions we meant her no harm. We welcomed them and gave them food (their appetites were not large, but apparently their machine-man had recently acquired a new source of food and had been testing recipes out on them for several days), and we will send them tomorrow so that our Hive-Queen and theirs may discuss matters of state. Their Hive-Queen told us that there is a threat to all life in the world, and while I imagine that to be an exaggeration to convey urgency, I know that Navlaan deals with uncanny and powerful forces, and I am sure her needs are not to be trifled with. Navlaan also informed us that they had already visited another, similar Ark to ours (number 17, containing creatures of a more warlike bent) in another part of the world, and suborned it to their cause.

If this matter is truly dangerous I am certain my Hive-Queen will inform me what is to be done. My interest is much more in their juvenile, Toriss, who has reached an advanced age for an immature drone. He claims to have been born in a hive millions of miles from here, so either he originates from another Ark or, even possibly from members of our species who brought down the human oppressors. It is a shame he is the only survivor of his hive-we could have learned much from his former Hive-Queen. I hope our queen will look favorably on him and allow him the foods he needs for metamorphosis. I only hope it’s not too late already.

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Turning off the Faucet

Quelana made it into the airlock. It looks like she’s going to keep moving forward to try to shut down the monster manufactory. Bazz and Toriss are hurt bad from the venom those giant wasps injected, but it looks like Heron has them stabilized for now. Markus’s drones took a beating but I think he’s reconstituted them as well. I’m radioing Kada now to try to get him here – I think this has reached an all-hands-on-deck situation.

We came to Ark 17 first to try to find a sign of Quelana’s sister Astora, but it was only on the way that it occurred to Markus to ask Navlaan what if anything he had set up here. It seemed that answering the question triggered the latent memory that he had activated the biomechanical manufactory to produce monstrous weapons of war, and send them through the portal to erase any and all trace of the nanites infecting the new army of Cinders, triggering their broadcast protocol and collecting their data. After setting this up and before coming to the ziggurat of flesh where we found him, he apparently erased all knowledge of this plan from his memory (though apparently a few threads were left that let him respond to Markus) as protection against the possibility that he would be found and subverted. Since there are now over seventy Cinder-adapted individuals who have been sent on an anthropological data-gathering mission throughout the Trenith Valley and environs, cleansing the area would be devastating, not least to the Trenith villages themselves, who have hosted Quelana for several years now.

What we found at the Ark was an impressive army in the making – four war dragons circling in the air, horse-tank amalgamations, men with the heads of bulls, though not sentient in the way a baseline human is. Markus distracted two of the dragons with a drone-delivered drug, and after landing Bazz retrieved one of their biological printers, which might be useful if we can locate blueprints for it. Then he set up a distraction which drew the attention of most of the patrolling monsters, except for a small detachment which went to secure the entrance to the facility that was producing the army. Everything went fine until they noticed us – now we’ve got two Lodge members badly wounded and a whole facility still to infiltrate. The distraction Bazz set up won’t last long though – they’re talking about whether to go in or back right now. Either way, I’m going to level 1 of my retrieval protocols. Hopefully I won’t have to go further.

Ozgur

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Navlaan

She came to the ziggurats. I figured she would. She didn’t kill me; I didn’t figure on that. Her robot claims I’m missing data, data that would change the formula, say the experiment isn’t over, that it’s not time to sweep up the shavings and turn out the lights. I don’t see how some would-be god-AI is going to reweight the scales, but I promised, and I know enough to know Quelana had something up her sleeve. I fear Quelana’s programming has become corrupt, that she’s become too attached to her mimicry of humanity that she’s forgotten what she is, too attached to the lives she comes into contact with here to leave in the wake of a clear and present danger, to retreat to the Safe House. It’s only a matter of time before the Jandross use what they know about the gates to figure out how to redirect their energy as a weapon, or draw the attention of something we don’t want to find us, or find and subvert Eygon.

But I promised. Once it’s safe to go back inside (I can’t believe I went to all the trouble of disabling all the defenses only to have that scout trigger them wandering aimlessly) I’ll contact this ‘Professor Celandine’ and see how he plans to deal with a horde of human locusts.

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The Fifth Cinder

Another missed opportunity, if you ask me. THIS close to finally getting myself into a decent number of minds, and travelling ones to boot! But it was not meant to be; the others thought it was too risky, like I’m one of those crazy AIs from bad science fiction movies that’s just biding my time until I can put my master plan into action or something. I felt bad for Bevin, though; he was so excited about having transformed two villages of previously-murderous Red Death raiders (looks like that’s caused by some other tainted nanotech in the region; something else to put on the to-do list) into Cinders. Like, identical physical copies of Quelana (except with working eyes), but they retained their original memory and identity, although they all have a newfound love of travel and discovery. The good news is it turns out whatever caused his ability to transmit the nanites was linked to his DNA, so he was the only vector. I mean, that we know about, I guess, maybe the other Fever Swamp folks could do the same thing. Not an avenue anyone’s dying to pursue, I don’t think.

Toriss did his best to deactivate the nanites in a way that wouldn’t kill him, but somehow the signal got misinterpreted and they switched into a sort of…info-dump mode? Apparently even Quelana didn’t know they could do that. When Heron understood that Bevin was now unwittingly transmitting a decent chunk of his and Quelana’s shared memory to an unknown location, she didn’t hesitate a second before killing him. (That right there is why I’ve never tried to lead the Lodge myself; no stomach for that kind of decision. I mean, no stomach at all, but you know.) It was probably too late though; twelve, thirteen hours later Quelana got an emergency broadcast on her sister Astora’s frequency, just ‘HE IS HERE HE IS HERE’ over and over again for maybe fifteen minutes and then cutting out. Markus rang up Celandine and learned that someone landed their shuttle on that floating city Astora was camped out at right about at that timeframe. Everyone’s assuming it’s Navlaan, Quelana’s brother who went crazy and is trying to burn all the Cinder nanites and all the people who remember them. Celandine tracked the ship to a ruin not too far away and he’ll keep watching for now while everyone decides what to do next. Meanwhile, everyone’s trying to put some basic survival skills into about two hundred neophyte anthropologists so they don’t all get themselves killed as soon as they head out. Too bad we’re going to have to wait a few months before the first meetup to learn what they find out there. I suppose we have more pressing matters anyway if Navlaan’s going to try to set us all on fire.

Ozgur

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Friends and Relations

So that was unexpected.

The command unit we found and issued a recall code to came back…with its personality matrix intact, and it brought friends. They parked their airship a ways off, probably wanted to keep their secrets till they knew our intentions. The command unit says someone from this local tribe activated it and apparently, in the absence of a structured heirarchy, imposed one on what looks to me like a bunch of undifferentiated anarchists. It referred to one of them as Praetor, which I think is kind of funny – I wonder if it gave her a quick promotion so I wouldn’t outrank her. I was expecting a tool, not a person, but I think I convinced it not to straight-up murder me when I explained about the Jandross – it seemed to believe me and decided to put me in contact with another more advanced AI of the type that wiped out my entire civilization, I think as a test. It’s calling itself Celandine now, whichever one it was before. That one’s set up shop on the other side of the sphere and claims to be content with running a city for now. So that’s all very exciting. Emilia did some repairs on the command unit and helped its bug-friend put together a scanning unit so they can look for some nanoplague they’re worried is spreading around the vicinity. Grateful again for running into that spy – I think we learned as much from her as she did from us, and if I hadn’t been prepared for these ‘semihumans’ I might have panicked and done something stupid. It really does look terrifying, like some of those old pictures of extraplanars. Seemed nice enough once you talked to it though – it’s not the world I went to sleep in out there anymore. Convincing everyone else of that will be the real challenge. I mean, assuming we’re not all murdered or enslaved by telepathic human offshoots or extraplanars, of course.

Augustus Secundus, Praetor
Like it even matters anymore

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Homecoming

Personal journal:

A relief on several fronts – our young members have returned to us safely, they have brought the charges our machinery will need to run for the next year (and additionally an emissary from one of the cities beyond the portal – a Professor Merrow, who seems content to spend his time in the portal room poking at the machinery, hopefully nondestructively), and most personally satisfying, I am finally rid of the damn ring. The Lodge is Heron’s problem now. I overindulged at the homecoming party and now everyone is calling me ‘Junco Drunko’ – it probably won’t stick but personally I love it. Markus spun us the story of their adventures twice – the full round for the Lodge and and edited version for the whole village. They had quite the adventure; Ozgur managed to talk them into all kinds of things I would never have allowed, like gifting a city with technology sufficient to alter its power balance, or even taking that flyer out (they brought it back with them. Even I have to admit it’s impressive.

Straid talked to Cinder for a bit about Bevin, and she seems concerned that the transfusion did something to him, made Ato destroy the rest of her blood samples and everything. They’re going to go looking for him, though Toriss has some kind of capital-P Project he wants to work on, so ruin-diving is what’s next on the agenda for them. I guess. Not my problem.

Junco Finally Doesn’t Bear the Fucking Ring Anymore

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Impressive Distraction

Intercepted traffic, three-times encrypted:

Red:

I’m heading back. Looks like those folks you sent out to kidnap the da Rosa kid did my job for me too. No way will that thing function now. They managed to dismantle the control panel and I saw the big one run off with a few key parts, as well as the kid, and scare everyone off the site with what the blind one said was some sort of bomb, but I’m not stupid; I saw those marks on the skin of the two that ran off after the explosion…only nanites work that fast, and that grotesquely. I hope they got clear of it, or everyone’s going to be in for an ugly surprise in a week or two. See if you can find a way to get Cobalt close enough to check them out before they start wandering around Kredo and infecting everyone. They just took off, should be there in a day or so. No way for me to stow away without it looking suspicious, but I’ll detach myself as soon as I can naturally. One last piece of news: that nanoplague was guarding, or possibly created by, a functioning medfabber. The last piece of the puzzle may have just fallen right into our lap.

Sallow

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High and Mighty

Internal correspondence, High Academy of Kredo:

Agata:

I’m going to need those scanning modules and the hypersextant back for a little while. Field work! You know those super-rich visitors that are making all that noise these last few days? Turns out they came here through an actual, functioning Temple Builder portal! Or it was functioning till someone blasted it to pieces. The one I think is their leader came to me and spun this story about being the head of a university, and looking for information about the portals so she could have her students build one….she tried to play it off like she considered the dangers insignificant, which went to show she wasn’t as all-knowing as all that. So glad she came clean with me about the truth: there’s another portal to the southwest, they came here through it, but it’s broken now, and they want to fix it so they can go home. I know, I know, you’ll say it’s good that it’s broken, but I can’t just leave them here stranded for the rest of their lives, to say nothing of the scientific possibilities…anyway, in case I die horribly or release an army of Erinyes on the world, you should know I’m headed up to Markstone to examine the excavation there, in the hopes that the pieces we need to repair are up there and functioning in a way we can mimic. So exciting!

Merrow

Intercepted traffic, three-times-encrypted:

Cobalt:

There’s a group of travelers heading to Kredo you should keep an eye out for. They stopped by our camp and cleared out the murdens infesting the basement like it was nothing, just so they could get to the bottom and reactivate some old tech. Fair deal, as far as it goes, but these folks are capable, dangerous, untethered to the social order, and willing to shake things up as far as they have to to get what they want. Find a way to make our problems their problems, and we might speed up the timetable a year or two.

Kelly

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Cut Off

I TOLD them. I TOLD them sending this new group in blind was a terrible idea, and now here we are, seven people and two megagoats, and unless Toriss unlocks a whole new level of awesome, we’re going to stay here for a good long while.

Heron filled me in once we had some downtime on the boat (I’m gonna start seeding the name White Tooth unless they overrule me). All I remember was Indri chilling out and then everything went black. Apparently one of those Khalsi fucks shot him in the back, because the recruits murdered the rest of his squad so they didn’t have the calloff signal, because SOMEONE OR SOMEONES I AM THINKING HARD ABOUT YOU RIGHT NOW JUNCO thought this whole ‘do your own research’ plan was a good test. Kada looked especially pissed; his genetic predisposition for protection doesn’t sit well with Indri’s death, I guess, or maybe he just has common sense.

Anyway, they passed the test, for whatever good it does us all, carrying around a year’s supply of the power source for the medfabber and half the tech the Trenith use on almost the opposite side of the sphere. Bazz nearly got himself killed twice (seriously, I don’t know why his mother isn’t prouder of him, he clearly inherited her death wish), once by the giant rats and once by the gas mines. I was impressed Markus was able to download and synthesize the antidote so rapidly. I wish I could connect with those old servers he talks to, though I’m worried we might muscle each other over territory.

If it weren’t for all the shit that went down I’d almost be excited. We’re on our way to that second portal we’ve never visited before, by way of Geran (if it’s still there) and one of the more marginal server bunkers I co-opted a while back. Junco wouldn’t let us take the White Tooth out of dock, said it was too dangerous, but she’s not here now, and now I’ve got some time alone with the recruits. They already see eye-to-eye with me about the initiation; maybe we can start doing some things differently now. Even Quelana let me in, finally, thank goodness. She’s still wary, and given her history with the Lodge I can’t totally blame her, but if I can get her on board, this could be the chance I’ve been waiting more than ten thousand years for.

-Ozgur

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