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 Into the Void!

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Mr. Serious
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PostSubject: Into the Void!   Sun Aug 15, 2010 9:30 pm

It's the Golden Age of Humanity, or at least that's what they were saying. Humanity was about to begin its first real exploration of the stars. And Vrach didn’t really care. Ideals and notions of grandeur meant nothing to him. The shuttle shook gently as it rose into the upper atmosphere, and Vrach did his best to reposition himself in the cramped seat.

Vrach was a Clansman, a member of the warrior-mercenary ‘family.’ Gene-modded for denser musculature, almost unbreakable bones, and who knows what else, Vrach was a fighter. Simple. He’d been given a life contract to work on the exploratory ship up in orbit in the Away Team as a SecOfficer and secondary Tactical Officer. He grinned a bit when he thought of that. He’d be among the first to hit the dirt whenever they reached a new planet. If any fighting should happen, he’d be right in the thick of it. He absentmindedly ran checks on his gauss rifle, as he looked at the other passengers.

The seats were arranged with their backs to the outer wall of the shuttle, so he could take everyone in in a scan. Apparently, these passengers (and even the pilot) would be his teammates, as everyone on the shuttle was designated as part of the Away Team. Sitting immediately in front of Vrach was a man by the name of Rein. Vrach didn’t know much about the man except for the intelligent gleam in his eyes and that he carried a helical rail gun. You have to have a stomach to use a weapon that can reduce a man to paste with a single shot.

Then there was the famous Iav Gemetris. Everyone on Earth at least knew of him, since he was he’s the only person in the last several generations to have a psychic mutation. He looked rather young and could easily have passed for one of the young ravers, since his hair was a weird jumble of colors. Vrach was pretty sure they shifted in color when no one was looking. Of course, Iav’s ability to pull off such a guise was impaired by the golden-brass suit he always wore. It constantly made whirring and ticking noises, occasionally punctuated with a burst of steam. Vrach had heard that it was used to boost Iav’s powers, since the human psychic trait was still rather weak. Or, rather, really weak.

“I hope y’all like country, ‘cuz… well, heck, I’m playin’ some.” That was the pilot. Some sort of technical genius from Texas, Vrach had been forced to listen to the man’s life story while waiting at the star port. As anyone can guess, it was much to Vrach’s dismay to find that this man, ‘Steel Cage’, was the pilot. One never saw him without some sort of mechanism thrown over his back, falling out of his pocket, or strewn about his workspace.

Sitting next to Iav Gemetris was Nickolaus von Brandenburg. Based on the briefing files Vrach read, Nickolaus was a biologist. Why he was carrying a sniper rifle, however, was beyond Vrach.

Then, as isolated as possible, was… well, in all reality, Vrach didn’t know what to call him. But, in a way, he was the reason for this whole ‘journey amongst the stars’ as the papers were calling it.

Five years back, humanity had had its first contact with alien life. It had found us. They came in peace, they had said. They offered technology, wisdom, and happiness. Plans were made for trade. The first shipments of goods landed… and troops came out. It was horrific. Everyone was caught off guard. Vrach remembered the fighting with mixed feelings. It was the best fight he’d ever been in, but the ‘normal’ troops didn’t fare so well. In the end, it wasn’t humanity that saved itself.

A splinter group had formed among the aliens, deciding that what their race was doing was wrong, or dishonorable, or whatever it was that motivated the things. They sabotaged their own kind’s ships, giving our rather comparatively rudimentary crafts a fighting chance. They even joined the humans in the personal combat. Vrach nodded to himself. The buggars could fight.

Five years later, humanity had refitted one of its largest ships with the aim of exploring the universe, finding allies and making a name for man among the stars. Vrach examined the alien. Neither its name nor its species's name could be pronounced by humans, but at least they could communicate. Hidden somewhere on its person (or perhaps inside it) was a mechanical device that somehow produced human sounds in human speech. How this was achieved without any sort of speaker slightly bothered Vrach. It looked like a human shaped bug, carapace and all. Except, Vrach couldn’t tell where its eyes were. Where a human’s eyes would be on a head, it just had unbroken chitin.

Vrach shook his head. And he was stuck with these people for… the rest of his life. He thought about the ship he was going to be living in. It was hailed an engineering marvel, the greatest work of human construction in all of history. Vrach looked at it out of the viewport as they came in to dock. To him, it liked like a shiny brick.

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PostSubject: Re: Into the Void!   Mon Aug 16, 2010 12:13 am

Iav felt the anima of the others around him and the cold blackness of space outside. Gazing upon the newly constructed starship, he was slightly in awe. It was straight as an arrow, floating in space, almost like the tip of a sharpened spear. Iav was feeling philosophical, now that he was leaving Earth for the first and last time. Having no family alive planetside, he really didn't have much to lament. That wasn't the only thing. The other members of the team seemed to recognize him. Of course on second thought, perhaps it wasn't so weird. He was the poster child for the newly emergent class of Animators, a majority of the other ones being involved in covert-ops and espionage. This predictably limited their ability to appear in public. Iav was glad he had gotten out of that end of the business, he didn't want to die like a candle snuffed out in the dark. How ironic that he was heading out into the biggest darkness mankind had ever known.

He watched the ship, appearing to drift closer, even though they were the ones doing the moving, until they reached a miniature orbit around its massive prow. The texan began shouting like a madman over the intercom, the person on the other side returning fire with verbal vollies. At some point, the ship managed to land with a loud screeching noise before the yelling stopped in earnest.

The loud guy was still mumbling to himself as the passengers began to gather their personal belongings. Iav reached under his seat and pulled out a large oblong box. It was the only thing he had bothered to bring with him besides his armor, his only worldly possession, the armor technically still owned by Animus, although they would probably never see it again. Now if only he could get it open.

Reminiscing for a moment, he remembered the meeting with Excias, his mentor, before he left. It was then that he had been given the box, and the cryptic words,"when you can open it, you will be ready for what's inside." Excias was the most skilled Animator he had ever known, so Iav had very little to do but to trust him. Using some of his anima, he strengthened himself by a small amount, making the box easier to carry, and stepped off the shuttle down into the landing bay. There he was met by an aid in a crisp white uniform, who handed him a dataslate.

"Welcome, Iav, to the Peacemaker. This pad contains the location of your room. Go there to drop off your . . uh . . . box. You will be called for a briefing with the captain shortly."

Iav nodded once, accepting the pad and moving off towards the entrance of the hangar. As he looked around, he could see techs riveting the landing gear of the support craft to the deck.

"Now why would they be doing that?"


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PostSubject: Re: Into the Void!   Mon Aug 16, 2010 1:58 am

Mairi stood looking around at the crew around her and was surprised that none had yet to notice her standing in their midst. She was particularly surprised the mercenary had yet to even gleam her presence, but then again she did have a tendency to go unnoticed if she was in someones presence unknowingly. Yet the psychic should have certainly sensed her, but wishing to be noticed was to no avail even if she did have the intentions of wanting to be. Instead she moved over to the man with a gauss rifle, and tapped him on the shoulder.

"Do you think take-off was rough? I was bounced around a bit but it wasn't to bad." Mairi whispered so only he could hear. "My name is Mairi by the way, and yes, I am real" she added with a touch of laughter at his surprise once he looked around to see if the others had heard, which they either didn't or showed no sign of, and then a look of surprise crossed his face. He looked bright though, and she was sure he would soon realize what was going on.


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PostSubject: Re: Into the Void!   Mon Aug 16, 2010 10:02 am

Vrach immediately found himself locking up. It wasn’t because she was a pretty female- though he had to admit, she was. He was as eloquent as he needed to be when bellowing orders on the field of battle, but he was out of his depth in normal conversation. He always got distracted by the lack of economy of motion in people, the almost clumsy way they moved. Usually, Vrach had the chance to steel himself for a conversation, but the woman- he realized she must be a stowaway- had snuck up on him.

That in and of itself irked him. If this had been a fight, he would be dead. He shook his head to clear away those thoughts. He realized at this point that she was staring at him. He hadn’t responded to her in anyway besides turning to her, planting his feet, and crossing his arms. “I’m sorry… You caught me off guard.” An awkward pause followed his words.

Vrach used this moment for further thought. Her skills certainly could be useful on his team. He wondered for a piece of a second if his decisions were being influenced by the fact that she was a female. He thought about his other teammates: three guys, a mutant, and an alien. He concluded that this was a definite.

As an afterthought, he realized that he had completely failed to respond to her initial question and statements. Oh well, he thought, it was too late now. He swung his pack around and reached into it, pulling out an extra dataslate. He punched some stuff into it and handed it to her. As he started to walk off, he deigned to explain, “Give that to the aid in the white uniform. You’ll give given a room, etc., added to the list of people on the ship. Welcome to the Away Team, and the Peacemaker.”

She looked down at the slate. At the bottom, as an addendum, was added: If anyone questions this, send them to SecOff Vrach.
___________________________________

He had been told that they had researched each member of the team and designed a room specifically for each. Vrach was surprised by their thoroughness.

The room was rather Spartan. In the far corner was a table with a couple of maglocked chairs. There was a Consumable Delivery unit up against the far wall. Up against the near wall was a Clansman sleep-rack. Next to the sleep-rack was a relatively large chest.

He walked over to the chest and opened it, and a wide grin spread across his face. It was full of ammunition, varying firearms, magarms, multiple combat knives, and even some body armor. A note was also inside, giving directions to the armory for the bigger equipment or repairs.

He just might like this job. He walked over to the sleep-rack, deciding that it would be best to try to start working on getting his circadian rhythms in sync with the ship’s timeframe. He pushed himself up against the machine, feeling its deep hum as it started up. Pieces of almost armor looking sheath were extended and put in place around him by it, and when it was done, he was in utter darkness and silence. And shielded. The ship could crash and he wouldn’t even feel it in this thing. He wondered for a moment why he would need such a thoroughly shielded sleeping system on this big of a ship, as compared to the dropships used by the Clans. The clans used these racks so that even if the dropship was shot down, the soldiers could climb out of the wreckage unscathed.

Vrach just guessed that the researchers had learned that this was his preference.

Well, usually the inside of the racks were silent, but if one wanted to, one could have the machine play recorded music for you. He wondered how thorough the researchers had been. Vrach had always been a fan of some of the more ancient musical pieces. “Play the Beethoven Virus.” Instantly the track began to play. Yeah, I just might like this job, he thought again as he drifted off to sleep.

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PostSubject: Re: Into the Void!   Mon Aug 16, 2010 4:14 pm

'Goodnight, Irene! Look at this group. We got a tank, a camper, an ex-Nazi, The Tin Can, and Super Fly'. Steel began to chuckle to himself 'I think I'll like it here'.

Steel was escorted to his room. He opened the door and saw the glorious room which will now be his room. There was a wall of tools, random materials that could be used to pretty much build anything he needed or wanted, and a good ol' fashion beer fridge in the corner right next to his bed. "I truly am the happiest man alive right now". He found a piece of paper on his bed and began to skim through it:

"Dear Steel,
blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah You'll meet the captain at 2:00 sharp blah blah blah blah You will also get a chance to mingle with your new partners blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah Remember its a good idea to blah blah blah blah blah Dont touch blah blah blah blah blah blah You will need blah blah blah Here is a map of the ship Blah blah blah blah.

blah, The Captian"

"2:00, eh?" He looks at the clock, it was 12. "That gives me plenty of time." He grabs a wrench and a welding mask and begins his first invention of the voyage.

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PostSubject: Re: Into the Void!   Mon Aug 16, 2010 5:08 pm

Mairi walked away from the room where she had met the mercenary and began looking through the crew's quarters. The lights were all to bright here, and she didn't think any of the rooms would suit her comfort until she stumbled upon a door almost hidden by the turn in the wall, one that most wouldn't even notice. She smiled and then turned to gain the man in white's attention, he hadn't even noticed when she walked past him and created the gust of wind that swirled his paper from the desk. It surprised her how people could be so blind, but it was an advantage she had, and certainly wouldn't go to waste. Now all she had to do was locate a few mirrors, twenty-three would be a good number.

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PostSubject: Re: Into the Void!   Tue Aug 17, 2010 5:16 am

Being an alien from an advanced race, there is an inherent irony in participating in this species' maiden voyage of exploration. This expedition is heralded as their crowning achievement, yet appears so meager to my biased view. However, their cause is intertwined with my own.

Because the alien empire suffered a betrayal while attempting to annex a planet, they lost Earth - we will not be forgiven. Our rebellion has earned us an excommunication from networked technology; our weapons and advanced tools are unusable. They will most likely come for Earth again, and we need allies and supplies to repel them again. If we succeed, it may be the birth of another alliance to combat the empire... but such speculation is ill-warranted. The Data Thought Entity is always slow to act.

My role is to gain allies, the same as the humans' intent.

I see around me many individuals chosen for their outstanding abilities, and I am no exception. It is my thorough knowledge of alien cultures that makes me an asset to this expedition.

How much I will be of use will be ascertained later, as will the capabilities of my human comrades.
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PostSubject: Re: Into the Void!   Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:51 pm

It wasn't long until Vrach found himself staring into blackness. "Open," he said aloud, and the sleep-rack began to retract its sheath with a soft grinding of metal on metal. Vrach felt restless. He noticed a digital clock integrated into the far wall. About an hour had passed, leaving him another hour until he would be expected at the Captain's briefing. Perhaps it was time to test the ship's training facilities and see how they compared to the ones back home.

Vrach walked out into the hallway, noting with faint amusement the heavy thump his boots made on the metal decking. As he walked, he looked down at his dataslate's map intermittently to be sure he was going in the right direction. Two lifts down and a rather decent number of steps later, Vrach found himself at the entrance to the combat training facility. As he passed through the bulkhead, which was more than twice as thick, he noted, the doors ahead automatically moved to the side with a soft whir. Inside, there was a long counter with several aids on duty, each wearing the same crisp white uniform. He looked around, taking in the room. Each of the doors leading out was labeled with a letter and a number, the type painted in bright red above the frame. Other than that, there was nothing else of note except for several heavy metal benches bolted to the floor in the corners. One of the aides looked up from her display and motioned him over.

Already feeling that familiar tensing, Vrach made his way over to the counter. She had a pleasant face, he thought erroneously, doing his best to humanize the uniform. "Present identification," she said in a tone that seemed to imply that he should have walked up with it in hand.

Vrach simply nodded and began fumbling in his pockets for his ident card. After a moment he found it, in a back pocket he thought he never used, and handed it to her. She glanced at it before inserting it into the console in front of her. Her face shone with recognition as she handed the card back to him.

"SecOff Vrach, welcome. There isn't much to do on this ship, is there?" He stood there stolidly and nodded, before she continued,"Well, what can I get for you? Quite a few of the facilities are in use, but I think we have a couple openings. There is already one configured for melee combat . . ." she glanced down at her console screen once more.

"That sounds good, ma'am," was all he could think to say. She smiled and got up from behind her desk.

As she walked purposefully towards a one of the many labelled doors, she called back, "Right this way."

Vrach caught up with his long stride in rather short order. "Here we are," she said, "Training Block 3C." To suit her words, the large red letters above the portal read TC-3C. He walked towards the door, and was surprised when it failed to open automatically. The aid ran up beside him, blushing slightly. "Sorry," she mumbled as she thumbed the pad next to the door," these are all manually operated." She finished the code and the doors slid open. Vrach turned to thank her, but she was already walking down the hall, back to her station. Puzzled, he turned and entered the room.

The first thing he caught sight of was Iav, who stood in an odd stance with his eyes closed, the mechanisms of his armor ticking softly. This was the only sound in the large room, which was slate grey. Iav stood in the center of a recessed area with padded flooring that was quite a few yards square. Ahead of him was a stand that appeared to be part of the floor, a thick metal plate locked into place by clips resting on it. Off in the corner stood a man in a blue uniform, the white trim gleaming in the harsh light of the lamps overhead.

Then, without warning, Iav lunged forward towards the metal plate. He brought his fist around, sheathed in a metal gauntlet that glowed with an unearthly light. As his fist met the metal, there was a bang like that of a cannon going off, as he punched a hole through the plate. He stood there, breathing heavily, before falling to his knees. After a moment, the tech snapped out of his stupor and walked over, entering commands into a dataslate. He stood next to the stand as a metal ligament extended from the floor and took hold of the plating, bringing it below the deck.

Vrach stood there for a moment, watching the peculiar man. As Iav began to recover from his exertion, his hair seemed to shift in color. An idea occurred to Vrach and he called out to the kneeling man, "You can throw a pretty impressive punch, but do you know how to fight?"

Iav turned to him, a look of surprise on his face,"I've had a lot of close quarters experience, but I . . .", then he realized what was going on. "I can fight well enough." He stood and walked to the far side of the arena. As he did this he shouted to the assistant, "Put the stand away, I don't think I'm going to need it."

Vrach took a sparring position on the opposite side of the makeshift ring. "How tough is your suit?" he asked. Due to Vrach's enhancements, if his partner wasn't another clansman or heavily armored, he could easily accidently harm or even kill his partner.

"The alloy can stop small-arms fire, but I don't think you need to worry about that." He extended his right leg and raised his arms in a defensive stance.

Vrach opted for a more languid stance. He worked his way towards Iav, one step at a time, keeping his arms down by his sides. Once he was within a few feet of Iav, he nodded, hoping he conveyed the sense that this sparring match had officially begun. Vrach decided to open with a straight on punch, twisting his torso back and then slinging it forward to give it some momentum.

With rather surprising speed, Iav's left arm shot up knocking the blow away with a muted clang. Iav was stunned by Vrach's speed. He had encountered augmented opponents before, but none were quite this fast, forcing Iav to take a moment to trickle a little more energy and decrease his reaction times across the board. As soon as he felt confident, he faked a punch with his left arm before bringing his knee up towards Vrach's stomach.

The idea behind the attack was good, Vrach thought, but he was an experienced fighter. He read Iav's fake and threw his hand down to catch the man's knee, while at the same time he grabbed for the arm Iav had faked with in an attempt to throw him off balance. Vrach grunted as he did so. Though he had stopped the knee from hitting his body, it was a faster and stronger blow than he had expected. Iav's speed had just noticeably increased. Now that Vrach had caught his attack, Iav began to realize the caliber of warrior he faced, and pulled away, assuming his slightly awkward defensive posture.

Vrach decided it was time to test the man's mettle. Suddenly, he surged forward, canting his body forward and raising his right leg a bit behind him, blatantly broadcasting his intent to kick. Vrach measured the blow with caution in the extreme, though even with his attempt at self limiting, the kick would leave one nasty dent in Iav's suit if it connected. But the man seemed to track his kick perfectly, before something abnormal occurred. Just as the kick was about the meet Iav's extended arm, something so slight that it appeared to be a mirage interspersed itself between the material of the suit and the heel of Vrach's foot. Using his anima, Iav guided the kick into the ground, where it tore through the padding and dented the support frame beneath. Each stood in shock of what the other had done, before the a stern voice came over the intercom.

"All member's of the Away Teams are to report for a meeting with the captain in ten minutes. Repeat: You are to meet with the captain in the situation room located below the bridge in ten minutes."

Iav glanced back towards Vrach,"Looks like we've got to go."

"Ah, looks like it. We'll work on your technique next time," Vrach responded as he turned and sprinted out of the training block. Ten minutes to run all the way back to his cabin, grab a change of clothes, get to his sectors Sanitary for a sonic shower, and then make it back to the briefing. Though he was stressed out by his lack of preparation for the upcoming social interactions, he honestly felt that the short fight he'd just had had been worth it.

"How often do you have one of your blows deflected by someone's mind?" he thought with a grin.

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PostSubject: Re: Into the Void!   Tue Aug 17, 2010 11:44 pm

Mairi sat staring at her room. A single lamp sat directly in the middle of the floor, and the walls covered by mirrors at exactly the same angles forcing twenty-two sides. Light filled the whole room, and it seemed completely bare except for a hammock stretching in a few of the corners and a chest in another. She then walked around the room and witnessed her reflections walking with a subtle grace, until suddenly they all dissipated at once. It was a trick that was recognized by a physicist long ago, and almost certainly forgotten since it had no practical aspect, well, none that any normal person would use. For her it offered security, escape, and a place she could hide in plain sight.

She felt completely at ease on this ship except for one thing; the psychic really did unnerve her. She knew he had to be able to track her by her subconscious energy, and she began brainstorming how to find a way around this when over the loudspeakers there was an announcement that the Away-team should meet with the captain. She then strapped a vibro-dagger to her leg and another to her waist, and then added one to the inside of each forearm. Some might think it a foolish move, but she learned long ago never to step out unprepared.

She then left her room and headed to the meeting, without anyone knowing she had left until a few minutes later a servant came in her room to remind her of the meeting. He seemed perplexed as to why she was not in her quarters, although she didn't seem to have left, but went back to his other duties. It was not his concern whether this woman who suddenly appeared in the ship's records was reprimanded or not.

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PostSubject: Re: Into the Void!   Wed Aug 18, 2010 12:19 am

Steel put down the wrench and marveled at his new creation. It was a new invention of his which he called the T-150 Helper Droid. This was 1 out of 10 that he was planning to build. He was very pleased with its outcome. It had a small cylinder shaped body and tiny, but strong, arms. He plugged in the battery and watched his machine come to life. The big red eye lit up as it began to stand. The bot sees the tools and begins to clean up after the engineer. "Well would you look at that."

"All member's of the Away Teams are to report for a meeting with the captain in ten minutes. Repeat: You are to meet with the captain in the situation room located below the bridge in ten minutes", announced the speakers.

"Just in time too. Come on little fella, we gotta get out of here and into the meetin' room." The robot made a little beep and began to follow him. "Hey boys", the sentries in the room turned toward him, "make sure no one gets in or gets out, will ya?" The sentries went into scanning mode as Steel and his little companion made their way to the meeting room.

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PostSubject: Re: Into the Void!   Wed Aug 18, 2010 3:15 pm

One of the many aids about the halls stopped beside Rein. "Do you need any help?" Rein was standing in the center of one of the larger halls glancing about. "I'm fine thank you. Just trying to take everything in." The aid gave a puzzled look, but continued on down the hall. After a moment a voice came over the intercom.

"All member's of the Away Teams are to report for a meeting with the captain in ten minutes. Repeat: You are to meet with the captain in the situation room located below the bridge in ten minutes."

The aid glanced back at Rein, and he returned a quaint smile, and headed off toward the meeting.

"No one seems to understand. A map's a map, yeah, but no map's perfect, and a map never beats a direct survey of an area. Fancy data slate or not, that map can't tell me everything."

Rein had a habit of talking to himself rather openly. He gave another aid a quaint smile as he walked by, her face reading of some mix of confusion and dismay.

Rein spent the last few hours studying every piece of information the dataslate he was given had to offer. He looked back down the long hall as he rounded a corner. No one was behind him.

"This is the most direct route to the meeting. Where's everyone at? Maybe they're already there."

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PostSubject: Re: Into the Void!   Sun Aug 22, 2010 5:38 pm

Mairi stood in front of the door to the situation room waiting to be let in. She didn't bother knocking, seeing as how they had asked, no demanded, that she come and therefore should expect her. She wondered how long it was going to take, and was beginning to walk away when she noticed a man walking up the back way, looking around slightly with eyes that seemed to read everything in the surroundings, taking in all of the data at once. He had a hard face and dark hair partially covering his face. He walked straight to the door, and as he neared it it opened. Mairi stared at the door for a second and then quickly walked in, apparently the sensors didn't recognize her as a life force which she found interesting. Either way, she certainly realized she should have knocked.

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PostSubject: Re: Into the Void!   Mon Aug 23, 2010 7:18 pm

Vrach was running down one of the many corridors of the Peacemaker in a full sprint. He'd been to the showers, and changed, both in record time, but even with his breakneck speed; he was already five minutes late for the briefing. And... he looked at his map. Vrach was only half-way to the briefing room.

He pushed himself a bit harder, already feeling his body produce chemicals to prevent the buildup of lactate. There were several of the white-uniformed aids up ahead, some heading towards the briefing room and some leaving that area. He noticed the woman with the pleasant face was among them. Vrach calculated their paths and flew through a gap between them. Before he knew it, Vrach was within inches of her. He smiled, nodded, and then continued on with his mad flight, not even breaking stride.

Bulkheads flew by in rapid succession as Vrach drew nearer to his destination. He started slowing to jog and then a quick walk. The door was up ahead. Before too long he had reached it, and the door opened with an almost silent whish. He quickly slid into one of the seats towards the back of the room.

Rein looked back over his shoulder as the door to the room slid open. "Only one left now. The engineer of the group I do believe." Rein was standing toward the back of the room, the rest of the group loitering around, aside from the two that were late in front of him. The Captain was at the front of the room, his attention focused on a display, readying another intercom request for the remaining members of the group to report. Rein heard the door's soft whir one more time as a small machine stumbled into the room, follow by the rowdy Texan.

"Sorry I'm late", said Steel, "but this little feller took longer than I thought." The little robot stumbled in. "So what's up fellas? How's life treatin' ya?"

Rein laughed a bit as the tiny robot stumbled into the room.

Captain Yaan rose from his seat in the center of the circular room, scanning the seated people around its circumference. He was a tall, hawkish man with severe features and a perfectly trimmed goatee. He wore a crisp, white uniform much like that of the aids, but studded with medals and other such insignia designating his significantly higher rank. "Now that you're all here, perhaps we can start the meeting," he said coldly, his glare managing to take in the whole of Vrach's Away Team.

Formerly the famous Admiral Yaan, his genius in the war against the alien attackers was one of the factors that played in humanity's survival. Though technically, he'd suffered a reduction in rank by taking this posting as Captain of the Peacemaker, his word was law onboard the ship. And given that none of his superiors were going to be out there in the expanse of the universe, he had no higher authority.

"I've designated Team Vrach as our primary. They will always be the first down and act as our public face. Team K'nalla," he inclined his head towards a group sitting not far from Vrach's, "you will be assigned the secondary objectives."

Vrach was surprised to note that the person who stood up in response and saluted was a fellow Clansman, or more accurately Clanswoman. He could tell by the defiant look in her eyes that she didn't like being assigned to 'second place.' That was a bit unnerving to Vrach. There were two things he was somewhat afraid of in this world. Social events, and Clanswomen. You'd have to be foolish not to fear a woman who can field strip a rifle in labor, and be on the battlefield an hour after delivery.

"Allow me to be clear on one thing," the Captain was looking directly at Vrach then, "we are to avoid aggression if necessary. We are looking for allies and resources. Not more enemies. Am I clear, Vrach?"

Before he really realized it, Vrach was at his feet in mid-salute, and responding, "Yes, sir."

He grinned. "Good," Captain Yaan replied. "I've read your record. Leaving your enemies a devastated pulp at the first sign of aggression is no good for diplomatic relations."

The Captain turned to face the entire room. "That being said, more information will be given to you on a mission-by-mission basis. We've already selected our first destination. Dismissed."

As everyone filed out the door, the Captain called after them, "By the way, when you hear the warning that we're entering the Void, strap yourselves in. The transition is a little bumpy."

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PostSubject: Re: Into the Void!   Tue Aug 24, 2010 10:30 pm

These missions are going to be infuriating. The humans lack the foresight to consult their greatest reference on alien cultures (myself) when on their diplomatic vessel's maiden voyage - and I am to be a member of the Away Team.

On another matter, I was not aware the leader of said team garners renown for "leaving his enemies a devastated pulp at the first sign of aggression." Such a drawback must be heavily compensated by the advantages he brings.

Then the other members - most notable a soldier wearing a shoddy powered exoskeleton and some ghost-like woman who I am not sure is not an alien herself. What kind of diplomacy is expected? We resemble more specialist soldiers.

Although this is the humans' first reach into the stars and mistakes are to be expected, I am invested in the venture as well. Perhaps I simply occupy myself too frequently with worries.

After a brief rest in my quarters, an announcement chimed throughout the vessel regarding the jump to the "Void." As I located a means to strap myself to the seat, I bemoaned the pitiful technology with which I would be thrust into hyperspace.
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PostSubject: Re: Into the Void!   Wed Aug 25, 2010 6:01 am

Iav returned to his quarters after the meeting and prepared for the leap into the void. He was a little disconcerted to think that he was actually leaving Earth. From what he had read, he understood that the technology behind this "warp" had been tested thoroughly between Earth and Mars, but it had never been used to cross such a great distance before. All the more reason to strap down tightly.

So he activated the control panel for the grav couch mounted to the wall and locked himself securely in its cold, mechanical embrace. His armor continued its ticking as the chronometer on the wall started its countdown. It all really seemed so inconsequential, as if they were just going on a road trip or an orbital descent. The timer continued and when it finally struck zero, Iav got his first taste of the Void.

His world seemed to shake itself to pieces, and then there was nothing except black and the sensation of impossible speed. The ship was gone, but he could see the Anima of every single occupant. He encountered none of the resistance he did in the real world, and could clearly view the dynamic play of each persons personal animation. The fascination of this wore off shortly, however, when he began to look outward. There were things out there.

These creatures were massive, some seeming to be made of constellations. He could only gaze on in horror as one of these titans seemed to notice the ship. As it pulled alongside them, Iav realized the true scale of the thing, and how small the ship was in comparison. He made out what appeared to be a single eye moving towards him. It grew large and larger until it was the size of a building, floating there just a few meters in front of him.

He began to feel pressure, the sensation quickly becoming painful. Iav panicked until he realized he could still see his hud. Parts of it appeared to be broken, but most of it was intact and operational. He brought up his shielding system, feeling none of the drain that normally wracked him as the pressure lessened. The eye moved away, its movements cautious, almost curious, before the shield indicator on his hud cracked and the force returned, stronger then ever.

It was moving in, he could feel it pressing in on his mind, ever closer. He began to have trouble breathing, before powering down the detection systems on his armor. Immediately, he was back on the ship, but the eye still floated before him. Iav slammed the emergency release on the harness as he fell forward gasping for air. He began stripping off his armor, first his helmet, then his chestplate falling to the ground with a clang. The the force lessened, the ship becoming more real and the eye gaining a transparency. As the distance between Iav and the apparition continued to increase, he fell forward and lost consciousness.

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PostSubject: Re: Into the Void!   Wed Sep 01, 2010 7:12 am

The Deep Dark. The Infinite Blackness. The Empty Dimension. Most often simply called the Void.

It was humanity’s only way to traverse the stars in any sort of decent time. Save one, the crew felt nothing more than a harsh juddering of the ship as it changed dimensions, and then all was calm, and almost eerily quiet on the ship.

The human scientists had made their infallible declaration. Nothing existed in the Void and, as the largest Voidtrip in the history of the human race was made, that Nothing noticed them.

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PostSubject: Re: Into the Void!   Fri Sep 03, 2010 1:05 am

Mairi sat in her room, tossing a dagger into the air, and catching it once more by the tip of the blade. She sat thinking of what could cut through the boredom, then she remembered reading about a training facility on the ship, a place to test combat effectiveness, and thought that anything was better than sitting here doing nothing. So she checked her daggers, and left her room to head for the facility. She stopped a few doors down, swearing she had heard a moan, or a grunt, or a scream, some sound that announced pain, but decided it was her own imagination and continued to the facility.

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PostSubject: Re: Into the Void!   Sat Oct 16, 2010 4:04 pm

The little bot was sent flying through the air and crashed into the wall.
"WHY DID YOU MAKE SO MANY DAMN DROIDS?"
Steel's original plan was to only make 10 Helper Droid, but do to speed and the ease of mass producing them, he ended up giving existence to A LOT more.
"Stop your bellyachin Vrach, besides, these droids are more useful than the people they hired to work on this ship. Shoot, they should stop payin' the workers and just let my droids fix the problems of the ship for free."
Vrach still didn't like the droids. "I don't care what they do, JUST KEEP THEM AWAY FROM ME!"
"Alrighty then" Steel pulled out a little remote control. the floor began to shake.
"What the-?" but before Vrach could finish his sentence he was surrounded by what seemed to be hundreds of those tiny bots that he hated oh so much.
"Alrighty boys," began the engineer "now this fella over here doesn't like you guys, I don't know why but thats not the point. Now if you treasure your little robotic lives I suggest that none of you bother this man, understand?" The bots all beep in unison. Then they scurried back from whence they came. "Now you don't have to worry about those boys every again." The engineer walked off.
Vrach just stood there for a few seconds. One of the droids came back and then realized he had made a huge mistake. They just both sat there staring at each other.
"You have 3 seconds." Before Vrach began the countdown, the bot was gone. "That's what I thought." Vrach walked off.

R.I.P. Bot #36

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PostSubject: Re: Into the Void!   Sun Oct 17, 2010 3:31 pm

Spoiler:
 

Three weeks. They spent three weeks traversing the lightless Void. Three weeks of stark artificial light and portholes tantalizingly closed tight against the cold dark just outside the hull of the ship. Or, that was how most onboard the Peacemaker felt. Vrach, on the other hand, was far too preoccupied with other things.

He no longer went to the training rooms in the bowels of the ship. Instead, he had had weights and other training equipment brought directly to and set up in his quarters. By the start of the second week of coursing through the Void, he barely left his quarters at all, save to go to the mess hall for food or one of the communal data terminals. Some thought it was due to some sense of vanity or an inflated ego on the part of the Clansman. Vrach left them to their judgments.

The reality was far too embarrassing for him to admit, even to himself. The truth was that he was avoiding K’nalla, the Clanswoman. The reasons being even more embarrassing. Despite his recent tendency towards complete isolationism, Vrach did start to form a sort of camaraderie with Steel Cage over the weeks, however much the man’s inventions tended to annoy him.

Though Vrach had become a hermit of sorts over the few weeks in the Void, his extreme was nothing compared to that of Iav. The Animator had dropped completely off the radar. Inquiries sent by other members of the team were left unanswered, though the medical officers that occasionally visited him claimed he was fine.
***

Captain Yaan stood over the table, arms stretched over the map in front of him. “So... here?” He asked, placing a finger with mechanical accuracy on some pinprick on the map.

“Yes, sir,” a nearby adept answered. “Beridion, as we've named it. It was the closest planet capable of supporting oxygen-breathing life.”

“Good,” the Captain responded, his brows already joining in thought. “Have the teams ready to land almost immediately upon our arrival.”

“We’re arriving in four hours. I’ll send out the alert," the adept turned and walked away.

Another one of the adepts looked uneasy, and after a moment voiced his thoughts, "Sir, what if the planet is occupied? Shouldn't we attempt to open communications with the people rather than dropping in on them?"

The Captain turned and regard the man, staring through him with his cool gaze. His words came slowly, as calculated as his thoughts, "This is our first attempt at interplanetary diplomacy. I feel it would be best if we learned by trial and error."
***

With a mighty groan the Peacemaker pulled itself out of the nothingness of the Void and back into reality. The portholes lining its teardrop superstructure ground open likes eyes after a long sleep, finally filling the ship with true light. Many on the ship despaired at what was revealed to them. A single planet spun around an old star, its light thin with age. The planet itself spun lazily in the distance, all dead browns and cold greys. This was not the glorious first contact with an alien race, or the awe inspiring exploration of a new world, filled with vitality and riches for humanity. It felt like stirring the bones of some long forgotten grave.

Vrach stood in the hold with his team, somewhat resplendent in his full battle gear, armor plates shining and brimming with lethality. He was in his element now, equipped for war, however unlikely fighting would be on this world.

"Finally, we get to do some of that good ol' adventurin' or whatever in samhill it is they pay us for," Steel Cage blurted as he shambled onto their assigned shuttle. Vrach and the rest of the team followed him onboard. It was filled with unfamiliar faces, but Vrach wasn't surprised. He'd been informed by the higher ups that his team had been expanded. He'd get to know them in time.

The shuttle's engines began to whine and a strong vibration began to go all throughout the vessel. In a moment there was a lurch, and they were speeding through space, towards a planet that they only knew in name, and where nothing was for certain.

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PostSubject: Re: Into the Void!   Wed Oct 20, 2010 5:29 pm

The shuttle was in the deep of space, rattling down toward the barren rock that was Beridion. Rein was settled in the middle of the transport, trying desperately to hold a dataplate still against the violent rocking of the ship.
“We’re the first ones down, so we don’t know much about the planet, but that’s to be expected. From what little info we have I can say for sure that the planet is terrestrial, and has a breathable oxygen atmosphere. Preliminary scans don’t show any definite signs of life, but we can’t be sure of anything, so we need to be prepared,” Rein looked about at the aloof faces that filled the rest of the seats in the shuttle. “though I guess you already know most of this.” Rein went back to analyzing the dataplate. After a puzzled moment Rein pulled himself free of his seat, and moved forward to the cockpit. Steel cage was supposed to be piloting the ship, but he was only really half piloting. The rest of his time was spent distracted by some mechanism here or there.

“I’m looking over the geographic features in the area of the planet that we’re headed for, and I don't see any really clearings, where are you planning to land this thing? “

"Honestly I was thinking of just crash landing. The ship is big and strong enough so it will take most of the damage. It'll just feel like a night at the rodeo for us inside."

Rein turned and started back toward his seat, mumbling about the integrity of materials, and the shaking of the ship.

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PostSubject: Re: Into the Void!   Sat Oct 30, 2010 4:45 pm

Iav awoke to a man in a white smock standing over him. For a moment he had a flashback, remembering what lurked in the void, and began to panic. He pushed the man away and jumped from his bed as the visions faded from his mind. Then he realized he was covered with leads, all connected to machinery that monitored his brainwaves and anima patterns.

"You've been out for a long time, you collapsed when you entered the void." The doctor had a hard face covered with scars that marked his serious personality perfectly. He moved over to Iav, and with steady hands, began removing the leads. "Apparently, your natural detection abilities are overwhelmed with by exposure to the void, which is unexpected, but not unforeseen. We will just have to make preparations before the next jump."

With the last of the leads removed, Iav walked over to his armor and began examining it. "It was not the void that caused me such distress, as a matter of fact, the void was an amazing experience. There was something in the void that attacked me. Something massive, something nearly as large as this vessel."

"That is logistically impossible, there is simply not enough of a bandwidth variance within the void for life to exit. You know that and the tests have proven it." The Doctor began to look irritated.

"Then how do you explain this?" Iav tossed his helmet to the doctor, who caught it deftly before examining it. There were small cracks covering the carbon-glass faceplate.

"Obviously you cracked it yourself, probably due to anima backlash. It happens to stressed animators."

Iav stood and turned towards the Doctor, taking the helmet from him. "No animator in existence has the finesse or the power to make cracks that small in material this hard. If I tried, it would result in a hole, not fine cracks." To punctuate the statement, Iav leveled his mind at the plate and managed to punch a quarter sized hole in it. "I can't effect the entire thing, not to this degree."

The doctor was silent as Iav retrieved the rest of his armor and left the room.

_____
The shuttle slammed into the ground with a screeching that came straight from the depths of hell. Iav felt as if he was literally going to be shaken to pieces and began to worry about the condition of his armor. All around him was a horrible shacking that seemed to go on for an eternity, everyone tossing and tumbling around as Steel gripped the controls with white knuckles, trying to keep the ship from going into a roll, which would spell disaster for everyone inside. Then he gave a sharp "oh" and reached up and flipped a switch, deactivated the thrusters. The small vessel immediately settled.

Iav, being the one closest to the hatch, cycled it and stepped outside.

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PostSubject: Re: Into the Void!   Sat Nov 06, 2010 8:47 pm

Iav’s boot hit the dusty ground with a soft crunch as he took his first breath of air on this new world. It had the taste of ages on it, unstirred, stagnant, and dusty. He felt the emptiness of this place like a hum in his bones, an ache of yearning for life nestled in his soul. There was nothing here.

There was no wind, no sound, save the hiss and pop of cooling metal coming from the shuttle. As far as he could see, all was dust and barren soul, the only geographical feature of note was a lonely mountain off in the distance. Something was nagging at the back of his mind, but he couldn’t quite place his finger on it.

Then the moment was ruined by the triumphant ‘WHOO-AH!’ of Steel Cage as he finally popped open the pilots cockpit window. With a rattle of kit, he clambered out of the shuttle and made his way over to Iav, trailed by a handful of his miniature automatons. “Pretty… ugly, don’cha think?”

Iav only nodded grimly. There was a heavy crunch followed by several lighter crunches behind him. Vrach and the others had disembarked. Rein walked into Iav’s line of sight, asking “So, where to?” to no one in particular.

Vrach hefted his rifle and sighted it for a moment before bringing it down to his side again. “That way,” he indicated, pointing in a seemingly random direction. He was just about to move when he heard something that shocked him into pause.

Samson had spoken. “Why? Had any of your leader-caste bothered to ask, I could’ve informed them that this is a dead world. There is nothing here.”

Vrach turned to the alien. This was the first time he had heard it speak, and it had been on his team for more than a month. “What is your race’s general practice when it comes to a new world?” he asked, something hidden in his voice.

“We quickly examine it for anything of value. If we find nothing of immediate benefit to our empire, we move on,” was the reply.

“Well, we aren’t looking just for value. We have other priorities. I saw something on the way down. This plain isn’t natural.” With that Vrach turned back in his original direction and started moving. He knew the others would follow.

It was then that it struck Iav. That was what was wrong with this place. It was perfectly flat. Not gently rolling, or smoothed, but absolutely flat. He shuddered slightly in his armor, and ran up to move alongside Vrach.
***

As they moved they started passing over small ruts in the ground. They were all exactly the same in width and depth, though they were unevenly filled with dust here and there. They ran from one end of the horizon to the other, sometimes bending at sharp angles, seemingly at random. As they continued forward they passed over them more and more frequently.

“Are these what you had seen, human? Small… what is your word… ditches?” Samson asked in a flat tone. Vrach was fairly certain he was being mocked.

He took a moment to calm himself before he spoke. “They form a series of complex and overlapping geometric shapes that become increasingly denser towards an emphasized center. I felt it warranted a look.”

Rein piped in, “We were lucky. I’ve been looking at the distribution of dust in these little runnels. From the air it would make them look almost completely invisible. It’s probably only visible form a handful of angles in the air, and even then Vrach was the only one who caught it.”

“Yes, lucky is exactly the word I would use for continuing to examine a lifeless world because of the presence of a few drawings in the dirt. It would be a lot more interesting if the ground were made of a jelly-substance or had flying aliens or something besides just dirt,” interjected Mairi, her voice dripping with sarcasm at first, though it swiftly shifted to an airy wistfulness that revealed her longing for adventure.

Vrach, looked over his shoulder at the girl. He had almost forgotten she was there. Odd girl, he thought.
***

The ruts continued to get denser and denser in their spacing until they were finally at their destination. The ground suddenly sloped downward, though ahead there was an uplifted ‘cap’ of flat ground. The ground continued to slope down under it until it became a roof, giving the impression from above that there was no change in elevation. Genius, Rein thought. Suspicious, was Vrach’s.

Only a short distance under the cover, the dipping ground was swathed in shadow. Vrach paused and reached into his pack, pulling out his arc-torch. He thumbed it on and the crackling energy at its head illuminated the area.

“Damn,” Vrach whispered, his voice carrying around the space. The only thing under the area was what appeared to be a pit with a staircase lining its inner circumference. The stairs were dusty, but obviously made of metal, and lined with smaller versions of the geometric shapes marking the pit.

“A hidden pit on a dead world that spirals into complete and utter blackness… Wonderful… just wonderful. So, who wants to lead the way?” Vrach grinned the question at the people around him. There was no response. “No one? Fine, you bunch of cowards, c’mon.” He chuckled at bit as he said the last phrase and descended into the pit. Some followed because he was their leader and they had a mission. The others followed because he was taking the light with him.

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PostSubject: Re: Into the Void!   Sat Nov 06, 2010 11:15 pm

"Have I ever told you guys about the time me and my buddy got lost in a cave? Nottin' really bad happened 'cept the part when my friend got attacked by bats. He had bat bites all over 95% of his body. Man, it was funnier than Hell." Steel chuckled.
"Do you really think now is the best time to talk about this?" Rein questioned.
"Probably not, but you guys aren't talking about anything so I decided to break the ice with some small talk, you know?"
"And that was the best thing you could come up with?"
"Well at least I'm trying."

There was a silence for a while
"Anyone wanna play I Spy? I'll begin, I spy with my little eye something...red!"
Vrach stopped.
"Wait, what did you say?"
"I was asking if you guys wanna play-"
"No, no, after that." Vrach was inpatient with the little engineer.
"I spy something red?"
"Where do you see something red? It's pitch black down here?"
"Have you been looking at the walls, Vrach? they are covered in red stuff."
Vrach turned away from the Steel and examined the walls. The walls did indeed have something red on them.
"Do you think it's blood?" questioned Mairi
"Well it can't be human blood. You are the first humans to be on this planet. Plus the scanner says no other living thing is on here. Blood doesn't randomly appear." responded Samson.
"Look, the red stuff leads down the staircase. Maybe if we follow the stairs to the end we will learn what this mysterious stuff is." piped in Iav
"Iav is right, lets just keep on going" Vrach began walking again.

Steel began to worry a bit. True, it wasn't human blood, but that doesn't mean it doesn't belonged to some other alien race. "Hey boys," whispered Steel to the bots, "I want you guys to put 3 sentries up there just in case the scanners were wrong, ok?" The bots beeped and began walking up the stairs. Steel didn't trust anything that wasn't built by him. Last time he trusted a machine that someone else built he lost his hand. True, he easily replaced that hand with a robotic one, but that was just a hand. Just because some fancy-pants scientist built it doesn't mean it is 100% right. 'Like father use to say: Just 'cuz it functions and looks good, don't mean that it is actually workin' right.'

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PostSubject: Re: Into the Void!   Mon Nov 15, 2010 11:15 am

System boot up.
Execute startup.exe.
Running....
Running....

As if defying all odds, the machine whirred itself to life once again. Covered in dust from the night before and with wear and tear
all over its body, it still managed to keep itself alive, some how. The only part of it that wasn't in some state of disrepair was the
name printed on the left side of his chest. Carthian-17. Turning its scanners on its brethren, 18 of which lay dormant. The gaping
hole melted into their chest plate showing their sign of malfunction. Unable to keep their cores from over heating, they only had so
long left. It was a surprise that he was still functioning. It was not so much of a surprise,however, that the other was functioning
too.

Carthian-19. One of the later models of the group. He was given an experimental core that would allow him to survive a lot longer
that the other repair units without having to be cooled down. 19 was in almost the exact opposite state that 17 was. 17 not having
the power left over after repairing other parts of the area to maintenance himself, 19 was in almost perfect condition. His plating
was still as clean and shiny as the day he came out of production.

And 17 hated him for this. He had not experience this emotion before the incident. No, incident would be too belittling of what it
really was. More like a catastrophe. He had not really experienced any emotions before it happened. And he had no reason to. He was
a service and repair unit, built solely for that purpose. Having his orders programmed into him from the start, he did what the rest of
the Carthian units did, working as a legion of repairing automatons. 17 was not really sure why the catastrophe happened. Everything
seemed like a normal day. But then suddenly, everything was destroyed. And the people he served suddenly disappeared off the face of
the planet.

So the Carthian units did what they did, which was repairing. Everything. In the time since the catastrophe, they never meet any
other repair units. Probably because they were too busy repairing their sections too. As they continued their impossible job, the
immediate problem was the lack of coolant. It didn't take too long for the first one to overheat. And they all continued along their
way, ignoring him expect from the minimum of basic programing. But time moved on, leading to multiple units overheating. Yet still, 19 was in near perfect condition. This moment started 17's hatred.

After experiencing hatred, the other emotions came as easily to him, but no where near as often. Maybe that was why he had survived so
long without overheating, as little sense as that would make. But it was obvious that his time had come for him. He started to feel
it. The growing heat in his chest, making what his sensors were telling all the more real. He was about to die. Like the other 18
repair units before him. He was operational for most of them. They would enter a high alert status, and run as fast as possible back
to the coolant chamber in a desperate last hope to survive. Their programming made it so they would help them into the chamber, but it
was all for naught. There was no coolant left. They always overheated. As he was about to.

And the only one who would be there, was the one he hated the most. The only thing he had ever hated. Following his programming, 19 approached 17 in an attempt to push him into the non functioning coolant chamber. 17 couldn't stand it. He couldn't stand that he was about to die, and this robot who knew nothing of malfunctioning parts or inoperative systems would survive for who knows how long. Unwilling to let 19 be the one who
was the last one to survive, he thrust out his arm into the repair units well kept and shiny chest, clutching down on what he wanted.
He was not going to die today.


System reboot.
Execute startup.exe.
Running....
Running....

As he came back to life, 17 checked all of scanners. He was still in a state of wear and tear, but he was functioning just fine. His
scanners also picked up something else. Something he didn't notice in his struggle to survive. A ship had landed nearby. The ship
was not of his creator's making, but was a ship nonetheless. Shutting off the warning signals that warned him of invaders, he started
floating towards the ship, leaving behind the 19 robotic corpses, his old core, and his old life behind him.
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PostSubject: Re: Into the Void!   Wed Dec 01, 2010 6:19 am

The darkness closed in around the group, leaving them with very little sight, but the darkness was not limited to specifically to the visual spectrum. To Iav, everything was dark. Not even the background anima was present, only the darkness that began to seep into his bones. He became very worried. What could have happened to cause such a void? Was it intentional on the part of the planets (previous?) inhabitants? Or had something more sinister occurred here?

They descended down the gloomy staircase, and Iav suddenly had the vision of a tomb, it’s stone door sliding shut behind them and locking them down in the darkness for an eternity, never to see the light of day or any kind of light ever again. He put his foot down on the next stair and felt it grasped by something cold and metal. Before he had even realized it, he had used anima and lashed out at his assailant.

It was the remains of a long dead automaton that had been laying in the dust for an eternity. Iav bent to examine it as the others came running at the sound of his attack. It was well built, its stocky body equipped with thick arms and its head a smooth dome inset into the carapace, which now had a new hole in it thanks to Iav’s concentrated punch.

Rain, as usual, was contemplative,” We can be fairly certain the race that lives, or lived, on this was planet is humanoid, their construct would follow their biological patterns. "

Steel was laughing,” Includin’ the hole in its chest?” He turned to Iav, “It was just a robot.” Then the meaning of the words he had just spoken dawned on him, he rushed forward, pushing everyone out of the way and pulling a tool from his belt. “This is one heck of a robot!”

Vrach knew exactly where this was going and put his foot down, " we do not have time to examine the machine. You can come back for it later Steel, if you really want it. We must continue our survey." He began to walk off, his light source still the only one. Everyone followed, Steel Cage most reluctantly.

"Alright, little guy," he dispatched one of his robots" If I'm not back in 0200 hours, you take this thing to the ship, and if there ain't no ship, then build one and follow us, got it?" The little humanoid nodded its ascent before running to stand guard of the corpse of its larger brethren.

Steel Cage caught up with everyone just as they reached the bottom of the staircase and emerged into a large room. It was huge, the size of a stadium, various apparatus covering the walls and directed towards the center, at which floated a platform with a humanoid figure standing in the middle. Below them was a chasm across which stretched a bridge of softly glowing light.

"That bridge is made of anima," Iav was fascinated," and yet, it's clearly visible . . ." He moved forward and tested his foot on the edge," it seems solid enough." In fact, it did not budge at all, and if they had bothered to measure, was actually significantly more stable than the surrounding metal.

Vrach cautiously behind, still unsure of their surroundings. It was only a 50 yard walk before they arrived at the center. It was a small platform, roughly 6 feet in diameter. At the center stood a stunning figure. It was obvious that it was once mammalian and female, but most of its distinguishing traits had been replaced by mechanical augmentations. Its entire body was sheathed in a black material that was skintight (or perhaps that was its skin ) with mechanical pieces located at the joints and along its shoulders and lower legs. Floating behind it were what appeared to be metal blades, and on its face was a visor with a single glowing red light, like an eye. As they approached, it turned to face the group, and they stared at each other in silence.


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