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Spacehound Director

SPACEHOUNDS Chapter 1

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The former Marine edged over to the hole and shone her light down the new shaft. No handholds, no steps, as out-of-scale as they should be if the control panel indicated anything about whoever built this thing. Damn. Much as she was eager to act on Ayato's suggestion, free-falling into who-knows what was *not* good fire team behavior.

 

"Not arguing that  the glow is the way to go, but I'd feel more comfortable if some of us stayed up here to back up anyone who wants to poke the ancient alien machinery, possibly reel them back in," she commented into the coms after stepping back from the edge and reaching back to pulled out the first loop of line from her dispenser to make her point, "I'll want pictures though."

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The others could hear a slight raggedness to Yseult's breathing over the comms, and more than once Karen or Ayato had to use a hand to steady her, the slim French-Canadian not use to moving in so meagre of gravity. Eager curiosity warred with cautious trepidation within her, her dark eyes roving all over the place as the moved through the edifice, seeking clues to the function of the place and how it might work, while also keeping a watch out for any non-human resident who might be hostile towards their presence.

 

Yseult wasn't an anthropologist, but structures and devices were made with human sensibilities and capabilities in mind. Even if it wasn't the most efficient means, comfort or familiarity usually took precedence. This place was... very odd to her, and it wasn't just the apparent scale or lack of proper gravity. The halls that were taller than they were wide gave the place a very different feeling. And while textured 'floor' and 'ceiling' made perfectly reasonable sense for a society that could manipulate gravity, it was something humans just didn't do.

 

As Karen started unspooling line, Yseult edged towards the shaft perforating the floor, tilting her helmet down to shine a light, considering the washed out green glow. No power readings, but that light, it was something. Wanting to know pulled ahead of staying out of any possible danger. Given enough data points to analyze, she might be able to hypothesis what this place was or did, or what had happened here.

 

"Me, I am willing to do this thing," Yseult said, "To be seeing what there is being here, and figuring out a way it is getting us home." Yseult stepped up to Karen and turned, moving her arm to make it easier for the former marine to secure the line. A gloved hand brushed her taser unconsciously as Yseult licked dry lips as she wondered what she might find down there. "Alors, donc."

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"Wait."   Ayato put up a hand.  "Of the 4 of us, I'm the only one who's somewhat redundant here.  Let me go first.  Arjun can take over if something happens, but each of you have expertise that's vital to running the Polaris."  

He knew Karen was going to protest, so he shook his head.  "Call it Captain's Perogative."   I'll take the lead, with Yesult behind, and then Rachel.  Karen, bring up the rear, you're the only one of us who can best serve as our anchor should we have to come back out in a hurry."

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Yseult sighed but relented handing the line to the captain who, after having it attached to his suit, gave his instruction. “Ill go down first once I reach bottom and have a look see, Yseult will follow and then Rachel. Chief I know it bugs the hell out of you but your gonna have to stay up here in case we need to be extracted.”

The chief gave the boss a look which said it all but in the end she nodded and said “Yes sir”

 

Without further ceremony Ayato stepped into the shaft. Rappelling wasn't needed as the fall was gentle and also unusually steady. His descent speed remained constant at all time until he came to the opening at the bottom when there was a momentary pause in his fall as if he had passed trough some sort of invisible membrane and then his descent became more rapid as he cleared the end of the shaft and dropped another eighteen feet to land softly on another floor.

 

Ayato checked himself and flashed his light but the corridor he was in now was much like the one above except wider. The green glow was coming from the walls which unlike above were lined with doors and panels, at least that is what he thought they were. Suddenly the floor upon which he was standing flashed brightly and he looked down and saw that he was standing on a circular platform about an inch higher than the rest of the floor it was the same diameter as the shaft above. As he looked it began to strobe, slowly at first then quicker, Ayato quickly moved off the platform and the strobeing stopped. Curious he stepped back on and after about twenty seconds it began strobeing again. He stepped back off and it stopped.

 

Up above the crew were quiet even declining to talk among themselves but all three were at the edge peering down the shaft and they could see the strobeing light.

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"Did something just change down there?" Rachel asked. She reached out to touch Yseult's shoulder, to stop her from following immediately, then at a more conversational volume she said, "Captain, everything okay? We thought we saw some kind of flicker in the light."

 

 

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Ayato frowned, and then called up the tube.  "It seems safe, All of you,  come on down, one at a time.  Leave the lifeline secured up there.  I'd like another opinion about what is happening down here."  He said after thinking about the pattern in the strobing, and the timing.  "It's better to show you than describe it I think."

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After lowering Yseult and Rachel the chief secured the line as best she could and followed.

 

As each crew member landed on the floor below the shaft the same strobeing effect started and abruptly ended as the human stepped of the platform. 

As Karen stepped off and the strobe stopped this last time Ayato looked at his scientists and engineers, "Any ideas as to what that is?"

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Rachel gave the new chamber a good long look, then said, "It is...a lot of mysterious alien tech that no one on Earth has any knowledge or experience with."

 

She shook her head and got a little more serious then. "But it's also a lot of activity that didn't show up at ALL from the outside. Normally I'd say all this would generate waste heat, electromagnetic field activity...I looked for all of that, and didn't see anything. Which could mean that this whole section is very heavily shielded, which..."

 

There was a moment Rachel fell silent, then she clucked her tongue against the roof of her mouth. "...which means we should be verrrrry careful about what we do here. Heavy shielding doesn't usually mean 'everything in here is harmless' you know?"

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"If it's anything like the door, willing to bet we could see how they work by cracking one of them open. Bet we'll find a giant socket wrench to fit the door somewhere down here..," Karen mused aloud, scanning the chamber, clucking her tongue, "Buuuut… She's right. Don't want to accidentally turn off the 'contain black hole' machine. At least before we're ready to try and repeat Yseult's trick."

 

The armored marine shrugged, "Pick a door, I guess."

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Posted (edited)

"Shielding, and perhaps, there is being a mechanism that is redirecting or repurposing the emanations, if they are operating on principles we are familiar with," Yseult mused, as she looked about the chamber, her light flicking here and there.

 

She crouched down, one knee on the floor, as she looked more closely at the platform. It seemed of a piece with the floor, raise about two centimetres above the floor, rather than a separate surface that could rise or lower independently. A gloved hand trailed across the floor, tracing the curve of the platform. The floor here was not textured as it had been above, but metallic and smooth, like the walls hand been. But it did not come across as slick. Some manner of microscopic texturing or cilia filaments that provide a means of passive tactile gripping?

 

"A moment, s'il vous plait?" Yseult said to Karren and the others as she straightened up. "Going further to seek more mysteries, I am not being sure it is a good thing, when there is a mystery right here. The platform, it may flash like so, to acknowledge a presence before activating. Thus..."

 

With the urge to discover, to know, thrumming through her, breaking the bindings of cold caution, Yseult stepped onto the platform, and preceded to let it flash through its sequence.

Edited by Asarasa

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The flashing began a few seconds after Yseult stepped on to the platform. the flashing continued at a steady interval neither slowing nor gaining in speed for approximately 12 seconds at which time the platform ceased flashing but remained lit and Yseult began to rise into the shaft at a rate equal of their free descent until she arrived at the top of the shaft and floated to the edge where she could step off onto the floor above.

 

As soon as she stepped out of the shaft the floor below ceased to glow.

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Yeseult smiled in her helmet and looked back down the shaft. "I'm alright it is some sort of lift mechanism i am not sur...," her voice stopped in mid word as the corridor began to glow, soft green light coming from the very walls. "The walls have begun to give off light."

Down below the walls there also lit up with the same soft green glow. "Same here. Can you get back down Yseult?"

 

"Coming down now Captain."

Yseult hauled the safety line back up and once secure she stepped off in to the shaft and gently floated down to the rest of the crew.

 

With the way in and out discover the next step was to continue the exploration.

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Ayato smiled  "Well at least we can get in and out."  He looked around at the circular doors, and nodded.  "That one."  He chose the one to the left of where they were.  "with nothing else to go on, we'll work left to right."  he made his way towards it, and surprisingly it opened, dividing into fourths  to admit them as he approached.  Within it was a room of unfathomable equipment and consoles,  much of it looked to be crystalline in nature.  "Well this is about what i expected."   The others looked at him "You didn't expect things we'd know exactly how to use right off the bat, did you?"

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"I could hope. The access pad outside looked normal enough," Karen shrugged as she strode past her Captain and entered the chamber, falling back on mental scan-and-clear procedures. She expected 99% less Yemeni Quat addicts jumping out at her with AKs, but after Ysuelt literally floated away from them, her weirdness bar had set itself that much higher. Tech like that working after so much time? If they didn't have some kind of functioning security measures, she'd eat her helmet here and now. These were people who built to last. Last meant expensive.

 

"Whoever these people were, they didn't use government contractors," she joked, cutting her own tension with a joke and a thin smile the others couldn't see behind her helmet, "Doesn't look cheap to me. So. Next door, or do you want to poke things in here first?"  

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On 3/30/2020 at 8:28 PM, Ayato Nishima said:

"You didn't expect things we'd know exactly how to use right off the bat, did you?"

 

"I am not thinking such things," Yseult said, missing Ayato's wry tone, as she looked around, making sure to steady herself and focus, to capture a good image on the camera on her helmet for later study.

 

She had peeked into the recess the door had withdrawn into, but couldn't get a hint or sight of the mechanism. Magnetic, possibly? The crystalline structure of the consoles and not immediately decipherable paraphernalia was very intriguing and Yseult stepped closer to what she thought of as a console or workstation. "It is looking to me like solid state manufacturing. Lesser - none? - moving parts, this is equalling less of the wear and tear, no? Considering the crystalline lattice and the environment, this is being very durable yet functional, I am thinking."

 

Behind her faceplate, Yseult pursed her lips in a frown of concentration, then glanced over her shoulder the way they had come towards the 'elevator', then back again. Nothing untoward had happened then. Slowly, she began reaching out a hand towards the console, looking for something differentiated on its smooth surface. "Perhaps, it is being sensitive to body heat or inherent bio-electric currents?"

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As Yseults hand moved close there was no reaction then at three centimeters all of the crystals lit up, not only on her panel but on all of the panels and consoles in the room. Her natural reaction was to pull back and they expected the crystals to go out, but they didn’t.

 

Almost immediately their suits began to show a change in the outside pressure as the timeless vacuum was replaced by an atmosphere. And their auditory sensors started picking up a pervasive low level hum carried by the new atmosphere.

 

The Chief ran an analysis and whistled. “Paint this as eerie, this atmo is not only breathable, it’s perfect for us,” she said.

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Ayato chuckled.  "Quick, friendly customer service.  I wonder what the price is."   he was looking around, watching things come online it seemed.  "An Exolinguist might be nice, right about now."  Of course such things didn't exist.  Before now mankind had never seen something definitively Alien, and as such they had no grasp of it.  His own love of Classical Science Fiction made it so the ideas of what they might find weren't so crazy, but still seeing alien tech in the flesh was something else.

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"It might be chemically perfect," Rachel said, "That doesn't mean it's safe."

 

Of course, the idea that it would be chemically perfect alone was enough to set her mind whirling. Had they been scanned? Analyzed? What kind of system could break down alien organisms thoroughly enough to know what they breathed in so short a time? And then customize its environmental systems to suit?

 

"It'd be a hell of a coincidence to say whatever built this breathed the same gas mixture we do," she said aloud as she went over to the glowing crystals to try to see if there was any sense that could be made. It felt like a control room to her, alien architecture and technology be damned. A control center that had reacted to movement. Like a screen saver turning off when you click a mouse button.

 

"But maybe they breathed something similar...something close enough that it could be adapted easily. Instead of twenty percent oxygen, it's fifteen...or something. You know? So the system adjusts."

 

Rachel then looked up from the crystals at the other. "Or...maybe this place is designed specifically to accommodate different kinds of biologies. It could have been intended as a kind of...meeting ground, outside the galaxy so it's not part of territorial disputes. In that case it would definitely need a way to assess biochemistry quickly, and a flexible life support system that could generate any kind of gas mix on demand."

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Yseult listened as she swept her eyes over the strange panel. Each crystal was long, about a hundred fifty millimeters in length, about fifty across, hexagonal in shape, the end facing her angled sharply. They were each a different color or shade of color and each glowed as if a light was shining through them from where they sat in the console. They looked movable.

One crystal in particular drew her attention. she didn't know why maybe it was the color but before she even realized it she had moved he gloved hand to that crystal...

 

7 hours ago, Rachel Eisley said:

Rachel then looked up from the crystals at the other. "Or...maybe this place is designed specifically to accommodate different kinds of biologists. It could have been intended as a kind of...meeting ground, outside the galaxy so it's not part of territorial disputes. In that case it would definitely need a way to assess biochemistry quickly, and a flexible life support system that could generate any kind of gas mix on demand."

 

 "Or maybe they were already ready for us."

Everyone turned to Ysuelt and what she was looking at now.

 

In front of her console  was an elaborate hologram image floating in the air. The image was of the Polaris or more specifically of her schematics and construction blue prints. The ship, her components, everything.

"They scanned our database..."

"No," the chief even more alert now, "ships databases carry diagnostic schematics not construction documents. Not like these. These are governmental archive documents. These are ship building plans."

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Even Yseult was feeling disconcerted despite her curiosity. "Perhaps, there is being passive scanners were are not detecting analyzing us since we are being aboard the structure, that is enabling the swift adaptation of the atmosphere," Yseult said, agreeing with Rachel's reasoning for what the place could be and it's capabilities. She gestured sharply at the holographic image, licking suddenly dry lips. "But this?! We are not being in communication range of Earth any longer, there is no signal for the place to trace back and procure such files."

 

Yseult's dark eyes went from the impossible documents being displayed to the console with the crystals she suspected were movable, manipulable, trying to memorize their current positions even though she knew her helmet-cam was recording all that she saw. If they began testing this, she wanted to be able to restart from zero, in case of... detrimental developments.

 

"I am thinking, the singularity that is bringing us here, it has done so by design, rather than accident. If the singularity was multi-purpose, it may have been able to intercept signals and memory storage devices on Earth and in the Solar System, studying us, before determining we meet the criteria to be brought here. It is possible it is an entirely automated program."

 

Yseult looked around the room and then up, towards the ceiling and where they had come from. The place didn't have the disrepair of neglect, but it did have a feeling of long abandonment. "Perhaps, there is not being any other... species? Culture? That is meeting such hypothetical criteria."

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A thought that had been brewing in her head while all these coincidences piled up into something very very odd indeed came to fruition. And with fruition came the realization she needed to do something about it before her Captain got it in his head to exercise his prerogative again. She was too young and charming to start collecting grey hairs like that.

 

"Well," she voiced aloud, "Long as the godlike aliens invited us by name it would be rude for us to not take our shoes off at the door."

 

With a smooth, confident motion, she reached up and broke the seal on her opaque helmet. There was a faint hiss as the pressures equalized, and she tugged off the helm. Tucking it under one arm, Karen sported her typical messy helmet-hair disarray and a pleased smile. No instant death so far. Smelled strangely fresh like a spring morning near a mountain stream, even. "Guess I'm going into quarantine when we get back to the ship, but I'm not having you take point twice on me, Captain," she offered with a chuckle ripening into a smirk.

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"You realize you're all Essential to run the ship..."  He said with a sigh, even as he released the seal on his own suit.  He was refreshed to breathe clean air, even if he was abit curious and concerned at how quickly they'd been specifficlly accommodated by this ship.  "Well nothing quite like having a host who tends to their guests' needs."   he looked around, looking for anything that remotely like the shape of the ship, and possibly a status readout.  Seeing the readout on the Polaris, and listening to Rachel and Yesult, he nodded.   "If it's advanced enough, the ship could have performed a scan, It did have seven days as we made our way here.  Plenty of time for a computer to make all manner of calculations."  

He thought about what she'd said.  There was no way the ship was of human origin, at least not anything that exist in their time.   

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Yseult shook her head in adamant denial. "Non! You are mistaking what I am trying to convey, Ayato." She pointed animatedly at the images. "Perhaps, perhaps, the system, it could be making the calculations and reverse engineering the specifications and capabilities of the Polaris. I can understand if the station, it was capable of determining a functional schematic of the Polaris. But these? These are being blueprints to build Polaris and similar classes of spacecraft. Such is not kept on board of Polaris, not even in encrypted in the data base. Trade secrets, among other reasons."

 

Yseult paced around, flicking gloved fingers at other images. "There are being construction plans for every individual component of the ship." Irritated, the svelte scientist followed Karen and Ayato, and removed her own helmet, hoping to convey just how shocking and unusual the circumstances were if they could see her face clearly. "There is even being the full blueprints for the Gravimetric Transducer am I inventing."

 

Yseult sounded affronted at that.

"This place, it must be having another source of information on us, on humans, our technology, and societies, beyond what it can be scavenging from the Polaris." She tapped her lips with a finger, considering. "Perhaps, if there are being scanners that are being capable of analyzing electrical impulses and electrochemical bonds in the - Non! Even then, even being familiar with most components of the ship, my memory, it is not being so good as to give the station this! It be able to retrieve this from some other means."

 

Yseult glared at the console, trying to figure out how to see if the station could show them some other class of ship she was familiar with, some means of testing a theory.

 

"First generation Babylon-class habitat," Yseult said with particular emphasis, in case the system was capably of responding to voice commands. Considering what it had revealed already, she had no doubt it could understand English.

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Nothing happened.

Yseult just stood and stared at the plans for her transducer and she noted it was one of the very first iterations and was missing....

 

Her mind just stopped.

 

It was missing the modifications she had made. Modifications she had made after exchanging a few words  with a fellow engineer working in the lab. She hadn't thought of that, not once since it had happened. But now the memory was as clear as day.

 

She had been working on the problem late and the fellow had paused one the way out of the lab and spoke with her probably the only time the two of them had ever spoken. 

"Staying late Dr?. He had asked in passing then he stopped and looked at what she was doing. "Hmm looks like a flow resistance problem. Well good night don't stay up too late." And with a smile he had gone.

Yesult had stared at he problem and her non functioning transducer with mounting frustration. It was late so she had called it a night and gone home. While she slept her mind had worked over time and she had dreamer and suddenly she awoke it had come to her plain as anything the solution. she had jumped from bed waking her husband and ran to her computer and by dawn had solved the problem.

 

"Mon Dieu!" Yseult gasped, it had been a flow resistance problem in the end, but there was no way that engineer could have seen that from what she had been working on not then. How had he known. She racked her brain , she couldn't even remember his name.

 

 

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"So. Weird idea," Rachel said. "Probably stupid, but I'm going to put it on the table for everyone to laugh at."

 

"...what if this isn't alien?"

 

She paused to let that sink in, then said, "Remember I was talking about how that singularity was warping time? While we were getting dragged along by it, what seemed like minutes or hours to us could have been centuries, or millennia to the rest of the galaxy. This thing could...maybe...have been built by human beings. Or whatever human beings evolved into."

 

"That doesn't explain why it's HERE, or why it just happens to have specific data about our ship, but...it could explain the atmosphere at least. And posthumans could potentially have detected us moving through the galaxy, and used some high advanced means of FTL travel to get this thing ahead of us..."

 

The navigator petered out. "Of course, that begs the question of why no one's here, and so on and so forth, yep. Dumb idea. Nevermind."

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