Jade Imperium - First Contact

Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-05-11 18:18:06
One of the jellyfish-aliens coils its thin tentacles around Hugh's head once more. The pain isn't as bad this time, but it's still uncomfortable. Hugh could use some aspirin. Dietrich perks up, hands on the pintle-mounted grenade launcher.

<We speak again, Captain Hugh Verrill. My other two Truthseekers would be pleased to assist your people in communicating. I extend the Jade Imperium's desire to speak with your leaders and offer our assistance in utilizing this Gateway. My master, Abbot Hethna Varos, Sagacious Keeper of Ancient Ways, has bade me ask you questions first.>
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-05-11 18:28:38
(OOC: Whoever wants to speak to/with the jellyfish, feel free to answer these - or not)

How many worlds are in your empire?

Do your leaders speak for your planet, or a single tribe?

Does your planet lack an orbital Gate? Do you know what happened to it?

How did your people populate your world if you've only now discovered the Gateway?
Dieter 2007-05-11 18:44:28
Max is very mistrustful of this initial exchange of information.

Should we also give these people the keys to our planet?! Wait, can they also read minds without the tentacle link? Oh my god, I've been thinking this in my head the whole time! Stop, brain. Stop!

The scientist continues studying their technology from afar while the other subject themselves to the...probing.

Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-05-11 19:08:44
(OOC: Max rolls Think->Science plus Quick Learner, totals an 8 vs. difficulties of 9 and 4)

Max likes Elvis, not weird Japanese tentacle cartoons, and so refrains from getting face-to-pseudopod with the "Truthseekers". He chooses simply to observe the goings-on.

It's not that the armored Others aren't speaking - he notices some neck movement that suggest they're communicating, but probably a) on a frequency humans can't hear or b) they simply have radios or the equivalent.

He notices that the spheres do not seem to be autonomous. They're more and more like UAVs the more he observes them, and he also notices that even they keep below the treeline now that they're in the clearing. He puts his money on the Widget-Other as their operator.

Compared to the 60-70 pounds of equipment that the Delta team carries, these Others travel light. They have some sort of backpack or protuberance on their backplates, but it's much more streamlined than an Earth backpack. If it's not used for storage, it's likely environmental controls. It could be a weak spot, like when James Bond cuts the SCUBA hoses on evil frogmen. Furthermore, if they're breathing something else out of those backpacks, their black pebbled "skin" might simply be some sort of spacesuit.

As for weaponry, their longarms don't seem to have the massive ammunition requirements of the Delta weapons. Max can't piece together what they'd use to reload them with, and he hasn't seem them in action.

It strikes him odd that for such a seemingly advanced society, these guys don't use camouflage. His best guess is that all the shiny dazzle's supposed to impress the "primitives". And why do they have swords? Max supposes if you're not carrying 20 pounds of bullets, you can afford to lug around a pretentious pigsticker, but every single one of the Others has one somewhere on their bodies.
fanchergw 2007-05-11 20:34:17
Seeing that no one else is stepping forward, Semo shrugs and steps up. He adjusts the sling on his Mk 48 so that it hangs along his back. "I'll take a squishy hat, captain."

At the touch of the thing's tentacles, a shudder runs down Semo's spine. Then comes the pain, and Semo is forced to grit his teeth. Then the questions come and Semo does his best to answer them.

<"Empire? No empire, just one planet.">

<"They speak for our country, which is a section of the planet, rather than a tribe. Other countries have their own leaders.">

<"Orbital Gate? What's that?">

<"I'm confused. We've always been on our world. The scientists say we evolved there, and the priests say God made us. We've never been on any other planet.">
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-05-11 21:13:17
Semo's squishy new friend translates back to the bipedal Others, generating quite a stir amongst them. Samal Akor quiets down the bipeds and replies (and is subsequently translated):

<The orbital Gates allow our Imperium to travel from world to world. They are gifts from the Masters... the Masters are perhaps like your Gods, except ours never told us from whence we came. I am familiar, in theory, with your countries. The many worlds of the Imperium swear fealty to the Jade Emperor, but each planet is governed by an Imperial Steward and the Bureaucracy. The Voice of the Many speaks for all subjects at the Court of Heavenly Purity.>

The "Truthseeker" spits a quick metallic order at Akor, who pauses.

<I apologize. That was much to express in a short time.>

"Cras aliquet justo eget felis. Proin vestibulum pede fringilla massa. Fusce id ipsum et mauris aliquet molestie." Akor speaks again.

<The Samal asks if you can activate this Gate, so we may speak with your leaders now? The shuttlecraft you see contains several items of trade. You may tell your... country... that we offer these gifts in exchange for your fealty.>
Gatac 2007-05-11 21:32:17
Hugh raises his mental voice.

<Tell the Samal that we will relay his generous terms to our leaders, but advise him that it will take time to prepare an adequate response. These are only our first steps into a larger world - until yesterday, we were not even certain that there was other intelligent life in the universe. I humbly ask the Samal for a way to contact him, so that we may enter into proper negotiations at a later time.>
fanchergw 2007-05-11 22:18:56
Akor's rant draws an, "Uhm... okay," from Semo as he's not really sure what the alien is talking about there at the end.

There is an exchange and then Samal offers his gifts. However, the word fealty catches Semo's attention and he doesn't like the sound of that one bit.

Perhaps it is fortunate that the captain comes up with a reply that is more diplomatic than what Semo would probably formulate...
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-05-12 15:08:03
"Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Quisque arcu velit, interdum eget, tincidunt sit amet, ullamcorper volutpat, arcu."

<We will remain here for several days. If you cannot respond within that time, you should activate this.> Akor speaks something towards the ship, and another Other climbs out of the hatch carrying a large Widget not unlike what the Whiirr had, except this one is a gold cylinder, about the size of a 2-liter soda bottle, with the blue screen taking up one end of the device. Akor motions, and it hands the device to Max. It's fairly substantial, weighing perhaps 15 pounds.

"Vestibulum... posuere fringilla metus. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus."

<It transmits directly to Abbot Hethna Varos, Sagacious Keeper of Ancient Ways. It is the Abbot's duty to oversee all matters involving the Gateways as well as the things - and peoples - we find through them.>

"Integer gravida orci et dolor accumsan imperdiet?"

<If there is nothing else, we shall retire to our craft. This environment does not suit the Truthseekers.>
Gatac 2007-05-12 15:18:22
<We have no further questions. We bid you farewell.>

(assuming the Others leave without incident...)

Hugh lets out a deep breath, then turns to Taylor.

"We're dismantling the camp. Prepare everyone for evacuation through the gate."

Swear fealty? I'm pretty sure we don't want to hook up with those guys, and I don't want to be here when we say no...
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-05-12 15:39:01
With Hugh's goodbye, the Truthseekers uncoil from Hugh and Semo, their ventricles propelling them back into the Others' ship. Samal Akor and the others climb aboard shortly after.

"All right, you heard the man. Break camp, load up the Humvees. Dietrich, you keep your ass right where you are." Dietrich smirks and pats the grenade launcher.

"Man, that desert's lookin' pretty nice right about now," Greene remarks.

"Mess hall's looking pretty nice right about now," Mellish says.

Dr. Cavanaugh packs up her samples. The Toucan Sam whoops inside its carrier. A few of the insect-alikes buzz angrily. Tupolev's samples are less noisy, what with being ancient pieces of fuselage.

"Doc! Top!" Taylor calls Max and Hugh and walks over towards them, still lugging around his AT-4. "There anything I should know? Anything specific prompting our evac?"
Gatac 2007-05-12 17:16:50
"Can't say that there's any one incident in particular, Taylor, but those Jade Imperium guys creep me out and I'd rather not be in the line of fire when they come back on a bad day. So, we pack in, move out. S'far as I could tell from their explanation, they depend on the gates for travel, and the fact that we don't have one in orbit means no great fleet action knocking on our door. This little beauty" - he points to the Gateway - "is the only door in. We're the only guys who have the key. Ergo, we're home free once we're through and it's closed. The strategic decision on whether we come back and make a permanent camp here...or how we deal with the Imperium and the Whirr...that's way above my pay grade. All I care about is that we've got a damn solid Mission Successful here and I'm not going to spoil it by having casualties."

He thinks for a moment.

"Well, that and the animal noises. Those kinda set me on edge, you know?"
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-05-12 17:20:44
"Understood." Taylor grunts, then turns to Max. "Doc, you need anything from us to get that big donut up and running?"
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-05-12 17:42:27
"Just one of those tentpoles," Max replies.

It takes about 30 minutes to get the gear stowed aboard the Humvees. It's a tight fit, with only enough room for the drivers, but the work isn't bad. The heat and humidity seem diminished by the knowledge that you'll soon be back on good old Earth.

Kilgore confirms that the Gateway is charged, ruffles through his notes on his Toughbook, then starts keying the various glyphs according to the pattern he, along with all of you, memorized back in your pre-mission prep. The lower ones glow slightly as he touches them. He reaches the higher glyphs with a combination of tentpole and clambering over the generator trucks.

The final glyph is near the bottom of the ring. As Max passes his hand over it, all the glyphs glow, then-

Nothing. The charge-o-meter still reads green.

"What the fuck?" Greene's comment is loud in the silent clearing. Max runs through the sequence again, this time with Kitty and Andy to get the symbols engaged faster.

Gatac 2007-05-12 17:48:37
Somewhere on that clearing, Hugh's left hand meets his forehead.

Something had to go wrong. Something had to go wrong.

"Defensive positions, everyone!"

He jogs over to Max and huddles down, sweeping the jungle around them with his rifle.

"Doc, in your expert opinion: what the fuck is wrong?"
e of pi 2007-05-12 20:01:10
Luis speaks up, "Hey ,Captain, on the way back, didn't you say they mentioned something about this Gate not showing up on their detectors or whatever? Maybe it's only working from the Earth end; after all, isn't that what HQ wanted us to come here and test?"

OOC: Just imagining that Hugh might have mentioned it. I seem to recall them being flustered by us using this one.
CrazyIvan 2007-05-13 03:53:41
"Oh for fucks sake..." Angel picks a spot in the large shadow of the downed enemy craft to take position until the science team can get the gate working, keeping his eye on the treeline, and the Claymore detonator nearby.
fanchergw 2007-05-13 05:46:15
They work hard for the next half hour, but it's worth it - they're going home! Everything is loaded, and Semo takes his place on one of the humvees in anticipation of the trip back. Remembering his previous experience, he downs a double-dose of dramamine.

The eggheads go to work on the gate and they all wait in anticipation of it opening. The final glyph is touched and... nothing. Nothing?! Damn!

A second try yeilds the same result, and the captain calls for defensive positions. Semo relinquishes his seat on the humvee with an unhappy grumble and goes to find a shaded position on the perimeter.

Hope the nerd squad figures this out...
Gatac 2007-05-13 16:21:35
After a short argument with the scientists, it looks like nobody bothered to find out that the dial code for Whirr does not, also, encode Earth's location. Hugh rolls his eyes and addresses the assembled crowd.

"Lady and Gentlemen," he begins, "I have some bad news. It looks like we're not going home."

He waits for the boos and "Aw man!"s to die down, then continues.

"Yes, I know, that sucks. You can be damn sure that there's nobody in attendance who's taking it worse than me. However, we have to make the best of the situation. For now, we stay on Condition Red. We're not putting the camp back together just now - I'll phone in for heavy-duty materials when Earth dials in again, and then we make a semi-permanent base here. I know it'll be hell, I'll be sweating with you. We'll need every pair of hands we can spare."

He pauses for a slight grin.

"That said, I'm authorizing increased material transfer from Earth anyway, and we have a damn good reason for slightly more...unusual requests. We're like Apollo 13 here, and you can be damn sure that Lowell woulda gotten all the free phone sex he wanted if he'd asked for it. And I intend to fleece command for every piece of comfort food and consumer electronics they can fit through the fucking Gateway. If you've got a special request, come to me when you're off-duty - I'll put together a list. While we're stuck here, we might as well live in style."
Dieter 2007-05-14 16:34:05
"What?! That should've...Why?" Max continues his frustrative diatribe surrounding the Gate's stubborness to open, tapping incessantly at his Toughbook trying to find the answer.

"Captain. In addition to the comfort items, I'd also like to request a full science team...preferably a cryptographer with specific knowledge in alien technology...oh wait, I'm already here."