Jade Imperium - One Small Step

Gatac 2007-05-06 16:12:38
"Greetings. It is an honor to be here. Can we talk in the shade?"
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-05-06 18:32:09
Yes. Are you eat? Drink? Or want trade now? Chief motions you inside the "longhouse". Like many Earth island huts, this one has ample ventilation underneath the sloped roof. A reed mat is the only furniture, but several glyphs hang on walls, painted on round polished stones. They are decidedly unlike the Gate symbols.

The white-haired alien signs, Did this one (pointing to One-eye) tell them swim in river? Chief laughs (?), a repeated snurf sound. Look at them. Whiirr-planet much dry for them. They make own water. You realize it's talking about your rather sweat-soaked appearance.
Gatac 2007-05-06 18:40:48
"We will drink first."

"Canteens, everyone!" Hugh says, then opens his own and takes a few generous gulps of water. With everyone hydrated, he turns his attention to the Chief.

"It is very hot here. We make this water to stay cool."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-05-06 19:41:43
Seemingly satisfied, the Chief and his group lead you into the longhouse where the aliens drink sweet-smelling liquid from wide bowls, some tipping back the bowls, some lapping at them as a dog would.

I see you bring strong trade for our stories. We will tell you of the Whiirr...

The other nine aliens begin a soft purring, all in different pitches. All but Whitehair shift their fur to a dark blue-black, then Whitehair begins a more ritualized kind of signing. Max actually finds the formalities easier to follow compared to the "slang" of their everyday communication.

Roc the Mighty, First Chief of Whiirr-people, was spawned from river mud by O. Roc hunted, and fished, and this pleased O so O created for Roc a mate, Ra. They had many children, and soon Roc's tribe hunted and fished all there was. Roc and Ra left their river and built a city, and their children had children, and soon they hunted and fished all there was. They moved once again, building a new city. We do not forget Roc's law!

The "chorus" raises their pitch, and turns a sunrise purple.

Now there are many cities, many Whiirr-people, and there is not enough hunt or fish for all. The Wherr-people fight with Whiirr-people for food, and Whiirr-people must leave. Whiirr-people return to Roc's city and find more hunt and more fish. Land grows, fish spawns, prey breeds. Whiirr-people grow strong and defeat Wherr-people!

A cacophony of yarps grahhs startles you. The aliens' pelts turn red as blood, then return to a gray-yellow.

O is one, but now there are many peoples, many fights. Whiirr-people trust only Whiirr-people, for O is fickle/jealous/uncaring. Then come Others from Sky to the Holy Ring!

Called by Thunder! shouts the chorus, turning a golden yellow... like the Gateflash.

The Others make good trade, and Whiirr-people grow strong again. Other-magic is strong, stronger than O's magic. Whiirr-people make trade with Others and defeat our enemies. But Others leave the Holy Ring, and Thunder calls them less now. Whiirr-people must trade with Others, for we have seen the bones of tribes who did not!

We are strongest there is! Even gods need warriors!

The alien chorus return to a muted shade of brown, matching the reed mat and the walls. Chief takes over for Whitehair now.

The Others make good trade, but other tribes make bettertrade now. Others ask for more, give less. Other tribes will come for Whiirr-people once more, and we will maybe not find a new city this time. O forgets those who forget O. Make your trade.
fanchergw 2007-05-07 07:43:28
Once it's clear that they are invited to the hairy people's camp, Semo sets about packing up for the trip. Like everyone else, he adds some of the trade goods to his usual load. Additionally, he fills an extra Camelbak, figuring that he'll go through a lot of water if the day turns out anything like yesterday.

Soon they move out, and Semo falls into place near the front. His strength may be of use in removing any barriers and it may be worthwhile to have the extra firepower near the front if they run into problems.

It turns out Semo's precaution was warranted, as the day quickly heats up. Soon, the jungle is not much different from marching though a sauna, and Semo is hitting his water supply fairly frequently.

Then enter the camp and find it crude, but functional. In truth, it's more civilized than Semo had expected from these creatures. The encounter the one believed to be the chief, who has several others with similar guard with him. From his greeting, it sounds like there are other tribes here today for the purpose of trade.

There are greetings back and forth, and the captain gives the call for everyone to have a drink, which Semo is only too happy to do. Other than the near-waterfall of sweat off his body, he's pretty relaxed. Perhaps moreso than he should be in an alien village.

They are taken inside some sort of low building, not unlike some seen on Samoa. There the presumed chieftains begin a tale of their history, as best Semo can tell from listening to Max's whispered translation. The accompanying chorus provides fascinating accompanyment to the story. Semo is nearly spellbound by the wonder of this spectacle.

Finally, it ends and they are asked to engage in trade. Semo will remain in the background and let the captain and the doc handle the negotiations.
Gatac 2007-05-07 08:07:46
"Thank you for sharing your story with us. Please accept some of our trade in return."

Hugh gives the order to start spreading out the trade goods. Seeing how he has no idea how much things are worth here, he'll let the Chief pick out what they think is acceptable. After all, the Army buys shiny beads and Camelbaks in bulk.
Dieter 2007-05-07 16:44:37
"I'd like to at least take a look at that glowing tech he's wearing..." whispers Max to Hugh, eyeing one of the leader's adornments.

Max smiles at the trading being done.

"...We could possibly access the OS and download the information it's carrying into our own PDAs then give it back. I say we give them something equally as shiny, because I'm guessing they don't have the capacity to use the device as it was intended."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-05-07 17:12:06
Chief takes a liking to the nylon high-test rope immediately. The Camelbaks don't go over too well, simply because the aliens' mouths aren't designed for sucking out of a tube - even if the water-vests could fit their broad shoulders. Max realizes what they need is a needle and thread to attach longer shoulder straps and a ball in the tube, like a hamster water bottle. He and Stanhill, who proves to have no small amount of technical skill, make the necessary changes to two of the pouches and these work much better, eliciting surprise from the aliens at just how fast they're able to modify the goodies.

The nets are the next thing to be ogled at, but the tent you brought - by far the most cumbersome item - is given a general "meh".

In exchange for their history lesson, Chief chooses the modified Camelbaks and the rope. Max, through Hugh, communicates his wish to get a better look at the blue glowing widget that one of the "council" is wearing.

That not for trade, Chief says. This glows when Others are coming, so that we make ready Chosen for trade. We have other trade for you if you want, but this remains. Do you wish more trade?
e of pi 2007-05-07 17:14:45
Luis, as usual, hangs back from the group a bit. He's enjoying the show, and the hike over took a good bit out of him, since the lighter gravity was basically cancelled out by the addition of the goods that the others are starting to lay out. The Doctor, naturally, locks his attension onto the device that the Chief is wearing, but to Luis, who had a bit of an interest in human history back in college, the chanted legend is more interesting. He's more than a bit rusty from four years of not using the knowledge, but he recalls enough to try and understand some of the context of the legend. He steps over to the Captain and quietly wispers, "Sir, given what they're saying, I think they may need less of what we brought and more of the Squanto treatment. I don't think they have agriculture, and from what it sounds like, they're having overpopulation issues that they could eliminate if they could grow their own food."
Dieter 2007-05-07 17:27:53
Max nods at the Councilperson's explanation.

"Very well, may I then just look at it? I want to compare it to mine.", holding up his PDA with a similar glowing screen on it.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-05-07 19:22:18
That is acceptable, Councilbeast says, removing the alien device from its bandolier. The first thing Max notices is that it's a completely different style of technology compared to the Gateways and the crash site artifacts. The gadget is about the size of an egg-shaped flattened soda can. It has definite seams in it, suggesting that it could perhaps be opened up. The entirely of the object glows a soft blue, with the most light coming from a "screen" of some sort. There are rapid-fire glyphs screaming down the screen in a language Max can't quite match to either the shaggy aliens' symbols or the Gate glyphs, although they're closer to the Gate glyphs if he had to pick. Maybe they're numbers. At any rate, Max can't find a port or plug on the device. If he wants a closer look, it's going to require cracking the shell - and he's pretty sure Councilbeast won't want his things vandalized.

Then you all hear a distant double-thunderclap. ba-BOOM! The sky has maybe a handful of clouds, and they look nothing like the threatening storm clouds from last night. You wrack your brains, because it sounds more familiar than it should. Sonic booms.

The response from the aliens is immediate. With hustle and bustle, the sentients outside the longhouse start gathering up their things and heading into the various small huts. The "council", still in the longhouse with you, take in the event calmly.

Ah, Whiirr-people are blessed this day! Bring the Chosen! Then to you, Chief says, Other shall arrive soon! You should gather some trade for them as well, if you have it!

The gadget Max is inspecting makes a single soft whoo-whoop. Kind of like KITT's eye-flash noise from Knight Rider, you can't help but think. The symbols/glyphs/numbers continue to stream across the screen, which Max now realizes isn't a screen like his PDA... there's no seam there, no difference in material. It's just part of the device that happens to be glowing a stronger blue with various symbols.
Gatac 2007-05-07 19:26:45
"Oooh shit!" is all Hugh can say when he hears the whoomp of the Gateway in the distance.

"Pack up the trade goods and take cover!" he shouts when he's back in charge of his body; he helps with wrapping the stuff up, but keys his radio.

"Verrill to Taylor, report status!"
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-05-07 19:32:51
*Same as it ever was here, sir,* Taylor radios back. *MN checked in 15 minutes ago, they're sending more water next checkpoint, but I think I heard some sonic booms, sir. Wasn't thunder, I can tell you that. We're dug in here and I've put the doctors in Humvee One.*
fanchergw 2007-05-07 19:41:14
The various leaders on both sides go about negotiations and trades. Meanwhile, Semo finds a place to rest his bulk and takes the time to examine and clean his weapon.

Startled, Semo's head jerks up at the sound of what might be a sonic boom. From what he can understand, it sounds like the other aliens may have just arrived. Semo quickly screws the barrel back into the MK 48 then begins gathering up the rest of the gear and supplies.

Hopefully, they'll prove peaceful...
Gatac 2007-05-07 19:44:29
"We've got visitors, Sarge - the Others are here. Put the camp on alert. If you haven't heard from me in five minutes - open the gate and get out."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-05-07 20:42:55
Angel just plain disappears at Hugh's orders as Taylor replies back, *Copy that, sir. Talk to you in fiv- Sir! There's some sort of aircraft, maybe a mile up, dropping fast! It's slowing now, looks to be... sir, if you're still in that village, it should be above your position!*

Max starts snapping pictures of the Widget, focusing the most on the still-streaming symbols. You all hear the aircraft now - it's making a high-pitched whine, like a turbocharger, and it grows steadily louder.

The Chosen are ready! signs One-eye to Chief. The three painted aliens you saw previously are with him. The "Chosen" have fresh white symbols emblazoned across their bodies.

From your positions, you can make out a vaguely manta-shaped aircraft, wide swept wings flaring from a wide flat fuselage. Rudder-like extremities near the "tail" of the craft shift and pivot as the craft drops lower, now only 100 meters off the ground. It looks like the clearing in the village center is meant as a landing site. Sunlight gleams off the ship's chrome skin. There are no markings that you can discern, let alone a recognizable cockpit or canopy. A network or grill of fist-sized holes, like a colander, cover the bottom front of the craft, where its mouth would be if it were a living thing. You can make out seams and panels in the ship's skin now. Although it has two rocket-like engine exhausts in the rear, they look unused. The ship seems to float without rotors or reaction mass.

You stare at the miracle of what must be antigravity as landing feet unfold from panels in the bottom and the alien craft sets down in the clearing. The wheat-grass rustles and bends away from the craft, and you feel a definite difference in the air, a breeze or maybe just a vibration.
Gatac 2007-05-07 20:48:30
"Copy that, Sarge. It's landed right in the village."

With the trade goods secured, Hugh signs for the team to stay in the house. Pressing against the wall, he readies his rifle and steals a look through the entrance.
fanchergw 2007-05-07 22:03:15
Hearing the captain's orders, Semo finds a roof support, large rock, or section of paper-thin wall to hunker down behind and trains his weapon in the direction of the doorway.

* Dear Lord, don't let this turn into a firefight... *
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-05-07 23:33:49
Taylor keys his radio twice, signalling that he got the message and is going silent.

Chief is the last to leave the longhouse, but he gives you an almost understanding nod. These aliens read body language like you read books - it's possible he picked up on your demeanor despite the differences in species.

Semo's behind one of the ribcage-like supports in the longhouse scavenged from the crash site. Tupolev said something about these things being ultra-tough...

Stanhill likewise takes up cover position behind a "rib" on the opposite side of the longhouse. Hugh stays by the door, peeking through as best as he can.

Hugh has a good view of the starboard side and rear of the alien craft, which works out because a hatch dilates on that side. There's a puff of air as the interior of the craft gets buffeted by the hot, humid atmosphere outside. The Chief, Whitehair, and the three Chosen come forward out of the crowd of 15-20 Whiirr-people that's gathered around the craft.

Everyone reflexively grips their weapons a little tighter. That instinctive fear of the unknown coupled with the tactical thinking that this might be a far, far superior force is incredibly sobering.

The first of the Others steps out of the hatch. It's humanoid, much shorter than the Whiirrs, perhaps the height of a shorter human male or average human female. It has black, pebbled skin, almost like a rhino. It wears some kind of terribly ornate hard-plated suit of armor, all chrome and gold. There is a golden avian predator, like the ones that went after Stanhill's UAV, sculpted on the chestplate. Its wings swoop outward to become winged pauldrons, while its tail feathers blend into abdominal plating. It wears a chrome, featureless mask with a slightly flared golden crest sweeping back from where a human's ears would be. Its limbs are jointed like a Whiirr or human. It wears a red sash diagonally across its waist and chest.

The Chosen kneel down as they did when you had your first abortive meeting. The faceless Other nods to them, and they rise once more. It is at point you notice that the Other carries a short, wide-bladed sword attached to its left leg. No scabbard, no straps, no baldric. The sword just looks glued there.

The second thing to emerge from the ship is decidely not humanoid in the slightest. A flattened round sac 3 feet in diameter, roughly the shape of a football, floats out of the hatch. Large ventricles near the bottom of the sac pulsate, moving it through the air. A morass of tentacles 5 feet long, like a jellyfish, trail behind the creature. The front third of the thing is covered in the same chrome metal as the first Other, but this "mask" is pierced and broken up with many grills, small tubes, and vents. A series of three blinking red lights scan the Whiirr-people as it clears the hatch.

The next thing out is a floating metal sphere the size of a small beach ball. A crest, like the fins on the tail of the manta-ship, protrudes from the sphere's crown. A red light, like the jellyfish's mask-lights, provides the only color to the chrome metal. A second floating sphere follows the first. The floating spheres float up 10 meters and move out over the village. With a smirk, you think back to the last thing you saw fly that high and how the avians here do not suffer such things for long.

Finally, five more of the humanoids, ranging in size from maybe five and a half feet to over six feet tall, disembark from the craft, arraying themselves in a sort of honor guard around the jellyfish and the red sash. These bipeds wear similar suits but only one sports a sash - this one purple. They all have swords, some on legs, some on backs, some diagonally across their avian-styled chests. All carry what, unless you are very mistaken, look like ray guns. Longarms. Blaster rifles. Long chrome barrels, handgrips, stocks, widgets in the middle where a firearm's magazine and receiver would be.

The short, sashed humanoid starts speaking without signing. Its voice is metallic and louder than you would expect from someone who's basically no taller than Dr. Tupolev.

"Bah weep granah weep nini bong! Blah blah blah blagity blagha blah!"

Well, it's not Whiirr-speak, but Chief appears to understand it. It bows its head and assumes a posture of subservience.

Thunder has called you, and Whiirr-people answer. We have your tribute, as required.

"Blah blah googly moogly whatsit?"

Other tribes have attacked us often. Please accept this tribute. They are strong and will serve you well.

"Kaopectate perestroika gorbachev."

Chief bows again, this time in gracious acceptance. The Chosen Ones go to glory! A chorus of yarps and grahs, much like the chorus in the song from earlier, echoes throughout the village.

The short, sashed one steps forward, speaking its gibberish in a much softer, threatening voice. "Giggity giggity goo, goo giggity goo bakata."

They are new to Whiirr-people. They bring strong trade and do not ask for Chosen, only stories. But they are scared, ready to battle. I tell you, Red-Other-From-Sky, that they bring trade, not war.

Red Sash looks back at the jellyfish, which vocalizes the Other-language in harsh metallic tones. *Blagha blagh blagha.* Satisfied, Red Sash calls out in its loud voice, "Bah weep granah weep!"