HOUSE OF THE PERPETUAL - Episode One
A well-known but relatively small House dedicated to preservation, keeping the peace, etc. Some see us as the guardian angels of the sky. Others as meddlers imposing our will.
HOUSE OF THE PERPETUAL - Episode One
- House Values
- Others in our Galaxy
- Characters and Values
- 1. What star system shall we visit next? And why?
- 2. Which value causes trouble before we leave?
- 3. What mystery do we find when we arrive?
- 4. Whatever happened to whoever or whatever built this station?
- 5. Who are these sleepers?
- 6. What do the results of Alectrya's self-exam say?
- 7. Are the cryo-tube inhabitants also affected by the Red Bird Dream, and if so are they affected differently from us?
- 8. What is hidden on this ship?
- 9. Why have these people not unthawed?
- 10. Where are these plant clones hidden and what are they up to?
- 11. What is this Seed offshoot's actual goal here?
- 12. What conflicts of value come to the forefront as the crew discuss their plans?
- We preserve
- We will always remain human
- The past never lies
- We always honor our word
Others in our Galaxy
Ally: A powerful, but more passive sister-House, The House of Pages, that collects stories, dramas, theater, etc.
Opponent: The rival House of Seeds with the purpose of 'We nurture new life.'
Mystery: People are dreaming during stasis sleep, which shouldn't be possible. The dreams vary but it seems there's always a red bird in it.
Episode Archivist: Lepus
Table order: Lepus - Sora - Elandra - Kandra - BunnyHugger - Lepus
Characters and Values
* Jachro (CATALOGER)
A fuzzy lizard fellow with an obsession for making neat taxonomies.
- Sora says "Basically, he tries to understand what type of thing we are preserving, and by giving it a sort of category, I figure he can use knowledge of previous, similar situations to know how to continue preserving it."
- Jachro will never accept Chaos
- Jachro always trusts in his bonds with others
* Eikran (GADGETEER)
A snow-white shaggy-furred wolf of a thing with a love for tinkering and devices
- He revels in innovation and believes every single bit of new idea out there is worth preserving.
- Eikran never attacks first
- Eikran will never leave anybody behind
* Era (CYBERNETICIST)
An elven woman with golden eyes and silver lines and circles on her skin with a somewhat cynical attitude on people and civilizations
- Era never trusts civilization
- Era always values works over lives
* Alectrya (DOCTOR)
A doctor of neurology with a strong streak of compassion. Mostly human appearing but with some spots with feathers where her hair would be, particularly on her head which sports iridescent plumage
- Alectrya always protects conscious life
- Alectrya always pays her debts
Each scene revolves a question that advances the next thing we learn about the plot or the characters.
Each scene has a narrator who sets the scene, says which characters are in it and what they're doing and picks the question. Anyone can contribute details to the scene, ask a question and draw from the trove, and call Cut! when they think the question has been answered (or at least thoroughly explored).
At the end of each scene, players take turns reflecting on it briefly in the form of saying what they wonder about or describing what their character is feeling. This may seed questions for further scenes.
Players can also spotlight values during reflection, a way to indicate that they think a particular value has good potential for the eventual crisis.
1. What star system shall we visit next? And why?
Scene: After a long cryo sleep and a brief thaw along with each of your personal, favorite post-fugue beverage, you gather together in the ship's map room, the biggest room in the vessel located at the very top of your hull. It's a cavernous and dark space, a 3D map of surroundng space. You stand suspended in darkness amidst lonely grains of sand sparkling with vast distances between them. Logarithmic in its rendering, you're always in the center, but each step you take zooms in impossible strides, magnifying in on new stars and planets.
( Era silently flags another star on the chart -- a gas giant, red and old and dim. It is a hundred and two light-years distant. "I'd been communicating with an old colleague who studies history these days," she says with quiet lack of affect. Her attention isn't all here; vestiges of a strange dream trouble her. "He'd been trying to locate traces in early records of when and where some developments significant to our modern implementation of cryosleep first appeared. He says he's found scattered references to this system that intrigue and confuse him." ) The planet flagged by Era's colleague is a gas giant orbiting a red dwarf, one that likely has existed since near the creation of the universe.
Chosen because of interest for cryo tech (Eikran) Alectrya privately always favors destinations with the possibility of adding to her knowledge of the life sciences. And she has been getting some odd reports of cryosleep disturbance Jachro is eager to help Era in her task, especially since it may help categorize cryosleep technology better.
2. Which value causes trouble before we leave?
Characters: Era and Alectrya
Scene: Era and Alectrya are in hibernation chamber 2, where their pods wait to be reset for the upcoming journey. As each pod is unique to the occupant and there is a two-person rule when working around the equipment, both must be in the room doing the prep work. As expected, there are contol panels, some valves, chemicals to be checked, fluid lines to be replaced, and fabrics to be prepped. We know we're going to a place potentially with civilization, and there's always that possibility our sensors are wrong, especially with the gas giant. There might be life there. What will these two do if they find an advanced, living civilization that needs help staying afloat? That might be on the tip of their tongues as they work....
Answer: After a polite but slightly awkward conversation between Era and Alectrya (who is still not talking about her dreams). Whether or not people in cryo sleep have experiences... or even count as human people.
- Era has spent most of her jumping only between the House's two Home stations and this trip is unusually far for her.
Lepus asks 'Why might Era's old colleague need help?' and draws: BRILLIANT
[OOC] Lepus says, "I'm going to interpet that trove word as Era's old colleague having a brilliant mind -- but one that is degrading with each jump through Cryosleep."
[OOC] Lepus says, "He's trying to hide it and understand it, and she's one of the only people who knows."
- The House of Seeds has been busy as of late. Reports read after coming out of sleep show they've been agressively seeking out worlds that have even the possibility of life and jumpstarting them. Even worse, they are known to find worlds that are not yet fully mature in their civilization and give them knowledge and help to acquire space travel and beyond - utterly changing what was already there in the process.
Sora feels we'll need to be more assertive about our values (house and personal), otherwise our mission is in jeopardy before it starts. Kandra liked the 'what if we find people long-frozen in cryosleep?' question Sora posted, but didn't get a chance for it to come into actual play. You say, "My reflection is: ''I wonder if Era's colleague has a reason to highlight this world in particular.'' And I'm going to spotlight the value of 'We will always remain human'." BunnyHugger says, "My reflection is, 'I wonder if our strange cryosleep dreams have the same cause as the decline of Era's colleague.'"
- Lepus: The past never lies (because we're going to a very old place)
- Lepus: We will always remain human (because of what the Trove draw said about Era's colleague's condition)
3. What mystery do we find when we arrive?
Scene: The hundred and some years in the sleep of travel come and go in a moment, and the cold light of the cryo bay blinks to life as the sleep leaves you again. The ship's computers have done as they are programmed to do, and on waking, we again return to the map room. We are now greeted by a map of the solar system: there is the old, unblinking star, long in the tooth and slowly dying. There is the great marbled sphere of a gas giant in its strange, alluring colors, and the moons dancing around it like pearls. Finally, there are sensor echos: things that might be or could be metallic, moonlets or beacons or asteroids all alike. So, then, we must ask ourselves: What mystery do we find when we arrive?
Answer: The nearest is a tangled, cold forest of a world with low rivers and lakes instead of oceans. It's a nice, quiet place - and there's an old, metallic thing hung in low, stable orbit: It's large (enough for one or two cities) and doesn't match anything in our archives. Era observes that someone went to a good deal of trouble to keep something of that size orbiting that stably for as long as it has.
- Sora epics, "The gas giant has storms larger than some continents raging over it, revealing it to be a turbulant place supposedly hostile to life such as ours."
BunnyHugger says, "Alectrya is troubled. She is almost certain she had a dream during her cold sleep, which should not happen."
After drawing BIORIGGING from the Trove, BunnyHugger interprets her draw as Alectrya deciding not to mention the dreams till she can run a full study on herself.
Sora says, "Jachro is concerned the ship may actually not be so inactive after all, and that we may be underprepared in dealing with it or its occupants." You say, "My reflection is: I wonder whether that's a natural forest." BunnyHugger says, "I wonder if the ship we've found will contain the technology we're interested in." Kandra says, "My reflection is: I keep thinking about the planet and wondering what it would be like if you could fly within its turbulent atmosphere." Elandra mrrs, "Eikran and his coffee wonder what marvel we find: are the storms, the forest, and the ship all connected?"
4. Whatever happened to whoever or whatever built this station?
(Inspired by drawing SURVIVAL from the Trove) Narrator: Kandra
Characters: Jachro and Eikran on a shuttle closing on the large ship.
Scene: We drift towards the moon we've scanned while the AI tries to make sense of the gas giant and readings from further off in the system. There's still no sign of any civilization or higher life,--at least, not any that notices our presence and deigns to make itself known. Close up, we can see the station's shape--asymmetrical and abstruse, built seemingly from a jumble of uneven flat blue-silver faces and projections, all either 3- or 8-gons. The sensors pick up a tangled internal structure full of acute angles.
Answer: The entire crew of this ship - over a million inhabitants - are encased in ancient cryosleep, the controls for their pods seemingly disabled.
(Based on: Kandra asks 'What's the door leading out of the airlock, and what do you find immediately beyond?' and draws: SUICIDES)
- Beyond this docking bay you'll find a long passage, going slightly up and to the right. The door's been left open. All the doors have been left open. There are bay doors that would have blocked your coming here so easily--but they've been left open. There's no atmosphere anymore. Eventually after several switchbacks at strange angles, including one uncomfortably steep and long one, you come to an eight-walled nexus of sorts with eight doors, and taking a path at random, after a while longer of walking in the dark (Era cuts in remotely to say she's found some interference patterns to cancel and her view is clearer, and it looks like there's power in the station systems but only a bare whisper of it) you emerge in a long hall lit dull, dim blue from below. For a moment it's like stepping into a nightmare vision of the cryosleep bay on the ship: The hall is lined with pods down each side, three deep, stretching away into the distance. The surface of each pod is transparent but rimed with frost so thick that you can only see the vaguest dim suggestion of a body inside. There are controls, at about waist level, in the form of displays with eight pushbutton switches along each side, but the displays are dark and when you push the buttons there's no response.
- The ship's weapons power up and try to fire on the approaching shuttle (Based on Lepus drawing PUGNACIOUS from the Trove). This makes Jachro worried, especially with the lack of a hail. He turns on cloaking and performs evasive maneuvers.
- No response from the shuttle's hails.
BunnyHugger intimates: Jachro and Eikran have both used this shuttle or ones like it many times, and the familiarity is comforting as they rely on its defensive abilities.
- Kandra says, "Strangely enough, the weapons never actually fire. Maybe they're out of ammunition. Maybe the cloaking device was enough to confuse them into thinking you didn't exist. Maybe they're not weapons at all but something less straightforward..."
- Elandra epics: The ship is massive and ancient - the two quantities are magnified as we dock. There's equipment old enough to barely be recognizable, and the scale is large enough that we could almost dock the nose of our ship here, in this shuttle bay!
- You say, "Your interfacing with the ship's systems does provide Eikran with some diagnostic data. Much of it doesn't make sense or is in a format your computer can't deduce. But one bit that you do pick up is that there are over a million life signals aboard. But only two marked as 'active'."
- Eikran and Jachro suspect that given the ship's style and its position over the unnaturally(?) forested moon, it may be a terraforming facility. But then why is the moon uninhabited?
- The pods only resemble the cryosleep hardware we'd know today in general layout--they might remind you of more-primitive versions of the same technology if you study history.
- Lepus says, "I know mine is: "I wonder what this ship was shooting or aiming at?""
- Sora says, "Jachro is excited that there are /working/ cryo systems here, and wonders what other ancient technology we will get to learn about."
BunnyHugger says, "I wonder if the residents of this system disabled the controls intentionally to prevent ever being awakened."
- Elandra mrrs, "Eikran needs to know the why and the how, and the what - too many questions to feel much other than urgency!"
- Kandra says, "Mine is, I wonder if the cryo systems _are_ working, and I suspect we'll find them to not be that enlightening so far as the greater mystery goes on their own."
- Kandra spotlights 'Eikran will never leave anybody behind'.
BunnyHugger says, "I spotlight 'We preserve.'"
- Sora spots 'The past never lies'
- Lepus says, "Which reminds me that 'Alecrya always protects conscious life could be interesting here too."
5. Who are these sleepers?
Characters: Jachro and Eikran
Scene: After determining that the residents of this place are all in a very deep and ancient slumber, they find an access terminal that connects to the ship's computer. It uses an obsolete -- by our House's standards -- touchscreen system, but Eikran is able to divine some of its functions. It appears to still be running, and to invite input. It requires no password or code to access at least some basic information. Perhaps the residents of this ship left it that way intentionally, as a record of their civilization.
Answer: Stasis bound members of the House of Seeds, locked in some kind of loop.
You say, "Menus cascade. Little personal details like names and histories of each of these people, Eikran. A million souls. It isn't an encoding of your house, no. But it isn't unfamiliar either: You recognize the UI of a House of Seeds system." You say, "And despite the stasis, a section of it is updating constantly." Elandra mrrs, "Eikran lets out a quiet murmur, "This is all Seeds - all of them. They're churning, some of them are updating, even now. I don't understand what we're looking at, yet, but I need to.""
The computer system is itself a relic, and difficult to work with, but Eikran finds what appears to be a menu. Each item on the menu is marked by a symbol of cryptic intent. ( BunnyHugger's interpretation of drawing RELICS for what response Eikran gets from the system)
- Elandra epics, thus: The ship around us is almost impossible huge, at least for two people on foot. Ships, shuttles, or a tram will be necessary to go from one end or the other. It's big!
BunnyHugger narrates, "The language and alphabet, too, are recognizable as that used by the House of Seeds, although it appears to be a dialect that isn't one currently in use by them, so it looks a little strange, a bit 'off.' It appears that these records were left accessible intentionally."
- You say, "My reflection is: I wonder why there's a whole forest seeded below if everyone is in stasis up here."
- Sora says, "Jachro is unhappy about finding a House of Seeds variant so close, right in front of him in fact. He spotlights 'We Preserve'. It could be interesting what that means in this case."
- Elandra mrrs, "Eikran is wondering if the world below is a glimpse of a vanished dream, or something more sinister. He needs to know."
BunnyHugger says, "I wonder if someone in particular was meant to find these records, and if so why?"
6. What do the results of Alectrya's self-exam say?
Scene: Alectrya is in her lab on the ship, a place that's half medical bay half bio engineering lab. Cables hang down and vats of bio-active substances like jungle vines and pools along with all her decorations. It's a warm spot of color on the station that wouldn't be out of keeping in a set for a production of The Magic Flute, perhaps a contrast to how Era keeps her nearby lab. Alectrya is naked and detaching herself from sensor cables and instruments, and wiping off warm gel with a fluffy towel as she watches the results of her self-examination flow into being in midair in a project display.
Answer: The dreams are not just her imagination: Her brain is more active than it should be during stasis, especially in the subcortex. The rest of her body appears to be normal for deep stasis sleep and she can detect no internal stimulus to explain the phenomenon.
- The brain appears to be experiencing REM sleep while the body is physically kept in deep stasis.
Sample dreams: BunnyHugger says, "Alectrya is very concerned. During the last two jumps she seems to have a dream, or at least has the memory of one. One dream as of her time at the medical academy, an exam stress dream, but punctuated by the appearance of a small red bird landing on her desk. The other was more vague and even more mundane, something about eating breakfast, but there also was the same red bird. She wonders if the increased activity she sees could be connected. It's not outside the range of normal functioning but it is very 'high normal' and if the trend continues it will cross the threshold into abnormal."
BunnyHugger says, "I wonder if the red bird appears anywhere in the records of the strange sleeper ship we have found?"
- Elandra mrrs, "I wonder if the planet has a flock of birds upon it."
- Sora says, "Jachro has absolutely no idea how we could be getting such a stimulus this far out. Is it coming from inside the ship, or something in the background of space itself? Could it be a simple malfunction, or something changing at a cosmic level?"
- Kandra reflects that perhaps placing some sort of direct low-level logging on the cryogenic equipment might yield useful information.
- You say, "My reflection will be: If nothing moves faster than light, if the stimuli turns out to not be in our systems then where is it coming from?"
Characters: Alectrya and Eikran
Scene: The pair arrive on the ship. The other two crew members are either back on our own vessel, or exploring some other aspect of the place unimportant to the scene. Bringing Alectrya to the seemingly infinite chamber of cryo tubes, the pair can begin to survey (randomly?) some of the inhabits to figure out what's going on. They may also learn other things along the way, but the question is most important right now.
Answer: They appear to be having SOME kind of dream. And oddly it seems to have a similar pattern/signature repeated across all the million dreamers, but it's not confirmed that it's the Red Bird Dream.
These pods have been in stasis for 20,000 years:
Lepus epics, "We've already touched on the scope of this place in its breadth and sheer size: All those tubes... your old hibernation bay could fit in a corner here. But going over the data on the interface brings up a new dimension to the study: The log data here goes back about 20 kiloannum and fills up almost a zettabyte of storage.
The people in the pods appear to be dreaming and there's a weird little signature to the dreams.
BunnyHugger interprets: "Alectrya finds 'sleeping' brain activity similar to what she has detected in herself. She goes on and checks another pod... and finds the same. And another. But they oddly have something in common; a weird little signature that is too similar, where there should be more variation between 'dreams." (From BunnyHugger asking what the logs show and drawing FISHES)
We may be aging mentally while dreaming.
BunnyHugger says, "Alectrya is stunned. Dreaming during stasis is outside her medical knowledge. She tells Eikran, 'What worries me is that dreaming when we should be nearly devoid of life might mean that a part of our brain is aging when it shouldn't be. It's doing work when it should be at total rest. If this keeps up it could shorten our lives or cause some sort of cognitive decline. But if it's happening here too... it could be something more widespread in cryosleep than we realized. Or it could be something that's infected our cryo systems. But then how would it also be here?'"
The ship's networking infrastructure goes to parts of the ship not on any of its other layout models. And something or someone appears to be accessing the same records we are (read or write we can't tell) and trying to hide it - throwing off the timings slightly.
(From Lepus asks 'What other detail of the ship does Eikran's digging turn up?' and draws: SECRETIVELY)
BunnyHugger says, "I wonder if the 'signature' in these people's dreams is also a red bird, or if it manifests differently here."
- Lepus says, "My reflection is: I wonder if this ship is sending out a signal of some kind that's related to our dreams."
- Elandra mrrs, "Eikran finds himself wondering if the ship made the signal to lure us here, or if there is a third party that wanted to connect these two dots - strange, strange times."
- Sora reflects: "Since the dream aspect is surprisingly identical, are the bodies all alike (or similar) too?"
Values: Lepus advances the dilemma by threatening WE PRESERVE as one of the threatened values. This is tonal foreshadowing: We don't know yet how it'll manifest or even what our Dilemma is, but we have a strong feeling that one choice will be motivated by this Value and the other would betray it.
8. What is hidden on this ship?
Scene: We have just returned to the vast, cavernous space where we first found the cryotubes but the mission here is somewhat different: There is a network of chambers that have somehow evaded our sensors up until we took the network and mapped it. Thusly armed with the knowledge of where these chambers might be, we are heading towards a place where the flow of information breaches what we think to be an featureless wall of this space.
Answer: The walls hide a vast network of vines that are possibly carrying information to/from the sleeping inhabitants of the pods.
- While discussing how to open the wall, Jachro mentions they have access to a mini-nuke.
- You say, "The wall's collapsed but Era's motes still faintly hover where they were.... exposed like this you can make out how their progress superimposes on the tangle of certain vines." (i.e. the vines might be moving data)
Kandra asks 'What anomaly, glitch, or unexpected interaction in the network is Era interrupted (by the weapon firing) in the midst of investigating?' and draws: IMMUNE
Kandra interprets that to mean 'Parts of the network that should be stateful and unpredictably non-deterministic have, after the momentary disruption, begun a perfect replay of the past day or so's traffic, one we wouldn't have noticed if we hadn't already been watching. They only superficially appear to acknowledge commands, and discard writes."
BunnyHugger says, "Alectrya uses a portable device to scan the greenery. 'Its life cycle appears to be accelerated. The rate of cell growth is abnormally high!'"
- Elandra mrrs, "Eikran is positively boggled by the development, and now wants a sample of what is likely a highly controversial plant."
- Sora says, "Jachro wonders if those in stasis are being used by whatever's happening in the hidden area. He's heard of such setups before, but they never turn out well for anyone involved."
- You say, "My reflection is definitely: I wonder if this isn't a House of Seeds ship at all, but a ship full of innocents that was infected by a House of Seeds kudzu reprogramming its purpose like a virus; and how that new purpose might tie into the RBD."
BunnyHugger says, "My reflection is, 'I wonder what it suggests that we have quasi-permanent dreamers and excessive life activity on the same ship.'"
Kandra says, "My reflection is, gosh, vines that are also a computer network *again*, Lepus? :> Okay, only joking."
- Kandra reflects (is this valid reflection?), "Era is unsettled by this relevation. She's not entirely sure why, and she appears almost as impassive as she already did, but something about what she's looking at disturbs her."
- Elandra mrrs, "Eikran will want to preserve the technology, but this technology may well be pretty darn insideous and may have a very high cost in lives."
- You say, "Yeah. Plus Eikran never attacks first and she never leaves people behind. Alectrya always protects conscious life and maybe these people do count as that."
- You say, "Whereas Era values works over lives."
9. Why have these people not unthawed?
Characters: Alectreya and Eikran
Scene: The scene is Alectreya and Eikran as they venture on foot into the heretofore unknown parts of the station. Other members of the party have perhaps taken a different direction or gone back to our ship for supplies. It's warmer here than it was out in the cryo chamber, by a matter of some degrees; the environment is visually overwhelming in its complexity, with plant life everywhere, and the floor, which probably used to be metal once, is covered by a thin accumulation of fallen leaves and matter. The two of them have just found a stairwell that appears to lead downwards, towards an area that would be underneath the stasis hall we were in earlier.
Answer: The people are being used as the templates for some kind of plant-based cloning project.
- Elandra epics: this system of life might have more in common with vast fungal mats beneath forests than the vines we're used to dealing with. This is exotic at its finest, and is potentially alien for most of us if not all!
BunnyHugger asks 'What does the party find as they descend the stairs?' and draws: PYRAMIDS. BunnyHugger interprets, "There are what appear to be storage chambers here, filled with labeled samples of different kinds of life, possibly from the planet beneath."
BunnyHugger says, "Alectrya opens a drawer in a massive cabinet, and finds a slab upon which insects have been preserved, laid out, and cataloged. 'Ah, too bad Jachro isn't here. It looks like this was a scientific expedition to catalog life on the planet. But why are they in cryosleep above the planet? Did something go wrong?'"
BunnyHugger says, "Alectrya picks up a volume. 'I guess they believed in redundancy, storing physical books in case the computer system was compromised.' She looks into it and reads the names, roles, and other details of crew members, again in that Seeds-like but not quite standard Seeds dialect."
- You say, "With 20,000 years of sleep maybe it's an offshoot. Or... a cousin? Regardless with the countless thousands here, it's obviously a different sort of operation than yours. These people are not your sort of time-jumpers between the stars. The records indicate that these aren't people of your sort - time jumpers between the stars with godlike resources - but more simple folk sent out here by the House to study and populate this moon. At least that's what these records and they thought. Maybe the House had a different purpose for them."
- Elandra asks 'What is the ship's actual mission statement?' and draws: DAUGHTER. Elandra mrrs, "Eikran opens up the binder and then thumbs down it, pushing his brain to dig up these old, somewhat obscure dialectic quirks as he reads the page. After a moment, he lets out a cry, "This ship was going to try ... Alectrya, can you make sense of this? I think the plant is supposed to clone those people, rather than wake them. Like a form of parthenogenesis...""
- You say, "I wonder WHERE these clones are. And I wonder whether their dream activity is connected to them somehow."
- Sora says, "Jachro thinks this is a new form of propagation by the house of seeds, and he wants to document it better before deciding what we're going to do with it. We have to take action."
- Kandra says, "Mine is: I wonder if the clones would even look like humans in the normal sense of the word--let alone act like them?"
BunnyHugger says, "I wonder if something went wrong and the red bird dream is a sort of distress beacon."
- Elandra mrrs, "Eikran wants to try to go back to the ship and find a way to cram botany until he can understand how this all works. He knows he's going to have to stumble through with what knowledge he has."
10. Where are these plant clones hidden and what are they up to?
Characters: Eikran and Jachro
Scene: The scene is Eikran and Jachro who are in Eikran's lab. It's a clutter of projects half-assembled, half-dissassembled or abandoned across centuries of life. Monitors and sensor controls have been hastily rerouted, providing access to scan the solar system, the giant ship next to us, etc. Not as vast as the cartography room and more cramped, it's nonetheless flexible. When we open, you're discussing where to look and what to look for.
Answer: A dropped probe reveals clone colonies hidden under the moon's shallow busy digging inwards into the continental shelf.
You say, "It plunges with a dramatic splash then despite its sleek shape. Beneath a blanket of green algae, an entire city is here, floating in organic bubbles of plant material like air bladders on kelp fronds. Deep in the black darkness below the sea but lit by unnatural silver light. The algae forms an organic barrier and blanket hiding this place as surely as the vines were hidden on the ship."
You say, "Your probe detects hundreds of creatures matching your search parameters - no, tens of thousands - before it's abruptly cut off. And alot of electromagnetic activity."
- Kandra epics, "There's a series of enclosed, fully-automated greenhouse areas elsewhere in the ship; Eikran probably spun up two or three of them with the appropriate templates from the data banks to produce a range of ecologically authentic products from a recreation of a jungle biome sampled millennia ago."
- Sora says, "Jachro gasps, "Come look at this!" He points at the screen! Under the cover of the existing plants, it spots uncountable numbers of structures. These clones aren't just existing, they're changing the face of the planet."
- You say, "They've been busy: Digging inwards from the ocean shelf, it looks like they're spreading out through the continental plates in a riddling of tunnels and a little undermining of the surface integrity, spreading like mycelium before popping up like mushrooms. ...But why on an unihabitated moon?"
- Sora says, "Jachro thinks this is getting very serious. While he is excited at finding something new, he knows we cannot leave this as it is. He needs to talk with the others and come up with we should do. He trusts they'll have good solutions."
- Kandra says, "Mine is, I wonder why the ship, if it really is traveling between worlds, has been idle in orbit around this one for twenty thousand years."
- Elandra mrrs, "Eikran's mind lept from mycelium to those mushrooms - what are they building towards? He fears the answers."
- You say, "Mine is probabaly a variant on my last pose: I wonder if they're doing this on an uninhabitated world because they don't want their project detected."
11. What is this Seed offshoot's actual goal here?
Narrator: Sora (DRIVING)
Characters: Eikran, Jachro
Scene: Eikran is busy pouring over what the probe and sensors have sent back. He's got to understand what's really going on down there. All his screens light up with data from potentially an extra probe or two, and the full power of the ship's built-in sensors. Eikran can investigate effectively anything at a macro and semi-micro level. So what does he look for first?
Answer: The moon is being set-up as a kind of rocky seedpod - once it's ready the ship will instigate an explosion, sending fragments full of hibernating, infectious clones through the galaxy
- Lepus epics, "A lot underground if the flow is to be believed - think aspen groves. But here it's on the scale of a large country, a modest continent!"
- The structures resemble something like a giant ant colony, and the inhabitants are densely packed. We've seen this before - Jachro could certainly provide insight on this type of setup. Yet... it's not exactly like a colony. There are countless areas that seem isolated, as if self contained but currently connected to the main branches.
- Sora says, "Jachro says, "I've seen this before, but not from the Seed. See those structures..?" He points to the little isolated bits, "They're taking a line from what certain plants and insectoid types do. Basically, those parts are gonna seal up, and the ship is probably going to send a high energy pulse to the center before moving on. The moon will blow, and spread those chunks across the universe. I'm guessing the plants go into some sort of hibernation and will wake back up when conditions are right. They could 'seed' thousands of worlds like this. It's really bad!""
- Sora says, "Jachro is fascinated and horrified. He worries if the Seed found out what was happening here, they'd use it somehow."
- Elandra mrrs, "Eikran is trying to think of some way to salvage this without killing people. He's not happy."
- You say, "Having trouble coming up with a good one. I suppose it's: I wonder what the people down there are like, whether they act like people."
- Kandra says, "Era is fascinated and nauseated at the same time. The precise mechanics of how this was all orchestrated over such depths of time must be fascinating, even worth saving (or at least documenting) in some abstract sense--there might even be new research there--and yet it could destroy so much else of greater value."
- Kandra says, "(also, Era might be, like, just uncomfortable with/put off by organic biological life in general at this point)"
- You say, "And I'll advance the dilemma by saying that our choice is probably going to be whether or not to blow up the ship."
[OOC] Lepus says, "And though it wasn't explicit I think the idea is that these fragments explicitly take over EXISTING WORLDS parasitically." [OOC] Lepus says, "Rather than seeding barren ones." [OOC] Lepus says, "Because otherwise we don't have a strong motivation to stop them other than 'we don't like them.' And that's not good enough." [OOC] Lepus says, "But if it takes over existing worlds, then yes: We blow up the ship BECAUSE 'we preserve'."
12. What conflicts of value come to the forefront as the crew discuss their plans?
Scene: In this scene, the entire crew has reassembled in the room where this episode began and they first chose their destination. It has been determined that the sleeper ship, if left alone, will eventually trigger an energy pulse that will result in the chaotic and aggressive plant life spreading across worlds. Further, it does not appear it will discriminate between barren and living worlds. And in the scene is everyone, as the discussion becomes tense and conflicting values, particularly between those with different ideals of preservation, come to the forefront.
Answer: Inconclusive, but Era emphasizes the potential impact of the dissemination while Alectrya and Eikran discussed misgivings of killing the sleepers.
BunnyHugger says, "Alectrya says, 'I would like to find out whether the crew can be awakened before we take any action. They seem to have at least some brain activity. I need more time...'"
BunnyHugger narrates: The trouble is that likely there is little time before the disastrous explosion of seeds occurs. Alectrya knows that she really doesn't have this time.
- Elandra mrrs, "Eikran says that he's conflicted. There are people on the ship, and we haven't established, yet, that they can't be talked out of it before we do anything rash."
- Kandra says, "Era frowns. She's absently running projections and trajectories over long timescales, trying to estimate the likely impact if the disposition of 'seeds' goes ahead. It doesn't look good. "If we have to kill them," she says, slowly, "then we have to kill them. They've already been frozen twenty thousand years. They probably chose this.""
- Kandra says, "Era crosses her arms, her brows pulling downwards. Which is significant, because she normally appears almost totally impassive. She points to a cluster of statistically significant trajectories, "There's no time to wake one up. If you dawdle here too long giving the benefit of the doubt, Eikran, this will go off, and it will likely hit the Librarians at Az Ashur among other worlds." She's referring to a well-known race of artists and annal-writers our house has quietly kept stable over millennia."
- You say, "The hibernation system is pretty well-locked in. It would be difficult to extricate them. These aren't demigod like members of the House like you, and they could be being used. It's hard to tell without being able to talk to them."
- You say, "And... they do dream, yes. Perhaps their existence isn't so unconscious after all?"
- Sora says, "Jachro considers. He knows blowing that planet up will cause chaos. He can't accept that. He knows from experience what will happen if they spread. The past never lies. But... we also preserve... and we're supposed to remain human. We can't stoop to someone lesser house's level. He listens to his crewmates, his friends... and thinks they have some good ideas. "Wake one up.. yeah.... that'd let us sort this out, wouldn't it?""
BunnyHugger says, "Alectrya reluctantly admits that from what she observed, the stasis system is locked down hard to prevent waking people. It would take a long investigation into the mechanics of the relatively primitive and unfamiliar system to determine if safe extrication of the people within is even possible. "
BunnyHugger narrates, "Being a small crew and one well traveled together, this group have a bond with each other. But that does not mean they don't bristle sometimes at their differences. They come from various different factions of the House, devoted to different kinds of preservation. And, of course, they have different ideas about the means that can be used to achieve preservation.
- Kandra says, "Era is personally more concerned with a series of ancient, cryptic monuments of what's thought to be failed computational substrate, which are also among the likely vulnerable stars. But the vectors threatening Az Ashur are the clearer ones. She shrugs her shoulders to Alectreya's query, "I may not study history but I've heard them argue. That is not a new fallacy. We cannot 'preserve' everything in the sky, and it's our duty to remove that which threatens the greater good, as we have done from the beginning of existence.""
- Elandra mrrs, "Eikran will keep arguging his point, but his concerns swirl about in his head. We don't even know how long we have till the ship goes off, do we?"
- Elandra mrrs, "Eikran feels trapped between a field of undesirable outcomes. Why'd it have to be a Seed mechanism to spread life that displaces humans?"
- Sora says, "Jachro simply can't decide. While one SEEMS to be the clear choice (destroying the ship), he feels like it's still a bit option - it's going to gnaw at him for thousands of years. It might turn us into mass murderers, something our house is absolutelyt not known for."
BunnyHugger reflects: "Alectrya knows she is facing a choice in which she may have to refuse to cooperate with the rest of the crew."
- You say, "My reflection is: I wonder what those people's inner experience is like and if it would surprise us if we could see it."
- Kandra says, "Era feels bothered and under threat. She came here to search for clues to help a friend in need, not to fight over what seems like an inescapable, albeit not entirely pleasant, course."