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Story Game v2.0

15 May 2018 20:36 #21135 by Charlotte
Replied by Charlotte on topic Story Game v2.0
Yana and Elander stood side by side, hands reaching out to the pictographs on the wall but only just touching the surface. They mustn’t damage anything. For a long time they only looked and did not speak. It was fascinating, these pictures from another culture. Another species. Sentient aliens. They existed, but humanity had only found and made contact with a few contemporary species. Yana wondered if those responsible for the paintings were still around. Or, if they were gone, what had happened to them? Scans of the planet done while they were all still aboard the Omicron, long before they reached orbit, showed no signs of obvious architectural structures. Yet they had the paving stones outside and the shaped seats in the cave - there should be other structures too, elsewhere, waiting to be found.

“What do you think this means?” Yana held her fingers just above the picture of the two individuals that seem to dissolve. “Some sort of alternate consciousness? Crossing over to the other side? Could they have believed in an afterlife?” She cast a look sideways at Elander Hays, who didn’t respond but only shook her head almost imperceptibly. She was still in awe. Yana waited quitely, until one of the guards from outside came in and asked if they intended to miss supper.
“We have documented the images so we can study them back in camp as well. But nothing beats seeing them in situ, does it?” She grinned towards Elander. “And you will stay a few days at least, will you not? I’ll tell you how we found this cave on the way back!” They joined the guards outside, as two others took up post outside the cave entrance. Elander wondered what they were guarding the cave against. Over-enthusiastic scientists? Wildlife? There were no grave robbers or artefact hunters on this planet. Unless someone had somehow snuck themselves in amongst the crew - in which case they’d most likely be among the soldiers who got to guard the place, anyway. All scientific staff had well documented credentials and psyche evaluations behind them. Come to think of it, the soldiers were probably well documented and evaluated as well.

As they walked back to the X-8 site, which turned out to be a surprising distance away, though not far enough to be a tiring walk, Yana related to Elander how they had come to find the site.
“As you’ll see it’s way outside the quadrant we were supposed to explore - we could have missed it altogether! But our botanist, John Lawrence - you might remember he replaced professor Yvain on this team which I thought was a shame, but I guess we actually got lucky to have him instead...” Yana interrupted herself as she noted that she was digressing. “Well, he was examining this tree that seemed to have a symbiotic relationship with another organism - we’re not yet sure how to classify it. It doesn’t really fit in our usual division of plants, animals, fungae and so on. Anyway, he was trying to establish the extent of the organism linked to that one tree - and got himself lost away from camp. While he waited for a couple of soldiers to come escort him back, he found the first tiles of that path we followed to the cave. You won’t believe it but he actually waited for the soldiers to accompany him before he started following the path!” Yana was evidently astonished by this self control. “That first day they went in the direction away from the cave, and they didn’t find anything else, but next day a small team followed it towards the cave. I was only called there later, once they’d already found the cave and the fireplace but it was me and Lawrence together who figured out that the burning of certain leaves showed all those wonderful pictographs! I had analysed the ashes and could identify the trees, but wow to see all those images come to life - to light, even!” Yana kept prattling on until they reached camp and sat down for supper, after showing Elander where her bunk was to be found, and Elander found herself longing to be alone in that bunk, alone with her thoughts and in silence.

At the X-1 camp, sgt Holst was sitting on his bunk, feet propped on a chair, enjoying a breather after supper and before the evening rounds and checkups. Even though he was in charge of this one camp, he felt responsible for the security of all the other camps too - all the people who had come down and set foot on this planet. And too much was happening too fast. The scientists were elated, of course, but he wished things would slow down and be more controllable. There was the issue of breaking protocol in camps three and five, the invisible sphere in his own camp and now something stirring in the 8th quadrant. Not to mention the scientists seemed to claim new discoveries at every turn. Granted, every organism here was new to science, so they were bound to make “discoveries” but he’d prefer to think of it as recording rather unsurprising facts. He sighed and felt guilty at the quick thought of relief that Jinnik was currently off site. The man wasn’t too bright but he would usually follow orders - otherwise he’d never been allowed on this expedition. Still, it was Doggo’s behaviour that still gnawed at Anton. He must have picked up on something. But his thoughts returned to the murmur of a great find in X-8. He’d been informed that there was something and that security was on top of it, but he had yet to be informed of exactly what they had found. Nothing dangerous, he hoped.

Night. In the trees the furry, sleepy eyed creatures were shifting places. They looked more alert at night, eyes wide open to take in what little light was available. In a tree by the sleeping quarters two met, touched noses and one of them made a couple of clawing motions with one three-fingered hand and then stretched his arm wide. Then he clambered down from the tree while his replacement settled into place in the fork just vacated. Another one sat quietly watching as a man emerged from the tents and took a few unsteady steps on the soft ground before more purposefully walking into the trees just below. There he stood, murmuring and gesticulating at one of the tree trunks. The creature shifted uneasily but the man seemed not to have noticed. After about 15 minutes he walked back into the tents.

Any an all misspellings are henceforth blamed on the cat.

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16 May 2018 13:32 #21136 by Valence
Replied by Valence on topic Story Game v2.0
Oooh, I like that ending. Very atmospheric and intriguing. Makes me want to turn the page and keep reading on. :)

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16 May 2018 14:18 #21137 by Charlotte
Replied by Charlotte on topic Story Game v2.0
pfft you'll probably just be disappointed. Besides, I suspect it's you or Banj who will write the next bit :D

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18 May 2018 13:42 - 18 May 2018 13:43 #21147 by Charlotte
Replied by Charlotte on topic Story Game v2.0
:dry: why do I always seem to be the only one spending friday afternoons and evenings in here? :shrug:

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19 May 2018 00:49 #21152 by Valence
Replied by Valence on topic Story Game v2.0
Obviously everyone else has been invited to the royal wedding. :eyeroll:

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19 May 2018 01:09 - 19 May 2018 01:15 #21153 by Valence
Replied by Valence on topic Story Game v2.0
Yana emerged from the tunnel entrance carrying the bulky tripod. This was the last bit of equipment to be removed from the site after their final scans. Lawrence had taken the sub-micron beam unit back to the camp leaving her to manage with the stand. It wasn't too heavy really when it was folded up like this. It was just a little awkward getting the stuff in and out through the cramped tunnel.
"You guys packing up for the day?" It was one of the guards asking, his voice a little muffled and distorted behind his breathing mask.
"Well, I'm done anyway." She smiled at the soldier while her brow frowned a little, the contradictory expressions indicating a kind of bemusement as she asked, "Do you really still have to wear those things?" She waved her hand in front of her face.
"I guess not," he admitted. "After a while it just becomes part of the uniform. And they do look kind of cool."
"It'd be cooler to actually see who I'm talking to at any given moment."
He reached up and snapped the lower part of the mask down, it crackled and hissed, then he pulled it all over his head and completely off, revealing his face. "Better?"
"Always," she said, looking up into his dark eyes that reflected the dappled, evening light falling through the surrounding foliage. He looked younger than she imagined, maybe they were all young, yet he still had a faded scar that turned over a sharp cheekbone. "Now you have a face. All we need next is a name."
"Halvett."
"And I'm-"
"Yana. I know. You show your ID everytime you go past."
"Well, it's good to know you're paying attention beneath the masks." She put the tripod down and groaned a little.
"You OK?"
She didn't answer immediately but after rubbing her eyes for a moment she said, "Just tired. It's been a busy few days. Sometimes I feel like I'm running on autopilot."
"Well don't run yourself into the ground with your work. All work and no play..."
"I wouldn't change it for anything. All of this..." She looked all around her. "...is amazing. It's all I've ever wanted to do. And now I'm finally here I'm not letting it go." She picked up the tripod, nodded to the soldier and set off back to camp.
"Hey," he called out after her. "If you do want a bit of a break then some of the guys are having a few drinks at the end of the current shift rotation."
Yana acknowledged with a wave of her free hand and carried on.

As she reached the two tall, pillar-like trees she couldn't resist stretching her neck back to gaze up at the towering trunks. She suddenly recalled that conversation with the guard. Wait, was he coming on to me back there? she wondered. What was his name again? Halvett or something. Perhaps she should have said yes to his offer. Perhaps she should have said 'something' instead of just waving. Did he think that wave was a yes or a no? Such conversations are always a bit awkward when you recount them afterwards. But perhaps it's good that people feel relaxed enough to talk like that now. Things were a little more tense just after landing with everyone worried about what they'd find down here The atmosphere was a bit like 'Them' and 'Us' but now Soldiers and Scientists seemed to be fraternizing with much more ease. And it wasn't just with the soldiers either. The factions between the scientists seemed to have melted away with each new discovery. Even Professor Hays had stopped worrying about quarantine once she'd been down here and seen the site at first hand. This place had the power to bring people together. This place was special.

Huwo sat waiting with the others. Motionless, like the others. That's all he was now... Like the others. He whimpered a little as his wounded leg reminded him of pain. It used to be just an instinct but now it was something felt deeper. Before it was just his leg that hurt, but now that same hurt was in his head too. And the feeling in the head remained even when the feeling in the leg faded. The memory of pain is also pain.
The feeling made him weak. That's why the sphere abandoned him. The leg was not healing, will never heal. It was not like the old body, before. This body was stuck in weakness. Huwo was stuck in weakness.
Huwo looked up at the sphere on the branch. As he watched, head down, peeping from under his brow, the metal sphere expanded to a larger sphere of glittering dust. It hovered in defiance for a time and then cascaded to the ground like water, and, still like water, it flowed to the centre of the group and the sphere re-formed again. Huwo watched and waited, like the others.

The sphere again became dust and the dust became Hawa. That's why the sphere abandoned him. Huwo was weak. Hawa is strong.
Hawa raised a fist and screamed. The group stirred and looked at her. She hooted deeply, the sound was layered like two voices, sinking lower unlike any noise that Hawa made before... Before the sphere. The group stood to attention but Huwo stayed seated. His leg was still painful. Hawa came close. She placed a hand on his head, her fingertips scratching gently, picking as if grooming for parasites on his skin. She made another noise, a soft, low murmur, a noise more familiar, more comforting.
At the will of her touch, Huwo turned to dust and the dust turned back to Huwo. When the body returned he was standing. Hawa patted the side of his face. Hawa raised her arm high to gain attention and then swept it forward with an aggressive point. She called out with a high pitched howl and bounded off in that direction.
The group followed. And Huwo followed.


Elander couldn't sleep. Her mind was alive and active, fizzing with ideas and questions. She never expected to feel like this. In a way, she felt conflicted, and in another way she felt guilty about that conflict. She had come on this journey armed with her protocols and regulations. She had even prepared, and rehearsed, the entire speech she would give to shut down this whole expedition if it got too dangerous. She had been fixed in her beliefs. Rigid with certainty. And yet here she now was, down on the planet, exploring alien sites, touching- actually TOUCHING alien history, and loving it like... Well, like that girl Yana. She felt reborn. She felt new. She felt like she mattered again.
Had she been wrong for all those years? She remembered the public hearings after Kantika Moon. Was it really 25 years ago? It seemed like only yesterday that she was standing before that inquiry to urge and then convince the authorities to place a moratorium on manned frontier exploration. She remembered those adversarial debates where she even argued with the crew who were there and lucky to escape, including Renek Cardo! She remembered undermining their subjective testimony with the facts. The main fact being that even now we didn't know what that huge relic was, that vast, incongruous ruin that imploded in that release of strange, dancing, blinding light, with a power and energy no-one had ever seen, taking half of Kantika Moon with it. Was it a temple, an outpost, a graveyard? Or just a trap. It's one thing to catalogue bugs and trees but when you start dealing with intelligence, sentience, sapience... That's when things get risky.
So all her recommendations had been put in place back then, supported by the authority of Professor Relin, all the limits, the restrictions, the protocols. And yet their implementations had softened over the years. People had become more optimistic about the universe and all its wonders. New planets gave people new hopes. And now here they were exploring once more and she was right there on the front line and loving it, with Renek's daughter. She wondered if Professor Relin would appreciate the irony.
The girl added even more conflict to her mixed feelings. Elander had never had children. Taking on such responsibility seemed arrogant, both then and now. To have a whole life dependent on you! How could you ever focus on anything else? But being here with Yana made her realise what she had missed out on. Of course Yana was an adult now, but she still felt protective of her like any mother would be and yet she also rejoiced in her discoveries and enthusiasm. Who was she to take that away with regulations and protocol? Did she now finally understand Yana's father too? Understand his need to explore and the way he tried to take the baby Yana from her protective mother? She remembered his words documented by the subsequent investigation and now understood the meaning of the nickname. "Yarenka will be an explorer like me. We live out there. We belong out there." Perhaps Renek had been right about that at least, perhaps we do all belong out here. As a race. As a people. But Renek had been wrong to try and take the baby by force and he'd been wrong to take that ship to explore on his own in defiance of the laws. Because of that, Elander was glad that Yana didn't know about her father, glad that she didn't know that his ship was shot down as part of the moratorium that she had put in place. In a way she was partly responsible for his death and Yana would only hate her if she knew.

Huwo limped along at the back of the group. They all followed Hawa. All in a line like those little juicy ants that he used to eat before. Before the sphere. They all followed Hawa. Out of the forests, beyond the trees, across the streams. Through tunnels and caves. Over new and unfamiliar lands. And now up this long, unrelenting hill. Its slope not steep yet still hard on Huwo's wounded leg. Finally at the top, Hawa stopped them with an arresting bark. She pointed in the distance beyond the valley. She pointed at the singular mountain.
Huwo knew of the mountain from his time with the sphere, but he didn't fully understand. He was still too weak to grasp it all. Huwo just knew OF the mountain. He knew they had to get there and get there before.. before... something. He was too weak to fully understand. That's why the sphere abandoned him. Hawa could understand.

Elander tried to close her eyes but it was no good. In her mind she just saw afterimages of that alien artwork. She couldn't stop thinking about it. Who were they? What did it mean? The symbols, the circles, the dissolving figures. Was is a transition of some kind? Their way of expressing death or birth? Or some kind of primitive sacrifice? It was fascinating. "I wonder," she thought, stirring upon and idea. "I wonder if..."
Noises outside her bunk stopped her from finishing the question. It was just voices. Probably soldiers drinking. But then more voices. They didn't sound drunk, they weren't raised like in argument or dispute, but they did sound urgent. "I'd better check," she said out loud to no-one. "It's not as if I'm sleeping anyway." She pulled on a few clothes and ventured outside. Her first thought was, It's morning already? And it was. She obviously hadn't slept all night. Then she noted the scientists scurrying about the camp grabbing equipment.
"What's going on?" she asked one but was ignored. She bumped into another. "What-" but the young man shook his head and pointed in the direction he continued to go in. Finally she found Lawrence and tried to ask him.
Before the question came out he told her.
"It's the cave paintings. Something's changed."



"And you are?" After hearing from the botanist and making her way here, Elander was now eager to get inside the chamber, but the questions had to be asked.
"My name's Halvett, ma'am."
Elander didn't like the "ma'am" but she let it go and inquired, "You've been here all night?"
"Yes, ma'am."
"Awake?"
"Always on duty, m-"
She cut him off and asked him to confirm. "And no-one- nothing- has been in since we left last night."
"Nothing at all."
She left him and went in with the other scientists. Down the tunnel. Into the chamber. The fire had been lit for her already. She looked around at the marks. She didn't need a scan for reference. She knew what they looked like from before. They were burned in her memory. Now she just needed to note the difference. And there it was.
The image of the mountain had two new figures at the base. And above the spiral jewel was a word. A word she could read and understand. She spoke it out loud and her voice echoed in the chamber.
"Come."
She turned and saw Yana behind her. She smiled at her and touched her shoulders with both hands She could feel the girl shaking with excitement. Or was it just her own body shaking. She too was excited.. But a little scared. And conflicted. It was everything she dreamed. And everything she feared. "Th-They're..." she stuttered at Yana. "They're inviting us."

Yana didn't respond. Her eyes remained fixed on that word. She didn't know how this had happened. She didn't know why this had happened. She just knew one thing.
She knew that the word written on the wall looked exactly like her own handwriting. As Elander hugged her Yana glanced down at her own hand and saw one of her fingers glowing in the firelight with a trace of the pigment.
Yana wiped it off on her clothes and told no-one.

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20 May 2018 20:28 #21169 by Charlotte
Replied by Charlotte on topic Story Game v2.0
I think I'm gonna have to get around to writing down the next part of this. I have it in my head! Some of it anyhow... I just don't seem to have the time I need...

I also hope Banj will come back into the game even if we stole his ball and ran away with it... :shy:

Any an all misspellings are henceforth blamed on the cat.

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21 May 2018 15:40 #21170 by Banj
Replied by Banj on topic Story Game v2.0
Everyone is free to use my balls in any way they see fit.

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21 May 2018 18:42 #21171 by Charlotte
Replied by Charlotte on topic Story Game v2.0
:blink:

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22 May 2018 22:18 #21187 by Charlotte
Replied by Charlotte on topic Story Game v2.0
There was a flurry of activity in and around the cave. New equipment, old equipment brought back, new readings and analyses, and samples. She had felt that she was on autopilot the last few days but today she truly was. She knew her equipment, her routines, and she followed them without thinking. Occassionally she bumped into the other people, the only sign that her mind was elsewhere. Or rather, it was right there, just not focused on the work at hand. She knew. It was her hand writing and she had been the last to leave the cave the previous day. They all knew, really. Or should know. It was obvious. And it meant she could be discharged from the job, sent back to the ship. What worried her even more than this, however, was why she had done it. Why had she no memory of doing it? Did she have some sort of breakdown from working too hard? Or had some....one? something? ...made her do it? She recalled her conversation with the guard Halvett, the guard who’s testimony would definately point at her as the prime suspect. “All fun and no play” - it was age old, nobody even remembered where the phrase came from anymore. But it was a reminder that we all need to rest and unwind, even from things we might enjoy. That getting too wrapped up in one thing might make you unable to see others as they are. To make you loony. Crazy. Was she crazy? She almost hoped so. The other option was too terrifying. What did Elander say? “They’re inviting us”. Who? And are they? Why? Is it a trap? Or was it just her own crazy graphitti? Was she that desperate to be part of something bigger? Was she going crazy? Yana’s thoughts kept spinning around and around, but few noticed that she was absent minded - every one else was equally wrapped up in the new events, if for different reasons.

Outside the cave, Halvett was waiting to be sent back to camp for some rest. New guards had arrived but the two of them who had worked during the night still needed to be debriefed. He was waiting his turn, stifling a yawn and the uneasy feeling he’d had all morning. Nobody had entered the cave all night. That girl Yana was the last to leave. But he didn’t want to implicate her. He didn’t want her to have done such a thing. Some people thought the words had appeared as if by magic, it seemed. But the simplest and most logical solution to the puzzle, was Yana. He thought back and their brief conversation the night before. She seemed nice and easy going. She was kind of cute in an everyday sort of way. He found himself wondering if she’d been flirting with him. All that about wanting to see his face, know his name. But nah... Why would she flirt with a guy before seeing his face or knowing anything about him? Then again... she could have seen him in camp. And known who he was when in uniform and helmet? His musings were interrupted as it was his turn to inform his superior of the night’s watch and (lack of) events.

By afternoon Yana had made up her mind. After that, the hours left until they were back in camp and she could speak in private with Elander, were agony. At supper she hinted at Elander that she wanted to speak in private and once they had eaten they retreated from the excited buzz of the camp, to Yana’s bunk. She felt like she was about to betray the older woman. Elander seemed aglow with excitement. And now Yana was going to extinguish the flame.
“Elander...” she hesitated. She’d been over these words over and over again during the afternoon and still they refused to come together, to a simple coherent whole. “Elander, I think I... no. I know it was me - I wrote that message. It’s my handwriting and...” She raised a hand to stop Elander from interjecting and forged on. “I don’t know why I did it. I don’t remember doing it. But is IS my handwriting and I had paint on my finger this morning. I must have used the batch we produced in the lab the other day. I don’t know why I did it! I don’t want to leave but... I think... have I gone crazy? I think I need to be sent back to the ship, to go through a thorough medical exam. Maybe I’m overworked? I dunno. I love being here - but I don’t want to corrupt our work!” At the end of all this she burst into tears and Hays took the opportunity to think about her response while she patted the girl on the shoulder, trying to give her some comfort. By the time Yana had composed herself, Hays had decided on a course of action and set aside any disappointment at the revelation. There were protocols. They needed to be followed. And besides, she didn’t have the heart to send Yana away from the site.
“We can’t send you back to the ship.” She said gently “Until we know why you did this, we need to make sure you aren’t influenced by, say, a germ or eh... something. It’s protocol. You’ll have to be quaranteened. The whole camp should probably be quaranteened from the other camp crews and the ship until we know if this is just exhaustion or something else.” She patted Yana again. Protocol was a double edged sword. Yana would not be sent back to the Omicron, but Hays left out the part where, should she be infected or compromised somehow that could not be cured, she might never be allowed to return at all. Then she realised it might go for all of them. If Yana had somehow contracted a disease that made her act out of character, she might already have infected everyone else, Elander included.

Aboard the Omicron Corvan was pacing his quarters. He’d been to the briefing about the findings in the cave. He’d made the connection between the wall paintings and the sphere Jinnik and “Doggo” had found, immediatly. But so far he might be the only one. At the meeting, the military and scientific leaders of each camp had been present via holo-link. Corvan had kept a close eye on that grunt, Holst, while trying to make Relin’s face appear fascinated and intrigued by the information shared. Holst knew about the Sphere but would he connect the two? After all, the cave painting might show a completely different round object. The sun, for instance. He’d tried to read the man’s face but Holst had worn a mask as well regulated as his own Mind shroud. Corvan frowned. He needed some way to get more involved. Yes, he was the on-board specialist in Xeno-history but just looking at the pictures and vids, reading about the analyses, that wasn’t enough. He needed more. More control. And then it came, as if on cue. His intercom beeped. Corvan carefully regulated Relin’s features. Mind shrouds were hard to maintain through technical communications but it helped if the person at the other end already expected a particular face. He answered Professor Ganda’s call. When it ended, his real face was grinning. This was what he needed. A breach in protocol. He had been surprised that it was that young girl, she’d seemed excited but serious, dedicated. But no matter. Unconsciously rubbing his hands like a cliché villain, he considered his next move.

Any an all misspellings are henceforth blamed on the cat.

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