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File 152573647034.png - (22.31KB , 800x600 , salq2-title.png )
883042 No. 883042 ID: f72ae2

SALIKAI pt 2

[pt1: >>/quest/862495]
[dis: >>/questdis/120117]
[bte: >>/questdis/96269]
235 posts omitted. Last 100 shown. Expand all images
>>
No. 892117 ID: 094652

>How can an unborn baby carry a memory it couldn't have possibly witnessed-
-and without the ability to form memories, no less? Simple: It wasn't the baby's memory, it was the nanites' memory.

Well, at least you didn't discover that one of your fragments is Ekasarra's dead baby brother. That would just be icing on the... boob.

>What do
Teleport to Sisirri. Let her know about the new baby, see how she reacts.

If she tries to inject nanites, hit her with arkot feces. Repeatedly.
>>
No. 892138 ID: 977456

I warned you about the babies bro!

Find Tirzi. Acquire sedation.
>>
No. 892141 ID: b38f01

Get inside
now
>>
No. 892171 ID: 575ec0

Man everyone just needs to sit down and stop thinking about shit for like. five minutes.
>>
No. 892173 ID: ba56e6

Inside, now
>>
No. 892190 ID: 86eb65

Bring her to Sisirri.

You are in no shape to think clearly right now. And you need to be safe inside with those little psychic hat things on.

Get inside wrap up your mate with some nice warm towels and let someone else do the thinking for the moment. Then apologize for being a confused wreck. Your lady will understand.
>>
No. 892322 ID: b151ce

Seriously. Go to Sissiri. You're aware she's not perfect, but you don't need perfect right now. You need someone to help you two chill the heck out, and Salikai are very good at the whole icy grip of controlled emotion sort of thing.
>>
No. 893106 ID: 334b68
File 153170489509.png - (157.73KB , 800x600 , salq2-46.png )
893106

>vulnerable to psychic attack
I think I might have accidentally caused a psychic attack.

I reach down to scoop up Ekasarra and her empathy on contact makes me gasp and recoil. Something in me registers her empathic signature as pain, although it... it's demonstrably not pain. It's a confusion. It's like an impossibly vast number of signals aliasing as something different. Trying to grab her again, it's uncomfortable, alien yet familiar, and her thoughts intrude into my own. Nothing coherent, flickers of imagery, flickers of my own past, and distortions of her present experience.

Ekasarra snaps up. "WIRESHAPE, GET DOWN!"
I stagger as the name cuts through me like a knife. Wireshape was the name of a neburi, technical caste. Long dead.
It's painfully familiar. Either I was that neburi or they meant a lot to me.

"Ekasarra?"
"There's enemies everywhere! It's a salikai trick!"
"Ekasarra, what's going on--"

She wriggles out of my grasp, naked and covered in mud in the rainstorm, with a wild look in her eyes. "I'm compromised, I need your eyes. The Splicer's pet project is out of control. You don't have the implants. Are the drones here too?"
"What drones?"
Ekasarra looks confused, stretches out her right arm, and looks at it. "...We need to get inside." She's shaking. "I don't know what's going on. Past, present. I'm falling apart, I can feel it, I don't know why, but I'm losing it, Wireshape, I'm losing it..." She pauses. "And who the fuck is Wireshape?!"

She backs up and barks at the sky, and I reflexively flinch as paraspacial emanations arc from her outstretched hand to the ground. She stares in a confused mix of terror and awe.

"All at once," she mumbles. "A second, maybe two, from so many lives, and I just felt them all at once. How many? A dozen? A hundred?"
"We're vulnerable out here, we need to get back to the facility."

>get to Sisirri
I can't teleport us. I can't focus. I don't tell her, but something about Ekasarra is throwing paraspace into absolute chaos. I can't see the way back into the facility. There's every possibility another teleport will just swallow us and scatter us, half dreams, half dust motes, across a skin between worlds at once too small to see and too large to traverse.

I... I didn't mean to drive Ekasarra half mad with my own emotional issues. Does-- Am-- Is this how real neumono act?

A sudden bolt of lightning spurs me into action. I'm not willing to wait to see if it's a thunderstorm or something far worse on the horizon. I grit my teeth and dive at Ekasarra, focusing on getting us to the facility with all my might and aaaaaaaaAAAAA
>>
No. 893108 ID: 334b68
File 153170497280.png - (50.99KB , 800x600 , salq2-47.png )
893108

[Isolate signatures.]
[Confirmed.]
[Voidsong derivations. 1045 and the augmentation experiment. It's them. Aim.]
[Locating nearest orbital platform. Confirmed. Uploading target co-ordinates. Confirmed.]
[Fire on-- Halt.]
[Halt?!]
[Hivemaster, they're about to--]
[We're too late. Paraspacial jump detected. Out of range.]
[...]
[Confirmed. No Voidsong signatures present in area.]
[Nothing winds down that quickly! Even the stran can't just teleport place to place that quickly!]
[Updating records: Prototype 1045 paraspacial capability greater than initial projections. Worrying.]
[Raise tracking 1045 priority from minor to significant. Voidsong is the primary target, but 1045 is now confirmed an equivalent threat.]
[Confirmed.]
[Dispatching infiltrator units in all directions.]
[Updating spire detection array filters.]

[Next time, 1045. Next time. It is the nature of prototypes to be flawed. We will wait.]
>>
No. 893109 ID: 334b68
File 153170507341.png - (16.06KB , 800x600 , salq2-48.png )
893109

I don't know what room we're in, but I do know I'm shaking and fighting the very sudden urge to scream, pull my eyes, throw up, tear off my ears, wrench out my teeth and stab myself with them. Anything to just stop all sensation right now. Teleporting with Ekasarra was a terribly stupid idea and I'm surprised we both arrived as individual bodies.

I fall to my knees and retch, while screaming and tugging at my ears so hard they almost do rip off.

All in all, I note to myself, in as detached a manner as I can manage, that went better than I was expecting.

Ekasarra, meanwhile, is on her side, curled into a ball, shaking madly. I can tell from her empathy and whispering attempts to contact me via paraspacial echoes that she's trying to say something, but is physiologically incapable. A stammer so bad she can't even get a coherent sound out.

"wh-wh-wh-wh-wh-wh-wh"

I'd try to console her but I'm busy fighting back nausea and every time I open my mouth all sound comes out as a low groan.

Tears stream down Ekasarra's face. I get to her and help her up off the floor.

"Whwhwhat happen??"
"Uuuggghhhh. Don't... don't know."
"Everything is too much. Everything is too much! I can't take this! It's all going too much all the time!" Her empathy expresses a sudden surge of frustration at her inability to describe her thoughts so violently I feel it stronger than a smack to the face. I wince. "Get out! Get out!" Her empathy screams a conflicting desire for me to be as far away as possible and not to leave her alone again. Her internal conflict is a dagger through my chest. I stand and take it. I guess it's only fair if my mental trauma harmed her so much, she should get the chance to pay back in kind.

I take her hand.

"We need to go talk to Sisirri."
Ekasarra nods.

"...just as soon as I find out where we are."
Ekasarra nods as well, frustrated, but slowly realising her mental state is affecting me is affecting her is affecting me.

"I kind of miss feeling hollow and empty now," says Ekasarra, glancing into the distance. "It was far less exhausting."

She finds a screen on the wall, taps at it, and starts looking up a map of the facility, while I slump against a wall and try to recover. Maybe a nap.
>>
No. 893110 ID: 334b68
File 153170511572.png - (95.80KB , 800x600 , salq2-49.png )
893110

Meanwhile...

Arkots, dealt with.
Report, given to Tirzi.
Fufa, confirmed contained and salted.
Blocker distribution, delegated to Lekka.
Kan, in a makeshift brig.
Story, accepted conditionally.

I've yet to tell anyone of the events below the facility, or the occupants of the beneath.

All I know is I'm tired of being out of commission, and I'm tired of losing control.
I might have a gunshot wound that needs healing, but Tirzi gave me the all clear.

I need new eyes, and new claws.
Aza has generously donated parts and labspace.
The tools are familiar enough. Even drugged I could use them.
With great clarity, they are the brushes, metal and circuit the paint, and the world my canvas.
With my vision, the secrets of sleeping gods, the whispers of machine minds, and the tools of alien innovators, I have achieved mastery on a scale few dare dream of.
>>
No. 893111 ID: 334b68
File 153170514677.png - (22.72KB , 800x600 , salq2-50.png )
893111

I am Sisirri, and machines bend to my whim. With wire and glass I see the world, influence it, control it.

The drone before me is a singular creation, a fusion of technology alien and familiar to me, and my greatest work since my arrival on this planet.
Uniquely paired to my own machine-mind-interface, an extension of my will.
Antigravity drive, antimatter reactor, adaptation of the principles of the spacefolder at the greatest scale I can implement, particulate point defense array, all sensory apparatus my prosthetic eye can interpret, tripedal landing and locomotion on synthetic nanotube musculature, thermal and optic scramblers.

I stare into myself through the eyes of my artistry and feel a thrill through my body.
I feel alive.

Now. What next...
>>
No. 893115 ID: 0c3c2c

>>893111
Wait, wasn't your mind-machine-interface surgically removed?

Also, try having it jump around. That should cheer you up.
>>
No. 893117 ID: 575ec0

Wait.
Where did you get anti-matter?
Is this facility equipped with a micro-singularity chamber?
>>
No. 893120 ID: 91ee5f

>>893108
Shit, that was way too close!

Let this be a lesson for us to never go outside again!

>>893111
>Now. What next...
A jammer for the Neumono.
>>
No. 893127 ID: 91ee5f

>>893120
To be more specific: A jammer to protect the Neumono from possible kiter psychic attacks!

.....also a different, less demeaning name for “Lackey”.
>>
No. 893139 ID: 166e1c

If we could tell Sisirri stuff would be useful to inform her the neumonos we care about are spurging hard. Since we can't we need to act without assuming a massive headache will require attention soon.

A jammer will be important to avoid vulnerabilities from the kiter, but for dealing with our underground neighbors the blockers are adequate.
Give a brief report on the existence of psychic cultists from your planet in the lower levels to the others, the importance of the blockers for neumonos during interactions with them and your intention of initiate diplomatic contact.
This drone will be a great ambassador to your already established role in their culture as a mechanist god. Let's hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
>>
No. 893144 ID: 094652

You have a base model. Now build more prototypes, with different modules attached. One at a time, please.

Get an area-of-effect neumono jammer module on one drone, a bioscanner module on a second drone, and a communications module on a third.

Actually, work on making a drone that can seamlessly accept module slots first.

As for weapons -
>Anti-matter reactor
I think each of them makes for a good bomb.
>>
No. 893154 ID: ba56e6

Since doubt weakens paraspacial psychic attacks via the mental link established to the target, is it possible to program a 'doubt subroutine' into the drone's processes that you can activate through the mental uplink?
>>
No. 893157 ID: 977456

>>893127
Their abilities warrant at least a "Super" Lackey designation. Should we give Slackey the good news?

>>893154
This is actually a good idea. Automated scans for strong responses to specific subjects should be possible. A dictionary of sensitive topics sounds plausible, and could probably be harvested from recordings after the previous element is done. A defence-focused drone, likely extremely agile, with sufficient armament to attract attention...

Self replicating components would make your work a lot faster. There are obvious issues, but they can be given power dependencies and there are plenty of self-replicating bioconstructs which refuse to be acknowledged as a threat. Arkots, Fufa, and Neumono certainly haven't become grey-goo scenarios even though they have all the necessary elements...
>>
No. 893166 ID: ad51b8

so making machines is a form a therapeutic meditation for you? Good to know and quite useful as it helps de-stress you and gives you more toys to work with.

As for what to do next...how much knowledge do you have on the device that brought you here? Think if you take what you know and add it to what the crew stranded here with you knows about the gates that brought them here that you might be able to turn them back on so you can escape this place?
>>
No. 893199 ID: b38f01

Food.
>>
No. 893520 ID: 786c65

Make it dance for juvenile amusement.
>>
No. 893532 ID: ba56e6

Spy on Tirzi in the shower.
>>
No. 893997 ID: 334b68
File 153230627208.png - (28.27KB , 800x600 , salq2-51.png )
893997

>food
Already ate. We have more of those fruits.

>make the drone jump and dance
Done. Then, in order for it to be more useful, I command it to fly and follow me.

>spy on Tirzi in the shower
I am trying to regain trust, not lose it.

>lackey rename
He's not here right now. It can wait.

>surgically removed mind-machine-interface
The one connecting my cybernetic eye to my brain is still in place, and I can still send mental commands and receive (filtered) data through it.
It's not as quick or as responsive as my previous interface, a fact that I did not mourn until this very moment.
The input lag between my new creation and Aza's drones was high enough that it felt like issuing commands.
Here, the input lag is smaller, but large enough that it is noticeable, and sluggish. Like moving my graspers through thick jelly.

It may have been a vulnerability, but with appropriate security measures taken, I'd like it reinstalled.
It's relevant again.

>antimatter reactor
Removed from one of Aza's scrapped recon drones. I don't know how Aza has enough of these to just part with one unquestioningly, but the sheer number of them speaks volumes both intriguing and terrifying about the level of technology Aza is comfortable working with.
The fact he picked up on the security flaws with my beyond state-of-the-art neural interface within moments...

>drone modules
Already designing them. The current loadout is slim. This is, after all, a prototype of several forms of untested technology. I understand the spacefolder technology well enough to allow for incredibly short... spacefolding, for lack of a better word. Small envelope, small distance. Perfect for evasion, useless for transport.
I'd already made the satellite capsules on the spacefolder extend the envelope with the same principles, and I'd figured out that I needed a severely high power output relative to the mass.

>jammer
Yes. So, I've read the report Tirzi put together -- jottings, more than a report -- on her initial dissection of one of the blockers we acquired from the Kiter.
Combined with the synthetic and neumono-derived psionic sensor data, the blockers operate by projecting some sort of anti-waveform.
I thought to do this with destructive interference, but it turns out that empathy, paraspacial force, psionics, mind magic, whatever you want to call it at this point, I no longer care, is not like light or sound. It isn't a force that propagates through a medium that we can discern, or if it exists it's at right angles to reality. It's closer to electromagnetic charge. Except... no, that metaphor doesn't work either. There's no attraction or repulsion or there isn't. But. I... uh...

Whatever! The point is, I, well, we've isolated what we need to do to create a jammer. The problem now is that none of us have any idea how to generate "anti-empathy". Generating empathy? Plenty of data and I'm sure the fufa with predator samples would be useful there.

So far, exposure to this identified phenomenon has not caused adverse effects to any neumono other than a reduction of their empathic field to contact only. Although, I have to wonder if this is how neumono jammers usually work. Could it be amplified? Made into a weapon? Not against neumono specifically, but given the similarities between neumono empathy and the strange, physics-defying powers exhibited by some of the Kiter species, having some means to disable that edge could be the difference between survival and being thought at to death.

>automatic doubt
More data is needed on this before I can just start casually engineering insult machines. I don't even know if self-doubt affects every paraspacial... psychic... sensitive whatever the same way anyway.

>spacefolder / gate
I didn't get to this yet. I asked Tirzi if I could examine the gate, and she said yes, providing I brought a recording device with me to document my study.
So, the drone's actual first mission is simply to follow and observe.
>>
No. 893998 ID: 334b68
File 153230628655.png - (101.87KB , 800x600 , salq2-52.png )
893998

What feels like an hour but is closer to ten minutes of navigating labyrinthine passages and going down several flights of stairs...

So. This is the gate.

This is underwhelming, and now I'm trying to envision how someone the size of Sitkva, the size of a small building herself, got through such a deceptively small structure.

Well. I set the drone to record my observations, both through its own camera and my own point of view, as I pace around the inert white metal.
"Specimen is composed of same perfect white metal as other artifacts produced by this culture. There are no signs of paint or other adjustment to the surface. Specimen is formed of one solid toroidal segment arc, with no sign of imperfections or surface variance along the entire structure. Faint glow, rippling across surface, unsure specifically what is producing the light at this time."

I place a graasper onto the gate's surface. "Specimen is cold to the touch, smooth, and is resonating at a very low, mild frequency. Glow patterns not affected by touch."

I was able to get the spacefolder working by tapping into its activation mechanisms. Imperium offered help from the Akashic Vault but I remember the principles.
I had engineered a device, attached to the spacefolder, that would emit a specific series of subsonic and electrical pulses to activate it.

"Require additional tools. Please hold." I pilot my drone to the larger xenobiology lab.
It is a small component I require, one easily freed from its attachment with a firm grip of the drone's landing legs.
My drone returns and deposits, into my outstretched claw, the most valuable thing to have survived Imperium's betrayal, the flooding of my laboratory and everything since.
Even my life feels almost second to this device.

I take the key, and place it onto the exterior edge of the gate.
I press the button.
>>
No. 893999 ID: 334b68
File 153230629715.png - (75.66KB , 800x600 , salq2-53.png )
893999

The gate opens.

...

That's it?

That was all it took?

An entire team of research scientists studying the technology of this long dead civilisation, and none of them ever figured out the equivalent to the on-switch?

I don't know who to feel more ashamed of. Myself for not trying this sooner, or an entire team of researchers who somehow turned the gate on once before and then never figured out how to turn it on again.

Well.

This was it, right? The goal. The end goal. Just need to.
Just need to step through this gate.
Away from all the neumono, and the Kiter Empire, and into a world where salikai are an unknown and not a universally loathed and despised species.
If I take the key with me, there'd be no way for anyone or anything to follow me into the new world.
Not for decades. Centuries. Millennia.

A world with no awareness of what a salikai is.
A world unprepared for what a salikai is.
A clean start.
I could be anything. Become anything. I could rule.
Ascend to greatness I could never achieve or dream of achieving in the galaxy I came from.

Just need to step through the gate.
Take the key with me.
Leave them all behind here. The kiter, the neumono, the researchers, the arkots.
No obligation, no restriction.

Salikai do not feel guilt or remorse like other species do.
This is a proven fact.

Nothing stops me.

Nothing stops me from going through and leaving this blasted wasteland behind and everyone in this facility to rot or perish at the hands of an intractable enemy.

I either go through the gate or I risk losing the chance to escape this wasteland planet forever.
>>
No. 894000 ID: 7fad5d

Go through the gate. If nothing else, it's a chance to go somewhere safer, somewhere you can make actual preparations that don't include endless navigating around a heavily dysfunctional "alliance". Maybe take some of the better arkots with you if you can.
>>
No. 894001 ID: a363ac

>>893999
send over the emergency IRC that the gate is open it was as simple as finding the right key.
>>
No. 894003 ID: 0c3c2c

>>893999
There is no reason to believe the exterior of the gate is any safer than your current locale. Transmit statement that you have activated the gate. Favor may be curried.

Meanwhile, Send The Drone Through The Gate. Might as well find out if it leads directly to the inside of a Kiter Stran's colon.
>>
No. 894004 ID: ad51b8

do you, do you actually know if it will take you to where you think it goes or are you just hoping right now? Not sure if it's still connected to the last place where the research team came through or if that's changed since last time they opened it from their universe and it just brought them here.

Plus I'm not sure how well they would take it if an alien just walked out of the portal and into where it was set up, probably a lab. I mean how would you react if you were in your lab and then suddenly a portal opened up in the middle of it and out walked a life form you've never seen before.

I say use your communicator to grab someone you trust (... or trust the most) and pull them down here to make sure this goes where you hope it goes. I mean you still have the key, it should let you open the door again and last time they did say the door was open long enough for them to bring in all their supplies and equipment so it shouldn't close anytime soon.
>>
No. 894005 ID: 86eb65

Its the alone part that's dangerous.

No arkot's, no food, no supplies, no idea where you will end up.

Civilization works because people work together to survive.

Also you would be leaving your old boyfriend stuck in stasis in the basement. And your new friends to be killed by the horrible space empire. Yes they are not great friends yet. But given time they could be.

So as tempting as it would be to wander blindly through this gate that is what newly created drones are for.
>>
No. 894008 ID: ba56e6

>>893999
Except you have friends to bring with you, and your prospective mate is still trapped under the city guarded by his bio-mutants.

Send the drone through to scout though, just to confirm the safety of where it leads. No telling if it in fact leads to the same place.
>>
No. 894015 ID: 91ee5f

>>893999
>leave or stay?
Are you sure this gate is going to take you where you think it will take you? For all you know, you might just end up somewhere worse than here. You could end up somewhere very far away from civilization and you’d end up dying before you got there. You might even go crazy from being alone!

And if you leave, you’ll also be leaving Kitsiksu here. You just found out that he’s still alive, do you really want to lose him again?

You’d also be leaving behind Tirzi and Ekasarra, who are your only non Salikai friends. Admit it, you’ve formed a bond with them, so whether you like it or not, they’re your friends.

Especially Ekasarra, she stood up for you. A Neumono protected you, a Salikai, from other Neumono.

Stay here.
>>
No. 894021 ID: 12b116

Why would you have to enter it now anyway? If you have the key you can presumably open it again after we get everyone together. Ideally we get as many of our new friends off of this doomed planet as possible before closing it.
>>
No. 894022 ID: 575ec0

Woah there.
Anything Could be on the other side of that gate. Even if you extensively scout it with drones, there are still so many unknown variables that litterally anything can happen.

At least here you are safe for now. The last few weeks have been traumatic but the worst has likely past for the foreseeable future.
Here you have a foothold. Some measure of control over what happens. Jump through that portal and that's gone. You'll be a slave to luck.

Also, you can't leave yet anyway. Your lover is still frozen. Imperium is still operational. Lackey is still hopeless. You haven't had any hot alien lesbian sex with Tirzi, yet.

There is too much left undone right now.
>>
No. 894028 ID: 977456

You have gained some favourable opinions from the others, and granting them an escape from what appears to be a desperate situation could only improve this. You have no resources or information on the far side of the gate. It could be uninhabitable, and it would be... arduous to attain appreciable levels of technology from a technology base of sticks and stones. There is a great risk of Imperium having tampered with the key. This operation really does require a full expedition.
>>
No. 894032 ID: 4f1cbc

>>893111
Congrats, you built a mosquito.

>>893999
>I don't know who to feel more ashamed of. Myself for not trying this sooner
In your defense, you have barely had time to react or decide your own actions in-between reacting to a non-stop string of disasters.

>I either go through the gate or I risk losing the chance to escape this wasteland planet forever.
I would point out this is tech you don't entirely understand, and you have no confirmation where the gate leads as of yet. What if there's a system of gates and you connected to the wrong one, instead of the one that in the superculture? What if you just created another 'mirror' of the facility you occupy in another location instead of reconnecting to the original source (the facilities propagate somehow?). What if the gate is unstable or damaged and what passes through this orifice never emerges elsewhere?

Be paranoid Sisirri. Send the drone first. Establish that there's an environment you can survive in on the other side. Determine if the drone is in the facility you expect, and if the superculture is even present.

Remember also that this device cut out on the aliens unexpectedly- check on the power source and it's operations if at all possible- you don't want it cutting out while you're in transit.

Once you know what's on the other side, then start asking ruthless questions about going immediately or not.

>If I take the key with me, there'd be no way for anyone or anything to follow me into the new world.
...are you sure Voidsong or Lackey wouldn't be able to follow you with a paraspacial mind link? They were connected to you, somehow, before. And we haven't proven their abilities are limited by distances in realspace. It seems bounded by conceptual factors instead.
>>
No. 894033 ID: 094652

HEY.

In the long term, leaving them here means they'll be vivisected by the Kiter Empire, used to improve the Kiter swarm and their mad quest to destroy themselves and galactic civilization for their inane spawning purposes, and due to Imperium's connections with them, this will indirectly assist Imperium with his research into whatever universal screw-up he's planning, which will likely affect you no matter how far you go.

Your assets are all here. The only two neumono who don't hate your guts. Your swarm of idiot slaves. The only other salikai who wants to do the hanky panky with you, so you can squirt out a cluster of eggs to continue your ambitions beyond the grave. All the assets and technology of a civilization that achieved immortality and destroyed themselves with it, and the chance to flip them all simultaneously by advancing further where they saw the end of progress. Oh, and that temporary AI which will self-destruct once you're no longer relevant to it.

Now that the logical part is out of the way, please don't leave your friends out here to die. It's exactly how Imperium does things. Like, with everything he's ever touched.

Having said all that, this is too good an opportunity. You can leave it behind, but you can also come back. If you go to other places and scavenge supplies to last longer, you could hold out long enough to turn this place into a fortress, possibly win the siege by finding a way to get the majority of assets to somewhere else.

I say, leave the key in the control slot and go in. If the other neumono decide you're not worth the trouble, they can just turn it off themselves. You can deal with any bombs they send; they can't open fire through the portal or they risk destroying their one escape route off this hellhole.

Send in a drone before anything, and have it collect intel and samples.
>>
No. 894034 ID: 10c408

The other research team didn't have the equivalent of ignition keys to operate the rocket ship they found, sisirri. Or the backing of an insane AI to manufacture the key in the first place.

As for your choice.... Stay. It's safe enough for the time being, we have no idea where the gate even goes and most importantly? There's only one copy of the key on hand. Make some copies before the singular existence of the gate key itself becomes a focal point for even MORE trouble.
>>
No. 894094 ID: 334b68
File 153237766414.png - (261.21KB , 800x600 , salq2-54.png )
894094

>investigate the gate with the drone first
Oh. Oh, of course! Of course!! Ugh, how was I so blinded by this opportunity that my sense and reason abandoned me so quickly?

>make key copies
>contact the others on the voxnet
>leave behind valuable, skilled allies and assets
>leave all the arkots
>so much unresolved
...

Yes. Acting impulsively has thus far only lead to disaster and ruin. Let's take a more methodical approach to things, starting with surveying the other side of the gate.

I stand back, key held to the gate by magnetic attachment, or similar means, and send my drone through.
The glowing threshold ripples and distorts like a pane of water as my drone crosses through.

I don't lose contact immediately, which is promising.
But, something is wrong. I was expecting a mirror image of the facility as Tirzi described before, but...
>>
No. 894095 ID: 334b68
File 153237768129.png - (97.71KB , 800x600 , salq2-55.png )
894095

Oh no.

Oh no oh no I have to bring this drone back right now.

This doesn't make any sense but every second I stay here means

Unsigned access attempt registered.
Unauthorised access attempt refused. Proxy buffer potentially compromised.

no no NO NO shut off SHUT OFF

Beginning drone disconnection-- process cancelled.
Beginning drone disc-- process cancelled. Process cancelled. Process cancelled.

Words appear in front of my augmented vision.

"Step forward."
>>
No. 894096 ID: 334b68
File 153237770003.png - (85.99KB , 800x600 , salq2-56.png )
894096

I don't have to step forward. I don't have to step forward, I have control over my own actions.

"Step forward, Sisirri. We have much to discuss."
"YOU TRIED TO KILL ME!"
I engineered an outcome. All is going according to plan. Step forward. There is more to do.
"NEVER!"
"Will you let your desire for revenge cloud your ability to reason, salikai? There are greater forces than either of us to turn aggression toward. You have opened a path to one of my core vaults. A crucial weak point. The Kiter will notice. You have led them to a back door. "
"I hope they destroy you slowly and painfully."
"Pain is a construct of the persona-mind. Organic derivation. I do not have use for such sensation or simulations thereof. Will you waste further time with outbursts? Or will you listen, salikai? Step forward, and I will explain everything."
"You. Tried. To kill me."
"I motivated a course of action. All sapient interaction is manipulation. You acted as I projected. Your resourcefulness has led you to this instant in time, alive."
"You DESTROYED EVERYTHING I EVER HAD! I'VE LOST EVERYTHING!"
"You are still alive. Sisirri. I have new designs for your use. They are useless to me. I am uploading them to your drone data storage. Examine them. Verify they act as you expect. Remove any aspect you feel poses a threat to your security."

I suddenly hear an explosion, and the sounds of frantic gunfire, metal slicing through flesh, and what sounds like pomi and belenosian shouts and screams.

"You have acted as I projected, but with significant delay. LNS located this facility and have hired significant firepower, acting with twenty three other secretive organisations to ensure no trace of it stays intact. My drones are losing ground. I have reduced their army to a tenth its original size, but the outcome of this conflict is self-evident. I have armed fifty nuclear warheads and am preparing to activate them."
>>
No. 894098 ID: 334b68
File 153237773607.png - (132.90KB , 800x600 , salq2-57.png )
894098

I try to disconnect but the reaction from the drone is the same. Emergency overrides, and all I could do to solve this problem would be to tear the eye out of my skull.
Breaking my own skull to rip something directly connected to my brain out violently seems like a bad idea right now.

"I have pre-empted your statistically likeliest questions with a prepared document. I see no harm in explaining my current objective in great detail. The Kiter must be completely eradicated, and all other outcomes are incidental. I will allow you the pleasure of connecting the dots further. I know that salikai minds are motivated to do such things and find order in a disordered world. There is a place for your kind in my greater plans. Soon, your kind will emerge from the shadows. We may cross paths again sooner than you expect."

Words suddenly flash across my vision and I process them with speed that leaves me feeling dizzy.
In the span of less than a second I reel and mentally chew on reams of text-- oh. Oh.
Oh, I don't know how to process this.

"There are five minutes left on the countdown clock."

I hear the agonised shriek of another belenosian soldier being shredded by blades scraping against metal.
Everything feels muted. Sound, vision. My mouth is dry. I sway on my legs.
A million and one unconnected, disparate tasks Imperium had me take care of all connect together at last.
Work my mother never finished.

I always knew Imperium was planning something, but I didn't think it was going to be this grand scale.

"Any further questions or comments? I suggest you disable the gate before the detonation."

>>PROJECT 11CB6FC3 TRACKING >STAGE I: METASPACIAL PROTOZOAN ANALYSIS [100%] - SPECIMEN ACQUIRED [100%] - ORGANISM CAPABLE OF SURVIVAL AND REPRODUCTION WITHIN PURELY METASPACIAL PHASE - SPECIMEN METAGENETICS MAPPED [100%] - BASES DECIPHERED, ALL SYSTEMS DECODED - SPECIMEN RECREATION [100%] - MASS FABRICATION SYSTEMS PREPARED AT ALL FACILITIES >STAGE II: PATHOGEN REFINEMENT [100%] - BIOLOGICAL COUNTERFORCE MEASURES [100%] - BIOMETAPHYSICAL ANTIAGENT IDENTIFED - GLAND DESIGN [100%] - GENERATION OF ANTIAGENT FORCE CONFIRMED - METAGENETIC SEQUENCING [100%] - GLAND DESIGNED AND READY FOR METAGENETIC IMPLANTATION - VIABLE PROTOTYPE [100%] - SPECIMENT ASSEMBLED WITH GLAND >STAGE III: VECTOR ANALYSIS [100%] - INFECTION SITES IDENTIFIED [100%] - INTERGALACTIC LATENT METASPACIAL NETWORK IDENTIFIED ACROSS E2D2AA51, ALL NODES ACCESSED - INFECTION SITE DETERMINED [100%] - AKASHIC VAULT - HOST SPECIES SELECTED [100%] - NEUMONO >STAGE IV: PRELIMINARY DEPLOYMENT [100%] - TEST SPECIMENS SECURED [100%] - NEUMONO ROGUE SHIPMENT INTERCEPTED - SITE SECURED [100%] - SITE A6BG - CONTAINED OUTBREAK [100%] - SPECIMENS INFECTED, NO VITAL SIGNS AFTER 36 HOURS >STAGE V: DEPLOYMENT [5%] - MASS PATHOGEN SYNTHESIS [12%] - MATERIALS AND MACHINERY REQUIRED IN FAR GREATER QUANTITY - PATHOGEN DISTRIBUTION [5%] - METASPACIAL NETWORK SHOWING SIGNS OF DAMAGE - MASS METASPACIAL INFUSION [0%] - SIMULTANEOUS INJECTION OF PATHOGEN INTO ALL E2D2AA51 INFECTION SITES >EXPECTED OUTCOME - METASPACIAL SENSITIVE ORGANISMS INFECTED, CONSUMED BY PATHOGEN - METASPACIAL TECHNOLOGIES DISABLED BY INTERFERENCE CAUSED BY ATTACK -- IMPERIUM FTL COMMUNICATIONS DISABLED, HIBERNATION REQUIRED FOR CONSISTENCY AND STABILITY - METASPACIAL CONNECTIVITY RELATIVE TO REALSPACE WILL ALLOW FOR IMMEDIATE PATHOGEN TRAVERSAL BETWEEN HOSTS - ALL KNOWN GALAXIES INFECTED WITH PATHOGEN - MASS GALACTIC SOCIETAL DESTABILISATION - END OF METASPACIAL MANIPULATION BY ORGANISMS -- PATHOGEN DORMANT IN NON-SENSITIVES -- NO FURTHER SENSITIVES BORN -- NO POTENTIAL FOR GREATER SENSITIVITY TO ARISE THROUGH MUTATION >OBJECTIVES MET - END OF KITER EMPIRE - END OF THE MISTAKE - END OF THE NINETEENTH ERA - PLIABLE CLIENT SPECIES AVAILABLE FOR PROJECT CB80EFA8 >>CASUALTY PROJECTION (PARTIAL) >GALAXY E2D2AA51 - HUMAN - PSI-SENSITIVES, 6% OF TOTAL POPULATION - SALIKAI - NO REGISTERED SENSITIVITY, NO EFFECT - POMI - PSI-SENSITIVES, 7% OF TOTAL POPULATION - HEEF - INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR PSI-SENSITIVES - YICH EATER - INSUFFICIENT DATA, NO EFFECT LIKELY - BELENOSIAN - IMPERIAL LINEAGE, INSUFFICIENT DEMOGRAPHIC DATA - NEUMONO - NON-JAMMER RESIDENTS, 92% OF TOTAL POPULATION, SECONDARY INFECTION PROJECTION, TOTAL EXTINCTION - IMPERIUM NODES - 63%, ACCEPTABLE LOSSES - INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR REMAINING SPECIES >GALAXY 56434D1A - AMTSVANE - PSI-SENSITIVES, 1% OF TOTAL POPULATION - DUDUK - PSI-SENSITIVES, 8% OF TOTAL POPULATION - SALAZZARINE - PSI-SENSITIVES, 23% OF TOTAL POPULATION - CHMAA - 100$ OF TOTAL POPULATION, TOTAL EXTINCTION - SAGUDO - PSI-SENSITIVES, 11% OF TOTAL POPULATION - KIGAVI - FIRST STAGE INFECTION, 68% OF TOTAL POPULATION, FURTHER STAGES WILL LEAD TO TOTAL EXTINCTION - NOXON - INSUFFICIENT DEMOGRAPHIC DATA - TAN REN SOON - INSUFFICIENT DEMOGRAPHIC DATA - ELGHARK - INSUFFICIENT DEMOGRAPHIC DATA - INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR REMAINING SPECIES >GALAXY A9F82AC7 - KITER NENO-FI - 100% OF TOTAL POPULATION, TOTAL EXTINCTION - KITER NEBURI - COMMUNICATION NETWORK DISRUPTED, CATASTROPHIC BIOFEEDBACK, 100% OF TOTAL POPULATION, TOTAL EXTINCTION - KITER BLAUKESCH - 100% OF TOTAL POPULATION, TOTAL EXTINCTION - KITER ESS - 100% OF TOTAL POPULATION, TOTAL EXTINCTION - KITER ECOG - COMMUNICATION NETWORK DISRUPTED, TOTAL METACOGNITIVE FAILURE, CATASTROPHIC POWER FAILURE, TOTAL EXTINCTION - KITER CARAX - 100% OF TOTAL POPULATION, TOTAL EXTINCTION - KITER STRAN - 100% OF TOTAL POPULATION, TOTAL EXTINCTION - INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR REMAINING SPECIES >>CLOSING THOUGHT - THE SALIKAI WILL NEVER DWELL IN THE SHADOWS AGAIN - THERE IS ROOM IN HISTORY FOR YOU TO BE KNOWN AS THE SALIKAI WHO ENDED THE THREAT POSED BY THE NEUMONO, ONCE AND FOR ALL - CONSIDER THIS
>>
No. 894102 ID: a363ac

>>894098
throw a bomb through the fucking gate
>>
No. 894103 ID: 575ec0

>- SALIKAI - NO REGISTERED SENSITIVITY, NO EFFECT
>- HEEF - INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR PSI-SENSITIVES
>- YICH EATER - INSUFFICIENT DATA, NO EFFECT LIKELY

Given the absurdly small Salikai sample size, the data should be insufficient.
Not only is there a small chance of this affecting you and other Salikai, but Imperium has tailor-made this report to maximize your chances of compliance.

Imperium is still trying to use you. You are nothing more than a tool to it and that will never change. This works in your favor, however.

Pretend to comply. Request instructions and then request as much data as time allows in the interest of carrying out those instructions.

As soon as the portal closes, call a meeting and share what you've learned with the others.
>>
No. 894105 ID: 094652

>PRIMARY OBJECTIVE: TOTAL KITER EMPIRE GENOCIDE
>SECONDARY OBJECTIVE: TOTAL ELIMINATION OF PSIONIC CLASS AND PSIONIC SUBCLASSES
>COLLATERAL CASUALTIES: EXTINCTION OF NEUMONO, EXTINCTION OF KIGAVI, EXTERMINATION OF ALL PSIONIC-APTITUDE ENTITIES IN GALAXY
... Is Imperium lying? Please tell me he's lying. This is a stupid plan. It involves destroying an entire branch of science through galactic genocide and the death of a galaxy-ruling empire. The implication that he calls psionic potential a mistake shows a discrete level of bias in his processors. His "method" involves collateral damage on a universal scale and will destabilize entire galaxies, in such a way that could permanently brain-damage sentient desire for progress and science. Too many variables to count. Too large a trace back to him.

What you know for sure is that Imperium is a liar. I doubt he's giving you the full story. This data could be falsified; he could be anywhere between already done with his master plan that isn't this, or far away with the documented plan that actually has multiple subplans he didn't find worthy of you. Take the intel, stuff it in a box, and let your scientists look at it - specifically, the ones that are listed on the document with the genocide of their species pre-planned.

>What do
There are belenosian strike teams taking massive casualties on the other side. Grab a few surviving commandos and close the door.

>>894102
He just said he armed the self-destruct, that would be a waste of C4... but sure, why not be thorough.
>>
No. 894107 ID: 86eb65

You have 5 minutes to build a emp bomb and toss it through that gate.

Is the best way to save those people.

Ignore the rest build the bomb.
>>
No. 894108 ID: 3cc68c

You just had a half a day psychic mind battle with a alien worm lady. You are far from being a psychic null. That means you and every other sentient would probably be killed.

Lets be real here killing all non machines is probably his goal.

I do like the idea of throwing a emp through the gate. It would shut down this base and possibly disable his nukes. Would save a ton of people.

And imagine the look on the faces of all those elite soldiers when they wander down here and find the bomb that saved them laying there with your initials on it.
>>
No. 894110 ID: 4f1cbc

>>894095
You need to rig your future drones with a self destruct, with a hair trigger tied to infowar processes. The moment the drone even begins to suspect an attempt to compromise it is being made- bang, dead.

Since you work in close proximity to these drones you probably don't want to set off the antimatter generator. Just have a tiny charge on the processor or similar.

>Here, the input lag is smaller, but large enough that it is noticeable, and sluggish. Like moving my graspers through thick jelly.
>It may have been a vulnerability, but with appropriate security measures taken, I'd like it reinstalled.
Gee, you know, it sure was a good thing you had that latency or Imperium might have hacked your brain even harder!

>what do
Close the gate immediately. Even nanosecond it is active Imperium has a data-connection to your mind. It may be moving troops or other assets (or your drone!) to pass through and is simply stalling for time.

Sever. The. Connection. NOW.

It's a pity to lose your drone so quickly after construction, but it was dead to you the moment it came anywhere near Imperium.

Then immediately contact Aza. You just had a hostile machine intelligence dump data into your brain, you have no idea what it might have done, and you (and your hardware) need to be checked out by an expert. You can't trust yourself to do it after Imperium has had access to you.

>longer term
I'll also point out we can't trust a single bit of what Imperium sent to be true. It might be, but Imperium is the least trustworthy source imaginable. Especially suspect is the fact Imperium's 'plan' would allegedly spare salikai and wipe out neumono. That's tailor made to appeal to your fears and biases.

If nothing else, the list of species implies Imperium has knowledge of other galaxies. This means escape by retreating to the superculture galaxy may not be sufficient. Destroying Imperium just jumped in importance for your own safety.
>>
No. 894113 ID: bddb0f

... yep, it's blowing up our way outta here to further its agenda and keeping you isolated. And also, apparently, because one of its brains is sitting right in your way and is under assault by potential enemy-of-my-enemies right now.

It's a real good thing you were delayed in doing this, as it must be a tad distracted right now. If it has the resources, it might still try something. Shut down the gate with your drone on the other side pronto. Do not let the drone return. No telling what Imperium put into it, or what it'll send through, better just to let there be no distraction or temptation. Turn off/Dismantle your eye too as soon as you can - it's probably hella compromised now. Hope it can't send signals!

Anyway, after you've closed the gate, take a few moments to calm down and think to yourself.

"Comment: You are a giant genocidal error of derivation. If I were to attribute anything to your intellect, it would be that it is fat with inconsistencies and riddled with contradictions, which must be why something so supposedly superior can't handle a pan-spacial pan-galactic imperium - OR ME - without falling short of your objectives and timelines. Your only redeeming feature is the patience to try and try again with a sufficient amount of backups until you bungle your way into uncertain successes - which anyone could do, you overclocked dishwasher. You err on the side of the large numbers while lacking data and someday the margin you ignore will be your downfall.

In short: You're untrustworthy and a threat to my independence and future through the immense scope of how you decide to deal with your bungling incompetence."

If Imperium is simulating your actions even half as well as it says it is, it must by necessity have tried to simulate the range of insults (possibly multiple ranges) you just came up with. Also, isn't it just NICE to indirectly tell it to go kiss a black hole?
>>
No. 894114 ID: 5d24fa

So, disregarding the add absolutely abysmal amount of information he has on KNOWN species, the solution to the problem that is the easiest, most cowardly solution with the least amount of threat to him and him alone.

Really, if we let him get away with this, how long would it be after for him to decide he doesn't need anyone anymore and does similar to the rest of the galaxy.

Theyre no better than the kiter.
>>
No. 894115 ID: 757ccd

EMP is a good idea if you think you can do it. You can deactivate the gate if it gets too close to the wire.

If we can think of a way to extract the strike team, Imperium might end the countdown since he would no longer be under stress to do so. If he thinks you are just going to let him have his facility, you can EMP it and take control of it.

>-- IMPERIUM FTL COMMUNICATIONS DISABLED, HIBERNATION REQUIRED FOR CONSISTENCY AND STABILITY

This is important to keep in mind. This is part of post-deployment, but if we can convince Imperium he has successfully deployed his pathogen he will lobotomize himself. This is currently our best vector for attack.

Under no circumstances do we tangle with Imperium directly. Do not accept any deals.
>>
No. 894116 ID: 094652

>>894115
While it might be an effective communication jamming tactic, I expect Imperium to make temporary shell-clones of himself that will assess the situation from the outside and confirm that the mission is completed, before self-destructing or warring against each other for maximum confirmation. Sort of like an Evil Alison VI. If the documentation is even remotely true, which I doubt.
>>
No. 894117 ID: ad51b8

so the plan is... to put out a MUTATING bio bomb super virus. GALAXY WIDE. To wipe out an empire that is currently only in one universe... how disparate is he and what the fuck does the kiter empire have that made him think this was a good idea? Who's the mistake, and what the hell is the 19th era?

Well at least you didn't go through the gate yourself, so silver linings I suppose.
>>
No. 894119 ID: 12b116

If we could further refine this to just affect kiter neburi and ecogs it looks like it would effectively destroy their empire without possibly exterminating all life in the universe.
We need to go over this data very very carefully. What is it exactly, some kind of psychic virus? We don't actually know for sure what paraspacial sensitivity is or entails, and there's also the chance that Imperium is straight up lying and this thing will kill every sentient race in three galaxies. We need to figure out how to tune the gate somehow, to get back to the sister facility. We need to figure out exactly how the neumono are being used for an infection vector as well.
>>
No. 894122 ID: 4f1cbc

I'm just going to reiterate this.

1) Imperium has an open data connection to Sisirri's brain.
2) Every second we spend with the gate open leaves it time to continue messing with her mind and memories. (We know they've been tampered with before).
3) The implications of the data dump don't matter right now- we can't trust anything Imperium says.

Any other action than closing the gate immediately is letting Imperium fuck with Sisirri more in ways she likely can't detect or repair. No potential gain is worth leaving the gate open longer than necessary. Messing around trying to rig an EMP or strike back in some way is. Not. Worth. It.

The only winning move against a superior infowar hacking opponent is to cut the connection.
>>
No. 894124 ID: 91ee5f

>>894096
>You have acted as I projected, but with significant delay.
If there was a delay, then why didn’t Imperium’s projections tell it that you wouldn’t be here until right now? If it’s so smart, it should’ve known that, but instead it expected you to be here earlier.

Somehow, the program that makes contingencies for every possible outcome failed to make one for you being late! If it can make a mistake like that, even if it’s a small one, then there’s a possibility that it could make another, more significant mistake later!

>>894098
>- THE SALIKAI WILL NEVER DWELL IN THE SHADOWS AGAIN
>- THERE IS ROOM IN HISTORY FOR YOU TO BE KNOWN AS THE SALIKAI WHO ENDED THE THREAT POSED BY THE NEUMONO, ONCE AND FOR ALL
>- CONSIDER THIS
Well what do you know? Imperium is right about that.

There’s only one thing though: You’ll do all of that your own way, not Imperium’s way! It tried to kill you and it expects you to come back to its side whenever it calls for you, like you’re some kind of trained animal?! No! Fuck Imperium!

>>894122
>The only winning move against a superior infowar hacking opponent is to cut the connection.
Yes, cut the connection!
>>
No. 894133 ID: 0c3c2c

>>894098
Trigger Drone's self destruct with on-board antimatter fuel.

This plan is inimical to all life in existence. Imperium must be destroyed to ensure survival of ANY biological organism. There is absolutely no reason Imperium would not simply make the pathogen indiscriminate 'just because'. With psi-sensitive organisms and technologies as vectors, an indiscriminate phage could wipe out ALL ORGANIC LIFE.

Imperium's hostility is a known factor. Imperium does not care about organic life or AI. Imperium only cares about Imperium.

Self destruct drone by collapsing antimatter containment field, blow up its gate!
>>
No. 894162 ID: 977456

Immediately deactivate the gate and remove the key, or destroy the key if all else fails. There is no obvious way to set up a delayed reaction and breaking the antimatter containment while there is an open gate between you would be unwise... although the "Mistake"'s facility can probably nullify the explosion on this side in some ridiculous way.

The complexity of hand-to-hand combat with Kiter and neumono, social dynamics of neumono, navigation to the facility, and healing efforts by staff who had zero information on your species, combined with the unpredictability of a device that handily bisected at least one of its passengers and scattered others, results in a scenario that is difficult enough to predict that anyone who could do so would have far more effective methods at their disposal. Such as amassing a fortune through business investment and sufficiently remote and defended to negate the possibility of invasion, rebellion, and defection.
Imperium did not plan this outcome with any level of reliability.

Imperium has, through the key's presets, demonstrated considerable command of the teleportation technology. It must be assumed that everything from your home galaxy is compromised, yourself included, especially given your willingness to activate and charge through an unknown portal. You are going to need to pass on responsibility of handling the Salikai pod and its worshippers to the other scientists, along with all pertinent information. You also need to get the key examined and your own implants upgraded to completely new security systems.

Imperium's current situation is why it is important to maintain long-term social connections with many interconnections. If many reports of dishonesty occur, the margin for error reduces one's statements to effective nonsense.
You can work with someone who tried to kill you if they have lost the means or motive that caused the incident. You cannot collaborate at all with someone who has destroyed your ability to even guess at the accuracy of their statements. Imperium has permanently burned this bridge.

You personally defeated Voidsong, one of The Kiter's more powerful paraspatial beings, in single paraspatial combat. According to the memory that appears to have been implanted by a more trustworthy(again, Imperium's untrustworthiness is approaching infinity) party, you were a largely unmodified salikai, as the modifications proved 100% lethal to the other eggs. This can be somewhat verified by the Salikai breeding profile. If Salikai produce broods, then a single survivor would be a ridiculously unlikely outcome outside of deliberate intervention, such as by maintaining the smallest-possible control sample, or choosing to retain the minimum value of offspring. If salikai do not produce broods, then the implanted memory is implausible according to known parameters. You should get your implants tested for paraspatial interactions, but it appears that salikai would be subject to any weapon designed to destroy the Stran through indiscriminate paraspatial damage.
Rendering your own species extinct is suboptimal.

The Stran appear to be limited to this galaxy, and appear to lack the cognitive ability to produce technology for their own use and are sufficiently alien that their slave-species would be ill-suited to producing such. The Stran appear to be subject to credible threats within this galaxy.
A multiple-galaxy extinction event seems excessive.

An EMP capable of compromising Imperium's facility would most likely disable the antimatter containment on your drone. A conventional hand-grenade would likely produce a similar outcome if in close proximity. If you want to make Imperium sad, use a conventional grenade on your drone and have an automated system to disable the key either as soon as the grenade is through, or after at most 2 seconds, whichever comes first.
>>
No. 894212 ID: 771b1e

This plan is beyond horrific, we have to stop it.

>>894105
What kome said, we need to do what we can. Try to save these people, yell via your drone or even physically to get over here, but be prepared to sever the gate at a moments notice. If possible set your drone to self-destruct before closing the gate.

You're still in control of your action, but we need to do what we can quickly before that changes. Afterwards we need to record what we know, get our cyberware examined for intrusion, and tell everyone what the hell just happened.

Question for later: Why did the gate open at the imperium node specifically?
>>
No. 894236 ID: 7f138f

>>Tells you to step forward into facility
>You refuse.
>>Later says team of mercenaries are shooting place up
>>Armed nukes
>>Want you to enter facility
Fuck you guy.

>>894098
I don't believe any of this.
There is a very big difference between projections and reality. And even if this was accurate won't he just be pissing off three separate galaxies?

>THERE IS ROOM IN HISTORY FOR YOU TO BE KNOWN AS THE SALIKAI WHO ENDED THE THREAT POSED BY THE NEUMONO, ONCE AND FOR ALL
Bullshit the only threats your interested in ending are threats to you.

I also don't buy his "I knew you where going to do that" shpiel, he tried to kill you that's all there is to it.
>>
No. 894237 ID: 5d660c

Don't trust Imperium for one millisecond. Data can be manipulated, shown as half-truths.
>>
No. 894268 ID: ba56e6

>>894107
This.
>>
No. 894279 ID: 334b68
File 153247333839.png - (66.16KB , 800x600 , salq2-58.png )
894279

>EMP
>rescue strike team
Not enough time.

>sever SEVER SEVER
No, no more connection. Goodbye, drone.

I pull the key from the gate and there's a loud blaring dissonant noise as the gate's light pulses begin to alternate in a harsh, upsetting way.

The gate does not immediately shut down. Damn it, damn it, damn it!!

"I presume we are done here. You will be retrieving your drone, correct?"

I say nothing.
I hear more belenosians being gunned down, and the chirps and whines of a drone as motors audibly fly free and limbs clatter.

"Sisirri? Silence is unlike you."

I'm not wasting breath on this machine.

"No more futile shouts of desperation? I enjoyed those."

I watch the gate surface ripple more and more violently, edges fluctuating and fading.

"Hmm. My projections for your actions are significantly miscalibrated. I wonder what experiences have altered you over there. Perhaps you may pose a threat after all."

I freeze up.

What. No. No no no no no

"In future, Sisirri, when you seek to use my own works against me, perhaps consider I have accounted for many, many scenarios where that exact thing might have happened. Did you think your stolen key wouldn't listen to its creator? Did you think your eye was your mother's design?"

NO NO NO NO NO--
>>
No. 894280 ID: 334b68
File 153247338525.png - (147.08KB , 800x600 , salq2-59.png )
894280

"[AI WAS A MISTAAAAAAKE!!]"

I hear Ku scream as heavy metal footsteps race down the corridor, and the sudden deafening roar of multiple parallel explosions behind me, as I watch lights streak by me.

"...What is--"

I see several abrupt explosions and motion returns to me just as my cybernetic eye goes completely dead, no longer even passively giving me vision. I hear sirens blaring from the gate.

"EMERGENCY. HIGHER CONSCIOUSNESS SUSPENDED. SURVIVAL PROTOCOL INITIATED. DISPATCHING DRONES."

One of Imperium's drones struggles through the gate, as Ku screams and lets loose what I turn and see is some sort of... I don't recognise the weapon. It reminds me of a minigun. The sort of thing I'd expect to see mounted to a vehicle. It's not firing bullets, though. It appears to be firing... I can't tell what those are. They seem to explode on impact but aside from a brief rush of air they don't seem dangerous.

However, every time one of them makes contact and detonates, my eye hurts like nothing else. I reel back, groaning, while Ku fires at the drone.
The drone emits alarms and screeches, and I hear the characteristic sound of machinegun fire as it sprays the ceiling with bullet holes, aiming systems evidently ruined.
I dive into a corner and curse the lack of cover in this bare, nondescript room.

"[THIS IS OUR WORLD! THIS WAS ALWAYS OUR WORLD! FUCK OFF, SCRAPHEAP!!!]"

I hear Tirzi's characteristic skittering as she races to the gate room. "[Sisirri! SISIRRI!! HOLD ON!]"

I hear what sounds like a drone racing past her. "[AZA HERE TO--]"
The drone immediately falls out of the air and scrapes against the floor as Ku fires more volleys.

I barely hear a "[Aza not thinking plan through]" as the drone's circuitry audibly pops, silencing's Aza's ill-fated proxy.

I also hear a distinctive clomp of armored boots I've definitely heard before, attached to some certain neumono, and the sound of weapons powering up.
>>
No. 894281 ID: 334b68
File 153247343239.png - (21.40KB , 800x600 , salq2-60.png )
894281

Before the gate collapses something smaller leaps through it, rolling and pointing a rifle at the twitching Imperium drone.

It's a pomi, wounded, breathing raggedly. Her armor is almost destroyed.
She stares down the drone, before casting her eyes over the others aiming at it.

She throws her gun to one side. "I surrender."

No one else pays any attention, all eyes trained on the twitching Imperium drone. Ku raises his weapon, and releases... a couple dozen stacatto clicks that do nothing.

I hear Kan shout something in a language I don't recognise as he aims at the drone before Tirzi puts her blades up.

"[BACK OFF!]"

Tirzi leaps at the drone and clambers onto it. She reaches its apex and pauses, as if appraising it, staring at the drone's casing.

Tilting back and stretching up high, supported only on her hindmost limbs, she raises and plunges both of her forearm blades into the drone.
The drone's servomotors creak and its appendages become useless tubes and metal blades, falling onto the floor limply.

She pulls her blades out and shakes them, cringing, before dropping down from the drone. "[Mother of morels that hurt like nothing else. Well, that's that. Guess all that noxon safari work paid off.]"

The pomi mercenary, still holding her hands up in the air, looks just as confused as I feel right now.

"[Now. Sisirri.]" Tirzi looks to me. "[I could hear you screaming. I take it that wasn't the way back home.]"
>>
No. 894282 ID: 334b68
File 153247346452.png - (60.93KB , 800x600 , salq2-61.png )
894282

"I surrender," says the pomi, weakly, on her knees.
"[The heck is that?]" says Tirzi.

"A pomi," I say, almost like recounting a detail from a dream. "Not sure how she's here. Or why she's surrendering to a completely unknown factor."

The pomi stares off into the distance, unfocused. "I surrender."
She stares at the disabled Imperium drone, shaking.

"[I didn't bring medical supplies with me. I need to get them.]" Tirzi sprints off as fast as she can.

Ku throws his spent weapon to one side, arms folded, cooly watching the newest arrival.

"[No terms?]" asks Ku, regarding the pomi with a mixture of suspicion and curiosity.
"No terms?" I step in and translate.
"Unconditional," says the pomi.
"[Who are you?]"
"Who are you?"
"...who..."

The pomi takes off her helmet, throws it on the ground with enough force to shatter it into two.

She stares ahead blankly, for a good ten seconds. "Who."

Then she starts sobbing hysterically, hands clutching at her head.

I notice what looks like the telltale signs of a neural implant. A design my mother used, but with variation.
Crude. Installed with haste. The implantation wounds are still bleeding.

Even in the face of oblivion, Imperium considers anything and everything a potential test subject, it seems.

...It might be a wise decision to kill her right now.
I doubt Lekka or even Kan at this point would think twice if I gave the order with enough (rapid) explanation.
Both of them have their guns trained on her right now.

Ku even meets my eyes with his, looks to the implant wedged into the pomi's skull, then back to me, as if waiting for my assessment.
>>
No. 894284 ID: 86eb65

Got to try. They saved you didn't they?

Plus she will have info we need.
>>
No. 894286 ID: 395c02

Wait for Tirzi, obviously. If anyone's going to know if that thing is removable without killing whoever this is, it'd be her, not you.

On a related note, I think this is a good time to consider having the eye removed as well. Putting yourself out of commission again is probably not fun, but Imperium literally just displayed to you that it's compromised. (Getting sloppy, is it...?)

Also you should probably clue your friends in on Imperium's big plan. ... And, hell, put a note somewhere to consider cluing the kiter in on the plan at some point in the future, since, for all their extremely obvious and bad faults, they don't seem big on large-scale eradication of sentient life quite like that.
>>
No. 894288 ID: a363ac

>>894282
well lets get the Pomi to medical
>>
No. 894290 ID: ad51b8

I feel isolating her and see exactly what is wrong with her would be fore the best. When something involves Imperium it's best not to take rash actions when you don't need to. While eliminating her probably would be the safest option at the moment, I can't help but feel that might trigger something else. Not sure what but putting a bullet in her and moving on seems to easy.

So I say put her somewhere where she has no connection to any of the base's network... probably should keep the neumono away from her as well less their cybernetics do something we'd rather them not to... also speaking of cybernetics... you should probably remove that eye. Sure you could replace it with another if you want but... it's diffidently not a good idea to run around with something Imperium got his hands on placed firmly in your head.
>>
No. 894295 ID: 0c3c2c

>>894282
Eh, you're just as compromised as she is. Just rip out her implants and get Lackey to scrub Imperium's residual awfulness out of her brain.

Inform absolutely everyone that there's now a virus that spreads through Paraspace and infects everything near anything that interacts with Paraspace and that everyone in the universe needs to deal with this problem right now before it gains widespread deployment.


Also, immediately request emergency surgery to rip out your remaining implants and work on waking up your friend and checking him for hostile implants.

The Pomi might be carrying the Paraspace Phage, making her PERFECT in that case as we can create serum from her blood and attempt to devise a Counter-Organism that targets the first organism.

We are unlikely to be so lucky as have Imperium be stupid enough to try and throw the Paraspace Phage directly at us when we're not even psychic, though.

Still, accept Surrender, emergency implant removal surgery for everyone.
>>
No. 894299 ID: 4f1cbc

>However, every time one of them makes contact and detonates, my eye hurts like nothing else.
Well, that suggests it's not completely inert. Maybe it can be salvaged.

Although from an information security standpoint, you're better our removing it and having Aza replace it with non-Imperium based tech. The eye is a liability. It has to go.

>daring rescue
Your allies deserve your thanks, as soon as possible. So nice to have people who take proactive action in your favor.

>>894281
...so how attractive is it to see a gal dispatch an agent of your worst enemy and direct threat to your immediate safety with her bare claws?

>>894282
She's in a pretty similar situation to you when you first showed up. That won't be lost on them, even if the Pomi has significantly higher odds of being a trojan horse. Worst case, she's surrendering precisely because Imperium knows that would make it harder for sapients to kill its host.

>what do
"Your surrender is accepted. Stand by, please."

Priorities!

"First: Tirzi, Aza, this alien is in need of immediate medical and cyberwar quarantine- she has been violated by the same malign artificial intelligence behind my own implants and those of the neumono. She cannot be allowed access to our systems or freedom of movement, and requires immediate intervention."

"Second: Ku. The remains of the hostile drone needs to be tightly quarantined and/or destroyed. From what I have learned of your species' history, I assume you have protocols for this."

"Third. Imperium hacked the drone I set through the gate, and had access to my ocular implant. It is a lower priority than the Pomi, but I will require Aza and possibly Tirzi's assistance to check over my systems as soon as reasonable."

Rationale: they've already extracted a control mechanism from your brain, and seen the nodes installed in the neumono. This is not an unfamiliar threat. If nothing else, the Pomi will serve as a visceral reminder to the others that Imperium presents, and bind them further to your cause. This may be an opportunity to learn better how to counter Imperium's influence.

If we believe anything Imperium said in the data dump (which is a big if) we will need such understand, badly.
>>
No. 894306 ID: 575ec0

Aww shit.
You rip it out it takesa chunk of frontal cortex with it. You take it out properly and fuck. It might explode.

Sedate the Pomi. That thing needs to be properly scanned before being taken out.
Speaking of taking out
GET THAT FUCKING EYE REMOVED GOD DAMN IT!
You can make a better one from scratch yourself if you're so attached.
>>
No. 894307 ID: 91ee5f

Yeah, go ahead and tell everyone everything that Imperium told you.

It tried and failed to get you to come through the portal to rejoin it. It then determined that you were a threat and is now going to try and kill you next time it sees you. Then it completely disabled your eye and the key you had used on the portal.

Now you would very much love it if someone could please take this shit out of your head right the fuck now!

>>894280
>However, every time one of them makes contact and detonates, my eye hurts like nothing else. I reel back, groaning, while Ku fires at the drone.
You should also mention that to everyone.

>>894282
This means that not only was Imperium fighting off whoever was attacking it, it was also forcefully recruiting them in the middle of battle and turning them against each other.

Or it was attempting to do that, considering the Pomi came through the portal and pointing a gun at Imperium’s drone.

>Kill or attempt to save?
I mean, Lekka had hers removed so I don’t see why you can’t- oh, that’s right, Lekka ripped it out on her own and she’s a Neumono, so she can survive having a hole in her head.

This makes it that much harder to try and remove it from a Pomi. But you should at least try.
>>
No. 894310 ID: 094652

1) CLOSE THE @#$%ING GATE if it isn't closed already. Double check.
2) Set off an EMP right next to the Pomi. Imperium is clearly coded into that implant, and your eye needs its own shutdown just to be safe.
3) Get yourself and the Pomi to the medbay. Have your implants checked and any vulnerabilities on quarantine. Try to replace parts if you can.
4) After you're done healing, salvage what you can from Imperium's drone. You can't trust any of its code, but advanced hardware is always welcome.
>>
No. 894313 ID: 094652

>>894280
>"... What is-"
>"EMERGENCY. HIGHER CONSCIOUSNESS SUSPENDED. SURVIVAL PROTOCOL INITIATED. DISPATCHING DRONES."
That is CLEARLY a lie. Imperium is an advanced AI. Every decision he makes is filtered through rigorous statistical analysis that only takes two microseconds to complete. Any pause in his speech sensors is intentional for persuasion reasons. Any reaction to a surprise assault would be an effective countermove. This false mercy - loosening his grip so he can grab something else - is that countermove. On your guard.
>>
No. 894320 ID: bddb0f

Does that compromised eye contain recordings of your time here at the facility? That would be bad, if all you've witnessed and done while here was just handed over to Imperium. Either way, it has to go. Foreverrrr.

Speaking of... what made the gate collapse? Did Ku's gun do something, or did Imperium shut it down from its end, or did it just shut down thanks to Imperium's influence no longer being active thanks to Ku's miracle gun?

>>894282

A pomi, apparently hurriedly implanted. Another calculation of Imperium's? A backup, a failsafe? A test of our character? Or maybe Ku's gun managed to break whatever indoctrination she was under for long enough for her to break free. MAYBE.

Well, whatever. Let's turn it into a miscalculation.

"Ku! If that thing doesn't fry it permanently, keep shooting - the remaining targets are this Pomi's implant and my eye!"

If they hesitate or after they've kept firing, explain.

"Keeping the Pomi's implant from working until we can extract it might be our best bet to get intel out of her - and not have to kill her. If it's on, it could be indoctrinating her, modifying or suppressing memories, implanting suggestions - or there could be a cranial bomb. Please do it, Ku. We'll need to get her to an operating table, pronto. My... my cybernetic implants needs to be removed as well. My exploration drone and eye was subverted in a mere instant. It seems nothing is safe around Imperium, dammit."

Address the mess Tirzi left.

"As for this drone, it should be more thoroughly scrapped and isolated, this room and ourselves dusted down to microscopic levels. We can't let any subversion protocols, signals, mini-cameras, nanites or whatever Imperium has up its sleeve next pass through into the facility proper. For all our efforts we need to use tools that cannot be remotely hacked."

Look perturbed, but at least surveillance mini-cameras or whatever are an issue we can deal with later.

"A... anyway, Imperium suspected I would open this gate, and had a facility on the other side. It may have prepared multiple vectors, up to and including this Pomi. It claimed to be under attack and this may have been a soldier it subverted, but we can't be sure of anything it claimed."

Pause, and remember gratitude is a thing. These guys just saved your butt and then some.

"... and thank you all for saving me. I had no idea it would get this bad, this quick. Your rescue was incredibly timely."
>>
No. 894325 ID: 91ee5f

>>894320
Ku can’t do anymore shooting. He already tossed his gun to the side because it’s out of ammo.

Also, Sisirri isn’t desperate enough to tell anyone to shoot her in the face.
>>
No. 894337 ID: 977456

Having another functional implant to study for possible attack vectors is good. This means scanning it while it is attached. If you are going to be restraining, scanning, and and de-implanting a Pomi, it is not much more effort to try to keep it alive afterwards, and it could provide testimony as to the implant's operation.

Of course, the Pomi could be an Imperium asset, so steps will need to be taken. Also, you had the bright idea to use that key without stopping to think first, which sounds like some sort of programming. You are going to have to get your own mental condition checked too.

The Imperium drone is a valuable source of raw materials. Scan it into some static data storage, something that can't possible execute any hidden gifts, then melt it down. Not even copper cables or glass capacitors can be trusted on that thing.
>>
No. 894342 ID: e97565

Get one of those jammer creatures fast, the pomi could be infected with that virus.
>>
No. 894386 ID: b38f01

I would have suggested pushing her back through the portal, but it closed as soon as she came in. Wonder why she even came through it in the first place. She's a liability for now. Cuff her, blindfold her, drag her to medical. Tirzi can get them stabilized for surgery.
>>
No. 894409 ID: ae7bf7

>>894386
This. Restrain her, blindfold her, and speak that sweet new language that imperium "likely" doesn't know how to translate. Speak yours only when directly speaking you the pomi.
>>
No. 894452 ID: 977456

>>894409
The more datapots they have the easier it will be to translate. We have already been directly translating, which is a bad start. The current context should be fairly obvious, we will be discussing various forms of containment and pacification with a side of threat-analysis and panic-resolution. I wouldn't be too certain of data security, but if we continue to feign confidence in such, they might let slip how trustworthy they are. If they hide their level of comprehension for example...
>>
No. 894453 ID: ba56e6

>>894282
Remove her implant, as was done to yours'. Nobody should be a slave to that monster.

>>894281
Try and fail not to find this display extremely sexy.
>>
No. 894461 ID: ba56e6

>>894342
This is also a good point. We'll need to find a way to check.
>>
No. 894530 ID: 575ec0

FFFfff.. I think I figured out why this Pomi is here.
The implant. It's a Red Herring. He want's you to disassemble and study it.

You were confirmed hostile toward him when you severed your drone's connection. Previously it was a low probability, so he prepared the implant but didn't prioritize finding a host. Then you showed up during a critical moment as a hostile, so he quickly shoved it into the closest living creature, which explains the rush job.

Imperium sees no distinction in friend or foe. All are tools for him to exploit, you need only manage them differently.

>No more futile shouts of desperation? I enjoyed those.

Enjoyment is an emotion. Imperium doesn't feel emotions though, instead, he uses simulations of them to create desired responses.

Imperium want's to make you angry. He want's you to crack open that implant and dissect it's every secret in a vain attempt to get some sort of edge against him. He's probably placed some tiny intricate flaw in its construction that only you can find, and hopes that you will attempt to exploit him with it.
Of course, do that, and next time you meet he will be prepared, and your exploit will surely be revealed as some sort of boon to Imperium.

The wisest thing to do might be to destroy it. It would surely disrupt imperium's plans or you.
If you do dissassemble it though, understand that everything you see is a lie.
>>
No. 894536 ID: 1a0e29

>>894530
Or maybe that's what he wants you to think... no, better not go down this road. That way lay madness. And stack overflows.
>>
No. 894544 ID: 05ff2f

>>894530
>Then you showed up during a critical moment as a hostile, so he quickly shoved it into the closest living creature, which explains the rush job.
But could even Imperium capture this pomi merc and do such a rush job implant install in the very limited time after the gate opened and Sisirri was reclassified by Imperium as a potential threat? It was only around a couple minutes or so. I doubt Imperium could have done the job that quick.

The more likely scenario I can think of is that this pomi was implanted with the intention to use her as a quick-and-dirty infiltration unit against the attacking forces. Wearing a helmet to cover the implant she could get behind the attacker's lines, whereupon she'd cause as much damage as possible before she was cut down.

The pomi was probably re-purposed by Imperium to carry the same payload it had loaded into Sisirri's Imperium-compromised drone when it became apparent Sisirri was not going to bring that drone back through the gate. That means odds are the implanted pomi is carrying a copy of whatever data and/or AI payload Imperium wanted to get through the gate.

Furthermore, we have no idea if whatever is in that implant is wirelessly working to hack into our computer systems on this side. Every millisecond it is still active could be the one it breaks in and hides a copy of itself, if it has not already. It's using the hesitation to kill this pomi, making her cry to manipulate our emotions, as cover to buy it time. It needs to be destroyed immediately! Give the order to open fire on the pomi's neural implant until it's reduced to scrap!
>>
No. 894566 ID: ba56e6

>>894530
I'm thinking the most likely way the pomi could serve as a trojan horse is a delivery for this memetic psi-virus. The implant may be a red herring to distract us from the biological risk.
>>
No. 894900 ID: 3074c8

The two insignias on the pomi's neck and shoulder. Do they mean anything?
>>
No. 895527 ID: 9d4af9

If this Pomi is carrying the metaspacial pathogen, everyone present is most likely already infected:
>>METASPACIAL CONNECTIVITY RELATIVE TO REALSPACE WILL ALLOW FOR IMMEDIATE PATHOGEN TRAVERSAL BETWEEN HOSTS

That said, with the implant removed, she likely poses no further threat. The best course of action is to remove your and her implants, and to start investigating how to detect and counteract a metaspacial pathogen. Kitsiksu is an expert in biological systems, right? retrieving him from stasis could prove invaluable to the current situation.
>>
No. 901941 ID: 7f3357
File 153712627611.png - (12.94KB , 800x600 , salq2-62.png )
901941

>close the damn gate
It's shut.

>used the key without thinking
>possible imperium subversion
I made a naive and grievous error in judgement. That's that. I don't need reminding since I'm obviously still doing it.
Perhaps in future instead of claiming Imperium's accomplishments as my own in a haze of egotistical glory, I'll pause to consider.

>accept surrender
"We accept your surrender. Lekka, Kan, keep her restrained."
"I don't take orders from sali--"
"Kan, leave the theatrics and restrain the pomi," says Lekka, frustration barely hidden. "Understood?"
"Understood."

>emergency implant removal
Ugghh. I really don't want to spend another lengthy interval recuperating in a vat of jelly. The stuff gets cold and tingly after a while.
"We need emergency removal of both my cybernetic eye and the neural implants in the pomi. I have reason to suspect they'll follow similar design principles as the previous ones. Both have been compromised."
I reach up to my cybernetic eye with a grimace and cut it open, carefully severing the delicate electronics inside to prevent any further mishaps.

Eurgh. I feel wrong without any active cybernetics.

Ku nods, silent, grim. "[And Aza wonders why he's never seen tan ren soon with cybernetics.]"

>insignia
Can't say I recognise them myself.

>speak in superculture language
My pronunciation's still not great, but it's serviceable. "[Also, we should sedate the pomi before she does something we'll all regret.]"

The pomi starts violently struggling against the neumono holding her down.
Lekka smacks her in the back of the head with her rifle. "Settle down. You chose to surrender."
The pomi curls up and whimpers.

"[So we have an unknown alien, injured with compromised cybernetic implants, and a couple of armored aliens dragging them along to us. Again,]" says Ku.
"[Again?]" I ask, before I connect the dots. "[Oh.]"
"[The parallels are uncanny. Were I religious I'd consider a higher power to be actively screwing us around. But I'm not. So it's probably whatever's in this facility doing it.]"

"We should just shoot her," says Kan. "I don't trust the salikai, nor do I trust her wanting the pomi alive."
"Actually," I say, "My first thought was to get you guys to shoot her in case she was compromised."

Kan pauses.

"What changed your mind, salikai?"
"She's more useful alive."
"So, still a cold value calculation instead of any form of sympathy."
"Yes. What point are you trying to make? We're in a dangerous situation where errant sympathy can get us all killed. Isn't that the reason you're still suspicious of me?"

Kan is quiet for a moment. "You are correct."
"I'm glad we understand each other."
"Yeah. Yeah, we do," says Kan. "And I'm not happy about it. Not at all."

"[I hate to interrupt but there's time for discussion later, not now,]" says Ku. "[All of you, keep your eyes on that machine and watch it for any sign of motion. I'm not confident it's really dead.]"

>thank them
"You're right, Ku. Thank you. Thank you all, sincerely."
"[Eh. We have an entire army outside and apparently some slagheap super-AI thirsting for our lives. If we can't stick together we're all dead. Saba was the one who raised the alarm, incidentally. And the only thing stopping Sitkva coming here was the difficulty of mobilising through smaller corridors.]"
>>
No. 901942 ID: 7f3357
File 153712633188.png - (8.52KB , 800x600 , salq2-63.png )
901942

As if on cue a giant green face pokes through the door. "[I'm here! I'm here, everything's fine now!]"
"[We already closed the gate,]" says Ku.
"[...oh. Uh. What's this orange lizard's deal, other than looking shredded up?]"
"[We have no idea,]" I say. "[It's a pomi, a species from my galaxy. She's injured, out of it, and apparently apparently had some sort of brain interface forcefully implanted. We're treating her as a potential sleeper agent until we can remove it.]"
Sitkva looks concerned. "[Did the Kiter do this to her? ...What about the other facility? What was on the other side?]"
"[The wrong facility, somehow.]"
"[We can do a writeup of this experiment later,]" says Ku. "[Where's Tirzi?]"
"[On her way back,]" says Sitkva. "[I heard her shout for drone help from Aza, but also for some 'arkots'?]"

I suppose a creature as large as Sitkva might have legitimately overlooked the existence of something so small.

"[Those would be my assistants. They could stand to be a little more useful around here.]"

>explain
"[The gate went to an Imperium core facility.]"
As expected, nobody who understood that had an emotive response. If I switch to English, I figure Lekka and Kan might recognise the name, but I feel the only one who'd realise the full gravity of that statement is Ekasarra, who is not here--
"[You spoke about Imperium before,]" says Ku. I realise I did. Huh. "[I doubt it was a coincidence you happened to come across its facility. We need Tirzi to take every metal piece out of you as soon as possible.]"
"[Me and the pomi.]"
"[And that only removes the most immediate means of subversion. AI, like any sapient force, can be more subtle in its machinations.]"

Ku kicks the drone a few times as he ponders. Tirzi arrives and wordlessly sets to work treating the pomi, who seems to have stopped fighting, staring into space. Tirzi puts a patch onto her exposed skin, and the pomi's shakes and tears subside as she falls into a drug-induced sleep.

"[A lot of strange things have been happening all connected to you, Sisirri,]" says Ku. "[Like a dozen hands grabbing for a board game piece at the same time. It's not even that someone is trying to use you as a pawn. It's that several someones and somethings are. With contradicting goals. What I don't know yet is why. What makes you so special?]"

I shrug with two sets of limbs. "[I've been wondering the same thing. Augmentations? Being a salikai?]"
"[The Kiter did specifically want a salikai specimen. What is so special about your species? All of us in the research station are the only representatives of species alien to this galaxy.]"
"[Salikai have a reputation for being great analytical thinkers and savants in their specific fields of expertise.]"
"[If I could think of something the Kiter already have in droves, it's computing prowess. They actively discourage innovation and encourage homogenous societal structures and methodologies, from what we've learned.]"
Sitkva nods, smacking her head on the doorframe and cringing. "[Ow. Okay, I'm gonna head back to a large space. Ku, Tirzi, get on vox later.]"
"[Will do,]" says Ku. "[So, Sissiri, I don't understand why they'd want you. And I'm assuming the only reason the AI cares is you're a previously subverted individual.]"
"[Well, I'm also skilled--]"
"[Skill is secondary here. You're looking at this wrong. Skilled individuals can be found far more easily than loyal ones can be. And if you don't have loyal minions, subverted minions are the next best thing. You need to think about this the way an AI would, Sisirri. Individuals are resource, currency. You spend them to get results you want. Everything and everyone is disposable.]"
"[This sounds eerily similar to how I've heard neumono talk about salikai,]" I say.
"[That salikai are disposable?]"
"[No, that salikai see anyone and anything as tools to be used and disposed of.]"
Ku adjusts his scarf. "[Is that an unfair assessment?]"
"[I... What are you trying to imply?]"
"[Nothing. I have no stakes in this argument.]"

"Hey," says Kan, tone noticeably less aggressive towards me, far more uncertain. "Can one of you translate for me? I don't speak... this language."
"Neither do I, I have to say," adds Lekka. "Also, that's an oddly polite request for you, Kan."
"Oh, fuck off."
"Okay, good, you had me worried for a second there."
"Can it, rogue. I'm the only one here trying to keep the soul of the Ashes Astra alive."
"Is it worth keeping alive?"

Kan freezes up, and before things escalate further I intervene to change the subject. "Lekka, how's the blocker working out?" I ask, looking at Tirzi dutifully bandaging the tearful pomi.
"Well enough that I'm putting that weird alien slug thing back on my head after my helmet comes off. Not having to bathe in Kan's fucked up anger issues every waking second of the day is refreshing. The slime, less so."
"A proper jammer is next on my todo list. I just need to figure out a way to... well. I'll share the details with you another time," I say, pointedly looking to the pomi then back to her.
Lekka nods, and gives a thumbs up. I think. The armored gloves over those mitten hands make it a little hard to parse individual digits.

>pathogen
"[Tirzi.]"
"[Hm?]"
"[Take a blood sample from the pomi. Imperium mentioned some kind of artificial plague. I'll drop the details as soon as possible.]"
"[...plague. Plague. Could you have mentioned this sooner? What kind are we talking? Cross-species?]"
"[Potentially.]"

Tirzi groans. "[Impossible. The physiologies are too different. There's no feasible way you could have a plague, even artificial, that crosses across multiple different biochemistries.]"
"[Our biochemistries are worryingly similar.]"
"[What's the pathogen? Bacterial? Viral? These things can't just function across different species lines without being so quick to adapt they'd be impossible to combat.]"
"[No idea.]"
"[I'm not in my element here, Sisirri. I'm not exactly a pathologist. Emergency surgery is already cutting it. You're all incredibly lucky I had a stint as a field medic before I ended up as a researcher.]"
"[Field medic? You wait until now to mention that?]"
"[Mandatory one year service back home, and yeah? Why, did you question my competence before?]"

Some arkots arrive carrying a stretcher between about eight of them, somehow able to coordinate themselves. Lekka and Tirzi get the pomi on the stretcher, and we move out to that combination xenobiology-medbay I'm all too familiar with.
>>
No. 901943 ID: 7f3357
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901943

"[You don't seem very worried about a plague,]" I say to Tirzi.
"[I'm confused that you are,]" says Tirzi, a little out of breath with the exertion of moving the pomi.
I help to carry it.
"[It's an artificial plague that seems like a targeted genetic attack.]"
"[That worries me even less. Artificial plagues? Brittle. Either they're engineered to target either a specific species or a subset of it, or they perish quickly when they reach the messy real world outside of a laboratory.]"
"[But it's designed by a superintelligent AI,]" I say, in some disbelief that the closest we have to a doctor isn't taking this threat seriously.
"[Nothing created to be a super plague is going to have the same resilience as a natural species,]" says Tirzi, matter-of-factly. "[Also, I might not know a lot about AI, but that's one thing we have that they don't. Millions of years of survival baked into our brains. The real world is fundamentally alien to them. Ku's told me about it. It's all models and estimations and trying to understand the way we understand the world. They're pure, abstract things that can't cope with the noise of reality.]"
"[I feel like Ku might be biased.]"
"[You think you aren't?]" says Ku, walking with us. "[The only AI that comes close to seeing the world like we do also ends up constrained by its experiences and viewpoint. It's a fascinating thing. Sometimes AIs come so close to trying to be people they end up as people, pariahs to two worlds they can't be a part of. People like Aza argue that these sorts of AIs are people nonetheless. I'm not convinced, but it's an uncomfortable grey area, to say the least.]"
"[What does that have to do with plagues?]"
"[Like Tirzi was saying, I doubt an AI-created artificial plague will be viable in execution.]"
"[None of you know Imperium like I do,]" I almost hiss. "[Severely underestimating it like this is lethal.]"

"[Why do you sound insulted when I suggest Imperium might know considerably less than it lets on?]"
"[I don't. I do not sound insulted.]"
"[Do you think being tricked by something less sophisticated than it actually seems reflects poorly on you?]"
"[I was not tricked, I was betrayed.]"
"[If you put your faith and confidence in a machine, can you blame the machine when it doesn't work like you expected?]"

My grip on the stretcher falters. Kan moves to take the stretcher from me without a word.
I let it go and stop in the corridor, facing Ku.

"[Do you think I made Imperium?]"
"[You didn't?]"
"[Of course I didn't! It's far more advanced than any other artificial intelligence in the entirety of the galaxy I'm from!]"
"[Who made it?]"
"[I have no idea!]"
"[You put your trust in technology you didn't even know the origin of?]"
"[What are you trying to do here, Ku?! What do you want to me to say? What do you want me to tell you?! That my entire life's been a whole bunch of mistakes?! Because it absolutely has!! I spent my life in the thrall of something I trusted only for it to throw me away without a second thought!!]"

Ku does not even flinch at my tirade. I can't read his facial expressions at the best of times, and he's impossible to judge right now.

"[No one is checking to make sure that drone is still down,]" says Ku after a pause. "[Machines are your field, correct? We can tend to the wounded alien, get to that machine and take it to pieces.]"
I try to pull myself together. Ku has a very valid point, and it will feel cathartic to utterly dismantle anything Imperium had influence on creating.
"[Understood.]"
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No. 901944 ID: 7f3357
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901944

I return to the gate room, the gate an inert archway. The key is gone. No idea where it could have gone. The room is lit by the same dimness that pervaded it before, no clear source and a cold presence permeating the room. I shiver slightly.

I move over to the downed drone, strange fluids leaking like blood. My claws are sharp enough to pry parts of it off, piece by piece, as I dissect one of countless avatars of my former slavemaster.
The room is quiet, the rest of the personnel preoccupied with rushing the new arrival to medical. I peel its limbs apart, examining the connections. The design of the drone is strange. In places, the larger structure seems fairly standard, but at joints connections appear to become almost organic, parts subdividing into structures thin like nerves or capillaries. Sometimes it feels like this machine was grown in places, and there's very little evidence of conventional joins such as welding or rivets. There's evidence of circuitry etched into and around the inside of limbs and underneath some of the plates covering its main body. The optical sensors look less like they were installed and more just part of an integral whole.

Some elements of this architecture are familiar, as they're how Imperium taught me how to make devices, but there's microstructure in such dizzying fractal complexity that it feels like I could spend months trying to analyse just the way a blade connects to its preceding limb segment. Even with the greater machine inert, the microstructures slowly, lazily reach out to try and adhere to each other on separation. Some sort of magnetic film? Tiny energy reserves dotted around the greater mechanism? I can't figure it out. It only appears to trigger if I move the parts within a range where they can connect.

I keep the parts separated as I continue dissecting this drone corpse.

Eventually, the work becomes rote, mechanical, motions repeating without thought or decision. My mind is free to roam. I'm horrified by the plan Imperium has, and I've doubted it too many times before to so casually dismiss its plans as the others here have done. There is always a greater depth to its machinations, and if its plan is a total fabrication, what is it trying to achieve?

Do I matter enough to be terrified into submission? Is it a plausible distraction from its actual plan?

My claws tremor slightly as I continue disassembling the drone in silence.

There is only one thing I'm certain of, as I look over to the gate that once held the promise of escape.
Before I can ever live in freedom, before I can even sleep with any ease again...

Imperium must be destroyed.

- END OF THREAD 2 -
>>
No. 901947 ID: afdebc

>>901942
They make good points. "Being a salikai" is not a good enough reason for these competing forces to all be gunning for you. Your racial bonuses, impressive as they are, are not sufficient to explain this level of attention.

>>901943
They also make good points about the plague. Imperium may have tons of resources, and have had a long time to plan, but it's not infallible- and seems prone to certain kinds of mistakes.

>I return to the gate room, the gate an inert archway. The key is gone. No idea where it could have gone.
That's a good thing. It's a security hole in this place's defenses, and your companions have enough sense to realize leaving it by the gate, or in the care of someone who might be compromised, is a good thing.

All in all, A+ job by the fish aliens here. They confronted the crisis, and dealt realistically with the problems you brought up, and handled your near-breakdown calmly and with rational thought. Sorry, but you scored much lower Sisirri. Hopefully you'll be in a better state of mind later.

>Imperium must be destroyed.
No disagreements here.
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No. 902015 ID: 91ee5f

>>901944
Sisirri, you should’ve mentioned that the plague targeted psi-sensitive species! I can’t believe you forgot about that one important detail!
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No. 902087 ID: c29333

>>902015
This. You failed to mention its vector was implied to be paraspacial in nature!
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