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The Myrmidon (reboot)

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  • #21

    "Yeah," Kimrith replied, "We've had some weird luck here. Or... Karma, I guess."

    He shrugged.

    The planet's atmosphere proved surprisingly welcoming. Oxygen content was higher than the norm for an L-congruous; about 30% total air volume, as was the argon content at 1.9%. Nitrogen was a touch lower than expected, at 68%.

    The rest was trace gasses; nothing really unusual. There was traces of a pollen-analogue in the air, but not much, and it was levo-amino based; a good sign for the viability of the local flora and fauna as a food source for the crew.

    "Yeah, it reminds me of the forested regions of my homeworld, too," Kimrith admitted, striding to the edge of the wing and squatting to look down at the undergrowth, "Not seeing much wildlife yet, but... well, a crash like this will have them scared. It'll probably be a couple of hours before they return."

    He paused for a moment, eyeing the plants, before glancing at the churned-up soil in the crash scar.

    "I think this area might be close to an extinct volcano. The plant life here's rich, and the soil's dark. Plus, it's a mountain range."
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    • #22

      Allyn joined Kimrith at the edge of the wing to get a better look at the crash scar.

      "You know, with the makeup of the air being what it is, the crew will be able to venture out without suits. Oxygen is a little richer than back home, but nothing dangerous, by the looks of it." he said, pushing the readouts to a corner of his suit's HUD to have it in easy reach if need be.

      He nodded at the mention of the local wildlife, "You're probably right about that. I'd love to have a scout around and expand our perimeter a little bit. We were told to stay put, though. Still, I could send the drone out and get us some aerial recon. Seems like a safe enough way to start." he commented.

      And safe was how he felt. They didn't know much about the local flora and fauna. There could be things that were still harmful to them. Still, if there was danger here, Allyn felt that it would come from an external source, and not the planet's natural climate. He could still be totally wrong, and he wasn't about to let his guard down just yet, but, all things considered, it seemed like they had gotten incredibly lucky.

      He stood back up and a compartment opened up on the back of his sit. The drone popped upwards and then flew around them under its own power. It was a relatively simple design, still using the tried and true quad-rotor method. It did, however, have very quiet motors, which gave it a soft 'whooshing' sound as opposed to the loud, angry bee sound of traditional quads. He gave it a few moments calibrate its cameras and sensors and then sent it off to see what it could see.
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      • #23

        "Mm. Even pure oxygen is breathable," Kimrith replied, before shrugging, "But you've got a point. A lot of things can catch fire that you wouldn't anticipate in a pure-oxygen atmosphere."

        He gave Allyn a nod when he mentioned the drone.

        "Good idea," he agreed, "It'll give us an idea of the area around us."

        He watched the drone in interest as it took off.

        One of the first things the drone found was an insect-analogue; a big one, about the size of the drone. It flew up to the drone, and tilted its head in an almost curious manner, before zooming off.

        For a while, that, and some similar specimens were all that the drone found. It was only when it ranged towards the edge of the plateau that it found some of the other wildlife.

        A huge, six-legged creature with gecko-feet and a herbivorous beak was plodding through the trees, still a touch nervous from the wary reaction to the drone but clearly starting to calm.

        A group of smaller critters dashed past it a moment later, only to disappear into some bushes. The drone didn't get a very good look, but the images did reveal that they had a similar herbivorous beak.
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        • #24

          Allyn sent the video window over to Kimrith so that he could see what the drone was seeing as well. "Wow." he commented at the sight of the insect, "That's a new one to me. The first thing we see and it's a bug the size of the drone!"

          When the rest of the animals came into view, Allyn blinked in surprise, "Those are... large. Herbivores, by the looks of it. " he pondered things for a few moments before continuing.

          "Given the size of those creatures, I think it might be advisable to have the crew set up a perimeter around the ship. Herbivores are one thing, but chances are there are carnivores here too, and probably big ones at that."

          Allyn chuckled, "I'm glad I didn't go flying off, now." he jibed, not that he was rash enough to do something like that, but the situation warranted a little levity.

          He looked back to Kimrith, thinking for a moment, "Well, while the drone is up there, let's get a reading on the radio spectrum around here." he said, then turned on the drone's RF and EM sensors. The readings appeared in the upper left of the video window for them to see.
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          • #25

            "I'm not surprised, actually," Kimrith replied, watching the video feed with interest, "When atmospheric oxygen concentrations rise, so does the size of the insect analogues. Though it is quite large."

            Kimrith's body language shifted from relaxed but alert, to something more wary when the drone came across the large herbivore.

            "Yeah. The planet's in a megafauna stage," he agreed, crossing his arms in thought, "A perimeter is a good idea."

            He went to activate his suit's communications suite, to inform the Captain of their discoveries, but ended up holding off when Allyn mentioned scanning the airwaves.

            The Crystal Dragon turned his eye to the graph that had popped up in the corner of his view. Aside from the occasional faint burst of signal from inside the ship (which was mostly contained by the metallic hull) the RF spectrum was mostly background; astronomical sources and so on.

            But there was a spike on the graph; a semi-regular pulsing, in the cadence of a conversation... right in the civilian radio band.

            The kind of thing that would be seen on such sensors when observing a radio conversation that was outside of the transmitting radio's range.

            Kimrith looked at Allyn, before activating his communications.

            "Myrmidon, this is Varainier. Drone deployed for recon. Be advised, megafauna observed, and we're detecting an artificial radio signal. I say again; megafauna observed, we are detecting an artificial radio signal."

            There was a brief moment's silence.

            ":Ah, roger, Varainier. Artificial radio signal, and megafauna observed. I'll inform the Captain. Hold position.:"

            "Copy. Holding position."

            Kimrith muted his mic, and turned to Allyn.

            "What do you think?" He asked, precisely at the moment that the reading jumped in what a trained eye would immediately pick out as a heterodyne, that might have even been faintly audible if their radios had been tuned to the frequency.
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            • #26

              Allyn's posture said a lot. The Gyrfalcon was alert and ready to spring at a moment's notice. The size of the creatures they'd just seen was worrying. So far, they'd only seen insect analogues and herbivores, but that implied that there would also be predators. What about the Flora? Would that be waiting to spring its own surprises onto them?

              Allyn had to remember he was standing up on the ship, and it was easy enough to duck back into the airlock should they need to. Still, one couldn't be too careful. He edged away from the wing, moving towards Kimrith again.

              Then the radio signals came. That... That was something that had all of the earmarks of a standard communication signal.

              He looked over to Kimrith, nodding slowly as he went back into the drone's buffer and snapped that last bit of signal out. He was focused now on his task. This was something he knew and understood. The signal was using standard communications modulation. He had the Zephyr run it through an offline comms modulation algorithm and played back the sample for Kimrith. It was unintelligible. There was just too much degradation to play back anything but bits and pieces of syllables.

              He glanced over to Kimrith then, "The demodulation got us this much." he commented, flashing the broken waveform on their huds. "It's definitely speech, and it's definitely a radio transmission," he said, absolutely certain. "We're not alone here."

              He stopped a moment to consider what that meant, "There is sentient life on this planet. Advanced enough to have radio communication. So, presumably, they must have seen the ship coming in for that crash landing. I suggest that we prepare for guests." he paused again, "Given what we've seen of the planet so far, what are the odds that whoever is broadcasting native?"
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              • #27

                Kimrith gave Allyn a nod when he mentioned that they weren't alone.

                "I figured," he replied, giving a nod, "And yes. We should."

                He then paused, considering.

                "Low," he announced after a moment, "That signal is the only artificial source anywhere on this planet, otherwise we'd be picking up a significantly increased background in that bandwidth. Also, I think that's a Federation language, though it's... hard to tell."

                Given the disparate senses and methods of communication of the various species within the Federation, its official, and most commonly used trade language was actually primarily written, though a number of spoken forms had been constructed - based on the sounds a species could vocalise - in order to allow it to be translated more easily in real time, as a computer system would have an easier time handling that.

                Though with the way that the spoken forms were all derived from the same core language, it was relatively easy to learn to understand another form of it, even if you couldn't vocalise it.

                Before he could continue, the drone spotted a small pack of raptoroids. The shape of their heads and jaws suggested that they were carnivorous, as did the curved teeth, but they'd need to get a closer look at the teeth to tell for sure.

                The raptoroids would be up to Kimrith's chest if he were out of his armour, six-limbed (like every other ground-based animal they'd seen so far) , but unlike the others they'd seen, two of the limbs had been re-purposed entirely into a balance mechanism, held up parallel to their spines.

                They were also looking up at the drone with obvious curiosity.

                "Huh... We've got a predator. Pack-based. Might actually be trainable," Kimrith noted, before jolting as his radio crackled to life.

                "Varainier, this is Nightfang," the Captain's voice rumbled, "You said you'd picked up a signal?"

                "A very weak one, sir," Kimrith replied, "We're beyond maximum range. Allyn put it through demodulation, and that only got some broken syllables."

                There was silence over the line for a brief moment.

                "Understood," the Captain said, "As soon as the situation in the ship has stabilised, I'll send out engineers to begin setting up a palisade. Ryder, I want you to keep that drone out and scouting, and keep an eye on that signal. Varainier, watch his back."

                "Got it, sir," Kimrith replied.
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                • #28

                  Allyn nodded to Kimrith. "Well, that's interesting," he commented as he zoomed in on the raptoroids. "Six limbs. The Geckoid also had six limbs." he shrugged, "It's starting to look like hexapods are prevalent here."

                  "Trainable?" he asked Kimrith, raising an eyeridge in curiousity, though the dragon couldn't see that through the helmet. "What makes you say that?" he asked, mulling over the possibility in his head.

                  The Captains orders came, and they were easy enough to follow, though as Allyn sent the drone out, he kept an eye out for the battery indicator. Currently, the drone was at 70% charge. When the battery got down to 30%, he'd bring it back in for a recharge.

                  He sent it further out and noted how the raptoroids tracked the drone as it flew off, but then returned to more interesting and closer things to focus on.

                  As he worked the drone, Allyn looked over to Kimrith again. "I wonder just how big the fauna on this planet gets. What about the marine life?" he continued, "In a lot of ways, this planet is really fascinating. You know? Hmmm..." he pondered a moment, "You know, if the local flora arebiologically compatible with us and we could subsist on them. Then, I think that would mean that the opposite would be true and they could subsist on us..." he trailed off, letting the thought linger.

                  Another burst of radio signals came in. Allyn had set up an automation to process the signals as they came in. The further out the drone went, the more that they were able to hear. It was still too far to get a continuous audio stream, but he could swear that there was a word in there, somewhere.
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                  • #29

                    "It looks like it," Kimrith confirmed to Allyn.

                    He paused when he asked about why he thought the raptors were trainable.

                    "They're pack-oriented," he explained, "Carnivorous, yes, but if we can get them to regard us as their leaders... A number of species domesticated predators like that. Admittedly, it'd probably take a fair bit of time before they're safe to handle without armour."

                    "This planet is fascinating," Kimrith agreed, "And yes. That's true. But we probably won't be regarded as food. That takes conditioning."

                    The Crystal Dragon paused.

                    "I, ah... like watching documentaries," he admitted, shifting his wings in an approximation of a shrug.

                    The drone's continued flight soon brought it to the edge of the plateau, and the steep, rocky slope leading off. Not quite a sheer cliff, but it amply explained the geckoid's body structure and feet, and the raptoroids' balance adaptations.

                    Off to the left, the gradient steepened further, until it became completely sheer. Not too much further on from there was the second waterfall, which was visible from the drone's location.

                    The radio signal remained unintelligible, the single word nigh-impossible to discern. Was it "find"? Or "guide"? Or maybe "sign"?

                    A few minutes into their vigil, the Captain connected to them again.

                    ":Varainier, Ryder. The situation inside the ship's been stabilised. I'm sending the damage control crew out to begin setting up a pallisade and other defenses. In the meantime, I want you two to scout out the area, but remain within one kilometre of the ship."

                    "Copy that, Captain," Kimrith replied, before turning as one of the airlocks clunked, before the door opened to release a handful of power-armoured figures, escorting the damage-control crews in their exoskells.

                    "Ready, Allyn?" he asked.
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                    • #30

                      Allyn nodded slowly at Kimrith's explanations. It made sense, and he wasn't one to judge what someone watched in their spare time. He himself watched far too many retro technology repair vids than he probably should.

                      "I guess the better question would be, would it be worth trying to domesticate them? We're going to be here a while, it seems, so the time probably won't be too much of a problem. Then again," he paused, "If we succeed at training and domesticating them, and then we do leave, what happens to them?"

                      Allyn went over the drone's feed as it got to the edge of the plateau. His breath caught as he marvelled at the beauty of the place. "Remarkable..." was all he could say.

                      He turned his attention to the radio signal. So far, the drone's distance hadn' made much of a difference to the audio coming in. They still couldn't make anything out. No amount of processing could fix up a signal that had degraded so much. There was simply too much data missing.

                      The Captain's orders came as a welcome request. Allyn was grinning inside his helmet, which in avian mannerisms amounted to his beak being slightly agape and his eyes seeming to glint happily. "Ready as I'll ever be," he said to Kimrith. "Do you want me to scout around in a spiral, or stay together on the ground?"
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                      • #31

                        "Good point," Kimrith admitted, frowning in thought, "Hunting animals would probably be what we'd use them for, and I think that they would handle being released better than most. Also, we could always take them with us," he added, "Given their adaptations, I suspect they're native to the mountain range, so they can probably handle lower oxygen levels than other native life. And we'll need some time to readjust to lower oxygen levels after we've been here for a while."

                        The plateau where they'd landed was relatively low-lying, only about fifty metres from the forest canopy below, so the raptoroids were likely mountain-dwellers who had come down to the plateau for some reason.

                        "That it is," Kimrith agreed.

                        The waterfall tumbled down into a pool visible through a hole in the loose canopy of the forest, before flowing off along the mountain range and disappearing behind another peak.

                        This, incidentally, was the rough direction that the signal seemed to be coming from.

                        "Stick together," was Kimrith's immediate reply to Allyn's question about how they would operate, "We don't know what kind of flyers live here yet."

                        He jumped down from the wing a moment later, giving his jump jets a blip so that he landed more gently. He then paused, kneeling to examine the ground-cover plant that he'd landed on.

                        "Interesting," he commented, eyeing the short, broad, almost lilypad-like leaves the plant had, "A sort of dichondra analogue?"

                        He stood, internally lamenting that his suit didn't have any sample containers, before pausing. Critters were starting to make sound in the forest again, and he spent a moment familiarizing himself with the sound.

                        That way, he'd be able to pick out any out-of-place sounds.
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                        • #32

                          "True." he said, "But I'd still be hesitant about bringing creatures back. At least, not until we're more familiar with their physiology. They might carry bacteria or diseases they're immune to, but might wreak havoc on our ecosystem." he shrugged, "Just saying, I think the biologists and ecologists on board will have a whole lot to do, soon."

                          Allyn hopped down after Kimrith, slowing his own descent with his thrusters. He landed behind Kimrith and peered over his shoulder as the dragon examined the plant. "A what now?" he said, seeming genuinely confused. It was clear that botany wasn't an area of his expertise, but he was curious enough to ask after it.

                          He stood for a moment and then brought the drone back. The battery had drained down to 30%, and he docked it into the cradle in his back to charge it as they stood and listened to the forest seem to come back to life. "Sound like we're no longer scaring the natives," he commented, noting the sounds and the occasional whizz of an insect-analogue go by. "The creatures still seem wary of us, but they don't seem panicked."

                          Allyn saw the drone's charge indicator go green, and he deployed it again and sent it ahead as they both started walking away from the ship. He noted the tracks they left, "If it wasn't for that radio signal, I'd have said we were the first alien species to set foot on this planet, but.." he shrugged, "We're headed in the direction of the signal's origin. I'll keep the channel open so we can hear any changes as they happen."
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                          • #33

                            "Good point," Kimrith admitted, "Crossover infections are a potential risk."

                            It was a risk that could be mitigated, but Allyn was right; they would need to study the biology of the local life before they could risk bringing any with them when they left.

                            That would take time, since the Myrmidon didn't have the top-of-the-line genome-sequencers or imaging equipment a colony ship or scientific vessel would have.

                            "A Dichondra is a sort of low-lying ground cover," Kimrith replied to Allyn's confusion, "Think tiny ground-covering lilypads. This local analogue has a somewhat longer leaf - more oval than round - but... Might fill the ecological role of grass, but we can't be sure without further observation."

                            He gave the wing-shrug gesture.

                            "And that's where my knowledge on the subject ends," he admitted, "Not sure what the shape even means."

                            He nodded in agreement to the mention of the local wildlife.

                            "Indeed," he commented, nodding, "Take a moment to become familiar with the sounds; 'become one with your environment', as the DIs put it back when I was in boot. It'll help you notice when something's off."

                            He nodded again when Allyn mentioned continuing to listen to the signal.

                            "Good idea," he agreed, "We might be able to hear something when we get closer, but... a kilometre might not make all that much difference."

                            He wing-shrugged, before reaching over his shoulder and unlimbering the huge projector rifle stored on the suit's backpack.

                            "Just in case," he explained, before leading the way into the trees.

                            The trek through the forest was surprisingly uneventful; the wildlife was still wary enough that nothing bothered them except a passing insect-analogue that buzzed straight past Kimrith's head.

                            They soon reached the edge of the plateau, right next to the waterfall. Kimrith peered over the edge, resting his rifle on his shoulder.

                            "The kilometre we have ends about ten metres past here," he announced, checking the distance to the ship on his HUD, "You getting anything, Allyn?"

                            The signal was noticably stronger, but even with demodulation, it was riddled with so much static that the voices (and they could make out at least three separate speakers, one of them female given the higher vocal tone) were incomprehensible; almost like someone mumbling on the other side of a wall.
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                            • #34

                              Allyn takes a few moments to silently listen to the surrounding tone of the forest as they go. Establishing a normal baseline is a good idea. Knowing what's normal makes it easier to know when something abnormal was to happen.

                              He nods to Kimrith slowly, "Right, so, undergrowth of sorts." the files that bit of knowledge away, and makes a note to study the info libraries when he can.

                              As they walk along, the signal does get better, but still not to the point of being able to understand much of anything. They stand at the edge of the plateau and Allyn runs the signal through as much processing as he can manage with his suit. On the ship, he has more powerful tools on his workstation, but this will have to do for now.

                              "Well, one kilometre isn't making that big of a difference," he admits, before continuing, "though, I can't hear very much, there are three speakers at least. One of them might be female. The tones are more defined but there are so many syllables lost it's still not intelligible." he shrugs, then throws up an arrow onto their huds.

                              "On the upside," he says, "I've got a clear direction of origin now."

                              Allyn turns from the plateau's edge. "So this is as far as we can go. Well, let's walk the one-kilometre perimeter and see what else we can see. Apart from those geckoids we saw earlier, I don't think we have to worry too much about what might come from that cliff. The rest of the terrain around the ship though, probably worth giving it a good survey."
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                              • #35

                                Kimrith gave a "sort of" gesture.

                                "Kinda. I think. Like I said, I'm not a botanist, so my knowledge of the field is at most that of a casual gardener."

                                ___

                                Kimrith gave him an acknowledging nod.

                                The signal again pointed along the river, which flowed around the mountain and out of sight.

                                "Given our altitude... Hmm. The signal might be coming from further into the mountains, or along the mountain range," the Crystal Dragon noted, wings flexing, "Hell, the source might be on the river. We can't know for sure."

                                He nodded when Allyn mentioned checking the perimetre.

                                "Let's go, then," he agreed, "Shall we send the drone one way while we go the other?"

                                Whatever Allyn chose, Kimrith led the way to the river, before opening his wings.

                                "Flows a bit fast and a bit deep to cross on foot, but I can easily fly across," he announced, "Shall we?"
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                                • #36

                                  Allyn nodded slowly. "Good idea," he replied, and sent the drone off in the opposite direction. Its cameras would be able to give them a good look at anything of interest, should there be anything other than forest and rocks to look at.

                                  He followed Kimrith to the river. "Oh, well, now you're speaking my language," he said, flexing his own wings. He'd been itching to take flight for a long while, and even though this would be a short hop, at least he'd still be airborne.

                                  "After you, Kimrith." he said, gesturing towards the bank. "I think our suits could handle the flow, but, why get wet when we can fly?"

                                  The Gyrfalcon seemed to be sounding more positive now. Perhaps the prospect of flying bolstered his morale, or maybe it was simply that he was adjusting to the situation. What Kimrith could tell, though, was that he was focused on the task, and not on what they'd lost.

                                  When Kimrith leapt into the air, Allyn waited a few seconds to give the dragon some space and then did the same. The thrusters on his suit easily able to get him into the air. His wings snapped out, flapped three times, and then he glided across after his team leader. He tried to keep his altitude low, at least until a proper aerial sweep was ordered.

                                  Regardless of the altitude, the sensation of wind on Allyn's wings was very pleasant. He muted his mic as he let out a satisfied and relieved sigh at the feel of it.

                                  After a few seconds, he unmuted, and reported back, "It feels great to fly again."
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                                  • #37

                                    Kimrith watched briefly as the drone headed off, following the cliff-face as it curved slowly around. One segment extended a bit more than a kilometre from the ship, but even from a short distance from the treetops, the drone could spot the sudden disappearance of foliage that told of the cliff continuing around to meet the slop of the mountain again.

                                    The only real thing of interest there was a second pack of the raptoroids, which had stopped what they were doing (seemingly traversing down the cliff by jumping from rock to rock) to watch the drone in open curiosity as it passed by.

                                    Kimrith chuckled.

                                    "Definitely true," he agreed. While his suit was watertight, it wasn't designed for water use; its plasma jets simply didn't work in that environment, nor did some of its weaponry.

                                    Spreading his wings wide, he briefly broke into a sprint, before launching himself into the air with a jet-assisted leap. This turned into true flight as the jets ignited again, propelling him across at low altitude - so low that some spray splattered on the suit before evaporating from the heat of the plasma jets - before being re-angled to help brake as Kimrith flared his wings wide for landing.

                                    The landing was surprisingly graceful for the bulky suit, though it still produced a thud that was clearly audible to Allyn.

                                    Kimrith gave his colleague a nod when the gyrfalcon mentioned how good it felt to fly again. He'd been feeling that itch, himself.

                                    "Yeah, I think we both needed that," he admitted, before pausing and leaning a little to one side, "Huh. Looks like we just found a way to get from the plateau to the base of the mountain and back."

                                    There was an especially craggy section of rock on the mountain face, where it met the plateau cliff.

                                    Kimrith stepped over to the edge and looked down, nodding to himself.

                                    "It's a bit of a climb if you're doing it unassisted, but doable for most species," he commented, before opening a channel to the ship.

                                    "Varainier to Myrmidon. Captain, we've found a route on and off of the plateau," he reported, "A rock-face that looks climbable."

                                    "Solid copy, Varainier. Once we've got some basic defences up, I'll send a group to set up a remote sensor pod at your current location."

                                    "Roger that. We're continuing our sweep; currently moving along the mountain-face."

                                    "Copy. Keep us posted. Myrmidon out."
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                                    • #38

                                      Allyn followed Kimrith's lead, though his traversal didn't require so much in the way of assistance. An initial burst to help the black GyrFalcon get airborne, then his wings and electromuscle wing-wraps did the rest. It was a tantalizingly short traversal. Feeling the sense of verticality, of wind over his suit, and of quick motion, it was a wonderful feeling for the bird.

                                      "You have no idea," he commented after taking to wing, his voice seeming to have a tone of barely contained relief and joy.

                                      As he came down for his landing, he backwinged and flapped rapidly, causing some brush and smaller pebbles to be blown around. The landing itself was a lot softer than Kimrith's had been, but that was to b expected, as even suited, Allyn weighed considerably less than Kimrith did.

                                      He looked down at the potential rocks. "It looks like a doable climb, at least for the time being. If we spend any amount of time here, the engineers might want to set up a elevator... Or, stairs for that matter."

                                      Allyn shrugged, "I'm not the one to figure that part out, anyway." he said as he looked around the area.

                                      He checked the signal again. It wasn't likely to have changed much. The distance that they'd just travelled wasn't all that significant, but it was still a change, and it might be enough to start making out words, and then, intents. They'd have to eventually come into contact with whoever is making that signal happen, and he'd like to know if they'd be potential allies or threats.

                                      As they resumed their circuit of the plateau, Allyn spoke up, "Did you notice how those rapteroids reacted to the drone? They didn't seem overly bothered by it. It's like they see things that big fly by all the time. I know we saw that insect analogue earlier, but I wonder if this planet has bird-analogues. As much as I would love to stay up in the air as much as possible, with the megafauna we've seen already, I don't think I'd like to run into this planet's version of a bird-of-prey." he paused for a moment, "Though I would certainly love to see one."

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                                      • #39

                                        Kimrith smiled within his helmet, before nodding when Allyn mentioned it being a doable climb and that they'd likely set up a safer means of traversal.

                                        "Yeah. But that's plans for later," he replied.

                                        The signal was just slightly stronger... Enough to just barely make out one word, and part of a second.

                                        The complete word was "Return", spoken in the same vocal form of Federation Trade that Kimrith did (though that wasn't saying all that much; most reptilian species did). The second sounded like a name - specifically that of a ship - but "Stry" was the only part that Allyn could make out, and was rather generic.

                                        Then, just seconds later, the signal cut, the conversation finally over.

                                        "Yeah, I did," Kimrith was replying to Allyn's question about the Raptoroids' behaviour, "And they probably do; after all, insect analogues tend to be in large numbers. And we're starting to see evidence of that," he added, indicating one such analogue that was buzzing over the river like a dragonfly.

                                        "As for avian analogues... I don't see the predators growing too much larger than you, actually," he stated, "The atmosphere isn't too much thicker than the average for L-congruous planets, despite the higher oxygen count. That means it can't support really large fliers... at least, not predatory ones."

                                        Kimrith's suit, like almost all models of Power Armour, carried a small barometre as part of its suite of sensors, as the data it provided was vital for the calculations used in sniping, and occasionally came in handy in other situations.

                                        "Still, caution is a good idea," he added, "We know very little about the local fauna."
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                                        • #40

                                          Allyn replayed the last of the transmission over and over, trying to make it out. It sounded very much like someone was being called back. Which begged the question, where were they being called back from? Was there a scout nearby, or perhaps a scouting group, even? Allyn didn't want to rule it out. He also pondered just how far away from them they might be. For the signal to be so degraded for his sensitive instruments, then it was likely the person receiving it would have to be far closer to the source. Which meant that perhaps they hadn't sent anyone to investigate the crash site.

                                          It was tough to tell, but Allyn was sure they'd be meeting these folks sooner rather than later.

                                          He nodded to Kimrith then, responding to his reply about large avian analogues. "You're probably right. Still, I'll stick to low altitudes for the moment. That said, It looks like we're coming around the perimeter." he said, pointing up at the sky and then flashing the video feed from the drone in their HUDs. "It can see us again, it seems."

                                          Allyn opened a channel to the ship, "This is Ryder. We've completed a circuit of the perimeter. Nothing that wants to eat us, yet."
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                                          “Just when you think humanity has found the limits of stupid, they go and ratchet up the standard by another notch.” - Bob

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