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  • #61

    "You got a point there," Kimrith commented, "Though we can't really expect a species like that to evolve into sapience within our lifespans, we should definitely study the native species, and keep an eye on them."

    The Crystal Dragon nodded in response to Allyn's supposition on the nature of the signal.

    "Agreed," he said, flinging himself off the cliff and igniting the jets. Many species would have trouble with that part, but Kimrith, being a Crystal Dragon, was able to fly unassisted while unarmoured; the move was second nature.

    He landed on the riverbank right as Allyn suggested making the most of the time they had available.

    "Yeah, let's keep moving," he replied, transitioning into a loping run that maintained a good portion of his momentum.



    He did indeed note that the the vegetation was more colourful; the tree trunks flushed more blue, the leaves similar.

    Additionally, there were flashes of other colour as a certain undergrowth plants responded to the soaking by coming into bloom. Most were various colours aside from blue or white, but Kimrith passed two different species of bush right near the river-bank that had blossomed a very pale blue, and a very vivid blue respectively.

    "Not sure. I think this is either sub-tropical or temperate evergreen forest," he commented, "I'm not seeing the explosion of colour you'd expect in spring so... maybe mid to late autumn or summer? Or... agh. You can never tell with differing planets."

    He went silent for a moment.

    "This river follows the mountains, but there's quite a bit of plant-life on both banks," he noted as he took to the air again, "Interesting. That indicates quite fertile soil. Volcanic? Or perhaps flood-silt? Hard to tell."

    The signal burped again, the voices a bit more easily picked out but still indecipherable even after enhancement. This time Kimrith's equipment picked it up, but much weaker.
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    • #62

      It was a lovely view from the air, though. That much Allyn did notice. The blues and whites reminded him of home, though, there they were associated with clouds and water.

      He filed the species of vegetation away, taking photographs for the science team to be able to examine. It was no effort at all for him to do while he was flying, so why not?

      Allyn's suit got another burst of signal, but it was still too weak to make much out. However, they were definitely going in the right direction.

      "Keep your eyes open for structures," Allyn remarked to Kimrith. "Though the signal's still weak, chances are we'll be getting into range soon, and that will mean we might enter their perimeter. If we do, we have no idea how they'll react, or, if we can even communicate at all. Signs seem to point to a language we can understand, but we can't be sure."

      The GyrFalcon panned his vision across the horizon to see if he could see anything of note.

      "I'm going to do a short active sensor sweep. Let's see what we can see," he said, then turned on his entire sensor array and took a survey for five seconds.
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      • #63

        "Will do, Allyn," Kimrith replied, "And yeah; what we've been hearing sounds a lot like Federation Trade, but given its nature..."

        He glanced at Allyn briefly when he mentioned doing an active sweep, before having to turn his attention back forward in order to land again.

        "Roger. This might let them know someone's out here, but it'll let us know what's around," he replied.

        The active sweep picked up lots of organic returns, which was to be expected given the biome, as well as some mineral traces, and what looked like a vein of ore - hematite, specifically - in the mountainside.

        There was, however, a small return in the direction they were traveling that registered as being refined metal - Titanium, from what the Zephyr suit's computer said - plus some synthetics.

        Of course, the signal started going nuts, with what sounded like questions being thrown left and right.

        Curiously, however, no active scans were sent back at them.

        "That's odd," Kimrith stated after a moment, "We should be getting pinged with sensors ourselves, the way they're reacting. Whoever they are, I don't think they've got working active sensors."

        A pause.

        "We're approaching that titanium signature. Let's have a quick look."

        He took off again, landing a short distance from the metal return, before kneeling to examine it.

        "It's a blade," he stated, reaching down and picking up the item, which resembled an oversized carving knife, "Titanium carbide. Not... great quality for its material. And it'srelatively new."

        He held up the dark-bladed tool for Allyn to see.

        "This was made of high-quality material, but with relatively primitive tools. Someone's been recycling broken tool heads."
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        • #64

          Allyn took stock of the readings, relaying them back to the Myrmidon for their people to look over. He looked over to Kimrith as the signals picked up, then.

          "Either they were expecting a transmission, or the scan registered as a transmission spike. I'm not seeing anything inbound yet, so it might mean they can't triangulate the signal to us. Still, they know someone's out there, now, and they know we can yell pretty loudly."

          The bird did a quick circle before coming down for a light landing. He padded over to Kimrith, taking the blade from him and looking it over. "Not a weapon, though it could be used as one. Looks more like a utility knife. Doesn't look like it's been out here too long, either. Maybe someone dropped it in their haste to get out of the storm." he said, shrugging.

          Allyn had a look around the area, "I suppose that spot over there could probably serve as a campsite in a pinch, but it wasn't used last night. I'm guessing they intended to, but when they saw the weather, found shelter elsewhere, and in a hurry."

          He handed the blade back to Kimrith, "You're right, though. Decent materials, but less than ideal workmanship. I'm starting to suspect whoever is on this planet with us may have ended up here in a similar way."
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          • #65

            "You're forgetting that passive sensors can pick up someone else's active scans," Kimrith replied, "Sensor emissions aren't in anything close to radio bands; the two bandwidths have differing properties."

            A pause.

            "I think the best analogy for what happened would be that they're a moth, and we're the bat that just chirped."

            He stood up, placing the knife in a hard-case on the left thigh of his suit, and looked in the direction the transmission was coming from.

            "So yeah, they know we're in the area, and they probably know we've got good sensors."

            He paused, tilting his head slightly to one side as he listened to the transmission.

            "They sound excited," he noted, before pausing as he noticed that the signal was becoming slightly clearer, "The signal's getting stronger; slowly, but steadily. One of the sources is getting closer."

            He clicked his teeth together in thought, before nodding.

            "Let's go meet them."

            He spread his wings and took to the air, his jets roaring.

            After another few minutes of travel, the signal cleared up enough that, while still riddled with static and difficult to make out, the voices in the signal were finally comprehensible. They were using Federation Trade, in a handful of differing forms.

            ":- annoyed that I lost my knife,:" one of them was saying, ":I just got the damn thing, and it slides out of its sheath in my first outing with it?:"

            ":Quit harping about it, Range,:" growled another, this one speaking with some authority, in the reptilian form, ":You've been complaining about it since we got back to the Stride yesterday.We know.:"

            Kimrith landed again, coming to a halt.

            "Stride," he muttered, his voice being transmitted via laser-comms to Allyn, "That's... That name is familiar..."

            He crossed his arms, tapping his chin with one manipulator claw.

            It abruptly stopped.

            "The Stride the Stars," he said after a long moment, "Ancestors... This is where she ended up."

            He turned to Allyn to explain.

            "I saw a documentary on the incident as a kid. The Stride, and the others of her class, were colony ships; big ones. And I mean really big; this was back in the days when Phase Drives were so large most ships had to be built around them.
            "The Stride and her sisters, on the other hand, were effectively mobile O'Neil colony cylinders; so big that they could mount even the enormous Phase Drives of the day like modern ships do theirs. They only had limited capacity in STL flight - less than a tenth of a gravity continuous thrust, if I'm remembering right - but they didn't need more than that; they were designed to become semi-permanent habitation and industrial stations upon reaching their destination."

            He paused.

            "Most of the ships made it to their destinations without problems. The Stride herself had plotted a course leading in the same direction as ours. She suffered a malfunction upon jump, which was later proven to be a Runaway from the anomalous phasing, and disappeared, never being heard from again."

            He looked in the direction the signal was coming from.

            "Until now."

            He paused for a moment, before opening the line to the Myrmidon.

            "Myrmidon, this is Varainier. The source of the signal has been identified; the missing colony vessel Stride the Stars. Advise?"

            There was a moment of silence on the line.

            ":Come again, Varainier?:" Captain Nightfang's voice replied, ": Did you say the Stride the Stars?:"

            "Yes, Captain," Kimrith replied, "We have their chatter on radio, and they specifically used the name 'Stride'. Sir, that's the only ship with that name known to have Runaway in this direction."

            The line was silent for a long moment. In the background, the Stride group was caught up in speculating on Allyn's active sensor burst, and his identity. "Range" was getting a bit wild with his speculation, and the reptilian-voiced leader now sounded resigned in what little she added into the conversation.

            ":Initiate radio contact,:" Nightfang replied, ":Be upfront with them about who we are and how we ended up on this planet. However, you are not to mention our numbers, in personnel or material, or our current readiness level.:"

            "Understood, sir," Kimrith replied, before turning to Allyn again, "I think we'll need to get closer before they'll be able to actually hear us; civilian radios don't tend to be as sensitive as military ones, even to civil bandwidths."
            Last edited by Arratra; 2 weeks ago. Reason: Errant emoticon
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            • #66

              Allyn pondered Kimrith's explanation for a few moments. If he had hackles, they'd be rising.

              Two Runaways and both ships ended up on this planet? Something was a bit off about that. With the time-gap between the two events, Allyn did have to dismiss the idea that they were related and deliberate. However, that brought up another possibility. What if there is something about this part of space? Maybe this planet was a lightning rod, of sorts.

              "You know, it's possible this planet is part of the Runaway events. I'll investigate the data later, but it seems a little too coincidental that two ships, so far apart would end up on the same planet, unless of course, the planet itself had some sort of phenomenon that drew ships here." he shrugged, then got back on task.

              "The Stride the Stars... That'd mean thee folks have been here a good while. Which, bodes well for our survivability." he commented.

              Allyn listened to the radio chatter, then glanced at the Knife that Kimrith had tucked away. "He'll be happy to have that back, it seems." he said with a chuckle.

              The bird took to the sky just after Kimrith did, "If you want me to get a message to them, I can do it. But, maybe we shouldn't advertise all of our capabilities just yet." he thought aloud, "They might be from the Stride, but we don't really have any idea what sort of people they are now. The Captain's right to be cautious here."

              As they flew further, the signals did become clearer and clearer, almost static free. A message from a standard radio would cross this distance without any trouble. "Right, we're in range, Kimrith. Do you want to do the honours, or should I?"
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              • #67

                "You think something pulled both ships here?" Kimrith asked, before frowning, "It's... not impossible. Only gravity is known to be able to effect ships in phase - and even then only by pulling them back out - but there's phenomena in known space that people don't understand yet."

                He shook his head.

                "We'll need to take a look at the records;compare the intended courses of the two ships. If the Stride's intended course isn't in the Myrmidon's library, it should be aboard the colony ship herself."

                He nodded when Allyn mentioned how long the ship had been on the planet.

                "A bit over a hundred years," he agreed, giving a slight "shrug" when the gyrfalcon mentioned the knife, before spreading his wings and launching himself into the air.

                He nodded in response to Allyn's comment on the Captain's caution.

                "Indeed. There's little way to know what kind of culture has developed in the time they've been here."

                Kimrith landed again right before Allyn stated they were in range, and came to a halt.

                "I'll do it," he replied, before bringing a manipulator up to his helmet.

                "Stride scout group. This is Kimrith Varanier, Myrmidon scout group. How copy? Over."

                There was an explosion of excited chatter on the other end.

                ":It's a rescue ship!:"

                ":Grandpa said this'd never happen!:"

                ":Looks like he was-.:

                ":Be silent, both of you!:" barked the leader, closely followed by a pair of clangs coming across the line, ":My apologies, Myrmidon group. My men seem to have become too excited and jumped to conclusions. We read you loud and clear. Over.:"

                Kimrith blinked. That was military terminology. Old military terminology; the particular term the leader (a female, going by her voice) had used was no longer widely used - hadn't been for more than fifty years when he went through boot - but Kimrith knew it.

                There were some species in the Federation that could that had life-spans much longer than that, however; his own among them.

                "Understood, Stride group," he replied, "However, I have to correct your subordinates; we are not a rescue mission. The Avenger-class mercenary assault-transport Myrmidon is shipwrecked, following a Phase Drive Runaway and crash-landing at the edge of the mountain range."

                ": Oh...:" Range mumbled.

                ": I had a feeling that was the case,:" the leader said, ": Didn't want to lend it credence given how unlikely it was... Two Runaway accidents that lead both ships to crash on the same planet. In the same mountain range, at that?:"

                "My partner had the same thoughts," Kimrith replied, before pausing, "Who are, you by the way?"

                ": Oh, where are my manners. Alinda Shardhorn, Sergent Major ret., Hundred and Eighty-Eighth Jump Battalion:"

                Kimrith's eyebrows shot up at this.

                The name was a Crystal Dragon one, though it had been spoken in Federation Trade rather than its original form. Which was quite unusual; many Crystal Dragons were rather particular that their surnames be used properly, and refused to translate it into Federation Trade.

                Even Kimrith used his surname in its base form, very rarely sharing its translation. Not even Allyn, who had become a good friend over the last six months, knew.

                There was also the unit she'd once belonged to; the Hundred Eighty-Eighth Jump Battalion had once been an elite group of "Jump Infantry"; troops that used either natural abilities or technology to perform massive leaps across the battlefield to attain a tactical or strategic advantage.

                The unit had been absorbed into - or, perhaps more accurately, evolved into - the First Armoured Infantry following the advent of true Power Armour, about five years prior to the Stride accident, as the tactics involved suited jump-mobile suits extremely well.

                ":With me are Range Ashmane, tracker; Chokal, medic; Magmus Stonescale, close-quarters specialist; Verex Farstride, working-animal handler; and Brina Skywing, markswoman:" Alinda continued.

                "I'm Kimrith Varainier, Sergent Major ret, First Armoured Infantry," Kimrith replied without thinking, "With me is signals and electronic warfare specialist Allyn Ryder."

                There was a brief pause.

                ":Well, that explains how you knew to come this way,:" Alinda said, ":I'd like to talk face-to-face. There's a curve in the river about five kilometres from where I'm standing; I'm guessing that's roughly the halfway point between us. Rendezvous there? It'll take us... about half an hour to reach it.:"

                Kimrith considered for a moment.

                "What do you think, Allyn?" he asked, muting his mic for the moment.
                Last edited by Arratra; 2 weeks ago. Reason: Errant emoticon
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                • #68

                  Allyn listened to the conversation but didn't say anything. That was quite the scout group they had going there. A varied set of skills.

                  "A six-person squad. We'd be outnumbered three to one if things go south. Still, given the knife, you've got there, and the range of their radios, I think we could take them if it came to that." he said, considering.

                  "We should go, though. It'll take them half an hour to get there, but it won't take us that long. I'll send the drone ahead of us so we can know ahead of time what we're getting into." the bird said, considering the situation. He couldn't discount the fact that they might turn hostile. There was also the possibility they'd be terrified on seeing their suits. Still, from Alinda's initial communication, Allyn didn't get the sense that there was any subterfuge going on.

                  "Something about the way she sounds is familiar. She sounds, kind of like you in her vocal cadence." Allyn remarked. "Anyway, the Captain left contact up to us. I think we make contact. There might be danger, but I think there's an equal possibility for a lot of good to come from this meeting."
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                  • #69

                    Kimrith nodded.

                    "Right," he replied, nodding, before re-opening the mic, "We'll meet you there."

                    ":Roger that,:" Alinda replied, ":We're Oscar Mike.:"

                    Kimrith muted the mic again, before turning to Allyn.

                    "She would," he informed Allyn, "We're the same species, after all."

                    Various species would have differing accents - usually multiple different accents within the same species - even if they spoke the same version of Federation Trade. They were usually minor, with the accents being perfectly understandable, but quirks like specific cadences and non-standard syntax structures sometimes happened.

                    "Let's get moving," Kimrith added, spreading his wings and preparing to take to the air again, "We've got a rendezvous to make."

                    :::

                    The pair got to the specified location ahead of the people they were to meet; being able to fly meant that they got there inside of ten minutes.

                    The wait was uneventful, aside from a pteradactyl-analogue swooping right past them on its way to the river to catch a fish-analogue.

                    Kimrith took the opportunity to more closely examine the plant-life, documenting it for the science team on the Myrmidon.

                    He turned away from that a few moments before the Stride scouts emerged from the trees, having picked them up on his sensors.

                    The six of them froze for a moment on seeing the pair, giving Kimrith a very good look at them.

                    There was a female Crystal Dragon (definitely Alinda), a wolf, an insectoid Shree, a Magma Dragon, an Utahraptor, and a fairly young female gyrfalcon.

                    They were all clad in heavily-modified Exoskells, which had metal plates welded on as armour, and were accompanied by a local raptoroid that stood at the Utahraptor's side.

                    Huh... so it's as I thought; they can be tamed and trained.

                    "Huh. You were sent out wearing Power Armour," Alinda stated, giving them both a once-over, "So those are modern designs. Much better than the designs I saw before the accident. And a good choice to use them; we've seen some pretty big predators."

                    Kimrith popped up his suit's visor and stepped closer.

                    "It's good to meet you," he said, giving them a respectful nod. He didn't extend his hand, however; the gesture was considered rude for someone wearing Power Armour, particularly ones with weaponised fingers, and was very rarely used by Crystal Dragons anyways; they didn't tend to understand it well, as the display frills on their wrists had rendered the "arm clasp" other species had used pointless (since weapons couldn't be hidden there without risking damage to them).

                    This close, he could see the signs of aging on Alinda's face; her scales were worn, the edges of her display frills slightly ragged, and her gems were somewhat dulled - a slightly greyish shade of green rather than the emerald they had likely been when she was younger.
                    Last edited by Arratra; 2 weeks ago. Reason: Adding additional details
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                    • #70

                      Allyn spent the time taking video and making small-talk with Kimrith. As far as meeting places went, this was as good as any. It didn't look like it was a particularly good spot to ambush anyone, either. Allyn had noticed that as the drone flew in, and it had put part of his mind at ease.

                      As the scouts came into view, he spent a moment to quickly scan their suits. Standard exo-skels modified with armour plating. It was what he expected a resourceful crew would come up with.

                      Looking over the others, it was clear that diversity was still present, even one hundred years later.

                      That bode well for their culture not having gone completely down the toilet. It seemed, at least from first impressions that regression hadn' happened.

                      Allyn was getting too far into the social studies weeds, and he snapped his mind back to the here-and-now.

                      The bird popped his own visor open, it flowed more than pop, the malmetal re-arranging itself to uncover Allyn's face. He remained quiet until Kimrith and Alinda had exchanged introductions before speaking up, himself. "I'm Allyn Ryder. SigInt and EW Specialist. Nice to meet you all." he said, but his gaze ended up lingering on the Gyrfalcon. He was actually quite relieved to know there was at least one more Gyrfalcon on the planet. That sense of loneliness he had been feeling was slowly starting to fade with the new knowledge.
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                      • #71

                        The group was indeed quite diverse, and didn't seem to have regressed at all.

                        It spoke well of the ship's leaders, and of the old-guard of persons from long-lived species that had to be aboard as well.

                        The gyrfalcon caught Allyn looking. Rather than being offended, however, she self-consciously brushed at the snowy-white plumage above her eye, apparently somewhat flattered.

                        She was a white-morph, going by the plumage she had visible, and thus had a snowy-white colouration compared to Allyn's greyscale plumage. The armour hid her figure, however, and also covered her wings. Probably smart, given that the added plating would make flying next to impossible.

                        "You as well," Alinda replied, a slight smile showing that she'd caught the byplay, before turning to Kimrith, "We were heading up the river to check an impact site, near the plateau. Big fireball; would've expected a massive impact, but we felt nothing. That was you?"

                        Kimrith nodded.

                        "Yeah," he replied, "We landed further up the river."

                        He would have continued, but Alinda's eyebrow ridges had just shot upwards.

                        "We landed at the same river?" She asked, "What the hell kind of long odds is it for that to happen?"

                        "Really long." the stone-grey Magma Dragon rumbled, a pulse of fiery-orange bio-luminescence flashing beneath the craggy scales on his cheeks and forehead.

                        There was a pause at that, before Kimrith straightened.

                        "Ah, yeah," he said, opening the hard-case and pulling out the knife. He then offered it to Range, grip-first, "I believe this is yours."

                        "My knife!" Range cheered, taking the blade with a grin, "Where the heck was it?"

                        "About eight kilometres back that way," Kimrith replied, jerking a thumb over his shoulder.
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                        • #72

                          Allyn's eyes glittered at the sight of her. Just seeing another one of his species was a huge relief. He noted she was about a third taller than he was, as females of the species were always larger than the males. At least some things hadn't yet changed.

                          He glanced over to Alinda, then Range.

                          "There's something going on with this planet, or, at least the space around it. I'm almost convinced now. There are just far too many coincidences piling up for them to be just coincidences, now." he said, tapping his beak in thought with the talon of one of his suit hands.

                          Allyn looked over to Kimrith, then. "We should report in. Off the top of my head, I'm going to say we're probably on the same side, here. I think we need to get our captains talking." he said a genuine sense of excitement in the air.

                          He spent a moment trying to recall what the Gyrfalcon's name was... "Brina, if I remember correctly? What's your range?" he asked casually, noting her weapon.
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                          • #73

                            Kimrith nodded thoughtfully.

                            "It might be a spatial anomaly around the system, or maybe the planet itself, but we're going to need to explore the area to find out," he stated.

                            Alinda nodded.

                            "We've noted some signs of ruins, but the mountains are difficult to traverse without equipment that we don't have," she explained, "We couldn't reach them."

                            The two Crystal Dragons looked at Allyn, and nodded.

                            "Agreed," they said in unison.

                            "I need to check in with my Captain, too," Alinda stated. She pulled a handset - recognizably from a model of civilian radio available at the time of the accident - and started speaking into it, reporting what had happened, and their deductions.

                            Kimrith placed two fingers to the side of his helmet, opening the channel to the Myrmidon.

                            "Captain Nightfang. We've made friendly contact with a scouting party from the Stride. A cooperative effort has been proposed to find out why two ships landed so close together following Runaway."

                            There was a moment's silence as this was parsed, before Captain Nightfang responded.

                            ":Understood, Varainier, and agreed. Something doesn't add up here.:"

                            There was a moment's pause.

                            ":With the situation stabilised, and contact with friendlies with knowledge of the local terrain and wildlife, I believe I can begin organising additional scouting parties,:" Captain Nightfang continued, ":If we got pulled here, it's possible that whatever did so might prevent ships from approaching. We'll want to find out.:"

                            While this conversation was going on, Brina replied to Allyn's question.

                            "That's me," She replied, before pausing, "My range... Well, unfortunately I'm kinda limited by my equipment."

                            She looked down at the enormous rifle in her hands. At a closer look, it was a re-tooled bolt-action hunting rifle, one built for a larger species, designed to take down megafauna.

                            "We don't have the capacity to make really high-precision ammunition or barrels," she explained, "Since the Stride wasn't carrying that kind of equipment. So, ah... With this girl here, I can land a shot on a Cliff Climber at a bit over a mile, but after that accuracy really starts degrading; nothing I can do. Inside that though... I, ah... I'm the best-rated shooter for accuracy we have."

                            She sounded slightly nervous speaking about that; she clearly wasn't one to brag.

                            "What about you, though? You're... electronic warfare? I think that was the term Alinda used?"
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                            • #74

                              Allyn couldn't help but note that even after all these years, those of the same species tended to want to stick together. He gave the rest of Alinda's scouting party warm, receptive looks, to make sure nobody felt left out, but he had to focus on Brina since she was now speaking to him.

                              "A mile? almost 2km?" he asked, looking at the weapon she was holding, "That's pretty impressive, for sure." he said, continuing to parse what she'd said, "Cliff-climbers... Those large Gecko-like creatures? They seemed harmless enough. Any reason you'd need to shoot one?" he asked, curious. This group would have a lot more experience with the fauna of this planet, having been here for at least 2 generations, unless he missed his guess. It also was a handy opening for the group's other members to get in on the conversation, should they want to.

                              "As for me, yes, Electronic Warfare. I used to be a computer security specialist but got tired of being blamed for company after company's data breaches. The same data breaches that I told them how to prevent, if they'd spend the resources to do so." he said, shrugging, "I figured, with my skill set, I could be of some use to a good company." he continued, glancing over to Kimrith, "Luckily, that opportunity eventually presented itself. Though to be more effective in the sorts of situations they tended to end up in, I would need to get my own suit. So Kimrith put some techs on the problem and we came up with the Zephyr, here."

                              Allyn tapped the side of his helmet with a taloned finger. "So now I can do what I do, which is signals processing, interception, decryption, and the occasional bit of system infiltration." he glanced over to the radio that Alinda was using, "Technically, that's encrypted, but those algorithms were open-sourced a long time ago so they're part of my scanning suite. That's how I was able to jump onto your comms. Finding where your signals were coming from, well that was just basic triangulation. Take reading from three or more different locations and plot the strength." he shrugged, pausing a moment. If birds could blush, he would have. He sounded like quite the jerk at that moment. "Anyway, I'm basically a geek with a particular set of skills that wanted to do some good in this world."
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                              • #75

                                The rest of the team gave Allyn respectful nods when he met their eyes (Range also waved).

                                Brina brushed at her head plumage self-concsiously at the complement.

                                She nodded when Allyn asked about Cliff Climbers.

                                "Yes," she explained, "And it's to get at their eggs, which we hatch and raise; we're trying to breed them. The parents guard their nests, though, and they can cause quite a bit of damage even through metal plating when they put their mind to it, for all that they're normally quite docile. Tame Cliff Climbers looked to be our best bet at getting deeper into the mountains, until you guys showed up."

                                Brina tilted her head slightly as Allyn explained his past, and what he'd done. She seemed genuinely intrigued, or maybe slightly lost (some of the others were starting look a bit confused).

                                Or perhaps a bit distracted; she jumped when Alinda broke in.

                                "I'm not surprised," the Crystal Dragon said. "It's a civilian band, and civilian-grade encryption. We've been using the encryption purely because it improves reception when we're pushing the range. Not much, but better than nothing."

                                She glanced at Brina, and her eyes softened, before turning to Kimrith as the other Crystal Dragon lowered his hand from his helmet.

                                "Captain Nightfang has agreed to come to the Stride to meet with your captain," he said, "And we're going to be sending out additional scouting parties."

                                "Sounds good. With your help, we might finally be able to get deeper into the mountains," Alinda said, nodding.

                                Something might strike Allyn at this moment; of the six members of the squad, three were capable of flying. That would bypass treacherous land terrain, so there had to be another, additional reason for why they had so much trouble with the mountains.
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                                Insatiable Curiosity

                                Major Leon Stormstrider

                                Varatyr Scorchtalon

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                                • #76

                                  Allyn nodded slowly. He looked over at the rapteroid standing nearby, then back at Brina. "So at least two of the native species have been somewhat domesticated by you folks. I think we'll need to pick your brains on the do's and don'ts regarding the local flora and fauna." he said, pondering riding on a 'cliff-climber' as they were referring to the geckoids as.

                                  He glanced over to Alinda and Kimrith once they spoke up. "Excellent. What does he want us to do in the meantime?" he asked Kimrith, before turning back to Brina. He didn't correct Alinda on the encryption boosting the range. It was a pedantic point, and he didn't want to come off as a 'well actually' type of person. It wasn't the encryption itself that helped to boost the range, it was the compression that came along with it. With the encryption algorithm on, data was first compressed, making the packets smaller. Smaller packets meant a signal could lose a few and still be intelligible. If you got too far, though, as Kimrith and Allyn had been, you wouldn't hear much.

                                  "Say, I notice that three of you could probably fly. So what's the big issue with the mountains? High winds? Or, a predator that makes its nest there, maybe?" he asked, trying to put the pieces together. He suspected that even if they sent in only fliers, then they'd be able to at least get there. Whether everyone had the needed skills to make the mission work, though, he wasn't yet sure.

                                  "so..." Allyn ventured, making small-talk to pass the time, "What do you folks do for fun around here? How's the food? More importantly, can we make beer?"
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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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                                  • #77

                                    "Nearly completely domesticated, with the Rock-hoppper Raptors," Verex replied, giving his animal a good rub on the head, which earned a pleased croon, "We've been breeding them for about ninety years now, and they're really surprisingly trainable these days."

                                    "Even with solitary species, you can get surprisingly far in just sixty, if they breed fast enough," Kimrith commented. "In a pack species like these guys, I imagine it's even faster."

                                    Verex raised a brow ridge, but nodded in understanding.

                                    Kimrith turned to Allyn when he asked what they were to do in the meantime.

                                    "Captain Nightfang wants us to travel to the Stride and meet him there," he explained, before turning to Alinda. "If that's all right with you, of course."

                                    She nodded.

                                    "Of course," she replied, "I'll be glad to show you around."

                                    She paused for a moment.

                                    "I imagine you have questions, so go ahead and ask while we walk."

                                    "High winds," Magmus rumbled in reply to Allyn's question about why they couldn't fly, "Treacherous air currents."

                                    "Indeed," Brina sighed, "We haven't been able to explore that far, but there seems to be some geography that funnels a strong north-south wind current right through the mountains in this area. There's treacherous wind vortexes all over the place even in good weather. Outright tornadoes are common during storms at certain times of year. Not this one, fortunately; it's mainly late spring through summer."

                                    "We're currently in the best time of year when it comes to weather," Chokal buzzed. "Autumn doesn't have the tornadoes, and doesn't have the thick snow and blizzards that come with winter."

                                    Allyn's following blitz of questions earned some chuckles.

                                    "There's quite a bit to do even during down-time," Alinda said. "The Stride's media library is intact, as are the entertainment amenities and such. Though we've had to move them, given the orientation the ship ended up in. Stern-down," she added at Kimrith's querying look, "The hab cylinder cracked - there's a hole in it at ground level - but is otherwise intact. We still live inside, though we had to rearrange the furniture back when we arrived, and a lot of the suites have since been renovated to accomodate the change."

                                    "As to your other questions," Verex continued, "The food's pretty good. Probably not what you're used to; we've definitely picked up some quirks since arriving. We farm, mostly, and supplement that with hunting and wild-foraged fruits and vegetables."

                                    "We don't tend to eat Cliff Climber, by the way," Brina added, "We've had to do it as an emergency measure in the past, but it's not ideal. The meat's greasy, and difficult to cook in a way that makes it palatable."

                                    "And yes, we make beer," Alinda interjected, obviously amused, "The Stride had a supply of seeds, which included barley and hops. I don't drink beer, so I can't tell you how it differs from other varieties out there, though."

                                    A pause.

                                    "We also make some wines from local fruit," she added, causing Kimrith to tilt his head curiously, "I'll pour some up for us when we get back. They're quite good, actually. Nicely fruity."
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                                    Fanfiction


                                    Deviantart


                                    Insatiable Curiosity

                                    Major Leon Stormstrider

                                    Varatyr Scorchtalon

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                                    • #78

                                      Allyn took it all in. He looked over to the rapteroid, or rock-hopper as he now knew them to be called. They were here first, so Allyn would go with the terminology that had already been established. It just made communicating easier.

                                      He was no expert on breeding and training techniques, but the proof that they could be domesticated was standing not too far from him.

                                      "Any other species we should know about, then?" Allyn ventured, they'd implied there were some nasties to be aware of, and it was going to be a long walk, so Allyn decided he'd try to learn up as he went.

                                      He nodded when Magnus told him of the winds in the mountains. "I think I'm going to want to take a look at that. I'm sure the science team will want to send out a weather balloon to get some readings." he said, looking back at his wings and the augment wraps on them, then shook his head, "Even with these, I don't think I could stay airborne in severe winds."

                                      That had been a lot of answers to take in. He was still a little surprised that things were going so well. They had a wealth of media and entertainment, which no doubt could be added to. Recipes for food, drinks, and local medicinal compounds. This was probably going to be a good outing if the two captains ended up hitting it off. That wasn't in his hands though, sadly.

                                      Out loud, he said "Well, hopefully, Forbidden Planet was in your library." he said with a nod to Kimrith, "Storage and media services is also kind of my thing, so if the captains sign of, you'll probably be seeing more of me."

                                      Allyn winced at the mention of how the Stride landed, "Ouch. that sounds like a really rough landing. I'm going to guess that no propulsion systems were salvageable?" He had no doubt the answer would be a yes.

                                      He fell in with the group as they started off towards the Stride. Unconsciously, he ended up near Brina. "If I might ask, is there anyone else from Ascenseon here?"
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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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