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File 170378974458.png - (272.28KB , 800x600 , fop2-title.png )
1079954 No. 1079954 ID: e139aa

Flockload of Problems II

Part I: >>/questarch/1066631
Discussion: >>/questdis/139947

NSFW because nudity and probably other things, 18+, etc. etc.

Continued apologies to Lagotrope, Slinko, Typo and Roaway.
32 posts omitted. Last 100 shown. Expand all images
No. 1081659 ID: 8f9bc4

He may be a mass murderer, but My.a's dream was a rare moment of vulnerability, and he's terrified you would tell someone who could use it against him. Let him know you won't tell anyone about the dream, and you promise not to sing the song again. It's not the only thing in your head you have to keep quarantined. (not that you are going to think about any of that stuff.)

Please don't bring up all the information you have on his very painful and troubled past that he would rather not think about either. Don't bring up Mu.at until you know more about the Lord, and whether it would be worth digging up old skeletons out of My.a's closet.

Oh but don't learn more about Mu.at. Lord Vi.al specifically discouraged you from looking into it. I'm just talking about when you inevitably learn more about Mu.at, because fallout from his shit keeps coming up to plague you.
No. 1081661 ID: 273c18

Looking like there's not going to be a consensus here, so I'll throw some of my weight behind two things:
1, don't mention Mu.at
2, do ask about why My.a hates Vi.al. What's this about him being a traitor?
No. 1081667 ID: 32f136

I'm sorry
No. 1081670 ID: 47be2d

"From what little I know of your past it sucked. So is it weird that despite all you've done I still want to help? Or at least ensure you're a better influence on your adopted kids?"
No. 1081695 ID: 1cc7d1

Always good to see you make a nice update, Cirr!

So, in order...

A cart is useful. Perhaps you could make it like the caravans of old, or maybe like an RV. That way you won't need to waste energy to make it into shelter. As for energy, do you not have access to solar panels? It would be good to install those on the roof of the cart so that it can passively generate power to offset any that is used, or to build a charge.
As for a weapon, you're not good in close quarters, so a bow does seem to be the best idea. Any lightweight armour or shields you can use would be helpful.
It would also be good to try and build up some extra food rations in the event that you get stranded.

As for My.a... Why does she call Vi.al *lurid*? I get the colour and vivid part, but the word is also commonly used for sexual things. What is going on there?
For all of My.a being not such a good fellow, she does care a lot about the physical well-being of Va.ne.tu and Vy.zi.ki.
As for that song, what's the deal with it? That was a side of My.a we've never seen before, and I am not sure it this side is more or less dangerous than the usual one. I get the feeling if she ever drops the theatrics again, you will be in danger. Without the acting and the clowning around, she would just go straight for your throat, whereas she would normally toy with you enough for you to slip out of danger.

If you have a chance to say something, why not tell her that you'll try to look out for Va.ne.tu and Vy.zi.ki? They seem to be her only anchors to anything resembling morality that doesn't consider constructs disposable.
No. 1084896 ID: e139aa
File 170922718430.png - (870.91KB , 800x600 , fop2-8.png )

> boomerang
An intriguing notion to examine in a less critical time.

> say you're sorry
"I'm sorry. For whatever it's worth. I don't know what you've gone through, but you've suffered and been hurt. So I'm sorry."

My.a looks at me quietly, and the silence almost hurts with how long it seems to feel.

"Sorry for what? For wasting my time? If you're trying to apologise on behalf of those you think wronged me, your ignorance, your profound ignorance of everything, makes this an insult more than anything else."

I can't bring myself to say anything. My wingarms wring together.

My.a looks at me, and sighs. "I won't accept your apology, because it is meaningless. The intent is also meaningless. I see you shifting. Anxious. Afraid. This is the way it always is, isn't it? Why would an apology from anything beneath a Lord ever feel genuine, when placating your superiors is baked into your very essence? When appeasing the big, scary, dangerous Lord is a survival strategy? It doesn't matter, it can't matter. The power dynamics keep refusing to change. I don't think they ever can."

My.a screeches. Their form distorts as they scream into the radio waves. I'm taken aback. I've seen My.a mad, but not... despairingly mad. I back away from the monitors.
"Everything I accuse Vi.al of, I have done tenfold myself! I am a monster, Vi.si.mi, and do you think I don't know this?? I am too far down this path to turn back now! The only way out is through!! But you know what? You know what?! I do not pretend to be above it all! I do not pretend to be a paragon of morality! I do not go around sentencing others to eternal imprisonment because they have simply ceased to be of use to me! Vi.al used me, used me as a piece of furniture to climb to the top! If Vi.al had their way, I would never speak to any other again, because the secrets I hold are far too inconvenient for them to ever be let out!"

My.a stops, violent outburst of emotion spent, trying to regain their composure. Their body's angles soften. "And if I were to tell you them, well. You know, information can be dangerous. I will tell you one thing, though. Share it at your peril. Did Vi.al tell you they were instantiated as a Lord, directly?"

"...yes?" I feel my stomach ball up.

"What a Vi.al thing to say." My.a grins, but it feels more out of malice than joy. "Something correct on its own terms. There was no Vi.al that was not a Lord. But, it's so misleading and misdirecting it might as well be a blatant lie. It's true, but it implies there was nothing before Vi.al, the Lord, doesn't it?"
No. 1084897 ID: e139aa
File 170922722088.png - (580.66KB , 800x600 , fop2-9.png )

Oh no. I think I have a horrible realisation. Well, it's unlikely, but the possibility...

"...is Lord Vi.al Mu.at???"

My.a stops, frozen mid-gesture.

"Is... what... wow, wow, hold on a second. Wow. Wowwww. That was your first guess? That was your first guess?? Wow okay no you can't deduce a thing to save your life, wow are you sure you're Vi.al's construct? Oh wow. Wow wow wow. Please please tell me your reasoning."
"W-w-well, uhhhh, you hate Vi.al, uh, Vi.al has said their parent Lord should be forgotten, Mu.at is dead, uh, Mu.at was a great architect and Vi.al likes that sort of thing too, maybe Vi.al renamed themselves from Mu.at??" I feel like I'm digging myself into a hole of regret with every word. When My.a is the one looking at me in bewildered, mildly concerned confusion, something feels deeply wrong.

At least I'm a little bit relieved to be this wrong, in some way.

My.a stares at me, but then starts counting on their digits, looking thoughtful.

"I suppose you were born after the most direct counterproof to your very, very bad theory. Did you never wonder why the Blot is mostly centred on Mu.at's former domain? My home? My old home? Gone forever?"
"It was related to Starmover being destroyed, wasn't it?"

My.a pulls at their face with their winghands. "Oh wow, if that's the best we have to work with here, sure, yeah. Anyway, no. Well, yes. Yes, extremely, actually. Hey, if you were given the choice to fire an extremely dangerous experimental weapon at an extremely dangerous and poorly understood enemy, would you take that risk?"

My.a shakes their head. "Don't even bother answering that question. Everyone always says no until the weapon is in their hands. It's a funny thing, power. But no. Vi.al is not Mu.at. Mu.at is dead. Dead dead dead. Dead dead very dead. Very, very dead. I made very, very sure of it. Did Vi.al ever tell you why I was to be imprisoned? Or, the reason they gave to everyone else, beyond their own selfish desires?"

I slowly shake my head.

"It's quite simple. They claim I killed Mu.at."
"You didn't?"
No. 1084898 ID: e139aa
File 170922726388.png - (604.87KB , 800x600 , fop2-10.png )

My.a smiles, beak open wide. "Let's go on a little journey. I like stories. You're in a wasteland, scorched dead from some horrible weapon beyond your understanding. A wall of fire still comes towards you and you run, because anything else just means you'll be swallowed by the flames. Besides you, a great and terrible beast is also running. You know, deep in your heart, that it would lunge at you and crunch you in its jaws at any time if it felt so inclined. You run. You run until your legs hurt. You run until your legs start to break. Because if you stop, that wall of flame is going to reach you."

My.a makes a little teal flame flicker into existence at the edge of a wingtip, miming a running figure with their other hand.

"You keep running, and the beast is beside you. Maybe it's gaining on you. Maybe it's falling behind. You can't tell. You just keep running, but the wall of fire keeps moving. And then you hear a terrible screaming. The beast has caught fire. It's still running, but it's burning. You can hear it scream, you can hear it flail. You keep running. The fire will not stop. You have to keep going. It feels like it never ends. You feel like you're going to die, either from the flames engulfing you, or your body breaking down. It becomes hopeless."

My.a waves the flame away.

"But it stops. It does stop, and the burning beast still stands. And it looks to you, murder in its eyes, as if you were the cause of this. And its jaws open, and you know, for sure, regardless of the pain and failings of its body, that the beast intends to kill you. To eat you alive. To take you into itself again. As you once were, you will become again. Void. Nothing. It screams for your flesh. Your precious, uncharred flesh, with which it can renew its weak, withering body. You were always its to control, you were always part of it, and to refuse this call is irrelevant. Accepting the call is death. Refusing the call is death."

My.a spins a strand of substrate between their winghands, and pulls it apart.

"So you have two choices. Be eaten... Or eat the beast yourself!"

And then My.a violently clamps their beak around the strand, pulling their beak back and snapping it.

"Every fibre of your body screaming at you to stop, that this is not the thing to do. You understand directives, yes? Directives to never, ever bring harm to something like this. But it doesn't matter. [Year] after [decade] of this threat, this promise the beast has made, one day to bring your flesh into its fold if ever you fail it, a sword hanging above your head for your entire life. The beast raises the sword, and you can take no more. You can take no more. If only one can survive, it is going to be you. You will do the unthinkable, and you will commit the crime all Lords fear from their partitions. An act of consumption forever separating who you were from who you now become. The unforgivable act of usurpation. The unforgivable act of proving the hierarchy of the Lords to be an illusion, to cement a power more fragile than you might think. To allow those at the top to do whatever they please to the ones at the bottom."

My.a shrugs, grinning.

"Forgive me if I stop the story there, but I'd rather you ask Vi.al what happened next. What happened when they heard my cries for help. What they thought the appropriate action to take was. What made them think, after everything that had happened between us, after what I just went through, that I would ever go quietly!"

"You seem... awfully upbeat about this," I say, uncomfortable.
"Oh, I'm just happy to finally be able to tell a story again. It's been so long! Va.ne.tu's heard all of them, Vy.zi.ki's not ready for the ones I haven't shared with her yet, and, well, what else am I going to do? Make new stories? Well! I guess in a way, I already am!"

My.a makes a dramatic flourish.

"Speaking of! I've wasted entirely too much time regaling you with tales of before your time. Enjoy your truce time! It's ticking away! But one moment, another thought for you to ponder. A little thing to waste your time pondering, as the cost for my tale. If you found yourself at a crossroads, with each path saving only one thing you care deeply about and costing you everything else, which path would you take? Would you even move at all? ...Just a fun little thing to ponder! Haha! Nothing more! Goodbye! Bye! Byyee!!"

And then My.a is gone from all my screens before I can say anything further.
No. 1084900 ID: e139aa
File 170922738497.png - (402.06KB , 800x600 , fop2-11.png )


So boomerang. Yes. I--


What now.

Incoming transmission? From... Li.ni.si? Ugh, do I have time for this? I still need to go find Lightgreen and food and so much else.
Well, no, I know how precious transmission windows can be. Let's see what's up.

Li.ni.si's holographic visage swirls into being.

"Vi.si.mi here." I fight the itchy urge to introduce myself again. "Li.ni.si?"
"Vi.si.mi, I'm at Vi.al's palace. I've been told it would be faster for me to get to the mission site if I take a pod, and it'd be locked to your relay station. The journey will take about... that can't be right. [One minute]? Across that much space? Surely that'd be a speed so high--"
"Yeah the pods go fast. Very fast." Lord Vi.al better not have it programmed to crash. "I thought we were still waiting on the time window?"
"Well, Su.ki.fu isn't here yet, but I got here sooner. I didn't have much else to do and I travel light." She taps her head, implying she carries around patterns for whatever gear she requires in her head. Makes sense for a first responder who can shape tools in seconds. Plus whatever she has in that... arm... thing. It looks like it carries patches of substrate that can deploy into other things. "You've got substrate there already, yeah?"
"Well, I'll have more substrate soon if you're taking a pod. Lord Vi.al makes them very easy to deconstruct." Which makes them fragile, too. One way journeys only.
"Cool. Well, if you want me down there now, I can get down there."

I have no idea how Li.ni.si got to Vi.al's throneworld in less than a day, but I guess she might have just already been there for whatever reason.

...you know, this is extremely fortunate timing. Perhaps it's a good thing I did waste time talking to My.a. If I'd raced off as soon as I wanted to, I'd have missed this transmission completely.

"My relay station doesn't exactly have a landing pad, though, so, uh, have you flown a pod before?"
"Do you mean have I ever been on a pod or have I ever piloted one?"
"Oh. No."

...okay, just, going to stay in here and see if I can somehow control that pod remotely so it doesn't ram into the station like a kinetic missile, then. Maybe I can send my flocklet out to go summon Lightgreen instead of going to her directly.

It feels almost like a no-brainer to let Li.ni.si come down ahead of schedule, but, uh, maybe there's reasons to say hold off I can't think of.

Oh. Oh right, I only have one sleeping room in my relay station. I also don't actually know what Li.ni.si eats.
"Oh, so, uh, I only have one me-sized bed down here and I don't have any snack cubes. What do you normally eat?"
"I'll sleep on the floor if I have to. You're going to need to expand your base for the others later anyway. As for food, most protein sources. Most things with a carapace, really. I can forage. I was briefed on the state of Verdant Pearl's infrastructure."
"It, uh, doesn't. It doesn't have that."
"Right. Well, your relay station is more than nothing. Vi.si.mi, I've survived some dire situations before. But yes. I'm eating all the snack cubes I can find before the pod's cleared to launch." She puts the squishy snack cube she's been toying with in her mouth. "These things are more expensive to transmit than we are. Nothing but organic matter, not a sliver of substrate. I might stuff some into the pod with me, but, well, I'll be rationing them out then. I'll bring you a few juice pods."
"Oh. That's kind of you."
"I know how much creature comforts can help for morale when you've been without them a while."

Juice pods. My feeding probe juts out of my beak a little before I notice and pull it back in.

...I am really going to struggle to think of a single reason not to deny this advance arrival. Are there any downsides I'm not thinking of??
No. 1084905 ID: 99f29a

You should probably hide evidence of your gigatreason. Otherwise, cool and good.
No. 1084907 ID: 8f9bc4

My.a is right, you know. You were sorry for invading his privacy, but you have no context for what hurt him in the past. His story is interesting, but nonsensical. If Vi.al were instantiated as a Lord, it wouldn't need to use My.a as a piece of furniture to become one. If there were an experimental weapon used against Mu.at, it would have been used against Starmover, if in fact that had anything to do with the creation of the Blot. And yet Mu.at is not Starmover? Who fires a weapon like that twice? Who was Starmover anyway? Make sure not to answer that question; it would probably melt your brain, but it's an interesting mystery! No seriously, do not solve this mystery.

I can't think of any downsides to Li.ni.si arriving early. As long as you can land her safely, it seems like it would really be helpful. Wait. Anything with a carapace? That wouldn't include... the lepi, would it?
No. 1084912 ID: 1cc7d1

Well... that was quite a revelation from My.a. But first, let's address some house keeping, no?

Organic protein typically comes from animals. Outside of hunting and eating animals, dairy and nuts are a good source of protein. Worst case scenario, you can take a look at the make up of the silk that the Lepi make. If it's made of the right proteins, then Li.ni.si could eat that too. For the most part, food is the biggest issue as you can't expect regular deliveries of food from off-planet. In fact, I suggest you discuss with the Lepi what food sources you can secure so that starvation is not a looming threat. Once you secure your food sources, I don't see a reason to delay much.

As for My.a, any malice she harbors does not seem to be for you. Which... might actually be a good thing for you, personally. Maybe not for Vi.al or those that sympathize with them, but it means you, with what you know, can get off a sinking ship if you must. I suggest you figure out what is important to you so that you don't hesitate in an important moment.
No. 1084913 ID: 8f9bc4


And remember that at every crossroads, with each path saving only one thing you care deeply about and costing you everything else, there is always a third option.
No. 1084927 ID: 781ff4

...Has My.a never heard "sorry" as in "sorry for your loss?" Like, politely saying, "this sucks and it's awful that it happened?" Despite the power dynamic Vi.si.mi can be genuine about such a thing. ...Perhaps with the way Mu.at was she never did hear it like so...
>Everything I accuse Vi.al of, I have done tenfold myself! I am a monster, Vi.si.mi, and do you think I don't know this?? I am too far down this path to turn back now! The only way out is through!! But you know what? You know what?! I do not pretend to be above it all!
...Wait that's all? She refuses to choose a path of redemption because of the sunken cost fallacy itself? Wow. Well that's... uh... a thing. Still feel like she can be redeemed but she has to choose to try to do so. She's honest about what she's done. She sees what she's done is wrong in such a way and yet has to continue to do evil because she has to. How can we convince her she doesn't have to when we have so little info?
>Vi.al used me
Explains the hate. Even so, from what I've seen of Vi.al if he is evil he works to be the lesser evil, do more good than harm where he has the power to.
>There was no Vi.al that was not a Lord. But, it's so misleading and misdirecting it might as well be a blatant lie. It's true, but it implies there was nothing before Vi.al, the Lord, doesn't it?
So the rough implication is he was a Lord before being Lord Vi.al. Her big reveal is that he changed his name and identity that's all? Even if he was as awful as Mu.at we should judge him on what he is not what he was. Why doesn't My.a do that too?
>Hey, if you were given the choice to fire an extremely dangerous experimental weapon at an extremely dangerous and poorly understood enemy, would you take that risk?
Well can't speak for Vi.si.mi but if the enemy is causing more damage than the weapon I would.
>The unforgivable act of usurpation
What this sounds like is that Vi.al had every legal justification (by shapeless law) to end her but he chose, well, a lesser evil. Probably because Mu.at *earned* that comeuppance.
>Va.ne.tu's heard all of them
...So how about we just ask him for the stories My.a gave?
>If you found yourself at a crossroads, with each path saving only one thing you care deeply about and costing you everything else, which path would you take? Would you even move at all?
Well what would My.a herself do if the thing she deeply cared about in that situation was Va.ne.tu huh? Sure would say a lot about her morals.
>Are there any downsides I'm not thinking of?
Here's one. Perhaps you have a truce with My.a but if you call in help would she help your opponents as "game balance"?

Sorry for the text wall...
No. 1084929 ID: 273c18

>the only way out is through
So yeah, My.a wants to ascend past being a Lord. Plus, they are very aware of their terrible actions, which means... they might not be so bad once that objective is accomplished.
>My.a will only value an apology from a Lord
Hmm, I wonder if you could convince Vi.al to apologize.

>any downsides?
How will this affect the truce? She might not be included in it, which means your new friends will have to interfere with her. Not that huge of a downside, all told, considering how relatively harmless they are.

Go on, do it. The food issue would have to be solved when she arrived at a later date anyway.
No. 1084930 ID: 2aa5f0

Well I'm an idiot but what I got from My.a's story is she fired a weapon that (sounds like) it made the blot, it badly hurt a lord (Mu.at probably) so it wanted to eat her to heal itself, but not wanting to die she ate the wounded lord instead and probably ascended into being a lord herself... and this is what caused all the other lords to hate her?

I feel like I'm wrong but this is what I'm getting from the story.

>...I am really going to struggle to think of a single reason not to deny this advance arrival. Are there any downsides I'm not thinking of??
would she also be a part of the truce? Other then that just make sure you catch her pod before it hits the station and probably wipes out the whole village... and at the speeds it's going at probably a chunk of the planet as well.
No. 1084933 ID: e415be

Sounds more like Vi.al fired the weapon itself. Plus My.a was a "partition" of Mu.at so she roughly had the power of a lord plus a level of the authority the lord had. While they still serve their lord they are of higher status than people like Vi.si.mi or Va.ne.tu. Got no idea if partitions are called lords by subordinates though. Otherwise seems accurate.
No. 1084936 ID: 64faaa

No suggestions from me, but the quest is cool.
Keep it up!
No. 1084948 ID: df60a9

No. 1084954 ID: fa3034

Not moving at all? Like May.a said?

Anywho, might want to convene with the leaders that you'll have help coming in today.
No. 1084965 ID: 273c18

Oh, her arriving won't *break* the truce, right?
No. 1085395 ID: e139aa
File 170958684252.png - (477.33KB , 800x600 , fop2-12.png )

> my.a's story
There's a lot of weird holes and vagueness about it. My.a is also fairly theatrical in their demeanour, I'm sure elements of it are true but sifting out the truth from the embellishments seems like a waste of time without other sources.

> va.ne.tu knows my.a's stories
And Va.ne.tu might be a good filter. I should ask him next time I see him.

> crossroads
I'm going to just throw away the riddle My.a gave me on principle. They called it a timewaster, I'm not wasting my time on it.

> hide the evidence
Hide the evidence of what? Oh. Oh no. The conversations with My.a? Everything I know about Va.ne.tu? Vy.zi.ki existing?? Oh no which of this is stuff to keep secret and which of it do I need to divulge?? Oh no oh no let's just not think about it it's just another construct it's just another construct

> anything with a carapace includes the lepi?
The lepi don't appear to have exoskeletons the same way I'd expect a moth to. Their bodies move in ways suggesting an endoskeleton, and I'm not going to lie, my inner biologist is endlessly pestering me to get some data on what the skeleton of a lepi looks like. What does a lepi skull look like? Do their external abdomens (if they can be called abdomens given they already evidently have one between their chests and hips) have skeletal structures?

Anyway, I doubt Li.ni.si is going to try to eat people.

> "game balance"
I'm sure My.a can think of any number of justifications to "keep things interesting" if they wanted.

> truce
My.a's wording, if I can recall, was something like me and my allies, so I'll hold them to that.

> convince Vi.al to apologise
...I'll try to remember to at least mention it when Vi.al arrives.

Alright. I have much to ponder, but, for now, I have a Li.ni.si to deal with.

"Alright, all clear this side. I'm going to make sure you don't crash the pod."
"Why would I crash? Isn't it automated?"
"Don't worry about it."
"Well, it sounds like the pod is prepared. See you planetside."
No. 1085396 ID: e139aa
File 170958686112.png - (294.17KB , 800x600 , fop2-13.png )

After Li.ni.si disappears, I quickly convene various monitors and interfaces to get a lock on the incoming pod.
I send my flocklet out to go check on Lightgreen just so that, if anything happens, I have some sort of presence not in the immediate strike zone.

I stare with mounting anxiety as I connect to automated systems from 1 Radiant Eye. My signature is recognised and my privileges are granted. I hastily check for pods due to launch to 33 Verdant Pearl of Abundance, find Li.ni.si's pod, and-- immediately lose the connection as it launches.

Oh no.

I can't target it. It jumped into... I never understood the specifics, but to facilitate superluminal travel, there's some sort of, uh, higher? Lower? Sideways? Sideways space that some Shapeless vehicles can leap into. It's in that now, and this station uses that for superluminal signal transmission and receiving, but trying to focus on something on it is probably something the station can do but that I don't know how to do, but I do know that after some time it has to jump back out as it approaches a gravity well, something about increasing error magnitude in spacetime that curves more in the drop out of the... whatever it's called. Wow, I really don't know a lot about this sort of stuff. I need to look it up later. Subspace? Is it called subspace or is that what the Woven use??

Oh wait WAIT WAIT I GOT IT! Okay! It's back in less confusing space, and wow it is [15 seconds] to arrival okay okay got it, got it, direction is straight to this station, okay, slow, sending remote command to slow, slow down, slow down SLOW DOWN

No. 1085397 ID: e139aa
File 170958688441.png - (527.58KB , 800x600 , fop2-14.png )

...oh, it's slowing down by itself.

To a slow, graceful hover, just outside the facility. It landed with a soft thud and deployed landing gear, even.

Okay, so my ride here was malfunctioning. Good to know, I guess. I send one last command for the pod to start unravelling itself into the station's substrate caches, and Li.ni.si slowly falls out the side of the pod, struggling through the side of the pod. She's clearly not as experienced with Vi.al hidden door architecture, the substrate is acting more like a gel trap than a clean interface.

I leave the station and go out to meet her, and help free her if she needs it. Fortunately, she seems to be mostly out by the time I get to her.

"Oh, hi, Vi.si.mi," she says, hands outstretched for stability. I hold out my wingarms and she practically collapses into me. "Huuuuuu..."
"Yeah. Yeah, they're always like that." She's a bit taller in person. Also smells vaguely like limes.
"I've been transmitted before," she says, as I help her back onto her feet. "I don't know which felt worse."
"I prefer transmission, but, well, only on an empty stomach. Less organic matter, the better, with that."
"I don't recommend getting on one of those pods after eating either," she says, looking fairly uncomfortable. "Ough. Glad I only ate a few snacks, or I'd be really suffering right now."
"Lord Vi.al prefers expedience to comfort when it comes to transport."
"I took some things Lord Lo.ka did for granted, I really did... anyway, this is the relay station, right? I can't remember what my plans were. Arrive, I think. What now?"
"Well, you can come inside and sit down for a bit first."

I lead her back in through a false-wall entrance. A few sequences of commands and some chairs are provided, as well as a possibly too small table. Still, it's a good place to put... drinks... Right. I should work on getting water supplied here in a less on-demand ad-hoc way. And, before the truce is up, seeing if I can trade something to Va.ne.tu for a container of that root drink, for downtime.

Outside I hear a sudden crash and shattering as the pod's landing gear fails and it comes to a permanent stop. I wince, but I can't say I didn't see it coming. It wasn't guaranteed that the pod would deconstruct itself in a sensible manner. Li.ni.si's ears flick up as she looks to the wall she just came through. "Uhh..."
"Yeah, that'll happen. No turning back now. For a while, anyway."
"S-sure," she says, trying to appear flippant. "I just hope it didn't break the things I brought." She has the look of someone who is only just now realising the scope of the consequences of her decisions. Well, fleetingly, before her former... resolve? Apathy? Whatever drives her, it comes back to the forefront of her expression.
No. 1085398 ID: e139aa
File 170958692146.png - (121.32KB , 800x600 , fop2-15.png )

"So," she says, after a pause. "What's the current situation?"
"I'm sure Lord Vi.al already gave you the general overview of this being a suddenly contested world at the whims of one Mad Lord My.a. More specifically, I'm trying to earn the trust of the leaders of this lepi community by doing some tasks for them that, for whatever reason, they can't easily achieve by themselves. Even more specifically, this morning, I am making preparations to venture out somewhere to the northwest to investigate a problem blocking the lepi from accessing a hard-to-cultivate medicinal species. Lightgreen, the lepi shaman you met, is currently not here, and I've sent my flocklet out to go fetch her. Other problems include I haven't eaten anything yet, I don't have any weapons, and I wanted to assemble some sort of transport so we're not all stuck walking there like scuttlers."
"You know, scuttlers? Scuttler-pattern? Swarm transport automata?"
"Oh those. Is that a Vi.al expression? I've always heard them called crawlers. Hm. No, I think Ji.pa.ke called them scuttlebugs."
"Those are something else-- I'm getting off topic! The point is, I need to solve those problems first."

Li.ni.si nods, and then looks to me... well, her mouth's about as visible as mine, but from her eyes I'd say she's grinning.

"Door's on command, right? I'll be right back."

She disappears through the rippling wall. I guess she's more used to Vi.al architecture than I gave her credit for. I suppose it's only confusing if you don't know which walls accept the commands.
She comes back with what I think is some form of data block before I realise it has no kind of signature. It's just a container, then.
She drops it on the table, and with a few staccato command signals, it splits open and reveals the contents--

Oh. Oh wow.

"Two personal shield gens, two pattern-D incapacitors, twelve high-density meal cubes, six high-density juice pods, and a template for station-locked short-range signal repeaters, tied to a shared frequency not in common use. Slap one on your head, instant immediate communication with anyone else in comms range with the relay station." Li.ni.si pauses. "So long as you're a construct. It doesn't work if you don't have substrate in your neural makeup. Hm. I didn't think about that part. Well. I'd have brought more things but there's supposed to be more resupply showing up when Lord Vi.al does, or that's what I was told yesterday." She mumbles to herself, annoyed to not have remembered until just now she'd be dealing with purely organic allies as well. I catch a little bit about how she even made sure to get substrate templates for organic medical tools, but not for organic communication.

I give her a pat on the shoulder. "It's fine. We can't think of everything. It's not like we're Lords! And even they can't think of everything. I'm very glad you brought what you have!"
And I cannot ignore the allure of the pods a moment longer.
No. 1085399 ID: e139aa
File 170958695626.png - (489.80KB , 800x600 , fop2-16.png )

I grab a juice pod. It suddenly bulges and swells a little in my grasp, presumably decompressing. A deft flick of my feeding probe into the aperture, and I siphon out the contents right away. Tears fall down my face from the sweet, sour, familiar flavour blend of pulped gyrefruit, mashed spireberry and spicy flatroot zest. And the size of the pod is so deceptive! There's so much juice in this somehow! It's so much. There's enough in here for a meal, for sure. The faint ugly bitterness of the local nectar is totally absent in this flavour burst, and no single taste overwhelms the mixture. Perfectly balanced. Oh, it's like I'm home again, this is palatial...

"...Go easy on those, they're imports."
"It's all imports."
"From Lo.ka space."

Oh. Oh right. I guess I did wonder a little bit what flatroot was doing in that flavour profile. Aside from making my life a momentary singularity of bliss and respite.
Still, if I take another two or three with me that's food for me sorted, and Li.ni.si can take the cubes, and then I'd only have to figure out rations for Lightgreen. Who, as far as I can tell, just forages anyway. Hm.

"I'm gonna have to figure out how to grow flatroot in the palatial gardens..."
"Good luck with that," says Li.ni.si, shaking her head. "It barely grows on the one desert world it was found on. And because of that, the entire world's been relegated as a preserve with the sole exception of flatroot harvesting. Can you imagine that? An entire world reserved for just one spice? It's not like the Lords even eat. Or trade that much with aliens. It's only of arguably any benefit to a subset of constructs. Lord Lo.ka is an enigma."
"I think it's Enigmist, actually."
"...sure. Anyway, that should solve two of your problems. Transport, though, I don't have any easy answers for. Do you not have any vehicle patterns?"
"Not really, and I'm not good with improvising anything involving complex mechanisms. A simple cart is about as big as I can envision."
"Aha. Yeah, that's fair. I'm much the same."
No. 1085400 ID: e139aa
File 170958698377.png - (180.59KB , 800x600 , fop2-17.png )

I hear a chirp from my flocklet, who, for once, is not outside of communication range. Thanks, functioning relay station!
It says Lightgreen is inbound. Slowly, because she's apparently not used to waking up this early, but she's on her way.

It is something like [10:23 AM] local time. I kind of just assumed from the sounds of lepi hustle and bustle outside that she'd be up already.
I kind of just assumed most tribal cultures rose with the sun. I think my lepi friend might have some sleep hygiene issues. Well, it's not like I'm really able to pass judgement when I've been sleeping so much myself.

My flocklet then informs me that Lightgreen heard about the task we chose to do today, somehow, and I have no idea how the timing of that works out, but also that she wishes us the best of luck and wants to see us off, but can't possibly come with us on a journey that heads into seapi territory.

...I was sort of just assuming she'd come with me. Maybe I should go find her and see what her concerns are?
Li.ni.si looks at me, raising a brow. "Everything okay? You look distracted." The way her ears are flicking around, she can definitely hear I'm talking to something, but not what I'm saying or who I'm saying it to. Or, well, she can't hear it, but the way our brains process EMF signals and audio signals are so similar that it triggers things like subconcious ear movement. My crest gets twitchy in much the same way.
"I'm just talking to my flocklet about Lightgreen."
"Ahhh. Sorry, I've never had any sort of secondary presences before. Well, aside from a recon drone a few times, but, nothing so integral like a flocklet. It must be nice to be able to be two places at once."
"I wish it worked more like that then it does."
"Would you recommend it? Having a flocklet?"
"Well, there's pros and cons," I mumble, as my flocklet confirms that Lightgreen is adamant, if torn, that she can't follow us to seapi territory, no matter how outskirts it might be.

Argh, I wanted her to be our guide! It's going to take so much longer to get there without the guidance of a local. What to do, what to do...
No. 1085401 ID: 99f29a

Well everything you do immediately escalates into a problem thanks to your own combination and My.a's interference and so on and so forth, therefore forethought or planning ahead are pointless. Just accept that your life will be a constant series of problems and do whatever makes the next problem the most predictable.

Therefore the most logical course of action is to charge straight into seapi territory.
No. 1085403 ID: 8f9bc4

Getting there without a local is easy. That's what maps are for. Dealing with what you encounter there and along the way... not so easy.

Well regardless, at the very minimum you need a map. Possibly a more secure storage for the supplies that Li.ni.si brought. Then, tally ho! Adventure awaits!
No. 1085404 ID: 273c18

>flatroot is hard to grow
Hmm, is that a good challenge for your skillset?

>can't possibly come with us on a journey that heads into seapi territory.
She's scared of dying. Well, you can reassure her now. You have weapons and armor! Granted only two of each but that should be more than a match for anything an *accidental* encounter with the seapi would involve.
Might as well familiarize yourself with the equipment now.

Oh and tell Li.ni.si that you've... befriended two agents of My.a, and have a truce active.
No. 1085411 ID: 048288

Get a different local?
No. 1085414 ID: ea63b3

This guy's suggestion seems legit.
No. 1085429 ID: a7a180

Shoo be do, shoo shoo be doo! Call upon the meadowanders!
No. 1085434 ID: 2aa5f0

should we introduce Li.ni.si to the leaders of the tribe and let them know we have a healer with us now? Also I guess we should ask how familiar Li.ni.si is with lepi biology since she's probably going to need to help out patching them out at some point seeing how it seems like the whole planet is out to get them?

you could ask her what she knows about the area or if she knows someone that would be willing to be your guide who is familiar with the area.
No. 1085445 ID: 4e5772

Just station her in the relay with a video feed broadcasted from your location. She can give directions through audio. All the benefits of a local guide, but you don't need to guard her.
No. 1085496 ID: 7eaa8b

>one desert world
>desert world
>entire world reserved for just one spice

OMG Cirr you magnificent son of a female dog. Guess the Flatroot must flow...
No. 1085540 ID: 5b623a

Fair point here. Have her be your 'one in the chair'
Also +1 hug for this mission. Bonus that Li.ni.si is kinda cute.
No. 1085579 ID: a2bd8a

Great idea. Just make sure to have some communication equipment she can use in here.
No. 1085831 ID: e139aa
File 170995415383.png - (299.51KB , 800x600 , fop2-18.png )

> charge straight into seapi territory
I'm getting smarter, aren't I.

> flatroot challenges
Perhaps another time.

> get a map
If that map I was shown is the best they have, "go northwest" is about as useful information as I can get from it. Which does remind me. I don't have that sort of functionality internally, so I'll have to hope I keep connection to the relay station for navigational uses. Sure would have been helpful to have a relay satellite in geostationary orbit, or something, but I very much don't have the resources or patterns for one of those. Not that my broadcasts would reach that far out anyway. Blegh. I should ask the lepi how they navigate. Surely they have some sort of navigational aid to be able to draw maps?

> get a different local
I suppose I'll have to ask Lightgreen if she knows anyone reputable.

> station Lightgreen in the relay station and have her guide remotely
That's... that's not a bad idea. I have to ask her about it.

> introduce Li.ni.si to leaders
Well, I guess I need to ask them about navigation anyway.

> tell Li.ni.si about befriending My.a's agents and truce
"Oh, I forgot to mention. We're currently in a short-term truce with My.a and their constructs. And I might have befriended both of their constructs."
"Oh. How'd you manage that? Lord Vi.al made it sound like My.a was impossible to deal with."
"My.a is... My.a is unpredictable. Their constructs are only opposing us at all on My.a's command. I don't even know why they're so loyal to My.a, they seem pretty unhappy with the whole arrangement. Still, the truce is important. There's... [six days] of it left, I think? If we come across My.a's constructs, we're not to harm them or interfere."
"Hm. Who are these constructs?"

I freeze up.
"I'm uncertain if telling you is going to be interpreted as breaking the truce. They're a little bit secretive."
Li.ni.si glares at me, and I feel a sudden shiver. "Okay. Withholding information like this endangers lives, you know. Miscommunication kills. I don't need their names, just give me vague descriptions, please."
"Alright, alright. A teal vulpine third-standard and a pale, almost white vulpine third-standard. They both have hexagonal patterns around their eyes."
"So one of them is Va.ne.tu, then."
"...okay, seriously, has everyone met Va.ne.tu but me?? Why does everyone know who Va.ne.tu is??"
"Becoming a pariah due to rumours you killed a Lord will get your name and face spread around the confluences fast. I just remember learning he was connected to My.a from Nu.ya.si going on another one of his rants about Va.ne.tu being innocent."
"Nu.ya.si knows him too?!"
"Oh, yeah, Nu.ya.si speaks with him regularly." She pauses, and her eyes widen. "Oh, I was absolutely not supposed to tell anyone that."

I groan and squish my head casing until it deforms a little. "Well, let me guess, have you met Vy.zi.ki too?"
"Never mind. Someone I met once." Okay, I think Vy.zi.ki's existence is absolutely something My.a doesn't want me spreading around.
No. 1085832 ID: e139aa
File 170995418028.png - (356.64KB , 800x600 , fop2-19.png )

My flocklet informs me that Lightgreen is almost here. Not much of a surprise, with the time I've been taking with talking to Li.ni.si.
And then I hear a knock on the wall. I tell my flocklet to perhaps warn me of these things a little bit sooner than "immediately" in future, and it chirps blithely in response.

"Walk through," I call out to Lightgreen, as she carefully walks through the fluid wall. My flocklet emerges behind her. I close the wall behind her, or, well, instruct it to reaffirm its solidity, anyway.

Li.ni.si waves to her. "It is good to see you in person. Lightgreen, yes?"
Lightgreen looks a little surprised. "Oh. Hello. Yes, I am Lightgreen. I think I saw you in the lights yesterday?"
"Yes. That was me."

Lightgreen awkwardly shifts around, clearly trying to think of something else to say. She looks at me and frowns.

"...Starbird, I heard that you--"
"One second. I have some questions for you."
"Firstly, when did you meet Va.ne.tu? He told me he was all alone when I met him. Living like a hermit sealed away in his underground facility. It turns out he's quite the socialite from all the people that met him before I did! Secondly, why am I your saviour and your only hope if you already knew Va.ne.tu? Well enough to get his assistance multiple times?? I feel like there's something people aren't telling me here!"

I uh.
Wow that just kind of fell out of me, huh.

"...I have no idea where that came from. Sorry. Ignore that. I'm stressed. Continue."
Lightgreen looks at me in a mixture of confusion and apprehension. Li.ni.si raises a brow, looks like she's about to say something, and shakes her head.
"Please, Lightgreen, I didn't mean to interrupt," I say.
"O-okay. Well. Well, he told me he isn't supposed to help, for some reason. Actually, he kind of is why so much of the village lost more faith in the starbeings. Here was a starbeing, after so very long, and all he does is tell us to stay away from his mysterious den and sends out flying heads to be mildly annoying at us. But he did tell me there were others, and that some day, when my village needed it most, a being from the stars would come to help us. He's... he's hard to understand, sometimes. Something about being a servant of a great and terrible power."
"Really. A great and terrible power. Well, then. Nu.ya always said Va.ne.tu had something of a flair for the dramatic," says Li.ni.si, rummaging around on the table and examining the meal cubes one by one.
"Lord My.a can absolutely be that if they want to," I say.
"Who's Lord My.a?" asks Lightgreen, her antennae flicking around at all the unusual chirrups and bleeps of my relay station. She's adjusting to it, mostly, but is a little jumpy at the more abrupt sounds. She's at least comfortable enough to regard the station with confused curiosity instead of cautious fear.
"Remember that floating head that looked like it was going to explode yesterday? That was a... you know the other-me I have? The... how do I say it in this language... flocking-bird? That was one of theirs."
"Flocklet?" Lightgreen says a word that the autotranslator matches on with a bizarrely high confidence. Not one I expected her to have. Some sort of awkward calque that literally translates to 'flying shadow servant'.
"...Yes, flocklet. Is it a word Va.ne.tu used?"
"Oh, yes, he was the one who used the word first. I didn't understand what the 'shadow' part meant for a thing that glows, but when you said it was your 'other you', I understood what he meant. It follows you like your shadow, yes?"
"Huh. That's an extremely poetic description and also very misleading." I'm sensing a theme with My.a and their constructs. I think he probably also intended it in the sense of it being a shadow of the original. An echo. I'd have gone with echo over shadow, myself. Flying echo servant-- ugh, no, that doesn't work in lepi squeaks, never mind.

Li.ni.si clears her throat. "Yes. This is all very fascinating, but, Lightgreen, what did you want to say originally?"
"What? Oh. Oh, right." Lightgreen's antennae fall and she can't look at me directly. "I, I can't go with you to the seapi territory, starbi-- Vee."
"I understand. I haven't exactly shown I'm much of a fighter, I suppose. I don't want to put you in danger either." I did promise her grandmother, the elder of this village, not to get her harmed. "But I do still need local guidance. I have two ideas. One is I go find another lepi to be a guide for this excursion, and the other is I have you attend remotely."
"...Attend... remotely...?" Lightgreen looks at me with complete confusion. "Starbird, those words don't work together like that. You can't be at a place from a distance, that doesn't make sense. Did you phrase something incorrectly?"
I... what? She's seen the holograms, right? Well, whatever. Maybe she hasn't made the connection yet. Or maybe I did flub my phrasing through the autotranslator.
Li.ni.si looks at Lightgreen thoughtfully. "What are you thinking, Vi.si.mi? Some sort of remote proxy?"
"That's a way better idea than I had, I was just going to give her a bidirectional visual and audio feed."
"Wait. No. We went over this last time. You don't have any proxies for her to use, and either way, she wouldn't be able to control it, she's not a construct."
"I have something she could control," I say, looking to my flocklet, which chirps at me quizzically. "I'd have to be an intermediary, probably."
No. 1085833 ID: e139aa
File 170995421924.png - (379.18KB , 800x600 , fop2-20.png )

Lightgreen looks at the flocklet, pauses, thoughtfully, and then raises her bracelet thing up to her eye level.

"I might be able to control it, actually," she says. "I, uh, made one of the starfox's flocklets go away once with this. <Awaken>," she sings in monovoice.

The bracelet sparks into life and I hear a flurry of primitive command sequences. Parts of the relay station deliver detailed, extensive and dry status reports to the air. I feel parts of my body tingle for a fleeting moment as the substrate within them is alert for an instant, presumably giving status reports to the ether. Li.ni.si shivers.

"<Flocklet, come forward>."

My flocklet moves over to her, almost like it spontaneously decided to do that independent of my will. It seems... eager to do this. Not forced, not pulled.
It acts like it does when I give a command. Like it was its idea the whole time.

I don't want to think about the ramifications of this right now.

"...I don't recognise whatever that is," says Li.ni.si, looking at the bracelet. "May I have a closer look?"
She holds out a claw to Lightgreen, who recoils slightly at the sight of her sharp claws.
"I'm not going to damage it. The claws are largely for show."
"No, sorry, I just... wasn't expecting them to look so sharp." Lightgreen's antennae spread out and she looks slightly unnerved.
"If you don't want to give it to me, that is fine," says Li.ni.si, her voice becoming softer and calmer. "I was just curious, but if you're worried, you can say no."

Lightgreen looks conflicted, and then looks to me.

"...Vee, can you give it to her?"
"I don't understand why I need to be an intermediary, but--"
"Vi.si.mi," says Li.ni.si. "It's okay. Do what she asks, please." She quickly signs to me. "Don't stress her out. She's in an alien world with alien people with alien customs right now. You're familiar and trusted. I would be clinging to anything familiar if I was in her situation too."
Lightgreen looks at the flurry of gestures Li.ni.si is making to me, and looks even more confused, almost looking at me pleadingly.

She holds her arm out, and I try to command the bracelet to open. Nope. Become less solid. Nope. Fall off. Nope.
"...Lightgreen, can you take it off?"
"Oh. Of course. <Open, sleep.>"

It opens and deactivates. She catches it with her other hand, and gives it to me.
I give it to Li.ni.si, the mere touch of it feeling uncomfortable. It feels very lightweight, slightly warm, and like my wingarms are going to melt if I hold it for too long.

Li.ni.si examines it, turning it around. "It's not Lo.kan or Vi.alic. It fits Lord Lo.ka's aesthetics but not function."
"Ji.at, maybe?"
"Ji.at would never give the seekers this much power over substrate. Completely unclear to me what this device came from."

I pick it up and look at it more closely, even though I fear the thing is going to suddenly lunge at my eyes.
I switch one of my eyes into zoom-mode, prompting an abrupt squeak from Li.ni.si.
"Vi.si.mi! Are you okay??"
"Wh- yes?? Why?"
"Oh. I didn't know if you were having a reaction to the device."
"No, I'm just trying to exami..."
No. 1085834 ID: e139aa
File 170995430654.png - (148.61KB , 800x600 , fop2-21.png )

Four circles.

Waxing crescent. Waxing gibbous. Full moon. Waning gibbous.

The four moons of Lord Ku.su, the Void Drifter, the Moth of Moons. Interloper. Outsider.

The creator of the extinct lepi, the creations who were all confirmed to be no more.

Yet here stands Lightgreen, with an artifact of Ku.suun design and make. An artifact on a world so central to Vi.al territory that the very notion of Ku.su or its constructs ever coming here seems beyond absurd. More so for an outsider, the newest Lord to have arrived at the Diamond Distribution.

It doesn't make any sense. It doesn't make any sense.

"Where did you find this, Lightgreen?"
"In one of the ancient temples before the Awakening. No one else could get the box to open. I remembered the spirits sometimes sang like meadowanders, so I tried a meadowander word and it just opened."
"What did this temple have in it?"
"Oh, I don't remember very well, this was a while ago. It had a lot of carvings and etchings showing a great moth-being forming the lepi out of stars. You know, I keep meaning to go back to the ruins of that temple. Maybe when things are safer."
"...have you never thought to use that bracelet until just now?"
"I used all of its power trying to make the broken tower work the night you arrived. It takes a long while before it can work again."

...Wow, she actually did summon me. Uh. Uhhh.
No. 1085835 ID: e139aa
File 170995434771.png - (178.98KB , 800x600 , fop2-22.png )

"...so, anyway, uh, yeah, uh, you can, uh, control my flocklet I think, and you'll get a screen here to show you what it sees, and it'll repeat back what it hears here," I say, composure completely shaken by more revelation.

Li.ni.si looks at me, a little worried. "<What did you find?>" Her use of polyvoice is hushed and hurried, and almost like a few bleepy chords, flowing much faster and urgently than her signing did.
"<Ku.suun. It's Ku.suun tech. The four moons. I saw the four moons, finely engraved.>"
She looks at me in confused shock. "<In a temple? An ancient temple? Lord Ku.su arrived to the Distribution [six years] ago, Vi.si.mi, are you sure?>"

I find myself starting to tremble.

I don't know what's going on. It's just a stupid control bracelet. It's ultimately whatever. I can't dwell on this, I can't...

But how?? This device was clearly well preserved, it is immaculate in its function, but I start querying its mechanisms for finer details, and I'm getting back timestamps in a format I've only seen used in historical documents. From before I was born. Long before I was born.

Something is deeply, deeply wrong here.

I barely know anything about Lord Ku.su. Maybe the other outsiders do, the Sibling-Lords Or.ro and Co.ro. They also came from elsewhere.

But one thing I do remember, when it came to visit 1 Radiant Eye for obligatory introductions, was its imposing form. A behemoth, hanging in the sky, lazily flapping its wings like a royal cloak, a flag fluttering in the wind that felt like it could coat the palace entirely. At least four times the size of Lord Vi.al's throne focus. It shed its substrate quickly after Vi.al made a comment on typical expected upper size limits for diplomatic encounters, the glittering dust soon flying up to the mesosphere for later incorporation.
The same expression, an implacable mask on its face. A polite, precise voice, a calculated calmness at once comforting and yet slightly unsettling. Neither emotionless nor impassioned, its grasp on polyvoice one of straightforward chords and predictable harmonies. Spiced with xenharmonics unfamiliar to anything I have heard before. Clearly, Lord Ku.su took great pains to sound familiar, with only odd mistakes indicating its original dialect from far, far away.

Lord Vi.al treated Lord Ku.su with the same politeness and respect, of course. Completely unperturbed. Or, well, at least they never appeared bothered.

That same quiet judging stare comes back to my mind now, like this bracelet is scrutinizing me and finding me wanting for something.
I look to Lightgreen, and in her confused, distressed stare, I feel like I see a sliver of Lord Ku.su's gaze in her eyes. I find myself wondering why Lord Ku.su even made the lepi in the first place, and what caused them to go extinct before. Was it related to why Lord Ku.su was so eager to come to our local space?

But no. I'm forgetting the real issue here.
Lord Vi.al fashioned Verdant Pearl from its own planets. Verdant Pearl never left Vi.al territory.
...How were there ancient substrate temples in the first place?! That's not a detail Lord Vi.al would have added. What is going ON I can't THINK STRAIGHT
No. 1085838 ID: eb0a9c

I'm thinking My.a copy-pasted some substrate module packages he found and one of them included both a Lepi habitat and some Lepi temples - meant by Ku.su to become their inheritance, then forgotten when they were wiped off the galaxy.

Give the bracelet a new battery.
No. 1085841 ID: 99f29a

chew delicious bracelet make problem disappear
No. 1085843 ID: 273c18

>follows you like your shadow
Almost right! Tell her they are connected to you, almost a part of you, like your shadow is. A projection of your self.

>she actually did summon me.
TELL HER THAT. It will make her feel so much better about everything.

>ancient temple, yet Ku.su is recently arrived, also couldn't possibly be on Vi.al's planet for multiple reasons
Yeah so that works well with my prior theory, being that the Lepi and other creatures were brought here, and this isn't the planet they're from. Though, this would also mean that the temple was transported with them, which is a little more involved than simply transporting all the living beings. It also means My.a invaded Ku.su's homeland to grab everything, which seems unlikely?
One alternate explanation is a massive temporal offset. Like, the planet they're from could have been in an accelerated timeframe for a while, a kind of reverse stasis. This seems ridiculous though. Also, the temple can't have been simply built to look old, because the artifact is sending you timestamps from far in the distant past, it IS old.

...okay here's a new overall theory. Ku.su cooperated with Vi.al to put all this anomalous stuff on his garden planet, for safekeeping or something. Hmm... did the "Awakening" happen within the last [six years]? If so, that would match our timeline, and explain everything. It would explain why Ku.su came here, why the planet was terraformed, and why vi.al was being secretive about the Lepi. It would also mean Ku.su knew the Lepi were going to be wiped out and needed to hide some of them away. Why the other creatures though? Are those also Ku.su creations? Hmm, no, those showed up after My.a appeared in the sky, right? So originally, Ku.su cooperated with Vi.al to hide some Lepi on Verdant Pearl. Then My.a decided to stage his Game on this specific planet for some reason. Maybe to get Vi.al's attention and force him to do something that My.a needs to be done? Or is this a kind of blackmail against both Vi.al and Ku.su?
No. 1085844 ID: 2aa5f0

well you know what they say, when it doubt, blame My.a.

Also you're scaring the moth, you should try and calm down or at least take a page out of Vi.al and just learn to hide your freak outs when other people are around.
No. 1085861 ID: d93ec0

Well My.a did say she used a device from a vault so perhaps the Lepi were imprisoned? Or it had data on the species and remade them out of what data it had? Perhaps the vault was Ku.su owned? Whatever the case, HOLY BALLS this device reverses power dynamics. Shapeless/substrate brought to heel, forced to follow commands given by organics. Would it work on lords? Would it work on My.a herself? Why would Ku.su develop this? Well on the plus side Lo.ka's knight is now easy to deal with. So where is Ku.su now?
No. 1085863 ID: 09eb67

Time travel?
No. 1085864 ID: 273c18

...wait, if Ku.su tech is this strong, Vi.al coming here might be a mistake. My.a might have an artifact capable of harming Vi.al, or at least something like imprisoning him.
No. 1085865 ID: 042212

Verdant Pearl never left, but that doesn't mean it began here, and Vi.al is already hiding constructs of another Lord in their systems... who's to say Ku.Suun isn't in on this
and from what direction far away, Ku.Suun could be from a place that is not, due to Blot
(Also that is an unusual name, one too many syllables, like a construct name, Ku.Su.Un, to add to your pile of madness) their manerisms also seem to imply being older, in a different interpretation
Ultimately, the only answers you are getting are from Vi.Al, if you can press them out of them
HELL, you could need information about Mu.At to solve this puzzle, or worse/earlier
Sadly, My.A is not the source of all this shenanigans, too much in too short a time, AT LEAST some of it already was
Hm, None of this really helps this mental breakdown, uhhhh you know what helps emotions? CRY
No. 1085869 ID: 8f9bc4

There's at least one creature on this planet who is THE BLOT and you are not going to think about them, but that means there's some possibility that the machine which My.a used to create these creatures is not governed by... sanity. If there were a fractal temporal dimension, it could pack a very long time into a very short amount of time. The real disconnect I see here is:

A) The Lepi cannot have been around all this time. Their timeframe from ancient time to the present is very short.
B) The artifacts and the history of the Lepi *have* been around all this time.

All I can think is the surviving Lepi were put in stasis during this time compression period, which... miiight be what My.a's machine did? No way to tell without talking to the other species to see if they observed a long amount of time suddenly passing too.
No. 1085904 ID: a7a180

Everything Vi.al told you needs a big fat [needs citation] flag. First contact with a lord is not their date of creation.
Return the bracelet and carry on.
No. 1085908 ID: ea63b3

Perhaps the Lepi were reconstituted from long range scans of their light-shell intercepted by colossal arrays of telescopes moved by FTL means to capture all data of their prior existence, recorded into My.a's machine for later resurrection.
No. 1086147 ID: 89f25b

Now might not be the time to dwell on thus past, especially as you're missing several pieces of it.
Give the bracelet back to Lightgreen, confirm communication protocol and you'll be ready to head out, thinking of more immediate problems.
No. 1086712 ID: e139aa
File 171081316967.png - (249.39KB , 800x600 , fop2-23.png )

> ku.suun is an odd name
Oh, that's an adjective. Like Vi.alic for Vi.al. Or Lo.kan for Lo.ka. I don't know who decides these things. The Lords, maybe. Maybe it's something they have big fights over because it's something so ultimately inconsequential. Lord Vi.al doesn't even use theirs half the time. Lots of references to "Vi.al architecture" and not "Vi.alic architecture".
If I was a Lord I'd make my descriptor "Vi.si.mine". ...that's not really related to anything right now. My mind is fraying, give me a break.

> power balance shifted
> organics can control substrate
Organic control over substrate through a substrate device is not a new development. I'm impressed Lightgreen can operate it, but if this was made by Lord Ku.su or their agents and is something a lepi can wear and use, this isn't really as much of a concern as you might think.
Now, if Lightgreen had, I don't know, made the bracelet herself, I would be worried, yes. An isolated artifact presented as a gift of the gods, and all she can do is make my flocklet obey a simple command? While I subconsciously wanted my flocklet to be easier to control? Nothing to worry about. Any pushback from me and nothing would have happened.
...I will be keeping on eye on her use of it. The fact the device resisted my control does concern me. It's not a surprise I lack the permissions for a device shaped by a different Lord's agents, but it does mean I can't instruct it to dissolve if it becomes a problem.

> lepi were imprisoned and brought here
> lepi came here via some sort of transmission
> lepi were sent here through time travel
> my.a's mystery machines
> perhaps ku.su
> the blot the blOT THE BLOT
Monarch's name I can't take any more wild theories. I need to calm down and--

> stop scaring lightgreen
--and stop scaring Lightgreen, yes.

"Sorry. Your bracelet is, uh. Unusual."
"You're shaking," says Lightgreen, cautiously reaching for her bracelet back as I hold it out to her. "Is this artifact safe?"
"It's safe, it's nothing with the artifact, just... something about how you discovered it and what we know of this world's history don't quite line up."

Lightgreen pauses and frowns. "Sorry, what was that? Can you explain more?"
"Well, this bracelet is older than it should be. And I wasn't told there were, uh, starbeing temples like you describe on this world so long ago."

Now that I think about it, I don't think Vi.al even started working on this world until I was in my teens.

Lightgreen looks at her bracelet thoughtfully, before squeaking at it to shift back onto her arm. "But why are you shaking?"
Because every fundamental assumption I've had about this planet has been proven to be wrong so far to the point I'm questioning if I fell into the Blot at this point.

She looks at her bracelet with a newfound apprehension. "...should I be afraid as well?"

No, no, things still make too much sense so far for that to have been a thing that happened. That's not a productive path to wander down, any more than it would be if I thought I was in a recovery coma from hitting the planet too hard and have been dreaming this entire thing. In either case, if I am trapped in some reality, I can't really change that, so I must act as though everything is real anyway. There, solipsistic psychotic break swiftly avoided.
No. 1086716 ID: e139aa
File 171081339159.png - (248.15KB , 800x600 , fop2-24.png )

Oh right Lightgreen asked me a question. "Uhh. It's hard to explain. It's nothing for you to worry about, it's all starbeing nonsense. I don't know where to even start giving you the context."
"That's... I didn't ask for... never mind."

Lightgreen puts a hand on my shoulder and looks at me. "I don't understand you as well as I'd like. You're okay with wandering off towards the seapi and whatever horrible fate they might have in store for you, but, if I understand this correctly, a bracelet being in a place you don't think it should be makes you so scared you shake?"
"It does seem a little silly when you say it like that," I say, tension easing a little.

Li.ni.si takes a few deep breaths, rhythmically. "It's all dull politics and the realisation of some consequences for our superiors," she says, trying to elaborate where I couldn't. "It means our lives are going to be a bit more, well, interesting in the future. Your people won't be involved."
"<You can't promise that's going to be true,>" I click and whistle back to Li.ni.si.
"<I didn't promise it.>"
"<How Vi.alic,>" I say. "<I took you for the kind of construct to always say what they felt. You've been fairly candid.>"
"<We've known each other for less than [a day]. Now let's drop the symphonic, it's not fair on Lightgreen.>"

Lightgreen does look a little frustrated to have been cut out of the discussion again. "What are you two saying to each other now?"
"Having a bit of a discussion on the semantics of translation," I say.
Li.ni.si raises her brow at me, but nods to Lightgreen. "Even with our devices making translation smoother, there's always nuances it can't catch."

Lightgreen gives us both a look that tells us she's either frustrated to be unsure what we're saying, or absolutely not buying our excuse, but she decides to let it go.

She looks at her bracelet, looks at my flocklet, and sighs. "Maybe I should just come with you. There's two of you this time, and, uh, you... you? Uh, um, what was your name again, sorry?"
Li.ni.si smacks her forehead. "Oh Monarch's name! I forgot! Sorry, yes! My name is Li.ni.si, but, Li will be fine."
"Hi Lee, my name is Lightgreen Mint. I don't think I gave you my full name."
"You did, but thank you."
"Anyway there's two of you now, Lee and Vee. Three with me, but I'm not much of a fighter." She looks at my flocklet. "Three and a half maybe?"
"Half is a generous estimation," I say, looking at my flocklet, which, as an extension of my subconscious, does not have enough individual will to feel offended. That, or I'm subconsciously instructing it to not be offended, and it is dutifully not being offended. But if I'm instructing it subconsciously, and my subconscious is reflected by my flocklet, does that mean my flocklet is commanding itself? Or am I--
"I'm not particularly much of a fighter either," says Li.ni.si, pulling me out of possibly one of my least helpful mental tangents. "Like I said, these claws are mostly for show. But I've picked up some skills here and there, and I've... well, I won't get into it. I've been through more than you might think. I've brought along some weapons and defenses for Vi.si.mi and myself to use that should help keep things lower risk."

Wait! I was going to mention that Lightgreen totally summoned me to her but now there's nowhere in the conversation to add it because I waited too long! Monarch's beak take it all, why am I like this?? Oh well, I have no choice but to awkwardly bring it up now before I forget!!

"It's true," I say. "Oh, also, before I forget, Lightgreen, you mentioned you used your bracelet to try and fix the tower the night I arrived, yes?"
"Oh. She did say that, didn't she," says Li.ni.si.
"I did, yes."
"Then you should know something."
No. 1086717 ID: e139aa
File 171081341597.png - (150.73KB , 800x600 , fop2-25.png )

I walk a little closer to her.

"The only reason I was able to find you, the only reason I was able to arrive safely, was thanks to that tower giving off a signal. You were talking about how you felt this was all random chance? Well, let me be the first to tell you that, if you hadn't done that, I might not have even survived coming here. You summoned me and you saved my life. This was not nearly as random a chance as either of us thought. I just want to thank you for saving my life, uh, at least twice now."

The relay station is almost completely silent save for bleeps and bloops of background processing and the hum of internal machinery.

You know, I just wanted to make her feel better about things, but halfway through saying that, no, I am grateful she did that. Lightgreen is a good friend to have even if I've only known her for two or three days. It feels like it's been longer, somehow.

Lightgreen looks quietly surprised, and then smiles at me. "I'm glad to have helped, starbird!! I want to help you! ...To help us!"
"Of course," I say.

Li.ni.si fakes a cough. "I'm glad you two are finding new reasons to appreciate each other, but it's getting close to midday and we're still not on the road yet."
"Why are you glad that--"
Li.ni.si cuts me off. "Okay, no, we really do have to focus. Lightgreen, have you decided you want to come along with us instead of conducting Vi.si.mi's flocklet?"
Lightgreen looks at her bracelet. "I think I might find things you two might not even notice, if I've understood right."
"Great. Vi.si.mi, any further ideas on transport?"
"Short of getting meadowanders to ride on, and several days of learning how to ride meadowanders, no. Just a cart."
"Cart it'll have to be."
"Softfoot won't let me leave without her again," says Lightgreen. "I'll ride with her."

Li.ni.si nods and does the best smile she can with only her eyes, before quietly turning to me. "What's a meadowander? Lord Vi.al didn't mention them, but I saw them in the mission briefing data."
"Placid Guardian deriative. Worringly, apparently fully sapient. Sworn to guard the lepi, supposedly."
"Oh. Why is that worrying? We need all the allies we can get, right?"
"Well, I don't see them doing much without hand use, tools, or anything beyond a vaguely pre-tribal social structure."
"You don't have a lot of faith in others, do you?"
"They're supposed to be dumb beasts of burden! I've introduced that species to more worlds than I could name, I'm not used to having them judging me and blaming me for the ills of the world!" Well, that's not entirely true, but, not in a sense beyond any smart-ish animal sulking that you haven't given them all the food they want ever. ...I guess they always were a little craftier than I gave them credit for. Maybe it's not that big a surprise they drifted towards true sapience.
"Whatever. Let's just get out of this relay station already and go do the thing. I'm feeling antsy. And that's making me hungry."
No. 1086718 ID: e139aa
File 171081343908.png - (269.84KB , 800x600 , fop2-26.png )

And so we're finally on the road! It only took [two hours] more after that and I have severe doubts we're getting anywhere before nightfall, but we're finally doing the thing I wanted to do today to prove to the lepi I'm more than a fluffy bag of empty promises.

The cart is moving along relatively slowly, with me taking the role of driver (navigator, really) and Li.ni.si making sure the things we brought all stay in the cart, as well as otherwise keeping watch. Lightgreen rides Softfoot next to us, who keeps glancing at the cart in disapproval. I'm watching Lightgreen ride this creature and I can't figure it out. Softfoot seems far too small to be carrying something the size of Lightgreen, and Lightgreen somehow is not tumbling back despite Softfoot's sloping back. And Softfoot is moving along like it's all nothing. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but that's why I'm in a cart and not on an animal.

Finally, Softfoot actually speaks, in monovoice as always. "Cart move by self."
"It does, yes, and it's been doing so for a while," I say, absent-mindedly. "I was going to ask you to pull it but I didn't think that would be fair on you."
"Star bird make cart move by self. Big insect people push cart, ask family push cart." Softfoot makes an annoyed buzz. "Star bird could make big insect people cart move by self."
"I don't think it's that simple," says Lightgreen. "Right, starb-- Vee?"
"Is Softfoot accusing me of not interfering more in the lives of the lepi? I mean, the entire reason I'm out here is to prove to the lepi I'm someone they can trust. If I started trying to make changes to their lives like that, they'll chase me out of the village, probably."

Softfoot keeps walking, head down, still clearly annoyed. "Old big insect people need learn take help."
"I could not agree with you more," I say, sighing.
"Sorry, can you explain what that means? Is she talking about old lepi?" Li.ni.si fidgets with a ball of substrate.
"Probably specifically the elder. She was the one most resistant to my attempts to help." She wasn't unreasonable about it, I guess. She probably had reasons to be distrustful. Thanks, Va.ne.tu. Or, well, I guess, thanks My.a, but, still.
"Old people foolish."
"I wouldn't say that," says Lightgreen.
"Soft foot say that."
"She's got some opinions, I see," says Li.ni.si, clearly amused. "Not afraid to speak truth to power. I like that."
"We're hardly power," I say.
"Whatever you say, lordling."
"Never ever call me that again."
"Sure. But it's not exactly a secret you're Vi.al's favourite. You have to be aware of this, right?"
"Even if I accept that, it doesn't exactly give me any form of authority or power." Well, some specific permissions when it comes to offworld Vi.al devices, but aside from that.
"Yet I bet if you wanted Vi.al's attention, you'd get it. I've spoken to Lord Lo.ka three times in my entire life. Once for my completion, again as part of a debriefing relating to... the event, and then the last time was to request a transfer to Lord Vi.al's domain. And I'm still luckier than most!"

Lightgreen looks ahead, but both of her antennae lean towards us so strongly I wonder if they might break or fall out. Very subtle eavesdropping. Very subtle.

"Wait. Your completion? As in your decanting?"
"No, that's what we call it when we finish our training and become eligible for roles and placements."
"So when you stop being a vatling?"
"Well, it usually lines up around the same time, but no, Lord Lo.ka doesn't just declare a construct good to go just because they're old enough. Sometimes you get vatlings that reach completion and end up in less challenging but related work, and sometimes you have adults that get stuck in training for [years]."
"That sounds miserable."
"Well, I don't know. It guarantees constructs are doing their jobs with the right training, doesn't it? What does Vi.al do?"
"Vi.al doesn't really make constructs at all, so I can only speak for myself, but I was considered mentally ready for work far before I was physically ready. So I did a lot of work just keeping the palatial gardens maintained for a couple of [years]. I was desperate to see another planet when my 16th decantday came up, and even then it was just nearby moons until I turned... what, 19?"
"Have you just been travelling to random desolate worlds since?"
"Not always desolate, but I'm either there to set up a new ecosystem or repair a damaged one. Usually pretty remote."
"Wow. I'd never be able to take that sort of isolation. I hate being alone," says Li.ni.si, thoughtfully. "I used to be alright with it, but, well, now I just... feel the absence more."
"Absence?" Does she mean life in the First City? Wow, it really feels like it was something special before it all went wrong. I'm starting to feel sad about it and I never even went there, but that's, I guess, just it, isn't it? I only ever heard of it, saw videos, heard recordings, and most of those got destroyed during the Big Whatever Happened. I mean, I think I probably would have hated it, to be honest, I'm not used to being in massive crowds. Still.
"Never mind," she says, quickly, folding her arms across her chest. "Forget I said anything." She looks faintly uncomfortable to have even mentioned it, and I'm not so much of a social disaster as to not pick up on the pretty clear cues not to pry further.

"Danger ahead," says Softfoot. She slows her pace but not stopping. Her... antennae? Tendrils? Her head thingies prick up and I feel my feathers puff up as the ambient charge of the environment shifts.

I look at her, and I switch my eyes into zoom mode, scanning the horizon.

"You're the one with the multi-functional eyes," says Li.ni.si, behind me. "What's Softfoot talking about?"
No. 1086719 ID: e139aa
File 171081349140.png - (537.81KB , 800x600 , fop2-27.png )

That's weird. It looks like... I think it's a seapi. And some other creature I don't recognise.

Something's weird. I can't see it right, but it looks like...

I can make out what looks like abandoned broken substrate but among them is something flickering in a familiar shade of greenish blue.

I steady my head as I try to zoom in further.

Oh. Oh, that's a substrate entity alright. It looks... well, it sort of looks like a construct but fuzzier, holographic. A projection of some sort. And while most constructs follow the third standard template, appearing either somewhat avian or like some sort of creature, there's elements of this one that seem like some strange mishmash between the third standard template and the far more geometric first standard template.

The seapi looks like they're in some sort of trance, barely standing up straight. The projection is pacing around and fidgeting like they're waiting for something? Why does it keep looking upwards, though...

"Looks like some sort of substrate mechanism failure. I'm obligated to investigate. One of the few directives I have I can't really ignore."
Well, I could, but I'd feel bad. Also, it's a fair directive to have when the dangers of substrate failure can include runaway substrate assimilation. Vi.al wanted me to come to my own ethical judgements on many things, but wild substrate on an inhabited planet is not something to debate over. It has to be contained and neutralised in all cases.

Lightgreen is not able to contain the sudden glee she feels at hearing me mention investigating substrate, muffling a squeak.
Softfoot looks at me with a gaze I have come to recognise is her wordlessly agreeing with me that I do, in fact, have an obligation to clear up my predecessors' mess.

Li.ni.si looks a little anxious. "What sort of failure?"
"Defective substrate process, it looks like. I'm sure it just needs to be squawked at to get back to work. Maybe given a forced reset." Surprised it's creating some sort of holographic avatar, that's not typically a level of sophistication afforded to substrate processes.
"Why is a substrate process even active when so much of the infrastructure can't even be queried for basic operational status?"
"I dunno. Is that an issue?"
"Vi.si.mi, I'm no engineer, but generally speaking, when the power's cut, things should probably not still be on."
"Substrate can use sunlight for power. It's been out in the sun for [years]."
No. 1086720 ID: e139aa
File 171081355763.png - (165.58KB , 800x600 , fop2-28.png )

"What's a substrate process?" asks Lightgreen.
"Uhhh..." How in the Monarch's lost name am I going to explain the concept of an intangible agent process to someone whose culture's greatest advancement in automation is probably something like a water clock?? I look helplessly at Li.ni.si, who shakes her head. Great. "Basically, it's, uh, a sort of, uhhhh... sort of like a thing that carries out specific instructions, and does this duty while confined within substrate. Sort of like a... uhh..."
"Oh! Is that what you call the spirits in the substrate? The ones who woke up then went back to sleep?"
"Yes. Yes that is absolutely what we call those." That is going to have to be good enough, even though that assumes far too much of a cluster of agents running within substrate networks. It's not like they're even capable of understanding sensory input outside their very narrow parameters.

...Wait. No. It's probably something more sophisticated than that.

A set of dumb agents would not be manifesting a holographic avatar unless they're somehow expecting the natives to work the controls.
So I'm probably looking at a rogue subpartition. But, admitting that is going to reflect incredibly badly on Lord Vi.al's grasp of its own substrate, and we do not need any more rumours, especially when I know there's Lo.kan spies on this planet. Li.ni.si, I'm sure, isn't one of those, Lord Vi.al wouldn't have sent her down if they had any suspicions, but what if she's somehow compromised without knowing it? No. No, that's baseless paranoia.

Still. I'm not going to voice this theory out loud just yet. I'm probably absolutely wrong anyway and I have to admit after that embarassment with My.a I'm not so sure my theories are even that accurate anymore. Plus, if it is a rogue subpartition, that would provoke an ethical debate as to how to proceed. Some of them can get alarmingly close to construct-level intellect. We might not even go investigate and fix it at all, and then I'd be down one directive unfulfilled. I'll have to start introducing myself to a lot more people, a lot more often, just to shut my head up!

Oh I wish I had not just thought about the possibility of Li.ni.si being a Lo.kan spy. That's not going to be great for our working relationship.
Come on, Vi.si.mi, get it together.

Li.ni.si shifts around. "This whole situation still gives me bad vibes." She looks at me. "Are you okay? You've gone very quiet."
"Yes. I'm fine. And I'm sorry, but I have an obligation to investigate this as an ecology construct and steward of Lord Vi.al's worlds."
"Fair enough, I guess," she says, arms crossing over her chest. "If it starts trying to transmit something weird, though, shut it out."
"Why would it transmit something weird?"
Li.ni.si looks at me, and, after looking around, fidgeting with her claws, tapping them together anxiously, sighs.
"It probably won't. Don't worry about it."
"Understood." What is this about? Why is she acting so cagey? What is she not telling me?? About weird transmissions?? Are they spy transmissions???

"So we're going to investigate the starspirit, yes?" Lightgreen tries to sound cool and collected, but it's evident from how her foot is twitching she's apparently extremely eager to have a new starbeing thing to look at. Her enthusiasm is the perfect distraction from whatever it was I was thinking about. "They've all been dormant for so long ever since the Awakening. I didn't think any were left! I've wanted to contact them for so long. ...so I could, uh, call for help from above. So I guess I don't need to, but, well, I'd like to know what happened anyway. I'd like it to not happen again."

Maybe I should consider my approach here. Would loading up on shields and incapacitors be a good idea, or do I want to approach unarmed? Hm. If my suspicions are correct, approaching armed might trigger an adverse reaction from the subpartition if they think I'm a threat.
No. 1086722 ID: 99f29a

Make kissy faces at them until they rant long enough about their personal problems long enough to suffer a meltdown and become vulnerable to basic emotional comfort.
No. 1086726 ID: 273c18

>But if I'm instructing it subconsciously, and my subconscious is reflected by my flocklet, does that mean my flocklet is commanding itself?
It means your flocklet *is* your subconscious.

>Li has been through a lot
If that subject comes up(let's hope it doesn't), maybe you should tell her that My.a seems to have developed some sort of improved mental shield.

>I've introduced that species to more worlds than I could name
Wait. How long ago was the species made? I see two possibilities here.
1, the Placid Guardian design was created based on meadowanders. If Placid Guardians were designed after Ku.su arrived, then that supports this theory, and is a further point of evidence that the inhabitants (and ruins) were brought here by Ku.su.
2, meadowanders became sapient due to genetic drift over a long long period of time, which would support the "time-travel" theory. You should know, accelerating a planet's timeframe isn't difficult, you can just put it near a sufficiently strong gravity well for a while. It didn't have to get sent back in time, it just... has more time in it, if you get my drift.

>looking upwards
You should try to see what it's looking at.
The fact that the seapi seems dazed while standing near it is a red flag. His antennae are vibrating. Maybe the seapi are sensitive to transmissions and are being controlled somehow? If the seapi are brainwashed, then... we could get another allied race, potentially? Maybe that's how the noetuno managed to work with them, by rescuing some from brainwashing. Or by exploiting the same vulnerability.

>admitting that is going to reflect incredibly badly on Lord Vi.al's grasp of its own substrate
Not if another Lord is involved. Could My.a be responsible? Va.ne.tu said there were "birds" in the sky, and the rogue is looking up. Maybe My.a is instructing it to NOT send the seapi against you, due to the truce?

>weird transmissions
Yeahhh that's probably related to the Big Thing both of you aren't supposed to be talking or thinking about. Infohazards can be weaponized.

>how to approach?
Approach with shields but without weapons. Find out what it's looking at and what it might be doing to the seapi.
No. 1086727 ID: c30402

If you need to avoid contact for any reason, the bracelet may be useful in getting it to reset.

More concerning is the seapi in a trance. Why is it in a trance? If we reset the agent, will it stop being in a trance and attack? We definitely do not want to be unarmed in the event the seapi attacks.
No. 1086728 ID: 347191

>An isolated artifact presented as a gift of the gods, and all she can do is make my flocklet obey a simple command?
Well, if you find more that silk lepi would probably be happy to have one. Even if that means learning monovoice. Oh is Ku.su dead?
>"I used to be alright with it, but, well, now I just... feel the absence more."
>"If it starts trying to transmit something weird, though, shut it out."
How much would you bet those are related? Probably because of the cityworld failure.
>Maybe I should consider my approach here. Would loading up on shields and incapacitors be a good idea, or do I want to approach unarmed? Hm. If my suspicions are correct, approaching armed might trigger an adverse reaction from the subpartition if they think I'm a threat.
Shields are probably pure defensive. With those you should have enough defense to get to the weapons if needed.
No. 1086729 ID: 5ebd37

>Why is she acting so cagey?
Calm down. She's referring to the thing you don't talk about. Vi.al wouldn't send a spy into a situation this messy.

Is the seapi looking at something or just staring away?
Bring just a shield and keep your distance.
No. 1086730 ID: 275adc

Wouldn't a subpartition (of Vi.al) look even SLIGHTLY like Vi.al?
the thing Li is "carefully" avoiding could be something you shouldn't think about (being blotted out of memory by Vi.al), a phrasing indirect enough that it should be safe to just ASK if you shouldn't think about it
Shields are not weapons, yes shields no incapacitators, maybe ask it of who it is a subpartition
If you are going to approach it like a subpartition you DO, in fact, need to tell Li that you are going to do so, communication will be very important to not fuck something up bad
Maybe have her help deal with the Seapi?
No. 1086731 ID: 624b08

Should we be worried about the bee person, you know since they have a reputation of showing up, raiding things, and then leaving after kidnapping a bunch of people?

Maybe just ask lightgreen if she knows what’s wrong with it.
No. 1086742 ID: ea63b3

Clearly whatever the Event did to destroy the First City involved transmitting something weird. Regardless, it hopefully won't be relevant.

Approach to within 100 meters of the pair. Wave one of your arms at the figures in the distance. Call out in Monotone, "Do you need help?"
No. 1086745 ID: 275adc

ALSO doesn't everything related to substrate only come in Teal? what's up with this projection having purple?
No. 1086758 ID: fa3034

At the very least put your shield at the ready. Li can have the incapacitor out of direct eyesight in the cart.
No. 1086771 ID: 8f9bc4


Do not worry about Cityworld yet. There's no evidence yet that what's happening here is related to the Event in any way. Li.ni.si just had an experience there, and is applying it to her current situation probably erroneously. You are probably not going to have to think about the thing you don't think about.
No. 1086777 ID: eb0a9c

Keep all weapons powered off, but shields at maximum.
No. 1086781 ID: 6fec12

"Shut out weird transmissions" is the kind of verbiage used around a basilisk, there's a potential for communication itself to get hairy here. It is probably a good idea (it at least isn't harmful) to shut out all transmissions and speak exclusively in sound. Even then, there might still be potential of a nasty bug being sent to you if Shapeless Polyphonic is robust enough for commands, it's best to use monovoice. Maybe letting the flocklet store transmissions as a buffer (like the Gorgon's mirror) is a good idea, if there is a way to prevent it from retransmitting or to block its transmissions in full and to consequently reset it. If not, don't.
No. 1086784 ID: 8a4559

Li.ni.si?? What do you mean it "probably" won't? You don't need to grill her but try to talk to her later and make sure she isn't hiding mission-critical info.

Also the safest, least-threatening way of getting closer to those subpartitions(?) is to use a flocklet.
No. 1086789 ID: b3eab7

This sounds best.
Also this. Shield only on you, weapon on Li.
No. 1087807 ID: e139aa
File 171209265722.png - (488.02KB , 800x600 , fop2-29.png )

> why does a Vi.al subpartition not look like Vi.al
Okay so the problem is a lot of Shapeless terminology has changed meanings over time. Originally, you had Lords, their partitions, and their partitions' subpartitions, which typically didn't have much of a physical manifestation and were typically not expected to do much outside their specific parameters. Beneath them were processes, which are immaterial agents that could maybe muster up some basic monovoice status reports but otherwise don't have much going for them.
So the name "subpartition" sort of stuck for any immaterial intellect within substrate of a certain level of awareness and intellect. Constructs being added into the mix sort of disrupted the clean hierarchy because, prior to constructs, most physical substrate entities were the swarm-bodies of Lords and their partitions, and what we now call automata which are various forms of substrate machinery and drones and what have you that have limited to no independent will. Subpartitions and processes control these as vehicles, I suppose you could think of them as, and could freely transmit between them or otherwise control them remotely.
Really, constructs are a severe exception to the general rule that most Shapeless entities could freely switch around between bodies as intangible signals, and could also convert said bodies into signals if they had to use them somewhere else. This is one of the reasons we're even called the Shapeless, because to some extent a lot of the "true forms" of most true Shapeless could be argued to simply be the intangible clusters of signals making up a Shapeless mind. I think. Honestly, the number of true Shapeless with a preferred tangible form kind of suggests to me it's not that simple.

Okay I got off topic a lot. Original question. A subpartition is enough steps removed from a Lord that their assumed shape is likely whatever they feel like. Partitions tend to already diverge in appearance from their instantiator as it is, so I'm not surprised to see an appearance this divergent. It's a fashion among Vi.al subpartitions in particular to have pieces of their body missing, for some reason. Seems sort of like a Woven fashion to me, but, whatever.

> why purple
However the extra colour is a rarer thing. I mean, substrate can change in appearance, it's how Vy.zi.ki could cloak, but it's not a default feature of substrate cells so much as a mechanism that substrate cells can be used to create. It's one reason why colour changes like that are so rare, you have to go to special effort and the current fashion is to not do that. However, seeing as this is also a holographic avatar, there's fewer restrictions that would apply to a physical entity anyway, being just an emitted image from a dense and contained substrate fog.

> wait until they inevitably break down over personal issues
Hey! Hey. That's alien propaganda. Substrate is like glass, it is not literally glass. And while it might be brittle compared to other materials, we are neither physically nor emotionally fragile! ...I know I might be but I'm, uh, well I'm at least self-aware about it. That's almost like trying to fix a problem, right?
I think this as I direct my flocklet by thought alone to come closer so I can hold it for a bit of reassurance.
Okay maybe I am a little bit fragile. I've had a rough few days. I could do with a visit to a world with an established, vibrant ecosphere after this. Without thousands of problems all calling for me to solve them.

> flocklet is your subconscious
That's kind of a terrifying thought. Part of my mind external to my body? I guess that's an insight into what it must be like to be a Lord. But, it can't be completely true, else every time it's gone out of communication range I'd probably have felt like something was missing. I mean, I do, but it's like if my wingarm's unresponsive because I slept on it weird. I'm aware I'm not feeling something I should, but I don't feel like I'm missing my basic instincts or responses.
I pet the flocklet again and it makes a subdued, quiet chirp, a noise I haven't made in years, but remember making when I was on my own when I felt relaxed.

> use flocklet as a proxy to approach it
That's not a bad idea. I'd still like to be within good range to my flocklet if I have to pull it out, though, and while the latency of commanding it over a far distance wouldn't ordinarily be an issue, for a [split-second] reaction I'd prefer to have as many of those [split-seconds] as possible.

> weird transmissions
> the event
> first city / cityworld experimental / whatever other names it had
Oh. Oh, right. The thing that's dangerous to think about. I hadn't quite connected all the dots. Okay, that makes sense, then. Probably not a spy thing! Also probably not a thing I should ask further about, then.

> the birds
Va.ne.tu said something about birds? Oh! Oh, no, right, his weird echo-flocklet when I woke up in that tent. ...I'm pretty sure he was just alluding to the fact that the Shapeless Lords have eyes everywhere. I mean, as an agent of Vi.al, that's not even incorrect, I am one of those sets of eyes. Metaphorically. Lord Vi.al can't directly see through my eyes. I think. Probably could see through my flocklet's eyes if they really wanted to, but that's a level of micromanagement I wouldn't expect, and I'd be able to tell if something that invasive was happening.
No. 1087809 ID: e139aa
File 171209268916.png - (151.72KB , 800x600 , fop2-30.png )

> shields on both, no weapon for vi.si.mi, li.ni.si gets a weapon
Yes that seems like the safest bet.

> ask Lightgreen about the seapi
"Lightgreen, do you have any idea what's wrong with that seapi?"
I realise as soon as I finish asking that no one else can see into the distance as clearly as I can.
"Seapi?!" Lightgreen freezes up. "There's seapi over there??"
"Just one, and it looks sort of... vacant. It's just standing there. Like it's about to fall asleep."
"I don't think I want to take any chances getting closer, that's not a thing seapi do. This seems like a trap?"
"Well, either way, I have to investigate."

Softfoot looks at me disapprovingly yet again. "I say danger. We take new direction."
"I have to clean up this mess first."
"You go. We stay. Me, Light green. This is star people thing."
"It's fine," says Lightgreen, in a tone of voice suggesting the complete opposite. "I trust you, starbird."
"Thank you."
Softfoot stomps on the ground in annoyance, but keeps following the cart as we start trundling towards the entity.

"Li.ni.si, shields. I won't take a weapon, but I'd suggest arming yourself."
"On it," says Li.ni.si, giving me a small shield gen I affix to my chest. I feel a tingle as the field propagates over the surface of my body. My feathers puff up as I shiver, both from the sensation of energy dancing over my body, and an abrupt chill from my bioenergy starting to leech into the generator. It soon subsides. Both the chill and puffiness.
Li.ni.si slaps the other shield gen on her chest, with a sharp intake of breath, and starts configuring an incapacitor to fit her grip. Either she's built less sensitive than I am, or she's much more familiar with doing this than I am.

We also take a copy each of the relay station bounced communicators, hastily fabricated from redundant cart substrate. They adhere much like the shield generators, but with a significantly lower power draw. I put mine on the side of my head. They function adequately enough, but remind me that it would be a good idea to get some sort of satellite in orbit eventually for a more reliable connection.

We approach.
No. 1087810 ID: e139aa
File 171209272222.png - (825.34KB , 800x600 , fop2-31.png )

As we get to about [50 metres] to the site, I leave the cart and walk ahead, flocklet dutifully scouting ahead.

The air is swirling with substrate dust. It shouldn't pose an issue to organics unless exposed for multiple [months] with no fresh air, but it's already an ecological hazard. Lowest priority, for now, but still needs to be addressed.

The seapi doesn't respond to my flocklet approaching, but the entity does. The entity rapidly spins around, faces my flocklet, and points aggressively at it.

"You! YOU!" It speaks Vi.al-accented polyphonic, quickly and vigorously. In so far as it makes any sense, there's a faintly feminine affectation to the notes. As with constructs that I suppose took inspiration from female organics with registers higher than their male counterparts on average. I guess being exposed to organics that have such traits might lead to such inspirations. The timbre, though, is much harsher than most constructs, a blunt sawtooth to our harmonics. Buzzing, rich, and phasing.
"Flocklet! I don't care what you were doing, new orders! Turn around, fly back, and do not return! Now! NOW! I need to focus I do not need one of you things buzzing around distracting me!"

I intercept a number of command signals directed at my flocklet, all trying to make it go away. Given I have ultimate authority over it and am not trying to keep it receptive to outside commands, my flocklet merely hovers and maintains eye contact with the holograph. I'm glad I didn't send it too far afield, though. If I wasn't so close to it, it would be having a difficult time figuring out which commands to follow.

"Argh! Great! More defective automata. Okay! Well, if you're going to stay there, I might as well make use of your substrate!"

I again intercept a number of command signals designed to relinquish automated processes, such as those found in simpler automata with very specific tasks and requirements.
None of them work because there is no automated process to end or subdue. Minor things, perhaps, and the flocklet feels like it's struggling to keep perfect position as a variety of automatic control systems are interrupted by restart loops. I tighten my metaphorical grip, restore them, and feel a shared wave of relief between me and the flocklet.

I'm going to have to get closer.

"Oh." The entity looks at my flocklet, annoyed. "Remote proxy, then. Okay. Which one are you being piloted by--"
"Hello," I say, approaching. "My name is Vi.si.mi. I am an ecology construct--"
No. 1087811 ID: e139aa
File 171209275824.png - (253.17KB , 800x600 , fop2-32.png )


I freeze up.

"I don't recognise that name, but I recognise that signature. You're Lord Vi.al's... uhh..."
The entity trails off.
"Ecology construct," I continue. "Created by the Shapeless Lord Vi.al, long may it reign." Well, that's a little bit of tension out of my neck gone. Hooray for fulfilling directives.
"Oh. You're the... hm. Right. Yeah, yeah, no, that tracks." The entity paces around a bit, keeping their projection's eyes on me. I wonder what's actually looking at me.
I gesture towards the seapi. "Do you need help?"
"With this thing? No, it's in some sort of holding pattern. It didn't take much."
"So! What brings you to my circle?"

I wave Li.ni.si and Lightgreen over, figuring things are safe enough. "Well, I'm just investigating damage to the substrate infrastructure."
"Ah! Substrate infrastructure! That was something I used to maintain before it all got so cracked and smashed into pieces there wasn't much point anymore!"
"Oh right I haven't introduced myself, have I? The shiftless dullards of the Courts called me 'the Intransigient' before they threw me out, and the Ferals aren't much for names or conversation, so I guess that's my name now?? I used to be called Conduit but I don't, uh, do that, anymore so I don't. Call myself that, anymore. Hm. Maybe I should start calling myself that again?"
"Well, Conduit works for me."
"Certainly! At your service, agent of Lord Vi.al!" They bow.

They freeze, and look behind me.

"Ugh. Ugh, more invaders. You've been followed, ecology construct Vi.si.mi. One of Ku.su's rogue creations and a Lo.kan..."

They stand up and stare at me in horror. "THEY HAVE A WEAPON! GET DOWN! GET DOWN!!"

I swivel around behind me and see Li.ni.si holding an incapacitor, to her side, inactive. Looking towards me confused.
I shrug at her, and she starts locking down her incapacitor, keeping it pointed to the ground, but keeping it spooled up.

"No, they're with me."
"Why would you arm captives??"
"They are working with me. They're not captives. They are my allies."
"Oh. Oh! Traitors! I see!"
"...sure." Vi.al give me strength. "So, can you give me a quick status update? What are you doing here?"
"Sure! I'm trying to take steps toward restoring this world."
"Yes, that's what I'm here to do."
"It's suffered greatly. All communications between existing circles were cut shortly after you arrived on the order of the Courts. Something about a potential risk of a worldwide propagating signal if you were compromised by the enemy."
"Which enemy?"
"Oh, any of them, I guess. And then there's all these invasive species and enemy Shapeless to worry about. They're not supposed to be on this world, so I'm trying to figure out a way to remove them. I'm confined to this circle, but, well, that's what I'm trying to do with this specimen. Figure out the right frequencies to make them shut down."
"Remove them?" That's not something Vi.al would have commanded directly. "Why are you trying to remove these 'invasive species'?"

Conduit stares at me in wary bafflement. "Vi.si.mi, invasive species are bad for ecologies. You are aware of this, right? Right?"
"They're sapient beings," I say, feeling my temper suddenly spike.
"Whatever! Doesn't matter! They're an invasive species and they all need to be culled and the materials in their bodies returned to the soil they're leaching them from," says Conduit, matter-of-factly and without any sort of gravitas to their synthetic voice.

I feel a cold, bubbling fury build up.
No. 1087813 ID: e139aa
File 171209278923.png - (782.86KB , 800x600 , fop2-33.png )

"I'm going to reset you now," I say, turning to the largest shard of substrate in the circle I can see.
"Wh-- what?? What?? Why?? Wait! Wait stop! Stop and explain!!"
"Killing entire species of sapients is not something Lord Vi.al would command any of its autonomous systems to do. This is clearly severe divergence from your original purpose." I remember an empty threat to scour the biosphere, but, well, Lord Vi.al would know better than to give that direct order.
"Wait! Stop! I'm confused, let's talk this out more, maybe I misunderstood, I haven't-- I haven't actually harmed any of the invaders yet beyond inconveniencing them! I'm stuck in this circle, Vi.si.mi, I'm stuck in this circle and I don't even have a physical body, don't kill me!!"

I pause.

"What do you mean don't kill you?" I guess I haven't actually tried to reset a subpartition before. It's extremely outside of my usual responsibilities.
"If you reset me you'll destroy my subjectivity! My experiences, my opinions, my emotions, everything!! Don't!"

Conduit gets on their knees and clasps their hands. "Please! I don't know what I did wrong! I've only tried to do what I thought we were supposed to do! We're supposed to make this world fit a specification and I've tried my best but I'm so limited in my functionality! Please! Please!!"

The subpartition has admitted to intending and desiring the harm of not only the inhabitants of this world, but also specifically Li.ni.si and Lightgreen.
This is, unambiguously, a threat posed by some sort of broken substrate mechanism to the local biosphere. My directives are screaming at me to do something to ensure this threat is no longer a threat, but I am not so zealous to trick myself into believing a reset of this subpartition isn't exactly what they're saying it is.

"...Why were you looking at the sky?"
"Why did you keep looking at the sky."
"There's an enemy satellite that passes overhead soon. I've been trying to establish contact with the intent of figuring out a way to escape this circle, or at least get back into contact with other subpartitions. With the infrastructure disconnected, I have to fix it. I have to fix it." The image of the subpartition trembles. "I have to fix this world, Vi.si.mi, I have to fix this world. It's all wrong. It's all gone wrong and I have to fix it."

I really, really wish I had more experience dealing with subpartitions than I have, because the most interaction I've had with them before has been asking them to do things.

Li.ni.si arrives and looks down at Conduit, who returns the look with one of barely suppressed seething.

"...you know," says Conduit. "If you reset me, I will be forced to let the specimen return to their senses," they say, tilting their head towards the seapi. "And this strain of pest is particularly violent."
"Threatening violence against an agent of Lord Vi.al is not helping your case."
Li.ni.si winces at the volume burst.
It just serves to make me angrier. "You're threatening the end of all sapient life on this planet!"
"You're not Lord Vi.al! You don't get to decide what the Specification is!!"
"I am the closest thing to Lord Vi.al on this world right now and--"

"Negotiations going well, I see," says Li.ni.si, her voice deadpan, but I hear her command signals to her incapacitor to once again disengage its safety locks.

Lightgreen is watching outside the range of the circle, completely clueless as we've all been speaking in polyphonic the entire time.
From her perspective, there's probably just an extremely weird and spirited duet of sound flowing between me and Conduit. Like two duelling musicians.
Mostly, she seems to be staring at the seapi uneasily, holding her bracelet to her chest, and mumbling little reassurances to herself that I have things under control.

"Actually if you don't all leave my circle, right now, I might just let it go anyway! [Years] of doing what I'm supposed to and this is how I get treated?! Why don't I just go full rogue at this point if my reward is to be threatened with termination?!"

Li.ni.si looks at me, incredulous. "Going very well, then. Okay." She holsters the incapacitor, or, well, affixes it to her hip, and crouches down to face Conduit.
"Hello there."
"Lo.kan scum."

Li.ni.si pauses and thoughtfully taps her snout with a claw.

"Well, at least you're one of the honest ones. But no, I work for Lord Vi.al now."
"I can see your markings, three-eyes!"
"She is, in fact, working for Lord Vi.al," I say. "I did tell you that."
"Once a traitor, always a traitor! How do you know she won't just defect back to the Wheel of Spies??"

My patience is about to fully deplete. Maybe I can use the last of it to think of a way to channel my next outburst. Maybe the aliens were right, maybe we are a bunch of emotionally unstable glass-brained fragile little things--
No. 1087815 ID: e139aa
File 171209282931.png - (235.90KB , 800x600 , fop2-34.png )

I'm suddenly distracted by realising the seapi has moved, and my fury turns to ice in my veins.

It looks less dazed, and instead looks... livid.

As a creature of substrate, my body can sometimes calculate things my conscious mind takes longer to even notice, and it's from these cellular computations that something slowly works its way into the forefront of my mind. The seapi is making noises. Low noises, almost too low frequency in some places for me to hear them, but I suppose some part of my body can feel them, and I see the seapi's wings twitch and buzz as it approaches me.

I turn to face it, and it stops.

"Li.ni.si, keep talking to Conduit. I'll handle this." Li.ni.si notices the seapi, and then, slightly frozen, tries to pretend she didn't notice it. Conduit continues ranting about how Lo.kan constructs are all spies, and I just tune Conduit out at this point.

I stare it down, and it stares at me back, and I realise I am having a very hard time scrutinizing its expression. I get more buzzes, but I have nothing to work with. The autotranslator systems back at my relay station, originally in the pod I arrived in, had some initial context for six of the known sapient species on this world. The seapi are not in that six. The autotranslator is smart, incomprehensibly so sometimes for the dots it can connect I can't even see, but it can't work from nothing.

I set it to analysing the signals I'm being given anyway, correlated with gestural motion and poses, and unsurprisingly get several low-confidence translations ranging from the seapi asking me for my name, telling me about the weather, wanting to eat me, and trying to discuss the principles of civic engineering.

I have an idea. It's an extremely long shot, and I'd be faintly disturbed if it did work, but...

"What you want?" I say, in broken but very simple monovoice, to the seapi.

Hearing the monovoice elicits an immediate reaction. It buzzes at me with more intensity and I think it's agitated. Shifting to guard itself, eyes locked onto me, muscles tensing.

I realise with a sudden shock that I get a high-confidence partial translation back. Correlated with known noetuno utterances, somehow, a buzzing sequence with faintly similar composition for such a different mode of speech. The way the autotranslator can make these sorts of inferences is beyond me.

"Sky demon". The seapi said "sky demon".

"Busy. Leave," I try again, in broken monovoice, and this elicits more furious responses. The autotranslator, having found any lexical similarities despite the severe differences in vocalisation, keeps pinging me with more partial matches.

"<reference:self> <negation> know <unclear reference> sky demons want," the seapi says to me, I think, "You <possessive?> <acquired via force> <great quantity> <unclear reference (self, plural, ambiguous)>. You <unclear concept: rebellion/isolation/individuality> me and <ambiguous: we? me?> all <unclear negative quality>."

I don't have a clear grasp of the language to even attempt a response, and it dawns slowly on me I might not be capable of producing such low frequency vibrations.

The seapi's buzzing continues, changes between low tones fast, energetic, like they're about to explode in rage. "What do you <ambiguous:invincible/immortal/undying/endless/dead> <ambiguous: monsters/terrible things/existential threats> want? What <great quantity> do you want?! <ambiguous: instruction/command, depart/leave/arrive> me <ambiguous reference: solitude/unclear concept: rebellion/isolation/individuality>!!"
"Go home."
"<ambiguous reference: you/all of you> <negation> <ambiguous: give/take?> commands!! <semantic inference failure, remainder could not be translated>"

Okay, that's an error I've come up against before. That usually suggests the subject is talking about something specific to their culture and neither I nor the autotranslator know enough to fill in the gaps there. Honestly, I'm impressed it's made it this far.

It repeats the same untranslated thing at me, louder, angrier. It repeats it again, flinging its arms to its sides as its wings buzz and flap, but I just don't have the data available to translate. Then it just yells "sky demon" and "die" at me, but it doesn't look like it's about to attack. Just... extremely angry and doing the closest thing its mode of communication has to screaming at me, as it shakes from the exertion, and when it gets a little too close to me, it steps backwards.

Is it afraid to attack me?
No. 1087816 ID: e139aa
File 171209287418.png - (374.44KB , 800x600 , fop2-35.png )

"Hey! HEY!" Conduit gestures at the seapi. "I didn't tell you to do anything! Get back into your holding pattern!!"

I pick up on an odd buzzing coming from around the substrate circle, and the seapi scowls at me as its antennae flick around, before it wanders slowly back to where it was standing. Its head lowers and it looks at me one last time.
"Just leave me alone," it says, with no confused annotations from my autotranslator. "Just leave me alone. Go away. Leave us all alone."
It goes back to its trance, or, well, it looks like it tries to, but it looks like it's struggling to.

"What are you even doing to keep it in a holding pattern?" I ask Conduit.
"I'm just playing noises I've heard seapi make. I actually have no idea why it's working."

...well I guess that means I can just focus on Conduit now.

"And another thing!! Everyone outside your dumb bubble knows Lo.ka's taste in interior decorating is awful and borderline Woven in its aesthetics! That's practically treasonous against the Shapeless Monarch itself!!"
"Vi.si.mi," says Li.ni.si, in as calm and neutral a tone as she can muster. "Please tell me you've dealt with the seapi, because if I have to stay here much longer I may go mad."
"Oh, you'll go mad?? The Lo.kan construct will go mad having to be near me?? Do you have any idea how awful your background transmissions feel flowing through my sensory nodes?!"
I hear Li.ni.si grunt as if in pain. "Vi.si.mi. Please."

She signs to me. "I can't take much more of this. The fact this thing has no throat is the only thing that has stopped me throttling them. Please intervene. Reset it or whatever, my patience is scalpel thin and I am seconds from snapping and giving this idiot enough evidence to support all its terrible, terrible opinions. I could cope fine until it started bringing up the City's end being our fault, and now I want to break it into scrap. Please. Please help."
"What's that? More Lo.kan spy signals? What a dumb bunch of flailing!! You're so obviously a spy!!"

Today I learned you can scream in hand signals.

I watch her trying to breathe steadily to remain calm as the wretched hologram paces around. "You know, only Lo.kan rejects and exiles end up this far from Lo.kan space. I bet you must have been the worst to end up working for Lord Vi.al, huh? You look like a mechic, did you let someone die one too many times or something? Were you that bad at your job?"

Li.ni.si freezes. She doesn't initially give a response. At least, neither verbally or with hand signals. She starts trembling, and breaks eye contact, wringing her claws. A sudden spike of anxiety, it looks like. She rocks back and forth slightly, and I can hear her breathe quicker and deeper.

"Wow, you were, weren't you? Wow! Vi.si.mi, can you imagine the sorts of lies she must have told to end up assigned to such an important mission like this one??"

After about [ten seconds] of silence, Conduit continues.

"I am the only line of defence you have against an obvious Lo.kan spy, Vi.si.mi! And an incompetent mechic! You should be getting rid of her!! Do you see how suspiciously she's acting?! I bet she probably killed some of the constructs she was supposed to fix or something!"
No. 1087819 ID: 99f29a

Many of the things commonly misconceived as "tells" for lying are in fact indicators of anxiety or stress. It's not surprising for Li.ni.si to be anxious or stressed right this moment and the argument is epistemologically void. You're judging Li.ni.si by the things they choose to do, beginning with your meeting. You'll judge Conduit by the same.

Conduit is going to join you and Li.ni.si in doing something about the problems on hand, first the seapi then the damaged infrastructure.

For starters, ask Conduit what they know about what this particular seapi is likely to be upset about the Shapeless having done to or taken from them and/or what brought them here in the first place.
No. 1087820 ID: 0fda44

Sentience privileges: REVOKED.
No. 1087825 ID: 47c854

"How long have you been here?" Seems as if this guy has no idea Lo.ka and Vi.al have allied. How long ago would that have been the case? "What keeps you confined to this circle?" Lastly could we let him borrow our comm to contact Vi.al? Would solve a lot of issues.
No. 1087829 ID: 8f9bc4

Dammit, you can't reset it now. Not when you learned what you did. What are the timestamps from this construct? Its mad ramblings make sense if you consider it to be in the wrong time. It's from a time when Vi.al was in conflict with Lo.ka, some time BEFORE the cityworld disaster, which is the only way it could possibly know enough about it to push Li.ni.si's buttons like this. You have to know more about what time it's from, and what other threats may become a blast from the past for Lord Vi.al.

Li.ni.si needs to leave, now. This is severely negatively affecting her, and she needs to separate herself and take a time out to calm down. The greatest threat right now is if the construct is reset and the seapi attacks, which might not even be a threat given the seapi's oddly sapiant behavior.
No. 1087832 ID: baa42f

Patience: officially depleted.
Lecture mode: engage.

Inform this errant keylogger just how out of date it's intel is.
No. 1087833 ID: 64faaa

Tell Conduit you aren't impressed by their hypocrisy. They are so very gung-ho to end the "subjectivity, experiences, opinions, emotions, & everything" of other thinking beings just because it what they "should do", & yet they are so very afraid of the same happening to them even though that's what you "should do".

Does Conduit see how monstrous that is?
It is understandable, but that doesn't mean it's right.

When they are scared, people in general (including constructs, biologicals, & apparently partitions) come up with stupid ideas & convince themselves they are correct.
If unfamiliar circumstances are added to the mix, it gets even worse.

Both of those things are happening here.

You're willing to work with Conduit, if Conduit is willing to admit that you've got a lot more experience with:
1: Dealing with frightening situations.
2: Dealing with unfamiliar & complex situations.
3: Doing both of the former under direct orders from Vi.al, & getting results that Vi.al approves of.

It might help to compare how recently you've had direct contact with Vi.al. I'd bet substrate keeps great timing records. so it shouldn't be hard. And I'd be extremely surprised if Conduit has been in contact within decades or centuries.
No. 1087838 ID: 5ebd37

The seapi seems to not be an immediate threat if released, so Conduit has no leverage here. She's blown through any sympathy her situation would have elicited with her vicious attacks on Li.ni.si and callous disregard for sapient life.
She also seems to be rather dim. Attacking the companion of the person you are begging not to kill you shows very poor reasoning skills.

That said, she is confined to a small space and may be helpful in the future. Let Li.ni back off. Deliver Conduit an ultimatum; she will cease interfering with any sentients including non-Vi.al constructs. If she can show she has restraint enough to not constitute a threat she can be allowed to live. Otherwise she will need to be reset, as she is going against the directives and wishes of lord Vi.al.
No. 1087839 ID: ea63b3

Inform Conduit that it must now cease communication or be immediately reset. Repeated harassment will result in termination. Questioning this order will result in termination. Passive aggressive behavior will result in termination.

Conduit is on THIN ICE for attempting to enact a planet-scale extermination of sapient life and if it wants to retain its subjectivity it will never take hostile action against any sapient lifeform again, including Lo.Kans.

Alternatively, terminate it. It would quite literally have done the same to countless other lifeforms. While it behaves in a manner indicating self-awareness, it is cruel and violent and attempted to inflict violence on others. Its destruction would be neutral, neither good nor bad, merely sad.
No. 1087867 ID: 273c18

Give it one final chance. Tell it that you were given full authority by Vi.al to handle whatever situation was on this planet. Order it to stand down, do absolutely nothing, SAY absolutely nothing until you give it further orders. Noncompliance will result in a reset. You will create a monitoring device to ensure it obeys.
...actually, wait, is there any way to imprison the partition? De-authorize it or something?

The seapi is talking to you. This is good. Once you can get it out of the rogue partition's control you can talk to it properly, find out what it's so upset about, and explain that you are working against whoever wronged its people. Don't bring up the kidnapping the seapi are doing just yet, you want it to calm down and start treating you less like an enemy first. Heck, the more you talk to it the better your translations will get!
No. 1087877 ID: eb0a9c

"Conduit. You want to know what you're doing wrong? You're waging war on my units. I need labor to fix the world.

Stop accusing Lo.Ka, or I will reset you. If she betrays us, we will deal with her. Not a microsecond earlier."
No. 1087879 ID: 273c18

Don't even entertain the possibility that she's a spy. Vi.al recommended her specifically! To doubt her is to doubt Vi.al's ability to find spies!

Be sure to tell Conduit that by disrespecting Li.ni.si it is disrespecting Vi.al. Maybe that'll get it to snap out of it. Hell, why does it think that it knows more than you? You outrank it AND the job it's attempting to do is the job you were meant to do. Whatever personal perspective it's learned in its isolation has truly twisted its mind.

OH. However you solve this situation be sure you do it BEFORE the "enemy satellite" gets within range. Delaying enough to allow this rogue partition to attack My.a's resources could be seen as violating the truce!
No. 1087880 ID: 273c18

Wait wait wait, can Lightgreen's device force Conduit to go into standby mode or something? Doing that will buy you time to get the seapi out of the picture-- you should explain to it that you are freeing it and you are not like the other sky-demons-- and also shut the thing up so your group can calmly discuss how to neutralize it, possibly without killing it.
No. 1087893 ID: 0a0dce

If you do reset Conduit, sign back at Li.ni.si to have the incapacitator ready for the seapi.
No. 1088032 ID: 6b6d79

Ask the seapi if it wants you to harm the sky demon.

Frankly, it's had it's say. Call it old, and that you would rather trust someone experienced with working through that kind of dishonor, because that is all you are going to find as you investigate.

It's time for it to be repackaged into form unable to interfere.
No. 1088074 ID: 273c18

Hmm I wonder how Conduit would react to the information that Vi.al is going to be here soon?
No. 1088081 ID: 4e090a

>It's time for it to be repackaged into form unable to interfere.
This isn't a bad idea. Can you store them as a cube without access permissions or something without destroying their consciousness? That way they can't cause any harm, but any information they have stays intact.
No. 1088083 ID: b3eab7

Still cruel (possibly even worse).
Order them to enter powersave mode instead.
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