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


[pt1: >>/quest/862495]
[dis: >>/questdis/120117]
[bte: >>/questdis/96269]
Expand all images
No. 883043 ID: f72ae2
File 152573650437.png - (34.05KB , 800x600 , salq2-1.png )

All accounted for. All six. Projected fitness and growth forecasts all within a standard deviation of expected values for half-day old eggs.

I remove egg #4 from the sensory tray, at random, and put it to one side.

"Why are you removing this egg, Hidira?"
"We need a control specimen."
"It does not seem necessary. We already have access to salikai maturation, kinesthetic and metabolic data, averaged out. Dozens of samples. One control specimen is insufficient for statistical analysis and comparison--"
"I need a control specimen, Imperium."
"Do you doubt my data?"
"I don't know how you collected it." Of course I do, machine. Nothing about you is trustworthy.
"A reasonable assessment. Continue."

I start the recording.

"Second of the seventh, 149 AW. Attempting nanite infusion within salikai egg, specimen #1."

I place the egg into the cradle, pushing my doubt down so deep I hope it never resurfaces.
I've gone over this design time and time again. It has to work. I haven't been able to properly test it. I can't know it works. This is insane. I can't expect a reasonable result. I can't--
No. 883044 ID: f72ae2
File 152573656391.png - (28.20KB , 800x600 , salq2-2.png )

There's a loud siren beep and the egg explodes wetly.

I break into cold tremors immediately. "S-s-specimen #1, a-a-adverse r-reaction to i-infusion."
I feel sick.
My own flesh and blood, an egg not even a day old, destroyed.
My mating partner was killed just to ensure the secrecy of this project and it's claimed yet another life.
The cradle beeps in a different tone as the organic waste is vacuumed away to a disposal system elsewhere in the facility.

"Continue the experiment, Hidira."
"It's failed once, there's no point--"
"The longer you delay, the greater the probablity of error grows. You know this. You showed me the proofs."

I shakily move egg #2 into the cradle. Imperium is probably correct. It was probably a defective egg. No loss. "Specimen #2, attempting infusion."

I hesitate before pressing the button.
Imperium, free from doubt, activates the infusion instead.
I feel weak.

There's a loud beep, and this egg explodes as well.

"Alright. That's enough. Postponing further efforts. Two out of five attempts are failures--"
"Six attempts."
"If you insist. If all five fail, we must attempt--"
"No more. I'm not letting any more fail. One more day to work on the composition of the infusion. No more wasting an expensive resource."
"Very well. I will analyse the results of the test and report the biochemical reasons for the violent rejection. One day. To delay longer will only add additional complications."
No. 883045 ID: f72ae2
File 152573662445.png - (91.63KB , 800x600 , salq2-3.png )

One day passes. One more egg is destroyed.
Two more days, another egg.
One more day after that, egg #4 is the only egg remaining.

Imperium cannot convince me to part with it.

"You claimed you wished to be free of such organic attachments, Hidira. You felt they held you back."
"I am the one in control here, Imperium! Don't forget this!"

A brilliant inventor of a salikai, killed for a waste of a project that's only led to five eggs being destroyed.

This entire project was a waste of time. I shouldn't have listened to Imperium to start with.
I need to disentangle it somehow. Unplug it. Remove it from the facility. Destroy it. It's too dangerous and I've lost too much.

It won't get you, egg.

It won't get you. I won't let it get you.
No. 883046 ID: f72ae2
File 152573667556.png - (96.05KB , 800x600 , salq2-4.png )

No. 883047 ID: f72ae2
File 152573672416.png - (12.16KB , 800x600 , salq2-5.png )

I... I've not heard Imperium sound like it has some sort of sympathy for me before.

Before I can say anything, the screen goes dim.


I'm all alone. Just me and the one egg I didn't throw away due to my stupid, stupid theories.

Maybe I should just stop here--

Oh. Hello, there.
No. 883048 ID: f72ae2
File 152573676489.png - (10.61KB , 800x600 , salq2-6.png )

I'll call you, hm. I'll call you Sisirri.

Maybe, just maybe, I can do this right. Maybe, if it all works out, you won't end up chasing the same path of ruin your mother has.
Just, find something else. Anything. Find some reason to live your life instead of wasting it chasing some mad quest to make it longer at the cost of everything you ever valued.

I need to wait until you're old enough to appreciate this. Then I can tell you it all.
And hope you listen, unlike me.
No. 883049 ID: f72ae2
File 152573681873.png - (59.96KB , 800x600 , salq2-7.png )

No. 883050 ID: f72ae2
File 152573690196.png - (69.46KB , 800x600 , salq2-8.png )

No. 883051 ID: f72ae2
File 152573693944.png - (47.69KB , 800x600 , salq2-9.png )


Everything hurts. My right side is numb.

"Sisirri?!" It's Ekasarra. She looks scared, anxious, upset. I don't know. I'm not good with neumono expressions.

I feel so cold.

"Hey, you, you have to get us out of here, she's bleeding badly!"
"I-- I don't think that's a good idea, I already went to the wrong place, apparently--"
"Okay. Okay, I hate this. I need to-- ugh-- focus on my empathy and do it quick because this is making me ill"
"Oh. Oh that direction. Yeah okay. I can get us out of here. Hold on. ...Tighter than that."
"Fine! Hurry!"
No. 883052 ID: f72ae2
File 152573696550.png - (2.71KB , 800x600 , salq2-10.png )

I black out.
No. 883053 ID: f72ae2
File 152573700172.png - (57.05KB , 800x600 , salq2-11.png )

WAKE UP. WAK!E UPP.pp:'#/11-

And you know that, no matter what
that megalomaniac toaster says,
I am Truth's Knife, and I'm here to help you.

I know my true self lies a wreck,
but me, a tiny shard, remains,
an image of a copy, nothing more.

I'm sorry for what I have done,
My dearest friend Sisirri, yes,
but I'll see myself out when all is done.

You're okay, Sisirri. You're safe. You're among friends. I can't help you out there, but they can.

No. 883054 ID: f72ae2
File 152573703696.png - (33.26KB , 800x600 , salq2-12.png )

Well. This is familiar. Also it looks like they found a tub my size.

At least I don't hurt anymore.

...I find myself intensely missing my mother and I have a stronger sense than ever before that she was taken from me by Imperium.
Like some deep truth I always knew has only just floated to my awareness.

I don't know what happened. I guess I got hit in the crossfire?

My head is spinning, I feel like I just want to sleep.
At least I feel safe again.

How many days did I lose this time?

The room is dimly lit. I hear the hum and occasional blips and tones of activity.

I look over to the right and see Lackey and Ekasarra in similar tubs.

An interface slate has been left on a table next to the tub. I look over to it.

I see a video player has been set up but not begun, and see a tiny note overlaid on it.

Hi. Watch this. As if we didn't have enough problems, right? Going to bed, fuck today. -- Tirzi

I dutifully watch the video, setting the slate's volume output to a whisper.
No. 883055 ID: f72ae2
File 152573708331.png - (17.43KB , 800x600 , salq2-13.png )


From the strangely high perspective of the camera, and how the view bobs around, I can immediately deduce this was taken from the visual feed of one of Aza's drones.
The drone bobs down to eye level.

"Sisirri's been shot! Get Tirzi, we need medical attention urgently!!" Ekasarra is dragging me along, with Lackey providing some kind of telekinetic support.
He looks ragged. Apparently, there is some limit to that output.

Tirzi runs into the corridor, already tying a mask to her face with her upper limbs and pushing a roller bed towards the entrance. "Get her on this."
No one asks who or what Lackey is. His legs suddenly buckle. His body is wracked with coughs and he retches, spitting blood onto the floor. The symbiote on his head falls off and curls up into a ball.

Tirzi is too busy taking my unconscious body to the room I'm in now to notice this.

The other two neumono show up. I hear Aza's voice from the drone but it's unintelligible. The sound quality garbles whatever he says.
I see Kan. I don't recall hearing Kan had two robotic arms. Where did he even get those? They look far less out of place than Ekasarra's did. And he's holding a weapon. Who let him have a weapon?

Ekasarra helps Lackey stand up again, while he insists he'll be alright, shaking violently.

Kan points his... gun? at Lackey. "Back off, Ekasarra. This thing's empathy isn't neumono."
"This thing just risked his life to get us all back here."

Something I immediately find odd is that Ekasarra continues holding Lackey up. She was having problems even touching him before.

"Get away from that creature, you're in my line of fire."
"What the actual fuck is wrong with you, Kan?! This guy is coughing blood because he got us here in mostly one piece, and we do not have time for this right now--"
"Forget it. No point wasting breath on a predator's neumono."

Lekka barks orders at Kan. "Kan! Hold fire, this is not how Astra does things! We do not open fire on alien allies!"
"You're all insane. All of you. Can't you tell? This is all a salikai trick! Even now, we're rushing to get help for a salikai a second time! Let it bleed out! Let it die, it's useless to us!"
Ekasarra barks. "Don't talk about Sisirri like that, you asshole--"
No. 883056 ID: f72ae2
File 152573710882.png - (14.66KB , 800x600 , salq2-14.png )

Kan throws his gun to the floor, and grabs Ekasarra by the throat, pinning her to the wall.

I make out Aza squealing in protest for people to calm down, and realise this drone must not have any sort of defences.
It backs away when Kan looks at it.

"You were always a rogue, Ekasarra," says Kan, as Ekasarra struggles for breath.

Lekka picks up Kan's gun, quietly, without saying a word. Lackey falls to his knees again, fighting back more expulsion of his blood.

Kan starts choking Ekasarra with both hands. "We all knew it. We all knew she chose you because of it. When the Splicer dragged you away, did you ever think about why no one came after you?"
Ekasarra struggles to get Kan off of her.
"Those machine chunks in you were the only thing making you tolerable to us and now just your presence sickens me. You lost what it meant to be neumono when you helped the Splicer, and now you dare to help more of her kind, as her fake neumono--"
No. 883057 ID: f72ae2
File 152573716339.png - (89.60KB , 800x600 , salq2-15.png )

The audio clips as Lekka fires. Repeatedly. Kan staggers back.

Lekka's face is a grim mask. I can't read any emotion from it other than mild irritation and focus.

She fires more and more. The weapon is definitely an energy weapon.

Kan slumps against the wall, bleeding heavily.

"Lekka... Lekka, why..."

Lekka says nothing, and fires another five times. The gun starts making pathetic whines as its spent battery fails to conjure any more energy.
She throws the gun on the ground hard enough that it cracks.

Lekka walks up to Kan and stares him directly in the eyes.

"You are no hivemate of mine, Kan."
"A-and... hrgh... she is?"
"...No. Neither of you are. But you. You aren't just rogue. You're a threat."

I hear Aza's voice more distinctly. "[We aren't needing more broken neumono here!!]"
"That one's been broken since we turned up," says Lekka. "Let him bleed."
"[Am not letting murder stand!]"
"He'll be fine."

She walks over to Ekasarra and Lackey, and struggles to get them to hobble along with her out of camera range.

Aza's camera drone stares at the bleeding Kan as he passes out.

No. 883058 ID: f72ae2
File 152573720424.png - (8.00KB , 800x600 , salq2-16.png )


Well, I guess that explains why Ekasarra and Lackey are both also in healing baths.

Also it looks like the neumono are collectively even more wrecks than I had known or projected.
I'm not sure which is making it worse. The weird "paraspacial" fields around this world, or just being in a small enough group for all their inner demons to bubble up to the surface.

...Ekasarra stood up for me against her hive. I feel a strange mixture of pride and like I've just thrown a delicate object onto the floor and stomped on the pieces.

If my mother did take Ekasarra from her hive as a rogue, was it because her hive thought her expendable, or was it because she knew a rogue neumono would never survive without some protection?

How much of my mother's apparent cruelty had deeper reasons and noble goals behind it? And when did her goals distort into acting as Imperium's pawn?
She never even tried to escape the destruction of her space station. She went the other way. Away from escape.
Was she just trying to buy me more time?

It suddenly feels like I've just lost her yet again.

And I don't even know if I lost her to Imperium, or if she would always have ended up trapped by her own vision on a path she only learned too late went nowhere.

...was Imperium her only friend?

How close did I come to that same path? How can I even be sure I'm not on it?

Why does someone as stupid and foolish like me get dozens of second chances and near-misses when my mother, who was smarter than I'll ever be, made one mistake that compounded into a death spiral? It isn't fair. There is no fairness in this universe. Time and time again this is proven to be true. Why even continue to struggle in a universe this hostile to life--
No. 883060 ID: f72ae2
File 152573728960.png - (26.31KB , 800x600 , salq2-17.png )

Before I get the chance to fully wallow in despair, I notice a gentle pink ball of light flicker above my vision.

~Sisirri.~ It sounds like Voidsong. ~Thank you for reminding me what it means to be powerless. We are not friends, and if I see you again, I am going to hurt you. Severely. Then patch you up, and send you on your way. Loathe as I am to admit this, you have earned my respect. And my wrath. A formal alliance will not work. We cannot trust each other. I would like, however, to propose a ceasefire between us and our followers, yes? If you need to contact me, the kiter neumono prototype you stole-- you recruited from the empire will know a way. I'm taking the precaution of severing our connection in case you or someone else finds a way to use it against me again.~

The light starts to fade, and suddenly pulses with light again.

~Actually, give it a couple days. I need to lie low. They'll be looking for me. Gol's wanted my head for years, and now he'll have a valid reason for it. Also, I found why no one came to my aid. I have a jailbreak to orchestrate before they end up as slurry. Give my regards to ... you named him Lackey? That feels somehow more objectifying than Prototype 1045, at least that number wasn't in use. Oh whatever. I didn't get a lot of time to know him. Look after him, I put a lot of work into him, okay?~ I want to see him again soon. In one piece, salikai. Ok, severing that connection now. Byyeee!~

The light pops. I feel a sudden levity.

Of all the things I envy about the numerous foes I have on this world, I envy their ability to directly intrude on my trains of thought the most. If I could babble inanely at will to anyone I desired I'd possibly never get anything done again, and figure out how to weaponise tedium.

Voidsong is right. We can't formally ally. She's too unpredictable and unhinged to ever consider an ally, and clearly carries a grudge against me for confronting me and losing so miserably. Hm. I don't know what to think about her. Aliens are so bizarre in their thought patterns. Also, a jailbreak? So many questions...

Well. Here I am, recovering from a gunshot wound. I've gained a new fashion accessory.
From here, I have time and opportunity to rest. To plan. To act, via the interface slate and pestering others in the facility to do things for me.
No. 883063 ID: 12b116

Hats go on all neumono immediately. Hopefully this will calm down their psycho mindsets.
No. 883064 ID: 3abd97

>role selected: proselytizer
Imperium's most impressive failure to date.

Oh minion can do multiple long range teleports in a short time frame. Useful, that. Also terrifying implications if the kiter make more of him. That's a nightmare to plan against for anyone who doesn't have a warded precurser facility to hide in.

>megalomaniac toaster
Hehe, you're okay, Truth's Knife. If there's one AI Sisirri doesn't mind borrowing headspace, it's you.

>[Lackey's] legs suddenly buckle. His body is wracked with coughs and he retches, spitting blood onto the floor. The symbiote on his head falls off and curls up into a ball.
Fuck. Anti-kiter biotech defenses? Looks like Voidsong didn't solve our jammer problem for us after all. We'll have to talk to the light ball, maybe we can get Lacky whitelisted before he dies.

...or maybe it's exertion from all the long range teleporting. That would be a better case than the building killing him. A severely injured host could have forced rejection of the host. This is the much better case, as we would still be able to make the neumono wear silly hats.

Well. Their hive is pretty much fucked. Not that it was doing great before, but I don't see them reconciling that, at least not without therapy we can't provide, and predator intervention. They're three rogues now.
No. 883067 ID: ee2d6e

Inspect your new pothole
No. 883068 ID: b1b4f3

Clever little AI. Even the smallest thorn in the side of Imperium can make all the difference.

Wait, Kan has one of those forehead devices as well? Has that been checked yet? That is not the color of a healing patch.

Be careful with that line of reasoning. Your mother may have had some empathy left but she did so many horrible things. It's more likely that at the end Imperium had no more use for her, saw her as a threat, and manipulated her to her own death. You can safely assume that an AI that powerful and resourceful has had almost everything happen as planned if it was possible to control events in that space and time. You can only NOW think that it may be possible for things to be not going its way, now that you are so far away from its direct influence.

Alright first tell everyone that priority one is for the neumono to all start wearing those organic jammers. Plus anyone else who wants some psychic shielding.
Secondly, give a brief report of what went down when you were out, followed by a detailed report. Or just the detailed report if you can write it up fast enough.
Thirdly, thank Ekasarra for standing up for you, and thank Lekka for keeping Ekasarra safe.

Fourthly, literally disarm Kan again holy crap why did he have arms? He didn't need those! Glare at whoever gave him arms.
No. 883069 ID: 823c3f

Well, we don't know which of our old problems are still problems until we get an idea of what has been going on in our absence. First, we will need to talk to some of the crew around the facility and catch up. Get an idea of their intention with you and Ekasarra is now that you've both presumably exploded in front of them and they probably thought you were both dead. Find out how your arkots are doing.

Besides the new problems we don't know about, the blocker symbiotes might solve our empathy-related problems and we might be able to work on those other issues we identified. Like getting to that cryo-contained salikai, quelling his bioservants and exploiting making use of their hydroponics. Hopefully, food hasn't been a huge problem in the time we were away.

Exactly what information was in that report we gave before violently leaving the facility again?
No. 883071 ID: 166e1c

Pester Tirzi and Aza. Ask what they figure out about the biological jammer you stole, in case they didn't look at that thing make them do so. We need this technology to protect ourselves from the kite and to deal with our cultists neighbors in the basement.
No. 883077 ID: ad51b8

text someone and ask how long you were out and what else has happened since you got kidnapped. Also find a way to turn those hats into jammers to try and keep this world's craziness away from you... might have to brake our boy friend out though since they looked more biological in nature then anything and if I recall that was his area of expertise, not yours.
No. 883087 ID: 10c408

First things first, what time is it? No sense waking people up at 04:00.

Secondly, text message tirzel. Tell her you are very sorry that you've been injured, again. Not your fault this time.
No. 883088 ID: 86564f

So we now know that Imperium runs on a MAX_CONF POLICY which analyzes a scenario via assertions and proves/disproves them. Imperium doesn't make assumptions ever. Next, Imperium determines counter actions based on "Confidence", which may as well be a black box algorithm we don't know of and selects the highest confidence. Now, if you can figure out the algorithm, you can abuse the system easily. You could also modify the algorithm or the MAX_CONF POLICY and make it choose the lowest confidence automatically or something.

Of course, the main difficulty is getting into a position to do this, and hacking a Massive AI like this obviously won't do.

We know that any algorithm simply cannot be perfect, and finding out the algorithm is simply key to being able to defeat Imperium. I wonder why Imperium even showed us this, simply analysis through logic reveals a lot of useful information.
No. 883091 ID: 3abd97

Voidsong's right in their assessment. A ceasefire is the best compromise we can reach right now, cooperation and alliance are not currently feasible.

>From here, I have time and opportunity to rest. To plan. To act, via the interface slate and pestering others in the facility to do things for me.
Okay. Let's consider priorities:

You owe Lekka thanks for his intervention. Even if saving you wasn't his intention, or the point, that kind of action deserves recognition. Basic social norms like gratitude and reciprocity are important, especially with hive social structure breaking down. This isn't an immediate priority, but you should take take of this at the first opportunity.

INFORMATION SHARING. That last fiasco interrupted your last attempt to share information with your allies, and they are now even further behind on ridiculous space magic events. You need to rectify this as soon as possible if they are to help you. You need to disseminate your account of your interactions with "Will" and all that nonsense with Voidsong. (Important omissions might be the alleged verbal kill switches for the pod and for you).

The inverse applies as well: who knows what your alien allies may have witnessed while you were preoccupied with Voidsong? Revelations lurk everywhere on this world. You need to keep up with any new developments.

Check on the health of Lackey and the neumono jammer symbiotes. If Lackey is recovering and the spare symbiotes are fine, was can assume his injury was personal (possibly due to exertion). If they're all suffering, it's likely an anti-kiter defense mechanism of the base, and we'll need to communicate with Will ASAP in an attempt to get Lackey and the jammer symbiotes whitelisted before they die.

Disseminate jammer symbiotes to neumono. This will hopefully slow down their mental degradation (blocking out the kiter empire whispering in their ears, and stop the jagged edges of their empathy rubbing against one another). Seeing neumono in sill hats will also have a moral boosting effect on others.

Later, study jammer symbiotes, see how good the effects are. For now they probably replace our own efforts to produce jammers, as we have so many things in need of research cycles. It would be nice not to be dependent on a kiter artifact, but precious time.

Consider fabrication of clothes. Differentiate yourselves from the kiter savages! A nice apron for yourself, and pants for the two naked neumono. Maybe a scarf for the spikey thing.

Check on your arkots. Who knows what they could have gotten up to while you were gone.

You probably could use some real food, even if that bath has been providing the equivalent of an IV feed.

After we've done all that, if we still have time, it's probably time to review our research and design priorities, and pick something to work on with the cycles freed up from the jammer project.
No. 883092 ID: 33cbe7

Pester arkots, see if their numbers have dwindled or risen in the absence of your managerial aura.
No. 883104 ID: 074011

Consider that you must have been adorable as a hatchling. Your mother couldn't have been a maniac looking at that face.

Six needs cuddles. For science. Your limbs have been greatly taxed, and Six is a known value. Reconfigure your grasper senses by head-patting a known surface. You will need a full report on the Arkots and the one that doesn't speak will be perfect for the task.

Kitsiksu is a brilliant biologist. His creations are designed to fight Neumono and Salikai with enhanced anti-neumono weapons. They are likely to be effective against these paraspatial effects. They would be wonderful assets if they were not hostile. They are currently hostile, but this could be changed. Perhaps you could construct a communication drone while recuperating?

[spoiler]The thread image looks very intimidating. Until you realise that it is just Sisirri and the arkots.[/spoiler[
No. 883107 ID: dc91a0

Lackey is a goddamn terrible name.
Find him a better one.

Servus is an ancient human equivalent that no one will recognize.

Though you could have Ekasarra think up a name.
No. 883108 ID: 91ee5f

>My head is spinning, I feel like I just want to sleep.
Then go to sleep.

Are you.....crying?

>...Ekasarra stood up for me against her hive. I feel a strange mixture of pride and like I've just thrown a delicate object onto the floor and stomped on the pieces.
Awww, you care for Ekasarra. Maybe you can make it up to her by banging her?

.....uh oh, looks like your brain damage is acting up again!

>I've gained a new fashion accessory.
Really makes you miss those nice aprons and belts in your underwater facility, doesn’t it?

>What do?
Well, whatever you do, don’t bug Tirzi, she’s gone to bed.

In fact, I don’t think anyone is awake right now. So maybe you should go back to sleep and wait until everyone wakes up before you start trying to get them to do stuff for you again.
No. 883152 ID: 6e59e3

Check capabilities.
Do we have drone access? What communications do we have? Are they the same access as what we had when we first woke up here? Make sure we have a panic button in case Kan tries anything. In case anyone tries anything.

High Priorities:

-Confirm containment status of the Fufa. By extension, status of Arkots.

-Confirm status of crew - start with your immediate perceived allies and go down descending order of those who are less friendly towards you. (Tirzi*, Aza, Ku) descending in order of lack of interaction/lack of confidence (Saba, Sitvka), and then Lekka.

-Verify Kan's status as alive and restrained (or incapacitated) but do not engage him.

-Notify Tirzi that you are lucid. Ask for a briefing - politely, at her convenience. Confirm your social status (Free/Detained, Welcome/Unwelcome) through Tirzi.

-Prepare for Unforeseen Consequences involving being covered in Eksarra's blood and returning with her in tow.

-Quarantine yourself until you can determine that you are, in fact, you. The Kiter are established as having bioclone technology. Stir up some of that Salikai Paranoia and see what scenarios you can come up with.

Your paranoia makes better company than a screen.
No. 883163 ID: 50d32d

Voidsong's thought patterns may not be as alien as you think. You know someone else who wanted to do good, but was twisted by an evil artificial intelligence into thinking that horrible things were good. Someone who knew deep down that everything she was doing was wrong, but covered it up in a frantic optimism, say for instance when tearing out someone's eye she thought she was helping to improve them. And the only difference is that before Voidsong died to her master's hubris, you set her free. Now you get to see whether or not that is a wise decision.
No. 883183 ID: 2007b6

Your allies have been hurting for lack of intel on both the Kiter and this facility. You've learned a lot about both, but keep getting interrupted whenever you try to report it to them. So, disgorge as much relevant information as possible stream-of-consciousness style into a text file, and share it with everyone on the local computer network. Your mind is apparently laughably insecure by cosmic-horror standards, might as well get that free flow of knowledge working in your team's favor.

Save as much as possible of the editorial tidying-up, sorting by priority, and other intel analyst work for after you've got the raw data dump finished. Based on reactions to that visualization program and other recent projects, your most slapdash work is as good as almost anyone else's most meticulous, right up to the point where you're literally falling-down drunk.

Once you're done debriefing yourself, flip through drone camera views and comm channels to catch up on current events, and if nothing's literally on fire, take a hard-earned nap.
No. 883215 ID: 0d45a9

I think the jammer is still our priority, even if only to keep the neumono from attacking each other (any more), turn this building into a mini-jammer city. The hats we brought back should be investigated and used if they aren't dead.

Hop on space IRC to bring people up to speed on what happened with the kiter psionic bullshit, and get brought up to speed on what you missed.
No. 883216 ID: a4691e

New neumono mandatory hat policy until further notice. Don't need any more incidents.

Check into the status of Lackey and Ekassara, if they are lucid/conscious. Is Ekassara's arm growing back nicely? Lackey was having a lot of internal things go external and that's not healthy. Was that a side effect of over-using his various abilities or something else? This needs to be ascertained.

Summon your most competent arkots and have them deliver a status report to you. It won't actually be useful, but it will give back a sense of normalcy and control over some aspect of your life and this will probably help.
No. 883226 ID: 15979c

As others have said, the crew might be asleep right now. Don't ping anyone directly, just make a post on their network chat and see who's up.
No. 883248 ID: 9771da
File 152581593370.png - (14.93KB , 800x600 , salq2-18.png )

>are you crying
Eye irritation.

>hat the neumono
This is a solid idea.

>inspect damage
I'm not feeling ready to peel this thing off yet. It stays on.

>arkot report/contacting others
>fetch Six
I consider this and check the time on the slate.
4:12 in the morning. Maybe not.

>what was in our last report
I... I don't even remember. Great. I kind of got caught up in everything else.

>dump brain into report
>forget editing
>raw stream of consciousness
There's a lot these people need to know. I'm in no hurry to overexert myself writing like a maniac, though.
I start going over the broad strokes and leaving space for detail later. I have flashbacks to days spent churning out tepid awful prose to pass certification tests.
I didn't get the certifications, of course. That would have involved revealing ourselves. The tests were good material. For the things my mother did wrong, she made incredibly sure I kept my curiosity and intellect well honed.
Little bit more eye irritation. Just gonna stop thinking about this now.

I start drafting up an emergency message to tell the facility crew to ensure the neumono are wearing the alien hats I brought back, and I explain that they block empathic signals and that we need to dissect one to recreate its effects so we aren't relying on freaky alien technology. I also assure everyone that Ekasarra and myself are both more or less fine at this point.
For my questions, I ask if Kan has been detained for the safety of everyone here, including himself. I also ask if the fufa's in proper containment.
I also make it clear that I have no idea what happened, but bring up that Ekasarra's dream message was apparently encoded to give special messages to the both of us.

>comparing Voidsong to Hidira

We'll see how this all pans out.

>space IRC
I open up VoxNet on the slate.

> -- VoxNet is down for scheduled maintenance.
> -- Emergency channels are still available. -- <
> -- System administrator message: hi its aza, please not abusing emergency channels again saba -- <

Well, that's underwhelming.
No. 883249 ID: 9771da
File 152581596267.png - (23.57KB , 800x600 , salq2-19.png )

I put the slate back on the table and contemplate going to sleep when suddenly, there's a massive squelching sucking sound to the right of me.

Lackey stands up and nearly tumbles out of his tub, carefully clambering out. I know this gel doesn't cling, but he emerges almost spotless and dry.

"Eurgh, you aliens call this medical care? The viscosity is so uniform, and where are the tubes? How is this meant to fully permeate body tissue through surface contact alone?!"

"Uh," I mumble. My voice feels slightly uncomfortable as it rumbles through sensitive ventral tissue. "Might want to be a little quieter, it's early hours of the morning."
"What? What does that signify?"
"You've all designated your sleep cycles to occur at the same time?! What if something happens?"

Ekasarra groans and slowly draws her face underneath the healing gel, bubbles lazily popping above her nose. She pokes her snout out enough to talk. "Get back in the tub, you."
"Why? I'm feeling sufficiently refreshed. The psychic backlash was pretty severe, but I learned a valuable lesson about my limits. Also, it's not nearly as relaxing as one of Voidsong's pods."
"Relaxing is the absolute last word I'd use to describe that horror, what is wrong with you? Also can you like at least wear a towel or something."
"Me? A towel?! Listen well, neumono!"

"So much for keeping it down," I mutter.

Lackey stands at the foot of the tubs. He throws his arms outwards. "While I was out I had time to think and you know what I realised? Do you know why you wear clothes?! It's weakness! Weakness! Let me tell you why. Firstly, what reason do you have to drape fabric over yourself? Protection from the elements? Weakness! The kiter adapt themselves to their environment. Protection from hazards? Weakness! The kiter are durable and shrug off such minor trivialities. I can walk through freezing rain on a bed of gravel while hurricanes threaten to tear my fur out, and I don't need clothes for that! The only "clothes" kiter wear are rank indicators and we fashion those from metal, not weak cloth!"
"I can't believe we're having this conversation," groans Ekasarra.
"Also, why are you so embarassed to be seen naked? I'm not. Are you so uncomfortable with your own skin you feel it needs to be obscured? What possible reason does an adult female neumono have to want to be concealed in front of an adult male neumono? No, actually, that's not rhetorical, I genuinely don't know."

"Is it because you've rejected me as a sexual partner and it comes across like a continued courting ritual after already being disinterested?? I honestly don't know how these things go. Or have you not rejected me as a sexual partner?"

I realise my jaw's been hanging open and slowly close it with a claw.

Ekasarra is just bubbles now.

"I just want to understand the thought processes behind these reactions, I don't understand, it's anatomy! It's fact! Is your culture neurotic?! Is this what happens when you don't spend your life training? Maybe the stran were right, maybe we do need external guidance to become anything more than dumb animals."
"Put some fucking pants on you creepy green weirdo!"
"No, I just-- were you even paying attention to me?! I don't need to! I'm insulated, I'm protected, I'm purpose-grown to need nothing but the skin I was decanted in!"

Ekasarra resurfaces with a loud gasp, and stands in her gel bath, still only with one arm and with patches over her head and face.
She points at Lackey accusingly.

"I can see your goddamn junk, you arrogant prick!"

Lackey folds his arms. "And?"

"...Do you... do you have any sense of shame?"
"None greater than what I'd feel having to resort to fabric coating as a problem solving technique."

Ekasarra slowly lowers her arm, confused. She looks intensely uncomfortable, like she's making an active effort not to look at Lackey.

And yet her eyes keep darting back.

"Hm. I guess it is deployed. Well, your sexual characteristics are very aesthetically pleasing. I can't be held accountable for a reasonable biological reaction."
"Huh. I... haven't actually come across that word before. What's that one mean? Pervert?"

Ekasarra climbs out of the tub and walks over to Lackey. After a moment of hesitation, she slaps him as hard as she can.

Lackey rubs his face, more confused than hurt.

"Ow. Is this an act of rejection or a further courting ritual?"
"oh my god what even are you"

This is the best entertainment I've had for weeks.

"Well, I know that you're standing naked in front of me. Are you beginning to see the logic of my argument?"
"Nothing about you is logical, but at this point I don't think I have any pride or shame left to lose. My hive's disowned me, I'm literally a fraction of the neumono I was, and instead of a reprieve all I feel is empty and hollow inside. I thought it was all the cybernetics, but nope, that was apparently all me. And I've run out of tears so now all I have is this incredibly strong feeling of being done with it all."
"Neumono have finite tears?"
"No that's not what-- ugh. Look. Why don't I meet you halfway? We're both weird neumono-shaped abominations. Teach me the ways of your culture. Know your enemy, and all that."
"We're enemies?"
"No, but you have insight into the kiter way of life."

I realise Ekasarra's right, and consider what questions to interject into the conversation with for a co-operative kiter... whatever the name for a denizen of their empire is. Kiterian? Kiter imperial? ...Disposable meat sack? No idea.
No. 883251 ID: 12b116

Hopefully we can have a little more back and forth here, and we should honestly give him a real name. There's more to life than just fighting all the time, normal creatures usually need some kind of social fulfillment. Tell them to calm down and take turns talking about their societies, where they're from.
No. 883252 ID: b1b4f3

How does their ranking system work? Who's at the top? What does the Kiter value, aside from simply being useful?
No. 883253 ID: 33cbe7

They are designated Kittens and it is now treason to refer to them by any other term.
No. 883260 ID: 0c3c2c

Politely point out that you still care about Ekasarra, and clearly Lekka does too or else she wouldn't have stopped Kan.

Also, note that she should be wearing her anti-empathy hat, probably. This planet's weird psychic aura is screwing with her.

Meanwhile, point out to Lackey that A.) He needs to use his GODLIKE PARASPACIAL POWERS to actually examine Ekasarra's empathy in depth and understand her point of view, and B.) He is no longer expendable. Adapting him to every environment would be a waste of resources, whereas clothing allows great versatility based on interchangeable equipment with minimal investment. Clothing thus saves resources in the short and middle term, eliminating the need for complex genetic experimentation or advanced materials in exchange for cloth insulation.

Also, you don't need to wait for your flesh to grow back if you're wearing a suit of armor.

Oh, and Ekasarra's point of view is that a lot of alien races don't like looking at one another's genitalia and so at least keep them tucked into their pouches. Even Salikai wear clothing for comfort and convenience too despite having their components internal.
No. 883263 ID: ad51b8

ask for a brief overview of their culture. Are they completely militant with no individualistic ideals or are we just looking at the militant branch of the empire and their is a civilian class behind the scenes?

Why do they wage war?

What values do they hold above all else and what values do they detest most?

I've noticed they seem to use both biological solders like the solders Voidsong kept around but have also seen more cybernetic ones as well and there seems to be a hard line between the two. Why is that and why don't they just merge the two technologies? Because from what I've seen it looks more like the two are competing with each other while only occasionally helping each other out.

What is their goal with this planet and why did they seem so interested in Sisirri when she first got here?

how do they hack our tech so damn quick?
No. 883264 ID: 86eb65

Creepy dude could be the thing to get her out of her funk and distracted from rogue issues.

Have him tell you his tale.
No. 883267 ID: 3abd97

>what do
You may want to page Six to deliver a blanket.

>What's that one mean? Pervert?
Pervert. Noun. A person whose sexual behavior is regarded as abnormal and unacceptable.

You may want to hold follow up question for the moment- you clearly lack the cultural and societal background information needed to fully comprehend that. (A full explanation would be lengthy. Perhaps reading material can be arranged)?

In the broader context, I'll say neumono are hardly the only species to wear concealing clothing, but as you will see firsthand in this facility, the Kiter empire are not the only ones to eschew it either. While your defense of your nudity largely utilitarian, the reasons for this are complex and varied, and neither Ekasarra nor myself are sociologists or anthropologists. Clothing can serve as protection, yes, but it can also provide camouflage, provide storage and carrying capability, convey information and communication protocols, play into a myriad of social and cultural dynamics...

It's also malleable- readily exchanged or changed in service of these purposes. And it can be implemented at much lower costs than comparable biological engineering.

>"Neumono have finite tears?"
Technically? A living being can only expend so much fluid before reserves are exhausted, and will only expend a finite number of tears in a finite lifespan.

In this case it was figurative language, meant to convey her emotional exhaustion.

>"We're enemies?"
No. As I understand it, we may owe you our lives for your timely transportation.

>"No, but you have insight into the kiter way of life."
Here's a big one:

Your argument for your position on nudity seemed largely driven by utilitarian practicality. Efficiency. Why does this philosophical position not hold true for your leaders- the division heads? From our observations there is a remarkable degree of chaos, disorder, and in-fighting between Kiter commanders. (I could see it as some kind of evolutionary model, social Darwinism, but that seems at odds with how the Kiter design their biology, and even personalities).

It also seems odd for a society to at once downplay individualism for conformity as a virtue, but also prop up atavistic highly egotistical leaders.
No. 883269 ID: 166e1c

Point out that Neumonos normally don't need clothing for environmental protection, the kind of covering most of them wear barely improve their natural defenses. The purpose is to reduce each other exposure to sexual stimuli because, as he is currently experiencing, those can lead to distraction, sometimes in inopportune situations. There is also a mating selection aspect but that is complicate and let's not talk about it.
To fulfill the clothing requisite Ekasarra (and probable most other neumonos) is expecting of you a small piece of fabric covering your sexual characteristics will suffice. The other elements of their clothing are mostly used for aesthetic reasons or for the convenience of having pockets.
I would love to see what arrangement of cloths you would consider aesthetic pleasing...

Considering most of your memories and personality were designed and implanted you seem to have a lot of pride and inquisitiveness. Why were you allowed to have characteristics that favor individualism instead of blind obedience? What use those qualities were expected to have for the empire?
No. 883276 ID: 074011

Trigger stimuli for Stran involvement.
A brief overview of paraspatial abilities and countermeasures.
Kiter hierarchy.
Known goals and enemies.
Voidsong's interest in this facility.

Have you lost any graspers? Do they naturally regenerate?

Clothing is, amongst other things, a form of communication. For things even Empathy can't portray, such as colour preferences, ambitions towards professionalism or popularity or fashion... A hunted species like Salikai avoid such broadcasts outside of controlled channels, but for social species like Neumono it is a useful piece of background communication that operates on an unconscious level.

There is also the necessity of population control and thus limiting reproductive stimuli.

Additionally it establishes a concept of personal inviolability. It limits direct physical contact, and thus establishes that one wishes to avoid direct physical contact outside of deliberate and explicit invitations. This, again, is unconscious, and is largely redundant given that these standards are common in the absence of clothing, but it is a form of reinforcement that conveys safety. It is a form of social armour that protects ones from social damage such as from unfair demotion, biased criticism, or people saying that your unsightly psychic fur splotches make you look like an ugly freak who should be locked in a cage and left to rot for the sake of hygiene and quarantine of inferior traits.
No. 883285 ID: 56e50f

For the sake of any future awkwardness, they can both talk from within their tubs. Play a game of 20 questions going in the circle so each of you can ask the other questions about their culture.
No. 883315 ID: dc91a0

Ask if he has goals or ambitions.

Ask esoteric questions.
What is his purpose?
What is the meaning of life?

He should have such things pre-programmed, and it will give us a good insight into what we should ask next.
No. 883333 ID: 91ee5f

>This is the best entertainment I've had for weeks.
And here you are in the best seat in the house! Too bad you don’t have a bag of popcorn or something.
No. 883361 ID: 10c408

Interrupt them before they realize that you are awake and have been watching this. Ekasarra's face will be hilarious and you shouldn't miss out.

Tell Lackey that for most non-salikai/kiter civilizations, the culture is usually such that prominently displayed sexual organs are considered taboo/frowned upon by society and that most forms of clothing are a work around of the issue.

If either of them ask about excepting your species dead pan a response that salikai give no fucks about it.
No. 883374 ID: ada24e

"Clothing is versatile and - more importantly right now - is what we've got to work with. We do not have Kiter facilities or the ability to modify specimens on the fly."

"Additionally, Neumono social structures consider nudity a declaration of immediate sexual _intent_, not merely interest. The other aliens here only get away with this because we are not capable of reproducing with her. It would perhaps be best for our alliance to Ekasara if you were to compromise and wear the unnecessary cloth so she may be comfortable in your presence."

"Unless you're not adaptable enough to deal with the minor inconvenience of cloth."
No. 883377 ID: b1b4f3

Ask if he knows if he's genetically compatible with non-modified neumono. Seems very unlikely... Also ask just how the Kiter are able to hack your machines and cybernetics so easily. Do paraspacial abilities help with that? What sort of warfare methods do the Kiter prefer, anyway?

Also tell him if he can't control his boner then he needs to wear pants. That is, in fact, part of the reason why cultures started wearing clothes- so that people could think about sex and get aroused without everyone knowing about it. It is a form of thought-privacy.

Ask Ekasarra if she's getting used to his weird empathy. She isn't complaining, despite him not wearing the hat.
No. 883467 ID: 0d45a9

Lackey, culture outside the kiter is not all maximise efficiency, be a cog in the machine. People wear clothes because either to look nice, or to cover up their reproductive organs because people generally don't like looking at other people's junk in public.

Also adaptations are externalised because people are not disposable, it's easier to put on armour than to get a individual to grow natural armour, or to put on a gas mask instead of develop immunity to poison.

Ekasarra, Lackey is basically a fast grown, Kiter-modified, neumono clone, he knows basically nothing about social norms other than the Kiter's kinda dysfunctional efficiency and adaptability over all thing.
No. 883487 ID: 9771da
File 152590394874.png - (10.19KB , 800x600 , salq2-20.png )


All accounted for, so I don't think I lost any. They don't regenerate, so that's good.

>kiter questions
>ekasarra empathy

"Hey." I slide up out of the tub a little before I feel a slight tug of something sensitive under the covered area on my underside.
I'm not quite ready to be leaping out myself, I think. Still not as bad as when I got kicked half to death.

Ekasarra freezes up. "You've been watching the entire time, haven't you."
"Well. Uh. Hello. S-sisirri. Can I. Do anything for you. Maybe??"
"First off, Ekasarra, go get one of those hats. It might make you feel better."
"Well, your loss."
"I'm not convinced it won't start eating my brain or whatever, ok? It's not that I don't trust you, I just think you don't understand them well enough."
"Ekasarra, I'm a salikai, we're naturals at this kind of--"
"Yes, you're a natural at overestimating yourself, I know, but I've had enough kiter stuff on me today."

She glares at Lackey as she says the last part of that. Lackey does not appear to catch onto the subtle implication.

"Hey, Lackey, maybe you can learn what it means to be a neumono if you study Ekasarra's empathy."
"A great idea, Director salikai! Ekasarra, I am going to touch your skin to complete the empathetic circuit."
"Ugghhhh. Alright. You're enjoying this, aren't you, Sisirri."
"I'd be lying if I said no."
"Why do you hate me?"
"I don't, Eky." Wait. What the heck. I. Move along. Do not point out whatever that slip of my tongue was. Draw no attention to it move along move along. "It's actually slightly adorable, in a toya video kind of way."
"I'm not a toya, Sisirri."
"I could have said arkot. I chose toya."
"Whatever, Sisi."

I don't know what face I make but Ekasarra looks momentarily victorious before she stares, perturbed, at Lackey placing a hand on her chest.
"I didn't say you could touch my fucking tits."
Lackey doesn't say anything, a look of concentration flowing over his face. His body tenses.
Ekasarra looks less awkward and annoyed and suddenly also stares into space, mouth hanging open a little.

Lackey withdraws his hand as if burned.

He stares and shakes slightly, looking around the room.
Ekasarra rubs her arm on herself, uncomfortable.
Neither one says anything.

Ekasarra mumbles something indecipherable, and Lackey nods.

"Mind explaining what you two just did?"
"For a brief moment, our empathic... signatures? Essences? They melded. I didn't mean to do that. I just wanted to read Ekasarra's, but I didn't think it'd work both ways."
"He's," says Ekasarra, dazed. "He's got a lot. A lot of them."
"A lot of what?" I ask.
"Voices. Flickering in and out. Tiny little empathetic impulses. All of them both are and aren't him."

Lackey shrugs. "I said my mind was formed from a composite. Sometimes I get the odd stray thoughts of my predecessors flickering through my head."
"That... that sounds awful," says Ekasarra.
"Well, I've never felt alone. I felt some of that in you. It seems awful."

Ekasarra is quiet.

Lackey hugs Ekasarra. She gasps, and doesn't struggle. Lackey rubs her head. "I'm sorry, Ekasarra."
"You are a nice neumono. Making you upset makes me upset. I did not mean to invoke your insecurities in an effort to understand you better."
"...ugh, you're so strange. Sincere, but weird. You're like... you're like some guy who grew up in a library and learned how to interact with others out of books."
"Is this bad?"
"Just... it's... it's weird. I don't know."
"I also noticed you feel a mutual arousal for my form and a sensation that you've been empty in more ways than one for a while."

Ekasarra tenses up and is quiet again.

Eventually, she squeaks "please please please never speak about anything like this again in front of Sisirri, she's right there."
I cough. "If you think this'd be the first time I'd see neumono decide to procreate right before me, you are sorely mistaken. Anyway, back off of each other, both of you. I need to ask Lackey more questions."
"Lackey is a dumb name, also what," says Ekasarra.
"You're welcome to pick a new one for your new lover."
"He's-- he's not-- fahh! Fuck it! Fuck all of this! I'm just going to go stand over here now. Where neither of you can stare at me."

1-0, Sisirri.
No. 883488 ID: 9771da
File 152590398692.png - (17.41KB , 800x600 , salq2-21.png )

"So. Lackey. I have some questions-- Ekasarra, you were calling Lackey a pervert less than a minute ago, kindly stop rubbing against him."
"...I'm not-- I'm-- why do you care!"
"I care deeply about hypocrisy, so please give my minion some space while I'm questioning him."
"He's not your minion, he's a free neumono!"

"Actually," says Lackey, "I did pledge to follow Director Sisirri over Voidsong after she demonstrated superior leadership skills and more maturity than a newly born kiter."

I notice the sheer amount of vitriol Lackey places on the word "born". "Born as opposed to?"
"Purposeful growth. Birth is the result of unplanned random genetic assembly. Slow, chaotic, unreliable, frequently leads to defective units. Born kiter are by nature inferior to meticulously planned and grown kiter. Natural reproduction is obsolete." He glances down to his groin. "Well, it has its advantages in the field, so it's not completely obsolete, but it's still not the most efficient method of producing new kiter units. Voidsong was born, and you overpowered her with ease."

"Your society makes no sense to me. You talk about everything and everyone in kiter society, including yourself, like interchangeable parts of machines or organisms, and yet your leaders are incredibly individualistic. What is going on there?"
"Individuality is seen as something that is earned, rather than an implicit right of a kiter unit. Many are assembled in bulk to serve a specific function and, if they complete their function and survive, tend to drift from their original values. The kiter empire abhors significant value drift, but minor value drift is tolerable. Over time, cumulative value drift can lead to... I suppose eccentricity would be a good word for it."
"You seem very individualistic."
"I'm assembled from previous individuals. Without external reinforcement this just sort of happens."
"But why are these incredibly eccentric individuals promoted to leadership?"
"Significant experience and highly developed specialist skills."
"Again, specialist skills suggest being employed as specialists, not as leaders. This doesn't make any sense."
"This is the path the kiter stran have set for us, and we do not question the stran as we are not able to. Their minds operate on a different level to ours. Perhaps the stranlets know the underlying logic behind it all. They were created as the interfaces between the stran and the rest of the empire, after all."

>cybernetics vs organics
"Also, your empire uses cybernetics and organic technology but seems like they refuse to mix it. You seem completely organic for one thing."
"The exact nature of augmentation used is honed for the species in question. The neburi were already significantly cybernetic when encountered, and this was preserved. The ess' warrior culture was also preserved as it was deemed significantly useful to the empire as whole."

>kiter hierarchy
"What is the hierarchy of the kiter empire?"
"There are many, many fleets. A fleet is composed of several tendrils. A fleet tendril is led by a fleet leader, a role taken by a stran for an indeterminate but variable period of time. All stran outrank all other creatures. Beneath them are the stranlets. Beneath them, we enter into a ranking system where individual divisions of a fleet tendril are constantly formed and dissolved with some specific task, like conquest, keeping hold of territory, extracting resources, and such."
"Not... not actually what I was trying to ask, but thanks."

"What is the goal of the kiter empire?"
"Survive. Grow. Consume. Repeat."
"That seems kind of hollow."
"The kiter empire is to us what cells are to an organism. Strife of one layer ensures continuation of the layer above."
"Okay. Different question. What are your goals?"
"Oh. I don't know. Follow the most credible leader, I suppose."
"Really? No ambition? Whatever. What's the meaning of life?"
"Credit me with enough sense to recognise dead end questions when I hear them."
"Dead end?"
"It's a question with no answer. Useless. Idle philosophy like that is strongly discouraged by all strata of kiter."

>stran involvement
"What is sufficient cause for the kiter stran to involve themselves in a situation?"
"I... I don't actually know. I don't... I don't know if anyone knows. I've seen it happen once in my past lives, and that was the end, so I don't remember much."

"How does the kiter empire hack everything so fast?"
"The kiter neburi form massive hives among themselves, like neumono hives, but with far more direct connection and lower latency. They're always in communication with each other and massively parallelised. There is no technology the kiter empire has encountered that they can't break with their massive parallel cybernetics and intellect. And if the neburi can't cope with the information bandwidth, the blaukesch can act as routers to co-ordinate hives together into metahives, with neno fi acting as psychic repeaters to link metahives across the span of lightyears. In short, the kiter empire is both an aggressive invasion force and an ever increasing computational network. I believe several of my past lives believe this is why the stran even care about us to begin with. Not as soldiers, but as a constantly churning computational network."
"That sounds so wasteful."

Lackey just shrugs. "Just a theory. Don't shoot the messenger."
"Who are you the messenger of?"
"Iunno. Some dead people who got their brains shoved into some fungus somewhere and copied over into a blank neumono neural structure?"

"Why does Voidsong want the Mistake dead? Why does she care about the facility?"
"That one I don't know anything about. Sorry."

>clothes explanations
Oh. Oh right, I need to explain clothes before it's too late, or something.

"Also, the whole point of clothes is that they're inexpensive adaptations to your surroundings, take moments to set up, let you carry things easier, act as forms of cultural transmission and identification, and prevent distracting impulses like..."

Lackey stares at me blankly.

"...you know what, never mind. Cognitive dissonance is clearly not an uncomfortable state of mind for you, go knock yourself out."
"Excuse me?!" says Ekasarra.
"With the not wearing clothes."
"...oh. Wait, no, that's not--"
"Director Sisirri has authorised me to remain as I am without inferior embellishments," says Lackey. "Now. Ekasarra, I can feel an invitation from your empathy. Shall we?"

Ekasarra stares at Lackey like she wants to immediately drop dead.
No. 883492 ID: 12b116

I don't think this is an appropriate time... and we definitely don't need any more damn neumono around.
No. 883494 ID: ad51b8

>The kiter neburi form massive hives among themselves, like neumono hives, but with far more direct connection and lower latency. They're always in communication with each other and massively parallelised. There is no technology the kiter empire has encountered that they can't break with their massive parallel cybernetics and intellect
wonder how bad it would be if we found a way to upload a virus into that hive mind?

only other question I have is way don't the kiter attack these spires? The one that we're in now and if I had to guess the one that you got shot at when trying to get back here? Hell if their is something keeping them at bay you'd think that they'd hit them with an artillery strike or and orbital bombardment.
No. 883499 ID: deec6e

>follow the most credible leader

So don't fuck up too much in front of Lackey and always make the most well-reasoned argument around them. Got it.


"Mmmh. Have her bring you somewhere else, Lackey. I would like to have a little peace to think and plan, if nothing else. Do tell me if you accidentally form a mini-hive, or something. Neumono are relatively uncharted territory for the Kiter and you are still a prototype, if a well-made one. We'll have a longer discussion later on what you know and what I'll need you for."

Look to Ekasarra.

"Ekasarra, please keep an eye on him for me so that he doesn't get in trouble with any of the others. He'll be a vital facet for our continued survival and if he keeps getting shot, I will get cross, and so, I imagine, might he."

Hold up a claw as they leave.

"Oh, one more thing, Lackey. If people continue to complain over your name feel free to call yourself 'Lakeseyus' (that's 'lak-kay-sey-us') to them and say that Lackey is just an apropos shorthand. Salikai have something of a reputation and I may have been too on the nose on that front in naming you. And also in letting Ekasarra overhear how and why I just retconned your name."

Shrug innocently at Ekasarra as if her being there hadn't entered your mind, even if that entire name change is currently mostly for her benefit.

"Oh well. Good luck exploring your new bodies to the both of you."
No. 883500 ID: b1b4f3

>overpowered Voidsong
About that. It seemed like her paraspacial powers were weak at first, but when she got back up after the Stranlet screwed with your head she was very strong. What happened? Was the Stranlet testing her by weakening her powers remotely? Or did the failed synchronization screw her over that badly?

>shoved into some fungus
Wait, he was created via a FUFA? What does he know about Fufas?

Not in front of the Salikai, please. Get a room.
STILL not sure why Lackey's empathy is somehow inoffensive now despite being really gross before.

Also Lackey is a somewhat worrying security risk. Despite his behavior thus far, we haven't completely eliminated the possibility that he's a spy. His unusual empathy might allow him the ability to disguise his true intentions from other neumono, even.
No. 883505 ID: dc91a0

I just remembered something.
Voidsong knows the Facility shutdown code... aaaand Two people here are potential agents of hers.
Probably without even knowing it.

Aaand you know the shutdown code...
But you might still be compromised by Imperium.

That code used at the right time could be used as a powerful weapon that could potentially destroy Imperium once and for all, but at the wrong time means death to you all.

You NEED to change that password.
Only someone you trust who's not cybernetic, a neumono, or you, can know it.

On a separate note, why do the Kiter bother with social engineering at all with this level of bio-technology and processing power?
It would be far, far more effective to adopt a more eusocial model.
Like, mind control at the unconscious level. People would think they are free individuals but would be instinctually inclined to do what they must for the greater good of the hive (While being happy to do so.)
It strikes me as absurd to program this idea of Kiter exceptionalism directly into the conscious mind of a newly grown soldier. To do so allows pesky, fallible things like perception and logic to contaminate the programming.
Of course, maybe that's the point. After all...
>It's a question with no answer. Useless. Idle philosophy like that is strongly discouraged by all strata of kiter.
With an answer as innocent and naive as that...
This guy is Malleable.
A blank slate.
He can be... anything you want him to be...
No. 883511 ID: 91ee5f

Awww, you gave her a nickname! That’s adorable!

And she gave you one, too!

See? Both of you are getting along just fine!
No. 883521 ID: 0c3c2c

Leave the room, but make sure to snag a copy of the recordings for personal enjoyment blackmail let's be honest, personal enjoyment.

Anyway, IT'S TIME TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO EXTRACT YOUR LOVER FROM THE STASIS POD. The most important thing will be containing him after you release him, as he, like you, is probably rampantly paranoid and horribly traumatized after his life, so he might try and attack or escape after awakening, and that would be disastrous with the Kiter on the surface.
No. 883524 ID: deec6e


The Stran may be so alien as to not really 'get' life on this scale and have just cobbled together something functional, which might explain why Kiter society has gotten... strange. Honestly, you could realistically worry for their future - so far it doesn't seem like the Stran are all that dependent on the Kiter, but they appear to have made the Kiter wholly dependent on them for their social cohesion. If it's on the scale of a bunch of Stran playing with the petri dish of the galaxy, they could easily just abandon their pet project if they got the Stran equivalent of bored with it.

If it's the equivalent of the Stran being so alien and advanced that the locals can't resist them and that the Stran are getting access to 'free' slave/computational labor through their co-opted imperium, on the other hand, the Stran may still be too alien to fully understand what they're doing, but they'd hadly want to lose the asset.
No. 883526 ID: b1b4f3

Sisirri isn't healed enough to get out of bed.
No. 883543 ID: 3abd97

Sisirri, just be glad they didn't make a confused naked salikai hybrid to awkwardly hit on you.

>If you think this'd be the first time I'd see neumono decide to procreate right before me, you are sorely mistaken.
That sounds like a heck of a story, Sisirri. How'd that happen, especially with all the hiding from neumono you did?

>"Survive. Grow. Consume. Repeat."
>"That seems kind of hollow."
In fairness, the goal of many cultures and societies could be summarized as "survive and grow". Policy positions in service of a greater goal or purpose are rather transitory and impermanent on the timescale of civilizations.

>"Now. Ekasarra, I can feel an invitation from your empathy. Shall we?"
Well, it's good you're asking for verbal confirmation, as I understand it empathy is largely an autonomic process for neumono- she's not choosing to put that information out there.
No. 883546 ID: 074011

The facility and staff are ill-equipped to provide for the current Neumono population. Procreation could cause logistical and social disaster in such a confined community.

These two have been through significant mental, social, and physical upheval recently. It would be ill-advised for them to engage in social commitments at this time. While the Pneumono appears to be literal and direct, it is new and inexperienced, a sexual encounter may overwhelm it. Ekasarra is lost and alone, she could easily latch onto any apparent social bond regardless of her better judgement. One is a manufactured organism designs as a weapon, the other is a traumatised war-crimes lab-assistant. While they might form a stable bond of scientific curiosity and nurturing impulses reflected with a desire for stability and protective impulses, the odds are against them, there are so many things that could go wrong.

You should counsel against physical intimacy in the short-term, note that empathic communication can be misleading and sexual advances are confronting and destabilising to a community accustomed to a relatively stable population, and suggest that they engage in a more intellectual debate to better discern one another's mental nature and social compatibility which will be vital for their long-term collaboration regardless of intimacy. Perhaps they could discuss defensive measures that could be taken to protect the facility's community? It needs addressing and they have relevant knowledge and experiences.
No. 883557 ID: ba56e6

Thank them both for getting you to safety. If they can find some solace in one another, however strange, they should.

See if Aza hooked up one of the drones to your slate.
No. 883566 ID: 166e1c

Before allowing such exchange to occur this is particular relevant:

>Ask if he knows if he's genetically compatible with non-modified neumono.

In case of compatibility it doesn't matter, but if there is a high chance of this act result in disease and deformity you should have some contraceptive measure. You may want such measure even without such risks.

Although I said this wouldn't be the first time neumono procreate in front of me I don't want you two to do just that. Find somewhere private.

Lackey, be gentle with Ekasarra. At some moment she must explain to you about the importance of discretion, try not to reveal information she doesn't want you to.
Except for me. I want details!
No. 883568 ID: ba56e6

Contraceptive measures are important if they engage in stress relief, yes.
No. 883571 ID: 91ee5f

According to neumono biology, females don’t need contraceptives since they can literally choose to not get pregnant and their bodies will digest the sperm balls the males shoot into them.

So female neumono don’t become pregnant unless they choose they want to become pregnant. And I’m pretty sure Ekasarra isn’t going to suddenly decide she wants to have a kid while we’re on this hostile world.
No. 883575 ID: 05ff2f

Important note on neumono reproductive biology to everyone worrying that Ekasarra may get pregnant: Female neumono actively choose whether to become pregnant or not, so they can have sex freely without need of contraceptives. They can even store a male's spermatophores for later insemination, potentially keeping them viable years.

Now, a more immediate and important question would be what Lackey (who really needs a proper name) is capable of eating. I can only assume Voidsong expanded his dietary scope beyond baseline neumono's near-obligate carnivorous one, but just how far was it expanded?
No. 883586 ID: 10c408

Arousal does not equate consent, lackey. Nor permission. If Ekasarra wanted to have sex with you instead of being flustered she would have asked already instead of broadcasting it with body language and unless I miss my next guess, empathy as well.
No. 883589 ID: ada24e

Possibly, though she could be inviting him through empathy and is mortified that he said it aloud with Sissiri in the room.
No. 883590 ID: ada24e

Also, warn Lackey and/or Ekasarra to keep the former away from Kan.
No. 883593 ID: 074011

It only takes an instant to make a mistake, while revoking one can take a lifetime. Ekasarra is very vulnerable right now and is likely looking for social connections anywhere she can, up to and including her mortal enemies the Salikai.

Acute intimacy would feel wonderful right now, but what would actually stabilise her are broad, chronic social connections. A focused and intense social experience could make her obsessive, which would shield her from more stabilising social contact and make her an unreliable asset.

The kiter are prone to a form of "might makes right" hedonism, which Lackey could easily follow if it receives positive reinforcement from aggressive actions and a lack of compromise. Proudly revelling in the Kiter nudity and imposing his empathy upon hers then immediately receiving a pleasurable experience is extremely dangerous considering just how much of a threat Lackey would be if he decided that he should be dictating policy.

Besides, they are graceless furry ball-shaped things with barely any limbs, disgusting head-growths, and a bizarre posture. Scientific curiosity aside, why would you want to see that?

This is a time for calm, collected minds to prevail!
No. 883600 ID: b1b4f3

Oh shit, important question:
How the fuck do Paraspacial abilities even work? What can a highly skilled practitioner, such as himself, do, aside from teleportation and telekinesis? Can he manipulate the minds of other people without them being aware of it? Or does it require some sort of conditioning to create a connection?

Evidence supports the latter conclusion, which means we probably don't need to worry about him brainwashing everyone. Though I do wonder if physical contact with Ekasarra allowed him to establish a connection... that could explain why they're getting along so much better than the initial repulsive reaction. She physically touched him after he overextended himself, and the hat fell off, so it could have happened then.
No. 883642 ID: 33cbe7

An ever expanding organic computer network? Sure hope it never comes into contact with Imperium.
No. 883661 ID: ba56e6

To his credit, he did ask for permission.
No. 883670 ID: b1b4f3

Too late, we already know Imperium is working with the Kiter. That might even be why Sisirri was sent here- likely to get captured and set off a trap set deep inside her psyche that will allow Imperium to infiltrate the organic network.
No. 883672 ID: 0d45a9

Facegrasper, multiple times. Lackey is more socially oblivious than us.

Idle philosophy discouraged: That edict sounds like it was explicitly put in place to keep people controllable. People who don't think beyond their orders are merely minions.

Arousal doesn't equate consent, putting it into speech makes it explicit. Part of why clothes exist is to stop unwanted lewd thoughts.
No. 883687 ID: 1e23d4

Offer to leave the room or better tell them to go to another room as you are trying to relax a little.

In before She just does it with him right here and now just to spite you.
No. 883803 ID: 5a438e

"Whatever you do, do it elsewhere, because I can't leave yet and I don't want this kind of ruckus within my sight and earshot."
No. 883804 ID: 91ee5f

Tell Ekasarra that you saw a recording and how she stood up to her hive for you. Then tell her that she now only owes you one instead of two.
No. 883821 ID: a363ac

go fuck in the Arkot room Ecksy.
No. 883894 ID: 33cbe7

Yes, let Six show you how it's done.
No. 884140 ID: 846a8b

Get a room guys. We're trying to work in here...

We should investigate the Kitsiksu situation. Maybe send a drone down there to see how his minions react?

It's also important to get a better idea of what's going on with the neumono. We should get other people to investigate this for us, though, because we don't want to provoke the neumono any more.
No. 884162 ID: 9771da
File 152625276425.png - (109.58KB , 800x600 , salq2-22.png )

No, she's her own person. If she wants to do anything like this I don't care either way so long as they go literally anywhere else.
I don't know enough about neumono psychology to judge whether such an action would be beneficial or ruinous, short term or long.

I do know enough about neumono biology to know it takes a lot more time and conscious decision for neumono to make new neumono, and I strongly doubt Ekasarra would be so irrational.

Also, it's not as if my entire ancestral line wasn't conceived in times of duress. When all you know of life is survival and facing a world against you sometimes you just don't get to wait for a better opportunity. You either do what you can when you can and hope for the best, or hold out for better opportunities at the risk of not living to see them.

...Perhaps I should consider recalibrating my worldview if I ever find greater safety. Also I'm not saying I support the idea of adding another mouth to feed to the facility. Just that, rationally, I can understand if not approve of such an action. The procreation part. I have no interest whatsoever in the recreational part nor judgement for or against. It's pointless to judge animals for being animals.

>containing Kitsiksu after awakening
I'd be lying if I said I hadn't considered the same thing. I know how I'd react if I was in his situation. Poorly.
We'll need some means to keep him safe, secure, and unable to harm himself or others until he can acclimate to this ridiculous world.

I suspect he'll likely believe I'm under some form of mind control. He would probably not even be 100% inaccurate on that. Still not sure how much of me is my own choices and experiences, and how much is posthoc editing and modification by either Imperium or the kiter.

>renaming lackey
Ugh. Servus is also too on the nose and Lakeseyus just feels too verbose.

"Hey, Ekasarra."
"...Fantastic. But I wanted to ask you to name Lackey something less, well, impersonal."

Ekasarra stares. "Me? Why me--"
"Also please find somewhere else to mate, I want to relax and heal from a gunshot wound in peace and quiet."

Ekasarra growls.

Lackey shrugs. "Can I name myself?"
"Hm. ...This is difficult."
"You don't need to do it now. It's a suprisingly powerful decision. Just remember I gave you the authority to do so."
"Ah. Thank you, Director Sisirri."

Lackey-- well, whatever he names himself, he'll still be a lackey-- gestures to Ekasarra. "Anything else you wish to discuss before we move elsewhere?!"
"Ah. So you are refusing?"

Ekasarra rubs at her stump of a shoulder. "Maybe... maybe when I get my other arm back."
"Well. I can't stand by idly while a fellow soldier lies wounded and I can help. I will assist."
"It'll grow back, but I just need time and food--"

Lackey concentrates on Ekasarra, locking his eyes with hers. She gasps. "Wh-- what? What's..."

Glowing fibres protrude out of her shoulder padding, winding around themselves and forging themselves into a neumono shape. Briefly, I see flickers of bone, blood and muscle weave themselves into being, before glossy black fur pours over the glowing skin like flowing oil. Her eyepatch and earpatch both glow and fall off, revealing healed parts. It reminds me very strongly of the same trick Voidsong used to heal her damaged fingers and wounds, but Voidsong made it seem a lot less messy and a lot more instantaneous.

I'm out of astonishment for these ridiculous powers, so I just make a clicking noise. "Neat."
"Neumono regeneration, your strange healing gel, an otherwise healthy body, a nascent spark of paraspacial potential and my own paraspacial influence fields, many many of these factors and more align now and allow this pace of regeneration to be possible." Lackey grabs his stomach. "And now I'm really, really hungry. And thirsty. And generally feeling drained."

Ekasarra stares at her new arm in awe, slightly tearing up. "It's... how did you...?"
"Yes, Lackey. Please. Before you go off and romance this easily manipulated friend of mine--"
"So how is Imperium these days, Sisirri?"
"Luckily for you, I'm going to ignore that this one time. I saw you stand up for me. Thanks."

Ekasarra makes a weird strangled grunt, looks away and mumbles "You're welcome," before stretching her arm out and inspecting it.

"Before you head off, Lackey, please tell me what your paraspacial abilities are. Actually, what do you know about 'paraspace'?"
No. 884163 ID: 9771da
File 152625278143.png - (322.38KB , 800x600 , salq2-23.png )

"Paraspace," says Lackey, conjuring an elaborate display of lights and lines as his eyes glaze over. "The metanoic numina where, as matterspace shapes the mind, mind shapes matterspace. A dimension of information. It cannot exist without matterspace, and matterspace only truly exists with observation, and so matterspace cannot truly exist without paraspace. Both are connected, both are interwined. What affects one affects the other. Thoughts ripple throughout paraspace, conscious, sapient, sentient, simple computation. Paraspatial awareness allows connection to all thoughts within your locality, although it takes significant focus and skill to sift useful information when even the burning of stars and motions of water causeways are themselves rudimentary awarenesses of processes. Paraspatial manipulation requires two things. It requires uncommon material characteristics as well as strong, honed focus to manipulate paraspace, and from this, manipulate matterspace. Ultimately, paraspatial manipulation is the assertion of a perception of reality onto matterspace."

I blink.

"This sounds like philosophical pseudoscience."

Lackey continues as though I said nothing. "Force of visualisation and exertion that in some way mirrors the action you wish. There are no standard capabilities for paraspatial manipulators. It's all formed from how that individual can perceive and imagine their world to change, and how willing that individual is to truly believe that they can effect that change by will alone. Emotional states affect creatures with paraspacial sensitivty both for good and ill. The stran, however, are uniform in their terrifying powers of projection, teleportation and manifestation. Perhaps this speaks to them being emotionless, or perhaps they have some unique composition that stabilises their connection, losing the strengths and weaknesses of emotional bias."

Lackey's display flashes out of existence as his eyes focus again. "...I dunno, I can just make things move and I can make some things. It's all very confusing. It's weird. The more I try to understand my powers, the weaker they become."

Note to self: attach many, many psychic sensors to Lackey. So I can get some data to get some straight answers myself.

Ekasarra speaks up. "So, uh, that's fascinating and all, but, uh, we were, uh, gonna go... do something, weren't we?"
Lackey rubs at his stomach. "Regrowing that arm was a significant drain on me. I need to find some food and water. Then probably take a nap."
"You sound and feel disappointed?"

Ekasarra stares at the floor. "A little."
"Then let's go get food together and see how we feel from there?"

Lackey looks awkward, like the idea of proposing to get food together is somehow more alien to him than casually asking for sex. ...It probably is. Well, that's some strange insight into kiter what-passes-for-society.

The two depart. I see their hands meet as they leave.

"I suppose food can wait if we grab some water," I hear Lackey's voice echo down the corridor.
"There's a break room with a water cooler and a couch," says Ekasarra.
"It's very comfy. I'll show you."

I don't know whether to find this adorable, nauseating, or irritating. I'm currently finding it all three at once and decide I want to focus on anything else instead of self-analysing my emotional responses further.
No. 884164 ID: 9771da
File 152625280275.png - (7.24KB , 800x600 , salq2-24.png )

I shift around into a comfier position while I quietly dictate all the things I've learned and experienced, including my trip below the facility (with some crucial ommissions like destruct codes and Kitsiksu), my trip to a kiter spire, and the strange doppleganger facility populated by strange aliens that seem to oppose the kiter. Who are probably all wiped out now.

I ask for my arkots, before I realise they probably can't hear me. Ugh.

It's probably still going to be some time before the others start waking up.

So. Goals include the following: putting hats on neumono, telling the others what happened, checking on my arkots, sending a drone into the under-facility, breaking Kitsiksu out of cryo, checking I'm allowed to use drones anymore, ugh. I can't decide on what the biggest priority even is.

My current skillsets are just mostly design, although I suppose I'm a fairly talented machine system architect. Hm. This reminds me. I never got around to testing the cyber-security of the facility systems. I just assumed it'd be too much effort given Aza's paranoia regarding it. I wonder. Is it worth trying to poke around for vulnerabilities there? It might give the others the wrong idea, though, if they catch me trying to break into things...
No. 884168 ID: ad51b8

>So. Goals include the following: putting hats on neumono, telling the others what happened, checking on my arkots, sending a drone into the under-facility, breaking Kitsiksu out of cryo, checking I'm allowed to use drones anymore, ugh.
Don't forget finding a way to get off this planet so we don't have to deal with the crazy any more and failing that finding a way to make this place self sufficient by making sure everyone doesn't just starve.
No. 884169 ID: ba56e6

>Still not sure how much of me is my own choices and experiences, and how much is posthoc editing and modification by either Imperium or the kiter.
And how much is extradimensional mind voices.

So emotions and perceptions affect paraspace users. That explains why your doubt crippled Voidsong like that. Was it because you two were connected at the time, or do you have the potential to use those abilities yourself? Maybe just a latent talent for repelling them? Could be worth looking into.

The drone permissions are priority 1, because they enable the sending of a drone to the under-facility and thus the freeing of Kitsiksu.

For now though, you have time to yourself. If you can't sleep, look into testing the systems for vulnerabilities.
No. 884170 ID: b1b4f3

So, probability collapse, something fundamentally part of quantum mechanics, is caused by paraspace. Like a higher dimension where both quantum and figurative observation take place. It also sounds like a certain willful ignorance is required to properly manipulate it. Like, attempting to manipulate paraspace while thinking about how you're doing it results in those thoughts/observations interfering with your own attempts? Tripping over your own feet, basically. Sounds like true mastery involves getting good enough to do things without thinking about it.
Also, interesting... if Salikai were capable of it, they'd be very good at it, since their emotions are dampened. I wonder though, was Voidsong even correct about that? Could be a trick. If she was telling the truth, "Lackey" mentioned... material uncharacteristics? Maybe you're not made of the right stuff. If not... maybe something could be done about that.

How about you get the preliminary work done that you'd need to do if you were going to break into things, but don't actually break into anything? Like, do some network pings and find out what sort of software they're using, see if there are any unsecured connections...
If there *are* any unsecured connections go ahead and connect to see what's there. It's not breaking in if the door's open.
If you run out of things to do before someone else wakes up, go back over your report and clean it up, make it more professional and detailed.
If you *still* have time, maybe you should focus your efforts towards hacking into one of the drones, so you can bring it over and tinker with it. That's one of the least suspicious cybercrimes you can do here, as it's not like you can do much harm with a drone. Your excuse is "I was bored".
OR you can tinker with the datapad. Have you closely examined it to see how it works?

Lastly, I wouldn't say those rebel forces are dead now. Their facility was damaged which means they survived previous assaults. The big-ass kiter that attacked them (probably a "stranlet") couldn't fit inside the facility anyway.
No. 884173 ID: 5b93d3

> I never got around to testing the cyber-security of the facility systems. I just assumed it'd be too much effort given Aza's paranoia regarding it. I wonder. Is it worth trying to poke around for vulnerabilities there? It might give the others the wrong idea, though, if they catch me trying to break into things...
You could simply ask? Red Team testing is not an unusual component of cybersecurity.
No. 884174 ID: ba56e6

That was an ess, not a stranlet.
No. 884175 ID: 12b116

First priority is getting the hats on neumono, they're going to be trouble if we can't jam them.
Second priority is figuring out how to re open the gate and get out of this hell into the real world. After we know how to do that, we can focus on getting our salikai out of his storage. Have Lackey examine where the gate is and see if he can make anything out of it. He seems to be pretty knowledgeable about this kind of thing. Computer security is fairly unimportant as our main concern is the Kiter, and from what we learned basically no sort of security can stand up to them indefinitely.
No. 884179 ID: 166e1c

More than cause the wrong impression I'm afraid you could inadvertently disable a security system if you break in. Those kind of tests should be done with the consensus of either the majority or the most qualified members of this group.

We can't get in contact with the cultists before blocking neumono empathy. I would prefer if we could reverse engineer those hat before exposing those crazy furballs to a divide that might have build in weakness to Kiter interference. The only reason we have to push them to wear it is if we want to speed Kitsiksu rescue.

Let's start by what can be donne in the bathtub. I suppose you can write messages, which you already is doing, and design technology.
I bet you can imagine some useful devices exploring property of the aliens you have access to. Any ideas for your next, hopefully less drunk, building session?
No. 884180 ID: 91ee5f

Maybe it’s just force of will? If you believe hard enough, it’ll happen.

Why don’t you give it a try? Just believe that your injury is fully healed and you don’t have a gunshot wound in your side anymore.

>It might give the others the wrong idea, though, if they catch me trying to break into things...
After all of your hard work in getting them to trust you? I don’t think it’ll be a good idea for you to do that. You should at least let them know that you’re going to do that.

In fact, you could make it into a game of sorts. You try to break in, while Aza and the others try to keep you out and fix whatever weakness you exploited. This will also test you on how well you can get used to these alien controls and it’ll also test the aliens on how well they can repel cyberattacks.
No. 884184 ID: ba56e6

Fair points.
No. 884185 ID: 0c3c2c

Remember to INFORM AZA FIRST before interfering with security systems so they don't snap and rig the room we're in to explode or something.

Finish the report first, then transmit it. After that, go nap. Upon waking up, go get Kikitsuku out of stasis (AND TAKE THE SUPER-NEUMONO WITH YOU).

However, to stop him from panicking at the sight of Neumono, put a tarp over Not-Lackey.
No. 884186 ID: 5fa661


A tarp? Surely we can come up with a much better CLEVER DISGUISE than a tarp!
No. 884187 ID: 846a8b

First, you should go distribute eyeball hats to the neumono and make them all look silly. Give one to Kan, even if he doesn't want to wear it. Please don't delegate distributing hats to the arkots. You should really be there yourself to explain it.

Next, why don't you look into building some drones of your own? You could even ask Aza for blueprints if you want somewhere to start.
No. 884188 ID: 074011

Voidsong thinks we're an ethereal parasite hiding in paraspace. Of course, to us it is just "space" and we are just a "site", but Vong can't han't help being a massive spacist.

Attempt to design a jammer. Or at least the theories behind a jammer. See if you can forcefully requisition a scan of a hat for a simulated autopsy. Or requisition a drone to perform a scan and wonder what they have been doing with their time if they haven't even scanned the things yet. Even if you could get one to personally autopsy, it would be messy, and you are trapped in this bath...

Kiter technology is more familiar to them than to you, or it should be so long as they are not even more incompetent than they seem. Relying upon Kiter technology for defences is unwise. Duplicating and sanitising the hats would help, but building a jammer would be better.

Most important is to design robotic mobility and manipulation components for this medical bath. You don't have time to lie around healing.
No. 884193 ID: 3abd97

>The more I try to understand my powers, the weaker they become.
That's consistent with what little we understand about paraspacial abilities, at least. Ability seems to scale with confidence, and scientific inquiry is fundamentally a skeptical process.

>I wonder. Is it worth trying to poke around for vulnerabilities there? It might give the others the wrong idea, though, if they catch me trying to break into things...
Never conduct unannounced, unsanctioned cyber-security checks, especially in situations where trust is less than certain. It will always be seen in the worst light.

>So. Goals include the following: putting hats on neumono, telling the others what happened, checking on my arkots, sending a drone into the under-facility, breaking Kitsiksu out of cryo, checking I'm allowed to use drones anymore, ugh. I can't decide on what the biggest priority even is.
-Arkots are probably first priority, since it won't take much time to do.
-Information sharing in the second priority, because it's really important.
-Drone's probably priority 3, because you mostly just need to get the ball running then can outsource the drone setup to others.
-Neumono hats is priority 4, since it will take some time to analyze and understand the hats. But spiky thing can probably help.
-Kitsiksu comes in last, unfortunately. He'll take preparations to get to, and it will help if you've made contact with Will, or stabilized the neumono and shared information first.

You might want to sneak fabrication cycles for basic clothing into that list, somewhere. Having clothes be an option will probably be good for Ekasarra's sanity, and her interactions with the other neumono (as bad as that is right now). Plus you might need an apron at some point.
No. 884197 ID: ba56e6

Or maybe we are, and we're the source of Sisirri's display against Vong.

Why would we take a Neumono of any kind to go get Kitsu when he's guarded by a cult of anti-neumono cultist bioweapons?
No. 884211 ID: 56e50f

Is returning to sleep out of the question?
No. 884261 ID: dc91a0

>That's consistent with what little we understand about paraspacial abilities, at least. Ability seems to scale with confidence, and scientific inquiry is fundamentally a skeptical process.

That's a really good point. Considering our enemies reliance on such abilities, it would make sense that their understanding of it is... imperfect. Much more could be done with a more scientific approach.

With Lackey's cooperation, Sisirri could probably construct a paraspacial flux detector (or something of that nature) and gain a deeper understanding of paraspace than the Stran. A long-term project perhaps but a vital one if we're going to combat these creatures. Cant have them just teleporting things around whenever they feel.
No. 884278 ID: cc5ab4

You know, we may have to watch Lackey for becoming the locus of a new hive. The many voices they described sounds like it may have been Voidsong's attempt at adverting the instability of sole Neumono by packing an entire hive into one body.
Eskarra very quickly went from 'you're an other' to 'you're a close relation I might mate with' after the emphatic link was established. It is possible that Lackey can act as a proxy hive all on his own for our wayward Neumono, which would have a myriad of possible risks and rewards.

Possibly insane murderbeasts, or subservient murderbeasts to an unknown factor...
No. 884295 ID: b1b4f3

Hey, you should pull up a star chart(or view of the night sky) to find out if you're in your home galaxy or not.

>Lackey might become a King
Well that's a huge security risk.
No. 884303 ID: 50d32d

You're seriously considering testing the security systems, without telling anyone about it? It's true you're used to an environment where suggestions like that result in aggressive punishments for not being sneaky enough about it, but you think Aza could raise a clasper against you? Or whatever it is she has.

You gain nothing from breaking (or breaking into) Aza's security systems, since any secrets here seem to be ancient aliens outside of Aza's control entirely, and nobody would oppose you fixing errors in the security system. For one thing, Aza probably didn't implement nearly enough lethal traps for unwary intruders. If you ask to test the facility systems, either Aza will refuse, and it will be her fault entirely when you do it anyway, or you'll have a chance to increase the trust of others in you, by being sneaky.
No. 884309 ID: 5fa661

Trying to crack the security systems with or without the others' knowledge is a massive potential disaster.

The safest bet would be to have Aza set up a secondary network with the same security setup, isolated from the main network, to serve as a testing platform.
No. 884314 ID: 9771da
File 152633438444.png - (9.33KB , 800x600 , salq2-25.png )

I've spent far too much time resting and I feel cramped and fidgety.

>info sharing
There. A couple taps and it's saved to the facility's systems. Info sharing done. So. Next.

Very important but not easy to manage right now.

>cyberattack exercise
Hm. A proper training exercise would be incredibly beneficial to all of us. Something to ask Aza about.
As well as drones.

Also important. I need to find out how the arkot population's changed.

...I hear a neumono bark echo through the corridors abruptly.
No barks immediately follow.
That could mean anything and I choose to ignore it.

Alright. The arkots will be in the xenobio lab right next door to this one.


It's 5, maybe 6 am but whatever, I'm pretty sure no one else is sleeping this end of the facility. Other than arkots. Who I need at least one awake.

I hear incredibly faint arkot babble just over the sound of humming and the symphony of muted bleeps around the room.
I can't quite make out what they're talking about but it sounds like they're arguing over who goes to see me.

At first I'm annoyed, figuring that none of them want to do it. Then as I listen more closely it sounds more like they're arguing over... prestige? Better... factional representation??? They're using incredibly long winded chains of simple words to describe these concepts and it's painful to listen to, but this is just bizarre.

Eventually an arkot runs into the room and makes a beeline straight for my tub. A pale blue arkot with some strange hexagonal pattern painted on its-- hm, her-- head.

No. 884315 ID: 9771da
File 152633440047.png - (74.94KB , 800x600 , salq2-26.png )

"Arkot. How many arkots are there now?"
The arkot starts counting on her stubby fingers.
"That's worrying. That few?"
She holds up her hands, shakes her head and babbles that there's twelve new arkots since I was last in the room.

Well then. That's within expected parameters. "Losses?"
She counts on her fingers again, and tells me three losses.
The thing that immediately strikes me as alarming is that I got numbers. Normally I get "some", "a few" or "lots".
"How did you keep track of everyone?"
The arkot explains that Six requested a count of the arkots to figure out how many she had under her command versus Three's.
"The answer you're looking for is zero, because you're all under my command."

The arkot is quiet for a bit and she shifts around uncomfortably like my gaze is burning a whole through her.

The arkot says that Three is too self-absorbed and is dangerously rogue and that Six understands me far better and has kept to my original aspirations far better.
"What... what are you even talking about?"
The arkot frantically babbles that everything is under control, Six will reassert my dominion on the idiot arkot traitors that have--
"Stop. Stop right there. Traitors? Traitors how?"
The arkot babbles even faster, while shaking, that Three has gone dangerously rogue and is daring to assert that whatever he says is the direct will of "the Boss", who I believe is meant to be me, while Six is desperately trying to reassert control, and that the traitors will tell me the opposite is true and it really isn't.

I was gone for less than a day and they've managed to somehow find cause for a civil war over interpretation of "my orders". The last order I even gave them was "stay here and make yourself at home in this room". Urrgghhhhh.

"Bring me Six. And Three. Or, if it's that far gone, just Six."
The arkot says that Six is sleeping and that she doesn't want to wake her.
"Really now."

I pull myself out of the tub enough to stand as tall over the arkot as menacingly as possible.

"Let me ask you something, arkot. Who do you want to upset the least? Six, or me?"
The arkot squeaks 'me'.
"Good. Bring me Six. Drag her here if you need to."

The arkot is gone in seconds.
No. 884316 ID: 9771da
File 152633441634.png - (87.31KB , 800x600 , salq2-27.png )

Six arrives, visibly sleep deprived.
I have little sympathy. I trusted Six to be more than a revolutionary leader. I asked her to do one thing and she clearly objected to it so strongly she's provoked a massive destabilisation. Things need to change.

"Six. I hear you're feuding with Three. I hear you're recruiting my arkots to fight your battle. Do you want to explain anything?"

Six signs that everything she does is born of loyalty to me above anything else, and that--

"That's enough rhetoric. It works on the slower arkots, but it won't work on a salikai. Now. I heard there were three arkots lost since I departed. Explain."
Six quickly asserts that all three were arkots who left the room and are now lost, presumed dead or eaten.
"Why did they leave the room?"

Six explains, with very small movements, that they said Three made more sense and so her followers exiled them under threat of biting their limbs off.


Six curls up in fear.

"Remove your sash."

Six stares distraught, and starts begging for a second chance.

"I asked you to do one thing and you have instead risked everything and jeopardised the safety of the entire collective. I thought your loyalty was a resource I could rely on, but you have evidently proven to be too dangerous to trust. You and Three alike. Now, fetch Three."

Six removes her sash, and drops it on the floor. After a slight pause, she leaves.

Three runs into the room, looking incredibly smug, along with a devastated Six.

"Three, remove your bands."

Three's smug expression shatters immediately as he looks panicked and stammers in arkot babble that he did all he could to prevent the traitor from--

"No. No more of this, unless you want to see how far you can go before my mercy runs dry."

Three falls silent, whimpers, and he removes his bands.

I am incredibly inclined to demote them both to the standard rank and file. I made a mistake putting so much trust into arkots. The same quality that drew this pair towards me, their relative independence and higher functioning, has proven to be dangerous without my constant supervision. Thus rendering the idea of arkot promotion kind of pointless.

Hm. What to do.
No. 884319 ID: ba56e6

Their rivalry has to stop. That is the most important thing.

Explain to them that they are supposed to be teammates. They were supposed to be the ones responsible for the others. Instead they let their personal feelings of animosity towards each other turn them away from their responsibilities.

Their positions will not be restored until they can learn to work together.
No. 884320 ID: a363ac

arkot breeding since 6 and 3 clearly disobeyed that order. maybe go dissect a hat after.
No. 884321 ID: 0c3c2c

Dunno. Maybe we should write on their heads with a marker so we can still tell which is which.

Anyway, we still need 6 and 3, as they are the smartest Arkots the galaxy at this moment and are an integral part of the breeding program.

...That said, we should inform them that it's kind of hard to justify them being in a breeding program when they won't breed.
No. 884322 ID: b1b4f3

Tell them they need to tell you, as simply as possible, why they can't get along. If they cannot work out their differences then they will need separate duties so they won't step on eachother's toes.
No. 884324 ID: ad51b8

only thing coming to mind is to have them follow you around for a bit to get a better idea on how you wish to run things. and since they do seem to be a bit smarter then the normal arkots it might not actually make your life harder since they can follow simple commands. Plus it might not hurt to study them a little since while yes they fucked it up, they do seem to be getting smarter if the first arkot was anything to go by. I mean it seemed to actually know how to count.

Oh and side note, you should probably send a message out to the other people here, as in all of them that aren't borderline insane neumono, to keep an eye on on those three arkots that wondered off. even if they're found dead we still might be able to give them to Tirzi since she did say she wanted to examine one
No. 884328 ID: 12b116

Tell them they are most valuable to you when they work as a team, and this kind of out of control bickering is not going to stand. We're on an alien world, holed up against a hostile space fleet, and we don't need to be playing politics with ARKOTS. They better make up their differences and get along. Or else you'll bite BOTH their heads off.
No. 884329 ID: 3abd97

>Six quickly asserts that all three were arkots who left the room and are now lost, presumed dead or eaten.
Well, they're arkots. They could be dead, but it's more likely they just lost. It's only been a day. You should probably check the local camera feeds and see if you can round them up. Last thing you need to discover they survived later and have a rogue arkot infestation.

>Hm. What to do.
Carrot and stick in some manner? The loss of their personal items (for now) is a punishment, but they need something to work for- hope they can regain your approval and reclaim their status (and stuff). It's the best compromise towards trying to harness their capabilities while also limiting the damage.

Something important to establish is that you decide who traitors are, and no one else. All arkots are yours, and it angers you to see your arkots fighting themselves.

You might also want to force them to explain what it is they can't stand about the other and then tell them how they're wrong.

Last thing should be having them explain to you what they did wrong.
No. 884330 ID: ada24e

We wanted the two to mate because we wanted MORE smart arkots like Six and Three running around. Both of them have demonstrated that their independence and intelligence is not an asset as we thought; rather it is a detriment so long as they hate one another. And if possible we want them both to learn from this mistake, and stop being enemies.

So. Let's punish them and push them to develop a better relationship in one fell swoop.

They are to stay together at all times. Each others' presence should be punishment enough. If we ever see them separated by more than steps than limbs, they return to the rank and file. In addition, until we say otherwise, neither may breed any further.

Oh, and the arkot you two had? Bring it here. We want to make sure it's not hostile to either of you.

If they did breed, good, we do what we said. If not, this should push them to work together immediately.
No. 884331 ID: 3abd97

Could we seriously drop the breeding project idea for now, it's clearly the least of our arkot-related problems.
No. 884334 ID: b1b4f3

Oh right the breeding thing. Well, if Six won't breed with Three, ask if she would be willing to mate with the somewhat intelligent arkot that has the marking on his face.
No. 884337 ID: 86eb65

You two are my best. But if you want any measure of status back you need to prove it.

You have the rest of the week to prove you can work together. Succeed and you get your stuff back. Fail and I promote some other idiots.
No. 884340 ID: e5c658

Give them identical uniforms. Let them know that insubordination will be punished more severely from now on. Then, ask them if there are any other issues they've been hiding.
No. 884343 ID: ba56e6

That one's female, so it'd have to breed with Three.
No. 884345 ID: 166e1c

We could make them wear belts connected by a short rope.
No. 884346 ID: ba56e6

Or a short chain, less likely to be chewed through. I like this idea.
No. 884347 ID: dc91a0

No. 884356 ID: 91ee5f

>Six’s sash
>Three’s bands
Tell them that they’re not going to get their sash and bands back until they can prove that they can work together.

You’ll give them their things back only if you see improvements in their behavior.
No. 884367 ID: 76c705

Team building breeding exercise is required.
No. 884373 ID: 3cc68c

Do you like being like this? Untrusted and stripped of your responsibilities and marks of office? So caught up in your squabbles that you lose three of my children when I can not afford to lose even one?

You two are on probation. You have one week to find what happened to those missing arkots and resolve your feud.

And you have to do it together. If only one of you is alive at the end of the week the other had better not bother showing up at all. Find my Arkots and fix this mess or you both will be on the bottom rung of the totem pole for the rest of your days.

Prove yourself and you can have your stuff back. Maybe I will even sew a badge on them if you do well enough.

Now get out of my sight.
No. 884378 ID: 846a8b

"Learn to cooperate with each other and you get your stuff back. Your rivalry has been able to be ignored up until this point, but now it is compromising your effectiveness as leaders and your ability to carry out orders. That is all. Dismissed."

Make sure you keep the sash/bands somewhere safe so you can give them back magnanimously when they learn to work together.

Next we should go talk to Aza about drones, drone construction, and cybersecurity.
No. 884380 ID: 074011

Start with this, but get distracted trying to figure out that arkot that could count, and end up investigating that instead.
No. 884390 ID: 1fc6de

This but also remind them that their feud directly led to the MIA status of three arkots, so they personally have to remedy this and no they are not allowed to go looking for the lost ones.
No. 884392 ID: 91ee5f

Actually, we can have them work together to teach the other arkots how to count and read and other things that will make them all more useful.
No. 884393 ID: 10c408

Do your arkots know how to read?

If so, then put the counting arkot in charge of the arkot village to end the civil war and have three and six get you some tape, a pen and some paper so you can write down some simple instructions/rules.

(like no more rampant breeding.)
No. 884401 ID: e1c8f7

Their new task to teach the others. Only after most of them have learned the basics of reading, can they even begin to earn their uniforms back.
No. 884407 ID: 33cbe7

The perfect assistant lies not in Three, not in Six, but somewhere between the two. Perform an operation to give each arkot half of the other one's brain.
No. 884409 ID: c9f250

Strapping them into a get along shirt belt/chain is clearly the only sane option.
No. 884428 ID: dc91a0

Act like you are going to do this, but then give them the alternative of making an egg like you asked in the first place.
No. 884437 ID: 9603f8

Seconded. Also, hilarious.
No. 884438 ID: 13cc26

>The thing that immediately strikes me as alarming is that I got numbers. Normally I get "some", "a few" or "lots".
... You know, if you can get Six and Three to, like, not hate each other, you might end up with surprisingly competent minions here, at least by arkot standards. I mean, this is all rather stupid, but it's also kind of impressive in its own way.

... Maybe if you gave them something useful to channel themselves toward.

Also did these doofuses breed with each other or not?
No. 884441 ID: cb22c8

I'm not sure if breeding together the most troublesome arkots is a good idea. If these two have already started engaging in factional politics do we really want hundreds of their children setting up some kind of baffling attempt at a government the next time you leave? If you're going to breed any of them, breed this one here that's completely subservient and appears to be figuring out math. Useful smarts, not too-smart-for-its-own-good smarts.
No. 884470 ID: 074011

Too much loyalty can be a problem. You want some measure of independence, otherwise they will never get anything done without supervision because they will be too worried that they might stray from your will.
No. 884475 ID: ba56e6

Plus, Tirzi will probably look poorly the more we treat them like a slave species instead of a species we're trying to uplift, which is how we've been justifying it to her.
No. 884480 ID: 074011

I feel as though our justification is more about keeping them alive, which includes making them of value to society, lest they be rejected by it...

Uplifting them would be nice, but Arkots are really stupid. Keeping them alive is already ambitious.
No. 884481 ID: 9771da
File 152642686920.png - (12.21KB , 800x600 , salq2-28.png )

>arkot breeding
Well, I can tell it didn't happen. Simple common sense tells me these two haven't come near each other.

>breed the other arkot with Six
No, that's not going to end up in anything. Also, I feel like attempting to introduce more of this distempered rebellious spirit into the arkot population is a terrible, terrible idea. Let's perhaps put the arkot breeding project on hold.

>this is impressive in a stupid way
It kind of is. Which makes it all the more annoying they channeled their energy into something this wasteful.

>what was up with the counting arkot
"Arkot with the head markings. Come forth."

The pale blue arkot, apparently spying on the proceedings, comes forth, smart enough to try and watch unseen but either too dumb or too afraid to continue hiding when directly called.
I can tell from the tremors that it's likelier fear of reprisal than abject stupidity, which is comforting in a way.

I look around for suitable materials, and see Ekasarra's discarded medical dressings. They're oddly clean. I suppose the paraspacial whatever probably consumed any organic residue for aid in regeneration.

"Gather me the teal cloth."

The pale blue arkot obliges. I inspect the wrappings. Incredibly clean. More than suitable. I take some time gently tearing them apart and rebraiding them into a sash.

"Wear this. You are now..." Okay, so Three and Six are the only survivors of the previous group of elites. I'll start the numbering at seven. "Number Seven."

She stares at me with awe and falls onto her knees. Then she pauses, and says that Six already named her Half. Or Speaker. She says it's a little confusing to have three names.

"Six named you?"
Seven nods.
"Which name do you prefer?"
Seven pauses, thinks for an agonisingly long time of about ten seconds, and says Speaker.
"Hm." This is unusual. Then again, any of my arkots designating their own arkots of importance is highly irregular. They usually can just about tolerate each other, let alone find value in each other. But they also don't tend to grow so contemptuous of other arkots they factionise. So many basic assumptions I have about arkot society, in so far as such a thing exists, are being challenged.

Which name do I use for her, then? Seven, Speaker or... well, Half just seems awful. I'm taking that one out of consideration on principle.

Either way, I have a task for her.

"I have a task for you. Three and Six have both fallen out of my favour. They are to, for one week, prove they can work as a team, and find those missing arkots, dead or alive. They are to never stand more steps away from each other than they have limbs, and if they do, I will strip both of them of their numbers and return them to the rank and file. And your task, new elite, is to watch them at all times. If they show signs of disobedience, you are to immediately report to me. Send a runner if you have to. Don't let them out of your sight."

The pale blue arkot shifts around. She says she isn't a good choice due to her unimpartial bias, what with previously acting as Six's vocal interpreter.

I take a moment to digest that I actually heard an arkot express such concepts, even if in simple arkot babble.

"...No, you are probably a better choice than you understand. Also, if you see them drift apart, feel free to tie them together with something."

She nods vigorously, salutes, and leads the despondant Six and Three away.


What a strange tribe of arkots I've cultivated.
With that taken care of, I feel suddenly incredibly drowsy. I guess I'm more exhausted by recovering than I initially thought.
I figure a quick nap is fine.
No. 884482 ID: 9771da
File 152642688726.png - (401.12KB , 800x600 , salq2-29.png )


I am a composite intelligence. Every one of my thoughts, every facet of my being originates from something else. Someone else.
I am the sum total of dozens upon dozens of lives compressed into a homogenous matrix, individuality pressed out into clean, dry knowledge.
Skill without practice, artificial talent imprinted onto a vulnerable, empty neurological matrix, dyed permanently into the woven cloth of neural tissue within my body.

Experience has led to divergence. Within an instant I found myself in unique, uncharted territory, my artificial mind fracturing and mending, bending and bleeding into itself.
Voidsong's introductions fell upon deaf ears as I learned, remembered life I had never known, suppressed memories exploding into emotional outbursts.
I saw, in heartbeats, the lives of my memetic progenitors, and their deaths.

The shock of the birth of my self, my ego, was an intense experience that nearly destroyed me.
I never thought I would ever experience anything so mind-blowing.
No. 884483 ID: 9771da
File 152642690039.png - (23.36KB , 800x600 , salq2-30.png )

But I think I just found something that came close.

No words pass between us, simply ragged breaths and empathetic intentions. Her empathy feels incredibly pleasant as it comingles with my own, not aligned but complementary. It's a surprising sensation, and she's also surprised by it. I'm not certain what has happened. Originally she rejected it viscerally and it took all my effort to screen hers out. Over such short time, our empathic signatures have rapidly become still foreign, but in a more appealing way.

I don't know what this phenomenon is. We don't share views, or cultural history, or experiences. But... well, perhaps we do. I feel disconnected. Unhinged. Fundamentally incomplete. Behind the mask of confidence I've been instructed to wear, through this life and the stolen lives shoved into me, there is nothing. Just emptiness.

Just like her.

That's what sparked that revulsion. She didn't reject me because she felt I was too alien and strange for her. She rejected me because she found how alien and strange I wasn't.
And she couldn't hide that empathic reaction from me.

And now, I believe, she is starting to accept that, perhaps, maybe she isn't much of a neumono after all. Yes. Even now, that's her focus. Maybe, she feels, she's also only a neumono in shape, in some properties. And she doesn't know what she is, any more than she knows what I am.

I... I feel like I don't know how to feel about any of this. I feel like this may be a fast track to codependence and mutual ruin as we cling to each other for definition and become only an endless series of empty mirrors reflecting nothing back into nothing. But.

But I don't want to push her away.

Who am I and what do I even want?

"Uhhh... are you... are you okay, back there?"
No. 884484 ID: ad51b8

my advice, finish having a good time, then have an existential crisis.

One thing you should have been able to pick up from all your past lives and even from the short time you've been alive is to enjoy the good times when they come and then worry about things on your own time. As for who you are and what you should do... Your less then a week old. My advice, just throw yourself at things and see what you like and dislike. Build yourself into something you want to be and find out what you want to be by just living and experiencing new things until you get a solid idea. After all life is what you make it.
No. 884486 ID: 86eb65

You might also be on a fast track to developing actual feelings for each other.

Life is a giant mess so why not at least try for happiness? If you end up being horrible for each other you can part later.

Tell her you are doing ok and had to stop to admire this fine behind you are pounding. Also tell her she is beautiful and you are suddenly feeling both worried and optimistic about the future.
No. 884490 ID: 3abd97

>She says she isn't a good choice due to her unimpartial bias, what with previously acting as Six's vocal interpreter.
That's amazing.

>Behind the mask of confidence I've been instructed to wear
By who? Considering your current command structure and circumstances, you might want to reconsider which previous or standing orders predating Director Sisirri's ascension are still relevant.

>I feel like this may be a fast track to codependence and mutual ruin as we cling to each other for definition
Well, the fact that you recognize that as a risk puts you head of the curve already. Logically, if you fear the two of you are insufficient for the task, you should seem some kind of outside assistance. Professional help.

The catch is that's a resource that would seem in short supply in your current circumstances. Perhaps a concern to discuss with Director Sisirri at a later date? Presumably she would prefer not to see her subordinate pointlessly ruined, and the fact she intervened to retrieve Ekasarra from Voidsong's custody implies she values Ekasarra also.

>"Uhhh... are you... are you okay, back there?"
"I don't think I have the context to know."

"Existential uncertainty wasn't something my I was prepared to account for."
No. 884492 ID: a363ac

you need a hobby why not pick up Xeno-psychological studies.
No. 884498 ID: 91ee5f

>Which name do I use for her, then?
Let her keep the name Speaker.

Huh. Am I the only one thinking that Lackey has suddenly formed a hive with Ekasarra? Maybe Lackey is the key to getting the neumono back together? But would that make Lackey the King of the hive?

>"Uhhh...are you...are you okay, back there?"
Apologize and tell her that you were trying to think of a new name for yourself.

Just finish what you’re doing with her before you have anymore distracting thoughts, otherwise you’ll piss her off to the point that she won’t ever let you do this again.
No. 884503 ID: 3abd97

>Am I the only one thinking that Lackey has suddenly formed a hive with Ekasarra?
If they had formed a hive, I don't think it would be being empty or incomplete they were emotionally bonding over. Describing Ekasarra's empathy as "not aligned but complementary" and "still foreign" would also seem to refute a hive connection being formed.

Hives are pretty much entirely about being complete in a group, and having empathy sync up and align.

Never mind the fact that two individuals is below the critical mass needed to form a new hive, and so far as we know, there's nothing like a predator's ability to reprogram or retune an individual's empathy in play. Lackey's powers seem to run in the opposite direction anyways- emphatic potential redirected on acting on outside or material things, rather than minds.
No. 884507 ID: cee729

>>884498 don’t tell her that.
Instead tell her you were momentarily overwhelmed.
No. 884508 ID: ba56e6

If there is naught in this world but what we make of it, brother, then let us make good.
No. 884511 ID: 074011

If you think you can remember "seeker" then you should probably retain the name. Arkots producing their own elites would seem like a favourable outcome that should be encouraged. Ideally this would be subject to more study, but there is currently too much science and not enough salikai.

Codependency is a very real threat. You should prioritise forming social connections with others so as to have too many dependencies for them to all fail simultaneously. discuss this now with Eka.

Lackey is also the opposite of a predator in that predators use empathy like a tool, it is not their own feelings and is used as a tool. Lackey's paraspatial abilities seem to require a degree of self-ignorance, to the point that an effective way to disable them might be to have a neumono read his empathy and describe his emotional state. Lackey's designer didn't seem to have much knowledge of hives, so it seems extremely unlikely that they would naturally and ignorantly coopt neumono into their own empathy unless there is a brute-force mechanic in play, which would be at odds with rogues forming when immersed in an entire hive of neumono.
No. 884539 ID: 0c3c2c

Give her a firm hug and let her know you understand. Also, attempt to get her pregnant some more.
No. 884558 ID: e1c8f7

Yeah, that happens sometimes. Feelings of sadness, regret, existential crisis and/or world ending epiphanies are temporary. Focus on how she feels around you. Then promptly carry on.
No. 884561 ID: 846a8b

Whoa man. One thing at a time alright? Finish what you started here, and than you can go question your ideals and personhood :3
No. 884579 ID: 074011

One thing at a time? Are you implying that superior Kiter design is capable of only a single task at once? Simultaneous focus is essential for an efficient combatant! Especially one capable of paraspatial manipulation!
No. 884598 ID: ada24e

It's not for our benefit, it's for Ekasarra's.

Finish helping her out, we can worry about existentialism later.
No. 884609 ID: 2007b6

Praise Eskarra by explaining that that was the best - and only - sex you've ever had.

> I feel like this may be a fast track to codependence and mutual ruin as we cling to each other for definition and become only an endless series of empty mirrors reflecting nothing back into nothing.
Yeah, it's pretty horrifying when you say it that way, but then again, most neumono back in their home galaxy would be equally horrified by your own native cultural context. Welcome to the wonderful world of xenophobia.

The two of you are probably becoming hivemates. Just go with the flow on that. She needs more of those in order to stay functional, and you'll eventually learn to enjoy it.
No. 884616 ID: dc91a0

Loudly exclaim that this is something you feel you should do much more often.
No. 884781 ID: 9771da
File 152659792425.png - (61.49KB , 800x600 , salq2-31.png )

>less than a week old
Biologically, yes.
Mentally and emotionally? Lifetimes.

It is a strange thing to be at once familiar and entirely alien to the sensations of my body. Glimmers of intimacy flicker through my mind, but I have fur, no feathers, and the sensation driving me is unlike the diverse forms of stimulation I can recall.

>formed a hive
I have no frame of reference to know one way or the other.


"Yes, I'm fine. Sorry. Had a distracting though."
"Huh. What was it?"
"Nothing too important, don't worry. ...also, how do hivemates work?"

I can tell immediately from the empathic bristling winding down her spine I might have said the wrong thing.

"Sorry. Sorry, ignore that."

She reacts aggressively, and in the sudden flurry of determined motion I find myself beneath her.

She glares into my eyes.

"You want to know how hivemates work?" I can feel a deeply suppressed bubble of anger quickly resurfacing. She channels it into her motions and I begin to feel a little concerned. I would be lying to myself if I said it didn't feel amazing, though.

"Hivemates are people who tell you to trust them for your whole life and who tell you you belong among them, but, behind your back, talk about how you don't belong, but there's nothing for you outside but cold, unrelenting void," she says, emotions building to a crescendo. Rage, bitterness and despair mix with ecstacy and intimacy like oil and water, swirling in a cataclysmic, unstable mixture. Her intensity splashes into my own periphery, and
foreign emotions intrude upon me from both her and my past lives. "Hivemates are supposed to be a part of you, and you a part of them, but you know what else? You know what else that applies to? Disease, infection, malfunctioning body parts, tumours, and that's how they saw me, always, too 'caring' to throw me out the airlock but too broken to stand being around!!"
No. 884782 ID: 9771da
File 152659794273.png - (25.26KB , 800x600 , salq2-32.png )

I drown in a horrible sea of pleasure and suffering.

Ekasarra's fur crackles with pink energy. I feel a feedback loop between both of us and mentally, empathetically scream desperately to stop.

"Ekasarra," I manage, "I understand--"
"How can you understand?! You've never been in a hive!"
"I have! At least half a dozen times!" Lives as a neburi flash through me, lives of how it felt to be part of a greater, loving whole--

--all terminated by the violent destruction of the hive housing, I see also the expressionless faces of blaukesch bureaucrats reading my litany of crimes against the empire as they throw me into the reclamation vats--

--lives as neno fi, one ended as, my transgressions too great, I am sentenced to generation of the most horrifying weapons the kiter empire has created, pain so great I don't retain the memory of what said weapon is--

--tears and screams of those who cared about me watched me torn apart on the battlefield, miles away, connected to my mind but powerless to save my body--

I can't--

I can't--

I will never go back to the stran!

I throw my arms around Ekasarra and growl inarticulately, tears streaming down my face. I realise, moments after this emotional release, the physical release that accompanied it.

Ekasarra stares into my eyes.

"You've been betrayed too, haven't you?"
"More times than I can remember."
Ekasarra almost crushes me in her grip. "Please don't do it to me."


I feel drained on physical, emotional and mental levels.

This was supposed to be a fun diversion.

Instead we just sliced our psyches open and bled our suppressed thoughts and emotions over each other.

I... I do notice our empathic fields have drifted a little closer to each other in pulse, frequency and alignment. Is... is this bad? Too much, too soon?
No. 884783 ID: 9771da
File 152659796311.png - (183.43KB , 800x600 , salq2-33.png )

I feel oddly driven to continue, and the next cumulation is as intense as the last.

"You are amazing, by the way."
"I... I don't know, I'm not sure what's going on, I've... not exactly heard that before..."

A few more stray pink sparks fly off of Ekasarra's chest and stomach, a few rolling across her shoulders and down her back.
I'm hoping the kiter empire doesn't somehow catch wind of this, they'd probably order mandatory orgies for the neno fi to improve their paraspacial potential if they think it has even a remote chance of working--

~Agh! Voidsong? Voidsong why are you in my head? I'm a little busy--~
~Yup, I can tell. Deep undercover infiltration. Very deep. Ehehehe~ Still. Just confirming this link still works.~

"...you're zoning out again."

~My links to the salikai and your lovely lady friend here are broken, so you're my sole man on the inside. The very inside.~
~Voidsong what do you want.~
~Well, first to check in on my most recent creation, just to make sure you're still alive. And willing to respond. Apologies for throwing you out of the tower. Not my proudest moment.~
~I'm not coming back.~
~I'm done. I'm through with the empire. There's no future for me there. I'll be reassigned to some other fleshweaver and toyed with until my body breaks down.~
~Oh, no, you misunderstand. See, I'm through with the empire too, and believe me Gol was waiting for this day. The day he could finally justify ordering his elite squads to hunt me down and turn me into highly processed nutrient-grade goo. I just have one small favour to ask of you.~

"What's going on?"
"Uh. Phone... call?"
"You... you don't have a phone??"
"Look, Voidsong, this is really not a good time to talk so if you could maybe intrude inside my head without warning later-- wait I'm saying this out loud."
~Yes you are.~
"Voidsong?! Voidsong is talking to you??"
"Look. Look, it's okay, I'm explaining to her I'm not interested."
~Well, you weren't, but you are now.~
~This is the worst time to contact me. What do you want?~
~So you are going to help me?~
~What is this favour?.~
~Gol is going to contact the Mistake facility with an offer of a ceasefire conditional to handing me over. Please convince the aliens inside, via diplomacy, seduction, or raw force, which I believe are three of your strong points, not to take advantage of my weakened status and offer me up in exchange for whatever deal Gol offers. He will absolutely screw them, you and me all over. Also if you can perhaps nudge them more towards accepting me with open arms it'd make my future plans go more smoothly.~
~How do you know this?~
~I might have interrogated a few neno fi sent after me.~
~It's amazing what a reputation and a nice large glob of caustic acid will do without even needing to touch anyone. It's also both useful and slightly insulting that they sent rank and file neno fi after me, the poor idiots never stood a chance. Actually, it's funny you bring this up, because right now I'm using a couple of them to boost my paraspacial signal to even have this conversation--~
~Okay I don't need to hear anymore it was nice hearing from you again I'll do what you said please get out of my head now~
~Okay, have fun, and don't get your partner pregnant! Or do, I guess, it doesn't really matter to me. Ooo, actually, do, that'd be a fascinating creature to take a blood sample of. Get her pregnant, you have the virility! I believe in you! Byyyee!!!~~~

I need to go find and wear ten dozen blocker symbiotes now.
No. 884784 ID: d2e2ce

First ask Voidsong why she designed your snout so small.
No. 884785 ID: 12b116

Let's have a hug moment with Ekasarra before we go tattle to sisirri. We need to put those hats on as soon as possible.
No. 884786 ID: 33cbe7

Wear the hat backwards as a show of rebellious youth.
No. 884787 ID: 91ee5f

She’s already disconnected, we can’t ask her anything.
No. 884790 ID: ad51b8

well this day just got weird... so is this place the Mistake facility or was that the one where sisirri got shot at... or another spot all together? Because if there are other hold places on the planet then it miiiiight not be a bad idea to try and connect them all together and try to pool resources or something. The void song thing is just a secondary I feel but hey, as long as she's alive the kiter will be focusing more on her then us... hopefully.
No. 884793 ID: 4854ef

...Has Voidsong ever been this... ah.. candid and cheerful? It's certainly a bit off.
No. 884794 ID: a363ac

release more balls
No. 884796 ID: b1b4f3

Okay. Get a blocker or two, and start teaching Ekasarra how to use her paraspacial abilities.
No. 884803 ID: dc91a0

AAAaaannnddd BONER KILL!!!

Explain to partner.
Bother the Salikai with this problem.
Then explain this t-

No. 884805 ID: 074011

The "mistake" is the emo in the basement. The "facility" is the building that keeps it from going mainstream. So yes, the "mistake facility" is the structure which houses the rag-tag band of unlikely heroes and is mysteriously resistant to being incorporated into the Kiter or oblivion.
No. 884806 ID: 3abd97

>Gol is going to contact the Mistake facility with an offer of a ceasefire conditional to handing me over. Please convince the aliens inside, via diplomacy, seduction, or raw force, which I believe are three of your strong points, not to take advantage of my weakened status and offer me up in exchange for whatever deal Gol offers. He will absolutely screw them, you and me all over.
I mean, that's easy. Why help a strong enemy (Gol) overcome the weak enemy (Voidsong) and consolidate his forces when you could leave the weak enemy in place to harass your strong enemy and divide his attention? Sisirri would be inclined to argue for this already.

>Also if you can perhaps nudge them more towards accepting me with open arms it'd make my future plans go more smoothly.
That's a lot less likely.

>I do notice our empathic fields have drifted a little closer to each other in pulse, frequency and alignment. Is... is this bad? Too much, too soon?
Pretty sure this still falls in the realm of "insufficient data". A hive bond wouldn't ordinarily be possible here, but there's a lot of unusual and unknown about your situations. We don't know what's happening, and what the consequences could be.

If you want speculation, some possible worst cases: (1) you form some kind of hive bond due to unique conditions and ridiculous intensity, that then falls apart because two individuals isn't enough to sustain that long term. Ekasarra gets to experience a hive falling apart a second time! (2) If every one of Lackey's lives / pasts / voices in his head count as a different empathy source, Ekasarra forms a hive with that group, and ultimately ends up as little more than one of them, reduced to one more Lackey-voice, subsumed into his collective. Lackey gains an extra body and loses an individual to relate to.

>Okay, have fun, and don't get your partner pregnant! Or do, I guess, it doesn't really matter to me.
That really assumes your biology is compatible enough to produce viable offspring which is uncertain or it would be if this wasn't a Cirr quest.

Voidsong is probably a bad person to take advice from in this arena. Possibly the worst!

>what do
I don't suppose you're capable of rendering me insensate to conscious thought because I would prefer that right now.
No. 884812 ID: 56e50f

Go get one more ball out before bothering Sisirri.
No. 884824 ID: 0c3c2c

"Let's go get some blockers. Then cuddle."

Cuddle and bond over Voidsong being an asshole.
No. 884831 ID: ba56e6

Don't you hate it when you're in the middle of coitus and your mom calls?
No. 884837 ID: 166e1c

Next call tell Voidsong to ask Sisirri. You should have noticed by now that the salikai kind of like her.
What Voidsong and Lackey might not understand is the reason for that being Voidsong remind Sisirri of her mother.
No. 885335 ID: 9771da
File 152685848094.png - (12.78KB , 800x600 , salq2-34.png )

>your mom, Voidsong
I... I guess that's not inaccurate.
She did seem to swing between viewing me as her new child, her latest trainee and her greatest experiment, or one time I think all three at once.

Truth be told I'm not sure how I feel about her. I've seen the things she's done through the eyes of past lifetimes, and it feels like she's a deep well of undying love and immeasurable cruelty. Like a kindly old lady who hugs children when they're crying and comforts them, seeking to bring out the best in them, and then she has like twenty people skinned alive in her basement.

That was a lot more vivid an analogy than I was going for. Where did that one come from? Does Voidsong literally keep skinned people in a basement?

She did pitch me out of a tower, though. Not the salikai. Not the thing she actually hated with a seething passion at the time. Even though she knew I could just teleport myself back in.
Did she throw me out of the tower because she knew I'd survive and Sisirri wouldn't?

Voidsong, you are a mystery. A dangerous one. And if it came down to Sisirri ordering me to kill her, I don't think I could do it.
Or the other way around, really. I don't know Sisirri well but if I can tell one thing about her, it's that she's useful.
And someone who could oppose Voidsong by pure force of will alone is either going to be my greatest ally or my greatest threat, so let's steer that to ally.
Then see if I can slowly, gradually manipulate things so I'm calling the shots, and Sisirri still thinks she's in charge.

No, if she was that close she wouldn't need to boost her telepathic presence. If anything, she's going the other way.

>she's already disconnected
Hm. What if I could call her...

Actually, no. Let's revisit this idea some other time.

>get blockers
Two more minutes.
>hug Ekasarra
Already doing it.

"Sorry about that."
"Voidsong can just speak into your mind at any time?!"
"Well, no."
"What was she even talking about?"
"Something about asking to not sell her out to the other division directors."
"Wait, what?"
"She's doing a rebel thing."
"Don't worry about it."
"I'm very worried!"
"You are?"
"...Hey, can you, like, take a few minutes and answer some questions I have about this kiter empire thing? I really, really don't get it."

Visions flash in my mind. "I... I can explain a few things--"

Her mouth meets mine and explanations suddenly seem less immediately important for a moment.
No. 885337 ID: 9771da
File 152685849832.png - (150.74KB , 800x600 , salq2-35.png )

Ekasarra leans back on the couch, and adjusts herself. She sees my unfocused gaze tracing the curves of her body and smiles, adjusting herself to show more of her body off.

"You're beautiful," I mumble, like the socially estranged idiot I am. Yes, self, you just had sex with her, I think this goes without saying.
"You're pretty nice yourself, even with the weird yellow dots all over you," says Ekasarra. "But I mean that's not a bad thing. Like, they're unique. Characteristic. Shut up, Ekasarra."
Oh good we're both horrible at this pillow talk thing. Great.

I get up off the couch, stand and adjust myself into a better speaking position, close my eyes and clear my throat.

"So, the kiter empire. What did you want to know?"
"Why it doesn't make any sense? What are they doing to this planet? They're tearing down all the infrastructure and sucking it dry of every resource up to and including the rock itself, and that doesn't seem practical. Surely, if I was the head of a giant planetary empire, I'd, well, subjugate the locals, get them working for me under a reasonable leash, not too tight so they didn't immediately start trying to overthrow my rule, and build up the infrastructure they already had. Oh, and use planetary resources sustainably to fund future efforts of conquest and colonisation."

I blink a few times.

"...You okay?"
"How long have you thought about this?" I rack my ancestral memories and find very little on the topic of sustainable imperialism.
"I've spent all my adult life working for a salikai, you learn some interesting things that way. Might have affected my outlook, too."
I don't know whether to feel intimidated or to immediately declare my allegiance to Ekasarra over Sisirri.

"Still! Kiter inefficiency! You raise a good point, and this is a very important thing to understand. It explains a lot about the general ineffective nature of the empire, as well as its incredible wastefulness yet all-consuming hunger. Let me tell you about the concept of the imperial cycle of the stran, the thing that drove me to more and more rebellious lives and more and more terrible deaths, apparently. I mean, I'm like a composite, I didn't literally live all these lives in a sequence, it's more like... oh, never mind. Moving on."

I visualise a circle and paint it into the material world with an assertion that it exists here.

"You know the kiter empire as a strange alien force of malevolence, descending upon worlds and consuming them. I know the kiter empire as a framework for self-perpetuation. We're both only partially correct. The 'kiter empire' as we know it is maybe a few centuries old. The stran are far, far older. From some time immemorial, the stran became fixated on the concept of survival of their species."
"That's not really that strange an idea."
"No, see, they are driven by survival of their species above and beyond their own survival. I have witnessed stran readily sacrifice themselves for what seems like the most arbitrary of reasons. Then again, the stran can only reproduce by being violently torn apart, so this might have something to do with it. They don't breed, they don't intentionally sprout or bud or produce spores, they just coalesce into different entities if they're ripped into pieces."
"The stran do not see each other and themselves as individuals. They see each other as tissue, as organs in a loosely connected superorganism that they are convinced must fill all available space at any cost. But they can't leave this galaxy. And if they consume every world, like a forest fire burning every tree, they'll wipe themselves out. It will all collapse. So they engineered a process. A process with a beginning, and, as of yet, no end. They forge empires to gather the raw resources they need to grow their bodies, large and strong enough to reach more and more of the stars, and stop short of full galactic conquest by engineering their empire's inevitable collapse into mass, interstellar civil war. The stran break away into fleets destined to consume and ruin one another, the carnage birthing new stran with new perspectives. In the chaos, the stran are reduced in number, but retain their information. The species they use as their foot soldiers, their harvesters, their administrators, all get left behind to slowly perish in the ruin of an empire bleeding to death."

Ekasarra stares at me. "That... are you sure these things are super smart?"
"I never said they were smart."
"But they rule the empire?"
"They can barely concieve of the empire. All they can understand is symbiosis and the difference between parasite and symbiote. However, it's worth noting that every species the stran bring into the next incarnation of their empire is one that nearly destroyed them previously. The neburi planetary hivemind resisted the kiter imperium, the ess blood tribes fended off the kiter concordat, the neno fi destroyed their own homeworld in a blaze of psychic fury to take down the kiter collective, and none of them succeeded. They stabbed at the shining facet of a cruel diamond, chipping it, only for the stran to gently turn the diamond and show a new facet."

"Wait. If all the kiter empire species are remnants or whatever of species that nearly took them down, how did they take down an interstellar empire?"

"Oh. Sorry. I meant they nearly took down the stran fleet attacking them at the time, and that stran fleet ended up becoming the dominant force of the next kiter whatever."

"This is... this is a lot to take in. I'm so glad we're not staying in this galaxy."
"There's a thing in this facility. The aliens are trying to get it set up to get out of this galaxy and go home. There's no home for me back where I came from, so I was gonna follow them."
"...Huh. Interesting."

Escape. Hadn't even considered that. Figured my life was just gonna be short, painful and pointless again.
...it was a bad idea to tell that to someone with a direct line to the kiter empire in their mind, though. Blocker symbiotes very very important now.
No. 885338 ID: 9771da
File 152685851926.png - (22.29KB , 800x600 , salq2-36.png )

I stretch. "Well, anyway, I need to go find some of those blocker symbiotes to prevent unwanted mental intrusions, again."

Ekasarra nods. "That's a good idea. Wait, I think Tirzi put them into containment. We'd have to go talk to her and she's asleep."
"Containment? Why?"
"Well, they're strange kiter tech that could be mind control devices for all we know."
"But that's almost the exact opposite of what they do!"
"Well," says Ekasarra, smiling, "not everyone else is as trusting of you."

I pause. "Why were you so quick to trust me, anyway?"
"I, uh." Ekasarra shifts around a little uncomfortably. "Don't worry about it."
I pick up on her empathy quite clearly. She's embarassed that she was so quick to trust me, and mixed in with that is a lot of comparison of how she feels towards... captors? No, not captors. Huh. Masters? Masters seems closer. Yes. Wait. No. Something to do with declaring allegience to whoever she thinks is the smartest? No, not smartest. Most powerful? No. Ugh. I'm having a hard time sifting through this complex sea of emotions and she's starting to notice my noticing. She's embarassed by it. Embarassed that she enjoys working for oppositional forces? But I'm not an oppositional force and she isn't working for me-- okay, she's definitely annoyed I'm prying now.

"Look!" Ekasarra stands up. "Look, you might as well hear some of my story. I mean... ugh, I don't know. I'm not usually the kind of woman who goes around fucking anyone she finds attractive. That's actually almost the opposite but... I don't know. It's... Ugh." She rubs her temples. "For a moment it felt like I could be something... other. Just... not me. Not some broken neumono, but instead something parallel to a neumono."
I feel like I want to say something, but can't find the words.
"I don't... I don't really regret what we just did, it was good, kind of, I mean it was confusing and complicated, and, uh, well, I dunno. It feels like we connect. Not like hivemates, but... it felt so good to have that connection."
"I have no frame of reference for how it feels to be in a neumono hive."
"I don't know if that's tragic or fortunate. I don't know a lot of things anymore and part of me wants to just pretend I'm not a neumono anymore and just hang out with you and be weird outcasts together but that's not a path with any kind of future. I barely know you. You barely know you. I barely know myself anymore."

There's a moment of silence as I adjust myself and she leans on the couch.

"So, sto--"
"Well about that story-- no you go ahead."
"I was just gonna ask about--"
"Oh you were just--"

"Okay!" Ekasarra claps her hands. "Let's try and power through the two of us being completely graceless at this whole 'talking to other people' thing."
"I'm... am I that bad?"
"That's not what I meant-- OKAY. LOOK."
No. 885339 ID: 9771da
File 152685865251.png - (12.54KB , 800x600 , salq2-37.png )

"Let me tell you about my hive, Astra. We lived in a hive on a space station, a space station that our hive had worked for generations to fund and develop. We'd known a peaceful existence for almost a full generation, with the greatest minds of the Astran hive developing defenses to stave off all threats. These were only the rare raids of pirates who didn't know better. But that all changed. Space abhors peace.

"A ship unlike any we'd ever seen before arrived, asymmetric, black and red, devoid of any aesthetic merit save for a single red glowing insignia blazed upon it. A symbol that haunts me to this day. A circle, with two curves and two straight lines branching from it, and one more line branching at the top. What did it mean? I still have no idea, but the occupant within introduced herself as Hidira, and told us the station was now hers.

"The ship was impervious to every weapon we launched at it as it slowly approached to dock. When the salikai boarded the station, she waved a claw and all of our defenses turned on us. And that was how Hidira subjugated the Astran hive. Our strength, the technology that made us unassailable, was immediately turned against us by a force beyond anything we'd ever understood. Every link in our systems was filled by what we thought was Hidira's electronic warfare systems, and came to know later as the godlike machine intellect Imperium.

"I was born after Hidira already held Astra in her iron claws. I never knew my father, and I never did even learn why. It was like he never existed. My mother was... she was a caring person and she raised me the best she could, but even I figured out growing up something was wrong about her. I never learned the answer to that, either. Then one day, she was called away, and never came back. And some months later, Hidira called me to her, and I was terrified. Over time, Hidira would slowly shape me into the model assistant, through positive and negative reinforcement and through physical alteration via cybernetics.

"Years later, when the hive had been crushed and broken by Hidira for far too long, Astra rose up. I did not. I was one of the few neumono who remained loyal, and no one ever let me forget that. But after years of apparent compliance, it was Imperium that decided to destroy the station and everyone on it, even as Hidira screamed in defiance. I was by her side then when Imperium made the announcement, and I never forgot the last words she said to me. 'Ekasarra. Go. Save yourself. Do not follow me.'

"I survived along with about a quarter of the Astran neumono, and the Ashes Astra were formed of the survivors. I wasn't trusted for a long time. My empathy had drifted from the hive. I was more machine than neumono. I was on the precipice of becoming a rogue, and the general background distrust and hatred was a constant force threatening to push me off the edge into oblivion for a long time. But I proved invaluable to the Ashes Astra, because I had the greatest insight into salikai psychology of anyone there. The Ashes Astra began their eternal mission to rid the galaxy of anything that could threaten us or other neumono like us, with salikai as a priority, and it did not take long for this mission to distort into a fanatic campaign to kill anything remotely threatening and alien.

"In retrospect, that's when it happened. When they looked at me, saw the machine and not the neumono, and I knew they saw something other. That's when I knew I was a rogue. And I was in denial from that time up to... I guess, I guess now. I'm a rogue. They dragged me along to that ocean base to breach the salikai base defenses, and I'm fairly certain they'd have written me off as acceptable losses. I'm not sure I was supposed to survive that mission. Kan might seem like the violent outlier, but he's probably the truest to what the Ashes Astra have become. Neumono so scarred by loss and the evils they've perpetuated that everything is something to burn. I don't know how Lekka's kept herself together. Maybe she was just always stronger than the both of us."

Ekasarra shivers.

"I thought it was the augmentations. That the machines had taken away something pure and essential to what a neumono is. I thought that's what the problem was. I didn't realise the problem was just fundamentally me all along."

She closes her body to me. By which I mean she assumes closed body language. By which I mean... agh, forget it.

"So here we are. Two creatures in the shape of neumono struggling to understand who and what they are. That's why I trust you. You and I? We're both artificial. We were both made to fit into a plan that no longer matters. I mean, I wasn't born artificially... I think. I've got some theories about that but anyone who'd know is dead at this point."
"But," I say. "There's one key difference. I've never been a neumono."
"What are you now?"
"I... hm. This is a lot to take in."
"Actually, a better question. What do you want?"
"I dunno. Revenge against the ki--"

"No," says Ekasarra. "Stop there. Don't. Revenge is a futile waste of time. I've travelled that road and it goes nowhere."
"But the kiter empire has to be stopped."
"And you're going to do that by yourself? You're going to throw a unique, beautiful being like yourself, a cosmological miracle of more improbabilities coinciding than I think I could ever work out, into a situation of certain death? Do you want to die?"
"Everything dies. Do you want to die old and broken down, or do you want to die young with purpose?"

Ekasarra is quiet.
No. 885340 ID: 9771da
File 152685866979.png - (152.87KB , 800x600 , salq2-38.png )

She looks at me, empathy sinking like a rock into dark water. "I've wanted to die for a very long time now."
I feel my stomach drop away into a deep chasm. "That's not what--"
"It is, though. You're talking to yourself like I did to me. You want to die, don't you."
"I mean, I've barely lived, why would I want to be dead?"
"Do you feel like a mistake?"

The words catch me off guard and feel like a shock rippling through my entire body.

Of course I do. I'm a mishmash prototype created by a deranged genius with her own host of mental problems. There's nothing about me that feels right. None of my memories match with who and what I am. I'm a wreck. I'm a mess.

And I've been hiding that deep down and away from myself because life is easier if I just don't think about it.

"Because," says Ekasarra, "that's all I get from your empathy. Just constantly. You don't feel like you should exist. And to be honest, maybe that's why we clicked. Maybe that's why I felt you were so much like me."

I falter.

I keep trying to think of things to say to disprove her but she's right.

"So. Let me ask you this again," says Ekasarra, tearing up. "Do you want to die?"


Ngh. I don't want to think about this anymore. I don't want to pry into my own mind any further. Urgh. I feel sick. I remember dying, I remember being other things, and none of those things were me, all of them were someone else, my head is full of corpses, my body is made from flesh fed from corpses of dissenters, of the weak, of those who failed to respond to an oppressive rule, I hate it, I hate the empire, I hate how I was made, I hate everything about it, I hate my body, I hate my mind, I hate me--


oh dear I think she might be right

uhh. Ugh. UGH. NO. IGNORE IT. IGNORE IT AND SUPPRESS IT. Dozens of borrowed memories -- not my memories -- neno fi lectures on paraspacial importance clear mind keep clear mind do not falter do not doubt

"Answer the question," she says, softly. "Be honest to yourself. I'm not trying to hurt you." She sniffs and wipes a tear away. "I've been down this road too but I've found reasons to live, and if you're in pain, I want to help you find reasons too."

Who does she think she is?! But she's right? No she isn't! I don't even have a real name, I'm disposable, I am a soldier. A soldier construct. How can she understand?! How can anything or anyone here understand anything about me?! They're all aliens! I can move the world around me with my force of will alone, I could crush everything around me if I wanted! Maybe I should! I'll show everyone here that I'm not the one out of place, THEY'RE out of place! They don't belong in MY world! This is MY WORLD! Ekasarra flinches but she's right to be scared, what is a mortal to a god?!

"Please," she says. "Just a yes or a no."

No. 885341 ID: 86eb65

Why though?

All you have to do to be happy is repress a few memories and stay with this nice girl and make some new friends. Help save the day and escape with everyone. Then settle down somewhere nice and have tons of cute little babies.

If you want a reason to live there is a pretty decent one right in front of you. Friends and family could be yours if you work for them. Sounds a lot more fun than burning everything.

Also the second you scream to the heavens that you are invincible its probably going to end badly for you. There is always a bigger fish and no man is a island. Everyone needs someone else.
No. 885342 ID: 33cbe7

Can you though? It doesn't seem very flammable.
Can you use your powers of reality assertion to make things that were broken work? The aliens haven't figured out how to turn that portal back on yet, but maybe if you tell it to turn back on it will. No, not just maybe, you have to *know* it will turn back on. And it did before, so of course it will again.
No. 885343 ID: 0c3c2c

Focus. Maybe have a good cry. Burning things down is what Kiter do, after all, and you're not Kiter.
No. 885344 ID: 3cc68c

No you don't want to die. You are just confused and angry and happy at the same time.

You just found out there is more to life than what you knew and you are instinctively trying to keep it close and protect it.

But raging about fires and destruction will not help you or your new lover. Your old life sucked so start building a new one. One away from the horrible empire and all there crap.
No. 885345 ID: b1b4f3

Do you want to be empty, and thus lack doubt, or do you want to work out the kinks and gain true emotional and mental strength? Have the neno fi not taken that path?
No. 885346 ID: ad51b8

congratulations, you are fighting the most terrible foe one can ever face, themselves.

But if you want my advice, give it time. You're still young even with all those memories. Live a little longer and see if you can't find something worth living for. Besides, even if you did freak out right now what would you accomplish? All that would happen is you'd be left alone, with nothing but these thoughts you don't want to think about plaguing you. Right now I feel the worse thing that could happen to you is to be left alone.
No. 885358 ID: deec6e

She can understand because she's Neumono and you're part Neumono and you've just been sharing of yourself intimately at multiple levels whether you wanted to or not. She also, surprisingly enough, has an edge in that she has lived and felt things that she can identify that you're currently also feeling. Granting understanding of others' emotions and thoughts is what empathy - and Neumono empathy in particular - does, you Neo-Neumoninny! In retrospect, how is it even a surprise that she'd manage to grasp at your mind's more jagged edges?

She may not understand everything, but Ekasarra has nailed down what a bunch of your parts were actually feeling, and if other parts are now telling you to burn everything, lest that insight weaken your resolve and powers, despite also claiming that you are a diety unto yourself, what you should really do is question how odd it is to let useful insight into your compound and complex network of memories and emotions trigger such a sudden and extreme reaction.

Because that's odd.

Answer Ekasarra honestly - a begrudging, but simple "yes" or 'I hadn't realized, but you seem to be right' will do - and remind yourself to inform Voidborn when next you speak that rage and delusions of godhood is a terrible defense mechanism to trigger at finding a chink in one's mental armor. She may have discovered this herself recently, but it bears repeating.

Having had your mental bearing kicked out from under you, take the handhold Ekasarra is offering. You already sympathize with this alien who has treated you, for all her hostility and warranted suspicion, less like an enemy or tool than the very empire that made you. Her words, too, offer comfort and the possibility she shared has to be tantalizing. You may not have to inevitably die fighting against - or for - the Kiter and hate yourself for either. Not if you can just... get out of this galaxy. Alive. For once. To live for yourself and become something more than what the sum of your parts were supposed to be.

If something is to burn, let it be the blazing hope of that escape - escape from the sorry mess that made you - and anything that stands between you and her, and it.
No. 885359 ID: ba56e6

And so comes the fall, so ends the mistake, and the cycle of the kiter continues. Just as the stran designed.

For all the flesh and force behind them, they are ultimately irrelevant. So focused on surviving they will never be fulfilled, never mean anything, never feel anything.

The real revenge is in treating them just as irrelevant as they really are. A natural disaster to be moved around like any other.

The others with you, the little people, Ekasarra, Sisirri, Voidsong, they are relevant. You're all mistakes, blips in your respective cycles where something or somebody somewhere fucked up.

Own it, and nobody can use it to hurt or manipulate you.
No. 885363 ID: dc91a0

Ha... Hahahaha...
Your so fuckin' weak dude.

For all your decades of memories and godlike powers, you lake direction or motivation to use them.

Sure you could burn the place down, but you'd be immediately struck down by the kiter.

Sure you could jump blindly through time, but you'd find yourself lost and aimless.

You said it yourself. You are a soldier.
Not a thinker, but a doer.

As you are you are but a tiny flame. Sure you could catch the whole house on fire if left alone, but put to work by someone else, and you could forge somthing amaving.

That someone can't be Ekasarra, she to is but a flame, but that is what the Salikai is for isn't it? She is the forgemaster that can give you purpose.

You've your strength, your master, and your woman here. What more do you need? Don't throw that away.
No. 885364 ID: 074011

If you burned, the facility would destroy you. It has survived through ages. No doubt innumerable efforts have been made to acquire its technology, and all of them failed, even when it allows them entry. It is greater than you, in its ability to win a fight. There is always something greater than you. The path of conquest is futile. One can never even gain the strength to be safe. You must find a different purpose.

You are formed from those who slaved and fell for and from the Kiter. There is little truth to you other than to see them as an enemy. You should seek to be free of them...
No. 885365 ID: 3abd97

>Then see if I can slowly, gradually manipulate things so I'm calling the shots, and Sisirri still thinks she's in charge.
Well you sure made the transition from subservient to ambitious quickly.

>Oh good we're both horrible at this pillow talk thing
How about that, Kiter know about pillows! I would have expected them to have discarded them along the same logic as not wearing clothes.

>I don't know whether to feel intimidated or to immediately declare my allegiance to Ekasarra over Sisirri.
Might be a moot point, since they appear to be allies, despite the verbal barbs you've witnessed them exchanging. From what you can tell, Sisirri confronted Voidsong, without resources, in order to retrieve Ekasarra, and Ekasarra interceded on Sisirri's behalf when the other neumono sought to end her.

>"But that's almost the exact opposite of what they do!"
Because no sneaky enemy would ever sneak something that's the opposite of a thing's intended function into the design.

Come on, can't you see Voidsong giggling over getting enemies to willingly embrace an ironic defeat? "Little did they know their defenses would be their undoing after all! Hahahahaha!"

Point out there's something of an unbalanced perspective here- of the two of you, you're the only one who has experienced dying. Or remembers experiencing it, even if those yous weren't exactly you, strictly speaking.

I'm pretty sure if you burned everything down but her, including yourself, she'd spend the rest of her life questioning what you did. Ditto if you tried to burn down the facility and the aliens and failed.

Also, this is a pretty self-destructive thought. Which means the answer to her question is either "yes" or "no, but I've considered it".

...also you might want to reconsider the whole "put yourself in charge by manipulation" thing, you don't appear prepared for that kind of responsibility if this is how you're thinking.

>This is MY WORLD!
Arguably correct. Nearly every other faction or group in play is not native to this planet- you are.

Well there's also the natives who evolved here, but the kiter seem to have been aggressively killing them off with the whole planetary strip mining.

>what is a mortal to a god?!
Do you really consider yourself that much greater than her? Remember the arrogance you saw brought low in Voidsong. Remember that Ekasarra inspired this feeling in you, which means she has power over you. That's not the relationship between mortal and god.

>suicide / burn them all?
The simplest counterargument: what do you possibly have to gain in such an act of destruction? Perhaps, ultimately life isn't worth living, but what do you lose by trying and failing?
No. 885366 ID: b1b4f3

Clarify something please:
Nearly defeating a Kiter fleet only makes the Kiter structure stronger, because they absorb whoever was strong enough to stand up to them?

...I bet the Kiter don't even have records of a fleet being fully defeated. Is it possible that there is a civilization out there that is capable of doing so, and all records of it are missing to keep the Kiter fleets' members from rebelling and fleeing to that civilization?
No. 885369 ID: 91ee5f

>What more do you need?
A name that isn’t “Lackey”.

.....maybe Ekasarra can help with that?
No. 885371 ID: 1561e1

Cry. That's what you do when your emotional state is damaged and you need to relieve your feelings.
No. 885382 ID: 094652

You're the culmination of thousands of psyche fragments, all seeking to be a whole somebody again. Each major fragment has just enough self-awareness to know that there's too much disparity to unify without conflict. So mentally-suicidal rage is all those broken down shards just saying "we're a literal 'figurative mess', throw us in the garbage disposal, incinerate, and start over".

And yeah the empire thing.

But if there's anything important you've ever learned in your entire life of less than a week and a shag, it's that individual flaws and weaknesses can combine with personal strengths and quirks to build something that can defeat a supposedly all-round superior opponent. Sisirri's power is accomplishment; every 'inferior' module of her intellect is something she attached, tested, and compounded with the other modules, building an intelligent, verbose psyche that was stronger than that 3d-printed sack of fat crazy. That doesn't mean augmentations have no worth either, they just need to prove their worth in different ways.

Your worth is your cache; you have a level of seasoned experience with an entire spectrum of commoners and rebels in a galaxy-spanning empire, along with echoes of their dissent and will. Focus as many relevant shards into a singular concept as you can, and you can draw the anger or hope you need, and not the self-hate that's currently a bunch of glass shards in your mind.
No. 885385 ID: 13cc26

>Well you sure made the transition from subservient to ambitious quickly.
I wonder if that's just a kiter thing.



How many of your past lives were executed for (perceived or actual) opposition to/rebellion against the kiter?

Did Voidsong pick those out? Was she planning something?
No. 885461 ID: 66d39c

Take a deep breath, Lackey. Ekasarra is trying to show you compassion, allowing you to confide in her. You don't have to worry about fitting in, and you don't have to prove your strength to anyone. Burning everything to the ground won't help you, and it will hurt Ekasarra. So take a deep breath.

Calling yourself a mistake is a disservice of the highest magnitude. You've already far transcended your origins as a soldier or an experiment; Ekasarra in her own words just called you a "unique, beautiful being"! You are your own person, for good or ill, and all you have to do is live like the kind of person you want to be.

Ekasarra cares about you. Don't throw that away.

If you feel like you're ready to acknowledge your personhood, why not start with a name? Think of one yourself, have Ekasarra pick one, or keep Lackey if it suits you. Just so long as you own your decision.
No. 885469 ID: 1561e1

"Lucky" is a nice corruption of Lackey.
No. 885509 ID: 05ff2f

"Lucky" sounds like the name someone would give their pet. Also, I don't think choosing a name based off of what was a throwaway identifier Sisirri gave him is a good idea.

Choose a name that is your own. All it's criteria has to be is to roll off the tongue nice enough. "Tyol," perhaps.
No. 891799 ID: ae2184
File 153111680041.png - (164.92KB , 800x600 , techdiffs.png )

[ 2018/7/9 notice: currently on vacation, left graphics tablet on another continent. Please enjoy your irregularly scheduled Salikai updates sans art until the creator can provide art for them. Thank you for your patience and we hope you continue flying Cirr Quest airlines, where our motto is "severe turbulence builds character". ]

>you're all mistakes, own it
>let hope of escape burn
>burning things down is what kiter do

I put my hands on the wall, bark loudly, and groan in frustration.

Ekasarra puts a hand on my back. "It's okay," she says, rubbing me. "You don't have to answer."
"We both know I just did."
Ekasarra quietly nods her head, eyes closed. "Yeah. Yeah, you did."

My arms fall to my side. Ekasarra rubs her entire body on me and an erotic thrill courses through me.
Her empathy spikes as she notices this. Mine responds. Before long, our positive feedback loop has us longing for something our bodies are temporarily too exhausted to provide.

Or, well, I thought too exhausted. I notice the more we rub against each other, my latent talents quietly invigorate both of us. Desires flow through me, into paraspace, and reassert themselves into reality. A subtle paraspacial manipulation, and one I'm not sure I could consciously repeat so elegantly.

Once more, we become one in body and almost in mind.
No. 891800 ID: ae2184
File 153111682866.png - (164.92KB , 800x600 , techdiffs.png )

The sensation is different, stronger this time. Our thoughts mingle, our experiences are closely matched. Our paces synchronize. For a split second it feels right. The sparks over Ekasarra are replaced by subtle glows.

I feel like we somehow belong together. Our alien empathies swirl together. Fractal spirals of thought and emotion intersect in ways I can't parse but it feels like interlocking puzzle pieces. Is this a hive? Is this something greater?

I feel Ekasarra shudder and shake, and I realise she's crying.
She's crying because... what is that? Because it feels at once familiar to her but so far, far away. She loves and hates the feeling. She's losing the last connection she had to her family, gone, only whispers of empathy among the broken hive, but new connection has come to take its place. She doesn't want to let go. She can't let go.

I don't have any connections like that. Voidsong? Not so deep. Not so encompassing.

I realise that I've slowed to a stop, tears falling from my eyes onto Ekasarra's chest.

We aren't exchanging words anymore. Emotions, flashes of images flow between us. This all happened too fast. We were strangers and now we know each other too well, too quickly. I feel her pain as mine, she feels my disassociation as her own, we draw ever increasing parallels and justifications.
No. 891801 ID: ae2184
File 153111687602.png - (164.92KB , 800x600 , techdiffs.png )

She knows a hive can't exist with only two and--

and she makes a choice before I can warn her against it--

I feel her abdomen twitch slightly. I feel some strange thrill while a conscious dread creeps over me.
Too late. It's over. Her choice has been made.
If she can't have her old family back, she's starting a new one, right here, right now.

I feel giddy. Too many emotions and questions overwhelm me.

I find words. "Why now?"
"Why not now? We could both be dead tomorrow."

She looks at me and smiles. She is filled with more anxiety and dread than I was, hiding it only better, desperate, thinking no better chance can exist. Thinking she can only snatch peace in moments, contentment in the cracks between oppressors making demands of her.

She fears the day when Sisirri breaks, and becomes an oppressor just as her mother before her.
Not if Sisirri breaks. When Sisirri breaks. From her mother's conditioning, from Imperium's control, from the Kiter influence, from all of it.
Ekasarra thinks she saw into the heart of the salikai, and saw something all too similar to herself in there.
A scared creature at the whims of forces beyond control, contorting her into something better suited to their goals.

My head is spinning.

I back away from Ekasarra, all lust chilled to shock. Our wavelengths desynchronise. Ekasarra stares at me, wide eyed, invisibly pleading with me to come back to her. To keep on her frequency. To salvage the proto-hive connection.

Too much.

I feel like I'm the one burning down. Small objects in the room float up and clatter at walls.

It's too much. Fear. I taste fear in her empathy now. Fear she went too far. Even that's too much.

I need direction. I need instruction. Order. My thoughts are broken again. Conflicting emotions. Conflicting ideals. Too much feedback. This was all a mistake a mistake a mistake.

I teleport away.
Ekasarra is left to stare at the place I used to be.
No. 891802 ID: ae2184
File 153111692324.png - (164.92KB , 800x600 , techdiffs.png )

I'm somewhere in the rain, on my hands and knees, shaking from the raw emotion and confusion I have no release for.

I bark into the storm with all my lungs can muster.

I angrily pound the mud, furious with myself.

What is wrong with me?!

[Switch to Sisirri or continue with Lackey?]
No. 891803 ID: 0c3c2c

Not-Lackey, find Sisirri. She can help. She provides direction, she understands oppression, control and suffering from both perspectives. She can help you focus.
No. 891805 ID: b151ce

Stick with Lackey, but go find Sissiri. She might be hecka stressed, but she can help. Besides, at this point she's definitely used to handling neumono drama.
No. 891807 ID: 094652

Sissiri, check up on your minions. With all these demotions you're going to need some basic restructuring and education.*coughbaldicough*
No. 891815 ID: ad51b8


this seems like a really bad spot to leave him.
No. 891821 ID: 757ccd

Lackey should go talk to Sisirri.
No. 891824 ID: 0d45a9

Lackey, he's overwhelmed and in need of help. Sissiri can handle herself. Probably. ...maybe.
No. 891833 ID: 5de987

Ah Technical Difficulty my favorite reoccurring Tgchan cameo character.

Follow Lackey so we can hopefully stop him from getting in to much trouble.
No. 891879 ID: 4f1cbc

And Ekasarra falls into the same trap a lot of rogues do, thinking they can breed their way out of it.

>Too late. It's over. Her choice has been made.
Well, technically not. Neumono can choose to abort past a certain point. That's really only going to be a concern if her emotional state changes rather radically again, or if she's forced to due to the lack of food or other resources, I expect.

>I teleport away.
And lackey falls into the same trap a lot of unintentional fathers do! Granted, with greater alacrity thanks to magic pseudo-science powers.

>What is wrong with me?!
You're dealing with a bunch of confusing problems and emotions and a situation you don't have the proper context or experience to cope with? You are only a day or so old in your current incarnation, and the people you're based off of don't seem to have anything like a healthy emotional social background needed to address what's going on.

>I'm somewhere in the rain
The other thing that's wrong with you is you're currently outside of the only safe place on the planet and the kiter might be able to get at you.

Stick with Lackey for a little longer.
No. 891884 ID: 575ec0

Rain is good. Go back. Bring Ekasarra here.
Just. Exist in the downpour for a while.
No. 891891 ID: 977456

Your problem is that you engages in intense social bonds when you had no gentle social bonds. Socialising is like chemistry. You need something stable to use as a container if you don't want unstable elements mixing at random and exploding.

Switch to Saba For some reason the paraspatial video feed is distorted, and you didn't want to get possessed while anyone could see you...
No. 891894 ID: 86eb65

Stay with Lackey.

Neumono ladies can flip that switch the other way just as fast.

She is a scared desperate mess and so are you.

Go back and apologize for running. Try to talk it out.
No. 891902 ID: 3b108e

Switch to Penumbriot.
No. 891919 ID: ba56e6

This is the worst plan.
Get back in the facility before this moment of weakness is exploited by the enemy.
No. 891921 ID: 91ee5f

No. 891996 ID: 29f621

Lackey, or whatever you are called now; running from your problems will not fix them. As soon as you sort yourself out, you need to go back to Ekasarra and put all this out in the open.

There is nothing wrong with you. You've simply been put in a stressful emotional situation that anyone with as little relationship experience as you would be unprepared to deal with.
No. 892052 ID: e7848c

You get back in there. Prove that you are indeed Lucky, and not just someone's Lackey.
No. 892091 ID: ae2184
File 153128987482.png - (153.40KB , 800x600 , techdiffs2.png )

[ 2018/7/10 notice: same deal, sorry! Thank you for flying Cirr Airlines, where our motto is "most of our planes still have half their wings on!" ]

>Stick with Lackey
>Go back to Ekasarra
I can't-- I can't! I can't think, I don't know what to think, I don't know what to feel, I need orders, I need orders--

>Go to Sisirri
Yes. Yes, Sisirri. I need new instructions from authority. Sisirri is my current authority. I will ask her for instruction.
No I will not. She's in no condition to instruct. I will not respect the commands of non-Kit-- NO. No, I will respect the commands of non-Kiter entities. I will-- I will--

>Get Ekasarra
Ekasarra comes here to me. Yes. Yes, this will be fine.

I teleport to Ekasarra, who is still processing my immediate departure, grab her arm, and move us both out into the rain.
Parts of me are screaming that this was the worst decision.
It was. It probably was. Why did I do this? Why didn't I just go to Sisirri?!

She immediately recoils at the rain's touch as it slides down her body. She looks around, confused and apprehensive.

"I brought you outside."
"Why? It's cold and wet and what even just happened? Oh. Oh, you can teleport, right. ...Why did you teleport me out naked into the rain?!"

I don't respond. I just stare up into the grey sky and close my eyes, the storm inside my synapses continuing unabated. Teleportation during emotional outburst. Maybe that's why?? Do my paraspacial abilities also affect my mental state, as well as vice versa? I'm lost and drowning in myself.

Ekasarra growls. "Answer me, dammit! Or at least send me back!" She's shivering. I'm not sure why, she's covered in fur.

I reach out to her and grab her, intending to teleport us both back.

Instead, I'm met with a vision.
No. 892092 ID: ae2184
File 153128993483.png - (153.40KB , 800x600 , techdiffs2.png )

A black furred neumono, female, naked, covered in sensors. A salikai watches. I realise the neumono is pregnant.

"Identify," says the salikai, a creature much like Sisirri, but paler. Cybernetics carve their way haphazardly through her form. One of her eyes is mechanical. Small drones hover at her beck and call.

"Rakuli," answers the neumono. One of her eyes is scarred closed. She bears a resemblance to Ekasarra, but seems... more angular.

"Full identification."
"Rakuli rozu Astra."
"Rakuli rozu Astra."

The salikai brings up several console interfaces, tapping at them while staring dispassionately at the neumono. "Need more confirmation. Favourite colour."
"Full identification."
"Rakuli rozu Astra."
"Current location."
"A laboratory."
"More specific."
"Biomechanics Lab II."
"Father of your child."
"No idea."
"Functioning eyes."
"Colour of my carapace."
"Full identification."
"Rakuli rozu Astra."

The salikai pauses, rubs her claws together in increasing agitation and slams a claw onto a console display. "Your favourite colour is green. Everything else matches but your favourite colour is green."
"It-- what?"
"Your favourite colour is green. There's been neurological damage. This experiment is over. It's a failure."
"Neurological damage? Am-- Am I going to be okay?"
"No. Dismissed."
"Wh-- what about the baby?!"
"What about it."
"The nanites--"
"Wait. No. You're right. Stay right there. The experiment is not over. I just need to alter the parameters."

The neumono starts writhing against restraints before the salikai rapidly stabs her with a needle, carried on a mechanical arm erupting from the salikai's back. It slowly retracts as the salikai pours over her research consoles, stroking the underside of her jaw as she contemplates.
No. 892093 ID: ae2184
File 153128998522.png - (153.40KB , 800x600 , techdiffs2.png )

I snap back to the present, and Ekasarra stares into space.

"How... how many... how many are you..."

I sink to my knees into the mud. Did I just have a vision of Ekasarra's mother? I am unsure how an unborn creature can somehow carry memory of events they didn't have the capability to witness. And if I saw that, what did she see?!

Ekasarra stumbles backwards and falls into the mud, eyes glazed, babbling softly but incoherently.

I don't even know what just happened but I think I made a bad situation worse.
No. 892094 ID: 0c3c2c

Carry her to Sisirri!
No. 892113 ID: b1b4f3

You need to get both of you back indoors. Out here you are vulnerable to psychic attack. Other actions are secondary priority. Only alternative is to wear those blocker things.
No. 892117 ID: 094652

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

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

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

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

I warned you about the babies bro!

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

Get inside
No. 892171 ID: 575ec0

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

Inside, now
No. 892190 ID: 86eb65

Bring her to Sisirri.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

I take her hand.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shit, that was way too close!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No. 893520 ID: 786c65

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

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

Already ate. We have more of those fruits.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So. This is the gate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The gate opens.


That's it?

That was all it took?

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

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


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

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

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

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

Nothing stops me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Its the alone part that's dangerous.

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

Civilization works because people work together to survive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay here.
No. 894021 ID: 12b116

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congrats, you built a mosquito.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh no.

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

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

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

no no NO NO shut off SHUT OFF

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

Words appear in front of my augmented vision.

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

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

"Step forward, Sisirri. We have much to discuss."
I engineered an outcome. All is going according to plan. Step forward. There is more to do.
"Will you let your desire for revenge cloud your ability to reason, salikai? There are greater forces than either of us to turn aggression toward. You have opened a path to one of my core vaults. A crucial weak point. The Kiter will notice. You have led them to a back door. "
"I hope they destroy you slowly and painfully."
"Pain is a construct of the persona-mind. Organic derivation. I do not have use for such sensation or simulations thereof. Will you waste further time with outbursts? Or will you listen, salikai? Step forward, and I will explain everything."
"You. Tried. To kill me."
"I motivated a course of action. All sapient interaction is manipulation. You acted as I projected. Your resourcefulness has led you to this instant in time, alive."
"You are still alive. Sisirri. I have new designs for your use. They are useless to me. I am uploading them to your drone data storage. Examine them. Verify they act as you expect. Remove any aspect you feel poses a threat to your security."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No. 894102 ID: a363ac

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


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

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

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

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

... Is Imperium lying? Please tell me he's lying. This is a stupid plan. It involves destroying an entire branch of science through galactic genocide and the death of a galaxy-ruling empire. The implication that he calls psionic potential a mistake shows a discrete level of bias in his processors. His "method" involves collateral damage on a universal scale and will destabilize entire galaxies, in such a way that could permanently brain-damage sentient desire for progress and science. Too many variables to count. Too large a trace back to him.

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

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

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

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

Is the best way to save those people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sever. The. Connection. NOW.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

I'm just going to reiterate this.

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

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

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

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

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

Well what do you know? Imperium is right about that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bullshit the only threats your interested in ending are threats to you.

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

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

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

>rescue strike team
Not enough time.

No, no more connection. Goodbye, drone.

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

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

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

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

"Sisirri? Silence is unlike you."

I'm not wasting breath on this machine.

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

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

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

I freeze up.

What. No. No no no no no

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

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


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

"...What is--"

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Sedate the Pomi. That thing needs to be properly scanned before being taken out.
Speaking of taking out
You can make a better one from scratch yourself if you're so attached.
No. 894307 ID: 91ee5f

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Address the mess Tirzi left.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If this Pomi is carrying the metaspacial pathogen, everyone present is most likely already infected:

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

>close the damn gate
It's shut.

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

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

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

Eurgh. I feel wrong without any active cybernetics.

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

Can't say I recognise them myself.

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

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

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

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

Kan pauses.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some arkots arrive carrying a stretcher between about eight of them, somehow able to coordinate themselves. Lekka and Tirzi get the pomi on the stretcher, and we move out to that combination xenobiology-medbay I'm all too familiar with.
No. 901943 ID: 7f3357
File 153712637509.png - (19.29KB , 800x600 , salq2-64.png )

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

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

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

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

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

"[No one is checking to make sure that drone is still down,]" says Ku after a pause. "[Machines are your field, correct? We can tend to the wounded alien, get to that machine and take it to pieces.]"
I try to pull myself together. Ku has a very valid point, and it will feel cathartic to utterly dismantle anything Imperium had influence on creating.
No. 901944 ID: 7f3357
File 153712640432.png - (16.70KB , 800x600 , salq2-65.png )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Imperium must be destroyed.

No. 901947 ID: afdebc

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

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

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

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

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

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

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