The ruin of the canid village, Hunter never did ask the name of Araleth’s people, is right where it was left, naturally. It’s a bit eerie now. There’s been enough time for plants to start growing over some of the buildings and animals to be rooting around but the village is still mostly intact, battle damage notwithstanding. Hunter parks his bot in the city square and climbs on down the ladder to look around. At least now it doesn’t smell of death but… the eerie silence isn’t much better.
“Alright… we need to find their industrial storage. Should be… off in this direction I think.”
Ardul hadn’t asked either. She’d pushed fairly hard with the questions she’d had of Araleth and the name of the people didn’t seem important. She might regret that later, when the people need to be remembered, but it was important that they find out about Xiticicks.
Waiting for Hunter to exit the bot, she follows not long after, wings unfurling to their full span and letting her glide to the ground ahead of the wolfen. “I’ll follow you. You know the layout of these places, after all. Well. The craft that they’re built around.” she murmurs.
Her hand rests on the cylinder at her hip, ready but not ‘drawing’ it. They’ve no idea what they’re going to encounter here.
Hunter starts to walk. It’s summer and around these parts warm enough that he’s not wearing his long coat. The wolfen’s ears twitch this way and that but he hears and smells nothing more than animals and insects.
Eventually the come to the great mound-dome that housed the reactor and Hunter ducks inside again. Rather than proceeding to the reactor room though this time he takes a turn off to the right and heads north-ish. It’s dark in here and the environment is surprisingly pristine if a bit dusty.
“Tell me a bit more about this… outlawed tech. Why was it first developed? And who was it used on?”
“I’ve become used to you and the coat. It’s rather dashing you know…” Ardul says quietly, following the Wolfen, slightly behind and to the left of him. “I’m not hearing anything but I think your senses are better than mine.” She’s no slouch, when compared to a lot of other D-Bee’s but … wolfen hearing and smell, tend to trump all.
As they duck into the mound, Ardul pulls a ‘torch’ from her pack and operates it, casting faint illumination on the corridor they are in. “This area looks well kept. Like it hasn’t been touched.” she observes.
His question draws a soft sigh as they wallk. “It was developed two generations ago as a means to control those who were convicted of crimes. Rather than incarcerate them, it was thought we could subvert some of their will, removing the impetus for their criminal behaviours.” From her tone, it’s clear she doesn’t like talking of it. That she is probably speaks volumes to how important she thinks this is. “It was trialled, according to our records, on a penal colony on the outer reaches of our world.”
“What happened?” He knows, because Ardul has told him, that it was subsequently outlawed and destroyed but prior to that – some time ago it seems – it was in wide use. Something had to have happened to turn the people at large or at least their rulers off to the tech. Which probably speaks well of the Iyesgarthians or horribly of the tech.
“Yeah, pristine here. It wasn’t ransacked or attacked which means the bugs weren’t really looking too hard. People could have hid here. Some may have.”
They’re probably gone now if they did. Hunter shines his torch around looking in rooms many of which seem to be studies or offices.
“There’s a lot of dust and not many tracks.” Ardul points out as they move through the structure. “If people hid here, it wasn’t many. I wonder how many of them knew this existed.” Still, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing there and Ardul doesn’t let her guard down as they walk.
“The initial trials went well. The penal colony was subdued and the criminals were able to be reintegrated with society. Even the most violent of them. It was deemed a tentative success and the trial was expanded to include several other penal establishments.” the blonde falls silent, gathering her thoughts. “It was in use for nearly a generation, quite successfully. Then the reports starting coming in. A faction of our scientists had ‘modified’ it. Made it better they said and for a short while, the Princep believed them until someone found out what was really happening. It was then it became clear that the military had interfered, made the recipients of the tech mindless drones.”
“The military. Why had that been kept from the royals?” Without a clear idea of what Iyesgarthian power structures it’s hard to say how much of a crime that was but Royals don’t tend to appreciate being lied to at the very least.
Hunter comes to a larger, more robust door than they’ve seen before. The outside is bolted shut with visible cross bolts.
“This would be it. Give me a moment. The manual latches on these things get stuck. A lot.” The wolven grabs a wheel and starts to slowly but firmly turn. It looks to be perhaps rusted a bit. It may take a while.
“Good question.” Ardul says as they keep moving, her own torch playing along the lines of the walls and the floor. She’s attentive, even as she recounts some of her history.
“From what I’ve read in our archives and what my mother and grandmother have said, it wasn’t really kept a secret. The military had expressed interest from the beginning and the reports on what they were doing all seemed to be there but it was all couched in vague terms.”
The blonde sighs a little and watches as Hunter starts to operate the wheel “It would appear that it was one group within the military that took the tech just one step too far. Whatever the outcome, Nina’s Grandfather outlawed the tech and many senior military positions were spilled. As I said, Nina and I were but children at the time.” She’s quiet for a little while “Looking back, those vacancies left room for Nina’s uncles flunkies.”
“Would you like some help there? I’m not as strong as you, but I’m no slouch.”
“Help… would be… appreciated…” Hunter grunts as he hauls on that wheel. It’s moving, just slowly, and it’s squeaking a lot.
“Clearly Nina’s grandfather didn’t catch everyone becuase her uncle still has this stuff. I wonder if that’s how he got the leverage to launch a coup in the first place.” Political games are often long ones, Hunter knows that.
“When did her start moving in high positions in the government.” That might give him an idea of what he’s looking at in terms of the ‘contamination’ they’re dealing with.
“Of course…” Ardul clips the torch to her other hip, moves in and places her hands on the wheel. It’s hard to move and she bends her strength to it, making further coversation a little difficult. “Although, I should just sit back and enjoy the show. It’s not everyday I get to see to the Wolfen strength demonstrated.” she teases lightly, as she grits her teeth.
“I’ve been wondering on that since that that tech came light. I can’t help but think her uncle was involved from the start. These sorts of games and they are games, Hunter, often take years to find fruition. But both he and his brother, Nina’s father, were introduced to Government when they came of age, Nineteen in our culture. He’s been moving in that sphere ever since then. That gives him nearly thirty years of access to this tech, covertly.”
Hunter sighs. “Then this contamination could be thirty years old. Somehow though I don’t think it is…” Whatever theory he’s got in mind will have to wait because the door latch finally gives way and the door itself swings into the storage room.
It is a typical storage room in that it is cluttered, but one oddly cased shape – a pod really about three quarters Hunter’s height – lays off to ther ight side of the room. It has the same symbol on it as the one that Araleth sketched for them.
“That’s it. Here. Help me drag it out into the hallway where we’ll have a little room to work with.”
It’s… surprisingly heavy even for its size.
“It could be. But Nina’s uncle didn’t move until his brother died and there’s not been a whisper about it’s use since the time before it was ‘destroyed’. I was highly placed in our military and had access to most every document. I suspect, it was broken out when her uncle couldn’t contain the threat that she represents and me by extension.” Ardul looks at him though, seeing if he will continue, even as she brings her strength to bear on the wheel.
As the door swings open, the blonde reaches for her torch again and sweeps over the room, letting the beam settle over that pod. “So it would seem.” she murmurs, reaching down to take an end and help Hunter move it. “It’s heavy. Do you have any idea at all, what might be in it?”
*** OOC Time: Mon Jul 10 18:25:10 2017 ***
“The ancient wolfen stored anything potentially volatile or otherwise hazardous in these pods. There should be internal containment but otherwise I’m not real sure. We’re going to want to be very careful opening it. This thing has probably been sealed for a couple hundred years.”
At least the outer seals are intact or presumably so anyway. It isn’t leaking visibly. That’s something.
The pod sets down on the ground with a ‘clunk’ and Hunter grabs the release handle. He glances up at Ardul and twists it.
The top half of the pod releases with a hiss and pulls back. Inside is a large column that Ardul might find familiar. It looks like a component of the machinery that was present when Hunter was dealing with the core of the Battlecruiser near the Saurian village.
“This… this is a rift core.”
“We have similar containment devices. Most times its pure chemicals or equipment that was affected by said chemicals.” Ardul grunts a little as the pod is lowered and steps back, grey eyes resting on Hunter. “Ready…” she says as he looks at her. Ready for what, might be a good question.
“That looks familiar…” she starts and raises an eyebrow at the Wolfen “A rift core. You mean the device that allowed your people to travel the stars and move between dimensions?” She’s frowning though, running that through in her head. “I take it’s not common to find them like this, if at all?”
It doesn’t really give any answers to what the bugs and the walking building, but she’s thinking on it.
“They’re commonly packeged like this, actually. When charged they’re volatile and they’re pretty delicate too.” The wolfen hums thoughtfully as he lays the ‘lid’ back down.
“Wolfen rifting technology requires stupidly massive amounts of power and you’d need to figure out a way to ‘aim’ it. But… well… didn’t you say that your world is poor in magic? That Rifts are basically unheard of?”
“I see. There was something similar to this in the cruiser wreck at the Sauran village.” Ardul answers, drawing in a breath as the cover lowers. “And yes. Rifts are uncommon and not particularly spoken of. We’ve had visitors, but not many and not often that didn’t come by other means.” She means space travel.
A slight frown draws her brow down “As to ‘magic’, I can’t say if the world is poor in it. It’s nothing like here and to us, magic is just advanced science and once explained, becomes scientific theory.” She shrugs a little, watching the Wolfen as he talks. “You just don’t see it performed like it here. The mages … to them it’s as natural breathing.”
“What are you thinking, Hunter? That somehow my people found, or were given, something like this?”
“I’m thinking that your tech got here somehow and maybe it’s hard to reproduce and whomever is behind the attacks on the beacons wants more of it.” The wolfen pauses, turning that over in his head. “It’s a theory anyway and interesting that it’s the one thing that Araleth would pick out as unusual before the attack occured. What do you think?”
“The tech, and those cyborgs.” Ardul points out, considering that. “I don’t know if our mind control tech is hard to reproduce, it was certainly advanced, even for us but that’s a fair assumption to take until we know more.” Her grey eyes are shadowed as she thinks on that. “It would mean my people have a facility that is making it, though.” And she doesn’t like that, not at all.
“I wondered on that, myself. That Araleth would remember it. But then, she seems to be quite tied to Suri and it would seem that he found it. So it might be what her mind lets her dwell on. She’s very damaged.” looking around the room they’re in, the blonde blows out a breath “When I pushed her on it, she became rather agitated. It might have been just remembering the attack, but it might have been something else.”
“I had thought that the bugs might have detected the box being found but then … they had to have some travel time. So I’m leaning towards them detecting the reactor being bought online and setting out fairly quickly to investigate.” beat “When did you beacon activate?”
“Hard to say exactly. Several weeks ago at the least. The becons can be hard to localize. I can get a general position of them but the same frequencies are often used by other transmitters so pinning them down is usually a bit of a pain anywhere that people live.” Such as here.
“But it was online long before that attack occurred, I can tell you that much.”
“Araleth said the facility had been online for a week, I believe. I’m assuming the Bugs and that walking building didn’t Rift in. Let’s make another assumption that they monitor the frequencies, like you do, and got the signal at the same you did.” Ardul thinks on that as she starts to pace, her wings flexing slightly – Hunter knows her well enough by now, to know that she’s disturbed.
“That they left this box could mean they didn’t know it was here. But it does put the Saurian village in more danger, doesn’t it? They’ve a working reactor and rift engine, I saw correctly.”
“Working is a generous descriptor for that.” Hunter says dryly. “But yes. Functional. Something that could be quite dangerous in the wrong hands. Which is why I wanted to shut it off for the record. Without a beacon to draw the bugs they may be spared, but it’s not like the cruiser moved, and if anyone was listening they know where it is.”
So far, in Hunters experience, turning off the beacons saves people. But he hasn’t really gone back to check anything in a while so who knows if it actually does. “I wonder if there’s a way to figure out what they //did// take beyond people. Not the reactor, so they don’t need power or don’t think they could have taken it. But they did take everyone they could lay their hands on… I wonder if they were…” He doesn’t say droned but he’s thinking it.
“Working. Functional. It was on and doing something.” Ardul casts Hunter a flat look. She knows how he feels about that Saurian village and she doesn’t blame him. The Saurians had behaved frightfully towards him. “We should head back there then and soon. If you like, we can go from here. Supplies might be a problem, but I’m sure we can manage.”
“How uncommon is it for ‘just a farmer’ to mean head of hydroponics?” Ardul asks. That’s out of left field, but the way her wings are flexing, she’s clearly thinking. “Let’s look around here some more. You know the layouts fairly well, I imagine. Between us, we might be able to determine what was taken recently as opposed to what disappeared aeons ago.”
Turning in her pacing, she starts back towards to the Wolfen just as he doesn’t finish his thought. “… mind controlled? Another assumption, but let’s say they were. Why take the people? Xiticicks, from what you told me, swarm and take back … food? What is they were taking back a workforce? Trying to find the minds that bought this facility online?”
“Food yes. They kill and any captives they take aren’t seen again. For them to do so in those numbers definitely suggests outside influence.” And that outside influence could want anything.
“Let’s take a look around. A careful one. It’s going to take a while but it’s the only way we’ll make any headway. I’ll start here. You see what you can find in the settlement itself. The buildings look pretty intact so there shouldn’t be too much weather damage.”
“I don’t know how intelligent these bugs are, but I had thought that once they swarmed, they took everything. Bringing those implants into consideration, could change a lot of things.” Ardul murmurs. There are still too many questions and she’s not liking any of the potential answers that she can find.
“I’ll work through the settlement, starting with the admin complex. We have time. I don’t have any contracts for several days. I … cleared my schedule.”
If it’s going to take time, it’s going to take time. That’s just how it is. Maybe, they’ll find something, but she’s not hopeful. “I’ll be on the comms.” she says as she strides towards the door.