As Adams walked back to the ATV, he discovered it had been re-stunk by the bugs. We rinsed the ATV again, and parked near what we think is a different nest. The bugs re-stunk us. Unknown whether there’s a lingering scent that we can’t smell or whether the nests communicate. (Later experimentation shows the stink to be a “stay away/warning” scent.)
Alpha Pod called. A Mict Soldier had been wounded by the forest raptors. AUD1 and I took the shuttle to the Pod, along with various samples for them to test. Marcus, the shuttle pilot, stayed behind as the ATV made its way into the mountains. The soldier’s wounds were readily treated. No sign of infection after several hours. Marcus reports that there are five more bird colonies around the Southern Coast.
Siri, the roboticist/entomologist from Alpha Pod wants more bug samples. Instead, we are bringing her to the secondary site along with an Alpha Pod, digger drones, and towable ground penetrating radar. They can study the stink bugs. They might be intelligent, or perhaps have an intelligence controlling them.
Marak says the nearby mountains look promising. The stink bug holes taper off as the ATV gains elevation – the bugs don’t like cold.
Adams made a bug trap and caught five. We cannot detect any EM radiation coming from the bugs. We tried isolating them from EM with a Faraday cage, no change. We’ll take one with us to see if range affects them. (Later experimentation suggests they don’t communicate when isolated from each other — communication may be scent based.)
We begin in tropical scrub lands at the confluence of three rivers. Vegetation is sparse and there are signs of flash floods. We’ve arrived in local late spring, just past the prime growing season. There are small snakes, venomous, and edible. Also small flying lizards with about a 6’ wingspan (minidactyls). Marak’s drone acquired an egg, which I’m going to incubate. It will be easier to study a small one. The lake has relatively normal looking birds and insects. And, of course, it has a carnivorous plant – a willow like tree that catches its own fish and feeds them to digestive bugs near its roots. On the lake, there seem to be large eels and a couple of ScyllaFronds. No mammals. Tracks of something that comes out of the lake to feed.
At night, the eels come out. Glowing with bioluminescence and electricity that they use to kill insects. Pretty, in an odd way. Marcus shot one for study – they are big, inedible, with a much larger version of the bio-battery we saw in the DinoBoar. Adams says low amount of the phosphorous eating microbe.
This has been the least inhospitable site so far. It is a good potential incubator for a colony. Reasonably safe. Would not have to compete hard with local flora and fauna. On the other hand, all the water flows inward – there’s no trade route by water out, our effluvia would eventually pollute the lake, and its on a flood plain which will make irrigation structures tricky unless we do some serious civil engineering.
We take the ATV into the jungle, which proves quite thick. We try walking on a game trail and are swiftly attacked by a carnivorous vine, which focuses on Marcus. It is dissuaded by laser fire and his sword. We head back and spot another one. Marak trims away its cover; Marcus shoots it with a BIG gun. It is odd, even for TN – combines animal, insect, and plant features. Vicinius feeds a still-twitching sample some of our eel. It digests it with tendrils and enzymes. It may be able to suck sap out of trees too. Apparently, its also edible, but a bit gamy. I’ll stick to rations – this one is too weird. Marcus has doubts about our survival instincts, but we managed to get this far without serious injury.
When we check in with Siri, more discussion between her and Vicinius about the bugs. They’ve got an odd neural structure. They seem to store memory by scent and may be controlled by microbes that wrap around their neural net.
The last site, recommended by the ship, is an ocean coast grasslands on the north continent, noteable for its mild climate. Ample Bugaloos and tricericows (fishy-tasting, edible). Large (30’) pterodaycls (Megladactyls), lion-like lizards lounging in the sun, our largest mammal to date – an anteater like insectavore. No stink bungs! Marak is disappointed to find only basic minerals in the hills and mts about 100 miles away. I like this site better – it has more expansion potential, better soil, and abundant grazers. but the minerals are limited. This feels more open than Third. Third is about huddling in safety while we adapt our crops and animals to this world; Fourth is about confronting the new world from the start, using the grazers for colony support, and expanding rapidly to find resources. Were it me, I’d go with Fourth, BaySide.
We’ve had much discussion of the possible sites, summarized in the report. Now it is up to the Council.
Survey Team Report