Three years, three days since our first response from Rocky. Aurora and Bayside are up to about 7,500 sentients, including 500 young Medynn. We’ve got another 1,000 or so between Janus 2 and Gaspia, and another 1,500 in the belt. Things are going well so far.
Marcus is testing the lander for Ammonia-world. It’s very shiny – gold plated in fact. So far, so good, considering that if it fails, there’s no rescue. The rest of us are learning how to use the armored HEX suits without tripping over our own feet – these things are 8’ tall and weigh a couple of tons. Looks like Virgil will be staying in orbit with the Pegasus – we need his seat for Marak’s min-fac.
We’re learning Uatsu from Rocky. There’s some sort of translator program there if we can get it running. Rocky can give us some access codes – it should help. Vicinius looked at the Uatsu DNA – it looks a lot (about 85%) like the Fisher King Hands.
I’ve been busy with the Tikket relief efforts. The Fire ant don’t have psi healing, so they’ve had to develop actual medicine for that physiology. It’s brilliant. Wrong in many places. But brilliant. Scorpion Bane and Coral Bloom are both interested in creating Tikket physical medicine – carapace repair is their biggest problem. Marak’s negotiating with Oceana to send some Tikket to consult on their terraforming – we’ll need to make them some space suits, but Marak has ideas. One of the elderly queens has died. The others are doing fine so far. The Tikket aren’t interested in adapting the anti-aging nanites, given Desert Bloom’s unhealthy life extension. I find the nanites a bit weird – I can hear them when I scan myself. Given time, I should be able to duplicate what they’re doing myself.
The Fisher King shaman looked at that spiral grove. It’s their First Nest, a sort of Eden where they were at their best. The Bayside nest came from the outer wing, less than the First, but more than the scattered feathers. This needs more study, but we’re headed out.
Trip is as uneventful as space travel gets. It is always a thrill to see the stars and float free. Then, of course, Adams’ stomach starts to turn. <sigh> Once we’re under thrust, he’s better. Of course, I’ve been saddled with paperwork. I swear that woman hates me.
And then we’re there. Near feature-less ice with swirling clouds of ammonia. Deadly, but pretty. The lander descends without a hitch. We dock with the Uatsu base and pump out the airlock. It seals, which is a good sign that the base may be intact. Then down the ladder in the suits. Rocks and the remains of our probe at the bottom. There’s an outer airlock door – gone – no debris just missing. We eventually figure out how to open the inner airlock door and make our way into some sort of suiting-up space. There’s a fog of nanites on the floor – they don’t seem to be doing anything. Temperature is -40, some oxygen – breathable but not great. We get out of the big suits into the sealed bioplas.
As we try to go down the next hall, the gravity shifts to 4G. We retreat. After some discussion and testing, we figure out that the corridor gravity has re-set and it’s triggered by pressure on the floor. Marak crosses in his Gekko gear and opens the far door. We cross into the outer control room. Gravity is normal here. And we see what the nanites do – they make useful stuff like chairs.
There are control panels – the communications panel is shot out. Otherwise the base is empty. There are signs of a fight here – damage to the walls in places – but no bodies. Maybe the fog ate the dead? The security office has a defensive wall of energy, but I can just barely reach past it to turn it off. More panels, most we can’t use until the base has more power. Possibly an armory. We head downstairs to the lover levels.
There’s a garden. The planets are in a nanite-status. Some of them look like TN-plants, but nanites are part of their structure. Eventually we find the black hole generator. Yes, a microscopic black hole. And they used it to send messages and for back-up power. Someone shut it down neatly. Marak and AUD1 figure it out well enough to restore it to full power, but the main plant – something called a total power converter – is a whole new level of difficulty. Marak says he feels like monkeys banging on tech with rocks. The generator has the backup for their comms – some partial logs about the attack. AUD1 also finds some mention of “insta-skill” nanos. There are places by the stations where they should be, but are missing or destroyed. As best we can tell, the nanos re-write the brain to provide the basics in some skill. There is a nanite fac – we could make them.
And so a bad idea is born. If we can find or make the nanites, we could inject them into someone and get actual skill. AUD1 can’t use them. Marcus is mission critical – we need him to get home. Marak’s got the best repair skills, might have the best shot at using the skill. Adams and I are least critical and I need to keep whoever takes the nanos alive. Crap! These are my patients, my friends. If this goes wrong I’ve got to tell their wives and children that I injected their kin with alien mind-rewriting tech. It’s not right, but it may be necessary. First, let’s see if there’s another way.
So we start looking at the library and the sick bay for more information. There’s power to six treatment tables – some sort of autodoc. As best I can tell from the logs, the Uatsu are also partly nanite. They downloaded their memories using the tables, which can rebuilt their bodies. And so bad idea number two is born. We could download the base engineer’s memories and skills into someone. It would re-write them. This is a desperation move. If I had a TN hospital and neurosurgical team, we could repair the damage. Here, with the contents of my medical duffle – I can keep him alive, I’m sure.
There is a third bad idea. The system might be able to restore an Uatsu. AUD1 is all for it. I’m more concerned about trying to revive an extinct race right now. They might be powerful allies and we owe them a lot – the very life of TN – but that’s a huge step. The tables can auto-revive, but they need more power. Main power needs to be restored first.
We’ve got some time before we need to either leave or send the drop ship back to the Pegasus so it is safe from the atmosphere. For now, we eat, read their manuals and logs, and study to see what we can do. The base is slowly powering up around us.