Home at last. Nothing seems to have seriously gone wrong in the past month. We do have a better idea where the planet’s volcanos are – there’s two near Bayside, a supervolcano near Desert Bloom’s cluster of cities, and a hot spot deep under the ocean.
Better work on the core samples confirms the basics – a 500 year cycle of diminished normal pollen and higher volcanic activity – we’re mid-cycle there. Purple prions every 1,000 years, black crystals every 100 years, with a large release every 500 years that adversely affects normal plants, but not the purple pollen. Over time, Adams’ spiderberry seed is very, very slowly germinating.
Various meetings about trying to sieve the dust out over the oceans by cloud seeding, checking filters on the fusion plants and robo fac, and various protective measures. Many of the AI are going back to orbit, those down here will be sealed in bioplas. Many of the drones are being shut down to avoid contamination. More manual labor for the rest of us. Adams is rolling up his sleeves. I’ll head out to the fields and make sure my clinic time includes the inevitable sunburns, strains, and blisters this is going to cause.
Adams has had RUBY scanning near space objects, particularly orbit crossing ones. It seems that the belt tends to lose objects, mostly towards Primus, but a few in our direction. Oceana’s moonlet is likely an asteroid from the belt. (No dust patterns on Ocean, not even fragments.)
The big news is that she’s found some sort of anomaly in deep space in the direction of Aute. An anomaly with the same characteristics showed up twice between here and Aute – estimated distance 60 and 50 light years. AUD1 thinks it could be an object passing through space faster than the speed of light. It doesn’t match the records from the aliens who visited Aute – something new. There was an old ISP project for FLT, but it was abandoned because of the energy needs. Never got to testing. But this is vaguely consistent with the theory. If it is a ship, it’ll be here in six months. Once the data is confirmed, we’ll advise Oceana. Two months later, we find it again, roughly 10 light years closer. We think it’ll appear in the gap between the stars in four month – two weeks go get there by Pegasus.
I was just starting to get used to the planet as some sort of ancient terraforming device, now we’ve got something new coming from Aute. Good news? Bad news? Just more complications?
AUD1 and Breeze talk about teleporting. It isn’t faster than light, they fold space. The world is round, but the plane of existence is flat. The prime connects to a second Tikket to create a tunnel – they have to know where the ends are in relation to other things, AUD1 thinks he could teach Breeze to use GPS.
Ozone has integrated more into the colony. His Echoes are a familiar sight. He’s not a volcanologist, but he has some general knowledge of volcanos. He’s interested in the crystals, but doesn’t seem to see them as anything special. The spiderberry bush is more interesting, but Tikket don’t travel to glaciers – too cold.
He hears word from Coral Bloom about new colonies, and stress in the Hives because they are no longer of one mind. He expects Desert Bloom to take steps to enforce harmony. Coral Bloom expects war. We may be targets. We are unknowns, and the Tikket don’t like unknowns. Mostly, we need to stall.
This turns to a long discussion about the groves of Memory Trees. We talk with the Fisher Kings about “buying” a suitable grove site that they were developing so that Coral Bloom can start making her own grove and we can watch the process at close hand. They want some help with lumberjacking and removing trees that compete with their tamed murder maples to expand their nest. This gives me a chance to spend time with their shaman on ethno-botany.
The Tikket store skills and knowledge in the groves, which the Queens extract and implant into their young, which then hatch as adults with all the skills/knowledge they are expected to need. Losing access to the groves would cripple a nest. The nest modems access, but there’s no index.
The giant shrooms are sending/storing modem/routers and also physical defense for the groves. Each nest has its own modem of a Tikket telepath enshrouded in fungus. Since he has been enshrouded in fungus, Ozone feels like he’s part of something ancient, older than the Hives. (Adams wants to teach him meditation; he’ll borrow the skill from Tara.) The fungus, he says, was found by a Queen, who started incorporating it into their diets. A form of it creates the cocoons. The Queen cocoons enhance their psi and support their life, as well as enhancing their connection to the data trees. The Tikket haven’t studied the purple prion much. They don’t know how it works, but it improves species survivability. It finds weaknesses in a genetic code and plugs them. In Tikket, it affects their ability to be born fully educated.
At breakfast, Aiken agreed to work with the Tikket to transfer their data to our computers. It’s going to be slow, but it is a start.