Terra Nueva

“Freaking psychic fungus!”
Doctor's Log 1x11

[Personal, Encrypted, Mentions Patient Information]

Back on Janus 2 after a long week – just catching up on my log after a much-needed shower. Showering in low-G is a pain, but beats stinking up the Pegasus.

Pandemic Aftermath
It is becoming increasingly clear that the party flu was an attack. Vicinius has started to sequence the virus – it doesn’t look like anything we’ve seen. It’s clean of the usual “junk” DNA, elegant, sparse. That’s not good. We don’t know what tried to kill us, or why. But I know one thing. It is afraid. Disease and poisons are weapons of the weak, not the strong. It went to great effort to hide its tracks and make this look like a natural disaster. It fears our response. Good. Perhaps if we can find it, talk to it, we can reach a truce rather than risk mutual destruction.

Adams, Kawit, and Tiberius were working on Nests 1, 2, and 3. [Nest 3 is missing the same part as Nest 1, must have broken off before Marak got the isolation tent over it.] They started with Nests 1 and 3, not wanting to damage 2 until they knew more. Seemed reasonable at the time. Nothing makes sense – it is one creature – but an odd one. Then, Adams (or maybe Vicinius) realized that we were looking at a living biological microfac. That’s when things started to go wrong. Adams suddenly attacked Nest 2 and broke it. The damned thing was manipulating all of them, first to protect it, then to destroy it. That’s very sophisticated work, more so than the psi-shroom manipulations. Implies intelligence. Fortunately, I had some baseline brain chemistry and pattern readings from Adams and Kawit – I can see changes. They should be temporary. I don’t have a baseline for Tiberius. Had Anteros-3 look at the vid records – looks like the first effects stared a day-to-a-day and a half after Nest 2 went into the lab. First Tiberius started being more careful around Nest 2, then Kawit seemed protective/territorial about it. Adams wasn’t in the lab as much. Just before he destroyed it, they all had a brief confused expression. Adams got inexplicably angry at it, Kawi and Tiberius were suddenly frustrated.

[ Send to Medical Team – Copy of above test results, summary of incident, and recommendation to take brain scans as part of the randomized testing for mutations and compare with baselines where we have them. Also compare routinely to available baselines whenever brain scans can be plausibly taken without straining our resources – I don’t want to pull time/effort from the party flu research as I don’t expect this to come up often, but the randomized testing might catch someone being or recently influenced. Also flag the research paper on psi manipulation to the psychiatric team – keep an eye out for changes in behavior and, if so, refer for brain scans.]

We’re still working on sequencing and looking for a less drastic cure than fish livers. Marak’s rigging up an ultrasonic fence to keep the biting insects at bay. But we need to know what attacked us and why.

We’ve talked to a couple of psis in the colony – a Vigil with a bit of Empathy, ESP, and Mind-Shield and Delanne, who is a rare anti-psi. Need to check and see what else we have among the three ships.

The Vigil has had a bad feeling about the prarie-bug counterparts that are around the garbage heap. We looked at them once, but got some new samples. Tiberius can tell us if they’ve changed. Send text to Vigil, have someone take the ground penetrating radar and look for the nest.]

Note to self – Now that I’m making progress with Pteri, talk to Kelinn about the snipes. Can they be trained? They will eat prairie beetle, let’s encourage some around the garbage dump.]

But there is no rest for the weary. We had a meeting scheduled on Janus 2 about Janus 4 and the scans of the desert. Legate Guthar, commander of the Janus 4, was a surprise. There was an accident early in the voyage, his mind was loaded into a modified Venus-bot. Fascinating. He’s deferring his position on the Council in favor of Capt. Smith. Good political move. Janus 4 is looking at a position near Lakeside, closer to the Lake, so we can be mutually supportive. Given an active foe, it feels too much to me like too many eggs in a single basket, but that’s a council decision. Best I can do is make a recommendation later and let them sort it out. Janus 3 is looking to more an asteroid into orbit to mine it, and then make a habitat of it – “heirloom humanity”, suggest Vicinius.

The Bad

We’re not alone. Orbital scans show huge (3 story tall) termite mounds on islands around the desert and on the desert continent where the desert meets the savanna. There are also insects herding bugalo near the desert oasis. Can’t get a good enough reading on the mounds to know what lives there. There is lots of geothermal energy in the mountains under the desert and two hotspots in the ocean. Not fusion power, but immense power potential. There are spots where something’s jamming out scans of what’s underground. Plan is for a closer overflight, let’s see what’s there.

First, tho, we are going to visit the Fisher Kings. Orbital spotted three nests, two on the north continent, one near the termite islands. The Kings are mostly solitary colonies – little interaction, even for mating.

At the first village, we have to unruffle an irked tree mother’s feathers. “Bad” is Fisher King for all sorts of misfortune – from storms to megaraptors to whatever is to the west. They can’t settle near Bayside because of the megaraptors. She mentions an abandoned nest to the west on a point of land. AUD1 does most of the talking, it is hard for my throat to make the right sounds and I’m still trying to wrap my head around some of the grammar. They don’t have the medicine fish – not the right geography on the north continent. “We have tails of the Trail that led us here. Some nests have been abandoned. Some are still there.”

The second nest is more active, and more friendly. They’ve recently (past four months) taken in refugees from the site nearer the mounds. Driven off by stinging insects. This nest has not faced danger for a while. It is overcrowded, not enough trees for all, but they seem to be ok on food. The refugees left behind their companions – lizard lemurs trained as hands. The refugees had nets and perhaps other tools.

The refugees do know the story of the Bad. “A sickness came to the trees. The trees all died. And then the fire ants came. And that which was not dead then burned.”

The “termite mounds” are the home of the fire ants, which are medium dog sized (about the size of a collie). (Don’t know if the ants project fire or just use it.)

So on to nest three. Abandoned. We feed the murder maples some fish. The “hands” will peer out when we call to them, but won’t come down. We’ll need to bring some refugees to coax them out. No sign of the insects. We try making the sounds of a wing. Nothing. The refugees had mentioned that the insects attacked most often when the wings were out – so we try those sounds. Sure enough, a formation(!) of bugs appears. Too small for the murder maples to notice. Gracche flames some. Adams and AUD1 kill a few more. When they realize they can’t hurt those in bioplastic, they retreat. We’ve got samples. More stuff for Vicinius’ ever-growing list. We try again, but they are smart enough not to be lured twice.

We overfly the nearest mounds. Vicinius sees something, odd by TN standards. When we go back thru the vid there’s something the size as the top of these mounds (barn sized) that resembles the top of a mushroom – with spider or crab legs. “On the plus side, not as disturbing anymore.” Vicinius calls it Magnus cancraticus or great crab becoming mushroom. He wants to go back for another pass. Gracche doesn’t dump him out the airlock to get his own samples. Lots of jerky flight – Gracche isn’t taking chances – fast with random movements. From the nests, there’s emissions, signs of TL5 below.

We do a quick overflight of the herders. Ant-like creatures around and mixed into the bugalo herds. The expected little guard like bugalo are not there. There might be one of them. It does not have the aggressive posture. Looks like the ants have domesticated the bugalo. (Could be a time-saver if they can teach us that trick.) No contact yet.

And up to Janus 2 to report in. I’m still not sleeping well. I’ll do better when we have a handle on the party flu. If things settle down, I’ve promised to meet Kelinn at Bayside for a beach picnic.

Year One
Author: Virgil Agricola Vicinius

It’s been one Aute year and one Terra Nueva day since we made landfall. I’ve been out of a freeze tube for a year and a half. If the planet hadn’t hatched, and I was back in Waregon Arcology, I’d be 126 years old. I’m not. I’m 26. Although I’m not really sure anymore nor can I wrap my head around the calendar. These are good problems to have. I think it’s time to put down a rambling little reminiscence of our first year.

Just now Doc started yelling at Marcus – because it’s been a rough couple days and wow is she stressed who wouldn’t be? – so I decided to retreat to write. We need both of them. Marcus is a crazy, lucky pilot who could be his own vid series and the Doc just makes people better all the time. Can’t think of life without them now. Funny how I only saw them briefly during training before we left Aute. Never thought they’d be on a team I couldn’t do without.

When I think about it, the past year is crazy. I should be writing an epic about this place – and I’ll get back to it! – but I’ve been so busy. Happy busy. Crazy busy. Never ending busy. On top of a bizarre planetary day and a sleep cycle that I’m not sure I’ll ever quite get used to, there’s been a challenge every time we turn around. Recently it has been epic having someone warm to comfort and murmur to at the end of another day’s insanity of progress. Until a zoonotic virus that we couldn’t expect jumps across species barriers and nearly kills hundreds of people. Might have been more too if we hadn’t been smart.

Landing Day the Second was almost Death Day. I’m glad it wasn’t. Since we survived it, we have to thrive. We learned more in three days about viral life and medicine on Terra Nueva than we did in the past year. Except for the selenium virus learning curve. (Maybe that’s geology?) Well we are damned lucky that AUD-1 is on the mission but didn’t get infected by that shit. That little bot is amazing with the Aquila. And their knowledge saved people. Sure the Party Flu victimes felt like they were dying, but then they didn’t. Thanks Medicine Fish! So it’s all good.

Not really.

It was rough.

Then we all lived. Now we go on, with better knowledge than before.

It’s been like that almost every day. Every week. Well there were a few quiet months where it seemed like the New Normal was quiet, but the next excitement was just lurking around the corner.

So let me try to summarize a bit.

I’m an evolutionary biologist turned xenologist turned colonist, spacer, reality vid star, writer, smart guy, smartass, boyfriend and member of one damned fine team of people making a go of it on the weirdest planet I’ve ever seen. I’ve only seen three planets. I never spent more than a few minutes on Mars.

Let me just put down a few highlights about moving to Terra Nueva. It’s been scary and yet I goddamn love it. I wouldn’t trade my life, my work, my friends or my new girlfriend for anything. (I would like to have a passel of kids though.)

After we got here, we found out Terra Nueva is full of life. Like bursting at the seams full of life. Like we are the newest recruits for the Coliseum games and we’re surrounded by scarred, maimed, skilled veteran warriors who don’t remember to kill us yet. Even the right kind of tree will try to destroy you if you get to close. If they could talk, would you like to gamble that the murder maples are nervous too? Because when you see what gets trees pregnant, you better watch your bowels.

I keep my laser handy, and it’s probably not enough.

So I have my brain and my friends.

That may not be enough.

Worked well this year anyway.

After we got to this planet, we found trees that are colonies of plants and animals and anything else that wants interspecies sex or cuddling. We found hunting vines that are part animal, part vegetable and part…something else. There are amazing sentient birds on the edge of a grand civilization that we’re starting to hang out with. (They call themselves the Fisher Kings. We named them the Aquila.) There are animals that are biological batteries and insects with solar powered shells that ooze honey and taste like lobster. Bugs up on the prairies have bacterial software built into them. Who in heck is in charge of them I wonder? River plants grow a mile wide and try to eat boats. The sawtoothed wonders of this place are endless. We’re only scratching the surface. The surface may yet scratch back. Don’t get me started on mushrooms.

Along the way, the second colony ship destined for Oceania got into trouble. And Marek was smart enough to figure this out so we all went to help. We got lucky – yeah it’s Oceania’s loss and boy do I hope we can help those folks someday – saving Janus III and getting her to our new home. Don’t know what we would have done without George to talk them all down off their survivalist ledge. (I still keep thinking I can improve his weed’s yield but my list of Really Frigging Important Things keeps growing faster than I can get things off of it.) Or Marek who is the first guy to reload an antimatter drive that wasn’t supposed to be reloaded. Those folks on III weren’t so lucky on their voyage. I’m totally glad we could help them.

And now Janus IV is here. Felt like yesterday I pulled off my bioplas and just dove into an ocean again.

It was so warm and nice.

Would we have stayed if we had any idea how weird and wonderful the life was?


We had no choice.

Wonder who the funny bastards are who thought “let’s evac the best and the brightest from Aute at the last minute and just make popcorn while they set up shop on a new world?” Wanna bet they said “This is too easy!” and keep one-upping each other with fucked up insect and reptile monsters that might eat you for breakfast and have the keys to a new technology we didn’t even dream about before? If there are any gods left are they laughing? Crying? Taking wagers?

Would I do it again?

I would.

Am I glad I’m here?

Yes I am.

Is it all a bit crazy?

It’s damn crazy.

You can’t make up the things we’ve all seen and done. I liked life at home, while I was studying. There was something missing though. I’ve found it here. I can’t imagine life without the team. I’m starting to imagine a really bright future, hopefully with Seri. (Auntie Venus, if you’re reading this, either give me your blessing or get out of the way please.)

We have to live through it.

We have no idea what’s coming next.

Whatever it is might be right around the corner, invisible, look like a unicorn and be hatched from a fungus that had sex with a shark. Either way it will be hungry and lethal.

At least we know what we’re up against.

Year Two, it’s nice to meet you.

Doctor's Log 1x10

[Dictated. Personal. Encrypted. Contains Patient Information]

The stim antidote should kick in soon. I’ve lost track of how long I’ve been awake. Landing Day evening, that’s when it started. I was on call. An urgent page called me from the dance floor. Dr. Willowbrook’s son, Tamriel, arrived with flu-like symptoms. Initial lab reports show a new virus, multiplying fast. No response to our standard antibiotics. Nurses report an uptick in patients in the clinic recently for minor fevers and aches. Vicinius also paged. He finds virus in Tamriel’s sweat and nasal droplets. Dr. Willowbrook isn’t showing symptoms yet, but she’s got it. Our first Terra Nueva disease and it’s shaping up to be a bad one.

AUD1 has been spending time with our Fisher King emissaries. On Aute, flu could infect avians and humans – it is a longshot, but maybe they’ve seen something like this. We can support Tamriel’s symptoms, but unless his immune system rallies I don’t have many options.
Hours pass. The Fisher-Kings do have a local fish they use for disease. AUD1 and Gracche go with them to get some. Trying not to start a panic, but nobody can miss Pegasus headed out. Leave their feed from a secure channel on in the background. Something about jungle pond, singing frogs, steak-vine – the hiss of a flamer, the crackle of an electro-laser.
Adams and Marak start quietly sending the folks who were recently seen back for a re-check and looking for those with fever using multiscanner contacts. As patients trickle in, more are infected. All of them have bug bites – the local mosquito cognate. And it is not affecting anyone who was not in the colony for the past couple of days. Adams has it, but in Stage 1 (not contageous yet.) So Adams and Marak are on a bug hunt. After a bit of fuss, they eventually come back with three sample nests. Mosquito-like creature. No actual queen, but a living nest with some sort of tissue in it. May have a relation to a local bird that was found near the insect nest.
Patients continue to get worse. Nothing is working. Tamriel continues to weaken. Another child comes in – Administrator Wexton’s daughter Jeanne. Counselor Min as well. Nobody seems to be able to fight it off. Nothing to work with for a vaccine yet. All I can do is supportive care. Finally Pegasus returns. Vicinius says that a smear of the fish liver kills the virus in culture. But will it kill our patients. Can’t create an animal model – snipes, mice, goats, tree shrew all potential carriers, but not infected. Only thing we can do is try it – I’d offer a prayer if I thought anyone still listened.
George volunteers – he’s early Stage 2. It’s bad. Something in the liver flushes everything out of his system – good and bad alike. But we can treat dehydration and repopulating his gut. A couple of Doctors, one Stage 2, one Stage 3, are next at half dosage. It helps, but doesn’t flush the virus. It’ll be all or nothing.
Running out of time for Tamriel, Jeanne, and Min. Pegasus goes out for more fish. I catnap – need to be awake for the worst of the patients. Tamriel next. Goes fine. Jeanne and Min are touch-n-go. Min nearly goes into cardiac arrest. But hell live. 350 primary infections, another 200 secondaries. That’s half the colony. Zero fatalities. This time.
Notes to self – need to sequence the virus, make it visible to our immune systems, need a second arrow beyond the fish liver. How is it invisible. So fast, so deadly, could it be created? Need to talk to Vicinius. Need to…
[Log automatically closed when snoring detected.]

The Dryads on this Planet are Ugly!
Doctor's Log 1x09

Safety Advisory – Attention Lumber Teams – Life Cycle of the Tree Shrimp Identified. Tree Shrimp are the female/egg form of the creature. The male, Sluggathor [file attached] can grow to ATV sized. Eats trees and impregnates others. (Which explains the Mobile Maples’ mobility.) ATV-sized ones are rare, but even a person-sized one may be dangerous. Sluggathor has no eyes, but some sort of targeting sense and a sonic attack that knocks foes down/over. Fisher Kings use Tree Shrimp ooze to protect their trees from bugs and disease – may be useful for our crops, at the risk of attracting Sluggathors.

Medical Staff Meeting Requested – Dr. Denhar requests a meeting of medical staff, with medical secure link to Janus 2 medical staff to discuss a development and further research. Case Notes Follow.
Case Notes [High Medical Encryption, Contains Patient Data] Patient Alpha is has been on Terra Nueva for __ days. Pre-departure medical scans and most recent medical scan attached. Note differences in brain structures. [Scans, identified only as Patient Alpha, attached] This may be a result of a prion/virus like silica substance. [file on Purple attached]

As some of you know, the Lumber/Mining Survey encountered two layers of sub-surface silica life [Vampire crystals] that infected two digger bots and re-wrote their programs. The Black Sand is dormant outside of temperature extremes. When active it consumes electricity and/or life energy to survive. One of our local digger swarms showed similar malfunctions, but at a much lower level. The threat had been believed mostly confined to bots and sophisticated tech. The Fisher-Kings, it turns out, collect a purple silica and pack it around their eggs. Their stories imply that it has effects on embryo development – possibly boosting intelligence – effects differ on each individual. On a hunch, Patient Alpha agreed to be scanned. Patient Alpha has fully adapted to TN’s hostile atmosphere and has been subject to high levels of stress recently. Comparison was made with Patient Alpha’s pre-departure medical testing. Changes are noted. Neurological review requested.

Theory: Purple Silica is in the air and environment. It is potentially changing us as we adapt to this place. Risks, unknown.

• Randomized testing of on-ground colony personnel looking for similar changes.
• Incubation of two mini-don eggs (estimated incubation time 35 days), one with Purple around it, one isolated as control. Comparisons made during hatching.
• Randomized testing of any mammals incubated since landfall for developmental changes

Council briefing to follow within 6 weeks (as soon as we have enough data to- avoid a panic- make a reasoned decision).
[Case Note Ends]

Survey Log: Summary of Janus 3 mission. Successful return. Janus 3 survivors – 151 awake, many elderly with serious bone loss and other health issues. 692 in hibernation tanks. Venus 3 functional. Only a few bots still functional. Medical Summary Appended.

Aurora developments: Counselor Siri has successfully documented the life cycle of the Buggalo. Hemp crop grown. Potatoes less successful. A few new pests found including a dangerous wasp-like creature [Piranha Wasps]. One lumberjack badly injured, still in serious condition in the Medical Hut. (Hospital construction in progress.)

Survey Log: Fisher King Expedition successful. Team arrived in time to stop an attack by a previously unknown aggressive herbivore on the nest thanks to quick work by AUD1, Marak and his drone, and Gracchie. Communications eventually made with Fisher Kings, thanks to groundwork by Councilor Hapu Min and Dr. Flanagan. The creature, Slugathor, is the mobile male of the tree shrimp we encountered in the Lumber/Mining Survey. It is technically edible, but low in nutrients and with little flavor.

Social Structure – Each Mobile Maple is home to three breeding females, the eldest of which governs matters for the Trees. The fishing group is a Wing, divided into Talons. The strongest of the Talons makes decisions as needed for the Wing. The Shaman is outside this structure and tends the trees. Fisher Kings have an oral tradition, use some local plants [note to introduce our guests to Willowbrook] for healing and plant care. More importantly, the Shamans tend the Purple Sand, which they pack around their eggs to incubate them.
History: The Fisher Kings have immigrated to this Continent from islands to the west. They left because of “The Bad” – Shaman indicates the desert. Older/larger colonies may have more information about The Bad. They have not encountered any other life that can talk. They are unfamiliar with mammals. The Shaman cannot see the Snipe. When asked about things that talk in your head, the Shaman vaguely recalls something about The Bad.

New Threat: The Leaping Lizards – brachiating lizards, the Fisher Kings consider them pests. Have not seen ourselves.

This Mission Just Keeps Getting Better
Doctor's Log 1x07

Doctor’s Log

Personal, encrypted_
We are met on our return from the mining expedition by Project Manager Quintus Cornelius Felix Varro [Felix] with a hover jeep to take Counselor Talbot back to the colony. He has concerns about the lapse in our data feed on the way up. I respect the position he is in, but even his nephew is agreed, albeit reluctantly. After discussion, the matter is being tabled pending further study – heading Orpheus] Marak does not like or trust Manager Varro.

Personal log
Vicinius reports that the digger bot circuit boards show signs of damage similar to that on the mining bots. Related phenomena. Warning circulated to maintance staff and bots.

The Council says that they have some news from Ocean. Their fuel supply is low and they have had problems finding a suitable location given the volcanic activity. (They have not found signs of the 1,000 year layers.) Their intent is to land Janus 1 on their moonlet and build a moonbase.

Janus 3 is overdue for its check it. It is arriving more slowly than expected. We make contact with Venus 3. By mid-transit they had a problem. Most of their bots are non-functional, which meant that many of the ISP crew and technicians have spent most of the voyage awake and are quite elderly. They are training replacements (children). They are nearly out of fuel to brake, have made substantial changes to their habitat to support the extra awake personnel. Sensors are minimally functional. Tank loss is 50%. 156 crew awake. Venus reports that prior to launch the Captain decided that the bots should not engage in self-repair, thus they eventually malfunctioned. Without their help, the awake crew could not handle all tasks. We talk with the council and with Oceana – best solution is for an immediate rescue mission in the Pegasus, refuel Janus 3 with a six month supply of antimatter, and bring it to Terra Nueva. Oceana can’t handle an influx of either the elderly awake crew or newly-defrosted colonists.

Packing ensues. I’m entrusting my living samples — the minidon and snipe to Kaylin Flanagen at Bayside.

So we are off, along with Nurse __ (medic with specialty in cryonics/hibernation equipment), an astronomer, a junior engineer, and 2 unskilled youths (Brittons) from House Willowbrook as extra labor. Three and half- weeks of high G acceleration to look forward to. Uncomfortable is a serious understatement. Good thing I’m not claustrophobic; the acceleration couches help! Adams does not do well – previously undiagnosed weakness to G forces. Current plan is to refuel Janus 3 and bring it in to Terra Nueva. It’ll take a couple of months. I’m looking forward to some time to spend in a Janus lab and actually process some of our samples.

Astronomical survey enroute shows no sign of an orbit crossing asteroid that could be the source of the 1,000 year silicon layers. However, we find a new problem. An asteroid in Janus 3’s path. AUD1 plots a course correction for Janus 3 and Pegasus, which we implement. As we approach, the hull is in decent shape. The sensor dish is damaged, which may be affecting communications.

Docking is successful; Gracche is very good at this. AUD1 crosses and opens the airlock, which leads to the main bridge. It is cold, low atmosphere, not habitable without a suit. Venus is piloting. Other systems are run from the secondary bridge. Venus greets AUD1 and thanks him for his help.

Oddly, there are no humans there to greet us. Or even to greet us when we get to the more habitable areas of the ship. We have to knock at the aux. bridge door, were we are met by Maxus – an old man using a walker for assistance. Adams does most of the talking to Maxus, and then asks to address the crew. When Gracche introduces himself, Maxus responds “’Be Good to have a human pilot again.” Adams gives a good speech, and he promises to keep everyone alive ‘til we get to Terra Nueva.

Marak heads for engineering with Gracche. AUD1 stays on the bridge to repair bots. We’ll need to shut down the antimatter plant long enough to refuel it – which it was never designed for. Marak spent almost all his time during the flight learning about the system and trying to work out a procedure for this. We can run most of the ship off the fusion plant, but we’ll have to make sure it doesn’t cause problems particularly for the tanks. Marak and Gracche plot the details of the EVA and loading. They bring some bots back on-line to make repairs to critical systems. Hives are sent to repair the ship’s hives. There are, so far, only six working bots, and two of those are in the medical section and teaching the kids. He also sends them to cannibalize the digger bots in the cargo hold – we can fix them later.

Nurse __ and I head off to examine the hibernation pods. One of the things I want to do is check all of them. Janus 3 has put a lot of wear-n-tear on their maintenance and diagnostic gear – best to make sure everything is properly calibrated and we aren’t due for any surprises. It is their ship and I’m here to help, not step on toes. (At least until I need to.) We have a near miss with a unit that fails unexpectedly. With help the patient is stabilized and waking up. Only another 339 tubes to check..

Vicinius settles into the lab space, around the food vats, and picks up some curious youths.

Adams negotiates with Venus – she wants her children to be treated as more than mere machines. Adams offers them the chance to join Janus 2. She’s taking the loss of over 100 of her children better than I expected, tho some of them might be able to be recovered. I need to schedule some time for counseling/evaluation while we’re in-bound.

Given the near-miss with the asteroid, we could use sensors. AUD1 could go out and repair the dish. Or maybe run cable to the Pegasus to use its sensors for now. There was an external repair hive, but it is off-line. Marek finds that the external hive is a part of the ship cut off from Venus. When asked Maxus says there was a time of civil unrest – some humans attacked the bots because Venus was shutting down hibernation pods for the good of the mission. Some of the tech bots have little lasers, the external hive has much bigger repair lasers.

Marak runs a connection to the isolated section.

Venus: Yes, I do have a connection. My son is not happy. He is scared and lonely.

Venus: Yes, people. He is scared of them. He is not right.”

Adams: “Can you turn him off?” “Or can you fix him?”

Venus: “Give me a moment. Some of my channels are damaged. My connection is weak.”

It's life, but not as we know it
Doctor Log 1x06

Medical Log: So far no unexpected events. Muscle strain. Dehydration. Heat stroke. Sunburn. Nothing serious. Weather is starting to cool off, clouds on the horizon. Sky is unusually bright, recommend sunglasses to avoid cornea burns. Maybe we can add some public safety announcements to Marak’s proposed 52-hour news channel.

Observation – a Roman bathhouse could be useful for hygiene and community building. It will also be easier to filter water on a large scale than dome by dome. It would also be psychologically useful to start making some permanent places, built for the long-term.

Addendum: [Contains patient data, encrypted] Marak has asked me for help on a personal project regarding sleep cycles and metabolism. Records appended. He needs to delegate and find some managers for his projects.

Survey Log: Woods and Mines
The hover jeep can fly across the river. The ATV, on the other hand, has to cross the river. And, of course, there’s another river frond hidden in the mud. It is about 1,000 feet in diameter. Fish swim back and forth without it reacting. What do these things eat that look like ATVs? Vicinius asks Da Jing [a lumberjack] to fish up a sample.

Samples taken of nuts, berries, and local birds. New creature located, a four winged glider. [Files attached] Da Jing has seen signs of large game, later identified as a forest raptor. It’s scat has traces of bugaloo –the nearest prairie is a hundred or more miles away.

Da Jing asked Vicinius a yellow fluid oozing from a species of trees in the woods. It is mildly sticky, but the tree seems healthier than those around it. We locate a knot hole, about four inches in dimeter. George inspects the interior. It is disturbingly organic. We find a tree that has been split open and a cavity inside. We find another tree – no hole. Drilling into it, we find a creature that has merged into the wood. The tree rings are healthier after the creature got into it.

Eventually realize that the tree is infested with a large creature. It burrows inside, consumes the tree, and busts out. The hole leads to its reproductive track. The sap is likely an attractant for reproduction. (What does the male look like?] Egg and tissue samples obtained. Infection affects about 20% of the trees.
Along the river, we encountered a lone forest raptor. After investigation, have marked the area as dangerous due to dangerous fungal organism.

Bugaloo herd located in the forest, seem to be migrating. Location noted.

Eventually the trail ends, and we have to proceed on foot. We still see occasional oozing trees. Eventually, we get to the mining site and set up the drill. Surveying continues. The bots hit something. A cloud of dust files up and the bots stop. Marak sends Eagle over – the bots are frozen and the temperature is lower around them. Ice crystals are forming on them. Their cooling systems are causing it. Marak investigates. There is some odd dusting around the vents. Something reprogrammed the bots to overload their cooling systems. The circuit board has been reconfigured. After significant work, we hypnotize. We may have found silicone based life. Its an organic computer virus – and it consumes life energy. It ate a living plant sample – withered it. The samples are similar to the 1,000 year silica. We start theorizing.

This reminds me of something. A few days ago, Marak mentioned some problems with a digger swarm, looks like a damaged file. He uploaded a patch to the digger hive to fix new bots. If this is related, it may be worse that we thought.

Yes, We Can!
Doctor's Log 1x05

A small burrowing omnivore has been found at Lakeside. The Snipe is a burrowing reptile with mammalian features, approximately 7-8" long. It is both oviparous and provides milk to its young in a pouch. The Snipe has hairs which camouflage it, akin to the chameleon ability of Mict on Aute. More importantly, it has a mental ability to cause observers to ignore it. This ability does not affect its image on cameras, in reflections, or artificial intelligence. The combination of both optical camouflage and mental fogging raises a number of concerns about the Snipes’ predators.
Snipes have dexterious paws – they are likely able to open containers as well as a racoon. Snipes around Lakeside have been relocated to across the river. If food refuse or small objects are missing, look for tracks [image] and/or use thermal sensors to check for Snipes. Pegasus will be checked regularly to make sure no Snipes stowaway to Janus 2.

Ground Breaking:

After much discussion on Janus 2, the colony council has agreed to use Lakeside as the initial site. An Alpha pod will be maintained at Bayside to study native grains, which can neutralize the phosphorous-eating bacteria (PEB) in combination, potentially domesticatable herbivores, our largest mammal to date (the dog-sized armadillo/anteater) and the Quetzel-Nueva, which might be domesticatable into a riding creature. Another Alpha pod will remain at Grassland to continue studying the stink prairie bugs, local pack predator, and to hunt bugaloo to supplement the diet at Lakeside. Bugaloo honey may be helpful with adapting to the local pollens. Virgil and Seri are making intriguing progress with the stink prairie bugs. Marcus observed their colony structure looks like a communications system.

There was much discussion about the order of landing materials and personnel, agricultural prospects, re-purposing the larger shelters into greenhouses once wooden or stone structures are made, and introducing goats, dogs, and perhaps chickens to begin adapting our animals to TN.

Counselor Hapu raised concerns about how much we know about Lakeside’s hazards. The subsequent Snipe discovery, shows just how much we don’t know about our new home. The Civils and some Venus drones quickly began work on the site. The medical team is now 3 doctors, several nurses, and a respiratory therapist. Medical problems have been minor and as expected – allergies and minor injuries. Dr. Galla [Julianna Maricella Galla] has a history of allergies, so far controlled with a filter mask.

After a week, the initial site is ready. The fusion reactor and macrofac is down. Marak has started work on his saw mill. A mining team is looking for a good starting site. A lumber team is getting ready to start floating logs down the river. Marcus has been drawing up plans for an airship, might go nicely with ride-able QN.

So far, things are going reasonably well. The Snipe hunt pointed out tensions about possessions and personal space. People do not have much and are very territorial about what they do have. We also need to work on building the individual colonists into a community, without the usual links of family ties and connections. Marak has begun movie night. I’m working on music night. We’ve had one celebratory bugaloo BBQ to mark the successful landing of the major colony components.

Night on the Lake is Interesting
Doctor's Log 1x04

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.

Finally, Fourth
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

Stink Bug Dissection Report

The Southern Temperate plains is home to ~1’ long insectoid creature. Base form is exoskeleton with Ichor, for blood. The creature has basic insect repertory and circulatory system. Variances occur in the insects, Neurological system, and pheromone, and or scent gland development. There is no central neurological area which can be identified as the insects brain instead this creature has a diffuse neural net that transverses the insectoids body cavity.
The other variance occurs in what appears to be highly developed pheromone and or scent gland system which is tied to this insect’s ability to stink and possibly its sexual development.
Dissection suggests that our presumable mature subject has immature male and female sexual organs and with the proper stimulus could develop into a breeding male or female. Since the only other highly developed systems in this creature which could act as a chemical stimulus is the pheromone system, reason suggest this would be the trigger to cause the change.
Pairing of the diffuse neural net with our observation that these insects are scavengers, and the complexity of their scent glands suggest their neural capability may be used for scent recognition allowing them to identify hive members and lay scent trails to food.


Features of note

  1. Selenium based acid coating on teeth to increase armor penetration. Believed to be an adaptation to allow scavenging of naturally armored creatures of this world. Expected to be effective on bio-plastic.
  2. Host to numerous micro-organisms a number of which seems to be a pathogens, others appear to be digestive aides.
Concordance 3 Primus Survey
Initial orders of Life Northern Continent

We have not spent enough time at Primus site to do anything but a quick survey of the plant and animal life of this area. Based on this quick survey and the basic test we have had the time to do this is an initial classification of life at the primus site. There is considerable information which will need to be filled in when there is time for a more detailed studied of diverse life of this planet.



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