V. Sanguine: And yet again, we cross paths. Fate, perhaps?

Author: Radetch
Published: 2020-01-09, edited: 2020-01-11
Continuation of our story, already in progress. As becomes standard, we follow another perspective, and see the world from a rather different set of views...

Part of the campaign:

Unfinished Starbound AAR

Previous part:

Game: Other games

IV. Satisfied: And so our great work proceeds.

Images: 15, author: Radetch, published: 2020-01-09, edited: 2020-01-11

Apprehensive: It was not, all things considered, a pleasant world.

Gertrude voya Castiglioni was not happy to be here.

It was cold and damp and wet, and everything smelled of blood.

Which was to be assumed, of course - the world rained blood. Fresh blood squeezed from sores in the ground, burst from pustules in the soil, or generated by some foul osmosis.

Of course it wasn't truly sentient blood; and you could drink, even swim in the stuff without any clear side effects. But even for a Glitch, the atmosphere was less then desirable.
Calm: But pleasantry must be ruled by necessity.

It was here - Upsilon Beta - that she had come to serve as a diplomat for the increasingly prominent House voi Tinselkampf.

Huddled over a nano-stove she was using simply because unnatural heat felt more natural then the giant frozen chunks of blood that hurtle from the sky, walking past follicle-trees that obviously were inhabited by demon-spirits and ill omens.

The entirety of this place was cursed, were she to be asked her opinion on it; but as low ranking as a Baronet was, and as high in status as the voya Castiglioni family had been, it was not the duty of an ambassador to question a lord.

So she was here, and the will of House voi Tinselkampf would be done.
Mocking: Truly, their self-experiments resulted in vast intelligences beyond kenning.

When Gertrude arrived at the complex, no more then five Apex materialized out of the gloaming crimson darkness.

Each tried to avoid any eye contact with the others, and had she not been as controlled as any proper diplomat should be, she would have found the whole thing entirely amusing - all the more so as they each offered useless advice.

"Psst! Camera, over there."

"Big Ape sees all! Don't stay too long!"

"Hail Big Ape!.. Down with Big Ape, join the resistance!"

A dystopia as play-writ by a draftsmen who knew nothing of them.

Clearly, none of the townsfolk were so afraid of the ever-elusive Big Ape to fear talking to her, nor mention the 'terrible' goings on. Nor was his hold on the town very fearful, if the trouble the Apex militia had in taking down even one of the strange red birds that loomed above was any sign.

Eventually, she found the village hetman - Citizen-Representative, she mentally corrected herself. An older Apex with a visible pot-belly, he welcomed her with the restraint most showed towards the Glitch; uncertain how to react to those of metal forged.

She placed a chaste kiss on either of his cheeks, and soon found herself in a cramped office that smelled of cinders and banana brandy.
Cautious: Not that one should ever underestimate a threat.

"Let's get down to brass tacks."

Petrus Ferme began, still feeling the lingering cold of Glitch 'skin' against his cheeks. He was tempted to crack open a bottle of brandy, but as unnerving as the machine-people were, drinking in front of them seemed a poor decision.

"Your master wants this world, and he wants to buy it from out and under the nose of Big Ape."

His opposite folded her 'hands' - should they even be called that? What drove the damn machines to pretend they were real? - across her skirts; they rustled like real skirts should, despite the fact that her frame must weigh twice as much as his, easily.

"That is correct, Lord Ferme. Naturally, all who wish to stay may do so - the House of Tinselkampf is unusual amongst Glitch nobility in that it currently accepts loyal auxiliaries."

"So I see. And what if I told you that there was a perfectly unclaimed world over the horizon? Upsilon Beta VII-b. A nice moon, plenty of water, doesn't rain blood every damn hour on the hour."

He laughed, and after awhile her face lit up too - to show she was laughing.

Petrus resisted the urge to take the Miniknog pulserifle from under his desk, watch her mockery of a face splatter into so much glass and wire.
Somber: To wrong a noble, after all...

"Don't play dumb with me, monitor. You know we haven't seen or heard of Big Ape around here in ages. You know no one cares; I'm sure you most realize what a sham this settlement is, maybe even nurse the idea you're taking us in as some kind of protectorate."

His fingers twitched again, and violent, greedy thoughts clouded his vision.

"Well this is MY village, and you can 'buy' it over my dead body."

His fist echoed against the meat of a gut nurtured from many sedentary years and the disintegration of an Apex training regimen. Gertrude watched calmly, led display blinking rhythmically as his ineffectual anger waxed, faltered... And waned.

"That is truly too bad. We have no interest in offending any neighbors here - I shall inform my Lord that you have no interest at this time. We still hope to trade in the future; and have good faith that all Glitch currently residing planetside shall continue to be treated with respect."

"Thank you most charitably for your time."

Curtsying even as Petrus' shoulders slumped, the Glitch ambassador left in a rustle of fabric.

The moment she was offworld, Gertrude permitted herself the luxury of a smile.

Even the humiliation of an unpleasant assignment could be enhanced by the mistakes of others; a brandy enjoyed by both synthetic and organic alike.
Celebratory: Hello again!

It is truly a pleasure to see you, my dearest of friends! You will forgive my revelrous tone - for I have managed several diplomatic coups of note, or rather - my loyal vassals have proven their worth many times over.

Confidential: Rimworlders should not be considered as especially dangerous nor witty, of course - but then again, is there nothing sweeter then victory?

Curious: And how have you been? O' Lords, O' Ladies! Have your hunts been fruitful? Your servants dedicated? Your scholars wise?..

You may notice both a spartan character to my craft, and that it has come with the removal of many things. With work on a residence at Zenobia under way, I felt it best to began work refitting the most royal of craft, as well.

Now if only I could find asphalt for proper roads...
Remorseful: Station is a burden of the highest tier.

Welcome to beautiful Upsilon Beta VII-b! Sensors had considered this world, but due to Apex shielding technologies, confirmation of quality came from a reliable inside source. It is a beautiful realm of high mountains and deadly oceans - perfect for power generation.

There are also spartan Glitch settlements; this peasant won my eye with her sleek frame and excellent taste in weaponry; unfortunately, her faceplate a la mode Terran was quite disgusting, fake metal 'meat' and all; and of course there was the matter of class to consider. A free settler is not a serf, of course -

But honestly, would you deign to consort with commoners without that touch of class or mystery..?

Propriety won the day here, mournful as that may be. Perhaps I shall pay a visit to the Hierodules of Kluex on my return...
Awe: Unmatched beauty...

The sunset from planetside was gorgeous in the extreme, but conditions changed more quickly then I can began to describe. Due to the tidal lock and short orbit -
Glee: Conditions change quickly.

Night comes in as swiftly as a burglar, and with it gale-force winds. Due to a similar atmosphere in tone to its more - violent and crimson cousin - Upsilon Beta VII-b is prone to sudden drastic temperature drops. Nothing that the Glitch cannot tolerate, and I imagine that the Hylotl would be welcome beneath the seas.

Perhaps their missionaries, misguided as they are, might find the place pleasant? I have always found the form of the Hylotl worthy of sculpture; but pacifism in dangerous times can quickly become a kind of slow suicide.

Or one rather quick, depending where one ends up.

Regardless, acquisition was quite pleasing to me, and we are considering names at an election amongst the high nobility of Deneb.

All the great houses I have so far granted title shall be there; and though you are not all noble in the manner of the Glitch, I would be honoured to have your presence; the reception shall have all the entertainment you would expect - and that a fledgling colonial gem may offer.
Confidential: Now, to business of a more unpleasant sort.

On my recent personal expeditions in the pressing up against the borders of what the Terran people speak of as the Theta Legion system, I found a planet entirely cast of metal. Not uncommon in stellar cartography - but peculiar, all the same.
Surreptitious: The cast-offs of the planet were disquieting, to say the least.

You can imagine my surprise when I came across an archaic robot far from the style of the Glitch - wounded, not from the metallic and superheated shards above - but from some long-unfinished battle.

It continued to pointlessly ram against the cavern wall, posing no threat to anyone save itself.

Perhaps it was pity, but I put the slave-machine down. This planet was full of such horrors - too many to speak of readily - but also of incredible riches.
Peculiar: Such a beautiful sky - such a distant red.
Dense minerals, lunar ore...

Peculiar: Not that any of that matters.

Peculiar: Have you ever looked up at the sky, and the stars -

Peculiar: Have you ever wondered, perhaps, when they shall split open?

...

Pay me no heed. I am merely feeling contemplative.
Admirative: Pockets of liquid iron and mercury pooled over the surface.

Small, strange metallic flower grew nearby - if the outside were not so harsh as to prevent permanent colonization, I would consider it one of the most meditative planets I have found.
Jocular: Of course, with all of it's own little quirks...
Under a maze complex (defunct) I found a trap (defunct) that somehow still functioned enough to generate and create endless orbs of some kind.

These balls rolled out to the floor - then rolled in place, before the next ball fell onto it, splitting the previous one - and rolling in place.

As far as I could tell - it has been doing this and will continue to do so forever.

Whatever ancient civilization mastered this perpetual motion machine, I salute you.
Firm: Yes, I shall get back to the matter at hand.

The other reason I was in such high spirits was a message. I am unused to dealing regularly with the Floran; they are not always brutish nor savage, nor are those entirely poor qualities - but those who prefer to ignore those qualities in the Floran invite their own death.

Terse: So imagine my surprise when radar complexes at Deneb picked up a Floran distress signal - fast, repetitive and with little information.

The signal came from a Garden World, whose coordinates I shall not disclose. Suffice to say that it lay close to Lilith Basin, and is currently under protectorate status.

The moment I touched down, I came under attack from Floran hunters; but where Floran usually move lithely, they were...

Still fast, but heavy somehow. And they moved in concert - as if directed by some distant organ.

Attempts at negotiation failed. Force was administered, biomaterials obtained.
Unquiet: I still do not know what was found there.
The source of that slavish unity was found soon enough.

I first saw the creature, possessing of a skin that seemed to blend into the plant matter nearby, hunched over black stone - and on the stone was an altar that was not black - but reflected colour itself, distinguishable only by a geometry that by all metric should not have been.

We stared at each other, both surprised - and then it did something. Perhaps it hoped to ensnare me in the manner that the unfortunate Floran had been shackled to it...

But as it took a step backwards, I realized that it was surprised - perhaps even afraid. Apparently, whatever strange abilities it possessed had no effect on me.
Fearful: The moment broke, and it did something else; and atmosphere rippled.

I had decided to kill this monstrous evil, before it could corrupt the planet any longer. Though whatever powers it had ripped metal as easily as if they had been unarmoured organic flesh, it clearly expected me to fight at range, in the manner of most species.

One swing of my hammer sent it sprawling to the ground; the second splattered fell organs and coated the dark stone green.
Evasive: As for the altar?..
Burned, of course.

Final: There is no more to discuss.
Tired: It was a successful mission.

I found the broadcasting station, blocked in by ice and snow that seemed at odds with the temperate clime. Too worn out by my battles to question such logic, I switched the transponders off and set about trying to find survivors; there were none.

But a good deed was done, a victory of might against foolhardiness and virtue against indulgence.

Sudden: I ask again that you attend my soiree in the days hence from now.

There are many things to discus.
Ominous: Is it true that the Terran homeworld has fallen..?

Theta Legion was USMC to the core.

Sure, it had very few permanent settlements aboveground - the steppe was quite arable, but the wildlife prevented all save the most hardy of colonists from spending much time there.

Most, Sergius reflected, found the cavern settlements peaceful - spiritual, perhaps, as he did.

But it had been a long time since they had set foot outside - and even longer since he had felt that peace of mind.

For first the shipments from Earth had stopped.

Then news.

And now, finally...

Sergius stared up at the sky until his eyes watered -

The ostentatious and lazy forms of Glitch cathedral-ships drifting visibly in the upper atmosphere.

Next chapter:

Game: Other games

VI. Contact from Earth - Twenty Thetan Days

Images: 14, author: Radetch, published: 2020-01-09, edited: 2020-01-11

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