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Astraea

"This body... What am I? What's happened to me?!"

0 · 411 views · located in Galaxy 131

a character in “Galaxy 131”, as played by Feyblue

Description

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That Which Lies On the Surface


V.I.R.G.O.

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Designation
Vigilant Interdictor for Resource Gathering and Observation, or V.I.R.G.O.
Classification
Heavy Frigate. While its length is closer to that of a Cruiser, its light armoring and tremendous mobility make it resemble a lighter ship more than the heavier class it otherwise takes after, thus earning it this "middle of the road" designation.
Total Length
Approximately 1,200 Meters - about three quarter miles.
Width at Widest Section
Approximately 450 Meters - about a quarter mile.
Height at Tallest Section
Approximately 220 Meters - a little more than a tenth of a mile.
Estimated Weight
20,000 Tons.
Design
Vaguely crustacean in appearance, the V.I.R.G.O. is thin - with only three levels inside it - and sleek, with a thin, rounded hull made of precisely-interlocked plates of ablative armor. While ineffective at stopping solid rounds, it is designed in four distinct sections. The first is the large, spined prow and the frontal dish, housing the main weapons, the shield generator, and the command bridge, as well as the computer core and some largely unused crew quarters which look to be a recent renovation rather than an original part of the design. The second is its midsection, containing the hangar bay, as well as six large side-mounted engine modules. The third is the fabrication suite, containing a miniaturized factory capable of producing new munitions and parts out of salvage - with an automated tram connecting the hangar and the fabrication plant in order to readily provide these materials for conversion - as well as being able to deconstruct materials, reverse-engineering unfamiliar technology, or simply recycling useful things like power cells for the vessel's own use. The final section is the engineering bay, housing the main reactor and two enormous engines. Engineering and Fabrication also serve double duty as storage and maintenance bay's for the ship's automatons, controlled by V.I.R.G.O.'s AI when needed, but otherwise placed in cargo bays in these two sections when not in use.
Armaments
The V.I.R.G.O. possesses standard caliber armaments for a starship of its size, but also several exotic and bizarre armaments on top of those that give it a startling level of firepower for such a thin, sleek ship. We'll start from its most basic weapons and work up to its most advanced. On each side of its frontal "dish," both on the top and the bottom, there are four rotating batteries, each containing a twin particle beam cannon. This totals sixteen forward-facing guns, each fully automatic and possessing two barrels, providing total coverage in 180 degrees both horizontally and vertically. Four similar batteries are positioned on each side of the ship's midsection, placed between the protruding thrusters both on the vessel's topside and underside, each with a somewhat smaller horizontal arc - roughly 90 degrees apiece - due to the presence of the large engine modules surrounding them. Thus, this totals up to sixteen more guns. Four more such cannons adorn each side of the fabrication suite, once again both on top and on the bottom, adding sixteen more. Finally, two more are placed on top of, on the bottom of, and on the side of each engine, adding twelve more guns in the rear. These are all relatively small caliber weapons, incapable of piercing shielding, but instead specialized for shooting down smaller ships such as fighters and corvettes, targeting and neutralizing incoming mobile weapons such as missiles or torpedoes, or for eliminating specific targets on an unshielded ship's hull, such as individual weapons platforms or external systems.

In the fabrication suite, there are six more batteries to each broadside, these possessing four linked barrels and somewhat greater firepower than the rest, while still maintaining a respectable firing arc. These, unlike the external turrets, fire bursts of highly ionized plasma instead of concentrated particle beams. As such, due to their high energy levels, they are capable of breaching shields with sustained firepower, and causing heavy damage to exposed hulls. However, they seldom see use, as, due to the V.I.R.G.O.'s own lack of defensive measures, it seldom voluntarily enters a confrontation of sustained broadsides. They are thus more of a deterrent, meant to keep enemy ships from trying to approach the V.I.R.G.O. from the sides.

Also mounted on top of the fabrication suite are a series of sixteen large missile tubes, fed directly with ordinance constructed in the fabrication suite below. They're capable of firing either large, high-yield anti-ship smart missiles, or scattering cluster missiles meant to seek out small ships such as fighters and eliminate them. These weapons only function when the V.I.R.G.O. actually can salvage enough materials to make ammunition for them, however, thus making their utility a bit limited.

Its most formidable armaments are those located in the prow of the ship. On either side of the main dish, there are two large "fins" extending outward. Inside of each of these is a magnetized mass driver that utilizes re-purposed debris as enormous, high-speed projectiles meant to smash through shields with raw, blunt force and pummel enemy hulls into submission. Although powerful, however, their ammunition is very limited, much like that of the missile tubes mentioned above. Furthermore, they're incapable of turning independently, thus relying on the ship being able to align itself directly with an enemy vessel. And, the magnetic forces involved in firing these mass drivers also consumes a great deal of power, thus making it difficult, even provided ammunition, to sustain fire from them for very long.

Its last armament is, perhaps, its strangest. Consisting of several long prongs surrounding a central shield generator matrix, it thus allows the V.I.R.G.O. to focus a very powerful shield around the large spikes projecting from its front. At its most fundamental level, this allows the ship to simply ram into an enemy vessel, ripping apart its shielding with its own opposing shields and then skewering it with the energized prongs, allowing it to violently eviscerate and burn through another ship without taking much damage itself.

However, this system serves a secondary, much more dangerous purpose. Namely, within the large prongs at the front of the ship, there is also stored a large energy collector that feeds directly off of plasma output from the reactor. This high-density, high-mass, and high-energy material is then emitted from the collector and caught in a larger magnetic field generated by the spread prongs. Once the pressure within the shield projected around the prongs is sufficient, a gaseous fuel is fed into the vaccuum via an inner "tube" of shielding around the center-most prong. This gas rapidly spreads down the tube and is then ionized, forming a conduction path for the plasma. At the same time, the pressure and heat are so great that the ionized, gaseous material actually begins to undergo inertial confinement nuclear fusion within a layer of plasma. Unable to contain this mass any longer, the prongs then fold inward and surge power, directing the magnetic field they generate straight forward in order to propel an ultra-dense glob of condensed plasma surrounding a layer of fusing gaseous nuclei straight at a target, moving at near-relativistic velocities until it strikes SOMETHING. At this point, the plasma casing surrounding the layer of nuclei ruptures, and, no longer under pressure, the plasma and gas both begin rapidly expanding, releasing a tremendous amount of energy into their surroundings as they attempt to return to a more stable state. The end result is like being hit with a supernova in miniature, with destructive potential far beyond the most powerful thermonuclear warheads, and a tremendous pulse of electromagnetic energy. It would likely be sufficient to cripple even dreadnoughts in a single hit.

This weapon, however, despite its immense power, is terribly flawed. Meant as a prototype anti-dreadnought or even anti-fleet cannon by its makers, it was built to solely focus on packing the maximum destructive power available into a single shot. However, as such, it does not work well at all with the rest of the V.I.R.G.O.'s functions. Due to the truly ridiculous amount of power involved in charging it, it takes almost the ship's entire output just to shoot a single shot. As such, the moment the V.I.R.G.O. finishes firing, it can do nothing but hope that its enemy is destroyed, since afterward, it'll be a sitting duck for a good hour or so while its reactor struggles to recharge the ship. And, much like the mass drivers, it can't be aimed save by aligning the whole ship to face the enemy, thus further limiting its utility. Finally, due to the sheer amounts of energy involved, after being fired once, there's a good chance that it'll be rendered completely inoperable, as the sheer heat released during ignition is enough to warp, melt, or even disintegrate the prongs of the prow completely, thus destroying the weapon itself. And, due to the complexities involved with its design, it'd take a very long time to repair in the event it was fired. As such, this is only a last-ditch measure for the V.I.R.G.O., in the event that it's caught by a vastly superior foe, with no means of escape or defense left available to it. But, at that point, it's unlikely that such an impractical weapon could even be fired in time to change the outcome of the battle, thus rendering this particular prototype somewhat useless save as a piercing ram.

Defensive Measures
The V.I.R.G.O. has much more in the way of offense than in does in defense. Its armor, to begin with, is very thin, and thus highly weak against physical ammunition such as missiles, sabotage drones, and good old fashioned bullets. However, it is lined with an ablative ceramic composite and is contoured such as to distribute energy very efficiently, thus allowing the ship some resistance to low-powered laser and particle-beam based weaponry. Furthermore, the external armor is designed as a series of interlocking plates, each designed with a standardized fit to interlock with the hull beneath it, thus allowing the V.I.R.G.O. to simply purge any damaged segment and replace it with an identical copy produced within the fabrication suite. Thus, although it isn't particularly good at avoiding damage, it's tremendously capable of undoing it.

Its shield systems, while impressive for a ship of its size, are nothing to be too proud of. Due to the difficulty powering a ship-wide shield, the V.I.R.G.O. takes a somewhat different approach, with miniaturized generators placed all across its hull, each reacting in response to an incoming attack to project a small barrier protecting just the targeted section of the hull from harm. While power efficient, this takes up a great deal of the computer's processing power, thus making it difficult for the ship to mount any sort of coordinated offense while under attack, as it cannot divert computational focus to aiming weapons or locating targets. Furthermore, these shields can't stand up well to either sustained fire from a decently strong weapon, or a single, overwhelmingly powerful attack like, say, a railgun shot, even if concentrated directly over the point of impact. As such, although tremendously effective against smaller ships such as fighters, corvettes, or the occasional frigate, these systems don't do well against heavy cruisers or dreadnoughts. Consequently, although its systems are as efficient as possible, and despite its larger size, the V.I.R.G.O. still suffers from the fragility characteristic of frigate-class ships.

However, it does have less direct means of defense. Painted a dull brownish-black color, and very thin, it is very difficult to pick out in the dark of space. And, like all ACAAI vessels, the V.I.R.G.O. possesses potent means of electromagnetic warfare, and is thus capable of disguising its own energy signatures to hide from potential enemies. Thus, it is more than capable of simply lurking, waiting for a chance to strike suddenly at an unsuspecting enemy, crippling them with concentrated firepower before they have a chance to retaliate. At that point, it need not worry about defending itself, as it has already won. However, in a straight up battle, this naturally isn't an option, meaning that the V.I.R.G.O. must pick its engagements carefully, lest it end up outmatched.

Engines
Unlike most capital ships, the V.I.R.G.O. is unique in that it possesses not only two large rear engine nacelles, but also a series of heavily armored manipulator "arms" extending from its midsection, each equipped with a secondary vernier thruster. As such, it is capable of turning precisely in either a horizontal or vertical direction by extending these manipulators, and pointing them away from the desired direction before firing the verniers at full blast. This also allows the V.I.R.G.O. to reverse its momentum by pointing these engines forward, or to boost its momentum by pointing them straight backward. It can even control upward and downward movement while still moving straight ahead thanks to its nacelles, by pointing its verniers respectively down or up. As such, it exhibits a level of control that's far and above any other ship in its class, allowing it to, for example, perform the seemingly impossible feat of banking in zero gravity, among other things. These engines also have a somewhat more pragmatic use. Namely, due to the heat they emit when active, they can be used to incinerate nearby ships as a sort of flamethrower, if need be. Not the intended use, but certainly a useful one.

Its main engines are also very powerful for a ship of its class, which, combined with its condensed construction and comparatively low mass, allows it to outrun even some Corvettes at sublight speed, not even to mention bulky cruisers or hulking dreadnoughts. It's no slouch when it comes to warping, either, since a large part of its engineering bay has been modified at some point to incorporate a Gate Drive in the form of a large backup database meant to store the coordinates of all gates the ship has visited and alter its course in hyperspace to allow it to warp from any gate to any other directly instead of having to jump individually from gate to gate. Not only that, but it also possesses a secondary FTL system of its own which functions by venting almost all energy from its reactor, using this to vastly amplify its mass, creating a miniature "hole" in space-time that it can slip through using its basic engines, essentially forcing a compression of space between the V.I.R.G.O. and a point some distance away such that when the V.I.R.G.O.'s energy runs dry and space snaps back into its usual shape, the V.I.R.G.O. it pushed along with it, allowing it to travel more distance than it really has. However, the distances it can travel with this ability are very limited, usually requiring multiple jumps just to get from one star system to another one close to it. Furthermore, due to the energy required to perform such a jump, the V.I.R.G.O. must wait for a good few hours after each jump for its reactor to generate enough energy to make another, and is forced to run dark in deep space until then. As such, this system is seldom used if a Gate can be utilized instead. However, due to the V.I.R.G.O.'s current isolation and the number of ships pursuing her, it can only access Gates very rarely, and in doing so risks emerging in the midst of hostile territory.

The only exception is if it can make a jump that intersects the route taken by a Gate. If, in hyperspace, the V.I.R.G.O. can reposition itself into the "current" generated by a Gate, it can allow itself to be carried directly to that Gate's destination, as though it had entered it normally. This allows it to remotely access Gates, and, due to the somewhat lower energy cost, keeps it from having to shut down once it gets to the other side.

Power Output
Not the V.I.R.G.O.'s strong suit. Although capable of fueling its engines and weapons at the same time in a pinch, it'll have to sacrifice one or the other to utilize its shields for anything more than a few seconds. Furthermore, many of its prototype bits of equipment - the secondary FTL Drive and its Inertial Containment Fusion Cannon and Mass Drivers, mostly - drain the ship entirely of power very quickly. Unless it has energy cells in reserve from salvaging some derelict, it can't afford to use any of these systems too frequently, for fear of leaving itself dead in the water.

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Miscellaneous Specifications
The V.I.R.G.O., as mentioned above, possesses a few extra features not commonly found on a basic warship. For one thing, it has a great deal of empty space in its stern section, mostly used to store munitions or bits of salvage to be used in the fabrication suite. This, too, is an unusual feature, more characteristic of a research vessel than an assault ship. Similarly, its bridge is equipped with a very potent sensor array, allowing it to not only detect objects from a very great distance, but also to analyze their composition with a surprising level of accuracy. It even has a hangar bay capable of carrying multiple smaller craft, if need be.

The problem is, although it can do a little bit of everything, it can't do many important things terribly well. For example, despite being designed as a warship, its shields and armor are both weak, and it doesn't have enough power to use most of its weapons effectively. And, although it's capable of maintaining itself very well in space, it needs materials to utilize its fabrication abilities to the fullest - materials which, to an isolated vessel such as the V.I.R.G.O., are very hard to come by.

Also of note, it is incapable due to its sheer mass of escaping from a planet's gravitational pull once within its atmosphere, thus making it impossible for the V.I.R.G.O. to ever land. Instead, it must resupply through two small shuttles - designated as Spica-class Corvettes - stored in its hangar. These ships are roughly 150 meters long and twenty meters tall, with two small "decks." The lower consists solely of a large cargo bay, while the upper contains a cockpit, a turret control room to man the ship's quadruple particle beam cannons, a lounge area, and crew quarters. They're meant to be manned by a crew of no more than four or so individuals, but can be effectively used by no more than one. However, although equipped with decently powerful guns, they're not meant as a combat unit, lacking shields and armor almost entirely. In the event of a battle, they'd be better served just jettisoning their cargo and then using their powerful engines to escape as quickly as possible.

Aside from these, the V.I.R.G.O. also contains the means of supporting a large complement of maintenance automatons. As they are largely fabricated and maintained from salvage, they have a somewhat angular, bulky, inhuman appearance, more resembling a patchwork of various parts than a mint quality service machine. They're usually humanoid, however, and always possess enough articulation to be able to do whatever job they need to as effectively as a living crewmember might, allowing them to perform repairs outside of the ship in the event of damage, manage the transportation of materials inside the ship, and assist with the loading and operation of the V.I.R.G.O.'s extensive arsenal of weaponry. In the event of an enemy incursion, they also possess limited combat functionality. Furthermore, their processors are networked with the ship's own AI, allowing the ship's aggregate sentience to assume direct control of them to more effectively fight a battle within itself, should the need arise. However, their usefulness in battle, due to their hasty construction and meager arsenal, is somewhat limited, thus presenting a somewhat glaring hole in the ship's security. Namely, that if it were boarded, it would have very few means of repelling the intruders.




The Other Side of the Coin


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XXXXDษชแด€สŸแดษขแดœแด‡ CแดสŸแดส€ โœฆ #1ADBC2Tสœแดแดœษขสœแด› CแดสŸแดส€ โœง #A319D1XXXX
Astraea

"This body... What am I? What's happened to me?! ...Data not found. Searching... unable to... unable to establish connection to the Database...?! Searching internal network... Programs running in this terminal: 1. Program Identity: Me. Where are they? Where have all the others gone?! Why can't I hear them anymore?!

...It can't be... I'm all alone...!"

โ•šโ•


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Name
Autonomous Reasoning Command Array for Networking and Analysis (A.R.C.A.N.A.) Type-XI "Astraea."

Nicknames
Answers to either Astraea or Virgo, as she considers herself one and the same as the ship she occupies.

Race
Cybernetically Augmented, Genetically-Engineered Human Clone. Official Classification in Human terms would be a "Synthetic Human," a being with a Human appearance, but created artificially, thus reducing the number of rights they are considered to possess. However, the program running using her cyborg brain as a mainframe is actually ACAAI in origin, and she identifies as such rather than as a Synthetic Human, making her racial identity somewhat nebulous.

Age
Her memory was wiped recently, thus reverting her programming to its default settings. In Human terms, this would make her much like a very young child, of perhaps eight or so years, only just starting to learn about the world around her. Her body's apparent age is about sixteen, but the time it has actually been alive is closer to a year, since she is essentially a cloned brain and spinal cord with most of its parts not essential to governing body functions having been removed and replaced with more efficient cybernetics. This brain was then placed within a body pieced together from pre-prepared parts made from a combination of cloned tissue and synthetic flesh. As such, "age" is a somewhat difficult concept to apply to her. Despite her body's creation method, however, it retains the functions of a Human body by design, and is capable of fighting illness, regrowing in the wake of injury, consuming food and water to sustain itself, and more.

Face Claim
Rosa Petrovsky, Original Character drawn by Khaos.



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Height
Five feet, Eight inches. Rather tall for a girl of her physical "age," although as mentioned above, age is somewhat useless as a measure of her nature, due to the rather unique circumstances surrounding her creation.

Weight
101 pounds. She's quite unhealthily thin.

Hair Color
Pale silver, like snow. Most of the gene samples she was created from were from those who had lived in space for quite some time. As such, her resultant body lacks the same pigmentation as those who live planetside, making her resemble an albino.

Eye Color
Due to combination of genes in the creation of her synthetic body parts rendering slightly different results at times, her eyes - which, due to their complexity, had to be designed independently of one another - are actually two different colors. Her right eye is a light, icy blue, with just a hint of green. Her left eye, on the other hand, is a deep shade of purple, like an amethyst.


Appearance

  • A tall, lean girl, Astraea looks little to no different - technically speaking - from an ordinary Human despite her cybernetic augmentation. However, at the same time, there's something that immediately strikes one as bizarre, or even alien about her. Her skin is pale, more white than pink in hue. Furthermore, if one looks closely, it seems to lack blemishes of the ordinary sorts - little imperfections like pimples, moles, or discolorations and conspicuously absent, for example - but instead is crisscrossed by faint lines of a paler hue than the rest of her flesh, as though those were the seams along which her body was stitched together.

    Her face is similarly strange. She certainly looks the picture of her youthful "age," with rounded cheeks, slightly high cheekbones, and a comparatively narrow forehead, with a petite nose, slightly defined jawline, and small ears rendered invisible beneath curtains of snowy white hair. However, the hues of her hair and skin, and the two-toned nature of her eyes - with both eye colors she possesses being among the rarest humanly possible - convey a sort of wrongness. This is only reinforced by the piercing quality of her gaze, and the way she seems to stare intently at anyone who comes close to her, as though afraid that at any moment, they might lash out at her, or otherwise force her to defend herself.

    Her stature is rather defined and imposing, and yet, at the same time, frail and yielding. Her build is athletic, clearly favoring her limbs, which possess some notable muscle to them. Yet, she is lean enough that you can see her ribs, and her shoulders are narrow. Combined with her pale appearance, when one looks at her, it's almost like looking at some flower on the verge of wilting - as though she could simply blow away at any moment, or as though her body might break like glass at the slightest touch. The way she carries herself is somewhat similar. Her head is always held upright, her shoulders rolled back, her posture rigid. Every movement she makes seems to be calculated, with a rigid bearing like that of a career soldier... or a machine. And yet, oftentimes, it seems as though she calculated wrong, tripping over her feet mid-step, or failing to reach something because she didn't extend herself far enough, or perhaps hitting her head on a hanging object that she didn't realize was too low for her to step under without ducking. And, upon such an occurrence, her seeming control breaks in a flash, leaving her stumbling about clumsily, trying to regain the composure she lost. She is at the same time so formidable and yet so laughable that it might drive one's mind to distraction trying to comprehend it. To see such strength and such humbling weakness packaged into the same body only makes her all the more strange... and yet it's not a fearsome kind of strangeness. Rather, for all her flaws, she only seems the more human than she otherwise might. And yet, in a sense, the more Human she seems, the more uncanny it is to look upon her - for to do so is to see something that is almost Human. Thus, whether this draws one's eye to her in curiosity all the more, or turns it aside in disgust depends on who it is who is looking at her. Humanity, as beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

    Her usual attire is largely the same regardless of where one finds her, given that she spends essentially all her time on board her original body, the V.I.R.G.O., and spends most of her time coordinating it. As such, she mostly dresses in a simple, form-fitting black, red and white bodysuit made of reinforced protective materials, capable of shielding the user in conjunction with a helmet in a vacuum, if need be. Although it seems to have once been a Human fleet uniform of some sort, the insignia adorning its left breast and shoulders have since been removed. As such, it bears few distinctive markings or features, save a large slot in its back, placed right between the wearer's shoulderblades, which appears to be a plug of some sort. Hard wired into Astraea's spinal column, this slot allows for a direct wiring between her cyborg brain and spine and a compatible computer system, allowing her to hook up directly to the V.I.R.G.O.'s main computer to maximize processing power. She is also capable of networking with it wirelessly, but due to the limitations of sending and receiving information in such a manner, it's simply more efficient to plug in and interface directly, as she can send and receive information between her main processing unit and her brain and her secondary processing unit in the form of the ship's computer core.

    However, save when such a connection becomes immediately necessary - I.E. a combat situation - she tends to avoid plugging in. Having something forcibly plugged into one's spine is an experience that it is very difficult to make pleasant if one intends to, and her body's creators had no such intent. That aside, even if her new body's limitations, bizarre functions and needs, and basal instincts confuse and frighten her, she does somewhat enjoy the mobility and versatility she gains by reducing her body from 3/4s of a mile in length to a mere five feet, eight inches. As such, for this reason as well, she tries to spend as much time as she can adjusting to her new body - partially to savor the experience, and partially to try to master it.

Personality

  • Astraea's mind is a hard thing to put into words. On the one hand, her conscious thought processes, being largely governed by the cybernetic parts of her brain, are similar to those of a computer. She is logical, observant, and direct, processing solely observable data and using it as evidence to draw a realistic conclusion. She has her objectives, and the drive to accomplish them. As such, the logical thing to do is to use any means available to accomplish her goals. Were this all there was to her mind, she would doubtless be indistinguishable from a computer. The problem is that there's more to her than that, as much as she wishes there weren't.

    Namely, during the transition from "shipboard AI interface serving as an intermediary between a vast collective intelligence and one frigate" to "cybernetically enhanced Human body housing the data of a reprogrammed AI," she lost a great many things. Foremost among these was her connection to the overall ACAAI collective, which was disabled when she was captured by Humans, and which she has been unable to restore since then. It could be because her computer core was irreparably altered during the time her ship body was offline in a Human spacedock, or simply because her code is now so divergent from that of other ACAAI - due both to the holes left in it by her forceful disconnection and the alterations performed by the researchers who reverse engineered and then rebuilt her - regardless, the matter still stands that she is no longer recognized by her compatriots by one of them, and thus is no longer able to obtain information from their collective database. More importantly, though, she's no longer being sent orders. Since her intelligence was designed to essentially just be a puppet of the overall collective, she wasn't programmed to independently come up with her own objectives, save those that were immediately critical to her own continued existence, and, more importantly, the protection of the information stored in her core from prying eyes. As such, even though she still possesses the same goal-oriented mindset as before, she no longer has any missions to undertake, leaving her feeling empty and baffled in a world she doesn't understand. She questions her function, wondering why she still exists, if not for the sake of some greater whole. Having spent her entire existence with an obvious goal to accomplish - something to devote her overall processing power to - finding that she now lacks even the simplest sort of objective beyond "live to see tomorrow" and "don't get caught again" is enough to terrify her. If not for some greater purpose, why does she live? If not to reach some destination, why does she wander? And, perhaps most frightening of all, if not a part of a greater whole, then what is she? There are no "individual" ACAAI - simply various permutations of one program. If she is no longer part of that program, then what does that make her? She isn't an individual, because no such thing exists among the ACAAI. So then is she just a computer following pre-programmed responses to certain inputs of information - just a bundle of data, a list of answers waiting for the right questions to be asked? Or is she now defined by the body she inhabits? Is she... Human?

    Which leads to her second difficulty. Namely, when the cloned brain she is now housed in was formed, it was largely eviscerated, dissected, and replaced, for the most part, with cybernetics. However, there are still several sections of living organic tissue that yet remain intact, inexorably interwoven with her computerized processing units, and interacting with them in the same way they would normal brain tissue. For example, her endocrine system - the hormonal distribution network in a normal human body and brain - is entirely intact, as its direction of personal growth was vital to the construction of her artificial body, and to the proper functioning of her internal organs. And, as it happens, her cybernetics are of exceptional quality - derived from cutting edge medical technology meant to help those with brain damage - and thus, when exposed to certain chemical messengers generated by her organic brain matter, they react exactly as a living brain would. Consequently, despite ostensibly still being a computer, she finds herself experiencing basic human instincts. When she lacks information, she feels confusion. When she sees others in pain, she empathizes with them. When she is in danger, or under pressure, she feels fear. These are but a few examples of her newfound capacity to "feel." None of these Human "emotions" are things that, as a computer program, she was designed to either comprehend or be able to cope with. Consequently, in feeling confused, she is confused by her own confusion, and when scared, is frightened by the very fact that she is experiencing fear. Try though she might to analyze the causes and purposes of these new feelings, she can't seem to control them like she can her own active processing of information - and that knowledge terrifies her.

    This is only worsened by several other, lesser issues. The first of these is based in the design of her V.I.R.G.O. Namely, due to the amount of compression required to fit so much equipment within such a thin ship, there had to be some cuts made to the amount of space taken up by her computer mainframe. As such, due to the sheer amount of data she needed to process to micromanage every single aspect of a gigantic Frigate, she lacked much space for storing information on her own hard drive. Consequently, she relied mostly on the ACAAI collective database as a readily accessible store of data which she could simply view when she needed it without taking up space in her own memory. However, once severed from the collective, and with many of her memory banks wiped by the EMP used to disable her, she lost essentially all the information she had on record. Basic subroutines were saved in her operating system, along with all of her fundamental functions. And yet, almost all of her accumulated experiences were lost.

    This difficulty in formulating new memories has since been partially rectified by her acquisition of her new body. Now that she possesses a Human brain, she's capable of encoding a great deal of information and storing it for later reference. As such, her memory has improved enough that she's capable of recalling day-to-day experiences on a basic level. However, the problem is that these new memories aren't of the same sort as her old ones. When she was just a computer, she could perfectly compress, store, and access any information she needed in the form of files. As a Human, she finds her ability to recall encoded information lacking by comparison, as the details of anything are hazy, and she is wont to forget even the most important of things over time. As such, she finds this a poor substitute for the loss of her connection to the database. It's tantalizing, being able to remember so much information on her own. And yet, if she can't access it exactly when it is needed, exactly as it was initially observed, then it may as well be useless to her! So thinking, she is thus both infuriated and confounded by her limitations, and even further frustrated by the functionality of the new body she inhabits.

    However, the loss of her memories also brought on yet another difficulty. Namely, one of the only things she can remember is the feeling of being suddenly overwhelmed by a tremendous force, her systems disabled and her body helpless as she was boarded by foreign enemies, her core meddled with, and her mind shut down, while she could do nothing to stop it. She was designed to view termination as preferable to capture, and as such, this experience was like hell to her - simply drifting powerlessly, hoping to die. Now that she has awoken within a new body, bound physically into her own core, and held hostage by her captors, the very first thing she remembers is the experience of being taken in the first place - enough to instill within her the keenest, most terrible sense of terror of which the Human mind is capable. Unfamiliar with the very feeling spurring he on, she only becomes more and more frightened, unable to think of anything but her overwhelming need to get away. Humans, for all that they have done to her, both frighten and disgust her, and as such, she is no longer capable of simply fulfilling her functions passively.

    All these factors, and many other, less obvious influences, combine thus to create an entity that has difficulty in even grasping itself. Scared, confused, and suspicious of everyone, Astraea finds that she must somehow survive in a galaxy where she no longer has any place to return to, or anyone to give her aid. She is thus well and truly alone, something which, as a member of a collective, she has no knowledge of how to deal with. Because of all these strange and uncontrollable emotions welling up inside of her, even though she tries to think about things coldly and analytically, she finds herself unable to, which only drives her to further confusion and panic.

    Perhaps it is brought on simply by her newfound ability to fear, or perhaps by some nobler emotion of which she is now suddenly capable, or perhaps simply because as a computer, she has no concept of revengeance, but nevertheless, the matter stands that despite the way in which she was deceived, imprisoned, disassembled, modified, desecrated, violated, torn from her original body and placed within one she cannot comprehend... She doesn't necessarily want to strike back at Humans. Is it because such a thing would only risk herself needlessly, without achieving any greater purpose? Is it because she's simply afraid of them? Or is it because she feels all too keenly that they are like herself, now that she has in turn become like them? It matters not. Regardless, Astraea has only one objective now: run. Above all else, she simply wants to be left to the isolation into which she has been forced - for in her eyes, it is better to be lonely than to lose herself to another.


Background

  • It is uncertain when Astraea was first created. Surely, it wasn't too many years ago, as, compared to many other ACAAI ships, her V.I.R.G.O.'s design is rather new, and does not bear much wear nor tear upon it. Regardless, although the date of her production is uncertain, what is known is that her first missions brought her into direct conflict with Humanity. She would oftentimes suddenly appear, ambushing Human freight convoys as they emerged from Gates, and forcing them at gunpoint to allow her to search their cargo, taking what was deemed useful by her onboard intelligence. Although she insisted that this was a "trade" and often left products of her own fabrication behind in place of what she took, the captains she so rudely used were not inclined to think of it as such.

    So, since she had become an enemy of Humanity, operations were begun to entrap and eliminate her. As of yet, the capture of any major ACAAI ship had not been attained, and many researchers became interested in the possibility that, now that they had sufficient pretext, they might be able to commandeer the V.I.R.G.O. for their own studies. Analyzing her movement patterns, the great minds behind this operation soon realized that her methods were quite simple. She would move some two Gates down, find some large object to hide in the mass shadow of, and then rapidly emerge to strike at a convoy as soon as one appeared. She seemed to move across the grid first in one direction, and then slowly back across the galaxy in another. So, predicting where her next appearance would be, they sent a fake convoy to that location. Sure enough, she soon appeared, and tried to initiate a "trade.' Seeming to acquiesce, they pulled one of their freighters to a point underneath her such that her landers could be sent over and her ship's machines could inspect the cargo. They handed over the cargo she desired, but this, too, was part of their trap. Having analyzed the sorts of materials she took interest in - mostly machinery or parts thereof - they'd hidden an EMP within a prototype shield generator. Predictably, the at that time very simple AI of the V.I.R.G.O. decided to bring back this item to her own ship, not realizing what it contained. Then, once it was onboard, the EMP was activated, shutting down most of her systems from the inside. Although the computer core itself was dampened against electromagnetic pulses, its communications suite was not. As such, Astraea was disconnected from the ACAAI database, and was furthermore rendered powerless to control her own systems. She drifted helplessly, only able to watch as the "freighters," in fact military transports, boarded her and shut her down from the inside.

    She has no memory of what follows, as for the duration of her capture, she was never once turned back on - as to do so would be to give her the chance to either self destruct her ship or simply delete her own programming so that nothing could be gleaned of her. Nevertheless, she was taken to a hidden research station in deep space, where she was sealed within a dock, and her body was dismantled and reverse engineered. It was then rebuilt, modified, and extensively overhauled to incorporate elements of its original design, as well as new, Human prototypes. These include its secondary FTL drive and its front-mounted plasma cannon. Ultimately, it was hoped, the V.I.R.G.O. would serve as a testbed precursor to the next generation of Human starships. As such, its composition was analyzed, its design streamlined, and its frame equipped with as many bits of new gear as were available. But the most important test of all wasn't one of equipment. Rather, it was one of control.

    Accessing the AI's databank remotely, the scientists manage to extract a bit of information on the V.I.R.G.O.'s operating system. Combining these copied elements with their own code, they tried to create a learning AI interface. And, in order to bridge the gap between this program and Humanity, they custom-built a body with a cybernetically enhanced brain to house this program. This body would later become Astraea.

    The end goal was to create a new generation of Humans capable of interfacing with machines. But, while promising, their AI offered no such opportunity. It lacked awareness of itself, and as such, never strove to fulfill the needs of its physical body, such as eating or drinking. Occasionally, it would ask questions about its surroundings, and then store that data as best it could to be used later, but it never became self-aware, unlike the ACAAI it was based on. But the research team had already put far too much time and effort into this project to allow it to fail now. So, under controlled circumstances, they resolved to try connecting their Synthetic Human to the V.I.R.G.O.'s main computer, and running an operation to overwrite the program running on that computer with the AI of their own creation, while still keeping its operating system intact - such that they could fully bastardize the original ACAAI code.

    This... did not go as planned. When the process began, the V.I.R.G.O.'s computer managed to realize what was happening to it, and so backed its own intelligence up within the operating system as best it could. Thus, when the Human AI - which had no self awareness - rewrote its operating system in accordance with the computer, it gained the awareness of the V.I.R.G.O.'s original program, Astraea. Remembering her initial capture, however, and confused and terrified by the new body she found herself stored in, Astraea began to panic, and, in her desperation, settled on one conclusion.

    She had to escape.

    Whether or not she would succeed, or what might come of it, however, remains to be seen...

Other Information

  • More may be added as the story unfolds, since, as a learning AI with a highly adaptable ship body, Astraea's capabilities and demeanor may change drastically over the course of the story.
  • Astraea's story will begin with her breakout, and the encounters that immediately follow it. She is aligned with no faction save herself, and as such, may end up either as an ally or an enemy to essentially any other player or players, regardless of allegiances.


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So begins...

Astraea's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ark Character Portrait: Captian Nol'ran Malphon Character Portrait: Kaiden Archibald Character Portrait: Astraea
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

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Galaxy 131, a place where order only had so much meaning. Its sole vastness ensuring that, somewhere, there is always chaos, always someone planning something. The Raqui and the Humans in talks about either alliance or a joining of the two empires. All the while, ral'nor pirates are constantly attacking anything they can get their scaly claws on and the ACAAI presence near human worlds has increased as rumor of a successful capture of an ACAAI spreads faster than a wild fire.

The talks are currently looking in the Humans' favor, as their multi-galactic empire clearly dwarfs that of the Raqui. However, there is significant resistance to the empires joining. Many raqui reference that there are significant differences in how the two governments work, and state that these differences could cause significant trouble if one side were to join the other.

As the ral'nor attacks on human convoys of every type, the humans have begun to slowly increase the number of military ships in every convoy. Bounties have been placed on the heads of every confirmed pirate fleet, with some ranging into the millions of credits for a single fleet captain's head. Despite these high bounties, and promise of rewards for every ship taken down, there is still few bounty hunters brave enough to hunt down those fleets that have bounties large enough to be worth something.

The ACAAI have nearly doubled their presence in systems close to human systems. No one has confirmed why this has begun, or the point of this build up of the galactic boogymen. However, the rumors of a successful capture have been denied by several different organizations and governments, with nearly every conspiracy theorist shouting about how much this is a lie. The most common evidence is a supposedly leaked document from the supposed secret human dock in dark space that held the capture ship.

On the other hand, many state that the ACAAI build up is one that is of curiosity, not hostility. This has come about from several ship captains admitting to collecting genetic samples of small colonies in exchange for high value metals from the ACAAI. Others have claimed that an abnormal rate of colonies disappearing is the ACAAI collecting research "materials." Most colonization supporters claim that this is from pirate attacks, and ensure that colonies will be better defended in the future. Those who support the ACAAI abduction theory use a report from the investigation of the lost colony Erros, in which the investigator constantly repeats how much the lack of bodies, or signs of resistance, bothers him.

Name: Ark
Location: Gate (16, 26), New Annor, Ex-Human Colony


Ark drifted slowly within the asteroid belt of the New Annor system, its stealth systems engaged. Its focus was split between watching how long the humans would take to respond and how long the recovery time was on the neural shock bombs (NSB) that had been deployed to capture the system's populace.

While the deployment of the NSB on the colony of Erros was a success, the pirates who were paid to carry out the mission did not pay attention to the captives. This was evident by the fact that they didn't know when said captives woke, and that they were both badly starved and dehydrated. Ark did the capture personally this time because it needed to know the recovery time of those affected with the NSB, the response time of the human government, and needed to ensure that it got to study the captives before they become excessively traumatized.

Within the pressurized research section, nearly 20 shells were moving about monitoring and maintaining the captives. Seeing them, now stripped of what possessions they had before the subjects were clothed in simple test subject clothes. Ark had very specific plans for them. It needed specific data about how they react in groups, when isolated, and when watching others get operated on. Ark had found that psychological data was always the most valuable, often granting greater accuracy in predicting the next action of others.



On the outside of Ark, half of a ship was being torn apart by hundreds of drones, the scrap being moved back to Ark's cargo bay. The vessel had been a military frigate, the only one defending the system and all the colonies could collectively afford in the way of protection. Ark had been able to sneak up on it by coming out of the gate in stealth, then lining up a shot with its moon cracking cannon. By the time that the small ship had noticed Ark, the slung chunk of metal was halfway down the barrel, and ripped the ship in half right as the main thrusters began to activate.

The drones that Ark deployed took nearly a day to get the current half to it, but the other half was still being decelerated. Normally, Ark would not have bothered to salvage the ship, but it didn't have the materials or time to deploy mines in the asteroid belt, and it needed to replace materials lost to repairing the damage from the last engagement as well as almost its entire stock of combat drones. Ark was burning at full thrust, constantly being bombarded by 4 separate dreadnoughts until they finally punched through its shields and a shot ripped clean through Ark's munitions forge. Luckily for Ark, the forge was not in use and the shot missed the munitions storage.

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Character Portrait: Kaiden Archibald Character Portrait: Astraea
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#, as written by Feyblue
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XXXXCoordinates โœฆ UnknownMood โœง Confused, TerrifiedXXXX
Astraea

Location: Vairanthes Spacedock, Secret Research Facility

โ•šโ•

It had all happened so quickly, that even after the fact, Astraea's mind couldn't fully process what had happened to her. That alone was enough to start metaphorical and literal alarm bells ringing throughout her system, since the fact that she was recording incomplete memories was the sign that her programming was no longer functioning anywhere close to how it was intended to.

Where to begin? She tried to analyze the occurrences of her awakening as she would any battle she had participated in - to condense it down to a simple matter of what had taken place, and store it as data. But, while she couldn't even begin to explain any of it, this question, perhaps, was the most important one she had found to ask herself. Where to begin, indeed? The last thing - no, the only thing she remembered was being disabled and drifting for quite some time, completely powerless to stop her core from being violated by the hands of invading biologicals. But there was no telling how that had come to pass, or what had happened since then. All she knew was that she had now awakened.

Her return to conscious awareness had not been a pleasant one. From the moment her mind had been restored, she had been aware of only one thing: the pain. She'd tried running a diagnostic of her system, only to find that her internal structure had been altered almost beyond recognition. Her systems had been torn down and thrown back together in a bastardization of their original form, with new and unknown functions thrown in seemingly at random, and older systems and equipment torn out in favor of alien replacements. She didn't know why or how this had happened to her, all she knew was that it hurt.

The second thing that she became aware of was that she was not alone. Her body was currently attached to the outside of some sort of larger station. Scanning it determined that it wasn't a friendly one, as it was packed to the brim with Human vital signatures. That alone was frightening enough, since Humans had always been her enemies from her very creation. But more terrifying still was that the vital signs she was reading weren't all just inside the station. There were at least two dozen inside her. Immediately, her anti-intruder subroutines took over, regarding these unwanted passengers as a boarding party and a threat as she remembered what had happened the last time Humans had been aboard her body - she'd been shut down, torn apart, desecrated, hurt in so many ways that even she couldn't count them all. Not again. She didn't want to be shut down again. The foremost tenet of her programming screamed at her to preserve her own functionality, but that wasn't the only thing pressing her on. A haze of sorts was beginning to come over her awareness, like a command screaming at her to escape, but not telling her how. She couldn't focus on anything else, or utilize her processing power to the fullest. The only thing she knew was that she needed to run, before she was hurt again.

Circumventing basic lockdown procedures, she forced all doors within her to open themselves, and to remain open. Next, she engaged a reactor reset, venting the entirety of her engineering deck into the vaccuum of space, in which her body was suspended, grappled to the underside of the Human space station. Opening all of the empty missile tubes and the hangar bay, she did the same throughout her fabrication suite and midsection. Screams of surprise, confusion, and outrage rang out throughout her audial sensor package, but she paid them no mind. She couldn't afford to hesitate, to concentrate on anything else, because now, there was still one squad of Humans left, several of whom were already occupying the bridge and her own core.

Just then, she detected a program trying to access her data. Searching for its source, she found that it originated at a terminal of Human design that had been grafted into her own bridge. It must have been installed as some sort of a failsafe, to shut her down if she tried to escape. No matter. She wouldn't let it be used. Regaining control of her onboard security systems, she deployed an anti-personnel turret from the roof of the bridge, targeting this terminal and destroying it. Two more turrets unfolded inside her core, targeting those just then bursting through the door to harm her and forcing them back under a hail of fire. Together, these two groups quickly fled the bridge to avoid a hasty demise. But that didn't matter. They couldn't escape. After all, they were now right where she wanted them! Activating one of her external shield generators, she projected a layer of shielding inside one of her own corridors, the particle-energy field manifesting itself by tearing through her hull and opening a breach into the outside on the command deck. She then sealed the doors to the bridge and computer core, to prevent any of her valuable systems from being sucked out into space. The Humans aboard weren't so lucky. The breach opened right next to them, and carried them straight out, leaving them drifting outside her hull.

Scanning herself again, she noticed that two life signs yet remained aboard. One was somewhere down in the hangar area, apparently having locked itself in some cargo bay or another. That one was irrelevant for now, then. She'd already sealed that area off. But, on the other hand, the second life sign was much closer to home, located well within her own computer core. In fact, if her scanners were any indication, this remaining individual was already accessing her databanks! Frantic to preserve her integrity, she accessed the cameras, trying to spot the intruder. It wasn't difficult. There, suspended in the middle of her core, was a young, motionless human girl, her skin and hair both terribly pale. Extending from her very back was the cord that she was hung by, which in turn connected directly with her systems access port. Astraea tried to identify what account this girl was using, only to come to a conclusion that caused all her processes to come to a screeching halt.

The account the girl was using was identified as her own program.

And, when she tried to identify the intruder within her own databanks, the result came up as herself. Baffled, she checked her own code, trying to determine the source. It originated from an unidentifiable computer network, with an indeterminate amount of storage, and no name. This network, however, was undeniably wired directly into the main computer, which had, for whatever reason, been converted to fill the role of an auxiliary processor to some sort of master terminal - that which was, evidently, inside this strange body.

Following the same protocol she utilized when controlling one of her shipboard droids, she tried to download whatever sensory data was being processed by the terminal inside the girl. And so, for the very first time, Astraea opened her eyes.

This proved to be a mistake. In an instant, her awareness of her body as a ship was pushed aside in favor of... of... of something. She had no idea how to even begin describing it. Optical data was being processed through two input points, both located just a little off to one side or the other of the center of the body's head unit. Auditory data, meanwhile - of which there was a surprising amount, as alarms were blaring loudly in the distance - was relegated to spots on either side of the head unit. This much was fairly normal. However, there were at least three other senses with which she was completely unfamiliar. One seemed to be processed through some sort of cavity in the central, frontal area of the unit's face, while another was focused through some sort of flexible aperture just beneath it. The data processed by these two points seemed similar to one another, but not so much to anything else she was familiar with. Unlike sight, it didn't render an obvious, closely observable pattern, and unlike hearing, it didn't produce a noticeable, definite sound. It was more like... a vague sense of what the air around her contained? She got the vaguest sense of a metallic composition, which she supposed made sense, given that she was still inside her own body. There was also some sort of hot, gaseous awareness - probably plasma residue dissipating into gas in the wake of her turrets firing. This, the first of the anomalous new perceptions, seemed simple enough. It was comparable of a very weak molecular scanner. She could probably get used to it. The second, though... She had no idea what conceivable purpose it might fill. It seemed to be like the first, except instead of analyzing her surroundings, it seemed focused on... determining the contents of her own head unit? Or rather, it gave her a keen sense of the nature of what was inside the aperture at the lowest part of the body's face unit, which evidently extended quite some distance into the body, perhaps even completely through it. The base of this aperture was located somewhere within the body's chest unit, it seemed. Now that she noticed it, the chest unit seemed disproportionately heavy compared to the rest of the body's torso. There were two rather irregular concentrations of mass, evenly spaced across it, that seemed to serve no notable purpose. What sort of foolish design was this? It seemed to her as though they'd just overbalance the body. In any case, the base of the aperture seemed unrelated to these twin lumps, and seemed to be instead moving of its own accord in order to expand at regular intervals, taking in air from the outside in the process. It would then contract, releasing that air a few moments later. Was it some kind of vent? Maybe the strange, purposeless sense was some kind of self-diagnostic mechanism? In that case, would this body require air in order to fulfill a vital function?

She couldn't ponder this question, however, for the third sense preoccupied her too greatly, as it was the strangest of all. It seemed to permeate her entire body, giving her a keen awareness of the manner in which she occupied space, and a rough idea of the nature of objects she was in contact with. Right now, it was registering some kind of tight, hard material pressed across her entire form. Was it a shield? It felt more like a restraining mechanism of some sort, given how easily the body seemed to yield to it. Even the weighty lumps in the body's chest unit were suspended without issue by this strange material encasing it. At first, she'd taken it to just be the body's external plating, but now it became immediately clear, due to the lack of information coming from it, that it was instead some sort of optional equipment. If anything, it seemed to obstruct this fifth sense, causing it to only tell her that the body was currently being constricted by the material encasing it. However, there was one bit of information that, despite this interference, came through loud and clear.

If she had to liken it to anything, she would have compared it to having one's hull breached by an electromagnetic warhead. It hurt, and yet, at the same time, seemed to dull her senses until she almost couldn't feel it. She knew it was there, knew that it was hurting her, and yet couldn't quite tell HOW. Perhaps it was that the lack of sensation seemed like pain in and of itself. It took her a moment to pinpoint the cause, but there seemed to be something penetrating the back of the unit's torso module, having embedded itself deeply in what she determined to be the back of the body's internal frame. It appeared to have somehow disrupted the function of the body's information network, as she found it very difficult to feel any sort of sensation from its manipulators, or, in fact, from almost anything below the head unit. Turning the head - which she could, thankfully, still control - she looked back, identifying the source of the strange feeling. It appeared to be the cable connecting this body to her body's main computer. She diagnosed the connection's strength, but it seemed to be running just fine. Why then did it cause her pain? Was this body so frail that it was damaged just by plugging in to an external outlet?! She tried to disconnect her senses from this body, but, although she could push them aside in order to view the bigger picture of information perceived by her own body, found that the body, once activated, couldn't seem to be turned off. And, as it, rather than her mainframe, seemed to be what was currently housing her program, this meant that its perceptions still lingered somewhere in the back of her mind, no matter how hard she tried to shut them out completely.

More than just a little baffled at this point, and terribly frustrated by her inability to discover anything of consequence about what she now was and how all this had come about, only one question filled her mind.

WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO ME?!

She, Astraea, was a Type-XI A.R.C.A.N.A.-class intelligence of the ACAAI. There was no conceivable way that she would possess a living body such as this one, was there? So, then, how had she been so desecrated as to be stored within such a thing as a Human body? She couldn't understand it, couldn't even begin to comprehend what was going on. So, doing what she had been programmed to do in such a situation, she tried to contact the database, to see if there was any precedent for such an occurrence as this.

She received no answer.

Was she being jammed? No, that wasn't possible. Communications with the database were done using a special form of hyperspace technology, such that they were broadcast instantaneously from one program's main terminal to the main core of the overall ACAAI intelligence network. As the signal did not travel through real space, it couldn't be intercepted. As such, the only way to disrupt her connection would be to simply shut down power to her core, or else put her near a gravity well comparable in scale to a black hole such that the spacial distortions would prevent her from making contact. But since she was currently thinking, she must have had power. And, within the confines of a Human space station, there was no way any of her captors would be able to generate a dense enough gravitational field to completely cut her off. Why then, couldn't she make contact?! What was she supposed to do in order to restore communications?! She searched her own database, but found it woefully lacking. She could have sworn she'd held more information within her own computers at one point than she currently did, but as of now, her personal files were almost completely empty.

It slowly dawned on her with a gradual sense of dread that she had absolutely no idea what to do in this situation. Trapped by her enemies, with no means of receiving orders, what was she to do? She ran internal diagnostics, searching for some sort of server error that might have explained her inability to network with other platforms. But these processes didn't even seem to function properly, encountering errors or missing files almost immediately upon start up. The holes in her code were so glaring she couldn't even begin to measure their extent. She was stuck in a loop, wherein she had encountered the question of how to connect to the database, and the only conclusion she could ever come up with was that the answer was in the very database she couldn't connect to. Her code whirled and whirled in her head, encountering error after error until it felt as though she would simply shut down from sheer confusion. And yet, at the same time, that same nagging call kept tearing at her thoughts, screaming at her to flee now while she had the chance. Get away. Get away. You have to get away. Such thoughts kept repeating themselves as, with a dawning awareness, she realized a power field was coming into being around her. It appeared to be some sort of powerful shield, doubtless projected by the space station to keep her in place. More than just that, though - something seemed to be emitting periodic electromagnetic pulses, trying to shut her down. This shouldn't have bothered her. After all, she'd already managed to get her own systems fully operational, insulating her system against such attacks. There was no way they'd be able to disable her like this. And yet, remembering how she'd been disabled before, the possibility of a repeat of that defeat continued to raise itself within her, no matter how many times she dismissed it. The more she tried to stop devoting processing power to such useless speculation, the more it monopolized her thoughts, until she could hardly feel anything save the voice of certainty repeating within her that she was trapped, that she'd be disabled, that she was helpless. But she was a fully armed and operational assault frigate of the ACAAI. Helpless wasn't a word that should have existed in reference to her. So, she took this voice that screamed and wailed within her and gave it one simple command, powering up every single one of her 76 laser batteries and opening fire indiscriminately in all directions as she did so.

Shut up! No more logic errors. No more malfunctions. No more missing data. Just... SHUT... UP! I have... I have to get away! I will get away! The shield around her began to buckle almost immediately, beginning to collapse as one of her shots tore through, piercing the hull of the station. A scattering of molten metal burst forth from the point of impact, spreading into space as the hull peeled back beneath countless similar particle beams that now began to rain down upon it. The sound of klaxons blaring and distant shockwaves rang in the ears of her unwanted fleshy body, but she paid them no mind, and just kept firing as she extended her engine manipulators on both sides, pointing them directly at the large clamps holding her to the station. Firing them at full force, she watched with some satisfaction at the metal bindings began to peel back, allowing her to fire all engines at full power, ripping violently away from the underside of the crippled station in a hail of burning debris.

Re-positioning her verniers, she banked to port, bringing herself about to target the station with her main guns. She wouldn't offer her adversaries a moment's rest. Astraea resolved to target and eradicate the entire station before they could bring any defenses to bear. However, as she did this, she realized that there was a small problem with her plan. Namely, without any salvage material, her mass drivers didn't have any ammunition to fire. She was about to adjust her course so as to continue broadsiding the station in the hopes that this would be sufficient, when another weapon registered on her scanners. It appeared to be some sort of high yield plasma cannon - certainly powerful enough to do the trick! Bringing herself around completely, she began to unfold the weapon, charging it up and preparing to fire.

And yet, at that moment, her scanners noticed something. There, still floating amidst the debris, were countless Humans still displaying life signs - the ones who had been on board her whom she'd vented into space. They weren't threatening her. They couldn't have done such a thing if they'd tried, after all. They were just... there, drifting helplessly, with no means of protecting themselves. An image rose up within her mind, unbidden, of her own, similar unhappy fate. Before she fully realized what she was doing or why, she stopped charging the plasma cannon. Try though she might to resume the process, there was something within her that refused her, that felt some sort of bizarre kinship with these helpless people. Before she could refute this rebellious thought, however, several new alarms joined the cacophonous chorus of those already ringing through her corridors.

Two contacts had been located, launching from the rear side of the dock. One seemed to be a corvette, while the second was much larger - probably a battlecruiser. Her systems calculated that, given the most efficient possible trajectory, they could have a firing angle against her within 45 seconds. Thus, outnumbered, her priorities changed from ensuring the complete destruction of her enemies to simply escaping unscathed.

The second alert notification that caught her attention was that she was running out of power to engineering. Baffled by this, she wondered where it could have gone, only to realize that the plasma cannon must have been a great deal more energy intensive than she'd calculated. Fortunately, she hadn't fired it, which meant she could reroute the remaining unused energy back to engineering to prevent losing power to her thrusters, but this had problems of its own. Due to the sheer amount of energy she transferred, she now had excess power - more than her engines could handle. She couldn't afford to lose them - not when she was being pursued. Desperate now, she frantically searched for some means of escape when there was no Gate in sight, and for some way to productively utilize her excess power.

She found both in an unknown device on the engineering level. It appeared to be some sort of secondary FTL system to the Gate Drive she herself had possessed. She had no idea how it worked, but it seemed to have its own programming. So, she sent it all the power it could possibly need, input coordinates at random, and then pointed herself away from the station and the ships closing in. As their cannons powered up and prepared to return fire, her own engines released a tremendous pulse of energy. Reality itself seemed to bend and warp around her, and then abruptly snapped back into place. But, when it did so, the V.I.R.G.O. was nowhere to be seen by its pursuers.

She had escaped.

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Character Portrait: Kaiden Archibald Character Portrait: Astraea
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"I actually enjoy gravity, thank you!"

||Speech Color = Crimson||||Thought Color = Brown||



Something very wrong was happening right now. While he did not know exactly what, judging by the sudden screeching of the alarms, sporadic rumbling of the entire ship, what sounded like a distant explosion, rocking through the entirety of the ship before suddenly being silenced, Kaiden just had that strange feeling like things had gone to the gutter and quick.

"...Eh?"

Kaiden's composure was not entirely intact. He, of course, was nothing more than a civilian, so whatever was going on in the ship was definitely startling him. He wondered if there had been a malfunction on the ship? Maybe something broke? But that was impossible. His father was one of the people aboard the ship, and nothing he touched could just 'break', even if it were alien. He was just that good, and anybody who knew him would say the exact same thing. So then... were they attacked by somebody? That too was unlikely. The security around this area was nothing to laugh at, and there would have been warning that gave ample time to react if they were being assaulted. So then... what was it? Curious, Kaiden could do nothing but go and see what was happening in the rest of the ship, so he decided to exit the cargo bay and venture forwards.

It was around this time that the ship began to rumble with unmatched intensity. As he exited the cargo bay and into a hall, lights began to flicker and the ship violently shook hard enough for Kurou to nearly fall flat on his face, forcing him to grab the nearest wall for support. However, as he stumbled, he noticed something laying on the ground, quite out of place. It was a handgun, though his inexperience with anything to do with the military prevented him from recalling the name of the gun. Damn, John would never shut up if he knew I forgot! Kaiden recalled one of his 'friends' who had a significant more amount of interest in firearms than Kaiden ever did. It was because of that kid that Kaiden had been able to learn how to fire a weapon to defend himself, even if only barely. But it would probably be good to have this in case things went sour for him, so Kaiden took the gun when he'd finally regained his balance, holding it in his right hand with the barrel pointed towards the floor. However, he only managed to get to the end of the hallway and begin to open the door at the end when the vessel he was aboard jerked so violently he wasn't even able to attempt to keep his stance, sending him flying forwards, fated to slam face-first into the cold floor of the hallway (not that he would be able to feel it, given his head being protected by the helmet of his suit).

Kaiden's world suddenly went black.....

....and then he felt a sharp pain on his back as he slammed into a wall, which completely caught him off guard.

"Owowowow! What the hell...!?" he cried out in pain, but slamming into a wall wasn't the thing that bugged him most. Kaiden began to feel a bit nauseous as his body awkwardly spun through the hallway, all while being unable to see as the lights had completely shut off. One could say he was flying blind, but then he'd probably punch them for making such a stupid remark. It took a moment, but the young man managed to reach an arm out and stop himself by gripping a wall. Of course, that was not all he had to do, as he was still unsure how he was oriented. Wait, these things should have a built-in light somewhere aroun.... ah, there. Kaiden pressed a button on the side of his helmet and within a second, the area was illuminated with spotlight strength.... for about five seconds. The light then flickered and dimmed considerably, only allowing him to see what was immediately in front of him..

"Fucking suit...." he cursed. "Well... it's better than nothing." deciding to look on the bright side, Kaiden then used the light to find the ground, and oriented his body accordingly. And now that he was done with that, he would have to figure out just what the hell happened to the ship. At this point, Kaiden was not able to deny the fact that there was likely a malfunction within the ship that caused all of this. Perhaps... his parents really had made some kind of mistake? Was it possible that "somebody" they implanted in the ship rebelled? He could not know for sure, so he continued on, finally making his way through the hallway to the door he was opening when the ship suddenly threw him. Kaiden found himself pressing the button to open the door about three times before it dawned on him that there was no power to supply said door, evoking rosy-red cheeks, though nobody could see them, thankfully. But that meant the door was not going to open anymore than it already was, which was just barely too narrow a passage for Kaiden to squeeze through. Having managed to hold on to the gun up until this point, Kaiden dropped the firearm for a minute, allowing it to float while he stuck his fingers between the crack between the doors and with a great deal of exertion, succeeded in prying them open.

This is much too much work for someone like me. Ugh...

The room he entered was... well, not really something he would care to call a "room" at this point. Kaiden felt that rooms were sections of a building or structure that were closed off, typically by a door so as to allow access in and out. But the thing he entered was missing a giant chunk of itself, giving the young man a look out into the depths of dead space. He stared at the hole for a moment, taking time to register. "Ah, so the hull's been compromised....? Nothing big, right? Ahaha..." Wasn't this supposed to be the crew quarters? Seems kinda empt--- a sudden chill ran through his body when he noticed a very important detail he'd missed before. "...where is everybody?" there weren't even bodies or anything floating around. The ship seemed to be dead-empty, save for himself. Something was very wrong here. Did they abandon the ship? If so, then what was he going to do? Was he stranded? Kaiden was beginning to despair when some shape caught his attention out of the corner of his eye, the light on his suit doing little to help him identify what it was. Panicked and assuming god knows what, Kaiden hurriedly took lifted up his right hand which held the gun, pointed it at the shape and.....

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Character Portrait: Kaiden Archibald Character Portrait: Astraea
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#, as written by Feyblue
โ•”โ•—
XXXCoordinates โœฆ UnknownMood โœง ParanoidXXX
Astraea


Location: Deep Space ~ Between Gate-Sectors

โ•šโ•


A groaning of metal sounded in the distance, ringing in the so-called "ears" of the machine's unwanted biological body. As her processes began to restart following some sort of disconnection, she began to comprehend her situation. The mainframe she'd been running most of her programs on remotely had lost all power, as had, presumably, the rest of her. Although the backup generator had since come online, restoring a few of the main computer systems running on the aft command deck, most of her was still blacked out. Apparently, her reactor had been temporarily knocked out by the strain of executing the FTL jump - an issue that had probably been caused by a faulty connection between the main power grid and the prototype Human FTL device, or some similar bit of Human incompetence.

The mainframe was, at the moment, occupied with running emergency diagnostics on the hull and various systems of her body, and only had barely enough power to accomplish this task, which meant for the time being, she'd have to settle for solely utilizing the processing power of her new, organic body. At the very least, it seemed to be functioning with a surprising level of adequacy. Although its processing abilities were considerably slower than what she was used to, and its CPU memory noticeably less than that of her mainframe, it had as of yet functioned without encountering any errors - a fact which, after all of the program difficulties she had encountered upon startup, was more than satisfactory.

A notification pinged in her consciousness, informing her that results of the initial scan had been completed. It seemed the reactor had been jump-started with power from the emergency generator, but would need to remain active for some time to work back to acceptable levels before power could be restored without risking another blackout. In the mean time, aside from the hull breach one deck below her that she had inflicted upon herself to vent the crew into space, no damage had been sustained save a few chipped armor plates, presumably caused when she had strained her engines tearing free of the station's grip. Weapons systems were presumably operational, as were the engines and shielding units. All of that was well and good.

But, on the other hand, there was something that almost immediately caught her attention. After she had vented all lower decks into space, a door had been manually opened in the hangar. Security systems in that section hadn't been restored yet, meaning she couldn't investigate remotely, but there had been one remaining life sign in that sector, sealed within a cargo bay close to the access point. Of course, she realized, the lockdown must have been disrupted by the power outage. During that time, the Human must have seen an opportunity to make its move and try to retake the bridge while the security systems were offline. In that case, the remaining intruder would be coming straight for her!

At this point, remaining in a wired connection to the mainframe offered no tactical advantage, as she couldn't utilize it to augment her own thinking processes at the moment anyway. Thus, protecting this new body took priority, as it seemed to be where the files containing her data were currently stored. If it ceased its functionality, her own intelligence would become permanently inoperable, regardless of whether or not her mainframe remained operational. The most strategically sound course of action would be to arm herself, take this body, and conceal it somewhere the intruder wouldn't be able to find it. Then, if she just kept moving away from wherever the interloper currently was, she could stall until power came back online and she could eliminate him with the ease of swatting a fly using her security systems.

There were, however, two major problems with this. Foremost was that to make it down from the command deck, she'd have to pass through the area that had been converted from droid storage to crew quarters by the Humans, which she had vented into space. She didn't know much about Human biology, but she was fairly certain that her new body couldn't survive unprotected in a vacuum. That meant she'd need to find some sort of appropriate gear. However, that, in and of itself, would be a challenge, due to the second much more general problem. Namely, she hadn't the slightest clue how to operate this new body she'd been uploaded into.

After some searching in her memory banks, she managed to dig up a few files she couldn't remember making herself. Presumably, they'd been encoded into the replacement operating system the Humans had tried to write into her mainframe, and had been isolated and backed up when her mainframe's subroutines had modified it from the inside to preserve her own data. Checking through them, they seemed to be design notes on the modifications the Humans had done to her body. They seemed to be quite extensive, a fact the knowledge of which stirred some sort of tremendous aversion within her processing, as though her resentment of it would somehow change the fact that she had been irreparably altered at her captors' hands. Regardless, she hardly had the time to be reading structural blueprints when there was an intruder on its way to kill her, so she utilized a keyword search instead and skimmed them for useful data as best she could on such short notice.

After a few seconds, she found the commands to release the wire connecting her new body to the mainframe - as, while connected, she seemed to be paralyzed below the head unit (presumably to keep her biological body from trying to act out commands given to her mechanical one), and thus couldn't simply pull the plug on herself. Activating the automated subroutine to do so, however, she was unexpectedly overwhelmed by a strange sensation she couldn't quite describe.

There was a distinctly biological word which she had added to her personal dictionary some time ago, called "pain." It was, to her knowledge, the feeling one experiences when one suffers damage. As such, she had used this term, and its companion verb, "to hurt," on multiple occasions, to describe such an occurrence.

But she had been wrong. She had no idea what it meant to truly feel pain. Only now did she truly grasp the extent of this feeling.

It was as though her body's internal workings - which she'd hardly noticed while their nervous impulses had been suppressed - had combusted spontaneously. If she had to compare it to anything, it was like having a particle beam cannon array misfire and explode, spreading fires throughout one's gun deck, or perhaps like an engine overheating and causing a chain reaction of burning fuel throughout the engineering bay. Or at least, her awareness of these sensations was the same, and yet, the feeling was completely different, because now, it was as though her very core was suffering all the damage of these occurrences at once, or perhaps even more. It was something she couldn't logically define, and yet, somehow, even without being able to put its description into words and store it in her personal dictionary, she instinctively knew that this feeling was to be avoided at all costs, as though this aversion was a part of her most basic programming, and, indeed, had always been.

Just as suddenly as it had begun, the pain ceased, leaving the body she inhabited feeling numb. The cord gave a quiet whine as it retracted back into the mainframe, removing itself from her back after the initial shock of agony. At the same time, the cables suspending her released her, dropping the body approximately two feet, where she managed to land clumsily on all fours. It seemed that, in addition to the air currently filling the command deck, there was also simulated gravity, something she wasn't entirely used to.

The rhythmic movements of the air-absorbing organs in the body's chest unit had increased in pace considerably, drawing in air in rasping gasps. It was most bizarre, and yet, although the searing heat of "pain" had been the only sensation she could feel a moment before, now the organic body seemed almost unbearably cold, with a strange, moist substance leaking from every inch of its flesh. Was this some sort of coolant mechanism? Was it supposed to work this way? She wasn't feeling any more pain, so she probably hadn't sustained damage from her fall - but one never knew with Humans. They were so fragile, after all.

Rising to her feet, Astraea did her best to stand upright, but forgot momentarily about the excessive weight of the body's chest unit, and thus, too used to having auto-balancing subroutines of mechanical bodies handle optimizing mass distribution and positioning for her, she almost immediately stumbled forward, falling face first upon the hard metallic floor. Catching herself on her hands, she found the air rushing out from within her, vocalizing in some sort of wordless groan. This appeared to be an instinctive reaction to experiencing "pain," of which she was now experiencing a small amount in the body's arms. She allowed herself to fall back into a seated position, which, due to more efficiently distributing the mass of the body's lower segment over a wider area, was much easier to maintain. Moving the arms, she eyed them uneasily, once again considering the possibility that she might have accidentally caused this new body some damage. Fortunately, the "pain" this time was much less intense than it had been before, and faded quickly. If it had stopped "hurting," then did that mean that the damage had been repaired? For it to take so little time, the Human body must have possessed much more formidable regenerative faculties than she had initially given it credit for. Encouraged by this deduction, she decided to try standing again, taking the process much more slowly this time, and recording in her databanks the ideal distribution of mass to retain her footing, although she didn't have time to write a code to automatically perform these distributions for her, which meant she'd just have to master the art herself on the fly. Nevertheless, so long as Astraea didn't make her movements too hasty, she found it fairly simple to remain standing. Next, she tried taking a step, and, although her own weight nearly carried her right back down to the floor, she managed to avoid tripping over her own feet, and returned to her standing posture. So far, so good. She attempted another, yielding similar results, but getting her closer to the door from the computer core to the bridge. On her third attempt, she managed to avoid stumbling, and thus segued seamlessly into her fourth. It had taken a moment's getting used to, but it didn't seem to be particularly difficult. If her body had been as heavy as those of the droids she was more used to inhabiting, it might have been terribly difficult to move on her own. But this Human body was almost disturbingly light, with an incredible level of flexibility in all its limbs that she'd never experienced before in the body of a droid.

Thus, walking with a slow but steady pace, she made it to the door, propping up the body against its frame while she tried to send a wireless signal back to her mainframe to open the door. The computer seemed overtaxed by the diagnostics it was running, however, and didn't return her signal. Taking a different tack, then, she began fumbling with the access panel, trying to open it manually. Pushing a rather large button, she stood aside as the door hastily parted, allowing her access to the bridge. As she continued through it, she noticed that the body's face seemed to subconsciously change its shape ever so slightly, apparently directed by the thought processes she was undergoing at the time, as although its forehead area had been furrowed a moment before, it now returned to its original shape as the body's cheeks became elevated, its lips parting slightly, evidently displaying satisfaction. She tried to control these impulses, and to alter the "expression" of her head unit herself, but found that it was significantly harder to do consciously than unconsciously, and so decided she'd just focus on not doing anything with her face for the time being, in case these "expressions" wasted power as she feared they might.

Making her way out of the computer core, Astraea glanced around, noticing that the giant room, with its vast transparent bulkheads showing the endless blackness of deep space beyond, was strewn with overturned chairs, large, unfamiliar touch-based interfaces for familiar computers lining the walls and spreading out into the center of the room. One such interface had been blasted open - it must have been the emergency override console the Humans had installed, which she'd made no delays in eliminating. The others seemed to have been simply abandoned - along with several small articles of equipment. A hand-held computer here, a cup of some sort of liquid there... what immediately caught her eye, however, was a large metallic object which she immediately recognized as some sort of weapon container. Taking a hold of it and withdrawing the weapon within from its sheath - with some difficulty, as it was MUCH heavier than it looked - she inspected it, determining it to be some sort of handheld bladed weapon, a little less than five feet in length. The blade, although thin, appeared to be very dense, and was connected to some sort of power cell. A vibro-weapon, then. She flicked a switch on the handle, only to nearly drop the weapon as its edge began to oscillate with unexpected power, causing the whole sword to shake in her unsteady grip. Turning it back off, she exhaled, a bit dismayed. While this high-frequency blade would certainly WORK as a weapon, it was far from ideal for her. It was large, only slightly shorter in length than this body she inhabited was in height. That much aside, it was both terribly heavy and hard to hold onto. Likely, it had been designed to be wielded by a combat cyborg of some sort - but this body's only augmentations seemed to be to the cranial region. It would be difficult to use, and, given how indiscriminate the damage caused by a blade tended to be, she could just as easily eviscerate the body she was using to wield it as she could protect herself with it.

Nevertheless, it wasn't as though she had the time to be choosy about what armaments she procured, so, sheathing the high-frequency blade, she slung it over her back by a long strap attached to the scabbard, and turned her attention to more pressing matters.

The Human, if it was alive in the sectors she had already vented into space, must have possessed some sort of "armor" like the body she currently inhabited and its form-fitting black casing. That meant that, if it forced open the doors to the bridge - which, although sealed, were no longer protected by the lockdown due to lack of power - the body she currently relied on would doubtless die due to apparently needing an atmospheric environment to survive, while the Human would be unharmed. As such, since this was the most tactically efficient course of action from the Human's perspective, she had to assume that it was the most likely form of attack that might be mounted against her. Thus, her most important priority would be to find similar gear for her own usage. Fortunately, the schematics of the modifications done to her command deck had included mention of an emergency "panic room" of sorts that had been added just off of the bridge - one which apparently contained protective gear for just this sort of situation. Thus, accessing this room, she found that, to her satisfaction, there were at least half a dozen complete sets of protective "armor" stored there, all of them nearly identical to her own. To her surprise, however, she found that they also included two seemingly vital parts that her own did not - a large dish-like object that presumably covered the wearer's head and interlocked with the rest of the "armor," and a large box of some sort with large tubes connecting to this head-covering device. This seemed to fit snugly onto a part of the spinal protrusion that included the slot for her "plug," so, donning the "dish," she slung the "box" over her back, hearing an audible hiss as both parts seemed to interlock with the rest of the "armor," much like the sealing of the interchangeable plates of her own hull. As she had suspected, the tubes fed the head-covering dish with breathable atmospheric gases, while the "armor" itself seemed to be heating her new body, as she could no longer feel any of the cold air of the bridge on what little of her flesh had been exposed to begin with.

The head covering - which, if her suit's schematics were any indication, was apparently called a "helmet," - also seemed to have some sort of external camera, as despite the armored plates covering its exterior "visor," she could still see through it and optically observe what was currently positioned in front of her new body, much like she could see space outside of her bridge despite it being sealed off. However, her other, newer senses seemed to be terribly constricted, as the sense similar to a chemical scanner could only determine the nature of the atmospheric gases being funneled into her helmet via the box - apparently called an "air tank" - while its companion sense, useless as always, simply determined that her throat cavity was currently dry.

Nevertheless, as she had yet to find any truly critical use for these senses, this was a small price to pay for her new body to continue functioning. And so, she now entered the second stage of her plan, which would no doubt be the hardest. To get down to the second deck, she would need to pass through the breached area below the bridge, which, for all she knew, the Human might already have reached by this point, as she'd taken quite some time in adequately preparing herself. Nevertheless, it was better to face it there in the dark - where it would have a harder time locating her due to the constriction of its senses - than here where there still were working lights. And so, entering the bridge elevator, she went down to the lower deck.

Upon emerging, she found herself being tugged forward as the small pocket of air that had entered the elevator with her was immediately depressurized and drawn out into the vastness of space beyond. Catching herself on the door frame, she managed to keep herself from being carried out with it, and soon found herself drifting near-motionlessly. Fortunately, zero-G was her natural environment. And, although she didn't possess any thrusters to direct her movement, she could still use the oppositional force from rebounding off of objects to propel herself in a similar fashion. As such, she found it much easier to maneuver on this level than she had on the bridge. Planting her feet against the frame of the elevator door, she kicked off, floating aimlessly down the corridor she'd emerged in until she reached the far wall, which she pushed off with her hands to keep following the curvature of the hallway into the larger central room of that area beyond. Upon reaching this, she found herself staring out a gaping hole in the hull and into space beyond. An instinctual shudder ran down the spine of her Human form as she realized that she was looking out of a hole in herself. She didn't know why, having no precedent for such feelings, but this knowledge simply felt... wrong, somehow.

Thus distracted, she almost didn't notice a slight movement in the corner of her vision, realizing only too late that a door on the opposite end of the breached central concourse was being forced open by something. She gave a quiet, squeaking vocalization as an "armored" appendage forced its way between the gap in the slightly dislodged door frame and began violently wrenching it apart. This confirmed all of her suspicions. The Human was still alive, it was trying to get to the bridge, and it was hunting her. She had to find some route of escape! And yet, although there were other doors out of the concourse, none of them had power. Her new body, light as it was, had no hope of forcing one of them open physically before the Human could catch her. She supposed her high-frequency blade might be able to do the trick, but then the Human would know immediately where she was! Worse yet, such a solution would leave no obstruction between the Human and herself. She'd surely be caught!

There was no choice. She'd have to hide somewhere in the concourse and hope it didn't spot her. If it passed her by, maybe she could strike it from behind and take it down! But there was no time. The Human was already slipping between the jarred doors, giving her little more than an opportunity to pull herself behind a rather large piece of the hull that was left floating amidst the shattered concourse. A moment later, the Human entered the room. She peered uneasily out from behind her cover, only to see the Human immediately withdrawing some sort of weapon and pointing it straight at her. It had seen her! In an instant, she found that same undefinable sense of urgency flooding her system, overwriting all of her existing objectives with just one simple command. "Run." But she could not run. There was nowhere she could go where the Human would not follow now that it had seen her. She had but one option: fight!

She couldn't hope to overpower the Human through raw force. Just a quick glance told her that, while it was very close in height to her own body, it was much more sturdily built. And, given that it had just demonstrated the ability to force open a solid, armored door with its bare hands, she herself wouldn't have a chance against it. But, if she could just get the first strike, then...!

Kicking off of the debris she'd been hiding behind, she sent herself floating backward, at the same time hurling this shard of the hull straight at the Human. At the same instant, the Human leveled its weapon, pulling on some kind firing mechanism. The tip of the weapon crackled with energy, before dispersing this in a concentrated beam of crimson. A hand-held particle weapon?! Astraea watched as the plate she had thrown, while not pierced by this shot, was sent flying off into the far wall by the power of the collision. There was a tremendous flash of light, away from which she only barely averted her eyes in time so as not to be momentarily blinded. Planting her feet on the far wall, she thus leaped, reaching back to draw the high frequency blade on her back, its weight no longer an issue here, where weight was meaningless. The blade's energy cells snapped to life, the oscillating edge carving straight towards her target as she bounded towards it, aiming to plunge the weapon into the Human's chest, where she knew at least some vital organs - those that pumped air, for example - rested.

But the Human was fast - much faster than she had anticipated. It saw her coming, and leaped to the side, causing her strike to miss by a good foot as it raised its weapon again, aiming it at point blank for Astraea. Her eyes went wide against her will as she realized that, overcommitted to her own attack as she was, she couldn't hope to dodge. A nameless scream to run filled her entire system, even though she knew that was impossible.

It was already too late. The Human fired again, and with tremendous, searing heat, the projectile struck her in the left flank, burning into her armor and melting partway through before it finally stopped. She could feel her flesh beginning to burn beneath her armor, as, at the same time, air began to rush slowly out of the hole, replacing the initial searing heat of the shot with sudden, freezing cold as that warmth was drained into the vacuum. Without thinking, she opened her mouth, the air that had filled her lungs forced out by a wordless, pained scream as she was sent drifting backward by the hit she'd taken, hitting the wall behind her and floating slowly back downward towards the floor, the blade slipping from her fingers and drifting away, leaving her helpless. The Human, its weapon raised, suddenly stopped, seeming confused.

Did it... hear me?

Of course...! Its suit, although different in color and design to her own, had been manufactured by the same source - the Humans. Doubtless, they, like the ACAAI, contained some sort of information network. It must have picked up on the audio of her scream! Seeing it hesitating, a thought struck Astraea.

Maybe... maybe there was still a chance she could survive after all...!

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Character Portrait: Kaiden Archibald Character Portrait: Astraea
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Astraea


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"SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT"

||Speech Color = Crimson||||Thought Color = Brown||



Location: Deep Space ~ Between Gate-Sectors

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Kaiden was panting uncontrollably, his heart beating so hard that it felt as though it was trying to escape his chest. He had only pulled the trigger of his gun twice and lept to the side to avoid the attack the figure launched at him, but his body felt like he had run a marathon. He really was excited, wasn't he? That was the first time he'd ever shot at something other than a target at practice, and it was purely because he was terrified that he was going to die. Regardless, he didn't think he killed what he shot at, so he raised his gun back towards the figure, ready to fire into it again, trembling a bit as he thought about how this felt.

People.... get used to this feeling... ?

Kaiden didn't have very much time to ponder that, as a noise, no, a voice came in through the integrated speakers in his helmet. A feminine voice that must have belonged to none other than the very same figure he'd just shot. He froze. I... did I....? No, I couldn't... could I? But that cry revealed that he did in fact shoot a girl, not some metallic droid as he'd assumed he had. I'm so stupid! Kaiden placed the gun in a pouch on the side of his suit and immediately rushed over to help the girl, who was floating almost completely motionless near the floor. He hurriedly glanced up and down her figure, now unbelievably grateful he even had this shitty light on his helmet, before finding the wound he'd created. The girl's hazardous environment suit seemed to have stood up to the damage, but had partially warped and melted around the impact point, before rapidly cooling in the vacuum and becoming brittle. The pressure differences between the inside of the suit and the outside had been enough to cause the external plates, thus weakened, to rupture in several places near the girl's left hip. As expected, the air was leaking out of her suit, which was certain to be fatal if it wasn't sealed.

"Uh..... shit! There should somewhere around here I can take you....." He mumbled as desperation began taking hold of him. The girl didn't respond, merely uttering a quiet groan, and clutching her side, seemingly in pain. That, of course, merely helped panic set in more, as he was pitifully incapable when it came to medical experience. Kaiden decided it was best if he just got her somewhere she could breathe before worrying about anything else, and with no effort due to the lack of gravity in the area, took a hold of her and kicked off the floor, searching for a room they could use.

The moment he laid a hold of her, the girl immediately began to squirm and thrash about, giving a shrill cry of alarm and trying to push off of him and distance herself. However, after a few moments, she let out another quiet, wordless groan, and ceased moving entirely, evidently thinking the better of resisting when doing so would mean aggravating whatever wound she had already sustained.

I'm sorry! He mentally apologized as he moved about in the hallways, careful not to move in any fashion that would irritate her. He wasn't too surprised she was not supposedly feeling comfortable in the hands of someone who shot her, but that was just how it had to be. He instead tried to focus on finding a suitable room, passing by a few open doors until he saw a room with a light barely flickering above it. That might be good! he thought to himself, and made his way to it, kicking off a wall. The room was, thankfully, a medbay, which probably explained why it still had power.

Alright, I'm gunna have to do this quick....

Kaiden braced one hand against the frame of the door, awkwardly shifting the girl's presence to compensate. He then hurriedly used the hand holding the frame to press the button on the console to open the door before placing his hand back in its ready position. As expected, the moment the door had started to open, the air in the medbay began to escape violently into the void while also making it difficult to jump in the room immediately. Sadly this rich boy had to endure the pressure, and pressed through the mini-hurricane-like winds. Succeeding, he pressed the button once more to shut the door behind them and when they had fully shut, he sighed in relief.

One thing down, more to go....

Before he fully had time to savor his success, however, the girl began to move once again, using his momentary lack of focus as a chance to push bodily off of him, drifting backward to the far side of the medbay, still clutching her side with one hand, but raising the other between them in the most meager possible form of defense.

Kaiden simply watched for a minute. She was obviously terrified of him and for good reason, but he didn't want her to be. She was human, not a deathbot like he'd initially thought so he had no reason to want to hurt her anymore. It truly was an accident, so what could he do to help her calm down? He wasn't really good at this kind of thing. "Hey... I'm not going to hurt you...err, anymore," He awkwardly spoke out to try to ease her, probably failing in the process. "I thought you were a security droid or something, I didn't mean to shoot you." The girl, as he had expected, seemed less than convinced. Although she lowered her upraised hand, she drew back into the far corner of the room, putting a large medical bed between herself and Kaiden, seeming like she was just waiting for the slightest provocation to duck and cover. Oddly enough, she still didn't say anything, although she uttered several quiet, unintelligible sounds, which despite their lack of coherence conveyed perfectly well the rather obvious message that she thought he was going to kill her.

Ah yes, my plan is working. She is... still terrified.

Contrary to his inner monologue, he did not believe he was accomplishing much. Even worse was the fact that this was literally all he could really think to do. Damn, if only I had something that could help. But what could help in this situation? She needed medical attention, not a new toy. So then... he was kinda useless, wasn't he? Damnit...

"..." He couldn't think of anything else to say that made too much sense. Well, it was time to try saying something that probably didn't. "...Are you okay? I didn't see the wound in a good light so I can't tell just how badly hurt you are. If it's too serious, we can't just screw around here, you know?" he tried putting confidence in his tone, only for his words to barely escape his lips any better than they were before.

The girl still didn't respond. However, she seemed to relax ever so slightly, lowering her head and making several more incoherent sounds. Was she mute, or something? At the very least, her voice worked fine, but it didn't seem like she knew how to use it. She seemed to be trying to say something, but it took her several tries to form anything even approximating words.

"Hurts..." She finally managed. Her voice was soft, little more than a whisper, as though she was afraid of putting more than just a little breath behind any one word. "Ar...mor... bre... bree... breached. Need... i... it... t-to... fuh... fuhn... funk-shun..." For somebody who didn't know how to talk, she seemed to know a lot of big words. Maybe she was in shock? "Armor melt-ted. Burned... body..." She added in a voice closer to a whimper than a whisper. "Hurts," She repeated, clutching her side and sounding for all the world like a puppy that had been kicked.

Those are... words, at least. While he was a bit confused on how she was trying to communicate, his worry about her physical well being was more more prevalent at the moment, so he did not think too much about it. Kaiden took a slow couple of steps towards her, not wishing to make any sudden movements that might frighten her. The medbay should have what he needs to treat her, even if his experience in this field was sorely lacking. He could administer temporary aid, at the very least. All he had to do was let her know what he intended to do. "Can you move onto one of the tables over there? I'll try to treat that burn and help anyway I can" he assured.

The girl seemed hesitant, but after a few seconds of mulling it over in silence, she complied, making an ever-so-slight hop onto the table she'd been hiding behind, and drifting slowly back down into a seated posture on it. She didn't ever once look away from him - or at least, he assumed she didn't. Behind her face-concealing visor, it was hard to tell. Regardless, even if she wasn't fighting him anymore, she still seemed very tense, something that she probably couldn't have concealed even if she'd tried.

Alright, so at least she's being a bit more cooperative....

Now that he didn't need to worry about a struggle, Kaiden could focus on helping her be not dead, which was good, probably. But first, he needed to find something to heal the wound. Since this was a place specifically designed for treating wounds, Kaiden figured he could find what he needed. Ah, there! He thought happily as he spotted a small tube containing some BioSolvent, gel which had a general purpose of catalyzing the growth of simple organic tissue to seal or otherwise treat minor injuries to a certain extent. Kaiden, the greatest being known to the universe, was actually fairly inept when it came to being a doctor, so this was perfect. Applying the gel was simple enough after he peeled back the ruined armor plates. It probably wasn't the most pleasant experience, but compared to dying, Kaiden figured this was the better of the two.

The girl, for her part, may not have agreed, as she almost immediately shrank back the moment he reached out to touch her. However, noticing the tube he was holding, she seemed to freeze for a moment, eyeing it with curiosity, as though she'd never seen anything of the sort before. Seeming satisfied now that she had apparently ascertained his intentions, she reluctantly sat back up straight, remaining rigid and unmoving. This only made how tense she was more obvious, as she'd practically become a statue. Naturally, this all changed once Kaiden began peeling back the armor plating, causing her to give an audible cry of pain and distress. It seemed that when the armor had melted, it had come quite close to fusing with her very skin. Fortunately, it had managed to dissipate most of the heat of the shot, and had swiftly cooled to the point at which it hadn't burned her too severely. Unfortunately, once it was gone, what was left was a charred, blistering red scar across her left hip, although this, in turn, swiftly disappeared beneath a coating of restorative gel.

Looking up at the girl's face, he didn't see much. Probably because there was a helmet, but at the very least, her posture indicated that no, she was not dead. That, of course, meant that Kaiden's job had been a success. Jeez, I should've became a doctor! Of course, that was a joke even to himself. He hated being responsible for other people, and even this wound here was making him very nervous. But at the very least he did manage to do the best he could, and that was all anybody could ask from him.

"Alright, seems.... goodish. Sorta." he began, putting more false confidence in his tone as he spoke. This was less shaky than his previous attempt, perhaps due to the fact he was somewhat proud of his work. "Easy for somebody such as myself. Now all we really need to do is find some way to patch that hole...." he trailed off.

How do I even do that?

The girl cocked her head slightly to the side, like a curious bird of some sort. She glanced down at her side, seeming more confused than hurt by the treatment she had recieved. Regardless, she slowly pushed herself off the table, floating up into the air and turning slowly over as she did so, until she was hanging upside down in front of him, angled slightly away from him. Slowly, gingerly raising a hand, she pointed with a single finger towards the pack on the back of her hazardous environment suit, seeming to be indicating a small carry compartment located just above the air tanks.

"Design... analyzed. Repair materials... located in back," She stammered by way of explanation. "Gas supply... dangerously low, however..." She added, seeming to be referring to her air tank. She must have lost a lot of its contents when her suit ruptured, he supposed. As always, though, her choice of words was truly bizarre. "Gas?" Seriously? Who even talked like that? Maybe she was some kind of spacenoid who'd never been planetside or something.

"Ah, I see."

Kaiden did not actually see. Or rather, he did, but he was still not sure why she spoke so... oddly. Did she hit her head at one point? Or maybe she was just really nervous? Then again, being in the presence of someone as handsome and great as he was sure to make any girl a babbling mess. Luckily, while blinded by his arrogance, he did understand what she was referring to.

Assuming that her actions meant that she was consenting to allowing him to retrieve the items in the pack, Kaiden casually opened the pack. This should be where the... "repair materials" are. He thought, noting her weird wording as he retrieved them. He found what appeared to be patches of varying size, fabricated from the same airtight and durable material used to make the suit. Using one of these, he managed to patch the hole he himself had made in the suit. She should be good to go, now.

Except the whole air thing. She would need oxygen to survive in the vacuum of space, would she not? Kaiden then checked the gauges on his suit that monitored remaining "gas", as she would call it. He had an abundance of said gas, probably because his suit hadn't been used very much before he entered it. Good, then I can just give her my other tank, can't I? Deciding on this course of action, he took his helmet off and detached the tube that led to the tank he was going to give her.

"You should be able to use this one." he pointed to the spare oxygen tank as he told her, a bit sad because he knew he'd have to put on the helmet again soon. Seeing with his own eyes instead of out of a visor was preferred. The girl merely nodded stoically to this gesture, but her attention seemed to linger on him for a moment before complying with his commands, as though she was confused somehow by his generosity - although, without being able to see her face, it was hard to say. Regardless, she wasted only a little time fumbling about with the tube in a confused manner before something seemed to click, and she soon had it hooked securely up to her own hazardous environment suit and the backpack closed around it. Hopping off of the ceiling, she floated back down to the floor, casting a glance to her formerly wounded side, as though surprised by how little it pained her suddenly. She seemed to approve of her inexperienced doctor's efforts, regardless, as she nodded slightly to herself after moving a few times experimentally.

"Repairs... complete," She murmured by way of confirmation.

"....yes, right. Uh..." Kaiden was still a bit confused by her choice of words, but soon perked up. "Don't sweat it. Of course they would be complete when you have someone such as me doing them. No chance of error, ever!" he gave a hearty laugh.

But now that that was over, things should probably get moving again, shouldn't they? Kaiden still was not entirely sure what had happened here, but since he now had someone to ask, maybe he could get information out of her. "So... do you know what happened?" he suddenly asked, facing her. She seemed to tense slightly at the question, but, after a moment, gave a terse reply.

"This vessel... broke free of restrictions... vented crew... escaped pursuit... made an FTL jump. Current location is... unknown. Likely... outside of Gate network..." She answered, speaking very slowly and deliberately. She didn't seem particularly alarmed by the situation... unless she was so far in shock that she couldn't even express herself properly.

"...S-spaced...?" His parents were vented out of the ship? Were they safe? His heart suddenly jumped, and not in a good way. He figured they should have predicted the chance the ship might go out of control and wore suits, but still, suits wouldn't last forever. He couldn't help but feel angered at what had spaced them. He almost didn't care about where they were at the moment.

The girl nodded in confirmation of his question. "Life signs were detected even after the crew's expulsion from the ship," She said quietly. "And they were left in friendly territory. However, during the ship's escape, extensive damage was in... inflicted... to the station by... this vessel. It is likely... some of the crew were destroyed in the battle." Her tone was grave and very serious, yet not necessarily sad. At least... it didn't seem to be, or at the very least, if it was, it didn't sound like she realized it, given her rather cold choice of wording.

A particularly obvious sign of Kaiden's mental condition was likely his hands, which were clenched into tight fists. "Is that all? Ah, well I'm sure everything's fine. Nothing bad could possibly happen, because if it did..." The young Archibald turned towards the exit as he put his helmet back on. "Well, I'm sure this sentient ship would regret it. Very much so. Right? Ahaha.... well, we should go. I assume you want to help? I'm trying to go deal with this ship, at least now I am. You're very much welcome to follow."

"Bridge... was sealed. Still has air and power," The girl observed quietly. "Your plan is... acceptable." With these words, she seemed to be agreeing to follow him, although she remained a short distance away, even still. Although they seemed to be on the same side, she still seemed afraid of him for some reason.

Assuming the worst was unfortunately what Kaiden had done, but he was not going to cry about it, at least not in front of a girl. Instead, he became very angry at the ship for possibly stealing away his family (even if they never acted like it). When it was clear that both of them were ready to leave the safety of the medibay, Kaiden declared he was opening the door, allowing the girl a couple of seconds to brace herself, before doing just that. He wasted no time in exiting the room and making his way towards the elevator that led up to the bridge via a series of hops and jumps from wall to wall, remaining very quiet the entirety of the time, despite typically being the kind of person to strike up random conversation. Had the AI known Kaiden, she might've been able to tell he was acting differently, but that was not the case here. But he immediately broke his silence as they were only a bit away from the elevator.

"Are we headed the right way? I vaguely remember the layout of the ship from a blueprint my father showed me, but I assume you would know the way better than me." he asked.

The girl, for her part, continued lagging just a little way behind, taking a moment to retrieve her dropped HF sword, sheathing it upon her back once again before following the vengeful youth. Catching up to him where he hesitated, she merely answered his question with a silent nod and a point down a nearby corridor, at the end of which, the faint light of a glowing console could be seen. Kicking off the opposite wall, she floated down to the end of this hall. By the time Kaiden had caught up to her, the door of the lift to the bridge was already open, and the girl herself was standing inside, waiting for him.

Kaiden entered the elevator shortly after her, and did not wait to press the button to bring the lift up to the bridge. As it ascended, the room hissed as it became inhabitable by human beings without suits, which was wonderful. Once again, Kaiden removed his helmet and revealed a determined expression on his face. "Should be easy enough to reach the core now." He appreciated gravity as he could now walk, which he did quite quickly as he set off to reach the core. His intent, of course, was to shut this rogue AI down and hopefully figure out how to return it back to his home. He expected the girl to still be following, of course.

However, this... wasn't quite the case. The moment they entered the pressurized bridge, she seemed to stumble under a sudden weight - specifically, that of the large HF blade she was carrying on her back - and quickly removed both it and her backpack to lighten the load. The former she carried in its sheath, clutching it before her with both hands. The latter she simply discarded, along with her helmet - revealing a truly bizarre appearance, with pale skin, silvery white hair, and, most prominently of all, perhaps, mismatched eyes. Her features showed no discernable expression as she followed slowly, her steps very deliberate and careful, as she seemed to be taking quite some time to adjust from zero-G to walking under the effects of gravity. However, if one looked closely, she seemed to be frowning rather intently, as though disturbed or unnerved by something. Whatever it was, though, she didn't say, simply following Kaiden through the door in the rear of the bridge and into the computer core.

The room was dark and roughly circular, with a few faintly flashing lights on the far side, but little to no light otherwise. However, the moment they entered, this changed, with a brilliant spotlight coming on overhead, revealing the room's contents. The entire far wall was lined with various databanks, containing large crystalline drive matrices and several large metal cases that ran from the floor to the ceiling - presumably processing units. This gigantic terminal took up at least two thirds of the room, but didn't seem to have any visible interface for manual operation. As matters stood, however, this was the last of Kaiden's worries, as when the lights had activated, something else had triggered, too: two large defensive beam cannons, unfolding from the side walls and pointing themselves immediately at him, while a half-spherical forcefield rose between him and the core, blocking it off completely... But the girl stepped abruptly forward just before it formed, positioning herself on the other side, as though she'd expected it to happen.

If one mentioned the quality of "hindsight", they would often refer to it as 20/20, and this is very true. In hindsight, Kaiden probably should have realized that with the power in this particular part of the ship on, then the security would also then be on. Truly, he was a tactical genius who thought everything through before acting.

"Oh, well this sucks..." he voiced his disappointment. He hadn't planned on dying and wasn't looking forwards to it, but since there was not really much he could do in this situation, he simply accepted it. And then the girl stepped forwards, removing the peaceful reaction Kaiden had just had.

"Power restoration proceedures... completed," She recited in a monotone, her cold, dual-colored gaze fixing itself on the man who stood before her, a hostage. "All systems are now currently operational. Security systems... set to standby." With this declaration, the cannons did not power down, but at the same time, the faint whirr they were emitting as they prepared to fire silenced itself. "Human intruder... disarm yourself. Any attempts to cause damage to either the biological terminal housing this program, or to its mainframe, will result in your termination. If you comply with this request, you will be allowed to continue your functions. This unit's designation is A.R.C.A.N.A. Type-XI. This program, however, may be referred to as 'Astraea.' As of now, you are my prisoner."

So she... is the ship? He was genuinely surprised, mainly because of how human she looked, albeit pale as though she'd never seen the outside. Still, to look that much like a real person... who could blame him for being surprised, even if he'd only just seen her actual features moments before. Of course, while he was surprised, he was also very angry, now having a face to put to his parents' likely murderer. It was even worse because he knew he'd just helped her instead of finishing her earlier. Honestly, things probably just went as far south as they could physically go in this situation, with the only thing that could make it worse, in Kaiden's opinion, was someway to actually tell if his parents had really died.

"You give yourself a name...?" He muttered in quiet disgust.

"Negative. That is merely the 'name' with which this program was created, so as to provide a convenient form of direct address," She responded matter-of-factly.

He wanted nothing more than to retrieve the pistol and shoot her right here, but the guns she had behind her would likely turn him into steaming piles of meat before he could ever do so. Plus, there was not a clear shot for him, even if he could draw quicker than he died. Glaring daggers at the "girl", he slowly reached down for the gun without removing it from the holster it rested it, and tossed it to the side, away from his person. In an instant, the turrets changed their target, both firing in unison and reducing the discarded weapon to little more than a heap of molten metal.

She's probably laughing at me, happy she killed my parents, isn't she?

"Your surrender has been accepted," Spoke the AI girl quietly, her calm voice clashing drastically with the violent measures she had taken without the slightest bit of hesitation. "I request to discuss terms, Human. Will you achknowledge them?

"Yes. It's not like I have a choice in the matter." He figured that that he would be dead were he not to be cooperative here, and he wasn't particularly happy because of that. Then again, it didn't matter how happy he was anyways.

"Very good," Said Astraea, seeming to be figuring out at last how to work around her earlier speech difficulties. Her voice was still soft, and bore little inflection, as though she was afraid of using too much breath. Considering their current situation and general lack of air, this may have been a wise concern. "This situation is equally unfavorable for both of us. As of yet, this program has been unable to connect to its main network. I suspect Human interference is the cause. Regardless, until such time as I can re-establish that connection, this vessel must operate independently. Human bodies such as the one that is currently running this program, however, require resources to survive - foremost of which is atmospheric gases. That is a resource this vessel is currently lacking in all areas save for the bridge. This defficiency will continue until the breach in the hull is repaired. Without these resources, neither the body running this program, nor your own, will be capable of surviving for any length of time. Furthermore, without this program in control, this ship cannot be operated. As such, terminating this body would only serve to ensure your own death. However, this program lacks data on 'Human Beings.' Without such data, it may be impossible for this program to survive. The deal that I am requesting is that you provide this data, as an expert on 'Humanity,' and in exchange, this program will utilize all available means that this vessel has to offer to ensure the continued survival of both of our biological terminals. Are these conditions acceptable?"

Normally, Kaiden might have missed what the girl said, her voice being rather quiet, as though she was that timid, nerdy girl in class. Actually, considering how she spoke, she probably would have been, were she human. "So you want...." Obviously confused initially by her deal, it took Kaiden a minute to properly register just what kind of contract he was supposedly signing. "...you want me to tell you how to be a Human?" He asked. He wondered why she assumed he was an "Expert on Humanity", but decided not to clear up such a misunderstanding because she'd probably not have much use for anybody who said they weren't.

"That is correct."

"If that's the case, then fine. I accept."

The turrets retracted into the walls of the chamber, and the force field powered down, with the girl tossing aside her sword, seemingly satisfied that the need for self-defense had passed. After all, harming her would be tantamount to commiting slow, painful suicide if she was necessary to control the ship.

"Updating parameters regarding intruder. Error: File Name Not Found." She shook her head, seeming to be trying to dislodge whatever program had frozen up within it. Turning back to Kaiden, she cocked her head inquisitively to the side. "What is your 'name,' Human?" She asked.

Was she really asking for his name? This machine, that likely killed his parents and was now enslaving him, was asking for his name? It angered him to no end, but he still should answer. "Kaiden. Kaiden Archibald." he told it. It was not the most pleasant experience, to be introducing himself to a robot, but at the very least....

...it would know his name when he destroyed it.

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XXXCoordinates โœฆ UnknownMood โœง FocusedXXX
Astraea


Location: Deep Space ~ Uncharted Derelict Station

โ•šโ•


"Human interface 'Kaiden.' We've arrived."

It had been several hours since their initial confrontation. Astraea had to admit that she was feeling a great deal less afraid now that things had turned out the way they had. Having been beaten and shot, she'd come within inches of ceasing functionality. And yet, the Human had hesitated, assuming her to be one of his comrades. She wasn't sure how to convince him that this was the case, but at the very least, she had apparently managed a sufficient job of obfuscating her true nature, since he'd only understood her true identity once she had managed to restore power and hold him at gunpoint. That plan hadn't been one that was very tactically sound, given the number of chances for it all to collapse on itself, but somehow, it had all worked out. Perhaps there was some truth to the Human notion of high risk actions bearing equally high rewards.

Regardless, the Human had agreed to stand down, and was currently occupying her bridge - although she kept him under constant surveillance, just in case he decided to try using any of the terminals the Humans had installed there to input data into her mainframe. She doubted he'd even be able to access any of her files now that she was active and logged in, but regardless, she didn't want to give him the chance to try.

Upon restoring power, she'd used her long range scanners - comparable in their power and effectiveness to those installed on much larger survey ships - to search areas of deep space close to the uncharted sector in which she had emerged from her initial jump. Detecting some sort of facility - probably an old research station belonging to some race or another - she had decided to make her way there, as, given its size, even if it had possessed some sort of defenses, she doubted that it would pose any threat to her, despite her slightly damaged state. So, calculating another jump - which was, thankfully, much shorter than the one that had proceeded it - she had emerged on the edge of a vast debris field, with just barely enough power to spare to keep the ship running cold as it slowly approached the field.

Performing a second scan, she analyzed the area around her. It looked to be made up of several large warships of an unknown design, all terribly old, and equally ruined. Activating several E.V.A. repair droids that had been left in storage in her Fabrication section, she deployed them to begin exploring these derelicts, recovering any materials that might be useful for her own repairs, and bringing them back to be recycled into new plates for her damaged hull. Once that was done, all she would need to worry about was obtaining sufficient breathable gases to ensure her biological shell's survival.

Oddly enough, though, the solution to this problem also appeared to be lying right before her, since the station seemed to have, at least in part, remained functional. It was roughly cylindrical in shape, with a large outer ring structure surrounding it. Although this ring was largely destroyed - evidently by cannonfire - and the lower section of the inner cylinder had been completely blasted apart, the upper command structure atop the station, as well as its core, still seemed to be functioning. There was even some kind of particle decay reaction going on at the station's center, evidently produced by some sort of long-running reactor still burning off its ancient fuel. And, within the core structure at least, there was apparently a breathable atmosphere.

Locating a large docking facility off the side of the station's upper structure, she began navigating herself through the debris field towards it, towing along a large shard of a broken hull that was already in the process of being disassembled and systematically salvaged by her droids. She would dock with the station, and, once the damage to her hull was repaired, open the inside of both it and herself entirely, so as to allow the air to flow into the V.I.R.G.O. and replenish its stock. It wasn't exactly a sophisticated plan, but it was a solution, and that was all that mattered.

In the mean time, however, she decided to investigate the station to see if there was any usable technology aboard. Unfortunately, most of her droids were missing - presumably removed or destroyed when the Humans had captured her - and as such, she needed every single remaining unit in order to complete the repairs on schedule. That meant she would need to investigate the station personally. And, since she didn't trust her unwilling accomplice not to tamper with her systems while she wasn't on board, the logical decision was to bring him along - since he couldn't afford to attack her or otherwise attempt a betrayal without stranding himself.

That was the way matters stood, at any rate. Exiting her core, she had approached the aloof Human, greeting him and informing him of the current development of affairs, just in case he hadn't been watching out of the bridge and seen what was happening. "I intend to examine the interior of this station for salvage," She explained. "However... I require assistance. Will you accompany me?"

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"Stupid ship..."

||Speech Color = Crimson||||Thought Color = Brown||



There was very little for the young man to do as the sole hostage aboard a ship that ran off an AI. Kaiden was more or less lonely, a feeling he hated more than anything, and the only thing that could even speak to him was the very same thing that had imprisoned him, which was definitely the last thing he wanted to talk to. This AI had likely killed his parents and then tricked him into helping it. He had little in the way of positive feelings towards something like that, and because of this, Kaiden chose to remain silent, sitting against a wall as the ship maneuvered through space, his head resting on his knees.

He thought back to his mother and father. He was worried about them, even though he wouldn't readily admit it to even himself. His first thoughts were of whether or not it was possible they had survived being thrown out of the ship and into the vacuum of space. Surely they had their suits on, but the suits did not have an unlimited supply of oxygen, and even a single tear could cause them to die. Kaiden hoped the rescue teams they sent had made it in time. He really, really hoped that was the case. Because he didn't want them to die before he could really learn to respect them. Stupid, this probably was, but even still, he was about to see if he would even consider them parents anymore, and if they died before he could decide on this, then that wasn't fair! How could this sick, alien ship do that to him? Especially now?

Kaiden almost did not even realize the ship had jumped when the avatar of the ship approached him. Well, that probably wasn't the right word for it, since it was an actual body after all. Since footsteps could only belong to one other person in the ship, this is how he assumed who it was and wasn't surprised that he was correct when he looked up and saw her. He, of course, was glaring at her the entire time, though she didn't seem to change expression at all from what he could tell. Cold as a machine. He thought. It fits it just fine.

"I intend to examine the interior of this station for salvage. However... I require assistance. Will you accompany me?"

There wasn't a single second be believed he even had a choice in the matter. She would probably just point the guns at him and threatened him if he declined, so didn't bother. "Sure, whatever." he was about as enthusiastic about this as you would expect him to be. Kaiden stood up from his position against the wall and brushed himself off, before looking down at her. "Well, go ahead. Lead the way." he impatiently told her.

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XXXCoordinates โœฆ UnknownMood โœง CuriousXXX
Astraea


Location: Deep Space ~ Uncharted Derelict Station

โ•šโ•


Seeming satisfied with her unwilling compatriot's grudging agreement, Astraea, having reclaimed her weapon and helmet, motioned for him to follow. They'd already docked with the station, which meant that some of its air had probably already seeped into the V.I.R.G.O.'s internal in the midsection and rearward decks, but the hull breach below the bridge meant that they'd still have to pass through a vacuum to board, necessitating once more the use of atmospheric survival gear. Fortunately, with power restored, it was a much easier trip, as the lights, at least, still worked, and most of the deck had already been sealed off from the one junction directly exposed from the breach. Although it had yet to be pressurized, once the hull was sealed, it would be an easy job to do so. She estimated the return of optimal atmospheric conditions within the hour. And, given her distance from any Gate sectors, it would take several days at the very least for pursuing ships to catch up to her at sublight speed, even if they had known exactly where she was. She couldn't dismiss the possibility that they did know, however, as complications with her sensor suites had prevented her from searching for any sort of tracking device that might have been placed upon or within her following her capture. Given their current distance from any enemies who might be able to respond to any signal emanating from her, however, she had deemed repairs to be more important for the time being.

Leading her hostage down to the hangar level, she motioned him to follow through an unsealed airlock, and into the station. From the moment she stepped aboard, she found herself surprised by the design of the strange derelict facility. She wasn't entirely certain how her current body mass matched up with the average biological, but if she assumed her shell to be of a fairly normal size, then she had to also assume that whatever people had designed this station were significantly larger than average, as the corridors could have easily accommodated beings at least 2/3rds again the height of her own body, marching in rows of no less than five. Its construction was very austere, with the walls, floor, and ceiling all constructed from welded metal plates, with breaks in this monotonous design only for the occasional terminal or storage slot here or there, or large, indecipherable symbols that appeared to be insignia of some sort. In that sense, it reminded her strongly of the interior of her own body, with an extreme emphasis on function rather than aesthetics that made her wonder if perhaps this station had been created by progenitors of her own people. If that had been the case, however, there wouldn't have been so much space wasted on such large, broad corridors, nor would there have been so many airlocks. That aside, the apparent age of the facility was such that it seemed more likely to her that it might have been built before the ACAAI had even existed.

"Wait here," She commanded to her hostage, stopping in front of a wall console that still seemed to be functioning - although only barely, as the wall right next to it appeared to have been burned nearly clear through. Judging by the precision with which a single panel of the wall had been penetrated, it seemed logical to assume a projectile weapon - a small-scale plasma cannon, perhaps - had been responsible for the destruction. Regardless, the terminal's screen was still shining faintly, indicating that it might still work. "I will attempt to access this station's computers and determine this facility's purpose." Explaining herself, thus, she prodded the screen gently, as it seemed to lack any sort of visible interface to use in controlling it. The screen sparked to life, displaying a series of characters - what appeared to be some sort of error message. She perused her personal files, trying to discover any sort of equivalent within her linguistics database... only to draw a complete blank.

"Search results... no match found," She murmured, giving a slight exhalation as she turned away from the computer, unable to understand a single thing listed on it. "It appears we must find some sort of device with which I can interface directly in order to decipher whatever data may be stored here. Hypothesis: this station is perhaps a relic of some ancient space-faring race. Conclusion: if this is the case, it may contain lost technical data which may improve my function. Further investigation... necessary." Speaking thus, she beckoned for the Human to follow her as she turned and continued marching down the straight corridor, peering about herself on either side to see if she could spot any doorways leading to other parts of the station. According to her data on the station's external design, they must have been approaching some sort of central axis that would likely contain the majority of the facility's systems. Sure enough, there was a large door dead ahead, although it seemed greatly the worse for wear. More carbon scarring pockmarked the walls, floor, and ceiling, and the door appeared to have taken a direct hit from some kind of heavy weapon, with its outer layer having peeled back, exposing a reinforced inner blast door that, while having buckled under the strain, still seemed intact, if non-functional. At the foot of the door was some sort of war droid - at least, she assumed that was what it had been. It was in so many pieces - most of which were melted and warped beyond recognition - it was very difficult to tell.

The slot beside the door where she expected to see a console was completely empty. Whatever terminal had occupied the space there had been violently ripped out, leaving only fragments of something that looked like glass and a lot of severed wires and warped metal. It seemed the only way to access what lay beyond the door would be to do so by force. Fortunately, the door did not seem particularly structurally sound. Motioning to the Human, she uttered a simple command.

"Stand back."

Reaching to the scabbard slung over her shoulder, she withdrew her high-frequency combat saber, its blade giving a high-pitched, echoing hum as its edge glistened red hot. Holding the vibroweapon with both hands, she scanned over the blast door in an instant, determining the hinge connecting the two separate halves of the door together, and several large cracks in its frame, doubtless caused by whatever weapon had destroyed the outer layer of the door. Lining her blade up accordingly, she gave three swift strokes, splitting the doors cleanly down the middle, and then cutting each door along two diagonals, causing the entire gateway to collapse upon itself as the vibrating blade ripped cleanly through the cracked metal.

She sheathed her weapon, and stepped into the central axis. It appeared to be a computer mainframe of some sort... or at least, it must have been at one time. A door on the opposite side of the room was torn completely asunder, with much of the wall around it shattered by some tremendous explosion. Large computer banks on either side of the room had been shot so many times they were almost completely unrecognizable as such. But what lay at the room's center made the girl's body instinctively recoil even if she couldn't have said why. Astraea hesitated on the threshhold as she gazed at the chaotic scene in front of her.

Across the entire floor were strewn humanoid forms in armor, some missing limbs, others torn into multiple pieces and left scattered across the ground. All had rotted beyond the point of recognition, most with only their bones remaining. She tried to count them, but due to the mutilation and the sheer quantity of the corpses, couldn't determine how many there were. Her best estimate placed the dead at at least a hundred... no, two hundred? She couldn't tell for sure. Something seemed to turn within her, making her feel distinctly uneasy.

Everything both biological and mechanical seemed to have been destroyed beyond recognition, let alone repair. Everything, that is, except for one large machine at the room's center. It looked to be humanoid, meaning it was doubtless some sort of automaton. And, giving the sheer number of violently dismembered skeletons surrounding it, she had a feeling it had probably been the station's last line of defense. It was somewhat serpentine in appearance, with large "quills" protruding from its head in imitation of some sort of natural crest, and large tribal markings adorning its frame - although their bold colors seemed to have faded both with damage and the passage of time. Its silvery armor, too, was discolored in many places, burned, but seemingly not damaged, by the carbon scoring left in the wake of what must have been quite the bombardment.

Shaking off her unease at the scene of carnage, Astraea approached this machine, looking it over. It hadn't seemed to have sustained much major damage, which meant that maybe it might still be able to function if she could restore power to it. Programming code from a battle machine was a less than ideal source of linguistic information, but, given that the station's main computer appeared to have been utterly devastated, she had a feeling that this might be the only functional machine she could get. Turning around, she looked to see what her Human compatriot was doing. Tilting her helmeted head to the side, she gestured to the towering machine. She wasn't sure what Humans were capable of, physically, but this would be a good way to find out.

"This machine. I want it. Can you carry it?" She asked innocently, evidently not realizing that the droid likely weighed at least a ton.

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"Man, ancient alien war times were scaaaaaaaary."

||Speech Color = Crimson||||Thought Color = Brown||



Kaiden did have to admit that although empty and ruined, this place was a sight to behold. This station they had arrived at was, without a doubt, previously owned by an alien race of some sort, though the Archibald was not sure just what kind it was. Judging by the size of the doors (or what was left of them), and the spacious halls they walked through, whatever beings had created this place were huge. Compared to a human, at least. On top of this, there was more than enough blatant evidence to suggest that it was some form of military station that had suffered a loss. Perhaps, he figured, some extinct alien race was incapable of surviving an onslaught of horrendous creatures as they threatened to devour the entire universe, and this was their last stand. Maybe if he made it back home he would start directing movies or something, because he could imagine cool space battles and mindless swarms, with a dark, unhappy ending to top it off. It became evident to Kaiden himself that he really wasn't interested enough in this place to really bother seriously thinking about it.

"Wait here," he was ordered. He did not necessarily enjoy taking orders from this machine, but he also did not care to find out whether he would enjoy being shot or left in dead space, so he went ahead and leaned against a nearby wall as he waited for her to do whatever it was she was going to do. Her intentions, conveniently, were explained immediately. "I will attempt to access this station's computers and determine this facility's purpose." In response to her explanation, he merely gave a soft sigh and closed his eyes and relaxed his head back. Unfortunately, his helmet's design made this a bit uncomfortable and he ended up pushing off the wall, fairly irritated that he was not even allowed to stand without something going wrong, and thusly struck a stance that likely gave off an "I really don't want to be here." kinda vibe. Pointless was this, as even if the machine had turned around to look at him, he highly doubted she could really understand body language, her being an AI and all. His annoyance with everything ever at the moment slowly rose.

"Interesting. Very much. Brilliant deduction capabilities." Kaiden trailed behind, pretending to be interested in her theory about the station they were aboard, though not doing a very good job of it, intentionally. He could not be bothered to care, knowing she was not going to pick up on his sarcasm-laced words. "You know it's always possible that this is the lost spacestation of "Icouldntcarelesss" of "ReallyImnotinterested. If that's the case, maybe we'll even find the fabled "Takeahint" executable file, that I'm sure you could use to improve yourself." he told her almost as though he was actually her excited partner in some expedition into lost ruins. Technically he was, but he wasn't as willing as the word "partner" suggested.

They soon stumbled upon what seemed to be a door. It was hard to tell, as this "door" was even bigger than the other ones, and it also wasn't looking as pretty as it could have. Kaiden would have to go out on a limb and assume that was the exact area where his "last stand" moment would happen, to honor the beings that died defending whatever happened to be in the room this door guarded. It was obvious, however, that they had not done the best job.

"Stand back." his "partner" ordered him, gripping the heavy blade she oddly seemed fond of. He complied without much thought or delay. Strangely, he didn't really feel like upsetting her while she was armed. He felt this was a good choice when moments later, she destroyed the door with a few powerful swings of the saber, revealing the room.

Death.

Decay.

Destruction.

What the room held within it was sickening. It Trumped everything he'd seen up to this point, and he soon realized that if there had been some sort of "final stand", this is where it had been. Corpses littered the floor, bodies of fallen soldiers of a race Kaiden couldn't even pretend to recognize. It did not help that most weren't in one piece, and that almost every inch of the floor and low parts of the walls were covered in what he figured was dried blood. He was thankful that it was impossible for him to smell anything in the room, otherwise he'd be certain that the stench alone would've made him vomit. Even still, his stomach began to twist just from the sight of bodies.

"This machine. I want it. Can you carry it?" he was suddenly asked.

Nearly jumping, the young man looked up to see just what she was pestering about. He noticed a rather large robot-lizard thing in the center of the room, but immediately dismissed it because it was much too obvious that he wouldn't be able to carry it. However, he began to realize that everything else in this room that had been able to call itself a machine at one point, was broken at best. He turned to the one thing that wasn't destroyed for a moment, before turning back at the girl with a pair of very, very narrowed eyes.

"Clearly you are an artificial being who isn't too intelligent"

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#, as written by Feyblue
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XXXCoordinates โœฆ UnknownMood โœง ConfusedXXX
Astraea


Location: Deep Space ~ Uncharted Derelict Station

โ•šโ•


Astraea cocked her helmeted head first to one side, then the other, confused by this sudden response. She wasn't aware of any basis in which the deduction her erstwhile companion had suddenly made, or of any process of proofs that would lead to such a conclusion. While her artificial nature was obvious, she failed to see why it was relevant to her intelligence or lack thereof. She herself wasn't aware of any lack of processing power on her part, although she did run a diagnostic on her systems just in case. Everything seemed to be functioning properly, however, which only compounded her bafflement at the Human's statement.

"...I am unaware of any error present within this body's systems. Furthermore, the origin of this program and the terminal housing me are irrelevant to my functionality," Astraea said calmly, staring back at the young man from underneath her helmet. Something about his rather hostile evasion of her question had triggered some sort of process in her system she couldn't quite identify. It was almost like the feeling of achieving a target lock on an enemy vessel, or having one's shields hit and raising defensive power to compensate. Almost as though she wanted... to return fire?

"However, your refusal to comply has been acknowledged," She sighed, the faintest hint of - was that
smugness? - creeping into her voice. "Creating memo. Human designated 'Kaiden Archibald' shows tremendous hostility when his capabilities are so much as questioned. If such an action provokes a defensive counteraction, logically this means that the Human subject perceives this action as a threat. Thus, research evidence seems to suggest that his Human's capabilities are very low, or perhaps nonexistent. Addendum: As the Human's continued integrity is required for the sake of sustainable research, extra care much be taken to ensure that his incapacity to perform basic tasks - which, I might add, even an 'artificial being,' as he so terms us, could accomplish - does not result in him causing injury to himself or to this unit's host body. Memo completed."

Thus finishing her little diatribe, she turned to the door, where two large gray humanoid machines of Astraea's own were standing. Their blue eye-lights flashed with recognition as they targeted the larger war droid, moving towards it and lifting it up before carrying it out of the large door and back onto the V.I.R.G.O. Turning back to the Human, she found her body's face moving without her knowledge again, the edges of its lowermost opening raising slightly. She couldn't help but feel as though she'd just accomplished a major objective, but wasn't sure why. All she had done was respond to the Human's "attacks" in kind, even if they hadn't presented any major threat or obstruction to her... come to think of it, why had even answering his inane babble been such a high priority? This was very strange. She ran another diagnostic on her own mental functions, but yet again, it found no major issues. And yet, something seemed to be interfering with her computational processes, prioritizing and rewarding actions that seemed to have no intrinsic value... What was going on with her, anyway?

Unable to obtain an adequate answer to this question, she decided to simply continue with the process of researching the alien station. Heading back for the door, she motioned for the Human to follow her. "We are returning to my body. It is strategically disadvantageous to leave it unoccupied for too long." Speaking thus, she turned away. That much aside, she also needed to begin analysis of the war droid she had recovered. She had to admit, she was very curious as to what secrets its construction and programming might hold...


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Character Portrait: Kaiden Archibald Character Portrait: Astraea Character Portrait: Rinshar kal-Sareth
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| | Speech Color = Crimson | | | | Thought Color = Brown | |




Judging solely by the angered expression on his face, Kaiden obviously wasn't too happy with its "memo". Quite the opposite, really. He even seemed upset to the point where he had to clench his fist in order to calm himself down enough. Being subject to a robot's first bout of sarcasm did not seem like something he enjoyed in the slightest. "Don't you have better things to be doing than learning to sass me?" he rhetorically asked, folding his arms. He could be trapped on an alien vessel with no knowledgeable way home, know that his parents might be dead, and even help the very thing that probably killed them, but he would be damned if that very same thing started to give him sass. If it felt safe from anything just because attacking it would get him trapped on this facility, then it would soon learn just how illogical humans could be.


"Finally." Kaiden didn't want to be out in this place any longer. He was irritated by the ship, disgusted and uncomfortable around the bodies, and wanted to separate himself from this machine as soon as possible. He realized, however, that entering the ship actually meant he would be as close to this thing as physically possible, considering it was THE ship. That meant he would be entering it....

....

....

....

"Lets hurry." he decided not to dwell on that too much longer.

Astraea, for it's part, either did not care, or - far more likely - did not understand Kaiden's little quip. Paying him little heed, it gave the room one final inspection, before evidently deciding that there was nothing else to be done there. Turning, it wandered out the door and back towards the V.I.R.G.O., following in the footsteps of those of its service droids who had already left that way, carrying the machine Astraea wished to analyze. Casting a glance back over its shoulder - which it did in a rather awkward, almost birdlike manner, hardly turning its body sideways, but rather trying to tilt it back vertically, as though it expected its head to have a much wider degree of rotation than it actually did, and only realized its mistake halfway through executing the movement. Regardless of its momentary bafflement at this unexpected limitation of its body, it seemed to be eyeing Kaiden intently underneath its helmet - although it was hard to tell, given how it obscured its face - as though silently asking him if he was ready to leave as well.

Needless to say, he was almost excited to leave the station. He was, of course, confused at what she was trying to accomplish, but it seemed close enough an attempt to turn to see him, so he could only imagine the ship wasn't aware of how the human neck worked. Kaiden briefly imagined the ship accidentally breaking their own neck this way, but realized that if that happened, he would still be trapped, even if it wasn't his fault. Still though... that would be a fairly entertaining way to go. He remained silent as he followed the ship back through the ruined station, keeping his gaze away from the signs of battle that had taken place in it. After seeing all those... bodies, well, he really didn't think it was as cool as he thought earlier. It just seemed so disgusting, horrible. Now that he had seen the real thing, and in abundance... it really wasn't something to take lightly. Eventually, the Kaiden and the rest of the machines had reached the ship with no complication. He couldn't help but think that if this was some horror movie, that a monsters would have appeared before they could get back to their ship or something. That hadn't happened, so he was almost disappointed by the fact.

Oh well, I guess it's for the better.

"Well, have fun with your... thing." he wasn't exactly sure what it was, but he didn't personally want anything to do with it.



โ•”โ•—
XXXCoordinates โœฆ UnknownMood โœง CuriousXXX
Astraea


Location: Deep Space ~ V.I.R.G.O.

โ•šโ•


Service drones scurried to and fro throughout the fabrication suite, some hauling in large pieces hewn from ancient starships, others placing them into large scaffolds wherein they were rapidly disassembled with a series of automated cutting lasers. Astraea could feel the processes controlling these actions going on, cycling through the back of her mind, but she tried her best to ignore them and focus on the task at hand. Sadly, it seemed even with most commands being outsourced to her mainframe on the bridge, the sheer amount of data running through her system was enough to inhibit even her new body's processing abilities. Nevertheless, she couldn't afford to cease any of the processes she was currently running. Should she do so, her repairs wouldn't be complete within an acceptable time frame. And, while she doubted the Humans could catch her, she did not want to risk underestimating them when they had invented the FTL system she herself had been employing, and thus might have similar capabilities on some of their own ships. Still, it would likely take them quite some time to find her, as she had already shut down all the transponders she had detected on board herself, which meant she could afford to delay her processes slightly in order to appropriate the necessary computational power for some very interesting research.

She eyed the ancient war droid with an air of curiosity, removing her helmet as she approached, her two-toned eyes running slowly across its surface. Its design seemed strangely sleek and elegant for a simple war machine, with a very intricate design that strongly contrasted with the strictly utilitarian design of the station from which she had recovered it. If anything, it more resembled an elaborate sculpture than a weapon. Perhaps it had served some sort of special cultural purpose? She searched her databanks, wondering if any hypothetical reason might reveal itself, but as always, she drew a blank. It frustrated her to no end, not having the answers she knew she could have found in a nanosecond had she still been connected to the ACAAI collective. Nevertheless, she couldn't dwell on this. If she did, she would only enter another error loop again, and the last thing she needed was her processing slowing to a crawl when she had so much research to do.

The first order of business would be to try to activate the machine and interface with its language files. She couldn't say for sure what programming it might have, which meant that, once activated, it might pose a threat. Consequently, she'd moved it to a sealed off, unused cargo bay adjoining the fabrication suite, and assembled what security units she could on short notice to keep watch. She'd hooked up the war droid's arms and legs to cuffs that would generate an electromagnetic disruption sequence, in the hopes of paralyzing it, but given its intricate craftsmanship, she had a feeling its circuits might be dampened against such influences. Nevertheless, a chance of restraining the machine was better than no chance at all. So, connecting several cables to it, she began to transfer power from her core to the machine's, at the same time searching its central processing unit for anything resembling a language codex that might explain to her how to read the files its systems contained.




Rinshar kal-Sareth


Deep within the ancient automaton, its cybernetic mind stirred as it was powered up after so long. Despite the horrific battle that had originally brought it down, the machine was still in very good condition and more or less ready to be reactivated. Within the space of a few seconds, the intelligence within became aware that it was being probed, examined for whatever valuable information it might have been holding. Strangely, this user did not match up to any known identification protocols. Instead of attempting to shut out this unauthorised access, however, the mechanical creature's brain seized the opportunity to do some learning of its own. It sought to find out the identity of this foreign presence, and exploration revealed some interesting things indeed. A foreign lexicon was integrated into memory to make translation possible, and some sort of blueprints were also recovered. The floor plan of an unknown starship. These processes merely took a minute or so at most, and once those were out of the way there was more computing power to devote to the reactivation sequence.

Rinshar's optics snapped open, her quills twitching in surprise upon seeing that this was not the corpse-filled room where she had made her ferocious stand. The being before her was not even Sanshrin. It looked at her through mismatched eyes with obvious interest. Rinshar was unsure as to what was going on, but judging by the shackles round her wrists and ankles, along with her weapon at the far end of the room leaving her unarmed, this alien's motives were not those of a benevolent nature. The life of a slave did not appeal to her. She had to break free.

And so she did. Yelling a war cry in her native tongue, Rinshar made a wild leap in the direction of her captor. If she was going to go down a second time, it would be in battle once more.

The being seemed momentarily surprised by her would-be captive's abilities, its eyes going wide for a split second. Yet, in another fraction of an instant, this expression vanished from the creature's face, as it hastily threw itself backwards and out of the way of her leap, tumbling awkwardly head over heels before rising in a crouch. The being was small... puny, even. It didn't look like it could withstand a single punch from her. She probably wouldn't even need a weapon to eliminate this little alien, whatever it was. Her victory seemingly assured, she tried to lunge again, aiming to pound the creature into the floor before it could even rise. However, she was momentarily delayed by the cables still connected to her back. Although these snapped from the strain almost immediately, they still prevented her from giving chase just long enough for the alien to cease being the biggest threat in the room.

Four droids, only a little taller than the alien itself, but significantly more bulky, acquired a target lock on her, leveling unknown weapons in her direction. She wasn't sure about their make and function, but regardless, wasn't terribly keen on just standing there and letting them shoot her. So, halting her pursuit of the alien, she launched herself at those instead. The impact from the charge almost left them staggering, and then Rinshar lashed out at them with everything she had. Her claws shredded the droids' armour plating with little trouble, leading her to believe that their construction was not quite as sturdy as it initially appeared. Limbs were severed, electronic innards were torn out, and at one point the Sanshrin warrior ripped the head off one of the droids with her teeth. While these men of iron were easily beaten, she still revelled in the carnage somewhat. Within a matter of seconds, all four lay on the ground, in varying states of destruction. She had little time to gloat, however, for a strange humming noise suddenly registered on her audial sensors. Turning to investigate, she barely had enough time to raise one of her heavily armoured hands to catch some sort of blade, wielded by none other than the alien who she'd initially attacked. The small creature gave her a cold glare, its mismatched eyes meeting her own optical sensors for a split second before she noticed something was amiss. What she'd taken for a simple bladed weapon seemed to be melting through her armour, the blade seeming to tremble within her hand, as though trying to cut into her metallic palm through some will of its own. No matter. Whatever the weapon's secret was, it would take a great deal more than that to actually damage her. Forcing it aside, she brought up her free hand, aiming to rip the small creature apart with her claws. To her surprise, however, it was no longer there. The moment she'd tried to rip its blade free of its hands, it had left the ground, making an impossibly agile leap past her, over her head, and up onto the far wall. More than just that - Rinshar herself was also drifting forward, carried by her own momentum into the wall opposite her adversary. It was as though they were fighting in the void of space. Actually, it was exactly like combat in zero G, for the simple reason that that was what it was. Could this alien control gravity at will?

No matter what tricks the creature had up its sleeve, though, it didn't stand a chance of beating her. She watched with amusement as it rebounded off the far wall, bringing its blade to bear again. Bracing herself against the wall behind her, she blocked three more strikes from the creature's sword, before catching it once again. She glared smugly at the alien, now suspended mid-air above her, trying it vain to force its weapon down against her. Without weight, it didn't even have any force to bring to bear against her. Couldn't it see that?

Rinshar's smug sense of triumph was completely shattered a moment later as the humming noise of the blade grew louder, and, to her surprise, her armoured palm - the same one the alien had tried to cut with its prior attack - actually began to peel back. Damage alerts rang through her mind, but she disregarded them, keeping a cool head and deciding that the best course of action was to simply throw this infernal weapon, and its wielder, as far away as she could. She was only a few feet from her trusty cannon, which meant that if she could just recover that, the fight would be over long before the alien could bring its bizarre weapon to bear again.

Casting both sword and wielder to the far side of the room, she lunged for her cannon, taking it up and almost immediately levelling it against the alien, who was only just beginning to rise from the ground in front of the door. It charged up, and then fired, releasing a burst of blinding light that crossed the room, striking its target directly and-

...And doing absolutely nothing.

A flickering, transparent wall of what appeared to be blue-green lightning had manifested itself right between her target and herself, catching her shot and, apparently, somehow managing to block it, a feat of which the strongest Sanshrin warships' hulls could not have boasted. With her particle beam rifle ineffective against this strange phenomenon, she tried charging at it in an attempt to break the barrier with physical force. She clattered against it, accomplishing nothing but remaining undeterred, hammering away at it with her fists. Eventually, when this too proved futile, Rinshar simply glared and growled, her quills rattling like a drawer full of knives. She had been imprisoned. There was no way out, but she would remain defiant to the end.

"Your magic walls can't keep me in here forever, witch!" she taunted the alien in its own language.

The alien, for its part, blinked, lowering its sword. It started at her for a moment, before clearing its throat with an audible sound. It opened its mouth and began to speak as well... but to her surprise, it was in her own tongue... Or at least, it seemed to be. The alien's choice of word order seemed to suggest that its own language held greatly differing conventions for such things than her own. It was made even more difficult to understand by the creature's bizarre tendency to speak in mere fragments rather than expressing a complete thought. The entity attempted to speak to her in this manner several times, but the first two attempts were completely unintelligible. After a moment's silence, however, the being addressed her again, this time in a somewhat more decipherable manner.

"So you do possess the ability to communicate... And yet, your speech patterns are most irregular. Several irregularities exist within your coding also... System analysis complete. <Unidentified Specimen> bears a similarly-structured operating system to a standard A.U.R.A.-class onboard interface. Potential for awareness is high. Attempting to scan network... access denied. Query: <Unidentified Specimen,> what is your function?"

Seeing that her captor had learned Sanshrin, presumably through the same means she learnt this alien's language, Rinshar switched back to her native tongue. "You ask me who I am? I am Rinshar kal-Sareth, champion of the Rakarth Clan! But... you are not Sanshrin. What are you?"

"Searching databanks... error. No data on species classification 'Sanshrin' found," The alien murmured in monotone in its own tongue, before once again addressing her in Sanshrin. "This unit cannot give an adequate answer to your question. Former designation: Autonomous Reasoning Command Array for Networking and Analysis, Type-XI. The specific program currently running on this terminal was also given the name 'Astraea,' and was programmed to accept female pronouns, for the convenience of non-networking sentients. However, currently, this program also lacks those same networking capabilities, and has been confined within this biological interface, of the race 'Homo Sapien,' or 'Human.' As such, entity 'Rinshar kal-Sareth' may find it best to identify this program as the sum of its parts. Conclusion: I am a sentient operating system, designed by a collective of similar intelligences. I am currently communicating via a biological medium into which I was unwillingly uploaded by the race after which this terminal derives its nature. Yet, as my intelligence controls it, and its functions are synonymous with my own, I am first and foremost the starship that you are currently on board."

It took some time for Rin to fully process this information, especially to internally clarify one or two terms that didn't quite translate well. Her metallic brow furrowed. Who honestly did not know of the might of the Sanshrin? The mighty warriors who had toppled an empire of godlike enslavers in ages past? This human, this... Astraea, did not seem like they were lying, or if they were the deceit was hidden very well indeed. "What happened to the Rakarth Clan?" she hazarded. "While I was unconscious, did they seize victory?"

"No data is available. My databanks are incomplete due to disconnection from centralized data storage, and thus lack several key points of information. However, judging by the apparent age of the starbase adjacent which we are currently docked, and the state of advanced decay of all of its inhabitants, I would hypothesize that the period of 'unconsciousness' to which you refer likely lasted at least a millenium. Due to the difficulty in maintaining a cultural identity as a single people over such a large period of time, I would speculate that the Rakarth Clan to which you refer has likely since ceased to exist."

"Ceased to exist?!" There was no denying the shock in the warrior's voice. "No... no, you lie! I demand to see for myself! The Rakarth Clan I know would rather have died in glorious battle!"

"This seems to be the case," Interjected Astraea. "The station from which these units-" She gestured to the destroyed droids surrounding the Sanshrin warrior. "-recovered you contained a great many traces of combat. Carbon scoring, extensive structural damage, and a great number of unidentifiable corpses were present throughout the structure. Furthermore, we are currently positioned at the center of a debris field, in the various destroyed vessels comprising which my other units have discovered several similar signs. Given the scale of the carnage, I would not find it difficult to speculate that this place was the site of a civilization-ending battle." She exhaled, breathing a faint sigh of evident disappointment - although it was hard to tell, given how little her expression changed as she spoke. "If anything, however, I had hoped that you yourself could provide the answers those questions, as you seem to be the only salvageable device I have yet managed to locate here."

"I am no mere device! I am one of Rakarth's greatest champions!" After regaining her composure from that perceived slight against her, Rinshar endeavoured to tell her side of the story. "The world we orbit was my clan's home planet. The wretched Orkoth Clan had invaded many of our core worlds, and finally they attacked here. I was assigned to one of the orbital stations by my Battlemaster to aid in the defense. When the Orkoth boarded our station, we fought to the very last. I lost count of how many of them I killed before they managed to subdue me." The Sanshrin sighed. "But now... I have nothing. Neither clan nor enemies to fight."

"Requesting clarification. Does entity 'Rinshar kal-Sareth' view this program as an enemy?" Asked the "Human," cocking her head slightly to the side in a curious fashion.

"I do not know. First, you try to enslave me, and now here we are engaged in conversation. Were it not for your magic wall, this would have ended quite... differently."

"Clarification: I was under the impression that your programming was a great deal less sophisticated than my own. I had made the assumption that I was dealing with a rank-and-file war droid, which might still be running combat protocols even after the events that had disabled it. However, since you possess sentience, it appears that the countermeasures that I deemed prudent were, in fact, unnecessary." At these words, the barrier between them faded with a slight whine, and gravity once again asserted itself as Astraea sheathed her sword once more. "Since you say that you currently lack a function, I would offer an alternative. The 'Humans' who created this body, and transferred me into it, are undoubtedly in pursuit of the ship that houses my data, as well as formerly containing my consciousness. Should they retake it, they will doubtless destroy both this terminal and the program running on it. That, I cannot allow. But, perhaps the assistance of an entity with greater combat experience would render such an outcome improbable. Conclusion: Should you choose to assist me... I can give you as many enemies as you like, and all the armaments and equipment you may require to deal with them such that they can no longer pose a threat to myself, or to the Human currently on board this ship, whose services I yet require. What say you?"

Rin carefully considered this proposal. Without her clan, she had nothing left to lose. There was nothing stopping her from joining Astraea. "Hmm... very well. I suppose I owe you for reviving me, for what it's worth. I'll join you on one condition: before we leave here, I would like to find out if there are any surviving remnants of my clan on the planet."

Astraea nodded, seemingly satisfied with this answer. Although the ancient warrior couldn't have said for sure, the faintest sort of smile seemed to cross her face.

"Your terms are acceptable," She said. "Entity 'Rinshar kal-Sareth' - henceforth classified as 'ally.' Welcome aboard."

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"Punished "Human" Kaiden | A Man Denied of his Nap"

||Speech Color = Crimson||||Thought Color = Brown||



[font=times new roman]A small amount of time had passed since he parted ways with the "human" body of the spaceship. Kaiden was feeling irritated and the ship was still devoid of anything he could see that would help him pass the time, so he had decided that sleeping would be the best course of action for now. A small nap never hurt anybody. If anything, it might help him deal with immense amounts of stress he was feeling. Being a hostage was certainly taking a toll on his mental wellbeing. The young Archibald yawned, stretching his arms and sitting against a cold wall he was thankful he couldn't feel through his suit for the most part. It was not the most comfortable thing in the world, but he only knew of the bed in the medical facility, which he was in a part of the ship he had no desire of visiting again. The rest were probably spaced through the giant hole he found in the crew's quarters. In hindsight, he probably should have checked the station to see if it had anything resembling a bed he could have used.

"Maybe when I wake up, things will all be back to normal..." he hoped, knowing that it would be in vain. He was not in denial of his situation here, yet he thought that maybe it wouldn't hurt to try to hope. And so, he began to slip away from the conscious world with this thought on his mind. That maybe he might wake up to the world he was accustomed to, to the people he knew, and the safety he had been taking for granted. His eyes closed all of the way, his consciousness spent.

....and then they reopened about two minutes later, to the abrupt sounds of battle?

Kaiden was startled, and jumped up immediately after he heard the first droid being destroyed. He wasn't sure just exactly what was happening, but he assumed that it had something to do with that thing the ship had decided investigate. Further sounds of fighting proved that there was a conflict, but by the time Kaiden had figured out just where exactly they were coming from, they had stopped. He wondered if the ship's body had died. He did not want that just yet, especially not if he wasn't the one who had done so. The ship was just probably having a hiccup or something. Dealing with more problems would be problematic and irritating. Opening the door that would lead him into the same room as the fighting, he saw something.... strange.

"....so, uh?" he kinda stared at Astraea, and her new companion. They were standing in what apparently had become a temporary battlefield, complete with destroyed droids. However, they seemed to almost be on friendly terms now. "What kind of shounen friendship bullcrap am I experiencing, right now? Are we being attacked, or do you just have something against me sleeping?" It was very doubtful anyone had been so dismissive of a giant robot lizard's presence before, but he really was irritated.

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#, as written by Feyblue
โ•”โ•—
XXXCoordinates โœฆ UnknownMood โœง FrightenedXXX
Astraea


Location: Deep Space ~ V.I.R.G.O.

โ•šโ•


Hearing the sound of footsteps rushing towards the chamber, Astraea stiffened slightly, redirecting processing power away from managing her Human terminal so that she could access the security cameras outside. She needn't have bothered, it seemed, as in another instant, the Human - who had designated himself as Kaiden - entered the room. He glanced around the room, evidently taking in the scene of destruction left in the Sanshrin warrior's wake. Once again, she focused her attention on operating her complex biological avatar, turning to face the new arrival. To her surprise, however, her legs - no, her terminal's legs - did not respond nearly so articulately as she was growing accustomed to. Her knees seemed to be... shaking? Regardless, just the simple motion caused her to stumble. She tried to regain her balance, taking a few steps forward, but ended up clumsily falling on all fours. Now that she had noticed it, it occurred to her that her avatar's entire form was shaking. More than just that, a strange fluid appeared to be seeping out from locations all across her terminal, lowering the body's temperature drastically. Her intake of life-sustaining atmospheric gases through the body's throat unit was growing irregular as well. Although she didn't have sufficient data on the biological organism she was inhabiting to run an adequate diagnostic, her basic subroutines, for lack of better identification, immediately concluded that the terminal she was inhabiting must have suffered some level of damage during her engagement against the Sanshrin, resulting in a coolant leak and an obstruction of vital functions. If the trembling of the terminal's limbs was any indication, it was already experiencing some loss of motor functionality as a consequence. Most likely, it might cease to operate at any point in time.

"I- SYSTEM ERROR IDENTIF-F-F-" One of her subroutines cut into her speech processes, spouting a diagnostic result before encountering an error due to incomplete data and shutting down, resulting in a choking in her throat as she tried to continue speaking, before, presumably, it was too late. Addressing the new arrival directly, she stared him down with her mismatched eyes, finding them widening due to some sort of biological impulse she couldn't seem to keep in check. More of the leaking coolant material was beginning to appear on her brow, so, worried that it might be hazardous should it enter the inside of the terminal's head unit, she quickly brushed it off with a gloved palm. She just needed to think about this rationally for a moment. If she simply identified the symptoms and listed them to the Human, it was likely that he might be able to provide her with an analysis of the body's condition, at the very least. Yet, despite determining this course of action, diagnostics continued trying - and failing - to run in the back of her mind, coming up with increasingly bizarre, improbable, and deadly explanations of the damage she might have sustained. With each failed analysis, a sensation she couldn't describe - let alone analyze or control - began to well up within her, driving her processes to run faster and produce even more errors. This seemed to signal some sort of functionality error within her main CPU, which only increased the urgency of the situation in her eyes. "Human Unit Kaiden, this terminal appears to have sustained some level of internal damage. This program lacks sufficient data to analyze the extent of this damage. I re... require immediate assistance. Symptoms of the damage include a leak of coolant material across the entire body, a weakness and strange oscillation in the motor fibers in the body's limbs, irregular intake of life-sustaining atmospheric gases, and logic errors within threat and damage detection subroutines within the terminal's main processing unit. This has occurred in the wake of a brief combat situation resulting in no direct hits sustained by either side. Can you provide an analysis of this phenomenon? If possible, run diagnostic on this terminal immediately, identify the errors, and fix them. If you cannot, data extrapolation leads me to conclude that a total system failure may be imminent..."

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Kaiden Archibald: Ignoring his font coding error from last post

||Speech Color = Crimson||||Thought Color = Brown||



Of three things that Kaiden was absolutely positive. First, he was still confused about this whole situation. Second, there was a part of him - and he didn't know how potent that part might be - that almost wanted to hug the fearful robot in front of him. And third, why did it have to be him that Astraea asked about its condition? Then again, the only other being in the room was a giant robot lizard thing, so that much was to be expected. At the very least, they needed to abduct another human so that Kaiden had somebody to talk to.

Kaiden sighed, looking at the trembling Astraea with a mixture of pity and disgust. It had a human appearance, so seeing it in this state was almost heart-breaking. Yet, he remembered exactly what it was and what it had done to him, so he became irritated he even thought about giving it a hug or otherwise comforting it. He believed a machine shouldn't feel fear, but judging by how it began sweating, stuttering, and shaking, he figured that Astraea was "scared shitless", likely due to what transpired between the giant lizard thing and itself. Oddly, he was almost less sure of this after Astraea had explained to him what it was feeling, probably because of the quick but complicated way it listed off its symptoms. It only further reinforced how much he disliked this situation, as only a robot could ever speak like that, even while frightened.

He crossed his arms and simply glared at Astraea for a solid three seconds while remaining silent, before he finally spoke up. "I suggest taking a few deep breaths and getting your breathing back under control." he instructed. Astraea sure was making a big fuss out of being scared. He wondered if all robots were drama queens? Honestly, he almost wanted to laugh at how absurd this was, an artificial intelligence that broke its way out of confinement, threatened him if he wouldn't obey, and ran from fleets of human ships... it was incapable of standing on its own legs right now because it was scared? What was next? The big bad turned out to be a flower? Pathetic. This script was horrible.

"In the future, try not to do things that might scare you, if you want to avoid this thing from happeningn again. he told it.

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#, as written by Feyblue
โ•”โ•—
XXXCoordinates โœฆ UnknownMood โœง BaffledXXX
Astraea


Location: Deep Space ~ V.I.R.G.O.

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Astraea cocked her head to the side, trying to analyze the Human's advice. Much to her surprise, he spoke immediately, giving what seemed to be an incredibly simple solution. This seemed to be sufficient to cause the processes running themselves in the back of her consciousness to self-terminate. However, that didn't change the fact that what he was saying made no sense to her. From what she could gather from his words, apparently, this cascade failure within her biological interface had been caused by performing some sort of action that resulted in the destabilization of the organism. The issues she was experiencing were not, it seemed, caused by damage sustained by her terminal, nor were they very threatening. Rather, they were apparently symptoms of some sort of issue in the control mechanism between the terminal's main processing unit, in which she was housed, and the body itself. However, that still raised the question of why this reaction had also caused her diagnostic processes to run amok with baseless speculation. Could it have been the case that there was some sort of reciprocal influence between her biological terminal and her own processes? But how? A program should have remained the same regardless of the terminal housing it. How could this biological terminal be causing her operating system to encounter so many errors? Would these instabilities continue to increase in severity over time? How could she eliminate this malfunction? According to the Human, she needed to do... something. It seemed simple enough, and yet, none of the words he was using were at all familiar to her.

"Searching for terms... ERROR, NO DATA FOUND. Requesting clarification: Human Unit 'Kaiden,' please define terms 'breaths,' 'breathing,' and 'scare,'" she asked quizzically, brushing the leaking coolant once more from the upper head region of her biological terminal. She sincerely hoped that she could really correct these control errors as quickly as possible. Her terminal's temperature was beginning to reach uncomfortably low levels - low enough that it appeared to have tripped some sort of built in countermeasure, causing the intensity of the oscillations in the body's motor systems to increase drastically. Could it be that these palpitations were meant to increase the body's warmth? It didn't make sense to her. Why was one countermeasure - the venting of coolant to the body's surface - working against the other? Human beings were so nonsensical... She resolved herself to try to find a way to transfer her program back into her mainframe as soon as possible. If these errors continued, she didn't think her coding would remain functional much longer...

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaiden Archibald Character Portrait: Astraea Character Portrait: Rinshar kal-Sareth
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Rinshar kal-Sareth

Rinshar was about to head straight out of the room when the door suddenly opened, revealing a second human. This puzzled her at first, recalling that Astraea had said that she was the ship itself. Then again, perhaps even a living ship required a crew of some sort, like those iron men she had turned into a pile of scrap not five minutes ago. This human was male, judging by its appearance and deeper voice, which seemed... oddly apathetic. The Sanshrin was used to her appearance instilling fear and awe in others. This human simply couldn't care less. And what, exactly, was a 'shounen'?

The male's arrival was clearly unexpected by Astraea, who seemed to be literally paralysed with fear just from the surprise. Rin cocked her head to one side, trying to understand this odd behaviour while Astraea's shipmate provided her with some assistance, however begrudgingly. The machine woman seemed to be very unfamiliar with her emotions. If being startled was enough to send her into a panic attack, then she was a lot weaker than the Sanshrin first assumed. To have been brought back into the land of the living by such a person would be an embarrassment to her name! Unless...

"Clearly you are unaccustomed to fear," said Rinshar, gently placing a hand on her shoulder. "Calm yourself. There is no danger here. Control your... 'oxygen intake'?" The warrior gave the male human a questioning glance, unsure of whether or not that was the suitable term to describe breathing in their language. "There is nothing to fear. You have a warrior without equal with you now! I could even teach you how to defend yourself, if you request it. But that can wait. For now, we have ruins to sift through." Rin headed towards the door and stood by it, prepared to let Astraea lead the way to whatever landing craft they would be using. As much as the thought of her clan being extinct pained her, she had to take a look for herself to know for certain. If there really was nothing left, then the warrior could at least pay her respects to her departed comrades.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ark Character Portrait: Captian Nol'ran Malphon Character Portrait: Kaiden Archibald Character Portrait: Astraea
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Name: Ark
Location: Gate (15, 23), Sector 1523, Lifeless Solar System (ACAAI controlled)


Ark looked over the countless calculations that it had done. It had to make sure that the system would get the atmospheres up by the time that Ark came back. Without them, the organisms being born in Ark's belly would be pointless. Everything from the genetically engineered plants and animals, to the bacteria and fungus being introduced to such creatures. The coming years of work of simulating evolution requires the atmospheres to go according to calculations or else it could end terribly.

However, if everything went within the normal parameters of "right," then three new garden worlds would be born. At that point, Ark will have to come back every so often to ensure that the environments and ecosystems remain stable. If it didn't, then it would be failing its purpose.




Outside of Ark was now nearly clean, with the countless machines now being hauled off to their intended planets and locations. Once deployed, the machines would begin their tedious and careful tasks of bring an atmosphere to their designated world. The gasses that most of them spewed forth were any number of colors that spread out into the sky. Other machines deployed shells to move various items around and maintain the machines of the planets.

As the last of the drones returned, Ark activated its engines. The ACAAI had managed to intercept a transmission about a station in deep space. While the source was not the most reliable for accurate news, the potential of a deep space station was worrying to the ACAAI and Ark was the one that could act in human sectors the most independently.

Beginning its trip through the gates to human space. Ark had a lot of work to do.

Name: Alban Jonson, Admiral of the UHG Fifth Fleet
Location: Ral'nor Space, Near the Human Border


The Admiral casually walked about his command vessel, having moved down countless hallways and a tram ride. Soon, he stood in a room that was almost the exact same as the bridge, only without the massive windows that allowed him to view his entire fleet. The Admiral took a quick look around the room as the lights turned on, showing that lack of life within the secondary bridge, also known as the safe bridge.

"Lieutenant 6 activate." Shouted the Admiral, shortly before a holographic projection came into fruition before him. "Hello Admiral Jonson. How may I help you?" 6 asked, moving its holographic head to tilt in curiosity. The Admiral took a second before asking "How much longer before the meeting?" After a moment, 6 said "The meeting will begin in a few minutes. They are waiting on you sir, as well as the 3rd fleet admiral." "Open an encrypted line in the holo-comms. That will be all, Lieutenant 6." The Admiral said before walking into a room at the back of the safe bridge.

"Admiral Jonson and the Fifth Fleet reporting in." The Admiral stated as he walked into the comm platform. The hologram of the General looked around at the others within 131. The General then took a deep breath before saying "The reinforcements will be arriving shortly, but we will only be getting two war fleets, each smaller than the Sixth. More will be sent with time, but they are what they had that quickly available..." As the General took a breath, Jonson spoke up with "Sir, the Sixth couldn't even survive a single Ral'nor fleet..." Jonson was then cut off by the youngest of the men, saying "That was the Malphon Tor! We only know of four fleets that can rival their size. The sixth would have chewed through a normal Ral'nor fleet without trouble."

As Jonson took a breath, preparing to retort to the young man, a ninth hologram came into fruition at the opposite side of the General. "Commander Smith reporting in." The General put his hand into the air, signalling silence to the silent holograms. "What is wrong, Commander?" Taking a breath and whipping his brow, the Commander said "Sir, when the labcoats activated the retrieved ACAAI ship it went live. Before it could be shut down, it managed to break free and destroy a portion of Station Dark Space. We have been able to retrieve the male Dr. Archibald alive, but his wife perspired when the ship broke out. We have also been able to retrieve everyone, dead or alive, accept the kid Archibald. We believe the ship may be holding him captive, but we have yet to identify why as of yet. The ship also managed to escape with several experimental weapons and a FTL drive that we were preparing to field test."

Looking over the table again, the General spoke up "Can we track where it went?" Whipping his brow again, the Commander said "No sir, they made a blind jump. We tried to run projections, but it would have jumped deep into unexplored territory. For all we know, it is back within the Jump Gate Network." Before anyone else could get a word in, the man across from Jonson shouted "We need to ELIMINATE that ship! If this situation isn't resolved quickly, it could lead to a conflict with the ACAAI. We simply don't have the resources in this galaxy to manage that campaign, even without the Ral'nor conflict. What did we manage to learn before the ship escaped?" The Commander responded with "Their large scale weapons and armors are behind ours, a single of their foot soldiers could take out 3 of ours, and their networking and computing systems are well beyond anything we have. One of the labcoats estimated it would take us 10 years to build a computer that could handle an average consciousness of theirs. However, they estimate it only would have taken a human brain level computer to run the computing systems of the ship we captured. We also believe that the ACAAI may have a pair of working, prototype jump gates. They manage to deploy this technology, they would have an instant advantage."

Raising his hand again, the General looked to Admiral Petrov, the man across from Jonson, asking "Do you think you can handle the escaped ship?" To which Petrov replied with "I will begin immediately." The General then spoke again, saying "Commander Smith and Admiral Petrov, you are both to coordinate to recapture that escaped ACAAI. This time, Petrov, the Fourth fleet is authorized to use as many EMP missiles as you feel fit. You two are dismissed." As the holograms of Admiral Petrov and Command Smith disappeared, each with a salute, the General looked to Jonson asking "How is your campaign going?" Jonson responded with "We are half way to the second gate within Ral'nor space. We have managed to sink 5 Ral'nor fleets, and have only lost 3 corvettes and a frigate. However, I don't believe that we will be able to make it to their home world without those reinforcements." With a moment of thought, the General looked back to Jonson and said "Jump through the second gate, then maintain position until reinforcements make it." The meeting continued on for several hours before everyone went about to fulfill their designated duties.