The Menorbi Partnership

Session #34 - July 21, 2022
Animal, Vegetable, or Mineral?

1100-041 1200 – Djinni, the Shore of a Northerly Continent, Near a Moving Island

1200 – 1600 - The away party deploys a crab drone to explore the underside of the moving island.

They also put in a request to the An Lang to analyze the movement of the floating islands:

  • Do they move with or against the current?
  • Do they seem to follow a specific path or course?

Leah's Delight's sensors reveal that there is C02 coming off of the floating island.

The crab drone explores the underside of the floating island and finds a mixture of a coral reef and an underwater kelp garden. A huge variety of fish and other lifeforms inhabit the underside of this island, including larger and smaller fish, rays, trilobite-like creatures, and large shark-like creatures.

The first crab drone is sent to the center of the moving island— a journey of three hours. A separate crab drone is sent with a bucket to retrieve a kelp sample. In the meantime—

  • Alric works on the likelihood that the island is actually respirating;
  • Froge works with Pinkie;
  • Leah and Soto are working on the kelp, which they discover has limited motility; and,
  • Martaan walks the shore, looking for sea shells, finding a wide variety of them.

Pinkie determines that, in some cases, the floating islands are moving against the current.

1600 – 1700 The crab drone reaches the center of the island and finds the snow has melted and that the temperature is significantly higher than that of the surrounding air; it then flies back to the Delight. The away team then has an early dinner.The away team set watches for the night-

1600 – 1900 - Leah stands watch;

1700 – 1800 - The away team puts up a simple drone perimeter. Froge and Martaan go for a run by the seashore, speculating about Djinni, the floating islands, and the Ancients.

1900 – 2200 - Martaan stands watch, and trades comm messages with Lady Cassandra;

2200 – 0000 - Froge stands watch;

1100-042 0000 – 0300 - Soto stands watch;

0300 – 0600 - Alric stands watch, and continues his respiratory analysis.

0600 – 0700 - The away team has a quick breakfast.

0700 – 0900 - Alric, with Leah's assistance, is able to prove that the island is either a living being, or a system that exactly models a living being.

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Session #33 - May 26, 2022
The Moving Islands

1100-039 1300 – The An Lang and Leah's Delight, in Orbit around Djinni

1300 – 1400 - The VES breaks for lunch, discussing the recent events.

1400 – 1500 A communications and linguistic analysis comparing the message Froge received purporting to be from CHESS with the away team's recorded interactions with the OoCP highlights strong parallels between the two. However, the message just seems to "appear" in Froge's cabin- an energy analysis can't uncover a vector of transmission.

1500 – 1800 - The An Lang undertakes the last of its four survey passes of Djinni, in this case, of the southern hemisphere.  While this takes place, Leah prepares the Delight for planetfall.  

1800 – 1930 While the VES is analyzing and synthesizing the sensor data, Pinkie comes to a startling conclusion- some of the islands seem to be moving.

1930 – 2130  Training the An Lang's formidable sensor array on one of the "moving islands", and make the following discoveries-

  • A neural scan definitely shows activity— but does this reflect multiple life-forms, or the island itself?
  • The island is substantially less dense than a comparable volume of stone;
  • The heat signature of a moving island is substantially warmer than that of a stationary island; and,
  • There seems to be some kind of gas exhausted from the island— could this be an indication of respiration?

1100-039 2130 – 1100-041 2200 - The Away Team begins to prepare for its trip dirtside the following day:

  • Leah doublechecks the Delight's air / raft;
  • Froge doublechecks and loads the team's away kits;
  • Alric continues his communications analysis of the "whale song", attempting to synthesize a working vocabulary;
  • Martaan begins to synthesize a tactical battlemap of the island, and trades messages with Lady Cassandra ap-Tain;
  • Soto assembles a ship's surgery on the Delight; and,
  • Ujilka is redeployed to the Azhanti High Lightning.

The away team make sure to pack the eight artificial psionic shield helmets.

1100-041 0400-1200 - The Delight makes it's way from orbit to a northerly continent, near the polar ice cap, to observe one of the moving islands. The Delight is near the seashore, about two meters in elevation above sea level.

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Session #32 - April 28, 2022
"It's For You"

1100-038 2345 – The An Lang and Leah's Delight, in Orbit around Djinni 

2345 – 1100-039 0000 Froge assesses Leah- she's OK, but jangled. Her nervous is saturated with energy. Froge has the sense that Leah can only take so many of these kind of encounters.

0000 – 0200 In response to the problem, the expedition manages to scrounge a total of nine psionic shield helmets from the Azhanti High Lightning and the Stygian Solicitation. The VES then begins to share their hypotheses-

  • Leah – What if the thing we were scanning initially shielded itself, and that is why it "disappeared"?
  • Pinkie – We were actively scanning for neural activity. Maybe we irritated it, which is why it responded in the way it did? What if our future scanning was purely passive? 
  • Alric and Martaan – what if we came across as "pounding on the door"? And, whatever it was just "pounded back"?

The VES then begins to analyze the data they collected during their encounter, submitting computationally-intensive analyses that may grind on while they sleep:

  • Martaan begins to look for repetitions in the "data" they received, trying to break the "music" into units of language. Froge assists him successfully by cleaning up the signal. The analysis they receive the following morning is that there are definitely repetitions, but that they don't yet have enough exposure to this kind of information to determine the periodicity of language events— e.g., does that particular repetition indicate a repeated sentence, word, syllable, or sound?
  • Alric attempts to determine if the "music" they experienced as produced by a living being, or by a device / tool? The following morning, Alric learns that the signal they received is closest to recorded whale songs, but that it seems off the scale, energy-wise: no living being previously encountered could generate this much energy.
  • Leah attempts to determine if there were any statistical anomalies, spikes, or discrepancies  in the transmission from the standpoint of the different ships in orbit around Djinni. She is assisted by Ujilka who wrangles and time-sequences all of the different ships' data for her. The following morning, the two of them come to the conclusions that 1) all three ships recorded the same event, and that 2) the "response" really was targeted at Leah's Delight.

0200 – 0400 With their analyses submitted, the exhausted VES members hit their racks-

  • Martaan realizes that what he has "heard" was "choral music" before he falls asleep;
  • Ujilka eats half a corn muffin, and crashes out;
  • Leah studies psionic shielding before falling asleep;
  • Froge just collapses.

0400 - 1000 - Leah dreams she is underwater, where it is very cold, and there is a lot of pressure. Froge apparently receives a comm-call from Chess.

0800 – 1200 - Unable to sleep, Froge wakes early and combs through the An Lang's logs in an attempt to determine what really happened during his comm-call. He is able to localize a power surge without a clear source in his cabin around 0400.

1000 – 1130 - Alrik, Leah, and Martaan wake between 1000-1100; Ujilka rolls out of her bunk and right into a VES meeting at 1130.

 1200 – 1300 - Froge briefs the VES on his conversation with Chess. Responses are mixed:

  • Fitz wonders if this is some form of deception originating from another vessel, but he has no idea what a possible motive might be.
  • Leah wonders if this is really emanating from the planet, or from the Ancients' structure on the planet— could this be an Ancient AI?
  • Saeagang thinks it seems like Chess, and that that power surge in Froge's quarters in pretty inexplicable otherwise.
  • Soto speculates if what contacted Froge is some sort of synthesis of Hihurunhaudorttruh (the AI behind the OoCP) and Chess into some new intelligence.
  • Pinkie confirms the weird "materialization" of energy in Froge's quarters around 0400.

Finally, Martaan lets the group know that the metaphor he is most comfortable with for the "music" they "heard" was multiple voices singing in a chorale.

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Session #31 - January 20, 2022
First Pass

1100-038 0930 – The Hangar Deck of the Azhanti High Lightning

0930 – 1030 Leah's Delight and the An Lang maneuver out of the Azhanti High Lightning's hangar and proceed to orbit around Djinni in order to employ their new sensor signatures and find concentrations of the two aquatic races engineered (and protected?) by the Ancients. Four mapping passes will be required to fully use the new sensor signatures and detect concentrations of the alien lifeforms- one equatorial pass, one polar pass, one pass for the northern hemisphere, and one pass for the southern hemisphere.

1031 – 1331 - First mapping pass (equatorial) completed.

1332 – 1631 - Second mapping pass (mid-southern hemisphere) completed.

1632 – 2031 Third mapping pass (mid-northern hemisphere) begun, but something anomalous happens towards the very end- a cetacean-like lifeform is detected near the northern pole, and suddenly disappears.

2032 – 2130 - In about an hour, Leah's Delight drops out of orbit and arrives on station where the cetacean lifeform was last seen to scan more closely, and determine to where it disappeared.

2131 – 2140 About ten minutes into scanning, the crew of Leah's Delight- Leah, Froge, Martaan, and Soto— identifies a huge cetacean-like creature. The Delight's scanning somehow triggers a response from the creature, filling their heads with incredible polyphonic music, and Leah loses consciousness.

2141 - Leah's Delight flees into orbit to renezvous with the An Lang.

2230 - Leah regains consciousness.

2245 – 2345  Leah's Delight rendezvous and docks with the An Lang. Madeline convenes a conference to review what happened, and also requests a straw vote regarding what the VES should do- should it finish its mapping passes, or immediately pursue further scanning and contact with the cetaceans—

  • Martaan, Pinkie, and Saeagang want to finish the scanning passes before attempting anything else;
  • Soto wants to stop altogether and rethink the VES's approach; and,
  • Alrik, Elwen, Fitz, Froge, Leah, and Ujilka all want to focus on the cetaceans.      

Madeline agrees that the focus should shift to the cetaceans.

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Session #30 - December 16, 2021
Eleven to Get Ready

1100-037 2300 – VES Conference Room Aboard the Azhanti High Lightning, in Orbit Above Djinni

2300 - 0100 - After another long (but successful) day, the VES members scatter for some much needed rest and relaxation:

  • Madeline, Pinkie, and Soto return to their quarters and go to bed;
  • Leah does some psionic training, and ultimately asks Count Quinlan for insights into the psionic training process;
  • Alric, Elwin, Froge, Martaan, and Saeagang all head off for a well-deserved drink at the Officers' Club;
  • Fitz and Ujilka go to the gym to exercise and wind up sparring on the matts— the match goes to Fitz, who shows Ujilka som unarmed combat techniques. After a quick shower, they too end up in joining the others in the Officers' Club for a drink.

As a treat, Martaan mixes a drink for his colleagues in the VES.

In the Officers' Club, the VES members are briefly joined by Marine Lieutenant Colonel Jordress Carth, who obliquely discusses the VES with them, and wishes them well.

After a round or two, one by one the VES members return to their quarters. Martaan cleans up, and is the last to leave. Everyone is asleep by 0100.

1100-038 0500 - Of the VES members, Froge rises first, for PT and coffee.

0600 - Martaan rises, and starts the day with PT. Elwin, Fitz, Madeline, Pinkie, Saeagang, and Soto also rise, pack, have breakfast, and begin loading their gear back into the An Lang and the Leah's Delight. 

0800 – 0856 - Leah rises at 0800, and Ujilka at 0856.

0900 – The VES divides itself between the two ships—

An Lang

  • Madeline – Pilot, Captain of the An Lang, VES Leader
  • Saeagang – Chief Engineer, Executive Officer 
  • Elwin – Navigator
  • Pinkie – Sensor Officer
  • Fitz – Tactical Officer, sensor operator
  • Ujilka - Tactical Officer, sensor operator
  • Alrik – Contact Officer, computer operator

Leah's Delight

  • Leah – Chief Surveyor, Pilot
  • Froge – Engineering Officer, drone deployer
  • Martaan – Gunnery Officer, sensor operator
  • Soto – Ship's Surgeon

0930 – The VES prepares to depart the Azhanti High Lightning.

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Session #29 - October 21, 2021
Elicitation and Breakfest

1100-036 2300 – VES Conference Room Aboard the Azhanti High Lightning, in Orbit Above Djinni

2300 – After a long day, Team Neural and Team Drone break up their work session in the conference room. Leah, along with most of the rest of the VES, go off to bed, while some of the team members look for a little recreation with the crew—

  • Froge works himself into a card game with a senior engineering NCO Kyril and a starship drive mechanic Stavrij, in an attempt to determine why the Azhanti High Lightning is part of the Djinni task force. Froge tells them everything he can about the OoCP and the planetary surface without breaking in any confidences; Kyril and Stavrij are really unclear about the task force's mission, but are fairly certain the Azhanti High Lightning is there to defend Djinni. Froge hits his rack around 1100-037 0100.
  • Martaan goes for a stroll down to the Marines' decks, and runs into Karla and Ambler, junior Marine officers who are checking their load-outs before leading two of the platoons that will be defending the Ancients' complex. Karla and Ambler, recognizing Martaan as a former Marine and a member of the VES, ask him for a sense of the battlespace, complaining that no one is really briefing them on what to expect. Martaan tells them a lot about the terrain, and gives them some valuable hints off the record as to what they should focus on. Martaan goes to bed around 1100-037 0000.
  • Ujilka hits the gym, and gets in a 90 minute workout before going to bed around 1100-037 0030.
  • Alric stays behind and comes up with a different approach to detecting cetacean neurology, using whale song analysis as a tool for locating whale singers, and as a result, the second alien species the Ancients have located on Djinni. Alric goes to bed around 1100-037 0000.

1100-037 0800 – 0900 Martaan and Alric wake early, and both find themselves in the gym nearest to the guest quarters, each practicing their swordsmanship. They challenge each other to a quick match of three touches-

  • Martaan wins the first touch;
  • Alric and Martaan each touch simultaneously during the second bout; and
  • Martaan wins the third touch, and the match. 

0915 – 0930 - Froge wakes and around 0915 and does some PT. Leah wakes at 0930.

0930 - 1100 The VES essentially takes over the guest mess, as Alric and Martaan, Froge, Leah, Soto, Elwin, Pinkie, and eventually Ujilka, all take over a corner of the dining room and talk confidentially about what they've found out. The group consensus is that- outside of the VES— only a handful of very senior officers know what is really on the planet's surface, and therefore, what the task force's true objectives are.

1100 – 2300 – In the VES's shielded conference room, led by Madeline and Saeagang, the VES separates back into Team Neural and Team Drone. After a Herculean effort, and 11 hours of work, Team Neural manages to get a song-based cetacean detection model working that could be used through the An Lang's sensor packages. Likewise, Team Drone managed to assemble their crab-like drones, and then to test them in one of the Azhanti High Lightning's training pools. Much to their delight, they worked and moved very convincingly. With these two tasks completed, the VES is ready to try and detect both species of alien races, and to observe them using their camouflaged drones.

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Session 28 - September 23, 2021
Team Neural and Team Drone

1100-035 2200 – Guest Quarters Aboard the Azhanti High Lightning, in Orbit Above Djinni

2200 - After a long debriefing, and a superb dinner in the Admiral's mess, the VES team goes to sleep.

1100-036 0600 - Martaan wakes early, does his exercises and Marine Corps PT, and works on his presentability. He later receives a message from Cassandra.

0730 - Alric wakes, grabs a quick bite from the galley, and goes off to the conference room that has been assigned to the VES, to review all the expedition's notes / audio / video so far.

0900 - Froge wakes, gets breakfast in the galley, and requests a ship's tour of the Azhanti High Lightning. As a former senior Navy NCO, he is given a fairly comprehensive tour of the vessel, which is enormous.

1000 - Leah wakes; Ujilka wakes.

1000 – 1600 The VES has a rare quiet morning of rest and relaxation to themselves-

  • Elwin dons his Naval uniform, and visits the ship's bridge, catching up with friends from the Regina branch of the Imperial Naval Academy;
  • Fitz goes down to one of the enlisted crew's gym, gets in a workout, and winds up giving an impromptu lecture on unarmed combat to some of the Lightning's complement of Imperial Marines;  
  • Madeline and Saeagang have a relaxed late brunch in the officer's mess with with Count Quinlan, where they are seen laughing and joking over coffee and dessert;
  • Pinkie finds the ship's zero-gee exercise space, and has a chance to practice Belter calisthenics. He later receives an invite to the ship's bridge, where he and Elwin chat with the chief sensor officer about long-range sensing innovations;
  • Dr. Soto is seen in one of the ship's gyms, going through kata with his katana and wakazashi, and later, in a quiet lounge, in seated meditation facing the ship's hull.

1600 – 1800 The VES reconvenes in the conference room that has been assigned to them where they begin to discuss first contact procedures. Madeline reminds everyone that, before they can make contact with either of the races on Djinni, they have to determine whether the races meet certain minimum qualities for sentience, including-

  • The existence of language;
  • The presence of conceptual thought;
  • A social structure; and,
  • The ability to make and use tools.

A broad outline of the initial part of the survey emerges through discussion—

  • Pinkie is confident he can tune the An Lang's neural activity sensor to locate clusters of sentient life amid the teeming seas of Djinni;
  • Once they've been found, Fitz proposes they disguise underwater drones as sea life, so as to observe the two species without making contact;
  • The VES are fairly confident that once they collect enough imagery and audio, they can determine the presence of tools and a social structure, and hopefully, clues to a language. 

1800 – 2300 - The VES requests a meal from the galley, and splits into two teams. Madeline would shuttle between the two teams, providing oversight. Saeagang and Elwin would stand-by as interfaces and gophers, making requests from the members of the task force for data and / or materials that the An Lang did not have. 

<u>Team Neural</u> – the goal of this team is to create a "neural template" for either "squid-like" or "whale-like" consciousness, which can be fed into the An Lang's sensors and used to locate clusters of life-forms for initial survey. This was expected to take 14 hours, but the team worked well together and completed the basics of a cephalapodic neural consciousness image by the end of the evening. Team Neural members include—

  • Alrik
  • Martaan
  • Pinkie
  • Soto

<u>Team </u><u>Drone</u> - the goal of this team is to create a drone-based collection platform that could be present around Djinni's "squid-like" and "whale-like" life forms, which could tacitly observe them without arousing their suspicions (and hopefully, not be mistaken for food!). Challenges included selecting a drone which could function well underwater, using machine learning to model the swimming patterns and other behavior of an organism, and preparing the drone to look believably like a life-form. 

Team Drone members include—

  • Fitz
  • Froge
  • Leah
  • Ujilka

By the end of the evening, Team Drone had still had about four hours work to go physically disguising the drones to look like sea creatures.

2300 - The VES team goes to sleep in their guest quarters aboard the Azhanti High Lightning.

 

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Session 27 - August 19, 2021
An Aftermath, a Conspiracy, and Two New Members

1100-035 0515 – Outside the Ancients’ Complex on Djinni

0515 - The exploratory party learns from Madeline that, eight hours earlier, a task force of four Imperial starships had jumped into the Djinni system, including—

  • A Lightning-class cruiser, the Azhanti High Lightning, 60,000T, under the command of Lady Admiral Starett ap-Agar;
  • A 400T lab ship, Feasible Hypothesis, from the Naval Hospital and the University of Regina. Later it is discovered Lady Doctor Cassandra ap-Tain, Martaan's former girlfriend, is aboard as the team's xenovirologist;
  • A 400T modified Donosev class Survey Scout, Stygian Solicitation, which has been turned into a sensor collection platform, directed by Garrivan del'Zed of the Imperial Intelligence Service; and,
  • The return of the 100T S-class scout / courier Leah's Delight, piloted by Dr. Alric Ironshoulder, with Ujilka H. Roberts navigating, who have been hired to join the VES.

The entire task force is under the direction of Count Diplomat Quinlan ap-Corserra, who has requested to debrief the task force.

0615 – 1700 - The exploration party gets some sleep in their tents, while Madeline and Dr. Soto pilot the cutter to the valley where the Ancients' complex is located. The cutter picks the exploratory team up (leaving the air-rafts secured to trees), then climb up the gravity well to rendezvous with the An Lang.

1700 – 1800 - En route to the Azhanti High Lightning, the VES synthesizes Pascal's video with team members' helmet camera footage (including some sub-vocalizations of our telepathic conversations) into a narrative they could present to the new arrivals.

1800 – 2000   The VES meets with Garrivan del Zed, Count Diplomat Quinlan ap-Corserra, and the Lady Admiral Starrett ap-Agar, and are introduced to their two new VES members- Dr. Alric Ironshoulder and Ujilka H. Roberts. During the meeting—

  • The exploratory party briefs those present on their current findings;
  • Count Quinlan telepathically asks Leah to confirm the authenticity of their presentation, which she does;
  • Garrivan del'Zed is troubled that the the Ancients are still around, and inaccessible, and decides that the VES needs to tell Pascal's parents he died on the mission, not that he had departed this universe to work with the Ancients, who were still around;
  • Leah argues that the Imperium owes Pascal's parents double the $200k fee for the VES, especially because the Empire is lying to them about Pascal's fate;
  • The official story, particularly for the staff of the lab ship, is that the exploratory team found the alien base in its current state. As a result, there can be speculation about Ancient uplift of humaniti without reviewing all the current evidence;
  • The task force leadership speculate that, although the VES broke up the Zhodhani spy ring on Regina, some of their intelligence may have made it offworld, so the Azhanti High Lightning is present as a deterrent against interlopers;
  • Finally, the task force is going to avoid fixed installations, so as to avoid aggravating the Ancients.

2000 – 2200 - The VES are guests of the Admiral's mess, and sleep in guest quarters on the Azhanti High Lightning.

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Session 26 - July 8, 2021
Questions, Answers, Gifts, and a Farewell

1100-035 0015 – Inside the Ancients' Complex on Djinni

0015 – 0445 - The exploratory party (Fitz, Froge, Leah, Martaan, Pascal, and Saeagang) are given a complete tour of the Ancients' complex. Each room is explained telepathically to them by Warrior One, including the system that dribbles energy into Djinni's core, allowing the seas to remain liquid, and the planet to be habitable. During this, Leah, Pascal, and Saeagang manage to memorize the name of The People in their native language.

Eventually, the tour ends, and a portal opens showing a city suspended amidst the clouds. An extremely old Droyne, who identifies themself as Clindar, comes through the portal. Clindar intimates that they were one of the Ancients who originally created the vargr and humaniti millions of years ago. They address each of the group in turn, asking if they can "grant them a gift for their entire species". Five of the six are granted some kind genetic manipulation that grants them capabilities outside of the range of their normal species. 

In contrast, Dr. Pascal Lentevi is granted the opportunity to leave with Clindar through the portal into whatever parallel dimension the Ancients currently inhabit, to join them and learn about their culture, and to give Clindar insight onto how humaniti is faring. Pascal accepts, writes a quick note to his family and to Gyllan Davilla explaining things. Martaan gives Pascal his flask as Pascal gets ready to leave. Pascal then departs with Clindar. After this, Warrior One forms up his fellow warriors, and they depart from the complex in formation. Following this, the portal disappears.

The exploratory party— now minus Pascal— explores the complex, and finds everything gone, with the exception of the energy system, and a handful of throw pillows on a dais in a recreation room. Each of the party takes a pillow, and then departs the way they came.

1100-035 0515 - The exploratory party emerge on the 18th day of the 31 day winter cycle, as a moderate snowfall ends.

 

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Session 25 - April 15, 2021
You Can't Make an Omelette Without Breaking Eggs

1100-034 2200 – Inside the Ancients' Complex on Djinni

2200 – 2215 - Froge crosses the bridge first, and investigates the balcony on the other side, finding closed doors and markings on the wall. The rest of the exploratory party follows. 

2215 – 1100-035 0015 The group is able to open a doorway headed east. They regroup, and enter in the following order-

  • Martaan
  • Froge
  • Leah
  • Pascal
  • Saeagang
  • Fitz

The door opens into a circular room, with a gangway running its length. Below the gangway are six ovoids constructed of a milky-white translucent plastic with dark shapes visible within. Most of the group take up covering positions on the gangway, while some investigate the ovoids. One of them tampers with the ovoids, resulting in the release of a number of Ancient Droyne warriors.

As waves of Droyne leave the room and secure the rest of the complex, a number stay behind and quickly take up positions covering the party, and telepathically instruct them to put their weapons away. Froge responds by projecting thoughts that any hostile actions by the Droyne will be met in turn with force. The Ancient styling himself as "Warrior One" then disintegrates Froge's weapons and ammunition, leaving the rest of him untouched and intact.

Reading the minds of the party, Warrior One addresses the members with specific titles— 

  • Martaan - Warrior
  • Froge – Technician
  • Leah – Leader
  • Pascal – Technician
  • Saeagang – Leader
  • Fitz – Warrior

A series of individual telepathic conversations take place with different members of the group. Warrior One informs the group that they will give them a tour of the Ancient Complex before they leave it.

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