The Menorbi Partnership

Session #35 - September 29, 2022
Shovelling Snow on New Menorb Island

1100-042 0900 – Djinni, the Shore of a Northerly Continent, Near a Moving Island

0900 – 0930 The away team loads equipment into their air/raft, and then suits up-

  • Alric and Froge wear their wet suits;
  • Leah wears her wet suit under her combat environment suit; and,
  • Martaan wears his combat environment suit. 

0931-1000 –  The away team travels to a floating island, which Martaan christens "New Menorb Island."

1000 – 1200 Over the course of the next 90 minutes, the away team-

  • Five minutes in, the group begins noticing that all the plants are exactly two meters apart;
  • Seven minutes in, the group begins noticing that the insects are all flying one centimeter apart;
  • 12 minutes in, the insects form up and make a 3D image of each of the party’s faces in turn— Leah, Alric, Forge, and finally Martaan;
  • 15 minutes in, members of the party begin to become extraordinarily calm;
  • 20 minutes in, members of the party begin humming or singing a little tune;
  • 25 minutes in, members of party begin walking quickly to the center of the island; and,
  • After 30 minutes, members reach the center of the island, and begin undertaking a task at the behest of the island, in this case, sweeping away snow from the central mound of the island.

Only Alric manages to partially resist the influence of the island, and, testing a theory, injects himself and the rest of the away team with stimulants, allowing them to shake off the influence of the island. They then jog back to the beach where they landed their air/raft, and proceed at speed away from New Menorb Island, back to their base camp, where they realize they have left their psionic shield helmets.

1200 – 1300 Over lunch, with Dr. Sato, the away team discuss what just happened-

  • Is the island's ecology controlled by a single organism?
  • Is it a hive mind?
  • Is this a protective system, and not part of the ecosystem?
  • How can we talk to the big mind?
  • Was the island attempting to integrate the away team into its ecosystem?
  • What was the dome in the artificial, or organic?

1300 – 1400 - The away team launches a solo drone mission to New Menorb Island. The drone is able to determine that the island's insects are just insects, and it is able to get a sample of the island, which proves to be dead skin cells. Meanwhile, aboard the An Lang, Pinkie begins synthesizing a chorale based on all the song fragments sung by the away team. 

Session #36 - October 13, 2022
First Contact

1100-042 1400 – Djinni, the Shore of a Northerly Continent, Near New Menorb Island

1400 – 1430 - Concluding their discussions, and taking along their psionic shield helmets, the away team (Alrik, Froge, Leah, and Martaan) plan to return to New Menorb Island, in a second attempt to contact the living island.

1430 – 1500 - Boarding their air / raft, the away team makes their way back to New Menorb Island.

1500 – 1530 - The away team makes their way to the center of the island unaffected by the island's attempts to integrate them with the island's song, and begins again to try again to make contact, starting by clearing away the snow from the island's center, which they suspect to also be a cluster of sense organs.

1700 - The away team manages to establish a telepathic / cognitive link with the island entity!

1730 - The away team manages to establish humans as a new and unique category in the mind of the island entity!

1800 – 1830 - The away team returns to base camp for dinner with Dr. Soto, and find him sitting shikantaza, awaiting their return.

Session #38 - January 26, 2023
The Door is Ajar

1100-174 1800 -  Aboard the Azhanti High Lightning, in Orbit Around Djinni

1800 – 2100 The VES gathers with the Task Force's leaders for a secure briefing and dinner in one the High Lightning's conference rooms. By this time, the VES's findings have been shared with the Duke of Regina, and according to the leaders of the Djinni Task Force- Count Quinlan, Lady Admiral Starrett ap-Agar, Station Chief Garrivan del'Zed— the VES are accounted as real heroes of the Imperium—brave explorers, individuals who established contact with a new sentient race, and functional subject matter experts on the Ancients. This is the first significant alien contact for the Imperium in thousands of years. It is expected that the Social Status of VES members will increase when the VES returns to civilization.

That being said, the Task Force's VIPs formally classify the VES's findings, and brief us on what we can talk about and how. That being said, they acknowledge that there is too much information flow into and out of the Djinni system for the Imperium to completely control.

Changing the meeting's focus, Garrivan del'Zed alerts the VES that the door to the Ancient facility was opened last night. A Marine guard noticed the exterior door was open (entry requires psionic activation). The guard checked with the heat pump monitoring team, who did not notice anything. The two teams swept the complex, and didn’t detect any traces of interlopers, including latent heat signatures. Within this period, there were no unscheduled ship traffic to, or from, Djinni itself. Only the supply shuttle came and went.

Garrivan del'Zed wants the VES to instrument the doorway into the Ancients' complex the following morning.

1100-175 0600 – 1600 - Garrivan del'Zed, Pinkie, Fitz, Alrik, Froge, Leah, and Martaan descend to Djinni's surface and the doorway to the Ancients' complex via Leah's Delight with electronic surveillance gear with which to monitor the entrance. Working together, the group establishes a sophisticated monitoring system.

Meanwhile, Fitz and Martaan interrogate the Marine guards. Their recollections during the intrusion are fuzzy. This "fuzziness" doesn’t feel like the away team's manipulation by We. On video, the away team sees one guard try to look at the door, but inexplicably turn away instead. The guards report engaging in a meaningless and unintelligible conversation instead of guarding the door as assigned. Froge determines the "fuzziness" did not cause any organic damage to the guards.

It turns out that Garrivan del'Zed’s team produced a psychic door opener so the team could enter the complex at will. The opener circuit board has “Dandelion was here” etched on its edge. It turns out that Dandelion del'Zed is aboard the Stygian Solicitation.

1100-175 1600 – 1700 - Via Leah's Delight, Garrivan del'Zed, Pinkie, Fitz, Alrik, Froge, Leah, and Martaan return to the Azhanti High Lightning.

1100-175 1730 - 2030 - A delegation from the Stygian Solicitation arrives onboard the Azhanti High Lightning to meet with the VES. The VES has requested Dandelion be part of the delegation. Madeline, Fitz, Pinkie, Alrik, Froge, Leah, and Martaan are all in attendance. (Pinkie in particular wants to meet the psionic door opener’s designer.) Count Quinlan, Garrivan del'Zed, Dandelion del'Zed, and Lady Admiral Starrett ap-Agar meet us in a large conference room on the Azhanti High Lightning. Dandelion sees Leah and immediately hugs her; Leah hugs her back. Dandelion reports she’s fascinated by the VES's papers and publications.

Dandelion has heard about Froge's visitation from CHESS. Froge asks how CASE is doing. It turns out that CASE is with Dandelion on the Stygian Solicitation in a bounded capacity. CASE remains very loyal to her.

Dandelion reports there is only one psionic door opener planetside. She designed and built it, although it could be replicated. She destroyed all the prototypes, per Garrivan del'Zed’s orders. Dandelion’s opener was kept in the site commander’s field-expedient safe, it was not lost, and it does not appear to have been used. (It must be touched to the door for it to function.) As the likelihood of a ship intruding undiscovered into the Djinni system seems low, the group suspects a spy is on one our ships; a psionic spy seems more likely than the duplication of Dandelion’s door opener.

Martaan asks the assembled dignitaries who might have authorized the infiltration and what its purpose might have been. The Count reports that none of the people in the room know. Pinkie suggests it may have been an Ancient checking on the Imperial campsite.

The Marine base planetside includes a whole marine platoon (16) and four support staff, who ferry items to and from the Azhanti High Lightning. The VES requests that the Marines scan the area in pairs for interlopers.

1100-175 2030 - 2100 - The VES sweeps Leah's Delight looking for stowaways, and checks its door lock and logs. The lifeform counter only recorded the expected seven life signs.

At the next opportunity (next session), Count Quinlan and Leah will scan the base complement for psionic ability, guilty parties, or anything else suspicious.

Session #37 - December 18, 2022

1100-042 – 1100-174 -  Djinni, New Menorb Island

Referee's Note: this was a question-and-answer session between the players and the referee, allowing the players to ask questions about the nature of the living island they had contacted, and summarizing 19 weeks of intense work building rapport and sharing thoughts with this new form of life. Once again, I am indebted to Chris Pepper, who diligently took notes as I answered player questions, and clarified my answers.

Meet the We

It took the team about 19 weeks to establish linguistic communication with the entity, which knows itself as "We". Because the VES's communication with We is entirely mind to mind, there is no way to communicate with We at a distance, via a remote mic / speaker / transceiver.

We have four life stages—

  • An initial budded form grows in a cave on another floating islands;
  • An adolescent form looks like a shark or orca, which circles the islands and hunts in packs. They call this stage ‘child’;
  • Eventually children grow into independent large cetaceans, looking like sperm whales, which was the first life form the away team contacted. These are what knocked Leah out with a telepathic overload.
  • Once they grow large enough, they look more like islands and remain on the surface. At this stage most energy focuses on ecosystem maintenance rather than locomotion. Nineteen or 20 exist in this stage at any one time. They all consider themselves ‘We’; while the earlier stages are part of We's family, they are considered part of 'We'. Once in this floating "island mode" stage, We's cognition changes in several ways. (Pinkie is able to map which islands are sentient and which are just rock, with high confidence.)

The lifespan of  We in their island form are very long; the one the away team has made contact with is tens of thousands of years old.  Their fear of death is different than other sophonts' fear of death because parts of them survive ‘death’ as part of the larger We organism, and they persist somewhat within overall racial consciousness.

We don't have a specific sense of gender, but think of themselves in the first-person plural. The orca stage creates buds to launch the next generation using sexual reproduction.

The orca stage will eat just about anything, including each other and us (given the opportunity), but We won’t let them do that now.

Most orcas belong to an island’s ecosystem, but some leave, somewhat like ronin.There is some level of choice in which an orca becomes an island, but it’s very rare, and not understood. Froge speculates that particularly strong telepathic ability is a prerequisite for maturation into the island stage. Once they have attained membership in We, the sentient islands never attack each other; this cooperation seems like another requirement for self-selection and evolution into a member of We. (That being said, there are stories of the whale stage tangling with islands.)

The VES debates whether We is sentient within the criteria laid down by IISS, but conclude it is transcends these categories, and is different from all other civilizations and forms of evolution the Imperium has yet encountered.

For instance, We is a tool user, but manipulates tools psionically rather than physically. While We cannot create tools, but have access to the entire planetary ecosystem as their toolbox. One example of this— insects are the only mobile creatures on Djinni that leave the water, which perforce limits the We’s development of both technology and astronomy.

The Ancients and the We

We possess racial memories of the Ancients. (The VES do not believe any other creatures have such memories, aside form the Ancients themselves.) In fact, the We remember the Ancients uplifting them from their orca-like form into their current form of sentient islands.

The We feel a sense of as-yet-unknown purpose; the We expect the Ancients to return someday and perform their next uplift. The We want much more about the Ancients, our experience with them, and what their departure and lack of communication means to their expectation of an Ancient return and further uplift. At week 18, the We start pressing for information on cosmology, tools, our Ancient experience, and direct observation / participation in outer space.

Leah is surprised the Ancients didn’t contact the We, and the We didn’t detect their brief visit with us.

The VES and the We

The We have memories of other visitors to Djinni. They recall the visit of another lifeform prior to the Imperial survey (which died of plague); those earlier visitors also died of plague. But the plague seems to have mutated into something harmless since the Imperium's initial survey. (Members of the VES speculate that the first survey, pre-Empire, might have been relatively recent.)

Martaan provides We an image of the cold of space. They are fascinated, and want much more, including direct experience of outer space.

The We particularly like communicating with Elwen and his visual cosmological language. The We are very curious about cosmology and mechanical tools.

Leah speculates that only a full island or whale is intelligent enough to understand direct observation of space, but they’re too large for us to easily bring off the surface. We’s range is relatively short, and we’re not sure a sperm whale sized ‘adult’ would be able to survive removal from the island ecosystem.

Count Quinlan comes down and determines the islands are very alien and also more psionically powerful than any know intelligences in several ways. 

Madeline finally gets to visit the surface and communicate with We, along with Saeagang, who proves to be an excellent diver, and who perform a lot of mapping and photography of the underside of the We. The two communicate very happily with the We.

Soto also does well, mostly discussing the We’s experience as an ecosystem or ‘little world’.

The We have the most difficulty communicating with Pinkie, whose childhood in space is so foreign to them.

With We’s permission, Fitz loves tangling with orca. The We are fascinated by Fitz, but he’s a bit too much of an individual for their comfort.


The planet resembles Earth before the Pleistocene era. Plants, trees, and insects are simple with limited variety, and almost everything is underwater.

The Cephalopods

The We are aware of 9-tentacled cephalopods doing interesting things near volcanic vents. They stay away to avoid interfering with another Ancient project.

The We are a bit afraid of the cephalopods, who seem to be immune to their psionic influence.

Leah speculates the Ancients gave the cephalopods a form of psionic immunity  to prevent the cephalopods from being co-opted and absorbed by the We.

Martaan scouts these other aliens; the VES agrees to focus on the We first, and then reach out to the cephalopods afterwards.

By Week 19

At week 19, the VES returns to orbit for a conference with Madeline, the Count, and the Lady Admiral. Martaan is looking forward to reunion with Lady Doctor Cassandra ap-Tain. At the time, Pinkie reports the We are slowly converging on the inital We contactee, and the basecamp location.

Session #39 - May 11, 2023

1100-175 2100 – Aboard the Azhanti High Lightning in Orbit Around Djinni 

2100 – 2200  In order to find the missing TDX and other materiel- 

  • Alric begins to review sensor data, to see what he can find out.
  • Froge decides to meet with the Executive Officer of the Azhanti High Lightning to run a series of surprise inspections. He hopes that may at least make one or two people nervous. And, they may know the preferred hidey holes too.
  • Leah begins a computer audit, which she expects to take another three hours.
  • Martaan tracks down Ujilka Roberts, who initially warned them about the missing explosives.

2100 – 2130 - Froge and Martaan decide to work together, and begin by interviewing Ujilka. They are looking for the name of the person aboard the High Lightning who tends to deal in contraband. Ujilka gives them the name "Helene Jordaine", but tells them that she'll ask Helene on their behalf, so she doesn't get spooked.

2100 – 2200 - Alric, working with Pinkie, goes through all the sensor data, trying to determine if there is any involvement by the We, via their psionic ability. They quickly rule it out. 

2130 – 2200 - Froge and Martaan meet the Executive Officer, Rodolpho Candee, of the Azhanti High Lightning, in his office. Present is Warrant Officer Skelm Chaukanna, head of shipboard security. They are eager to secure the TDX, as it poses a huge risk to the ship and the lives of the crew. They report that an officer who typically does supply runs, Jase Hoombin, was registered by sensors as absent for 24 hours during the same time that the door to the Ancients' complex was opened. 

2200 - Ujilka comms Martaan and Froge, "Not her."

2200 – 2215 - Leah decides to try her psionic clairvoyance ability to search the entire Azhanti High Lightning for the missing TDX. She locates it in something she understands to be a ship's cargo hold, but can't identify it. She comms the rest of the crew of the Delight, and Froge is able to identify it, from Leah's description, as the hold of a 200T free trader. And, there happens to be a 200T free trader in the hold of the Azhanti High Lightning, used to deliver cargo to the Marines basecamp.

2216 – 2230 - While the Delight's crew looks on, Marines in powered battle dress secure the TDX from the free trader's hold.