The Menorbi Partnership

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.


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.

Session 24 - February 25, 2021
Take It to the Bridge

1100-034 1200 – Inside the Ancients' Complex on Djinni

1200 – 1900  The exploratory team holes up in the large room on the first floor of the Ancients' complex, while they recover from their wounds. There were three watches-

  • 1200 – 1430 - Leah on watch
  • 1430 – 1700 - Froge on watch
  • 1700 – 1900 - Martaan on watch  

—all of which proved uneventful.

1900 – 1915  The exploratory team develops a marching order-

  • Martaan
  • Froge
  • Leah
  • Pascal
  • Saegang
  • Fitz

—and return to exploring the complex. First, they descended from Chamber 1, room A into chamber 3, room C. Leah photographically documents room C, in part to judge if any more of the six-legged spider analogs have emerged from their chrysalides.

1915 – 2200 - The exploratory party descends through Chamber 4 to Chamber 5, where they discover that the precisely-cut masonry begins to intersect with natural fissures that appear to derive from traditional Karst topography. As the group stops to explore the fissures, Leah sets up an electronic tripwire system to alert them if anyone comes down the corridor towards them. They eventually encounter a series of bars walling off a cavern. Froge and Martaan briefly explore the fissures, and hear a rushing sound, which they eventually identify as flowing water. Deciding that the area did not warrant more exploration at the time, Leah leaves a tripwire behind to alert them if anything comes from the fissures into the chambers and corridors.

Maintaining situational awareness, and wary of ambushes, the exploratory group moves through Chambers 6 and 7. The group descend into Chamber 8, finding fissures leading to a masonry blockage (from some seismic activity), where the sound of running water is even louder. In addition, they find what appears to be a well. Sharp-eyed explorers note that this isn't actually a well— rather, it is a deep shaft leads to Chamber 9, and ends in a pool. The group uses ropes to descend the shaft, and find themselves in a room where water slowly bubbles up from the "well", which is actually a spring. They manage to open a door out of this room into a long corridor leading to a larger room with stairs leading up out of it, and a gigantic vault door. From the ceiling, a six-legged spider analog attempts to pounce on Pascal, who dodges it, and then kills it handily with his ACR, much to Martaan's pleasure. A quick review of the stairs finds them leading up to an unexplored level of corridors, which seem to be a continuation of the tunnel blocked by falling masonry found in Chamber 8. 

Leah manages to use her psionic ability to open the massive vault door, which retracts into the floor. What lies before the explorers is a large chasm with a flowing river at its bottom; the cavern is illuminated by a brilliant white light coming from a bridge spanning the cavern, and leading to another complex on the other side.

Session 23 - December 3, 2020
Guardians in the Dark

1100-034 1000 – Inside the Ancients' Complex on Djinni

1000 – 1200 - The exploratory team (Fitz, Froge, Leah, Martaan, Pascal, Saeagang), now closed inside the Ancients' complex, begins exploring the complex floor by floor. On the second and third floors, they encounter and fight large (100 kg), six-legged arachnoid-like things. These are apparently guardians released from cocoons. Although they manage to defeat them, the explorers are wounded, and decide to retreat to the first floor, where they seal themselves in a large room to recover from their wounds.

Session 22 - November 12, 2020
Towards an Ancient Past

1100-034 0600 – Basecamp on Djinni

0600 – 0745 - The exploratory team (Fitz, Froge, Leah, Martaan, Pascal, Saeagang) have a quick breakfast, load their air / rafts, and head inland towards the location associated with the transmissions from the OoCP. 

0745 – 1600 - After many hours of flying deep into a mountainous range, the exploratory team finds themselves flying over a long, relatively narrow canyon, which runs roughly nortwest to southeast. This is approximately where the OoCP was sending its transmissions.

1600 – 1645 - A series of reconnaissance passes indicates that the valley is relatively featureless, except for a reflective, metallic structure set into the cliffside at the northwestern end of the valley. 

1645 – 2200 After some debate as to whether or not to camp in this particular valley, or to relocate to a different valley, the exploration decides to camp where it is, especially as it is losing the light. Three small tents are joined together into a little compound, and a watch order is determined-

  • Tent #1 – Leah and Saeagang – first watch
  • Tent #2 – Fitz and Froge – second watch
  • Tent #3 – Martaan and Pascal - third watch

Fitz and Martaan walk perimeter— it is earily quiet, and the only new lifeform found is a very primitive form of lichen.

Before they turn in,

  • Saeagang updates Madeline on progress
  • Leah sends all new survey findings to Pinkie and Elwin, with instructions to forward them to Jaimy Rodry and the SSDB Chimera
  •  Fitz falls asleep sharpening his knife

2200 - 1100-035 0600 -  Night watches prove uneventful.

0600 – 0900  The exploratory breakfasts, party breaks camp and pack the air / rafts, doing their level best to "leave no trace."  The relocate to within a kilometer of the metal structure in the cliffside- a large, featureless plate.

0900 – 1000 - All attempts made to interact with the metal plate prove fruitless, until Leah sits down crosslegged before it, and interrogates it psionically. The center of the plate then opens, revealing a side corridor and a ramp leading down. The group enters and begins its exploration. Leah senses life somewhere below the room they are in. A few of them hear a scritching sound from below. The door to the valley closes behind them. 

Session 21 - October 15, 2020
Planetfall on Djinni

1100-032 2100 – Aboard the An Lang, in Orbit Around Djinni

2100 – 2245 -  The VES collectively decide who is on the landing party, who will stay with the cutter, and who will stay in orbit aboard the An Lang:

  • Elwen and Pinkie will stay aboard the An Lang
  • Saeagang, Martaan, and Pascal will take the first air / raft down and select a basecamp location
  • Leah, Froge, and Fitz will take the second air / raft down and select a basecamp location
  • Madeline and Dr. Soto will pilot the cutter to basecamp

Once basecamp is established, the two air / raft teams will head to the location of the Ancient signal source and investigate.

The crew goes through its stores, and tries to decide what to bring with them to explore the Ancient signal source, what to pack in the air / rafts, and what to leave in the cutter.  An approximate basecamp site is picked out. Unfortunately, a weather analysis shows that the VES has arrived in the middle of Djinni's winter.

2245 - The crew retires to bed. Froge strips and cleans his weapons, packs and repacks for the EVA, and makes all his last minute checks. Leah sends a copy of all the survey's data so far to the System Defense Boat Chimera. Martaan writes a letter to Lady Doctor Cassandra ap-Tain. Pascal continues his studies, looking for references in the literature on the Ancients for technology involving antimatter and disintegration.

1100-033 0700 – 1200 - The two air / rafts leave for the surface, a five-hour journey. Partway down, air / raft one encounters real turbulence and goes into a tailspin. Through Saeagang's piloting, and Martaan's and Pascal's emergency in-flight repairs, the air / raft was able to recover its stability and land safely.

1300 - Following the air / rafts' landing, the cutter follows suit.

1400 - Martaan and Fitz walk the perimeter, making observations about the flora. There do not appear to be any fauna.

1530 - The air / rafts are secured to some nearby trees at the edge of the clearing, and covered over with tarpaulins.

1600 – 1700 - Fitz, Froge, Leah, Madeline, Martaan, Pascal, Saeagang and Soto have an early dinner.

1800 - In orbit, the An Lang's probe is refueled and launched. A moderate snowfall begins at basecamp.

1900 - In orbit, one of the An Lang's drones takes up station above one of the underwater concentrations of alien life. 

2200 – 1100-034 0200  Snowfall ends at base camp. The crew goes to sleep in the cramped confines of the cutter. Martaan and Froge take first watch- it is uneventful.

0200 – 0600 - Fitz and Leah take second watch, which is equally uneventful, and get to see their first sunrise on Djinni.