Introduction To Rora Mist

[22:22] <Minaplo> [25th of April, 2048, 7:30 AM, Standard Federation Time. Location: Zeruel IV.-
[22:26] <Minaplo> [Professor Kim's expedition lived in a cluster of large cargo shuttles, sitting on the perimeter of the excavation site itself.-
[22:31] <Minaplo> [Some twenty or so people lived within these shuttles. Outside, they wore sealed environmental suits: the air was breathable, but very thin. The gravity was slightly lighter than Earth standard, and the heat…-
[22:32] <Minaplo> [Zeruel 4. Dune-covered. Desert planet. Scorching during the day, freezing at night. Not enough atmosphere to keep the heat in once the sun was gone.-
[22:33] <Minaplo> [The morning was well underway on Zeruel IV: the expedition was preparing for today's attempts. The staff were animated and the commlines full of chatter…-
[22:43] <Minaplo> [In one such cargo shuttle lived one person, not a scientist- a person whose alarm had just started to ring.]
[22:57] <Rora> Rora sighed, that ever-constant blare jolting him from the clutches of restfulness. With a motion born of years of familiarity, he made a motion of sliding a switch from within his sleeping bag; with a swift click, blissful silence returned.-
[22:59] <Rora> He didn't want to get up, of course. Nobody ever wants to get out of bed (or in this case, bedroll). And if it had been just himself, maybe he wouldn't have.-
[23:06] <Rora> But as it turned out, he wasn't the only one depending on him to get on with the day. So, after a last minute of groggy resistance, he unzipped the bag and got on with his morning routine. Once he was sufficiently freshened (comb through the hair, check; water gargled, check; clothes acceptably wearable, check), it was time to head out and see what Professor Kim had plans for today.
[23:19] <Minaplo> ["Good morning, Rora." Said Professor Kim, giving him a lazy tip of an invisible hat. She was of average height, east asian in appearance; her head was completely shaved, except for her eyebrows, which were brown. "Feel like taking a ride in an AC Suit today?"]
[23:49] <Rora> "And to you, Professor," he replied, slightly bowing to her with folded arms. He smiled up at Kim from his own moderately less-than-average height, dark hazel eyes seeming to smile as well at the question. "At any and every opportunity. Something specific we're looking for this time, or…?"
[00:02] <Minaplo> ["Back down into the tunnels today." Said Kim. "We don't think we can open the main sealed door without brute force… But we might've found an alternative way around it. We want you to take point, in case there's anything dangerous."]
[00:17] <Rora> "Hmm, but of course," he mused, nodding. That was precisely why he was here, after all: to Guard. "Heartening news though, this other path forward! A comparatively less literal breakthrough to the default option, perhaps?"
[00:21] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, fortunately. I'm dying to find out what's inside, but damaging the ruin to do it… Well. Bad form." Said Kim.]
[00:40] <Rora> "Without question. the soul betrayed" A momentary frown, Rora rubbing absently at his chin. "…Well, all the more heartening, then. Are there any other preparations to be made, or am I the final gear to begin turning?" The smile returned, perhaps a bit sheepish now as he ran a hand through his scruffy black hair.
[00:44] <Minaplo> ["No, we're ready to go when you are."]
[00:50] <Rora> "Mmh, indeed. I shall suit up posthaste then, that we may, as is said, 'get this show on the road,' yes?"
[00:52] <Minaplo> ["… Yep."]
[01:06] <Rora> Rora remained still for a moment, eyes seemingly staring somewhere distant…and then blinked. With another folded-armed bow and a now-undeniably-sheepish smile, he exited the tent, striding hurriedly to his AC Suit.
[01:14] <Minaplo> […-
[01:23] <Minaplo> [It was much cooler within the ruins.-
[01:23] <Minaplo> [And within the AC Suit, as well. But in general, the ruins were cool- cold, even.-
[01:25] <Minaplo> [They had found the ruins, buried beneath the sands. They'd cleared the sand away, until they hit the smooth red rock beneath. There, they found what had once been a canyon, albeit one now filled with sand. And built into the canyon had been a large round door.-
[01:26] <Minaplo> [The door had been opened easily enough, revealing… A corridor. A corridor of straight white stone, clashing strikingly with the red rock outside.-
[01:26] <Minaplo> [But the white stone was not natural to the canyon. It wasn't even natural to the Zeruel system. That meant someone had shipped it here. An ancient ruin of a spacefaring civilization.-
[01:28] <Minaplo> [Ancient ruins were uncommon sites on worlds in the Federation, but not that uncommon; in the charted worlds within 130 light years of Sol were hundreds of ruins. Many of them bore the marks of having belonged to civilizations that had died out long before reaching the stars, claimed by climate change, natural disaster, impact events or even nuclear exchanges.-
[01:30] <Minaplo> [But ruins belonging to spacefaring civilizations were rare. And their location caused a storm of interest: after all, the Ancestors, those who had settled the galaxy five billion years ago, had built things to last. But they had not been alone; the galaxy teemed with powerful life, once, and in the time since the Ancestors had remade themselves, cultures has risen and fallen.-
[01:31] <Minaplo> [These ruins were in brilliant condition; they were practically untouched.-
[01:31] <Minaplo> [Too untouched; at the end of the corridor had been another door. This one was… 'locked', so to speak. The team had tried to open it a hundred different ways, each ending in failure.-
[01:31] <Minaplo> [That had been a week ago.-
[01:32] <Minaplo> [Rora had not been sent down this corridor.-
[01:33] <Minaplo> [Instead he had been sent down a new, different one, part of the same installation but in a different part of the canyon. A smaller corridor, a little cramped for an AC Suit- but it was believed that it ended in an open space that would let one fall into the room beyond the locked door. Progress, then.-
[01:33] <Minaplo> [And so Rora would find himself walking through the tight tunnel, his AC Suit occasionally brushing up against the walls. Professor Kim and the rest of the team watched remotely via cameras.-
[01:34] <Minaplo> ["You should be coming to a hole in about fifty metres, Rora." Said Kim.]
[01:49] <Rora> He shuddered. It wasn't temperature; he'd reversed his AT cooling from walking out in the open once the Comet Bit's systems kicked in (it was always just a tad too cold). Nor was it fear; close though the walls were, he was confident that any spatial conflicts could be resolved in his favor. Any planet's embrace was far less suffocating than the sea of AT fields back on Earth, anyway.-
[01:53] <Rora> No, this was something…different. A prospect of discovery, mingling with the notion that this place might not wish to be disturbed. An explorer; an intruder. Fire and ice, much like Zeruel IV itself.-
[01:58] <Rora> He nodded, the mechanical shell of himself moving in unison. "Understood." Steadily, carefully, Rora pressed on.
[02:08] <Minaplo> [The AC Suit's ironclad footsteps echoed deeply off the walls.-
[02:09] <Minaplo> [But as Kim said, within a mere fifty metres he would come to a hole. No, not a hole, not really: but another round door, one half-open. Easily and gently pushed aside.-
[02:10] <Minaplo> ["A door in the roof, huh?" Said Kim.]
[02:20] <Rora> "Hmm, I suppose it is somewhat curious. Then again, maybe this is only the roof on this side of the portal…" He resisted the urge to follow that thought experiment, instead ensuring he had plenty of space to cross the threshold into the space below. "…In any case: allow me to shed some light on the situation."-
[02:42] <Rora> First, Rora held out a hand in front of him. For a moment, nothing…and then light materialized, spreading outward from his palm until it formed a scepter topped with a smooth orb. As he 'grasped' it, the orb began to shine even more brightly; a torch of sorts. Then, after a brief, pointed silence, Comet Bit rose into the air, hovering under a power other than its own jet propulsion;
[02:42] <Rora> Rora's power.-
[02:42] <Rora> His preparations complete, Rora gave a satisfied nod. "Commencing initial foray," he relayed as he cautiously lowered himself through the doorway.
[02:48] <Minaplo> ["Cool flashlight." Said someone from the team.-
[02:48] <Minaplo> ["Shh." Said Kim.-
[02:50] <Minaplo> [The chamber Rora entered was large. Easily about a hundred metres wide. It was square-shaped, with a gradual depression in the middle of the room, giving it a sort of bowl-like floor.-
[02:51] <Minaplo> [At the very bottom of the depression was another round door… But this one was different. Silver-white stone engravings ran like a hedge maze across its surface, all coming towards a red sphere embedded within the middle of it all.]
[03:04] <Rora> "Curiouser and curiouser." Rora floated down closer to the new door, the other aspects of the room taking a backseat to this oh-so-shiny detail. "A motif maintained, except now…" he murmured, almost to himself. Angular lines, possibly just decoration, but, "…These patterns: can you discern any meaning from them, Professor?" He held the light closer, making sure they would be fully
[03:04] <Rora> visible to the team's remote viewing.
[03:05] <Minaplo> ["Not from looking at it…"]
[03:22] <Rora> "Wha-?" Rora jerked back, a shock of radiant yellow plumage momentarily rippling over Comet Bit's frame. He glanced at the engraved door, the entrance…then more deliberately looked over the walls, the floor…and the door before him once more.
[03:25] <Minaplo> [And suddenly the silver engravings shone with rainbow light.-
[03:27] <Minaplo> [The light travelled across the circuitry, meeting in the red sphere, filling it up as though it were water. When the sphere was full, it filled the room with a blinding flash of light.-
[03:28] <Minaplo> [Static. The feed to the team was gone.-
[03:33] <Minaplo> [The sphere now floated in the air. It rotated around, shining a bright beam of rainbow light from a single round 'eye'. This eye turned to focus on Rora.-
[03:33] <Minaplo> ["It has been-"-
[03:34] <Minaplo> ["Four billion, ninety-two million, five hundred and sixteen thousand, two hundred and nineteen point one hundred and two years since last activation."-
[03:34] <Minaplo> ["Basic scans show-"-
[03:35] <Minaplo> ["Six hundred billion sentients within sector-"-
[03:35] <Minaplo> ["UNKNOWN HERITAGE: four hundred nineteen billion."-
[03:35] <Minaplo> ["Chantry Watcher, Sector Harvester Empire- activated."]
[03:48] <Rora> "…I…see." Rora forced himself to take even, measured breaths; the feathers of light returned around Comet Bit, and remained, now tinged with even hues of orange and green around their edges. He attempted opening a new channel to Kim and company a couple times, even knowing beforehand that it was nigh certain futility. He settled on leaving the static there, as he clutched too hard
[03:48] <Rora> at a scepter that was only luminescence to begin with.-
[03:54] <Rora> "…Uh." He pressed a fist to his jaw, unable to suppress the inclination any longer. A pause as the train of thought charged frantically forward. "…De…define Chantry Watcher? bracing for abyssal stare"
[04:06] <Minaplo> [The Chantry Watcher stared at Rora.-
[04:07] <Minaplo> ["Traveler." It said, its voice monotone, yet with the hint of various voices behind it.-
[04:07] <Minaplo> ["Heed this message. You do not stand upon a place of honour."-
[04:08] <Minaplo> ["No heroes are buried here, no great weapons are kept here. There is nothing here for you. This is not a place of honour. It is a place of regret and of warning."-
[04:09] <Minaplo> [This world was once part of the Harvester Empire. The Harvesters enslaved billions, and used their powers to turn their intangible emotions into solid materials, from which they built powerful and terrible things. We destroyed them for their sins."-
[04:11] <Minaplo> ["We regret that it came to this. Their actions were inexusable and yet some amongst them must have been innocent."-
[04:11] <Minaplo> ["Nonetheless, destroy them we did, and gave their riches to those they enslaved. Those riches lay here no longer. Their power lays here no longer. This is a tomb world, and I am its guardian."]
[21:33] <Rora> Startled sky blue rippled through Rora's projected plumage at the sphere's inscrutable gaze, but eventually he settled on a pensive goldenrod as the cautionary tale unfolded. "…Tragedies all the way down, was it? pebble disturbing a still ocean"-
[21:33] <Rora> A long pause, followed by a sigh. "…I…I do not doubt the veracity of your account, Watcher, fantastic though this…physical transmutation of emotion strikes me. But…you realize don't you, that this warning will only incite curiosity; that even were I to relay your message perfectly, and the expedition disband, others would likely follow seeking entry to this place, simply because
[21:33] <Rora> they are forbidden from it. wind feeding flames"-
[21:34] <Rora> He shook his head. "Or, perhaps I misunderstand. This is an empty tomb, yes, devoid of those terrible, dangerous treasures. Yet such nothingness we would witness, if only to be able to say there was nothing to see. Would you admit us entry, that we should observe for ourselves the fruits of such folly, and slake our thirst for knowledge? Or would such knowing be, in and of itself,
[21:34] <Rora> too dangerous to allow? seeing over the cliff's edge in the middle of a field"
[21:34] <~Minaplo> [Chantry Watcher slowed slightly.-
[21:35] <~Minaplo> ["Curiosity leading one into forbidden places." Said Chantry Watcher. "If the warning will not suffice, then active countermeasures will have to suffice."-
[21:36] <~Minaplo> ["You do not have permission to enter. You and your companions are to leave within-" it paused, "Seven hours."]
[21:53] <Rora> The color drained from Rora, both within and without Comet Bit. "That is…most considerate of you. a sleeping dragon prodded" He took a deep breath, held it a moment, before releasing it slowly. "Well…for what it may be worth, I do apologize for the…er. Perfunctory command with which I greeted you." A tense pause.-
[21:54] <Rora> "…When you say 'leave', do you mean more this immediate area, or…?"
[21:55] <~Minaplo> ["The planet."]
[21:57] <Rora> "Ah, yes, I see. sun shining with laser focus" He rubbed at his chin again. "…Dare I ask what to expect after the, um. Deadline?"
[21:59] <~Minaplo> ["I am the guardian of this tomb world, placed here by those who burned the Harvesters from a million worlds."-
[21:59] <~Minaplo> ["Use your imagination, unknown one."]
[22:22] <Rora> "Yes, I suppose I shouldn't have. stepping on a rake" Rora brought up Comet Bit's internal clock, a long, low 'hmmmmmmmm' escaping him. "Though prudence would suggest I get back to the others sooner rather than later, I would further inquire: do your creators have a name? Do you, outside of Chantry Watcher? What even are you…?" The last was quieter, as if he were more
[22:22] <Rora> pondering it aloud than actually addressing the spherical entity before him…but then he gave a start. "Oh, my rudeness apparently knows no bounds today; it is Rora Mist who pesters you with all these questions."
[22:23] <~Minaplo> ["… I am Chantry Watcher." Said Chantry Watcher, but slowly.-
[22:24] <~Minaplo> ["And I speak on behalf of the First Federation. Now: depart!"]
[22:31] <Rora> Rora's eyes went wide, but nodded despite himself. "Understood! Farewell then, Chantry. fleeing from rushing storms" he managed, before turning to hastily rise back up through the ceiling door; there was no looking back.
[22:32] <~Minaplo> [The ceiling door sealed tight behind him.-
[22:32] <~Minaplo> […-
[22:33] <~Minaplo> ["You're back!" Said Kim, once Comet Bit had returned with Rora inside. "We were worried- are you alright?"]
[22:42] <Rora> Rora practically leapt out of the suit, barely wincing at the sudden difference in temperature. "We have less than seven hours. Everyone needs to pack up whatever they can, whatever is necessary, and get to orbit. Any theories you might provide on how the First Federation could have travelled here would be welcome, or what Watchers are; but that can all happen later. Evacuation is our
[22:42] <Rora> priority. a dam, sundered"-
[22:43] <Rora> He blinked. "I am unharmed; thank you."
[22:45] <~Minaplo> ["The First Federation?" Asked another researcher. "This is a First Federation ruin-"-
[22:48] <~Minaplo> ["Later." Said Kim firmly. "I have a ton of questions, but I didn't take a contract with a Guardian to ignore what he says."-
[22:49] <~Minaplo> [She spoke into the comms within her helmet. "Everyone, emergency situation. We need to pack up everything we can and get ourselves onto the shuttles!"-
[22:50] <~Minaplo> ["Professor." Said another technician. "We've lost all communications with the rest of the system. Something's blocking our signals, preventing it from leaving the planet."]
[23:01] <Rora> "mire of gore" he signalled to himself, the sickening light display gone as quickly as it appeared. "We ought not take the full seven hours. What goes up first, Kim? I am at your disposal."
[23:12] <~Minaplo> ["Then…"-
[23:12] <~Minaplo> […-
[23:13] <~Minaplo> [Five hours passed, during which the expedition hurriedly packed away its supplies onto the cargo shuttles. Mobile camps were broken down, tools thrown into boxes and stowed away… They tried to recover the geological satellite they'd deployed, but no response.-
[23:14] <~Minaplo> ["Everything's stowed away and we're ready to go." Said Kim, on the lead shuttle, speaking to Rora- who had been left to mount up in the Comet Breaker. "It won't be long until we're in orbit…"-
[23:15] <~Minaplo> [A voice whispered in Rora's mind.-
[23:16] <~Minaplo> ["Rora Mist." Said the Chantry Watcher. "You are about to forget someone. They are in a craft, six hundred nineteen kilometres northwest of your current position. You should collect them before the deadline."]
[23:16] * Disconnected
[23:17] * Attempting to rejoin channel #frontierwar
[23:17] * Rejoined channel #frontierwar
[23:27] * Disconnected
[23:27] * Attempting to rejoin channel #frontierwar
[23:27] * Rejoined channel #frontierwar
[23:36] <Rora> Rora stood at the foot of Comet Breaker, already suited up, his gaze sweeping over what had until just recently been their base camp. "Hmm, that is reassuring. Better when we are clear of Zeruel, of course. But so long as everyone is safe, I will not have failed you entirely…!"-
[23:43] <Rora> He stood stock still for a long moment, staring at nothing…then sprang up, rejoining Bit to Breaker. "Kim, you are certain everyone is aboard? No last minute crews out to collect one final artifact?" A pause. "…An artifact located six hundred nineteen kilometers northwest of me, perhaps?"
[23:48] <Minaplo> ["… Huh? No."]
Session Time: Sun Feb 04 00:00:00 2018
[00:17] <Rora> "No…then, who…?" Comet Breaker finished its startup routine; no time for second guessing. "…perfect, blood-slicked precipice" he growled to himself, setting a waypoint for Chantry's mystery craft.-
[00:18] <Rora> "I have reason to believe someone's out there, Kim; I will not abandon them. Continue your team's evacuation as planned, and I will rejoin you at my earliest convenience." He gunned it for the waypoint, not waiting for a reply.
[00:24] <Minaplo> ["Rora-"-
[00:24] <Minaplo> […-
[00:24] <Minaplo> [Sand, sand, barren rock.-
[00:25] <Minaplo> [Rora's time was running out. Chantry Watcher had given him a general direction, but there was a lot of… Nothing, out here.-
[00:26] <Minaplo> [And the time was running out.-
[00:26] <Minaplo> [After an hour of fruitless searching, mixed in with AT pings, Rora would finally glimpse something.-
[00:27] <Minaplo> [A small, angular, pale yellow-coloured pod, buried nose-first into the sand.]
[00:33] <Rora> His stomach had been tying itself into endless knots for sixty agonizing minutes, but at the sight of the pod, the first and tightest of them unraveled instantly. "Thank God, boarding at last" he sighed, wasting no time in his approach.-
[00:35] <Rora> He attempted a hail: "If you can hear this message, please respond."
[00:37] <Minaplo> [No response.]
[00:40] <Rora> Hmh, not unexpected. He ran a brief scan immediately around the pod; had they already left? roller coaster moving backwards
[00:49] <Minaplo> [The pod contained a single individual!-
[00:50] <Minaplo> [But… Odd. His AT scans produced a strange result. There was definitely someone down there, but they felt different. Different to anyone he'd ever met. His sensitivity to the AT Fields of others felt less… Ruffled.]
[00:57] <Rora> He blinked, at a loss for how to even react to this new revelation…but only for a moment. He sent another hail: "Apologies, but time grows short; I must relocate your vessel so that we may both depart to a more secure location. I lend what power I am able to your protection."-
[01:04] <Rora> Even as he began sending the message, Comet Breaker already set into motion. The construct released its grip on both the pistol and shield it had been carrying, instead holding them in place via his AT Field. Rora then reached out to the pod, easing it off the ground, and then as quickly as he dared up to Comet Breaker's left shoulder dock, where it was nestled snugly beneath the spare
[01:04] <Rora> shield stored therein.-
[01:10] <Rora> Once his charge was secure, he began initiating the checks for planetary departure, absently returning his armaments to hand. And then, a thought struck.-
[01:14] <Rora> Rora tried to recall that sensation, the subtle turning of perceived sound; tried to remember from where in his mind he had felt Chantry speak. He frowned in concentration, unsure…then, with a resigned nod, sent, "My thanks," out into the universe.
[01:17] <Minaplo> ["You're welcome. Do not return."-
[01:17] <Minaplo> [And then the Watcher went silent.-
[01:23] <Minaplo> [The Comet Breaker took off, heading upwards towards the sky…-
[01:23] <Minaplo> [… But Rora would not have the luxury of a peaceful escape.-
[01:24] <Minaplo> [Streaking towards him like shooting stars were two distant objects, objects becoming rapidly larger.-
[01:24] <Minaplo> [Objects that, a moment later, began opening fire on him- bright beams of green light streaking around him.-
[01:24] <Minaplo> [He was under attack.]
[01:24] <Minaplo> -fin-

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