Darkspace Operations, Part 4<br >
Maven piloted the plodding mining rig towards a high ridge overlooking the grand concourse of the hotel, doing her best to tune out Orendi’s clambering about the shoulders of the frame. Every few minutes, Orendi and her enormous hat would hang in front of the cockpit upside down, her collection of pointed teeth flashing as she pulled a face or offered some chaotic koan.
“I wear my stars on the inside!”
“I’ll carry you now, but first you have to leave.”
Maven would nod politely and offer mild responses, hoping to avoid provoking what passed for conversation with Orendi, which usually involved wanton explosions.
“That seems like a good place for them.”
“I’ll let you know when I get tired.”
“I bet that comes in handy.”
Eventually, Orendi simply sat atop the exosuit in palpable, silent frustration. Which was fine with Maven. She was used to not talking for long periods.
When at last they reached the top of the hill, Maven lifted the cage of the cockpit and extricated herself from the suit, taking care not to tangle the hose of her breathing mask on any of the instruments. As an afterthought, she reached into the cockpit, fumbled for a switch, and deactivated the rig’s floodlight. Best to conserve power, just in case. She checked the tanks of air at her waist. Supplemented by an auxiliary supply in the suit, they were still nearly full.
She slipped off the hyperspectral lens she’d been wearing, necessary to scrape the EM band for vision in Darkspace, and flicked the articulated flashlight that hung from a ring on her vest. Even if it was limited range, she was grateful to be working in the visible spectrum, to feel the air against part of her face again. Navigating by the wide cone of light, she unlatched a storage bin and set to the task of establishing a link with the Rogues’ primary ansible relay.
Typically, the automated system took only a few minutes to establish and secure a connection, but the persistent interference from the micro-satellite artificial constellations, or the peculiar signal-diffusing atmosphere, or both, were slowing the link to a crawl. She left the ansible to its calculations and worked on setting up the telemetry station. With an adequate vantage and a clear signal, the equipment allowed for the monitoring of everything from simple ambient temperature to local deformations of spacetime. As she prepared the main console, the flashlight dimmed forebodingly before breathing its luminous last and flickering into death.
“Are you kidding me…“ she muttered under her breath. Stupid. Forgot to check batteries, forgot to bring spares.
She sighed and stood up to stretch, padding through her pack for the headgear she’d set aside only a moment before, when something caught her eye from the darkness. A glimmer of pale green. She closed her eyes—it might be an afterimage, or a phantom of the sensory deprivation of Darkspace. It went away. She opened her eyes and saw it again. It was impossible to gauge its distance without more reference, but it was there. She held the hype-specs to her eyes and peered through them in the alien, muted tones of artificially converted signal to get a better view. There was a crater perhaps a kilometer away, too miniscule to have been made by an asteroid of appreciable size—it couldn’t have been more than 20 meters in radius. At its center, flaring in the thermal infrared, was…something, embedded in the earth. Not large enough to be a craft.
Maven tripped her way back to the rig, flipped the floods back on, lifted the cage and climbed back in, settling the uncomfortable goggles back in place.
“Orendi, we gotta move!”
Orendi burst out from within the storage compartment and scrambled to hang from the side rail, her hideous laughter battering against Maven’s veneer of calm.
Together, they sped along the marbled walkways and ruined steps, the dreamlike clouds of spores cavitating in whorls in their wake. Closer to the crater, the air grew warmer, and every step kicked up lazy plumes of fungal explosions. In the thermal IR of the hyperspectral lens, the glowing anomaly washed out the surroundings beyond recognition. Maven stood above the strange, half-buried object—maybe a foot of which protruded through the dirt in an oblate dome—and spun the manipulator’s hand to excavate the soil around it. As gingerly as could be done with a giant metal arm, she plucked the object up. It looked like a seed, or an egg; definitely organic, in any case. Running along its veined, striated side was a long crack, through which Maven could feel a wash of warmth. It wasn’t triggering the suit’s radiological alarm, but something was definitely off–
“I want to hold the dream thing to DEATH!” Orendi pounced, knocking the pod from the rig’s metal fingertips.
“Hey, watch it!”
She recoiled immediately after grabbing it. “Owww, the fire dream bit me!”
Her hands erupted into black flames as she held the object at arm’s length and slung a barrage of black flame into it with her two free arms.
“NOBODY. BITES. ME. BUT. ME!”
Bits of the organic casing were flaking off under her assault.
“Orendi!” Maven pounded the pneumatic driver into the ground, startling her partner.
“You’ve reached the offices of Orendi and Orendi, how can I assist you?”
“We’ve got contacts.”
Maven nodded towards the opposite rim of the crater, where a group of skulks were shambling out of a Varelsi portal. She reached into an overhead panel and withdrew a bulky flare gun. The flare streamed into the barren sky before settling into a lazy drift high above. Orendi cackled hysterically under the grim white phosphorus, tossing the pod behind them.
Maven turned around and lumbered after it—whatever it was, it had to be important if it got the Varelsi’s attention.
“Orendi, I need you to focus, I can draw them off for a bit, but you have to take this and—oh.“
Maven turned back to face the skulks only to find they were gone, seemingly evaporated in the path of whatever strange energy Orendi harnessed and hurled their way. Orendi calmly climbed onto the outside of the cockpit and smiled.
“I’ll teach you some time. The trick is knowing how to shoot fire! After that, it’s eeeasyyy.”
Behind Orendi, Maven saw a Varelsi portal bloom. The Varelsi poured out everywhere she swept the floodlight, too many to count.
“No time. We have to get to the ansible, now!”
She opened the comms channel as the Varelsi rained their energy weapons after her. “Shayne! This is Maven, we need immediate reinforcements, repeat, immediate reinforcements! We are en route to the ansible, uploading position.”
After a few moments, the radio crackled through the portal interference, “What? No, pause it, I don’t want to miss anything. Hey, Maven, what did you say? I couldn’t hear you over Aurox.”
Maven shouted over the rattle of the suit’s thrusters, “We’re being overrun by Varelsi, we need reinforcements!”
Panic crept into Shayne’s voice, “Hang tight and stay close to Orendi, we’re on our way!”
“C’mon, big guy, we’ve gotta run.” Shayne sprinted to a window and dove out to the stones of the entrance below—it was only a couple of stories, and she had Aurox and her energy shield. They hit the ground rolling and Aurox unwrapped himself from around Shayne as she groaned at the sight of the flare in the distance.
“Uuugh, we’ve gotta run far!”
Gustav’s voice squawked over Shayne’s radio, “Might want to belay that, captain. I am on approach, coming in hot.”
The basso rumble of the Exceeder’s engine heralded its arrival as much as its headlights, sliding to a halt neatly at her side. The passenger door opened automatically.
A digital woman’s voice invited her, “Welcome, Passenger 2.”
Shayne hopped in excitedly.
“Full speed ahead!”
“Aye aye, captain.” Gustav slammed his foot on the accelerator, sending the car lunging forward like an Aplian whipcat. His personal eyepiece was nearly opaque as it displayed wayfinding routes, predictive steering guidance, energy anomaly alarms, and embedded consoles synced to the Exceeder’s own robust system.
“Computer, patch to local ansible node at input coordinates, retrieve ansible contact ‘Reyna Valeria’ from User 1 personal account and call using provided encryption.”
Shayne stared in wonder as they raced up the road at breakneck speed. “This thing can do all that?”
Gustav laughed, “No, captain, I can do all that, with the right car.”
“How’s the head?”
“Seems it was nothing a little adrenaline couldn’t fix.”
Within a minute, they stopped on a dime in front of Maven and Orendi atop the hill.
Reyna’s voice was clear over the car’s speakers, “Malediction, Valkyrie here, whatcha got for me?”
Shayne leaned inexpertly over Gustav, looking for a microphone, “Valkyrie, this is Malediction actual, we’ve got a big problem, our position is crawling with V, we need immediate reinforcements. Over.”
There was a brief moment of radio silence before Reyna replied, “Copy that, Malediction Actual. Sending you reinforcements in a big way, hold position. ETA 5 minutes. Over.”
“Acknowledged, over and out.”
Shayne looked at Gustav expectantly.
“Does it hang up automatically or what?”
Reyna laughed on the other line, “Give ‘em hell, kid. Over and out.”
Darkspace Operations, Part 4<br >
Can’t wait for the big action scene in the next lore.
Will updates be weekly, every other week, or just as they get written? @dante_d_silva
That’s a great question! Everything is still all shiny and new, we’re probably gonna tread carefully and in step with the Battleplans (that is, every other week) for now–however, there is definitely the possibility of some asynchronous lore updates in the future depending on how this shakes out!
Ahh, sweet, sweet lore! Totally worth staying up an extra hour or so to read it!
So there’s some kind of organic object (maybe Eldrid science?) that crashed landed without leaving a significant crater impact. Normally when something falls from orbit, it will either burn up in the atmosphere or the speed of descent causes a large kinetic shock that is magnitudes greater than the original object. Because the crater is so small, it is possible it was dropped from a much lower altitude such as from out of a ship. Why are the Varelsi showing up in such a timely manner? They would have had ample opportunities before, then to retrieve it unless perhaps in order to open portals, they need a point of reference or that this object only showed up when Shayne’s crew landed?
Are you guys going to put up the backlog of lore in here?
Oof, I would definitely love to, that sounds like a pretty big undertaking though. Making a topic for each seems a bit bulky, and making one topic with links to each seems to undermine the intent. I’ll have to talk to some peeps about it! What do you think?
It’s hot inside. Dragon egg? The last dragon egg? “Defend the egg!”
It looked like a seed, or an egg… could feel a wash of warmth…
Or, now here me out, demon bear. Cedar bears are plants so originate from seeds, and I am convinced/hope they end up being an actual bear at some point. Varelsi can be corrupted versions of things. So demon bears are corrupted cedar bears. So this egg has a demon bear inside it. Maven gets a demon bear.
My delirious, still half asleep, irrational brain conjured that up right after thinking dragons. I don’t know which idea I like more.
“What? No, pause it, I don’t want to miss anything. Hey, Maven, what did you say? I couldn’t hear you over Aurox.”
What are they watching instead of working hard like the rest of the crew? Come on guys, I know Doctor Who is starting up again but that can wait. Or am I jumping to the wrong conclusion?
A digital woman’s voice invited her, “Welcome, Passenger 2.”
What happened to Azef?
EDIT: NVM I done goofed. He’s passenger one.
Presumably passenger 1, since Gustav is driving?
I’m with you on the Eldrid hunch for whatever that pod is. Green color scheme definitely fits with the Eldrid. Maybe we can see this pod make its way back to Nova, where Mellka can take a look?
The whole alien-pod-in-a-crater but reminds me a lot of the ending to Ender’s Game, actually. In that case, the pod essentially contained the last remnant of a species that was otherwise basically extinct. I’m one for being optimistic that the universe post-Heliophage can start to recover, so seeing the rebirth of a species like this would be pretty cool.
Delirious, tired brain strikes again.
I was actually going to say Boldur’s bear but you beat me to it. Boldur’s Bear holding a dragon egg? 31 and 32 Battleborn confirmed.
Considering how small the trunk is on boldur, this seems too big to be something from that kind of tree (unless it was a very young tree at chopping).
Also, I think Kitru mentioned to me once that the cedar bear is a living bear (that just happens to also be a tree) kind of like butt stallion is a pony that just happens to be made of diamonds, right? So maybe cedar bears don’t reproduce like trees we’re used to. could be anythiiiing
Interactions between Orendi and Maven are brilliant; I would be scared shitless to talk to Orendi and yet Maven seems to come up with such nice and neutral things to say.
Made me LOL
MY MAGNUS SENSES ARE TINGLING, THIS BETTER BE DREDGE OR I WILL RIOT. Oooooh I really hope it’s him, getting all kinds of epic entrance scenes flashing in my head; arriving just in time amidst the swarming Varelsi, sending out his mindless minions with their dead, ghoulish eyes flashing in the dark, begrudgingly saving the day! Everyone’s frozen still by fear and awe
Seems like this seed or egg or whatever could have been a trap even. Not sure how the Varelsi would have known to rig it, but maybe they just couldn’t “operate” the thingy by themselves, thus, appearing once the egg bell rang to reap the rewards. Then again why would they need that.
I need to think upon what we’ve learned here today a bit more. Mostly just hype about Dredge incoming though.
P.S. 5 minutes have passed and I still don’t see him.
Maybe she was watching a super important report or something!
Nah, she found a functioning “media center” with some mildly corrupted holotapes of The Way It’s Made special on phase beacons. It’s cool, though, she was only watching for like, a minute.
This is awesome! clap clap clapclapclap
Orendi needs her own talk show. The Orendicast starring Orendi. Donate $10 to her Patreon and she’ll let you choose which of your fingers she bites off.
I was thinking grouping them together. Ie Darkspace series as one thread with a line break between each post and a link back to the original Battleplan. I suppose I could also create a thread for the Lore Bible too now.
I noticed that someone has already posted a few of the Darkspace operations as separate thread. Maybe a moderator could merge them? It would make more sense.
Of course it’s too small to be his bear but the bear is my dream character even if it’s just in lore.
Speaking of which @dante_d_silva do you think at some point even if it’s waaaaay in the future we could get some lore on Boldur’s bear, I’m sure there is at least one interesting story from their time together that you can guys can uh drum up from the fully pre-written lore archives cough yeah prewritten.
Most excellent breakfast Orendi.
Got only one, simple question:
WTH is “ansible”?