Monday, September 27, 2021

Buttons Are For Pushing

With some funds in their collective pocket, the crew decided it was time to head towards Atl, and the quest handed out by the Faerie Queen. The trip was a long one - 17 days of boring jumpspace travel. Finally, they popped out in a system with a decent size sun, a largish habitable planet, and a really, really big cube. "Power of three", indeed!

The cube is roughly Earth-sized, though acted more like a massive ship than a planet, what with gravity on the surface following the planes, rather than merely pointing towards the center.

The planet, on the other hand, was fairly normal, though its light atmosphere and heavy gravity were a bit of a pain to deal with - less so the atmosphere, what with the robots not needing to breathe, and power suits largely negating that as well. A handful of rings surround the planet, which make for spectacular sunsets.

The landing platform was a beautiful mountain, overlooking a large farming community; a tram took them down to the city, where they found a museum. They learned about the foundation of the cities, and how the area is one of the few farming communities outside of the core worlds. While the land is fertile, there aren't many who can survive the high gravity and thin atmosphere, especially among people who grew up in low-g environments. Those who live on the planet are hard-working souls who understand the benefits of hard work, and treasure their ability to live somewhere with actual sunrises.

After a tour of the museum, they asked around, and located a scientist who knew about the Cube, one Dr. Hindica. He was thrilled to discuss the cube, and mentioned that while a few exploration teams have gone to explore it, none returned alive; the only group that came back were two pilots, who said they lost contact with the team after they went below the surface of the Cube.

When asked about the poem, he mused that perhaps a place called Tesseractus could be a place to look - it may be the "impossible weight", what with having some weird gravity.

After a little more looking around, the crew headed back to space, and decided to take the ship into the wide opening at the south end of the cube. Dr. Hindica mentioned that there had been some probes launched into it, but they had all gone offline not far inside. And, before long, they found what likely caused it - a huge, translucent space eel, with some really nasty teeth. After a short firefight, the eel was dead, and Rodney headed out to carve off a chunk. As one does.

Reggie, inspired, pulled out the weird remote from the Hercules research station; buttons on the lover left were lit up, which of course prompted him to poke some buttons. As he did so, power conduits started lighting up in the Cube. Once they were fully lit, four buttons changed colors, and Reggie hit them too, because sitting in what Elise worriedly referred to as "the barrel of a planet-sized gun" didn't seem too dangerous. Right? When the Cube seemed to be primed for... something... they decided that maaaaaybe they should head outside before they pushed any more buttons.

Reggied handed the remote over to Elise, who punched the blue button. A huge black funnel spun out of the hole in the Cube, wrapped in glowing purple energy. Pulling the ship around, they noted that the end of the funnel looked all wobbly, like a damaged computer screen, shifting between scenes of various planets. A screen, but a screen roughly three Earths wide - it's absolutely huge! After a minute of recording the strange event, the funnel collapsed, fading out. Further button presses resulted in nothing further, as if the Cube's batteries were drained.

They returned to the planet, where thy found the science offices closed. Elise broke into Dr. Hindica's office, leaving the chunk of the space creature, as well as readings and a recording of the event. They found a lovely place to stay, then in the morning, returned to the science offices again to talk with Dr. Hindica again. Understandably, he was very confused about the space eel, but was very happy to have the readings; he gave them the coordinates to visit Tesseractus.

The trip there was much shorter, only a few days, and soon the crew were landing on a strange little planet.

Tesseractus is roughly the size of Mars, but according to readings (and later interactions with the plant itself), gravity is exactly 1.1 Earth gravity. However, according to scientists inside, it acts like it should way more than the Earth's Sun!

The only occupants are stationed in a large research center. Entering the sprawling complex, the crew heard a pair of scientists talking about how the data simply doesn't line up; Reggie interrupts, and asked if they happened to know about a "Confounding Circlet"; one of the scientists answered that, if any place qualifies, it would likely be one Vularius, a place he has been trying to get transferred, though as yet has been able to find the funding for it. Costs are higher in the Border Colonies for research.

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