[AotA] Alpha Station :: The Laboratory :: Scene 5

edited November 2017 in aota-jam
The Hangar Bay
After a short but sweet afternoon with Nur, Dwi opts to return to his ship to escape the crowds. Rocky was due for an actual meal, and Dwi was looking forward to losing himself in a good novel. He was greeted as he entered the airlock with the familiar chirp of T.A.S.H.A coming online — the airlock cycles, and he's greeted by a softball-sized droid hovering at about eye level — T.A.S.H.A.'s avatar. It's mostly metalic, but the front face of it has a holographic projector that displays little emoticons that it uses to help biological beings anthropomorphize it — sometimes, if the operator of the ship is feeling lonely, the droid is known for projecting an entire body to act as a stand-in companion. Right now, though, the droid is simply projecting a smiley face. The droid rolls in the air playfully as if greeting him with a wave.
":D Welcome home, Dwi," T.A.S.H.A. said in a pleasant sing-song. ":) You received a ping from Celeste while you were gone, requesting you take stock of the various sensors onboard, and meet her at the station's lab with a full report of our surveying equipment, and their functional state. I've taken the liberty of starting the diagnostics for you. She also informs you that you'll be retrofitting some sensitive ancient technology, and will instruct you on its use when you arrive at the R&D sector."
Dwi smiles, and steps past the droid. Rocky follows suit, making a bee-line for his food dish. "Thanks Tash," he says as the little droid follows him down the main hall.

Dwi's ship, the Iluma, a Mark IX Taulan Astrometrics Surveyor/Harvester, is – as the dealer put it – "a cozy little fixer-upper with lots of potential". With the TASH line now up in the double digits of revisions, the Iluma from the outside looked like an anachronistic eyesore – hull platings worn-down, and sun-bleached from several lifetimes of use – but the interior of the ship was an entirely different matter.

Dwi had poured nearly every credit he earned into modernizing the Iluma: the electronics gutted and retrofitted with top-of-the-line sensors and pathways; the computer replaced with a quantum computer donation from his father; the interior updated to reflect ships of a more modern vintage. The only thing he left untouched was T.A.S.H.A. — the assistant that came stock with every TASH. He couldn't bring himself to replace her with the more socially sterile, but feature-rich offspring that Taulan Astrometrics had released in the interim.

He passed the ladder down to the cargo bay, and up to the maintenance area, then the personal storage room, and washroom, before he reached the end of the cramped main hall, which opened up into a cozy little living space containing his bed, kitchenette, and workbench. Rocky trots over to the his dish, and sits patiently as Dwi catches up. He could see the cockpit just up the stairs opposite the main hall, the dim amber lighting of the consoles glowing in standby mode.

He opens up a small cupboard, revealing his protein resequencer, and punches in a serving size for Rocky. After a few short minutes of grinding, and baking, pellets fall out of the sequencer, and into Rocky's dish. Dwi sets the dish down next to the now excited dog at his feet. "Can you open up the maintenance hatch? I'll go out and do a visual inspection once Rocky's all set up."
":D Of course!" it answers, hovering in Dwi's periphery, ":) Is there anything else I can help with?"
Dwi rises back to his feet. "No, that's fine thanks... I'll just grab my tools." He makes his way back down the hall towards the maintenance ladder. The noises of Rocky scarfing down his food and lapping up his water reverberate down the metal halls. Dwi stops at the ladder, opens up his storage locker to grab his tool belt, and slowly makes his way up to the service hatch — which he finds open. T.A.S.H.A. follows him up the shaft, and out onto the hull of the ship.

They spend the next couple of hours performing a full inspection of all the sensors and vias, ensuring there are no damaged components in need of replacement, and that they're operating at peak efficiency. He notes any radiation damage to the circuitry, and updates a spreadsheet of data for Celeste. It took him a little longer than usual, as he caught his mind wandering to Nur on more than one occasion — but the work got done, and T.A.S.H.A. didn't seem to notice. When every sensor of the ship is accounted for, and tested, he sends it off to Celeste with the note "I'll be there soon, -Dwi." He turns to T.A.S.H.A., and pulls a rag from his pocket to clean the grease off his hands — he finds some dirt under his nails from feeling the top-soil with Nur, and smiles to himself. "Could you warm up the shower for me?"

The Laboratory
Dwi arrives at the Laboratory a short time later. The lab is a complex of modular buildings on the outer shell of the ship. Glass tunnels between the buildings jut out all over the place. He's greeted at visitor registration by Celeste, who appears to have been waiting for him. The lab visitor area is a posh lounge complete with a bar, couches, and a selection of screens displaying various commercials for the corporations that make up Alpha Station's R&D sector. Several elevators are lined against the far wall, three of which go to public labs, and one which requires elevated security credentials to operate; on it, a corporate logo that resembles a phoenix — the Liminal's insignia.

He bows respectfully to Celeste, "I hope the report was to your satisfaction. Your message said something about ancient tech?"


  • edited November 2017
    The projection glitches for a moment then resolves. "I did. Do you know why you were chosen for this Dwi? Your care and... attention to detail in restoring your ship, integrating the new and the old. Most would have either gutted everything and put in all new or tried to restore the old completely. You managed to blend the two extremes, an approach I believe is called for here." Celeste gestures to the elevator. "Come. I want to show you something."
  • edited November 2017
    Dwi notes the pause in Celeste's explanation just before the "attention to detail" bit — is that supposed to mean something he wonders, suddenly a little unsure of himself. He bows respectfully at the compliment none the less, and follows Celeste over to the Elevator.

    "You'll have to forgive me," he says as they wait for the elevator to open "with the exception of a few FTL core repairs on old Taulan vessels during my apprenticeship years, I haven't seen ancient technology proper in years..." Dwi suddenly recalls spending an evening with his journeyman, Alys, tearing apart the jerry-rigged core on one of the oldest Taulan ships in the fleet — one of the first FTL vessels of his people. It was a terrifying mess of cables, exhaust ports, and constantly failing electronics interfacing with this pristine sphere of hovering tech — a black box of scientific magic that made FTL travel possible.

    It took the Taulans millennia to decipher how the tech was even possible, let alone build their own. To this day, nothing in the Taulan fleet compares to those ancient drives — and the expertise to maintain them is all but lost to a select few who can wrap their heads around the complicated engineering necessary to make them work at all. That Celeste was offering him access to more ancient tech — maybe even something more complicated than an FTL core — excited him. "Not that you don't have my attention!"
  • The hologram smiles, glitching as the elevator rises. "Excellent. I knew you'd be enthused." The doors open onto a room with a single glowing orb hovering in the center and several different artifacts on tables around the perimeter. "Please, take a look." They extend an arm encompassing the room.
  • Dwi's eyes go wide at the sheer number of artifacts before him. He fails to contain his excitement as he makes his way into the room, rushing from item to item, attempting to discern what he can recognize and what he can't. He's surprised that he recognizes a few pieces at all, as a great deal of modern technology appears to be derived from them, but he's more surprised by the technology he doesn't recognize: hovering orbs, thin films with inlaid crystals and conductors, things he can't even begin to describe...

    His eyes catch the glowing orb in the center of the room, and he walks over to examine it. It looks like an FTL drive, but behaves nothing like any of the ones he's seen. A memory of Alys swatting his hand bubbles to the front of his consciousness, instructing him to not touch if he likes living. He turns back to Celeste, an expression of childlike awe painted all over his face, "what are these things?"
  • "I do not know what all of them are myself. The pad there contains all we know of them, including how we've been using them." The hologram glitches for a second. "This I know is a properly working drive. It is an earlier model than you are used to perhaps, but still completely functional."
  • The number of glitches in Celeste's projection are starting to make Dwi wonder — does she rely on ancient technology, too? Has she been suffering from the same seemingly random failures some of the older Taulan vessels have been experiencing of late? He stops himself from inquiring; assuring himself that if something was urgently wrong, they would either be told soon, or the Liminal would have it under control.

    He circles the drive, looking for anything he might recognize — but fails to identify anything beyond the arcane nature of the tech. He points to it, "Is this what I'll be working with?"
  • The hologram nods. "The artifacts in this room, yes." They smile. "It's what we have been able to assemble over the years."
  • Dwi does a double take, and looks around the room, "All of them?!"
  • Celeste chuckles. "I think you will rise to the challenge."
  • edited November 2017
    Dwi turns to the room of equipment, eyes wide. He gently strokes his beard, wondering where to start first, and nods — "this is quite the challenge," he mutters to himself, "but that never scared me before..."
  • End Scene.
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