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Jorune: Year One session report (1)

July 6, 2014

Kai Zarin and Smithson observe the arboreal aliens. The creatures, though eyeless, seem to return their scrutiny. They perch among the branches, picking and eating the dark, fist-sized fruit of whatever the hell kind of trees these are. Occasionally one emits a short, sharp screech like fingernails on a blackboard. Smithson, the scientist, knows the creatures for tarro – Jorune natives roughly analogous to Terran monkeys and lemurs. There are several different species; some are dangerous. These ones seem harmless, or at least apathetic. Smithson, Zarin and their two companions leave the tarro to their noisy feast and continue their journey.

Zarin and Smithson are survivors of the short yet devastating Human-Shanthic War. Along with the couple of dozen other colonists who escaped the destruction of the East Basin field station, they have been living hand-to-mouth in an alien forest for several months, ever fearful of renewed assault from surviving shanthas. Kai Zarin is a roguish troubleshooter who worked as a security consultant. She wears deflector armour and has a laser pistol with a single power cell remaining. Smithson was a researcher. He too wears deflector armour, but carries no weapon more advanced than a knife. He does however have a valuable medical kit, and knows how to use it. They are on their way to reconnoitre a stone structure – seemingly abandoned, presumably shanthic – some 20 km from the community’s encampment. They are accompanied by muscle in the stoic, red-shirted shapes of Serafinowicz and Popper.

The day after their encounter with the tarro troop, they reach the mysterious building. It is hexagonal, nine metres across, with a multi-faceted dome. The sole entrance is doorless, and the floor of the single room beyond is carpeted with leaf litter. Small insect-like animals scuttle among the dry leaves and hand-sized spidery things (Smithson identifies them as loosh) inhabit nests of coarse threads near the ceiling. In the centre of the floor, a flight of stairs descends into darkness. Zarin turns on her torch and, treading carefully to avoid disturbing any of the creepy-crawly fauna, the group descends.

At the foot of the stairs is a square chamber nine metres across, cut from the solid rock. Passages lead off to the west, north and east. In the centre of the chamber is a cylindrical stone pedestal, a metre or so tall, carved with abstract linear patterns and with a golf ball-sized depression in its top. Lying on the floor are two small black objects. Upon closer investigation they seem to have some kind of crystalline structure, but they are charred and melted as if by great heat.

Surmising that something should go into the hollow space atop the pillar, Zarin and Smithson search the chamber for a suitable object but find nothing. The crystalline things are somewhat too large and the wrong shape anyway. Smithson tries pouring some water from his survival kit into the depression, with no effect.

Investigating the northern passageway, the party finds that it ends after only six metres. They search for concealed portals but find none. They do notice, however, that the floor of the passage is marked by hair-thin transverse cracks, regularly spaced every 30 cm or so.

They try the passage to the east. After about ten metres it opens into a parallelogram-shaped chamber some nine metres wide by twenty metres or more in length. It appears to be empty, but another passage leads off in a north-westerly direction. Following the passage, which is fifteen or twenty metres in length, Zarin sees soft light ahead and hears muttering voices – they sound like humans, speaking English – and alerts the others. Cautiously, weapons at the ready, the party advances. At the end of the passage is a kite-shaped room approximately eighteen metres by nine. Within are two rather ragged-looking humans, unknown to the party, and a smaller creature that looks something like a plucked gamebird with its eyes on tall, swaying stalks. A pair of stumpy organs on its backside are quivering. Neither Zarin nor Smithson has set eyes on such a being before, but Smithson knows it for a thriddle, a species present on Jorune before the human colonists arrived but whose precise origin is the subject of debate.

The strangers become aware of the party and, startled, the two humans draw weapons. One, a bearded man of middle age, has a laser pistol (immediately attracting Smithson’s acquisitive interest), while his companion, an athletic-looking fellow clad in black and wearing a bandana, flourishes what looks like an antique Japanese sword from Earth.

They stare at the party and the party stares back. The thriddle’s organs quiver apprehensively.

TO BE CONTINUED

 

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kagumusha permalink
    July 6, 2014 8:09 pm

    Quivering trid nodes!

    I look forward to more episodes

    Cheers

    Damon

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