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March 1, 2015 

51 Pegasi 

50 light years from Earth 


51 Pegasi is an LV-type star, the kind of small yellow dwarf utterly undistinguished except for the simple accident of longevity and luminescence that means they are, by a wide margin, the stars most likely to support Lor-type life across the galaxy. 51 Pegasi does have one novelty - 51 Pegasi B, the gas giant trapped a little more than 4 million miles from its home star. 51 Pegasi B is a burning hot world, wracked by storms and super-heated winds that make the planet one of the most hostile in Lor space. Even so, the scientific research station on 51 Pegasi Ba, the single asteroidal satellite of the planet, has always been something of a backwater. The fluid dynamics of superheated gas giants is a vigorously debated scientific discipline, but one with few practical applications. 


The team from Ohtalv University arrived for their year-long assignment five and a half months ago, a few weeks before Ohtalv University and the rest of Lor-Van was atomized by strong-nuclear suppression from the Communion. A routine scientific posting had suddenly become a refuge, but also a cage - the picket ship usually assigned as their rescue vessel was called away for convoy duty months ago and they have nothing on the base rated to so much as leave the shadow of the asteroid.


Of the five person team from the University, their world gone and families dead, supplies dwindling more and more every day, four are still alive. It's a sad story, but a story repeated again and again the Lor Republic. Nothing out of the ordinary here. Until recently. 


As he sat in the station's control center, Narab Zober watched what would have been the career-making discovery of a scientist a year earlier play out before him with calm interest. Only the cool discipline of his Hephestian martial heritage kept him here, kept him working, and kept thoughts of home, family, and all he had lost out of his mind. Lives had ended - but life went on. 

"...from deep neutrino scans, the entity has reached the rocky core of Pegasi 51b and has begun what can only be described as _feeding_ on the heavy metals and other materials within." He watched the rippling clouds, gone chaotic in recent days, and raised a long feathered eyebrow, his padded fingers folded on the table in front of him.


"To survive at the heart of a super-heated gas giant, the Gorgon's energy and matter absorption abilities must be even greater than previously estimated. Fascinating. At current rate of consumption, I estimate that within seven standard days, Pegasi 51b will have lost its gravitic cohesion and begin breaking up." And then plummet into the burning heart of the star - along with this station. "This is Dr. Narab Zober of Lor Science Station #0047, ending this rotation's report. Tomorrow Dr. M'Kelley will offer her report on the fluid dynamics of a gas giant in the process of core destruction. End transmission."

When he was done, he stared at the communications terminal, as if willing a reply by sheer force.

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A small pocket of space began to twist and distort before snapping back to normal with the spaceship Voidrunner now occupying the spot. In the pilots seat, Ruby Voxx took a moment to just stare at the gas giant. She was tracking down one of the most dreaded beings in the universe capable of wiping out whole planets. It was certainly a step up from hunting pirates haunting space lanes and wanted criminals. The payday from this job certainly proved that much. At the very least locating the massive Preserver machine had been easy.


Bringing her back on the other hand was going to be difficult however. 


"Well...Not your typical job." Ruby muttered as she engaged the ships regular engines and started making her approach. She switched the communications channels to open. "This is Ruby Voxx of the Voidrunner. Can anyone hear me, Over."

Edited by Darksider42
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A faint pause, and then a clear, deep voice. "Voidrunner, this is Dr. Narab Zober of Lor Science Station 47. We read you." The Voidrunner's sensors had to strain to the utmost to make out the little winking dot that was the station's source; a single iron asteroid in low orbit of Pegasi 51b. "Advise that the Gorgon entity's appearance has destabilized the gravitic constant in the inner solar system. I suggest you tune your mass-stabilizing systems to the theta-band to maintain structural integrity when you approach the planet. What is your cargo?" There was a refreshing lack of deeper questions from the Lor scientist, who had evidently read the FOF signal from Voidrunner (a gift from the Lor military) and made some logical deductions. 

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"Bunch of Earthlings and a suspicious absence of time," Dragonfly replied.

Even as she spoke - and with quick permission from Ruby - Dragonfly was adjusting the ship's systems. Rather than rely on an interface she wasn't used to, she opted to just connect directly: little lights could be seen dancing behind the lenses of her helmet, and nearby screens danced through some quick stabilization adjustments. Improvements, too, for that matter; nothing dramatic changed, but something that looked suspiciously like a complex delta-v equation scrolled out of the engineer's head and over to both the pilot and the engines, adjusting handling for the new curvature of space.

It wasn't much - barely an efficiency improvement, at any reasonable speed - but in Dragonfly's experience the little things were always what mattered. "Or 'Terrans', or whatever. We're hoping to speak to the Gorgon."

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Sitara allowed herself a few minutes to admire the beauty that was a system being torn apart the swirls of gases, rocks and ice was a thing to behold. It was an irony that all this was created in destruction and due to the fact that the Gorgon was a messy eater.

The Gorgon was almost a force of nature old even in her own time, in fact there had been discussion of baiting Gorgon to attack the Amitra’s homeworld. It hadn’t been done when she'd gone into the healing pod, for all she knew Gorgon had destroyed both civilization angered somehow by this plan. She’d never know anyone successfully negotiate with the Gorgon, cajole or force away maybe but never cut a deal with. It was a little disconcerting.


“I think we should go hear what the Doctor has discovered about the Gorgon, his insights might help us negotiate with the intelligence.†after months of practice her Galsatandard was almost perfect

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The station was happy to have them dock, for all that approaching so close to 51 Pegasi b (dubbed Bellerophron by Terrans) was a tricky bit of navigation. Up close, the planet was a spectacular sight even for space veterans. The super-heated atmosphere's movements were too fast to develop the elaborate stripes of Jupiter and other Terran gas giants, instead up close it looked to be one big roiling hurricane, broken up by lightning bolts large enough to fry a Terra-sized planet with one strike. They had a good view from the station's dome, though it was actually remote cameras on the other side of the asteroid that provided what appeared to be an side view.


Inside the cramped, ill-smelling confines of the station's common room, Dr. Zober gave his report, bulky furred arms folded behind his muscular back, silhouetted by the projection of the planet behind him. His research team, two quiet Lor-type humanoids and one grim-faced Za'akian, watched him speak. The fifth member of the team, upon learning of the death of his family in the destruction of Lor-Van, had stepped into the airlock some weeks earlier and never stepped out again. 


"My initial estimates suggested that the Gorgon was merely replenishing its internal matter stores. perhaps after an engagement with Communion forces. I no longer believe this to be the case. The Gorgon," shown in silhouette in a cutaway shot of the planet behind him, "is engaged in a large-scale matter reclamation project. Even a vessel of its size is unable to absorb a mass equal to the rocky core of Bellerophron - but given Forerunner technology, the Gorgon does have the power to alter that mass as it sees fit. I believe that the Gorgon is engaged in the act of...creation."


"We haven't gotten a reply to any of our hails," reported Krah'ag, the Za'akian scientist who had looked visibly unsettled at the sight of meeting the Traveler. "But we've never tried to send a message through that many layers of superheated hydrogen and helium, much less with all that electrokinetic activity. She may not even be hearing them." 

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The last few months had been somewhat trying for Ana, in no small part due to her ending her contract with Oskar; the old Kraut apparently had enough war for one lifetime, but he was more than willing to let her go with her share of the profits, as well as a sizable 'parting gift' that she hoped to use to purchase a ship of her own once the fighting stopped. Since then, she and Sei had formed an unusual partnership, though the vicissitudes of war kept them separate for long periods of time. Ana did not particularly enjoy fighting, but she was getting better at it. She was currently traveling with three other Earth women, though that wasn't always easy to tell.

"Forgive me for doubting, but maybe that's a good thing? I didn't think the Gorgon was something you want to poke with a stick."

Edited by Heritage
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"Depends on the size of your stick," Dragonfly deadpanned, cocking her head at the projection. Under normal circumstances she'd have loved to study pretty much everything here in more detail: the station, its inhabitants, the technology, the physics of the gas giant (albeit not the giant itself; she wasn't much of an astronomer), the Gorgon. But she'd been close to the Gorgon before, part of the team who obtained a sample from it during the Earth invasion - she'd really, really hoped to never have to get close again.

You don't always get what you wish for.

"We might be able to help you with your signal, if it isn't reaching her. Doubt she thinks we're important right now. Creation is...interesting, though. Seemed more interested in preservation in earlier encounters; difficult to preserve a gas giant. Can't detect what she's doing through the gas layers?"

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Sitara had never liked the official uniform of the Praetorians, really she wasn’t keen on uniforms t all,  but she had worn it on this journey. In chaotic time like these symbols became important so for now the uniform stayed.

“I’ve never heard of Gorgon deciding to create progeny, I’ve never heard of a any threat that would have caused her to consider such a thing, the Communion never threatened her before.â€

Whilst she had been a warrior for thousands of years it wasn’t the only thing she had studied and honed over that time, though she wasn’t as knowledgeable as some of those gathered here.


“Could we not try to create an small area clear of interference? Enough for a comm signal or sensor beam to get through?â€

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"It is possible that a communications window could be opened to the Gorgon now that your vessel has arrived," conceded Dr. Zober, the senior scientist's manner exceptionally grave. "If an FTL starship were to tune its EM resonance to match that of the electrokinetic medium in the planet itself, a message could be sent that the Gorgon could receive. In essence the planet itself would become the transmitter - either for a communications signal or a sensor device." He hmmed, or rather grumbled, the resonance deep in his fat, furry belly. "But given the magnitude of the planet's current electrokinetic activity, such a retuning would have to be performed beneath the planet's dihydrogen monoxide layer." He steepled his pawed hands, short, stubby fingers barely touching. "In short, said vessel would have to be deep inside the planet's atmosphere." 


"But Dr. Zober, that'll put them within a few thousand miles of the Gorgon itself!" declared Krah'ag, smashing a fist against a comm table for emphasis. "She could reach out and gobble them up with barely a twitch!" 


"Agreed," said Zober, his black snout twitching with suppressed emotion. "That is why I must go with them." 

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"No one could imagine someone knocking down the three biggest galactic civilizations down either, but here we are." The bounty hunter said. While certainly skilled in many areas, a lot of the technical Details Dr Zober spoke of went over Rubys head. She did make out the obvious though. "I suppose I could pilot the Voidrunner within range for you to do your thing. But it would be difficult to get in close with the atmosphere as it is. Plus the Gorgon might be a bit of a problem as well." Ruby said with a shrug. She did know the risks when she signed on for this, though she predicted her odds against a giant machine were slightly better than the storms that risked wreaking havoc on her ships systems.

Edited by Darksider42
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Ana puffed out her cheeks and ran guantleted fingers through her hair, an entirely pointless gesture due to the way the jets of cool air from the collar of her suit sent the pale strands dancing about. "By any chance does the Voidrunner have an sort of stealth capability? I'm thinking the longer we have before the Gorgon can detect us, the better." Then she gestured towards the other pale Earth girl in a suit onboard. "Dragonfly and I could work on the comms, and by that I mean she can work on them, and I can hold her toolbox." She grinned; the former astronaut and engineer was smart, but she wasn't afraid to admit when she was hopelessly outclassed in the brain department.

Edited by Heritage
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"Stealth or not, might be our only option," Dragonfly mused, frowning. She'd almost been ready to suggest the creation of some kind of defense against the storms, but the sheer weight they brought to bear would mean that'd take more time than they probably had. Retrofitting stealth, too, against a being with who knew how many exotic senses.... She tapped a finger against her leg, frowning, and trying very, very hard to not calculate odds. "No sense waiting, then. Gorgon could have swatted us already; guarantee it either knows station is here, or doesn't care. Should start our work before it decides we're in its way."

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Space is silent - but the trip into Bellephron's heart was nothing but. First the radiation alarms as Voidrunner's sensors detected the wash of hard radiation produced by a Jupiter-sized planet burning in the fires of a nearby star, then the buffeting shockwave as their bow made contact with the churning, raging atmosphere of a planet so hot as to nearly be aflame. The planet cooled as they went deeper, but then came the deep concussions of distant bolts of lightning, electrical explosions vast enough to fry the Earth they'd all left behind, and the spatter of liquid hydrogen compounds against the outer hull, like rain from the aftermath of a terrestrial storm. 


"621 miles," commented Zober, his big black eyes glued to the monitors while the terrestrial scientists made the necessary modifications to let the ship send the signal to the Gorgon. "Entering liquid state...now!" And sure enough came another shock as they reached an ocean - an ocean of superheated water, big enough to swallow the Earth and more besides. Sensors detected the usual Jovian-style life in this level of the atmosphere, mostly congregated liquid compounds that writhed well away from their approach. There was, fortunately, not a sign of sentient life on the planet itself. 


Zober slowly ate from a pot of sweet-smelling nutrient paste, his red utility harness (his only item of clothing) jingling softly as they made their bumpy way through the liquid 'ocean' of the vast planet. "Medium displacement is well above highest recorded levels," he commented as they were buffeted by a vast hurricane big enough to hold the entire Lor Star Navy - especially lately. "The result of the increased mass of the Gorgon itself. Fascinating" Gravity was fluctuating too, yet another headache for Ruby as she sat behind the controls of the ship. 


Finally, they broke through the ocean layer, entering a pocket of highly pressurized, exotic gases containing high levels of hydrogen and helium compounds (albeit a 'pocket' large enough to comfortably hold two Earth-sized bodies, a pocket as big as the orbit of the Moon!). Turning sensors to their utmost to break through the opaque, claustrophobic layers of tens of thousands of miles of ocean and atmosphere, they were able to find the source of much of the turbulence. The sight of the impossible itself. 


The Gorgon was there at the heart of the planet, massive tentacles surrounding the rocky core and shaping it, sculpting it, reforming it - into an all-too-familiar state. Looking at the sensors, they could all see the hard reality of a construction project so vast as one Earth-sized body reshaped another to its own needs, as nanites swam across the core, reshaping it 


"The Gorgon is...reproducing."

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Ruby gritted her teeth as she guided the Voidrunner through the Gas giant. It was not everyday she had to pilot through a combination of chaotic Atmosphere, liquids and strange gases. Her eyes darted around various reading, making sure nothing got fried or the hull got ruptured or anything else that could spell doom for all on board. There was some relief when they broke through it all, although that feeling faded away once she caught sight of the ancient machine at work with nanotechnology far beyond what operated her own equipment could achieve.


"Now who wants to congratulate the mother to be?" Ruby said as if this whole thing was normal.

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It was a worrying sight in some way, there were a few reasons why she would do this and few of them were good. Though even she had considered the idea of starting a family, right now the Praetorians had a whole hold full of babies that someone could attempt to adopt. But right now the Communion was the main threat and that meant talking to this creature, she just hope didn’t they were dealing with an even worst threat.


“I’d hate to meet the father, though considering the Gorgon it wasn’t pleasant for him either.†she gave the Ruby a smile


She checked the scanners looking for a calm spot in a sea of churning gases.



“Try that spot there, we should try to talk to her a soon as we can.â€

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If it was possible for Ana's face to turn paler, it would've done so now. She unconsciously lowered her voice, as though afraid the 'expectant mother' might overhear them "Pretty sure there isn't any father; this is probably closer to parthenogenesis."

As she stared in awe at the spectacle before them, she shook her head slightly like she could somehow make it go away. "What do we even say to her...it? What can we possibly offer as incentive to join us? Do we have anything of value to negotiate with?"

The cryokinetic then attended to the broadcasting equipment, making sure all was in readiness. "I suggest once we figure out what we want to say, we send it several times, up and down the EM spectrum to make sure it gets through"

Edited by Heritage
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Dragonfly cocked her head at the scene in front of them, biting her lip as she watched the Gorgon sculpt presumed life out of almost literal clay. unexpected "Gorgon stands to gain or lose as much as we do," she pointed out, audibly frowning. "Big, powerful, not invulnerable. May not have to negotiate or offer anything; could just make threat clear, make her understand what the Communion are doing. Gorgon wants to preserve; Communion is destroying. Hoping she has vested interest in stopping them."

She shook her head, tapping a finger against her leg. "Communion poses a threat to 'baby', now, too - hard to imagine they'd pass up chance to absorb beings like these. Don't want to think too much about what that'd mean. Get little enough sleep as it is."

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Sitara took a few more moments watching the swirling gases that swirled around the calm area that they were sat. One day she’d like to come and do this when the universe wasn’t in danger or a godlike being was tearing things apart.


“This is good. Keep her steady and ready just in case things go badly. I’m sure you’re more than up to the task.†she gave Ruby a reassuring pat on the shoulder “This seems a good a time as ever to see if she’ll talk to us.â€


She straightened up and adjusted her jacket.


“So the important question is who going to do all the speaking to her?â€

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"Eh. I've dealt with worse conditions." Was all Ruby said with a shrug. The bounty hunter said as she made adjustments to the navigation panel to the side as the ship started to move into position for communications to be made to the Gorgon. "Now for me, negotiations usually involve drinks, Firepower or threats to surrender. Seeing as none of that is going to work for us here,  I'm gonna sit this part out. I'll plot us an escape route just in case things fall apart and we need to be gone." With that said, the engines of the ship rumbled as they drew closer

Edited by Darksider42
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Ana shook her head vigorously. "Not me, no way; diplomacy and negotiations have never been my strong suit. Apparently I managed to negotiate one of the worst employment contracts in NASA history." She shook her head in dismay. "The cosmonauts stationed on the ISS all thought it was hilarious..."

The former astronaut took the opportunity to do a final comm check to make sure everything was working, though she made sure the cutoff switch was still engaged; she didn't want the Gorgon to be startled out of her bizzare birthing process by the sound of her saying, 'Check, check.'

Once she was conviced all was ready, she grinned anxiously and held out the headset. "So, any takers? "

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"Guess that means you; process of elimination," Dragonfly wryly noted, looking over at the Traveller. "Not exactly a diplomat, myself."

She shrugged helplessly, shaking her head. "Not a skilled speaker," she explained, with the tone one might use while apologizing for something trivial. "Spent a very long time without meaningful human contact. Sense of humor is antagonistic. Willing to talk to Gorgon if I have to - will probably have to eventually - but probably won't make a good first impression. ....good luck."

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Sitara couldn't help but smile at the others comments, and glad that they were all level headed enough to know there own limits.

But how do you talk to a God-like being?

In her long history Sitara had dealt with a few that could be considered God-like beings, including one or two actual God's. But in all those encounters she fell back on some wise words given to her by the village Priestess.

Treat them like with honour and respect but keep you wits about you for they can be capricious in nature.

Subconsciously she touched the ornate hairpin she wore, her only remaining item from that time. Then she straightened up her uniform and was all business.

"Thank you all for you confidence. If you would be so kind Doctor." She gave him a nod and waited until he indicated they we ready, then she spoke.

"O great a powerful Gorgon we humbly come before you to seek council against a common foe."

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The Gorgon's frenetic work stopped instantly - an ominous sight indeed for a creature of planet-devouring size. Debris floated in the gaseous void, core fragments larger than starships, larger than cities, before suddenly one of those gigantic snake-tentacles (as big as a continent!) whipped around with speed that must have been close to relativistic, the awesome, untapped energies of the world-Preserver making it a gesture as casual as the Traveler flicking hair out of her eyes. They were wildly buffeted by the gases disturbed by the transformation, with only Ruby's fantastic skill at the conn letting them keep even close to on-station. 


Then came the response - a floating, holographic head, the Gorgon itself cast in miniature form, projected against the observation panels the way she had once spoken to Earth by projecting her face across the Moon. A voice spoke, a clear, feminine tone with the instantly recognizable tones of the Gorgon, widely assumed to be the accent of the Preservers themselves.



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Sitara stood steady on her feet as the ship rocked about an unconcerned look on her face. Partly if was all part of an act, panicking would help right now, but after all this time alive she didn't think now was her time to go. And the Gorgon was at least acknowledging that they were there, it was a start at least.

"I don't think we need the transmission now Doctor you may turn the thing off."

She returned to the screen and gave the godlike being a respectful bow, she learned that in these situations it was best to let them do the talking first. Allow them to feel in control.

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