Uncharted Territory Draft - Meeting The Crew

Kicking my feet up onto the titanium work bench, I leaned back in the comfiest roller chair I could find in the research wing. That was no small feat, mind you. I ran my fingers through the thick, long black hair I'd come to despise for it's impracticality. Always getting caught in the fibers of my lab coat. My bangs liked to dangle right in front of my eyes most of the time.  

I tried to focus my eyes past the video I pulled up on my Augmented Reality feed. The improvements to the UI faded the image out as I changed focus. Sure enough, despite having tried to keep it all behind my head, a few strands of hair had rested directly in front of my right eye. Hard to notice when I'm watching cat videos on an AR linked directly to my vision.  

Putting my feet down with a heavy thud, a tinge of red caught my eye. Peering out the window into the void of space, small bulbs of energy refracted on the windows surface. Red, two dimensional circles of energy danced across the window like laser lights at a rave.  

"Rig, report."  

A chime came through the loud speaker, indicating the AI was creating a response.  

"Report compiled. Is there a specific area you would like to inquire about Rey?"  

Her sultry voice always got me. She sounded like a woman with a past to hide. Not sure why they made her that way, but it was strange talking to an AI that sounded like it could carry out a full conversation.  

"What's with these red lights on the windows? Ley anomaly?"  

She didn't answer right away, which was strange. Didn't she already compile the full diagnostic report?  

"Scans indicate Ley activity is increased in this sector. It is not interfering with warp travel, however I have picked up a nearby beacon that indicated we are reaching the outer ring of Pangean explored territory."  

We're leaving Pangean space? Wow, Dokk is really throwing me out there. Cause, you know, losing my family and all my friends wasn't enough. As the red lights slowly danced on the window I couldn't help but think about what's happened. Thoughts of the COM center back on station six. Li and I had taken a trip there one time, just to see how they all differed.  

It certainly was different from the gardens we had at station three. Six was notorious for being... eccentric. Art was a mainstay of their culture, so when it came to decorating their spaces they went all out. They had hung a model replica of the first warp capable Ley-Cruiser, The Event Horizon. It was actually really cool how it floated in the air near the glass dome that covered the COM center.  

"Rey? Are there any further inquiries?"  

I spaced again. Go figure. I tend to do that a lot.  

"No Rig, just let me know if there's any trouble with systems."  

An icon appeared in my vision. A new document had been sent to my AR.  

"Attached is a full report of areas that require work. Main systems are running at full capacity. Can I be of any further assistance Rey?"  

Leaning forward in the roller chair, I rolled it up to the desk terminal. It was easier to open messages with a real screen in front of me. The report she sent me was filled with minor repairs to random systems. Most of it could be taken care of with a simple tweak to Rig's self-repair protocols.  

"No, that'll do for now Rig. Thank you."  

The familiar chime through the loudspeaker told me her subroutines took her to managing the ship again. As I sifted through the report, I couldn't help but think how strange it was to have an AI as my only interaction. This ship was evacuated and all that was left was her. Seems kind of a waste to leave all of this tied up in dry dock.  

Major repairs needed on the security deck's training room. Holographic projectors lost integration to the host crystal. Red Light district lost connection to the COM grid. That's strange... Red light district? Looking out the window into space, the red lights continued to shift across the glass. Shapes of differing sizes and types, slowly crawling across the grid-like panes like amoebas.  

Ley-Lines certainly caused some strange phenomenon. I wonder if they've done any proper research on it. Guess that's more reading for me to pick up on later. Now it's time for me to find something else to occupy my time. I can't spend all day learning how to reconfigure warp coils for a crystal engine. Not that I'm really able to follow much of it anyway.  

I stretched my arms and arched my back, letting my hair fall behind me. The ceiling was plain. White steel. The smell of polished metal and somehow grease had been a friend for a while. That's basically what Yuri smelled like every day. Greased up riding his platform around. I remember one time I had...  

Yuri isn't here. I know this. It's been months since all of that happened. Yet I can't get what happened out of my head. They're all just gone. I know now it doesn't do me much good to dwell on it. Dokk had made it clear that life wasn't going to be easy moving forward.  

Still... Being out here, alone. It takes it's toll on a girl. I suppose I should find something to distract myself... I'm told working out is a good distraction. Pulling up a list of civilian utilities was all I needed. There were facilities for just about every kind of passion on this ship. Even if there wasn't, it's possible they just used holo-rooms to facilitate whatever they didn't have.  

Sure enough, near the Recreational district was the health facilities. Oh hello there, what's this? There is a wing that says it's locked. Security Personnel Training Facility. An entire training facility for security? What does it have that the civilian facility doesn't? Nothing I would need I imagine. No matter, it's simply a twenty minute walk from the research wing.  

Would be faster if Rig would unlock use of the security carts. Although it's not like I have anything but time right now. Willing my legs to take on my weight again, they did so with little protest. Hopefully soon they'll be protesting loud enough to make me forget what I lost.  

#####  

A heavy warm mist lingered in the locker room where I decided to take a shower. The smell of eucalyptus reminded me of Li's gardens. Every noise made a lonely echo in the room lined with tile. My locker shutting as I threw my lab coat back on over my leggings and tank top. The COM station near the exit beeped with confirmation of a bottle of water I requested. It made the whole room sound so empty.  

Loudspeakers turned on and a gentlemanly voice began reading an automated message.  

"Please remember to check in at the counter before using the facilities. Lintnell enterprises is happy to accommodate every need. Help us to help you. If you have-"  

I've already heard this spiel. Opening the door from the locker room, I exited into the reception area proper. It opened up into a three story room lined with digital screens that flashed between motivational posters and upcoming class schedules. I don't know who honestly becomes motivated simply by a lion roaring and a cheesy You can do it! kind of line.  

You know what always motivates me? Queso dip. Maybe put a steak on there with the line Now it's just getting your protein in. Yeah. Well, I suppose if I get bored later I can make my own motivational posters.  

"Do you require direction, ma'am?"  

To my left was the reception counter. A well toned guy with short blond hair stood behind the counter looking cheery at me. He seemed familiar in a way. How, I couldn't be sure. I had to remind myself he was just an AI used to automate questions about the gym area.  

"No, I know where I'm going. Thank you."  

His smile faded slightly as he nodded and looked down at the terminal in front of him. Easy enough response I guess. Opening my bottle of water, I took a drink and began to walk out past the small trees that were planted near either side of the automatic door. Cool air blasted in as it opened up and the pressures evened out. Directly outside the door was visible space through the glass windows.  

Red circles danced across a much bigger canvas. Streaks of light passed by beyond the red with black filling the rest of space. Ley-anomalys varied, I know that. But this is something strange I've never seen before. It doesn't seem to be hurting anything. I stood for a moment and realized my legs were definitely screaming at me. Wherever I was going to go, I should head there quickly.  

Stretching my right leg, I rubbed the back part of my thigh where it was feeling sore. Running for an hour straight will do that I suppose. The corridor smelled like coffee and pastries. What in space is creating that heavenly smell? I thought it would be good to pull up a map on my AR to see what information I could find. Sure enough  

Nearby was a small cafe. They're just starting to open too it looks like. Only 6 am? It looks like I picked a good time to come to the gym. I guess I haven't been on much of a schedule. Just kinda when I get tired, which isn't often. Ok, this cafe is about a kilometer towards aft from here. Not bad.  

Strawberry overwhelmed my sense of smell. Screens flickered with advertisements on the walls. One caught my eye in particular, and that was for self-defense classes in the security wing. A moving ad of the guy from the gym counter, but wearing full tactical gear and displaying his knowledge in random b-roll fashion. At one point there was even the patented throw your attacker over your shoulder defense. Classic.  

I swear that guy looks familiar. This is gonna bother me until I figure it out. Before I knew it I had reached the tiny cafe. Jackie's Nook. How adorable. I will judge thee only upon the availability of real pumpkin spice o' robot cafe. It was a strange dynamic sometimes living with COM stations.  

You could pre-program a world famous dish into it, and it could replicate it down to the exact number of flakes of oregano if you wanted to. Still, it didn't quite taste the same after being reconstructed. It was filling and tasty, for sure. But it lacked a strange tangibility.  

"Excuse me, Ma'am? Would you like a table?"  

Snapping out of my day dream, I realized I had been approached by a rather young girl in a blue dress and apron. Her long brunette hair was tied up in a pony-tail. It accentuated her young complexion. I also can't help but notice her breasts are quite large. They really went for a class act here.  

Strange though, she looks oddly familiar as well. Her face reminds me of... Lionel?  

"Ma'am? Are you ok? Do you need a moment?"  

Yet again I had to snap out of my own mind. I must have just been staring at her. Awkward.  

"No... Sorry, you just look familiar."  

Her face brightened up instantly, with a huge smile ready to emerge. Yet it didn't.  

"Would you like to get something to eat? We have fresh made scones! Not even from COM ingredients, we have a garden on deck E and a protein synthesizer that my brother has learned to work wonders with!"  

She giggled and sounded so happy just to say it. A wide smile slipped through as she mentioned her brother. Whoever programmed these AI was a strange person. Maybe their personality subroutines are damaged. Either way, if it's not even COM food I suppose it's worth a try.  

The door was propped open behind her. Raspberry and vanilla filled my nostrils again and a vague hint of nutmeg mixed in with a strong coffee. Whatever this place is, it smells wonderful.  

"Sure, I'll stop in for breakfast."  

I wasn't really sure how to react. She was an AI, obviously. Yet her smile grew even wider as she hopped a little in place and turned on her heel towards the door.  

"Come in! Please!"  

As she walked in she clicked on the open sign, and she shouted towards the back.  

"Li you won't believe it! Someone's here!"  

Li?! My heart sank as I walked up to the door. A hole opened in my stomach and suddenly I didn't feel so hungry. From behind an open doorway a teenager walked through. The smile on his face made my eyes start watering. White hair. Blue eyes(verify color). A jaw line that was unmistakable.  

"Welcome! Please! I just finished making a pumpkin puree. I can't decide whether I want to make syrup or a pie out of this week's harvest though. Is there something you'd... prefer? Ma'am?"  

Tears started streaming down my eyes. Here I was, on a ship thousands of light years away from station 3. Everything was taken from me. Including a younger AI version of one of the only men that ever even showed a vague interest in me. At this moment I knew why the gym clerk and this Jackie girl looked familiar. They were all part of the Lintnell family.  

"Ma'am? Are you ok?"  

The look on his face was genuine concern. For a moment I stood and stared at him. I didn't meet Lionel until his early twenties. When he requested his post on Station 3. This version didn't even know who I was. I don't think I can handle that right now.  

"I'm sorry... I can't... I'll be back!"  

I turned from the door and ran as fast as I could towards aft. I had no idea where I was going. Anywhere but there. 

Uncharted Territory - Companion AI

Lights filled my eyes as smells of fried foods and coffee filled my nostrils. Cold white steel walls from the maintenance corridor led me to this jumbled mess of consumerism. The ceiling was massive, reaching nearly fifty stories with huge crystal clear tempered window that revealed the universe behind. Streaks of light flew past as everything on the ship traveled through warped space and time. Windows to space always reminded me how small I am. It was nice sometimes. Scary other times.

Space was wonderful, sure. This man made oasis of pleasure which could move throughout the entirety of space was certainly a wonder in itself. Loud music blared from inside of a bar which I was now in the alley behind. Stacked logs that had been cleaned of bark, roughly sanded, and even varnished created a two story log cabin looking restaurant. A dumpster sat in back, though it looked immaculately clean. Chances are good it's just for show. Most garbage was simply deconstructed digitally and stored as energy in the COM network.

Loud shouting resonated beyond the door, followed by more loud chatter. A break in the song revealed a hint of the conversation.

“... really uncalled for man. Why are you always st-”

Another song started up, this one more upbeat than the last. Guitar drowned out the conversation. Who could possibly be talking? I thought this ship was abandoned? Fear tickled my heart. I don't know what to do. I don't have any reason to think they would be hostile if there were stow aways. My head grew light and I tried to regain my composure. Deja Vu set in. That told me something was up. An icon that resembled a woman with a crown of laurel in her tied up hair appeared on my AR.

“Rey? What are you doing in the COM sector?”

I heard her as if she were right next to me.

“I don't know. I was just exploring the maintenance tunnels when I ended up out here. Are there people on board Rig? I hear talking in this bar.”

Silence for a moment. That didn't sit well with me.

“Scans show there are no life forms besides yourself on board. The COM center is however equipped with companion AI. They are solid holograms that you check out from certain... establishments.”

Wait, what?

“Like escorts?”

I know it sounds crazy, but I swear I saw Rig's icon roll it's eyes.

“Yes, like escorts. They are not simply for sexual use however. They are also for psychological health purposes for crew who live and work on the ship for years at a time. Would you like me to forward you information on Companion AI?”

That's a thing? I guess I never thought about it.

“Uh, sure Rig. I've got plenty of time to kill.”

Stepping forward, I began to debate whether I should even venture further into the COM sector. I feel like this companion AI business could get tricky. Just as I decided to turn back and head to the security office the door to the restaurant opened. A rather fetching guy stepped out and grabbed a cigarette out of his pocket. He looked right at me as he began to light up the cigarette. I smiled awkwardly and waved. His mouth opened in a wide excited smile as he frantically opened the door back up and shouted as loud as he could.

Someone's on board! Holy crap guys someone's here!”

Uncharted Territory - Rigging The Ship

Cup of coffee in hand, I managed to tap out a few command lines while I took a sip. Over the last forty-eight hours I've slept maybe two. Dokk left me on this ship. Told me to get it running. We're both lucky I'm smart because this whole job has been a bitch. It took me long enough just to open up the commerce grid in the ship.

 

[Command Line=/subroutine.ai.rig.exe//]

 

It seems too simple. After all my hours of work, this was the magic line that made everything work. Apparently the ship's on board AI, Rig, had a base subroutine that could be manipulated to maintain the ship in cases of emergency. Why it wasn't already in play in the ship's command functions, I can't really say.

“Functions to all Ley-Reactors have been rerouted to my crystal matrix. All further functions will be calculated and reinforced by the current subroutine. Are there any questions before implementing this protocol, Rey?”

I had to think about that for a moment. Sure there were questions. Would any of them help? Probably not.

“No, I guess not Rig. Please execute.”

Taking another sip of my coffee, I pulled my left leg up onto my right and leaned back in the swivel chair. I had found the engineering bay, where there were more cubicles than complicated chambers. Automation of ships have come a long way.

A chime came through the speaker in the small sterile looking office. A picture frame sat next to the computer, with a dog standing in front of a tree. Someone used to work in this office. I wonder why they kept it so barren?

Lights flickered on and off, and the terminal I was working on reset. Thankfully it wasn't tied to my augmented reality. It was of minimal use anyway until I could integrate it with some of the ship's systems. This took priority.

Dokk told me about what the Pangean military would do if they found the vessel after it had been quarantined to sub orbit above this hell hole. It didn't sound fun.

Forming A System - Blessing of Frau Holle

What in the hell is going on? Grabbing my head, I couldn't help but feel like it wanted me to suffer. A terrible migraine formed from something, but I couldn't quite tell what. Did I go drinking last night? "Rey, are you awake?" Rig's voice rang like it was screamed directly into my ear. Something awful must have happened while I was asleep. "Yeah. Why is it so... hurty in here?" A chime came through the intercom, followed by the sound of a med drone being constructed at a nearby crystal.

"I'm sending a med bot to you now. Are you ok? How are you feeling?" Good god it's so loud! Can we... make this stop now? The medical drone rolled to me on it's weird creepy gyro and human torso. Designed flawlessly, don't get me wrong. In terms of functionality they're great. Doesn't mean they're not creepy looking and it's not fun watching one speed towards you in the docking bay. Wait, the docking bay? What am I doing here?

"We need to get you to the triage so we can scan you. I know there's a lot to take in but I'll explain everything on the way. Can you walk?" Standing up, I could barely balance properly. An image flashed in my mind of a forest filled with massive redwood trees. All around me was nothing but snow and pine needles. Air moved slowly between the trees as if the forest itself was breathing. "Rey! There you went again! What's going on?" My eyes had to adjust to the light. It's almost like I had actually been out in the forest.

A chill swept over me, sending shivers down my spine. Somehow the reverie made my migraine feel better. "I... don't know at all. There's-" Snow blasted my face so hard I could barely breathe. Covering my arms was all I could do to keep warm in my sweats and a tank top. I really wish I knew what was happening. Standing in the cold shivering, this reverie lasted much longer.

It felt like ages standing there in the cold. Looking around proved worthless, considering I couldn't even see a few feet in front of me. Through the sound of blaring wind, I heard footsteps. They obviously weren't mine, because my body was so cold it locked up and wouldn't move. My hair felt like it was going to freeze off. "Rey! There you are! What do you see?"  I would respond, but I'm so cold I'm still locked up.

Just as quickly as it returned, reality left me. This time, to a much more pleasant light snowfall. On the trees glistened small bugs that shone red with bio luminescence. "Tis a wonderful sight, is it not?" A woman's voice? It feels so calming and warm. To my right a woman approached covered in brown bear furs. She must have been a whole foot taller than me, and strong considering how bulky her body seemed to be.

"Uh, I guess. Maybe I'd appreciate it more if I hadn't been forced here at random moments without having any idea what's going on." The girl giggled spryly, and gave a smile. Pulling her hood down, I could see her fiery red hair braided behind her neck. "Welcome, sister. I do apologize for my method of bringing you here. I know it's a lot to take in, but I would suggest starting with the conduit flies. Though it is best to look, and not touch." 

My god she's pretty. Something about her was so comforting. Although now that I look at them, those bugs do have an alluring charm to them. I'll have to try not to touch one. For some reason I really want to, but I'll listen. I hope. "Yeah, they're... charming. As for you, I'm curious as to what it is you want with me." She looked at me with a smile, which melted my heart by the way. I can't explain why. It still did. This is weird. 

"It's not what I want with you, so much as what I want for you. I bring you here, to impart upon you a gift. It is a guide of sorts. A way to help you learn and appreciate what it is that you are. I'm here to give you direction, and provide for you a purpose with which to chase. Whether or not you choose to is entirely up to you. However, I can promise you this path will unlock for you a level of freedom that not many in existence see."

Existence? That's a bit of a strong word. I guess I must be cosmically important because all this random cosmically important garbage keeps happening. Rubbing my face, I grunted in frustration. "Like... really? Ok, well it can't be any weirder than the whole thing with Dokk." She cocked her head a moment, looking puzzled. "Dokk?" I can't quite understand what she's puzzled about. She doesn't seem to be uncomfortable with that name.

"Yeah, he's this... thing that basically ruined my life. Killed everyone important to me then told me to have a nice life. Oh, and I know about as much about him as I do potato salad. And by that I mean that it exists and I don't like it very much." She giggled as I brushed off the snow from me. Somehow I wasn't cold anymore. Maybe she turned off the cold in whatever ridiculous magical sideshow this is.

"Well, I'll try to make it easier on you then. I'm here to give you a gift. Here." Waving her hand by her leg, she manifested something from her inventory modifier. A small red orb hovered in her hand as she extended it towards me. "Go ahead, take it." Extending my hand, I tried to grab the orb but it passed right through. Figures. "Oh goody, just what I wanted for Christmas." She chuckled and reached to grab my hand.

"Close enough. Although I generally tend to leave my gift giving to my sisters. That is why I'm here actually!" As she grabbed my hand, the orb sank into it. Something felt strange in my head, and a tingling sensation ran through my whole body. Suddenly, a small red crystal appeared in my vision. I hadn't noticed, but my augmented reality interface hadn't been on. Looks like it is now. Where's the vomiting though? "Uh, ok? This doesn't look like my UI."

It really doesn't. Mainly because there's nothing to it. A message icon popped up, and immediately opened. I watched as it automatically pulled up a file named [UI(Old)] and opened it. It loaded a pack and everything cleared in my vision quickly, then reloaded to my comfortable green DOS feel. I loved it old school. "So, you're in my AR now? Impressive. What exactly is this gift then?" 

She let go of my hand and I felt a little disappointed for a moment. This chick has gotta be using some kind of spell here. "It's the gift of knowledge. Of direction. While you may not understand your path now, there is beauty in the road you walk. Your life is entirely up to you. There is no one to tell you no. To influence your decisions in any way. There are many who would die to live this kind of life. I just wanted to make sure you were well equipped to live that life without fear. Entirely by choice."

Yeah, no matter what in life there's always outside influences. "Choice? Oh, just what I needed. More choices of what to do when I honestly didn't have any idea what direction to go in the first place. So thanks, I guess, for whatever it is you did." She didn't like my tone very much, or what I said apparently. "I understand you struggle with this, but allow me to offer some perspective."

Waving her hand, we were now inside of one of the simulation decks. Pulling her fur hood back up, she waved her hand again and a simulation ran again. "In front of you lies three doors. You do not know where each door leads, but you have a choice. One door is made of gold." A door digitally constructed through the simulation, made entirely of polished gold. "One is made of Wood." Another door appeared, crafted from gnarled wood and iron. 

"And the last is made of steel." The final door constructed, though it was two stories tall and looked like the door was made to seal in something massive. "If you were given the choice of one door, and one door alone, which would it be?" She walked around the doors slowly with her hood covering her face. I'm not really sure. I guess I don't really care. Man this kinda existential crap pisses me off. "Do I have to go in one of them? What if I don't care enough to?" The woman stopped for a moment, and looked up at me.

She looked like she was confused, but part of me felt like she knew that would be my answer. Using my AR, I pulled up the UI for the simulation and linked with it by just thinking about it. I told it to construct a lazy boy recliner right behind me, and I heard it digitally construct. Looking back at it, I plopped down with my full weight on it. Kicking the recliner up, I crossed my arms behind my head. "What if I want to sit and wait for one of them to open?" This thinky stuff agitates me so much.

As I finished the thought, the steel door opened by itself. On the other side, I could hear explosions and gunfire. The smell of smoke and burnt flesh stung my nostrils. I don't like this, so I'll shut it again. It did with a lot of force. "What if I don't want it to open?" A moment passed and the girl walked next to the wooden door, opening it herself.

On the other side lay a forest, the scent of birch and flowers blowing through the opening. Birds sang and frogs chirped. I willed the door shut and it slammed so hard it splintered the wood. She began walking over to the golden door, but before she did I willed it gone. "Oh, honey. Money don't mean jack to me. That one isn't even worth opening." 

In my mind I pulled up another door, a plain wooden bedroom door. She looked at it, and then at me. I knew what was on the other side of it. I just didn't know that was what was important to me. Opening it, she peeked in curiously. The sound of people laughing, smells of food that had excited me since I was a kid. A bright rainbow of light found it's way around her head. It didn't take long for her to look into and pull back out. "I'm... sorry." 

Yeah. Me too. I always have to ruin these things. Guess I have a hard time accepting what few outside influences there are in my life. "No, I'm sorry. You came here with a purpose and I... made fun of it and brushed it aside. I guess I'm just tired of this life of no direction. I just always thought life would take me wherever and I wouldn't have to think about it too much. Now, all I have is time to think. I know you came here with a gift, but just know that the only thing I want in life, I can't have. And that's my old life back."

My eyes started welling up a bit. I'm not good with emotions. "Knowing that my family was just a two day shuttle away. It may take a while to get there, but at least they existed and were within reach. You come here on one of the hardest days of the year because it used to be a celebration of family. Whatever gifts that could possibly be given to me could never replace the people that I lost. That's all I want. Is time with them again. Can you give me that?" 

She looked saddened, and her own eyes were glossed over. Obviously she understood my pain. Giving me a smile, tears started falling down her face slowly. She walked over to me and hugged me tightly, and I couldn't help but hug her back. It felt like family. Even if that was just my brain's way of getting it when I couldn't have it, I'll take that feeling even if for a moment. "You have family. You just haven't met them yet. I promise."

Her furs felt strange against my bare arms, and she smelled like pine. Backing away, she lifted out her hand again, and a small red orb appeared. This time it shifted and took the shape of a small memory card. "Here. Plant this seed, and you will regain that which is lost to you. There may be one yet in your family whom you can save." I reached for the card, and felt it up link to my AR. Nothing happened.

"What do I do with it?" She smiled at me and pulled her hood back over her head. "You do nothing. It is not for you directly. All you need to know is that it will help you recollect one that is close to you." I felt the tug of reality changing. She was gearing up to leave. "Before you go. Who are you?"

A rift as black as empty space opened behind her. "I've lived the lives of many, and seen them all through the Ley-Lines. It was nice to meet you Rey. I hope to see you again soon." She disappeared inside the rift, and I felt her presence leave. I went to take a step, and my foot bumped into something. A gift wrapped elegantly in Christmas colors sat on the floor in front of me. Picking it up, I inspected it.

Not too terribly heavy. There's a card on it. It reads:

Rey - You are not alone. While there are many gifts to be given, it seems like the biggest gift I could give you is the gift of direction. Inside this package lies a reminder. A reminder to continue to seek knowledge. To seek a life for yourself. Whatever you choose it to be.

- Frau Holle

Frau Holle? Whatever, I'll look it up later. Opening the gift, I tore it apart. Who cares about the wrapping? As the wrapping fell and a box remained, I tried to ignore all the possibilities of what could be inside going through my head. Yet as I opened it, I realized it wasn't anything I had expected. It was a picture frame, with a photo in it.

It was simply a picture of Lionel and I, smiling at the COM station and talking over coffee. 

Forming A System - Ydlrgrad

"Where is this place Dokk? I've never seen such purposeful structures." Such symmetrical lines used in the mud bricks. The placement of the crystals seem almost... Strategic. Half-Sphere shaped buildings are definitely not a characteristic of Pangean structures. Not to mention, each building appears to have some kind of connection directly to the planet. 

One has vines growing across the top of it, but not over the small ornate windows. This particular one appears to have tree roots growing through the mud bricks. Does it go into the inside of the house as well? "This is Yldrgrad! Isn't it cool? There is a lot to be learned here before I meet with the person I want to see." I'm still not used to this yet. Dokk seems to be nice enough, but I can't quite understand it's motives. 

The Pagan clans have never been one to be friendly towards Pangeans, especially officials. So whomever he is looking for will most likely cause us a lot more trouble than I think Dokk realizes. "Who exactly do you want to see? Pagans don't take very well to Pangeans." Running my hand over the brick, it felt a lot sturdier than mud brick should feel. I manifested a steel spanner from my inventory modifier and tapped the brick with it.

Not even a scratch or dent. There is definitely ley-manipulation in these structures. "That seems to be the case most of the time. But as you know well, not all hold grudges for past ordeals. In fact, the one I'm looking for is a Justiciary himself! His name is Hurst, and he is one of three triplets that were born of this tribe. So, it's only natural that I should seek to understand his culture before meeting him."

Dokk looked intently at the structures. He seems to be noting things about their layout outside, and how they connect with the oak trees growing around them. Strange, that oak would grow here. Someone must have migrated saplings in order to populate the planet. What kind of effect did that have on the eco-system I wonder? "If he's a Justiciary then shouldn't you know where he is?" This doesn't make much sense. What is he looking for? Just some talking points for when he meets this person? Seems a bit excessive to me...

"I never said I don't." Good point. Still, I don't know what this is helping. "So what do you hope to gain from being here?" This thing certainly is interesting if nothing else. Opening the slanted door to the home, he stepped inside before answering me. I could hear him starting to talk, but I couldn't understand what he was saying. I had to walk a few paces over and step inside the home with vines lining it.

"That's why." The inside was a lot more spacious than I thought. Stairs led down, which indicated that they actually dug their homes into the ground rather than built above it. That must have required a lot more work, and left the only sunlight entering from the windows in the ceiling. Although the crystals inside provided ample lighting.

I'm not sure why this surprised me, but the inside was decorated. The walls were lined with a light yellow colored wall painted over a smooth surface, and there were crystals and paintings lining the walls. There were doors that led into other rooms, which no doubt led down even farther considering the spacial restrictions. It certainly makes a lot more sense as to the way the homes were set up outside. "Rey?"

I spaced again. "Ah, yes. Sorry, I missed what you said. What are you looking for here?" Dokk sighed looking at me. Oh come on you can't blame me for being curious! "Because I'm curious! I would like to know more about his culture! It's truly fascinating the way it differs from Pangean culture which relies so heavily on technology." Oh. Well, aren't I just a regular ass? "I guess that makes sense... Maybe a better question would be why is this Hurst a person of interest for you?" 

His smile was a little off-putting for some reason. Maybe it was because it was Douglas' smile, but I knew it wasn't him. It also didn't help that he was still dressed as a Justiciary. He was looking through a small end-table, and found a slip of paper. I wonder what was on it? I guess I could go over and take a look. "He is interesting because of this." Holding up the piece of paper, Dokk grinned like a fool.

The paper was actually a picture on what appeared to be papyrus. How they managed the kind of detail on papyrus that you would find on a film paper is beyond me. The picture was of three children, one boy, and two girls. They couldn't have been more than twelve years old. All three of them had traditional pagan ritual robes on, no doubt signifying their coming of age ceremony. All three had red hair, but the girl with a wide grin on her face had a light red with freckles across her face.

She definitely seemed different than the other two, even if the differences were minimal. "This is who I'm looking for. The boy in that picture is Hurst. Brother of two sisters, Lydia and Yaria." The boy looked serious, with an obvious fake smile on his face. The other girl was smiling in a sweet manner, but obviously fake as well. Well, I guess that's interesting information. Only one of them was innocent somehow. 

"Which one is she? She looks interesting." Dokk looked at the picture again, and lost his smile. "That's Lydia I think. What little I do know of this family, she was an interesting one too, but Hurst definitely has a lot more to offer me."