Aries: you’re feisty and confident and loud but also ridiculously naive and quite childish. your smile is blinding and you’re fiercely protective of your friends and would go to the ends of the world for their sake. i like you. although i wish you’d learn to read situations and be more tactful, i admire your sincerity and honesty. you’re refreshingly genuine.
Taurus: you’re so hard on yourself, it’s as if you’ve put a boulder on your chest and refuse to take it off. you don’t need to handle all this pressure, but you put in on yourself anyway, and are incredibly stubborn about it. it’s okay to relax and enjoy yourself. being alive is not a punishment. you’re so much happier when unrestricted by worries; know that you don’t need to handle everything alone.
Gemini: you’re intelligent and very talkative with those whose company you enjoy. you want someone who’ll click and can engage you in conversation, whether intellectual or random. you’re so used to changing yourself to suit other people’s tastes that you aren’t sure how to be yourself anymore; to you, all of those personalities somehow seemed like genuine sides of yourself.
Cancer: you’re always so friendly and welcoming and kind with everyone, but at the same time, you always felt very distant to me. part of me feels like i wrongfully infringed on your personal space by trying to get closer, even though that’s not the case. from time to time i feel like i can see glimpses of your true feelings, but it always disappears back into a facade just as i notice.
Leo: you’re kind and helpful– and cheerful, to some extent. you really like attention. some of you are lowkey about it and some of you have zero subtlety about it, but regardless, you want to be recognized for your hard work and efforts. you feel overshadowed by people who are better than you and want to improve yourself, but may feel lost sometimes as to how to get there.
Virgo: you’re so stubborn, hardworking, and determined; i’m not sure if it’s frightening or annoying. it’s also a huge pain in the neck to argue with you because you firmly believe that your views are The Right Ones and completely disregard any arguments against it. you’re organized and neat and intelligent. i understand your feelings to some level, but i wish you were more open-minded.
Libra: you’re not a bad person, but you’re not exactly morally upstanding, either. and that comes from your ability to see situations from all sides. it’s a bit infuriating trying to ask your opinion on things because of this; you see and understand all views and end up confused and unable to decide. you’re good with people but tend to hold most of them at a distance to avoid getting hurt.
Scorpio: you have a wild sense of humor and are rather sarcastic, but it’s mostly there to cover up your insecurities and feelings. you’re passionate but try to keep it subdued (and it works quite well, if i’m honest). it’s alright to have feelings. i don’t know exactly who hurt you in the past, but you don’t need to hide your emotions behind a quirky persona. it’s okay to let it out and just be.
Sagittarius: you’re very sarcastic and funny and sometimes just plain mean on the outside, but you’re so sweet and gentle and kind on the inside; the contrast always makes me melt a little. you’re quite intelligent and try to see the bright side even if it’s hard. you don’t like sharing personal information or revealing how you feel easily. you genuinely care for your friends and want to help them.
Capricorn: i worry about you. you’re hardworking and diligent but somehow lazy at the same time. you’re also hard on yourself and have deep insecurities and strong feelings about things that you hide rather than open up about. you’re bitingly sarcastic and i love your sense of humor. you’re also incredibly kind to others, which can hurt you when others don’t show you the same kindness.
Aquarius: flighty. you’re kind and compassionate on the outside but hold a deeply-rooted bitterness within you. i dislike how you always blame everyone but yourself for your own problems, especially when they could be easily resolved if you simply lightened up a bit. part of me wonders if you care more about global and societal issues because you don’t know how to deal with the personal ones.
Pisces: you’re passionate and emotionally fragile, though experience has taught you to hide it behind walls. when you love, it’s with full force and zero inhibitions; that’s why you get hurt so easily. you’re not easy to understand and people have ostracized you because they misinterpret your words or actions. i feel sorry for you, but at the same time i know that misguided pity is the last thing you want.
shoutout to people who cant/wont turn in their abusers because
they dont have proof of abuse
abusers were upstanding members of society
their abuse was legal
no one believes them
their abusers are old, dead, disabled, ill, or on their deathbed
their abusers are family members
they cant remember details of abuse
they didnt uncover abuse until later in life
they were abused by organizations
they dont know the names of thier abusers
theyve been threatened into staying quiet
they arent mentally stable enough to endure the investigation
and whatever other reason. people dont have to turn in their abusers for their abuse to be legitimate. so many of us cant prove what happened to us and are only left with the disorders that came with the horror we dealt with growing up.
it makes me sad that im seeing so many trauma survivors feel that they have to justify not taking abusers to court. some of us cant, some of us shouldnt, and some of us wont. please respect all survivors regardless of how they approach legal justice over abuse.
I walked into the room, avoiding direct eye contact with the alien waiting for me. Its huge eyes just looked like a jet black sclera set in a sack of vaguely damp, wrinkled gray leather. If eyes are a window into the soul, this creepy little guy would give satan a run for his money. They just put me on edge, somehow. I’d have to make eye contact anyway, but it could wait.
I strode up to the meeting table, pulled out the chair, and sat down. I shuffled around in my bag for a moment before pulling out a small piece of tech, which I set on the table in front of me.
“Before we begin, I want to be sure of a few things. This device you’ve provided us with, it is 100% effective at understanding and translating languages, correct?”
The alien across from me nodded. It’s a nice little allowance they’ve made for comfort, learning our body language, but its bulbous head threw the whole gesture off. It made me think of one of those old inflatable toys with a weight on the bottom, that would lean too far to the side before bouncing straight back up. Woobles or something. It didn’t really matter.
“Nearly. We occasionally find a race with one or two concepts that it has trouble with, but that’s easily smoothed over.”
I took a deep breath, and waited a moment to compose myself. This whole thing was going to be more trying than not interrupting old man Higgins up the street while he went on about whatever racist sentiment was in his head at the moment.
“One or two…okay. That’s odd.”
The alien blinked. Eyelids came in from not just the top and bottom, but also the sides. That’s just plain creepy. Reminds me of one of those really old movies they threw on the media blacklist pretty much as soon as first contact started. Something in black. Whatever it was, I remember seeing it as a kid, and that guy at the beginning had nothing on this alien’s eyes.
“Have you already found something it can’t translate?”
I nodded, then pulled out my communicator and scrolled through a few documents. I really needed to clean this thing out. Can’t believe I didn’t get around to it before coming to such an important meeting. Imagine the debacle that would result if I opened exactly the wrong thing. Never can know what that might be, honestly.
“Of a sort, yes. Mind humoring me for a few minutes?”
The alien steepled its hands together, and leaned forward. That’s just plain creepy. I wonder how they learned such context specific body language? Not that it really matters, I guess. Not my problem.
“Certainly. After all, it can take years to accept a race into the Federation.”
Nodding again, I pulled up a document on my communicator, then leaned back in my chair as I began. This was going to be more interesting than that time your classmate Jimmy found some old matches somewhere and almost burned the school down by mistake.
“Excellent. This shouldn’t take much time. I mentioned that we found some issues with your device. Allow me to demonstrate: Espionage.”
The little device on the table beeped, and a red light flashed.
“ERROR: NO ANALOGUE FOUND”
I sighed. That one had been an accident. We just had the thing sitting in a conference room while we discussed the implications of the visit when it came up. But, when something that simple for us to understand came up, we had to try for more.
Again, a beep and a flash of red.
“ERROR: NO ANALOGUE FOUND”
And again with the beep. This was going to get irritating if I didn’t speed things up a bit. Too bad we hadn’t managed to find a mute option for that feature.
The device gave off a series of distressed beeps, punctuated by rapid blinking of the little red light. I almost felt sorry for it. Almost.
“TOO MANY ERRORS DETECTED. REBOOTING. RUNNING SELF DIAGNOSTIC. NO DISCREPANCIES FOUND,”
I paused, and glanced across the table at the alien before looking back down at the translator. This was going to hit it harder than a washed up holovid actor with no auditions and less money hits rock bottom.
The chair across from me clattered to the ground as the alien practically fell out of its seat. I don’t blame the poor thing. Of all the aggressive, militaristic words we tried, that was one of the ones we least expected to translate. I mean, really. Who has a word for the intentional extermination of an entire sapient species when they don’t even understand fundamental hostile international mechanics like spying?
“Why do you have a word for…what was all that just now?”
I chuckled a bit while motioning for the alien to sit back down. His reaction had been pretty good, perfectly suitable for one of those hammed-up old dramas where the hero realizes they’ve been working with the villain all along.
“We were confused about that too. So we took a look at the information you sent as part of first contact with us. We noticed something interesting. Every single race in your Federation is carnivorous. Why is that?”
The alien seemed smaller somehow as it settled back into a seat. It looked kind of like a balloon slowly losing air, if that balloon was made of moldering gray leather with eyes that made your spinal column decide it wanted a holiday in Fiji.
“First contact has always been made after sapient races make it to multiple worlds. We’ve never found a sapient herbivorous race which failed to destroy themselves in resource wars and aggressive action. We’ve never found herbivores capable of surviving long enough to leave their own world.”
I leaned forward in the chair and smiled while finally making direct eye contact with the alien. I think the poor thing shivered when I did that. Not that I blame it. Imagine your reaction when you start to put the pieces together and realize that your friendly, upstanding next door neighbor might be the world’s most wanted criminal.
“And the races you have found, while commonly using threat displays, do not waste resources on wars they cannot easily win, correct?”
The alien nodded as it slouched a bit in its chair. It looked kind of like it was trying to hide. Who wouldn’t want to hide from the monsters in their closet?
“Wasted resources means decreased likelihood of survival.”
I shrugged. That was true enough, though rather coldly logical. Dispassionate logic like that has never been our strong suit. Then again, that’s why I’m in this situation in the first place, so it evens out.
“And yet herbivores constantly waste resources on aggression, on movement, on having more young than will possibly survive.”
The alien was staring at me. I’m not sure when the last time it blinked was. I wonder if those eyes need some kind of lubrication to keep from drying out. Probably, they looked a bit less creepy than they should’ve. Looked like they were losing their shine.
“And they die for it. That’s exactly why we’ve never encountered spacefaring herbivores. Their inherent aggression is their own demise.”
I held eye contact. I’d almost swear the alien was a weird statue right now. Don’t know who would commission a statue made of old greasy leather, but I’m sure there’s someone with too much money and too little sense who would give it a shot.
“Indeed. Now, back to the subject at hand. I’ll ask you before we continue: what can you offer humans for joining your Federation?”
The alien sputtered as it started moving again. I’d swear it looked offended. Maybe it doesn’t see where this is going. Not that it really matters, I guess. I mean, it probably matters about as much as posting a formal complaint to a new corporate policy, which is to say not at all.
“We’ve already sent the offer. You’ve seen that, I’m sure.”
I nodded, and began to tap out a staccato rhythm on the table with my fingers. I never could remember where I learned this stupid tune. I’ve known it as long as I can remember, and it just moves into my head on occasion and sticks around like that one couchsurfing friend who doesn’t understand the idea of wearing out their welcome.
“And I’m asking, what else do you have to offer?”
The alien just shook its head again, staring at the device. I wonder if it thought we might’ve tampered with it. As if we knew how. That little thing is way beyond our current abilities. We had some scientists pry it open and look inside, just to be sure.
“Nothing. I’m not sure why you’re-”
I raised my hand, cutting him off. Huh. Not sure why that worked. Did they learn that much of our body language? That’s still really creepy, if it’s the case. Or, maybe I just have it on edge. I dunno. I guess it doesn’t matter.
“May I have permission to connect my datapad with my ship’s computers?”
The alien glanced away from me for a moment. I assume it was checking in with superiors somehow. Maybe it was psychic, to an extent. Or maybe they just had an implant of some sort. We’ll find out eventually, I’m sure.
“Yes, if you like.”
I sighed. I guess that makes things easier for us. I don’t think anyone was going to like what I was about to do. This whole thing felt kind of like one of those holovids of an accident, where you know what’s coming and don’t want to keep going, but for some reason you just can’t seem to stop and pull yourself away.
“Computer, show video: Hiroshima”
A screen appeared in the air above my datapad. It started playing back an old, grainy video. Shaky, taken by hand in an aircraft in a firefight. Below, you can barely see a city being blotted out by a massive explosion. A cloud of smoke, fire and debris was rapidly climbing into the sky, billowing, growing, blooming into an eerie and easily recognized mushroom cloud.
“That’s…you’re using weapons of that scale on a population center? How recent was this?”
I shrugged, and closed the video. The screen on my datapad went back to the document I had up earlier. Gotta love how well they managed to predict this whole thing. I made a mental note to recommend a raise for whoever set up that document for me.
“Three centuries ago. Prior to our invention of spaceflight. Part of a much larger conflict. This is a relatively minor example of “overwhelming force”“
“ERROR: NO A-”
“Shut it. Computer, show infosheet: Battle of Stalingrad.”
A series of graphs and diagrams appeared above my datapad. They showed resources, time, maps, battle plans, and death tolls. Images were interspersed throughout, as were annotations on the tactical value of this, the emotional value of that. Prominent among them was a single apartment building, including notes on sniping from the roof and support via tunnels.
“That…what purpose would that…why w-”
Again, I raised my hand to cut him off, before closing the infosheet. Maybe it was both. Nah, couldn’t be. Only way it was both having this guy on edge and our body language is if it somehow had our body language built in. Unsettling thought, but not exactly likely.
“Because Stalingrad was an advantageous location and the people who died there were considered ‘Acceptable losses’“
“Computer, show gallery: General Sherman’s March to the Sea.”
A multitude of images appeared over the datapad. Rail lines and roads intentionally broken and destroyed. Farms and fields scoured clean and left to fallow. Buildings and towns razed to the ground. A broken people left to mourn and starve.
“So much waste…that can’t be intentional, can it?”
I glanced at the images, the wanton destruction that campaign caused, and the very orders that caused it. That kind of thing may be considered morally reprehensible now, even a war crime, but it wasn’t always. At the time, the strategy was extolled as one of the reasons the war ended the way it did.
“It was intentional.”
The alien stared at me, its reflective black eyes bigger than I’d ever seen them before. Creepy as all hell, that’s for sure. I’d rather not deal with these kinds of meetings in the future. Maybe after this I could negotiate for some kind of retirement.
I tapped my datapad and closed the gallery, then leaned back and tossed my feet on the table. May as well relax, I already knew how this was going to end.
“Because it rendered the enemy unable to use resources Sherman couldn’t keep. Computer, assemble and show video grouping: RTS Games”
A large grid of videos came up, showing a huge range of scenes. Largely battle, the settings varied from open space to deep ocean, from early history to the far “future.” Even battles across space and time could be seen.
“The translator can’t have gotten that right. Those are military tactical simulations. Higher level than anything I’ve ever seen or heard of.”
I laughed as I closed out all of the videos and turned back to the alien. Creepy and unsettling as it might be, I’m pretty sure I was terrifying the poor thing. Not that I really felt sorry for it. Not at all.
“No. They aren’t. Those are games. Toys. For. Fun. And they’re a couple hundred years out of date. From what I’ve seen, nearly every human capable of coherent speech is capable of tactically overwhelming your Federation. And since we’re already here, in space, it’s too late for you to say no. So, I’ll ask again:
Honestly gettin’ pretty sick of people coming to me to trash Joseph whenever I say he’s a complicated character with a lot of nuance, so hey, here’s my take on the whole Mary-Robert-Joseph situation.
I’ll put this all under a cut so here are some disclaimers; This is full of spoilers, I’m writing this under the assumption that all the cult end stuff is non-canon, and yes, this is only one possible interpretation of the information we can glean from the character interactions (also, taken from what may later prove to be incomplete information as more endings are unlocked/glitches are fixed/content is released). I like it because I think it’s the most interesting and empathetic for all of the characters involved and because I don’t think it’s the kind of situation that necessarily has to have a “villain”.
I would never do this in a play through, but I have to say that some of the best delivered lines in Inquisition come from Jonny Rees/ Greg Ellis in the armory scene after you tell Cullen to go back on lyrium. The heartbreak, is so palpable in the way his voice cracks in the delivery, especially when he says “are you leashed until the day you die, or lyrium takes your mind away?” It’s like Cullen knows that this will be the end of him and his actor just conveys that so well in the line delivery.
overall Cullen is voiced so well. If anyone else voiced him I’m not sure how compelled I would have been with the character. Like especially if you romance him in the game, I love how soft he is with the delivery in the romance scenes, and how sweet his voice turns compared to the firm, resounding command he has in the war room.
How the Dads Got Primary Custody of Their Children
Mat, Robert, and Dadsona, whose situations are all canonically death of the
Craig and Ashley started (and still work on) their business as a team
always more single-minded about it, and involved in all the most
time-consuming aspects. When they finally accepted that their
marriage was over they sat down, had a long, longtalk, and reached the
conclusion that Craig was in a better position to take care of the
girls full time. However,
their relationship post-divorce is very amicable, and Ashley still
regularly makes time to see her kids.
S/O was an ambitious workaholic. It never bothered Brian until Daisy
grew past infancy and they started constantly pushing her to do more,
do better, aim higher. The last thing Brian wanted was for his
daughter to grow up in a broken home, but when he realised how much
it was impacting Daisy’s self esteem (and how much of her childhood
she was missing out on) he decided enough was enough. He left, and
won full custody of Daisy without much of a fight. He doesn’t know
how to repair the damage his ex did, but he’s determined that his
beloved daughter is never going to have to live without the praise
she deserves ever again.
ex is a free-spirit artsy type. For a long time they had a
great relationship, but as they got older (especially after Ernest
came along) their individual goals started to diverge, and it became
clear that the lives they’d both come to want where just too
incompatible. When it came to the custody battle Hugo was the one
with the stable career and the good income, so he was the one granted
primary custody. Ernest’s other dad gets him on weekends and some
holidays, and Hugo has resigned himself to his role as the unfavoured
became pregnant relatively early in his relationship with his S/O,
before they’d had the chance to properly discuss the idea of
children. S/O couldn’t handle the idea and bolted, leaving Damien
alone. Damien briefly considered an abortion – he wasn’t confident
of his ability to raise a child by himself, and keeping it would cost
him the money he’d put aside for his transition and set him back
several years. However, he’d also always wanted to be a dad, and who
knew when the chance would come along again? He decided to raise his kid on his own, and found that the gap his S/O had left in his life vanished the moment Lucien was born.
Joseph and Mary finally decide that they’re doing more harm than
good, the custody battle is over almost as soon as it’s begun –
is an upstanding and important member of his community, Mary
is an alcoholic and
provably neglectful of her children. To her surprise, Robert comes to
Mary’s aid not as a drinking buddy or sympathetic ear, but as the
tough love no one else will give her. He has, as he points out, been
estranged from his child himself, and as much as he loves Mary he’s
not going to tell her she’s a fit mother when she isn’t. Eventually
Mary resolves to clean up her act, both for herself and in the hope
of one day being allowed more than occasional supervised visitation
for his part, works hard to give his children a loving home, and
regularly sends Mary updates on how they’re all getting on.
wait a mother-fucking second. “vale” means valley. assuming night vale was named such due to location, these fuckers are fucking surrounded by mountains (theoretically, of course — I’d never go against the government by believing in mountains), yet they don’t believe mountains exist (and neither do I because I am an upstanding night vale resident).
(the sheriff’s secret police got that bit where I said I definitely do not believe in mountains, right?)
Tips for Writing Romance from A Passionate Defender of the Genre
Here’s the thing: romance is not inherently
It’s not automatically compelling.
Romance is one of the hardest things to write, but
if you’re clever and careful and pay attention, romance can also be one of the
most powerful tools a writer can wield. Not only because love is a powerful and
complex emotion worthy of exploration—although it is that—but because romance
can function as plot, conflict, character motivation, development,
world-building, etc. It can do so much heavy lifting for you, and in a way that
is engaging, evocative, and tone-setting.
But you can’t simply cry “Love!” and wait for the
applause. You gotta earn it.
Okay, so I realize that we've only seen snippets, characters are complex, developer intent changes, etc, etc. Buuuut....Canon pre-Reaper Reyes seems like a relatively chill dude? Like,THIS is the guy that was supposed to be the hardass "ends justify the means" and "stick to the mission at all costs" type? o_O Would love to know your take on this.
This is like 99.99% speculation and personal projecting, but I’m fond of the idea that Young Gabe was extremely hard working, gruff, bad with people, edgy on purpose, and young Jack was more chill, friendly, charismatic, motivational. So through the amount of time they spend together Jack helps pull Gabe out of his shell, muscles him into working on his social skills so he’s got less of a wall up. He’s got his own friends and life and he’s fun at parties, but he’s still a gruff, intimidating guy with super high standards so he can be tough to work with because he’s a hardass who’s better than everyone at everything.
Jack and Gabe have like a good cop
dynamic for the Omnic Crisis, Gabe is calling the shots but Jack is the approachable go-between that people aren’t afraid is going to bark at them for messing up. When the Omnic Crisis ends the powers that be are like “hey, Jack a good upstanding ‘’’’’’’All American’’’’’’’ guy, he photographs well, he looks good on posters, he’s good at making all our weird special snowflake superheroes get along and work together, he knows how to tactfully navigate conversations with important people without offending them, let’s put him in charge of Overwatch!”
Gabe is pissed because he did the heavy lifting and now he’s not getting the glory, Jack is pissed because he ALSO wants Gabe to get the glory. He doesn’t want to be in charge, he wants to be the Fun Uncle who helps the kids get along with Rules Dad. But now he IS Rules Dad. He can’t be The Fun One anymore because now everything he does matters and everyone in the world is waiting to pick apart every descision he makes and backseat drive all his mistakes. So Jack starts turning into the stressed hardass because he’s juggling so many plates and playing politics with everyone.
Meanwhile Gabe is realizing a lifetime of Trying The Hardest didn’t really matter, because it still didn’t get him the job he wanted. He’s kind of salty, but also realizing from what it’s doing to Jack that he probably dodged a bullet because he would not have the tact to deal with all the political niceties. So in his own sardonic way, he kind of turns into “the fun one” because he doesn’t have the spotlight on him and can be as sarcastic and back-sassy as he wants without worrying about what it could “do to his career”. He throws a lot of jabs about Jack getting all the glory, but at the same time he enjoys getting to chill for the first time in his life. He doesn’t want Jack’s job or resent Jack for having it now that he’s seen how all the chips fell, but there’s always going to be that little part of him that can’t stop picking that scab and bringing it up when Jack is stressed out or fucking up. Gabe probably thinks of it as pushing Jack to do better and live up to the standards he expected for Overwatch when he was in charge, but for Jack it’s more like rubbing salt in the wound.
Then when he gets Reaper’d he’s just a pissed off man-on-a-mission who doesn’t need to worry about playing nice with others and social nuance at all anymore, so it’s all Reyes dry humour plus his skill and ambition plus his lifelong dream of wearing The Most Over-The-Top Goth Kid Sleeveless Black Trenchcoat ensemble and throwing shotguns at people. Reaper is Gabriel Reyes coming back from the dead with no fucks to give and ALL OF THE fucks to give simultaneously.
Now I’m not gonna say “this is how I think Blizzard is going to make it happen when they actually drop the lore” because that would make me a goddamn clairvoyant to predict that much backstory. I’m just sayin’ that if I was on the writing staff that’s probably how I’d pitch their relationship dynamic because it meshes with a lot of the established lore bits they’ve already dropped like “Gabe was in charge of Overwatch for the Omnic Crisis”, “Jack got promoted ahead of Gabe because he ‘brought out the best in people”, “Jack and Gabe continued to work together reasonably well despite this for another 20 years until [mystery event] happened”, “Gabe is an edgelord who condescendingly slow claps at people and talks like a smarmy tryhard theatre kid”, and “Gabe is also fun at parties and says quippy things when everyone else is stressed out about serious political problems”
This is a photo commissioned by Best Jeanist to remind Bakugou of what an upstanding HERO should look like. Bakugou hates this photo. B.J. photoshops fake fashion ad campaigns and sends them to him daily. His mother has it plastered all over the house. It leaks to the school. UA advisories and student announcements are posted as blurbs on this photo. Kirashima and Sero have yet to stop laughing. It has been 6 days. Bakugou has destroyed 12 desks.
Humans are Eldritch Horrors: Biomechanical Technology
Okay so this is a long one, be warned.
I’ve been on a binge between Wikipedia and YouTube, looking up extremophiles, protists, and “intelligent” slime molds that have potential for biomechanical applications.
Imagine if you would, that this biotechnological trend is picked up as a norm for humanity as a whole. Biological material is not suited for every application, true. But graphene, being made purely of carbon, can be integrated into both biological and technological systems. Certain multicellular and monocellular organisms can metabolize heavy metals. Slime molds and human neurons can be surprisingly efficient computers.
Imagine sea sponges designed by humans to build skeletons out of iron, cadmium, or a gold-titanium alloy instead of calcium. Imagine stomatolites building shells for massive spaceships out of the “waste” materials from mining processes. Imagine spacesuits made out of chitin and a bioglass reminiscent of that which tardigrades produce. Instead of air tanks, whole miniature biomes that produce oxygen at a rapid rate when fed biomass.
Essentially, the Engineers from Prometheus. Or like, 99% of H.R. Giger’s work.
Now imagine throwing black hole reactors, Alcubierre/EM/Fold/Quantum drives, mass accelerators (for weapons or other uses) and quantum computing thrown in a big ol’ mixing bowl with biomechanical fuckery. And no horror show biomechanical stuff, but like sleek, fine lighting, no jagged edges, no skulls and pure horror, no wet and nasty slimy shite (aside from the slime molds and several production processes…), but like, upstanding and respectable stuff, beautiful sleek lines mixed in with angles that are a bit too perfect…
Then introduce this to aliens who adopted a purely technological path.
—————- —————- —————-
Xyrhum had seen nothing like it before. About [500 kilometers] away from the jump-entry point of this system, straight off the prow of his corvette, was a [10km] long construct. It was a sleek structure that conjoined its long, near perfectly-straight pair of “prongs” in a semicircle at one end. It bowed out near the semicircular end and was riddled with ridges and bumps and grooves all along its sleek and organic body lines. It emitted a rumble that could be felt more than heard, even inside a ship of this size this far away.
Xyrhum tapped his feelers on the armrest of his chair, the armor at the tips of his appendages making near-deafening clacks and taps in the utter silence of the bridge.
“Pilot, perform a wide maneuver around the structure. Advance no further than [350 kilometers] from it. Do not get too close. Operations, engage stealth.”
“Aye, commander,” replied both officers.
Xyrhum turned to his communications officer, who was staring at him in a mix of anticipation and apprehension. “Communications, perform a passive scan of the structure.”
He turned to the co-pilot. “Retract any hardpoints besides the scanner.”
The communications officer piped up.
“Sir, the construct… It knows we’re here. I’m picking up a tight-beamed signal emanating from the… whatever it is.”
“So, our stealth drives mean nothing,” quipped the commander. “Drop stealth.”
“For all intents and purposes, this appears to be a First Contact situation. Prepare the data packet, and begin the ‘friendly contact’ signal. Start with the [Algebraic] equa-”
The ship lurched forward suddenly, cutting off the commander and accelerating at an uncomfortable speed towards the construct.
“Pilot, we have breached the [350km] mark and are accelerating at an unsafe speed toward the construct. Desist this instant!”
At that, the pilot raised his arms from the console. “This is not my doing, commander. The forward engines are at zero acceleration. Inertia dampeners are trying to fight but are overcome.”
“So, these aliens want a more face-to-face first contact.”
“It would seem so.”
“Communications, any changes on the construct? Has it deployed anything our active scanners can detect?”
“Several portions of its surface have shifted. There are numerous structures raising from its hull, but I detect no radiological spikes. If those are weapons, I’d imagine this to be more a threat display than anything else.”
“No chances. Raise shields to maximum.”
Just as the shields arced to life and covered the ship in a shimmering protective shell, a flash pulsed from the side of the construct, and the ship went dark.
“Report!” Exclaimed the commander, as he began drifting out of his seat.
“Engines and main reactor have spun to zero,” reported the Ensign. “Weapons and scanners offline. We’re drifting without a gun, sir.”
“Damn. Life support?”
“Compromised, but active. Backup reactor coming online. We’ll have full life support, gravity, and lights in [30 seconds] and counting.”
A slow, purplish ghostly wave drifted through the bridge. It passed over every nook and cranny in the room, and tingled every atom in the commander’s body as it passed over him.
“What in the hundred hells was that?”
“Unsure, sir. Hazard a guess, I think we were scanned.”
The ship continued to move toward the construct without spin or deviation. A tractor beam…?
A smaller construct broke off of the hull of the larger ship. It drifted away for a good [minute], seemingly inactive. It suddenly pulsed to life, bright bluish-white lines dancing into activity along its fine and sleek oblong shape. Along its horizontal equator, a line of light traced from the aft end to the fore and culminated in a point of light at the nose. The point of light then moved as the new construct maneuvered to be edge- on with the commander’s craft. The point of light slid along an invisible tract and aligned itself with the craft.
“It’s looking at us,” piped up the communications officer.
At that, the smaller craft deployed long, thick arms from its bottom, unfolding them in what appeared to be a threat display. It swung its aft around with no visible propulsion as it dissapeared above the commander’s ship. Moments later, the ship shook and shuddered. Clanging sounds and depressurization alarms could be heard throughout the ship.
“What’s happening? Ensign, report!”
“Multiple depressurizations in non-critical areas. Crew quarters, medbay, and bridge are secure. We have been captured by the alien vessel… and we’re moving again.”
“Sir, scans for biological activity have… returned. This… ship… whatever it is… it’s hardly mechanical at all.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, that this structure is alive. I’m reading intense biological activity. The outside of the ship is a heavy-metal composite in a carbon-based organic lattice.”
“Living ships? Tractor beams? Emissionless propulsion? Gravitic signatures? What next?” the commander mumbled under his breath.
Everyone was silent as the smaller craft guided the commander’s ship through several [hundred meters] of white-lit oval-shaped corridor. From the port and starboard viewports, he could see a menagerie of other creatures fast at work in the corridors of the vessel. There were strange four-legged things scurrying about and hefting containers of sorts in the low gravity. There were tall bipedal hulks with bowed legs walking along the gangways of the corridor and staring at the ship intensely. They appeared to be aiming at the vessel. Protruding from the floor and ceiling of the corridor were circular domes with spindly appendages jutting out of one side. They tracked the ship’s every movement with a glaring red eye. Turrets?
The ship began to slow as it drifted toward a flat circular platform. Three figures stood in a room separated from the platform with a thick plate of glass, flanked by two of the large bipeds seen moments ago. The craft that had latched on to the commander’s vessel guided his ship forward into a cradle of armlike appendages. A blue field of arcing electricity shot out from the panels above and held the ship steady as the arms enclosed around it. The cradle that held the ship descended from the ceiling and brought the ship to rest on the floor of the platform. Several tendrils rose from the floor and embedded themselves in the ship’s hull.
Suddenly, the ship’s system sprang to life. The docking runtime ran through its paces and the docking hatch opened. A thick hollow tube, ringed with grasping appendages, extended from the wall and affixed itself to the docking hatch. With a thud and a hiss, pressure was restored in the ship.
“Welcome to Gilgamesh,” said the computer.
“How does the computer know the name of the vessel?”
“It was hacked,” said the Ensign. “None of the officers or myself can control the ship. We’re locked out.”
The emergency lights on the floor came to life and led to the airlock.
A voice crackled from the communications panel, causing the communications officer, who was already on edge, to leave the bridge in a nervous wreck.
The center of the five figures in the room adjacent to the ship stepped forward, and began to speak in fluent Union Standard.
“We apologize for the forceful… apprehension… of your vessel. We hope this transgression can be forgiven. However, you entered our space withojt consent and refused to answer any of our hails. The transgression aside, we have been eager to meet an alien race for some time, and did not want to lose out on such an enriching opportunity. We did not expect them to be so… rudimentary, however.”
The commander rise from his chair and stepped to the forward window of the bridge, and met gaze with the figure. “Who are you? How can you speak our language?”
I am a member of the human race. We utilized complex mathematical algorithms to decrypt your computer, and merely gutted a cantelope to get the berries of your language.“
“Gutted… A what?”
“Did that not make sense?”
“…not at all.”
“Ah. It is not a perfect system, mind you. We hope to resolve this.”
“Your peaceful intentions aside, while appreciated, do not excuse your actions. You realize that by seizing a military scouting vessel, hacking it, and taking information without consent, you have not only broken several rules of first contact etiquette, but have committed acts worthy of declaration of war?”
“Humanity does not seek war with anyone. We have outgrown such petty practices. However, and we remind you, you had entered our space, unannounced, in an armed vessel, which warranted a rather forceful response from us. We seem to have stepped on each other’s toes. I do not advise escalation.”
At that, an arm unfolded from the wall and aimed a spindly protrusion at the ship. The protrusion began to glow blue as the air began to ripple from heat.
The ship-board AI chirped to life; “Warning: radiological signature detected.”
“That,” the Human quipped.
“Please, come aboard. We welcome you peacefully. We wish to discuss many things with you, as well as terms of reparation and harmonious relations.”
The crew departed the ship and crossed through the boarding tube. The air was surprisingly dry and warm.
They entered the room through an airlock of iris-style doors, unfolding with a slight cracking and the sound of sliding stone. The three figures, standing at a whopping [2.5m], stood in the center of the room, flanked by their [5m] behemoths.
The center figure departed the group, flowing robes rippling as it waltzed effortlessly toward him. It stopped at a close, yet respectful distance of [6m].
Suddenly, the plates that composed its cranium shifted and split, hissing out a steamy gust of air as it opened and neatly folded away. What it revealed was the true face of the human; a round head, with pinkish-gray soft skin, nearly hairless and featureless. On either side was a flesh protrusion, full of ridges and bumps, angled forward. Atop its head was a tuft of… hair? It had a rather flat face with a gentle ridge above its pair of forward-set predatory eyes and a protrusion in the center of it all with two holes. Beneath that was a horizontal slit composed of two fleshy lobes. The lobes peeled back to reveal a set of bony protrusions.
“I am Heyatha, the commander of this frigate. It is my honor to greet you, Commander Xyrhum, on behalf of humanity. There is so much for us both to learn from this meeting.”