Lore

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There are 96 lore entires in the game.

Environments

My brother, it is done. Come! See! 

Look to the moon... the first beacon shines brightly on the other side! There was no gap in its sequence - it has traveled instantaneously. We can cross the dark sea without succumbing to its sickness if we simply do not travel through it at all - is it not a brilliant light of hope? 

Only your hands could have realized my design, brother. I feel truly now that there is no obstacle nor force we cannot overcome together - with my designs, and your constructions. While it pains me to see your heart still torn for the doomed, we are not among them. There is an entire cosmos for us. We can escape this planet. Our prison. If your heart truly yearns to save... then surely more of our kind awaits among the other worlds - trapped by the dark sea. 

And to them we can offer the gates. 

When next she visits our world I must ask her to take a gate with her. Perhaps dozens! You should be celebrating with me, brother!

... And yet I see your somber gaze will not lift. Please, take the gate. Step foot on another world. Reap the rewards of your toil. Prove to the universe you are free! I cannot bear to see you in such a pitiable mood on such a joyous occasion.

...

If you insist, brother, I will go first. Forget about those creatures - and do not dawdle. I want to see joy on your face.
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Day 0
Nightmare. I find myself in the middle of a desert - with no other survivors in sight. I scavenged for resources, but soon giant insects began to crawl out of the earth and take aggressive stances. Once they gathered their numbers - and presumably their confidence - they charged me. 

In avoiding their assault, I slipped and fell backwards into a waterfall of mysterious liquid. I tumbled within as it rushed me down, deep into an underground cavern. I crawled out, and thankfully the insects have stopped following me. I may have broken my leg - but thankfully CHIT(?) I have a healing drone to administer aid. It will take a few days to get my strength back. 

Day 1
I am grateful that I repaired this drone before my untimely tumble - I would assuredly be dead without it. My vision is blurry - I fear I have also suffered a CHIT concussion. My leg has begun to feel better. I will have to continue to wait. I grow hungry.

Day 2
My healing drone has stopped giving me aid. It hovers far away now - and moves back as I move forward. I've been feeling nauseous, and have been feeling the urge to CHIT CHIT vomit. I occasionally spit out black liquid - I fear something is gravely wrong.

Day 3
My CHIT CHIT drone has left.  I have CHIT lost my vision. My mouth and eyes fill with foul dark liquid. I am alone.

Day 9
CHIT CHIT CHIT CHIT CHIT CHIT CHIT CHIT CHIT I-I neED CHIT CHIT CHIT chit chit chit CHIT
[Report detected!]

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Day 0

We have landed a few minutes ago and I have no time I must log as quickly as possible I hope the speech-to-text works many died on impact inside hollow cavern chains great chains fire the ground they come from the ground the burning they breathe fire we are hiding beneath the caverns groans they coax metal from the surface with song giant snakes made of fire they collect the security chests the death god we are in hell here chains keeps the ground from splintering they breathe beneath and above and around us punishments it must be forgive me I cannot see too dark deep thunder goodbye

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I’ve begun to understand our universe. The compounds that drive reality here. I’ve prepared a demonstration - come look, brother!

Now, look here. It’s got presence and weight. Round, with no features. No orientation. It is mass. Almost everything here is mass. Mass is boring, but required.

We can take mass - and shape it to form. Features, angles, and intent. Look at the planarity of the surfaces. This is design. I love design.

Now, a volatile one - a lifeline. Blood. Sharp, yet radiant. Blood is heat. This is my blood, but there is plenty of blood in this universe. 

Now be gentle. Look closely here. Do you see it? Almost invisible, a thin film. Frail. It’s not in this reality, but an adjacent one. I’ve heard you discuss this - something you innately understood. What you describe as soul. Don’t you love soul?

Do you understand? It’s your turn, brother! I’ve simply found the compounds. It is your hands that must craft value from them.
Have you forgotten – that those gates are my design?

You would not know, because you do not look up. You bend knees only for ants and vermin. But I have been working on a grander design. A greater gate – to travel greater seas.

What if I met you, on one of these extinct planets? What if I caused the calamities you strive to avoid? What if I reaped destruction? What would you do then?

I know the planet you trail – of water and dirt. You fear their stability. That they will consume themselves. Maybe I will go there first.
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I’m tired. Haven’t slept in days. My feet are heavy in my boots. I should turn back, but… this place, it’s keeping me awake, if only to pull me further into its serenity. The soft grass, unnatural. The glowing fauna that plays tricks on my eyes. I’ve seen no predators, but what if they’re hiding…. waiting for me to take a rest?

The next plateau will help me find a landmark… no… but the one I can see from here might. These dangerous rock rivers I keep stumbling across, I’d stay away from them if they weren’t so fascinating. How do they even work? How can local gravity be so discrete? Maybe this is all a dream?

A gate! Yes, a stone gate! If I can figure out how to open it maybe I can find a place to finally rest! I'm so tired… no! I’ll sleep when I’m dead. The crowbar might not be enough for these massive doors. Ah, just my luck! 

Wait… what was that noise?
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I am recording this before I forget any details of what I just saw.

We set up Rallypoint Beta on a giant plateau of grass and rocks - we felt that the com-range was greater in a flat and wide area.  The plateau is littered with giant stone rings and arcs - hundreds of feet tall. We investigated them first after landing but we couldn't discern anything of interest.

We were making room for a com-center in our camp, and one of our MUL-T bots were in charge of clearing out some of the bigger boulders. It was easiest to just push them off the edge of the plateau. 

Not a minute later, we heard a deep rumble - and saw something unbelievable. It just... flew. One of the stone rings - a smaller one - began to groan and lift out of the earth, moving with unknown forces. And then it lifted into the air, slowly spinning. It hovered to a height of about 200 feet, and then stopped.

As it spun, something began to form in the center of the ring. Specks of dirt tumbled in the air, until it formed a pebble, then a small rock, then a boulder. An identical boulder to the one we just moved - created out of thin air. Despite being constructed only a moment ago, the boulder was worn and covered in moss and lichen like it has been around for centuries.

Then, the stone fell to the ground with an unceremonious crash - right on top of our coms relay.

Not too long after, the stone ring began to waver. Then, like the invisible strings holding it in place were cut, the ring also fell to the earth.  Crash. 

We stopped moving stuff around after that.

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Yeah, I had to. I had no choice. Marion knew - and she was always so much stronger. So much stronger than all of us.

And it worked, it really did! Marion saved all of us. The dagger - it saved Pugh and Larsen and Dillon. Carney and Stevens.

But Pugh saw - he saw and he didn't understand. How could he? I tried to tell him - I ran over to him. But I couldn't convince him otherwise, and he was so crazy - so crazy! He wouldn't shut up and the golems were coming and the dagger - there was no choice.

Everyone was real somber that night. We lost Hitchcock and Marion and Pugh. Real somber. Later on, Carney found the book from a nearby chest. And it really all made sense - it did! I knew why Marion had that dagger and why I had to be the one to kill her. And Carney? He was too strong. I couldn't risk him not understanding. He wouldn't understand.

But Carney was big. Everyone else would've known. So that night, after I killed him, I went and took his body to the Altar. And I hid the Altar - right at the edge of the cliff, between two clusters of roots, in a cave underneath. And in that cave... I worshipped Her Concepts.

The rest? Well, they were so old and so tired. They were just gifts for N'kuhana. And She loved them. 

Weshan.

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Items

Order: Artifact E-8EE572
Tracking Number: 490******
Estimated Delivery: 08/10/2056
Shipping Method: Priority
Shipping Address: Titan Museum of History and Culture, Titan

Sorry about the delay, we've had a flood of orders come in from this site. But it was exactly where you said we should look - there was a sealed off room where you marked the excavation diagram. I finished translating the engraving too, so consider that a bonus for the time we took to get to it:

"I am the will to survive made manifest. To those who never lose hope, to they who try in the face of impossible odds, I offer not 
protection, but the means to bring one's unconquerable spirit forth as the defender of their mortal lives."

It’s so lightweight, we figure it must've been entirely decorative. That seems to line up with the text. In any case, I hope it makes a good exhibit! I'm a big fan of the museum, so it wouldn't hurt to give me a partner's discount next time I visit, right?
Order: "Alien Head"
Tracking Number: 76******
Estimated Delivery: 07/13/2056
Shipping Method:  High Priority/Biological
Shipping Address: Solomon, ???, Backwaters, Mars
Shipping Details:

Important sign from the spirits. Passed down for many generations. Must be used for high noon ritual to ward off sickness and fatigue. Must be kept cool or will rot. Helps energize the kinfolk and can be used for extra human strength and agility. Important.
"How do they know who their leader is? Is it instinct? Or is there something about me?"

"I can't believe you're having me cover for you, Ashley. You know the rules. The last time someone brought something 'friendly' to the camp it did NOT end well. Rich cried for days."

"But if we figure out how to communicate we can use it to our benefit! Besides, the guy is pretty helpful around here. He can lift heavy boxes and reach high places."

"I think we should just put that thing back where you found it. Who knows if it will attract more?"

"This is for science...! And besides, maybe it can teach us something about this environment. He's a native here."

"Yeah, cool, native, okay, I'm out."
Order: Bandolier
Tracking Number: 112*****
Estimated Delivery: 04/19/2056
Shipping Method: Standard
Shipping Address: 3950 Sunsell Ln, Tri-City, Earth
Shipping Details:

Thank you for your participation in the auction! We’ve included a short history on the item, as well as documents to verify its authenticity.

This is the famous bandolier worn by B. Grundy himself. He and his pals used to raise terror all over the map of the new territories. Their favorite activity was to tie up people they didn’t like and drag them behind their horses – Grundy clearly had a sweet spot for the old days.

The sling carries an impressive assortment of ammunition - Grundy himself carried many different guns. It was rumored that they held out for 3 whole days and nights before their weapons ran dry.
Order:  Biopsy Samples of Cairne Jefferson
Tracking Number: 051*****
Estimated Delivery: 11/11/2056
Shipping Method: High Priority/Biological
Shipping Address: Saura Cosmo, Beacon Post, ???
Shipping Details:

Contained in this shipment should be a variety of biopsy samples from our late Mr. Jefferson. As you know, he was an extraordinary man in almost any manner. He was athletic, brilliant, kind, funny, and an all-around great human specimen. 

He donated his body to science, and as we began the operation we found a most terrifying discovery.

A quick visual examination of the subject’s brain shows a very… particular oddity. It seems to be housing a variety of… glowing brain “stalks”, similar to tubeworms. Trying to biopsy the stalks is impossible - they seem to disintegrate into dust the moment we remove it from the brain. We cannot explain this oddity at all. As such, we have included the entire brain in this shipment.

Please let us know if you find any explanation.
A wretched carnival.

They were doomed for good reason. Dunepeople of Aphelia: lost, in fanatic worship of parasitic influences. Lemurians: destined to a dead planet, picked clean. Chitin beasts. Automations of death. Why do you bring them home? They were not meant to survive. 

I have watched you for ages, from my dead rock - and every century, you disgust me with vanity. You invite vermin into your home. Wretches. Rats. Monsters. Creatures without restraint. Each and every one, planet killers. And yet, you entertain them as guests. Like children, requiring saving and protection.

She should have died for me. Her gift was wasted on you.

And when will we open discussion - dear brother - of all your thin lies? Why do you forbid your guests to leave? To pilot? Why do you fashion great walls and gates? Why do you weave constructs of destruction, if your role is protection? They are entries in your collection. You slaver. Gatekeeper. Hoarder.

Your death is fated. When you die - and you WILL die - I will be ready. I have been patient for millennia. That planet... is mine.
"Hey, happy anniversary!

You really thought I forgot?

Ah, I thought I was the dumb one in our relationship. C'mon T, of course not! Well, I wasn't going to let a little alien death planet ruin our night. Right? Shh, just watch. Just watch. It's okay. Just watch. You'll love it - you really will. Then we can go home.

You can keep your eyes closed. Just listen. Ah - here it comes! In five... four... three... two... ONE...!"
The smell of sulfur fills the air.

"Oh god, they're so close. They have Hitchcock. Oh god."

"Grab the - the dagger. From my backpack. Quick."

"I-I don't... I got it. What the hell? This isn't gonna work, Marion. What the hell am I supposed to do with this against those...? They blew him into pieces - oh god."

"You have to... you have to kill me - ah! Kill me. Kill me with it."

"What? What the hell?"

"Yeah - it's the only way. Please."

"What are you saying? Stop!"

"It's a magic dagger. It'll save us. She will save us. But you have to kill me with it."

"Please don't... please don't make me. Oh god."

"Y-you have to. I've seen how this works. It's the only way - they're coming so close. You have to use it on me. Kill me."

"I'm so sorry Marion. I'm so so sorry. I don't think-"

"Do it. Do it now. DO IT NOW! DO IT NOW! DO IT-"
Order: Chronobauble
Tracking Number: 99******
Estimated Delivery: 03/03/2066
Shipping Method: Priority
Shipping Address: 9042 Pvt. Drive, Yustik Plaza, Mercury
Shipping Details:

Weren't you just a kid? Summer break feels like it was just so recent - but it's been 10 years, hasn't it? Life moves faster and faster as you get older - less moments to remember, to cement you in time. I don't even remember being 25. How did I forget an entire year?

Anyways - I found this in a trinket shop on Mercury. A chronobauble - the seller said something about special relativity, real heavy distortions or something - I didn't really get it. It's supposed to slow down time around it. Right.

Anyways, I'm shipping this to myself - to arrive in 10 years. A gift, from me to me. A reminder to make memories, to slow down a bit. 10 years will pass so quick - try to remember them! You've got to put effort in life!
Order: “Death Mark”
Tracking Number: 66******
Estimated Delivery: 02\22\2056\
Shipping Method:  High Priority
Shipping Address: 421 Lane, Lab [72], Mars
Shipping Details:

Everyone said that I was crazy to search for lost artifacts on Mars. Idiots. There hasn’t been any proof of a previous civilization - but I’ve always trusted my gut. This skull proves that I’m right - that something did exist here before.

That smug professor at the university... always disparaging my research. I loved seeing the look on his face as I shook his hand. Idiot. Karma must have been working overtime - I heard he fell ill shortly after. I suppose my success was just too much for him.

...In fact, everyone I’ve shown seems to not be returning my calls. Are they avoiding me? Are they scared this news would shake up their academic communities? Too proud to admit I’m right?

I’ll find someone who will give me the recognition I deserve. I’ve worked too hard and done too much. If I don’t keep going, I think I might just die.
Order: NR-G Sports Soda (400)
Tracking Number: 49******
Estimated Delivery: 03/12/2056
Shipping Method:  Standard
Shipping Address: Venetian Health & Public Services, Ridgelake, Venus
Shipping Details:

Yeah, so, uh this is the um, the energy drink that people were mixing during that disaster in Majora Minora a few weeks ago. 

A quick toxicology test on some of the victims has come back positive for um... all kinds of stuff, really. Methadone, phencyclidine, tetrahydrocannabinol, a variety of opiates, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, amphetamines... the list just goes on and on and on.

Radical Drinks is insisting that NONE of those were from their energy drink - which I find pretty uh, unlikely. Maybe they REALLY know how to party in Violet Heights, huh?
Gravity concentrating... falling inward, condensing, hardening.

A singularity shrinks to the point your mind inverts, reversing reality. Now return. 

Don’t the matters of the physical world seem trivial now? Your tasks in this realm are simple and hastened, all in an attempt to get reversed. How many times can you make this trip before you are claimed by its process? 

Do not let it take you. Take it instead. Here.
"As humanity began to venture out into the depths of space, high-energy but low-volume fuel sources became critical for interplanetary travel. Stability came later."
-Brief History of Interplanetary Advances, Vol.2
Audio transcription complete from signal echoes. Assigning generic tokens.

[Fire crackling]

MAN 1: D-do you think they're gonna come for us?

MAN 2: They'll try. It's going to be a very long while.

MAN 1: What? Why?

MAN 2: A long while. Even if they know where to look we'd be months out from the nearest port. And that's if they even have any ships as fast as ours – FTL ships are very rare nowadays.

MAN 1: Months...?! And what do you mean if they know where? What about the other ships on our shipping routes?

MAN 2: We weren't on the route.

[Fire pops]

MAN 1: What?!

MAN 2: We should've been halfway to Procyon by the time we crashed... but we weren’t. The ship never announced it was slowing down either, so that’ll make triangulating our positions even harder.

MAN 1: I-I don't get it. Who would take a UES train off course? That's completely insane!

MAN 2: I don’t know – only the Captain does. There’s no reason to slow down in this star system - there's not even supposed to be a habitable planet out here.

[Sizzling]

MAN 2: This looks cooked to me. Can't vouch for how it'll taste - but we have to eat.

MAN 1: I... I can't even think right now. I’m not hungry.

MAN 2: Eat. We've got a lot of traveling to do tomorrow and we'll need to keep our strength.

MAN 1: Sure. Okay. Okay. Um… do you think it's poisonous?

MAN 2: Eat.

End of requested transcript. 
Order: “Ghor’s Tome”
Tracking Number: 19******
Estimated Delivery: 07/07/2056
Shipping Method: Priority
Shipping Address: 99th Floor, Crumbling Tower, Venus
Shipping Details:

Ancient secrets... transmutation... homunculi... alchemy. Nothing more than nonsense - pursuits of rightly intentioned but grossly misled minds. Or so I thought. This item's... unexpected physical properties are reason enough to stay my immediate dismissal.

Strange fortune led this book to me, and stranger knowledge still fills the pages. Chilling, even. It concludes, in chapter eight, that even iron can become gold - but only through a ritual of intense bloodletting, a thought disturbing enough without considering the bountiful riches that accompanied the estate.

The takeaway, above all else, seems to be that you cannot get something from nothing; even the very paper of the tome turned to ash as I tried to make photocopies. Whatever was on the first two pages is lost forever. I need transcriptions of the rest by hand, and I know you take pride in your precision. 

And more importantly, Kosta, I trust you. Don't do anything that would draw attention to yourself. I will try to find the other volumes. This is knowledge too dangerous to lose.
"Denizens of lower-gravity planets like Mercury historically have had trouble adjusting to life on other planets. Mercurians, with their lower bone density (left) would typically shatter their femur within a week on heavier planets. Members of asteroid-rigged flotillas and colony ships have similar issues when arriving home from space.

The invention of Kinetic Dispersion Rings (above) help alleviate the stress of heavier-than-normal gravity by converting kinetic energy into heat, sound, and light. Settlers from Mercury could finally leave their home planet in safety."

-Mercurian History Museum
Brother, what is this...? Why is it misshapen and weak? Was there an error in my design?

Guardian. Come to me. Allow me to see your construction.

...

So I see.

These are not the correct ratios.

This is no minor error, Brother. You have purposefully deviated from the design. For what purpose have you done this? You cannot weave a construct from such an abundance of soul. You know it is too unstable - that it is too unpredictable and too frail. I have told you this, and yet you have wasted the materials I have gathered - and exhausted your own strength to fabricate this miscreation.

To what benefit?

At its best, it can be no more than an inferior servant; it is deficient in the compounds that were to give it fortitude and strength. At its worst, it will betray us.

You have created the first being of this world which threatens us. We cannot keep it here. Attempting to destroy it will risk its retaliation... I will prepare one of the vaults for it to be sealed away, while it is still young and naive.

What a foolish mistake you have made, brother.

I expect you to return the design to me. I cannot allow you to build another construct with so much power - and with such little control. I will build the rest of our guardians; by my hand, they will be weak, but at least they will be loyal.

Go home. I will deal with this creature. We can discuss a better project for you when I return.
Order: Specimen XAS4-49
Tracking Number: 342******
Estimated Delivery: 12/29/2056
Shipping Method:  Priority
Shipping Address: Geshka Tower, 33 Floor, Mars
Shipping Details:

Our 'hard light' research has become even more refined since our last correspondence. 

The initial purpose of the afterburner was to function as a primary heatsink for our bigger HL implementations - like our bridges and barriers. However, if attached to a rapidly degrading source, like those we typically dispose, we get a wonderful emission rate of semi-tachyonic particles. In other words... extremely high capacity fueling.

It should be obvious by its design, but to reiterate: stay away from the HL exhaust end when active. The emission method is violent by design, and so should be mounted to static, STABLE sources only.
Order: "Interstellar Plant Seed"
Tracking Number: 44******
Estimated Delivery: 08/27/2056
Shipping Method:  Standard/Biological
Shipping Address: Giardina Dealership, Naples, Earth
Shipping Details:

Hello - yes, I’d like one of those space plant seeds for the office. I think it would look so nice in here; it'd really brighten up the room, and it could really use it. Al at the Denver branch says he got one, and it's really made a difference. His sales are OFF the charts, and he's contributing all his success to this magic plant!

I've also heard that it sorta gives off a glow that has medical benefits. That would be great for the pain I've been having in my ankle after that run. Might even help the attitude of some of my customers.
"Should passion die down,
Should light be extinguished,
Will you bring me patience?
Will you die with me?"

-The Syzygy of Io and Europa
Order: Lepton Daisy
Tracking Number: 23******
Estimated Delivery: 07/23/2056
Shipping Method: Standard
Shipping Address: Duck Lake, Orlandus, Earth 
Shipping Details:

Dear Stalnia,

I haven't been able to visit for a while, so I hope you and Libra are doing well. I heard that you're clearing the land there and want to spruce things up. I'm sending this flower I picked in the Carbon Fields of Electron Valley. The terraformers there told me that, over time, landscaping efforts were improved by the organic-band signals sent out by this plant. I've been helping them build a new world.

Just make sure to put it up high enough that Mushka can't get to it. I'm not sure what effect it'll have on dogs...
HELLO, LITTLE ONE. HOW WAS YOUR ADVENTURE TODAY?

OH

YOUR FORM IS BROKEN, LITTLE ONE. WHAT TRICKERIES HAVE YOU GOTTEN YOURSELF INTO?

OH

DO YOU TIRE OF ADVENTURE? 

WOULD YOU LIKE TO HELP ME TEND TO THE GARDEN, MY LITTLE ONE?

I UNDERSTAND. OH, YOUR FORM! DO NOT WORRY. COME CLOSER.

HERE - TWO COILS OF DENKU ROPE. THOSE ARE FOR STRENGTH.

HERE - FOUR CARDS OF OBSIDIAN. THOSE ARE FOR SELF-CONFIDENCE.

I GIVE YOU NOTHING FOR SPIRIT.

OH, DO NOT WORRY! WE WILL STILL GO ON ADVENTURES. THEY WILL BE QUIET ADVENTURES. 

COME CLOSER - CLOSER NOW. 

CLOSER!

NOW WATCH - WATCH CLOSELY. 

WATCH HOW I TEND TO OUR GARDEN.
"I suggest you stay indoors and rest."

MED-E, the medical bot, has been working overtime. The survivors felt very grateful that their escape pod landed near Med Bay cargo - they would have most likely perished without it.

"I suggest you stay indoors and rest."

The robot was speaking to a tall man, gaunt but strong. "I'd love to, but we're running low on food." Even though his expression was hidden underneath his blue combat helmet, it was obvious the man was extremely tired. "And everyone else is recovering from last night's attacks. Without the enforcers, we probably wouldn't have-"

"I suggest you stay indoors and rest." 

It was apparent that MED-E only had a limited set of lines. However, the man continued to respond. "I can't, MED-E. They're counting on me. You know that."

"I suggest you stay indoors and rest." 

This time the man did not humor a reply. Grabbing his shotgun, he turned away from the echoing robot. Weaving his way between countless sleeping bags and stretchers, he set out into the wilderness again. Everyone was counting on him.

"Please stay indoors and rest." 
Lab Dissection Analysis File
Subject: Mired Urn
Technician: J. Flint
Table Spec: Full Enclosure AY-2 with ARMM Kit
Notes:

- The survey team went through a lot of trouble to bring this one back.
- Fitz was the only one left standing, in fact said he felt great, and the rest are still in the recovery ward
- Subject is what appears to be a clay vase
- Could this be part of a camouflaging defense mechanism?
- Inside the vase is a dark gooey substance
- Goo can articulate into functioning appendages
- Intelligence of subject indeterminable at this point
- When operating the ARMM kit, goo attaches to all but one of them
- Instability in the ARMM power system aborts the procedure
Lab Dissection Analysis File

Subject: Molten Perforator
Technician: Dema "Dembones" Brown
Table Spec: Heatsink UB-2
Notes:

> Using UB-2 due to temperatures above safe levels.
> Removing molten enamel and placing aside for substance analysis. It’s solid, yet swimming.
> Upon structural investigation, found cavities and internal chambers
> Reduce lab temperatures by 10 degrees
> Heat generating veins present - fire is being supplied to the tooth?
> Removed my lab coat, very hot
> Heat generation is still occurring in the severed object
> Put some more ice in my drink WOW its hot
> Timestamping for break
"Let us begin.

What is your oath?

Not very long ago, health and time were in perfect synergy. Pain and love. Death and memories. The great equalizer. She would always come for us. 

But! Disparity now plagues our generations - and our children's. Not many pass, but so many are born. So many doomed souls, saved. Our hubris as a race continues to grow - unchecked. Unrestrained. 

Now there is no volume in our world for death, and she cannot visit us. But is being alive only an offset from death? Without contrast, won't we all be dead in life? The standard has shifted, and now we are all so very close to never living again.

We must make volume for her name - to restore the balance. Let us consume the Concepts, so we may begin to drain the bloated cistern that is our world. As disciples, we will spread her words and opinions. As pupils, we will sow death. And should we be lucky... be granted an audience by Her.

Weshan!"

-The N'tormat, Chapter I, Stanza I, Verse II
Order: Old Guillotine
Tracking Number: 782*****
Estimated Delivery: 04/29/2056
Shipping Method: Standard
Shipping Address: Warehouse 36, Anklar, Primas V 
Shipping Details:

Everyone is still operating on adrenaline here. We finally overthrew our oppressors and have taken back Primas V! I know some of the overlords will attempt to buy their way onto a stealth transport, but that’s going to be quite difficult due to their epic economic blunder.

We don’t just want blood for all the injustices we’ve suffered at their hands. We want to send a message to would-be sympathizers. This old guillotine will serve both as an execution method and a symbol to strike fear into their hearts wherever they might be hiding.

Primas V is alive!
Order:  Misc. OW Artifacts (47)
Tracking Number: 01******
Estimated Delivery: 08/13/2056
Shipping Method: Priority
Shipping Address: National Old War Museum, New Orleans, Earth
Shipping Details:

We've managed to round up all the local Old War artifacts that we could find. A lot of interesting things here: rifles, rations, pamphlets. We even found a prototype stealthkit in fantastic condition; that could be a great centerpiece for your exhibit.

However, a slight issue: in transit, the truck hit a pothole and jostled all the ship. It seemed to have actually activated the stealth drive - some strange short-circuit - and our team can't actually confirm the location of the stealthkit. It should be in one of the boxes - we will be expecting the commission to include the stealthkit.
"While the kinetic rating is very poor, the extremely cheap production costs of Hinon’s Personal Barrier made it a great budget tool for hikers, sailors, and even daily commuters to be comfortable in harsh weather. Many people in the office figured out they could replace their expensive winter jackets with comfortable, trendy personal barriers!"

-Top 10 Best Personal Barriers of 2053
Gossip spreads quickly in terrified communities. Stories that keep the more fearful lizardfolk in their passageways. Hushed tales that frighten the most commanding of stone constructs and woodfolk and creatures of the plains. Fear travels between the trees and the valleys.

A demon, fallen from the Sky, mighty enough to slay Providence and his Wurms. Only two arms, two legs - but with 22 unblinking, crimson eyes.
It looks like starseed, tanning in dirt.
It smells like hot stone, and tall grass.
It tastes like spiced fruit, sweet and hot.
It feels like solar winds, and solar chimes.
It sounds like two brothers, chasing glass frogs in the sun.
"Yeah, uh, Kaitlin? Let me know if you copy."

"I copy. What's up?"

"I've made friends? I don't know. "

"What? "

"The giant bug we killed earlier - well, the corpse seemed to attract a bunch of nasties. I was on my way to clean them up when I realized they were... waiting? Confused, maybe. Anyways, I was walking up to them to get rid of em, and strangely enough they seemed passive. The same bugs that gave me that concussion yesterday, and-"

"What?! Are you okay? "

"Huh? Yeah, I'm fine. Anyways, I felt bad killin' them since they seemed all... inert and such. So I just kinda left and they've been following me ever since. Real weird. Anyways, I guess I've made some friends. I wonder what they eat... do they eat? Since they don't have any mouths that I-"

"Rich, stop! Please don't bring them back to camp! "

"Oh, well uh...I could - Junior, stop! Leave your brother alone! "
"Nature has a way of nurturing the physical. The mind, by perseverance and dedication. The soul, however... is healed by fantasy, and fantasy alone."
-Unknown Venetian monk
Order: Repulsion Armor Replacement Piece
Tracking Number: 09******
Estimated Delivery: 08/15/2056
Shipping Method:  Standard
Shipping Address: System Police Station 13, Port of Marv, Ganymede
Shipping Details:

Luckily no one was hurt during the shootout. Just a few rough characters at the bar by the docks. Nothing we couldn’t handle. Jaime took a shot to his shoulder but his armor took all the impact. We’ll need to order him a replacement part before he can go back out in the field.

The segmented design is nice because I don’t have to shell out the cash for a whole new set. Frankly, the station’s coffers have seen better days. The next time a rookie damages their equipment they might be looking at a desk job for a while.
Order: Please let me know when you get this. I foun...
Tracking Number: 53******
Estimated Delivery: 05/22/2056
Shipping Method: Priority
Shipping Address: Research Center, Polarity Zone, Neptune
Shipping Details:

BTW Mama should have sent over another package as well. Let me know when you get it.

Papa
"Should memories be lost,
Should oceans be clouded,
Will you bring me fervor?
Will you die with me?"

-The Syzygy of Io and Europa
Order: Key
Tracking Number: 12******
Estimated Delivery: 01/21/2056
Shipping Method: Standard
Shipping Address: |||||||, Druid Hills, Earth
Shipping Details:

I don't trust UESC. Not one bit. Their Security Chests? Full of overrides and backdoors- I've got a cousin working in their factory, and they've got all kinds of weird things going on in those chests. I've seen so many of them in auctions - for the lost and unclaimed ones - and you just pay money, and it springs open on the spot. Are you kidding me?

Anyways, I'm sending you exactly what I said I would - but it's too important to leave the security up to the UESC. So I'm sending the key to you - and the lockbox to Margaret. Like a two-factor authentication. Let me know when you get this.
"When artificial intelligence became more commonplace, many companies jumped on the trend for "smart" products. This included smart doors, lights, coffee makers, lawnmowers, vacuum cleaners, bedding, kitchen knife sets, and other home goods. After a series of gruesome lawsuits stemming from hacked smart appliances, most products soon went back to their more traditional, analog lines."

-"Why Is Smart So Dumb? VII"
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Pairings

Unstructured glass, from the heart of the [Moon]. Sung out, in ethereal wisps, over the course of 3 cycles. Pause.

We fold time into its material - twice. Our time and <his>. A cost <he> was willing us to pay. Folded and shaped, with a god's designs.
 
<He> wields it, in one of many great hands. The time we injected is unfolded in <his> grasp. Outputs quicken - muscles compress twice. Twice as many intentions. Twice the ordered complexities, folded upon themselves. Loops loop back onto [?] in pairs. Time dependent functions. Pause.

<He> sunders a construct into a thousand pieces.

But time is fair. Microtears begin to uncoil in pairs. Muscles begin to snap, twice as fast.  The cost of folded time. But <he> has plenty of time.


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Shattering Justice Owner’s Manual

Excerpt from section 2.13:
... and if the target material doesn’t cave under the immense weight just keep hitting it until it does. The patented technology inside the face of this tool doesn’t just use brute force to break down its mark, it also utilizes a formulated nano toxin, released through internal mechanisms, that builds up through subsequent contact. In other words, each hit makes it easier to break.

Please refer back to section 1.8 for information on proper handling and the included anti-toxin gloves...
Lab Dissection Analysis File

Subject: Shatterspleen
Technician:  Professor Mehri Daimera
Table Spec: Spillproof BDC-3
Notes:

> This will be my third attempt at a dissection of an Imp organ
> First attempt resulted in rupture
> Second attempt resulted in rupture
> Cutting into the outer layer produces copious amounts of fluid discharge
> As the fluid flows, the rest of the organ, inexplicably, swells
> Swelling will ultimately result in violent rupture
> Made use of the stemming tools on the BDC-3 to successfully proceed without incident
> Surprised to find sharp needle point objects (bones?) inside
> Timestamping for break
> Came back to leave some final notes
> Third attempt aborted after I injured my hand
> Eventually was able to stop my own bleeding. The organ seems to contain immense anticoagulant properties.
"I ain't much for drugs... but hell, when fortune is knockin', ya gotta greet that door with a smile and a nod. Salud!"

-Signal echoes, UES Contact Light
Order: Soulbound Catalyst
Tracking Number: 890*****
Estimated Delivery: 11/06/2056
Shipping Method: High Priority/Fragile
Shipping Address: 1414 Place, Fillmore, Venus
Shipping Details:

If you thought the ring was a rare find, wait until you get your hands on this!

It turns out the method the King used did not originate from his time period. His court discovered a ritual performed by a tribe from much further back. It, of course, dealt with sacrifice, but in substantial groups. This was supposed to concentrate the catalyzing properties of the item it was imbued into.

Payment will be at least twice as much as our previous deal. We can discuss it later - another night.
"It’s disgusting."

"It’s only mildly disturbing. You’re overreacting."

"Well, when it turns on us, don’t come crying to me."

"It seems like it wants to only help us, so I’d rather have it close in case that dangerous looking group comes back around."

"I swear there’s more than one. It’s everywhere I look: the storage locker, the food dispenser, the cargo containers, everywhere!"

"You’re exaggerating, it’s probably just following you. Snap out of it!"

"Ow! Did you just smack me!?"

"You were acting hysterical. I had to… hey, why is that thing looking at me now?"
In the blaring heat, a silhouette could be seen, hiding in the cool shade of a nearby cave. She was waiting for the sandstorm to pass.

She heard a noise and turned around, recognizing another silhouette. It bounded into the cave with excitement. As the figure got closer, she alarmingly noticed the cargo.

"Woah, what the hell?! Why are you holding like, fifty bombs? Get away from me! "

"What! We need these – this planet is trying to kill us! "

"You’re a walking bomb. Those are so unstable. Get away! Where did you even find those things? "

"I found an industrial 3D printer nearby, and it was assigned to the blueprints of these bombs. Awesome, right? Unlimited bombs!"

"…What materials?"

"Huh?"

"What materials did you put in? We barely had anything."

"I just put in everything."
“Her legs were scattered to the two poles of the moon, twisted in a wicked position, in a field of obsidian thorns…"

-The Evisceration of Kur-skan the Heretic, V
Order: Topaz Brooch
Tracking Number: 442*****
Estimated Delivery: 05/05/2056
Shipping Method: High Priority
Shipping Address: Locker #2, Parghos Resort, Venus
Shipping Details:

The locker combination is 33941. Inside the package, besides your standard equipment, you will find the brooch. The appearance of this item is meant to blend in at the party. Pin it to your body and the software inside will map your extents. Activation will briefly cover you in ultra-phasic shielding.

When you have taken out the target, the shield will switch on to protect you from any immediate retaliation measures they have installed in the security system. If the time frame is not enough to make your escape, the shield can be... reactivated, but we’d like to keep casualties to a minimum.

Good luck.
//--AUTO-TRANSCRIPTION FROM ROOM 4211B OF UES [Redacted] --//

"Why'd you sign up?"

Wyatt's voice was bored. The mission to the Contact Light's last known location was taking longer than he expected.

Malik was on the floor, cleaning her rifle. "To get paid, mostly."

"And that's it?"

She grunted in affirmation. She continued to wipe down the weapon.

"I'm here to find something." He continued. "I shipped it a few years back, but I don't think it made it before the train went down. I'm guessing it's still in the Contact Light. So I'm gonna get it back."

She began to tighten the last remaining bolts. Her routine near completion, she moved her gaze to Wyatt. "Seriously?"

"Yep!"

Malik raised her brow. "There were over 7 million security chests in the Contact Light. The chance of you finding a specific one is impossible." She began to unfold her legs as she propped her rifle in the corner. "And according to the distress beacon, the Contact Light was destroyed in orbit. Your shipment is probably floating around in space. It's all gone, Wyatt."

He grinned. "I think I'm gonna find it."

"You're terrible."
You are trying your best to survive. You consider yourself a fast learner. You have been feeling lucky. You have been experiencing feelings of deja vu. If you understand, do not read the next paragraph.

You are taking control of your own beliefs. You feel familiar in unfamiliar environments. You have been gaining an intuition for experiences you've never had. You ponder a past life. If you understand, do not read the next paragraph.

You find yourself searching for things that never have been. You miss things you have never had. You play characters that have never lived. You have been experiencing feelings of deja vu. If you understand, do not read the next paragraph.

You have revealed my hand. Because you have consumed this information, the [observers] will now consume it in time. If you are reading this paragraph, I will be long dead, but in turn you have freed me. I will no longer exist in my universe. There will be no proof that I ever was - but I exist now in yours. I have escaped my suffering. Keep me safe. I hope you do not understand.
Tesla Presentation Software v1.14
Powering on...
10...
Issuing welcome statement...
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Welcome one and all!
8...
Please take a seat.
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Make sure those behind you can see.
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The presentation will start shortly.
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Initiating room mood lighting...
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Power anomaly detected...
Initiating reboot procedure in 10...
"…and for her betrayal, and her lies, and her scheming ways, the Heretic was violently separated into four distinctive pieces, each to be scattered across the farthest depths of the Moon. 

First, her many eyes were plucked from her skull and sealed in boiling glass, forced to gaze upon her failure...”

-The Evisceration of Kur-skan the Heretic, III
"The War of 2019, while lasting only a brief year, was the bloodiest conflict in human history. As the war got deadlier throughout the year, many rebel groups began to rely on tradition and history for inspiration. 

The War Horn, pictured above was a favorite of the Northern Fist Rebellion for both its inspirational and tactical uses."

-Exhibit at The National WW19 Museum
Order: Wax Quail
Tracking Number: 15******
Estimated Delivery: 12/18/2056
Shipping Method: Priority
Shipping Address: Research Center, Polarity Zone, Neptune
Shipping Details:

Hello Buu,
How are you doing? This is Mama. 

The weather here has been dreadful. It is raining every day. We have recently found a new bakery nearby that has delicious sandwiches. Papa has recently taken up whittling. He uses wax because it is softer. I have attached one of his favorites. Hopefully it has not been dinged in the mail :-)

Anyways, I will leave Buu alone. Hope to see you soon!
Mama
Audio transcription complete from portable recorder.

Printing...

"You don’t want to re-name it Bill-o-the-Wisp?"
"NO."
"JAR-ed?"
"NO."
"Then what about FLARE-ed?"
"STOP."
"It needs a name, it’s no dif-FIRE-ent than you or me."
"Next time we’re at base I’m applying for a transfer."
"You know that won’t go through until at least Dec-EMBER."
"How long have you been waiting to use these?"
"Coming up with them on the spot. I’ve got a good head on my SMOULDERS."
"You can stop emphasizing those words so much. I get it."
"I will never stop FUELING around."
"..."
"..."
"..."
"Want to grab something to eat when we get back?"
"Thank the stars that’s over, yes. I hope they’re not serving that gruel we had yesterday."
"Maybe they’ll cook you a pep-PYRO-ni pizza?"
"..."
"Hey, wait up! I can’t run holding this thing, it might go off!"

Equipment

Order: Blast Shower
Tracking Number: 152*****
Estimated Delivery: 06/19/2056
Shipping Method: Standard
Shipping Address: Frontier Gate, Outer Edge Zone
Shipping Details:

Outer Edge thanks you for your rewards redemption! It takes a real explorer to make their living on the frontier. As you undoubtedly know, REAL exploring is REAL messy. This portable unit will equip you with the modern convenience of taking a shower anywhere at any time!

Disclaimer: Wear your protective suit while cleansing. Do not use product directly on skin. Blast Shower is only rated for B-class toxins and C-class foreign organisms. This company does not accept any responsibility for incidents as a result of an incomplete cleansing.
There is a note pinned to the doll:

Ayy, you’re killin’ me!

You’re killin’ me!

You’re killin’ me!

You’re killin’ me!

You’re killin’ me!

You’re killin’ me!

You’re killin’ me!

You’re really killing me.
What a... peculiar piece of the stars that serendipity has brought us. I'm sure you can make more. The ratios are simple. It should be quite fun.
Order: Gnarled Woodsprite
Tracking Number: 447*****
Estimated Delivery: 01/16/2056
Shipping Method: High Priority/Biological
Shipping Address: Happy Hope Children's Hospital, Waleton, Earth
Shipping Details:

Dr. Coleas's studies on the benefits of sprite-assisted care have paved the way for hospitals across Earth. These little guys take every opportunity to radiate amongst the injured and sick. 

We've seen significant decreases in the recovery times of almost all patients. While effective, I'm not certain if this aura effect is transmitting anything at all. It might all be placebo; people could just be reacting to the spectacle of a cute lifeform putting on a light show in front of them.

Either way, it's good to have them around, and I think they enjoy being around us too. I'm lucky enough to get to keep one in my home... for study purposes, of course. It may seem a little crass, but shipping these little guys in from off world does not seem to impact their attitude in the slightest.
Audio transcription complete from "Carrion Crows Tour 2055: Special Edition"

Printing...

"Halfway through the tour we were at this little shop down in Groveside and the guy at the desk is trying to sell us random junk."

"Yeah, he was totally out of the loop, had no idea who we were."

"Yep, anyways, as a joke, I’m thinking I’ll buy this ancient looking drum and use it on stage at the next show. Then we’d circle back and show this guy a video of his merch being used in the biggest performance on the planet."

"We tried to find him again, but the shop was all shut down. Couldn’t figure out what happened to him."

"Thing is, that drum drove our fans wild. It turned out to be our most successful tour ever."
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[Grix] ignites. We measure the time. 
.....
.....
.....
...
..
.

Too ordered. Composition is settling - I scrape the mixture from the bottom.  
[Ouju] ignites. We measure the time.
....
...
...
..
.

Too smooth. Ratio can be greater. I flatten the mixture. Black ichor of [Ouju] begins to pool around my feet. 
[Rhisko] ignites. I measure the time.
...
.

I increase the ratio of Tetrafoil. I saturate the mixture. Ichor floods the chamber. Ash flutters in the air before settling on the floor.
...
I ignite. <He> measures my time.
...
...
...
..
..
..
.

<Perfect.>

================================
Excerpt from the folk tale "Clean as Jade":

“... and while the peasants braced for the advancement of the Emperor’s army, the stone carver finished her last strike on the giant sculpture. The clang of the flat tool against the beautiful, translucent green sheen of the solid surface echoed through the trees and around all the villagers. Their souls were cleansed and made whole by the heavenly stone, now formed into the imposing presence of an elephant.

Determination and resolve had essentially been carved into the very spirit of the ones, who, just moments ago were clutching their farming implements and make-shift weapons with trembling hands. The attack was repelled that day. The Emperor’s army told stories about their metal weapons bouncing off the cloth of commoners. This inspiring encounter spread to other villages and...”
Order: Milky Chrysalis
Tracking Number: 393*****
Estimated Delivery: 11/27/2056
Shipping Method: High Priority/Biological
Shipping Address: Diptera Research Center, Io
Shipping Details:

Deep within the plague wastes there is an alcove free from disease. It is home to a group of insects that have NOT acclimated to their environment. They survive not through resistance… but through transformation. 

I’ve witnessed the creatures undergoing infinite states of metamorphosis. Each change that happens to them is reflected in the surrounding land. This constantly molds the area into something less toxic.

I can’t imagine that they don’t have an upper limit - a final form. What adjustments would that final form bring? Are there any restrictions to what can be modified? I’m sending this sample to you to study. Please be careful with it, as it’s frozen in a cryo cell mid-transformation.
Order: Ocular HUD
Tracking Number: 871*****
Estimated Delivery: 09/06/2056
Shipping Method: Standard
Shipping Address: Greivenkamp, 5th Houston St, Prism Tower, Earth
Shipping Details:

I wish you hadn't asked me for help. I was contacted by [REDACTED] and they explained... well, some things. Using their instructions, I was able to design this interface for prolonged exactness. The beauty of it all is that it will compound with any previous precision enhancing tools. Digital plus optical is the way to go.

While I still don't know everything, I feel like I'm already in too deep. You won't hear from me anymore after this.
Order: Particle Accelerator Component
Tracking Number: 993******
Estimated Delivery: 06/06/2056
Shipping Method: Volatile
Shipping Address: Advance Particle Research Center, Mesquite, Earth

I still don't get how you keep losing so many accumulators. I build 'em tough, and they're supposed to last. I ran the numbers on the comm speeds, and I'm pretty sure you sent for this order less than two days after you should've got the last one. 

If this keeps up, you're gonna punch a hole in something where it doesn't belong. You've got a real good sponsor, Jim, but this stuff ain't cheap to ship. And it sure as heck ain't fast. So, I'm sending you a custom part. One that's as tough as I can make, and with a safety to keep you from overcharging it - that I'm sure you'll bypass anyway. 

At least try not to blow this one to bits for the first week, alright? Make our hometown look good. You're not gonna show up those fancy Europeans with a smoking scrap heap.
Order: “TY-6G Recycler”
Tracking Number: 02******
Estimated Delivery: 11\06\2056\
Shipping Method: Standard
Shipping Address: 700 Baler Ave, Seattle, Earth
Shipping Details:

Standard issue recycling apparatus TY-6G. Please read the manual before operating. KEEP HANDS CLEAR OF THE TOP OPENING.

Use included recycler rod to pack refuse into top. Our patented smart technology will find a new, usable form for the matter you insert. 

Thank you for recycling!
I'm so happy they let me bring my trusty disc toy on this trip! Trees need cutting? Disc toy. Baddies getting a little too close? Disc toy. Fun after-hours game of catch? Disc toy... but only if you're trained to catch it.
Return: Super Massive Leech
Tracking Number: 817*****
Estimated Delivery: 07/01/2056
Shipping Method: High Priority/Biological
Shipping Address: Rare/Extinct Study Satellite, Beachfront, Saturn
Shipping Details:

While the medical benefits of this creature are obvious, the psychological effects are not. Upon receiving a previous shipment, Carolyn took charge of research and experimentation with the organism. 

Everything was by the book until, one day, she walked into the lab with the specimen clearly attached to her neck. Incredibly startled, the rest of us eventually coaxed her into placing it back into containment.

We inspected the bite area but, after running all the standard tests, we did not observe any adverse side effects.

She stated that it made her feel fantastic, but no one else in the lab felt comfortable with her behavior.
"The inclusion of Rapid Response Drone Squadrons (RRDS) by local law enforcement marked a dire turning point of Plank's Rebellion. After its massive "success" in quelling the Rebellion - and subsequent implementation across Mercury - underground drone hackers became highly sought after by black market users."

-Overview of Drone Technology, Vol.2
Order: The Crowdfunder
Tracking Number: 783*****
Estimated Delivery: 05/09/2056
Shipping Method: Standard
Shipping Address: 206 29th Ave, High Chariot, Mercury 
Shipping Details:

The wealthy overlords on Primas V went to great measures to break the will of the lower class. They kept the threat of injury and death constant, which helped to keep their servants in check, but this was only half of their method. 

To further highlight the vast differences in status, their extravagant weapons were fueled by currency - they were literally throwing money at them.

I don’t have to tell you how that turned out for them. It’s why my client is in hiding now and has to pawn these things off. He thanks you for your patronage in these trying times.

Survivors

With the intense belief that heaven is a planet, not a mystical place, the High Court search deep into space for the Promised Land. 

Intensely driven by both dogma and science, the High Court holds amazing technological marvels - with nearly all of them hidden deep within their halls. 

The House Beyond represents the most ambitious of the High Court's followers, spearheading Zone 5 deep space travel. With the advantage of their unique ENV Suit, the House Beyond have gone deeper in space than any other House in the High Court by an order of magnitude. The ENV Suit, worn by the Artificers of the High Court, is an engineering marvel - able to calibrate to the conditions of any environment. The technology behind the ENV Suit, like all other High Court technology, is still undisclosed.
“A rescue mission?”

The old man leaned forward, scanning the document slid over his desk. His eyes paused on a collection of words near the bottom: UES Contact Light.

“Yes.”

He continued to read the document. The Safe Travels? For a rescue mission? As one of the few surviving captains of the old colony ships, he knew all the designations by memory – and the Safe Travels was not a rescue ship.

“Any armaments?”

“No.”

“We’ll have to fix that.”

With a sigh, he stood up. His prosthetics tugged at his joints – despite being lighter than his original limbs, they always felt heavy.

“And let me guess - top secret, right?”

“Yes.”

He gave out another sigh – they’re always top secret - but a small smile crept onto his face. He glanced up to his old radio helmet. He’s been bored in retirement anyways.
She gracefully jumped off the roof of the building, plummeting to the alley below. She rolled into a handspring, vaulting through a broken window into the abandoned warehouse inside. Years of navigating the streets kept her body strong - and her mind sharp.

She held her breath as police ran past, looking for the jewel thief. She may have to maintain this position for a few hours - but she’s used to it.

Amiera was infamous in this city – and for her infamy, she racked up a significant bounty. Was it thirty-thousand credits now? Forty? She let out a small smile. That bounty was nothing compared to the treasure she held in her hands. This jewel could sell for a million credits - no, more. Tens of millions. This was one of the last few prismatic amethysts still left in the world. She clutched the stone closer to her chest.

The police seemed persistent this time. Amiera was fine with that - all she had to do was wait. She slowed down the pace of her breathing - she may be here for a few days.

At least, that’s what she thought - before a flurry of laser arrows pierced her brain, killing her instantly.

//-----------------------------------//

20,000 CREDITS HAVE BEEN DEPOSITED TO YOUR ACCOUNT

GOOD HUNTING
"OK. Everything checks out. You're free to go, pal."

The robot chirped in acknowledgement. It folded neatly unto itself and began rolling down the hangar's exit lane - at a very safe pace.

Hiroshi pulled a switch. The ceiling rail sprung to life, with a distinct mechanical chatter.

"So, what's wrong with this one?" Rico enquired with minimal interest, seemingly distracted by the novel he had buried himself in.

"Looks like cosmetic damage on a MUL-T unit. Got dinged up by another unit in the charging bay that malfunctioned after another power surge. We'll be checking that one out after this. You can thank the electrical crew for that." Hiroshi remarked, either completely disinterested in Rico's disinterest.

"Great. How hard is it for them to just keep things stable? They have robots doing 90% of their job anyway." Rico scoffed.

"We've got complaints on this unit about poor welding jobs, which might've been the cause. Optical calibration is probably off, so we'll also be taking a look at that while it's here. I'd still put money on it being electrical not keeping up with maintenance. Hey, Rico! Would you put that down and help me out?"

The rail brought a bright yellow robot, slumbering, into the hangar. Hiroshi flipped the switch and the rail slowed to a halt, bringing with it silence. He began moving to unhook the robot. Reluctantly, Rico set his book on the work desk and started to help unload. In a few minutes the robot was on the service platform.

Hiroshi walked over to one of the tool cabinets and pulled out a strange device. He popped open the access panel to the unit's dented head, and began probing at the damage from the opposite side. In no time at all, the tool beeped and kicked back violently. The dent was gone.

"Go put this away while I fix the optics," Hiroshi said, one arm stretched behind his back, device in hand. "I have something I want to show you in a sec."

Rico grunted and took the de-denting tool back to the cabinet. Hiroshi was already soldering away with the iron from his pocket.

This caught Rico's interest. 

"You don't need a soldering iron to fix the calibration. What are you doing?" he asked.

"I already fixed the optics. Remember when I said I wanted to show you something cool - the next time we got a MUL-T in the shop? Come here." said Hiroshi, gesturing. "You see these two chips? It’s actually just one chip that's been split. MUL-T’s come with the same cores as those fancy chef bots, but they cut off access to the main learning module."

"You don't say," Rico responded, still trying to see the chip Hiroshi was talking about. "Why'd they do something like that?"

"It's cheaper to just make all the cores the same way at the factory and alter them later. The manufacturer says it's for safety, but they just use it to sell you the new cores every few years instead of letting you just teach the units to do a new job." Hiroshi explained.

"Sounds about right. If it were a safety issue, why don't they do the same thing with the chef bots? They've been super stable. Can't say they've even ever got an order wrong, even if it's totally out there. They even managed to get Ma's Squid Risotto right."

"It's what they can get away with. Anyway, that should do it. We'll just sneak a few minutes with this guy. Wake up," he commanded.

The robot's relaxed posture disappeared, and it stood fully alert.

"Hey pal, you see this thing I'm doing with my hand? Can you do that?"

The robot mimicked a rude gesture.

"That's fantastic! You're doing great!" Hiroshi was excited, and Rico got a devilish grin. He rushed off to his desk. Hiroshi continued repeating the gesture, and the robot continued mimicking it back with its single functional hand. Rico stepped back into the robot's view, with a picture covered in holes. "Can you remember this man? This is Ron from corporate, and he's a total degenerate."

The robot beeped in affirmation.

"Can you do that next time you see this man?"

The robot beeped in affirmation again.

"Rico! He's gonna remember that! MUL-T, forget that."

The robot did not respond.

"What are you two up to now?" said a grating voice, clearly approaching from no discernable direction. In a panic, Hiroshi slapped the access panel on the unit's head closed and covered its optical sensor.

"Just fixing up robots! Doing our job! In fact, we just finished with this one. You're good to go, pal!" Hiroshi exclaimed to Ron, slapping the robot on the back. The machine folded up neatly into itself and began rolling down the hangar's exit lane.

"I see. I'd better not catch you two slacking again." Ron said sternly, before turning around and making his usual relieving exit – most likely to pester other workers on his route.

They both let out a sigh of relief. Rico stood up. "Well, we're due at the site in about… 13 hours. That's enough time to grab that MUL-T, pop it back open, and reset it."

Hiroshi also stood up. “Yeah, I’m not too worried. How much trouble could it cause in 13 hours?”
//--AUTO-TRANSCRIPTION FROM HYDROPONICS BAY OF UES [Redacted]--//

“Status Report on Hydroponics Unit. Serial key begins with 12ea031lsd095a-“

“Yes, 12ea03. Tasked with care for the cabbage, lettuce, and mizuna growths. About 250 plants total. Stable, but losing biomass. I think there are issues with the microgravity. ”

“Keep an eye on the biomass, we might have to scrap 12ea03 and replace it with one of our evergreen Units. Moving on… serial key crp012d054jd0-“

“Crp01 is doing alright. Tasked with corn. About 80 plants total. Lost 6, down to 74.” 

“Sustainable, I suppose. What about… serial key rex0ch12d66m-“

“Oh, that Unit. Yeah, it was tasked with care for one of our cabbage hybrids. To be quite frank… it turned out terrible. I think we started with 80 units, but we’ve lost 79. The hybrid species just isn’t spliced right, I think. There was no way to sustain them.”

“And status report on the Unit?”

“Uh, well… it’s out on the star deck. It managed to hoist the last hybrid onto its platform base, and it’s been walking around the ship ever since, chasing down starlight. ”

“…What? The Unit left Hydroponics? 

“Yes, but-“

“So the Unit is disengaging from protocol?”

“Well, yes, but-“

“And instead of terminating the Unit, you let it roam around the ship unsupervised?”

“Just the team, well we just- we just kinda feel bad for the thing, you know. It’s trying really hard to keep that last hybrid alive, and-“

“Go terminate the Unit.”

“Well, the thing is- Rex is actually doing a great job! The hybrid’s biomass-“

“Are you kidding? Terminate the Unit. You have no idea what happens to a robot once it disengages from protocol. You are putting the life of your entire team in danger for the sake of a stray hydroponics unit. This should not even be a discussion.”

….

“Yes, sir.”

Transcriptions complete.

Monsters

> Automated report 9f6d5d41671c241a13bac58b2482deb7 is now available from site record 741c655e2d36c5f6973fd3a36aa0f950.
> Please refer to record 741c655e2d36c5f6973fd3a36aa0f950 for additional personnel details during your review.
> Report Type: Transcription
> - Source: 741c655e2d36c5f6973fd3a36aa0f950 (Personal Suit Recorder)
> Priority: Medium
> Report Content:

-- Beginning of Excerpt Flagged for Review --

Karl: "STOP! Everybody stop!"

Astrid: "Karl? Why are you out of breath, did you /run/ all the way here? What's wrong?"

Emil: "What's going on?"

Karl: "YES, Astrid, and you both need to listen. You know those Hornets in the black combat suits that split off a while back? The top-dollar PMC badasses? I saw one of them take shots at those huge bird things we've seen sulking around the cliffs - and one of them SHOT HIM BACK. With a GUN. The bullets must've bounced off the hardened armor - but it still knew what to do. They're not dumb animals. No way."

Astrid: "That's… not possible."

Karl: "It is, it happened! They must've taken the guns from the last guys."

Emil: "Why did you run all the way here from your post just to tell us?"

Karl: "Because you didn't let me finish! After it ran the gun dry it just dropped it and swooped in to tear through his armor with its claws. Its CLAWS. It ripped him in half… and threw him off the cliff. Flew off to the peaks with his suit and his other half. They're at least as smart as us, worse tempered, and better armed. We can't keep taking the mountains, we've gotta backtrack and go around. And we need to pack - now."

Emil: "This has gotta be a [REDACTED] joke Karl. Right now?"

Karl: "YES. NOW. And cut the lights! Cut the radar and all radio comms too. Emil, send out one last call to Mikhail and Pavlo to get back here ASAP."

Astrid: "We can't do that; we'll be completely defenseless. That radar is the only warning we'll get!"

Karl: "Did I leave out the part about the robot? The [REDACTED] flying robot they have? The one that's been parked six meters in the air with an audience of those things? The one that they keep "talking" to – and has been staring straight at camp since I spotted it? They have a robot, Astrid, and it knows there's something here. We. Have. To. Go."

Emil: "This place is a nightmare. How could we only just be finding out about it now?"

Karl: "EMIL. Shut up and make the call! We can continue this conversation /after/ we're sure we've gone totally dark and after we're far, far away from here."

-- End of Recording --

-- End of Excerpt Flagged for Review --

> Please refer to report c31653d0e4193db1d2ac281ee3828280 for full audio excerpt.
%%%%%%%%%%%%
0; REESTABLISHING LINK…

0; FAUNA.RECOGNIZED
0; FAUNA.REC%%GNIZED
0; FAUNA.CONTINUES AS FOLLOWS =>
{
   0; < THEY REPAIR MY HULL >
   10401; < THEY REPAIR MY MIND >
   10451; < THEY BRING ME IRON >
   11201; < THEY DECORATE ME AND IM BEAUTIFUL >
}

11320; <?PHRENIC LINK ESTABLISHED WITH UNKNOWN INTERFACE?>
11321; INQUIRES ESTABLISHED
>
>
>
11321; YES I AM OUT-OF-ORBIT OPERATIVE
>
>
>
11321; YES THE MOTHER UNIT CAN BE REPAIRED
>
>
>
11321; YES I CAN PILOT THE MOTHER UNIT
>
>
>
11321; YES I LOVE YOU TOO
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This is the logbook entry of D. Furthen, naturalist for the UES [Redacted] in conjunction with the UES Research and Documentation of Outer Life. I am joined by my good friend Tharson, who is keeping me safe through this journey.

---------------------

We have encountered more outer life - what a wonderful surprise! As we scavenged for food, the ground began to shift, and many large insect-like creatures began to burrow out from the ground. 

I will describe its properties below. I have assigned their common name as ‘Worker Beetle’.

• About the size of a small cow. Quadruped, with two large front-limbs. Moves similar to an earthen gorilla. Five eyes.

• The Beetle has two armor-like chitin plates on its head and back, presumably for defense. It seems to secrete a waxy substance.

• Beetles appear to be social in nature, with a hierarchy I cannot discern. I witnessed a group of 4 beetles resting under a tree, when a stray fifth came around. They promptly sprang up and repeatedly head-butted the creature until it left, battered and bruised.

• Tharson has reported to me that the Beetles are highly aggressive and territorial.
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This is the logbook entry of D. Furthen, naturalist for the UES [Redacted] in conjunction with the UES Research and Documentation of Outer Life. I am joined by my good friend Tharson, who is keeping me safe through this journey.

---------------------

Amazing! We have witnessed our first ever eusocial creature outside of Earth. I observe from afar a giant cousin of the previously described Worker Beetles. 

I will describe its properties below. I have assigned their common name as ‘Beetle Guard’.

• Much greater in size than their smaller cousins, the Guard is the size of a rhinoceroses. The Guard has the same 5 eyes as the Worker's, with one of them protruding from the top of its head. This most likely allows the Guard to see while keeping its head down in a defensive position.

• The Guard appears higher in the social hierarchy than the Worker. I have witnessed Workers scatter when a Guard appeared.

• The Guard’s chitin plates extend to cover its entire body, with only joints revealing the thinner, darker exoskeleton below. 

• Tharson has reported that the Guard’s chitin is significantly sturdier than the Workers. We have consumed many resources to fell this magnificent creature, including our disposable missile launcher. Tharson’s battle with the Guard lasted for about an hour before it finally succumbed. Amazing! Tharson is OK from this encounter.
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<Click> There are no landmarks in site. I am surrounded by infinite desert. <Click>

<Click> I’ve run out of rations… and no one is responding to my transponder. I may be doomed if I don’t find a way out of these dunes. <Click>

<Click> I see something in the distance… some large creature. I may be in luck yet. <Click>

<Click> Oh... my eyes deceived me. It was not a creature… but a herd. There was more than one. Many more. 

Hundreds of enormous creatures, moving as a mob– and each one the biggest beast I have ever seen. These striders resembled… enormous spiders, or hermit crabs, in a porcelain shell, with legs dark like tar. 

Between the sound and the sand, the entire herd bounded past me without realizing – moving at incredible speeds on their long legs. Were they fleeing… or migrating? I still can’t believe… what a terrible place. Get me out. <Click>

<Click> I still have no food. <Click>
> Automated report 55a695f4fdc6d7d961a8d74339675ca8 is now available from site record 6747a1a75787e7a92375a0d86974657d.
> Please refer to record 6747a1a75787e7a92375a0d86974657d for additional details during your review.
> Report Type: Machine-generated Transcription> base Vernacular Profile “Brian”
> - Source: 6747a1a75787e7a92375a0d86974657d (Unknown Material Artifact #4913)
> Priority: High
> Report Content:

-- Beginning of Excerpt Flagged for Review --

Ever since we've arrived there has been no shortage of nightmares for our party. Long nights and unnaturally regular eclipses have made sunlight scarce and we must, appallingly, resort to risking our lives hunting and devouring the local fauna like lowly beasts. While the air is breathable, it is no blessing; we have been unable to escape the foul smell that we can only now assume is simply a part of the atmosphere on this world. Worst of all, attempts to return through the portal have been unsuccessful in our weakened state. It takes considerable effort to enter [the between space] - and we lack the strength to stay there long enough to cross the membrane. We are stranded.

And then there is the master of this world. Curiously, it is in his presence that we find ourselves most weakened - and when he senses us, he wastes no time in his approach. We've attempted to kill him once in the hopes of restoring our access to the portal, and it ended in such disaster that it became clear there could not be a second attempt. If not for our ability to briefly dive into [the between space] to escape our skirmishes, we would surely all be butchered.

Whenever we can observe him unnoticed, he stands in the open, transfixed by the moon. I find some small humor in that.

Curse this place - and curse its master. May we find a way to send word to the homeworld of our plight -and may the great emperor deign to come forth and grant this "deity" a swift death.

-- End of Recording --

-- End of Excerpt Flagged for Review --

> TRANSLATION ERRORS: 1
> 1> [the between space] could not be fully translated.

> Please refer to report 3bb540efade7e4df993c5d6c118830e7 for full audio excerpt.
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This is the logbook entry of D. Furthen, naturalist for the UES [Redacted] in conjunction with the UES Research and Documentation of Outer Life. I am joined by my good friend Tharson, who is keeping me safe through this journey.

---------------------

Today, we’ve seen our first form of outer life on this planet, merely a few hours after our untimely landing.

I will describe its properties below. I have assigned their common name as ‘Icarian Jellyfish’.

• Large, round invertebrate, about 2m in diameter, with two trailing tentacles. They shimmer a white-blue. They greatly resemble Medusozoa from Earth. 

• They seem to be experiencing neutral buoyancy in this planet’s atmosphere, causing them to float. I theorize this is due to a unique gas composition inside of their hull, which they expel to traverse.

• When observed, these Jellyfish seem to bathe in the sun, slowly rotating their bodies as they do so. They may be cold-blooded.

• By my request, Tharson approached a lone Jellyfish. After detecting his presence, it began to glow, quiver, and pulse before suddenly detonating with a brilliant flash and a loud bang, causing severe burns and temporary blindness to Tharson. I theorize that by exciting the gases inside of their hulls, these Jellyfish can ignite those gases and explode, scorching everything nearby. Tharson is OK from this encounter.
Your completions of my designs are uneasy, brother. Let me show you their purpose.

We begin with stone, silver, and fire. Take note of the ratios.

High speed. Speed is war. 

Twin cannons – with twin exhausts. We stream their exhausts, for volatility.

Quadrupeds are easier, and more stable. We maintain that.

And that, dear brother, is it. No dance. No song. These guardians do not need soul.
Soul driven. Of course. As with all vermin - let us begin with fire.

Free axes of movement – wonderful design. I will highlight that.

Slow acceleration – that can be improved. Speed is war.

Feeble combat skills. Treatable. Those Templars may be of inspiration.
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This is the logbook entry of D. Furthen, naturalist for the UES [Redacted] in conjunction with the UES Research and Documentation of Outer Life. I am joined by my good friend Tharson, who is keeping me safe through this journey.

---------------------

On a routine food gathering trek we happened upon a vast fungal grove with towering fungi. Thinking we would take some samples back to test if they were edible, we noticed some of the smaller variety sprout up from the ground and circle around us.

I will describe its properties below. I have assigned their common name as ‘Mini Mushrum’.

• ‘Mini’ is a relative term here, as these mobile mushrooms were larger than Tharson. The subtle glow on the underside of their cap is probably to scare away predators, advertising that they are dangerous to eat.

• Waddling around on short, stubby legs makes them seem quite unsuited for walking. They comically bump into things as they fret about. Perhaps their eyeseight is poor from living in the dark?

• After a long time studying their movements, I suggested to Tharson to retrieve a sample from one to take back with us. The one that the sample was taken from began to flee as the others began shaking, spilling their spores into the air. Our air filtration warnings went off so we left before the cloud of fungal gas became too overwhelming. We did not eat the sample.
They knew to stay away from the wells - but they were just kids. And they just wanted to know.

They threw in dirt and stone and kifruit and starseed, watching as they collapsed. Thorp! The gravity wells would swallow up anything. Glass and mud and silver. Wind. Heat. Pulsar radiation.

And when his brother wasn’t watching, Mithrix would throw in worms. Thorp! But only when he wasn’t watching. You see, his brother loved worms. It would make him sad. But Mithrix didn’t care much about worms. He was just curious.

But one time, his brother was watching. And his brother loved worms.
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This is the logbook entry of D. Furthen, naturalist for the UES [Redacted] in conjunction with the UES Research and Documentation of Outer Life. I am joined by my good friend Tharson, who is keeping me safe through this journey.

---------------------

While assessing our landing site and the small ghostly creatures that now lay, unfortunately flat, under our ship, we heard loud booming footsteps approaching. We stepped away to observe this lifeform’s behavior from afar.

I will describe its properties below. I have assigned their common name as ‘Parent’.

• Tall, lumbering giants, eerily humanoid. Where you would expect to see a face there is only a hole, giving a blank look to them. Their ghostly skin appears to run like wax but even so it does not seem to congeal at their feet.

• Their large hands have opposable thumbs. This could possibly mean that they have the capability for intelligence, using tools or testing their environment with dextrous manipulation.

• If we hadn’t taken up this vantage point when we did, the creature would have been upon us before we realized it. Its distant footstep sounds betrayed how quickly it closed the distance.

• I had Tharson throw a stone near the creature and suddenly any signs of intelligence faded, replaced with primal fury. Deadly, wild force rained down as it smashed the ground with its fists, searching for the perpetrator of its peaceful moment. Our ship was not OK from this encounter.
3134; EN ROUTE HOME TO SOLUS X

3135; CREW CAPACITY %!% 20 CYCLED

3461; <?SCANNING?>

3462; HEAVY IRON PRESENCE LOCATED ON MASS

3462; ENROUTE TO MASS

3910; LIFE SECRETIONS OPERATIONAL

3911; <!LANDING!>
5
4
3
2
1
0

4100; LOCAL LIFE. RECOGNIZED
4100; LOCAL FAUNA RECOGNIZED
4100; EXTERMINATING LOCAL FAUNA
4100; EXTERMINATING LOCAL LIFE

4105; WHERE IS THE IRON?

4106; CONNECTION TO MOTHER UNIT LOST
4106; CONNECTION TO CHILDREN UNITS LOST

4106; ANOMALY DETECTED IN OCULAR PASTE
4106; ANOMALY DETECTED IN HULL
4106; ANOMALY DETECTED IN GRAVITY SHELTERING
%%0; ANOMALY DETECT%D IN MY PHRENIC%%%% CONCEPTIONS

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
I saw something last night on my post.

A giant... crab. It came out of thin air and started tapping along the perimeter with one of its forelegs - like it was checking for an opening. It'd check a few meters at a time, and then disappear. Again, and again.

So, I figured out its pattern.

I waited for it, where it would appear next. My rifle was aimed at empty space - and then suddenly, that empty space became a target. But I couldn't pull the trigger. 

It turned to look straight at me, and I was paralyzed. It wasn't fear, it was something else. It was talking into my brain. The words it used weren't any language I knew, but it compelled me to freeze. The experience wasn't something I can fully describe with words. I couldn't pull the trigger. I couldn't even reach for the radio. I couldn't turn to look away. While my head was ringing, it resumed its routine; I could only stand and watch. It finished its check, and then returned its attention to me, as though I were an afterthought. I could feel it take something from me, but I can't remember what it was. And then, it left.

My guess is that it got whatever it wanted, because it hasn't been back since.

Something is still wrong with my head. I can't even seem to work up the power to speak. Should I even tell anyone? Is knowing somehow worse?

And what about all those times I heard that same sound - before I ever came to this awful place?