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File 154181070584.png - (45.50KB , 800x600 , salq3-title.png )
910105 No. 910105 ID: 8a614b

[pt1: >>/questarch/862495]
[pt2: >>/questarch/883042]
[dis: >>/questdis/120117]
[bte: >>/questdis/96269]
755 posts omitted. Last 100 shown. Expand all images
No. 951777 ID: 977456

Small reminder: You are technically a product of a bioweapon experiment. Mating might be weaponised, possibly even lethal, or some sort of Kiter reprogramming/imprinting thing. Unless you want her to swear fealty to The Kiter and betray you all, or drop dead from infection, you should probably refrain from mating. At least until you get your biology exhaustively examined by reliable experts. I mean, It is probably nothing, but why take risks?
No. 951780 ID: 83bf07

You two can cuddle up after you get some clothes/blankets and snacks. Whatever happens, happens.
No. 951790 ID: 1ed92d

Dude. Seriously. Remember the LAST time you decided to fuck spur of the moment without thinking the emotional consequences through? You are literally STILL dealing with them.

Offer a cuddle instead, unless you feel like seeing what Neumono/Rat Hybrids look like.

....Granted they'd probably be psychically powerful enough to swat Kiter Strans from the sky if you got enough of them together but it's still a bad idea.
No. 951804 ID: f57349

Do not attempt mating procedures.

Before settling in, notify allied residents of the Mistake facility that someone has teleported into this room (it might be wise not to mention your own complicity in violating the secure perimeter) and is willing to trade food for cloth, pursuant to some bafflingly alien philosophical agenda called "dignity." Also, newcomer doesn't actually have any food in-hand yet, it's at some sort of secure cache outside that supposedly only they know how to unlock. So, does the quartermaster have cloth to spare?
No. 951820 ID: 9842dc
File 157670983660.png - (101.31KB , 800x600 , salq3-97.png )

>do not mate
>do not mate
>do not mate
>do not mate
Alright, alright, my conviction that this might be a poor idea wins over this ephemeral feeling of lust.

>get location from her
"<Where is this cache you mentioned?>" I take my hand away from hers. She takes a few seconds to collect herself and shakes her head around.
"<Southeast from the Heartland Structure. I'd need to look outside to properly determine where. Perhaps if you have a map?>"
"<I don't, but I'm sure someone else does.>"
"<I'm sure the glyph walls in this structure must function too. Let me see...>"

She stands up, walks up to what I had thought was an inert wall, and taps it. It springs into life as a full display.
She quietly nods to herself, and starts tapping around a series of glyphs I neither recognise nor can understand.

"<See, yes. Status, environment, external, terrain, view from above. Zoom out.>"
"<I thought that was a wall.>"
"<The Architects were fond of hiding functionality like this into otherwise unused space. A reoccuring theme in their works, things that look simplistic and plain at first glance, yet hiding immense complexity. It's as if they were deliberately trying to keep their works from being understood by outsiders. Some of the tribes considered their works holy, but we were among the tribes who saw their works not as divine artifacts but forgotten utilities, true purpose waiting to be unearthed.>" As she speaks, she moves and pans a map across the wall, centring it on a familiar frustrum as viewed from above.

"<You know a lot about this, apparently. Were you some sort of scholar as well as some sort of tribal princess?>"
"<The Kun tribe have done much to ensure our history does not die out, else we might succumb to the same regression other tribes deliberately sought out. We inhabited the ruins of the Southwestern Apex Structure for generations. It was large enough to house our entire tribe, but after repeated Kiter attack, we were forced to migrate to the Beachside Structure, already fallen into disrepair.>"

She taps on the wall. "<Here's where the cache is.>"
I look at the map.

I've seen this map before. This is... the cache is exactly where the strange crater that had my home spire in a frenzy of activity appeared. The one that didn't resemble any sort of impact from the sky, just as if some column of force had expanded outwards and shoved all the dirt and rock to the sides. A perfectly circular divot in the land.

"<In the crater?>"

She looks to me, then back at the map, then stares where she just indicated, and zooms in on the map.

"<No idea, I was hoping you'd have answers about that. We, that is, the Kiter thought it was a defense mechanism triggered by a patrol, they tried to scrutinize the surrounding area for undiscovered Mistake mines. They sent a very small scout force to the crater itself, figuring any threat had been neutralised. Then only one ecog and one neburi made it back, said something about black armoured hostiles with anti-materiel weaponry, and a weird green snak-->"

I pause and a few dots that were previously unconnected in my head jam themselves together.
Abzu keeps staring at the map, and looks like she's shaking.

"<I-- I thought-->"
"<We'll find a different resource cache. I'll take the blame for this, your being here is my fault after all.>"
"<No! It's not that! That cache was meant to be indestructible! The Kiter couldn't crack it open with anything they had! And now it's just...>" She taps the map a number of times, and it switches to an actual visual feed of the area. I have no idea how, the Kiter have complete orbital supremacy, there should be no functional satellites.
"<It's gone! How? How?!>"

I, hm. I... hm. I don't actually know.

She stares at the wall. "<...More importantly, this means I'm useless to you. What does this mean for me? Are you going to send me back, or throw me outside?>"
No. 951821 ID: b1b4f3

No. She's not useless, she has knowledge of how the facility is designed. That means she can help us with gaining access to its functions. She is, in fact, ESSENTIAL.

Please find her some clothes.
No. 951823 ID: 528d9b

Don't worry about that. I have a feeling Sisiri won't blame you for anything...
Even if she did you won't be throw out like that.

Could you teach me about those symbols? There is an argument for my ignorance since mom can reach my thoughts, but if not me others in this base would find any information about the ancient language and how to operate the machinery very useful.
No. 951828 ID: 2aa5f0

>More importantly, this means I'm useless to you. What does this mean for me? Are you going to send me back, or throw me outside?

...in under a minute you have shown you know more about this complex than some of the brightest minds from 2 different galaxies. If anything you'll fit in just fine.

That does explain where the fruit came from. Really hope we salvaged some seeds from those things and can grow more.
No. 951833 ID: ba56e6

You know things about the facility we evidently do not. Saba will be displeased, but I'm sure Sisirri will see your value.
No. 951835 ID: b1b4f3

Yes, it does sound like the cache was "opened" from Sisirri's arrival and the fruit scattered about, which was found by the arkots. It's possible that the moth and its escort knew the exact location of where the cache wound up.
No. 951838 ID: ba56e6

Pretty sure it's the original box of fruit we found.
No. 951839 ID: 977456

Huh, well possibly Sissi appeared inside of the cache, and just pushed it open like a feeble chick might an egg.
Or its defences are active and lack the range to detect intergalactic attacks, thus just didn't activate.
Then again it might be weak against telefrag types.
But most likely it's ancient apocalyptic-proof paraspatial infinity-shields attempted to directly interpose into the path of Sissiri's genius, and were snuffed aside as like a single blade of grass attempting to hold aloft the full weight of a descending ocean.

But yeah, she seems cool. The locals are pretty relaxed about newcomers so long as they lack murderous inclinations or are neumono.
No. 951840 ID: 8fab7a

>Indestructible, how even
Then perhaps it was moved. Sisirri arrived in that area. Whatever means brought her could have removed the cache. Was there anything particularly important inside?

>kicked out for not contributing
No, you don't think so. The aliens are probably not aware of all these 'utilities', so she's already contributing. Perhaps there are some that could be useful for setting up food production. The ones that allow her to get a full view of the planet will also be useful.

That aside, her skill and control with paraspatial matters is still useful in many regards. Which... gives you a thought. There is a species here - the one whose shape you resemble and parts of your genetic profile is based on - that has an innate empathic link. This link was already attempted hijacked by Voidsong - the unstable rebel fleshweaver gone rogue who interrupted your call - and you presume someone like her ilk could also do this.

You've been using Kiter blocker symbiotes to keep a lid on the danger, but that may not always be a viable option. Could she do anything about that? Having them shielded while in the field could be invaluable during a crisis, as most of the remaining neumono are heavily armed, armored, well-coordinated thanks to their empathy and also rather hard to kill.

Lastly, would her own people be open to negotiations with clearly non-Kiter aliens for, say, food? While they may have exiled her, she could advice other aliens on how best to make a diplomatic foray.

That, or Sisirri's displacement from her base meant that something else was brought back in its stead. Equivalent exchange, perhaps. Do we know if Imperium managed to salvage the base, or is it in the hands of Sisirri's attackers?
No. 951841 ID: 12b116

She needs to get together with Sisirri, we might be able to figure out what to do with both of them. Either way, it's important we let somebody know that we have someone who can help us all figure out how to operate the systems in this place.
No. 951843 ID: 6e6f32

Several will suggest it but no.
You won't be thrown out. The people here aren't monsters. Least of all by me.

And your not useless. Everyone here is a master of something.
Medicine, Mechanical Engineering, Genetics, Computers, Warfare, more...
You're mastery of para-space fits in perfectly.
If we could just put our heads together to get some food everyone would be much less on edge.
No. 951851 ID: 4687fd

Lets not forget to mention that regardless of how in the know she is on planetary politics and the standard citizenry, which as some master psychic, princess/sage/spiritual leader lady should at least be average, which should help the team here gain greater berrings on the situation as a whole.

Also any geographical knowledge of the barren hellscape that was once her home should help.
No. 951852 ID: 4687fd

You are the only person in this structure that is not a foreign alien.
No. 951853 ID: 83bf07

No. This doesn't change anything. You can still help around here. Just the old fashioned way. For now.. cuddle?
No. 951855 ID: f57349

Forget the food. Just explain to the local computer science nerds how to use that interface, ASAP, and they'll be happy to keep you around.
No. 951858 ID: 1ed92d

Tell her to relax, it probably wasn't destroyed, just teleported away. Also, the fruit was delicious. Anyway, the fact that she knows how to use the structure makes her approximately a billion times more useful that "I know where a box of fruit is".
No. 951859 ID: 7cf2fa

So, the artifact's teleport is destructive. Beats out the Kiter. Used properly, we'd be able to do serious damage.

Knowledge of the facility is valuable enough, but even if she lacked it, her paraspacial expertise is valuable, especially for how to develop a jammer.
**Also for a mad scheme I have.**
No. 951872 ID: 3ce8ff

useless? ABSOLUTELY NOT. you are both a paraspacial expert and know much of how this facility works, both things our current group lacks. Knowledge is power
No. 951949 ID: 6474be

Definitely not, knowing these things about this twisty mess of a facility is /very/ valuable to us. Maybe awkwardly apologize for tripping over her stash and having long since raided it?
No. 951957 ID: 977456

Then again, there are already plenty of naked aliens here. By that metric, she is very redundant.
No. 952122 ID: 9842dc
File 157719691992.png - (17.60KB , 800x600 , salq3-98.png )

>facility knowledge
"<You have more knowledge of the facility than the rest of us here combined.>"
>neumono pacification
>paraspace expertise
"<You also have talents that will be very useful. The aliens my form is based upon have some form of latent paraspacial sensitivity they have little control over, and your expertise and different perspective is something I'd like to learn more about if no one else would.>"

Abzu looks at the wall quietly.

"<...this knowledge is not something I was supposed to share so freely, but if it means my own survival, and the preservation of knowledge...>"

She yawns loudly. "<I'll consider this. For now, sleep.>"
The paraspacial jaunt earlier has left me feeling exhausted too.

She sleeps on the couch and I decide to join her. She flicks an ear towards me and squirms, standing up. "<I didn't say I wanted to sleep with you so intimately! You've shown me kindness and understanding but you are still mostly a stranger to me, and a kiter organism whose very breath might contain poisons I'd never recognise. For all I know, skin contact might also cause you to react lethally as well!>"
"<I'm more than just a weapon. Also, the Kiter do not do things that subtly even in Shadow Fleet. If I was that lethal on contact, you'd already be dead. As for me, I'm built to resist toxins that could render a planet devoid of life. There's no threat here.>"
"<You do not have my permission to...>" She trails off. "<You don't have my permission.>"
"<Your permission to what?>"

She stares at me completely stunned, then holds her hands out, eyes narrowed.
Without expecting it, I am completely surprised and taken aback to be hoisted up via paraspacial manipulation and gently dropped onto the cold floor.

Abzu lies back on the couch. "<Your mind is clouded and shrouded from me. Your intentions are selfish and driven by lust for something you only partially understand. If you try to touch me again, I can do worse than put you on the floor.>"
"<I'm not sleeping on the floor.>"
"<You're not sleeping on this couch.>"
"<You have no authority here!>"
"<This is hallowed ground to my people! I have greater authority and a greater right to be here than an alien invader!>"

Ugh. Whatever. Too tired to care. "<Whatever. I'm going to sleep.>"

I don't let her know, but I can feel her ambivalent emotions towards me as symbol of her people's ruin and unlikely saviour, and the confused, awkward feelings of someone who has spent a lot of time keeping their baser instincts in check now thrown into a situation where all the old limitations and restrictions are no longer externally enforced. I can't say I'm unfamiliar with the situation.

It's beginning to feel less a question on if we'll copulate and more when. But I felt close to Ekasarra too. I don't know what I want. I know Abzu about as well as I did Ekasarra. I'm confused. Ekasarra saw something in me that might have been more of a reflection of her own mental state than mine. Abzu has seen who I am to levels I can't be comfortable with myself.

I might as well stop lying to myself. I want to mate with her. I don't know if she wants the same. I don't know if the context is right to even ask. I don't know if it will be another decision I regret. It's not even pure lust driving me, it's... what is this? Let me try and pull at this baser desire. Where does this thread go? Hm. Desire to... keep. Subjugate. Conquer. Claim. Consume. Treating other thinking, feeling beings as objects to use and consume. Waste nothing. Use everything. Is that what's driving me? Is that what's driving my every action? Is the only reason I feel emotional connection with anyone a motivating factor for me to act as another cell in the kiter superorganism? What benefit does anyone get from a constructed organism feeling lust towards a member of a species designated for harvesting and processing? My mind is an artificial composite. Are any of my thoughts mine? What is 'me'? Can I trust any thought I ever have to be something I earnestly believe, earnestly feel, or just another simulated impulse to make me do whatever my original purpose was? Can I ever truly connect on an emotional level to anyone born from random chance and circumstance, desperately unhappy, seeking purpose as though it will make them fulfilled?

Abzu wants purpose but she has no idea how little it will help. I had purpose and it's making me just as miserable. At least she can rest easy knowing her thoughts are her own.
I'm starting to doubt if any of my choices are mine. Was I meant to breed with Ekasarra as part of a second generation field implementation of the next stage of whatever Voidsong had planned?
Did Voidsong even fully understand what she was doing, or was she just also acting as part of the kiter machinery?

"<...sleep well, Lackey.>"


"<You too.>"

I'm not sleeping any time soon with a mind this active. I don't know what to do. I don't think Abzu is actually sleeping either. Maybe I should ask her what's on her mind, but I have a feeling she probably doesn't want to discuss her conflicting feelings towards me with, I don't know, me.

I'm physically exhausted but my brain won't shut up. Agh.

"<Lackey... have you ever felt... no, never mind.>"
"<Felt what?>"
"<Have you ever loved anyone?>"
"<I'm not sure.>"
"<Not sure?>"
"<'Love' is a very broad concept that's less a binary quality and more of a multi-dimensional space. Why?>"
"<I don't know. I don't think I have. I was always told I was too impersonal and that I'd never understand what it meant to connect with someone on an individual level, and I'm worried they were right. I'm worried I spent my life so worried about 'my people' I never focused properly on the people right in front of me. My family is gone, my friends are gone, I just... stopped trying to connect to people.>"
"<Why are you telling me this?>"
"<I have no one else to tell it to. Sorry. I'm just... I'm trying to understand what has happened to me in the past few days. Why it happened, how people I fought for would turn on me so quickly. And now I'm in a room with a former kiter soldier pouring my heart out to them. It's hard to sleep like this.>"
"<I have some revelations buzzing in my head too. Mostly on whether I can trust if any of my thoughts and actions were ever my own. It's for me to work through, though. You're a born organism, you don't have the same set of worries and concerns to work through.>"
"<I spent my life soaking up the tribal traditions and customs of my people as holy writ and unquestionable fact. I think I can understand having doubts about the core of your identity.>"
"<It's not the same thing.>"
"<I think it's more the same thing than you want to admit.>"
"<...I'm worried I'm attracted to you and it's for all the wrong reasons.>"

Abzu is quiet.

"<...that makes two of us, then,>" she says, and I can feel her embarrassment like a spotlight in the middle of the night.
"<What do we do, then?>"
"<Make better decisions in the morning.>"
"<What about now?>"
"<I can't sleep. You can't sleep. We're both too tired to do anything else. Do you have any more questions about the kiter?>"
"<A lot. What about the peshgiene?>"

Do I have questions about her species and culture? I'm a little fuzzy right now.
No. 952123 ID: 6e6f32

>tribal traditions and customs
Culture itself sound's like it's a foreign concept to the Kiter.
People seem to find meaning in the strangest things.

Tell her you don't know what to ask, so maybe she could just tell you about those traditions and customs?
Maybe you'll find questions as she goes.
No. 952125 ID: 094652

Focus on questions related to the spire. It was there when the Peshgiene colonized this planet, and it hasn't been occupied. The more you know about your own mysterious base, the more you can squeeze out of it.
No. 952126 ID: 8fab7a

How did the Peshgiene come to be?

Also, they weren't natives, right? Yet she claims they have more right to the structures here than anyone else. Doesn't that exclude any original natives?
No. 952127 ID: 2aa5f0

so does her tribe have a way to contact other spires or is everyone isolated from each other and if they do have ways to contact each other does that mean we could contact others from the spire without worrying about the kiter listening in? And if so should we bother to try and make contact or do you think that would cause more problems then it's worth?
No. 952130 ID: 3ce8ff

>Can I trust any thought I ever have to be something I earnestly believe, earnestly feel[...]
you doubt therefore you think, therefore you are
No. 952132 ID: f57349

If you're not going to sleep after all, get back in touch with those folks from other galaxies and tell them about the wall panels.
No. 952140 ID: 8389c4

What's with the Khepalli and their leaders? Oh wait, 1045 missed the news.
How was her government set up? Who's her successor?
How was she able to fight back? The Kiter are built for war.
What's the successor's plot to beat the Kiter? You're the best to criticize.
Since 1045 failed to notify people, I'm now taking bets on Eka seeing him with some gal without clothes and jumping to conclusions.
No. 952142 ID: 528d9b

It's my understanding that her people integrated some ideas from those bored immortals bellow us. How does that work for a mortal race? Earlier she admitted that her lack of motivation and her drive for survival were separate. Isn't the absolutely indifference foreign to their experience?
No. 952143 ID: 83bf07

Child rearing
Wait no
No. 952144 ID: ba56e6

It would be hypocritical of us to claim that all of your most recent decisions have been your own. But rest assured that you are no longer guided solely by Kiter programming.
No. 952231 ID: 1ed92d

Does her culture appreciate hugs?
No. 952235 ID: a506f7

For that better wait until we get some cloth separating us. Will make it clear both to our subconscious and to whoever will inevitably walk in on us that it's platonic.
No. 952262 ID: 977456

You seriously need to get over this breeding thing. There is a time and a place for romance, and neither of those coexist with any situation where the lives of everyone you might, theoretically, care about, is dependent upon social cohesion. You already have one rapidly-expanding social crater in the base from Void "Dame Doofiest Doofus" Song's incompetence at incorporating a neumono sex drive into an otherwise technological-reproduction-optimised design. Seriously! Thousands of precisely balanced Kiter elements and then a great slab of neumono hammered in with a mallet...
No. 952266 ID: 720148

Perhaps all this rampant lust is a result of some part of the neumono biology? You are the first test of the application of its genetic code.
No. 952443 ID: 9842dc
File 157780093976.png - (11.10KB , 800x600 , salq3-99.png )

>get over this breeding thing
I just want to know why it feels almost more compelling than the remnants of my kiter training. What is going on?

>you are
I'm not sure how much of a "me" there is in the me-who-doubts, but I suppose there's enough there to know I'm something more than just the sum of the perspectives and knowledge smushed together into a mind never meant to ask many questions.

>ask about traditions and customs
>how is the government set up
>ask if the tribes have a way to contact each other
"<How is your tribal government set up? Do the tribes have ways of staying in contact?>"
"<We used to spread messages between tribes by dreamwalkers, nominated representatives skilled both in diplomacy and paraspacial talent. They would journey in pairs, one to scout the way, one to keep the message unchanged by the journey. The tribes went their own ways after the dreamwalker paths were destroyed by the invasion. It was the first of our infrastructure to fall, shredded by alien noise drowning our dreamscapes in hostile storms.>"
"<Your people relied on dreams?>"
"<No. Not quite. The experience of paraspacial travel is much like a waking dream, and it is the clearest description to those who have no ability to voluntarily cast themselves into the ether.>"
"<So what happened? To the tribes?>"

Abzu sighs. "<I don't know. We can't even send physical messengers anymore without them being caught. I don't know how many tribes are left.>"

>who is her successor
>how is her successor planning to fight back
"<If you were the leader or next in line to inherit, who is leading the Kun tribe now?>"

Abzu is quiet. "<I don't know. I don't want to think about it. In the Kun tribe, bloodline was always second to wisdom, and in failing the tribe, I've failed my bloodline. It's almost like a blessing no one of my direct family is around to see what I've done. Undoubtedly, someone else will stand up and claim order where no one else will, and if they prove themselves foolish, they'll... just fall apart into smaller clans and disperse, and dissolve into just... nothing.>"

She tears up and sniffs.

"<Can we... can we not talk about my tribe anymore, please? I need more time to... to feel...>"
"<I'm sorry. It was the first thing that came to my mind.>"

>how did she fight back
>ask why the native species don't have a greater claim
I really want to ask these, but probably not now.

>ask how the peshgiene came to be
"<How did your species come to be? This world isn't their homeworld, as you've said. Where did they come from?>"
"<A beautiful emerald jewel of a world many systems from here. Where, we no longer know. All we know is the Kiter were devouring it as the few peshgiene that fled here, so I would expect it to be a dead rock scoured clean of all life.>"

She starts tearing up again. "<This world was beautiful until the Kiter came. I was a small child when the first ripples of the horror to come rippled through paraspace. I was too young to be formally taught, but my dreams were twisted and misshapen more and more. Odd things, at first, confusing but benign. A table made of moss. A hovering green vine. Then, hungering presences, then, pulsating forms, jaws, eyes, thousands of eyes in the darkness. One day the Kun dreamwalkers just never came back once. They were walking the paths and then... No one was sure what had happened, but their bodies were cold. I remember. I was the first to find them I remember the blood on their faces from their eyes and mouths, like something had just reached inside their heads and squeezed.>"

I shiver.
No. 952444 ID: 9842dc
File 157780096277.png - (8.97KB , 800x600 , salq3-100.png )

"<But I wasn't scared to learn how to dreamwalk, to learn the paraspacial arts. Well, I was, but not enough. I thought if I learned how to fight and defend myself in both worlds, I'd be safe from whatever ambushed our dreamwalkers. And I could keep others safe.>"

She laughs bitterly. "<One of those even turned out to be true.>"
"<Why did you discover the dead dreamwalkers first?>"

Abzu sniffs again, a tear rolling down her face. "<One of the dreamwalkers was my mother. The tribal chief was my father. My brother disappeared days later, swearing vengeance on the first of the horrible creatures to touch down on our world. My father tried to stop him, but he left in the middle of the night. We never saw him again.>" She sniffs again. "<I've... had many years to come to terms with it, and my father... my father may or may not be alive, but it's been long enough I dread the worst. He exiled himself from the tribe only a year ago, and chose to go out to seek an answer to the end of the peshgiene. I begged to go with him, but he said my destiny was to lead the Kun tribe.>"

She wipes her tears away. "<In another time, he might have even been right.>"

"<Family seems important to you,>" I say, not quite sure why it is. "<And others.>"
"<Do kiter understand family?>"
"<Outmoded concept,>" I say, rolling over. "<Family is relationship via genetic descent and such concepts do not make sense when our population is designed and manufactured in batches for specific purposes.>"
"<What about the others in the same batch as you?>"

I tense as a flood of recollection of neburi hive members, carax brood mates and neno fi pods hits me, ancient, ancient memories and imperatives and social structures contorted and repurposed into newer forms subservient to the Kiter machinery and systems.

"<Do you at least know what friends are?>"
"<Yes,>" I say, seeing the deaths of people dead long before I was ever born flit around my conscious awareness. I can't grasp their names or who they were, but I know they were important to the ones who came before me.

"<Kiter soldiers can understand and know friendship, can they? I've never seen any that display it. All I've seen are soldiers acting at best like machines, in synchronicity with no fear of death. How can you all be remorseless killing engines and yet still have the capacity for any positive connection? The contradiction is-->"
No. 952445 ID: 9842dc
File 157780100296.png - (21.63KB , 800x600 , salq3-101.png )

Something in me finally snaps, patchwork memories snarled as pieces fit together. That's it. Contradiction. It's all a contradiction. All of it. All of it.

"<The contradiction is everything!>" I shout out. "<Everything in the Kiter Empire is contradiction! Everything is made to be unbreakable and yet to be broken! Everything is set up to sustain itself in an unsustainable manner! Nothing makes any sense yet everyone understands the part they play in it! We know it's all designed to fail yet we struggle as if it isn't!!>"

I stand up and slam my hands against the wall.

"<They know! They know! All the upper echelons! They have to know, they have to know it's all going to collapse! This entire fleet, this entire thing is a... is a fortress made of sand, waiting to be swept away by the tide of time! And we just keep building more sand onto it, and we keep digging up the sand, and we build it taller, and we watch the waves come, and we build it taller, and we dig more sand, and the waves are eroding it at the foundation but we still dig up the sand and we still keep building because when it all comes falling down, we'll still have a massive pile of sand to work with to do it all over again!>"

Abzu leaps to her feet. At first she's alarmed, but as she processes what I just said, her alarm slowly boils to anger. "<It's all for nothing? It's all for nothing?! They're chewing our world to the dry rock for nothing?!>"


I slam my fists into the wall more. I'm furious. I'm livid. All the pieces fit together and nothing makes sense.

The Kiter destiny is to eat itself forever. A never ending cycle of consumption of the other and repurposing into the self, ultimately revealed as a cycle of consumption of the self, forever, forever.

It's all so clear to me now.

That's why they call them the Mistake.

The stran are the same. The exact same. Instead of despairing at their own death, they chose to embrace it. To die and be reborn, over and over and over and over and over, no matter what it takes to do it. No matter how many other species they swallow, no matter how many cultures they destroy. Everything to feed the cycle.

A stran can die, but the stran never will.

And they're still as wrong.
No. 952446 ID: 9842dc
File 157780102361.png - (15.56KB , 800x600 , salq3-102.png )

The door slides open, and Ekasarra is just outside.

She sees me smashing my fists into a solid steel wall, and Abzu sitting on the couch, head in hands. I can feel Ekasarra flinch as I punch the wall again.

I don't even need to look at her to pick up on her empathy being at first overwhelmed by the sheer rage and hatred I'm almost burning with.

"...is... this a bad time?" She looks at Abzu, a little confused, mostly trying to keep my empathy from drowning her.

"<What do you want,>" I spit at her, not realising I'm speaking in the wrong language until I've already said it.
"What do you want, Ekasarra."
"Kitsiksu told me to come find you, I..."

She meekly stammers. "Who is, uh, who is, um, that?"
"Abzu. Peshgiene, disgraced exile of the Kun tribe. I'll introduce you properly later. What does Kitsiksu want with me now? Is he running low on test subjects?"

Abzu opens her mouth to ask something, looks between me and Ekasarra, and decides against it. She shuffles a little and covers herself with her tail, meekly turning away from the door.

"Why are you so mad?"
"The universe is mad."
"I... uh... just... look at me, Lackey, there's a reason Kitsiksu wants to see you. I think he said something about a 'flagrant violation of thermodynamics'? Wanted you to explain something? All I know is this isn't in any way normal."

I turn and look and Ekasarra... is looking a little different to how I remember her looking.

"<Who is this? She doesn't look like a kiter soldier. Do you know her?>"
No. 952448 ID: 2aa5f0

><Who is this? She doesn't look like a kiter soldier. Do you know her?>
<She's an alien from another galaxy that got stuck here chasing someone for a crime they thought they might commit someday based off false information given to her and her tribe by a malicious third party and isn't handling it well.>

>Why are you so mad?
I'm remembering my past lives and the knowledge is pissing me off.
No. 952450 ID: 094652

>Why are you so mad?
"Because the Kiter are insane and they had the gall to write that insanity into me. Billions of self-contradicting orders, infighting made a national policy, and the leaders are smiling at the fact that they will reach the top of the food chain and still die with no lasting legacy. The empire only exists for one endless purpose: to exterminate culture endlessly. Even its own.

And Imperium is planning to stop them by achieving what they want, but permanently."

>What do
Ask Abzu how to mend a relationship as @#$%ed as yours, especially with bipolar disorder, and then leave and let the girls talk it out.
No. 952452 ID: a9af05

>I turn and look and Ekasarra...is looking a little different to how I remember her looking.
That's because her belly is a little bigger than the last time you saw her.

Now I don't know much about neumono pregnancies, but I'm pretty sure she shouldn't look like that after only a few days or however long ago that happened.

Seems to me that baby is growing faster than its supposed to be growing. Which might actually be why Kitsiksu wants to see you.
No. 952454 ID: f5f5c9

"I'm mad because the Kiter are stupid in ways I didn't know were even possible and I've only just realised it."

Eksarra looks different, did the Kiter ever teach you about how non-Kiter organisms reproduce? I think that's what's happening at the moment, except I don't think it's supposed to progress that quickly?

Maybe you should see Kitsiksu, if only to figure out why you might be a father so soon.
No. 952456 ID: 83bf07

Introspection. Realization of how Kiter work. Same as usual.
No. 952460 ID: b1b4f3

First, try to calm down. Agitation isn't healthy for you. Speaking of which, how are you feeling?
Then introduce Ekasarra as one of the aliens taking shelter here, she's not a neno-fi even though she looks similar.
Also tell Ekasarra that Abzu needs some clothes before she's willing to leave this room and meet the others.

Then go see what Kitsiksu wants.
No. 952464 ID: 0a2444

Introduce everyone, collect yourself, and go see what kikitsu wants. It seems like we need above all else to figure out a way to kill the Stran for good and stop the cycle. Hopefully they will have some insight into this
No. 952467 ID: 977456

>I just want to know why it feels almost more compelling than the remnants of my kiter training. What is going on?
Well, for one, it is mostly unfamiliar to the current generation of kiter, and your neumono parts are only a few days old. You have not developed the resistance that more experienced creatures have.
We have no idea what Voidsong was planning, this might be deliberate. Eka's unnatural pace supports this. Maybe Voidsong wanted proxies?
Evolution. Even the Kiter evolved by breeding, and you have a new injection of neumono, which might even have awakened old kiter scripts. An arbitrary and overwhelming urge to breed increases odds of breeding and thus is promoted, over gobwads of years, resulting in you.
Fortunately the breeding urge is overwhelming and arbitrary to the point of insanity. These are both hostile elements. If you can train yourself to recognise the urge, and remind yourself that there is no actual way to justify it, and that it is, more-or-less, an enemy, you should be able to dismiss it. Unfortunately, it has evolved to counter such things directly, not to the point of immunity, but it undermines self-reflection, rationality, and independence, so fighting it off isn't easy. However, given the current need for group cohesion, and the harm that breeding would do to that right now, you must find a way to resist.

Tell Ekasarra that Abzu wanted clothes.
No. 952468 ID: ba56e6

One of the locals. She's not into the nudist culture here yet so we should find her some clothes.
No. 952471 ID: f57349

>"<Who is this?
Eskarra, a neumono of the Ashes Astra tribe.
>She doesn't look like a kiter soldier.
That's correct, she's from a world very far away which knows nothing of the kiter.
>Do you know her?>"
She's carrying my child.
No. 952483 ID: c86314

>They would journey in pairs, one to scout the way, one to keep the message unchanged by the journey. The tribes went their own ways after the dreamwalker paths were destroyed by the invasion. It was the first of our infrastructure to fall, shredded by alien noise drowning our dreamscapes in hostile storms.
Well that makes the moth's story iffy. Still plausible, but iffy.
I'm a bit confused. The sand bit sounds like outside attack, but the self eating sounds like civil war.
Will the Kiter fall by civil war, a foreign war, or simply by whatever kills them?
How does that differ from other empires that fall, but try to rebuild?
>That's why they call them the Mistake.
Imperium calls them that as well. Coincidence? File that away.

Oh, and specify that Abzu's a paraspace expert. If they wish to talk with her, tell them to get someone who speaks the local language. Saba's gonna have a field day with this...
No. 952490 ID: 2202fb

Yeeah, Ekasarra is growing faster that should be physically possible, and since she hasn't been literally eating constantly, that could very well be violating the laws of thermodynamics by creating things out of nothing.
No. 952491 ID: 2202fb

Additionally, Lackey's breeding urges may be by design in some sort of scheme by voidsong to do mad science. It may be a good idea to find ways of nullifying it at least temporarily although sterilization may be the only option.
No. 952493 ID: b1b4f3

No, it's been revealed that Imperium is either working with the Kiter or did so at some point in the past. It's not unreasonable for it to have picked up some of their terminology.
No. 952507 ID: 1ed92d

Tell your Peshgiene friend that Neumono are actually foreign to the Kiter and you were more or less made as a prototype demonstrator of Kiter-Super-Neumono-Hybrids.

Tell Ekasarra that you're angry because you just realized something stupid and it's frustrating.

Ask what she means by 'flagrant violation of thermodynamics'. Has Kitsiksu noticed the machines in this place have been running without fail for multiple galactic rotations yet?
No. 952510 ID: 3ce8ff

I'll share something that occured to me: Ignorance is bliss, not because ignorance causes happiness, but because reality is sad and frustrating, and the knowledge and realisation of that is depressing.
Probably not pleasant, but, hopefully insightful. After all, knowledge is still power... *sad sigh*
There is no going back after the bliss of ignorance is lost.
No. 952511 ID: 6e6f32

Well she looks concerned, also Holy shit that pregnancy is progressing rapidly.
But that's not for now.

Tell her she's not Kiter, and that she's someone you trust.
Ask Ekasarra to stay with her and maybe contact Sissiri or Tirzi about her, privately.
No. 952524 ID: 465a14

Ask how she gained so much weight. Has she been eating to try and fill the emotional void left behind by basically everything? Because that probably won't work.
No. 952555 ID: 91ee5f

Don’t say this. There’s no need to be rude like that.
No. 954870 ID: 9842dc
File 158034565458.png - (11.55KB , 800x600 , salq3-103.png )

No. No, I don't want that. The only effective means would be crippling in other ways. Otherwise my natural kiter resilience and inherited neumono regeneration mean any changes made, my body will fight.
Also, even if I had the option, I'd rather not lose functionality.

>larger belly
>neumono pregnancy
I'm... vaguely aware of... no I have no idea how it works for this species. This is abnormal? Her empathy is definitely very constrained and anxious, barely suppressed panic. I believe neumono are not very well skilled at hiding their emotional paraspatial emanations. Empathy. Whatever the term.

>how did she gain so much weight
Ah. That's probably what that is. Fat patterning for neumono. I haven't seen any larger neumono, so it must just be rapid metabolism at work with an overindulgence in food. I won't judge her, openly.

>who is she
"<This is Ekasarra. She is...>" I trail off. "<She is someone I know. I am a prototype of a kiter variant of her species, the neumono. Other aliens.>"

Abzu looks a little alarmed, but is silent, looking to the floor and trying to cover herself more.

"<I'm needed elsewhere.> Ekasarra, look after Abzu and make sure she doesn't do anything suspicious."
"Kitsiksu wants us both there. He stressed he, uh, wanted us both."
"Okay. Then someone else needs to come here."
"I'll tell-- oh, right, no, never mind." From her confident assurance followed by immediate empathic flood of embarassment, I guess Ekasarra was about to do something her old cybernetics allowed her to.
"<Abzu, stay here for now. Someone else will come to look after you. I'll tell them to bring you clothes. Understand?>"
"<Yes. I can wait. My patience has been tested in more difficult trials.>"

I nod to Abzu, and we both leave the room.

I make sure to lock the door from the outside, just to be safe.
No. 954871 ID: 9842dc
File 158034571492.png - (11.04KB , 800x600 , salq3-104.png )

Ekasarra leads me down the corridor wordlessly to whatever room Kitsiksu is set up in.

I say nothing either.

Her empathy is a roiling mass of despair, isolation, fear and panic. Mostly related to her stomach. I suppose it might not just be food storage after all.
Mine I pull inward, hide my thoughts from the prying eyes of those around me. Tricks learned through flickering lifetimes as neno fi. The more I draw away, the colder my psyche feels. I am numbed to my own thoughts and emotions. I clear the surface of my mind and submerge all I can think of.

I don't trust Ekasarra and I don't want her to know this. I don't want to reveal anything of how I feel about her right now.

She suddenly pauses and turns around, only to be surprised when I'm right behind her, jumping and yelping.

"Ah! Where did you go?!"
"You just disappeared, I mean, it felt like..."
"I'm not in any mood for shenanigans right now, Ekasarra. Take me to Kitsiksu."
"But..." She trails off nervously, looking at my increasingly irritated face. "I don't understand... never mind, let's keep going."

She takes a few more steps and turns back to face me as if I'm not there.

"You... aren't, like, projecting an image or something of yourself, are you?" She looks confused and a little annoyed. "Kitsiksu needs you there in person, please don't start messing with me with your weird psychic powers or whatever!"
"If I wanted to waste that much effort I'd just teleport there instead of walking."
"I can't feel your empathy at all."

Ah. Ah, dammit. I didn't factor in absence being something that'd be notable in its own right. I begrudgingly uncoil my emotional disarray so only a smudge of my general disdain for the situation emerges. She winces and looks about as unhappy.
I'm also unhappy. The emotional withdrawal wasn't just to keep my disdain of Ekasarra from her so much as it was to not have to deal with it myself.

I sigh and just drop my concentration, spilling my emotions out like I just upended a fluid container onto the floor.

Ekasarra visibly jumps at the close range burst of my empathy. "Ghk! Agh!" She squirms like ice just fell down her back. "Stop it!"
"Stop what?"
"Stop doing weird things! I can't cope with much more right now! Please!"
"You realise this entire situation is all purely your fault, correct?"

Ekasarra stops and clenches her hands into fists. She doesn't say anything but her fur stands up on end and I can feel the spike of previously muted anger and annoyance flare like a lit match into a burning bright flame of rage. "Say that again."
"Sure. Why not. This entire situation is all your fault."
"What part of it," she says, breathing slowly and turning to face me, "is my fault?"
"The part where you used my genetic material to--"
"No," she says, seething. "All I was to you was a curiosity and an object to fuck without consequence. Then when there were consequences, you decided to betray my trust in you at the very first opportunity. I thought we had a deeper connection. I thought we could be something more together." She tears up, still furious. "Do you know how hard it was for me to think clearly around you?! I don't even know why I agreed in the first place!! I'd never sleep with a rogue before, let alone some patchwork monster made up like a neumono!! Then there was that stunt where I wasn't even sure who I was after you doused me in more psychic nonsense! I'm not even sure the ideas I had were even my own!! I don't even know who Ekasarra is right now but I do know she's probably going to be ripped apart by some fucking awful monster from the inside!"

She swings at the wall next to me and recoils in pain, having just punched a steel wall with more force than I suspect she intended. She looks at me, still teary-eyed, and storms off, before beckoning me to follow her via angry arm sweeps.
No. 954872 ID: 9842dc
File 158034573856.png - (22.17KB , 800x600 , salq3-105.png )

I walk into a small room on the same corridor as the room housing Sisirri's arkots.

Inside, I'm met with Kitsiksu who appears to be moving around medical equipment. He pauses, glances over to Ekasarra and myself, and continues moving around medical equipment.

"He's here," says Ekasarra, now trying to avoid even looking in my direction.

The salikai pauses, and nods, before making some notes on one of the input tablets this place seems to have in abundance. "Please lie down as before, Lackey." He gestures to a vaguely cylindrical surface not unlike the one I was on previously.
"Explain what you need me for first," I say.
"Ekasarra, lie down on the other surface."
"That's not an explanation," I say, refusing to go near the cylindrical surface.

Kitsiksu's strange fungal eye growths flick and twitch. "I don't tend to give explanations to non-compliant patients. I find little reason to start now."
"I don't trust you."
"I get that a lot," says Kitsiksu, as he picks up a scanner. "It makes no difference to me one way or the other. Comply and Ekasarra lives, refuse and she could die."
"Wait, what?" says Ekasarra.
"Breathe this," says Kitsiksu, passing a tube to Ekasarra. "There's no neumono form factor gas masks here, so try to make as much of a seal with your mouth as you can. Past your teeth. I'll put a band around your muzzle after to ideally keep it in your mouth." He starts placing sensor nodes onto her body and restraining her arms as before, except Ekasarra definitely seems a lot less at ease than this time, eyes wide open.

"Kitsiksu, what are you doing?"
"I need more time to figure out a solution to this problem. I don't know how tightly integrated into your biology this anomaly is, and so I need to make time. I'm going to sedate you and slow your metabolism down to give us more time." One of his eye-tendrils points towards me. "We might need a lot more time, given certain... non-compliant factors." He looks directly at me.
"So I'll... just be asleep?"
"...Yes. It will just be like sleep. You won't feel a thing, and when you wake up, the problem will be solved." His tone of voice sounds almost oddly compassionate given his usual terse demeanour. "My priority is to preserve your life. Sisirri would have my head if anything happened to her favourite neumono, after all."

Kitsiksu gently helps Ekasarra bite down on the tube, and she looks up, scared but trusting. As he wraps a fabric band around her snout, he goes back to placing sensor beads over her body, watching up at a screen showing readouts in abbreviations and text I can't understand. It's the language called English and I know the script, but I don't know the medical jargon used in Kitsiksu's culture of origin.

"Out like the flick of a switch," he says after a few minutes. "It is amazing how something as tough to disable as the neumono consciousness can be just as vulnerable to the right mixture of gases as more frail oxygen breathers."
"You're hiding something," I say. "You don't have empathy, but I don't need empathy to read intentions. I don't need paraspacial insight, either, you obviously didn't give her the full truth."
"Of course I am," snaps Kitsiksu. "Panic won't help anyone. This may come as a surprise to you, but I would prefer Ekasarra alive and healthy, and not dying of a mysterious alien affliction." He looks me dead in the eyes, but does not continue, quietly returning to the readouts on the screen.
No. 954873 ID: 9842dc
File 158034576181.png - (11.25KB , 800x600 , salq3-106.png )

"This is a living nightmare," says Kitsiksu. "I've seen nothing like it. By all accounts, Ekasarra should be dead with the amount of material and energy required for something to grow this fast and this quickly. Most of it is low density fluid sacs but the fluid still has to come from something. She thinks she's only feeling slight discomfort but her entire metabolism is on the brink of collapse. It's interfering with her neurology. Neumono neurology, one of the most resilient to intrusion outside of empathetic measures. This has all the hallmarks of a parasite, trying to correct its host's behaviour to notice it less and less. This is not how a standard neumono pregnancy works at all. I'm surprised and thankful her uterus hasn't ruptured."

He takes a wet cloth and wipes his graspers with it, one by one, more out of a nervous tic than any practical purpose I can ascertain. "This is something I have no idea how to solve. All I can do is try to buy enough time to think of a solution. I have one idea."
"What's that?"
"I take an egg from Ekasarra, take sperm from you, and observe what I'm going to against my better judgement refer to as the "fertilisation process" in a controlled growth chamber. I've found enough pieces to improvise one. The solution in the healing baths should work as a means to both nurture and suspend the growing organism, and I can use this culture incubator I found as a multicellular incubator. Then all I need to do is analyse the growth, and I should be able to determine exactly what factors accelerate development and what factors hinder it. Then I can at least treat Ekasarra while I try to figure out a cure. My last ditch option is to try and cut it out of her, but I don't know how deep it goes. I don't know what could happen if there were free floating kiter tissue left in her body."

I look at Ekasarra's stomach. "How are you going to get another egg out of her if she's already pregnant? And the, uh, 'thing' you want to avoid disturbing or cutting into is in the way?"
Kitsiksu rests his head on his graspers as he stares up at the monitor. "Firstly, egg cell. Secondly, the angles are awkward and could result in significant harm to surrounding tissue, but as long as the uterus remains unbreached it should be feasible. She'll be unconscious and her neumono biology will prevent any actual harm from lasting."

He pauses.

"If you lie down on the table I can also harvest your gametes. I want to do this in parallel to give the smallest window of time where both gametes are outside of their preferred environmental conditions, even if neumono spermatophores are surprisingly long-lived."
"I'd rather not."
"Firstly, this is a literal matter of life or death. Secondly, I am a professional. This would not be the first time I've had to acquire a neumono spermatophore for medical reasons."
"I... wait, what?"
"I'm bound by many, many contracts not to explain any further than that. While they're all presently unenforceable, I wish to abide by them for my own personal reasons, those being respect for the terms of contracts and respect for what remains of my own dignity. So, fewer questions, get on the table."

Against my better judgement, I get on the table and lie down.

"So we have two options, given male neumono apparently have as much difficulty extracting their own gametes as female neumono. Either I sedate you and extract one surgically, or I repurpose this." I can't see what 'this' is but I hear some sort of vacuum being turned on, then turned off again. "Given your general untrusting nature I suspect you would prefer the non-sedated option, but I am giving you the choice in an effort to demonstrate I am not completely beyond negotiation."
"If you really wanted to suck me that badly you could have, uh, just asked."

The salikai just sighs. "I don't understand how something so different to a neumono at the cellular level can still emulate the insufferable stubbornness and awful humour of one. We don't have all night, just let me know what you want. Time is not on our side."
No. 954875 ID: 86eb65

Suck one out. If they are so dangerous then trying to cut it out might cause issues.
No. 954879 ID: cdabe3

First, resolve to apologize to eksarra when you both wake up, you’ve been a right asshole about all this

Second, you should probably stay awake so that you’re less vulnerable to paraspacial invasion? I think that’s how that works.
No. 954886 ID: b1b4f3

HEY. You forgot AGAIN to pass along important information. Tell him about Abzu and about how she needs clothes before she can meet the others!
No. 954887 ID: 2aa5f0

which one will be quicker?
No. 954888 ID: 6e6f32

Fuck it. Take the sedation.
It's been a long fucking day.

Shutting down for a while would be. Nice.
No. 954904 ID: 91ee5f

You should at least try to make an effort to be more cooperative. Because like Kitsiksu said, if anything happened to Ekasarra, Sisirri would have his head! And Sisirri would also have your head when she finds out that you weren’t helping to save Ekasarra’s life!
No. 954932 ID: 4854ef

You really are trying to negate the role you've had in anything while gaslighting others to try and make it seem like they've caused all the problems.. Maybe you are more kiter still then you realized.
No. 954941 ID: 094652

Let him syringe your prostate. You want this done, but your paraspace knowledge is something he does not have.
No. 954954 ID: c6221d

No. 954957 ID: 83bf07

Surrender control. Maybe you'll actually get some restful sleep
No. 954971 ID: 6474be

You know why she did what she did, you were literally there for it. OF COURSE it was a bad idea, but seems like telekinetic flash-bonding tends towards questionable choices. Being insufferable to her(and everyone else just about) now is helping you, how exactly? All youre doing here is convincing people whose help youve needed before and will most likely continue to need that you are unreasonable and untrustworthy. And yeah, remember to mention Abzu and the request for clothes
No. 955071 ID: c09fb4

You'll go the vacuum route, but tell Kitsiksu to hand the vac and its controls over to you. If your balls are gonna be sucked out, then you're gonna do it yourself rather than have him put his graspers on you.

Try and isolate the horny feelings you have and have had before and loop them back around in your mind to aid in releasing a spermatophore now.
No. 955577 ID: 1ed92d



Tell him you were feeling dramatically sick earlier, kind of like you were dying, as well as experiencing severe moodswings. Ask if it might be related to how quickly the 'living nightmare' is gestating.
No. 955581 ID: b1b4f3

...I wonder if the fetus is feeding off of paraspacial energy?
No. 956504 ID: 9998d3
File 158190482809.png - (82.24KB , 800x600 , salq3-107.png )

>forget to give vital information
>shrugging off all responsibility
>gaslighting others
>acting pretty kiter
I'm made of kiter technology, I'm programmed with kiter minds and experiences, there is never going to be any way for me to somehow not be kiter, not associated with the stupidest thing in existence, everything is stupid, everything is the worst, fuck it, fuck all of it. I don't care.

>let literally anyone know about Abzu
I don't care.

>talk about your malfunctions
>paraspacial fetus theory
I don't even care about myself at this point.

>surrender control
"Just knock me out. I'm tired of being held as the one at fault here. It's not my fault my biology is engineered to be significantly superior to any of you primordial accidents. I--"
"Yes. Yes. I understand. I understand where you are coming from. It doesn't change the fact that your irresponsible decisions directly caused this chain of events. You are breaking so much and leaving the rest of us to pick up the pieces while actively making things worse."

OW FUCK HE JUST STABBED ME IN THE-- what do you even call that area where your abdomen kind of merges into your groin but isn't quite your groin yet? Well it stopped being painful very quickllll haa big snake bug is here

"While that neural dampener works its way through your tissues, I'm going to check on Ekasarra. Stay put."
"It's a special formulation derived from my initial dissection of one of those organisms stolen from the kiter. I tested a previous formulation on the thing and it turned out to be too effective at disrupting kiter tissue, so this should just disrupt your neurological tissue without permanent issue. Or you'll end up as a mindless vegetable, but frankly that feels like a more useful thing for you to be right now."
"not vegetables," says me, thing, i think
words hardd
"Hm. No, you're still forming vaguely coherent words. Double the dosage it is."


"bleaz sstop"
"What is five plus three?"
"What's my name? ...Lackey? Hm. Pupils unresponsive to direct light, alright, you're probably sufficiently out of it. Even if you're still conscious I don't think you're awake enough to remember or feel any of the next steps, so. Just locking the door so no one can disturb me, we don't want a repeat of that jostle incident... let's get to work."
No. 956506 ID: 9998d3
File 158190485144.png - (224.03KB , 800x600 , salq3-108.png )

No. 956507 ID: 9998d3
File 158190488132.png - (56.02KB , 800x600 , salq3-109.png )

"He's awake. Finally. What is your name, info hiver?"
Disconnection. Cold. Void. Darkness. Reassessing experiential parameters.
Awareness. One. I am one, again.
"My name is Staccato 28 of the neburi hive Rising Crescendo Analytics of Shadow Fleet tendril 4356."

I make a series of clicks. Protocol must be followed. "Identify."
No. 956508 ID: 9998d3
File 158190490319.png - (64.41KB , 800x600 , salq3-110.png )

"Concentric Wireshaper 104, Fabricator hive 9, so on so on."
"This is not my designated location," I say, looking around at an unfamiliar room in what I assume to be a kiter spire.

"So blunt and to the point, you info hivers. Fine. Yes. We've pulled you out of whatever thrilling calculations they had you doing, so we can--"
"How did I get to this location?"
"You... you walked. Wow, you really were busy computing, huh. I'm actually impressed you can walk while submerged that deeply. Anyway, we've got a native to interrogate. We need an information extractor. That's you. Extract information."

I take a few moments to gather my bearings, head swimming from the sudden disconnect from the hive computation. I feel smaller and lesser, but these feelings soon pass as I re-establish conscious connection to my hive on subliminal channels.
"We've collected as much biological data from all three native sapient species as warrants collecting, is this military intelligence?"
"Well, no--"
"Then it's tertiary priority. You'll need authorisation from the Conductor of Rising Cresc--"
"Return to Sender herself stepped in and requested this. You came recommended, in fact. Possibly the best interrogator under ninety units tall. And we all know how... indelicate the ess can be with their approach."

What could possibly be so urgent that the Hivemaster feels the need to bypass standard protocol and step in directly...
No. 956509 ID: 9998d3
File 158190493114.png - (78.61KB , 800x600 , salq3-111.png )

A [QUERY:IDENTIFY_ENTITY][ANSWER:NATIVE/SAPIENT/PESHGIENE] peshgiene [QUERY:IDENTIFY_ADDITIONAL_CHARACTERISTICS][ANSWER:FEMALE/ADULT/<RETRIEVE_FROM_MEMORY:NO_FURTHER_DATA>] female of no particular identity is standing in front of me. All personal effects and external layers removed, for weapon removal and morale reduction. Restrained with few bonds, unguarded.
"Weak restraints for a captive this deep in a nerve spire." Especially for such an apparently critical target.
"She tried to run a few times, and after the fifth time we caught her seconds into her escape efforts she gave up. She's a product of natural biology, Staccato, even you could overpower her."
"Not if she were to use paraspacial capabilities," I say, clicking in annoyance.
"This is a warded chamber," says Wireshaper. "Anyone trying to tap into the ethereal here will be met with some... surprises. I will be right back, I need to fetch some tools."
I watch Wireshaper leave, as they turn back to me with a devious expression and click-sings "You have full permission to be as destructive in your analysis as desired," as they walk through a permeable wall, membrane rippling behind them.
No. 956510 ID: 9998d3
File 158190495722.png - (60.49KB , 800x600 , salq3-112.png )

I switch from efficient information clustering via tone, pitch and frequency to a cruder form.
"What is your name, peshgiene?" My voice is modulated for calm tone and neutral emotion.
No response. Silent defiance. I double check Wireshaper's hints.
"There are two means I can use to extract answers from you, peshgiene. Questions, or more direct means."

I raise a feathered hand as it splits apart into thousands of wiry fibres, all sharp, all prepared for direct neural access. All thirsting for information. They coil and slither around in ways even I can't directly control. My subconscious desire to consume information at any cost made manifest.

"Your species' connectome is known to us, and I can insert a fibre into every major neural junction in your brain. You will not survive the process for longer than is necessary to extract every single thought, memory and experience you have had. Are you still prepared to remain silent?"

"If you can do that," spits the peshgiene, "why bother questioning me at all?"

I don't tell her it's going to happen anyway, but the questioning can sometimes create useful realisations and shifts in perspective. More data to harvest. I'm certainly not going to tell her she might even be able to survive the process but conveniently locked inside her own body paralysed and unable to act as the fleshweavers do whatever they feel with her conscious body. That's more of a diplomat mode of action. Outside of my scope.

"I don't know, peshgiene. Why don't you tell me?"

The peshgiene Izila looks at me with righteous disdain, before scowling. "You need me alive for something. Something you can't do."
"Alright. Then I guess you want to torture me because you're a bunch of planet eating sadists who get nutrients from the pain of others. Whatever. I'm not going to give you fuckers the satisfaction of screaming and begging for my life."
"Then what?"

I tilt my head slightly. "Incorrect," I say. "You do not appear to grasp the context of this situation or are willingly acting ignorant of it. You are here to give me information."
"I'm not talking. You'd have peeled my brain open or whatever already if you didn't need me alive. You're just like the fucking convocation, all talk, all bluff, too scared to do anything too much in case you get reprimanded by your asshole leaders or whatever. Fuck you. Fuck your stupid games, I'm not playing them."

Alright. This is not a negotiation. Time to advance to more direct methods. Threats, indirect or otherwise, will not prove sufficient. Just need to stall while I recall some information. [QUERY:PESHGIENE_SENSITIVE_REGIONS][SUBQUERY:PESHGIENE_ORGANS/NONVITAL][ANSWER:DOWNLOADED]

"You think I'm afraid of a stupid bird?!"
"Elevated heart rate, perspiration, breathing, symptomatic of fight-or-flight chemical and neurological pathway activation. Evidence of anxiety, panic, dread, fear. Yes."

I look at the glistening metal of my split wing tendrils. I roll through my knowledge of the most sensitive areas of the peshgiene anatomy, and start scrolling through them to find one that will be sufficiently convincing without impairing communication completely. Then I just need to go through the list, provide compelling stimuli, and--
No. 956511 ID: 9998d3
File 158190502625.png - (106.30KB , 800x600 , salq3-113.png )

Out of the corner of my eye I see a strange black furred creature. I think it's a strange reflection of the peshgiene at first, or some other before it starts walking up to me.

...No answer?


No answer. Everything feels like time is freezing but the creature is getting closer. How did they breach security?? I was told this chamber was warded and sealed!!

Then, it speaks. "...Lackey?? Lackey why are you a bird??"
No. 956514 ID: 6e6f32

No. 956524 ID: 2aa5f0

"Who are you, how did you get in here? This place is suppose to be secure. You should not be able to walk past the guards and this room stops any unauthorized use of paraspacial abilities."

guess we should probably start trying to set the alarm to let everyone know that an intruder has gotten into the base.
No. 956528 ID: b1b4f3

Ah, I figured it out. This is dreamsharing.
You are not Staccato. This is a dream, of an inherited memory. Remember who you really are.
For a second I doubted and thought maybe this is who you really are, but Abzu would have seen it. She has seen the all of you.

Maybe you can use this dream to sort through your Kiter memories and find something useful? Like, interrogating this prisoner. Her memories are important to the Kiter, maybe you should actually brain-scan her to find out why.
No. 956532 ID: 977456

No. 956533 ID: cdabe3

“I’m a bird because it’s easier to run from your problems when you can fly.”
No. 956534 ID: 736b7e

You are dreaming and recalling the past lives within you. Play out the memory and gather what information you can from it.

Although, if the memory changes and reacts to your actions then this is closer to a dream than a memory. That would make information you get here unreliable.
No. 956539 ID: 12b116

This is either a memory or you've possessed one of the kiter on this planet somehow
No. 956542 ID: 91ee5f

Well would you look at that! It seems like she’s capable of coming into your dreams! Looks like you’ve got no choice but to actually talk to her now.
No. 956569 ID: 48cdd0

Because we aren't Lackey, in either case you can't do what you are about to when someone could interfere with this.
No. 956570 ID: ba5c4f

Simplified SQL speak? I dig.
Hmm, I doubt this'll work, but just to be sure,
No. 956710 ID: 81331f

Oh geez buddy, what shell you running? You're way behind the times. Time to update.
No. 956819 ID: 1ed92d

"I was a bird. I still am in part. This is one of the personality composites I was made from."
No. 958465 ID: 094652

"I was him. And I think I was her. I was all of them and none of them. I was the worst parts of them, because Voidsong's twisted mind could only see their conflicting, self-destructive tendencies as pure potential."
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