Science Fiction The Oracle
#21
Great story so far!  I hope it continues.
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#22
Thanks CatKnight. I'm glad you're enjoying it. I enjoy writing it. I'll try to post something soonish. I just got distracted.
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#23
Episode 14: History

Lieutenant Morgan's already severe face drew down into an even tighter frown as she paced around Ensign Leath, her hands clasped behind her back. To Ardelle it felt like the other woman was a metal spring pressed tighter and tighter with quiet yet barely controlled anger. 

Ardelle, Corporal Whately, and Crewman Walker, and the pilots stood at rigid attention inside the science tent. The Lieutenant drew even with Ardelle and spun on her heel facing the younger woman. Ardelle unwittingly drew even more ramrod straight, if that were possible.

"So, Ensign, what you're telling me one of our finest is dead? By some... some sea monster?" Lt. Morgan's lined face seemed more furrowed with concern and anger than ever before.

"Yes ma'am," Aredelle said, regret darkening her words. "A large...uh...snake ma'am. It..." her voice wavered, and she saw the death again. She clenched her fists until her nails dug into her palms. She fought back the tears that threatened to fall as the memory of McCoy's horrific death swept over her again. So much blood. Blood in the water. Blood on her hands.

"I'm waiting, Ensign. Spit it out!"

"I--"

"It was... an underwater serpent, ma'am," Elliot interjected, probably trying to deflect some of the anger leveled at her, Ardelle realized. "It was beneath the atol. I believe it thought we were encroaching upon its territory, and it attacked."

"Did I ask you for your opinion, Crewman Walker?" Lt. Morgan lanced him with a gaze and twisted his title as if it were something ugly.

"No ma'am," Elliot's will wilted and he dropped his eyes.

"Then keep your trap shut until addressed."

"Yes ma'am," he mumbled.

"So, some giant serpent just came out of nowhere and killed one our men. Didn't you have any weapons? Marines are supposed to have weapons aren't they, Corporal? You do fight with those big sticks you carry don't you?"

"Yes Ma'am. And we do and we certainly did ma'am," Whately addressed her in clipped tones, his response was clearly on automatic pilot. There was no anger there, Ardelle realized. Maybe that was Corporal Whately's way of dealing with grief. Had he withdrawn into himself? His monotone responses seemed unnaturally hollow. Dead even. Dead like... 

"The life-form was very quick," Corporal Whately continued. "We fired everything we had at it. Even Ensign Leath tried to shoot at it, but... well, it was very quick ma'am. We managed to hit it after Private McCoy was killed, and we drove it off."

"Where's the footage? You do you have some don't you? I want to see it. Now! I know military diving suits have embedded cameras."

"We...didn't have military suits ma'am. All we had was civilian gear."

Ardelle flicked her eyes over to Corporal Whately. What he wasn't saying was that the civilian gear did have embedded cameras. But Ardelle had had them removed after the event, suspecting Lt. Morgan might ask for something like this.

"Civilian gear?" Lt. Morgan arched an eyebrow.

"Budget cutbacks I suppose ma'am. Marine Seargent Remy might know for sure."

"Cutbacks," Lt Morgan spat. "Is that the excuse for everything?"

No one said anything.

"Apparently it is," she gave a dissatisfied grunt and massaged her forhead. "Ensign Leath and Corporal Whately, I want each of you to write up a full report on what happened. On my desk in the morning at 0500 hours. Now that's enough. Get out of my sight!"

They retreated outside into the ever present rain and mud and Ardelle heard the prefab door lock behind them. 

Ardelle didn't bother covering up. She let the cool water plaster her hair to her skull. Elliot looked at her, but she ignored him, and he eventually jogged away to drier climes. Ardelle wandered a bit. A part of her wanted to go back and tell Lt. Morgan everything. She found herself walking back intending to knock on the door. She made it as far as the window. She looked through it. Lt. Morgan didn't see her. The older woman gave a muffled groan and sank into the chair, her head in one hand. The other hand was...trembling. 

Ardelle watched for a moment and then she saw Lt. Morgan's shoulders gently shake. She shrank back as if struck. She didn't think Lt. Morgan was capable of tears, and she felt like she had just intruded on an inner sanctum of something she shouldn't have seen, an unguarded part of the other woman's soul.

---

Several hours later, Ardelle sat alone inside the shuttle's cockpit. Rain drummed on the thick, hardened, military pexi-glass. It was after midnight local time, and it felt good to finally be alone. Away from the hurt stares of the other marines.

The soft glow of the console's lights reflected off the interior of the cockpit window. She sighed and tapped the transmit button and sent her report to The Oracle. It'd be sliced into secure data packets that were deeply embedded with other data from routine communications and sensor scans from the shuttle's systems. The packets detailed the report of her findings were now on their way up to Captain Alestranda aboard The Oracle.

Through the rain she saw a flicker of motion, and her heart lurched as a dark shape walked past the cockpit. She flicked a switch and dimmed the lights in the cockpit. She sank back into the chair not wanting to be seen. The footsteps stopped, turned and trudged away. It sounded like Chubbs was on patrol. She just wanted alone. She couldn't endure their looks anymore. Their accusing looks were full of too much guarded pain. It was rightly her fault. She was the officer who had called the shots. She was the one who hasn't brought his body back. Both Chubbs and Claxton had been silent when Corporal Whately broke the news to them earlier that day. Chubbs just turned around and walked away on a long walk across the grass where he found a rock. He had sat in the rain for hours. Claxton just said he wanted a beer. Maybe ten. Maybe twenty. Then he moaned about there not being a bar around to get drunk, and he turned into his bunk trying to sleep. Whately finally put him on mess duty just to get him thinking about something else, but he had burned the food. When Chubbs said it tasked like crap, Claxton had responded that Chubbs taste buds were crap. 

They almost came to blows. 

Whately had to step in again and had put Chubbs on patrol duty.

Ardelle sunk lower in the seat and hugged herself, wanting to scream from the bottled emotions. Instead, she worried the inside of her cheek with her teeth until she tasted blood. She felt the salty iron taste and let the tears come. Some time later, tired and spent, she drifted off to sleep under the patter of rain. Her dreams with a dark cruelty, mingled Shane's burned body with McCoy's torn body in discordant images of underwater fire. 

The dull pong of an incoming message brought her back to wakefulness. She tapped accept and some lights on the console flickered to life and over a secure connection, she heard Captain Alestranda's voice.

"Glad to see you're alive and well, Ensign."

"I'm alive," she muttered. "That's more than I can say for Private McCoy."

"An unfortunate incident to be sure," Cpt. Alestranda said.

"He was torn in half, or didn't you get my report?"

"Stow your jets, Ensign. I wouldn't be calling you directly if I hadn't. I know you won't believe me, now, but I hate it when even one of my crew gets a stuffy nose on my watch. I take every death seriously...more than you know."

"Permission to speak freely, Ma'am?"

There was a long silence. Ardelle knew that military phrase was a polite way to inform a superior that disagreements were coming.

"Go ahead. You have something on your mind," Cpt. Alestranda said. 

It was a statement.

Ardelle's voice became tight and pinched. "If you care, why... why all the secrecy? Why are we doing things half baked? Why not send a whole platoon down here? Why keep the secrets from Lt. Morgan? I--I don't know if I can keep this up. All the subterfuge. The secrets..." Ardelle twisted a strand of hair on one finger so tightly her finger felt numb. She kept seeing Private McCoy's mauled body whenever she blinked. Her eyes began to water and she blinked again and again quickly and felt a silent shudder course through her.

The silence stretched.

"You've done well," Cpt. Alestranda said with a note of resigned acquiescence in her voice. "I needed to know if I could trust you. And it seems I can."

"Trust me? What do you mean?"

"You're earned the right to know. Lt. Morgan may not be who she says she is. In fact, Intelligence has been keeping eyes on her."

"What? Why?" Ardelle asked stunned.

"It was a long time ago," Captain Alestranda's voice sounded tired. "Back when the colony insurrectionists were in full swing back when you were in diapers. Lt. Morgan was about your current age, perhaps a little younger. She too was only an Ensign. She was serving aboard Zebra a light cruiser in the 5th fleet."

"5th fleet, but that was the one that..." she swallowed.

"Yes, the one that was butchered at Vega. You know the story."

"Everyone does," Ardelle murmured. "The fifth fleet suffered something like forty-five percent casualties, wasn't it?"

"That common estimate is overly conservative. Casualties were over seventy percent," Captain Ardelle's voice was a dead thing.

"Seventy percent!" her mind reeled at the staggering loss of life. "But... but that's not what--"

"Not what you heard?" The Captain's voice barked out an soft mocking laugh. "Yes, I suppose it isn't. You'll find that the propaganda arm of our government is quite good at spinning the truth. It's the nature of governments to paint every debacle that might cast a shadow on it in the softest of hues."

"But the media--that many deaths? You can't hide that."

"You most certainly can. One only needs a firm hand at the helm. An iron hand you might say. The media, of course, wasn't at the battle, and they were only told what the government wanted told. The insurrectionists did try to reveal the truth, to take credit for the victory, but those attempts all failed. In the end it didn't matter. 12th fleet crushed the insurrectionists and took no prisoners. But it is a very dangerous secret to know."

"Why are you telling me then?" Ardelle's asked and she couldn't help the fear nibbling at the corners of her mind. 

"I have my reasons," Ardelle's fancied she could hear the woman smile on the other end of the line.

"But how did you find out, ma'am, if it's such a carefully guarded secret?"

"I was...there, aboard the the heavy cruiser Frontier. We had lost our shields and several decks were badly mauled by laser and pulse shots. Our reactor core was only at 15 percent capacity, but our ship still managed to limp to the jump point with only a skeleton crew. Fifteen survivors out of hundreds. I--I lost a lot of friends that day..."

In the silence of sadness that followed, the lights in the cockpit flickered like the flickering eyes of a fading heartbeat.

"And Lt. Morgan?" Ardelle finally asked.

"Ensign Morgan served at the time as a low-level watch standard aboard Zebra. It was one of ten ships to survive the engagement. The fleet was ambushed by hundreds of insurrectionist ships that had been lying in wait. Their signatures were masked by the dust and asteroids and the other mining equipment scattered throughout the asteroid field. But they had ample time. They knew exactly where we would be and exactly when."

"You're saying Lt. Morgan is responsible?"

"Of course not. But I'm saying that she may be suspect."

"Why?"

"Being aboard the bridge crew, she could have accessed sensitive intelligence about the operation. In addition, her colonial background and her family history among the colonies leaned sympathetic to the insurrectionists. And... well... the data logs on her system later showed she had sent a flurry of messages by courier ship before the fleet began jumps."

"But anyone would do that wouldn't they? Anyone who has family would want them to know that--" she swallowed, thinking of her uncle who had been the only one for her, but her own parents who hadn't been a real part of her life. She continued, "Well, they would want to know that you might be in danger." 

"True. The messages were analyzed. Nothing substantial was found, of course, but higher-ups needed someone to blame. They think that her messages could have been encoded with the jump times from the fleet."

"But they can't prove it?"

"No. But her service record was flagged, and she was busted down Warrant Officer for 'negligence'. And the rest is history..."

That certainly explained much of Lt. Morgan's attitude. 

"But she's a lieutenant now," Ardelle said.

"She knew her record had been flagged, but that only spurred her to work harder than any of the other officers. Despite the record flag and its limitations, she climbed in rank. She would have made captain twice over if not for that flagged record. She really is a good officer, Ensign, though you may find that hard to believe. She is dependable and reliable when given a task and she does her job very well. Her superior attitude can be a pain in the butt, and she hates babysitting junior officers, as you know, but..."

"But you're not sure you can trust her?"

"I want to. In fact, I think I do trust her. But this information about... about an alien race... well, two alien races now if what you sent me is accurate," she murmured, "if that gets out into the wrong hands, the aliens are only going to be half of our worries."

"But ma'am, you can't keep a secret like this forever. Too many people know. It's only a matter of time before someone says something."

"I know that." Captain Alestranda said. "Sol system and its allies have many enemies. You're aware of the so called Independent Coalition of Colonies?"

"Yes," Ardelle said. 

The T.I.C.C. had formed when she was a child and had steadily grown in numbers and supporters. Those sympathetic to Earth and Sol's allies often referred to the T.I.C.C as "blood suckers", due to their acronym's similarity to the insect. She doubted that was far from the truth. T.I.C.C. members had a penchant for preying on trade routes and engaged in active piracy and impressment of Earth vessels and officers.

"Well, I received word just before we jumped out here that five more colony worlds joined the T.I.C.C."

That she hadn't heard. Five more worlds...! She gave a low whistle.

"Another war could very well be the offing, Ensign, and one of those colony worlds was Aitera 4."

"But that's--"

"Yes, that's Lt. Morgan's home planet," Captain Alestranda finished.

Ardelle didn't know what to say. And the silence stretched again each lost in their thoughts. 

"So, business as usual then?" Ardelle finally said and felt the tiredness and stress creeping in.

"What do you think I should do about Lt. Morgan?" the Captain asked her and the sudden change caught her off guard.

"You're asking me?"

"You work closely with her. I want to know your thoughts."

Ardelle thought back to the previous day and her conversation with Lt. Morgan. Everything seemed to be sliding into place about the other woman. But was Lt. Morgan a traitor? A spy? As much as she disliked Lt. Morgan at times, she honestly couldn't believe that the woman was disloyal. 

She shook her head and muttered something.

"What's that Ensign?"

"I was only saying that I think the time for secrets among us is over, Captain. I think you should tell her."

"Only her or the entire crew?"

"That's your call, ma'am. But I do know they'll all find out sooner or later. I do think the bridge crew should be told at least. There was something I read from an ancient statesman, I can't remember who, but he said something about a house that wasn't united would fall. Our bridge is our house. It's the head of the ship. It needs to be able to act and plan unitedly, especially with this latest information we found about about the aliens."

Long seconds drifted by among the whir of fans in the shuttles cockpit. 

When Captain Alestranda spoke, her voice was firm, as if some decision had been made. "No secrets," Captain Alestranda said. The finality that underlined her words. "That feels...right. You have a good head and a good heart. I'll trust your judgement Ensign Leath and inform all the bridge crew, including Lt. Morgan. I'll hold off on informing the entire crew of The Oracle at large for the moment. 

"In about ten minutes you'll receive a data dump on your console. Please deliver it in person to Lt. Morgan with my compliments. For your remaining day on planet, I want you to find out everything you can about these aliens. Scour the land for any thing that might lend a clue to what happened to them. Record anything you can find."

"Yes Ma'am. And thank you," Ardelle said. 

"No. Thank you. That is all Ensign." The call ended, and Ardelle leaned back in the chair. She looked out the cockpit and felt a great relief lift off of her. She still wanted to scrub McCoy's death out of hear heart, but that piece of darkness would have to wait. At least she wouldn't have to sneak around Lt. Morgan anymore. At least she had another person she could talk to.

She opened the hatch with a hiss and stepped out onto the sodden springy ground. Something was different. But it wasn't until she looked up that she realized what it was. Through a break in clouds she saw stars and a cool breeze ruffled her hair.

The rain had finally stopped.

---- Rolls ----


What is Lt. Morgan's mood?

3 = +1 +0 +1 +1 0

Fiercely / Ancient

Is she suspicious about Whately's ommission?

(50/50 | 3[d10]) No

Did the rain finally let up?

(Somewhat Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

What are some events that Lt. Morgan went through?

Waste / Tension

Befriend / Messages

Release / Portals

How does she take the news of Whately's death?

Haggle / Death

Does Lt. become distraught?

(50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

But she doesn't show it in front of the others.

What does Cpt. Alestranda want Ardelle to do?

Antagonise / Nature

She wants Ardelle to scour the country side to find out more about the aliens.

Does she give permission to Ardelle to tell Lt Morgan what is going on.?

(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...
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#24
Episode 15: Encounter

"Do you know what time it is?" Lt. Morgan's stare bored into Ardelle. The science lab looked the same as earlier in the evening at her debriefing.

"Yes, ma'am." Ardelle wasn't sure if Lt. had even slept. She didn't think so. Yet it was 3 AM. "I'm sorry, ma'am, but I've received a priority communique from Captain Alestranda. She ordered me to give this to you right away." Ardelle held out the data coin.

"This had better be good," Lt. Morgan muttered. She snatched the data coin from Ardelle and slapped it into the computer console. After a few seconds a report icon wavered into view, hanging in the air. She tapped the hologram in the air, and the icon flared opened. Ardelle saw text and images pop open in multiple displays that hung in the air, but privacy settings blurred out the actual contents from her position.

Lt. Morgan skimmed through it. As she did so her mouth began to open in apparent disbelief and her eyes took on a light of excitement before she snapped her mouth shut and her mouth creased down into a deeper frown.

"The Captain had you give this to me?" Lt. Morgan asked, her eyes stabbing Ardelle.

"Yes, ma'am."

"Why didn't she just contact me directly? You obviously know what's in this report." The statement hung in the air dark and heavy between them.

"I know the subject matter, ma'am. I don't know the specifics of what it says."

"Then let me break it down for you. The specifics are that there is now proof of an alien race, possibly two races. This is arguably the most important scientific discovery of our age. And instead of informing me directly, it seems that Captain Alestranda trusted you, a low-life Ensign, to go behind my back, her own Executive Officer!" The bitterness was unmasked, dark and poisonous. She slammed a hand down on the console and the image of the report wavered. She then booted her chair with a solid kick. It slammed into a crate of power cells and other supplies, scattering them across the prefab building floor.

Lt. Morgan paced back and forth, twisting her hands together behind her back. Her frown looked to be carved into a face of mottled stone. "Do you know why I'm not trusted Ensign?"

"Yes, ma'am. At least I think so. I told the Captain she ought to tell you about what was going on, and she informed me of your...past."

Lt. Morgan grunted and sat down heavily on a crate. She stared past the report at Ensign Leath. "My past... at Vega...Yes, I suspect they did. They didn't listen to reason back then. I doubt they'll do so now." She leaned forward on her knees. "But know this Ensign Leath, I was no traitor to my people. Despite what they say, I am not allied with terrorists. I am loyal to Earth and her allies."

"They say that you--"

"I know what they say, that I was the one who leaked the coordinates and the time table for our navy's movements. After such a looming catastrophe, they needed someone to blame, some excuse. And I was a convenient choice. But they never had any proof. Just suspicions and convenience. Her eyes hardened, and she gripped her hands together on the desk top, nuckles white. "Beware of convenient solutions, Ensign Leath. A road lined with convenience always ends in shattered lives."

"Yes ma'am," Ardelle said quietly.

"Shattered lives..." Lt. Morgan said again and her eyes grew distant. 

Long moments past, and the silence stretched. Ardelle couldn't help but thinking about Private McCoy's shattered body. The silence grew heavy between them. 

Finally Lt. Morgan sighed and stood. "Go and get some rest, Ensign. I want to spend some time reading this report, and we have our orders for tomorrow."

"Ma'am," Ardelle said, saluting and then making her way back to her bunk. 

Stars winked through the partially-clear night air, whispering secrets in velvety darkness.

-----

Does Ens Leath wait until morning?

(50/50 | 4[d10]) No

Is Lt Morgan in the science lab still?

(Somewhat Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

Is anything amiss?

(Unlikely | 1[d10]) No, and...

Release / Fears

She's talkative and opens up?

(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

Does she take the news well of being late to the alien knowledge sharing?

(50/50 | 1[d10]) No, and...

Extravagance / Adversities

She's bitter and talks about all she's been through.

Does she eventually come around?

(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

---

The next day remained clear of rain. It was tinged with fingers of cold and fog. But by the time the sun crested the eastern mountains, the fog was gone, and they had packed up the camp, with its supplies and equipment. Now they all jetted eastward, watching as the green jungle shot beneath them. 

Lt. Morgan remained up front in the cockpit with the pilots. Ardelle sat strapped in the back of the cargo bay with the marines. Her armor and her sidearm at her hip felt heavier than usual. The shuttle's side doors were partially open providing fields of fire if needed, and she saw greenery blur under them.

She still couldn't bear to face the three men. She hadn't slept well. She closed her eyes and leaned her head against the headrest. Thoughts of Private McCoy's body broken, bloody, and torn again assaulted her vision as they had all night long. She shuddered and looked up to find Corporal Whately's eyes on her.

He nodded at her, his face had a serious cast. "It's not your fault, ma'am," Corporal Whately said. He sat across from her and spoke quietly in a voice only she could hear above the hum of the shuttle's engines. The two privates had their eyes closed and appeared to be sleeping.

"What do you mean?" She feigned ignorance, but her face fell as her mind immediately lurched back to McCoy's death.

"I've seen the look before," Whately said. "Had to deal with it a few times myself when I made some bone-headed decisions. Sarge too. It's just something you have to learn from. Pick up the pieces and move on."

The regret and shame hit her again. "I can't stop seeing his face. His broken body. What if--- what if I make the same mistakes again? What if more people die because of something I did?"

"We all knew what he was getting into when he joined the mil, Private McCoy included. We knew the risks."

"Did you? You knew officers would make stupid mistakes that would get you killed?"

He snorted. "Pardon Ma'am, but that's a given. It's what officers do. They see the big picture. They give the orders. We follow them and get bloodied for it. But it's your job to make those big picture decisions and to stick by them. It's our job to follow those decisions, and that's why you officers need good sergeants and corporals," she smiled. "Someone has to pick up the pieces when the crap hits the fan."

"There might be lots of pieces to pick up," she said somberly but her heart lightened somewhat. "What if I make the wrong decision again? I can't promise people won't die."

"We're in the mil. In battle there is no perfect decision. We know that. But understand that you can't afford indecision. A bad decision is worse than making no decision at all. It's enough that we know you feel regret. It means you're the type of officer that won't expend lives needlessly. That means more than you know."

Their conversation was cut short when one of the pilots banked. "I see something," they heard him exclaim over the comms. The horizon below tilted and their altitude dropped. The shuttle circled a massive mound, that jutted at an angle out of the ground. It rose out of the surrounding jungle, yet was covered in moss, dirt, and greenery. Great white bird-like creatures with massive wing spans floated about a nest built atop it.

"What is it?" Lt. Morgan asked. "A plateau?."

"Maybe. But it seems...too uniform."

"Take us down for a closer look."

--

The shuttle had found a clearing near the roots of the, cliff, ridge, mound, or mountain...whatever it was. It stretched up above them thousands of feet. Trees, moss, vines, and greenery draped down in a shroud that cast dark shadows. Colorful species of birds and insects, not too unlike those on earth, chattered and buzzed and crawled all about them, a verdant blanket of life.

They drew closer and Corporal Whately spread out the two marines who had weapons out.

"What is it?" Lt. Morgan asked.

"That's no mountain, Ma'am," Private Matthew Claxton said, his eyes widening they drew near the base of the mound.

Ardelle saw it too. The metallic ribs, meant this was something else entirely. A structure of some sort. It's massiveness was covered and shrouded in dirt and jungle. A carpeting of red dirt lay about the jungle floor where centuries of rust has drifted down to mingle with centuries of dirt and growth that had risen layer upon layer.

"Some kind of building, maybe?" Private Chubbs asked, peering upwards as a bird with orange, red, and green streaked through one of the rib-like struts. "McCoy would've known. He read everything."


Ardelle shook her head and stood still. "No..." Ardelle said, and she pointed out a massive gaping hole, a small water-fall trickled off out of it, dropping onto the jungle floor. Vines and hanging moss drooped off of it like some ancient sagging skin. "Take a look at that."

"That? It's just a cave," Private Chubbs said, shifting his rifle.

"It's too circular for that," Ardelle said. "If, I'm correct That's some kind of docking port."

"Docking port? Are you trying to tell me someone built a space station. One the ground?"

"That's no space station," Ardelle said. "It's a ship that crashed here. And judging from the decay, probably millennia ago."

"The Captain wanted us to find more information about these aliens if possible. I think we just did. Let's go take a look."

"That is one big mother of a ship," Private Claxton gave an appreciative whistle as he looked up at the massive structure. 

They ducked inside the ship, the light dimmed. Pockets of light punched through the dark in shafts where the hull of the ship had been weathered away. They found themselves inside a large room, tilted sideways from the angle of the crash. Its was pocked with age and dirt. There was a maze of ruined and rusted corridors. Rusted paneling and ancient metal sagged under the weight of what must have been centuries of dirt and growth. A bird streaked through a hole cawing. It circled and landing on the lip of a jagged tear. Red metal flakes drifted lazily down above them in the a shaft of sunlight.

Looking up they saw hundreds of massive rings lost in the gloom. On each ring were hundreds of tubes perhaps the height of a tall man.

"I think..." Lt. Morgan said staring up. "I think this was some kind of transport or colony ship. Those looks like deep-freeze capsules."

"Ma'am," Corporal Whately said to Lt. Morgan drawing her attention downward. "You might want to take a look at this. He pointed to the ground. There, in the dark, moist, fertile earth was a clear depression of a foot, a very human-looking depression with five toes and a curved heel. Nearby was a neatly-sliced fruit, clearly cut in half with some sort of blade.

Private Claxton suddenly raised his rifle, his voice tight. "I got movement, Corporal! There, three nine o'clock!"

Corporal Whately remained crouched, but in a heartbeat both his and Private Chubb's rifles were at their cheeks. Ardelle also had out her pistol before she even knew what she was doing. The grip felt cold and slick in her sweating palms.

She couldn't see anything in that direction.

She turned in a slow circle, her heart thumped in her chest. There was a sudden fluttering motion and hundreds of colorful birds swooped down cawing and spun out of the opening. She ducked and covered her head as the flapping wings passed by her. When she righted, she saw a lithe humanoid shape darting from behind one of the rib-like trusses deeper into the structure's cavernous gloom.

--

The next day they spend exploring with Lt. Morgan. Do they find any more structures?

(Unlikely | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

But what?

Barren colony ship

Hmmm. Is it of human make?

(Somewhat Unlikely | 5[d10]) No

They see a small mountain but in reality it's the rusted husk of a huge colony ship that's been overrun by the jungle.

Is it the same race that build the city that sunk into the ocean?

(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

MAG...

Maze, shattered blades, robot arm, sword slicing through fruit, bare foot, fractured mask, running person, squiggle blob

The interior is maze of rusted corridors, shattered equipment and weapons

They see some sliced fruit in the jungle a bare foot print, a running person....

These might be the remnants / descendants of the race whose city fell into the ocean.

Is he/she hostile?

(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...

No but cautious and wary and so evades them.
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#25
Found this site a little while ago and joined just so I could tell you how much I've enjoy reading this.

Thank you and keep up the good work!
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#26
Thanks Axiom125. I really appreciate that! My life recently got busier with church, plus I'm singing in an Easter program in March that I'm rehearsing for each week. But I'll try and post when I can.
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#27
Episode 16 - Rodeo

Does Morgan order them to follow after the fleeing person?

(50/50 | 5[d10]) Nobut...

But she'll have them get defensive.

----

"Hold your position!" Lt Morgan shouted from a crouched position. Her eyes followed the fleeing shape as it disappeared into the green gloom of the ship's interior. "No one fires unless attacked!" She had pulled out her own service pistol, one strand of her graying hair drifted in front of her eyes and she gave a terse blow of air to move it. "Corporal, we need to get in a defensive position. We don't know who or who is out there!"

Corporal Whately motioned for Pvt. Chubbs and Claxton to move behind trusses on one side. They nodded, moving off in a crouch, and settled down with the dull thud of polycarbonate weapons knocking against metal armor. They kept with their backs to the outside so they could fall back out of the ship if needed. 

"A person..." Elliot said in awe shoving a hand through his hair. He was leaning forward, half crouching, peering into the darkness. "Did you guys see that? A real person. Here! We found aliens! The first ever! We'll be famous."

"If we get out alive," Chubbs muttered. "Probably ain't human. Probably has fangs or claws or somethin' nasty. Probably--"

"Geez, cheer up, Chubbs," Claxton said. "It had two feet just like you, not like some squid thing. Count your blessings. Plus, it isn't raining anymore."

"Yeah, that's the other thing," Chubbs said, still not mollified. "We're in a freakin' rain forest and no rain! Doesn't that feel off to you? What would McCoy say about that do you think."

That sobered everyone up for a moment and silence descended

"He'd probably quote something you couldn't understand from one of his science books," Claxton jibed. 

Chubbs flicked away a large multi-colored bug that looked to be something like a cross between a tarantula and a scorpion and frowned. "Everything here has freakin' fangs."

"Quiet!" Corporal Whately ordered. They listened.

"I think it was more scared of us," Ardelle said. "I don't think it had a gun. Might have had some primitive weapons though."

"Out here, primitive is all you need," Chubbs muttered. "That snake thing did just fine without guns. One bite and you're just as dead."

Ardelle swallowed and looked away.

"What do you think it is, Ardelle? Don't you think that foot looked human? I bet--"

Ardelle grabbed Elliot's sleeve and pulled him down. "Get down..." 

He nodded, settling in next to her, excitement still written clearly across his face.

Shafts of sunlight cut through through the cavernous insides at irregular intervals, throwing much of the interior into a green gloom. Further in, it grew even more obscure. More dank and dark. Cables hung snake like from shattered floors above. The darkened interior of the mammoth ship felt like some huge cave but there was enough couldn't hear anything except for the buzzing of insects, chirping birds, the trickle of water.

A sudden roar from deep within the bowels of the darkened interior echoed around them and the multi-colored birds that had settled above them cross beams flew out in a cacophony of cawing and fluttering wings.

"What was that?" Lt. Morgan asked.

Private McCoy just shook his head and instead raised his rifle to his chin as the roar grew louder.

In the distance, a lithe shape ran towards them out of the darkness arms flailing, as it stumbled over a root, crying out in obvious fear. It clutched its side, running pell mell towards them.

"What the--?" Claxton said.

"It's the alien!" Elliot said excitement evident in his voice.

"But what's that following it?" Ardelle asked, centering her weapon on the approaching shapes.

A large shape rumbled behind the smaller bipedal figure and emerged from the darkness. It stopped in a shaft of light, sniffing the air. Large claws on muscular limbs churned up the soft earth. It's head was angular, even diamond-like in shape. And its head bore two horns. One, atop its head, glistened wetly as a dark viscous substance oozed down its length. Massive teeth the size of Ardelle's forearm gleamed in the light. It rose up on powerful hind legs and let out a massive roar. The tresses about them seemed to shudder. It's forearms raked the air, not unlike a large mountain cat. It was lithe like one too. 

"Fangs..." Chubbs said. "Didn't I tell you? Everything has fangs!"

Does this person lead them to others?

(50/50 | 1[d10]) Noand...

And ... MAG. It shows:
flask w/ liquid, ring of fire, cell, being of light, timebomb, raincoat, target, beast with horns, jeweled cup.

and... it sounds like she leads something to them.

I the person male?

(50/50 | 5[d10]) Nobut...

No but a strong female... Right ho.

Sounds like to me like a big jungle beastie with unusual biology (cell structure), hears the commotion, and thinks... Lunch! (beast with horns + target) and the person runs back towards them, beast in tow.

What is unusual about the horned beast?

Violently / Mundane

It's particularly violent -- prob more than your rather mundane beast.

What's it's unusual biology?

Carefully / Exotic

Exotic. It's rare... But it's also

Fearfully / Masculine

It's careful... I'll say that means cunning. And fearfully masculine. Alpha male kind of beast with razor sharp fangs, claws, and horns. Got it. Stay away from the pointy ends...

The creature suddenly launched itself towards them, leaping over the fallen bipedal being, but instead of running straight at them, it darted and zig-zagged towards them, as if using the metallic tresses for cover.

"Look how it's moving," Ardelle said in awe. She felt a tremor in her voice.

"Open fire!" Corporal Whately ordered. 

Spears of light lanced out towards the large creature.

--- Combat - Round 1  ---

Here's the creature I came up with:

Horned Beast, Large S: 6, C: 3, Q: 2, H:15, D:8, Mv: 30 

Sk: Charge, Trample 2 (Damage 3), Horned Maul or Claw 3 (Damage 4), Bite 2 (Damage 5)

The humans get one round of attacks against the creature since they saw him at a distance and have range on him. After that, he'll be among them and we go at initiative order. I'll give the creature +1 to its defense this round for using the trusses as cover, so its effective defense is 9 this round.

Here are the stats for Pvt Claxton and Chubs:
Pvt Claxton (USCN/EarthForce) S 4, C 2, Q 2, H 10, D 11, Mv 20, Sk Bludgeon
1, Shooting 3, Bruiser 2, Spacer 1, Perception 1 X 70

Pvt Chubbs (USCN/EarthForce) S 5, C 1, Q 1, H 11, D 11, Mv 20, Sk Bludgeon
1, Shooting 3, Bruiser 2, Spacer 1 X 70

Corporal Whately (USCN/EarthForce) S 3, C 2, Q 2, H 10, D 11, Mv 20, Sk Bludgeon
1, Shooting 3, Bruiser 2, Spacer 1, Command 1, Perception 1 X 70


Whately shoots:
Clever 2 + Shooting 3 = 5 + 6 = 6[d6] = 11 (that's a hit for 2 + 7 rifle = 9 damage)

Claxton shoots:
Clever 2 + Shooting 3 = 5 + 2 = 2[d6] = 7 (that's a miss)

Chubbs shoots:
Clever 1 + Shooting 3 = 4 + 1 = 1[d6] = 5 (that's a miss)

Ardelle shoots:
Clever 2 + Shooting 1 = 3 + 5 = 5[d6] = 8 (barely a miss)

Lt Morgan shoots:
Clever 3 + shooting 1 = 4 + 3 = 3[d6] = 7 (miss)



Whately's Initiative:
1 = 1[d6] + 2 = 3

Claxton's Initiative:
1 = 1[d6] + 2 = 3


Chubbs Initiative:
1 = 1[d6] +2 = 3 


Horned Beast Init:
4 = 4[d6] + 2 = 6


Ardelle 
2 = 2[d6] + 2 = 4


Lt. Morgan 
5 = 5[d6] + 1 = 6



--- Combat - Round 2  ---
Lt Morgan shoots won the initiative and goes first:

Clever 3 + shooting 1 = 4 + 2 = 2[d6] = 6 (miss)

Horned beast goes next... It rushes towards someone. Who? Does it go for the closest warriors?

(Likely | 7[d10]) Yes

1 - Pfc Claxton
2 - Pfc Chubbs
3 - Cpl Whately

We'll roll a 1d3

2 = 2[d3]

Towards Pfc Chubbs... poor guy Smile
Strength (6) + Trample (2) = 8 + 3 = 3[d6]
It gets an 11 vs Chubb's current defense of 10 (normally, Chubbs'd have an 11 with powered combat armor, but he just has his normal ablative armor that adds 1 to defense and -1 to move). So it hits by 1 and gives 4 damage. Chubbs has a health of 11 and has 7 health remaining.

---

Does Chubbs lose his rifle?

(50/50 | 10[d10]) Yesand...

And shots go spraying...

----

Ardelle leveled her weapon and shot with the others. The powerful energy bolts rained down around the beast, and some were deflected by his creative use of the available cover. Aredelle's shot went wide, but thankfully, a burst of pulse shots from one of the marines scored a hit. The shots slammed into the creatures side, punching through its thick hide and it slammed into a truss with a clang. Red blood oozed out from the hits, but it only slowed momentarily. It shook its head, bellowed in either pain or frustration or defiance, and continued it's rumbling charge towards them. 

In front of her and to the left, she saw Pfc Chubbs curse as the beast wheeled around a truss and came at him. Chubbs fired shot after shot at it, but the large creature darted quickly among the metal pillars in and out of pockets of light, its feet churned up dark moist earth. Other shots smacked the ground or the nearby truss. The creature lowered its head and barreled into Pfc Chubbs with bone-crunching force. Clods of dark earth flew into the air and blue pulse shots sprayed up into the vastness above them from Chubbs's rifle before it flew from his hands. The beast continued to charge headlong past Chubb's position, but the man was no longer there. Ardelle saw that he had grabbed hold of the massive horn atop its head to avoid being trampled under foot. He held on as the beast ran with him.

"Private, get clear!" Corporal Whately yelled his rifle centered the charging beast as hit continued the charge past them.

Private Chubbs either ignored him or couldn't hear him, because Ardelle saw that he held onto the horn with one arm, and with his other, he yanked tore his combat knife out of the belt and tried to slam it into into the beast's neck.

Chubbs needs get a 9 to beat the defense of 8 and hit and damage the creature with his knife.
Strength (5) + 1d6 (rolled a 3) = 8

But try as he might, the knife only scored the beast's thick armor. The others held their fire, waiting for a clear shot.

The beast tossed it's massive diamond-shaped head trying to toss the large man.

Strength  (5) + Bruiser (2) + 1d6 check to hold on. (This is unarmed combat, like grappling falls into this category). I'll say it's going to be very difficult TN of 10 but if he beats it, he'll be atop the beast and will have advantage for next turn.

He rolled a 5 for a 12.  Success. 

But private Chubbs hung on, and was soon atop the creature. As the beast rampaged about, Chubbs somehow managed to hang on like a cowboy from some old-fashioned rodeo, he attempted to plunge the knife down into the beast's massive eye.

Strength 5 + 2 advantage = 7 + 1d6  (he rolled a 5) for a 12. That's 4 points past the creature's defense. So he gives 5 (strength) + 4 = 9 total damage. The creature was already wounded before...

With a roar, Pfc Chubbs held on with his left hand, and with all his might slammed the long knife in his right hand into the creature's eye large. With little resistance from such a soft target, the blade sank up past the blade and into the creature's brain. He stumbled and fell as Chubbs attempted to leap free.

TN of 6 to roll with it and not take any damage.

Quickness 1 + 1 Bruiser = 2 + 1d6 (he rolled a 4) so he meets the TN of 6. No damage.

The instant Chubbs leaped free, a torrent of fire slashed the darkness and impacted against the heaving sides of the quivering beast. Pulse shots penetrated the thick hide in a few dozen dozen places, and soon it wasn't moving at all. The charred flesh where the powerful energy bolts had slammed into it, emitted acrid tendrils of smoke that drifted lazily around the fallen creature.

"Hold your fire!"

"I think you all got it," Elliot said peeking up over the truss.

"When I say get free, you get free Private." Corporal Whately said, concern on his face as he strode up to Private Chubbs and helped him to his feet. Chubbs's armor was scraped and dented in half a dozen places and some armored plates had been torn away completely. 

"Sorry Corporal," Chubbs said with a wan smile. He staggered slightly and had to hold onto Whately. "I think maybe it hit my head. Probably impeded my judgement or somethin'."

"Huh. I didn't think there was much up there to begin with," Claxton said good naturedly as he punched him in his shoulder with a bong sound and handed Chubbs his rifle. "uhh you can get your own knife. I ain't reachin' in there." 

"Hah hah. Very funny," Chubbs said and once he had steadied walked over and reached into the ocular cavity and pulled out the melee weapon. He wiped it on his trousers as best he could and slid it back into its scabbard. 

"You okay, Private?" Corporal Whately asked. 

"Good to go, Corporal," Pfc Chubbs said with a grunt.

"Gutsy what you did there," Whately said clapping him on one shoulder. Then he turned back to Lt. Morgan. "Lieutenant, let's hope there aren't many more of those things. While Private Chubbs is an army unto himself, it's best not to take chances."

"Agreed," Lt. Morgan said. 

"What about it?" Elliot said, pointing.

Lt. Morgan's gaze swept passed Elliot, past Chubbs, past the beast then further into the interior of the ruined ship where it settled on the humanoid shape twisted in pain. "Let's find out what's going on here."
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#28
I just discovered this site today and this is the third report I've read--but definitely the most fun one so far!
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#29
Thanks inkWanderer! I hope you continue to enjoy the site and the story.
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#30
Episode 17 - Chameleons

Lt. Morgan, flanked by Ardelle and the others, approached the fallen alien humanoid, weapons at the ready. As they drew near, the alien shrank back against one of the trusses. It was clothed with a crude loincloth. Large eyes swiveled in a large skull. They rotated and tracked them, pupils dilating and took in their weapons. A wary look of... consternation or maybe fear crossed it's face. Its head was shaved save for a topknot of brown hair that hung down to his shoulders, a leather band at its base. 

The skin on the top part of its torso then shifted to a near-metallic color, blending in with the truss that it leaned against. "What the--?" Private Chubbs said, his weapon coming to his cheek. 

"Lower your weapons," Lt. Morgan said waving his hand down. She then holstered her own pistol. The creature visibly relaxed as the weapons were lowered or holstered, but it was still wary. 

"It's hurt," Elliot said, "and bleeding."

Ardelle saw that the humanoid held its side and a little reddish blood seeped through fingers. It breathing was labored, whether that was from pain or from fear or both, Ardelle wasn't sure. 

Lt. Morgan crouched down in front of it, examining it with obvious fascination, "It looks almost human!" 

"Is that possible?" Elliot asked.

"Well, apparently so," Lt. Morgan said. "Given a planet with similar environmental pressures, they could have followed a similar evolutionary path with a few differences... That's to be expected. But if this is, as we suspect, a colony ship, then those environmental pressures probably originated from someplace else."

"The skin is unusual," Ardelle said shifting her weight and examining the creature. "It is human-like from a distance, but up close you can see an semi-translucent second layer atop it, like overlapping plates... and that second skin can receded into the other. It also has the ability to mimic the colors and textures of its surroundings."

"You mean like my pet chameleon?" Chubbs asked, trying hard not to snigger. "You mean they're lizards?"

"Excuse me? I should say not." Lt. Morgan said. "It has two legs, stands upright and has a shock of hair atop its head. It's definitely more humanoid. And...I believe this is a warm-blooded mammal. Like yourself. Of course, they can change color at will apparently... a most beneficial genetic trait." 

"That thing ain't like me, ma'am. It ain't no human," Chubbs shook his large helmeted head from side to side.

"No, Private, perhaps not," the older woman said. "But it's more human than lizard. It's not terribly unlike us, actually. In fact, if I had to hazard a guess, I'd say it's a "he", judging from its narrow hips, the obvious upper-body strength. We'll know for sure, of course, once we see the females.

"Alien Lizard men... Chameleons..." Chubbs swore and shook his head his eyes widening as he examined the being more closely. "My pops would never believe this."

"We keep saying aliens, but we're on their planet. Doesn't that make us the aliens?" Claxton asked.

Chubbs cast him a dark look.

"Hey, I'm just sayin'," Pfc Claxton muttered.

"Ma'am," Ardelle interjected, "should I tend its wounds?"

"Go ahead Ensign. If it lets you."

After a few moments of trying, the 'man' was having none of it. It was hard not to think of it as a 'man', the similarities were too similar. It tried to back further into the truss, it's eyes locked on hers and it pushed her hands away. He looked like he wished he could melt into the metal. It was so unlike any other "man's" behavior around her, she wasn't sure how to respond. She sat back on her heals and watched him. How could she blame this male fear though? Blood continued to seep from its wound. After observing him for a while, she decided it wasn't life threatening. 

"I think he'll live," their eyes locked. His were golden and reflected the light... like some nocturnal creature.

"The eyes... " Ardelle added. "They're almost cat-like. I'd bet good money it can see quite well in the dark."

"And there's a keenness behind them. I bet it's intelligent," Elliot added. "Not to mention it can craft clothes, and can use tools." A belt knife was in a scabbard made from some kind animal hide.

Without warning, the being's eyes widened further and it emitted a series of loud clicks and popping sounds. These were interspersed with a vague scraping susurrus. It sounded like like a blade rasping across sandstone and the snapping of twigs.

"Did it just--?" Ardelle looked around.

"Speak? Yes, I think it did," Lt. Morgan said. "But the way it spoke was with sounds that would be impossible for humans to approximate. That means it's mouth is considerably different from our own. Fascinating creatures!"

In the dark, at a distance, they heard other clicks and popping sounds, sounds that were drawing nearer.

"Ma'am, I think we have company," Corporal Whateley said, raising his weapon. His voice was cool and professional, his tone and posture tight and alert. Pfc Chubbs and Claxton immediately spun and raised weapons, and the trio formed a small defensive semi-circle as more humanoid shapes emerged from the darkness and stepped into the large shaft of light. Their colors blended in, like an octopus.

"More chameleons!" Chubbs said in a tight voice. 

"Easy. We don't want to start an incident. Weapons down," Lt. Morgan ordered. She showed her palms towards them. Ardelle hoped that was a universal sign of peace. She and Elliot followed suit

The marines then also complied, letting their guns hang from their slings somewhat grudgingly. They too raised empty hands. Perhaps a dozen of the aliens now surrounded them. Ardelle could easily see the difference in genders now and Lt. Morgan gave smug smile. "Ah, I was right. There are your Lizard women, Private Chubbs."

"Lizards ain't women..." Chubbs corrected. 

Claxton nudged him. "Such racism... or sexism... Or is it both?"

"I'm just sayin' I'm not gonna ask one on a date, okay?"

"Your loss," Claxton said, perking up studying the women closely. "To borrow a line from an ancient earth film, they got all the right curves in all the right places."

"Geez, you and your movies. You're as bad as McCoy ever was."

"That's enough you two," Whately said.

Ardelle didn't pay the soldiers any mind. She was too fascinated by the similarities of these beings with her own species. The group was comprised of both male and female... Chameleons. How quickly humans classified and compartmentalized people. But Chameleons was as good a name as any, and it was descriptive. They bore spears, bows, slings, and knives. All their devices were of primitive make, but she saw that most of the blades on their spears, swords, knives, bows appeared crafted from the hull of the huge ship. Metal plates that were scraped or filed to gleaming sharpness. 

Their skin shifted colors as they cautiously approached. As they neared, they also lowered their weapons. They weren't hostile, apparently merely wary. More communicative snaps, pops and whispered passed between the original Chameleon and his newly-arrived cohorts.

Judging from their facial expressions, which might be a dangerous thing to do, Ardelle assumed that they were showing relief. The wounded man wasn't seriously wounded, and the newcomers seemed to understand that the humans had something to do with that fact, especially when he pointed at the huge horned beast and then swept and arm indicating the humans and trilled off another series of excited clicks and pops.

An older 'woman', larger than the other women and larger than some of the men, but not fat, just muscular, stepped forward and also showed her palms. She then examined them each in turn, walking around them all. Finally she stopped in front of Lt. Morgan. She pressed her hand against her mouth, moved it away, and then emitted a long series of clicks and whispered pops. This she did twice more. 

"Are you getting all this Ensign?" Lt. Morgan whispered, her eye brows raised. "I'm not sure what they're doing."

"Yes ma'am, my armor mounted recorder has been running since we touched down in the jungle."

"Good. I wish I understood what they were saying. I'm suddenly wishing we had brought down those linguists with us. I'm sure they'd be able to make heads or tails out of it. It sound almost like..."

"Dolphin?" Arelle asked.

"Yes... It has some similarities"

"Well, I think they're introducing themselves," Ardelle said. 

Ardelle spoke the woman's name. Or at least the closest sounds she could come up with. It was a bastardized approximation, she knew, and came out as something like "Sevshyyn". The Chameleon woman looked confused for a moment, then smiled and bobbed her head. Hopefully that meant yes. It seemed to at least...

The man who found them gave his name as well. It was something like "Drixtznevyet"... It sounded Russian, and Ardelle immediately shortened it to "Drix" for ease of use. The man grunted, gave an unreadable look, but eventually nodded and moved off.

Ardelle and Lt. Morgan tried to communicate back, in turn, introducing themselves and the other members of their team. When that was done, the shaft of light they were standing in had slanted down at a different angle. They had been talking for an hour. But it was obvious that despite their differences, the Chameleons demonstrated real intelligence.

After several long moments of halting communications, the humans managed to understand that the new comers wanted them to follow them to someplace deeper into the gloom. The Chameleons started to withdraw led by Sevshyyn who motioned for them to follow. Drix stayed near them, casting their party sidelong looks, as if to indicate that they were his prize. He fairly swaggered about, leaning on a spear as he walked. He even smiled, showing teeth.  

"I don't think they mean us harm," Lt. Morgan said. "But let's all keep an eye out, shall we? Come along," And she stepped into the darkness.

--- GM Emulator Results ---

They investigate the humanoid alien. How is this race different from humans?

Very / Damaged

I'll say that means that their entire race has been very damaged, perhaps nearly exterminated. That seems to fit what's happening anyway.

Do other remnants of this race appear?

(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes

Are they grateful to the humans for aiding one of their own?

(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

Are they technologically primitive?

(Likely | 7[d10]) Yes

Physically, how are they different?

I'll try the MAG to spur some ideas! 
Let's see... a test tube, chinese throwing star, giant knife slicing through human but no apparent blood, flower petals closed, humanoid with two shadow humanoids, electronic heart, butterfly, glasses or lenses, a camp fire. 
I'll say they have some genetic modifications (test tube) that have given them incredibly tough skin that is resistant to cutting (blade through humanoid). The skin can also shift and blending with the environment (shadows, petals, butterfly), and they're eyesight is keener than the average human. But they've lost most of their technology (camp fire) and use primitive weapons (chinese throwing star).

With those enhancements it makes sense how one of them has survived a gore attack from the razor beast.

Is the first one who got hurt a male?

(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes

Is the blood red?

(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes

Is this "man" attracted to Ardelle?

(Likely | 3[d10]) No

Well, there's always a first time... Smile

Do they make sounds with their language that can be produced by a human mouth?

(50/50 | 2[d10]) No

Does it let Ardelle attend to their wounds (+1 for assisting it, -3 language and cultural barriers) -- so unlikely

(Unlikely | 2[d10]) No

How seriously was it wounded?

(2 = 2[d20]) Negligible: Nick/Scratch/Bruise.
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