Eclipse Phase - Uncharted

Hyperintelligent Shade of the Color Blue

4 XP = Total 17 XP

Xenolinguist's Log, Entry 2075
Cailey Macek

Finally, after all my training and theoretical modeling, I've encountered and begun developing a grammar and vocabulary for my first alien language… and it's the color-language of the Giant Pacific Octopus. Sigh.

I'm actually being facetious to cover for the incredible awe at actually encountering an alien sentience for the first time. Sure, I've studied all the interactions with the Factors back in the Sol system, but this… this was beyond my greatest expectations when I started gatecrashing. Just because the aliens ended up learning one of OUR languages doesn't mean I won't eventually figure out how to talk to them in theirs.

So… yeah… backstory: We, the Lassiter team employed by Danielle Astra, spent most of a week helping Acosta organize the new colony on the exoplanet that has been dubbed "Pangaea." We provided the microfacturing technology and finished goods, they provided manpower in collecting raw materials from the exoplanet that lies between Lassiter and Pangaea, which we should probably name something other than "radioactive giant crater world." The plan was a mutually beneficial exchange of goods and services to help Pangaea become something more viable than a castaway squatter's camp while also helping Astra with her goals, and simultaneously, eventually, getting enough spare feedstock and production capacity to build an orbital rocket capable of getting an exploration team up to one of the big alien satellites circling radioactive giant crater world.

My brother and his creepy friends wandered around getting to know the colonists, Chloelia Octavia palled around with the other uplifts and shady sorts, Luna even gave an amazing concert as a morale booster, even convincing Acosta and Alexi Oda to be backup dancers, to much catastrophic comic relief. Eventually things started to look more like a colony and less like a catastrophe. 

I stayed at Pangaea while my brother and his team went back to radioactive giant crater world to more thoroughly check out the ruins of that TITAN war factory they found. Unfortunately, they found a handful of active TITAN headhunter bots that they had to destroy, and something… even more awful buried deep. They left it buried. After a lengthy quarantine with Astra, they reported their findings and she sent a specialist. I think we should just leave it buried and not poke at it, but hey, I'm not a hyperintelligent computer program.

One benefit of poking at the TITAN factory was Alexi found a storage room filled with carefully-stored exotic metals which boosted our rocket ship production timetable dramatically. It's a modular design so we could get the pieces through the gate, and so there's lots of points of potential failure, but it slotted together nicely enough. It's surprisingly large, probably in case there's plunder to bring back from the satellites… or maybe it's to fit enough thug-types to ensure the safety of the explorers. Whatever the reason, I was super happy there was plenty of room for an exolinguist!

So we blasted off and found the satellite. It was… bigger than I imagined. More like an orbital space station than a satellite. We docked, donned our suits and ventured inside. There was atmosphere, although it was an odd mix of gasses. There was enough oxygen that the biomorphs among us could theoretically breathe for about twenty minutes before getting lightheaded and eventually passing out… but the trace gasses were really weird. Lots of noble gasses and more exotic ones in trace amounts. 

At first it looked like we were going to be disappointed. The whole thing seemed abandoned. There was tons of inscrutable machinery, and it was pretty clear it wasn't built by the Factors or the Iktomi or any of the other alien civilizations whose ruins we've found, but there was zero trace of any biological material. As we wandered, though, we started to notice that the interior lighting was following us, and even weirder, the light spectra being emitted was precisely calibrated for transhuman eyes. There were no wavelengths outside of that spectrum being emitted by the interior lights, even though those lights seemed capable of extraordinary precision and an incredibly diverse range.

This prompted some experimentation. Chloelia learned that if she wandered off by herself, the interior lights only emitted spectra visible to her octopus morph, which isn't quite the same range as the biomorphs. When Alexi or I shifted our visual sensors to pick up wavelengths into the infrared or ultraviolet, the interior lights shifted to accommodate. Some intelligence within the station was capable of reading our biological and synthetic visual sensors accurately, in real time, and project appropriate wavelengths of light.

Each end-cap of the cylindrical station was a dome capable of being opaque or transparent. On one end, the dome room contained only six machines, equally spaced around the central shaft through which we entered. Each machine seemed to be extremely powerful emitters for electromagnetic radiation, much like the interior lighting but even more so. Alexi decided on a whim to push a random button and, luckily, it proved to be the right one. The entire apparatus turned on, the dome went opaque, and pulses of light began churning into the room at wavelengths even I couldn't see after the tiny flash from the machines. Clearly they were building to an intense amount of light deep below the ultraviolet spectrum… maybe even down to X-rays. I began to worry that my squishier companions might get cancer.

Then the Thing appeared. It looked something like brain cells fluorescing a deep, pulsing purple, and they appeared to be growing throughout the station, filling the central shaft and the various layer-cake levels… places we'd been physically walking without realizing we were… inside it. It seemed only quasi-real, not entirely solid, but it started flashing and pulsing at us.

This began a very unusual dialogue. Chloelia, having the natural capacity to shift colors dramatically and rapidly, began mimicking its pulses, and it in turn began mimicking her colors. After some time at this, it apparently got a good enough read of her neurology to start painstakingly learning the color-language of the giant pacific octopus. It was a very lengthy affair, but the time seemed to zip right by for me. I found the whole thing fascinating. I recorded all of it, and I've attached the XP to this log entry along with my notations. I had Chloelia speak out to provide translations for the color shifts and patterns. Unsurprisingly, the color-language of the octopus is fairly simple, focused on predator-prey notions and natural/survival concepts, but there was surprising nuance, mostly conveyed through surface patterns.

The alien brain-thing seemed to pick it up pretty quickly, and eventually we established a basic communication. The first thing it wanted to know is if we were the "same" as the creatures that came "on the dark current" before us. We inferred it meant the TITANS, and explained that we had "birthed our own predators" and that they were "no longer hunting us, but we can't see them." It seemed to accept this. Perhaps it had seem such cycles of self-destruction before. It seemed to view us as "infants" and held off destroying us when it sensed gate activity out of curiosity. We told it we were lost and trying to find our way back home. It seemed willing to let us continue to do so. It called itself the "Children of the Sun." It spoke in both singular and plural. Either it's one enormous entity, or a gestalt, or a hive mind or something. Hell, I don't know. That's not my area. 

It seems this intelligence evolved or belongs in this solar system. It seems (and again, I'm inferring a lot from relatively simple language) that something else built the gate, and the "Children of the Sun" have worked to keep it bottled up. Anytime something awful comes through, they throw an asteroid at it, like they did with the TITANS ten years ago. I kinda wonder how often they've had to do this over the years. It also had a negative reaction to Naomi, calling her "poisoned" and "possibly poisonous." I assume it meant her Watts-MacLeod infection. It seems this quasi-dimensional intelligence really has a thing against it and anything related to it (like the TITANS). Hey, at least it didn't bombard the planet just because she was down there, or airlock all of us because she came aboard.

It did express concern that we'd been poking in the TITAN ruins, but it did promise to warn us if it felt the need to throw an asteroid at the gate again. We asked what the warning would be. The dome went transparent and suddenly the sun turned purple.

Yeah. So… out on a limb… maybe that enormous artificial structure in the sun's corona is the … home base? central mind? Whatever? of this thing, and this intelligence has mastered stellar mechanics to the point where it can influence the spectra of light emitted by this system's sun. 

Kinda mind-blowing.

We figured that was plenty of crazy to absorb in one go. It indicated that communicating with us on our level was exhausting for it, but it was receptive to the idea of further talks later. We returned to our ship and back down to the planet where the miners confirmed the sun's brief color change. 

So, yeah! I've got an alien language! Octopus! Or, rather, the hyperintelligent quasi-dimensional being that can manifest to us under certain shades of deep ultraviolet radiation is capable of speaking octopus, and therefore so must we.

 

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ardhanari

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