Medical Technician's Log – Angel – Entry 54
I swear to god Gatecrashers must have some fundamental psychological flaw. They're like moths drawn to bug zappers or lemmings to cliffs (all right, I've heard that last one is a myth, but you get the idea). Take for example Ivan Kuro. Not only is it a bit odd that a high-end fashion designer is even here in the first place, it turns out he's incorporated alien tech into his fashion, and practically licks anything alien we find… repeatedly… even after the first lick laid him out. I'm tempted to just… NOT medic him next time he flash-burns himself on a piece of inscrutable alien tech.
I should probably start at the beginning. The base camp team finally got our fusion-powered aircraft assembled. It's an unwieldy thing built on the "long range cargo plane" model rather than the zippy jet model, but it has big bouncy tires and doesn't require a runway that's TOO smooth… and it can land on water. Fourteen of us loaded up the plane with supplies, scientific instruments, a crate of Spare morphs, and a set of TerraGenesis's high-end laser/microwave link portable self-repairing mesh nodes. The plan was to fly toward the nearest ruins some 70,000 kilometers from base camp to see if we can find anything of Dr. Gunderson's long-lost expedition. We were to set up the mesh nodes on the way, and they would maintain LoS laser / microwave links back to basecamp, a sort of hovering umbilical for data back and forth. It's a bit tenuous when dealing with distances this enormous, and any one break in the link will bring down the whole umbilical, but it's better than nothing.
We were about four days out of base camp and about halfway to the ruins when Amber Jin Feng spotted something odd and distinctly artificial. Fortunately it was close to a lake, and we were able to land the plane notwithstanding the forest canopy. We saw what looked like a sizeable construction of circles… interlocking rings made of a strange metallic substance with a very low friction gradient. Broken parts of the structure showed the interior or the ring-like mechanisms made out of some sort of porous metallic "foam". There was some sort of liquid, maybe lubricant? leaking out into the local water table… we wondered what it was doing to the wildlife.
In our explorations, it became clear that the mechanism wasn't entirely broken. It seemed to react to some of us, but not all of us, specifically [[:kiyoshi-noah-kitano | Kitano]] and his sidekick Saito, Kvasir, and Ivan (although later it seemed more likely that it was reacting to Ivan's alien-fashion rather than Ivan himself. Eventually it came out that Kvasir's an async. That… upset me. I've been working with the guy for months now, you'd think he'd let us in on it. Diederich apparently knew. Ah well. Just means I'll have to be a little more careful should Kvasir ever become wounded while in a biomorph, an eventuality that seems unlikely. As for Kitano… he apparently has something unusual going on. In typical fashion he refused to explain.
So the mechanism apparently reacts to people infected by odd Titan plagues and alien tech. Ivan's shock glove started sparking a hot yellow energy far in excess of any capacitors a normal shock glove would have. Of course he had to walk up and touch the structure with it which knocked him out. He reported seeing a strange vision / dream of the red dwarf we theorize sits at the heart of this immense world. The broken structure also leaked different colored fluids in response to different people from the team. Analysis of the fluid revealed it to be a smart-liquid of some sort… each molecule is an alien nanomachine of unknown function or purpose. Needless to say, the eggheads back in base camp dropped whatever they were doing to analyze the data we were sending back via the umbilical.
Amber's aerial reconnaissance revealed that the structure was an immense buried "donut", mostly covered in soil, trees, etc. with a swampy valley in the center about 10km across. As members of the team clambered all over this buried structure, though, it started activating, shaking the trees, rocks, and soil loose under them and nearly burying them. They retreated to the swampy center, but the water and soil started to subside, and they fled back out through the broken segment. It seemed the structure had initiated a self-repair diagnostic. It started cannibalizing dirt, rock, and biological matter to use in self-repair fabrication. After about six hours, we were looking at a large, 10km wide, 15m tall donut of moving, interlocking rings and wheels surrounding a flat "courtyard" like center of similarly moving, interlocking machinery. It was pretty clear that the courtyard was not intended for people to stand on, as its moving parts would crush someone pretty quick.
Needless to say, there was a lot of speculation coming down the umbilical for what this immense machine was for. Kvasir came to the intuitive conclusion that it was a portal into the interior or the sphere. He and Ivan tried to see if they could poke it with whatever. Kvasir got his Spare morph fried, and Ivan got his flesh fried doing exactly what he did before… touching the structure with his weird alien yellow-crystal glove… as if he didn't already know what would happen. Stuff like this drives medics to drink.
Whether Kvasir's self-destructive plan or Ivan's plan did the deed, or whether the machine just activated on its own, it eventually stopped moving and the couryard irised open to reveal a dark perfectly cylindrical shaft. Ansel Ness's sensory suite revealed it was 738m deep. Tentative exploration into the shaft resulted in the conclusion that it's an enormous airlock.
Folks at base camp are going to cannibalize the pieces of the two jet aircraft they have and load them onto ground vehicles. It will probably take them half a month to get here overland, and then another half a month to assemble a shuttle capable of no-atmosphere flight (under the assumption there's just empty space on the other side of the airlock…) and by that time our excursion should have been able to find those ruins, maybe even the larger city a further 240,000km out, and returned. We'll see. The immensities of this place's geography make such planning difficult. Either way, the base camp folks have already assured us that even if they do figure out how to open the airlock, they won't go through until we're back. Wouldn't want their "first in" team to not be first I guess… that or we're canaries in this coal mine.