92. Lost in translation

Talo watches Anita dissemble with raised brow. He turns to Gordon, “Can you ask these folks or LG if they know what is in those pillar, case, thingies? One of them spit out a handle but I did not want to mess with it going in completely blind.”

Talo’s message is translated and LG says “Oh dear, those sound like sarcophagi of the Elder Things. I wasn’t aware that we had any of them aboard, they must have been put aboard at the last minute. Perhaps it might be an idea to leave the Elder Things alone, they might be somewhat put out that they’ve been left sleeping for over 300 years.”

Now feeling better after visiting the Med bay, Jenson follows the group to the command center to talk to LG.
Once there Jenson talks to Anita in a calm voice “Anita, Anita is it, hi, Jenson is my name. Easy, I will help us figure out what happened and we can go from there, it will be OK, I promise.” smiles then moves over to the Command center communications consul and asks LG a few questions. “LG, Jenson here, a 3rd class Clerk from Earth in the Northern Hemisphere’s 9th quadrant, sector 4’s civilized aqua section assigned by the Ford & Chrysler motor division to be sent via cargo class transportation to, to, hhmm oh drat I cannot remember. Oh bother, none the less, so, first things first, what is today’s date?”

“Welcome, I am part of the United Systems exploration and contact vessel Limited Gravitas. Please just call me ‘LG’. The date is the 3rd of March 2863.”

“What!” Exclaims Anita “We’ve been in stasis for more than 300 years?”

“Ah, so you were a cargo class passenger? You are very lucky that the stasis pods have lasted as long as they have.”

Jenson pauses then asks “Can you read to me the ships flight status logs, what planet have we landed on, what ship this is and where is everybody else, crew, all of the other passengers and status of the cargo and lastly this ships current operational status. Thanks”.

“I’m afraid I don’t have access to the flight status logs and you don’t have permission to access them anyway. The planet we are currently in orbit around is designated USSD 2393-52290122352-4, a garden class world orbiting a G2 star with three moons.
Perhaps I should explain what happened to the ship, which has left you in this… unfortunate situation. I was in transit from Station 27 to the colony on USSD 2333-32168432464-2-4 when several passengers and crew began to report having nightmares. This quickly escalated to delusions and then psychosis. The disease spread quickly but no agent of infection could be detected. The situation deteriorated quickly with systems being sabotaged and animals being released from the garden level and stasis. In a desperate attempt to isolate the infectious agent killing the passengers and crew, this section of the ship was detached – at warp – and fell into a singularity. However the section survived the encounter and emerged from warp approximately 142,000 light years from earth. You are the only human survivors of the original passengers and crew that I am aware off. I have no access to the other five levels of this section but structural integrity seems good and I detect no atmosphere leaks. I still have power and estimate fuels stocks should last several hundred years. I must warn you however that only this central section of deck one is safe, as there are numerous mutants and alien animals roaming the ship.”

Kalam let the newcomers and his party do the talking with LG, all the while staying outside their base of operations and guarding its entrance.

“Safety first, until LG has gained complete control of this vessel, or as much of it as possible,” he said to everyone as he ushered them in. After everyone was in, he stood relaxed for the sake of appearances, seeming to be half asleep. It was all a ruse though, for underneath his relaxed exterior he was scanning their immediate area continuously.

Kradorn looks about the room as the strange people recover. Waiting as the emotion of their situation seems to be overwhelming them. Thinking about their continued plan of cleaning the ship.
“Cynan, watch the hallway.” Kradorn asks as they wait for Jensen to adjust.
“You are welcome to join us as we move about the ship. Stay behind any fighting it doesn’t appear you have been trained in combat.” Kradorn says as he approaches.

“I’m not going anywhere mister. This deck looks like a bomb’s gone off in it, god knows what the rest of the ship’s like. I’m staying here with the security bots thank you. Who the hell are you anyway?” shouts Anita.

The party shuffle out of the command centre and wait in the corridor. “Why don’t we just get one of them boxes and bugger off back home?” asks Munin.

“Because we are not at home right now, or at least close enough for the magic to work. As I understand it, the ship is moving in the air and is somewhere else…”
Kalam spoke while his attention was still in checking the corridors, eyes darting back and forth while talking.
“…perhaps when we restore control and security of the ship to LG, he can move it closer to home, master dwarf.”

“Cuz we got things to finish up here first,” replies Talo. Changing his attention back to Kradorn, he continues, “Where to now, chief? I think hunting in the garden level will be helpful and seems to be a good hiding spot for a lot of the missing beasties LG was talkin’ bout.”

Gildor chimes in, “Kalam, I think LG said this was just part of the ship and has no movement capabilities. We should do as Munin suggests and get one of those box things and bring it up to where we teleported in and use that to get us back home. If we got here by teleportation or something equivalent, we should be able to get back home too.”

Munin nods in agreement to everything Gildor says. “We have a job to do, we have a way home now and we need to get King Thraim’s body back where it belongs. This place is a tomb, filled with ghosts and monsters. These two are welcome to come back with us but I’m with Gildor, let’s get one of them boxes and get LG’s mechanical monsters to fix replace the old box for us and let’s leave.”

“I don’t like that there was movement in the garden area near where we rescued these two. Let’s get back there and retrieve a black box thing and bring it up here to swap it out. Once it’s working we can go from there as to how we proceed. There is a limited time before we must be back. LG can you have a repair unit swap the units for us? Your repair units can safely remove one of the units we need and bring it up to were we need it faster and more reliable than we could ourselves? We can show them the bad unit and they can go with us to get a good one?”

“I’m afraid I can’t spare a repair golem to assist you but if you want to bring a power cell here all you have to do is switch it off and disconnect it. It’s a simple procedure.” says LG.

Jenson takes a step back from LG, stutters a moment then stands up straight and turns to Anita. “Nope, I was not expecting this, this situation.” Pauses in thought “OK, Anita, staying here may be your best avenue to avoid hostility, as this command communication center room is secure.” Turns to LG “LG, Anita can stay here alone if she chooses?”

“Of course she can, it is much safer here than wondering about the ship.” LG replies.

Once answered “Ok, let’s take this one piece at a time, shall we” Hums a moment in thought “Well, we are the only ones assumed left alive from the original crew. I guess I should be shocked and crying my eyes out over this but hey, that will have to wait. Now” looks to Anita, ”We need to figure out what is our best course of action to survive..”

“A, we are stuck here until help arrives, if it arrives” brightens up “LG, 300 years is a long time but not long enough for help to arrive. Was a distress signal transmitted at any time during the flight or upon orbit here?”

“I am afraid I do not have the the capacity to transmit a warp signal and even if I could it would take 92 years for the signal to picked up by the closest relay beacon and even if they sent a rescue vehicle straight away, it would take at least 460 years to get here.”

“In the meantime, LG, do you know how those individuals” and points to the group “Got on the ship if she is in orbit?” “And, does this ship have any portable language translators available?”

“These people claim to have arrived by some dimensional gateway, using a technology unknown to me. However this end of the gateway was powered by a power cell that has become exhausted and needs replacing or recharging, something that can only be done on level 6.” explains LG.
“I believe there is a translator in a desk in the security office.” it continues.

Kradorn waits to hear what LG has to say to them about the situation. In the back of his mind he wonders how usefully these people will be since they have been asleep for so long. But they will know more about the ship then what little he understand of the tomb ship.
“We can check out this garden… circle forest. I know it will have something we have never encountered before though. So everyone must be prepared. I am not concerned with what we kill on this ship. I want us to get back to Lands End.” Kradorn replies.
“LG. Is there are a way to communicate with them without you translating for us? I know the forest is of much interest with our group. But what would be the next course of action to get the ship under yours or their control?”

“I’m afraid these passengers do not have the rank or the experience to command a vessel of this type. If you go to manufacturing and can wait a short time, I can create both a translator for Jensen and replacement communication nodes which should facilitate communication on this deck once installed.”

“Och, not another side-track!!” sighs Munin. “Let’s go get that damn box and get out of here!”

“I disagree Munin. Kradorn, communication is of vital importance. It will be of great value to us to have instant discussion with LG whenever and wherever, at this floor at least. Of course I will abide with your decision.”
Kalam then addressed LG.
“LG, do I have your permission to check the possibility of using materials of this ship for building things? I have some skills as a smith and I would like to try them with these strange materials, some of which appear to be superior to our own. You have workshops I could have a look at and perhaps I could build a forge or use some source of heat for my work, with your permission of course.”

“I’m afraid the manufacturing facilities on this deck do not resemble forges at all. They are automated and utilise molecular construction and bonding techniques.” Explains LG helpfully.

“LG, the Security office, where is that and can I get permission to enter to retrieve the translator?”

LG shows Jenson on a screen. It’s just through a couple of door behind them.

Sighs, “Even if LG made the call for help or others did when they separated this section, we have another 160 years at minimum before any possible help.” turns to Anita, “I think we help these people, um yeah, these people get the necessary means to be transported back to their planet below. If nothing else, you would not be alone, stuck on this craft with unknown creatures about but instead be with living beings.” Shrugs “so what if they are not from our time, I guess I would take any intelligent human company over um, pardon LG, mechanical. Live life on a planet instead of on a ship.”, chuckles “there is no future here for us”
Turns to LG “LG, please keep translating for me and let them know I plan on accompanying them and help where I can. There may be a way to translate our different languages so we can communicate but it is in the security office. I would like to help them and myself and if Anita wants, get off this ship and back to the surface of there planet.”

Anita agrees to leave the ship but she’s not wandering about, she’d prefer to stay safe with the security bots.

The war-dwarf’s mouth hangs open while he listens to the translation of LG’s response. “Elder Things? Are the Elder Things… human? What was their purpose on the sky ship? Are they from this ‘Urth’ place you started from?”

“The Elder Things or Pentapods, are not human. In fact they are very alien and I have no idea what they are doing here. I would not recommend interacting with them… at all.”

“Kradorn,” Talo begins, pointing back at LG, “I don’t think we can be safe back home with potential bad guys floating around above us up here. Even if these Elder Things are benevolent – the cargo sounds like it is packed with nasty creatures. I will follow your judgement if you decide to go home, but I just thought you would benefit from this information.”

Looking at Talo but talking toward the communication counsel , “LG, please give a description of sarcophagi of the Elder Things to the group so they can understand what they are, and err to refresh my memory.”

“The sarcophagi of the Elder Things perform the same function as a stasis pod, except that they serve as a barrier to external elements while the Elder Thing hibernates inside, a stasis pod on the other hand, forms an impenetrable barrier, inside of which time stops. Elder Things have been known to hibernate for millions of years, in places such as their buried city in Antarctica.”

“LG, please translate – oh bother LG can you translate what I say to the group whenever I talk till I can get a translator working so I do not have to keep asking you to translate for me if hat is OK?”

Looking to the group who is still near him by LG, “OK deck 6 is a bit down and if this ship is crawling with baddies then it would be wise to clear out one deck at a time and look for other bots like the security bots as they should help if enough of them are activated in the clearing of the ship, though I would not do aggressive actions near them. LG could be of more help if we could communicate throughout this deck and it sounds like this deck is clear plus, well, a weapon, say a blaster pistol, would be great to have to help in a fight, as I go along with you all. Does anyone have a spare weapon I could use?”

“I can show you some magic spells once we get off this thing and back home, my new friend. Right now we need to get one of those boxes up here and swap it for the bad one. Deck 6 LG said and it’s easy to get in an out. Well at least it thinks so. Let’s see if we can get the lad in some armor and a weapon for now and at least make him a bit more survivable. There should be something to put on him and a pistol too he can practice with before we head down to clear things as we go”, Gildor adds. “Grab that translator thing too LG talked about out of security I think it said.”

Jenson brightens up at the comment about magic – “Oh, Magic, wow I only read about those special people like Harry Houdini, David Copperfield, Christoph the ghost, Marcus the marvellous and Karen Kroferburgen???” Grinning “I would love to learn how to do magic”
Grinning ear to ear “That would be awesome, totally grand, Could we start before we leave here??” Then Looks about ” Best we get to the security office for that translator then down to deck 6 the quickest way and yup. Any type of protection armor, a blaster suite, or a phase generated energy vest or a …” seeing there quizzical looks ” UM Err What ever armor you found or have plus a weapon or two would be great”

“Well, I don’t like the idea much but. Let’s go to level 6, get the translator and then return to where left off in clearing the ship.” Kradorn adds, “He is the best way to know about this ship and where to proceed.” Nodding towards Jenson.
Kalam nodded his acknowledgement and stood by waiting for everyone else to get going. Taking his usual position in their marching order, ears and eyes scanning their route continuously for dangers.

“Nah Kradorn, the security office is on this floor, so let’s go get it and get this fella kitted out.” Turning to Jenson,”so lass have you used one of your weapons before? You don’t strike me as a warrior type, not meanin any insult or owt.”

Blushing then stammering and a long pause “Err, I hate to say it but I have never been on this ship, nor can I remember much about them or well, much of anything. My, My Memory is all hazzy still from being CO2 starved.” Perking up “LG can we get a schematics of level 6 displayed?” “Or, Or is that function not allowed or available?”

“I’m sorry I don’t have a copy of the lower decks plans.” apologises LG.

Jenson goes next door into the security office and digging about in a desk, finds the two parts of a ‘Universal Translator’, consisting of a slim, 10cm silver bar on a chain and a small silver ear-piece.
When Jenson fits the ear-piece and puts on the necklace, the earpiece is able to translate the party’s speech and when Jenson talks, the necklace immediately repeats it in common, in his voice and with any inflections.
Jenson puts on Kradorn’s mithril armour (which seems very heavy) and leaving Anita in the command centre, they all proceed cautiously down the main southern corridor to the southern drop chute, then head east, passing a badly damaged repair golem in the corridor (2). They move on to the armoury in the south-east sector (3C), where Jenson gets a needler pistol and some ammo, a blaster pistol and some spare mini-power cells.
They all head back up to the eastern drop-chute and are on their way there, when there is an odd chime and the overhead lights seem to brighten a little. They arrive at the chute and secure any loose gear before dropping into the bowels of the ship.

As they descend the drop-chute, the sounds, smells and heat of the forest rise to meet them. Kradorn and Cynan land first. The floor of the chute seems to be a series of interlinked, curved shapes. The western exit of the drop-chute is blocked by dense foliage, through which the twilight lit jungle beyond can be seen. Kradorn thinks he can smell wet soot too.
Immediately upon setting foot on this level, it is apparent to the party that it is teeming with life. A number of calls, whistles, screams, and similar sounds can be heard beyond the wall of greenery.
As Gildor and Gordon arrive and steady themselves, Cynan looks out the eastern drop-chute exit. “Wide corridors north and south, both descending with steps or a ramp. Brown door behind us.” Says the paladin quickly.
As Talo and Kalam arrive, Kradorn pulls Gildor aside and points down at the floor. Everyone turns to see an arm-thick vine squirming through the foliage at ground level and into the chute. Moments later, another appears at head height, twisting and swaying, reaching out blindly for its prey.
Above the party, Jenson is still descending with Munin and Daldin above him.

One of the vines suddenly lashes out at Gildor who nimbly dodges out of the way, while the other wraps itself around Gordon. The gnome whips out his shortsword and almost but not quite, manages to sever the vine, which continues to constrict around him.
Kalam steps round Gordon and tries to cut the vine but misses.
Two more vines slither out of the foliage, one constricting around Gordon, the other reaching out for Gildor or Kradorn.
Gordon feels the first vine tighten and something gives with a snap beneath his armour. His shortsword severs what’s left of the first vine but now the second begins to constrict. Kalam manages to hit and almost sever the vine around Gordon but not in time for it to have done more crushing damage to the gnome.
Two more vines appear but by then Gildor has moved out the eastern drop-chute exit along with Talo, while Kradorn and Cynan usher Jenson out too.
Munin begins shooting before he’s landed, severing the vine around Gordon, while Daldin pulls Kalam and the gnome back towards the eastern exit. The blaster rifle fires a stream of the brilliant little orbs of light and they reduce the remaining vines to charred stumps.
As the dwarves back out of the drop-chute firing at the next two vines to emerge from the wall of greenery blocking the western exit, Captain Munin shouts over his shoulder.
“Time to leave! Don’t care which way, just go!”
Somewhere beyond the western drop-chute exit, there comes a huge thud and the deck vibrates beneath the party’s feet. The foliage bulges and four more vines erupt into the drop-chute.
“The sounds come from the western drop-chute exit. We must not go there!”, shouted Kalam while being pulled back.

Gildor states, “Well, let’s get moving then. Everyone not fighting prepare yourself to fight.”
Gildor gets his carbine ready, buckler on his forearm under the carbine. Gildor shoots at the vines body not the vines itself, if it’s in sight. If not he shoots the vines in a defensive withdrawal.
“Attack the body of the vines of you can. Kill the body, kill the vines?”, asking and telling at the same time.

Jenson allows Kradorn and Cynan to lead him out of the drop-chute.

Once out he shakes off the initial shock of his first action, “Holy cow, what was that??”
“Kradorn and Cynan, thanks for getting me out of there. I’ll keep an eye through this exit while you guys help eradicate whatever that is in there and help everyone else out of there.” Jenson moves a few feet past the Eastern drop-chute’s exit, pulling his blaster pistol out, keeping an eye out for movement/trouble.

“North or South Kradorn”, asks Gildor?

The four new vines reach out for Daldin and Munin and behind the vines, the charred tip of the plant’s trunk, bursts through the wall of foliage with more vines attached to it.
The dwarves open fire with their blaster rifles again, destroying the next wave of vines and destroying a good 3m length of the central trunk. One of Munin’s shots goes wide however and damages the mechanism for the descending hand-grips, bringing them to a grinding halt.
The thing continues to slither its way into the drop-chute and the dwarves keep up their barrage. Munin takes out the vines, while Daldin advances and blasts the central trunk, its base now visible through the hole in the foliage. The thing tries to withdraw but the dwarves follow it, Daldin blasting away at the remaining vines, while Munin changes some setting on the rifle and takes aim again. His final shot is twice the brightness of the ones Daldin is pumping into it and the when it hits, the resulting explosion rips the base of the trunk apart and staggers the two dwarves.
The severed trunk collapses, writhing on the ground for only a few moments.
The dwarves pat each other on the back and mumble something to each other while surveying the blackened stump of the plant. Munin looks at the party gathered at the eastern end of the drop-chute with a certain contempt, before saying. “Okay, me and sergeant Daldin are leaving, we’re getting that box from the woman’s coffin and we’re getting Thraim’s body and we’re going back through the tunnel. You… you can do whatever the hell you like.” With that he turns and grabbing one of the ascending hand-rails, he begins to rise back up the drop-chute. Daldin shakes his head and nods at Talo, saying in dwarven “Good luck priest.” before following Munin.