Trainbrain16

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"Emergency! Hull integrity compromised. Total hull failure imminent."

The ominous voice of the Aurora's AI called out this cataclysmic announcement over the PA system amid blaring klaxon alarms and the labored groans, creaks, and tears of the huge capital ship's hull starting to fall apart.

"All hands, abandon ship! Abandon ship!"

The hatch of Luke Pearson's escape pod began to shut, the seat restraint flipping down and locking to keep him anchored safely in place. There were supposed to be two people in each pod to allow better chances for the occupants of one which became separated from the rest to survive until they could rejoin the other survivors. Though the seat across from him was empty, Luke wasn't exactly alone in the pod. His AI companion Ada, whom he had built and programmed himself and then worked with continuously for over a year, had remotely interfaced with the life pod's on-board computer even before Luke had reached the bottom of the ladder, triggering the launch sequence manually to save a few precious seconds.
"No time to wait for Anders, Chief," she said, referring to Luke's presently absent designated life pod partner, a young xenobiologist named Marcus Anders. The voice coming from the earpiece implant that contained her sounding surprisingly emotional and scared, which contrasted her normally calm, direct, plain-speaking attitude. "Hopefully he found another pod, there's plenty of extras, but we gotta go now!"

Just as the thick transparisteel roof hatch closed and sealed, flames could be seen blasting against the view port from the other side, from inside the corridor that Luke had been running through seconds before, burning hot enough that the aluminum of the ladder leading down the tube to the roof of the pod was already melting and dripping onto the view port.

"Launch in five seconds, hang onto your guts!" Ada said, now sounding impatient and quite anxious on top of the fear that was still present. It seemed that the flames were going to compromise the hatch, but before that could happen Luke was yanked up against his restraints as the life pod, riding on rails and accelerated by electromagnets like a big, short-barreled railgun, was ejected out and away from the Aurora's lower hull. That's when some of the extent of the damage she'd taken became apparent, visible through that dorsal view port.
"We're clear, deploying heat shields..." Ada said before shifting visual scanning upwards and briefly going silent in shock. "Holy shit, what the hell happened to the Aurora!?" Most of the Alterra capital ship's huge 1,280 meter-long hull looked just fine, but just forward of the amidships drive core bulge was a gaping hole that looked big enough to comfortably park a tramp freighter in, and it looked like it might go all the way through the beam of the ship. It was hard to even comprehend what could possibly be capable of inflicting such monstrous damage to a ship like Aurora, but whatever it was would have to be mind-bogglingly powerful, far beyond anything yet encountered by humans anywhere in the known galaxy.

Luke still wouldn't have the faintest clue what was going on. The Aurora was brand new, on her maiden voyage in fact, and after 13 months of travel she had nearly reached the location of her mission: the construction site of a remote phasegate to greatly streamline and hasten FTL jumps made by other ships moving out farther exploring in the Ariadne Arm of the Milky Way. Everything had been going just fine, and today they were going to be performing a simple gravity assist around the planet currently beneath them to adjust their course as well as save time and fuel, as Luke had watched the ship perform almost a hundred times by now. Then this morning the young inventor who was serving as Aurora's Technical Chief was surprised by the feeling of a massive impact, then the smell of smoke, alarms, and Captain James "Hot Dog" Hollister giving the abandon ship order. Even as life pod five was descending towards the surface of the planet they had been performing a gravity assist around, secondary explosions rippled along the Aurora's hull, tearing off large chunks of her outer hull and flinging them out away from the ship, adding to the rapidly growing debris field. Other life pods were launching, but several of them could be seen being hit by flying debris and being crushed or broken open, which could only spell certain doom for their unfortunate occupants.

Something hard hit Luke's pod as it began slowing in the atmosphere, setting off alarms and knocking the fire extinguisher and a system access panel free from the walls. Both of them bounced around dangerously inside for a few seconds, as the Aurora's ventral hull began glowing orange and burning from the friction of entering the planet's atmosphere. Then there was another impact and the last thing Luke saw was the access plate bounce off the opposite wall and shoot directly at his face.

Once again, some time later he would reawaken to alarms and smoke, but this time there was also a lot of fire in the opposite corner of the pod and he'd feel like he was the not so proud owner of the worst headache in the history of existence. Thankfully the fire extinguisher was on the floor in front of him now and looked intact, but the fact that Ada wasn't shouting anything into his ear about waking up or the fire or anything at all was more than a bit worrying. It could have been the head injury, but the pod also felt somewhat like it was gently rocking and swaying back and forth beneath Luke's feet. Save for the initial difficulty that would cause for him standing up and remaining standing, that sensation would be all but forgotten in lieu of putting out the fire before he was cooked alive and the life pod became his coffin.

Soverign Soverign The Wanderer The Wanderer Ur Degaton Ur Degaton
 
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Soverign

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1578017753672.png

As Luke opened his eyes he found himself on his work station. His second a very brute of a man named Gabe was working on one of the P.R.A.W.N suits. The Pressure Reactive Armored Waterproof Nano Suite was the long and accurate name. Though he had made note Prawns would be the correct way removing the s was more accurate in conversation. Slowly getting up he looked around the large room and saw several other Prawns attached to restraint arms so he and his partner could work on them. Though it was a hope Gabe was not assigned to be Luke's pod partner. In case of a crash if they both happened to enter a pod and die both highest mechanical team members would be dead. To help give a chance they were paired with other high ranking members of other branches. It was a unique safety measure but a smart one as well.

Sighing the purple haired mechanic ran a hand through the dark purple strands and looked to see Gabe walking over "Go shower. We don't need the captain coming down and seeing your smelly ass" Chuckling Luke got up. Gabe easily had muscle and was impressive for human. And in truth Luke had liked talking to Gabe over anyone else on the ship. He understood his passion and.....he understood him well enough to get passed his nature "Ya ya. I'm going. Just don't touch my stuff ya?" Gabe only chuckled and returned to his work. His face was slightly rounded and had quite a few freckles and a short almost military cut. In truth it wouldn't surprise him at all if he really was in some sort of training. Making his way out of the bay Luke had a short walk past this levels escape lane or 'hot lane' as everyone called it. The escape pods were all along the wall but past that hallway was the living area for his level of mechanics and engineers. Luke entered his cabin and showered getting somewhat respectable and tossing on his suit. Though the survival suit wasn't all comfortable it made incredible uses. So he put it on under his clothes.

"Ada show me the schematics for the newest design" As he walked back Luke held a data pad and had his AI show him the designs he made. It wasn't uncommon for AI to be on ships like the Aurora. But Ada was his. The two variants of AI seem rather basic but there is a vast difference between them. Dumb and smart are completely different terms when it comes to AI. Dumb AI are most likely at their best assisting in work. They help and could maybe have a basic though to themselves but otherwise they have no personality an are much less powerful. A smart AI is a true gift. Ada among them they are very powerful and intelligent. Luke had spent his recent few years making Ada and when she was complete he made an implant to seamlessly integrate with his body. Thus giving him an...intimacy if you would call it. She could speak privately in his head or on a speaker either in his data pad or somewhere close by. To him she meant more than just a tool. And others have noted this but any improvements he made like the implant were very discreet. They knew she was good that's all he really cared about or wanted to share. As he looked over the prawn arm schismatic he had walked into the bay yet again. Having traveled here so many times he could do so without looking.

Standing by his station again he had his personal bag of equipment. Tools anyone of his position would need. But as he grabbed it the ship shook violently. Gabe and Luke shared one look and knew what to do. They went for the hot lane. Luke grabbed the bag, his data pad, and bolted. Ada prepped the pod, and the thing he remembered was......



--


The blaring alarm pulled him from his unconsciousness. The alarm and crackling all around him. Opening his eyes Luke felt his head ache as he tried to hold his eyes open. Light from his right made him wince. The sudden flare proved to much for his eyes. Once he adjusted did the warmth finally hit him. Shaking awake he saw the fire starting to take its grip. He pressed the release button and it jammed. Slamming his fist on the chair console he got it to lift. Falling out of the seat onto his hands and knees he found a red cylinder on the wall beside him. Blinking he needed a second to recognize it. Once he knew what it was he grabbed the extinguisher and started to douse the flames. He most likely used more than needed. But at that time he was in a panic. Once the fire was out Luke sat back against the wall tossing the extinguisher to the floor "Ada.......check vitals for injuries external and internal" He knew better than to assume he was fine. After a crash or in the workplace adrenaline masks pain. He could be dying and not know if he wasn't careful.

Slowly getting to his feet again he looked over the pod where the fire was. It mainly burnt seat covers and was started by some electrical failure. An open panel revealed the source of one such failure. The wires were sparking and must've caught fire. Wincing he took a knee by a long storage container all pods were supplied with. He opened it and started to take inventory.
 
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Trainbrain16

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Ada's voice didn't immediately respond to Luke's verbal instructions, which was very uncharacteristic of her. In fact, for something as important as checking Luke's vitals and scanning for injuries, in a situation like this she would have done that completely on her own. After a few minutes the previously blank screen of Luke's PDA, which had dropped from its magnetic holding point on his belt and slid across the floor of the pod, lit up and came to life with a spinning Alterra insignia and a circular progress bar which gradually worked its way around from zero to one hundred percent.

"If you are hearing this, then you have survived an emergency evacuation of a capital-class ship equipped with Alterra technology. Great job not dying, the hard part is over." The voice that spoke to him was Ada's and it certainly had her sass, bluntness, and charming but calming British accent, but it seemed... off. Something wasn't right, her speech was mechanical and flat, just like it had been when she had first booted up. "Your PDA and installed AI have been rebooted in emergency mode. This operating system has one directive: to keep you alive on a hostile alien world. Performing automatic bio-scan, please hold still Luke." There was a few seconds of silence as Ada performed the task she'd just explained, then before Luke would have a chance to speak up and ask what was wrong with her, she spoke up again. "You have suffered.. minor.. head trauma.. This is considered an optimal outcome given the circumstances. Relevant features installed on this unit include the following: Full monitoring of vital signs for timely survival advice, blueprints for fabricating a range of essential survival equipment, tailored to your environment, and on-board camera, microphone and OCR technology for short-range situational analysis. Performing self-diagnostic..."

"Alert, damage to this unit's hard drive has corrupted approximately 83% of stored data, including survival blueprints, replicator recipes, and a substantial volume of system memory. Blueprints and recipes may be re-acquired by scanning relevant technology or resources with a compatible handheld scanner or by downloading them from a functional computer terminal or PDA hard drive."


At this point the PDA brought up the following list on the screen, after switching to the data bank tab of its interface and opening a category titled "Survival Package."

"In the present situation, the following list of priorities is recommended:
Administer first aid if required
Take inventory of available materials and supplies, and decide on rations
Survey the environment for threats and resources
Construct necessary survival equipment using the life pod's fabricator (will require raw materials, which will be listed for you when interfacing with the fabricator, and could be found in the surrounding environment)
Check life pod for damage, and repair as necessary and possible
Broadcast local distress signal using life pod's short-range radio
Locate other survivors using line of sight or the radio
Find or construct a more permanent habitat
Maintain physical and psychological health until rescue

Recommended vital tools: handheld scanner (1kg titanium, 200g copper), survival knife (500g titanium, 100g silicon rubber), flashlight (1kg titanium, 200g quartz crystals), Seaglide personal undersea propulsion instrument (components unknown, blueprint corrupted)."

In the pod's small storage compartment, Luke would find two emergency flares, two standard Alterra rechargeable batteries, four gallons of purified water, and two compact nutrient blocks, which would be good news as being alone meant that he effectively had double the supplies to start with. The nutrient blocks in particular would be a great help, as each contained a total of about 6,000 calories, enough to safely sustain a healthy adult human for at least two days. The main downside was the fact that they had the texture of drywall and tasted like a combination of that and stale dog kibble. They were easy to digest, were incredibly nutrient-dense, and were practically incapable of spoiling unless they were immersed in water and then left alone. The replicator food on the Aurora tasted very bland, but least it would have had some flavor to it at all. These things would keep him from starving, but he certainly wouldn't enjoy it.

The sky above the pod, visible through the view port, was a comforting light blue with scattered puffy white clouds, very similar to Earth. The view port in the hatch on the floor, however, showed what seemed to be an underwater environment, which would explain why the pod felt like it was floating. The water was shockingly clear, revealing a sandy bottom about fifteen meters below the pod. There was a bit of colorful coral on a few small rocky outcrops, as well as an interesting variety of colorful and strange-looking fish, but they were a bit too distant and moving around too fast to get a proper look at any of them yet. At least the life pod's computer display showed that the atmosphere was clean and breathable, the temperature was quite comfortable, and the gravity was quite close to 1G, so the planet wouldn't be immediately hostile to Luke's survival.
 
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Soverign

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Luke stopped when he heard Ada. Her voice had normal styles but he recognized the more dumb AI speaking style. Narrowing his eyes he focused on what she said. And he was astounded. Eighty Three percent was a major delay to any escape he could make. However, her assessment on his injuries felt right. At least he didn't have anything worse but he had one helluva headache "Keeping myself sane won't be an issue" He said as she listed the requirements of survival to him. Gathering a few of the supplies he looked them over. Noticing the protien block and grimaced. He didn't have to eat for a few days but when he adjusted to these putrid foods he almost threw up every time. Until he started forcing it down. After that....it only got bothersome. Pushing the bad memory away he started up the ladder. Though the melted sections had cooled mostly he took caution when touching them not wanting to risk a burn. Once he reached the top hatch he twisted the lock and pushed it open. He got a rush of cold sea air. Taking a deep breath he got high enough to sit on the rim of the hatch and look around.

He noticed several bird like creatures and on first glance they looked like a ray species on earth. Besides the out of place ability to fly of course. Looking around the Aurora was the largest and only object in sight. Besides floating debris that slowly sank once they took on to much water. He rubbed the back of his head where the implant is and sighed as he relaxed. It had been a calming mechanism. Sometimes for him, other times for Ada. Taking another breath Luke addressed his AI "Ada can i get a scan on the Aurora and its structural integrity?" It seemed a stupid question to ask in part but there was a method. The best chance of getting Ada back to a hundred percent functionality and getting what he needs to escape would be on the Aurora. Or on the very least schematics on helpful vehicles and tools. Just getting there may be an issue. He had no idea what swims in these waters. On an alien planet no less. Earth's oceans were dangerous, but here it may be suicide to just swim there immediately.

As he looked up to the skies Luke studied the birds again. A thought had struck him. If the birds were here they couldn't have flown all the time. So they must have a home. Maybe there was an island somewhere but as far as he could see there was only water till the far horizon. So he got to work on identifying which supplies he needed first. Scanner he would need to identify the world around him and see what resources were in the area. And since no weapons were allowed a knife would be key for maintaining a food supply. Maybe he could determine the food chain while he was here. Though his pod partner if he was here would be yapping about research he himself wanted to study as well. I guess hearing him talk and taking a lesson or two himself got him also interested in the topic. If there were predators he would need a viable way to deter or at the very least flee from them. Humans were not adapted for the sea but maybe he could make it a suitable temporary home. Lets just hope where he landed was a suitable place to begin his survival. And not right into the jaws of death already.
 
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Trainbrain16

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As Luke anxiously pushed open the roof hatch, a creature with a mostly white, feathered underbelly outlined with black and with blue and green seemingly glowing markings on its belly quickly fluttered away, having been frightened by the sudden movement. It didn't make a sound, but the weirdest thing about it was that its body could fly like a bird, but aside from the avian head it looked very similar to a sort of ray of earth, and it moved through the sky in a very similar way to how those rays moved through the water. The creature seemed curious though, and would remain relatively close to the pod just long enough for Luke's PDA to deem it a "Skyray." Apart from a few protrusions from the water very near to the pod that appeared to be very large, tube-shaped coral growths, there was nothing but water, clouds, and a smooth as glass horizon in every direction... except to the west.

Ada spoke up with a simple "Request acknowledged. Commencing scan," as Luke's gaze was drawn towards the only prominent feature above the surface of the water that could be seen from the top of the life pod. The Aurora towered above Luke and the pod at what looked like about half a kilometer distant to the west, the hull of the once great ship that had brought him and his colleagues here now sitting crippled and stranded as a massive titanium mountain above a vast, featureless ocean. She was facing just about straight north-west, sitting upright with a slight lean to port (left) and a slight nose-down pitch. The water must have been relatively shallow where she had landed, as not much of her ventral hull was covered even by the water, but she was clearly in very bad shape. Aside from the massive, gaping hole in her hull just forward of the drive core, there were numerous places visible where the protective outer hull plating had been blown, torn, or burned away, exposing more vulnerable and critical parts of the vessel underneath. There were large burning scars all over her bulk, including around the four main drive engines at the stern, all of which but the lowest (the lower port engine) had their thrust ports fully above the surface due to the shallow water and the forward pitch of the wreck. The engines looked fairly crippled, and there were actively burning, even raging, fires spouting from several of the major hull breeches.

"The Aurora suffered catastrophic orbital hull failure..." Ada said simply after a moment of silence when she had been scanning the ship as well as was possible with her current capabilities, then processing the data she'd gathered. "Cause unknown. Zero human life signs detected within. Commencing bioscan of surrounding area..." A few minutes later, her voice returned and she added "Scans indicate multiple human life signs in the area, current sensor equipment insufficient to give precise data. Construction of a permanent, dedicated sensor suite is recommended if more accurate data is desired. Best present estimates show between three and fifteen human life signatures within a one kilometer lateral radius of this point, at depths ranging from the surface to approximately five hundred meters below sea level. Advise searching your local environment for raw materials to repair life pod radio and emergency transponder, and to acquire a method of transport sufficient to reach your fellow survivors. Available data suggests the day/night cycle on this planet is approximately twenty standard hours, with frequent partial and total eclipses from both 4546B-a’s binary planet, 4546B-b, and their shared, smaller moon, 4546B-1. Using a twenty hour clock, the current time is approximately eleven hundred hours, one hour after midday and four hours before sunset at this latitude and time of year. Make the most of the available daylight and exercise extra caution after dark, as many predatory species throughout the galaxy prefer hunting at night or otherwise in the dark. Your environmental suit, in its basic factory configuration, is able to provide approximately two minutes of breathable air on top of the user's lung capacity, and this reserve can be recharged in approximately ten seconds of remaining in air with at least a 20% oxygen concentration, and no more than trace amounts of toxic gasses. Remember, the human body can only survive for three minutes without breathable air before brain cells begin to die from oxygen deprivation, followed shortly by death by asphyxiation. Always keep an eye on your air reserve timer, and remember to breath."
 
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Soverign

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Fantasy, Si-Fi, Magical, action, romance (Am kinda a sucker for it),
Listening to the data Ada gave him Luke stood atop his pod then looked down below at the water. Fifteen at most survived the crash. It astounded him how so few survived. Their pods must've been destroyed before they could get off. He could see signs of life. Plants mostly but a few small fish he guessed. Luke sighed and nodded "Ada identify possible materials to improve sensors and personality matrix" Climbing down he slowly lowered himself into the water and soon found his body enveloped by warm water. But his mind couldn't help but race, an alien world that not only is possibly dangerous but pulls humans out of their environment. Into an aquatic deathtrap if he wasn't careful. Looking around he saw a plethora of life. Fish so strange he couldn't imagine it in his wildest dreams. He looked around then swam to the sea floor. He didn't have a lot of air but he was close to the pod and the surface so he needed to watch his location.

Swimming by the ground one of the small fish swam closer most likely curious is nearly swam into his hand and he grabbed it. It had a strange adaptation where the eye of the fish creature was nearly all of its body. He made sure not to touch it's eye before moving on. He started to gather materials he found. Going over to a stray tree like plant he touched it and pulled a few parts off but as he worked he heard a loud call to his left. Looking over he had barely got out of the way as a streamline predator held metal scrap and was biting it repeatedly. Luke felt his heart rate spike and adrenaline do the same "Ada, mark behavior to logs" He said voice shaking. Moving up he refreshed his oxygen then returned underwater. He didn't want to. He really didn't but in order to survive he needed to push past it. Swimming down once again he avoided the predators so focused on the scrap. Instead he went to look for useful materials. Swimming along the floor he stopped finding a fragment of the Aurora. He started to check it out. It was laying against a coral structure and an entrance to a cave. He pulled the panel back and started to strip it for parts. Some good titanium plates, a few copper linings.


But after that it was nearly burnt beyond recover. Maybe the on board fabricator could recover what he could not. Picking up one of the plates he went to look at it but heard a......pealing nose? He looked around and his nerves spiked. He didn't know anything about this world but as he looked up over the plate a red colored fish darted towards him. Its cries were echoing through the cave behind it and Luke's head but he had no time to escape it. Lifting up the plate he felt a strong detonation smack into only protection he had in is hands. Floating back his head spun. Taking a deep breath he slowly got his bearings and took what he found up to the pod not wanting another surprise yet. He got into his pod and panted resting against the wall where his seat was built into "Ada, that sucked" He said almost pleadingly to a friend. Not expecting a world to be so brutal from the start.
 
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Happy New Year!
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“Request acknowledged,” Ada replied as Luke lowered himself into the water and into the incredibly alien, though also startlingly beautiful, underwater environment that he would be having to survive in for the foreseeable future. When the bubbles dispersed and his vision was clear, the world he was presented with was nothing short of awe-inspiring. Everything seemed very bright and very colorful, from the many different kinds of plants to the various fish swimming around. There were so many alien but beautiful species around. The most numerous seemed to be a simple little green fish with two MASSIVE yellow eyes and a tiny beak being the main features of it's head, and they seemed quite tame and curious as they swam up and around to investigate Luke. When he grabbed hold of one of them, Ada performed a brief analysis and dubbed the species a “Peeper”, which seemed quite fitting and even somewhat endearing. There were fish that looked like boomerangs, like purple sets of lungs, like a... yellow liver with eye stalks, fins and a tail... There were also a few animals that looked a bit like rays from earth, except that their wings and body were shaped like a plus rather than a circle or triangle. They were mostly black with some blue and orange details, and seemed quite friendly. There was, however, one creature a little ways off that seemed to be colored the same way and generally shaped similar, but something looked... Off about it. It seemed like it was somehow a bit different than the others, though it always seemed a bit too far off to tell anything for sure about it.

“Sensors equipped on this unit do not have capacity for functional enhancement or expansion. Constructing a handheld scanner will allow for analysis of objects with a high level of detail, and synthesizing blueprints, though it is limited to scanning in a narrow cone about two meters long. Personality matrix… no data available, advice not possible.” The water seemed to grow gradually darker and greener the closer Luke came to those strange, tree-like vines, which Ada dubbed “Creepvines” as he took a sample of both the vines themselves and the large, bright yellow seed pods that grew on the thickest, most mature ones. She continued on that subject with "Life on this planet grows in unusually distinct and diverse ecological biomes. This biome appears to be some form of giant kelp forest, and the vines may be a source of useful natural fibers. Further study is recommended, but caution is advised, as predators and other threats may use the kelp as a hiding or nesting area. Be wary of ambushes, and carry a flashlight even during the day, as the kelp absorbs a large quantity of the natural sunlight."

The bottom here was much more varied in depth than in the shallows, though still didn't seem to exceed 20 meters around here. There were a lot of small, short rocky cliffs and knolls with thick green seagrass and moss growing on everything, and dotted all over the bottom were the distinct colors of lots of small pieces of wreckage from the Aurora. There was a stunning variety to the pieces of scrap visible, and there would definitely be no shortage of materials around here for a long time, but between Luke and those tempting pieces of salvage a number of long, tan and purple shapes cruised lazily around. They all seemed particularly infatuated with the shiny, metallic pieces of debris and salvage from the Aurora, but they would growl and snarl at him when he wound up too close to them for the creatures' liking, showing off a long, narrow jaw lined with long, sharp teeth of wildly varying lengths, positions, and angles. Such janky, fugly-looking sets of teeth likely hadn’t been seen by human explorers anywhere in known space, and even though the teeth appeared rather clean just the sight of such disorder and asymmetry could likely trigger brain aneurysms in a dentist or oral surgeon. That all aside, there seemed to be one of these predators lurking in the denser areas of the kelp forest, remaining just far enough away that it was clear it wasn’t quite the same as the rest of these creatures. A different subspecies perhaps, but that one in particular seemed to be almost stalking him from the safety and concealment of the deeper kelp. Ada obediently logged the past minute of video and audio recordings to the databank, then began compiling a written analysis of the footage as Luke briefly surfaced then returned to his search.

As he was salvaging pieces from the small hull panel he’d found, he’d get an incredibly rude greeting from some kind of one-eyed, red and yellow, jihadist/kamikaze fish that emerged from a sort of plant on a cave wall and rushed him down while emitting a variety of high-pitched wails and screams. When it got within about a meter of the flustered human, who held up the scrap panel he was salvaging in front of him as a desperate defense mechanism, that damn fish straight exploded. The shockwave thankfully hit mostly the titanium panel rather than Luke's face, chest and stomach, but it was still strong enough in such close proximity to throw him backwards against a small boulder behind him and leave him dazed, bruised and quite flustered. Once he recovered and returned to the pod with the meager spoils of this first trip, muttering a painful plea to a friend that simply wasn’t there, Ada gave a reply that was as blunt and as devoid of her emotions and character as had apparently become the norm now.

“Acknowledged, logging video to databank for analysis. Please take additional care in the future to avoid any potential head injuries, as aggravating your existing head trauma could easily prove debilitating or lethal. Analysis of materials shows that creepvine samples can be used to fabricate fibre mesh, while the seed pods can provide lubricants and silicone rubber. With what you have initially gathered, it will be possible to fabricate a handheld scanner, a survival knife, and a standard compressed air tank. With more silicone rubber, dive fins could be produced for greater ease with swimming, and scavenging glass or crystalline quartz would allow construction of a flashlight for purposes which will not be explained so as not to insult your intelligence. Advise constructing the suggested items, then venturing out into the environment again to retrieve the desired additional materials, and to find salvageable Alterra technology to scan for synthesizing blueprints. Scanning any flora, fauna, or interesting natural/artificial features of the environment is also highly recommended, as the more data this unit is provided with, the more can be learned about your environment. The more you can learn about your situation, the better you can understand your surroundings. The better you understand your surroundings, the better your chances of survival. This is how humans persisted for thousands of years before industrialization made simple survival no longer a widespread daily struggle, and you are much better equipped than any of them could have dreamed of.”
 
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Luke had gone about making all the tools Ada had advised he make. Each one was incredibly useful in its own right and without them learning all he could of this world he was stranded on would be much more difficult. The encounter with the strange wildlife was dazing but he had to push forward. If at the very least to get Ada fixed as soon as possible. He wanted someone to talk to not the level of AI she was reduced to with such damage. After having gathered some other supplies he reluctantly returned to where that suicide fish had come from. The plant itself having a large amount of sulfur in its base. He took as much as he could and was able to use that as well. Making a repair tool and started to repair the damages to the pod. Thankfully the only major damage was to the control panel. He headed to work on that as priority. It took longer than he would like to admit but once the panel was secure did he take a breath and look down into the sea through the lower exit. He didn't want to. It was unknown to him but if anything he wanted to learn. Swimming out he started to scan the native wildlife that was friendly enough to approach him. Several small fish and the one with a majority of its body mass being its eye designated a 'Peeper'. It made him chuckle and as he explored the new higher capacity tank made his comfort go up a bit as his need to surface lessened. Others like the Rabbit Ray and aptly named Boomerang were some of the other friendly species. But soon his gaze went outward.

Though he kept himself from entering the Kelp Forests and started to use his new dive fins to full effect. Swimming along a few tubes of coral and found himself looking over......a grass field? To him the area seemed drastically out of place under water. The red grassy fields seemed almost normal if it weren't the obvious red color. Along with this new area came a deep booming moan of sorts. It reminded Luke of what lived on earth. Whales they were called. Large mammals that made such noises to speak. He spotted the source rather easily. At first he mistook it for a small island but when the three propelling tentacles moved the assumption was quickly revised. Keeping around a dozen meters from the sea floor he got a good view of the area around him and slowly swam forward. Looking around he stopped swearing he saw something dart into the kelp forest closest to him. Much faster than the predatory fish that seemed fascinated with metal. Keeping a knife handy Luke went for air refilling his tanks then dove under again having his eyes keep watch for any sudden movements.
 
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Ada continuously made brief comments to Luke regarding the creatures and objects he was scanning as he resumed exploring the environment around his pod, briefly highlighting any ways that certain items or features could be utilized or exploited to their benefit in a survival situation like this. In particular, the "Peepers" seemed to have a number of seemingly useless biological structures, such as an abnormally large nasal cavity which seemed to be tuned to detect a specific enzyme or chemical (nothing that resembled what this substance might be had yet been detected anywhere in the environment in measurable levels) and three pairs of tubes on its torso directly connected to the fish's stomach and gills, which could seemingly forcefully evacuate its stomach contents at will into the water around it. These sort of features didn't seem to make any sense biologically, at least not at the moment, but Ada stated that they had a particularly high calorie density compared to most fish of their size and were rich in protein, which would make them a rather effective and efficient food source as long as Luke could catch them. The strange "Bladder Fish" too, would be very useful for his survival, as their unique outer membranes could be utilized as natural water filters. They wouldn't be efficient in the slightest, however, and each fish wouldn't allow the fabricator to provide very much clean water before the membrane would break down and become unusable. Using them for this process would also, unsurprisingly, kill the fish being used, and their membranes weren't good enough to filter out much beyond about 90% of the water's salt content (meaning the water wouldn't really be clean, but it would be technically fresh water rather than salt or brackish water, and therefore safe to drink), but there were scores of them around and they seemed to be one of the slower small fish species around the "Safe Shallows", so there wouldn't be much difficulty for Luke to keep himself hydrated, aside from the slight manual labor of actually catching the squirmy things.

Upon receiving and processing the data from Luke's scanner on the huge, whale-like creatures that more resembled swimming underwater islands with tentacles, Ada dubbed the species "Reefbacks" and classified them as Leviathan-class lifeforms. The individual that Luke scanned was huge, with its body about fifty meters in length and the tentacles extending about twenty five meters behind that. There were another four Reefbacks moving with this one; one of them was of a similar size to the one Luke had scanned, and between those two presumed adults were one around forty meters long and another two only measuring about fifteen meters long. The incredibly thick exoskeleton that covered part of their ventral and all of their dorsal sides made these creatures unique compared to most of the fauna encountered so far, which were all vertebrates. The upper shells on the two adults were also covered in thick coral growths and played host to their own entire micro-ecosystems, with a variety of plant species growing on the surface and several schools of different fish swimming along around the behemoths. Ada stated that they seemed to be quite sociable and intelligent, even displaying some signs of low-level sentience, and were solely planktivorous, meaning that they would be safe to observe and interact with, so long as attempts were made not to harm, threaten, or startle them. They were quite beautiful to watch, and their songs melodious and soothing, but unfortunately Luke would have to move on for now and focus on survival.

As Luke wandered back towards the shallows from the biome that Ada had dubbed the "Grassy Plateaus", that strange shape darting around at a distance would become distinguishable as a Rabbit Ray, or at least something that looked and moved mostly like one. There was something strange about it though, it just seemed... off, somehow, but not enough detail was clear to tell exactly how without getting closer. The ray seemed to almost lead him to a small, gentle basin in the sea floor about twenty meters around and five or six meters deep, the whole area sitting about 6 meters below the surface. Near one edge there was a large cargo container from the Aurora, measuring about three meters on a side, sitting deformed and slightly broken open on it's side. Aside from the vibrantly colorful coral and fauna swimming around, the basin was filled with small, individual clusters of translucent, slightly blue crystalline quartz, as well as a substantial collection of mostly unrecognizable debris from the ship scattered around the crate's impact site, which hopefully would provide a reasonable volume of raw materials for the pod's fabricator to work with.

As Luke approached the area, that somewhat different example of the small, beautiful ray didn't continue to kite him at a distance. Instead it remained slowly, almost lazily swimming around above that small basin, allowing him to see that it actually seemed to be semi-humanoid. It's upper body and head were in a style not dissimilar to that of mermaids, with arms making up what appeared to be the leading edges of its wings and little hands positioned out by its wingtips. It's humanoid torso seemed to have the appearance of a human teenage girl, with black skin and blue highlights as well as a little bit of blueish black hair, and large orange flap-like ears on the back of her head. At first she didn't seem to notice Luke, but when she did notice him she smiled and trilled a bit, looking directly at him. She then quickly swam off rather playfully to hide inside the larger, damaged cargo container, almost teasing Luke with how she would only let him see glimpses of her before she would slip back inside the crate. The gap in the busted door was wide enough for this ray to squeeze through easily enough, though for the stranded young human to be able to access whatever was inside any more than reaching in with one arm he'd likely need to find and/or make a laser cutter and make his own entrance. Ada oddly seemed more focused on the ray, however, and said "Luke, please try to acquire a scan of that anomalous Rabbit Ray specimen. Significant divergences from the species' normal physiology are detected, but more detailed and precise data is required for a proper analysis."
 
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Luke had approached the wreckage and thought he could not enter it he tilted his head at the creature. This creature was part human so it made questions start to rise in his head. It made no sense. An alien world with human inhabitants or human influenced life? It was a mystery indeed. However he put his knife away attempting communication. He had no idea if it could speak or understand anything he said. Or it its intelligence diverged and improved from the normal Ray species. As he got closer he kept an eye on his oxygen and started towards the cargo container. As he moved closer he sifted through some of the materials on the ground knowing he needed the materials just as badly as intel on this strange species. He picked up a bar roughly a meter and a half long and carefully poked and searched his way through he wreck.

Finding a few stray containers he looked in finding a shattered Seaglide. Pointing the scanner at it Luke identified the device but the more he scanned he realized that due to complete corruption of blueprints there was another issue. Finishing his scan the Seaglide was so damaged that it wouldn't be able to give the complete blueprint. The propeller and handles were the only things in this Seaglide that was barely functional. Finding another very small storage box there was a laser cutter stored inside. It was in a bit better shape compared to the seaglide only a few paces away from it. But still, even after scanning it there were gaps due to damage that this cutter wouldn't be able to provide. Sighing Luke found no other small containers around. Nothing else except the main Container the Ray species retreated to.

Approaching the container he was much more cautious this time. No fins sticking out of the red grass, only debris and the less threatening creatures around him. he picked up a few pieces of debris examining them. He smiled seeing these scraps as viable sources of Titanium. If there was a scanner of some sort the possibility of finding reliable deposits would increase. Then building a more firendly home than this sea would be in order. He kept this obvious observation all the while remembering where the Ray went. As he searched and scanned he floated over to the place it was hiding. Soon stopping by the place it hid he gently knocked on the hull "Hello? Ada do you think it can understand speech or another form of communication?" He asked as he floated and waited there.
 
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"Unknown, but it is highly likely that a lifeform this advanced and humanoid is capable of a high form of communication," Ada replied as Luke approached the wrecked cargo crate with the strange little creature hiding inside. "Acquiring a full scan of the creature is paramount, if you can attempt to do so without frightening it away." One thing was clear so far regarding Ada's personality reset, she sure had become naggy and insistent, particularly about scanning. As annoying as it was, she was right, and it really was quite important for him to be scanning everything he came across. The more Ada knew and could analyze about his environment, the better off he would be in the long run, and for a creature such as this seemingly humanoid ray, a scan would indeed be especially important.

That mermaid-like ray, as a matter of fact was certainly far more curious and interested in Luke than even the Peepers were. She waited until he had gotten close, gone up to the surface to top off his air, then returned and started to investigate the surroundings of the crate before she made any moves. She quickly shot back out of the mangled lid of the container and came over close to Luke when he was about to knock on the side of the container, swimming a few tight spirals around his body as if to get a close look at his entire exterior, then slowed and came to a relative stop, floating vertically about two feet directly in front of Luke's face mask. A closer look would confirm that her upper body appeared quite human, even down to her facial features, figure, and genitalia, which all were a solid match for a normal, though slightly slim, 13-year-old human girl. She appeared to be slightly larger overall than typical Rabbit Rays, but she still only measured about a meter from end to end. She looked slowly up and down the human's body from the front once more, then took on a puzzled but curious smile, opened her mouth, and started to speak. The effects of the water left her voice slightly distorted, but it was still pretty clear English/Basic when she said "Wow, you're waaaaaay different than anything I've ever seen here before... I wonder what you are?..." She seemed like she was talking mostly to herself, as if she wasn't expecting for the thing in front of her to understand or be able to respond, much in the way that humans tend to act towards most animals they know, or believe, to not be intelligent enough to give a linguistic response to a question they ask, let alone one that can be readily understood.
 

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Luke's eyes went from curious to near disbelief as he heard the creature speak. He had entered such a state if surprise that he didn't notice he was holding his breath. Returning to a normal breathing pattern Luke gently held a hand out "You can speak and...i can understand you?" His eyes told of all the emotions he went through. Surprise, curiosity, caution, and more as he slowly showed the scanner. Holding it with both hands offering it to her he gave a small smile "May this scan you? I promise it isn't lethal or will hurt you in any way. It will just help me understand you" He said controlling his voice and his over eager tendencies when a new discovery or problem is found for him to solve. But the human characteristics were uncanny. Without a doubt there was human genetics involved. He would need to brush up on his past skill sets. Slowly showing the scanner again he held his own arm out letting the scanning rays move over his arm. He smiled and when they stopped he nodded "See. I am fine" She was small compared to him. But with the other half of the species she was mixed with also being small it was interesting. Questions on how she was brought into the world was now playing in the back of his mind.

"Do you have a name?" He asked kindly not wanting to appear dangerous. From her brief arrival she had speed so if he wasn't careful his first real chance to study the world with another smart life form could be dashed. And with her speed she need only grab a piece of metal and charge for it to cause injury. He made a mental note of what she said her actions and of her self speaking. When you talk to yourself in his experience it was to help work and fix things or understand something. But since he had Ada speaking to someone was possible. Maybe there are more that communicate in such a way. To learn such things and from species with unknown origins with human traits would be a treat indeed. His head was on a swivel looking to the kelp and distant shapes of those fish with their elongated jaws. With the scare they gave him he really wasn't to inclined to encounter them again if he could help it. With teeth he guessed were around the length of his forearm that could easily spoil a weekend or lead to dangerous infections. He kept his worry as far off his face as possible but always appeared friendly and trying to earn a little trust.
 
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Apparently Luke's shocked response scared and surprised the little mer-ray almost as much as her speaking had done to him, as her eyes immediately grew wide and her face flushed from black to a dark grey. Now it was definitely clear that she hadn't been expecting a response, much less a spoken one that she could understand, and she let out a very frightened little squeal and immediately bolted away in a spray of bubbles. That largely opaque cloud cleared in time for Luke to watch her dart back into the apparent relative safety of the damaged cargo container. She remained hidden there for a moment, possibly listening to him talking, before she slowly and cautiously peeked her head out through the gap between the main structure of the crate and the mangled lid. From there she looked up at Luke with a fair bit of anxiety in her expression, but still a lot of curiosity present as well.

As Luke would gradually approach her again, she'd stay hidden in the crate where she was, just barely peeking out, but would meekly say "S-sorry, you really spooked me by umm... talking all of a sudden up there... a-and it's been a while since the last time I met someone who could talk like me. I guess that'll make things a lot easier for us both though, right? What umm... what are you exactly, and where did you come from?... Were you on that big thing that came crashing down over there?..." She glanced over towards where the Aurora had come to rest in the east, then quickly returned her gaze to studying him, as well as the scanner and PDA a bit as well. "What are those things you have there? And what's a name?"
 
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Luke smiled and chuckled "Sorry for the startle. Yes i did come from there. It crashed and i was able to make it" Slowly moving closer he lifted the scanner and data pad letting them see them more clearly "These are some tools i use to help survive. This one tells me what something is" He said lifting the hand with the scanner and activated it as a passing arrow head fish with an eye on the top of it swam by them. The beam running over it and taking in all available data "This one helps me record what i encounter. Like if i scanned you i could understand more about you instantly" Showing her the screen the of the data pad which now held a picture of the fish that was just scanned and relevant data running below it.

With that demonstration out of the way he started on the next explanation "A name is something you give to something to remember it by. For example my name is Luke. Others of my kind call be Luke. It is how i am known. Your species or at least the different ones are known as Rabbit Rays. You could make a name of your own and maybe i could call you that?" He was intrigued bu the individual. She was highly intelligent and was easily on par with higher level human intelligence. He did not say it out loud but he inquired mentally for Ada to preform a brain scan along with the general bio scan. It would determine how much she can grow or if the mix of whatever she was hampered her abilities to learn and grow.


All the while Luke's mind was in a mode forcing him to analyze what was happening. It is rare but his emotions often are seen when he is discovering new and extraordinary things. But all the while his more critical mind went about determining not who this being was. But why she was here. Mixing the genes of two so different species is very difficult. So something about this didn't feel right. While he loved the discovery something about it felt off.
 
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The strange little ray looked on very curiously as Luke spoke about the things he had with him and about himself a bit. She seemed particularly intrigued, almost mesmerized even, by the lights and colors on the screens of the scanner and PDA, but it didn’t seem particularly plausible that she would be able to read and understand the text and writing displayed on them. After all, if she was totally unfamiliar with the concept of a name, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say that, while she could speak and understand spoken Basic, she was illiterate. Her large orange “ears” stood up when Luke started speaking about her and her kind, though it seemed like many of the specific or larger words confused her, like “Rabbit Ray”, “scanned”, “instantly”, “species”, and such. This didn’t seem to deter her, however, as she smiled and said “I don’t know what a lot of that means, but you’re really neat-looking and you can talk like me, which hardly anything else here can. You must be pretty special like me, and I think I like that.” She looked over Luke’s scanner again for a moment, then somewhat meekly said “Okay, if you’re sure that it’s safe, I’ll trust you about it. I’ll let you know ahead of time, through, that if you’re planning to trick me and eat me you’ll be disappointed. My body is so toxic and nasty to eat it’ll actually kill you even if you only took a bite. I’ve seen predators way bigger than you are die from trying to eat parts of the others that look a lot like me.”

“Request acknowledged,” Ada replied. “This being seems able to understand the concept of names, but indecisive on naming itself. I suggest proposing Rei as a personal name for this lifeform. This would fit the young, feminine attributes of it’s appearance and personality, while also being easy for the being itself to remember and unique on account of the spelling.”
 
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Luke nodded as Ada finished her assessment and all around agreed with it. If this creature could understand names the least amount of spelling and work to say those names was important. It was a similar thing when naming pets on any world humans settled on. Though this was a tactic for those animals to respond to and be referenced by this name could be hers. Luke gave a smile "How about Rei? Sounds good right?" He asked kindly not wanting to be brash or rude to someone or something he just met who can help survive this world. He let the name ring in the water for a bit then adjusted the scanner "It won't hurt at all see. It will just tingle" He said scanning his outstretched arm. Displaying the safety of his equipment.

He then started scanning up her tail to start. He went slow wanting the scan to be complete and have no errors. The scanning rays often touched the skin but gave detailed information on a lifeforms health and inner body mechanics. However as it did this there was a fuzzy feeling that occurred on previously scanned organisms also. The reaction to the scanning wave was the worst possible thing to happen. Having been honed to be so specific in its job that injury was impossible unless it was used as a blunt weapon. He successfully scanned up her body but stopped when at her shoulders "Please close your eyes" He asked motioning with his free hand what he meant even if his words weren't fully understood. He kept a look at his oxygen and knew he had time but his need to know still kept him at the ready. Once closed did he finish the scan and the scanner beeped with a successful update to his PDA. Holding it up it showed the now named Rei and had information on it.

He smiled then turned the PDA so Rei could see the picture of her "That is you. Your a unique Rabbit Ray indeed" He said calmly. Though he knew she wouldn't understand the paragraphs on the side detailing her unique qualities the ability to see herself may have been something she was unable to do until now.
 

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The little humanoid ray did what appeared to be cocking an eyebrow in curiosity at Luke's mention of "Rei" as a potential name for her, then tried speaking it aloud herself a few times, like she was testing it out. She soon smiled, however, and nodded excitedly, saying "Yeah, Rei sounds nice! I like it!" She swam a tight little twirl and a vertical loop in the water immediately in front of Luke, and her bioluminescent parts started glowing a bit brighter, perhaps indicating that they were at least partially reactive to her emotional state, much like the ears and tails of animals in the canine family. Rei watched Luke demonstrate the scanner tool once again, and after a brief pause she nodded her approval and apparent trust of his words. When he started the scan on her, however, something with having the lights being shone towards her, even if not yet directly towards her eyes, must have tripped some kind of switch in the little ray's brain. She became immediately and completely transfixed on the emitter of the scanner, her eyes going wide with wonder as she stared at the bright beams and continually shifting patterns dancing over her body. She seemed so thoroughly hypnotized she was more or less paralyzed, not moving other than to idly maintain her position in the water and to keep her gaze locked on the source of the lights she was being entranced by. Understandably, she didn't respond at all when Luke reached her face and asked her to close her eyes, but the scanner had thankfully been designed so that it would only start to pose a risk to the sight of most organisms with developed eyes if it was aimed directly into the eyes and used for more than about twenty seconds straight, far longer than necessary for even a slow, extra-thorough scan like what Luke was performing now. Sure enough, once he was done sweeping over the entirety of Rei's body and released the trigger of the scanner, the lights turned off and the little ray blinked forcefully a few times. Over the course of about half a minute she brought herself back into full consciousness as the trance she had been in was broken, and looked over her picture in a bit of wonder when Luke showed that to her. "Oh wow, that's what I look like?... You said I'm a 'Rabbit Ray'? What's a Rabbit, and... unique?... what do those mean?"

While the PDA had fairly quickly managed to load up the detailed picture of Rei for Luke and the ray herself to look over, once the scan was complete Ada had said something rather surprising. The little transparent tablet computer had been able to pretty much instantly process, compile, and organize the data from all the previous scans Luke had made into easy to read data archive entries, especially with Ada's help. After his scan of Rei was complete and the data had been transferred to the PDA from the device in his hand, however, Ada came up and said “Processing… Please standby…” Evidently there was enough complex, unfamiliar data collected by the scan that the PDA wasn’t able to get through it all in the expected amount of time. A few minutes later, Ada finally gave a bell tone to indicate she had finished, and evidently deemed this discovery important enough to warrant her giving a significant report of it aloud.

“Preliminary creature analysis complete. This specimen possesses strong superficial and genetic similarities to the common Rabbit Ray, though with several notable and drastic divergences. Present data collection methods are insufficient to produce an accurate prediction of the origin of these changes. Primary possibilities are radical, spontaneous mutation with 58% confidence and deliberate genetic manipulation with 11% confidence. This individual's upper body is strongly humanoid, similar in design to mermaids of Earth mythology, and it possesses a very versatile and efficient respiratory system which should allow it to breath with equal ease in both water and air. The specimen also appears to have had extensive and extreme changes to many aspects of its brain functions and chemistry. While much of the general behavioral ‘personality‘ of its 'parent' species remains, social behaviors and high-level brain functions show very high rates of development. Estimated intelligence: adolescent to adult human.
Congratulations! You have discovered the first intelligent alien organism in the history of humanity! More detailed study and research necessary, and commendations from Alterra Corp are due.”