Posted on Tue May 24th, 2022 @ 11:52am by Quinlan Barrett Poe & Addy Stone & Shepherd Harley & Harlequin & Ashe Sparrowhawk
Edited on on Mon Jun 13th, 2022 @ 4:19pm
The Xiao Jin Chronicles
Location: Cargo Bay / Ramp; Persephone
Timeline: Mission Day 20 at 0945
Since the Eavesdown Docks touchdown camera three, which was pointed toward the open ramp's gang, was flickering its visual feed with strange patterns. Hazy hues of blue and red rippled through its angle of view. With it, a strange squealing shriek of sounds: Dadada-Daa-Daa-Daa-Dadada. It was tinny and strained, almost anemic. It wasn't strange to have electrical or signal feedback on Persephone- the heavy presence of the Alliance saturated the EM bands with their comms traffic, prioritized above all others.
The screen flicked black and a garbled sound came from it: almost musical, if music could be eight-bit datapoints. On the black screen floated a strange, crude icon as if made of large and blocky pixels. It was a drawing of a girl holding some kind of a flag- certainly not one from any planet in the Alliance?
The tinny shriek of sound carried from the cargo bay out onto the ramp and made Addy wrinkle her noise in annoyance. She twisted, craning to look back over her shoulder up the ramp. The sound had been going on for a while and the longer it went the more it bothered her. But she'd been placed on the ramp and she didn't feel like Quinn would be terribly pleased to find she'd left the Shepherd to represent them on her own while she investigated a sound that could be nothing.
Still... it was persistent and the ship's care was her job. She chanced a look at Sula and sighed. "I'm going to step up into the cargo bay a moment to check that sound, but if someone stops on the ramp you come get me, understood?"
"Of course," Sula answered, waiting to broach the subject of her relationship with Poe. Sula was not the mischievous sort, but she noted that Addy had not indicated that she should immediately come and get her, if someone stopped by. It would be nice to have a conversation with someone, if they appeared. She just hoped that whoever it was that stopped by could cook.
Addy eyed the Shepherd for a moment, thinking and then gave a small nod. "You need me you yell. I shouldn't be long."
Eyebrows bunching, Addy drug herself back up the ramp and in to the console just inside the cargo bay. She spotted the darkened screen almost immediately with its blocky image and frowned. That, she was certain, was in no way something native to the ship. She did a quick scan of the console, looking for any indication of tampering, and finding none returned to studying the figure, trying to puzzle out what it and the persistent rhythmic whining could be coming from.
The strange girl-figure with the digital flag vaguely animated in a basic and blocky way. Then words appeared next to the icon. Where is Poe?
With a sigh, Addy turned away from the console. She was hesitant to turn the thing off and restart it. Computer mechanisms were all well and good and she could manage them somewhat, but she was much more comfortable with the machinery. Making a quick decision she hurried up the stairs to the gangway and paused at the top of the bunk she shared with Quinlan. The sound was less loud here, but still audible enough that she could make it out. She glanced back over her shoulder quickly before shimmying down the ladder into the room and turning quickly before her eyes settled on Poe.
"There's something you ought to see in the cargo bay," she said.
He tucked the list he'd been working on into his pocket and rose from the desk, turning as he did so to smile in her direction. "What is it," he asked as he headed toward the ladder. He left off adding 'and how bad is it' because you didn't invite that sort of thing in if you could help it. Best to think positive while you could.
"Something odd on the camera 3 and a real repetitive noise that I don't quite see the source of. Systems look fine from what I can see..." she said, returning his smile quickly before climbing up the ladder ahead of him. "Just seemed like something you ought to see. Maybe you can make some more sense of it than I can."
Once they were out of the room she led the way, drumming down the steps in a rush. She reached the console a moment ahead of him and rechecked that all was still taking place as she recalled. The pixelated image still remained and the tinny repetitive signal continued to sound, louder now that they were back to the source. "You recognize this image?" she asked when he stepped in next to her.
He studied the picture for a moment, listening to the tinny sounds coming out of the speaker and shook his head slightly. No, he thought. Not sounds. Music. And familiar somehow but ... where? Poe had never been the chatty sort and there were things about himself that few knew. Not even Addy though she would in him; she had that way of digging at things. Gently but with great persistence. One of those things was an interest in Earth-That-Was, its history and its culture, and then, later, in the colony ships, especially the few that went missing. This tugged at that portion of his brain where all of that was stored though nothing came immediately to mind.
"This is old," he said at last, "and I'm not sure but I think maybe it's a reference to Earth-That-Was. And if that's true, then this is a message of sorts."
Addy's gaze moved from the screen to Poe and back, a squiggle of curiosity settling in the pit of her stomach as he said it. Earth-That-Was. She pressed her lips together, though, waiting for him to parse through what he wanted to do.
The screen flickered at Poe's words. It read in English and in Chinese pinyin. Yeah. Méiyǒu gǒu shǐ, Poe. The words appeared, letter-by-letter, like they were typed. Then they were wiped away only for a new series of letter-by-letter strikes to appear. It cost me some Big Hydro.
He kept his face smoothed out, non-reactive, because that's how he faced most of the situations his slightly insane life had thrown at him. And so, he pushed aside thoughts about being watched for later consideration and focused on the screen. "Well, you certainly went out of your way to get my attention and now you have it. What do you want?"
The screen momentarily washed away the letters. A cursor blinked on the regular. Blink...... blink..... blink.
Then a series of symbols began to skitter in mathematics and codelang. They were bracketed in a series of.... redirects?
Plot Me. The words tapped out, followed by a strange series of chirps, longer sounds and chirps: Dadada-Daa-Daa-Daa-Dadada.
"Ashe," Poe said as he keyed the intercom, "could you give me a location for these coordinates?" He read off the numbers and then addressed himself to the screen. "And this will give us a location to where exactly?
"Will do," Ashe responded as she punched the coordinates in. She frowned as she saw the results. "These coordinates aren't really complete. Looks like somewhere between Bai Hu and Qiang Long. With a drift factor."
"Drift as in a derelict or a buoy of some kind," Poe asked. "Can you tell if it's following an orbit or just ... you know ... drifting?"
"I can't quite tell," Ashe responded. "These aren't the most complete and precise coordinates I've seen. Either drifting or a wide orbit."
The cursor blinked repeatedly. It began to type out, If you want to know more, come to the Eavesdown Sly.
"What kind of game is this?" Sula asked, truly perplexed at the things being typed. "Who could do this and why send this to us?"
Poe frowned at the screen for the benefit of the individual who was communicating with them and didn't that need to be looked into at some point. He ran a hand through his hair as he considered all the places that he knew on the Eavesdown Docks. The fact that he didn't know this particular one led him to a notion of where it might be. There was that one area he'd never had the need or urge to frequent. "It's a might too mysterious for my taste," he said, "but still, there are some questions that need answering so it's somewhere I need to go."
"I'll go with you," Addy piped up, eyes darting at Sula who had appeared at the top of the ramp and come to join them. Maybe it was wishful thinking, but this seemed as good a time as any to prove she was more than just a girl with predilection toward machinery. "You've no idea what you're walking into. You should have back up."
"If the Captain is going to take on this foolish errand, then yes, he should be accompanied," Sula agreed. "But not by you, Addy. I should go. You could potentially be emotionally compromised if something was to happen to him. Besides, if the ship is in danger, who better to make a rescue or get everyone else out of here? And, a shepherd is generally not thought to be threatening to anyone." She gave a small shrug at Poe who disdained anything that remotely resembled something religious in discussion.
Eyes narrowing, Addy fixed Sula with a hard look. "All respect to you, Shepherd, but I don't know you're qualified to decide the fragility or fortitude of my emotional state." She turned back to Quinn. "Sides, it's not a decision either of us gets to make."
"You're correct," Sula told Addy. "It is not my decision. However, I think it is something our Captain should consider. These decisions should be made from the mind and not from the heart. My suggestion makes sense." Sula then quickly added, "But it is not my ship."
"Addy's right, the decision is mine to make," Poe said. Annoyance slipped across his visage and was removed almost at once. "Neither one of you are going. Addy, you have the ship. Shepherd, that collar isn't as much protection as you think it is. I appreciate the offer, both of you, but neither one of you is ready to back me up if there's danger."
The languid regularity of the cursor blinked, at first adding nothing further. In their discussion a time stamp had appeared: 2100 local. But then it jerked and warbled, and the normalcy of the manifest screen appeared. Perhaps its owner had lost connection or had said all there was to say.
Addy nodded slowly, agreeing though with a touch of trepidation. She flashed another hard look at Sula, though, trying to unwind what the woman was trying to get at stepping into things like that. Turning back to Poe she repeated his comment, tone even and calm as if this were a perfectly normal exchange. "Alright," she said, "I've got the ship."
Sula's eyes widened at Addy's hard look. Did Addy not understand how her emotions were compromising her logic? Apparently not. She made a mental point to try and talk to Addy when some time had passed. She turned back to Poe, her face becoming more unreadable. "As you say, Captain." She then turned about and headed to her business.
Méiyǒu gǒu shǐ (No Shit)