So Many Unexpected Things by Rufellen

So Many Unexpected Things

Closing the door behind him the N-DRG-07-C pressed his hand against the room control panel to the right and interfaced. His Nostor Industries ID was enough to trigger the lock and the subversive software he’d spliced alongside it rode the signal into the system and hijacked it. It was a simple hack, stopping the door management processor from informing the main security desk that it had been opened then locked again after someone passed through. The signals from the door where dumped into a one time address that connected to nothing, as far as any of the automatic systems were concerned no one had been through that door today.

Moving on swiftly the green scaled dragon looked from side to side as he moved away from the parts of the base he was supposed to be in. It had taken months to infiltrate Nostor Industries as a regular customer rep and service analyst., the fake ids, the background checks it had taken his employers seventeen months to build a history that could withstand NIs sophisticated and somewhat paranoid security systems. After that there had been another two years of working for the company, being one of the many who worked in his local branch in Hong Kong. He was quite proud about how he had fit in, his holographic disguise matrix was the best, no one suspected he was anything other than the green scaled western dragon he appeared to be. He’d built friendships, fitted into the social circle of his colleagues and neighbours and was a perfect citizen and managed to wrangle this promotion to area team leader. Ronaldo Lewis Ronota, an immigrant from the USA, major in electronics and computer softwares, skilled linguist and a good baritone and a passionate member of Hong Kong’s imported love of karaoke.

That meant on the site training at Nostor Industries HQ based on the pacific island CEO Russet Nostor had purchased when he elevated the company to international recognition. It was an eccentric place to build your headquarters but it was well defended and made sense when you looked into the technological advances Nostor Industries was pioneering in the field. Beholden to no government, their technology had advanced the world in several fields, from robotics to network protocols to biomedical research. On the surface it looked like nothing more then a successful inventor making good, until you started to look beneath the surface. There were hints, suggestions that Russet Nostor was something other then he appeared to be in public. Nothing overt, just suggestions, shadows, the ability to build the company into such a successful entity so quickly, technological advances that those who were watching didn’t think should be present at this time in the planet’s development. Then the slender, sable coloured pole-cat had turned up in public at a New York meeting accompanied by a Polar Bear. He was huge, lumbering in a beautiful silk suit and tie, a massive bodyguard which in and of itself wasn’t that unusual, many rich and powerful people employed such protections. However those who had been watching with mild interest sat up, alarm bells ringing as their passive scans revealed the so called “Companion” to the CEO of the largest, most powerful technological company on the planet was a robotic entity that was more sophisticated than anything in the world.

Taking a closer look they soon realised that it wasn’t just this new polar bear, the robotic soldiers being produced for governments, the network interface systems, the satellites, were all several orders above what they should have been. Not wishing to tip their hand or make their presence felt but fearing there was something definitely alien to Russet Nostor’s technology they decided to act and put a plan in motion to get someone on the inside.

N-DRG-07-C or Drake to those who knew him personally had been built specifically with infiltrating Nostor Industries in mind, the subtle advances to his programming and design introduced by his benefactors had seen to it that he was produced and brought to full sapience under the guidance of his creators who thought he was all their own work. An answer to NIs advances in robotics, though they were unaware that the seed of his Artificial Intelligence had been given an additional mission and mandate from those who had in truth created him. Taking a deep, artificial and unneeded breath Drake disrupted a portion of his holographic disguise on his left arm pulled a visor out of a hidden compartment beneath. Activating them and slipping them over his eyes he adjusted the wavelength of his emitters and cloaked his body from sight.

The interior surface of the visor lit up, scrolling through various different startup routines before settling into the UI that was slaved to his internal systems. It was an inelegant to have to rely on an exterior item like this but it was the only way he had of connecting to his benefactors without Nostor Industries detecting his transmissions. It was in reality a node of a quantum communication system linked directly to his benefactors and as the visor finished booting it connected immediately.

[Q-Link, M5, xN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake oGCU Better Late Than Never]
I’m in and past the security cordon without being seen

[Q-Link, M5, xGCU Better Late Than Never oN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake]
Congratulations Terra Drake, our sources indicate Russet Nostor is due to make another of his unexplained 5 day “vacation trips” sometime in the next three days. Your target is Sub Level 13, cliff side, the Nostor Industries Executive Transport Hangar, access the main bay computer his itinerary should be loaded.

[Q-Link, M5, xN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake oGCU Better Late Than Never]
Copy that control, proceeding in stealth mode gamma, full cloak engaged.

[Q-Link, M4, xN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake oGCU Better Late Than Never]

Uplink Stream Enabled

[Q-Link, M5, xGCU Better Late Than Never oN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake]
Understood, we are watching

Moving deeper into the complex Drake passed several empty offices and circled a large rotunda whose domed ceiling showed a magnificent view of the tropical sky outside. It had taken years to pilfer the limited schematics they had of the base but it was enough for Drake to reach a ventilation shaft that would give him access to the lower levels. Russet Nostor had spent the past thirty years riddling the extinct volcanic island with tunnels and underground chambers. The buildings visible above ground where merely the tip of the iceberg, their stolen plans even indicated the pole-cat’s actual living quarters were built into the crater wall where they could overlook the lake of the caldera and the sloping cliffs of the old volcano itself.

Leaving the rotunda via a small maintenance door Drake stopped at the edge of a large grill, a quick hack of the control system and he was down inside the primary ventilation shaft. It connected the central environmental regulation system to all the rooms in this part of the complex.

[Q-Link, M5, xN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake oGCU Better Late Than Never]
Are you receiving these images? This tunnel isn’t clad like the others, you can see the bare rock. Nothing natural or earth made carved this and the cabling and piping, my passive scans are detecting alloys that have no known equivalent amongst earth materials.

[Q-Link, M5, xGCU Better Late Than Never oN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake]
We can see, continue, this is adding certainty to the possibility that Nostor Industries is alien in origin or has access to non-terra technology that is accelerating its advancement. We must find out where Russet Nostor goes during these vacation days. Our projections indicate a 87% certainty that this is where Nostor works on or keeps his non-terran technology.

[Q-Link, M5, xN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake oGCU Better Late Than Never]
Understood, proceeding below.

The ventilation shaft opened out into a vertical shaft that plunged down into the bedrock of the island. Passive scans from his inbuilt sensors indicated that it descended for the equivalent of twenty five storeys with the space between floors varying between fifteen to twenty feet. Each floor was marked by an opening into a central ventilation shaft like the one he had just traversed. The security system was quite sophisticated but clearly not designed to penetrate someone wearing his level of cloaking technology. He’d have to be very careful not to trip any of the laser grids or primary detection nets but he figured he could get down there.

[Q-Link, M5, xN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake oGCU Better Late Than Never]
I have surveyed the situation, I believe I can penetrate the security grid, it is standard NI sec. Nothing alien or non-terran detected.

[Q-Link, M5, xGCU Better Late Than Never oN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake]
Proceed with caution, our probability vectors indicate that if any non-terra based security measures exist they will be on the Executive Levels.

Drake stepped off, thrusting himself forward and let his wings carry him away from the edge in a gentle glide. He turned them and let himself sink down the shaft, slowly but surely spinning in a long circling glide. He wasn’t really built for unpowered flight but he didn’t dare activate any of his powered systems for fear of tripping the alarms. In theory he could glide down to the right level and land in the ventilation conduit. His HUD was throwing up guide vectors helping him trim and adjust his descent with minute adjustments of his wings. He still landed heavily, he was moving much too fast and as his feet crashed into the stone floor of the conduit entrance on Level 17 his cloak flickered as his large robotic feet sheared right through one of the conduits carrying hot air about the base. He was unharmed but he cursed and clambered out of it, resetting his cloak and setting off at a run. It wouldn’t take long before the environmental systems reported the fault, it’d then dispatch a drone or service engineer to look into the source and even the most unskilled tech would be able to tell something heavy, with claws had shorn through that pipe by landing on it from above.

After that the alarm would be raised, the base would switch to heightened security and he’d be screwed. A minute after landing he had crawled out of the conduit and into a small supply closet on level 17. The door according to their map opened out into the main executive hangar, from there it was a simple trip across the floor up a ladder and into the hangar control bay. Placing his hand on the control for the door Drake hacked its system, over-riding the alarms and security alerts that would log the door as having been unlocked. He then deployed a series of micro-darts from the tips of his wings, the card thin devices slipped through the cracks in the door and stuck themselves into the floor about two metres away. They then scanned the exterior surface and appearance of the door, transmitting the image to his holographic system. He then expanded the field forwards out of the micro-dart projectors, recreating an image of the door closed and not being used. It meant he had to drop his organic appearance, revealing the matt silver frame and blue illuminations of his robotic body. It was a risk but a calculated one that allowed him to open the door, step through and close it without running the risk of hidden cameras spotting the door being used.

That part of the plan went flawlessly, he was through into the hangar, hidden safely behind the holographic shield and able to take stock of his surroundings. What he saw however wasn’t at all in keeping with what he’d been led to expect. There were technicians in NI jumpsuits scurrying about chatting loudly to one another as they hurried about various tasks. The control booth was filled with headset wearing assistants and the whole place looked like it was preparing for a launch.

[Q-Link, M5, xN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake oGCU Better Late Than Never]
They’re preparing to launch a craft, the hangar is full of people, do I scrub and retreat?

[Q-Link, M5, xGCU Better Late Than Never oN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake]
Shit, Nostor must be preparing to go on his trip today! Negative, do not scrub the mission. Find the plane he’s taking and hide onboard. We have to track where he is going and find out where he’s getting this off-world tech from.

[Q-Link, M5, xN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake oGCU Better Late Than Never]
Ok, let’s see… what the hell is that!

[Q-Link, M5, xGCU Better Late Than Never oN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake]
Report, Terror Drake… what have you, holy supernova’s, is this data file correct!

The dragon could only send back an affirmative, the hangar was indeed set up for a launch but the VTOL craft that sat in the hangar had been parked off to one side to make room for the elevator. Rising up out of the floor was a craft that defied logic, it appeared to be a beige oval, twenty feet long and flat along the side facing the floor. It was hovering lightly, resting maybe half a foot up from the floor and the space underneath was filled with a faint blue light, a scattering of photons across the shadow.

There were no visible openings, no hatches & airlocks, windows or ports, just a smooth outer skin which according to Drake’s passive scanners was some sort of biological polyp, incredibly similar to tree bark yet fifty times as dense. The energy readings coming off it where so strange he had to reformat his scanners and up the scale by a factor of three to get reliable readings.

[Q-Link, M6, xN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake oGCU Better Late Than Never]
Yes the data is correct, of course it’s flaming correct, what the hell is that thing!

[Q-Link, M7, xGCU Better Late Than Never oN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake]
I’m reading… well you’re reading fuck that thing is emitting advanced decay state fermions, tertraquarks and mesonic pomerons. They’re pouring out of the dorsal side of the item and causing that scattered light effect. It’s some sort of anti-gravity diffraction system but it is more advanced than anything Earth should have.

[Q-Link, M7, xN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake oGCU Better Late Than Never]
How can NI have anything that advanced? I thought contact’s theory was that NI had found some alien tech. Not that it had access to a fully functional anti-gravity system. What is that thing anyway? My sensor’s cannot penetrate the outer-casing, hell I can’t even work out what the outer casing is. My passive sensor’s can’t penetrate… wait, something is happening, the doors from the base have just opened… oh lords… are you seeing this?

Drake watched as Russet Nostor’s large polar bear companion and bodyguard ambled through the doors on all fours. His massive furry body had a lumbering gait and was strolling toward the strange floating device at an unhurried amble. Perched atop his head however was a small creature with black and silver fur, bright blue eyes and surrounded by a corona of holographic displays. Voice recognition software in Drake’s sensor packages identified the voices as Boon the organic seeming, yet 100% robotic polar bear and Russet Nostor. Though this tiny creature was so far removed from the tall, thin, anthropomorphic CEO that Drake had his sensors re-run the software match again.

[Q-Link, M8, xGCU Better Late Than Never oN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake]
Bloody hell, fuck, fuck, fuck, what is this! Are you seeing the same bio-readings I am on that alien atop the bear robot? Why haven’t we seen this on previous scans of him. His body is not-organic nor is it solid, I’m not seeing any bone structure beneath the surface and the electrostatic signature is indicative of an advanced hyper-matter communications system emanating from the creature itself.

[Q-Link, M8, xN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake oGCU Better Late Than Never]
I don’t know, maybe his… other shape is a disguise impervious to our scans. Look, none of the staff are reacting to his presence. They’re acting as if this is ordinary, a day to day occurrence, how could we have missed this! What are my orders?

[Q-Link, M10, xContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight oN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake]
I’m escalating this, hold for orders, Conclavia is assembling

Drake flexed his claws nervously, watching as the strange alien creature and his robotic bear wandered across the hangar. This was bad, it wasn’t just alien tech, it was a real, actual alien creature living on earth, corrupting earth, advancing them in ways they were not ready for! He shifted his weight and ran a silent diagnostic on his weapon systems, ready to engage should the order come down to stop this. Before he received any orders or further communications however there was a sudden spike in the energy levels coming off the floating object and it extended a sphere of grey light around the bear and pole-cat.

For a moment Drake detected a fully formed einstein-rosen bridge inside the sphere. It was there for less then a second before it winked out of existence as the sphere of light collapsed in on itself, leaving behind a scattering of bosnic particles which quickly decayed into nothing.

[Q-Link, M10, xN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake oContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight]
Can I have some orders please guys… this thing is getting really out of hand! I’m reading a whole host of energy signatures coming on line. If I am reading this right it’s manipulating sub-space and hyper-space around the hull to dampen inertia, to invert dimensional co-existance and I think it’s about to take off!

[Q-Link, M10, xContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight oN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake]
Attach yourself to that ship! You need to attach yourself to its hull and follow it! This is a Priority Alpha Contact Containment breach. It clearly has the capability to elude our sensors, we need you attach to it and relay its position.

[Q-Link, M10, xN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake oContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight]
Oh hell… ok here I go!

Drake pulled in his holographic shield, converting it to stealth mode and raced across the hangar. A couple of techs turned but he had his cloak in place before their organic visual processors could discern his shape. Leaping forwards the dragon landed on the side of the small ship and started to slide off! The polyp was smooth and ionised with a field of particles as the power levels continued to rise. Desperately Drake cycled his systems through a variety of polarisations until he was able to match the shield frequency of the ship and dig his claws into the polyp, holding on tightly. He had barely secured his grip when the ship shot forward out of the hangar and rose into the sky, going from a stately nothing to over 80kmph in less then a second. If he hadn’t been tuned to the shield frequency he’d have been ripped off as they continued to accelerate. His sensors where showing that the outer field was holding the ship inside an inertialess bubble that he was now thankfully part of.

[Q-Link, M10, xContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight oN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake]
Agent… Terra…. Drake…. report, signal density opaque, packet loss reaching critical….

[Q-Link, M10, xN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake oContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight]
I’ll have to call you back! I’m a little bit busy right now holding onto the hull of a flaming spaceship taking off!

Drake had no idea if his message got through, the atmosphere around the ship was being twisted in strange ways his sensors couldn’t follow. Whatever method of propulsion the ship was using was outside the tech he was used to. He was lucky he’d been able to anchor himself to the hull, there was no way he was going to start experimenting with anything else until the risk of falling off and being squished as inertia caught up with him had gone away.

Tilting his head down Drake stared as the Earth started to recede below them, there was a moment of carmine light all around the ship. It danced across his metallic hide and then the universe went insane as the alien vessel leapt to a new level of speed and streaked away from the earth and moon. His scanners shut down, his external feeds reduced themselves to touch only as he crouched against the hull of the craft and clung on desperately as they powered forward at speeds that would have flattened him into atoms if inertia had been involved.

-0-

With the ship moving safely past the moon Russet turned away from his controls and stretched out in the heather next to Boon. The huge polar bear was watching him with interest, waiting patiently for him to be done, “So Boon, what do you want to know about next?”

“Well master, can you tell me more about the ship?”

“Of course, this is the shuttle craft Elmef,” he sat up on his hind legs and gestured around the room they were in, “But if you want to know more we need to play a game of What did you see.”

“Oh boy, I love that game,” Boon crowed excitedly, clapping his huge front paws together, “Ok so what did I see… I saw Elmef when we arrived at the Hangar…”

“Indeed,” Russet murmured with a smile, watching Boon’s muzzle screw up as he started to think and review the data his sensory equipment had recorded. Boon was his first ever fully artificial, non-organic sentience so it was important that these games were both educational and informative to help him grow and develop. He had the body of a fully grown robotic polar bear but his mind still had a long way to go, “So what did you see when we arrived at the Hangar?”

“The Elmef, it was… a Dimensionally Morphological Ship-Hull, like the design stored in my educational files. It’s a secret and not for release to the general public but you still use the design for your ships.”

“Indeed I do, now then, we are on the bridge, what do you see?”

Boon looked around, the soft hum of his neck actuators barely audible, Russet could only just about hear them, “Well this is the bridge, it appears to be a six hundred metre square bio-sphere landscaped to look like a garden. There is a lawn, a pond and running water framing the Ivy bush that is the Elmef. There are garden paths leading to the transport network interface and discrete holographic projectors making it look like we are outside as well as giving access to the ship's systems if you have an interface key.”
“Well done, now put that together with what you know,” Russet suggested, smiling and sprawling out, he loved this tiny shape, agile and small and lazy and feral, it felt great to just be him for awhile.

“Well,” Boon started with a frown, claws tapping the grass, “The Elmef is like me, an artificially grown intelligence. Just organic based, the neural structure that operates the Elmef’s systems exist inside the living tissue of the Ivy Bush and are spread throughout the hull it currently inhabits?”

“This is correct,” Russet waved a paw, “Elmef is as alive and sentient as you or I, just organic and a plant.”

“Ok… so…” Boon frowned, “Something isn’t right… wait!” he looked around, scanning the bridge area again then turned back to Russet, “This isn’t right, the hull of the Elmef is twenty feet long… yet this whole room is bigger than that!”

“Correct,” Russet sat up and smiled at the bear, “Can you work out why? Think about what you know, what I said… what does that tell you?”

“Uhm..,... well Master I think… that Elmef is able to generate interior dimensions using the Morphological Effects of the hull-shell?”

“Exactly, our position in space is married to the location of the Elmef’s exterior shell, but the interior is co-existence with the dimensional interstices of the quantum foam of the universe, suspended outside of it using a principle similar to my own projection into this reality.”

“So… it’s bigger on the inside because you have fancy science and Elmef can perform the required computations because he is a great big space-tree computer?”

“Correct! Well done Boon!” Russet hugged the bear's foot and smiled up at him, “See you can work these things out for yourself, you just need to think them through.”

“Yay,” scooping Russet up the polar bear robot hugged his creator then set him down between his ears and turned to look at the large holographic screen showing the outside, “So how long until we reach Jupiter?”

“Well let me find out,” The polecat held his front paws up and a cerulean holographic interface shimmered into place under them. A few deft movements and instructions and new holographic portals winked open displaying the data of their speed, direction and systems. “Hmm, ok it’ll be another fifteen minutes, which is rather long we should be almost there by now. Elmef what’s causing this delay?”

Another hologram shimmered into existence in the shape of a tall, anthropomorphic field mouse in long brown robes. He was frowning and staring up at the monitor showing their direction of travel, “I’m not sure Master, something in interfering with the inertia field compensator, the bio-mechanical systems are all operating normally but I can’t form a stable field.”

“Odd... “ Russet murmured, idly petting one of Boon’s ears as he scrolled through the data on his screens, “I see what you mean, fifty two percent loss in field coherence.”

“Master,” Boon asked, shifting his head from side to side, “I see something, can I ask a question?”

Russet looked down at the top of the polar bear’s head and smiled, “Of course Boon, what is it?”

“My educational files say that the Inertia drive requires a clear hull space to form a stable field?”

“Yes, that is correct, it’s why all our hulls have no external mounts or protrusions, all weapons can be deployed as drones or purely energistic,” Elmef responded, “The uninterrupted surface allows us to travel swiftly and easily.”

“Well…” The polar bear reached out and tapped a small screen, enlarging it, Why is there a robot dragon holding onto the outside of the hull? That seems like a strange addition it’d cause the field to destabilise right?”

In the silence that followed Russet and Elmef just stared at the screen, it was an exterior view of the starboard side of the shuttle. Smooth beige polyp with a large mechanical silver and black robotic frame with blue lights clinging to the hull.

“How did we miss that,” Russet demanded angrily sitting up and shaking his head, “Elmef security breach... shoot that thing off!”

“I advise against using weapons that close to the hull, it’s perched atop the Starboard Airlock as well. I can extend our field geometry and realign the inertia field to compensate.”

“Do it before we lose drive inertia completely and get me a communications band on that robot,” Russet demanded as he frowned at it, “It looks earth made to me… one of our competitors has been keeping secrets, it looks nearly as good as you Boon.”

“Who is it master? Are they a threat?” Boon asked, standing up on his hind legs and flexing his large claws, “Do you need your companion bear to dispose of them?”

Petting Boon’s ears Russet sighed, “I don’t know yet Boon, we’re nearly at Io, I have no idea how it got itself attached to the hull like this without being seen! Once we are inside the Skia-Oura’s cloaking field it’ll be cut off from communications with earth and we can bring it aboard and interrogate it.”

Boon nodded once, almost upsetting Russet’s precarious balance atop his head. He reached up a paw to steady the polecat then asked, “What does interrogate mean?”

-0-

Once he got used to the sensation of moving so fast Drake found it wasn’t all that bad. The initial acceleration had been awful but now he was moving at the same relative velocity as the ship he was pretty safe. The strange propulsion field was scattering his more sophisticated sensor equipment but the contact array he had in his claws and hands was busy scanning the ship and he was carefully crawling toward what he thought might be an airlock. Communications with the Conclavia was sporadic still, the field was capable of interrupting his Q-Link which meant it had to be manipulating the fabric of space on a quantum level as well!

[Q-Link, M10, xContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight oN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake]
… Terra…. report… response… emergency…. ‘tive ….. 23-beta…...

“Lovely,” he muttered to himself as he crouched atop the airlock and started to examine it, the hull was perfectly seamless. There was nothing to indicate it opened, no mechanical controls or hatches. As his hand brushed across the surface however glowing symbols emerged from the hull, tiny protrusions in a language he didn’t understand. The mechanism seemed simple though, one of the symbols was green and he was about to push it when the static filled field around him suddenly stopped as the propulsion field extended.

He was still scanning this to find out what it meant when he saw Jupiter come hurtling toward them without warning. They were traveling even faster now and then his coms system lit up like a christmas tree.

[Q-Link, M10, xContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight oN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake]
Agent Terra Drake report, emergency contact containment directive 23-beta-gamma-T-77-5.

[Q-Link, M10, xN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake oContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight]
23-beta-gamma-T-77-5 confirmed, attempting access now via what I think is an external airlock.

He stopped talking as space outside suddenly rippled and their incredible speed just bled away in a matter of seconds, establishing them in orbit above Io. The moon was now looming large, volcanic and red below them, framed by the majestic backdrop of Jupiter. His telemetry on the position of Earth had gone blank however but what was really interesting was the object slowly curving into view in orbit around the volcanic moon. It had been completely shielded from sight, whatever field it was generating was incredible, to hide something this big from the culture’s scanners was… well nearly impossible.

[Q-Link, M10, xContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight oN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake]
Terra Drake, your transmission cut off, our sensors have lost track of the unknown alien craft. It has vanished from our sensors in orbit of jupiter, respond!

[Q-Link, M10, xN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake oContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight]
direct visual and scanner interface link established You need to see this…

Rising majestically over the horizon of Io the small fleet of ships hung in the void of space against the backdrop of Jupiter. The smaller vessels according to the scans Drake was receiving from his advanced sensor systems where fifty foot shards of pure darkness, flying escort to the monstrous craft in the centre of the formation.

It was transmitting a beacon that Drake’s coms systems couldn’t translate, it’s Hull looked like silver wood, completely enclosed with no visible openings. The vessel was shaped like a seed pod, a huge, nine kilometer long vessel tapering at the forward end, over five kilometres deep at the central point, tapering back down to a rounded point at the aft.

From the aft-end of the vessel a silver spar emerged which split into eighteen points, reaching out in a halo around the Skia-Oura. It made it look like a dandelion seed on its side and the massive fronds split into thousands of tendrils at the end which seem to waver as if caught in a wind. They were curling and flowing with the gentle force of Jupiter’s magnetosphere, whatever their function Drake didn’t have the resolution to understand on his scanners.

Again like the shuttle he was clinging to there were no visible engine exhausts or technological sensor gizmos as one would see on a more standard vessel. Scanners showed that the Skia-Oura was bending space, time and the fabric of the universe. Moving with a propulsion method not seen inside the greater Galaxy before, it was different from the inertia suppression system the shuttle was utilising. The smaller escort ships had the same effect on space time but there hulls where like crystal, reflecting all his scans their power signature was terrifying however.

Drake was shocked by the ship, it wasn't big when compared to culture craft but its organic technology was outside anything he’d ever been programmed to expect. It clearly held more advanced tech then the shuttle carrying them towards it. He was so shocked by what he was seeing he didn’t notice the incoming transmission warning on his personal HUD for nearly half a minute which was a severe lack in a robot. Shaking his head he cautiously accepted the incoming communication and found himself looking into the fuzzy features of the pole-cat he’d seen riding atop the polar bear back on earth, Russet Nostor himself.

“Hello there, unidentified artificial intruder, I am Russet Nostor, please identify yourself at once.”

[Q-Link, M10, xN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake oContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight]
They have made contact with me, do I engage in conversation?

[Q-Link, M10, xContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight oN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake]
Negative, emergency contact containment directive 23-beta-gamma-T-77-5 is priority, gain entry to that vessel, capture alien entity.

[Q-Link, M10, xN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake oContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight]
Confirmed…

Drake operated the holographic control on the airlock and yelped as he fell through the hull. For a moment it registered as permeable and then he was inside. The hull solidified over head and the inner door swung open and he stepped out into a long narrow corridor. Of course his new host was not taking it sitting down either, he was shouting at him down the communications link but Drake severed it and set off toward the front of the ship.

After ten metres he started to have concerns, after thirty something was definitely up, the ship was too long, the corridor should have ended in something by now. No one wasted this much space on a ship this small, turning the robotic dragon tried the nearest door. It was sealed so he kicked it open, it took three tries to buckle the frame and he stepped out into what looked like a gymnasium, pool and recreation centre. Except it was outdoors, twice as wide as the shuttle, his sensors registered the appearance of outdoors was an elaborate illusion of light and energy but the size of the room was correct.

[Q-Link, M10, xN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake oContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight]
Please tell me you are registering this… what the hell is going on?

[Q-Link, M10, xContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight oN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake]
Fuck… GCU Better Late than Never is en-route to Io orbit, emergency contact containment directive 23-beta-gamma-T-77-5 is priority! Locate alien presence, subdue!

Drake’s response was cut off as five units moved into view, his scanners registered them as artificial, they appeared to be sleek, blue enamelled robotic units which were quite close in appearance to the Earth Otter. More importantly they had some serious weaponry trained on him but no independent thought, he could read their radio transmissions to the ship controlling them and started to pump out interference on every frequency as he ignored their demands to surrender and boosted himself forward, weapons lining up on the first security unit.

The laser cut through the otter shaped robots shields and sliced through its upper arm, ceramics and metal turning white hot and melting under the intense heat. Whilst it was collapsing he turned his attention to the next and then the third, they were good, well built, sturdy but no match for the dragon, not without independent action. Drake calculated he’d reduced their overall operational capacity by 40% with his electronic warfare attack which gave him the edge. Leaping over the last of the collapsing otters he shouldered through a door and out into what looked like a changing and hygiene area. Beyond that was a huge reception and outside of that another corridor.

[Q-Link, M10, xN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake oContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight]
Any advice on which way to go?

[Q-Link, M10, xContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight oN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake]
Primary tactical analysis of your sensor data record probability of command nexus being forward and above. Sensors indicate a transport tube ahead, fourth door, take it up one level.
[Q-Link, M10, xN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake oContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight]
How does this thing even have levels… but ok, I am glad you guys are reading all of this, no way I can process this much data. Advancing as planned, deploying defensive perimeter.

With those words Drake launched all six of his knife missiles, the slender, knife-sharp probes launched from his wings, thighs and arms and curved out and around to form a perimeter. They linked seamlessly into his combat programs and as he marched forwards down the corridor added extra options to combat the ship's security response. He had set up a scrambling field to deflect their attempts at electronic communication and the one attempt to hack his systems fell foul of his firewalls. It was quite sophisticated if he hadn’t had the Contact Conclavia online overseeing the operation and firing adjustments into his security systems to countermand the intrusion he might well have fallen to it.

Wrenching the fourth door open with his claws the dragon used his jump jets to power himself up the side of the shaft and smashed his way onto the upper deck. He immediately came under fire, a host of security robots, drones and ceiling mounted security systems where hammering on his shield with everything they had. He was forced to retreat, backing up along the corridor, wings curving around in front of his head and torso to add an extra layer of protection.

[Q-Link, M10, xContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight oN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake]
Enact encoded plan, Knife Missile Sacrifice provides optimal outcome.

Drake responded to the order, four of his knife missiles streaked forwards, two were cut down by plasma bolts, one fell foul to an electronic warfare assault but the fourth cut through the chest of the largest security drone and detonated! The explosion tore through the defenders, the deck and the large bulkhead door behind. It was a bit excessive and Drake felt the whole ship shudder in response and a host of alarms screamed into being but he was already running for the ruined door. With a burst of speed, the full thrust of his jump jets he cleared the entrance, wings spread wide to balance his weight as he soared across grasslands beyond.

Scanners raced around the room and his mind worked in over-drive to take in the situation. It was like no command centre he’d ever seen, more like a pleasant garden. The artificial dome roof was covered in holographic screens showing a variety of views. The interior of the ship, the outside orbit of Io, their trajectory as the small ship raced in toward the massive organic ship. A massive energy shield surrounded the bush in the centre of the bridge/park and standing before it was Russet Nostor and his Polar Bear; the elusive, alien CEO had changed back into his regular anthropomorphic shape, the black furred and white striped skunk in a black striped shirt and neat trousers.

Training his right forearm on the pair Drake called out, “Surrender, You are in direct violation of Contact Protocol Sixteen-Beta, premature contact with pre-spaceflight civilization.”

“Under whose jurisdiction?” Russet Nostor shouted, ducking behind the polar bear for a moment and emerging on the other side, “You have no right to attack us, just who do you think you are?”
“The Culture, now surrender and you will not be harmed, you shall be held until representatives from the Contact directive arrive.”

“Thank you, Boon, subdue that dragon!” Russet shouted and the polar bear started to run toward Drake, lumbering forward on all four feet. Drake cursed and swung his arm around, pumping energy into his weapons, lining up targeting data on the polar bear’s motor cortex. The bear was fast, he looked like a big lumbering thing but he was moving much, much faster than he had given him credit for. Drake was focussed on the bear, lining up his primary weapon systems which is why he almost missed Russet bringing a device up. It was a small black and red crystalline object and as the skunk trained it on the dragon his threat sensors went haywire as they registered a spike in energy that left the charts. He turned, trying to redesignate his targets but he was too late, the polar bear had been a distraction, the device emitted a pulse of strange radiation and all of Drake’s power systems red lined. The wrench as his primary power core was torn free of its housing and sucked down the miniature wormhole blossoming inside his chest made the huge dragon stagger.

Emergency power routines kicked in, batteries pumped energy into his primary systems and shut down all his weapons and deployed his wings, solar panels trying to align on the bridge’s light source for the extra miliwatts they provided him. Jumping back from the polar bear’s initial lunge Drake redirected the knife missile, sending it skipping across the room toward the skunk, he was clearly the threat. He was quick however, his crystalline weapon came up and the knife missile vanished down the throat of a miniature wormhole though the weapon did start to spark and Russet hurled it into a pond where it vaporized the water into steam. Then Drake lost track of him as the bear hit him, 18 metric tons of robotic bear slammed into him and he barely saved himself from falling over.

Straining against the bear Drake shifted sideways, unarmed combat routines flipping into primacy. He bent his knee, twisted his hips and threw the bear. It wasn’t very far but it was enough for him to disengage and take up a proper stance as the bear roared and turned around to leap at him again.

[Q-Link, M10, xN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake oContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight]
Please advise, unarmed combat without primary power core is ill advised

[Q-Link, M10, xN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake oContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight]
Disable bear, do not destroy, sentience must be preserved. Capture Russet Nostor, GCU Better Late than Never is 3 minutes out from Io orbital injection.

Drake sidestepped the bears ferocious lunge, brought his clawed paws up and grabbed his left leg as he went past. The bear fell with a heavy thump and Drake slammed his hand down, realigning his shield into a sharp point. Fur and synthetic skin parted under his claws, metal screeched and actuators snapped as he tore the bear’s hip joint asunder and leapt backwards, kicking the detached leg off in a different direction. Boon screamed and fell, thrashing his remaining limbs as he tumbled and Drake took off toward Russet, the skunk was leaning on a control panel, fingers flashing across the controls. The dragon yelled as something grabbed his ankles and he was pitched forwards, crashing heavily into the lawn, leaving an indent of his body as Boon’s front paws clawed their way up his ankles. Twisting around Drake lashed out, both paws flashing around, martial routines leading his actions before conscious thoughts and Boon’s head went flying, sparks and wires crackling as the polar bear’s huge body went inert and his head rolled to a stop.

“Enough…” Drake roared staggering to his feet and trying to ignore the power warning alarms flashing across his hud, “Surrender…..” he was cut off as a loud tone crashed into his mind making his vision waver as the signal meshed with his own. He crashed to his knees, unable to move as his quantum communicator was hijacked, the feed-back causing his already overstressed circuits to fail. Drake’s logical processes running wild as he tried to comprehend quite how you hacked a quantum communicator.

[Q-Link, M10, iRusset el Ineglard de Vardenai til Nostor Override xN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake to oContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight]
What the hell do you think you are doing! Tell that ship to stop right now or every telescope on earth will see the plasma wake you’ll make if you enter Jupiter’s magnetosphere at that speed!

[Q-Link, M10, xContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight oN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake to iRusset el Ineglgard de Vardenai til Nostor Override]
How… how are you using this line, this line should be inviolate…

[Q-Link, M10, iRusset el Ineglard de Vardenai til Nostor Override xN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake to oContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight]
You’re using Quantum Entanglement, now stop that ship! You’re going to pollute Earth’s society if they detect us!

[Q-Link, M10, xContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight oN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake to iRusset el Ineglgard de Vardenai til Nostor Override]
You have already contaminated Earth, your presence is a direct violation of pre-spaceflight contact protocols. Existence of alien contact has been suspected for some months which is why we fostered the creation of the N-DRG-07. We were not expecting a full blown invasion force.

[Q-Link, M10, iRusset el Ineglard de Vardenai til Nostor Override xN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake to oContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight]
Invasion! I am helping them, if I wanted to invade I’d have taken the country by now and not be disguised as an R&D firm! Who the hell do you think you are, how dare you attack me, you have no right to interfere in my operations.

[Q-Link, M10, xContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight oN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake to iRusset el Ineglgard de Vardenai til Nostor Override]
This galaxy is under the jurisdiction of the Culture Contact Conclavia, this world has been earmarked for protection against interference as per the Frolian Alliance

[Q-Link, M10, iRusset el Ineglard de Vardenai til Nostor Override xN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake to oContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight]
Oh how nice, well I’ve never heard of the Frolian Alliance, maybe you people should have called me before just attacking!

[Q-Link, M10, xContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight oN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake to iRusset el Ineglgard de Vardenai til Nostor Override]
You are open for discussions regarding the Planet Terra and your activities there?

[Q-Link, M10, iRusset el Ineglard de Vardenai til Nostor Override xN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake to oContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight]
Of course! now call of your stupid dragon robot and slow that ship down before you give us all away!

[Q-Link, M10, xContact Conclavia Directorate Oversight oN-DRG-07-C Terra Drake to iRusset el Ineglgard de Vardenai til Nostor Override]
Confirmed, Terra Drake… stand down from combat alert status, enter power saving mode. GCU Better Late than Never is slowing down for safe approach vector, rendezvous is now 23 minutes, we shall speak more upon our arrival.

With that the line went dead and the dragon robot slumped sideways and switched off, battery power reserved purely for maintaining his cognitive functions. The last sight Drake had of the Skunk was him frowning in annoyance at the head of his polar bear companion and then his visual sensors shut down and he sank into a quiet slumber. It sure was going to be interesting when he woke up, once all the shouting and apologizing was out of the way anyway.

So Many Unexpected Things

Rufellen

27 April 2016 at 11:50:40 MDT

A story I wrote for my friend Boon, featuring his Polar-Bear Boon, the robotic marvel, his creator Russet and Nidonocus character Drake the robotic dragon!

I have been working on it for ages but finally finished it off for his Birthday!

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