High above the gentle globe of Nexus, the silvery ring of the Chirr'T'Thar gate threatens to disappear when viewed on edge, while next to it, the bulkier mass of the mining station looks out of place, especially with several ships docked to it. The ghostly silent movement of Chirr'T'Thar gliding through space is made even eerier by their lack of space suits. A fair amount of repair and construction work is going on around the station and the gate. While inside, one out of sorts felitauress is grumping to herself, and anyone who will listen.
Chimera sits and listens with interest.
Andromeda growls to herself. Most of her wounds have healed, but she still has a slight limp on her back leg. It's been much too long for even an injury this serious, but she's reluctant to seek out a doctor. She looks at Chimera and purrs, "So what are you doing?"
Chimera smiles, "Watching you."
Andromeda moves groggily, feeling a little off balance, but chuckles at Chimera, "I'm flattered. But is that all you're going to do?"
Chimera shrugs. "Why don't you move to a freefall area, if your leg bothers you? Or will that cause it to heal incorrectly?"
A small smile crosses Andromeda's muzzle as she purrs, "True. A little bit of time in low gravity would be better. Jenora is off sunning herself, to recharge. She used a bit of juice helping to save me. Want to come along to the arboretum?"
Chimera nods, "Sure!"
Andromeda grins and limps over to the door and it slides open as she palms the control pad on the wall, "Well then, let's go."
Chimera follows, and asks, "Do you want a pressure cast to help support your leg?"
Andromeda growls and then calms herself, "No. It should be just fine as is, the bone itself was never affected."
Andromeda limps towards the smaller arboretum in the inner ring of the mining station, away from the large one at full gravity. The doors slide open and she bounces lightly inside the transparent section, Chimera close behind.
The arboretum, a much smaller chamber than the one on the outer ring, has plants that grow in odd forms in the low gravity, forming a maze of foliage among which some life does bounce around.
Andromeda regains some of her normal bounce in the low gravity, but she's obviously still a little out of sorts.
Andromeda sniffs at some of the plants and flowers then turns to look at Chimera, "So your actual...main body? is somewhere far from here?"
Chimera says, "Well, not exactly. I'm different from Charon, more independent. For me it's more like my memory is kept somewhere else."
Andromeda hmmms, "So, are each of your "remotes" different in personality?" The felitauress is obviously confused about having a decentralized consciousness.
Jenora wanders around through the arboretum in the outermost ring, walking through as she thinks.
The lush mix of foliage, along with the abundant signs of animal life in the large outer arboretum seems out of place with the sterile and functional design of most of the mining ship. Other than the living quarters, this is the only place that seems to promote life, and is used heavily by those that live on or just visit the station.
Chimera hmms, "Well, just me, and now Envoy I assume. I sort of have a section of brain dedicated just to my personality."
Andromeda chuckles, "I don't know if I can ever understand that. Ah well. So, why do you enjoy following me around so much?"
Jenora hmmmms, looking around at the various plants, collecting her thoughts.
In the larger arboretum, the sounds of someone walking in shallow water can be heard up ahead, where the artificial pond is located.
Chimera smiles, "You get into trouble a lot, which is interesting. And I like the way you move."
Andromeda hmmphs at Chimera, "My brother gets into trouble a lot too. I guess it is a family trait. What about the way I move? You like seeing people limp?"
Jenora seems to make up her mind, and walks over towards the living quarters...
From that same area, the sound of mildly off key humming reaches Jenora's ears.
Jenora stops, turning and perking up an ear at the humming.
Chimera nods. "Yes, it makes you redistribute your center of gravity in interesting ways. :}"
Andromeda thinks about that for a few seconds than grins, "My my my. So much for innocence. ;)"
The humming seems to waver a bit as the person humming shakes themselves.
Jenora pads quietly over towards the humming sound.
An odd vision appears when Jenora makes it around a short stand of trees. It looks like a gigantic, wriggling towel, with four feet and a snowleopard tail sticking out of the end.
Chimera blinks three times and cocks his head at Andromeda.
Andromeda bounces a bit more easily in the low gravity of smaller arboretum and grabs a fruit off a ceiling vine and purrs, "So you know how to appreciate felitaur females Chimera? ;)"
Jenora leans back against a tree, watching, still silent for now.
Chimera blinks again. "Is there a special method to appreciating them?"
Copernicus humms to himself as he vigorously towels himself off, unaware that he has a visitor.
Andromeda blinks three times and smirks, "Hmmm. Maybe still somewhat innocent after all. Maybe I should ask why you enjoy how I move?"
Copernicus finally folds up the towel and hangs it on a tree branch and just *SHAKES* his whole body, fluffing up the fur.
Jenora starts humming in harmony with Copernicus' attempts at humming.
Copernicus hmmmms and turns, finally noticing Jenora, "Good morning m'lady. And how have you been?"
Chimera says, "You're well balanced for a centauroid. A surprising amount of simplicity and economy for such a complex anatomy."
Jenora says, "Oh, doing not too badly... just been thinking."
Andromeda chuckles at Chimera, "That's...an interesting compliment, I think. ;)"
Copernicus nods and motions for Jenora to have a seat next to him as he starts brushing his fur, "What about?"
Jenora sits down, looking around to see if there's anyone else here. "About the collar, amongst other things."
Copernicus frowns, "That collar is upsetting nearly every Chirr'T'Thar Jenora. Though the apparent build up of "immunity" to it after being exposed once is prompting some to suggest we all should be exposed to it."
Copernicus doesn't look like he agrees with that assessment.
Jenora says, "I'd advise against that, personally."
Copernicus nods, "I've taken some precautions to keep anyone from being exposed for the time being. We're trying to study it remotely as best we can."
Jenora says, "Good idea." She looks around. "How private are we here?"
Copernicus hmmms, "How private do you need it?"
Jenora says, "No other Chirr't'thar listening in."
Andromeda, happier now that she's at lower gravity, grins and purrs to Chimera, "Well, what do you want to do now? Play tag maybe? ;)"
Chimera looks around, "Isn't this area a bit small for tag? And wouldn't that put more strain on your leg?"
Copernicus raises an eyebrow at Jenora, but then gets up and uncovers a hidden panel amongst the foliage. In a minute a force field surrounds the small bathing area. "There, we're secure, and I've set the proximity sensors to warn us of approach, but that shouldn't happen for about another half hour at the shift change."
Jenora says, "All right. Let's start with the assumption that the collar was designed by the same people who designed your race in the first place."
Andromeda seems confused for a moment as she bounces on three legs, then suddenly nods, "I guess it is a bit small here. So, what do you want to do?"
Jenora says, "It would make sense, given how specific to your people it was."
Chimera shrugs. "I've never been on a mining station before. What's it for?"
Copernicus nods, "I'd say thats a foregone conclusion, even though there are a few who don't want to believe that the slavers are anything more than a myth. But to me, the evidence seems overwhelming."
Andromeda hmms at Charon, "Well, for getting metals and minerals for building things of course. It also acts as a space port for many ships."
Jenora nods. "Which would mean that the collar was designed by people who knew about your 'little friends', and in fact had designed them as well. Which would allow them to try designing more nanotech to try and hijack them..."
Copernicus's eyes widen a bit at that. Finally, "So you're saying that my sister, and the three others down on Nexus have been infected with a virulent strain of T'Thar?"
Copernicus shakes his head, "But why were some affected without ever touching the collar then?"
Chimera says, "Why do you use metal to build with?"
Jenora says, "I think you see where I'm going, yes. The 'virus' could be airborne for all we know. The 'immunity' could be because your own bodies' T'Thar developed an immunity to the interlopers... or because they've settled in and integrated themselves into you."
Copernicus growls angrily, "So my own sister could be contagious? Joy. I do know she's been acting oddly, but I thought she was just upset about the nasty wound she got from the slavers ancient defense systems."
Jenora nods. "I don't know. I could probably find out if I could isolate a sample, but this is something I haven't even tried in... decades."
Copernicus sighs, "Due to our socialization, it truly is easier to get blood from a stone than it is from a Chirr'T'Thar."
Andromeda blinks, "This entire station is metal. So are our ships. True, we mix in various mineral and ceramic alloys, and various hardened polymers, but a lot of metal still goes into them Chimera."
Copernicus hmms, "And I don't dare go near her either. Jenora, I know this is asking a lot from a friend, but..."
Jenora chuckles. "Well, getting in close to the collar would probably be enough, see what it's giving off."
Jenora hmmms. "Yes?"
Chimera hmms. "It doesn't make sense. I think the tinkerers that created you were still a young race themselves."
Copernicus shakes his head, "Yes, the collar would be the first thing to try. Of course. Never mind about that. I can send a remote probe with you as you go to the station, so I can talk to you and view what's going on."
Andromeda blinks, "Tinkerers? You mean the slavers? And what doesn't make sense?"
Jenora nods. "Should be fine. And I should be immune. Quite aside from the fact that my biology doesn't match yours, I can fry any nanotech that actually gets inside."
Chimera says, "You were created to service their technology, but your construction is superior to mechanical or cybernetic systems. They should have replaced their technology with beings like yourself."
Jenora grins mischievously. "I've done a little work on 'picotech', myself..."
Chimera says, "They probably hadn't considered it though. Habits."
Copernicus smiles, "Well, despite their actual size, "nano" tech has stuck as a name. I appreciate this Jenora. This makes my skin crawl more than anything I've encountered."
Andromeda hmmfs, "Creating living things as subservient machines is not very moral."
Jenora nods. "Understood. And with 'picotech', I mean dealing with smaller than nanotech... playing at the quantum level instead of the molecular. I'm not good at it, but there are some interesting things you can do there."
Chimera says, "Why would they be subservient? The Stelya-rhyan are a created race, but they are not subservient. Who could make them so?"
Copernicus nods, "I've been trying to avoid talking to them, but the T'Thar have mentioned doing something similar. Sigh, I guess I'll need to have another chat. When can you go?"
Andromeda tries to keep her patience, "The race that "made" us, kept us subservient. Supposedly suppressed our intelligence and wills, like that collar did."
Jenora says, "Any time."
Copernicus nods and snaps off the force field, "Then lets go to cargo bay 3. It's isolated right now, and some of the equipment I need is there."
Chimera says, "A young race, or a frightened one. That method has never worked, and is always more costly than mutual cooperation."
Jenora nods. "After you, sir." She grins.
Andromeda has becoming more and more agitated as she talks with Chimera, and she starts looking around the room as she talks to Chimera, "Older races are capable of being selfish, lazy and greedy too Chimera. Is it warm in here?"
Copernicus chuckles at the "sir" and pads off at a brisk trot towards the cargo bay. The look on his face is unreadable, but it's clear he's truly frightened by what may be happening to his sister.
Jenora follows along quickly behind Coper.
Copernicus nearly leaps into cargo bay 3 and locks it behind Jenora as soon as she gets inside. He sets all the privacy protocols on the place and hands Jenora a small globe that is covered with flat metal "scales".
Copernicus purrs, "Take this with you, it doesn't have much range normally, but it does have a large array of sensors, and a communications relay. I can talk to you through it."
Andromeda bounces around some more, then lies flat on the ground, back arched and tail up, wiggling her behind before jumping at Chimera.
Jenora catches the globe, looks it over, and nods. "Gotcha."
Copernicus opens the inner hatch of the airlock, "You need to head to the circumpolar orbit of the larger Nexan moon. When you get close, the globe will give you a heading to the small orbiting satellite it's on."
Chimera blinks and ducks!
Andromeda mrrrrrrowwwrs as she misses, then turns, fangs bared, wiggles her back end some more, then leaps at Chimera again.
Jenora blinks. "You're really being careful with this, aren't you? Not that I blame you."
Copernicus purrs softly, "From what I've learned of the slavers from the T'Thar, they terrify me Jenora. And it's my sister's life at stake."
Jenora nods. "I'll do my best."
Jenora closes the airlock from the inside, and starts pumping the air out. Her body starts to glow.
Copernicus turns on the internal sensors to check on his sister.
Jenora waits until the airlock cycle is finished, then pops open the outer door and 'steps' outside.
Chimera hides under his wings!
Jenora pushes off, and flies quickly over towards the moon, aiming for the north pole.
Andromeda pounces on Chimera this time, taking his throat in her jaws and shaking him lightly before bounding to another part of the arboretum. No cuts or teeth marks were made on Chimera's neck, but the most surprising thing is the way the felitauress 'presents' herself to Chimera, with her back arched and tail raised.
Chimera tries not to struggle.. especially with those fangs at his throat!
Copernicus purrs to Jenora, "You're right on target. I've located Andromeda and Charon in the arboretum. I've set up a force field to keep them in for the time being."
Andromeda looks back to where she dropped Chimera and growls at him.
Jenora settles in to a low orbit around the moon, looking around for the satellite. "Okay, where's it located from here?"
Copernicus taps a few controls, "The globe will glow green on the side facing the satellite now."
Chimera blinks and sits up, wondering what to do now. He takes a swipe at Andromeda's rear with his tiny claws.
Jenora nods, and lifts up the globe, looking around it.
The small globe does now have a green spot glowing on one side. As Jenora rotates the globe, the green spot doesn't move. It points off to where a few pieces of debris are in orbit above the moons north pole.
Jenora hmmms, waiting for a moment to see which direction the spot is moving in as it tracks the orbit, then zips off to a point the satellite should get to as she gets there.
Andromeda starts, then purrs, and wiggles her behind some more, just as Copernicus's voice calls out on the speakers, "Sorry for the containment fields. Just a precaution, someone thinks something may be in the arboretum we don't want loose on the ship. How are you two doing? Having a fun day?"
The satellite doesn't seem to be there, though the green dot keeps pointing to one of the smaller meteorites.
Chimera looks around for the source of the voice, and asks, "What's loose in the arboretum? Andromeda is acting.. different."
There is a pause over the loudspeakers, then Copernicus purrs, "Andromeda, how are you feeling?"
Jenora floats over to the meteorite. "Copernicus, is this it?"
"RRRROOOOOOWWWWWWWWWRRRRRR" is the only response from Andromeda, upon hearing her brothers voice, she slams into the forcefield, apparently startled by it.
Copernicus purrs to Jenora, "Just a minute, I think we've got problems on board."
Chimera blinks. "She's acting as if she is an animal, I think."
Jenora nods, and starts checking out the meteorite herself.
Chimera says, "She felt warm just before she started acting like this."
Copernicus turns back on the intercom, "Er, Chimera, I'm afraid Andromeda is what's loose in the arboretum unfortunately. How like an animal? I mean, we ARE animals, just like most organic sentients."
Jenora touches the rock, then blinks as her hand goes through it... she chuckles, and slips inside the holographic camouflage.
Chimera hmms, "She isn't talking, and seems to be acting out some sort of hunting or mating behavior. No signs of higher thought."
Copernicus growls, "I waited too long for this. Chimera, can you keep her busy for a bit? We're working on a solution on our end as fast as we can. Just keep her from contacting any other Chirr'T'Thar."
Copernicus groans mentally and turns to console and purrs, "That's it Jenora. Release the globe and I'll open the satellite to expose the collar inside."
Chimera looks at Andromeda, "Okay, I'll try." He reaches to pet the felitaur's back, between her wings. Maybe that will help calm her down.
A shower of sparks fly as Andromeda's claws rake the force field, but she starts and turns at Chimera's touch, crouching low and yowling as she stares at him.
Jenora lets go of the globe, just floating outside the satellite.
The globe unfolds like a flower opening, the array of sensors and communication devices becoming active. When it's ready, the satellites holographic projector shuts off. One panel slides up, another to the side, and a third panel finally irises open, showing the infamous collar deep inside the shield layers of the satellite.
Chimera doesn't smile, since that would show teeth. Instead, he holds out his hands to Andromeda.
The feral felitauress's eyes narrow, and she launches herself at Chimera with no warning.
Jenora taps the globe, conducting the sound directly into it again. "Impressive." She reaches a hand in towards the collar, then hmmms...
Chimera falls backward so he won't take too much damage from the impact.
Meanwhile in cargo bay 3, Copernicus is watching the sensors, while also trying to make a connection with his own T'Thar while remaining aware of his surroundings, trying to desperately argue that this emergency threatens the whole treaty and would they please shut up and LISTEN.
Andromeda opens her fanged maw wide...and nips Chimera's ear playfully, before bounding away and presenting herself again.
Chimera hmms, trying to decide what to do. Andromeda isn't in her right mind, so to speak, so taking her invitation may be improper..
Jenora concentrates for a moment... she shrinks down smaller, considerably smaller, and floats inside the satellite. She starts staring at the collar, and 'sniffing' at it, searching for anything unusual floating around it.
Chimera decides the best course for now is to distract Andromeda. So, he turns and runs off deeper into the arboretum.
Copernicus's ears go up as the T'Thar not only believe how serious the emergency is, but preempt the use of one ear and one eye while they establish a direct connection to his speech centers. **Serious. Very. The Unt*&pka!@ designed our original form. Chirr host Andromeda is affected, maybe infected?**
Copernicus just nods, noting the little buggers can figure out what he means as easily as he can, and purrs, "What are you finding so far Jenora? Anything?"
Andromeda mews? Then, when she realizes that Chimera isn't coming back, bounds after him into the weird 3 D jungle of the low G arboretum.
Chimera uses his wings to fly closer to the top of the dome. Maybe Andromeda won't remember that she can fly?
Jenora hmmms. "Nothing yet, Coper, no."
Jenora says, "Going to a more active approach."
Andromeda leaps up at Chimera, and, despite her damaged leg, is able to reach him in the lower gravity.
Jenora starts bouncing things off the collar... radio, other EM radiation, other smells as she painstakingly creates scents using her own 'nanotech'...
Copernicus nods, "I'm in a "conference call" right now. They seem more worried than I am. Talking about contacting other T'Thar for consulting."
Chimera rrps, and gets pulled down.
Jenora hmmmms. "Might be a thought. They have any idea what might trigger it? What it might use to detect your people?"
**Affected/Infected Chirr danger to both races. Termination suggested.**
Copernicus growls, "I'm not about to kill my sister just yet you little uppity transistors!"
Andromeda, meanwhile, brings her prey to the ground again, then swats him away.
Chimera oofs, then gets up and tries to hide again.
Andromeda, or what's left of her, seems confused at this running away tactic. In frustration, she stalks back after Chimera again.
Jenora blinks. "They suggesting a full sterilization? A bit overdone, but I think you will seriously want to look at quarantining every one of the Chirr'T'thar who have been in contact with this until we know better..."
Jenora says, "Your sister wasn't the only one."
Copernicus nods, "I know. I'm taking steps for the four down on the planet right now. I'm not fond of doing stuff like this."
Jenora says, "Understandable, but it may be necessary. Now, do your little friends have any ideas as to what could trigger this?"
Chimera zigs and zags, and climbs up and down trees..
**Sapient plasma field has point. Quarantine minimum precaution. However, transistors we are not. Organic/molecular devices that communicate by quantum fluctuations in gravity and other fields. Recommend altering gravitic communications to allow quantum fluctuations. Non intrusive communication with other T'Thar then possible.**
Copernicus eeeshes, "Talk about getting an earful, literally."
Jenora says, "Think you could forward what they're saying?"
Copernicus purrs, "Jenora, they want me to set up some sort of device to allow them to talk with other T'Thar over a gravitic quantum fluctuation. Supposedly the Chirr won't even notice it.""
Andromeda seems to be enjoying the "hunt", and as she continues the chase with Chimera, her behavior becomes more predatory.
Chimera keeps to the air as much as possible, since even with the bad leg Andromeda is faster than him on the ground.
Jenora hmmmms... "Quantum gravitic. Think that would trigger off the collar?"
Copernicus blinks? "Maybe, let me...sigh, I want my ear back."
**Tell non host possible. Effective normally for few feet only. Why we do best when Chirr touch to talk, exchange information, programming.**
Jenora says, "Do they have a range on this? Maybe I could try talking to them directly. You should be able to tunnel gravitons with a little work."
Copernicus purrs, "They said it's normally only good for several feet, which kind of fits with the collar. And the use it to talk, and for..programming? It doesn't translate right. Information encoding? Inherited knowledge? Sure, I'll see if I can get the transmitter to handle that.""
Andromeda roars and leaps at the running form of Chimera.
Jenora hmmms. "Makes sense. They can't be intelligent individually, have to be a group mind, which implies a communications medium."
Chimera flaps and tries to double back so Andromeda will miss.
Andromeda misses, and is so surprised she crashes into the bulkhead at the edge of the dome.
Jenora says, "This would take the place of electro-chemical patterns in most organic species' brains, and of RNA transferral."
Chimera loiters to see if Andromeda is hurt. Her head looked harder than the bulkhead though..
Copernicus nods and purrs, "I've nearly finished modifying the transmitter. So the collar is triggered by the communications field? RNA transfer? You mean they can alter their "Makeup" by talking this way?"
Andromeda staggers back to her feet, and snarls at the bulkhead. When it refuses to respond she slashes at it, and unlike the force field, a good chunk of metal is sliced off.
Jenora says, "Don't see why not. Certain folded molecules, like proteins, can have multiple stable configurations. Gravitational pressure could be used to flip them from one to the other."
Chimera hmms at this. But at least she isn't chasing him now..
Copernicus ponders as his fingers alter a few more relays, "This is going to be a first for the T'Thar. If I wire this up right, they'll be able to communicate with nearly every Chirr around, and have a tight beam to you. They can even do their version of "online sex" and trade programs for a bit."
Andromeda, sensing an avenue of escape, starts slowly clawing her way through the bulkhead. Which, unfortunately, doesn't lead anywhere.
Jenora laughs. "Could be fun..."
Jenora says, "They may want to watch out, though. Keep the quarantined individuals out of the loop."
Jenora says, "If they can exchange programs _too_ easily, the virus may spread faster."
Chimera begins to wonder when Andromeda will stop, especially when he notices that the wall isn't healing.
Copernicus snorts, "I don't know, I prefer the old fashioned way. Oh, ok, I'll let them.., wha the hey?"
Jenora says, "What's wrong?"
Copernicus's arm, on its own, slashes through the communications alterations he was making, and his ears sympathetically burn as the T'Thar shout inside his mind **NON HOST IS RIGHT!! THAT IS HOW! HOSTILE PROGRAM THROUGH COMMUNICATIONS CHANNEL! TERMINATE GRAVITIC ADAPTER! FEELINGS OF SHAME! NEARLY INFECTED ENTIRE RACE DID WE!"
Copernicus groans from where he rests on the floor, shaking his head.
Andromeda continues to make headway on the bulkhead. Had she thought to go for the wall itself, she'd already be through.
Jenora says, "Coper?"
Copernicus oooogs, "Ouch. Er, Jenora, they think that you hit it on the head. Oooh, apparently my head from the feel of it. The collar reprograms the T'Thar that come in range, and our communications patch to you would have been the end of it. I hope you can hear me from the floor. I'm just gonna stay here for a few minutes."
Jenora nods. "Okay. Well, I'll see if I can get this thing to respond to that sort of communication, anyway." She tries bouncing a few quantum gravitational pulses off the collar, trying various patterns...
The T'Thar have gone into an internal conference, releasing Copernicus's borrowed senses, but still leaving him feel like he was kicked in the head by a booster rocket.
Jenora says, "This would suggest that they could eliminate the virus by reprogramming it back... aha! I've got something."
Copernicus hmmms, "I never noticed all the claw marks in the deck panels before. Er, yes Jenora?"
Chimera starts making noises in the bushes, trying to get Andromeda's attention before she gets too frustrated with the bulkhead.
Jenora says, "I got a pattern response from the collar. I'll keep records of all the patterns I find, maybe we can figure out a counter to them."
Andromeda, about 3/4ths of the way through, turns and peers at the sound, then hunkers down and slinks through the grass.
Chimera hmms, now he has her attention. Great. He runs off as fast as he can!
Copernicus claws his way to his feet, and purrs, "Actually Jenora, if you can translate the patterns to pulses of light, I can have the globe feed them here. From what those ...sigh, what the T'Thar tell me, that shouldn't affect them at all. And I'm getting the feeling we're running out of time for the 5 people affected."
Jenora nods. "Makes sense, it would have to be gravity to actually affect them... I'll feed them back. You might want to see if we can get any suggested patterns to try from them."
Jenora fires back the original and response patterns for the first she found, as light pulses.
Copernicus wobbles as he tries to focus on the screen and mutters . o O (A simple STOP would have been sufficient. Your "SHOUT" hurt.)
**Apologies later. You wish to save Chirr sister instead of sensible decontamination. We must act.**
Jenora says, "Of course, you may want the gravitational communications set anyway, to try broadcasting the virus kill sequence if we can figure one out."
Copernicus watches the series of pulses, and senses a pause from the T'Thar, like a mental gasp. They then suggest two more sets of pulse patterns, and he types them out and purrs, "Try these in order Jenora. I think you got lucky the first time."
Jenora nods... "Okay." She bounces the next set of pulses off the collar, watching for any response before trying the other set.
Andromeda bounds after Chimera as soon as he starts running again. She's now back to her "playful" mode.
Another set of more complicated fluctuations occur in response to Jenora's signal.
Chimera leaps up into a tree. Too bad trees don't grow very tall in domes..
Jenora sends the other sequence as she translates the response to light pulses and transmits it back.
Andromeda grins and grabs the base of the tree, and starts shaking it.
Chimera eeps and hangs on with arms and legs while trying to tickle Andromeda's nose with his tail.
Copernicus drums his fingers while waiting for the T'Thar to respond. He gets a weird sense of mourning, then a sense of some relief. Odd.
Andromeda brightens and starts slapping at the moving tail, entranced.
Chimera keeps teasing with his tail, now that Andromeda has stopped shaking the tree.
Jenora says, "Any other suggestions?"
Copernicus drums his fingers some more, "Nope. They're making us wait. They keep this up and I'll go on a ulurian brandy binge just to mess up their home a little."
**We heard that.**
Jenora chuckles. "Probably processing the data. Even at the scale nanotech can work at, analyzing your own system is never a simple problem."
**Preventative, vaccine included in code. Manner of controlling/rejecting invasive destructive program included in last sequence of infective program.**
Copernicus blinks? "The vaccine was included in the last sequence? That doesn't make sense, why would they include a way to prevent alteration when their whole plan was to alter them destructively?"
Jenora says, "Hmm? Makes sense to me. They probably want _CONTROL_, not destruction."
Andromeda, getting impatient, uproots the small tree and shakes it, trying to get Chimera down.
Jenora says, "Shutting off the higher reasoning functions makes someone more predictable and easier to track."
Chimera acks and falls onto Andromeda's back!
**To prevent providing a cure in the same manner as the infection, Chirr. T'Thar in 5 infected hosts are beyond help.**
Copernicus's eyes widen and he growls, "By the first mother's libido."
Jenora says, "What?"
Copernicus swallows, "Remember how you said we could use the transmission technique to change them back? Well, while that last program allows the un infected T'Thar to PREVENT infection, it allows the infected T'Thar to prevent a CURE!"
Andromeda turns around and blinks at Chimera resting on her back, and seems momentarily frozen.
Chimera blinks, then licks Andromeda's nose. Maybe that will confuse her.
Jenora hmmms... "Okay, so we can't use the transmission technique to change them back. What about a higher-powered blast reprogramming approach?"
**Appreciate suggestion, but termination only option in this case.**
Copernicus growls, "They say no go and terminate time. I'm not going to let them kill my sister."
Andromeda blinks, then wraps her arms and wings around Chimera, and snugs him to her chest, giving him a big kiss.
Chimera mmphs, but hugs back as best he can.
Jenora frowns. "Hang on. Terminate the host body, or just the T'Thar inside it? How possible would it be to sterilize the nanites and replace them?"
**Termination of corrupt T'Thar colonies and re seeding is intent. Host has 80% chance of surviving time needed for new colony to reach effective size. To minimize the destruction to host also programmed in, must occur now.**
Copernicus breathes a sigh of relief and relays this information to Jenora.
Andromeda has Chimera all wrapped up in fur and softer parts of her anatomy as she hugs him tightly against her chest and nibbles and licks and kisses him.
Jenora says, "Good. Andromeda will probably take some time to recover... I'll head back now. They have any suggestions for the termination?"
Chimera relaxes. This isn't so bad, and if Andromeda stands still she can't hurt herself or the station.
Jenora steps back outside the station, and tries reversing the changes the globe made, closing the little satellite back up again.
Copernicus is watching a huge bubble shaped blister on his forearm as he waits with a hypoderm and tries not to lose his lunch, "They're...working on it now."
Jenora grabs the globe. "I won't ask."
Copernicus fills the hypo and mutters, just loud enough to be heard over the radio, "Thanks, I don't want to answer."
Jenora flies back to the station at high speed.
As Andromeda continues to cuddle Chimera, Copernicus's voice chimes up over the loudspeaker, "So how are you two doing? We've got a cure coming, but, well, I doubt Andromeda is going to hold still for it."
Chimera mrrphs! "I think she might.."
Copernicus hears Andromeda's rumbling purr over the loudspeaker and chuckles, "I won't ask. I just hope you are right. Luckily, with the forcefields up over the dome area, everything else can withstand a accidental blast from one of her feathers. Just don't let her get away from you, ok Chimera?"
Chimera blinks, face half-buried in fur. "Get away from ME?"
Jenora chuckles, and steps inside the airlock, closing it to cycle it again.
Andromeda continues chewing on Chimera, who is deeply ensconced in the circle of wings, feathers and arms and other things.
Copernicus pads over to the airlock as it finishes it's cycle, and opens the inner door, "You ready to try and give Andromeda her medicine? Chimera's keeping track of her in the low G arboretum.
Jenora says, "Sounds good... yes, I'm ready."
Jenora brushes her self back down, and stops glowing.
Copernicus nods, "Well, supposedly their reprogramming is done, so I should be safe. After this, I'll have to deal with the four on the surface, though I've already got plans for that. Let's go."
Jenora says, "Where on the surface are they? Somewhere far away from the rest of the populace, I hope."
Jenora nods, and follows along.
Copernicus reaches the arboretum door and nods, "Only the four by the slaver's cache. No other Chirr'T'Thar within several hundred miles. Ok, when we go in, I'll reseal the forcefield. We need to get this shot into her main taur body somewhere. And try to keep Chimera safe too. Ready?"
Chimera scritches the bits of Andromeda he can reach to keep her happy (and still).
Jenora nods. "Ready."
Copernicus cuts the force field and closes it quickly behind Jenora as she leaps through. He motions for Jenora to go in front of Andromeda to distract her.
Jenora walks around the side of Andromeda, then in front of her and Chimera...
Andromeda growls threateningly at Jenora, ears laid back as she tucks Chimera even closer against herself.
Jenora places her hands on her hips, and glares at Andromeda.
Chimera's tail is just about the only part of him that's still visible.
Andromeda gets to her feet and snarls at Jenora, wingspurrs popping out.
Chimera eeps quietly, and keeps scritching.
Jenora takes a couple of steps back, and says in a calm, soothing voice, "Coper, are you about ready?"
A hand reaches out from the shrubs behind Andromeda and with a *SSSST* the "cure" is administered to Andromeda rear end. She *YIPES* and drops Chimera, and races away.
Copernicus stands up, "Yep."
Copernicus purrs, "We'd best follow, once it starts working she'll be able to hurt herself pretty easily."
Jenora nods. "She won't have the regenerative abilities anymore."
Jenora turns, and starts running after Andromeda.
Chimera blinks and looks up from the ground. "What happened?"
Copernicus frowns, but nods and races after Andromeda also.
Jenora says, "We'll explain later!"
Chimera blinks after the retreating pair.
Andromeda is running like a scared animal, till she runs up against the force wall and pummels it.
Copernicus sighs, "Jenora, you want to try from the front again?"
Jenora says, "I'll try."
Jenora runs up to the force field, and pounds on it once to try and get Andromeda's attention.
Andromeda turns with frightened eyes and moves to leap at Jenora just as her brother leaps on her from behind and tries to hold her still, gaining a lot of cuts in the process.
Chimera tries to catch up to the others, now that he can hear them scuffling.
Jenora grabs at Andromeda's arms, hanging on to her tightly...
Andromeda suddenly freezes and screams, then flicks her wings. Every feather breaks loose and goes flying in a myriad of directions as she herself sinks to the ground.
Copernicus growls, "Oh, Kitty litter!"
Chimera hits the dirt as soon as he sees the storm of feathers!
Several of the feathers detonate harmlessly against the force fields, either exploding, arcing with electricity, or spraying foam around. One feather does blow up Cere's favorite scratching post tree.
Jenora yeefs, and starts glowing brightly... she dashes around at far faster than normal speed, trying to gather up the feathers before they do too much damage.
All but one of the remaining feathers is neutralized by Jenora. Copernicus whirls and chases it, but can only watch in horror as it detonates against the weakened spot on the clawed bulkhead.
As luck would have it, the door ruptures, and Copernicus, in his rare bouts of inspiration, plugs the hole with whatever's handy.
Copernicus pants, "Jenora, see to Andromeda. I'm ok, even if have my backside exposed to space is not the most dignified thing to do. Chimera, if you could go over to those control panels, I'll tell you how to set up a forcefield to plug this hole."
Jenora nods, and strokes down Andromeda's back where she collapsed...
Chimera gets up and moves towards the nearest panel. He stares at it, then asks, "I push something?"
Andromeda is twitching, and from the palms of her hands, and pads of her feet, a greyish ooze is coming out.
Jenora ews as she looks at the ooze.
Copernicus sighs and spends several minutes explaining to Chimera how to work the control panel, all the while mentally reminding himself to be very thorough in putting up new control lockouts afterwards.
Chimera is good at following directions when they're specific.
Copernicus pads back over to Jenora and his sister after Chimera has put a field over the outside of the hole. His behind is steaming slightly as the ice on it melts. He kneels next to her and ews a bit at the small puddles of ooze.
Copernicus tries to hide his tears as he looks at his sister's shallow breathing. His purr is hard to hear, "Take care kecharra. You'll survive this, I just know it."
Jenora nods, as she snugs Andromeda gently, just being there for the contact.
Chimera asks, "Will she be okay? What happened to her?"
Copernicus puts his hands on Andromeda and lips "re seeding" to Jenora, and then purrs to Chimera, "The collar infected her system. We had to apply a cure."
Jenora nods to Coper.
Jenora turns to Chimera. "The cure has to purge all the damage out of her system. As long as she survives the next few minutes, she should be fine."
Chimera says, "So why did her mind go though? Was that artificial?"
Copernicus purrs, "Near as I can tell, the infection was targeting her higher brain functions. I think the damage is not that bad luckily."
Jenora says, "Hopefully little permanent damage, anyway."
Chimera says, "Do you even have medical procedures for something like this?"
Copernicus nods and purrs, "Well, that's all we can do for right now. I'll get a grav cart and we'll take her to the infirmary. Then Jenora and I have some work to do down on Nexus. Not exactly Chimera, but we can help give her own systems a fighting chan ce."
Jenora says, "Unfortunately, 'something like this' has never happened before."
Copernicus growls, "And with luck, never will again."
Jenora says, "Amen."
After carefully placing Andromeda in the medical center, Copernicus makes a quick trip around the station and touches each Chirr'T'Thar to pass the vaccine around, then goes down with Jenora. Not wanting to deal with 4 male Chirr'T'Thar at once, Copernicus has an overpressure bomb detonated above their heads. When the cloud of highly volatile fuel and oxygen explodes, it slams the affected Chirr'T'Thar into the ground, and unconscious. Jenora and Copernicus have no problem inoculating them all and hauling them on board the shuttle, though Jenora has to fly back to the mining station. Copernicus just slumps on a couch and stares all the way back. But at least the crisis is over. Hopefully.