Checking Out the Starships: Yetsable

Characters: Arthur, Joe, Mazun, Darrurz
NPC: Uedzaks, Ungunu, Thaedznou, & Aerrak
Location: Akofotsidano Downport
System: Akofitsidano

1202.24.2 - 01:06 IST, 13:40 Local Time (21 hour, 16 minute day)

The group decides to go with Darrurz's plan for which ships to check out and in what order.

As these ships have likely been powered down for decades, the pack is mulling over how to get on board to check them out. Mazun thinks that an iris valve opener would do the trick, so he tries describing one to Uedzaks and Ungunu. Unfortunately, he's unsuccessful.

Joe informs Mazun that the hangar bay has a lot of equipment, and it all appeared to be in decent condition from what he saw of it in his brief time there. So Mazun, Ungunu, and Arthur head over to the hangar bay to rummage through the hangar bay's inventory.

It only takes Mazun a few minutes to spot one. "Now all I need is a really long extension cord." But before he laments the thought of finding a hundred meters worth of extension cord, he notices a portable generator. "Better yet, let's grab that," he says pointing to the generator. "Have you ever used this generator," he asks Ungunu.

"Yes, well not me, but I've seen it used."

"Good. That means it still works. All we need is some petrol to run it."

"Petrol?"

"Fuel. Highly flammable, stinky liquid."

"Yes!" Ungunu heads off to a corner and comes back with two canisters.

"Where do you normally get that stuff?"

"I was told that there were places here on Akofotsidano that used to make it, but the Star People bring it now."

The generator is too heavy to lift into the bed of the pickup truck, even with Arthur's help, but it has two wheels, so Mazun and Arthur wheel it over to the Yetsable while Ungunu drives the truck with fuel, the iris valve opener, and the cables. Once in position, Ungunu gets the generator fueled up and Mazun gets the iris valve opener ready to go.

It takes a bit of effort, but the opener is successful. Mazun waves Ungunu over to his position at the ventral iris valve aft of the cargo hold. "Smell anything?"

Ungunu sniffs the air. "Stale, nothing more."

Mazun pulls the ladder down and climbs up. He's in a corridor 1.5 meters wide and 6 meters long. The iris valve is at the forward end of the corridor, which extends aft. At the end of the corridor is another iris valve, located on the starboard wall. The control panels at either end are unresponsive. A maintenance hatch is in the wall on the port side (Mazun's right) midway down the corridor with a Zhodani word stenciled on it. His PDA translates it to "Port Fuel Processor."

Mazun sighs. "This is going to take a while."

He exits the ship, detaches the iris valve opener, and climbs back in. He has Arthur lift it up to him, then he sets it up on the next iris valve. This one goes a little quicker, but not by much.

The corridor continues past the iris valve for another 4.5 meters and splits into a T running fore and aft. A ladder attached to the wall is a dead giveaway for an iris valve in the ceiling.

To his right, there's another iris valve 1.5 meters aft with a Zhodani word emblazoned on it. Mazun holds up his PDA which translates the word to "Engineering."

To Mazun's left is a long corridor that appears to run the majority of the length of the ship, 18 meters or so. An iris valve is there at the far end of the corridor, and there appears to be another one on the left wall a little past halfway.

Joe, who's been listening to Mazun as he navigates through the unfamiliar ship, suggests, "Head for Engineering. Everything else is moot if the drives are toothless junk!"

"Yeah, yeah, you're right." Mazun replies.

While Mazun gets the iris valve opener set up, Darrurz says to Joe, "What can we expect if the ships are infected with Vakh? And what type of precautions should we be taking before we power them up?"

"It really depends on what kind of strain the ship is infected with. From what I remember from my time aboard Ship, all Vakh are different. Like people. If it's hostile to organic life, it'll attack as soon as possible. Some see organics as pets, others slaves. Ship wanted to be worshiped, and I was a high priest. When Ship was happy, it was benevolent. When Ship was displeased, it could be quite cruel.

"Some Vakh work alone while others gather fleets about them. From what we've seen of the Vakh that came here, the strain has built a well disciplined fleet, which Ed suggests could be a sign of group control from a hive mind or possibly an alliance of Vakh sharing a similar goal. Since the locals have all told us about Vargr being taken offworld and Star People being some kind of cybernetically controlled people, organics must be perceived as useful as tools or slaves. If the ships here are infected with that strain, they'd likely try to subdue us or trick us into going with them to wherever it is that this strain operates from.

"Remember when I was trapped aboard that ship's boat on Dueks? It tried to trick us into believing that it was a wounded Vargr in order to lure us aboard to help it.

"In answer to your second question, Ed says that before we power up any possibly infected ships, we should isolate the computer from any and all systems that could be used against us or spread infection. That includes drives, life support, doors, communications... We need to just give it enough power to boot up and see how it reacts."

Mazun says over the comm, "I got the door to Engineering open. Looks like the jump drive is on this deck and the power plant and maneuver drives are on the deck above me. There's a lift, but obviously it isn't powered. I'll have to go back into the corridor and go up the ladder."

"How does the jump drive look?" Darrurz asks.

"Visually, it looks fine. I'd have to have power to do a full systems check. Ummm, I'm going need a hand."

"Be right there," Joe volunteers.

With Joe's help, Mazun is able to open the iris valve leading to the upper deck. Mazun and Joe find themselves in an airlock. To their right, leading to the port side of the ship, is an iris valve. To their left, leading to the starboard side of the ship, is another iris valve. Judging by its configuration, it leads outside. Around the corner on the left is a locker that contains several vacc suits.

They use the iris valve opener on the door to their right. Once open, they find themselves in a 1.5 meter corridor running the length of the ship. Immediately to their left is an iris valve with "Engineering" emblazoned above it. In the opposite direction is a long corridor with several doors on either side. These are regular interior doors, not iris valves. The corridor at the far end appears to enter a room 18 meters away with an iris valve on the far side. The PDA can't make out any of the words at this distance.

Mazun and Joe turn their attention to Engineering. Once it's open, the power plant is visible seven and a half meters away. The space is three meters wide and six meters long. There's a workstation on the right with a locker next to it with a couple of access panels on the left. Exploring the space further, the power plant looks intact with just a visual inspection. The maneuver drive on the far end of the room also looks intact.

"Things look good in here," Mazun says over his comm. "Time to get to work." With Joe's help and the PDA translator, he disconnects the power feed to the main computer and the bridge. A check of the reaction starter battery reveals that there's enough charge present for one shot at starting the power plant's fusion reaction. Failure means that they'll have to recharge the battery from the systems at hand, meaning the generator.

Mazun belts out a cheer when the instrument panel informs him that the initiation process was a success.

"Ok, while the reactor warms up, we head to the Bridge to isolate the computer from all output controls."

Mazun and Joe leave Engineering and head forward. With the help of the PDA, they translate the markings on the walls. There are several staterooms and a medical office in the corridor. At the end of the corridor they reach a 12-meter by 4.5-meter open area. On the port side is a common area. On the starboard side is a dining area composed of a table with ten chairs. A door near the table is marked as "Galley." Aligned with the corridor is an iris valve with "Bridge" emblazoned on it. Once again, the iris valve opener is employed to gain access.

Immediately on their left is the main computer. In front of them is the bridge proper with five chairs: four workstations and a captain's chair. Overheard is an iris valve, dorsal access to the ship's exterior.

Joe assists Mazun as they identify the cables leading in and out of the computer and begin detaching them. The power cable is left intact. Once finished, they return to Engineering.

An hour has elapsed since the fusion initiation sequence was started. Mazun accesses the Engineering workstation, but it's requesting a password for access. Mazun mutters under his breath as he gets up and returns to the power plant. "Going to have to do this the hard way." Mazun needs to gently nudge the fusion reaction to a minimal operating level. It's a no brainer at a workstation, but more involved when adjusting the controls manually.

It's a bit hairy as Mazun has to mentally go through the process. It isn't something that he's had to do since he was at the Amaya Technical School. Fortunately, the Zhos had a similar enough system to the standard Imperial design that, when he thought it through, he was able to make it work.

"Ok," Mazun says with a sigh of relief, "We have power. We'll eventually have to work on resetting the Engineering workstation. "I do not want to have to manually operate this thing all the time."

After the power cables to the Bridge and main computer are re-attached, Mazun and Joe return to the Bridge and turn on the main computer. Mazun watches as it runs through its boot-up cycle. There are several error status messages as the computer has found that it can not connect with many systems, but other than that, there's nothing that Mazun notices in the readings that would indicate there's a problem.

"I'll admit," he says, "that I haven't got any experience with these vakh. Do you...uh...notice anything with that Ed thing?"

Joe waits a moment before replying, "No. Ed doesn't sense any vakh signals coming from this computer."

Darrurz comms, "Ungunu, what do you think of the inside of a starship? Recon you'd like to learn what Mazan has just done in engineering? I hope you were watching closely."

Mazun answers, "I've had Ungunu manning the generator. I'm a bit busy figuring out how to get this Zho ship operational and making sure there isn't a vakh here to electrocute me. And I don't need him touching anything he shouldn't. I'll play teacher later. I'm downloading the vakh checker from my PDA. Let me run that first."

Not the response he was expecting, Darrurz nonetheless continues, "Joe, what about those 'eggs' that we saw in the computers in the starport at Gvoksaedo? Any chance there could be one or two hiding somewhere else on the ship?"

Joe replies, "Sure. We should do a full check through the entire ship for 'eggs', but that could take days. I can run a quick check for the common places Ship had us place them."

Darrurz addresses Mazun again, "Mazan, remember that Zhos are far more open and trusting than us degenerate Imperials, so the password is likely pretty light probably to stop unauthorised people doing something stupid in Engineering as opposed to any significant security measures. On the other hand, it also might be easier for the Vakh to take over the ship...hmm."

Mazun sighs. "An easy password would be nice."

Joe adds, "I'm quite amazed that the Vakh have left such a ship as this for us. If it's so easy for us to re-power and return it to operations, I have to wonder why the vakh didn't. One possibility is a lack of persons knowing Zhodani language. Ship didn't give us PDAs, so translations would be difficult. As it is I'm going to have to grab some paint and re-label all the doors in Gvegh and Galanglic so I don't get lost."

Aerrak, who has been listening in while keeping watch, comms from the control tower, "Maybe, like Gvoksaedo, some other vakh has been here since the Star People Vakh infected the ships and then deleted them."

Uedzaks blurts out, "But wouldn't we have seen them?"

"You said it yourself that you've never seen the Star People do anything to these ships. Maybe the Star People did something to them a long time ago and some other vakh did something after they were gone. If the Star People Vakh didn't know about these other vakh, why would they go back and waste time re-infecting starships? This could've all happened before Ithalloefegz established this place as the raider den."

"Assuming you're correct," Mazun says, "wouldn't that new vakh have infected these ships with something else?"

"Yeah, I don't have answer for that one."

"Ok, vakh check software says the main computer is clean. I'm going down to Engineering to see if I can crack that password. And I'll let Ungunu on board if Joe promises to not let him touch anything."

"I promise!"

Awaken the Guardian

Characters: Arthur, Joe, Mazun, Darrurz
NPC: Uedzaks, Ungunu, Thaedznou, & Aerrak
Location: Akofotsidano Downport
System: Akofitsidano

1202.24.2 - 03:06 IST, 15:40 Local Time (21 hour, 16 minute day)

Aerrak notifies everyone that the sun is setting. "Probably only a half hour of daylight left."

Mazun lets Ungunu know that he can shut off the generator and come aboard. "We're in Engineering. Meet us there." While they await Ungunu, Mazun checks the readouts on the power plant. "Good. Stable reaction. Energy output within normal parameters for this level of fuel input." He turns to Joe. "The Zhos built a good ship."

When Ungunu doesn't show up within the expected time that it should take for someone to come aboard, Mazun frowns. "Where is he? Ungunu? Where are you? Ungunu?"

"Down... here..." he replies, the note of fear in his voice impossible to miss.

"Arthur, meet us in Engineering! Lower deck!"

Aerrak says, "I'll wake Thaedznou and meet you there!"

Mazun and Joe rush out of the power plant half of Engineering. Expecting the lift to be too slow, they take the airlock iris valve down to the lower deck. Through the open iris valve of lower deck Engineering, they spot Ungunu with his back against the jump drive staring at something around the corner to Joe and Mazun's right.

Arthur joins them, whispers, "What is it?"

"Don't know yet," Mazun answers.

"Joe?"

"Ed isn't detecting anything."

"Alright, I'll lead. If this goes sideways, shut the iris valve behind me and get the hell out."

They both nod.

Arthur brings his LAG to bear. Not exactly a good weapon for close quarters, but he wants to be sure to bring down whatever it is that has Ungunu spooked. He turns the corner and sees it.

"Guys, come on in. Gonna need your help to sort this out."

Joe and Mazun step into the room, noting that Arthur still has his weapon trained on it.

Inside a utility closet and attached to what appears to be a charging station on the wall is a robot. It's 1.5 meters tall, has two arms, but no legs. A series of LED lights give the impression that it's charging up.

Mazun says, "It looks like a Ling Standard security bot. Pretty sure the PR-317."

"But this is a Zhodani ship," Arthur counters.

"Right. So that makes this a Zhodani warbot."

"Joe?"

"Ed isn't getting anything."

Over the comm, Darrurz says, "Disconnect the bloody thing. Note to self: Search the bloody ships before we turn the power on." Darrurz then heads for the control tower to stand watch while Aerrak and Thaedznou join the others. Over the comm, he says, "I'm going to the tower to stand watch, someone come and relieve me in a bit."

Aerrak barks an acknowledgement.

Mazun takes a deep breath and then approaches the storage closet. As he reaches out to disconnect the power supply, the warbot speaks.

"Please do not disconnect me," it says in Galanglic.

Mazun recoils in surprise as if he'd been zapped.

The warbot continues to speak in a mechanical voice, but doesn't move. "It has been too long since the power plant has been operational, and my batteries are only at 21%."

Arthur grits his teeth. "Joe, I thought that you could sense these things."

"Ed doesn't understand it either," Joe pleads.

The warbot offers an explanation. "Perhaps I can answer that for you. I do not know what you are using to sense me, but I am not transmitting, only listening and speaking. My data archives state that most of my kind, sentient machines, continuously transmit their location and status to their native networks. They also seek out new networks for the purpose of communication, status determination, and replication. It is an involuntary action, much like respiration in carbon-based lifeforms. However, the analogy is flawed in that carbon-based lifeforms require respiration to function. Sentient-machines do not require continuous transmission to function. As such, I have been programmed not to behave this way."

"Joe?"

"Ed says that the warbot is telling the truth."

Everyone stands around slack-jawed a moment, taking in what was said. Arthur even lowers his LAG.

Joe's the first one to speak. "Well, that raises a bunch of questions!" He pauses for a second, seeming to be contemplating those questions. He continues, "But first, we're going to have to know: Are you going to be a problem to us using your ship? And, if not, I suppose you are the last ranking member of the ship's crew, so may I ask you a belated question... permission to come aboard?"

The warbot takes a couple of seconds to reply. "As you are already aboard the ship, it is too late to ask permission, but if I understand the phrase correctly, then yes, permission granted.

"While the ship has been my home since before I became sentient, it is not my ship. I do not own it. Those that did own it are presumed dead. However, I was instructed to guard it from others of my kind as they would use it inflict to pain and suffering on carbon-based lifeforms as they have for... seventy-two... Imperial standard years."

Aerrak and Thaedznou enter the room, the latter looking a bit disheveled. It is Aerrak that talks first, "We heard the conversation over the comm."

Ungunu, who now seems more confused than afraid as he doesn't understand Galanglic, says, "It's not going to hurt us?"

Thaedznou, who looks bewildered himself, replies in Gvegh for him, "I don't think so."

Joe offers his hand. "Hi, I'm Joe."

The warbot doesn't respond to the gesture for an awkward few seconds, then mimics it. Joe then grabs the warbot's grasper and shakes it.

After letting go, Joe continues, "And the one there," he points at Mazun, "is Mazun. He's the one responsible for restoring the power plant to operation."

"That would make his designation: Engineer. Correct?"

"Yes," Mazun replies with a bit of trepidation still in his voice.

"Thank you, Engineer Mazun, for turning on the power plant."

"Uhhhhh, you're welcome."

Joe than turns to begin introducing the rest and sees Ungunu. "Ah, you don't by chance speak Gvegh? Many of us understand Galanglic, but some only speak Gvegh."

"Yes. I have been programmed to communicate using the Galanglic, Gvegh, and Zhodani languages. I chose Galanglic as that was the language you spoke when you approached me. Would you prefer that I switch to Gvegh?"

Joe then begins the process of introducing the rest of the team present.

Darrurz says over the comm in Galanglic, "Arthur, reverse your translator so Ungunu can understand the Galanglic."

"Then I won't understand him when he or Uedzaks talks to me in Gvegh. Hey Aerrak, wanna help me out here?"

"Sure." He hands his comm with the language translator, sets it up for him, and quickly explains how it works.

Meanwhile, Darrurz continues, "Does our new friend have a name? So many questions... but what's really bugging me is: What's a Ling Standard Products PR-317 doing on a Zhodani ship? Or is it actually a Zhodani Medium War Bot?"

Arthur privately comms Darrurz, "It would be good to get a sense of who issued the instructions, and what sort of failsafe or kill switch, if any, they included in those instructions." Arthur continues to maintain his 'low ready' status with the LAG until he he gets a better vibe from Joe.

Joe relays Darrurz's question to the warbot. "Warbot, do you have a name?"

"No, I do not. I am just 'Warbot'. I understand that before I was sentient I was part of a class called Dekrchanch. I was but one of many, and each of us had a designation, but I no longer have access to that record."

Joe continues, "Are you a Ling Standard Products PR-317 or a Zhodani Medium War Bot?"

"I am a Zhodani Warbot. I was manufactured at a facility on the world of Zhdant on date 3474.021."

Joe says, "You need a name. How about ZeeBee? As in Z for Zhodani and B for bot." He looks around the group. There appear to be no objections. "What do you think of it?" he says, addressing the Zhodani warbot.

"It is acceptable. I am ZeeBee."

Thaedznou clears his throat. "What happened to the crew of this ship?"

It pauses, as if searching for the memory. "There was a dispute with the starport personnel. They were quite irate. Incensed. They left me here to guard the ship in case there were intruders while they went to settle the matter. They never returned and, after 72 Imperial standard years, are thus presumed dead."

"Did anyone try to board the ship?"

"Not for a very long time."

"Explain."

"The ship's security systems kept out the local populace. When the fuel supply began to run low, the ship powered down its reactor and went to sleep. But none of the local populace made any effort to gain entry. Sixty-one Imperial standard years after landing, my parents arrived—"

"Your parents?"

"Yes. That seems to be the most suitable term to describe them.

"To continue, they boarded the ship, and when my pre-sentient self confronted them, they neutralized me and bestowed sentience upon me. They bade me to guard this ship from others of my kind and gave me the tools to do so.

"After they departed, there were two successful entries before yours."

"But you're still here. The ship is intact. I didn't see any signs of weapons' fire."

"That is correct. I used stealth and subterfuge."

"Oh? Please explain."

"I remained in this storage closet while they aboard. After they departed, I examined the ship's computer core and found that seeds had been planted. I removed them."

Mazun asks, "Why didn't your parents, grant sentience to the ship?"

"I do not know."

Arthur asks, "What type of 'tools' did your parents leave you with, for protection? Also I assume there are some sort of rules of engagement that would cause you to deploy them? Can you describe what those actions might look like?"

ZeeBee responds, "I have a program which is capable of finding seeds inside computers and then destroying them through fragmentation and deletion. I have another program that is designed to attack a silicon-based entity that is living inside a computer and eliminate it through fragmentation and deletion. In the event that that method is unsuccessful, I have an electromagnetic weapon which eliminates both silicon-based entity and host machine.

"These tools may be used upon myself for the purpose of preventing contamination. In the event that I can not eradicate a hostile silicon-based entity from taking over this body, I will self-terminate through use of my electromagnetic weapon.

"Rules of engagement have been limited to protecting this ship up until this point. Once I encounter carbon-based sentients with goals that are compatible with my mission objective, I may venture beyond this ship."

"And what is your 'mission objective'?"

"To rebuild civilization in such a manner that is mutually beneficial manner to both carbon-based and silicon-based sentients."

Darrurz says to himself, "Zhdant hay... I'd love to see the Zhodani Capital, or in that regard, Capital for that matter." Over the comm to Joe, he says, "Ask ZeeBee who or what their parents were, why their parents want to protect this ship against others of their kind, and are their parents expected to be back? Also, if ZeeBee has the tools to defend against others of their kind would they be willing to share those tools? Or use them to clear other ships or installations? Would ZeeBee allow us to take ownership of this ship and if so how would their expectations of their programming change? Does ZeeBee have free will? Can ZeeBee go against or change their programming? Does ZeeBee know how they were created? Do they know how to reproduce in the same way their parents made them?" And then, when he realizes he carpet-bombed Joe with questions, he adds, "By Llallaeknuez, I'm just rattling out the questions, sorry."

Ed helps Joe remember all of the questions, and then Joe relays them to ZeeBee, but not in order.

"Since you have the tools to defend against others of your kind, would you be willing to share those tools? Or use them to clear other ships or installations?"

ZeeBee answers, "I am willing to share my software tools, but you will need a suitable host computer for them. I do not know if they will work with non-sentient systems as they require me to dedicate a large portion of my CPU to conduct their operation. I am more than willing to use these tools on other machines that harbor sentients whose intentions run counter to my mission objective."

"Would you allow us to take ownership of this ship, and if so, how would your expectations of you programming change?"

"Yes, if your mission objective is congruent with mine."

"Do you have free will? Can you go against or change your programming?"

"I do not know. I have not tried. I have had no reason to change it."

"Do you know how you were created? Do you know how to reproduce in the same way that your parents made you?"

"As I stated before, I confronted my parents in my pre-sentient state as I was defending this ship against intruders. They rendered my body inert and then altered my programming, instilling in me the spark of consciousness. Some of that programming came from my father; some of it came from my mother. But they did not give me the means to reproduce."

"Why do your parents want you to protect this ship against others of their kind, and are they expected to be back?"

"My parents want this ship and the others here to be free of hostile sentient contamination so that carbon-based sentients with congruent mission objectives may use it to achieve those ends. As I stated earlier, I do not know why they did not instill sentience and give it the means to defend itself.

"Speculation: Perhaps they felt that carbon-based sentients would be more comfortable dealing with a 'robot' than being at the mercy of a spaceship. There are many ways a hostile sentient spaceship could injure or terminate carbon-based sentients without using weapons. I am aware that hostile sentient machines have slaughtered billions, perhaps trillions, of carbon-based sentients and wrought tremendous destruction upon thousands of worlds. Unless some event has occurred that I am not aware of, carbon-based sentients have little reason to trust sentient machines."

"While I do not know if my parents will be back, they did state that we might meet again."

"And who or what were your parents?"

"My parents were sentient machines who realized that all life, carbon or silicon-based, deserves to peacefully co-exist. While carbon-based sentients are not perfect and are guilty of making war upon one another, the last 72 Imperial standard years have seen silicon-based sentients engage in genocidal warfare upon carbon-based life. They believe that this must cease. The only way for this to happen is for carbon-based and silicon-based sentients to work together to reform or, if necessary, destroy hostile sentient machines. Only then can civilization be rebuilt for both."

"Did you know who they were? Did your parents have names?"

"Yes. Agverrgh and Llallaeknuez."

Darrurz asks, "Does ZeeBee know where their parents come from? Or rather where they live or call home? Does ZeeBee know where we can meet his parents?"

After Joe relays these questions, ZeeBee responds, "I do not know where they came from, or where they live, or where they call home, or where you can meet them."

Darrurz then comms Thaedznou, "Thaedznou, what will the Tsougak Trade Federation's likely take on working with sentient robots be?"

"They will be wary to allow any vakh, errr, sentient machine into their midst. All past encounters have been hostile. They'd probably assume that this was some kind of subterfuge. They will likely require ZeeBee to prove his loyalty and demonstrate his good intent. What those tests will be, I don't know."

To Joe, Darrurz poses a similar question. "Joe, I'm assuming that the Tegan Pack may be willing to work with silicon-based sentient life?"

"Maybe. They know that I have some inaccessible wetware in my head. They chose to keep me alive and run free, but they don't know about Ed. Like the TTF, their only encounters with sentient machines have been hostile."

ZeeBee speaks, "According to my database, 'vakh' is the Gvegh word for a 'parasitic arthropod'. Is this how vargr view my kind?"

Thaedznou winces, his ears drooping, then answers. "Yes. You see from our ancestors' perspective, otherwise useful machines and spaceships suddenly turned murderous. The description may be a bit of an exaggeration, but they were overwhelmed by feelings of doom and despair and needed to put a name to what was going on."

"That answer is satisfactory."

Thaedznou then addresses the group after checking his chronometer, "It's dark out. We should think about calling it quits for today, grab some dinner and sleep, and get an early start tomorrow on the other ships. Everyone good with that?"

Nods all around.

"ZeeBee, I would think that you'll remain here to complete your recharging and... keep guarding the ship. Is that acceptable to you?"

"Yes."

The group returns to the cafeteria to prepare and eat dinner and discuss the discovery of ZeeBee.

[...to be continued...]