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RP [YSS Koun] Mission One: The Haunting Past

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Private comm link between Akahana and Aliset

Hearing that voice, Aliset didn't want to respond, at first. But she was a Navigator. Eyes and ears of the whole fleet. And with the readings she was getting, a Mindy's limited sensor data was not going to keep those crews okay. So she keyed a private comm to Akahana's suit. "We're reading you, Akahana. Please prepare to be linked to the fleet sensor web. You'll have my eyes. On a personal note, I know you don't trust me. Which is why after this chat is over, I'm going to be borrowing our MEGAMI to push objectives by text. Should help filter me out and let you focus."

Akahana's heart skipped a beat.

A few moments passed within the Snowy Neko's perception—a split-second going by in real time as she silently contemplated the Navigator's words. She couldn't deny the assistance Aliset had given to her in linking her to the sensor web, making it so that she didn't feel so isolated from her normal station on the bridge. The latently cynical part of her nature viewed the gesture as a means to an end. Even so, that gave way to the more empathetic, trusting side that won out more often than not.

"Thank you, Kōun-Chui." Akahana answered in a soft, demure tone. From her brief studies on Senti culture, she was keenly aware of how intimate the relationship between a Senti and their ship was. As such, the Snowy Neko knew that it was no small act for Aliset to do that for her, to allow her to feel as she felt and to see as she saw.

Her gratitude was immeasurable, but it failed to carry over the private channel.

"I'll stay in touch." Akahana added. "Have you managed to pinpoint the source of the glitch?"

"We managed to isolate its location, though it looks more and more like a hole where our sensors should penetrate, and they don't. MRI scans are inconclusive, gravimetrics are all over the map. Only thing I can say on it is that it doesn't appear to be moving, and it's encased in a cloud of debris that would be a meatgrinder for power armor units. I'll keep you updated, but I'd really appreciate your help. I'm sending you all the data we have on it. If there's anything you can identify, let me know and I'll push it up the chain." Aliset's voice seemed to carry a small nod, rapid tonal shifts like notes in a song relayed its range, location, and orientation relative to the Koun almost absentmindedly. "By the way, I want to let you know. You're one of the people I want deciding when to remove my implant. You, Alastair, Nix, and the CMO. But there's a separa on Pisces who's going to be doing the surgery. Would you mind holding onto my service knife until then? After what I did, I wouldn't blame you for using it on me. Ultimately, the choice is yours."

"Copy that, I'll keep my CFS barriers active." Akahana said. "My sensors should be able to pinpoint the debris and keep me from the worst of it." The Snowy Neko added, simultaneously calibrating her Mindy's sensors to that exact purpose. Otherwise, Akahana seemed to show little regard for the debris cloud's potential danger, in much the same way as any other Nekovalkyrja.

The Navigator's sudden, unexpected tonal shifts initially confused Akahana. However, it took only a split-second for her digital mind to recall its meaning from the Senti cultural brief, then another to begin deciphering it, her skills as an Analyst playing well into the task. A half-second later, Akahana transmitted the exact coordinates back to Aliset in order to verify her translation, then she aligned herself in a course towards the debris field.

Then suddenly, Akahana stopped. More than a few seconds passed, before she spoke again.

"Your service knife? Is that...burial steel?"

"Those coordinates are correct. Sorry. Yamataigo isn't my first, or even fourth language." A small sigh slipped over the comm link, going silent until Akahana's last question. "It is. Made for me about twenty years ago when I joined the Civil Service as a postage pilot... Not long after my aunt died. This isn't an offer. I'm just lending it to you because I don't deserve to be carrying it, and I want you to decide when I'm worthy of it. If I wanted to marry you, I'd offer you something else. Something you think is normal about you, but is precious to me. That's why my service knife was last in the care of Levente Barna. One of my husbands. You can parse the meaning from that."

Another pause.

"I'm sorry Chui, but unless you order me to take it, then I can't accept." Akahana said. "I don't trust myself with the responsibility." The Snowy Neko continued, her voice going faint as a sense of disquiet came over her.

"It's not just a knife." Akahana emphasized, her voice rising in pitch, though it went without saying that Aliset was far more aware of that fact than she was.

"I trust your judgement. Be safe out there, okay? You got this, and we got a whole ship ready to welcome you home. Congrats on your first field mission with the Kōun. If you need anything, this channel will stay open, but I'm going mute."

Beneath the unreadable mask of her Mindy's helmet, Akahana's features went beet red, having very nearly swallowed what she had intended to say next.

"Wait!" The Snowy Neko piped up, before hesitating once more, her mind stormy with doubt. Nevertheless, she pressed on. "If you really want me to take it, then..." A deep breath passed.

"I'll accept it."

"I just said I'm muting myself, not that I was going away," a small chuckle slipped through, before her voice grew serious, though still warm and kind. "Tell me that when you get back. We'll split a meganut over it, okay? Do we even have any on board? Aah... We'll figure something out."

Aliset's side of the line went dead, even though the connection still read active.

"I will, Chui." Akahana resolved. With a deep breath, her features returned to their normal alabaster color and a moment later, the Snowy Neko set off towards Aliset's coordinates.
"I'm recalibrating as fast as I can to compensate. The technician's assistance is a significant positive factor, and is much appreciated." Her gaze darting quickly among volumetric displays, even as she mentally interfaced with as many as SPINE could handle until the channel was saturated, Sayako's fingers moved even faster, nearly as fast as her mental commands, until they were nearly a blur with precision at an unthinkable speed. The chaotic, multicolored blinking, chasing, and strobing around her neck exposed the underlying truth of her effort belied by the neutral serenity of her expression.

"AH! I got it!" The lights went dark before a sudden, steady bright white all at once, then sank into a self-satisifed, pale-aqua "breathing" pulse with a clockwise science green and white chaser. "A means to differentiate Vasutara and Zesuaium based on frequency-excitement response resonance, since they're gravimetrically identical. Isomer differences in the origin materials give make the material resonate in opposite phases when excited. When 'listening' to all of them after a semidirectional pulse, their opposed phasing cancels one another out, up until the point one mass of Zesuaim or Vasutara 'wins,' by mass within the focus of the pule, and that tells us which type we're pointing the sensor at, and how much of it by how 'loudly' it wins! It was so simple!"
Alastair sat back in his chair and allowed the crew to do their thing. He enjoyed hearing how the crew was working to over come the challenge of them flying blind in this mess of trash. The information was coming through the panel on his chair. It seemed what you'd expect to find however there was something off. The sensors were indicating a third signature in addition to finding zesuaim and vasutara. It almost had an mechanical organic signature. Then the ship indicated that it was receiving signal back. Something was now searching in return. "Aliset, Sayako and Saga I don't wish to alarm you but whatever you did has tipped whatever is out there to our presence. How about doing something to counter this?"

He let a few moments go by while giving time to the crew to ask questions or just jump right to work. He then reached out to Akahana. "Clearly whatever is out there is Star Army, however something seems off. Maybe it is just a busted up ship with just enough life to signal us back. Either way it has not found us and I leave the decision up to you if you wish to hang back or push forward."

Alastair made a log in his notes that they may have found a working vessel or at least something with some life left in it.
Debris Field
Approaching the Glitch Anomaly

Akahana sighed. She was an Analyst doing the job of a Fleet Scout.

“I’m going to investigate the source of the glitch using Kōun-Chui’s coordinates, Shosa.” Akahana answered quickly. “I’ll stay in touch until then.” She added.

While her Mindy wasn’t fully optimized for stealth, it had elusive capabilities which Akahana knew how to operate by instinct. Accordingly, the Snowy Neko turned off her aether generator and switched to battery power. Then, she set the scalar fields to their “transparent” mode, which would simulate photons and other sensor pulses passing through what might seem to be empty space. However, she eschewed full dimensional stealth as a means to save power. Finally, she dampened her active scanners, to avoid revealing her location.

However there was still one last thing.

“I’m closing in on the coordinates. Going dark on comms, but I’ll ping if needed. See you on the other side.”
The assumption that the sensor glitch was coming from an issue with the Kōun’s systems could be safely ruled out, or at least shelved. A notification popped up on one of Saga’s displays. Her diagnostic scan had concluded and all systems were green. Something weird was out there, and she didn’t think it had intended to be found.

“Sir,” she said, “If they needed help, they could keep looping a tap code for SOS. Hell, you could do that with running lights. Whatever's out there, I don’t think it wanted to be found. I’ll keep trying to see if the pattern means something.”

She sat back at her console, scratching at her nicotine patch, and tried to organize her thoughts. Something out there is using Star Army equipment or at least equipment that was Star Army’s. It doesn’t seem too keen on guests. It was currently scanning the Kōun as well.

Another notification popped up, breaking into her mental list. The MEGAMI was having trouble identifying any potential cypher being used. “This is weird,” Saga spoke up again, “I’m getting about an 80% pattern match with some common military codes, but the content is all fucked.” Chewing her thumbnail in thought, she continued, “I’ve got a few thoughts, but I think we might be dealing with Star Army hardware and a non-Army crew. My guess is as good as any as to how or why.”
It seemed that whatever the issue was, it was something outside of the control of the ship's systems. Haruka pulled herself back together, pretty much literally, Haruka's various sprites blinked out of existence after giving a wink and a wave. She materialised on the Bridge, one hand on the back of Alastair's chair as the holo-Neko stared out of the viewscreen. "I can't seem to trace anything rogue internally, Captain." Haruka muttered in her usual noncommittal tone, still simultaneously playing Frogger in the cargo bay while she looked for more to do. The fluffy black ears twitched to and fro as she felt like she could be doing more, even though her MOS would probably still have her chilling below decks if they were going by the book.
Debris Field
Approaching the Glitch Anomaly

Akahana approached the area and it became very clear that something wasn't right. The ships off in the distance where a set of three Nozomi-class Scout ships of star army make. The debris field was littered with these ships so it would be expected to find them. However, they were moving and seemed to be at some level of operations. As Akahana approached, a large piece of hull collided near by. A short moment later a large explosion triggered. The three ships paused, more than likely doing a sensor sweep. Akahana reacted quickly to duck behind cover to avoid detection. After a moment the three ships continued working. It looked as if the ships were harvesting material from the ships near by. Even their ships looked as if part of it had been repaired. These sections had an almost living look to them.

Back on the Koun

Alastair was looking over the report from Saga regarding what she had found. With the help of Haruka they seemed to have ruled out that this was coming from within the Koun. This was good to know the ship was performing as expected though did not really tell the story as to what they were seeing. The signal was for sure Yamatai but it had an extra machine like code embedded within. Alastair then got a priory alert from Akahana. He put her visuals up on screen. "Welp, looks like Saga nailed it. We got ourselves some ships which shouldn't be here." Alastair then stood, "please put the ship to condition one. So far it seems we have not been noticed." Saga would then notice that the ship system was being hacked from an outside force. It was doing a very good job of breaking down firewalls. Saga reacted quickly and was able to head off the hack. As far as she could tell, they did not succeed so would not know the ship location.

As the crew went to battle stations. The debris field cleared, giving a brief image coming from Akahana. Past the three ships was yet many more ships and one Super Eikan-class Heavy Cruiser. The ship was badly damaged but they could see many parts of it were being repaired. It also had an almost alive look to the newly constructed parts of the ship. Alastair knew very well that his ship would have a very hard fight against a Super Eikan even if damaged. "I sure hope that ship isn't working else we will have ourselves trouble. Team, I have no doubt we will need to investigate this ship to confirm friend or foe." Alastair then flipped up the comms on his chair and sent a message to the salvage fleet to avoid this area.
Saga was already at her battle station, and already exchanging proverbial fire with the enemy. Notifications from the MEGAMI popped up on her screen detailing breach attempts and automated responses. Her first instinct was to simply pull the plug, but no, too many ship’s systems required the MEGAMI active. A space battle while the fire control system was down wouldn't end well for any of them. Her second instinct was to completely drop off of all networks and air gap the ship, but that would leave Akahana’s team blind and mute. Instead she began black holing, identifying the attacker’s IP packets and droping them.

She’d bought some time. How much? Unknown. Time to make the most of it. E-War systems showed nothing lazing the Kōun and none of the breaches had revealed their telemetry data.

It was her turn.
First: have the MEGAMI establish a series of honeypots. The cyber equivalent of a “Please Enter” sign over a trash compactor.

A second wave of hacking attempts came.

The three scout ships appearing on her screens saved her from the need to back track the hack. If she recalled correctly, those Nozomis might be nearly as old as her. It was time to find out if the current operators were keeping the up to date on MEGAMI patches.

While the intruder flailed around in the honeypot, she queried the Kōun’s MEGAMI for a list patched MEGAMI vulnerabilities from the years those ships operated. Her system outlined a list of potential exploits. She began to insert remote mimics into her honey pot utilizing the long since patched exploits. It was time to make her entrance. If she failed to gain control, she could always pull out the DoS hammer.

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After Alastair called for battle stations, the ship started to glitch. It was something only the most seasoned would notice, the slight difference in how the ship was operating. This was an indication that something was off. "Haruka, can you give me a report on what is going on. I feel something isn't right." He waiting but did not hear back. He knew something was for sure wrong. "Saga, I know you promised not to hack the Koun...well, your going to have to go back on your word..."

Saga would see all her tools alert red, a full system breach was underway. It would seem while the scan was unsuccessful in giving away position, it had not stopped it from trying to burrow deeper into the ship. It was now a race against time. In cyber space, Haruka would find herself restrained against a large center tree. This was a fail safe to bind the core to the heart of the ship. An indication of how serious this was given the protocol which had been activated. Off in the distance, a large machine monster was fighting its way towards Haruka.
"Mapping's not responding, Nav is down!" Aliset called out, cursing in rapid fire Shuristan as some part of her thrashed to feel the systems and go into dead stick control. "Helm, I need--"

"Helm, no response, ma'am!"

Another sharp, bladed curse in the ancient language of music and wrath lanced across the Zesu deck plating as though trying to leave deep scratches like claw marks. "Captain, I can still reclaim control of this ship, I need you to disable my psionic limiter. MEGAMI, please disable the bridge PSC the instant you detect my psionic signature. Tactical, what are you reading?"
Debris Field
Approaching the Glitch Anomaly

“Reporting, three Nozomi-class Scouts and a Super Eikan.” Akahana said softly, deciding to open comms back up with the Kōun. As an Analyst, she could identify ship classes and other types of military hardware within a heartbeat, even if given only a vague, blurred silhouette to work with. It was one of the core skills she was trained in, which she had spent many hours perfecting. Accordingly, it didn’t take her long to realize that something was off about these particular vessels, as her trained eyes registered the aberrations along their hulls.

“Also, identifying four Erebus-class missile frigates and one Kestrire’alis-class recon vessel, but there’s more out there. Transmitting feed now.” She continued. “I believe they’re doing a sensor sweep, but something is…strange about these ships. I don’t think the original crews are in control of these vessels.” She continued.

“It’s like…they’re living, but…dead.” The Snowy Neko whispered, her voice carrying an ominous note to it.
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Nix would be be maintaining his duties as a tactical officers when the hacking began, When Aliset began asking for her psionics to be unblocked he swore as his eyes glew a bit. looking to one of the mp's Nix stated. "maintain your patrols Ill be right back!" heading to Alisets location he was raising his psionic sigiture to boost hers past her implant. <Alright Allie hope this helps for now I have to remain on patrols so that we dont get boarded. but Ill remain closebye until the captain turns that thing in you off.> He stated telepathically.
The scrawny marine chewed her thumbnail for a moment before swearing, loudly. She strapped herself into her crash couch and popped open a small panel on her palm revealing the end of a high-speed two way data link cable. With a yank, she pulled the cable free and plugged herself into her consol.

“If I start puking somebody turn me on my side,” she snapped before her eyes rolled into the back of her head as the Claymere Cybernetics micro computer in her brain made direct contact with the MEGAMI. Via the micro computer and in conjunction with her brain spider, she managed to, if not upload herself in true infomorph fashion, project a version of her consciousness into the system. Still slower than a true infomorph, but faster and more responsive than if she’d used manual controles, the bundle of information that was Saga’s avatar flitted through the ship’s systems.

She had three tasks: 1) find Haruka, 2) get control back to Nav, 3) figure out what piece of malicious code was trying to fuck the Kōun and kill it.

Step two was the easiest. The Kōun’s navigation software was corrupted beyond recognition. Before the corruption could spread too far, she simply purged the most recent iteration and reverted to the previous backup. She flashed a message on the XO’s console: 15 sec till reboot

Whatever had taken Nav offline, has still here, moving through her systems fucking up her ship. She gave chase, a tall armored form seemingly flowing through a stream of corrupted data. The MEGAMI fought valiantly to close its gaping wounds, but as long as the malicious code was in the system, the corruption continued to push outwards.

The trail eventually led her to a dense information node. There, she found a grotesque mass of malware devouring its way towards the nexus tree and a restrained Haruka. The attacker, some sort of Direct-Propagation Worm though Direct-Propagation Wyrm seemed more apt, recognized her presence and let out screech of corrupted digital noise:
EXPORT_SYMBOL(groups_free); /* export the group_info to a user-space array */ static int groups_to_user(gid_t __user *grouplist, const struct group_info *group_info) { int i; unsigned int count = group_info->ngroups; for (i = 0; i < group_info->nblocks; i++) { unsigned int cp_count = min(NGROUPS_PER_BLOCK, count); unsigned int len = cp_count * sizeof(*grouplist); if (copy_to_user(grouplist, group_info->blocks[i], len)) return -EFAULT; grouplist += NGROUPS_PER_BLOCK; count -= cp_count; }


Alastair waited in his chair with a smirk on his face. It was fun watching his crew panic, react and come to terms with the situation they found themselves in. He knew instantly something was off and looked forward to see his crew in action. After a few moments systems returned back to normal. "Good work," Alastair types into his comms to Saga. He had seen her deep dive into the system when the glitch started. Between her quick actions and the firmware upgrade they got the system back up and running, at least for the time being.

Alastair then stood from his chair and start to pace. "Crew, no need to panic, though I picture we only have 15 minutes to deal with the enemy hacking before this ship is taken over. Granted if Saga wins that will be another story." Alastair walked over to a nearby console and then a timer come up. "Aliset, hold back your abilities for now, we do not wish to let the enemy know every trump card that we have." He then walked over to tactical and pulled up data on the ships around them. "These are small fry, nothing we can not handle. Take evasive action and see about blowing up those ships."

At that very instant the Koun was hit with weapons from the incoming Scouts. The other ships for the time being seemed to completely ignore the Koun and continue harvesting parts. Alastair looked over towards Kamiko. "Go suit up to help give us cover fire. They might be small ships but should things go sideways be good to not have all our firepower trapped on the Koun."

In cyberspace things did not seem all that bad. Granted the monster off in the distance breaking countermeasures would be something worth being concerned about. Saga would have to come up with a way to purge the hack but not destroy the system in the process. Her actions may have dire consequences on the outside world. Haruka had since been released but was still tethered to the tree. She would at least be able to assist Saga in this state.
Aliset's hands waved in the air once as a burning sensation snapped across her neck, a blister forming on her neck to ooze blood as the limiter module exploded under Nix's psionic surge. "Understood, sir! I'm getting a response on Nav, updating,..."

Nix, you're an angel in machine flesh, but could you please wait for the Captain's authorization before blowing my limiter?

She breathed a sigh as the holograms clicked up around her. "Navigation online, Near field sensors online... Designating targets, tactical, you have point defense online? I'm bearing our back."

The nanite clouds swarmed around her hands as she brought them together, sitting back in her chair as the power surged, resonating off of Nix's signal booste to bring the feeling back to her fingertips, almost like stretching back out in her body. The control sticks formed in the standard Shuristan style, handguards forming, switches ready to be tapped by a movement of her fingers or the touch of her wrist, each individual control a mere slight movement of her hands away. With a slight twist of those hands, she kicked over the maneuvering thrusters, focusing Koun's heavily armored back to the shots and hoping the shields held.

She let herself spread through the ship, feeling the life, feeling the hemosynthetic system as she fought her psionic signature down. She knew how big the ship was, knew where she was in relation to center, knew where the various pieces of Nic's burial steel she had hidden across access panels and vents were. She could use that to tell relative position, angle, and G force. She could feel those pieces of steel, resonating in the hull. Like Koun herself started to sing.

Then she felt it. Just a brief touch on her mind.

"Alright, I have control, helm, I could use your help with gross maneuvers, I have fine. Also, Captain... Slight problem with hiding my psionics... My limiter just blew. If it doesn't know I'm here already, it will shortly."
Nix sighed before responding telepathically. "Sorry Ali, I have someone else managing that unfortunately I got to make sure the safety of your GF is good in case we get boarded. Ill keep you updated." Nix stated as he began sprinting down the hall thankful for being what he is he can sprint full tilt with no issue. wondering where the Mp was caused Nix to swear under his breath before finding a jack and plugging into the ship to use the broadsides. Using the point defenses used a lot of processing power but still allowed him to send Ali a text to her screen.

<Slight problem due to me boosting/panic boosting your signal my systems are stuck at max setting as well as resonating with yours so were about as noticeable as a ginger haired Senti on a beach.>
What are you talking about, Nix? I don't have any girlfriends on this ship? Also. Heard, masking psionics now, the PSC is holding. But I felt something out there. It touched me. Does the Captain know?

Aliset stayed steadfast on the controls, Nix's claim shaking her focus for just the barest instant as she directed the Koun around incoming debris, allowing Saga to keep on the cyberwarfare path as she lined up beautiful broadside and point defense shots.
The salvage ship that Sacre had been assigned to with her squad for temporary protection while they waited for the Koun to catch up had been nice. Just before they left, she had put in for transfer to Aliset's ship, and it had come through. She had wanted to surprise Aliset, <Well, this is going to be a surprise for sure.> She thought to her self. The Separa'Shan finished putting her armor on and turned to Black Wolf. She checked each of them over as a final check. "Looks like the Koun's run into something, so we'll be meeting up with them." She explained.

The Mindies of Black Wolf left the Salvage vessel and thrust for where the Koun was fighting. Sacre hoped to preserve the surprise for a little bit longer. So she had Iomai Lightbringer, her Patrician communications specialist make the call. "Black Wolf Two to YSS Koun, we are in range, where do you want us?"
Debris Field

“Returning to base!” Akahana replied as the Captain gave out his orders. “I’ll be on station for screening fire.” She added. Immediately, the Analyst set a course back towards the Kōun’s position, intending to set a defensive screen against the fire from the trio of corrupted Nozomi-class scouts. While her sensors didn’t register any approaching hostile power armors, fighters, or similarly-scaled units, Akahana knew that she could help in other ways, by shooting down any incoming warheads or offering cover fire where relevant.

Upon reaching the Kōun, Akahana set herself in moving orbit around the vessel, her armor’s sensors primed to register any incoming fire from the pursuing scout ships. This time, she didn’t prioritize stealth, but the scalar fields of Mindy’s CFS were still set to “transparent”, potentially giving any enemy sensors the illusion that their pings were passing through empty space, rather than a power armor.

“I’m on station and ready to support, over.”
Haruka was flying through the systems of the Koun, attending to her tasks and staying vigilant for anything that might be out of place. As she spun and wound through cyberspace like a dove, out of nowhere a pulsating red tree crackled into existence. Like a lightning bolt, it branched out of nowhere and came all at once. Haruka yelped in surprise as she came to an abrupt halt, looking down to see her legs had been grabbed by the sparking limbs of the crimson tree. They slowly began retracting, pulling Haruka down until her feet touched the 'ground'.

The digi-Neko struggled against her bindings, flailing and pulling at the spectral arms of the corruption that had sprouted up to trap her. Haruka heard an ear-piercing screech and snapped her attention up, spotting the monster heading her way. Androids might dream of electric sheep, but she was having a nightmare involving a huge screaming worm in the distance. She heard the command of Alastair filter through the system to her, but she couldn't do anything but shout, "I need some help in here!" Although, the logistian doubted anyone could hear her. It was a surprise then, when one of her crewmates materialised nearby. Looking down to Saga, Haruka waved frantically, "Hey!"