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GREETINGS, COLLEAGUE -

In the last few months we've made great strides in xenoscience. First, our studies of the
Chromatics captured during the Eyrie Station raid were extremely enlightening. We no
longer fight this enemy in the dark, as it were. The Chromatics are still a threat to humanity,
but although they were once a hostile race with unknown capabilities, they are now beings
with measurable strengths and exploitable weaknesses. Armed with this knowledge, AEon
is helping the psi orders move ever closer toward the development of effective counter-
measures.
Even better, communication with the few living Chromatic captives proceeds apace.
AEon Trinity has high hopes that we may negotiate with this fierce alien race — if not find
common ground — in the near future. We are confident that humanity could win an out-
right confrontation with the Chromatics, but we do not wish to wage a war of attrition.
Among other recent events, the Leviathan Ananda has returned from Qinshui, bearing
our brave embassy personnel as well as more information on enigmatic Qin culture. The
Ananda expedition reestablished regular communications between Earth and Qinshui, to
the benefit of both.
Humanity and the Qin can now look beyond the mutual concern of returning lost am-
bassadors. As I write these words, Qin and human dignitaries meet to renew the techno-
logical and commercial negotiations that were interrupted when the Upeo vanished five
years ago. We also now know that Aberrant attacks harry Qinshui much as they do Earth.
Surely an alliance against our common enemy is at hand.
And finally, even the second expedition to the Coalition space ark must be considered
a success, despite its violent end. We have no doubt about the Coalition now. The expedition's
dramatic discoveries are both shocking and undeniable, AEon Trinity has not yet retaliated,
but rest assured that this outrage will be punished.
However, despite our recent discoveries and studies, many details of all three alien
races remain a mystery. Ananda returned with more questions than answers about the Qin.
The puzzle of Chromatic teleportation and biotech remains unsolved. And while we now
know more about the Coalition, we still don't know its motives or plans.
Yet, we must keep in mind how little we knew about all three races only a few short
months ago. AEon Trinity devotes itself to exploration and discovery, those two essential
human pursuits. As long as questions remain about our peers and enemies in space, we will
search for answers.
I call upon all Trinity operatives, psion and neutral alike, to share your thoughts, specu-
lations and discoveries regarding this field report. You've helped us broaden our horizons
further than ever expected. Let us not stop here, but seek out, explore and respond to the
challenges that face us. AEon is proud of what you've accomplished — and we are confident
that you will continue to surpass the high standards you have set for yourselves.
Ad Astra
Neville Archer
Director, Neptune Division
AEon Trinity
Hope • Sacrifice • Unity
tion to the aliens' means of travel between the
stars. We obtained an abridged version of the
Operation Longjump report and we incorpo-
OPERATION BRIDGEWORK SUMMARY rated all relevant material into our analysis. We
REPORT strongly recommend that further effort be de-
— Keith Olatu, Head Scientist and voted toward obtaining a full copy of the re-
Lead Researcher, Triton Division [Prague port — this is no time for politics.
Facility] The Operation Bridgework team has no
INTRODUCTION final recommendation on the disposal of the
Chromatic captives at this time. Two full rec-
Operation Bridgework is the follow-up ommendations are presented under separate
investigation into Chromatic biology, culture covers, but we summarize both at the end
and psychology, following the initial Opera- of this report.
tion Abyss of 2113. Our initial investigation
took place in strict isolation on Montressor
Clinic grounds, and it was carried out by
MEDICAL REPORT
Our medical team confirmed most of the
seven AEon Trinity scientists and appropriate conclusions reached by Operation Abyss. This
support staff. The AEsculapian Order provided report addresses only new information and
three vitakinetics; Orgotek supplied support errors in the original report; information from
both in the form of technical assistance and that investigation not specifically addressed
a single psion expert in photokinetic appli- should be taken as current and accurate.
cations. The Ministry provided two psions The "tubes" running along the Chromatic
skilled in both telepathy and interrogation. spine, as discussed in Operation Abyss, are
The Legions assigned a Sixth Legion strike indeed a primarily means of storing energy.
team in case of hostile attempts on the part However, after much observation, we deter-
of the subjects. The representatives from each mined that these tubes are also a secondary
order were immensely helpful during the element of the Chromatic nervous system.
course of our study. Returning to previous autopsies, we found
Approximately halfway through the in- small eyespots and bioluminescent patches
vestigation, three UN scientists joined us as along the insides of the tubes themselves.
observers. Of the three, Mr. Koenig proved We further observed that the tubes connect
to be an inadequate scientist despite a natu- the subjects' sensory and auxiliary brains. As
rally inquisitive nature. The other two scien- yet, we've developed no procedures to study
tists were fairly helpful, and they deserve these arteries in a living subject, but the pres-
particular credit for their thoughts on Chro- ence of internal light-producing and sensing
matic culture. organs suggests that these tubes are con-
The subjects of our investigation are four duits, speeding the Chromatic equivalent of
Chromatics who were captured during the nervous impulses. This system also explains
Eyrie Station incident that took place in May. the reflexes of the average Chromatic war-
We also had access to the full Operation rior, which are significantly faster than those
Abyss report [see Proteus Archive, Opera- of most human beings.
tion Abyss 7.16.2113] as well as the remains We chose Chromatic Subject D (a.k.a.
of the Chromatic corpses on which that re- Heavystone — see the section on Chromatic
port was based. culture) for an experiment to determine if Chro-
Operation Longjump operated in concert matics possess the capacity for osmotic ab-
with Operation Bridgework under UN aus- sorption of oxygen in liquids, as postulated
pices, with the aid of Norça and Nihonjin tech- by Operation Abyss. During this experiment,
nicians. Its aim was to analyze all available Ministry agent Xin Chao probed Heavystone
Chromatic technology, with particular atten-
for reactions. Although his needed to create truly convincing illusions
emotions conveyed calm depends on the immense processing power
when first introduced to the tank, we of the Chromatic sensory brain and the net-
removed the subject when he started in- work of optical receptors that feed the brain
dicating alarm and desperation. While Chro- information. At this time, we conclude that
matics can breathe underwater, the amount psions cannot master the coordination
of oxygen in water at Earth-standard atmo- needed for Chromatic-style illusory images.
spheric pressure cannot sustain Chromatic life We nonetheless recommend that the
for more than six hours. We also discovered AEon Trinity share our more detailed report
that salt water is extremely irritating to the on Chromatic aptitudes with Orgotek for fur-
Chromatic system, although not disabling. ther study. Orgotek psions should be able to
The Chromatic ability to store energy and make use of Chromatic techniques given
absorb oxygen via osmosis suggests that sufficient practice. The Orgotek assistant to
these creatures live in a resource-poor envi- Project Bridgework was very enthused about
ronment. Given the sensitivity of their nu- the possibilities.
merous eyespots, we suspect that their By request of Operation Longjump, we
planet is far from their sun or that they spend investigated the possibility of Chromatic
a great deal of time isolated from sunlight. teleportation. We found no trace of psionic
The latter seems more likely, as their energy- teleportation latency — or of any aptitudes
absorption capabilities are attuned to absorb- beyond those already discussed.
ing solar energies comparable in strength to
those from our sun. LINGUISTIC REPORT
Our living subjects belong to two dis- Although Chromatics do not possess any
tinct genders, one of which we arbitrarily degree of telepathic ability, they show a for-
designated as "female." Chromatic Subject midable resistance to probes. The two Min-
C (a.k.a. Fastswimmer) referred to having istry agents used telepathy to gain data ini-
"not yet made a small beacon," thus naming tially, but they found that it was difficult to
herself of that gender, though whether she force a Chromatic's thoughts down any one
is too young or otherwise incapable of pro- path. Surprisingly, the aliens quickly grew
ducing offspring is unclear. sensitive to such attempts. Whenever one
of the Chromatic subjects felt a telepathic
NOETIC REPORT probe, it responded with overwhelming feel-
Chromatics prove to be strong manipu- ings of anger and outrage. Xin Chao ex-
lators of noetic fields. Vitakinetic examina- plained that the aliens seemed to feel that
tion indicated that all captives are capable of we were not "worthy" to communicate with
photokinesis, with some potential for them in such a fashion.
electromanipulation and pyrokinesis. The We are confident that we can break
subjects do not exceed human psion poten- through the aliens' emotional defense, but
tial. However, our analysis of battlefield re- doing so could harm the subjects' psyches
ports leads us to believe that Chromatic war- and would be draining on our telepaths. We
riors do outperform psions, producing effects decided to attempt translating the Chromat-
the orders consider impossible. ic' speech instead.
It seems that the Chromatic ability to We are pleased to report that, having so
become invisible and to project illusory im- decided, we established communications
ages are only partially noetic in nature. They with the captive Chromatics much more
use photokinesis to create images that screen quickly than anticipated. As per earlier specu-
the aliens from view or that make them ap- lation, Chromatics use sound to communi-
pear elsewhere. However, the fine control cate in a limited manner, while their main
mode of communication is visual. A specific and one-quarter of the
set of wavelengths, at the limits of human size of the set of Qin ba-
visual perception, carries linguistic content. sic nouns. However, the
Interestingly, projectors and sensors of these language makes extensive use of com-
wavelengths operate on an entirely differ- pound nouns. Very few of these com-
ent set of nerves than does the rest of Chro- pound nouns are abbreviated to form new
matic visual perception. We suspect that constructions.
Chromatics perceive "photo-communica- This pattern applies to Chromatic verb forms
tion" as something rather different from sight. as well. Adverb and adjective prefixes build on a
(We would like to thank Orgotek and the small set of verbs to create complex action state-
Ministry for helping us construct a device capable ments. For example, the verb "to go" is modified
of interpreting and duplicating Chromatic light- by prefixes meaning "quickly," "far," and "high" to
communication patterns. We recommend that form the verb indicating space flight. The multitude
the United Nations be encouraged to subsidize of compound verbs and nouns in the Chromatic
the production of more translator devices, language seems to have misled previous research-
whether from Orgotek or from another appro- ers to believe that the language was complex.
priately tractable biotech company. We will need Dr. Haller postulated that the speed with
these devices if we ever expect to establish terms which Chromatics communicate may have
with the Chromatics.) reduced evolutionary pressure to condense
The aliens' language is surprisingly compound word forms. While we must ac-
simple for a spacefaring race, despite earlier cept this idea as a possibility, the majority
speculations to the contrary. Their set of ba- opinion differs. The Chromatics' language is
sic nouns is approximately one third of the richest when used to speak of light and other
size of the average sets in Earth languages, optical phenomena, while a secondary locus
of terms involves conflict "state the truth" that answers would not be
and hunting. It seems used to harm the Chromatic race.
likely that an environment producing While we're not sure, we think the vi-
such a conflict-oriented language would sual patterns that overlaid Roamer's reply
demand more concise communication. signified skepticism — that they did not be-
lieve we are capable of such terms. After
CHROMATIC CULTURE consultation with her colleagues, Dr. Gilman
The xenocultural team thanks the linguis- agreed to Roamer's request. After lengthy
tics researchers for their contributions to this discussion among the subjects — and much
report; we would never have been able to to our surprise — the result was notably
learn as much as we have without under- higher levels of cooperation. It seems that
standing some of Chromatic language. (Note Chromatic culture is highly social. We pos-
that the translations provided in this report tulate that our captives may have suffered
are rough at best. We require many more from something not unlike the Stockholm
months of intensive research to refine our syndrome observed in human hostages.
understanding of the Chromatic language.) I must stress that this observation does
At first the subjects would not cooper- not mean that we believe friendships have
ate; they ignored our questions for the first developed between the aliens and ourselves.
week. We achieved a breakthrough when Dr. They continue to refer to us as "beasts," and
Oilman, in frustration, asked Chromatic Sub- they often unleash violent outbursts in re-
ject A (later designated Roamer) how she sponse to what we assume are innocuous
could convince them to talk. After some ap- comments. The process is touch and go, but
parent thought, Roamer asked Dr. Gilman to
the simple fact that we have started a dia- born with no names, and
logue gives us hope. they are identified with
The social aspects of Chromatic culture generic pronouns. Adults often give the
revolve around what we characterize as spiri- young simple descriptive terms for the
tualism. Understanding the nature of their sake of distinguishing them, but these
"religion" is frustratingly difficult. Their en- terms are shed as soon as the young one
tire mythological structure is subject to fre- acquires a "real" name.
quent revision. While there is a priesthood A nameless Chromatic earns a name by
among the Chromatics, they consider spiri- distinguishing itself, where the name reflects
tual revelations and insights valid no matter the deed that gained the young Chromatic rec-
who experiences them. Furthermore, such ognition. For example, Heavystone gained his
"insights" spread at amazing speeds. There name after single-handedly scattering an en-
are indications that the priesthood varies in emy position by rolling several rocks of ex-
membership, consisting of those who re- traordinary size down into the enemy's ranks.
cently experienced significant revelations. A Chromatic chooses his own name, although
Apparently there are times when two it is subject to group consensus, in case, for
mutually incompatible beliefs coincide. This example, it is overly egotistical.
is one cause of intra-Chromatic conflict. Ac- As evidenced by Longeye Underhider's
cording to our subjects, the current battle name (a.k.a. Chromatic Subject B), Chromat-
against humanity is the result of such a ics can earn more than one name. This prac-
struggle, apparently involving a new brand tice is, however, considered somewhat ar-
of polytheism. Other causes of conflict in- rogant. Chromatics tend to leave the most
clude struggles for resources. It is interest- glorious moments to those who have not yet
ing that the stories we were told revolved earned a name. We theorize that this tradi-
around conflicts over food and living space, tion is a cultural adaptation to the risky life
rather than for natural resources such as min- the race appears to lead. If the youngest
eral ores. Chromatics seek out the greatest risks in or-
Further discussion revealed that Chromatic der to name themselves, then the wisdom
existence is largely subterranean, as per the of the elders, who have already earned their
medical team's speculation. Chromatics con- names, is less likely to be lost.
sider water to be a precious substance found Our current sample of Chromatic names
only underground. Existence is more danger- includes Heavystone, Longeye Underhider,
ous there due to predation and the rare geo- Roamer and Fastswimmer. While this selection
logical instability, but it is also more reward- is very small, it is undeniably inclined toward
ing. "Watering holes" are the most strongly physical accomplishment. Furthermore, the
desired territories, because they ensure a sup- "name stories" we have heard suggest a vio-
ply and because Chromatic prey requires wa- lent and warlike culture. We are unable to rec-
ter just as much as the aliens themselves do. oncile this finding with the fact that the Chro-
These findings seem to indicate that Chromatic matics are a spacefaring race. We cannot con-
culture is still in the hunter-gatherer phase. struct a cultural model that allows for both
One of the most revealing aspects of primitive warfare and spaceships.
Chromatic culture is the Chromatics' method
of choosing names. Young Chromatics are
— Journal, Maria fail-safe, as well as having a the Qin were masters of
Diaz, Junior ISRA Repre- main job. It's a good system. biotech, but seeing what that
sentative, First Qinshui My gripe is that psions have means on a planetary scale is
Expedition to spend enough time mas- completely different.
March 21st, 2115 tering their powers — there's Everything here is organi-
I always thought people not a lot of spare time to cally grown instead of manu-
who kept diaries were too learn any other specialty. I'm factured. The buildings remind
caught up in themselves. a pretty good clairvoyant, me of termite mounds.
Who wants to read about or- but I haven't had time to They're domes and tubes,
dinary people doing ordinary learn enough about anything shaped out of some sort of
things in ordinary times? I else to do it full time, which glassy substance. It might be
never thought something makes me the professional chitinous. I'm always restrain-
extraordinary might happen basketweaver around here. ing the urge to chip some off
to me, but even if I'd ex- Not that I should com- and find out. The colors are
pected something extraordi- plain, being on mankind's great, almost anima. Kostbaar
nary, I'd never have pre- greatest adventure and all, would love this place. The
dicted a disaster like this. but people are people no overall color scheme is muted
Some folks say that Earth matter what. There's a bet- pastel, but you get an outburst
must have been destroyed, ting pool on what the Qin of vibrant purple or green here
that the Aberrants wrecked it. really look like. I have five and there.
I can't believe that. yuan on something six- It rains all the time. The col-
But regardless, here I legged and furry. See what I ors are like a reminder that the
am, sitting on Qinshui the mean? Something as impor- rain isn't the only thing in the
year after the Upeo stopped tant as that, and I'm making world. Like I said, very anima.
coming, and I realize that if I bets on it. Josuke Yoshi, one of my
ever get out of this I ' l l want Anyway. I've been trying friends in the diplomatic corps,
to remember what it was like to think of silver linings to our talks about how he never ex-
at the time. As much as I hate exile. I've already seen more pected biotech to be so harmo-
to say it, if I don't get out of marvels than I would have in nious. I was surprised Nippon
this, maybe this journal will a lifetime on Earth. This place sent someone along, given how
prove useful to Earth when is like a fairyland. I was told
humanity finally does get
back here.
So here it is. To my fu-
ture self, if it's me reading
this: Don't ever give up.
When you were my age, you
promised yourself that. And
if this is someone else —
thank you for coming for us,
and don't blame yourself if it
was too late.
>>> Approximately 176
kilobytes of entries deleted <<<
May 12th, 2119
It's a bit of a pain being a
backup. Most of the staff
members have a primary and
secondary f u n c t i o n , so
everyone's someone else's
they feel about non- We struck out about half wanted to file a re-
hardtech, but politics de- a kilometer outside the hu- port, but Jerome and I
mands a representative. He's man quarter, in the direction convinced her it was a
a lot happier here than I would that most of their orni- bad idea. Ambassador
have expected. He's also very thopters head. There was a Flores is serious about re-
fond of Qin discussions, which big dome there with specting Qin privacy, espe-
are very elliptical-oblique. He 'thopters landing inside it, cially now that we've lost
says it's refreshing to deal with and there they were — slugs contact with Earth. That
a society that's as polite as the going in or coming out of makes sense — if we anger
Nihonjin, but in a different way. those tubes of theirs. the Qin, we have absolutely
>>> Approximately 720 They're a meter or so nowhere to go. I'll let the cat
kilobytes of entries deleted <<< long, colored mostly in grays out of the bag if we ever get
December 9th, 2119 and tans and other earth home again.
Slugs. Would you be- tones, with stripes of brighter >>> Approximately 25 ki-
lieve it? A meter long or so colors here and there. They lobytes of entries deleted <<<
— and ugly! have segmented bodies and December 16th, 2119
I got tired of sitting what look like little treads The pilot of that
around. Jennifer is doing all that propel them across the ornithopter did spot us, but
the probes. She says she ground. I could make out it's turned out to be a good
doesn't want me to risk push- tentacles below what might thing after all. There's quite a
ing too hard and offending have been a mouth. One of bit we didn't know about Qin
our hosts. It's actually pretty them was carrying some- society, and I think it's impor-
cool of her, but it leaves me thing in its tentacles! I had to tant stuff. I'm now making
bored. So I got together with restrain myself from laugh- some of the most interesting
the guys in Engineering who ing; to see these things for discoveries of the entire mis-
were running the betting the first time after so long — sion. If I had to take a few risks
pool, and a few of us -Rob- no wonder they wear those to make it happen, I don't
erts, Sandoz and I — snuck suits around us. mind. I just wish I could get
out of the official embassy Anyhow, after a few word back to Earth.
area. Not very risky. In the last minutes of gawking we A week after our "out-
three years, I'd gotten a good headed back to the human ing," I was contacted by
handle on the Qin noetic sig- quarter. An ornithopter Meizhu, the superior of the
nature, so I figured I could came close to noticing us, Qin pilot who saw us outside
keep us out of sight. but I don't think it did. Laura the ambassadorial zone.
Meizhu has invited me to
meet with him on several
occasions now to, as he (I
think) puts it, "discuss our
home." I don't know why
I've been singled out, but
Meizhu says our head am-
bassadors already know ev-
erything he's telling me.
These are translations, so
they might not be exact. There
are five, "houses" or political
groups in Qin society. Since it's
a spacefaring society, they're all
basically working toward the
same goal, but there are excep-
tions. They're not nations but
they compete like countries dc
on Earth. The different houses
fill different roles in society.
They're kind of a cross ordered to stop. I'm also not rest of the house was
between political parties sure that the rest of the em- stranded here without its
and psi orders. Well, that's bassy really has a clear pic- most important members.
not quite right, but it'll do ture of what's going on. It's The rest of Tung Jen is really
for now. not like House Tung Jen is just using us. I can understand
Meizhu is from House morally corrupt or anything, the logic, but not when there's
Hsiao Kuo (you can thank but I think the other houses so much more at stake.
China's first contact for that; are ready to join forces
about half of these houses against the Aberrants, and
were named using the I are possibly more eager to
Ching). Apparently all the help us get home, which is
Qin who've had extended the most important thing.
contact with us are from There's one other house
House Tung Jen. They're the called Kuei, which is ex-
ones who traditionally take tremely anti-human. They're
an exploratory role, which is influential, but not as much as
why they met us first, and Meizhu's house. House Tung
they've kept a tight lid on us |en used to be the most influ-
ever since. ential, but they put a lot of
Meizhu says that when resources into the diplomatic
we established contact with mission to Earth. When we
the Qin, House Tung Jen at- lost contact with home, the
tempted to establish a mo-
nopoly on humanity to up-
set what he calls the "Travel
of a Hundred Spheres." (That
translates roughly into "po-
litical balance.") It makes
sense. A race as concerned
with biological balance as the Subject: Staff Memorial
Qin naturally has similar From: Ambassador Floras
views toward politics. Unfor- To: All Qin Embassy staff
tunately, House Tung Jen Encryption: SPE
might upset the entire thing. Transmission type: textfile
I suppose it's pretty nor- Date: 2.27.2120
mal to try. Meizhu didn't Certainly it is a joyous time now that ships
seem upset by it or anything. from Earth have returned to Qinshui and to our
The only problem is that this embassy after five years of isolation. We have a
kind of effort isn't supposed great deal to be thankful for, and we all appreci-
to succeed; humans are a ate the hospitable treatment we have received
completely new factor, so the from our hosts.
political scales are tipping However, these glad tidings do not come
heavily. Apparently that without some sadness. As you know, junior ISRAn
makes us disruptive. representative Maria Diaz and engineers Laura
>>> Approximately 130 Roberts and Jerome Sandoz were tragically killed
kilobytes of entries deleted <<< last week while venturing outside the official am-
January 22, 212O bassadorial sector. I have personally inspected the
It's been a busy few accident scene and ordered autopsies of the bod-
weeks. Meizhu has intro- ies. Our Qin allies apologize profusely for the ac-
duced me to a few other cident, and offer their condolences.
members of his house. I've Though our loss is terrible, it saddens me most
learned a lot about Qin soci- to know that these three young people never had
ety, but I'm worried that if I the chance to see their home again.
tell Ambassador Flores, I'll be
Summary : This evidence of rework- tion doesn't seem
ing betrays an astounding likely, but it's one for
Qinshui comprehension of biological the Implausible Files.
issues. Qin bioengineering, Also note — this isn't
Expedition while beyond our current in the full report—that the Qin
— Bruce Lysik, AEon abilities, is something we've were leery about letting us study
Trinity Diplomat Plenipo- all had the chance to get their world. Our investigation
tentiary, Qinshui Expedi- used to. What surprises us is didn't reveal anything damning,
tion, 5.17.2120 the Qin talent for ecological and we did a reasonably good
Neville: management. The web of job of getting around their re-
You'll want to read my ecological interactions on strictions, so I believe the Qin's
full report at your leisure, but Qinshui appears no less com- concern was simply habitual.
here's the summary as re- plex than that on Earth. They have a distinct tendency
quested. The full report goes The North American to divulge as little as possible. It
to the UN as well, so we can Blight is ample proof to even seems to be part of their lifestyle.
expect leaks to the press. non-technical me that you We got the chance to
The first section covers can't alter any element of an examine one of their fliers
fauna, flora and other such. ecology without sending after an accident near the
There's a lot of detail about profound repercussions human quarter. The examina-
ecological issues that you can throughout the entire planet. tion was regrettably brief, but
read if you want. What's im- Even so, the Qin appear to revealing. The flier wasn't
portant and interesting, I have changed every single what we "think of as biotech,
t h i n k , is the fact that we element of theirs. really. While a flier isn't ca-
clearly identified traces of This degree of manipula- pable of reproduction, Dr.
bioengineering in 87% of the tion raises an interesting pos- Narayan declared that it pos-
life forms we were able to sibility; we might want to con- sessed every other character-
study, and that we couldn't sider that the planet wasn't istic of a living organism.
rule out bioengineering in the the Qin's original habitat. It was very similar in in-
remaining 13%. I suspect There's no hard proof that ternal structure to the flying
that the Qin have reworked Qinshui is really the Qin creatures we examined. The
the entire planet into their homeworld. What if the Qin space that would ordinarily
own version of Paradise, with found it and, er, "Qin- have been filled with gas
no tigers or mosquitoes. shuiformed" it? This supposi- pockets was occupied by
what appeared to be biotech
that provided mobility and
lift superior to what a gas bag
could provide to wildlife. The
exterior shell was also sepa-
rate from the creature itself.
We detached a small seg-
ment for further tests, and it
proved to be chitinous —
much like a beetle's shell, but
far sturdier. The material is
certainly organic in origin.
Oh, and the thing had
parasites! So not only do the
Qin custom-grow their ve-
hicles as needed, they fit
them into the planet's ecol-
ogy. (Apparently it isn't as
difficult as it sounds; the
internals of the vehicles are
probably the same as the
"native" creatures', In any case, five or six why they were so eager
with only the outer castes have critical roles. Sta- to get back. It wasn't just
shells differing. In light tus is determined within a a matter of being isolated
of these findings, Dr. group economically and by — or it was, but the conse-
Narayan wants to move to how many other castes pay quences were farther-reach-
Qinshui permanently.) attention to you. As with so- ing than we realized.
I get to talk about my cietal structures everywhere, We got back just in time,
field in section three. These the powerful tend to become and Tung Jen owes us. Since
folks have ferocious politics; more so. Ananda arrived, things have
I doubt there's a politician on Of course, there are al- been humming. Tung Jen still
Earth who couldn't learn ways shakeups when some- carries some sort of prece-
something here. So be care- thing unexpected comes up dent in dealing with us, as
ful who we send! — like us. One of the castes, "payment" for the risk they
Qin society is caste- the one we call Tung Jen, was took, plus they have the ad-
based, much like old Nippon right above the middle of the vantage of five years' expe-
or India. Unlike those nations, pack when we made First rience working with our
though, each "caste" is also a Contact. We had hardtech, hardtech. I think it's enough
political entity, and there which no Qin had ever seri- to turn their fortunes dra-
aren't any real political bod- ously considered before. We matically, but I talk about that
ies outside the castes. In other had teleportation. We could more in the next section.
words, after you get over have been an incredible gift Section four summarizes
thinking of the Qin as Asian, or an insidious curse. Tung our negotiations. Ambassador
you realize that they're orga- Jen staked its future on us. Delgado was our lead, as per
nized more like the labor The Qin who came back mission assignment, but I kept
unions of the 20th century. to Earth with us represented a close eye on AEon Trinity in-
Ambassador Delgado the majority of the caste. terests. It's hard to be sure, but
wants the Qin word for their When we lost the Upeo, the it seems to me that Tung Jen is
societal divisions translated portion of the group left on deliberately retarding negotia-
as "house," but I'm more Qinshui lost most of its tions until it can solidify its posi-
comfortable with "caste. "The power and was apparently in tion. Our assistance in getting
groups are oriented more some danger of being ab- them back home, not to men-
toward function than lineage. sorbed into one of the lesser tion our general value, means
Castes are hereditary, but castes. The Qin back on Earth the Qin of the Tung Jen caste
they're defined by what they were clearly aware of this want to establish strong ties
do. On the other hand, a Qin likelihood, which explains with us — but not just yet.
can't really join a caste other
than the one he was born
into, so maybe I'm just be-
ing stubborn.
The castes interlock as
smoothly as the ecology.
There isn't a lot of wasted
effort on Qinshui. Some jobs
are more important than oth-
ers, but there aren't any to-
tally useless castes as far as I
could tell. I'd be very inter-
ested to find out what hap-
pens to a caste whose role
in society becomes obsolete.
When I tried to research po-
litical history, I ran into that
"minimal-information" prob-
lem again.
I'm unable to lore than they do
learn a reason for — and I think they
the delay. Aberrants know it.
Analysis: Qin First Contact The Aberrants are a
have attacked the
The pattern for Qin names was set in threat to our existence.
Qinjunan system, and haste during humanity's initial contact with
Tung Jen has pre- The Second Aberrant
the aliens. One of our biggest priorities at
sented us with evi- the time was adjusting to our first alien race. War has only just begun
dence that one of the Rather than convert Qin phonemes into and it's going to get
other important something pronounceable by humans, our worse before it gets bet-
castes considers us re- diplomats — led by Chinese explorers — ter. While the Aberrants
sponsible for the Ab- decided that the easiest compromise was are dangerous to the Qin
errant threat. It's hard to give the Qin suitable Chinese names. and have attacked Qin
to refute this; we are. Records of initial meetings make it clear colonies, they simply
Maybe Tung Jen can't that Chua Lianwei carefully guided and aren't as threatening
make a treaty with us shaped the final agreement with the aliens. from the Qin perspec-
In retrospect, we should have allowed a tive. Aberrants have a
until it has enough naming scheme less reminiscent of China.
power to defeat the strong reason to come
Although newer Qin designations draw
opposition. from other cultures, the initial Eastern in- back to Earth, and no
However, I don't fluence can't help but color human percep- reason beyond impulse
think we can over- tions of the aliens. to attack Qinshui.
look the possibility We need to be more careful about this The Qin know all this;
that the treaty will sort of bias in the future — we can plan for we couldn't hide it if we
spread the benefits it in the case of the Coalition, and we should tried. Unfortunately, the
we offer beyond write a general set of nomenclature guide- Qin are a paranoid race.
Tung Jen. I can't lines for inclusion in the United Nations' cur- Our embassy personnel
rent First Contact Manual. stranded here didn't learn
imagine any treaty Initial reports from Qinshui indicate
restricting h u m a n nearly as much about
that there are multiple nations (or at least
contact to one caste, multiple political entities) on the Qin their hosts as Qin ambas-
given how useful we homeworld. The first few were given hu- sadors did about Earth. In
are. (A side note: We man names drawn from the I Ching. Triton fact, our information
s h o u l d n ' t let that is pursuing further translation of the Qin lan- about castes is about all
make us egotistical. guage to replace these designations with the data we have. So not
They're as useful to the race's own terms — or to at least apply only are the Qin negoti-
us as we are to phonetic variations of the aliens' strange ating from strength,
them.) Thus, when a tongue. Despite the fact that the Qin don't they're negotiating with
treaty is signed, the seem to care what we call them, we better information.
shouldn't risk characterizing the Qin with My recommendation
Tung Jen caste won't human national stereotypes. For better or
have as much lever- is that we get down to
worse, many such problems already exist
age and the time to given the strong Chinese flavor of the Qin brass tacks with the Qin
grab power will have public image. At this point it's more im- of the Tung Jen caste. We
passed. Is that issue portant that the public not think of the Qin gain nothing from pre-
of timing a major fac- as a Chinese national resource. Check the tending that concerns
tor of their plans? archives; the number of news articles mark- don't exist. Let's be frank
They're too good at ing similarities between Qin and Chinese with them instead and
hiding the truth for culture is on the rise. see where it gets us. We
me to be sure. Neptune Division recently finished a can be more beneficial to
plan for implementing multicultural nomen- their political goals if
Finally, we come clature. Our staff at the Qinshui embassy
to section five: What we're explicitly aiding
will soon begin to discuss the possibility
do we do now? I'm with the other Qin political entities. Back them. I don't know if
pretty grateful that on Earth, Neptune is initiating a subtle me- helping a specific faction
it's not my decision. dia campaign to disassociate Qin culture of an alien race is morally
I think we and the from Chinese culture. The division may re- correct — but right now,
Qin need a treaty, quest personnel assistance from Triton and/ right here, it's necessary.
but we need one or Proteus if "freelance" journalism seems
in order.
Datapod Dump One any apparent hostility. At 93,604 kilohertz,
— Molly Irvingson, Ambassador in just inside the FM-radio frequency, he re-
Chief, Second UN Expedition to the ceived a reply. It was in English! While the
Coalition giant Coalition ark stood still, obscuring the
I'm very pleased to report that our sec- Milky [Way and casting our tiny] Leviathan
ond contact with the Coalition is proceed- into shadow, the Coalition invited us to dock
ing much better than the first. with its ship and promised to make all pos-
We began cautiously. The Leviathan Kohl sible amends for the horrible misunderstand-
was detailed to reestablish contact with the ings that ruined our first contact.
Coalition space ark, while her sister ship My staff and I transferred onto Kohl, and
Pandora stood off one Astronomical Unit, with from there, onto Chelsea. While Kohl main-
her frigates prepared for hostile action. Only tained position 14 million kilometers away
the transport Chelsea, just large enough to — 10 times closer than Pandora, but far
carry a small embassy, would come into physi- enough away to be safe — Chelsea docked
cal contact with the space ark. We stripped with the ark. The process was... tense. We
Kohl's crew to the minimum necessary to did not link airlocks as I expected, but rather
maintain the ship at a standstill, and briefed entered the space ark proper through an
everyone of the fate of the last expedition. immense portal in her outer hull. I couldn't
Kohl's communication officer sent hails help but wonder if this was how Jonah felt.
ranging up and down the electromagnetic Chelsea opened her landing doors and we
frequency, keeping the power low to avoid walked out to meet the Coalition.
We were met by a group of mixed race, (I'm still unsure how
all naked. I later found that nudity is not nec- the envoys learned English
essarily the custom among all races of the in just seven months, although the Qin
Coalition, but that they had chosen to meet learned it in two. We've recognized ra-
us this way to reassure us. There were three cially based task-division among Coalition
members of the race we now call "envoys," members; I suspect that envoys are particu-
accompanied by a number of squat unintel- larly adept at linguistic tasks, judging from
ligent-looking four-legged beasts that I've their grasp of the language. One of our Chi-
termed "drones." The lead envoy came for- nese crew members has volunteered to teach
ward, and in an amazingly mellifluous voice them Mandarin >>> text lost <<<)
said, "Welcome to our home. We have been We'd made great strides by that evening.
poor hosts. While we can never undo what Apparently, despite the vast misunderstand-
we have done, we hope that together our ings overshadowing our initial contact, the
races can move past this tragedy." Coalition managed to learn enough by ob-
It was odd, but I found the words — typi- serving Earth's broadcast transmissions from
cal diplomatic phrasing, in retrospect — re- the past two centuries. As the classic novels
assuring. Perhaps the fact that they had gone speculated aliens might, they listened to our
to the trouble of learning English made them broadcasts as they approached Earth — "Re-
seem more sincere. I made my greetings, in alizing," the lead envoy explained, "that en-
the name of the United Nations and human- tertainment produces an inaccurate picture."
ity, and we settled to the task of finding com- If I understand the envoy's account cor-
mon ground. rectly, sexual contact is considered a normal
means of interaction between two species that we not venture outside a designated
in the region of space from which the Coali- area, to prevent further misunderstandings.
tion hails. As such, our first diplomats were All went very well in the following week.
met according to what the Coalition thought The three envoys assigned to speak with us
was time-honored diplomatic tradition. How- were as helpful as could be. Certain topics
ever, sexual practice here is brutal by human seemed to be taboo to them for religious rea-
standards, and the communication barrier sons, but otherwise they were very forthcom-
kept the Coalition from realizing what was ing. I was concerned at first that the rooms
going on until it was too late. prepared for us would be unsatisfactory, but
I noticed during our conversation that the drones and the vaguely ursoid mechan-
two drones engaged in what seemed to be ics the Yi report called "sasqs" made the
coitus. The lead envoy confirmed my suspi- changes we required both quickly and eas-
cions, and expressed concern that we might ily. Coalition races seem to work together
be upset. I reassured him that we were pre- extremely well; I think the drones are more
pared to deal with customs far different from intelligent than I first surmised. They do walk
our own. While I'm still not happy with what on two legs when necessary. In any case,
happened to the Yi, I am prepared to be- we've been able to move most of our op-
lieve that it was an accident. erations over to the ark.
After this initial conversation, the lead The technology we've seen is completely
envoy assigned each member of my staff a hardtech. Biotech was unknown to the Coa-
drone, which is apparently customary for dis- lition races before the Yi expedition, and
tinguished visitors. Rooms had already been they're very interested in the concept. Earth
prepared for our staff. The envoy requested should consider biotech a prime commodity
when dealing with these races. Their hardtech
is approximately as sophisticated as ours, Kohl was restationed ap-
proximately 100,000 kilo-
although our scientists tell me theirs has de-
meters from the space ark for ease of
veloped in fascinating different directions.
access, while Pandora remains at a dis-
We are extremely interested in learning their
method of propulsion, but the Coalition tance. This datadump summarizes
xenobiological and psionic reports, with
seems unwilling to discuss it at this time. I
have to note that much of the work that we more of my own notes at the end.
relegate to machines is carried out by vari- >>> text lost <<<
ous domesticated animals here. We requested permission to dissect one
of the drones early on. The envoys were
Labor and work [divisions are organized
somewhat taken aback by the request; it
along] strict racial grounds. The envoys claim
seems that the drones are a semi-intelligent
this regimentation is voluntary and natural.
race. However, after some internal discus-
Given Earth's history, I am suspicious of the
claim, but I must try to remind myself thatsion, they agreed to provide a dead drone
these races have their own cultures — our for our studies, along with several members
of their food species — quadrupeds a little
rules do not apply. I will watch carefully for
signs of dissent, though. smaller than a horse, which I've nicknamed
"cattle." It seems appropriate, as their cattle
Datapod Dump Two are also beasts of burden.
— Molly Irvingson, Ambassador in Autopsies revealed nothing of particu-
Chief, Second UN Expedition to the lar note from a diplomatic perspective. How-
Coalition ever, detailed DNA analysis shows that the
The remainder of our first month on the drones and cattle are related to a very close
Coalition ship continued to be productive. degree; more so than, say, chimpanzees and
humans. I've discussed this found nothing. Some of our psionic staff,
with the envoys, who ex- particularly our Legion guards, provided the
plain that this is the result of their afore- envoys with ad hoc [demonstrations of psy-
mentioned "diplomatic custom." chokinesis] and other powers. While I'd have
Our xenobiologists speculate that the preferred not to display our abilities, we did
old "spore" theory — a common origin for discover that the envoys were unfamiliar with
galactic life spread by some sort of space noetics— if their surprised and even shocked
spore — might be close to the truth where reactions were any indication.
the Coalition originates. It seems a reason- More troublesome, though, were the
able explanation for what we've found. Doc- faint traces of taint Ms. Tzavelas discovered
tor Lundgard is lobbying for permission to toward the center of the ark. Ivan Gullichsen,
sample envoy tissue by "accident." I'm in- another clairvoyant, confirmed the existence
clined to agree if he can come up with a dis- of taint the same day. A week later, the traces
creet method of extraction. This expedition had faded. More on this later.
wasn't expected to resolve any Very light telepathic scans yielded little
xenobiological mysteries. It's wonderful that of any use. The envoys are either apt at sepa-
we're finding out so much. rating surface thought from internal contem-
The autopsies revealed unusually large plation, or are rather shallow. from
scent glands beneath the skin of both races. their diplomatic skill shown so far, I'd guess
The scents they produce are, as best we can the former. We attempted deeper scans on
tell, pheromones — their scents trigger in- the sasqs and drones, as well as the warrior
stinctual responses in beings that smell them. caste, the "spinals." The spinals dream of
I say "beings" because these pheromones battle, as one might guess from their razor-
seem to be effective on humans as well as edged angles and menacing postures. Sasqs
the Coalition. The drones' scent leaves one and drones, as far as we can tell, think mainly
disinterested >>> text lost <<< and the >>> text lost <<< [This discovery does] bear
cattle's scent leaves one feeling somewhat out the contention that the division of labor
satiated after eating, or hungry if you haven't. is natural.
Strange as it sounds, I've wondered how the As far as diplomatic talks go, we're still
cattle taste. in the preliminary phases. I'm content with
We speculate that the [racial division of this pace; the more time we have to study
labor is the result of] natural pheromone se- the Coalition, the better. I wonder if the en-
cretions. For example, the drones are natu- voys are really the guiding hands behind the
ral servants, and as such, you never notice Coalition. While their racial specialization isn't
them when they are not needed. With all this as specific as that of, say, Earth insects, I'm
in mind, the Yi crew reports of "unavoidable unsure if diplomacy and leadership fall into
attraction" begin to make sense. The envoys the same category.
confirmed our suspicions; this subconscious Perhaps I'm anthropomorphizing. Given
pheromone production is another reason the emphasis on intercourse in social relation-
why we've been asked to remain in a small ships, maybe skillful interaction is seen as the
area aboard the space ark. The Coalition is primary component of leadership. It's been
unlikely to ever be able to interact with hu- difficult for me accept the degree to which sex
manity as easily as the Qin do, I fear, but we seems to be part of this culture. I haven't wit-
may yet find ways to work together. nessed cross-racial intercourse yet, but the
We've found no traces of noetic ability more usual sort is terribly common.
on board the ark. Joanna Tzavelas, our best Speaking of racial issues, I've decided
clairvoyant, scanned for noetic activity that if there really is a flavor of slavery to the
throughout our portion of the space ark and racial divisions, it's long since been institu-
tionalized and has become unconscious. The
envoys are unable to remember that form Datapod Dump Three
does not indicate function among humans. I — General Luo Meng, Staff General,
am tall and skinny, thus the envoys constantly Second UN Expedition to the Coalition
assume that all tall, skinny humans are dip- Ambassador Irvingson is missing. As per
lomats. For some reason the envoys also treat mission protocol, I have taken command of the
females with an exaggerated respect, per- ambassadorial staff, and we will proceed with
haps because of a similar appearance to a the mission. We have not yet moved to a com-
race we haven't encountered yet. bat footing, as the reasons for the ambassador's
On the taint issue, I've decided two disappearance are not yet known.
things: I'm going to request that Ms. Tzavelas She vanished three days after the ma-
perform a physical scan of the area where rine mission to investigate the taint. The cir-
she detected taint. Second, depending on cumstances are unclear. The last person [to
the results, I may send a small group of Le- see her was] >>> text lost <<<
gionnaires to investigate the matter person- The envoys express polite concern for
ally. The envoys have not mentioned Aber- the ambassador's status, and suggest that she
rant attacks, and show no signs of taint them- might have ventured beyond the human-
selves, but I am willing to risk this mission to designated area. It's possible — the ambas-
get to the bottom of the matter. When I con- sador is known to be impulsive — but un-
sider taint in conjunction with the speed with likely. The envoys report that their patrols
which the envoys learned English... the pos- have found no sign of her. We'll continue to
sibilities are alarming. investigate.
In the meantime, diplomacy continues un-
der my reluctant supervision. I've noted in the
logs that I would prefer to withdraw and reas-
sess, but mission parameters don't permit that
course of action. The entire expedition is on yel-
REPORT: RECON OF COALITION SPACE ARK low alert. I've taken the precaution of asking our
— Captain William Donney, UN technicians to design several sets of respirators
Military [detached duty to the capable of countering drone and cattle phero-
Coalition Expedition] mones, assuming that other Coalition races might
At 0500 LST, which we estimate to >>> text lost <<< [I have] half the diplomatic
be the time of lowest activity for Coali- staff wearing the things, with the others as con-
tion members, a four-person field team trol subjects. Daily reports from protected per-
set out from our quarantine zone aboard sonnel are far more cautious, on average, than
the ark. In addition to myself, the team those from unprotected personnel. I've ordered
consisted of Corporals Jacqueline Win- the scientific staff to take samples of air from rooms
ters and Leon Savarese, both combat containing envoys.
experts, and Ivan Gullichsen, a clairvoy- Dr. Lundgard has also found that envoy DNA
ant. Corporal Savarese is a talented psion is congruent with drone and cattle DNA to the
who comes to us after a distinguished 99th percentile. The different species making up
service with the Legions. the Coalition are far more closely related than the
Mr. Gullichsen maintained a scan envoys would have us believe. None of us are
during the entire mission, which allowed sure what to make of this, but the Coalition is
us to avoid almost all contact with Coa- clearly keeping a number of secrets from us.
lition members. While we passed numer-
ous drones, we did not see members of
any sentient Coalition species.
Gullichsen's abilities were also a great
help in navigating the ark's corridors.
They proved to be >>> text lost <<< [The
space ark] proper is more reminiscent of
a house that's grown over the years than
a specifically designed vessel.
As we approached the center of the
ship, we saw more of the iconography
previously identified as religious in na-
ture. Gullichsen finally detected taint di-
rectly in front of a large hatchway bear-
ing a number of symbols, some religious
and some, as yet, unclassified. The taint
residue was consistent with the passage
Datapod Dump four
of an Aberrant. Gullichsen probed into — Captain Mary Palacio, Leviathan
Pandora
the area beyond, which he claims was
unlike any of our preconceptions of a This is what you need to know.
spacecraft. He described it as a network The Coalition is not many races; it's one
of caverns which were individually as race, bred [into a hundred] subspecies for
large as 10 meters high and more than functionality, ruled by things at the center of
100 meters across. Here and there, he the ark. We've come to call these things
"breeders."
also >>> text lost <<< He ceased prob-
ing upon detecting strong signs of taint General Luo spent a week in diplomacy,
in one cavern. trying to find out where the taint was com-
We returned to our own zone with ing from, what the envoys were hiding and
no incident. The entire mission took ap- where the ambassador vanished to. The gen-
proximately two hours.
eral is a stubborn man; he finally gave up God, did they find them.
and asked the envoys outright. There's a lot of human
The envoys tried to delay. They admit- genetic material on board — or should
ted that the Coalition has a central subrace I say formerly human? Aberrants got here
>>> text lost <<< [and that members of our] not too long ago. There are breeding cham-
first expedition became raw genetic breed- bers full of them! Our troops broke through,
ing material. It's what the bastards have done got a look at what was inside, and fled as if
with every other race they've encountered Divis Mal himself was on their heels. Who
for thousands of years. They trotted out the knows, he might be here.
product of their breeders and our first expe- General Luo was holding well enough
dition — a half-human, half-envoy monstros- against the spinals until Aberrant reinforce-
ity that looked about 10 years old, but with ments showed up. Then there was no hope
eyes >>> text lost <<< Everyone was wear- >>> text lost <<< In the end, he got the ci-
ing respirators by then, which was a good vilians off, giving up the Chelsea's firepower
thing. The creature was pumping out phero- in order to get them to Pandora. We haven't
mones twice as potent to humans as those heard from the General since. There's only
of the envoys. General Luo demanded to one reasonable assumption.
have the creature, along with any other hu- As I said earlier, our Tesser drive is ru-
man genetic samples the Coalition had. The ined. We're only getting enough power to
envoys refused, and a fight broke out. send this message. Kohl is dead; not return-
We've been battling the ark for three ing our hails. We're going to try to limp away
days. She has "children"; a swarm of what from this hell in normal space. The Coalition
I'd call fighters engaged our frigates and ship is incredibly fast, but it steers like a cow,
Pandora. A lucky shot took out our jump ca- even compared to a Leviathan. We won't
pacity along with >>> text lost <<< [General make it back to Earth any time soon, but at
Luo fought a holding action] inside the space least we won't be in Coalition hands.
ark while a marine detachment fought toward Remember us.
the center of the ship, looking for answers.
Author: Bryant Durrell
Developers: Andrew Bates and Ken Cliffe
Concept Suggested by: Scott Nimmo
Editor: Carl Bowen
Graphic Stuff: Richard Thomas
Cover Art: Jeff Holt, David Robyn Seeley and Richard Thomas
Artists: Rob Dixon, Jeff Holt, Brian Snoddy and Richard Thomas

Author Dedication: To Eric Hargin, John Abbe and Gretchen Shanrock, for helping me learn
to roleplay.