• Nobles of Null is a forum based roleplay site where sci-fi and magic collide. Here, Earth remains fractured and divided despite humanity reaching out to the stars. Worse still, the trans-human slaves of one major power have escaped, only to establish their own Empire, seething with resentment at abuses of the past. Even the discovery of aliens, though medieval in development, has failed to rally these squabbling children of Earth together with its far darker implications. Worse still, is the discovery of the impossible - magic. Practiced by the alien locals, nearly depleted and therefore rare, its reality warping abilities remains abstract and distant to the general populace. All the while, unseen in the darkness of space, forces from without threaten to press in. For those with eyes opened by insight, it is clear that an era is about to end, and that a new age will dawn.

Day in the Life: Aos Si Ruins on Jing

space_person

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Shen grunted to herself as the Aos Si conversed among themselves. She felt like an outsider, but she didn't mind. One small moment of that feeling was nothing compared to how those three probably felt all their lives. Hands still in her pockets, Shen took a step closer to read the monitor. "As far as the images show, there's nothing of real note on the outside. Looks like we'll have to take a closer look."
 
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CadetNewb

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"Indeed, it seems 'Artificial Intelligence' still has room to grow," Amisra wryly remarked. Turning towards the pilot, she smiled. "It has come down to you then, Shen Zhou. I hope you will enjoy taking part in this expedition as well," the Aos'Si woman offered, her emerald eyes glimmering with thought. "Besides ferrying us to this location, I assume you wish to join us?"
 

space_person

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Shen nodded. "Of course. I made it this far, I'm not going to let you guys have all the fun without me. But I won't be there physically getting my hands dirty. That's what the drones are for. I'll be your all's guardian angel, watching over you from above." Her smile grew a bit. "And you can just call me Shen."
 
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Gwaed was already itching to get to work, to be one of the first people to venture into a lost site, and then plunder it of it's knowledge. Much would be gained, and there would be little doubt that their work would benefit the Aos Si generations after his own. Or at the very least, they'd have a neat story to be told.
 

CadetNewb

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"Well, there is little to wait for," Amisra noted. "Adventure awaits us," she smiled on them all.
 

Ray of Meep

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An hour later.

The Aurora Class, like other corvettes in the overall RSC fleet, featured a triple, retro-rocket engine block and highly specialized. It only had two self defense coil guns, but otherwise was covered in docking bays for drones, and communication antennas and sensor bulbs. The interior was cramped, its walls lined with soft cushioning, having only six bunk beds. The cockpit was in the middle of the ship, having four 3D axial crash couches, Shen now occupying one of them.

The team on the ground felt a rumble at their feat as the Aurora class blasted superheated water and newly fused elements onto the launch pad, lifting off into the "air". It stopped a good kilometer above the Aos Si ruins, flipping around so its nose sensor bulb could get a good new of the ground, firing its retrorockets continuously to maintain its position. Every minute that passed with its engines burning cost an engineer's daily wage. It was fortunate then, that Amisra was funding the entire project.

The ground team's rover stopped a dozen meters way from the donut structure, closest to a rupture in the walls. The trailer swung open as Shen's army of drones rolled out, a couple carrying airborne drones, ready to be deployed. Li Ming shined harsh light on all of them, threatening major sunburns were it not for their white, civilian space suits. The same harsh light casted even darker shadows, making visibility in these areas nearly impossible without technological assistance.
 

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The silence was deafening.

In the many years since coming to live amongst the humans, Amisra had come to appreciate many things, and one of them was their entertainment. It had too much executive meddling, rushed production schedules and writer's strikes, but it more often than not produced good works of art that entertained. And one thing that she found entertaining was their portrayal of space. It wasn't supposed to have sound, but they often included it anyways, with heroes in fighters zooming by to save the day and laser bolts blasting into the night! But this wasn't a movie, no. The moon was silent, barren and cold, with hardly any welcome save for its silvery-white glow. And now, they stood before a buried structure made by their ancestors as well. One thought suddenly bubbled up to Amisra's mind above all else.

"And there is already a door open, waiting for us. But that begs the question, what are we waiting for?"
 
Gwaed had been privy to much of what Amisra had watched, and found the human interpretation of space to be far more enjoyable than the real thing. They knew what space sounded like, and they pretended anyway. He understood why they did it: humans, like the Aos Si, do not live in a vacuum. Sound is everywhere, constantly, inescapably. Except for here, in the void itself, where sound was the last thing to be found. Thus, it does the mind well to make the soundscape of the stars far less troublingly silent than it truly is.

"A dramatic one-liner, which you have so generously provided," Gwaed chuckled, before sparking up a flashlight and advancing. He would be careful, but he was eager to be the first to step forward into this new experience.
 

Meep

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"This is a dramatic moment. Seems only appropriate that it should start with a dramatic line, no?" Taelara quipped as she followed behind Gwaed. "That aside, while it might get us inside quicker, this much structural damage doesn't bode well for us, even if it is only superficial. Who knows how much has actually survived in there for us to find."
 

space_person

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"Taelara's right. Watch your step, folks." Shen's smooth voice sounded from one of the little airborne drones buzzing nearby. Back on the Aurora Class, she stretched as much as the space allowed for and leaned closer to the multiple monitors spaced in front of her. She peered at one of the displays showing the ruptured wall in front of them and flew the drone above their heads inside the structure.
 

Ray of Meep

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One could envision a magnificent interior. Flora of other, lush worlds sprawling across the walls, filling the view with natural, vibrant colors. Aos Si would've walked about, conducting themselves daily for unknown, but honorable purpose.

Instead, the reality was a cold death. Whatever made for flora was shriveled, dry and withered, succumbing to the lack of care, light, water, air and sustenance in this dark tube. It was all pitch black now, only starlight leaking from the outside and the explorers' artificial lights making blotches visible. The floor was completely smooth, like concrete, its composition not yet known. The walls were lined with what-seemed-to-be picture frames, but whatever was displayed was long eroded away by vacuum and entropy. Then there were smooth tablets, fixed to pedestals, completely blank.

Finally, on the interior of the walls of this donut structure was carved a pictograph, its pattern repeating periodically. The pictograph showed a side view and top view of the entire structure, its underground floor layout laid bare cleanly. Lines and arrows circled around the middle of the donut, before they all converged on the central structure, before descending down into one of the underground rooms. There was a generous, rectangular blank space between each repetition, thirty-six in all along the interior wall. The entire effort was clean and meticulous. While there were minor errors, lines that varied in straightness and length between the pictographs, they were copies of each other to the untrained eye.
 
Gwaed took it upon himself to stride in front, eyes moving about to take in everything he could see. He brushed his hand along the walls, gloved as it was, he still yearned to feel history under his fingertips. "The architecture is ours, no doubt about it. Similar to places at home, before home was changed. I've been bringing the style back with some inspiration from our new neighbors. If only the pictures were still viable," he said, looking at an empty frame with the longing of an historian in an ancient place. He pointed to a super obscure error on the pictograph, smiling to the party. "Proof of the fallibility of flesh: an error." It, of course, looked completely fine to most everyone else. "Onward my friends, we've only scratched the surface!" With a muted giddiness few could actually see, he kept moving, eyes glancing about quickly to see everything.
 

Ray of Meep

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As Gwaed touched the outer walls of the donut, the light in his helmet flickered, his breath was noticeably short as the life support spit out yellow warnings of error. The whole suit's battery was drained by a few percentage points. All that was nothing compared to the buzz around his heart, which carried to his finger tips. There was a visible spark between Gwaed's suit and the wall, silent in the vacuum. Then, in this little spot where his fingers rested, the wall turned from oqaue to transparent, diminishing in its transformation from the point of contact, allowing light to filter through.
 
His breath picked up, catching himself staring at the wall. He turned to Amisra, face broken in a wide smile. "It's still here! Ami," he said with a laugh, "it took from the suit's power. The building itself is present, I felt my heart flare!" He gestured her closer, pointing to the wall. "Touch it, come on."
 

CadetNewb

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To Amisra, the interior was magnificent, and her footsteps following Gwaed in reflected that.

But, to her, it also meant something else entirely as well. The full glory of her people shined at her from the relics of their daily lives left behind, perhaps abruptly stopped or slowly, quietly winding down to fade away. But that was precisely just it. If the wrong steps were taken, would this be the ultimate fate of the Aos Si? Would they all ultimately fade away in comfort and become a memorial like this place? Amisra's helmet visor didn't betray her expression, but it was not the most optimistic of ones. This place could be the future, in more ways than one.

"Of course Gwaed. Though, where to exactly?" she pondered aloud. "It looks like we have several options," the redhead mused over the map carved into the wall. Like art, it was carefully ingrained with a skilled hand, but was still a map nonetheless.
 

space_person

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A drone flew over to the map, scanning the carvings up and down in waves of blue light. An image of the layout then appeared on one of Shen's monitors, which she zoomed in on closely.
"Follow your guts, you two. Clearly there's a connection between this place and your bodies. Where is your heart calling out for you to go?" She then snorted, realizing how cheesy she sounded. "Or, y'know, we could go about navigating this place in a more objective way. I don't care."
 

Ray of Meep

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Gwaed's natural instincts led the group through the tubes that connected the outer donut to the central triangular structure. Here, they found the interior bisected by a large tube rooted at a dome base at the floor. Tubes then stretched from this dome base to three large tablets, smooth, their surfaces as black as the void.

Then there was what lined the walls. Cabinets of books, sealed in by polarized glass, or some equivalent material, which preserved their color, labeled by dialects of the Aos Si language that was as foreign to Amisra and Gwaed as Old English is to the Mandarin speakers around here, but it was unequivocally Aos Si, no matter how ancient. On open spaces unoccupied by storage, was something akin to what the humans inscribed on golden records in their early space age:

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There were no words, but very clear demonstrations of the natural sciences in pure graphics that were recognizable to any species that could see or feel markings etched into walls. A pair of naked Aos Si, male and female, were depicted, then two solar systems, one of them recognizable as the Li Ming system, with the second planet with its two moons recognizable as Zhuque. Close to each depiction was a central point, with notched rays ending at larger dots. One point had an abstract arrow pointed at the other, the one closer to the depiction of the Li Ming system, but the line itself was illustrated as having been severed.

Then, lines rose up from the large dots and the central points to the tips of what seemed to be a root network of a plant. A few of the large dots led to the same tips. The root network was vast and complex, but what was immediately apparent was the tips that could be traced back to the two central points were unable to be traced to one other on the root system, as the pathway between the two was depicted as having been severed.

Finally, next to this complex arrangement of graphics was the detailed depiction of several Aos Si, their eyes closed and hands clutched at their hearts. They were illustrated next to a map of the facility, with arrows pointing to one specific room in the basement. The entire arrangement was compact on the free space on the wall, but there was a generous, empty and rectangular space next to the map.
 
Gwaed's heart was beating quickly, his eyes wide as he delved deeper into history. The contents of this room was something any historian would kill for, like the old archeologists of human media who also were trained in firearms. He could barely keep himself from running his hands over the bookshelves, preserved for so long in their condition thanks to the glass. Once it was safe, he fully intended to bring every last one home, and then probably study them for several years with a smile. "Seems the concept of universal sciences occurred to the ancient Aos Si as well as the humans," he said, voice tinged with wonder and delight. "But this contains a basic and scientific explanation for the concept of the ancient understanding of our Power. The Tree itself! The line was severed. Seems it must have been for millennia, despite what small power we wrested from the elements."

He looked then to the empty space on the wall, suspiciously absent of decoration. "Is something missing? If someone had gotten here before us, I feel they would have taken much more."
 

CadetNewb

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Amisra's heart beat as well. It beat like a drum, loudly in her pointed ears, the blood flowing through them like a rushing river as a pit of lead formed in her chest, her stomach.

"Yes...it appears so," she faintly replied to Gwaed in the most general of sense. Her feet weighed down, the redheaded woman only followed behind him as he ventured forth full of hope and optimism. But what Amisra felt right now was apprehension. Fear. Dread. The Tree of Life was severed. But how? What could have caused it? Was it some horrific, rare thing? Or just another move on the board in the greater game of war? "I wonder what has happened. We and our friends, the humans, have pondered what else has been conspiring outside of our small pond for some time, but this...insinuates something grand may have occurred." Amisra stopped herself and sighed, closing her eyes and putting a finger against her helmet where her temple would have been. "Or perhaps I am worrying overmuch?"
 
Gwaed's gloved hand settled on her suited shoulder, catching her eyes in the visor and smiling with a measure of reassurance towards her. "Ami," he chuckled, "You're worrying a rather sensible amount, dear, to balance myself and my excitement." He, despite the visor in his way, continued to look into her eyes. "You raise a good question, and every question shall eventually be answered, be they amiable or horrific." With a pat, he removed his hand from her shoulder, a slight tinge of embarrassment mostly hidden by a wall of Aos Si politics, and gestured to his weapons. "Worst case scenario, I finally get a chance to use my sword in space."
 
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