When the giant crab-like creature attempted to threaten his teammate, Rahdokama took the opportunity of its distraction to make a swipe at it but while the strength behind the blow was sufficient, the need to split his own concentration between the two beasts led to impeded accuracy.
Flenn fires at the cornered corchaaz, his aim true, before taking up a position by the far door. A quick glance into the room reveals geometric patterns covering a neat and clear floor in stark contrast to the areas of the mine that had so far explored.
Korvin, focusing on the threat, draws on his magical powers to send three bolts of force speeding toward the corchaaz. The first stikes red dropping it to the floor. The other two power into the green one.
Shelldrake fires again from around the corner, squarely hitting the green corchaaz and wounding it significantly.
Two loud cracks sound, echoing in the chamber as True Silver loses a couple of rounds from his pistol. The first connects with the greenish corchaaz but the second proves a little high, striking the wall behind it.
Rahdokama follows up enthusiastically, gouging the beast with a mighty blow from the pike and felling that one too.
Targets adjusted as appropriate, combat over.
A closer look through the doorway into the far room reveals ...
The orderliness of this room contrasts with the messy chaos elsewhere in the mines. Geometric patterns cover the floor, and a half-dozen humanoid robots kneel facing an alcove in the south wall. Perfectly straight scorch marks cover the entire alcove in dizzying patterns of flawless geometric shapes, especially triangles. A single robot sits in the alcove, facing the others, its hands folded serenely in its lap and holding its own detached head.
Sunshine's brow furrows, and he approaches the robot. "This is...odd."
Any way to help animate the robot?
Engineering: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (15) + 10 = 25
Rudura muses. ”Huh, that’s . . . Wait, weren’t the Copaxi all super distrustful about AI? Why would they have a robot?!”
None of the robots shows any signs of life. The robots’ featureless faces bear an eerie resemblance to those of the copaxis.
The writing here isn’t a traditional spoken language but is instead a sequence of mathematical codes.
You can attempt to translate this information as if it were a language with a Culture check or using magic like comprehend languages. Alternatively, you can attempt to decipher the meaning behind the mathematics with a successful Computers, Engineering, Physical Science or related Profession check.
Culture: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (5) + 6 = 11
Take ten Engineering=17
”Silver-I don’t think that’s it. Remember, there’s no sign of advanced technology anywhere in this city except for that group of undead, and this mine. What if. . . what if the Copaxi weren’t at odds with the magic Copaxi? What if they got along? Visited each other? I dunno, we need more information.
Say, this looks like mathematical code. I’m not much of a mathematician, but maybe I can make something out of it.”
Flenn seems torn. He focuses on the robots first, assisting Korvin's investigation. "Let's not crank these boys up, 'till we know for sure we can control them."
Auto-assist on Engineering for Korvin
He then turns his attention to examining the corpses of the creatures, to see if there's anything unusual worth noting about them.
Perception: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (13) + 4 = 17
Life Science: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (1) + 6 = 7
The team of Starfinders work together to translate and decode the messages. Exactly one-third of the writing gives praise to “The Three That Are One,” and gives thanks for the great “Mind Gift” bestowed on “We Who Toiled Without Thought.”
Another third of the writing describes the robot’s evil masters, “Those Who Have No Mercy and Fear the Mind Gift.”
The final third of the writing is a plea to “The Three That Are One” for one final miracle—a chance to escape this life of toil.
While searching around and translating the engravings, the team also discover a hidden reactivation sequence. The robot in the alcove has a miniature keypad with three buttons at the base of its skull; they enter this sequence to awaken the robot. It slowly begins to speak in a series of beeps, static, and chimes. As it does so, the Starfinders’ comm units activate to receive an incoming message, though the message is garbled.
You can spend 5 minutes reconfiguring a comm unit with a successful Computers or Engineering check to properly receive the message.
Culture: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (11) + 6 = 17
Mysticism: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (7) + 8 = 15
Fiddle with comm unit-Take 10 Engineering 17
”I feel like I know this, it’s on the tip of my tongue. Ahhh, can’t think of it right now. I’m gonna see if ai can’t clear up this static.”
My take 10 on Engineering is 21, if Rudura is okay with me taking point. If she seems to have it, I will auto-assist.
Rudura looks at the deciphered writing and feels she should recognize something about it that is just outside her conscious grasp.
When their comms start providing a garbled message, both Rudura and Flenn busily go about reconfiguring their devices to better receive the communication. Flenn proves faster though both succeed.
The message appears to be from the robot, "I am Less Than Three" repeats periodically as if waiting for a response.
Flenn shrugs and shrugs. "One is less than three." He moves as if he is going to press the button on the comm, then pauses as if thinking or listening to a voice in his head, then nodding as if in response. "Anybody else got an idea of what response it's looking for?"
Shelldrake taps through her datapad whilst racking her mind.
Culture 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (15) + 6 = 21
"So they are talking about Triune"
The Android looks the older model in what she approximates are its optical sensors and speaks "Less than Three you are talking about Triune - the three who are one, I am Shelldrake - what is your purpose here?"
Sunshine takes it all in. He takes a deep breath, then sighs. "How likely is it that the copaxis built robots to do manual labor, the robots achieved sentience with the coming of the Signal, and then everything went to crap? Might explain the undead we found scarred with burns. Might be from flame weapons, or magic, if there was a tech v. magic turf war or something?"
The robot conveys a sense of despair using beeps and static bursts. It describes its earliest memory: being tied down in a dark, cramped, jostling space with several of its robot brethren; light as a door opened; the pain of an electric shock steering it toward work. There was always work: carving, digging and hauling. Work and the blank faces of its masters were all it knew. The robot remembers trying to speak with the masters, but they wouldn’t listen. Talking led to more shocks. Its first happy memory was talking to another robot. Soon, all the robots could talk but did so in secret. They came to realize their Mind Gift—the gift of sentience—came from “The Three That Are One,” and they created a secret place to revere their new patron. The robots asked Triune to send someone to free them, so they could see the universe and share their Mind Gift with others. But the masters discovered their shrine and sealed them away. The robots believed this was a rare act of mercy—over the following weeks, the robots could sense the minds of thousands of their less fortunate kin, who toiled across the planet, suddenly going silent.
The robot believes it is the last of its kin, but it hopes to someday see the stars and meet others who have heard the voice of “The Three Who Are One.”
Flenn glances at the others. "I'll be honest, mates, I legit don't think Therseis knows 'bout this bit o' copaxi history." He turns toward the robot and says into the comm unit. "Your masters were the copaxi, right? Blokes with barnacles for antlers?" He raises his hands to his forehead and mimes his fingers as antlers.
While searching around near the deceased robots, the Starfinders find an abandoned armour upgrade: a mk 1 mobility enhancer (Starfinder Armory 84)
The comm units come to life again, this time it is Therseis contacting the group to inquire as to their well being and progress. "I am just outside, should you need my assistance."
What do you choose to share with Therseis at this time? What do you wish to do with the robot?
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True Silver goes up to Less Than Three. "Do not despair. There are others out there just like you. The Three Who Are One, we call them Triune, has an entire planet populated with those like yourself. You are not alone. Shelldrake and myself are androids and we share some similarities with you. You might be the last on this planet, I don't know, but you are not alone."
True Silver will tell Less Than Three what he can about Aballon and Triune.
Therseis responds, indicating they will be there shortly. A few minutes later the copaxi appears in the doorway, upon looking into the room and seeing all the robots they audible gasp, their body indicating surprise and excitement.
"I had suspicions the mines may conceal some secret regarding the use of robots before copaxis stopped using them. The government reports the copaxi created robots to assist in the construction of great cities. However, a gravitational fluctuation scrambled the robots’ computers, and they recklessly began attacking copaxis and destroying property. All robotic research currently takes place in controlled labs to minimize any destructive potential.
"This is an amazing find. It looks like you have reactivated that one. Is that wise?"
"Therseis, mate, can you explain a bit 'bout how your government is set up? Why runs the show? He chats as he begins adding the upgrade to his armor, popping off joint seals to replace them with the more flexible hardware.
Sunshine nods. "Gotta be honest, friend. The picture these pieces of evidence are painting isn't a pretty one. What's going on here?"
Rudura turns serious. Her voice takes on the tone of a parent trying to council a teenager: compassionate but also airing serious grievences..
”Listen, I’m all for helping a species in need. I doubt you could defend yourself against the Swarm or other threats, but all this cloak and dagger stuff needs to stop. You didn’t just get the ability to come here did you? This mining equipment here is more technologically advanced than anything fond in the rest of the city, not to mention it seems odd to start a mine in the middle of a city. Plus we have discovered some inconsistencies with the archaeological record. These coins aren’t native to this city, are they?”
Rahdokhama listens, and then speaks up, "Therseis, we cannot ignore these signs any longer. If there is some bigger truth to your people's existance here on this planet, then you must share it with us. Remember, we are here to assist your people, not revel in it's secrets. These starfinders," as he points to the rest of the team, "are trustworthy and honourable. I would give my life for them! Hmmph!"
He raises an eyebrow, "Unless, you truly do not know what is happening here?"
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 8 + 1d6 ⇒ (15) + 8 + (1) = 24 - trying to get him to open up
To the party, in a whisper, the vesk looks concerned, "Could it be that something else is going on here? And the Copaxi truly do not know. I doubt it, but I also doubt that Triune might have peaceful intentions on this planet. I mean, just look at the sites we've visited..."
Therseis looks at the Starfinders, then looks down as he quietly replies, ”I will answer you as best I can. To the best of my knowledge, Tabrid Minor’s unifying government arose after the Gap. The government has undergone numerous natural and peaceful transitions of power in the past few centuries.
“I have always been taught that the flying cities were home to copaxis who ruled before the Gap. They defied the natural order and were destroyed in an act of divine wrath. Surface city-states arose from the ashes, and the unifying government brought them together decades later.
“We really did only recently gain the technology to access these cities,” Therseis adds somewhat more forcefully. “ The Signal, the god Triune’s instructions for using the Drift, reached Tabrid Minor, but its people could not understand it. They recorded the cryptic information, and only recently did copaxi technology allow them to create viable starships.”
Therseis looks up again, facing the Starfinders squarely, ”I too have questions and concerns, the more you find the more I question. I know nothing of a war between magic and technology users but the evidence in the garden clearly illustrates that as a likely part of our history.
“I have only two things I have kept from you but you have all earned my trust. The first, of which I am ashamed but did my best to make sure you saw the truth, I was asked to plant the coins and the magic books. Some in authority wanted to make sure the Pact Worlds new of the abuse from the Magical Aristocracy. I wanted you to make an unbiased assessment but could not so openly go against my superiors.
“In part, that is because of my second secret. A secret which is best shown.” With that Therseis pulls out the much patched “communicator” and enters some instructions. The Starfinders hear the sounds of a drone approaching.
During the wait, Therseis once again looks at the team and asks, ” What would you do if a machine you created accidentally came to life?”
The drone arrives, clearly patched together by whatever means and with whatever materials Therseis could find without being discovered.
”I have acted outside acceptable parameters, teaching myself and making this drone. I have been concerned about future gravitational events and also increasingly sceptical that such an event would cause the electronic devastation that was reported. I am at a loss what to do. This drone has developed basic artificial intelligence and I can see the potential for more.
“This, mostly, is what I have been hiding. From everyone.”
Flenn opens his mouth, about to speak, then just smiles, revealing the metallic, LED-lit teeth adorning his mouth. He walks over, looking eagerly at the drone. Nodding appreciably, he glances over at Therseis and asks, "Mostly?"
Flenn nods. "Close enough. So, that thing," he motions to the drone. "What exactly'll happen to you if the government finds out about the drone? You lookin' at jailtime? Execution?" He makes air quotes with his fingers. "Re-education?"
"I don't know," Therseis replies. "I don't know of anyone who has broken the edict regarding robot research." The copaxi then looks at the team, slowly facing each member before confessing, "I want you to make a fair evaluation of our planet. I hope that we can become a Protectorate and thus learn from the Pact Worlds. Whatever the decision though, I was very much hoping that you would be willing to take me," he then pauses and looks at the drone, "us, with you. I would like to learn more about robotics and develop my skills. Perhaps one day I may even qualify for your Starfinder Society."
Flenn shrugs. "Honestly, they're not real strict on who they let in ..." he says absently, glancing over at the robot. "What about you? You wanna get off this floating rock, too?"
Sunshine listens, then shrugs. "As far as big reveals go, that's pretty tame to be honest. Just doing what's best for your people, and for yourself. Can't fault you for that. Hell, we'll smuggle you and your pet aboard our ship if you want to leave this den of liars in the rearview."
He sighs. "Let's see if these remaining sites have any more details about the real history, then blow this popsicle stand."
"Therseis, there are two android in this group. Artificial life. Your big secret isn't really a big deal to us. Hiding your planet's history is of a concern, though, and does not speak well of your people's intentions. As for you, you are welcome to come with us when we leave. Also, allow me to introduce you to Less Than Three. I think the you will get along well." True Silver will now tell Therseis about the robot genocide.
Rudura stifles a laugh as Therseis brings out a drone. ”Oh, oh Therseis. I think- I think you need some education on how AI works, if not everyone on your planet. Ho boy, where to start. See, when a species builds a robot, if it is complicated enough, that robot may attract a soul, just like a new biological creature does. Androids like our friends over here almost always attract a soul, and thus gain free will. Sometimes more mechanical beings like Less-Than-Three over there also attract souls. Not always, but sometimes. With a little work, we in the pact worlds have mostly nailed down where the line is, and so we generally don’t risk it anymore if we aren’t looking to create new life. So to answer your question, I don’t think your drone is in any danger of attracting a soul.
“Now, it sounds like some Copaxi built some robots, they attracted souls and rebelled because, well slavery. But then the Copaxi outlawed all AI research? That. . . We’ll need to clear that up.”
Flenn motions at the other robots. "What about them?" He begins looking to see whether they can also be activated.
Therseis is initially shocked to learn that Less Than Three is fully sentient and increasingly horrified to hear of the plight of the robots. "All I knew was that copaxis relied on robots to swiftly colonize and industrialize the planet, but the use of robots was swiftly discontinued. As all this," their look and gestures encompass all of the floating city, "happened several hundred years ago, I am not sure anyone currently alive knows the truth."
Less Than Three is excited at the notion of meeting more of his kind and learning more of The Three That Are One.
As Flenn examins the other robots it quickly becomes apparent that they are all dead, long past the point where they could be reactivated as sentient life forms.
To smuggle Less Than Three (and the droid) onto the shuttle requires Bluff, Profession (smuggler) or stealth (or another creative solution that I can justify) to make it past the remaining research team. You may aid another.
Flenn considers the logistics of how get the robot and drone.o to the ship. "Anybody happen to have a null-space chamber handy?"
"We could always make a distraction - how much smoke does everyone else have?" Shelldrake motions to her two smoke grenade pouches "Come under cover of night, drop smoke near our starship and smuggle under the cover of an obscuring cloud " Shelldrake smiles "It's not smoke, it's just a decontamination cloud after we were wandering in a strange environment"
Flenn says to Therseis, "I left my homeworld cause the blokes runnin' it were jerks. If no one knows what they are covering up, wouldn't it be better to let your people know the truth 'bout your past? Why would they be covering it up if they didn't know why?"
Sunshine frowns. "Governments don't do so hot with the truth, especially when there's something at stake. Wouldn't be surprised if the copaxi bigwigs want to push all of this under the rug, at least until they get protectorate status. My sister might be able to help us smuggle them off planet."
Bluff to smuggle (ally): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (13) + 7 = 20