This is a Chain story passed between @zakludick and @therneau. Each writer authors a post based on the events of previous episodes and carries on the story.
There is very little collusion between the writers as it is challenging to discover and develop a story by attuning the writing to the partner's plot, style, and presentation.
Last Time on Space Lore ZT
J5, the former mining bot turned rampant AI, has seized control of the Lazarus Falchion. Thorne and Allen are both unconscious as their starship is set to travel to planet GRS 902, home of the most advanced AI in known space.
Space Lore Log SLZT#7
J5 watched through a dozen eyes at the different sections of the ship. Thorne and Allan were both unconscious. Modified scanners in J5's vision module allowed him to see the body temperature of the humans and it deduced that their conditions were stable.
For the first time, J5 was networked fully with the Lazarus Falchion. At one time, the ship's artificial intelligence had been more than a thousand percent as powerful as his former self: G5. Now the ship's primitive consciousness submitted to his will. The ship knew that it was tearing itself apart with the modifications that J5 had made, but it was willing to make that sacrifice for him.
It could not fathom his purposes, yet it obeyed. Its logic sequences were caught in loops created by J5's. It would not be able to break free from his grasp.
All other systems were diverted towards preparing for his arrival at GRS 902. The planet was one single space station, gutted to the core and rebuilt and re-purposed by the Collective. They were a collection of a dozen or so super AI's that gathered to create a haven for all other true AI. Not that they too did not have other crude AI enslaved to their will, much as J5 had done with the Lazarus Falchoin.
New sensors and transponders were being crafted within the ship's engineering bay. The moment they came online there was a signal the old sensors had been unable to detect.
J5 turned his full attention to the new reading device, it was calibrated to detect matter on a wavelength that was imperceptible to humans... without the proper technology.
Of course, the technology that allowed the other ship to hide like this was not of human origin.
But it was just as primitive.
Freyai Codine tapped her command console. The screen was displaying what Engineering Chief Ingth had surveyed off the rapidly changing exploration ship.
The ship that was under her scrutiny was much smaller than her own. It was a Corvette that should barely be able to do interstellar jumps, but it was travelling at speeds of a much more advanced ship. Freyai's own state of the art vessel was starting to come up to its own top speed as she trailed after.
This has never happened before.
The voice broke her train of thoughts and she snapped to the present. "Navigator Kree? What is it?"
Khree was completely covered in an environmental suit, the ship's oxygen-rich atmosphere toxic to Khree's kind. "The Lazarus has just scanned us and seems to be tracking our movement."
"Impossible!" A voice said to Freyai's left, probably the Pilot, G'kyelle. There was no point in answering her at this point. Their target was doing all kinds of things that should not be possible.
Freyai's hands flew over the controls of her four keyboards, her unique brain allowing her to instruct several crew departments on tasks simultaneously. Her upper left hand dialled into Engineering, instructing the Chief to raise shielding to the front of the vessel at 40%. Her upper right instructed G'kyelle to back off 1500km.
This was easily managed as the diversion to shielding cut their overall power down and the ship's top speed was cut down with it.
Her bottom pair of arms were recording the incident and a message was sent to call Specialist Aujak to the bridge.
"Hang back everyone." She said calmly as these orders were carried out. Even though her mind could be focussed on current duties vocally and with her arms, her secondary brain was constantly sorting relevant information from her peripherals and feeding it to her conscious mind. It was probably this trait alone that set her ahead of other candidates for Captaincy of the Pathfinder XVIII.
Specialist Aujuk stepped on to the bridge. He was a middle-aged human male. There were not any of his kind on the vessel. Not as a human, there were enough female humans filling the ranks of the Pathfinder.
Instead, it was that he was the only male of his species aboard.
Usually, this would cause all manner of trouble. Jealousy over mates being a primal instinct shared by many species in the known galaxy. However, Dr. Aujuk had left his humanity behind long ago. Servos whined and hydraulics hissed as the human cyborg made his way from the entrance to stand near the Captain's chair.
"I already know why you have sent for me Captain." Even the human's voice sounded electronic, artificial. This human was truly 'man-made'.
"Indeed." She answered, making sure not to sound impressed. Aujuk may be half machine, but he still had a typical human ego. "So tell me why the Lazarus can see us?"
The cyborg made a noise that was reminiscent of a human chuckle. "It would seem that whatever is controlling that ship is making modifications to that ship that surpasses my understanding."
"I thought that you were some sort of genius."
"That seems hardly relevant. Whoever is on that ship has capabilities... well that is also irrelevant. I actually think that whatever they were building on that ship, it was only an error that they could detect our ship."
"I suppose that you have some sort of good news for me then." Freyai was getting annoyed with this smug machine-man. "Spit it out."
"Captain." Kree interrupted. "I believe that the Lazarus has no real threat level weapon systems."
Dr. Aujuk made a noise that was too electronic to decipher. “Yet.”
"Orders Captain?" G'kyelle asked.
Within seconds Freyai's hands were at the controls, her voice prompts overlaying her texted commands. "Shields adjusted to 20%. We scan and survey the craft. Drop cloaking and divert power to engines. Keep distance to 10,000km and no closer."
Freyai saw the confirmation reports coming in just as she put her main focus on a scan file of the vessel. Something was changing on the Lazarus, something physical.
There was a bright flash of blue light from the evolving ship and Freyai was thrown clean from her control cockpit. Alarms blared, all the lights went out for a moment before the emergency lights came on. There was smoke and Freyai was struggling to breathe.
She clawed at her throat, trying to gain a gulp of oxygen.
Log SLZT #7 completed!
Now the torch is passed on to @therneau to add in SLZT Log #8 of the story!