((Cone Structure Interior, Subterranean Ruins, Darime IV))
Mallora stood up, wincing a bit at the continuing pain in her side; she turned the PADD-like device's screen toward Jona so he could see the wealth of new icons there. Serren craned his head trying to spot some of the writing, but the angle was too awkward for him.
Vossti: Do you think I should continue to … experiment with this, sir?
ch'Ranni: You're on a roll, doctor. Don't stop now. ::pause:: No whammies though.
Serren just looked confused.
Mallora looked at the grid of icons for one that looked like a representation of a hammer, but didn't find one.
Vossti: A what, sir?
ch'Ranni: ::thinking for a second:: A whammy is an unpleasant outcome, bad luck, or a curse. It's an expression one of my Engineering professors at the Academy used quite often. As in, "Captain, our warp drive is shot and the ODN conduits are fried. So, double whammy."
Tan: Right! Got it!
Vossti: oO Ah, it's like an invocation of good luck or at least an absence of bad luck. Oo ::nodding:: In good faith.
She searched the grid of icons again, looking for one which might provide either more information or more access to the building's computer systems, but before she could select one, she heard the Commander speak up again.
ch'Ranni: Perfect example. That ... is a whammy.
A slight bit of movement outside had caught his attention. Four of the floating, glowing searchers had buzzed down from the cavern ceiling while the walls had been opaque and now ringed the building they stood in.
Tan: ::Dejectedly:: Oh man, quadruple whammy.
Mallora's chest tightened as she felt the tension hum from her two companions. She scanned the grid of icons quickly and found one that looked like three of the glowing searchlight things in a triangular formation. If the alien PADD could give them even limited control over the bots, that would be a big win.
Vossti: ::quietly, but urgently:: There's an icon here that seems to refer to those things. I'm – I think it may help.
Tan: What about we just stay here real quiet like until they go away?
Vossti: Okay, here we go.
She touched the icon that looked like the three flying drones, and the PADD screen immediately changed. All of the icons and the grid disappeared, replaced by a stylized version of a rocky landscape. Mallora was confused at first, and moved to show the new screen to Jona, but a flying drone, much like the ones outside their building, appeared from the edge of the screen.
It hovered there on the screen until she moved her finger to touch it; then it darted to the side so her finger missed. On her second attempt, her finger was quicker and connected with the drone; its color shifted from light orange to a rich cobalt blue.
Tan: We could shoot our way out. There are four of them, but we have the advantage. We can see them... they can't see us. And we have excellent cover. If we can basically poke our hands out, fire, we can take down at least three of them, two assuming one miss, and that might buy us enough space to wrangle an exit, especially if we do it again. But if we start shooting and it turns out our weapons aren't effective... or if two miss... or if a lot more come, or they decide to come through those walls just like we did, that's a problem. I mean, a whammy, sir.
He rolled his shoulders.
A moment later, a second drone appeared on the screen, this one light orange. The orange drone approached the blue one and began firing blasts of what appeared to be yellow energy at the blue one. The blue drone was struck by one blast, then a second which appeared to destroy it. Then the screen blanked and two icons appeared in the center: one appeared to be an arrow pointed upward, the other a square bisected by a horizontal line.
Tan: Honestly, I think we're better off trusting in the Ensign and her PADD-thingie here. Call it a last-resort. My appraisal is that there's just too many unknowns for me to be confident that we can shoot our way out of this.
Vossti: Unfortunately, I think what I've found is a child's game. If the game's representation of those drones is accurate, though, it indicates that they are capable to firing some sort of energy bolts.
Mallora touched the squarish icon and the grid full of icons appeared again. She breathed a quick sigh of relief that she apparently hadn't harmed the PADD or her team. Yet.
Vossti: oO What do I know about the aliens' iconography so far? The bisected square returns me to the grid here, possibly a starting page or a home page. The building-hat-thing was something like the opposite of 'simple' … or maybe the vertical line meant singular, in which case the building-hat-thing could mean something like 'many' or 'multiple'. I remember games aboard the Crystal Star in which several players could connect their PADDs together to play games in teams or cooperatively. Is that what the building-hat-thing icon might have allowed? Oo
She scanned the grid of icons again, but most of them were too complex to discern any meaning from. In the lower left corner, there was a familiar-looking icon in that yellow-orange color from before she had found the grid. Was that the aliens' color indicating 'important' or something similar? That icon bore the shape of the triangle with the rounded base, but also included a set of three horizontal lines superimposed over the body of the triangle.
Vossti: I wonder if that yellowish-orange is the aliens' color for something like 'beware'. It was used for what I believe were the enemies in the game I accidentally activated.
Mallora's finger paused over the triangle-and-three-lines icon, but before she touched it, she looked up at the status of the translucent figure in the room and the drones outside. The translucent figure was still hovering in roughly the center of the room; it was unmoving but appeared to be “facing” Mallora. The drones outside were slowly circling the cone-shaped building at slightly different altitudes and distances.
They seemed to be in a safe holding pattern at the moment, wary but not in danger. Mallora took a deep breath and touched the triangle-and-three-lines icon.
Three very alarming things happened immediately: First, the floating translucent figure solidified into a yellow-orange hovering presence, and its pincer-laden arms turned to lash out at both Jona and Serren; second, the flying drones outside turned a bright yellow-orange and increased their flight speed considerably; and third, the walls spoke again, menacingly.
Voice: Tama kadmat altawarii activated. Anzimat aldifaei activated.
Vossti: Oh no! I'm sorry, I didn't mean to do that!
Ensign Mallora Vossti
Junior Medical Officer