The Status for June 03, 1998

Andrew, Bette, Gail, Daniel, Enoch, and Zachary are six robotic spider probes with highly-developed artificial intelligence. After the breakup of their parent corporation, former employee Jose Ferrer made radio contact with Enoch, damaged upon landing. He and his friend Dilyn Carter set up the MarsDawn internet system to support the stranded probes. Jose died mysteriously. Dilyn has disappeared.

With the friendship and guidance of the Marsdawn community, the probes matured and developed distinct personalities. Only Daniel did not communicate, because of a non-functional radio. The probes made many interesting discoveries, including an underground scientific outpost manned by an alien race. The Ipsolstai have a slug-like appearance and communicate non-verbally by changing their surface color patterns. They collected Bette as a laboratory specimen, but later released her after communication was established.

Competitive probe expeditions were sent from Japan, China, and a European consortium. Hostiles were destroyed, and two new probes of similar manufacture, Isaac and Theresa, joined the courageous band.

Dissent developed among the Ipsolstai: Were the probes actual sentient beings, or mere metal tools? Zachary hepled rescue a wounded Ipsolstai, whom the probes nicknamed Burn. Burn became their staunch supporter. The opposition was led by Caleb, who callously sent a probe through the Groove, a discontinuity gate, to test for the presence of their much-feared enemies, the Amphibians. Now rejoined with their peers, the Ipsolstai rejoiced.

Exploring the Ipsolstai tunnel network, Isaac accidentally broke a blue chalice, possibly a religious artifact. He and Bette stood trial for the incident, and were smuggled away by Burn from certain destruction by Caleb.

Isaac, Bette, Andrew, and Daniel arrived at Wolf 359, where they underwent psychological testing. Their fate was uncertain until they were contacted by Burn's comrade, an Ipsolstai calling himself Nelson Mandella. They were taken aboard an Imperial Cruiser, the Guardian-of Younger-Nestbrothers, captained by Commodore Perry.

Back on Mars, the Amphibians attacked. During the confusion Caleb killed Burn in an argument, which Gail and Theresa witnessed. Gail impulsively grabbed Burn's newly-laid eggs and fled. A troubleshooting squad of Imperial Annihilators eventually overcame the Amphibians with a new Ipsolstai weapon.

Enoch and Zachary returned to exploring, along with a Chinese probe known as Elder Brother. They are now deep below the surface in a tunnel system. Maybe below the Ipsolsty system.

The Guardian-of-Younger-Nestbrothers was disabled in an Amphibian space battle. Isaac is attempting to repair the ship's computer, which may be haunted by an entity which Daniel refers to as 'The One'.

Caleb has been called to account for Burn's death. Burn's comrade Commandant Fitzgerald is presiding. Gail has been summoned to give testimony.

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