Lady Annara had won the argument, it had been a close the. The majority of the council had called for the distraction of the light bringer at a radio black out to try and stop what ever it was doing. But she had had a feel, a hunch from the time her mind had been in the ship. The argument had raged, and she had worked on their fears and weakness.
"What could it do it do" "we could anger a greater power, retaliation may come"
The the ship info came in, it could take out every thing if stopped. That had given her the stick she needed. It's slowed them down, there would be no agreement in time.
Finely the broadcast. One thing hit them. Danger! Big nasty and out to get them at any time. The war military reps on the council just about cane in their pants over that one. More plant GDP going there way and power in a real live war. The industrials like her could see the credit signs. The science reps just poured over the Xeon implication, not one but two news races. In other words they where hooked, with the jump point found and an IA + ship full of tech! the long night would be over. She had stopped them, now she joined in the excited, worried, hurried debate. "A new Navy would have to be created" she pointed that out from the get go. "The planet would be on a war footing from this moment" agreement on that from all sides on that suggestion. "This would mean building an industrial military complex" more nodding as she dropped this into the debate, that was the industrials on side, and finally. "Of course new research institutions would have to be built to study the new tech and Xeon implications, there was after all a large amount of data pour over" that got the science reps on side. At one point one of the politically high members made move for the meeting to go closed council wile the thrashed out the new taxation. Implementation needed, she and the others giving expert advice logged out of the session. She got text saying, "be on call ready should the council need you" and that was that. She had won, and they had in the end got what they wanted.
She felt drained, but happy, yes a danger out there, but an "out there." A chance to be part of something bigger. Well now they needed to dock.
"Captain can you get me a ship to ship link with the Light bringer please"
Just a note, things aren't going to move quite that fast. :) However, a lot of things would have come up and been discussed, from building ships to blowing up the warp points to keep the hostile aliens out.
EDIT LAST POST TO THIS, Ok MDT, missed the edit point but how about this, three debit points, with her talking in each one.- Edit to slow things up
Lady Annara worked, they wanted to shoot the Light bringer out the back. It had been a very close, the majority of the council had called for the destruction of the light-bringer with a blanketed radio blackout. She had stalled them, playing on the groups weakness, bringing up things that kept them talking and not shooting. But why, why had she done this, it was simple she had had a feel, a hunch from the time her mind had been at the ship, she had felt fear yes but hope. The stall worked and then she waited.
What came next was the ship info came in, it could take on the whole systems defiance systems if it so wanted. She was angrily called name, she was to blame for the delay. This thing now could not be stopped, her career was over some even called for jail even the exaction as a traitor. Such was the anger at her, But she let them rage and begged the stars that the LightBringer said something to help her.
More waiting then
Then the broadcast came, she was saved,
It started a s***t storm over the wire, but she acted fast even while it was still sending she sent massages to select members of the council. It was her life on the line now, they had to forget what she had done to trick them and move on, on to what was now in front of them. A clear and present danger with all the opportunity’s that went with such knowledge would offer. Some would want to hide, blast the jump point and go back to things as normal. Short sighted and pointless. But it was the one big thing that hit them that made some think this way, Danger! Big nasty and out to get them at any time.
Her hope was the military group on the council, She could see them thinking as the message from outside came in. her mind raced, they would talk fear and worry, she would need to outline the opportunity’s as fast as she could. Some where with her already, the smart ones, they could see what she could. More power and System GDP going to the military, The industrials like her would need to aid the arm up, new contracts, new plants and tech more money. The political group would need to be show Jobs and taxs, The Empire was back and they worked as a team. The science types would need to poured over the Xeon implication, not one but two news races. In other words they could be hooked, moved for hiding to expanding. With a new jump point and a helpful IA + ship full of tech! the long night would be over. But they would have to win this argument, two sides, the close the door group the other Kick the door down group. This meant a way back in, she now started a excited, worried, hurried debate, she would be a Kick the door downer
To the fleet admiral "This would of course I agree mean a need for a new Navy to be created, should ask for funds, my fellow industrials will help. Could we get the politicals to agree, sold with new jobs and taxs. LA" .
To the Army head, "The planet will need to be on a war footing from this moment, We could blast the jump point then go back to noraml lower level of troop numbers, mind you of we kept the gate open, we would have to keep a high level of readiness and of course high troop number. Feel Admiral is has an idea for a new Navy. This can be sold to the publics as a new great adventure LA"
To the head of the Industrial group "If they blast the jump point there will be no need to build an industrial military complex to service the new Interstellar-Navy being talked about. My family will be offering full support to a Interstellar-Navy and keeping the jump point intact. We should set up a meeting and see who we can best asses contracts to maximise our effects to add our world. This would not be a cartel, gods for bid, no this would be a planning group, you understand. LA "
The head of the science council "Of course if they blast that gate there would be no need for any new research institutions. I have talked with my fellow industrialists and they are very keen to pay for reserch into the jump points use and the information on new tech we will need to use it. Also the new Interstellar-Navy being talked about will new such research, I can see how you and your fellows will be in great demand with an open gate in place.
Then last of all to the political members, “If we blast that jump point we will be safe and you will be remembered as the ones who closes the door. But know that talk is under way for a new Interstellar-Navy, backed by the industrial complex and science community. We could mine the Jump point but not blow it. Meaning we can have out cake and eat it. With new industrial growth, the jobs and taxs from witch will pay for this. New research centres and teams working on new tech. Influence and growth with one aim, to protect the planet and re-enter the Interstellar community, in other words power for years to come and a legacy that will never be forgot”
As she sent her messages she could see the affect, her own words coming back at her, used by others, they would be the ones remembered for saying thing, but she did not care, a short while ago her head was on the black. Now she was back. Influencing the powers that be and they would not forget. What would come of her intervention who knows, but she had done all she could, Some would have thought of what she has of course but, but just sending a conformation of their thoughts would help her politically. Then it was over, she and the others giving expert advice where asked to log out of the session. The counsel was not in closes session but as she was logging off more than one message came back to her. “We will talk more” “Like minds” “My thinking as well Lady Annara”
“I will set up a meeting” There was no name on that last one, humm?? was that good news.
She logged off, All she could do now was hope her words worked.
She felt drained, but happy, yes a danger out there, but there was now an "out there" to see. A chance to be part of something bigger.
Ok GM her hope is to get back in good books, and get her influence back after tricking the council. :) also left a plot hook, who wants to meet her ... To other players, this is what she dos, try to not get the PC side lined, with I hope influence she can ask for you guys to be a team.
Vathan returns to Ceres with his gun and electronic toolkit as the broadcast begins. He sets the toolkit down and slings his rifle into a comfortable position while listening intently. When it finishes, he says
"That's something you don't see everyday. I guess we won't be using any explosives today. And what about that wolfman and bug-thing?"
"It's a Vargr, one of the major races of the Emp...Confederation I suppose... From what I have read they favor personal loyalty to legal structures. All of that is theoretical at this point." Doctor Ziirkaa looks up from the screens. "Who knows what has changed."
Ziirkaa looks at Vathan oooozing superiority as he speaks. "The "bug thing" as you describe it does appear to be something new;" He returns to his normal lecturing rather than condescending tone, betraying just a quiver of fear,"and I am more than a little concerned about it's references to levels of insanity in humans."
He swivels back to the console, light reflecting off the dark circles under his eyes. "Lightbringer, Please be so kind as to bring up whatever you have about the Heeethee race, sociology, politics and history."
Holt watched, eyes wide, at the message being directed to the ships screens. The implications of everything sent her mind into a flurry.
There is a whole galaxy opening up to us… a sea of endless black dotted with celestial miracles. And I might get to see it! This… is greater than anything I ever imagined to see come from this mission…
Still staring at the screen, Holt says ”In one moment, Earth; in the next, Heaven.” After a brief pause, she adds ”Academician Prokhor Zakharov, in his book ‘For I Have Tasted the Fruit’, speaking of mans ascent into space, and how suddenly it came. And I can’t help but feel we are experiencing it again...”
Heeetheee are a race of sentient organoborate based creatures with superficial resemblance to earth insects. While Heeetheee use Boranes for internal chemical energy and in their open circulatory system to restructure internal reinforcements, their biochemestry is safe in standard environments due to a ready fixation of iron and other metals in their bodies, allowing them to keep such biology stable in a standard atmosphere.
Heeetheee home planet is an inhospitable planet heavy in boron, with a reducing atmosphere heavy in hydrogen sulfide. The planetary biosphere is extremely hostile to carbon based life. Heeetheee survive the acidic atmosphere by fixing silicon, iron, and other metals into their boron exoskeletons. Heeetheee exoskeletal structure is almost as hard as tungsten alloys of the same thickness, but remains flexible.
Heeetheee do not breath, their bodies using anaerobic rather than aerobic methods for energy promulgation. They do communicate using sound, but generate the sound by rubbing their mandibles against each other or striking them against each other.
Despite the hostility of the Heeetheee biosphere, Heeethee brains are more similar to silicon based systems than carbon based systems, and their biology leaves them with very few extreme emotions. While capable of violence, Heeetheee are inherently a highly calculating and rational species. Culturally, Heeetheee find most carbon based lifeforms to be insane. Heeetheee are very mathematical in their outlooks, and as a species guage everything from natural phenomenon to social interaction in degrees of probability.
Heeetheee find humans, especially, to be racially suicidal, even while they find individuals have varying degrees of sanity. Heeethee believe humans are unique in that other races show rationality in groups that they do not show in individuals, but humans show insanity in groups and rationality in individuals.
Heeetheee find human methods of exploration and research insane, with little or no safeguards taken. However, they acknowledge that humans have advanced faster with their insanity than Heeetheee have with their careful and considered research. One reason the Heeethee gave for requesting a full alliance was to offer humans 'rationality' in exchange for human 'insanity creativeness'.
Holt turns to Lady Annara, responding "I haven't heard anything, but then again, they have been locked out of the Lightbringer up until recently. They're probably busy talking with people above my pay grade..." Holt smiles and adds "They'll talk when they are ready or feel it necessary. But if you'd like to open comms with them, feel free to."
"Lightbringer, May we please have guidance and communications control back when you have finished transmitting the Data? There is a functional if outdated station we can dock at. Even if you can't, please put up the astrogation and hyper-physics data packets on the science station. I have so much to catch up on."
He wanders to the medical stores and selects a mildish stimulant to feed into his suit's life support. Passing the portable com system he notices the attention signal from the Dawn. He is about to ignore it, but finally decides it will be worth mentioning to the crew.
"It appears Lady Annara is trying to reach us. I shall be working. If you have time, I am sure that she feels she has something important to say. Perhaps Lightbringer would be so kind as to put that transmission on the main screen at this point?"
The Doctor makes his stumbling way to the science station, the vac suit protecting him from most of his bangs and collisions as he falls into the acceleration couch and sets the privacy screens to give him the least distractions. Ziirkaa's eyes grow wide as the new information and the stimulant take cumulative effect on his mind.
"Secondary communications array active."
The connection is not the best, but the Lightbringer and Dawn can now communicate, as can the Station.
If Ceres and Gomez don't post today, I'll forward us on.
"Light-Bringer this is the Dawn. I hope you are all well and that the Ships IA is looking after you all there. Could you please advise the Station on your ETA. Also after talking to them, the counsel is now holding action wile it debates the implications of the broadcast from your ships AI. Light bringer I would advise checking all your ships systems such as life support, power, life pods just in case."
What she talking about!! you do that any way, your not stupid, silly woman knows nothing.
Is docking part of "moving forward"?
"GAH! Yes I realize I requested the transfer to the main screen." There is a brief pause as the computer speaks on the bridge and it is not picked up by Ziirkaa's open mike.
"No! The whole point was to put the transmission somewhere I didn't have to pay attention to it." another pause "I don't have time for your protocols... I am trying to figure out how to graph a destabilized gavitic N wave, because with N wave tertiary inference that doesn't make any sense."
There is another longer pause and then "WHAT DO YOU MEAN OPEN MIKE?!?!" after another pause. "Lightbringer to Dawn, we don't yet have control, however the AI has become more compliant since the transmission started. For the moment, we are assuming control will be returned once the transmission has ended. We don't seem to be in any danger... yes, I was getting to that... We had over a week to go over the ship systems, and check every one of the captain's little check boxes. Apart from the radiation, this ship is the most technologically advanced, best maintained ship in the system... No offence is intended about the Dawn Captain."
Yep, docking will occur when we move forward. As will disembarkation, parades, long council meetings, several birthdays, etc. Next step requires quite a bit of effort on a system scale, so it'll be a few years.
// 11h, 34m before Transmission
"I realize what their edict means, Doctor. But it is not up to us to choose. That will be the burden of Navy Command and The Council."
With a sigh she nods towards the crate of explosives and tools. Clearly she didn't seem to look forward to the prospect of perhaps having to use them. Mostly, she did seem tired and worn.
"...and our duty is to carry out their decision, should the need arise."
With another sigh she glanced at her timekeeper and placed her gun on the table.
"They have plenty of time to think about it - and I reckon they won't hurry. So we got at the very least a 11 hour wake ahead of us. Whom want a cup of coffee?"
// 2m after Transmission
Ceres was wide awake now. Despite an unhealthy dosage of caffeine the last twelve hours she almost managed to fall asleep a few hours ago. The last thirty minutes until the scheduled transmission she had been walking on pins. But the kill-command newer came trough - and now, when the transmission started, she was fairly certain it wouldn't. Fairly certain.
Instead, she was left listening to the tunes - watching 'live' extra-system creatures well and speaking for the first time in her life on the screen. And, it seemed, probably not the last time. The ship got here somehow! The urge to giggle a bit like a schoolgirl was overpowering - she blamed the late hour.
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (16) + 1 = 17
Ceres glances at the screen over Ziirkaa's shoulder, glad to not be forced to relay on her hand-carried communicator anymore. With a frown she comments to the noble.
"If the Council wanted that - surely they would have moved prior to the Transmission?"
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (17) + 5 = 22
Vathan reclined at an empty station. He had shared coffee with Ceres and was equally buzzed/ready for anything at this point. He closes his eyes after Annara's communication and starts to wonder about his future employment. He had no desire to return to work with her, but the contract ended badly. Would she hurt his future contracts? Probably, because those nobles are usually so sensitive and touchy. He should have known better than trying to play in this social circle. His experiences did not recalibrate his stereotypes of nobles much. Yes, they are people, too. But they have completely different sets of "problems" than regular people.
If I survive this trip, maybe I can somehow stay with this ship. I could broker my experience into something, even though to be honest all I did was carry things. Glorified porter. Couldn't even blow up the ship when the captain wanted to. At least I could know the ship. Need to have some advantage. He gets back up and continues to search the ship for the fourth time trying to memorize every nook and cranny and their purposes.
|Fernán Miguel Gómez|
SM: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (6) + 4 = 10
Fernán considers with a nonchalance the growing sense of political panic and discussions of taking hostile actions against the ship.
"Doña Annara, perhaps I only speak for the common Telthani, but I find this talk of blowing up the ship and gate very unsettling. It has been half a millenia since we have been part of the greater universe. For most of us the hustle of life has become harder and hard. There are many who are poor and disaffected, people who would sell all to gamble at a chance at exploring the universe and becoming something great. It may mean giving up sovereignty to be part of this Solomani Confederation, but if the choice is to fade away into obscurity, I think it is worth it. Conocimiento y verdad nos hace libres, miedo nos atará - knowledge and truth will set us free, fear will bind us."
"I know you are trying your best to sway the council; perhaps you could simply remind them the common man would like to reach for the stars too."
The Lightbringer maintains it's broadcasts as promised for days, before finally ending. As the last duplicate packet of data is broadcast out, the ships systems unlock, and the screens all flash 'LOST COLONY PROTOCOL - COMPLETE'.
Things get VERY interesting after that. By that time, the Dawn has managed to get back to the station, so that the two ships dock almost simultaneously. Oddly enough, there's an old freighter now just off the station, holding position in a stable orbit 1 minute in advance of the station. Tugs jet and flitter around it, 5 of them, obviously several of the mothball'd tugs were repaired while the ships were out.
It takes months to get the populace calmed down enough for decisions to be made. A vote votes to remain in the Confederacy, for now, passing by 83.4%. There are of course, calls to not attempt recontact due to the specter of war, but they are a small minority.
The jump engines of the freighters trapped in the system had been removed and mothball'd many centuries ago, and the only remaining freighter begins a full overhaul and reinstallation, even before the vote, under the Phoenix plans.
The data packets transmitted have legal, medical, and some engineering knowledge. Nothing that's anywhere cutting edge, but much is in advance of what Telthani has currently. It becomes obvious why the search crew could not find technical manuals, physical or electronic. They are top secret due to the war, and heavily encrypted in the ship's data core, to prevent technology from being lost to the enemy. Even repair parts are 'black box' parts, they are designed to be modular, with parts swapped out and in as needed, an odd design to the Telthani. This has the advantage of speeding up repairs and hiding technology methods. But it has the downside of requiring larger ships, larger stores of spare parts, and more expensive ships overall.
Some of the data packets include plans for Jump Scan Drones, designed using various technological levels. Telthani gears up for a massive build of such probes, settling on a design that has the best combination of utility and cheapness. It's one of the larger designs, but the system can crank them out relatively inexpensively. The larger limitation will be fuel and storage of the drones.
Two years after initial contact with the derelict, the first shoal of 30 drones are released, 10 toward the known warp point, 10 toward where the other warp point used to be, and 10 others fired off in pairs to check the 5 highest 'high likelyhood' locations in the system, per the mathematical model that the Heeetheee sent along that analyzes a system and predicts likely warp point locations.
Within 3 months, the first drones confirm the Rovanna warp point, then take up position around it, scanning and refining the warp point's characteristics.
Six months later, the Milthana jump point was confirmed, nearly 400,000 kilometers from it's old position.
Two years later, a third warp point was located, nearly two light hours out from the system primary.
Just weeks after the third warp point was located (by one of the now 200 warp point scan platforms in the system), the Telthani Navy was just gearing up for it's first foray into the unknown.
In addition to gearing up with more Navy personnel, the planet resurrects the Marine Corps, pulling in Army and Navy personnel with a martial bent, cranking out training and equipment.
Due to fears about leading enemies back to the Telthani system, it was decided that all references to Telthani would be removed from the ships, and the crew's belongings. Star maps would be altered to show them as having come from a different solar system entirely. The small fleet would act like merchant traders, exploring new previously undiscovered warp points. For this to work though, the system required more ships, the 3 ships they had were not enough for such an exploration.
As such, the ITV Lightbringer would be sent with it's crew to Milthana, as several freighters had been there to pick up ore before the warp points died.
As the Dawn approaches the dock of the ISS Telthani, Brevet Captain Ophelia Holt opens up the ships comms and says ”Congratulations everyone, we have changed the course of history with this mission. I’m very proud to have served with all of you.” Holt sat back in the command chair and watched as the Dawn glided smoothly into the docking bay, listening to the hum of the engines and the whoosh of the pneumatic docking clamps engaging. Opening up the comms one more time, she announces ”We have docked with the ISS Telthani. Specialist Miller, please gather the rest of your unit and begin proper repairs of the Dawn’s hull. Everyone else should engage in regular docking procedures.”
Holt stands and moves towards Annara and Fernán, shaking both of their hands as she says ”Thanks to both of you for your help on this. It was a pleasure. But if you’ll please excuse me, I must relinquish my rank and return to my duties.” A huge smile on her face, Holt moves to her room, changes back into her jumpsuit, grabs her tools, and heads out to meet Specialist Miller and the rest of her unit. Sure, the jumpsuit isn’t quite proper for her rank, but it is so hard to get oil stains out of a tie.
- - - - -
Ophelia had been pulled off of repairs for debriefing, and she hadn’t exactly been happy about it. She had already sent in her report, but the brass had wanted to directly question her. A couple of hours of reviewing everything that happened, in excruciating detail, later she was released and given time to rest. She had intended to spend that time working on the Dawn’s hull, but the repairs had been done. The welding of one of the new recruits was a little shoddy, and Ophelia had the crew rip the panel off and do it again.
With the repairs done, Ophelia decided that what she really needed was another evening behind the shop, just like back with Durant. Not exactly having an ‘outside’ to do that in on the spacestation, she instead found her way to the ‘designated meeting lounge’: it was a small room that was supposed to be for visiting dignitaries. But because it was one of the few rooms that could handle smoke in the air scrubbers, it mostly ended up as a smoking lounge by the crew.
Ophelia had only been there a few times before, and everytime it had been fairly full for its small size. But it was almost empty now, with all of the various crewmen under emergency procedures. Reaching into her pack, Ophelia withdraw a pipe with a dark wooden bowl and a long steel stem engraved with vines and flowers. Pulling out an airtight tube of tobacco, she examined the pipe while packing it.
I remember when I made this pipe. Durant had told me that there was no way I could make a steel stem that wouldn’t cool the smoke too much and lose the flavor. And he would have been right, had I not baked a ceramic layer on the inside. I can still remember the look on his face when he asked by I managed to bake the ceramic and not melt the steel and I told him I did very thin ceramic layers and coated the steel in chilled mud before baking it. I felt so proud, so satisfied, like I had accomplished something amazing.
Taking out a match, Ophelia holds the pipe between her teeth while she starts to cherry the tobacco. She pulls in a mouthful of smoke, and coos just a little at the tastes of spice and citrus. Melting back into the chair she’s claimed, she slowly lets out the smoke, watching it slowly, heavily swirl through the air.
But this mission, what we did over the last couple of months, it hasn’t satisfied me. No, instead, it has just gotten me started! Before, going out to explore those distant stars was little more than a dream. But with this… there is so much more now… But we are not there yet. If seeing that ship showed me anything, it is just how far behind we are… But we’ll catch up… I’m sure of it!
Ophelia continued to watch the swirling smoke, like nebulae swirling in space, trying to imagine all of the things that are to come.
- - - - -
In the following months Ophelia and the other crew of the Dawn had become like minor celebrities, with lots of requests for interviews and statements and even product endorsements. Some of the other crew seemed to like the attention, but Ophelia found it fairly embarrassing. The only two interviews she did were one for a press conference that the Navy asked of her, and the other was for the local newspaper in her hometown.
When she returned for leave, her hometown even held a festival in her honor, unveiling a statue of her to sit in front of the library. The newspaper sold her story as that of a small town girl that, through courage, perseverance, and curiosity, risked her own life to bring the planet out of a modern dark age. Ophelia thought that this was all over the top, and continued to insist that her role was not nearly as influential as they said.
She enjoyed most of that night: getting to see her parents again, seeing Durant, who was getting older but still seemed quite fit, and enjoying some of the small country luxuries that she had missed. But that night she still heard whispers between people who talked of the greater war going on. And at one point a pair of drunk men approached her, telling her to remember that she was personally responsible for any blood shed if an invasion were to occur.
Ophelia wasn’t sure how to feel about those sentiments. She had heard the same idea said in the news, but this was the first time that someone had said it directly to her. She didn’t believe it to be true, but she still felt bad about it, worried about what she may have indirectly released upon them.
And while she put it out of her mind, part of her prayed that she would never be made to regret what she had participated in.
- - - - -
The University was abuzz with renewed interest and with mounds of research to do, especially when the Navy started farming out research projects. Ophelia wanted to get as deep into these new techs as she could, and that just wasn’t going to happen maintaining the ISS Telthani. So Ophelia applied for an extended sabbatical to attend The University.
Normally, sabbaticals were only for a year, maybe two, but Ophelia was asking for four, enough to get her Doctorate. The Navy command, seeing this as a great way to use Ophelia’s newly gained reputation to lure in new recruits and gain some good PR, decided to approve her sabbatical. But one of the conditions of her sabbatical is that she act as a Naval representative, reporting her research directly back to the Navy.
She was made the research assistant of Dr. Timur Alkaev, an intelligent man that had spent a lifetime studying the ISS Telthani and the method of its construction. He also had been unable to keep a research assistant for more than a year or two due to his abrasive personality. Ophelia was intimidated, but excited to study under one such as him.
So, having been given her orders, she packed her things and flew back to Telthani University.
- - - - -
Two days after she had arrived on campus, Ophelia dressed herself in a very professional skirt and blouse and made her way through the, at this point rather familiar, Engineering campus. Entering into one of the lab facilities, she took an elevator to the fifth floor and slowly walked the hall until she found the door she was looking for. She knocked and heard a rough ”Come in...”
Entering, Ophelia observed the man in front of her. He was older, somewhere in his sixties, and had a smattering of white stubble. He wore khakis and a button up shirt, though the sleeves were rolled up and his collar was open. Overall, his demeanor gave the impression of one who was proper, yet comfortable, of one who was in control of the situation… and that didn’t need you mucking it up. The silence having gone on a touch too long, he looked up from his papers and said, irritated, ”Yes? May I help you?”
Ophelia blushed and smiled, held out her hand and said ”Dr. Alkaev, hi, I’m Ophelia Holt, your new lab assistant. It’s a pleasure to meet you!” But he did not shake her hand. Instead, he looked her up and down for a moment before returning to his papers.
There was silence between the two of them for what seemed to Ophelia like hours. Finally, he looked back up and said ”No, you must be mistaken.” before returning to his papers.
Ophelia, a confused look on her face, replied ”Oh, I’m sorry, are you not Dr. Alkaev? Because that’s what it said on the door...”
Without looking up, than man replied ”Oh no, I am Dr. Alkaev, but you can’t be my assistant, because my assistant is actually expected to work, not to sit there and look pretty, and therefore, would not be wearing anything like what you are. Ergo, you must not be my assistant. So, unless you have any actual business, I suggest you leave.”
Ophelia turned red in the face and her jaw dropped, stunned at the mans words. After a moment, she managed to stutter a reply ”I-I’m s-s-sorry Sir. I j-just wanted to m-make a good impression.”
Without looking up, then man replied ”I don’t care if you’re sorry. You showed up on the first day unfit to work and, therefore, are fired. The only good thing about this was that you were only going to be wasting less than two minutes of my time.” He glances at a clock on his desk, and adds ”But even that is gone now.” before returning to his work.
Ophelia took a few deep breaths to steady herself and gather her wits before replying ”Dr. Alkaev, my name is Ophelia Holt. I’m your new research assistant. And I am ready for work.”
He looked up from his paperwork to examine her again. Standing from his desk, he started to walk out the door and said ”Ok then, let’s put you to work. Follow me.” Ophelia did as told and rushed behind Dr. Alkaev. Having trouble keeping up, she quickly removed her heels and followed barefoot.
Arriving at one of the labs, Alkaev began to examine a large machine that looked like a large cylinder with a series of pneumatic arms inside of it. With a flick of a switch there was a slight hum and the arms began moving. ”These pneumatic arms drive vacuum pumps that circulate a coolant through the outer shell. It is a section of machine that will become an orbital particle collider. One of the undergrads helped design it and has been uselessly tinkering on it for weeks to work out a little problem.”
With the flick of another switch there is a loud hum and the entire cylinder being to rotate, while a monitor displays RPM’s and pump pressure. As the RPMs increase the pump pressure decreases. Alkaev looks at Ophelia and says ”You have a day to figure out what is wrong with it… oh, and you’re not allowed to leave the building until you do or give up.”
But even while he is talking, Ophelia approaches the machine, nearly putting her head inside of the spinning unit. She calls out to the Doctor, saying ”Can you slowly increase the rotation please?... More slowly…. more slowly… like that.” Spending a few moments rotating her head around the opening of the thing, she finally steps away and says ”Will you please stop it and point out where the wrenches are?”
When the machine is stopped, Ophelia retrieves a wrench and moves over to the machine. After checking the temps on the pneumatics, she begins to drain the hydraulic fluid from them. Going over the the storage cabinet, she retrieves a bucket of silicon oil. She begins to fill the pneumatics with that instead.
Finished, she turns to Dr. Alkaev and says ”Will you turn it on now, please?” He does and soon the machine is whirring and spinning, the monitor reading a constant pump pressure.
The Doctor smiles, especially at the oil coating her hands and says ”Very nice, but care to explain why that worked?”
Ophelia smiles and says ”Well, the rotational force was compressing the hydraulic oil against the sides of vessel, which causes uneven pressure. And the faster it rotated, the more condensed and uneven the oil became. But silicone oil becomes less viscous with the application of force, so as the rotational force is applied it becomes easier to pump, canceling out the effects of the density change.” Grabbing a rag, Ophelia begins to clean her hands, and a couple of spots on her skirt.
Dr. Alkaev nods, stroking his stubble, and asks ”And how did you know that is what was wrong?”
Again, Ophelia smiles and says ”Oh, I could hear the pitch of the hydraulics change. It was a little difficult with the hum of the rotational motors, but the sound was quite distinct if you know what to listen for.”
Dr. Alkaev nodded and was quiet for a minute. Finally, he looked up and said ”Go home. We’ll start work proper in the morning. And be sure to come dressed appropriately. Now, if you’ll please excuse me, I have an undergraduate assistant to berate.”
- - - - -
Despite their rocky beginnings, Dr. Alkaev and Ophelia made a good team. Not that he got any nicer, but a form of respect developed. And Ophelia felt like she could see past that rough exterior to the kinder man, full of curiosity and awe, that he hid inside. It may have just been a delusion, but it still made her feel better.
The two of them spent most of their nights reviewing designs in the drafting room or trying to reverse engineer the black box components of the Lightbringer in a lab. But Ophelia was particularly excited when they were given the project to construct some of the first Jump Scan Drones.
The project took a few months, especially as Ophelia had to quickly learn astrogation techniques from some fairly old textbooks, but in the end they managed to put together a cost effective drone. Ophelia even managed to reduce costs further by finding a lightweight method to keep the circuitry warm, reducing the necessary fuel load.
And when those probes were launched, well, that was a proud day for Ophelia Holt.
- - - - -
Student life was different this time around. Ophelia’s time in the Navy had exposed her to a lot more variations in design and architecture, both in theory and in practice. As such, she found herself struggling far less with her classes, despite their more advanced nature.
However, due to the excess attention she received from the other students, and the social events that she was forced to attend for the Navy, she still ended up spending most of her time tinkering or studying. And this was doubly true once she had access to the new Solomani tech designs.
When she needed a break and did make it away from the lab or her apartment, she would fly out of the city until she found a nice open field. There she would touch down, have a nice quiet meal, a smoke on her pipe, and she would lay back and watch the birds that flew by, remembering how she started down this path so long ago.
- - - - -
Preparing her dissertation, Ophelia had spent months examining the material properties of the debris taken from the errant vessel years before, and she had seen some very unusual crystalline properties in the metals. And no matter how she had tried to forge similar properties, she just could not get the substructures in her own alloys to have the same perfect alignments. Slowly, she managed to determine several environmental conditions that were causing most of the flaws.
With a week left before she was to give her dissertation defense, she worried that she might have nothing to show. Needing to clear her head, she left the lab and laid back on a bench outside, and prepared her pipe. And as she laid there, watching the smoke linger and swirl in the air, she was inspired.
After a call, and some serious pleading, she was scheduled on the next shuttle to the ISS Telthani.
- - - - -
It was the day of her dissertation defense and Ophelia seemed rather confident, a rather different image than she had been projecting over the last month. She stepped up to the podium, and addressed the crowd of Professors and Navy personnel in attendance. ”Thank you all for attending. As you all know, I have been studying the application of the crystalline perfections found in the material substrates brought back several years ago. Here on the vid screen, we can see the property models generated both from tests conducted on the materials, as well as simulations based on those results...”
Ophelia continued with her practiced speech, discussing the enhancements in tensile strength and the ability spread shear forces across the materials without deformation. In general, the theoretical results were impressive. But as her explanations began to wind down, one of the Professors spoke up, saying ”Ms. Holt, this is all well and good, but we have read your reports. And the results of your simulations are indeed… interesting. But any student could have generated these results from the same labs you have run. Unless you have something new and unique to show us, I’m afraid that this is a waste of our time.”
Ophelia was slightly taken aback by the sudden interruption, but she smiled and replied ”Thank you, Dr. Bronson. I know that discussing these properties is a little underwhelming. But if you will please turn your attentions outside the eastern windows...”
This was a very unusual request, as was obvious from the whispers amongst the reviewers, but Ophelia’s request was honored. Outside the window was a small crane and a large block that was attached to the crane hook by a loop of metallic cable no thicker than a man’s pinky finger. Ophelia smiled and said ”That block is solid osmium and its mass is the equal to the maximum safe dynamic load of that crane.” Speaking into a small comms unit, she continues ”Please turn on the crane...”
The blocks rises, suspended from this small cable, until it is high into the air. Ophelia speaks into the comm again, saying ”Initiate dynamics...” The blocks drops and is stopped suddenly, causing it to bounce and swivel, but the cable holds without changing shape.
Ophelia grins wide and says to the crowd ”If everyone would please turn your attention to the vid screens again, I will discuss the forging process. Three days ago, I managed to recreate the crystalline structures found within that debris. There are three primary factors that have to be negated for the replication. The first, is pressure. Originally, I had attempted to forge these alloys in a vacuum chamber, and this eliminated around 30 percent of the structural defects.”
Bringing up images of the equipment that she had assembled, she continues ”The next factor, is gravity. I set up a forge in a small craft tethered to the ISS Telthani. This was promising, at first, but even the microgravity exerted by the planet was affecting the structures. So I modified a grav system to cancel out the gravatic effect of not just the planet, but other local masses around the the interior of the forge. This, combined with the vacuum, eliminated 90 percent of the structural defects.”
More images slide by. ”Originally I had used electromagnetic fields to superheat the materials to allow their substructures to reflow. I realized that this, combined with the natural magnetic flux of the flowing substrates, created their own imperfections in other sections of the material. So instead of using fields, I switched to heating pockets of ionized gas and using the resultant plasma. This meant no longer using a true void, but it got me closer, and eliminated 97 percent of the irregularities.”
A diagram of a complex algorithm appears on the vid screen. ”The last few perfections arose from a small pressure exerted by the gas, as well as the electric fields naturally generated when it was heated. Here, we see an algorithm that will determine the positions in which to heat the gas to cancel out the effects of any generated electromagnetic fields, given the composition and shape of the input materials. This managed to eliminate nearly any impurities in the substructure, leaving a perfectly aligned crystalline field.”
Looking across the crowd, Ophelia saw the smiling face of Dr. Alkaev. Finishing, she said ”Currently, the process is slow and expensive. But given what I have laid out, it should be possible to greater automate the process. In time, and with more research, it may even be possible through the use of better grav systems to eliminate the need for the forging to take place in space… Any questions?”
- - - - -
It was not long before Dr. Alkaev stepped out of the review committee room, a frown on his face. This worried Ophelia greatly, and she could feel her stomach turning and knotting. Dr. Alkaev turned to face her, placed his hands on her shoulders, and said ”I have terrible news. Apparently, I’m going to have to deal with a new research assistant Dr. Holt.”
Ophelia’s grin stretched ear to ear as she literally jumped for joy. Dr. Alkaev was still frowning though. Settling down, Ophelia asked him ”What’s wrong Doctor?”
Looking up at her, he said ”I already told you, I’m going to have to deal with a new research assistant.”
- - - - -
As Ophelia put on her dress uniform, she thought back on her graduation. It had been a wonderful day, seeing her family and friends again, even Durant had shown up in his dress uniform. But probably the most touching point had been when Dr. Alkaev had given her a graduation present.
I’ll never forget that. He said ‘I have dealt with the Navy before. And if your experiences are like mine, you’ll need this.’ and then he handed me a bottle very fine brandy.
Ophelia checked herself over. Her hair had grown longer, but as long as she pinned it up during formal dress, it was still within regulations. Her outfit was clean, and there was not a trace of oil or grease on her, surprisingly.
Ophelia put on her cap and walked out the door, looking forward to what the future will hold. And completely unaware of the grease on the back of her neck.
|Baroness Annara Utoxier-Lee|
As the Dawn came into Dock, Annara was having a five way discussion with the Fleet Commodore, the Navy Commander and two members of the council. She cut the sound to hear what Captain Halt had to say. She told them Sorry but I need to disembark once I am done we can talk more With that she cut them off and headed off ship. Stopped by Halt to say Thanks for the help
She congratulated Halt on a job well done.
The next few days Crew Debriefings, her own debrief had been simple, the facts and her views of events. Then a second with a Psy-corps rep, that was harder. What she has done and what she had felt. But she did as ordered; such was the life of an Agent.
Then down to waiting world, that madness that was the Press Horse and pony show. There others had only the Military PR guys, she was meet by the Company team. Bearings ready, she was told who was hostile and not in the press. Soon every one of the crew had their faces plastered from every Vid Screens to bus sides. Most of the others kept out of the lime light but she, she was trained for this stuff. She became the defactto speaks person for the mission at the Press conferences. Then the Chat-shows, News interviews, articles, even a book deal. It was like this for weeks, then the story moved on. The political fighting from the Gate-Closers as they came to be known. A few bits of Scandal dug up from this or that crew members past, nothing more than a red-top tail. The others got parades, statues and gigs opening schools and hospitals some even got streets named after them. She did hers, she would forever be Famous like the others, and as a noble, she add dinner parties and gatherings to attend. She had not just become a hero to a world but also a class. She was the Noble lady Annara, of one of the founding family’s leading the world to new hope. She knew she was being used, when you’re a 1% you know how the game is played. But It did ware thin fast. So after two months she headed for a few weeks on the family estate with mother, father and the rest of the family. There talking over the business opportunities and the debates in council.
She had only been there 4 days when they came to see her., A delegation from the Army and Navy. They had a proposition for her and the Family; It was proving hard to get the new Marine Corp
Selling the idea to the general public was not going well, all the press was talking about was higher taxs. They reminded her it had been her suggestion to one Admiral on the council to make a marine Corp. She doubted she could lay credit to that one, but they wanted her to know they would if she did as asked. They needed a role model, someone the press could talk about, someone willing to show everyone was pulling as one. In short they needed her to sign up to train in the Marine Corps while being filmed. For that she would be paid well and her family would be given preferential treatment when bidding for government contracts. She spent a whole week thinking about it, really she just wanted to time to get back to work with the family, but after a full board meeting it was agreed she would. So 1 day late she walked into a small town recruitment office with a camera crew and signed up for 4 years.
They hated her, the nob who spent more time in make-up than in mud. But she did try, the crew was not with her all the time. She had signed on as a trooper but past the officer tests with flying colors. That meant now she had a platoon under her who also hated her. That Changed in the war games. Her team had been set up to fail, but she had two things on her side. One she was Psionic and two Gomez. She had pulled some strings to get him into her barracks, The Film crew lived the idea that not one but two of the Dawn crew where training in the Marinas. He was her eyes and ears and he was good at spotting problems. She kept him close, and then when the war games started they had gone just outside of camp. They were to be the target of a simulated attack. They had to hold while a much larger team attacked. So they had set up and waited. Around midnight the shelling started, they could see flashes of light by the camp but none close to them. It was Gomez who came over and told her they were real rounds and someone was attacking the camp. They had to act, find who was firing on the camp and stop them now.
She knew only one way to find the attackers, she sent her mind out and there down the valley they were. She pointed this out. Gomez suggested flanking at speed, she agreed. He would lead a flank left, she would lead a group to sniping flank right, she would engage 1st then he’s force would hit them . It would be simple to say it worked, but lives were lost, mistakes made in that raid. But in the end they tuck out the howitzers and halted the attack. That gave the Camp time to group and attack. After they were lorded as heroes all over again, but the brass wanted it to be her victory, so against her protests Gomez part went untold. She felt bitter about that, She had been clueless until he pointed out what was going on. She was promoted and got a medal; At lease she made sour he got one was well.
The family had arranged a marriage, a company merger and all in all a vast money making deal. Thing was she thought her new husband a chinless wonder. Her time in the marines had changed her. The little spoiled girl had gone and now a woman who had seen death and war stood in her place. He was good looking, rich and dumb. It was a fine wedding the event of the year. Two months later she found out about the cheating and drugs. All fine she was at camp or at her family’s company’s but then he started to hit the casinos. Spending her money and making a laughing stock of her. After the Raid she had headed home, a call it was the family PI, a story would was to brake, A girls name, she had been 12 a family members. When she got to the house she find him drugged out of his head and in bed with two girl must have been young . She had hidden until he had gone to the bathroom, there she waited. With some shock he looked at her. “Send the girls away , now” her voice one you did not disobey. He did, wads of her cash in their hands. They left the house taxi speeding off. He came back to her in the top bedroom. “Girls gone, Annara, shame would could have had some fun with them, me and you them, but what the hay, so how about we have some fun now we are alone.” He came over trying to put his arms around her. It happened so fast she read his mind, then just did it on reflex. One moment he was coming at her then next he was on the floor, head off at an odd angle. “You perverted piece of &#^#^!!” She took a deep breath called and old friend, then rolled the body of her late husband out the 3ed floor bedroom window. Then left, he was found the next day by the pool guy, the police said he had turned off the House Cams and jumped. Then had found two girls who had been with him that night, lots of drink lots of drugs and them him sending them away. She thanked them and when asked said she had been in a bar 50km away drinking with old crew member.
Her late husband rank made her a baroness, her rank in the Marine Corp was 1st lieutenant, she's famous her late husband infamous. Today she is waiting to muster out and get into the family business and out the lime-light. She eqievered in her will her title and estate to her 12 year old niece. She lives on her own, she likes it that way. as an Psionic that was topical, its hard to be around others when you can feel what's on their minds. Also She's older, colder, harder than she was,
The Vid-Phone rang, it was her commander,
"1st lieutenant as ease, Annara, news thier going to send the ITV Lightbringer with a full crew to Milthana. History says several freighters had been there to pick up ore before the warp points died. They need a psionic on the crew your names on the list. So just a heads up."
She nodded, they agreed to meet in a week to talk over some other business and he hung up.
was the single thought that crossed her mind.
|Fernán Miguel Gómez|
"Hit the dirt! Incoming!"
The sergeant is yelling too late, of course, to save them. The sound disappears, as the world blossoms into a ball of fire, only to be replaced by a deafening ringing.
Dumb luck, it's dumb luck really. Taras Tikhonov - "T.T." in their training group -saves him. His body blocks the blast, partially disintegrating but holding together enough to absorb the shrapnel. The adrenalin kicks in, and Fernán starts crawling for one of the concrete bunkers. The sound of staccato machine gun bursts starts echoing throughout the valley.
I'm an airman; this isn't supposed to happen he thinks, but he pushes the useless thought from his mind and focuses on crawling. The only thing is the door.
Someone cries out from behind him, Ricky's voice maybe. Fernán ignores it; he reaches the wall. He reaches up, pulls the door open and rolls through.
"Thump-thump-thump" the wall rattles as bullets splatter against it, but it's quieter in here. Radio... he runs for the radio.
"HQ - this is marine training battalion Zulu - we are taking fire." He squawks in a panic, repeating his please several times until realizes the line is dead. The power generator, they've hit the power generator.
He unlimbers his assault rifle and pops out the training ammo cartridge and racks the gun. He grabs a new cartridge from the table and slaps it in.
Fernán slowly opens the door and peers out; the deafening sound of mortar fire returns. He shoulders his rifle and looks through the scope; figures with camouflage gear and large crosses. He aims carefully, slowing his breath. One makes a run in the open, heading for a hole in the fence. A young woman with black hair in fatigues, armed with a submachinegun. She thinks she is saving the world; she thinks she is invulnerable. He slows his breath and pulls the trigger...
Fernán wakes up screaming. He rolls up onto the side of the bed, sweat soaked sheets. He reaches for a bottle of whiskey, but his hand grabs only empty air.
Right, señor said no more alcohol while I'm on the drugs. He walks over to the window and looks out the window.
Somehow the marines had taken him, despite his questionable past. Adventure; all I ever wanted was a bit of adventure. I didn't want to kill any stupid kids with head full of stupid ideas. I just wanted to go to the stars, and only the marines would take someone like me. He had joined the marine aviation group and studied gunnery. He was a good shot, and he knew how to work the bureaucracy. And here would be exploratory missions soon. He was going to head with them into the stars, one way or the other. They must find a place for him somewhere; after all, he was famous.
But oh god... the dreams. He didn't want the dreams of the raids anymore. The World's Salvation they called themselves; young idiots who thought they were saving everyone by stopping Telthani's expansion into the universe. They had failed, but there had been a lot of blood. Needless blood; too many people *he* had killed. But he was going to go to the stars. He had to; he had to make it all worthwhile.
Fernán slumps into a chair, takes out a cigarette and lights up. He stares out the window, watching the sun rise. I wonder what it looks like on a different planet.
O’Cyrus Vathan was among the instant celebrities. He enjoyed the free drinks and fast women. He joined the marines to stay close to space and away from Annara. As former Army, he did his training in the few Navy facilities. He managed to get certified in demolitions, in case his commanding officer wanted to sabotage their ship again. They stationed him in orbit as internal security for the growing navy.
His celebrity status worked against him during his tour. He always had to do things better than his peers, which he seldom achieved. His peers were younger, better in shape, and more eager to please than he was. When he concluded that his superior would not promote him beyond Private First Class, he started really enjoying his time: gambling and carousing. Evidently, his celebrity status prevented them from doing anything more negative to him than withholding promotions and decorations.
Vathan spent his shore leaves hunting and alone. While the outdoors reminded him of the vastness of space, he needed regular escapes from the tight quarters of the ships and stations.
He followed his fellow celebrities in the news and treated them well when they visited orbit. PFC Vathan always had secure quantities of high quality alcohol. He envied their success and made a fair attempt at alcoholism to compensate. But his attention to service and ambition to journey to the stars prevented the alcoholism from taking full control. One of his last fixes won him the lottery.
You guys post a lot. I'm not that prolific.
The next few days after docking were a blur for Doctor Ziirkaa. He worked long hours fascinated by the wealth of information from the Lightbringer. Gradually he returned to something like a normal schedule he fell in a rhythm with the Navy personnel aboard the ISS Telthani. He was in his cabin when the letter arrived. Delivered by hand on paper as was custom for invitations. Somewhere in the middle of the hand calligraphed invitation suitable for framing, it got to the point:
The presence of Agamemnon Kuuankashku Ziirkaa PhD is requested and required before the council of the planet of Telthani to receive the title of Knight of Telthani in the newly created Order of the Lightbringer for meritorious scientific service to the planet. You shall be invested as a Knight with all of the rights and responsibilities thereof.
Ziirkaa frowned. This letter was almost certainly the work of his sister, jockeying with her society friends for influence. Still, it could not be ignored. Resigned, he called up his digital assistant to schedule passage back to the surface.
A quick voice call later, the Doctor was more confused than ever. His sister swore that she had nothing to do with the Knighthood. Ziirkaa believed her, normally she was all too happy to take credit for her machinations. The rest of the family was unconcerned with public politics, they prefer the subtilty of wielding money behind the scenes.
Ziirkaa was even more supised when one of the petty officers arrived with an invitation to join the Station Commander in her office on the command deck.
”Doctor, Thank you for joining me.” Dame Commodore McTavish smiles. ”I noticed that you have made arrangements to return to the surface. I am going to assume that means you got the invitation.”
Ziirkaa looked up slightly startled by the chosen topic, ” Commodore, I’m surprised that merited your notice. I was under the impression you didn’t pay attention to politics that don’t effect the station.”
”Not entirely correct, but I have worked to make sure that is how I’m seen, Doctor.” She paused taking a sip on her Tal, “But In this case does apply. That invitation has a direct effect on the ISS Telthani. The navy is part of the coalition that is sponsoring both your Accolade, and the formation of the order of the Lightbringer.”
”Forgive me if I’m more than a little surprised. I didn’t think I was one of your favorite people.”
A wolfish grin grossed McTavert’s face.
“How I feel about you is immaterial, Doctor. There is a real chance we will be returning to the galactic stage, and that prospect is full of unknown unknowns. We need outside the box thinking, and all of the best minds we have on Telthani working on this project.
Naval Command has read all the reports from the mission. You acted bravely, and your performance and service was exemplary on the mission that returned the Lightbringer to Telthani, and regardless of your personal motivations, we need more people to act that way if this project is to succeed. So we created an order for distinguished service in Engineering and Science to end the Long Night.
”So I suppose the joke is on Naval Command. No one in the Ziirkaa family cares about the Imperial nobility. We are Vilanni, and have kept the ways of our people throughout the planet’s long night. Now that I know what this is about, I can politely decline.”
Dramatically, Ziirkaa rises from his chair bows deeply to the Commodore and turns to leave with a flourish. Striding confidently toward the door, and caught slightly off balance by the flourish, Ziirkaa pitches over his chair into a pile near the pressure door.
Doctor, surely you understand that half of leadership is about symbols and example. To be clear, Command does not care about the Ziirkaa family. This is not to get your family on our side, we already expect your parents and cousins will support our project. You want to get back to space. This is about a bigger picture.”
Ziirkaa pulled himself off the ground and looked sheepishly at McTavish.
“What Command needs is a lever to get Isolationists interested in the project. Some will be motivated by Knighthood. Sadly, You are the best example of what we need from the mission. You are an already known member of the academic community, not in a service nor already a noble. You were in the right place at the right time. My preference is you accept the accolade, but that isn’t why I need to talk to you. Sit down.”
Now even more curious, Ziirkaa stares at the commodore, ”This isn’t like you to beat around the bush, Commodore.” She waves her hand toward the chair with a glare that says You better sit down, NOW. The scientist slides back into his chair, now very uncomfortable.
[b]”Your contract ends in 2 weeks. I have a proposition. I called you here to invite you to join the Navy.”
Ziirkaa could not hold back his laughter. McTavish had expected this reaction, and it annoyed her to be proved right.
”When you are done. I will continue.”
Realizing that the Commodore is serious, Ziirkaa is cut short. She does not waste time, and if she thinks there is a point to this, he should really listen to her. ”Forgive my rudeness, but did I mishear you? You are asking me to join the Navy?” Ziirkaa finally responds.
”You heard correctly… and you are right... 2 months ago, I wouldn’t have considered it. Now. Things have changed. The Navy needs your particular skills, and I am prepared to play hardball to get them. I am expecting you will join, and join willingly.”
”Hardball? You can’t just shoot me, and I will continue willingly as a contractor. You don’t need me in a uniform to do my work.” Ziirkaa slipped comfortably into an adversarial relationship with powerful people.
”Perhaps. Research you will do without prodding, but we need you as a liaison to the greater scientific community on belhalf of the Navy. And to do that, command needs you in uniform, Doctor. The job is well within your skillset, research, correspondence, publishing in journals, lecturing, we need you to do all that. We want you to do what you do… but in our name.”
”You are dancing again, what is the hardball? Ziirkaa snapped.
”It’s Lightbringer. More advanced than any of the specifications included in the data packet. We as of this afternoon, we will be restricting civilians from the craft, and when your contract is up, I can personally restrict you from this station. I am sure you will find work, there is plenty of research that needs to be done. You will find a way to contribute. But I know you better than that. You can’t stand playing with anything but the best toys; So you want to have your hands on the Lightbringer. The Navy can arrange unrestricted access, but If you ever want to set foot on her decks again, it will be as a naval officer. McTavish’s Shark grin had returned.
”I will consider your offer. Don’t be surprised if I turn it down.”
Three weeks later Sir Agamemnon Kuuankashku Ziirkaa PhD, Knight of Telthani: Order of the Lightbringer found himself looking out the window of a flyer, en route to navy basic training.
Three times in as many months, Ziirkaa nearly washed out of accelerated basic training. He was disciplined many more times than that, but he pushed through his punishments defiantly. When other cadets were given leave or free time, he would find his way to the library and catch up on the journals, so much was going on, and he hated missing it. Graduation from basic lead to navy technical school, but Ziirkaa’s advance degrees rendered the coursework trivial, and he could was able to spend time on his research again.
Once back on ISS Telthani, his situation returned to normal. As irascible and disagreeable as ever, Ziirkaa returned to his work almost inspired by the deprivations of basic training. Others had taken over his role of maintaining the aging station, so the Doctor continued the project of writing and refining software to allow autonomous craft locate hidden jump points. It was a pleasure to work with Holt again, even if it meant putting up with that blowhard Alkeave.
Holt had always taken the time to see him whenever Ziirkaa was speaking at the University, even though the subject matter was beneath her level now. Ziirkaa wished her well, and was pleased when he received the invitations to the defense of her dissertation, and then to her commencement. He packed his dress uniform and his academic robes and proceeded to the shuttle, preparing to set foot on solid ground for the first time in 3 years.
The greatest chock came when she was released to the general public. While all she could think of before was Telthani's new relation with the rest of the world, she wasn't prepared to deal with Telthani's new relation with her. Interviews and press meetings, camera filled echoes of the first days everywhere. Some people even recognized her on the streets! It was an ... interesting period. She couldn't wait to get back in orbit.
But her moment in the spotlight soon faded, her place taken by more colourful celebrities. Still, she was fairly certain of her spot in the Telthani history books - even if her and the crews discovery soon were to be overshadowed (hopefully!) by their return to the galactic society at large. For this very purpose, the Navy expanded greatly during these last four years. Satellites were commissioned, crews were trained all in preparation for what to come. The Marines were even resurrected from their ashes, a military branch of the Navy deemed necessary.
As such, Ceres had no shortage of things to do with her time. In between the occasional lecture or meeting, she spent the most of the time aboard the Lightbringer. At first the ship was in the clutches of the scientists, eager to study this marvel of technology. But soon she was allowed to roam the cold reaches of space within the Telthani system, preforming preliminary sweeps and deploying probes. The ship did, however, maintain a steady contingent of scientists trying to catch up and reverse engineer all the developments they missed during the last four and a half centuries.
When the find of the first Jump Point was confirmed, the bridge of the Lightbringer erupted into delirium. Their wildest dreams had taken shape! The future looked as bright as the ship promised and Ceres had only one nuisance on her mind, a very minor one. What the heck do I do with that ticket?!
I assume Ceres's ticket is the lottery ticket. :) If she hasn't turned it in already, it's expired. Only good for a year. So I assume she has turned it in and collected cash in the bank.
She has turned it in, of course. It is just that everything she ever had she made and achieved by herself - and then fate decided to dump more money then she could think to spend. It nags her :P
her father looked over at the poster, no fading side of building across form them.
"You know I never thought I would see an Utoxier-Lee on public view covered in mud, reminds me of your 7th birthday and the party we had in the gardens."
She looked over at the poster.
"Hells that one, I hated that shoot, three days of arty times arguing over lighting and blood spatter. If only the masses knew that battle field was stage H in the capitals film studios."
They where sat in a family limo outside a run down area of north side.
Her farther had picked her up late yesterday saying little about why just they he wanted to spend some time with is most Nature loving child. A in family joke that seems out of place in today's world but made her happy. He had booked rooms for them in the best hotel, hers had been the size of a town codo. She slept as best she could, now and then she had bad dreams but she used her training to lock them away. Last hight had been nice, a change of speed. They had talked family no business. Over dinner the subject children came up again.
"Your mother said she meet with Marchesa Ziirkaa the others day, she was talking about her brother Agamemnon. He was with you on the Lightbringer was he not. She told your mother he's still single, and it would be a such a shame to.."
She had put her hand up to stop him.
"No, just no, tell mother thanks, but no thanks, I married a once for the family, don't even think about a second time. Also the good Doctor is married to science by all accounts so Tell mother no to any one she may have in mind now or ever."
She said this in a firm voice.
He had changed the subject, she had gone to be fuming, when would mother stop trying to sort her life out and just let her live the bloody thing.
She stopped herself, she was being to hard, they loved her and this was how they showed it.
When they got up Father was all secretive.
"Today I am going to show you something, you went as a child but I think you where to young to remember, Today your are going to meet your great uncle Peroneus"
"I thought he had passed away"
"No he just got older, you will see now sit back, this will be a long drive"
No here they where outside a run down area of North side looking at posters. Two men came over in suits and opened the Limo door.
"Come on, he's opened the place up for us."
They headed into an old looking building, some kind of old hotel. Must have been pre long night.
Once inside an old lift down, down a long way, 20 floors down.
"This place was built as a bunker over 500 years ago, by a mad family member, lots of unrest back then wile the colony was established. he wanted to keep the family sliver safe."
The lift stopped on the bottom level. there to meet them was an old fat man. uncle Peroneusm, he kissed her on both cheeks, then greeted her father.
"Come come, all the lights are on, I wanted to show you Annara, the things I have here. Once your father told me of your need how could I say no"
Now she really was confused, then as she walked out onto the under ground bunker, she knew what her father had brought her here.
Finally, the count down comes to an end.
The Lightbringer, now with a new paintjob that covers up it's previous Solomani Confederation Navy paintjob, floats in space, a few light seconds from the ISS Telthani.
Nearby floats Hera's Folly, the only other surviving ship from the before the Long Night. It's not the largest of the freighters that had been mothballed, but it's the only one that was repairable after the Solar Storm of 5 years ago.
Ceres has been assigned as the Lightbringer's captain, with Holt as First Officer. The small ship has only room for 17 people on board.
Captain : Ceres Viktoria
First Officer : Ophilia Holt
Second Officer : Roger Krantair
Chief Pilot : Grant Montoya
Pilot : Michelle McLane
Pilot : Erick Stone
Security Chief : Annra Utoxier-Lee
Security : Fernan Gomez
Security : O'Cyrus Vathan
Chief Engineer : Telieena Lee
Engineer : Elissa Stone
Engineer : William Sandellla
Medical Officer : Agamemnon Kuuankashku Ziirkaa
Medical Tech : Kalissa Travers
Medical Tech : Vince MacGrogh
The ship is going out with 2 less crew than it can take to leave extra room.
On the main viewer, Commodore McTavish is speaking, giving a going away speech to the crew. "Alright then, Captain Ceres. You have your orders. Survey our lost sister colony and see if anyone survived. If so, initiate contact. You can let Utoxier-Lee operate as diplomat, despite her rank, she has a portfolio at large to use if needed, otherwise she's under your command, along with the rest of the marines. Your mission is not to bring back ships, it's to survey and analyze and figure out what we can salvage." Needless to say, there is little expectation of finding the colony alive. The colony was not self sufficient when it was isolated. "The Folly will follow on in 3 months with whatever repair materials lists you send back, and a crew of engineers to try to get whatever you find, if anything, repaired." This was all just a repeat, mostly for historical recordings. The crew had been fully briefed for days before boarding. The hold of the ship was mostly empty, with the hopes that materials could be scavanged to fill it to the brim.
|Baroness Annara Utoxier-Lee|
She sat at her desk reading the report, her orderly looking at her.
"And this is upto day?
She shot back.
She rubbed her forehead,
"Thank you Tomkins, your dismissed"
he saluted and left.
The report in her hands as for one Marine, Private First Class Vathan. Her ex-body guard and fellow Light-Bringer. They had meet a few times over the last few years. Each time he has been civil but kept to himself. She feel a seance of guilt about him. It was not just the way she had treated him on the Dawn. Then the spot light of fame, was so outside his world she could seem him hating it. He was a mind of open spaces and wildness to be looked at, inspected but all the world. Even for a short wile. he had joined the Marines like her, but she did no do what she had with Gomez, the last thing he wanted was to be around her in her own ongoing spot light. So they had sent him to the ISS, where he had quit a record. The drinking worried her, but then again they had all from the Light Bringer had to find ways to cope. For her it had been the Marines, she liked the fact her class meant little to them. Merritt for more, they had looked down at her until the raids, now she was respected
not for a title but for what she had done in their ranks. that meant a lot. So she could feel what Vathan felt in some part. Then a lotto win, the new lotto was to raise funds for the fleet,
it was about time he had some luck.
She thought to herself, but that maybe his downfall, a better class of drink humm
They where going to send them out and they owed her, with his curnet record he would never have a change, but they owed her. Time to spend that capital for work done. She reached over and picked up a request for transfer form.
Well old friend let shake you out of that hole you have berried yourself in. Gods your going to hate me for this, but I need know knows on this and your own."
She started to fill out the form.
No terraforming of the planet, it was already survivable, otherwise there wouldn't be rare alien wood and plants that are worth a lot of money. I'm fine with the family having had a crazy ancestor who wanted a defensive bunker against the civil wars from 500 years ago.
|Baroness Annara Utoxier-Lee|
A few days before
She had asked them to be sent to the ISS briefing room.
Feel I think you guys can talk before she some's if you like
Gomez and Vathan's hand been given there orders to meet her there.
She cames in and smiled at them. Annara is older, lines around her eyes, she looks harder. Annara is not the girl she was, now in her place is a military woman. On her dress uniform of 1st Lieutenant is the MCUF ribbon she got with Gomez in the raids. This woman has killed and was good at it. she dos not talk down to you as she once did, she's talking to you as fellow Marines with a job to do. She gets strait to the point.
"At ease gentlemen, on the screens in-front of you is our mission outline. I think we can do away with the meet and greet, we know each other even if some of use have not meet for a wile. I must add its good to seen you both and have you on the mission. Now this meeting is about suggestions and ideas for our mission. Load out, attics, security needs. We are a small security team so we have to know each others thinking. Once we are done will report to Capitan Viktoria."
She hands over two manifests then looks at Vathan.
"Vathan you will be in charge of Re-con, Demolitions, side arms, heavy weapons and Zero-G Combat, your calls count when in comes out our needs, I am trusting you in those areas"
Then she looks at Gomez.
"Gomez you will be in change of our Vehicles and ROV drones as well as all Technical stuff related to us. We will be taking an ATV, so that needs checking over with Vathan. Your also trained in ship's weapons so the captain may have you working on that as well."
"As for me, we will be taking an inflatable water craft, I'm trained in. Lazes, over all security matters and my other skills specialist."
She gets up and go's over for a coffee wile they read, once they look to be done she says.
"Line of command on this mission going down is The Captain, then me then you. Captains word is law. As we are undercover no talk of ranks on the mission. We all just have rolls and job titles. I'm acting diplomat on the horse and pony show. But I want to make clear that we maybe entering hostile territory from the get go, So lets be ready for that. now then any comments?"
She waits for them to talk.
Ok guys any kit you wish she will request, any idea's she will hear out and if agreed on and she is allowed, will act on.
She's using telepathy to get a feeling of your feelings, not mind reading just empathy. If you would like to say how your PCs feeling feel free.
Doctor Ziirkaa storms around the station dispensary packing for the trip. He is ranting as he storms around, with Travers and MacGrogh watching in stunned silence. "I swear McTavish takes the most perverse pleasure in assigning me as a medical officer. When they assigned me to the naval medical operational school after basic, I had no idea they could make me a surgeon, even without a civilian MD. I foolishly assumed that a lack of credentials would be an issue."
Terrified MacGrogh speaks timmidly, "You aren't a doctor?"
"OF COURSE I AM! HOW DARE YOU!!!! Ziirkaa thunders.
"but, but you just said that..."
Ziirkaa fumes at his subordinate, "I don't care what I just said. I am a doctor. The Navy has also declared that I can perform surgery, and prescribe medication, and perform all of the duties of a ship's surgeon! You would do well to remember that! If called upon, I can save your life and YOU will REGRET it!!!" Ziirkaa pulls himself together in the midst of stabbing his finger in the air toward MacGrogh when Travers clears her throat.
Travers pipes up, "Sir, I think we have everything on the checklist now.
Brought back to the present Sir Agamemnon replies, "Excelent, I have have 3 more items to pull. MacGrogh? How is your list?" When his inquiry is met with stunned silence Ziirkaa snatches the datapad from his grip and looks it over, scanning each of the boxes collected on the table. "Good work lad, but speak up when I ask a question. Now pull one of these carts, and lets get all this back to the ship... Many hands make light work eh?"
Did I make a mistake? Didn't you also go for a medical degree? the second time around in University? You went back for four years for another masters/doctorate and OCT right?
Ophelia, as she stood in her scholar's robes with her family, scanned the crowd of graduating students, and saw a familiar face. Moving over to him, she said "Dr. Ziirkaa, thank you so much for coming to my commencement ceremony. I know you must be busy and I really do appreciate it."
Smiling, her eyes shining, she says "And I just got done reading your paper on the theoretical effects of electromagnetic fields generated in real space by the decay of neutral mesons in hyper-space, and while I will admit to having trouble following some of the higher n-dimensional models and most of the hyper-physics, the whole thing got me thinking. According to the ancient texts on astrogation, ships jumping from even the same point, with the exact same settings, will arrive at different locations. Previously, this was though to be because of undetectable fluctuations in the hyper-space fields created for jump travel. So, after reading your paper I was wondering if you had thought about the possibility that the fluctuations might be caused by the decay of charged mesons generating electrons or neutrinos in real space. See, while the release of a photon generates no mass, the generation of a massive particle might mean a temporary collapse of hyper-space to a lower dimension for time required for particle emission. This time would be for fractions of fractions of a second, but it could impose real-space mechanical interactions for that time. And because meson generation is difficult to predict without controlling the environment, it could give the appearance of seemingly random fluctuations."
Holt takes a deep breath, seemingly having not taken one during that entire speech. Finally, she blushes and says "Anyway, the hyper-space physics is beyond me, so I apologize if I'm just spouting off something absurd..."
Just chatting a little. : )
Holt, loading her gear onto the transport trolley, was thinking over her position as first mate. As much as other crew members would have felt honored by the appointing, it had Holt quite worried.
Why would they pick me to be in command? I'm just an Ensign and there are bound to be higher ranking officers on the ship. I mean, Krantair has been serving longer than I have... I'm not even good at giving people orders. Even when I was acting as Captain before, I was just following through with what Ceres had said... Maybe this is another PR stunt, sending the crew of heroes out... I would have been perfectly happy in the bowels of the ship instead of on the command deck...I really hope I don't screw this up...
But even as her mind worried, she was excited to go back into space again, and even more excited about the prospects of their mission. She had hoped to be sent along with the Lightbringer, but she had not expected it. It would be good to work with everyone again, especially since she hadn't really spoken to anyone besides Dr. Ziirkaa since that mission four years ago.
She had been asked about necessary equipment, but other than engineering tools, most of which she had on her own, she had precious little to requisition. She was not a fighter and preferred her own weapons anyway, knowing that she could trust the individual parts since she forged most of them herself. Still, she had given a list of spare parts, as well as some equipment that she could use to fabricate some parts, both for the ship and for whatever they may find.
She was pleased to discover that she had been given a small 'petty cash' budget. She used it to purchase a few bottles of alcohol, a few pounds of pipe tobacco, some supplies for maintaining her violin, some pickled foods from home, and a small collection of textbooks and trashy romance novels, all in a digital format.
She did wish that she could take her plane with her, as she would love to fly over a new world, but she knew cargo space was precious, so she did request for it to be stored and maintained in her absence.
Having finished loading her things, Holt began to push the trolley towards her quarters. As she did she passed by a window and saw the planet below, the blue of the oceans and the white cloud cover. She stopped for a moment and thought to herself.
I'm really about to do this. I'm not just flying away from my homeworld, but towards a whole new planet... one that may contain a people that have developed their own customs and cultures over the past 400 years... I'm going to be among the first of our people to jump travel in about fifteen generations.
Holt found the feeling both exciting and just a little overwhelming. For a moment, as she thought of the enormity of the situation, her knees went weak and she sat on the trolley, now looking out the window at the vast field of stars.
And as she let the awe of the experience wash over her, she recalled a phrase from an archaic book called 'We must Dissent' by Sister Miriam Godwinson. The book had been an interesting treatise combining spiritual faith and scientific principle, and Holt never felt that religious connotation as being so appropriate as right now.
Quietly, she spoke, "And so we return again to the holy void. Some say this is simply our destiny, but I would have you remember always that the void exists, just as surely as you or I. Is nothingness any less a miracle than substance?"
Did I make a mistake? Didn't you also go for a medical degree? the second time around in University? You went back for four years for another masters/doctorate and OCT right?
If I did get that wrong, it's not a big deal, you'd just end up chief engineer and someone else the doctor.
@mdt: don't worry at all. I was playing that As part of his degree in historical technology specializing in cybernetics, he did go to med school, but he never took the boards. Now I'm playing it that when he went through navy school, they put him through a medical program, and certified him as "ship surgeon" someone with enough navy training to be a medical officer, since you may not have a doctor available for all ships. Or we could say they forced him to take the boards and get his MD.
Either way, he still thinks it was the Commodore that is forcing him to do work he finds boring, I.e. Actually helping/fixing people.
Vathan enjoyed several days of celebration when he received his orders to transfer to the Lightbringer. The four years of tedium seemed worth it. As he started packing, he started giving away his excess luxuries that he had accumulated, which made him more popular than usual. His captain and LT were jealous but delivered their revenge. They posted the Lightbringer crew roster in the mess hall, so they could watch Vathan’s reaction.
Annara. Vathan’s good mood dissolved as the pit of his stomach plummeted toward planetside. How long would he have to be imprisoned with Her? And as his chief? Vathan could hear his commanding officers jeers and laughing behind him. After a minute, he finally collected himself to calmly return to his bunk for a drink.
”Hey Fernán. Cómo estás?” Vathan warmly greeted his friend. They trade greetings and fist bumps. The last time they shared a drink was before the raid. ”It’s been too long. You’ll make this tour tolerable. Can’t believe who our chief is. We’ll talk later over a bottle of good stuff.” He settles into chair with his mission packet assuming his practiced facial expression of dutiful enlisted soldier.
Vathan follows the routine obeisance to his superior officer when Annara arrives. He dutifully listens to her and studies the manifest that she hands him. When he is done reading, he looks up.
Vathan is as tense as if in a trap that he could not avoid. ”Ma’am, three questions: can we increase our weapon and armor load? There appears to be some room left in the weapon’s locker. Second, who do you expect to be armed and armored at all times? Everyone, no one, us? Finally, do we need more explosives? Last time, Captain Ceres requested their use to prepare to win an argument with the ship AI. We probably need more plastique and expertise on their installation if we have to answer her request again.”
//Jump-node maiden voyage!
Ceres stood in rapt attention as the Commodore spoke, hands behind her back and gaze held high. Her uniform was newly pressed, the buttons and boots polished - she even had white gloves on and her foil attached to her belt. She nodded dutifully at the pre-decided spots and as McTavish finished, she raised her hand in salute.
"Affirmative Commodore! We shall do our part. Captain Ceres out!"
She remained in the stance (which the choreographer had described as patriotic/heroic) for a few more seconds until communications (and recordings!) were mercifully cut. As they did, the pompous air escaped her and she noticeably sank a fifth on an inch. Immediately, she started to remove her gloves and untangle herself from the sword-belt. With a casual flick she threw her tricorne at her seat.
She turned to address the crew.
"All-right! You know the plan. Mr Montoya, set course for the jump-node!"
I'll move forward when everyone indicates they are done with provisioning/etc. The remote drones are capable of up to two transits before their fuel is exhausted, assuming you top their fuel off before they jump. Most of their bulk is actually fuel. Each drone is 25 tons. 20 tons of fuel, 5 tons of engine and computer. The drones on station at the Milthani warp point are all down to about 1/2 fuel.
|Baroness Annara Utoxier-Lee|
"Your 1st point, We have been given some space to add equipment Vathan. Three tones weight max to fit with in a small Armoury, the ATV plus our own lockers. For the record"
She leans over the desk to get closer to a mic that's there recording the meeting for posterity, she says into it.
"The Navy set the Marines budget for the added vitally needed equipment at just 25,000 credits"
She waits a moment, then leans back, you can tell there she may have had to fight some back room battles to get even this.
"So scrounge what you can, we will be relying heavenly on crews personal weapons. Its all got be look like a typical Trader ship, so very thing needs to be a miss match of stuff. I think that was their thinking then they made the budget so low. Vathan ill need you to get to me a full list of every weapon, side arm and blade that on the ship."
She makes a note of what she just asked
"Gomez, the Navy will be taking surveying kit, look it over and see if we need to add hostile environment and survival equipment on top of what they have. Also the Navy medical team, need to have medi packs ready for EVAs if we head down to the planet. Check they are Combat worthy, no setting up medical tents in a fire-fight. Once you both have an idea of what's needed, Make a joint list. Lets say you have 10kCr each for kit on top of what you can scrounge in the next few days. Remember get any and all equipment checked by the spooks for signs its from here, it has to all be traceless, that go's for our own equipment, so Booze with no labels"
She makes another not of that.
"Moving on, your next point. Do I expect to be armed and armoured at all times? Everyone, no one, us? . I think we can relax up to the Jump point here in system, but I will want one of us armed and on duty at all times. So 8 hours shifts rotating. Before we Jump we will all be suited up and armed for Space combat. Once in system we will take it form there, Open hostility's aside. Remember we have been told the new confederacy is fighting and unknown enemy that can attack at any time. So we have to take that into account, above and beyond this mean perimeters of this mission."
You feel that this again may be for the "Record"
"You last point Vathan "will we need more explosives?" Yes we will, as a surveying mission we probably be asked at some point to blow something up. A blacked pass, old buildings doors, taking down trees for a camp site. So yes more plastique will be needed, shaping charge rigs as well, Door cutters and the like. For the Record I was told the ships IA is being cooperative. But should we meet another ship and need to blow that AI to kingdom come, well we best be ready for that just in case.”
She makes more notes.
Then looks at Gomez.
"Gomez, do you wish to add anything?
|Baroness Annara Utoxier-Lee|
As the Commodore spoke Annara stood like the others in full dress uniform on the command/flight deck. It was her best uniform. Such a shame it was to be jettisoned with all the others, but they must have nothing that could trace them back to there home world once they set off.
She suited waited and as soon as the Captain started to strip so did she.
"Captain with your permission, could all crew please place there Dress informs in the trash bags provided, the Marines will be around shortly to collect them for jettisoning."
She had now stripped down to a plain Marine Gym shorts and vest, holding out the trash bag she collected the uniforms wile Vathan and Gomez did the same for the rest of the ship.
Sorry but had to be done, just to show the stupidity of command, Pomp before practicality, got to think about them voters
|Baroness Annara Utoxier-Lee|
She looks at the shocked faces on the crew as there prized uniforms into kit bag she's holding, Off handedly she says
Diplomacy 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (17) + 12 = 29
"Of course when I say jettisoning, I mean handing our prized uniforms to our esteemed collages in the Navy Tug docked with us. who history will note pulled Laundry Duty this day."
She looks up and smiling at this.
She was trying the brake the ice, yes it was an historic day, but of late most days where, no need to be to poo-faced about things. This was going to be a long trip.
Finally, she was called inside, and stood before a collection of Naval High Command officials. The leader of the summons glanced over some paperwork before looking up and saying "Ensign Ophelia Holt. You have come here to appeal a requisitions request for the mission involving the Lightbearer. Is that correct?"
Holt looked up, still a bit nervous, and said "Yes Sir, that is correct."
The man looked at her, and said "It says here that you requested tools and equipment sufficient for the repair and fabrication of both vehicle and simple starship parts, but were only granted your request for tools as they related to starship repair. Is that also correct?"
Holt, growing a bit stronger, said "Yes, that is also correct."
Again, the commander looked over her and said, "Please, be aware that these tools are both costly and in short supply given the recent upsurge of activity. That said, we are willing to hear you make your case."
Holt smiled softly, and began her speech "Thank you. This mission that we embark upon is the first to leave our solar system in 400 years. We are leaving upon an unknown vessel, who's design itself has only barely been gleaned despite intense scientific research these past four years."
Holt's voice grows stronger, more convicted, as she continues, "Indeed, we are heading into unknown territory, to face unknown circumstances. What we do know is that there is a war going on, and the possibility of far more than we could imagine. As such, it seems obvious to allow us the necessary tools to repair our ship. After all, if we are stuck on an unknown planet because of a hull breech, then we are benefiting neither the Navy nor our people. And I thank you, in your wisdom, for granting us this without question."
Holt's voice changes now, suddenly more pleading, "But as important as our exploration is, our mission is one of salvage and trade. It is no secret that there is little expectation to find much life where we are headed. Even now we prepare more for salvage than for diplomacy."
Holt takes a step forward, her body language showing that of submission before the collection of commanders, "And we have limited materials to work with. But upon that planet, a world filled with mines and ores, there are bound to be countless transportation vehicles in various states of disrepair. But even a half dozen, salvaged and repaired, could greatly enhance our ability to gather materials. We may even be able to have full stockpiles ready by the time the transport freighters even arrive. And wouldn't everyone see it as a great success if the freighter showed up both early and full to the brim with raw materials? These vehicles may even form the basis for a new colony, the first upon a new world."
Holt's hands come together. She is nervous and sweating, but she is also passionate about this, wanting this mission to be the best success it can be, for the future of everyone. She finishes her speech, saying "Please, I know that tools as specialized as this are in short supply, but can you honestly say that you have a more important task than this one?"
The commander looks at Holt and says "Thank you for the compelling information, Ensign Holt. We will deliberate on the matter and you will receive our decision within a few days. You are dismissed"
As Holt walked out of there, she only hoped that she had been convincing enough.
- - - - -
Holt smiled when she saw the piece of paperwork from Naval High Command that had been left in her quarters.
We have reviewed your appeal and have found it to be both compelling and persuasive. Of course the Navy wants to do everything within its power to ensure the success of your mission. Upon further review, we have decided to accept your appeal and to approve your request for enhanced engineering stations. Please reserve room for the supplies and as you should be receiving the equipment within the week.
Make us proud, Ensign.
Holt grinned at the letter, and rushed off to the engineering station to discuss equipment and the storage of parts and materials.
|Baroness Annara Utoxier-Lee|
Doctor Davidson and his lab boys where waiting for her as the car pulled up. There was a lot of activity on the range of late. With the Isolationist's attacks picking up this range was one of the few places that could be said to be safe. With over 200 miles of open desert all around it was a little hard to attack. The Army and Navy boys where here testing things. She got out the car and walked over to Davidson.
"Baroness it is always a good to see you, how is your father."
She winced a bit when he said her title.
"He's well John, look with the army boys here Davidson lets keep it 1st name."
he smiled, liking the dropping of formality's.
"Good Annara, and happy he is well, so lets get to it. We have done the alterations you asked for. I must say all this secrecy seems a bit over the top and way you would wish to have all manufacturing and identity markings removed is beyond me but its been done."
She looked over the tables of Weapons and other item.
"Need to know John so no more asking alright"
She winked at him, but her intent was clear,
Don't ask again or say anything to anyone or bad things etc.
"Well lets get started, now this I know you would want to see 1st, its the laser Rifle you asked us customise for you."
He picked up a bulbous looking weapon, A cable linked it to a back pack on the table. He took aim and pressed the fire stub. A near invisible beam shot out and it a water melon some 100m away. It Exploded as the been superheated and burned thought it.
"recycle time is 6 seconds so you may be better of in a fire-fight with that Heavy Auto-Pistol you like so much, but at range and with the scope, its the best we have."
She took it from his hand, it was Heavy, buts he could carry it.
"The back pack?
He passed it to her
"You will get around 100 shots from it before a recharge, witch is good. The bad news is, it will take around 8 hours to recharge so we have giving you 5 power packs and a rack charger."
She hefted it in her hands.
"That's light, we shave some weight of it for you, the production model that's going into full manufacturer for the Army will be 3Kg heavier. Its not something to take on a ling hike."
She put it back down and went over to the other item, this was going to be a long day, they had much to test and check.
"I have to be heading up to the ISS tonight, this is all coming with me. So John lets go the rest checked"
Vathan was very happy to "jettison" his marine uniform. He never really preferred the cut to his old Army gear. He laundered his 3-piece suit with the tailored undercover vest and stored it, so he could get to the vest easily. He went shopping for gear and personal items: a couple of new pairs of boots, quality hats, etc.
He stayed away from Annara as much as possible. However, he took every opportunity to meet and greet others of the crew. Customizing his purchases for their tastes if possible...
I think everyone's done except Vathan, but as Aannara says, nothing should affect the jump.
The ship spends a couple of days travelling out to the warp point. With the much more efficient engines, and the ability to refuel itself in about 8 hours with a convenient gas planet, the ship can burn fuel a lot more than the Dawn could.
Upon arrival, the crew picks 2 of the drones, and tops off their half-empty tanks completely, and two more and top them off enough to maneuver on the other side. 50 tons of fuel, - 25 tons, 25 tons of fuel remaining
Then four of the drones make transit to through the warp point.
It's a very tense eight hours as two drones spread out, and two stay on station at the warp point. All four gathering as much information as they can on passive sensors.
Finally, eight hours, 12 minutes, and 14 seconds later, a drone appears out of nowhere 30,000 kilometers away from the ship, and begins transmitting data.
The images show a bright white star in the far distance, consistent with Milthana's primary, as are the background star patterns, which the computer confirms after a few minutes.
Radio spectrum for the entire eight hours detects nothing not natural. Only random background hiss and static from the star.
Finally, the ship moves up next to the now almost fuelless drone, and the countdown begins. 10... 9.. 8.. 7.. 6.. 5.. 4.. 3.. 2.. 1.. TRANSIT -2.5 tons of fuel, 22.5 tons remaining
And the display screen on the ship changes. The formerly yellow spectrum sun vanishes, and a more distant and hotter white star takes it's place.
Everyone make a d20 check, if you roll a 1, you have translation sickness. Then make a fort save, DC 15 to avoid puking. About 5% of the population is susceptible to translation sickness.