|The Abyss Staring Back|
A good two weeks before your selection to crew Explorator 4, otherwise known as Desna’s Reach, Explorator 2 left orbit around Bretheda and entered into Drift space to explore a sector of space galactically north of the Pact Worlds System. The second of five ships to be completed through the very public Explorator project it was named Sarenrae’s Light in keeping with the naming convention of Weydan’s Will the first of the explorator fleet to go galactically south of the system. Explorator 3, known as Iomedae’s Heart still needed to be fully supplied and its crew trained by the time of your recruitment. Accepted or not it was pretty clear from the outset that mere acceptance was just the start. Hours of filling out paperwork, contracts, liability forms, release forms, emergency contacts, surveys, interview agreements and a whole blur of other forms, documents, genetic imprint worms, and magical microgeas.
Then came the physicals, the psych exams, the numerous interviews so long and so thorough you felt your brain melting inside your skull as yet another corporate shill discussed mission goals and worst case scenarios and your “qualifications”. You swore if you heard the word “qualifications” one more time you were going to qualify a bullet in someone’s smug forehead.
Thankfully after being on the receiving end of hours of scrutiny you got your clean bill of health, mostly clean mental health, and whatever misgivings your interviewers had about you didn’t seem to amount to much. All done right?
Next came the training. Training for handling boarding emergencies, hull breaches, xeno infestation, dimensional rift protocols, radiation leaks, drift engine failure, arcanofusion reactor breach, choking hazards, and sudden dead officer simulations. Four weeks of grueling training. For the military among you getting into the groove of such trials was a matter of knocking off the rust and getting back into step. For the civilians to whom it was the first time donning anything resembling a uniform it was a lot more drudgery.
As the weeks grinded on however the reason for such intense training became clear. It happened during meal time when Sir Oliver complained about the massive quantity and lesser quality of mamy of the supplies being brought aboard when the Station was little more than a week away from anywhere.
Then Moira chimed in saying that it would be a week back but several months to a year just to get where they started essentially negating the supply journey. Melfecor confirmed sayong somberly that the strength of the Starstone is both savior and trap as the Drift currents get stronger the closer to the station.
Moira likened it to swimming at a beach with no tide. Going out into the water the current constantly batters you back but eases up as you get farther. Drift beacons work much the same way. The signal off the starstone is so strong however that its own frequency has an affect on all others. So while riding the current of one beacon you will be pulled back by the Starstone. The effect is subtle but significant over time. Of course before Melfecor could enthusiastically get into the math of Drift dynamics in unbeaconed systems and the theoretical Drift “undercurrent” Sir Oliver begged them to stop.
But the point was made. If you had to limp back to Absalom Station the mission was finished whether complete or not.
From there the drills and training continued but taken a little bit more seriously. Afterall no one wanted to have to return to the station for a stupid and easily avoidable mistake.
After this came about a week of public appearances, interviews, news reports, and talk show sit ins. It was necessary, sadly, the Explorator project was a public project and many of the companies and organizations who donated funding and technology relied on public opinion to get said resources. It wasn’t long before it became clear who withered in the spotlight and who thrived. Pretty much the entire crew, filled with hardened military vets, socially awkward scientists, and dirty foul mouthed engineers whose skill with rapid calculation was second only to creative insults were not really asked for more of the same after one or two such appearances. The captain however, a woman accustomed to appearances in order to propose projects, present findings, or occasionally lead a sermon fell comfortably into the role of ship’s representative. Then there was Ko. Charming, beautiful, and always ready with a well timed joke or flutter of her silveryt eyelashes it wasn’t long in the week before she got her own fan base. The mail that came in afterward mostly favored her, and just before you were pushed back into another day of drills she received an oil on canvas painting of herself in the nude laying among velvet sheets. Of course being the conceited drow that she was it was immediately hung in her quarters.
With another day of drills behind you to keep you sharp you are finally given one week to get your affairs in order before you would be going on a very long mission into deeps space. In one week Desna’s Reach would be released from dry dock. In one week Explorator 4 would slip into Drift space around the Starstone and not comeback for four long years.
Yet the most unnerving points about the crew were Ko and the masked Threnedar. Ko represented something about your ancient history you were unfamiliar with, and the little you knew of the drow turned your stomach. Knowing that one of that race would be on board made you somewhat uneasy. Yet Threnedar was worse. His emotions and deep monotoned bass were hard to read and he seemed to be observing you at all times. You knew of the elves of Castrovel and their views on others races. You simply did not have cause to share them. In fact the way they handled themselves made them just as foreign and alien to you as the robotic priest or the willful telepathic captain. At least the science was good, even if you had to work with a floating brain as a partner.
The science here was good. The equipment was good. Now all that had to happen was surviving the trip.
Please go ahead and post a summary of what you do the week before launch to get you in the game proper. Once everyone is onboard I'll get us going towards the first real mission