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SPACEHOUNDS Chapter 1


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1

"There is an Emergency"

June 3rd 2093, Vesta Drill Zone #4

The massive laser drills blasted into the rock with no sound since the whole area was in vacuum, but still the violent process vibrated the surfaces that were affected sending ripples of shock waves as ton after ton of rock was superheated and pulverized by the energy transfer. Smaller lasers would have melted the rock but would have taken three to four times to remove only a quarter of the material and so these behemoth lasers powered by the latest in fusion generators had been built to simply pulverize the stone into fine debris which could be hauled out of the tunnels and refined into a usable component at low cost and convenience.

Several kilometers away behind the laser drills a tracked crawler sat with the drill crew monitoring the massive machines ahead. The vehicle, Crawler Six, was parked and braced, held stationary by four extended arms which kept it stable. Still the vibrations of the distant drilling could be felt through the floor of the vehicle transmitted by the treads and the supports. At 0507 GMT, which was the universal clock used by all off world persons regardless of local rotation or lack thereof, Christina Gold, one of the drilling roughnecks, felt an unusual uptick in the vibrations which all of the crew had grown accustomed too, and basically ignored. But to Christina this felt odd, in fact something had been bothering her all day, something had set her teeth on edge and this just didn’t feel right.

Chris looked at her panels and could see no tell tales or alarms but then she felt the vibrations shift again. “Hey Don, did you fell that?”

Don Patterson, Crawler Sixes crew chief, didn’t even look up from the video letter from home he was watching, no alarms or signals had sounded on his boards, so he felt no need to look away from his six year old twin daughters playing with the puppy their grandparents had gifted them on their 8th birthday. The second birthday in a row he had missed because of this long-distance job. “Feel what Chris?”

The crawlers third crewman, the driver, Joss Hardin was standing in the galley alcove pouring a coffee into an LG bulb, looked back at Chris with a leering grin, “I’ll give it a feel if ya want, Gold.”

Chris gave the want to be cowboy a sharp look and felt the vibrations through her feet grow into tremors. Before she could say anything, multiple alarms sounded, and the Crawler lurched sideways and then back throwing Hardin against the bulkhead where he hit his head hard and fell to the floor which was now shaking violently. Outside the front window Don Patterson could see rocks falling from the tunnel roof and as he watched, a fissure opened in the rock ceiling stretching back in the direction of the drilling. His eye followed that fissure his mind reeling. Vesta was no longer volcanic, if it ever had been it was geologically dead now and had been for eons, the asteroid was solid rock, as solid as anything in the universe could be, this wasn’t possible!

His had reached out instinctively and smashed the kill switch which would shut down all of the drills being controlled by their crawler. At least that’s what was supposed to happen, and maybe it did.

Christina Gold screamed as she saw the wall of blue flame boiling through the tunnel from the direction of the drill. A scream which was cut off as it swallowed the crawler…

 

11:38CST (0538 GMT) Houston Texas, United States, Earth

The apartment AI had woken Ayato less than ten minutes ago and before he had even put on his robe the holographic figure of his boss, Madeline Freeling, a statuesque blond made even more so by the towering hairdo currently in style, appeared and with zero pleasantries had launched into why she was waking him up in the middle of the night.

“There has been an accident on Vesta, one fatality and two critically injured. TerraCor is in panic mode. They want those two injured back asap for treatment and they want to get some expert out there to see what went wrong. We have the contract and Polaris is the on-call ship.

We have already alerted your flight crew. Your ship is being prepped and loaded, the passenger should be on his way to the port and I want you to be lifting no later than 4 AM. It should take you a little more than three and a half days at cruising speed there and back plus however long it takes to load the injured parties. So we told TerraCor it would take eight days round trip.” She paused but before Ayato could say a word spoke again. “Oh and Joe Frank’s has had a medical emergency and can’t make the flight so your third seat is being filled by a new hire. Rachel Eisley, she’s new with us, but she has a very good record. We have used her a couple of times for orbital and lunar flights. Highly recommended.

Any questions?”

Spoiler

everyone has received pretty much the same call as ayato, if you wish to post taking your own calls or to pose your own questions you may do so by assuming that what Freeling told Ayato she also told your characters. background TerraCor is one of the corporations which help build the base on the moon and are build the first deep space asteroid habitat on vesta this is a huge muti billion dollar contract which if it fails will ruin a lot of peoples lives. The accident has not hit the news yet in case you check.

Coriolis Systems is Based in Houston and operates mostly out of the Houston space port (a real thing by the way) so while you don't have to be from Houston or even the US you do pretty much have to have a residence there for when you ship is on call about once ever six weeks when you are between flights

if you have any other questions ask in OOC or PM

 

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Ayato frowned briefly , he knew they were on call, but they'd returned not even twenty four hours before.   He still had plenty of his stocks aboard, but he'd have to bring some from home to top up on the ship.   "I trust we'll be provided with priority landing clearance  and updated  charts with any new hazards nearby, to expedite out turnaround."   A nod confirmed this, and hen offered a smile.  "Very well, I'll report to the ship to get our preflight checks going, and get the ball rolling."

He was pretty sure this would be a relative milk run, with only two casualties coming back and one specialist going out it wouldn't be anything worse than some of the runs he'd done.  Still once the call was ended he gathered up his kit, thankful he'd already had his clothes cleaned, and packed for the 8 day trip.   He made sure to grab some of his crew's favorite staples, ensuring they'd have enough at least for the trip.  That done, he exit his apartment and locked up, and head down to drive to the station.  Leaving his vehicle in the designated lot, he made his way to the Coriolis Hangar where the Polaris was waiting.   

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"Merde!" Yseult cursed, softly but emphatically, when she saw the priority message icon flash red in the corner of the Holo-display. "Work, it is calling, mon coeur, d'urgence, je pense."

She gave an aggrieved snort her husband, François, still found adorable, arranging her silvery, satin kimono into a more decorous state, to François incorrigible regret . Yseult had been irritated to find they had been on the roster to be on call so soon after their last run. She'd been eager to return home to Montréal to spend time with her husband and her children - Holo-presence wasn't nearly the same.

She'd read her daughter, Monique, and son, Loric, each a bedtime story earlier, and was in the midst of more animated and prurient... 'conversation' with her husband when the call came in.  She blew him a kiss, her fingers stretching to meet those of her husband's fashioned of photons. "I am hoping this will not be making the time on call longer, François, and I am being back home au début de la semaine prochaine. Give Monique and Loric hugs for me, mon amour. À bientôt."

Yseult watched the image of her husband fade away with a resigned sigh, then using a dark window as a mirror, made sure she was minimally presentable, running a hand through her short, dark hair,  before answering the priority message.

"Oui, Madame Freeling, qu'est-ce qui se passe? " Yseult answered her boss with just a hint of suspicion and resentment in her lilting French accent.

"Here's the situation, Langlois," Madeline Freeling said, having grown used to Yseult's manner of mixing French and English, and beginning explaining what happened on Vesta and what was in store for Polaris and its crew. Even when she didn't entirely understand what Yseult was saying, Madeline could usually figure it out given the context.

"Me, I am not liking taking Polaris back up so soon without giving the GI Drive a thorough diagnostic scan," Yseult said after hearing what Freeling had to say, a small frown on her face as she tapped her lips with a forefinger in thought. "I am being reluctant to stress the Drive unless it is being of the utmost necessity."

"You shouldn't have too, that's why we told TerraCor it would take eight days," Freeling assured her still somewhat bitter Gravity Drive Specialist. "But you should get going if you want to keep that deadline."

"D'accord!" Yseult agreed with a scowl as she stood up from the sofa.

~~+~~+~~+~~+~~+~~+~~+~~+~~+~~+~~+~~

Yseult took a quick, cold shower to wake up and tamp down the effects of a glass of wine, the moved swiftly through her small, elegantly spartan apartment in Houston. She'd taken few pains to personalize the place. Even when she had been in Research & Development, she hadn't visited Coriolis Systems HQ that often, able to do much of her work remotely from their home in Montreal, which François had designed. That was home, her place in Houston was just a place to sleep and eat when she was in town. Though had been in Houston far more in the last year...

Clean and dressed in understatedly fashionable professional attire, personal toolkit and diagnostic equipment in hand, Yseult took the lift down to the underground garage, then climbed into her modest car, directing it to drive her to the spaceport, as it had done many times. As the striking scientist reclined in her seat with the near inaudible hum of the electric vehicle, she pondered on what they circumstances on Vesta actually were and who this expert they would be taking along could be.

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One of the first things Karen learned in the Corps was to value what rest you could get. Never knew when the next problem to solve was going to rear it's head.

Case in point: being woken up just before midnight by her boss with orders to get back to the ship less than a day after getting off it. Nothing for it and no point in kvetching, though. Lives were at stake.

"...Yes, M'am," the sturdy blond replied with the lilt of false cheer in her voice, adrenaline fighting the sleep off. The woman in the image nodded once and flickered out of existence, leaving Karen sitting in her bed. Okay, step one: coffee. Step two: thank God she had picked up more coffee for the trip out with her groceries today. Step three: come up with enough steps to shit, shower, and get back in time to run through at least a basic safety check or four before lift off. Coriolis System employed good people, but she'd sooner go into a firefight without checking her rifle than climb aboard the Polaris without eyes and hands on at least a few of the more troublesome systems.

A rifle didn't fly, breath, communicate, and shelter for you in the middle of an infinitely hungry void, after all.

"At least I had sushi today," Karen joked to her empty apartment bedroom, stretching out some of the kinks, a frown marring her lips for a moment as she pondered the bare patches on her walls and furniture where Mags' stuff had been all too shortly ago. She shook her head, slapped her cheeks a few times to clear the regret, focused back on the urgent now, and wondered if her neighbor would forgive her for dumping her houseplant on him this late at night. 

Rachel Eisley, huh? Always fun meeting a new crewmate...  

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By the time Crew Chief McKenna arrived at the space port they had already moved the Polaris, CSS 05-07, onto the loading pad and the ground crew were finishing the loading of the nuclear fuel pellets for the reactor and the reaction mass for the maneuver rockets. She was the first of the flight crew to arrive and she waved greetings to the ground crew working at the aft of the spacecraft as she jogged up the roll-away stairs leading into the ship.

She paused as she entered through the open main airlock and checked the posted sign-off list showing that the ground prep had been completed all except final fueling which was being done as she read the list, and that all standard stores had been loaded as well as additional non-mission cargo for the Vesta Project. Apparently TerraCor wasn’t going to pay the fees to get a ship out there asap and not take advantage of the full resources of the spacecrafts hold.

She ducked down the hall and to her small cabin to deposit her bag then headed aft to take the small elevator platform down to the cargo deck. Once there she donned her power frame and went a through the airlock into the hold itself to make sure everything was where she thought it should be as well as secured.

…………..

Meanwhile back in the terminal , Captain Ayato Nishima and Co-Pilot  Arjun Connery had met up while signing in at administration and receiving their flight Instructions. The two men had been working for Coriolis Systems for over five years and had fifteen years total of space flight experience between them. They had been flying together for the last two years first in an 0-4 class ship, the Orion, one of the first of the operational GID equipped ships, and for the last two flights in a brand new 0-5 class. This would be that vehicles first deep space flight; in fact it would be the first deep space flight for any of the new 0-5 models.

As the two pilots finished up and talked over the flight plan the were joined by their GID Specialists  Yseult Langlois. Yseult had been an R&D Engineer who had been transferred to the flight service a little more than a year ago, she had flown a few flights before joining their old ship, the Orion 04-12, on the last few flights before that ship was replaced by Polaris. These three, along with Karen McKenna, who had been flying with Nashima since before they both joined Coriolis, and Joe Franks, who had been their navigator/flight operations officer prior to this flight, were one of highest, if not the highest, rated flight crews in the company.

The two men waited as Yseult checked in and received her flight orders then the three called an electric shuttle cart to take them out to where Polaris waited.

………….

Aboard the Polaris, McKenna was busy rearranging some of the cargo to more of her liking, not that it really needed it, she just liked to make things in her bays…well hers, when her helmet speaker spoke softly. “Karen,” the personal assistant AI said just loud enough to get Karen’s attention, “the ground crew say that there is someone outside who needs to speak with a ships officer. The Captain and Mr. Connery are still at the terminal so your it.” There was a hint of amusement in the AI’s voice.

Karen stepped out onto the same stair she had entered the ship some time ago and looked down at an attractive woman in a gold jumpsuit with some sort of medical emblem on her shoulder and a truck with two large capsules in its bed.

“Hello, I’m Carrie Dawes,” the woman called up to the figure in the imposing work frame, “I’m with Interplanetary Medical.” She gestured back at the truck. “I need to get these loaded aboard and set up.”

Spoiler

Carrie Dawes, Interplanetary Medical   emma-roberts-the-los-angeles-times-portraits-at-sundance-film-festival-2019-1_thumbnail.thumb.jpg.71423524dadf19c186e486d3541af244.jpg

……………

The cart had arrived and after loading the bag and helping Yseult onto the cart the two men settled in and buckled up. “Take us out to the Polaris 05-07, please?’ asked Connery of the robot vehicle. As the cart started to move a shout from behind them drew their attention and the cart came to a halt having only moved a couple of meters.

Coming out of the terminal trotting carrying two large bags was a middle-aged dark-skinned man. He was bearded and wore eyeglasses which looked functional and not just decorative. His hair was close cropped and was sprinkled with gray as was his beard. “Capt. Nashima?” he asked breathlessly as he caught up to them. He looked back and forth between he three on the cart.

Spoiler

Barry Todd  pmxma4z5804a4zaa.jpg.d4d6dbb959bf26f3c5feb88d43ed9690.jpg

Spoiler

Max you can have Rachel arrive at anytime if you have any questions PM me.

 

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"I'm Captain Nishima."  Ayato said with a practiced ease.   It wasn't that he didn't like command, he just preferred to be abit more laid back.   Becoming a Captain meant more responsibility, and more duties, paperwork chief among them.   It was a hassle he didn't enjoy, but out of his crew, he was definitely the best suited.  

"Can I help you with something?" His tone was calm and even, with no hint of annoyance or impatience.   He'd been warned that there'd be a civilian traveling with them.  A quick check of the flight orders revealed that this man was Barry Todd, and the civilian who'd be joining them on this trip.

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The man blinked rapidly several time, "Ah Nishima, sorry about that," he gave a nervous laugh, "I'm Barry Todd, I'm the reason your going to Vesta. Mind if I catch a ride out to your ship?"

Connery hopped down and grabbed Todd's bags while Todd climbed aboard. Once Arjun was back aboard the cart continued onto the field.

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"I see."   Knowing it was policy not to talk about the mission outside, he waited to pose his questions about just who Todd was, and why  it was so essential that he join their trip to Vesta.  "Welcome aboard then.  We'll get you and your gear squared away, and I have my own duties to take care of, but I'll make some time and you can explain what you mean by that."

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Yseult shifted and recrossed her legs to give the new arrival more space in the back seat beside her, giving the new arrival a brief smile and a nod in greeting. Her dark hair ruffled with the speed of their passage, glistening tresses flashing under the passing lights illuminating the tarmac. The crew of the Polaris hadn't treated her any differently for the most part, even after being reassigned from R&D, Yseult still considered herself a civilian.

Through her innate reserve, she tried to be gracious to their passenger. "Bonsoir, Monsieur Todd. I am the hoping you are being able to tell more of what is happening on Vesta," Yseult echoed Ayato in her accented English, "so we are knowing what we are getting Polaris into."

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On 1/10/2020 at 4:04 PM, Spacehound Director said:

Aboard the Polaris, McKenna was busy rearranging some of the cargo to more of her liking, not that it really needed it, she just liked to make things in her bays…well hers, when her helmet speaker spoke softly. “Karen,” the personal assistant AI said just loud enough to get Karen’s attention, “the ground crew say that there is someone outside who needs to speak with a ships officer. The Captain and Mr. Connery are still at the terminal so your it.” There was a hint of amusement in the AI’s voice.

Karen stepped out onto the same stair she had entered the ship some time ago and looked down at an attractive woman in a gold jumpsuit with some sort of medical emblem on her shoulder and a truck with two large capsules in its bed.

“Hello, I’m Carrie Dawes,” the woman called up to the figure in the imposing work frame, “I’m with Interplanetary Medical.” She gestured back at the truck. “I need to get these loaded aboard and set up.”

  Reveal hidden contents

Carrie Dawes, Interplanetary Medical   emma-roberts-the-los-angeles-times-portraits-at-sundance-film-festival-2019-1_thumbnail.thumb.jpg.71423524dadf19c186e486d3541af244.jpg

 

Well, Hellooo..!

Karen was glad for her face concealing helmet, even as she smiled and flicked her eyes up and down once. Wouldn't be proper to immediately hit on the life-saving specialist. Still... Nice. She mentally measured the two capsules aboard the truck to the space in her hold and came up with an easy fit. "A pleasure to meet you. Karen McKenna. I'm the crew chief aboard. Get you and your gear aboard in no time," she replied confidently, work frame whirring slightly as she gestured with one arm, "Come around to the loading ramp."

"They will need to be installed in an accessible area, preferably one of the private sleep cabins," Dawes answered after a pause, "Not now. I can do that once we're underway, Chief McKenna."

"Gotcha. Call me Karen though. Please," the former Marine waved off before stalking out of sight of the ladder even as she picked up the truck's engine starting up again. Despite making her taller and bulkier by a fair margin, the miracle of modern electronics, the sensors in her skin-tight, padded contact suit, and of course, extensive training kept her motions fluid in the suit. It was no Marine Corps Mk III like she had qualified on, but the Space Industrial Mk II had it's own graces. If she ever didn't care about losing her operator's liscense for illegal modifications, she could soup it up with some choice improvements given the right parts, software patches, and elbow grease...

Another day, another problem, though. Karen was striding down the loading ramp towards the truck and it's passenger as it backed up under the guidance of one of the ground crew. Time to go to work. 

 

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pJ1TwcC.jpgRachel got up early for her first day on the Polaris. She wanted to make a good impression. Extra time in the shower to do a little scented bodywash, fixed up her hair, picked out some accessories for her outfit... Then she had to go reading her email one last time before heading out. Her heart sank a little.

Rosa May. Of course.

Dear One. Even though you are going so far away, you will be missed. Let your voice be heard throughout space! Anyone can tell who deserves that spot on the crew roster. You.

Too many times you've fallen just fingertips short, but this isn't just your time. It's ours.

She deleted the email with a roll of her eyes. Ugh, what a pain. But she wouldn't let that ruin her mood, oh no. With a quick twist of her wrist she turned on her smartwatch and looked up the local theater. Most of the stuff was too long, but if she was in the mood for a kid's show...sure, that'd work. Something cheery. Perfect.

So it was a little longer before a taxi rolled up to the port terminal and let her out. Fortunately, Rachel was traveling light and wearing comfortable shoes. One matte grey hardshell suitcase on rollers and a handbag and a technicolor duffel slung over her shoulder would see her through a whole term of duty shuttling people and cargo around the inner solar system. She got to the checkpoint and despite her impatience waited calmly as the officer on duty saw her 'crew' badge and waved her across.

Then Rache flagged down a passing carrier and got a ride over to the tarmac where the Polaris was being loaded prior to it moving out to the launch bay for liftoff. Judging by the rapidly dwindling set of containers and supplies, they were just about to be ready to get underway.

Cutting it a little close there, Rosa.

Breaking into a wide, radiant grin, she asked the carrier to stop and gathered her stuff to make the run over to the Polaris' loading ramp.

"Hey!" she called. "You guys going my way?!"

Edited by SalmonMax
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While the cart traveled the quarter mile to where the Polaris sat Barry Todd leaned forward and turned slightly so everyone could hear. “I don’t know, everything at this point is conjecture. As you know we are building a massive habitat on Vesta. Our first real interplanetary colony aside from Mars which has been somewhat of a disappointment.

To do that we are going to have to do most of the construction under ground and that means drilling large tunnels in which to construct the habitats. That is where I come in. I’m a structural engineer, one of the lead developers in the habitat design. According the messages from last night one of the drill shafts seems to have collapsed, which should not have been possible.

And so they are sending me out there to figure out what happened and why. That and to get the injured back asap is why you’re going.”

He finished just as the cart rolled to a stop next to a second cart and a young woman dressed in a Coriolis flight suit, Rachel Eisley, Polaris’ new Flight Operations Officer. It seemed questions for their passenger would have to wait.

Aboard the ship McKenna and Dawes were just finishing securing the Life Support capsules when the rest of the crew and their other Passenger came aboard.

Spoiler

small post to get everyone together and set. RP a bit if you want. if there are no post in a day I will move to launch

 

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Rachel's interrupt at the end of a most interesting conversation...

"So, Doc. Tell me about yourself," Karen called over her shoulder with entirely too much causal confidence for a woman hefting a box of delicate medical gear larger than most of her body, her movements sure and steady.

"I'm a medical technician, not a doctor, Chief Mckenna…" answered Dawes with a hint of nervousness, standing by with a strap to help secure the equipment.

Thunk. The box hit the deck and the former marine stepped back to give it a critical gaze, turning around in a whir of servos and internally mourning the faceless surface of her helmet as she picked up the hint of nervousness in the blonde not-a-doctor. "I said to call me Karen. Gonna spend enough time in this tin can that titles will get old fast," she commented brightly, pausing, "...I'm sorry. First time off of terra firma?"

Dawes shook her head and moved past Karen's armored bulk,  hooking the strap in the deck and running it over the box, "No. I've done a few runs  to orbit and to Galileo Dome once. It... is my first time going out this far, Ch... Karen."

The former Marine laughed and moved to unsecure the second box, servos whirring gently as she talked, "Ah. You're in luck then. Our drive engineer is the best in the business, the reason we can go as far and fast as we do. System purrs like a kitten. And our pilot? Hard to say if he's better in the cockpit or the kitchen, but he's damn good in both. I wouldn't trade this crew for anything."

"You don't say," came the reply back, just the faintest hint of amused doubt at Karen's hyperbole.

"I do say," bounce back Karen's answer, daring Carrie to doubt her, easy banter even as they unloaded and secured the life-saving technology.

"Welcome back, Captain," she offered to Ayato with a cheerful salute and what would have been a wink at the medic if she wasn't still in her helmet, "This is our Medic for the run, Ms. Carrie Dawes. Who are our two new friends?"   

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Ayato betrayed none of the concern he felt at Barry's revelation, but it if he had to put money on it, Barry was the real reason for the trip.   As they arrived and Karen introduced the new medical officer, he smiled returning the salute.  "I am Captain Nishima, it's a pleasure to meet you Ms. Dawes.   I trust we're in good hands.   This is Dr. Yesult Langlois, our Gravity Drive specialist.  The other gentlman is Barry Todd, a structural Engineer and specialist that needs a ride out."  He nodded.  "We've got some time before launch, so lets go ahead and get gear squared away quickly.   I want to get started on all the checks, and make sure The Nav data and updated charts are sent over.   I know most of us have done similar runs, and that yes we were supposed to get at least 72 hours downtime.  I don't make the rules though, so all we can do is endure.   It'll be three days out and back, and we've got eight to handle the whole affair."  

He gave them all a knowing smile.  "I'll take requests once we're underway."

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Yseult suppressed a shudder at the mention of the Vesta habitat in progress. Her husband may have been an architect, and was interested in designing structures for other planets, more as a mental exercise than in actuality, but she herself wanted nothing to do with living off planet. She still wasn't entirely sanguine about working aboard spacecraft rather than designing their propulsion systems.

The attractive, reserved scientist nodded at their new crewwoman and additional passenger. "C'est un plaisir, madmoiselles Eisley et Dawes." Her dark eyes turned to Ayato, not concealing the hint of irritation at having her down-time interrupted. "The checks on the drive, me, I will be taking the extra time with them with us going back up so soon, Ayato."

Her lips twitched in the briefest of smiles. "And I am hoping that we are having the makings for the pastries this time."

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Rachel gave a smile and a nod to each of the crewmembers as they were introduced, and then chimed in when it was her turn.

"For anyone who doesn't already know, I'm Rachel Eisley, hi. Great meeting everyone.  I'm the navigator, so I'll be going over that data and charts, reviewing the course and possibly make a little tweaks. In this case, since speed is of the essence, if the captain gives the green light for using reserve fuel, we can probably get a speed-for-efficiency tradeoff that'll get us there a bit faster."

She made a little 'pistol-finger' gesture at Ayato. "I'll get the actual numbers for you shortly though. I can get my gear stowed when we're underway."

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Arjun chuckled at Yseult’s question and patted Ayato on the back, “ I’ll head upfront and get things started while you take care of all of this,” he said with another chuckle and a wave of his hand indicating the passenger compartment. With a smile to the new arrivals Arjun left through the forward iris disappearing down the hall to the control room.

Not liking the laugh from the co-pilot Yseult raised an eyebrow at the Spacecrafts captain. Ayato grimace then smiled at his engineer, “I’m sorry Yseult, I didn’t make it to the market, it was on my list of things to do today,” he shrugged, “but I did grab as much as I could from my kitchen at home.”

 With smiles and a bit more small talk, the crew set about final prep for launch. Ayato took a few minutes greeting technician Dawes and helping both her and Mr. Todd settle before turning them over to Karen, who got both of them settled in to separate sleep cabins and showed them how to get into the space suits they would have to wear for the launch in case of an emergency.

“Why do we have to wear suits during launch, but not the rest of the time,” asked Todd?

Karen smiled as she made an adjustment to the shorter man neck ring. “Well its really just a holdover from the ballistic rocket launches we used to have to use. With the impeller the risk of an explosion is so small its not really a factor. They will eventually change it but until they do…” she let the sentence fall as she completed the fitting.

After everyone was suited up and settled into the passenger cabin, Karen gave the passengers they tried and ture safety lecture, while Ysuelt had gone aft to inspect the GID compartment and the conventional engines, and the Captain and Rachel joined Arjun in the control compartment.

As the two pilots and the flight operations officer began working their checklists Arjun kept a close eye on Rachel. Not ever having flown with her he had a that unfounded nagging sensation which eventually led him to ask her a question, “Ms. Eisley, have you ever flown in an 05 before?”

Rachel didn’t even blink at the question, “No sir this is my first time.”  The answer was dead pan and nonchalant.

Argun opened his mouth but was too shocked to speak, even Ayato paused and glanced back at the new officer who didn’t seem to notice. The two pilots exchanged worried looks.

Rachel couldn’t keep it in anymore and she laughed which drew their double gaze again. “I’m joking. I’ve been flying 04s since they were cleared for commercial use and Coriolis put me into the new 05s when I came over. I haven’t been out far but I dare say I have had probably as much if not more flight time in 05s then you two.” She finished by flashing them a sweet smile.

The three officers laughed and shared a few more tales as they finished up and were joined by Yseult who took her seat at the back of the compartment across from Rachel, Karen took her seat in the Passenger cabin facing the two non-crew members. On flights with no passengers she would have flown forward with the rest of the crew.

Once everyone was seated and strapped in Ayato spoke with the tower and after a few minute was given the clearance to launch. Switches were thrown and commands given and the ship literally lept upward under impeller with a rush of air turbulence and the clap of thunder as the little ship breached the sound-barrier.

Inside the ship the was no sense of motion and no sound other than a change in the background hum of the power systems. The only way to tell that they had even left the ground was by looking out of the small portholes. Todd, who had never flown into space before, did just that and suffered an immediate sense of vertigo as the ground dropped away and his mind couldn’t quite grasp that he was moving.

“It’s best if you don’t look out the first few times, Mr Todd,” said Carrie with a consoling smile to the dark-skinned man. “Once you’re in space and things are farther away it’s easier and you’ll get used to it then the launches won’t bother you anymore.”

Barry swallowed his desire to vomit and glanced first at Carrie then forward at Karen who nodded in agreement. He leaned back and closed his eyes and prayed.

 

The Polaris soared higher and higher into and through orbit, at a constant 1g acceleration speed was gained rapidly  with the pull of the earth negated. They flew toward and past the moon and said beyond toward deep space. The occupants of the small spacecraft removed their suits and made themselves comfortable and settled in for the three-day voyage to Vesta.

Ayato came back accompanied by Rachel and Yseult, leaving Arjun on watch. He looked around and smiled at everyone, “Anyone hungry?”

 

Spoiler

The voyage will take three days. Flying the ship is an arduous task which cannot be turned over to an auto-pilot due to the way gravity changes and the way impellers work. There for a certified pilot must be at the controls whenever the ship is under drive. The first three seats are always certified to pilots and so each of them, including the flight operations officer, will usually stand watches and fly the ship. Watches are generally 6 hours and the ship is under drive during the whole watch.  The fourth watch is usually the sleep watch and during this time the drive is disengaged and the ship coasts. Because of this flight time are calculated at a constant 1 g acceleration, but with the ship coasting for 6 hours at 0 accel the accel time lost is made up over the other two watches with higher acceleration.

Use this time to RP between yourselves I will chime in as an npc when needed

 

 

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"I can eat," volunteered Karren with a chuckle, much less intimidatingly bulky out of her power armor and fit body dressed in the normal shipboard coveralls. A bit of helmet hair frizzed off her blonde locks, eyes dancing with laughter.

"Always better to give a ship's tour on a full stomach anyway should anyone wish to accompany me on my first underway rounds aboard ship," she added with another thought, "The Polaris has her quirks like any other ship, so best to know which strange vibration is actually normal." 

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Yseult ran her fingers briskly through her short, raven hair until it was styled to her satisfaction, or least to what she could accept without a brush. She gave Ayato a small nod, pressing fist to her lips to stifle a yawn.

"Perhaps a small bite to eat, Ayato." She gave Karren a brief smile of feigned regret. "No tour pour moi, Karren. Me, I am needing the rest. I was speaking with François when the call is coming in and had not gone to sleep yet. The impeller drive, everything is being in expected tolerances, but if there are being changes, awake me immediately."

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Ayato smiled.  "I'll make something light for now then, and we can have a full meal later on.  Most of us were roused in the middle of sleep i think, so we should all get some rest."   With that he head to the galley, which was relatively small, but at least on his ship, fully stocked and servicable.  It took an Internal affairs investigation, and a trip with a company VIP for them to understand his requests.   Yes, quality of food could actually improve morale and profits, provided someone had the skills to cook.     While he wasn't unique as being able to cook was common, His level of skill, As Pilot, Captain, and Cook were a fairly unique combination.

He set to work making something simple, sandwiches for tonight, for those he knew, he fixed them as they liked them, along with one he'd bring to Arjun once the others had left.   It was meager fare by the normal standards, but he'd make up for it with the next meal.

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The Polaris sails on through the void gaining velocity with every second under drive, passing the heavily inhabited and industrialized Earth orbit then beyond the moon and on towards Mars and the outer system.

Inside there was no sense of motion even looking out the ports failed to give one a sense of anything the Impeller field blurred the stars and made seeing anything with clarity difficult. The crew and passengers watched movies or read, exercised in the small gym and ate fabulously cooked meals. And they slept. Karen had taken Todd and Dawes on a short tour of the vessel as they passed through the inner system answering their many questions. Todd asked lots of technical questions and Dawes was more down to earth about it all.

Carrie had been curious about one thing in particular and she brought it up as Karen the tour had finished “You didn’t point out any life boats.”

Karen nodded “We don’t have any.” She paused and gave the other woman a reassuring smile. “The 05s are their own life boats. If the impeller gives out we still have the rockets which we can use to slow down while we wait for rescue. As long as we have power we have life support and our reactors will run for a couple of years with the fuel we carry.”

Barry frowned, “What if the reactor does go out and we have to abandon ship?”

Arjun who was passing by on his way to the head, paused, ”The only things which could call for the abandoning of a vessel in space, Mr. Todd, would be some sort of catastrophic event in which case…”

He left the rest unsaid and went on into the washroom.

As the ship drew closer to it’s destination Eisly began to notice some odd readings on her gravametric  sensors…

Spoiler

max you can make a test here difficulty 3 to refine the readings get with me for details

 

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"Captain?" Rachel said from the instrument panel she'd taken the station behind. "Getting a strange mass reading ahead." She frowned and adjusted the settings, trying to get something more conclusive than 'strange.'


 

Spoiler

 

Sensors (TN 6): 1d20 7

TN is 6, since she'd trained in Starship Operations

 

 

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Yseult was in the Drive compartment, sitting on a stool, letting the soft, almost living, hum of the impeller drive wash over her. All readings were nominal. She would have preferred a glass of red, but such was frowned up aboard ship when on duty, so she settled for a cup of coffee, the thermal mug warm in her hand as she studied the holographic display emitted by her mini-comp.

 

Fine fingers danced in the air as she made minute adjustments to the illuminated display, theoretical adjustments to a subsystem of the impeller drive, then running it through a simulation, looking for improvements or efficiencies. A full scale lab would be better of course, but she could still work on ideas and hypotheses for later and greater development, and it kept her mind active beyond reading and the occasional escapism of cinema.

 

She had to admit though, there was something different, invigorating, sitting next to a drive in actual use compared to the static and polished environment of the lab. She still missed the R&D facility, but now believed it would serve every researcher and theoretician well to spend time aboard a ship on active duty, to see, to feel, how the various systems and the Gravity Impeller Drive functioned in the field as a whole.

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Ayato had been getting ready to come on for his shift when he got the call.  "Alright, I'm on my way."   She was new to the crew, but Ayato was one who preferred to err on the side of caution, so he didn't mind coming up early to check on these strange readings.    As he entered the bridge, he moved to look over Rachel's shoulder.  After a moment of staring at the screen he saw what she saw.  "Looks to be bigger than a small asteroid, and it shouldn't be here according to the charts they gave us.   I mean I know they can miss the odd asteroid, but not something this big, to noticeably change the charts this much."

He moved back to his station, and sat, pulling it up on his screen, as well   "Normally I'd say we investigate this, but we're on a relief mission  not to mention a schedule.   Plot a course around the disturbance.  We'll make a full sensor sweep as we go, and of course log this anomaly.  Chances are, they'll either send another ship, or supplement our mission orders on the return to Inspect the anomaly."

He knew they had some cushion in their time, but not so much that they could investigate on the way there.

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Rachel shook her head as she kept sifting through the data coming in from the sensors.

 

""The disruption of asteroid orbits is consistent with something more like a small planet," she said. "And it just happened now. We're going to go right through the wake it left." She flicked through some dial settings. "And there's nothing else on any sensors."

 

The only solution she could think of brought an incredulous grin to her face.

 

"Captain, I think this must have been a primordial black hole. I'll see if I can plot its orbit as we get closer to where it passed. Maybe even calculate it's mass. If we know those two things, we can figure out where to find it again."

Edited by SalmonMax
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