Surviving Barotyn

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Surviving Barotyn

Post by Gadreille on Mon May 21, 2012 7:07 pm

Ruie instinctively reached out to push her glasses up her nose – only to find that they weren’t there. It was the fifth time in an hour that she had repeated the gesture of moving the phantom lenses up her nose. She was sitting in the Neinian Atleric Service Shuttle Base, based in the Pcfros Territory. The base was huge, with several large buildings designated for specific tasks. To the left of the building she sat in was the Legacy, the shuttle that would take her and forty-three other passengers out of Xatl’s orbit and into space. The large, empty room she sat in had a row of interconnected seats that faced toward a large glass wall that overlooked the Legacy as it prepared for takeoff. It was much like an airport, where people were supposed to lounge about and wait for their flight. The only difference was that she was the only one in it.

At this point, most people were running about making last minute preparations, and the rest were off saying their goodbyes. There were so many different types of people readying for the big flight – scientists, astronauts, soldiers, and more. She was surprised that out of all these different walks of life, she was the only one who had not enough responsibility to be doing anything of significance, yet not enough ties to home to be off whispering sweet goodbyes to a beloved.

The voice came on over the intercom again. “T Minus Sixteen point Seven point Forty-three.” The dry, male voice read the time slowly and efficiently, it having no other purpose than to remind everyone of how long they had left to prepare. Luckily, the announcement didn’t come on every second, or minute. In fact, Ruie couldn’t make any sense of how often it announced the time before takeoff. It was almost as if it waited until her nerves began to calm before boldly announcing that she had even less time on Xatl before being shot into space, perhaps never to return.

Ruie shook her head again. Stop thinking that way, she told herself, and put her finger to the bridge of her nose to push up her glasses. Only issue was, like last time and all the times before, they weren’t there. She slammed her hand down on the seat beside her and cried out in frustration. She hadn’t even left Xatl yet and already her life had been changed. Eye-corrective surgery had been around for decades, but she had never bothered with it, always preferring her oversized, thick-lensed black rim glasses that she had proudly boasted in middle school. In order to be a part of the team being sent to Barotyn, she had to undergo eye surgery and fix her vision. She could now see perfectly out of her heterochromatic eyes…only, she continued to forget that she could do so. It was one of the many things she had to go through to get in what the doctors called “peak physical condition”. She had to exercise her body and mind for such a journey. The fact was, though no one admitted it, was they had no idea what awaited them as they got there, nor if they would be ready for it.

“Pardon me, Ma’am, may I have a word?” Ruie jumped out of her thoughts, and tore her eyes away from the window to look at the man who had very suddenly appeared beside her. He was standing there, with short black hair and a nice grey suit sans coat, a gentle smile on his face. His accent was not that of the territories, but she couldn’t quite place it. “Sorry, I disturbed you.”

“Um. It’s fine,” she said, and rubbed her face again.

“May I?” He asked, gesturing to the seat beside her.

“S’all yours,” she replied.

“You are Dr. Galecki, aren’t you? The nutritionist?”

Ruie turned and looked at the man in the eye, for the first time. His eyes were grey. “Chemical Nutritionist. Anyway, I’m just Ruie. Uh, who are you?” She nervously tucked her wavy hair behind her ear, only for it to fall back down again.

“Chemical nutritionist. Right, of course. I’m Mr. Sanders,” he said. For the first time she noticed the notebook in his hand.

“Oh, you’re the journalist!” she exclaimed, automatically shrinking away a bit. She wasn’t in the mood to be documented, especially now. Especially with how afraid she felt. She turned away from him and looked back out the window.

He laughed and shut his notebook, tucking it back into his vest pocket. “Off the books then,” he reassured her. “I could use someone to talk to. You see these N.A.S. men walking around here like they do every day, as if their lives aren’t about to change forever. It would be nice to have a conversation that is still here on Xatl,” he rubbed his hand through his black hair as he laughed again.

“You’re not…not gonna just walk off and jot it all down later then?” She asked him.

“No, no, it doesn’t work that way. Besides, this is a long journey. Who knows how much I’ll have to cover? If I had a chapter dedicated to you, you’d definitely already know about it.”

The thought of it made her laugh. She wasn’t a person that people wrote books about. She was a person that wrote articles and prayed that a journal would accept it. She was a person that dreaded the teaching part of her research. She was not a star. It still baffled her that she was chosen for this voyage. “How can you be so easygoing? You don’t feel that" – she touched her stomach – "queasy feeling in your stomach?”

“Of course I do,” He said, quite soberly. “But it’s not the first time I’ve flown into unknown territory. I’ve been on adventures. This one is just…bigger.” A sigh escaped his lips, and he too turned and looked at the Legacy, currently surrounded by workmen who were preparing it for lift off.

“Do you want to go have dinner?” She asked him, the queasiness slowly settling in her belly. She was so nervous about the flight she didn’t even think to be nervous about asking a gentleman to dinner. “We don’t have to be here for another ten hours, and I’d rather not spend it sitting here.”

“Sure. Let’s get out of here,” he replied, and they got up and walked away from the Legacy.

****

The white flight suit clung to her a bit more snuggly than she had recalled. The patch on one arm was that of the Neinian Atleric Service, and on the other, a flag that represented the Banded Territories of Nein. Those who were a part of the N.A.S. had their rank sewed upon their shoulders; the rest bore the symbol for civilian. A couple non N.A.S. military members had their own rank along with a patch over their heart which symbolized their military branch affiliation. Of course, Ruie had no idea what they meant.

At least half of the crew was civilian status; and this group was the most diverse. There was no badge or mark to state where they were from or what their duty on board was. Though everyone was given a manifest of the crew to be on board, Ruie had no idea who was who, even remember all of the names on the list. Some were so strange that she wouldn’t even know how to pronounce if she had tried. These were the people whose job was still months away: their use would not come in until they reached the planet Barotyn. Then they would take over, and the N.A.S. crew would be expected to do whatever they could to aid the civilians in their attempt to colonize.

The ship was absolutely enormous. Previous shuttles sent to the space stations, and moon, were smaller capacity. This one had to contain a crew roughly twice the size as normal. Beyond that, it had to contain several people comfortably who were unused to space travel.

The result was a series of cabins that were about the size of a chair. At that chair, one could sit it upward toward a shelf on the side that had a built in desk and all of their belongings. Lean it back, and it became a bed. Straps were there for comfort against the times where there might be no gravity. Bathrooms were fairly simple and there were only four altogether. There was one mess hall for all other congregations.

Most of the ship made up for the cargo, which was fairly substantial; at least, it was as far as she could tell from the blueprint she was given. Personal belongings, equipment, tents and materials for a few solid buildings, and even a few animals were on board. There were two reasons why she knew this: one being that everyone had right to, at any time during the flight, access their personal belongings; the other was that caring for the animals was split among everyone in two person team rotations. It, along with a few other arbitrary duties, gave the civilians purpose on the ship and kept time moving forward. Most duties were done in two or more person groups, to encourage companionship amongst the crew. It was going to be a long journey, months in space with nothing familiar, no sunrise to guide the days nor moonlit nights to sleep by. Even when they reached their destination, there was no real understanding of how time might pass on Barotyn, or how long they may be there. Every person on board had to be psychologically prepared to never return to Xatl. It was an ideal drilled into them from day one. Ruie wondered if she was the only one who felt secret fear when thinking about it.

The crew was called to board the ship, and Ruie took a deep breath. Initially, her tongue filled with the taste metal, her nose choking up with dust that refused to settle on the ground with all of the commotion. She continued breathing in, smelling the sweetness in the air just behind the dust, that moisture that smelled something of ice and flowers. She wondered if she’d ever smell it again.

The crew lined up to begin boarding, a few members waving to family and friends who were now being edged away from the launching site, and back into the safety of the N.A.S.S. building. They shouted their good-byes over the guards who inched them back, step by step, arms outstretched almost as if to give an embrace.

Ruie didn’t bother looking at the crowd, there was no one there waving good-bye to her. She focused on the back of the uniform of the person walking ahead of her, a female with short cropped black hair who, when turning to wave, shouting good-bye in a language unfamiliar to Ruie, had the sparkle of a tear in her eye.

Once aboard the ship, Ruie began to feel an eerie sort of calm creep over her nerves. Three N.A.S. servicemen were checking the boarding crew’s ID badges and directing them to their cabins. These miniature rooms would be where they would buckle in for take-off. Ruie was directed to Cabin 16, the person before her being 15 and the person behind, 17. As the crew had not lined up in any particular order, it seemed only logical that the cabins were assigned randomly. Ruie found hers, a metal door with a small port window and a 16 painted in crisp, black lettering. Inside was as it had been described previously to her, a reclining chair with buckles, a desk/dresser built into the wall ahead of it. She sat down , palms sweating as the robotic male voice uttered “T Minus zero point fifteen point seventeen.”

The room glowed with Ultra Violet fluorescence that was harsh on her eyes. One iris was blue and the other, green, but both were light sensitive. She found the knob that turned down the lighting, and then sat back and finally buckled in, the announcement stating for everyone to do so. Even though there were many people aboard, she felt utterly alone in that room, with no one to talk to and share in the terror, excitement, or whatever else one might be feeling at this moment. The nerves had come back, so she closed her eyes and thought about dinner with Jaken Sanders.

He drove her off base to the nearest town, where they found a simple local restaurant to dine in. Once the waiter realized who they were, and where they were going, the owner came out and personally thanked them for their “Bravery and dedication to their country,” and stated that their meal would be on the house. The entire restaurant turned and clapped, and Ruie blushed in embarrassment, while Jaken smiled and waved and had fun with it all. In short, the dinner was less than intimate, and they spent more time talking to other patrons of the restaurant than each other. Still, it was better than sitting in a cafeteria alone.

The ship began to shake, and the time to launch was now in the seconds, rather than minutes. Ruie gripped her chair and felt her stomach lurch down as the Legacy began to ascend.


Last edited by Gadreille on Mon May 28, 2012 12:37 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Re: Surviving Barotyn

Post by Kalon Ordona II on Tue May 22, 2012 8:38 am

T - 00.00.19

Captlan Jarrod Rowe stood with the Adliral and control personnel amidships. Arms folded behind their backs, legs planted and braced for launch, the N.A.S. servicemen on the Legacy's command bridge kept their eyes on the display screen.

T - 00.00.10

This was it. Jarrod's last moments on Xatl, for who knew how long. He barely heard the broadcast countdown.

"Four. Three. Two."

T - 00.00.00

The lurch of gravitational force was accompanied by a great boom, a silent heartbeat that seemed to come from everywhere in the ship at once. Jarrod felt the weight of their ascent in his tense thighs. The booming continued until it was a wall, not of sound or of vibration, but of presence. It was something sensed, a permeating certainty; it was the pure power of the four huge atleric units, their kinetic pistons employing the BTN's most advanced spatian tech and housed in soundproof, cylindrical chambers attached to the four corners of the ship. And it was carrying Jarrod up, forward and out of Xatl's sky.

The main display changed from the countdown timer to the view ahead, which was really above the ceiling. Another screen showed the launch site below, slowly decreasing into distance. Other screens showed the state of the vessel, the rapidly draining energy stores, the activity of the generators, the timing integrity of the kinetic pistons, the pressure seals, the breathable atlere levels, and further, more specialized things of which Jarrod had only theoretical knowledge.

Jarrod kept an eye on the time of flight. They were 30 seconds into launch. "Time of flight is Point-point-thirty, Adliral," Jarrod announced. "Field coils at ninety."
The larger man to his left nodded. "As expected. The generators can make up for the loss when we reach the spatiplacean." His eyes were plastered to the main display, as if he craved what lay beyond the sky. Jarrod had never been, only heard it described. The Adliral sounded as if there was a glint in his eye. "It's a Point-ten ride to the stars, Rowe. Then you'll see what the spatiplacean is really like."

Jarrod couldn't argue with that. Adliral Xant knew what he was about and knew what he needed. Jarrod made up the balance of everything Xant lacked, and the Adliral readily acknowledged it, had chosen Jarrod for precisely that fact. Now Jarrod was about to enter the Adliral's world, a world of countless lights, perfect clarity, and the endless expanse that connected Xatl to the stars.

The weight of ascension grew somewhat less as the ship's upward speed began to steady. They were very high, now, the launch site an indistinct patch of white far, far below. Soon they would be out of the atlere. In the past, Jarrod knew, spatian vessels used to rely on orbit alone once free of the atlere, and all spatiplacean voyages were without gravity. Nowadays, free of the use of propellant fuel, spatian travel consisted of two adjacent and opposite periods of acceleration and deceleration, so that there was always a gravitational force upon the crew within the ship, except during the midpoint between the two halves of the journey. Only tethered ships and vessels in orbit still experienced prolonged lack of gravity. Now more than ever Jarrod was glad of that, because it meant none of them would lose their physical conditioning on the way to Barotyn.

For Jarrod, the launch flight passed with both startling speed and agonizing slowness. And he could not tell how much the beating of his heart was for the loss of everything that was home or for the thrill of the unspeakable adventure that was even now beginning.
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Re: Surviving Barotyn

Post by Guest on Tue May 22, 2012 8:52 pm

The ancient city of Traest loomed before Zeum. The walls surrounding the metropolis towered over him, though he could still see the tips of skyscrapers beyond it. Looming over all of that was The Spine of Thoth. Despite the clear skies, Zeum could not see the top of it.

“What is the point of the walls?” Zeum asked his Somhain escort. Though Zeum considered himself an expert in the history, culture and religion of Angka, his own lands far to west, he had learned very little of Somhai. He knew enough to expect the unexpected, and to take its exaggerated use of mythological references as a natural occurrence.

“In case you haven’t noticed,” the escort said, “everything points in the same direction. And I’m not talking about physical orientation.” The man was a native to Traest, and he held much the same academic interests as Zeum. However, they might as well have been from different planets for all that they had in common. “Our ruler is a great man, a god in his own right for all that he has achieved. But what do the people notice? What good is our fight on foreign soil, or our forays into the Black Seas, if the people of Somhai have no shepherd to follow? They are not concerned with what they cannot see. So he gives them something to see; he shows them who provides the food they have on their tables, and who provides the luxuries they enjoy and the technologies that have advanced their lives. And he gives them security in an uncertain time.” The escort looked at Zeum with a knowing smile. He must have felt like he was lecturing a child. It grated on Zeum’s nerves.

The large gates set into the walls before them started to slide open. There was no rain of dust and debris as rusted gears worked to pull heavy doors apart; the whole mechanism was as new as Leona's Fear. In fact, from what his escort told him, most of Traest was that way, constantly renovated and updated with the newest technology. It was a far cry from Suskara, where a river was the defining boundary between Old Suskara and New Suskara: gold-plated skyscrapers towering over ancient architecture versus gleaming, silver skyscrapers in the most advanced metropolitan design. Here in Traest, anything old was demolished to make room for the new. From what little he knew of economics, he could tell that it must have been very expensive.

Soundlessly and smoothly, the two wide doors of the gate split apart diagonally, revealing two more beneath which split again, pulling all four pieces of the door into the four corners of its frame. Beyond was a wide and crowded avenue. Here Zeum would leave the Angka Armed Forces escort sent with him from Suskara, and he would travel only with his Somhain guide, Metanaito Uthgara. As they walked through the gate, Zeum noticed several cameras pan toward him, the tiny red light near the lens signifying that he was being recorded. It made him uneasy; all of his life he had been taught how to avoid being seen. Now he had to make a show.

“I’ve answered your questions to the best of my ability, Zeum of Angka, so I would like you to answer mine.” Metanaito kept his brisk pace despite the crowd, and still managed to give Zeum an unreadable stare. “Why, exactly, were you chosen for this mission? Not that I doubt the credit of your studies, of course. But I don’t see the need for a religious scholar out on the Black Seas, or the lands beyond.”

Zeum did his best to smile at his annoying guide while he thought how he might best answer. He had come up with many reasons, for as many different people that might ask. Metanaito was a hard man to judge, however.

“My country felt the need to keep the interests of its people in the minds of those who have the power to determine its future. I am not here to share my knowledge, so much as to remind you and yours that we exist. And that we are worth our existence.”

“A bribe then,” Metanaito said. A scowl was forming on his face, as if the word had left a foul taste in his mouth.

“Not a bribe,” Zeum replied. Metanaito had turned off of the main avenue, which led deeper in the city, and was now leading Zeum to a wide set of automatic stairs that wound around a support beam for the Skytram. “Paying a favor is more like it, I think.”

“Ahh…” Metanaito said. “The Agonost Division. That was before your time, was it not?”

“All currency is susceptible to inflation, Metanaito. Favors are still currency. What difference does it make whether or not I was involved in the Agonost Division. It is because of Angka that Somhai came out of it unscathed. So here we are… well, here I am, demanding payment.”

“That is all well and good,” Metanaito continued, “but what exactly do you offer to this expedition. Our manifest lists individuals from across Xatl who are the best at what they do, and what they do is crucial to the long-term success of our mission. How do you help insure that this mission succeeds, Zeum of Angka?”

Zeum had already decided against lying to this man. He was shrewd, if nothing else. “I am what you might call a jack of all trades. Yes, I am a religious scholar. But I also have military experience. I am trained in close combat and in the use of a variety of weapons. I have proven myself to be a shrewd negotiator, as well as a bit of a… chameleon. Somhai is not the only nation sending a ship. The B.T.N. are just as eager to reach Barotyn as we are. In the worst case scenario, I am one of those people who will make sure that our mission succeeds by ensuring that theirs doesn’t.” Metanaito smiled at this, but he said no more.

The stairs leveled off at wide platforms along certain intervals of the support beam, where soon-to-be passengers could buy refreshments, tickets or souvenirs. The support beam reached well over the height of the wall. Metanaito had not stopped at any of the of platforms, so Zeum assumed he already had the tickets on his person. When they finally reached the top level, Zeum stepped off of the automatic stairs smoothly. He was not about to give his shrewd escort any more ammunition against him. For whatever reason, the man clearly seemed to dislike him. A line of people stretched across a metal catwalk extending out from the support beam. The tram was parked next to it, hanging from the cables that stretched across the sky of Traest. There were stations all across the city where passengers could board or change their route. The Skytram was an expensive means of transportation, and, Zeum assumed, one of the ways in which Traest managed to pay for its constant renovations.

Fortunately, the line moved quickly. Zeum watched the Spine of Thoth as he waited. Outside of Somhai, it was more commonly known as the Traest Space-tether. Cargo pods moved supplies from the surface to the space station attached to the far end of it. Even on the clearest days, like today, it would be impossible to see the end of it. On clear nights, however, the light of the space station could be seen shining brightly above the rapidly thinning length of the Spine. That was where the Skytram was taking him; then he would ride one of those elevators up to the space station. From his position, they looked like fast moving ants moving up and down the trunk of enormous tree.

When they reached the doors of the tram, Metanaito reached his hand into his black coat and pulled out two gold-colored tickets. They would be riding in First-Class. Zeum could only mentally shake his head at the waste of resources. Of course, that waste was the lifeblood of the city. If only Suskara could enjoy such luxury. He handed them to the blue-coated man standing by the door who, after a quick inspection, tore the tips of the tickets off and handed them back. The two Somhain men were similar in most regards. Both had tan faces, though much lighter than Zeum’s own. They were of similar height. Most of the people of Somhai were taller than those of the surrounding lands. They both had their dark hair closely cropped, though a tall blue cap covered most of the conductors head. The only difference was that Metanaito’s eyes were green, and the conductors were brown. Zeum’s own were so amber that they almost looked yellow. The conductor gave a polite smile as Zeum followed his escort into the tram.

Not everyone one the tram was lavishly dressed. Most wore the colorful clothing of the everyday citizen, heading off into the various parts of the city for work or leisure. The clothing was as simple as it was colorful, ideal for use in any work or home environment. For most, slacks and shirts had been replaced with a tight fitting jumpsuit that had been developed with cooling nano-bots for the humid environments of Somhai. Some wore other garments over those jumpsuits, but it certainly wasn’t considered indecent to go without. Zeum thought it looked very industrial. Metanaito led him past this first car of the Skytram, and passed the next. The last tram was far more luxurious than the previous, and the inhabitants were all dressed in expensive suits, underneath which he knew were the very expensive jumpsuits that circulated only among the most elite of the Somhain society. Zeum was wearing one now, and he felt very uncomfortable, despite its many mechanical advancements. It had not only been given to him as a gift, but as a tool necessary to the performance of his mission.

The Skytram set off smoothly, even at its high speeds. They had started out well above the ground, but the Skytram rose higher still, climbing its cables effortlessly as it sought to purchase more height. The Spine of Thoth seemed to speed toward them as the Skytram made its way across the city. The tram they boarded was routed straight to the space-tether, so there was no need to change trams. It made their journey significantly quicker. Standing at the base of it, at the very center of the city, the space-tether was far bigger than he had imagined it. The Skytram had deposited them on a platform well above the structural foundation, which was basically a hive of computers and diagnostic systems that kept tabs on the integrity of the space-tether. An elevator was waiting for them, a duo of guards standing on either side of the doorway. Weapons were not visible on their bodies, but he knew they wouldn’t be unarmed. Metanaito had spoken truly when he said these were uncertain times. Despite Traest’s appearance, there were those who desired change, and would do anything to achieve it. Terrorism was not beyond Traest’s list of troubles. The two guards wore dark green military uniforms of the Somhai Terra-Assault Force rather than the jumpsuits adopted by the citizens of the city. They were more practical and adaptive to situational changes, not to mention cheaper. The luxuries most jumpsuits provided were not necessary for Somhai soldiers. They made no move as Zeum and his escort approached them, and said not a word as they stepped within the confines of the elevator.

“Is there no one else?” Zeum asked. Seats adorned three of the four walls of the square elevator cabin. They were all empty.

“Your benefactor paid for privacy, one of the last luxuries you will have once you enter Leona's Fear.”
Zeum sat down in a chair and Metanaito showed him how to buckle himself into the harness. “The elevator reaches high speeds,” he explained. “It isn’t quite as smooth as the Skytram. Be glad you haven’t eaten.”
Metanaito sat in the chair nearest to the door to Zeum’s left. Zeum himself was in the middle of the wall facing the door. The Somhain pressed his hand to the panel near the door, and a soft female voice spoke through a system of hidden speakers.

“Welcome to The Spine of Thoth, the Traest Space-tether. Your destination is ARC, the Somhain space station. Estimated time of travel is zero point six point thirty two. Please check your safety harness to ensure it is properly secured. Lift will begin zero zero point ten.
“The Spine of Thoth is a reference to the mythological king who gave knowledge and power to the people of the Somhain nation, which was at the time a fragmented land of rival tribes. Thoth gave to each of these people different pieces of Truth. By piecing their newfound knowledge together, they became…”


The rest of the story was lost as Zeum felt his stomach ripped out of his torso. The thin windows set in the doors of the elevator showed the tops of the buildings quickly disappear, and the sky begin to darken, as they ascended to the upper atmosphere of the planet. Soon the blue was replaced by black, and for the first time in his life Zeum was sailing on the Black Seas. The elevator was facing away from the tether, so he could not see ARC as they approached it. But his view above the atmosphere of Xatl was more than enough for him. Eventually, that was blocked as the elevator slipped into the station.

Zeum released a deep breath as the elevator finally came to a halt.
“Quite a ride, huh?” Metanaito said as he unbuckled his harness. Zeum nodded, and it was a couple of seconds before he could begin unbuckling his own.

”Arrival at ARC Please release your harness and exit the elevator as soon as the doors open. Enjoy your stay.”

Zeum fumbled with the harness until he had it off, and then slowly stood up. His legs felt weak, and he thought his stomach might just be catching up with him from the surface of the planet. As the doors opened, the elevator was flooded with a bright light. Metanaito stepped out of the elevator and stood to the side as he waited for Zeum to follow. He walked out into a brightly lit hall. Windows filled the wall across from him, and the hall extended to his left and his right before both eventually turning inward and out of sight. Zeum walked up to one of the windows and looked down. The space-tether stretched downward into the atmosphere of Xatl, looking like nothing more than a thin string holding up what was now his entire world. His stomach rebelled even more, and he felt like gripping something. He turned away, closed his eyes, and took a deep breath. He hadn’t even been able to see Traest from up here. Suddenly the universe he knew had gotten so much bigger.

“If you would follow me, Zeum of Angka,” Metanaito said.

“Of course,” Zeum said as he opened his eyes.

“I think you might admire the view of Leona's Fear. It is, by far, our greatest achievement. The Spine of Thoth and, by extension ARC, was an essential stepping stone, but not nearly as important.”

Zeum stared at the walls of the station as they walked. With the exception of the bright light panels they looked very bare and practical compared to the city of Traest that it was connected to. Of course, as Metanaito had explained it, the general populace would not see this station. There would be no one here who needed to be guided in their beliefs. They followed the slowly curving corridor until his guide finally stopped at a door, leading to yet another elevator. A short ride followed, interrupted by pointless small talk, until it stopped and they stepped out. This room was small and there were no walls; windows covered every surface except the floor they stood on. Sitting outside the windows, quite possibly much farther away than it seemed to Zeum, was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen: Leona's Fear, the ship that would sail the Black Seas to Barotyn.

The ship was perpendicular to his position, so he could see the entire length of it. The front of the ship was shaped like an umbrella, with its edges slightly curved inward over the main shaft of the ship. The shaft itself was long and roughly cylindrical. Four engines swept out from the back of the ship like the feathers on the base of an arrow. That realization was what made the name of the ship hit home for him. Mythological exaggerations indeed. Nestled in the underside of the umbrella-shaped head were four large shuttles. Having been constructed in space, Leona's Fear would not withstand the pressures of atmosphere. The shuttles would ferry the passengers to the surface of Barotyn. Surrounding all of it was an enormous latticework of beams and smaller stations, the shipyard that had put her together piece by piece.

Metanaito handed Zeum a thin red folder. “This contains all of the information you will need to know about the ship. It contains a map of the ship itself, its basic functions, a manifest of the passengers, and a private letter from the man who organized this all.”

“He cares?” Zeum asked. “About someone like me, I mean. I can see him writing a letter to her,” he said, pointing out at Leona's Fear, “if she could actually read it.”

“Whether or not he cares is beside the point. I’m assuming you’ve read the relevant articles in the Somhain Journal of Spatiplacology concerning Barotyn. The supplies you need are already on board that ship. The location of your personal quarters are in the folder I gave you. Take this elevator up to B33a. There will be shuttle waiting there to ferry you to Leona's Fear.” Metanaito extended his hand to Zeum. “It was a pleasure.” His face said it was anything but. Zeum shook his hand anyway.

“Likewise.”

After his escort left, Zeum turned back to the windows to stare out at the ship again. Shaped like an arrow. He couldn’t believe it.

The elevator ride up to B33a was quicker than the one before. The room he emerged out onto was also much bigger. It was a large docking bay, and a variety of small craft took up much of the floor space. A guide in a white jumpsuit came up to him as soon as he exited the elevator.

“Your name?”

“I am Zeum, of Angka.” The man repeated the name slowly, moving his finger down a list. When it stopped, the man asked him another question.

“What is your knowledge of Barotyn?”

“Umm… I’m more of a human resource,” Zeum said. “I’m not really a scientist.”

“Of course,” he said slowly. “You’ll be given a training course in the use of the Nitrogen Gas Unit en route to the planet, so you don’t need to worry about that now. Follow me please.” The man walked briskly, the legs of his jumpsuit abrasively rubbing against each other as he moved. He guided Zeum passed several types of craft, none of which he was familiar with. He assumed they were shuttles for a variety of purposes outside of the station. He didn’t bother asking though; his guide did not seem in the mood for conversation. The shuttle his guide brought him to was not large at all. It looked a lot like an AAF tank from Angka, but with wings. Its surface was mostly white with black bordering and the red letters BSEF, the Black Sea Expeditionary Force, printed on each wing. A ramp descended from the rear of the shuttle, and his guide wandered off without another word.

Another man, this time in a black jumpsuit, was waiting at the top of the ramp. Surprisingly, he had a smile on his face.
“You must be Zeum!” the man called down to him. “Come on up!” The noise of the docking bay was almost enough to drown out his voice. Zeum rushed up the ramp and into the shuttle. It was no more spacious than it had looked from outside. There were only a few seats besides those in the cockpit. “I’m Ashim,” the man said, holding out his hand. “I’ll be your pilot to Leona's Fear.”

“Zeum of Angka,” Zeum said yet again, grasping the pilot's hand to shake. “Nice to see someone with a smile on their face. I thought maybe Somhai didn’t want this to happen after all.” The rumble of the shuttle’s engines vibrated through his legs, making the seats look very enticing.

“This hasn’t been an easy venture,” Ashim said. “Everyone is going to be on edge until the whole thing finally gets underway. Besides, word just came through that B.T.N. has already launched. Theoretically, we have the faster ship; technically, we’re behind schedule. Take a seat and we’ll set off.” The pilot smiled again as he moved up to the cockpit. Zeum plopped down in the nearest seat, ready for these rides to finally be over. Of course, the long ride had not even started yet.

“The docking bay doesn’t have any exterior doors,” the pilot yelled over his shoulder just as the shuttle started moving. “The only way out is for each shuttle to ride an elevator down. It takes us through a series of blast doors that keep pressure within the station.” Zeum could feel in his already sensitive stomach that they were moving down. The shuttle wasn’t moving, exactly. The ground beneath them was.
“When we reach open space, we’ll take off and the shaft will close behind us.”

“Sounds complicated,” Zeum yelled back at him. “How do you get back in?”

“I just let them know when I’m coming. They’ll send it back down.”

“How long is this ride?”

“Ten minutes. Get comfortable.”

Zeum tried to sit sideways, as much as his lap belt would let him, to see out of the forward viewport in the cockpit. Leona's Fear was getting closer, but slowly. Zeum thought about what he had already seen that day. When he woke up, an entire company of Angka Armed Forces was waiting for him to depart for Somhai. A few hours later, his plane landed in the outskirts of Traest. A military convoy, and his Somhain escort, Metanaito, accompanied him to the gates of the city. Then he had to ride the Skytram, The Spine of Thoth, along with a series of subsequent elevators rides, and now this. His biggest adventure before today had been crossing the river to New Suskara. What exactly had brought him here? Of all the people in Angka, why him? Suddenly Zeum remembered the red folder he had been given. He figured this would likely be his only chance to look it over for a while.

The first page contained the personal letter. He skipped that for now. The next was a small file containing his personal information and where he was quartered on the ship. Following that was the flight manifest, and then, at last, the information on the ship itself. That was what he was interested in. His mission, should he actually decide to fulfill it, would depend on his familiarity with the ship. Most of the space was taken up by cargo, machinery, and the engines themselves. While each passenger had his own space, it was really nothing more than a closet. Very military. The main deck was located at the center of the umbrella-shaped head, and from the information on the file, it was a sight to behold. It was also open to visitors. The next thing he looked at was the flight manifest.

The file kept him occupied until the pilot spoke again. “We’re here. Leona’s Fear.” The shuttle settled on its landing struts, and then the ramp descended again. Zeum looked out of the shuttle and saw the darkness of space outlined by gleaming metal.

“I thought there were no exterior doors? Pressurization or something?”

“New tech,” Ashim said. “Everything on this girl is brand-new. Over a decade ahead of the ARC and its tether. You’ll find things on here that will blow your mind, trust me. Just don‘t ask me how it works.”

“I’ll take your word for it,” Zeum said. With a nod to the pilot, who hadn’t risen from his seat, Zeum descended the ramp. The room he was now in was only a fraction of the size of the docking bay on the ARC. In fact, it barely looked large enough to hold the shuttle. He watched from the edge of the room as the shuttle departed. Enormous blast doors closed behind it, cutting off the nearly blinding view of the shuttle’s bright blue propulsion engines. The only door in the room was directly behind him, so he opened it and walked through. According to the file, this was the atrium. It was filled with people. Zeum quickly scanned the room, noting the faces that belonged to the names on the manifest. They were all there, all twelve people he had been sent to kill. Zeum did his best to ease his rebellious stomach and put a smile on his face and stepped into the room of mingling colonists.

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Re: Surviving Barotyn

Post by Moon Ray on Wed May 23, 2012 2:28 pm

Nahni Imix walked slowly through the crowd, slipping in and out of traffic almost without thinking. Ze enjoyed the noise and bustle common to any market or neighborhood square, and the atrium was clearly that within the confines of their transitional new home. Though it was small in comparison to Traest's meanest youth recreation park or shop strip, Leona's Fear hosted a heady variety for an interested observer. Connex boxes stood hub-to-hub in organized stacks, pressing the humanity closer in narrow isles. But the walls bellowed outward, just concave enough to give the impression of hollow space; the effect made the atrium seem larger than it was. Crew members continued to arrive through the shuttle dock doors. At the same time, technicians, recorders, and support staff trotted by on individual missions and followed their exodus back towards the station.

Nahni Imix let the flow of traffic carry zir closer to the atrium's view ports, eyeing the ARC and the glimpses of Xatl's great horizon with curiosity and professional appraisal. The sight of the planet tightened zir abdomen against the first stirrings of longing as it seemed to call, "Nahni Imix, where do you go? Your duty is here. Return to us." Rather than dwell on the mixed feelings there, ze focused on the ARC, and the Traest Space-tether.

The technology was almost overwhelming. Somhai (and most Outsider countries, in fact) showed the results of their research programs in the changing lives of the common citizen. Traest, of course, took it even further. Any advance was widely available; everything from food and clothing, to transportation and education, was easily accessible. (Nahni Imix had been afforded many opportunities to experience the city in the time leading up to the ship's departure.) But the station brought the concept to a whole new level.

Ze guessed that it was to be expected. They walked in a land that would have them die gasping, frozen, and then incinerate their bodies on the atmosphere of their home. It was obvious that they should be equipped with the best tools that their leaders could give them. Ze did not even have words for many of the things ze saw. Like the spinning ring that flashed up and down the shaft of the ship in tight spirals. When ze had asked about a similar machine on the ARC, a man explained it provided a simulated gravity, allowing people to walk around with only a slight bounce to their step. Nahni Imix did not see how it could work, but even ze could understand the one provided to Leona's Fear was more precise and better reflected Xatl's particular gravity.

An insistent beep brought zir attention back to the business at hand. Ze stepped aside for a mechanical mule, transporting one of the smaller connexes. The isle cleared absently, with little attention spared the device, and it moved forward on the smooth floor. Nahni Imix watched it, and noted wryly that there was no operator. Lacking a rail or human guidance, ze guessed it was a very complex computer organizing its movements.

Ze followed in its wake, a short distance along a yellow guideline painted on the floor. When it came to the appropriate place it aligned itself and began lifting the connex atop the stack. Ze shook zir head, watching it. The mule didn't work on a balance, it simply lifted. The base had to counteract the outstanding weight of the connex by being exceptionally dense. Even in the gentle grip of simulated gravity, the design was just too inartful.

Wasn't that just the culture of Outsider technology? ze reminded zirself. There was little grace in the design; simply the most expeditious solution. It was a style of itself, which reflected the Somhai people well. Forthright, if a little forceful.

Nahni Imix couldn't excuse it entirely however when it pushed the connex several inches past flush with the one below it. A door opened, bumping the exposed edge, and the newly set container jutted diagonally on its foundation. The mule's lift retracted, shifting the container further.

Nahni Imix caught the corner of the connex before it could even consider toppling over. Ze was well tall enough to reach and support the stack, though the larger containers would have dwarfed zir.

"Excuse me," Nahni Imix said. Ze exposed a faint accent in a few words of Mandin -the common tongue used across Somhai. Zir native language didn't include Mandin's "x" sound. "Ekzoos me," ze said, with an emphasis on the "s" noise. Zir voice was rich and light, well matched to zir face.

Beneath zir bronze arm, a man watched zir with intriguing yellow-colored eyes. He brought with him the taste of recycled air, used in the shuttles. In the larger atrium the same was dissipated and laced with the sharp, loud smells of carbon, mechanical oil, and burnt plastics.

"One moment," ze added, stepping around him to get a better angle. Carefully, ze lifted the connex, missing the use of zir gloves on the biting metal edge. It took just a moment to shift it back, safely in place -with infinitely more grace and precision than the mechanical device. Ze wiped zir hands and bowed gently from the waist.

"Hello, and welcome." Ze could guess the man was a crew member. He wore a tight jumpsuit, like many people on board. (Even in Traest they had been absurdly popular. Heat regulation was as important to wealthy people in a humid climate, as it was to everyone in the Black Sea.) His features, however, didn't reflect the wide, soft faces of most of Somhai. A fellow foreigner, ze surmised, and no stranger to sun if the swarthy skin was any indication. His eyes were his most catching feature; Nahni Imix wondered if it was a condition or if -like many of the Outsiders in Traest- the man colored his eyes for the sake of style.

It was the red folder in his hands that reminded Nahni Imix of zir surroundings. Ze looked to the floor, across the small isle to the right. In zir rush to grab at the connex, ze had tossed aside zir map. Now it was gone, and ze was inclined to blame the little machines sneaking around like rats, eternally cleaning up debris from the floor.

Ze checked the pockets of zir obi, where ze liked to store small things against the abdominal gap of zir rib cage. Inconveniently, ze had left zir additional copy of the ship's layout in zir room. Well, and that was fine too, ze decided. Exploring Leona’s Fear with a map was practically cheating; ze hadn’t used it yet except to reference the names of places. The ship was large, for what it was, but ze expected that soon ze would find it restricting and a little claustrophobic. It suited zir to take a little longer to learn the land -as it were.

Ze smiled again at the man and guessed he might be newly arrived. “May I help guide you someplace?” ze inquired.

“You can take my bags to my room!” another man interrupted. Startled, Nahni Imix barely had room to execute a proper bow. It went unnoticed however: “My quarters are designated R-112.” Ze looked to the pile of luggage the man was indicating with a wave of his long fingers. “R-112. Do you have that?”

“Yes, Sir,” ze affirmed, repeating the designation. “R-112.”

“Good. And be careful with the littlest bag. It’s delicate.”

Nahni Imix nodded and bowed again. The man moved on as quickly as he had announced himself. Ze covered the urge to laugh and shared a demure smile with the gold-eyed man as ze bent over the various packs.

There were three pieces of luggage, all black canvas and marked with Somhai’s crest on the sides. Ze had seen similar bags sold in Traest, in shops at the base of their Spine of Thoth. The two larger bags, predictably, possessed small treadless wheels for a person to tip the bag onto and maneuver by dragging. Dragging two bags, carrying a third, was impractical in the present crowd; ze didn’t want to become a nuisance. Ze rearranged the straps and slung the largest pack against zir back so that it sat level across zir spine, above either hip. It served as a base to balance the other two on. Ungainly, slightly uncomfortable, but manageable.

“Geoff Salaradin, Pilot,” ze murmured, reading the tag on the last bag as ze set it in place. Ze was not certain, but ze seemed to remember that the two bird feathers embroidered under the name were to be read as “pilot.” That made sense; the pilots were certain to be busy for the duration of the trip. “Q-112,” ze repeated to zirself.


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Re: Surviving Barotyn

Post by Artorius on Thu May 24, 2012 3:24 am

Hushed whispers followed the tanned outsider as he was ushered into the sky tram, escorted by two guards, heavily armored. The prisoner's shifty eyes darted between several native Somhaians as he passed them and finally stood adjacent to them. He mentally noted various details about their appearance and indicators of wealth, job, and more. Yet, even as he did so, his mind drifted back to the recent past.

The judge sat upon a high chair during the hearing, talking very sparingly and delivering piercing stares at the defendant, Danark. The Done man was being tried in a Somhaian court, with a Somhaian judge. There were no juries in autocratic Somhai and the judge was considered an extension of the autocrat unless the autocrat took a unique interest in a case; in this instance, he did not. The judge was an old man, balding, pale, and frail, with wrinkles innumerable dominating his facade like so many layers of molten lava- his face seemed viscous. Danark couldn't help but smirk at the elder. However, the smile faded from his lips as the verdict was given out.

"You have been sentenced, in the name of the High Court, to ten years hard labor and re-education in Somhaian territ-"

A man dressed rather affluently interrupted the judge. He approached the judge casually, as if of some authority. The man wore thick rimmed, round, owl-eye spectacles which caused an air of intelligence to surround him. As his whispers floated through the air, the judge nodded in agreement- he had changed his verdict.

"Mister... Danark of the migrant Dones, you have been sentenced to hard labor and put at the mercy of the crew and higher authority on the Somhaian space vessel, Leona's Fear, til death, or mercy, see you free."


In a fit of daydreaming, Danark had rather quickly passed the time. The sky tram had docked near the space tether. Danark's armed escorts led him towards the tether. While casually approaching the object which tied their earth to the heavens, Danark examined his restraints and his eyes scanned every detail. They were made of solid steel, reinforced with a locking mechanism that would send neural shocks to his system if the cuffs were seriously tampered with. And if they happened to be seriously damaged, a maim capability would be enabled wherein the cuffs would snap their wearer's wrists. The technology was harsh to be sure, but it did discourage runaways. As Danark approached the massive space tether, his mind wandered yet again.

The silent hum of The Whisp's engine was one of it's many fine attributes. The salvaged sky vessel was especially suited to smuggling. On this day, Danark and four others had taken the Whisp on its maiden voyage- a smuggling run into Traest. The Done smugglers were taking in large quantities of steel scrap. This severely undermined the heavy taxes put on steel which maintained an iron-clad monopoly on the Somhaian steel industry by local companies.

The Whisp was fast, to be sure. The vessel zoomed through security check points without so much as a whistle. That was, until The Whisp's engine began to fail. The hydrogen powered vehicle stayed in the air as long as the engine could stand, but proved too damaged to continue. The Whisp crash landed on the outskirts of Traerst. Two of Danark's companion's lay dead and Danark was arrested with the other smugglers.


Some time had passed, and Danark lay strapped into his seat. The flight had already began and the Done felt incredibly helpless. There was nowhere to run in space. It wasn't as if he could just take a shuttle back to Xatl, no, that was out of the question. The dilemma that space posed to Danark was this, he either served out his sentence, or died. Danark decided on the former. He pondered his role in this operation as the space vessel continued its launch into space and towards Barotyn.


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Re: Surviving Barotyn

Post by Gadreille on Sun May 27, 2012 2:21 pm

The Ascension into space was a feeling that Ruie was, in every way, completely unprepared for. Though the ship was essentially creating its own gravity, one could still feel Xatl’s natural gravitational pull being ripped away from them as they pulled farther into the atmosphere until, eventually, they were separated from it completely. Only until the ship had left the farthest reaches of Xatl’s atmosphere did Ruie’s inner balance finally find ease, and it was then that it was announced that they could release themselves from the harness.

Ruie stood, only to fall over against her shelved desk unit. She leaned there for a moment until she could get her bearings, and then reached for the door and let herself out into the main hall. Everyone else on her wing was attempting to do the same, some struggling more than she, some stepping out with ease. At the end of the hall, one of the flight ushers was beckoning them forward. The flight ushers were the go-to between the “scientific crew passengers” and the actual ship crew. Their primary responsibility was to make sure everyone knew what to do, and that they were doing it.

Ruie followed the ushered line of passengers down a series of narrow hallways and up a flight of steps. Suddenly the hallway, barely wide enough to let one person pass another without brushing their shoulder, opened up into a wide room that Ruie understood to be the mess hall. It was square in shape, with several tables in the center which were bolted down to the floor. Its side walls were lined with seats that had harnesses. Apparently, if there was an emergency, people could buckle down in these seats. It was in this room that the crew was being divided into three separate lines based on the initial of their last name. Ruie stepped into the line designated A-I and waited.

Each person was spoken to as efficently as possible, and Ruie was soon stepping forward to the man at the table.

“ID,” he said to her, and she pulled the badge from her suit for him to see. “Galecki, Galecki…Here.” He pulled out a sealed envelope and handed it to her. “Included are your new room number, your cargo space number, and a calendar with your duties aboard the ship listed as well as meeting times.”

“Why am I getting a new room?” Ruie asked, out of curiosity.

He cleared his throat. “We were running behind schedule, so we issued temporary rooms to get us out into space. We’re reorganizing you now. Good day, Miss Galecki. NEXT!” He called out to the person behind her, and Ruie was shuffled to the side.

Doctor Galecki,” Ruie muttered under her breath, and then pulled out the cargo information to look at the map so she could find her way there. It turned out to be quite easy, because everyone else was heading the same way. It was odd, being surrounded by people and not knowing any of their names. She kept an eye out for Jaken, the only person she was on a first name basis with, but she didn’t see him.

It took a good quarter hour to find the cargo bay, and once she was there, it took another half hour to find her cargo space, NC01V. Once she found it, she used the card that had been clipped in her folder to unlock it, and opened the heavy steel doors. She flicked on a light inside the small room, a bit more the two meters squared, and smiled. There was everything she had thought to bring with her to the new world. Most of the bags were filled with the equipment she would need to study the vegetation of Barotyn. Those could be left in the cargo space. One large bag was filled with her preferred clothes. The suit she was now wearing was only necessary for takeoff, landing, meetings, and days she was on duty. The rest of the time, she could wear what she chose. There was also a backpack that held her most prized possessions: her computer and notebooks. She grabbed that too. Satisfied, she shut off the light, closed the doors and struggled to lead herself to her new room: 23.

After putting her things away in the shelving unit, she stepped back out of the room, only to find herself face to face with a squat man with balding hair, a large nose, and small grey eyes that she could just tell were used to hiding behind spectacles.

“Excuse me!” he said, quite loudly for the quiet of the hall. “Who might you be?”

“I’m Doctor Ruie Galecki, the chemical nutritionist,” she said, putting out her hand to shake his. It was nice to finally have someone make contact with her, instead of being in a sea of unfamiliarity.

“About time I find another real scientist! I can’t believe the people they let come aboard this mission,” he shook his head and her hand at the same time. “Doctor Rol Aiyann, evolutionary biologist.”

Ruie’s eyes widened. “The Doctor Aiyann? What an honor to meet you. I really struggled to stick with botany after reading a few of your books while pursuing my masters! You are a genius!”

“Yes, I know. Glad someone on this boat appreciates me work! Come, come, you as a chemical nutritionist should be able to tell how badly I need something to eat. Let’s go, and you can tell me a bit about why you deserve to be here.”

Ruie laughed and followed him. Sure, he was egotistical, but he deserved to be. He alone discovered seventy new species in the past twenty years, and had several books on earliest history of life on Xatl. He was the god of evolutionary biology, and did deserve to be on Barotyn. She was sure there were other biologists on board as well, but he was the best.

She listened to him tell stories between bites of food, stories of finding ancient fish remains in Angka and tropical birds in The Banded Territories. Eventually, their conversation attracted another crew member: the same short haired girl Ruie had been behind while boarding the ship.

“May I sit with you?” She asked them, her strange foreign accent ringing in Ruie's ears.

Dr. Aiyann welcomed her to the table only briefly before pouring back into another story. “And do you know the strangest thing of all? There are several species, us included, who just appear in the record? There are no evolving species leading up to humanity. None for cows. None for dogs. We and a handful of domestic animals, as well as a few wild ones, just show up about three thousand years ago!”

“Yes, I did my dissertation on the extinct avarius chenitus , the fat bird, and why it went extinct,” the black haired girl chimed in. “Did you know almost all of the remains of the fat bird had evidence of it being eaten? Not one skeleton was found to have died of natural causes. This bird just shows up alongside the earliest known remains of humans, and goes extinct within a hundred years after, if not sooner. It was eaten into extinction!"

Ruie had heard of this, as had they all, but it was standard for scientists to hear and tell the same story time and again. One never knew when they would get a new perspective on it. At that point, Ruie asked Dr. Aiyann, “So, in your opinion, where did we come from?” She knew what his answer would be, having read his book, but she enjoyed hearing it from him.

“You’ve heard the creation story, that we came here on a boat. What if I told you that they were right? What if I told you that we, and a few surviving and extinct species, were pioneers to a new world?”

The black haired girl (who still had not had a chance to introduce herself) asked, “From where?”

“Well, the leading theory is that the land that we originated from is, in fact, underwater….’escaping the storm that had swallowed up the rest of the world’…and why wouldn’t it be? We see evidence that land has shifted on Xatl over great periods of time. It seems only plausible to assume our land of origin is somewhere under the sea, probably buried a hundred meters below the muck.

“When we sailed from whatever failing land unto the new continent, obviously some of the animals had trouble adapting. Look at the amount of birds we have here. The bones of the fat bird make it clear that it could barely fly. If we didn’t eat it to extinction, surely the rest of the animal kingdom did.” With that, Dr. Aiyann wiped his face with a napkin and leaned back.

“Now we’ll do the same thing. In fact, if we successfully colonize Barotyn, it would look like we came from nowhere! Imagine hundreds of years in the future, scientists looking back and suddenly seeing humans pop up out of nowhere!” He laughed. Most of the time his accent was almost neutral in tone, but every once in a while, like with his laugh, one could hear that his roots were not the BTN at all. Ruie knew that Dr. Aiyann was born and raised in Ytalnya.

“I’d never thought of it that way,” Ruie said, and looked to the other woman, whose green eyes were sparkling with a smile.

“What fascinating discussion, I look forward to many more. By the way, I’m Solanzya De Acquantia, of Mers. I'm also a biologist, and I'm very much looking forward to Barotyn!"

“Mers! That’s where you are from. I was unfamiliar with your accent.” Ruie admitted.

“I spend many years in Angka, picked up bad language habit there,” She laughed. At that point, Dr. Aiyann asked her of Angka, and from then on the conversation moved to politics, and Ruie sat back listening once more, glad to have made friends aboard the Legacy.
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Re: Surviving Barotyn

Post by Guest on Wed May 30, 2012 2:22 pm

The door stopped short as Zeum attempted to step fully into the room. A quick glance showed that it had stopped short against a stack of connex boxes. Fortunately he had missed slamming it into the rather beautiful bronze-skinned woman who was attempting to fix the stack.

“Ekzoos me,” the woman said. She spoke in Mandin, though it was obviously not her language of choice. She was tall, particularly for a female, and seemed to have no trouble handling the box that was jutting off from the stack. “One moment,” she said as she stepped around him. He simply stood and watched as she gripped the bottom edge of the box and slid it flush with the ones below it. She then turned toward him and wiped her hands, and bowed from the waist.
“Hello, and welcome,” she said with a smile. Rather than answering, Zeum could not stop staring. She was simply unlike any woman he had ever seen, either in Angka or Somhai. From whatever lands she came from, Zeum could not believe that this woman was not in a position of power. That, or he did not want to meet the males. Again Zeum berated himself for his lack of knowledge of the world outside of Angka. It had been hard enough to pass through Somhai without looking like an idiot.
“May I help guide you someplace?” she asked, still smiling.

“You can take my bags to my room!” another man interrupted. Zeum was surprised when the woman attempted another bow. He had thought that was simply for show. Whatever she was in her own lands, she seemed little more than a servant here. “My quarters are designated R-112. R-112. Do you have that?”

“Yes, Sir,” the woman said. “R-112.”

“Good,” the man said. “And be careful with the littlest bag. It’s delicate.” Without another word, the man moved on. He hadn’t so much as looked at Zeum. He was quickly discovering that Somhai and Angka had little in common, even if they did speak the same language. Of course, Metanaito had already taught him that. The woman shot him a small smile as she bent over the bags to pick them up. After only a moment’s hesitation, she managed to arrange them onto her back, braced by her arms. Zeum was sure that she made it look far easier than it was.

“Geoff Salaradin, Pilot,” the woman said quietly. She was reading the tag on one of the bags. “Q-112.”

“Q…” Zeum said, holding his hand out. “Didn’t he…” Nevermind, he thought. The Ark could sail without that man, for all he cared. He thought about offering help, but again held his tongue. He knew enough to know that servants from some cultures would be offended at the mere offer of help. Yet, she did not look like a servant. “If I help you with those bags, can you show me to my room?” he asked. “I think its on the way.”

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Re: Surviving Barotyn

Post by Moon Ray on Thu May 31, 2012 10:03 pm

The atrium, public mess, and a few of the main passages were well-lit -almost cheerful. Those rooms hosted the massive view ports, letting people admire the visible craftsmanship of Leona's Fear. The Arc and Xatl's rotating glow also made good backdrops. Reporters had spent a lot of time there, snapping pictures for posterity.

Efficiency dictated the rest of the ship's design. In the narrow corridors the light was dimmed to sixty percent -lower when the sensors didn't detect crew moving about. Footsteps sounded loudly against the tile floors, carrying easily in the emptiness. The footsteps seemed to chase the person making them, echoing off the walls, striking his head.

"What's the matter, Jeffy?" Geoff halted outside a door, noticing the woman sitting there for the first time. "You're looking a little bothered, Sweet."

He recognized her, though he couldn't place a name to her. She was one of the flight crew -didn't seem to do much more than carry messages and bring the pilots a drink when they asked. She had short black hair, fitted with thick curls that framed her fair face. Red rouge and eye dust accented her features, but her skin was pale and freckled underneath. She was pretty enough, and a good girl. Her voice took on a whining sound that Geoff didn't mind; it made her sound young.

He straightened and settled himself. It didn't do to upset the crew or look less than confident. "There ain't nothing the matter, Ducky. There's just a lot of unnecessary people filling up the ship. Makes it hard for a man to move."

"Do you want me to tell 'em to go away?" the girl asked, wide-eyed.

Geoff laughed at the simple idea. He was tempted to say yes, but he didn't want to get her in trouble. The boss liked to keep the really dedicated (and pretty) girls near at hand. It was more than possible she would try to roust passengers and technicians alike. "Nah. We've already disengaged from the anchor, the people will clear out soon enough. I need to go in."

"You got it Jeffy." She moved aside, tapping the door panel to open it and handing him a clipboard. It took a moment for the door to register her and open. "You're a kind man, but you're an officer too. You shouldn't aught to let people get in your way."

"Thanks, Duck. I'll see you later." He chucked her under the chin as he passed by. Feeling more staid, he slipped into the room. The lights were dimmed to burnt orange in the interior as well; the boss liked to read the screens without any glare.

"You're late, Saladarin."

"Yes, Sir." Geoff patted the blue security panel beside the door. His ring activated his pass and authorization; the heavy blast door slid quietly shut. The Master Control Center (or the "cock pit," as the pilots had taken to calling it) was home to flight controls, records, mission essentials, and the communication terminals. It was reinforced and guarded against tampering. If the whole ship went down on Barotyn with flames and implosions, this at least would survive for future archeologists to pick from the wreckage.

Geoff slipped into his seat behind Araldo Nickle's display screens, trying to be inconspicuous. Already they were underway; readings were coming in fast and thick from across the ship. The reports colored the screens. More than a few of them were complaints from the Arc. Geoff wasn't late except that he should have anticipated the boss' eagerness to launch.

"Tell the boys on the Arc to get a scramble on. We're in the air."

"Yes, Sir." Geoff watched one of the men send over an inquiry for levels status.

"Sir, you've got a call coming in from the Spine," Nickle reported. He maintained a respectful tone, but there was a smile playing about his lips. "It's Ruby. Says it's urgent."

"It's always urgent with a woman. No time for that now. Saladarin, you got a trajectory mapped?"

"Uh- Yes. Yes, Sir. I just need a moment..." In fact, he needed longer than a moment. He had spent three weeks on his current map, drawing it down to the millimeter. It was useless now; the launch wasn't scheduled to begin and the slightest variation would change everything.

The boss wouldn't want to hear that now though; he would have to scramble too. The computer that did most of the calculations was still waking up. He fumbled in his notes before noticing a grid map and chart clipped to his clipboard. It took just a moment to assure the way was still clear for a slingshot around the planet; they had scheduled an opening of several hours for safety. He checked that Barotyn would meet them on the other side of this trip, saw the margin of error drawn on the map, and confirmed it.

"Good to go Sir," he said.

____________________________________

"All the personal quarters should be in the same direction," Nahni Imix agreed. Ze handed over the smallest bag, judging it to be light enough not to trouble the young man.

Ze led the way to the far end of the atrium where most of the crowd was gradually making their way. The two larger bags were bulky -as were many of the crew, burdened with their own supplies. Twice, Nahni Imix found ze had to lift the bags carefully over zir head to clear them of everyone else. Which was something worth noting; most Outsiders only hoped to be as tall as zir chest but there were a few outliers.

One man, marked by a thick black mustache, was a few centixats taller than Nahni Imix. He was considerably thinner though, given to a stretched out feeling. He had the careful way of moving, developed by anyone who was head and shoulders above his peers. (Nahni Imix, having lived among zir own naturally-large people, or alone in the jungle, was only recently learning to move gingerly in a crowd.) Ze thought he rather looked like a daddy long-legged spider. The impression was solidified when ze noticed his eyes were entirely black, with no whites.

All of the crew seemed to be varied in dress and origin. Ze did see a few clearly Somhai citizens, but they were outnumbered by foreigners.

"My name is Nahni Imix," ze introduced zirself when they had made it clear of the worst of the crowd's bustle. "From Ranchacxictlan," ze added, slipping easily into zir native accent. Instinctively, when speaking of zir home, ze shifted the bags to one hand and brushed the crest on zir obi with zir free fingers. The Descending Sun crest was a sunflower native to the Ran jungle. The many long, red petals were carefully embroidered on the red fabric, delineated by a slim white border.

"You are not of Somhai either, verdas? You do not have their face. Nor their eyes. Where are you from?"

The walk quickly led to the rows of crew quarters. Small, claustrophobic rooms with little more space than to store their bags and lay down. The lower ranking members shared quarters with a bunk. Those with more to carry (be it personal consequence or luggage) had extra storage space.

Nahni Imix pointed out the number system as they went. 100's were rooms on the wall of the ship -close enough to have a window. Those were personnel rooms for the most part. 200's -on the inside of the halls- were functional rooms or essential storage. The alphabet had divided the ship into cross sections. Each section could be closed by airlock. (There was a little more detail to be had on that subject, but Nahni Imix had not read the entirety of the packet yet. Instead ze made note of the necessaries, indicated by a blue signs at regular intervals along the halls.)

They reached Q-112 before either Nahni Imix's or the young man''s rooms. Nahni Imix shoved open the door slide one handed and blinked when the light brightened at their arrival. Ze was surprised: there was already someone present.

The man was returning from a vague stare and when Nahni Imix stepped inside the room his eyes sharpened on zir. He must have been sleeping, ze surmised with some regret. "Excuse us." Ze set down the bag and noticed that the man's wrists glinted in the improved light. He was wearing steel.
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Re: Surviving Barotyn

Post by Kalon Ordona II on Sat Jun 09, 2012 2:56 pm

"Beautiful, isn't it."

Jarrod could not have argued with that voice, even if he had disagreed.

The adliral aimed a straight finger at a point on the display screen. "That star," he said, "is normally the only one in its cluster bright enough to be seen from Xatl. Yet look," the rest of his fingers joined the first: "not only can you find the rest of the cluster, you can see the stars beyond them as well."

It was some distance to the display screen, but Jarrod could triangulate in his mind the exact spot the adliral's arm and finger had singled out. Then the arm swung to another spot on the screen, away from the center. "And that," said the adliral, "is Barotyn."
A movement from the adliral drew Jarrod's attention from the screen. The adliral was looking up at the ceiling, and if Jarrod were to guess, probably at the exact true position of their destination. That made sense; they were moving up, not sideways; if the direction of the display screen had been their direction of travel, they would all be falling into the wall behind them.

Jarrod looked back to the screen. He had read about the spatiplacean's wonders. He had seen images. But how it felt to actually be here, physically, in the middle of it, was something no amount of study or visualization could have effected. Somehow he felt very big, and very small, all at once. The tug of war between the two perspectives was disconcerting, made him inhale and exhale once in quick succession, fighting a shiver of overload. His next breath was somewhat more steady. "It is beautiful."

"It plays with your mind, doesn't it? One minute you feel as mighty as a god; no horizon can hold you: you have done away with horizons; the world is at your feet. And the next minute you feel no larger than a snowflake, and about as fragile."

"I couldn't have put it into words a moment ago, but that's exactly what it felt like." A moment later, Jarrod wondered, "Is it always like that?"

"Every time," said the adliral. "You learn not to dwell on it."

A tone on the sound system announced the end of the meal period. It was the servicemen and operational crew's turn to take shifts at the mess hall. Without turning from the display screen, the adliral said, "That's your cue, captlan. If you'd make the announcement?"

Jarrod pivoted to a control panel behind them, pressing one of the switches before he had even completed the turn. In a measured voice that he could hear first from his own person and then, an instant later, broadcast from the sound system, Jarrod announced, "All hands report to the adliral at the operation deck, please. All hands, to the operation deck." He released the switch.

"Obtain a report from one of the two flight ushers while we wait. Try the one away from the mess hall first, I think."
Jarrod saluted by bending the last joint of his right thumb beneath his knuckles and crossing the third and fourth fingers in a smooth motion that ended with a satisfying thump above his heart. "Adliral."
The adliral picked up his long, collared, ceremonial cape from where it was draped over his chair and flung it around his shoulders, nodding dismissal to the captlan as he fastened the gold clasp.

Jarrod descended the two wide steps that surrounded the command bridge. Radiating chambers ringed the edge of the operation deck, broken only by the two opposite corridors that led to either end of the Legacy. Tech hands monitored the ship's systems on elaborate, many featured consoles, a couple of them still pressing switches or inputting commands as they stood to report to the adliral. Jarrod still had his cape over one arm, and he repeated the adliral's gesture, fastening the clasp as he entered the corridor. Unlike the adliral's, Jarrod's cape did not match his suit in color or material. His was carried over from his Atleric service, was black with steel blue lining where the adliral's was black and copper gold, and tended to billow as the captlan strode the hallway. The Adliral's bore the Neinian gold elongated hexagon where it fell around both upper arms and was clasped with a ten-pointed star. Jarrod's rank was silver and lacked the bottom two sides of the hexagon, but the clasp was the silver Atleric Service snow-hawk.

It was not long before Jarrod found the man he was looking for. In the corridor he passed two servicemen who had probably been on their way to the mess hall prior to the announcement. The flight usher was some distance behind them, coming up the corridor with his eyes on a memory board he held in one hand. Jarrod recognized him as the usher in charge of Laboratories & Hall, but this was the Care & Supplies wing of the ship. What was the L&H usher doing here?

The man didn't seem to notice Jarrod until he was near enough to have touched him with an outstretched arm. "Ah, Captlan," he said, smiling as he hefted the memory board. "We thought it best to compare notes as we go. Might as well start now."
"I see. An excellent idea." Jarrod had reversed his direction and now fell in step next to the usher. "Do you have anything to report?"
"Anything out of the ordinary? No." He gestured with a nod as they walked. "Excepting ourselves and those two, this wing of the ship is completely empty. Everyone else is at the mess hall or the operation deck."
"How are they doing?"
"Acclimating better than any of them thought they would, it seems to me. There's really not all that much to get used to, when you get down to it. It's the spatiplacean's vastness that gets to you, not the movement of the ship." He glanced admiringly at their surroundings. "The ride itself is smooth as a glassy sea."

By this time they had reached the end of the corridor, and Jarrod emerged to find the operation deck full of people, a few still coming in from the opposite corridor. Jarrod made his way up to the command bridge and took his place next to the adliral. "Everything in order; everyone should be accounted for."
"Good. Looks like everyone's here."

Jarrod did a head count, as he was sure the adliral was doing as well. "44, including ourselves."
"44," the adliral confirmed.
The other flight usher stepped up and handed him a memory board. "All hands accounted for, adliral."
The adliral looked it over, nodded, handed it back. The usher walked back into the group of people, who by now had gathered near the command bridge. Jarrod called for attention, then moved to the second stair of the bridge, giving place to the adliral, who stepped forward to address the crew.

"Welcome, members of the first spatiplacean voyage of the N.A.S. Legacy. Please look for a moment at the display behind me."

Jarrod looked, and the central display screen changed from an image of the stars ahead to a view of the receding Xatl. A small timer was superimposed on a corner of the image, counting down from 00.06.48.

"What you are seeing is our present progress. What you are about to experience is something no xatlian ever has before. When that number reads point-point-zero, we will have truly departed the reaches of Xatl. Please stand with me now as we bid our home world a long farewell."

The adliral turned toward the screen and watched. What followed was just over six minutes of wonder and mixed emotions, the entire room taking in the full reality of their departure. Having just experienced many of the same feelings during launch, Jarrod wasn't sure he wanted to relive that much profundity. He wondered what the number meant, the countdown as they moved away from Xatl. Ominous, it felt to him.

The four large atleric units had settled down, and only the smaller ones in the ceiling accelerated them through the spatiplacean. The thrum of their presence was a comforting constant in comparison to the large units' arresting persistence. It seamed meaningfully quiet. A hushed movement, yet a very real one, as the sphere of Xatl became ever smaller. When the timer reached 00.00.00, the adliral turned again to face the group.

"At this moment," he announced, "each one of you is now the finest and bravest spatiplaceanic voyager in existence. Together, from this point, every xat we travel is farther from home than any xatlian has traveled in history. We have won the honor of the world, for the Banded Territories of Nein." He performed the Neinian salute, mirrored by the servicemen and some of the others present, and followed an instant later by the rest.

"Now we look to our destination, our next great goal." The view of Xatl moved to one of the smaller screens, and the main screen became again the image of the lights beyond. And magnified off center, their destination: Barotyn. "A new world is waiting for us. But it too must be won. The Somhains are out to claim Barotyn for themselves, and they have the faster ship. However, theirs is incapable of landing on the surface. There we will have supremacy. The Legacy is designed to double as a base of surface operations. Right now we have the advantage of progress, and we will have the advantage when we reach the surface of Barotyn, but it will take a coordinated effort to make use of it. With that in mind, let us begin by establishing a solid level of understanding."

The adliral began to pace along the command bridge with his hands behind his back. "Some of you may know me, some of you do not, my name is Dxhonathan Xant. It is my duty to keep us all safe, and it is my responsibility to see that our mission succeeds.

"We are going to be together in a finite space for some time. Respect that fact, every moment of this voyage. There is no room for cowardice here. If you have a problem with another member of this crew, it must be dealt with immediately. No secrets, no grudges, no dissociation. The exalted minds back home would have us believe that we are well prepared for the hardships of our journey, but the truth is we have little notion of was truly waits for us on Barotyn. This crew is designed to work as a complete unit; any individual action--or lack of action--directly affects every single member of this crew. Internalize this and never forget it. All of us are necessary; each of us is necessary.

"As you will see, this policy starts at the top. Transparency has been incorporated into the design of this ship. This command bridge is not hidden away in some cockpit on one end of the ship but is at the center. You cannot get from one end of the ship to the other without going through the operation deck. Get to know the operations personnel. Get to know your officers." He gestured to indicate himself and Jarrod, who nodded. "You may like to know that I have read each of your profiles in detail. You all should do the same. Data copies will be distributed to your quarters.

"You will not be idle on this voyage. Each of you is expected to keep up your physical conditioning. In addition, my aide, Captlan Rowe here, will instruct you in marksmanship as we travel. Use this as a pattern for your regular activities. The pool of knowledge on this ship is extraordinary. Take advantage of it now, before we land on Barotyn. To encourage this, I have personally ensured that there is enough personnel in each profession to be divided evenly into small, effective teams.

"Excluding officers, there are the same number of servicemen as there are scientists aboard. Pair together and then add one of the operations personnel to your team. These groups of three will be the basis of our structure when we set up our site on Barotyn. The teams have not been decided beforehand. It will be up to you to get to know each person, find or forge compatibility, and resolve disputes. After you have formed your team--it may be a quick or an extended decision--make it a habit to communicate as a team with others on the ship.

"And one final word. While a chain of command is necessary, remember you are all equals. We share a unique horizon, one that no other group of xatlians can claim. And we share the legacy of Nein." He saluted once more. "Honor to you all."

At a nod from the adliral, Jarrod rejoined him on the platform. "Operations and servicemen may now begin to take shifts at the mess hall. Everyone else, during your normal activities, please feel free to speak to anyone here. You may also wish to familiarize yourself with the layout and access points of the ship. For the purposes of this voyage, we will apply Xatl hours to Barotyn's day length, so that we are accustomed to Barotynian cycles before we arrive. You will be notified when scheduled activities are to begin. Thank you." With that he moved off the platform to be accessible to the rest of the crew.


Last edited by Kalon Ordona II on Wed Jul 25, 2012 2:24 pm; edited 5 times in total
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Re: Surviving Barotyn

Post by Guest on Mon Jun 11, 2012 5:16 pm

“My name is Nahni Imix,” the woman said as she led him through the atrium. She had handed him the smallest of the bags, the one that the man had said was delicate. Zeum supposed it showed what she thought of his offer. “From Ranchacxictlan,” she continued. “You are not of Somhai either, verdas? You do not have their face. Nor their eyes. Where are you from?”

“I am Zeum of Angka,” Zeum said. “My homeland is west of Somhai. Not much of importance happens there with the exception of wars.” By this time they had moved into a long hall stretching out from the atrium. His boots echoed loudly as the heels clicked against the metal floor. The walls were industrially decorated with pipes and covered control panels, along with other things that Zeum could not guess the purposes of. Long, thin bulbs clung to the ceiling to provide illumination, though it did not provide much. Zeum was used to dark interiors; the temple he had spent his youth in had only been lit by candles and sparse windows. A faint voice echoed through the hall, coming from the intercom; a woman’s voice gave general instructions or suggestions to help the passengers on their way. To aid her instructions were blue signs at regular intervals, giving visible directions.

His guide, Nahni Imix, pointed out that the rooms to either side of them along the hall, the crew quarters, were numbered. The rooms labeled in the 100’s were on the wall of the ship. According to the folder he had been provided, those were reserved for the most important personnel on the ship; those rooms had windows. Not that Zeum could imagine what they might have to look at, at least until they arrived at Barotyn. The rooms along the inside wall of the hall, hugging the spine of the ship, were labeled in the 200’s. These were largely set aside for storage or functions, though some of the lesser members of the crew, like himself, had been quartered there.

His own room number was Q-223; room 23 on the left-hand side of the hall, in the Q Section. The information in the folder had provided a diagram of the interior of the ship, with a cross-sectional map overlaid. The ship was divided into squares, four wide and six deep, with two at the front comprising the main deck, and were labeled alphabetically.

Nahni Imix slid open the door to room Q-112 as she reached it, managing not to lose her hold on the bags she was still carrying. Light filled the room at their presence, though Zeum could see someone inside, sitting upright on his bed with his back resting against the wall. The window beside him gave a wonderful view of the imposing space station, ARC. Zeum had not really expected anyone to be here, though it should not have surprised him. What would he say when they dropped these bags off here?

“Excuse us,” Nahni Imix said as she set down the bags. Zeum held out the smaller bag for her to grab, but she was not looking at him. She was staring at the man, who was also staring intently at her. And he noticed what had her attention: the man was wearing steel cuffs on his wrists. Somhai thinking again… who saw the manifest list and decided bunking a prisoner with a bunch of scientists was a good idea?

“Thank you, Nahni Imix,” Zeum said, walking away from the room. “But I think I can find my way from here.” He wasn’t sure why, but the presence of the man upset him. Zeum was supposed to be the bird of prey on this boat; that was the only way this was going to work. A prisoner upset that balance. Zeum dropped the bag by the others, perhaps a little too roughly by the sound of its contents when it hit the floor, and then turned back to the hall to find his room. He hadn’t imagined it happening so quickly, but he was already feeling slightly claustrophobic. He was used to making himself invisible, but now he had to make himself a known presence. He literally had nowhere to hide.

Zeum did not wait for his guide to say anything before he hastily made his way down the hall. He found his room quickly, and without a moment’s hesitation he slid the door open, stepped inside, and slammed it shut behind him. What he saw reminded him again of his days in the temple. It was a small room, just large enough for a bed and a desk. The desk looked a part of the wall itself, rather than a decoration. So did the bed. The only things not attached to the room were the blankets and chair. The same lights as he saw in the hall were attached to the ceiling of his room; they had ignited at his sudden appearance. Zeum had to take a deep breath to calm himself.

Zeum had been chosen for this mission for a reason: killing was what he was good at doing. It was not killing that was going to be hard for him. He had no other reason to be here, yet he had to find one. He had to convince everyone that he was a valuable part of this crew, or someone was going to get suspicious. It was the only way he was going to find a life on Barotyn, one free from his past and the horrible things he had done. He supposed he had already made one friend, though he just blew her off. And on a bit of a lighter note, he only had to make himself more valuable than that prisoner. Perhaps his presence was not such a bad thing after all?

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Re: Surviving Barotyn

Post by Moon Ray on Thu Jun 28, 2012 1:34 pm

"I deliver the bags of Geoff Salardarin," Nahni Imix explained. Ze stacked the black luggage neatly against the wall where the pilot would be sure to find it. The smallest bag, ze lifted on top -not having missed the roughness with which Zeum had tossed it to the floor. The contents shifted like there was too much space, despite the firmness of the outside. Fortunately, nothing appeared to be leaking, so she assumed it would be fine.

The cuffed man didn't seem inclined to speak, though he watched her. Nahni Imix guessed ze was disturbing him; he must be tired. Ze bowed again, folding neatly at the waist.

As ze straightened, the window caught zir eye. Beyond the reinforced panes, a piece of the sprawling space station glided past. "By your leave," ze said hoarsely, excusing zirself from the room.

They were moving. Should they be moving already? ze wondered. Zir body insisted it was not yet the scheduled time, but who knew how well zir instincts could keep time now that ze was separated from zir world. Ze was worried to illness by the idea that zir lifetime of training would be useless in the black sea. But it was not a new thought and ze pushed it down ruthlessly.

Only two other passengers passed zir in the corridor, moving back towards the atrium and meeting halls. Each time Nahni Imix bowed zir head and murmured a rote line of greeting.

"Zeum of Angka," the guide called, rapping zir knuckles against a door smartly. Ze had heard the soft shhuft of his door sliding open when he had left to find his own room. Ze knew from the vicinity of the sound that it was one of two possibilities, so ze knocked against the first. "The Fear is departing now. Would you join the crew in the atrium? Or an observation room, perhaps? We will say good-bye to Xatl."

Abruptly, a sound that Nahni Imix had not even been conscious of stopped. Like the sound of mourning birds suddenly ceasing when a predator is sighted. Or the shuttle of a loom beneath the chatter of a family gathering, ending when Grandma leaves for her nap. Or, more likely, the sound of an electrical fan within the chassis of Outsider technology.

Just as Nahni Imix acknowledged the unexpected quiet, ze felt as if something grabbed zir behind the navel and hauled zir towards the far wall. "Ak!" Nahni Imix stumbled a few steps and then righted zirself as if nothing had ever been wrong. The sound resumed.

"What-?" Ze looked up and down the empty hall in shock.

___________________________________________________

Luise Bonattier cursed fluidly in his own tongue.

"Master?" Little Welland scurried into the lab, like a dutifully concerned assistant. His white overcoat flared around his stout, little body making him look like somebody's ugly, bearded child playing dress-up in his father's clothes. His red curls were in disarray, and his glasses were slipping precariously towards the end of his short nose. "Is everything alright?"

"Of course not," Luise spat. He waved a hand over the small workspace allotted his team, encompassing the mess of scattered sample jars. "Get this cleaned up. Make sure nothing has broken." With that he swept out of the lab, stooping to avoid the top of the door frame as he passed under it.

The rest of the lab was also unpacking. There were a few tumbled boxes, but for the most part the malfunctioning gravity didn't seem to have caused any damage. He snapped solid black eyes on the cowering female doctor who was assigned to the space adjacent his. "Where is the ship's interface for this lab?" he demanded of her. She opened her mouth but nothing came out as she continued to stare at his eyes. That had been happening a lot. "The interface!" he barked.

"Oh. Doctor Neelson needed it to set up his devices!" Welland called, bustling over to the physicist's workstation with his arms full of sample containers. "It's right here master!" In three long strides Luise crossed the lab and plucked up the interface before Welland's bumbling could cause any damage to it.

"What is that idiot captain doing?" he asked of the crystal screen once he'd powered it on.

"The captain's location is not available for public knowledge," returned the device in a smooth voice that did nothing to soothe Luise's temper.

"Spectacular. Read status report on gravity systems." The screen prompted him for his authorization, which Luise provided through a tap of his ring. "What is- ?!" He had a few more choice words to share from his mother tongue before subsiding into Mandin. "Leave it to Somhai engineers to frak up something as simple as a read out." He scrolled through the gibberish output and found the time-stamp of a minute ago. "Error 212. Illegal Command. What?!! What is that supposed to mean? Welland!"

The last was directed towards the lab where his assistant was scurrying after small containers on the floor. "Yes Master?" the diminutive man piped up immediately.

"Put samples k1 through k9 in the grav box. And make sure the box is running on independent back up power." He glared at the screen; if they couldn't trust the ship to behave in a predictable manner -under any and all circumstances- then they were going to have to be prepared. "The last thing we need is the k-series tumbling about." He passed the interface to the doctor lady and offered her some humor as an apology: "Let's hope the life support systems don't fail next."

_________________________

"Increased power pull from ship systems when we brushed atmosphere," Nickle called out. He tossed a careless wink towards Geoff Saladarin, who was still feeling his heart pound irregularly after the sudden loss of gravity. He'd had enough surprises for one life-or-death mission, thanks. Araldo Nickle wasn't so concerned: "She's already adjusted to the change. Flying like a dream."

"Good. Take us into position."

Geoff sent his grid coordinates to the pilot in charge by way of his computer terminal. The numbers were only accurate to .000000001 given the rush, but it would do. The loop around Xatl would gain them the speed they needed to reach their destination. The last decimal places of directional details could be adjusted in the weeks ahead.

"Good to go, Sir," Geoff hoped, as the tip of Leona's Fear pointed towards his home on Xatl.
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Re: Surviving Barotyn

Post by Guest on Tue Sep 18, 2012 5:02 pm

"Zeum of Angka," the guide called, rapping her knuckles against the door. Zeum jumped at the sound, startled from his thoughts. "The Fear is departing now. Would you join the crew in the atrium? Or an observation room, perhaps? We will say good-bye to Xatl."

Opening his mouth to respond, Zeum was completely startled when he was slammed against the door behind him. It was as if someone had pushed him, or pulled him from behind, but there was quite obviously no one there. Ghosts... he thought, but then shook the idea from his head. He was far too old to be believing in ghosts, even if they were sailing through the uncharted Black Seas. There were many things to be discovered out here, but he seriously doubted ghosts were among them.

Everything that had been sitting on the desk and his bed was now on the floor; a few sharpened pencils were rolling across the floor toward his feet. His bed looked like it had been slept in all night with the blankets off to one side, nearly touching the floor.

Zeum turned back to the door pressed the pad that activated the nearly silent runners, and the door whipped open with a small hiss. Nahni Imix stood outside of his door, looking as startled as he felt.

"You felt it then?" Zeum asked. The ship capsizing just as it began its journey seemed not only an unenticing but also very unlikely scenario. A lot of money had been put into Leona's Fear. But Zeum found that fear at the forefront of his mind. "Do you know what happened?"

_________________

The roar of the engine was nearly enough to drown out all other sounds, but the excited voices of over a dozen people was still unmistakeable. Wes Solari wasn't surprised. The engine had flared unexpectedly, the tornado of fire expanding to the boundary of its safety margin. As the guardians of the precious mechanical heart of Leona's Fear, they were all surprised by the flare.

The crew immediately ran diagnostic tests on the various terminals located around the rust-colored room. Wes himself searched through the error logs on the alpha-terminal, and was surprised when nothing noteworthy popped up. Something had to have gone wrong for a flare like that to happen. Power to the engine could be increased by certain degrees as needed, but flowing that much through the main engine could burn the ship out. The front half of the ship would end up floating to Barotyn without its engine.

"Someone call the Captain and find out what the hell just happened!" Wes yelled to no one in particular. As the head of the engine crew, he knew someone would listen to him. He was legendary for making examples of his subordinates when necessary. And he knew they would hear him, because they all wore headsets to make up for the noise of the engine.

"Master Solari, Sir!" the youngest of the mechanics, Kascamand, called out. "The ship brushed atmosphere at point three point nineteen, at the precise time of the engine flare."

"Somebody get me the Captain!" Wes yelled again. He could only do so much to keep this ship together if its pilots couldn't fly it where they were told.

"He is not responding, Master Solari. I'm being routed through an aide who, rather indignantly, said that he was not to be disturbed." His liason with the command module, Amoti, spoke more calmly than they younger and inexperienced Kascamand. And he knew he didn't need to face Wes directly and scream to be heard. Fortunately, the headset automatically adjusted the volume to compensate for those who needed to hear their own voice when they spoke.

Wes looked up at the bright cone of burning light, squared his shoulders and took a deep breath, and then pushed the anger out of him. It was a necessary tool he had acquired after his years in locked up in Traest. Taking his anger out on his crew got him no closer to solutions, unfortunately. His goggles dimmed the light enough for him to see the streams of magma as they passed from the reactor to the ultra-dense deuterium core. It was a calming sight, despite the intensity of the reactions going on within.

"Carry on, people. Check the error logs every zero ten and scrutinize everything. We can't spend all day on this, but I don't want it to bite us in asses either." Less than ten minutes into the journey... Wes wondered if the whole trip was going to be like this.

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Re: Surviving Barotyn

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