Re: UCS Vanguard Episode VII: The Funeral, The Refit, and The Scot.

When Jim arrived in the Officer's Lounge, Samuel was there as well at a table alone, mulling over a drink. Surprisingly, he motioned for Jim to join him. He smiled as the doctor tentatively sat down beside him.

"Well. Interesting first meeting, don't you think?" he asked with a wry smile. "Though I'm certain the Captain will chew me out later for the comments on Cross and his death. That's something I'm willing to go through though. I put the safety of the living before the sanctity of the dead. Once you've seen enouh corpses, the mystique is rather lost."

Samuel gave a small laugh, but then looked at Jim with a serious gaze.

"Now, I'll talk no more of it. After this time. Regardless of your emotional feelings there is something I must know. First - do you, as a medical practitioner, believe that there could have been an alternative reason for Cross's death." He paused for a moment.

"Secondly, and more important - do you believe such a thing could occour again? My job is to protect the Captain. Being on a ship where the previous Captain died in obscured circumstances does not exactly make me feel assured."

Samuel leaned back. "You need not tell the Captain of this. He has enough on his plate. But if you do know... or learn later of anything of suspicion, I want to know. I would appreciate your opinions."

Blessed be Science and her handmaiden Steam;
They make Utopia only half a dream.

Re: UCS Vanguard Episode VII: The Funeral, The Refit, and The Scot.

The marines were stationed in ‘marine country’, two of the decks adjacent to the dockets where the gunships and shuttles were housed and where they were in turn boarded. This allowed the marines to embark rapidly when needed. It was on these decks where Colonel-Hunter Thorpe spent most of his time, and in the evenings he would mostly be found in his quarters; a small apartment of rooms second only to those of the captain, owing to the Colonel’s almost equal rank. With plush furniature moved in from his town-house and decorated with the trappings of a middle aged man submerged int eh culture of war such as swords, a gun case, busts of Napoleon, it was hard to imagine why such a man as Thorpe would leave this sanctum let alone not be found there on an otherwise dull day such as this, having breakfast, perhaps, that pretty young nurse he was seeing. No, instead the colonel was in an alcove of the officer’s mess. He was rarely intrigued by official reports and the other buff which flowed through his inbox, but the analysis on the dominant species of the planet which was to be their destination did intrigue him. He was even making notes from the information from the neat presentation booklet he and the rest of the officers had received.

‘long body, light features...don’t seem to be muscular as we’d understand it suggesting a delicate bone structure’ he thought ‘exposed to small arms fire....’ He mulled over some of the satellite phots of their cities. “aha!” he mused allowed, before scribbling down more notes in his book. “On the outskirts, looks like a barracks or some other kind of training centre...” he muttered under his breath. He didn’t notice the arrival of Samuel, or later, Jim, and instead continued his notes until he realised he’d ran out of breakfast, in this case, a plate of heavily fried bacon and sausages. He looked up and saw his two brother officers and raised a hand in greeting to them from across the room before turning his attention once more to the information before him. From what he could glean these creatures possessed some kind of martial capability, and that their society surrounded their god both in war as in peace. Scans of the terrain suggested that large scale conflict had been fought within the past 100 years, with other observations suggesting two factions of disproportionate strength engaged in, perhaps, a war based around in different interpretations of the religious beliefs. Other signs of a war culture with the society were displayed through a handful of images showing sleek ground-skimming vehicles toting what Thorpe and the Marine Intelligence Contingent strongly believed were large weapons of a simple hyper-magnetic projectile nature, similar to the Mk5 Rail Gun installed on the Defence Orbitors circling earth. Also, some of the aliens seemed to carry long sticks with glowing ends, perhaps they too were weapons? The Marines also deduced that, from the scans of what may be former battlefields, a network of bunkers and fortifications surrounded the major living region or city. Readings also suggested a history of nuclear fallout, perhaps about 100 years previous, although in minute quantities and perhaps not caused by anything but some natural incident.

The colonel put his folder and notes down into a shoulder bag and walked across the fairly desolate officer’s quarters to the other two men. “Morning chaps, what’s the shave?”

33 (edited by KinichAhau 2010-08-04 16:56)

Re: UCS Vanguard Episode VII: The Funeral, The Refit, and The Scot.

Francisco walked back to his room slowly. The captain was a fascinating man. He'd heard of the previous captain and the events surrounding his death prior to departure. Nasty, and it put him at a general feeling of unease. Several ensigns paused to salute. He smiled and shook their hands. Confused, they rushed to their daily duties.

The ship was vast. Much larger than he'd imagined but he supposed that it was understandable. The assignments Command gave them took quite some time and required a vast amount of resources. The other officers seemed interesting, but he frowned when he thought of that lanky dark-haired girl and her commentary. He knew well to let things lay, and so he decided to think of what else needed attending to.

Arriving at his room, he threw his coat onto the desk chair, and picked up the briefing dossier slipped under his door. In it the appropriate files, including notes on possible native flora, fauna as well as biological theories regarding the indigenous populus were contained therein. He read them thoroughly, and pushed the comms button located by the door of his room. "Yes-this is Science Officer Mendoza. I'd like someone to escort me to the laboratory. And bring a few strong men-the boxes I need to bring are quite heavy." the voice at the other end crackled "At once, sir." Before he replied that there was no need for such formalities, the comm shut off. He sighed. Always such formalities. Never did like them.

He gathered the boxes by the door, until he heard a knock. "Sir-we're here to escort you to your laboratory and provide assistance with the boxes." He opened the door. "Enter. Pick them up-do be careful though, they're heavy and some of it is quite delicate." He grabbed the dossier before closing his door and walking down the hall with the accompaniment that followed. Deciding to learn more about the ship, he asked the young woman escorting him to the laboratory.

"Tell me, my dear. How long have you been serving?" "I've been a part of the crew since the beginning, sir. She's a lovely ship. Well run and really fast. Sometimes we get in a bit of a scrape, but nothing she can't handle. The crew is just brilliant. There's some conflict but mostly the stuff you'd expect on a ship voyage." Francisco raised an eyebrow. "So you knew the captain, did you? How was he? What kind of man was the old boy?" She looked sad. "A good one-and..." she stopped. "I'm sorry sir." She recomposed herself."now now. NO reason to fuss about it. Tell me about my space."

"You have a Level 3 UEC scientific laboratory, equipped with microscopic devices, 2 crates of petri dishes, a full array of "the standard" chemistry items, including 2 dozen Erlenmyer flasks, 3 dozen glass measuring cups in assorted sized, maxiumum 1 Litre, graduated cylinders, flow hoods with full ventilation, gas mane intake as well as oxygen and hydrogen. A full cabinet of chemicals, sealed and labeled in glass, marked by weight, molarity, water solubility as well as any necessary safety precautions. A bookshelf with pertinent texts relevant to all items in the laboratory including UEC approved collection methods."

She stopped at the steps. "Down here, sir. Please follow" the men grunted behind her. "A half dozen pressurized tanks with gauging and appropriate sealing, with glass domes to accomodate any flora collected and taken back to the ship. 4 large laboratory tables with flame-retardant surfacing, several dozen cabinets, shelves and other such things. There is also a large cooling and freezing unit, as well as a heating unit at the other end. The heating unit has a maximum temperature of 600 degrees Celsius, sustainable for a fortnight. Likewise, the cooling unit can sustain temperatures for a fortnight as low as -20." Francisco whistled. "Wow, Command never just hands a fella a chemistry set and says "go to, do they?" he smiled. She stopped. "Here we are. The laboratory is  air-locked and pressure sealed due to the nature of some materials we may find on expeditions. This can be overridden here-" she points to a button in a glass case just to the right of the door. "the lights above the door indicate if there are any potential hazards which would prevent fellow crew members from entering or exiting. Now, be careful when we enter-it's been sterilized" "The whole room?" "Yes, sir. The whole room." "Very good." She opened the door by twisting a large metal wheel. With a large groan and a hiss, pressurized gas plumed into the hall. The door slid into the wall next to it, and she walked in.

"This is your laboratory. She turned around in a circle. The room was extremely large and rectangular, painted white with large hanging lights brightly illuminating the entirety of the space. The wood and glass cabinets and cupboards were well labeled, made of thick sturdy materials that would surely last longer than the many expeditions of the Vanguard.

It is one of the most advanced on a UEC expedition vessel, so we do hope you take full advantage of the accoutrement. Now, the acids and bases are in separate cabinets. Various other small items, including stirrers, weights and the like are all in drawers or on shelves, all of which have been well organized by myself and several other crew members who will comprise your team. "I have a team? Huh. And that also explains your textbook-like knowledge of the lab. Very good, very good indeed. Oh-I also assume the laboratory has an autoclave?" "Oh, yes sir! A very large one at that-able to hold most large objects and dozens of small ones if the need would arise." "Fantastic, truly fantastic." Francisco motioned to the men. "OK, fellas-let's move the stuff in."

The lab was huge, about 20 meters in length, with a ceiling that cleared 5 meters. Truly this was an expensive outfit. "Are there any specific areas for flora should I desire to grow them?" the young woman replied. "Oh, of course-the lab's greenhouse-seprate from the ships greenhouse where some of our food is grown" she explained "is right through this door. Native Earth plants can be grown here as well as other specimens, but assuming you would want them separate, the greenhouse has been divided into 2 areas-one for Earth plants, one for non-Earth flora. The specimens collected can be grown here in almost exacting conditions as we find them. WE have enough pressurized containment to mimic most atmospheric conditions, as well as appropriate lighting and the like.

"Francisco motioned to the young men. "Bring the boxes in here- place them over there. Fantastic. Okay. Thank you gentlemen for your help. Are any of you on my staff? Oh, Good. You both stay. The rest-dismissed!" He stood with three of his new assignments. "Good. Help me unpack these plants. Be careful! Some of them are delicate. They all have curative properties, so we need them intact." They set about unpacking all the plants, placing them under lights, on separate small tables. He made sure to label them as well so his assistants would know what they were. "There, much better. Most of these have similar environs, so there's no need to worry about what to do about atmospheric pressure and such. Oh-the fungi. Yes. Do be careful with those. Spore should be dropping soon and they get quite messy. Keep the fungi on the opposite end of the greenhouse. thank you."

They walked out of the greenhouse, and one of them closed the door. The room was truly magnificent. 4 tables in the center, all of which were equipped with gas lines and faucets. The counters were solid and well finished, the drawers well organized and full. Counters on the east side of the room contained boxes of new, sterile glass items. His desk, he found, was in a small room with the bookshelf. A port window allowed for a pleasant view, and the lighting was good. On the desk sat an engraved placard that hung over the front-"Francisco O Mendoza, Science Officer-Lieutenant" he smiled. Walking back out into the main room, he checked all the cabinets and cupboards. Full of various chemicals, they were neat and well kept. They lined the north and south walls, with the west wall holding the door to the greenhouse ,as well as a large chalk/drawing board and a cork board used to pin things up. He removed the images of the people, animals and plants of the planet they would be exploring and pinned them up. He looked at his staff.

"Collect the other staff. Have them study the images and tell me if they can find anything. But first-everyone help me unbox the remainder of the items and place them in their respective space."
The staff nodded. One of the young men called over the comm by the exit "Science staff, report to the laboratory. Science staff, report-" a few moments later the remainder of his staff, comprising a dozen or so scientists stood waiting at the door ready and waiting. "Very good, very good" Francisco said "come, enter. We've got work to do but first. I joined this crew for many reasons. I have mine, you have yours. I do not ask, and I understand if you don't discuss. However-we need to work together so let's try to get an understanding. we are the UEC's scientists. We're here to gain information about what's out there and bring it back. That said, I need everyone's full cooperation with all assignments beginning with cleanup." The staff all saluted and walked about, attending to what was needed. In no time at all the work was done, and all stood in front of a table closest to the cork board. "I want you all to study these images. Read the documentation and know the beings we'll encounter. Understand about atmospheric content, pressure, chemical composition of the planet, possible foreign substances and contaminants including viri and bacteria. When you have finished with this and your analysis, I want a full report. Then go to the mess and take some time. Get to know each other. If you need me for anything at all, I'll be in my quarters." As his assistants hunched over, reading the dossier he walked out quietly, slowly wandering up the stairs and entering his room. He placed his last plant on a high shelf, lay down and took a very short rest.

"For I am the first and the last. I am the silence that is incomprehensible and the idea whose remembrance is frequent. I am the voice whose sound is manifold and the idea whose appearance is multiple. For I am knowledge and ignorance. I am shame and boldness. I am shameless; I am ashamed. I am strength and I am fear. I am war and I am peace. Give heed to me. I am the brightest of light and darkness black as pitch. For I am the one who alone exists, and I have no one who will judge me."

Re: UCS Vanguard Episode VII: The Funeral, The Refit, and The Scot.

Stirling sat in his sea cabin. Something among his wardroom was not quite right--part of it, of course, was getting used to a new wardroom makeup, but part of it was something else. Something at the meeting was askew. . . ah, perhaps that was it. The doctor had seemed quite out-of-place, quiet, reserved, not at all the amused and hearty man that Cross had made him out to be. Feeling responsible for the former CO's death? Yes, that was probably part of it. That, along with losing someone who he'd considered a friend.

Stirling rose from the couch and picked up the beautifully-engraved trumpet off of its rack on the wall of the sea cabin. One of the finest of its type, Stirling was pleased to have gotten these instruments from Cross. He put a few notes through it, sighed, set it back on its stand. He'd play more once they were underway, he thought. Maybe find someone to play with, even?

The commodore meandered into the office and pressed a button that turned on his microphone and projected his voice throughout the ship. "Chief Surgeon to the Commanding Officer's Sea Cabin please. Dr. Christian to the Sea Cabin." He needed to have a talk with the good doctor, set his nerves right. He'd tell him the truth--what better remedy was there?

Walking into the lounge area of the sea cabin, he moved to the bar and poured two glasses of very fine scotch. Just as he capped the bottle, he heard a knock at the door. "Enter!"

Re: UCS Vanguard Episode VII: The Funeral, The Refit, and The Scot.

Tipsily swaying as she walked back to her quarters, Izzy was in a blithe mood. The new Skipper, she thought, seemed pretty easy-going, and hadn't mentioned The Issue, bar that it was not to be brought up whilst on active duty.

Therefore, she had made the best of what she could do with the few whiskey bottles she had smuggled out of the meeting. They should keep for later.

As she passed Rousseau's quarters, she gave the door a harsh stare, before continuing on to her own. The mission dossier was already on her desk. She put it on a pile of other unopened mission dossiers.

Sorry, left the Falcon in the Bentley. Right now, you answer to my Ronson T-T.

All hail Kremperpunk.

Re: UCS Vanguard Episode VII: The Funeral, The Refit, and The Scot.

Samuel was stony faced as the good doctor made his retreat from the lounge, fleeing either his question or the imminent arrival of Colonel Hunter-Thorpe or perhaps simply responding to the summons on the announcement system. He felt that he'd got his point across.

This left him alone with Hunter-Thorpe.

'The shave..." he replied slowly. "Seems to be a rather evasive doctor, Colonel. Perhaps I shall follow suit." he murmured, getting up and leaving the lounge.

He continued with a walk around the ship, part patrol and part thinking-session. The Captain did not seem as perturbed as he did over Cross's death, and Stirling knew the man better than Samuel. Of course, the Captain was good at keeping things under wraps. Samuel suspected there was something that the Captain hid from even him concerning the affair. Perhaps he had called the Doctor to talk about just that.

More likely, Stirling had simply wanted a musical partner, or an audience. On music, Stirling and his Security Officer were of often differing opinions, mostly through the facts of upbringing. Samuel did, despite his cold exterior, appreciate a good tune. However, without the fancy, expensive and typical orchestral instruments, his only means of playing was an old, dark wood guitar. He'd picked it, and the skill to play it, up on the long military tours. He organized the next set of guard shifts, then retreated to his quarters - he noticed that "Izzy" officer going into hers nearby.

He went to his cabin and closed the door, taking his instrument out of a battered case (in fact, sporting more than a few bullet holes and even some nasty laser-scorching and burn marks on one end.) He strummed a few chords, then starting a slow, solemn, rustic song. Even in the midst of musical rapture, he still seemed as intent and alert as ever, his violet lens always watching.

Blessed be Science and her handmaiden Steam;
They make Utopia only half a dream.

Re: UCS Vanguard Episode VII: The Funeral, The Refit, and The Scot.

The marine colonel looked down at his tea for a moment, only to look back up to a noticeable absence of the ship’s chief surgeon and the imminent departure of Samuel. Thorpe raised his cup in a goodbye-gesture and then returned to his notes. As much as the security officer was responsible for the safety of personnel, and other officers onboard for intelligence assessment, Thorpe liked to have his finger on the pulse of security issues. A pulse preferably flowing through the Marine’s Intelligence offices. His verdict on the alien species was that militarily the Vanguard had an apparent upper hand. That was a useful bargaining chip. However, Thorpe was a professional and cautious soldier and wasn’t about to recommend a form of military diplomacy to the captain based on shooting first and asking questions of what was left. That wasn’t purpose of the mission, or the marines for that matter.

The colonel recalled that the aliens were only a little less developed than earthmen, and so probably had weaponised space craft capable of meeting any of Vanguard’s landing vessels, gunships, fighters or even the mother-ship. That wasn’t really marine department, that was a navy issue. When they landed, or in the atmosphere of the planet where aircraft operated, Thorpe would become the alpha and omega of military and security issues, but depending on the captain’s decision, that may not be necessary.

Of other interest to the Colonel were the types of fauna on the planet. He had, the night before, taken as his bedside reading, the report on the beasts on the planet which were not of the dominant species. Animal biology of the ‘its head will look good on the wall’ kind was a hobby to the gentleman officer, who had brought with him no less than two custom-made, engraved, Nitro-Express, double-barrel hunting rifles on the off-chance that there was ferocious and majestic game to be had on the strange new worlds. He had noticed that on the planet there existed particular type of mega-fauna which sported four large tusks, two on each of its mandible-sets. He looked forward to finding out more about the beasts, and the local laws on hunting them. He reasoned any higher life-forms capable of what these aliens were, would have some kind of hunting.

Finished with his intelligence reports, Thorpe decided to visit the fearless commander of the mighty Vanguard, for a chat and a cup of tea. As he walked the corridors and ascended the various elevators to Navy-Officer Country, he encountered medical staff running about. Evidently there was a flap on. Perhaps this was what the doc had had to rush off to...though how that had entailed meeting the captain was another matter. Thorpe noticed that there were no medicos about the Captain’s quarters. ‘So he ‘aint died too, then’ he mused before knocking on the door. He heard the Captain say ‘Enter’ in the clear colloquial accent, and obeyed.

“Morning Sah, thought I’d make a more personal visit, seein’ as how I’m technically the most senior officer next to y’good self, and of course, in charge of the shooting-party should things cut up rough with Johnny-E.T.”  Thorpe sat himself down in one of the luxurious nautical chairs that Cross had had installed in the cabin, and then offered the new captain a cigar. “Smoke, old boy? , by the way, have you worked with marines b- damne my eyes! of course! you said so didn't you! XO wasn't it? Certainly not quite this size of a contingent I’m sure. But don’t you worry, I’m not about to usurp any power or not do as I’m told. I like the Captain to be in charge of the ship, and I’ll worry about the scum-of-the-earth marines. You’ll never see me issue an order to navy personell unless it’s marine business or the excrement has hit the fan planet-side and I’ve got to hold up a bunker, organise a retreat or some-such thing. I’m a competent soldier, you must’ve seen me’ record, so seeing as you’re a fellow Scotsman and a career officer I think we’ll get along fairly well I hope”