background: url(images/nightsky.jpg) no-repeat center center fixed; background-size: cover; height: 200%; overflow: hidden;
Welcome to the

Last Updated     Mar 5, 2022
The Characters
The Ship
Campaign History Page
Granted Rights
The Frontier Wars
The Spinward Marches
About Legends
Artist's Credits
House Rules
Recent Updates
Email Me
Changing Plans And Faces

Leaping The Wall
     Having completed the deliveries to Clan Glas, the crew had sold off their cargo and been paid.  The next day, they were expected to land the cutter at the downbase to begin their practice with the gear they would be using on Sonthert.  During their free time, Colinne had been working to investigate the local electronic ecosystem and found the port computers had a well-designed demilitarized zone structure.  Requests from any external system in the berth were translated into requests that were then parsed into data streams then passed to and translated by destination systems.  Those systems would then respond back to the secure servers in the berth electronics section which then transmitted the data to any ship or terminal in the berth.

Where secure communications were needed, it was expected a ship's crew would connect with managers of the distant end servers and set up secure log ins.  Those working the distant end would give the crew a middleware application that would encrypt all data sent by them to servers outside the berth.  That would be decrypted on the distant end and all work done there before those systems sent equally encrypted streams of data back to the ship.  There, the installed middleware would decrypt the resulting data on a local display.  There were also common applications which could be accessed directly from the terminal that would encrypt and decrypt data for specific uses, like on-world communications or more.

Pushed by the data he continued to find, Sekea had started researching materials from which to create weapons and tools on Laurasia and Oseaan.  That was despite the fact they'd have two ice cutters that used flame to burn through obstructions, or be used as weapons.  What kept bothering Sekea was that he kept hitting the same wall in his research.  Regardless if it was some technician he was talking to, some file he accessed or some technical data he found.  The answer was that no currently known material would survive the hyper-arctic environments of Laurasia and Oseaan.  After long hours seeking answers, he finally asked himself, 'If they couldn't do it "today", how could the people of this Order between 480 and 290 years before?'

Hitting on that question, Sekea suddenly realized he'd not heard a single person ask it!  Not a single person had considered working the timeline backwards to ask how the Order's people might have dealt with an issue which appeared block them like a brick wall?  And now that he knew for certain that no one he could find or read of could achieve the task, he had to admit that the Order's people couldn't have either.  And if they couldn't, there was no way they could have built any kind of permanent base under those conditions.  Occam's razor was now screaming at him that the base Could Not be located on either Laurasia and Oseaan.  It wasn't a question of the ice and rock.  It was a question of the pervasive hyper-arctic cold.  The base had to be on the airless planet Mynbou!

After Sekea's report, Mikah thanked him and said she felt his comments were very good points.  Because of that, Mikah said she'd consider passing the hyper-arctic worlds and scanning them while moving through the system.  Still, they'd move on to explore Mynbou first.  The others heard that and some nodded.  Sekea pushed, reminding her each of those worlds would likely be so far apart that they'd have to make jumps to reach each one.  So, they'd have to spend weeks if not months in varying orbits while scanning each world.  Because of that, it would be a waste of resources to spend months scanning the worlds because they now expected any base to be on Mynbou.  Mikah heard that, and nodded saying they'd just explore Mynbou first, and get to the others later if needed.

To be sure he understood, Aiden asked if they should prioritize Mynbou first even though Sekea would be handling the jump navigation.  He was dryly told, "That's what we just said." and nodded.  Aali also nodded, and said, "Hitting the easy one first is usually a good idea."  Hearing that, Zimzod jibed, "That must be how Emkir started out as a kid in the bars.  He went for the easy girls first." with a smirk on his face.  Emkir only smiled, spread his hands to take in his surroundings and happily said, "And look where I am today."  He then continued, "I've got the best girl in the world, I've got a ship we took away from the rightful owners and I'm having a great time."  Colinne only glanced at Emkir and smirked, "Took away from the rightful owners, huh?"

Ignoring her comment, Emkir reminded them people didn't put something they wanted to hide in the place most people would look.  So, he suggested they not ignore Laurasia and Oseaan.  Sekea agreed he wasn't suggesting that, but he reminded them all Mynbou was smaller than the other two worlds so it would be easier to scan.  That was only moderately true since Mynbou had a diameter of 4,000 kilometers where Oseaan's was 5,000 and Laurasia's 6,000.  So, the size differences were not very large comparatively.  Mikah said she'd learned that ice-cap covered plates still had dynamics which caused the ice to move, so things built into deep ice could have moved or been destroyed thanks to sub-ice fluids.

Emkir argued it was possible there was no fluid under the ice, but made it clear he was thinking of "water(H2O) ice".  Others, including Sekea, jumped in and said most scientific data supported the view there would be some level of fluids under the ice, though that would likely be nitrogen ice instead of water ice.  Not agreeing, Emkir only said they'd see.  After more discussion, they first started arguing the nitty gritty of forces acting on the worlds before it was pointed out this data did not have to be worked out "right then and there".  It was also late on a Friday night and they had training scheduled for the next morning.  Because of that, Sekea went to his bedroom and to sleep.

The discussion about the ship's sensors continued for a bit after Sekea left the group.  Mikah said she would have expected their sensors to give them the best information they could get, because they were military grade.  The scouts in the group, led by Aiden, explained that military-grade sensor systems were optimized for combat, not for system exploration.  Imperial Scout ships were often outfitted with sensors optimized for exploration.  Even the Dawnstar Horizon had an installed sensor suite optimized that way, which made it valuable in hunting the pirates they'd faced in the Rech system.

That meant they could use the sensors they had to do broad surface scans of the worlds.  But the sensors wouldn't give them much on the composition of what was under the surface.  They could certainly expect to see any significant anomalies, but they'd not get composition or mineral details.  Large minable deposits of materials would show up, along with any facility large enough to be a base.  But they'd not learn where ice shields of frozen oxygen or hydrogen were?  So, that was a danger they'd have to use the densometers to help determine.  That meant they'd have to regularly stop cutting with the ice cutters to check the composition of any ice formations they were cutting.

With the hour growing later, Emkir got bored with the sensor talk and decided he had better things to do and began to paw at Aali.  Being their engineer and not really concerned with sensor discussions, Aali let him lure her off to their bedroom.  When they left, Zimzod had the same ideas about Mikah but Jocelynn said she wanted to speak to Mikah.  Hearing that as they left, Emkir snarked back, "That doesn't sound nearly as fun."  Jocelynn only answered, "That depends on if Zimzod wants to watch?" and they all laughed at that while Emkir and Aali left the group.

Having Mikah's attention, Jocelynn said she knew the gear in the ship's locker was not a concern, but asked if she could go through it and try to sell off some spare equipment.  Especially since they now had a connection with Clan Glas.  As an example, Jocelynn brought up the grav-shoe she'd bought months before.  Jocelynn admitted she thought it would be a cool thing to have when she bought it, and she'd find a need for it, but that hadn't happened.  So, things like the grav-shoe sat gathering dust.  Jocelynn also admitted she figured they'd never find something to use it for, and they had gear left from Terin too.  Nodding, Mikah said she was OK with that and recommended Jocelynn work with Fesic to sell off spare gear.

Jocelynn also asked about the Vargr language program and the two Vargr language translators they had in the ship's locker.  She said she wanted to learn Vargr, Mikah said she could load the Vargr training software onto the ship's computer and could have one of the two translators.  Hearing them talk, Fesic said it would be ironic if they could sell off Terin's hookah.  That first got laughs from the others, but at the same time Jocelynn said she'd claimed the hookah saying, "That's mine!"  Mikah told Fesic he couldn't sell the hookah unless he wanted to try and steal it from Jocelynn.  She also told him that if he got caught, she'd let Jocelynn practice first aid on him.

After that, they started making jokes about the left over gear labeled "Adventure World: Regina", from Munarshu's now infamous hunting trip.  They then talked about who was using what spare vacc suits, PLSS units and combat armor from the ship's spares.  That led to discussions of what was currently being used from the ship's stores.  Jocelynn had bought a vacc suit of her own which had been sold with a PLISS, but she was still taking on loan the spare set of combat armor which fit her more or less well.  That was because there would be some places where she would need armor but not be allowed to use her battledress.

At the same time, Colinne had just bought herself a vacc suit but was borrowing the spare recycling PLSS(good up to 48 hours) and had no combat armor as such.  The vacc suit would act as a suit of cloth armor, but provided no more advanced defenses.  And Sekea also had no armor, nor did he have a vacc suit.  Sekea was using a vacc suit made for someone 3 inches taller than he was.  Sekea couldn't use the left-over combat armor because it would actually be dangerous for him to try that in combat.  So, they and their crew had to consider getting them some defensive equipment before any bullets started flying.  When the chatter broke down Mikah told everyone to set an alarm for early in the morning to be ready for the training.

Getting Into Gear
     Despite setting an early alarm, Mikah woke before her clock went off.  Knowing they had a lot of work planned, Mikah simply got out of bed and started her morning routine.  She was well into her routine when Sekea also woke early and got moving.  Because of that, Mikah got into the berth lounge, hit the lights and had been waiting for the caff to fully heat up when Sekea joined her.  After greetings were exchanged, Mikah asked if Sekea knew how to cook and he said he thought he did.  Despite the low level of confidence in his answer, Mikah said, "Good!  The kitchen is all yours.  Have fun."  She then moved to sit and relax making it obvious she expected Sekea to make her breakfast.  It wasn't obvious if she cared if he cooked for himself or not?

Stepping towards the cooking space, Sekea asked what Mikah would like?  Mikah continued not being helpful, only saying, "Breakfast." with a smile on her face.  Searching through the available proteins, ingredients, small stocks of real-foods and spices or flavorings, Sekea made his choices and went to work.  His cooking skills and style were based on those of a man who'd been a member of the military, fed while on ship or deployed, but also having to do for himself when not deployed.  Admittedly, he could afford to eat out more often after his rank rose, but not exclusively.  So, he had needed to cook for himself over his life so the quality would be the question.  No matter what, Sekea did his best to keep away from the protein pastes.

While he cooked, Sekea thanked Mikah for taking his research on the Sonthert worlds into consideration.  Mikah nodded and said, "Well, yeah.  It made sense.  Thank you for doing the research."  Moving on, Sekea told Mikah he'd bought some ship deodorant items while on Arden, and Mikah suddenly came up in mock-annoyance and demanded, "What are you saying?"  Also feigning anger in her voice, Mikah kept a smirk on her face while Sekea stopped and looked at her.  Mikah continued, in a mock-stern tone, "We have lemony-freshness throughout the ship!"  Still, Mikah couldn't hold the pose and ended up laughing while that subject faded.

While they'd talked, Sekea had made the decision to cook for everyone instead of just himself and Mikah.  That way, he figured they could get fed and moving faster.  And Mikah turned on the news while he did that.  The others of the crew joined them as the news played out.

    Efate (A646930-D  B  Hi In  G  800  Im  K4 V)                            Date: 009-1114
    An announcement was released from the Imperial Naval docks operated by General Shipyards in-system today.
    Recognizing her tragic loss and the courageous efforts of various crews to save her life, a Destroyer
    Escort nearing completion will be named for the late Able Spacehand Shurgiu Khurlau.  The Spacehand was
    a gunner trapped in her turret after damage to her ship, the INS Akhaduk-Iagga(75,000 dTon Atlantic Class
    Cruiser), suffered in an accident.  The Destroyer Escort will be a Khulimi-Class, likely to be deployed
    to the continuing rebuilding of the 1594th Colonial Battle Squadron. Ā That squadron is currently assigned
    to the 213th Imperial Fleet, based in the Regina subsector.  Further data will be released once the ship
    nears her launch date.

    Rhylanor (A434934-F  2  Hi Cp  G  810 Im  M2 VI)                            Date: 346-1113
    All eyes are again on former grav biking champion Artieriana after being fired from the Carlotez racing team
    earlier in 1113.  Having barely finished near the bottom of the field in the late 1113 qualifiers, Artieriana
    managed to get signed by the Sopou racing team.  This move only came following the rider clearing all tests
    required by the Spinward Marches Grav-Biking Conference.  Artieriana now faces the extreme headwaves while
    many in the sport wonder what management in the Sopou racing team feel they are gaining from such a move?
    While every expert in the sport will admit Artieriana has the raw materials to excel, beneath the layers of
    damage his party mode caused, there is real doubt Artieriana will be able to compete even after a year or
    more of intense work.  Especially while also facing continued aging.

    Gungnir (B444779-8  Q  Ag  G  432  Sw  G3 IV  M4 VI)                            Date: 353-1113
    Dispatches arrived in-system from the Gungnir system dated 353-1113, aboard the courier ISS Kashaha Cepre.
    The dispatches said a fleet element from the Imperial Overwatch forces accompanied forces of the Gram
    system to Gungnir.  That system's government had collapsed more than a year and a half ago, leaving Imperial
    troops on-world to hold their positions with periodic reinforcements and resupply while the rest of the
    world fell to armed chaos.  That status remained little changed until arrival of this fleet.  Entering orbit,
    troops from Gram made forced landings in key locations to reclaim Gungnir governmental sites.

    During those actions, five warring native factions formed to stand against the Gram forces, but none moved
    to create a unified front.  The commander of all Gram forces, Generalmajor Jesknirkju, followed the landings
    of his forces by demanding the world's remaining leadership join a convocation to assemble a new world
    government.  Responding to this, Imperial Brigadier General Ishmimra Gamuniikim offered the Gram forces
    support and access to the world's main downport so long as their mission remained one of unification.
    Conditions on-world remain delicate, and the world's surface should still be considered a Red travel zone.
    Other locations in that system should be considered Amber zones at the very least.

    Karen (A767768-C  2  Ag Ri  A  410  Im  M7 V)                         Date: 310-1113
    Promoters Nadise, Elup and Yodcocoz have announced a planned Sector-Wide tour for the singer Ardella Mestler
    and her band.  Still controversial following the events of the singer's death and cloning, the many canceled
    law suits have been cleared and this tour promises to be a significant entertainment event.  Early information
    on the planned tour state dates included all of the subsector capitals in the spinward marches.  No word is
    yet planned on the full tour or ticket availability, and no date is set for that announcement.

    At the same time, the singer's former management and some members of her family still face legal charges.
    Following a brief investigation and some confessions, members of Ms. Mestler's former management team
    admitted to having an "on-call" clone of the singer created.  Authorities state they are certain the singer
    herself was unaware of the action, and she is not accused.  At the same time, the singer's mother and sister
    have been charged and are being tried for attempts to use Ms. Mestler's death as a chance to steal portions
    of the estate.  These charges are augmented by their actions following the certification of her cloning.

    Rhylanor (A434934-F 2 Green Hi Cap 910 M2 V6)                            Date: 346-1113
    Officers assigned to the Icetina system Imperial Naval base have been working to return ships from the 212th,
    43rd and 73rd Imperial squadrons to service after a battle which has remained shrouded in mystery.  As
    repairs ranging from minor to near catastrophic are carried out, the crews are also receiving continuing
    medical and other support services.  Admiral Sir Hensars Mondilwin, who had been assigned command of those
    forces has returned to his assignment as an aide to Fleet Admiral Khimuru Uuela.  It is understood that
    Admiral Mondilwin had been serving as commander of a Cruiser division within the fleet blockading Natoko.
    Admiral Mondilwin was then tapped to assemble a force to follow up on intelligence related to an unidentified
    fleet which had attacked Imperial blockade forces.

    Intelligence gained from captured ships, some still being escorted to Imperial bases thanks to repairs in
    custody, indicate these ships may also have been involved in a mysterious attack in the Rhylanor system.  No
    word has been given yet on the conditions of the mobile base which had supported the irregular fleet.  Further
    information indicates that intelligence gathered allowed a coordinated dispatch of fleet elements over which
    Admiral Mondilwin was granted command as they attacked the base and criminal fleet.  While this data is
    processed into the future, Word from the Natoko system continues to discuss operations to secure that main
    world's surface and the safe and healthy surrender of its population.

    With that action continuing, there has been no public word from Duchess Delphine or Duke Leonard on plans
    for rebuilding the world after the end of military actions.  While it is certain Senator Lord Kudila will be
    recognized for his work, it is also agreed it would be inappropriate to appoint him to manage rebuilding the
    world's government.  It is certain planning for financial and physical stockpiles to rebuild have been put in
    place and are proceeding.  It is also certain Duke Leonard has been considering the needs of the system when
    the appropriate time comes.  But the world is within his fief as Duke of the Rhylanor Subsector.  For that
    reason, the public would have seen any official request made from the Duke's office to the Office of Grand
    Duchess, since the Subsector Duchy is sept to Delphine's Sector-wide fief.

    Rhylanor (A434934-F 2 Green Hi Cap 910 M2 V6)                            Date: 346-1113
    A spokesbeing for the auction house Gidkhiza, Picheslal and Kiskhui have made public receipt of a so-called
    "buy out" offer of MCr 45 for an antique collection of books!  While the bidder's identity was not revealed,
    the bid does suggest the value of the collection in the minds of potential buyers.  While this story grows
    in scope, leading to the auction itself, there have not yet been any comments from either the family of Sir
    Brian Montgomery or Lady Mikah Kirlim.  It is a matter of legal record that Lady Mikah and her crew sought
    out and met with Sir Brian's surviving family to complete an agreement on the sale.  Word is expected from
    either or both in the future however the family are expected to remain in the Wypoc system at this time,
    and Lady Mikah and her crew are most recently believed to be bound for the Regina system.

Hearing the last story, Mikah groused while the rest of the crew cheered.  When asked why, Mikah said she knew the story would stir up trouble.  The only thing she could suggest was that the Montgomery's would complain they got cheated out of their money or something.  The others worried everyone would think they were all millionaires now, and the scammers would start.  Zimzod even faked a call on his comms, faking an accent and saying, "Hello!  I am Prince Nubile from the planet Nigeria!  I have wonderful offer for you!"  Hearing that, the others laughed.  Still, Emkir clapped his hands together and said, "We've got some money coming in!" with a smile.  Mikah only gave a "hmm" and then said "Don't count on it", to which Emkir said, "Rats!"

What Sekea had tried to cook was a favorite of his from his childhood and homeworld.  Of course, he did that without all the specific ingredients he'd need.  Having cooked to his tastes, Sekea thought it tasted close to what he hoped, and pretty good.  Because Mikah was in the space first, she got served first and tried the dish.  But after an uncertain forkful, Mikah was actually considering firing Rol when he got decanted!  The stuff was damn tasty!  Emkir thought it was "OK", not good or bad, and said "I could eat this.".  Jocelynn thought it was passable, while Aali made a face, pushed her plate aside and said she'd cook herself something else.  Zimzod tried a forkful of it before pushing his chair back while looking at Sekea and demanding, "What the fuck is this?  Are you tryin' to poison me?"  He left the plate there for someone else to clean up while he went to make something for himself to eat.  At the same time, Fesic thought it tasted pretty good.

Fesic suggested it might taste better with toast but was talked out of that while Emkir said "Everything tastes better with bacon."  Colinne agreed with Mikah while Aiden stated that he wasn't eating it despite agreeing it wasn't poison.  After those who would enjoyed Sekea's breakfast and the others cooked for themselves and ate, the cleanup was followed by a morning briefing from Jocelynn on what she expected from the practice drill?  That was because Mikah had put her in charge who had what jobs and it was up to her to set expectations for how they should perform.

She told them they had to organize the gear before getting into their haz-env suits, because they'd have to be able to manage the gear in their suits to start with.  Then, they'd have to load the gear and themselves into the cutter and shift themselves to the dirtside base.  The first issue they faced was that they couldn't get both the snowcat and the grav-sled into the cutter's cargo bay at the same time.  So, they realized they'd have to make multiple trips.  That again brought them to ask if they wanted to use the ship or the cutter for the work?  Since they didn't have access to the ship, Mikah said they should use the cutter and see what problems they ran into.  That way, they'd know so they could decide when they got the ship back.

While Mikah and Jocelynn discussed that issue, Sekea made certain to grab his medical kit.  Fesic grabbed that group of items he'd marked to bring with him to any world they landed on in the Sonthert system.  This included wearing executive armor under a shipsuit within his haz-env suit, his team comms, his laser rife w/ one power pack, a tool belt w/screwdriver set, socket set, and wrench set, his blade in a scabbard and his leather satchel.  That held his forward observer binoculars, 3 carabiners, 3 Cold- Light Sticks, commLink/beacon, climbing Spikes & Hammer and a flashlight.  He also had a machine-rolled 50 meter length of cord off the satchel strap.  Thanks to the bulk of the haz-env suit, securing and hanging his gear to his suit proved "entertaining".

By the time Fesic rejoined the others, Jocelynn was telling them she wanted to move the big stuff first, in as many trips as that took.  Realizing that would mean leaving their gear behind, Fesic asked who would guard it?  When he was told they wouldn't need guards on either Laurasia or Oseaan, he pointed out they might need them on the naval base.  Especially if they were leaving gear unattended.  Considering that, Jocelynn smiled, pointed at Fesic and said, "Thank you for volunteering!"  When Mikah said she'd go with him, because it was Jocelynn's operation, Sekea asked if they would be suitably armed or not?  Fesic already had his laser rifle and Mikah said she'd bring her laser pistol.  They agreed Aiden and Emkir would fly the cutter while Jocelynn traveled "down and back" with each run.

Deciding that, they turned to prepare for the first run and realized there was an issue right off.  Along with being unable to load the snow cat and grav sled at the same time, the cargo cutter door exposed the entire interior of the cutter when it opened.  That meant anyone not in a H-Env suit inside the cutter would be exposed and killed if the cargo door was opened.  So, everyone inside would have to be suited up before the hatch could be opened.  Not only that, but if they had to get someone into a controlled environment, the cutter wouldn't be safe, because it would have to be exposed for anyone to move in or out.  Checking the snowcat, they saw that vehicle had the same problem.  Only, the driver's space couldn't be sealed off so the driver and co-driver would have to be suited up too.

Crawling about in the snowcat, they saw the front cabin doors opened enough to let in people in H-env suits.  And the seats could be adjusted so suited people could sit in them.  But they could only fit five people in the back while they were both suited.  So, if they had to use the cat as medical rescue, anyone not aboard would have to walk back to the cutter in any emergency.  Accepting that, Jocelynn consulted with Mikah and they agreed to land the snow cat first.  The idea was that the H-Env suits would suffer less wear if those left on the world were in the snow cat.  It also meant the snow cat would be affected more.  Still, Mikah and Fesic geared up to ride in the cat's back while Aiden and Emkir suited up to fly them and Jocelynn suited up to ride along.

With everyone sealed up aboard the cutter, Aiden lifted from the berth and called the port for clearance.  In the air, they got a vector challenge from the base they turned towards and sent their permissions from the previous day.  Getting and checking those, the base fed Aiden an approach vector and landing data.  Seeing that as Emkir fed the landing data back to the cat, Zimzod called out, "Land me next to a fissure so I can do something fancy!"  As expected, the transit was short and they were soon able to see the closing base with their eyeballs.  Like any normal situation, those working on-base who could see the approaching cutter first checked the defensive guns.  They then listened for a klaxon before deciding this must be some "special morning entertainment" event.  So those who could wasted time standing around to watch.

After Aiden set the cutter down, things worked more or less quickly as he worked to "normalize" the cutter cargo bay.  With all furniture folded down to fit the snow cat, Zimzod was able to start maneuvering the vehicle to get space to turn while Aiden popped the cutter's cargo hatch.  Jocelynn hopped out of the cutter onto the small ice field to observe.  Turning as much as he could, Zimzod then backed up and moved forward while turning even more.  After several moves back and forth, Zimzod could turn clear of the cutter.  Pulling away, Zimzod announced the snow cat was free and rolling, so Jocelynn jumped back aboard the cutter as Aiden buttoned up the craft and lifted back to the berth for their second load.  The time factor would matter because the more time they spent on any Laurasian or Oseaanian surface, the more the environment would eat at the snowcat and any exposed H-Env suit.

Organized Chaos
     Back at the berth, Jocelynn hopped off the cutter to supervise loading all the rest of the gear onto the craft.  That included the grav-sled, because it was gear waiting at the berth, which had to be said at the time.  The sled was actually the first thing they loaded, because they could load gear on top of it.  Sadly, they found that moving the rest of the gear meant they could only get two people aboard, which meant Jocelynn and one other person.  And also meant that unloading from the ship in orbit would take three trips, as would reloading with the assumption they didn't lose any gear.  The person who rode "down" with that load was Colinne.  The good news was that she could take cover in the snow cat until the rest arrived after the last run.  That would be Jocelynn and Aali.

After landing, Jocelynn worked with Colinne to get the sled off the cutter before Jocelynn moved back to the cutter for the next trip.  She expected Colinne to move directly for the snowcat, but the woman stood there for a bit and seemed to be admiring the landscape.  What she didn't know was that Colinne was scanning the area psionically, looking for threats.  Not sensing anything beyond the curiosity of the on-lookers, she joined Mikah, Fesic and Zimzod in the snowcat.  Outside, those who worked on the base and could see were gathering to watch what looked like it might become the morning comedy show.

Playing along, when Colinne opened a door on the snowcat, Mikah pretended they were on Oseaan and started comedically yelling, "Close the door!  Close the door!"  Eventually, everyone who was meant to land was down including Emkir, who Jocelynn said was to dismount from the cutter.  At first, Jocelynn wanted to have Aiden keep the cutter down to test and see how long it would take to damage the cutter.  But, they wouldn't get any information from keeping the cutter on the surface in Denotam, so Mikah said Aiden should "return to orbit" instead.  So, after Mikah and Fesic had been down in the snowcat for ninety minutes, the entire team was "on the surface" and Aiden had returned to their berth at the port.

With the crew now organized, and some forced to stand outside the snowcat, Jocelynn said they should pretend they had a target, because they wouldn't have come down from orbit if they didn't have one.  So, they should deploy and start testing and using the densometers and cutters.  Jocelynn reminded the cutters were-crew driven devices and she'd assigned herself and Emkir to work them.  When she said they needed two people each to help, Mikah joined Jocelynn's team.  Jocelynn also wanted to try setting up the shelter, so everything had to be pulled out.  Lucky for them, everything that had been on the ship was piled onto the sled, and could be moved around by Zimzod, driving the snowcat.

With that, Jocelynn started going through the roles and finding holes in what had been planned.  Zimzod was good in the snowcat, which left her free to lead an ice cutter team.  Emkir would lead the second ice cutter team.  After they did the more basic stuff like testing and learning the densometers and ice cutters, Jocelynn wanted to do at least two "set up and break down" tests for the collapsible shelter.  That was mostly on Sekea and Aali, but they assumed there'd be people to help because that would be an emergency thing.  The portable heating unit would be dragged around with the shelter, and set up along with it.  Everyone would be broken into teams when the 2 Ice cutters had to be used to clear ice, but had other jobs so testing that couldn't be done at the same time as everything else.

The first problem that wasn't based on scheduling were the densometers.  The three densometers had been assigned to Fesic, Colinne and Aiden but Aiden was in orbit.  That meant he wasn't available to do his job.  And that was a key issue because the steps they would have to take assumed they already had a target to look for that they'd located from orbit.
    - Next, they would land and the densometer teams would move out to try and find a path to the target from their landing site
    - Only after that would they call the ice cutters in "if" they had to cut their way through obstructions.
    - After they got as close as they could to the target by just walking(or riding in/on the snowcat) they'd see if they had to do more cutting
          to get to the target?

After reaching each target, they'd search for anything worth investigating, or decide to move on to the next target?  But, without Aiden there, Jocelynn or Emkir had to step in using that densometer.  And they were losing out on Aiden's sensor skills, which Jocelynn had counted on.  So, at the very least, that plan would have to be changed if they landed on Laurasia or Oseaan.

Recognizing the hole in the densometer teams for the moment, Mikah had stepped up to join Jocelynn's ice cutter team and Aali joined Emkir's.  Before others stepped up, Emkir asked if they were actually firing up the ice cutters and using them, and was told they were.  Hearing that, he looked around the relatively flat space and asked, "On what?" in a confused tone.  Mikah snarked back at him, "The ice."  Watching from the snowcat, Zimzod joked, "Now, you see.  When Jocelynn said you were gonna pretend you had a target and practice cutting ice to get to it, she didn't tell you it was straight down.  So, you're gonna cut one hundred yards down, or until you hit the water line."  He then pantomimed a cutter hitting the water line and sinking into the ocean below while he laughed.  While he talked, Mikah added, "We need ice for cocktails." and got more laughs.

Emkir nodded but said they might not want to cut ice on the base, because the Navy types might think that was destructive.  Fesic wasn't certain what the big deal was and said, "We're only cutting ice."  Jocelynn was ready to just look for someplace close to the base's borders, Mikah asked, "Should we call before we dig?"  With that, Jocelynn decided to call base operations and get an OK on what they planned.  After being put on hold for a bit so the operator could convey their request to an officer, an admin type got on the line and asked some questions.  It was decided Jocelynn's people should hold off and they'd send someone out to inspect what they had planned, and update them so the base administration could decide.  Standing off to the side and hearing that, Fesic shook his head and mourned, "Never ask for permission.  You can always ask for forgiveness."

No one mentioned how well that would work if they ended up in a cell on the naval base for causing some random issue or simply violating what they'd been given permission to do.  Accepting that, Jocelynn told everyone to break out into teams and work with the densometers and get used to moving about in the haz-env suits while they waited.  She wanted to see how her chosen people performed and get any idea who she'd tap to replace Aiden.  While they did that, Colinne made a point of walking up close to Emkir, holding up her densometer and saying, "Nope, nothing." before turning away.  Emkir called after her, "You've got it upside down." and Colinne held the device out while moving to show it was right side up this time.

She then ignored Emkir while moving on to do something of actual value.  The comments degenerated to stupidity as Emkir tried to get back on Colinne's level and faded out while she left him behind.  It took half an hour before a pair of vehicles rolled up on that part of the base.  The people who got out of the first vehicle were officers and admin types.  Military police got out of the second vehicle.  They looked over the field and the civilians and didn't look pleased.  The senior officer there was a Lieutenant Commander, and he moved over to Jocelynn to ask questions about exactly what they intended to do?

Doing her best to explain she just wanted her people to get experience with the cutters, Jocelynn pointed out small bumps and rises in the field.  She then said, "We just want to smooth them out."  She considered promising to set up signs on the newly smooth surfaces reading, "Caution, Fresh Ice.  Don't slip." but she worried they'd actually expect the crew to do that and they didn't have those signs.  After conferring with Jocelynn for a bit more, the officer said he had enough information to take back to base command.  He then said, he'd bring that to them and get back in touch with her on permission.  The officer and his retinue then got back in their vehicle while leaving the military police to observe the situation.  That only had the effect of breaking up the bystanders and watchers a good bit.

Jocelynn was less thrilled because she wanted to get ideas on how long it would take them to do the various things they thought they might do on one of the frozen worlds.  Now, she had two sets of timings.  One for tasks they had completed or were working on, and a second for how much time they had to subtract from how long it would take because of things like this permissions delay.  So, there'd be more math to apply to get her answers than she'd wanted.  The idea had been to both get experience using the gear while they could and to get an idea how long doing things would take, so they could estimate gear endurance when they actually landed and could check out how fast damage built up?  Eventually, they got a call saying they could flatten very minor terrain deformations but no more, and the military police would stay and watch to make sure those orders were followed.

Looking about, there were a few places where an ice "stump" or other shape rose a foot or more.  So, they split into teams and started working with the ice cutters and were surprised how quickly they cut through the ice.  Given the speed they were cutting ice, Jocelynn was sure they'd make good time cutting in the hyper-arctic conditions.  Still, they did see one problem, which was that the cutters didn't show "what" they were cutting through?  That didn't matter there on Denotam because they were only cutting water-ice.  It would become important on either Oseaan or Laurasia because they'd be cutting more through exotic ice formations.  And, if they started cutting through oxygen or hydrogen ice formations, things could get bad.  Very bad.  So, they would have to stop regularly, to check the composition of ice layers they were cutting into.

Realizing that, they started talking about what they'd have to do to cut safely.  How deep they could cut before they had to stop and check the ice with a densometer before continuing on?  and, how dangerous it could be for the person with the densometer leaning into a new-cut hole.  While they talked, Emkir got a smirk on his face and called out, "Hey Colinne!"  Sadly for Emkir, she was waiting for that and only called back, "You've got a backup so you're covered." giving him permission to do the scans.  Eventually, that was the best answer unless they could tweak the ship's sensors to get more data from orbit so they could save time.

But they didn't have access to the expertise they'd need to even find out if they could do that on Denotam?  And, they had no idea where they'd have to travel to find out.  So, each jump would cost them the fuel and time spent to travel to a place until they found someplace where they could get recommendations.  And when they finally found someone to tell them how to do what he asked, they'd be weeks further away from their destination, having spent a huge amount to get there and they'd likely have to pay the experts they found a decent chunk of cash to get the answer.  And then spend the time and money returning to the Sonthert system, where they didn't even know if there was anything to find?

Done with the discussion, Mikah said, "I vote to use the densometers and have Fesic lean in and check with a lit match."  That helped break the tension and get a good many laughs.  Colinne said, "If we're volunteering people, I'm good with Emkir doing the job."  Emkir answered, "Too late, I already volunteered you since you're so good with the densometer."  Colinne smiled wider and said, "I'm good with that since the person with the densometer gets to step back while you go in with the lit match."  The laughs continued but Emkir had lost again.  Still, they got permission to cut so Jocelynn got the crew back into teams and started cutting bumps away from the ice surface of the small field.

Timing things while they worked, Jocelynn was happy with the progress being made.  She could tell the cutters were moving very quickly even in the current environment.  She could do the math even with the basic chemical reaction data on her hand computer and tell that they'd be able to cut twenty to forty meters of ice in a half hour on Laurasia or Oseaan, and still have time to get back to the snowcat and take breaks.  The only issue there is not everyone would fit inside the snowcat.  Still, her spirits were lifting.  In the meantime, the crew were trading positions so some were working the densometers and some working the ice cutters giving everyone a chance to learn each device.

The Fickle Finger Of Fate
     In between working, Emkir decided to "take a slide" on one of the newly flattened and cutter-polished spaces they had cut before.  Base personnel would later investigate and find that in the case of that spot, pressure from sliding layers of ice had pushed in such a way to bow the ice up where they had cut.  So, cutting that space flat left a very thin section of ice that only seemed to be as sturdy as the ice around it.  And the bow had created a space between the surface layer of ice and the ice below it.  That led to temperature variations under that section of ice which allowed for a crevasse to open up!

So, when Emkir went sliding, he was the first to hear a sudden crackling sound as the ice began to break beneath him!  Fesic also started to hear the sound of ice cracking and quickly looked for the source.  Sadly, most of the crew were paying attention to what they were doing and had attention-based blinders on.  That was one reason why Fesic was the only one to hear the ice breaking even though he was on the other side of the group from Emkir.  The cutters made a hum, which wouldn't cover the loud cracks but people were concentrating on what they were doing and missed them.  And Fesic was too far away from Emkir to help as the Admiral went down through the ice and disappeared into a hole screaming!  And Emkir's screams were suddenly cut short.

The result was that Fesic was able to call out just before Emkir went down, but that even made things worse because it caused some members of the crew to turn away from Emkir.  Of course, everyone turned to where Emkir was and most only saw the hole through which he'd dropped.  When he felt himself dropping, Emkir had grabbed for the ice around him, or the sides of the hole into which he fell, but didn't get a hold on anything until he slammed into the bottom of the pit.  Both the pain from his sudden injuries and the impact combined to knock Emkir cold as his body lay on the floor of the pit.

Even after he called out, Fesic was riveted to the spot and became more worried about where he might step and what would happen?  Still, he did pull his satchel off and start digging into it to find the climbing spikes and hammer before he also detached the loop of cord he had from his satchel.  Except for Jocelynn and Zimzod, who was in the snowcat's cab and only knew "something had happened" but not what, everyone else took at least one step towards where Emkir dropped before Jocelynn commanded: "Nobody move!  I know from experience that the closer you get to a crevasse, the edges are very precarious and can collapse."  That was because she'd grown up on an ice and snow covered world, and learned that rushing the edge of a collapse was likely to send people in when the hole widened.

Being one of the furthest people from the hole, Fesic started to hammer a spike into the ground so he could comfortably move closer to the hole where Emkir disappeared while the others had each taken a step or two towards the hole before Jocelynn's warning order.  Still, what happened to Emkir meant the all the ice around him could be unstable, so Fesic drove his spike in right where he was standing and tested it before doing anything else.  Coming out of the shock of the moment, Sekea pulled his med-kit off his harness and got it ready to be used.

Aali had been bending down to slide towards the hole on her belly, to see what she could of Emkir's fall when Jocelynn's order froze her.  Now her will was warring against the sense Jocelynn's words carried.  Seeing that, Jocelynn told Aali to hold until they knew they could do something safely.  While Jocelynn made her decisions, Fesic drove a spike in where he'd stopped moving, which was about thirty meters from the hole itself.  He then secured an end to himself and started to carefully move towards the hole.  When Jocelynn saw what Fesic was doing, she told everyone else to wait until Fesic could move up and assess the situation.

Colinne asked if they should call Aiden in, with the cutter, and Jocelynn told her to do that.  So, Aiden got the call and lifted while getting clearance from the port.  Hearing all that, Zimzod had put things together and said he wanted to pull the snowcat around to use as an anchor for Fesic's cord.  But that had already been tied to a spike in the ice while Fesic moved forward.  When almost everyone warned him not to get in too close, Fesic said Zimzod should follow him because he had a rope and could test the ground.  Fesic told them the length of his cord was limited, then said he could lead Zimzod in and go back to untie the cord from the spike to then tie it to the cat.

Zimzod got moving when Jocelynn approved Fesic's idea, and Fesic moved up to the hole and looked down while Zimzod moved the cat into position.  Looking down, Fesic saw the hole Emkir had fallen into was no more than twenty or twenty five feet deep.  Emkir lay at the bottom, limbs akimbo with spots around him where the snow was turning red.  Fesic considered going down, but was still recovering from wounds himself.  So, when he paused, and with Mikah just arriving, she said she'd go down.  Taking the cord from Fesic, Mikah made sure her med-kit was accessible and lowered herself into the fall.

Aiden was just approaching the field when Mikah reached Emkir and saw he was in bad shape.  From what she saw without moving him, Mikah could see Emkir was alive but had two compound fractures and was bleeding from those and other wounds.  Mikah also saw the plates of his haz-env suit had broken in such a way that a length of it had turned and cut into his gut, slicing into his diaphragm.  Even worse, she could see he was bleeding out and she had very little time to do anything.  Seeing that, Mikah called out of the hole to get the security police officers to get an ambulance on scene STAT!  Having realized "something" had happened, the military police were already on the comms with their people and reacted as soon as Jocelynn called over to them.

The officers nodded and one of them gave Jocelynn a thumbs up sign and she told Mikah they were on it.  In the hole, Mikah saw that she would have to start cutting his haz-env suit away before she could treat him.  That made things worse because it would delay her actually treating him.  The one thing she could do was spread a hydrophilic polymer powder to slow or stop the bleeding where she could target breaks in the skin.  Still, she had to find the major bleeders before she could do anything to slow them and save Emkir.  The other option was taking a brief bit of time to pull her hand-scanner and see if she could ID the important injuries more directly?

Grabbing her scanner, Mikah spent some time holding and slowly moving her scanner over Emkir until she saw the worst bleeder was a major artery passing through the abdomen, along with major cuts into his digestive organs.  That meant that no matter what happened next, there would be a lot of concern regarding infection and other septic issues.  Securing her scanner, Mikah then got to work clearing the damaged suit and clothing from those parts of Emkir she had to work on.  There were four broken bones, two of which were compound fractures, which she didn't have to worry about then and there.  What she needed to work on "now" was his abdomen.  And, all along, Emkir was weakening to the point Mikah was sure he would die and have to be resuscitated.

Another critical issue was that Emkir's breathing had been interrupted due to punctures of the thorax when the diaphragm was cut.  So, Mikah pulled a breather unit strapped to her med-kit and then set to intubating him so she could get air into his system.  She'd then have to both get to the major bleeders while also getting blood into Emkir to carry oxygen to his damaged body.  To make matters worse, she heard Sekea calling down to her asking if she needed help?  She was too busy to deal with that and only snarled, "Don't bother me with questions.  If you have skills, just jump down here and start helping."

To accentuate that, Mikah's diagnostics alarmed, telling her Emkir had died.  That meant she could only work to repair his body.  Then, they could get it to the hospital and see if they could resuscitate him?  That changed her work path though, because she now had to clear the haz-env breastplate and connect up a unit which would use electric pulses to keep the heart beating artificially.  Like CPR of old, this was a higher tech solution.  Done with that, Mikah had to get to the abdominal bleeders as soon as she could.  She'd then deal with where she was getting replacement whole plasma from?  Still having no time for explanations, Mikah screamed for someone to get her whole blood while she worked.

Lucky for Mikah, the base was experienced in this sort of rescue, and two hover boards were being moved in with medical support.  Two emergency surgeons "hung" from first board in harnesses, while the second board carried two med-techs and supplies as well as a backboard onto which they would shift the injured person once they were stable.  When they arrived and automated pullies let them lower themselves into the hole, they got direction from Mikah and started working.  The med-techs started providing things as demanded and soon they had Emkir's body as patched as they could while in the hole.  Mikah's cortical stimulator had Emkir's heart pumping and they'd connected IV's to feed whole plasma into the body.

To clear the space, Aiden had landed the cutter and Jocelynn decided that standing around doing nothing wasn't gonna happen.  She ordered everyone to start loading gear onto the cutter to move back to the berth.  She said, "We're done." in a very disgusted tone, and made it clear to everyone the day's practice session was over.  Work continued in the hole until Mikah and the others agreed they were ready to move Emkir's body to the hospital and try to resuscitate him.  Despite that, the two surgeons agreed with Mikah it wasn't likely they could get Emkir back.  His body was very badly damaged and he'd been out and without oxygen for some time.

After getting Emkir on a backboard and air-lifting him to medical services, the MP's came over and said the injured person was being moved to medical services and asked if anyone there was related to him?  Aali stepped up and said she was, and they asked her relationship with the injured?  When she said she was his wife, they gave her a ride in their vehicle while Jocelynn supervised loading as much as they could onto the cutter.  After the medical team left, Jocelynn and Aiden knew it would again take multiple trips to get all the gear and people back to the port berth.  Like their first arrival, it took between an hour and ninety minutes for the crew to get all their gear back to the berth and settled.  With everything back in the berth, Jocelynn tried to call Mikah and got no answer, which wasn't a surprise.

When she called Aali, the engineer told her there was no answer yet about Emkir's condition.  So, the crew set to cleaning up the gear as best they could while waiting for any update.  That came after another hour and a half, after Mikah had updated Aali.  Mikah then called all of the crew to let them all know they couldn't resuscitate Emkir.  So, he was dead.  While Mikah called the others, Aali had asked for a few minutes of silence with Emkir's body.  After she stepped into the surgical room, a base chaplain stepped up close, to offer any support they could provide.  He waited there quiet and respectfully while she mourned.

Like everyone else, Mikah was going through the events in her mind while sitting exhausted after the morning's events and waiting for Aali.  And, Of course, her comms started going off!  Growling in futility, she answered to find it was Arch Duke Norris.  With some concern, he asked what happened because he'd gotten an alert that something had happened on the base and involving her crew.  Realizing who was calling, Mikah greeted Norris and explained the series of events to him to the best she understood them.  Silent at first, the Arch Duke's expression showed shock.  After schooling his expression, Norris said, "Well, we were planning a memorial for Sir Terin, and now it will be a memorial for Sir Emkir too."  Mikah nodded, and could see the man was honestly saddened.

Hearing his words, Mikah answered, "Yes, Sir" and then Norris asked about Aali's condition.  Mikah admitted Aali was saying her goodbyes to Emkir at the moment and Mikah said she didn't think they'd know how Aali was doing for the days to come.  Norris nodded and said that was to be expected.  He did ask Mikah to let him know when she thought it might be appropriate for him to come and deliver his condolences.  Mikah said she would and thanked Norris before he thanked her and cut the line.  While Mikah was working and wrapping up at the base hospital, Jocelynn had decided she would no longer lead the mission to Sonthert.  Indeed, given the events that happened after Sekea provided his research, some of the crew doubted the need to consider visiting Laurasia or Oseaan at all.  So, they could rely on safer conditions if they only planned to visit Mynbou.

Those were the sentiments of the crew when Mikah called to update them on how events had worked out at the hospital.  When Jocelynn told Mikah she'd had everyone pack up the gear and all moved back to the berth Mikah told her to have Aiden fly her to the hospital.  Jocelynn confirmed Mikah only wanted her and then nodded.  After that call, Mikah called Sekea and told him to prepare a low berth aboard the ship to hold Emkir's body.  Still, while Sekea said he did, Mikah realized they would likely have the funeral and bury Emkir on that world.  And, the hospital would likely do them a favor and keep Emkir in stasis until they chose to have the funeral.

In the treatment room, Aali leaned down and gave Emkir's lifeless face a big fat kiss.  After that, Aali spoke with the chaplain, who said the base command had already said they would provide whatever Aali needed in support or services.  Nodding, Aali only stepped into the chaplain's embrace and cried.  Mikah waited for Aiden and Jocelynn to arrive before turning to see what was happening with Aali.  By that time, Aali had collected herself and greeted Mikah and the others.  She was ready to thank everyone who'd helped try to save Emkir.  Aali then told Mikah she wanted to spend some time just working in the ship's engineering and working with the 'droids while she processed things.  Mikah agreed with that and figured they could get Aali a ride to the shipyard.

Mikah also told Aali the Arch Duke had called and wanted to give his condolences.  And, she said when Aali was ready, he wanted to visit with her and to hold a memorial.  Mikah was also up front that would be a memorial for both Terin and Emkir.  Aali nodded and said that would make sense since Norris had officiated at their wedding.  Still, Aali was OK with the plan for a funeral but she still wanted to go have some time working on the ship.  Nodding, Mikah said she'd call Norris and let him know Aali wanted to leave soon for the naval base and the ship.

When Mikah made the call, Norris nodded his understanding and said he could drop what he was doing and meet them right away.  That was a surprise, and the end of their short wait was heralded by the arrival of a number of the base command staff officers.  Shortly after that, an honor guard arrived was soon followed by a craft setting down outside the buildings, a very long distance from any authorized landing pad.  When the craft was down and secure, both Arch Duke Norris and Prince Lucan arrived.  They were preceded and followed by a crew shooting vid for the event because there were always such teams traveling with Royalty.

Things were assembled quickly after Norris stepped up to Aali and gave her his private condolences.  He told Aali he was saddened by Emkir's loss and considered him a valued officer and Knight.  Then, the cameras were in position and the lights on, and Norris stepped up to say, "Greetings Imperial citizens.  We come to you at this sad time to memorialize two servants of the Imperium who have passed from this life to become stars in our skies.  One, born to the fame and passion of a well known toy maker and the other raised to nobility through service in combat.  Showing by example, the benefits of serving the Imperium through military action, government service or through the work of private lives, these two men defended your lives and your families.

Norris then launched into a description of the many works Emkir had carried out in his life.  His father, the Baron, had to be mentioned but Norris worked with words to keep that man and Emkir's mother in the background as his words commended Emkir's many works.  And Norris even went on to suggest the scientific work which took Sir Emkir would have possibly eclipsed his military service.  Norris then transitioned to discussing Terin's military honors and then went on to mention several points where his work supported the many things Lady Mikah's crew had done.  Which he then said also included Sir Emkir.

After Norris stepped back, the Prince stepped up and admitted he'd only recently arrived from the core and barely knew each man from their heroic histories.  Still, he did mentioned that he'd been there while they, as part of Lady Mikah's crew, had engaged Ine Givar terrorists and even saved the life of Duchess Seldrian herself!  He continued that life in service of the Imperium was known to sometimes have its perils, and this time those rose to claim two heroes.  Prince Lucan also mentioned Sir Emkir's role in command when put into less than stellar situations, showing someone had coached Lucan on Emkir's past.  As was to be expected, the last parts of the Prince's statement turned into a sort of PSA for service to the Imperium, but recovered well while he lauded Dame Aali and delivered his condolences and a promise of support.

IISS Bleeding bannerAfter the comments, the honor guard commander stepped up to give the Prince a packet, which Prince Lucan then gave to Aali.  That held the triangle of a folded Imperial banner with an Imperial Starburst in the orange, used for IISS.  That also had a drop of blood issuing from the Starburst.  That alteration of the banner indicated a Hero of the service.  Aali clutched the banner to her chest and bowed in honor to the Prince and Arch Duke.  The Prince nodded to her saying, "I thank you for your husband's service and I thank you for your continued service."  With the event over, Norris and Prince Lucan made sure Aali knew support was available should she need it and assured Aali they would be available when she was ready for Emkir's funeral.  After that, they both pled affairs of state and the Arch Duke and Prince left.

Where everyone is at the end of the session:
     Aali: On her way to the naval station to work on the ship
     Rol: 8 Weeks, 4 Days from Decanting
     Everyone Else: In the berth after Emkir's memorial

Next: Politics And Pleasantries