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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in RingoSciFi's LiveJournal:

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Friday, May 6th, 2005
10:55 am
Thursday, April 21st, 2005
9:02 pm
Raven Simone sat and stretched. It had been far too long since she spent this much time in an EV suit, and it was driving her crazy. She had a little itch on the back of her head where the jack met the edge of her braided hair, and she had an incredible urge to take her shoes off. The gunner's seat was a tight fit in the base of the turret on the upper side of the Mephisto, and she felt like she was a part of the ship when she was here. The neural jack fed the targeting information into her head, and her mind saw the curved blue arcs of maximum range pushing out into the space above the ship. The no-fire plane of the ship's hull streched away from her perspective in grey, and the other ships on sensor tracked overhead in light red. Working the Security Force on the Mars kibbutz had not given her much opportunity to stay comfortable on shipboard weapons, but even this fact didn't persuade Colonel Goldman when he asked her to take this assignment.

"Tac 1 to Tac 2" The voice of Jimmy Simonov rang in her commlink.
"Tac 2, go."
"How you making out up there?" he asked. "Not bad, but I have a question for you." She asked, but wasn't really sure if she really had the standing to ask her new superior a question. "Go ahead, fire away" he responded, the hint of the question hanging on his voice. "On every other ship I've served on, the senior Tac took the number one turret. Why are you in the belly turret?"

There was a pause, and then he said "This turret is my baby. I built it, and I'm manning it."

He didn't say anything else, and so she attributed it to what the security community had called the Simonov Sphinx Complex. If Jimmy didn't want to talk about it, he probably wouldn't. She reached over and tapped the small ship's information display and pulled up the stats for turret 2. Two pulse lasers, and a chain gun. The autocannon was from a Marine APC, and was not the usual issue for a ship, even one with ESRA credentials.

Somehow, she was beginning to wonder if this was such a good assignment after all.
Wednesday, April 20th, 2005
3:51 pm
Long absent: Yahr pohreee.
"rrrrrlp, huh chuff. ffffffrrrrk-k chuff."

Eight sets of amber eyes stared into the holoprojector tube. The display painted the star system that human eyes would recognize as Alpha Centauri, planets swirling. Two trajectories formed in the nearly fluid display, one green and moving out of the system, and a purple line that ended in an expanding red cloud.

"HAH! rrrrrlp prrrrrl ka srrrrrrl-ak," dark fingers reached up and indicated the purple and the cloud of red where it terminated.

Seven other dark, amber-eyed shapes chorused, "rrrrrpl. YI!"

The larger of the shapes turned away from the hologram, and waved a hand in the air.

"Hreee, rrrrrpl-neh geh prrrrrl," it called out to another dark figure that was curved over another holographic display panel.

In the main tube, the focus of the image changed in response to the command, enlarging the red cloud. It was easy for the observers to make out the hard edged debris. They were even able to make out the remains of their comrades, dead from decompression in the vacuum of space. The eight observers turned away from the display, lowered their heads, and chorused together.

"grrhuh rrrral ka fffff-ffffheh."

Their chorus was soft and respectful. Individual grieving could be dealt with later, in the privacy of their individual chambers, but the group form could not be ignored. Nor could it wait. An entire vessel of their comrades had met their deaths so very far away from home.

There was one order to give, beyond any doubt or question. Telemetry, scans, and faster than light imaging would not provide the answers that were needed. Why did they die? What happened?

The Leader reached up and rubbed the ridge above its amber eyes, and turned to the left. A young, too young, face turned to meet its eyes.

"Sorh, rrrral geh srrrrrroh-hyie yahr."

A simple order. "Sorh, plot a course for the ship to that location."

"Rheehya, chuff. Yahr-gehffffffr." Yes, Captain. Course plotted.

"Sorh, sharrrrrrr-yahr," Sorh, execute jump. To itself, the leader murmured,"grrhuh yhar pohree."

God bless Vessel 53.
Friday, August 6th, 2004
2:49 pm
A Priest and a Rabbi have some whiskey...
Riordan leaned back in the chair with a sigh that began in his shoes and exploded into the tense atmosphere of his cabin. It was no wonder then that five of the major religions on the planet had representation on the mission. Not one of them was less than a multiple PhD. All and all, he felt that they were good choices...But to leave the solar system and find life elsewhere. That was his greatest dream, and his most terrible nightmare rolled into a tight little ball in the pit of his stomach.

"What do you need me to do?"

"Well," the Rabbi began," I'd like you to head up Xeno-Linguistics. There will be civilian components, as well as military on the team."

"Damn Andy, that's a fucking tall order."

Kaminski shook ran his fingers through his bushy beard, and gave it a couple of tugs. Not to mention a silent prayer that he wasn't leading friends on some sort of damned fool idealistic crusade, like so many had before him.

"Yusef El-Khouri will be on your team. I thought a familiar face would be an asset, no to mention the fact that he's a linguistic prodigy."

"My Lord! He dropped off the face of the Earth six years ago. He was the brightest student I ever had. How in the hell did you dig him up?"

Andy chuckled. "I didn't have to. He was on the crew committment from ESRA. Knowing the both of you, I knew he had to be on your team."

"Thank you. I was always impressed with him, and his paper on the language homogenization phenomenon was brilliant," Riordan sat back up in the chair and took the last swig from his snifter,"We might have a chance to communicate if the rest of the team is half as good as he is."

"You," Andy pointed his finger at Ken's nose,"are not any slouch yourself!"

"That remains to be seen, Andy."

The Rabbi's face pinched, "You'll never believe your press, will you?"

Father Riordan laughed wryly, "No, I prefer my well-known humility, you old goat. So, I guess that the mission is pretty large."

"Always, you change the subject when it comes to you," he laughed, "and in answer to your question; Yes. The Magellan is the largest ship that man has ever built. The population compliment is likely to exceed 4,000 people."

"FOUR THOUSAND? My God! How bid is this thing?"

"The ship? Ah. Well, she's about 3 centimeters shy of 2 kilometers long."

Incredulous, "Andy. That's not possible. We don't have the technology to power something like that. Besides, the trip will take close to 3 years."

"No, believe me, we've built it. It has been tested, and using the new drive system, the voyage there will take about a month. The Engineers call it Transition Drive," he looked across the table at his colleague, who had started to sweat ever so slightly, "We can do this, Ken. We are going to do this. We have to do it."

"I. I am speachless."

"You are Irish, from Brooklyn! You'll never be speachless! Now, be a good Man of the Cloth, and pour me another whiskey."
Wednesday, August 4th, 2004
10:55 pm
Monday, August 2nd, 2004
3:15 pm
Post dinner, Constellation
Father Riordan leaned back in the multifunction chair opposite Rabbi Kaminski. The remains of dinner rested on the table before them, and they shared generous snifters of whiskey. Conversation with dinner had been satisfying, even if the meal had been ordinary.

The Rabbi looked into his glass, inhaling the aroma of Red Breast Whisky, Riordan's favorite. He looked back up and said, "They found more than planets at Alpha Centauri."

"I had figured as much, when the UN had Pontiff Riccardo recall me from the parish in Chicago. What sealed it for me was when I found out that the Centauri Mission was to be both civilian and military, jointly."

"Did this piss off your wife as much as I suspect it did?"

"Ana is," he took a swig from his glass, "noticably annoyed with me. I'm 'irresponsible', or so she says."

The Rabbi looked at his friend from across the table and shook his head ruefully. In his mind, this sort of thing was the precise reason that he remained a bachelor. If the winds blew one way, he'd be free to follow them. Not much to do but take a drink.

"I'm sorry to hear that. I read that she was nominated to take your place. Won't that give her something to occupy herself until we return?"

"Probably, but that doesn't stop her from being angry that I'm taking time away from the e-fam."

"Ah, the American Catholic Extended Family! So, who got added since I talked to you last year?"

Riordan grinned, and ran a hand through his salt and pepper hair. American Catholicism was only 153 years old, and it was often difficult to explain the plural marriage concept to someone that practiced a different faith. On that score, he was quite lucky, since Andy Kaminski was often ridiculed for being a little too "bon vivant" for most of the Jewish world.

He was quite the favorite of the press, was Andy, with his winning manner and expansive theology. Ken was often startled with the sheer numbers of lovers that made their way to Andy, and were as often turned away. Who knew that Jewish theologians could get laid?

"Tamara and Michael split off from us in December. They started an efam in Seattle-Portland. Nan is new. I think you'd like her, she's a librarian."

"Oh!" Andy set down his glass to clap with glee. "I love librarians! Still waters run deep, and all that! Sexy, is she?"

"I could go on."

"Tell me everything! I want to scandalize my mother with your stories."

"Not until you tell me what else they found at Centauri. You did a wonderful job of leading me off track, but I'm not that easily led." Ken grinned, and sipped from his glass.

"No, you aren't...Unless she's a librarian," the Rabbi sighed and continued, "They found wreckage in orbit of Proxima. Alien, of course."

"I thought that the Probe focussed on the immediate Centauri A/B part of the system. Was there a second probe?"

"If you count an independent AI and a secondary, isolated, sensor package on the Orion."

"Damn. We're not alone."

"No. But then, we've never been. That's the secret behind the Magellan mission, and why all 5 of us are here."

"Magellan mission, Andy? Just what is going on?"

"We're all going to Centauri. There's a ship waiting at Charon. You may as well know, since I requested you specifically."

Incredulous, "Requested me?"

"Yes. I was one of the architects of the mission plan, and as of now, I'm giving you security clearance. We're going to need you and your linguistics background."
Wednesday, July 28th, 2004
11:38 pm
Promise Station, again
James Ivanovich Simonov stood amongst the piles of crates in the vehicle bay and shook his head. It was a mess, and since much of the mess was an inheritance from his predecessor on the crew it had become his problem. His official job title was Tactical Officer, and it entailed shipboard security as well as being the lead ship’s gunner but he had much more on his plate that that. The boss had left him with the task of loadmaster and purser, and he attacked the job with his usual single-minded focus. He found more ration packs, ammo for the gauss rifles, parts for the ship’s drive units, and trash. Jimmy tossed the things bound for the garbage into a packing crate next to the floor lift. It reminded him of working on the farm at home, all the hours spent with his family working crops out of the red Georgia clay.

10 minutes later, and the landscape was tidy and organized. Jimmy slid into his vacc suit and depressurized the vehicle bay. The ramp angled down to the landing pad, and he walked down to the flat textured surface with a crate in each hand. He walked the crates over to the garbage pickup area behind the flight line.


Jimmy involuntarily reached for his comm link and hit the back of his helmet.

“Mephisto, this is Brian Boru. Package on deck. Bon Chance.”

He walked across the landing pad underneath the Mephisto just in time to see a long gray transit box drop onto the cargo pad in front of the ship. He raised his head in time to watch the Brian Boru arc upwards towards the outbound transit limits, then turned his attention to the transit box. The Boru had been a military assault freighter before being seconded to ESRA, so it went to figure the cargo drop wouldn't take long. He laughed to himself that the pod delivery tended to look like a manta ray shitting a cracker box. Jimmy moved to the box and punched in the standard ESRA cargo code. This activated the control panel and the on-board pallet jack, and with a practiced turn of the hand reeled out the control box. The repulsors whined to life and the box lifted off the deck an inch or so. Jimmy walked the box backward towards the vehicle ramp and stopped just short of the ramps end. He turned the controls on the box and the cargo pod touched down with a thud he felt through his vacc suit.

"So what did Santa bring us?"
Jimmy turned and saw the red and black helmet of Chuck McNabb hanging down from the interior of the Mephisto.
"Dunno boss, but I'm fixin' to crack the seal. Wanna come look?"
Chuck grabbed the lip of the bay and flipped over onto the floor of the landing bay. Jimmy opened the seal on the pod and swung the door open. The pod was stacked to the ceiling with smaller packing crates.
"Haysoose Marimba boss. There's more crap in here than at a Fleet yard sale."

Chuck eyed the stack of boxes and started rambling off nomenclatures. There was survival gear for every combination of environments that the slugs at Ops could come up with...Cold, hot, dry, wet, toxic, corrosive, vacuum...they at least had thought that much out. Jimmy began pulling off the boxes and made a line that ran back towards the engines. Chuck walked along the line of boxes, making notes to himself on his handcomp when he noticed that Jimmy had disappeared inside the pod.

"Hot damn!"

Chuck looked up and saw what his Tac was so excited about. A long flat gray and black wedge rolled out of the pod and sat idling on 6 large all terrain tires. The driver's hatch popped open and Chuck could see the excitement on Jimmy's face through the visor of his helmet.

"It's a Piranha. Guess the wonks back home figured wheels were gonna be better than grav sleds. 6 wheel drive, room for 8, almost enough spares to build another one, and its armored. They even painted it in the official team colors."

Chuck snorted. Like some little green man would give a shit one way or another. The crew hatch on the back of the ATV dropped to the ground and Jimmy bounded out.

"If you're through playing now, we need to get this stuff in the ship so we can get on the road."

“I know, I know...tote that barge, lift that bale.”


They worked for a little less than an hour, and the vehicle bay was still tidy when they finished, although now it was packed tight with equipment. With the door shut and the pressure back on, the air took on the stuffy smell of reprocessed shipboard life support.. Chuck had gone forward after ditching his vacc suit, leaving Jimmy alone to finish up. He stood on the back of the ATV, his flight suit unzipped to the waist, sweating and straining to secure the last of the crates in the overhead racks. One more thing, he thought, and this will be right. Jimmy went to the nose of the ATV, and pulled out a piece of chalk from his pocket.

“Let’s see what the translator says when the aliens ask what ‘Bad to the Bone’ means...”
Tuesday, July 27th, 2004
9:50 am
Journal of the 23rd Eccumenical Conference on Space Travel, 2352

Excerpt from the keynote address of Rabbi Andrezi Kaminski.

My Brothers and Sisters in Spirit, we have stood on the edge of space and felt the emptiness staring back at us. Throughout human history, we have populated that emptiness with all manner of mythological beings. The stars themselves, in their changing constellations, have been icons of those folktales.

We have yet to repopulate those same stars with new myths that reflect the age of our species. Science has replaced that with theories, proof, data, and increasingly greater understanding.

For instance, the data that we have now received from the Orion Probe that was sent to Alpha Centauri, 8 years ago. There are planets there, where once their was only folklore, legends, and questions.

We have discovered, with empirical data, that Alpha Centauri 2 is shrouded by a Nitrogen-Oxygen atmosphere that greatly resembles the air that we breathe. We also know that the second planet has two great oceans, rivers, mountains, and what may be forests. Yet in the excitement of these discoveries, there is also a mingled sadness.

You see? Here is a world where life could have evolved, and yet it is empty. A gift from God, to be sure, that we might eventually ease our population pressures by emigrating to that world.

Although, the sadness remains.

We are alone. Still. We have no one to share our experience with but ourselves. There are no other intelligent beings with whom we can search new stars, and discover by interaction what it means to be Human.

When I was asked to address this august body of spiritual people, they asked me to speak to the hope that we are yet not alone in the universe. I was pleased, and greatly honored to do this. Now, I stand before you to share my hope that we may yet have siblings in the family of God.

Walk with me in your imaginations, to a place where we have been blessed to discover our cosmic brothers and sisters. How marvelous they are in their differences from us! What a marvel of biology they are! See what beautiful things they make, and how complex their thoughts!

How then, should we meet them?

If we were to discover that God has other children, I would say that we should greet them with open hearts. We should rejoice in the brotherhood that has been given us. The olive branch of peace should be foremost in our hearts.

We should meet them as we are, a multicultural species, a multilingual species; male and female, we should greet them. Let our new found family see us in all our facets, from the homeliest streetsweeper to the greatest of our people.

Allow them to view our humility and delight in our strength.

Let us see them in the same way...
Monday, July 26th, 2004
9:31 pm
March 17th, Charon Ship Yard. 1600 hrs.
Excerpt from Charon Ship Yard primary engine test...

[ Engineering. Torus spin-up active on all units. Colliders and fusion engines are go.]

"Time to full power, Engineering?"

[ Engineering here. We're green across the board for Transition systems, and we're at full power.]

Bridge. Captain's compliments to the Crew. The Transition Drive will activate in 60 seconds. Take hold. Take hold. Short Transition. 30 minute travel time. 30 minute layover at stationkeeping, then return.

-Navigation confirms coordinates set.-

"Lieutenant, transit on my order...Now."


Transmission ends

Charon Com, this is Magellan Com. Transition successful. Holding at stationkeeping for 30 minute minimum power reclamation. Do you read us?

Charon Com, we read you Magellan. That was quite a light show you put on for us. They've probably seen that in system.

News spreads fast, Charon Com. We've completed minimum power reclamation and will return before you receive this message. Charon Com, out.

"Transition on my mark. Mark."


Transmission ends

"Thank you ladies and gentlemen for this uneventful little voyage. Shift rotation in 25, off shift head out and grab some chow. We will cycle in this fashion for the next 4 days until the Constellation arrives. Com, hail Charon Station on Transition Completion. I'll be in my office."

Yes Sir.
Sunday, July 25th, 2004
10:02 pm
What's a Single Girl to Do!


"Damn, Evyn, that is the third time you have won in a row!  You shouldn't be allowed to participate anymore!"

"Freeze it, Jean-Luc.  I showed all of you how to throw the wine lees from your cups at the plantyx.  It's not my fault you're a lousy tosser."

"Bitch!"  Jean-Luc throws his cup to the floor and storms off in a hissy fit.  Pussy.  Not much of a drinker to begin with, for a damn frog.

Still waiting for the Constellation to arrive, I began fermenting  rehydrated grape juice with yeast from the galley.  I've even begun some interesting "Tang" wine using that old NASA staple. After three months of sitting around, I had a decent enough vintage that wouldn't cause too much of a hangover, tasted pleasant enough for that shit Jean-Luc to drink and not bitch excessively, and would help make my time on this hellhole of a space station pass amusingly.  The rules for drinking are fairly lenient for a U.N.E.Ss. Hopefully this will continue on the Constellation.

"Evyn".  Damn that little girl voice!  Why not a a real woman, or a sexy sounding guy? 

"Yes Eve?"

"Transmission from the Constellation on your personal com."

"Thank you Eve.  Folks, it's been fun taking your money.  Puhleeze, practice, wouldja?"

"No problem, Evyn.  Ignore Jean-Luc.  He's been here the longest, and he's hornier than goat. He's just angry he didn't win you."

"Heh, like THAT was ever a possibility for him! You know I wouldn't let that happen."

"Well, don't goad him Evyn.  He may end up on the Constellation after all"

"I'll keep that in mind, Stavros.  Gimme a hug, you wild Greek!  MWAH, love ya!"

"Love you too, Evyn.  Just be careful."

Down the corridor, I see where Jean-Luc has smacked his fist against a wall.  Bandejo.

Into my quarters, I obtained a bottle of cool water from my personal food/drink unit and walked up to my com.  I placed my finger on the reader.

"Com opened to...Dr. Evyn Atrabiades.  Security Level 3 communication from the Constellation.  Please give your Security Level 3 access code."

"Riker 9/11slash54omega"

"Access granted, Dr. Atrabiades"

"Dr. Atrabiades.  This is Personnel Officer Wick-Pithham from the United Nations Earth Alliance. The finalized copy of the personnel files for each member of the U.N.E.S. Constellation has been downloaded to your Security Level 3 folder.  You will notice that there is a substitution in two of the positions.  Genetic Engineering has provided you with a complete genomic readout for both crew members, and cloned samples of tissues and cells have been provided for one of them.  The other crewmember was unavailable at the time for samples to be collected for cloning. It will be your responsibility to do so upon his arrival.  Genetic Engineering is very pleased with all of your attention to detail with the rest of the crews biological material.  We are positive that you will be able to obtain and clone samples of the final crew member.  Good luck. Personnel Officer Wick-Pithham out."

Good luck?  What in the frell did that mean?  I quickly accessed the latest files from my S3 folder and scanned for the latest additions.

Shit. Shit, shit, shit! Not him - anyone but him! Evyn ran her hand through her red hair and slumped into her com chair. 

"It's just not fair.  Not fair at all!"

Current Mood: amused
1:21 am
Promise Station, 2
Hatsume Morimoto pushed back from the engineering console and stared at the low graygreen ceiling of the drive compartment. Her eyes traced the seam in the panel to its terminus into the air duct over her head, thoughts racing around in her head. She had known Chuck since entry school, and had been on his flight crew for 4 years. The tone of his voice told her that this was not one of the usual assignments. She went over the panel again, made several small adjustments to some of the settings and stood upright. The braided ponytail swished across her back as she did so and she unconsciously brushed the hair off of the comlink behind her ear.

“Active link.” The tinny little girl voice in her head said ‘Intership active’
“Down in the vehicle bay. Ain’t you gone yet? Boss‘ll be expectin’ you to be gone.”
“You heard?”
“Not like you two went private link or anything.”
“Stay put.”

Hatsume opened the hatch to the access tube and headed to the vehicle bay. The tube ran through the fuel tank that occupied what had been the front section of the cargo bay to another hatch above the vehicle bay. The Mephisto hadn’t carried any ground transport for a long time, since she had been on extended picket duty, so the bay had been filled with extra rations, junk, trash, workout equipment, and Chuck’s bullet trap. Hatsume stood on the catwalk that connected the aft of the ship with the crew area and stared down at the figure rummaging through a open shipping box. He was humming as he tossed items out of the crate into two separate boxes, and followed one toss with a dark gobbet of tobacco spit. Hatsume cleared her throat, and he turned slowly towards the sound.
“You know Chuck will raise mortal hell if you spit on the floor.”
“Ain’t missed yet. Any of this crap yours?”
“Doubt it.”
“Aight. I checked the rest of the staterooms, and we’re clear for 3 more bodies. Gonna move the rest of the usable stuff into the locker, and what don’t fit will go in number 8 berth. Figgered we may be getting some wheels, so I’m playing maid. Some of this junk ain’t see light of day since our last maintenance.”
“See you forward”
Hatsume crossed the catwalk and continued forward to the crew’s dayroom. She laughed to herself that technically, as engineer, the ship’s housekeeping was her responsibility but Jimmy had an tidy streak that just would not be denied. She ducked into her stateroom, grabbed her around town bag and headed down the docking tube to the flight ops hallway. The station was alive with its normal flurry of activity, people coming and going, cargoes being loaded, unloaded, and transferred. She crossed the concourse and headed towards restaurant row. Hatsume was of a mind that she would not be getting much take-out for a while.

Chuck McNabb sat at his desk, staring intently at the report on the flatscreen panel. He had already arranged to get the fuel topped off and the rations replenished, but there were more pressing issues on his mind. The orders were explicit as to mission and expectations, but he fretted over equipment. They had discussed first contact plans for years and years, about environment suits and protective gear, about translation, and the myriad of things that new worlds would force on human beings so far from home. ESRA was not a military organization on it’s face, but they had the cache of the government also. Would the civilians rule out weaponry on board? Would the military insist on it? Chuck checked the current loadout and he knew they had enough conventional stuff to go around, but would they need more? He pulled the gauss pistol out of his shoulder holster and laid it on the desk. Kinetic is enough for us, but who knows what is out there? His thoughts ground to a stop when the tinny little girl voice in his head said ‘External’.

“Mephisto command.”
“Be advised, Brian Boru inbound with a package for you, ETA 20.”

Chuck thought to himself, just like Christmas before getting sent to boarding school.

Current Mood: anxious
Friday, July 23rd, 2004
1:18 pm
Personnel Dock; UNSS Delta. March 15th, 1600hrs.
"So, what is a nice Priest like you doing on a cruise like this?"

Dark hazel eyes crinkled in mirth, and a smile split Father Ken Riordan's face as he turned to see an old friend rolling his luggage cart along. He spread his arms and waved the other man in for a bear hug.

"Rabbi Kaminski, you old Dog! Hug me!"

They patted one another on the back, and then separated at arm's length to study one another's faces.

"They didn't tell me when I signed up that they we're letting meshugga Irishmen on this flight," the Rabbi said, grinning from behind his prodigious mustache.

"Damn it, Andy. It's been what? Fifteen years since that last conference?"

"Yes. At least that. Come on, we don't want to lose our place in this ridiculous line." Kaminski grabbed his friend by the elbow, and they trundled their carts back into the lengthy line.

"So? Is this a missionary trip, or did some congregation manage to meet your salary," the priest said with a smile.

"No. No. I got tapped for something else out at Pluto. Apparently, there's a large enough Jewish population to merit the UN calling me back to duty."

"You too?"

Andy Kaminski turned back to his old friend, and searched his face for an answer. "Don't pull my artificial leg, Ken. You're not going to Charon, are you?"

"Aye. I am. So is Wakayama-sensei, Xing Zhong Huen, and Yasser Al Haj from the Reform Islamic Party."

"You don't say?" The Rabbi shook his head in wonder.

"It sounds like the beginnings of a bad joke to me. An American Catholic Priest, a Rabbi, a Muslim, a Buddhist, and a Taoist walk into a space ship..."

"I tell you one thing, Ken. This had better not be a joke. The punchline is too huge."

Father Riordan looked upward into the scaffolding and frowned at the holographic boarding display. No assignment yet.

"I don't know Andy, but I pray to God that good things are afoot. D'you want to have dinner later, once the ship is undocked?"

"As long as it isn't kosher vat proteins, I will be there. Please tell me that you brought a bottle or two of something?"

Riordan belly laughed and replied, "Three cases. I had them load it yesterday."

"There is a God."
Monday, July 19th, 2004
9:47 am
Promise Station, outside Mars orbit

The ‘Mephisto’ swung in a lazy arc towards the docking platform at the hub of the station. It was a wholly unremarkable ship, and the crew worked hard to keep it that way. She had started life as a packet freighter, one of a very popular style used for a variety of cargoes, but that was before she was purchased by ESRA. The passenger staterooms and cargo bays gave way to fuel, electronics, and drive bays. The most remarkable and obvious feature that the ship was not a mere freighter now was the weaponry she carried, but even that was not much of a give away with the tensions in the colonies.

Chuck McNabb crossed the crew platform to the small office ESRA maintained next to the station’s flight operations center and walked in. The room was unoccupied, and Chuck tossed his flight gear into the large chair next to his desk. He sat down heavily behind his desk and stuck his handcomp into its cradle. The rest of his crew was still on-board finishing up the post flight checks and dumping the data for transfer to the analysts. He expected that the next job was going to be much of the same, more secret squirrel crap against the PRC or the Russian Confed. The message he got from the Chief of Operations was more cryptic than normal...

TO: Senior Operations Pilot McNabb

Stand by for sealed orders, team enroute.

Chuck got up and walked to the office mailbox. The package was small, wrapped in the official tamper proof wrapping. He sat back at the desk and opened it, removing the flat gray box from the envelope. Shit. This was serious. Chuck pressed his thumb into the biometric lock on the box, and it slid open to reveal a linear data crystal. He lifted it from the box and held it up to the light between thumb and forefinger, then pulled the datajack out of his pocket. He plugged the jack into the contact behind his left ear and felt the familiar yet disquieting twinge as the information package inserted itself into his cerebellum.....schematics, briefings, dossiers. This was either going to be the biggest mission of his career, or a death sentence.

“Intership.” The tinny little girl voice in his head said ‘Active’
“Hatsume, you busy?”
“Finishing up the post-flights on the jumpdrive. What’s up?”
“Finish up, go do whatever errands you need to and get back to the ship. We’re leaving.”
There was a pause, and the sound of a heavy sigh.
“How long?”
“We need to be ready to roll as soon as the rest of the crew gets in.”

“We’re going to Pluto.”
9:46 am
The military forces...

The major divisions are Earth Fleet and the Colonial Fleet. Earth Fleet has control of the space inside of the asteroid belt, the Colonial Fleet has control of the space out to Thule Station (the station outside Pluto). The Fleet is divided into Naval, Planetary, and Marine Force. The Planetary Force handles anything inside the atmosphere, i.e. ‘wet’ navy, army, and air force. The Marines handle shipboard security, station security, and provide a ground strike force for the fleet. Earth Fleet is generally viewed as a ‘plum’ assignment.

The Earth Space Reconnaissance Authority (ESRA) is a UN agency that works like a combination of the CIA, NSA, and NOAA. They handle the mapping, monitoring, and surveillance ‘out system’ and fill in the gaps the Fleet Patrol squadrons may leave. ESRA also gives intel briefs to the UN Security Council. They maintain a fleet of conventional ships as well as a number of ‘Grey ops’ ships that operate much like the old Soviet Union’s spy trawlers.
Thursday, July 15th, 2004
1:24 pm
Charon Station, March 16
Excerpt from Charon Ship Yard primary weapon test...

[ Engineering. Torus spin-up active on 1. Initiated on 2, 3, and 4.]

"Cannon Control, this is Ops. Charging status?"

Cannon Control, Bridge. Charge at 50%. What is the aperture setting for test?

"Aperture is 80. Target data from Tactical in 35 seconds. Mark."

[Engineering, here. We have complete spin-up on all Toruses. Cannon registers a 40% drain on total power allowances. Status nominal and within projected range.]

Cannon. Tactical data received. Locked at 18.325/18.325/50. Charge at 75%

"Thank you Cannon Control. Firing data to Tactical. Firing will occur at 100% charge. Orders to follow."

{This is Tactical. Target established, locked. We can fire on your order Bridge.}

Cannon Control. We report 100%. Fire at will.

"Tactical, this is the Captain. You have my order to fire the weapon."


"This is the Captain. Departments report."

[ Engineering, status nominal. ]

Cannon, here. Status nominal. Recharge rate stable at 5% per minute.

{Tactical reporting, target destroyed. Minimal atomic-size debris field remains.}

"Scratch one five klick long asteroid. Well done, people."

Excerpt ends....
5:56 am
U.N.E.S. Despatch center, Lowell Station, Lagrange 1, Lightside Lunar orbit. 1312 Zulu/GMT 14, March 2367

"Well, it only took them seven months, I suppose that's something". Vigdis Augustdottir, tall, even by Icelandic standards, stood re-reading the transmission just received from Prague via the L-4 station. "send this over to the Constellation and ask Mr. Applin to triple check Prague's navigation plots and launch windows please, then cc it to the Dept. heads and ask them to be ready for complete pre-flight at 2130. The communications clerk, made the requested notations as the tall, blonde but not overly attractive woman, the civilian Director of the United Nations first manned mission to another solar system, exited the room. "I'll be damned" she muttered to herself, "we're actually going to do this!"...

Current Mood: blah
Tuesday, July 13th, 2004
10:27 am
Constellation Cybernetics Lab: March 13, 2367; part 4
"Frankly, Major, I've never understood why you never went with a full torso prosthesis. Integrated cybernetics are much easier to maintain, and you never have to take them off."

The Major, turned back to face the creator of his latest set of arms, and let the contact points and interface junctions settle.

"Akira, I'm fond of what little humanity that my disabilities afford me," he frowned,"and if I hadn't really cared I'd have opted for a full body prosthesis."

"Hmmm. That would be a fine piece of work. Well, at any rate, how do they feel?"

The arms shifted at his sides, flexed, and he felt the fingers splay. He raised the arms over his head, bent the elbows, and reached behind his back.

"The range of motion is impressive. For a set that hasn't been worn in, the actuation is smooth. You've really outdone yourself, Akira."

Dr. Shiro grinned like a little boy, and said "Target."

To their far left, past the racks of equipment and assembly units, a holographic bullseye appeared. With no further comment, Major Carter raised his right arm, and waited for instructions.

"Say 'HUD' Major," Shiro continued. "Select weapon of choice, and or power level. Then think about firing a EP pistol. In fact, try the EPW first. Say, level 10."

"Right. HUD."

Somewhere in the back of Major Carter's brain, something said *Hi there!* A heads up display appeared in his field of view. Weapons systems, arachnosilk, non-combat, systems status, and preferences.
The weapons system icon blinked and another menu replaced the first.

EPW. Hand to hand. Stun. Flechette. Sniper. He selected EPW, and then power level 10. A ring snapped up from beneath the surface of the forearm. It reminded him of the ring around the hulls of most starships that houses fusion units or particle colliders.

"Fire it." Dr. Shiro directed.

Targeting crosshairs appeared in the Major's mind, found the target, and he mentally squeezed the "trigger". With a jolt, and the massive crackle of an electrical plasma weapon, his arm fired.

The bullseye disappeared, and a smoking pit appeared in the far wall behind it.

"Mmmm. Bingo! Now, it's already 1245, and I believe you have a meeting at 1300 with Special Tactics, Major. You had better get going."

"What do I do now? That's no time to work out with this new chassis."

"Don't worry about it, the AI will work you through the systems later. Just leave your old set here, and I'll do the 2,000 hour check up in the morning. Oh, and don't forget to put your shirt back on...You might need to cut the sleeves off until you can get a new size."

The Major pulled his tunic back over his head, and had to smile at how the new arms stretched the fibers of the uniform. He nodded to his old friend, and headed for the bulkhead door.
Monday, July 12th, 2004
11:19 am
Not part of the story!!!
At our leersome feeders behest I am posting some of the bajillion ideas I have for where this story might go. Abandon all hopeCollapse )

Current Mood: dorky
Friday, July 9th, 2004
2:54 pm
Constellation Cybernetics Lab: March 13, 2367; part 3
Dr. Shiro reached into the null-g, and gently pulled the chassis free. As usual, the null-g held on to every last portion of the cybernetic anatomy until it was totally free and limp in the Doctor's arms. For just a moment, he stood, holding his creation and smiling down into it's empty interface ports.

Turning around, he requested that the Major, "Turn your back to me please, and squat just a little bit." He shifted the exoskeleton until he held it under the arms, and gently pulled outward against their tension.

There was a mechanical sigh, and the gap between the sections expanded enough that he was able to wrap the pectoral sheathing around the expectant Major Carter like a shawl. The unit sensed the Major's body heat and rapidly collapsed to fit tightly over his form. Unseen probes reached out from the arms' cybernetic systems into the ports in the remains of his shoulders.

The Doctor stepped back, and let the exo-spine drape down across his back. It reacted as well, smoothing itself against the Major's back, and reaching around him with the hip belt. The ends of the belt quietly adjusted and clicked into place.

"Are you sure that it's only a 10 kilo difference," the Major asked, turning around.

"Alright, it might be closer to 15."
10:22 am
Constellation Cybernetics Lab: March 13, 2367; part 2
"Alright," Akira began,"with the typical cybernetic limbs, your primary prosthesis (for example), there is no integral pectoral or scapular support."

He pointed at the chestplate and rotated the chassis to show the rear of the prosthesis, where more supports could be seen. It was obivious that chest and shoulderblades were the least of the revised features.
Dangling between the "shoulders" of the unit was a long reinforced spine that terminated in a second, thinner harness where someone might wear a belt.

"I also added spinal reinforcements, and a secondary harness below. That will allow your body to adjust from the center of gravity outward." Akira nodded, flapping his loose goggles.

Major Carter couldn't help but smile at Dr. Shiro's excitement. He'd always felt that the love of detail said more about a craftsperson than the amount of work they produced. Shiro was such a man. People often joked that he could disassemble and reassemble anything robotic using spit and a toenail clipping.

"I imagine that it weighs a bit more than my normal set of arms."

"Yessss. About 10 kilos more. I cut the weight as much as I could, but ordinance and power systems couldn't be sacrificed."

The Major's eyes widened, and an eyebrow quirked in query.

"Oh," the Doctor returned his look,"no one told you about the additions?"


"Ah. Well, you have dual flechette weapons in the forearms. Here," he pointed at the rotating hologram of the schematics,"there is a stunner, and over here,"another point at the charts,"you've got an onboard EPW."

"They're making me into a walking anti-personnel carrier?"

"Not really. The force shield in this isn't that large, and the combat recharge units are much smaller."

Shiro Akira was also a literalist. The Major simply shook his head, and looked at the sleek blue and red creation that he'd be wearing while on duty after the Constellation's changeover. Weapons packages, force shield, combat grade rechargers. He had to wonder if it came with a knife somewhere.

"Akira! You mean to tell me that there aren't any onboard blades?!" He joked.

The Doctor waved a hand across a button on the assembly pad control panel and ten blades snapped into position on the fingertips. He turned back to regard Major Carter, and smiled.

"Monomolecular carbon blades good enough for you?"

Incredulous, Carter stared at the light flickering through the transparent fingernails of the prosthesis. "Fine," he absentmindedly replied.

"Shall we put it on then?"
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