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  #21  
Old April 9th, 2018, 12:58 AM
Orr Orr is offline
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Originally Posted by doomhunk View Post
It hasn't failed... it's just been delayed by a four-year stretch in clink. (evil grin)

That's even better!
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  #22  
Old April 9th, 2018, 04:14 PM
doomhunk doomhunk is offline
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Default Don't think about the Interview

Sue-lin woke up sweating.

She reached for the unit, fumbling about in the sheets until she found it. Dialling the environment down, she took a long pull on the water tube and held the seal open, letting a few drops onto her face.

She'd been dreaming about home again.

Cyan had been an idyllic backdrop to her youth. She closed her eyes and sank back into the sheets, her hand clenching at the memory of her dog lead. Walking the dogs in the forest back home. That's what her dream always was. She could see them, tongues hanging, tensing and leaping for sticks. Impatiently barking for more. Leaping about in the water below as she stood throwing sticks down to them. Fighting each other over the sticks until each broke off a piece and paraded about in the water, triumphant.

It seemed so real in the dream, but it was so long ago, as if it were somebody else's life, or a vid she had watched.

Had she been happy?

The person that she had once been seemed happy in her dream. Was it a happy time? She wanted to go back there sometimes, just to see. If she went back there, would it be a happy time again?

Back then, the forest was logical. It made sense. It stretched for as far as she could see, had wanted to see. She could walk for hours in it and not meet another. Just insects, animals, birds. Nature had seemed like the universe back then.

She couldn't remember when it was that she decided to try for the Academy. The idea of going off into space, flying around in the Great Black. That summer, failing to get into Academy and watching friends head off into the Navy. More walking the dogs in the forest, but this time looking up, up into the sky and wondering where they were now.

Night-time walks were the best. The dogs wearing glowcollars, her with her headtorch turned off and neck craned to look up at the stars. Seeing ships go back and forth. Wondering where they could be headed, out there in that half-circle of darkness.

Then one day returning home, a message on the vidphone. The Academy. An opening had come up - not the Navy, no - some Auxiliary position. Would she be interested? A name, a number to call. But call soon, the recruiter would be heading offworld within one cycle.

The office had been sparse, rented. The recruiter was brief, direct. Sue-lin recalled a freckled face in the warm light from the porthole sunset.

"We can place you with a reputable company - Arkesh Spacers. They need a trainee - you come with recommendations from your college. And," the freckled face nodded in approval, "a recommendation from one of our Naval Officers at the Academy."

Sue-lin had frowned, wondering who this might be. "But, I don't know anyone at the-"

"Hari Durkheim. He mentioned you by name, in fact. Said that you showed promise."

"Hari? Wow. He and I, we used to-"

"Fly single-seaters in the upper atmosphere. Pretty well too, from the reports in this file. The Spacers are offering you a position on the Seagram. Unless you've got something better going on," those knowing eyes looked around, then back to Sue-lin, "I'd take this if I were you." She sat back, closing the folder. Pushed it over to Sue-lin. "Have a look. I'll give you ten minutes. Sign then, or not, as you wish."

Sue-lin looked through the crisp e-ink file as the woman took a call on her vidphone. Hari had done well for himself since he and Sue-lin had said their tearful goodbyes two summers ago. Commendations in basic training, fast-tracked to an officer rank. About to take up his first commission on the Allamu, one of the newer Kinunir class Navy ships. She felt pride for him, and that he had remembered her in this way. Thanks to him, she could sign and head to the stars after all. She pictured him, looking fine in his Naval uniform. She might follow in his footsteps. She might see him again.

Sue-lin smiled. "Where do I sign?"

She blinked. Back in the present, now. She looked around the room, at the bunk, the vidscreen, and the lone shelf with a framed holo of her parents on it. Had it been a happy time back in the forests of Cyan? She looked at the half-eaten cartons of food from the night before. Or possibly the night before that. She looked at the wall, with its display of stars mimicking a window.

Had she been happy, once? Was she happy now?

And what in the stars was she going to do if she screwed up the interview tomorrow?
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  #23  
Old April 10th, 2018, 08:46 PM
doomhunk doomhunk is offline
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Default Interview Room 101: Part One

Interview Room 101: Part One

Somewhere along the approach to Berengaria Main, the planet itself had started to acquire detail, and gradually a small speck appeared in a high orbit around it. At first small and unimposing, the speck grew gradually and imperceptibly until Sue-lin looked out of the screens once more and it almost filled them up.

"We will be docking at BT Orbital in approximately ten minutes." A mechanical voice, no attempt at more than the basic human inflections and tonality.

Sue-lin pulled her sac closer to her and tried to think about what questions they might have in store for her.

An hour later, emerging from Visitor Control, Sue-lin looked around for an obvious place to freshen up and get ready. Before she could, a uniformed official, with youthful hair but plastic surgery scars not quite faded, approached smiling and began to shake Sue-lin's hand. "Welcome to the Barraccai Technum Orbital Station," he said without letting go of her hand. "Johnson Weber, Deputy Factor, Barraccai Technum, at your service. There's a short cut through the marketplace to where your interviews will be held." And when she looked at him frowning he replied, "The usual medical, psych evaluation, and main interview. Why, will you want to freshen up first? I'm sure that can be arranged. Come, let's get you there before the jump-lag kicks in."



The interview room was empty apart from a table, two chairs, and a medical unit with wires and pads. It reminded Sue-lin too much of her cell back on the Cyan hulk. Hopefully she would not have to wait in here alone for long.

On the desk were some written instructions, with an annotated diagram. Following them, she took off her outer clothing and applied the pads to her skin in the positions indicated.

She was deep in thought when the door opened, and a man entered, closing the door behind him and taking a seat opposite without offering her his hand, a drink, or any pleasantries at all.

"Sue-lin Huawei." His voice was deep, authoritative. He wore a monocle in one eye. Sue-lin found herself concentrating on that detail.

"Yes Sir."

"42 years of age, raised on Cyan, formerly employed by Arkesh Spacers, later of McClellan Factors. Pilot." He raised his eyes to look at her.

Sue-lin nodded. "That's right Sir. 20 years experience as a Pilot and related expertise."

"I see. You saw action in the last Frontier War."

"Yes Sir. Pretty much my first mission out of training."

He looked her straight in the eye. "Keep talking."

Sue-lin cleared her throat. "I was 18. I'd completed training on Cyan and was shipping out to my first commission with the Spacers on the Seagram. I'd done well in training and I was going in as a commissioned Crew. We were on our first jump out of Bantral, headed for the Foederate. We came out of jump and almost immediately went on full alert battlestations. We were being lit up by two Outworld Coalition destroyers. They hailed us, relayed the declaration of war, then ordered us stand to and prepare to be boarded, else they'd loose their missiles on us."

He nodded, his face impassive, with perhaps a hint of a smile in his eyes. "Continue."

"We went evasive. Our Captain was old man Rogenos and he-"

He raised an eyebrow at her hesitation. "Go on."

"If you'll pardon me Sir, Captain Rogenos, he wouldn't take shit from the Emperor himself."

"You survived that encounter."

"Yes Sir."

"And earned a promotion."

"I did OK for myself. I was getting more Pilot experience and it was doing me a lot of good."


"I also understand from your records that you've flown a Leviathan Class Merchant Cruiser several times before?"

"Sir, yes Sir."

"You were on the Amuar in '90, '93 and '94. You started out as 2nd Pilot and on your last mission you were Pilot Acting 1st Officer." He looked up from the notes in her file, regarding her over his monocle with one eyebrow raised. "And you were the Pilot 1st Officer on the shakedown flights of the Shoji in '96. Then you took her out on her first mission, which resulted in a trade deal with the Senlis Foederate and your employers."

"That is correct, Sir."

"Impressive. We're certainly fortunate to have a former Leviathan pilot applying for this post." He seemed to say this without any hint of irony or sarcasm, which Sue-lin noted as she relaxed a little.



He looked through another page in the file, running his finger down several columns as if looking for something. "Our records also indicate that your financial situation is particularly dire."

"Well, I wouldn't say-"

"I would. I would say that owing just shy of Cr100,000 split between three subsector banking institutions is exactly that: dire." When Sue-lin did not reply, he continued. "In fact, since your employment with McClellan Factors was abruptly terminated in 1102, you haven't officially earned any taxable income at all."

"There was my pension-"

"Pension?" He scoffed. "Where have you been living these last four years, that you can survive on that meagre pension?"

Sue-lin swallowed. "I've been back home on Cyan," she began, "my parents are getting old and-"

He nodded. "You're lucky to still have them."

Sue-lin waited for him to press for more details, wondering how she might answer without alerting the monitors that she was lying.

(cont. in Interview Room 101: Part Two)
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  #24  
Old April 10th, 2018, 08:47 PM
doomhunk doomhunk is offline
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Default Interview Room 101: Part Two

Interview Room 101: Part Two

He made some notes in the file, letting her feel detached, as though the interview was almost over. Then he cleared his throat. "I have only three more questions."

Sue-lin nodded.

"Firstly, why did you leave the Arkesh Spacers?"

"I lost a friend on the Allamu. It made me rethink things."

"What kinds of things?"

"I didn't want to be running around just trading and raiding with no purpose. I wanted to know that I was doing something that would make a difference."

"So you joined McClellan Factors to make a difference?"

"They had a post going on a mission into systems we'd lost as a result of the War. I had done a good stint with the Spacers but it was time for me to move on. I got in on this mission and we spent a few years winning the old worlds back around. It felt good."

"Second question. If that felt good, then why did you leave McClellan Factors?"

"It was good. We spent a few years helping free some populations from enemy influences. Then we got sent back out to interfere with enemy efforts when they tried to reassert themselves."

"Interfere?"

"Trade war stuff. We had a letter of marque from the Duke himself to follow any merchant shipping we suspected of supplying Zhodani sympathisers. We were to follow them, gather intelligence on what they were shipping and to whom, and then we were free to move in and take as much of it as we wanted to."

"You still haven't told me why you left, though."

"I haven't? I guess not. I suppose after almost twenty years I was bound to rub someone up the wrong way and it hurt my career."

"Your bio-readings are indicating that this is a stressful topic."

Sue-lin glanced at the pads on her skin. "It was."

"Was? Or is?"

Sue-lin shook her head, her mind filling up with images from the past. "I'm still angry with someone about it, if that's what you mean."

"Someone who still works for McClellan?"

"Yeah. Shoot, yeah. Look, it was personal. They blamed me for their brother's death in the War. They said..."

"What did they say? And why should you care, after all these years?"

"She said that his death was my fault. That if I hadn't broken our engagement, he wouldn't have run off to join the Navy. That he'd still be alive."

"How do you feel about that?"

"It's bullshit, obviously. It always was though."

"But you care about what she thinks?"

"No. I cared about him. Hari Durkheim. I loved him."

"Part of you thinks that she was right?"

"I wish he was still here. I wish I'd known back then just how much I loved him. I wish I hadn't been scared to admit it to myself, to him."

"Would you like a tissue?"

"Thanks."

"What about McClellan Factors? How do you feel about them?"

"McClellan? They hung me out to dry quicker than laundry. I loved the crews I served with. Well, most of them. But the company can go screw itself. I have no love for that company, if that's what you are asking."

"And finally, why did you leave Cyan?"

"That's easy. Once my buddies started heading off to the Academy, I started wanting to get out into the universe.I began to feel cooped up-"

"My apologies," he smiled. "I meant, why did you leave Cyan most recently? To come here?"

Sue-lin regarded him, trying to look casual. Did he know?

"Same reason," she said. "I began to feel cooped up."

He looked at her for slightly longer than she was expecting.

"If we offered you a position on this mission, it would solve your financial problems in one go. A successful trade mission would even set you up well on a percentage." He eyed her, sucking his teeth. Leaning forwards, so that his eyes were only a few inches away from hers, he inhaled, then exhaled. "But I want to hear it from you. Why are you here, applying for Pilot on a Barraccai Technum mission into the Outrim Void? Hmm?"

"I can't deny that I need the money Sir," Sue-lin sighed internally as she felt forced to admit this. But they knew, so why hide it? "But it's not about the money. That's not why I'm here."

"So... why are you here? Oh, and you can dispense with the formalities. Although I quite like it, "he smiled, "you don't have to call me 'Sir'. Now, tell me more about why you are here."

"I want to get back out there. I've spent most of my life out there in the Outrim, it's my second home. And I loved flying the Leviathans. Much more than the Seagram or the Corvettes. When I heard about this post it brought back a lot of memories. And when I inquired about the mission, well, I had to apply. I'm still relatively young. I've got a lot left in me. The chance to get out there for another six months, to see those worlds again..."

"You want to see if everything you did before has made any difference?"

"Yes Sir. I need to see it with my own eyes."

He paused for a moment, as if listening to a voice in his earpiece. Then he nodded, closed the file, and offered his hand.

"Welcome to the crew 1st Officer Huawei," he smiled. "Your medical and psych evaluations were 96% and 97% respectively. Report to Room 309 to sign the forms and receive your accreditations."

"Thank you Sir," Sue-lin spoke, realising that her mouth was dry. "Just one more question. When do I get to meet the rest of the crew?"
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  #25  
Old April 12th, 2018, 08:45 PM
doomhunk doomhunk is offline
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Default Sub-Plots

I've been thinking about a few sub-plots to bubble along under the main storyline of 'Explore The Unknown'.

1. The Ship Is A Character. This is Leviathan, after all. The first ship laid down back in 1086. 30 years old. All manner of rattles, hums and foibles these days. The 'new car' smell and that tight transmission all vaporised decades ago. Even though maintenance and repair has meant that part for part it's almost a completely new ship, it isn't. Things don't quite click together like they did on the first flight in 1090. Several crew have some lengthy superstitions that they have to complete before certain actions such as entering Jump, or during Jump, or before launching a ship's boat etc. One lower deckhand swears that the ship is haunted by the ghost of a past crewmember who met an untimely end. (Once upon a time I flew Virgin Atlantic to New York. Halfway across Greenland loads of things went wrong with the plane - no water (it all froze), no fine controls (they all iced up), erratic electronics etc. We all got given complimentary alcohol as an apology for there being no water, and we got wipes and anti-bac cream for washing our hands without water. The stewardess helpfully told me that she wasn't surprised, Virgin had purchased this and several of the other original Boeings from British Airways and they were all over 25 years old. When we got to New York we had to descend below 10,000 feet and fly loops in the bay for about 25 minutes until all the frozen flaps and trims defrosted and worked again. Later I chatted to a pilot who said that the biggest problem they had with those planes was metal fatigue...)

2. Defector or Defective? A mid-level Zhodani scientist wants to defect. She is currently on a scientific expedition in the Egyrn subsector but will try to escape her colleagues and will make the player characters help her if necessary using psionics. The Zhodani will label her as mentally defective once they learn of her actions, and order her recapture for reeducation (or elimination, if he has secrets they wish to keep secret).

3. Second Fiddle. A McClellan Factors Leviathan class vessel, the Shoji, is on an almost identical mission to Leviathan's planned mission, but is a month or two ahead. Player characters will repeatedly discover that the Shoji has passed through and on occasions beaten the Leviathan to it. The Shoji is carrying cargo consisting primarily of weapons, parts and ammunition.

4. McClellan Means Mercs. A faction of governmemt on Kaldemar/Egyrn(0401) has hired mercs to chase off McClellan Factors representatives after losing patience with McClellan Factors' cavalier trading methods. McClellan Factors are responding by hiring on several merc cadres to change the minds of several governments in several systems. If they are allowed to get away with this, MClellan Factors could make a serious push against the Baraccai Technum and force them into retreat in this subsector. The player characters could find themselves on the wrong end of the persuasion stick from a variety of merc cadres on a variety of target planets and systems.


I'd like to get some different opinions on what might actually be going on for each of these subplots. Or any ideas that spring from these seeds. I might try to keep the actual 'truth' unfinalised until certain trigger events or until I absolutely have to pin them down, just to keep it more interesting for me.
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  #26  
Old April 12th, 2018, 09:08 PM
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Hey there. Firstly, great scene writing!

On the sub-plots, I like 1 and 4 the best. Developing the ship as a character is a great plot - I really enjoyed that aspect of Battlestar Galactica. And who doesn't like a bit of military adventuring?
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Old April 13th, 2018, 12:52 AM
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Quote:
1. The Ship Is A Character.
as a setting device this sounds great to a referee, but most games revolve around action and character decisions, so in practice players find this sort of thing to be little more than noise. one way to make it part of the game action is at some point to include some kind of "haunting" or bug hunt on the darkened decks, making the characters have to distinguish between the threat, the ship, and their overwrought imaginations.

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2. Defector or Defective?
both of course, and this could make 1 into a good backdrop.

Quote:
3. Second Fiddle.
again as a setting device this sounds good, but in practice it's merely annoying.

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4. McClellan Means Mercs.
the mercs may get their own ideas about who owns and controls the region. after all, THEY are the boots on the ground, not mcclellen.
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