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Old January 2nd, 2016, 05:58 PM
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On the attic deck he popped the hatch to the gunnery station. Brand new, never been used, he knew nothing about it and apparently had no-one on the crew who did. Unlikely they would need it, but strange for it not to play a role. He started to step back and realized they could fill the station with food packet supplies. Just pile them in. He grinned as he dogged the hatch. "Food for peace. Feed the aliens. Nutrition not nukes."

On the corridor section aft was a general locker. Right now it had the usual general ship's supplies but they would have to stuff it tighter. He stepped through the aftmost hatch and found an expedition locker full of groundside equipment and beyond that the remains of the garage. No room for an airraft now, the expanded fuel tank had encroached on the space too much. Make a nice cargo bin, or there was enough room for two grav bikes.

He preferred the bikes. Would come in handy. Probably could persuade the crew. He remembered the Porozlo vid "Grav Rave" and James Stark DeVault looping on the river embankment cuts. For years afterwards lots of kids got concussions and broken arms trying to duplicate that. Yeah, lot of fun, probably could persuade them.

He undogged the garage sliding hatch and slid it into the overhead, stepping to the edge outside. Always a little strange to breech hull protocol. He glanced up at the blue sky. Sad to fly out of that. Leave a perfectly good place just to fly somewhere else that might not be as good ....

"Ach, pretty boy with pretty uniform!"

And here she is. Looking back down he saw Helga. Big girl, very big girl, olive drab mission coveralls, a duffel bag on each shoulder and an equipment case in each hand. "Well hello dainty flower!" he grinned.

She smiled hugely. "'Dainty flower'! I like! I throw my bags to you?"

"No! No," he said, holding up his hands in half-joking negation. "Just get a loading ramp and put it over the forward airlock, we have some more stuff coming including all the food."

"Yes." She strode easily with her load to the bow, dropped all of it, and marched rapidly towards a nearby ramp vehicle.

Adam glanced over at Natasha and the yard supervisor. They were in the calibration van, standing in the middle of a very complex holographic projection of the ship's bow internals, moving the virtual components around trying to balance some consideration or other. He could see the depicted EM fields and orientations, and the math associated with each one, rolling all around them as they altered one parameter and then another. Natasha looked concerned, the yard supervisor looked like he was waiting for her to realize the obvious. Adam had no clue how they followed all the unseen interactions. He could comprehend the calculations for piloting a physical ship - mostly, he had graduated near the bottom of his flight academy - and that was about it. He slapped the ship's hull. "You I understand." He mounted the fantail ladder, slid down to the tarmac, and walked back towards the forward access.

Helga drove up with the ramp, in one motion lurching to a halt and deploying the ramp with smooth practice, stepping out without checking the alignment. Adam could tell it would line up with the airlock hatch well enough.

"Want some help?"

"You spoil your uniform! I can carry."

"Actually I was thinking of the loading ramp capacity. Spread the weight a little more evenly?"

She looked concerned. "I am fat?" She posed theatrically glancing over her shoulder at her rear. "What think you?"

Actually there was nothing overweight about her, she was just the most substantial woman Adam had ever seen. He grinned, "You're fine, let's get your gear aboard." He picked up the equipment cases, losing his balance slightly over one of them. "Is this your gun? And ammo? And a lot of it?" What was it with Lunions and autopistols? They loved the things.

She hoisted her duffle bags and started easily up the ramp. "Yes. And I use it last mission too. Perhaps that is why they send me to alien school. I learn to talk and wave hands and make faces instead of shoot!"

"I'm sure you're equally effective with both."

"Hah! You make funny!"

Glancing down the airlock hatch first, she tossed her bags in and gracefully mounted the ladder to slide down. Adam carefully handed the equipment cases to her, and she moved off with her gear to pick a cabin.

"Chief Laseiag," he called down, pronouncing it clearly, "is aboard. I want everyone to meet soon, maybe a few minutes."

"Yes," from out of sight.

He picked up the disposal bag from earlier and threw it down to the base of the ramp, and looked towards the calibration van. Natasha was approaching rapidly. He also saw a cargo mover with all his gear, and some other items, moving towards the loading ramp. Shaping up.

He strode down the ramp to his navigator. Walking up she announced, "This ship is not meant for J3."

"No, I suppose it's not." He looked it over as he recalled his training. She was right. "But it's what we have and it's what we're driving. Did you resolve the alignment issue?"

"No. Either align full jump accuracy and accept communications reduced by 57% or align full communications and accept jump accuracy at level 2 standards." Clearly she was unhappy with either option. Didn't sound good to Adam either.

"You're the one who's been to communications school, aren't you," Adam asked.

"Yes. Which alignment will you require?"

Nav Academy, Comm School, pilot qual, and EMT qual? She looked a little young for all that. There was a story here, but it could wait for jump time. "You are the expert in both of those fields, so you decide and I will accept your decision."

"But you are mission lead!"

"Yes, but not subject matter lead. Decide."

She put her hands on her hips and looked to one side. Cute pose, but it was clear she loathed both choices.

The cargo mover arrived. "Here, while you think about it, help me move all this stuff. Up the ramp, let's go." He shooed her towards the gear, and they started moving it up the ramp. She seemed used to physical labor - finding she lacked the muscle strength to lift one duffel bag she simply dropped it, lined up another alongside, and dragged both up the ramp at a loaded run. What a filly.

On finishing, "Well?"

"Our mission is rescue and recovery of overdue vessel?"

"Yes, you heard the right rumor."

"Then I elect for jump accuracy. We can maneuver to ameliorate reduced communications acuity, but we cannot ameliorate lost time."

Ameliorate ... means ... oh yeah. "Sounds good to me. Make it happen, then come aboard for the crew meeting."

She jogged back down the ramp towards the yard supervisor. Adam grabbed his own gear and started to drag it into cabin 2, but Helga already was in there. Fine, she needed the work station. Laseiag had taken 4, so he shuffled everything into 3. Closing the sliding door he suddenly became still, eyes shut, leaning on the bulkhead. Recovering he dumped his stuff onto the deck - plenty of time to arrange everything later - dumped his formal field dress uniform onto his bunk, and threw on a standard gray flight suit and boots. Much better.

First things first. He checked his cabin's lifesupport/toilet module. Not new but not old. Looked like it had been steamed cleaned, good, thank you somebody. Filters good, water tank full, air tank full, charging tanks up/down, atmo reprocessor up/down, pumps on/off, bidet on/off, heater on/off, refrigerant on/off, unit isolation/interconnection valves good, maintenance cards up to date - hey, they actually are - no smell, no rust in the unit, no rust between the unit and the hull, yep, all good.

He checked the lockers - stand-up and bunk and under-bunk. No left-over junk or piles of nameless mold-covered something. Vid/holo screen on, works, off. Well, he was ready for another week of stare-at-the-wall. He found his coffee cup and the handful of coffee packets in his gear and put them in a pocket.

He stepped out to the corridor and checked the laundry machine. Up, worked. Next, to the lounge, or rather the closet that passed for a lounge. Food prepper good, coffee machine good, cup/plate/utensil sterilizer working. With a slight feeling of dread he glanced under the table and bench seats. Nothing. Thank you God. Nothing in the food stager. He tossed in the coffee packets except one, and cycled the coffee machine with the one. Worked OK. He sat at the table with his coffee and waited.

Last edited by flykiller; January 2nd, 2016 at 06:08 PM..
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