Tag Archives: Ekaterina’s Pride

[SLACK ROLEPLAYING LOG] Y’luci Checks In #OtherSpace #storytelling

It’s been a while since the Ekaterina’s Pride started undergoing her refit and Vechkov Prague – private investigator turned profiteering industrialist – set about seeking bids for contractors to build the new moss farming operation on Mintaka.

Now he watches on a landing pad at the San Angeles spaceport as cargo workers load hoversleds full of supplies aboard the Pride for the trip back out to the newly discovered world.

Sionnach steps up beside Prague, handing him a tablet with some sort of reports on it. “Ship’s ready to go, boss,” he says, his ears tilted forward, “You figure out what we’re doing for a mechanic, yet?”

“No, not yet,” the captain replies with an extended sigh. “Let’s make another refueling stop at the Rucker and hunt for somebody who knows their way around an engine room.” He holds up a PDA. “I’ve been reading up, but I think I know just enough to get us killed.”

“I’d be willing to bet I’d get us killed faster, ” the pilot replies, snorting in self-derision, “We’ll be ready for takeoff as soon as she’s loaded.” He winks before heading up towards the vessel.

A petite brunette trots through the spaceport with a massive backpack threatening to topple her over, and a pda in hand. She’s humming a poppy tune to herself and stepping to the beat, each footfall punctuated with the clatter of metal, plastic, and other materials. When the woman spots the Pride, she double checks the pda and then squeals in delight, “It’s still here!” She practically skips towards the vessel, dodging others with quick apologies.

Standing at the base of the ramp of the pride is a squat, middle-aged man in a beige trenchcoat with a battered fedora, dark trousers, and a charcoal-hued tunic. He squints at the approaching female.

“Hiii!” chirps the woman as she stops in front of the squat man, pushing up her hipster glasses and adjusting her very, very pink sweater, “Are you the Captain? I’m looking for Captain…” she double checks her pda, “Prague? Of the… Eh…ka…ter…ina… Ekaterina’s Pride! I heard there’s places to go and things to fix and whenever there’s places to go and things to fix there’s always need of a grease monkey-” she points to herself and continues without taking a breath, “like me! I’m Lucy. Well, Y’luci, but humans call me Lucy. I’m a grease monkey and I’m really, really good with human ships. Like, REALLY good. They’re my favorite ships, then there’s Yoridini ships and Hekayti ships and…”

She just… keeps talking. So much.

“Hoop, you’re perky,” Prague grunts. “You always this gabby?”

Y’luci stops mid-sentence with a little, “Oop!” She giggles then and explains, “Not always! I’m just excited. I’ve been between ships a while and I LOVE LOVE LOVE meeting new people, and going new places, and fixing new things, and-oh… I’ll, uh… I’ll shut up now?” She gives a wide, sheepish grin, but now she’s staring expectantly at Prague.

“So you say you’re a grease monkey,” the captain says, considering the female. “Good with ships? Well, the Pride’s special to me. You think you can take good care of her? Worth thinking about. But you talk about human ships like you’re not human and you, well, look human. What’s that all about?”

“When on Earth, do as the Earthers do,” Lucy shrugs, then… melts? Slowly her form transforms from the dainty human female to a blob of Yoridini the same pink shade as the sweater she’d been wearing, the backpack laid nearly on the floor beside her.  A face forms in the being’s surface and explains, “I’ve spent lots and lots of time around humans and they usually prefer if I look like them. Plus, Earth spaceports are just so much easier to navigate in a human shape, you know? BUT, as a Yoridini, I’ve got a major advantage over most solid races when it comes to engine rooms. I fit in all the tight spaces! And I can reach things, and I can be a wrench if I don’t have one.” The weird blob face smiles brightly (creepily) and adds, “I’ll take great care of her!”

The Ungstiri tilts his head as he ponders the grinning pink puddle. “OK, well, you make quite the first impression.” He gestures with his head toward the ramp. “Welcome aboard, Lucy. I’m Vechkov Prague. I hope you’re not allergic to Pyracani.”

“Sweet!” squeals the blob, as she surrounds her backpack and lifts it up, “You won’t regret it, Captain!” Lucy makes for the ramp without bothering to retake her human form, “I’m gonna get settled in – and I’m not allergic, no. But I’m not gonna be in charge of the litter if we have any Demarians!” She snickers, oozing her way up the ramp to the ship.

Prague takes off his hat, scratches the back of his head, then makes his way up the ramp after Lucy. “She’s definitely a nice change from the last one,” he mutters.

Y’luci doesn’t seem to hear the captain, squishing around the ship with the vague familiarity of one who has an idea of where everything should be. The superpink Yoridini makes her way to the crew quarters and seeks out an unclaimed space in which to make herself at home.

Hearing a sound from below, the red-furred Pyracani pilot begins to descend the ladder. “Almost ready to shake the dust off, Skipper,” he calls down. Spotting the Yoridini, his eyes widen a bit and he races over to a storage compartment. He pulls out a sealed jar with some kind of moss in it and sighs with relief. “Um, can I help you?” he asks the new engineer somewhat sheepishly.

The blob pauses as she’s lifting her backpack up to her claimed bunk. The weird blob face indents itself into the side facing Sionnach. “Oh, hi!” Lucy chirps chipperly, “I think I’m okay for now, just settling in. Cap just signed me on to be your new engineer! I’m Y’luci; it’s SO NICE to meet you!” A tendril stretches out from her body and forms into a human arm, which waves then offers a handshake. (edited)

The Pyracani blinks, then nods in realization. “You are a Yoridini,” he says, more to himself than the newcomer, “Nice to meet you as well. Meuc Sionnach, pilot.” He reaches out a paw to shake the offered “hand”.

“Yep, I am,” the face nods. Her hand feels authentic as it grips that paw; bony in all the right places, right amount of give, the skin even moves and feels accurate. Y’luci continues to speak, “Sorry if I startled you, Mr. Sionnach, usually I look like a Human when I’m meeting new solid people but I’m so excited I just-” she giggles brightly, “can’t hold myself together!” The giggling continues.

“You’re fine,” Sionnach replies with a toothy laugh, “If anyone should be sorry, it’s me. Haven’t met many Yoridini. And I’m pretty excited myself. Second time going out to a new planet and all. Boss show you what we did to hold this heap together on the way back?”

Y’luci shakes her… something… “Nope, not yet. Just got here! I’m just stashing my bag and I was going to do a full diagnostic next. Speaking of which, I should probably grab my tools, huh?” The backpack is gently lowered to the floor, before the blob opens it and sticks about half of her matter in with the assortment of tools and random parts. The contents of the bag shift and several tools work their way to the surface, in pockets inside the Yoridini’s body. She extracts herself from the bag, places it on her bunk, then shifts towards the ladder. “I think Captain Prague might be busy. You want to show me your rig-job?”

“I take no responsibility for that,” the Pyracani says with a smirk, “And just a heads up, he doesn’t like being called captain.” He gestures aft and starts making his way towards the engine room. “So, there was a Faraday malfunction after our last jump,” he says, “Cascaded down into the main drive unit. We cobbled it all together as best we could, but neither of us are what you would call a decent mechanic.”

Lucy follows along, listening to the explanation as Sionnach leads her aft. “So I should call him Boss, like you do?” she inquires lightly, her tools juggling around inside her pink form. Once the Pyracani is finished, she nods the roughly head-like section with her blob face on it, “Well, decent or no, you guys clearly made it work long enough to get here. I’m curious how close you got to electrocuting yourselves or blowing up the ship, though… or catastrophically crippling the ship to the point where you were hopelessly drifting through space without life support, or…” She continues, each scenario a little more creative than the last, but none entirely farfetched.

“I like the one where we got turned into hobo frogs and the ship was a metal space lily pad,” concludes Prague as he pokes his head down through the ladder well. “So what do you think, Lucy? How long to get the Pride ready for a trip back to Mintaka?”

“I’ll know after my diagnostic, Boss,” Lucy replies as the tools work their ways to her surface. Each is extended from her main form with a tendril, held aloft as two empty ones rub together, “Let’s get started!” With that, the Yoridini dives right into the engine room, touching only surfaces that are safe to touch and maneuvering all the tools at once for each of their assigned tasks. She squishes, squeezes, slides, stretches, and even squelches at times, and is able to do a full, in-depth analysis of the state of the ship in maybe a quarter of the time it would take a single human mechanic. She mutters to herself all the while, little comments like, “Oh, that’s not good at all,” and, “This is in pretty great shape, all things considered.”

Sionnach watches this for a few moments, then glances incredulously over at Prague with his ears leaning back before turning back towards the corridor. “Well, let me know when you want her airborne,” he says.

“Oh… oh that’s BAAAD,” Y’luci quickly extracts herself from the engine compartments, almost seeming to recoil, “That’s so bad! The safety rig is open! No wonder you had a Faraday malfunction, that stays closed for a REASON, who did that??” She closes it quickly before compiling the data from her diagnostic. “As for the damage, your patch job… It shouldn’t have even worked, honestly. You guys got really lucky you didn’t overload the propulsion systems, some of these circuits are screaming for mercy. I’ve got some boards in my collection that’ll fit this class of ship, and I can get the rest easy enough. Worst case, 3 days. Best case, it’s not as bad as it looks and with no distractions I can cut the time in half. I could cut it down more if you want the quick and dirty, but you asked me to take care of her and I wouldn’t go exploring new planets that way.”

The Ungstiri frowns at Lucy’s analysis. “Our last engineer’s parting gift?” He looks at Sionnach and says, “Run your own diagnostics on nav systems. Make sure she didn’t tamper with anything else.”

“Will do, Skipper!” Sionnach calls back from the corridor and makes his way quickly up the ladder to the cockpit.

“Parting gift…?” the blob-face frowns, “Hold up, what the hell am I getting myself into here? What’re you doing that your engineer would sabotage your ship?” Two tendrils form and hold themselves akimbo, “I didn’t sign up for any spy holovids…”

Prague clambers down the ladder into engineering after Sionnach makes his way toward the cockpit. “It’s a fair question. The answer is: I got no idea. We went out to explore one star system and hit paydirt. Then she up and disappeared on us after a refueling stop at the Rucker.” He scratches the stubble on his cheek. “I’ll give you an educated guess, though. She’s got her own angle on Mintaka. Maybe she figured taking out the Pride would leave the planet open for someone else to take advantage.” A dark chuckle. “Maybe we haven’t seen the last of her.”

“Oh dear… Oh my…,” the Yoridini shifts back and forth, fussing, “That’s terrible. You think you can trust somebody and they try to destroy your ship? Oh that’s just awful… I…” She takes up her tools again, “I’m going to fix her up good! The ship, not your last mechanic. Well, maybe her too, I’d like to give her a piece of my mind… but I told you I’d take great care of this ship and I meant that. She’ll be good as new when I’m done with her!”

“I appreciate it,” Prague replies. Then he grunts and starts back up the ladder. “Let me know if you need any parts ordered.” The badly worn soles of his patent leather shoes are the last things Lucy would see before he’s gone into the corridor above.

Sionnach, meanwhile, is still trying to find any errors in the nav system. “What’d she say?” he calls down the ladder as he hears Prague heading forward.

“The short version?” Prague chuckles as he looks up the ladder toward the Pyracani. “She’s going to do a better job than Eloise Sharpers and won’t try to kill us. So, that’s positive, I think.”

“Will do!” Lucy fetches her bag and brings the whole thing to engineering, where she sorts out several spare parts and a tasty mineral snack, and starts working. Anything she doesn’t have is listed (along with images and acceptable price ranges) and sent to Prague. None should be hard to find, though one is expensive. There’s a note that she can rebuild the one they have, but it will take an extra day to do so. If left undisturbed, she’ll work almost non-stop (punctuated by remarkably brief periods of rest) until the job is done or she has to wait for the requested parts.

“Cheerful news,” the Pyracani mutters wryly, “Everything looks ok up here, but these are the same checks I ran when we left the Rucker. If we’re here a bit I can check the wiring over for what that’s worth.”

“I think we have a little time,” Prague replies to Sionnach as he reviews Lucy’s list. An eyebrow goes up at some of the items and their anticipated price tags. “OK. Let’s get to work.”

Lucy keeps her optical micro-organs open for more signs of sabotage while she works. She’s quick, but very careful. Squeeze here, disassemble this, squish there, repair that. Broken parts from her bag are taken apart to rebuild ship parts, and any leftover scrap is set aside.

After a while she starts to hum while she works, causing a shimmering sort of look as the vibrations form fine ripples across her surface membrane.

The Pyracani nods, pulling a somewhat less comprehensive tool kit than Lucy’s from under the helm console. He shuts down the console and begins opening access hatches, following the wire to make certain it goes to the appropriate places.

Everything else seems to be in proper operating order, suggesting that Eloise Sharpers limited her mischief to the Faraday cage.

A short while later, a spaceport technician arrives to deliver the parts Prague ordered on behalf of the ship’s new engineer.

The pink blob forms back into her tiny brunette form to accept the shipment herself, inspecting everything to make sure it’s all accurate and undamaged. Once that’s settled, she hauls the whole bunch back to engineering and resumes her work without thinking to drop back to goo shape. Her arms and such stretch and squeeze as needed, but for the most part she just stays human… ish. The squishing noises die down a great deal because of this.

Eventually she comms that she’s just about done and will be running another diagnostic to make sure everything’s in good working order.

“Engine room reports that as long as we pass the last diagnostic, we should be good to go shortly,” Sionnach says, closing up the access panels up in the cockpit.

Prague finishes transmitting a message via PDA, then settles into his seat behind the Pyracani. “Start calculating the course to the Rucker. That’ll be our new home for a while until I get some professional eggheads to help manage the moss farm on Mintaka.”

The diagnostic goes well, and Lucy gives the green light to go. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to clean up and pass out for a couple hours,” she chirps, packing up her bag of parts and tools, dumping the useless bits into a scrap bin, and making her way to her bunk. Once there she plops as a human, then slowly melts back into a very pink puddle of ooze.

“Course laid in,” Sionnach says to Prague, “And… ready for liftoff.” He glances back at the Ungstiri, ready to fire off the thrusters.

“Good,” Prague says. He nods to the Pyracani. “Take us up and away.”

The pilot nods back, and with a whine from the engines, the Ekaterina’s Pride lifts off the tarmac and surges skyward. The small transport weaves through other traffic and within moments breaks free of the Earth’s atmosphere.

[SLACK ROLEPLAYING LOG] Off to Earth #amwriting #storytelling #roleplaying

Vechkov wanders into the cockpit and slumps into his usual chair at the sensor station, rolling the moss tube sample between his palms. “OK, so,” he says to Sionnach, “we’re supposed to go to Sol for a second opinion. Once Sharpers is back on board, we’re good to go.”

Meanwhile, the woman who calls herself Sharpers these days sits at a corner table in the mess hall of the Rucker, grumbling into her commlink: “What do you mean he wants me back on the trail? I thought he was worried I’d draw too much heat?”

The voice on the other end replies: “Rodrigo Levante’s in the wind. Caught a shuttle off Citadel and high-tailed it to Quaquan. Who knows where he might go after that? He’s a huge liability. Plus, his brother still owes Lord Fagin a great deal of money. Lord Fagin doesn’t want to have to worry about these things. You’re normally quite good at cleaning up such messes. And, well, *you* owe him too. So, you’re going to find Rodrigo Levante and kill him. Then you’re going to eliminate Armand Levante. You’re cleared to deal as you wish with anyone who attempts to get in your way.”

“Fine,” she growls. “I’ll find my way to Quaquan first.”

She doesn’t bother breaking the news to Prague or Sionnach. By the time she’s disconnected the commlink signal, Sharpers is dead. Shark’s back, with cold, black eyes and a set jaw. She finds the next outbound flight and books passage. Never so much as glances at the Pride.

Unaware of the human female’s abandonment, Sionnach nods to Prague, doing the jump computations while he waits. “Course laid in and ready,” he says, “She say how long she’d be?”

“Should’ve been back by now,” the captain replies, brow furrowed. He tilts his head, pondering. “And here I was gonna share a piece of the profits from this endeavor with the crew.” He shrugs. “More for you, I guess. We’ll find a new engineer. Let’s go.”

“Done and done,” Sionnach replies, his voice sounding a lot more sure about this than his face, “Retracting umbilical, disengaging docking clamps….” The Pride shifts gently away from the Rucker until she is clear. “All set, course laid in and ready,” the pilot says, glancing back at Prague.

“All right,” Vechkov says. “Sol System, then. Let’s see what the Sorties want to offer us for tasty, tasty moss.”

“Deeelicious…” Sionnach replies, pulling the lever that brings the jumpdrive whirring to life as the ship slips free of reality.

A few hours later, the Ekaterina’s Pride reaches the outskirts of Sol System and the Tilsworth-Cooke drive trades off with the sublight engines. An alarm sounds and a red light flashes on the nav display reading: “FARADAY MALFUNCTION – TC DRIVE INOPERATIVE”. Apparently, Sharpers wasn’t lying about the circuit problem in the Faraday cage.

Sionnach winces as the alarms start going off. “Hmm…” he mutters a bit before he calls back over his shoulder, “I don’t suppose you’re hiding a new jumpdrive onboard, are you boss? If not, we might be stuck here for a bit.”

Vechkov frowns. “Let’s just hope the Consortium’s willing to buy us a new one, eh?”

“That’d be nice of ’em,” the Pyracani replies, chuffing in amusement, “Third planet, right?” He lays in a course that comes arcing down into the system to meet Earth in its travels.

“Yeah, third planet,” Prague replies. “Last I checked.” He scratches the back of his neck, grimacing at the thought of something. He peers toward Sionnach. “You think Sharpers sabotaged the Pride?”

“Seems a bit weird she’d do that and tell us what she did,” Sionnach replies with a shrug, “And why do it at all? Not like she can beat you to your claim.” As he guides the ship in, he looks the sensor feed over. “Station out in orbit,” he says, “Big one. We docking there or landing planetside?”

The captain eyes the starbase. “Citadel? Nah. This is more of a scientific/diplomatic thing. Take us down to the San Angeles spaceport, planetside. Should be a car waiting for us.”

“Notifying solar traffic control of flight path,” the caninoid replies with a nod, “Should be on the ground in 5.”

“What if she’s in trouble?” the Ungstiri muses as the Pride approaches Earth. He studies his knuckles. “I just left the Rucker without so much as registering her as late, let alone missing.” He frowns. “I think that kinda makes me a dick.”

“Maybe,” the fighter pilot says with another shrug, “Sharpers smells like a woman who can take care of herself, though. And, as you say, she did at the very least leave us in a lurch.”

“Maybe,” Prague agrees. “Well, I’ll at least send a message to Captain Lee on the Rucker. See if she saw Sharpers at some point.”

“Sounds good,” Sionnach replies as the ship hits atmo. The pilot maneuvers the vessel gently through other traffic, as well as various air currents until it comes smoothly to rest on the tarmac.

A few minutes after the Pride sets down, Prague leads Sionnach down the ramp and walks toward the spaceport entrance. It’s daylight, under a cloudless blue sky. Intent, the Ungstiri keeps his eyes fixed either on the doorway or the tarmac. He never, ever looks up.

The Pyracani steps off and does quite the opposite. “Never been here before,” he says, peering around curiously, “Heard about it when humans started popping up back home a few years back.”

“Nice enough, I guess,” Prague says with a shrug, still studiously avoiding eye contact with the heavens. “Maybe a little too roomy.” He relaxes some as they step into the main dome of the spaceport.

[SLACK ROLEPLAYING LOG] Moss #amwriting #storytelling

The Ekaterina’s Pride returns to the rendezvous point with the tanker Rucker, dropping out of FTL to find the fuel ship waiting as expected.

Sharpes calls up from engineering via intercom: “Hey, dogface. It occurs to me the Vannies might have some eggheads around to examine that moss. Maybe Captain Lee can get you in touch with the Zheng He.”

“That’s an interesting thought,” Vechkov replies, but he shrugs. “Our priority is making the claim on Mintaka. Then we can ask around about scientists to check out your pet moss.”

“Setting course for the Rucker then, for now,” the Pyracani says, entering the coordinates before sending ship into FTL and sits back, leaning back into the pilot’s seat after that’s done. “ETA is two hours. Any ideas on how you want to get a mining outfit out here?”

The Ungstiri ponders, scratching his right cheek. “I know some people.” A chuckle, then, “Maybe they’re tired of drilling on dead rock back home.”

“Guess so,” Sionnach replies with a thoughtful nod, “You think they’ll let you fuel up a mining bark at the Rucker?”

“Don’t know,” Prague says. “But I don’t see why not. Gotta talk it over with Captain Lee, I expect.”

“Would think so,” the Pyracani says with a quick nod. “Mind if I grab a quick power nap while I’m locked out of the helm?”

“Not at all,” Prague replies. “I’ll keep an eye on things.”

A couple hours later, the Pride is docked aboard the Rucker. Prague makes his way down to the airlock, where he finds Sharpers waiting. She says, “We’ve got a burnt out circuit in the generator matrix below the Faraday construct.”

Vechkov grunts, eyeing her from under the brim of his fedora. “Expensive to fix?”

Sharpers shrugs. “Depends on supply, demand, and human greed. I’ll see what Captain Lee’s got in stock.”

The Ungstiri nods, then says, “Thanks. Send me the bill.”

The engineer opens the airlock and descends the ramp toward the hangar bay.

Sionnach climbs down after the engineer has left. “Anything to do while we wait, boss?” he asks Veckov, pausing to lean on the ladder.

“You want to ask around about that moss sample?” Prague inquires.

“Couldn’t hurt,” the Pyracani replies with a quick nod, pulling open the storage compartment in which the sample was stored. “How much time we got?” he asks, rummaging in the bin.

The captain shrugs, plucking a cigarette from the crumpled pack in his trenchcoat pocket. “A while. I’m transmitting the Mintaka claim report to Earth now that we’re here. Once we’ve got clearance to proceed with resource development, we may head back to Ungstir to hire the right folks for the job of ramping up operations. So I’d say we’re here for at least a couple of days.”

“Fair enough,” the pilot says, pulling the sample jar out of the bin, “I’ll see what I can find. Don’t leave without me.” He grins as wide as a caninoid can before stepping through the airlock and onto the Rucker.

Captain Miranda Lee nods to Sionnach as he arrives. She says: “Welcome back. Productive trip, I hope.”

“Seems like it,” the Pyracani replies with a toothy smile, “I was wondering, though, if you have anyone who might like to look at a biological sample we picked up.”

The captain arches an eyebrow. “Sample. From your alien world? It’ll need to go through quarantine first. And your ship and crew are under lockdown until that sample is cleared.” She sighs. “Come on, I’ll take you to Fremont’s lab. Shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to figure out if you’ve killed us all.”

“Well, nothing has happened yet,” the Pyracani says with a sheepish grin, his flattened ears convincing no one. He does, however, follow the captain to wherever she leads.

A short while later, the duo arrives at an office adjacent to the docking bay, where the Rucker’s quartermaster – Alloy Fremont – reviews the latest incoming freight manifests. The captain informs him: “We’ve got an alien sample that needs a quarantine review. Priority, since, y’know, protocols.” She glances toward Sionnach and says, “So you know, you’re the first explorer to come back with something to show for it. Watch it be some kind of death spore from hell.”

Fremont, a white-haired skinny man, blanches at the captain’s lackadaisical attitude. “Don’t even joke,” he mutters. He slides a pair of white plastic gloves onto his hands and reaches out toward the Pyracani. “Let’s see it.”

The pilot almost considers tossing the container to Fremont, mostly to give the quartermaster a heart attack, but he thinks better of it, not entirely confident the man will make the catch. He instead hands the sample carefully over. “Let us hope it is nothing bad,” he says.

Fremont accepts the container, then carries it toward a hatch in the back of his chamber. The hatch bears a scary-looking red and yellow biohazard symbol. He sets the tube on a shelf beside the hatch. He climbs into a blue hazardous materials suit. Then he opens the hatch, takes the tube, steps inside, and closes the hatch with a THUNK.

Sionnach watches this operation with a certain level of fascination. “So anyone run into any trouble, yet?” he asks of the captain while waiting.

“Trouble?” The captain shakes her head. “A few refuel issues and mechanical failures that required rescue. Although there’s one ship, the Martinette, that’s late reporting back from Beta Ophiuchi. Vanguard should be checking that out.”

The hatch opens. Fremont emerges, yanking the mask off his suit, and offers the tube of moss back to Sionnach. “Non-hazardous. Mostly protein. In fact, it’s an excellent food source.” He looks toward Captain Lee. “If you want to supplement our rations, you could do a lot worse than this plant.”

Sionnach wrinkles his snout in disgust, shaking his head. “You folks want to hold onto it?” he asks, “I’ll have to ask the boss, but I don’t think he’ll mind overmuch.”

Fremont looks flabbergasted. Captain Lee chuckles at his dismay, then she says to Sionnach: “If there’s a lot of this material on the world you found, and if it’s a renewable resource, it may earn your boss a hell of a lot more than a mineral claim in the long run. You may have discovered a nutritional supplement useful to thousands, if not millions, of potential colonists.”

The Pyracani seems incredulous of this but he nods politely. “Alright, well… thanks. I better get back and tell him, then.” He takes the container, looking in at it as if it contained a deadly spider. He nods to the two officers once again and bids them farewell, heading back to the Ekaterina’s Pride.

“Next time, use a hazmat container,” the quartermaster complains at Sionnach’s back.

Captain Lee gives Fremont a cutting look. “Well, now they definitely won’t cut us in on their big payday.”

The pilot returns to the exploration ship, ducking into the airlock. “Still aboard, boss?” he calls out as he cycles the hatch closed.

“Yeah, sure,” Prague answers through the intercom. “Just heard back from my friends on Ungstir. They think it might be cost prohibitive to ramp up a mining facility for something as mundane as iron.”

“About that,” Sionnach replies, tossing the sample container in the air and catching it, “Apparently this stuff’s worth more than we thought.

“Really?” The captain grunts. “Come on in. Let’s talk next steps.”

The Pyracani steps into Prague’s cramped bunkroom and holds up the container, “Apparently, this is edible. Captain Lee thinks it might be worth a fortune if it can be farmed.”

The Ungstiri blinks in surprise. “I came all this way to make my fortune…and it’s gonna be farming moss?”

Sionnach tosses the container to Vechkov with a toothy grin. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat,” he says with a chuckle.

[SLACK ROLEPLAYING LOG] #rp-exploration: The Mintaka Claim

Mintaka, also known as Delta Orionis, is a blue giant multi-star system. In the first orbit, there’s a hot “rockball” world. The second and fourth orbits contain asteroid belts. The third orbit is empty.

The fifth orbit contains an Earth-like terrestrial world some 6,000 miles in diameter with about .5 Earth gravity, 15 degrees of axial tilt, a near 24-hour day. It’s got standard atmospheric pressure and an oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere. Climate is very cold with icy terrain covering most of the planet. Life forms on the planet include lower animals – varieties of insects, fish, and amphibians. Resources are largely limited to radioactives, with ample supplies of uranium, radium, and thorium (among others)  and industrial metals such as iron, tin, copper, and zinc. Scarce gemstones, no rare/special minerals, no light metals, and no organics such as carbon or fossil fuels.

The sixth and final orbit contains a gas giant.

“Coming up on Mintaka, Captain,” Meuc Sionnach calls out over the intercom as he brings the Pride out of FTL. The star explodes into view, its blue light taking up most of the viewport. The Pyracani puts the vessel into a solar orbit as he looks over what sensor readouts are available to him.

“Anything promising?” Prague asks as he gazes out at the blue giant.

“The second planet seems like one we could walk around on without six spacesuits each,” the pilot says wryly, “No evidence of civilization. In fact I’d say life is a pretty new thing down there.”

“OK,” the captain replies. He fumbles in the pocket of his trenchcoat for a crumpled pack of cigarettes and a scuffed silver lighter. “Lay in a course. Let’s see what’s what.”

The Pyracani fires off the engines to whip the vessel around the star’s gravity. “Slowing for orbit in five minutes, boss,” Sionnach replies, “What exactly are we looking for there?”

“Stuff worth money to someone else, I guess,” Prague says with a shrug as he lights a cig and pokes it into his mouth. He returns the pack and lighter to his coat pocket. The cig bobs between his lips as he speaks: “Figure if we make a rich find, it’ll be worth setting up a stake planetside. Make a claim.”

“Fun times,” Meuc says, “Well, hopefully, we don’t have to dig the whole place up. Some radioactive material, metals, the odd gemstone deposit. Might be able to get some scratch off of plant and animal specimens.”

Prague frowns. “Radioactive? That sounds like a pain in the ass. And maybe profitable. Huh.” Another shrug. He puffs on the cigarette, then looks out the viewport as the Pride passes the gas giant while traveling farther in-system. “Don’t call me captain, by the way. Never been in the military. Hate uniforms. Just call me Vech.”

“Vech it is, then,” Meuc replies grinning as he begins to slow the vessel’s approach to the second planet, “Not a great fan of uniforms myself. Fortunately, the Pyracan military’s uniform is not particularly restrictive.”

“What made you sign up as a soldier, anyway?” Prague asks.

“To prove that I could,” Sionnach says with a grin, “I may not be the biggest and the strongest warrior, but the sky is mine.” Even as he says that, he slips the Pride into orbit. “Anyplace in particular you’d like her put down?” he asks.

“See any warm beaches with cocktails and lounge chairs?” Prague asks.

“That depends,” Sionnach asks, grinning from ear to ear, “Did you bring a bar and some lounge chairs? Oh, and a terraforming crew?”

That gets a smirk from Vechkov. “Maybe our engineer can whip up a decent climate.” He shakes his head, then says, “Pick a decent spot along the equator. Surprise me.”

“Will do,” Meuc replies as the ship begins to enter the atmosphere, making for a point in the late morning sunlight. Not long after, the vessel finds itself nestling into a valley, sheltered from the prevailing wind.

“Good job getting us down without landing sideways,” Sharpers quips via intercom from engineering. “I’ve run diagnostics on the atmosphere suits. They’re, uh, not top of the line, but they should keep us alive for a few hours if you decide to EVA. Y’all knock yourselves out with that. I’ve found some calibration issues in the baffle manifolds for the drive system. Unless one of you wants to tweak that, in which case maybe I will go sightseeing.”

“Want to take a walk, Vech?” the Pyracani asks, fiddling with some of the controls before clambering out of the pilot’s couch. “I could certainly do with a stretch of the legs, myself,” he adds.

Prague shakes his head. “You think I’m leaving my ship in the hands of a near total stranger so I can roam around on this ice bucket? No, thanks.” He takes out another cigarette and lights it. “Take a short EVA. Get some readings of the immediate area.”

The Pyracani smirks faintly at this. “Not afraid of the cold, are you, boss?” he asks, “Well, I’m no scientist, but I’ll do what I can.”  He heads below to get to the job of adjusting the suit to his frame.

“Yeah,” Prague grumbles. “Forgot to pack a scientist. Maybe they’ll have one on the Rucker when we head back for a re-stock.”

Down below, Sharpers watches as Sionnach works his way into the atmosphere suit. “Not too tight, I hope,” she says, approaching to check the seams and seals.

“Seems ok,” the caninoid replies, “Don’t think it was designed with me in mind, though.” When he snaps the helmet in place, his muzzle nearly touches the faceplate. “Think I’ll survive?” he asks, jokingly. Mostly.

“Sure,” Sharpers says with a wry smile. “Unless you die.” She glances up the ladder. “Boss not tagging along?”

“Best part about being the boss, I guess,” Meuc says with a grin as he grabs a scanner and looks it over. Satisfied he can operate at least its basic functions, the pilot steps into the airlock. “Wish me luck,” he calls out as he triggers the hatch cycle.

The icy landscape seems fairly forboding, although the horizon is hemmed in by a ridge of snow-capped mountains to the west. The sky is a pale pinkish-blue. Hard-packed snow waits at the bottom of the Pride’s departure ramp.

Before getting too far from the ship, Sionnach makes a quick scan for any megafauna worth being wary of.

Nothing living in the immediate vicinity raises any sorts of alarm. Just small creatures – nothing bigger than an adult Earth mastiff. Also some mossy fungal patches on the sun-facing cliffs of an eastern ridge. Sensors on the PDA detect mineral resources behind those fungal patches, though – veins of industrial metals, most likely.

Sionnach makes his way over to the cliffs and begins to take some scans of the metals therein. He takes some of the moss in a sample container from his belt.

The cliffs contain rich veins of iron, with some smaller caches of copper and zinc.

“Sionnach to Ekaterina’s Pride,” the caninoid says into his comm, “I’ve picked up some moss samples. There’s a good amount of iron ore here, some trace metals. I’m sending my readings in. Anything you want?”

The response via comms: “Pride here.” It’s Prague. “Complete your scans and head back. We’ll return to Rucker and send word back to the Consortium that we’re staking a claim to the mineral rights on this world. I’ll share if they’re willing to help develop the claim.”

“Acknowledged,” Sionnach says, putting away the sample container as he finishes his scans as well as he can. Once he has done what he is able, he begins to move back towards the ship.

As the Pyracani returns to the Pride, he finds the ramp still down and waiting for him. Prague’s voice comes across the hatch intercom: “All aboard. Sharpers says she’s done with her calibrations. Ready for launch.”

“On my way up, boss,” says the Pyracani as he cycles the airlock and squirms his way back out of the suit.

“Was it as exciting as you imagined?” Sharpers asks. She’s waiting in the corridor next to the airlock as Sionnach returns.

“No, thankfully,” the pilot says with a chuckle, “I don’t suppose you need a whole lot of iron ore downstairs. What do you make of this?” He tosses the sample container of moss to the woman.

She frowns at the container in her hand. “I look like a botanist?” She tosses it back to Sionnach. “Show it to some egghead on the Rucker. Maybe they can sort it out.”

“Fair enough,” the Pyracani says, tossing the container into a storage compartment. “Better get strapped in, going airborne in a second,” he calls back as he bounds up the ladder towards the cockpit.

Use Slackpass to join the saga on our Slack site!