Tag Archives: Mintaka

[SLACK ROLEPLAYING] Mintaka 001 #storytelling #roleplaying

Vechkov Prague, private investigator-turned-freighter-captain, grows much more comfortable with his surroundings once he’s under the dome of Drescher Interstellar Spaceport.

He stops near one of the holokiosks displaying departure and arrival times for commercial flights. Pulls a crumpled pack of cigarettes from his trenchcoat pocket. He turns toward his Pyracani companion and offers the pack. “Smoke?”

“No, but thanks,” the red-furred Pyracani fighter jock replies, “Where we headed?”

A Castori stands in the passenger arrivals area, holding a sign that reads: “MINTAKA PARTY.” Vechkov nods toward the ursinoid. “Our ride.”

“You have Opodians out here?” the caninoid asks in a hushed tone as he follows the Ungstiri.

*The* Ungstiri glances over at Sionnach. “Opodians? Rings a bell. But that’s a Castori.” He stops a few feet from the short bear-like creature with the sign. “We’re here about the Mintaka claim.”

The driver gives a perfunctory bow and says: “Follow me, then.” He waddles toward the exit.

“Huh,” the Pyracani grunts, “Could’ve sworn … hmmm.” But nonetheless he follows both the ursinoid and the Ungstiri, still looking about in curiosity.

As they step outside again, Vechkov keeps his gaze veiled by the brim of his fedora. The Castori holds open the door of a dark blue four-door hovercar. “OK if I smoke?” Prague asks the driver.

“No,” the driver says.

“Ah,” Prague replies. He slides into the back seat, grumbling.

Sionnach grins a bit at the interaction, nodding gratefully to the Castori. “So who’s this meeting set up with?” he asks as he gets into the vehicle. Now it’s his turn to feel a bit uncomfortable as he becomes a passenger.

“Lamar Quinlan,” the driver answers as he enters the autopilot commands and sets the car in motion. “Consortium Agricultural Minister. We will arrive at government headquarters in sixteen minutes.”

“Fancy,” the Pyracani replies, frowning a bit. “I’m not really good with politics,” he says to Vech.

“Not here for politics,” the Ungstiri grunts. “Here for business.” The car eases into traffic flowing toward the center of the sprawling city of San Angeles.

“Not great with business either,” Sionnach mutters back, his muzzle crinkling in disgust.

Vechkov nods. “I get it. Just let me do the talking. You can growl and snarl every once in a while. I bet Quinlan’s never met a Pyracani before.”

“Should have brought my brothers along for that,” the relatively small Pyracani replies with an unamused chuckle.

The detective laughs. “I’d pay to see it.” The car maneuvers toward an offramp, past a sign that reads: “GOVERNMENT CENTER.” The sprawling Consortium government complex is visible a few blocks ahead.

The pilot snorts derisively, but still seems curious about what they are approaching. “Place is huge,” he mutters, “Reminds me of the temple district back home. Only shinier.”

“I just hope the corridors are narrow and the ceilings are low,” Prague ventures. The car whirs to a stop outside the main entrance. The driver steps out and opens the door on Sionnach’s side so that the passengers can depart.

“You’re a strange guy, boss,” Sionnach says with a faint chuckle as he slides out of the car and waits for Vech to take the lead.

The corridors aren’t narrow. The cathedral ceilings are daunting. “Hoopin’ hell,” the Ungstiri complains as a human woman with dark red hair meets them in the lobby.

“Minister Quinlan has you scheduled for fifteen minutes,” she says. “Please don’t exceed that time. We’re on a tight daily agenda.”

“Fifteen minutes?” Sionnach says, trying to grin, “We can probably survive fifteen minutes.”

“Let’s keep it to five minutes,” the gaunt, bald-headed man behind the desk says as the woman shows Prague and Sionnach into his office. “I’m due for a colonial affairs committee meeting. You’re here about the Mintaka claim. Which one of you is…Vechkov Prague?”

The Ungstiri raises a hand – the one with a tube of moss in it.

“That’s the material, is it?” Quinlan asks.

“It is,” Prague answers.

“We’re calling it Mintaka 001,” the minister states.

“Catchy,” the detective quips.

Sionnach shifts uncomfortably, looking around the room, not quite as if searching for an escape hatch. He seems more than happy to let the detective do the talking. He’s just happy he hasn’t broken anything. Yet.

“So that’s it,” Quinlan says, tapping out a sequence on his PDA. “The claim is registered. Leave your sample on the desk, please. Our experts will confirm the nutritional value. If we decide to move forward with a contract, my staff will be in touch. Good day.”

Prague tilts his head. Grunts. He sets the tube on the desk. Nods to Sionnach. “Guess we’re done.”

The pilot seems completely mystified as to what has just transpired. “That’s it?” he asks, blinking.

The red-haired woman ushers them out of the office, back into the corridor, and down the hall toward the lobby. She says, “As the minister indicated, we’ll be in touch once we’ve verified just how useful this food substance is for our potential colonization efforts.”

Sionnach nods absently to the woman as he finds himself in the corridor. “That’s it?” he asks of Vechkov.

“That’s it,” Prague confirms as the woman hustles away. She joins Quinlan as he walks down the corridor toward one of the hive of conference rooms. “If they want what we’re selling, then I guess we’ll get a contract to sign.” He shrugs. “Back to the spaceport, then. Drink? I’m buying.”

“Guess so,” replies the Pyracani, still flummoxed, “Seems like that was a conversation you could’ve had over comms, but … whatever works for you people. Aside from a drink, what’s the plan, now?”

Vechkov slides into the back of the waiting car while the Castori watches, blinking dark eyes. The detective squints. “It’s not just the brevity of the meeting that was weird, come to think of it. No one screened the tube. The gang on the Rucker took a lot more precautions, and that’s a fuel tanker – not the cradle of Consortium civilization.”

Sionnach climbs in, frowning, “Glad I’m not the only one who thought so,” he says, “But hopefully we didn’t just kill of the entire planet.”

The Castori chortles as he gets into the driver’s seat. “The building’s internal and external sensor systems completed full scans of you and your cargo before you entered the minister’s office. Had you any ill intent, or had the organic material proven hazardous, the local defenses would have been activated.”

Vechkov peers out the window as the car pulls away from the government center. “Huh. Good to know.”

“Seriously,” Sionnach replies, blinking a few times. He shifts uncomfortably in the rear seat, though continues to look out the windows.

The car returns to the Drescher Interstellar Spaceport, where the Castori opens the rear door for the offworlders. Moments later, Prague and Sionnach walk through the lobby. The detective leads Sionnach in Palazzo’s Pub and finds a corner table. “Might as well be comfortable while we wait,” he says.

“Sure enough,” the Pyracani replies, grinning. He looks around as he settles into a chair. “Never seen so many of you guys before. It’s a bit weird…”

“What’s weird about it?” Prague asks. A server bot whirs up to the table. He orders a vodka. The bot waits patiently for Sionnach.

“Not really sure,” the Pyracani says. He orders some sort of beer from the bot before turning back to Prague. “Even Ungstir doesn’t have so many,” he adds.

“Oxygen’s in much more limited supply on Ungstir,” Prague says. The bot returns with the drinks. “Makes people talk less too. Nice, right?”

“Guess so,” the Pyracani replies with a grimace. He sips at the beer quietly for a moment before speaking again. “Well,” he says, “I have to say that I didn’t imagine my trip to your part of space would be this interesting…”

“Oh, come on,” Vechkov says, chuckling. “Your homeworld’s got to be at least this fascinating.” He gestures with his vodka glass at one of the potted plants. “Some of your flowers are probably even real.”

“Well, yeah,” Sionnach replies with a nod, “We have plenty of flowers. And my own world is great. You should try it some time. Still, didn’t think I’d be flying around nowhere carting moss.”

It’s about this time that Prague’s PDA chimes. He taps a button, checking the incoming message. Bushy eyebrows inch upward. He almost smiles. “We’re in business. The claim’s approved and the Consortium’s fronting 750,000 credits in seed money to get the operation started on Mintaka. Once we’re online…” He continues reading the offer memo. “Three million in finishing funds to complete any planetside and orbital facilities. After that, we’re expected to strike deals with new colonies as they’re founded.” Prague lifts his glass in salute to Sionnach. “The Pride’s getting some upgrades.”

“Starting with a new hyperdrive?” the caninoid replies, raising his bottle with a toothy grin, “Congratulations, boss.” Clink.

[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.

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