Omar Panderyn walks in from the west corridor, accompanied as usual by Crumpton, who says, “Well, I’ll make sure the next installment is transmitted to your station terminal by the time your shuttle arrives.”

Panderyn just frowns at Crumpton, saying, “I don’t know why you bother. I’ve made clear that I can’t abide the clear abuse of multiuniversal physics involved in the existence of creatures that can just make themselves out of nothingness and bounce around from place to place like the quantum equivalent of a dandelion.”

“Fortunately not too badly, and I gather it was quite accidental.” Tilsworth says. “A risk when one runs a test using live ammunition.” he says, as he opens a carrying bag that is in his open suitcase an unzips it. Inside is a brand new Dell laptop, complete with cryo-cooling. He checks the accessories before re-zipping it.

Kinako bows politely as the other two men approach. “Panderyn-sama. Crumpton-san,” she says, before returning to checking the medical supply crate. “It is always better to be safe, Lionheart-san. If I may ask, what is the nature of your survival kit? Is it rated for out of atmosphere environments?”

Maxwell nods again, satisfied that his luggage still contains his laptop, and assorted personal things, closing it again. “Afternoon.”

Omar Panderyn clasps his hands behind his back as he regards the group. “Afternoon, all. No funny-looking dolls in your luggage this time, I hope?”

“I’d seen enough of them during our last voyage.” Tilsworth says with a chuckle. “No, simply clothes, medicines, writing utensils, paper, my computer and PDA, and my classical music.”

Raynaldus nods to Kinako. “It’s a standard Vanguard survival kit miss Kinako. And yes I made sure it’s rated for out of atmosphere envirements. Everything I have with me is double checked to work or function on the spacestation.”

“Mr. Crumpton, proceed with a scan of each piece of luggage,” Panderyn says. He smiles faintly at Tilsworth and the others before adding, “Nothing personal, but we don’t want to wind up on Ulm Station with a bomb, gun, or some other nastiness in our cargo, do we?”

Kinako doesn’t look like she’s going to dignify Omar’s commentary with a response.

Maxwell nods, fairly secure in the knowledge that a laptop, a few notebooks, pens, clothes, and a couple puzzle books are unlikely to cause much alarm. “Quite.”

Panderyn’s assistant nods curtly to the group, then takes out a handheld device that allows him to scan each suitcase and cargo crate assembled for the journey to Ulm Station. He’ll pause if he gets to a point where the device bleeps annoyingly.

Tilsworth opens up both his suitcases for Crumpton to scan them. “I must admit I am getting rather excited for this voyage. It has been some time since I have been in space and I do enjoy the trip.”

Raynaldus has a set of four heavy duty crates, each are hand crafted and made of a strong and light synthetic material. There also water proof, air tight sealed and made to withstand heavy impact hits. Each crate has the heraldry of the Lionheart Royal family on it. Despite their solid appearance each would be easy to scan without much trouble. In the first crate the scan shows there are clothing in it as well as 2 bulletproof vests and an atmosphere Suit. In crate 2 the scan shows different types of tools like one can expect to find in the tool chest of an all-round engineer. In crate 3 it shows a humanoid robot with 3 brand new alienware laptops with backup drives and holographic display and control units. Crate 4 however might set of the alarm or it might not since this crate contains one modified vanguard Sniper rifle, a .45 handgun and a set of none lethal ammunitions. Last would be Raynaldus’ hand baggage which is a lightweight backpack version of the crates and contains a pair of PDA’s basic medical kit and standard issue vanguard survival kit.

Kinako stands beside her luggage, hands clasped loosely in front of her. The mid-sized piece of luggage contains clothing, feminine hygiene/personal care products, a tatami mat, and a foldable holo-go board. The medical case has several compact design devices in it, all set in individual foam recesses. The inventory includes, along with the standard Western medical loadout: a low-to-zero-gee rated electroacupuncture kit, a kinesiotherapy print-scan device and accompanying stock cartridges, rolls of silver-infused hydrocolloid bandage, a pre-loaded and sealed Kampo medicinal dispensary, collapsible ultrasonic diagnostic scanner, and a sterile hot-stone warmer with conductive silicone grip pads. Her purse contains… purse things. Keys, PDA, small first aid kit, wallet, prayer beads, et cetera.

The scanner bleeps in alarm as it passes over the fourth crate with Raynaldus. Crumpton arches an eyebrow and orders the engineer: “Open it.”

Tilsworth raises an eyebrow as the scanner beeps. Meanwhile he re-adjusts the inventory of his luggage, which in detail includes: A laptop computer, a PDA, two spare sets of glasses, a cane, five sets of clothing, 10 reams of writing paper, a clipboard, a large pack of pens, a dozen disks of classical music, and a 2 year supply of his various medications.

Raynaldus nods and walks to his fourth crate. He opens a small compartment which contains a number pad and a keyhole. Puts in key and types in a long number which he hides from people as best he can. Then he turns the key and as he does, locks all around the crate open up alowing the lid to be opened. He opens the crate slowly, allowing Crumpton to see its content. “Just my sniper rifle and handgun along with some non-lethal ammunitions I thought I’d take along in case any big trouble comes knocking on the door. So to speak.” He says. “After what happened with the test I’d rather not take any chances. What we’re going to do up there is important I don’t want anyone to take it away and abuse it.”

Omar Panderyn strides over to peer into the gun-infested luggage. His brow furrows. He fixes his gaze on Raynaldus and asks, as bluntly as one might expect: “What the actual fuck, sir? Are you working on a faster-than-light drive or taking on invaders from Mars?” He gets a closer look at the handgun. “Slugthrowers? In a cramped and delicate orbital habitat?”

Maxwell raises an eyebrow as he transfers his pda from a pocket into his luggage. “Expecting gremlins?”

Tilsworth raises both eyebrows at this. “My good sir… I have no doubt your intentions were innocent, but alas, your choice of protection is quite dangerous in both an enclosed, and high oxygen, environment… indeed, if one were to ignite an oxygen line, or even the pressure of the powder carge were to break a window, we would be subject to a very quick death by sudden decompression.”

Kinako makes a tiny little scrunch of her face at the guns and language, but otherwise reserves comment.

Raynaldus nods to the comment. “I Understand what you mean. But what if we get intruders. Do you think they will come in without any weapons? They can do the same thing.”

“Mr. Crumpton, confiscate the weapons and re-pack the crates,” Panderyn says, crossing his arms. He favors Rayndalus with a grimace. “We will discuss this more, at length, aboard Ulm Station. On the way, perhaps you would be wise to ponder such concepts as chain of command and proper clearances.” He grunts, then says, “To the orbiter, people. We launch soon.”

Tilsworth re-secures his luggage and begins to wheel it through the gates. “Onwards and upwards. Destiny awaits.”

Maxwell secures his luggage and follows along, still with that bounce in his step.

Kinako takes the handle of her own small luggage cart in hand, and pads along silently behind the group.

Raynaldus nods and watches the crate and weapons be confiscated. “My apologies for the inconvenience, I should have talked with you about security on the station before taking this crate along. I just hope we won’t get a moment where we wish we had them anyway.” He says and then follows along with the 3 remaining crates and his hand baggage.

Omar Panderyn appeared content to let the topic drop for now, clasping hands behind his back as he walked toward the terminal gates. But the subordinate’s insistence on a back-handed apology gets the wrong kind of attention. Panderyn stops, squares his shoulders, and turns to glower at Raynaldus. “Non-lethal ammunition, yes? Rubber bullets? That’s what you packed with your guns?”

Tilsworth stops as Omar stops, looking back to Raynaldus and quietly shaking his head.

Kinako also stops, blinks, and takes a moment to rummage a long string of polished stone beads from her purse. These she presses, one at a time, between forefinger and thumb, murmuring quietly to herself as she waits.

Maxwell stops, not wanting to bang into Tilsworth. An eyebrow raised further as he does.

Raynaldus thinks for a moment at panderyn’s question. “Rubber bullets and sleeping darts.” he replies. “The rubber bullets shouldn’t damage the station. But I’m not sure what the darts will do. They shouldn’t be able to penetrate metal thought, but I’m not sure about glas.”

“So as long as our invaders come in naked and unarmored, you’d be all over them? Yes, I do hope we never come to regret not going along with *your* wisdom,” Panderyn replies with a smirk. “Lionheart, maybe. Stonebrain, to be sure.” He turns toward Crumpton and says, “I’ll see you in a few weeks.”

Kinako bows to Mister Crumpton as they turn to leave. “Sayonara, Crumpton-san.” She looks over the motley crew led by its overseer, who has somehow managed to be motley even in a solitary capacity. “Kami wa watashitachi o tasukeru.”

The group is led to a Mark VII orbital shuttle, comfortable, yet functional. The terminal gate is flush against its side and the luggage is secured inside the shuttle’s rear cargo area. The seats are cushioned and well secured. Tilsworth finds a seat and belts in.

Maxwell plops down in a nice window seat, and buckles in. He looks far too excited.

Raynaldus doesn’t respond to Panderyn’s last words and instead follows along towards the shuttle. He then sits in one of the back seats also near a window and buckles in. He looks outside but seems to be in thoughts.

Kinako also seeks out a window seat and buckles herself in before clicking the prayer beads between her fingers a few more times, then stowing them carefully in her purse.

The shuttle rumbles slightly as the ground maneuvering engines start up. A slight jolt as the shuttle backs up from the gate and begins to taxi to the orbital launch ramps. As it approaches the ramp, the pilot carefully steers it until a soft thump is heard as the front landing gear locks into the launcher’s catapult. The shuttle then gets quiet as the ground manuevering engines are shut off.

Tilsworth settles himself securely in the seat in anticipation of what comes next. “Now comes the fun part.”

Omar Panderyn settles into a seat directly across the aisle from Raynaldus. He fastens his buckle, then glances over at the engineer and says, “That Everglades thing was just a drill, you know. It wasn’t real. Vannie soldiers played the Swampers. Our danger won’t be from someone trying to bust in the front door of Ulm Station. It’s going to be hackers trying to uplink bad things to our systems.”

Maxwell leans back in his seat, and shifts his gaze to the window.

Raynaldus snaps from his thoughts as Omar speaks to him and nods. “Not real, eh? Had I known that I might have had second thoughts about taking that one crate along. Sadly I can’t help you against hackers. That’s not my field.”

The quiet in the shuttle is then interrupted by a tremendous surge of acceleration that reaches 12 Gs as the shuttle is accelerated down the launch rail. The trip is thankfully short as the shuttle reaches the end, angles up and is catapulted free from the rail. However, the respite from the high G forces is over quickly as the shuttle’s main engines engage accelerating the shuttle upwards to break free of Earth’s gravity and head to orbit.

Tilsworth is slammed back into the seat cushion, struggling hard to keep his eyeballs from sinking into his head as the shuttle is launched.

“Always. Hate. This. Part,” Panderyn slowly spits out as an invisible fist shoves him hard toward the back of the shuttle.

Maxwell doesn’t look to appreciate this particular section, but he’s still got that smile.

Kinako closes her eyes, gripping the armrest with trembling hands. No checking out the view right now, that’s for certain. Her lips move with some effort, working laboriously through the syllables: “Gyatei. Gyatei. Haragyatei. Haraso-gyatei. Boji Sowaka.”

“What the….” Raynaldus says as he is pressed back into his seat as well. He looks as surprised as anyone having their first ride into space.

Within a few minutes, however, the intense trip is over as the clouds thin and give way to the darkness of space. Now free to maneuver, the shuttle alters course and begins to head towards the orbiting Ulm Station, the engines shutting off as the shuttle switches to maneuvering jets. Halfway towards the station, the shuttle turns around so that the engines are facing the direction of the station, and begins firing short bursts as it decelerates to prepare for docking.

Omar Panderyn adjusts himself in the seat once gravity stops thrashing him like a fat mugger. “Gonna need a nap.”

Raynaldus takes a deep breath onces the gravity stops and the rought part of the trip is over. “Did I miss a message or briefing where they warn you for the roughness of the ride?”

“Ah, the simulator at the university had moderately less pressure,” Kinako murmurs, taking a while to open her eyes again. “The, ah, real thing? More uncomfortable.” There is a long pause. “Is it safe to move?”

Maxwell shifts in his seat to look out the window better.

Before much longer, the shuttle has completed docking with Ulm Station’s port. A woman’s voice comes across the public address system – those who were aboard the bus to the Everglades should recognize Zarapella. She says, “All right, folks, it’s safe to unstrap, grab your belongings, and transfer to Ulm Station. I’ll stay docked for the night, make sure you’ve got all you need, but then I’m back to Earth in the morning.”

Raynaldus nods hearing the voice and unstraps himself. “I wonder where we can put our belongings. Will we have our own rooms to put them in or not?” He says carefully standing up and tries to move around to see how the gravity is affecting him up here. If at all.

Kinako carefully unstraps herself, keeping a one-handed grip on an armrest until she, too, can gauge the gravity. Once things have ‘settled,’ she moves back towards the luggage compartment to make sure that their luggage made the trip safely

Omar Panderyn laughs as he unbuckles and starts drifting forward. No artificial gravity at this point. “Our own rooms? That’s adorable.” He opens the hatch leading to the station airlock and proceeds through.

Maxwell undoes his belt and drifts along as he gets his bearings..

Raynaldus nods to Omar. “That’s a no then, I figured as much. Then where do we store our luggage?” he asks staying near his seat letting the others take their luggage first. Clearly he is not worried about the condition his luggage is in.

“Come aboard and get a look for yourself,” Panderyn says. He activates the inner airlock door, granting access to Ulm Station, and pulls himself through. Omar Panderyn floats through the main cabin, then maneuvers himself into one of the console seats and straps himself in for at least a modicum of normalcy. He starts perusing the controls. “I have a vague idea what about sixty percent of these buttons do.” Panderyn jerks his head toward the fore hatch. “Crew compartment’s that way. Cozy and small. I’ll let you pick bunks before I do.” Next he nods toward aft. “FTL lab’s in there. Get a look around. Make yourselves at home.”

By Brody

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