Traveller T20: Tales of the Bray Keaven [Updated 12-20-05]
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  1. #1

    Traveller T20: Tales of the Bray Keaven [Updated 12-20-05]

    This story hour is compiled from a Traveller T20 play-by-Email campaign that started more than three years ago (Nov. 2002), and is still going strong.

    The posts will consist primarily of the players' original game posts. I will serve as editor, and will make minor changes for grammar, spelling, and clarity.

    The original Referee was Paul Smith. Ron Vutpakdi took over as Ref three months into the game. Several of the characters have been run by more than one player as participants have come and gone, depending upon the demands of Real Life.
    Last edited by Shadowdancer; Tuesday, 20th December, 2005 at 12:39 PM.

  2. #2

    Date: 100-993
    Location: Warehousing and fuel depot on Urlainn in the Alief system, Linkworlds Cluster, Ley Sector, Gateway Domain.

    The comm sounded in the drive room, interrupting the steady stream of curses. Martha Smythe hit the accept button. "What." Fatigue made her voice flat.

    "Martha, prep for lift. We’re out of here," Trader Captain Wilson said matter–of–factly.

    "No way, I still haven’t found the flutter in the jump drive initialize, there’s a liquid hydrogen leak, and I’ve been in this God–forsaken out–of–date piece–of–junk suit for the last 24 hours. There’s no way the ship’s ready to lift. Also the cargo has just finished unloading and they haven’t started loading the next one."

    "I know the state of the drive and cargo, we are lifting ASAP. Do it."

    Martha mused, "This was the first time the airthief had abandoned a potential profit, it must be something fairly big." The stream of curses resumed as she turned back to the drive.

    Three hours later the Free Trader Bray Keaven floated well clear of Urlainn and Wilson walked into the drive room in full vacc suit. The intense cold of the venting hydrogen filled the room and obscured the engineer working on the drive itself.

    "I thought you said that you’d fixed the vent," Wilson said.

    "Yup, it’s fixed," came Martha’s reply. "It’ll still take about three hours before the room warms up enough that I can take this blasted suit off and have my first proper scratch in two days. Now that we are away from the port, why are we leaving so soon?"

    "Well, it’s a little complicated. You know there’s a full–scale war going on down on Alief."

    "They’ve finally kicked off a big one? I thought they were just going to keep playing tit–for–tat forever." Martha didn’t sound particularly interested; dirt farmers were often having little tiffs, as long as they stayed down the well, she was perfectly unconcerned.

    "This one is a little different," Wilson said. "As well as the normal range of nukes, they have all started getting sick. So far it’s still contained on the planet but I’m a little nervous."

    "I just don’t fancy trying a jump till I’ve run a full second stage test. But the early result looks good."

    "We don’t have time, I want to be out of here before the port authority does anything silly," the ship’s captain said. "One of the customs crew came down with a cough recently, and with everyone being so nervous, the port master could declare a clamp down."

    "You’re the boss. If we try the jump, I’ll watch everything and abort if I don’t like the look of it. I’m not going to let you send us walking into the Black."

    "Just so long as you don’t abort unless you actually see something wrong. I don’t want to take a misstep either, but I want to be out of here." With that the Captain left the room.

    All alone with her thoughts Martha thought for a long time. She didn’t like the Captain, he had always paid too much attention to irrelevancies and not enough to the ship, but he had never been this careless before. Her curiosity itched away at her until she wandered over to comm and hit the eavesdrop she had installed two years ago. Now she could here what was happening in range of any of the intercoms. She caught the end of a conversation. The Captain’s voice was raised in anger:

    " . . . care how you do it, I want that message wiped. If we didn’t receive it, then we haven’t done anything wrong. Just purge it and we’re scott free."

    The reply was too far from the intercom but Martha had no doubt that the Supercargo, despite being a stickler for the rules, would do the captains bidding — loyalty ran strong in the Bray Company.

    Two minutes later, the jump warning came through and the drive performed beautifully. All the time she was hoping for a flutter so she could abort, but without knowing what had really happened, the engines were her only concern.

    Eight hours later, just as Martha was about to climb out of her vacc suit and crash into bed, the Captain collapsed, vomiting blood. He died before they could get him to a med kit.

    By the time the ship left jump space 169 hours later, Martha was the only surviving crewman and had been in her suit for nine days straight.

    Date: 107-993
    Location: Insystem at Sentry, Linkworlds Cluster.

    Aboard the Customs Cruiser "Flit" (Gazelle Class), the "Alert" sounds and the crew slams into their positions. The Captain, still in her leotard from exercise, listens to the steady reports of ready systems pouring into the bridge. "Well, why are we at alert?" she finally asks, after all stations report in.

    The Comm Officer responds, "A Far Trader arrived outsystem from Alief and responded to hail. When it came in, the computer triggered a full alert. Apparently they have a type D illness." The Comm Officer’s voice was hushed with dread.

    "You know I can never remember things like that, will someone tell me what a type D is."

    "Ma’am, type D is 100% mortality, unknown vector. Apparently there’s a bug over there that is killing everything it meets and they have no idea how it is spreading."

    Two hours later, the four jump–capable warships docked at Sentry departed to the corners of the cluster to impose a full quarantine. The Marquis had declared an Imperial emergency and every commercial vessel was under immediate imperial charter. They would be jumping out as a fleet to Alief to investigate and bring aid.
    Last edited by Shadowdancer; Wednesday, 5th November, 2003 at 02:18 AM.

  3. #3
    Dramatis Personae

    The crew of the Bray Keaven [name, position(s), character class(es)]:

    Marcus Argent, captain, Navy 6/Scout 2

    Emile Vargas, pilot/engineer, Scout 5

    Martha Smythe, engineer, Merchant 2/Professional 1

    Vasilii Kugiikiishshi, supercargo/astrogator, Merchant 4

    Saro Talbek, M.D., ship’s doctor, Academic 4/Professional 3/Traveller 1

    Darishun, medic, Scout 4

    Ian McConnell, ship’s security officer, Marine 8

    Swann Hellinic, ship’s gunner/electrician/mechanic/computer expert, Belter 4/Rogue 6

    Darishun is a Virushi, a large sophont resembling a cross between a Terran rhinoceros and a the centaurs of myth. These strong, intimidating sophonts are surprisingly gentle and pacifistic. The rest of the characters are humans.

    Stat blocks and backgrounds for the characters can be found here in the Rogues Gallery.

    A map of the Linkworlds Cluster can be found in Morte's excellent Kursis Chater Traveller story hour. It is the third post in the story hour.

    Last edited by Shadowdancer; Monday, 10th November, 2003 at 11:34 AM.

  4. #4
    Chapter I

    Date: 109-993
    Location: Aboard the Bray Keaven, in orbit around Sentry.

    Martha wakes up from her first proper sleep in nearly two weeks. Sleeping in a vacc suit had been horribly uncomfortable, particularly the low–tech monstrosity that she used. The vacc suit is lying on the floor of her cabin and she can hear sounds of activity within the ship. She can vaguely remember letting some naval people onboard before she collapsed from exhaustion.

    Out in the passageway she staggers to a halt confronted by the back of some enourmous beast. An "Eeek!" of terror escapes her.

    "Oh, I'm sorry good lady. I was just doing a little work on the door to this turret. The iris valve seems to be stuck permanently open. It's so much fun to be shipboard again, I hope you didn't mind, but I've been going over the ship looking at all the little things that need work, there is so much to do, it just fills my heart with joy." The Virushi's voice booms out and rocks her back on her heels. How could she have slept while the great thing was wandering arround her ship?

    In Truespeech Martha interrupts. "I hate to ask silly questions, but do I know you and what are you doing on the Keaven? No, first what's happening?" She is thankful for the year she spent working on a Virushi trader which left her without the fear that their dominating bulk normally engendered and a reasonably solid grasp of the language.

    "Oh you speak so well. Reminds me of home a little to hear Truespeech again. I kind of miss the old place, but there's so much to see first . . . Sorry. I'm Darishun and we're all going off to rescue people from a plague that has swept the spaceways killing all that it comes in contact with. Ooo it's so exciting. So far you are the only one that's survived to bring us warning, I'm so looking forward to working with a genuine hero. Did you hear that the Traveller's Aid Society has awarded you a membership in recognition? We haven't really worked out who is doing what yet, the rest of the crew is still familiarizing themselves with the ship before we jump out, but I thought I would just jump right in."

    "I'll just go and call into the bridge and see what's happening," Martha says. She steps through into the cargo hold, closes the door behind her and draws a sigh of relief. Virushii, they needed an off switch, she thinks. When she opens her eyes again, she realizes the cargo bay is full. Stacked from floor to ceiling are standard shipping containers. Near the middle, one of the container doors is folded back and someone is inside. "Hello," she calls.

    A tall, slightly portly man turns around. He gives her a big smile of welcome and she feels herself relax. So far both of the people she has met have seemed nice; nobody has explained anything yet, but they seem to know what they were doing. "It's good to see you up and about," the man says. "There was some concerns when you slept for so long, but it was just exhaustion. I examined you and you were just very tired. No need to look like that, I'm a doctor. Dr. Saro Talbek, there's a bunch of letters after the name, but it doesn't really matter. I'm in charge of the medical aspects of this trip."

    "Maybe I'm just tired, but I'm not sure what trip I'm on."

    "I’ve had times like that. The Marquis Hallenstein has declared an emergency and everything that could fly is on its way to Alief to help with the plague. I suppose I shouldn't say, but I'm not entirely comfortable with the crew. I don't know where they were collected from, but they're a very mixed bag. I'm very happy with the Captain — apparently Lieutenant Argent has served with both Navy and Scouts, and he seems very switched on, but I don't know where they found the rest of them. Anyway, you don't really care about that. First thing is, get some food into you, a couple more days of light duties and you should be right as rain. Try to stay out of trouble."

    Martha nods goodbye as she heads towards the crew lounge. On the way past she notices a small, locked container. The tag on the front says Hellinic, but it isn't clear whether it contains hellinic, is bound for Hellinic or belongs to Hellinic. If the supplies are emergency medical ones, they should all be unlocked for immediate access. She enters the crew lounge to the scene of an arguement.

    "I don't care Swann, I'm not having any high–powered weaponary live on the ship. I didn't think you should have brought them up in the first place, but by the time I found out, it was too late. If you need them, I can open the container. Until then they are under lock and key." The speaker is a small man, dressed in leather jacket, covered in patches. The name badge on the jacket says "Argent."

    This must be the captain that the Marquis had assigned, Martha thinks. Seems to have his head screwed on right, guns shouldn’t be allowed onboard ship at all. Then Martha notices the high–powered pistol at his side.

    "But if I need them, you might not be around to open the box," the other man says. "Guns are the sorts of things that you need in a hurry, you can't be spending your time looking for someone to help you."

    "There is no conceiveable emergency onboard the ship for the next week that needs that sort of firepower."

    "But you carry a pistol. How is that different? You can't have one set of rules for you and a different one for everyone else."

    "I was presented this pistol by the people of Ileria after fighting pirates. If I didn't wear it they would be offended, and I trust myself not to fire the pistol where it can do any harm to the ship. I don't trust your knowledge of the ship yet. Anyway, the Captain does have a different set of rules to everyone else. That's just the way things are."

    Swann turns and storms out past Martha. He gives the lock on the container a thoughtful look as he goes past.

    Martha greets the captain. "Hello. Just so you know, there isn't anywhere that you can fire that overpowered monster on this ship where it won't do any damage. The walls are just heavy enough to break your line of sight."

    "Yes I know, but I won't be parted from my pistol. I won't fire it, but with a scratch crew, I much prefer having the only real gun." Argent doesn't seem apologetic.

    "Do you mind if I eat, I'm starving," Martha says.

    "Go ahead, it's time I had something as well. Afterwards I'll introduce you round to the crew. While we eat, tell me more about the trip."
    Last edited by Shadowdancer; Friday, 21st November, 2003 at 01:36 PM.

  5. #5
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    I'm a lurker in the PBEM version of this. It's great to see how it started. I'm looking forward to the rest.

  6. #6
    Swann strides down the passageway, looking for his assigned cabin, still angry with the Captain, what was his name? Argent. "Damn military and their frellin’ rules and regulations," Swann says to himself. "Everyone always giving orders and acting important. If he’s so important, why’s he in charge of a crappy little ship like this?

    "He acts as if he doesn’t even trust me. It’s not like I was planning on shooting him or anyone else aboard. Unless they try to hijack the ship. You can never be too careful. You need to be prepared for any possibility. If you’re not prepared, you’re dead. Oh well," he says, smiling as he pats the body pistol inside the special, hidden holster sewn into the inner lining of his jacket. "I still have options. And if I have to, I can get through that lock. If it comes down when we get to Alief, I'll bet Captain Argent would be the first one coming to me, wanting a little extra firepower. Well, he’s not getting any of my weapons. He'll just have to make do with his precious prized peashooter."

    Locating the cabin, Swann opens the door, goes inside and starts to stow away his gear. His thoughts turn to the upcoming mission. "What have I gotten myself into this time? Some virus is killing people, and I'm jumping right into the middle of it. I ought to be jumping the other way, looking for a nice sterile bunker to hole up inside. And I wanted to leave my exciting ‘line of work’ behind, do something nice and safe. Now I’m on a humanitarian mission that could get me killed. Wouldn’t that be ironic? After all of the scrapes I've been in, all the tight spots, all the near misses. Then my conscience starts to bother me, I try to become a good citizen, and I end up dead. I need my frellin’ head examined."


    Ian finishes his last set of isometrics and stands up, wiping the sweat from his torso. It’d always been tough to keep in shape shipboard, but he suspects it is going to be harder than usual this trip: first, the Bray Keaven doesn't look to have much in the way of training spaces and second, it wasn’t likely that anyone on the crew would be willing to train Marine–style.

    "Well, I’d better get used to it, I'm back on civvie street for good


    After a quick ’fresher, he dresses and heads for the bridge: "Better check in with the Captain and see what’s up."

    As he exits the cabin, someone stalks by, muttering quietly "I still have options. And if I have to, I can get through that lock. If it comes down . . . " the voice trails off as the man moves away down the corridor.

    Ian looks on in surprise -- the man, his ‘crewmate,’ obviously hadn’t

    seen him. "What was that all about?’ he wonders. "I’ll have to keep my eye on that one."

    Turning in the opposite direction, he makes his way to the bridge, knocks and enters.

    "Captain Ian McConnell, Imperial Marines, reporting for duty, Sir!" A lifetime's habit starts a salute, but he catches himself in time -- civvie street, he reminds himself.


    "Do you mind if I eat, I’m starving," said Martha.

    "Go ahead, it’s time I had something as well. Afterwards I’ll introduce you round to the crew. While we eat, tell me more about the trip," replies Argent.

    Argent retrieves a meal pack after Martha retrieves hers. "I understand you were on one of the last ship’s out of Alief. Let’s get the rest of the group in here so you can tell us what was up from your point of view."

    Argent walks toward the intercom. At this point, McConnell strolls


    The Captain looks at Ian and sees a tall human with sandy–colored hair, gray, almost colorless eyes, and a fair complexion. The face was unremarkable, but one thing does catch his notice -- the man is missing his left ear! Argent wonders what the story behind that is.

    "At ease, Mr. McConnell. I haven’t been a swabbie in a while, although the discipline is appreciated after some discussion I’ve had in the recent past. Just a moment."

    Argent moves to the nearest intercom. "Attention all crew members, this is Marcus Argent. Report to the wardro. . . . er, crew lounge if you are not otherwise more involved in other tasks so we can start to get our bearings here. I'm sure some of you could also use a break at this point. Argent out."

    He turns to McConnell. "Grab something to eat or drink, Mr. McConnell and settle in while we await everyone else’s arrival."

    While he starts to grab a few bites of his meal, Argent checks the computer terminal in the lounge for an estimated time for launch, any further information on the mission, and a quick look at the crew roster.


    "Captain Ian McConnell, Imperial Marines, reporting for duty, Sir!" echoes down the corridor as Darishun ambles towards the crew lounge. He chuckles to himself and shakes his massive head with a smile. "These humans, always so enamored of pecking orders and position," he thinks. "Too much like a shivok with their petty concerns, squawking at each other in the forests of home."

    Then, another typically human pronouncement reverberates from the ship intercoms: "Attention all crew members, this is Marcus Argent. Report to the wardro. . . . er, crew lounge if you are not otherwise more involved in other tasks so we can start to get our bearings here. I'm sure some of you could also use a break at this point. Argent out."

    "Yes, definitely shivok." Darishun is briefly tempted to turn around and head in the other direction on general principle except that he is in the middle of a typically narrow human corridor with no room to turn around, and he is headed toward the lounge to get something to eat anyway.

    As Darishun enters the room, a couple of the current occupants either take an involuntary step back or at least have a brief look of panic around the eyes as is typical upon early encounters with a Virushi. Darishun shakes his head sadly for a moment, and then does his best "Really, I’m a friendly Virushi" smile which, after long years of practice, ends up being only slightly alarming in the massive head.

    Darishun’s soft voice wisps out, only sotto voce in this thin (to a Virushi) atmosphere, "Greetings, gentlebeings. May I join you?"

    Note: Virushi voiceboxes are designed for a dense atmosphere. In normal atmospheres, their voices end up being rather soft, generally ranging from what sounds like a whisper to sotto voce (or normal voice, if they are yelling). Oddly, the softer voice ends up locking the attention, particularly coming from such a large creature.

    Last edited by Shadowdancer; Friday, 21st November, 2003 at 01:42 PM.

  7. #7
    Vasilii crawls out of his bunk and hangs his head low. He is still angry and frustrated about the events of the past 50 hours. He had just signed on with Bray Shipping when an emergency comm dispatch advised that the Imperium had commandeered all starships and a huge number of the able crew personnel in the Sentry star system.

    When the crew assignments were made, Vasilii's true talents were overlooked and he was assigned to cargo. Cargo! What a disaster! Trying to organize the loading of cargo with the Port Authority was like talking to a plasma conduit. They just kept loading: "Urgent supplies," they said. "To save lives," they said.

    It would take Vasilii a good 24 hours to sort this mess, to sort what supplies they had and to catalog their locations. And where’s the profit? Not a single container of merchandise was aboard. Vasilii protested, but even the Captain of this ancient merchantman would not hear of it. "The Captain," Vasilii chuckles to himself, "a Scout in charge of a merchantman. What a travesty."

    As for the rest of the crew -- an odd bunch. This is not the life Vasilii had imagined.

    Vasilii washes up then heads down to the cargo deck with a PPC (portable personal computer) in his hand. He is surprised to see the Doctor in the cargo deck. Vasilii, feeling much better, decides to lighten up.

    Inside the cargo bay of the Bray Keavan, Doc Saro stands engrossed in his self-appointed task of compiling a list of the medical supplies that had been rushed onboard amongst all the other cargo. If there is one thing he hates, it’s being caught unaware of what he did or did not have at hand, usually at the most inopportune times, like in the middle of emergency surgery. Hearing someone moving inside the cargo bay, Doc looks up, half-expecting to see the engineer, Martha, again. Instead, however, he recognizes Vasilii from their brief introduction when the crew was pooled together.

    "Dr. Talbek," Vasilii starts.

    Smiling in recognition, the Doc addresses Vasilii in Vilani, "I don't stand on too much ceremony, Mr. Kugiikiishshi. Please, call me Doc or Saro."

    Vasilii nods and continues, "I’ve not heard much details of what’s happening on Aleif. Something about a disease and a quarantine? Do you know anything about what happened? Is the Captain going to debrief us all?"

    A frown crosses the Doc’s face at mention of the disease, "I doubt I've heard much more than yourself. Based on what I've heard in passing, there was an outbreak of an especially virulent disease on Aleif that managed to spread onto at least one starship, and the local Marquis has quarantined the cluster in an attempt to contain the disease."

    "I’d love to get a sample of that bugger," Saro thinks. "I wonder how deadly it is to the non-humanitus races? That could give us the first handle on how to kill it."

    "Other than that, I'm in the dark as to the particulars," he says to Vasilii. "I would hope that the Captain has been briefed and will let us know. But you know how it goes – if you have a need to know, you won’t." Saro chuckles ruefully.

    Saro waves his handcomp over the containers, "I've just been trying to get an idea of what medical supplies were shoved aboard. I think I'm just about done with the medical stuff. Would you like a hand inventorying the rest?"

    Just then a voice comes over the ships intercom: "Attention all crew members, this is Marcus Argent. Report to the wardro . . . er, crew lounge if you are not otherwise more involved in other tasks so we can start to get our bearings here. I'm sure some of you could also use a break at this point. Argent out."

    Doc raises his eyebrows at the Vilani merchant. "Well then, I guess maybe we'll get that briefing after all." Saro makes a few last notes on his handcomp and heads towards the lounge.
    Last edited by Shadowdancer; Sunday, 9th November, 2003 at 04:52 PM.

  8. #8
    Chapter II

    Date: 109-993
    Location: Aboard the Bray Keaven, in orbit around Sentry.

    "Attention all crew members, this is Marcus Argent. Report to the wardro . . . er, crew lounge, if you are not otherwise more involved in other tasks so we can start to get our bearings here. I’m sure some of you could also use a break at this point. Argent out."

    Vargas drops his gear just inside the airlock but out of the way so that it isn't under foot. He pops the door on the vacc-rated carrier by his feet and holds out his palm. "Come on Rusti. It sounds like what passes for the captain around here wants to see us." The russet–furred creature scampers into Vargas’ hand and waits for the former Scout to lift it to his shoulder. "Lessee, lounge on a Far Trader should be. . . that way." He heads toward the elevator to the upper deck.


    Vasilii motions for the Doctor to lead the way to the lounge. Upon arriving at the lounge Vasilii asks, "Dr. Talbek, would you like a beverage?" (Vasilii’s Vilani habit of referring to someone by their title and last name gets the better of him).

    "Why yes, I’d be much obliged. I could sure use a Terran brandy, but
    I’d better stick with Javactose (brand name for a popular coffee–milk drink) for now."

    Vasilii prepares the beverages and takes a seat, nodding to the rest of the ship’s company.

    Doc takes the drink reverentially, takes a long sip and sighs deeply with satisfaction. "Now that sure does hit the spot." Looking over the rim of his mug, Saro glances around the room at the rest of the crew as he waits for the Captain to start off this little shin-dig.

    "What a cramped lounge," Vasilii ponders as he looks around the room. "Oh my, look at the size of that creature." Valilii has heard of Virushi but has never met one in person. "Shipboard security must be his position," he thinks.


    Darishun nods affably in response to Vasilii and decides to amble over to the food dispenser before the lounge gets too crowded for him to move. He retrieves two sandwiches and a large imitation fruit drink.

    Glancing around him, he then carefully backs up, making sure to keep his tail very still. Once in the clear, he sidles over to one wall and starts happily consuming his snack. "I wonder if the food stores have been expanded to take into account our larger–than–normal crew, possible inability to resupply from the surface for some time, and my own needs?" he wonders to himself.


    Swann straightens up from stowing his cold-weather clothing into a drawer in his cabin. "A meeting already. Guess I better go see what this party is all about. Don’t want to give Argent another reason to be upset with me. That might draw too much attention, and too many unwanted questions. Guess I better try to fit in with this mission, and try to come out of it alive."

    Before leaving his cabin, Swann takes his body pistol and hides it along with a set of his lockpicks. "Better leave this behind. Doubt I’ll need it. Yet." He leaves his blade hanging from his belt, grabs his hand comp and heads toward the crew lounge.

    Ducking through the hatchway into the lounge, Swann stops short as he sees an enormous creature standing against one wall, eating a sandwich. "What the frell?!" he thinks to himself. "Is that the ship mascot? Hope he’s housebroke. Wait, he appears intelligent. It must be a Virushi. I’d heard they’re big, but that thing needs its own ship. I wonder if it’s fully mature, or is still growing? This mission just keeps getting better and better."

    Swann goes over to the beverage dispenser, grabs a Hava Cola and, out of habit, finds a seat that places his back to the wall and all entrances within view. As he sips his cola, he looks over the other crew members. "Interesting bunch," he thinks. "The female’s cute. Looks like she’s been through a rough patch, though. The guy over by Argent looks like another ex–military. Great, more orders and procedures. The others look friendly enough. Maybe this won’t be too bad."


    Vargas slips into the crew lounge in what he hopes is an inconspicuous manner. Some people could be so touchy if their meetings are interrupted.

    The mix of beings in the room is interesting to say the least, especially the Virushi. Vargas had heard there was one in the Scouts hereabouts up until recently. The former Scout slouches against the doorframe and assumes his usual look of amused indifference. As is his way when indoors, Vargas picks the Antares Apocalypse boloball cap up off his head and turns it around so that the bill is facing backwards. He then rests one hand on the butt of his auto pistol at his waist. On his shoulder, Rusti, a brownish-red beaked monkey, settles into a more comfortable position on his battered flight jacket.
    Last edited by Shadowdancer; Friday, 21st November, 2003 at 01:49 PM.

  9. #9
    The crew quietly assembles in the lounge. Argent observes each as they enter. The first to arrive is the only non-human on board, a Virushi. The sophont takes up a large part of the lounge. The other crew members enter in ones and twos, including Swann Hellenic, the man he just had a confrontation with. He takes a last sip of his beverage and stands up.

    "Thank you for coming. Some of you I've met already. The others I am meeting for the first time. Welcome aboard.

    "My name is Marcus Argent, and I have been assigned as Captain for this mission. No, I am not a merchant; my background is in the Navy and, more recently, the Scouts.

    "You all know, to some degree, why we're here. The local Marquis has recruited us to assist in bringing badly needed supplies to Alief. Due to the urgency of the mission, he has commandeered every ship he can get his hands on and is staffing the vessels with every able-bodied sophont he can, which means a majority of the ships have crews who do not know each other. We have the distinct 'honor' to be on the last ship out of Alief before the plague quarantine went up.'

    "In the next several weeks, we have to depend upon each other. You don't have to like me or the person you are working with, but you DO have to work with them. We have a job to do, let's get it done. We'll also hopefully save a few thousand lives in the process.

    "I know, it's not much of a speech. If I was adept at speaking, I'd be off in the Moot.

    "One of the reasons I called us in together was to pool our information on what is going on at Alief. At this point we don't have a lot on that and we launch with the rest of the fleet in less than 24 standard hours. I'd first like to have our engineer give us an idea about the status of the ship, then ask if our medical officer has any information on this plague. We’ll then open the floor for further discussion."

    Argent looks at Martha. "Engineer Atkins, the floor is yours."

    Martha looks up from where she is hunched over her drink. "What sort of thing do you want?"

    Argent sighed. The people he had to work with. "What is the status of the drives? How are the ancillary systems?"

    "Oh, well, normally after each jump I take the powerplant down to a trickle for four days and work it over. The J drive is well past maintenance, but it's fairly reliable. In the last two months I've had to abort a jump twice ’cause the drives weren’t up to it. First time we developed an irregular field, second time one of the hydrogen lines burst. I figure the problem’s prob’ly in the pumps, but a complete strip would take two weeks and Cap’n refused to do it. Apparently he had a maintenance in the cards in about a month’s time. As long as we keep taking standard jumps and using good juice, it should be okay till then." She sits for a while in thought.

    "Well engineer, what else?" Argent's voice was flat -- this was not good news.

    " ’Kay, the life support’s pretty good, we don't normally carry this many people so it hasn't been stressed this much for a while, but it's been pretty good. The air raft is absolutely beautiful, Cap’n said it made a big impression on customers. The Brain is also pretty good. He sold out the original sensor rig but the one I patched together from the piece of junk he replaced it with is pretty good. It doesn’t quite meet the specs from the book, but it's not bad."

    Martha continues, "You said something about 24 hours. There's no way we’ll be jumping by then. I'm still knackered from the last stretch and the jump from Alief, it takes four days to work over the drive, that's just the way it goes, I can only go as fast as I can go."

    Martha doesn’t seem particularly upset by the comment. Argent takes a deep breath.

    Darishun inclines his head briefly to the side in sort of a measuring look at the engineer and then at Argent. Then, with a slight smile, he says "Perhaps then, we shall not be jumping with the fleet as planned. It would seem that there will be a bit of a delay unless we can either get engineering help or hurry things along ourselves."

    He continues, "A bit of delay would let us look at some other systems which seem to be in a bit of disrepair. Martha, is there something that we could do to help in engineering? I understand that you are very tired and there are many things to do, and there may be some skills that we have that could assist you in your work. It would be beneficial to many people on Alief if we could arrive as soon as safely possible."

    Ian joins the conversation. "I’ve got to agree with our friend here -- there are a lot of people counting on the supplies that we're carrying. We'll all pitch in to get this tu . . . I mean ship, jump ready.

    "Argent, or Dr. Talbek, are there any indications with what we’ll be dealing with when we get there? Presumably we'll need protective gear -- has that been taken care of?"

    "Perhaps I can best answer one of your questions, sir," Vasilii quickly responds. He stands up, nods and continues, "I am Vasilii Kugiikiishshi, a merchantman by trade. My assignment on this particular mission, I am in charge of all cargo and supplies. Sir, your question regarding protective gear, I can answer. We have 6 Dtons of emergency vacc suits and a 8 Dton prefab building along with other assorted medical supplies. Unfortunately, the cargo was loaded with extreme haste and I have yet to inspect the crates to ensure we have those specified items in our cargo bay.

    "If there are any supplies which any of you require before our departure please advise me and, with the Captain’s permission," Vasilii looks to the Captain and nods, "I will attempt to obtain it for you. I have not had an opportunity to meet all the crewmen but judging from what I see I am in good company."

    As Vasilii says this he smiles and looks over the ship’s crew. His gaze comes to a rest on the Virushi. Vasilii has a brief look of surprise on his face; he quickly forces a broader smile and nods to the Virushi.

    Darishun nods in return and says, in his soft voice, "Perhaps then, one of the more important things some of us should do is an inventory of what we currently have available to us in case Vasilii may be able to procure missing items for us."

    Continuing, he says, "Something that comes to mind is some sort of decontamination shower." Addressing Dr. Talbek, "Good doctor, would we need such a device, even with our vacc suits?"

    Glancing at the refrigerator, he comments, "Do we have food stores aboard? The contents of the refrigerator look like they may not last until jump with our expanded crew and my humble self." Darishun smiles sheepishly and shrugs.
    Last edited by Shadowdancer; Monday, 17th November, 2003 at 11:10 AM.

  10. #10
    Doc Saro stands up and clears his throat.

    "First off, I doubt I have much more information than most of you. Everything has been cobbled together so hastily, I’ve only had time to glance at a memo one of my colleagues put together.

    "This epidemic is very swift, nasty, and deadly. That much we know -- in fact, that's about all we know. So far there is no information on what the incubation period is, how it enters the body, or if there are any pre–onset symptoms. It is not even certain if its effects are limited to humanity or not." Saro starts to get animated during his speech and waves his mug of Javactose around, causing those nearby to flinch at the possibility of the beverage slopping onto them.

    "None of the victims have tested positive for anything unusual, so until we can examine the virus/toxin/whatever in its live state, we're going to stay in the dark I'm afraid."

    As he takes his seat again, the Doctor looks around before continuing in a serious voice. "I was considering keeping some of the more gruesome details to myself, but perhaps it's best if I tell you all what we’re up against." He pauses and looks in Martha’s direction. "You may want to miss this part of my briefing, darlin’, you’ve already seen it, up close and in person."

    Grimly Saro continues, "The first visible symptoms we’ve been able to determine are fever-like and flushed appearance, followed rapidly by unconsciousness. Shortly after unconsciousness, the victim starts to ‘weep blood’ out of most every orifice, leading to massive blood loss and eventually death. From the first sign of the symptoms to start of blood loss takes no more than 15-20 minutes."

    Doc Saro keys up something on his handcomp and passes it his left, "This is what we are up against. It is not pretty."

    On the handcomp are visual images taken of the victims found aboard the Bray Keaven.

    As the handcomp passes around the room, Darishun again asks about decontamination facilities. "Given what we do, and more importantly, do not know about this epidemic, I would highly recommend such a facility and following strict quarantine and decon procedures."

    Saro says there should be decon showers in the port-a-hospital. Given that Martha survived, the vacc suits should keep their occupants alive. The ship was sterilized by vacuum exposure for four hours and so far nobody has died so vacuum probably is enough to kill the virus. As to whether a decontam shower would work, The Doc knows diseases and viruses that can survive a decon shower, so there are no promises.

    After taking a look at the pictures on the handcomp, Swann passes it along, rubs a hand across his face and stands up. "I’m Swann Hellinic. I’ve met a few of you, but most of you I haven’t been introduced to yet. Based on what the good Doctor just told us, it is apparent that this mission is a very important one. Lives are at stake, maybe even our own. It is also apparent that the sooner we get this ship spaceworthy, the sooner we can get these supplies to Alief where they’re needed."

    He stops and takes a quick look around the room, making brief eye contact with all present. He then looks at Martha and continues.

    "And it is very apparent that our engineer here, Martha, has been through quite an ordeal. I know we are all counting on her to make sure the ship is jumpworthy so that we do reach Alief without mishap. So it is important that we lighten her job load and give her as much help as possible. I have no experience with jump drives or ship’s engines or grav systems. But I have a lot of experience with mechanical and electrical systems, and can help repair those. I also am familiar with computers, communications equipment and sensors, and can work on those if needed. So Martha, just tell me what needs to be repaired, and where you keep the tools and spare parts, and I'll get started."

    He sits back down, rubs his hand across his face and takes a sip of his Hava Cola.

    As the others react to the images being passed around, Saro wonders to himself if he should share his uneasy feelings at how rapidly all the supplies had been gathered and loaded aboard. It almost seemed as if somebody was expecting something like this to happen. After a few moments contemplation, he decides to keep his suspicions to himself for the time being, rather than heaping more anxiety on top of the shoulders of the crew.

    Vargas waves off the proffered handcomp and moves from a slouching to a standing position. He gives a simple wave before speaking. "Since we seem to be doing introductions, I'm Vargas. Sorry I was late but right in the middle of outprocessing the Service decided to put me on dee-square, Detached Duty. I know something about Jump drives and a few other things so I can help, too."

    Vargas reaches up to pet the beaker. "And this is Rusti. Don't worry, he’s clean, friendly and knows how to run fiber and conduit in those hard to reach places. Who’s next?" The last statement is made with a smile and a return to slouching against the door.

    Darishun does an odd half–bow at Vargas and Rusti, and says to the assembled crew, "Ah, please forgive my manners. I am Darishun, and like Vargas, I recently entered Detached Duty with the Scout Service. I am pleased to be joining you in this cooperative effort to assist the people of Alief.

    "My best skills are more suited towards working with ground-oriented search-and-rescue teams, but I do know a little bit about communications, mechanical, and electrical systems. I would also be quite willing to lend a bit of muscle if anything needs to be moved in the cargo bay.

    "In any case, I think that we can certainly benefit the people of Alief most by working together to get this ship underway as soon as possible."

    Turning to Vasilii, he continues in a slightly softer tone, "Mr. Vasilii, perhaps this slight delay could work to a personal advantage for me and a bit of an advantage for this ship’s good owner. As you may see, I am a little larger than the sophont who would normally occupy my cabin, and it may be a little advantageous if we could modify the cabin slightly with Virushi-rated furnishings. I can provide you with a list of supplies and the funds for the supplies. I would be most appreciative if you would be able to find time to assist me. Of course, anything related to helping the people of Alief should come first."

    Argent quietly listens while everyone introduces themselves and gives his/her opinion on events, quietly drinking his drink. When the handcomp reaches him, he passes it on; he figures he’ll see enough of the problem at Alief. Once everyone has spoken, Argent begins to speak again, trying to respond to everyone's comments.

    "Thank you for all your comments, and the introductions. Let me see if I can answer everyone’s concerns in turn.

    "I will try to see if we can extend our time here on Sentry to fix things, but we may have no choice as to when we take off. I’m not particularly thrilled with the chance of a misjump, but we may not have a choice. If we can at all shorten the estimated downtime as much as possible, it may help in convincing the fleet command. I would suggest, though, that we should assume at this point we are launching in less than 24 hours.

    "Mr. McConnell, Mr. Kugiikiishshi, make an inspection of the ship’s locker and prepare some recommendations to fill in any ‘holes’ that might be useful, then see if we can fill them. Please remember that there is a good chance that we’ll be inspected as we enter the Alief system to make sure we aren't smuggling any advanced weaponry and technology. I have a few extra credits from my retirement I am willing to contribute if you need some. Once you’ve acquired anything we need, please assist Dr. Talbek with the inventory if he needs further assistance.

    "Mr. Hellinic, Mr. Vargas and Mr. Darishun, please assist Engineer Atkins with any repairs. I’m sure she has an idea of what should take priority.

    "I’ll assist the teams as needed. Any other questions?"
    Last edited by Shadowdancer; Saturday, 22nd November, 2003 at 07:53 AM.

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