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RE: Amphibians Ascendant

 
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RE: Amphibians Ascendant - 7/25/2009 6:07:36 AM   
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Stardate 2288.  Bridge, 2215 hours.  From Sol-1, Omi-22557 appears as an ordinary magnitude eight star, a little bit beyond the range of visual detection.  In contrast, Lt. Alytes and Aurora are currently 98.4% closer to the now rather bright star, as it slowly drifts by on the port quarter.  Alytes picked out Omi-22557 for tonights observations because of its rapid proper motion in space, a high orbital velocity that parallels some of those "wild card" stars that were slipping into the void region at the galactic center.  His calculations show that in 12060 years, Omi-22557 will also leave the populated region of the galaxy and enter the void.  What his eyes cannot see, but is quite obvious in the scanner, is a huge bow shock of infrared-bright clouds of dust forming in front of the star.  As he plots in the dust densities, it gradually takes on the shape of a thin crescent moon.  The turbo lift door swishes open, and Ensign Awa steps out in his yellow uniform.  "Cup of stim-caf, Sir?" offers Awa.  "Thanks but no thanks.  I'll be done here in a few minutes and could never get to sleep."  "Which star are you looking at?" asked Awa, peering out the small viewport.  "That big bright one now behind us," replied Alytes.  "It looks a bit yellow to me."  "Yes, it is really a dwarf, but this distance exaggerates its size."  "How does Hyginus look?" asked Awa.  "I took a gander at it earlier, but we can't make out anything yet.  We'll be able to pick out some detail tomorrow," said Alytes.  Awa glanced at his chrono and then added, "See you tomorrow.  I'm heading for some sack time."  "Don't forget, you have to take your tensor analysis exam tomorrow at 10:00 hours," reminded Alytes.  Awa jabbed at the turbolift control, "Duh, I've only been preparing for it for three weeks now."  "I'll see you there," said Alytes.       

< Message edited by oi -- 11/5/2009 6:45:14 AM >

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RE: Amphibians Ascendant - 8/4/2009 6:27:00 AM   
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Stardate 2289. Captain's ready room, 2240 hours. It is late and Captain Rana's great blinking eyes are dead tired. There is something about being far from home in cold isolated space that stacks on extra fatigue. Without that adrenaline rush of a new star system (and its attendant sentries), the constand thrum of the starship's engines, its artificial air and lights, grind away mentally and physically on Amphibian flesh. Absentmindedly, Rana tosses a dried insect into Axolotl's tank. It slowly sinks to the bottom, seemingly without stirring any interest from its occupants. Right now, Rana is feeling just about as dry as that insect. He wonders if this is how the early explorers of Sol-1 felt, centuries ago when wind powered the explorers of old. Those captains too, must have felt the weight of decision making in some far away place, where many things can go wrong, and the possibility of rescue or recovery is nil. Tomorrow it will be Hyginus. Alytes reported earlier in the evening, that his long range scanners have picked up multiple planets, so this one should be interesting. Rana takes a sip from his glass. Even his favorite snow capped mountain water tastes flat tonight. Leaning back in his chair, he re-opens the manual on the Laser Screen. "I will be absolutely delighted if this screen can actually deflect bolts," he thought. "Perhaps tomorrow it will be tested." Rana read further into the night. He needed to know everything about the screen, as his life, and those of his crew rested on his knowledge. A small splash from the aquarium told him that the dried insect was no longer there.

< Message edited by oi -- 11/5/2009 6:47:12 AM >

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RE: Amphibians Ascendant - 8/5/2009 6:25:39 AM   
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Stardate 2290. Bridge, 0815 hours. Aurora is doing a slow spin in approximate polar orbit over a very small rocky planet. It is far too close to the sun to support life, so much so that many of the ancient craters nearer to lower latitudes show signs of slumped walls from the solar blast. If the planet has any mineral value, it would lie in the upper highlands, currently drifting slowly far below the starship. Aurora has her antennae extended, and is currently in the process of receiving signals from a number of types of probes. Everyone on the bridge is relieved to observe that apparently this little piece of hot rock was not worth guarding with sentries. Altogether, there are four planets in the Hyginus system, and on the inbound pass, some of them looked like real plums. Captain Rana is both careful and methodical, and he always begins with the innermost planet and works his way out. "Progress report, Lt. Alytes?" "Sir, we are just about wrapped up here. The planet was too small to hold an atmosphere, but I am picking up some volcanic residues which will give us a peek into its interior." An inset in the forward screen changed its view from one of the planet's surface to that of a small inbound sun grazing comet. "A rather majestic sight, wouldn't you agree, Sir?" asked Babina, as a small fragment of bright glowing material breaks off the parent body, joining the gossamer tail. "I agree. Our brains are designed with a fondness for symmetry, or as we have it here, a balanced form of broken symmetry. The spinning balls of planet and sun, the suspended dancing comet; it is really a three dimensional artwork." Rana continued his musing. "At moments like this, it is easy to see how it is we who overlay a form of mathematics onto our images of the world. These events are random, as is the external world, yet our love for symmetry allows us to use mathematics to predict this viewpoint, and to see it as a piece of art." "We are done here, Sir," interrupted Alytes. Rana quickly snapped back into action mode. "Very well. Helm, set course 0040-0230." "Breaking orbit, locking in the new course," came the response. Aurora's nose lifted, and the starship began to pull away from Hyginus-1.

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RE: Amphibians Ascendant - 8/11/2009 7:27:18 AM   
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Stardate 2291. Captain's ready room, 0747 hours. Captain Rana is reading the latest reports from Sol-1. He notes with satisfaction that a new type-3 freighter is being built for the Brahe run. This should have a significant impact on space finances, as currently only about $26 per year is pouring into the treasury. Also, the new colony at Eridani is beginning construction on a space dock. Next, he turns to Aurora's damage reports, and is pleased to note that all damage has been repaired. Rana's comm chimes. "Approaching the second planet, Sir." "Acknowledged. I'll be right out." He secures the data pad with the thought, "I don't want things flying about in case we encounter more whirlwinds." After stepping out onto the bridge to the familiar greeting of, Captain on the bridge," he takes a glance at the forward screen. It displays a very small type-2 planet, Hyginus-2, which is rapidly growing in size. "Helm, prepare for standard orbit. Lt. Alytes, what do the scanners show? Chief, give me a report on any possible sentries. "Standard orbit coming up, Sir." "No lifesigns on the surface." "Twin lightning storms at 234-54. Fast approaching." "On screen," commanded Rana. "They look rather similar to those we encountered at Serpens," commented Lt. Commander Babina. "And as I recall, they packed quite a punch." "Well, the Admiral wanted us to test out our laser screen, and today looks like the day," responded Rana. "Chief. How difficult will it be to have the rockets explode inside the storm?" "These rockets were designed to hit something, but I can calculate and control the delay after firing to simulate contact." "Very good. Do so. As Aurora gets in closer, launch when ready." "Opening outer doors now. Standing by. Firing one." The rocket raced away from the starship, but as if sensing the threat, the storm juked to the side and the timed blast from the exploding rocket hit nothing but clear atmosphere. In rapid succession, storm-1 spit out 3 lightning bolts. Everyone on the bridge braced in anticipation of a hit, but instead, the bolts seemed to glance away, instilling only a momentary brilliant glow to the hull. "Laser screen holding with 18% loss of charge," commented Babina. "Shifting to storm-2," reported Otophryne. "Rockets away." All eyes watched as storm-2 seemingly lifted up and let the rocket pass unobstructed. This storm, in turn, also spit out 3 lightning bolts. Aurora is rocked by a hit. "Laser screen at 77%; optical computer-1 at 71%; optical computer-2 at 81%," shouts out Babina. Both storms are circling Aurora furiously. "Helm, we need to get some separation here," ordered Rana. Storm-2 fired another trio of bolts. Two miss, but again Aurora takes a hit. Babina continued with his running commentary, "Optical computer-2 down to 74%. Engineering reports rocket drive-1 at 95%. Apparently the screen did not deflect this bolt, as it currently is at full power." Storm-2 fires another bolt at close range that hits Aurora but is deflected by the screen. "Laser screen at 87%." Storm-1 fires a bolt as Aurora is turning and misses. This proves to be a fatal mistake from the aspect of the storm, as the Chief gets off a good shot and hits storm-1 dead center. There is a huge puff of disorganized clouds, and then nothing but a shower of light mist. With only one target left to concentrate on, it only takes a matter of moments before the Chief gets off another rocket, and storm-2 is history. There is an audible collective exhalation of breath, and the Captain responds with a, "Good job, Chief." "Actually the laser screen performed quite well," noted Rana. "One bolt got through and found some of our sensitive electronics, but several others were stopped cold. Moreover, there is no discernable hull damage. I am starting to like this device."

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RE: Amphibians Ascendant - 8/17/2009 7:27:08 AM   
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Stardate 2293. Bridge, 0804 hours. The very small type 6 planet Hyginus-3 glows brightly in the perpetual (but artificial) dawn created by Aurora's movement. Chief Otophryne looks up briefly, "A pair of sentry drones at 345+67, closing rapidly." Otophryne's voice betrayed no emotion, but Rana's did, as he ordered, "All stop." Most of the bridge crew experienced a brief flashback of memories to the last time they had encountered sentry drones - on Serpens-1. For a split second, facial images of the five dead crewmen hung like ghosts in front of Rana's eyes before he could blink them away. In the numerous drills since then, all members of the bridge crew had practiced against space drones. Rana had studied them well, and they were formitable indeed, primarily because Aurora lacked sufficient firepower to penetrate their armor. The last encounter had demonstrated that it could take up to four missiles to bring down a drone. It had also made the point that drones were highly mobile, packed a punch, and fired often. In Aurora's many voyages, they had encountered quite an assortment of sentries, some very odd indeed. In his gut, Rana knew that if they had all been space drones, Aurora would likely be a piece of space scrap floating in orbit about some distant planet. "Drones still closing." Otophryne's voice snapped Rana out of his momentary reverie. "Set evasive course Delta-2," he ordered. "Aye aye, Sir." Rana spoke to Babina. "By bearing to port, perhaps in their eagerness to get to us, we can get them to split up and allow us to focus on one at a time. We'll call the portside one "drone-1' for convenience. Chief, as soon as you can get off a good shot, go ahead and fire." "Yes, Sir. The outer doors are open. Fire one." "Execute Delta-2" Both the starship and drone fired near simultaneously, but both executed course changes that caused their respective weapons to miss. Trailing behind, and initially partially hidden by drone-1 was drone-2, now fully exposed by the couse changes. "Firing at drone-2." The range was now rapidly reducing, and drone-2 never responded to the rocket, which hit a glancing blow to its lower decks. "Eight percent damage," reported Babina, looking up from his sensor panel. As Aurora swung around behind drone-2, Otophryne got off another quick shot, but the rocket missed. Drone-2 fired, hitting Aurora forward of the bridge. "No damage, screen at 97%," reported Babina. "Look out for drone-1," noted Alytes. Indeed, this drone had recovered from its evasive maneuver, and was swinging about in Aurora's direction. "Down 60 degrees," ordered Rana. The helm punched in the change, but before he could verbally acknowledge the order, a bolt from drone-1 passed through empty space over Aurora. Unfortunately, the drop maneuver had left Aurora with inadequate operating space between the planet's surface and hard charging drone-1. In order to swing around and gain altitude, Aurora had to turn away from drone-1, which immediately fired two bolts into Aurora's undefended rear end. Aurora bucked, the lights blinked three times in rapid succession, and a whiff of something burning entered the air circulation system. "Laser screen 90%, nuclear generator 61%, optical computer-1 62%, optical computer-2 88%, rocket drive-1 95%, rocket drive-2 95%, weapons 90%." As Babina's voice continued on and on, Rana instantly knew that they were not going to win this battle. The damage to the nuclear generator alone was serious. He looked up at the weapons screen. Eight rockets left. "Break off. Break off. Steer right at drone-2 to use it as a shield against drone-1. Maximum impulse. This will really test the forward laser screen." As Aurora raced towards drone-2 both shpis fired at point blank range. Both shots hit home, forcing Aurora to plow through a patch of debris created in part from both ships. Another shot from the drone exploded a huge chunk of partially molten metal to the starboard side of Aurora, as the spaceship flashed away in retreat. On board Aurora, alarms were everywhere. Someone on the bridge was putting out a small fire, and damage reports were flooding in from throughout the ship. First and foremost, however, was the view of Hyginus-3 and its two drones gradually becoming smaller and smaller on the screen. "Damage reports, Babina" "Yes Sir. Laser screen at 40% and charging. Nuclear generator 22%, optical computer-1 42%, optical computer-2 88%, rocket drive-1 95%, rocket drive-2 70%, weapons 90%," responded Babina. "There are casualties on decks 1 and 3." Otophryne added, "The rocket hit to drone-2 knocked out about 30% of its systems, although the drone is still functioning." Rana responded with, "Babina, you have the bridge. Otophryne see about those casualties. I'm going to take a look at the nuclear generator." Still operating under an enormous surge of adrenaline, and still feeling the effects of one that is lucky to be alive, Rana headed for the turbolift.

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RE: Amphibians Ascendant - 8/25/2009 6:46:56 AM   
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Stardate 2294. Captain's ready room, 0930 hours. The small ready room is over crowded with ship's officers. Captain Rana is speaking to Lt. Chaunus. "My deepest regrets for the loss of your crewmember. As you know, I was down at the generator shortly after the bolt had hit. There was nothing anyone could do." "Thank you for your kind thoughts, Captain. He was a good amphibian and will be missed by all," responded Chaunus, with a grim face. Speaking louder, Rana addresses the assembly. "Despite the loss of two crewmembers and some serious damage, I have decided against an immediate return to Sol-1." After noting a look of surprise and concern on several faces, Rana continued, "I see that many of you expected that we return home for repairs. However, if we return home now, many of our damaged systems will be completely replaced, necessitating a rather long stay in port. Right now, Aurora is needed for a number of critical missions, and we cannot afford to spend our days tied up in space dock. Our new destination is the Virgo system, located approximately 1 ly south of Eridani-III. The new colony needs freighter routes, and it is up to us to scout out potential resource systems. I specifically picked out this planet because it is far from here and will take us several days to accomplish the journey. During that time, I expect everyone to be busy with repairs. Of course, you will note that Virgo is much closer to home than we are now, so once our business is finished there, we will set course for Sol-1. My plan is that we return home pretty much back to 100% on all systems, and reduce our turn around time in space dock accordingly. Are there any questions? No? Good. You are dismissed. Lt. Alytes, would you stay after a minute." As the room clears, Rana offers his hand to Lt. Alytes. "I deeply regret the loss of your scientist. Apparently, he was operating optical computer-1?" "Yes Sir. The control panel exploded from the passing bolt, and he was badly burned." "Pass the word that we will have a joint ceremony at 12:00 hours sharp. I expect everyone off duty to be present." "I have no doubt that everyone will want to be there. Both amphibians were popular," replied Alytes. "This is the second time you have lost one of your team. How are you holding up?" Alytes thought for a moment, "It was an ugly way to die, I know. For some reason I do not feel much of anything right now. Maybe it is good that we have so much repair work in front of us. Sometime fixing feels a little like healing. Anyway, I know that every reconnected wire means that we are one step closer to home." "You're an honest amphibian, Alytes. I like that," said Rana. "Use your own judgement on how hard to work your team in the coming days. Hopefully we will have much to discover."

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RE: Amphibians Ascendant - 9/9/2009 6:21:02 AM   
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Stardate 2295. Bridge, 1920 hours. Although he recalled telling the Captain that he would be up to his elbows fixing the wiring of a number of computers, in all actuality, there was very little for the science team to do in the line of repairs. Instead, Lt. Alytes worked on the mystery of the sentries. "Why should the Hyginus system be so well defended?" he thought. Carefully, he superimposed a data screen listing all of the sentries thus far uncovered by Aurora over a map of planetary resources. "Not a match," he murmured, as many seeming completely worthless planets had ended up being well defended. Stumped, and needing a new line of thought, he glanced out the observation port. Aurora was currently in the vicinity of star cluster A13. He recalled that the cluster was visible (and rather pretty) from Sol-1 in a small telescope. Cluster A13 appeared as a tight knot of stars, which betrayed a very young age. Alytes was well aware of the fact that as star clusters age, their stars gradually spread apart from one another. Turning back to his screen, he pulled up a closeup map of Hyginus-III. Why should this tiny type 6 planet be defended by a pair of sentry drones? Looking at the map, he could see that desolate volcanic plains covered most of the surface. Flipping a screen, he observed a well defined magnetic field, suggesting that the planet contained a large outer liquid core. Hyginus-III was rather small for this type of planetary core, but not so far out of line as to be exceptional. His speculations were interrupted with the hiss made by the turbolift doors opening, and Ensign Awa stepped through. "Looking for a little relief, Sir?" "Thanks. I'm just not making any progress here," Alytes replied. "Wow, that's more than the usual amount of stars outside," exclaimed Awa. "Right now we're passing close to the center of star cluster A13," explained Alytes. "You probably remember looking at it as a youth." "I do," said Awa. "At that time, I had a tiny home-made telescope. Using it to look at the night sky made it seem as if I could see things that no-one else could see. The stars were such pure points of light, and alone at night I could zoom off of Sol-1 and feel as if I was discovering something." "Certainly, a close connection with nature often provides rocket fuel for the inspiration and creativity necessary to become a scientist," observed Alytes. "I still can recall those moments rather keenly," said Awa. "At that time, I was never more happy than when mapping stars and looking for the tiniest wisps of fuzzy light."

< Message edited by oi -- 10/15/2009 5:31:41 AM >

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RE: Amphibians Ascendant - 10/15/2009 6:06:19 AM   
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Stardate 2296. Science Officer's Cabin, 0228 hours. Lt. Alytes cannot sleep. He rolls to one side. He tries sleeping on his back. Tiny LED lights from his computer annoy him. Frustrated, he gets up and props open a book to block their light. As seemingly a thousand thoughts race through his head, he pushes a button to lower the cabin temperature a few degrees. He has the idea, "Maybe I should just turn on the light and read a bit, perhaps something so dry that I can't help but sleep". The problem with that idea is that he has scheduled a meeting with his staff tomorrow, early. "Well, it already is tomorrow. I've only got a few hours left to rest. Why did another member of my team have to die?" Alytes forces himself to lie down again, as he fluffs his pillow a bit. "How does it work? Keep the flippers warm and the head cold?" Despite his amped up brain, he has trouble concentrating. "Was there an afterlife?" Alytes did not know. All of the lifeforms in the galaxy that had contacted the Amphibians had different opinions on the subject. "It was certainly not impossible that his consciousness could survive death. Perhaps what passed as his conscious life was simply the tip of a much larger iceberg, with the main essence of what he was, invisibly hiding out in another dimension. His life could be analogous to the creation of virtual particles in a vacuum, existing only for a brief time, before disappearing again." "Or in some cases, being ripped out of existence by a bolt," he couldn't help but add. The faint hum of a power core caught his attention, and as it did, it suddenly seemed to grow louder. Again, Alytes pushed off the covers, got up and turned the device off. Now up, he went into the refresher room and sat down. But his body was still shut down for sleep, and it was a waste of time trying to go. On his way back to his bed, he dreaded to even glance at the chronometer, as he knew that every passing minute was one less that he would have when he finally did get to sleep. "Space-time held many dimensions, and thus far, little was known about the others." As a scientist, Alytes was well aware that given a sufficiently resourceful planet, and a few billion years, orgainization of the planet's surface molecules into lifeforms, and subsequently into conscious life was a natural outcome. Already, numerous lifeforms had converged into a conscious existence. "Had I been at that computer station, I would have been experiencing first hand many of the answers to these questions." Alytes tried to concentrate on the thrum thrum of the warp drive. Normally, it was rather hypnotic and sleep inducing. Thrum, Thrum, Thrum, like the slow pulsing beating of the heart of a huge whale. He wedged his flippers down into a crack in the base of his bunk. Thrum, Thrum, "I wonder what would happen if I began to count backwards?" "One hundred, ninety nine, ninety eight . . ." he counted slowly, trying to associate each number with a picture of one of the many planets. "Ninety seven, ninety six," as he chanted each number, its associated planet drifted into view, then popped out of existence. "Ninety five, ninety four, . . ninety three . . . ninety two . . ."

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RE: Amphibians Ascendant - 11/5/2009 6:44:02 AM   
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Stardate 2297. Engineering, 1437 hours. "Yeeouch!" Pipa grunted, whipping his arm back out of the generator and inadvertantly pulling out a small control line as he did so. "Watch it up there," he called to Kaloula who was trying to melt away some fused ceramics above him. "Sorry. It just fell apart when I hit it with the heat," said Kaoula, looking down apologetically. Pipa stared at his arm until his eyes focused on a small fragment of formerly molten (now recrystallized) solid composite. He binged it off his arm in the general direction of the nearby junk bin. "Even though I have never seen or met one, I am beginning to build up an intense dislike for those sentry drones," commented Pipa, rather bitterly as he fished through a set of control lines, looking for a match to the one he had just ripped out. "Seeing this mess, we're lucky that the generator worked long enough to power up the warp drive," noted Kaloula. "And it is up to us to get this section finished so that the ship can get off of partial power." "Look out below. I'm going to heat up and melt off another ceramic," continued Kaloula. Pipa felt the buzz of his comlink. "Yes?" "Lt. Chaunus here. I'm going to activate the bridge control panel. See if the ready light appears on the display." "Yes, Sir." "Panel activated, anything?" "Nothing down here." "The control lines must be looping and won't let the signal through. I'm shutting it down from up here and will call you again for another try later." "No problem, Sir." Pipa gently tightened the lower end of the replacement control line with a small spanner. "It would be nice to have hot food again. And I am sure that the crew would like the holodeck back," said Kaloula. "Yeah, like we have any time for holodeck programs," muttered Pipa. Kaloula climbed down to Pipa's deck level. "Okay. Help me with the access panel." Both amphibians bent over and picked up the heavy panel, lifting it up waist high to where it was possible to slip on the restraining bolts. The dull grey metal bore a smoothed over bright patch where the bolt had tore through the panel. "Nothing stops those bolts," grunted Pipa under that strain of lifting. "Well, considering that this particular bolt passed through two sections of hull, that angle iron over there, this access panel, and a collection of metal parts inside the generator, you're probably right," commented Kaloula. "Spin the nuts and we've got it," he continued. "Later on, we'll spray on some nanocoat and you'll never know that the panel was patched." "I'll go out and see if I can round up some volunteers for that job," sighed Pipa, knowing that he was the most likely (and probably only) candidate to do the nanocoating. "Break time," noted Kaloula. "Why don't you run for some sandwiches, and I'll stand by in case Lt. Chaunus calls down again." "Now we're talking. What kind do you want?" "Surprise me," said Kaloula, knowing that there were only a few limited choices anyway. "When you get back we'll start in on the nullifier," said Kaloula to no one in particular, as Pipa had already disappeared up the ladder.

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RE: Amphibians Ascendant - 1/26/2010 5:21:32 AM   
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Stardate 2298. Messdeck 1938, hours. Repairs on the generator have kept the holosuite off line, and as a result, Lt Commander Babina found himself spending more of his down time relaxing in the insectivarium. Right at this moment, the warmth and wetness collecting in the space felt good on his skin. With Zen-like composure, he sat and impassively viewed the tangled vegetation cluttered with the ceaseless hum of insects. The mess cook had asked him to collect two dozen of the golden spotted Thermonectus beetles, and using a small scooping net and a covered container, he had quickly caught his limit. Compared to the complexity of his daily thoughts, this simple task had felt mind clearing, and had ended all too soon. Amphibians have been collecting (and eating) beetles since they first flopped out on land, and he felt connected to the past with this brief exercise in muscle memory. An Oleria fly gently landed on his outstretched arm, and Babina watched it flex its fluorescent wings as the tiny creature rested. Nearby, a buzz beetle cruised with its characteristic sound. A compulsive quick glance at his chrono reminded him that duty was approaching. As he reluctantly moved his arm, the Oleria reacted to the motion and took off. He watched its tiny glow retreat and disappear into the far reaches of the space. "I had better speak to the Chief about tonight's drill," he reminded himself, as he scrambled to his feet. Since the drill involved a transient loss of power to steering, he also wanted to see who was going to be the duty helmsman. Procedure did not call for an immediate drop out of warp unless the ship became unstable. Warships like Aurora were designed to maintain continuity in the face of disruptions. However, he did not want an inexperienced helmsman to panic, knock warp offline, wake the Captain, and interrupt their passage. With a small sigh, he got to his feet and prepared to head to the mess hall with his captured beetles. Four hours of evening watch were calling his name.

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RE: Amphibians Ascendant - 1/26/2010 1:25:16 PM   
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Oi,

Welcome back!

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RE: Amphibians Ascendant - 3/8/2010 5:30:29 AM   
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Stardate 2299. Science Officer Alytes cabin, 2240 hours. Lt Alytes absently sips from his now tepid cup of Bucero juice, as he stares at his oversized computer screen. In the upper right hand corner is a screen within a screen, showing the present coordinates and course of Aurora. In the upper left hand corner is a long range scan of the Virgo system, now just under half a day's travel distant. Alytes had looked at the image in detail earlier, and after electronically blocking out the now visible disk of the star, noted a pair of tiny specks nearly lost in the diffuse glow several star diameters away on the left hand side. After notifying the Captain that the Virgo system contained planets (and that they would be busy tomorrow), Alytes knew that he should be hitting the sack early, yet still he sat in front of the main screen, which was replaying Aurora's approach to the Hyginus system. It was silly, he told himself, but as a scientist, tiny thoughts kept welling up into his consciousness, reminding him to go back and look. "Look for what?" he muttered. Aurora was passing just above a small asteroid belt, on its course for planet Hyginus-3, when he noticed a small comet in the midst of the belt. He stopped the recording and zoomed in on the comet. It was rather small, oblong, and nondescript, less than 1 km in its longest axis. Following his intuition rather than any logic, he quickly had the computer print out the orbital elements. The result was a bit puzzling. Most comets have parabolic orbits, racing in from far out in the outer edge of the star's gravity, to come close to the parent star, when heat can boil off a portion of their icy exterior. This comet's orbit was different, nearly circular, and confined to the small asteroid belt. He next calculated the amount of outgasing from the comet. Based on the amount of material being lost per second, (and its small size) this comet would completely melt away in less than two or three amphibian lifetimes. It should not really be there. At high magnification, he slowly forwarded the recording to examine the object through a full rotation. With a smile of satisfaction, and the burst of adrenaline that always comes from a discovery (no matter how small), he noted that most of the emission was coming from a single site. The mystery was solved. Most of the object's surface was composed of a material protective of the icy interior. But apparently a recent collision with a small rock had punched through the insulating exterior shell and exposed the dirty ice water underneath to the heat of Hyginus, triggering the cometary outburst. Alytes stared at the now very cold cup of bucero juice and laughed to himself. The life of a scientist followed a lifetime of study, most of the time other amphibians looked at you strangely, you probably did look a little strange, and yet by following the faintest tendril of an internal feeling he had reaped the reward of a discovery. He laughed to himself, knowing that no one (amphibian or otherwise) would be interested in the slightest about the tiny comet of Hyginus, yet tonight he would sleep well.

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RE: Amphibians Ascendant - 9/10/2010 5:47:44 AM   
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Stardate 2300. Captain's Ready Room, 0720. Captain Rana stared for the tenth time at the damage control report list glowing on his data pad. Naturally, he had hoped for better news after the long trip from Hyginus. Aurora was clearly banged up and badly in need of a little rest and recovery, but this mission to Virgo was necessary to exploit its potential freighter route for the new colony Eridani III. Now, as a result, he had to stretch his tired crew for one more series of explorations, and could only hope that Aurora would not encounter some big time sentries. Earlier in the morning, he had felt (more than seen) the imperceptible light dimming during the bus shift as new repairs to the nuclear generator were brought on line. Now the numbers blinked back at him; with too little time for further changes: laser screen 55%, nuclear generator 84%, optical computer-1 55%, optical computer-2 78%, rocket drive-1 95%, rocket drive-2 85%, weapons 90%. With half her critical systems just over 50% operational, today was not a good day to be going into combat. Only 7 rockets remained in the armory, not enough to get them out of serious trouble. He flipped the screen to the next image. The Virgo system was positioned about 1 ly south of Eridani III and contained three planets. He glanced at the chrono; it was time. Stepping out of his ready room, the bright reflected morning glare of planet Virgo-1 momentarily caused his eyes to blink, as he moved onto the bridge. He briefly signaled with his right claw to relax the bridge staff. "Sir, we are on approach for standard orbit," noted Lt.Commander Babina. Rana gave him a nod of acknowledgement as he took his seat in the command chair. Chief Otophryne barked out, "Tactical ready, all missiles on standby." Again, Rana raised his claw in silent acknowledgement. "Lt.Alytes, what do we have here?" "Sir, it is a small planet, classified as a type 4," came the reply. "Entering standard orbit now," chimed in the helmsman. "Chief, what do you have?" asked Rana. "Nothing, Sir. Sensors are not picking up anything unusual." "Very good. Alytes, prepare the probe for launch." "Probe is set and the outer doors are open." "Launch probe." "Probe's away." Within a few seconds, the tiny glow of the ion-engine appeared on the main screen, as the probe raced for the planet's surface. "Secure from action stations," announced Rana. Who knew what tomorrow would bring, but today was going to be OK. Rana turned to Babina. "I am well aware that the crew has been doing extra shifts on the repair work. But today we are entering the year 2300, and let's set up some kind of evening celebration for the millenium change over in the main crew's mess. Just make sure it does not go on too late, as we will be examining the second planet bright and early tomorrow." "Yes, Sir. With pleasure Sir," replied Babina, as the worried lines in his face briefly transformed into that of a smile. "As soon as my watch ends, I will pay a visit to the cooks on the mess deck." From the corner of his eye, Rana noted with a glint of pleasure that everyone on the bridge suddenly seemed to move about and do their routine tasks a little snappier, in anticipation of treats to come.

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Post #: 103
RE: Amphibians Ascendant - 4/7/2011 6:16:05 AM   
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Stardate 2301. Bridge, 0803 hours. The gentle curve of a medium sized type 6 planet covered with swirling clouds lit from the stellar glow of Virgo, filled Aurora's main forward screen. For the uninitiated, this would have made for a spectacular sight, but for Chief Otophryne, it was ignored, as he focused on tactical's visual displays. There is was. There is was again. A tiny red dot moved off the edge of his left screen drifting towards the center. Quickly he scanned the readout from the sensors. "Killer Satellite at 12+45", he announced. On the bridge, all eyes turned to the expected coordinates. At this distance, nothing could be made out but the tiniest hint of a metallic glint, seemingly suspended above the cloud tops. "Prepare a missile for launch," said Rana drily. "You may fire when ready." Otophryne looked at the weapons stock and noted that there were seven missiles left. As he loaded one into the launch tube, he instinctively felt that the Captain wanted him to take out this target one with only one shot. A small piece of his reputation was on the line at this moment, and feeling a slight tightness in his throat, he resisted the urge to take a slightly longer shot than was necessary. Having had some experience facing this type of sentry, the Captain held Aurora on a steady course, as the satellite activated and moved in their direction. Otophryne waited, using the time to open the outer launch tube doors, and to scan for possible other contacts. There were none. He waited. The red dot filled the center of his screen, and the simple firing solution blinked steadily, as he waited. Now! "Missile's away." Again, all eyes turned in the direction of the satellite, where a few pixels of the screen glowed from the ion trail of the departing missile. Suddenly, there was a soundless flash, a red molten color, which rapidly faded. "Target is destroyed. No other targets detected," said the Chief. "Very good," replied Rana. "Lt.Alytes, the planet is yours." Rana got up from his chair. "Babina, you have the bridge." In the light of his clean shot, the Chief permitted himself a second or two of satisfaction, as he sent the remaining missiles back to the armory and blew the launch tube free of debris. "Today was easy, almost too easy," he thought. "Who knows what tomorrow might bring."

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Post #: 104
RE: Amphibians Ascendant - 8/17/2011 2:00:50 AM   
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Stardate, 2302. Bridge, 0934 hours. The bridge was bright with morning light, but fairly quiet, now that the action was over. Chief Otophryne was busy with the rocket tube cleaning blowout. The tube was still warm from the firing of two rockets earlier that each took out a killer satellite. Lt.Commander Babina had the bridge, and was logging in the new combat experience ratings for Aurora (51%). Aurora was still in orbit about Virgo-3, a very small type 5 planet. Most of the real action on the bridge centered about Lt. Alytes, who was taking in the various readouts from the planet. “More basalt,” he muttered aloud, scanning the surface composition of the dark plain below. A brief bout of volcanism early in the planet’s origin must have spewed out this batch of rocks. He zoomed in on the microstructure of the rock, and could discern a characteristic pattern of small crystals. “Rapid cooling,” he muttered again. This was certainly not surprising, as the planet was too small to retain either water or an atmosphere, and the rocks would have been exposed to the icy temperatures of space immediately upon being blown out of the planet’s interior. As he watched, the probe passed over the dark plain and began transmitting images of the lighter grey-white material on the border. “Anorthosite,” he muttered, as sure enough, the mass spectrometer signals for calcium, magnesium, silicon, aluminum, and lots of oxygen rose up out of the background noise. Sometimes this rock shows iridescence, but not today, likely due to the extensive radiation weathering of the exposed surface. As Alytes programmed the computer to automatically search for the distinctive suite of expected rock types that nearly always are found with anorthosite, he heard the soft ding of the turbolift doors opening, and was soon joined by the ever-curious Ensign Awa. “What are you finding?” asked Awa. “Rocks and more rocks,” replied Alytes, “And nothing to stir up any interest for an automated miner.” “How many missiles were fired?” asked Awa. “Two.” “Alright, with only four left, we’ll have to go home now.” Awa smiled at the thought. “Makes sense to me. As soon as I am finished with the probe, I’ll report to the Captain, and he’ll likely break orbit,” observed Alytes. “Well in that case, let me help you with the scan.” With both amphibians began typing furiously away, data streamed into Aurora’s twin optical computers.
Post #: 105
RE: Amphibians Ascendant - 8/19/2011 6:20:42 AM   
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Stardate 2303. Mess Deck, 17:04. Late last night, Aurora had pointed her prow due West, and within minutes, the course change resonated throughout the ship - homeward bound. Kaloula and Pipa are sitting in front of big plates of food discussing the possibilities of upcoming leave for the crew. “Replacement fore and aft missiles alone will take nearly a stardate,” noted Kaloula. “There are still a lot of electronics and internal systems being held by little more than algae gum,” added Pipa. “There might even be enough time for two leave sessions, maybe each a stardate long,” he continued. Both amphibians leaned back in their seats, each with dreams of home. Real air, a sky, natural sounds, the lack of the constant thrum of the drive, and yes, home caught food, all receiving moments of wishful reflection. To add to the pleasure of the moment, tonight's food was exceptional too. With the mission ending, the larder had been opened up, and even the dullest amphibian knew the difference between crayfish larva and mayflies. Knowing that Kaloula and Pipa were from engineering, a few members of the crew passed by their table and gave them the sign (and a nudge) to try and slip in a few extra tenths of warp. A portion of stress on the crew lay in the uncertainty over the length of each mission, and now that this one was ending, the weighty oppression of space seemed magically lifted. Even the never-ending cycle of watches were seeming shorter. "I guess that there is only, maybe six or seven more watches to go until we arrive," said Pipa, counting out loud. "When you say it like that, I'm almost glad to get the next one started," nodded Kaloula, just before he washed down a crayfish with a big gulp from his cup. "I'm done here. Let's head for the observation deck and see if we can pick out Sol-1," said Pipa, excitedly. "At this distance, Sol-1 is pretty easy," noted Kaloula. "What would be interesting is if it is noticably brighter."

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RE: Amphibians Ascendant - 8/21/2011 5:42:18 AM   
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Stardate 2304. Officer’s berthing quarters, 0330 hours. Dong. Dong. Dong. Lt. Alytes lifted a weary head off of his pillow. “Fire! Fire! Officer’s quarter’s forward,” squawked the box above his head. Dong. Dong. Dong. Slightly groggy, he planted his flippers on the deck and tried to sit up. On an enclosed starship with its oxygen rich environment, plenty of things to burn, and nowhere for the smoke to go, fire had to be quite a nightmare. Strangely, the lights were off, except for the dim glow of the emergency battle lanterns. Just then, his cabin door opened, and he dimly recognized Lt.Commander Babina, who pointed to him, and announced, “You’re unconscious.” “Fire! Fire! Officer’s quarter’s forward, this is a drill,” squawked the box. “Just a drill,” sighed Alytes. Being an amphibian, he really couldn’t growl, but instead some fairly angry frothy bubbles appeared at the corners of his mouth. Babina pointed to Alytes’s arm, which he passively held out as Babina rapidly knotted some colored markers onto his elbow and wrist. In the passageway, he heard a sleepy Awa’s foot find his open cabin door. “Ouch, What the . . .” Babina pointed to Awa, and said, “You too are a casualty. Lie down.” Awa complied. Unlike Awa, who was flat on the cold hard deck, at least Alytes had the good fortune of being a casualty in his own bunk, and he began to slowly lean back as Babina finished with his markers and turned to tie a pair onto Awa. Out in the passageway, he could hear the gruff voice of Chief Otophryne directing the repair party, along with the scraping of equipment being dragged over the deck. A masked face peered into his cabin, and behind the face shield he could hear someone say, “We have casualties here.” Moments later, the burly form of Chief Otophryne appeared, and unceremoniously planted a face mask onto Alytes. Outside the cabin, he heard another “ouch” from Awa, as he was dumped rather abruptly onto a stretcher. In trying to gather his thoughts, all that entered his mind was his silent complaint, “Drills. Drills! What are we doing having drills when we are so close to the end of our mission?” His turn for the stretcher came all too soon, and he too was rather roughly rolled against the cabin doorway as two crewmen hastily tried to maneuver the both stretcher and prone Alytes out through the entrance and into the passageway. Fortunately, the nearby mess hall had been designated as an emergency triage station, and they thankfully would not have to squeeze him into the turbolift. Soon he was lying next to Awa and being examined for injuries. Both wore red and purple armbands which translated into “unconscious” and “toxic inhalation”. For Alytes, ever the scientist, toxic inhalation made sense, as the ship was filled with organics that readily could be converted into toxic smoke when burnt. As he closed his tired eyes and began to imagine a list of some of the more toxic organic compounds, a crewman shouted two inches from his ear, “Oxygen, we need oxygen here.” More frothy bubbles appeared at the corners of his mouth. He turned to Awa, and both silently and in synchrony mouthed the words, “I hate drills.”

< Message edited by oi -- 7/16/2012 7:00:37 AM >

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RE: Amphibians Ascendant - 9/16/2011 2:34:09 AM   
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Stardate 2305. Mess Deck, 2017 hours. Kaloula peered out the mess deck port hole of Aurora, her hull glowing pale green against blackness, as the warship sliced through streaking photons like a knife through spaghetti, pushing toward an ever-brightening star. Fresh out of the engineering spaces, both he and Pipa were dry, overheated, and hungry, and not necessarily in that order. The on-coming watch had been a little late in relieving them, and now, unusual for such a small ship, there was a definite chow line tonight, and the tiny mess space was filled with off duty Amphibians. Pipa stood up on the toes of his flippers to see if the cook was running out of scarab beetles. To his relief, the tray was still more than half full, and the line was short. The next problem facing both friends was a distinct lack of seats. “Where did everybody come from tonight?” asked Pipa. “Thoughts of home make it hard to sleep,” replied Kaloula. “Do you see any seats?” he continued. Pipa was too busy stacking insects on his plate to notice. Looking up from the end of the chow line, both Amphibians noted that only single seats were available at the tables, except for one in the corner where Lt. Alytes was occupying himself with a large drink. “He’s not too bad,” whispered Pipa. “We have talked with him before.” Kaloula also knew that Alytes wore the yellow of a science officer, not the white suits of the regular navy, and so neither hesitated to ask to sit at the officer’s table. “Certainly, pull up some chairs,” replied Alytes, giving them a friendly smile. “You’re the curious pair from engineering, as I recall.” “Thanks, it’s really crowded tonight,” said Kaloula, trying to make a small excuse for their presence. Pipa was too busy reducing the size of the beetle collection on his plate to make any attempt at etiquette. “You two look really dry and due for some time out of the engineering spaces,” noted Alytes. Although most of the ship was kept at high humidity for the Amphibians, the lower deck, which included engineering and the crawl spaces, were not. “How can you tell?” Asked Kaloula. “I was looking at the contrast between your faces and the bulkhead behind you,” replied Alytes. Pipa, who never paid much attention to bulkheads (more than once to his regret), leaned his chair back and felt the surface, “It’s covered with tiny droplets,” he exclaimed. “Exactly,” noted Alytes. “Look how the droplets never stick to the surface but are continually rolling.” “Why doesn’t the water stay in place?” asked Kaloula. Suddenly Lt. Alytes looked every bit in his element as a science officer, “Nearly every surface in this ship is not precisely smooth. Instead, it has an invisible texture to it, a texture composed of small raised bumps, each closely spaced next to one another. As our humid water vapor condenses to form droplets, these droplets encounter the bumps before they can flatten out on the surface. Each droplet thus retains a layer of air underneath.” “It’s like a water droplet on stilts,” imagined Kaloula. “Exactly. All it takes is a little vibration to make the droplet unstable.” “Like the constant thrum from our warp drive,” chipped in Pipa. “You got it,” replied Alytes. “So, if I get the goose bumps, will water roll off me?” wondered Pipa out loud. “Not really, Alytes said drily. “The spacing between the individual goose bumps is far too far apart to interact with a water droplet.” Kaloula glanced down at his chrono. “Sir, thanks for the table and lesson, but we’ve got to go.” “No problem, said Alytes, “we’ll all be up again at midnight.”

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RE: Amphibians Ascendant - 7/16/2012 6:58:27 AM   
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Stardate 2306. Observation deck, 1732 hours. Even on a naval vessel that is more of a scientific survey ship than a warship, it remains a simple truth than no one has more than a few minutes each day of free time. So it was quite a surprise for Ensign Awa when he encountered a small crowd of amphibians on the semi-darkened observation deck. The remains of a small celebraton were in the process of being cleaned away, and many eyes were now turned to the streaking sky. Over the last day or so, a confusing pattern of stars had begun to move and rearrange - a steady parade of lights taking their positions into recognizable constellations. From Amphibia, almost everyone had learned the pattern for the great Dendrobates, with his jeweled sword and the four stars making up his shield held high. Tonight, the four stars were now visible, and even identifiable, but only as short streaks still noticeably out of alignment. Awa saw Lt.Alytes ensconced at a corner table, looking lost in reading some printouts, and began weaving his way through the crowd in his direction. "Evening, Sir." Lt.Alytes looked up from his data pad, momentarily distracted by the greeting. "Ensign Awa. What a pleasure. Have a seat." Reluctantly putting aside his data, Alytes turned his focus to Awa. "As you know, we live in one of an infinite number of multiverses. Yet it still remains quite a point of contention exactly how these multiverses interact with each other." Awa smiled. Lt. Alytes was ever the scientist, and Awa was never afraid to jump into any scientific discussion. "I was always taught that as the number of multiverses rapidly approaches infinity most become nearly identical to each other," replied Awa. "Quite true," acknowledged Alytes. "But there always remain a few that are uniquely different," he added. "You sound a bit like a gambler, focusing on the exception rather than the rule," noted Awa. "If I was a gambler," said Alytes, "I'd be thinking that in a small number of universes some uncanny, unusual, unlikely coincidences should occur, coincidences that if one had enough knowledge might be predictable. One example might be the evolution of life on planets. Over time such events would come into ever more prominence." "If I hear you correctly," answered Awa thoughtfully, "You are suggesting that over the course of time, astonishing improbabilities in any one universe, including ours, will become more and more common." "Exactly," replied Alytes. "Still, perhaps we live in one of those many boring universes where such events seldom happen," added Awa wistfully. "Well, we are here, and I think that it is worth giving a few minutes thought, and a few simulations (holding up the datapad), on how one might go about predicting the unexpected." "Have you found anything?" "Not yet. But it is interesting how the plot of unlikely coincidences in any one universe is logarithmic," observed Alytes, pointing to a series of graphs. "When the unexpected can be reduced to numbers in an equation, does that mean it is no longer unexpected?" asked Awa. "No trying to side-track me. I'm just sketching out a few ideas here." "Well, let me know if you make progress. I'm heading below to get a few hours of shut-eye before my next watch," said Awa. "I'll be doing the same myself," added Alytes. "Just as soon as I crunch out a few more equations."

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RE: Amphibians Ascendant - 1/18/2013 4:48:42 AM   
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Stardate 2307. Asteroid training grounds, 1543 hours. Streams of broken rock, ice, and shards of gravel bounced like giant raindrops off of Lt. Kassina’s canopy as he gunned his fighter between the shattered remains of two small asteroids. “Form up.” Rather than speaking, he simply clicked his mike twice, sending out the coded command. Seemingly out of nowhere, nine other fighters appeared, adapting to a funnel shaped ring behind him. He spoke one word, “Alpha,” into his comm, and like a school of obedient fish, all fighters in unison flipped, to bear down on a spinning asteroid. Alpha was code for a helicoidal attack, designed to dissipate return fire during the approach, while at the end of the run of concentrating all 10 rocket bursts onto the target. With a frown, Kassina again addressed his mike, “Number five, tighten up.” In this attack pattern, any fighter too far inside of the helix would collect more than its fair share of damage. All too soon, the asteroid loomed large in his sights, and he squeezed the firing trigger. Ten rockets in momentary unison smashed into the rocky surface. Kassina noted that there was a little spread to the impact point, with the accuracy falling off from the outer ships in the helix. He pulled back on the stick and sent his team high and clear of the debris. Practice, practice, practice. Lt. Kassina was a rough and ready leader, a good choice for the single minded task of welding his team into a fighting unit. “Dead-eye shooting, two and four. Let’s head back to the barn.” Silver streaked the blackness of space, as the fighter unit turned and headed in for the crude base nestled into one of the larger asteroids. A few clicks of the chrono later, and the lieutenant was flip flopping down the narrow hallway carrying his helmet. As he passed by the canteen, heading for the ready room to do the post flight evaluation, an orderly handed him a message, “For you, Sir.” Kassina took it with a nod, and waited to sit down before opening it. From Admiral Ansonia. To Lieutenant Kassina. You are to report immediately to Space Dock-1 for duty assignment to the Scout class warship Aurora. An audible sigh escaped from Kassina’s lips. Training was over. Real events were about to begin. As the last of his crew straggled into the room, he stood up. “Don’t bother taking your seats. We’ve got a long flight ahead of us.” Looking into the other nine querying faces, he smiled, and waved the set of orders. “We’re been assigned to a starship.”

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