Friday, March 9, 2012

The CARRIS LOG Volume 3: The Wine Delivery

Santa Cruz Mountains, WinterCon, February 12, 2012

I managed to practice my “old art” between adventures, and improved my pick pocket skill to 16. I believe it is important to practice skills, especially ones that can be fatally failed. To be any good as a pick pocket, it takes hours of practice.

What’s left of our crew, Felton, Sally O, Skins, Lily, and of course, Cheap Lisa started out waiting around, as we always do, on a planet for an assignment. We began on the planet, Willows, which is the seat of power in this sub-sector of space. The area’s largest university is on Willows, and this is where we met Candice Miramaki, our friend from the Ice Races several months ago. Candice is wealthy and wants to hire us to travel to Saint Joesph to bring back some Auger Sham Wine. She wants to throw a post-finals party!

I liked the sound of that. She planned to surprise her boyfriend, Sharub Smith. We would be under severe time restraints as usual.

As we began planning our venture, we immediately saw a problem. We would be passing through (it takes 2 jumps each way) a place called, Jaconit. This planet has strong religious beliefs about things that mature beneath the surface of the ground: they are TABOO for everyone, including a gang of goofy spacers like us. There is another way, however it will take us to an unknown sector where there’s a two planet system with no star. Furthermore, Candice would like us to collect data on this system. She plans to write a scientific paper on it. Our plan is to travel to Jaconit, then on to Saint Joseph, load cargo (including 4 units for our own enterprise), then jump to the unknown space, refuel, collect data, and return to Willows just in time for the party. What could possibly go wrong?

The trip to Jaconit and Saint Joseph went without a hitch. We loaded 5 pallets plus 4 pallets into the cargo hold, including a pony keg of the wine that was given as a special bonus for our trouble.

The Rusty Bucket has never been in better shape than it has been recently, having spent time and money in dry dock after the ice races. Everything seemed fine as we came out of jump, but I had a suspicion the Gband sensors were on the verge of malfunctioning.

I couldn’t detect anything wrong with my internal Ops scan. The jump site proved to be a system consisting of just two gas giants, one frozen, orbiting one another. It seemed a fine place to refuel, but we found the ground came up faster than what we expected, and we crash landed right into a modern sculpture of some sort in a domed field of artificial soil.

The Gband sensors had failed, and were now in complete failure. At least it’s no longer an intermittent problem. A hard failure is much easier to fix. These planets, or moons were rocky rather than icy. There was a little warning; just before we crashed, the ship became hard to maneuver, and then we were warned,”ABANDON BRIDGE IMMEDIATELY! UNSAFE PRESSURE GRADIENT!”

There was damage to the front of the ship, the view screen was damaged. Also, the cargo door had been compromised, and would not open. We could fix all of this, but there was damage to the power couplers that could only be fixed if we could find parts, or something very similar that we could temporarily make do until we reached a space port. Without the parts, we were faced with the dilemma of no maneuverability, or no ship’s integrity, but not both. A high pressure failure faced us. We could fly once we were in space, but how to last until we got there was the problem. I went to the Cargo area to see what repairs I could make there.

Meanwhile, Lily and Felton went outside, and began to explore the area. They reported a globular flying thing seen darting around up there. They examined the soil, and found it to be like the artificial soil found on many agricultural planets where a grain like Bilke (wheat like) grows. Sally asked me over the engineering com, if I could fix the cargo doors because they needed to get the air raft out for exploration. I began working on the problem right away, and ignored the broken wine bottles down there. While this was happening, Skins (Gregory Gorgeous is his real name, he told me) came to the cargo area, and began gathering, filtering, and reclaiming what wine he could. He was finishing when I got the door unjammed. He was surprised to see the door suddenly open. A little wine, but not much (about 10%) was lost.

Lily reported that they found the sculpture to actually be a space station with plants and buildings inside. There were floating spheres, and supporting pillars. These had magnetic fields about them. Lisa determined this place to be the work the work of a group called “the Ancients’. Their purposes have long been speculated about, but remain largely unknown.

Sally and I looked for spare parts everywhere, but found none.

Lily and Felton (our chosen leader until Mac returns) investigate a crystal plant structure, and report that our ship is lit up like a Christmas tree!

Sally gets sick from being too close apparently to one of the spheres. Tests show that she had been radiated.

The pillars all had controls and symbols (unreadable by us) on them. There was a platform like an old Mayan temple, making four layers. The steps were nine feet apart, and would have been difficult to climb if not for our air raft. Then one of my worst fears was realized when we found control buttons that were numbered. Sally O said a combination came to her; 3-5-8-6…, or maybe just 6, or just 8. She was almost dying to try, but Felton kept telling her, “NO”. Then she accidently pushed “8”. No result occurred. There was a kind of veil over the doors out there. Metallic tentacles, or feelers had tried to suck up our ship, one molecule at a time, but we temporarily stopped them somehow. We take the ship into a 24 hour orbit to suck up all the fuel we can. Assessing the ship’s damages, I found countless cracks and fissures at the front of the ship, as well as the cargo door area. Skins had some free time and volunteered to help with the repairs, so I got him a bucket of sealant and a brush, guiding him by com to make repairs.

Soon all the repairs were completed, except for the Couplers.

Meantime, Lily finds some control panels that light up when touched. There are 12 panels with views of places we couldn’t recognize. We all were puzzled by this strange place. Felton and Sally O looked around the base of the station. They found a bunch of “ropes” of various sizes, and went inside one. Were the number controls a combo to open the portals? Cheap Lisa seemed to think they were. By now, Sally thought she could explain everything, but darned if I could understand anything the poor woman was talking about! “There’s five things going on here…” “Gravity may change, we may change, the whole world may change…” Our leader, Felton, didn’t want us just pushing buttons at random. “Let’s discuss this first.” There was talk of putting everyone but Skins and the pilot, Lisa, in cold storage before pushing buttons and travelling back. When it was mentioned that we didn’t absolutely need Skins awake because the port would have a doctor to revive those in storage, the group decided to let me and Lisa be the waking crew.

In the end, we made it back to Willows with some of the wine, but not enough to make Candice happy. Oh well, you can’t have everything.

The Carris Log Volume 3 ADDENDUM

Oh, I forgot to mention in my desire to report the activities of the good ol’ Rusty Bucket that I have changed my hair color from auburn to blonde! It’s a rather light yellow shade of blonde now, like a daffodil in color. I hope my fans will recognize me when they see me (not that I have so many fans, but I hope there’s at least some loyal readers out there). After this last venture into space, I need to unwind a bit because there were a lot of repairs that Sally and I had to make to the Bucket. I think I’ll get Sally and Lisa to go shopping and have a SPA day with me before we hit whatever dance clubs we can find on this rock.

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