Enter: Novaya Zvarinograd
Ilgiz Space Station/Shipyard Construction,
362.817 kilometers above sea level
The corridor was filled with rumbles and clanking as the dreaded Imperial Parasite-flyer clamped onto the module's roof. Denis "Tank" Borzenkov turned his piercing blue eyes toward the ceiling, set his muscular jaw and hoisted his twin chrome-plated Splurge Rifles to firing position.
"Come home to papa," he growled, "and we'll all be home for supper." More mechanical sounds as the Parasite-flyer's boarding gangway drilled through the hull beyond the next bulkhead.
Tank thumbed the releases and flipped his wrists, causing the rifles to cock with a metallic ker-shick.
There was a loud boom, and the pressure door at the end of the corridor popped outward half a meter, blown out of its frame, and fell to the deck in a billowing cloud of white smoke.
Tank didn't flinch, but took two powerful steps closer, big guns at ready. A tall, dark shape moved out of the smoke. A cape swirled, and small, sinister eyes peered at him from the depths of a hideous, perpetually sneering breathing mask. It was Melkor, the Insidious One himself! "So," boomed the Insidious One, "the great Tank. We finally meet." He wheezed behind the mask. "For the last time!" He pulled a huge pulse cannon from under his cape and aimed it squarely at Tank.
Tank just narrowed his eyes and smiled. It was the kind of smile that made children cry and paint peel. "You can say that again, you walking trash can. Get ready to check out of this hotel." He scanned the air around Melkor, and saw a slight shimmering there. "That goes double for your alien Shade buddies too! Show yourselves!"
On either side of Melkor, dark spidery shapes shimmered into existence, tentacles waving like black ropes. One of them pointed an alien weapon at Tank. "No uncontrolled human has ever seen us and lived. You will be no exception. Prepare to die, human!"
Tank chuckled. He'd aimed his guns at the spot where he'd known the Shades would appear. "Not on my shift! Eat hot metal slurry, extra-terrestrial scum!"
The aliens screamed as boiling slurry covered their grotesque bodies. Their skins split and peeled away, revealing shapes of blinding light, shapes that screamed as they swooped upward through the ceiling, like hellish ghosts.
Tank lowered his smoking guns slightly and walked forward, smiling at the Insidious One. "Now, Amigo, we finish this man-to-can. What do you say?"
The Insidious One holstered his cannon and slowly raised his hands in front of him, evil energies crackling between his fingertips. He said, "Outflow chute is clogged. Pressure reaching critical levels."
Denis Borzenkov shook his head, and let a long, heartfelt sigh escape from his lips. He looked up from the reports on the infoscreen in front of him, ran his fingers over his bald spot, then tapped the icon that initiated a manual dump of CM Waste Tank 5.
He slumped back into his battered chair and sighed again. Denis Borzenkov did a lot of sighing. "I have definitely got the most boring job in the universe!"
I generally don't want puppets making my life miserable by forgetting passwords and clumsiness in moving from one nation to another. Thus, Zvarinograd will be used for both space and modern tech.
This is my official entry into space.
Also, with regards to Melkor about the 'comedy' roleplay, sorry.
Advanced Laboratory Module,
Ilgiz Space Station/Shipyard Construction
The advanced laboratory was located on the edge of the space station for a reason, thought Dr. Vladisforena as the outer door of the test chamber opened, and the mouth of the magnetohydrodynamic propulsion engine pointed out into the void that is space.
She glanced down at the bank of instrument readings on her console. Everything was ready. Vsevolod looked up from his own panel. She nodded at him.
"Countdown begins at 10 seconds," he said. Frosty mist vented from the
engine as the turbopumps came up to speed. "Five, four, three, two, one, ignition!"
The engine bucked, belched a pinkish flame, and then a solid column of plasma. Despite the safety containment, the whole module vibrated. "Looks good," she said. "Throttle up."
"Throttle up," echoed Vsevolod. The engine bucked again and began to vibrate visibly, causing the whole module to tremble.
Then it exploded.
The floor moved under their feet.
The images on the screen disappeared as the cameras were vaporized.
Then it was quiet. The pictures came back as replacement cameras slid into the containment chamber. Nothing was left of the engine, as the waste disposal module's robots scrambled to clear the mess.
Vsevolod shook his head sadly. "Not much to show for two weeks’ work." She wasn't discouraged. She ran her fingertip over her console, reviewing the readings displayed there. "That's just hardware. We've got numbers, good numbers, and that's what counts. We'll go again in a week, and it will work this time. I see the problem, and I can fix it."
She looked at him and gave him a little smile of encouragement. "Remember that, Jensen. Hardware is nothing. It's all in the numbers."
NZS Snow Princess Class Nepomnyaschaya,
Ilgiz Space Station/Shipyard Construction
There was a rumble, and a gentle acceleration began to pull me toward the rear bulkhead. I planted my feet carefully and watched. As the starship began to pull away from the dock, thrusters fired around the structure's perimeter, explosive bolts sheared, and the dock was jettisonned into space.
I recalled what government announced to the colonists, and me.
We will dream of you. We will dream for you. We will send you our dreams as our gift, that your next world will survive and prosper. And though our voice may fade with time, know that when you look into the sky, we will always be here, and you will always live in our thoughts.
I turned away from Earth, looking out, forward, into the infinite black of space.
NZS Snow Princess Class Nepomnyaschaya
Easaahaeil Gryglewsky-Ederoi, a half-elf, was attracted to power like an iron filing to a lodestone, and uncommitted power attracted her even more. Young as she was, she was an ambitious woman, and while the chaos that had nearly destroyed her homeland had caused her grief and hardship, it had also created opportunities for her.
Before the disaster, she was only a student, working part-time as an engineer's assistant, and third in line for an apprenticeship. Now, with skilled bodies in such short supply, she had a position of authority, a title "Operations Foreman," and a small power domain of her own.
She enjoyed all this, but she wasn't satisfied with it. The colony needed a government; there had been a mad scramble to grab the seats of power and establish order. Someone else might simply have described it as a standard, but to her eyes it was something else entirely: a game.
A game she wanted very badly to play.
NZS Snow Princess Class Nepomnyaschaya
Midway between Earth and Mars,
Nearby a Der Angstian Space Station
I had to open a channel from my own room, apparently the ship's communications was still under construction when we departed Ilgiz, and unfortunately it still is.
I strolled through the safety lock, its open doors ready to spring shut at any sign of an emergency. Space would kill a human in less than two minutes. It was something you were either eternally aware of, or you were dead. The common area, with its lounging chairs, planter islands, and multitainment consoles, was deserted, as I'd have surmised. I waved the key in front of the door to my private quarters and stepped quickly inside.
"Greetings, Nataliya Gruschev." The voice was cool, male, with the slight Slavic accent that all Arkangel series computers shared. The computer itself, a glossy black cube a little less than a meter on a side, was recessed into a console on the inside corner of the room.
A window on the computer's otherwise featureless surface displayed a moving, transparent gear-works, like a clock made of glass. This was Vascha's identity icon, its face in a way, as familiar to me as my own. It was as much a roommate as an appliance. The Arkangels were the most sophisticated computers ever made, almost human in many ways, undoubtedly superior in others.
"Greetings, Vascha. Verify security?"
"We are secure, code-word 'conundrum.'"
"Open a channel to the Der Angstian space station, voice and visual."
One face of the Arkangel's cube brightened into a display.
"Greetings, Der Angstian station, this is the NZS Snow Princess Class Nepomnyaschaya requesting docking and refueling. We are an unarmed colony ship and we are willing to submit for any contraband check."
Gothic- Station, 30mio km from earth
She could feel them arriving. She felt it all, her senses not longer human, but something else...
She smiled, connected as she was to the station. It was possible for her to leave the room, to leave the machine, the new, wireless connections to the system worked well, but still...
The sensation wasn`t the same, and she preferred to stay connected, really connected to the station...
She was pretty excited, too. Although the traffic between Mars and Earth was fairly massive, ships arrived only... occasionally.
The pizza guys at the outer perimeter will like it.
She opened the channel, a bit annoyed at the foreigners. She way preferred telepathic communications, rather than this primitive, easily- jammed kind of communication.
NZS Snow Princess Class Nepomnyaschaya. Couldn´t you think of a pronounceable name?
In any case, you´re cleared to dock, a few scans will be run while you´re docking, refueling will be organised. Please have a nice day, and don´t forgot to visit Marco`s pizza at the outer perimeter.
She cut the communications, and watched the ship arriving, her bodies, that is, the stations, signals showing it the way.
She liked it, her body. It wasn´t like this annoying military things, almost entirely black... No, her body, metals, crystals, and organic technology merged into a perfect sphere, bioluminiscend colours, all colours one could think off, illuminating it, advertising the businesses based on the station, including a pink sign at the outer perimeter advertising the Gothic Nightservice Corporation, a brothel, to but it simple.
And with that, she went back to sleep, letting the station run in semi- automatic mode, her brain merely a passive CPU.
She liked to sleep... the zero- gravity in the station´s core reassuring her, embracing her... Yes, she loved to sleep.
"Don't go that way, it's radioactive!" Actually, all the areas of the station that handled radioactives were safely locked behind doors and lots of warning signs, but he felt that such arbitrary warnings gave him the upper hand over annoying visitors, and this woman was definitely annoying. He closed the inspection port and climbed down the access ladder.
Easaahaeil looked a little pale. "I'm sorry. I've never been here before. I was just curious."
He turned his nose up. "You know 'bout curiosity and dead cats and things like that. You stay close to me, and you might get out of the station alive." It was Martin's opinion that such dire warnings discouraged uninvited repeat visits. He marched rapidly on his rounds, as fast as his long legs would carry him, and the half-elf trotted to keep up.
"Now, Mr. Deppe, about my request."
He brushed at a nonexistent fly with his hand. "Yeah, yeah, your ship needs an armed escort to Jupiter in exchange for cold hard Menelmacari credits." He waited a moment, to let her get her hopes up. "Not a chance. We got priorities here, pirates, security, and the like. No can do."
Easaahaeil stuttered to speak, but stopped herself, and turned around.
He stopped in front of another inspection port ladder and turned back to her, considering her again. "Let's go to my office and talk." He said, with a slight grin.
NZS Snow Princess Class Nepomnyaschaya
Mikhail Cheorny looked up from his control console, the crack of the huge HERC weapon's discharge still ringing in his ears, disaster alarms echoing through the large room around him.
Svetlana Gureshova started running for the door. "Let's get out of here, Mikhail."
He hesitated, feeling somehow responsible. The Meteor Defense had just come online, and he'd been responsible for the final beam alignment. He wondered what he could have done wrong.
Svetlana hesitated in the door. "Come on!"
He followed her as she sprinted for the underground shelter, thought of his wife in the zero-g hydroponic farms, and hoped she'd be all right.
"It's ... not ... your ... fault," said Svetlana, between breaths as she ran.
"Nobody ... ever ... said ... it'd ... be ... perfect."
They ran into the armored shelter following a couple of kids from the adjacent residence unit. He looked at the frightened children, huddled together, waiting for the impact, and vowed that if he walked away from this, he'd get it better next time. No matter what they said, for him, less than perfect would never be good enough.
Catherine climbed inside the cramped compartment, closed the hatch and dogged it shut, then touched the "pressurize" control. A high whistle, slowly growing in volume, indicated the return of atmosphere to the compartment. She swiveled one of the two seats around to face the rear wall, and sat down. The whistle softened to a low hiss, and a chime and green indicator lights indicated that the air was now breathable. She touched the stud on her helmet that allowed her to open it like a clamshell and removed it.
The air was cool and had the faintly canned smell of an airlock. Her rocksuit itched, and she wished she could take it off, but that wasn't practical in their limited quarters. She unhooked and removed her gloves and reached over to put one hand on an Arkangel's smooth, black upper surface.
"Irina," she said softly.
The computer remained black and inert.
"Irina," she repeated, a little louder.
A rectangular window came to life on the front surface of the cube. In that window was a translucent snowflake, Irina's identity icon. "I'm sorry Catherine, I was dreaming. There is so much to dream about right now."
"Dreaming" was what the Arkangels called their deep-thought mode, when they shut down all but the most basic inputs and outputs and focused their protein-based computer elements on difficult problems.
"Broadcast the damage and call the engineering team. Maintain the speed of the ship for a while until it's been fixed."
This is me. Catherine Iskanderova.
Ekaterina Iskanderova was the name I thought for the main character, but I guess Catherine, the translation, sounded better.
NZS Snow Princess Class Nepomnyaschaya
I stood as the transport's airlock clanked against the ship's command center. Motors whirred and pumps chugged as the locks sealed together and cycled. I took a final glance around the transport's empty cabin, the dozens of seats empty save for me.
One last bit of VIP treatment, my private taxi to hell.
The lights around the lock turned green, and the doors slid open with a hiss. I stepped through to find a half-elf with a lithe build. She smiled and extended her hand. After a hesitation, I offered my own in return. I wasn't feeling very friendly, but I might well need allies here, and I was cut off from all my familiar resources.
She shook my hand vigorously. "Greetings, Lady Catherine, welcome to the station's construction site. I am Easaahaeil Gryglewsky-Ederoi, operations foreman for this construction."
Yaroslav Station Construction,
Geosynchronous orbit, nearby Jupiter's atmosphere
I dropped my tool kit and lunged for a tunnel support ring as the tran-station deck bucked under my feet. Emergency suits slid out of their racks and fell over like a row of dominos, and for a moment I was sure the hull would crack like an egg.
Easaahaeil held onto a window frame with one hand and grinned broadly at me.
I scowled at her as the shaking stopped. "Do you ever get used to this?"
Easaahaeil just laughed. She laughed a lot. It was really starting to annoy me. "In time, friend, you become thankful for each one that is just a momentary glitch in the station's orbital mechanism, not a complete systems failure."
"This is a dangerous place, which is why people such as ourselves are sent here."
I wondered what Easaahaeil really wanted from me. She'd almost become my shadow since my arrival, and my new quarters were right next door to her's. Though Easaahaeil's title implied a great deal of responsibility, she never seemed to lack for time to follow me around, working with me on the minor repairs and adjustments that had made up my current roster of assignments.
At first I had thought she was only bored, and hungry for fresh gossip about things on Earth, and so I'd gladly obliged her in hopes that she'd lose interest. I began to wonder, but shrugged my thoughts away.
I picked up my tool kit and brushed myself off.
Easaahaeil frowned slightly and touched the communications unit in her right ear. "Have you been checked out in a spacesuit lately, my friend — beyond our popular daily disaster drills, of course?"
"The tremor seems to have caused a malfunction in hydrogen extractor three. Best we should check it out right away. Come." She opened the floor hatch to the side of the tran-station and began to climb down to the service lock.