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RP: YSS Aeon [YSS Aeon] - Second Sorte

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Yani watched Gi head down the ramp on her way to her body transfer. I can’t imagine what she went through, thinking that I was dead. And why didn’t anyone notify her when I was picked up. Still we are back together now, so I’ll make it up to her somehow. She thought. “Haken-Juni reporting for interview, please direct me to the captain.” She said in a calm voice that belied her current emotional state.. “Ise-Taii is in her cabin waiting for you. Do you require directions?” Eternity replied. “Yes, thank you.” Yani answered entering the passageway. A few minutes later she was standing outside the door to the Captain’s Suite. She checked her uniform, and made sure her eyes were dry. Don’t need to meet the captain looking like I’ve been crying. she thought. Once satisfied of her appearance, she pressed the door chime. The door slid open and a female voice called “Enter.” Yani looked in to get her bearings, not familiar with the Captain’s cabin. She spotted the Taii sitting at a small desk to the left. She entered; walked towards the desk then bowed saying. “Kahen Yani Nitô Juni reporting for interview ma’am” “Please take a seat, this should not take long.” the officer replied. That does not sound promising, what if she rejects my request? Gi will be heartbroken. her thoughts whirled. “Thank you ma’am” she said taking a seat opposite the Taii who was looking at a data screen.

The Taii looked up at her and said, “So why are you alive?” Yani blinked, What kind of interview question is that? she thought. “Ma’am, I’m not sure I understand your question.” “Your service record says you died and there was no backup available. So how is it you are sitting here before me Kahen-Juni?” Certainly she doesn’t think I deserted. she thought. “Ma’am, the report of my death was in error. I was not onboard the YSS Tantou when it was destroyed. We were at a sensitive part of our investigation. Tenki-Shosa instructed me to stay and continue my work with locals. It was his opinion that the trip they were taking would be short and my linguistic skills wouldn’t be required. After a week I became concerned, but there was nothing I could do. It was three months later when a merchant vessel arrived and I was able to send a signal to headquarters. That was when I found out that the Tantou was missing presumed destroyed. It was another month before I was able to get back to headquarters and then be debriefed. By the time they released me I had found out that Keiko-Juni had shipped out with you, and I put in my request for assignment.”

Katae sat watching the Juni go explain what happened. She glanced at the data screen and scanned the report, the convening authority had cleared her of any charges, and that YSS Tantou was lost without a trace. It was just a matter of luck that Keiko Gi had been on leave, and that Kahen was left on that planet. “Well, your service record is fine. I think you will fit in with our mission just fine. I’ll have Eternity assign you to cabin eight.” Ise said. “Ma’am, if it is possible I would prefer to share a cabin with Keiko-Juni.” Eternity, contact Keiko and see if she okay with that arrangement. she thought to the MEGAMI. After a moment, Ise-Taii, Keiko-Juni was most emphatic in her approval of that arrangement. the AI replied. “Well, it seems that Keiko-Juni approves so you will bunk with her in cabin three. May as well stow your gear and wait for her to return before you go to the visitor quarters.” Kahen stood up and bowed, “Thank you ma’am. I look forward to serving under you.” Katae watched her leave then turned off the screen.
Katae had remained aboard the Aeon until Yani and Gi had left. She had been sitting on the bridge, playing Go with Eternity. She finished the game, and picked up her small bag. “Eternity, put the Aeon into maintenance mode. I’ll check in with you regularly.” She said as she left the bridge. Once off the ship, she slung her bag over her shoulder and headed to her temporary quarters. Katae put her possessions in the locker and relaxed in the chair. While consulting the terminal to see what amenities the Ikoi offered. She saw a message waiting for her. It was an invitation to dinner as a guest of the Ikoi commander that evening.

Ise went back to the Aeon and went to the lounge. She took one of the recently acquired bottles of Yamataian wine. That should be an appropriate gift. she thought. She carried it tucked under her arm as she walked to the Ikoi lounge. She spotted the commander and approached. He stood up and greeted her, offered her a chair. This confused Katae for a moment as it was not normal military protocol. Once he was seated she gave him the bottle with the appreciation of herself and the crew of the Aeon. The dinner was good, and the commander was a likeable sort, content in his assignment. He assured her that the Aeon was in good hands and that she would be ready soon.

After the dinner she walked around the station, the park was pleasant, and she took some time to just sit and relax on the grass. After an hour or so, she wandered along the path she encountered Hoshi and Mariko, sitting together on a bench. Perhaps I should go over and say hi to them, she thought, I better not, let them enjoy their private time to be a couple without me intruding. I’ll just go back to my room and do some reading.

Hoshi spotted Ise in the park. “Mariko, what do you think about Katae?” “I think she’s doing well, after all she’s a lot different from War Kat anymore. It is good to see her mellowing, and learning to enjoy life a little.” Yeah, but I think that is a problem in itself. I mean after all she is the commander of the ship. Which means everyone on the ship is junior to her and that can be a lonely situation.” Hoshi said brushing his wife’s hair from her face. Mariko thought for a moment, “Well, I can invite her to come to the pool and swim with us tomorrow and we can have dinner together like old times. After all we’re all off duty. How does that sound?”
Katae spent the morning walking around the station, and found herself back at the bay where the Aeon sat. May as well do some work on the Bonsai trees while I’m here. she thought. She went to her cabin, picked up her tools and spent the next two hours carefully trimming each of the trees. So intent was she that she failed to notice Hoshi entering the wardroom.

Hoshi was not overly surprised when she found out that the Taii was onboard the ship. She made her way to the bay, and found out from Eternity where she was at the moment. Katae was so engrossed in her work that she did not notice her entrance. Hoshi walked up and put a hand on her shoulder, she mentally chuckled as her friend startled. “Katae, I thought everyone was supposed to taking some down time while the ship is in for repairs.” “Hoshi, how long have you been here?” Katae inquired. “Not long Katae, I came to see what you were up to when I saw that you were back onboard.” Katae chuckled, “Okay, you caught me. But you know I don’t like being idle. Besides at least I was doing Bonsai and not work. So what can I do for you?” “Mariko and I saw you last night in the park. We figured you might like some company. So I’m here to invite you to come swimming with us, perhaps we can have an impromptu water polo competition.” She watched Katae think for a moment before answering. “That sounds good.” “After the swimming Mariko and I want you to have dinner with us, like old times.”

Ruiko sat at the computer terminal, sending multiple queries to PANTHEON. He was trying to see if there were any reports of vessels similar to the ones the Aeon encountered. And he wanted to familiarize himself with any new tactical data available. Once his queries were done he grabbed his swim trunks and a towel. He did not want to be late for the group swimming event. Should be an enjoyable activity, and if we’re lucky, perhaps we can challenge one of the other crews here to a competition. he thought. He went to the pool locker room to change into his swim gear. Once he was changed into his swim suit; he entered into the pool area and joined the other members of the crew.

The afternoon was a pleasant one for the crew of the Aeon. First they spent time teaching the newest members of the crew how to play. With all the inherit missteps that occur when learning such an activity. After playing several matches, one of the other crews came in and a friendly competition ensued.
Ruri was in the repair bay watching as the Aeon was being worked on. You’ll be better soon. she thought. To her way of thinking the Aeon was a body for Eternity, just as Valkyrja bodies were for their consciousness. All the way back to the Ikoi, the ship just did not feel right to Ruri. She had been sneaking back aboard the ship over the past few days, performing what repairs she could. Now she was content to sit in the observation bay, and watch as the Ikoi repair systems deftly removed the damaged panels of the hull. When the damaged pylon and cannon were opened she could see additional damage that she and Usaga had not been able to locate because of how they were constructed. While none of the damage was sufficient to threaten the ship, it went against her engineering nature to have missed it. Next time we will have to come up with a way to examine the inner areas remotely. she thought while sketching an idea for a way to examine those areas.

Nami sat at a terminal, checking out various recipes. She twirled a lock of her brown hair as she searched for a special recipe. While some would say she was working, to her, this was her way to relax. Other than coffee, and sushi, I haven’t found a dish that the Taii really likes. she thought, Perhaps I should talk to the Dai’s they’ve known her for a while. She downloaded several simple recipes to add to her repertoire, She checked the system to see where Dai-Juni was, logged off the computer and made her way to see her.

Yani sat at her easel and picked up a one of her brushes. She deftly added a few strokes of color forming the basis of the backdrop of a picture. Gi can you bring me the tube of yellow-green from my pack. She sent telepathically. Gi reached into the bag and pulled out the tube and brought it to her. “You don’t know how much I have missed being able to link minds with you Gi.” She said taking her lover’s hand. “Not as much as I have missed being with you saiai.” Gi replied with a kiss. Yani watched Gi walk back to her seat for a moment, and then resumed her painting.
Nami went to meet Hoshi in the Ikoi Wardroom. It was larger than the one aboard the Aeon and quite pleasant, but she preferred the one on her ship. It was smaller, cozier; it felt like home to her. She looked around and finally spotted Hoshi at one of the tables. Nami walked over to the table. “Good day Dai-Juni.” “Nami, please we’re off-duty, its just Hoshi right now. Have a seat. What can I do for you?” “Well, Dai, I mean Hoshi, I am trying to find dishes for the crew to add to the menu. I was hoping you could provide some insight into what Ise-Taii might like. Perhaps I could make something from her childhood.” She watched Hoshi wince. “I would not suggest that Nami. I have known Katae for several years, and she rarely speaks of her childhood. She lost her family in 24, as soon as she was old enough enlist she did.” “Then that would be bad, do you recall a dish she liked in the past?” Hoshi thought for a moment before answering, “Yes, there was a dish she liked that had poultry and nuts. I believe I have the recipe in my room, I can give it to you when we return to the Aeon” “Thank you Hoshi that would be wonderful.”

Usaga sat a terminal reviewing what new tech manuals were available. She wanted to stay current on any new systems or equipment that came out. She already downloaded the manuals for the PMS-1 Station that was being installed onto the Aeon. She was also searching for the specifications for viewing devices that could be used in confined areas after hearing from Ruri about the damage they could not see on the ship. There were several that she was confident that the two of them could combine and adapt into a tool for their needs.

Ise was in her quarters reviewing the orders that came in for the Aeon. They were given a group of systems identified as UX26, UX27, UX28, and UX29. Those designations had to be created by a bureaucrat. she thought. Well they could have been named A, B, C, and D for all I care. It means that we are going back out and exploring. Hopefully we’ll have better results than the Sairen system. The park here is nice, but it would be nice to stand on a real planet and look at the stars from the ground. Feel real wind on my skin. She transmitted a copy of the orders to Ruiko for his reference. She picked up one of her books to read, but put it down after a few pages. She thought back to the first time the crew had dinner together, and decided that perhaps a ship tradition would not be a bad thing. Katae deftly entered a message for all the crew, to meet in the Ikoi wardroom at 1900hrs for dinner.
Katae grabbed her bag from the room and joined up with the rest of the crew. They were in good spirits, with much joking and teasing going on as they walked. Perhaps I should join in. she thought, she watched Hoshi yawn, “So Mariko did you let Hoshi get any rest last night, or did you keep him up all night?” Several of others chuckled and made teasing sounds. She watched Mariko’s response, a combination of surprise and then a knowing smile. Ise felt something she had not let herself feel in a very long time. This interesting group of people; her crew, were almost, not quite, starting to feel like a family, or at least what she recalled a family felt like. She remained silent for the rest of the walk to the Aeon. While most of the crew went straight on board, Katae first made a circuit around to survey the work. She watched Ruri and Usaga as they verified the repairs. Eternity, how much time have those two spent back here with you. she sent mentally to the computer. While it is true that the engineers have returned her from time to time, no more so than you did Taii. Ise chuckled as she walked up the ramp. Can’t get upset with them for doing the same thing I did Eternity. Please advise all hands to begin preflight checks.

Hoshi walked down the corridor holding his wife’s hand. Can you believe that Katae actually teased you? I mean she’s teased you when it was just us, but she did it in front of the rest of the crew. Mariko smiled at her husband, I told you that she was changing for the better. She’s worked so hard to put her old life as War-Kat behind her. It’s good to see her making the attempt to interact more casually. Now we just have to see about getting her some romance in her life. Mariko… Don’t you even think about trying to play match maker. Besides I am sure that if Katae wants to get involved with someone she’ll eventually find the right person. Right now I think she has enough on her plate. Well, I will see you later saiai, I want to check out the new medical equipment. Mariko walked away chuckling, “Men and their toys…”
Keiko dropped her stuff into her cabin. No, our cabin now. she thought with a grin. She was eager to get to the bridge and get the Aeon ready for departure. I hope that Ise-Taii will allow me to take the ship out today. I want to see how different it feels using the SPINE interface. She gave a wave to Yani, “See you later.” It will certainly feel like old times now with Yani back. We’ll be on the night shift together. Lots of time to talk and plan. She made her way to bridge.

Ruiko manned his station, running system checks. From around the ship the members of the crew were reporting their status. He reviewed the repair reports, but waited for Ruri and Usaga to confirm for them selves. While he waited he worked on his tactical analysis program he thought about while on leave. The Taii requires tactical data as quickly as possible. Hopefully the series of programs I am working on with help me get her that data faster.

Hoshi was at his desk in the Med Bay, going over the operations manual for the new PMS-1. Wish I had this back on Sairen. I would have been able to tell that Mariko was okay without having to take her back to the ship. This will definitely help improve my effectiveness as a medical officer on off ship assignments. I wonder who I can use as a test subject. I’ll have to wait until we’re underway. Katae wouldn’t appreciate me interfering with the crew in getting the Aeon ready. Wait, I can try it on myself. Hoshi then walked over to the charging station and took out one of the PMS. He took the hypospray loaded it and then injected himself. He watched on the control pad as the data started to come in, then he tied the control pad into one of the med panels so he could see the display larger.

Katae sat at her desk in her suite. The comforting sub-harmonics of the primary systems coming online registered with her body. There was no mistaking the feeling of ship under its own power. Eternity please advise me when Gi is on station. I want to talk her through her first SPINE access. Ise sent telepathically. Katae looked again at the charts, Hard to believe that there are so many unexplored systems, just outside the Ketsurui Military Sector. Well, that just means plenty of work for us. She turned off the display and went over to her bookshelf. She had picked up a few books from the Ship’s store aboard the Ikoi station. Well, we’ll be out for awhile doing this run of four star systems. That should give me time to read all of these. she thought.

Ise-Taii, Keiko-Juni has reported to the bridge and is awaiting your arrival. Eternity informed Katae telepathically. Eternity, it is not necessary for you to use my rank when talking telepathically. You may call me by my first name. Katae said heading towards her door. It was a short trip from her suite to the bridge. She entered the bridge and Tso-Chui announced, “Captain on the Bridge.” “As you were people. Ruiko what’s our status.” Katae asked taking her station. “Ma’am all stations report we are secure and ready for departure. Engineering reports all repairs meet with their approval.” Ruiko couldn’t help but to give a small grin. “They are also requesting permission to perform inspection of the Main Array once we are under way.” “Permission granted Tso. Keiko-Juni disengage the moorings and bring us out of the Ikoi under manual controls.”

“Manual control ma’am? Shouldn’t I use my SPINE interface.” What was the purpose of getting the transfer if I’m still going to fly manually. Keiko thought. “Two reasons Keiko, first for simple activities, it isn’t necessary to use SPINE. And second, you have never flown a ship with a SPINE interface. I would rather we do that once we are under way. You will need some time to get use to the experience.” The Taii responded. “Yes ma’am. I understand.” Don’t I feel silly now. Of course I have to get used to the interface, what was I thinking. She signaled the station to remove the moorings. The Aeon floated free in the dock, she watched as the doors opened revealing the stars beyond. Once the doors were open wide enough, she guided the ship out into free space.
Katae watched as Gi brought the Aeon out of the Ikoi. I know how she feels, when I made the transition to a Valkyrja I couldn’t wait to try use the SPINE.. Once the ship was a good distance from the station she got up and walked over to her. “So Keiko-Juni are you ready for your first experience with the SPINE?” Keiko turned towards, “Yes ma’am. I am most anxious to see what it is like.” “Okay, then we will start you at twenty-five percent data transfer to give you a chance to get used to the experience.” Eternity, restrict SPINE data rate for the Starship Operations station to twenty-five percent, we’ll increase in 5% increments on my mark. Understood Katae. “Okay Gi, close your eyes and concentrate on your interface.”

Gi felt her pulse increase from her anxiety. Relax damn it, this is going to be great. She closed her eyes as the Taii instructed and focused her attention on finding the interface. Then data started surging through it. She could feel the Aeon as an extension of herself. Her body responded to the influx of data. The data continued to increase to the level the Taii specified. The amount of information that she was able to process was staggering. Her body systems responded in kind. Her nervous system carrying the extra data increased its response time. This had the effect of heightening all her physical senses. She focused her attention on the SPINE and ignored her other senses. She monitored the ship sensors, and systems. Then data started to overwhelm her, she started to panic. “Gi, relax, don’t fight it.” A voice called to her, it took her a moment to realize it was the Taii. “You’re at the threshold, just push through it and you’ll be just fine. Trust me, just breath your way through it.” She did as the Taii instructed and focused on her breathing. After a moment or so, the data flow increased and she experienced a sense of spatial awareness. She was suddenly one with the Aeon. It was for a moment as if the ship was her body. She spent the next period of time controlling the ship, using its systems as easily as she would her own body. Then she disengaged the interface. After a moment or two she felt her body systems return to normal. She turned towards the Taii. “Thank you for assisting me ma’am. That was unbelievable.” The Taii smiled at her, “No problem Keiko, I’ve been there myself.”
Ruiko sat on the bridge watching the ship sensors from his station. He was running his tactical analysis program through some simulations with the assistance of Eternity. They were re-running the sensor data from the recent battle. The program was able to properly identify the various weapon signatures but the response time was not acceptable. Its still not good enough, I could have gotten the data faster myself. He keyed in a command to abort the program and transfer it back into storage. He then pulled up the live sensor data, even though they were still more than a day out from UX-26 the Aeon sensors were providing some data. UX-26 appeared to be a Main Sequence star, of the F5 Stellar Class. Well at least we won’t have to worry about the star trying to kill us on this trip. he thought.

Usaga sat with Ruri in the fabrication area. They were working on the inspection tool idea that Ruri came up with while on the Ikoi. Usaga loved the idea of creating something new, or different. While they had yet to build a prototype for what they were calling a Small Programmable Inspection Device Remote (SPIDR), they had made significant changes to the concept. From the name they consulted with Eternity regarding images of spiders native to Yamatai. They found species with a slender body and long legs. It would be perfect since they intended for each limb of the device to be a different type of program/sensor. Usaga’s task was the construction of the body while Ruri had to figure out the best way to control the device.
Katae sat in the Wardroom, sipping a cup of Nami’s latest coffee collection. She was trying to analyze the flavor, but there was something she couldn’t identify. She spotted Nami cleaning the buffet. She walked over to her. “Hello Nami, so what is in this coffee.” Nami smiled whimsically, “Ma’am that would be telling, all I will say is that they call it Sachi, and I added a personal spice of my own.” Katae smiled, “I see, well for now I will yield to your wishes Nami. So did you like the fruits that I acquired for the ship?” “Yes Taii, in fact I intend to feature some of them in a fruit salad with today’s lunch.” “Excellent, I will keep an eye of for any future opportunities that I come across. I best be getting to the bridge. Please give me a cup of coffee for Ruiko.” Nami went and prepared a cup of coffee for the Chui, put a no spill lid on it, and handed it to Katae along with a no spill lid for the cup the Taii already had. “Thank you Nami.” Ise said and left for the bridge.
Shina finished her daily workout. She enjoyed the feeling that her routine gave her. It helped her to focus her mind and body. She had hoped that Tso-Chui would be here today as she enjoyed sparring with him. Shina crossed the room and picked up her personal items, and headed to the bathing facilities. After cleaning and putting on a fresh uniform, she went down to the shuttle bay. She planned on doing a complete inspection of both the shuttles to be sure they were ready when they arrived at UX-26. Usaga was waiting for her when she entered the bay. “So Shina are you ready to get your hands dirty?” Usaga asked. “Sure thing, I want to know every thing there is about these shuttles. I might have to make emergency repairs without you nearby.” Shina answered with a chuckle. Together they set about opening the various maintenance panels and checking all the systems.

Hoshi sat at his desk, looking at the crew members medical records. Why are the command types always reluctant to getting their regular examinations. he thought, while entering a reminder for Ise and Tso to report to medical within the next twenty-four hours for their three month check. Nami came into the Medbay carrying a cup of coffee. “I brought you some coffee Dr Dai.” Nami said offering the cup. Hoshi took it, “You did not have to bring me a cup Nami.” “It was no problem, I figured you would be out, and I had to come here for training on the new medical scanner you told me about.” “That’s true. Well have a seat and give me a moment to finish filing these reports and we’ll get started.
The Aeon was approaching the outer limits of the UX-26 system. Eternity had enough sensor data on the system for Katae to make a plan. The internal sensors indicated that Katae was in her cabin, but was not asleep, even though she reportedly went to bed several hours ago. She manifested her avatar in holographic form in the office side of the Taii’s cabin. “Katae, is something wrong? It is hours into your sleep cycle and you are not asleep.” She said in a quiet voice so as not to startle the Taii. “Hello Eternity nothing is wrong per say. I do not sleep so well this time of year.” “Perhaps you should speak with Dai-Shoi he might be able to prescribe something for you.” Eternity watched Katae sigh, “Unfortunately Eternity there is nothing in Hoshi’s medical supplies that can really help me. This is the day my family died. I never sleep on it. I’ll be fine. I’m sure you had some reason to speak to me beside my nocturnal activities.” “Yes Katae I have completed long range scan of the UX-26 system.” “Excellent, notify the crew when they awaken to report to the Wardroom and we’ll go over the data then.” Eternity started to fade, “As you wish Katae.” “Eternity, thanks for checking on me.”
That morning the crew of the Aeon gathered in the Wardroom, and waited for Ise-Taii to come in. From the window in the wardroom they watched as the ship came to a stop, with system UX-26 sitting on the horizon. Then Katae walked into the room with a smile on her face, “Good morning people.” She paused as she watched them turn towards her and noticed that she was wearing a furisode, the dress was a brilliant blue with silver flowers decorating it. She fabricated earlier that morning with Eternity’s assistance. All of her crew looked at her with the most incredulous looks on their faces. Ise formed a frown and said aloud. “Eternity has there been a complete break down in discipline aboard the Aeon.” “No Taii, discipline remains good.” the AI replied. “Tso-Chui can you explain to me why you and the rest of the crew are out of uniform?” Ise asked fighting to keep from smiling. Tso stepped forward, “Taii, I do not understand. All the crew is wearing proper Star Army uniforms. Only you seem to be dressed strangely.” “Eternity did you not pass on to the crew the orders for the day.” “No Taii, I was waiting for your arrival.” The AI replied. “Darn, good then that means there will be no need for discipline. Eternity please post the orders of the day.”

The Wardroom was suddenly filled with the Anthem of Yamatai. All crew members of the ship immediately came to attention. After the anthem concluded Eternity said in a loud voice. “In recognition that this is the First Day of the thirty-first year of the Empire; Ise-Taii has declared this a day of celebration and festivities. Crew members are to wear, bright festive clothing, as the uniform of the day. Ise-Taii authorizes all personnel to make use of the ship’s fabrication facilities if necessary. Military protocol is relaxed for the next twenty-four hours. All personnel once properly attired are to report to the Wardroom at 1400hrs to decorate the Wardroom for this evening’s festivity. Volunteers are requested to turn out to the galley to assist with making food and treats for the festivities.”

After a brief pause Katae looked at the crew, “Tso-Chui… no that’s not right Ruiko, do you or any of the crew have a problem with these orders?” She asked with a grin. Ruiko looked at the others, then turned back and smiled at Katae, “No ma’am the orders are just fine, with your permission we will go and get into the uniform of the day. All hands go and prepare to make merry.” A raucous cheer went out from the crew, and they soon left the wardroom. Eternity thanks for helping me with that. Its been a while since I’ve celebrated the new year. she sent telepathically.
Katae sat on the bridge resplendent in her furisode, sipping her coffee. She chose to man the bridge so that all hands were free to make their personal arrangements for the festivities. The main screen was filled with the UX-26 star. “You’ll just have to wait until tomorrow. It is not like you are going anywhere. Eternity shall we pass the time with a game of Go?” The image on the view screen was replaced with the game. Eternity put the pieces in the starting position.

Mariko scurried about the cabin she shared with her husband. The idea of a party, especially one suggested by Katae had her mind in a whirl. What should I wear? I still can’t believe that dress that Katae was wearing. So have to look for something that will fit the occasion, but not outdo her. She pulled out a book that she had gotten while on station. When she found what she was looking for she headed down to the fabrication area.

Ruiko was checking himself out in his new outfit. He opted for a something between a samurai and a pirate. He even fabricated a fake sword to wears on his hip. He saw Shina looking for something to wear and had offered her some suggestions. He wondered what she would come up with.
Shina looked at the handiwork Ruri, Usaga, and herself had done with decorating the wardroom and the lounge. Bright colored streamers and paper flowers adorned every surface that they could attach them too. Each of the tables had flickering lights, that looked like candles and the standard lighting had been reduced to a more gentle setting. From the galley Yani called out “Hey, if you three are done decorating, we could use some help bringing out the food and such to the buffet.” “Sure thing we’ll be right there.” She took a step and only her heightened reflexes kept her from falling on her face. Whose great idea was it to wear these geta sandals. Oh that’s right it was mine. Tricky things and dangerous to try to walk on the balls of your feet with.

Nami grabbed the first of several platters of food that she and Yani had put together. If I did not enjoy cooking so much this would not be must of a fun day. She thought. Still it was nice working with Yani. She has so many interesting stories, the places she’s seen, and come to think of it, most of her stories seem to involve the mischief she and Gi would get into.
Katae was still manning the bridge of the Aeon. It was time to head down to join the party. She set the CFS to full defensive, and put the ship in stealth mode. “Running silent Eternity anything shows up contact me immediately.” She said as she left the bridge.

As she approached the wardroom she could hear, laughter, and music. Stepping in she saw all of the crew outfitted in the wildest assortment of colors and styles. She quickly found the source of the music. Hoshi had brought his Anaba. Oh dear, I did not know he still had that infernal machine. she thought with a chuckle. She waved to a few people and approached Hoshi. “You had to bring that thing?” Hoshi smiled broadly, “Now what is a party without Karaoke?” “So you consider Karaoke a right of passage for the crew I see. I’m going to get something to eat and drink. I’ll catch up with you and Mariko later.”

She crossed the room to the buffet. There were plenty of food stuffs, stuffed rolls, sweet breads and pastries. There was a good assortment of fruits. Katae walked along the buffet selecting a variety of things to sample. She grabbed a glass of Yamataian wine and then walked over to one of the tables. Katae nibbled at her food, and looked around at the crew. People were forming into small casual groups, talking, laughing. Looks like everyone is having a wonderful time.

Hoshi waited until everyone had finished their food from the first pass at the buffet. He then walked to the front of the wardroom. “Everyone, can I have you attention please.” He called out in a loud voice. It took a minute or two before he had everyone in the room looking at him. “Okay, everyone has had something to eat, so now its time to have some fun. Some of you may be familiar with the concept of Karaoke, and since we’ve several new crewmembers, some may not. So I’ll explain it simply. Each of us in the room will take a turn. You will come here and select a song. The Anaba will then start playing the song and provide the words in the air for you to read. You will then of course sing. You will be scored by what the Anaba says, but more importantly by what your fellow crew members have to say.” Hoshi paused and looked around the room; the younger Nekovalkyrja had blank looks on their faces. “Okay, just to get things started and to ensure that no one tries to chicken out, we will have our Taii start things.”

Katae almost choked on the piece of fruit she was eating. What? Me? I’ve never participated with the karaoke. she thought. In fact, every time he brought that machine out, she made sure to be else where. She looked around at the crew, their faces expectant. Katae stood up and walked over to Hoshi. “You will pay for this Hoshi.” She whispered with a grin. She activated the system and searched for a song that she felt comfortable with. Then she activated the system. She looked out at the crew, and felt her heart flutter, battle was easy, karaoke was worse. As the words started to appear, she did her best to sing them. Starting out she was awkward, after all she’d never done karaoke, and singing was not something she had done in years. As she relaxed and just enjoyed the music, the singing came easier. When the song ended, the crew applauded. This being karaoke, she wasn’t sure if they were applauding her performance, or for having the guts to try. She glanced down at the Anaba and the score said GOOD. She walked over and handed the microphone to Hoshi, “You’re turn she said.”
Mariko watched, and laughed with the rest of the group, as everyone had taken their turn at karaoke. Next came charades with Eternity supplying the phrases. Then the crew started dancing, at first the music was fast paced, and most of the crew danced together. As the evening wore on, the music slowed, and people started pairing off or forming smaller quieter groups. She noticed that as the evening became more intimate, that Katae made her way out of the wardroom. It was too much to hope that she would have found someone to spend the night with. She thought. But the fact that she set up this party and actually participated with the crew in the games was good. I can’t ask for more than that. She walked over to her husband who was telling one of his oft told stories for the third time. “Hoshi that is enough retelling old stories.” She said taking his hand she led him to the dance area. “Let’s dance.” Together they danced for a while, before leaving for their quarters to celebrate in a more private fashion.

The next morning found the crew gathered in the wardroom. Ruiko was briefing the crew members on the initial sensor data. He gave a discrete wink at Shina when no one would notice. “We’ve identified four planets, one of which is terrestrial in composition. UX-26 should be a fairly easy system to chart.” He said. “We should not have the problem we did in Sairen, so we will be able to deploy the OGS properly, and use one of the shuttles to perform aerial reconnaissance.” “Sounds good, Tso-Chui.” The Taii replied. “Let’s go ahead and enter the system.” She stood up and left the room. Ruiko turned to the others, “Stations people. We will be underway shortly. Science personnel I want you ready to start detailed scans as soon as possible.”
The crew of Aeon started their exploration of the system. Gi was flying the ship, while the Taii monitored the reports from the other crew members. As they plunged deeper into the system, the sensors clearly identified three hydrogen gas giants as the outer most planets of the system. The outer most one had one small moon, just a small bare rock from what the sensors showed. Gi angled the ship towards the next planet and accelerated. The next gas giant was about the same as the first, with two moons instead of one. Unci Gi thought, So far this system is turning out to be pretty boring. As they approached the inner most gas giant, she noticed that it was huge easily twice the size of the other two. It was also ringed by two beautiful rings, and eight moons orbited the planet. Eternity showed that there was only one other planet in the system. There was not much sense in worrying about the two planetoid belts. She brought the ship into standard orbit. “Taii, we are in orbit. Science can deploy the OGS on your command.”

Katae turned to Mariko, “You are clear to deploy the OGS.” She looked at the planet below them on the screen. Definitely not the lush green planet I was hoping for. she thought. “Ma’am, the OGS platform is deployed and is initiating deployment of its MOGS.” Mariko said. “Okay, then let’s go down and take a look. Gin take us down, Mariko provide coordinates for our first site.” “Yes ma’am” they both replied simultaneously. Katae walked over to the operating station. “Ruiko I was thinking about having Gi and Shina use the Fox T4’s to fly over the landing area to survey. I would like you to coordinate their efforts. You’re thoughts?” She said to him. “That would be an effective use of our resources. So far there are no indications of anything significant for this planet. So using the shuttles to explore the region by air is the best approach. Once we touch down I will creating a search grid for each of them to use.” He replied. “Personally I would rather be other there doing the exploring, but I want to let our junior crew members have the opportunity to do some of the exploration. Give them some experience in a relatively safe environment. I’ll be in my cabin reviewing the data we have.”

The Aeon sliced through the atmosphere, and streaked across the empty planets sky. A short time later the ship was settling down on the planets surface. Once the ship settled the only sound was that of the wind and the hull cooling down.
Shina sat in the Aeon shuttle bay. She waved to Gi in shuttle two. “Shuttle one ready for launch.” She said over the comm. “Shuttle two ready to launch.” Gi replied. “Shuttle one and two, you are both cleared for launch, I have uploaded your search vectors to your onboard computers.” Ruiko said to the two off them. Shina lifted the shuttle, and eased it out of the bay, once clear she accelerated and climbed to the desired altitude. This is more like it, open sky, not stuck in orbit while the rest of the crew explored. she thought. She adjusted course and proceeded along her search grid. She completed her first grid, and then another.

After four grids the excitement was definitely wearing off. One of the shuttle sensors went off. Zesuaium? Must be a piece of debris that impacted. she thought. “Shuttle one to Aeon, I picked up a reading of Zesuaium. I’m going down for a closer look.” “Roger that, Gi proceed to Shina’s position and provide back up.” Ruiko’s voice called over the speaker. Shina slowed the shuttle and brought in lower heading towards the reading. As she approached the reading was much stronger, then she could see the source of the reading. Half embedded in the ground was a Ke-T2 Kitty shuttle, a long deep trench carved in the ground a testament to its crash landing. “Ruiko..” Damn it not his first name. she chided herself mentally, “Tso-Chui, I have found what appears to be a crashed shuttle. Suggest that shuttle two return to the ship, and bring additional personnel to investigate the crash.” “Acknowledged. Keiko-Juni, return to the ship.” Ruiko ordered. “On my way sir.” Gi’s reply came across the speaker.
A short while later Ruiko, Hoshi, Usaga, were boarding shuttle two. Katae was minding the store as there was no other pilot aboard. She watched the shuttle depart. “Eternity T2 series shuttles are relatively short range, correct?” She asked. “That is correct Katae, there is no system close enough for a Ke-T2 series shuttle to have flown here from. Nor are there any records of any vessels in their region being lost.” “Hmm.. so we have ourselves a real mystery.” She pulled up the data they had on the system. There was no debris pattern that she could see in the sensor logs. “It is possible that the ship could have been lost in the planetoid belts. But that doesn’t explain the shuttle. I mean if the shuttle was from a ship that was damaged. Then they would have sent a distress signal.”

Ruiko sat in the back of the shuttle wearing an AMES. He felt decided naked without the reassuring feel of power armor. When he felt the shuttle touch down, he stood up. “Okay, everyone seal up your suit.” Once he saw that everyone had a positive seal, he opened the hatch. He walked down the ramp. Looking up at the pale orange sky, he could make out the ring that surrounded the world. He made his way over to the crashed Kitty. It was covered in dust and dirt and blended into the surroundings. “Usaga check out the exterior, I’m going to try the hatch, you are with me Hoshi.” He found the hatch and brushed away the dirt and dust from the control panel. He pushed the button, nothing happened. “I didn’t really expect that to work.” He said. , He opened the emergency release panel. Ruiko pulled the lever in side and the door shifted a bit. Normally gravity would pull it down, but the angle of the shuttle was preventing that. He positioned himself on one side and Hoshi got on the other. Together they pushed the hatch away from the shuttle, enough for gravity to take over. The interior of the shuttle was a jumble of supplies, panels were hanging by wires, a testament to the force of impact.” “Tso-Chui I have found indications of weapons fire on the hull. It looks like she was shot down.” Usaga said over the comm.
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