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RP: YSS Aeon [YSS Aeon] - The Beginning

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SARPaholic & Admin
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Ise Katae examined herself in the mirror of her hotel room. Her light brown cat ears stuck out against her raven black hair. She removed the earring made from her mother’s wedding ring from its protective box and put it in her left ear. It was the only thing she had of her long dead family and she wore it only for special occasions. Her bright green eyes sparkled in her reflection. It was going to take time for her to get used to the Taii pin on her uniform. Her uniform looked strange with out the YSS Katana patch, something she would rectify once she was on her ship. The promotion and simultaneous assignment of her ship were like a dream come true. She smoothed her hair for the third time, before deciding her appearance was acceptable. She put the last few of her things into her bags, a quick survey of the room showed that she had not left anything behind. She picked up her bags. “Tonight I will be sleeping in my cabin on the Aeon,” She thought heading for the door.

As Katae walked thru the passageways in the Gemini Star Fortress to the bay where the Aeon awaited her, she ran through the data she had spent the evening studying. The Plumeria-class was a small powerful ship, more than capable of defending itself from any threat she was likely to encounter on her mission. Katae did not bother working on a boarding speech, since there would be no crew aboard, time enough for that once she made her selections at the Ilkoi NK-X1-100 station. She walked up to the access way to the Aeon and thought her access code to the station computer. The door open and she stepped in. There bathed in the lights of the bay sat the Aeon. Her light blue hull gleamed like a polished gem.

Katae walked gracefully towards the vessel feeling a bit like a youngling on their birthday. She began visually identifying the features she had read about last night. Unmistakable was the Ke-S3-W3020 Array like a great sword poised to strike any foe. She admired the pylons sporting their Ke-S3-W2901 cannons and the auxiliary engines. Once she completed her circuit around the ship Katae walked toward the airlock. She could not resist sliding her fingers along the hull where the name and registration were painted.

Katae paused outside of the open airlock. This was a life changing moment, and she wanted to commit it to memory. In the next moment her life would be forever changed. Stepping into the airlock she said, “This is Taii Ise Katae assuming command of YSS Aeon NG-X1-409. Encrypt all primary command codes to my authorization.” She sent her personal authorization to the MEGAMI.

“Command codes have been encrypted. Welcome aboard Ise-Taii.” the female voice of the MEGAMI responded. The outer door of the airlock closed and the inner door cycled. “Is there anything you require at the moment?”

“Yes there is, please bring the primary systems up to launch mode, and get authorization for us to launch for shakedown. I’m going to stow my gear.” Katae picked up her bags and moved through the corridors following the path she memorized the night before.
As Katae navigated through the passages, she could feel the Aeon coming to life. Systems on the ship responding to the increase of energy as the Aether generator came online. She crossed the bridge looking at the various stations and their indicators came on. She opened the door to her cabin and stopped. “This is unbelievable,” she thought, “all this space for one person.” She walked into the room. “Rank does have some privileges” as she checked out the private bathroom and the walk-in closet. “This closet is bigger than my first quarters.” She said out loud as she put her bags in it. “Time enough to pack later,” she thought.

“Ise-Taii” MEGAMI intoned, “we have been given our departure clearance. We are cleared to exit for initial shakedown in 15 minutes.” Katae closed the closet door, “Thank you, I’ll be on the bridge momentarily.”

Katae left the cabin and walked around the stations ringing the bridge. She checked the indicators on each station. Once satisfied that all systems appeared normal, she took her seat at the command station. “Aeon, disconnect external power and signal we are ready to depart.” “Station control acknowledges, bay doors are now open. Shall I take us out Taii?” “No Aeon, I will take us out on manual, then once we are clear I want to engage the SPINE system.” Katae signaled for the landing to retract. The Aeon slid easily out of the bay into open space.

Once clear of the station, Katae activated the SPINE controls. Now she was aware of the vessel in ways she could never be physically. The MEGAMI fed data to her as fast as she could process it. As she got used to the sheer amount of data being fed, she smoothly rolled the vessel and engaged the STL engines. She monitored the performance of the Aeon and her myriad systems. Making note of a few items that she would have the techs take a look at. While all systems were within normal operating parameters, a few were only just. In a combat situation a system that was not at optimum would fail sooner and Katae would be sure that was not to happen with the Aeon.

All too soon it was time to return to the dock where they had left a few short hours ago. Katae turned over control of the vessel to the MEGAMI. She left the bridge and went to the wardroom, to start making a list of crew requirements. She doubted that she would be able to get experienced crew members for all her positions. Making her list she annotated which ones she could take new personnel. “Aeon, please transmit this request to Personnel Management so I can start reviewing candidates.” She thought beaming her request to the computer. Standing she moved to the window in the wardroom and watched with pride as the AI brought the ship in smoothly.

An hour later Katae was sitting at her desk looking at the response from PM. They had 2 Yamataians and 2 Nekovalkyrja with experience. Looking at the names of the crew members she recognized two of them from the YSS Katana. She accepted those two and scheduled an interview for the other two. She then transmitted her request to have 4 new Nekos prepared for the ship. If all went well she would have her desired crew number. Katae then set about working on her requisition for equipment for the Aeon. While filling out her request she had Aeon send a message to the Ketsurui representatives she spoke with asking for the Mindy-3 he offered her for field testing to be delivered.
Katae spent the rest of the day engaging the MEGAMI from her station on the bridge. They ran a series of simulations, most of them tactical. At the end of the last simulation she and the AI had a discussion about a name. It was awkward to say the least to refer to the AI by the ship’s name so the MEGAMI chose Eternity.

After that she left the Aeon to get some dinner, and pick up a few ‘luxury’ items. When she returned it was with a small selection of books that she put in her bookcase. She also took out the small box that she kept her earring in, removed the earring and put it in the case. She then put the case on the shelf next to her books. Then taking advantage of her personal shower she cleaned up and slid between the sheets of her bed. “Eternity, wake me at 530 hours.” She said then fell fast asleep.

A chiming followed by Eternity’s contralto voice woke her, “Ise-Taii, it is 530 hours, you requested to be awakened.” Katae sat up with a stretch, “Thank you Eternity, what is the status of the requests that I submitted.” She crossed the room, pulled out a fresh uniform and got dressed.

“The equipment order has been approved by the Quartermaster division. They will be delivering the requested items at 1300 hours. The two crew members you accepted have been given their orders. They will arrive at 0900 hours. Your interviews with the other two are at 1030 and 1100 hours. Your other crew members will be delivered at 1200 hours.” “Excellent, sounds like a busy day then.” Guess I will go grab a bite to eat at the cafeteria. She thought. Be nice to finally have a cook on board.Eternity, I am heading out for breakfast. When I get back what say we do another couple of simulations prior to the arrival of Hoshi and Mariko.” “I will be standing by Taii.”

Breakfast was the usual mass produced fare that military kitchens prepared. Katae barely tasted the food as she was busy making a new list of things to get done. Once she was finished she gulped down her tepid coffee. She returned to the Aeon with enough time to run through three simulations before Eternity informed her of the arrival of the first crew members. She shut down the SPINE and left the bridge.

Katae made her way to the shuttle bay where she had told Eternity to direct them. When she entered the bay Hoshi came to attention. “Shoi Dai Hoshi reporting for duty ma’am” His wife Mariko likewise came to attention and reported. She returned their bow. “At ease. It is good to see the two of you. So why did you leave the Katana?” “Well, they retired the ship, and the Shosa received a promotion, so they split up the crew. We opted for a change of pace and signed up for Exploration. Imagine our surprise when we saw your name on our orders.” Hoshi responded. Katae made a mental note to send a message to her former commander regarding her promotion. “Well we will have time to catch up later. Right now Hoshi I need you to go to Medical center and make a list of anything you require. Mariko after you stow your gear go on up to the bridge and start familiarizing yourself with the science station.” Her friends bowed and left the bay.
Eternity added Nitô Juni Dai Mariko to the bridge access list and Shoi Dai Hoshi to the Medical bay. She added their service data to her records for the Taii. ”The Taii chose well, both of these people have exemplary service records. And since they served together she is already aware of their behavior. I am puzzled though why she is considering Chui Tso Ruiko for First Officer. His service record shows a curious pattern of exemplary behavior followed by disciplinary actions. I am sure she has her reason.”

Katae went to her cabin and picked up the folder that Eternity had provided to her on Tso and Keiko. She checked her appearance before leaving the room to head to the briefing room Eternity reserved for her. It was like most of the generic function rooms, painted a utilitarian pale green. The room was setup as she requested, a small desk/table that with a chair on either side. A small pitcher of ice water and three glasses sat on tray to the side. She walked around to the other side and took her seat. Katae put the folders on the table and waited.

Chui Tso Ruiko walked down the hallway to the briefing room he was instructed to appear at. I wonder just what kind of leader this Tsaii is. According to the database she’s newly promoted. Which means she’ll probably be trying to impress people and make a name for herself.[/] He found the door to the room and looked at his personal chronometer. He gave a slight tug on the bottom of his tunic to ensure it was smooth before hitting the door chime.

A few minutes later the door chime sounded. She looked at the wall chronometer it read 1030. Well at least he’s punctual. she pressed the intercom and said. “Enter Tso Ruiko Chui.” The door opened and in walked Chui Tso. He stepped into the room and stopped and bowed. “Tso Ruiko Chui reporting for interview.” She noted that his appearance, uniform crisp and properly fitted his brown hair neat and proper.

“Good Morning Tso-Chui, please be seated.” Katae said, reaching for the pitcher of water and pouring a glass for herself. She watched as the Yamataian crossed the room, he pulled the chair back just enough to slide into it and sat at attention. She sipped the water and put the glass down and opened his folder. “You have an interesting service record Tso-Chui. Your performance reports show you to be an exceptional officer, and yet lately you have a pattern of disciplinary actions. Why is that?” She asked raising her eyebrow slightly.

“I’ve just made some poor judgments lately ma’am” Tso replied. “I was reprimanded and haven’t made the same mistakes again.”

“Yes, I’ve noticed that,” Katae responded putting the papers down. “I also noticed something else. It seems that these three disciplinary actions all occurred less than a month from your being considered for promotion. Any reason for that or is it just a coincidence.” She said fixing the Chui in her gaze.

”Damn, she’s sharp I have to give her that. Do I play coy, or just deal with her straight. She’s giving me a chance to explain it. Best play it straight.” He thought. Clearing his throat, “It is not a coincidence Tsaii. I intentionally did them so as to keep myself from being promoted.”

Katae blinked mentally, ”Okay I knew something was strange, but wasn’t expecting this.” She leaned forward slightly, “Why in stars would you do something like that? With your service record you could have already had your own command.”

“Exactly ma’am. The problem is I do not want a command. I enjoy being a First Officer, it is something I am very good at.”

Of all the explanations that Katae could think of that was not one she considered.
Ise-Taii ran through the Star Army Regulations. While she could not fully understand Tso’s feeling, she could not find where his actions violated any specific regulations. She leaned back in her chair, thinking with her fingers steepled in front of her. A dull throbbing started at her left temple; this was so not what she needed at this time. Putting her hands on the table she asked, “Did you ever inform your commander that you had no desire for command?”

“No ma’am, and if you knew my Taisa you would know why.” Tso replied. He sat looking at the Tsaii he could tell by the way forehead wrinkled she was thinking hard about this. “Ishi-Taisa would never understand. His way of thinking it was the duty of every junior office to be dream of having a command of their own.” Realizing how that might sound he added, “No offense meant ma’am”

“None taken, I’ll admit that for a while I longed for my own command. The question before us is; are you someone I should take on my ship?” she paused to read his body language. “Tso-Chui I am willing to give you a chance. But, if you pull any more of those stunts, I will kick you off the Aeon at my first convenience, and if you’re lucky we will be at a space station.” She added with a wry smile. “Get your gear and report to the Aeon by 1230 hours.”

Tso stood up quickly and bowed. “Thank you Tsaii, there won’t be anymore problems. I swear.” He backed towards the door and left. Katae saw the start of a smile appear on his face as he exited the room. After he left Katae stood up and walked around the room.

She returned to her seat and massaged her temples. At least the next interview should be easy. she thought. Nothing in her service record looked unusual. According to her records she requested a transfer off her last assignment after losing a crewmate that she was in a relationship with. Katae could easily understand the Nitô Juni’s decision. Personal loss motivates people in many ways. It was only all these years later that she realized her decision to join the Star Army was as much about getting away from her memories as it was about striking back at those who killed her family.

The door chimed and she looked at the chronometer it read 1058. “Hmmm, a bit early, which isn’t a bad thing.” She pressed the intercom and instructed the Nitô Juni to enter. She put Keiko’s folder on top of the other on the desk. She looked up as the Yamataian female entered. Her blonde hair well groomed except for an errant strand in the back. The Juni came to attention, then bowed, “ Keiko Gi Nitô Juni reporting for interview.” “Please have a seat Juni.”

Keiko looked at the officer sitting behind the desk. A brief pang of grief stabbed at her heart when see saw looked at the Taii’s green eyes. They reminded her of her lover Yani. Get a hold of yourself, she thought, breaking down in front of your possible future commander isn’t going to do you any good. She took a breath and let it out slowly and pushed the emotion away. Keiko then walked over and sat in front of the Taii.

Katae watched the Juni’s reaction when the door opened. The brief flash of emotion and pain were evident. Katae restrained herself from reacting, as she watched the young lady compose herself quickly and enter. She has konjou, I’ll giver her credit for that. After the lady sat in front of her. She picked up at the report Eternity had prepared and glanced at it.

“Good morning, you’re service record is very good. You received high marks from your commander so I know you are proficient at your position. I also see that you recently suffered a personal loss.” She put down the report and looked the woman in the eye. “While I can empathize with your situation, I need to know that I can depend on you. So tell me, Keiko-Juni, can I depend on you when I need to?”

Keiko thought for a moment, recalling the ache in her heart waking alone each morning. Knowing that Yani was forever lost to her, but each day it did get easier. “Ma’am, I will not lie to you. Losing Yani was the hardest thing I have had to deal with. But I will not let it affect my performance. Yani wouldn’t want me to, and I won’t dishonor her memory.”

Katae smiled, She’s dealing with it well it seems, she thought. “That’s an honest answer Keiko-Juni, and its good enough for me. Please gather your possessions and report to the Aeon by 1230 hours. As Keiko left the office Katae thought to Eternity, ”Notify Personnel Management that I have accepted Tso and Keiko, and grant them appropriate access on board. I’m returning to the Aeon.
Katae took a slight detour on the way back to buy a few new items for the Aeon’s wardroom. She had just enough time to put the items in the wardroom when Eternity notified her that the last of the crew had arrived. She went down to the vehicle storage area to meet the newest members. As she crossed to the ramp she could see a several containers being offloaded as well as some of the vehicles she had requisitioned.

As she approached the four Nekovalkyrja they came to attention and then bowed. Their new uniforms were still creased from when they were issued to them. “As you were,“ She said standing in front of them. They had that sense of newness that mass produced recruits were known for. “I just want to say that I am glad to have you serving on the Aeon. Together we will strive to serve the Star Army of Yamatai to the best of our abilities. Eternity will direct your to your cabins. Once you stow your gear report back here.”

As she watched the four walk into the ship, she walked over to the wall and picked up the phone. She punched the ship wide code, “Attention all hands: report to the vehicle storage area for cargo duty.” This will be a good opportunity to observe how they work together, and do a bit of bonding. Katae thought. She walked down the ramp and started reviewing the invoices. By the time the crew was assembled she had confirmed that all her requisitions were filled.

She walked back to the crew and Tso-Chui called the crew to attention. “Ok people, here is the drill, I want all that equipment loaded and stowed by 1630hours.” She saw a few of the crew react when they saw the amount of equipment. “If we get all this equipment properly stowed by that time, then dinner is on me. So let’s get moving people, I for one am looking forward to some good Sushi.” The crew scrambled down the ramp and Katae stood for a moment to watch. She listened as Tso started arranging the groups into teams to best accomplish the task given to them.

After about 30 minutes Katae had seen what she needed. Overall the group seemed to mesh; time and training would help improve their rapport. She walked down the ramp and grabbed one of the containers of foodstuffs. She looked at two of the new Nekos who seemed surprised to see her helping. “Is something wrong Shina and Nami?” “No Taii, nothing is wrong.” Nami responded hastily. “I did say that WE were going to load this stuff. I meant that.”

The next several hours were a steady stream of activity. The piles of equipment stacked outside the vessel steadily shrinking. It was 1625hours when the last Akira class hoverbike was secured. After confirming that everything was loaded, Tso Chui called “Cargo Duty Detail, fall in.” The members lined up according to rank, and once in position he turned to Katae. “Ise-Taii, Cargo duty is complete ma’am.” Katae glanced at the chronometer in the vehicle area and confirmed that it was prior to the deadline. “Excellent work people, looks like dinner is on me. Go get cleaned up and report back here in 30 minutes. Dismissed.” She smiled proudly at them, and then headed up to her cabin. “Eternity, please make reservations for nine at the Dragon Pagoda. There is Sushi on the menu. she thought with a smile.
Katae relaxed in her chair on the bridge as the crew ran thru the launch pre-flight. She thought back to the dinner with the crew. Overall she considered it a success; it gave the crew a chance to get to know each other on a personal level. The exception was Gi, which was not entirely a surprise. Even Mariko had difficulty getting her to open up, but eventually did. Perhaps I should give her something constructive to do. she thought. The Byobu I purchases is nice, but it is just a mass produced scene. Perhaps I should ask Keiko to paint me some new panels. I’ll do just that after we complete our run on the Weapons Proven Grounds. She glanced at the data on her console and noted that all stations were reporting ready for departure. Barring any problems at the proving ground, they would not be returning to Gemini Station.

“Gemini Station reports we are clear to depart and proceed to the proving grounds Ise-Taii” Eternity said in her contralto voice. “Very good, Eternity, Signal our acknowledgement.” “Keiko-Nitô Juni, once the bay doors are open, take the Aeon out. And lay in a course for the proving grounds.” “Yes ma’am” Keiko replied. Katae watched the Yamataian execute her orders with efficiency.

Eternity notified the crew when the Aeon was approaching the proving ground. The main screen showed the path they were to follow for the first pass. “All hands assume combat stations, Combined Field System to battle configuration Prime(1).” Katae said to the bridge crew. Tso-Chui relayed her commands to the rest of the ship from the Systems and Safety Monitoring station. Linking in to the Aeon Katae could feel the ship systems reach the specified configuration. “Show me what you can do Keiko-Juni.” Katae said. “Aye Taii,” Gi responded and started her first run through the proving ground.

The Aeon and her crew worked flawlessly during their weapons check. The second and third passes through the testing ground Katae flew the Aeon using her SPINE interface. She was grateful for the numerous battle simulations she and Eternity had run on her first day on the ship.

They waited at the end of the proving ground for their evaluation. Katae paced back and forth on the bridge. We need a rating of at least excellent to be declared ready for duty. I’m sure we should have made that easily. she thought. Finally after Katae had made three more laps around the bridge the signal from the proving ground came through. “YSS Aeon NG-X1-409 your rating for Weapon Proficiency is Superior. You are cleared for duty. Your orders are being transmitted at this time.” A cheer went up from the crew on the bridge that drowned out the one in Katae’s her head.

Taking her seat at her station she entered the ship wide code. “Folks, you already heard the news from the proving ground, I just want to extend my congratulations to all of you. We are en-route to the 4th Squadron’s Ikoi Starbase.”

1 – BC-Prime is the default configuration for the CFS, it provides 34% to shields, 33% to weapons, 33% to propulsion.

End of the Beginning....
[YSS Aeon] - Sairen System

The Aeon sped along its projected course towards the sector of space they were assigned to explore. Eternity monitored the activities of the crew over the past few days since leaving the 4th Squadron’s Ikoi starbase. Ise-Taii had instructed her to test the crew at random intervals by running battle station drills. Both Katae and Eternity were pleased with the last response time results. It was the Gamma shift and most of the crew was asleep. Only Shina-Hei a Neko was on the bridge manning her station. Eternity and Shina were playing a game of Go to pass the time. The Aeon’s sensors picked up a series of radio emissions coming from 35 degrees off their current heading.

“Shina-Hei, I have detected a radio signal of unknown origin.” Eternity spoke her soft female voice filling the quiet bridge. Shina crossed the bridge and sat at the communications station. She put the incoming signal on the speakers. A variety of noises shattered the quiet. Doesn’t sound like anything I’m familiar with, I better wake the Taii she thought. Reaching for the phone she punched in the Captain’s suite number. After a few rings Ise picked up the phone Shina said, “Ise-Taii, my apologies for waking you, but Eternity detected a signal we can’t identify.” “I’ll be right there, get Mariko on the bridge.”

Katae got out of bed and pulled on the exercise uniform she had laid out. She noted that by the ship’s chronometer she’d had 2 hours of sleep. Probably nothing but a pulsar or quasar, but we better investigate. she thought. Exiting the room she walked over to Shina. “Let’s hear what you have.” After a few minutes of listening to the intermittent static and squawks, she had Shina turn off the speaker. Mariko had entered the bridge with her hair still askew. She sat at the science station and started running comparisons.

“Taii the signal does not match any communication format known. Eternity has also run several data recognition pattern searches against it and nothing.” Katae sat in her chair, “So we have a signal coming from a star system approximately 5 light years away. The signal appears to be changing frequency without any apparent pattern or reason other than to get our attention.” Mariko thought for a second, “Ise-Taii, perhaps it’s a beacon, or a distress signal.”

Katae thought about Mariko’s suggestion. “Sounds probable, though since the signal is traveling at light speed whatever it is happened at least 5 years ago. Shina-Hei adjust our course to take us to that system. Maintain cruising speed. Wake the Alpha shift in two hours. I’m going to see about getting a bit more sleep.” Katae waved to Mariko as she headed towards her cabin.
Re: [YSS Aeon] - Sairen System

Two hours later found Katae sipping her cup of coffee, the strong aroma helped clear her mind of cobwebs. She was standing looking at the main screen on the bridge at the star system growing steadily on it. “Tso-Chui, any sign of ships in the system?” Ruiko looked up from his station, “No Taii, the sensors are clear.” “Dai-Juni, what information do you have so far about the system.”

The display on the screen changed to a computer overlay. And the Juni walked over to the screen. “Taii our sensor readings indicate that the star is an M5 Spectral Class, a red dwarf. There are three planets detected. The outer two are your basic hydrogen gas giants, with numerous small moons. We’ll get more data as we get closer to them, but I don’t expect any surprises. The signal we are receiving appears be coming from the innermost planet. It appears to be terrestrial with no satellites.”

Katae looked at the screen and thought for a moment, and then she took her seat. “Keiko-Juni lay in a course to the inner planet.” “Laying in the specified course, Taii.” Gi responded. She turned to her first officer, “Tso-Chui, let’s assume a defensive posture until we know what’s going on.” “Aye ma’am, attention all hands to combat stations, CFS to battle station configuration Gamma (1).” After a few moments he turned to Katae, “Ma’am all stations report at combat stations.”

As the Aeon continued her sojourn through the uncharted system. They scanned the outer planets, making sure nothing was hiding behind their massive bulks. Katae allowed the crew to secure from combat stations. She left the bridge briefly to stretch her legs and get something to eat. Nami anticipating her needs had a fresh cup of coffee and a plate on the warmer waiting for her. Katae took them and took a seat at one of the booth tables in the wardroom. A few of the others were in the wardroom also getting food. She spotted Keiko Gi by her light purple hair getting something to eat. She waved at her and motioned for her to join her.

Keiko saw Ise-Taii sitting at the table in the right corner of the ward room. She took her tray and walked over. What does she want with me? she wondered. She stood at the table, “Yes, ma’am?” Ise pointed to one of the chairs, “Please join me, I have a request that I want to make of you.” Keiko placed her tray on the table, and took a seat opposite of Ise, she sat straight up in her chair. “What does the Taii request?” Katae chuckled, “First, relax, what I what to ask you is not as your Taii, but as myself Katae. I recently purchased a Byobu for my cabin. It is nice, but I wanted something actually painted by a person. So I was wondering if you would be willing to paint new panels for it. I would compensate you for the materials.” The Taii wants me to paint something for her? she took a sip of her water to help moisten her mouth. “I would be honored ma’am. What would you like painted on the panels?” “I was thinking something from nature, some various flowers and perhaps a tree or such.” Katae answered. Keiko thought for a moment, “I will sketch something when I have some free time for your review.”

“Ise-Taii, we are approaching the planet.” Eternity interrupted. “That will be fine Keiko.” Katae stood, “I’m on my way Eternity."

1 – BC-Gamma is the defensive configuration for the CFS, it provides 60% to shields, 10% to weapons, 30% to propulsion.
[YSS Aeon] - Sairen System

Katae grabbed her coffee and put a cover on it as she left the wardroom. She made her way down to the bridge, as she entered Tso-Chui called out “Captain on the Bridge.” “As you were people.” She responded, as she crossed the bridge to her station. She secured her coffee on the desk, “Science what have you got Dai-Juni?”

Mariko switched the main screen to computer overlay. “Initial scans show nitrogen, oxygen atmosphere with high particulates in the lower atmosphere. Gravity comes in at point nine g’s. We are picking up energy sources and signal emissions from numerous locations.”

Katae turned to her first officer, “Tactical Report Tso-Chui.” “Ma’am sensors still show no sign of any vessels within range. I advise we stand down to condition normal.” “I agree with your assessment Tso.” She replied turning back to the screen. “All hands we are at condition normal.” Tso said into his phone. “Keiko-Juni, take us into standard orbit.” “Yes-Taii, I am calculating standard orbital insertion trajectory.” Keiko replied as she entered her commands into the console. “Calculations complete, initiating orbital insertion.” Katae watched as the image on the screen shifted as the Aeon altered course and velocity to enter orbit. “Chui, you have the bridge I’m going down to the Armor Bay. I’ll be back to oversee the deployment of the Survey Platform.”

Ise secured her Mindy M2-3A armor back into its rack and powered it down. She had completed the installation and operational check of the Ke-M2-E3000 Leader Support Pack onto her armor. She was familiar with the E3000 having used it on several operations on the Katana. She decided this planet would be an ideal opportunity to do some field testing and training with her crew. She left the bay heading for the bridge.

Dai-Juni was at her station the screens streaming the data she was getting from the Aeon’s sensors. Not exactly what I would call a vacation spot. she thought fiddling with one of her braids. She had identified the locations of the most powerful energy sources for her report. She watched as Ise-Taii came on the deck. She’s definitely a different person than when we met. And I think command has helped her even more, having a surrogate family, people to worry about has given her reason to change. She sent the necessary commands to check the OGSP, and prepare it for deployment.

Katae took her station on the bridge, “Report people. Are we clear for OGSP deployment?” “Operations is green.” Keiko-Juni replied. “Communications is green.” Tso-Chui answered. “Science and Sensors are green – Taii”, Dai answered. “Excellent, Juni deploy the OGSP.” Katae looked at her console showing the towing module disengaging and the OGSP maneuvering into its programmed orbit. “OGSP is clear and data link is working Taii.” Keiko said. “Excellent work, update me on what we know about this planet.”

Keiko switched the main screen to display her report. “It’s a fairly inhospitable world Taii. Temperatures at the equator run from 102c to -30c. No visible surface water, and there appears to be significant storm activity along the terminator. I have plotted the most powerful energy sources for investigation.” Keiko switched off the report and the screen showed the approaching sunrise.

“Massive radiation surge approaching Taii” Tso Chui announced loudly.
[YSS Aeon] - Sairen System

Ise glanced at the view screen a wall of malevolent energy appeared to rush towards the ship as it came around to the day side of the planet. Unchi Katae swore mentally, “Battle Stations, CFS to configuration Gamma. Tso-Chui who is shooting at us?” She kept her voice calm but carrying a bit of annoyance in the tone. The Aeon lurched as the wave rolled over it. The crew was tossed back and forth in their chairs as the ship attempted to correct. Katae steadied herself by gripping her console. The bridge lighting dimmed briefly as the energy subsystems were attempting to compensate. The indicators showed the CFS coming up. “Taii, energy wave does not match any known weapon signature.” Ruiko replied.

Katae looked at Dai-Juni, “Science I want an analysis of whatever that is now.” She felt the ship shudder from an impact on the shield. “Keiko get us out of this now, 90 degrees to starboard, maximum sublight.” The Aeon surged forward as it banked away from the planet. A few more impacts shook the ship. The energy discharge on the main screen cleared as the Aeon surged into free space.

Once the sensors showed they were completely clear, Katae said, “Keiko, bring us around and slow down, let’s see what was going on. Tso-Chui I want a complete status report on the Aeon.” Syncing into the Aeon via her SPINE implant, she saw an enormous band of fire that stretched back towards to sun. As Katae watched the band continued to expand and dissipate. She disconnected from the SPINE. “Good job Keiko. Status Tso?”

“Ma’am system check shows all sections are green. No damage to any systems, crew reports only minor injuries from being knocked around.” Ruiko replied. “Ma’am”, Mariko said to get Katae’s attention, “We were caught in a stellar prominence, it grazed the planet and we hit the edge of it. It would have been much worse had we taken a direct hit.”

Katae gave an internal sigh; her crew and ship were fine. The quick responses of her people were one of the key factors she reasoned. She kept the Aeon at her present position until the prominence was gone and it was safe to return. As they neared the planet Eternity chimed in, “Taii, the OGS platform is not responding to commands.” Unchi Ise thought mentally, “Keiko take us back into orbit, we need to check out the OGS and see if we can get it operational. Tso you have the bridge I’m going to get into my armor for EVA. Eternity notify Usaga that I want her in the Power Armor bay and suited up.” Katae stood and looked at Tso, he nodded in acknowledgement, and she then strode out of the bridge.
[YSS Aeon] - Sairen System

Ise performed her preflight check of the Mindy M2-3A, and confirmed that Usaga’s Mindy M2-2A was ready. She crossed the bay to the launch hatch. “Eternity open port exterior bay door.” The large armored door sank into the floor and the outer door slid to the side. Katae walked to the opening, and leaped out. She moved out 100 meters and stopped and turned back to look at the Aeon. As beautiful as Katae thought the Aeon was in the docking bay at Gemini, she was more so now. Here she was in her true environment, swimming through the cosmos. Usaga followed her and took a position 10 meters to her left. Well enough of taking in the view. she thought. “Usaga I want to do a visual inspection of the hull before we begin retrieving the OGS. We’ll start by passing over the top of the ship from stern to bow.”

“Yes Taii,” Usaga responded. My first mission with the Taii not exactly what I expected. she thought. She followed in her Mindy maintaining her proper interval. It only took a few minutes to confirm the aft section was undamaged. “Ma’am I’ll take the port side.” The Taii nodded agreement and moved to the starboard. As she approached the leading edge of the secondary engine and the pylon she started seeing scoring and scorch marks. She moved close to ensure that the secondary engine casing had not been punctured. “We have some minor scoring of the leading edges over here Taii, but nothing is bad enough to compromise the systems.” “I’m seeing the same thing over here. I am continuing forward.” Kate replied.

After an hour they had visually inspected the hull, and made note of which places sustained the heaviest scoring. Katae <sighed> “Looks like we’ll be down for repairs for a few days at the Ikoi starbase while they replace the worst damaged plates. Usaga, we better head over and assess the condition of the OGS.” “On my way Taii,” Usaga responded as the two crossed over to where the platform waited. As they closed in they crossed back into the sunlight and damage was readily apparent. The OGS was tumbling in an uncontrolled fashion. The continuous roll afforded Katae with a clear view of the burned and pitted hull. She noted at least 6 places where the stellar matter had burned through its hull. Since the OGS did not have the benefit of shields the platform felt the full force of the prominence.

Unchi Ise swore mentally, This was not how my first mission was supposed to go. Perhaps we can repair the OGS and complete the mission. “Usaga, you latch onto the stern and I will grab hold of the bow. We’ll use the Mindy’s to stop the rotation. After that we’ll see if any of the internal systems are still working.” “Understood, Ise-Taii, I am moving into position.” The Neko replied. Katae slowly approached the tumbling platform. She understood the risk, even with the armor of the Mindy, being hit with several tons of moving metal could cause serious injury. She timed her approach so that she grabbed the hull just as it started rotating away from her. A check of the LSP showed her that Usaga had successfully latched onto the OGS as well. It was a simple matter after that to stop the tumbling.

Usaga was closest to the access hatch to the OGS. Once she and the Taii had stopped the OGS from its tumble, she moved and attempted to access the controls. “Taii, the console is non responsive I’m not getting any sign of power. Once we reconnect it to the Aeon Ruri and I will be able to apply external power and then run diagnostics. We will have a detailed report of the OGS condition within one hour of gaining access. “

The two armored Nekos silently brought the OGS to within range of the Aeon’s graviton beam projector. Once the grip of the projector had the OGS securely the two of them returned to the power bay.
[YSS Aeon] - Sairen system

Ise sat in the wardroom, looking out the window towards the planet. So far this system was proving to be more trouble than it was worth. Dai-Juni and Eternity had done some additional scans of the red dwarf and determined that the star was in the later stage of being a red dwarf. This meant that the star was becoming unstable as it was running out of fuel. Their calculations determined that when the star did exhaust its fuel it would collapse and then explode in a supernova. The only good thing was that would not happen for probably 5-10 thousand years. Katae drummed her fingers on the table as she waited to hear from Usaga and Ruri.

Usaga was at that moment coming down the passageway to the Wardroom with Ruri following. The two engineers had made a thorough evaluation of the OGS, and then worked on a solution to allow them to complete the mission. Ise-Taii was not pleased when she saw the OGS, hopefully our news will put her in a better mood. she thought as she approached the door. Usaga adjusted her uniform and smoothed her hair. Then with her notes tucked under her left arm she entered the wardroom. She spotted the Taii and made her way to table. Ruri walked along side of her. “Ise Taii, we have completed our evaluation of the OGS.” Usaga said as she approached the table.

Katae looked at the two Nekos, trying to gauge the news by their expressions. They both however had such eager expressions she wasn’t able to tell much.. “Please have a seat, give me your report.” She said, motioning to the empty seats at the booth. It took them a moment to figure out who would sit where but in the end one sat on either side of the table so both could see the report and face her.

Ruri started, “As you saw Taii, the damage was pretty extensive. The communications, life support, maneuvering thrusters are a complete loss. The MOGS launcher sustained damage but could be made operational.” Usaga continued reporting as a grin appeared on her young face, “But the Geological Scanning Suite is intact. So we can still complete our mission here.”

“I presume from that grin you two have worked something out.” Katae said. “Yes Taii, though I must admit that it was Ruri who came up with the idea first. So I will permit her to explain.” Katae turned to Ruri. “Taii, I propose that we patch the hull of the OGSP, and route control and power cables to the external panel by the hatch. Then we use one of the Fox T4 shuttles. We use the shuttle’s CIES to control the OGS systems, while the shuttle provides power and maneuvering.” Usaga added after Ruri stopped, “If you give us permission to proceed, we estimate that we should be able to re-deploy the OGS in two days. Sooner if we can get more help.”

Katae thought about the suggestion, she liked the idea. They certainly came up with a creative solution, and it will keep us from having to abandon our exploration to return back to home base. she said to herself. She smiled with pride at the Nekos, “You two have come up with a creative solution to our problem. And one that affords us the ability to get the OSGP out of the way should another flare occur.” She watched their faces light up from her praise. “You have permission to proceed. But, only after you two have had something to eat and gotten some sleep.” “Yes Ma’am” the two responded as they stood up. As they started towards the buffet to see what was available Katae added, “I’ll see about getting some volunteers to assist as well.”
[YSS Aeon] - Sairen system

Ise sat alone on the bridge of the Aeon. The rest of the crew was hard at work on the plan Ruri devised to restore the OGS. She thought the young Neko would faint when she gathered the crew, asked for volunteers and then told her she would be in charge of the project. Ruri explained the various tasks and had let the other crew members select those they were best suited to accomplish. Katae had thought briefly about joining the effort, but her instincts told her that her presence would be detrimental. So she tended to the bridge allowing the others to devote their full time. She occasionally went down to see how things were going, but mostly she sat on the bridge. She didn’t trust this system after all it had already tried to kill them by hurling part of the star at them.

The smell of coffee brought her out of her ruminations. She turned to find Nami entering the bridge. Katae smiled at the cook, “Hello Nami, making your rounds again I see.” Nami came over and refilled the Captain’s coffee cup. “Yes ma’am, since the crew is determined to accomplish the repairs to the OGS in less than Ruri and Usaga’s estimates. I thought my best contribution would be to bring their refreshments and food to where they were.” She opened her basket and looked in, “Would you care for a sandwich or sushi with sashimi?” “I’ll pass on the sandwich this time.” Nami pulled out a covered plate from her basket. “Here you go Taii. I’m sorry that the sashimi is not as fresh as I would like.” Katae accepted the plate, “I’m sure it will be fine. Have you had a chance to relax, seems every time I check the screens, I see you somewhere.” “Yes ma’am I have been busy, but I have taken breaks between my rounds.” With that she headed for the door.

Ruiko maneuvered his Mindy around the OGS, he only had one more breach to seal on the battered platform. We need to make up time, these hull repairs took longer than we anticipated. he thought. “Usaga have someone bring the docking point you fabricated to the OGS, by the time they get here I should be done with this last patch and we can get it attached.” He sent over the comm.“ “Keiko here, I’m on my way back to the bay, I will grab it and bring it to you Chui.” He positioned the patch and started welding it in place. He knew how important this mission was to Ise Taii. All new commanders want or perhaps need to succeed on their first mission to confirm that their appointment wasn’t a mistake. Ise had been willing to give him a chance, and failure was not an option, at least not if he and the rest of the crew of the Aeon had a say in it.

Shina lay under the NG-X1-409-2 preparing the shuttle for the improvised tow clamp that Usaga had completed. She was sealing the hole in the hull that the control cable ran thru. The mounting brackets were already installed once she was done they could lift the tow clamp into place and secure it. Once the seal was in place she floated out from under the shuttle. Dai-Shoi was standing there. “Ready for the clamp Shina?” he asked. “Yes sir, if you will help me slide it into position we can bolt it in place.” The Yamataian smiled at her, “Sounds good to me, so are you going to volunteer to pilot the shuttle?” he asked as the maneuvered the clamp under the shuttle. “I had thought about it, but I thought Ise-Taii would prefer to have a more experienced operator.” The Neko answered. “Shina, how do you think they got to be more experienced? Besides I know our Taii, and volunteering would show her your desire to prove yourself. After all staying up here while we head to the planet would be a great responsibility.” He grinned. “Give it some thought.” “I will Shoi.” Shina replied.
[YSS Aeon] - Sairen system

Ise came down to the shuttle bay where the crew of the Aeon had gathered. When she entered Tso-Chui barked a “Captain on deck.” And the crew members snapped to attention. “Ise-Taii, it is with great pride that we wish to report that we have completed the repairs to the OGS and the modifications to the shuttle are also done. The Taii will note that we have achieved this task in thirty-six hours instead of the projected forty-eight” Tso reported and then stepped in line with the other crew members.

Katae stood in front of her crew. They all had a look of satisfaction and joy on their faces, not even the occasional bit of grease or dirt could hide that. They all look like they could use some sleep though I doubt they would admit it. she thought. “Excellent work.” She said and bowed slightly to them. After a bit of hesitation they returned the bow. “Here are the orders for the day. All of you are to clean up, eat, and get some sleep. You will report for duty at 0900 hours tomorrow when we will re-launch the OGS.” She thought about the message she received from Hoshi. “Oh, one thing more before I dismiss you. I need a volunteer to pilot the Fox shuttle and monitor the OGS. Does anyone wish to step forward?” She said looking at Shina.

Could the Taii mean me? Shina thought, and remembered what the Shoi had told her. Stepping forward the Neko answered. “Ma’am I would like to volunteer to pilot the shuttle.” She saw the Taii grin just before speaking. “I thought you might Shina. All right, you will pilot the shuttle.” Shina thought her heart would burst with joy. “Thank you Ma’am” She wasn’t sure but she thought the Taii may have winked at Hoshi. “Unless there is anything else, you are dismissed.” The Taii said walking towards the shuttle.

The wardroom was full of jocularity and the aromas of Nami’s breakfast miracles filled the air when Katae entered. She nodded to Hoshi and Mariko as she crossed to the buffet. She took a tray and put a plate and utensils on it. Before she could start moving down the line, Nami reached out with a cup of coffee. “Good morning Captain, here is your coffee.” How does she do that, I didn’t even see her near the buffet. Katae thought taking the cup. “Thank you Nami, yes it’s a good morning and I’m looking forward to finally getting down on the planet.” With that Katae made her way along the buffett taking what she wanted for breakfast then joined the Dai’s.

Shina went through the shuttles prelaunch checklist for the second time. Ise Taii has trusted me with this task, I will not let her down. she thought. She looked at the basket of food that Nami had brought on board. Obviously the ship’s cook thought she would waste away if she had to eat the rations in the shuttle. Her checklist complete she signaled her readiness. “Shuttle Two you are cleared for launch.” Ise’s voice came through the speaker. “Shuttle two, aye.” Shina flew the T4 out of the bay and brought the shuttle around to the aft of the Aeon. She slowly closed on the OGS and adjusted her course slightly. Making deft adjustments of the controls, she brought the shuttle to a stop close enough to the OGS docking point that the clamp closed without any trouble. Seeing the green indicator above the console, she signaled. “Docking successful, awaiting control hook up.” She watched out the window as Ruri drifted closer to the shuttle. A few minutes later, the CIES showed that it a connection had been established to the OGS system. “Shuttle two, I have positive control of the OGS. Clear for Aeon to release.” The Neko said her voice sounding more confident that she was. Eternity replied, “Towing clamp is released, you have the OGS.” Shina nudged the shuttle back away from the ship, and one clear started moving the platform into proper position for scanning.
[YSS Aeon] - Sairen System

With the data provided by Shina and the OGS, Katae had made several alterations to their designated landing site. The OGS detected fluid deposits under a thin crust. The OGS directed several MOGS to investigate the deposits. The analysis showed that under a crust of approximately one meter at the thinnest points there was water. The water had an extremely high saline content. Mariko’s hypothesis was that these were the remnants of the planets oceans. Katae adjusted the landing zone to the west which put it approximately 100 km from one of the large energy sources.

Ise gave Keiko the command to begin their descent. They were making their touchdown approximately 2 hours after sunrise at the touchdown point. Katae wanted to give the team as much time as possible before nightfall and the storms that precede it. The Aeon made a smooth de-orbit maneuver and sliced through the atmosphere with ease. Ise watched her pilot maneuver the ship and bring it down to a safe, gentle landing.

The exploration team was assembled in the Power Armor bay. Ise had chosen both the Dai’s, and Usaga. Eternity advised the away team that the solar radiation was too intense for extravehicular activity without armor. The team was suited up in their Mindy’s. After performing a comm check via the LSP, Katae gave the order, “Move out folks. Let’s see what this planet is like.” She stepped out of the hatch and landed on the surface easily. The surface was covered with a fine rust colored particulate layer approximately 5 centimeters thick. Each step raised a small cloud of dust as they walked around. “Okay, follow me to the way point.” Ise said launching, she settled into an easy flight at 500 meters. The LSP showed that the rest of the team was following in formation.

Touching down one kilometer from the source Katae looked at the target area. All she could see was a large stone outcropping with several large objects. The objects were reflecting the sunlight so she adjusted the visual scan to filter out the glare. The objects appeared to be translucent or even possible transparent. They seemed to resemble crystals, but she had never seen anything that large. There was no sign of any obvious construction or buildings. She motioned for the group to move in slowly and to spread out.

Katae’s suit sensors confirmed this was the source of the energy and the signals. If this was a construct it did not match any technology she was familiar with. “Mariko, you’re with me. Everyone else hold your position.” The two of them moved cautiously towards the objects. Katae stopped at 50 meters. “Mariko, this looks like some sort of natural formation to me. What do you think?” Ise asked. “Isa-Taii, I see some smaller crystals near the base. I would like to get a sample.” Mariko said taking a step closer. “Ok, perhaps with a sample we can get an understanding of what we have.”

Mariko walked forward. That small crystal at the base looks like I should be able to remove it safely. she thought. When she got to within 10 meters her suit indicated a surge of energy. Since the energy levels were never constant she dismissed the reading. She closed to 5 meters and a blinding flash of energy burst from one of the crystals in the cluster. The burst hit her in the chest and knocked her backwards. Her suit systems flickered as she flew back towards Ise. “Unchi,” she swore as hit the ground.
[YSS Aeon] - Sairen System

Katae rushed forward to where she saw Mariko’s Mindy slam into the ground. “Hoshi, get up here quick. Mariko has been hit by one of the crystals.” Landing next to the science officer, Katae consulted the LSP for a status on Mariko’s suit. Seeing that the suit was still operating normally despite the abuse it took. “Mariko, how are you feeling? I called for Hoshi to get up here and check you so just stay still.”

Well that answers the question about those occasional flashes we saw from orbit on the night side of the planet. The sensors in her Mindy showed that the energy levels in the cluster were greatly reduced. Seeing Hoshi arriving, she said “I think she’s okay Hoshi, but you’re the doctor. I’m going to see about getting some samples away from the cluster while the energy is down.” “Roger Taii.” He replied.

Katae moved towards the cluster, she suppressed a brief urge to blast it with the Ke-M2-W2902 in her Mindy. First the sun in this system tries to destroy us. Now we have crystals that attack when you get near them. she thought. There was a small group of crystals ranging from half a meter to 3 meters in length. Working careful she was able to separate several of the crystals from the cluster. “Talk to me Hoshi, how is she?”

Hoshi’s heart was finally slowing to a normal rate since hearing that Mariko was injured. Her suit was not seriously damaged. It was after he was able to talk to his wife telepathically that he was reasonably sure her injuries were not life threatening. “Taii, Mariko appears to have been mainly stunned. Once we get back to the Aeon I will give a thorough exam to make sure she’s okay.”

“I’m glad to hear that. Usaga, come on in and retrieve the samples I’ve left. I’m going to circle the cluster to gather more data for our report.” With a leap into the air Katae circled the cluster taking image and readings with her suit. She also made note of the position of other clusters nearby. This information combined with the data from the OGS might give them some clue as to the origin of the crystals.

She landed next to the others. A moment later the ground heaved, “Ground quake” she said, leaping off the ground. The others followed suit. From their position they could see the ground ripple with the force of the tremor. When the wave hit the cluster two of the larger crystals cracked from the cluster and sagged. “Usaga, when the quake is over, lets see about getting those large crystals back to the ship. From what we’ve seen so far there may be some practical application.”

Once the ground beneath them stopped moving, Usaga made his way back down to the crystals that Taii indicated. A quick check showed that they had separated from the cluster but were undamaged. She also noted several crystals about the size of her fingers lying on the ground. She placed those into the side pocket of her butt pack. Using some of the equipment in her engineers pack, she fashioned a pair of slings that she and Taii could use to airlift the larger crystals to the ship.
[YSS Aeon] - Sairen System

The trip back to the Aeon was uneventful. Once there Hoshi took Mariko up to the medical center for a full examination. His motivation was as much due to his sense of duty as it was his concern for his wife. Ise stowed her Mindy and went up to the wardroom. Usaga and Ruri were putting the crystals into cargo containers for safe storage until they could turn them over to SARA back at home base.

Keiko was at her station, she maneuvered the ship to the next site identified as having merit. There were none of the crystal beacons in close proximity to it. The site was one with some surface anomalies that the captain wanted to check out. She also checked on how much time was left until night fall. Shina and the OGS had identified that the terminator was a site of extreme weather. The worst of the storms were concentrated in the equatorial region where the temperature differences were most extreme. While the storm could not damage the ship, it could prove hazardous for any crew members outside of it.

Katae had been relieved to hear that Mariko was okay, all she sustained was some minor bruising. They were once more in the Mindy’s and moving towards a surface anomaly. From orbit Eternity had detected what appeared to be a large stone rectangle. For it to be visible from orbit spoke to its size, but the real question remaining was simple. Was it natural or artificial? “Okay team, I really would appreciate no one needing to report to medical as a result of this excursion.” “Eternity, please keep relaying updates from Shina on the storm front heading our way.” she sent telepathically to the AI.

Mariko was excited at the possibility of an artifact. Even the sore muscles from her earlier mishap could not quell her enthusiasm. A near perfect rectangle that was 250 meters by 350 can’t have just happened. she thought. Once the team arrived they moved out to the four corners. The confirmed the dimensions and that each corner did appear to be a 90 degree. Each of the members then started clearing their corners. Using their entrenching tools with the augmented strength of the Mindy’s made this task easy. It about two hours they had each cleared their corners. They found the same thing. The stone protrusion was two meters thick and made of igneous rock. The problem was it appeared to be made of the same kind of stone that it was laying on. The four of them went to one corner and working together carefully moved the stone of position. After careful examination of the surfaces they were no closer to a definitive decision. They returned the stone to its original position when the Taii informed them it was time to return to the Aeon.

Katae looked to the horizon. A brown smudge had formed and was growing steadily larger. The OGS reported wind speeds at more than 300 kph. “Usaga, Hoshi, return to the Aeon Mariko you’re with me. I want to get a closer look at that storm.” She said launching and heading towards the horizon. With Mariko on her left they closed to about fifteen kilometers. What they saw was unlike any storm they had been through. Using their optics they scanned the ground at the base of the storm. Boulders, some the size of their Mindy’s were being blown around by the storm. Scanning the upper portions showed stones and other debris was being hurled up and out of the storm.

After confirming their readings, “Eternity notify the crew to prepare for launch. I’d rather not have the Aeon subjected to that storm. I’m sure the armor would be unaffected, but I don’t want to think what high velocity rocks and such would do to the landing gear areas.” She radioed, and then turned to Mariko “So far this planet has been more trouble that it’s worth.” Mariko shrugged, “Well it hasn’t been exactly dull now has it Taii.” She said with a chuckle as they streaked back to the ship.
[YSS Aeon] - Sairen System

The next two days the crew of the Aeon spent their time checking out various areas on the planet. They were arriving at what would most likely be their last site. Shina and the OGS had detected some large metal objects on or near the surface of the polar region. Keiko piloted the ship smoothly thru the atmosphere. As they approached the area it was obvious that something tragic had happened here. “Taii to the bridge, we are approaching the site. Looks like a ship crash landed here a long time ago.” “I’m on my way, circle the site and then put us down nearby.” Ise Taii’s replied.

The entire crew of the Aeon was crowded into the bridge. All of them were transfixed by the images on the main screen. Keiko displayed the visual and sensor data gathered during the fly over. Most of the ship was buried in the ground. “Tso-Chui, you lead the exploration team this time. Its obviously we aren’t going to find survivors, so see what you can learn about this ship.” Standing up from his station he said, “Yes ma’am, Hoshi, Mariko, Ruri, report to the power armor bay.”

Katae waited until the rest of the crew had left the bridge. She walked over to Keiko. “Hey, why don’t you come with me to the Wardroom and I’ll buy you a cup of coffee.” “Certainly Taii.” Keiko responded getting out of her chair. “By the way, I just wanted to thank you again for the lovely work on refurbishing the byobu. It looks much better now that it is not a mass printed version.” “It was my pleasure ma’am. I felt good to paint again after so long.”

When they entered the wardroom Katae walked over and got herself a cup of coffee, and went to one of the booth tables. Keiko joined a moment after and sat opposite her. “Keiko, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk to you about your career. You are a good pilot, and overall your performance has been good. But I am concerned about your ability to effectively control the Aeon in combat.” “Ma’am? I am fully proficient in ship combat.” Keiko replied. “I was not implying that you weren’t Gi. But you are Yamataian, and without the SPINE interface you can not make the fullest use of the ship’s capabilities. I want you to stay on the ship, but I would like you to consider a body transfer to a Valkyrja. It would ensure that you can handle the ship in any situation.” “Is this an order Taii?” Keiko asked. “No, though by my authority I could order it. I would rather let you make the decision. Take a few days and think it over.” “I will think about it Taii.” Keiko answered as she left the table.

Tso hovered above the largest piece of the wreckage. Ruri floated slightly lower. Despite unknown years of scouring by the elements, it was still evident that the ship had met a fiery death. “Chui, these holes appear to have been burned into the hull, by extremely hot material. My guess is that they probably were hit by a prominence more directly than we were.” Tso floated down until his boots were just inches above the hull. “Do you think it is safe for us to enter?” he asked. “The sensors show that the wreck is structurally sound for us to cut our way in safely. I’ll find a point and start cutting sir.”
[YSS Aeon] - Sairen System

Keiko walked back to her cabin to think about the Taii’s suggestion. In many ways it was a repeat of a discussion she and Yani had before she was killed. Perhaps I should just do it, Yani told me I should, and now Ise-Taii. So why don’t I just do it. Its not like I’ve grew up in this body, I had to switch to it back in 29. she thought. She remembered watching Yani playfully dance around her with her anti-gravity while she painted. In a way, I guess it would be somewhat like a living tribute to Yani. She pulled out the picture of the two of them from where she kept it. It was a happy memory, a day they spent together on shore leave. I’ll do it for you Yani, no I will do it for myself in your memory.

Ruri carefully cut through the hull of the strange vessel. She collected samples of the metal and put them in her pouch for study later. Lifting the section out of the hull, there was now a hole large enough for them to walk in with their Mindy’s. She stepped inside and looked around. The light from her helmet fell upon a body. She jumped back and let out a small squeak. “Are you okay Ruri?” Tso asked. “Yes sir, sorry I came across a body and it startled me.” “That’s okay Ruri, I take it that this was your first body.” Tso said entering the chamber. Ruri replied with a nod.

Hoshi entered the hull after Tso. Once in he immediately went to the body and started to examine the remains. “Definitely looks to be human, cause of death was probably blunt force trauma from the crash. Subject was female I would need to take the remains back to the ship if you wanted more details.” Tso shook his head, “No, I don’t think that is necessary.” Let’s make our way deeper into the ship. Try to find something that looks like a control room or such.” He walked towards the door and using the augmented strength of the Mindy opened the door.

Keiko left her quarters, “Eternity where is Ise-Taii?” “The captain is in her suite.” Eternity answered. “Thank you Eternity” she replied as she floated down the corridor, and then up to deck one. She made her way to the Taii’s suite and pressed the door chime. A moment later the door opened and the Ise stood in front of her in her exercise outfit. A smile spread across her face. “Keiko, please come in. I was just doing some exercises. What can I do for you?” “Ma’am its about your suggestion earlier. It was actually something I had thought about before back when I was with Yani. I just wanted to let you know that I want to go ahead and do the transfer.” Ise replied, “Okay, when we get back to base I will authorize the transaction.”
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