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Approaching Minos- Part Four July 16, 2007

Posted by psimitar in Uncategorized.

“What do you mean, trap?” Cyan asked, tone inflected and dubious of the woman’s meaning.

“Just that. A trap. Left for us on Miranda by someone who can’t be looking out for our well-being,” Una said standing and indicating the state of gross disrepair the ship was in.”

“I was going through the ship’s repair records and found a heavily encrypted layer on the datastack that I broke earlier this morning. This ship was recently, as early as three weeks ago, upgraded with a Universal Nüne-Tech Accessible Interface.”

“In common-solarian, that would mean something bad…right,” Iris asked, barely understanding any of what Una had said.

Verdoux swung into view from above, sticking out but upside down from her tactical bay located in a blister pod a few meters off the bridge deck. “Nüne-Tech’s the latest Imperial overbrain hardware and wetware. I read an article about it months back. It’s supposed to revolutionize ship design, navigation and drive builds. I think it’s out of Mars,” she offered with a shrug. “I was learning its communications standards at institute up until two weeks ago.” Verdoux made a graceful mid-air flip and landed cat-like on the deck, catching a hydrospanner that had become dislodged by her maneuver from above. She smoothed her robes where they had bunched in her upside-down posture.

“Una, you should’ve told me this much sooner. I can talk to the Nüne-Tech overbrain, maybe un-package it and boot it up…get our QTLs working again,” Verdoux chided her professor. Up until two weeks ago, the two had had a completely academic relationship but circumstances on the capitol moon of the Jovian system, Ganymede had turned them into team mates, albeit a strained relationship had formed. Una found it difficult to look at Verdoux as anything more than a student of her flock; but now the young woman was showing great promise and resource. Una found it somewhat…upsetting, but she wasn’t sure why.

“Verdoux, you underestimate me. I wrote part of the communications algo-logs for Nüne. I can boot it up in my sleep,” Una exclaimed with a snort. “I’d signed a non-disclosure agreement with the developers who paid for my consultation project that kept me away from the Kai Institute last summer, you remember?”

“You said you were studying at the libraries of Chyron!” Verdoux said, shocked Una had kept up the pretense of her research on the outpost moon of Pluto. “All that talk of extra-solar signals was a big fat lie?”

“Well,” Una began, feeling the need to tap dance through this conversation to quickly bring it to a close. “Yes and no. Extra-solar signals were detected out at Chyron a year ago, but I had the datfiles sent to me while on Mars Centralis last summer.

“So now you’ve been to Mars,” Verdoux exclaimed again. “You said you’d take me as your assistant on your next Mars assignment. You’ve been promising for three years now. I guess a secret development agency for defense wetware would provide you with your own assistant though.”

Cyan busied himself at the helm until the conversation swung back around to the whole trap business.

“This is all very interesting ladies,” Iris said, bored. “What about the ship blowing up?”

“Not blowing up,” Una snapped at Iris. “It begs the question why the ship was fully fueled, re-commissioned with stealth status and given the most advanced overbrain and support hardware in the empire less than a week before little miss ship-thief here hot-wired it and crash landed a block from Mirandan Port Authority, which might I add, is the sole cause of half the on-board malfunctions we’ve experienced up here.”

“Okay, jeez…” Iris backed away, thinking it prudent to just let Una get on with what she was saying rather than engage her in yet another pointless argument about the morality or immorality of ship piracy. “I was just borrowing it,” she muttered defensively.

“We’d be munching brain in Reunion Plaza on Miranda Centralis right now if it weren’t for Iris’s ‘borrowing’ skills,” Cyan turned in his captain’s swivel chair, “Also, don’t forget about the erratic flight patterns of the interceptor squadron that was given orders to shoot us out of Mirandan airspace. The pilots all auto-ejected when they got within a half-kilometer of the ship; I’ve never seen anything like it in all my flying experience.”

“There are protocols in the Nüne wetware for scrambling enemy combatant overbrains, a hack that would give remote control to a Nüne-equipped pilot.” Una thought aloud, offering an explanation for a question that was never asked but thought communally.

“Presumably that could mean that a second overbrain, fully unpacked, could’ve performed the hack, giving you guys that wide open exit window that put you on the most optimal trajectory to reach Ganymede,” Verdoux gestured and a display panel on the exterior of her tactical bay lit with trajectory schemes. “I hope you don’t mind Cyan, but I took the liberty of downloading all pre-Ganymede flight reports into my bay for review. I felt I needed to catch up.”

Verdoux and Una were the most recent additions to the ship’s roster, and were gathered at just the right time. Their proficiency with general ship systems coupled with Cyan’s helmsman experience in the Tritonian Guard and supported by the competent hands and knowledge of a Mirandan engineer, the best in the empire, were the only things keeping the ship running right now.

Or was it?

“A third party intervention is the most likely explanation for your escape from Miranda. I spent a few minutes puzzling over the data about a week ago and just chalked it up to luck, but you’d have to be born on Selene’s lifeday to be that lucky.” Verdoux was referring to the Empress of Sol, Selene of the Long Life. By all appearances she never aged and is the only Solarian alive to have memory of what life was like before Stonerise, the date on which everything changed.

“That being said,” Una stepped up to the tactical display and turned to face the assembled audience. “Who or what herded us to Ganymede, and is it the same person responsible for our current frenzied flight to some rock in the middle of nowhere?”

“Not only that,” the Mirandan engineer Yura, a tall and lanky woman with chunks of dark hair that covered her eyes and coiled braids that framed her angular cheek bones, emerged from the now-functioning lift. She cleared her throat, phlegmy from her recent smoke break below deck. “…and if that person has anything to do with the murders on Miranda, I owe them a sound beating. Maybe more if the mood takes me.”

Anyone who knew the hard woman well enough knew that the mood usually did take her.



1. psimitar - July 10, 2007

Approaching Minos is an adaptation of Swords of Silver, an RPG I played through much of college. I’ve condensed the storylines down to their bare bones, preserving (in my opinion,) the overall tone of the story and spirit of the characters.

The cast is a varied one representing the many cultures of the multi planet Sol Empire, based in a solar system very similar to our own.

Verdoux Kai is a young woman raised on Ganymede, the capitol moon of the Jovian colonies. Her cultural background is one of a long tradition of urban development in harmony with the environment and technological advancement to better the entirety of the empire.

Yura Balshyn comes from Miranda 6, the final Uranian colony to be commissioned by the empire. Her traditions are mixed with those of several different cultures across Sol and is the source of great interest to historians studying cultural accretion in their post-stonerise civilization

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