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Old October 19 2010, 08:38 PM   #16
Mistral
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Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

Great chapter-really built atmosphere!
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Old November 6 2010, 03:14 PM   #17
The Badger
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Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

I just wanted to apologise for not updating for so long. I seem to have lost my mojo recently. I do intend to continue, most certainly, but I can't make promises as to when.
Sorry.
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Old November 6 2010, 09:51 PM   #18
Duncan MacLeod
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Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

Not a problem. We do have some patience.


Sorry about your mojo. Have you checked your other trousers?
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Old November 8 2010, 01:31 PM   #19
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Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

No apology needed, its your story write it when you want to.
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Old November 22 2010, 12:23 AM   #20
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Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

Beowulf Two. Approaching Galador III.
October 19th 2151.

There's something inherently amusing about a dog in zero gravity. After checking with Mayweather that they would have several minutes of uninterrupted straight flight, Captain Archer released Porthos from his cage to float freely about the hold. The little dog clearly loved it, his tail a blur. Soon a bizarre game of catch was under-way, with the passengers gently tossing the beagle back and forth. Everyone seemed to enjoy the experience. Even Dr. Locke issued a rare chuckle, and despite her queasiness Polly managed a thin lipped smile as the dog corkscrewed past her.

All too soon the word came down from the cockpit that they were about to enter the atmosphere. Porthos was returned to his cage. Crewman Scott reminded everyone to double check their harnesses.

It began with a whistling hiss, almost below perception. Quickly it built to a rushing howl. The landing craft began to shake, and gradually a sense of weight crept upon them. Archer looked round. The marines, perhaps unsurprisingly, seemed calmest. They talked amongst themselves, experience modulating their voices, loud enough to be heard amongst themselves without carrying to the others. Of course, they were used to travelling in this craft. Most of the UESPA people seemed to be taking it in their stride, though he noticed a few of them gripping the armrests tightly. The civilians looked most tense, apart from Locke, who's expression suggested boredom. Porthos was obviously upset, but calmed somewhat when Archer fussed over him. Partridge clutched a sick bag in front of her as if it were a talisman against evil. Her eyes were screwed shut, her teeth clenched. From somewhere she had produced a pair of earphones. Even over the roar of the atmosphere he could hear the music she listened to, though it was unlike any he'd heard before. It was loud, frenetic, with pounding drums and the wailing of unknown instruments.

He nudged her. "What is that?"

One blue eye opened, swivelling in his direction. "Metal."

That left him none the wiser. "What?"

"Metal!" she repeated, holding up a fist, index and little fingers extended. She pulled one earphone away from her head so he can hear. He listened for a few moments and winced.

"And that's what you like to listen to?"

She shrugged. "I figure it might keep me distracted. Or pulverize my brain. Either way I'm not noticing this." She gestured to the hold around them.

Sato's voice came over the intercom. "Ladies and gentlemen, we've got a bit of turbulence coming up. It's nothing serious and we'll be through it soon."

Almost as she finished speaking the craft gave a sudden downwards lurch. Partridge yelped with fear and grasped Archer's hand tightly,

"Sir! Sir! Can I change places with you sir?" Corporal James asked with a cheeky grin.

"If there's any way to swap, then yes. Assuming your pain threshold is higher than mine, that is." he grimaced. Polly's grip really was tight. With his free hand he prised at her thumb, trying to loosen it. She noticed his actions, looking down at her hand as if unaware of what she was doing, then released him with a muttered apology.

After a few more seconds the craft steadied in it's course, and the roaring dropped away, replaced by the dull thrum of the engines. There were relieved looks around the cabin. The intercom came on again. "We're just coming up on our destination, please remain in your seats. Landing cycle commencing...now."

There was one last swoop, then the Beowulf lowered straight down, as if on an elevator. A sudden rattling came from below, grit and pebbles kicked up by the landing jets to rain against the underside. The craft rocked gently from side to side before settling, and the engines died slowly away.

Mayweather came over the intercom. "And...we're down."

He said more, but it was drowned out in the sudden burst of applause and wild cheering from the passengers. Porthos, not understanding the situation but glad that the noise and movement had stopped, yapped excitedly and pressed his front paws against the cage's door.

"Patience, buddy." Archer said. "We've got to wait 'till we get the all clear before we unfasten---"

He broke off at the sight of Partridge scrabbling desperately at the buckle on her harness. As soon as it came free she leant forward, head between her knees, taking deep breaths and muttering "OK...OK...OK" over and over again, with the occasional "Sick as a dog." or "Oh god." thrown in for good measure.

"For crying out loud," Doctor Locke grumbled, "someone give her oxygen. Though if the damn flighty idiot took her medicine we wouldn't have all this palaver."

"Don't like the side effects." Partridge said, her voice muffled slightly by the oxygen mask that Salome Murray now pressed to her face.

"Side effects." Locke echoed. "Shouldn't be any. Psychosomatic, if you ask me. Can we smoke yet?" he added.

"Not yet." Archer said. "Let's wait until we get outside, shall we? Ah, on the subject of which, is it safe now Hoshi?"

Sato had just descended from the cockpit. "All systems are A-OK. I don't know if the scientists want to run any more tests, but you've got the green light from the flight crew."

Mayweather followed her down. "Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for flying Air Mayweather, and I hope you had a pleasant..." He trailed off at the site of the Professor. "That good, huh?" he said, his grin fading.

She lifted her head and shot him the best smile she could, under the circumstances. "Tolerable." she managed to say.

"Tolerable." he repeated hollowly. Archer recognised the reason. Mayweather's sense of self worth was heavily dependent on his skills as a pilot. Anything less than perfection was a terrible blow to his ego.

"Travis, where the Professor's concerned, 'tolerable' is high praise indeed." he assured him.

The blonde head cautiously nodded. "Yeah. This is the first time I've gone from orbit to landing without my lunch doing the opposite. It was a good flight. Really."

Mayweather looked slightly mollified, but not much.

Archer stood. "At any rate, we've got work to do. Is there any reason to delay? No? OK then, let's get this show on the road." He made his way towards the port side airlock.

Before he could reach it Corporal James began tugging at his arm. "Sir? Sir? You've forgotten something."

He blinked. "Have I? I don't think I have. What?"

"This sir."

A gun.

Still in it's holster, an EM-33 plasma pistol. There was a magazine in the butt, a spare in the small pouch attached to the holster.

"Ah, no, corporal. No thank you. I'm not carrying that. That's why you're here, after all." he said.

"Very good sir." she said neutrally. "Now if you'll excuse me...Tipping, I want you on point, Grant go left, I'll go right, Dumont on over-watch. Standard deployment patten."

Archer held up his hands. "Whoah, whoah. What are you doing?"

"Getting ready to leave the LC, sir." LC was the marine term for the landing craft.

He shook his head. "No no. It's a Captain's privilege. I get to be the first to set foot on the planet. You can follow me, but I go first."

"Sir, UESPA Regulation 67-C. Quote. 'Armed personnel shall be present at all times on the surface during surveys of unexplored planetary bodies'. Unquote. Major Reed made me memorise it sir."

"That's ridiculous." Archer scowled. "That regulation only came into effect during the war."

"Yes sir, but it's never been rescinded. At any rate, as acting security chief for this mission, I must insist that no one leaves this craft unless there are armed personnel actually on the surface. So, Captain, either you take a gun, or you send someone with one out there first."

"That's ridiculous." he said again. "You do know I can over-rule you? Off the top of my head I can think of at least two different ways, both legal. There may be more."

She stood, hands behind her back, looking straight ahead. "Yes sir. You can easily over-rule me. This is my first mission where I'm in command of security. You can over-rule me. On my first command. Sir. It'll go on my record, my permanent record, that on my first, my very first command, I was over-ruled. By a non-military officer. My promotion prospects....I don't want to even think what that'll do to my prospects sir."

He stared at her slack jawed for a moment. "Are you trying to guilt trip me into giving in? What are they teaching Marines nowadays?"

"To win, sir, using any weapons or tactics available. I should warn you now, if you continue to refuse, I will start crying. Real tears, sir."

Archer sighed. "Alright, you win. Give me the damn gun." He fastened the holster to his belt. I'm going to have to have a word with Mr. Reed. "Just out of interest, corporal, can you tell me Regulation 67-B?"

"Haven't a clue sir. The Major only thought 67-C important."

"Hmmph." He stepped into the airlock, hitting the control to extend the gangway. "Alright, let's do this." he said to no one in particular, and opened the exterior hatch.

He kept his eyes closed at first. He always did, at moments like this. One, two, three steps took him to the edge of the ramp, not yet on the planet's surface. It was warm, almost uncomfortably so, but a cherry scented breeze provided pleasant relief. The rustle of leaves in the wind indicated their proximity to the forest they'd detected. The drone of insects, and a distant ape like whooping, showed that other life was present.

Eyes still closed he took a deep breath of the alien air and stepped forward. After so long on a metal hulled starship the slightly spongy surface felt very odd. Gravity was apparently slightly less than Earth, but he couldn't feel the difference.

Finally he opened his eyes. Trees! Real trees, so similar to the ones on Earth. Yet, on closer inspection, so different. Grass under foot. But not grass. Not earthly grass, something different, with broad, almost rectangular blades, and just a hint of blue in the green. In the distance, mountains. Peaks unknown to man. A whole world unknown to man.

He knew he should give a speech, say some rousing words, but instead he just threw his arms wide and laughed with the sheer joy of it all.
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Old November 22 2010, 06:46 PM   #21
Duncan MacLeod
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Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

Excellent chapter, Badger.

I still would like someone, maybe Locke, to make a sarcastic comment whenever Archer talks to the dog. Something like "Let me know when he answers you back. We'll book him on Letterman."

Loved Autumn threatening to cry at him though. That was just inspired. The girl deserves a promotion for that kind of quick thinking.
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Old November 22 2010, 09:24 PM   #22
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Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

Great chapter. Porthos flying around the cabin would make a hell of a sight!
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Old November 23 2010, 03:11 PM   #23
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Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

Mistral, you might want to look here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIHCi...eature=related
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Old November 24 2010, 10:33 PM   #24
USS Avenger
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Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

Good chapter. I am glad CPL James held her ground, good Marine.


ETA: Lmao that vid is hilarious!
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Old December 2 2010, 11:31 AM   #25
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Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

The Badger wrote: View Post
Mistral, you might want to look here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIHCi...eature=related

Funny stuff!
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Old December 27 2010, 04:07 PM   #26
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Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

You're good at this writing thing.
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Old December 27 2010, 11:10 PM   #27
The Badger
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Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

That's very kind of you to say so.
Should you be interested, the first story can be found here:
http://trekbbs.com/showthread.php?t=90084

It is rather long, but, at the rate I'm going, you'll finish reading it before I get another chapter out.
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Old December 28 2010, 04:20 AM   #28
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Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

I've read it over the past week or so. It's very good. Polly is a quite silly character, but silly in a good way. You tread the line that stops her becoming an annoying Mary Sue well.
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Old January 10 2011, 11:37 PM   #29
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Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

The surface of Galador III. October 20th, 2151.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that if Hoshi Sato is present in any reasonably sized group of people, sooner or later some form of gambling would commence. Within minutes of the landing party disembarking from the Beowulf, she was running a book. The subject was an obvious one. Given that they were involved in setting up a camp site, what exactly would be Professor Partridge's first double entandre of the afternoon? A reference to 'pitching a tent' was considered most likely, closely followed by enquiries as to whether any one 'needed help getting it (i.e. a tent) up'. Such comments were considered so likely that Sato insisted that any one making such a wager must specify a time: if the appropriate phrase was used, whoever got closest would win. There were other, less likely, options. Trooper Tipping seemed fixated on the notion that Partridge would offer to assist with a tent's guy-ropes and claim to be 'good with knots', but this seemed more wishful thinking on his part than any realistic prediction. The fact that the tents in question did not use such ropes didn't even seem relevant to him.

As the afternoon wore on a number of interested parties made sure to remain within earshot of the professor. A wide variety of sound recording devices were active, ready to capture any utterance she made and determine the time. Yet as the camp took form she remained nearly silent, a behaviour so out of character for her that there were several enquires as to the state of her health. At first she claimed to be still suffering the side effects of the shuttle flight. Later, it was feelings of awe and wonder at being on another world that had so quietened her.

Could this be true? Could the deep emotional implications of their arrival on this world have done what a thousand exonerations to 'please behave!' had failed? Archer hoped so, but doubted it.

During a lull in proceedings he took Hoshi Sato to one side. "So. Running a book, eh? Who gets the money if no one wins?" It was a question to which he already knew the answer.

Sato held her hands up defensively. "Hey, I told them. If no one wins before the first moon clears the horizon tonight, I keep the lot. I've got overheads to think about. Everyone was satisfied with that, no one was forced to take part."

He snorted. "Yeah, but you're not keeping the lot are you? Polly Partridge, going all this time without innuendo? There must be some pretty steep motivation for that to happen. What are you cutting her in for?"

Sato scowled. "Fifty-fifty." she grumbled.

Archer grinned. "And I think I can guess what the worst thing is." At Sato's puzzled expression he explained "She's got a doctorate in pure mathematics. There's no chance of you cheating her out of her cut, she'd spot it in a second."

"Only if I tell the truth about how much...Damn." Her face fell as she realised she'd been caught out. "I'd only have skimmed a little off the top. Honest."

"Of course, of course." He leant closer. "Hoshi, now might be a good time to go give everyone their money back. All of it. Tell them you're cancelling because Partridge is unwell, if you like, but give it back."

A look of pure horror flashed across Sato's face. Returning money was near heresy in her books. But she nodded reluctantly and tramped over to the others, hands deep in pockets. From his vantage point Archer saw her handing over credit chips to some rather surprised looking people. He grinned, and made his way over to the Marines, who appeared to be playing with a model plane.

As he approached Grant threw the plane forward at a slightly downwards angle. Before it hit the ground the propeller buzzed into life, pulling it into a gentle climb. In seconds it had faded from view.

"The drones going up alright?" he asked.

James turned and saluted. "Yes sir. Three of them up now, each covering 140 degrees of arc."

"Hmm. it's been a while since I was at school, but I seem to remember circles only have 360 degrees."

"We always try to maintain positive overlap in our coverage sir. There should be no risk of gaps. The three drones will orbit base camp about two clicks out, providing real time surveillance. Nothing will get near without our knowing about it."

"Yeah, right." Tipping muttered.

Archer asked "Is something wrong?"

"Ah, during the war, sir, the Axanar found a way to mask their heat signatures. They managed to get past sentry systems on occasion."

"Well, I don't think we need worry about that." Archer said. "As long as we can detect wildlife in time we'll be OK. So what's this drone for?" As he'd been talking Grant and Dumont had began assembling a fourth plane.

James explained. "Extra redundancy sir. We'll have this one stay close to camp. Should any of the others fail this one will automatically take it's place."

Archer watched, fascinated, as the machine was put together. It was a quick, simple process. The components were modular, just needing to be attached together. Electronic linkages were just clipped into place. The majority of the drone was constructed from a transparent polymer. All the working parts were a low visibility grey, with a thin matt black layer running along the spine. When laid out on the grass right in front of him it was difficult to make out, even with a wingspan of over a meter. It was hardly surprising that it's predecessor had disappeared into the sky so quickly.

James lifted the craft. Despite it's size there seemed to be no real weight to it. "Here's the important parts. Two cameras. One visible light, the other thermal. The first incorporates a telescopic lens as well as the latest generation of starlight scope. The second is used both to detect heat signatures, but also to scan for thermal air currents. That allows the onboard AI to plot the most efficient course. The drone's light enough to act as a glider. Under ideal conditions it can use thermals to stay aloft indefinitely."

"So what's the propeller for?"

"Less than ideal conditions. Some times it needs a bit of a boost to get height. The motor's electric, near silent, and can run for over a day on a full battery, even with all the other systems running." She pointed to the black layer. "High yield solar cells. Recharges the battery while in use. I'll be very surprised if any of these touch ground before the end of the mission sir. How's it look Dumont?"

The marine checked a computer pad. "All systems green."

She nodded. "Initialize." She threw the drone. They watched it fly off.

"We'll, I feel a little bit safer, knowing we're not going to get trampled by herds of space wildebeest or whatever they have here." Archer said. He thought for a moment. "Have you detected anything in range yet?"

"No sir. Nothing large, anyway. Small traces, birds, mice, that sort of thing."

"Hmm. I think I'll take my dog for a walk then, while it's still light."

"Yes sir. If you're leaving the camp, will you want an escort?"

He shook his head. "I don't think that'll be needed."

"Very good sir. You'll be taking your gun then." Before Archer could say no, James mimed wiping a tear from her eye. He rolled his eyes, and nodded.

The interior of the Beowulf was dark after the bright sunshine outside. He paused at the top of the loading ramp to let his eyes adjust. A scrape of metal on metal caught his attention, and as his vision improved he realised Mayweather was assembling a camp bed at the front of the craft. "Travis? There's plenty of tents. You don't have to stay on here you know."

The helmsman looked slightly embarrassed. "Ahhh...I'm not really a camping kind of guy. I don't much care for the whole 'great outdoors' thing."

There was a flushing sound, and Doctor Locke emerged from the lavatory. "Mild agrophobia. Quite common amongst the Martian colonists. If you grow up inside enclosed domes, an aversion to open spaces is understandable." He washed his hands.

"But surely you've been in wide open spaces before?" Archer asked. "UEMA survival training takes you all round the world."

"Been there." Mayweather admitted. "Doesn't mean I liked them."

"What, so you're going to spend the mission cooped up in here?" he said as he unlocked Porthos' cage. The little dog leapt into his arms.

"Probably not. If we go into that forest, I'll be OK. Or maybe up to the mountains. I'm alright when I've got some proper landscape around me, not all this big rolling nothing. And I do enjoy rock climbing."

Archer said "Well, there's an expedition planned for the mountains later in the week. Put your name down. It'd be a shame if you came all this way and didn't do anything whilst you were here."

***

Perhaps it was Mayweather's mention of the the forest, but that was the direction Archer found himself strolling in. Despite there being no sign of danger he was reluctant to allow Porthos off his leash, even with a locator beacon clipped to his collar the dog could still run into trouble. Five minutes steady walk was enough to get them to the tree line, and get Archer breathing slightly harder than normal. I must start spending more time in the gym back on Enterprise.

With a canine's sense of priorities Porthos headed straight to the nearest tree, sniffed suspiciously for a moment, then let nature call.

"I bet you've been wanting to do that for some time." Archer said, receiving a faint whine as if in agreement. Having completed one biological imperative Porthos then lifted his tail for another. The captain had come prepared. He took a small plastic bag from his pocket to clear the mess up. Half way through the procedure he was struck by the sudden conviction that one of the drones was now watching him, an idea he found most off putting, and had to force himself to finish the task. Sealing the bag he placed it, carefully, into a different pocket for later disposal.

"No littering." he told Porthos. "We're guests here, in a way."

Some thing caught his eye. Growing a little over head height on the trunk of a nearby tree was what looked to be some sort of fungus. Dark brown, several growths, spreading out in a wide fan. He approached, leaping back startled as a bird of some kind burst from concealment in the bushes to his left. It shot away at high speed, clearly more frightened of him than he was of it. Well, maybe not much more. He'd half pulled his gun from it's holster. He put it back, and let out a long calming breath. He glanced at Porthos, who wagged his tail happily, and continued his approach more cautiously than before.

One of the growths was pretty small. He was able to slide one of the plastic bags over it, cutting it free from the tree with his pen knife. "A little present for the scientists. They'll be doing a full survey soon enough, but a head start can't hur...Porthos? What have you found?"

The beagle was digging at the undergrowth. As Archer watched a small patch of off white showed amongst the soil. Bone.

"Out of the way Porthos, let me see...No, no, you can't eat it. No. Good find though. You're a good dog, yes you are. A good dog."

Unearthed, the find consisted of a few centimetres of what, even to his untrained eye, was clearly jaw bone. The attached teeth gave it away. And these teeth were long, sharp. Clearly those of a predator.

Glancing around, suddenly nervous, he placed the bone into another bag and hoisted his communicator. "Archer to basecamp."

"Basecamp. Sato here."

"Hoshi, check with the marines would you? Any heat signatures near my position?"

"One moment sir." A short pause. "Sir, here's Corporal James."

Another pause, the James' voice. "Ah, captain, we've got plenty of heat traces. Nothing large though, you're biggest, then your dog. And the patten recognition software suggests that what is there seems to be avoiding you. Is there a problem? We can take the quad bike, get to you in a min---"

"No, no. No problem." He looked at the piece of bone. Judging from the size of the teeth, whatever it was must have been quite large.

"Very good sir. Sir, I'd advise you start heading back soon. It's getting dark."

He looked round. The sun was low on the horizon, the sky in the other direction turning a murky blue. "Acknowledged. I'm on my way. Archer out."

***

A camp table had been assembled by the time he got back, and the smell of food cooking made his belly rumble. Professor Partridge stood by the cooker, doling out huge portions onto the plates of the crew as they lined up. First things first. He sort out the scientific contingent and handed over two of the bags. The Porthos generated one he dropped into a waste disposal bin.

"Certainly a predator." Salome Murray mused, her attention momentarily distracted from her heaving plate. "Quite large, about the size of a German Shepherd, I'd say. And probably of canine stock, or it's equivalent on this world."

"A dog then?" Archer asked.

"Like a dog. Probably closer to a hyena. Good job we've got all this security. I wouldn't want anything like that turning up unexpectedly! Though it's odd we've seen no other signs of them."

Archer lifted his communicator and showed her the display. "I made a note of it's position. When it's light we can do a survey around there, see what else turns up."

Salome's husband Jeff had been examining the other bag. "Interesting. it appears similar to the Maine Tree fungus. I'll have to run an analysis."

Dumont, further down the table, called out. "Doctor Murray, could you check that out for possible nutritional or medicinal value? It's a marine thing, living off the land." he added.

That reminded Archer that he was still hungry. He headed to the cooker where Partridge was approaching food preparation in the same manner she showed for practically every endeavour: vast amounts of enthusiasm coupled with moments of sheer panic. Pans spat and pots bubbled, Flames leapt. She hit an errant sausage with a fish slice in an attempt to subdue it, and shrieked in terror as hot fat hissed and crackled. Archer didn't dare speak and distract her, instead he picked up a plate from a hot pile and joined the line. The crewman in front offered to let him go first but he declined. He'd wait his turn.

Sausage, bacon, beans, eggs--both fried and scrambled--, fried bread, fried mushrooms, some stuff he didn't even recognize. It was like a heart attack on a plate. A big plate. Struggling slightly with the weight he carried it back to the table and found a seat. To his surprise he found himself next to Mayweather.

"Managed to drag yourself off the Beowulf, eh?"

"I got hungry." Mayweather said. Archer noticed that he sat facing the landing craft, and wore a ship issue baseball cap with the visor pulled low, limiting his field of vision. Probably made him a little less uncomfortable. "You know, the professor's a pretty good cook, for a Brit. But I wish I knew what this was." He pointed with his fork. Half concealed under a slice of bread was a thick circular slice of some black substance, globules of white fat embedded within.

Archer looked closer. "Looks a bit like a salami. But not as wide, or thinly sliced. And completely the wrong colour."

Mayweather shrugged and cut himself a chunk, then took a bite. "Not bad. Savoury."

"It's called black pudding." said Sato helpfully, sitting opposite. "And it's made from blood."

Mayweather froze. "You waited until I was swallowing before saying that, didn't you?" She grinned.

Partridge dropped into the chair next to Sato. "Bit of a funny story there. During the Second World War, when the Germans were blockading Britain to starve our country into submission, there was actually a serious proposal to turn some of the stored human blood, donated for medical purposes, into black pudding for food. Of course nothing ever came of it but still, you have to laugh."

"Is this some sort of revenge thing?" Mayweather asked. "You get sick while I'm flying, so you try to make me sick?"

Partridge tutted. "As if I'd do such a thing. I'm pretty, not petty. Besides, everyone's got the same. Well, not those whose religion forbids it, or who's vegetarian. But everyone else. See?" She speared a piece of black pudding on her own plate, and devoured it with gusto.

Archer carefully cut the rind from a bacon rasher, throwing it to Porthos. The dog caught it in mid air and wolfed it down.

"By the way, are you busy tonight Hoshi?" Partridge asked.

"Not tonight, no."

"What about you Autumn?"

"Well, I'm supposed to be on stag tonight--sentry duty--but the advantage of being in charge is that I can change things if there's a good reason."

Partridge took a mouthful of egg. "Oh, there's a good reason, a very good reason. Something you girls will enjoy." She held up a data chip, and pointed at it with the other hand. "'Enter The Dragon'! Set up a big display screen in my tent, make a night of it."

Sato and James exchanged bemused glances. "Dragon...this isn't one of your monster movies is it?" the marine asked. "Only I couldn't sleep for a week after that last one."

"What? No. No, nothing like that. You'll love it. Trust me."

Sato shrugged. "OK then. Hey, I've got a couple of bottles of Chateux Picard in my bag. Now I know you don't normally drink Polly...."

"Hey, special occasion!"

James said "I may have a little something squirrelled away myself. Hey, Tipping, you've got my stag tonight."

"What? Now that ain't fair."

"Yeah, ain't life a bitch."

Archer leant backwards in his chair and looked upwards. "Stars are coming out."

All conversation ceased as everyone faced skywards.

"A new sky." Polly breathed, eyes wide with wonder. "Stars you can't see from Earth. And some you can, but in different positions. New constellations. Beautiful...Thanks John. Thanks for letting me come with you. Thanks for letting me see this."

He smiled. "You're welcome. Now let's see...that there is Betalgeuse...and that's Epsilon Eridani...that might be Rigel."

"Which is Earth?" Dumont asked.

Archer shook his head. "You can't see it from here, we're too far south. Perhaps before we leave we should head north so we can see it, from the surface. It's not the same looking through the transparent aluminium of the ships observation dome."

"Though you could say that that one is home." Partridge said, pointing.

Archer looked, then lifted his communicator. "Archer to Enterprise. Come in please."

"Enterprise. Hernandez here."

"Commander, you were due to leave orbit more than an hour ago. We're perfectly fine down here, you don't have to watch over us like a mother hen. Go carry out your mission."

"Ah, yes Captain."

"Archer out."

***

A few hours later, Mayweather was dozing peacefully in his bed when he was disturbed by a sudden thump. Looking round, bleary eyed and in near darkness, he could just make out a blurred figure stumbling out of the lavatory, banging into things.

"Wha...hey, you OK?" he mumbled.

The figure spoke, it's voice female but otherwise slurred beyond recognition. "You....offended m'family...'fended a shaolin temple!" It then began making a series of high pitched, bird like cries, before stepping through the rear hatch, missing it's footing and tumbling down the loading ramp. Mayweather got part way out of bed, intending to offer assistance, when he heard the figure laughing uproariously and staggering away.

He shrugged, got back into bed, pulled the blankets tight and went back to sleep.
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Old January 11 2011, 01:50 AM   #30
USS Avenger
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Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

All right been waiting for this! I really enjoy the way you meld the technology into the story, in this case the drones for local recon and security. The Chateaux Picard reference was cool too. And what could dear Polly be up to now?
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