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  • #31

    On a black square that was glittering with the freshly formed glass sat the Belenos, a bright jewel in the wastes surrounding it. To the east of it was the first contact building and monument. It consisted of several rectangular and flat buildings, most missing their windows, and housed several offices. This would be their first target of investigation. Would the water or power still work? Was there anything left to scavenge, perhaps people still held hope for a rescue and had an encampment there. The bullet holes and shelling damage made the Admiral doubt that latter thought but perhaps there was still some technology around. Some tablets, terminals or other finer equipment which would give them an idea of the technology difference these 150 years of separation had caused.
    A soft rumbling announced that the Belenos was slowly lifting up on its wheels. It would still take a while before she would be ready to move or the first plane could be launched from the flight deck. The admiral accepted a report being given to him by his aide and looked over the atmospheric report.
    "No man is to be outdoors without at least a dust mask... Wear your helmets." he said aloud, the proper crew member making it a rule in the Belenos equipment load outs. The air was breathable, if dry, but it had an unusual amount of small metal particles in it. Nowhere near enough to be dangerous but long term breathing would probably cause internal damage. "Make dust filters for air systems a high priority on scavenging lists..."

    "Yes Major, the air is breathable and there seems to be moisture in it still, so not all of it has bled out to space. We can get a modest amount with our own systems. And to be honest, I would love to give you some air cover but the launch deck needs to be inspected and prepped first. You will assemble a small team and take the Scout out to the First Contact building and look for survivors, water and material. The Scout can only hold six people but it has a on board drone control. Our antenna aren't up yet. I expect you to attempt to be Less than Lethal. The Captain will join you in her heavy gear, shield and bean bag shotgun. You will be allowed to bring two breaching charges. Pick your targets wisely."
    The Admiral coughed and gave a smile.
    "Before you go.. you may want to visit the facilities since I doubt you'd want to get stuck out there needing to go... Keep constant contact with Command."

    The Admiral knew about the sword, even if the rest of the crew gave it a few side glances, and thus had commented the LTL option. The screen in front of him started to fill with vectors and numbers as the on board weapon systems started their digital test fires. He hoped for peaceful contact but prepared for the opposite.
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    • #32

      Jeylyn's brow rose. Not at the Admiral. That would have been disrespectful.

      Schooling his features, he turned back from the window and looked at Stradford. Despite his efforts, an expression remained on his face of mild incredulity. "You think me not capable of using less-than-lethal force?" that expression said. And, "I follow my orders. You should know and trust that."

      Realizing he was regarding his commanding officer with those thoughts in his expression, he worked to school himself again. His face assumed an expression of equanimity, and he nodded. Calm, collected, ready to understand the Admiral's reasons and carry out his wishes.

      "Aye, Sir," he said. "If I may ask though, Sir. Why only two breaching charges?"

      That was another thing that had Jeylyn's brow going up. It sounded like a baseless, bureaucratic demand - just following a rule because it was a rule. Where in their current situation, no one could begin to know what to expect. They should be prepared for any eventuality, not following nonsensical rules.

      Then, Jeylyn looked down in thought, his brows scrunching. "Something else," he said, looking back up at Stradford. "I was stationed in the old middle-easter deserts some ten years ago. Water was a concern for a while. We were pinned down for a good couple of weeks. We did have plenty of fuel, though."

      He smirked. 'Plenty' would have been an understatement. They had been towing a tanker full of gasoline in a small convoy when the enemy had struck. They had had about a thousand liters of the stuff.

      "One thing we did," he continued. "Was run our vehicles' motors almost continuously. We did it for one specific reason. Water."

      He smiled at another memory.

      "Our gunnery sergeant, who was also our lead mechanic, fixed up buckets with filters to go under the vehicles' air-conditioning evaporators. The water tasted pretty foul, like rusted metal, but it was water."

      He nodded.

      "Sir, by their nature, air-conditioners cause water to condense on their evaporators. We should run our units on full blast and catch the water." A shrug. "Power isn't a concern." Another shrug. "We keep ourselves cool, and we have plenty to drink. If there is any water at all in this atmosphere, it will condense on anything cold. Air-conditioner evaporators get very cold."

      With that said, Jeylyn gave the Admiral another nod, and then gave him another salute.

      "By your leave, Sir," he said formally, and then turned to leave the command deck, a picture of a professional soldier out to carry out his orders.
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      • #33

        *Before Helena left the deck, she would look over her shoulder to the Major, "Will be at the ready as soon as you ask." She seemed incredibly eager to get to it, "But in the meantime, I must ensure that everyone is properly armed and prepared."

        With that, she turns and heads to the nearest armory, to assist those with the Admiral's orders. She intends to return as soon as the task is handled.

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        • #34

          Margras nodded to the Admiral as he stepped back into the Bridge, saluting the Admiral (sloppily, but the thought was there).

          "Admiral," he greeted, "Margras Stormflash reporting."

          He moved to his seat, taking the time to set it correctly, before sliding into it and bringing up the control software.

          He turned his head to look when the Major stepped back into the bridge.

          "My personal collection is available as well," he added after the equine mentioned drones, "I've got four multi-rotors of various sizes, a solar-powered tracked ground drone, and a small civilian-grade all-terrain Tumbler."

          He fell silent while the Admiral and the Major conversed. He stuck out his tongue at the mention of the taste of the water from air-conditioner evaporators, before huffing at himself; better bad-tasting water than none.

          As soon as the conversation ended, he jumped in.

          "Admiral, I recommend apprising Terra of the situation as soon as possible," he stated, meeting the Admiral's eye.

          Communicated through that look was the fact that Terra might be their only hope for rescue, though even that would hinge on them holding out for the nine years it would take their rescuers to arrive.
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          • #35

            Jeylyn nodded at Helena, then to Stradford, acknowledging the order again.

            Then, he hesitated. He glanced down at Margras. The look he gave him was sorrowful.

            Jeylyn looked up at the Admiral. "I agree," he said. There was a degree of steel in his voice, however. "Terra needs to be contacted. However..."

            He turned to take in everyone on the bridge, his eye meeting everyone's. "We all need to come to grips with one thing: we are on our own. We need to drill that into our heads until it becomes a mental attitude." He looked back down at Margras again. "Nine years. Minimum," he emphasized. "I don't know how many years it took to build this spacecraft, but it will take a minimum of another equal amount of years to build another. That is even if Terra has the resources to build another at the time they receive our distress call. It could be twenty years, or more before they're able to organize a rescue mission. Then onto that tack nine years travel time."

            Jeylyn shook his head, slowly. He met everyone's eye again, taking everyone in one by one again, this time until he came back to Margras. He laid a gentle hand on the goanna's shoulder, gave it an equally gentle squeeze. "If we hold out even the faintest hope of rescue, when our rescuers do come, if they come, all they will come to is a graveyard."

            He gave Margras' shoulder another gentle squeeze, then removed his hand, returning it to rest on the hilt of his sword.

            "Meet at the aft port ramp in thirty minutes. Bring your drones. All of them." He turned to Helena. "Have your squad ready to depart with us."

            Jeylyn spared another respectful nod for Stradford, then turned and strode purposefully off the bridge.
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            • #36

              Stradford's eyebrow raised a bit at the Major's question.
              "Because it is an office building mostly... Any door that is locked will most likely give way to a bit of force. The charges are for any secured supply rooms that you may come across. Also, if they did not expect us to arrive, and I doubt they did, it will probably be empty and powered down. After nine years of waiting and... suffering damage that for now I will put up to panicked masses using firearms, I doubt there will be much to get from inside the building." The Admiral rubbed his ribs and gave a long stare to the outside. He returned to his position of oversight on the command deck and took in a deep breath to steady himself.
              "I would like that you refrain from further comments of graveyards to any of the crew. Specially the civilian branches. Also, Major, I know you have seen actual combat and seem sure about possible war being ringside, you have spoken about this to me before our long rest, but looking out there... any war has come and gone..."

              He gave the Major a final nod and fixed his gaze upon the triangular table in the middle of the room as it came to life with the first crude map of where they had landed. The relay station, now in the center of the ring, had cameras on board and was transmitting the pictures down to the Belenos. For now it was slow and low resolution as the Belenos' com equipment was still being unpacked, the generator not yet started, but it gave them at least something to look at without needing eyes in the sky or boots on the ground.
              "I want the flight deck cleared as soon as possible..." Stradford said softly. He wanted a clearer picture.

              ------------------------------------------

              Mio woke up with a gasp for the second time this day. Day? Well, it seemed to still be a single day. She had passed out when the Belenos hit, the air pushed from her lungs, and now was being shaken awake by her recon co-pilot, a fox named Gary.
              "Hey, you hurt?" the fox asked softly.
              "What? No, just... Where am I? Did... Did we land?" Mio asked as she was helped out of her restraints and her seat sat upright, memories of the pale yellow ring flooding back to her confused mind. "Is Orbona really..." Gary just gave a sour look and a nod towards a viewport. Mio got up and walked to the port and looked outside. From this port all she could see was sand... and a bit of road hiding under it. "Oh no..." Fear gripped her as she tried to see more but all she saw was the endless sand.
              "Come on, we need to help get the recon plane together, it has been ordered to take off asap...." Gary said and gently tugged Mio away by her arm.
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              • #37

                Jeylyn paused by the door leading from the bridge out into the corridor.

                "Understood, Sir," he said respectfully. The confirmation was offered with real respect, too, and not anything begrudging or feigned. This was because he understood one thing, and knew Stradford understood it very well, himself. They were a reconnaissance and rescue expedition. Moreover, their people had expected to find a lush, green landscape here, with water and food in plentiful supply. The fact that any of that was no longer here, would have had a definite impact on morale. No one wanted further impact to it from talk about 'Graveyards' and the like.

                In fact, if anything, Stradford's mild reprimand made Jeylyn smile. The man knew and he understood. He was in full grasp of the situation they were in, and his thinking was for his crew first, and its morale, and therefore its ability to operate effectively in what had turned out to be an extraordinary situation.

                When Stradford would look up, as would be normal for anyone who knew they were being observed, he would find Jeylyn looking at him. The equine gave him a minute but firm nod. "I am your man," that nod said. "You will be able to count on me till the end."

                Right after that, Jeylyn was gone - off down the corridor, his voice following after him as he barked orders into his wrist array's radio.
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                • #38

                  *Helena was moving out the door when she caught the order from the Major, calling back, "Aye, sir!" Her first task was the Admiral's orders. Ensuring to arm everyone with the appropriate weaponry. Non-lethals for civilian personnel, and lethals for military. Whilst doing this, she would catch the call signs for her squad, ensuring they are awake before issuing orders to prepare for an outward departure to assist the Major. In the meantime however, she would have them assist the others once they are preped. As she was just about to do herself.

                  Unlike the rest of her squad, she runs the heaviest. She believes this leads by example as she goes in first to attract the attention of the present enemy as well as their arms fire which allows her more spread out squad to take cover a decent distance away to accurately dispense with hostile targets. Otherwise, she is the door knocker that breaks open doors to allow her squad to breech/clear with relative ease. She will not ask one of her own to do something that she herself is not willing to do.

                  Knowing that she is likely to be door knocking in this instance, she loads up a few flash-bangs and loads up on non-lethal equipment. Such as an extra battery for her wrist mounted shock baton and rubber-canister shot for her shield mounted Scatter-gun as well as some rubber munitions for her carbine. Once she was set, she'd check the time and spend up until 10minutes until departure time checking with personnel that everyone was armed before heading to the Aft port Ramp.

                  Since her orders to her squad was relatively light for the exception of gearing up and ensuring that who ever they passed was armed, they would likely be there before her. Her armor was a bit off due to the fact they were expecting a more urban and less desert environment, so her armor is digital camo. Varying gray and black markers which won't be a problem once at the target.

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                  • #39

                    Well that was certainly gonna leave a bruise. she thought to herself, rubbing her side where the harness had pinched. At least she was entirely awake now, even if her ears were now ringing like a church bell.

                    Her haste must’ve been the cause of the pinch, she couldn’t have made it into the seat more than a minute before the ship started bucking the crew about like an unbroken bronco.

                    She’d been among the last of the crew released from their pods, what had originally been meant to be a rather gentle awakening, and return to consciousness, became a pair of medical technicians jostling her back into awareness when the remaining pods had been flipped to their emergency status and cracked at once. She’d been pulled from the pod still in a haze, big ears limply flopping about in the zero-g, flicking and twitching idly as she moved through the open space in an almost zombie like fashion, a yawn slipping her muzzle as she fumbled with the little packet of yoghurt, squeezing it a little too hard, blinking at it before giggling a bit at the realization in her still sleepy daze as the glob floated before her in the absence of gravity, choosing to snap at it rather than doing the sensible thing and trying to nudge it toward her maw with a finger, missing once before managing to catch it.

                    She had been oblivious of the commotion around her once the door was open, not being one of the ones on the bridge, or engineering and controls, meant she hadn’t been privy to the situation, though she likely should’ve cared more since it was her job to know about problems with the ships computer systems and protocols. But as it was, she’d been completely oblivious, even when someone rocketed past down the hallway toward engineering, giving no acknowledgment aside from a muttered “geez…what’s the rush…” under her breath as she continued on her way.

                    Her daze only starting to lift when someone, a big feline of some sort she didn’t get much of a look at, was hurriedly urging crew into their seats in the room she was designated to head for when she came out of cryo. She’d actually be amazed she’d even been able to find it in her sleepy state, after the fact when she actually realized it of course.


                    She gingerly rubbed her side again where the strap had pinched, taking a moment to glance at it. the restraints had done their job, even if it had apparently gotten twisted when she was trying to buckle it in the rush the cat had been pushing on her. She groaned softly to herself, carefully undoing the clasps one by one now that the ship had seemed to come to a complete stop

                    She stumbled a bit as she found her footing. The first time in nine, probably closer to ten years now with the work she’d been doing on the ship in dry dock before the launch, that she’d had solid ground beneath her feet. She’d almost forgotten what it felt like. She grabbed the seat she’d been strapped in for balance, steadying herself and carefully making a few circles around the chair, the process coming back to her as easily as riding a bike would be, even if she felt stiff and sore.

                    She headed out into the hall, ears more on the alert than they had been as she found the crew still carrying the sense of urgency about them as they’d had before they made landfall. She caught bits and pieces of conversations happening, but the one that drew the most attention, was the ‘Desert Wasteland’ one. She’d known there was a chance the ring could be wracked with a war torn surface, destroyed and damaged with civil unrest, but a Desert wasteland…? She spun back around, heading back into the labs, and making a rather short beeline for the porthole in the far wall to finally catch a glimpse of the world they’d landed on. Her ears swiveling forward as she stood on her tip toes to peek through the glass.

                    “Whelp. That hoodie’s gonna be useless.” She muttered to herself. Nothing but desert and destroyed buildings as far as the eye could see. Lightweight clothing just jumped to the top of the list.

                    Her quarters, she was reminded by it, she needed to figure out where her quarters were, she needed to check on her personal effects now that they’d touched down. And see about getting her implants reinstalled. That was a high priority since they were gonna be stuck on this desert of a ring. She should probably check on the equipment she’d had brought along too, but that’d been sitting quietly for nine years already, it could wait another hour or two.
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                    • #40

                      Margras opened his mouth to protest Jeylyn's assertion, before his expression fell, and he sighed instead. The Major was right.

                      "All right," he said in response to being told to join the Major, "The Belenos's control system is more capable than my portable rig, but the portable system is better able to handle interior environments. Less multitasking, more fine control."

                      His hands danced across the console for a moment, before he stood.

                      "I've set up an automated patrol routine synchronised with the Belenos," he informed the Admiral, "Any drone linked to the control system will automatically begin the patrol, returning to base for recharge as necessary. Since my largest multi-rotor is too large to use effectively indoors, I'll set it up for that, get you a bit of a clearer picture. It won't be long-range, though; the recon plane will be much better for surveying anything beyond the immediate area."

                      The issue was that any signal with the info density of a drone control connection would have a limited range (without the use of a relay, at least), or require very large amounts of power; amounts that the Belenos wasn't capable of providing without her fusion reactor.

                      "By your leave, Admiral," he said, exiting the bridge once he had permission.

                      :::

                      He jogged down the corridors to where his personal belongings had been stored. Opening the locker, the first thing he pulled out was his favourite longcoat, vacuum-packed like the Major's uniform had been.

                      A heavy frown formed on his muzzle as he looked at it. It had been packed with the anticipation of a temperate environment. Now...

                      It was far too hot to wear it outside during the day cycle. He would need to check how much the temperature dropped during the night cycle, but his hopes weren't high.

                      Going deeper, he pulled out a backpack about the size and weight of a filled Camelback backpack water bottle, with a thick antenna poking up from near the right shoulderblade, followed by a pair of AR gauntlets and a headset with a display visor. His portable drone control rig.

                      He shrugged into the backpack in a fluid, well-practiced movement, buckling the chest strap, before pulling on the gauntlets - making sure to put the wristlink over the top of them - and sliding the headset onto his head. He booted the system as he pulled out his drones; most of them had been stored intact due to being relatively compact (or in the case of the tumbler, still in its box; he'd splurged a bit before the journey), but his largest multi-rotor had been partially disassembled for storage.

                      It took a couple of minutes to find a way to carry them all, but he was soon making his way to the aft port ramp.

                      He knew he was going there very early, but there was a reason behind this; he needed to unbox the Tumbler, and reassemble the large multi-rotor.

                      The Major and the ground team would find him just inside the ramp, finishing up with the assembly; he gave them a wave as he attached the last of the rotor arms.
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                      • #41

                        Jeylyn joined Margras just as the goanna was finishing up the assembly of his Tumbler.

                        He nodded down at the thing. "We'd use those a lot, during terrorist raids," he said. "They're perfect for going indoors when there is possibility of hostiles."

                        Jeylyn had stopped by his quarters and gotten some more of his gear. He was still dressed the same as before, but now he was also wearing a ballistic vest, and he had a nine-millimeter carbine slung over his shoulder, in addition to his pistol and sword. The carbine had a large parabola sight on it, its lens a dull, shiny crimson. It was a long-range infrared sight, then.

                        Jeylyn took the carbine down off of his shoulder and situated it over his knees, squatting down next to Margras. He scraped a fingernail over the tread of one of the Tumbler's tires, admiring its design. He then brought an eye up to the goanna.

                        "No heroics out there today," he said softly enough for only Margras to hear. "You're too valuable to this mission. If you see things going south, I want you thinking only one thing. The Belenos. Understood? Even if one of us gets taken out, I want you hightailing it back here. Any one of us can fire weapons. Only you know how to run our drones. If we lose you, this mission loses a distinct tactical advantage."

                        Jeylyn's eyes held Margras', they flicking minutely between the goanna's own. "I have no idea what we can expect out there, but there is a good chance we may find some people in some of these buildings. Even if not, our coming down was a hell of a beacon for anybody who happens to have eyes in their skulls. We were visible to anyone on this whole ring. You can bet that any of them with a minimum of two brain cells to rub together are heading our direction. They could be people in hope of rescue. They could be friendlies."

                        Jeylyn's brow darkened. "But just as likely not, too. If there are people living on this thing, they're going to be desperate. If they find out we are a one-way mission, even the friendlies can become hostiles. They'll start thinking what they can take from us for their own survival, and if they're successful, our bones will be left to bleach under the sun."

                        Jeylyn's gaze was intense. "Clear?"

                        Jeylyn rose. He re-slung his carbine and walked over to the ramp's control station and entered the combination to open the ramp. Motors whirred to life within the Belenos' structure, then gears began to whine. The ramp began to lower. A sliver of light shone through the top of the ramp, widening.

                        It was as bright as molten gold.
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                        • #42

                          The landing had gone as well as Tatsuka had expected it to go and was rather glad for it. Had it been a perfect landing? No, but they landed virtually on target and upright...which was a good landing in his eyes.

                          During all the commotion before Ringfall, Tatsuka did see the images of the ringworld and he could hear a few mutterings now about what everyone saw before ringfall. While it did make his heart sink a bit as he was looking forward to seeing Orbona in all its glory, he knew that now was not the time to worry. Right now, he and his crew had to get the Belenos up and running so that the Admiral can get a better idea on what is going on. Right now, they were a gigantic paperweight with crew.

                          He shook any negative thoughts from his mind and hit the button that released his restraints.

                          "Alright! Listen up!" Tatsuka shouted and nodded to both Jeylyn and Margras as the two made a hasty exit from Engineering. "Do not worry what is going on outside the Belenos, our main concern is here inside the Belenos and until we get all the systems up and running so that the Admiral can get a better idea at what exactly is going on, we do not have time to lament on the state of Orbona. You heard the Admiral, we need to get the reactor started, monitor the Belenos as it unpacks itself and get those checks started on the defensive systems. Once the Belenos has finished unpacking, we then need to get the flight deck up and running so that means the recon craft need to be unpacked and triple checked before we start to send those flyboys and girls up into the air. Lets get to it!"

                          It was as if Tatsuka had hit the reset button on everyone as they stood for a brief second before they began their assigned tasks. Tatsuka grinned as everyone started their tasks without any more fuss, though he could still see some concerned and worried expressions among his crew. For now he left them to their tasks and immediately went down to the reactor room.

                          "Admiral, I need someone from Security to report to the Reactor. We need access to the security locker down here" he called using his wrist com while he quickly made his way down. The reactor had several braces that kept the reactor from moving and those braces had covers with explosive bolts to remove them. It was an added security measure, just in case one wanted to sabotage the mission.

                          Once someone from Security arrived to open the security locker in the reactor room, the covers were quickly removed so Tatsuka and his team could get to removing the braces. The team worked like a well oiled machine as parts of the braces were taken off in a specific order as they were reused inside the reactor room elsewhere to make the reactor function properly. Everything was designed to be reused as much as possible and not much was considered a throw-away item.

                          Tatsuka went to the com monitor in the reactor room now that all the bracers were removed. He made a priority com to the bridge and looked to the camera as the connection was made "Admiral! Reactor is ready to fire up. With your permission, I will be sending a ship-wide alert as all vital systems will switch to their batter backups and all other power will be shut off so that we can kickstart the fusion reactor." He said and waited for the Admiral to give him the go-ahead. Once it was given keyed in his service number and soon a klaxon sounded throught the ship along with warning lights galore, an automated voice also alerted everyone that the reactor was about to start and everyone needed to assume their posts.

                          In the background, the Admiral would notice that Tatsuka and his crew were starting to dawn some protective eye wear as they continued to man their posts, checking readouts and tapping on their screens to adjust various parameters for the startup sequence.

                          Tatsuka watched his main display as relays and switches controlling power throughout the ship were closed or switched to pump all remaining power in the main batteries down to a large bank of capacitors that would kickstart reactor. All the while, he would report its status to the bridge.

                          "Capacitors are at 85% and climbing. 10 seconds and counting Admiral. I will be shutting this channel down so not to burn the camera." He meant no disrespect to the Admiral as he did not wait for a reply before the com was cut off, he simply had his paws full and did not want to forget.

                          Despite the thick shielding that was between them and the capacitor room, an electrostatic charge could be felt throughout the room, not to mention the low humm that reverberated through the walls. It became so loud that Tatsuka found himself shouting to his crew.

                          A few seconds before the reactor start, all the power throughout the ship, save the emergency systems dimmed and cut out. With all the advancements in technology, one might laugh at the fact that the remaining switch that would kickstart the reactor was a mechanical one. With as much power that was about to get transferred, one may not want to entrust the switch to be electrically controlled.

                          "Close the circuit!" Tatsuka shouted as one of his techs pressed the button that would release a heavy metal plate driven by a massive spring that pushed an insulator cap away and closed the circuit. A thunderclap could be heard as a massive discharge from the capacitors into the reactor was near instantaneous. A light so bright that it almost rivaled the sun enveloped the room, flashed and was instantly gone.

                          A sound that almost sounded ancient, like an old turbocharged rotary engine starting up was heard. It was a good sound that Tatsuka was glad to hear, it meant that the reactor was starting up. The Belenos was now producing its own power.

                          The sleeping giant that was the Belenos was starting to wake up, systems through the ship were turning on one by one and soon the lights were turned back on and the klaxon stopped.

                          "Admiral, reactor is running nominal. Control is being routed to the bridge, go easy on her. We just unwrapped her and I would like that new smell to last a bit longer" he teased and winked at the camera. "Do not be alarmed if the defensive systems power cycle during the tests, they have to switch from battery to fusion power one at a time so not to overload the system. I will be making my way up to the flight deck to oversee the deployment of our recon craft." This time, Tatsuka waited for the Admiral to reply in case he wished Tatsuka to be elsewhere.
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                          • #43

                            *Hel would eventually catch up to the rest. She'd approach the Major, "Alright sir, Beta Squad is present and accounted for. On codes, you should be 1-1, I'm 1-2..." She looks to Margas and points, "Margar, yeah? You're 1-3. The rest of the squad is 1-4 through 1-7." She'd so assign... unless she was given more men to work with that is! She had also packed extra water. suit batteries and some additional ammunition, most of which was non-lethal, as well as some additional flashbangs.

                            She'd have her shield resting on the side of her pack, ready for deployment. On the inside of it, just under her arm attachment was her weapons. Both of which were accessible to her. She seemed ready to be deployed for Riot duty back in Western. She'd stand in a relax stance, awaiting further orders.

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                            • #44

                              Admiral Stradford gave a firm nod mostly to himself as he felt the vibration of the reactor activating and all the onboard displays and lights flickering on and off for a moment like a cheap horrorfilm before restarting. More lights than before soon joined, more screens lit up and the 3D map in the center table of the command deck lit up much more brightly. The table looked much deeper than it was but it was a clever use of screens and mirrors that made this effect, there was no actual holographic projection going on.

                              “Raise us up Helmsman.” the Admiral said softly into the coms. At the front of the Belenos, below the flight deck, sat the cockpit of the large vehicle and they controlled most of the Belenos movement. The crew there shot into action and lowered the four treads of the Belenos down upon the husk of the Cocoon ship that brought them to this hell hole, lifting up the Belenos on its suspension system. It was a feat of hydraulics, mechanics and several computer controlled gyroscopes that meant that the flight deck was almost always water level to aid with launch of aircraft.
                              “Raise our coms... Prepare to contact the relay station.” Stradford continued once the Belenos had lifted. Three big masts lifted up along with a few dishes and they quickly located the relay station and gave a green light.
                              “Ready to send Admiral.” said the coms officer.
                              “'Belenos made ringfall upon a dead world. Require immediate rescue. Current mission, find survivors, await rescue. Awaiting orders from Terra... Orbona is lost.' Send that with my codes, after it is sent, send all visual data we can... Keep us in contact with the station at all times and be sure to also send the Station's new location to Terra.”
                              “Yes Sir, Message sending...”

                              The interstellar distances involved made communications difficult. Terra and the Relay Station used a strange tight beam communication system of both infrared light, radio waves and small 'explosions' of energy that could each be caught by different detecting technology that was looking for it. This way, with the triple message, the whole thing could be caught even if part of one of the kinds of message had been distorted somehow and puzzled together, even if you sometimes did have to wait longer for one part of it. It only worked if you knew where the other station would roughly be.

                              -----------------

                              At the back of the vehicle hanger the crew that was busy unpacking the various vehicles soon joined around the Major and the others to look upon the ramp lowering onto the sand of Orbona. The golden glow filled the hanger and soon hot air like that out of a blow dryer hit the people inside. It was dry and heavy, a bit hard to breathe and soon the hangar crew reached for dust masks. Now muffled by the masks the cries of horror and surprise sounded even more eerie. Some hugged each other for support, others let their head fall into their hands, most just stared.

                              The yellow sand just stretched on and on... and then suddenly went upwards and stretched to the sky until it disappeared way overhead in a blue haze above them. Judging from the color of the rising ringside there was more than one type of topography at the very least, the shades of yellow hinting at mountains or rocky areas as well. The places where the seas should have been now were a brilliant, salty white.
                              There was not a hint of blue or green anywhere.

                              The Belenos' main hangar door was pointing towards the rising ringside, the First Contact statue and Offices were to the right of her, left of the hangar. It was a bit over half a click of the deep grey concrete top of the landing pad, now covered in sand and rough glass, before the actual buildings showed up. The large, now broken statue stood in front of the way up to two large double doors and into the building proper. The way it was built was low to the ground and almost bunker like. This was because it was a bunker! Connections to the other, smaller buildings surrounding the main one were underground and everything was reinforced in case a ship came in too hot.
                              The insides would be a bit of an underground maze and there was no knowing if the hallways hadn't collapsed but it was the only point of civilization close by that they knew of right now.

                              An electric hiss could be heard as the six wheeled Scout Tumbler was driven up to the Major and the away party. The ST was a sturdy multipurpose vehicle that could traverse just about any solid surface, and a few semi solids as well, and was one of the newest vehicles on the Belenos.
                              “2nd Lt Val Tomková, pilot, reporting!” a female gecko said and saluted from her driver's seat in the tumbler. She was already wearing her helmet with filters installed so it was a bit hard to see her face but judging from the name and her accent she was from Global Acceptance, previously known as the liberation front. She wore the uniform of a dedicated driver, or 'pilot' in this case. She would not be part of the infiltration team but instead stick with the ST.
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                              • #45

                                "I understand, Major," Margras replied, "No heroics. Things go south, head for the Belenos."

                                He gave Jeylyn a nod, before turning to Hel as she approached.

                                "Margras," he corrected, before nodding in response to receiving the callsign.

                                "Beta one-three. Got it," he stated.

                                As the ramp opened, he winced, reaching for a dust mask and pulling it on - despite being a goanna, and thus adapted for the desert, this was too much - before he turned on the large multi-rotor, synching it with the Belenos' control system. Its rotors immediately spun up with a whine, before lifting off and flying out the door.

                                "It's set to patrol the area around the Belenos," he explained, carefully securing his other drones to his person, "It's too large to be practical indoors."

                                Tapping his wristlink, he connected to the bridge.

                                "Admiral, drone is in the air," he reported, "You should have visuals coming online now."

                                True to his word, some of the Bridge screens snapped to high-resolution images streamed from the drone as it slowly circled the Belenos.

                                He took a moment to check over his sidearm, before holstering it and giving the team a thumbs-up.

                                Now prepared, he stood and looked out at the ring.

                                "Man..."
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                                Lieutenant Commander Jaxamar Tarrus Stormfang

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