Orbital University

Morning comes too quickly. For the last week or so, Doc has made a habit of staying up late drinking with the others. Day and night really have no meaning on a space ship; the sun rises and sets every couple hours. It's easy to lose track of your circadian rhythm. Doc barely gets four hours sleep before the alarm goes off.

Breakfast is brief: coffee, toast, and "energy jam" which tastes like someone crushed a bunch of Flintstones Vitamins into a bowl of Jello. Mark and Thunderhorse are as sluggish as Doc. Steve seems fairly chipper, however.

"Good morning, Operatives. Ready for adventure?"

"No," Thunderhorse says bluntly into his morning brew.

"Tough titties, my friends. Off your asses and into the bus. We've got bacon to deliver."

"What bacon?" asks Thunderhorse.

"I just mean we've got things to do. Now, everyone, to the Pu. Veronica is already starting the launch procedure."

They all quietly ride the elevator together down to the hanger. Mark has never been on these levels before. He's already radiating a sense of liberation as the party enters the hanger. The tools, devices, and broken bits of the EG shuttle capture his interest significantly. Doc and Thunderhorse flank him needlessly. The yawning mouth of the Pu shuttle awaits them.

Veronica is sitting at the console, staring at it intently. Lights and monitors respond to her every glance. "Strap in," she says sharply as the party takes their seats. They do.

"All safety checks complete, preparing for detachment." She wills the docking clamps to disengage. Gravity releases its grip, and the ship begins moving back.

"How are you controlling the ship?" Steve asks.

"I found the frequencies for the remote operating systems and decoded the signal."

"But that signal is encrypted, how did you break the code?"

"I guessed."

"You guessed?"

"Forty one million, six hundred ninety two thousand, eight hundred twenty eight times."

"Using what algorithm?"

"None, really, I just guessed."

"Your brain is a computer and you just guessed."

"Got a problem with that?"

"Absolutely not. It's very interesting, that's all."

A short burst of flame spurts from the front of the ship. The Younger Brother Pear shrinks away. Another set of bursts flips and rolls the Pu precisely into a descent position, rather suddenly. The Earth grows larger beneath them.

Fire surrounds the cockpit, slowly at first but quickly into a violent blaze as the ship tears through the atmosphere. Their downward momentum turns to lateral speed as they fly over the Pacific towards North America. The scene becomes ever more familiar as the approach the Great Lakes.

Within a few moments, the Pu comes to rest in the same site it was before, in the middle of the Black Swamp. The landing is smooth. All in all, it's the most comfortable fall from the sky Doc has experienced to date.

The crew remove themselves from their seats and head towards the gangplank. Steve stop them at the door. He's withdraws the Q-TIP and the corn cob pipe from the pocket 19th century suit he's wearing. He dips the pen in and clicks the button. The wormhole comes out like sticky fluid bubbling inside the pipe.

"Okay, time to go. Doc and Mark, you go in now before Thunderhorse and I set out to deliver the pipe." He holds the thing forward. "Jump in."

Mark jumps in suddenly and quickly, reaching his arm deep into the pipe and disappearing. Doc reaches in after him as quickly as he can.

The room they arrive in is dark but sounds quite large judging by the echo. The florescent lighting flickers to life as sensors measure their presence. It's an auditorium. Folding desk chairs reveal themselves and rise from the floor as the lights above flash on in sequence.

They're standing next to an old oak table littered with trinkets and artifacts; the pipe, some silverware, wooden toys, an ax, a chamber pot, arrowheads aplenty, etc. One item of note is a familiar flintlock pistol once belonging to Captain Daniels himself.

"Hey, that's mine," he says, reaching for it. Doc stops him.

"Leave everything alone," Doc orders, pulling the pain gun from his pocket and slipping it partially into his sleeve.

Just as soon as all the lights come on and all the chairs have risen and unfolded, the three sets of double doors at the back of the lecture hall open, and a flood of students come pouring in. Men and women in their late teens and twenties all wearing fashionable jumpsuits, color changing bikinis, purposely ragged name brand flannel shirts and jeans, and a whole host of post-post modern retro styles and fashions. They chatter loudly into telephone headsets implanted in their heads. It's as if a flock of wild birds suddenly flew into the room. They begin to seat themselves.

A few of the students join Doc and Mark at the oak table, examining the 19th century relics.

"Whats this?" a young man in a color-changing Hawaian shirt asks his friend in drag.

"It's a chamber pot. People used to shit in them before they invented enematics."

"That's way gross, sapes."

"Yeah, homo, no spish. What did they do when they had to swizz?"

"Go into the same pot and stick it under the bed."

"That's frakin' stank, homo. Spish and swizz in a pot under the bed. Total munk."

Doc is momentarily distracted by the bizarre conversation. He almost doesn't notice Mark moving swiftly towards the back of the room. He catches up quickly near the doors and grabs his arm, pain gun at the ready just inside his coat sleeve.

"Just trying to find discreet seats," he says, smiling.

Doc knows it's bullshit.


ERR said...

Doc sense motive 19 (12+7), Mark Bluff check 18 (19-1). Doc XP+18

Doc said...


Let's sit down and observe, and chat if we get the chance. Watch, listen, and wait.

Meta comments- What kind of range does pain gun have?


ERR said...

Pain gun has 10' range and about 1 hour battery life under sustained usage. It works like mace, except the pain only lasts as long has you've got your finger on the button. It compels the target to run away from the beam, so it's more a self defense weapon; however even a brief pulse will cause pain and can be used much like a rolled up newspaper on a dog.