Around the World in 80 Seconds

"Take us to Khara, Siberia," Doc orders the Autopilot.

Mark is finally awake and rubbing his cheek. "What the hell happened?" he asks, wearily.

"You were beat up by a wench!" laughs Thunderhorse.

"That weren't no damn woman. She was some kinda bull, and boy can she kick."

Doc lets the autopilot do its thing. He goes into the back and grabs a couple med kits from the backpacks. He checks Mark out, dosing him with some painkillers, applying disinfectant, and slapping on some bandages. A sharp pain in his gut reminds Doc of the MiB's boot. He downs some pain killers as well.

The Python winds its way through Milwaukee traffic towards the orbital entry lanes. Ahead of them, the other ships in line begin to leap high into the atmosphere and out into orbit. The feeling is much like going up the chain on a rollercoaster, only when they reach the zenith, they'll be going up very fast before they come down. The Python's seatbelt alarms move from mere insistance to urgent demand.

The operatives strap in.

"Hey, is that beer I smell?" Mark asks. "Can I get one of them?"

Doc tosses Mark a lukewarm one. Pity there's no mini-fridge on this bus. Mark pops it open and begins to drink. As he brings it to his lips, the Python leaps into high gear. The force of the acceleration dumps the contents of the tallboy into Mark's face.

"Pfff! Fucking hell!" Mark sputters.

Within moments, they're in orbit once again. The spilled beer begins to float all around the cabin in freefall, bouncing off the walls and apholstry but sticking to clothes and hair.

"Great. I just washed this jacket, Mark."

"Hey! It's not my damn fault. The fucking space boat did it."

The trip into orbit is not long. The ship follows a ballistic trajectory over North America, peaks over the Arctic Circle, and begins the descent into Siberia.

During the Greenhouse Crisis, the governments of Earth were scrambling to find suitable farmlands as the American midwest suffered severe droughts and the deserts began to expand. When the permafrost began to melt in Siberia, much of that land was claimed for farming. Large expanses of what was once harsh, endless tundra became a quilt of cornfields.

Looking down on it now reminds Doc of the early midwest, covered in farms and dotted with suburban communities, only more broken by mountains. The villageof Khara, however, is so far north that it was not affected much by the Crisis. For them, it was a spot of good weather.

Doc sets the heads-up display to label the landmarks on the planet below them. Their flight path is taking them miles south of the target to a landing sight in Yakutsk.

"Computer, why are we landing this far south?"

The computer displays the flight zones in the area. Doc sees something very interesting, a launch loop is in service out here. A launch loop is an iron conveyor belt wich is strung across two base stations a thousand miles apart. The belt is moving so fast it is held fifty miles aloft by its own momentum. Ships can hook on to the iron belt magnetically and let it fling them into low orbit, from which they can fire their own rockets. It was an elegant and inexpensive solution for putting large amounts of cargo into space. Construction of these super huge devices had only just begun in Doc's time. In this time, with all the cheap clean fusion rockets flying about, it seems a bit dated.

Khara is located within the airspace safety zone of the launch loop, which means that no unauthorized traffic is allowed. This law seems a bit archaic considering all the safety devices on board the ship, but the autopilot is dutifully following the traffic laws.

The Python sets down in Yakutsk, on a crumbling parking lot right next to the Lena river. It's about seven thirty in the morning here, and the city is bustling with morning traffic. It's a fairly large town, certainly not as big as the Great Lakes Sprawl, but it reminds Doc of Columbus, OH from his day.

A message pipes in over the ship's com as they land. "[Welcome to Yakutsk!]" it says in Russian. "[The Tourism Council of the Republic of Sakha wishes you to enjoy your stay!]"


ERR said...

Doc Treat Injury Check 29 vs. 15, Success, XP+15, Mark HP+4
Doc Treat Injury Check 26 vs. 15, Success, XP+15, Doc HP +4
2 Medkits used

Doc said...


"I know it's early, but let's see if we can find a shop that's open and buy some clothes for Thunderhorse that fit. You look way too out of place and we need to blend in with the locals better. Then we'll have some hot breakfast and try to track down Dmitri. I haven't eaten in ages and my belly is empty. Look lively gentlemen, cause I'm not sure what we are getting into."