Of course, the first thing anyone wants to do when on board a space ship is to have a look out the window. The shutters, though, seem internal to the windows.
"How do I open the windows?" Doc asks aloud. The windows respond, the shutters instantly dissolving away like smoke into a fan.
The Earth hangs above him, dizzyingly close, spilling its blue glow into the small apartment. He is looking up at the Mediterranean. The continent, bright green speckled white with snowy mountaintops and splotched with Greek browns and Spanish reds, is lazily drifting past at what must be fantastic speeds.
"Where...when are we?" Doc asks. No one responds. He tries again, "Computer?"
A cheerful little chime responds, as if to ask "Yes?"
"What is our current location and time?"
The computer responds by chirping from the screen on the wall. The bamboo forest fades off and an orbital map and clock appears. At the top is a soft colored map of Earth, overlaid with gentle sine waves. They overlap each other and grow brighter until terminating at a bright red dot over Germany. The dot slides slowly northeast following a green, dotted path plotting their future course over Moscow and then back down into China. On the lower half of the screen is a clock which reads "17:03:57 GMT, 4-24-1835 CE." The screen displays some other, more technical information, but orbital mechanics gives Doc a headache. The most useful bits he can understand are "Location: Sector 146-32.4, Sol, Earth, 52.6N, 13.4E, Alt. 342 km," and "Mission Time: 9 months, 21 days, 14:27:43." Strangely, the two second counters seem to be off step with each other by 1/3rd of a second.
Doc collects his effects, glad to not have been long away from his gun.
He takes a quick inventory: wallet, comb, pen, switchblade, and keysin his pants pockets. Loaded Colt .44 on shoulder holster with a dozen rounds in the ammo pouches. Empty can of Skoal, multi-tool, Mail pouch, small bottle of ibuprofen, and lighter in his jacket pockets. He drapes the terrycloth dish towel casually around his shoulders. He then zips up his tan leather jacket just enough to conceal his weapon but leave room for a quick grab. He manages to stuff two Twinkies into the remaining space in his jacket pockets without mashing them up. He keeps another in hand.
Doc steps out of his room, into the hallway. Directly across from him is the galley. It is a large, mostly round room with three round, stainless steel tables, each of which can comfortably seat eight. To his left, on the side nearest the elevator, there is a long bar which cuts the circle of the room. The place is empty, except for the two figures at the bar.
Behind the bar is another android; a delightfully chubby model with an apron and a toque. Before him is a messy puddle of long black hair surrounded by the broken glass of shattered mugs and pools of dark ale. Attached to the hair is a body, a rather large body clad in leather studded with iron. There is a large battleaxe strapped to the man's back: dark steel, double bladed, and filthy with dark stains. His boots are fur-lined leather and his bare knees almost don't fit beneath the counter. His filthy left arm, stained with dirt and God-knows-what, hangs dead by his side. The right lies on the counter gripping a freshly filled mug of ale, seemingly invulnerable to the shards of glass beneath it. Heavy breathing from beneath the face down pile of hair blows a piece of glass onto the floor. As Doc crosses cautiously towards the bar, he detects the reek of sweat and death emanating from the man.
"Welcome, Dr. Shaw!" exclaims the Cook in a friendly, electrically tinged voice. He seems to be an older model android. Something about his skin tone, the jerkiness of his movements, and the utter stillness he keeps when not moving gives him away; a far cry from the disturbing perfection of the Host. The Cook clears away a spot at the bar for Doc to sit.
Glass clatters behind the bar. The noise disturbs the hair pile. He jumps from the stool, startled, revealing the strong, sharp, and very dirty features of his face. He screams a war cry of rage and fear as he lunges towards Doc, a fountain of ale trailing from the mug he intends to smash against his face.
Of course, the first thing anyone wants to do when on board a space ship is to have a look out the window. The shutters, though, seem internal to the windows.
Doc pulls one end of the towel into his jacket pocket and keeps his hand there, surreptitiously changing his grip to the switchblade. Again, he brings the martini to his lips and gives it a sip. Delicious.
"Please, sir, through the door and down the gangplank, and mind your head," instructs the Host. Doc obeys.
On the other side of the bulkhead is a strange room. It is split into two levels, the top level being just above his head and the floor he's standing on sloping downwards. There are two ladders inset into the walls on either side of him, allowing access to the upper deck. The top-side's ceiling is a large, gold-tinted, round pane of glass, beyond which is some kind of hanger with catwalks suspended overhead. There are eight chairs on the top deck, each with five-point harnesses, arranged in three rows: two rows of three in back and two chairs in front facing an intimidating array of controls, buttons, lights, and monitors. The lower floor ramps down, leading past airline-style closets, cabinets, and bunks. At the far end the ramp leads through an opening in the fuselage of whatever vehicle this is, and into the hanger beyond. There's not much space on the lower floor, however the arrangement of the cabinets and such suggest they're designed for use in zero-gravity.
Doc walks briskly down the ramp and out into the hanger. The hanger is large and rounded, suggesting it is part of a spherical ship, with a large cylindrical pillar in the middle. On the pillar directly in front of him is the name of the ship in Chinese letters, big and red:
The area he stands in is two stories tall with the catwalks above him networking around the ship he just stepped out of. The walls and floor of the hanger are a strange, ceramic like material stained with smeared rubber and spots of oil. The vessel he was in is not entirely parked in the hanger; instead only the front end is within the bulkhead walls. It looks like a strange cycloptic bird peering in on him, jaw agape. There are more cargo containers and palettes scattered around near the ramp. To the left is a smaller repairs garage littered with tools both foreign and familiar and chunks of mechanical apparatus in various states of assembly. To the right is another one-story garage with a vehicle about the size of a Cessna parked in front of a large, sealed airlock door.
The smaller vehicle is shaped like a flattened egg with wings. It's gold-tinted cockpit is lifted up and wires are hanging out. The engine, which takes up most of the volume of the thing, appears to be mostly disassembled. Access panels lie on the floor precariously cradling the bolts that presumably hold them to the fuselage. Tangles of wires and hoses hang out of every hole. There is evidence of fire damage.
Doc turns around to see the host follow him down the ramp. The Host explains. "We are now in the main hanger of the 'Dee-lee,' the Younger Brother Pear. The vehicle you arrived in is the 'Pu,' which means 'popular, everywhere, or universal.' It is a Subluminal Hypersonic Interorbital Transatmospheric Shuttle, Whiskey class. To your right is a Personal Interstation Short-range Shuttle which Dr. Ritenrong has recently purchased. Unfortunately he did not have it inspected before buying it, and it suffered a rather significant plasma conduit failure just before docking."
The Host leads Doc past the busted shuttle through an automatic sliding door just to the right of the central column. They enter into a florescent-lit hallway with ugly, mottled-teal carpeting and cream colored walls. It's the kind of color scheme designed to induce a business-like sense of relaxation that tends to have the opposite effect.
As the Host leads on, he continues to explain. "The Younger Brother Pear, including myself and the rest of the android staff, were purchased by Dr. Ritenrong from The University of Berkley - Shanghai Campus's College of Astrophilosophy. Their department's budget was canceled when it was learned that instead of working on their graduate theses, the students were using the ship to illegally transport, sell, and ingest illicit substances without giving the dean a cut. Thus the ship was auctioned off to recoup some of the legal fees and money lost to blackmail."
The comfortably wide hallway is also semicircular, carving a path through the spherical ship around the central column. They pass a door on the left on which someone has hastily written "Conference Room" in permanent marker beneath the Chinese lettering. At the apex of the half-circular hallway, across from a similarly marked door naming the Bridge, is a rounded protrusion from the central column. It has been labeled "Elvator," (sic). The elevator door rotates open as the two approach. The Host leads Doc inside.
"Deck Two," the Host tells the elevator. The door rotates shut. The sound of rushing air can be heard, but no mechanical noise or sense of motion. "Deck one is the observation deck, deck two is living quarters, deck three is labs and offices, deck four is the bridge and main hanger, deck five is central engineering, and deck six is the main cargo bay. Dr. Ritenrong has asked that you remain on decks three and above for the time being."
The elevator door rotates open again after a brief moment. Outside the elevator is another ugly hallway, this time squared on the elevator side. Across the hall, on the outer, rounded edge, is a room marked Commons in a manner similar to the previous doors. The hallway continues to the left and right.
"This is the recreation room. It has some basic exercise equipment, holobooths, and a theater screen with an extensive library of classic films." He continues to escort Doc down the hallway to the left. They pass another door on the right. "These are Dr. Ritenrong's quarters. Your's are the next on the right."
The inner wall of the hallway becomes circular again, and a large opening in the wall reveals a large dining hall in the center of the ship. They stop at the next door, which automatically slides open. "These are your quarters," says the Host. "Across from you, as you can see, is the galley. The Chef has been programmed to prepare some of the popular dishes of your era. We are well stocked with a variety of foods from many different times and cultures. The Chef can prepare most anything you desire."
They step into the small apartment. The room's lighting is florescent, but soft and comfortable instead of bright and jarring as in the rest of the ship. It is a one room studio, slightly rounded following the curvature of the ship. It has eggshell walls and beige carpet with the familiar dark splotches of irreparable bong stains. The ceiling is rounded and becomes the far wall before meeting the floor. There are two airline-style portal windows on that wall, both with shutters closed. A simple bed, essentially a mattress on a wooden platform and covered in blue linens, is nestled beneath the curvature of the ceiling-wall, the head against the wall to the left and a nightstand next to it. To the right is a closet and a rounded door, opened, revealing a bathroom within. Between the bathroom door and the foot of the bed is a burgundy pleather reading chair and a small, round, stainless steel coffee table. Across from that, on the inner wall next to the door, is a flat viewing screen currently displaying a bamboo forest being gently rustled by a breeze.
There is an olive-drab duffle bag on the bed with a note resting on it.
The Host continues. "Lights and temperature are all voice activated, as are the all the ship's computer systems. The door is bio-sensor locked and will only respond to your presence unless you specify otherwise. I recommend you acquaint yourself with the ship's computer. If you need anything, you may contact me or the housekeeping staff through the intercom. You are free to roam the ship, although as I said I must ask you to remain on decks three and above.
"Dr. Ritenrong also asked me to inform you that our other guest, a Germanic gentleman by the name of Thunderhorse, is having some difficulty adapting to his new surroundings. He asks that if you are feeling up to it, you may want to introduce yourself and help him to relax. He is from a technologically backwards sector. I have found him to be quite a challenging guest to accommodate. He believes me to be some kind of theological abhoration. Please be wary, though, his temperament can be somewhat violent." The Host pauses as if listening to something far off and inaudible. He continues. "I believe you will find him in the galley, sedating himself. Now if you will please excuse me, I must attend to other parts of the ship. Dr. Ritenrong is expected to arrive later this evening, and he will be able to explain more than I. Again, welcome aboard," he says, bowing. He turns promptly and exits the room, the door sliding shut behind him.
Doc sets his drink down and relaxes his hand from the switchblade in his pocket. He examines the parcel on the bed. The note on the duffel bag reads:
"Dr. Shaw: A few things from your era to make you more at home -Steven."
The duffel bag contains 100' of nylon rope, a folded canvas, some retractable aluminum poles, a small bag of tent-stakes, a canteen, a cheap looking multi-tool with pliers and a collapsible fishing rod, an Urkel coffee cup, a fifth of Johnny Walker Red from 2016, a box of Twinkies (expired in 1957), a bag of Mail Pouch tobacco, a copy of Mad magazine (featuring a spoof of Raiders of the Lost Ark), and the Colt .44 from his office desk, still in its holster (aged somewhat, but otherwise undamaged and recognizable as his own) with a box of 50 rounds.
Doc gets to his feet, pocketing the I-Browse while doing so. He discreetly feels for his switchblade, which is still in his pocket with the keys to his Jeep. He begins to really wish he had grabbed the Colt revolver out of his desk before opening the crate this morning, but it is a rare occasion that requires firearms when checking the mail.
As he approaches the strange waiter, he reads the labels on some of the crates. There is a multitude from different places and eras, some identifiable. Most of the labels are in Chinese, a few are in German (he recognizes one labeled "Münchien" as being from Munich, Germany). One wooden barrel immediately nearby he recognizes as being a 17th century rum barrel used on transatlantic naval vessels, in remarkably good condition. Most of the alloy containers either have bar codes or a small light indicating the presence of some kind of radio tracking device. A few have markings he does not recognize. He also spots a small palette of what appear to be missiles.
The robot waits with a sort of distracted patience as Doc makes his way through the cargo. The thing looks almost perfectly human, except for being exceptionally perfect. Its skin looks alive yet plastic, like an overly airbrushed magazine model come to life. His hair is slicked back, dark as oil and not a strand out of place. His mustache is symetrically curled in a golden spiral only a nautilus could reproduce, perfectly offsetting his bold, sharpened features. He is of dignified proportions; tall but not dominating, slender but not slight. There is not a mark or mar on either his clothes or his person.
Doc accepts the martini. "Thank you. May I have the towel? I'm a messy drinker."
"Certainly, sir," the waiter hands it over. His accent is English, his voice is deep and relaxing, but not too much so.
Doc gives the martini a taste. It is perfect. "Who are you?" he asks of the strange being.
"I am the Host, sir. I am ship's butler. I'm in charge of the kitchens and housekeeping," replies the Host. Before Doc can ask another question, he continues. "I am an android, sir. 6th generation, service model operating version 12, designed and manufactured by Microsoft-Honda."
Doc begins to ask another question, and again it is anticipated by the Host. "Welcome to the Younger Brother Pear, a Multidimensional Astral Research Vessel, series One, November class. Dr. Ritenrong apologizes for being unable to welcome you aboard personally, however he is currently away on business. He will return shortly. I trust you were conscious when his holo-mail played, if not i suggest you review it. I have not been given enough information to instruct, sir. I have only been asked to escort you to your quarters. If you please," he gestures for Doc to proceed through the bulkhead door.
As the bright, ghostlike apparition of Dr. Steven Ritenrong fades and the surrounding darkness slowly transforms into the dull glow of florescent lighting, Lucas "Doc" Shaw begins to realize he's not in in the Smithsonian anymore. The room is white and somewhat long, yet narrow, like the inside of a truck trailer, only larger and with rounded, almost cylindrical sides. There are several crates and boxes of a wide variety, from archaic wooden barrels to rather technical looking alloy storage containers.
Doc is sitting amongst the wreckage of a wooden shipping crate and its styrofoam peanuts, similar to one that he had opened just moments ago back at the Smithsonian. The create he received this morning, one of many that are regularly shipped to him, contained a peculiar artifact; a small, decorative marble Urn with a Nazi Swastika on it. He didn't know who sent it, but Doc remembers looking it over.
Inside the urn was nothing. A strange kind of infinite nothing, which Doc now distinctly remembers falling into. The sensation was familiar. He had been on many wormhole trips before, but this one had taken him completely by surprise. At the Smithsonian, the wormhole generators and equipment took up most of a 50,000 square foot warehouse. He had never dreamed one could fit in a two-foot decorative urn. This is also, obviously, the future. Time travel technology of his era cannot go forward in time. This is something weird indeed, as the most current wormhole theory he is aware of completely precludes this possibility.
Now, he is here, amongst the crates and broken shards of marble in some sort of shipping container with florescent lighting, and some very technical-looking controls and devices. Along the ceiling is a long even crack which seems to be mechanically sealed, as if the container he is in is opened from above. At either end of the container are naval-style bulkhead doors with glowing electronic control panels.
Lying next to him, apparently having fallen out of the container with him, is a small device much like an iPhone, with a display screen and some simple controls. It is labeled 'Q-Net I-Browse' and is currently displaying poorly written inspirational haikus:
Pleased to be relaxed,
Now is not the time for panic.
Why not have some Tea?
which gently fades out, and is soon followed by:
Q-Mart now offers
Shiny Day Happy Tea Brew
The bulkhead door at the far end of the room unlatches and swings open with a brief hiss. In steps a well dressed robotic gentleman. He is obviously a robot, although Doc cannot pinpoint the exact reason. He (it?) looks extremely human, but perhaps too much so. He is fair skinned with dark hair and a precisely curled mustache; but there's just something too perfect and precise about his features and movements, like a living computer rendering of a human, straight from the floor of the Uncanny Valley.
"Good evening, sir," he says in a deep, perfectly timbered and accented voice, a perfectly white towel draped off his perfectly tuxedoed arm, held perfectly before him. The other arm offers a perfectly clear martini on a perfectly clean silver tray. "I hope your journey was not too unpleasant. If you will please follow me, I will escort you to your room."
Please post reactions, dialog, and game actions as comments to this entry.
Name: Lucas “Doc” Shaw
Occupation: Combat Medic, Historian
Origin: Licking County, Ohio, Earth
Era: 2098 CE
Lucas Shaw was Born in rural central Ohio, and attended public school. He served four years in Army National Guard as a medic, then used the G.I. bill to attend college where he excelled at history and earned a doctorate (hence the nickname of Doc). Because of his military background, he was recruited to work for the Smithsonian at the advent of time travel research; a dangerous new era for archeology and historical research. He quickly rose through the ranks, as most of his superiors were eliminated in various time travel pursuits that proved to be quite deadly. He is considered one of the great pioneers of time travel, and is an obvious choice as an Operative.
Level 4 XP: 7569 Next: 10000 Skill: 0
Str: 10 (+0) HP: 24/24
Dex: 14 (+2) Chi: 17/17
Con: 13 (+1) Ref: 2(4/6) Fort: 2(3) Will: 2(5)
Int: 17 (+3) Atk: 2 Melee: 2 Ranged: 4(5)
Wis: 16 (+3) Def: 10 Dodge: +2 Armor: +3(+4/+6 vs. Particles)
Cha: 18 (+4) Init: 0 (+2/+4) Move: 5
Languages: German, Russian, Latin, Japanese
Firearms, Advanced Firearms
World History 12 (+15)
Research 4 (+7)
Survival 4 (+7)
Treat Injury 12 (+15)
Acting 5 (+9)
Bluff 5 (+9)
Sense Motive 4 (+7)
Glasses: Combat Awareness (not flat footed before first combat action)
Glasses: Basic Targeting (firearms +1)
Doc's 2008 Jeep Wrangler:
Although extremely antique, it is a functional vehicle. Most of its wear and tear is due to its age rather than use. It sat in a museum warehouse for about 70 years and was well maintained by its original owner. It then sat on the YBP for three hundred sixty years but the engine was rebuilt and maintained by Veronica Autopilot through that time.