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Gus "Gramps" Amante

"Where'd I put that wrench..."

0 · 247 views · located in The Far Future

a character in “The Sky Calls”, as played by blackrider

Description

Name: “As a cryin babe I was named Gustavo Amante. But don't call me that, call me Gus.”

Nicknames: “Lotta the young guys around the bar call me Gramps.”

Age: “How old? You know it's rude to ask an old timer like me their age. But if you really have to know I just had my hundred and twenty fifth birthday a month ago. I'm still spry for my age though!”

Gender: “I better be a man, cant imagine a woman cursed with a mug like mine.”

Sexual Orientation: “Once upon a time I was quite the ladies man.”

Birth time & place: “I was born in a small log cabin in...oh wait, that's not right. I was born and raised on a tiny farming community in Mars in the year 2447. Good times.”

Residence at the time of contract: “Took me about a hundred years but I finally made my way back home to Mars. Wound up building a home/bar in a cozy little mining town called Elsewhere.”

Family/Friends left behind: “I was born the youngest in a family of five. I'll just say you don't get to be the youngest and live to be my age without having to dig your fair share of graves along the way. Anyways...As for close friends? Yeah, I got my fair share of those. Got more old army buddies then I can think of but I never see them anymore. No, mosta my “friends” these days are just the regulars at my bar who I get along with.

There's this one local girl named Alice who's a regular customer, she's a real sweet young thing really but tough as nails too. But then again you don't grow up in Elsewhere and not get a little blood on your knuckles eventually. But yeah, she's real nice to an old geezer like me-brings me home cooked meals every now an then...and she's just always got that smile, ya know? Anywho I got the girl tendin the bar for me while I'm away, can't think of leavin the old place in better hands.”

Physical Description: “In a nutshell I look like the definition of Adonis. No, really I do. Honest! Ah, OK, Fine...maybe I've aged a little poorly. But come on! Let's see how you look at my age! But you want a real description do you? Fine...lemme just go get in front of a mirror and-ugh, I look fuckin rough. You want me to describe myself like I'm talking to a blind person? Well...that's weird, but anything to get into space. So here goes.

I guess I'll start with my hair-er, my lack of hair I should say. There's none of it on my head, once that shit started fallen out I was quick to razor blade it all off. Now my wrinkly ass head is exposed for the whole world to see, which is normally the reason you see me wearin a hat or somethin. An speakin of wrinkles, my God. Just look at all of them...Oh yeah, you cant. I mean, I know I was never the most handsome guy, kinda had just a plain ovalish face with no real memorably “ugly” features-aside from maybe from my permanently crooked nose. But now my face is so wrinkled and old I look like that damn droopy faced dog from the old cartoons, hell my skin even looks like old paper. You know, how it gets all yellowy and smells funky...hope I don't smell funky...

Oh! Anyways. Most of my face is actually hidden behind this big old gray bushy beard that covers the entirety of my cheeks. I just couldn't bring myself to shave it. Another horrible thing about getting old is how you start to shrink, only you don't shrink-you hunch. And I gotta admit I got a slightly noticeable hunch forward goin on-but that's old age for ya. And yeah, I know your thinking “Hey hows an old man like this gonna get through space?!” Well stop thinking that! Its called servo technology and its been around for like, I dunno, 2-3 hundred years. Basically in my old age (and while I still had that sweet army medical plan) I got fitted for a mechanical exoskeleton. It doesn't give me super strength or anything crazy but it helps me keep up with the youngins, its real state of the art stuff and without it I hate to admit I'd probably be confined to my home/shop.”
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Area of Expertise: “I hate to toot my own horn you don't spend 80+ plus years as an Army Engineer and not learn a thing or two.”

Secondary Skill: “You don't want me on the ship for my countless years of experience as an engineer. You want me on the ship because I'm the best damn amateur chef on this side of the Great Red Rocks of Mars! I'm also a half decent shot with my plasma pistol.”

Personality: “Well I'm sure it depends on who you ask. If your asking me I'd say I'm a bit cooky, the type that can take just about any kind of joke without breakin my stride. I like pranks and in general im just a real laid back person. I'm just as happy cuttin the shit with some buddies over a game of cards as I am alone in some awkward angle inside the inner workings of a ship-trying to hunt down that one odd noise in the engine. I like to think of myself as a peoples person, I'm pretty open minded so it takes quite a bit to offend me. I'll admit I can hold a grudge if I feel wronged but I'm never the first to openly start a fight.”

Bio: “Honestly if you ask me my life has been extraordinarily boring. As I'm sure everybody knows the terraforming of Mars had not only been extremely successful but the planet itself had turned out to be a paradise of sorts for all sorts of agricultural. I just so happened to be “lucky” enough to be born into one of the countless families that continued to farm there, my family in particular grew corn over a couple hundred acres. With the behemoth sized farm equipment we used it only took a small handful of us to run the place. By the time I was eighteen I had about as much as I could handle of the farm life, and with my two brothers somehow crazy enough to stay and run the farm with my father I had no guilt when I enlisted in the armed forces-about the only way people like me ever even hoped to see another planet. I'm glad my brothers could find happiness on that same land we grew up on but me? I'd just always wanted something else, something I still haven't really found.

So I enlisted and after boot camp and a few placement tests I was placed into the Engineer Corps, which turned out to be a perfect fit for me. Turns out all those years constantly maintaining and repairing advanced farm equipment had turned out to be slightly useful. I became complacent pretty quickly in the army. I mean whats there to hate about a paycheck, free meals, a bed, and the occasional glimpse of space-which was totally the best part of the job. So yeah over the years I made a lot of friends, worked on a lot of good ships, and slowly let my bank account build up while I lived off the good ol government.

Eventually they said I was so good at what I did they wanted me to teach the next generation, so somehow I found myself at the esteemed North Star Academy located in one of the sprawling cities on Venus. Most of the kids I wound up teachin were so new to practical mechanics my time was often spent explaining things as simple as the difference between self-sealing stem bolts and reverse-ratcheting routers. It was hell. I missed that silent hum of being on a ship with everything running correctly, sadly the closest I could get to space was a telescope or the cheap imitations in the holo-decks.

So I did that for I don't know how many years until one day the army was just like “Hey Gus your so old its time to retire. Like, you don't have a choice anymore.” And I was only a hundred and five! Buncha ingrates. So with a surprisingly fat bank account I retired to one of those small fancy resort moons, you know the “Live out your life in luxury.” type. Was only there two years before all the pampering and old people made me totally hate the place. So off again I went, somehow finding my way back to Mars. Long story short I finally found a town I somewhat liked, settled down, and ran an honest business of getting hard workers shit faced drunk after a long on the job. It's a tough gig but somebodies gotta do it.”

Luxury Items: “Can't leave home without my lucky Kiss the Cook apron...what else here, hm. Well there's Old Betsy, my ancient army pistol-Betsy's a real sleek lookin stub nosed Plasma Pistol. She may be slow to reload on accounta I gotta empty and replace all six plasma cartridges by hand, but she's a fuckin beast when fired. She kinda resembles a massive old world revolver and alotta the army boys like to call her a hand cannon. That's about all this old Geezer can think of honestly...Oh, cant forget my pills either!”
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So begins...

Gus "Gramps" Amante's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Caintry Osborne Character Portrait: Ferron Robert Kholl Character Portrait: Kerwyn J. Argyle Character Portrait: Gus "Gramps" Amante Character Portrait: Perrin Phifer Character Portrait: Deirdre Molle Sheely Character Portrait: Saeed Ray Character Portrait: Alderich Farhenhorst
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Episode 1.1: The Pilot

Title: Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained


April 25th
Two days from launch
Kansas, United States, Earth
Kerwyn leaned against the pickup truck, holding a bottled water in his hand. Sweat poured down his brow from the hot, Western Kansas sun. He wiped at the rivulets with his forearm as a cool breeze ruffled the fields of wheat and caressed his skin. Taking a heavy drink from the bottle, he looked to the sky.

Up there The Precipice was docked at UCF Station 229 undergoing maintenance checks before the launch in the coming days. He smiled, wondering what sort of shenanigans the military could be up to. Kerwyn half expected to find bugs and cameras added all over tghe ship. The military would be in for a surprise once they scanned the ship by every inch and dumped all surveillance after takeoff. Hell, we have to lug one of them around with us anyway, he thought, draining the rest of the bottle with his lips.

Ernest and the boys were throwing the last of the hay bales. Being the captain of a soon to be starship, one of the first non-military vessels to launch into unknown space, one could think of many things to do before leaving Earth. Honest work seemed as good as any other choice. His phone and email had blown up with media calls. They wanted interviews, pictures, and he had major publications trying to sign him to book rights. Hollywood had not contacted him yet, he figured they would wait until the return trip to try to lock something up.

If The Precipice ever returned that is.

The media attention was not helped when it was learned that Perrin Phifer was the liason for the military aboard their ship. A former Cosmic Marine, the man was the League of Sovreignties' little tin angel, after revealing the disturbing treatment allowed at Blackwell, the solar system's maximum security prison for military prisoners.

Another hour or so of being a farm hand and he was off to dinner with a few kids and two ex-wives. Maybe they could hold off on any cat fighting since he was experiencing one of his last nights on Earth for a long time. Tossing the bottle into the back of the truck, he wiped wet hands on his jeans and rejoined the boys.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

UCF Station 229
Perrin, already aboard The Precipice, was walking with the maintenance crew as they checked the interior of the ship. Space Monkeys were flying out in the zero g inspecting the hull and outer surface, but he had no interest in that. The bowels of this ship would be his home for the foreseeable future. He was committing it all to memory.

Once in the captain's quarters, one of the crewmen approached the HUD where one could overlook the status of all systems and pull video feed. Taking out a small object, he started to feel around the surface of the rostrum it was inlaid upon.

"What are you doing?"

The crewman turned around, "Orders were to bug this place up."

The liaison sighed. "The ship has to send routine messages back. There are mandatory communications policies in place. Plus, I'm literally a damn spy that is out in the open. These are rather, unnecessary."

"But my orders-" Perrin's eyebrows went up slightly and he raised his hand, palm out.

"I'm counter-ordering you. Take any other bugs out that were already in place." A hearty, feminine laugh sounded from behind them.

The crewman and Perrin stood at attention, saluting the woman who walked in. If it were as simple as only being on Earth, one would say she looked Spanish. This female has never set foot on that planet, preferring to hover above it or going back home to Venus.

"At ease gentlemen." The crewman went back to work.

"Admiral Fierro, I was told to meet you at 1800." That was still thirty-nine minutes from now.

She smiled, "How could I miss my chance to hop aboard and take a look? Good call on those bugs anyway, it would be bad press if word leaked out just how far the Imperator was going to monitor everything." Fierro should know, as the Press Secretary for the LoS military forces. Not the personal Imperator's secretary, that was reserved for the weak-chinned Dante Faltus.

The crewmen left the room to continue their inspection.

"To what do I owe the pleasure of this early meeting?" There was a twinkle in his eye as he said it.

Her brow arched, "Imperator Snow is coming to the station tonight. It is hush-hush, other than us, the people aboard the Imperator's ship might be the only ones who know. He'll be aboard for a day or two, to see the crew of The Precipice off on their journey." It was Perrin's turn to smile.

"No doubt the idea of someone with a smart mind for public reaction? No doubt Faltus came up with it." She turned and hit the manual lock on the Captain's quarters.

"So, you'd rank Faltus over me on that then?"

Perrin put his hand to his chin in mock thought and Fierro slugged him in the shoulder, throwing him to the bed. She climbed atop and straddled him, pulling the pin out of her hair. Black tendrils flowed down toward him.

"Well, you almost hit as hard as him at least."

Her cheeks reddened and she lightly smacked him across the face, then their lips met. The Captain would not be the first to use this bed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Captain Argyle's Home - KS, US, Earth
Kerwyn had been making the rounds, calling all of the crew members on their personal devices to check in on them. Once they were far enough out, the items would be useless. Growing accustomed to having all your friends and families at beck and call, it was one of the many small luxuries one had to give up for interstellar travel. This was all done from the cozy study in his three level home set three levels down in his home, underground. Everything was digital hundreds of years ago, but books lined the walls. Encyclopedia Brittanica, a full collection, once a wealth of knowledge. Now it served as hardly a paperweight for humanity.
Progress was a fickle mistress. One that his crew needed to straddle.

The pilot, Deirdre, with her multicolor hair was an exciting thing to look at through the vid-com. She brought a certain wildness that he wanted to have out in the field. One would think with hundreds of years of progress in the social structure that men and women would finally be equal, but there were still whispers of some not liking a woman pilot. They could go straight to Hell for all Kerwyn cared.

An engineer, the old man who went by Gramps, was equally as fascinating but in a different way. Kerwyn did not know the man personally but he was a wealth of knowledge, structurally and in cooking. It was a risk to take on an elderly crew member, but the whole voyage was a risk anyway. The gent had stories for days.

Osborne had a brilliant mind, playing perhaps the most important role at all. One of the men to ask the questions, and seek the answers. There would be several situations where Kerwyn would have to bow out to the man's call.

Saeed, another Earther, was the decorated doctor for their voyage. He brought scientific knowledge with him too. Plenty of qualified medical applications were received, Mr. Ray made it to the top, a short few that Kerwyn met with. He couldn't help but feel in kindred spirit in the desire for exploration.

Farhenhorst . . . Alderich was a smart man and friend. He could easily cause friction with others. At times, Kerwyn could be a little too supportive. It always paid to have someone who was never afraid to crack the whip, even too quickly at times. Alderich and Kerwyn were a balancing act of command styles. It helped that the Farhenhorst's were investors in the ship and that Alderich's father knew Kerwyn's father, working together side by side in advancing ship technology.

So many others, and some left to call. Three of the crew were unnoficially designated as security. A small ship, but not of strict military command, there had to be an action plan in place if there was a threat from the inside. The Precipice even housed a small, two-celled brig. Aeron Christie, a woman to rival all the men at six-foot-four, was the first of them. She had gone to college with Kerwyn and was quite possibly his best friend. Being quite hilarious helped make him want to keep her around. There was also Wei-Chin Ho, who other than serving as Kerwyn's personal bodyguard, happened to be a combat medic who had served three tours.

Both were known quantities. A risk had been taken with Ferron Robert Kholl. He was a highly decorated policeman from Mars, and would quite literaly stand equal to Aeron in height. The Captain had met him while visiting a cousin on Mars as the men were in the force together. He seemed to have a brilliant mind for strategy, tactics, and planning. That wasn't even touching the surface of what he could do in action. Kerwyn never lied to himself, he was capable of commanding any situation, but he needed a sharp mind when they finally faced a threat of some sort. When and not if was his mantra. There had to be life out there.
This all went through his mind, sitting at his study. Way too much thinking going on, he had to clear his head for the family dinner. Sighing, he stood up and took one last look at his study. Then he made way for his wardrobe.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

UCF Station 229
Perrin checked his uniform a third time, ensuring all buttons and insignia were properly aligned. After finishing up a video for the media with Fierro, she had checked him over. When one was about to be face to face with the highest ranking human in the whole of the universe, a good impression was desirable. He waited for his entry from a grey, metal corridor. The station soldiers had already patted him down three times before bringing him to the door.

The door slid open again and a beast of a man climbed out, nearly too big for the door with his massive build. His skin was a dark mahogany, face clean-shaven. It was Darrick Bronx, one of the famed Cosmic Guard.

"Spread'em." Perrin didn't question, widening his stand and bringing his arms out. The guard roughly patted him down, grunting approval, then waved him inside.

The Imperator slouched slightly at a large table with holographic images springing up from it; the Earth's Solar System, fingertips touching in front of his face. He briefly glanced up to see Perrin salute. Bronx joined three other Guardsmen by the Imperator.
"Sit, please." Imperator Snow waved toward Fierro.

Snow reached out, grabbing the holograph, pulling the Earth toward him.

"We all come from this planet, spreading outward. Soon we will look to spread again. Colonies aren't overpopulating, but the bigger the League, the more money we generate. A universe for the reaping." He flicked the Earth back across the table to its starting point.

"Yes sir." Perrin said. Fierro was silent.

"Be candid here, no military formalities. How do you feel about being attached to a non-military vessel?"

"It's an honor sir."

"You were chosen for a reason. This whole Free Sky Initiative, its no secret we wanted nothing of it. The military is a well-oiled machine. Once we have private citizens flying out there enmass, who knows what sort of chaos we'll run in to."

Perrin nodded.

"You are my eyes and ears. Captain Argyle chose a system we had coined 'Excalibur' to travel to, a M3V Red Dwarf sun with six planets. All unexplored, five of them possibly nothing to write home about."

"And the sixth sir?"

Snow smiled. "The sixth showed promising signs of an initial scan. Lush land. In a separate system nearby, we found the remnants of a crashed ship. Not of human origin."

Perrin's poker face broke as his forehead wrinkled. Snow, cool as the name seemed, stared him down without a blink. "Yes. Very important. Argyle has unwittingly placed his crew in the vicinity of where we may discover more signs of intelligent life. Anything that is found must be reported, per the contract. Lets eat and talk more." Snow waved to someone as the hologram disappeared, replaced by countless dishes as the Guard took seats at the table.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Caintry Osborne Character Portrait: Ferron Robert Kholl Character Portrait: Kerwyn J. Argyle Character Portrait: Gus "Gramps" Amante Character Portrait: Perrin Phifer Character Portrait: Saeed Ray Character Portrait: Alderich Farhenhorst
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Caintry had already driven all the way down from Massachusetts to the Orbital Ferry Docking in Virginia, a long but not too terrible drive, and he was already so eager to make his way to the ship and be acquainted with the “crew”. However, by social science it really would not matter meeting the people, for who you are going to be friends with in such a confined area is already set, even if not in stone. The crew, or staff really, would most likely follow the cliches from cheesy teen movies from the 21st century in some sort of fashion; the most intellectuals will flock with their fellow scholars, the brutes with the brutes, and the ship-savvy ones likewise with conflicts in between the three. On the thought, Caintry only wished that he was right and the other option became was wrong where the groups would fall into a more political sense, but Caintry was seldom wrong. Saying that, when he was wrong he could admit it, unlike the brutes that clung to the original embedment as if it was a trench in a war, but that is thought for a different time. They were all leaving now.

Caintry, being on the beach staring out at the bright Atlantic, was stuck on the thought that none of this would be the same when he returned, and the fact that no one he knew would still be alive unless they were a baby. Even then, the baby would be old and wrinkly as she was in her twilight years, and Caintry would have hardly aged a full year. All of this is because the theory of relativity and how time acts in space, it seeming like a month to him on a certain planet but it really being several years or decades on Earth, and he wish that he would be like the brutes who did not know this and his heart wrenched for the people who had left family behind, statistically one would. Caintry imagined leaving your loving wife and babe for a time that seemed like merely thirty years or less to him, but then forced himself to imagine his homecoming to a grave and a senior lady, the tombstone reading his wife’s name and the old lady being his babe. Even if one sent messages every five seconds from the ship to keep contact, the effects would be disheartening at best. They would first receive a message every five seconds as expected, but then the farther you moved away the space between messages would grow to ten minutes, thirty minutes, an hour, ten hours, a day, year, decade. Eventually, you would return home before your messages do.

Caintry knew that the brutes do not know to what extent, but he liked to think that they knew that everything would change in some way when they return.

Off the beach, on the sandy side walk, was his friend from college that he made the ride with, and he made a motion to hurry. Sighing as he took in the few of endless water, he finally rose to make the final stretch of the trip and the final goodbye to his companion, possibly the closest he had in college and they were not even that close, but they had one binding bond. Prometheus. The legend that is thought to be one man, fighting the tyrant on a passive-terrorist level, and it hurt Caintry that he would have to leave the group, his comrades, at all. The friend was Jon Tune, a funny name fitted for a humorous friend, and he was the charismatic leader of Prometheus. Caintry, being the original brains behind the founding and considered the founding father of the founding fathers of the group, was thought to be a shoo-in for the leader role, but Caintry chose “Ole Tune” for he was such a good speaker and gregarious, also easy to like, that he knew he would hold the group together while the other five would work the genius behind operations and make major decisions. Jon was smart as well and helped with decisions too, but he his happy-go-lucky attitude was how he really got the position.

His bright face and silver-blonde hair were smiling as one it seemed when Caintry approached, apathetic at best, for he was still distraught about the decision. In truth, Caintry has only been graduated a few months, three to be exact, and had spent all his time delving into Prometheus and the independence movement, now over two thirds of Terra for it. He had not even heard of the Precipe’s journey into deep space before he got the offer in the mail, stating that they only took applications but they made an exception, and he immediately accepted. The only people he had told were those five founding fathers, and they all seemed happy for him, saying “You are the one out of the whole Sol system that needs to go; the universe is calling.” They were right, about the calling part at least; he had always felt as the stars were pulling him towards them with in inevitable destiny of their acquaintance

“You ready?” asked Jon in his bubbly charisma, but Caintry only gave a huff.

“It would be my first time in space, and do they not say that some are just not made for it? Ground-bound I believe is what they are referred to,” he replied cooly, a voice almost as a breeze or thin mountain air.

“Not you, Caintry. You know that. If anything you are the opposite, only born for the inbetween, and I would go as far to say you are a celestial body in truth. Meant to be out there with your brethren: the stars, planets, and galaxies. You are meant to drift among them and purely learn for the betterment of our species. It is what you have been meant to do, what you have been drawn to.”

Caintry let it sink in.

“I know I will come back, and I will tell you my stories and my theories. We will share weed,” a lie since he had turned it down many of times,” on a free Terra.” They both felt as if the free part was true, but they knew that they would never see eachother again, time would not permit.

The drive to the launch was quiet, Caintry taking in the world he would leave behind, and at the four seater rocket they said their final goodbye. Jon gave Caintry a grim look, the only grim look he had ever seen him give, and he spoke the words of Prometheus.

E pluribus unum.”

Near ancient words spoken by a nation long abolished, but even now the descendants remembered. The nation lived on through the people and the memory, and it was promised to be revived by the words. A return to the freedom that is stood for, all of Terra, and Caintry would miss it.

But he knew they would succeed one day, and he would see the galaxy as he was always meant to. He said the words back.

E pluribus unum.”

That was their farewell. The small passenger rocket would orbitally swing him to above Kansas where the Precipice would be, and he along the way he would be consumed by wondrous though.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Caintry Osborne Character Portrait: Ferron Robert Kholl Character Portrait: Kerwyn J. Argyle Character Portrait: Gus "Gramps" Amante Character Portrait: Perrin Phifer Character Portrait: Saeed Ray Character Portrait: Alderich Farhenhorst
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Days Before Flight: Two

Gus sat back in the old wooden chair he so often found himself in most nights. It was one of those old style rocking chairs, the rickety thing stained a dark brown with the frame sitting on two large bowed pieces of wood. With each slight press of the foot his seat would go bobbing back only to come rocking back forward with a loud SKuh-weeech echoing into the quite night. Each time the noise was quickly followed by the all to familiar VRRIP sound his servo motors made whenever he moved his legs or feet.

The old man, affectionately referred to as Gramps by most in town, sat there rocking back and forth just staring up at the vast expanse of stars. By the look on his face you could tell he was contemplating the vast mysteries of life and the true meaning of why man was created.

More then likely though he was just drunk off his ass again on piss poor whiskey.

“There you are old man!”

Gramps cocked his head in the direction of the voice and immediately his eyes were greeted with a familiar face. But he already knew who it had been from the mere sound of her voice.

“Oh, hey there Alice.” Gramps said with a nod in her direction and a fatherly twinkle of pride in his eye. He watched as the girl he had seen grow up over the past several years made her way up the three small wooden steps that separated his porch from the red dirt parking lot that stretched out in front of his small bar.

In his whole life he was honestly surprised that one of the most satisfying things he had done was watch this once tiny freckled face child grow into an actual woman. Yet here he was, looking at her like a kid of his own. He was probably just going senile though; at least that's what he thought humorously to himself.

“So what brings you out here this late? Bar's been closed for about an hour.” Gramps asked whiled he continued to rock away in his chair. Suddenly the metallic exoskeleton that encased his arms whizzed to life, his hands retrieving an old cigar box that sat beside his chair. In a matter of moments he had a large freshly lit cigar plopped in his mouth. Closing the cigar box he sat it back down next to his chair on the wooden porch. With one quick gulp he finished off the glass of whiskey he had been idly holding and set the now empty cup atop his cigar box on the floor. Blowing out a large and oddly skunky smelling cloud of smoke he finally turned to Alice, giving her his full attention he noticed that she'd taken a seat in the two person glider chair directly across from him-Gramps really had a thing for rocking furniture.

“Oh, you know.” She said in her casual voice, as if those three words summed up her intent entirely. And oddly enough they had.

“Yeah...I know...” Gramps responded defeated, stopping his rocking for the first time in hours.

“Oh come on you old sour puss, don't be like that. How many years have you been telling me about how you'd do anything to get back up there?” She asked almost mockingly, but Gramps knew the smile on her face was just a mask.

What Alice had said was entirely true though, in fact for the whole twenty three years Alice had been alive Gramps had constantly regaled her with stories of his soldiers days in the vast galaxy (most stories were ridiculously hammed up and over the top, but still.) There was just some unexplainable feeling about being out there, right on the edge of everything-it was an edge Gramps had wanted to take a running jump off of ever since he'd gotten “the itch” as a young cadet.

And the one thing he'd missed the most was the ships. Oh those vast gleaming beautiful behemoths! Just thinking of them brought a warm feeling to his old bones.

And here it was-an opportunity to do exactly what he'd been wanting to for the past twenty odd years. So why was he dragging his feet so much on leaving?

“I know I know!” He said with a humorously over exaggerated hand wave, as if to shoo Alice's comment off. “It's just...well...you got the keys to the bar right?”

“Yep. You got your bags packed?”

“Bag.” Gramps corrected.

“What?” Alice asked, clearly confused.

“Bag. Singular. I only have one.” Gramps elaborated on his former eloquently crafted statement.

“Your going on a God knows how long journey and your only taking one bag?”

Gramps barked out a laugh and then sputtered a cough on his cigar. “Yep. He'll I've actually still got a bit of room left in the old duffle. Guess I'm a light traveler.” Slowly he began to rock back and forth again.

“Well then you shouldn't have trouble fittin this little thing I dug up in your bag.” She spoke like the object was as worthless as an extra pair of dirty socks. While she talked she tossed an extremely light rectangular shaped object towards Gramps. Surprisingly the old man snatched it out of the air with a bit of speed.

Looking at his new gift Gramps couldn't help but be choked up. It was an old picture encased in a cheap plastic frame, yet he was speechless for a moment as he stared into the tiny window of the past. It was a moment frozen in time that Gramps remembered well-he'd had a few less grey hairs in his beard back then and Alice was no bigger then his knee. In the photo Alice sat atop Gramp's shoulders while clutching a giant teddy bear-based on all the lights and people in the background it looked like they were at a fair or amusement park of sorts. They both had giant grins on their faces. Gramps bet that based on the way the picture had been taken rather askew Alice's father had been extremely drunk yet again, somehow the odd angle only added to the charm of the picture.

“Welp, I just wanted to drop by. Couldn't sleep and I knew you wouldn't be able to either. So I thought you might need some company.” Alice finally spoke up, breaking the silence that had suddenly fallen over the two.

“I-” Gramps began only to have his old voice catch like a boy in puberty. He had to swallow a lump in the back of his throat before he could go on. When he spoke up again his voice was back to its usual gruff tone. “I actually think I'm gonna turn in for the night. Gotta be up bright and early to catch my shuttle tomorrow. You still gonna pick me up and gemme a ride?”

“Course. Wouldn't miss it for the world Gramps.” Alice said quickly hopping up, clearly surprised that Gramps was turning in. “Still want me here at seven?”

“Nah make it six, we'll have some of my world famous eggs and bacon before we go. You wont be getting any for awhile so you better get your fill while ya can.” Gramps responded with a grin and a wink before bending down and collecting his cigar box and empty glass. “You better get goin to bed though if you wana be here on time, you need a ride home?”

“Nah, Ill be fine. Road my bike here, its out back. Thanks though. But yeah, ill be here at six. We can talk more about everything then to. Ok?” She asked the last part with an obvious air of hope-clearly she had things she wanted to say to Gramps before he left for his journey on The Precipice. They were both well aware that in reality chances were slim they'd see each other again.

“Sure, sure. Course we can. Now you just get on home safe.” Gramps said while wearing what could only be described as a grandfatherly grin.

“Allright. I'll see you in the mornin Gramps.” Alice said while actually smiling a bit herself, Gramps always seemed to be able to make her smile. Walking down the porch she was just about to disappear around the bar when Gramps called out to her.

“Hey kid?” His voice sounded distant.

“Yeah Gramps?” She asked after stopping mid step, eyeing the old timer with curiosity. It sounded like he was about to say something super important.

“Thanks for the photo.”

“Oh. No problem Gramps.” Alice quickly responded, awaiting for Gramps to say something else. But he just stared at her. After a few awkward moments she cleared her throat uncomfortably. “Well, allright Gramps. Ill see ya tommorow.” With that she turned the corner and moments later Gramps could hear her bike off into the night.

He collapsed back into his rocking chair beneath the weight of his new found crushing guilt. Sitting there in silence for a few moments he simply stared up at the stars, his eyes slightly glossed with tears.` Feeling far older then he ever had Gramps let out a deep sigh before finally picking himself back up out of his chair. He turned to go inside his bar/home which was ironically a small decommissioned freighter he'd retrofitted into a hole in the wall bar-he just couldn't sleep right in a regular home. He made his way inside only to quickly return back outside, a large green military style duffle bag slung over his shoulder.

Twenty minutes later a pair of headlights pierced the darkness of the small stretch of road that the bar sat off of, quickly the vehicle which turned out to be a cab made its way into the parking lot outside of Gramps' home. Making his way down to the Taxi Gramps opened the door and quickly slid in, his usual cheerful demeanor more subdued then was normal.

“So dispatch says your goin to the space port eh? Speakin of space port you hear about that Free Sky shit goin on buddy? Times is a changein buddy, I tell ya. Reminds me of this one time...”

The large burly cab man continued to do the speaking for both of them as they drove off into the night. And Gramps was fine with that. Right now he didn't have much to say.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Caintry Osborne Character Portrait: Ferron Robert Kholl Character Portrait: Kerwyn J. Argyle Character Portrait: Gus "Gramps" Amante Character Portrait: Perrin Phifer Character Portrait: Deirdre Molle Sheely Character Portrait: Saeed Ray Character Portrait: Alderich Farhenhorst
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Two days on board the shuttle to get her to the station where her new ship, the Precipice waited. She didn’t know much about the people she was working with but that was nothing new. Deirdre was the sort of pilot who bounced around from ship to ship.

Follow the money. Naitre lived by this motto.

From the moment she left his ship and employ that was how she lived her life. If she didn’t stay anyplace too long it meant no worrying about getting close to people or bonding with crew.

Deirdre’s biggest concern about this contract was she was going to be with these people for awhile. It meant she had to find someone to get along with and that usually spelt trouble. She really prefered to keep people at arm's length and behind her carefully built wall of sarcasm and bluntness.

She sat in her seat, eyes closed. Perhaps, because the ship would be bigger than the small freighters she was used to it would be easier to hide away and keep to herself.
****
Two days later

The place was a flurry of activity. Shipping containers being moved and people. Everywhere.

Deirdre stood in the background, hoodie on and hood up to hide her hair. She was off to the side, out of the way. She didn’t want to get noticed, not yet. She was intent on watching.

She wanted to see who would come up to the ship, other than those working to stock it or do maintenance. She wanted to get the first glimpse of the crew, before they saw her. She hated being judged by appearance and while she wasn’t looking to draw conclusions about these people she just felt better knowing at little more than she did now.

It was somewhat ridiculous she knew. There would be a fair number of people on board and there was no way she would be able to peg who was actually flying with them and who was just doing things before take off but she told herself watching was better, informative.

She just didn’t want to admit that she was scared, nervous. This was her first true, legit job. She worked freighters that weren’t doing anything illegal but a lot of times what they did was more piracy than legal, her pay was under the table and there was questionable items being moved. Deirdre wasn’t used to something so...mainstream.

One thing she knew for certain, she wanted on that ship. Just standing here she was drawn to it. Her hands itched to get at the controls. Her body was vibrating with excitement at just the thought of the panel, the pilot’s seat and technology it might house.

Deirdre even contemplated sneaking on board now but she didn’t.

She didn’t want to admit it but part of her worried this wasn’t real. That it was a set up and once she set foot on the ship she would be arrested or she’d find out that she wasn’t actually going to be allowed to pilot her or go along on the journey. It seemed almost too good to be true.

For now Deirdre restrained herself and waited. There was enough activity here to keep her distracted.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Caintry Osborne Character Portrait: Ferron Robert Kholl Character Portrait: Kerwyn J. Argyle Character Portrait: Gus "Gramps" Amante Character Portrait: Perrin Phifer Character Portrait: Deirdre Molle Sheely Character Portrait: Alderich Farhenhorst
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Gramps had been aboard the UCF Space Station that housed The Precipice for no more then five minutes before he made a B-line for the ships hangar, his servo motors whizzing away as he weaved his way in and out of crowds of people. He clearly moved like a man who had been on his share of Space Stations-there was a certain dance to finagling your way through the crowds of busy people.

Up until this point he hadn't seen any pictures of The Precipice or even heard what class of starship it was, he'd done this on purpose so he could be extra surprised when he finally got to see his his giant new responsibility. He'd regretted this decision on the shuttle ride here though, the whole two day long journey he'd been unable to think of anything but what the ship would look like. Would it be a new model? One of the old birds he was used to flying on? Who knew, but as he finally set foot on the space station he new he made the right choice in waiting-as he ran off towards The Precipice he genuinely felt like a kid on Christmas morning, a fact that was rather apparent on his wrinkled toothy grinning face.

It hadn't been hard to find The Precipice-all he really had to do was follow the commotion and sea of workers who ran two and fro doing last minute safety checks and bringing supplies aboard. Standing there amongst all the working men Gramps stood out like a sour thumb. Between the faded red Hawaiian styled shirt that he wore unbuttoned exposing a clean white tank top, to the recently bought Turkey Sandwich he still clutched in his right hand Gramps was an odd sight to say the least; it also wasn't helping that he was staring up at the ship in an extremely intense look that would best be described as "longing" by a passerby. His strange look was also complimented by the military issued cargo shorts he wore and tan steel toed boots around his feet-he looked like he'd just gotten back from some strange Militaristic Hawaiian Safari.

He stood there admiring the ship along with the sights and sounds of the space station in general-for some reason he just felt more at ease when surrounded by the infinite silent black death that was space.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Caintry Osborne Character Portrait: Ferron Robert Kholl Character Portrait: Kerwyn J. Argyle Character Portrait: Gus "Gramps" Amante Character Portrait: Deirdre Molle Sheely Character Portrait: Saeed Ray Character Portrait: Alderich Farhenhorst
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The room was spartan, even for a conference area. Sleek, grey walls resembling a shiny gun barrel surrounded the group.

Comfy half-egg chairs were lined up in strict, orderly fashion. The whole crew was together for the first time, including the military liaison who caught side glances from most of the room's inhabitants. Perrin had been there first, cordially greeting everyone as they entered.

There had been short greetings and introductions before everyone took their seat. Captain Argyle walked to the front of the room, activating a hologram that showed their solar system. There was a podium but he ignored it, choosing to stand in front of everyone.

"Welcome to the adventure of a lifetime." A few broke out in applause, unable to contain their excitement.

"Many wondered why the investors and I have put together a ragtag crew. Why not train a team in sync who will run smooth?" Kerwyn made sure to spread his eyes out, letting everyone know he had them of equal importance. His first officer, Alderich, was smiling smugly in the front row. He and Kerwyn knew where they stood, so he wouldn't place much attention on the man.

"Predictability is boring and makes people comfortable. I don't want a crew going in expecting a routine mission. I need a crew that can work on the fly with their skill and adapt quickly. I believe you are the best possible choices."

His eyes stopped on the older crew member, 'Gramps.' "I think you all want this badly too. This is a mission of hope, I have great expectations of where we will go, what we will do. Perhaps we'll go out with a bang like K'Nera Martin, the woman whose courage has brought us to this point, or maybe we will discover something revolutionary. New fuel sources? Beautiful, alien landscapes? Intelligent life?" He paused.

"But I won't drone on forever, I'll let Perrin take over for a second." He motioned with his hand for the military man to come up.

He stood out of his chair, doing his best not to march up to the Captain. Muscle memory was strong in anyone trained to be a marine, so he only half-masked the rigid posture.

"It is my pleasure to meet all of you. I know some are uneasy with having military oversight, I asked the Captain to let me speak to you all at once." He nodded to Kerwyn. "I want to be on this mission as badly as all of you. Yes, I have to report to the military. When we are out there side-by-side, I hope this crew can come to think of me as a part of it, and not an outsider looking in." He stepped away to the side, giving the stage back to Kerwyn.

"I won't drone on forever. Lets get to the point." He pulled a remote out of his breast pocket and flicked it. The hologram zoomed out from the Earth and left the solar system, stretching far throughout space at a breakneck speed. It came to rest on a planet, blues and greens visible from outside its atmosphere. A lone moon orbited it.

"Meet our first planet, not yet named." He couldn't help but break out in a big smile. "Maybe we'll play a game to decide naming rights. This is in a system coined, 'Excalibur.' The military has been in a system near this one, but as promised we are breaking entirely new ground. From the drone imaging, it appears to be a potentially habitable planet, with plenty of water and large land masses. No one knows what awaits us there. We can go over more details in the morning."

He paced, flicking his wrist, spinning the view of the hologram around the whole of the planet.

"There are refreshments in the back." He motioned toward the wall and on cue, sheet metal inlaid into the wall slid out and up, revealing beverages and a small buffet of food. "In a few short minutes we will board The Precipice so everyone can take a look around . . . the launch will be tomorrow." Kerwyn folded his arms behind his back.

"Would anyone like to address the group as a whole?" If not, he was waiting to get his hands on some of the lembas. He could smell the fresh bread from across the room.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Caintry Osborne Character Portrait: Ferron Robert Kholl Character Portrait: Kerwyn J. Argyle Character Portrait: Gus "Gramps" Amante Character Portrait: Perrin Phifer Character Portrait: Deirdre Molle Sheely Character Portrait: Saeed Ray Character Portrait: Alderich Farhenhorst
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#, as written by RCJJ23
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26/04/2572, The Endurance

Ferron walked out of the small motel that he had stayed at for the past few days, in his hands the same briefcase that he had brought with him, and slung over his shoulder was a larger duffel bag that held some extra clothing, extra amenities, like extra toothbrushes and toothpaste and more importantly, some high grade inch thick steel plating, ready to be shaped into armored pieces for his own suit. While the suit was unlikely to be better than the planetary suit that he would likely be issued, it would serve well on its own as a quicker alternative during emergencies and he was unable to get a suit from the armory. He had looked over the plans to the ship, and considering its size, could take some time to traverse.

The reason for his current outing was that he had received a message over his communications unit referred to as comms from now on to head to a nearby conference hall, where he expected to be introduced to the crew that he would be serving with. What followed did not disappoint.

After the brief ten minute walk, he was quickly introduced to the other crew that he would be serving with. After their brief introductions, he sat down, his bags set in front of him, along with the rest of the crew as they listened to Kerwyrn's speech, Ferron noticing Kerwyrn's preference of not standing on the podium, a brief thought of perhaps not wanting to seem above them all, before Kerwyrn waved Perrin to come over. After his speech, and the refreshments waved to appear, Ferron sat for a moment, waiting long enough to give the opportunity to anyone who wanted to speak to them, otherwise heading over to the refreshments to grab some small tidbits to eat and a glass of water to drink, leaving his bags on his seat to collect later.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Caintry Osborne Character Portrait: Ferron Robert Kholl Character Portrait: Kerwyn J. Argyle Character Portrait: Gus "Gramps" Amante Character Portrait: Perrin Phifer Character Portrait: Deirdre Molle Sheely Character Portrait: Saeed Ray Character Portrait: Alderich Farhenhorst
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Deirdre had watched them all arrive. From the older man, who walked around as if in awe yet entirely at home, to the last of those that appeared to be crew, judging by their baggage.

She slunk into the conference room at the tail end, stood at the back and waited. She kept her hood up. Deirdre kept feeling like she didn’t belong and at any moment they would realize it and kick her out.

The captain stood in front of them. Deirdre tried not to think too much on him. She didn’t want to think too long on any of them. That was how people got attached and became friends. Friends were a dangerous business on the docks.

You aren’t on the docks anymore, this isn’t some trashed freighter...

She took a slow, struggling breath in. She was going to have to learn to be on this ship. Her teeth worried her lower lip and she was glad for the hood to hide her face. Her eyes moved around the room. Everyone else looked so...professional. Or at least looked as if they knew they were meant to be here.

She couldn’t help but smile as the captain said predictability was boring.

Okay, so maybe I like him a little now. Deirdre got the feeling that working with him wouldn’t be so bad at all.

The military guy got up and Deirdre tensed a little. Was he going to be the hard assed, strict one who she would grow to hate? As he talked she frowned. He doesn’t seem so bad either.

She was waiting for the catch, the other shoe to drop but it didn’t seem to come.

The captain took the lead once more and showed them the planet they would be checking out. Deirdre leaned forward in her seat, pushing off her hood to give her a full range of vision.

So that was it. That was the run. She smiled.

The captain asked if anyone wanted to addressed the group and Deirdre held in a snort. She wouldn’t even dream of getting up in front of all of these people. What would she even say?

The talk of refreshments, the smell of the food made her painfully aware of how long it had been since she had eaten last. She had been too lost in her thoughts on the shuttle to bother with more than some coffee and a half a sandwich. It didn’t last long across the two days.

Deirdre stood, skirted the edge of the room and then slipped into a crowd of people. She quickly put some things on a plate and got out of there just as fast. She found an empty, egg shaped seat and sat down in it.

Most people looked ready to mingle. She was ready to watch them. Maybe she could figure out who she could talk to, should she attempt such a thing. The idea of trying to make friends filled her with a sense of anxiety and dread.

It will be fine. Just eat and mind your own business. Figure this all out soon enough.

Admittedly she wanted to know the old man’s story. She hadn’t figured them letting an elder gentleman on board a mission like this but there he was. It must mean he had something amazing to add and she couldn’t help but wonder what it was, who he was and what his story was.

Few more bites then maybe I will go talk to him.

Her eyes moved to the captain. She would have to talk to him sooner or later. They would be working together and she, following his orders.

Just a few more minutes. Want to eat while it is hot. It seemed logical though hid her anxiety behind her reasoning.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Caintry Osborne Character Portrait: Ferron Robert Kholl Character Portrait: Kerwyn J. Argyle Character Portrait: Gus "Gramps" Amante Character Portrait: Perrin Phifer Character Portrait: Deirdre Molle Sheely Character Portrait: Saeed Ray Character Portrait: Alderich Farhenhorst
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Gramps stood there for a moment looking at what was in his mind yet another gleaming achievement to mankinds ingenuity. She ran the length of about five hundred and thirty feet and just based on the shear size Gramps guessed shed had about seven or eight decks. Years serving above all sorts of man made ships had given Gramps that useful trait a lot of career soldiers(especially engineers) picked up over time; which was he could sum up a lot about a ship just by looking at them.

He let out a loud sharp whistle at no one in particular as he eyed The Precipice, the way she gleamed ever so slightly made Gramps wonder if she was completely brand new or had just been extremely well takein care of. He bet the former of the two, but you never knew-he was all to aware just how much love and devotion a man could put into a ship. Infact he'd seen more then his fair share of scrap buckets flying through the stars much more enhanced then their manufacturers ever intended.

“Mr. Amante?”

Gramps swung around horrified, his eyes scanning for the large burly bearded farmhand that had been his father. Then he remembered he was Mr. Amante. Duh.

“Please kid, call me Gramps.” The old man said as he quickly gave the person speaking to him a once over. He looked fairly young to Gramps, probably late teens early twenties, and based on the kids clothes he was military. Very very low ranking military. His unblemished skin and gawky frame gave him away as an enlistee fresh out of school who still hadn't quite grown into his body. He'd get there though, Gramps was sure.

The sight of the kid made Gramps grin both inwardly and outwards, a fresh smile genuinely sliding across his face as he gave the Cadet his complete attention. He couldn't help but think of himself over a hundred years ago as a fresh faced cadet, the memory was so long ago and foreign it almost seemed to belong to someone else-the one thing he remembered clear as day though was the fear of failure: wanting, no, needing to prove yourself. Poor kid.

“I've been following you since you got on the Station...you...run a lot faster then I thought you would for an old man, lost you in a crowd about two corridors down the hall. Anyways, I'm supposed to take you to a meeting for all The Ships Officers.” The kid finished nodding towards The Precipice. He spoke like he was sure of what he was talking about so Gramps was inclined to believe him.

“Welp, just lead the way sonny.” Gramps responded kindly, not bothering to question the kid.

He could tell the kid was slightly surprised at the lack of questions but relieved to have Gramps on his way to the meeting. Following the Cadet for a few moments through the station they quickly arrived, the soldier showing Gramps the door but not entering himself-clearly he had more grunt work to do else where.

“Thanks kid.” Gramps said while giving the unnamed cadet a pat on the shoulder, it was one of those really friendly gestures that normally felt forced and awkward when coming from most people but Gramps always seemed to somehow pull it off. It was like he gave off the vibe he always actually cared about the person he was talking with.

The meeting room wasn't much, likely designed by some military minded individual no doubt. But hey, the chairs looked really comfy! And the food he eyed towards the back of the gathering group looked way better then the two dollar turkey sandwich he'd bought on the shuttle ride over. Only Gramps would walk into a highly important meeting wearing an unbottoned Hawaiian shirt and holding a cheap shuttle dinner sandwich. But here he was.

Quickly he'd taken a seat (suspiciously choosing the one closest to the food.) He had to admit it felt pretty good as the egg shaped piece of furniture enveloped him in its comfy embrace. He'd listened to Kerwyns speech as intently as he had the cadet from moments before, even clapping along with the rest of the group here and there.

Unfortunatley midway through Kerwyns speech Gramps had become increasingly hungry from the smells of the table food. He even began unwrapping his sandwich-just a quick bite wouldn't hurt, right?

Then Kerwyn stared right at him and he lost his appetite, he really hoped that the look had been completely unrelated...but who knew? Talk about first impressions.

After Kerwyn finished her turned the floor over to Perrin, clearly a much more military minded man-both consciously and subconsciously Gramps was willing to wager. He didn't hold it against the man though-far from it actually, he could completely relate to him. In Gramp's opinion all the criticisms of the Military just boiled down to ideals andd nine times out of ten the “oppressive government” was just as human as everyone else; flawed and thinking they were in the right. But usually if you sat down with an actual soldier you'd learn they were just doing their jobs, jobs which could run the course of their entire lives like it had for Gramps.

His mind was torn from its wandering opinions as the image of the planet they would be headed to first popped up. Gramps could hardly control himself; the mere thought that they would infact be the very first human beings to journey into this unknown area nearly made him jump out of his servomotors in excitement. This is what he'd been waiting for.

When all was said and done they offered the floor up to anyone wanting to say a few words. Gramps was the last person want to be in the spotlight so he remained quite. Instead he sat at the ready like a lion waiting to pounce as he eyed the table of assorted foods and with the first sign of the group beginning to shuffle to life he was off-his servomotors wizzing him to the front of the line. The whole thing unfolded quietly but rather comedicly to any paying attention.

Returning to the Egg seats clutching a hot plate of food (the contents of which had mostly been chosen based off smell) Gramps made no effort to find his old seat. Instead he picked a seat next to the person clearly doing their best to go unnoticed to the crowd. It was impossible to tell Whether this had been the intentional act of an inherently kind old man trying to help a clearly uncomfortable person or if he was just a man of practicality. Maybe he just wanted to choose the seat closest to him that was open, or perhaps it was the fact that he'd noticed what looked like a rainbow wig and wanted to investigate. The truth was probably mixed somewhere in between all of these.

Regardless of 'why' he sat down like the two were old friends. Effortlessly he began speaking, as if they had lunch together everyday. “So you actually get to take a look at her yet? She sure is something I tell ya, cant wait to get her out there and put her through her paces.” Clearly Gramps had made up his mind that the ship was a woman, a fact he assumed everyone else had come to the same conclusion on.

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Character Portrait: Gus "Gramps" Amante Character Portrait: Deirdre Molle Sheely
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It was almost as if the old man had read her mind, sense her curiousity when he sat down in the chair next to hers. She tensed.

What if he can read minds? Deirdre chided herself for her foolishness but remained tense in her seat. She curled around her plate as if hoping to fade away from his notice into the shadows.

When he gave no pleasantries, made no attempt at introduction Deirdre found herself very pleasantly surprised. This was a man who had no time for such frivolities it seemed. He had more important things on his mind.

She couldn't help the smile that formed as he began talking about the ship. A man after her own heart it seemed but surely not a pilot too?

Deirdre looked up sideways at the man. "I already checked her out from a distance. I can't wait to actually go in, to sit at the controls. She is something, that's for sure. Barely able to stop myself from sneaking aboard while everyone else made nice. I just..."

She looked around. "I am not suited for all the pomp and circumstance I guess. Rather be flying than talking I guess." Deirdre gave a non-commital, half shrug.

She twisted and looked the older man square on. With a slow inhale she put a hand out. "I am Deirdre. I am the pilot"

She waited for him to shake her hand. It seemed to be a thing she should do, being polite and all. "Nice to meet you."

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Character Portrait: Gus "Gramps" Amante Character Portrait: Deirdre Molle Sheely
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Gramps didn't hesitate to shake the young girls hand, humorously doing so while still shoveling the contents of some foreign looking food into his mouth. Clearly he wasn't a man that cared about what most would consider "proper etiquette." He didn't show it while they shook hands but he found himself hopeing, like he normally did, that the sleek metal exoskeleton that trailed the entirety of his arms, hands, and fingers wouldn't freak her out-some people were weird like that. While they shook hands all his servomotors made their familiar WHIiirZzinng sounding noise.

"Pilot, eh?" He stated more then asked, returning her smile after he swallowed whatever it was he was eating. "Pleased to meet you Dierdre, names Gus." He let go of her hand rather quickly-he assumed based on her body language that being among all these people was uncomfortable enough. "Just call me Gramps though, that's what most people inevitably call me anyways. I cant figure out why though." He finished with a light hearted chuckle while running his left hand absent mindedly through his mostly grey beard-a quirk that came out when he met new people.

If this rainbow haired women truly was the pilot then Gus was well aware of how intertwined their two jobs would be. He was pretty sure she hadn't been military, or atleast career military, based on the way she sat, surveyed the crowd, and a few other little tells. Plus rainbow hair wasn't exactly an "approved soldier hair color". But who knew? Hell, once upon a time he'd served two years aboard a ship with a naturally green haired Medical Officer.

"I know what ya mean though." He said, picking the conversation back up in his gruff voice as he nodded in agreement to a question that hadn't been asked. "I myself can't wait to give her a good once over, make sure she's all tip top for ya. Me bein Head of Engineering and all you'd probably have my ass if anything's off." The last statement came out clearly as a joke, the old man grinning between bites of his meal.

"As for the pomp and flare, I wager once were out there things'll setlle down a bit. Got the feeling that Kerwyn is a pretty decent man too, so he'll probly steer us right. Who knows though. Guess that's part of the fun though, the not knowin? Makes the Adventure."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Caintry Osborne Character Portrait: Ferron Robert Kholl Character Portrait: Kerwyn J. Argyle Character Portrait: Gus "Gramps" Amante Character Portrait: Perrin Phifer Character Portrait: Deirdre Molle Sheely Character Portrait: Saeed Ray
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Saeed had stayed with his family for as long as he possibly could, maybe a bit longer than he should have. Luckily he had the money to provide himself with top of the line transportation to the station hovering in orbit over Earth. The ship he was on rocketed forward with a purpose that was motivated by money as Saeed had slipped the driver more than a few credits in order to make sure he made it to the briefing in time. In the meantime, he simply sat in the back surrounded by multiple computer pads filled with information on many different topics. For the most part, they pertained to his profession, notes and documents regarding the human body and procedures. Some new experimental processes were in the works, and Saeed spent a good chunk of his time reading through these to see if they were worth his time and effort to make them work. He would be cut off from most of this information once they headed out into the void, so he had to make sure he could work on the fly with what he already knew.

Some other pads contained news snippets about the upcoming launch of the Precipice, the ship he would be calling home for the foreseeable future. It was a good looking ship, and the media coverage on it was getting to the point of claustrophobia. Saeed was no stranger to the news mongers that called themselves reporters and their cameras. He had gone up in front of them numerous times, when he had worked on high profile clients, or entered a heavily militarized zone on a Doctors without Borders mission. Those were nothing compared to this, everyone wanted to know everything about everybody, and he hoped his family could avoid the ever pressing questions of the needlessly curious.

“Mr. Ray.” The pilot spoke up, breaking Saeed from his trance as he looked towards the cockpit. “We’ll be arriving at the station within five minutes.” Saeed checked his watch, giving a smug face and a nod as he realized how quick the pilot had been.

“You made good time.” Saeed stated.

“It’s easy to take the back channels when the military’s occupied with the launch of the civilian explorer ships sir. I’ll let you know when we’ve docked.” Saeed gave a nod, although the pilot couldn’t see him in his sealed off section. Saeed took one last look around, a small private shuttle with all the amenities of home and possibly his last moment of luxury for quite some time. Lush leather seats, movie projector, mini-bar. He doubted he would have any of these things aboard the Precipice, but that wasn’t a deal breaker for him. He had dealt with worse. He gave a sigh as he started gathering up all the info pads and stacking them together to clean the place up a little. He checked his watch again, he would be cutting it close but hopefully he would get there for the briefing.




Saeed stepped off the shuttle, his hand reached up and straightening his already straight tie in an attempt to calm himself slightly. His nerves hadn’t been this rattled since his final exam in med school. His black suit, red tie, and immaculate hair could fool people around him into thinking he was some kind of ambassador, if it weren’t for the fact that he was carrying a couple bags of luggage himself. Once he got his bearings about him, he managed to push himself forward on what would be the third most exciting moment of his life.

When he walked into the conference room, he saw that he was nearly the last person to arrive, going by the number already getting seated and ready for the briefing. He sorted his way through all the people, getting a look at everyone as he found himself a seat near the front. There was definitely an assortment of personalities here if looks were anything to go from. Military, rainbow hair, old men and intellectuals such as himself. He wouldn’t judge them from their appearance alone, but it was hard to not draw conclusions as to what everyone’s jobs were. Engineers, pilots, security, etc.

He finished setting his luggage down and took a seat to wait for the briefing, his sitting posture rigid and proper out of reflex. The captain of the Precipice, one Kerwyn Argyle if Saeed remembered correctly, started almost the moment Saeed sat down. Cut it a little close this time. Saeed thought to himself as he listened to Kerwyn talk about their mission and goals, along with a bit of motivational bravado for good measure. Saeed didn’t clap with a couple of the others, but he would be lying if he said he wasn’t excited. Instead he played with a ring on his finger, next to his wedding band. A purple metal material with three jade crystal like rocks that he circled around his middle finger. His ‘Narissa’ band if you will, the other three representing his children still sitting in his luggage.

Everything about the briefing was fairly standard, given the situation for which they were being briefed. When the military liaison stepped forward, Saeed didn’t flinch or show any signs of discomfort towards the man. He had dealt with the military before, and in situations like this one as well. Other doctors and non-military members he had worked with in the past called them ‘Squealers’. Tattletales, military reporters, etc. The man went on about how he wanted to be a part of the team, how he was hoping that his military attachments wouldn’t affect the crew as a whole, and Saeed inwardly scoffed. They were going on a mission that, just a few years prior the military had condoned with violent action that resulted in the deaths of many adventuring lives such as the ones currently in this room. People didn’t forget that easily, and while Saeed wasn’t one to hold onto grudges that didn’t even concern him, he wasn’t naive either. This man was going to need to earn his place, more so than most, on this ship.

Once he was done, Kerwyn showed the group their first mission. An unnamed planet in the system of Excalibur. Named after the king maker sword, kind of pretentious but then again this was a major step forward for everyone here. Kerwyn then made a note that there were refreshments and food near the back, and asked if anyone would like to address the group as a whole. Saeed thought about it, maybe it would be a good chance to let everyone know who he was and his role towards them. Might make it easier to get medical information out of them in order to better ascertain the level of care each individual might need. He spared a glance towards the old man with some kind of metallic exoskeleton and grimaced a little on the inside. He would need an engineer not a doctor if something went wrong.

In the end though, Saeed decided against it. He knew he wasn’t the most articulate man when it came to conveying his message to people less educated than himself, and that arrogance was part of his problem. If he got up to speak to the group as a whole, he was afraid he would make himself look like a much larger ass than he thought he was, and so it was better to simply keep it contained to a one on one basis. Saeed stood from his sitting position, approaching Captain Argyle with a confident stride.

“Captain Argyle.” Saeed stated, holding out his hand for a shake. “A pleasure to meet you again.” Saeed wasted no time getting to the point of his approach. “Would it be possible, now that we have most of the preliminaries out of the way, for me to get a hold of the medical records for the crew? It would assist me in getting ahead of the infirmary setup and documentation.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kerwyn J. Argyle Character Portrait: Gus "Gramps" Amante Character Portrait: Deirdre Molle Sheely
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At the crew gathering

The older man took her hand and Deirdre was a tiny bit relieved. This was starting off well. His hands were rough, like a man used to work. She liked that too. He seemed more like her sort of people than most of these suits.

Deirdre couldn't help the chuckle that escaped as Gus, Gramps spoke about not understanding why people called him that. "Gramps, I can manage that."

She eyed him for a moment. "Engineer?"

Deirdre took a bite of her food. She could work with him. This would be okay. He was like, a regular guy.

"Well, Gus..I mean Gramps I look forward to working with you and I promise not to be too much of a hard ass." She laughed lightly.

If anything at least he would be good to joke with, she might even be able to hide out with him while he worked if she wasn't. Save herself the trouble of having to pretend with all the military stuffy types.

Deirdre settled back in her chair a little. "I hope you are right about it settling down. All this is a bit much."

Her eyes moved to where Kerwyn stood. "You think the captain is alright?"

Gramps finished cleaning up his first plate of food as Deirdre asked about the captain. The way the old man had shoveled all the food into his mouth so quickly one would think he was still a Cadette with a time limit on lunch.

Pushing his plate forward slightly as he normally did when he finished a meal he settled back into his comfy seat, his eyes following Dierdre's gaze before coming to a rest on the Captain.

In all honesty Gramps didn't really know anything about Kerwyn-or hell, the rest of the crew either for that matter. He wasn't the type to thouroughly look up his crew mates histories and backgrounds-no, he preferred to judge a man face to face. Secretly he took pride in just how often his “gut feeling” about people turned out to be right, sadly though this confidence in reading people made it hurt twice as hard when he was wrong.

He simply eyed Kerwyn across the room for a moment, his left hand finding its way up to his beard the same way it had moments before when talking to Dierdre.

“It's not like I have any proof, or know the guy. Call it a gut feeling? Like when your flying a ship and go to pull off a maneuver you know you'll make, but at the same time know it shouldn't even be possible to pull off...I know, probably doesn't make any sense.” He finished slightly grumbling to himself, clearly agitated at his lack of articulation.

Deirdre made a small grunting noise. "Makes total sense. All you have when you get far out there is your gut instinct. Either you listen to it or.."

She shook her head. "I have been burnt a few times by not listening to my gut. I know better now." Anger passed over her face.

"So Kerwyn will do right by us or by them." Her chin lifted indicating the more professional looking members of the crowd, the ones there for the name and recognition.

Gold eyes shifted to Gramps. "I get the sense you and I are cut from the same cloth. We have gut instinct for a reason. So Kerwyn going to be pro military and suits or fair to all?" She wanted to believe the captain was in it for the mission, the exploration but he was going to have to play nice for the military. It was the bad part of doing it all above board.

Gramps slowly nodded his head as Dierdre replied to him. though it was more an attempt to show he was listening than to signify he agreed with anything. The way she talked it quickly became apparent that something horrible had happened in the poor girls past-and even worse, by the sounds of it, she blamed herself. He didn't bother saying anything though, just kept on listening: he was well aware that on a subject like that there was nothing to be said; especially from a man who was practically a stranger.

She also clearly had quite the distrust of the military and “suits” in general. Quickly he decided to keep it to himself that his own military career spanned 85+ years. In reality she had a fair point though, even Gramps, who for the most part preferred to give the Government the benefit of the doubt, really had a hard time believing that the military man known as Perrin wasn't really the one running the ship.

“You make a good point, guess there is really only one way to find out for ourselves...” Gramps finished with his usual gruff voice trailing off, a grin growing across his wrinkled face as he began to formulate his mischievous plan.

“Oh Captain, my Captain!” He suddenly lamented in Kerwyns direction, the famous words flowing from his mouth as one hand dramatically extended in the air. His little display started up just as Saeed had finished his introduction to Kerwyn, no doubt catching the attention of both men.

“We saved you a seat, thought all that brass over there might be hurting your eyes.” He called towards Kerwyn. Surprisingly the poorly veiled joke made many of the higher up military men laugh. The three main reasons his joke somehow didn't fall flat were as follows.

1-His old age clearly bought him some lenience with the crowd-clearly a lot of people just expected him to act cooky.

2-Many of the higher ups were well aware of who he was-hell, once upon a time Gramps had even been trusted to train recruits. Again, those that know him or served with him just plain expect him to act a little loopy.

3-The way he said it: His signature care free voice let the possibly offensive joke flow freely with such little effort that many couldn't honestly tell if it was a joke or an insult-and this type of crowd normally laughed so as not to appear stupid, like they believed they knew exactly what Gramps meant.

Gramps couldn't help but let out a chuckle as he noticed the rainbow haired Deirdre visibly tense up. Clearly she hadn't been expecting this impromptu meeting with their new Captain.

Oh crap! What if he comes over and figures out I am not supposed to be here? What if this turns into a big scene? Shit...shit... She sat stiffly in her hair.

Kerwyn chuckled when the older man had called out to him. After Saeed left the room, he walked over to Deidre and Gramps. He took a seat right next to them, casually slumped in the chair. He looked both of them in the eye.

"I've been up to my neck in brass for so damn long I'm beginning to go blind to all else." He laughed again.

"I know some of the crew are concerned with the military presence. Only time will tell how invasive it is," Kerwyn looked over toward Perrin, "But I'm not about to let them ruin this adventure for anyone. I already told them myself, I won't do anything to jeopordize the safety of humanity, but I won't be held back either." Sitting with them at first, he had found it odd that one of the younger and older people were sitting together. A testament to their character.

"Anyone have any particular aspirations on this trip?"

"You mean aside from discovering aliens and naming a planet after myself?" Gramps quickly asked back with a slight laugh at his own joke, although he'd totally be lieing if he said he wasnt going to try and find aliens and name a planet after himself. Kerwyns quick light hearted response (and bad sitting posture) immediatley made Gramps like the Captain more and more.

"Names Gus by the way, or Gramps to you youngins. Chief Engineer. Lookin forward to serving with you, sir." During his last sentence his military background showed through, his body slightly stiffening as he adressed Kerwyn as sir-It was like his body was doing its best to stand at attention despite the fact he wasn't thinking about that at all.

Deirdre found herself speechless as the captain sat down. He was nothing like she expected. He wasn't stuffy or all business. He relaxed in his chair, commented about the military presence and she found her shoulders relaxing a little.

Her eyes moved between the two men. She said nothing at the moment, watching them and trying to find her voice. She felt less out of place here with them than she had so far since her arrival but part of her still wondered if at any point the captain might realize she wasn't supposed to be there.

I earned this spot. I am a damn good pilot. She had her arguments all ready.

Deirdre let the men talk to each other as she tried to get a better gauge of them. Gramps seemed down to Earth. He was a grease monkey when it came down to it and for the fact that he seemed less stuffy than all the rest, she liked him.

Her eyes were on the captain. He was not at all what she had expected. He was handsome, relaxed and less of a stick in the mud than she had prepared for. So far though she wasn't sure how either of them saw her. Between the hair and somewhat withdrawn nature she hadn't exactly endeared herself to them. Course, Gramps had come talked to her so that was something.

Kerwyn thought Deirdre was a bit tense, but Gramps was . . . well, pretty much like a grandpa.

"We're going to go on a tour of the ship after this, but feel free to poke around wherever you want." He realized his friendly demeanor may have been a bit shocking at first.

"This is a crew for a mission, don't get me wrong. I hope by the end it is a family." He leaned in close so only the two at the table could here him.

"Give a wide berth to my buddy Alderich, he's a bit of an ass." With a wink he rose and nodded, off to chat with some others. He paused in case they had any questions.

Deirdre didn't get the chance to introduce herself, didn't get the chance to say anything and she was sort of relieved. She had a habit of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time and pissing people off.

The captain didn't look confused about her presence and that was enough for her.

At least for now.

"Well..." She managed to breathe out after Kerwyn had made his exit. "He is actually more relaxed than I expected. I can live with that." She grinned a little, gold eyes sparkling.

Deirdre looked at Gramps. "Shall we take him up on the offer to poke around her?"

"Only if we can snag one of those bottles on the way out." Gramps quickly replied as he mischievousley eyed the refreshments table towards the exit. "You know, for christening the ship of course." Gramps quickly added jokingly; apparently he had no qualms about useing and age old tradition as an excuse to down a few drinks.

Deirdre let her guard down, smiling openly at the older man. "Snag a bottle I can do."

She stood and looked over at him. "I like the way you think."

It didn't take much effort for her to get a bottle and stow it away. Soon she and Gramps were boarding the ship they would be calling home.

She was every bit of wonderous metal and circuits that they had hoped. She was sleek where she needed to be and flashy where appropriate. The engines were state of the art and yet suprisingly simple to those who knew what they were looking.

The Precipice seemed like art and science all in one.

The pair stood, marveling at the ship, the bottle slowly passing between them. They toured every inch of her until the others began to board. An empty bottle and a nod to each other was all that signaled their time together but it was only the first of what would be many.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kerwyn J. Argyle Character Portrait: Gus "Gramps" Amante Character Portrait: Deirdre Molle Sheely
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All the pomp and circumstance was over. They had each exchanged handshakes with the Imperator. Caintry did so rather hesitantly. Military press were there filming it all, no doubt for some propaganda peace of Imperator Snow's newfound goodwill toward free space travel. Shaking Argyle's hand last, the man had actually brought him in for a hug. Luckily Perryn had warned him the night before to expect it.

He had then grabbed the Captain by the shoulders, looking him in the eyes.

"Safe travels my friend." Damn, he was a charming bastard. Was it all for show or not? He had to have something deep down inside that had gotten him as far as he made it.

Most of the crew were assembled at the bridge for the first takeoff, other than Gramps and a few of the others. In case something went drastically wrong with the drives, they needed the engineer close to the machinery. Deirdre sat ahead of him in the pilot chair, wild and colorful hair a nice distraction from the rest of the room.

He spoke out on the open comm. "Systems check?" It was rather necessary given that the ship was fully prepped for first takeoff, but it seemed only right. A formality of sorts.

Aeron answered the comm, likely from one of the common rooms. "No intruders aboard sir!" Argyle laughed, awaiting Gramps response.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kerwyn J. Argyle Character Portrait: Gus "Gramps" Amante Character Portrait: Deirdre Molle Sheely
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Night before take off, late night

She had left Gramps with the last of the bottle and went to walk the halls of the ship. She moved about, avoiding areas where others seemed to be doing the same. Deirdre just wanted time to herself to take things in. This was her new home for now though to her it the thought held no sentimental or emotional ties. It meant knowing a place’s ins and outs, how to make a quick escape, where to hide and where the main areas where.

Deirdre found the bridge and sat in what would be her chair for a time. She didn’t get to stay as long as she liked as others came in to look around but it was long enough to know that it felt right. Staring ahead, knowing that tomorrow they would be heading into space left her feeling excitement in a way she hadn’t in a long time.

She wouldn’t admit it though and her face gave nothing away as she left the bridge to find her quarters.

Deirdre sat on her bunk and looked around the room. It was nicer than any other bunk she had had. It was still very sparsely decorated. There were no signs of the person who lived here. her meager belongings still remained in her dingy backpack. They would stay there, tucked away. She didn’t believe in getting settled. She had done that once and it had gone poorly.

The night passed and Deirdre tried to sleep though her hands itched to get on the controls once more.

Morning, day of departure

She got up early, showered, dressed and then tried to hide away in the back of the crowd as they all stood around waiting on the Imperator. Deirdre kept her hood up. She knew her hair was like a beacon for people to stare. The last thing she wanted was to be the centre of attention in this circumstance.

She didn’t even want to be there and as the ceremony began she ducked backwards, down and away from it all and into the shadows to watch from afar. She didn’t belong up there and the last thing she should be doing is shaking the Imperator’s hand. She was a dock rat and a hell of a pilot but diplomat she was not.

With all that over she now sat in her chair, hands on the controls. Her hoodie was off, tucked behind her on her chair. Her rainbow hair was tied up, a sign she was working, concentrating. Deirdre’s heart was racing.

Soon. Soon. Soon. Each beat seemed to beg for them to get started.

Behind her the captain called out for the systems check. She knew it unnecessary and so did the captain but it just felt good to hear. It was as if the captain was simply using it as a way to prepare them all, a countdown without the counts.

Deirdre held her breath and waited for the order to take off.

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