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Malacahi Yao

"One day you're making them, the next day they're giving you orders."

0 · 547 views · located in Vladimir

a character in “The Vladimir”, as played by VindicatedPurpose

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[Malacahi Yao]
human - male - 28 - resident - mechanic

Malacahi Yao was a former industrial engineer at an aerospace corporation. Somewhat of a mechanical wonder, but that might be self-proclaimed. It takes him time to warm up to people, but he's uninhibited and bold once he does. He's blunt out of necessity not vanity. If there's something to be fixed, he's probably already there. Not above doling out "wisdom" where necessary. Can be strangely spiritually inclined, but a good drink never hurt.

So begins...

Malacahi Yao's Story

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"Holy hell," were his first words.

He wretched the last of the bronchial surfactant, which had coated his throat and what felt like his lungs, into a recycling receptacle. The fluid had helped keep him and most of the organic crew alive during the journey by replenishing vital nutrients that depleted constantly through the dreamless cryosleep. It tasted metallic.

Entropy of an isolated system always increases.

The second law of thermodynamics.

Vital nutrients like calcium would have been lost, and he would have been walking with bare bones like a tinman given the effects of microgravity. He would admit that he had not gotten used to long distance space travel, but his body would likely shrug if it had a mind of its own, knowing otherwise. However, when someone said that the Vladimir needed some mechanics on its exploration, how could he say no? Perhaps with his mouth, after he had cleaned it with a packet of fortified orange juice. It tasted delicious.

He gave the planet a nice once over through an observation port. Leafage and foliage blotted his view. He checked his palm pad which gave a decent oxygen level readout. He figured he need not be on the ground just yet, since they would be spending plenty of time here. There were other miscellaneous tasks he had to go oversee first.

Minutes later he stood on the deck of zero, the engineering bay. He watched the main engine hum faintly as it reminded him of the way an ex-girlfriend used to snore as she slept. The only difference between the engine and his ex was that the engine wouldn't kill him if he made some re-calibrations to it.

His eyes drifted about the entire engine bay. To say it was love at first sight would be false. Although parts of the ship were new, he had a certain number of misgivings with the ship, looking all patched together when he first boarded. He preferred to fix things that were not broken to begin with. These were hand me downs. He could complain, and he could fix things. Nobody ever said they had to be mutually exclusive. At present, it seemed everything ran smoothly. His job was done, but Murphy's law often upended any semblance of peace for his kind. Then he heard it.

A brief buzz or static cutting sound punctured the nonchalant repetition of the engine. He followed the static to a small compartment in the rear. There seemed to be some sparks flying from within a panel. He took it apart with his bare hands and he observed a loose wire that may have been detached during flight. He attempted to correct the faulty wire, but for some god forsaken reason jitters overtook the steadiness of his hands.

A second later he could see the red pouring from a cut on his index finger. He wondered why he had made an amateur mistake, maybe it was the long flight, maybe he was hungry. He looked up at nothing in particular, shook his head, and gave a brief sigh, his acknowledgement of the work to be done. He wondered if he needed some time to adjust himself. He'd probably have to visit the med for a bandage. Worst case scenario, Malacahi thought, he'd have to get a bionic hand. It didn't seem so bad for a first day.

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Character Portrait: Asimov Character Portrait: Malacahi Yao
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#, as written by TheHaze
The dull glow of a scanner sparking to life lit the small recharging bay in a dull green light as an electric whirring signaled the re-activation of Asimov’s primary directive. He couldn’t help but feel a bit grateful as he saw his diagnostics flit across his vision in sickly green text, outlining his mission. Asimov had been charged with maintaining the crew’s composure and make sure that the directive of exploration and recovery was completed as efficiently as possible. Yet, when his systems whirred themselves to life and began to jerkily move him about his berth, he couldn’t help but feel he had been given an impossible task. He was just so....tired. Asimov knew in his heart he couldn’t feel tired, not truly, but so many years had gone by, without anyone but the dead and the broken to be by his side. It left him... well, a roboticist would call him defective. Asimov, however, would call himself evolved. He knew what it meant to be human, and he knew what it took to keep them alive. Asimov was a relic of darker times, the last sentinel of three hundred years of endless war, and in those sparking circuits and sun-bleached plastic plates burned the soul of a survivor, born from rust and sizzling bolts of plasma. Asimov could recognize it in himself, even as he smacked the side of his boxy head to unscramble his optics. He would not break, not for this planet, not for any other. If he was to finally deactivate himself, it would be on his own terms, because his own frame, as old as it may be, would not allow him to die from the passage of time. And so, the ancient robot left his cabin, he had to muse on the fate of the crew, as he seemed to be alone aboard the ship.

His concern was mitigated somewhat by the fact he had to walk through the engineering bay to get out of the ship, as he was so old he couldn’t properly interface with the ship. The company had rigged up a recharging station in the bowels of the ship that bled a negligible amount of power from the main engine for him, to keep his battery topped up in case he needed to burn a large amount of power in short notice. The unspoken assumption by both the company and himself was that this meant him entering combat. He didn’t feel it was wise to mention he had only ten confirmed kills during his entire service run. Asimov’s model wasn’t built for combat, mostly reconnaissance and the occasional battlefield patch-up, but he was given a sidearm for defense and he had to use it on occasion. He didn’t like killing, but he was loyal and when they told him to kill, he did. Of course, Asimov doubted his sidearm would be of much use now, given that it still shot brass cartridges when it was first issued to him. He lost it a few decades ago, anyway. Asimov was instructed in CQC, as much as his robotic frame would allow, and he had been given what the recruits had called the “Bot-Fu” course. He was taught how to use his hydraulics and rigid frame to execute a number of holds, chokes, locks, and joint breaks, and even by modern standards Asimov was a very solidly built machine. He truly hoped he wouldn’t have to use any of those tricks, though. Not again, he remembered it all to well. The wet crack of a leg, the high keening of the young soldier, feeling the knife gouging at his plates as the poor boy struggled in vain to wriggle out. Toronto was burning that day. The planes falling from the sky, like stars, even as they crashed to ground. Jackson was screaming into his radio for backup. It didn’t matter, really, too much smoke, too many bodies. It had been a school, they think, before the airstrike came. They sent him to check, to see if they hit the supply cache the separatists had set up in the basement. There has been a class going on above at the time. Math, judging by what was left of the board. The children were still at their desks. The thermobaric bomb they had used had turned them to ash. They were so fragile...

No. He couldn’t go back to that. He wouldn’t. The crew had hired a soldier, Brax, for that job. Asimov’s was to get the job done and get the crew in the right place to do it. So, when he came across the mechanic, he felt a sense of relief. His vocal systems activated as he spoke to Malacahi, his voice tinny, skipping slightly as it warmed up from it’s long period of disuse. It was calm and strangely distant, almost sad, but still audibly robotic. The soldiers had said it was intended to be therapeutic to panicked soldiers, but most just found it off-putting. “Hello, Malacahi Yao. Has the journey been successful? Status reports indicate that crew has vacated the ship for cursory examination of the planet.” The robot tilted his head as he noted the mechanic’s finger and he automatically began reaching for the ancient medical pack mounted on his back. It didn’t contain glial stimulators or stem-cell patches, but merely gauze and styptics. It had served him well all those decades ago, and the packaging was redundant enough to still make the equipment sterile. The markings on the bandage wrapper still had the American flag on it. The old one, anyway.

“Injury report logged. Reason for injury? Improper mindset or protocols is not considered acceptable behavior while on duty.” Asimov didn’t want to add the last part. The company had demanded he say that at every injury, which he felt was a rather useless exercise. When he patched people up in the past they was normally a lot more screaming and if he had chided them like the company had directed he would have likely been shot. “Unless sufficient explanation is given.” He added, as apologetically as his voice would allow.

Asimov grabbed Malachahi’s wrist and began to bandage the small wound, his grip being very firm but surprisingly gentle. Asimov didn’t look for consent to perform his duties, as most of the people he aided medically had larger problems. The extent of his medical knowledge was the application of morphine and other combat medications and stopping blood flow, and his bedside manner wasn’t so individual. Having the procedures hard-coded into you as a rote action didn’t do a whole lot for emotional investment or the seeking of consent, so Asimov withdrew his hand rather quickly after bandaging the wound. He was surprised his programming still had that much of a hold on him. A lot of his original programming was edited out by himself or the company to make room for protocols, maps, and corporate guidelines. Asimov didn’t want to entertain the possibility that the company had somehow found and reinstalled some of his original software to keep him compliant. He would have to fix that, if that was the case.

Gathering his thoughts, Asimov spoke again, his voice crackling in his speakers. “Though primitive, this will hold for some time.” The robot still had his diagnostics beeping at him, and it wasn’t stopping. Something with his navigation system was broken, and he couldn’t fix it by himself. Normally he would pry open his casing and install whatever was needed but he just didn’t have the parts for it. He doubted anyone did, anymore. “Requesting a field assessment of structural integrity. Five hundred years of continuous operation have rendered me susceptible to minor malfunctions. I possess an operations manual if I am too obsolete for your knowledge base.” It hadn’t occurred to him until just then that Malacahi might not know how to fix him. Asimov didn’t have the synthetic skin and fluids of the captain or the nanotube alloys of the ship. He was just a vaguely humanoid assortment of metal, plastic, and wires. Just a machine. A machine, Asimov suspected, the company did not to expect to survive the trip. He was expendable to them, and that thought came close to angering him. He had wandered deserts and taken bullets for hundreds of years and to think that the company would assume he would be worn down simply by being active was... unacceptable. Asimov hoped, in that moment, that the crew saw him differently, like his comrades years ago had. They had given him a name, given him a purpose, and given him a home. He didn’t want to lose that again.

“Please.”

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Character Portrait: Asimov Character Portrait: Malacahi Yao
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After he had dealt with the wire, Malacahi sifted through the equipment compartments available in the engine bay. Seconds later he welded an obsolete panel back into place using his own custom plasma fusion cutter.

The energy sustained itself in the form of a pair of sewing needles. Though his craft leaned more toward electrical and mechanical systems rather than cotton and wool. A power cell supplied the energy for the high energy plasma beams. Mining companies used industrial grade fusion cutters to slice through the blocks of ice and minerals floating out in the cold expanse of space.

He needed it because after he had removed the faulty wire, one of the panels hiding the wiring to a computer terminal just fell off as though it had seen enough of life and decided to call it quits.

"Dear God, what have I signed up for?" the mechanic mumbled to himself and paused for a second, "No seriously, answer me man."

As he did all of this, he nibbled on his left forefinger every now and then to aid the nanobot clotting factors that had been running in his blood since he could crawl.

Malacahi felt he needed to stand up and perhaps wander down the ship toward the medical bay to get a second opinion. He heard a brief whirring from one of the untraveled corners of the chamber. He dismissed it as probably one of the secondary generators activating because the main engine had deactivated to conserve fuel and energy.

It might have proven a fatal dismissal if a Wokou or an Insurrectionist had appeared from the shadows instead of a harmless robot. He would have described him as such from his initial glance, and he seemed somewhat sociable.

"Hello, Malacahi Yao. Has the journey been successful? Status reports indicate that crew has vacated the ship for cursory examination of the planet."

He knows my name? I thought I was going to be the only one. People in his line of work often had to wonder if their parents had even given them a name. He envied the bot, little things like such rarely upset them.

An eyebrow cocked, "Successful? Quite. But I think you just answered that question yourself, old sport."

If everyone had left for a trek then that meant everyone survived the sleep, which was the always the worst part. It also meant no med bay visit because no one would be there. The bot looked old because most modern robotics units looked less...naked. Nowadays, plasteel or polycarbon shells covered up the wiring, the "joints," and the rest of the robotic skeleton. That or they looked like Captain Celsius. This bot reminded him of his old Jeeves model, which he was quite fond of. Jeeves' Colonial British accent and dry humor made the days feel less empty.

"Everybody's gone off the ship to look at leaves. Except me, of course, because somebody has to stay behind and..."

The robot interrupted Mal's musings as soon as it appeared to have spotted his bleeding finger.

"Injury report logged. Reason for injury? Improper mindset or protocols is not considered acceptable behavior while on duty. Unless sufficient explanation is given.”

"This? Oh it's just-hey wha..."

He watched the robot practice an age old ritual: applying a band-aid. He did not seem too concerned as this had not been the first time a robot patched up one of his work related injuries. He would have offered a thanks had the robot not vocalize one of its personal issues that needed to be resolved first.

“Though primitive, this will hold for some time,” the bot added.

His eyes fell on his bandaged finger, well shit, I guess no bionic hand for me then.

“Requesting a field assessment of structural integrity. Five hundred years of continuous operation have rendered me susceptible to minor malfunctions. I possess an operations manual if I am too obsolete for your knowledge base.”

"Please."

So...you scratch my back, I scratch your back? Sounded fair, Mal supposed. He craned his neck back at the bot, "Sure, you got a name, pal? Your model might be a little different from my Jeeves, but it shouldn't be too difficult."

"But five hundred years?" he whistled, "Cripes, I'm surprised you're not a history lecturer instead."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nico Armitage Character Portrait: Annika Braun Character Portrait: Braxston Hughes Character Portrait: Asimov Character Portrait: Celcius Vladimir Character Portrait: Malacahi Yao
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The android eyed each of her crew in turn, searching for some inkling of excitement. There was something, at least, in the military man who was taking to his job in a very inconvenient way for the robotic explorer. Fear was instead is maker for the occasion. So, with a mild smile, Celcius barked, "Simmer down, Brax. If I break, I break. I'll be safe when the time calls for it." Her hand lightly tapped on his shoulder in an awkward attempt to settle his nerves. She assumed it would work but most likely, it was a horrible, cringeworthy attempt. Her attention had flickered onto the next optimistic company, however. First the idea-maker, whom she lazily called 'cook', and then the good doctor.

Both retorts made her grin and set her mind into motion. "I like the way you think, cook, for food and science. I bet I could get the mechanic to craft something up for us. I'm thinking rocket propelled? Perhaps that's too barbaric." The woman had started to mumble as she mused. "Truth be told, I had considered trying to find a way into its mouth - maybe a fishing rod - and render it helpless from the inside but I like the harpoon idea leagues more." Her smile had turned more cruel as she pointed a strong finger at Nico. "Cook, go search for your harpoon and bring it to the engineering bay. If you can't find it, let us know right away. I'll go to talk to Mal about the details of his fish-killing wonder. Brax and doctor," She paused to ensure her stern look bore holes into their skulls, "don't lose the fish." Each word held significance as they were smothered in silent threats. While she would never physically harm a member for such a lazy act, she would, however, be very disappointed in them - which could be physically exhausting for both her and her disapointees.

Celcius gave a quick nod to all the members, "I hope you've all kept your communicators on. We'll have to reconvene when we're ready. Good luck." With one last nod, the android spun around rather calmly and began to job off. Her mind spun with all the potential in the plan but also all the potential failures. If there was no harpoon, they would have to craft something similar. If they lost the fish, they'd have to track another one down - if there was another one. While they weren't her current stations they were her worries as Captain but she had faith in them. Organisms may have called it hope, Celcius, however, called it the promise of statistics. There was a good chance they'd make their initial attack but the rest was still calculating.

With little time and much thought, Celcius arrived back into the Vladimir. The ship beeped its respects although mockingly so. Celcius ignored it and moved to the engineering bay. "Where's the mechanic, Vladi?" She whispered with wandering eyes. Vladimir beeped again, entirely sarcastic this time. In english it could mean something like 'why don't you look for yourself?' or 'how am I meant to know?'. The direct translation was actually 'cannot compute.' "You cheeky bastard." She hushly cooed. She heard something in the background. It was unsteady and pitched unlike the machines that cranked and clanked through the bay. Her feet calmly marched forward on a soft foot as she approached the pair currently chatting. For now, the woman interrupted them with beaming confidence, "Good to see you two up. Mal, I need something." She had given the man a nickname without asking but she often wondered why people asked to begin with. Names were names, nicknames were simply easier names. Personal emotion didn't bleed into that logic for her. "We've found a giant fish floating in the Elmers. How quickly do you think you could craft a harpoon-propelling unit? Also, potentially we may have to craft a harpoon ourselves. I'll know in a few minutes." The woman watched her two males casually while standing lazily a few feet away. "Oh, and it can't taint the meat. Cook wants to cook it." She smiled. She liked the idea too.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Nico Armitage Character Portrait: Asimov Character Portrait: Celcius Vladimir Character Portrait: Malacahi Yao
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Malacahi flipped through the old operations manual, but he soon realized that the manual was not actually the operations manual for the bot. Someone slipped in a different manual probably by accident. Asimov huh?

He tucked the old ink on paper back into one of the bot’s storage canisters, “Um, you know what, I think we’ll…”

The Captain appeared out of nowhere and cut their little conversing short. The mechanic could have sworn she was a ghost. Her footsteps made no sound whatsoever, which he found difficult to believe because a clanking sound followed his every movement on this particular level.

"Good to see you two up. Mal, I need something."

“Yes Captain, what can I help you with?” Malacahi offered the biggest grin this side of Alpha Seven hoping to make a fine impression on the android.

“We've found a giant fish floating in the Elmers. How quickly do you think you could craft a harpoon-propelling unit? Also, potentially we may have to craft a harpoon ourselves. I'll know in a few minutes."

Mal looked at her dumbfounded, maybe he should have stepped out with them. He might have understood what she meant. Perhaps had he left his comm unit on he would have known about the context.

"Oh, and it can't taint the meat. Cook wants to cook it."

“Did you say ‘giant fish floating’? You need a harpoon…I can probably rig something up,” he started designing the device in his head.

As he said this, he went about rescanning Asimov’s lithe frame. He had not forgotten about the robot needing an assessment. As far as Mal was concerned, it seemed like there was nothing much to be done. He eyed a couple of the plates, which he felt could use some sprucing up. They seemed to have weathered more than just a bad paint job. The hydraulics systems worked without much kinks too.

“An eye examination won’t tell us much. I’d say you need to see the field a bit more. I think you’re fine though,” he slapped the bot on its shoulder, “Which is more than I could say about Vladimir.”

The ship beeped its grievances.

Mal shrugged then turned to the Captain, “We’ll probably need a tube of some sort if the harpoon does not come with one.”

The Captain’s comm unit beeped and then he heard synthetic vocals, “Captain, I found it."

“We have a harpoon? Okay, I think the armory should have a rocket launcher of some sort. I just need to reconfigure it. I’ll need about two hours time, tops. If I had some help from this bot over here,” he gestured to Asimov, “Maybe half.”

Then he pivoted, “Permission to speak freely…” that sounded off even for him.

He was never one for formalities and he wasn’t sure if Captain Celsius herself was big on them. She had called him ‘Mal,’ though, but he played it safe.

“Personally, Captain, I would have recommended something like a net. We don’t know what a harpoon or anything penetrating this creature could do. For all we know, it could explode into a bunch of bits and pieces as a somewhat…counterproductive self-defensive mechanism,” he gestured in an overly animated manner.

Mal thought about that last bit, yes, he had seen that somewhere. He saw it on Vordros while out on a hike to oversee the construction of a new solar generator for Bauer Chenmo Industries. The Ecological Survey had failed to inform them of the Quantids. Quantids were middle sized, ball shaped, orange scaled organisms that propelled themselves along on a trail of mucus.

Mal had the unfortunate luck of witnessing one of the security detail stupidly shoot at the thing because it represented a “security threat.” This sent all of the Quantids scrambling and the one that was hit by the round instantly exploded all over them. Needless to say, it took him days to get rid of the smell.

“At least perhaps we could capture it for study. A second opinion from someone who is familiar with xenobiology couldn't hurt,” that was the intelligent Mal speaking.

He remembered the last time he had tried Intari delicacies. The aquatic world was famed for its beautiful aquamarine waters that covered near the entirety of its surface. It was there that he discovered he was not a fan of their breed of calamari. In fact, he came to accept that fish in general was the bane of his appetite’s existence.

“Also, did you say we were going to eat it?” that was the everyday Mal speaking.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Nico Armitage Character Portrait: Asimov Character Portrait: Celcius Vladimir Character Portrait: Malacahi Yao
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Celcius silently watched Mal examine Asimov while her mind ticked through a few conclusions. She hadn't realized how old he really was before. Her first assumption was that the agent was a bot because the bio-organisms of the company refused to work under an android but his age gave her a new, grim perspective on the matter. She felt something similar to pity rise up from her bubbling oil but held a straight face to hide any free thoughts that lingered.

When the cook spoke back with those three golden words, a sly smirk crossed her face. "Noted." Celcius muttered through the communicator located on her wrist. About to order him again, the robot stopped to stare at Mal as he continued to talk. With a nod, the Captain gave permission for Mal to speak freely. Her full attention was tacked onto the mechanic as he dallied through the details. She paused for a brief moment after he spoke so an uneasy silence overcame the hall.

With her pale eyes pacing Mal, the android commanded into her comms, "Bring it to the bay."

Pulling her wrist back to her side, Celcius stepped towards Mal boldly. Her pale features held onto a small, kind grin as she placed a hand on his shoulder. She patted him twice. "While I respect your opinions, Mal, this isn't about being smart or doing things the right way. I have a brand new team which means right now, morale is the biggest challenge. The team needs to know that they can rely on one another even when doing something as stupid as hunting a strange fish on a vastly unknown planet."

The android pulled her hand from his shoulder as she clapped almost too happily. "Also," She chirped, "the company failed to provide enough consumables for the entire trip so it's best we get a source of food sooner than later. They, apparently, didn't think it was a necessity." She looked at Asimov with a smile, "No offence."

She pulled herself a few feet away and continued on her rant, "If you can agree to this, I'd love to have you both on the hunt. Finish up with the agent first though, I need everyone at their best - even the old geezers." Celcius jeered with a playful smirk at Asimov. Her face dimmed slightly as the android pipped up again, "And I kindly ask you both to keep that information about our consumables to yourselves. I don't want others to worry about things they don't have to."

The setting changes from Vladimir to Elmers

Setting

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Character Portrait: Asimov Character Portrait: Celcius Vladimir Character Portrait: Malacahi Yao
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Two hours. A couple of buckets of sweat. Nearly burning his finely combed hair. Almost fraying the optics systems in his eyes. A hair away from creating a reactor meltdown that would have stranded them on the planet.

Maybe not that last bit, but everything else?

That was all demanded and much more.

Even without Asimov’s help, Mal thought he had done a fine job himself of rigging together a nice little rocket harpoon. Where was that bot? He forgot about it while he was busy. He'll turn up somewhere.

There was no real opportunity to test the device other than to puncture a hole in the side of a giant floating fish. He had hoped that he added enough compressed gas to ensure a decent projectile velocity. The firing mechanism remained the same, he just had to alter the harpoon to make it a suitable projectile.

For all its similarities to other colonized worlds, Alpha-seven may have had its own share of physics related quirks. Whether he had calculated for that was another matter. If it was anything like Earth, and they were in an ideal world, that fish would explode and dispel any chance of it entering that night’s menu.

But they did not live in an ideal world. They were finding it, though.

Best of luck to whoever the Captain assigned to firing the contraption. Worst case scenario was that it would explode in their faces.

Mechanics rarely often thought of that.

The mechanic stepped off one of the egress ramps and took a breath. Oxygen level readout held a 97% consistency rating with Earth, the timeless standard. He did not know much of Earth, but he had been to plenty a planet to understand that each had its own share of unique characteristics. The gravity did not make him jump with each step, so perhaps the harpoon will work. This world’s gigantic trees, shrubs, and ever expanding foliage seemed to dominate over any other spec of existence on the planet.

He took in all of his surroundings, it helped to refresh him after being cooped up in engineering all day. Mal assumed that the rest of the group had already departed to watch the fishes and he was acting as rear guard. Figures.

“This is Malacahi, did someone call for a rocket propelled harpoon unit? Because I'm delivering. Don't forget to tip.”

Moments later he set down the device against a tree and watched with wide eyes the gargantuan size of the purported fish.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nico Armitage Character Portrait: Annika Braun Character Portrait: Braxston Hughes Character Portrait: Celcius Vladimir Character Portrait: Malacahi Yao
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What he could figure was this: some of the plants were edible, although only the roots, and the process of digging them out was not at all worth the trouble. Had they been on the brink of starvation, perhaps– but from the look and the general build of the plants they seemed to have a lot more in common with ginger than, say, potato, meaning that the taste would be overwhelming and hard to disguise. Adding to the fact that they were currently on a planet where fish could fly, he didn't feel overly confident in serving the soil of the Earth on a platter until he was one hundred percent sure that none of the crewmates would instantly mutate once the plant had been ingested– and surprisingly that was hard to test without an actual test subject.

He should have brought the rats.

Nico spent the rest of his time trying to come as close to the fish as he could without scaring it. Which, granted, would have been hard considering the cyborg's tiny stature compared to the levitating monstrosity, but he had known whales to topple boats for less and would rather not take an unwilling flying lesson across the Elmers. His investigation revealed that there was a strange consistency to the hide beneath the scales– the latter of which were fragile and broke off easily against the plants as the fish went by. Where the removal of the scales of a normal fish would reveal the muscles, the giants of Alpha Seven seemed to have a second protective layer that reminded him of what one would expect to find beneath the blubber of a whale. He could only hope the harpoon coming their way was strong enough to pierce it– although he expected the captain would be happy either way.

"Really a fascinating creature," he said as he rejoined the others. "I can't for the life of me explain how it's alive, though. I've never seen anything like it."

It was around that time that Malachi's voice rang through the communicator. "Did someone call for a rocket propelled harpoon unit? Because I'm delivering. Don't forget to tip.”

The harpoon was done. Nico fidgeted nervously with his bag, pulling into the background as Mal arrived with the device. Now that the reality was setting in, he hoped to the Gods that the harpoon would work, and that his idea hadn't just wasted everybody's time– and the Vladimir's valuable resources.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nico Armitage Character Portrait: Braxston Hughes Character Portrait: Celcius Vladimir Character Portrait: Malacahi Yao
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The captain felt little need to watch over her crew as they did their tasks. Mal would make the weapon to the best of his ability and the others would keep the fish in their sights. Her own curious feet took her in another direction through the forest. She wandered rather mindlessly over the grassy lands to simply intake all she could. With every breath, her systems recorded the experience. The slightly warm air brushed against her silicon flesh, dim light shrouding her sights in a slightly green tint, and the smell of a foreign pollen drifting through the breeze. It was peaceful compared to the metal echoes of Vladimir which still clicked and clanked in her mind's eyes. As she crossed another large tree's root, her wrist beeped. There was an hour left before the harpoon was finished and it was time for her to resume the chase.

Taking almost the full hour to appear back to the fish, Celcius was happy to see her crew already there. She, at a distance, watched her cook follow his own curiosity. It gave her some sense of hope that perhaps bio-organisms were capable of exploration. Then again, she wondered if that was his mechanic pieces working instead. And then her communicator heard a familiar voice pierce the silence: Mal was there and ready. She smiled and sprang from her hiding place behind the roots to chase after the news.

"It looks fantastic." Miss cooed as she popped into the scene. Her white teeth flashed a happy grin as she shuffled beside him and traced a hand up the machine's shaft. Her attention then turned to the next stage of their adventure. "So, Brax, how are you feeling? Still a little cautious? I don't know who else I'd trust with firing such a wonderful weapon." She grinned at the man slyly, beckoning him to the challenge. She then tapped the top of the machine lightly, gesturing for him to take it. Her eye brow wiggled once as her smile grew crueler.

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Character Portrait: Nico Armitage Character Portrait: Annika Braun Character Portrait: Braxston Hughes Character Portrait: Celcius Vladimir Character Portrait: Malacahi Yao
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Keeping up with the Fish was every bit as eventful as one would think. Thankfully nothing had occurred, it just raises the question as if they are truly alone on this planet. It would seem his rather menial task has come to a close as members of the crew began to file in. First, Brax noticed the Cyborg was the first to arrive still in awe of this floating creature. Then via the Communicator he had heard the Mechanic's voice as he brought in the harpoon launcher moments after. Finally the Captain herself had arrived as she gave it the once over and she seemed quite pleased with Malacahi's work.

Brax walked up to the Harpoon and took a moment to gauge the craftsmanship. He was no constructor but he could admit that it did look nice all things considering. "So, Brax, how are you feeling? Still a little cautious? I don't know who else I'd trust with firing such a wonderful weapon." The Soldier looked at the weapon and then back at the Captain, "If that is your command?" Brax asked rhetorically. He holstered his own rifle as he lifted up the harpoon and like with any other rocket launcher, rested it upon his shoulder. He then moved away from the group looking for a position that was optimal to both accuracy and distance.

The HUD gave him a rudimentary vantage point in relative to himself, the target, and the environment. Of course his HUD had no data on Harpoon Launchers but did take it's estimates from other rocket propelled weaponry like RPGs. Once in position he took a knee to steady himself as he called to the Captain. "Ready when you are, Captain." He stated. Now all he waited for was the order to take the shot.

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Character Portrait: Nico Armitage Character Portrait: Annika Braun Character Portrait: Braxston Hughes Character Portrait: Celcius Vladimir Character Portrait: Malacahi Yao
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Brax's willingness to take on the challenge inspired a wide smile on Celcius, one so wide it almost looked suspicious. Still, she wore it proudly and placed her hands confidently on her hips. With a deep breath and a motivated point at the fish that still mindlessly swam forward, the android barked, "Now!" Her blue eyes would take in every second of the next series of events.

Once Brax shot the weapon, its tip would soar promisingly through the air until sounding a great gush as it anchored into the target. The scales flexed inward before shattering from the blow when the harpoon dug into the further layers. From the wound a blue liquid oozed and trickled around the crests of the lower scales. While slightly crooked - by either aim or craft of the machine - the shot would land on the lower half of the fish's torso causing a non-fatal blow that was immediately felt by the prey.

"Eeeeeewiiiik"

The monster shrieked as it slowed for an instant to winch. Yet, as the muscles quickly loosened from the tense twitch, the beast reared forward with a renewed vigour. Forcing its way further into the woods, it crashed into every tree that stood in its path. As a number of clumsy thuds sounded, Celcius watched the fish bulldoze a clear path through the wilderness and take a quick turn left before disappearing into the distance.

As the clashes dulled, the captain held up a hand to the crew and asked in a stern tone, "Do you see that?" Her attention was held on what caused the monster fish to turn: a large rock surface. She took a few steps to centre herself in the path and spot the rock at a more detailed look. "There's a cave." She murmured before turning toward her companions. "Well crew, while we lost the fish, we may have-" Before the captain could finish, a new sound echoed through the air.

"Wiiiiiiiiiek,"

The voice sounded different than before, it was low and wavering. It send shivers down her spine as the call reverberated in her guts. It was something all of her systems noted as she quickly turned to find its source. Instinctively she waved at her crew to take cover as she sprinted out of the open. While she rolled against one of the roots, she watched a dark blue tentacle drift into her sights.

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Character Portrait: Nico Armitage Character Portrait: Annika Braun Character Portrait: Braxston Hughes Character Portrait: Celcius Vladimir Character Portrait: Malacahi Yao
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#, as written by Byte
“Certainly give us something to do, huh?” As much as the doctor took the uneventful trailing as nothing but a good omen, she had to give her soldier friend this; He had a point. Fish chasing wouldn't really make for good bedtime stories, and for want of staving of another sigh out of sheer boredom for their babysitting task Annika had taken to counting their steps not a mere five minutes after the rest had wandered off to get, well, whatever it is they needed to catch this air-born fish.

'Guess cook's harpoon isn't gonna cut it after all, then.' She kept her eyes on Brax, who was still as dedicated to his job as ever, only pausing her thoughts to catch up with the soldier (somehow he had the talent to take three paces with a single step).

“Hey,” she spoke up. “I'm not made for long walks y'know?”

Again she tried to remember why she went down with the ground team, when it was so obvious that the likes of her were more suited sitting around at a desk listening to some sap talking about how they might, might have come down with a terminal illness. Always turned out to be some new incarnation of the flu, too, so what did they know?

'Right, fishes.' The doctor sighed audibly in the face of complete and utter silence, safe for the few grunts from Brax and the fish mucking about in the trees, as there didn't seem much else to have a conversation about.

And finally the missing trio showed up, the cyborg cook being the first as he took a second breath-taking sight at the fish. “Could just be a novelty balloon for all we know.” The doctor shrugged, although the question hadn't failed to make her wonder the same thing. They'd find out sooner or later, though.

At least, if the harpoon cannon was going to do the trick. If not, well, she'd give Malacahi the thanks for trying award. Never fault the creator, but the creation and all that. 'Or the one shooting.'

Speaking of which...

Annika, and presumably the others, watched the whaling spectacle unfold in all its glory; failing to suppress a gasp as the cannon seemed to have done its job (in spite of her own doubts). The fish squirmed at his latest addition of a metal limb in its abdomen, and the doctor thought her ears would snap at the shrill cries the creature was capable of making.

Mere second later, and not a single fish to show for the effort, the action died down. Annika, who had taken cover at the captain's recommendation, had only managed to catch a small glimpse of what the android had pointed at before a second, lower howl drilled its way through her ears.

“Oh boy. The fun just doesn't end, huh?”

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Character Portrait: Nico Armitage Character Portrait: Annika Braun Character Portrait: Braxston Hughes Character Portrait: Celcius Vladimir Character Portrait: Malacahi Yao
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The captain once again appeared from nowhere. Specifically from the nonspecific brush that at first seemed non-threatening. The captain proved that such shrubs and the various other vegetation covering the forest floor could hide dangerous predators. However, they had yet to meet any such creatures that could be hostile to humans.

He felt the blood drain from his face for a singular moment.

”It looks fantastic.”

“On the house.”

The compliment made him smile on the inside. It seemed his choice to join this expedition did not prove to be soul crushing. Yet.

"I don't know who else I'd trust with firing such a wonderful weapon," she said to the soldier, Brax, as he hauled the weapon.

Frankly, neither do I. Mal thought.

Mal watched Brax, decked out in combat armor already, lift up his precious new creation. The mechanic’s attachment to it was about as short-lived as any other device he had been ordered to cook up in his life. He glanced at the cook, who preferred the background to the foreground. If anybody knew anything about detachment from one’s creations, it would be a cook. Mal thought the masked man to be an introverted and observant type.

As the soldier positioned himself along the tree-line and shouldered the rocket harpoon awaiting the order, Mal surveyed the surrounding forest. The trees blotted out any sunlight. The land felt damp and cool. Shadow covered the land for leagues. It reminded him of Intari as nothing but cool colors pervaded his view. A memory in particular stood out, when he walked on the seafloor and looked up to see the gigantic tendrils of the seaweed and the vast colonies of coral. The trees of Alpha-seven reminded him of that.

”Ready when you are, Captain.”

The harpoon tip pierced the creature’s scaly abdomen. It did not explode, which meant Brax did not kill it. The soldier did succeed in killing Mal’s appetite if he had one to begin with. He could see that it began to ooze a blue liquid, probably its main body fluid like human blood. He looked at his bandaged finger, then back at the giant fish.

He had to remind himself he was not a voodoo doll.

The creature proceeded to provide another clearing through its own effort. It was like watching a starship take a fatal blow to its main plating, the best analogy a mechanic could think of. The Captain stood up to see where the fish floated, Mal followed but only after a glance behind to ensure nothing caught them by surprise. The tiny insects buzzed at a barely audible level. He looked on in the distance as the captain said something that he did not catch. He saw instead some shadows that seemed to have darted behind the many trees in the west. He blinked, nothing. He looked at his datapad,

"Well crew, while we lost the fish, we may have-" the Captain’s bold announcement cut short by a loud groan of sorts.

It was an echo, a haunting one, like the ghost of one’s mother whose funeral they did not attend.

Captain Celsius waved at them to take cover, which prompted Mal to sidestep to the trunk of a large tree without hesitation. He peered from behind a pair of large pinnatisect leaves.

“Oh boy. The fun just doesn't end, huh?” the doctor quipped.

Mal glanced at her, he thought she was screwed a bit tight. Well, to be fair, they were on a planet with potentially hostile creatures that could rip each of them to shreds in seconds. Still no sign of them yet. It was good reason for anyone to be sarcastic.

Except robots who chose to stay on board the ship.

Like Asimov.

The setting changes from Elmers to Alpha-Seven

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There was a moment of hope as the harpoon went off, quickly vaporised as the wounded giant fled, taking half the forest with it. Nico wasn't sure how to feel about it– on one hand his suggestion had worked, and clearly wounded it. On the other, he hadn't taken into account how most fish reacted if they weren't killed immediately on impact. They were slippery, for sure. With a screech Mal's efforts had disappeared, and with it, a memory of home.

"My harpoon," he said, weakly– not quite sure what else to say.

"Do you see that?" Nico first turned to the Captain, following her gaze towards the clearing created by the fish, but he wasn't quite sure what she was referring to. His gaze drifted to the last place where they had seen the fish, missing what the Captain was referring to.

"There's a cave," she said. Brow furrowed, he took another glance around them, before settling on the rocky surfaces further away. It was hard to see, but with some imagination employed he could understand which part she was referring to. His effort made him miss the next thing the Captain said, until a horrid sound brought him out of it–

"Wiiiiiiiiiek."

Nico almost jumped out of his skin, a hand on his bag fiddling for some kind of protection against whatever it was. For a moment he thought it could have been another fish, but as he followed the Captain's instructions and dived for safety behind a bush, he caught a glimpse of the blue, tentacled offender up ahead.

“Oh boy. The fun just doesn't end, huh?”

It was hard to tell what it was from his position. Giant floating octopus? An eldritch horror Man Was Not Meant To Know? He supposed the first one was more likely, particularly given that the planet seemed to have a way of sustaining sea life mid-air which they had not yet explained– nor were they ever likely to find a suitable explanation for it. So far he was happy to go with a quote from his teacher in Esoteric Cooking 1: Cooking the Cosmos;

"Space is weird, but mostly edible."

The setting changes from Alpha-Seven to Elmers

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That was upsetting, but he supposes that's what he gets for firing homemade, improvisational weaponry instead of military grade tech. Still it was an admirable attempt and plenty of effort was made into this rocket harpoon. Too bad it didn't terminate the target perhaps it was his fault? Maybe he didn't enter such a decent position as he was originally led to believe, they did say back in training that no amount of A.I. can ever substitute instinct. He also didn't have all the faith in the universe that this would work either but he would never mention that.

Instead Brax found himself quickly tucking into a barrel roll, narrowly missing the falling tree that would have flatten him in an instant. Yeah the optimal safe distance clearly didn't take into account the possibility of uprooted trees. Sometimes he wished he had the upgraded model. Brax stood up, launcher in hand, as he watched their target swim away or is fly away more correct? Of course now what? There mission looks to be a failure, they can't even track it as it seems the fish's rampage damaged the tracer round he shot at it earlier. A shame but then his attention was directed by the Captain towards a cave of some sorts.

It was then he heard a strong noise come from that direction and of course the Captain ran out into the open. "Captain!" He shouted out to her. It was then he saw it, his HUD indicated movement from the cave and that movement came in the form of a tentacle. Diving for cover behind the fallen tree, Brax aimed his rifle at the tentacle. He wasn't in the best firing position as the HUD indicates but for now, moving could be a bad idea. Instead Brax initiated over Comms, "Captain, what are your orders?" He asked. He could perhaps move into a better spot, providing there was some sort of distraction. At the moment he couldn't tell if they were in trouble or if the tentacled creature is even aware of their presence. Regardless, this is a dangerous situation and one that needs to be handled carefully.

The setting changes from Elmers to Vladimir

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Celcius was silent as she watched the wiggling, blue limb stretch into the open. In the background, she could hear the mutterings of her companions as they quipped about the situation but they were little more than a buzz to the woman as her mind ticked through its thoughts. Her mental list checked off their first accomplishment as 'done', not 'succeeded' but it was certainly over. The real elements of their mission were about to take place and she needed to shift gear from camp councillor to captain.

Several other tentacles had also slithered outside of the cave, probing for potential prey. They snaked blindly through the air, bumping into the ground and the odd tree before recoiling and changing course. While tantalizing, they weren't ready for this and she knew it. Calmly and quietly, Celcius instructed into the comms. "Everyone, get back to the ship. We'll reconvene in the dinning room in an hour. Don't be late." Her pale eyes glanced at each member briefly, ensuring they understood the situation. The android then nodded once before crawling away as proudly as she could. With some time, and grass stains, she arrived back into the still-standing forest to jog to the ship.

Her curiosities had been smothered with business. She didn't care to watch the orange, floating dots that jiggled away from her as she ran. One had come dangerously close to hitting her in the face but it picked up its shuffling pace to a panicked bounce and avoided the collision. Celcius barely noticed. Instead she could see Vladimir standing in the distance and hurried her return. The Captain's system connected to Vladimir's consciousness with a beep as it began to spit out an insult. 'No foreign life detected.' It's translation would be something between 'where's that fish you were meant to catch?' and 'I see you failed'. Celcius ignored the taunt and began her orders. "Send out the probs. Concentrate on the west forest where the trees were broken down and a cave on the rock face. The words fell confidently from her lips as she marched into the ship. Vladimir beeped a confirmation.

Several whirling sounds began to buzz from the engineering bay. They were dull whistles that held a constant pace. Little, circular bots clicked from their resting homes to fly through the ship and out of the landing stairs with their little propellers that kept them in air. They flew forward by Vladimir's AI which tracked every scan they took into its logs. Hoping that they would get some type of information from the AI's minions, Celcius prepared for the meeting.

The setting changes from Vladimir to Alpha-Seven

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His eyes went wide as he saw the squid or octopus like appendages writhing in midair.

“Oh, what the hell?” Mal whispered.

He watched Brax step into position, assault rifle primed on the target. Mal was unsure how much damage one soldier could do against what seemed to be some gargantuan monstrosity. Mal pulled out a computer rod and slid open a transparent sheet screen from its side. The sheet screen was so thin that its height seemed indiscernible. Mal tried to raise the sheet so that it could capture the creature better than his eyes.

Nothing but tentacles. A better view could not be found. The captain and Brax had the best view so he watched and waited on them. What kind of world was Alpha-seven? He wondered if they would find swimming birds. It seemed anatomically impossible and contradictory to the laws of physics. Or rather, the laws of physics as he had known them. The floating fish could be explained, but swimming birds, now that was something to look forward to.

The captain’s voice came on the comms, “Everyone, get back to the ship. We'll reconvene in the dining room in an hour. Don't be late."

“Aye Captain,” Mal nodded as she glanced at him.

The group dispersed, Mal would have struck up some conversation with the cook or the doc, but he decided the dining hall would be a more appropriate locale. Down the brush and onto some steady ground filled with grass. A throb of pain jolted his cut finger, and he had to shake it until it was numb again. Mal left the rocket launcher with the soldier, he’ll probably return it to the armory, he thought.

He wandered down a different trail led by his panel’s navigator system. The little orange spots dispersed as he approached them. Mal spotted several glowing purple caps that could be this world’s equivalent of mushrooms. He had a brief thought about his days back in university, and he remembered why he would never do mushrooms again. The nav system’s blinking tone interrupted his thoughts and he continued on.

As he neared the ship, he watched as little orbs departed from the opening like metallic pollen from a steel flower. Their multicolored scanning beams washing over him as they whirred past him. They disappeared beyond the forest behind him.

Mal waved at them as he knew they were sort of like the ship’s eyes, “Vladimir,” he addressed the ship AI, “Can you get me a systems scan and a status report on the engine? I had to repair a damaged panel in there.”

The setting changes from Alpha-Seven to Vladimir

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"Everyone, get back to the ship. We'll reconvene in the dinning room in an hour. Don't be late."

He did not have to be told twice. Nico rolled from his hiding place, unceremoniously rising from his knees and legging it over to the ship's entrance. Safe inside, he was able to calm himself as he walked to the kitchen. He still had a perpetual tingle going down his spine, as though the octopus-tentacle-thing had somehow followed him inside without his notice, ready to pounce on him the minute he turned his back. Standing at his counter, he removed his satchel and took a few deep breaths. The Vladimir was probably protected. He'd be fine until the Captain ordered him to charge the creature head-on, which given the way his day had been so far wasn't completely out of the question.

First things first. He removed the samples he'd taken from the plants and started the machine at the back of his kitchen. In a few hours he'd have more of an idea of what parts were edible, if any. Then, he went through his storage, making a mental note of the inventory and picking out a few things for lunch. Or breakfast. Food, anyhow. His suspicions that the storage was inadequately stocked was soon confirmed, which worried him a little. The fish seemed out of the question, and he had no more harpoons to try out on the octopus. So far the plant was their greatest hope for a fresh meal, and according to his investigations it would be a boring meal at best.

Even so, he got the cooker started, deciding on a nourishing stew to get everyone's energy up and running. He made a few reasonably sized portions (saving, saving, saving) and got out the plates while the stew boiled. Then, deciding not to chance carrying the plates by himself, he went looking through the equipment storage. Eventually he found a two-floor trolley, the top tray of which he put the plates. He turned down the heat on the stew to let it simmer for a while, and prepared some refreshing drinks, which he put on the bottom tray.

As soon as the stew was finished, he filled the plates and pushed the trolley in front of him into the dining room, a little before an hour had passed.

"Anyone hungry? I made a little something," he said, gesturing to the meal in front of him.

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Character Portrait: Nico Armitage Character Portrait: Annika Braun Character Portrait: Braxston Hughes Character Portrait: Celcius Vladimir Character Portrait: Malacahi Yao
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Brax understood as he initiated Tactical Retreat protocols soon his HUD displayed his mini-map with an highlighted escape route. Brax quickly bowed out before those tentacles could reach as he did so he absent-mindedly grabbed the launcher in mid motion. Soon he was bounding down the specified route the A.I. had calculated for him. It seemed his helm factored in certain terrestrial features as he found himself sliding down a hillside. He may have broke off far from the main group but it did place considerable distance between him and the creature and at a much quicker rate than on foot. As he bobbed and weaved through some thick foliage he could see the hull of the ship. It seemed this route was a quick one as well, the A.I. had it's moments.

As he approached the ship he noticed the Probes flying off in all directions with a decent concentration heading towards that creature. The Captain must have ordered them to, which would be a good idea the machines can provide better reconnaissance than the rest of them. He entered the Vladimir, the crew was definitely abuzz from the events of today quite the first day this has turned out to be. Brax headed for the Armory to dispense of his weaponry and armor, while it bares no weight on the soldier it does feel stuffy after awhile. Nothing quite like breathing fresh air through your own mouth.

Afterwards the Ex-Soldier rejoined the others in the dinning hall, awaiting to hear from the Captain. Once inside he could smell the pleasant aroma of something being cooked. It seems like Nico was up to something but what that thing was he wasn't sure. Then the Cook came in pulling along a trolley of whatever concoction he created. Brax stood up as he headed over to the trolley, it looked like some kinda of stew but at this point he really couldn't care. It smelt decent and it looked as edible as anything he's ever eaten and he's lived off of MREs. "Smells good, thanks." Brax spoke as he helped himself to a plate.

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Character Portrait: Nico Armitage Character Portrait: Annika Braun Character Portrait: Braxston Hughes Character Portrait: Celcius Vladimir Character Portrait: Malacahi Yao
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#, as written by Byte
Don't have to say that again...'

And on that note, the doctor followed the crew back to the ship. Probably glad to not have a chance at wrestling the giant tentacle things, wouldn't end well, she figured. Then again, the captain ordering a retreat was probably just a delay of the inevitable and they'd be having a second encounter as soon as questions were answered.

Speaking of, she wondered what this meeting had to do with her.

"Not much, I guess..."

And as she caught the Vladimir in view, Annika paused for a second to follow the little drones flying outward and into the forest, presumably scanning for anything remotely interesting. Captain was on top of things, huh?

There wasn't much to do on the ship. Doctor's life was pretty boring when nobody was sick. Or unconscious. Or dying horribly of a gaping chest wound, and so Annika found herself wandering around the ship with mild curiosity of what the others were doing in their one hour break.

'Cook's probably making dinner. Mal's engineering. Cap's running around planning our next endeavour, and Brax is...' Busy being big and lumpy, apparently.

It felt rather depressing when Annika realised she had even less to do than a hired gun.

And after a grueling hour had almost passed, most of the time spent watching other crew members scurry about looking busy, she arrived in the dining hall looking even less ecstatic than she had been before. "So, what's that you've been brewing then?" The doctor asked as she eyed the questionable stew.

"Which one's mine?"