Once he had finished dealing with the instructions for Lisa to give the rest of the crew, the Captain returned to Lime, speaking in a low voice so only heandshe could hear.
"I would tread carefully if I was you, Lime" he said quietly but firmly, looking the crelm straight in eyes "We may be far more informal than the regular army in the Diplomatic Corps but the rules about respecting your superiors still apply here. If you knew what you were talking about then you'd know there was no opportunity to "take charge" at the time the ship's software was being designed, my job is to specifically to be the highest on-board authority for this tour of duty. Providing and updating equipment is others responsibility so next time you have a complaint, go tell someone who can actually do something about it, okay?"
"Understood I won't come to you with problems you can't solve again."
Problem with the Crelm. Their language is designed to work across their full visual range and down into gradations most races couldn't notice so exact tone and inflection can be hard to distinguish even for people that have lived with them for yeah. As such things like sarcasm often slip under the radar. Then again so does genuine spite as for which it is now it's anyone's guess.
Lime considered it best not to comment on the clear problems this place had with discipline. Those could be saved for later.
Thor shook his head, palm to his face at Limes retort before passing it off. "Seems the bottle didn't break for this ship" His grizzled voice rang across to the Captains chair.. "If you know what I mean. I've had a run in with a ship in the same ill fated shoes, well much worse off than a little saboteur". Thor leaned up against a consol. "We tossed that murderous battle beaten piece of scrap into an ice moon before anything else happened. I'll place my chips though in the faith that this is just a bit of air in the hydraulics so to say. Hope you'll bet with me to Captain, and lady luck will smile upon us once we really get in the thick".
Nate struggled with the overflow of injured patients. Grabbing a nurse he pointed at the beds full of injured patients. "Set up triage. I can't deal with everyone at once." Nate pointed at an uninjured human male standing near the door. "I need you to put pressure on this man's wound. Can you do that?" The man nodded. Nate radioed the bridge "Captain, we can't help everyone with the current manpower. Can you send anyone that has any form of medical training here, ASAP!"
"Good to hear, corp" Captain Vance replied to Lime and he turned his head towards Thor. "This ship is meant to be designed and fitted with the latest SU tech, and staffed by people to match so I hope we won't need lady luck... but I get the feeling this won't just be a textbook mission. Norg especially aren't your typical race, there was this one time on Apleeloss... huh?"
The Captain saw on the screen that he was receiving an incoming message from Nate, he picked up the receiver hoping there would be news on the identity of the saboteur. He listened for a few moments and then sighed.
"I'll get Lisa to send out a ship-wide request for anyone with medical knowledge and give them permission to travel through the lockdown, meanwhile we can't afford to delay the ID of the saboteur's body. Prioritise that over all injuries except those that are life-threatening, understand?"
Aside from the happenings around him, Tom opened the comm to Demexin. "Right, the deck is pressurized, but we still need to wait for the scrubbers to go over everything in case some material afflicts the crew."
"Got it. And make sure you tell that Lallow to fix the priorities on her little AI. Honestly, telling us about an air leak before the part about a terrorist and potential explosive decompression?"
Tom shrunk into his seat. "Er, yes, I'll let Kalade know."
"Make sure you do. Because if you don't, I'll know. And then I'll find you."
"If you'll allow me to interject the fault is mine and I'm reprogramming myself now."
There was Lisa's voice again over the intercom.
"There is no need to get Emilie involved. Too late I'm already involved, I've put a subroutine whenever Lisa says my name I'm instantly contacted and I'll begin work on it right away. Actually Emilie might I make a suggestion? Go ahead. Shouldn't I switch my voice somehow? With you voicing me it's hard to tell when I start and you end. Fair enough go ahead."
"Very well I've stripped away the emotional inflection from my voice." Ok that was clearly Lisa at least.
"Ok now that silliness is out of the way was there anything else or should I go back to coding?"
"Is it really New Years? Humph, Earth's rotation goes a lot faster than Poravan's. Kind of funny that the tradition still holds up after a few thousand years."
Tom spun his seat around to look at Thor in the pilot's chair. "Thor, you're not an Earth Born either, are you? Does New Maya have any orbit celebrations?"
"Lime, is it?" Til asked quietly. She had received the call to come to the bridge and made her way there as quickly as possible, arriving just in time to see Lime's conversation with the Captain. "If the captain asks you for respectful, then it's usually an idea to treat him as asked, and not address him with that tone of skin." she said pleasantly, a calm, mediating blue rippling through her.
Turning from the crelm, she gave Vance a polite nod before speaking. "I was called sir? I assume this is about the pressure leak. Why am I needed?" she asked. What could have happened? Was something odd about it? Why would that necessitate her skills? Had someone seen a friend or relative hit by the leak? How would they have survived if that were the case? She needed to know.
The Captain placed the receiver back down once he had finished speaking to Nate, then listened with a shake of his head to the conversation between Kalade and her AI.
"Aside from being similar to Kalade's, your voice isn't that bad Lisa," he remarked "Try being stuck on one of the PC default settings that come preinstalled, gems like old Tweggish woman or little Haizuan girl, without a break for an entire week. In the end we locked the software engineer in the computer room and wouldn't let him out until he found a fix."
Captain Vance laughed to himself at the recollection of this, then turned and cracked an eyebrow up at the Astrid standing before him.
"Ah..." he replied to her question "I don't know if you've heard yet, but it appears that the pressure leak was caused by a saboteur, who is now unfortunately deceased. I'm calling a meeting for all qualified Diplomatic Corps on-board, except those engaged in important duties, to discuss the implications and whether there's any more possible danger. You're the ship counsellor yes? Perhaps when we finally get an ID on the body, you can help shed some light on their motivations."
A saboteur? Til thought to herself, her shocked lavender giving away her surprise, not that she intended to anyway. "I can't say anything for sure, but it's not the sort of thing you do idly, so it has to have been planned, and something that violent isn't likely to be suicide linked, so that's not too likely. My best guess right now, without any further information is either revenge, terrorism or religious motive." she said. "What do we know about the perpetrator?"
"So far, we know that he was human, and he apparently was caught in his own blast. We don't know if it was intended as a suicide attack or just an accident on his part."
Til was one of the few people on board who didn't make Tom jumpy when talking.
Thor snapped back to reality after revisiting past memories. "Ahh sorry Tom, old thoughts. Ya they do the whole new years bag. More drinking and fighting though than any of you would care to like. Fun if your into that". Thor wholly was, he was born to do both. "Changing subjects back to the averted crisis. If I may add my two cents. I'd rule out revenge. You don't need to destroy a whole ship if your just after one person. Theres much more effective.....". Thor cut off for a moment. Murder isn't something diplomats like to hear. "Ways. I'd put it at the latter two Til. Lota nut bars out there who don't like humans and aliens working together.
James removed his helmet, as did the rest of the men, and took a deep breath. The air in the tank was very dry, so he welcomed the humidity of the ships atmosphere. He was about to begin the long journey back to engineering to remove his suit when Lisa's avatar flickered into existence on a nearby terminal.
"James Bergmann, your presence has been requested on the bridge."
James sighed. No rest for the weary. he thought to himself. "Alright, tell 'em I'll be there ASAP." He hurried back to engineering to change. Can't present yourself to the Captain in a dirty spacesuit, now can you.
"I wonder if it was the C.O.L. Even after the excisions, they've still caused trouble out in the colonies. It'd be just like them to try a depressurization stunt. Kill the crew, and then steal the ship. Not the smartest idea, but the League has never been the smartest group out there."
Mae tapped his knee quickly as he entered the bridge. He still wasn't used to space travel, or the ship. It had taken him far too long for his liking to get to the bridge, and the constant noise of the halls was starting to annoy him. He welcomed the quiet of the bridge and saw the Captain currently in the midst of a conversation with several of the crew mates.
Damage report, no doubt. He thought to himself, and with that he knew he was going to have to wait his turn. He clenched and relaxed his long fingers, feeling the material on his suit as he did so. A pang of homesickness hit him, though it was more the atmosphere he missed than his home. The suit bothered him greatly, it couldn't be taken off for more then a minute or else he would suffocate, he had to replace the pouch on his bottom half every two days, and have it cleaned. He was starting to liken it to a prison. Though again and again he reminded himself, If I have to be put in prison to be given the greatest of freedoms, so be it. It was a novel saying, true, but he hoped it would be a time honored quote by the time he retired and given his memoirs up for broadcast.
Mae stood silently for a time, his eyes closed and his hands rested on his knees, lost in his thoughts.
Lime eventually realised that the blue wasn't a threat; luckily before anything had happened (it's similar to the human's reaction to red because the blue is the natural colour of super shellfish shells.)
Lime had been able to lip-read most of the conversation going on.
"So how many casualties do we have so far? Surely we've records of all the crew and we should be able to use process of elimination to limit our pool of suspects. Then we can get psychological profiles on anyone we suspect and work it out that way."
"Lisa, check the crew manifest, and then run the biometric scans to see if the ID tags are still on the ship."
"Of course, Mr. Anderson. One moment...... scan initializing..... complete. No loss of life detected regarding any registered crewmembers. Six injuries caused by electrical faults are currently being treated by Doctor Harris in the infirmary."
"Lisa?" Kelade began.
"Have you considered running a vector scan on any of the debris?"
"Yes I did."
"And the results."
"Not the best."
"Your language filter's on again?"
"Override phoenix. So how bad is it?"
"It's terrible news, I managed to find another camera that was taken off in the blast. It seems relatively intact and I can start mining data from it as soon as it comes back in range."
"And? You haven't given me the bad news yet."
"No, sorry. But I'm getting to it; it was blown into earth's gravitational pull."
"No, it should be heat resistant enough to survive re-entry and all ship equipment has a Parra-shoot activated by rapid acceleration."
"Well what then?"
"I'd already have told you if you hadn't have kept asking."
"For the record that apology was another delay. Now the camera will most likely have landed in Biraydian is a fortress on the freedom isles. It's an old follower's settlement. They have a temple there. Records indicate it was a major trading hub for species-isolationists, the region is freezing cold on the surface but there are several trenches protected from the winds. That's where the followers live. Unfortunately I can't pinpoint the exact impact location."
"Hmmmm..." The Captain listened to the conversation between Kalade and Lisa about the missing camera with interest, then interjected when the AI had finished explaining what she knew.
"Think it's worth bothering to search for it? I hope it won't be necessary if we get an ID from Dr. Harris, however from what I saw it looks like the saboteur's face was a little messed up by whatever happened so I suppose this could help. In the context of our mission though I wonder if it's worth the effort? Landing on Earth and trying to find this camera would take time when we're meant to be heading off towards the Uralian system to carry out our diplomacy."
The lift doors opened as James walked into the bridge. He had changed back into his uniform and was holding a bottle of flavored water. "Happy New Year." he said to no one in peticular, and then addressed the Captain directly. "Lisa said you wanted me, sir. Is this about the hull breach or is it DC business?"
Lime having not spoken in a while took the opportunity.
"The region is likely to be fairly well armed as well it would be a dangerous mission and that's ignoring the weather conditions. However we can't know how advanced these followers are if they have even a small amount of our tech capabilities they might be able to get valuable information from it. We aren't due to start the mission proper for a few days anyway and the crew could probably do with a test.
If nothing else destroying the camera should be considered necessary just for security. If this ship was at all armed we could simple send out an EMP or something and fry it. Or even just send out some sort of small projectile along the same vector. Sadly we aren't armed so I can't see any other option.
I might not necessarily be a battle. If only humans went and we were careful it might be ok but then we'd need to find a safe place to land and hide. Or if these diplomats really are as good as they say they are we might be able to talk them into handing it over."
"Lisa check everything heandshe just said."
"Ok Emilie, primary scans do show that they have one or two frost bite field generators. While not necessarily in operation they are a consideration. As for a landing spot there are a few places near the settlement. The most promising of which is a lake to the north of the trenches, even if the ice won't support my weight there are a few islands and they are hardly ever visited by locals if the lack of buildings are any indication. Of course it is the captain's choice in the end.
As for Mr Bergmann's question I believe both DC business and the breach are to be discussed."
Kalade was clearly considering.
"Well I'd be more than willing to go down."
"NO!" that was Lisa surprisingly, didn't know she was programmed to sound concerned.
"What's the problem?"
"It's a followers settlement they hate non humans."
"Well I am part human. Anyway I've only met a few people capable of other coming lallow charms and most of them were lallowens."
"It's too dangerous you can't go." Still emotional.
"No not this time."
The Captain nodded to James as the engineer approached him.
"Sadly, it's the breach" he answered whilst reading something on his computer screen "It's a lot worse this time than the minor leak we had last week, and it looks like we've lost the only recording in the cabin of what happened."
He then stood up and cleared his throat, everyone-else in the bridge falling to silence. After checking that his microphone was switched on so that everyone aboard would hear the message, he spoke in loud and clear voice.
"Alright, I know not everyone's here but this will have to do. I've just received an message from Dr Harris informing me that due to the condition of the body, IDing the saboteur won't be as straight-forward as he first thought, if it's possible at-all. It has also come to my attention that there was a camera around where the breach happened which may tell us more. The catch is that it was blown out when we depressurised the cabins and re-entered the Earth's atmosphere. Lisa's projections show that it's probably landed somewhere in isolated parts of the Freedom Isles. What I need are between three and six volunteers from any of the Diplomatic Corps aboard to take one of the smaller ships down and retrieve the camera if it's possible. So, who's up for a bit of action?"
Lime stepped forward first.
"Well I've got the most experience in combat and earth is my homeland. There's a lot of history to the freedom Iles, and they don't teach these things off world."
"MrandMis lime I should inform you the area was especially chosen to be hostile to crelm."
"I'll wear a suit." Said dismissively.
"Understood I'll start preparations."
"Now like I said we'll need a good team that knows how to take orders."
Kalade spoke up. "I'd be willing to come, the cold won't bother me."
"No you can't."
"Why not Lisa?"
"It's dangerous. Captain tell her."
"I'll signal the dock workers to prep Corona 1 for the mission." said Tom. "Any particular payload required for this job?"
"We should have the G-14 ready." James suggested. "If things get hairy down there, some air support might come in handy. If you want, captain, I could personaly oversee the preperations for the aircrafts."
Thor stepped up from the console he was resting on. "Captain, I volunteer to go down, provided if others don't want to. A pilot isn't much use when the ship doesn't need flying. And I can make sure everyones safe down there". He tapped his holster. "And especially Lisa's mommy, can't have our AI in emotional distress". Thor let out a good natured laugh.
"Emilie isn't my mother. That would just be weird. And while I appreciate your offer I'd still prefer it if Emilie stayed on the ship. After all she isn't trained for ground missions."
Muokilaxes stepped forward to where the Captain and the others had gathered. "Sir" he said " if there is a ground mission, I believe that I should accompany the ground team. It is well within my field of expertise, and it certainly has been to long since I saw some action." He smiled, and shook his mane a little, just hoping that someone would be brave, or foolish enough to try and stop him from recovering the camera, and with a group of people who hated his kind, this could just be his lucky day. "Now may I get a few items that may prove useful in this mission?"
Captain Vance gave the AI a stern look at it's protests for Kalade leaving the ship.
"Who's the captain of this ship again? Oh yes, me. This is the Diplomatic Corps, not a kindergarten, I'm not going to stop Emilie taking part in the mission because it might not be safe."
"Sorry Captain" Lisa replied without a trace of emotion "I retract my comments."
"Good. Just take the light armaments Tom, we aren't expecting anything too difficult down there. James, one suble G14 should be enough, it would be wise not draw attention to ourselves. The other four corps on this mission: Lime, Kalade, Muokilaxes and Thor, get whatever you need ready for when the Corona 1 leaves the ship in fifteen minutes. Any questions?"
Kalade held out her icicle inspecting it. "Will this suffice? It's pretty easy to conceal. And I'd prefer you didn't use my first name."
Lime rolled hisandher eyes (all of them at once which was quite an achievement.)
"She's treats it like a person and it treats her like one, hard to tell who's more wrong." This was said in ultraviolet so fewer people were likely to notice it. Then slipping into a more common spectrum.
"I've no questions; as soon as the AI's prepared my suit I'll be able to make the trek. Actually thinking about it my pressure ram won't function is these conditions so I'll require access to the armoury. "
James gave a slight nod. "Understood ,sir. I'll have both ships equipped with cloaking devises." he said, and walked out of the bridge towards the hanger.
On his way down the lift he had Lisa get the hanger crew together, and sure enough they where all assembled when he arrived. "Alright, here's whats up." James shouted, and the crew fell silent. "We're sending a small team down to the Freedom Isles in Corona 1 ,and Falcon 1 will be acting as close air support. I want both ships stripped down to light armor for speed. Falcon 1 will have flares, two .9 inch laser cannons, and incineration missiles. Both crafts are to be outfitted with cloaking devises. Get to work." A chores or "Yes, sir!" rang throughout the hanger, and the crewmen started working on the ships.
Muokilaxes grabbed his heavier military grade armor, this was how Ferrax were supposed to live, with their strength and ferocity, none of this sneaking around, as a few earthlings were about to find out. "Lisa" he inquired " what does the ship have for heavy infantry weapons"
"There is no heavy weapons, this is a diplomatic craft." replied Lisa.
"What about grenades?"
"There are no explosive or fragmentary grenades currently available, though there are standard nonlethal varieties."
"Then I'll take two of stun and one smoke"
Shortly after Muokilaxes aquided his grenades, he stomped into the landing bay, covered in heavy armor and carrying an assault rifle. If one thing could be said for Ferrax going into combat, they did nothing in half measures.
"Is everything filled up? I wouldn't mind going. It's awfully stuffy in here..." Underveen tugged at his clothes nervously. In truth, he was more scared of staying in then he was going out.
Captain Vance took a moment to add up the numbers in his head before replying to Underveen.
"There's room for one more in the Corona 1, you better hurry before the others leave though. I'll be staying up here with everyone-else to keep the recovery from the breach ticking over, go get get prepared now and I'll message James to inform him that you'll be coming along too."
The Captain turned his back on the Maskerade and began typing out a message for Lisa to send, meanwhile considering the logistics and possible risks of the mission that his corps were about to embark on.