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Warm Enough For You?

Posted on Mon Mar 25th, 2019 @ 9:20pm by The Narrator & Lieutenant Elias Madrid

Mission: S1E3: Moments Of Consolidation
Location: Landersfell, Carpathia
Timeline: MD4 5.00AM

Whilst the sun wouldn't rise for another hour and a half, the candy cane globe of the gas giant Tangerine Dream held court in the sky. Carpathia had no traditional night to speak up, instead of falling into a satin coloured twilight the natives were beginning to call Dream Time. And so with the horizon just beginning to light up with the approaching dawn, and the shadow's deepening, it was the perfect time to get work done.

The colony barge Acheron had come down hard, crushing its landing legs in a feat of flying that had saved the ship from certain destruction. So it wallowed in the sand like a beached whale, it's grey hull beginning to be sandblasted by the winds. A pair of construction mech, squat yellow spiders with tractor hoists on the end of their booms, were working on removing a large portion of the aft hull plate to reveal the damaged fusion plant within.

"Reminds me of Mars, you know?" said the man sitting beside Elias on the wing strut of the USS Titania. He had the lanky frame of a low gee native and held a cup of something steaming between his hands. "Of course they are still centuries away from a shirt sleeve environment like this, but I know some of the projections make Mars out similar in form. No Domes for us here."

He took one of his hands from the cup, and picked up a second beside the thermos he'd poured the tea from.

"Courtesy of the power cable being run from your runabout," he chuckled. "Don't worry. I steeped the tea. I'm not foolish enough to waste the wattage on replicating it. This is how we start the mornings on Solaris."

Lt. Elias Madrid didn't mind at all. "Thank you," he said eagerly as he watched the hot liquid fill the small cup. When it was poured he brought it up to his lips, savoring it in small sips. It was almost as good as a hot shower. That would have to wait for later, unfortunately .

Still, with tea in hand and the spectacular view of Tangerine Dream before him, Elias was enjoying the moment. This was the first time he had really taken it in. He had already been up for a couple of hours, recording a log entry and filling out other reports related to his assignment here. The dull, bureaucratic stuff that had to get done. Best to get it out of the way early so that the real work could begin.

"You've been to Mars?" He asked his companion. "I was there for three and a half years, working in the yards."

"Ahh, we shared the same sky for a time I think," he said with a smile and sipped his tea. "I was working on the Mars Terraforming Project or at least a part of it. We were attempting to create an atmospheric curtain that would reach from the surface to the atmosphere, allowing us to build a small self-contained cylinder of M class atmosphere. Then we just increase the side of the barrier. The Great Wall Of Mars..."

He shook his head.

"Never got off the ground. It would have needed to sink giant tap roots into the mantle to dig out raw material, and Starfleet was not keen to have an active self-replicating device so close to their shipyards or research facilities," he took a sip of his tea. He then turned to Madrid, and held out his hand. "My name is Sidim, Sidim Khan."

"I remember that," Elias said, shaking the man's hand. "You were on that team, eh? I always wondered why that never panned out. I read about it in some engineering journal when it was in the proposal stage." Then, realizing that Khan had given his name, he quickly gave his in return. "Elias Madrid." He took another sip from his cup. "What brings you all the way out here?"

"Politics, the same as all immigrants to strange lands. I espoused views to the Martian Ruling Council that their plans for terraforming Mars were too small minded, to meagre. A 5% atmospheric increase in three centuries? With more ambition, with more drive, you could have been orbiting a second Earth under the light of Sol. Imagine that. Watching the sunrise glint off an ocean lapping at the crater walls of Schiaparelli. The pastoral farmland of Arabia Terra. But the Alpha Quadrant is so full of M class worlds, there is no room for the art of planet scaping. But out here..." Sidim held out his cup to the satin tinged twilight.

"Out here a man can dream as big as he likes. This world is a desert now, but it is a desert of mystery," he looked at Elias out of the corner of one eye with a smile. "Allow me to test you. What is the most striking mystery of this world? The most blatantly obvious paradox?"

Elias thought about it for a moment. He hadn't been on this world long enough to notice any obvious paradoxes. What was there to say about it? Other than the way the Acheron had ended up here, it seemed fairly dull. "I don't know, maybe that a place that wouldn't get much notice in our own sector would be so important to us way out here?"

"Ahh but we have no choice but to be here. Shot out of orbit by the guns of our protectors," he held up a hand. "I know, I know. The Myriad controlled the USS Traveller and forced them to shoot us down. Makes for better poetry without the added layers, but the truth is rarely simple. Look around you young man. You have been here almost 4 days now, and have you seen some piece of greenery? One solitary plant, or evidence to that fact? And yet..."

He drew in a breath.

"Air. Not just disassociated molecular oxygen, but argon, nitrogen, hydrogen, enough of a chaotic mix of gases to ensure an atmosphere conducive to life!" he waved his half-empty cup at their surroundings. "What on this desert of a world could have brought about such a unique miracle than the very air we breath?"

Elias drew in a deep breath himself. "You're right. I hadn't thought about that. There's got to be vegetation somewhere. Some place we haven't mapped yet." There had to be, right? "Or maybe it's coming from somewhere underground. Venting through the planet's crust." Elias didn't actually know if that was possible or not. He was merely brainstorming. "Might be worth mentioning to someone in Planetary Sciences. Assuming we have someone who specializes in planetary science. I haven't met most of the other officers yet." He sipped his tea again, noting that it was already cooling off in the chilly morning air.

"Well I have a specialisation myself in planetary geophysics as well as terraforming, the two do go hand in hand. And I did hear tell that your station was loaning the Colony the use of a pair of runabouts for the task of performing a planetary survey," Sidim nodded to where the two construction crawlers here beginning the work of hauling the large fusion reactor out of the bowels of the Acheron. "What say you, bright and ambitious man that you are, that you might be able to wrangle me and a few other like-minded souls one of those survey craft? This world need's a hand on its tiller to become a home for us here, and the sooner we get started the sooner we are done. What say you to that?"

"Of course," Elias said with a nod. "My orders are to give you whatever support you need. We'll get them down here just as soon as you and your team are ready for them." And hopefully things aren't so much of a mess upstairs that they tell me they're needed for more pressing matters, he didn't add. "Besides, you're the most hospitable person I've met down here. I'm at your service."

"If only so many of my fellow colonists could see beyond their grudge. We are here now, and wishing for better circumstances will only make for a bitter brew," Sidim held out the thermos to refill Madrid's cup. "So many world's operate on the idea of competition being the driving force of nature. But in reality, it is cooperation that makes a world work. Symbiosis. The dung of the predator fertilises the grass of the prey. It is the same here, I believe. The Carpathian Way."

He chuckled.

"I'll have to write that one down."

Elias wrapped both hands around the cup to warm them. "Who here is predator and who is prey?" He said with a chuckle. "Never mind. I don't think I want to know." He took another sip of his tea, and thought it would be great if he had a buttered croissant to go with it. "You should write your thoughts down, Mr. Khan. You have a charming way of putting things. Do you have family here with you?"

"My wife and my two sons," he said with a note of pride in his voice. "They are still in cryostasis within the hull of the Acheron. At the moment a terraformer is needed more than a sculptress and a pair of 12-year-olds who give me only grey hair. And thank you, when I publish I'll be sure to put your name in the acknowledgements. But I know why I am here, and so do you. What brought you here to the ragged edge of knowledge? Earth is a long walk, and the Federation is behind a very thick wall to us now."

"Mostly I just wanted to get away from my last posting," the Starfleeter confessed. "It was dull. I heard about this one through the grapevine, and it seemed like an interesting challenge. That was before anyone us realized how messy it was going to get." He exhaled sharply and added, "Getting up here, I mean. I wonder if they have recovered the other modules yet."

"A worthy question, but if not Carpathia will live up to its namesake and offer refuge to those in need," Sidim said, finishing his cup. "And now I must depart you. I will contact my fellows and begin assembling them. Once your crew return with the other Modules, we can begin to solve this most intriguing of puzzles."

"Of course," Elias replied. He, too, finished his beverage with one final gulp and came to his feet. "Thank you for the tea. Most kind of you. I trust we'll run into each other again before long. Next time you can tell me more about terraforming." He grinned.

"I will bring my best," he grinned and slid off the wing, landing in the sand as nimbly as a cat. He looked up at Elias and grinned. "This will be the beginning of a grand adventure I tell you that much in confidence."

He then pointed to the sky, as a flash of light added two new stars to the fermanent.

"Your friends return, it is a good omen."


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