Good Morning Mr. Holtz

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OOC Date: April 23, 2011
IC Date: February 5, 2128

Chief Petty Officer Holtz is brought out of stasis.

Crew Stasis Hold - Deck Two

The sickly green glow of the stasis chambers provides most of the light in the cavernous hold - they make enough light on their own, little else is really needed. Two hundred and twenty such chambers are scattered about the hold, containing the entirety of the crew when they're in stasis, each roughly the size of a phone booth and cylindrical in shape.

While the majority of a stasis chamber is made of metal and contains all of the sensitive equipment needed to sustain the person within, the front is made of a high grade plexiglass that is completely clear, allowing a view of the person inside. One would almost think that they stand upright except that their toes do not touch the ground, instead they float in a greenish liquid that accounts for the color of the light coming out of each unit. The people inside wear only the minimum necessary - a version of tighty whities for the men, and the same plus a halter style top for the women. Numerous tubes and wires are connected to them at points all over their bodies, pumping in and filtering out liquid similar to the kind they float in. One of the elements of stasis involves removing all of the blood from the body and replacing it with a synthetic liquid that preserves the internal organs and bones and prevents the body from aging. The liquid they float in does the same for the skin, muscles and hair. Wires connected to the head and various parts of the body stimulate the muscles and brain to prevent atrophy and to keep the person in a hypnotized state of peace.

In addition to the stasis chambers themselves, the hold also contains several control and monitoring stations that allow manual operation of the stasis system when crew members are awake. One door is all that the hold contains, and it leads out to the central corridor of Deck Two.

Consciousness comes slowly, starting at the back of the mind and bubbling up like pockets of air in molasses. It seems to take forever. The first sense to come alive is the general sense of awareness, of being present in the here and now - wherever and whenever that maybe. Realization dawns that the body is floating, and the faint prickles of wires disengage in from the body follows shortly after. Warmth begins to flood in as blood returns to the body and synthetic preservative is cycled out. Tubes retract save for those in the nose and mouth that still provide oxygen. Bubbling and hissing fill the ears and the feet gradually touch the bottom of the chamber, the liquid draining away, and soon feet and legs support the body, or at the very least attempt to. Some may find themselves quite shaky despite the regular stimulation of the muscles. When eyes finally open, the world is blurry and vague. One sensation overcomes everything else.

The hunger.

Such hunger.

As another popsicle is taken out of the freezer, Dominic is already in the room, wearing his uniform minus the duty jacket and leaving the black t-shirt uncovered. He doesn't have the uniforms that he usually has with the Marines who undergo the same process. He sits back, leaning against the stasis pod of another crew member who has yet been unthawed and watches the process that the newest crew member goes through, not really having taken the time to sit and watch the process yet. He has his arms crossed at his chest and his legs crossed at the ankles. He looks pretty comfortable where he is.

The first thing Holtz notices, aside from the gnawing pit in his belly, is the sudden sense of vertigo. Without thinking, he tries to take a step — and promptly comes crashing to his hands and knees, coughing and wheezing. The coughs soon turn to heaves, as his unsettled stomach tries desperately to expel something that isn't there. The best he can manage is to expel a bit of phlegm. The wheezing continues briefly before starting to die away, as his body slowly starts to regain his equilibrium. Eyes squinting, he tries to raise his head and look around, but his still-weak muscles aren't in a mood to cooperate just yet. "Verdammt noch mal," he mumbles almost unintelligibly, still breathing heavily as his twitching body rests on the floor. Cold sleep is hard enough on a young, healthy body, and while Holtz might still have a tenuous claim on the latter, it's been some time since he could be honestly described as the former.

By comparison, Commander Eisley is the image of uniform perfection, every hair in place, boots polished, rank insignia leveled off. The only addition to that is a towel draped over one arm, an odd touch for the XO but very possibly a welcome one after saturation in green gunk and sudden exposure to the relative cool, dry air that pervades the ship. Her position of choice is several meters from the freshly opened pod, out of the splatter zone, which spares her exposure to flying drops of gel as well as anything that might make its way out of a six-year-empty stomach. The waking is witnessed with grim impassiveness, and she allows Holtz there a few moments to recover before approaching and clearing her throat. "Good morning," she greets, offering the towel.

As the Chief comes out of stasis, Dominic pushes off the pod he was leaning on and takes a few steps forward, his arms moving behind him, holding onto his wrist with his other hand. He lets Eisley take the lead as she out ranks him, but he keeps his attention on the other man in case he needs assistance standing, moving in behind the Commander.

Hopefully Eisley is a patient one, as for a minute or so there's no indication Holtz heard her or even knows she's there. Finally, though, he's regained enough strength to raise his head and take the proferred towel from the commander. "Danke," he says in a raspy voice, slowly wrapping his fingers around the towel and bringing it to his face. After a moment, he's managed to wipe the last of the stasis chamber's thick liquid from his face and get his bearings. The light of awareness slowly begins to return to his pale blue eyes, and he finally looks up at Eisley, his eyes squinting to focus. Just then, memories start flooding back into place, and his eyes flick around the room, to the still-occupied pods in the room. "What — where are we?" Eyes flick back to the commander. "When are we?"

Oh, she is quite patient. Most of the time. But then, Eisley has seen this many times already, not to mention having experienced herself. Those are valid questions, given much grounding in the fact that maybe thirty of the 220 pods here are empty, shadowy black spaces like missing teeth among the neat rows of glowing green tubes. "Today is February the 5th, 2128." Not 2132, the presumed date of arrival around New Eden. She pauses for a moment, then adds, "As for where… that is a more complicated answer, which I will explain in detail soon enough. For now, go find your quarters. Clean up, get dressed, visit the mess hall. Report to my office in two hours for debriefing."

Dominic remains silent as Eisley speaks, just watching the man as he answers and so the conversation goes. Once the Commander has given the Chief his duties for the moment, Dominic steps forward and speaks finally. "I'll escort you to the quarters, make sure you get to the Mess Hall and help you find your way back to the XO's office should you need the assistance."

Holtz's craggy Germanic features screw up in confusion at the date, and for a moment he thinks the cold sleep is still messing with his head. It's apparent he's heard correctly, though, and he slowly shakes his head. He looks as if he's about to ask more questions, but he stops with his mouth-half open as Eisley finishes. With a sigh, he reaches for the nearest surface and, with a bit of huffing and puffing, pulls himself to his feet. Those eyes flick to Dominic for the first time, as the lieutenant speaks up. Holtz gives the Marine a curt nod, and drapes the towel around his neck. "I know the way," he says to Dominic in a matter of fact tone. "Or I should, anyway."

Surely all of those unasked questions will be answered at some point later, someplace warmer, drier, and more hospitable than the stasis hold. The XO lifts an eyebrow slightly as if expecting some further comment then inclines her head, just once. "Two hours, Chief Holtz." There is little else to do here; satisfied that the man is at least mobile and non-vegetative, she turns to make good her departure.

XO's Office - Deck Three

Every good office is dominated by a desk and this one is no exception. The XO's desk is almost eight feet across, half that in width, a sheet of black glass that shimmers through with motes of color. Bits of it light up as needed, becoming brilliant controls that respond to a touch and then fade into nothing when not. Behind it sits a high-backed chair, sleek and black. Behind that is a plasma screen that occupies almost the entire wall, pretending to be a window that looks out into space when not otherwise in use. In front of the desk are two smaller chairs, also black though not as imposing. Black is a theme here; there is also a sleek black sofa set against one wall, ruining the perfect linear symmetry of the room. It matches the charcoal color of the carpet, and imposes in hard lines against the ivory walls.

The centerpiece of the XO's office is the luminous nebula on display behind her desk. The whole plasma screen - the whole wall, in fact - has been turned into a spectacular panoramic image of the Bubble Nebula, a surreal shape suspended in rich hues of blue and gold, surrounded by countless tiny, brilliant stars. The Commander herself stands in front of it, hands folded in the small of her back, studying it in much the same way that she might look out a window. It is effectively that anyway, even though the ship is nowhere near the point in space so featured. As the door whispers open she turns, looking only a tiny bit expectant.

Now with a full stomach and a fresh change of clothes, Holtz arrives at Eisley's office two hours after emerging from his long sleep. He enters through the door, stopping at the commander's desk. He doesn't cut as good of a figure in uniform as he used to, but he carries himself with the air of someone used to being in one. The engineer clears his throat to announce his presence, and when the commander notices him, comes to attention. "Chief Petty Officer Holtz, reporting," he says, his German accent heavy on his tone.

Now with a full stomach and a fresh change of clothes, Holtz arrives at Eisley's office two hours after emerging from his long sleep. He enters through the door, stopping at the commander's desk. He doesn't cut as good of a figure in uniform as he used to, but he carries himself with the air of someone used to being in one. The engineer clears his throat to announce his presence, and when the commander notices him, comes to attention. "Chief Petty Officer Holtz, reporting," he says, his German accent heavy. He's a direct one too; before Eisley has a chance to respond, he can't help adding "Why have I been awoken four years early, Commander? Is there something wrong with the ship?" To him, it seems the most logical proposition.

"At ease," intones the Commander. The question is enough to make her eyebrows lift a little bit, but only just: after a moment she shakes her head, the negation of this a terribly somber thing. "Please sit down." Eisley will do likewise. She draws out the chair on her side of the desk and sits, hands folding as her wrists come to rest just along the edge of that dark glass plane. "I do not believe there is anything wrong with the ship, though I will encourage you later to go over her systems and ensure that everything is in fine running order. I understand that you were instrumental in the reverse engineering of the plans that the Givers sent us."

Holtz's brow furrows slightly, but he sits as well. Scratching the tip of his nose in confusion, he leans forward; there's a nod when Eisley mentions the Givers. "Ja," he affirms. "When the message came, I was designing ships for General Dynamics. Earth Alliance hired me, a few others from the company, to join their team. I had experience with ships made for long-distance voyages from the war." Of course, going from Earth to Mars is a walk around the block compared to the trip Genesis was made for, but it's about as much experience as any human had. He scowls, remembering something else. "Then they pressed me back into service when the ship was commissioned." Holtz doesn't remember that particular conversation fondly, it seems apparent.

The scowl is overlooked; Eisley remains remarkably calm, approaching tranquil. Her gaze is sober, dark blue eyes fixed and watchful, observant of the man who sits across from her. "I imagine that you will find it in your heart to forgive them," says she. Then she exhales, the sound coming damnably close to a sigh. "As you have likely realized by now, all is not as it should be. We are not in orbit around New Eden, and we are four years ahead of our scheduled wake-up call." And are running on a skeleton crew, numbering roughly 30 of the 220 who were put aboard, but hey. ""About a month ago, Eve brought most of the senior officers out of stasis because an alien ship was picked up on long range sensors. It was a Giver ship, unmanned, bearing little but a transmission for the Genesis."

The chief petty officer grunts noncommittally, but any residual resentment is put aside for the moment as Eisley continues. Holtz's brow creeps upward as she talks, and he listens in rapt attention as the commander describes the encounter. "The Givers?" Her tone and demeanor seem to indicate to Holtz that it wasn't just a courtesy call, either; a sense of dread begins to tingle at the back of his mind; his mind starts generating potential scenarios, most of them varying degrees of bad news. He chases the speculation away, however, with a slight shake of the head. "What did they say?" he asks finally, in a dull tone. "Six years after we left - hell of a time to finally remember something they forgot to say the first time."

Eisley has an excellent poker face, if one can discount the slightly dull ache in her eyes. "Actually, what they sent was an apology." No scenario planning managed to envision this particular reality. "There was always rampant speculation about why the Givers gave us so much technology so freely, why we escalated from exploring and colonizing our own solar system to possessing the ability to venture out light years beyond Sol almost overnight. The Genesis plans - and everything that came with - were a guilt offering." She allows this to soak in for a moment, then resumes; she'd make a great narrator, voice clear, even serene. "The Givers, as a species, had been hunted almost to extinction by another race that they called the Devourers. In an attempt to save the last of their kind, they bartered with these Devourers, offering them the location of another planet, overpopulated by a race already bent on self-destruction, in exchange for the sparing of their last colonies. They reckoned that if we acted quickly, we could build as many as ten of the ships they offered us and send maybe 12 million of our people into space. They hoped this would be a number small enough for the Devourers to… overlook." This is a far, horrible cry from the 100,000 civilians in stasis aboard the ship now.

Holtz nods. He'd done a fair amount of that speculating himself, as had the others on the design team. His face tightens in dismay and disbelief as the commander continues. "Du verarscht mich," he breathes to himself as he studies her face, looking for any sign that there's been some sort of mistake… and sees none. When she finishes, he's still silent… but then there's another scowl as a look of sudden remembrance comes over his features. His lip curls. "Those idiots. Those damned bureaucratic fools," he snarls suddenly. "That's why the plans…" He trails off, fresh alarm on his face as he looks to the commander and puts two and two together. "You mean to say then… these Devourers, they found…" The question goes unfinished as fresh alarm appears on his face, the idea almost too terrible to contemplate. "Earth?" he asks finally.

Sadly it is not a mistake, nor does it seem to be the cruelest practical joke in history. The XO gives time for this to sink in as well, evidencing no surprise at that sudden flash of anger. "We received a single transmission from Earth, dated July of 2124. A decision was made on the highest level to build up arms to defend the planet; the Genesis was an afterthought, a backup plan they clearly were not expecting to need. When they realized they had made a mistake, they scrambled together a second ship, one-tenth the size of the Genesis, and launched it in what they prayed was time to escape before the net was closed around them…" Eisley shakes her head. "We have heard nothing more from Earth, and have no information on the status of the second ship. At this point we have no alternative but to move forward."

"You're right. I think I can forgive the Navy my reactivation," says Holtz after another long silence, in a feeble and macabre attempt at humor. Suddenly restless, the CPO comes to his feet and begins to slowly pace in front of Eisley's desk. "'Not expecting to need'." There's another shake of the head. "The fools," he repeats, this time more sadly, and he follows the remark with another muttered stream of cursing in German. "That does explain some things." Not that any of that matters now, of course. Finally, he looks back to the commander and nods. "I understand." He takes a long breath, and after a moment's hesitation, reluctantly settles back into his chair. "Now that I am awake… what can I do?"

Eisley smiles finally, the first really genuine expression she has been able to give thus far. It is humorless though, likely for obvious reasons. "Per standing protocol, you are remanded to light duty for the next 48 hours. This will help you re-acclimate after your time in stasis, and give you time to Drs. St-Sirois and Jackson, should you need." The Chief Medical Officer and the ship's psychiatrist, respectively. "There will be plenty of work, and plenty of time in which to do it. We have abandoned New Eden as a destination, on the grounds that it is likely a compromised site; after some consideration, Captain Ramesh has chosen to pursue a course through a wormhole, which we are… nearing. While Lieutenant Commander Kurokawa may have some plans for you, you will be tasked, primarily, with attempting to make sense of some recently acquired alien technology. Where we are going, we may very well need it." This does seem to conclude most of the information dump, allowing room again for more inquiry.

There's another slow nod from the older man at the mention of alien technology. "Of course. I would like to get to work as soon as possible." Yes, of course he knows about the 48 hour rule, but he's never liked waiting about when there was work to be done. When Eisley mentions the chief engineer, Holtz looks up as though he knows the name. "I will naturally check in with the commander when my light duty period ends." Or perhaps before.

Hence, surely, the application of light duty. The Commander can probably expect limited work but not a pure lack thereof, particularly under these circumstances. Eisley nods, but once. "Kurokawa should be expecting you," she verifies. "You can report to engineering at your leisure. Do you have any other questions, Chief Holtz?"

'Chief' Holtz. Now there's a name he's not heard in a long time. It's not much of a moment for nostalgia, though, as the engineer gets back on his feet and shakes his head. "Nein," he says shortly. "And if I did… given how the rest of this conversation has gone, I am not sure that I would want the answers." Another feeble attempt at humor, perhaps… but unlikely, given the severe cast to his features. With that, he senses an impending dismissal and comes to attention, flashing a salute that carries an impression of experience, albeit a distinct lack of polish.

It's far less a mouthful than 'Chief Petty Officer Holtz' anyway; some things just do not roll easily off the tongue. Again the XO smiles; again it lacks humor and warmth. "Both messages are on file in the ship's database. You may review them, if you like, and then you will know… all that there is to." That part is optional, given that she has probably distilled down all of the important bits and maybe taken the edge off. But yes, dismissal is coming. She returns the salute rather crisply, then tilts her head. "Dismissed, then." See?

Holtz snaps off his salute and relaxes. "I shall. Good day, Commander." With that, he offers the commander one last terse nod of farewell before he turns and makes for the exit. His tone is hollow, his gait stiff; though whether that's a legacy of his recent awakening or the mind-shattering news he's just been given is anyone's guess. Certainly, either is eminently possible.

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