The Cryogenic Cryptographer

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OOC Date: August 02, 2011
IC Date: March 06, 2128

(Backdated log.) One of the ship's communications specialists 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.

Jet hits the ground with an unceremonious thud, all 5'11" of her hitting the floor like a ton of bricks. She doesn't do anything for a long moment - not even breathing. And then it comes. The first long breath that she takes is a gasping one, high-pitched and reedy. The redhead slowly lifts her eyes and begins to peer around the room, laboriously having opened them. She takes in a few gasping breaths before she nearly whimpers in response to being awoken. She tries to sit up, limbs shaking with the effort. Her tremoring hands go to her green eyes and cover them in an effort not to be burdened by whatever light is in the room. Finally she's able to sit up enough to pull her knees to her chest, cradling them with her arms as she tries to adjust to the pinprick sensations spreading over her limbs, her mind racing with thoughts. "Please tell me that there's a juicy steak or five with my name on it," the woman says to the room at large. Her stomach rumbles loudly, a sound which almost echoes.

The sickly green light of the stasis room is broken up by shadowy gaps where a few of the tubes have already been emptied out. Of the 220 familiar pods with their happy nano-goo - the same liquid responsible for cold and wet feelings, if nothing else - roughly 35 are vacant, black gaps that break up row after row of sleeping crew. And then there is Commander Eisley, who stands a few steps clear of the splatter zone, ever mindful of her shiny, shiny shoes. "Good morning, Chief," she greets with her customary calm, as if this awful wake-up were, in fact, no big deal. The good news is that she has a towel, though she delays stepping up to hand it over just yet. "There is, in fact, food waiting for you in the mess. It helps clear up a lot of…" She gestures with one hand. "…that."

Jet slowly finds her way to her feet, pushing herself off the ground with her palms. After she's managed to support herself on her own two feet, she looks briefly for a moment as though she might fall. A look of queasiness passes over her face for a split second before it's gone again. The woman glances over to the Commander, her eyes widening. She reaches out for the towel and licks her lips, thinking better of it only too late. She wipes at her face and furrows her brow, scowling at herself. "I feel like I was just born again, but it was hardly a religious experience. At least that clears up a few burning questions I had about the entire process," Jet muses in a wry tone, her voice rasping at first before it sounds normal. The tall redhead shakes her limbs out and shifts from foot to foot as if she's warming up for exercise. She shivers a little as she looks at Commander Eisley. "I think there's some goo in my ears."

Eisley does appear to be waiting to make sure that there isn't directional fire nausea involved in this particular wake-up. It's not until that last queasy moment rises and then quells that she finally makes with handing over the towel, which sadly is slightly rough and, er, exfoliating. "All of that will clear up," she assures. "It goes away over time, though the worst effects are helped along by a shower and a hot meal." She offers the ghostly second cousin of a smile. "Why don't you take care of those? Report to my office in two hours and I will debrief you."

To the other woman's credit, she doesn't seem to give a flying whatzit about how rough the towel is. It's warmer than the goo she's been preserved in for the last whoknowswhat. She rubs it against her face and wraps herself in it, shivering again. "Thank you, Commander, I will." Jet attempts something like a salute and starts to perhaps confusedly head in the direction of the exit. She initially starts to walk a little too fast, her legs trembling before she slows it down and presses her palms along what walls she can find in an effort to keep herself standing upright. At least the Chief Petty Officer has had the common decency to wipe the hand off…

//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.//

No matter how one envisioned coming out of stasis, that was probably not it. There just was not enough pomp and circumstance, not enough technicians orbiting the pod to make sure that everything was all right, not enough activity, period. In fact that seems to generally describe the whole ship. It's quiet, too big for the thirty-plus people that are awake, and so it's entirely possible for the communications specialist to have gone through this whole process without encountering another living being. Even the mess hall is staffed by robots. Of course, Eisley's office might be reassuring, since that great big screen that pretends to be a window on the back wall is clearly occupied by the beautiful curve of a blue-green planet, trailing wisps of clouds etching graceful patterns over its surface. That's reassuring, right? The XO sits with her back to that, reviewing something on a data pad.

Having divided both of her hours equally between a long shower in which the water eventually ran cold and cramming her face full of whatever food the robots had to offer, Jet has arrived punctually when Eisley said that she should. Maybe the stasis wiped out the last bits of the young woman's defiance issues after all. Or perhaps service has hard coded some things into the girl's head. Whatever the case may be, Jet wanders in wearing her duty uniform, hair still wet from the shower but pulled back into a thick knot at the nape of her neck. Her facial expressions speak of some measure of uneasiness; clearly she's perturbed at how empty the ship really is. She looks reasonably more put at ease when she sees the Commander. "Commander?" She asks, as she takes a few more steps forward. "Chief Petty Officer Stanwick reporting for briefing."

As the doors slide open Eisley looks up, and after a beat gives a single nod of acknowledgement. The datapad is darkened and put to the side, freeing her up to rest her wrists against the edge of the table and to fold her hands together. All but the index fingers: those steeple, tips tapping once or twice in pensive rhythm. "At ease," says she, first of all. After a momentary pause she goes one step further than that, with, "Please have a seat." Never renowned for her warmth - and in fact rumored among the crew pre-stasis that she has titanium sewn into the back of her uniforms - she now transcends her starchy Command Presence, having attained a kind of grim serenity.

Jet takes the nearest offered seat and takes a minute to fidget about, as if sitting down is something new and foreign to her. Evidently she's still getting over some of the effects of having been a CryoPop. The redhead is silent, looking more stoic than anything. She's not dense; obviously she knows that the lack of human beings aboard a ship this size is bad news. Her eyes are focused and determined as she watches the Commander, waiting for that bad news to be brought to life on the lips of her superior.

Bad news would be an understatement. Eisley is quiet for another moment after that, quiet that stretches out a little bit ominously in the wake of these circumstances. It passes as she inhales. "Approximately two months ago, circumstances necessitated the awakening of the senior crew. Due to these circumstances well beyond our control, we have been forced to alter course and change plans. Although the mission remains essentially the same - to find a suitable site for colonization and facilitate our civilian cargo in that - the original site, New Eden, is no longer an option." Which means of course that.. "The planet you see on the screen there is Corona Solaris Two, a large class M planet in orbit around the binary stars of the Corona Solaris system."

The Chief Petty Officer may not know exactly about what is going on even now, but she's still aware that the words 'alter course' do not ever equal happy fun times. Much less so when New Eden is suddenly no longer an option. Some visible mixture of tension and disappointment cloud the woman's features as she glances to the screen to look at the aforementioned planet. "Wonderful," she murmurs mostly to herself, in the tone that someone would use after seeing an ex-boyfriend at a restaurant with another girl. She reaches up to rub at the bridge of her nose before sucking in a breath. "Circumstances. Bloody circumstances." Jet bites her lower lip. "I'm sensing a disturbance in the Force. There's a catch, isn't there?" She'll be shocked if there's not.

"This system is located in the Corona Borealis Supercluster, approximately 500 billion light-years from Earth." Eisley should win an award for being able to deliver that statement as mildly - as calmly - as she does. But there it is, in the same casual tone that she might use to explain that she stopped at the corner store for milk on her last morning jog.

The lower lip that Jet bites has suddenly become a little bloodied. She's bitten right through the skin, her eyelashes fluttering. She scarcely seems to feel the pain from it. She does however stare at Eisley like the woman has grown a second head. "Five hundred BILLION?" She asks the woman, her fingernails digging into the sides of her seat. "That's quite a Goddamned catch, pardon me for saying. So… that's it, then? Any other bombshells I should know about? How about cannibalistic hostile lifeforms, or maybe we'll find out that the only water on the planet is deadly to humans and will burn a hole right into our esophagus and intestines?" Jet poses rhetorically.

"Funny you should mention that…" Eisley lets out a breath of her own and turns slightly in her chair, rolling it back several inches so that she can almost look over her shoulder at the pretty curve of the planet behind her. "Today is March 6th, 2128," which is about four years short of the estimated time of arrival at the original destination. "The Genesis was interrupted en route to New Eden by a small ship of Giver design. It was very little more than a probe, sent to deliver us a message and a warning. They warned us not to proceed to the planet because they were certain it had been compromised." Still calm, still neutral; in another life she could have gotten a job as a narrator or a phone menu operator. "The Givers had been hunted almost to extinction by a race commonly referred to as the Devourers because they are, in fact, cannibalistic hostile life forms." Full stop. "In an attempt to save the last remnants of their own kind, the Givers offered these Devourers the location of a backwater planet infested with a technologically challenged, self-destructive species. Almost immediately afterward they succumbed to collective racial guilt and sent the signal to earth. Their hope was that we would have enough time to build as many as ten of the ships that they sent us plans for, and in doing so save as many as ten million of our people." Again with the math. Ten ships, ten million… or one Genesis, and 100,000 civilians.

It takes Jet a long while to digest this information. Though her eyes are staring at the Commander, her gaze is obviously far away. The redhead ceases to do anything but listen at some point in the middle of the Commander's explanation. After a moment, she lets out a breath that she'd been holding and takes in another long one, her jaw setting tightly. "Devourers. Well. At least their racial name is something straight up. No guessing what they do with a moniker like that, is there?" She asks. Then comes a short, bitter laugh. "I'm assuming that once again, things didn't necessarily go as planned after that. I notice a distinct lack of actual human life aboard the Genesis, Commander." The woman visibly bites her tongue, holding another comment back. She finally breaks her gaze in order to stare back at the screen with a mixture of strange fascination and fear crossing her face.

Eisley tilts her head as if in answer to that. "We could not return to Earth. A single transmission was sent from Alliance HQ, ordering us not to go back. So we went forward, through a wormhole." And lo, now they are here, far, far away from anything familiar. "Other members of the crew are being awakened on an as-needed basis. We have had some contact with one of the alien races native to this galaxy. They are, in fact, the reason that we located this planet so quickly."

The woman leans forward in her seat as if she might be sick. This is all happening a little fast for the tall Chief Petty Officer. She takes in a few deep breaths to regain her composure. "A wormhole, like Alice through the rabbit's hole…" She comments absently before staring up at Eisley. "Alien races native to this galaxy." It's repeated, sharp on Jet's tongue. She shakes her head as if in denial. "I'm sorry, Commander. I knew that… sometihng bad had happened when I woke up. But I didn't expect this. Please, tell me it could somehow be worse. Not that it is worse, but that it could be worse." Then the conversation takes another sharp turn in a different direction. "Alien languages?" Dingdingding, we have a reason for living.

What could be worse? Shouldn't ask the XO. A very thin smile flickers into existence, wan and wary at the same time. "Of course it could be worse, Chief. When we came through the wormhole they could have shot at us, instead of the Devourer fleet that arrived shortly before we did." She pauses for an instant, then goes on. "All of this is a matter of public record, stored in the ship's archive. You may review it at your leisure, if you desire." Another beat of silence is followed up by a little nod. "The Two - the native race - do have a written language, which Seaman Shevchenko has been working diligently to crack with her Rosetta program. She has been at it for weeks though and I imagine your assistance there would prove invaluable. However, for the next 48 hours you are effectively on leave, or light duty detail if you cannot manage to sit on your fingers and do nothing. You need time to let the rest of the stasis effects wear off, and you should visit the medlab and let them check you out."

Judging from the look on Jet's face, it would seem she's heard enough. Records won't be viewed. Not until much later - or until her curiosity gets the best of her, which could be soon given the forty-eight hour leave or light duty. The redhead stares over at the Commander and nods once. "I'll have to talk to Seaman Shevchenko then." Her tone is more composed and professional than it previously had been, nearly verging on the early stages of a total meltdown. "I'd love to get my hands on it…" And yet being sequestered to light duty does not provide much leeway. "Thank you, Commander, for your briefing. I hope that I'll be valuable to you… and the rest… in this mission." At the mention of the medlab, Jet wets her lips with her tongue and nods curtly. "I suppose I should." A silence overtakes Jet, one that seems to denote she has no other comments or questions for the XO at this point and time.

"Very well," answers the XO. She inclines her head on emore time as if to acknowledge that twitchiness and possibly the conspicuous lack of other comments or questions. "Dismissed." It would seem that she has no further bad news to deliver, too, which could be a blessing.

Jet gets to her feet and salutes the Commander once before turning on her heel and exiting, any shakiness that was in her steps having dissipated, replaced with twitchy, nervous energy likely brought on by the food reintroduced to her system and the news that it's the end of the world as we know it.

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