Open Season on Sailfin

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OOC Date: August 10, 2011
IC Date: March 24, 2128

Various members of the landing party discuss their circumstances and the many ways a planet can kill you. The too-intelligent sailfins interrupt by conducting an experiment, which is met with a lethal response.


Corona Solaris 2 - Base Camp


A wide field of red-gold grass, miles across and miles wide. At the center is a vast lake of serene blue water. Forest-covered steps protect the plateau on one side, while steep mountains rise up on the opposite side of the lake. Two large white tents have been erected a short distance from the lake; three shuttles flank them, as do a row of generators.


The time since the appearance of the new creatures has been rather uneventful. The sun continues to shine brightly overhead thanks to the new day/night rotation. The camp seems to be slipping into a routine to keep themselves occupied. Dominic is off near the edge of the camp with a group of Marines who stand in formation. They appear to be doing some target practice on a makeshift shooting range they've constructed during the down time. The highest ranking Marine carefully studies each Marine's form, giving them advice as they fire off rounds down range. Other Marines continue to stand watch on the perimeter for anything hostile… except for the acid ants.

The acid ants aren't exactly hostile, just eminently self-defensive, having signed into some kind of insane mutually assured discussion pact with everything else. By night they're easy to see. During the day, though… Eisley's general order to not step on them stays in effect, for what little good it does. So does her order that keeps everyone within half a mile of camp, which is still a few minutes away even on one of the modified dune buggies. Speaking of Eisley, the XP emerges from one of the shuttlecraft about now with a cup of coffee in one hand. She stops at the end of the ramp to look around, maybe taking a mental headcount of who's within the circle of civilization and who is just visible way out in the grass.

Harry is seated outside the shuttle-infirmary, smoking a hand-rolled cigarette. His supply of them is limited, but hell, if they leave this planet and get back on the ship, he might not get a chance to smoke again. He's got the chair kicked back to lean up against the side of the shuttle, and he wobbles backwards and forward. He doesn't seem entirely idle. For one, he keeps twitching every time something moves in the bushes.

The sounds of the shots echo out over the open field as each Marine takes their shot. Dominic glances back towards the camp and spots Eisley taking her head count. He watches her for a few moments before he returns his attention to the men in front of him. They take a few more shots before Dominic finally dismisses the men who begin securing their weapons before dispersing back throughout the camp. Dominic heads back up towards the tents to where the others are, offering a nod in greeting towards Harry as he passes by the shuttle.

Eisley is evidently unaware of that extra attention, given that her own doesn't linger anywhere terribly long. The counting is silent but methodical, conspicuous only because she also spends a few seconds watching each individual and group present on the field. It is the doctor who is closest to her position though, and each startle is noted. Maybe they're even counted. "We haven't seen any tyrannosaurs yet, Dr. Graves." It's hardly a greeting; it might not even be teasing. Only after this observation does her attention wander back to the approaching Marine, and she lifts her mug in his general direction.

"Stealth tyrannosaur. Highly camouflauged. That's the way they work around here. Although, I'd take big and deadly over small and deadly any day." Harry takes a drag from his cigarette and rocks his chair forward. "Not exactly the sound of birds chirping, but oddly reassuring." He nods towards the Marines.

Dominic chuckles softly at the mentioning of Tyrannosaurs. He pauses somewhat halfway between the two. "We should try to capture a few of those and keep them as pets. They'd make excellent watch dogs. Better than the canines we use to use." He says towards the doctor before he moves to Eisley, offering his daily updates. "All watches report clear and nothing exciting. Still haven't seen any threats so far, which makes me a little nervous."

Since the big bads of the forest finally made their appearance shortly after dawn, none of the other forest animals have come back out. Was the stampeding herd of box lizards a fluke? Something done in the bravery of knowing that their primary predator was itself afraid of something bigger? There hasn't been a stampede since.

A sip is taken, allowing the XO to have the appearance of a thoughtful pause instead of giving up unwieldy silence. She doesn't quite smirk at Harry but the idea of it is there, just around the edges of her expression. "I suppose it depends on how big and how small. And I prefer canines. Those things are rather… unfortunate looking. In the next day or so we may have to start taking specimens for the science teams to analyze. Everything we've seen so far seems to be as much avian or reptile as mammal." She pauses for a beat, then adds, "Though since this is an alien planet we may need a whole new classification system."

"There is no 'may.' We do. I mean, we can make comparisons, say that something is…is similar to what we can fit into our frame of reference. But we can't classify these critters and judge them based on our knowledge of Earth." Harry makes a vague hand motion. "Sort of like how when the explorers came to the New World, they named a bunch of shit after what it looked like back home. Most of the time, the things bore no relation, at least when you looked beyond the surface."

Dominic glances back towards the Doctor, smirking slightly and nods. "Well thankfully that's not my job, so I don't have to worry about naming things, but if you wanna name something after me, I won't stop you." A soft chuckle escapes before he looks back to Eisley. "I think we should start designing and constructing some walls and defenses for the camp. While we're able to see things coming from a distance, there might be some predators that we won't see coming."

"Yes, well. I'm afraid of what people will start calling things if left to their own devices…" Eisley slides a look over to Dominic as she says this, one brow lifting a twitch as though to indicate some point without having to speak the words aloud. It isn't a no, however, and she sips again before speaking. "I really think we should hold off on most of that, anyway. I believe it will help our civilian contingent to feel more at home if they can participate in some of those things. As for walls…" She glances around at the wide-open space. It's a prairie. There's a lot of red-golden grass, and not much else for a long, long way. "Do we have materials for wall construction, or will you need to take a shuttle to the jungle to cut down trees? If we're going to stay here for any great length of time, it might be prudent to see some more of the surface before we commit to building anything."

"We can't really commit to this being an ideal site when we don't know the weather patterns or what might eat us that might migrate into the area if it's not here already." Harry darts a paranoid look around. "I mean, I know flat land is convenient and all, but there's a reason our ancestors lived in threes before we became an agrarian society and were able to slaughter the top predators and take our place at the top of the food chain. I don't think we're there yet on this planet." He's talking pretty quickly. "Why do you think I enjoy sleeping in the shuttle-firmary?" A beat, then, "As you can tell, I'm not really an outdoors kind of guy."

Dominic nods his head in the direction of the jungle in response to Eisley's question. "Well, we'd need to take a shuttle to the jungle unless we can use the manufacturing bay on the Genesis to construct the walls and have the parts shipped down here using the shuttles." He pauses for a moment before he continues. "With all due respect, it's hard to see most of the planet when we're restricted to a half mile radius." Apparently, the idle time is starting to get to him. Not much for the Marines to do so far except train and stand guard.

If the doctor is a study in nervous energy, Eisley is that of serenity. She's still got that steel cup cradled in her fingers, and she sips again as if nothing in the world were as important as the bitter black brew inside. "They picked this site to touch down because of its location and the surrounding landforms: mountains on one side, great jungle-covered steps on the other. And there's the lake…" She tilts her head in that general direction, as if the big, clear-blue puddle weren't somehow very obvious. "Having walls fabricated on the ship and sent down is a whole different problem. We've already got a third of our shuttle compliment tied up, and until the quarantine is lifted we can't send them back to the Genesis for replacements. We also run the risk of using up the ship's resources for parts we won't need later." That calm, cold blue gaze settles on Dominic, who she studies now with some calculation for a beat. "I'm hesitant to authorize an excursion into the jungle yet. The predators that we've seen are diurnal, but I'd hate to fracture the camp for one of these long, dark nights. Maybe later this afternoon," a frame of temporal reference that is given up with a drop of sardony, given how far away it might be, "you can take a few volunteers into the fringe. Alternatively, maybe we can go for a nice afternoon drive."

"This is as good a place as any for now. But I remember when my father took me camping as a kid, we set down at this spot that looked good. Then a few days later, it rained and we found out we were camping on the flood plain of a river." Harry scratches his cheek, "…my dad wasn't outdoorsy either." Throat-clear. "But hey, now I know what a river floodplain looks like." He takes a long drag off his cigarette until he remembers that they're in limited supply. His next inhale is savoured. "Truth be told, Commander, we'll never be a hundred percent sure we're not going to bring something up to the surface. Once we finish the tests that rule out anything obvious, the risk will be similar whether it's right after that or six months after it. We're dealing with something so frighteningly new to us that it's risky no matter which way you slice it."

Dominic frowns slightly but it soon disappears. "We're going to have to do these things sooner or later." He might have more to say, but the offer of sending a few volunteers off or a drive. I suppose we could take a drive. I can always take out a small group when we get back. Might see something interesting on the drive after all." He says to Eisley before he looks back to the Doctor. "That's comforting to know." He says a moment after the other man speaks.
Eisley tsks very, very quietly. "Dr. Graves, I'm supposed to be the pragmatist here." Nevermind that she really did tell everyone to come up with reasons why they should not move onto this planet. Does that count? It's very difficult to tell. "The simple fact is that maybe, in ten years, we'll have decided whether or not this planet is habitable. More than a few members of the crew aren't going to like that, though."

"Like I said, all I can tell you is there's nothing obviously deadly nearby. That doesn't take a lot of science to figure out. The rest could take a lifetime of study." Harry lifts a shoulder. "And the more people we introduce into this environment, the more likely it will be that one of us will stumble on something, or our bodies will interact with something in the atmosphere…uh, did I mention already how unpredictably deadly this planet or any alien planet has the potential to be?"

Dominic raises an eyebrow at the Doctor as he goes on, quietly listening t the discussion between the two. "I'm going to go get one of the buggies ready." He says to Eisley before he looks back to the Doc. "You shouldn't focus so much on what will kill you. Instead try to focus on what will keep you alive." He starts off for the buggies.

Eisley inclines her head in Dominic's general direction, which is about as close to dismissing the Marine as she's going to get under the circumstances. Then poor Harry has her attention all to himself. "So would you prefer the other option, then?" It's an almost conversational question.

"Oh, either scenario isn't exactly sunshine and roses. But if there's one good thing about being in the military, is that I don't have to make those decisions." Harry lifts a shoulder. "I mean, it's my job to tell you what's deadly and what's only sort of deadly. I figure I have a horseshoe up my ass to have survived this long, so I'm not going to get too paranoid. But I'm a realist."

"It's rather refreshing, considering how many of the science team thinks this might be the best thing since Bill Nye." Eisley studies the doctor for a few more seconds before lifting her cup to sip from, only to discover that it's empty; her expression twists briefly toward forlorn disappointment, but that doesn't put more coffee into the mug. She lowers it instead, one finger hooked through the handle. "We're on an alien planet in an entirely different galaxy. You're right; even the air here could, in theory, kill us; we're going on the faith of the beings that gave us this address that the planet itself isn't hostile to our presence. We do have to contend with the flora and the fauna. Once we get beyond that, we have to deal with building enough viable infrastructure to allow a hundred thousand people to live here. The nightmare doesn't end with the wildlife and native plants."

"This is what I'm saying. Look, I'm a surgeon. The way my brain works is…" Harry makes a vague hand motion around his head, "…mitigating risks, then accepting the least unfortunate scenario. We can take care of the obvious risks. Be cautious. But in the end, it's always going to be dangerous. It's always going to be completely unpredictable. If you folks in the top brass want any kind of assurances that we're not settling humanity on a planet that will devour us whole or wipe us all out with a plague, it's never going to happen." He stands and rolls his shoulders back. We've been dropped, unarmed, into an evolutionary battle we won a long time ago on our own planet. We have to claw our way back up. It'll probably take hundreds of thousands of years. This planet has the upper hand and then some, and there's not much we can do about that."

"Build of your imaginings a bower in the wilderness ere you build a house within the city walls…" Perhaps lack of coffee makes Eisley was poetic or philosophical. These words don't seem intended for the doctor though she speaks them anyway, gaze drifting again across the field. Her tone changes abruptly though, losing that rhetoric cadence. "We aren't entirely unarmed. We may not know anything about the planet, but we don't need to re-invent fire and the wheel, nor rediscover the powers of flight and hydroponics. I rather hope that having a bigger collective enemy in the planet itself distracts the population away from pettier problems for at least the duration of my lifespan, though I'll not hold my breath there."

"I think War of the Worlds should be required reading. HG Wells understood some things very well. I think I've said this before, but human beings earned our right to exist on Earth by millions of years of evolution, of death, of adaptation. We've been tossed into a highly dangerous, deadly and complex game, where we can only begin to guess at the rules." Harry scrubs at his cheek. "Really, I'm, I'm not a pessimist. But it's hard not to sound negative when my job here is to rate things on the deadly-o-meter."

Eisley looks up toward the sky now, with its dual suns in orbit. "If I were a betting woman, I would put money on the idea that most, if not all, of our passengers were banking on an easier ride. They probably signed up hoping we'd get to New Eden and have a whole high-tech alien city pre-built and waiting for us to come move into." She pauses, but only to shake her head. "The surprises just keep on coming."

"Look. We have to do a lot of bullet-biting. If I was the one making the big decisions, do you wanna know what my long-term plan would be?" Harry seems to mean that non-rhetorically. He's not just fishing for her to say yes. He's got a surprisingly earnest look on his face.

It'll be a second before Eisley clues in on that and looks back at the doctor, one brow quirking upward into a rather delicate arch. He can look earnest; she looks expectant now. "What would you do?"

Harry drops his voice. Not that there's anyone nearby to overhear, and not that it would matter if they did. "Two groups. This planet? Is never going to be a haven, no matter how safe we try to make it. I can't stress enough how quickly an alien plague could wipe us out. On the other hand, we've seen hostile aliens out there, and no guarantee of finding another habitable planet. And that one would have the same problems as here. Faced with two less-than-ideal sets if circumstances, we should mitigate our risk. If we are the last of the human race, we shouldn't put all our eggs in one basket, to use a beat-up metaphor."

To her credit, Eisley does not immediately respond to that. There is no negation of the idea, but she doesn't rush to embrace it, either. The cup on her finger is swung back and forth a couple of times, measuring out long, silent seconds in a lazy rhythm that might match her thought pattern. "Two groups would spread our resources even more thinly," she points out. "Assuming we could even find a second planet that comes anywhere close to this one in levels of suitability. Still…" It isn't a no!

"The second group should stay space-bound, unless an absolutely ideal planet, or, or a settlement within a controlled environment could be constructed." Harry's clearly spent some time thinking about this. "Look, I know the whole idea is a shitty one. But I'm being perfectly serious when I say that even a minor bug could sweep through what's left of us and wipe us out. Our systems have zero resistance to anything this planet can throw at us."

So, Ivan is around somewhere. He's got his new feet from the shop so he's breaking them in by pacing around and looking more or less really freaking busy. Eventually he finds his way to Eisley, unless she's hiding somewhere he can't get to, in which case eventually might be a very long time, and he might give up and go have dinner instead.

Eisley shakes her head. "It isn't a terrible idea, Dr. Graves. It has a considerable amount of merit to it, but the practicality of it… I don't know. None of this is practical though. We're in over our heads and so far out of our league that we couldn't find our way to familiar territory with a hunting dog and an ouija board." Once again she lifts the cup to look into it, but sadly, it is still empty. And no, she isn't hiding. She's standing at the bottom of one of the shuttle ramps, conversing with Harry who sits in a chair propped up against the side of another shuttle, specifically the one he's commandeered for a surgery suite. Ivan is difficult to miss too, and upon spying him she offers a crisp kind of nod.

"Like I said, the way I think is all about mitigating risks. It would just be shitty to come…how many hundreds of thousands of light years or whatever, only to all be wiped out by alien sniffles. I'm not a pathologist, and I don't know that we have one in the freezer. Even then, hell." Harry exhales a mouthful of smoke. "I wouldn't want to be that guy." He drawls. He looks up to see who Eisley is nodding to and offers one of his own.
Crisp? Ivan nods right back to the pair, businesslike, and points vaguely towards the edge of the camp, woods-side. "Permission to mitigate risks by building fortifications, ma'am?"

Most of the things Eisley does end up done crisply. It's a professional hazard, mostly. "I should hate to be wiped out by alien sniffles too, Doctor," she allows. But now there is Ivan to consider and she looks at him - slightly down at him, no less - for a beat. "Lieutenant L'Anse was here a little while ago asking about that same thing. You're an engineer, aren't you, Shevchenko?"

"Why don't you sink some pointy sticks into the ground? Pointy sticks will protect us from deadly things." Harry deadpans, then quirks a grin at Ivan. "Maybe we could even have a tree fort. Ooh. And swings."

"Yah. Combat engineer, EOD, intergalactic space Marine. That is why I get the cool thing here with the stuff." Ivan replies giving the satchel he's got a pat, cause that's the cool thing with the stuff that the other Marines don't have. He's special. He considers Harry's suggestions, shrugs a bit like he's entertaining them but really has to defer to the higher powers on it. "We should build this place up like we are expecting a war. Tower over there, embankments to limit approaches, clear fields of fire, fencing, bunkers, everything."

Eisley flicks a look between the pair, void of any visible humor. It ends with another glance into her cup which still has not magically refilled itself, and as no promising ensigns have happened past for her to dispatch to the local Starbucks… well. "I'll enter that in the log as one solid vote for Swiss Family Robinson, and one for the beaches of Normandy. I appreciate your enthusiasm, but I don't believe that we should be going to war with the natives just yet. -If- the Captain decides to settle us here permanently, then you'll have my blessing. For the moment, however, you should scale down that plan just a touch. Maybe elevate it a notch or two above pointy sticks."
"Gee, that sounds keen. But I'm not really sure how all those tactics stand up when anything we're going to fight isn't likely to fight like anything we know. Or have malicious intent. I know space ants seem pretty dastardly and all." Harry arches a brow and quirks a small, slightly rakish grin. "I think a wall would make people feel safer, even if it didn't actually help. And it would give the antsy Marines something to do."

"When some big bad comes running out of those woods and you're standing there with your dick in your hands and nothing but an open field between you and only a piece of shit tent you could blow over with a sneeze to hide in, yeah, I think even you will like to have a wall to at least slow them down." Ivan gruffs a little before touching his forehead momentarily for this world's most half-hearted salute thus far, "Ma'am."

Clearly that presentation isn't intended to sway the XO's decision; she merely -looks- at Ivan while he rattles through that, brow lifted just enough to be discernable when compared to its twin, which also rises jut so when he more-or-less salutes. "You'll have to take that up with Lieutenant L'Anse," she answers dryly, when he's finished. "Though if you really feel called to build, be sure to ask the science team if they're absolutely sure -this- is where we're staying for the next few days."

From the edges of the woods comes a lone reptile of the variety that usually travel as a herd. It comes out cautiously, perhaps even a bit meekly, and after a moment it becomes clear why it's behaving this way. Five of the cow spotted predator animals are coaxing it out into the clearing, urging it forward and towards the camp. The massive, boxy reptile appears to be limping just a bit as if it's been roughed up and dominated into submission. It slowly makes its way across the clearing towards the camp, it's five predators following along some distance behind it in case it decides to try to run. It's a rather amazing and completely unsettling thing to witness - they're making it a test subject for what happens when you get too close to the humans.

"See, that's why I sleep…" Harry knocks against the shuttle, "…in here. Doctor's perrogative. I'm always on-call." He flashes a grin. "But, Commander, I'm kind of serious about the idle hands thing. And about the psychological effect of fences. It might be something to do when we're more sure of where we're staying. I read some psychological case studies that talked about human beings liking fences. It makes us feel like we've tamed something. Makes us feel in-control. Even if it's an illusion. And it…wh…th…" doc just lost his tongue. "…what…are they…doing?" Then he half-turns to Ivan. "…kinda wishing I had some pointy sticks right about now."

"Sometimes a fence is just a fence." Ivan notes, dryly after nodding to everything else. Check with L'Anse. Right. Talk to science team. Got it. Place pointy sticks everywhere? Will do. He's about to turn away to get tracking people down and harrassing them (yay for fixed feet), WHEN, the reptile-box-monsters show up. He looks back to the other two and though he's kind enough not to be all 'I told you so', he does turn his hands over like huh? What'd I say? "You ever feed a squirrel?" He randomly asks.

There is no told-you-so! The big bads are not racing out of the forest! Their behavior rather defies most typical animal logic, since most critters don't herd their prey toward the new thing on the block to see what that thing does. "No," Eisley answers of that seemingly random question. "Though I did feed a family of chipmunks, once. A barn cat found them to be slow, fat, easy targets." The coffee cup is virtually forgotten, as is that whole line of conversation. "I think this calls for a very sharp, very pointy stick. Lance Corporal Shevchenko, I trust that you've qualified with a rifle at some distance."

A point comes when the poor creature must make a decision - continue on and get within 50 yards of the human camp, or turn and run. It stops somewhere between 50 to 100 yards out as if considering this very dilemma, but it's short lived as the decision is made for it by the five predators that are forcing it forward. They growl and snarl, resulting in the creature deciding that it would rather find out if it's death will be any less cruel at the hands of the humans. It waddles its way forward, heading towards the humans with no visible sign of malice or threat, but rather quite afraid of what's behind it.

"Those things look to be a hell of a lot more intelligent than we guessed them to be. See, this is the kind of trouble we get in if we judge this planet based on what we know about our own." Harry is backing away a little. "I think…shit. I don't think we'll impress them by being nice to their guinea pig. But a show of force might just make them change tactics and come back in larger numbers. I'm gonna go find…whatshername who grew up on a farm." And then he's bidding a tactical retreat. He's not running away. Honest. He's not a coward judging by his record, so maybe he actually is trying to be helpful. If he doesn't find the farmgirl, maybe he'll at least find some marines with big guns.

"Once they get a taste of something good they lose their fear real quick." Ivan says as he unslings his rifle and pays some idle attention to the talking of the doctor and a little more to the XOs, but the most of it goes to the critters being more intelligent than they ought to. "You pick the winner." He'll say as he shoulders his weapon and peers down the barrel at the group of alien beasties.

"Eenie.. meanie.. miney…" Eisley pauses, perhaps somewhat dramatically, then selects her target. "That fourth one there, on the left." Given the relative size between one species and another, this ought not endanger the herded beastie nearly as much as the pack that surrounds it. And once again it falls to Ivan to initiate hostilities against the native wildlife - from a safe distance, this time.

The predator sailfin cows are between six and a half to eight feet tall at the highest point on their back, while the herd beast is smaller than human cattle, more along the lines of a very large sheep. The size difference makes it easy to aim for the former without hitting the latter. As they don't seem to understand weapons and how they work, it doesn't register to them that they're being aimed at while their test subject remains unthreatened. Soon, the herd beast is within 30 yards, the predator creatures another 30 behind it.

Ivan takes a knee to drop into a more stable shooting posture, lines the futuristic boomstick at the indicated predator and waits for the shot. 1-2-3, PEW! Or BOOM! or ZAP! Or whatever the gun report sounds like when it goes off, cause it totally does because he's been trained to shoot stuff when ordered to. Bleeding heart he is not, unless he saves his tears for when he's alone, at night, after downing his alcohol rations.

And the XO stands conveniently by to watch the execution of the sailfin, arms crossing over her chest. She stands on the ramp of one of the shuttles, now well above the kneeling Marine, which likely gives her the best possible view from the camp of what is about to happen. The coffee cup that dangles from a finger taps again as she waits, stilling only after he fires.

The energy weapons provided by The Two are quite a sight to behold in action - for a brief instant a streak of lightning connects the barrel of the rifle to the side of the face of the predator creature Ivan fires at, like a bolt from the sky accompanied by a small crack of thunder, and then it's gone. Instantly after, so is half of the predator creature's head as it explodes in a sizzling burst. Its body staggers while its four companions immediately bolt backwards and flatten to the ground defensively and the lizard creature simply freezes in place with fear, the way prey often do, like a deer in the headlights.

Hot damn! Ivan refrains from yelling, but that was mighty impressive by his reckoning and he shows it by letting out a slow, quiet whistle on his next exhale. "That got their attention." But incase it didn't dissuade them, he remains where he is, ticking the barrel to the right to sight in another of the sailfins.

"Nice shot, Shevchenko." The XO approves! Perhaps Ivan has redeemed himself for the stunt with the tree and the Nav.. er, ants. And now the waiting begins, since the sailfins didn't immediately take off in the opposite direction and, like so many other games, it now boils down to waiting for the next move.

Even with nearly half of its face and head gone, the sailfin remains on its feet, staggering a few steps to the side and violently shaking its head as if trying to shake off a headache. Whether it's going on pure adrenaline or is really this tough is hard to tell quite yet. The other four remain low to the ground and begin to fan out, all eyes on Ivan and his lightning stick. As if coming out of a fog, the herd beast begins to bull forward towards the camp but changes course to go around it as it heads to the water.

Ivan pulls a face as the sailfin he popped looks to be not quite so done for, but it could just be the nerves firing after death. Yeah. He watches, waiting to unleash more lightning pows should he be ordered to. The compliment is given a quiet, distracted "Thanks, ma'am."

Eisley doesn't make faces. She merely watches, as tranquil as the lake behind them. "That's … interesting," she observes of the not-dead sailfin, pronouncing this in the same general tone she might reserve for most other things of equally morbid fascination, like newborn sphynx kittens or watching someone purposefully dislocate a joint for demonstration purposes. "Put that one out of our misery."

Ivan does as ordered, aiming more squarely at the body incase it makes a difference. Maybe the vital soft spot is around there somewhere, if the head isn't really is it. He doesn't say anything. It's hard to be witty when you're trying to kill something for real. This ain't the movies.

A second crack of lightning strikes the beast and blows a solid hole through it up near the front legs, sending its staggering again before collapsing into the grass. The remaining four look to their fallen comrade, then three of them look to a fourth as if expecting it to take the lead. It does, staying low to the ground and making a hasty retreat to the forest line with the others in tow. By now, the herd beast is down at the water, half submerge and watching.

For a few more seconds there is nothing from the XO, who watches with considerable interest as this plays out yonder in the field. Given time she wets her lower lip, an expression that might not instill a great deal of confidence. "I do believe that those are going to be a problem." Yes, Eisley has a talent for understatement. Like so. "And I suspect we're going to need something slightly more creative than a wall to persuade them to stay away. It's like watching a dog with an electronic fence. Sooner or later they learn that if they run through it fast enough, it doesn't hurt so much…"

Ivan lowers the rifle a bit once the stricken predator finally goes down and the others route for the time being. A glance goes over his shoulder at Eisley who he grins flatly up at. "Yeah. Like I said. If this is not going to be the place we stay, we should find it soon so we can build a proper base."

"I was thinking," one of the scientists suggests, "The other side of the lake seems to be left alone by all of the various animals. If we set up over there, at least, we wouldn't be immediately in between the forest and its source of water."

"One of the Recon Marines is off exploring that side of the lake," answers Eisley, almost off-handedly. "He should be reporting back in before sundown to let us know if he found anything more interesting than the overwhelming nothing." She is quiet for three or four more seconds before shaking her head. "Let's stay put for the moment. How about you go round up that carcass and take it apart? It's bound to be more interesting than the ants and the fish." It is, after all, the biggest thing they've caught so far.

The scientists don't need to be told twice. A team of them begins to head out with a Marine escort to the body of the fallen sailfin.

Ivan stands, brushes off his one knee and looks like he might walk off towards the carcass too. In the end he yields to the scientists in attendance cause although he might have fun taking the thing apart and poking at the guts to see what happens, it wouldn't be very scientific. It'd just be messy. "We don't have a dozer do we?"

Eisley still hasn't moved. At all. "We do not," she informs Ivan. "Unless your sister can somehow jerry-rig one of the buggies to function as one, you'll have to come up with an alternative." Sharpened sticks are looking better by the moment, sadly.

Ivan grunts like he's not impressed by the lack of dozer, but he's not upset. He'll make due. The gears are already turning in his head behind those eyes of his as he nods and starts to walk off, unable to resist a closer look at the blood and guts. "I'll make a list."

Blood and guts are way more interesting than the XO. But the fireworks are over and at long last she remembers her coffee cup; it's lifted and peered into and its emptiness prompts her to go the opposite direction, toward the mess area, to procure more.

Four scientists are huddled around the carcass of the beast that Ivan brought down, waving different kinds of scanners and instruments around it and over it, taking samples, studying the insides from the openings that the Marine so conveniently provided for them.

Ivan will linger by the dead thing, watching the scientists get their science on. He tips his head curiously and once even toes at the thing to see what happens. If his foot doesn't melt off, he's happy with the results. All the while, a list is being compiled in his head. It totally is. There will be requisition forms. Many.


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