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Story 65

Eep opp ork ah-ah

As you enter a lab, you notice a bookish looking man in a lab coat. He looks up and sees you carefully carrying the animal. “This must be the canine you told me about. I just finished looking over the brain scans that the auto-doc took and I think she is a perfect candidate. I think we should give this a try.”

“Try?”, you manage to ask as a one word question.

“This is the first round of animal testing, so I really can’t make any guarantees.”

Another person in the lab speaks up,”The procedure that Dr Truman proposed is brilliant and I’ve built in every safety precaution I can think of, but we asked for terminal animals just in case it doesn’t go like we expected.”

You recognize that they are simply trying to be honest and accurate. You glance at the ID badge on the other person’s lab coat and it reads Dr Nora Maxwell-Granger.

“Thank you doctors, I’ve just become very attached to her since she has been on board my ship.”

Dr. Truman speaks up, “Well, the good news is, that if this goes like we plan, she can go back out into space with you.”

“How’s that?”

“The crystal matrix is only one part of this project. We have several other members that have been tasked with the challenge of creating a robotic chassis that the crystal matrix can go in. A lot of their work and research has been in writing an interface between the crystal matrix and the physical hardware. They’ve spent the past stand modifying their work to function with your canine companion. Since she will still have her memories and has clearly bonded with you, we want to send her back out with you. Her chassis is programmed to do a large data dump every time you fly past a data beacon at any of the various Mission Points so we can get regular updates on her.”

“That sounds great Doc! Let’s try and save her”

– – – –

Quite a few hours pass as you nervously wait to find out how things are going. Doctor Maxwell-Granger finally emerges and is beaming. “Things went great! Far better than we expected. Dr Truman wants to introduce you to K-9.”

Dr. Truman and a robotic canine come out of the lab, and when the robot emerges it rushes up to you with its rear and its tail wagging back and forth in excitement.

Despite the mechanical form, you reach down and pet her.

K-9 does something you’ve never heard her do before, instead of barking she says, “Eep opp ork ah-ah.”

You look at her and repeat the sounds, “Eep opp ork ah-ah.”

Again K-9 says, “Eep opp ork ah-ah.”

Nora speaks up, “I think it means, ‘I love you’”

K-9 is now part of your crew and you have earned 1 fame point. She does not take up significant space on your ship, and if you get in a bind you could drain her internal energy cell similarly to an energy rod. Unfortunately, it would cause her to shut down until recharged either on a planet or from an energy rod. Recharging her on a planet is a free action during your status phase.

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Story 64

It’s called a canine

As soon as you managed to dock with the mine the various miners and their families immediately queued up to start cramming themselves into your airlock. You find that they can come in six at a time this way. As the inner door of the airlock pops open, after the outer door has cycled shut again, you can smell the smoke that has permeated their clothes. The first group is mostly children, apparently they prioritized the kids. The children look a little frightened and you notice that one is carrying a small floppy eared animal that looks injured. You don’t have time to do anything other than herd them into the ship so you can start cycling the airlocks again. Soon you have 22 guests crammed onto your ship. You find someone that looks like they might nominally be in charge of the mining station.

“So what’s the plan from here?”

“The clearly tired and worn out man responds, “I’ve got an engineer and an able bodied boot third in there. They have the EV soft suits on so they can have a little more range of motion, even if soft suits contain less air than the hard suits. They’re going to shut off the O2 reserves so they can suffocate the fire finally and remove the damaged fuse actor. We have a smaller generator that they’re going to set-up and connect to a solar array that is on the surface of our mine. Also, once they can get to the equipment back behind the fuse actor they’ll flush out the carbon monoxide with nitrogen, then change out the air scrubber cartridges and water filters before turning the oxygen reserves back on.”

“How long will all that take?”

“They have it all planned out and expect they’ll need 5 hours. Because everything is always harder than you expect, I think we should give them 6 hours. In the meantime, all of us will be packed in here like cargo. I know this is hard on your ship’s air scrubbers but we are grateful. We all would have died if you hadn’t shown up soon. As is, we lost six people during the initial explosion. The watchstander was by the fuse actor and the family that was birthed in a section with an adjoining wall to the reactor were also caught in the explosion.”

“Is there anything we can help you with?”

“You are already doing so much, but If you can spare any part of your oxygen reserve and if you have a spare energy rod, it would go a long way in our recovery efforts till new supplies and replacement parts can be shipped in.”

You simply respond, “I’ll check our reserves and see what we can do.”

As you’re walking away to check on what supplies you can spare you see a man on one knee talking to the kid that is still carrying the injured animal.

“Son, you probably should have left it on the mine.”

“But Dad, she would have died when they shut off the oxygen. We already lost Uncle Jack, I don’t want to lose his pet too.”

“But son, it’s injured and isn’t likely to recover.”

You decide to join the discussion, “Maybe I can help. What kind of animal is it?”

The kid looks up hopefully, “It’s a canine, and it’s real smart. Uncle Jack was teaching it all kinds of tricks.” With that the kid hands you the animal to see. You carefully take her into your arms and she pushes her nuzzle into the crook of your elbow. Despite all the lacerations and what feels like broken ribs she sighs contentedly while being held by you.

The kid excitedly says, “She likes you.”

“It’s probably my animal magnetism.” Then you continue, “Maybe our auto-doc can help her, but it will probably take a lot more than 6 hours to heal her in one of those.”

“If you can save her, you can keep her. I would miss her but at least her tail would be wagging with excitement again.”

You can see the kid’s dad looks visibly relieved to have this resolved.

You decide to head to the auto-doc and set the canine in there before checking on how much supplies you can spare.

– – – –

A few hours later, you check in at the auto-doc and you see the readings are bad. You can probably keep this canine alive for a while, two maybe three stands, but her injuries are so bad that she can’t possibly recover. You have an idea, but you need to finish helping the mining crew first.

You gain 1 fame point for coming to the rescue of the mining colony, and if you have an energy rod that you choose to give them, gain an additional fame point. You now have an injured animal that is not likely to survive. You have to decide if you want to visit the Trans-Human Project. If you do choose to go that route, you need to be there at the end of three rounds from now. If you get there in time, read/listen to Story 65.