(13) To Be Named

The Crusader Campaign (066-1123 to 068-1123)

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066-1123 : Jumpspace (from Adabicci / Lunion / Spinward Marches)

    It's been a strange trip so far, the strangest perhaps being that Helia Sarina is still subdued and quiet.  A step in the return to normality, however, occurs when Kalida Siena, Marchioness of Nakege, comes out of her klatrin trance.

Kalida's Klatrin Experience
(Referee and Kalida's player only)

    The crew of Nightshade are at breakfast.  Suddenly Grand Admiral Baron Bridgehead announces, "Kalida's awake.  I think she's getting up.  I'd better go."  He grabs his coffee as he gets up and walks smartly towards Sick Bay.
    He meets Kalida as she is heading to her stateroom.  He questions her briefly on her condition, and is satisfied when his hand scanner shows her as red.  He suggests she come up and join them all at breakfast for a while, just to "Make sure that she's not too... strange."  He admonishes her to taking the klatrin and tells her that her brain chemistry has changed.
    Bridgehead returns to the lounge accompanied by Kalida.  Korwin of course is not there, having been left behind on Adabicci, but Helia is not there either.
    Misha chats with Marchioness briefly and assures himself that she seems mostly normal.
    Kalida says she thinks she's normal, but as Bridgehead points out her perception is skewed and she's not necessarily a reliable source.  He says that he'd like to check her over -- and Helia as well -- at some point soon just to make sure she's ok.  Kalida agrees to do so after lunch.
    Robert Morris asks Kalida how her experience was.  She just says, "Very interesting.  A new view of things."
    Edward "Shark" Teeth says, "They really are after me.  And now you guys know it too."

    That afternoon, Kalida reports to Sick Bay.  Shark watches while the Baron explains to him -- and to Kalida -- what he's talking about when she shows the changes.  To his surprise, Shark understands what he's being told -- the Baron really does want him to understand it.
    Kalida on the other hand lets him prattle on, and when he pauses for a breath says, "So what does all that actually mean?"
    "Well, it means what it usually mean.  You have unexplainable... er... changes in your brain chemistry and you shouldn't have done it."
    "So you've no idea what the effects are."
    "Yes, you have these changes here, and..." Bridgehead launches into his explanation again, word for word repeating what he's just said.
    Shark summarizes, "And what that means is, there is a physiological effect and the actual changes to behavior or mental capacities in relationship to the real world is not classifiable."
    "Exactly," says Bridgehead firmly.
    "Does that make sense?" asks Shark.
    "Yes," says Kalida, "You have no bloody idea."
    "No!  We have an idea, we just don't know what it... we don't know what the effects are.  We don't know the mechanism of the change."

    Later that day Kalida asks the rest of the crew about Helia's klatrin effects this time.
    Robert says that aside from himself, she's had the most klatrin of anyone here, and that it affects everyone differently.
    Shark describes Helia as being "less focussed" this time after her experience.
    Kalida said that after previous trips she flew around a lot more than usual, and asks if that's true this time.
    Shark says that yes, she is flying around now.  She's making no attempt to hide her wings, often leaving them unfurled.  She's been spending a lot of time in her stateroom, and in fact hasn't come up since well before supper yesterday.  He adds that this is Helia's third time.  Robert has had five trips so far, plus a period of flashbacks after the first one.  Shark himself has been fine after the first trip, but the feeling from that has never gone away, which is keeping them safe.  He assures Kalida that it's usual to feel differently for a while after taking klatrin.  He says that it was after his third encounter, which is when Robert and Helia shared the same trip with him and they met Lap'da, that he started to understand more of the writing.

    Helia doesn't turn up for dinner either, and that makes three meals.  That's not like her, and Shark encourages the Baron to find her to check her out.  He in turn defers to the Captain, and Misha says that the pilot is due a visit from the Doctor.
    It occurs to Kalida to ask the ship.  She says, "Ship, where is Helia?"
    "Helia is not on board," replies the ship.
    "Helia is not on board."
    "Who is in her room?" asks Shark.
    "Nobody is in her room."
    Shark sighs, "She's gone Lap'da on us."
    Misha just blinks.  After a pause, he gets up and goes to his console on the Bridge and goes into sparkly pink.  He checks the location of all the crew members, and verifies that everyone is on board except Helia.
    The ship confirms that she left the ship this morning, via the port airlock in Engineering.  All questions about her location are answered with "I don't know."  It does however show where she left the ship, and her direction of travel away from the ship until she exited the jump grid.  She was wearing a vaccsuit at the time.  She went from her stateroom direct to Engineering and left.
    Misha returns to the Lounge and says what he's discovered.
    Immediately Shark goes to her room and searches it.  It looks just as if she'd simply left.  The ship's computer shows nothing.
    Kalida checks Helia's personal computer, which she had left behind on a table.  She turns it on, but her journal is not in any language that anyone -- including the ship -- knows.  Shark thinks it's probably heavily encrypted.
    Shark checks the recording of Helia leaving, to see if she pauses to wait for a specific time before launching herself away.  That doesn't happen -- she exits, checks that the airlock cycles properly behind her, and immediately flies off in a straight line away from the ship.
    Shark says she has the capability to recalculate a new exit mid-jump, and she could have stepped out on her home planet, taken off her vaccsuit, and been home.  He says he was looking for the hesitation that would show she was looking for the right moment she'd calculated, and he didn't see that.
    Misha searches Helia's room too.  He's found that the pieces of candy on her desk are arranged in a pattern that he thinks might be a starmap.
    Mich is astonished that someone would leave the jump bubble.  If anyone gets too close to the jump field they go mad.  Someone leaving the ship could even disturb the jump grid and cause a misjump, if the piece of normal space she represented interfered with the boundary.  He hasn't noticed any effect, but he can't rule it out.
    Shark jokes that maybe she's out back pushing them because they're too slow, or even perhaps she went on ahead and will be waiting when they come out.  He checks his football sensors and while she was using a gravbelt, she did also "fly," but nothing out of what would be normal for her.
    Robert checks what Helia had been reading last.  She was going over schematics of the ship, and whatever manuals Mich had put together.
    Kalida suggests putting Misha's candy starmap into a computer search.  Mich works on it, and can't find anything that matches well.  There are quite a lot that are poor matches, but nothing that is a significant match.
    Robert tries to decipher Helia's journal, but comes up empty.  There is no language base for her native language.  The only other person who knows anything about her race, the larians, is Sir Arken.
    In the meantime, Shark searches the room for what is not here.  The only things missing are her vaccsuit and her zack.  She's even left behind the backpack she uses to hide her wings out of sight.
    Shark tells the ship that if Helia returns, he, Misha, and the Doctor are to be informed immediately, no matter when it is.
    Kalida remembers that last time she took klatrin, she had a vision of a possible future.  Perhaps that was where she was trying to go.
    Shark suggests putting all the airlocks under command control, but Misha overrides him.  The Captain says that anyone stupid enough to walk off doesn't need to be on the ship.  If she didn't do it for a stupid reason, then there's no reason she shouldn't do it.  He would like it if anyone doing that left a readable message, though.
    Shark wonders how much air and supplies were in the vaccsuit.
    Kalida suggests that all the vaccsuit had to do was to get her from the ship into jumpspace.

    The crew go about their business.
    Kalida tries gunnery simulations to see if her klatrin experience has changed anything.  The full missile salvo takes 7.2 seconds, 100 rounds per second, and that's what it's designed to do.  She tries firing arbitrary specific numbers of missiles.  She finds that her minimum now is just two missiles.  She then goes on with more simulations against Happy Fun Balls, experimenting with setting up specific missile numbers and delivery time-on-target patterns.  But that's for amusement really, because the expander would finish the job.  For a mission kill, just 20 would be enough to wipe most of the sensors.  There would be point defense losses to account for, and screen ships from the battle group that would get some of the missiles too.
    To get direct access, the battle group would have to be penetrated.  With multiple Happy Fun Balls, they'd be deployed in formation where the battle groups could support each other but still separating the targets so that two could not fall foul of the same enemy action.
    This is useful.  Robert is less confident that his Blue Screen of Death Ray will work against the Happy Fun Ball.  The Imperium no doubt has their best people, the equivalent of himself if they could find them, on board working against his attempts.
    Mich tells them that hooking up the bigger power cube would not help.  They already have enough to run everything at capacity, except perhaps restocking the missiles while running everything else at the same time.  But if they're in that situation of running at capacity for that long, an extra dozen missiles won't make a lot of difference.

067-1123 : Jumpspace (from Adabicci / Lunion / Spinward Marches)

    As the crew sits down for breakfast, the crew announce that Helia is approaching the ship.  They watch on the computer as she enters the airlock.  Most of the crew get up immediately and rush down to Engineering to greet her.  They run into each other on the walkway in Engineering.  Helia is dressed only in her zack.
    Mich says, "Have a nice walkabout?"  He's never met anyone who's left a ship in jump and come back.
    Helia says, "Yes.  Can you fix my vaccsuit, please?  I left it in the airlock back there, it's... sorry."  She smiles.
    "How was your trip?" asks Shark.
    "It was fine."
    "Where did you go?" asks Kalida.
    "Oh, nowhere."
    "How did you get back, if you were at nowhere?" asks Mich.
    "Oh, I just stepped out for a minute, that's all."
    "You've been gone for a day."
    "OK.  Have I missed breakfast?  Oh, good!  Let's go."  The larian marches smartly towards the lounge.
    Shark says, "Which Helia are you?"
    "I'm Helia," she says, giving him a look.

    While the others follow her on to breakfast, Mich and Shark go to check her vaccsuit.  The suit is better described by "remains" than "vaccsuit," and is very badly torn up possibly to the point of irrepairable.  There's at least a week's work to restore it to use, if that's possible.  It's a pattern of damage they've never seen before.  Mich is of the opinion that it should not be repaired.  He'll build her another one.
    Shark checks the football sensors, and notes a much bigger spike from Helia as she came back.  The gravbelt clearly was not working.  He collects the evidence carefully, and he goes to catch up with her at breakfast.

    At breakfast, Shark asks Helia, "Did you see Lap'da?"
    Helia clearly thinks that was a very stupid question.
    "I thought you'd gone on walkabout like Lap'da does," says Shark.  "So where did you go?"
    "I just took a short walk, that's all."
    "I wanted to see what it looked like."
    Mich asks if the vaccsuit was damaged on the way out, during, or on the way back.
    "Sorry about that," says Helia hesitantly.  "I didn't think it would do that, but...  I didn't think it would do that."
    Shark asks her Mich's question again.
    "Once I got outside."
    "Was it during the transition?  Transitioning a jump bubble is quite an interesting problem."
    "Well, it's not that complicated if you consider the equations that govern it.  Would you like to see them?"
    "Yes, I would," says Mich enthusiastically.
    Helia brightens.  She looks around for something to write with, and Mich hands her his hand puter.  She starts writing rapidly, saying, "You see, this follows from this.  Now this one only applies of course under those conditions."
    Mich has no idea what she's writing.  Yes, they're equations, but what it could possibly be based on, he has no idea at all.  It's mathematical gibberish.  He says politely, "Well, it's impressive, but I don't quite follow.  I guess it's the initial conditions we need to work on, the frame of reference."
    "Oh.  Well, it just... follows.  I mean, it's pretty basic.  You could try... look, here.  There you go.  That's how it follows from the Bainsworth Postulates."
    "Okay," says Mich slowly, never having heard of such a thing.  It still makes no sense.  He's glad he can just upload everything she's written on his puter.  He drifts into remembering that when they were figuring out the vortex generators, they needed Helia and Sally to help.  He asks Helia if she had any insights.
    "It's all pretty basic stuff, really."
    "You want to help me with some other things, see if we can decrease our transition time through jumpspace?"
    Helia sighs sharply.  She says, "You mean... Hm..."  She gives Mich a look that he last saw from Robert when he was trying to figure out why this chimps were chattering around him, meaningless sounds with no frame of reference or concept of structure.
    Mich says, "We'd like to take the ship along with us and everybody inside, and it takes five and a half days, and I'd like to make it shorter than that."
    "Oh!" says Helia.  "Well, it's not really fast, is it? It's not like you... move."
    "If we could engage our jump engines and instantaneously appear where we want to be."
    "Oh, you can't do that, no."
    "But if we could decrease that amount of time to its minimum that's feasible with what we have available to us."
    "Well, it's theoreticaly possible to get around the Quilton Limitations, but..." She sighs, then continues, "I'm not sure that there's enough energy to do that."
    Shark interjects, "With the energy available, how fast..."
    "You're not really going," says Helia.
    Shark continues, "How fast can we transition through this artificial environment?"
    "Well, it's not artificial and you don't really transition."
    Mich and Shark chatter back and forth for a while on the subject.  It's not quite clear whether they're running with a joke or trying to come up with something serious.
    Helia changes the subject.  "So what are we doing?"
    Shark says, "You mean our current mission in the Imperium?  We believe that Santanocheev is attacking the Imperium, and we're trying to organize defensive fleets by travelling to various locations and telling them 'The Joes are oming, The Joes are coming.'  That's the general idea.  The specifics can be found on the timeline that Kalida projected based on your astrogational abilities.  If those have changed, then..."
    Kalida says she'd rounded up to six days.
    Shark continues, "So other than that, we've got time to work on making the non-transitions take up less time, perceptively interiorly and exteriorly, and/or the distances of the transitions be greater.  Instead of six parsecs, seven, eight, that's also a useful possibility."  He smiles sideways at Mich, "I did hear of a 20-parsec jump, but everyone was very sick."
    Mich says helpfully, "We do have another power cube."
    Helia says sharply, "That's not going to help very much, is it?"
    "Well, you said you thought we didn't have enough power to..."
    Shark interrupts, "No, her statement was that there isn't enough power.  Like that old statement e=mc**2, if you get to the speed of light you have infinite mass.  Right?"
    "Well," says Helia, "That's only valid for certain values of c."
    "But is it a reasonable analogy?"
    Helia says brightly, "If it makes you happy, yes!"
    "I like it because I came up with it."  Shark smiles.  That's his parting comment.  He stands up and goes off to examine Helia's vaccsuit.

    Shark puts on his environment suit, goes to the Engineering shop, and sets up the clean conditions to start his forensic investigation of this possibly highly contaminated piece.  He spends all day working on it, trying to figure out what the damage was, whether a hard object, whether inside or outside, and so on.
    He determines quickly that the remains are not harmful.  There is no impact damage.  There are various effects on it.  Some show distortions under great force.  Others show some sort of erosion.
    It's been subject to number of different effects, some of which were simultaneous.  The erosion is not so much external, as little bits missing, voids on the micro level, like the object has been uniformly eroded throughout its mass, like small pieces just vanished.
    There's one initial trauma event which consists of the distortions and some of the erosion, about 10% of mass eroded.  Not all sections were affected by all events.  Later, over a longer term, slightly larger voids eroded consisting about about 5% of mass.  The molecular scanner -- which Mich used to analyse the statue artifacts some time ago -- enables Shark to determine the order of the events.
    He is sure of one thing: if this happened to a living person, they would be dead.  He makes a mental note for the Doc to examine Helia at some point.
    The vaccsuit itself was clearly not even close to holding air as it came across and into the ship.  While the specifications allow for 48 hours of life support, it clearly lost all the air at some point.  Life support was probably lost very rapidly, without about two hours of the sustained erosion.  Enough voids had opened up to let it sponge out.
    He steps aside and checks the microatmosphere outside the ship inside the jump bubble.  There was no change, so it's likely she had no air from about two hours into her trip, leaving her with no life support for about 22 hours.

    Shark delivers a summary report to the Doctor and the Captain.  Bridgehead looks at him like he's lost his mind.  He says that 15% of the vaccsuit had gone.  Bridgehead suggests weighing Helia, but Shark says the first thing to do is a quick scan to see if she's red or blue.
    Bridgehead finds Helia in the lounge and runs the hand scanner over her.  She's mostly red -- not bad for someone who's held their breath for 22 hours.  Bridgehead agrees quietly with Shark that she should come down for an examination.
    Shark catches up with Helia later.  He says she should report to Sick Bay for her post-klatrin examination.  He then asks where 15% of her vaccsuit went.
    "Nowhere," says Helia predictably.
    "How do we get it back?" asks Shark.
    "We don't."
    "It's gone?"
    "And you, the rest of you?"
    "I'm here, I'm fine."
    "When the pieces of spacesuit were taken..."
    "Oh, yes.  Sorry about that."
    "Why didn't the pieces of you go too?"
    "The little swiss cheese holes in your space suit, that..."
    "Yes, I heard what you said, but -- it's obvious.  You don't know?  Oh."
    "See I'm just a cop.  A flatfoot.  You have to explain things slowly to a cop.  We still use gum and stuff."
    "Well... there's equations for it."
    "Yes.  There's equations for ballistic trajectory, but I don't have to know them."
    "OK.  It's basic stuff.  See?"
    Shark sighs.  He'd rather eat a grilled swiss cheese sandwich than see the equations for it.  Well, her zack looks intact.  He gives up and asks, "Since we did the jump without you, we weren't so sure of the calculations. Approximately how long will we be in this transition?"
    "The -- jump? -- will end tomorrow evening."  That would be five and a half days.

    Kalida suggests to Misha that he might want to make sure Helia stays on board for a while.  When Shark and Mich also arrive in the Lounge, she says adds that Robert took five trips to stop speaking galanglic, and now Helia is speaking only in mathematics.
    Mich says he's avidly recording everything she writes, says, and does, and hopes to make something out of it.
    Shark says that probably the best thing they can do for her is to take her back home, to her own kind, who actually have a chance of understanding her.
    But, as Kalida points out, that will have to wait.
    Shark agrees.  He asks the ship to tell him if she goes near any airlocks.

    The Baron reports that he's done his examination of Helia.  He's not sure quite what's changed.  It's very difficult to narrow it down.  There's an overall systemic change, but the readings are returning more completely to red.  Whatever it is, it seems to be wearing off.
    Mich wants to keep her churning out these equations, and to explain them, but he's not sure how long she'll have patience for their monkey brains and doesn't want to push it.  There is no-one else on board who might even come close to understanding it -- Mich is no slouch in this subject, after all, and he has no idea whatsoever what she's talking about.

068-1123 : 0807 / Lunion / Spinward Marches

    Much to Shark's private relief, everyone is at breakfast the next morning.  Aloud, he passes on that Helia said they would come out of jump in about twelve hours.
    Mich asks Helia what kind of suit she would need so it would not be damaged if she did that again.
    Helia says she just wouldn't bother with the suit next time.  She can hold her breath for a little while, and it wouldn't take very long.
    Kalida observes that apparently the zack would do just fine.
    Robert has run a literature search on the keywords Helia used yesterday.  He finds nothing.  There are no Bainsworth Postulates or Quilton Limitation.  Once Helia is elsewhere, he explains that in his experience klatrin doesn't give you more knowledge, it lets you see interconnects and expands your own insights into things.  A new theorem that someone else wrote doesn't pop into your head.
    Shark says she's extrapolating from knowledge from her own homeworld.
    Robert corrects him: she's extrapolating from her own knowledge.

    Mich does try to get Helia to talk about unspace with him, but she bores quickly.  She seems to think he's missing something very basic.
    Shark gets his robot dog to fly with the built in gravbelt.  He is concerned about battery life, and Mich assures him that he can replace the battery pack with a converter to run it off the ship.

    Later that evening, they come out of just in an empty area, right on time.  Callisto takes an hour to confirm what Mich and Helia already know, that they are exactly where they intended to be.  They jump immediately for Nexine / Mora, to come out in stealth mode.
    Kalida asks Helia when they'll be coming out of jump.  The larian says apologetically that it will be five and a half days, that's the best they can do.  With that assurance, she immediately goes to Robert who happily hands over her second 40cc of klatrin.  It tastes much better to her this time around.