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 Post subject: Long Way From Home
 Post Posted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 3:53 am 
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The Pandora. Humanity's first long-range colony ship. Full of the brightest and best, the shining jewels of humanity, off to seed a new world.

The Pandora. A way to get rid of opponents, idiots, and other undesirables, forever.

The Pandora. Humanity's best hope for escaping the eventual death of the star Sol.

The Pandora. An idiot's dream that could never, ever, work in practice.

There were as many opinions on the spaceship as there were people to voice them. But, on one point, everyone involved was in agreement.

The Pandora was built to last. The state-of-the-art computer system, designed to hold any and every computing resource the colonists could ever want or need. Preserved food, guaranteed to last centuries, especially as it was stored in a complete vacuum. Power sources guaranteed to last hundreds of times longer than her first, and only, voyage.

And it was there that the trouble began. In any computer system, the clock is what takes the most power - thousands of gates, flipping back and forth, changing state hundreds, even thousands of times a second, just to keep track of time. Timeless computing is far more power-efficient. And, for most of the voyage, timeless computing would do - if the ship detected any danger, such as an incoming lump of rock, it could react in a variety of pre-programmed ways. The only thing it couldn't do was keep track of time.

And, for most of the voyage, the Pandora had no need to know the time. Only at the end, only when steering to a gentle landing on a suitable planet, was delicate timing at all necessary. And so, the Pandora's computer was designed - in order to save power - to run without a clock.

Because it would need to turn on the clock when its destination approached, though, the Pandora did have a timing mechanism. A purely mechanical clock, low-energy-usage, designed based on the work of the Long Now Foundation. A clock designed to last millions of years with zero maintenance and only the merest trickle of power; a clock with metallic gears, polished to a mirror-bright shine.

A clock that, along with mostly everything else on board the ship, was stored in vacuum, to best prevent atmospheric decay. Gears that rubbed - ever so gently - against each other, wearing off the thin layer of oxides that coated the surface.

It was as the Pandora travelled past the orbit of Pluto - before even leaving Earth's solar system - that two important gears welded themselves together.

And the clock. Stopped.

Ten thousand coldsleeping colonists, the Earth's best banks of equipment, thousands of tonnes of carefully preserved food, everything needed to create a brave new world on Gliese 667 Cc...

...but suddenly, the journey didn't have an end.

No preservation is perfect. Given enough time, everything fades. Every process ends. Every energy source eventually runs out. The Second Law of Thermodynamics offers no loopholes.

But given enough time, anything can be seen.

--------------

Code:
*P*A*N*D*O*R*A*

Login: root
Password:

You are now logged in as root. PANDORA is running in Timeless mode. Power supplies are **CRITICALLY LOW**

#> start clock

Starting clock.

...............

Clock started. PANDORA is now running in Clock mode. Please note that Clock mode uses more power than Timeless mode. Power supplies are **CRITICALLY LOW**

#> show status --colonists --summary

All colonists are in cryogenic sleep. 98% of colonists are healthy. 1.7% of colonists will require medical care on waking. 0.3% of colonists are dead. No colonists are currently awake. Power supplies are **CRITICALLY LOW**

#> start landing sequence

!!!WARNING!!! - scans for a suitable landing site or world have not been completed. Override scanning and land anyway <yes/no>? yes

Please enter coordinates:

>3, 21.43829, 33.54290, 1107.3524

Coordinates valid. Starting landing sequence. Power supplies are **CRITICALLY LOW**

#> logout


--------------

With a hissing noise, your cryosleep module opens.

It is clear, from the start, that something is wrong. You were not supposed to be the first people woken. The lights are out - only the indicator lights on the other cryogenic modules are glowing, barely enough to see your way around. (They are glowing green, at least - the occupants are alive).

You are weak. Your mind is foggy. This much was expected - cryosleep sickness. You were warned about it.

You were told that there would be a meal ready for you to eat the moment you woke up, to help you recover quickly. You were told that by the time you woke up, there would be hundred of others already up and awake. You were told that the fusion power supply that powers the ship would last for several centuries longer than the ship's first, and only, voyage. You were told that the solar panels coating the hull would provide a backup supply, more than sufficient for light usage. You were told that the ship would be well-lit, well-populated, that others would have things under control when you woke up.

Yet, despite all you were told, you are the first three to awake.

Nathan Snow.

Arkady Sergeyovich Fedorenko.

Felix False.

No other cryogenic capsules open.

Gravity suggests that you have landed. But clearly, something, somewhere, has gone wrong.

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 Post subject: Re: Long Way From Home
 Post Posted: Fri Feb 26, 2016 8:53 pm 
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Location: Praise be to the sticky elastic bands of the Healing Gauze
Felix fumbles his way out of the Cryosleep Coffin (as he always thought of them, there was always that niggling little doubt he'd never wake up despite all assurances to the contrary) and lowers himself to the floor, his feet touching the ground beneath the capsule. Examining his surroundings and seeing no activity, he begins searching for a means to navigate the darkness. Perhaps there's a flashlight around somewhere? Maybe an emergency kit of some kind? He'd even make do with a light switch. Felix investigates, then tries to make his way to a corridor to try and find his way around the ship.

"Hello?" He casts his voice into the darkness surrounding him as he searches. "Is anyone alive? Or awake? What's going on?"

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 Post subject: Re: Long Way From Home
 Post Posted: Fri Feb 26, 2016 10:42 pm 
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The little box next to Felix's cryosleep coffin contains, among other things, a flashlight (batteries are dead) and a tablet (batteries are dead). No working source of light, unfortunately; though the indicator lights of the other cryosleep modules provide just enough light for him to find the light switch.

The light switch works, and turns on some more light; it's dim, weak, and very clearly only emergency lighting, but Felix can see around. There are exactly two other cryosleep coffins currently open, and several thousand still closed.

Felix's stomach wishes it to be clearly known that it is Very Empty and has not had a good meal in several centuries.

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 Post subject: Re: Long Way From Home
 Post Posted: Fri Feb 26, 2016 11:06 pm 
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Location: Currently on expedition.
As the lights flicker to life, Nathan groans and blinks bleary eyes.

"Ung. I'm alive. I hurt too much to be dead."

Nate heaves himself out of his cryocapsule, and takes stock of first, himself, and then his surroundings.

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 Post subject: Re: Long Way From Home
 Post Posted: Fri Feb 26, 2016 11:31 pm 
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Status: Self, very hungry, a little bit weak.

Surroundings: Thousands of cryocapsules, still running. One small box of personal effects, close at hand. One guy standing at the light switch, one more stirring in his own cryocapsule. A distinct lack of the medical professionals who were supposed to be there when you got up.

...this is odd. The language Nathan was speaking just now? It's not English. He's never heard this language before in his life, and he has no idea what it's called. Despite this, he can speak it fluently, and understand it perfectly, as do Felix and Arkady (neither of whom had ever heard this language before entering cryosleep, either).

Cryosleep isn't supposed to teach you additional languages, is it?

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 Post subject: Re: Long Way From Home
 Post Posted: Fri Feb 26, 2016 11:43 pm 
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Felix does a comical double take, or at least he starts one before stopping mid motion and grabbing his head in discomfort from the sudden motion. Did Nate just speak a different language, or is the cryosleep sickness playing tricks with his own brain?

"Hey Nate. Not sure if it's you or me but you're sounding a little funny."

Felix pauses for a moment to contemplate his own voice as well.

"Maybe it's me, I guess..."

Felix moves to retrieve his personal effects from storage. He gingerly eases himself into shirt, pants and boot and last, but not least, his personal visor. Booting up the HUD, he checks to see if it's working. A few seconds of operation later he realizes it must be working to some extent if it turned on at all and dismisses the thought.

"I don't know what's going on, but I'm gonna go find out."

Felix grabs the map and starts towards the hallway. He'll head to whichever is closest be it the medical bay or the mess hall. If anyone else is activity they'll be heading that way. Answers must be had and those are two of the more likely spots to find the people that have them.

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 Post subject: Re: Long Way From Home
 Post Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2016 12:05 am 
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Nate pauses and thinks about what he just said. Or rather, how he said it. With this in mind, he tries out a few of the more important phrases he learned in other languages as he sets about the vital task of putting on pants, socks, shirt, boots, and jacket, before emptying out the remainder of his personal effects into his pockets.

"I don't know why I'm surprised. You never trust the brochure."

He casts a look over Arkady. Although pretty good at patching people up, there's not much he can do for the man without some kind of medical supplies or herbs, and he knows next to nothing about the kind of hazards cryosleep may pose, or how to treat them. He takes the time to throw the man's coat over him before following after Felix, marking his way with a grease pencil stub out of habit.

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 Post subject: Re: Long Way From Home
 Post Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2016 12:23 am 
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The mess hall is closest. It is dark, quiet, and completely abandoned. There's a lot of dust.

There's an attached kitchen. According to the notoriously unreliable brochure, it's supposed to have hyper-preserved food, which should remain edible for something like twice as long as the voyage was supposed to last.

Nate finds that if he deliberately tries to speak a given language, then he speaks that language. His knowledge and understanding of all the languages he spoke before cryosleep are completely unaffected. He simply has an additional language to choose from.

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 Post subject: Re: Long Way From Home
 Post Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2016 12:38 am 
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Location: Praise be to the sticky elastic bands of the Healing Gauze
Felix makes a beeline for the attached kitchen and the supposed "hyper preserved" food. His stomach is rumbling like the fresh split of a mighty canyon and it demands satiation. He'll attempt to find whatever is the easiest to fix and will dole out three extra large helpings for the different people that have woken up, assuming his mentally weary state will let him cook food.

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 Post subject: Re: Long Way From Home
 Post Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2016 12:51 am 
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As Felix fixes "breakfast" Nate tries the tap in the kitchen to see whether the plumbing survived. If so, he fills a pitcher full of water and grabs a few glasses to pass out.

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 Post subject: Re: Long Way From Home
 Post Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2016 1:02 am 
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Unfortunately, hyper-preserved or not, there's nothing edible left in the kitchen. There's a lot of cans - most with strange stains on them - but the stench that comes out when Felix opens one immediately tells them both that the contents are so far past "inedible" that they'd have better luck eating their shoes. There's some stuff that's supposed to be dehydrated, but all that's left of is is strange-coloured stains inside the packets.

The plumbing may or may not have survived; but if the plumbing has survived, then the water has not. The tap produces nothing.

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 Post subject: Re: Long Way From Home
 Post Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2016 1:14 am 
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Location: Praise be to the sticky elastic bands of the Healing Gauze
Felix gags slightly at the stench that comes pouring forth from the cans. He is similarly vexed at the lack of anything else apparently edible. Just how long have they been out? he makes his way to the ship's bridge to try and find answers. If there isn't anyone there, he'll see if the computer has anything in store for him. He'll likely try and get readings from the planet as well, if he can pull something like that up.

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 Post subject: Re: Long Way From Home
 Post Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2016 3:40 am 
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Disapointed, and rather concerned, (How long have we been asleep?!) Nate follows after Felix to the bridge, but will stop at an equipment storage locker if one should pop up along the way.

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 Post subject: Re: Long Way From Home
 Post Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2016 5:11 am 
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Felix: Science: Skill: +3 Coldsleep Sickness: -2 Roll: +2 Total: +3

Felix tries to estimate how long they've been asleep, and runs out of zeroes.

Way, way longer than they were supposed to be asleep, that's for certain. But surely they've still at least got enough power to run everything - the ship's nuclear plant should, in theory, last for several millennia if power usage is kept low, so one would expect at least a couple of centuries worth of power remaining.

Soon, Felix and Nate reach the bridge; and directly opposite from the bridge is a door labelled "EQUIPMENT STORAGE ROOM VII".

The bridge, like everything else on the ship, is dark and cold and quiet (until the lights are turned on; then it's merely dim and cold and quiet). The big screen at the front is turned off, but there's a small screen off to the side showing a message.

Code:
**POWER CRITICALLY LOW**

All non-essential systems and non-crew computer access shut down to conserve power.

To restore power to non-essential systems, attach a new power source. See printed manual under the seat for instructions.


...Felix should probably add a few more zeroes to his estimate of how long they've been out.

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 Post subject: Re: Long Way From Home
 Post Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2016 5:34 am 
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Nate opens up the door to storage room VII, using the manual override if needed, and takes inventory of it's contents, fingers crossed.

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