PWD #31: Context is Everything
Context is Everything
Summary: Khrysos meets Ekho. Multi-threaded scientists talk about plate tectonics and crayons.
Date: 5/12/2012
Related Logs: None
Ekho Khrysos 
The Sciences department aboard the Orion has its primary facilities down here in labs surrounded by various gear. Each lab has its own label on the outside of the hatch and much of the hallways in this area are Limited Access to personnel. Hatches with names such as 'Stellar Cartography', 'Xenobiology', and 'Planetary Physics' line the halls, each one stocked with the equipment and capabilities needed by the Fleet to complete its surveys.
December 05, 2004 (PWD #31)

Normally, the labs are something of an organized chaos. Today…not so much. If a mad scientist's lab exploded all over the deck of a battlestar, this is what it would look like. Cargo containers are strewn everywhere, some belching puffs of smoke, others making odd clicking noises. Enlisted, notable mostly by the fatigues their wearing and the heavy boxes they're toting, grumble their way from the hallway and the freight elevators into the lab space and off towards a door on which has been slapped a velcro sign with the words Biosystems Engineering stencilled on. Hopefully the sign will one day be permanent, at least if the dark-haired Captain checking off deliveries is any indication.

Escorted to the area as his identification is newly minted and his face is new, one scruffy looking civilian arrives at the labs area. "Thank you, I'll take it from here," he says to the Marine, who leaves him to his business. And what a business it is. Regarding the chaos of the labs, casually strolling through and turning over this and poking at that, it seems as if the man was walking through a museum.

"Bacterial samples in the back. Uncrate them and put them in the red refrigerator, not the white one, unless you want to spend the next leg of the cruise explaining why your skin started falling off after you stole that sandwich while no one was looking." Ekho casts the lanky engineer who looks barely old enough to shave a glare, before she catches sight of the civilian. It's like seeing a lone red shirt in the middle of all that navy green. "Did they finally start sending up the slave labour? Excellent." That's said mostly to herself, but she does rub her hands together rather dramatically, before she hops down from the crate she'd been perched on.

At the approach of someone, the civilian ceases his cursory examination of the lab. Turning to meet the woman face to face, he raises an eyebrow. "So, when are they bringing the military-grade on board? Or is this it?" His tone of voice suggests either cock-sure arrogance or complete naivety.

"Hey now, don't knock the hard work that went into these crates. It takes a lot of desk jockeys working hard at those budget cuts to end up with equipment this cheap. There's a reason the best minds in science end up in the private sector." Ekho offers a hand, "I see you still have your eyebrows. You must be new meat." A glance down at the man's ID, "Doctor Pindar? Dr. Ekho Lin." Despite the uniform and the rank insignia, she seems to be happy enough to dispense with the military formality.

There's a hint of a quirk upward at the corner of the man's mouth. He takes the proffered hand and shakes. "Charmed," he responds, giving her a faint nod. "Really, I've worked with university graduate and doctorate budgets, and the equipment we were forced to scrape together was far superior to this. What do they expect us to do, take mineralogy samples with shovels and pans?"

"I'm sure you are." The shake is strong and sure, without any of that 'let's see if I can crush your hand posturing'. "If we're lucky. If not, I suppose we'll all be growing out our nails. But seriously, this is mostly my personal gear, which is why it looks like it was cobbled together at a science yardsale." Military salaries being what they are, and all. "This your first time up? I'll give you the tour. Unless you're here on business, in which case, mind the gaps, try not to end up in the reactor."

Khrysos shrugs helplessly. "Really, I've just been looking for something to /do/, other than go down to the planet on /shoreleave'," he explains, rolling his eyes in exasperation. "Truly, you're going to hire some outstanding civilian talent, and you're going to lock them up in an orbiting tin can with no assignments from CIDSR or orders from the Navy, and then you tell us to go on leave? Why? It's bloody cold down there! At least give my a tylium vein to measure, for the Lords' sake."

"How much do you know about the behavior of bacteria in microgravity?" Ekho seems to view that as a genuine question, before she addresses the doctor's concerns. "I can only imagine how frustrating that has to be for you. I can't speak for Navy command or for CIDSR, but I can give you a rundown of projects that are starting up in my neck of the woods, and if you're interested, you're welcome to pitch in."

"I know those words, 'bacteria' and 'microgravity'," Khrysos says, scratching at his chin in mock-deep-thought. "No, seriously, I'm not the right person to talk about that. My specialties are general geology, exogeology, and a smattering of kobolforming. I focus on biological processes on a macro level only. Yourself?" He asks, meaning Ekho's specialties. He folds his arms across his chest, but with face passive with eyebrows lifted, indicating his at least feigned interest.

"Kobolforming, though, I'm told that that sounds a little too much like fantasy, so they're starting to use Biosystems Engineering to make it seem more 'legitimate'." The bane of modern science, is that it often often ending up sounding like and being confused with bad science fiction, "and Chemical Engineering. But I think I might have just the thing for you." Ekho turns, not waiting to see if the man's following, but heads into the office most of the crates seem destined for, vaulting over one in the way of her path to her desk, before she starts digging in a cabinet. "There's a plate techtonics study that's getting ready to gear up. I know there's been a bit of talk about their movement and how they might effect the EM fields being generated by the core."

Khrysos does, indeed, follow. "If it's anything like your standard iron-nickel molten core, it generates a wonderful magnetic field that prevents the atmosphere from being stripped off and makes colonizing actually worth it," he says by way of explanation, although Ekho likely needs none. "Every new world is slightly different, of course."

"Eh. Larger, but the composition isn't significantly different. At least as far as my knowledge goes. Your mileage may vary." She hands over a thick folder when she finally plucks it out of the equally chaotic filing system. Perhaps the mess is part of her 'process', "From what I've been hearing the main concern is with the strength of the magnetic fields the core is generating. Partly because the fields extend so far down towards the planet's mid latitudes, but another concern is the strong electrical storms that it generates. But there's been some talk about potentially trying to harness the energy when it presents itself." With the folder handed over, Ekho slams the drawer back closed, and moves on to the next one. "Tylium…tylium…why does that stick out in my memory?"

"Because my contract with CIDSR, as well as nearly other civilian on board, believed this to be a tylium mining operation," Khrysos says drolly, clearly displeased with being deceived. "'Eighteen months' was pretty much the only true factoid in the bloody thing. But I'm not bitter. Noooo." He lazily thumbs through the folder. "Hmm. I'll have to go over this in detail. Were these notes compiled by the previous tour's compliment?"

"Don't think it was just because you were a civilian. Most of the crew was and is just as much in the dark as you were. When it comes to keeping secrets, Doctor, believe me, the military is equal opportunity. Would you prefer if it was a tylium mining operation? Or would you rather dip your toe into a planet and a system most people have never even heard of? However you got here, this is the final frontier. What I have there is the last tour's notes. I know we've lost quite a number of the original geological survey crew to the changeover. But there're still a few around who can give you the walkthrough in much better fashion than I could. But no, that's not why it stuck out in my mind." Ekho slams the next drawer and keeps on in the next, "I know it's around here somewhere."

"It wouldn't matter if we were searching for Kobol itself, my dear Doctor," Khrysos responds, flipping the folder closed and sticking it up under an arm for convenient holding. "I had little choice," he adds, dropping his voice and frowning at himself. He scratches at his beard again, clearly thinking back to some past moment. But Ekho slamming shut one of the file cabinets breaks him out of his reverie. "I see you need a new filing system, as well," he adds.

"Which we might very well be, Doctor." Ekho pauses, looking up from the cabinet drawer she's searching through, "Have you seen the flora and fauna down there? How do you suppose they got there? That's a hell of a long distance for some seeds to drift. Doesn't it strike you a bit odd that the life down there is so much like the life in the Colonies? Why is there no record of the system or the people that might have seeded it?" At the man's comment about her filing system, Ekho grins, "All of my filth is in alphabetical order." She pulls what looks to be a sample cylinder out of the drawer, the window panel showing something oozing and bright green, "This, for example, was under 'H' for 'Toy."

"The Sacred Scrolls tell us that the Lords spread the 'seed of life' far and wide… although I think that's just another over-analyzed interpretation that covers up for the gods' sexual perversions." Khrysos sniffs, rubbing his nose. "Not that I know anything about mythology or religious history." He regards the cylinder. "I'm not entirely sure how I feel about you showing me your toys this early in our relationship, Doctor."

"The gods…" She just looks at the man, "Really? Really." With a silent 'a-ha', she pulls the folder she seems to have been looking for out of the drawer. It seems to have been decorated by what look like bunnies and carrots all done in bright primary crayon, all done in a very childish hand. The typed label reads, 'PLANETARY ECOSYNTHESIS AS ECOLOGICAL SUCCESSION'. "Don't worry, the really shocking stuff is under 'L.'. "We've also been looking at the feasibility of creating micro-climates in different regions as necessary." She offers the folder over, "I wouldn't mind a fresh set of eyes on it."

Khrysos raises an eyebrow and stifles a chuckle. "I commend the artist. I especially appreciate the particular choice of orange in that one carrot there. What is that, 'burnt sienna'?" He accepts the folder, and flips it open. "I didn't think they made that color any more… hmmm. Microclimates. I've read about it. Requires a considerable investment in power and often requires a large source of carbon dioxide. They tried something like this on Pallas, but it didn't take; its eccentric orbit made resupply difficult." And he begins leafing through the hexoganal pages.

A grin from Ekho, as she settles back into her chair, "Clear a pile, if you need it." The two other chairs in the office are piled high with books and other papergoods. "My girl has a mighty collection of crayons. Apparently, she's quite the dealer at her school. She eats the ones she doesn't like." Multi-threading seems to be the way the woman's mind works, "But that was on a dead world. This would be on Piraeus' stable orbit moon, which might be more viable." But there'd have to be much more extensive geological survey work before that could be determined.

"Ate them, eh? There's no accounting for the taste of a child," Khrysos says, shaking his head. "If you don't mind, I'd like to borrow these," He asks, finishing going through the decorated folder. He untucks the other folder and sticks this one inside of that one, to cover up the artist's work. "I'd like to make my own copies and then dig up the data that the previous team has logged. In other words, I'd like to start working on something resembling a plan for exercising these theories."

"She takes after her mother." But once Khrysos makes his intention to get to work, or something resembling it clear, Ekho returns to her feet, "Not at all. Feel free to take whatever you need out of it and get started. Have they set you up a space in here to work?" Since it makes no real sense to keep the two science departments THAT separate. "I think I saw an empty space down by xenobiology."

"Wonderful," Khrysos rolls his eyes again. "I would have much preferred somewhere closer to the armpit of sciences. Perhaps next to mycology. But no, xenobiology will do /just/ fine." He tucks the doubled folder back under his arm. "Thank you, Doctor Lin. I'll be seeing you, no doubt. And I'll see if I can't find any crayons for you." And with a slight dip of his chin in a bow, he pushes off whatever he was leaning on, and turns to go.

Ekho makes no move to stop the man from departing, flashing that grin again. Either the suffering imposed on her by the military have broken her sanity, or she just has a twisted sense of humour, "Better the armpit than the anus. And if you find any, I prefer the red ones."

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