Shipping Out

* Monday, May 25, 2071. And at the apartmento del Manoa-Perez, sunlight slowly drifts into the windowed rooms, helping to wake up any slumbering beings within...

* Tina hasn't been slumbering, truth be told. She's been damnably busy, and is now looking at the unnaturally, clean, packed, and sterile reaches of her place.

* She is also holding a longhaired calico cat closely, blinking rather rapidly.

* Valerie hasn't been doing the thing of sleep either, as she too has been rather occupied.

* Nor have the hamsters, for that matter--both Dominations have been doing a spot-check to make sure that the place is all taken care of.

## INServ rolled 3d6 = 7 (2 4 1).

* Looks it! At least at the hamster-eye view.

* Val meanwhile regards Tina.

* Tina doesn't seem to be noticing Val just yet.

* Meanwhile, two little furballs snorfle through rooms, just because.

* Val waves a hand in front of Tina's face.

* Tina startles, blinking. {q} "Oh, wait, sorry, Valanna..."

{Val} Are you all right?

{Tina} Um, er...sorta? {tiny grin, strokes Boop}

{Val} Just making sure. You seemed a bit dazed. *wl*

* Tina looks down. "Yeah... A little. Just....I want to see Ian, but... the price is well... {hugs a somewhat protesting but not very Boop} I have to leave her behind. It's not going to be easy, Val."

{Val} She'll be cared for, I'm sure.

{Tina} Yeah, I know. Paul will take her in. Still, it hurts. {Truth} When's Paul coming by?

* Val nods at the Truth in that statement, then glances at her watch. "9, if everything remains on schedule. The train will leave at 10 and we'll be bound for Bernal Alpha by noon."

{Tina} Bernal Alpha, where'm not sure, to be honest. It involves training and weird allergy tests for coldsleep, yes, but what about tourist attractions? {tiny, strained grin}

{Val} There is some distraction there. It -is- in effect a small city. I've been through there previously.

* Tina looks up in interest. "You were? Cooool. What's it like?"

{Val} Fairly pleasant place, compared to some other stations. *wl* The architecture is rather like France in its general design. And they do have several nice restaurants there. *ss*

{Tina} ...Food. Food cures most if not ills. At least from where I'm standing. {small smile} And oo, France. Speaking of other places I haven't been through...

{Val} Perhaps you'll have an opportunity in the future.

{Tina} True....true...

* Tina checks her watch.

## INServ rolled 3d6 = 12 (4 4 4).

* 4 minutes to incipient Paul!

{Tina} {q} Paul's just about going to be here now.

{Val} Mm. We should be ready, then.

* Tina nods. "I know where my stuff is. {louder} Hey, Muon, Tau, general quarters, you two!"

* Two furry little streaks can be seen buzzing for the living room at a rate which is really damn funny for the most part. There are affirmative squeaks.

* Val might have smiled faintly there. Hard to say.

* *ding dong*

* Tina looks down at the armful of cat she has. "Um...."

{Val} I'll get it. *ws, goes to open the door*

{Tina} Thanks, Val.

* Val opens the door for the nice police officer on the other side.

* There is a nice police officer on the other side. There's also a glasses-wearing curly-brown-haired woman on the other side, and a short coiffed purple-dyed-haired woman as well.

{Paul} Morning, Val... Tina, I don't suppose you mind two more tagging along? *slight grin*

{Gwynn} Hiiii, Tina! *grin*

* Zoe chuckles, and cleans her glasses before replacing them. "Hey there, Tina... didn't think you could run off without us, hmmm?" *wink*

* Tina blinks and looks up. "*Hey* ya....I sure wouldn't... Fancy meeting you here, Gwynn, Zo. {small grin} Val, this is Gwynn and Zoe, Gwynn, Zo, this is Valerie, she's tagging along on the upward and outward with me."

{Tina} No, you're very persistent on making sure you follow me everywhere, Zo. {small wink}

* Zoe chuckles. "Pleasure to meet you, Valerie... so, you're heading up to TriOp too?" She offers her hand to Val. "I swear, it's all Tina's talked about for the past week. How'd you hook up with her?" *wink*

* Paul blinks at the last statement, and looks quickly at Tina.

* Tina hmms. "Knew her from earlier in life, she was en route to O'Hare too, so she decided to drop on by to help with the packing." {wg}

* Val arches an eyebrow. "I'm sure she's found -something- else to talk about recently, and a pleasure to make your acquaintance." *wl, about to glance at Tina but relaxing as she speaks up*

{Tina} Oh yes. Such as, "will there be decent tea in space."

{Val} Starlight Cafe was able to produce that, the last I heard. *wl*

* Zoe chuckles, releasing the handshake. "Too true, too true... she's talked about that, and seeing her boyfriend, too." *winks at tina*

* The Kyriotates, in the meantime, have somehow snuck into their little carrying cage and look like innocent dumb rodents. Really.

* Tina goes very red. {m} "S'true, yeah..."

* Val chuckles faintly.

* Gwynn, meanwhile, is looking in at the innocent dumb rodents. "Hey, Tina, why's Officer Mansfield letting you take Harvey and Dent with you?"

* Tina looks sheepish. "Good luck, and well... {voice wavers a bit} since it's not too feasible for me to take Splat with, it's more effective for me to manage small animals. Keeps me from losing it totally, yanno?"

* Paul chuckles, and then sobers a bit. "Because, Miss Sheffield, she wanted some company on the trip and on the station, and hamsters have lot less upkeep.

* Paul moves over, and rests a hand on Tina's shoulder.

* Gwynn nods. "Ohh. Well, don't worry, Tina." She gets up and moves over to hug her. "We'll be sure to stop by and give her plenty of TLC and stuff."

* Tina accepts both hand and hug. "Thanks. {voice wavers more} She's my kitty, you know?"

* Zoe moves over. "And she'll always be your kitty, Tina. And you'll be back. Hey, I need -somebody- to share Gym time with come Fall Semster..." *wink* *hug*

{Tina} Gym. Whee. Gotcha. {small grin, hugback} I shall remember this thing.

* Zoe taps Tina's nose. "You do that." She then checks her watch. "And you got everything packed so we can carry it out to the car?"

* Gwynn releases the hug, and kneels down to make googly noises at the hamsters.

{Muon} . o O (Must...resist...googly noises back!)

* Val arches an eyebrow.

* Tina very, very reluctantly lets the cat go. "Yep. That we do."

* Tau winks at Val when no mortals are looking. and elects for reenacting a brief series from

* Paul accepts the cat. As it turns out, he brought in a car carrier, a larger cousin to the one the hamsters are in. He manages to get Boop Splat in there without too much difficulty thanks to his decent Knowledge(Pet Care) skill.

* Val rolls her eyes while no one is looking.

* Tau squeeks a giggle.

* Gwynn doesn't notice, having been drafted by Zoe to start lugging stuff out of the apartment.

* Boop doesn't fight too much yet, not knowing that she's being taken off premises. Plus, this doesn't have Going to the Vet vibes. Tina meanwhile wipes at her eyes fast when nobody's looking.

* Paul offers Tina a hankercheif.

* Tina takes it, covertly, smiling at him a bit.

* Paul smiles slightly, and helps shifting stuff out as well, taking Boop's carrier. This leaves the hamstercarrier, Tina, and Valanna alone in the apartment...

{Tina} {vq} Well.

{Val} *nods* Well, indeed. Should we join the moving effort?

{Tina} {q} We should, yup. Though granted I don't have too much crap I can take with...the rest Paul's sticking into storage for me.

{Val} Indeed. Still, the sooner it's dealt with the sooner we can be on our way. *small smile*

{Tina} Yup. {gets up} Let's to it then.

* Val nods and joins in the moving of stuff.

## INServ rolled 3d6 = 14 (6 2 6).

* Much shuffling of things about and moving of items later, Tina's apartment is closed up, and hers and Val's cargo is securely packed in the back of Zoe's car, and Paul's police cruiser, leaving room for Tina, Val, Paul, Boop, and hamsters in Paul's car. This just leaves them... oh, about 10-15 minutes for them to get to the Illinois Terminal on University....

* Tina piles in the car, unsuprisingly close to the Boopcarrier.

* Paul looks at his watch, and frowns. "Time's a-wasting, ladies. Let's get a move-on..." He looks back at where Gwynn and Zoe are getting into their own care. "And NO SPEEDING!"

* Zoe and Gwynn chorus: "We won't, Officer Mansfield!"

* Val takes the front passenger's side again, hamster carrier in lap.

* There is muted rodent sniggering from the direction of the Seraph's lap.

* Paul gets in, locks the doors, buckles up, and glances down at the Seraph's Lap. He shakes his head, starts the cruiser, and drives off into traffic.

* Tina stays in the back, near the carrier.

* Val watches traffic in dignified -- well, as dignified as one can be with a hamster cage on one's lap -- silence.

* Traffic is typical for Urbana/Champaign at 10 am on a monday morning... just reaching the tail end of the workday rush. The Illinois Terminal becomes visible on University, traffic surprisingly controlled around them. Gee, could it perhaps be the fact that they're in a police cruiser be a factor?

* Tina looks around, quietly.

* Paul drives onward, keeping his own thoughts to himself. Meanwhile, behind them, Gwynn waves at Tina through the windshield.

* Tina blinkies after a moment, and wavies back at Gwynn.

* Gwynn gives Tina a thumbs-up.

* Tina thumbs back.

* Meanwhile, Paul pulls into the terminal proper, and parks at the curb of the passenger-unloading/dropoff area. "And... here we are..."

* Val gets out once the car has stopped, hamsters in tow.

* Tina nods, grimly sliding out, her face very set.

* Paul gets out as well, and rests a comforting hand on Tina's shoulder.

* Tina nods, smiling a tiny bit.

* Zoe's car pulls up behind the police cruiser, and the twosome get out, Gwynn hunting down a cargo-trolley quickly while Zoe waits by the car.

* Tina wavies at them.

* The twosome wave back, quickly getting the trolley loaded up with Tina and Val's luggage. Zoe makes like a slave-driver, miming whipping motions as Gwynn tows the cart behind her. "Mush! Mush I say!"

{Gwynn} ...yesssss, matttthter....

* Val arches an eyebrow at that, then shakes her head and looks for luggage to move.

* Tina blinks, and giggles a bit at the scene. "You two are sick, strange people."

{Gwynn} And proud of it! *grin*

{Zoe} Speak for yourself, Gwynn. *wink*

* All the luggage is nicely loaded on the cart for moving into the nice station. The station with the nice train. The train that's likely to leave in 10 minutes or less and Our Heroes need to be on...

* Val checks her watch. "I believe we need to move quickly, everyone."

* Paul nods at Val. "Understood."

{Tina} {q} Gotcha.

{Gwynn} Then what're we all standing around -here- for? *wry look*

* Gwynn makes double time for the terminal gates.

{Zoe} ... gotta admit, she's got a point. C'mon, Tina. *slight smile as she takes Tina's arm*

* Tina erks and goes with.

* Val follows.

* Paul chuckles, following the group and looking nice and policelike as they reach the checkin counter. "You got your tickets already, Tina?"

* Tina nods taking them out. {q} "Yup."

* The ticket counter lady smiles at the group as they approach. "Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Illinois Terminal. May I see your tickets, please?"

* Val has her tickets in hand and presents them.

* Tina presents hers as well.

* The ticket-lady nods at the tickets, double-checking the names on them with any presented ID's. "Very well, Ms. Ellison, Ms. Manoa-Perez. Do you have any luggage or baggage to check?"

* Tina indicates her Pile o' Horror.

{Ticket-lady} I... see. *slight smile* Has your luggage been out of you direct control at any time? *she glances at the carrier with the hamsters* And I assume the pets are accompanying you on the train?

{Tina} No, and yes. {small smile}

{Tina} Sorry about that, going off-planet with me.

* Paul, Gwynn, and Zoe start loading the Pile o' Horror into the notch of the counter, each item getting tagged by a little robotic arm with stapler before being pulled to the side.

* The ticket-lady's eyebrows go up. "Oh really? Where you headed?"

{Tina} Bernal Alpha. Then outwards beyond.

{Ticket-lady} Oh, cool... I've got a cousin who works up on Bernal Alpha... *she then blinks, and flushes, realizing she's gotten distracted.* ... anyway... Has any unknown person given you anything carry aboard the train?

{Tina} Noooo, I shouldn't think so....

{Val} Not that I'm aware of.

* The ticket-lady nods, and presses a button. Tina and Val's tickets get stamped and returned, and a conveyor whisks the luggage away. "Well, here you two go, then... your seats are 35-A and B, and your train departs from platform 5 in... 5 minutes, so you'd better hurry! *she winks* Have a nice ride, and thank you for choosing Amtrak!

{Val} Thanks very much.

{Tina} Thanks. {small grin}

* Indeed, the terminal PA system announces "City of New Orleans, Train 7, Departing for Chicago on Platform 5 in Five Minutes...."

{Val} I believe that's our cue. *wl*

{Tina} {q} Yup, it is. {turns and gives Paul a brief, fierce hug}

* Paul nods, and then urps, hugging back equally tightly. He whispers in Tina's ear. *vqw* "You two keep the furryboys under control?"

* Tina nods. {w} "Yeah.... {wavers a bit} And take care of her....please...?"

* Paul nods slightly, still hugging. *qw* "I will, Tina. I promise. I'll even Geas myself to it if you want."

{Tina} {qw} Nah. Rather just because you wanted it. But do...well, Need it. And...I have to go.

* Paul nods a bit, and then pecks Tina on the cheek, quickly. *qw* "Gotcha." *vvqw* "Proud of you. Love you. Take care, Tina."

{Tina} {vvq} You too, Paul. {peck back, and draws away to Val, with one last wave} Better go, Val.

{Val} *nods* That would be wise, yes.

* Tina nods. "Let's go, then..."

* Paul waves back. Gwynn pulls out a noisemaker, and pops it, showering the two angels with Confetti.

{Gwynn} Au Revouir! Auf Wheiderzen! Bye-bye!

{Tina} ..Meep!

* Zoe, meanwhile, just waves without rolling her eyes TOO much.

* Tina eeps and heads for platform five even as she's showered!

* Val hehs faintly and goes with Tina, waving briefly to the others.

* Platform 5 is reachable... there's a conductor waiting for the last stragglers. An automated loading conveyor is already retracting back into a custom niche.

* Tina heads for the conductor, carrying hamstercage. "Wait for us, sir." {wry grin}

* The conductor smiles as they get there. "Tickets then, miss...."

* Tina grins a bit and gives him her tickets.

{Val} Yes, our baggage took a bit longer than anticipated. *wl, hands her tickets over as well*

* Tina grins a tiny bit, catching the conductor's eye for no good reason.

## Tina rolled 3d6 = 8 (1 6 1).

* The conductor has a nice little Need to make sure everybody's on board!

* Tina decides that this is probably a good thing to help with, dimpling and giving him her most radiant smile. "Sorry for the wait sir, have a good day."

* The conductor punches the tickets, and smiles, tipping his hat at the twosome. "You too, ladies and friends." He winks, and watches for anybody else left to get onboard.

* Val hehs and heads onboard with the hamsters.

* Tina looks for any open seats.

* The seats they've been assigned are open! Adjacent to one another, imagine that.

* Val is pleased to see this and takes her seat.

* Tina hehs a bit and takes whatever one comes to her first, arranging hamstercage on her lap.

* As the twosome sit, a voice announces from an overhead speaker: "Amtrak's City of New Orleans, train Seven, departing for Chicago!" A train whistle blows, and the view outside the windows starts to move back....

* Tina tries not to look outside, swallowing a lump back in her throat.

* The view moves faster, and faster, as the adapted maglev drive kicks in once the train leaves the station, accellerating faster and the scenery starting to blur.

* Val pats Tina's shoulder comfortingly, smiling faintly.

{Tina} {q, rather wavery, wry Kosh voice} And so it begins. {accepts the pat} Thank you, Val. What can I say, I'm really sentimental.

{Val} I've noticed. *ws*

{Tina} Heh, yeah. Chock full of sentiment. What can I say, my kitty is one of my few friends, yanno? Sorry if it gets too much? {small wry grin}

{Val} I've seen far worse. *swl*

{Tina} Oh, good. I'm afraid you'd be irritated by weepiness.

{Val} I'd be irritated if it wasn't True sentiment.

{Tina} It's true, all right. {scritches the hamsters through the cage bars} True's I can manage.

* Val nods, smiles wryly at the hamster skritching, and looks out at the passing scenery.

* The scenery passes by rapidly. The train itself is pretty decently appointed, with comfy chairs and fold-up trays on the backs of said chair. Not extravigant, but comfortable for the regular business commuter.

* Tina sits back quietly, trying to meditate.

* Val's breathing slows a bit as she leans back and slips into light meditation.

* The soft sub-hum of the maglev magnets, and the sound of the air rushing by, serve as decent aids to meditation...

* And as the twosome meditate and try to relax, the train speeds onwards.. time slip slip slipping away....

{Announcer's voice} Attention please, passengers. We are now arriving at Chicago's Union Station on platform 15. Please secure any carry-on luggage, and return to your seats. Conductors will inform you when you are allowed to debark. Passengers who are heading to O'Hare International Aerospaceport are advised to confirm that their luggage is going to be on the unirail to the Aerospaceport before boarding.]

* Tina peels open an eye. "Okay, that spares us some worry."

* Val mms, unmoving.

* The scenery outside the train starts to unblur as the train itself slows.

* Before long, the train pulls into the station, the weight of the train settling on the rails and wheels, and it comes to a stop.

* Val straightens up and stretches a bit.

* The conductor from earlier walks down the aisle, double-checking that all the luggage is where it should be, and the passengers, and that the chairs are upright and whatnot.

* Tina starts to readjust spine.

{Conductor} Union Station stop! Exit's on the right.

{Conductor} And thank you for taking Amtrak. *he smiles*

* Various passengers get up out of their seats and claim carry-on luggage, debarking.

* Tina smiles back. "Thank you, sir." She sits and then stands up.

{Val} Thank you. *stands, waiting for Tina*

* Passengers shift by, the aisle being somewhat crowded now.

* Tina heads with Val.

* Val slides easily into the shifting crowd, making her way exitward.

* The exit is easily reached, and outside is the wide expanse of the central terminal for Union Station, having maintained its turn-of-the-century charm even with all the improvements. There's clear signage to the baggage claim areas, and to the unirail, and to checkout, and other places...

* Tina heads for the unirail, natch, with hamsters, Seraph, and all.

* Another ticket-lady stands near the unirail entrance, checking over flight tickets to confirm that the passengers are -indeed- intending to depart from O'Hare, and that the luggage will be routed correctly.

* Val presents her tickets for confirmation and waits for Tina to do the same.

* The ticket-lady accepts the tickets from the two, feeds them through a little barcode-scanner, and the device beeps. "Your luggage has been identified, ladies. Have a nice day."

{Val} Thank you. We'll try. *ws*

* Tina nodnods. "Thank you!"

* The ticket-lady nods, hands the tickets over, and waves them along. Just another pair of passengers with hamsters, move 'em along move 'em along....

* Muon momentarily makes a smiley face in his scanner for kicks.

* The ticket-lady goes "bwuh??" as she blinks at her scanner, and baps it against the turnstile, muttering.

* Val either didn't notice or pretends she didn't notice, proceeding onward.

* A ramp leads upwards from the gate to the Unirail... there's also a nice transparent conveyor next to them that passengers can see luggage being shifted along towards the unirail itself, sleek and white and not much chicago-grime on it, waiting on the auxillary platform.

* Tina gives the apricot hamster a *very* dirty look. Meanwhile, the scanner goes back to normal.

* Val makes her way up the ramp.

* The unirail's doors wait, open, for passengers to board, as they're doing right now.

* Tina goes with Val. {m} "The children seem to be getting bored." {gives cage another dirty look}

{Val} Hm? *noting Tina's look then looking suspiciously at the cage*

* There's a ping in the air, as an announcer announces that the next Unirail to O'Hare is going to depart in 5 minutes.

* Muon radiates the kind of little-kid innocence that makes you absolutely *sure* he's been up to no good.

* Val would resonate, except she needs to go elsewhere at the moment.

* Tina does as well, boarding into the unirail cabin.

* The unirail is a lot more inner-city commuterish than the train from Champaign was. However, it is at least pretty clean, and there's no crud on the carped floor. Hey, in 70 years, at least -somebody's- learned how to do commuter rail tolerably than just DC...

* Val hrms and finds a seat.

* Tina does as well, still giving dirty looks to the suspicions member of the hamster duo.

* The doors slide close, and the Unirail slides quickly and smoothly out of the station... the Chicago River and the cluster of buildings downtown, especially the Sears Tower, prominently visible along the right of the elevated train.

{Tina} Hmmmm.... {tour guide voice} And over there we can see the Sears Tower, which used to be the tallest building in the world until a bunch of annoying Malaysians got ideas back in the nineties....

* Val hehs. "Always trying to get to the top of the world."

{Tina} Getting higher's a good plan, far's I'm concerned. {small grin}

{Val} Indeed.

* The unirail continues to zoom onward, passing along the same path as Route 90 out of the city, inner-city sprawl spread out below them, criscrossing grids of automobiles, buildings, and people going about their lives....

* Tina watches it pass, seeing places she's been before as just a grad student.

* Val merely sees another part of the city, but watches nonetheless.

* Time passes... people watch the city move by, or read the paper, or play portable video games, or nap, or whatnot. Before long, the Unirail route curves to the left, and it passes over Schiller Park, making a beeline for the terminals of O'Hare International Aerospaceport.

* Tina lets both hamsters have a good look at things. Muon seems especially impressed, as this is his first time ever actually having seen something like this.

{Muon} {q} Wow... {yes, it comes out as a squeak to human ears not trained in Kyriotate dialogue}

* Val casts a glance in the hamsters' general direction.

* O'Hare International Aerospaceport ... sleek hypersonic planes take off, catching the air and streaking out over the city and land in several directions as others land, all choreographed in a silent ballet of air-traffic control orders. The Unirail iself is heading for the central terminal...

* Muon seems droolingly happy in a rodent manner at all that human ability hath wrought.

* Val resists an urge to roll her eyes, and looks toward the approaching terminal.

* The Unirail pulls to a stop. A pleasant recorded voice that one should exit on the left, and pick up your luggage at the revolving carrels, and that -all- luggage will be removed before new luggage comes on, so if you're not getting off here, you're soon going to be back at Union Station again and your luggage will remain here.

* Muon looks sad at Val, for being so jaded about all the wonders of the corporeal real--wait, she's a Seraph, that's probably her MO....

* Val doesn't notice the sad look as she's busy getting to her feet.

* The doors pop open, and people get up and start heading out, the press of people winding out and heading for baggage claim.

* Tina heads out with Val, heading for the baggage.

* Val moves easily with the crowd, heading for the baggage claim.

* Baggage begins pouring out of the train, and goes around and around and around and around on the conveyors...

* Val scans for familiar bags.

## INServ rolled 3d6 = 11 (6 1 4).

* Tina scans for well...her Mound O' Horror.

## INServ rolled 3d6 = 4 (1 2 1).

* ... there they are! Almost about to squish that guy's cello case... oh, wait, it's armored, phew. Incipient musical squashage averted.

* Tina manages to get several years not taken off her vessel's life.

* Val declines comment and extracts bags from the carousel.

* Tina grunts, curses, and tries with human-only strength to haul her luggage off.

* Bags are extracted. People move about carrying things, or renting the little tethered mechanized carts to carry their own heavy bags.

* Tina ends up having to rent a cart for her main cargo O' Stuff, trying to carry at least the duffel.

* Val makes sure the Stuff is all loaded onto the cart, and looks for directional signs.

* The cart is nice and compact, with a little tether-with-handle that makes the cart follow you when it's tugged, and stops when the line goes slack. And very nicely automated....

{Tina} . o O (Happiness....happiness and joy!)

* There are directional signs! Luggage claim and general services is this level, ticket counters for the various airlines on the second level, boarding and debarking for flights on the third level. Plus the requisite number of little shops, eatries, minimuseum, newsstands, Internet Gamma stations, restrooms, security booths, and crowds crowds crowds....

* Val checks her watch to see how much time is left.

## INServ rolled 3d6 = 9 (1 3 5).

* According to the clocks on the walls and Val's own watch (and heck, Tina's too), they've got about 40 minutes before their flight is due to depart at 12 noon. Now all they need to do is figure out which terminal and gate their flight's due to leave from, get their luggage checked in, and clear airport security, and there'll be noooooo problems at all...

{Val} Hm. I suggest we figure out where we're supposed to check in and get this payload squared away. *wl*

* Tina nods. Muon and Tau nodnod too. "What terminal is our company at?"

{Tina} Hmm hmm hmmm. Terminal C. We have a walk. Joooy. On the other hand the check-in for us is upstairs on the elevator over there.

* Val nods. "Let's get that taken care of, then."

* Mmmm. Elevators. Nice large elevators. Large elevators that many people are trying to fit into.

* Tina nodnods. "At least it's there. At least they had brains to put the Blue Line exit close to the entrance."

* Tina looks at this predicament, and whimpers.

{Val} Try to get as close to the doors as possible. Perhaps that pile of bags will put the fear of the Almighty in them. *wl*

{Tina} I like that plan. {mooooves it cloooser..... or maybe it's moving itself. Who knows by this point, only the innocent looking hamster in the cage she's carrying...}

## INServ rolled 3d6 = 9 (2 2 5).

* They're close! Really close! Close enough and to the side that by the time it opens again the people who are exiting to grab their luggage flow on by and give enough room for the hamsterpropelled mound of stuff to enter quickly.

* Val slides in after the Stuff quickly.

* Tina tries not to breathe. {squeaked} "Sorry, all...."

{Val} Perhaps a... garage sale is in order.

{Tina} {squeaked} I neeeed all this stuff....sorry about everybody's lung cavities and all, gotta leave the planet in 40 minutes....

* There are mutters of noncommital acknwoledgement or interest or dismissal or whatnot. The elevator dings as the doors slide shut and it ascends to the next floor.

* *ping!* Ticket counters, Luggage checkin, Customs, facilities, stuff, and trinkets!

* People (and their luggage) start pouring out.

* Tina and her amazing heap of stuff heads for luggage and tickets.

* Val goes with.

## INServ rolled 3d6 = 14 (5 3 6).

* The United ticket/checkin counters are found. Fortunately, Tina and Val already have their tickets. Unfortuantely, there's a.. rather sizeable line for checkin.

* Val hrms.

{Tina} ....I knew I shouldn't have cut it so close for takeoff, I knew it....

{Val} We're not stranded yet.

{Tina} No, but I'm having a nice wade in pessimism.

* The line slooooooowly moves forward. And of course, due to the nature of lines, it -always- seems like the other lines are moving faster....

* Val checks her watch repeatedly and affects the look of an impatient businesswoman to good effect.

* Tina just looks like an anxious college student who really really needs to get out of heeeere.

* Time... time keeps on ticking ticking ticking into the future... ticking into the future like a really laggy net connection... like a Shedite of Fate with Temporal Projection...

{Tina} . o O (AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH! Kronoshasgottenwindofourpredicamentandwe'llnevergetoutthereandthissucksohman)

* Eventually, their place in the line reaches the front, and the ticket-lady looks at Val. "Tickets and Identification, please?"

* Val hands her ticket folio to the lady and looks to Tina.

* The ticket lady accepts Val's folio, opens it, scans the flight ticket and identififaction, and then looks at Tina.

* Tina hands hers as well to the lady, yes, mildly vibrating with anxiety.

{Val} *eyebrow* Would you like a tranquilizer?

{Tina} Noooo, just onto the plane before I really need to do the last minute dash....

* Val checks her watch one more time to see how long they do have left.

* The ticket-lady scans that as well, and looks at them. "Ms. Ellison, Ms. Manoa-Perez, you'll be in seats 1-G and 2-G today. Our records indicate that this is your first flight up to Bernal Alpha, and that you're taking pets with you?"

## INServ rolled 3d6 = 14 (5 4 5).

* 25 minutes to takeoff!

* Tina nods. "Yes...two hamsters. I've the papers for them."

{Ticket-Lady} May I see them, please?

{Tina} . o O (Paul, when I get the chance again I will give you a big fat kiss for helping me with the red tape...) Certainly, ma'am.

* Tina shows them papers she has in her purse.

* The lady accepts the papers. "And the hamsters, please?"

* The lady glances through the papers, and also feeds them through an OCR sheet scanner.

* Tina waits, anxiously.

* The Ticket-lady peeers in at the hamsters in their carrier. She looks at the forms. Back at the hamsters again. Inserts a little pen sensor thingie to tap at them.

* The hamsters blink at her in dumb animal innocence from black beady eyes.

{Tina} Is there something wrong, ma'am?

{Ticket-Lady} Just checking that they are what the papers say they are.

{Tina} Er, what do the papers say they are? {blinks over at the offending documents}

* The ticket-lady pulls out the pen sensor thingie, puts it away, pulls out the documents, and seals them up in a ziplock plastic bag. "That they're one black and white and one apricot hamster, complete shots, ideal health, terran born."

* The ticket-lady affixes the forms-bag to the carrier.

* The ticket-lady then looks at Val and Tina. "Any luggage or baggage to check?"

* Val looks over at Tina's Stuff. "I have one suitcase in there somewhere." *wl*

{Tina} Why, yes, they are. I thought it was something bad. And yes. {indicates the pile of horror not counting the duffel and suitcase}

* The ticket-lady looks at them, and then at the notch next to her terminal. "Please place all items to be checked for cargo on the scanner," she says, as if to imply people should understand that automatically.

{Ticket-lady} Has your luggage been out of your direct control at any time?

* Val starts shoveling bags. "Not since we picked it up from the baggage claim, if that's what you mean."

* Tina urghs, and tries to lift. . o O (unless you mean posessed by smartalec Kyriotate no....)

{Tina} Came from union station....

* The ticket-lady mmms, and activates a scanner that does the 2070 equivelent of x-raying as each item of luggage is placed and shifted back into a queue. "Are these the contents of your luggage as you last saw them?"

* Tina peers at them.

* Val does too.

* All the stuff displayed, x-ray-like, appears to be just what they last left in there! The display points out things that might be suspicious, like, oh, Tina's mounds of computer stuff, but neither are taking any explosives or wacky celestial stuff (like they could detect that anyway... right? Right?)

{Val} Everything seems to be in order.

{Tina} Yes, ma'am. The weird stuff in there is my computer equipment, and that's as I packed it, as with everything else.

* The ticket-lady nods. "And has any unknown person given you anything to carry aboard the flight?"

{Tina} No.

{Val} No.

* The lady nods again, and presses a button. The twosome's cargo starts moving along a conveyor, and as it passes by a station, -another- roboticized arm with dispenser sticks luggage tag/labels on the articles as they pass into the depths of the airport.

## INServ rolled 3d6 = 8 (1 5 2).

* The ticket-lady hands back the ticket-folders to Val and Tina. "There's your tickets for United flight 152 to Bernal Alpha. Your flight leaves from Gate C-8 in 16 minutes, so you shouldn't have too much difficulty clearing security. Have a nice flight."

{Val} *accepts her folder* "Thank you."

{Tina} Thank you, have a nice day! {gives the ticketlady the sort of smile that with luck should help her feel better about the rest of her day}

* The ticket-lady blinks a bit at Tippy's smile, and makes a little bit of a better effort at her own.

* Val looks a bit wry, and leads the way toward C-8.

* Tina tries to navigate the Neverending Passage to Concourse C. {m, pitched so only Val can hear} "Hey, it's what I do. Give little gifts. If a little something makes someone's day suck less...

* Tina looks quietly wry, and gives a bit of a crooked grin.

{Val} *m* It works well. *small smile*

## INServ rolled 3d6 = 12 (5 3 4).

* Tina nodnods.

* The passage indeed feels neverending... that's likely due to all the people. But at least they don't have major luggage this time.

* Tina just has a cage with living cargo that she's trying to not jostle too much.

* Val keeps walking, watching for C-8 signage.

* Tina points to a sign. "8's thataway."

* First things first... time for terminal security check! C-8 lies beyond it, the promised land!

* Tina whimpers and heads for check.

* Val goes with, making sure she's got any metal stuff off her person.

* Tina takes off any metal on her, making sure the cage is all right.

* There are multiple scanner gates, with multiple conveyors with the little plastic bins for all auxilalry stuff to be placed in.

* Tina does all this thing.

* Val does too -- jewelry and watch, essentially.

* The stuff gets scanned. The angels gets scanned. The hamsters get scanned. All are as they say they are.

* Val goes to retrieve her shiny stuff from the basket.

* Tina does too, rather quickly. Meanwhile, Muon and Tau make weird zurping rodent noises as they get scanned, just for entertainment value.

* One of the guards chuckles at the rodents, but otherwise act like professional security guards, waving the twosome through so that other folks can be processed.

* Tina goes through, zeroing like an attuned Cherub onto the direction of Gate 8.

* Val follows Tina without comment.

* Tina isn't running. Really. Walking fast, maybe. Okay, *really* fast, and looking slightly insane.

## INServ rolled 3d6 = 13 (5 6 2).

* 10 minutes!

{Tina} {pause} She's a grad student. They're all slightly insane. Give her a break.

* {pause} She's a grad student. They're all slightly insane. Give her a break.

* Val still does not comment. Ignore the eyeroll. Really.

{Tina} . o O (AAAHHHHHwe'regoingtomissitohshitshitshitshitthegate'sprobablygonnaclosejustaswegettheredumbdumbLilim....)

* There appears to be something large moving close to C-8's boarding gantry. This -could- be their flight getting ready for boarding... or it could be just leaving....

* Val checks her watch one more time just to make sure.

* Tina makes a strangled eeeeeee sound, and whimpes, moving faster.

* Looks like they're on the boarding-end, not the departure end!

* Tina blinkies?

{Val} We appear to be safe. *wl*

* Tina relaxes audibly. "And now I feel very dumb."

* Indeed, as they get closer, they can see that the vehicle in question is a long and sleek two-stage craft, a large SCRam-jet and conventional-engined booster-wing which has a smaller but still winged crafted docked atop it. This top craft is the one that's getting the boarding-grantry attached.

{Tau} {m} And I feel jostled around.

* Tina raps the cage. {m} "Oh shuddup."

* Val calmly walks up alongside Tina and watches the gantry being moved into place.

* Tina watches too, impressed...she's been on flights before, but never offplanet, either with Lightning or with Technology.

* The lady at the boarding desk announces that United Flight 152 to Bernal Alpha is now getting ready for boarding. The gantry affixes into place, while another automated ramp rolls over and connects to the secondary vehicle over the booster wing, clearly for the loading of cargo containers.

* Muon just seems agog at all these proceedings, not only for the TOY! aspect but because of what they represent.

* Val waits patiently for their seat group to be called.

* Passengers get into line. Before long, Val and Tina's group is called.

* Tina moves with the herd, she does.

* Val is right alongside.

* Tina resists making moo noises.

* Up the gantry they go they go, up the gantry they go... and in they go into the main cabin of the Aerospace plane... which looks -remarkably- like every other transcontinental or suborbital plane they've been in before. Shock. Surprise.

* Val continues moving with the herd, moving toward the G row.

* Tina gives in to her darker side, and starts making 'baa' noises.

* Val eyerolls.

* Their seats are reachable. They are nice and comfy seats. They even have little display screens and folded-up trays in the back of said seats.

* Tina finds her seat. {m} "I wonder if we get peanuts."

* Val sits next to her. "We'll find out soon enough."

* More passengers file on. Couples. Businesspeople. Senoir citizens. Parents with children. Individuals. Eventually, it appears tat everyone has boarded, and the gantry draws away after the cabin airlock seals.

{Tina} I'd hope for sandwich. I order the veggie or ethnic cusine on flights. They suck much less.

{Val} Mm. They will give us something, that much is certain. *settles into her chair, relaxing a bit more*

* Tina nodnods, relaxing as well, adjusting cage in her lap after buckling in.

* The flight attendant appears at the front of the plane, and starts going through the standard preflight schpeil, with the additions that are to be expected given that the vehicle -will- be leaving the atmosphere and please don't unbuckle untill we tell you to, Absolutely no smoking, and please don't do dumb things.

* The other attendants walk down the aisle, confirming that yes, folks -are- buckled.

* Val is buckled, yes.

* The hamsters aren't, but for some reason are assuming Crash Position!

* The attendants move back up, and one of them remotely signals the pilots... the plane begins to move, taxiing out to the runway...

* Val's breathing slows as she slides into light meditation.

* Tina watches as much as she can out the window raptly. And is trying to shift the hamster cage so the newbie can look...provided he hasn't found um, other ways to look...

* The sprawl of O'Hare can be seen... the Aerospaceplane taxiis to one end, and starts to acellerate....

* The small apricot hamster looks around, and tries to find someone at a window seat he can leap for...

* ... There's a kid on the other side that he could leap for...

* Muon is cautious, as he doesn't want to spoil anybody else's enjoyment of the takeoff and this could be the kid's first time on a transatmospheric...

* Well, in that case, he could go for that bored-looking businessman, then...

* Muon nods to himself and hops!

* The businessman is taken! And just in time, as there's the slight jostling as the tires leave the tarmac, and the flight is now airborn.

* MuonMan tries to keep looking like a businessman, but it's a good thing nobody can see the "ooooo" expression in his eyes.

* This is fortunate, as the man's partner is sitting next to him working on something on a portable PC device.

* Meanwhile, Muon the hamster is enjoying the fun of multiple perspectives. Sometimes, it's good to be a Kyriotate.

* The ground quickly falls away beneath the vehicle, the Chicago metropolis and Lake Michigan spreading out beneath the view of the windows. There's a change in the tenor of the engines as the conventional engines get switched over for the SCRamjets.

* Muon experiences this all, simply thrilling to the so very mortal experience.

* The view continues to pull away, revealing more of the big blue globe of Earth, the skies and clouds a rapidly-pulling-away panorama...

* MuonMan tries not to gape. The hamster goes very still.

{Muon} . o O (This is what I'm trying to protect. This is. All of it...)

* ... and then, at a point around 60,000 feet, where most suborbital flights would begin their descent, there's a soft bump, and the boosterwing can been seen out of the windows falling down and back for the return flight to O'Hare... the shuttles own engines taking over for the flight, the Earth starting to be able to be seen in toto.

* Muon fuggets about it. He just gapes at the window.

* Tina is looking too, make no doubt about it, but she's a leeetle more restrained in her appreciation of things.

* There are a few other gapees, too, including the young boy who was a potential host earlier.

* Muon is *very* glad he learned Discretion in Hosts, then, because even if he didn't go dissonant at it, he'd have felt terrible at depriving the little guy the chance to see this.

* The ride smooths out, the pressure in the seats getting relaxed as atmospheric pressure goes to 0. The big blue marble of Earth turns below the aerospaceplane, and one of the flight attendants floats along a handhold at the front of the cabin. "Attention, passengers. We have now left Earth's atmosphere, and we have 45 minutes until we reach Bernal Alpha. For the next half hour, you may unbuckle and leave your seats. Please use the maneuvering handles to proceed from your seat to the restrooms, and be mindful of your fellow passengers."

* MuonHamster squeeps and hangs onto the bars of his cage with tiny paws. Tau seems more of an old pro at this and looks a bit blase as he floats upside down.

* Val's eyes slide open and she glances over at her companions to see how everyone's doing.

* Tina smiles a bit at Val, her hair floating around her face, seemingly impressed by the journey. "How is?"

* There's the sounds of several folks unbuckling, and floating out of their chairs, ooing. The more jaded folks stay -in- their chairs, mumbling about kids these days. At least one grabs a line and heads back to the restroom.

* Val moves her own hair back from her face. "Perfectly fine."

{Tina} I'm good. I think the boys are too.

{Val} If a bit fascinated. *wl*

{Tina} I think that's the orangey one. Still staring out the window even while hanging like a bat.

* Another flight attendant, followed by an automated maglocked cart, floats down the aisle, distributing small snack trays.

* Tina smiles when they reach the G row and accepts one.

* Val hehs a bit at the floating hamster, and accepts a tray as well.

* Tina ponders the contents of said tray.

* The snack tray is filled with a roll of hard candies, a 'drink bag' filled with orange juice and attached straw, a pudding-cup (with TWO, TWO FLAVORS!), and a 'Put the trash in here or we WILL have words with you' bag attached. Oh, and did we mention corporate label sponsorship?

* The foods are also verified 100% microgravity safe. Really. The airline does not take responsibility for attempting to use the food in any method other than ingestion.

* Tina looks at it, and looks very wry. "The snacks keep gettin' sparser and sparser..."

* Muon, meanwhile, with a sense of resignation, lets go of the businessman before his partner starts asking questions while in flight.

{Val} So it would appear. *wl*

* The businessman blinks as the Kyrio leaps out, and rubs his eyes. Must have dozed off during the takeoff...

{Tina} I guess we don't get the same fun stuff as during atmospheric flights. Pity.

{Val} They just don't want anything floating around the cabin. *wl*

* Tina pouts. "They're cheap." {muttered} "Gluttony postergirl, ask for her by name!"

* As an example, the kid from earler floats along the ceiling, paddling like a fish after a lifesaver, pursued by his rather annoyed mother. There are chuckles from some of the passengers, groans by others.

* Val looks wry at these goings-on.

{Tina} He's obviously enjoying zero gravity, though!

* Muon the hamster nodnods to Tina, cross-eyed with little pink paws splaying as he rotates in a small confused orbit through the top of the cage.

* The parent manages to retrieve her child, and drags him back to his seat, with much squirming and assistance from a more-experienced flight attentdant. Ohhh, so -that's- why they've got velcro on their shoes.

* Tina snrks at the scene.

* The flight continues onward.... the Earth gets a little bit smaller, but 'small' in that 'gee, that's a big thing floating around down there' sense. And ther's the flash of reflective sunlight off some object in the distance...

* Muon blinks, eeps, and tries to peer in a manner that won't put him into an uncontrolled spin.

* Val turns her attention toward the reflected light.

* The reflected light is just about in the right direction of space relative to Earth that would lead to Bernal Alpha, the sun reflecting off its equitorial mirrors...

* Another flight attendant announces that it's time for the passengers to return to their seats please and buckle down, as it's 15 minutes until they arrive at Bernal Alpha.

* Val never unbuckled her seatbelt so that's a non-issue for her.

* Tina didn't either, so that makes lifee much more convenient for her.

* Passengers get back to their seats, some with assistance, some not. Within 5 minutes, folks are all nicely back and buckled again, and one of the attendants collects the waste bags of any empty snack trays.

* Tina passes her trash over, and settles in for the final approach.

* Val does the same.

* The flight attendant thanks them with a smile. Another uses a small vaccum to help pick up some puddinggoop that didn't get sucked up and filtered by the ship's filtration system.

* In the distance, the source of the flash from earlier becomes more visible... a large, spherical structure, circumphrenced at the equator by a series of mirrors, then a ring of mirrors pointing inwards closer to the sphere's 'poles', then a series of ovaloid rings centered over the poles around a central shaft that extends both ends, large radiating fins sticking out right behind large manufacturing/factory/grantry facilities and communication arrays. The shuttle is beginning to rotate in synch to the station's rotation... the subtle feel of psuedogravity starts to pull at one's hair and loose appendages, still light but noticeable.

* Val relaxes back into her seat again, adjusting to the increasing gravity.

* Tina brushes her hair back into some semblance of order in tune with the growing pseudogravity.

* The shuttle slowly slides closer to the station, in alignment with its long axis. Somewhere, "The Blue Danube" is playing. *pause* But not here. Instead, it slides further, lights reflecting off little floating reflecting units to form a psuedo-runway for the ship. The ship pulls in, engulfed by the large metal construct's opening, and nudges its jets towards the 'outside', slowly 'falling' towards the outer rotating edge for an empty berth.

* Val waits and watches silently.

* There's a deep thud and slight shudder through the entire vehicle as it settles into the berth, gravity still light enough that damage is not caused but the sensations are felt, and automated equiment locks down the shuttle securely. A flight attendant announces it will be five more minutes before they can debark.

* Various passengers make sure they've got their own items close at hand while still being buckled.

* Tina waits, humming idly.

* Finally, the flight attendant announces that the passengers may unfasten their seatbelts, that they have touched down successfully, thank you for flying United, and welcome to Bernal Alpha!

* Val nod and unbuckles.

* Various other passengers unbuckle, getting their own carry-on luggage and heading for the exit, their strides slightly bouncy thanks to fractional gravity.

* Val gets her personal effects in order, standing without difficulty, and waits for Tina.

* Tina follows suit, carefully carrying hamster cage, and gets baggage as well.

* This way... to the great Egress....

* Val goes toward the GE.

* Tina does as well, though darned if it don't look like the thing she came in on.

* The boarding/exiting gantry looks much like the one that was down at O'Hare... in fact, the facility that they're entering feels much like any airport they might have gone through... save that most airports show tarmac outside their windows, -not- expansive starscapes encompassing the Earth and other small stations and sattelites that might be realtively close to Bernal Alpha...

* Tina yows a bit and looks.

{Val} *q* Magnificent.

* Tina nods. {q} "Puts it all into perspective, doesn't it?"

{Val} *q* Very much so.

* At least several passengers do the 'get really close to the window and stare' thing, before they're dragged off by their spouses or parents.

{Muon} {vq, not his usual perky self} This is what we're fighting for. All of it.

* Val nods silently.

{Muon} {vq} Not the stuff, but the people. It' big.

{Val} *vq* Never lose sight of that.

{Muon} {vq} Won't. Didn't completely realize until now.

* The world turns slowly below, as it has ever since the Almighty and the Archangels started the whole process...

* By now, most of the passengers from the flight have made their way to security and checkout....

* Tina takes one last look at the view, then heads with them.

* Val gets in a last look as well before going with.

* And as the two-four-some head onward to reclaim their luggage... we Fade.

In Nomine 2070