(OOC: This summary is posted due to the inability to schedule Round 3 of the Launchie RP. Logs of Rounds 1 and 2 may be acquired from Mathea's player. Players who may presume they participated are: Surge, Alek, Loni, Jake, Derek, Jay, Mathea. Everybody else...No participation *and* reqs not complete, no bonus.)

10 hours later, the kids are awoken, at precisely 07:00:00. Not by bugles, but still by music over the PA system. Fittingly, the wakeup music is the theme to the movie "The Right Stuff". For those not woken by the music, they're likely awoken by the sound of Lieutenant Marshall pounding on their door. "Time to get up! It is launch day, and you've got a busy day ahead! We are at L minus eight hours, and there's work to be done!" For those who don't get up within 2 minutes, an enlisted soldier comes in and shakes them gently. If that doesn't work, they break out the spritz bottles filled with water.

Once everybody's up, you're marched to the showers, and after drying off, you're issued IF-issue underwear (for the right gender), and jumpsuit uniforms. They don't even ask your size or your measurements - they just seem to know. Exactly.

After that, you're brought to the gym, with the test equipment from yesterday no longer present. Some IF soldiers are there in PT uniforms, and the senior one steps forward. "Good morning, children! I am First Sergeant Einhorn, and I will lead you on a little run today! Line up behind me, two by two!" Once they're lined up, he leads the way on an eighth of a mile formation run around the gym. It's at a jog, fortunately.

After the run, small water bottles are handed out, and Lieutenant Marshall and a Sergeant named Parker (according to his uniform) watch closely to make sure the kids don't drink the contents too quickly, and that they drink it all.

Finally, you're brought back to the lounge from last night, and informed you have 30 minutes of time for yourselves, quietly, before they have to do some mandatory briefings. The lounge looks cleaned up from last night, although Sergeant Kildare, a tall Irish woman with blond hair, is watching you all carefully, not seemingly-barely like Lieutenant Marshall. There's a clock on the wall, next to a countdown clock.

As promised, when the clock strikes 0830 (and the countdown clock is at L - 06:30:00), you're all roused from whatever you were doing by Sergeant Kildare, who leads all 20 launchies into a classroom, where a Lt. Colonel in IF service khakis awaits. "Good morning, children," she begins. "I am Lt. Colonel Perez, Staff Judge Advocate for the base. Essentially, I'm the base's top lawyer for the IF. Today, I'm going to give you a briefing on the International Fleet Code of Military Justice, in more detail than Admiral Tanner did in the vid you saw yesterday. This is all information you're going to need to know to function in the IF, so I would recommend paying careful attention."

Despite that, it's not easy. Of course, 15 minutes later, a Major in IF service khakis enters, saluting Lt. Colonel Perez. She nods, then. "And now, children, I'd like you to meet Major Petrovski. He is commander of the Military Police force here at Cape Canaveral, and he'll be speaking to you about how to deal with bad things happening on Battle School." It's another briefing, sadly, but it too lasts only 15 minutes. However, after that, some Corporals come in, and begin handing out desks. "These are," Captain Estevan notes, "for you to write your letters home, and only for that. You may write to whomever you like, but your letters will go out only after you launch. You will have 30 minutes." The kids are then left alone, under the watchful eye of Sergeant Kildare. The desks, as promised, only allow for writing letters.

After that, at 0930, it's back to the lounge. You're all handed desks, and informed that while you wait for your official photos (to be followed by the group photo), you have some readings which have been assigned. It turns out the readings are pretty heavy stuff, all related to spaceflight and the IF, and even worse...They come with tests. Mandatory tests of your reading comprehension and analytical skills. Every so often, someone is tapped on the shoulder and led away for their photo, which, after checking your uniform is presentable and your hair is neat and within regulations, and things like that, is taken standing in front of an IF flag.

Finally, the time then arrives for the group photo, at 1130. It takes 10 minutes of the photographer posing everybody just right - twice - but it gets done, a photo of just the launchies, again in front of the IF flag.

After that, it's back to the lounge for a final briefing on what happens next. At noon, a mandatory potty break, basically - as the Lieutenant giving the briefing puts it, you pee or you don't fly. At 1215, you'll be issued fresh uniforms. At 1230, you head out to the Astrovan, where the officer who'll escort you to Battle School will be waiting. A 20 minute ride to the launch site later, and you'll then proceed to the elevator to the shuttle airlock. After boarding the shuttle at 1300, you'll be strapped in. There'll be movies to keep you occupied while the shuttle finishes preparations for launch, she notes, but no windows. She actually apologizes for that. At 1500, she finishes, you'll launch to Battle School. "Do you understand?" She asks then, and it doesn't appear to be a rhetorical question.

Once all the kids have answered in the affirmative, she then asks, "Are there any questions?" Again, there are none.

At that point, it's 12 noon, and yup. Just as promised, mandatory potty break. After that, you're issued fresh uniforms, and once again made to look neat and presentable. Finally, you're lined up in front of doors leading outside. An IF Captain awaits. He's a tall, stocky man with fair skin and blond hair in a classic "high and tight" haircut. "Good afternoon, kids," he greets. "I am Captain Joseph Sartain, one of the tactics teachers at Battle School. I'll be escorting you up there, but before we go outside, there are some things I need to cover.

"First off, understand that from the moment these doors open to the moment the Astrovan pulls away, you are going to be on camera. You are going to be on camera as you proceed from the Astrovan to the elevator at the launch site, too. Keep in mind that you represent not only yourselves and your families, but everyone you know, as well as the International Fleet of which you are now members. Those cameras will be on a delay. If you do anything but display the most maturity and best military bearing you can possibly muster, you may expect that not only will your attempt at performing for the cameras not go out, but that you will be in more trouble than you can possibly imagine. If you try anything, we will know, and consequences will be severe.

"Second, launch is going to be noisy. It is going to be stressful. It is going to feel weird. These are all normal and okay. Your ears will pop at least once. If they do not pop at all once we're out of the atmosphere, and you'll know when that happens, tell me or another adult immediately - that isn't always a sign of bad things happening, but it is something we need to keep watch for. Similarly, if you hear ringing in your ears or anything similar, if your hearing is lessened at all, let us know.

"Third, just so you all know. These vehicles, contrary to popular belief, are actually really, really safe. We've been using the current model for 20 years, and we have not had a problem with the vehicle on launch in those 20 years, in well over one million flight hours for the model and well over two thousand launches. On that score, you can breathe easy. If problems do happen, here's a bonus: The crew compartment is designed to separate from the rest of the vehicle in the event of problems, and we either make re-entry to Earth, or if we're already in orbit, we just detach and wait for a pickup by rescue craft in a few hours. With all that said, just in case, there'll be safety briefings once we've boarded and are strapped in. I expect you to listen carefully, and be able to repeat procedures mentioned exactly and in detail if questioned. Are we clear?

"Finally. The next period of your lives, while you're in launch, will be probably the hardest of your lives - before or after. Not all of you will make it through, but while it is hard, know that it is *not* impossible. Welcome to the International Fleet, and I hope you enjoy the ride up to Battle School."

With that, Sartain turns and pushes a series of buttons. The doors behind him open, and as flashbulbs go off from still holo-cameras, he leads the launch group past the press cameras to the silver-colored vehicle nicknamed the Astrovan. Already present in the vehicle is the driver, an IF Sergeant.

With that, they're in the Astrovan, where Sartain moves between the seats (it's set up roughly like a bus) and makes sure the launchies' seatbelts are buckled tight. Then, they're off. Sadly, the vehicle has no windows, except for the windshield. As promised, the ride takes 20 minutes. About a minute out, though, one can hear the sounds of a band practicing. And then they've arrived. The doors swing open, and Sartain looks to the launchies. "It's showtime. Exit the vehicle behind me in height order, tallest to shortest. Remember what we talked about." The adults exit the vehicle first, with Sartain the last among them, followed by the launchies, as the band, still unable to be seen, plays a rather recognizable tune in its instrumental form, one that sounds like this:

"Up into the air, into the wild blue yonder
Climbing high, into the sun;
Here they come zooming to meet our thunder
At 'em boys, give 'er the gun!
Down we dive, spouting our flame from under,
Off with one helluva roar!"

The group then proceeds to a white blast door as the music plays, where they're met by two personnel in white protective suits. After the doors close, Sartain smiles at the kids. "Good going, kids. Now, if you will proceed with me to the crew elevator, we'll proceed to the shuttle itself."

With that, Sartain leads the way into the elevator, a very large elevator that looks like it could hold, at most, 30 people, adults and kids alike. It moves swiftly the few hundred feet along its course, before coming to a gentle stop, where the doors open, revealing a short hallway leading to a boxy white compartment. The folks in white exit first, leading the way and opening the doors to the compartment.

The closeout room is a large white-walled compartment which connects the shuttle to the mobile service structure. Inside are benches along the walls, where various pieces of equipment sit below tags showing the last name of a person. "Sit at your name, please," Sartain instructs, "And respond with "Present" when your name is called." And then the roster.

"Stand up and line up at the airlock. Sergeant Erdos and Corporal Lawton will make sure you're secured in your restraints once you've sat down. Pick whatever seats you like, there are no windows." Sartain instructs then. Boarding goes quickly, so that everybody is strapped into their acceleration couch within 5 minutes. Of course, the fact the shuttle is pointing upwards means you lay back in your seat, sitting upright while actually being parallel to the ground. Captain Sartain, for the record, climbs up into the cockpit.

And then, 2 hours of movies. One an hour-long movie on the history of flight, the next a movie on the history of spaceflight, from Sputnik to the present day. They wouldn't be that bad, except for the fact that a countdown clock is positioned below each screen, slowly ticking off the time to launch. Who knew it took 2 hours from crew boarding to liftoff? (Of course, it was worse in the old days, the movie on spaceflight history helpfully informs.)

And then the moments arrive, as the movies finish. At L - 7 minutes, the access arm to the shuttle retracts, and then things move very fast indeed. At L - 2 minutes, the call "Flight crew, close visors and prepare for liftoff" can be heard over the comms link into the cabin.

Finally, the voice of the commentator for the launch broadcast comes over the comms link "T minus 10, 9, 8..."

"7...6...5..." The shuttle begins to shake and rumble at the count of 6 as things get very, though not unbearably, loud.

"4...3...2..." The rumbling is increasing...

"1...SRB start and LIFTOFF of the Shuttle Shkol'nyi Avtobus, taking our youngest defenders to train at the Battle School!"

The voice of the commentator is drowned out at the end by the loud noises, shaking, and general violence of the liftoff as experienced from within the shuttle. This continues throughout the launch process as you go through 3 times the force of gravity for ten minutes, before finally everything goes silent...And things start to feel funny. And then it hits you: Zero-gravity! You're IN SPACE! Finally, after a few seconds, kids start unbuckling their restraints and floating about the cabin. Some, unfortunately, are retching...even though there isn't anything to vomit, proving why the 20 hour wait between eating and launch was a good idea.

After 5 minutes would be about when Captain Sartain appears, feet hooked to a handhold at what would be the front of the shuttle for those in their seats. He says nothing for about a minute. He just floats there. Then he clears his throat. It sounds very loud. He turns, then, and flips off the "floor" of the shuttle to stand...On the ceiling. His boots hit with a loud THUMP, as the cabin goes very silent as the launchies realize who has entered.

"Ladies and gentlemen, did anyone say you could undo your restraints in even the smallest fraction, or leave your seats?" Sartain asks. He does not raise his voice, but instead booms it outward - the perfect command voice of the United States Marine Corps officer.

A boy raises his hand and speaks, hesitantly. "Uhm, no."

"Then why are any of you doing any of that? Get back in your seats and fasten your restraints, NOW!" Sartain orders. "A little hint, everybody: You are not in your school at home anymore. In space, listening to orders and executing them promptly and as ordered can be the difference between life and death, for you and for everyone around you. Even for kids like you. So do that."

That seems to get a response, as everybody returns to their seats and buckles in, somewhat meekly.

"Better." With that said, after he's certain everybody's back in their seats and buckled in securely, Sartain flips back to the floor, then bounces back to the cockpit, where the door closes firmly - and loudly. The rest of the flight is long. And boring. At L + 2 hours, then, the vid screen comes back on, displaying a vid about safety procedures at Battle School and what to expect during the first two weeks of launch.

Finally, after four hours since liftoff, the call comes over the speakers from the cockpit. "All personnel, we are now one minute from docking. Flight crew to stations."

The shuttle docks to the Battle School with a soft CLUNK before Captain Sartain appears out of the cockpit door. He presses a button to raise the handholds from the floor, and another button to release the restraints. "Welcome to Battle School. We have now arrived and safely docked, and you may now exit your seats and climb, single-file, out of the shuttle after me." He leads the way, then, climbing out of the shuttle steadily, up the ladder to the docking passage.

As the launchies enter the docking passage, then, Sartain looks back, as he easily bounces along. "Follow me, kids. Handhold to handhold."

Waiting there is a 6'1" tall man in his 30s, with fair skin and close-cropped brown hair. From this distance, you can't tell his eye color; he's very physically fit, though, and his movements look as though they would be quick and graceful, were he not rigidly still. His uniform is a sleek black uniform, complete with all sorts of ribbons and badges on his left chest, including the wings of a combat-rated IF pilot - the famous "Wings of Gold". On his shoulders sit the rank insignia which indicate an IF officer of the rank of Major, the more knowledgable launchies can recognize.

He's flanked by other personnel, but he's obviously the senior member of the group, and the one whom Captain Sartain salutes upon arrival. "Major, reporting for duty after leave, and presenting the newest launch!" Sartain booms out as he salutes.

Williams returns the salute, then, before dropping it and speaking to Sartain. "Welcome back, Captain. I trust our newest launch was well-behaved during their trip up?" He asks, conversationally.

"There were minor difficulties, sir, but nothing unusual," Sartain replies.

"Very well, then. Carry on, then, while I take custody of the newest launch," Williams replies. Sartain and him exchange salutes, then, before Sartain turns and exits through a door locked by a palmpad to the left.

That's when Williams turns on the charm. His voice is cheerful, but firm - his accent, Americans can identify, definitely comes from New Jersey, but not stereotypically so. Those *from* New Jersey, New York City, or similarly close-by regions can identify it as the accent of someone from Monmouth County - the Northern part of the Jersey Shore.

"Good evening, children! It is now 1900 hours Florida time, which helpfully for you is also the time zone used here on Battle School. Welcome to Battle School, and welcome to space!" He gives them a bit for that to sink in, then continues.

"Look at the person to your left. Look at the person to your right. Of the twenty of you that launched today, history tells us that seven to twelve of you will fail to make it out of the initial entry training we call launch into the next stage. Seven to twelve of you, in other words, will most likely be going home before your time is up. Again, look to your left, look to your right. On this day, however, you are the twenty who are humanity's best six year olds, best suited for the rigors of what is to come. You feel proud? You have every right to. Savor it, kids, because to the soldiers, the bigger kids, on this station, you are as of yet nothing more than the lowest rung on the totem pole," he continues, walking along the long single-file line of kids. "I am Major John Williams, officer in charge of the Tactics Department up here. To you, I will be Major Williams or sir. More specifically, however, I, or someone I designate, will be with you constantly for the next two weeks as you learn to adjust to the rhythms and routines of life in space and aboard the Battle School. After that, things will change, as I loosen up the reins and let you have more freedom in your day to day activities. But in all cases, I will have primary responsibility for your health, safety, and general welfare. I am your launch officer, or as they call it around here colloquially, your launch mom."

There's a few snickers, some laughter, and Williams seems to let it happen. "Yeah, yeah, laugh. But keep in mind, just like your mom back home, I'm the only one paid to care about you specifically. Some of the other teachers might not, let's say that," he notes, then. That ends the smiles. "On my command, you will turn to the left." Pause, before his voice takes on the same booming qualities Captain Sartain's voice took on: "LEFT....FACE!" Surprisingly, the group seems to get the idea very quickly, and, albeit sloppily, everybody turns to the left. "Not exactly proper facing movements, but Lieutenant Buchner will work with you on drill soon enough," Williams comments, then. "Now, on my command, you will walk forward and take the poles down, floor by floor, until you reach deck A, that is A as in Alpha. You will know when you've reached it because on that deck will be a sign pointing downward to the gym. Should you miss the sign, an officer will be there to stop you. You are not, I repeat *not*, to go down beyond deck A at this time."

The group reaches Deck A in a straggly sort of order, but 20 kids do leave the deck where they began, and the same 20 kids do reach deck A. Waiting there is Major Williams, joined by another officer, this one actually female. "Beside me is Lieutenant Turosi, one of the other launch moms. She will teach you the basics of military customs and protocol. Your first class with her is first thing tomorrow morning," Williams says. "Now, LEFT....FACE!" Again, the group turns left, and is marched port to their barracks. "This is your barracks. You will be living here for the entirety of your time in launch. If ever you get lost, you can find your way back to your barracks by pressing your palm against one of the wall panels, and following the color code for your launch in the light strips on the wall. The color code for your launch is Blue, Cyan, Cyan. Repeat it, please."

After a chorus of "Blue, Cyan, Cyan," from the children, Williams nods, before pressing his hand against the palmpad. "Step inside, if you please, and choose your bunk - you may choose any bunk *except* the lowest bunk on the right hand side as you enter the barracks."

What follows is pretty standard launchie stuff, except for one thing. As the kids enter, they find blue footprints on the deck, painted to place the kids standing on them at the position of attention next to their bunk. "Now that you've all chosen your bunks and palmed in to your locker, stand on the blue footsteps nearest your bunk." Once that is done, Williams speaks again. "You are now at the position of attention. Whenever you hear an officer or enlisted member of the IF call a room to attention or command you to fall in, you are to assume this position. Your feet are to be as if standing on these footprints, left heel against the right. Turn your feet out to form an angle of 45 degrees, keeping your heels touching. You will keep your legs straight, but *do not* lock your knees. Keep your hips and shoulders level, and your chest lifted. Your arms should hang naturally, thumbs along the seams of your jumpsuit, palms facing inward toward your legs, fingers joined in their natural curl and elbows in. You will keep your head and body erect. You will look straight ahead. You will keep your mouth closed and your chin pulled in slightly. You will stand still and not talk except as ordered." Pause. "Now relax, and we'll practice."

What follows is 10 minutes of practice assuming the position of attention. Then, practice saluting. Williams is joined by Turosi, and both make drill instructors you might see on the vids look easy. Nothing, absolutely nothing, seems to miss their eyes and swift yet gentle correction.

"Thus ends the lesson, children. You will now go to take showers. You will have no more than 20 minutes for this, so move quickly. After everybody is done and back, dressed, in these barracks, you will head to the mess hall for a quick meal before you return here to relax before bed. Understood?"

The response is immediate. "YES SIR!" Even the slow ones have figured out, by now, the value of quick execution of orders.

"Good, you learn quick. Dis-MISSED!" Williams responds.

With that, Williams and Turosi make their exit. Dinner that night, a special meal for the launch just arrived, is a beef-substitute burger, an orange, a chocolate-chip cookie, and milk. Once that's done, the launch is given the rest of the night to relax in their barracks.

(OOC: Thus endeth the scenes-that-were-supposed-to-be. Thank you for flying Ansible Air. The above-named players (Surge, Alek, Loni, Jake, Derek, Jay, Mathea) may now RP in time-definite scenes - for convenience, I suggest that you're allowed to move about the station independently (however, independently still means always with a "battle buddy") from the third week of launch onward. Full independent movement (no battle buddy needed) is allowed after six months on-station. Other players will ICly come up with the launch noted on @launches during the week they finish with their @reqs. - Penta)



October 2016

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