The Arcturus Mission: The Photographic Companion

by Heater Case

I was allowed to take photos but, for security reasons, I could only partially photograph my fellow crew members and not divulge any technology. I was the worst photographer in the world, armed with the cheapest camera in the world. I think they knew they were safe.

This was taken just before getting on the helicopter to start the trip to UDL (Undisclosed Location) Percival. As much as I've been trained not to wear sunglasses on camera, there's an aspect of mirrored sunglasses that I think adds to the thousand words of every picture. In this case, you can see my fellow Xenopsychologist recruit, Joyce, taking the picture. 

Halfway on route to UDL Percival, we landed and transferred to an EVA/CRAB. CRABS are the equivalent of Jeeps in the Arcturus motor pool and the epitome of stealth technology. We made the second half of the trip undetected, to ensure the 'undisclosed' nature of the base. I was a bit too astonished to take a photo until we landed at Percival. You can see part of the just landed CRAB behind me. Again, through the magic of sunglasses, you can see the entrance to the hangar deck, another hangar across the tarmac and the sky. 

My first driving lesson with XP Supervisor/Pilot Cassie and Cook/Gym Instructor/Pilot Larry. One of the rules in these reports was to refer to other crew members by first name only and I could only partially photograph them. Here I am sitting in the back seat of the CRAB cockpit while Cassie and Larry are purposely pulling a couple of G's just to show me what this baby could do. I also think they were testing the cut of my jib. I guess my jib was just fine. In my glasses, you can see Larry and Cassie up in the pilot seats and a little bit of the view out the windshield.

This isn't even a screen capture. This is a pic I took of my monitor during an XP training exercise. A lot of XP training involved 'deprogramming' your brain and breaking old (not necessarily bad, but old) habits 

These aren't the actual artifacts, but I wanted to illustrate the two examples that were covered when I pissed off that obnoxious physicist in the Mess Hall. Exhibit A  was his tired cliche about folding space. Exhibit B was what I rubbed his nose in. 

This is as much of the Hydraulic Cocoon as I was allowed to reveal. It's basically a spacesuit that acts in reverse. I tried to coin the phrase 'HyCoo' for the Hydraulic Cocoon but nobody bought my idea.

We ate very well during our physical conditioning. Then we were changed over to this lovely three-course meal every day. Every (insert expletive) day. Here we see what I called the Rice Krispie Treat, the Blue Scrubby Sponge and the Motor Oil From Hell. Where's all that freeze-dried ice cream you always bought at the Science Museum? Answer: it's at the Science Museum.

This is the only yellow CRAB in the fleet. All other vehicles* are brownish. Most of the Arcturus Milieus are a soothing brown, orange and green combination. Of course, we called this one the TAXI CRAB. The yellow skin was actually several extra layers of a thick rubbery coating. This is the CRAB we all used to learn how to fly. It got banged around a lot.
*I used the term 'vehicle' for your benefit. Whenever we brought up the term, we were told that there was only one craft that was designated 'vehicle'. That, of course, turned out to be the Arcturus. 

This was the last glimpse of the mysterious (at the time) fourth CRAB that dropped the huge freight container full of junk out in the desert. To quote sir paul's dancing partner in 'Help', I can say no more.
Somebody had a nicer camera than me. This is an infrared photo of our busted up cargo container with Kathryn's first campfire blazing right through the bulkhead.

Here's a closer look at Kathryn's fire-making skills at work.

Who says it's hot in the desert? Several of us had high desert experience before. What we didn't have was sufficient clothing. Not until our 'Robinson Crusoe' wardrobe experience.

A Centaur hovers overhead in the dark before coming in for a landing. As big as city blocks, these things are totally silent and half the time you wouldn't know they're up there unless they suddenly cast a shadow. The only sounds they make are the 'splashing water' sound when they are landing (which I guess can be turned off during stealth mode) and, of course, the orbital engines.

 Some call them nanites. Some call them nanorobots. This is me getting loaded up. 

Weightlessness! I wanted to take a photo of a water globule floating in midair but I guess they frown upon that big time.

This is an 'aerial' shot of the large hangar entrance (just before it opened) at Daedalus Base. Can you say 'aerial' in a vacuum? 

The 'Elephant Graveyard'  

Over the course of forty years, this was the equivalent of a 'secret handshake' while the massive preparations were underway.

At times, the overscoring of the characters 'x', 'o' and '+' on an old school typewriter served the same purpose. Considering what this symbol stood for, it was a pretty good simulacrum. 

Strap yourself into a machine that spins you around 360 degrees by 360 degrees. Now have the floor underneath start spinning in several different directions. Strap on some solid black goggles so that you can't see a thing, but the medical people can watch your eyeballs on tiny night vision cameras. Now try to 'straighten out' everything with a joystick, using just the seat of your pants for orientation. Don't try this at home. 

The approach onscreen.

The approach out the window. 

I couldn't resist making a little diagram of the Arcturus for you. Feel free to hang this on your refrigerator.

A glimpse upwards inside the E3 habitat cylinder. This isn't 'straight-up'. Clouds get in the way along the central axis. This isn't far from where I pitched a tent after we first boarded the Arcturus.