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LEGION in SPAAAAAAaaaaace (Part 1 of X)

“Gentleman. We have a unique opportunity today, we have been approached by the Russians in the matter of a sensitive issue regarding their Phobos-Grunt mission.” Martin, the head of international relations asked, addressing those seated around the conference room.
A low murmur spread across those gathered. Martin held up his hand. “A moment please. Allow me to elaborate, for those who might not be keeping up to date in these affairs. The Phobos Grunt was… IS to be the first Russian led interplanetary mission since the failed Mars 96, and hopefully the first successful mission since Vega 2 in 1986.”
The room settled down to hear the briefing as Martin continued. “Ships destination is Mars, its supposed to land on Phobos, pick up some core samples, and return them to earth. Quite groundbreaking research possibilities, blah blah blah.”
A voice spoke up from those seated in the room “Whoa that’s completely groundbreaking, if they want us involved give us the full details!”
Martin frowned and scanned the seated scientists, engineers, and administrators. “If you would not interrupt me… Ahem. The following information is top secret, national and international security, need to know only. Fortunately we are all considered need to know, because they need our help. More on that later. The truth is, the Russians still haven’t forgotten their defeat in the space race. They where first in space, but lost the final event with the the Americans moon landing. The world is content to leave that era in the history books, and leave America as the victor. Russia is not so willing to let things be.” He swipes at his tablet, looks down for a second and continues speaking. “So, the official story is what I have already skipped, you can look it up online later. In reality, the Russians have decided they are going to overtake the Americans in one huge leap. The Phobos-Grunt mission is not a mere probe, it is a full scale manned mars landing mission….” His voice was drowned out by the explosion of sound as gasps and exclamations made their rounds at this news. After the hubbub quieted down, someone shouted out “Well get on with it man, so whats the problem? They lose their cosmonauts?”
Martin twitched glaring at the location where the shout had come from. “If you would stop interrupting me…” He glares in the direction the voice came from. Of course, Ondrej from materials research. He glances at his tablet again. “Aside from out over-anxious colleagues jokes… the Russians managed to lose not only their Cosmonauts, but in fact the entire ship. Rather embarrassing for ROSCOSMOS, to say the least.” There where a few murmurs, but for the most part everyone had decided to be serious. Martin continued. “As of two weeks ago, the Russians have lost contact with the ship. Yesterday, a facility in Australia managed to open contact with the ships computer, but only a short burst of mostly garbage was received. Crews either dead or maintaining radio silence as they where ordered to. The only thing we know is that its in near earth orbit. Fortunately the computer seems functional enough to automatically maintain its orbit for a while, or the cosmonauts are controlling it manually. The system wasn’t designed for that though even if it is the case, so its only a matter of time till something goes wrong and… So the Russians are completely blind, and no doubt someones neck is on the line if this is another failure, not to mention the cosmonauts. They want our help. More exactly, they want to know if Legion can help.”
The conference room exploded in a hubbub of noise as everyone broke into discussion at once. “How would he get up there?”
“Does the MageDrive have the range for orbit?”
“How about re-entry?”
“Is Legion even space worthy?”
“How long do we have?”



Once the conference room had calmed down, director Karel Sarka spoke up. “There is definitely good use for such a mission, Legion has undergone a barrage of tests, many of which touch on an extra-planetary environment. The Russians have agreed to cover any expenses, and throw their whole support behind us on this. The opportunity to run full test, and have someone else pay for expenditures will definitely help our budget. Whats more, the Russians are offering us a partnership in their upcoming Orbitalnyj Pilotiruiemyj Sboro─Źno-Ekspierimientalnyj Komplieks, the Orbital Piloted Assembly and Experiment Complex. If you haven’t heard of it yet look it up on Wikipedia.”

Martin fingered his screen again. “If I may answer the prominent question of time, its not much. A little unsure, since communications with Phobos-Grunt have been difficult, but the current estimate is a a week or two to salvage the mission, any more then that and the human crew will not have the resources for the trip while still maintaining a healthy reserve. If it takes longer then that to prepare, it becomes a rescue mission, to offload the cosmonauts and de-orbit the ship safely. Assuming everyone’s still alive.” He runs his finger across the screen, and nods towards Karel. “The director and LEGION have already been briefed, and both want to do this, so lets make it happen.”

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