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Antargic Adventures at Simon Station


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Simon Station, King Tomasso Land, Antargis, January 14th, 2018, 09:30 Andallan Standard Time, -4.7°C

Summer has started in Antargis. The land of the eternal ice is being flooded with diffuse light, the ice slowly retreats, penguin chicks hatch and cute little seal pups open their round eyes for the first time. Whales graze on the abundant masses of plankton and krill cumulating in the frigid waters. But this year, something is different about the southernmost continent. There is a building standing between dunes of snow amidst the freezing haze. It is the Simon Station, the ISTC's foothold on the frozen continent. The building looks almost like it's levitating as the stilts it is built upon are evanescently thin in comparison with the whole structure. The first inhabitants of the continent of Antargis have arrived; 45 scientists, doctors, technicians, engineers, programmers and cooks from the ISTC member states, @Prymont, @Fleur de Lys, @Magnaeus and the @Sunset Sea Islands .

This is the story of those brave souls who defy the harsh elements of the frozen south in the furthest reaches of our world. What will they find, learn, what memories will they make, on which adventures will they go and what kind of friendships or even relationships will develop in and around Simon Station? What tasty treats will the Lysian cooks create for the crew? Will the mountaineering experience of the Prymontian and Magnaean members aid the pioneers in times of need? How the hell will the Sunset Sea Islandians live out their nudism way below the freezing point of water? This and more in...

ANTARGIC ADVENTURES at SIMON STATION


Initiative Scientifique Trans-Continentale: Simon Station
Personnel Information

Name: Dr. rea. nat. dipl. phys. Bernhard Hopeman
Age: 49
Nationality: Sunset Sea Islandian
Proffession: Physician
Speciality: Radiation
Personnel category: Scientist

Bernard Hopeman opened his eyes. His phone woke him up with a song which used to be his favourite, but now, that he was waked by it for the millionth time, he began to like the song less and less. The unnatural light in his room was nothing new for him, he was used to it from his apartment and his lab. What he wasn't used to was the absence of Synapse-controlled surveillance infrastructure. It wasn't that he was happy to escape its all-seeing eyes for a while, he wasn't one of the few who actually felt oppressed. On the daily day-to-day basis, the benefits the citizens of the Sunset Sea Islands experienced from the Synapse System negated the disadvantages it created.

Tomorrow would be his first real day of work on the Simon Sation, the first foothold of the ISTC on the continent of Antargis. He was mildly excited about this new adventure and was filled with anticipation to start working together with his colleagues. Bernards speciality were rays of all kinds, especially ionizing ones. He came to Antargis to study the isotopes contained in the rocks buried by kilometres of snow and ice. Within his plans was also the study of the Earth's magnetic field and the kinds and amounts of cosmic radiation Antargis received. Even though Bernard was happy to start working on his projects, it was a part of his life philosophy to leave tomorrow's work for tomorrow. In this spirit, Bernard took a shower, brushed his teeth, got dressed and left his flat to head for the community room to have breakfast with the other members of the expedition. Bernard always enjoyed working together with international partners, one more reason why he was glad to be a part of the first quadrilateral mission of the ISTC on the Antargic continent.

 
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  • 2 weeks later...

14:30 Uhr, Simon Station, Antargis, -4.1°C

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What other would call "summer" had little to no meaning when you're down in the Antargic. "Come on now, this is not the time to doubt your decisions," Brüno quietly said to himself, while closing the outside door behind him. He started shaking the snow off his outer jacket. The coat rack was already quite full with other colorful outfits, in bright orange or red, dripping on the floor. Brüno reached over and added his Magnean-red overcoat to the mix. "Now if I can get these boots to come off, " he grunted, taking a seat on a sturdy plastic bench.

Ten minutes later and he was relieved from his outside survival gear. The inside temperature of this conditioned shell in Simon Station was much nicer. Still no summer, but quite pleasant. Like a cosy blockhause in the mountains back home. From his briefing at Venège Uni and the earlier call they had, he already knew Dr. Hopeman from the @Sunset Sea Islands. The friendly old man, a radiation specialist actually, had offered to show Brüno around during his first week at the station. Everyone had shared their personal information, so they knew what to expect. In this small island of civilisation, surrounded by unforgiving nature, they all depended on each other.

Transkontinentale Wissenschaftliche Initiative: Station SIMON
Personal Information

Name: Dr. Brüno Neumayer
Gender: Male
Age: 27
Nationality: Magnean
Profession: Ingenieur
Speciality: Renewable Energy
Personnel category: Scientist

But first, Brüno had an 15:00 appointment with his engineering supervisor. He hoped it would be a nice group. The team from @Prymont he met on the boat was rather nice. Surely the others would be like this as well. Before leaving Magnaeus, plenty of people had warned him about the Lysian superiority complex. But that didn't particularly phase him. At Uni he had dated plenty of Lysian ladies: those girls from @Fleur de Lys can appear quite hard on the outside, but are really very soft on the inside.

Edited by Magnaeus (see edit history)
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Observation Room | 1040hrs AST
15th January 2018
Simon Station, King Tomasso Land
Antargis
-4.8°C

 

Trans-Continental Science Initiative: Simon Station
Personnel Information

Name: Emily Kolle
Gender: Female
Age: 21
Nationality: Prymontian
Profession: Biology
Speciality: Zoology
Personnel category: Scientist

 

Emily gently closed the front page of her sketchbook and set it aside, slotting the pencil into the ring spine. She'd perched herself on the window ledge of the observation room to enjoy the views, and had caught sight of a few lost penguins. The past two hours had been spent sketching them in various poses, with her sub-conscience observing their behaviour. Once they'd waddled out of view, far beyond the horizon, she could sketch no more.

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The young student from the University of Canastota had been selected to accompany her professor in a trip to the ISTC's Simon Station in Antargis. They were part of the group's university research department, which consisted of two other members from the Courtmarsh University too. They'd arrived a few days before, and Emily had spent that time briefing with her professor and the rest of the group. Now that the real work had started, she was free to relax and spend her time as she wished. Of course, there were overhead objectives: penguins were strictly a southern hemisphere feature, and were rarely studied by Prymontians. It would be her duty to collect data on them and to select a handful of subjects to track. That would mean leaving the warmth and comfort of the Simon Station to venture into the cold unknown, but being a northern girl herself, Emily was fine with that. 

The current morning had been spent watching a handful of penguins and drawing them, with a few notes here and there. Now that they'd disappeared, she pulled her laptop out and began transferring what she'd stored, both mentally and physically, onto her digital files. She shivered slightly and burrowed further into her thick sweater, reaching for the coffee flask that never left her side. Sitting by the window made it hard to ignore the harsh chill of the outside world, despite the best attempts of the heaters inside. 

As she worked the keyboard, her mind drifted to the variety of characters she'd already met. There were a bunch of charming Magneans who'd offered her very humbling compliments and a selection of chocolates, both of which had made her blush deeply. Then there were the Sunset Sea Islandians, who were also very kind and welcoming. Their warm personalities had helped to keep out the cold, and Emily was able to gain an insight into a life under surveillance. So far, she'd learned that they didn't mind. Finally she'd come across the Lysians, who were equally as charming as their Magnean counterparts but spoke about wine and fine dining, two topics a student on a tight budget didn't understand. All in all, she was happy to be working with different individuals who came from all walks of life, and was keen to join them on expeditions into the wilderness.

Edited by Prymont (see edit history)
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  • 2 weeks later...

Cantina, Simon Station, King Tomasso Land, Antargis, January 21st, 2018, 14:07 Andallan Standard Time, -4.3°C

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Everyone's eyes were pinned on the hole in the wall through which meals were being distributed. Noone spoke, they were all waiting quietly. Then, finally, everyone let out a pleased "Aaaaah" when Marlène, the @Fleur de Lys ian chef appeared in the opening. She carried a steaming metal pot and the smell it emitted filled the whole room and the nostrils of those who were in it. One week had passed since the first mission on Simon Station started and there was a common consensus that this occasion was worth celebrating. Bernhard Hopeman concluded that such social events were a way of keeping the crew in high spirits and of motivating them, as only motivated workers produce worthwhile results. Nevertheless, whether the small celebration was planned with such ideas in mind or not, what was important was the object of everyone's attention: a pot of hot cheese fondue made from cheese produced in the best mountain pastures in @MagnaeusMarlène placed the pot on the counter and then took her cook hat off to leave the kitchen to participate in the celebration. Bernard Hopeman quickly stood up from his chair to pick the pot up and place it in the middle of the table so that Marlène wouldn't have to carry it. The young and beautiful woman certainly charmed Bernhard, however, he knew that it would be inappropriate to try to get to know her in a closer way. Also, he was almost twenty years older than the others in the room as the median age on Simon Station was surprisingly low. He wondered whether the others thought of him as an old man from the previous generation, but he always gave his best to be as modern as possible to get along with as many people as possible, how old or how young they may be. Bernhard decided that it was sufficiently amusing to watch his young friend, Dr. Brüno Neumayer covertly observing each and every move of Marlène. Oh, the young ones!

Bernhard has had a lot of fun during the week, as he did for a job what he loved, science, and as he liked to get to know people from all over the world. So far there had yet to find a thing he disliked. The only thing that made him feel slightly uncomfortable was the way how the Lysians refused to call Simon Station and King Tomasso Land by their real names, as they were set on denying everything that had to do with monarchism. Bernhard thought that such a narrow-minded approach could not be beneficial in the long run, but nevertheless, he tolerated it, since they were not hurting anyone with their behaviour. Bernhard still sighed when he remembered how the whole nation celebrated the birth of Prince Simon and how this station was named after just that prince whose entire lifespan started and ended within Bernard's. If only the Lysians knew how popular the royal family was, maybe they would show them a little bit more respect.

Whilst everyone was digging in the conversation quickly centred around the achievements of the first week of work on Simon Station. Bernhard explained how he ventured into the area around the station with help from Magnean and @Prymont ian crew members to install detectors in the everlasting snow of the Antargic continent. He would have to do a checkup routine in the icy cold outside every day to ensure the functionality of the detector grid, but he was excited even for such a tedious task as this, as he loved to experience the frozen landscape as a contrast to the equatorial climate of his home country.

When he was done telling the others about his week, he asked Emily Kolle, a young zoologist from Prymont, what the folder on her lap contained. One corner of a piece of paper was sticking out of the side of the folder on which Bernhard thought to recognise a pencil drawing of a penguin's foot.

 

Edited by Sunset Sea Islands (see edit history)
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  • 3 months later...

After just over four consecutive, arduous months of extreme winter living, Emily Kolle was returning home to the United States. The past few months had been incredibly insightful for her studies, allowing her to observe animals exclusive to this region in their native habitat while still feeling close to home due to the weather. There had been many days where the young student had travelled outside the warmth and comfort of the Simon Station with her more experienced peers, getting closer to the native penguins and birds of flight that she otherwise couldn't study naturally. For her coursework, this had been greatly helpful, and allowed her to develop a greater understanding of the plights of life in Antargis. 

One of her main aims of the stay was to attach harmless trackers to several animals, in order to learn more about their travelling routes and open paths for conservation efforts. At first, they focused on a small group of penguins, before taking a flight to the ISTC coastal port on an island northeast of the station to locate whales and seals. As an animal lover, Emily had enjoyed every second of it, and was saddened somewhat to have to go home.

Back on the station, she'd made many friends and had formed unforgettable memories that not only furthered her interest in zoology, but in wider aspects of science too. She'd met with researchers from all walks of life and a variety of fields, such as radiation, renewable energies, geography, and meteorology. Acquainting herself with new friends from different countries and cultures had been a great experience too, and she had gathered many friends, young and old, that she'd promised to keep in touch with. The Sunset Sea Islandians brought a tropical way of life, one that Emily was otherwise unfamiliar with. With them, they'd brought their natural warmth and friendliness, which allowed her to settle into the station with ease. The Magneans, charming as ever, had also welcomed her on board and made her feel at home. They told tales of political neutrality, and brought hints of exquisite chocolate and expensive watches. Unfortunately, Emily had grown cold with the Lysians, who were an arrogant bunch that even refused to honour the late Prince Simon by calling the station it's true name. For this, Kolle lost a lot of respect for them, and tended to enjoy the Magnean meals more out of pettiness.

However, it was time to go home, and Emily would certainly miss the quirky ways of the Simon Station. She would miss the regular emergency drills, the friendly, cosy community, the overarching focus on scientific progress and, most importantly, the animals that she was studying. She had grown attached to some and had given them names, making her colleagues promise her that they'd make sure they stayed safe and would send her updates on their well being. A small propeller plane would take her to the ISTC Port, where she'd then board a ship back to the Sunset Sea Islands before catching her Montair flight back to the United States. Her upcoming university years wouldn't typically permit studying abroad more than once, but her professors had grown to love the Simon Station just as she had, and would try to pull a few strings at the university to allow an eventual return.

At the station, scientific life would continue as per usual. The Prymontians would resume their studies in atmospheric and space weather observation, wildlife populations and terrestrial ecology, and would venture to the coast every so often to debate on potential fishing catch limits and areas. They would be tentatively followed by ISTC members, but whether or not they would be followed by the global fishing community was another question completely. Progress was slow but steady, due to the extreme climate and the troubles that came with. Researchers would receive training on Horizon Island in Prymont from the Extreme Climate Division before departing for the Simon Station, to prepare them for dangerous, challenging living conditions. There would also be talk of sharing data with the newly founded Prymontian research stations in the Argic Ocean, on the islands of Stjørdalsstad and Sønderkilde - however, news on that was infrequent and brief at best, and so few steps were made in that direction.

So far, Prymont's time on the ISTC Antargic base had been substantially beneficial, and would only further the organisation's understanding of the area for years to come.

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12:30 Uhr, Simon Station, Antargis, -17.6°C

"Wow. Time really does fly," Bruno thought to himself while at the same time feeling surprised by his own realisation. He was busy finishing the second of his last maintenance checks for the morning. The Magnean ingenieur had arrived in Antargis almost four months ago. Since then he'd grown accustomed to his new Antargic environment of endlessly stretching plains with white powder. "This place really takes your breath away."

Four months since January also meant that the short Antargic summer was long over. Bruno and the other people on his technical crew were busy preparing Simon Station for the long winter. There was a long list of checks to go through. For example: two weeks ago he checked the reinforced stilts for any possible cracks. A small crack right now could turn into a big problem later. And he found a least 10 hairline fractures on the south side of the station. This problem could easily be fixed by applying a special coating of synthetic resin to protect the stilts. The only problem was getting the stuff here. Fortunately, the many geniuses behind the Transkonintale Wissenschaftliche Initiative had already taken care of the necessary supplies.

It was during their regular Sunday morning breakfast that the station commander Yves Trémarec from @Fleur de Lys announced the news: one last supply ship was about to depart from ISTC Port of Süd-Meignitz  and make its way to Antargis. Included in its precious cargo, the icebreaker SS Kronstadt carried two whole barrels of synthetic resin. What is also carried were personal mail packages from home. Home. What a strange place to think about now. Thousands of kilometers away, on the opposite side of the world, his friends were enjoying a pleasure of warm nights and cold drinks.

But he would not trade places. Not even for a million credits. Bruno was very happy to have such good neighbours. The international crew of ISTC turned out to be perfectly compatible. "Hey Walter," he loudly asked his ingenieur colleague from @Prymont, "Do you want to go grab some lunch with me? I hear the chef is making lasagne today. With extra meat!"

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  • 1 month later...

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"05:41 Uhr, Simon Station, Antargis, -37.6°C

A loud clanking noise woke up Bruno from a dreamless sleep. Slowly he rubbed his eyes. "Clang!" There was that noise again. It was coming from outside the station. Turning his head sideways, he looked at the clock. "Uunnggh... it's too early...," he muttered in a drowsy voice, still half asleep. Reluctantly Bruno rubbed his eyes and threw his comfortable blanket to the side. His orange overall was neatly folded on a chair by the door. Boots standing next to it. Some of the habits he acquired during his mandatory 6 months in the Armee never really left his daily routine.

Outside in the hallway, he saw Walter, the other ingenieur from @Prymont. "Good morning Walter," he said, "Did you also hear that noise coming from outside the station?" Walter confirmed his suspicion: "Yeah and I was actually coming to wake you up. The winter months are too dangerous to go outside alone." Both men walked down the empty corridor towards the lockers next to the airlock where their outdoor gear was stored. Bruno and Walter also grabbed the hightech LED flashlights from @Sunset Sea Islands. "Hey Bruno can you also grab one of those reserve battery packs?" asked Walter, "Because I'm not sure how long we will be out there." Before exiting the station, they left an obligatory record in the logbook. "I'm also sending a special alert to commander Trémarec from @Fleur de Lys," added the much more experienced Walter.

The last of the three airlock doors slid shut behind them. The Antargic wind was howling. Icecold wind was doing everything in its power to blow them sideways. But the safety ropes that kept them anchored were also doing what they were made to do. Bruno and Walter turned on their helmet lights to help guide the way. One foot after another and with great effort they started walking towards the noise.

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"I think it's coming from over there," Bruno said over the radio system, pointing to a nearby hill. Both outfits were linked together by a closed communications system. A digital recorder was also saving their conversation in case something went wrong. "Yes I can hear it as well," answered Walter, "Overthere is where we installed the helix wind turbines with..."

"GET DOWN DOWN," shouted Walter suddenly. Bruno reacted instantly and dropped to the ground. Walter who was walking 4 meters in front of him did exactly the same. The flashlights they carried in their hands were both pointing up now. As if in slow motion, Bruno saw how a giant piece of polycarbon material flew straight overhead like a leaf in the wind, right where the men had been walking only one second ago. "F*CK MY LUCKY STARS," exclaimed Walter in a voice that was pitched higher than normal, "That piece of wind turbine would have sliced us in half like a hot knife through butter!"

After the adrenaline subsided, they carefully crawled forward towards the side of the hill. From this better vantage point, the situation immediately became clear. Antargis is a wild continent. No matter how well you prepare, nature is still an order of magnitude stronger. They were looking at the wreckage of what used to be a wind turbine. The extreme antargic winter winds had completely torn it to pieces. Only a small stump was left standing. The resulting wreckage had slammed into two other turbines, stripping off some of their sides. Steel cables dangling in the wind were making a clanking sound against the remaining turbines.

"It looks like the automatic brakes malfunctioned," noticed Bruno in a calm analytical voice, "because these wind speeds are much higher than the turbines are supposed to ensure. It wouldn't surprise me if it turns out those braking fluids are frozen." If that was the case, Walter certainly didn't like it one bit: "Damned. This is bad. The loss of those turbines is going to have a serious impact on our energy production."

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  • 5 months later...

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11:30 Uhr, Simon Station, Antargis, 4°C

The weather had been nice all week on Antargis. Clear skies with the occasional clouds. The long winter on this most southern continent was coming to an end. The days were growing longer. The sea ice was retreating. Soon there would be new shipment coming in from the ISTC Port on Süd-Meignitz. Fuel and storage tanks and new batteries. And those long awaited spare parts to help make reparations.

The arrival of these new materials would also be accompanied by the arrival of fresh faces. Our ingenieur Brüno Neumayer didn't know who exactly would be coming to the base. But there were plenty of rumors floating around that the newest member nations of the ISTC were sending either their best and brightest, or their least tolerable and incompetent scientists that were better off blowing up a laboratory in this far away place. Whatever the case might be it also meant that some people had to leave the confines of Simon Station.

Commandant Yves Trémarec has asked everyone to fill out a 360 evaluation of everyone else on the station. Brüno hated administrative work like this. He loved being an ingenieur. In fact he had been quite busy all winter fixing and repairing the many machines that kept everyone alive. "People better appreciate what we do for them," he said to his now good friend Walter who was also there to fill out his evaluation sheets. Of course they had given each other an above average score.

"Yeah I know," answered Walter with his deep and gravelly voice. "Only four more to go and we're done with this."

Marlène Vongirard / F / 27 / @Fleur de Lys
Chef Pâtissière / Soufflé Grand Marnier

When they first arrived at the station, Brüno had tried getting to know Marlène. Too bad that didn't work out or it could have been an interesting winter. At first their shared background of coming from central Europa had been an interesting way to break the ice. But soon it proved that Marlène was just another one of those typical Lysians. Things reached a boiling point when she had offered to prepare a classical Magnean gebrannte creme without following the proper instructions. When Brüno said it was not what he had expected, Marlène threw her bowl at him and started shouting nonsense before storming out of the mess hall. "I'm going to rate her a 3/10 and hope the replacement is easier on the ears."

Emily Kolle / F / 22 / @Prymont
Scientist / Zoology / Biology

Emily had been much more difficult to figure out. Not that she was an enigma or anything. Far from it. With her 21 years, Emily was the junior crew member and everyone's favourite little sister. She threw a great party for her 22nd birthday at the station. "I think she's come a long way and has learned a lot. It would be a shame for her to already have to go back to New Halsham now that this winter is finally over. If I tally up my grades I get an average of 8/10." Walter nodded in agreement.

Bernhard Hopeman / M / 49 / @Sunset Sea Islands
Scientists / Physician / Radiation

"What do you think about Bernhard?" asked Walter which scratching his stubbled chin. There was a lot of say about Dr. rea. nat. dipl. phys. Bernhard Hopeman. Just his title alone was enough to start a conversation. Bernhard, or Bernie as they had started calling him, had a great sense of humor. Brüno wasn't sure this was just part of his good nature, or if it was caused by his long and frequent experiments with radiation. People joked that the good Dr. Hopeman might be spending too much time playing with glowing substances. "Well I think we both like Bernie, but just for his sanity and our own safety I think it would a good idea if he rejoined humanity." Both of them ended up rating Bernhard with a solid 7,5/10.

Yves Trémarec / M / 51 / @Fleur de Lys
Station Commander

This last evaluation would prove to be the most challenging. "I'm biased on rating the Commander, Walter," sighed Brüno while sounding a little lost. "Me too," agreed Walter. "Either we're honest about his performance and risk being sent home ourselves. Or we save our own ass by kissing his."

Edited by Magnaeus
typo (see edit history)
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  • 1 month later...

10:00 Uhr, Maximilians-Universität Venège, 2°C

A passion for animals is what all three of them shared.  By them we mean Ludwig, Inga and Bernd, the top three students of the antargic zoology department at the Maximilians-Universität in Venège.  The trio really stood out head and shoulders above the other students.  This much was clear from the very start of the school year.

  • Ludwig came from Richüz and enjoyed a privileged upbringing.  His father worked at the Richüz Insurance Group and got his son into all the best schools.  A golden spoon as soon as he joined kindergarten and then onto the Freie Alternativschule.
  • Inga from Hamberg spent most of her childhood playing outside in the mountains.  This is where she discovered her passion for animals great and small.  For her 8th birthday her grandfather Max gifted her a brandnew pair of binoculars.  She used it to observe the forest animals.  Her schoolbooks were always covered with detailed drawings of birds and owls and eagles. She made friends with everyone and was a darling of her teachers and school staff. Even the rector smiled and turned his head when Inga walked past.
  • Bernd grew up right here in Venège.  The third and youngest son in a regular family he was always shorter than the other kids in his class and felt a need to compensate this by studying really hard.  Bernd was gifted with a natural curiosity and talent.

At the start of the new school year their teacher professor Louis Eck announced there was an opportunity for someone in the class to serve his or her internship abroad.  Most of the students didn't pay much attention at first.  Ludwig for example thought it would be just another boring job in Lyrie where he had already been more than enough times.  But everyone looked up in attention and some students gasped in surprise when professor Eck revealed the internship was actually at Simon Station on faraway Antargis!

The selection for this internship depended on two factors.  The first factor was the total number of grades after the important exams in December. Ludwig, Inga and Bernd did very well and scored the top three results with 98%.  So it was only natural that they sent in their application.

The second factor was decided by the existing members of the ISTC mission on Antargis.  This really had nothing to do with academic achievement (sorry Bernd) or network of connections (sorry Inga) or financial capabilities (sorry Ludwig).  No, the final decision of who got to live and work on Antargis was completely up to their future coworkers...

Edited by Magnaeus (see edit history)
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  • 2 months later...

Neue Meignitzer Zeitung

Two technicians die at ISTC research station in Antargis

Two ingenieurs employed at the Simon Station in Antargis died on Wednesday while working on a building that houses a generator for a nearby radio transmitter, an ISTC spokesperson said.

The ingenieurs were found unconscious on the floor of the building after a helicopter pilot flying over the area saw what appeared to be smoke coming from the structure and landed to investigate.

One of the technicians was pronounced dead by medical personnel called to the scene. The other was pronounced dead a short time after being flown to a medical clinic, the ISTC said in a statement.

The two workers were performing preventive maintenance on the building’s fire-suppression system before someone found them, the organisation said.

The ISTC said it was not releasing any personal information about the two workers. No further details were immediately provided, and the incident was under investigation, the organisation said.

The NMZ managed to confirm that one victim was originally from Magnaeus, which is a member nation of the ISTC Antargic Program.

The research station, established by the ISTC in 2017, is situated near Antargis' Simon Sound, named for a former naval officer who was part of the expedition that first charted the area in 1841.

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  • 1 year later...

Staff Dormitories | 2356hrs AST
18th April 2020
Simon Station, King Tomasso Land
Antargis
-26.0°C

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Kristoffer gazed up in awe at the aurora borealis, his face basked in a gentle green hue as the colours danced and swirled above him. Beyond the shades of green was a blanket of stars, millions of pinpricks of lights providing a stunning backdrop to what was already a marvellous phenomenon. A sharp, bitter wind howled against the station, whistling between the seams and sending the temperature plummeting further. The young meteorologist cradled his flask of hot chocolate, taking a sip and savouring the warmth as it flowed down his throat and dissipated through his chest. He'd been in this setting countless times before; the northern lights, as they were known back home, were a common occurrence, especially in his hometown in the northern state of Vannskog. Often did he find himself staring out of the window, watching the vibrant tones ebbing and flowing in the sea of stars. This was different though. There was something endearing, something oddly reassuring, about the incredible isolation of the Simon Station. Beyond the handful of workers that occupied the research facility, there were no humans for hundreds, if not thousands of miles in any given direction. The thought boggled his mind. He tried not to think about it too much.

He'd come to the Simon Station as part of his studies at the University of Canastota. The astronomy department had decided to send another selection of students and a professor to the faraway land after receiving a government grant, and Kristoffer was one of the lucky few to be chosen. It was an unfamiliar feeling to be this far away from home and the creature comforts he'd grown used to, but then, he couldn't enjoy moments like this back in Prymont. He took another sip of his drink and pulled his duvet tighter around his body. He never remembered it being this cold at home.

"You're still awake?" A soft voice asked. Kris turned his attention to the doorway which his professor was suddenly occupying. "It's getting late, Kris. You should sleep." Dr Shei had a gentle approach, his voice barely a whisper. There was no reason to be quiet - the corridor was sparsely populated since the Prymontians had arrived at a time when others were headed home. Enough staff to form a skeleton crew constantly remained in the station, but there were few others to disturb. Some questioned whether the two deaths a year ago had made some funders reconsider their programs, but the University of Canastota remained confident in the experience and opportunities the station offered. Plus it only added to the strong sense of isolation, which Kris didn't mind.

"Yes, sorry," he replied, setting his flask down on his bedside table. "I just..." he gestured towards the window, his eyes returning to the aurora once more. 

"Striking, isn't it?" Dr Shei nodded in agreement, taking a moment to enjoy the view. "But rest is more important. We're launching another balloon tomorrow and I don't want your tiredness getting in the way. You know how the last launch went." A previous weather balloon had fallen back down to Earth just moments after takeoff, after human error resulted in a tether not being released. The balloon had crashed onto the snow, but the damage was irreparable and the weather study mission was delayed. While the equipment was cheap enough to replace, the information gained was not. Dr Shei wanted to prevent another incident from tarnishing not only his reputation, but that of the entire facility.

"I know. I'll see you in the morning." As Kris settled down for bed, his mind drifted to the last balloon launch. It was the latest in a string of recent failures at the TCSI facility, which included several power outages, a heating system failure, and a behind-schedule shipment that risked staff starvation. The program was already in hot water following the deaths of two technicians in March 2019, and it began to dawn on Kris that his role here went far beyond looking good on his study papers. He was part of an international effort to broaden scientific knowledge, and it was his responsibility just as much as anybody else to ensure research went smoothly. While the launch of a weather balloon seemed insignificant in the grand scheme of things, it was important for the station to have some good news for once. Perhaps another balloon failure wouldn't be the straw that breaks the camel's back, but Kris refused to be part of a problem. He'd add to the success of a program that had already achieved so much.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Radio Control Room | 1605hrs
27th April 2020
Simon Station, King Tomasso Land
Antargis
-18.8°C

 

"Hey Max - we can call people from here, right?" Roland Kolsrud knocked on the door of Max Werfel's office, hanging in the doorway with a tray of mugs. He glanced around the room before him, feeling utterly lost in the mess of wires and screens that Max called home. This was the radio control room, and as Max was the station's current sole radio engineer, he was Roland's best and only hope at communicating with the outside world. The Magnaean radio expert leaned back in his chair, pulling his headphones from his ears as he craned his neck towards his visitor. 

"Well, in a sense. You can radio people from here, sure, but really it's only meant to be for getting in touch with the Initiative, you know? Not personal calls."

"That's great," Roland smiled as he stepped into the room, pushing the door closed with his foot before setting the tray down on a desk amongst a spaghetti mess of wires and cables. "I brought you some tea."

"Err, thanks... I don't drink tea."

"Oh you'll like this, it's a nice Fulgistani blend. My mother gave me a packet when I lef -- shit, I'm sorry," Roland cursed as he dropped the mug, its boiling hot contents spilling across the desk. Max jumped out of his seat to lift the wires and joined in at cursing his clumsy colleague. The biologist dabbed at the tea with a tissue, his efforts only helping to spread the liquid nearer to a large stack of... well, he didn't quite know what it was, some sort of nerdy technology probably, but he knew he wasn't helping much.

"Hah, mother always said I had butter fingers. Oh, that makes me miss butter... and fingers..." The Prymontian's eyes drifted as he daydreamed, remembering the times back on terra firma when he could eat whatever he wanted, and didn't have to ration himself according to what the station director declared as a 'luxury' or not. As if that man knew what he was talking about? Fingers were a necessity, and Roland wouldn't stand for the blasphemy of them being anything else for much longer.

"Fingers?" Max queried, quickly eyeing his visitor's hands to count his digits. Had the poor soul suffered from a bad case of frostbite already?

"Chocolate fingers, you know? Surely you have those in Magnaeus, with all the chocolate you have. Perfect with tea!" Roland raised his mug, sipping at the warm, sugary contents and sighing happily as he perched himself atop the desk.

"You wanted to contact someone? From the Initiative? Are you having problems?" Max pressed the matter at hand, shooing Roland from his new seat to recover a laptop that wasn't quite designed to carry the mass of an stocky, clumsy, good-for-nothing biologist.

"No, not from the Initiative. I want to call my mother! I'm bored of writing to her, my hand gets cramp you see? It'd be easier to just talk to her. Oh, and do we have WiFi? I have a picture with some new friends that I want her to see."

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"Sure, I'll set up a line for you," Max grumbled as he began fiddling with some cables. He'd already given up on trying to usher Roland away from his little haven and accepted defeat. The man was irritating, but he also almost felt sad for him. The station had been going through a rough patch lately, what with weather balloon launches failing and a bunch of penguins the team were monitoring getting lost - seriously, how could you lose them when you'd fitted trackers? - and perhaps a call home would lift his spirits.

Max rather enjoyed the isolation, on the other hand. He'd never particularly enjoyed the company of others, and often wondered how he'd ended up working as a telecommunications engineer in a cramped, claustrophobic office in the middle of Venege. When the opportunity arose for him to take a career break and go and work on the loneliest continent on Eurth he was the first to hand in his application, and almost fell down the stairs of his apartment on the way to the airport after his acceptance. Being thousands of kilometres away from civilisation was the dream for Max. His introverted nature betrayed his job, which was to connect people and bring them together through radio, but they weren't talking to him, and that kept him happy. Unfortunately, he also had to share the station with morons like Roland, whose academic prosperity belied his common sense, or lack thereof.

"Working on anything interesting?" The scientist asked, cradling his mug as if to absorb its heat. For a man that was born and bred in Antargis' northern hemisphere counterpart, Roland was bloody awful at dealing with the cold. He'd rather spend his days on a warm Variotan beach, enjoying the rays and observing the exotic local biology, which was filled with silicone and attracted to him only for his salary. It was wonderful, but to afford such luxuries, he had to endure Antargis. Sadly, the Variotans were yet to join the TCSI, despite Roland urging his pen pals in the country to lobby for their politicians to discuss the topic in his numerous letters. They probably hadn't replied because of his butchering of the Variotan language, not because he wasn't sending any money. He'd already explained that when he left Prymont.

"Nope."

"I've recently started studying some albatrosses. Wonderful birds, they are. They drop by now and then and I give them some scraps. They love it, they do."

"Aren't you supposed to, like, let them be wild? That sounds like you're on the way to domesticating them."

"No no, they're not stupid, they know it's only a little treat. Did you know their proper diet is made up of fish and krill?"

"Why are birds so far inland anyway? You don't get fish here."

"Penguins come inland. We've been following some of them too! Fascinating little creatures. Quite vicious too. One stole Harald's sandwich and wouldn't give it back!"

"Didn't you lose a bunch of penguins lately?"

"Well yes, but --"

"And that weather balloon thing didn't go well either. Not having much luck here, are you?" Max waved an open palm in the air, gesticulating towards the general Prymontians rather than just Roland - although he doubted the man was having a successful time either.

"No, not really. They're meant to be increasing our funding though, did you hear? Something about proper training and more resources. Maybe that'll turn things around for us."

"Where'd you hear that?" For a telecommunications expert, Max was not privy to this titbit of information. 

"They're meant to be announcing it at one of those conferences soon. Haven't had one in a while have they? Oh and that reminds me, one of my friends in Variota said there was some interest in them joining the treaty. Oh she's lovely, my friend. Stunning blonde hair, deep blue eyes, really big --"

"Here, I've got you a line. It should link up to Prymont and then it's just like a regular call. Don't take too long." Max handed over the headphones and quickly vacated the room, shuddering at the thought of what Roland got up to in his spare time. He wondered if it was his mother he was even calling. He tried to shake the image as he headed to the canteen, hoping to find some booze to numb the pain of his most recent exchange.

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