Count Down Stories 3

Count Down Stories continue from the previous page:

=> Count Down Stories 2

The previous stories ended on day 12, so now we continue at day 11:

Day 11

=> Setting Up For A Mission

It was one of those nights again. But Levi didn’t mind. He was a night owl. He was at his best late at night. Maybe it was because there were so few distractions late at night. Maybe because there was nothing scheduled on his calendar so he was free to do his own projects. Maybe because… wait a minute! He heard a noise! Who else would be walking the corridors at this time of the day (er, night)?

Levi thought of Avery as a kind of kindred spirit in that they both liked to be up late at night (ie, REALLY late!) And he knew this about Avery without even needing to read it in her Personnel file:

Due to a rare DEC2 gene mutation, Avery needs remarkably little sleep, making her an ideal candidate for long, demanding missions. Countless nights spent pacing the decks during boring graveyard shifts led her to develop a unique connection with the Vanguard itself and its humming alien core. Some fear that given the choice: her crewmates or the ship, she would choose the latter without blinking.

Avery loved walking the corridors late at night because she could do so uninterrupted!

Hiya AV!

Oh no, it was Levi!

Hi Levi … can’t sleep?

Nah… I sleep fine. I just wake up late… like about noon!

Avery smiled as Levi laughed. She was a night owl too … but also an early bird!

That Virtual Reality Concert yesterday was really nice Levi. Thanks for getting Mark and Klara to set that up for us!

Aww … it was mostly for me… I like her music. It is so uplifting, even without words. Actually, it is even more uplifting because there are no words to distract me. It just brightens my day (or night) and gives me a “good” feeling.

Yeah … have to agree with that Levi! But for me, the sound of a starship late at night is the best. Can you hear it Levi? Can you hear the constant soft sounds that always are there? But you can barely hear them when everyone is talking and bustling about!

Levi stopped walking. Avery too. They paused to just listen.

Yes! That is a very nice soft sound. We should record it so we can listen to it in our rooms as we go to bed!

Already did that Levi. I will send the sound track over to you. [see end of this article]

Great! Thanks AV! Now I better get my blessing prepared for the new day! Almost time for the Wake Up Chimes!

And not much later those Wake Up Chimes were chiming. Well, actually it was Levi who was chiming to everyone in Engineering as they were waking up:

Rise and Shine Sleepy Heads! God’s promise through the prophet Haggai is yours today!
I pray that your blessings will go on and on and on and on.
Blessing 20 (Engineering) (full blessing – printable PDF with clickable links)

That got them off to a good start on the new day! But what about upcoming Missions? [article continues here]

When Levi got back to his room, there was an incoming message for him… with an attached file!

Thanks AV

(yes he did talk to himself a lot)

It was her recording of the soft starship sounds at night!

PS: I wrote this entire article listening to these soft starship sounds!

Day 10

=> Juggling the Books, Cards and Dice

Levi was getting tired of juggling the books. He had too many books, and nowhere to put them. While using one he needed to reference two others, so often he would hold one on his lap and place the other off to the side on his “TV Table” while his main book stayed out in front of him on the main table. But then all something broke loose when his main book required him to grab yet a fourth book!

Holy Smoke!

Yes, Levi was polite even when frustrated!

How do they expect me to get through this? I don’t have room for everything I need to be reading at the same time! Who designed this? A circus juggler? 

Then it hit him (Bam!). He should get some advice from a REAL juggler … Owen! And he knew just where to find him too!

Levi always wondered why Owen ran down the corridors juggling 3 balls. His personnel file answered that question:

Owen was admitted to the Vanguard as a part of the infamous “Wildcard Project”. Knowing that the ship will face circumstances that are impossible to predict, the Vanguard Initiative decided to include in the crew at least one person with every rare skill, no matter how useless it appeared. Reserved and professional, Owen hopes no one will learn that he earned his place on the mission with his incredible circus juggling skills.

Levi thought that he’d chat with Owen about how to juggle all his books and papers that never seemed to fit anywhere! But on his way he stopped by the Recon Section for today’s blessing:

I pray that you would be grounded in God’s love.
Blessing 21 (Recon) (full blessing – printable PDF with clickable links)

Owen wasn’t much help when Levi caught up with him… with all his books anyway. But he did teach Levi a simple way to juggle three balls and even let him borrow his bag of juggling balls.

But Levi is not the only one wondering where to put everything. If he was frustrated with juggling just books, he should try it with seventy five dice, one thousand two hundred cards and miniature models wandering all over the room (yeah, they are cute, but where to put them all?). [article continues here]

Meanwhile, the crew wondered about all the balls scattered around the corridors. Apparently Levi’s juggling left a few behind. Once he dropped a ball, he just left it behind and got another out of the juggling balls bag that Owen let him use. He’d gather them up again later. Maybe AV would help him during a midnight stroll in the corridors tonight!

Day 9

=> New Crew, New Rules Playtest

Levi wasn’t thinking about food (or eating) as much as his buddy Cho, but he did appreciate everything that Betty was doing to provide the crew with fresh vegetables and clean water. She was a dream come true for a starship on a long voyage into deep space. Levi didn’t see her much since she usually just hung out in the hydroponics bay. But today, Levi decided to drop by that “bay” and see what’s cooking, er… what’s growing!

(did anyone else notice how the ISS Vanguard red V logo looks like a heart on the left side of her suit?)

Betty belonged to a group of activist scientists who fought the droughts devastating the American Midwest, but her work couldn’t match the speed of climate change. She decided to revise her approach – instead of fighting to stop the decline, she started adjusting current technologies to new conditions. Her newly designed hydroponic farms and waste-reuse systems caught the attention of the Vanguard Initiative, and soon Betty was enrolled.

And Levi didn’t want to drop by the Hydroponics Bay on his own. He rounded up the entire Science Sections and they all marched down to the HB.

Hiya Betty

Levi led them all in.

Don’t be so darn formal Levi… my friends all call me BC and so can you, even when the whole Science Section is watching you! (laughing)

Well, BC… I thought this would be a fine place to gather our whole Science Section together to thank you for all your work here in the Hydroponics Bay. We appreciate all you do (and so does our stomachs).

Well ……..  (the Science crew was waiting on Levi now)

Levi got the hint… and prayed a blessing over the whole Section AND the Hydroponics Bay:

May the Lord bless you, your family and your land at our far distant destination.
=> Blessing 22 (Science) (full blessing – printable PDF with clickable links)

Then it was Play TimeLITERALLY!

Yes … it is about time to play test the New Crew on the new Crew Boards using the New Rulebook [article continues here]

Day 8

=> Dice Check Steps

Levi so admired artists, even graffiti artists that painted the hull of ISS Vanguard just before launch (as he thought about Jees). Yes, Jia was an amazing artist. But so was Destiny, and that’s why he had convinced her to set up a display of her art in the corner of the Mess Hall. And so every now and then he would come and sit below the suspended glass balls, each with it’s own tiny landscape or scene inside it, just like a Christmas ornament. Well, not really. Destiny’s was way more intricate and detailed. You wondered just HOW she got everything inside that glass sphere. Levi considered what it would be like to juggle them! No… no… not by him, but by Owen!

Just a week after she’d set up her display in the corner of the Mess Hall, they even updated her personnel file accordingly:

Destiny takes great pride in her colorful, vibrant glass art, something for which she was known and respected back home. Aboard Vanguard, she attempts to use glass to recreate many of the new and alien worlds encountered by landing teams. Currently, they’re displayed in the mess hall, and more are added with each mission.

Levi didn’t know about “vibrant”, but he DID know that it was mesmerizing.

Destiny, just how do you get all those highly detailed pieces in exactly the right places hovering inside those glass spheres. It looks impossible.

Well, Levi… in the good ole days, there were ships in a bottle that looked darn near impossible too! I even have one in the back corner for those interested in the “history” behind my spheres! C’mon… I’ll show you!

Back in the corner, she was right… there it was… a ship in a bottle! [click the following link to see an article about them with a wonderful photo of one near the top]

=> Ship In A Bottle article

Yeah, Destiny… but there was a trick to those! They built the sails separately, attached a string to them, slid them inside the bottle and onto the base of the ship and then pulled the string to open up the sails.

You make it sound so easy Levi. Let’s see YOU do it!


And you do know their trick. However, you DON’T know my trick Levi. Because my art is impossible!

Nothing is impossible for God, Destiny … but you are not God.

Ah, but don’t you believe in miracles, Levi? Don’t you believe that God could, did and still does work through mere humans?

Yeah, but…

So, Levi … are you gazing at miracles on display then?

Ummm… it is just a trick, right Destiny?

Who knows, Levi!
And don’t give me that “Only The Shadow Knows” shtick.

As they both laughed chef Victoria Romano came over to join them.

Well you two… want a snack?

Both Destiny and Levi knew that they could always count on VR for snacks!

The snack gave Levi the energy he needed, and off he went over to the Security Section. They knew he’d been over to visit with the Science Section, and now they asked him to come visit them too! And he already had prepared a blessing tailored just for them:

May you be like a good tree planted along a river, never bothered or worried but full of hope and confidence. It may look like you are first in line, but God is there before you.
Blessing 23 (Security) (full blessing – printable PDF with clickable links)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, er, game: [article continues here]

Day 7

=> Arrival

Attention! Attention! This is the Captain. Just a tad before reaching our destination coordinates we have encountered something… something big… something huge… something gigantic… something so big words escape me! How do I reference something that is more than twice the size of our entire solar system! We were not expecting this. Of course we also were not expecting that our Torpor Chamber System would totally fail shortly after leaving our solar system. Nor were we expecting this alien Alcubierre drive to be nearly 100 times faster than anticipated. We have been out of communication range with Earth since just after we launched 22 days ago. As far as they know, each person aboard this starship is “sleeping” in suspended animation inside their own Torpor Chamber. NASA has been working on this Torpor system for decades … ever since the year 2013 and thought they had perfected it. Well… they never were able to test to see if it would function at the same time as an alien Alcubierre drive runnning at 100 times maximum speed! The drive worked well … it worked really well… it was fantastic. But the Torpor Chambers? Not so much.

Captain Wayman cleared his throat.

So, we have nearly arrived at our destination in just 3 weeks rather than in two years! But earth is unaware of this and continues making the ISS Vanguard 2 starship that was scheduled to launch with WAVE 2 in about a year. We are not sure if the second starship’s drive engine will kick in at 100 times maximum speed like ours did or not.  So we have at least a year before the next starship arrives to join us here. If their journey takes the full two years and the Torpor Chambers actually continue functioning on that Wave 2 Vanguard starship, they will arrive here in about three years. And as Captain, I have decided to NOT let those coming in Wave 2 know that we got here so fast nor that our Torpor Chambers failed almost immediately after launch. So I am NOT recording this announcement to you. And I am erasing all the prior recorded announcements. Next I will make an OFFICIAL announcement as if we had just arrived after spending two years in our Torpor Chambers. So, enjoy exploring for years before the others arrive! And I am sending each of you a link to the information about the Torpor Chambers so you know the story that we are sticking with … we were in them for TWO YEARS. That’s our story.

Captain Wayman paused to send everyone a link to the full information about the Torpor Chambers:
=> Torpor Chambers (from NASA 2013)

Captain Wayman then got ready to put on a show for the official record … this would be the first Captain’s Log that others who follow will see and hear!

Good morning, crew! If you’re hearing this, it means you belong to a small group of essential personnel waking up in the first wave. Let me bring you up to speed: For the last two years, Vanguard has been cruising safely to our destination, following alien coordinates to the main objective of our mission. Five days ago, we switched off the Alcubierre drive and dropped to sublight speed. You might feel a bit heavy on the main deck; gravitational compensators keep deceleration down to a slightly uncomfortable 2G. The red zones on the ship are locked and off-limits unless you want to experience what 90G feels like. We’re now approaching our target. So far, sensors aren’t picking up anything, but don’t let that get you down. We’re still a ways off, and…

Levi was with T in the observation dome. Tayen enjoyed her conversations with Levi because he believed her when she said she could see things coming… when she knew about things that she just should not know! And after hearing the Captain’s broadcast to the whole starship, Levi asked T:

Well T, that was peculiar. Does this have anything to do with your two visions? You know the ones that have been painted on the Mess Hall walls for a couple weeks now? Or about Jumping Into The Fire? Or an alien set of portals in a circle… a very very very large circle?

Not sure Levi. But that very very very large circular object that the Captain spoke of is something we cannot avoid … because it **IS** a void! I see the void and can see it’s center, it’s eye! But I don’t see fire just yet. Maybe the fire is yet to come. Maybe we won’t encounter it with the first Away Team the Captain is assembling now. Maybe not the next few Away Teams. But I still see that fire off in the distance. We still need to be ready for it.

You mean a few of us still need to be ready to Jump Into The Fire?

Sorry, Levi, but yes. It will happen. I see it happening. Just not sure when!

Note: for those new to these Count Down articles, you might want to read the previous article with Levi and Tayen’s previous conversation that they are referring to today:
=> Navigating IN a Star System

Well, T… since we have arrived, I think it is time for my Spock Blessing. My Star Trek Blessing. Yet still a blessing pulled right from Scriptures. I have my microphone attached to my mobile transmitter to the system wide speaker system. Here goes:

Live Long and Prosper!
=> Vanguard Blessing 24 (Spock’s blessing) (full blessing – printable PDF with clickable links)

And speaking of Count Down… I was only off by 7 days for this Count Down. Pretty close I think. And since backers are now receiving their games, the Count Down is officially ended.

However … as the Count Down closes, I have put together three things for everyone. These are all available to you anytime via the menu bar at the top of each page under the menu choice CountDown. But here is a quick guide to them:

  1. An eBook of all the Blessings PLUS I will arrange for Grimm Book Bindery here in Madison to make a beautiful glossy cover book of them (watch for info on how to get your own copy).
    => All the Blessings (eBook, soon a glossy Hard Cover printed book)
  2. A list of all the Count Down articles with their titles – fully linked, so you can click on any article that you want to see
    => All the Articles (link list)
  3. All the stories from the Count Down articles (without the game information… just the stories). Would anyone want these as an eBook or hard cover book like the Blessings? For now, they are one long webpage (actually three webpages… the first connects to the second which connects to the third).
    => All the Stories (Levi, VR, Jeez, T, Izzy and more)

It’s Like Christmas! A Present Appeared On Your Doorstep!

Levi was UPSIDE DOWN … looking UP through the Observation Dome out into space and looking at where the very FIRST Away Team was headed right now!

Yeah, Levi knew that he wasn’t really upside down. It was ISS Vanguard that was UPSIDE DOWN.

There is no such thing as upside down in space Levi!

Izzy was there with him, laying on the floor looking up through the Dome!

Isabel Sandoval was the resident genius here aboard the starship ISS Vanguard, and when Levi had tough questions on his mind, he sought her out!

Levi, what do you think of the Universe now?


Yes … now that you have seen so much of it … and are looking up at a place far distant from Earth where our Away Team is headed to right now!

Well, Izzy … I feel like it is Christmas Morning! Remember Christmas when you were small? Waiting, waiting, waiting and waiting so you could open your present at the break of Dawn on Christmas Morning! Well, Izzy… there it is! There is OUR Christmas Present… just outside that Dome!

And Levi was right… absolutely right! It was like a HUGE Christmas Present just dropped into their laps, right outside the starship.

And just like Levi, many ISS Vanguard backers have found a HUGE box outside their doorstep… just like a Christmas Present!  And what do you do after you open your Christmas Present!?

You SHOW IT to everyone!!!

And those fortunate to receive their HUGE box, can do just that with an automated system set up just for you to SHARE your photos, your thoughts, your stories!

I set up a system so easy that all you need to do is send an EMail to the website (yes TO the website) and your email becomes an article, complete with your photos! I won’t give the special EMail address here … but it all is explained on the special sharing website here:

CLICK to Share (or view) =>

Yes … instead of MY ISS Vanguard, the sharing website is YOUR ISS Vanguard! And everything you need to know to SHARE your thoughts and photos is right there in the left column, and the instructions are very brief because it really is VERY simple (compared to “dice checks”)

Izzy interrupted…

Levi… It’s your Christmas Present too! What do you have to share about it?

Well, Izzy … it reminds me of the astronauts who first orbited the moon. They too were utterly amazed at the universe once they were outside of Earth’s orbit and out into space all the way (for them) TO THE MOON!

Some of today’s scientists and astronomers and astrophysicists say that it was Star Trek or the movie Contact that got them interested in SPACE. Well, I **ALWAYS** was interested in Space! But it was when “we” finally orbited the MOON that I was at the height of my interest. I was enthused. I was excited. I was encouraged. And it was that message from space (well, from the Astronauts who were in space) that got my attention… got my interest in God! 

And Levi had pre-arranged a showing of just that … the OFFICIAL NASA video and audio from those early astronauts who first orbited the moon. So he and Izzy walked (rushed) over to the Mess Hall where that very video was about to be projected for all the crew!

They got to the Mess Hall just in time for Levi to introduce the Official NASA video!

Welcome everyone here on this starship! Welcome! We’re here! Far distant from Earth. Later today I invite all the crew to drop by the Observation Dome and look up into the heavens as our very first Away Team is off to investigate the wonders of this place at the destination “given to us” directly in our DNA! And let’s begin our celebration giving thanks and watching a video from nearly a century ago when astronauts first orbited the Moon!

Heavenly Father, good evening! Thank you for being with us. Thank you for being in our midst. Thank you for those NASA astronauts that chose to read from God’s Word as their message to everyone on earth. Thank you for the images from space that they sent along with their audio message. Thank you for the enormous impact those three men had then and how it reverberates even today! As they orbited the moon and saw the earth from afar … it was the Genesis creation that came to their minds. How fitting that they could intertwine the highly technical advances of man with the truth of how God created it all. And let’s watch and listen to what those astronauts read from space to us:

He clicked a button and the video started, projected onto the wall across from them:

Most of the crew had never seen this before, nor even heard about it! But it confirmed for them that science and God were intertwined. If it is new to you as well, read the short NASA article about it here => Apollo 8: Christmas At The Moon

Merry Christmas!

Share your photos of your present!

Share your stories!

Share how you set up the game on YOUR table for the Missions AFTER the Tutorial!

Just do NOT share that special EMail address please!

This time it was Levi who interrupted:

Time to celebrate! Open your present (by strolling down to the Observation Dome). Then SHOW everyone what you got! But before you leave … let’s begin our celebration with a question (and answer):

Our Very First Away Team is off on their Mission right now! What will they find? What will they discover?

Who knows!?

And the crew shouted:

The Shadow Knows

And Levi replied

Lindsey Stirling … and her song to begin our Christmas celebration with Hallelujah and scenes from what is now distant earth:

Let us see the beauty in each other! If you ended up with tears (as I do every time I watch this video), why not pray a prayer for Lindsey Stirling, that she can continue to be a positive role model for all the young women (and men) in our world today! You can pray your own prayer, which can be a simple sentence. Or you can pick one of the 365 (really 366) prayers that I prayed for her and re-pray it today.
=> Pick One Day from Here

Merry Christmas (truly). Do you see the gift? And may God bless all of you on this good earth!

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