Count Down Stories

I pulled all the stories out from the Count Down articles and put them into one long webpage (well, actually three … each linked to the next)

Before reading them you should read these two Preludes:

=> Christening ISS Vanguard

=> Introducing the chaplain, Levi O’Connor – in the Pub

Then, day by day, stories from aboard the Starship ISS Vanguard emerged in the Count Down articles … I pulled the stories out from the articles and ran them one after another here!

The stories start slow, but after a few days, the they build up steam (of sorts:)

Day 30

It is now August 23, 2050 and starship ISS Vanguard is ready for the LAUNCH signal. But first, our chaplainLevi O’Connor, (remember reading about him in the previous article: Just Hanging Out in the Pub with the Chaplain) blesses the mission and the crew:

May the Lord comfort your heart, encourage and strengthen you to do and say what is good.
=> Vanguard Blessing (full blessing – printable PDF with clickable links)

Then the LAUNCH signal is given and starship ISS Vanguard successfully lifts off and is now heading to its final destination that had been keyed into its automated navigation system. It is unknown exactly how long it will take to arrive at that destination since this is the first time humans are journeying out into deep space, out beyond our own solar system. Our best calculations are that it will take about 30 days to reach that final destination.

Likewise, in OUR world, the ISS Vanguard games have been collected from the factory and the shipping process has begun. It also is unknown exactly how long it will take before games arrive on the doorsteps of backers, but our best calculations indicate that people may begin receiving their game in about 30 days.

So, let’s set our countdown to begin at 30. Thirty days journey into deep space. Thirty days until games are first being delivered. Every day during this count down you should find a new article posted here on My ISS Vanguard.

Full Article=> Starship Launch and Time Tracks

Day 29

For our count down today we look beyond new horizons as Levi O’Connor stops by to visit with the Recon Section! And while he was there, of course he blessed them:

I bless you this day my friends in the Recon Section, with God’s grace, mercy and peace.
=> Recon Blessings (full blessing – printable PDF with clickable links)

And now … looking beyond new horizons, let’s look at some things you may wish to order or buy now so you are ready when your game arrives.

Full Article=> Extra Things You May Want

Day 28

Just after the Count Down dropped down to 28, Levi O’Connor (ship’s chaplain) went to visit with the crew in the Engineering Section. He remembered that their motto was to “Do The Undoable” and he knew that to do that they would need strength and a firm foundation. So, that was part of his blessing over all the crew in Engineering!

May God restore and support you, and may he strengthen and place you on a firm foundation so you may do the undoable.
=> Engineering Blessing
(full blessing – printable PDF with clickable links)

And now for today’s Count Down topic … the Crew Boards!

Full Article=> Crew Boards

Day 27

Levi O’Connor was having a good day. Plus, today he was feeling a bit scientific! Actually, he was wondering if that really was what he was feeling! In any case, he thought that maybe he was being led to head over to the Science Section to see how the crew there were doing. As he walked in, there was his buddy Amir playing with his pet ring-tailed lemur! (photo of the final crew card courtesy of Shea)

Amir noticed Levi walk in and went over to chat. He had questions and who else to ask other than his buddy Levi! He told Levi that he really liked being in the Science Section, but that Security was trying to recruit him over into their Section now! (see rulebook pages 12 and 40). So he was wondering why!? Levi thanked him for trusting him with this question. And then a thought popped into Levi’s head. The motto for the Science Section was “Searching For Questions”.

So, he sat down with Amir and told him…

That is a good question Amir. You tend to have lots of good questions. I think Science is the right Section for you, for they acknowledge that every day they go out searching for questions! And, me too, Amir. It seems that someone in my position (as chaplain) is in the midst of questions everyday as well. Maybe I should be part of the Science Section!? What do you think?

And then Levi got everyone in the Science Section together to bless them this day!

My friends, the Lord is near and ever present, so you can talk with him about all your questions and need not be anxious at all.
=> Science Section Blessing (full blessing – printable PDF with clickable links)

Which leads right into a listing of all 90 crewmembers…

Full Article=> The Crew List

Day 26

Levi O’Connor was in the mess hall waiting in line for his supper and noticed Riku further back in line. Levi dropped back a few spots in the line to say HI to Riku:

Hi Riku! Nice to see you today. Aren’t you in the Security Section now? Isn’t their motto, “Always First In Line“? What are you doing in the back of the line?

Riku had to clear up this misconception.

Well, Levi, it’s like this. Were we are in a dangerous situation, you can count on me to be in front of others to make sure that they remain safe. We look out for others and keep them protected. We place the needs of others before our own.

Levi felt like that was a revelation to him.

Wow, Riku! I try to place the needs of others before my own too. Maybe as a chaplain I should be in the Security Section!

And then Levi got everyone in the Security Section together to pray a very special blessing over each of them:

My friends in the Security Section, I bless you this day with a well known blessing from the book of Numbers!

May the Lord bless you my friends, and keep you and take good care of you.
May the Lord’s face shine upon you and may He be kind and gracious to you.
May He look on you with favor and give you peace.

=> Security Section Blessing (full blessing – printable PDF with clickable links)

Photo courtesy of Shea

Here are the Skills of the crew…

Full Article=> Crew Skills

Day 25

Victoria Romano was in a real chopping mood as Jia Seok walked in.

Hi VR! What’s cooking!?

Hiya Jees. What’s painting?

Yeah… VR and JS (fondly called Jees) were buddies before the starship launched.  Jees tells everyone that VR is the best chef that she’s ever met (but then adds that she is the ONLY chef that she has ever met:). And of course, Victoria returns the favor telling the rest of the crew how just prior to launching, Jia was able to cover a whole section of the hull of the starship with gorgeous graffiti of an alien world that Jia had seen in her dreams without anyone catching her (well, almost). And there was no time for anyone to “erase” or “white out” her spontaneous art before the starship launched. And so starship ISS Vanguard was now hurtling through space with a huge fantastical scene emblazoned on its side (what will the aliens think when they see that!?)

VR nods at Jia! Well, our feast is nearly ready so you better go get Levi to pray his blessing over the …

And then a booming voice from heaven interrupts her. Well, actually it was just Levi on the system wide speaker system throughout the starship (so everyone could hear him this time).

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Testing. Testing. 1-2-3. Can you hear me? Should I tell a joke? Knock knock!

<loud burst of static as the Captain grabs the mic from Levi>

Attention all crew. This is the Captain. Our feast is nearly ready. The universally renowned chef Victoria Romano has created a meal fit for kings! So head over to the mess hall now. But first, a few words from our illustrious chaplain, Levi O’Connor.

Lord, I ask that you bless this special feast that Victoria has carefully prepared for us today. And I bless all of us aboard this special starship with a full measure of grace and peace so that wherever we go we may reflect God’s true nature. Amen. LET’S EAT!

See Levi’s full blessing here=> Vanguard Blessing 6 (full blessing – printable PDF with clickable links)

For today’s Count Down article we will take a look at the skills* of the crew…

Full Article=> Crew Skills Part 2

Day 24

Victoria (VR) looked up from preparing the next meal for the crew.

Is that what I think it is?

Jees (Jia) was rolling something into the back corner of the mess hall.

Wrong Question!” Jees replied as Thabisa appeared behind her, almost like a procession!

Apparently having RICH parents has it’s advantages! Thabisa’s parents had pulled some strings (pun intended) and got a real antique piano aboard the starship ISS Vanguard. And Thabisa was unveiling it tonight as she spread the word “Piano Jam Session Tonight“… We need to shake off the anxiety that is filling this ship!

Count me in!

The loud voice came from the next person in the procession entering the Mess Hall… Mark Poulsen! “It’s been years since I’ve had a lively jam session!

As everyone sat down for their evening meal, Levi provided a blessing as usual:

Lord God, as we prepare for another evening meal aboard the starship ISS Vanguard, we thank you for these plentiful meals that are both satisfying and delicious (nodding to VR)
=> Vanguard Blessing 7 (full blessing – printable PDF with clickable links)

And after the evening meal … Mark made sure people stayed for some fun with an energetic piano jam:

Updated Crew Skills…

Full Article=> Crew Skills Part 3

Day 23


Joppe Ulrich sheepishly came out from behind the cabinet in the back of the kitchen area of the mess hall.

VR was unconcerned and just giggled, for she was the one that put that mouse trap next to the sandwich on the shelf. I told you to quit stealing food from the kitchen. You are a good cook yourself! You should be in here helping me, not stealing from me!

And Levi O’Connor walked in just then and put in his two cents:
Yes, Joppe! For your penance, you should help VR with meals for the rest of the week!

Joppe just walked out, holding his painful fingers, glancing over at Levi wondering what had happened to that joyful chaplain from the Piano Jam Dance Party last night!
Well, VR… Ready for Mess Call?

Levi knew that the crew was really hungry today after all the “exercise” at last nights dance party.
Yep… ready to roll… ring the cowbell.

Levi just happened to have the mobile system speaker system microphone with him :)

Attention. Attention. This is not a drill. This is a real call to the Mess Hall. May God bless this food and make each of us worthy of the lives he has called us to live and fulfill our desires for goodness.
Blessing 8 (Engineering) (full blessing – printable PDF with clickable links)

Today we we conclude our look at the many different and unique crew Skills… then ends with this:

Who knows what will be next

Only the Shadow knows!
And Lindsey Stirling knows all about Shadows!

Fun Fact: Eight years ago Len (aka Levi O’Connor in this Count Down) wrote one prayer every day for a year for Lindsey Stirling. Of course, Lindsey was “famous”, so Len had to go through her “agent”. After a few months of passing along the prayers her agent asked Len if he would pray for her too. And he did (er, “I did” :) And now you can see the answer to one of your burning questions … what does one year of printed daily prayers look like? See three photos at the end of the “contents” for the eBook version:
=> eBook: One Year of Prayers for Lindsey Stirling

Or, to save you time, here is a photo I just took (yes, when I make a book for someone I make two copies of it, one for them and one for me to remember what I did):

Yes… it is quite OK to zoom in if you wish (you can even see that I was also the photographer for the cover photos of the special book of 40 prayers). And her agent also got a book that I called simply “Favored”:

Full Article=> Crew Dice Skills Part 4

Day 22

Attention! Attention! This is Captain Wayman. It is my distinct honor and pleasure to announce that our starship Library and Theater is now open! We’ve had our Piano Jams and our Music Videos to enjoy so far, but now it’s time to honor the past that was the connection for many of us. It was a book or a magazine or a movie for many of us that kindled our interest in science, in space, in astronomy and in actual space travel. Several dozen crates of Science and Science Fiction books and magazines have finally been unpacked and fill the sidewall of our theater… which is opening tonight with a movie that sparked the interest in astronomy and space travel in many of us Old-Timers… Contact!

But there is an added treat for you tonight! Along with the movie we have a real life Astrophysicist, Dr. Becky, giving her remarks and reactions to the movie. She will tell us how realistic the movie was.  This is all happening later tonight. And now the Captain is asking you to join us to see how the movie Contact envisioned space travel. You are welcome to take a couple of the Science Fiction magazines from over a century ago (the 1940’s and 50’s) and read some of the stories from the Golden Age! Here are just four of the literally hundreds available for you to take back to your room to read during our long journey into deep space (and yes, we “sleeve” our old magazines):

  • Galaxy Science Fiction – October 1957
  • Future Science Fiction – August 1958
  • Astounding Science Fiction – May 1945
  • Amazing Science Fiction Stories – July 1959

Meanwhile, Levi O’Connor was over in the Science Section chatting with the crew there. He lets them know (almost every day) how much he likes their Section motto:

And (of course) while he was there, he had a blessing for everyone:

My fellow crewmembers here in the Science Section, today I pray that you would find yourself surrounded by grace and peace.
=> Blessing 9 (Science) (full blessing – printable PDF with clickable links)

And now information about our crew. [article continues here] And now …

Welcome to our Starship Theater

The crew will be viewing a great OLD movie from 1997 (over 5 decades ago for the crewmembers … 25 years ago for us here in real time). The movie should be available from your public library. It also is available on several streaming services. And of course, it is available on DVD or BluRay. The movie is Contact released in 1997. Many who work in the space and astronomy field have said that this movie was very influential in their early lives. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, it is quite good. I just watched it for the THIRD time tonight and noticed some similarities with the ISS VANGUARD game! As you play the game you should notice some of these things yourself (hats off to Awaken Realms for designing such a realistic game).

Spoiler Alert!

Granted, there has been so much Science Fiction published in the past century (or more) that you should expect to see ideas and concepts from many of the books and movies in ISS Vanguard. However … technically, you might call these spoilers (just so you know).

ISS Vanguard has the human race being called out into deep space. The movie Contact has it’s own take on that situation, but they both portray us, as a human race, being called forth into space!

If you have not yet seen the movie do NOT watch the following 4 minute clip. If you have already seen the movie, this clip is when Ellie is speaking with an alien who took on the form of her father. I will end this article with a transcript of most of this scene:

But I had even more fun watching Dr. Becky’s 21 minute reaction to the movie. I have enjoyed (and learned a lot from) her videos. She is an astrophysicist who can explain those complex things in terms us mere mortals can (almost) understand! She has done several videos with her reactions to various Sci-Fi shows and movies (including Star Trek, Stargate and The Expanse) showing clips and then noting how accurate or realistic it was! Here is her take on the movie Contact:

Part of the dialog from movie Contact when Ellie is on the alien world:
E: is for when Ellie is speaking
A: is for when the alien in the form of her Dad is speaking
E: … And there are others?
A: Many others
E: They all travel here through that transit system you built?
A: We didn’t build it. We don’t know who did. No, they were gone long before we even got here. Maybe someday the’ll come back.
E: All the other civilizations that you find, they come here?
A: Not at all
E: Is this some test?
A: No, no tests. You have your mother’s hands. You’re an interesting species… an interesting mix. You’re capable of such beautiful dreams… and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost… so cut off, so alone. Only you’re not. See… in all our searching… the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable… is each other.
E: What happens now?
A: Now… you go home.
E: Home? But I have so many questions. Do we get to come back?
A: This is just a first step. In time you’ll take another.
E: But other people need to see what I’ve seen –
A: This is the way it’s been done for billions of years.
E: But I –
A: Small moves, Ellie. Small moves.
Full Article=> Building Our Crew

Day 21

Zoe Fuentes was crying in Isabel Sandoval’s room. They were speaking in Spanish.

Isabel was the resident GENIUS aboard the starship. But she also was Spanish, which is why Zoe sought her out.

Zoe was crying because Spanish was the only language she knew. And most everywhere she went people were speaking English!

Isabel knew that she could help, and actually had already been working on an instant translator device that would fit into your ear, just like a hearing aid. Only instead of amplifying the sounds, it would monitor the sounds and automatically detect various languages being spoken (or even sung in a song) and provide a translation live in real time into whatever language you wish. She had a couple prototypes and while talking with Zoe, set one of them to translate all languages into Spanish.

Zoe … here … try this!

She then fit it perfectly for Zoe’s right ear.

Then she started talking to her IN ENGLISH!

Zoe wiped away her tears and actually started smiling again. She knew that Isabel was now speaking in English, but she was hearing her in Spanish in her right ear.

Go on Zoe … go on! Walk around and see what you see and HEAR!

Zoe, didn’t need to be told twice … she was off running!

And who should she run into first?

Why the big smile, Zoe?

Levi O’Connor was happy that she was happy. And as she ran past him, she said:

Isabel… Isabel… ISABEL !!!

So, of course we know where Levi went.

Hi Isabel. What did you do to Zoe?

Oh, nothing much. Just whipped up a tiny instant real time language translator for her. I had two prototypes, and she got to try out the first one! Seems a success, eh Levi?

Would it work for me? I know that Zoe only understands Spanish, so does it only translate into Spanish?

Levi was looking at his watch.

Oh, no … I can set it for any language I want. I programmed it for every language spoken here aboard this starship, even English :)

Meanwhile … the music that Zoe had been playing for Isabel was still playing … in Spanish of course! And that gave Isabel an idea (a genius idea). I can see you have somewhere to go Levi … Why not come back later this evening and you might get a surprise!

So, off Levi went … heading to the Security Section. He hadn’t dropped by to visit with them for a couple days now. When he got there he could see that they were in the midst of “security” business! (he could tell because everyone quit talking as soon as he walked in!)

Sorry, to interrupt! You all are looking a bit serious! How about I bless you and let you get back at it!?

May you live by the Scriptures each day so you may prosper and find success on each world that you visit during our deep space journey.
=> Blessing 10 (Security) (full blessing – printable PDF with clickable links)

Are you ready for the Section Dice? [article is in the middle here] Perhaps the EXPERT and WILD dice may be “missing”?

Who knows?

Only the Shadow knows! (and this is where we all join together and shout “Lindsey Stirling” Shadows as we saw in Count Down 23 article!)

But wait … there’s more! After all this, Levi O’Connor remembered that Isabel promised him a surprise … and who can resist a surprise? It was almost like waiting for Christmas morning when he was a child! So, he was off to Isabel’s room to see what the surprise was!

Hi Izzy! Surprise time?

Isabel was not thrilled with his nickname for her, but she looked at it as a way that he thought she was special… and who doesn’t want to feel special!? So with a big smile she turned towards Levi as he entered:

Hey Levi! Want to hear something special?

I’m all ears! :)

I only need one of them Levi.

And  with that Izzy (er, Isable) went over and put her other prototype instant language translator into Levi’s right ear! Perfect fit!

Now … for the test!  You do like tests, right Levi?

Ummmm… I … 

Before he could actually reply, Izzy had turned on her music system and was playing that same song that Zoe had been listening to with her earlier that day (she had already set that song on “repeat“):

In his left ear he could hear the song with words that he did not understand… but he didn’t mind swaying to the music with Izzy. And then all of a sudden it clicked in and he was hearing the ENGLISH of what the song was singing about! His swaying stopped and his jaw dropped*.


Izzy was now laughing and twirling with the music.

Yes! Now you know what they are singing about!


And Levi went swaying and twirling out of the room. Boy, he loved surprises!

Thanks Izzy!

Night Levi :)

* Remember this term: Jaw dropping

And now… back to the real world … Izzy’s invention is not so far fetched. Actually, I’d guess that it exists and is being tested someplace already. And you (yes YOU) can do it right now, today with your Android phone! Check out how in this support article:

=> Translate a Bilingual Conversation

And finally … get ready … everything is not nice and calm aboard the starship ISS Vanguard all the time. The calm is going to break soon…

Get ready to JUMP!

And with that … here is what Levi was hearing in his right ear:

my treasure
I am surrendered at your feet
I gave you my all
let the whole world know
that I had a good time with you
if you cry to me, I cry to you
if you forgive me, I forgive you
if you laugh at me, I smile at you
I warm you up if it’s cold
if you provoke me, I provoke you
when you undress you drive me crazy
and little by little I devour you
Mommy, I never leave you
and it is that you are my treasure
how I adore you
Every day I fall more in love
I risk everything for you
and it is that you are my treasure
oh how i adore you
Every day I fall in love more
you are my fortune and my gold
I-I stole your heart
and I’m not going to return it to you
Although I have failed, and you have
failed, let’s not live yesterday
I don’t want you to be alone
I never want to see you cry
that I lack the air
take everything away from me
but your love did not let me steal
When every night I make a wish
that you never leave, I just want
because you are the only one i believe in
always in my bed, mommy, I wait for you
and it is that you are my treasure
how I adore you
Every day I fall more in love
I risk everything for you
and it is that you are my treasure
oh how i adore you
Every day I fall more in love
you are my fortune and my gold
so much love for you
he’s freaking out
woman, you fascinate me
I swear I don’t know how
explain what i feel
I know that I am your other half
with you there is sun, there is no rain or wind
if you, I’m decaying
I know that you want it
same as you want
that we are together
oh, you are my treasure in this story
I have your body tattooed in my memory
we started from scratch, true love
thief of your kisses, your bandit
if you ask, i’ll go up
flying and you under the sky
for you, I put my hands
mommy in the fire
oh how ri-how nice to remember me
when you told me: “give me, give me”
and I told you: “take, take, take”
come on, aeh
I want to devour you, aeh
you can’t walk away, aeh
I’m going to find you, aeh
come on, aeh
I want to devour you, aeh
you can’t walk away, aeh
I’m going to find you, aeh
and it is that you are my treasure
how I adore you
Every day I fall more in love
I risk everything for you
and it is that you are my treasure
oh how i adore you
Every day I fall in love more
Zion, baby, and Lennox For You!
(missing text)
Nicky Jam
Sidenote: in case you are interested … I have this song on REPEAT and the volume turned UP … and I am swaying here in my chair in front of my computer … FUN!!!
Full Article=> The Dice

Day 20

Levi O’Connor was wandering the halls late at night again. If you ask him about it he will explain quite clearly that he does get enough sleep though… because he skips breakfast and sleeps till almost noon!

Tonight was like most every other night, except as he walked past the Mess Hall, he noticed to shadows off in the back corner (OK … they were just VR and Cho, but Levi still had “shadows” running through his mind from that Lindsay Stirling video they watched a few days ago).

Rather than just continue his calm pace down the hall, he decided to check out what the two young ladies were scheming this time:)  He remembered how Cho was always ready for a “midnight snack” but unlike Joppe, she didn’t sneak around to steal it … she made a deal with VR instead. VR would make her a tasty (somewhat) snack and Cho would clean out one of the cabinets in the kitchen for VR.

Hi, Levi … you can quick sneaking in … we saw you as soon as you went through the main door.

Oh … well … I  wasn’t “sneaking”! Just walking softly due to the late hour.

And I suppose you are hoping for a midnight snack too?

Well, now that you mention it :)

While snacking, Levi listened to Cho and VR as they continued their discussion. VR knew that Cho had an eye and an ear and a nose for food and was hoping that maybe she’d be on one of the early Away Teams and might scout out some new food sources once they arrived at their destination. But, VR also knew that it was unfortunate that it was Joppe and not Cho who was assigned to the Recon Section!

However, Levi didn’t really mind who found new food sources… only that they DID find food! And, his snacking over, he went on back to making his “rounds” and ended back in his room and fast asleep within the hour. And he DID get his full eight hours of sleep (2am until 10am) even though he was getting up earlier than usual.

However, Levi WAS still thinking about the “scouting for food sources” conversation last night and how it just might be up to the Recon Section Team to hunt out new food sources for the ISS Vanguard crew. So, food floating in his mind, Levi headed over to visit with the Recon Team.

How’s the horizon looking today guys?

There is no horizon right now Levi!

How’s the outlook for arriving at our final destination?

No clue, Levi!

Well, let me bless you as you look to the future where you aren’t sure of what will be there then! Your journey there could be quite exciting!

I bless you with youthful joy, to playfully frolic and skip about, leaping with joy, as our starship continues out beyond new horizons!
=> Blessing 11 (Recon) (full blessing – printable PDF with clickable links)

[the article continues here]

Meanwhile … back on the ISS Vanguard our story continues :)

Later that night Levi took Cho down to the Observatory Dome to look at the sky … the BIG SKY. Yes, that is how Cho referred to it … as the Big Sky! She grew up in a huge city in Korea with miles of buildings … tall buildings… REALLY tall buildings… LOTS of them! Wherever she went there almost was no sky… just buildings all around her, even as she looked up! There was only a thin sliver of what people told her was the sky. Both Cho and Levi considered themselves fortunate to be hurtling through space… a space that was BIG… actually REALLY BIG … actually absolutely HUGE!

Photo courtesy of NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). Cartwheel Galaxy!

Sidenote: the end of this article is based on my conversation a few years ago with a Korean friend, who loved her visit here in Madison, Wisconsin and many times liked to go outside and just look UP. She referred to it as a Big Sky!

Full Article=> The Universe

This has gotten a bit long for one page, so…

The stories will continue on page 2:

=> Count Down Stories part 2

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