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[IC] Novo Aether: Legacy - Adrift & Waiting...

TalonrazorTalonrazor Registered User regular
edited June 2008 in Critical Failures
This is the IC thread of Novo Aether: Legacy. OOC Thread is located here. Remember, only character actions are allow in here.



These are the old days, the new days, the rough days. These are the kill-or-be-killed-days, the hack-or-be-merged days. These are the corporate days, the profit days. These are the days of the Sprawl, the Box and the Fringe. These days belong to the tyrant and the corrupt and the business and the violence. These are worlds forged from greed and money and blood and souls. This is the day of survival, of unification, of losing identifies. This is the day of one thought, one voice, one expression and one face. These are our days. This is our time. This is the world of dark and of light, of meat and of nodes. This is our story.

- Transcript, Uninet Datapool; “Thoughts of a razorblade”, Author: NuGh0st

Some say that humanity is an advanced species. That humanity has reached its zenith, the greatest height humanity has ever achieved. Humanity, however, has just started. The past six thousand years has been our pre-history, our very start of our first step. We are truly in our infancy; for humanity is just now taking the mantle that we were destined to be. We are taking our rightful place alongside our Prime brethren. We’ve shaken off the problems of Old Terra. We on the verge of true humanity. We are spreading into our stars, into humanity’s place of belonging. Now is our real beginning.
Now is humanity’s genesis. This will be our greatest legacy.


- United Colonies President Whitmore Benne Rico, Inaugural Address
Begin Main Transcript

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    TalonrazorTalonrazor Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    The Captain

    The Diamond Star-class freighter plunged through the wormhole, its twelfth day in transit. Only a day out from arrival at the Sconce system GAPTRAN gate, the freighter bore the name Prodigal Son and was flagged under the Independent world Republic of Pluto. Inside, the day cycle was just beginning as the freighter had swapped its cycles over to match the destination planet of Tillamook. The crew was just getting used to the Tillamook cycle…

    Jules Arshad, captain of the vessel in question, awoke from an incredibly vivid dream. He had long come to expect the hyper-realistic, mind-bending dreams that always occurred inside the wormholes of the transit gates but every single one still left him unnerved in their complexity. Spacers called it seeing the worm and the more superstitious lot believed that the worm could reveal intricate truths and, if you really knew how to look at it, precognitions. Jules never did buy that but it did jar him a little. Secretly, he always compared the wormholes to his younger, rougher days of dropping acid in the sprawls of Dhiurki.

    The darkness of his room was smothering him as the thoughts tumbled in his brain. With a mental command, he activated his pearl and optronics, otherwise known as going bright. In a moment, his augmented reality interface was up and his s-link was connecting the ship’s ASN. Already his pearl was sifting through morning reports logged by the onboard ship intelligence matrix and icons were sorted and filtered in the overlay that spread across his vision. A second later and his pearl dumped the command for the room to be lit. Lights brightened as Jules sat up. Another command started warm water in the shower and Jules trudged towards it, still moving through morning logs from engineering, navigations, avionics and other ship systems.
    The Engine Room

    Jabber Winslow, the propulsions system engineer, was sitting at the desk in the small engineering office when Gajeck walked in. Jabber smiled at the Kalish and, as had been their tradition for the past few weeks, pointed to a coffee mug that was still simmering.

    “Made, as usual. Night cycle was quiet, chief.” The Alphanian sipped his coffee slowly, ever smiling. He never seemed to stop. “Godfrey’s got the secondary unit scrubber in pieces down there, the ASN logged an electrical fault earlier in the night. He should have it up and running soon.”

    Godfrey Yeoman, the young mechanic that worked for the two engineers tirelessly, could be seen out of the office windows, buried in mechanical parts and wiring as he labored over a massive metal piece next to the huge machinery that one of several engines. He glanced up and waved, lubricant covering his face. A tell from his Pearl bounced into Gajeck’s, “Hey boss, getting this thing back together. Couple of boards burned out but it was pretty basic. Shouldn’t be too bad.”

    Jabber nodded at Gajeck as he sipped his coffee again, his long neck bobbing with the motion. “I decided not to log it in the engineering shift report; the captain has been on such an edge this entire trip. I figured it wasn’t an issue so why bother him. He’s too strung out like it is.”
    The Bridge

    The bridge of the freighter was almost empty, save for the single female Prime perched at the pilot’s station. She was slim and pretty for a Landskraed, her olive-tone skin matching her flowing hair and shimmering eyes. Her feet were propped up on a panel, eyes shining with the glow of the ARI. Her head turned slightly as Cal entered.

    “Good morning, Kerja. How did the worm treat you this sleep?” She gazed out the expansive windows at the swirling psychedelic colors of the spinning wormhole as the ship gently moved along. “It’s been such a gorgeous display. I always like these deep runs, I think the longer, smaller worms are the most brilliant. It’s such a great contrast to the barren, plain Frontier, you know?” For a Landskraed, Kista Wessiri was a talker.

    “I just feel at peace here, a sense of calm. I knew this one spacer, a long time ago, deep-space freelancer you know? He told me he once knew this Waystranger that told him the worms are actually living extradimensional beings and that they enter all our minds when we ride them. That’s why you always feel so different when you are inside the wormholes. Kinda makes sense, you know? I can see how some deep-spacers go mad after riding so many worms for such long periods and get addicted. It is addicting, isn’t it, you know?”

    The babble was interrupted by arrival of another crewmember. Kista yanked her head over and smiled. “Ah, good morning Father! I was just telling Kerja about that Waystranger I was talking about earlier. Does the Vatican have any kind of idea about the wor-Good morning sir!” Kista yanked her feet off the panel and stumbled a bit as the captain entered the empty bridge.

    Jules Arshad regarded the two pilots and his navigator silently, sullenly. His eyes were narrow, his hands clasped tightly together. He turned and stared at the swirling colors. The viens in his neck stood out, the man seemed to be a million miles away. His voice was low, as if he wasn’t really speaking to anyone. “And how is the worm behaving today, Father Navigator.” It was worded as a statement, rather than a question.
    The Crew Mess

    The crew mess was crowded with almost all of the crew as the night cycle ate dinner and the day cycle enjoyed breakfast. Horkan and Hannah could hear the noisy laughter and boisterous voices from a ways down the corridor. Inside, the crew was spread out on a few long tables as Tuuba served hot steaming plates of food. A group was crowded around the Martian human Davion Farlance and erupted into laughter just as Hannah and Horkan entered. Davion had his arms spread wide and was pantomiming something. Shorach Alateen, the Faeph calibration technician in charge of the delicate ship sensor systems, spewed bits of oatmeal at the result of the story that had obviously just concluded and that made the group laugh even more.

    “Oh man,” Godfrey Yeoman slid past Hannah and Horkan and moved towards the group. “Did I just miss another Farlance cyber-rave story?”

    “Did you ever!” Timmser A’kazz wiped a tear from his Merion eyes. “Davion was regaling us with the joy of swapping out clarity pills for laxative pills at a rave.”

    “Goddamn.” Godfrey plopped down. “That’s the thanks I get for fixing one of our atmospheric scrubbers and keeping all you ungrateful wretches alive for another day. Hey Tuuba, let’s get some of that good chow down over this way, eh?” The huge Idimo grunted at him with anger and muttered things about Godfrey’s ass and how it would be torn asunder as he plopped food on a plate and slid it towards the human.

    “This food, by the by, is fantastic,” Shorach said with a wink at the group as he turned to Tuuba. “I guess Punk is really doing good back there!” The group stifled laughter as the Idimo raged.
    “That piece of shit, no good for nothing robot can’t do a lick of shit that’s worth a crap. Do you hear me, PUNK!?” A melancholy chirp came from the galley and a multi-armed droid whirred and clicked at him forlonely. “Don’t talk back to me you bucket of rusted bolts!” A spoon clanged off the robot and it made a pitiful noise.

    “They make such a cute couple. Hannah! Come join us, my love!” The Faeph move aside and patted a seat next to him with a grin.

    Davion smiled at Horkan. “Horkan, my man, how’s the biz?”

    The logistics specialist, Ralgadorr, leaned towards Godfrey as Hannah and Horkan settled in, “Will you tell the captain about the scrubber?”

    The young man shrugged as he cut into a piece of charred meat. “I think Jabber wasn’t wanting to, dunno what Gajeck is going to do.”

    “He better not, the captain’s been way too moody these past few days. He’s likely to put us all on emergency watch shifts.” Timmser frowned, his large, smooth Merion head shifting slightly. “He’s getting unstable.”

    Davion lowered his voice to conspiratorally levels. “I overheard him telling Kells to put the Mhawkons on full status. In the middle of a worm and he’s got the two toughs standing guard in the armory. What the hells is all that about?”

    Godfrey shrugged. “I want to know why we even hired the two Mhawkons. We’ve got Horkan and Saba for God’s sake. Why do we need even more?”

    “I’m telling you, we are running from something. Why the Sconce system? We can get more lucrative contracts operating closer to the sphere-edge of the Frontier, not all the way out here in wild space. I mean, this planet got settled like thirty years ago,” Shorach paused for dramatic effect. “Thirty years. It’s crazy.”

    The Martian human shrugged. “I don’t doubt hey-o!”

    Two tall female Faephs entered the door and looked about slyly. The twin sisters took passage on the last port of call, booking a flight to Tillamook. They were the only passengers that ate with the crew regularly and it wasn’t hard to see why. Davion and Shorach both leapt to their feet and almost began arm wrestling in their attempt to maneuver the two beautiful females to sitting near them. Shorach accidently smacked Ralgadorr and the Kizeran growled dangerously at him.

    “Ladies, ladies, I hope your sleep was most enjoyable. Are you getting used to these Frontier worms yet?” Davion had turned his full attention to them; his anitattoos shimmered and glowed brilliantly.
    One of them, either Jaz or Tish for no one could really tell them apart and few actually cared, smiled carefully. “A bit. It was better tonight.”

    “Oh really?” Shorach grinned and flattened his ears, some kind of Faeph body language. “These worms are so rough, you know. They are new and built much smaller than the higher-traffic worms in the Sphere.” Timmser rolled his huge Merion eyes, a habit he had picked up from his human co-workers. Godfrey studied his plate intently, finding something very interesting on it, glancing briefly and shyly at the new arrivals.

    “When Kista gets here with the bridge crew, don’t ask her about the worms though or you’ll hear a good ten minutes about that goddamn Waystranger.” Davion nodded in agreement at Shorach’s words.

    Tuuba slid plates in front of the girls, grumbling about extra workload and how he didn’t get paid enough for this and goddamn did they expect him to feed every vagrant that loads up onto this thing with that tiny kitchen and that miserable droid that does nothing and get in the way what did they think he was a miracle worker like bloody hell he’s just cook his life away I mean goddamn. A crash was heard in the kitchen with a metal note of despair. “Goddamnit, you Punk! You are trying to sabotage me! You activelty hate me and want to make my life torrid!” The Idimo’s rage nearly deafened the crew as he moved to the kitchen. Another whiny chirp came from the poor robot as Tuuba launched into a tirade.

    Davion flashed a smile at the two Faephs. “He’s such a sweet Prime, my dears.” Wooden spoon ringed on metal. Punk walked slowly past the galley door, carrying a mop and bucket as Tuuba followed, cursing and banging away on the robot with a large spatula.

    The rest of the crew carried on their conversation as Timmser and Ralgadorr ignored the two girls and the three young males attentiveness to them. Slowly, the rest of the crew filtered in…

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    Cynic JesterCynic Jester Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Horkan nodded at Davion as he moved in on the short edge of his table, moving the chair out of the way and sat down in the lotus, nestling the No-Dachi in his lap. Even sitting on the floor Horkan was still able to look most of the people around the table in the eye. "Glad I've got a thick skull" Horkan muttered as he tapped his forehead, a metallic clang echoing through the mess. "You need to take a look at the frame on the door outside my quarters again Godfrey, it got the worst of the collision." Grinning, Horkan leaned backwards and yelled into the kitchen for the usual. For someone more robot than man, Horkan had a ravenous appetite, and contrary to popular belief, the stuff he ate was perfectly normal food. "Anyone had any trouble with the two extras outside the armory tonight? Keep giving me the eye, those two."

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    Hi I'm Vee!Hi I'm Vee! Formerly VH; She/Her; Is an E X P E R I E N C E Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Gajeck grinned at his crewmate and clambered onto the desk. The engineering team on the Prodigal Son had learned quickly not to keep anything important on it, as Gajeck's favorite position was a strange cross-legged squat in the very center of the desk. He settled down and reached for his coffee. "Is boiling hot, yes?" he inquired, cocking an inquisitive eyebrow at Jabber in one of his favorite human expressions. He spoke in a heavy Russian accent, using somewhat broken Universal. He could, of course, speak perfect Universal, but his experiments with different dialects while with this crew had led him to the conclusion that they were most amused by the Russian one, so he had gotten into the habit of using it all the time. He dipped a finger into the mug, then nodded approvingly and took a sip. "Is very hot, Jabber never disappoint Gajeck with his coffee."

    "In regards with scrubber and not making with report, is okay for Gajeck." Gajeck nodded to himself and began stirring the coffee with his finger, seemingly oblivious to the extreme temperature of the liquid. "Gajeck often does not report problem, because usually problem is small and easy for fixing. On trip four years ago, Gajeck make lots of changes to ship, but little changes, help ship run better, yes? No reporting, just fixing. At next inspection, inspectors have much confusion, because so many small changes add up to some big changes, yes? Gajeck in big trouble for that one, but was okay because Gajeck make good changes and captain know Gajeck knows best!" Gajeck let loose with a hearty laugh, pounding the desk with his fist. He stopped abruptly and stared at the ceiling of the room, listening intently. With one fluid motion, he drained the coffee and leapt off the table, depositing the mug on the window ledge as he left the office.

    "Godfrey! With secondary scrubber, particulate control goes opposite of absorber tower! Is better because primary scrubbers run parallel to auxiliary precipitators!" Gajeck wandered back into the office. "Is good kid, but should listen to me more. But yes, no report is okay, I go check on alternator now." Gajeck left the office, mumbling to himself, "Why is finger hurting? There was no banging or spraining. Is like burn almost, but no fire..."

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    ArdentArdent Down UpsideRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Shaun groaned as his eyes opened to the sterile white glare of the medical bay. He reached for the bottle of water he knew was to his left on the counter, but missed and fell into an undignified heap on the floor between the bed and the counter, cursing in several languages to express his personal enmity for the floor. Sighing, he pushed himself to his feet and again reached onto the counter, this time for the bottle of whiskey instead of the bottle of water, and took a long draw off of it. The Captain abided his ratehr vile habits as long as he kept them safely out of view of the passengers, but most of the crew knew Shaun was an alcoholic. Long years of working as a homicide detective tend to make a mess of a man's mind, and Shaun's blue eyes had a dull sheen to them, like the soul had long gone out of them.

    He put down the whiskey bottle and inspected himself in the mirror. He'd need a shower, but first he needed energy. He debated shaving, but figured nobody'd say anything to him, since stubble was the norm for him. He managed to only stumble a couple of times on his way to the mess, putting on a front of sobriety for the sake of any passengers who might be watching. He stepped through the door into the bright environs of the mess, groaning somewhat involuntarily. "Morn', boys. Ladies," he said as he wandered toward the kitchen.

    Tuuba was working, and paid Shaun little mind as the blonde human foraged about for caloric stimulants. Shaun snagged a mug of black coffee from the prep counter as he exited, his trophies in hand. He smiled at the two Faeph passengers and nodded at the crew as he seated himself in a corner and began to eat.

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    ScooterScooter Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Cal was restless, like he always was while wormholing. There was nothing to do, other than monotonous checking up on ship systems and the like. He longed for the thrill of speed and hairpin maneuvers, and there'd be none of that for at least another day. Normally at least it meant some protection and ease of mind concerning certain authority figures, but he didn't expect that to be a problem on this job. The sooner he could get the resources together so he could stop playing bus driver the better...unless, of course, the job came up with some other perks...

    Cal walked into the mess, nodding to the assembled crowd as he looked for something resembling coffee. "Mornin', folks. I'm pleased to report the ship's course is steady and she's failed to break apart from wormhole turbulence for another day, so one more day and we should be out of here." He smiled at the passengers in general and the ladies in particular, adding "I hope the trip's not being too tiring for any of you, hardly a pleasure yacht, this. I know I'll be looking forward to having some...open space, again." Cal grimaced, thinking of the bubbly Kista. He didn't get along well with bubbly.

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    INeedNoSaltINeedNoSalt with blood on my teeth Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Hannah had huge eyes (for a human) and she did not blink often. She may as well have sank into her chair for all the presence she commanded at the table. She pulled her seat nearer the table and curiously examined the barren plate set in front of her and the mess of food set out. Born and raised on Mars, Hannah had learned to be picky. She reached over her plate and lifted a spoonful of peas from a bowl, dumped them on her plate, and sank back into her chair.

    She poked around at her plate with a fork, and then spoke, mostly mumbling. "Uh, turns out there was a, uh, virus. In the security system, specifically. Um. The recording feeds? So... we don't have any visual records of you guys from yesterday. So... if you were gonna do anything illegal. That would've been the time ..."

    Hannah yawns. "Anyway I was going through, uh, the feeds. You know. Just keeping an eye on things." She looks to Horkan and sinks just a bit further down. He didn't ever appreciate when Hannah picked around through the security data. "... So, uhm, anyway, that's taken care of. So don't do anything illegal, or, you know, raunchy? Because the cameras are back on. I'll try to let you guys know in advance next time we're gonna have system trouble."

    More than likely, nobody even heard her; she spoke mostly into her plate or her lap. She didn't even touch her peas.

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    Premier kakosPremier kakos Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited April 2008
    Father Gabriel sat in the reclined seat in the centre of the astrometrics lab, the dome of the room illuminated with a vast chart of the region. The faint buzz of static played over the lab's audio system, the white noise punctuated by random warbles of high frequencies. Father Gabriel's fingers were working at the input pad, feverishly punching in parameters and calculations, the observatory's stellar maps changing to fit the new data.

    The door to the lab opened with a hiss and the Captain stepped into the lab. "Do you hear them singing, Captain? The Cherubim?" The Captain was silent for a few brief moments before responding, "It sounds like static. Where do you think we are, Father?"

    She grinned inside of her vestments, "I know where we are. Do you know where we are?" She entered in a few more parameters to the simulation, the stellar map shifting once again. "I have plotted our course in the Sconce system. Once we drop out of the worm, it will get us to where we need to go as quickly as possible. I do wonder why we are going the Sconce system, as are many on the crew though they will not say so. Is there anything you can tell me?"

    "Not at the moment. You sent the navigation plan to the helm I assume?" the captain quickly said, changing the subject.

    Father Gabriel turned in the central chair, nodding her assent to the Captain. "Okay then. I'm going to need you on the bridge shortly. Finish up whatever you are doing here and meet me there."

    "Of course, Captain. I'm just finishing my daily devotional and I will be there after that in about ten teraticks." She swung the chair around again and returned to the bizarre ritual of worship of the Observers. The Captain turned and exited the astrometrics lab once again, leaving her in peace.

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    TalonrazorTalonrazor Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Davion slapped Cal on the arm as he walked by and laughed. “See ladies, gotta be careful with Kista. She’ll drive a man wild.” He winked at Cal as he said this. “If we could only talk half of Kista’s chattiness and give it to Hannah and half of Hannah’s quietness and give it to Kista, we’d be rolling in normal!”

    “Ah man, come on. Leave her alone,” Godfrey looked up at the Martian. Davion gazed at him a brief moment and turned back to the twins, launching into another story about the glory of Mars and the cyber-raves.
    Shorach grinned at Godfrey and nudged Hannah. “Nevermind him, darlin’, he’s just preoccupied. If you need help with the feeds, you just let me know, m’k?” The Faeph gave her a wink and turned back to the two females and immediately started to point out flaws in Davion’s story. Timmser and Ralgadorr ate silently, not interested in the conversation going on around them. Godfrey turned to Hannah and grinned shyly. “So, err, we’ve never heard your Martian stories. Surely you must have some that are as good as Farlance.”

    A few minutes went by and Saba, the main gunner on the ship, dropped into the hall. Sitting next to Horkan’s mass, he spooned a handful of food onto a plate and eyed the two Faephs.“Goddamnit, I see we are starting early this morning.” The Nivialian grumbled a bit. “Have you heard anything from the Captain yet about the two goons we have onboard?” He directed this question to Horkan. Ralgadorr shrugged at the Nivialian. “Scared, he is.”

    Eventually the crew collected in the mess hall, the noise and conversations bubbling. Kista arrived and instantly sat next to Shaun, talking a mile a minute, not caring if the human was listening or not. At a point, one of the Mhawkons gathered food without a word and left, carrying the trays to his clan member. As the meal died down, Jotac Kells, the First Mate and Jules Arshad, the Captain entered the hall. The twin Faeph excused themselves and left, knowing that passengers weren’t allowed at these crew meetings. The conversations died down as Jules stared into the galley quietly. Jotac cleared his throat.

    “Emulsion is expected in less than twenty-three hours. Cycles will be normal, but remember we’ll be all hands an hour out from emulsion. Firmamentie has prepped a system course, we’re looking at a flight time of about six days in-system. Wessiri, Kerja, make sure you’ve gone over that before emulsion; the plan is logged in your pearls. The captain has a few special conditions as well in regards to emulsion.”

    Jules was staring at Punk, silently and preoccupied. The mess hall became uneasily quiet. Jotac leaned towards the captain and murmured something. Jules suddenly became conscious of the crew gathered before him. “Hrrmm. Yes. Once we’ve left the worm, we’ll be on high alert for the next thirty-three hours. Full shifts on defensive stations, sensors on active. Hannah, I want you immersed and in the control box. Saba, Horkan, you’ll be on defensive stations,” Saba arched an eyebrow at Horkan, “and everyone else will be at their stations until we stand down. Understood? Good.”

    With that, Jules abruptly left the room. Jotac swept his eyes over the crew, a hard stare that indicated there would be no talking. “Several of you need to stay and assist Tuuba in prepping mess for the passenger meal. They eat soon. The rest, you know what needs to be done, so do it. The off cycle, make sure you have your sectional reports logged in the ASN for me to go over. That’s all.” The First Mate exited quickly.
    Tuuba resumed his grumbling as he prepped for the passengers. The rest of the crew begin to drift away slowly, the night cycle shift heading to enjoy a bit of relaxation or sleep while the day cycle moved to their stations. A few lingered in the mess hall, chatting or helping Tuuba clear away plates.

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    INeedNoSaltINeedNoSalt with blood on my teeth Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Hannah looked to Godfrey thoughtfully, not really staring (but it always looks like you're staring when you never blink.)

    She raised her eyebrows and offered a compelling insight: "Well, um ... did you know. Mars used to be red? And. Well; it isn't anymore." She laughed uncomfortably and returned her eyes to the mess of peas on her plate.

    Then she looked back up, taking in the people at the table, just a little bit each. Maybe they wouldn't think too much about her anecdote. Only one way to stop them; she chimed up (as much as she ever chimed, which is to say, she kind of mumbled and stuttered), "So, uhm. Do we know why, uh, we're on alert for, uh, thirty. Thirty-three? Hours?

    "I mean, after we're out of the wormhole, and uh, everything."

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    Cynic JesterCynic Jester Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Horkan shrugged as Saba raised his eyebrows, not entirely sure what to make of it. As people started to filter out, Horkan got up, put the chair back into place and started helping out with the heavier stuff, but he didn't seem to be very focused on the task, a grim smile clouding his features. Once there was nothing left to move around of his size, Horkan walked over to the door, shaking his head. Tapping the activator for his pearl, Horkan went over things in his head once more, trying to figure out just what was going on. He didn't mind a fight, he preferred to have it on his terms. As the Pearl interface popped up in his HUD, Horkan pictured Hannah and raised her. "Darling, could you please keep an eye on the armory and those two guarding it? The captain is expecting trouble, so I have to as well. Also, you should be expecting trouble as well. If someone is planning to take us out, could be they're going to try hitting us Hiveside. And good work getting the cameras back up and running so fast."

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    INeedNoSaltINeedNoSalt with blood on my teeth Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Horkan got his response in the form of a tell that opened up into somber white-text-on-black. It said:

    "ya ya you know i know what im doing ok"

    Back in the mess, Hannah was finally bringing herself to eat her peas. She didn't eat much, but she didn't really want to deal with hunger pains. She'd learned the hard way after spending more than a day immersed; hunger pains are not enjoyable.

    She mumbled under her breath about peas, and then (as if through great effort) pressed her spoon down onto her plate, leaving a green mush beneath it.

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    Premier kakosPremier kakos Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited April 2008
    High alert for the next thirty-three hours. Gabriel frowned internally, hoping that the trip would have lasted a little bit longer without trouble. She pulled up the interface to her Pearl and summoned up the alternative navigation courses she had plotted in addition to the one she had already logged into the ASN. It was a navigation route for just such an occasion, one which she would have given to the Captain in the first place if he had been more open about the exact parameters of their destination. She grumbled something very softly and in Latin to herself.

    As Jules left, she silently looked over the plans from inside the overly sophisticated optical display systems of her vestments, double-checking her work for accuracy. She stood up and looked at the rest of the crew, "If you will excuse me, I must speak with the Captain. Bless you, my children." She nodded her head humbly to everyone and quickly moved out of the mess to catch up with the Captain.

    Moving hurriedly through the corridors of the ship, she caught up to the Captain's own brisk pace. She slowed down to match his pace and begin to speak to him, "I plotted an extra route that will take us slightly longer but will keep us safer. If you had told me I should be expecting trouble in the first place, I could probably have made it better, but it is still pretty good."

    The Captain stopped, quirking a brow, his face twisting in exasperation and annoyance at the presumption of the Vatican navigator. He looked at her, speaking calmly and cooly, "You were told what you needed to know." He sighed slightly and paused in thought, "Though, I do appreciate your initiative. What do you got?"

    She brushed off his curt and patronising reply and simply responded to his second query, "The worm will drop us out near the planet's fourth planet, a large gas giant. If we go in towards that planet hot, almost skimming the atmosphere, we'll be in the shadow of the planet and we'll be very hard to detect for any sensors. From there, we'll be flung high above the plane of the solar system in a high barycentric polar orbit. We'll burn our engines nearly constantly from 20° to -20° off apsis. Since we'll largely be pretty far above the plane during this period, it's unlikely we'll be spotted as most sensors simply sweep along the solar plane. After this, we'll reach the third planet, another gas giant, which we'll use to brake our trajectory and fling us toward our final destination."

    "All together, the route will add about a hundred teraticks or a little under two Earth hours to our journey. However, 90% of our journey using this route will either be in the sensor shadow of a gas giant or far above the planet." As she finished off her report, she opened up the interface to her Pearl and forwarded the planet to his inbox on the ASN. "It's in your inbox for your review." She nodded formally to him and waited to be dismissed.

    The Captain nodded to her, "I'll look over it as soon as I get a chance. Dismissed." She relaxed a bit and took her leave, heading towards the astrometrics lab.

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    ArdentArdent Down UpsideRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Shaun glanced over at Kista, trying to bring her pretty face into focus, but her rapidfire chattering was wreaking hell on his already overloaded nervous system and he settled for a somewhat fuzzy picture. "That's great, Kista," he replies absently to a semi-rhetorical question the Landskraedi had posed. Aside from her incessant prattling, Kista was a good friend, one of the few Shaun actually still had. She was also non-judgmental about his love affair with the bottle, which was a plus in his book.

    She dropped a few more semi-rhetoricals on him and he grunted out responses. Then she asked the usual question, "Whatcha doin' after meal prep?" He smirked, replied evenly as always, "Cleanin' and prepin' medbay, 'course. Care t'help?" It was a bit of routine of theirs; Shaun abided Kista's chattering and she abided his alcohol, and they got along. She chirped her agreement, and launched back into a one-sided discussion on the nature of shoe fashion in the IU worlds. Shaun finished his breakfast and downed the rest of his coffee, glancing over at Kista who'd barely touched hers. "Need anythin', Kis?" She shook her head no in the middle of a sentence and continued her commentary on the benefits of high-heeled boots without missing a beat.

    Shaun cleared his place, grabbed another mug of coffee and returned to his seat while Kista finished poking at her food. When Tuuba had had enough of their sitting about lazily, he'd tell them what to do. Until then Shaun nursed his hangover and tried to look forward to later on in the day when he'd be closer to sober.

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    Hi I'm Vee!Hi I'm Vee! Formerly VH; She/Her; Is an E X P E R I E N C E Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Gajeck burst into the mess hall, sticking his burned finger in the air imperiously. "Do not be leaving finger in coffee!" he proclaimed. Leaning over slightly, he lowered his voice conspiratorially. "It burns finger." He helped himself to a mug of coffee and made his way over to where Godfrey was sitting with Hannah. He quickly picked up Godfrey's intentions, and with an exaggerated wink to the young man, placed himself near Hannah's shoulder. "This kid, is good kid! He fix scrubbers like nobody else, except only Gajeck!" Slapping Godfrey on the back, he whispered at Hannah loudly, "Is very good with hands, yes? You understand, good with hands?" He winked suggestively at Hannah several times, then grinned at Godfrey, ignoring the man's despairing look. He took a sip of coffee and promptly sprayed it all over Godfrey's face. "Bah, this coffee is terrible! Is not Jabber coffee, no good!" His attention diverted, he left Godfey to wipe his face and apologize profusely to Hannah for Gajeck's behavior.

    Gajeck plopped himself down across the table from Kista and Shaun and sighed heavily. He took in a few brief seconds of Kista's shoe diatribe before interrupting loudly. "Bah! Human shoes...so ridiculous. Is crazy, with huge heels, makes no sense! No comfort for women, is silly." Gajeck had earned the dubious distinction of being the single person on the ship who could out-talk Kista. "Had passenger in old job, old lady who try to sell Gajeck shoes. Human shoes! So silly, this lady. Gajeck buy because lady was nice, but could only take two bites before throwing away." Kista burst into laughter before getting up to refill her coffee, chuckling to herself as she made her way to the coffee station. Gajeck took the opportunity to shove his burned finger into Shaun's face. "Perhaps you take look at finger? Gajeck have training in medic workings, but should always get second opinion, yes?"

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    TalonrazorTalonrazor Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    The passengers drifted in one by one to the main dining table as some of the crew loitered in the mess hall. The Breken family was first to arrive, the two young children clamoring around the table, loud and noisy. The female held a baby in her arms and cooed to it in the Breken tongue while the father tried to keep the other children still. The Bennerans were next, the young Colonial Marine and his Bacallian wife with their adopted baby. The Hive architect came right behind, wearing his nice Inner Sphere suit. He didn’t say much and sat down quietly away from the rest of the group. The two Intersolar Union port workers arrived shortly, chattering away in German.

    A youth entered, wearing light-tinted shades and a shimmer-necklace that dazzled and alternated colors. A tank-top was stretched over his slim frame and on it was a picture of a globe with a zig-zag line down it. Words above and below the image said “CENTRALISM, DEATH BY A THOUSAND CUTS”. As soon as the youth walked in, the two IU men rolled their eyes and turned. The young man took a seat next to the young Colonial Marine. “What’s up my man? How goes it, Larson?”

    The young man grinned at the Marine and responded. “Not much Greg. Sleeping the sleep, you know, bra? Dreaming of life on the simple world.”

    The Marine nodded and glanced at the two IU men. “I hear ya. I’m glad I got transferred out there, no more Covenant regulations or bullshit crackdowns. Freedom.” The two IU workers muttered something to each other in German. The male Breken leaned forward.

    “Is it true that there is no central control in human fringe worlds? We’ve never lived past the Border Worlds before,” He spoke in clear Universal as the female Breken shushed a squirming child.

    Greg shrugged, replying in English. “Sure, Jalle. There isn’t a lot of governmental control on Tillamook. It’s just a Colonial Territory. I guess the commies own a good chunk, we own another good chunk and the rest is private corp. holdings, homesteads or a part of that newly developing independent state. Whatever it’s called."

    The architect spoke quietly. “Angoria."

    “Yea, sure, whatever. Bunch of weird fringers forming their own nation, whatever. All I care about is no CE.”

    One of the port workers scoffed in un-accented English. “Sure, no civilization or help. Just pure machismo law.”

    The youth, Larson, shot a dirty look at the men. “Yea, that’s right. No bullshit unification, no fucking suits telling you what to do, no quasi-legal system trying to tell my own government what’s their business.”
    The port worker dismissed him with a wave. “You decentralists are just a bunch of sensationalists, just like that damn shirt of yours. Stupid Colonial talk.”

    Greg leaned forward. “Hey, fuck you man. Unificationists just want to see a central state that can control all of humanity through the goddamn megacorps. Covenant Earth is a crock.”

    The architect shook his head. “Are you sure? You want the Collective to surpass us? You want the Dynasty to roll over us? Accept it; unification is the way to survival in the galaxy. If humanity keeps splintering and we keep allowing these Independent Worlds to thrive, we are going to be a second-rate species.”

    One of the workers shook his massive head with short cropped blond hair. “Mr. Frohman understands it. What if we don’t unify? You want to gobbled up the next time we have goddamn war? The Colonials already brought us the Senbu Wars, you want some huge humanity-wide civil war too?”

    The architect steepled his hands together. “Ignoring the threats of violence, if we continue in our decentralist mentality, what is to stop us being slowly assimilated by the Collective over the next hundred years? No offense to you, Tel Jalle Brok, but I do not want to end up in the massive maw of the Collective.”

    Larson spoke heatedly, swinging his arms wildly. “Man, look, even the goddamn Collective has problems. No all the agnatus buy the bullshit of assimilation, look at the Nivalians.” He pointed at Saba, who was looking on with interest. “The Svali is becoming more and more independent.”

    “The kid’s partially right.” Saba shrugged, “The Nine Stars have longed been more independent of the Collective then most entities but it’s been getting more so over the past few years.”

    “Yea!” Larson was in full swing, “The Fringe works just fine. They’ve got the Border Legion, a contractual army, and the traders and freelancers have their Assembly. Each captain gets one vote, gets to decide on things. That’s a non-government enforced union, formed out of need. They survive in Wild Space. We don’t need these socialist unificationists to tell us what’s what. If you love your goddamn Covenant so much, go join the fucking People’s Republic.”

    The two IU workers stood. “Fuck you, you Colonial backworld hick. So typical, you Colonials think all you need is yourselves and your goddamn military.” He pointed at the Marine. “Don’t you have some fucking robots to kill or something?”

    Larson was the first one over the table, Greg close behind. One of the Breken kids screamed as plates and glasses scattered, the four humans colliding….

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    Cynic JesterCynic Jester Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Horkan was sitting in his "office", a small room on the same hallway as the armory, going over the nights security reports, when his HUD lit up, indicating a disturbance in the mess. "Son of a bitch. We haven't even hit emulsion yet." Clearing the reports from his HUD, Horkan grabbed his sword and walking out into the hallway. Glancing at the two Mhawkons down the hall, Horkan stopped and pointed at the armory. "You two. Lock down the armory. Nobody goes in or out without me or the captain giving the say-so." Turning the other way, Horkan sped up and started towards the mess. As his heavy footsteps echoed through the ship, Horkan contacted Saba to check if he was en-route, then relaying a request for information across the pearl network. "As if we didn't have enough to deal with already," he muttered as he closed in on the mess hall, a grim look on his face.

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    Hi I'm Vee!Hi I'm Vee! Formerly VH; She/Her; Is an E X P E R I E N C E Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    With his finger problem garnering no action from Shaun, Gajeck withdrew it from the man's face and stared at it speculatively. "Gajeck think finger burned from coffee, but maybe other things too. Gajeck use fingers always in fixing, so maybe electric spark." As the commotion broke out nearby, he sniffed his finger, and then poked at it inquisitively. "Gajeck still have feeling in finger, but pain not so bad. Is good or bad that Gajeck not feel pain in finger now?" He casually leaned backwards in his chair as one of the port workers went sliding backwards down the table, reeling from a heavy punch thrown by the marine. Returning his seat to the upright position, he nodded with finality and stood. "Gajeck will run finger under cold water. Is good for burns, but hopefully not too late." Blowing on his finger, he skirted the edges of the melee and made his way to the kitchen in hopes of finding an available sink.

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    INeedNoSaltINeedNoSalt with blood on my teeth Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Hannah hadn't even finished her plate (her plate of nothing but peas) and then all of a sudden people are flying over tables and -- so she tried to get their attention, mumbling something like, "Uhm, excuse me," but it didn't seem to do much. So she gave that up. Instead, she wrote a mass tell to all of the passengers on board.

    This is what it said:

    "Reminder: Any damage to the Prodigal Son's architecture or property will be directly deducted from the vandal's account.

    Harm caused to Prodigal Son personnel, employed or otherwise, will be fined (penalty varies, please see your contract for details.)

    All medical expenses incurred by Prodigal Son passengers will be charged directly to the account of the passenger in question. Please contact your insurance provider if you have any concerns."

    Hannah didn't leave her seat, and watched the proceedings carry on with very mild interest.

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    ArdentArdent Down UpsideRegistered User regular
    edited May 2008
    With his finger problem garnering no action from Shaun, Gajeck withdrew it from the man's face and stared at it speculatively. "Gajeck think finger burned from coffee, but maybe other things too. Gajeck use fingers always in fixing, so maybe electric spark."
    Shaun vaguely listened to Gajeck's rambling as he watched the passengers spat erupt. He nodded at Gajeck and said "From what I know about your physiology, you should be fine; just run some warm water over it a few times today." He said as he stood unceremoniously, and went into the kitchen. He returned with a pitcher of ice water and some glasses and began to make his way into the commotion.

    Shaun wasn't security, strictly speaking, but he was a doctor, and he did know how to defend himself. If he could sort the situation before the boys arrived, the passengers would have an easier time of it. "Listen, fellas, it's a rough galaxy out there. Trust me. I fought in the Third Battle of Tillamook; it's a rough world. Lot of real tough, independent types who don't take kindly to IU soldiers mucking about. Gotta respect that kind of backbone. But those folks know they need the spacelanes to stay open; they can't support themselves yet." He began placing glasses and pouring water, carefully weaving through the group. "Now I'd be real appreciative if you folks didn't make me work too hard today, eh?" He turned to the IU workers and said, "Wissen sie sind, sie nicht jung, was es wie aus dort ist." He glanced at the Marine and his buddy, "As for you, you ought to know better, Marine! Straighten up, stay icy, don't let them break your cool. Oorah?"

    "Now then, who needs something?"

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    Premier kakosPremier kakos Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2008
    Father Gabriel walked down the halls, a brief rumble in her stomach letting her know that she had been working nearly twenty four hours without food or sleep, most importantly without food. She came to the junction in the ship's corridors, the astrometrics lab to the left and the mess hall to the right. She stood there, the silent hum of the ship at work providing background noise to the thoughts. Even the most important obsessions must take a break for food. Get some food, Gabriel, and then head back to work.

    She turned to the right and began to head towards the mess hall. As the mess hall doors slid open, the scene she was greeted by was one of chaos, four humans tussling with each other in the mess hall. "Never a dull moment, eh, Beatrice?" Beatrice, her vestments' Agent, a Passable Intelligence built into the vestments, responded to her voice, "Command not understood." She laughed lightly, "Of course not." The PI responded once more, "If you call for me, please input a proper command."

    Gabriel moved over the fight quickly, each of her arms grabbing on to one of the brawlers. She yanked them backwards and up, the suit enhancing her strength to unexpected levels. She pulled the two men away from the fight and held them aloft on each side, both of them struggling against her grip.

    "My children, please stop this needless fighting. We are all brothers, though we may have our differences. Certainly we can come to a less violent resolution to this disagreement?"

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    INeedNoSaltINeedNoSalt with blood on my teeth Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Hannah pushed her chair a bit away from the table. "You uh. I wouldn't do that. You're not security."

    More assertively, she added, "They could sue."

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    Premier kakosPremier kakos Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2008
    Gabriel looked at Hannah, the quiet girl who was addressing her. Still holding the two men up in the air, she quirked a brow a bit. She shrugged lightly, seeming unfazed by the possibility of a law suit.

    "They could sue, sure. And they would lose. The Catholic Church's legal counsel is rock solid. Remember that we've weathered centuries of frivolous law suits of all manner. I don't think the Intersolar Union would engage in a lengthy lawsuit with the Vatican over two port workers who got in brawl in a ship's mess." she explained nonchalantly to Hannah, continuing to hold the two men in the air with no indication of tiring.

    The two men had calmed their struggles, realising that it was getting nowhere. Gabriel looked at the two of them in the air and the other two that she hadn't picked up, "Now, you four are calmer, yes?" She looked at the two in the air, addressing them directly, "If I put you down, will I have to do this again? If I do, I may actually give the Intersolar Union a reason to sue."

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    INeedNoSaltINeedNoSalt with blood on my teeth Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Hannah rolled her eyes and sent a tell; Jules could deal with this. Hannah'd told him it was a stupid idea to bring a holy woman on board.

    Thus, it read: "your stupid preacher is violencing our customers we have contracts you know mr arshad and you will recall that we guarantee safety while on board our vessels and furthermore i will not have my share deducted if lady god here breaks the rules"

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    TalonrazorTalonrazor Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Prologue

    When he was ten years old he obtained optronic recordings of one of his schoolmates stealing from a local store and then blackmailed the boy into buying the recordings. When he was twelve he had a file of information on all of his peers; their secrets, potential weakness, possible exploitations. After spreading gossip about him, a classmate suffered a fall down some stairs, shattering the boy’s jaw. Two days later, the classmate’s parents were transferred off planet.

    He stood exactly six feet, four inches. Every morning, just when the sun would finish rising over the Vespuccian horizon, he would sip a cup of hot tea in the same black and white checkered mug with exactly three crackers on a small white plate. His left knee had been replaced twice, once when he fell from dismounting a horse on the Frontier and another when a grenade almost tore his leg off. When he spoke, he had a habit of leaning forward with his hands in his pockets, as if he was constantly instructing you in wondrous secrets. The smile on his face pulled up and stretched out, trying to convince you of its utter sincerity. He often punctuated his speech with long pauses in which he would study a man’s face while he worked his lips soundlessly. Aggressive regrowth therapy hid the holes of a needler in his right arm and hand.

    He had a tendency to stare into space for long periods of time, as if he was contemplating the very universe around him and all its wonders. He had committed over two dozen murders. He was wanted for kidnapping, piracy, extortion, conspiracy to commit larceny, conspiracy to commit terroristic actions. He was an excellent ballroom dancer. He carried a great disdain for all of humanity. Upon meeting him, many are impressed by his chivalry, his poise and his quiet enthusiastic self-confidence. He had fathered three children. None of them had ever met him.

    Once a year, he would have dinner with his brother’s family. They would play poker late into the night, drink too much, reminisce about their childhood and fight once or twice. He would confide in his brother afterwards things he didn’t even know he knew about himself. The next morning, he would kiss his nephews and nieces goodbye, his moustache tickling their cheeks. His ship would be in orbit, waiting. The crew knew his walk; the limp from a badly planted cybernetic joint. They knew his tall, thin frame. They knew his withering comments and rage at incompetence. They knew the flask he always kept in his inner coat pocket. In 2225, Daniel Hunt was thirty-nine years old.

    The Prodigal Son’s emulsion bell rang twice and the smooth automated voice chimed quietly. The ship had been prepared for emulsion, the entire crew at their stations. The bridge was quiet save for the occasional bell toll and the crackling of fingers hitting the smooth plates on which the controls were projected. The captain stood behind the pilot deck, hands tightly grasping the railing. After a moment, Kista called out.

    “Two minutes to mark. Standby for recalibration."

    Father Gabriel sat in the navigator’s station, eyes closed. “Pushing recalibration, worm aligned.”

    “One minute to mark. Call it out.”

    Shorach leaned over in his seat. “Sensors clear.”

    Hannah’s voice came in over the intercom, her body strapped down with an i-hardline leading away from her arm. “Flight systems clear.”

    “Communications clear.” Timmser gave everyone a thumbs up.

    Davion’s voice was muffled a bit. “Electronics clear.” He closed his eyes and gripped a sickness bag tightly.

    “Engineering clear.” Jabber’s voice squawked into the bridge.

    Horkan’s Pearl dumped his message, “Crew and passengers cleared and checked.”

    “Cargo cleared and checked,” the gruff Kizeran said from the main hold.

    Kista leaned back. “Captain, cross-check complete. The crew is ready to complete the worm.”

    Arshad released the railing and grasped his trembling hands behind his back. “Cross-check confirmed. Navigator, do we have a ride?”

    Gabriel’s fingers slid across the smooth controls. “Oscillation at 2.3 degrees, we have disintegration at moderate intervals. Corrections being made. GAPTRAN emulsion coordinates Trotter Four Oh Two One are ready. Navigation has worm dialed. Calibration is ready.”

    "Calibration check confirmed. Here we go, ladies and gentlemen, let's start our ride. Helm, you have the ball." Arshad exhaled and stared straight ahead.

    Cal nodded. “I have the ball. Thirty seconds to end.”

    The lights and display of the wormhole became more frantic now, the swirling patterns dancing and racing over the tunnel. Flashes of light became prominent. Pressure began to build on the crew, not physical but mental pressure. Images started to leap in their minds, suppressed things or memories of long ago, voices unheard for years.

    “The worm’s bucking,” Cal said.

    “I see it,” Gabriel’s voice was tense as she worked.

    Kista started to call out, her voice strained as the wormhole drew to a close. “Ten seconds to mark.”

    Davion gripped his control panel tightly, his face beaded with sweat, his eyes clenched. “I hate this part,” he grunted through gritted teeth.

    “Nine.”
    “Watch it Cal, we’re drifting.”
    “Eight.”
    “Worm movement! Ten Oh Three Four. Redial.”
    “Seven.”
    “Recalibrated.”
    “Six.”
    “Cal, keep us in the center or I can’t get a hold of the worm.”
    “I’ve got it! Just redial it in!”
    “Five.”
    “Gabriel, we’re losing it! Redial!”
    “Four.”
    “I’ve got it, Cal, hold us steady.”
    “Three.”
    “Gabe….”
    “Two.”
    “Steady!”
    “One.”
    “Redialed, we’ve got it!”
    “Emulsion at my mark, hang on!”

    The ship expanded and for a moment everything slid away from the crew as horrific patterns of colors exploded before their eyes. Random memories were snatched from their minds and played out. A mixture of memories, sounds, colors and patterns swirled together to form a bizarre, hypnotic tapestry that seemed to last forever and yet existed for just a moment. A terrifying screech ripped through the ship and just as it had all started, it was over. The ship snapped back into place, minds cleared and everyone stared through the bridge windows at the giant cylinder they were in. Flashing lights led them to the end of the gate. Davion instantly threw up in his bag.

    “Goddamnit, I hate Fringer wormholes.”

    Kista held her head with one hand. “That was a bad ride.”

    “Prodigal Son, please transmit emulsion log. Sorry for the rough landing, we had to re-vector the worm. We have been having problems keeping it stable.”

    Timmser worked on relaying their arrival logs as Cal guided them out of the gate. Arshad stood at the sensor station, watching reports scroll across the globe that constituted the ship’s sensory range.

    “You are cleared, Prodigal. We are going to have to ask you to leave Transit space as soon as possible, we’ve got another worm incoming. Busy day.”

    Arshad went white for a moment. “Another worm? Timmser, verify that.”

    “That’s correct, Prodigal. A vessel ordered a worm right after your ship so we need clearance to bring them in. Have a safe journey. Transit Authority out.”

    Arshad pulled on his beard frantically. He grabbed the railing and almost shouted at Cal. “Helm, flank speed now! We rush to Tillamook! Timmser, raise whoever you can on Tillamook and declare an emergency. Horkan, set Condition Red and arm all weapons. Get Saba on the guns! Prep for combat! Now!”

    Kista stared at Cal while the captain barked out orders and mouthed a question at him. The captain turned to Shorach and grabbed his shoulder wildly. “What do you see?”

    “Captain, what is goin-“

    “What do you see?”

    Shorach span the trid display of the globe around, symbols representing the GAPTRAN gate and nearby planetary bodies. “Nothing, sir. We’re the only ones out here for klicks.”

    Arshad stared at the globe, slowly relaxing. Suddenly, a symbol popped up next to the gate. Shorach spoke slowly. “Wait… strike my last… a vessel just emerged from the gate… it’s IDing as the Fool’s Blood.” Arshad kept staring into the globe, eyes wide, unmoving.

    Timmser locked eyes with Cal as he spoke in a careful voice. “We are being hailed, Captain. It’s a direct link.”

    Jotac moved slowly to Arshad. “Sir, we need to respond…” Arshad didn’t move. “Sir? Sir, we have to respond.”

    Timmser cleared his throat. “They are being insistent…”

    “Open the link, Timmser,” Jotac barked as he stood next to Arshad.

    The voice played was commanding, a voice that had no patience. “Crew of the Prodigal Son, pay close attention. Power down your entire ship and move to the port airlock. Our vessel will dock and board you. We have no interest in harming any of the crew if you comply with our wishes. This vessel is faster, well-armed and armored and has a larger crew. Do not fool yourselves into thinking that you stand a chance against us. Do not prolong the invetiable. If you, the crew of the Prodigal, help us with our one goal, our only concern, than no harm will come to you. We only want one thing. We want the captain of the Prodigal Son. We want Jules Arshad.”

    The link went did. Jotac turned to Timmser. “Did that just play over the entire ship?”

    Timmser looked around the bridge for support, “It was a direct link, it… it opened up its own channels. You… you said to open-“

    “Fight.” Arshad’s voice was barely above a whisper. Jotac turned to him. “What, sir?”

    Arshad suddenly moved, tearing away from Jotac and moving to the center of the bridge. “We fight and make a run for it. Flank speed towards Tillamook, get Gajeck to increase our speed. Horkan, get the Mawhkons ready to repel boarders. Kista, get down to Engineering and help them. Timmser, cut the link. Hannah, throw out a net and give us some protection against slicing.”

    No one moved. Arshad’s panicked eyes moved from one crew to the next. Shorach broke the silence. “Sir… every weapon the Fool’s Blood carries can punch through our hull like it was paper. They are already deploying sweeps and Pirouette missiles, I’m reading targeting information on communications and engines. They… they are much faster than us…”

    Timmser joined in. “The only other ship nearby that could help is a Border Legion gunship but its three days out. And that’s if they head straight towards us, now, at flank speed while we head straight towards them at flank speed. We… we might want to liste-“

    Arshad’s hand caught Timmser across his face. “NO! You withering fool! We can’t let them get to us! Mr. Kells! This crew is being mutinous! You will order Timmser and Shorach to clear this bridge, now!” Jotac slowly pulled out his weapon and leveled it towards the communications officer.

    Arshad turned back to the rest of the crew. “Fire everything we have at them and RUN!”

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    TalonrazorTalonrazor Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    In a few minutes, it was over. Most of the crew had been hit by taggers, small darts that instantly trigged horrible stomach cramping and vomiting. They also relayed DNA information to small computers in the pistols, letting the firer know who the target was that he had hit. In twenty minutes, the mercs had stormed the ship and rounded everyone up. The captain had been hit three times by taggers before he stopped running. All the passengers and crew was lined up against the walls of the cargo container, hands clasped in handcuffs. The children were crying, parents trying to console them while a dozen mercenaries stood around, clasping their tagger pistols. They all wore cloth masks over their faces.

    Finally, three more beings entered the container. The first was a human male with a horribly scarred face. A large scar went across his head, which had been crudely shaved with tufts of hair here and there. The second was another human male dressed in fine splendor, with bright and vibrant clothing and an outlandish scarf wrapped around his neck. The third was a Pirakha, a tall, thick being with a large horn on top of his head. Godfrey sucked in his breath and leaned close to Cal. “That’s Deathhead, Billy the Beautiful and Little Brick. What the hell are the three of them doing here?”

    The fourth man entered. He was a human male, tall and wiry thin. It was obvious he was a Vespuccian, for he was dressed in the standard fashion of Chap accouterments. He had a handlebar mustache and a slight limp when he walked. He entered the room and leaned forward slightly, hands clasped behind his back. “Good afternoon, fair people.” He spoke plainly and clearly. “I am Daniel Hunt. I’ve come halfway across this galaxy to speak with your captain. I shan’t be but a minute and then you may all go back to whatever it was you were doing.” He looked from one being to the next with a slight smile, leaning forward as if it was the most natural thing in the world to trust him. “I am sorry,” he paused here for a moment, his lips moving in a soundless smile, “for the inconvenience you’ve experienced here tonight.”

    Daniel stood next to Jules, staring at the bound man the way one would contemplate a complex piece of art. Time slowed, the air stilled. The moment seemed to stretch into infinity. Sounds seemed amplified and no one dared make a noise. Tension poured off of the bound captain in great sheets that filled and sloshed in the corridor.

    “Tell me, Arshad, what is it that you want? What is it that drives you? Is it glory, hmm? That pursuit for recognition by all of sentience, to be lofted by the collective minds of the Uninet. Is it power? Do you want to control the fate and lives of men? Is that what compels you? Is it more material, the demanding mistress of wealth and goods? What is it that you want?”

    “You see, Jules, I am a businessman. I sell products and services at a price that benefits my associates and I. I believe in customer service and guarantee the quality of the thing in which I am selling. I have capital, the Fool’s Blood and employees, my men. I am the best in the industry, able to offer my clients deals that no others can offer. And as a businessman, I must offer services that are better than the competition at prices that are lower. This is the way this works; this is the way it always works. Now, here, Jules, is where I wonder your role. Are you trying to enter this industry yourself? Because if you are, then you become my competitor and as a businessman I must eliminate the competition. Or are you trying to steal from me, take something away from my business?”

    Jules broke down utterly, sobbing now. “Please, Daniel, please. I didn’t… I didn’t mean…. I was stupid… spare me Daniel…”

    “Did you think you could beat me, you boy? Did you think you could play my game, you stupid thing? You look very foolish now, don’t you? Yes you do. Yes you do.”

    “Yes I do Daniel. I am…. I am a fool Daniel…”

    Daniel suddenly blurred and the sharp crack of the slap echoed throughout the chamber. “A fool, boy! You insolent wretch!” And with that, he turned away. His back to Jules, he nodded at the man with the scarred face.

    The man stepped towards Jules, who was weeping violently and crying out for mercy. The man lowered the pistol with the bulbous, flared nozzle. It made a heavy noise, like a dense object falling onto metal plating. Jules head separated, turning into hundreds of fleshy, meaty pieces that leaped away from the area of his body like an expanding globe of gore and fluids. His chest was ripped in two as if torn apart by powerful invisible hands. The massive gash ran down his neck and into his abdomen, the two halves of the body twisting away from the waist where they were joined. “No! You bastar-“ Jotac leaped to his feet and the top half of his skull erupted and splattered everyone. The scarred man, emotionless, holstered his weapon as the first mate crumpled to the ground.

    Daniel turned back around. “It’s finished. Everyone here has two options. The first to stay aboard this ship. The life-support system will last for another two weeks. The rescue shuttle, which is already on its way here, will be here in three days. All you have to do is sit and wait.” He grinned at everyone. “Or, or if you are bored or out of a job or perhaps looking for something more exciting than sitting here waiting transportation to a dirty world, there is something much more rewarding. Sign up with me. My contracts last for only a standard year and the pay is good. The work is hard, mind you, and often dangerous but my men lack nothing and I treat them right.

    “You may sign on with other individuals who offer promises but they don’t know business like me. I am fixed in this business like no other; I know where the big shows will be and how to withdraw our ample due. If you sign on with me, you are guaranteed success. I will wait five minutes, and then depart this vessel. My crew has already unloaded food and water for three days. The freighter is insured and bonded, you will all receive a sum of money from the company in a weeks’ time, enough to pay for a trip off of Tillamook to a nice place plus the entire fee you paid to be on this vessel. For the crew, you’ll receive six months of standard pay from the insurance company, a nice little bundle. There is no reason for hostility here; I am being a reasonable man.”

    He fell silent and stared at the crew in a contemplating nature. Finally, one stood. “I’ll join,” Saba said, with a quick glance at Horkan. “I was planning to merc out a few months after I was done with Jules.” The two Mhawkons also stood up and said nothing. Daniel nodded, with a slight smile. Shorach and Timmser rose to their feet. “Yea, we’ll sign on.” The young, loud Colonial male passenger sighed and rose. “My name’s Larson. I need a place to run to, I might as well run with you.”

    Daniel nodded again. “Well, if anyone else would like to sign on, just let me know.” He moved off, paused and turned towards Frohman. “I thank the Society for not getting involved.” Frohman shrugged at Daniel. Daniel and the others begin to withdraw from the container…

    Talonrazor on
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    TalonrazorTalonrazor Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    The First Chapter
    Gabriel turns to look at the Captain, pulling her visor up to expose her face, "Captain, why exactly do they want you?"
    <Galaxymaster> Arshad snapped his head to Gabriel, his wide, open eyes seeming to not register her presence. "Irrelevant, Navigator." Jotac spoke to her while keeping the gun on Timmser and Shorach. "You have recieved orders from your commanding officer."
    * Cal_Kerja kept his hands off the controls for the moment. They felt a bit like a trigger aimed at his head at the moment.
    <Cal_Kerja> "With all due respect, cap'n...I think you won't like the results of running any more than the rest of us."
    <Galaxymaster> Meanwhile, down below, Shaun gazed at the readouts his medical unit gave him as it scanned one of the Breken kids. The Breken male stood near him. "What is happening? Are we under attack?" The readout cleared the Breken of any damage during emulsion besides a horrible headache.
    * Gabriel shakes her head at Jotac, "It isn't irrelevant. This isn't in my contract. While I am not opposed to following this order, I need to make sure that doing so would not be opposed to the interests of the Papacy. So again, why are they after you?"
    <Cal_Kerja> "Perhaps we would do better do prepare for their boarding team. We know their ships is superior to ours, we don't know that for a fact about their men. Well, there's a chance. Small chance."
    <Galaxymaster> The captain's knucles were white from his grip on the railing. "Horkan," he croaked. "Send the Mhawkons up to the bridge at once." His pearl relayed the message to Horkan's. He turned to Cal. "We need to get as close to Tillamook as possible. So we can hold out as short as possible."
    <Horkan> Horkan picked his sword up from the table and walked out into the Hallway where the Mawhkons were guarding the armory. "Open her up and arm yourselves. Prepare to repel boarders. No heavy duty gear, we don't". The message on the pearl came through mid sentence. "Scratch that. Captain wants you on the bridge."
    * Cal_Kerja considered that the captain was holding a gun, and for the moment did still pay his checks.
    <Shaun> Shaun glanced up from his work to address the adult Breken. "There is a distinct possibility, sir, but I need to complete these checks before I try to move you all somewhere safer." He patted the young Breken on the shoulder, before speaking loudly enough for the rest of the area to hear him. "I'm armed, and I know how to handle my weapon. The rest of our security team is likely preparing to repel boarders in the event they catch us."
    <Cal_Kerja> "Alright, cap'n. I hope there's something at Tillamook for us..."
    * Cal_Kerja takes ahold of the controls again, and floors it towards Tillamook, muttering a combined curse and prayer under his breath.
    <Galaxymaster> "Fuck that." Davion climbed to his feet, vomit clinging to the stubble on his chin. "I'm not getting shot up for some goddamn idiot of a captain. I ain't doing shit. We let them board. Cal, don't do it. You are going to kill us all. No contract is wortht this."
    <Galaxymaster> The Breken nodded at Shaun, but gripped his child and wife tightly. Div Frohman approached the medic and quietly spoke to him. "How likely is the captain to run?"
    <Cal_Kerja> "Maybe their engines aren't working so well. Maybe their gunners suck. Maybe maybe maybe..." Cal repeated the words as a hope.
    <Galaxymaster> Saba turned to Horkan as the two mercenaries moved away, armed to the teeth. "Gods of Savli, do you actually mean to defend the madman? What are we going to do? I'm not dying for Arshad, and I'm not dying for the ship. We don't even know who the BLOOD is just yet and I'm not firing upon them."
    <Galaxymaster> Kista screeched at Cal. "Wait! I don't want to get shot! I think Davion's right." Jotac swung his pistol to Davion. "Shutup, all of you! Cal, run! We won't stand-" Shorach's voice was suddenly high. "They are deploying sweeps! Goddamn they are fast!"
    * Gabriel lets out a fierce growl and screams a curse, "If they have right cause for coming after you, Captain, I'll make sure you will have wished they got a hold of you instead of me." She quickly turns back to her console, drops her visor, and sends a tell over to Cal, "Reverse course and head towards the Jumpgate on the vector I'm giving you."
    <Horkan> Horkan turned to Saba and sighed. "I'm not used to disobeying order, but then again, I'm not planning to die here either I suppose. I'll leave you in charge of the armory, I'm heading to the bridge. I need to figure out just what is going on here before I do something."
    <Shaun> Shaun scratched the stubble on his face as he considered the young man's question. "Near as I can figure, he'll fight. Whether that means running or battoning down to resist being boarded, I dunno." He shrugged slightly, glancing around at the assembled passengers, trying to get a feel of their emotional states.
    <Galaxymaster> Hannah's voice entered the bridge as she spoke from the immersed node. "Pirouette missile launch detected. I can't jam it! It's heading towards engines!"
    * Gabriel sends a tell to Hannah via the pearl, "Hannah, hack into the jumpgate and force open a gate now. We're going to use the gate's gravitational field to slingshot away."
    * Cal_Kerja tried some evasive manuevers, not really expecting them to work.
    <Galaxymaster> The passengers seemed scared and unsure. Div seemed almost indifferent and calmly collected. "I can't let the captain endanger the ship, Doctor. I need to see him." The smartly dressed man stood without any show of emotion as an alarm blared.
    <Galaxymaster> "Brace for impact." The automated voice sounded over the alarm as the entire ship shuddered and shook. Cal's Pearl overlay displayed a dozen different status reports as his flight control trids showed Engine One utterly wrecked and a fire raging in Engine Two.
    <Shaun> "You'll find your way barred by the security measures by now; they won't let a passenger on the bridge. It's not my job to restrain you, but if you leave I can't protect you." Shaun levels his gaze with Div's. "You understand that, right?"
    <Galaxymaster> Shorach called out in a panicked voice. "They are within sweep range!" The thin lasers of the sweeps carefully struck the ship here and there, cutting out subsystems like a surgeon would use scalpel. Timmser groand. "Communications suite is gone."
    * Cal_Kerja shut down the engines and activated what emergency measures he could.
    <Cal_Kerja> "Well, we gave running a good try, eh?"
    <Galaxymaster> Div smiled slightly at Shaun, indicating he saw through the man. "Don't, Shaun. Do not embarrass yourself."
    <Horkan> Reflexively turning on the mag-locks in his boots, Horkan swayed slightly as the ship shook. "There went the engines I guess," Horkan muttered as he opened a pearl link with the two Mawhkons. "Main Air lock. Now." Turning around, Horkan started off toward the main air lock himself.
    <Shaun> Shaun glanced up as the lighting fell to the subdued state that indicated it was running on the emergency circuits. "I'd say your chances without my gun are less than stellar," the doctor said and he gestured for the rest of the passengers to brace themselves. "Especially as we will almost certainly be facing an angry boarding party now."
    <Cal_Kerja> "Sir, might I recommend we open the armory and prepare for boarding?"
    * Gabriel gets out of her seat, relays a command to her vestments which cause the helm to retract back. "Well, Captain, perhaps we shall try to hide you?"
    <Galaxymaster> The two Mhawkons entered the bridge just as the ship shook. The captain whirled to Jotac and the two men gazed at each other for a moment. Jotac spoke in a somber voice. "Now we fight. Get down to the airlock and buy us some time. Captain, you better get to Punk. Everyone with combat training, join Horkan. The rest, get the hold with the passengers and seal it shut. Move."
    <Horkan> As his steps carried him closer to the airlock, Horkan sent a general Pearl message to the crew. "Saba, crack her open. The rest of you, head to the armory and get armed. Hannah, seal off most access routes from the air lock. I don't want anyone loping around us."
    <Galaxymaster> Div turned away from Shaun. "Not exactly true, Shaun. However, it is moot now for the Captain is committed. It's no longer my concern. I'll wait for this foolishness to conclude. Is there any food left in the gallery, you think?"
    <Gabriel> "Captain, would you care to wear my vestments? They won't expect you in the vestments of a Vatican priest. It may buy you time with whatever you need to do."
    * Cal_Kerja went down to the armory at a slight run, he'd feel a bit better with a pistol or two. Not much better, but a bit.
    <Galaxymaster> Hannah's messages scrolled across Horkan's optronics. "Starboard airlock is being sealed. The only way into the ship is via the portside. It's a narrow, long corridor, good bottlenecking. I'll do what I can from here but I might have to emerge if we lose all power."
    <Shaun> "Not sure if there's anything prepared, but there's certainly something edible in there." Shaun turned to direct a raised eyebrow at Div. "But this is an odd time to be thinking of food."
    <Horkan> Horkan sent a short reply to Hannah as he eyed the corridor ahead of him. "Thanks baby. Let me know if you catch anyone snooping around in our systems."
    <Galaxymaster> The captain shook his head. "No. But come with me. Cal, you also. Follow me. Jotac, do what you can." Jotac nodded as Davion vomitted again. "Fuck this, I'm going to the hold." Timmser and Shorach both followed the Martian, eyeing their crewmates as they left.
    * Gabriel quirks an eyebrow and looks at the Captain. "You don't want me to go to repel the boarders? I do have significant experience with a weapon."
    <Galaxymaster> Div smiled at Shaun again, that smile that suggest he was bemused. "Wasn't it an ancient Old Earth general that said an army can't fight on an empty stomach?" He left without any other cares. The passengers around Shaun started to panic. The marine grabbd his shoulder. "What's going on?"
    <Shaun> Shaun sent a message to Hannah via his Pearl asking for a sitrep, while he began taking stock of the weapons he had at hand.
    <Galaxymaster> Hannah's voice pinged into Pearl audio channels. "They are shotgunning messages, standby. I can't block them." The message forced into everyone's pearl, playing out. "Crew and passengers of the PRODIGAL, we do not intend anyone harm. If you stand down and let our security teams enter, we will only extract Jules Arshadl. The rest of you will be free to go."
    <Shaun> Shaun pinged Hannah again, asking for a sitrep so he can explain the situation to the passengers.
    <Cal_Kerja> "They sound like standup trusty folks to me."
    <Galaxymaster> Hannah's messsage was short. "They appear to be ready to dock. They just carved out all our main subsystems except emergency power and life support. The engineers are trying to get us something but one of our engines is gone and the other is about to go. They also put a hole in the main fuel-line and we are spraying fuel into space right now."
    <Gabriel> "They sure seem intent on getting the Captain alive. Perhaps we can use that to our advantage?"
    <Shaun> Shaun glanced at the marine. "We're dead in the water; leaking juice and they appear to be bounty hunters." He turns to address the rest of the passengers. "What that means, ladies, gentlemen and youngsters, is that you're safe as long as you're not the target and you don't do anything stupid, heroic, or worse yet, stupidly heroic."
    <Galaxymaster> The captain led the two to the gallery, where Div leaned back in a chair eating delicately a bowl of noodles. The captain headed straight towards Punk as Tuuba was pulling out a massive weapon from behind some pots.
    <Cal_Kerja> "Er, don't we keep the weapons in the armory, sir?"
    <Gabriel> "Perhaps we could use our attitude thrusters to quickly jerk away from their ship once their docking moorings are in place and rip them off. That'd make it pretty hard for them to board us."
    <Horkan> Cracking hHorkan sighed and walked closer to the airlock, unsheathing his sword, readying to charge into their security team as they opened the lock. As Hannahs message came in, Horkan sent out a reply across the network. "This ship is screwed. Even if they just grab the captain and leave, we're still screwed. I'm boarding as soon as our friends open the door." Laughing, Horkan dropped the sheath and went down to a crouch, leg
    <Galaxymaster> Arshad stopped in front of Punk. Punk suddenly bolted upright and his voice whirred in a strange mechanical voice. "Pearl. Handshake. Confirmed. Release. Protocol. Engaged." The center of Punk opened up.
    * Gabriel leans over to Cal_Kerja and jokingly murmurs, "Perhaps they're after Punk's stew recipe."
    <Galaxymaster> Inside was a thick leather-bound book stuff with pages and bits of paper and tied shut by a leather cord. Jules extracted the book and shoved it to Cal. "Do not let them get this. No matter what. Do you understand? I need this back and they can't find it on me. Father, you must protect Cal. At all costs. If we get through this and that book is still in your possession, I'll pay you."
    * Cal_Kerja watched the robot curiously as he responded to Gabriel. "And leave them with no alternative but to shoot us. Not a good choice to give them."
    <Gabriel> "Captain, I'm a priest. I took a vow of poverty. Money doesn't concern me. What does concern me is what that book is..."
    <Galaxymaster> The captain stared at Cal carefully as he spoke quietly to Punk. "Engage hostile protocols on my command." Punk whirred and suddenly sprouted weaponry as armor platings unfolded around him, clicking into place. "Go help Horkan, Tuuba, Punk."
    <Cal_Kerja> "Huh. Not the weapon of mass destruction I was hoping for. Well. Okay. Can I go grab some guns now?"
    <Galaxymaster> The captain moved his head Gabriel. "It's life, Father. New life. For me. Just, get it safely through-" Hannah's voice pinged everyone again. "The vessel has a hard seal! They are cutting portside hatch!" The captain fled the gallery in a moment, running full speed towards the cargo. Div Frohman slurped his noodles and shrugged at the crew.
    * Cal_Kerja looked at Gabriel. "I suppose we should go hide this, but I'm not getting caught hiding unarmed. Let's hit the armory."
    * Gabriel nods to Cal and sets off toward the armory. "Perhaps I should hold on to the book? I can put it in the vestments and it won't be as apparent as you carrying a book around."
    <Galaxymaster> Near the airlock, the two Mhawkons moved silently next to Horkan, exchange unspoken nods with him. Both clutched nasty Mhawkon Arquebuses, the butts of the weapons cruel axes. Across the hallway crouched Saba, holding his E13 carbine. The grinding of the cutters could be heard down the corridor.
    <Galaxymaster> Shorach, Timmser and Davion arrived in the cargo hold, moving to the side and staying put. The Captain was right beind, darting through the door and cowering. The marine passenger glared at him. "Why don't we just give him up?"
    <Shaun> Shaun glanced at him. "You're a marine. You know the answer." Shaun knelt, pulling an archaic FN Five-seveN ballistic handgun from his right boot, a quick shift and his left boot supplied him with two magazines of ammunition. He loaded the pistol and scooped up his medical bag.
    <Galaxymaster> Jotac Kells and Tuuba joined the small armed group. Jotac holding a limited edition Prada Service. Tuuba clutched a massive weapon, a long, thick barrel attached to a sphere. Inside the sphere several rings spun around a glowing ball. Tuuba gripped the weapon behind the sphere with one hand and the other clutched a leather strap coming off the middle of the thick barrel.
    <Galaxymaster> The marine suddenly turned to Shaun. "I want my weapon. I registered it at the Armory and I'm not sitting here without anything to defend my wife with."
    * Cal_Kerja handed the book over to the Father with a nod.
    <Shaun> "You're with me, then, marine. Anyone else who wants to arm themselves and become a target is welcome, too." Shaun glanced at the rest of the passengers. "But like I said, if you don't look like a threat chances are better you won't get shot."
    <Cal_Kerja> "Any suggestions for hiding spots on the ship? If we've been ordered not to fight that's fine with me."
    <Horkan> As the gathering in the corridor grew, Horkan sent out a short tell. "I'm breaking through the second that hatch pops. Open fire once I'm in the middle of them. Take care not to hit any other friendlies."
    * Gabriel slides the book inside of the rigid power armor. She reaches the armory with Cal and grabs her weapon, a large two-handed energy rifle. "Inside the ship? No. I could hide outside the ship. Is there another airlock on the other side?"
    <Galaxymaster> Most of the passengers shrank against the sides of the immense cargo container but the marine shook his head. "I don't know these guys aren't slavers or something. I'm not letting them take us. Give me my gun." Hannah's tell hit the crew right before a symbol indicated she had disconnected from the ship's node. "They are almost through."
    <Shaun> Shaun sent out a general tell. "I am proceeding to the armory with some stupidly heroic individuals who think they are better off armed. Let me know if there are casualties."
    <Cal_Kerja> "Not a bad idea. Probably sealed but we should be able to open it. If there's EVA equipment I'd have no prob chilling out there for maybe a few hours."
    <Shaun> Shaun checked the barrel, the breach and turned off the safety on the archaic handgun. "Then let's move out, marine. I'm point, we're going to take the most direct route to the armory." He glanced over at the captain. "Captain," he said as he rendered a lazy, improper salute with his left hand and departed.
    <Galaxymaster> A thin red line was seen outlining the main exterior airlock. The line grew thicker and brighter. Suddenly, the metal plating of the hatch crumbled in and a drone was instantly through. It sported four legs attached to a small cylinder body. On top were two arms attached to large half-circle energy sails that covered the entire body frame. In between the gap of the two shields were barrels.
    * Gabriel hands a pistol to Cal, "I trust you know how to use one of these." She immediately moves out of the armory and heads towards the other side of the ship, looking for the other airlock, moving with purpose.
    * Cal_Kerja strapped on a holster and twirled the pistol into it. Then pulled it out again, and put it back in, as his nervousness came and went.
    <Galaxymaster> At the same moment, three grenades whirled towards the gathering and detonated. They generated immense amount of pyschdelic light and shattering sonic bang. They filled the entire corridor with thick noxious smoke. Small silver strips were intermixed with the smoke and drifted throughout the cloud. The smoke instantly irrated the nose and eyes of organics.
    * Gabriel arrives at the airlock with Cal and points to an EVA suit. "Hurry it up and get it on. Hannah sealed this thing, so we'll have to blow it open."
    * Gabriel moves to the airlock and tries to search for the manual controls.
    <Cal_Kerja> "Blow? Uh, let's not get hasty..."
    <Gabriel> "Metaphorically... if I shoot through, they'll know someone escaped through here."
    <Horkan> As the drone came through the airlock, the lights on the right side of Horkans head changed from green to red, his aggression inhibitor shutting down. Bringing one of his shoulders up, Horkan tenses his legs and bounds forward, intending to slam into the shield. "Sometimes the things they did to me comes in useful" he roars as he closes the distance.
    * Gabriel finds the controls and begins to fiddle with them, but has no real experience.
    <Cal_Kerja> "No, no, no. The controls go like /this/."
    * Gabriel slaps Cal's hand gently, "No, you're doing it all wrong. You'll fry the system like that! Let me work!"
    <Galaxymaster> Shaun arrived at the Armory to already find it open and gone through. The marine went to a locker, the door unlocking as his pearl confirmed his idenity. Inside was a military-issue HKN 10mm Samson pistol. He dug it out and slammed a caseless mag into it, pocketing a few more. He then grabbed one of the energy rifles hanging in the armory, clicking in a fresh energy cell. "Name's Bale."
    <Galaxymaster> He nodded at Shaun. "Let's get these fuckers for interrupting my honeymoon. Show them what Colonial Marines are made of. Where's the firefight shaping up at?"
    * Gabriel continues to fiddle with the manual airlock controls, muttering a small prayer.
    * Gabriel shouts out in joy as the mechanism pops open and the airlock door opens, spacing Cal and Gabriel.
    * Gabriel moves to the external control for the airlock once they are out and manually closes the airlock door. She motions to Cal to move towards a darkened corner of the ship and begins to move ahead of him.
    <Galaxymaster> The two are instantly flung into space, propelled away from the ship as the airlock depressures violently without the computer's aid. The two float away at high speeds from the vessel, spinning as the airlock finishes and stabalizes. The emergency power jams a pressure door over the corridor, as it detected venting.
    * Cal_Kerja tries to grab hold of Gabe as he works to shoot back onto the ship. He'll be fine if he can touch down, he just needs to get there...
    <Shaun> Shaun nodded to the eager young marine as he pulled his own archaic P90 from a rack, the nearby harness quickly slung over his shoulders and a magazine snapped into the P90's mounting bracket. "Portside airlock, Bale." He pulled a pair of combat gloves from one of the other lockers and slipped them on. "Major Doctor Shaun McConnell, 1773rd Airborne Recon, by the way."
    <Galaxymaster> Horkan slammed into the drone, it's energy shields discharging him harmlessly. He slide to the floor and the two barrels erupted with a flurry of darts, spraying the corridor. Jotac shouted as he wiped away the irrtant in his eyes. "They are using taggers! Taggers!"
    <Galaxymaster> As the two turned to leave the armory, the other military passenger stood behind them. He quietly grabbed another HKN and an energy rifle. "Greg Bennermans. Pilot; 234rd Logistics Wing. I've got a baby down in that hold." The energy rifle whined on. "I'm right behind you, Doctor." The three approached the entrance corridor. Ahead, thick smoke that was specked with reflections filled the area.
    <Galaxymaster> The jets in the EVA suits already began to send messages to Cal's optronics that fuel supply was running low. He managed to slam into the freighter, glancing at the various smoking holes in the ship. Then Cal noticed something even worse. Two mercenaries, crawling over the top of the ship slowly, clad in combat exoskeletons.
    <Cal_Kerja> "Gabe! Quick, try and find cover before they spot us!"
    <Galaxymaster> The drone slammed one of it's feet towards Horkan but he rolled out of the way and thrusted his sword towards the machinery between the shields. The sword sliced into the barrels but jammed, wedged firmly. One of the barrels stopped firing and the drone tried to back up.
    * Gabriel has quit IRC (Quit: Gabriel)
    * Cal_Kerja scrambles for cover but doesn't have much luck finding any. He keeps his pistol handy in case the the mercs make any sudden moves.
    <Galaxymaster> The sword rammed further into the drone and one of the enery sails disintergrated completely. It backed up but one of the legs siezed up and the drone started dragging it. However, a second drone started climbing over the top of the injured one, firing at Horkan. Behind it, several armored men appeared, trying to get shots over the drone that was now blocking the corridor.
    <Galaxymaster> The mercs start moving more quickly towards Cal and Gabe now, jets activating as weapon systems deployed. Back inside, the second drone hits Horkan with a tagger. The small dart unloads the toxin into Horkan and transmit back his DNA sample for positive ID. A flood of more taggers rip into the smoke-filled corridor. Only a few shots respond back, all poorly aimed.
    * Cal_Kerja panics and fires off a shot at the mercs.
    <Shaun> Shaun arrived to find Horkan making a mess of things, and takes a moment to survey the mess.
    <Galaxymaster> The shot wings past them harmlessly and one of them responds with a spray of needlers. The other merc slams his hand into the exoskeleton's weapon, knocking the needlers off course. Cal's Pearl registered a requested commlink from suit to suit.
    <Shaun> "Horkan? Hey, Horkan!" Shaun calls out.
    * Cal_Kerja answers. "Hey guys. Ha ha, did I shoot at you? I thought I saw a Hrr'Kliss bat flying behind you. Ha ha, man, how did I think that, right?"
    <Horkan> Horkan is still struggling with two drones so all he replies with is "Busy."
    <Galaxymaster> "Surrender, idiot. I've got a guided grenade that I can land right on you. Don't make us kill you, we have orders not to kill anyone."
    <Shaun> Shaun does his best to move up, trying to get eyes on the enemy. He keeps the other two soldiers close but not too close through use of basic handsignals.
    * Cal_Kerja sends a tell to Gabriel. "Try and hide yourself, you've got the book. I'll try and keep their attention."
    <Shaun> Shaun curses and pulls a length of gauze and a saline water bottle from his medical bag. He dampens the gauze and wraps it around his mouth and nose, then repeats the process twice more for the other two soldiers. "Not much to be done about the eyes, I'm afraid," he says slightly muffled through the gauze facemask.
    <Cal_Kerja> "Okay, okay. I'm not getting paid for more than a good faith effort, right? I surrender." Cal stands up and holsters the pistol in his suit, raising his hands.
    <Galaxymaster> The marine next to Shaun coughed and sniffed, rubbing his eyes. "Goddamnit, they are using pepper clouds. I can't see shit. Optronics are getting fucked up too with the interference strips."
    <Shaun> "Yeah, so I noticed," Shaun replies, his eyes puffy and red.
    <Galaxymaster> Somewhere in the cloud, someone sniffed. "Shaun? It's Saba. I'm not getting that bad of a reaction. Be careful, they are using taggers. Tuuba and Jotac got hit already, they are busy vomiting and nausated. I think they want us all alive."
    <Galaxymaster> The two mercs clad in heavy exoskeletons jetted over to the port airlock. "Damn smart, son. Anyone else out here? Drop the gun."
    <Shaun> Shaun grunted loudly, "Like I told the passengers, we're not their target." He glanced over at the other two soldiers. "Nonetheless, we got two heroes up here. We're going to fall back to the other end of the corridor and put up a partial barricade for cover. Can Tuuba and Jotac move?"
    <Cal_Kerja> "No, everyone else was heading towards the other airlock to meet your friends, so I thought I'd be best off heading in the other direction." Cal let go of the gun, but tried not to send it in a direction away from the ship.
    <Galaxymaster> A volley of heavy gunfire went off that was distinctly Mhawkon ammo. Saba's voice floated through the thick yellow cloud as small whistles of darts zipped by. "No, it's pretty heavy sicktags. They are-" vomiting was heard followed by a thud. Saba was silent.
    <Shaun> Shaun signaled for a retreat, ducking into side rooms looking for something to partially barricade the corridor with.
    <Galaxymaster> The drone shuddered as the sword ripped through it again. It fell to one side and the other drone completely passed over it now. Several mercs behind it moved towards Horkan, wearing full masks. "Come on, give it up!" They all held tagger pistols.
    * Cal_Kerja kept talking, to try and keep the mercs distracted. "I gotta admit, I'm pretty impressed. EVA to cover the other side. Slick. Yea. You guys, your real pros, you."
    <Horkan> Horkan laughed loudly as he looked at their weapons, hefting his sword. "You're going to have to give me a reason to do so. Considering we're floating, leaking fuel and out of power, just having you guys leave after you got what you want is not good enough."
    <Galaxymaster> The suits whirred and clicked as the two EVA mercs lowered themselves down to the port lock. "What, you think you are the first to think of the whole 'go out the other side' trick? That shit has been done since the beginning of piracy."
    <Shaun> Shaun hauls a plastic table out of one of the rooms, positioning it so it blocks most of the corridor. "Well, it's not ferrocrete bags, but it'll stop sicktags."
    <Galaxymaster> One of the masked mercs shook his head as the second drone entered the smoke, firing away. More mercs poured into the corridor. "Because in a few days a rescue shuttle will arrive, you'll get a modest check from the freighter's insurance company and you can find a ride in Tillamook to somewhere in the Outer Sphere. Why die for some captain that pissed off the wrong people?"
    <Cal_Kerja> "Ooh, sure, but you know how it is. I used to be in the biz meself, y'know. Crews get lazy, overconfident, some just start out stupid. Not you guys though. Very thorough."
    <Horkan> "Two reasons. One, I don't like betraying people. Two, I'm having tons of fun. I've been stuck on this freighter for a long time with nothing to take my aggression out on and you guys conviniently show up."
    <Galaxymaster> The merc grumbled at him. "Shutup and get inside. Idiot." The exoskeleton frame shoved him inside the opened airlock. Both mercs entered it and the airlock slide shut, slowly pressurizeing.
    <Horkan> "That, and you seem to be missing out the fact that I'm Baktoid. I've probably got less organic parts than your droid there. Taggers? Really?"
    * Cal_Kerja sends a tell to the rest of the crew. "I've been captured, but, the, bird has flown the package to secure? There's probably not much reward in fighting any further. Unless you're winning, I guess. Then help."
    <Galaxymaster> The merc shrugged at him. "We just haven't hit you with an ion beam yet because we weren't sure of the damage it'd cause you, mechman. Keep wrecking our expensive drone though and we'll fry you."
    * DasScoot has joined #novoaether
    * Cal_Kerja has quit IRC (Ping timeout)
    <Galaxymaster> Hannah's message filtered into Horkan's Pearl. "Horkan? They've... reached the bridge. They've got Cal and I now and are at the bridge. It's over, Horkan. Stop!"
    <Galaxymaster> The codes entered into his Pearl, reacivating his agression inhibiter.
    <Horkan> As Hannahs message went through, the lights on his head went from red to green, his aggression inhibitor kicking back in. "Oh, you have got to be kidding me. Son of a... Fine. But I warn you. Hurt anyone else and I will stop hitting drones and start hitting people." Gesturing to the Mawhkons to drop their weapons, Horkan sheathes his sword.
    * DasScoot is now known as Cal_Kerja
    <Horkan> Looking over at the dead body of Jotac, Horkans inhibitor shut off again, his fists clenching. "Now why did you have to go and do that. Damnit. I thought I was very clear. It isn't like this is a matter of choice."
    <Cal_Kerja> "I've done the pirate thing. I got out of it. Worked hard at that. So I'll have to turn ya down, sorry."
    <Galaxymaster> The Pirakha waved his handed and one of the masked mercs begin to uncuff the volunteers. They left the container one by one. Saba looked at the fellow crew briefly before leaving, followed by Shorach and Timmser. "Wait." Ralgadorr struggled to his feet, the massive Kizeran grunting. "I'll come too."
    <Galaxymaster> The merc unclipped Ralgadorr. The Pirakha tossed a small key next to Horkan. "That'll unlock everyone. We are sealing the door behind us but you can easily open it, it'll just take a bit of time." The rest of the mercs exited the container. "We're jumping out of system in a half-hour, so don't try to track us or anything."
    <Cal_Kerja> "Oh yes. With our half an engine. We'll be right on your tails." Cal muttered under his breath.
    <Galaxymaster> The Pirakha shrugged. "Personal guns and articles are piled in the gallery. Everything that belong to Jules or the ship has been taken. We stripped most of the ship as well, so it'll just get scrapped. They'll probably divide up the scrap money amongst you guys, I don't think there's a parent company or whatever, I don't care. The place is yours." The big being left.
    <Shaun> Shaun's bindings fall off and he rubs his wrists. "I'm not sure you could afford my services, Mr. Hunt."
    <Shaun> He glances at the mercenary who was last to leave. "But I can assure you that tracking you down will be a lot easier than you like," Shaun says with a grin.
    <Galaxymaster> The merc shrugged. The Pirakha slowly eased the door closed. "Those ending one-liners always sound cheesy, dude." The door clanged shut.
    <Horkan> As the mercenary exited the hold, Horkans inhibitor kicked back in and he stopped straining with his restraints. "Well, that went better than it could have. Shaun, any permanent injuries?" he asked as he turned around and unlocked his restraints with the key on the floor.
    * Cal_Kerja sends a tell to Gabe. "Ok, they've gone. Hope you've still got that thing, hope it was worth all this trouble..."
    <Shaun> Shaun shrugged. "Maybe, won't know til I check everyone out, but mostly nausea, vomiting and diarrhea for the next three days if I don't miss my guess."

    Talonrazor on
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