Distress Signal (Open Introductory RP)
The stolen courier tumbled slowly through space, a slender trail of gas painting a spiral as it leeched out of its damaged hull. Though the bright red paint on the ship's needle-like body remained fully intact, the ship's once slender tail had been snapped in two, and the remains of it were charred black and irradiated. The small, squarish fins that jutted from the sides of the thin-bodied craft had been scorched black by the calamity as well. The ship's tail had once held the ship's hyperprop engines and had since detonated; the fins were the ship's now-inert interplanetary drive. Both of the Lucky Sprinter's principle propulsion systems were rendered inoperable, and now the ship was drifting through the void helplessly.
Inside the Lucky Sprinter, three humanoids and a thousand bubbles of violet blood floated in microgravity. The blood was normally a vibrant shade of crimson, but the dim light of the emergency glowpup had cast everything in a shade of neon blue. The ship's main lighting system had since short-circuted, and right now fixing the main lights were the least of the captain's problems. The ship's immobility was one problem; the fact that the pilot was unconscious was another.
"What else can we do for her, Doc?" Ralki Quicksilver asked, well aware that no one ever said "Doc?" anymore. The 'doctor' was less than bemused. His crimson-skinned face bore a half-angry scowl, while his hands mechanically finished wrapping up bandages on the pilot's arm.
"Not much else in this wreck; although you could try not firing the hyperspace pushers when we're within the system boundary."
"Hey!" Ralki objected. "If I hadn't told Mirau to fire the engines, we might be dead right now - or worse - captured." Mirau herself was actually the one who had fired the pushers; she was also the one now unconscious. Hopefully, she wouldn't die here.
The 'doctor' said nothing in reply. Instead he looked down and concentrated on repacking the first-aid kit. I thought so. See if you can answer that, you damned rich bastard. Ralki thought to himself triumphantly. Then he noticed Mirau again, with her delicate face framed with sable hair. Her flight jumpsuit had been scorched by the detonation, and now she was bandaged in several places. Her blood was still floating through the air.
"I better send a distress signal." Ralki grumbled.
"Won't they detect it?" the 'doctor' asked.
"Probably." Ralki replied. "However, your 'intelligence' said this is a settled system. So maybe we'll get lucky and someone else will come by before 'they' show up."
"You're right." the 'doctor' conceeded. He had finished stowing his medical pack away. "Just promise me one thing." he asked.
"Oh?" asked Ralki. This'll be good. he thought sarcastically.
"If 'they' show up again - take that Ion gun and kill both me and Mirau."
"What?" Ralki asked.
"Do it. I don't know about you, but I'm not about to face torture and interrogation at the hands of the Domestic Intelligence Agency. And Mirau isn't going to want to go back to them either."
"Speak for yourself!" Ralki objected. Saying nothing else, he floated through the access tube to the ship's cockpit.
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
The Lucky Sprinter's cockpit was easier to search through than the crew comparment to the rear. The controls were still lit even under minimal power, and though artificial gravity had failed there wasn't a school of tiny blood droplets floating through the air. Outside the ship's massive bow window the stars were perpetually rising, as the ship was currently spinning on its end. Luckily, it was a gentle spin, and the the cockpit was close enough to the ship's center of rotation that Ralki felt only a weak tug from the spin. Floating to the sensor controls, he pressed the button that charged the radio transmitter. He then flipped another switch, that switched his current ship's registry ID.
According the outside world, the ship he was flying was not the smuggling vessel Lucky Sprinter, nor was it the Fox Country military courier Alacrity, nor was it the mining transport Magnificent Leopard, which it had previously pretended to be until a Foxite warship had caught up with it. Ralki Quicksilver was now flying the scoutship KaWa-192, a light prospector registered to the Uranium Weaselworks Mining Corporation. A light prospector would have a reasonable excuse to be way out here beyond the borders of the Stellar Empire, and besides - it was the only identity Ralki had left that wasn't already familiar to that pursuing Fox Country warship. Thinking like a light prospector, he tried to come up with a suitable distress signal, typing it in text. Speaking it aloud could be a nice clue to that warship captain; they just might be able to recognize his voice.
"Mayday. This is a Mayday! All ships in the area, this is the Ka-Wa-192, a light prospector. We have suffered a freak reactor failure and have sustained heavy damage. Engines are out, life support is failing, and we have one wounded in serious condition. Requesting urgent assistance."
Finished with typing the message, Ralki had the auto-translator repeat it in several languages, and pipe the universal code for mayday alongside it. Most cultures would not be familiar with Fox Speech, or even with the languages the translator had piped. The Stellar Empire of Fox Country was a fairly isolated one, and they were a long way from home. But everyone would recognize the generic mayday code, even if they couldn't decipher the message. Hopefully, there was another ship passing through this system that would pick it up and come by to help. It would be even nicer if they planned to leave the system in a rush - before the pursuing destroyer could catch up with them. A pity Ralki hadn't known this system better; he knew little about it - except that it was inhabited, and that he was at the edge of it.
There was of course a danger. Like all good smugglers, Ralki kept several sets of recorded identities for his vessel of choice. Unfortunately, however, all of his identities were registered under Fox Country. And a Fox Country captain would have a note of suspicion at detecting the distress signal of a wrecked Foxite ship out in the middle of nowhere... particularly if the said captain was already involved in a chase. A sudden omen of disaster passed over him.
But what else is there to do? Ralki thought, as the Lucky Sprinter continued tumbling, idle in the night.
And in a distant corner of the same system, a slim black warship waited, its wings painted with the crimson and navy blue of the Stellar Empire. Inside, its crew waited diligently, scanning the skies for any sign of their missing quarry. Even a small empire was not escaped easily.
OOC: Assuming Sol system....Otherwise just say it and I'll delete this post. Considering the number of things going on in the central Sol at any given moment it's very likely a distress signal would get lost by the time it reached anyone, especially asuming that signal was sent on a normal non-FTL system and would thus take a few days to reach most people's ships.
If your plans for this thread require a different system or a different ship, I can either adjust this post or kill it off completely.
The Mouse Parade is a small frigate with a very small crew, and with weapons meant to ward off pirates and smugglers rather than real warships.
"Ugh, another distress signal," Sin sighed. It was a lie, but she wanted something to complain about as she settled into her control couch and let the harness lock her in place against the cushioned material. Duty in the far reaches of Sol was always boring, and lasted too long for normal beings. Sitting in a composite tube with only the very necessary systems online to conserve fuel and maybe prevent detection by the pirates Sin was supposed to hunt, she thought that her small crew did not go insane after a few weeks of silence was amazing.
The WDFS Mouse Parade's systems burst to life, a flare against the cosmic background that would most likely be lost by the time it reached anyone who could truly care that a small frigate was about to engage its drive mechanisms.
"Amazing, it works," Ash commented.
"Of course it works," Mir retorted, his crimson eyes flashing in the dim green light of the control center, the small space within the depths of the craft dedicated to the three people that made it more than just a lot of rather expensive equipment. "I busted my ass to make this boat work. Amazing..." the rest of the flight engineer's mutterings were lost to the growing thrum of engines activating for the first time in weeks.
"What was that?"
"Kyril, stand by for extraction procedures," Sin chose to ignore the pair's bickering -- it would get resolved in a few minutes anyway. She sealed her helmet, drowning out the ship's operating sounds, which seemed too loud after the months of silence that were part of regular patrol duty on trade routes.
"We're way ahead of you, capt'n," the lieutenant's voice laughed slightly in Sin's ears after a moment.
"Good, lieutenant," Sin nodded slightly, the gesture a pointless habit that went ignored. "Commander, get us moving."
"Aye, captain," a green overlay flashed before Ash's eyes. He nudged the maneuvering thrusters, rotating the ship, and pushed the drives into steady acceleration along the adjusted vectors. Even a fraction of a degree would leave the Mouse Parade hundreds if not thousands of kilometers away from their target. Mir did do her job, the pilot noted, though he wasn't about to admit that to the young chief engineer.
The small patrol frigate's fusactors steadily fed power to the energy cells, from where it flowed across the ship's narrow hull and into the drives. Most of the vessel consisted of power generation and storage systems, and engines. Those three components were what gave the Mouse Parade its high acceleration rate, but which were also the reason it had such a small crew.
Kyril checked his suit's seals in the 'armory' of the frigate, knowing the rest of his small marine/engineering squad were doing the same around him, and hoped the sender of what was presumably a distress signal was not too big for them to handle. Big ships meant bigger problems, and the Mouse Parade had only so many resources it could dedictce toward helping anyone. The Defense Force itself had very few resources, which was why a solitary frigate was doing work that virtually all credible military plans assigned to a real patol squadron.
The Mouse Parade was not a warship, or at least not a warship any sane military would put into real combat. For one, it was smaller than the system's average combat craft, only a little larger than its planet-based naval counterparts. For another, its weapons systems would barely dent the armor of a good warship. But the frigate did have a good scanner array, and it could outrun most threats it could not deal with. At least that was what Sin hoped was the case. She wasn't even sure it was a distress signal they were now responding to, although most normal communications did not go out on a broad spectrum of frequencies and in what the ship's computer guessed were multiple languages, neither of which were listed in the ship database.
Sin's fingers flew across the controls, activating the external transmission. An antenna array on the conning tower of the ship locked onto the estimated coordinates of the transmission.
<This is the Weyr Self Defense Force Stock Frigate Mouse Parade, responding to what we assume is a distress call. We are en route...>
The captain of the Mouse Parade doubted her words would be understood, but protocol was protocol, and she did not want any additional problems with the Defense Agency. The civvies who controlled the Self-Defense Force's policy and budget loved their rules, Sin though darkly. "Status?" she turned to Ash, her voice distorted slightly by the helmet's comm system.
“Requesting permission to use active scanners,” the pilot responded, watching the distance close on his displays, adjusting the course slightly from time to time.
“Permission granted,” Sin nodded. There weren’t any other vessels in the area as far as she could tell from passive scanner readouts, which wasn’t really all that surprising given their distance from the truly inhabited parts of the system. Only the Distributed Kingdom of Weyr bothered to regularly patrol this far out as far as she knew, and only because its interstellar ships required to be both far away from large masses such as the system’s sun and planets and to be going at very high velocities.
“Y’know,” Mir commented offhandedly. “I don’t really get why there’s a ship this far out with no support.”
“You think it’s a trap?” Sin blinked, no one seeing the gesture, her eyes concealed behind the reflective faceplate of her flight suit’s helm.
“Why in Oblivion would anyone want to kill this piece of shit?” Ash inquired.
Sin sighed, feeling another bout of bickering coming on.
“Active scanners online,” Mir responded instead, to Sin's surprise. Using only the stray emissions of other ships’ drives and power cores was good for drifting along the acceleration path for cargo and passenger ships about to go hyperluminal, but it was a nightmare for navigating if the target ship had its power systems disabled, any Defense Force ship captain knew. The downside was that active scanners told everyone and anyone in the vicinity where you were and where you were going. And, of course, Weyrean active scanners could see beyond the outer hull plate of a ship, media shows to the contrary.
Sol system is okay. I deliberately left the system choice open so someone else could decide; though I probably should have specified that. Glad to have you post. The ship works great too. Kudos to you for not doing dispatching a wankish 12-km battleship.
The Lucky Sprinter is a pretty smallish craft; originally about fifty meters long, but with half of its 'tail' cut off it's probably more like forty meters. It's sensors aren't very good, and yours are, so you'll probably detect it before it detects you.
The two near-humans had just vacuuming up the last of the floating blood droplets, when a synthesized tune beeped from the cockpit controls. At once Ralki and 'the doctor' perked up, and Ralki repelled himself off the floor and sped through the accessway to the cockpit. The beeping tune continued playing itself until Ralki swung into the pilot couch and silenced the automatic alarm. As he did this, 'doc' peeped his head in through the accessway, confident that his patient was safe in the crew compartment.
As the alarm was silenced a burst of what sounded like radio static played on the speakers, causing Ralki and the 'doc' to wince momentarily. The captain quickly silenced the static, then examined the sensor report through a text screen.
"What does it say?" asked 'doc, whose real name was Ganje.'
"No fucking clue." Ralki replied. "It's gotta be a message though - probably a reply."
"Is it in a known language at least?" the 'doctor' asked.
"No, dipshit." answered Ralki. "It's not even transmitted on a known format, so it's probably not a known language. If it were sent by a group with a known language they'd have recognized one of our signals and sent a reply in something we could understand. So it's probably not anyone we know. Let's just hope that they want to pick us up."
"And that they don't have an extradition treaty with Fox Country." added the other Foxite.
"I'll drink to that." said Ralki. He then squint a yellow-colored eye at his compatriot, "Do you have our 'cargo' on you by any chance?"
The doctor answered slowly, "It's still on me; and the data chips my comrades wanted are safe too."
"Better keep it there." Ralki suggested. "Whoever these people are, they might want to search our ship; not that they'll know what it is anyway..."
"They probably won't, but my type doesn't like to take risks." said Ganje, furling a thick eyebrow. "Our cargo should be fine - unless we're picked up by pirates."
"Always good to know." said Ralki cynically. He then reached over and powered up the Lucky Sprinter's scanner array, telling to pulse on active and play an alarm when something was detected. He was fairly certain the message wasn't from the pursuing destroyer; else they simply would have snuck up and axed the Lucky Sprinter in their sleep. With a reply there was a good chance someone was coming, and no desperate need to conserve power. With their radar pulsing whoever was looking for them would at least have better odds - and they might have advanced warning if that torpedo destroyer came prowling again. Not that it would do them much good, since they couldn't go anywhere.
Thinking briefly about the situation, Ralki turned to face Ganje. "Well, doc, if someone is trying to pick us up we probably won't be able to communicate with them for a while, unless they have a Psion aboard, but why don't we think of a good cover story anyway... just to be safe."
Ganje nodded, and the two men spent the next few minutes devising their scheme.
It would have been fairly easy to miss the Blockcade Runner ship. Not only was the hull painted ptch black, thus making it nearly invisible against the vaccum of space to the naked eye, the hull itself contained many special electronical devices which would make the small frieghter look like a random piece of metallic space junk to all but the most advanced sensor systems.
It was pure luck they had been in the area when they recieced the distress call. The very scantily clad B. Queen, leader of the Krowemohian gang called the Blockcade Runners, smiled widely as their pilot and handgun specailist Lone Ghunman replayed the distress signal for her.
She smiled for two reasons: This far from anything, they were certainly going to be the only ones who recieved it. Plus, she couldn't understand a word of the langauge. Which meant it was alien. Which meant whatever technology she and her group could steal from it would fetch a bundle on the black markets. "Lone, you know what to do."
Sitting besides the 'captain's chair her, the youngest member of the nearly all catgirl gang smirked, "Anya be liking the sounds of this one." She spoke, her moronic speech patterns masking a very intelligent mind.
The only human of this group, Lone Ghunman, nodded as he piloted the frieghter towards the origin of the distress signal.
They don't travel more then a few moments, when a blarring alarm is sounded. "Crap! Someone's using Active Scanners!"
"Is it from the ship?" B. Queen inquired.
"NO. I'm tracking on Passive sensors, it's moving... Seems to be heading towards the distress call, too, ma'am."
B. Queen frowned... "This doesn't bode well. Anya, have Vex and Jet ready for trouble. If we're going to steal that alien technology first, we'll have to get to it before the do-gooders do, and fight them off."
With a nod, Anya hops up from her seat, running towards the rear most cargo bays, where the twins Vex and Jet D'bo were...
((OOC: You guessed it, the Blockcade Runners are a group of pirates, smugglers, and salavagers. :P And, Lone's last name is pronounced "Gun-man." Hee hee.))
OOC: Yay! Pirates! Travel time fluid for the purposes of plot
"Only the Feds normally go out this far," Ash was saying, keeping his hands lightly over the controls.
Showoff, Mir thought darkly. He could have just as easily set the system on autopilot; the computer was perfectly capable of finding their target. It was already handling all of the actual controls -- Ash was just a monkey poking switches until the crosshairs were aligned on his helmet's display, as far as she was concerned. Only an idiot could miss a ship that was now actively pinging the surrounding area. "The Feds don't care about us," Mir responded. The engineer's eyes noticed the flickering of the core stress gauge, the numbers crawling deceptively slowly higher.
Gravity went off. "The Feds use English," Sin shrugged. "I'm running analysis on their transmission, but it'll take a while. Until we get more of their language samples, I suggest both of you shut it." Sin didn't want to have to deal with a bunch of outsystem folk who had accidentally wound up in Sol. But if she was going to be landed with newcomers, she wanted to have a basic understanding of their language, which, presumably, the ship’s computer could cook up. Or it could give an error message and shut down.
"Aye, sir," Ash did a mock salute. Sin's gloves hand whacked the back of his helm. "Initiating deceleration pattern."
"Would it make you two happier if we had torpedoes prepped?" Sin asked after a while, her voice dulled by the inter-helmet comm.
"Sure," Ash shrugged.
"Yes," Mir nodded, more concerned with the slowly reddening indicators. She made a mental note to flay alive the workers back in port for sticking her ship with second-hand parts.
A whirr of hydraulics added itself to the din of the ship's core and drives. Torpedoes, oversized rockets with to much guidance gear, moved into their launch tubes. In a way, it made Sin feel better -- knowing there was more than a pair of anti-shipping guns ready if this was going to turn nasty.
Lone pushed the frieghter as much as he could without making their presense too obvious. Stress and nervious energy filled him, and evey movement he made was precise. Although the ship wouyld look like a random piece of space junk to almost all sensors, he had to maintain a fairly constant velocity without making their destination overtly obvious.
Whilst Lone was a nervious wreck in terms, B. Queen was the face of calmed collectiveness. She kept her eye on the prize, and from that perspective she viewed everything else. The goody-two shoes were going to be a nuisance, she knew that. But, if she played her cards right. She'd be one ship richer.
This ship is disabled, so it's worthless. But, this other ship... It runs. All Anya'd have to do is reprogram the ship's computer, and then we can sell it AND the alien technology! Heh... Already, a plan began to formulate in her mind...
Not only did the Lucky Sprinter lack a medical droid, it also lacked any sort of sickbay or medical scanner. Which right now was a real pain. Ganje was not a doctor of medicine, and there was no equipment available better than a first aid kit. So, for Mirau's case all that could be done was strapping her to a stretcher and hope for the best.
"So... what's the prognosis, doc?" Asked Ralki. The 'doc' was busy trying to measure Mirau's pulse, with a pair of fingers held to her neck.
"She's not dead." Ganje answered matter-of-factly.
"Well... I can see that." answered Ralki. "Can't you say anything more useful, doc?"
"No; it's not like I'm a doctor of medicine." answered Ganje. "If you have any hidden reservoir of medical knowledge, now would be the time to share it."
Ralki simply grunted. He was then about to spend time trying to figure out what to do, when a tune in a minor key cried from the cockpit. "That must be our pickup; I'll go check the scanner array." the captain announced, floating down the accessway; the Doctor did not particularly feel like following.
I wonder why in blazes anyone would be out here to pick us up so quickly. Ganje thought to himself. Granted, if they used the same sort of interstellar drives as Fox Country, they'd have to reach the system boundary; but a star system was huge; the odds of a ship being close enough to them to respond so quickly was astronomically small.
This system must be very populated. he thought to himself. Very, very populated. He felt a measure of excitement. He found himself wondering whether this unassuming yellow star was populated by one civilization or many, and whether it would be ruled by another lost colony of humans or a different alien race. He also wondered who the rulers here would be, and whether or not they were as brutal as the leaders of Fox Country. A potent question, and one that will likely decide our fate.
Ralki Quicksilver was concerned with more practical matters. He floated to the cockpit, and checked the scanner readout. It showed a single vessel was on approach, and pinging with active sensors. With the simple sensor array aboard the Lucky Sprinter, right now Ralki could not discern much more than that. He was at least glad that this new ship's sensor signature didn't look anything like a Foxite warship.
More to amuse himself than to do anything else, the smuggler reached for the transceiver controls. I could at least let them know we're not dead, even if they won't understand me. Coding the message into the usual battery of languages, he sent another message.
This is the Ka-Wa-192. Thanks for the rapid response. Don't kill us. We have three passengers, including a hot chick in what we think is serious condition. We know she is not dead, and hope you have a sickbay. Our captain is a charming space rogue.
He flipped off the switch. Not that they'll understand it anyway. He then sat down and waited for a mysterious ship to coast by.
((OOC: Weyr, I'll let you arrive first, kay? :D))
OOC:Apologies for the lapse in activity...Now that school's over, I'll be responding in a sane amount of time, hopefully, at least until fall. Are there any specific plans for this thread?
<Gotcha> Sin sent back, wondering what whomever had sent this particular message was saying. Definitely going to be an interesting day, she thought, considering the best method of getting on board that ship, which whose 'image' was becoming clearer and clearer with every kilometer covered.
“Okay, I think we’ve got a power leak,” Mir said, more to herself than to the two officers in the control center.
“What a surprise,” Ash grunted, maneuvering the vessel in place. “We’ve been blind in the ass without knowing it.”
Mir made a rude gesture in the pilot’s direction, disappearing into the passageway to the drive segment of the craft.
All Weyrean ships had a blind cone extending directly behind them during motion, their engine and fusactor emissions interfering with particles used by shipboard scanners. If there was stray output coming from the drive sector, it meant the Mouse Parade would be completely open to anything coming from the rear, at any time.
"I'm getting to old for this," Kyril leaned over the pilot's shoulder to get a better look at their target. In the darkened compartment of the Minimouse, the Mouse Parade's short-range 'boat,' he drifted off the deck and towards the pipes and wiring running overhead, watching intently a pair of brilliant yellow-white beams play across their query's hull.
"Only eighty-four," Sin clucked over the comm. "And I can hear your joints creak all the way over here."
"Stuff it, you old hag," Kyril muttered.
"When two hundred years old you reach," the captain adjusted her voice to creak like a rusted hinge. "Not as good you will look."
"I'll have Mir disassemble you screw by screw when we get back," the lieutenant grinned into his helmet's faceplate. Sin chuckled, their conversation kept on a private channel. "Is that a hatch?" Kyril inquired, pointing at an illuminated segment of the unknown ship's hull.
“Might be, sir,” the pilot adjusted their direction. Little bright flares flashed along the Minimouse’s hull, nudging it carefully closer towards the unknown ship.
“Captain, mind poking them?” Kyril sent back to the Mouse Parade,which hung some three hundred odd meters back, its scanner antennas and radiator fins pulsing a deep green, reflecting navigation lights.
“No point, unless they got an English dictionary handy,” Sin responded.
“Wow,” one of Kyril’s marines whistled.
“I’m guessing that was their drive compartment,” Sin highlighted the damaged ship’s rather ragged rear end on one of the Minimouse’s cockpit displays.
“Let’s see what else is there. If we don’t find anything, we latch on and drill inside,” Kyril commanded.
No real plans for the thread; although I do have something of a backstory. This is more of an improvisation; where the plot goes is dependent on what you, the Blockcade Runners, and my characters decide to do.
As I presume the Weyreans are taking a tour of the Lucky Sprinter, I'll add a more detailed description.
The "tail" of the Lucky Sprinter would be a good textbook case of a wreck. Once a slender spire, it now looked like a blackened twig that had snapped in two. Here and there crystaline spears still poked out from the wreck of the spire, and what seemed to be charred wires grew out of the wreck irregularly. The mist-like gas that had been leaking from the ship's drive earlier had since exhausted its supply, and was now only seen as a faint curl fifty meters behind the ship's hull.
To anyone with a keen eye for engineering, it would be clear that the ship was wracked by two separate detonations. One had snapped the tail in two, leaving the scorched wires and blistered metal. The other had come from somewhere near the base of the ship's hull, where the tail met the ship.
That explosion had evidently been more powerful; aside from ripping out large chunks of the ship's rear hull, it had crushed what looked like some sort of compact tokamak device resting below the ship's tail. It looked rather like a hollow donut had imploded.
Nowhere was there any sign of anything that looked like a rocket, or any other sort of conventional sublight engine. The Lucky Sprinter's real main propulsion system had been the panels sticking out of the base of its tail. Resembling squarish radiators built from a mesh of metal and crystal, they were now scarred black and warped in several places. The damage on the port wing looked more substantial; large holes had been cut into it, boring through the surface of the fin completely.
Whether or not the crew of the Mouse Parade would recognize the Lucky Sprinter's weird propulsion systems as such was an open question.
Aside from the engine compartment, the alien vessel seemed to be in good shape, aside from ominous black marks chafing the front of it's bow. The ship's main hull was shaped like a long flattened pyrdamid and painted rust red. Aside from a bubble-like cockpit on the dorsal surface (empty, except for glowing controls), an illuminated hatch, doors for what might be landing gear, and what looked like ladders built into the exterior, the forward hull was smooth.
***** ***** *****
The blue-skinned Ralki floated back into the crew compartment. "Our company has arrived." he shouted at Ganje, who followed him into the bubble cockpit for a better look.
Outside, the largish vessel was convieniently decelerating and parking at a fairly close distance. Compared to the obnoxious destroyer that had chased the Lucky Sprinter earlier, it looked roughly the same size, but was a thin cylinder rather than a narrow flying wing. It was also shining bright green navigational lights, which the Fox Country warship had not had the courtesy to turn on.
"Do you know what kind of ship that is?" Ralki asked. "Because sure don't."
"I have no idea." answered Ganje. "Although is it my imagination, or do those look like missile tubes?"
"It's not your imagination. I think it's some kind of warship." Exactly what kind of warship it was, Ralki had no idea. He could only hope it wasn't crewed by militant slave drivers who would sell him, Ganje, and Mirau into slavery. As was, it looked like he'd find out pretty soon; the larger ship was launching some sort of boat, presumably to dock with them.
"I'll light up airlock for them." Ralki announced, flipping another switch in the cockpit. The Lucky Sprinter's airlock was about the size of a miniature closet, and was placed right above the crew compartment, more or less on the top of the hull.
Ganje took another look at the small launch, that was now slowly drifting toward them, powered by tiny thrusters.
"I just thought of something." Ganje announced, idly twidling his black braided hair.
"Oh?" prompted the captain.
"What if they're not oxygen breathers, and haven't carried any containment packets?" he asked.
"Well... we have space suits." Ralki replied. He then paused. "Mirau." he said aloud. Her suit had been damaged when the secondary explosion had taken out the Sublight Drive Core. They had to take off half of the suit to bandage her.
"I'll get an extra suit." snapped Ralki.
"No." Ganje answered. "I'll worry about Mirau. You should put on your helmet and show our guests what part of the ship to stick their boat to."
"But Mirau..." Ralki stammered.
"It's not going to help her much if they miss the airlock and decide to drill into the other Reactor, now is it?" asked Ganje.
Ralki paused. "Okay... you win. Just don't tell anybody."
***** ***** *****
Ganje busied himself with undoing the stretcher, and then transferring the still unconscious pilot into another flight suit. Ralki, on the other hand, was strapping on thrusters to his arms and legs and attaching a clear-visored helmet. Now that he thought about it, stripping a flight suit off of Mirau sounded a lot more fun than shepherding some mysterious aliens to the Lucky Sprinter's airlock. On the other hand, the poor girl was unconscious and possibly dying, which seemed to mitigate any joy in the concept. And, watching Ganje carefully slide the pilot into the yellow flight suit convinced Ralki that the doctor was a better qualified for the job. He doubted he could maneuver Mirau into the space suit without scraping the bandages.
Having finished with the thrusters and the helmet, Ralki snatched the small ion gun from where he was floating in air. It looked something like a steel blue torpedo with a pistol grip, and was a fairly formidable (and illegal) weapon at close range. Just in case. he said to himself. He hoped he didn't have to use it. Especially with a large alien warship floating overhead.
The Foxite floated through the narrow door in the ceiling. He was now in the airlock, little more than a meter-high crawlspace with a hatch on top of it. Folding himself to fit inside it, he closed the bottom door, and heard the hiss as the air departed the small compartment.
Here we go. he thought. He slid the hatch above him open, and floated into the void, staring at empty stars with twin yellow eyes. He at least would have looked humanoid in his flight suit, even if it resembled a green bicycle suit crossed with a coat of plate mail. His blue skin and yellow hair and eyes would probably make him look weirder, although he had no way to know that. Like other Foxites, he was a near-human, but had no idea he was now in a cradle of humanity.
All I have to do now is find them, and try to wave them toward the airlock. Adjusting his direction with the arm thrusters, he floated down toward the hull of the craft, and grabbed at the ladder that was imbeded in it.
In front of him, the mysterious spaceship hung motionless in space, still lit green by eerie lights. Climbing down the ladder toward the ship's bow, he started looking for its boat.
Sin watched the Mouse parade's boat make a slow circuit around the ship from her control center. Her vision split into six camera feeds, she felt like a big space fly, watching events unfold and being unable to influence them. It was a pretty ship, or had been pretty, she mused, watching floodlights reflect off crystaline structures at the 'tail'end of the ship. The Mouse Parade's trembled around her for a moment -- a fusactor working through a particularly pure fuel sample.
The red ship on cameras was definitely not a warship, which left her wondering what exactly caused the damage she was seeing on feeds from both the boat and from her own external cameras. This was Sol after all, the heart of known civilization. Civilian shipping was safe here. Sin chuckled at herself. Sol was hardly civilized; else it would not have contained countless warships ready to destroy one another in seconds in the more populated regions.
“How’re you getting in?” she inquired, linking back to the boat, whose clear nose now pointed at the charred remains of the ship’s rear end. This was assuming the ship’s builders had followed the usual procedure of putting the cockpit on the side opposite the engines.
“There’s a hatch on the other side,” Kyril responded after a moment from the boat. “Smaller than standard. I think we’ve seen enough,” he turned to the boat’s pilot, who nodded before going back to the controls, adjusting the boat’s course. Neither Kyril nor the pilot had noticed anything directly threatening to them or the damaged ship.
Sin sighed, closed her eyes, leaning back in her chair. Kyril knew what he was doing. “If you need me to shoot something, Lieutenant, I’m ready,” she sent, before closing the link once more. She wasn't particularly useful at this stage, unless her assumptions were completely incorrect and that rather interesting ship was about to sprout an oversized spinal cannon.
“Acknowledged,” she could feel Kyril grinning through the microwave beam.
As the egg-shaped boat slowly turned, its miniature thrusters releasing jets of compressed gas, Kyril once again considered the ship outside the clear blister of the boat's cockpit, which was when he finally noticed the person on the ship. It took him a moment to register that.
"Captain, we have confirmation someone in there is alive," he sent to the Mouse Parade, then turned to the pilot. "Can you put a light on him?"
In a few seconds, one of the floodlight beams, now significantly less powerful so as to not blind whomever they had found, was centered directly over the humanoid shape. "Put us next to him," Kyril added, perhaps unnecessarily, as the pilot was already sending the boat towards a spot a few meters away from the person, little streams of gas pushing it in the needed direction.
Ralki was politely climbing down the ship, when a beam of light suddenly zapped him in the face. Momentarily, he froze like a lizard caught in mid-dart.
Slowly turning his visored face up, he saw the alien vessel hovering over him. It was also pointing what looked like a searchlight at him. Forgotten Spirits be damned. Just as I was climbing down, they were floating up beside me.
Feeling a little stupid at being caught surprised, Ralki faked a weak grin. His mind wondered if the occupants of the craft were aliens, and if so, what they would think of that gesture. His mind also noticed that the ship was now thrusting towards him, and pondered that intention. He repressed a reflex to reach for the gun at his belt. We don't want to appear hostile now...
Curiosity finally getting the better of him, the smuggler climbed further up the ladder, trying to peer in to what looked like the ovoid ship's cockpit.
The pilot waved to the person ahead, shutting off the searchlight. There wasn't much else to see and he didn't want to waste power unnecessarily. Sin'd give him hell if the Mouse Parade were to have to rescue its boat because of dead batteries.
Several seconds, two reserve tanks full of the boat’s atmosphere, and ten meters later, a wide panel in the boat's ovoid hull slid out and sideways. A shock reverberated through the boat's hull. Thin armor plating moving smoothly, the four marines walked slowly out of the ovoid craft, attached to its metal hull by presumably magnetic boots. All of them had stubby rifles attached to their belts -- in Sol anything less would have been silly, but only one of them had his in hand, and it wasn't pointed directly at the stranger on the red-painted ship.
"Strange suit," PFC Graham noted on the radio. "Okay, is that blue skin I see there."
Aerospace Defense Force used downgraded combat armor, with an expanded backpack that in the current case contained a small thruster pack, and emergency equipment. Antenna stuck out like elf ears from each helmet, flashing red, white, and gold every few seconds. In an atmosphere, the four marines would have clanged as they stepped off the boat and onto the ship's hull. Four polarized faceplates, impenetrable to normal outside eyes, turned toward the stranger. Kyril raised his right hand, palm facing forward. Now, let's see if this goes to shit, some part of him thought. Communicating to unknown races was not part of regular marine training. But then, knowing Sol’s record for attracting violent newcomers, that little doubtful part wondered if the blue-skinned man –he assumed it was a male – was about to sprout a machine gun or two.
Ralki's hand reached instinctively toward his belt when the four armored figures appeared, stuck to the outside of the alien boat. Then he saw that their weapons were clearly not pointed toward him. Again, he repressed the instinct to draw his gun, and relaxed his arm again. Hopefully, they hadn't seen the gesture, it would be best if they didn't realize that he was armed.
Great... four armored spacetroopers. Ralki thought to himself. Hopefully they were mercenaries or some sort of military patrol; if they happened to be pirates this would go to hell in a hurry. At least they look humanoid, but that was no guarantee of what they looked like outside of those helmets. However... they did seem about the right size for other humans.
Pausing and turning towards Ralki, a member of the creepy assault team raised a gloved palm and pointed it toward him. What the hell does that mean? Ralki asked himself, any sort of gesture being unknown in Fox Country. After a few seconds of looking blankly at the eyeless figures, he turned cautiously and began heading toward the airlock; taping a button on his suit to remotely unseal it.
"Follow," Kyril responded after a moment, sighing in quiet relief. No response was better than an armed response, right? He followed the stranger, using the ladders rather than magnets -- if a chunk of the red ship wasn't metal, he'd find out in a most unpleasant way. "I'm guessing airlock. Charlies, got us covered?"
"Yup," 'Charlie' responded, bringing up the rear with his suit's various equipment 'listening' for signs that this operation was turning sour.
OOCly TAGs and wonders if tis too late to join in?
to Everyone: I'll try to reply to this a little more regularly, instead of clumping my replies along a three-day period.
I had a couple other people inquire about this thread too.
My ruling is that it's closed for now, mainly because the edge of interstellar space shouldn't get too crowded without good reason. However, if you have a really cool or unique (yet plausible) idea on how to join then it's not impossible. Also, if the Weyreans, Foxites, and pirates manage to reach a more populated reason of space, then it will be open for participation, and I'd be glad to have you with us.
Or if you want, the two of us could start a separate RP somewhere; RP ideas are always fun :)
Ralki climbed inside the miniature airlock, followed by a team of shocktroopers that would barely fit inside the cramped confines. The courier's airlock was little more than a 1.4 meter high box, with one circular hatch atop the compartment and another circular hatch below. Labels were written vertically on the walls in curved alien glyphs.
The Foxite smuggler didn't particularly care to squat in the cramped compartment alongside four armored soldiers with rifles, but he didn't seem to have much of a choice.
Hesitantly closing the hatch above him remotely, Ralki pulled a lever internal to the airlock, causing a mix of oxygen and nitrogen to hiss into the red-lit compartment. Pressing a button on his glove, he opened up a com-link to Ganje, inside the vehicle.
"Our *rescuers* are here, and I'm bringing them through the airlock.. They look humanoid, and they happen to be very heavily armed. How is Mirau?" he answered in Fox Speech. Ganje's voice echoed in reply to his helmet.
"I have her inside the suit - and I'm suited up as well."
"Good; I'm sending them in." Ralki answered. With a pop, the lower airlock opened, and in the zero-gravity environment Ralki floated into the crew compartment, then looked up at the shocktroopers as though he expected them to follow.
***** ***** *****
The crew compartment itself was a rather spartan affair; four unruly bunks were built into the side walls, and hatches were placed to the bow and rear. Another hatch in the floor led to an extra cargo compartment, and two small doors near the rear opened to the ship's head and shower. There were no windows, and the only furnishings were a black table with bolted chairs and the ship's compact galley-unit. The entire room was floored with grated steel and painted in a freakish shade of blue by the ship's emergency light.
The doctor had already finished suiting up himself and the injured pilot, and had carefully hidden his fist-sized *cargo* within his suit's internal pockets. His mustard colored suit was a fair bit bulkier than the slim green ensemble Ralki had donned, but the scarlet-skinned Ganje was much more heavyset than Ralki to begin with. Out of the three, Mirau was the most likely to pass for a human on Earth, but she was presently unconscious. Wondering what creatures would come to greet him, Ganje waited by the sleeping pilot.
OOC: No worries here. *Peers at his own backlog* @.@
"Atmosphere stable," the cool, machine-generated feminine voice spoke inot Kyril's ear as the airlock filled with breathables, and opened into the interior. Detecting metal, the four lightly-armored suitsswitched on their magnets, allowing the marines to walk once they extricated themselves out of the airlock.
"Tim, Yu, sweep," Kyril commanded, even though thus far he hadn't seen anything dangerous. Standing at slightly over six feet, his segmented, almost medieval gray armor was completely unadorned, though well-kept, with the insignia of the FDK (http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v485/Weyr/AO-logo.gif), the Aerospace Defense Force (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/japan/images/asdf1.gif), and the Marine sword, ship, and shield etched in black into the chestplate, underneath a long barcode.
"Aye, sir," the two larger marines split, one poking into the shower compartment, before heading into the cargo space, while the other 'walked' through the accessway and into the cockpit, turning on his helmet's flashlight to scan the controls, leaning over to examine them. "Karl, atmosphere?"
"Green, sir," the weapons specialist, the only one visibly holding on to his rifle, responded.
"Clear," Tim and Yu reported. From the moment the four had followed the purple-skinned man out of the airlock, to the moment the sweep had finished, a total of perhaps thirty seconds had passed.
Open, Kyril subvocalized after taking a deep breath.
Slightly shorter than average, Kyril took in the small compartment without the assistance of overly expensive equipment. Long ears folded backwards, pressed against the helm's thick, grayish padding, his naturally brownish skin would have had the pale hue of someone who had spent a long time away from the sun. Okay, so how are we going to do this? he sighed. They probably didn't speak a word of english, or any other language he or the computer knew.
"Use the graphic tablet," Sin grumbled into his earpiece.
"Right," he responded, pulling a thick plastic slab out of his backpack's side pocket. It was a children's toy adapted for use with people who did not or could not speak or write a known language, with a tied-on thin stylus and a picture of a humanoid hand scribbling on a piece of paper already drawn on it. Simple and imperfect, but better than pantomime. He extended it to Ralki, apparently expecting him to take it.
Sounds cool - I'm all for it!
♫I can’t see them anyway
No time to lose
We’ve got to move
Steady your hand
I am losing sight again
Fire your guns
Its time to run
Blow me away♫
Alex focused as he lined up, eyes upon his target; a mental command killing his suit's speakers as another keyed his comm...
A blizzard of fine dust erupting as he swings, trailing the now-strobing ball as it arced into space, brilliant against the darkness; the vauge attraction of gravity growing as it descended upon the near-kilometer bulk of the KAGV Fission Pile floating nearby.
Keying up his neural lace's balistics program, a grin soon split his lupine muzzel as it's trajectory resolved in his mind's eye; over nine hundred meters, cybernetic aid's disabled - the Green little more than a distant smudge - and through the high-gradiant gravity of the atmospheric shield, he was about to... to...
"Bitch," Alex muttered with a chuckle as his ship shifted several meters to his left, nimble upon reactionless drives; ball bouncing across the largly flat dorsal hull, missing the Green entirly; instead rebounding off of an oversized neon sign and... right through the antique plate glass window of Bob's Diner.
That voice now crackling over the radio would be Billy 'Bob' Smith, and...
"Yeah; th'cap'n been a baaaad boy!"
...Commander Sakura Mcdonald, Alex's second in command.
"Riiight," Alex mused in reply, sliding his golf club into it's magnetic harness, "And I supose it was the universe that decided to shift four and a half meters to the right..."
"Nah, Boss, yer just loosing it! See, Bob? Told ya. We're cruising around out here 'round the edge of Sol with a couple teratons worth of ordinance in the van, and he insists on hitting small balls of composite into holes in fake turf with a club! Who the hell plays golf anymore, anyway?"
"Hey, leave me out of this!" Alex could hear laughing in the background.
"That would be your cultural superiors, Commander," he replyed pointedly, his tone nevertheless retaining a hint of humor. Idly considering his next shot, he reset his optics; details but smudges at 20/20 resolving flawlessly - Bob's Diner had been crowded as usual, it turns out, when the errant golfball had droped in, but he didn't recognise any of the few onboard who lacked subdurmal armour, or the ilk, amoungst Bob's patrons; flying glass could do little harm. Good.
"Speaking of business, Captain," his Second continued, changing the subject as subtly as always, "The Whiskers've spotted a couple ships 'round 35 MSK from us on the far side of your golf course; one of 'em looks like it's been half-fraged. Some of the sensor boys think it might be worth a look..."
Alex nodded to himself, pulling up sensor logs even as she spoke; "Right; have a Rec-Drone swing by... and it looks like SolNet picked up a transmission from our cripple out there, not too long aft - books have it flaged as 'Garbled', but it's worth a look. I'm flaging it for you; see if we can't decrypt whatever was sent. Might give us a hint at what happened."
Alex watched the bastardised carrier for moment further befor, with a sigh, collecting his golf bag and feeding power to his suit's IDD coils; lifting off the powdered surface and towards the Fission Pile - Sakura was perfectly capible of handling anything that came up, but as the ship's captain, he should be avalible, just in case.
[/i]...♫I will stay unless I may
After the fall
We’ll shake it off
Show me the way
Only the strongest will survive
Lead me to heaven when we die
I have a shadow on the wall
I’ll be the one to save us all♫[/i]
MSK = Million kilometers.
And why yes, I am listening to part of the Halo 2 soundtrack as I type this. :p
Oh, and yer transmission is said to be 'encrypted' 'cause they don't know your folks' transmission protocalls, and you didn't mention it being plain analog.
OOC: Delay: I was visiting family and decided against spending a lot of time on the internet.
The two Foxites waited as the mysterious armored figures poked through the Lucky Sprinter.
They look about the right size for humans, thought Ganje, although he failed to recognize the strange, angular blue symbol the marines wore. His eyes perked up for a moment as he scanned the mysterious bird and star symbol they bore. We have creatures like that in the home system. The sword was also a familiar enough tool. This made the odds look better that their rescuers were humans.
"It looks like they're military." Ganje's voice cracked through Ralki's helmet.
"Did the rifles give it away?" Ralki asked slyly, as a tablet was thrust at him.
Both Ralki and his older companion peered at the animated hand on the tablet for a second, before Ralki snatched it. He thought for a moment on how to indicate that they needed assistance. Ganje peered over his shoulder. He offered the tablet to the red-skinned man. "You can draw better than me." he explained.
Without ado, Ganje seized the tablet. He had dabbled with art briefly at his university on the Throne World, and fortunately the space suit's gloves afforded enough manual agility for him to practice his talent.
First, the "doctor" scribbled a fairly decent picture of three space suited humanoids, one slender, one heavyset scribbing on a tablet, and one unconscious. He deftly scribbled three vertical lines of characters beside each of the figures. The characters were aliases invented by the three Foxites; Ganje doubted the aliens could read or understand Fox Speech, but he scribbled down the curved letters anyway.
"Ralki - show them our medical kit. Open it up." he clapped. The vessel's captain grabbed the small white box, emblazoned with a crescent-like blue medical seal (the Foxite equivalent of the terrestrial red-cross symbol), and unflipped the lid, showing the marines the contents. Inside was a half-used packet of bandages, various packets of pain killers, stimulants, and other medical drugs, some of them already opened. Ganje made a small drawing of the medical kit
Next, Ganje moved his stylus to the upper right corner of the the tablet. He doddled a smaller version of the medical kit, complete with the flourished crescent seal. He then drew a pyramid of three similar kits below it, and made an arrow coming from the kits to the unconscious drawing of Mirau. He then handed the tablet back to Kyril. Hopefully, they would understand his gesture.
***** ***** *****
As the marines prodded through the ship, they found it largely empty. The cargo space was a flattened cylinder ten meters long and three meters in diameter - it had been emptied, and now showed only beige-colored walls. Previously it had contained a box of rations, which Ganje had already hefted into the crew compartment. The shower was compact, walled in snow-colored crystal, and ventilated by forced air.
Whatever calamity had upset the small needleship, the ship's cockpit seemed largely undisturbed. Surrounded by a large transparent bubble, it was lit by the emerald glow of controls - again marked in a cryptic script. The tunnel leading to it was narrow and padded with a dark-leathery synthetic, and the cockpit itself was just wide enough for two people - with seats built into a single belted couch.
"Okay," the situation, Kyril realized, had just gotten a lot more complicated, and he knew he should've figured out the problem much sooner. On the up side it wasn't an emergency, so to speak. Emergencies usually involved scraping fleshy bits and pieces off various bulkheads. Kyril nodded -- as much as someone could nod inside two hundred kilograms of semi-rigid armor -- quickly drew a circle around the three figures with an arrow pointing at what was an egg and presumably signified the 'boat' still hanging outside, with an arrow from the boat pointing to a somewhat larger rocket-esque tube with a square superstructure signifying the Mouse Parade.
The Mouse Parade was powered by four fusactors situated in pairs at its fore and aft. Under normal conditions, fuel injected into the fusactors' reaction chambers would be broken down, and the resulting energy channeled into power cells lining the outer hull of the tubular ship. As with all power systems, the efficiency was less than a hundred percent, and the resulting 'wasted' energy like heat had to be removed from the ship. Under normal conditions, that was done by venting waste particles from the fusactors through the rear drive.
"Shut down this pair," Mir sighed. "Just...shut it all down." For all purposes she should have been able to monitor the status of the ship's core systems from the CIC. Except someone on the original design team decided that the drive control had to be right next to the rear drive, even if there was no way to manually do anything, and even if there were two identical drive components at different ends of the ship. "Next time you suspect a fracture, you call me. You don't start venting the fusactor's contents out the drive."
"Yes, ma'am," the chief engineer's second nodded.
"Don't 'yes ma'am' me, shut this damn thing down and seal the rear screws before the scanner systems shut down. Skipper, you're going to lose power for a couple of hours."
"Great," Sin sighed over the radio from the other side of the ship. "I can't see anything from behind, and I don't have full power, and we're getting three extra passengers. What next." She considered the weapons control panel, noted the marker torpedoes were finally ready.
KAGV Fission Pile, 35 MSK from Foxite and Weyran vessels, Oposite Comet:
"Alright Hanson, you've got a green light to poke around," Commander Sakura Mcdonald relayed with a chuckle; the massive.. not-quite-hunam sensor tech nodding from his station across the command deck.
"Aye ma'am; I'll have a bird on site in twenty..."
"Twenty minutes?" the Vixen queried, "They're scarcly two light-minutes out..."
"I was planning on aproaching at an oblique angle; make it impossible to pinpoint our location, what with reactionless drives leaving no trail - and I'd rather not send in a good drone, lest they pot it when it goes active."
Sakura simply nodded, satisfied, "Alright, get on it."
As so it was that recon drone BSTRD-RD-473815 came to life; her IDD drive coils charging, probe slipping through the Drone Bay Four's launch tunnel once diagnostics returned green.
It took bare minutes for the basketball-sized craft, a frankenstine of bastardised systems lovingly assembled in the carrier's machine-shop from spares and scrap, to clear the Fission Pile's immediate Zone, engaging her stealth systems and angling 'up' relative the eliptic. High-gain passives focusing upon the pair of forgine craft that were it's destination, it would be some time yet until she began returning data superior to that of more distant arrays.