NPC: Chuck, 6 medium passengers, 4 low passengers (unconscious)
Location: Miishakaal, en route to jump point
With such a short transit time to jump, Shiraamer and Gvarokh have remained
on the bridge. Everyone else has remained at their posts.
A warning light flashes on Gvarokh's console.
"What uh oh?"
More warning lights flash and console alarms buzz. Gvarokh immediately returns to his old military form. "We've been scanned. Passive sensors are picking up a bogey which may be on an intercept course. I'm also detecting targeting scanners. Shall I go active?"
"Yes. We need to know who we're dealing with."
Gvarokh fires up the active ems array.
The results come back within seconds. Gvarokh reports without taking his eyes away from the console, "Ok, we're looking at a 600 ton vessel. The computer is 97% certain that it's a Enkongsuerrgvo class packet. Target is 291,000 klicks out and closing. Looks like they were hiding behind Sardia's moon. The good news is that if the computer's right, they're as slow as we are. It's the vargr equivalent of a subsidized liner. Visuals coming in. Yeah, it looks like an Enkongsuerrgvo." Gvarokh stops talking and lets out a low growl. "What?"
"She's painted. It looks like red and green stripes and.... a large flaming eye."
"Pirates. Damn it."
As if on cue, the ship is hailed. Gvarokh turns on the comm.
The Vargr Captain looks at you down the comm with bared teeth and his ears back along his head. His voice is fierce with a no nonsense tone. Gvarokh and Vlad can easily tell he has charisma to back up his attitude. "Vilani Merchant vesselll. Stand to and prepare to be boarded. Shut down all engines, sensors and weapons. Non-compliance will be met with deadly forrrce. You have 60 seconds to commmplyyy." Gvarokh immediately runs the densitometer scan.
Shiraamer knew that 60 seconds wasn't long but would still feel like an eternity. After making sure that Gvarokh had cut the transmission and vid feed so the pirates couldn't see or hear them, she said hurriedly, "Gvarokh, we don't have much time. Have the boys hide some of our weapons and hopefully the pirates won't get them all. Make sure that some of them look like they were hidden but not the greatest. Also try and hide some of our covert stuff that we took for this mission. We need to hide some of our creds, but not all, from the safe. I'm sure they'll want to look in that. We gotta ride this one out and eat our pride. Hopefully we'll come out of it ok as well as our passengers. Tell the passengers we're about to be boarded and I suggest they not put up resistance for their own safety sake. If it was just us old friend, I would try and run or fight, but we have an obligation to those we are carrying. As long as we can keep Miisha and fuel, we have a chance to live and fight another day."
After looking at the scans, Gvarokh says, "It looks like they have an up-powered, over-gunned liner. With all of the paints we are getting, it looks like they are fully loaded. They have a 3:1 turret advantage over us. Pretty shitty odds. The good news is that they look like they haven't added any armor."
The Vargr has kept the comm channel open on his end. While he can't see or hear what they're doing, he knows from experience that they're trying to stall him. "Vilani Merchant vessel. Stand to. You have 30 seconds to compllly."
The crew see him pick up his hard helmet for the Vacc suit he is wearing as he turns to another comm (probably the internal one) and says "Clear for combat."
He turns back to the channel you see him on and just looks intensely at you still with his teeth bared and his ears back along his head.
Gvarokh has ignored the corsair and turned his volume down low so that he can talk over him, "That all said, I would rather go down fighting than be slaughtered like cowards. Based on the evidence we have, there is no particular reason to believe they're telling the truth. They will obviously will kill any in their way. There is no reason to believe we are not in their way if we surrender. In fairness, though, that survivor from the Roundhead did mention that the captain ran. But, it's your ship and your call." He adds with obvious sarcasm, "Can you actually trust those treacherous Vargr?" He pauses to let it sink in. "This would be an easier choice if we weren't loaded with passengers. If you want to fight, I know the crew is with you."
Gvarokh gets up and leaves the bridge.
At the 50 second mark, Shiraamer contacts the pirates again, "You win. You've got us out gunned."
The Vargr Captain's ears pop up from the side of his head, but his teeth are still bared as he replies in a slightly lighter voice, "Good choice pinkkkyyy. Point your turrets away from this shippp. Leave your transponder on and turn off all drives, and sensors. If your turrets move, or you use your sensors, or you poweerrr up your drives I will use deadly forrrce. This is your only warninnnggg."
His ears come back down against his head and his voice gets fiercer as he continues, "Send me your registration details and your crew, passenger and cargo manifests. You have 30 seconds to compllly."
Shiraamer glances down at navigation. Miisha is now 5.7 diameters from Sardia with a velocity of 69,818 kph (41,891 mph).
She silently consents to his demands and shuts off the engines and sensors. She then sends a copy of the various manifests and registration form to him.
His ears come up from his head once more, "If you use your comms in any way other than to reply to me I will respond with deadly forrcce. This is your only warninngg, and make sure you are personally on the bridge to respond to me pinkkyyy other wise I will engage." He closes the circuit but not before Shiraamer thinks she hears him mutter, "Hairless."
Although her vacc suit keeps her warm, a chill runs up her spine.
Once the bridge door closes, Gvarokh signals the crew on their internal comms, "Power down and leave the turrets. Lakir and Slade, meet me at the ship's locker. Everyone else, hide shit you want to keep real good, hide some well, leave most where it should be. We have to hurry."
He then switches to ship broadcast. "Attention crew and passengers of the Miishakaal. We have been cornered by corsairs, are outgunned, and can't run. We are about to be boarded. All passengers are required to remain in their quarters. If confronted by corsairs do exactly what you are told. Do not resist or be a hero. It will only make the situation worse and guarantee your death."
Slade heads for the locker. He's going to rescue his subgun and all ammunition for it, and hide it in one of the restrooms, perhaps, under the throne. Along the way he private comms the Captain and Gvarokh, "If we have an hour and you don't count on getting the ship back, I'd be glad to shave a few nanometers off the thrust face of secondary compressor bearing for the powerplant heat exchanger. Done right it'll be undetectable for some time, then degrade and fail badly sometime in the next eight hours of use. We have a spare that I can hide.
"If we have even more time, we can hack the plant to go nova on a signal from one of us, though that would be a bit more... detectable. Really detectable."
At this point, Chuck has arrived at the ship's locker, "What can I do to help, Gvarokh?"
NPC: Chuck, 6 medium passengers, 4 low passengers (unconscious)
Location: Miishakaal, en route to jump point
Gvarokh is standing at the door to the ship's locker with Chuck. The captain
is hanging at the iris valve to the bridge, just a meter or so away. Lakir and
Vlad are there too. Slade and Simrii are just entering the crew lounge from
Slade looks from Gvarokh to Shiraamer, "Well? What do you think of my idea?"
Chuck does the same, "What's the plan, Captain? Gvarokh?"
Vincent wants to get into the locker, "Well, I know what I plan on doing, and that's hiding my gauss rifle."
"They're not gettin' my sub gun either," Slade says.
Lakir adds, "If we can't run, can jump and die, or get trashed in a ship-to-ship duel, maybe we take them as they board. What's the specs on the passengers we took on? Good in a fight, or maybe as bait? We got some good close combat firepower in the ships locker now. I'm thinkin' that I don't wanna' be puppy chow quite yet."
Slade adds, "If I hide my subgun then I can't shoot anybody with it. If they take the ship I lose my gun. If we let them board they take the ship. If we give up, I figure our chances of being enslaved, killed, or dumped penniless on a caustic rock are pretty high. I'm leaning toward suiting up and shooting them when they come in."
Gvarokh opens the locker to all of the crew, "Select what you feel are important items to hide. However, if someone tries to take too much, I will stop you. The locker still has to look full."
The crew head into the locker to start grabbing their weapons. Vincent grabs his gauss rifle. Slade grabs his SMG. Vlad grabs all of his weapons, even his weapon sim.
Lakir has grabbed both of his guns and is mulling over how much ammo to grab. He asks, "How we shaping up to ambush the boarders as they enter the ship? - or are we....?"
Simrii, Chuck, and Gvarokh wait outside.
Slade adds, "These are just my thoughts: if we fight and don't win we all die. If we don't fight, I give it a 90% chance that we all die, 10% that we're enslaved and split up, never to see each other again. Hide whatever you want in the ship but if they win, or we give up, they take the ship and everything in it, and we won't be getting it back. So, in my opinion, if we don't fight we get nothing. If we do, and they want the ship badly enough to drag it out, we might get some help from the angry locals before they take us. These idiots didn't come in quietly and we're still close to the planet that they just hit. Or we can risk the misjump which is another decent plan."
Simrii looks at the others and says in a quiet and deadly calm voice, "What's the resolution on any sensors they're likely to have? Do you think they could spot a couple guys in vacc-suits once they get in close?"
Vincent is out of the locker now. He answers, "Maybe. It depends on if they've upgraded the array or not. But a couple guys might be able to hide in a sensor shadow. What do you have in mind?"
"I'm thinking maybe we could limpet mine their hull when they hook on or at least limpeting their turrets and engineering or drives."
"One problem: we don't have any explosives."
The crew are definitely talking about resisting the boarders.
To the captain, who is silently watching her crew, Gvarokh asks, "Do you want me to get the Mersshon's holocrystals from your quarters before the pirates arrive?"
Putting on her best poker face, Shiraamer watches the crew. She nods to Gvarokh, "Go ahead and get the crystals Gvarokh. Besides on us, do you have a good place to hide them?"
He replies, "That's where I was going to hide them."
Shiraamer grins at Gvarokh and nods. Make a copy of them and give me one and you hide one. Hopefully that will give us a better chance.
Gvarokh also suggests to the captain that she lock all doors to the passenger level. "We don't want any of them leaving their cabins or common area."
Taking a breath, Shiraamer, now that the initial surprise of the pirates is over with, knows it's time to talk to the crew about what they will be doing. "We've been through a lot together and we'll get through this also guys. I don't want any of the passengers to leave their rooms. Lock them all in and if they are alive afterwards to protest, we'll take care of that at the time. They've been told we're to be boarded and the last thing we need is trigger happy civilians getting US killed. I'm not even convinced that some of them might not rat us out and/or are plants for the pirates. Keeping them locked down will be one less distraction for us."
The crew seem to be going forward with plans to resist but the captain hasn't given the order yet.
Gvarokh decides to slow things down a bit with some rational points, "Any attempt at armed resistance needs to be abortable at any point prior to implementation. If they don't have significant enough of a boarding crew, then resistance is useless as the boarders are expendable to the main pirates."
"I'm confused. Are we fighting or not?" Slade asks.
Everyone turns to look at the captain for an answer.
"I know that you want to fight our way out of this. Hell, I don't want to have to give up Miisha myself but it's not always about us. I approximate we might have 30 minutes before they will be here. Maybe less, maybe longer. Do not rig Miisha to blow up. We wouldn't ever have a chance to get her back. I haven't run across these particular pirates before but by what we have heard from those we rescued there IS a chance that we'll come out of this alive. When dealing with pirates, as all of you know, it's a game of chance.
"In 30 minutes or less, can you put time bombs in the cargo? I was thinking of perhaps using a P-Com as a detonator like a remote control, if need be. Perhaps set an alarm on a p-com and the ring tone would be what sets it off. Is that possible guys? If they're as smart as they think they are, they could still notice it but it would also be logical that we have some sort of safeguard for just this type of occasion. They'll be knowing what we have for cargo so take that into consideration."
Clearly annoyed at a conversation that he perceives to be a complete waste of precious time, Vlad barks out, "Captain, we have NO explosives on board and NO time to make any with the materials at hand. Does that change your mind about anything? Do we fight?!?"
Shiraamer stops as it dawns on her what was just said, "We don't have any explosives? By the Gods, we'll have to plan better next trip." Shiraamer sighs and stops to think a bit. Soon she comes to a decision and looks up at her crew. "Ok, we still don't fight this time. We'll take a chance and hope for the best. Do NOT aggravate them when they board. We need to be alive in order to continue on and we still have our passengers to think about. After we get out of this, and yes, I'm planning on getting out of this, we'll have a meeting and start to rethink some things."
Vlad shakes his head disapprovingly but says nothing.
Now that a decision has been made, Gvarokh leaves and heads through the cargo hold. His comm turned on to listen in.
"We'll want our drives and power plant to be ready for a quick start up so we can power to guns, jump drives, etc. That means it has to be accomplished in two minutes or less. They asked to power down, which we have but we're not shut off since we still have life support up. We'll need that quick power up in order to try and get closer to our jump point. We might have to jump before it, but it is suicide if we jump from where we are at. THAT option will be our last resort."
Slade replies, "Our power plant is up and already running at normal. The maneuver drive is still warm and can be turned on at a moment's notice. The jump drive needs ten minutes to be usable. There's no getting around that. But there's a possibility of using the maneuver drives as a weapon against their hull."
Shiraamer looks at Slade, "Explain more about using the maneuver drive as a weapon. Wouldn't that leave us dead in the water? Would it be obvious if they looked?"
Slade answers, "If they pull in close with their ship to connect lines and send their people over, if you're feeling uppity, you can floor it in a tight turn and do a burn down their hull. Get lucky and you can take out some of their maneuver jets or even their main drive, so that we can stay on the burned side of their hull as we pull away and they'll have less turrets to target us. Of course if they send a little boat over to deliver their guys, that doesn't work so good."
Shiraamer ponders the possibility of the maneuver drive as a weapon and decides against it. "We'll not do the drive as a weapon. This time we'll play it safe for the sake of our passengers. If, no make that when, we get into jump, we'll go ahead and have a meeting for other possibilities.
"It's time to swallow or redirect the testosterone. It's time for stealth. If they want our stuff, then so be it. We're not going to fight them and give them an excuse to kill us outright. This time they have us. We need to live to have our revenge. I repeat, we are NOT going to resist when they board. If I'm wrong and we don't survive then you have eternity to tell me 'I told you so'." Shiraamer looks out at her crew. "Just in case some of you are correct about the worst case scenario, I want you to know that you're the best crew I've had. You're more then crew to me, and I think you all know it. I want you all to be around after this is over to help advise on how to prevent some of this NEXT time."
Shiraamer looks at her chrono and back at the crew again. "The clock is ticking and you have your orders."
"Roger that," Slade says, "Then I'm going to put my subgun and ammunition down in engineering in a place no sane engineer would ever want to look. In between the gel condenser coils. I hate the gel condenser coils."
As the crew gets back to grabbing their weapons, Shiraamer adds, "Now, for a more personal request. I need one of you to go into my quarters and hide some of my stuff. Don't tell me where you hid it, just return it afterwards. I told them that I would comply with their request not to leave the bridge. That doesn't mean I donít want some of my stuff hidden also. I never agreed not to have somebody else do it for me. Sometimes the best poker face is truth. Will one of you volunteer to hide some of my stuff while I pretend to be terrified of the big bad wolves. I also need a throw away gun that I can have on my person. They will probably expect me to have a gun on and, of course, they will take it away from me."
Simrii volunteers, "Tell me what you need hidden and I'll hook you up oh and let me know what you want as a throw away and we'll do that too." The thin gunner pushes his hair back and grins, "You know how to use a Sub?" He produces a bullpup weapon from behind his back. "I can hide this somewhere near the bridge if you'd like, I hear it's the latest in feminine protection."
Vincent also volunteers, "I'll go and hide some of your stuff. Anything urgent that needs hiding or just use my common senses?"
"Thanks guys. Well I'll leave it up to you guys to figure out what to hide. Most of it will be jewelry but you know there are some special pieces there. I usually only use a snub. As for the latest thing in feminine protection, that's what you guys are for isn't it?" Shiraamer decides not to go down the feminine logical leap on that line and instead turns to Vincent, "Thanks Vincent. I'll let you decide what to hide."
Gvarokh returns at this point and hands a holocrystal to Shiraamer, who stuffs it inside her vacc suit.
"I'll be on the bridge if you wish to contact me." Shiraamer returns to her chair on the bridge.
Gvarokh then asks the group, "While we are hiding things, is there a way to hide any of us?"
His question is answered with blank startes and silence.
The crew scatters to hide their weapons.
Next: Waiting To Be Boarded