Boarding

Characters: All
NPC: Chuck and vargr corsairs
Location: Miishakaal (Shiraamer and Vlad on bridge. Rest of crew in crew lounge)
System: Sardia (en route to jump point)

1125.11.7 - 07:20 Imperial Time, 00:20 Vilani Time

Shiraamer looks over at the nav computer:

Distance from planet: 37.8 diameters
Chance of Misjump: 70.0%
Chance of Catastrophic Jump Drive Failure: 27.8%

The comm chimes again. Shiraamer rolls her eyes and then answers it.

Of course it's the corsair captain. His menacing stare is present, though not as intense as when Shiraamer shut off the comm, "My wolves will be docking soon. Leave this channel open pinky. I want a clear line of communication."

"Ok."

He then points to Vlad, "And send him to join the rest of your crew."

Vlad departs the bridge and joins the others in the crew lounge.

"Now send me a data link for your internal security system."

Shiraamer establishes the link. The corsair captain now has access to Miishakaal's internal security system, including all internal cameras.

"Order your crew to lie down on the floorrrrrr."

Shiraamer calls out through the bridge iris, "Guys, the corsair captain wants you to lay down on the floor."

The crew complies.

"And I want the passengerrrrrs there as well."

"Gvarokh, would you please go get the passengers and bring them down here."

Gvarokh heads up the lift and rounds up the passengers. They're nervous and a couple of them are sobbing. He does his best to calm them down but it doesn't seem to help.

07:30 Imperial Time, 00:30 Vilani Time

Proximity alarms sound on the Miishakaal's bridge, sparking off some more crying among the passengers. Shiraamer promptly shuts the alarms off.

Gvarokh reminds the crew that the captain has ordered them not to resist the corsairs.

There's a low-pitched clunking sound as the corsair sub-craft docks with the Miishakaal. A couple minutes pass and then there's a whoosh of air followed by the clanking of boots on the deck.

A figure in combat armor charges into the room, gauss rifle trained on the crew. It sweeps back and forth, making sure everyone is complying with the corsair captain's wishes.

Apparently satisfied, four more figures charge into the room. These are wearing vacc suits and carrying shotguns and automatic rifles. Two stay in the crew lounge and start tying up the hands of the crew and passengers. They're using simple, yet effective, law enforcement grade tie bands. The combat armor corsair keeps watch, his gun trained on the group at all times. No one resists.

The other two head to the bridge. One trains his shotgun on Shiraamer. He snarls, "Hands up."

She obeys.

The other searches her, finds her body pistol and ammo, and removes them.

The lead corsair then orders, "Sit down, pinky!"

She does. The corsair that disarmed Shiraamer then leaves the bridge to assist the others in the crew lounge.

The corsair captain watches with approval through the comm.

The lead corsair commands, "Now, depressurize Engineering, all turrets, and the corridors aft of the lateral cargo locks."

She complies.

"Now, seal those iris valves," he gestures to the two aft doors by the lateral cargo locks, "and open the rest from there aft."

She complies.

"Those too!" He gestures to the two iris valves that exit the ship from engineering.

She complies, leaving the aft half of the ship, except for the cargo hold, exposed to vacuum.

Once the crew and passengers are all tied up, the three pirates scatter. Two head into the cargo hold while the third goes to the ship's locker.

"Open the lockerrr," the pirate on the bridge orders Shiraamer, "and then all the stateroom doors."

She complies.

The pirate who'd been waiting outside the ship's locker, heads in.

Shiraamer notices on the internal security cameras, that the corsairs in the cargo hold have begun to haul out the circuit board containers.

The corsair next to her orders, "Drop the gravity in the cargo hold by two thirds."

She complies and glances over at the nav computer:

Distance from planet: 41.6 diameters
Chance of Misjump: 67.3%
Chance of Catastrophic Jump Drive Failure: 32.4%

Meanwhile, the crew watches helplessly as the solitary corsair hauls gear out of the ship's locker.

He pulls out the shotguns, all bundled together, along with a laser pistol and boxes of shotgun ammo. He carries these past the combat armored corsair and out of sight. He follows this up with the thruster packs and the medkit.

Chuck bemoans the loss of one item in particular, "Not the medkit."

The combat armored corsair answers back through his external speaker, "No talking!"

Once the ship's locker has been plundered of all deemed valuable, that very same corsair heads into the lift for the upper deck. He returns 20 minutes later with two very large and very full sacks as well as various tool boxes and the holocamcorder. He drags these away and doesn't return.

After that corsair exits the lift, the one on the bridge orders Shiraamer to seal the upper deck and then depressurize it. Once she complies, he orders her to open the dorsal iris valve located outside of Lakir's room. She complies with this command as well.

Another 20 minutes go by, Shiraamer is then ordered to depressurize every remaining room on the port side of the lower deck. Once done, he orders her to open the port side lateral cargo lock.

The only remaining parts of the ship not exposed to vacuum are the bridge, the crew lounge, and the cargo hold.

10:00 Imperial Time, 03:00 Vilani Time

It seems like an eternity though it's been just 2 1/2 hours. There's the clunking sound of a ship undocking. Shortly thereafter Shiraamer watches as the pinnace returns to the mother ship.

In the crew lounge, the combat armored corsair dissuades anyone from making a break for it. "Anyone moves, they're dead."

Back on the bridge, Shiraamer asks, "What now?"

"You sit there and keep your mouth shut!" the corsair barks back at her.

She glances over at the nav computer:

Distance from planet: 92.4 diameters
Chance of Misjump: 4.3%
Chance of Catastrophic Jump Drive Failure: < 0.1%

10:45 Imperial Time, 03:45 Vilani Time

The pinnace has returned to the Miishakaal. Shiraamer watches from the bridge as the corsairs go after more cargo.

12:05 Imperial Time, 05:05 Vilani Time

The corsairs appear to have taken their fill of cargo. They're leaving some of it behind. Shiraamer notes on the Environmental control screen that the cargo hold has been depressurized and its locks opened to vacuum.

One of the corsairs that had been loading cargo joins her and her captor on the bridge. The others are standing guard over the crew.

"Stand up," Shiraamer's captor orders.

The new arrival ties her up like the others.

"We're all set here, captain," the bridge corsair says over Miishakaal's comm to the corsair captain.

The corsair captain replies "Goood worrrk lieutenant. Have their Captain disable their sensors and delete and security wipe their sensor logs from the time they left port. Then put her with the others, remove their vacc suit helmets and scatter them as planned, and instruct them not to move from the lounge for 30 minuttesss."

"Do it," the corsair lieutenant orders.

"Computer," Shiraamer starts, "Shut down all sensors and delete sensor logs and backup copy back to 05:45 today. Authorization alpha beta gamma."

The computer replies to Shiraamer's audio commands with an audible reply, "Sensors offline. Sensor logs deleted."

"Move!" Shiraamer feels the butt of shotgun in her back, pushing her into the crew lounge. Once there, she falls to her knees and then rolls over, preferring a controlled fall over one insisted by the corsair.

The corsairs then move about the crew, grabbing their vacc suit helmets and tossing them into a large mesh sack. Once they're all collected, one corsair leaves the crew lounge and disappears. You don't see him again.

The rest of the boarding party gathers at the door while the lieutenant gives final instructions to the crew, "Do not move for 30 minutes! We haven't severed the datalink yet so we'll be watching you through your security system. Don't think for a second that the captain will hesitate to frrrrrraggg you."

The combat armored corsair adds, "And it's a good thing that it was our captain that snared you. If Kagiisha had caught you, he wouldn't have been as merciful."

They then back out of the room and into the air lock. The iris valve closes behind them. Shortly thereafter, the clunking sound of a ship detaching itself from the Miishakaal can be heard.

After The Boarding

Characters: All
NPC: Chuck and passengers
Location: Miishakaal crew lounge
System: Sardia (outbound towards the Kuiper Belt)

1125.11.7 - 12:20 Imperial Time, 05:20 Vilani Time

"That sucked," Vlad growls.

"Are they gone?" one of the passengers asks.

"Yes," Shiraamer answers, "But we're going to wait here for 30 minutes, just as they ordered. We've come this far, I don't want to give them an excuse to fire on us now."

"What are we going to do?" another one whines.

"We're going to lay here and wait. Then we'll assess what the corsairs did to the ship and decide from there."

That settles the matter for now, though there's some whispering among the passengers.

12:50 Imperial Time, 05:50 Vilani Time

The remaining time goes by without incident.

Shiraamer struggles to her feet and then the crew does likewise, "Ok, I want you guys to do a thorough search of the ship..."

Gvarokh interrupts her, "Excuse me, captain. But before we charge ahead, we need to coverrrr a few things. First off, we're all still tied up."

Shiraamer blinks a few times. Apparently, she was so focused on getting the ship back in order that she overlooked that fact.

He continues, "If no one has a better plan, I can try to chew through someone's ties, and then they can cut everyone free. The ties are pretty tight, so whoever gets chewed free will likely get bloody hands and wrists."

No one offers any alternatives.

Shiraamer says, "Chew me free." She states it in a tone that isn't an order, but just shy of it.

Just as Gvarokh starts chewing, the captain reiterates her instructions to search the ship.

Gvarokh stops chewing. "We need to know if our air's been vented or cycled back into the storage tanks. If the air was vented, we don't have enough air to repressurize the rest of the ship. If we can't repressurize the rest of the ship, then things start getting cozy."

Shiraamer listens and nods, "Got ahead of myself again. I was instructed to depressurize engineering, all turrets and the corridors aft of the lateral cargo locks, then seal those iris valves and open the rest from there, aft. That included the two iris valves that exit the ship from engineering. Effectively leaving the aft half of he ship except the cargo hold, exposed to vacuum.

"After they took the cargo, I had to seal the upper deck and depressurize it. Then had to open the dorsal iris valve located outside of Lakir's room. A little later I had to depressurize every remaining room on the port side of the lower deck and open the port side lateral cargo lock. The only remaining parts of the ship not exposed to vacuum are the bridge, the crew lounge and the cargo hold, although I later noticed that according to Environmental control the cargo hold has been depressurized and its locks opened to vacuum. I'll go to the bridge and check once I'm free."

Slade answers, "Sounds like they just cycled the air back into the storage tanks. Unless they vented them afterwards."

Gvarokh finishes up his chewing.

Shiraamer's hands are free with only minor scratches and saliva coated hands. "Good job, Gvarokh," she says.

As she heads to the galley to wash his hands and grab a knife, Gvarokh asks, "Did they take our helmets or just scatter them?"

"I heard them say to 'scatter the helmets' but I didn't get a chance to see where." She then cuts Gvarokh's bindings, hands the knife to him, and heads to the bridge.

No one else seems to know either.

On the bridge, the unfriendly face of the corsair captain is gone, replaced by a black screen with the words, "No signal" in his place. Looking outside, Shiraamer sees only stars. "They're either gone," she says loud enough for everyone to hear, "or they've just disconnected themselves from our ship. Either way, they're not watching us anymore."

Her eyes scrutinize the life support system and then she breathes a sigh of relief. "We're ok on life support. They didn't vent our air." She then closes all external iris valves and begins re-pressurizing the other parts of the ship.

She's about to return to the lounge when she notices the comm flashing. Apparently someone put the external signal on "mute." The starport is hailing again.

Shiraamer answers the starport but is still very careful about what she says since she doesn't know if the corsairs are still listening. "Sorry for the delay in answering, starport, please repeat your message. This is Captain Shiraamer Siirkasaare."

A Vilani bureaucrat, wearing the regulation starport uniform appears on screen, "This is Sardia Down calling the Miishakaal. Do you require assistance?"

"Thank you for your offer but I'll need to get back to you on that. I haven't had time yet to run a systems check." A look of surprise crosses the bureaucrat's face as he cuts the line and returns to the crew lounge.

Gvarokh has just finished untying the last of the crew when she enters. Chuck is going over the galley's inventory while Lakir is checking out the ship's locker. The others are still rubbing their wrists while they wait for the air to cycle back into the rest of the ship.

Shiraamer address the passengers, "I commend you on doing a good job of going along with the orders even though it was tense and I'm glad that you are still alive." She ignores the puzzled looks on a couple of their faces. "I have to ask you to be more patient and return to your quarters and wait there until I know the status of our situation a bit more."

One of the male passengers asks, "Are we headed back to Sardia?"

"Right now it is more important that we get the ship repressurized and take stock of what we have left. Then I'll be able to give you an update."

But the passenger isn't placated so easily. "Well, have you at least contacted the starport to ask for assistance?"

Gvarokh was about to start cutting the binds off of the passengers, but now he's waiting for this situation to play itself out.

Shiraamer looks carefully at the passenger and stares him in the eyes. "The longer you keep me here answering questions delays us even further. My crew will escort you to your quarters and you'll be filled in at the earliest available moment." Shiraamer gives Gvarokh a nod to carry on and she leaves to go back to the bridge to do status checks.

"We have a legitimate right to know what you intend to do," the passenger says. "Are we your prisoners now?" he shouts at her back as she walks away. There are grumbles of agreement amongst the other passengers.

Slowly and carefully, Gvarokh says, "You are only prisoners if you choose to be. However, the captain is still trying to assess our situation. Are you really that desperate to get back to Sardia?"

The passenger replies undaunted by what could be interpreted as a veiled threat, "I'm not anxious to go back. I never said anything of the sort! But a crime has been committed against all of us and the authorities need to be notified. And no, we don't choose to be prisoners, but it's starting to sound like we are." The passengers voices rise in volume in agreement.

Gvarokh responds, "Of course a crime has been committed. However, the pirates are gone. Everything they took is gone. There will be no justice. There will be no retribution. There will be no recompense. What has happened is done and will never be undone.

"Given that, what do you want? Do you really want to tell Sardia control everything that happened? If we do that, we are obligated to return and make full dispositions. There will be a full investigation, and those take time; lots of time. And when it is done, there is no guarantee they will be finished with you before they are finished with us.

"So, why not give our captain and crew the chance to see if we can make the jump or not? This may be our only chance to go for a long time."

Unfazed, the lead passenger counters, "Yes, that's what I want. And I believe that's what we all want."

To which the other passengers add positive affirmations like "Yeah", "Yes", "That's right", and "Uh huh."

"And the only way that we can file a claim with our insurance companies is if there is an investigation. And I'm sure that the companies that were paying you to carry their products to Theton would like to file insurance claims on their lost cargo as well. Can't do that without an investigation."

While Gvarokh deals with the passengers, Shiraamer busies herself on the bridge. The comms are already up and running. They were never down. She fires up the passive sensors, which aren't detecting anything in the vicinity of the ship. Meanwhile, the air has cycled back up to 80% of standard air pressure.

She can hear the crap that Gvarokh is putting up with out in the crew lounge. She decides to help him out. She announces over the shipwide comm, "This is Captain Shiraamer, all stations give me a status report as soon as possible. I told the authorities on Sardia that I would call them back after the passengers were verified to be ok and I had a status report. I don't want to wait much longer. Shiraamer out."

The crew look blankly at one another. Vincent says over the crew comm, quietly so that the passengers don't hear, "We can't inspect the ship until life support finishes re-pressurizing."

She replies over the same line, "I know that silly. I wanted the passengers to relax a bit. And I did say 'as soon as you can.'"

At this point, Chuck steps in between Gvarokh and the passengers, "Guys. Guys. Let's not argue. Now, Misterrrrr...."

"Kilikakigir"

"Mister Kilikakigir, this is the first time that this ship has been attacked by pirates. It's as upsetting for them as it is for you." He turns to face Gvarokh, "Mister Gvarokh will see to it that your concerns are expressed to the captain and that she follows regulations." He nods at Gvarokh, his facial expression, unseen by the passengers, implies that he'd better see to it. Turning back to face Kilikakigir, he continues, "Meanwhile, we really need to get out of the way so that the crew can make sure that there aren't any bombs or booby traps on board."

"Bombs?"

"Yes, sometimes pirates leave surprises for the crew that they've just ransacked. Rather than killing them outright, they move to a safe distance and watch as the relieved crew go about their business only to discover that the ship they're on is going to blow. Malevolent bastards those pirates."

"You don't think..."

"Well, you can never be too careful." He takes the knife out of Gvarokh's hands, gives him a wink that the passengers miss, and continues, "So, if you'll just follow me back up to the passenger lounge, I'll get you untied and then get you something to drink. Okay?"

"Well, uh, ok."

The passengers comply with Chuck's request and follow him to the lift.

At the lift, Chuck says to Gvarokh, "Mister Gvarokh would you please send Vlad or someone up with the bomb sniffer to check the passengers' rooms?"

Gvarokh gets it. "Yes, Mister Strider. I shall."

Next: Getting The Ship Back In Order