NPC: Chuck & Oda
Gvarokh has piloted Miishakaal through Limii's central access corridor
and begun the ship's descent to Theton. The ship coasts at a reasonable speed
so as to not arouse any suspicion at Limii Traffic Control. Gvarokh dons his
vacc suit while Shiraamer watches the helm for him.
"So, how are we doing this?" Gvarokh asks.
The captain replies confidently, "We pretend we're heading to Harod, where the downport is. Once we're in the thick of the atmosphere, we break off and head out over the ocean. Once we're far enough away from Harod, you take the ship down below the radar until we get to the prison island. At that point, you shoot up to look routine again and I'll hail them to let them know we're coming in for a prisoner transfer. While I'm talking to them, you go ahead and land the ship outside the gate, but make sure you leave Vincent enough room to take out their comm tower."
"I haven't flown nap of the earth in a while." Gvarokh finishes zipping up his suit and cracks his knuckles. "It'll be like I'm back in the Navy."
Shiraamer nods, "Except Miisha's a bit more dainty than anything you flew back then."
"No worrrrrries," Gvarokh replies with a wink.
Down in Engineering, Slade readies his gear while keeping an ear out for any warning signs from the Fuel Purification Plant. He thinks that, in a pinch, he can commingle the fuel from the bladder with the main fuel in order to reduce the overall impurities in the fuel sucked into the jump drive. But he's hoping it won't come to that.
Meanwhile, in the air raft garage, Vlad, Lakir, Chuck, and Simrii are readying the air raft. The spare vacc suits are packed. Chuck loads the medkit in a backpack. Each member wraps their weapons with shrink wrap.
After Vlad has finished with his instructions, Lakir asks, "So Vlad, what's the plan, man?"
"We hope that the captain's plan works. If not, we find out just how good a shot she is."
"We're not all going at once, are we? Chuck asks.
"No," Vlad replies. "Simrii drives. The captain rides shotgun. Me and Lakir ride in back."
"So what do I do?"
"You and Slade are backup. If the shit hits the fan, follow us in. You two will be responsible for covering our flank, making sure we can get back out. We'll all stay in constant contact with our comms."
Lakir adds, "No probs, Vlad. They got armour, I got the HEAP; 'else you're goin' first." To the others, he says, "If we gotta go hot, first one in is either me or Vlad. Lead will take 5 steps in, and spray forward, not breakin' 90. Second goes right, third goes left, fourth assess and moves. Try not to hit me or Vlad in the back. Just like we practiced 'way back in the shoot house', 'fore we got outta this shit. We all done the 'time', lets try getn' it right if it hit's the air movement device."
Simrii grunts. "Been there, done that."
Slade, who's still in Engineering, asks over his comm, "Do we have anything that can deal with powered armor?"
Vlad replies, "Other than the HEAP ammo we've got, no. If we get in a pinch, I'll bite them while Simrii runs into them with the air raft." He adds one of those twisted Vargr gut buster laughs afterwards.
Simrii adds, "I doubt they'll have powered armor. That shit's too expensive to waste on prison guards. They need all the battledress they can get their hands on up at the front where the real fighting is."
"I hope you're right."
Slade shrugs (which Slade can't see), "If I'm wrong, we run away. No sense dying over this job."
Once the atmosphere has become opaque enough to muddy starport sensors,
Gvarokh changes course. He heads north of Harod and then resumes his descent to
the surface. Upon reaching the tumultuous acidic ocean, Gvarokh levels off and
flies just over the wave crests and just below radar.
He makes it look easy as he effortlessly skims across the sea.
The ship reaches the island. Gvarokh brings the ship up to make them visible
to the prison. This is, after all, a routine prisoner transfer.
Once the ship's sensors detect that the ship has been scanned by the prison's sensors, the captain hails the prison. "This is Captain Shiraamer Siirkasaare of the Miishakaal requesting clearance to land. Over."
The line is a bit staticy due to atmospheric interference, but the reply is clear enough at this range. "This is TIC 1. Please state your business."
Shiraamer hits mute and asks, "TIC 1?"
Oda replies, "I think it's short for 'Theton Internment Compound number one'."
"Oh, ok." She deactivates mute. "Prisoner transfer."
There's a few seconds of silence. "I don't have any prisoner transfers scheduled for today."
"No, of course not. It's unscheduled. Makhidkarun Intelligence just initiated the transfer a couple hours ago."
There's a sigh on the other end. "We don't appreciate unscheduled activity. Please land and be sure to present your paperwork to the guards at the gate. TIC 1 out."
Once the comm channel is closed, Shiraamer lets out a big sigh of relief. "Well, we've got our foot in the door. Let's get rolling everyone."
"Good luck," Gvarokh tells her.
"Thanks. We're going to need it." She looks wistfully around at the bridge for a couple of seconds. "Keep an eye on Miisha while I'm gone, ok?"
"Will do," Gvarokh smiles.
Shiraamer leaves the bridge and heads to the upper deck. There's a slight rumble as the ship touches down on the bedrock. The prison party have assembled themselves in the air/raft, which is parked in the garage. After she climbs in the air/raft, she gives the all clear sign to the garage monitor. Gvarokh then closes the iris and opens the garage door.
Simrii starts up the air/raft and drives it out of the ship and down to the prison gate.
Simrii slowly drives up to the gate. It comes across as a bit of a joke since
the crew is in a grav vehicle. There's really nothing it can do to impede their
progress. It's more of a formality.
A red light flashes "halt" and Simrii complies.
The guardpost, which looks to be roughly 3 meters by 3 meters, is a plastic shack immune to the corrosive effects of the atmosphere.
"Command says that you're here for a prisoner transfer. Is that correct?"
"Yes," Shiraamer replies.
"Please transmit your authorization papers."
Shiraamer presses hard with her gloved finger down on the shrink wrapped PDA. If the situation wasn't so dangerous it would be comical.
The guards review the documents for a couple of minutes, but for the crew it seems interminably long.
Fortunately, the guards are satisfied with what they see. The red light switches to green while the gate arm raises up. "Please drive over to the administration building airlock and see the officer of the day."
"Thank you," Shiraamer says politely.
Muted sighs of relief pass through the crew as Simrii drives the air/raft over to the administration building. The gate closes behind them.
Location: TIC-1 Admin Building (Shiraamer, Simrii, Lakir, and Vlad) and Miishakaal (Gvarokh, Chuck, Vincent, Slade, and Oda)
Simrii parks the air/raft in front of the air lock for the administration
building. All four on board climb out of their grav vehicle with their weapons
and the vacc suits for the prisoners. The extra gravity makes their gear feel
heavier than it is, forcing them to meander their way to the air lock. Once
inside, overhead showers rinse the crew's vacc suits of any acidic gases or
moisture clinging to them. After half a minute, the water ceases and a
depressurizing blast of air dries them off. A light flashes green at the other
end of the air lock and the door slides open.
The four crewmen walk into a well lit 5 x 5 meter room. There are numerous plastic chairs along the walls. Ceramic tile, a dull tan with hints of bronze, covers the floor, which is marked by small drain holes spaced out every meter or so. The walls match. There are three doors besides the airlock door they came through. One on each wall. The doors to the left and right are non-descript, but the door in front of them is made of transparent polyacrylic, the reinforcing steel bars clearly visible.
Security cameras are mounted in each corner and a dome extends down from the ceiling in the middle of the room.
Two guards in cloth armor stand in the back of the room clutching assault rifles. Both look to be in their mid-20's and are of slight build.
Also towards the back of the room, just to the right of the door, is a polycarbonate desk with a man sitting behind it. He looks to be about 30 years old and has the same physique as the guards. He's wearing cloth armor with a Vilani army captain's rank insignia. Across the top of the desk reads "Officer of the Day." He's staring at a monitor as you enter the room.
There's a thick yellow line about a meter away from his desk. Shiraamer approaches it, alone, but doesn't cross it. The rest of the crew remain a meter behind her, side-by-side.
The Officer of the Day (OotD) breaks away from the screen and asks, "May I help you?"
"Prisoner transfer," Shiraamer replies succinctly.
"May I see your papers, please?"
Shiraamer transmits the forms.
The OotD returns his attention to the screen. After 30 seconds he says, "You can take your helmets off. The air's quite breathable in here."
"No, thank you," Shiraamer replies, "I don't intend to stay for long and these helmets are a pain in the butt to put back on."
"Suit yourself, but no internee may be released without the written authorization of the camp commandant."
"I should think not."
He returns his gaze to Shiraamer. "My point is that this could take a while."
"I'm quite comfortable, thanks," she smiles back at him.
The OotD gives up and returns his attention to the form on his screen.
After 5 minutes have gone by, he says, "You're supposed to use a separate form for each detainee. You've got the entire family on one form."
"Sorry, that's what MI gave me." She uses acronyms to make it seem like they're veterans.
"Well, they should know better. I'll let it go, this time, but review your paperwork next time."
"I'm just a courier. I don't think that MI would want me to go snooping through their records."
"This," he gestures at the screen, "is ok to check for errors." He stands up. "Let's go see the commandant."
Lakir, Simrii, and Vlad are about to follow when the OotD adds, "Your crewmen can wait here."
Shiraamer looks back at the trio and gives a reassuring nod that she'll be ok. She then follows the OotD to the far door. He slides a card key through a slot. There's a ka-chunk sound as locks are released. The OotD opens the door and gestures for the captain to go inside.
The guards make sure the crew don't attempt to follow her.
The door closes. The captain and the OotD are seen entering the first door on the right, 2 meters away.
Returning their attention to the guards, the trio notice the insignia for the guards is the Vilani Army's 115th Regiment of Foot. While this doesn't mean anything to Simrii, Vlad and Lakir recognize it. It's the former regiment of Colonel Enli Khiigshiikll, Captain Lishenii, and RSM Miigaki. They were passengers aboard the Miishakaal as it went from Ashki to Sardia. The colonel and his fellow officers were transferred to 2nd Battalion Uukegdi, 7th infantry division, Theton 3rd Army, while the rest of their unit went to parts unknown.
Location: Commandant's Office (Shiraamer) in the Admin Building (Simrii, Lakir, and Vlad) and Miishakaal (Gvarokh, Chuck, Vincent, Slade, and Oda)
Shiraamer isn't keen on being separated from the rest of the crew but she
doesn't let it show. The Officer of the Day (OotD) leads her a short distance
down the hall to the Commandant's Office. The OotD knocks.
"Enter," the Commandant says, sounding a bit disappointed.
The Commandant's office is decently sized at 2.5 x 2.5 meters. The decor is limited to a polycarbonate desk with two chairs in front of it. A few photographs of officers and soldiers are hung on the walls, along with what appear to be commendations for the commandant's work in the military. On his desk is a monitor and nothing else.
The Commandant, who is sitting at the desk, looks to be in his mid-40's and of average build. Besides his uniform, he wears a headset comm. Shiraamer thinks he's not bad looking. If the situation were different....
"Commandant," the OotD starts, "We've got an unscheduled prisoner transfer. I sent you the form."
"I see it."
"In their haste they screwed up the paperwork. They put all four detainees, a family, on one form."
The Commandant doesn't seem alarmed by this error.
"I told the captain that each prisoner requires their own form."
The commandant looks at the screen for about a minute. "Yes, other than that, everything appears to be in order. We'll let it go this time." He takes a stylus out of a drawer, taps the screen, then signs his name on the desktop. Once completed, he says to the OotD, "Release authorized."
The OotD salutes. To Shiraamer he says, "Wait here. I'll be back in a few minutes with your prisoners." He leaves the room.
The Commandant gestures to the seats across from him. "Have a seat. It'll be a few minutes before he gets back."
"Thank you," Shiraamer says as she sits down.
"So, have you been working for Makhidkarun long, Captain Siirkasaare?"
"No, this is our first job. And please, call me Shiraamer."
"Alright Shiraamer. That means we should be seeing more of you." He winks.
Shiraamer smiles but doesn't say anything.
"Things are much better now that the Bureaux have been restored. There's so much more order now than there was before. Rules and regulations are followed. Surprises, like your visit today, are rare. Though I must confess that I don't mind this surprise. Things can get a bit dull around here."
Shiraamer decides that flirting back with the Commandant would be a good idea. "Well, I'll just have to see to it that I get more courier assignments so that I can visit you."
"Oh, I'd like that. You don't have time for a tour, do you?"
"Oh, I'm sorry. We really don't. This was a rush job after all. Next time, when it's a routine, scheduled visit I'll take you up on that tour."
"Are you sure? It won't take long."
"No, I really can't," she winces as if it really pains her to say no. "If we don't get back ASAP Gegaragirsamki will have our hides."
"Feh. That guy. Isazii shagukarun gulashbir asi. If Liinir gives you any trouble, let me know." It's been a while since Shiraamer's heard Vilani, but she recognizes the phrase: Only inferior rulers must prove their superiority. She nods and adds a sly smile. "Wisdom. I like that in a man."
Their conversation is interrupted by a knock at the door. Shiraamer and the Commandant turn to see the OotD at the door. In the hallway, Shiraamer can make out a couple guards. "All set."
"Good," the Commandant says. To Shiraamer he says, "You did bring your own vacc suits for the prisoners, right?"
"Yes, we did. My crew have them out in the lobby."
The Commandant stands. Shiraamer takes this as her cue to leave and rises out of her seat.
"Good day, Captain Siirkasaare." He pauses and adds, "Shiraamer."
"Good dran, Commandant."
As she exits the Commandant's office, she catches sight of Oda's brother and his family standing in the hall, shackled. They look uncertain as to this turn in their fate.
Shiraamer confidently walks back to the lobby. Upon seeing her, the trio unpack the vacc suits."
Keeping up her ruse, Shiraamer barks orders. "C'mon get a move on here. We don't have all dran."
As they are about to leave the OotD asks, "Aren't you forgetting something?"
Shiraamer freezes in her tracks. "I'm sorry. I am."
"I need you to sign the prisoner custody acceptance form."
Shiraamer mock hits herself in the head. "Oh yeah, I forgot. I'm sorry."
As she signs the form, the OotD mutters softly so only Shiraamer can hear him, "It's a good thing the Commandant likes you."
Shiraamer smiles like a Vargr, "Yes, it is."
She then leaves the admin building with her crew and her prisoners.
NPC: Shiraamer, Chuck, Oda, & Dyce Linnachre's family
The prisoners and crew climb into the air-raft. It's a tight fit, but Simrii
drives slowly so as to not throw anyone off. He patiently waits for the guards
to raise the gate and then maneuvers the air-raft back into the garage.
As soon as the door closes, Shiraamer says, "Ok, Gvarokh get us out of here but make it look normal."
"Take us to the far side of the planet so that the planet is between us and the naval base when we head out to jump."
The garage flushes out the contaminant atmosphere and permits the crew to exit the garage. The Linnachre's look confused.
"It's ok," Shiraamer says to them, "You're safe now."
They exit the garage and enter the passenger lounge. Running across the room to meet them is Oda. And there's much rejoicing.
Shiraamer and the crew realize that they're out of the woods yet so they head to their posts. As Shiraamer descends in the lift, she calls out to Oda, "You might want to get yourself strapped in. I can't guarantee a smooth ride."
Gvarokh has no trouble flying nap of the earth along Theton's world ocean. Once he's certain that Theton will hide them from Limii City and its naval base, he ascends up through the atmosphere. There's a moment of tension as the ship nears the edge of the clouds, but the emptiness of space in front of them breaks it.
Shiraamer turns out to be wrong. It is a smooth ride. There's no sign of any
pursuit. As soon as the ship reaches the safe jump point, Shiraamer gives the
order to jump.
The transition to jump space goes through without a hitch.
Everyone on board exhales a huge sigh of relief.
"That was too easy," exclaims Chuck over the comm.
Shiraamer disagrees, "I think we just got really lucky today."
Oda, who's still in the passenger lounge with her brother's family, says over the comm, "Either way, thank you, captain. Oh, thank you all! This means so much to me." She gets all choked up. Tears of joy imminent.
"Well, we still have to get back to Larkarda. That's 9 parsecs away. They can still catch us, if they want to."
"By the way, where are we headed?" Chuck asks.
"Lishun parsec 108."
"Nothing. It's just empty space. If they decide to look for us, they'll be checking all the jump 2 worlds around Theton. I'm hoping that they're not smart enough to discover that we had a bladder installed while we were on Theton. We'll switch over to the bladder fuel while we're in jump and use it to get to Kiliikiir.
"It doesn't have any gas giants so we'll have to use the starport. And we'll need to replenish our life support reserves. If all goes well with the bladder, we'll use the same technique to jump into another empty parsec. I haven't decided where we'll go after that, but I'm leaning towards going right into Imperial space."
The captain continues, "Oda, I'm afraid that, in order to preserve our life support supplies and food stores, we're going to have to put your brother's family in low berths."
Oda pleads with the captain, "But this is the first time I've seen them in almost a year. Can't they stay out for at least a little while?"
"You can have the rest of the day. Vilani day that is. I can't spare anymore air than that."
"Thank you, Captain."
Next: Run Home