The Cavalry Arrives

Characters: All
NPC: Chuck & Simrii
Location: Miishakaal
System: Odinaga

1126.5.3 - 13:50 Imperial Time, 29:50 Vilani Time

As Miishakaal begins to swing by Odinaga, another round of shots from the pirate misses. Range: 317,721 km (190,633 miles).

The sensors detect another series of active scans on the ship. Darrurz immediately investigates.

"Captain, four ships are on an intercept course. 52 degrees off the port bow."

"More pirates?"

"I don't think so, the telemetry doesn't match."

An incoming message on the laser comm interrupts any further inquiry.

"Captain, incoming message from one the new ships."

"Let's hear it."

A human's voice comes over the speaker. "Attention unidentified vessel. This is the Odinaga Defense Boat, Leong, do you have a target lock on any of the pirate vessels?"

"Yes," Gvarokh responds.

"May we network with your ship to get that target lock?"

Gvarokh mulls this over. Ever fearful of someone digging up information about their past, he weighs the pros and cons of complying with their request. He fears they don't have much choice.

Meanwhile, Darrurz works out the range between the SDBs and the pirates, relates this to the crew and following that asks the gunners, "Vincent, Simrii, what is the SDBs best attack profile in order to assist us?"

"Hard and fast," Simrii replies.

Vincent adds, "Seriously. They don't need our help to figure that out."

The lead ODB asks, "Unidentified ship, do you copy?"

Gvarokh finally replies, "Yes, I don't see why not. I prefer to be on the correct side of blatant mismatches." Gvarokh nods to Darrurz to lower the ship's firewall for a port synching with the frequency of the laser comm.

"Thank you."

Thirty seconds later, each craft fires a volley of missiles, 12 in all. They race away at 10 G, hiding in the planet's shadow but heading towards the pirate that's been firing at you. The ODB's follow.

The link disengages. Darrurz promptly raises the firewall back up.

14:00 Imperial Time, 30:00 Vilani Time

Miishakaal passes the intercept vector pinch point, which enables her to once again put some distance between her and her pursuer, at least until the pirate's speed exceeds hers.

As Miisha's path puts Odinaga between her and the pirate, the latter makes sure that Miisha knows he hasn't given up on her. Three more shots are fired, although everyone knows they'll miss. Range: 298,631 km (179,178 miles).

The ODB's, already traveling at high speed, have crossed your path well ahead of you. Their thrusters are off, though they're rolling over in preparation to begin a decel burn.

14:10 Imperial Time, 30:10 Vilani Time

Safely in Odinaga's shadow, the pirate is unable to fire on Miishakaal this round. The ODB's begin their decel burn.

14:20 Imperial Time, 30:20 Vilani Time

The pirate comes around the planet and runs into the wall of missiles. All twelve hit. It's all too much for the ship. Explosions continue after the missiles impact and ultimately it explodes.

Cheers come up in your ship.

You lose sight of the ODB's as they continue around the planet and head towards the other two pirates.

Gvarokh tells the crew, "Since the cavalry arrived, I think it best if we proceed to Odinaga instead of minijumping elsewhere to refuel. While I would much prefer to loop the giant and get there quicker, I don't think we should lose track of the fight. So we are gonna do a straight burn to get there."

1126.5.4 - 00:20 Imperial Time, 8:20 Vilani Time

The battle went well for the ODB's. The other pirate watching the back of the ship with the boarding party was similarly taken unawares. Distance gave it some headway but the massive difference in speed between the ODB's and the pirates enabled that gap to shrink fast. Pirate number two took more hits than number one and summarily shared its fate.

The last ship got away. Rather than bothering to flee or fight it out they jumped. While there was no explosion, a misjump seems certain and not just due to their depth within the gravity well. A gravimetric shock wave was observed. The Spirit of Zharkirov, the pirates' victim, was even sent into a roll.

With the battle safely concluded, Gvarokh turns the transponder back on. No sense in antagonizing the locals.

As Miishakaal finished her decel burn, a simple text message was received from the ODB's. "Miishakaal, thanks for your help." It was signed: Captain Kar Khushenlish of the ODB Leong.

By the time Miishakaal finally reached Odinaga, The Spirit of Zharkirov was stabilized and returned to the planet's surface. Two of the ODB's also landed on the planet. The other two apparently resumed patrol.

The starport is hailed and clearance to land has been granted.

Merghia Downport

Characters: All
NPC: Chuck & Simrii
Location: Miishakaal, parked at Merghia Downport
System: Odinaga

1126.5.4 - 00:45 Imperial Time, 8:45 Vilani Time

As the ship descends, the damage inflicted by pirate attacks is quite clear. A whole wing appears to have been blasted. A few construction crews appear to be repairing the damage.

The ship lands at its designated spot. The gantry arm swings into place to merge with the starboard lateral personnel airlock. The access seal for the forward cargo lock remains on standby, should you need to unload or load any cargo.

Gvarokh puts the order in for fuel and alerts Slade that he'd like the bladder filled as well. As for life support refurbishment, Gvarokh decides to get extra, just in case. 6 weeks worth.

Darrurz fires up BrokerNet to sell off their load of fish.

Wishing to appear grateful for their help, Gvarokh puts in a text message with the ODB Leong, thanking them for their timely arrival and help.

As Gvarokh finishes up his thank you note, Lakir shows up at the Bridge.

"Yes, Lakir. What can I do for you?" Gvarokh asks. Meanwhile, he checks his hand comp to see who their contact is here at Odinaga. Turns out that it's a Colonel Dan Garmin.

"Well, seein' as how this place seems to be 'ground zero' for pirate strikes, it might be a good place to maybe gather some intel. Especially as seein' how they do have an SDB force."

Gvarokh says, "Excellent idea! In fact, I am going to have to check in with my contact here, and he appears to be a Colonel. Maybe he can give us more information."

Darrurz sniffs the air and says, "We also need to check in with Sharurshid. They might have some info as well." His tail moves a little agitatedly.

"Yes," Gvarokh replies, "the Colonel is affiliated with Sharurshid." He returns his attention to Lakir. "Well, gearrrr up and meet me at the airlock-k-k when you're ready. The law level is nine. While I don't anticipate leaving the starport, I believe it would be best if we left our weapons behind."

Meeting With Colonel Dan Garmin

Characters: Gvarokh and Lakir
NPC: Colonel Dan Garmin
Location: Merghia Downport
System: Odinaga

1126.5.4 - 01:15 Imperial Time, 9:15 Vilani Time

Gvarokh and Lakir make their way through the starport. For an A class starport, it seems quite unkempt. The place is messy. Garbage hasn't been picked up. The floors haven't been vacuumed. There are stains here and there. Damaged areas have been hastily repaired.

A guard blocks access to the north terminal. A sign displays in several languages, "Closed For Repairs."

There are a few squatters camped out in the main concourse. There's a mix of people, most appear to be refugees with all their possessions stashed around them. A few even appear to be marooned spacers. One guy even has a sign that says, "Will work for passage." All of these people are cordoned off from the rest of the starport with short poles and yellow "do not cross" tape. They're not prisoners. They come and go as they please. Two starport security personnel are standing nearby, chatting amiably with one of the refugees.

Gvarokh and Lakir make their way to the Administrative section and pass through unmanned weapons detectors. A woman sits at large desk on the other side. She's flanked by two security personnel.

"May I help you?" she asks.

"Captain Gvarokh of the Miishakaal, and crewman, to see Colonel Dan Garmin."

"Do you have an appointment?"

"No, but my orders are to see him upon my arrival."

She scans a computer screen. "He's in a meeting right now, but if you'll have a seat, I'll let his secretary know that you're here."

02:05 Imperial Time, 10:05 Vilani Time

The woman at the front desk summons the duo over. "The Colonel's secretary says that you can go in now." She hands each of the guys a VISITOR pass with a bar code on it. She then explains how to get to the Colonel's office.

Gvarokh thanks the woman and he and Lakir are on their way inside.

The pair reach the Colonel's office and are greeted by his secretary.

"Good drandir, gentlemen," he says. "I'm sorry but the Colonel got called into an impromptu meeting so he can't see you just yet. If you'll have a seat, he'll see you as soon as he can. Can I get you anything? Tea, water?"

"Tea would be fine," Gvarokh replies. He looks over at Lakir, who nods. "Two, please.

Gvarokh and Lakir take a seat and wait.

02:45 Imperial Time, 10:45 Vilani Time

The door to the Colonel's office opens and several people leave. A haggard looking man hangs in the doorway. If he's Solomani, he's in his 60's. His hair, what's left of it, is gray to white.

He says to his secretary, "Ok, Milbert, I really need some sack time."

His secretary interrupts him, "Captain Gvarokh is hear to see you, sir. He's from Sharurshid, on Lun Miisha's orders."

"Oh, right, right." The Colonel turns to face Gvarokh and Lakir and shakes their hands. "Sorry, gentlemen. It's been a long... It's been too long. Please, come in." To his secretary he says, "This is the last one, Milbert. See to it."

"Yes, sir!"

Lakir and Gvarokh take a seat across from the Colonel's desk while he shuts the door.

Colonel Garmin collapses in his chair. "So, you men are on your way to rescue Miisha's scientists, are ya?"

"Yes, sir."

He crosses his legs so that he can massage his left ankle. He smiles wistfully. "Good luck with that."

"Sir?"

"Sorry, I don't mean any disrespect. I'm tired, so I feel a bit punchy. Between you and me, I don't agree with the wisdom of your mission. While the loss of any personnel is a tragedy, I fail to see how a handful of scientists warrants two rescue missions when whole worlds have been lost and others are teetering on the brink. But as I said, that's just a tired old man talking. Please don't hold it against me.

"I've read the mission report. I know you have to check in before moving on so that the Bureau can chart your progress. I promise I'll send back a glowing report. Is there anything else I can help you boys with before I get some much needed sack time?"

Before Lakir can ask anything, Gvarokh quickly says, "Thank you for taking the time to meet with us. I have but one question for you: Do you have an information specialist that can help us with intel on the pirates?" Gvarokh doesn't want to take any more of the Colonel's time, considering his state of mind. But, with the opportunity to delegate us to someone else, maybe they can get information from that person.

With a sidelong glance at Gvarokh, Lakir adds, "Or if possible, a discussion roundtable with the available members of your SDB det, as they return for refuel/rearm, as well as a discussion with your system surveillance control supervisors, if convenient."

The Colonel chuckles to himself. "A roundtable?" He chuckles some more. "We don't have an 'information specialist' on the pirates. Maybe if we did, we'd be in better shape.

"I can't speak for the SDB crews. They don't report to me. They belong to Odinaga. Sharurshid pulled their assets out six months ago. But I can tell you that they're extremely busy. I'm not too sure Admiral Menarsh would appreciate the distraction. He's got too few trained personnel right now and even fewer ships. If they're not on board their ships, they're going through briefings, debriefings and getting sack time.

"You came in during the last attack, right?"

"Yes."

"Those four ships you saw are all they've got. They're working as fast as they can at the shipyard to build more, but for right now, that's it."

Lakir is unfazed, "Well, if the Admiral won't talk, maybe his crews will, on 'decompression duty' at the bar. Know where they hang out, after debrief? We may have some good sigint to swap, if the Admiral's interested. We got some good reads off that that last incursion."

"No, you misunderstand me. The Admiral wouldn't want his crews to be distracted. He's still pissed at Sharurshid for pulling its ships out. If you do an end run around him, he'll be more PO'd than if you try to talk to him. The only reason he tolerates me is that he knows that there's no evac plan for me and my staff. Our fates are entwined."

Lakir says, "Regarding our mission, I see the validity of your concerns in regards to the effort expended on behalf of two ships crew, given the state of entire worlds around here. Do you have any personal opinions as to why this effort is being expended?"

"Knowing how the bureaucrats are, I'd say Miisha is trying to cover his ass. He's probably afraid that he'll get let go if his next performance review comes in negative. After the rescue mission went MIA, he's lucky the Bureau gave him permission to hire you guys. Notice that the Bureau didn't put any more of its assets on the line.

"I think Ishuggi and the Karunii don't know what to do except hunker down and protect those worlds they deem necessary to keep the Ziru Sirkaa afloat. After the Vargr Outreach Program blew up in their faces, they don't know how to deal with them, so they leave us to fend for ourselves and hope we can hold the line."

"So, what can we get in the way of support, from here on in? Is this it?" Lakir grins. "I don't suppose they authorized a cash advance, in case we couldn't cover our own way in?"

Garmin chuckles. "No. No cash. But what are you looking for in terms of support?"

Gvarokh replies, "Free repairs and supplies?"

Garmin shakes his head. "Nothing's free here. Certainly not for Sharurshid contractors. However, as per your contract, I'm authorized to cover half."

Lakir asks, "Does the yard have any paint they can spare? I know we can't cure it properly, but if we end up havin' ta do a quick visual make over, to blend with the terry's, it might be worthwhile havin the kit to pull it off."

"Yeah, I believe paint is available, but you'll have to pay for it. Like I said, I'm authorized to cover half."

"Did the ships happen to land, while passin' through? Might be interestin' ta' chat with some down time 'associates', if they happened ta' pull some R and R while berthed."

"When the courier dropped off the mission details, I checked our records, well Milbert did anyway. The survey ship, the Qa Livk, did not stop here, but the Fitzpatrick did. I don't know who they saw or what they did when they were here. I got a note from the warden's office that they were here but they didn't check in with me. Didn't need to. You can check in with them if you want. If they give you any grief, which I don't believe they will, have them call me and I'll straighten it out."

Garmin rubs his eyes and blinks a couple times, clearly signaling that he'd like you to wrap things up.

Lakir and Gvarokh stand and shake the Colonel's hand. "That's it for us, sir," Lakir says, "Is there anything we can do for you, given the direction we're headed in?"

"Anything you can do to throw a spanner into their gears would be greatly appreciated. But intel is always welcome. I'm not sure what we'd be able to do with it, but at the very least we could forward it along in hopes that the bureaucrats get off their duffs and do something."

"Thank you for your time," Gvarokh says. "We'll do what we can."

The pair leave the Colonel's office and head back to the ship to figure out what to do next.

Back At The Ship

Characters: All
NPC: Chuck & Simrii
Location: Miishakaal, parked at Merghia Downport
System: Odinaga

1126.5.4 - 04:00 Imperial Time, 12:00 Vilani Time, 10:15 Local Time

Lakir and Gvarokh have returned to the ship. They learn that Darrurz has been successful at selling the fresh fish. Unfortunately, he had to split the sale among four separate buyers and the average selling price wasn't great. Still, it pulled in 90,000 credits, almost double what was paid for it.

Simrii, Chuck and Vlad are down in the hold unloading the cargo. Lakir says that he'll go check on them and lend a hand, if necessary.

There's a note from Slade explaining that he had to reschedule refueling because there wasn't room in the hold to expand the bladder. However, life support has been refurbished and they've taken on extra cartridges.

Darrurz informs Gvarokh that he can find no freight or passengers to go to Gamgilebo.

"That's not surprising," Gvarokh answers.

"Do you want me to look for spec cargo or are we going to pretend we're pirates with that load of Crystal Tears in the hold?"

"Let's see what spec cargos there are. I don't expect anything and we need to keep enough room to expand out the fuel bladder, but let's see what they have."

Darrurz turns his attention back to BrokerNet.

Gvarokh contacts Vincent. "Vincent, I need you to double-check the computer to make sure there aren't any surprises that were intentionally or accidentally left behind by our linkup with the SDB's."

"I'll get right on it, Captain," Vincent replies.

05:00 Imperial Time, 13:00 Vilani Time, 11:15 Local Time

Vincent contacts Gvarokh. "We're clean," he says. "The Odinagans didn't plant anything in our computers. I've given them a thorough going over."

05:30 Imperial Time, 13:30 Vilani Time, 11:45 Local Time

Darrurz contacts Gvarokh, "I've gone over what's on BrokerNet and therrrre isn't much to pick-k-k from. Just volatiles. Useful for any world with manufacturing. Dry, vacuum worlds need them too. Gamgilebo might need them as the library records indicate that it's low on icy bodies."

"Let me think about it for a while," Gvarokh replies.

06:30 Imperial Time, 14:30 Vilani Time, 12:45 Local Time

The fish is gone. The ship is refueled, though said fuel is purifying. The crew have re-convened in the crew lounge to discuss what was said in Colonel Garmin's office and what they're going to do next.

Gvarokh opens the discussion by relating what was said and discussed with the Colonel and finishes with, "So, we still really have no particular idea of what type of reception we will get when we arrive. I have taken on extra provisions and fuel so that we have more options in our approach and plans. What thoughts do you have?"

Lakir immediately replies, "First up is a review of the system, and what we can expect to find, in system.

[OOC: "The Offer" and "Meeting With Rothchild" if you haven't read them in a bit...]

"Second, is coming up with a reason why are we're in the system. It's not exactly the place to be 'just passin' through'. Back story will be important for the Vargr regime, if we want to avoid being sold as scrap, particularly as we have to dock at the starport, to hook up with our contact.

"We better have a plan for making contact as well. I don't get a warm fuzzy feelin' from the way these systems are fallin' around here. If I was Khaash Kharlimini, I'd be lookin to settle in for the long run, with my new overseers, as it looks like the ships deliverin' payment from his old associates might be gettin a bit thin in space.

"I'll be reworking my jump exit routine, runnin' armed, and keepin' the can opener handy, as well as some extra O2."

Darrurz, who's been chomping at the bit to speak, finally gets his chance. "We don't really need much of a story for why we are going there, because we are going there to trade. I know the goods that will be good in the Vargr markets just as I know what's good in the Imperial markets. That's what I did. Trading will be different to the Imperium yes, but it's still trading.

"As for the Ngath Confederation I expect that they will behave as the other corsairs turned polities. Because they will want to be appear to be a legitimate polity they should allow traders to operate freely within their borders. They will have to suppress their corsair nature, yes, and sometimes a prize is too tempting, but on the whole they need trade for the polity to exist and they know that.

"The difference is going to be in Vargr space. Strength and charisma will be respected. We are a mixed crew but we have a Vargr Captain, so we are less likely to be attacked as some corsair captains think they should only raid humans. There are plenty of corsairs throughout the Extents who never come across a human though so we can't count on that."

Simrii replies, "Interesting. I hadn't thought of corsairs wanting to go legit. I figured that it was all raid, plunder, repeat. But it makes sense. Eventually the people get sick and tired and fight back, or pay someone to fight back on their behalf. I guess it becomes something of a protection racket after a while.

"I guess with that being said, we're ready as we're ever gonna be. Right?"

Lakir slaps his knee. "Man, this is gonna suck harder than a whore on payday. No intel, no plan, no cargo, no cammo. Frak yah, baby, what's not to love? Let's jump!"

Simrii chuckles.

Chuck offers, "Well, Garmin did say that we could check in at the Starport Warden's Office to gather info on the Fitzpatrick. I suppose if you're feeling up to dealing with a potentially hostile Admiral Menarsh, there's that avenue of inquiry. Definitely not something I'd want to pursue though. I'd rather check out the starport bars for any leads."

Lakir nods. "I'm up to talkin' ta the Admiral, and certainly hittin' the bars, if Gvarokh figures there's time. Be nice if we had some sigint, or any info, for that matter, that might ease our way in with the Admiral, possibly a situation update from Timat, maybe review our holocystal and see if it includes any current info on the surrounding systems, force build ups, local change in allegiances, etc. Not sure how often the Admiral would receive info from higher though."

Simrii says to Gvarokh, "Well Captain, is it ok if we head out or would you rather we dive right into Gamgilebo?"

Gvarokh replies, "I don't see why we have to leave right at this moment. I don't know if we can get my information at the bar, but I am up for a good drink before we head out."

Chuck thumps the table. "One for the road!"

Simrii says with a smile, "I guess the meeting's over."

Darrurz raises his paw. "I'll go too."

Vincent looks like he's about to join in, thinks again, and shakes his head. Neither Vlad nor Slade are showing any interest.

Next: The Road To Gamgilebo - Part 4