The Week in Jump - Part 1

Characters: Vincent, Lakir, and Vlad
NPC: Chuck
Location: Unnamed Free Trader
System: Jumpspace between Envar and Kakkin

1126.24.7 - 16:45 Imperial Time, 8:45 Vilani Time

The ship has just gone to jump, and everyone breathes a sigh of relief.

Chuck says, "That went well."

The group convenes in the crew common area. Chuck has found a bottle of...something. He shows it to Vlad, who starts laughing.

"Ougztoraduedoe," Vlad says, "I haven't had this since I left home. Yes, Chuck. We can toast with this."

And they do, though Chuck gags afterwards.

"Ugh," Chuck shakes his head. "That started out like bourbon and finished like tequila."

"Yes!" Vlad says triumphantly.

After waiting for the pain to subside, Chuck asks, "Well, what are we doing this week? Because I'm not drinking that stuff."

Vincent says, "Well, the captain said that we can have a look at that robot in the cargo hold. That should be interesting."

Lakir says to Vincent, "I was hoping that you'd build me a learning program for turret operation and gunnery so I could spend my time cramming and running sims."

Vincent replies, "There might be something already in the system. I'll have a look."

Chuck asks him, "Can I have a look at the data you downloaded from that asteroid base?" He pauses before adding, "I'm still coming to grips with that scout base commander being corrupt. I just don't get it. Maybe there's something in the data."

"Sure. I'll copy it over to the ship's computer."

25.1 - 5:00 Imperial Time, 21:00 Vilani Time

After spending the first hours sleeping off the exertion from assaulting the asteroid base, the group started their routine for the week. Vincent found an instructional program in the ship's main computer for Lakir to learn gunnery. Afterwards, Vincent copied the stolen asteroid base computer data to the ship's main computer for Chuck to read. Then he got to work on examining the robot in the bay. Meanwhile, Vlad did laps around the cargo bay.

13:00 Imperial Time, 29:00 Vilani Time

Chuck is the first to make a discovery, and he tells everyone when they've come to gather for a meal. He explains that the four ships were intended to be used for a clandestine terrorist attack--one ship per world. The innocuous looking robot on each ship was intended to deliver its payload to the unsuspecting victims.

"What was the payload?" Vincent asks. "I didn't see anything on the robot but the robot and its wagon."

"I don't know. It's always referred to as 'the payload'." Chuck answers. "The notes say that they were waiting on the client to deliver the payload."

"Who was involved?" Lakir asks.

"The Scout Base Commander for sure. It was his job to secure the asteroid base and provide the intel on the targets. Anyone else is a mystery hidden behind code names."

"What were the targets?"

"It doesn't say, but the bastard Scout Base Commander knows."

"So who were the clients?"

Chuck shakes his head. "It doesn't say."

Vlad asks, "Does it say who stole the ships in the first place?"

"The client." Realization dawns on Chuck's face. "Su told us that Touzagh pirates took her ship. So the Touzagh are behind this."

Vlad counters, "But the Touzagh collapsed after we attacked their base on Ikhog."

"Yes, but the Ngath Confederation were providing sanctuary to the Touzagh. Don't you see? It's a classic case of: 'You scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours.' This squad of Touzagh pirates stole the ships for the Ngath to use in their hot and cold war against the Vilani. And with the Touzagh gone, the Ngath can deny their involvement and claim that it was a splinter group of pirates looking to establish territory for themselves."

Vlad turns to Vincent. "Perhaps we should examine the robot for a digital payload? Since we don't see anything in the way of a bomb or something else equally as obvious."

Vincent replies, "Yeah, I did that. Nothing in there but the robot's programming. And it's specific about activating the payload on its trailer. Maybe there was a digital payload on whatever the robot was supposed to be pulling on the trailer. Like a computer that transmits a virus over a high gain antenna or EMP generator."

Lakir snaps his fingers. "I recall somthin’ about an old Imperial research base being within Nagath space? Seems I recall something from one of our briefings. If it was going to be delivered by one robot, it needs to be either a bio weapon or an electronic weapon. You ain’t gonna get any good size ‘boom’ outta’ something those things can haul."

Chuck wags a finger at Lakir. "Gemid. That's the place where the Imperium outsourced some of their nasty weapons research. They were big on neurotoxins. You unleash that shit in an enclosed environment and you're done. I'm guessing they'd have a way of killing off enough people before the scrubbers and filters eliminated them, assuming they could." He looks away. "Damn. That's just...wrong."

Lakir asks, "So, can we see anything linking Gemid, or a code word equivalent, to anything that may indicate a target world, or up-port?"

Chuck answers, "I didn't see anything obvious. I'll have another read through it later."

After a moment, Lakir says, "This would be a cool way to get some heavier ships. Be boarded or impounded, or even hanger docked, let this out on a station and boom, instant navy. That is if you can float off with the hardware, after you’ve taken out the survivors with the boarding crews you’re carryin’. Be a slick op, if you could pull it off, particularly with some official ‘scout documentation’ maybe lettin’ you get close to some heavy hardware or critical infrastructure. Maybe seize the parts for a ‘big boom’? Pretty much open options for targets. Maybe the data dump points the way?"

Chuck shakes his head. "I'm sure that's what the guy who authorized this research thought. Look, war is hell. That doesn't mean that you make it worse by dumping nerve gas on people. Assuming that's what this is. I just can't get behind that."

25.7 - 16:00 Imperial Time 16:00 Vilani Time

As for the rest of the week in jump, Chuck was unable to find anything else in the database that hinted at target worlds or whom the clients may be.

Vincent was unable to find anything new in the robot's programming or hardware.

Lakir has spent the week in the turret simulator and it appears to have paid off.

The Week in Jump - Part 2

Characters: Gvarokh, Dougok, Slade, and Simrii
NPC: Ushin
Location: Miishakaal
System: Jumpspace between Envar and Kakkin

1126.24.7 - 16:45 Imperial Time, 8:45 Vilani Time

The ship has just gone to jump, and Gvarokh breathes a sigh of relief. He gathers everyone in the crew lounge. When they're all assembled he notes that it's just the five of them. The ship hasn't seemed this empty since Shiraamer died.

Gvarokh asks what they have planned for the week.

Dougok says that he's going to try and affect repairs on the damaged turret. Simrii offers to lend a hand.

Slade says that he's going to run some diagnostics on the jump drive to make sure that the microjump didn't cause any damage.

Ushin says that he plans on studying the data Vincent captured from the asteroid base.

Gvarokh replies to him that later in the week he'd like to plan how they're going to report to the authorities on Kakkin.

25.1 - 5:00 Imperial Time, 21:00 Vilani Time

After spending the first hours sleeping off the exertion from assaulting the asteroid base, the group started their routine for the week.

13:00 Imperial Time, 29:00 Vilani Time

The group re-convenes in the galley after several hours going on their activities.

Dougok and Simrii report that the repairs to the damaged turret are beyond their skill set.

Slade says that the jump drive checks out fine after the microjumps back at Envar. He offers to have a look at the turret during his next work shift.

Gvarokh says to Slade, "When checking out the turret, see if there is any damage outside the turret. If we can't repair it, we'll need the ability to dump it and put in a new one.

Slade nods.

Ushin says, "Well, I have terrible news. From what I've been able to discern from Vincent's stolen data, those four ships were intended to be used for a clandestine terrorist attack—one ship per world. The innocent looking robot on each ship was intended to deliver its payload to the unsuspecting victims."

"What was the payload?" Gvarokh nervously asks. "Are the guys on the free trader in any danger?"

"I don't know what the payload was; it's always referred to as 'the payload'," Ushin answers. "The notes say that they were waiting on the client to deliver the payload so I don't believe that your crew are in any danger."

Gvarokh breathes a sigh of relief and then asks, "Who was the client?"

Ushin shakes his head. "It doesn't say."

"Well, what were the targets?"

"Again, it doesn't say, but I'm sure the Scout Base Commander knows." He pauses. "Since it was the Touzagh that stole Captain Daagudakur's ship and imprisoned her and her crew, they're likely the ones who supplied the ships to this operation."

"But the Touzagh broke up after we attacked their base on Ikhog," Gvarokh says.

Dougok raises a finger, "That doesn't matter. The corsairs are still at large and would still be active. Each captain would be out there trying to elevate his charisma to attract a following. Perhaps form a new pack, the next Touzagh."

Ushin asks Dougok, "We know that the Touzagh kidnapped people and sold them into slavery and killed many people instead of just robbing them, do you think that they're capable of the wholesale slaughter of whole worlds?"

Dougok shrugs. "It's possible. I met some depraved people while working for them."

Ushin nods. "But why did the Scout Base Commander go along with them? What did he have to gain? While I found him to be...impolite, he didn't strike me as a terrorist. And there was nothing in his personnel file to indicate anything other than exemplary behavior during his service to both the Imperium and the Ziru Sirkaa."

Gvarokh responds coldly, "He was probably their first victim." A puzzled look crosses Ushin's face. Gvarokh continues, "He either cooperated or his world died. And depending on the level of sophistication, the payload doesn't have to be immediately fatal. The victims could be infected, and then they have to bargain for the cure."

Ushin says, "Logical, but diabolical."

"That entire planet could be in grave danger right now. What I recommend is that we regroup in Kakkin and immediately return with two far traders. But I can't do that on my own; I need your help. I'll need permission to commandeer the far trader and one of the free trader's turrets if our is unsalvageable. We probably also need any additional resources you can marshal when going back. Unless you have any better ideas, which I'm hoping you do."

"I do. This salvage operation has escalated far beyond the scope of its original parameters. I'm afraid that I lack the legal authority to permit you to return to Envar and ameliorate the situation. However, I know someone who does."

"Who?"

"The system defense commander assigned to Kakkin. We just need to convince him of how dire the situation is at Envar. He should be able to send a squadron to investigate and rectify the situation. Based on what we've learned, I'm sure that it won't take much convincing."

Dougok bares his teeth at the news of the potential attack. "Perhaps this was an operation to further discredit the Vargr as terrorists and dangers."

Ushin replies, "Considering the history of relations between our people, it needs no assistance."

Dougok's hackles rise. "Regardless of the reason, Envar should be protected and immediate action taken to preserve whatever clues are necessary to determine who this client might be. As quickly as they responded to our attack, we can be certain they are preparing to cover their tracks."

"I'm certain of that," replies Ushin. "But this data that Vincent took from them is certainly damning. There's enough here to convict the Scout Base Commander. He'll have to divulge the identity of his client if he wishes to avoid jail time."

25.7 - 16:00 Imperial Time 16:00 Vilani Time

As for the rest of the week in jump, Ushin was unable to find anything else in the database that hinted at target worlds or whom the clients may be.

Slade has studied the damaged turret and has determined that it is indeed repairable. However, some of the repairs require going outside the ship, and that's a non-starter for traveling through jumpspace. It'll have to wait until you get to Kakkin.

Gvarokh has talked with Ushin about how to turn over the ships as recovered evidence and how not to be arrested for firing upon Vilani Scout Ships. Ushin insists that with the evidence collected there is nothing he needs to worry about.

Arrival at Kakkin

Characters: All
NPC: Chuck, Uengghae, Kagfak, Captain Su Daagudakur and her crew, Ushin
Locations: Captain Su and crew on Ronni's Raven; Uengghae and Kagfak on far trader; Vincent, Chuck, Lakir and Vlad on free trader; everyone else on Miishakaal
System: Kakkin

1126.25.7 - 17:20 Imperial Time, 17:20 Vilani Time

The jump has gone well for all four ships. Everyone has arrived safe and sound. Before contacting the starport, each ship shares what they learned in jump via video conference.

While Vincent didn't discover anything malevolent in the robot's programming (or digital surprises), he did learn that the robot was supposed to pull "the payload" to a certain location (coordinates were not given, "to be supplied later") and activate it.

Chuck and Ushin both learned that the ships were intended to be used for a clandestine terrorist attack—one ship per world. Neither was able to figure out the payload or the target worlds. However, both know that the Scout Base Commander was involved as the asteroid base was under his command, therefore he must know whom the client is. Chuck is certain that the Touzagh are involved somehow as they're the ones who took Captain Su's ship. He also implicates the Ngath Confederation.

"The Ngath Confederation were providing sanctuary to the Touzagh. It's a classic case of: 'You scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours.' This squad of Touzagh pirates stole the ships for the Ngath to use in their hot and cold war against the Vilani. And with the Touzagh gone, the Ngath can deny their involvement and claim that it was a splinter group of pirates looking to establish territory for themselves."

Chuck goes on to say that Lakir reminded him of Gemid. "That's the place where the Imperium outsourced some of their nasty weapons research. They were big on neurotoxins. You unleash that shit in an enclosed environment and you're done. I'm guessing they'd have a way of killing off enough people before the scrubbers and filters eliminated them, assuming they could."

Ushin frowns. "That would be barbaric."

Chuck replies, "But the Touzagh were barbaric. They violated the corsair code of conduct, if there is such a thing—"

Dougok interrupts, "There is."

Chuck continues, "As we all know, the Touzagh killed people and took some of the survivors to sell off as slaves."

Dougok adds, "That isn't the corsair way. You take the cargo, valuables, and sometimes ships, but you don't kill people. It's bad for business."

Chuck crosses his arms. "There you have it, from a guy that knows."

Gvarokh says, "Envar is in danger. It's possible that the client will turn on the Scout Base Commander. So Ushin is going to talk to the Kakkin system defense commander and convince him that he needs to send a squadron there to investigate."

Ushin puts in an urgent call to the starport. After he identifies himself, the starport waits to verify his identification before patching him through to the Kakkin SDC, Commander Kidimenimdaku. Ushin explains the situation on Envar to him, and after receiving permission from Kidimenimdaku, he sends him their data.

Meanwhile, passive sensors have detected four Type T patrol cruisers moving in to intercept Miishakaal's rag tag fleet.

Ushin says to the Kakkin SDC, "Commander Kidimenimdaku, we're detecting four patrol cruisers headed our way. Is this an arrest detail or an escort?"

"An escort. Continue your decel burn, but wait in orbit."

Ushin and Commander Kidimenimdaku talk for an hour. Eventually, Ushin gets him to agree to send several ships over to Envar to investigate. However, he insists that Ushin accompany the task force and that Miishakaal and the other ships land at the starport and stay on world until the matter has been resolved.

Ushin is asking Gvarokh to go along with Commander Kidimenimdaku's request.

Gvarokh replies, "We will comply and wait, but my crew aren't the most patient in Known Space. I can't make any promises on how long we can wait. I'll prep them for a month, but after that, they will start getting antsy."

Dougok growls. "A month? I can't stand to shut in for that long. Can we go along instead?"

Ushin says, "Oh, it won't take that long. I assure you that I'll be back in two weeks at the most. And no, Dougok, you won't be allowed to go. It's best that I go alone. It'll make them less...nervous if they only have to deal with one man, and a representative of Zirunkariish at that."

Vlad, on the other hand, is a bit more positive. "I wouldn't mind a little R-n-R if possible."

Ushin informs Commander Kidimenimdaku that they will be complying with his request.

The four Type T patrol cruisers have rendezvoused with Miishakaal's flotilla. A short while later, two Chrysanthemum class destroyer escorts have joined them.

Before departing, Ushin says to Gvarokh, "I'm not expecting anything to go wrong, but if I'm not back in two weeks, contact the Zirunkariish branch office and inquire as to my whereabouts. I've sent them the data, and they'll be picking up the tab for any fuel, food, or lodging that you require during your stay. If they're not helpful, get back to Maran, best possible speed. Until then," he shakes Gvarokh's paw, "see you in two weeks. Enjoy your stay."

At this point one of the Chrysanthemums has docked with Miishakaal. Ushin departs.

After the naval ships have disengaged and begun to make their way to safe jump distance, Miishakaal receives instructions for her and the other three ships to land at the downport.

Gvarokh acknowledges the instructions and lets the other ships know they'll be complying.

Dougok wags his tail at the news. "Party on the tab of Zirunkariish!"

Time Spent on Kakkin

Characters: All
NPC: Chuck, Uengghae, Kagfak, Captain Su Daagudakur and her crew
Locations: Captain Su and crew on Ronni's Raven; Uengghae and Kagfak on far trader; Vincent, Chuck, Lakir and Vlad on free trader; everyone else on Miishakaal
System: Kakkin

1126.25.7 - 22:00 Imperial Time, 22:00 Vilani Time, 23:45 Local Time (42:15 day)

It's "noon" locally when Miishakaal and the other ships land at Kakkin Down. While the hangar bays aren't much, they do protect the ships from the elements and afford crews a chance to work on their ships in a shirt-sleeve environment.

Just to verify freedom of movement, Gvarokh checks in on the other ships. As Gvarokh is free to move from one hangar bay to the next, it appears that they're not being treated as prisoners.

While freshening up and preparing to disembark, a local representative from Zirunkariish stops by. He introduces himself as Andu Amigisinisla. He hands Gvarokh a credit card with the company's logo on it and explains that it's for covering reasonable food and lodging expenses during their stay on Kakkin.

"What about a busted up turret? We took some fire at Envar."

"Oh just have the starport contact our office. We'll authorize the repairs."

Gvarokh then goes on to ask about processing the three recovered ships. If possible, he'd like to get started on the paperwork.

"While they'll have to be processed on Maran, there's no reason why you can't get started on them now. I'll email them to you when I return to the office."

After Amigisinisla departs, Gvarokh contacts what appears to be a decent restaurant in the starport and makes reservations for 14. He then goes around and collects the crews from all four ships and proudly heads out for a well earned meal.

1126.26.1

Mostly a down day as the crews sleep off their late night. Slade inspects the turret and requisitions the parts he thinks they'll need to make repairs. Captain Su puts in some parts requests of her own.

1126.26.2

Slade gets the parts and gets started with the repairs. Gvarokh lends a hand. Lakir watches in hopes of gaining a better understanding of how turrets work. Vincent watches as well to see if Slade can teach him a thing or two.

Dougok, Vlad, Uengghae, and Kagfak go for a run in the arboretum. Chuck tags along to ensure that none of the locals gets the wrong idea.

Captain Su and her crew perform repairs on their ship.

1126.26.3

Slade wraps up repairs on the turret. Performs system checks and gives it a clean bill of health.

The vargr spend another day in the arboretum with Chuck. Lakir and Vincent join them this time as do Captain Su and her crew.

1126.26.4

The crew of the Miishakaal spends the day at the target range. Captain Su and her crew spend their day in the arboretum.

1126.26.5

Everyone splits up and does their own thing. Gvarokh and Chuck head to the arboretum.

1126.26.6

A good chunk of the crew parties because it's a Saturday, and it's time to make it one to remember as who knows when they'll have the chance to do so ever again.

1126.26.7

The weekend wraps up.

1126.27.1

Ushin returns.

Next: Ushin Returns