The Currents of Space – Episode 2.9

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I was trained as a pilot and taken on in 2219 as an executive pilot to Mitsuro Komatsu, flying his private yacht, the “Oberon”.

There’s a functioning hypersleep pod in one corner; it looks like it has an occupant.’

“So why are you masquerading as an O-2 working under an exec order when you are a short colonel?”

‘Look again,’ she said. ‘That’s quinitricetyline; twenty tons in total. This ship is a flying bomb.’

‘Rachel’, called Achernar. ‘Who or what is in the pod?’

‘Let me check. Readouts are green; pod is active. OMG!’

‘Rachel, what’s up? Report, frack. What’s up?’

‘It’s Komatsu-san, Mitsuro. My former employer. He’s been badly injured; the pod is barely keeping him alive. He needs a hospital; stat.’

Etamin chimed in from the cryo bay. ‘Mitsuro Komatsu? CEO of Kinako Corporation; supplies food to most of Known Space? Wow, have we got a bargain here.’

‘Only if he lives’; snapped Rachel. ‘We need to get him down to Aurora Base ASAP. We’ll take the Miranda.’

‘I’ll come with you,’ said Paula.’

‘Keeping an eye on me?’

‘Something like that. There’s lots of drugs in hospitals.’

Aurora Base

Komatsu was transferred to the hospital; the primary diagnostic indicated that he would be there for at least three days. Rachel again seized the opportunity to suggest checking out the ruins. This time, Paula agreed.

Rachel flew the Miranda up to Environ s01 and the strangely circular crater-structure.

‘This reminds me of the circular ring on Cyclops’ said Paula. Rachel glanced at her from the controls. ‘Cyclops? DX Cancri, right?’

‘You’ve been there?’

‘Yes, when Kinako were negotiating a deal with Matsuyama over food supplies a few years ago. I was one of the Pilot Corps then.’

‘That was the Hostage Crisis of 2221. Were you caught up in that?’ asked Paula carefully. ‘I was one of the negotiators that secured your release.’ She saw Rachel look at her again, more closely and sighed.

Rachel turned her attention back to the controls. ‘We were taken hostage by a group calling itself the League of Freedom. A peaceful deal was struck between one of the group and the chief negotiator.’

‘His name was Jacob Vertise. He was my father.’

‘So what happened to …’, Rachel started to say; then saw the look on Paula’s face and stopped.

Approaching the site, Rachel took the Miranda up over the crater wall. It was just as they remembered it. The crater was circular, ten kilometres in diameter. The interior walls were smooth; the outer walls were rougher and sloped up; they were about half a kilometre. In the centre was a low hump or dome, surrounding this were a series of faint radial circles spaced about a kilometre apart.

‘There’s an ATV approaching from one of the passes. It’s got Aurora markings. Frack! They’re shooting at us; someone’s got an automatic weapon down there.’ The Miranda lurched sideways and an alarm sounded; warning lights lit up Rachel’s face with flashing red and orange. ‘They’ve hit one of the control surfaces; I’m going to have to put her on the ground.’

USCS “Oberon”

Achernar and Etamin were in the lounge, relaxing and talking.

‘I reckon I can shift this, somewhat, volatile cargo we’ve got’, said Etamin. ‘I’ve got a few contacts; we could get a good price.’

‘All legal and above-board of course?’ Etamin grinned his disarming smile. ‘The people I deal with are not terrorists. They people they deal with are probably not terrorists. After that, the trail goes cold. But rest assured, the only thing that matters is loyalty to your friends.’

‘We’ve missed something!’ Bellatrix came into the lounge carrying a portable terminal that she set up on a table. ‘Cast your mind back to the day we woke up on the “Marie Hope”. Etamin looked puzzled and Achernar shook his head.

‘A lot’s happened since then, just tell me.’

‘Okay. We woke up on the “Marie Hope” in Earth orbit. Its last port of call was ….’ She paused.

‘Get on with it’

‘Here. Aurora. There had been an outbreak of polio in several of the underground bunkers. The “Hope” was supplying medical support. Denebola was right when she said that there was something bigger going on.’

Achernar sat upright. ‘Wasn’t there a mention that several medical personnel were left here to treat the outbreak?’

‘Oh, they dealt with it alright. They loaded all of the patients on to the “Marie Hope”, then despatched it to Earth.’

‘But there wasn’t anyone on board. The androids had been poisoned and all of the escape pods were missing, except the one that … f**k, f**k, f**k’

Achernar smacked his head; then looked up. ‘The band. They bribed a steward to get on board. That’s why they survived. But what happened to the others and how did we get aboard?’

‘The pods must have been launched in Earth orbit and the PDC’s took them out. As for us – don’t we all have secrets? They must have caught up with us and the “Hope” was convenient. If it hadn’t been for Spiers gloating to Denebola, we probably would have died in hypersleep.’

‘No, Spiers said the pods were sabotaged so we’d wake up in hyperspace. We’d all be drooling wrecks.’ Achernar slammed down his glass.

‘I think it’s time we started to make a difference in this total shit universe. We’ve saved Mitsuro Komatsu; we have his ship and we have the skills. We work for him and we have access to the resources of the Kinako Corporation.’

Bellatrix and Etamin nodded.

‘Any word from Paula and Rachel?’

Aurora, Alien site

Paula pulled herself upright from the control console, a deep cut above her right eye. Behind her came the sound of an extinguisher as Rachel tacked a minor fire.

‘That was a better landing than I expected.’ The cut was not bleeding too badly. ‘What’s the damage to the ship?’

‘Actually, not too bad. If we want to boost to low orbit; that’s not a problem. If we want to fly around; that’s a different matter; Miranda’s are shit to handle at the best of times in planet-side.’

‘Let’s go check the ruins; the ATV was about 30 minutes out. Any idea who it might be?’

‘Yes,’ said Rachel slowly. ‘I think it’s a guy called Prospect and his gang. We tried to make a deal about the site; but he ratted me out. There was him and three others but I think it’s just him and two others.’

‘What happened to the other guy?’

‘Etamin blew him up with a booby trap.’

Approaching the dome; Paula nudged Rachel and without a word handed her a Taurus Auto pistol. They spied a ramp spiralling down and followed it, using their flashlights.

“What do you make of these marks on the walls?’ asked Rachel. Paula pulled out her camera and took a few shots; ‘we’ll look later’.

After some time, the ramp exited into an oval chamber. Suspended in the centre, seemingly without support, was a triple-twisted helix of copper-coloured metal; slowly rotating. Set in the floor around it were small inverted cones; also made of the coppery metal. There were two exit ramps on the far side; one leading up and one leading down.

‘Paydirt!’ breathed Rachel and moved towards the helix.

‘Hold it right there, girlie. I told you before; you’re out of your depth.’ Prospect moved out of the other ramp; flanked by two of his men. They all carried autorifles.

‘Prospect …’, Rachel started; then was interrupted. With a loud WHUZZZ, several of the cones became active; they began to spin rapidly and extruded razor-sharp blades. They flew up into the air like gyrocopters and attacked both groups. They were extremely agile and almost impossible to hit with gunfire; Rachel, Prospect and one of the gangers were badly injured from the slashing blades. They all beat a hasty retreat.

Back at the Miranda, Paula did emergency first aid.

‘Rachel. Rachel! Can you get us back to the “Oberon”? Rachel nodded and crawled into the pilot seat.

USCS “Oberon”

Three days later.

Achernar, Bellatrix, Etamin, Paula and Rachel were in the lounge; seated at the end of the table was Mitsuro Komatsu. He looked weak, but there was brightness in his eyes.

‘I have listened to your proposals; and I accept them. From now on, you are the crew of the “Oberon” and you work for me. In return, you have this ship as a base and what resources and contacts I have.

+++ Message 1901202226 -1 +++

[USS Alabama to Aurora Downport – Captain Jane Deladrier]

‘This is Captain Deladrier of the USSC “Alabama” to the officer in charge of Aurora Downport. We are inbound, ETA five hours.

Deladrier out.

+++ Message ends +++

To be continued …

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GM Notes

Finally tying up a plotline that existed from Day One. This isn’t all of it, there is more, but I’m not sure how much the PC’s will find out at the moment.

Ok; after a year of play I’ve got the PC’s a Patron and a ship.

First test of my card-driven SOLO combat system; wow! Rachel and Prospect got injured almost immediately; which is why both sides retreated. The system seems to work ok, needs another couple of tests.

The “Alabama” has turned up again.

[I’m considering running a side-Game using the SOLO naval rules to see what the “Alabama” has been doing]

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