Tag Archives: Vanguard

[SLACK ROLEPLAYING LOG] Hallows #roleplaying #storytelling #otherspace

As Kam waltzes into the Last Orders Tavern, she grins saucily over her shoulder to O’Dell. But as she glides over the threshold, her smile becomes a little more predatory, her dark navy eyes darting left and then right before they hone in on the bar. “Almost feels like home,” she comments lightly.

Fedya’s smile goes cold as he enters the room. He nods in response to Kam’s statement, but says nothing aloud. He makes a slow scan of the bar while waiting to follow the pirate captain’s lead, his right thumb hooked into his belt a few inches from where his revolver is tucked away.

Kam nestles her back up against the bar as she surveys the room. She twists slightly to eye the bartender. “How about we start with a beer,” she orders. “Sit and have a drink, querido.”

As per the instructions given, Fedya sits down beside Kam, keeping an eye on anyone outside her field of vision even though it puts his back to most of the room. “Zhigulevskoye,” he orders from the bartender with a nod, putting a few chits of local currency on the bar.

Landon Briggs steps into the bar. Unlike many patrons, Briggs does not emanate hostility, but rather seems to go unnoticed by most. Briggs is a man adept at not standing out. Average height and build, if a bit wiry. His non-descript clothes would fit in on TK, Earth or most human dominated worlds.

Landon makes his way to the bar, exchanges a friendly greeting with the bartender and tosses a few credit chits in exchange for a clear drink in a not so clear glass.

“Was looking to see if you had any leads on possible work,” Kam says to the bartender, flicking her braid of long red hair over her shoulder. Landon only gets a brief look, mostly sizing him up, before she continues on with her conversations. She’s a tall, well proportioned woman in utilitarian clothes.

Fedya O’Dell sits beside Kam at the bar. He’s a few inches shorter than her, though of more stocky build. He has dark hair, somewhat unkempt. The mechanic glances up as the newcomer arrives at the bar. “Good evening,” he says, a bit curtly, his Ungstiri, Russianesque accent quite heavy.

Landon offers a friendly grin to Fedya, “Good evening to you as well.”  He sips from his glass, staring at the holo broadcast of some sport event that is playing in the corner.

The bartender just eyes Kam up and down and shakes his head. He’s got nothing to say at the moment. The redhead shrugs, turning to nestle her chin against Fedya’s shoulder and eyes Poe up and down with more interest this time around.

“Got all kinds of work around here,” the bartender finally replies. “Depends on what you got a taste for. Wet work? Hacking? Confidence trickstering? Espionage? I mean, don’t just come in here waving an ‘I want work’ sign and expect shit to just drop in your lap, lady. What do you bring to the table that Lord Fagin wants?”

The Ungstiri glances to the side at the redhead’s face beside his. Seeing her giving Poe a once-over, he gives her a mock glare, though it quickly breaks into a grin. As the bartender speaks up, Fedya scowls his way. He seems about to answer, but thinks better of it, allowing Kam to do the talking.

Landon half hides his smirk behind his glass as the bartender chews out Kam. “First time on Tomin Kora?” he says, his tone friendly but also somehow mocking, as only Sivadians can manage. “Landon Briggs. I get things places.” He slides a few credit chits to the bartender. “Their next drinks are on me.”

“We’re easy,” Kam replies lazily to the bartender. “And we’re discreet and affordable.” She straightens up to turn her attention back to the bartender. “Have a ship available for transportation. Any kind of transportation that might be needed.” Landon, however, gets a cool look. “Don’t need slick nobodies to front us any money.”

“Name?” the bartender inquires of the female, after giving a nod to Briggs. “If Lord Fagin’s got any work, I’m sure one of his operatives will be in touch after you’re vetted. And I sure hope you pass the vetting, lady, because…well, His Majesty ain’t fond of undercover Sorties poking around his business.”

“How you no have more scars on face with mouth like that?” the Ungstiri replies to the Sivadian, still grinning. He sips at his beer, following along with Kam’s conversation with the bartender.

Turns to the Ungstiri. “I haven’t found a conflict that a few drinks, some well placed money and perhaps a little self-deprecating humor can’t diffuse.” He nods his head to a table filled with local roughs, a few of which appear to be keeping an eye in this direction. “Plus, it helps to have people who know you’ll show your appreciation if they back you up when things get rough.”

“Kam,” the redhead replies, looking back at the bartender. “We-” she gestures to O’Dell, “fly the Queen Anne’s Revenge to wherever and back for the right price.”

“I’ll pass the information along to Lord Fagin’s people,” the bartender replies. “They’ll be in touch.”

“Ah,” the mechanic replies, still maintaining a somewhat antagonistic grin, “You buy all you friends? Or just when you come to TK?”

He turns to nod in agreement with what Kam is saying.

“I maintain fruitful business alliances. It’s worked for me for 7 years.” Briggs finishes his drink and pushes away from the bar. To the bartender he says “I’ll be on planet for a few more days if anyone is looking for me. I’ve got room in my hold.”

“Room for what?” the bartender inquires.

Kam’s brows actually raise a little in Landon’s direction. “You seriously trying to swipe potential work right out from under us while we’re standing right here?” She asks. Fedya gets a look. She’s annoyed but somehow still smiling. “Best watch your back. TK isn’t always the friendliest place to those who don’t know their place…”

Fedya kind of gives Kam a “What?” look, but then turns back to Briggs. He looks past him, sizing up the group at the table. His right thumb hooks in his belt, about half a foot from where a revolver is stowed.

“His Lordship knows my work, but in case others are asking: No bioweapons, no nukes, no slaves. Small cargoes or a dozen or so passengers. More if comfort isn’t an issue. Specialize in security avoidance, blockade running and time sensitivity.” Landon turns back to Kam. His cheery smile fading for a brief moment, his lips pursing into a thin line. “I know my place. Do you? I don’t doubt that you are as tough as you are trying to appear.  That you would shoot me if you thought it would help you get respect. But I doubt you have enough money to buy out my insurance policies,” he nods towards the table of thugs, “of which they are just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve been doing business here for quite some time. There is plenty of work to go around, and I doubt you will be offered the jobs I usually take.”

“You haul trash?” The bartender picks up a dirty glass from the counter, starts rubbing it with a grubby-looking cloth.

Kam just shakes her head, giving Fedya a brush on the shoulder with her hand. “We know our place,” she says, nodding to her partner. “And we don’t go intruding in on other people’s conversations, trying to steal work. So you’d best keep your little body guards close since you’re not man enough to walk the streets on your own and stay out of our way.”

The redhead’s words bring a smirk to Fedya’s face. He grins over at the bartender. “Can haul some trash right now if you is liking,” he says.

The bartender gives the narrow-eye to O’Dell. “Yeah? OK. You’re on. Pallet full of garbage will be delivered to your ship within the hour. Get rid of it to Lord Fagin’s satisfaction, you’ll get ten thousand credits.”

Briggs’ expression turns to that of appreciation. “You’re in with the sanitation guild? I underestimated you. Sanitation is one of the hardest guilds to break into. I knew a guy was hauling trash without guild permission a couple years ago. Heard they threw him into compactor to make an example.” Landon shudders at the thought. “In any case, have a good day.” With that he walks out of the bar, not looking back.

Kam’s face never wavers. “We’ll make sure the ship is ready to get rid of your garbage for you,” she replies evenly. She nods in Fedya’s direction. “Go get the ship ready. Make sure everything is at 100%.”

Fedya’s face wrinkles in amusement at Briggs’ parting shot, but nods quickly to Kam. “Is done,” he says, reaching out to quickly squeeze her elbow, speaking in a quieter tone, “Be careful.” With that, he moves quickly off towards the space port.

As Fedya and Kam arrive at the spaceport, they find next to the Queen Anne’s Revenge a pallet stacked about four feet high with…something? Under a black tarp. Boots, some slick with blood, jut out from beneath the tarp.

Kam strides towards her ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, her hands tucked into the back pockets of her pants. Her nose wrinkles slightly at the pallet nearby. “Could have at least wrapped it up first so it doesn’t leak all over my damn ship…” she growls. “We’ll just have to make do.”

Fedya steps out of the vessel, chuckling faintly at Kam’s protest. “Will be fine,” he says with a smile, “Already set up for that.” He taps in a key code to open an exterior cargo hatch. As the massive door slides open, a plastic tarp large enough to wrap the whole palette can be seen laid out on the floor. The Ungstiri goes to fetch a hoverjack, which he prepares to load the palette with. “Any sign of troubles?” he asks the pirate captain.

Kam shakes her head, though she does do a quick scan of the landing pad. “None that I saw,” she replies. “But let’s just do this quick. Never know what kind of clock they’ve got on it.” Her eyes shift upwards to the Revenge with a look of affection, “She all set? I’m thinking quick drop and move along. Don’t need to overcomplicate it.”

One of the bodies under the tarp was on an angle, apparently, and slides out from beneath the tarp. It’s a young woman with two scorched plasma wounds in her forehead – killed execution-style. She’s wearing a dark blue uniform with Vanguard insignia.

“Engines is warm and ready for raise up,” the Ungstiri replies, stopping the hoverjack to try and heave the sliding body back into place. “Give me hand here?” he asks, shoving the corpse without hesitation.

Kam tugs a pair of work gloves tucked conveniently in her belt onto her hands. “Best wrap ’em up a bit to keep it cleaner.”

Fedya grunts, nodding as he draws a roll of twine from his jacket pocket, starting to tie the tarp down to the pallet.

It’s hard to not notice certain elements of the dead and while Kam’s eyes do skip over the uniform, there’s no indication that she cares. “Just in case this is some sort of trick, best keep them out of sight. Wouldn’t surprise me if we oh so conveniently got boarded. See if we might snitch to save our own skins. Better to not have anything worth seeing out and about.”

“Is good idea,” the Ungstiri replies, going about the process of tying down the tarp. Once he is satisfied that he can safely do so, he gets the hoverjack going, moving the pallet towards the large drop cloth. “I turn off gravity for cargo bay. When we make turn with door open, garbage fly right out!” (edited)

Kam nods. “Simple, effective plan,” she replies. She steps back, out of the way of the pallet. “Seems like nothing could go wrong, but keep an eye out. Nothing is ever easy on TK.”

“Da,” Fedya says with a nod, “I remember. Wonder what happen if we look up Cabrerra’s great, great grandfather, eh?”

Kam’s eyes twinkle with amusement. “You hoping to change history a little, querido?” she asks lightly. “Though I guess us being here means it’s not history anymore and who knows what our world will turn out like now.”

“Just wanting have little fun, da?” the Ungstiri replies, grinning widely as he sets the pallet down on the tarp, pulls the hoverjack out, and starts to wrap up the package while closing the cargo bay doors. “You want get us up while I finish this?”

Meanwhile, against the violet-blue backdrop of the Tomin Nebula in high orbit of the rocky wastes of Tomin Kora, the smuggler ship Forgot to Pack Lunch drifts on inertia while occasionally blooping the maneuvering thrusters to stay on the float and out of the rather weak grasp of Lord Fagin’s adopted homeworld.

The Lunch’s captain, a fat little woman named Ela Pryn, sits in the cockpit watching a holovid broadcast of an Odarite “symphony” in which dozens of insectoids click their legs together to produce ancient Earth music, such as the current selection: “The William Tell Overture”. Her entertainment is soon interrupted by the wailing of her ship’s alarm klaxon as sensors detect the arrival of a Vanguard warship dropping to sublight. She transmits a warning message planetside.

Aboard the destroyer Clarke, a signal officer confirms to Captain Leonard Hallows: “Picking up the sub-cutes of our missing soldiers. Looks like they’re in the vicinity of the spaceport in Freewheeling.”

Hallows nods, then thumbs the commlink: “Marines, suit up for ground action. Gunners, stand by for anyone making a run for it with our people.”

Kam is just starting to start her warm up sequence to get the ship ready to move when she picks up the warning message from far above. A frown begins to mar her features. “There’s incoming,” she transmits back to Fedya. “Vanguard. Looks like it was a set up. Search those bodies quickly and get them hidden as best you can.”

“Jebat…” Fedya spits, peering around the cargo bay. He runs to a toolbox he keeps at the far end of the room, rummaging until he can find an RF scanner and a knife. He slashes the twine that holds the wrapping together and pulls off each body, using the scanner to pick up anything that might be giving off a signal. He throws each item into a pile. This done, pulls out a handkerchief, and wraps all the transmitting items into a bundle. He races down to the engine room, and steps up to the sublight engine’s ignition chamber. Pulling open an access panel, he tosses in the satchel. “Ok, get us in the air!” he yells into the comm before he runs back towards the cargo bay. (edited)

The Marines are just disembarking from a blocky landing craft on the other side of the spaceport when the sig ops non-comm assigned to the squad smacks the side of his PDA and then announces: “We’ve lost all the signals. Last known location was about half a kilometer to the northeast.”

Captain Hallows looks toward the sensors officer: “Track the course of any vessels launching from the spaceport.” He then orders the Marines: “Go to that last known location. Shake a few trees. Bring me back a name.”

Kam’s eyes keep watch above, waiting for the descent of the Vanguard ship. Beneath the golden hue of her skin, she pales slightly but slaps a hand down on the console lightly, revving up the engines. It doesn’t look like she’s in too big of a rush to depart as she carefully guides her ship up. “We may get chased. Make things look as clean as possible. Clean yourself up too,” she radios down to Fedya. “Want to solve any problems without getting the Vanguard down on us.”

Fedya opens up the cover of a shielded smuggling bay, but does not put the pallet in it, leaving it slightly open. He re-wraps the pallet, and moves it to the corner of the cargo bay door, using the hoverjack to stack a few large, but empty crates on top of and around it.  Then he takes a pulse pistol to the decking, incinerating any potential biological evidence on the floor. “If you make to solar orbit, cargo is ready for dump,” he calls into the comm as he races into the shower, disrobing within.

The Queen Anne’s Revenge rumbles upwards with a slow ascent toward the stars. Kam keeps an eye in general on the Vanguard ship until it’s too small to spot and her immediate direction is toward the closest star to make a quick dump of their cargo. “We better divert to a new planet for vacation after dump. Wait a few days for Vanguard to leave before coming back for our payment. Any place in mind?”

The Ungstiri thinks about the question from over the comm. “I hear Quaquan is nice!” he calls over the shower, “And they no like Vannies much, da?” He steps out and dries off while awaiting the response.

“Sounds like a plan!” Kam chirps in response. She guides the ship away from the planet, making a change in course for the nearest star.

“Sure, I can give you the ship’s name,” the bartender says casually to the trio of Vanguard marines looming over him in the pub near the spaceport. “Won’t be cheap,” he adds.

“No,” one of the marines replies, drawing a shock baton. “But it’ll be painful.”

Hallows, aboard the Clarke, paces in the command center as he awaits word from Tomin Kora. Precious minutes have passed. He’s not happy.

A comms officer reports: “Source tells us the soldiers are all dead. Taken by a man and a woman. Ship called the Queen Anne’s Revenge.”

Hallows considers the information, then says, “Notify HQ. I’m sure General Avocet’s going to put a steep price on their heads.” He then looks toward the nav officer. “Lay in a course to Mars.”

[SLACK ROLEPLAYING LOG] The Brothers Levante #vanguard #storytelling #amwriting

“I’m severely troubled by this information,” General Charles Avocet responds to Lieutenant Thrum in his answer to the latest report from the Zheng He. “I wish I had better news for you, but it appears that Rodrigo Levante abandoned his post after planting that device on the hull of your ship. Seems like he took a civilian shuttle from Citadel down to Earth, where he caught passage on a freighter called the Duncan Idaho bound for Quaquan. I’ve got a Consortium Intelligence spook asking that you deliver Ensign Armand Levante to Citadel for questioning.”

Thrum sighs at this reply, and then walks to the bridge. “I need a private channel with General Avocet, as soon as possible, regarding his last message. Put it through to my quarters,” he tells the now very overworked comms-person. Thrum then returns to his room and gets to work on other reports and things until his console beeps.

“General Avocet, sir.” The commo says, before the image of the General appears on Thrum’s screen.

“My apologies for this General, I just want to make sure we’re following things by the book. Shall I place Levante under arrest, or simply keep him confined to quarters? And, is returning him to the Citadel a top priority, or do we have permission to continue our work here until our next scheduled visit?”

The response arrives a minute or so later. Avocet frowns. “Given that he’s a material witness, potentially an accessory, to an act of espionage against the Vanguard – and seeing as how we may need as much leverage as we can muster against Rodrigo Levante – getting young Armand back to Sol *is* your mission. Assign a marine detail to guard him until the handoff. I wouldn’t say this is an arrest yet. Just…keep him comfy in his room. Avocet out.” He cuts the transmission.

“That is what I thought…good to have it on record though.” Thrum mutters to himself, before he turns on the intercom and says, “Corporal Vrex to the Captain’s Quarters.” And with that he gets back to that fuel report he had been working on.

The marine corporal arrives at Lt. Thrum’s quarters within minutes. “Captain,” the Zangali says once his ring is answered, coming to attention with a salute as he reports in.

“Put a guard on Ensign Levante. He is not under arrest persay, but he is to be confined to quarters for the duration of our voyage. Thank you, Corporal.” Thrum says, dismissing the soldier, before he keys his intercom to the Bridge, “Bridge, set course for Sol system. You may jump once the course is laid in.”

In his quarters, Armand Levante sits on his bunk, sulking. He thought he’d escaped his problems with this assignment to the Zheng He. Thought he’d left behind the mistakes of the past. He’d been ready for a fresh start. Now, his own brother had managed to drag him back into the quagmire. Did Roddy have a good reason for what he did? Would it matter? “Why, Roddy?” Armand asks the bulkhead. It doesn’t answer.

Light years away, Rodrigo Levante walks down the ramp of the Duncan Idaho onto the dusty landing pad in the town of Four Corners on Quaquan. He’s not sure how long he can run, and now it’s doubly bad: Consortium Intelligence, the Vanguard, *and* the minions of Lord Fagin are hunting him. He almost turned himself in to the Vanguard or the intelligence folks – they might keep him safe. But he’d heard rumors of a witness to an assassination plot getting killed by a mole just in the past few weeks. He couldn’t risk it.

He felt horrible leaving his little brother in the lurch. But Rodrigo didn’t see a choice. He’d get a new identity, erase the old one, and then worry about how to extricate Armand from trouble.

Just got to survive a little while longer, he thinks, and steps into the shadows of the spaceport.

Vrex finds his way to the junior officers’ quarters, posting two of his marines at the door before stepping in himself. Finding it empty with the exception of Ensign Levante, he makes his way over Armand’s bunk. “Sir,” he says with a nod, “I wanted to let you know that the skipper has ordered a protective detail for you. They will remain outside unless you need them. The captain also wishes you to remain here until we reach Sol. If you should need to leave for any reason before then, please allow my men to consult the captain, first.”

The ship shudders as it begins its journey back to Sol. Thrum writes up his report quickly, but delays in sending it for now. Rather, he opens up a small box in his desk drawer, and pulls out a bottle of something of rye. He pours himself a small glass, and then sits back to watch the stars fly by. A few minutes later, he starts writing up commendations for those who showed great perception in finding the tracking beacon and spotting the Martinette’s doppleganger while he nurses his drink.

“OK,” Armand replies to Vrex. He’s still sitting on his bunk. “I don’t want to leave. I made a mistake falling that far into debt with Lord Fagin. But I didn’t conspire with Roddy to spy on the Vanguard. I wish someone believed me.”

“With all due respect, sir,” Vrex replies, “It doesn’t matter to me. Sir.” He offers a quick salute, and clomps back out into the hall.

A handful of hours later, a voice comes over the intercom in Thrum’s stateroom, “We’ve arrived at Sol system, sir. Beginning approach to Citadel base.” The Lieutenant starts awake from where he was napping at his console. He rubs his eyes, keys the comm and replies, “I’ll be up in ten minutes,” and then stalks off to the shower. Once that is done, he makes his way to the bridge and says simply, “Hail Citadel Base, tell them to inform the General we have arrived.”

In the main docking hub of Citadel Base, General Charles Avocet awaits the delivery of Ensign Armand Levante by the crew of the Zheng He. His attache, a weary-looking young man with short-cropped dark hair, glances up from his PDA and says: “Our source in Four Corners reports that Rodrigo Levante may have been sighted after the Duncan Idaho landed.”

“Did they seize the freighter?” the general inquires.

“Tried to,” the aide replies. “Out of Consortium jurisdiction, though. Local authorities wouldn’t act without more evidence.”

“Did someone at least put a tail on Levante?”

“Briefly,” the aide answers.

“They lost him,” Avocet concludes.

“They lost him,” the aide confirms.

“I’m having a bad day, Milton,” the general says, clasping his hands behind his back. “You know what that means?”

“I’m having a worse day,” Milton ventures.

The general nods. He goes back to waiting in seething silence.

“Corporal Vrex, make sure Ensign Levante has all of his personal effects. I have a feeling he will not be returning to the ship.” Thrum says on the internal comms to the Marine Corporal. “Then, meet me with the Ensign at the hatch when we dock. You might want to dress up a bit, as I think we will be seeing the General.” He then turns his attention to the docking procedure, and lets the bridge crew carry that out under his watchful gaze. A routine dock, no problems, no surprises. The Lieutenant nods once, turns, and then walks off the bridge, saying to his XO in passing, “Begin re-fueling procedures, and see if we can’t top off our stores. Not sure what the General might have in store for us, but I doubt it’s a three day leave.”

The Zangali corporal shows up at the junior officers’ quarters in service dress rather than his usual utility uniform, having sent a marine ahead to inform Ensign Levante of Thrum’s orders. “Are you ready, sir?” he asks.

“No,” Levante replies, somewhat contemptuously. But his duffel is packed and tucked between his knees. He gets to his feet. Slings the sack over his shoulder.

“I know,” the Zangali replies, almost sounding sympathetic, “But it’s time anyway.” He gestures towards the door. “After you, sir.”

At the docking hatch Thrum is standing, looking down at his datapad. When he gets the beep from the Bridge that docking is completed, he gives the handle of the door a hard pull, and opens the airlock with a hiss of compressed air. The Lieutenant then steps through the hatch and starts down the gangway to the deck. He walks with a purpose and when he gets to within a couple of yards of the General he stops and salutes, “Lieutenant Thrum turning over Ensign Levante to Citadel Base Command,” he says crisply.

Avocet returns the salute. “Lieutenant, thank you. Welcome back to Citadel. Glad you didn’t have any major problems at Beta Ophiuchi. Scary place, seems like.” He peers at Levante as he emerges from the airlock with the Marine detachment. “And I wager Ensign Levante wouldn’t mind being back at Beta Ophiuchi right about now.”

Thrum nods once and says, “We’d not be here without the hard work and quick thinking of my crew. Ensign Levante included. I will only add that he was very forthcoming with the information we requested, and cooperated fully with my investigation, sir.” He then looks over his shoulder at the Ensign being led forward.

Corporal Vrex and two other marines lead the Ensign out of the Zheng He. Offering a salute to the two senior officers, he stands aside to allow them to conduct their business.

Levante gives a curt salute to the general as he arrives with his military escort. “Ensign Armand Levante, reporting as ordered, sir.”

Avocet returns the salute, then says: “Milton will take you from here. There’s a fellow named Colclough from the CIS with a few questions. Keep cooperating, ensign. It’s in your best interests.” As the attache leads Levante away, the general returns his attention to Thrum. “And you’re going back to Beta Ophiuchi. Weapons division wants a sample of that material you encountered.”

Thrum watches the Ensign being escorted away. He then looks over to the General addressing him, “Yes sir. Do they happen to have any suggestions as to how we might pull that off without becoming…infected ourselves?” the Lieutenant asks. “It disabled our probes relatively quickly, and I have to suspect that there is a boundary around the planet that the material is able to exist in space, but I am not confident in our ability to keep it from assimilating our ship once we’ve come into contact with it.”

“It’s a good question, Lieutenant,” Avocet replies. “And I am confident the smart people on the Zheng He can put their noggins together and find a solution. I damn sure hope so. Because whoever put that tracking device on your ship knows you went out to Beta Ophiuchi. Fagin’s people, most likely. And if that rat bastard can get his hands on the tech, he’ll sell it to the highest bidder. We don’t want the Nall buying it at any price.”

The Zangali marine corporal waits in silence, though his eyes follow the conversation.

A grimace passes over Thrum’s face as he replies simply, “Yes sir.” He considers for a half a moment and then says, “If you happen to have any science-y types you might be able to let me borrow for a few days, that would be quite useful. Since we currently have an open bunk.” As he says this he turns to the Corporal and says, “Vrex, go inform the XO of our orders so he can begin plotting a course back to Beta Ophiuchi.”

The general nods to Thrum. “I’ll assign an egghead within the hour. Thank you, Lieutenant. Dismissed.” With that, he strolls away.

“Sir, General,” Vrex says with a salute to the two officers before heading off to fulfill his orders.

“Sounds good, sir. We will be back on station by the end of the day.” Thrum replies, before he salutes the General as the man leaves. Once he has been dismissed, he turns and heads back up the ramp to the ship. Once aboard he makes his way to the bridge to get an update on the fueling status, and then waits for the aforementioned ‘egghead’ to arrive so he can get on his way.

[SLACK ROLEPLAYING LOG] #rp-space: Awakening the Goddess

In transit, on the knife edge of time and space, breaking the light barrier with the Tilsworth-Cooke Drive, the Vanguard carrier Versailles leads a combined fleet of warships searching for the renegade Yaralu known as Kemetti. General Charles Avocet, the fleet commander, peruses images of wreckage from the destroyed cruise liner Avondale. Thousands of people looking forward to a relaxing getaway, snuffed out in moments by the whim of this great beast.

A fighter on patrol finds a trail similar to the one that led the fleet here. It is an FTL trace leading to the Fringe, possibly Ungstir.

“Nest, this is Fledgling Six,” reports the pilot aboard the Stinger fighter that’s running point for the Versailles. “My sensors show a polydenum burst residue trail aimed roughly toward Ungstir.” The general orders the navigator to plot a transit solution. In ten minutes, the drive should be powered up for another jump. Fledgling Six is ordered back to the Nest.

In the outer reaches of Ungstir’s system in far orbit of its sun, Kemetti keeps  his sensors active, looking for any stray vessels that might venture too far from the established shipping lanes.

Once Fledgling Six is back aboard Versailles, the combined battle group makes the jump toward Ungstir. Avocet orders a message broadcast on all subspace frequencies: “Denizens of Ungstir, this is General Charles Avocet of the Stellar Consortium. I have reason to believe the creature that destroyed the cruise liner Avondale may be in your region soon. Take all necessary precautions.”

Kemetti picks up the transmission and immediately begins to move further away from the system, watching as most traffic scatters to safe berths. He begins to consider his options before deciding upon a destination. Moments later, he wheels around and leaps into FTL. Towards the Line of Pain.

Some time later, the combined fleet drops to sublight in the Perseverance star system, where the remnants of Ungstir orbit. Immediately, fighters spill from the Versailles and start their picket routes in search of Kemetti. Nothing immediately shows on sensors. So the patrolling ships start scanning for polydenum bursts.

The patrols eventually come across Kemetti’s trail far away from Perseverance, and it seems to make a beeline for Parallax space.

“That’s interesting,” observes General Avocet as he reviews the latest trajectory projections for the creature. “Very interesting.” He prepares another message for transmission to Nalhom on an encrypted diplomatic channel: “This is General Charles Avocet of the Consortium starship Versailles. We are tracking a violent sentient starship that destroyed a cruise liner near Antimone. Our evidence suggests the creature is now en route to Parallax territory. I trust this may not meet with your approval. If you need our assistance, please advise. We have no intention of crossing the Line of Pain.”

Kemetti comes out of FTL at the Line of Pain and begins to race along it, moving as quickly as possible from his polydenum trail. A week is but a moment in the life of a Yaralu and he seems quite content from his last meal.

The Clawed Fist Fleet responds to the warning from the Consortium, dispatching a dozen warships – including a carrier – toward the Line of Pain.

Just outside Parallax space, on the edge of the border net, Kemetti continues his rapid, though sublight journey along the Line of Pain, heading in the general direction of the Ancient Expanse. He dodges through wrecked ships with surprising agility as he uses the line not unlike a fox might use a river to mask evidence of his passing.

Ur’soth Yok of Hatch Kavir, commander of the Clawed Fist Fleet carrier Slashing Strike, waits impatiently for the report from the sensors station.

The Huth reviewing the data hangs suspended in a chain-and-cushion seat, clawed feet dangling inches above the deck plate. His tail lashes back and forth as he swipes the sensor display to a great magnification, showing the nearest span of wreckage in the Line of Pain.

The faintest blip – a sensor ping from one of the Nalhom intelligence probes, reporting a vessel in motion, matching no known profile. Massive. He transmits the data to the Ur’soth, the weapons officer, and the flight deck.

Yokkavir studies the pulsing signal as it is traced in real-time. “Prepare to intercept and launch fighters,” he hisses. “And notify the Vanguard: we are tracking the creature. They must not violate our territory. We will deal with it.”

Beginning to detect approaching vessels, Kemetti puts his trust in speed to keep ahead of all but the smaller vessels. Moving laterally across the border, he makes certain to keep the interdiction net between himself and the Parallax so as to keep retreat an option.

General Avocet lifts his eyebrows as he reads the communique from the Nall.

His adjutant asks: “Shall we break off pursuit, sir?”

The general shakes his head. “No. We maintain a parallel along the Line of Pain until we’re sure the Nall have engaged the enemy. Until then, we do our best to give that monster nowhere to run.” He studies the map on one of his HUDs. A wave of his hand zooms out. He moves “north” a bit, toward the less-explored territory. “Our prey is going sublight now. Tell the Sivadians to jump ahead to these coordinates.” He indicates a spot that remains outside the Line of Pain but might cut Kemetti off on his path to the Ancient Expanse.

Kemetti picks up on one of the Vanguard sensor nodes ahead of him, and a tendril reaches out and snatches it. With a sudden change in thrust, he converts his forward momentum into rotation and hurls the unmanned device in towards Parallax territory before setting off again.

Rear Admiral Plimpton St. John-Crowell waits with implacable calm as the five ships of his fleet make their transit at FTL to the coordinates ordered by General Avocet.

During the journey, he has time to enter a new log while sitting in his quarters.

“I am grateful for the opportunity thus provided by the Vanguard fleet commander,” the rear admiral states into the mic. “It is my solemn vow to avenge those lost aboard the Avondale. I consider it mandatory, particularly because I accept full responsibility for prompting the massacre when our fleet dropped to sublight near Antimone. The fact that I was acting on orders is no excuse. I must live with their blood on my hands. I can but hope to die well trying to balance the ledger.”

Picking up movement in FTL ahead of him, Kemetti continues on course, as the sensor probe behind him begins to approach the Line of Pain.

The sensor officer aboard the Slashing Strike reports the detection of a sublight object roundabout where the redirected sensor probe is moving. Nowhere near as massive, though. Still, he diligently reports it to Yokkavir. The Ur’soth huffs, flicking a forked tongue as he ponders.

“Debris from the Line of Pain, perhaps,” Yokkavir muses. “Displaced by the beast, possibly. But this entire episode could be a ruse of the Vanguard to find a way to get close to the Line of Pain and skirt our defenses.”

He orders a third of the fleet contingent to intercept the sensor probe. The rest remain on a course matching Kemetti.

Kemetti does not change his course, still awaiting whatever lies in store ahead of him.

What lies in store drops to sublight adjacent to the Line of Pain ahead of Kemetti – five Sivadian Navy vessels, including the carrier Lafayette, which immediately unleashes a dozen fighters while battleships Winston and Manchester lock their main guns on the Yaralu. The two destroyers, Corbin and Blackstone, move into flanking vectors as they prepare to engage Kemetti.

As the FTL signatures approach, Kemetti slows to be out of bombardment range upon their arrival. When they arrive, he cuts sharply to starboard, towards the Blackstone’s course and the interdiction net. No going back now.

Soon after, the Nall fleet drops to sublight on the other side of the interdiction net – with the Blackstone between them and Kemetti. Yokkavir is displeased by this turn of events, but orders fighters and accompanying Nall warships to engage the Yaralu. “If the softskin ship is damaged, so be it,” the Ur’soth growls.

As the Yaralu approaches the Blackstone, a pair of tendrils flash out towards the vessel,   but rather than attempting to ensare it, they seem to be engaged in a striking motion.

The Blackstone tries – unsuccessfully – to dodge the strike. But Kemetti now finds himself in range of the battleship guns, as well as plasma missile launches from the Nall fleet. All weapons in range are firing on the Yaralu, while the Blackstone is sundered in half in a burst of shrapnel and oxygen. As the assault begins, the Vanguard fleet arrives from behind Kemetti. The noose is tightening.

Kemetti seems almost surprised at how easily the Blackstone is destroyed and is forced to change his plan and direction. As he detects the missile launches, he cuts hard to port towards the main Sivadian fleet, drawing the missiles after him as his shields and body keeps the battleships’ fire off of them.

As Kemetti maneuvers, he also faces the onslaught of fighter swarms from three militaries as the Vanguard joins the fight along the Line of Pain.

It is a situation fraught with danger, as Nall ships, Sivadians, and Vanguard find themselves launching salvos at the Yaralu with little concern about the crossfire.  Missiles, rail guns, pulse cannons – the void is suddenly a chaotic miasma of destructive energy and projectiles.

The Yaralu leads those few missiles toward the main Sivadian force, but Kemetti himself is the hub of a wheel of destruction. And while most of those blasts are going to find their target, not just a few are catching allies and cold war enemies alike in the crossfire.

“Damn it,” Avocet mutters as he watches the threat board HUD swarming with bloody fireflies and blossoming spirals. “Even after that beast’s down, the Nall are going to have their blood up.”

Born in the vastness of space, Kemetti is in his element, with no need for cold metal between him and the space around him. His shields begin to fail as he leaves the edge of the interdiction net, however, and it seems that he may be unable to draw the fight into the midst of the Sivadian fleet in time. He has yet one more ploy open to him. With a strain of effort and thrust, he pulls up, taking a course parallel to the galactic axis where none of the fleets have moved. Once there are but a few fighters between him and open space, he engages his FTL propulsion. He might take a deal of damage on the way out, but the fleets below him might find themselves otherwise occupied.

“Oh, no, you don’t,” Rear Admiral Plimpton St. John-Crowell proclaims as he spies Kemetti’s escape maneuver. He stands at his command station and shouts: “Ramming trajectory, ahead full!” He aims to put the nose of the Sivadian carrier through the sentient starship’s belly.

Meanwhile, the Vanguard and Clawed Fist fighters continue to harry the Yaralu, peppering it with blasts – and occasionally slamming into each other.

“Jesus wept,” Avocet says as he sees the Sivadian commander’s maneuver. “Someone took the Avondale really personally.” He then orders all weapons to open fire. “Empty the magazines! Take that monster out!”

Spewing fluids from tears in his hull, the Yaralu has no time to await the arrival of the carrier from the rear line. He takes a fighter or two in the face, but it is better than a carrier in the chest. It isn’t pretty, and it isn’t fun, but the immense creature slips out of the universe, clawing for velocity.

The Sivadian rear admiral watches, powerless, as his wounded quarry slips away. To be fair, most of the bridge crew seem relieved that they haven’t succeeded in killing themselves with a kamikaze maneuver.

St. John-Crowell, on the other hand, looks gaunt and broken. Still, he smooths the front of his uniform jacket, tugs at the lower hem, and then transfers the conn to his second in command before retiring to his office adjacent to the bridge.

He sits in the chair at his desk, pulls a slugthrower from the drawer, puts the barrel to his temple, and pulls the trigger. Blood, brains, and hair splatter the rectangular porthole behind him.

“Break off,” Avocet yells, a command relayed to the fleet. “It’s over! Fledglings, back to the Nest!”

As the Consortium forces tear away from the battleground, leaving wreckage from two empires – and bits and pieces of Kemetti – Yokkavir observes from the bridge of the Slashing Strike. His jaw falls open, hissing in amusement. “The Goddess slumbers no longer,” he whispers. “Send word to the Vox: Consortium forces violated the Line of Pain and engaged our glorious warriors in their attempt to destroy that ridiculous creature. Let’s see how she feels about this violation of our sovereignty.”

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Contagion suspect in custody

CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA – Vanguard officials confirmed today that they have arrested a woman in connection with the release of a deadly virus on base.

Cape Canaveral’s research facilities have been on lockdown since Tuesday night, when Delilah Grantham, 26, is said to have unleashed an airborne variant of Ebola called “Ebola Browndell.”

The engineered virus is named after the birthplace of Lexington Clay, reportedly a cousin of Grantham’s. He was shot and killed in a border incident earlier this month.

Dozens of people on base have been exposed to the virus and may be symptomatic within days unless a cure is found. Presumably, the mortality rate is extremely high without proper treatment.