NPC: Kukagerrg, Vuedueloghz, Laki Semarkali
Location: Roetingaz Station (Starport)
The shock of what has just happened is starting to fade from Fi when Vued pulls
up in a air sled with some human. Before he stops the thing, he's already
shouting, "Fi! Are you ok? Where's Verroel?"
"I'm fine," Fi says as Vued leaps over the police barricade, his ACR slung over his back. The human follows him. He has a shotgun. "Verroel is...I don't know where Verroel is."
"What do you mean you don't know?"
"Exactly that. He got knocked unconscious during the attack. Kukagerrg and I barely escaped. By the time we went back with the SWAT team, the ship had already opened the hangar bay to vacuum. Safety locks kept us out. And then the ship was gone."
"You mean he got spaced?"
"I don't know. I don't think so. Before the ship left, I looked through the window. None of the bodies looked like him."
Vued is pacing, clearly agitated. "This is dhakashit!"
Kukagerrg, who'd been talking to the SWAT team commander, comes over, carrying a datapad. He says to Fi, "Search and recovery has all the bodies. Five of my crew and one of the attackers." He hands the datapad to Fi. "If you want to look..."
Fi looks at datapad, scrolling through the pictures. He thinks that he recognizes two of the crew from the bar, which seems like months ago.
"I take it you know this wolf," Kukagerrg says to him.
"What? Oh, yes. This is Vuedueloghz. Vuedueloghz, Kukagerrg."
"I wish I could say, 'Well met,'" Vued says.
Vued wags a finger. "Weren't you a pack mate of Verroel's from his Vurrghadoukfoun days?"
"Yes. And you?"
"I met him when we were both with the Touzagh."
Kukagerrg nods. "Who's the toasted pinkie?"
"Oh, this is Laki Semarkali. He's supposed to be our popsicle for the trip to Miiko Belt. He came along for the ride."
"Hi," Laki says in human-accented Gvegh, still holding the shotgun. His features peg him as Vilani. He nervously slings the weapon. "Guess I won't be needing this."
"You will," Kukagerrg replies. "It's just a question of when."
Vued narrows his gaze at Kukagerrg. "So you want to go after them?"
"Of course I do. That's my ship and my pack those fukhers stole. And I think Verroel is on the ship, too."
"Why do you think that?" Fi asks.
"He's not among the dead, number one. And number two, did you see the way he's dressed?"
"He dresses like a captain. In the heat of battle, they probably thought he was me and dragged him aboard."
Vued and Fi's ears perk up.
"But we're gonna need a plan."
Fi says, "Well I can pilot our ship, but I don't know this area of space. Where would you take a stolen ship? And I think we'll need some extra muscle as there's only the four of us."
"You're including me?" Laki asks.
Vued replies, "Oh yeah, we're supposed to deliver you to Miiko Belt for work. Unless you'd rather come with us."
"Well, I...I never thought that...wow, an adventure. This could be...but I don't know. What if this doesn't pan out...but this could be my only chance—"
Vued howls in mock pain. "Yer killing me, Laki. Are you in or out?"
"In. But what are you going to do about Miiko Belt?"
Vued turns to face Fi. "Well, what do you want to do about Miiko?"
"Well, hopefully this is only a slight detour while we rescue the Captain and the other ship." Addressing Laki, he says, "Once we have things back as they should be we can drop you off at the Belt if that’s where you want to be."
Laki looks off to the distance, apparently thinking about his options. "I don't know right now, but I'll certainly let you know."
Vued chuckles. "He wants a taste of the hunt to see if he's got the belly for it."
Laki nods. "Something like that."
Kukagerrg jumps in to the conversation. "I can get us the extra muscle. What kind of ship are you flying?"
Fi swallows, then says, "An Angrorghag class Seeker."
"Oh that'll never work. We'll never catch them in that thing. No offense. We can either sell the ship and use the money as a down payment on something faster, or we can be passengers on someone else's ship. What do you say?"
"Not my ship to sell. Vued, do we have enough in the kitty to take a trip?"
"Verroel is the one who holds on to all the money, so the whole kitty is wherever he is. Any trip we take is going to have to be bankrolled out of our personal stash.
"And Verroel may be the captain, but this ship is half mine. If we sold her, we wouldn't have to worry about that Ninnigam jump drive problem anymore.
"If we leave the ship here, it's going to cost us 100 credits a day after week's end. So I don't think leaving it here is going to be a good idea. But she's too slow to keep up with a corsair."
"I'm all up for selling the ship if you're happy to. As the pinkies used to say of old, 'Better to ask forgiveness then beg permission.' We can sort the captain out when we find him. We need a good price but we also need a quick sale 'cause the longer we dawdle the further the captain gets away." Fi thinks for a moment. "And best not mention the Ninnigam jump drive problem to any potential buyers."
Kukagerrg asks what they mean by "Ninnigam jump drive problem," and Fi explains it to him.
"Yeah, never mention that. Then again, any dealership with a clue will be scrutinizing her drives. You're probably stuck with her."
The group mulls that over for several seconds.
Vued breaks the silence, asking Kukagerrg, "Why would someone hijack your ship? Yeah, it would be great to have, but it's not a soft target. They had to expect resistance."
Kukagerrg scratches behind his ear. "I don't think it's your average pirate. They wouldn't have the resources to override station security the way they did, and their captain would just try to win over the crew rather than attack them."
"Not on this side of the border. This took someone with a real hacker on the payroll. I would bet my pension that it's Disjuncture dogs. They've got the resources, and they certainly have motive."
"What motive? Wouldn't they just kill you?"
"On the battlefield, yes. But here, they'd be better off grabbing all of our intel from the computer and possibly pretending to be one of the Confederation's privateers. There's no easy jump across the border here. They'd have to head coreward through several Confederation worlds or head trailward through neutral territory. Depends on the location of their base. My guess is coreward. The worlds trailing here are too close to their front lines with the Vilani. Coreward, things are more established, pacified. Much more likely to have their anti-Confederation espionage base there.
"So, if they're going to cross the border, they'll need to do it at Kasukfog, which is six parsecs due coreward from here. If we take your ship, we'll need to take a slightly different course, but we could get there in seven weeks."
Vued shakes his head. "But they've got jump-2. They could do it in four weeks."
Kukagerrg counters, "But you're forgetting that they misjumped."
"Yeah, but that just means they could be anywhere." Vued throws up his paws. "It's hopeless."
Kukagerrg isn't giving in to despair. "Misjumps are random. There's just as much of a chance that they could be on the spinward side of the border as the trailing side. Either way, they'll have to head to their base, probably on Dhanguerr."
"So what are you saying?"
"We just go—with your ship—up to Kasukfog. I'll check in, find out if anyone has seen my ship, and we'll either wait for them at Kasukfog if they haven't or cross the border if they have."
"In our ship." Vued folds his arms.
"Yes! It'll be the perfect cover. No one will expect it to be a threat."
"A threat? You're mad! This bitch has far smaller teeth than yours."
Kukagerrg grins. "Leave that to me. I have enough contacts up at Kasukfog to even up the odds. Besides, they'll be on the run, and I'm sure that between my crew and Verroel, they'll be doing everything possible to slow them down." He pauses to let that sink in. "Well, what do you say, wolves? Are you in?"
Fi replies, "Sounds like a plan; let's do it."
Vued smacks himself in the forehead. "I forgot that we've got that freight that's destined for Miiko Belt. If we deliver it now, they'll take our new friend Laki and put him to work."
Laki looks deflated by the thought of going on with his assignment.
Fi says to him, "If you're serious about coming with us I can probably fake your death in low berth. You'll need a new identity and can never go back to where you're from, but it's doable. Otherwise it's off to the mines for you."
Laki clutches his head, a panicked look in his eyes.
Vued continues, "If we keep the cargo, they'll put a bounty on our tails."
Kukagerrg asks, "Can't you just return it? Tell the supplier that an emergency came up and that you can't deliver it."
"I guess so. That could still get us into trouble."
Fi says, "We need to deliver the freight and sell the ship so we can get after the captain ASAP. We're on the clock here so make a decision."
Vued's ears shoot straight up. "If we deliver the freight to Miiko Belt, who are we going to sell the ship to there? The place can't get a decent InfoNet set up. How in blazes are they going to be able to buy our starship? They'd give us a biscuit for a whole carcass! Fukh that! Let's just dump the cargo back on the supplier and high tail it out of here."
NPC: Kukagerrg, Vuedueloghz, Laki Semarkali
Location: Roetingaz Station (Starport)
Getting clearance to leave has taken some work. First off, there was push back
from Usaghurrg Corp, the electronics manufacturer the group was supposed to pick
up parts from to deliver to Miiko Belt. When it seemed like Vuedueloghz wasn't
going to win the fight over the comm, Kukagerrg stepped in and got all lawyerly
on them. Usaghurrg reluctantly agreed to take their freight back and took their
time to come and pick it up.
Laki called his employer, Laekakotha Consulting, and quit. When they pushed back, Vued got on the line and barked back a litany of worker's rights that got them off of Laki's back.
Then there was the matter of the investigation. After arranging for spare gear to be purchased, Kukagerrg spent much of his time divulging as much information to the authorities as he knew. Once they were satisfied, he contacted the other captains in his squadron and let them know his plans. It was decided that all but one ship would carry on with their orders. The remaining ship would proceed coreward to Kasukfog, the checkpoint world where the hijackers will need to cross the border to the 17th Disjuncture, to warn the Confederation Navy.
So now that the ship is free from its commercial and legal entanglements, Fi gets clearance from Traffic Control to jet on out of here.
[...to be continued...]