Summary of Week in Jump

Characters: Darrurz, Joe, Mazun
NPC: Ungunu, Uedzaks, Zhosokh
Location: Paql Reveresh Ridl
System: Jumpspace between Akofotsidano and Aetosak's outermost gas giant

1202.24.4 - 19:40 IST to 1202.25.4 - 18:55 IST

Darrurz offers Uedzaks a choice: "Do you want to learn to fly this ship or learn to fight with it? If you want to fly it, then that's me. If you want to fight with it, then that's Joe."

Uedzaks mulls the offer over for several seconds, then decides that he wants to learn how to be a pilot. So Darrurz spends time every day teaching Uedzaks the basics of starship flight.

Meanwhile, Mazun works on educating Ungunu on the basics of engineering, although Mazun spends a good deal of that time getting familiar with Zhodani engine design.

Joe goes through the ship, relabeling signs in Galanglic and Gvegh until everyone is familiar with the layout.

He also runs a few sims on the sensors and gunnery station to familiarize himself with the systems and learn the capabilities of the ship, which is armed with beam lasers and a sandcaster. The pre-programmed scenarios indicate that the Zhodani expected to deal with pirates, Imperial privateers, and make for fast escapes from system defense boats.

Darrurz also goes through the ship's logs on the captain's datapad that he found on that first night aboard the ship. He's curious to see what mission they were on that would bring them so far from home.

From what Darrurz can tell, the crew of the Paql Reveresh Ridl were on a reconnaissance mission to meet with and observe how Vargr states on the trailing side of the Windhorn were faring with their invasion of the Imperium. Upon hearing about the release of an AI computer virus, they fled towards home to warn the Zhodani Consulate. Try as they might, they couldn't make it through Corridor. The captain decided to take his chances with going around the Windhorn Rift coreward. As chance would have it, they landed on Akofotsidano for fuel and supplies. They expected a quick turnaround, but the starport warden was suspicious of their intent and initially held up their fuel order. The captain took offense and ordered the crew to take the fuel truck and life support refurbishment supplies by force. The starport warden called for reinforcements. The captain's last log entry tells of him and his crew heading outside to provide cover for the refueling operation and that ZeeBee would be protecting the ship should anyone try to board it. Clearly, that last decision was a mistake.

As for personal equipment, there were apparently seven Zhodani on board as there's seven of everything: vacc suits, filter masks with multiple contaminant cartridges, respirators, and full spectrum goggles. Obviously, some of these may not fit a Vargr.

There are no weapons or ammo. It is assumed that they went out all guns blazing.

There are plenty of tool kits as well as a small parts fabricator.

Darrurz eagerly checks to see if the fabricator is capable of making the parts needed to make itself. The answer yields mixed results. Yes, the fabricator is capable of making most of said parts, but only at the most basic level. "Dumb" parts. For example, it can make the housing, the extruder nozzle, the feeder tubes, the heating element, etc., but it can't put them together. Complex parts like integrated circuits are beyond its capabilities, but passive electronic components (like resistors, inductors, and capacitors) and simple transistors are possible.

There are also a few stock BSD panels for patching holes in a ship's hull and a welding kit to do the job.

The medical room is well stocked with equipment and medical supplies to treat wounds, radiation poisoning, nausea, burns, food poisoning, and neurotoxins.

There's a portable airlock and iris valve opener, so now you have two of the latter.

There's also 100 meters of rope, a radiation counter, several cold light lanterns (torches), an atmosphere tester, a nine square meter tent (folded up), and a portable heater with four small canisters of propane.

Arrival in the Aetosak System

Characters: Darrurz, Joe, Mazun
NPC: Ungunu, Uedzaks, Zhosokh
Location: Paql Reveresh Ridl, at Aetosak's outermost gas giant
System: Aetosak

1202.25.4 - 18:55 IST

Paql Reveresh Ridl emerges from jumpspace. Once passive sensors come back online, the targeted gas giant lies ahead.

A laser comm call comes in from close by. With Zhosokh standing at the ready, the signal is accepted.

The voice is Arthur's. "Good to see you made it. Now that we're two ships, do you want to leave a ship up here to keep watch while the other dives, or shall we stick together? We're in agreement over here that we should stick together. Going separately will take a lot longer."

Joe says, "I'd be happy to have both ships to re-fuel together. I'll man the sensor station to ensure that we keep a safe minimum distance apart."

From down in engineering, Mazun agrees.

Darrurz replies over the ship-to-ship line, "Ok, let's go together." On the internal comm, he says, "Uedzaks, I'll set the course, you can start the initial run, and I'll take over for the skim." Back on the ship-to-ship line, he says, "Thaedznou, we'll need to discuss our next jump."

"How about now? We've got some time before we hit the bottom of the well."

Darrurz replies, "Let me just get a course set up for Uedzaks, then we can talk."

"Standing by."

It takes Darrurz a couple of minutes to lay in the course for Uedzaks and offer some reassuring words, reminding him of the training they simulated over the past week.

Once he's done, he continues his conversation with Thaedznou, "Well, when we left Akofotsidano you suggested that we jump straight for Ghudue saying that you wanted to get back as our encounter on Akofotsidano was important. So did you want to jump to Gvoksaedo and then on to Tsougak to get the news back to the Trade Federation? We know Gvoksaedo, and with it not being attractive to the Vakh, it's less risky than jumping into Ghudue with empty tanks.

"We've got two ships, so the Paql could continue the survey of the cluster while Jack's Prize could go straight back to Tsougak.

"We would jump to Ghudue, then on to Sugutadho and then on to Tsougak. We've an idea what to expect from the info we received on Gungaerrg, but it would be much better to go find out ourselves.

"Also, what are your thoughts on the Trade Federation's acceptance of Zhosokh and Zeebee?"

Joe suggests, "Let's jump direct to Gvoksaedo. If we can get Zhosokh, and especially Zeebee, to take over the bots/comp at the starport, we'd have a very good case to present to the Trade Federation as well as a nasty surprise to the next Vakh who comes calling."

"We'd need something to trade for the robots, and I'm not sure a weather report will do it this time." Darrurz tilts his head to one side "Although we could get some more fish...

"We could jump Ghudue, Sugutadho, Gvoksaedo then Tsougak, and if we can find something to trade along the way pick up the robots."

Thaedznou jumps into the conversation. "As for Darrurz's latter question, if the robots were to show up alone or with someone from outside the Trade Federation, the reaction would be suspicion at best, and hostility too likely. If they were like the Gungaerrgans, I believe that they would bite first and sniff the air later. With Aerrak and me present—no offense to Arthur—we should be able to argue the case for their acceptance, although I believe that their access to the surface will be restricted. I'm certain that we'll have to prove to command that they're allies before we're given clearance to land.— "As for Darrurz's plan, I agree with it. Jack's Prize will proceed to Gvoksaedo and then Tsougak to brief command. The Paql should continue with the original mission. But I've a couple of questions for you. Are you going to survey Aetosak while you're in this system? And which of the Trade Federation's systems will you be returning to? I want to notify Federation Security so that they'll be expecting you."

Darrurz replies, "I think we should follow the path of Ghudue, Sugutadho, Gvoksaedo then Tsougak. We may have to jump to Saelfaek if Sugutadho is a problem. So Thaedznou, it's likely that we'll enter the trade federation at Tsougak, but we may enter at Saelfaek."


"If Zhosokh and Zeebee are likely to be a problem with those in the Trade Federation then we should probably take them both on the Paql."

"I'm not sure how that helps unless your thinking is that I can prepare Federation Security for their eventual arrival."

Darrurz continues, "Zhosokh, Zeebee, what are your thoughts on that?"

ZeeBee replies, "I am aware of the destruction that our kind has inflicted on organics. As such, their trepidation is logical. It may prove wiser for Thaedznou to prepare the Tsougak Trade Federation for our arrival rather than arriving without notice."

"My thoughts concur with ZeeBee," Zhosokh says.

"Alright then. It's settled. After refueling, we'll coordinate our ascent out of the gravity well so that ZeeBee can transfer over to the Paql."

Darrurz moves on. "As for Aetosak, I think we should survey it while we're here, and it might be a good idea for Mazan to check out the drives on Jack's Prize as we want to make sure you get home."

Mazun replies, "I checked them out while we were on Akfotsidano, and since they made here, I don't believe that they'll have a problem getting home. But go ahead and transmit the engineering sensor data over. I'll review it and have a go/no-go answer for you before jump."

"Works for me," Thaedznou answers.

“And Arthur, did you want to go with Thaedznou, or did you want to come on the Paql? And that goes for everyone else. Do you want to go with Thaedznou to the Trade Federation or stay and survey the rest of the cluster on the Paql?"

"Well, seein' as we have to dock the ships anyway for ZeeBee, I'll head on over. I'd probably be bored sittin' on the tarmac back at Tsougak waitin' for you guys to get back. I'm sure Joe could use back-up on security anyway, in case there are any surprises."

Uedzaks asks, "Would I be able to continue my pilot training on the other ship?"

"Yes," Thaedznou answers.

"Then I will go over to the other ship." He turns to Darrurz. "I very much would like to see Tsougak. Aerrak described it to me, and it sounds like paradise."

Ungunu says, "There is no engineer over on the other ship."

"No, there isn't," Thaedznou answers.

Ungunu says, "I have to think about it."

"You've got time," Thaedznou answers. "One problem though: I'm going to say that there aren't any Vargr vacc suits over there since the Zhodani were humans. Fortunately, there are four over here. We just have to get them to you."

ZeeBee volunteers to help carry the vacc suits over.

22:35 IST

Deceleration begins

25.5 - 00:35 IST

Skimming begins.

After initially encountering a patch of turbulence, Darrurz deftly steers clear of it and ultimately finds a laminar flow to successfully top off the tanks.

01:40 IST

Emerge from gas giant. Begin fuel purification and crew transfer.

Both ships maneuver to within 30 meters of one another. ZeeBee is seen towing Arthur from Jack's Prize while holding two spare vacc suits. Once safely aboard, Darrurz offers a crash course in wearing a vacc suit to Ungunu and Uedzaks. To make things even easier, ZeeBee will tow them over to Jack's Prize and then return to Paql. Although they're nervous at first, the former raiders are soon awed by the sight of the gas giant below. The trip over to the other ship goes without incident.

Once ZeeBee returns to Paql, the two ships head out to the jump point.

08:30 IST

Fuel purified. Both ships at safe jump distance with zero velocity. The two groups say their good-byes and then proceed to jump to their next destinations.


Characters: Darrurz, Joe, Mazun
NPC: Arthur, Zhosokh, ZeeBee
Location: Paql Reveresh Ridl
System: Aetosak

1202.25.5 - 8:31 IST

Paql Reveresh Ridl emerges from jumpspace with no velocity as planned. Over the next several seconds passive sensors gradually provide details of the immediate vicinity. Shortly after Aetosak appears on the monitor, Joe bolts upright.

"Ed says that there's vakh here."

"Where?" Arthur asks.

"On the planet below and in orbit."

Aetosak is a nasty place with a corrosive atmosphere full of sulfur compounds, including sulfuric acid. A former mining planet, its facilities were safely ensconced underground.

Darrurz starts to add velocity to the Paql for a high orbital insertion but with a vector that will allow him to break away from the planet if needed.

"Ok so I've laid in a course for high orbit insertion to get some velocity on the Paql, and we can break away if needed. So no communications with anyone. I'll set the jump for Ghudue, so we can initiate as soon as needed. Let's see what the scans show, but be ready. We've got a full load of canisters for sand which they might not be expecting but keep the lasers firing if we need to."

Arthur says, "We're already at the jump point, shouldn't we just leave before they spot us?"

"We could. I'm setting up the jump to Ghudue. But staying close to jump point might be prudent." Darrurz adjusts to an orbit at 100 diameters.

That makes Arthur feel better.

"Joe identify targets as you find them. If they are in orbit and they are Vakh I suggest we just shoot. Agreed? I have an evasive manoeuvre pattern set up if needed.

"Zhosokh, ZeeBee are you picking up anything?"

ZeeBee replies, "I am not."

Zhosokh replies, "Nor am I."

"Why is that?" Arthur asks.

ZeeBee answers, "It could be that we are too far out of range for either Zhosokh or I to detect the signal."

Darrurz pulls up the stats for Aetosak. “Tech Level 8; basic automated mining; 1,271 population—probably dead; starport with repair facilities and refined fuel. There's not much for the Vakh to get their teeth into. Would be good for a trap. What else might the Vakh be here for? They'll have to keep the place running, filtered, clean, etc. otherwise the atmosphere would just destroy everything.

"Why didn't our friends from Gungaerrg mention anything about Vakh being here? How did they not know? Did the Vakh not show themselves? They just reported that the world was dead."

Joe comments, "Well to be fair to the Gungaerrg folks, if I didn't have Ed listening out, we'd not know they are there either."

"Maybe the Vakh just got here. It could be a new op," Arthur offers.

"Still I'd like to know more," Joe flips up the sensitivity on the sensors and focuses in on Aetosak's orbit. "Unless we get some other signs before we make turnover point, I say we do a high velocity fly pass and aim for a random bit of sky beyond 100 diameters.

"Meanwhile, I'll see if Ed has gathered any more intel."

Darrurz puts the current orbit on the main display. "I'm currently setting up orbit at 100 diameters." Then he overlays a high orbital insertion. "This is what we could go to, or," he puts up Joe's suggestion of a high velocity fly pass and out to 100 diameters."

Arthur replies, "Yeah, I'd like to stay up here for now."

Passive sensors indicate that there is one ship in geostationary orbit over the former downport, which is where the settlement was, and another proceeding in a circumpolar orbit in a pattern that suggests it is scanning the world beneath it.

ZeeBee and Zhosokh have plugged in to the sensor array. Both indicate that they're able to detect Vakh telemetry through the expanded reach of the sensor array. They can confirm that the ship in the circumpolar orbit is indeed scanning the planet. The one in geostationary orbit over the former downport is communicating with a ship that is in the downport.

Based on the telemetry, Ed and the bots have come to the conclusion, separately, that the Vakh ships are working together to determine if there are more lanthanum deposits, or other minerals, to be mined from Aetosak, and if the downport and settlement can be made functional again.

An Aeksakughu scout is doing the scanning while a Raelugoe courier is parked in orbit. A Kaegkofaeg trader appears to be down at the settlement.

Joe thinks out loud, "Lanthanum deposits, hmmm, that sensor data would be valuable, but three ships? I doubt we could match them, even if we were able to attack the ships serially, which we can't, by the time we got to orbit they would be able to muster and intercept us. But lanthanum explains why there's a mining facility on such a hostile planet."

He alters the settings on the sensors, returns to full radial scan, "I wonder if they have a high guard ship lying in wait on an orbit off the elliptic plane." He begins another system-wide scan looking for thermal anomalies.

Darrurz wants to check the range to the Raelugoe. Since Joe is busy with the sensors, Darrurz pulls up the earlier readings. He gets a range of 1,640,000 km (984,000 mi) with a margin of error of +/- 12,000 km. The huge distance is a bit of a relief to Darrurz. He decides to keep the ship out of weapons range.

It takes Joe a while to complete the scan, but he finds no evidence of any other ships within ten light-minutes (~1.2 AUs) of their position.

Darrurz says, "Ok, so we're not in weapons range, there doesn't seem to be anyone else about, we believe that we know what they are doing, we have the jump to Ghudue programmed in, and I'm not countenancing going in for an attack. So options? What do we want to do?" Darrurz starts saving sensor readings for a profile of each ship while they discuss.

After a few moments of inner conflict (Joe wants to free the victims of the Vakh but knows they are outgunned), Joe replies, "Yeah, fire up the jump drive. There is nothing for us to do here." He hits save on the sensor log and returns the sensors to their default settings.

Arthur nods. "Agreed. I don't like our odds of takin' on three ships. This ship's not built for combat. Let's got on to Ghudue."

Mazun agrees.

Once the sensor data is saved, Darrurz engages the jump drive.

[ be continued...]