Mission Accomplished

Characters: Gvarokh, Vincent, Dougok, Slade
NPC: Lakir, Elloekothe, Chuck, Vlad, Uengghae, Simrii, Kagfak, Irma
Location: Pack of Daggers, parked in the hangar bay of the NCNS Aedhfazidzso
System: Gemid

1126.50.4 - 16:00 Imperial time, 16:00 Vilani Time

It has taken some time to set the plasma demolition charges and have the cameras put in place to witness the destruction of the weapon's manufacturing facility, but it is done. The familiar outline of the buildings, with the corporate sign out front, is wracked by a couple dozen explosions. A gray cloud of dust and debris rushes towards the camera, obscuring the view. When it settles the building is gone. Some cheers are heard, leaking in over the comms.

On the bridge of Pack of Daggers, Elloekothe turns to Gvarokh, relief in her eyes. She says, "Now we can go home."

Gvarokh smiles at Elloe's comment.

Admiral Laengnourz appears on the comm screen. "Once again, I'd like to thank you, Captain Gvarokh, for your assistance and whole-hearted cooperation in this endeavor. And on behalf of Great Hunter Ngath and the Confederation, thank you."

"Thank you. It was an honor and privilege to join in this endeavor."

"We're going to be here for some time sorting things out. We have all the information from you that we need, so if you'd like to be on your way, you're welcome to leave."

"I believe we will take that opportunity. Again, thank you for the privilege and opportunity to participate in this! May the Great Hunter Ngath and you continue to have success!"

After the connection is terminated, Gvarokh tells the crew over the ship comm to prepare for departure. It is at this point that Dougok clears his throat and says, "I won't be going with you, Captain."

Gvarokh and Elloekothe both turn and sniff the air, gauging Dougok's presence on this.

"What do you mean, Dougok?"

"I've decided to stay. I had a chance to talk with some old packmates of mine back when we had that dinner at Sitka, then I heard Ngath's speech, and the time I've spent in the mess hall here on the carrier, it all leads me to the conclusion that it's time for me to run with a new pack.

"You've been a fine captain, and I loved what you said to take down Ghaenaedzue, with my help of course," his tongue hangs out to the side to let you know he's teasing.

"My old packmates told me that there's openings for a wolf of my skills and experience. I can start off as a commissioned officer, and I'd be on a short list for command. I have an opportunity here, and now that the mission's over, I need to hunt on a new path."

His expression and scent clearly indicate that he will not be swayed.

Gvarokh pauses for a minute to let it all process, then says, "In any other circumstance, I would gladly wish you well and send you off with honor and a recommendation. But in this exact moment, we are all serving two masters that are opposed. Things could end very badly for all of us depending on what you do or say."

Dougok tilts his head to the side, clearly confused, but after a couple of seconds he returns it upright. A scowl is on his face, and a growl escapes him before he says, "You think that I would betray you? Betray this pack? After everything we've been through?"

Gvarokh places his hand on Dougok's shoulder and says, "I just wanted to hear you say it. I wish you well on your next endeavors and in your service to your new pack. May you get your own pack to lead! I know you will succeed!"

Dougokh pants for a moment, then says, "Phew. You had me worried there." His tail starts to wag. He locks forearms with Gvarokh and says, "Thank you for giving this wolf a chance to bite back at those who betrayed him."

He then leaves to gather his things.

A half hour later, Dougok has piled his things on a grav sled from the Aedhfazidzso. The liaison officer and two techs are waiting on the hangar deck. He has all of his armor, his weapons, including his assortment of snub pistols, and other equipment.

Everyone has gathered to say their goodbyes.

Gvarokh slides the ship's bank card through the card reader and gestures for Dougok to do the same. Dougok smiles when he sees the payout. He howls in appreciation.

Elloekothe gives him a surprise hug. She says, "I'm sure that I'll find your scent out there in the days ahead." Dougok's tail wags involuntarily.

Irma shakes his paw, and Simrii gives him a respectful nod from the back of the crowd.

Kagfak and Uengghae wag their tails as they take turns gripping Dougok's forearm and sniffing the air around him.

Slade waves from the back, but Chuck goes for the forearm grip. "Good hunting," he says.

Vlad grips Dougok's forearm and chest bumps him. They exchange light growls. "Keep those teeth sharp," Vlad says.

Lakir shakes Dougok's paw and says, "Stay outta trouble. You won't have me around to drag yer drunk ass back to the ship anymore." He winks after he says this, and a sly grin peeks through his dour demeanor.

Vincent comes up and gives Dougok a bear hug. "Take care, Dougok. I'll always remember partying with you, buddy."

Dougok smiles and nods. He looks as if he might tear up, but he howls a goodbye and lowers the ramp to the hangar deck. Once he clears it, the ramp rises back into the ship. One of the technicians operates the grav sled, while the liaison officer informs him of certain regulations until his ship assignment comes in, which should be in a day or so. He nods.

Once they've exited the deck, warning lights come on, and an announcement in made that the hangar deck is depressurizing. Dougok stops at observation window and watches as Pack of Daggers rises from the deck and exits the carrier.

After it is out of sight, he returns his attention to the liaison officer and takes his first step onto his new path, one that will lead him to new hunting grounds, where he can lead his pack to a glorious future.

Rronaetuts

Characters: Gvarokh, Vincent, Slade
NPC: Lakir, Elloekothe, Chuck, Irma, Vlad, Simrii, Kagfak, Uengghae
Location: Pack of Daggers
System: Rronaetuts

1126.51.4 - 23:00 Imperial time, 31:00 Vilani Time, 22:30 Starport Time (27 hr, 53 min day)

After a week spent enjoying the mission's success and the bittersweet departure of Dougok, Pack of Daggers emerges from jumpspace around Rronaetuts.

It was a backwater world before the war as its valuable mineral resources were tapped out during the First Imperium and the atmosphere is very thin and tainted with pollutants. The seas show a high concentration of sodium hydroxide. Average temperature is 260°C. There are no native life forms.

There are no gas giants in the system. The starport, Dzurr Down, is located on the surface near the north pole. It gets its fuel and volatiles from chunks of ice mined from one of the asteroid belts.

The Ngath Confederation annexed the system early in their expansion phase, but soon realized that it wasn't more than a place to re-fuel. Vlani intel has noted that the Confederation doesn't consider it a high value asset as their presence in the system is minimal.

Pack of Daggers is an hour into its decel burn (with another hour to go) when the ship is finally hailed in Gvegh.

"This is Dzurr Down hailing unidentified ship. Please identify yourself and specify your business in this system." The voice is sleepy, clearly sounding like someone just woke up.

Gvarokh answers, "This is the corsair, Pack of Daggers. We simply wish to refuel and leave."

The voice sighs, then says, "Ok. I've turned on the landing beacon. When you get to a thousand kilometers the hangar bay and landing lights will come on. Stay on your ship for fifteen minutes while the decontamination process is engaged. You'll be contacted when it's safe to disembark. Dzurr Down out." It sounds like he's reading from a script.

51.5 - 00:00 Imperial time, 00:00 Vilani Time, 23:30 Starport Time

Pack of Daggers enters the atmosphere, such as it is, and further slows its descent. The landing beacon has guided the ship this far and now the landing lights are on. Gvarokh deftly brings the ship down into the hangar. Once the ship has touched down, the hangar bay doors close overhead. The decontamination process begins: It starts with a 30-second blast of carbon dioxide and is followed by a very soapy spray and rinse. Ultimately, fans kick in and your atmosphere sensors turn green.

A text message comes in, stating, "You're now free to exit your ship."

After several minutes of waiting for more of a response or an InfoNet connection, it becomes clear that you're going to have to leave the ship to track down the service staff.

Gvarokh has Lakir and Vlad handle the service staff. Both don their light flex armor and carry their preferred pistols.

"Gotta look the part," Lakir says.

They return an hour later.

"Wouldn't want that guy's job," Lakir says after an exhaled whistle.

Vlad adds, "It's probably good that Elloekothe didn't go. That dog would've been all over her." He pauses, thinking about it. "Actually, she could take over this place without firing a shot." He starts to laugh.

Lakir nods, smiling knowingly.

04:00 Imperial time, 04:00 Vilani Time, 27:30 Starport Time

Refueling is complete and life support has been refurbished. Pack of Daggers requests permission to leave and the hangar bay doors to open.

With permission granted, the ship lifts off and heads out into space. Shortly after liftoff, Slade says he doesn't like the purity level of the fuel mixture. "Even for unrefined, it's crappy." He requests that the fuel purification plant be allowed to fully complete its cycle before executing a jump.

Not wishing to misjump or explode, Gvarokh agrees to the request and has Uengghae take their ascent into space at 1G instead of 3G.

07:35 Imperial time, 07:35 Vilani Time

Safe jump distance reached. Thrusters shut off. Pack of Daggers continues to coast away from the planet.

11:00 Imperial time, 11:00 Vilani Time

Slade is happy with the fuel purity levels and gives his blessing to jump.

Jump!

Return to Vilani Space

Characters: Gvarokh, Vincent, Slade
NPC: Lakir, Elloekothe, Chuck, Irma, Vlad, Simrii, Kagfak, Uengghae
Location: Pack of Daggers
System: Odinaga

1126.52.5 - 12:00 Imperial time, 20:00 Vilani Time

Pack of Daggers emerges from jumpspace and immediately begins to decelerate. Passive sensors light up shortly thereafter with warnings that the ship is being active scanned from five different sources: four system defense boats and a defensive platform.

The expected hail comes in with the expected warnings to maintain course and deceleration and identify oneself. Elloekothe provides Gvarokh with the proper response which he communicates to the local defense forces. It sucks the tension out of the speaker's voice as he informs Pack of Daggers that he'll need to verify it with command.

Three minutes later, the stern warnings have been replaced with warm greetings and a "Welcome back."

15:00 Imperial time, 23:00 Vilani Time

Pack of Daggers is now parked at Merghia Downport.

Recalling the less than welcoming greeting they received the last time and Dougok's foolish walkabout, Lakir recommends that everyone just stay on board while they refuel and refurbish life support.

17:00 Imperial time, 25:00 Vilani Time

Although they didn't get a break on price, Pack of Daggers does get to skip the line and get serviced right away.

Clearance to leave is granted by traffic control, and the ship is given an escort to safe jump distance just to make sure no one gets the wrong idea about a Ueknou corsair being in Vilani space.

19:00 Imperial time, 27:00 Vilani Time

Jump!

[...OOC: The crew celebrate Imperium New Year while in jump. I will deduct from the beverage inventory...]

1127.1.5 - 12:00 Imperial time, 28:00 Vilani Time

System: Timat

Pack of Daggers emerges from jumpspace and, like at Odinaga, gets lit up across sensors. There's the same threatening hail which is met with the tension defusing response. Once cleared, the ship is requested to go to the Timat Naval Station where Sharurshid Security Chief Saul Rothchild, who is the group's contact here and introduced the group to the ship they now occupy, will meet with them.

16:30 Imperial time, 00:30 Vilani Time

Upon landing in the hangar bay at the naval base, Saul is there to greet you. He asks if the mission was successful and Elloekothe indicates that it was.

As you haven't been debriefed with the admiral, Saul doesn't press for more details, content to know that the Envar Plague Weapon has been neutralized.

"I'm sorry, but I can't give you your old ship back yet. It's out on assignment. I'll have to send you back to Maran with an escort, so that you can move freely."

When asked why they couldn't get one from Odinaga, he explains that they insist on having each and every ship ready to go to defend the world at all times.

Lakir asks if they're still getting the same amount of pirate attacks even though the Touzagh are gone.

"No. Attacks have dropped off sharply. Intel states that the corsairs are still in flux, lacking organized leadership. They're looking for softer targets along the border."

After meeting with the group, Rothchild states that he'll let you get on your way back to Maran.

Pack of Daggers is refueled and life support refurbished for free.

19:00 Imperial time, 03:00 Vilani Time

Leave naval base with a Chrysanthemum class destroyer escort as escort.

22:30 Imperial time, 06:30 Vilani Time

Jump!

Return to Maran

Characters: Gvarokh, Vincent, Slade
NPC: Lakir, Elloekothe, Chuck, Irma, Vlad, Simrii, Kagfak, Uengghae
Location: Pack of Daggers
System: Maran

1127.2.5 - 23:00 Imperial time, 15:00 Vilani Time

Pack of Daggers and its escort emerge from jumpspace around Maran. The escort handles the hails and announces that Pack of Daggers is an authorized vessel.

Elloekothe radios the naval base and gives a passphrase in reference to the group's mission. She's asked to stand by while they check their records. Shortly thereafter she's been cleared and told to update mission status.

"Success with a bonus. Requesting access to level four containment extraction."

"Acknowledged. Proceed to naval base. We'll alert the interested parties."

The naval base is on a small, airless moon that orbits the same gas giant that Maran orbits.

Pack of Daggers is instructed to land on the tarmac in a remote location on the base. Its escort lands far closer to the main base.

Irma has been preparing for this for some time. She has the weapon sample in a container, her gear is packed, and she's wearing the vacc suit she brought on board with her.

"This is my stop," she says to all present.

She and Elloekothe exchange nods.

"Good job, Major." Elloekothe says.

"Thank you, Major," Irma says in response.

Irma turns to Gvarokh and says, "Thank you for what you did."

Gvarokh replies, "You are more than welcome. I am very grateful for the time we all could have with you as a member of this pack and crew. I hope your next assignment finds you with a pack that fully appreciates you. Thank you so much for all you have done for us on this mission! Please make sure that sample is used well."

"I will."

She then heads over to Chuck. They hug, and she says something in his ear that no one can hear. They separate, still holding hands, smiling. She then mouths "Bye," puts on her helmet, and enters the airlock. It closes and cycles.

The crew watches as she meets a bio-containment vehicle, its lights flashing. A hazmat team emerges from the vehicle, secures the sample, and loads into the vehicle. Irma waves once more just before she enters the vehicle and it departs.

A message comes in to the ship. "Captain Gvarokh, Major Elloekothe, Admiral Khagamsusuu requests your presence in conference room eight, level five for mission de-briefing. Bring along any crew personnel you deem important for this meeting. A bus will be dispatched to your location. ETA 10 minutes. Thank you."

Gvarokh says, "Lakir, Vincent, you two are coming with us. Everyone else, clean up anything that needs to be cleaned up and be ready to pack your stuff if needed. I have no idea what the admiral has planned now that this mission is complete, so be prepared to clean out if they reclaim the ship. Chuck, you're in charge while we're gone."

"Roger that."

The bus shows up right on time. It appears to be designed for vacuum connections, so the departees don't have to go through the hassle of putting on vacc suits. Once the four meeting attendees are on the bus, which they have to themselves, it pulls away from the ship and returns to the bus bay.

Debriefing

Characters: Gvarokh, Vincent
NPC: Lakir, Elloekothe, Admiral Khagamsusuu
Location: Conference room eight, Level five of the Maran Naval Base
System: Maran

1127.2.6 - 02:00 Imperial time, 18:00 Vilani Time

The group is escorted to the conference room where Admiral Khagamsusuu is there waiting for them. Alone. When the group enters the room, the admiral rises to shake Gvarokh's and Elloekothe's paws and the others' hands.

"Welcome back. It's good to see you. I heard that the mission was successful."

"Yes," Elloekothe replies. She and Gvarokh then explain what went down at Gemid, starting with the process for obtaining the sample and then the final showdown. She provides several holocubes to the admiral, who plays select events out on a holoprojector. He gets a chuckle out of the insult exchange. The destruction of the facility brings a proud smile to his face.

"The Ziru Sirkaa owes you a great deal of gratitude. And I'll go out on a limb and say that all of charted space owes you thanks for keeping this horrific weapon from spreading any further than it did." He looks at Vincent and points at him. "And you made sure the knowledge of how to re-create it has been set back many years. If, cosmos forbid, they should re-create it, we'll have a counteragent thanks to the data you and Major Arsashaammu collected. Thank you."

He stands and walks over to a cabinet. He takes out a crystal decanter filled with golden liquid and five glasses. As he pours some of it into each glass, he says, "I look forward to reading your full report, Major, but if there's anything you'd like to say, Captain, please feel free." He then carries the glasses over on a tray and hands one to everyone and takes the last for himself. He raises it in a toast. "To you."

The liquor has the sweetness of honey and flavor of something like raspberries. It has a light and smooth finish.

Gvarokh says, "I want to commend you on your choice of who to add to the mission. Major Arsashaammu was amazing with her work on the bioweapon and with dealing with our oddities. And Major Elloekothe was instrumental in our success. Her contacts and deep knowledge of the lay of the land was invaluable. Her contacts were what gave us the opportunity to get access to the bioweapon at all. Both were not just professional, but took the effort to get to know the crew and integrate themselves into it. I highly commend both of them and am willing to put that in writing if it will in any way help them."

"I would expect nothing less," he says with a smile.

"I am just as proud of my crew as well, but I do want to make sure both Elloe and Irma get proper recognition."

"Of course."

With that part said, Gvarokh continues, "If you are willing to indulge me, I'd like to mention two specific situations."

The admiral gestures to go ahead.

"To gain the trust of our key contact, we had to break a specific individual out of a prison." He then quickly describes the liberation of the prisoner and gives more detail on the ruse used to pick the team and prisoner up. "So we were able to file a legitimate flight plan for the pickup with none the wiser for the real reason we did it. All through this, the whole crew worked as a team, playing out each part to get the job done. Though we did have to temporarily hide him in an engine when they were checking ships for him."

Gvarokh hasn't lost the admiral's attention after the first story, so he finishes by telling about the interview on Gemid. Without drawing anything out, he describes how he gets challenged by Khigiikuli with damning video and yet talks his way out of trouble. "He thought he had me dead, but I flipped the match leaving him unable to fight back."

[...OOC: Note he never says anything about the assault on Irma or on the follow-up to that. He doesn't name the prisoner, nor does he ever name Soks. The only person involved in either story he actually names is Khigiikuli. He doesn't trumpet up Vincent, Lakir, or any of the crew to the admiral individually, instead choosing a story that highlights them all as a team. He does, however, very much praise the crew back at the ship!

It is probably obvious, but what Gvarokh is doing is making sure he leaves Irma and Elloe on the best terms possible, and providing as much of a recommendations as possible. The two stories are to show the whole crew working well, and then showing himself doing well...]


With that, he finishes by saying, "Thank you for indulging me for those two stories. I hope this mission has demonstrated the loyalty and resourcefulness of the crew and me."

"Not at all. The fact that you accomplished the mission, given the limited resources I was able to provide, is testament to your resourcefulness. Your loyalty to the Ziru Sirkaa has already been evident. If it was ever in question, I wouldn't have loaned you the Ueknou and sent you on this mission.

"Which brings me to the next topic: the Miishakaal. We've been using her as bait in anti-piracy campaigns, and she's proven most effective in that capacity. Never damaged in any real way. Scratches here and there obviously, but we've covered the repairs. I think with the demise of the Touzagh that there's been a general sense of disorganization in the pirates and lack of coordination in their strikes along the border.

"While you wait for her return, why don't you take some shore leave either dirtside or head over to Melika Starport. Travel and lodging accommodations covered by the Navy. Say three or four weeks? You've certainly earned it."

Vincent responds, "I like the sound of that! Thank you, Admiral!"

Gvarokh takes a risk and says, "We won't be much use to you in the Miishakaal. With the people we have met at this point, we'd suffer too much loss of face to come crawling back in a Garu. Regardless, I am sure I speak for the whole crew in saying a three- or four-week vacation would be very welcome!"

"Good. I take that to mean that you want to continue working for us."

Lakir says, "Only so long as you have our backs."

"Always." He lets that sink in a moment before continuing. "I agree, Captain. It would raise too many questions and put your lives at unnecessary risk. So long as you work for us, you'll have to fly the Pack of Daggers. Miishakaal will wait for you until you decide that you've had enough or I can no longer employ your services. As it is, your cover story will have to be amended such that, since you were unable to keep the weapon, you were unable to return to Corridor to exact your revenge."

Gvarokh replies, "Yes. Fortunately our story about going back to Corridor was stated as contingent on securing the bioweapon. It would have given us a short-cut to relevance. Without it, we are forced to be relevant the old fashioned way and gain a following. Plus," Gvarokh adds a smile to this part, "maybe we decided we just like it around here so we stay for a while longer."

"That'll work."

Gvarokh finishes by saying, "So, yes, this all sounds good to us! We'd still like the vacation, though."

"Oh, the vacation is guaranteed. This is just laying the foundation for when you return."

Gvarokh's tail wags as he replies, "Sounds great!"

Vincent grins but remains quiet, content in how things panned out.

"Good. You'll be driven back to Pack of Daggers to collect any gear you think you'll need while you're on vacation; the rest will be put into storage. The driver will wait for you, then drive you to a shuttle. Here's the contact info for the liaison officer who will provide you with accommodations." He taps at his hand computer, and the number shows up on Gvarokh's comm.

The admiral then stands and shakes hands and paws with a proud smile on his face. Even the ever skeptical Lakir manages a wry grin.

Afterwards, as he makes to leave, Elloekothe says to the admiral, "I'll escort them out, sir."

"Very good, Major."

Goodbye Elloekothe, Hello Vacation

Characters: Gvarokh, Vincent
NPC: Lakir, Elloekothe
Location: Maran Naval Base
System: Maran

1127.2.6 - 05:00 Imperial time, 21:00 Vilani Time

Elloekothe escorts you back up to the surface and over to the "bus depot."

Upon arriving there, and no one being in earshot, she says, "Well, I guess this is good-bye."

To Vincent, she says, "Excellent work hacking the database. If you ever decide privateer work isn't for you, I'm sure the Navy can find you some work in cybersecurity."

"Thank you Elloekothe, that sounds like a good offer. I'm not quite ready to give up this life, but having that in my back pocket is reassuring. When I decide to make the switch, I'll make sure to contact you. And again, thank you!"

To Lakir, she says, "If you ever decide you want back in to covert ops—"

"Not a chance," he says. "I'm good where I'm at. But thanks."

"Understood," she replies with a disappointed grin and an understanding nod.

She sniffs the air, then says to Gvarokh, "You're a good wolf in a bad galaxy, Captain. Make sure that it doesn't ruin you."

With a small smile, Gvarokh responds, "I'll keep doing my best. Please keep doing your best, too."

She barks a laugh. "Tough to do in my line of work, but I'll try."

After a pause, she continues, "Take care of yourself. With any luck, we'll work together again some day."

"You are always welcome on any ship I am on. Whether officially or not, I will always welcome working with you." With a slight bow of his head, he finishes with, "Until we meet again."

She nods. "Until then."

The trio board the bus, the door sealing behind them. Through the windows, they see Elloekothe turn and walk away just before the bus turns away from the terminal and heads back to Pack of Daggers.

Once back at the ship, everyone packs up their personal gear for vacation, setting aside other stuff for temporary storage. Naval intelligence wants to give the ship a proper run through maintenance. A couple of hours later, they're done.

While they wait for the next shuttle bus to whisk them away, the ship's computer notifies Gvarokh of a pair of incoming messages. The first details their vacation liaison's identity and contact info as well as the location of the apartment building they'll be staying at. Apparently, Naval Intelligence has secured an entire floor of the building. The second is a notice from a local bank stating that 3,000,000 credits have been deposited into the group's account from Naval Intelligence.

That brings a smile to his face, and he summarily shares the good news with the crew. There are woo-hoos and howls of glee. Lakir even begrudgingly admits, "Not bad."

Gvarokh looks around at the happy faces and savors the moment. The next few weeks will be a time of fun and relaxation, living large on the Vilani Navy's dime. It seems like it'll be a long time, but in the back of his mind, he knows that it'll be over before they know it. Then what? The admiral wants them to come back to work—the civil war doesn't seem like it's ending any time soon, and so long as that's the case, corsairs and privateers will continue to press into Vilani space. But Gvarokh doesn't expect everyone will be too keen to get back out there and risk their lives for one of the many factions that doesn't seem to give a shit about what the war is doing to its people. Settling down to a quieter life inside the safe zone will be really appealing to some. It's likely that four weeks from now, he'll be looking at some new faces, so he takes the time to memorize the faces of this assembled group and the joy of the moment.

Chuck has broken out a bottle of uekhfarsal and is pouring an ounce or two into cups. Vlad has been recruited into passing the cups around. When everyone has one, Chuck raises his cup in a toast. "To Captain Gvarokh!"

There are cheers all around, but Gvarokh stops them.

"No. I didn't do anything. Each of you played a critical role in accomplishing this mission. Whether it was keeping the drives running, digging up intel, hacking a database, or defending this ship in battle, you did this. We did this. We defied the odds. Again. And it won't be the last time," he says with a confident grin. There are a couple barks and even a "damned right". At that, he raises his cup. "So this is to all of us."

"To us!"

[... The End ...]

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