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Browsing Posts in Traveller: The Empty Peace

Having already assumed computer control of the Betty’s systems, initial reconnaissance indicated three hostiles aboard, and at least two crewmen as hostages, which we expected to be held on the upper deck, locked in staterooms. We planned to feign a docking action as “requested” by the hostiles, in order to draw them toward the Betty’s engineering section, aft; once in place, Cpt Brierfield was to announce his intention to board, the signal to begin the operation, and then withdraw back to the Emerald Monarch. Immediately upon receiving the signal, ChEng Adler was to lock down all compartments on the Betty, trapping the hostiles in engineering and mid-hold, at which point the security team was to enter the ship via the breach in the lower hold, and sweep the ship for any remaining hostiles, while retrieving the hostages. The security team would consist of six individuals, per standard doctrine, based on the expected number of hostiles: myself (ChSecO Vik), XO Matthews, ChEng Adler, and Crewmen Prudhomme, Ekala, and Quaid.

Once the Betty was locked down, the security team entered the main deck through the cargo office hatch, and proceeded forward, clearing the staterooms, while Crewman Quaid secured the rear. A hostile was encountered on the bridge, holding a crewman hostage. ChEng Adler bumped the artificial gravity, causing the hostage to fall to the floor and the hostile to break his aim, at which point we immediately engaged and neutralized the hostile. Most of our fire was ultimately ineffective, due to the hostile’s armor, although XO Matthews did manage to destroy the hostile’s pistol, forcing him to un-sling his rifle in close-quarters; Crewman Prudhomme’s gauss rifle was the only weapon able to penetrate. The hostage was unharmed, but shaken. Having no further contact forward, ChEng Adler convinced the hostage to indicate the number of hostiles and crewmen remaining, and their probable locations; she indicated that there were four hostiles, not three as initial intelligence suggested. Crewman Quaid was to remain below with the hostage, as the team proceeded to the upper deck, where we were met by a second hostile at the hatch. We engaged the hostile, who then retreated from the hatch. We pressed through to the upper deck, flanking the hostile, who was attempting to take cover in an open stateroom. After his primary weapon was destroyed, the hostile threw out his sidearm, to surrender, and XO Matthews and Crewman Prudhomme immediately moved in to subdue him, while I cleared the remaining staterooms and released the other hostage, the Betty’s captain. Afterward, Crewman Quaid observed the two remaining hostiles as they attempted to bypass the hatch. It was decided to remove the hostages from the premises, and attempt to convince the remaining hostiles to surrender themselves, rather than risk further open confrontation. The hostiles refused to leave the ship, believing that the authorities would sentence them to death, and continued to attempt to escape. ChEng Adler sneaked through the hold to the engineering section behind the hostiles, observing them unnoticed, and once the security team had secured themselves on the upper deck, violently fluctuated the mid-hold gravity until the hostiles were rendered unconscious. All hostiles were remanded to the Betty’s stasis pods to await her captain’s discretion.

The operation basically went according to plan, although there were a few areas that could use some improvement. Our anti-armor capabilities need to be enhanced ASAP; at the first opportunity, the ship’s ammunition stores need to be supplemented with armor-piercing rounds, and boarding SOP and training adjusted to include its use. Crewman Prudhomme acted recklessly on the upper deck, firing on the hostile who had already indicated surrender, causing the hostile to struggle; Crewman Prudhomme was verbally reprimanded afterward, and has promised to control himself better in the future. Some hand-held sensor packs might be a good investment, and might prevent further blind-corner surprises (such as the hostile at the hatch to the upper deck); SOP to be reviewed once that equipment becomes available. I have also suggested that we review our own security procedures with regard to artificial gravity access, to ensure similar tactics are not used against us in the future.

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26 May 2173 (1222-A Dingir, near Dasadi)

Well, we finished the outfitting and are making our way outbound to test the guns.  We will not be doing any test firings of the missiles as they are too expensive.

Later – Testing went off without a hitch.

We started to analogize the data on the memory stick.  It was quite sparse and only included a set of coordinates in the Fomalhaut (1024-E) system.  We copied them down and jettisoned the memory stick out the airlock.

29 May 2173 — 4 June 2173: Transit from 1222-A Dingir (Dasadi) to 1224-C  Kinunir

Spent the trip doing my std language study and continuing the development of the B.E.A.R. weapons system.  The rest of the crew was doing the norm or training on the new weapons system.  We stopped at the locate go-juice joint for a quick refuel (unrefined).  Woot, payday.

6 June 2173 — 12 June 2173: Transit from 1224-C  Kinunir to 1024-E Fomalhaut

Spent the trip doing my std language study and continuing the development of the B.E.A.R. weapons system.  The rest of the crew was doing the norm or training on the new weapons system.

13th June 2173 (1024-E Fomalhaut)

We approached the given coordinates and can detect a 200-ton Hero class vessel adrift.  Preliminary scans indicate loss of power and some external hull damage.  We also detect an S.O.S. from the Hero (her name is Betty) class ship.

Since we know that the ship was jumped, boarded, and ransacked, we can only assume that most, if not all, of the crew had been killed and the the S.O.S. is more than likely automated.

We were wrong.  As we get closer we are detecting signs of life.  We even establish radio contact.  However, the story we are getting does not jive with what was overheard in the bar.  This smells like a trap.  I would like nothing better than the open up with all our lasers at point blank and vaporize the pirates on board.  Unfortunately, during the radio conversation we discover at least one Terran female is on board.

Our initial plan is to have them EVA to an air raft then transfer to us.  But, they are claiming airlock damage and the inability to EVA.  They are claiming the need to do a physical connection with a docking ring in order to succeed.

I was smelling a rat, now it’s a dead elephant as there are numerous airlocks in the Hero class that could not all be damaged.

I talk the Captain, and the Hero crew, into allowing an air raft flyby in order to do a physical inspection and plan for the requested physical hookup.  I think after I finish with the B.E.A.R. prototype (and a few guns) that I need to build some surveillance drones.

During the flyby, I could see at least one additional female Terran on board (in the upper deck living quarters.  As we come around and under the Betty, we found a large gash in her lower cargo area.  I make the snap decision to insert myself to do some recon.  Without stopping, I let my pilot (via suit-to-suit radio) that I am getting off.  He slows down just enough so I can jump off safely.  He then returned to the Emerald Monarch.

As I enter the cargo area, I see that most of the cargo is there and the power is off.  Gravity is still on however.  I look around the cargo area and found the local terminal.  It is in intruder lockout mode.  We may be in luck and the Vilani may not have access to the computers,  comms, etc.  Double luck, they left the default maintenance password enabled and I am able to access the whole system.  I setup a computer modem radio link with the Emerald Monarch so we can access the Betty’s systems, change all the passwords, and re-lock the system.

I headed over to the gash to report in, now that I know they cannot use the ship’s comms to detect me, and we formulate an attack plan.

1.  Using the pretense that the Betty’s normal airlock is not accessible (due to the fuel scoop protrusions), plan on joining at the rear airlock.

2.  Lure all the pirates into Engineering and the rear cargo areas.

3.  As the Emerald Monarch approaches, and air raft with the assault team enters through the lower cargo gash.

4.  When the assault begins, lock down all doors to trap the pirates in the rear areas and jam all radio traffic that is not on our freq using the Betty’s own comm systems.

5.  The assault group will enter the main deck through the hatch in the airlock area.

Well, the assault started ok.  We did not see any pirates until we got to the bridge.  We could see one pirate, in space combat armor, on the bridge, facing the door, with a pistol to a female Terran’s head.

Quick plan:

1.  Mr Mathews and I will lay prone and aim at the bad guy.

2.  The others will brace against the bridge bulkhead.

3.  I write a quick program to increase gravity to 3g, open the door, then normalize gravity.

4.  Mr Mathews and I are to shoot as the door opens.  Hopefully the max gravity pulse will make the pirate drop teo the floor.

You know what they say about “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy”, they are right.  As soon as gravity kicks in, on of our guys collapses.  It gets worse from there, as I take a shot at the pirate’s face (he is still standing with the pistol in his hand), the bullet embeds itself into the face shield and does not penetrate.  That is one luck SOB.  Mr Mathews gets off a good burst from his laser pistol and turns the pirate’s pistol to slag.  Remi lets off a burst from his rail gun and turns the guy’s arm into hamburger.

Second problem, gravity does not normalize and the guy ducks behind a bulkhead to get the rifle off his back.  Considering the arm, that is going to take a while.  The Terran is crawling to wards us.  I take some time to manually restore normal gravity.  Remi carefully moves forward to finish off the pirate while the rest of us clear room and assist the Terran to the safety of the crew area behind the bridge.

—more to come as we look for the second (or more) Terran–

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25 May 2173 (1222-A Dingir, near Dasadi)

Today we started the weapons install at Dasadi.  It should take about 60 man-hours to complete.  I will stay on the ship, even in the off shifts, to make sure the install goes smoothly.

25 May 2173 (1222-A Dingir, near Dasadi)

Remi and the guys apparently had a fun time at the bar tonight.  As I heard, some Vilani were spouting off about killing some Terans and stealing their ship, or something.  From what they told me the Vilani had a memory chip that contained info on the attack and the current location of the ship.

It was a hands-only bar brawl and our guys did well and came away with the memory key.

We are done with the weapons install and all seems fine.

24-Apr-2173 (06:25:18)
Ships Status: All systems normal
Navigational Status: DINGIR SUBSECTOR (1222), DINGIR

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13 May 2173 (1222-A Dingir)

After some preliminary research, we still have yet to ID the bandits who jumped us at the last system.

On a better note, we have a lead on putting some pop-guns on this boat.  We are headed to see a Mr. Iishugi in Gershumse about getting some lasers, missile launchers, and some sand-casters.  He has scheduled a meeting to view some samples and make arrangements for payment.  We took a shuttle to a warehouse and met with a representative who showed us a sample of the items.  They will need some minor hardware and a bit of software changes to make them compatible with our systems.

While waiting on the issue of some self-defense weaponry, we did get the 4 Low-Birth modules and bulkheads I need to complete the isolation of the passenger section that I planned out a few weeks back.  I had the low-births strapped into the Eng section while I work on fitting the bulkheads.

After a couple of days, a Mr Enshii cam on board to arrange for payment.  The deal has us acting as transport for “Misc Freight” (the weapons in disguise) that we will take to Dasadi (in system) for installation.  Payment is due before takeoff.

We lifted off without issue, but seemed to have picked up a tail (a local cruiser) on the way out.  Instead of heading straight for Dasadi, we have decided to try and fool them with an in-system jump and arrive far enough off axis to sneak in.

16 May 2173 — 23 May 2173: Transit from 1222-A Dingir (main)  to 1222-A Dingir (Dasadi)

We had enough time while in the jump to install the bulkheads and 2 of the Low-Birth units.  I plan on doing the other two when I have some more free time.  While at the last station, I was pondering the issue of I need a better weapon system.  This old semi-auto 7.62 ain’t going to cut it any more.

Being the tinkerer that I am, I have begun work on a modular bullpup weapon system that I can make multiple calibers (and different cartridge types – ie std, caseless, etc) for.  I am also working on a method to add Electro-Thermal (ETC) enhancement to normal ammo.  The name of the system will be based on the acronym B.E.A.R. (Bullpup Enhanced Adler Rifle).  It will come in a few different basic sizes like Black B.E.A.R. (Sub-Machine gun based cartridges), Griszzley B.E.A.R. (5.56 carbine to 300 Win Mag), and Kodiak B.E.A.R. (the really big stuff like 50 cal).  The ides is to have a basic frame and each caliber would just need a barrel, magazine and bolt change in order to change ammo.  To help with accuracy, it will use a “floating” barrel system, electro-mechanical primer ignition system, and an internal recoil buffering system.

Here is what I plan to be the first Grizzly B.E.A.R. in 7.62mm.  To save time I am going to use the barrel, magazine, and a few receiver parts from my Self-Loading 7.62mm rifle.  To help on the Legal front, the pistol grip can be interchanged so that it can only fire semi-auto.  It will also have all the standard “smart rifle” enhancements, accessory mounting points, and mountable brass caters if needed.

First Grizzly B.E.A.R. in 7.62

24 May 2173 (1222-A Dingir, near Dasadi)

So much for planning to sneak in.  As soon as we popped into normal space and focused our passive sensors toward Dasadi we detected the same cruiser that followed us to the jump point.  Soon after they began to hail us and the jig was up.  We were instructed to meet her and prepare to be boarded for inspection.  The ship turned out to be the Cruiser Shimluur.  The boarding party was led by a Lt. Shapkupi.  The captain met with Lt. Shapkupi privately while the rest of us were being watched by the rest of the party.  They seemed to be a bit too relaxed.

After a while, the Lt. and the Captain came out, shook hands and the boarding party left.  It turns out that this system, being the first major Terran-friendly system from Nusku, is a popular place for Terran ships to arm up on their way into Vilani space.  It cost up all our Iridium, but we were allowed to continue to Dasadi and finish the weapon installation.  Nice little business they have going here.  I bet that crew retires rather well off.

13-Apr-2173 (14:05:10)
Ships Status: All systems normal
Navigational Status: DINGIR SUBSECTOR (1222), DINGIR

12 May 2173 (1222-A Dingir)

We arrived on Dingir without any issue.  Our instructions were to deliver the kids to their Uncle, a Mr. Enshii.  The kids were very happy to see him and he was not expecting them.  After the introductions, he invited us to a party.

While we waited for the party to start, I bought a slab of tri-metal alloy to replace the docking ring that was damaged on the 5th.  Since I bought a square slab , yet only needed a doughnut, I was able to save a lot of metal for later projects.

We had a lot of fun at the party and our host actually had wine from Paris, Terra.  Unfortunately, since I had to work later that night, I had to skip on the wine.

We found a side benefit to knowing Mr Enshii.  He is very well connected and will be able to be a conduit for some ship weapons.  The plan is to outfit us with 6 lasers, 4 sand-casters, and 2 missile launchers.  The Captain also approved my plan to isolate the passenger compartment and buy 4 low births for emergency medical service and passengers.

Well, it is the 13th and the ring is about half complete and we are waiting to hear about the weapons.

12-May-2173 (11:44:10)
Ships Status: All systems normal.
Navigational Status: DINGIR SUBSECTOR (1222), DINGIR

15 Apr 2173 (1622-D Apishat)

My first task once we arrive in Apishal was to determine what to do with all the life-support equipment used on the return trip for the survivors.  The Captain had me analyze it for useable parts.  I was able to salvage 70% of it for our own use.  The rest we scraped.

Almost forgot, payday (the 10th) was during the transit.  Don’t mean much when you have nothing to spend the money on.

One of the things I realized on the Altair station was how much I need to learn Vilani.  Once we had leave in system I went shopping for a Vilani teaching program/device for Terrans.  Boy, did I pick the wrong system to try that in.  The spaceport was barren of anything helpful, and that was putting it nicely.  I was able to pickup a Terran to Vilani dictionary.  I am currently driving my staff nuts putting Post-It notes all over my Engine Room in order to teach myself Vilani.

While on the planet, the Captain took Daniel to meet with one of the survivors from Altair.  He was the lead scientist from the station.  Funny thing these Vilani, they did not look like they were too upset when we turned over the bodies from the station.  Frigid lot they are.  They also apparently did not want the cargo we were sent to deliver to Altair back either.  It was mostly basic supplies and foodstuffs.  Turns out the survivor will be with us a little longer.  He wants a ride to Zaggisi (1523-B).

18 Apr 2173 — 25 Apr 2173: Transit from 1622-D Apishat to 1523-B Zaggisi

Spent most of the transit covering Engineering in Post-It notes… damn it’s fun bugging my staff.  Besides, it is good for them to learn the tongue of where we will be spending the next year or so.

Zaggisi was everything Apishal was not.  It was a huge industrialized planet and friendly (for Vilani) to boot.  While in port we met the crew of a 200 ton Hero-class Free Trader called the Reaver.  She was a Terran vessel and was headed back home to Nusku.  They agreed to carry letters and small packages back to Nusku, and into the Terran mail system, when they head back.  It took a couple of days, but the crew put together their stuff and the Reaver left for Nusku two days later.

On the Vilani learning front, I was able to get a program while here.  It will work a lot better than the Post-Its, but not as fun.  I will still use the Post-Its for a while.

Remi and I got to spend some “dude” time while on Zaggisi.  We actually went fishing one afternoon.  I caught 7 decent size fish, but Remi caught a near-record size fish.  Remi actually took a class later that day on how to prepare it according to local cuisine.  I gave a couple of my larger fish to the crew of the Reaver as a “thank you” for taking our mail.

I worked on Jenny II for a few hours while here.  I even took her for a spin around the spaceport.  She rides real well.  However, she does have a weird little “tick” at 1200 rpm that I have to find.  I do not think it’s serious, but it bugs me that it’s there.

Time to go back to work.  It looks like we have a new client.  He wants to transport his children, ahead of himself, and cargo (a full hold!) to 1222-A Dingir.  Apperently he is in bad with some local hoods because the crew is all cloak-and-dagger getting the kids aboard.  The client did not want to handle the transfer to the starport for fear of a leak and attack on the kids.  We did see some shady characters during the transfer, but they could not follow us into the starport.  Just to be sure, I checked the cargo for any potential problem prior to takeoff.

28 Apr 2173 — 05 May 2173: Transit from 1523-B Zaggisi to 1324-C Shulgi

The transit was uneventful but I cannot say the same for the arrival.  As soon as we arrived in system, we detected a 100 ton scout class ship near the arrival point.  While this is not abnormal, his rapid acceleration to our arrival point was.  It became crystal clear what his intentions were as soon as his radio message arrived.  His demands were simple, “Hand over the children”.  Well, that was not going to happen.

The Captain decided to play along with their demands while we formulated a plan.  This I can tell you, they picked on the wrong people that day.  Being that I had a background in blockade running, I had extensive training and experience in counter-boarding operations. We set about formulating a plan based on lulling them into thinking we are an easy target, which isn’t hard considering we are unarmed and they have at least one turret.

They approached us from above and docked with our upper hatch to their lower hatch.  This prevented them from threatening us with their turret while they were docked.  It also let us see them form our portholes while they could not see us, amateurs.  As soon as they docked, Mr. Remi (who was hiding in the Air Raft bay) went EVA and approached their ship from the rear.  While we delayed the boarding party he approached their turret and placed a C4 charge (which I had built during the approach) under the central barrel hinge.  He then made his way back to the rear of the ship.

While he was doing this, the crew setup an ambush near the airlock exits.  We split the crew into two ambush points, one hear Sickbay and the other near the Engineering Workshop.  We also sealed the door at the end of the stores area so they could not get to Engineering from the airlock area.  Mr. Remi positioned himself near the Port engine and fired a grenade launcher into the main combustion chamber housing.  The grenades wound not damage the ship, but they would cause enough damage to the injector pups and fuel sensors thereby guaranteeing that the engine would need to go to a shipyard in order to get fixed.  Mr. Remi was knocked off his footing when he fired, but he had a lanyard and was ok.  At the same time he fired on the engine, I set off the turret charge remotely.  This made sure that they could not use the turret against us.

With the enemy ship disabled, the boarding party started the attack with smoke grenades.  I called engineering and had them do a rapid decompression to have the air evacuated.  We had already made sure the passengers were in rescue balls before the enemy came on board.  When they cam up through he airlock, we opened fire.  They did not stand a chance.  They never got a chance to make an effective and coordinated attack.  We took out 3 of them and captured one.  On the way back to the Air Raft bay Mr. Remi fired a grenade into the enemy transfer tube and into the chest of an enemy boarder.  Needless to say the tube was put out of action and the last thing Mr. Remi saw was the enemy ship leaking atmosphere as he came aboard our ship.  We did not suffer any injuries and were able to dislodge the enemy ship using a high-g roll that tore off the docking clamps.  I will have to fix that once we get to Dingir.  We secured the prisoner in the sickbay till we could decide what to do with him.

We did a gas giant refuel and got the hell out of there ASAP.

06 May 2173 — 12 May 2173: Transit from 1324-C Shulgi to 1222-A Dingir

Payday on transit again… WOOT!!

I spent some time in transit working on ways to help defend the internals of the ship in case we ever get boarded again.  I will make a proposal to the captain as soon as I have the cost estimates done.  I want to make some Passenger Isolation Doors and add some Low Births for injured crew and prisoners.

15-Apr-2173 (16:32:40)
Ships Status: All systems normal
Navigational Status: DINGIR SUBSECTOR (1622), APISHAL