|Well… crunch time and I was able to get all my pieces ready and 99% prepped for the game and… well… one of my players was over 2 hours late. Ah well. Keep in mind, everyone, don’t go to the ER for meds thinking it’ll only take an hour. rolls eyes|
Star rise on the bridge of the Farseer’s Coin. Captain James Hanner was sitting in his well used command chair as he looked out upon his bridge one half platform’s depth beneath him. It was a different design than the bridge on his father’s ship, but he’d gotten used to the Farseer’s overseer-esk feel.
The bridge’s primary display, as well as the multitude of other smaller displays that ran along the curved walls of the bridge, displayed static. This didn’t worry anyone as static was usual for outside sensors during Star Rise. Several moments passed, and as they did, one by one, each monitor sprang to life as each individual sensor was receiving data once more as the Farseer’s Coin returned to normal space.
“Report” Captain Hanner called to his second officer.
“Search grid gamma twenty two, as expected Captain. Picking up hundreds of asteroids in this region. None appear to be an immediate threat.” came the flat answer from the otherwise lovely Mechulas second officer, Raiku.
Captain Hanner nodded. “Begin area scan. Don’t want to hang around here longer than we…”
“Contact, Captain!” came a call from one of the ships better, if younger, tech crew. Rygar Deng was one of the two newest crew members of the Farseer’s Coin, and the one most easily able to impress during this past three month stint aboard ship.
“Clearify, Mr. Deng”, Captain Hanner ordered.
“Looks to be a small trader-class vessel. Can’t identify any registered corporate characteristics, but I’m reading hull scoring. She was attacked, Sir.”
“Life form readings?”
Rygar shook his head. “None. I’m also not picking up any power signatures at all.”
Miles Ur, contrary to what one would expect given his first name, was a beefy, bulky Weren, with huge tusks jutting from his lower jaw and currently sporting patchwork of dark-grey and rust colored fur; an almost perfect match to the general color scheme of the walls aboard the Farseer’s Coin. Professing a desire to become a merchant, Miles Ur was the second newcomer to the ship. Unlike Mr. Deng however, he didn’t quite fit in the way he wanted. Often stereotyped to a guard post aboard ship… as was his assignment now on the bridge.
“Mr. Ur… I would like you to bodyguard Mr. Deng and Raiku as they take a shuttle over to that ship.” Captain Hanner said, turning back around to face his second officer and the young engineer. “I would like the two of you to see if you can restore power to the ship. We can tow her if we have to, but if she can move under her own power, all the better.”
“How long do we have, Sir?” Raiku asked.
The captain pursed his lips a moment. “This is not the safest area to be. You have one hour. That should give us time to prep the towing lines if you can’t get that ship powered.”
Miles Ur let out a roar as he fell forward, crashing into the lockers in front of him. The echos took several moments to dissipate. Rygar went over to try and help his associate to his feet, but it ended up being more a gesture than useful.
The Weren looked at his Human companion then away; a small snarl on his face. “This is not what I signed up for, Rygar.”
“I know… maybe if you assert yourself some more. Make it perfectly clear what you want to do?” Rygar offered.
After several minutes, both Weren and Human had donned their environmental suits, except helmets and had moved to the shuttle.
The Little Engine that Could was a small, two to three man cargo hauler shuttle positioned for easy egress via the main hatch. It was bulky, ugly, and had enough scratched paint and dented hull plating to give the impression of a long, solid working life, but it served the freighter well and was in good condition for all intents and purposes.
Rygar activated the main hatch controls on the shuttle. After a brief moment, a audible thud reverberated throughout the shuttle, passing through the deck platting of the shuttle bay, as the large aft hatch popped open; a substantial puff of dust escaping through the seems. On thick metal arms, the hatch lifted up, revealing the sizable space within.
For the most part, the cargo area of the shuttle was empty, except for some restraining straps and support beams along the walls, a one man gravity lift, for transporting cargo, and a magnetic grapple. Miles grabbed onto one of the strap beams with his huge vice grip and pulled himself in. The entry to the shuttle bay opened just as Rygar was about to do the same.
Raiku passed through the doorway and up to the shuttle, already outfitted in an e-suit and holding a briefcase sized power generator in each hand. “Who’s piloting?” she asked, looking unwaveringly at Rygar.
“Well… I’ve worked on these sort of craft back home, I suppose I can handle this one.” He answered.
Raiku gave a single nod, “Right.” and, handing over one of the power generators to the Weren, pulled herself inside, and continued strait to the cockpit hatch at the back of the cargo area.
Miles grunted. “She’s out of your league.”
For a few moments Rygar didn’t respond, but, as if suddenly becoming aware of the Weren’s words, he shook his head and eyed the mountain of fur. “What?! Hardly. I simply meant the technology. Can you IMAGINE the skill and tech involved in their evolution? The abilities they posses? They are a blessed race.”
“And you are too obsessed with technology, Human.”
Rygar laughed. “Which is why you partnered with me remember. I build ’em, you sell ’em?”
Miles barred his teeth in a mimicry of a human smile. He knew full well the effect was far more unsettling for the diminutive race than it was reassuring. That knowledge always gave him a warm feeling inside.
“Mr. Deng, if you’re piloting, I need you up here.” Raiku called from the small forward cockpit.
Rygar entered the cockpit and took a seat behind one of the two control stations that occupied the cramped room. Miles followed to the hatchway, but stayed solidly in the cargo area, knowing full well his bulk in such a small area would not help anyone. Instead he took hold of the overhead beam and watched through the open hatch.
“Engine and pre-flight control check green.” Raiku said after a few quick taps on her control station.
“Confirmed. Pre-flight check is green.” Rygar echoed. “Opening shuttle bay doors.”
The lights in the shuttle bay dimmed, and a roar of air evacuating air sounded all around the small shuttle. Once the sound died away, the large exterior door of the shuttle bay lit up and slowly pulled up and away from the egress.
“Engaging engines.” Rygar announced once the shuttle bay door finished opening.
Something went wrong however. The engines throttled up, louder and louder, but the ship failed to move. Miles shifted a little uneasily in the back, sensing something was off but not wanting to speak up in fear that doing so would only distract from the problem. Luckily, Raiku sensed the problem as well and with a quick glide over her control station, the engines throttled down and the shuttle lurched forward… but not without a very loud screech like over-sized chalk on an over-sized chalkboard.
__"Next time," __ Raiku started, “you may want to disengage the propulsion containment controls before bringing the engines to full.”
Rygar cleared his throat and let out an embarrassed chuckle. “Yeah, that probably would have been best.”
“I thought you said you piloted these craft before!” Miles voiced boomed from within the cargo hold.
“Yeah,” Rygar said. __"I worked on them. I fixed them up, rebuilt their controls, installed engines… I… ummm… never actually piloted them."
“WHAT?!” Miles bellowed. The Weren grew bigger as his fur started to stand strait out, but then it returned to normal as he sighed. “Should have let the Mechulas pilot.”
“I’ve never piloted these vessels before.” Raiku answered flatly.
Miles eyes bulged wide as he was about to make another outburst but was cut short by a persistent hum from the control stations. “What’s that?”
Raiku looked down to her controls and flipped a switch. “Shuttle here.”
“Which one of you is responsible for the scratches in my shuttle… AND my SHIP’S SHUTTLE BAY?!” Captain James Hanner’s voice yelled angrily over the open communications channel.
There was an audible sigh on the other end “Remember, you have one hour to get that trader moving under her own power. I really don’t want to tow her, but I also don’t want to stay here too long. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Captain. One hour.”
“Farseer’s Coin out.” The line went dead.
It took only five minutes for the little shuttle with it’s induction engines to maneuver over to the drifting trader-class vessel. It floated in the darkness, caught in a slow, awkward spin.
Compared to the Farseer’s Coin, the ship was very small, as most trader vessels are. Commonly owned by and operated by small “one man” operations, these types of ships were the ones in holo-vid portrails of the romantic frontier life style. Often modified and highly personalized, it didn’t surprise Rygar when this ship turned out to be just as modified.
“Forward shuttle bay… now that’s a little different.”
“What do you mean?” Miles questioned. “The Farseer has shuttle bays. Thought those were normal for starships."
“For larger starships, yes.” Raiku acknowledged. “However, for these small ships shuttle bays usually cut deep into the space often coveted for cargo. This ship either didn’t carry overly large amounts of cargo or that wasn’t it’s purpose in the first place.”
“This is going to be interesting.” Rygar added.
“Still not reading any power to the ship.” Raiku said, paying little attention to the others. “We’ll definitely need to bring the power generators with us to the ship. Mr. Ur, Do you think you can use that magnetic grappler in back to secure a line between this shuttle and the trader?”
Miles already had his helmet on and locked in place. “No problem, ma’am.”
“Like what?” Rygar asked, lowering his helmet.
“If we can’t get the airlock open for some reason, we’ll have to try that shuttle bay. I’d like to not have to repressurize the cockpit when coming back to the shuttle in that situation.”
Rygar thought about it a moment, then nodded his understanding.
Securing her helmet to her head and shutting the hatch between the cockpit and the bridge, Raiku and Miles made their way to the aft cargo hatch and opened it. Like on the Farseer’s Coin, the air was evacuated from the sealed cargo hold in a loud torrent before the door itself pushed forward and lifted out of the way, exposing the Mechulas and Weren to open space.
Miles, the grappler in hand, secured the first line to the shuttle, then, with only a hint of hesitation, took a shallow leap out of the shuttle’s hatch, and used the suits maneuvering jets to orientate and propel himself towards the trade vessel. Like most of his kind, Miles was not a fan of having to use “modern” technology, but he was thankful for the suits simple controls. He approached the ship’s airlock and affixed the other end of the grappler a spot near the portal. “Grapple secure.” he said over his suit’s radio.
As she finished her approach to the ship, and little acknowledgement to the large Weren doing what he could to keep out of her way, Raiku started cycling the power unit on and securing herself by the airlock. She was quickly able to identify the emergency power port she needed to energize the doorway just enough to open it. What she didn’t notice was the power unit hadn’t been prepared properly. As she pulled the power connector from the unit, it caught, and she nearly tore the connector right off the unit. This was bad enough, but the damage to the connector sent a minor surge through unit, causing it to short out.
Raiku swore in her native tongue, as she looked over the power unit.
“Is it broken?” Miles asked.
“Obviously.” she answered. __"None-the-less I think I can manage a quick repair."
Wasting little more time, Raiku managed to get the power unit operational again… at least, in her opinion, enough to open doors. Carefully bringing out the connector from the unit, she plugged it into the power socket next to the airlock. Immediately, emergency lights flashed on, and the airlock door cycled open.
|TO BE CONTINUED|
|In next weeks episode, the three explorers discover something lurks within the cold interior of the drifting trade-class vessel… and something colder lurks in the space around them.|