Hellhawk – Episode 21

The Order of Phoenix Burning

After meeting Gaetan’s “Uncle” Ilashii, the group is invited back to the room he has rented on Flammarion Orbital.  Investigator Wain has indicated that based on the location, this is probably more than a simple room.

Location: In Flammarion Orbital, an O’Neill habitat orbiting the world of Flammarion.

Date: 176-1110

Characters

Crew

Others

Characters

  • Martin Clairmont (Pete Cooney) – Security – Marine Lieutenant C65645 Age 30
  • Gaetan Boucher (Billy Lenoir) – Engineer/Navigator – Retired Navy Captain 835B8F Age 46
  • Drusill Telyn (Robyn Nixon) – Pilot – Navy Lt Cmdr 3455BB Age 42
  • Steac Malabru (David …) – Captain/Owner Hunter 9A88B8  Age 42
  • Kafla Thingvellir (npc) business executive Age 48

Crew

  • Shaki Khuudaarma (Robyn/npc) – Commander – A79798
  • Urkoksou Kharrghse (npc) – Security Detail – 89A654
  • Gzanggvek Kangso (npc) – Security Detail – A89565

Others

  • Ilashii Kaundaash – Aid-de-Camp to Anka von Duur-Dirza and Retired Naval Admiral – XXXXXX Age 70

Flamarrion Down Penthouse

The group follows the instructions given by the captain of Ilashii’s Guard back to the city.  Leaving several of the the local security officers behind to clean up at the command center.  The APC carrying Gaetan and Ilashii having left several minutes before is not visible in front of the group.  The group approaches a part of the city that is remarkable for the height of the buildings.  The directions seem to lead to a landing platform near the top of one taller buildings.

Several people are waiting on the platform as the air/rafts approach.  The APC that Gaetan and Ilashii left in is nowhere to be seen.  A valet approaches as the air/raft lands and offers to take the vehicle.  There is another liveried servant standing nearby who calls to Steac as the air/raft touches down.  The servant welcomes the group and says, “The Aide-de-camp is waiting for you, if you will follow me.”

He leads the group into the building and up several levels on a glass enclosed lift.  After a short walk, he leads you into an enormous room with glass walls.  The views of the city are breath-taking.  There are a few people in the room.  The first you see are servants.  They offer to take jackets or any equipment or weapons that may be cumbersome inside and offer refreshment.  You see the security personnel next.  They seem to be watching from the side of the room.  In the far corner of the room, next to the windows you see Gaetan discussing something with his “uncle”.  Ilashii seems to be agreeing with what Gaetan is saying as you approach, they both turn and greet you.

Ilashii says, “Thank you for coming.  I hope your hunting expedition was successful.”

“Absolutely, this venture has proven fruitful.” responds Steac as he takes in the view.

Ilashii says, “Gaetan has told me about the conversation that Drusil helped him record.  The Order of the Phoenix has become a problem for the high noble families lately.  It would be nice to see one of their leaders discredited.  The only problem is, I cannot allow Gaetan to walk into a trap.  His uncle, the Duke of Gulf Subsector would not be happy with me if I allowed him to be injured.  He is needed to resolve a political situation on Qevar.”

He goes on to explain his pursuit of Gaetan across the subsector, including his arrival on Walston just as the group was leaving the system.

See Episode 16b

Ilashii explains, “While I would like to catch this Baron in something treasonous, I’m at a loss for ideas.  Sixteen weeks of travel will wear on your mental sharpness.  Do any of you have suggestions?”

“Well,”  Begins Steac, fumbling around his waistband for his sunglasses.  Finding them, he slouches down a bit in his chair as he drops his sunglasses into place.  “Why not go ahead with this “planned” meeting?  He wants it, give it.”  Steac tips his head to both Inspector Wain and IIasii and continues, “We’ve got all of the hole-cards, Wain can sic Snoops on Gaetan, I’m sure you’re capable,” nodding to IIasii, “of all manner of bugs and tracers to cover movement and sound.”  Pushing himself up and leaning forward and looking over his sunglasses at Gaetan, “You’ll be covered from every angle and I’ll offer to be the one to fire a sedative dart and put him down if one of his mangy paws gets near you.”  Satisfied, Steac leans back in his chair still looking over the rim of his sunglasses, “Anyone else?”

Ilashii nods his agreement, but says, “I thought of this.  My concern is we are using Gaetan as bait.  Can you say it’s not the Baron’s intent to have a sniper shoot him from a distance?  I have some safety concerns with this idea.”

Shaki also pipes up “Also I would not put it past this group to utilize IEDs against Sir Gaetan.”  knodding his head toward Gaetan “In our recent civil unrest, we often had times in the past 10 years to deal with these devil devices, that act impersonally and without discrimination.  How selective is the ‘Order’ in its assassination attempts?  How long have they been following Gaetan’s movements?  How well do they know his habits?  If Sir Gaetan changes his method of arriving to meet Drusil in the park, will it be noticed by these brigands?”

Ilashii nods in agreement and says, “There is too much risk in sending Gaetan, but I fear we won’t discover anything without some bait for the trap.”

Gaetan says helpfully, “The right armor might reduce the risk.  I don’t mind going.”  But the withering glare from his uncle is not difficult to understand.

<waits for response from everyone>

Shaki pulls up his comcomp and begins sharing some details “From my investigations of this Order of the Phoenix, they seem to be a well integrated organization of semi-legitimate royals from within the Imperium itself.  Though mostly of minor houses, they have made great headway the past 50 years in gaining a foothold on many planets, and in the Imperial Spinward Marches Decemvirate  itself.  Taking on a member of the Decemvirate could have large repercussions for anyone in this room.  Decemvirate members and planetary representatives tend to be untouchable.  This is one thing that makes Sir Gaetan vulnerable at this point, he has not been publicly unacknowledged by his liege, the arch-duke.  Taking him out does not disrupt Imperial or subsector business, but instead is simply a personal assault on his house and lessons the power of the arch-duke.  It looks like Sir Drusil has jeopardized his own knighthood by providing this information to Sir Gaetan.”

“Your assessment is very accurate Minister Khuudaarma.  If we are lucky, Drusil’s rank will be the only casualty.”  Ilashii agrees.

“Ahem” Steac sits up in his chair,  “Is this Baron willing to die with Sir Gaetan?”  Looking around at all present; “How much time have we before this meeting?  I’ve a possible solution as we’ve likely far more Personnel than on his side.”  Everyone around make it clear by  their facial expressions that he should continue.”  All I’m thinking of is a simple snare-trap.  We lay out snoops to all surrounding buildings, structures, landscaping locales, etc. that can furnish a lair for a possible sniper and have them send alarm of any warm bodies in, on, or around that can be investigated by personnel on vid watch.”

Steac hand fumbles around… “no glass, could I get some water?  Thanks… dry mouth.”  After a sip or two he continues, “You set up armed personnel in Chameleon suits all-around this location.  Sir Gaetan arrives with Dru in body armor capable of handling flak.  The minute the Baron is in eyeshot, Sir Gaetan runs forward and engages the Baron in the tightest Bear-hug possible as the personnel in Chamies close in from all directions as the snare.  Let the Baron blubber all he wants in rage and hatred for Gaetan.  Point is, unless the Baron is willing to die for his cause, Gaetan should be safe.”  Here Steac picks up his glass of water and takes a long drink and sets the glass down forcefully.  “C’mon, with all of the brains at this table, top this or take it.  Most animals want out of a snare any way possible save for ending their own lives!”

“Problem here is that Sir Gaetan is supposedly meeting with Sir Drusil at the location.”  Shaki interjects “Sir Gaetan isn’t suppose to know that it’s the Baron who will be there instead.”  Suddenly his face lights up.  “That’s it.  We send in Sir Drusil first as a diversion.  The Baron isn’t expecting Sir Drusil to show up.  We load up Sir Drusil with bugs and sensors, and we can scope out the location easily!  Sir Gaetan can then move in, knowing exactly what he is going up against and he will have an ally already in place.  He just needs to move in quickly enough to keep Sir Drusil from tripping over his own tongue and giving the gig up!  Sir Drusil just has to go in blubbering or asking questions.”  Shaki smiles “Something I’ve noticed the good Sir is good at, without trying too hard!”

<wait for more responses>
Steac finishes his glass of water quickly, sits-up, and gives Shaki his full attention.

Shaki pipes up again “Of course given Sir Gaetan’s recent activity and recognitions on Walston, I could not allow Sir Gaetan to go my himself anywhere here on XXXX, so of course I and Urkoksou and Gzanggvek will go along with Sir Gaetan as his recognized body guards.  That will place 4 allies in immediate proximity to Sir Gaetan if the ball drops.”  Shaki looks at everyone with steely resolve, including Ilashii.  “Sir Gaetan is an honorable man, and I know he does not wish to run from a situation.  If he wants to deal with this here, then we are with him.”  He looks over at Urkroksou and Gzanggvek, who both nod in agreement with their commander.

“All of the situation scanned by Dru ahead of time… allows Gaetan to know exactly where to stand and how far… I like it!”  Steac smiles and looks over to Ilashii, “Well?  I like the idea of keeping my Navigator in one piece, and it seems sound to me.  C’mon, lets give it a go!”

Shaki looks over at Ilashii “Admiral Kaundaash, Sir, I would never allow Gaetan to expose himself to harm, without going with him – Gaetan is a hero of Walston – Honor demands it!  Plus this would allow Walston to truelly see that I accept the new government on Walston.  I feel that there is a cloud over my reputation, since I was a representative of the old government to the new council.  Failure here is not an option for me, nor is a failure by Sir Gaetan in this exchange an option for him.  You know as well as I that Sir Gaetan cannot run from this confrontation and return to any level of legitimacy of his own back at XXXX (Gaetans homeworld).”  Shaki notices the look of surprise on both the Admiral’s face and Gaetan that Shaki knows of Gaetan’s background.  “Admiral, your search for Sir Gaetan shows that there is a need for him back on your homeworld, and back in his family.  I fully expect that you need him with his reputation and honor intact.”  Shaki looks over at Gaetan for confirmation.

Ilashii says, “Let me see if I understand.”  He begins listing things that he feels have been suggested, adding his own emphasis.

  • Steac, Martin and others go to the park to scout it out, looking for any dangers.  They should be unobtrusive, searching for snipers, IED’s or whatever the Baron intends to do.  He offers a few marines to improve the coverage of the park.
  • Drusil goes to meet the Baron, with surveillance equipment, to cause confusion in the Barons plan, draw the Baron out in the open and provide an additional ally on the scene for Gaetan.
  • Gaetan with Shaki, Urko and Gzang leave the safety of Ilashii’s apartment, in an enclosed air-car to meet with the Baron.  If necessary, he makes an appearance to draw the Baron’s intentions out.

Illashii asks, “Does that cover everything?”

Shaki responds “Sounds like a good idea about the closed air car.  That could be Sir Drusil’s excuse for coming to the park: ‘to entice Sir Gaetan from the car for the Baron’, else what reason would Sir Gaetan have for exiting the car and exposing himself.  And without Sir Gaetan exposing himself, then the Baron would have no target, and would undoubtedly not show himself.”

“Let’s do this; I’ve made many a trap as a hunter.” Adds Steac.  “If I lay a trap, I can sure as heck spot a trap.”

Shaki looks at Illashii to see if he has any further objections or to see that he is with the plan now before he continues “Good let’s contact Sir Drusil on the Hellhawk and get him prepped.  Given that we just finished a Safari here in the habitat, it would not be unexpected that we are still armed and armored rushing to the meeting between Dru and Gaetan (falling back on the familiar terms for two men that they have all come to know).  So lets all get suited up and armed.  The admiral’s staff can get the covered car for us while we finish up.”  Shaki looks down at his watch and notices that they only have another  hour from Gaetan’s appointment.  “Let’s go gentleman.”  and rises to take care of business.

The next ½ hour is blur of activity as communications go out to Drusil on the Hellhawk and the entire situation is explained to him.  While hesitant at first, as the plan is detailed out to him, his voice becomes more eager and pleased.  Meanwhile Steac and his team head out as quickly as possible in the Walston’s air car to park to embed Steac, Martin and some of the undercover Marine snipers into the park prior to the meeting.  Once they are in place then the signal will be given to Drusil to goto the park.  The plan is to have Gaetan and his team arrive fashionably late to the park, giving Steac, Martin and the Marine snipers ample time to observe and survey the park before the meeting.  Two more Marines don jogging outfits and go for a ‘run in the park’.

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Hellhawk – Episode 20

Tinturn Copse

After discussions with Investigator Wain about his investigation into the hijacking of the Hellhawk, the group recovers the Hellhawk.  They establish the precedence of their warrant from Walston, and the authorities on Flammarion Orbital have located the Delta Rae hijackers in place called Tinturn Copse.

Location: In Flammarion Orbital, an O’Neill habitat orbiting the world of Flammarion.

Date: 176-1110

Characters

Crew

Characters

  • Martin Clairmont (Pete Cooney) – Security – Marine Lieutenant C65645 Age 30
  • Gaetan Boucher (Billy Lenoir) – Engineer/Navigator – Retired Navy Captain 835B8F Age 46
  • Drusill Telyn (Robyn Nixon) – Pilot – Navy Lt Cmdr 3455BB Age 42
  • Steac Malabru (David …) – Captain/Owner Hunter 9A88B8  Age 42
  • Kafla Thingvellir (npc) business executive Age 48
  • Shaki Khuudaarma (npc) – Commander – A79798

Crew

  • Kninaae ‘Chief’ Saghzror (npc) – Second Officer and Chief Engineer – 685845
  • Hephestus ‘Hep’ Tsizkaear (npc) – Engineer’s Mate – 796766
  • Taezllo Ouzra (npc) – Navigator – 565976
  • Ensign Asheaar Kamidaa (npc) – Pilot – 796778
  • Urkoksou Kharrghse (npc) – Security Detail – 89A654
  • Gzanggvek Kangso (npc) – Security Detail – A89565
  • Lloa Kferr (npc) – Steward – 123456
  • Azkorr Kferr (npc) – Steward – 123455
  • Director Earla (npc) – Administrator – 5A799D

Arrival at Tinturn Copse

After leaving the Hellhawk, the group passes through the security check points for the station.   There are written warnings in several languages about weapons.  Investigator Wain waves you through all these checks.  Then you reach a final gateway monitored by quite a few security personnel some of them wearing turbans.  The gateway is plainly labeled: “Psionic Scan”.  The signs warn that Everyone is scanned, and those with Psionic talents must register.  Even though the gateway is large, and there is no need to line up to pass through, there are quite a few people waiting to enter.  They are considering paperwork and talking in small groups.  Investigator Wain says, pointing to one group, who appear to be Zhodani, discussing the gateway, “Don’t tell them, but the turbans are a bit of security theatre.  It cuts down on arguments with the Zhodani if they think the person they are talking to is noble.”  The group passes through the gateway without incident.

There are two air/rafts from the Flammarion Security Service waiting just outside the last security checkpoint, the drivers snap to attention when Investigator Wain approaches.  He quickly divides everyone up between the two air/rafts and the group departs into a cityscape.  The air/rafts move clear of the tall buildings and other obstructions and allow a view of the entire station.  Far in the distance, at the other end of the cylinder, there appears to be another city almost lost in the haze.  Between the two urban areas is a rural landscape of rolling hills and lakes.  It’s hard for even the most jaded of space travellers not to be overcome by the enormity of the station.

The air/rafts approach one of the few wooded areas within the station.  It is on the crest of a hill, near the ruin of some large building.  There are several other air/rafts gathered there already.

Immediately on landing one of the group already there approaches Investigator Wain and updates him.  He says, “They are in a compound on the other side of this hill.  We have reconnaissance bots watching the building.  Here’s the video of the suspect, Bernard Smith leaving the building.”  He hands Wain a small computer that displays a video, obviously taken from a long distance away, of Bernard emerging from a building and into a small courtyard.  He stretches and yawns, enjoying the outdoors.  He has an assault rifle slung over his shoulder.

Someone else quickly comes outside and pulls him back into the building.  Searching the skies for signs that they are being watched.  Inspector Wain says, “It’s hard for someone not familiar with this station to grasp, that you are always being watched.  There is no outdoors here, although the woods and lakes give the illusion, there is always something overhead.”  He looks to Steac and Shaki and says, “It’s obvious they are armed.  I have a strike team ready.  How would you like to proceed?”

Steac: “Cautiously at first.  Monitor by surveillance bots and identify heat signatures in the building.  We should be able to identify who has weapons and who does not.  If we have luck on our side we’ll find them on a (the) lower floor.  Divide the building by quarters and assign and englobe quarters to the strike team.  When in place, upper floor breach on 2 sides with explosives.  If they’re like most animals, they’ll bolt out and they could be taken out by as they do.  Preferably stunned, kneecaps are acceptable targets.  Shaki, what do you think?”

Shaki agrees, shaking his head.  He says, “Let the strike team take the building.   Using non-lethal force if possible.  Do they have stunners?  Then we can see what’s found.”

Steac: “Investigator Wain, if you are in agreement to this plan, particularly the non-lethal approach, let’s get to it.”

Investigator Wain turns to one of the security officers there and says, “Captain, you can take the compound with non-lethal force.”  This man in turns issues several orders over a comm link, that are intentionally difficult to understand, but are obviously for the strike team to proceed.  He gives several commands like, “Alpha team, you are green-light.  Notify me when you have reached rally-point Bravo.”

He turns to a small command post setup beside the security services air/raft that he arrived in.  He begins watching a screen that streams camera footage from the strike team as well as scanner data from the surveillance network.

He makes no attempt to hide the information being displayed, and begins to explain it to Investigator Wain and everyone who is watching.  He shows what appears to be a large compound with several buildings from a distant vantage point.

The captain says, “We have identified about 10 people in the building.  He switches the view to a densitometer scan of the area.  This is a large complex, and we may have missed someone.  This is a very noisy environment for these sensors.  We’ve tried to keep from alerting them, should they be watching.”  It’s apparent from the scans that most of the people are near the center of the largest building.  There are two people, that are in one of the outlying buildings separate from the others.

Over several minutes, two groups of 4 people can be seen approaching the building from opposing directions.  The groups seem to arrive at their rally-point and stop, shortly after the Captain receives radio confirmation that they are in position.  I looks to Investigator Wain one last time for approval.  Investigator Wain nods and tells the captain, “You may proceed.”

The captain tells the strike teams to proceed over the comm link, and the two groups approach the building.  They both seem to be moving towards the building where the larger group is currently gathered.  The captain confirms this by saying, “We are going to take the larger group first.”

The strike teams set charges around the windows and doors that they will use to enter and ready themselves to enter the building, the captain says, “It’s time for a calculated risk.  I’m switching to active scanning.”  He makes adjustments to the densitometer and suddenly the scan can see many more details.  It is possible to see what people are doing and determine where the furniture in situated in the room.

It is a large room, and 3 people seem to be circling between the windows on one side and the doors at the other end of the room.  There are two seated in a small sitting area.  3 others seem to be clustered around a computer console.  A few moments after this picture emerges, everyone’s behavior in the room changes.  The 3 people circling the room seem to stop, 2 of them focusing their attention on the windows and one of them positioning himself behind furniture watching the door.   The 3 at the computer all rise and move toward a edge of the room, away from windows and doors.  One of the two seated figures rises and then sits back down.

The Captain curses and says, “They are obviously expecting us.”  He contacts the strike team and says, “They are expecting you.  There are two watching the windows and one on the door.  Go!”

The charges bring the door and window down, giving the strike team access to the room.  You can hear shots transmitted by the strike teams cameras, followed by the discharge of stunners.  You can see the defenders at the door and windows fall.  Then the sensor data from the densitometer suddenly loses a lot of it’s detail.  The captain tries to make adjustments and finally says, “They have some type of counter measures.  I was not expecting that.”  He contacts the strike team and says, “I no longer have a reliable sensor feed.  Tell me when the room is secure.”

The radio chatter of the strike teams continues for a few moments, as they try to safely subdue the room.  Then one of the strike team says, “We’ve got a teleporter!  He just left the room.”  Someone else responds.  “Two of them have gone down a hatch in the floor.”  The strike team leader checks with his team and says, “We’ve secured the room, but it appears three of them got away.”  Video from the strike team cameras seem to confirm that two of the 5 captured in the room are Kafla and Gasizu.

Gasizu appears to be unconscious, and Kafla is conscious, but looking haggard.

Shaki asks, “Is it safe, can we get down there now?”

Steac: “Mr. Wain, is the area secure?”

Steac: “The room… secure…  Have some of the team bring the people out, I don’t want us in the room, not with teleporters.”…..   Steac and Shaki make their way near the the building and points out two individuals to the Alpha team lead: “That one lead the kidnapping of our patron and the other is our patron…  She is probably a psion, so watch out! … psi shield for them?”… “Gasizu… It’s Steac, Steac Malabru.  We finally got you, you frakkin witch.”…
“Shaki, take the lead in dealing with our captured…”  Shaki immediately begins to move toward the Alpha Team Lead and Steac stops Shaki with a firm hand on his shoulder and adds a frustrated “how the Hell can you retrieve the other 5 terrorists when they just pop in-and-out?!”  Not expecting an answer, Steac shakes his head in irritation, turns around and crouches next to his Patron, Kafla.  “Kafla, how are you?  What in Tionisla’s Graveyard is D. Rae up to!?”…

Steac listens to Kafla’s dazed recolections.  “Let’s see to getting you back to the Hellhawk so Inspector Wain and Shaki can deal with the captured D. Rae.  Mr. Wain!”  With a raised arm and gesturing emphatically, “Mr. Wain.”  Inspector Wain works his was around strike team Alpha’s members.. “With your permission, I’d like to get these two back to the Hellhawk with an armed escort and allow Shaki to continue with securing the scene and the capture of the remainder of Delta Rae.”

Kafla suddenly stiffens and comes to his senses, as if he suddenly remembers something important.  He says, “They have a vid recording.  They recorded me telling about…  telling about… saying things that weren’t true.”  He seems to be searching for something, he sits up and scans the room.  He does not appear to see what he is looking for.  He turns to Steac and says, “Get me that recording.  I’ll double your pay, just keep that recording from being released.”

Steac takes a deep breath at the thought of hunting the remaining members of Delta Rae, meets Kafla’s eyes with slow smile on his face. “It was here?, well, I want you back on the ship Kafla- return with the escort and get out of the line of fire.”  Steac turns to Shaki, “I’m out of my element here, but we can make good on this safari after all and get back to our lives as hosts!”  The thrill of the hunt courses through Steac’s veins. “Inspector Wain, change in plans here,  I want these two out of dangers way, escorted back to the ship.  I also want the these others taken back to our ship; I’m sure Dru… Sir Telyn can take care of extracting something from Gasizu, and I’d like to continue with your search for these criminals.”

The Inspector seems mildly surprised at Malabru’s sudden change of heart.  “Of course you can be a part of this… but what’s changed?”  Steac wastes no time with his reply. “They’ve propaganda vids forged by flame with their mind games and have used Kafla and likely many others to funnel lies to the masses by vid.”  Another deep breath and, “I’ve other business I’d love to get back to with Kafla here, but he’s been manipulated to lie for D. Rae and wants his name cleared from their coffers.”  Steac flexes the muscles in his lower right leg as to feel the hidden hunting knife and smiles, “Kafla wants me to hunt.  So I hunt!”

Inspector Wain raises an eyebrow and gives a look of approval.  “Well, that’s absolutely reasonable and we of Flammarion Orbital will continue with our assistance.  We will escort the Psions and your patron back to the Hellhawk.  We will dose the Psions with inhibitor drug and insure that those who take custody are prepared to deal with her ‘talents’.”  He says.  After consulting with the captain, he returns and says, “The one subject who teleported from this room was apprehended upstairs.  He was putting on a vacc-suit.  He may have had intentions of teleporting out of the station, but I don’t think he would have been happy with the station defenses outside.  We did not find any vid crystals with him.  The remaining two left by more conventional means.  It appears that they fled down the access hatch here.”  He points to an improvised access hatch on the floor.  “This is not a standard maintenance hatch, but it does lead to the underground levels of the station.  I will grant you access to those maintenance levels.  You can leave whenever you like.”

“Great” adds Steac in a hurry to wrap-up his troubles, grabbing his long-range comm, “Gzang? Gzang, cop…” Steac’s comm replies before fininshing the sentance, “Steac? Gotcha, what’s up?”  “Gzang, key onto this comm location, I want Urko and you to come to Tinturn Copse, this location with the following equipment…” Steac pauses running through his equipment choices and Urko interjects, “Steac, what’s up?” Steac smiles, “Our Patron has a bonus detail for us for double-the-credits… locate and capture a vid from the Psions.” another pause, “I need the two of you here with the following; Psi Shields for yourselves, 4 chameleon suits, LR comms for yourselves, and… hang on a moment.” Steac takes a look around.
Steac spots inspector Wain, “Inspector, here!”  “Yes Mr. Malabru?”  “Can my men and myself borrow 4 stunners?  “Yes”  Steac smiles, returning to his LR comm, “Urko, Gzang?”  “Still here Steac…”Come here ASAP with the list I just provided along with 3 sets of IR goggles… no extra weapons, our prey are looking at cage-time only.” Smiling, “We’ve Stunners here to use… on the double!”  Urko, “We’ll be there shortly, out!”

Gaetan’s communication devices chirps, signalling him that someone is sending him some information.  He looks puzzled for a moment, then says, “You’ll have to go on without me.  It looks like I have something to deal with.  He begins listening and fumbles with a way to record the conversation.”

continued below…

…Meanwhile on the Hellhawk

Drusil is going over the ship diagnostics readying the Hellhawk for quick departure if needed.  He oversees the refueling and begins programming a course back to Walston for the Hellhawk and the Urutu.  He communicates with Ensign Kamidee to coordinate the travel of the two ships in system, to provide cover for each other if necessary (you never know when pirates will strike after all).  Drusil works especially diligently to ensure that no data bombs or virus have been uploaded into the Hellhawks computer core, using the Urutu’s computers to verify the integrity of the Hellhawk.  Drusil knows by using the Urutu in this way will speed the process of verifying the wholeness of the Hellhawk, and will shorten its re-fit/refuel by hours.

Drusil,  Kninaae ‘Chief’ Saghzror, Hephestus and Ensign Kamidee crawl all over the Hellhawk and tie hard communication lines between the two ships to aid in their task.  Hours pass in the mens work.  Drusil is under the console of the Hellhawk with his electro-scanner when suddenly there is a call from outside the main airlock.  Someone is requesting access to the ship.  Drusil crawls out and up from the console where he had been following the communications console where he had been working and following the comms of the capture party.  He looks over at the video monitor and is shocked to see his handler Baron von Weiss in the monitor along with two other uniformed Naval Officers.    Drusil rushes to the portal to welcome such august visitors into the ship’s bowels.  “What the blazes is he doing here?  I had thought I could get Gaetan away before they showed up.”  Drusil looks a mess in grime covered overalls as he greets the gentlemen at the lock.  “Greetings brothers, you are a long way from home!”  He looks over at the two uniformed men with the Baron, trying to understand their purpose with the Baron,  where they simply escorts, bodyguards or the Baron’s thugs.  Drusil taps his leg, and feels the hard plastic of the stunner that he had used in the fight with the witches.  Would he need it?  He waits for the Baron’s answer to see if he is inviting in a friend or having to battle an enemy.

The Baron answers Drusil’s greeting with a stern look and a seemingly simple statement, “We need to talk.”  The Baron doesn’t wait for Drusil to invite him aboard, but steps onto the ship with his two escorts.

Drusil allows the Baron to bully his way past, but blocks the way of the two escorts “You had better stand watch out here to ensure that our conversation isn’t interrupted, and immediately shuts the portal in their face before following the Baron, while directing him to the ships crew area.  “To your left Baron and straight ahead.”

The Baron stops and turns abruptly, ignoring the instruction to step down the hall.  He says, “It’s become apparent to me that you have lost sight of your mission.“

“And what would that mission be, my lord?”  Drusil asks  “My reports have been regular, and accurate, we only arrived at this system less than 3 hours ago.  I was always told to be discrete in my transmissions to the Order.”

The Baron says, “It’s not your transmissions that are the concern.  Gaetan and the House Duur-Dirza appears to be on the increase.  That’s not what the Order of the Phoenix is about.  Duur-Dirza and all of his high noble ilk need to be beaten from the ranks of the galactic leadership.”

Drusil descreatly activates his wrist com to pick up the conversation, and transmit it onto a private frequency that he and Gaetan frequently share when working on shipboard functions.

Drusil speaks “I understand that Baran von Weiss.  I had thought that the Order of the Phoenix would be happy that one of the son’s of an Arch-duke was toiling in obscurity.”

The Baron’s face is flush, and his response is just short of shouted, “I would hardly call overthrowing governments toiling in obscurity.”

“Well I expect that the fly in the ointment of your plan was the Orders collusion with the terrorist group Delta Rae!”  Drusil looks angry, instead of intimated.  “How could you, my Baron have allowed or supported such action within the Imperium or its client states?”  Drusil accuses the Baron.  “I almost died in that incident by the way!”

The Baron stops short.  He says, “You have no proof of that.  You can’t.  We would not involve ourselves with such petty thugs.”

“So is the Order simply in league with the Zhodani then, and the use of Psions?”  Drusil presses the question  “Just how far would the Order go to ensure the overthrow of the House of Duur-Dirza?”

The Baron says, “It’s not just House Duur-Dirza!  It’s House XXXX, and YYY an ZZZ.  It’s all the noble houses.  Rank and leadership should not be inherited.  It should be earned.  You are like me.  I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth.  I had to fight for every advancement I received.  It makes me sick every time I see what they have, just by the benefit of birth.  I would do anything to see them discredited.”

Drusil steps back as if stunned!! “You would bring down all the major houses of the Spinward Marches?  Are you mad?  Do you realise the collateral damage of such an action?  The worlds that would go up in flames, the citizens on all sides that would die?”

Drusil seems spine seems to stiffen “I understand what you say about earning privilege, but I have worked with this man ‘Gaetan’ for over a year now, and he shows Noblesse oblige.  He has earned my respect!  The words of oath for the Order of the Phoenix were to bring honor from the ashes.  Hasn’t this man Gaetan already been driven into the ashes and exemplified the high ideals of our order?  Shouldn’t we be recruiting this man, not trying to tear him asunder?”

The Baron seems unmoved by Druil’s passionate words.  He looks at Drusil for a long awkward moment then says, “I’m not certain you are right for the Order of the Phonenix.  You obviously misunderstand our mission.”

Again Drusil looks stunned “What are you asking of me Baron?  Be straight!  I’m a little slow when it comes to court politics it seems.”

The Baron seems to relax a bit and says, “That’s a better attitude.  Are you really prepared to help the Order achieve it’s goals?”

Drusil is confused by this shift in tactics by the Baron.  “I have a question first:  did you or the Order expedite our landing on this planet?”

The Baron answers, “We didn’t know you were coming.  How could I have expedited your landing.  Last I heard, you were headed for 567-908.”

Something itches at Drusil, he thinks to himself, “So who did expedite our landing and our warrant?  I hope Gaetan has some friends in system, we are going to need them.”  He responds to the Baron:  “You lay it out.  Up to this point I’ve been your eyes, what are you wanting me to do now?”

The Baron says, “That’s better.”  He seems to adopt a more conciliatory tone, but something about it leaves Drusil cold, “I think I need to meet this Gaetan.  Why don’t you arrange a meeting.  There is a park inside the city, near the Debarkation Terminal, called Barkley Square.  Bring him to the park in 3 hours.”

“Follow me to the bridge and I will call him,  he is on a hunt right now”  Drusil pushes past the Baron and heads for the Bridge.  He looks back to see if the Baron is following, and when he sees him coming, he proceeds to the comm console.  “What excuse can I use to break him away from his hunt?  That’s a good idea to call him now, as this will separate him from the rest of the crew.”

The Baron nods for Drusil to call.

Upon reaching the console  Drusil activates the normal comm channel on the panel to page Gaetan “Drusil to Gaetan, come in please.  Priority Orange!  Gaetan come in please.”  Drusil runs his greasy hands through his hair.

Gaetan comes on the comm channel after a moment and says, “This is Gaetan.  Is everything okay Drusil?  We weren’t expecting to hear from you.”

“Gaetan I just received the strangest information from one of the ground crew here.  It seems that another trader from Walston arrived planetside here and the things they are saying, I should tell you in person, not over the comm channel.  I’m tied up in refueling for the next few hours, how about meeting me in 3 hours,  lets see, let me look at a map…..how about … there is a park inside the city, near the Debarkation Terminal, called Barkley Square.  I don’t think you should come back to the ship, and you might want to get away from the rest of the party.  Trust me on this Gaetan, ok?”  Drusil thinks to himself “Gods, I hope Gaetan got the other transmission.”

Gaetan says, “Okay, I’ll meet you there.  We have a bit more to wrap up here.”

“Drusil out”  Dru looks over at the Baron “Will that do or do I have to hold your hand there also?”  Drusil has a disgusted look on his face, that the Baron can easily see.

The Baron looks satisfied with himself.  He says, “I think I will recognize Gaetan.  You can stay here.  I know how to reward those who are of service to the Order.  You have done well.”

Drusil looks beaten as he escorts the Baron out of the ship and sees him and his escorts leave.

The Baron leaves quickly, taking his two escorts with him.

Drusil doesn’t say anything more, but goes back to the bridge and begins an intense search, finally he finds it.  The small listening device that the Baron discretely placed on the bridge to see if Drusil made any further calls.  He nods to himself and thinks “Smarter than the average bear boo boo!”  and says out loud “Good that little arch duke wanna be will finally get what he has been moping for!”  and Drusil goes about his work until he is finally clear of the area that the Baron had visited.  Half an hour later he finally calls Gaetan from the Urutu’s bridge.

Speaking to Gaetan “Was that enough for you?”

The Hunt for Vid Crystals

Steac and the others climb down the ladder into the labyrinth of tunnels under the landscape of Flammarion orbital.  The tunnels are dimly lit, and stretch off in two directions.  The air has a faint metallic smell, mixed with ozone.  The piping and other conduits are all labeled in large block letters.  The numbers an symbols must mean something to the ships engineers, but just add to the stark artificial landscape that contrasts with the surface, just a few meters above.

Steac quickly locates fresh foot prints in the condensation from the nearby duct work that leads  to the right.  There is a partially closed bulkhead door about 50 meters ahead.  Urko and Gzang take the lead, holding their stunners ready, they move to the bulkhead door and carefully swing it open.  Steac and ??? follow behind.

The passageway widens into a room here with several exits.  There is some equipment and tools here used in maintenance of the equipment in these underground levels.  Steac is hot on the trail, he quickly locates the tunnel that the Psions used to leave this area.

Opening the door from this area reveals a long corridor, similar to the one before.  The corridor is about 100m long and ends in another bulkhead door.  As if to confirm the Steac’s tracking is good, on opening the doors, the group hear a door clang shut ahead.  Urko and Gzang look back for approval, before bolting down the corridor in pursuit.

They reach the end of the corridor quickly and open the bulkhead door.  The door leads back outside.  The door is in a small ravine, surrounded by plants.  It takes a moment for Urko and Gzang’s eyes to adjust to the outside light, but they quickly begin scanning for the Psions again.  They both have their stunners ready.

Steac whispers, “Chameleon’s on.” and follows suit activating his.  Steac motions to the two, Gzang to vector off to the right, Urko vector to the left; quietly.   Steac quickly looks above and scans.  Having moved from the center, Urko, left, scans to the right and Gzang likewise to his right.  Moving forward slowly, Gzang is the first to spot the two remaining Delta Rae members to the right of the group and hand-signals all to stop.  In unison, the group slowly crouches and takes aim at the fugitives.

The two remaining members are uncovering a concealed air/raft.  One of them is familiar; it is the dark-haired woman who stole the Hellhawk.  The other person is not familiar.

They seem to be trying to flee the area.  Steac notices that this site is not far from where the security services have their command post setup.  It’s almost as though he has gone in a big circle.

Steac fires his weapon and hits his target!  At the same time, Urko’s and Gzang’s ears are down flat to their heads, nostrils flared, pupils drawn tight and fixed on the kill, and jaws closed tight.  Both Security personnel quietly position themselves and take aim on their respective targets.  Both hear the quiet “tik” as Steac pulls his trigger and the Vargr do the same.

The two remaining Delta Rae respond in the only manner they can to the assault and they drop rather quietly to the ground.  Steac’s face starts to relax as he lowers his stunner while the two Vargr lope with open jaws toward their “kill”.  “I like a consistent universe.” Steac says to no one in particular and follows suit with his security detail.  Steac walks up behind a busy Gzang. “Pardon” Steac says as he removes the LR Comm out of Gzang’s hip-pack.  For his part, Gzang glances back, having caught Steac’s scent and exposes his neck briefly as his comm is removed.

Steac activates the comm while tabbing the kill switch on his Chamie’ suit.  Urko and Gzang are  both trussing the two stunned criminals as Steac busily Adjusts the comm, speaking loud enough to *hopefully* be heard by by the nearby Command Post, Steac announces, “Inspector Wain?  Inspec-”          “Well, my detail and I wouldn’t mind some assistance corralling the pair of D. Raes we’ve got…”

“Hey!” directed to the two security men.  “Urk!  ‘Zang!”  The two kneeling over the D. Raes and panting, look questioningly up to Steac.  With a deep laugh Steac adds,  “Turn off the Chamies, no more play today.  Time to start packing our bags and do some real hunting!”

Urko and Gzang take the stunners the two women carried.  They also find a small case, containing several data crystals, possibly the recordings that Kafla wanted retrieved.  Investigator Wain answers on the comm channel, that he’s sending a few officers to retrieve the Psions.  Several plain-clothes officers arrive after a few minutes.  Once the officers arrive, they revive the Psions and cuff them.  As they lead the women away, the dark haired woman turns to Steac, and with an icy stare says quietly, “This isn’t over.”  As the two are lead away, the indicator on Steac’s Psi-sheild warns him it’s been activated.  Immediately you can hear one of the officers leading the women away say, “That will cost you ma’am.  That’s a violation of the Psion Protection laws of Flammarion Orbital.  Minimum punishment is 5 years of hard labor on Flamarrion Down.  I would suggest you don’t do that again, or we will be forced to sedate you.”

Steac is standing next to the partially uncovered air/raft, holding the data crystals and it occurs to him that there is a crystal reader and vid screen in the air/raft.

Steac leans his elbow against the air/raft and throws his body over the side of the vehicle, coming to rest in a crouch inside.  Making his way over to the reader/screen, he inserts the crystal into the reader slot and leans back to watch this most valuable show.

The video begins, showing Kafla sitting in the chair on the Hellhawk.  He looks well, but a little less animated than you know him to be.  Not anything that would be noticed by someone not familiar with his personality.  He begins by saying, “I’m Kafla Thingvellir, chairman and CEO of Sterilon LIC.  Sterilon is a medical products company.  I’m responsible for the day to day operations of the company.  I make all the important decisions.  I would like to relate something that has been weighing on my conscience.”   Kafla proceeds to describe an accident that occurred in the Trane System in the Spinward Marches.  He describes an industrial accident that killed several hundred workers.  He confesses to the destruction of great swaths of the ecosystem on that planet, and a conspiracy to cover it up.  He gives names, dates and times and other details that could be verified.  If the details are true, it would make it difficult for his story to be a fabrication.

On returning to the command post, Steac, Urko and Gzang find Gaetan discussing something with the Investigator.  Gaetan turns to Steac and says, “It looks like there’s one more thing I need to do before we can leave.  I have a meeting with a Baron, in a couple of hours.  I suspect his intentions are anything but diplomatic.”  Gaetan points to the investigator and says, “Mr. Wain suggests that I just avoid the appointment.  I’m inclined to agree.  Do you have any suggestions about ways to meet with the Baron and find out his intentions?  We’ve had trouble coming up with a way to insure the meeting is safe.  He wants to meet in an open area, a park.  There could be snipers or people hiding in any number of places.”

The question remains hangs there for a few seconds, unanswered.  Then almost as an answer everyone hears the familiar whine of grav-plating trying to check the acceleration of an approaching vehicle.  Everyone turns expecting to see another air/raft arriving, but is surprised to see a gravitic armored personnel carrier approaching.
The turret is occupied and the vehicle seems to project all the menace it was designed for.  You hear investigator Wain mumble, “Who let that thing in here.”  One of the officer responds, “I can’t imagine what would happen if they actually fired that thing.”  The APC settles to the ground near the command post, and the access door swings open.  The turret scanning the ridges and valleys around you.

Gaetan sighs, wishing he could hide behind the air/raft and the APC would go away, but he stands his ground.

Two fully armored and armed marines step off the vehicle.  They scan the area and move toward the command post.  The visors of their armor obscures their faces.  They are resting their Plasma rifles across their arms as they approach the group, searching for the person in charge.  Investigator Wain steps forward and asks, “You look as though you lost something.”

The marine asks, “Are you Investigator Wain?”  Wain nods and says, “Yes I am, but why would that be of interest to the Imperial Marines?”  The marine asks, “Is the area secure?  Are all the suspects in custody?”  Investigator Wain nods again and says, “Yes, but you’ve not answered my question.”  The marine pauses, for a long second, then says, “I’m sorry Investigator, I’m not authorized to answer those questions.  I’ll leave those answers to someone else.”

Gaetan mumbles, “This is where I’m taken into custody.”

Two other people step off the APC.  One of them a marine in armor, but with his helmet removed.  He is a young man, talking to the older man beside him.  The older man is wearing some body armor he’s obviously not accustomed to, but is not nearly as armored as the marines.  The two people turn towards the group, and you get a good look at them.

Gaetan gasps audibly when he sees the face of the older man.  He says softly at first, “Uncle Ilashii.”  He then repeats himself more loudly as if he’s trying to convince himself that’s who it really is.  The old man, still 20 meters away, looks up and smiles.  Gaetan says with pride to the group, “That’s my uncle… No he’s not really my uncle.  He is an advisor to my uncle.  It’s Ilashii Kaundaash.  Perhaps it’s a little childish, but I’ve always called him Uncle Ilashii.  I can’t imagine why my real uncle would have sent him.”

Ilashii steps up to the group and says, “Good Afternoon.  I hope you’ve had happy hunting.  I’m Ilashii Kaundaash and it’s a pleasure to meet you.”  He insists on being introduced to everyone, beginning with Investigator Wain.  The marine beside him tries to object and he ignores it.  The second time the marine attempts to interrupt, he turns and says, quite sternly, “Captain, while I have given you broad latitude regarding security, there are still some things you are not in control of, you need to hold your enthusiasm in check, or I will have a new security officer.”  He turns back to the group and says, “You’ll forgive Captain XXX.  He takes his security mandate a bit to seriously sometimes.”  He continues with the introductions.

Steac:  “‘Pleasure and an honor to meet you,” extending his hand,  “to meet you Advisor Kaundaash.” Steac’s eyes glance at the Imperial Marine and Tank.  “Can I offer the hospitality of my ship for refreshments and conversation?”

Ilashii seems genuinely interested in the invitation.  He thanks Steac warmly, but insists that the Captain’s security concerns might make it difficult to visit there.  He offers the room he has rented here as an alternative.  He apologizes, saying “It’s not what I would consider comfortable, but it would be a good place to talk.”  Once the introductions are done, he invites everyone to follow saying  “The captain will give you directions.”  He pauses before returning to his APC and say, “Gaetan you will ride with me.”  Although he says it with a smile, the firmness of a command is implied.  He turns to his APC and Gaetan follows.  The captain offers instructions back to the city where Ilashii has invited you.

After Ilashii leaves, the Investigator says, “I would not miss this opportunity.  The directions he’s given are for an exclusive part of the city.  I’ve only been in that part of the city once or twice, and always while investigating crimes.  My suspicion is that he’s not living in simple quarters.  I would like to see how the other half lives.”

“Hhrmpphh”  is the only answer Inspector Wain receives while Steac tugs his pants up and adjusts them and brushes real and imagined dust from his shirt.  As Wains patience is stretched to it’s fullest… “I suppose your right.  Besides, if I can’t look after him in the safety of…”  Steac pauses to look directly into Wains eyes to impart the utter sincerity of the following words. “…our ship, then I best look to him wherever he is.”  Steac looks toward the APC and runs his hand through his hair.  “Lets do this Wain, you’ve got a ride?”  Wain nods as he …..         ….  Steac smiles broadly;  “Good.  ‘Cause I call Shotgun!”

Hellhawk – Episode 19

<back to episode 18

Date: 1761110

Location: The Starship Urutu – 200 dton Yacht, emerges from Jumpspace in the Flammarion system.

Date: 176-1110

Characters

  • Martin Clairmont (Pete Cooney) – Security – Marine Lieutenant C65645 Age 30
  • Gaetan Boucher (Billy Lenoir) – Engineer/Navigator – Retired Navy Captain 835B8F Age 46
  • Drusill Telyn (Robyn Nixon) – Pilot – Navy Lt Cmdr 3455BB Age 42
  • Steac Malabru (David …) – Captain/Owner Hunter 9A88B8  Age 42
  • Kafla Thingvellir (npc) business executive Age 48
  • Shaki Khuudaarma (npc) – Commander – A79798

Crew








    • Kninaae ‘Chief’ Saghzror (npc) – Second Officer and Chief Engineer – 685845
    • Hephestus ‘Hep’ Tsizkaear (npc) – Engineer’s Mate – 796766
    • Taezllo Ouzra (npc) – Navigator – 565976
    • Ensign Asheaar Kamidaa (npc) – Pilot – 796778
    • Urkoksou Kharrghse (npc) – Security Detail – 89A654
    • Gzanggvek Kangso (npc) – Security Detail – A89565
    • Lloa Kferr (npc) – Steward – 123456
    • Azkorr Kferr (npc) – Steward – 123455
    • Director Earla (npc) – Administrator – 5A799D

Emerging from Jumpspace

Upon emerging from Jumpspace, the sensors begin to come online and collect data.  One of the first things detected because of it’s proximity is the Imperial Navy Frigate, Marlowe.  She is almost close enough to spot with the naked eye, very close, perhaps on patrol.  Almost immediately the ship signals and the communications screens come life with the image of a Naval Lieutenant repeating the statement, “Unidentified ship entering the Flammarion system, this is the Imperial Naval Ship Marlowe.  Please identify yourself.”

Martin grits his teeth and waits for Steac or Gaetan to respond.

Drusil looks over at Steac in the command chair.  “Well Chief I will hand it over to you next if needed.”
Drusil responds, “Imperial Frigate, this is the Starship Urutu, of Walston Registry.  This is Sir Telyn speaking.  We are a neutral ship, on personal business to Flammarion.  What is the Imperial Navy patrolling neutral space for?  Are there pirates about?”

A smile briefly crosses her face, as she responds, “Welcome Urutu.  While technically neutral space, I’m sure you know there is a large Imperial Navy Base here.  We drew the short straw and are on a standard picket, monitoring incoming traffic.”  Then she smiles a mischievous sort of smile and says,  “There are never pirates about when the Marlowe is on patrol.  One moment please…”  She consults a computer at her station and says, “I assume you are in-bound to Flammarion Orbital?  Urutu, you have clearance to proceed.  Flammarion Orbital will contact you with landing instructions.  Please remember, Dante, The moon of Flamarrion, is interdicted.  No civilian vessels are allowed to approach without prior approval. ”

Sensor readings continue to roll in and Gaetan and Taezllo work to process them.  The Marlowe has a sister ship, also standing patrol at the other easy transit point from Jumpspace.  The other ship has launched it’s ship’s boat and is in the process of docking with an incoming Freighter.  Closer to Flammarion, there is a lot of traffic.  Flammarion Orbital an O’Neill Habitat has shuttles and smaller ships around it in a steady stream.  There appear to be quite a few ships docked, and one is approaching the main air-lock at Flammarion Orbital.

Near the large space port is an orbiting platform processing X-boats with several ISS Scout vessels are docked.  There is also a tether to the planet surface near Flammarion Orbital.

Dante, the moon and Naval base is a flurry of activity, including a Carrier class vessel that appears to be conducting some launch and recovery exercises.  It is surrounded by a cloud of small fighters.  Gaetan checks the Naval base for some familiar ships quite closely.  He does not find the ships he is looking for, but ultimately decides he’s not close enough for the scans to be conclusive.

Drusil contacts Flammarion Orbital for berthing instructions.  He also scans for any indication of the Hellhawks transmitter among the jumble of ship identifier beacons in the system.  As Drusil finishes his conversation with Flammarion Ortital “… That’s affirmative control, berth A-3467-B12.  I have the coordinates and will proceed directly there.  By the way, we were suppose to meet another ship here, has she arrived yet?  The Hellhawk, Imperial Ship ID 272djktj3377x894xuu19.”  Drusil scans the lists of ship names that are constantly being identified, looking to see other ship names that he might also recognise from his time in the service.

Flammarion Orbital copies the Imperial Ship ID and says they will check.  To assist with immigration and import paperwork, they request a full listing of cargo, crew and passengers.  Transit time at full acceleration will be just under two hours.

Drusill quickly spots the transponder from the Hellhawk.  The Hellhawk is docked at Flammarion Orbital.  In addition, there are several ships among the Naval contingent that Drusill recognizes.  He does not see the transponder codes for any of the war ships they identified in Walston.

Drusil says to Gaetan and Steac “Well there is the Hellhawk.”  as he points to the location on the 3d chart.  “It is very close to where we are berthing.  By the way I recognize the several Imperial Naval ships.  The Frigate Saratoga and the Cruiser Abukuma, they are docked on Dante.  I served aboard those ships.  In addition, there is the Battleship Potemkin, orbiting Dante.  That’s the flag ship of the fleet.  The head of my order commands that ship.”

Gatean says, “I’ve got the ship’s manifests ready to send.  I figure the less we hide, the better our reception will be.  Does anyone object to me transmitting this or want their name omitted?  I’m sending my name as Gaetan Boucher.  That’s the ID I’ve got.  My other papers are… or were on the Hellhawk.”

As Gaetan prepares the manifests, Flammarion Orbital contacts Drusil again.  They say, “We have located the ship you’ve asked about, the Hellhawk.  It’s in impound.  We discovered some irregularities in the paperwork and we are currently looking for the registered owner.  Do you know how to contact him?”

Drusil double checks the authentication code that the transmission came in with, verifies it authenticity, then looks over at Steac “You want to answer that one chief?”

Steac tells Gaetan, “Go ahead and send the manifests, we don’t have anything to hide.”  Then he turns to Drusil and says, “I’ll take that call now.”  He steps up to the communications station on the bridge and says, “This is Steac Malabru.  I’m the owner of the Hellhawk.”

The watch officer at Flammarion Orbital looks surprised.  “Oh!  Your on the Urutu.  We were expecting to have to send someone to find you off-world.  Usually piracy like this doesn’t end well for the owner.  We have your ship in impound.  We suspect it was hijacked by pirates, based on forged paperwork and some statements by the one person in detention.  We would like to discuss this with you on arrival.  There will be an investigator at the docking ring when you arrive.  Please have your identification papers ready, he should be able to expedite immigration and customs clearances.”

Steac thanks the officer and agrees to have his identification ready.

Gaetan spends the rest of the trip to Flammarion Orbital, hovering over the sensors.  He carefully catalogs everything he sees and reports during the docking approach.  “You know, of the two other ships I’ve seen arrive in system, and the one example that apparently occurred before we arrived, we are the only ship they didn’t board and search.”  He calls up the records from the arrival boards at Flammarion Orbital for everyone to see:

Ship Anticipated Arrival Time Status
Private Freighter – LSP registration 04:45 Inspection complete.  In transit.
Private Yacht 02:31 On approach to Flammarion Orbital.
Private Far Trader – Registered mail transport 05:33 Inspection complete.  In transit.
Subsidized Merchant 06:00 (est.) Undergoing inspection.

In addition, Gaetan says, “I’ve seen some open chatter on the Naval channels that make reference to ships in isolation.  I wonder if that means they have ships hiding in the system?  The Didimer Maku, the Akia Maru and the Murgukir come to mind.”

On final approach, everyone on the bridge plainly sees the Hellhawk docked only a few positions over from where the Urutu will be berthed.

Drusil notes “It looks like they are having us dock in the Impound section!  Here we go.”  Drusil makes a perfect maneuver into the space designated by the authorities.  He powers down the engines, but maintains them in idle.  “Just in case,” he says to himself.

Arrival at Flammarion Orbital

Steac, Gaetan, Shaki and …  meet on the main deck.  The main air-lock on the Urutu is adjacent to the bridge.  The officer on Flammarion Orbital signals he’s ready to board and enters the main air lock once the hatch is opened.  He waits for the air lock to cycle, then he and an assistant, carrying a small hand computer emerges into the Urutu.

He steps forward and says, “I am Investigator Avix Wain and this is my assistant, Galak Kalranoos.”

He continues, “Which one of you is Steac Malabru?”

Steac steps forward and identifies himself.  Investigator Wain checks Steac’s identity papers, quickly then hands them to his assistant for further analysis.  He says, “Captain Malbru, In the few hours that your vessel has been here, we have boarded and thoroughly searched your vessel.  What were the circumstances under which your vessel was stolen?”

Steac quickly relates the story of Gasizu and the Delta Rae terrorists.  He tells about them taking Kafla and the Hellhawk.  The inspector rubs his chin in thought, humming quietly to himself.  He finally announces, “Well it appears they still had your patron in their company when they arrived.  Most of them left the ship before we realized their deception.  We were able to detain one of the crew who remained behind.  We are searching for the rest of them now.  This is a very large station.  It might take us several days to locate them.  We are concerned about their piracy, hijacking and violation of Imperial laws, any other crimes committed while on Walston will be outside our Jurisdiction.”

Steac presents the warrant from Walston to the inspector.  “You understand that Walston is a client state of the Imperium, so therefore this warrant gives its legal representatives the right of jurisprudence against criminals who might try to hide in the Imperium from Walston justice.  As a courtesy we are checking in with you, but we are legally authorized by Imperial law to capture and return these criminals to Walston for further justice.  By Imperial law, you must do all in your authority to assist us.”

Shaki steps forward “As a direct representative of the Walston ruling council, I am here to attest to the authenticity of this warrant, and to show Walston’s resolve in aiding these men in recovering their property and their client.”  Skaki shows the inspector his diplomatic credentials.  “As a fellow of the law, I can understand and appreciate the reasons why local authorities might not want to become involved in this incident, but the terrorist made this an intersteller incident, by flying the pirated vehicle here to an Imperial Base.  This is by the Imperial Interstellar accords of 973.”

Investigator Wain takes a moment to review the Warrant.  After a moment, he says dismissively, “I cannot decide issues of jurisdiction like this.  It will require review by the Imperial Judge.  While he is available, I wouldn’t expect a quick response.  This is a matter of Imperial Law, and he generally doesn’t rule on these matters without the advice of the Legate.  The Legate is away on a personal matter for the next 3 weeks, but I will forward this matter to him right away.”

He continues, “I have taken the liberty of completing your immigration paperwork, and issuing everyone aboard passes onto the station.  In addition, I’ve given you access to the Hellhawk.  We have finished our searches there.  The ship is guarded and still considered impounded, pending further investigation.  So please don’t try to leave with it yet.  You are free to travel about on Flammarion Orbital, if you decide to travel to the planet surface or one of the other stations, you will need to apply separately.  You are free to investigate as you see fit, but the weapon restrictions still apply here.  That would forbid Light Assault weapons, machine guns and portable energy weapons.  Weapon discharge in the ONeill habitat is generally frowned upon for safety reasons.”

He finishes with, “Should the Judge decide in your favor, I will give you all the information I’ve collected so far.  In the mean time, I will continue my investigation.  Since it’s apparent you have some information about those who took your ship, I would like to speak with someone knowledgeable about the crew.  The person we hold in lockup is a bit of a puzzle.”

He turns to his assistant and says, “I assume there were no problems?”  The assistant nods his head and smiles the two look as if they are ready to leave.

Gaetan says, “I would like to go to the Hellhawk and see if my things are still aboard.  Since Shaki has the most information about the hijackers, perhaps he should answer the investigators questions and meet us back here.”  He turns to Steac and says, “I’m certain you would like to see your ship, go with me and we will see what shape it’s in.”

Shaki says to Investigator Wain, “Let me get my files and I will tell you what I know.”  He returns to his room and comes back with a hand computer that contains his notes.  Shaki, the investigator and his assistant move into the air lock.  You hear Shaki ask a question, as the door closes, “Who do you have in custody?”  You can just catch the investigators response before the airlock clangs shut.  “I think he’s the ship’s engineer…”

After Shaki leaves, Gaetan turns to Steac and says, “Shall we go?”  Drusil perks up “Mind if I tag along.  I want to see how much of the bridge damage has been repaired from the fight at Walston.”

The Hellhawk

When the group arrives at the docking port for the Hellhawk, there are two uniformed guards on either side of the docking ring.  They ask for identification.  Once they have confirmed everyone’s identity, they say, “The investigator indicated you would be arriving.  He asked us to give you the new security codes for the ship.  They were changed as part of the investigation, obviously we don’t want the hijackers to be able to access the ship again.  Please remember the ship is still in impound.  It’s not allowed to leave.”  The guard gives Steac the new security codes and resumes his guard position by the docking ring.

Drusil gives a short snorting laugh “Like that would stop the witches from grabbing them from your mind whenever they wanted them.  They are a little clueless in this investigation it seems.”

The group enters the main airlock and waits for the system to cycle.  On entering the lounge the room looks starkly different. The furniture is all the same, a few of the chairs have been rearranged, but all of Steac’s trophies are gone.  The walls are bare.

Drusil stands stunned by the atrocity of the situation.   “They must have had lots of help doing this.  There is no way those bb…witches could have done this themselves in the time they have been here.  It seems that they have some contacts on this world.”

“While I don’t doubt they have assistance here, why else would they have come here.  I doubt they needed help to remove the stuffed heads from the wall.  They’ve had 2 weeks to do that.”  He turns to Steac and says, “Sorry about the trophies.  It’s good that you’ve gotten a new one from Faldor, to start populating the lounge again.”  Gaetan excuses himself and goes to what was his cabin to see if his belongings are still there.  He returns a few moments later with a case.  He says, “It appears they didn’t take too much.  There’s a little cash missing, but my weapons and the large cash denominations are still here.”  He sets the case down and removes some padding and pushes a couple of hidden buttons in the case and removes some paperwork.  He then announces happily, “I still have my real identification papers.”

Drusil moves to the second level and looks at the spot where he killed the witch.  He looks to see if there is any evidence of the body left on the spot, and then looks up at the smashed cockpit windows.  The windows still have their blast shields lowered to keep the atmosphere in.  He calls Steac.  “While they might have cleared out your collection, they don’t seem to have made many repairs from the battle back on Walston yet.”  Drusil sits down at the pilots console and begins going over the entries and logs from the last 3 weeks, to see what has been added or removed.

It appears all the internal video, from the cameras in the public spaces of the ship, are available for the past 3 weeks on the security system.  It’s also apparent they did not clear any of the records from the computer.  The course from 567-908 to Flammarion is still entered in the computer.

Gaetan checks the computer for video of the time everyone left the ship on Flammarion.  After searching for a long time, he finds the video of the group leaving.  Everyone is in the lounge, Eniira, Gasizu, Bernard, Axel and Kafla.  Although there is no sound with the video, it’s apparent the dark headed woman named Eniira is giving Axel some instructions.  She shakes her finger in his face several times during the instructions.  Then everyone else, Kafla included leave the ship, Axel remains behind.  Kafla seems very compliant.  He is perhaps dazed or drugged.  He generally only does something when prodded by Bernard.  After they depart, Axel quickly leaves the lounge.  Gaetan says aloud, “Interesting.”

“Interesting is the word” mutters Steac.  Louder, “I can see that Kafla could well be being psionically manipulated, but to what end.  Compliant in order to use him or simply to keep him nearby and quiet in order to get rid of him?”  Pauses and chews irritably on his upper lip, then “What’s your take on that interaction between Eniira and Axel?  She seems p***** at Axel… maybe It’d be best to head down to engineering and look about for any mischief having been done to ‘ol Hellhawk.  Gaetan, are you game for a look?”

“It’s unclear what was going on between Eniira and Axel.  We suspect he was coerced.  It may be that, or something else, but checking the engines is a wise idea” Gaetan says.  He heads to the engineering space to check for problems.  After 30 minutes of checking the engines and power plant, Gaetan finds no problems.  He says, “If they’ve left a trap there, I can’t find it.”

The capture tanks

Steac: “Huh” he replies while stepping back from the others. “C’mon… come out, come out wherever you are.  Hellhawk was needed for something, but, wait!  The capture tanks… Gaetan, lets go.”

Gaetan and the others go down to the lower level of the Hellhawk and unlock the right capture tank.  The lights come on as they enter revealing what looks like piles of junk.  As their eyes adjust to the changing light, it’s apparent, that the junk is actually the trophies from the lounge, and other things that the Delta Rae women found objectionable.  The trophies have broken horns and smashed features, from begin handled roughly, but checking closely, all of the  stuffed heads seem to be here.

“Errrrrr… that hurts.”  Steac mumbles. Louder;  “A lot of work went into that collection.  I’ll have ‘ta pull the horns of those B****** for compensation.” A moment of quite passes, Gaetan says, “Well I assumed they spaced them.  Looks like you might be able to do some repair and have the lounge back like it was.”  “Huh!” barks Malabru, and angrily continues,  “Still, I’ve not captured and mounted a Delta Rae, could well be worth the cost of dealing with this mess.”  Gaetan gasps as the idea suddenly occurs to him.  He immediately turns and walks quickly for the door, saying to those still standing in the capture tank.  “If they used this tank, I wonder what’s in the other tank.”

On unlocking the other tank and entering, it appears that this room was more carefully arranged.  There is a comfortable chair and a small side table arranged in one corner.  It appears to be setup for some type of vid recording.  There is cloth attached to the wall behind the chair as a background for the vid.  A tripod and camera are setup opposite the chair pointing toward the chair and side table.  Gaetan asks, “I wonder what they were recording?”

Shaki Returns

While everyone is pondering what they could have recorded, the sound of the airlock cycling can be heard.  After the airlock has completely cycled, Shaki steps into the lounge of the Hellhawk.  He looks around and nods approvingly then he says, “Investigator Wain and his assistant are outside.  I think they have some information you would find interesting.  If you would like to follow me?”

Steac closes his eyes to the request and evens out his breathing.  Hazel eyes open and a demure smile shows itself as he begins, “Information is always welcomed, though, why not all come aboard a talk over some cups a caff?”

Shaki says, “I’ll ask.”  He exits through the air-lock and returns in a few moments with the Investigator and his assistant.  Investigator Wain searches out Steac and says, “Thank you for inviting me aboard.”  He returns the Warrant to Steac saying, “I transmitted your Warrant to the Judge.  Based on my experience with such things, I really did expect it to take some time.  Almost before the transmission was complete, the response came back from the Judge.  This is your investigation now.  I want to apologize if I left an incorrect impression with you.  I have seen jurisdiction matters like this take years to resolve.  I’ve never seen one resolved so quickly.  I am prepared to give you all my notes from the case and assist you in any way possible.

The investigator pauses and gauges how friendly his audience seems, then continues, “This case must be very important.  Because of my experience, I’m usually assigned to very visible cases that need to be resolved quickly.  This seemed an ordinary hijacking case, until I saw how quickly the Judge responded, I didn’t understand why this case was important.  Now I see, there is a political element to this case.  I won’t try to pry, I’ll just work with you to resolve this issue as quickly as possible. ”

Drusil speaks up “Why of course its a political matter:  Psionic terrorist loose in the Imperium and acting with out fear on  Imperial client states.  Wars have occurred for less.”  Deflecting reasons that might involve nobility or noble houses. “I’m glad you are appreciating the seriousness of the situation.”

“You are correct, Sir Telyn.  Wars have started for less.”  Investigator Wain says, careful to use the correct title for Drusil.  He seems to be very concerned that he’s been misunderstood or given some offense.  He continues, “Please don’t misunderstand me.  I give all my cases the same emphasis, and my full attention.  It’s often useful for me to understand the underlying motivations for these cases.  I’ve only become aware of the Psionic element to this case in talking with Minister Khuudaarma.  Initially this looked like a simple hijacking case.”

“Fortunately here on Flammarion Orbital, we deal with Zhodani regularly.  We have procedures and policies to deal with Psions.”  Investigator Wain waves a hand at his assistant as if to explain.  “Perhaps I should begin sharing what we know.”

Steac says, “Dru, this war is on our doorstep.” his eyes not leaving Wain, “What do we know?”…

Investigator Wain takes out a hand computer and begins.  He says, “This is Axiashbuaiiu Cherushis, known as Axel.”  He displays a picture of Axel and shows you.

Wain continues, “A former Lieutenant in the Imperial Navy.  He arrived aboard the Hellhawk, and was the only one aboard when we seized her.  He is now in our custody.  He has stated during our questioning that he had no choice to go with the Delta Rae hijackers.  He said he saw them kill Doc and knew that they would kill him, when he stopped being useful.  It seems Minister Khuudaarma shared these suspicions based on his investigation on Walston.  We will hold him until the remaining hijackers are apprehended, for his own safety.  Unless additional evidence comes to light, he will likely be fined and released.”

Wain takes the hand computer again and continues, “The remaining hijackers were last seen leaving the port facilities in an air/raft.  We have followed up on the registration for the air/raft and found nothing.  We have our security teams searching for them throughout the station.  We know they are still aboard the station, but we don’t know where they are at this point.  It’s likely they are not in any of the urban areas.  They have not used their identification to access any buildings or facilites.  It’s lost on most people, that there is no concealed point in this station.  There is always someone, or something overhead.  Due to the unique geography of this station, there is really no place to hide.  We have surveillance bots searching the station now.  At this point, they really only have to show their faces outside of a private structure and we will have them.”

“All interesting…” responds Steac.  “Coupla’ things first.  One. Axel goes nowhere.  Not yet.  Two.  The investigation isn’t finished with him until I say it is.  Whiile some of his story does make sense, I’m simply not done with him.”  Steac looks down at his feet for a moment, then, “Just how do you deal with Psions based on you’re inter… intermin… hell, your experience with the Zhodani?”

Investigator Wain says, “We can release Axel to you at any time.  He is also available for your questions at any time.  Your writ takes precedence over Flammarion law.  We will fine him before he leaves, because he did pass forged papers.  He was under duress at the time, but that just lowers his fine.  I understand that Minister Khuudaarma has a laundry list of charges for him back on Walston.  He was involved in smuggling there.  There is no evidence of duress in that case.  It’s just I understand you have no facilities to hold him.”

Wain says, “Perhaps I should have started with this.  We usually assume that people know the laws about Psions, on Flammarion.  No Zhodani understands the laws when they first arrive, so I’m not surprised it is even more difficult to those who don’t regularly deal with psionics.  The laws about Psions on Flammarion are quite strict.  There presence is allowed on Flammarion Orbital, but no where else within this system.  They all must register and everyone that comes to Flammarion Orbital is given an instinctive test for psionic powers, trained or latent.  This test is not 100% accurate, and Psions do occasionally slip through.”  Wain pauses and then turns to his assistant and asks for his papers.  The assistant quickly takes out an identity card and some other papers.  He hands them to Wain, who in turn hands them to Steac.  “My assistant is a Psion.  He is registered, insured and bonded.  You have his paperwork.  It is quite illegal here to use psionic powers without the express consent of the person they are used on.  Were my assistant to use his powers on you, he would immediately lose a large sum of credits he has submitted as bond. In addition, he would spend a very long time in a specially constructed prison.  As a condition of employment, he regularly submits to scanning of his thoughts to insure he hasn’t violated the law with his abilities.  His sole purpose in being here is to insure psionic powers are not used on me, and if they are, the attempt is reported and punished.”

“Assuming anyone being the wiser.”  retorts Steac.  “However, I suppose that’s beside the point.  Could your Assistant, Mr. Kalranoos, use his abilities on Axel at our request and, with Axel’s consent to learn a deeper truth?”  Steac trades a glance and smile with the Assistant who remains impassive.  “Barring that, how much would it cost to rent say… two or three of your surveillance bots and server time to trail him by my authority under Walston law?”

Wain responds, “Assisting you with questioning would be up to Galak.  In general, suspects are not likely to give approval for such a technique.  I would suspect that would be doubly true of Axel, given that he’s just spent the past two weeks on a ship with two Psions.”  He continues after a pause, “The surveillance bots are a part of the station and my investigating crew.  There is no need to rent them, but I think if you give Axel his freedom, the first thing he will try is to book passage out of here.  Do you agree Minister Khuuudaarma?”

Shaki nods in agreement.  He says, “The only concern that I have is that he may have supported the Psions in the past.  It’s obvious he hates the thought of spending any more time with either of them now.  It doesn’t take psi powers to see that.”

Steac sits upright, “Dru?”  Drusil responds to Steac’s call, “Steac?”  Standing up, Steac responds, “Walk with me for a few minutes.. Gentlemen, if you excuse me for several, I’ve business to attend.”  Steac and Drusil walk briskly away and up to the upper deck of the Hellhawk and make their way to the ship’s storeroom.  They stop at the entrance, “Steac? what’s up?”  Steac smiles, “The back-up plan.”  Several quiet moments ensue, then, “The way I see it Dru, we clear out of the Hellhawk and re-set the ship’s security codes.”  Steac steps through the threshold activating the storeroom’s light.  “Clean-up the cups of Caff, hussle everyone off the ship and have the Uniforms outside go back to Station Authority with Wain and Kalranoos. “  The second wide grin of the day threatens to damage Steac’s face as he gestures at the storage compartments in the room, “I’m a Hunter by trade; rope, sharps, bungies, sensors… we lay traps through the ship and incapacitate the lot of ‘em, groat-tie ‘em, and keep the Psions out-cold: I’ve plenty of tranquilizers for those “knock-’em-out for photo-ops” Safari trips I run from time-to-time.”  There was absolutely no humor in Steac’s hazel eyes.  “What do you say Dru?  Is this a go?”

Steac’s body falls in line with his eyes on Drusil.  Heatbeats pass with no reply from the Navy Pilot and breath exits with a whoosh from Steac, his back slumps restfully against the doorframe.  “The way I see it, we sic the surveillance bots on Axel’s tail.  Whichever direction he takes is fine as I’m as likely to believe he has been forced into this mess, which does leave the rest of the group up to us to deal with in terms of the disposition of.”  Steac fishes something interesting out from between his left incisor and molar with his tongue.  Uninterested with what is deposited between his right thumb-and-forefinger, he continues.  “We’ve our Patron Thingvellir to consider and the sooner we scrub his mind clean of the Psions, the better… be all done with this mess and get back to the business of another relaxing safari.”

Drusil looks at Steac “Well, we have already accomplished the first goal, the return of the Hellhawk.  To be honest I really don’t wish to see those witches again, and if the local cops want to deal with them, and they are out of our hair, I am happy with that.  If I heard later that they had been executed for trying to escape from justice, I wouldn’t shed a tear on their behalf.  As for Kafla, get him, make him pay his bills, and be done with him.  There are definitely easier clients to work for.  I’m ready to get back to Walston and get on with life.  Gaetan is ready to blow a fuse with his inner deamons.  The locals seem ready to help and please.”

Drusil begins ticking off his fingers “The witches are an evil bunch:

  1. They have exhibited the ability to manipulate thoughts of others, most of their allies/accomplices were ‘convinced’ that their doing so was their own idea, Axel is a prime example of that.  They used him, and now that they no longer need him, he’s been discarded like a used banana peel.
  2. They read other’s minds, so no matter what codes you change, they have them, and no matter what plan you make to surprise them, they already know your plans,
  3. They Teleport at will, so no place is safe in holding them, that is how they breeched the Hellhawks defenses.  The only thing that permanently holds them is death, and that is beyond our abilities since they are in local custody.
  4. They wanted us dead, they interrupted and stole our lives.

I’m tired of wrapping my life around their agenda.  I’m tired of playing in their pool.  I want to move on.  Since I can’t kill them, I want to get away from them.”

Drusil looks Steac in the eye:  “Captain, we were a pleasure craft, hired to escort rich bastards on pleasure hunts in exotic locals.”  Dru waves his hand around, indicating the docks, the people and the situation they are embroiled in.  “This is not a pleasure Cruise and we are not Marines nor Psionic Bounty Hunters!”

“You’re serious…” says Steac, eyes roaming about the storage area.  Softly, “Teleport…”  deep breath.  “Your plan has merit in it’s speed, ‘an I haven’t much dealt with Psions in my line of work… that teleport thing just spoils all sorts a fun.”  Stepping outside the the room’s threshold, the lighting dims towards off.  “The station surveillance bots are tracking the lot- how’d you suppose we can get Thingvellir’s wits back to him and out of the hands of the Witches?”

Dru “I’ve heard of this before, the kidnap victim becomes so acculturated by their kidnappers, that they begin to think that the kidnappers ideas are their own.  The ‘Hurst’ syndrome, as purported to be named after some media heiress kidnapped centuries ago.  She had even murdered in the groups name, for their cause.  At what point does the victim cease to be not responsible for their actions?”

Steac “OK, so Thingvellir may be along for the ride with the Psion’s, though I’ve the feeling that he is being controlled and being used as a pawn to further the aims of the Delta Rae.  I’m running down to the capture tanks… follow me, stop in the lounge with Shaki and the Inspector and tell them I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

Drusil says “Ok boss” and follows him back into the control room and then into the Lounge to speak with Shaki and the Inspector.  He grabs their attention by speaking “So how about those tensor jet football team.”  and lots of other jibber to keep them ocupied until Steac returns.  Shaki and the Inspector look at Dru as if he is an idiot.

Steac flys by all like a storm down to the capture tank.  There, he starts fiddling around with the recording device Delta Rae had set-up.  Once the necessary controls are pressed, he looks into the viewfinder and sees…

The camera still seems to contain some footage of Kafla in the chair, being asked questions from off-screen.  He is not cooperating with the off-screen questioner, refusing to answer questions and giving false and sometimes humorous responses.  The most interesting part of the give-and-take is the questions being repeatedly asked:

  • “Identify yourself for the camera!”
  • “What is your position with Sterilon LIC?”
  • “What do you know about the Trane System? “
  • “Are you aware of the habitat destruction that occurred there?”
  • “Why did you cover it up?”
  • “What did you know and when did you know it?”

Kafla’s answers are useless, but the questions seem to raise other questions and with enough retakes, Steac is sure that the pieces could be stitched together to say almost anything that the videographer wanted.

Steac returns to the lounge and says, “Dru, based on what is on the recorder in the holding tank, I don’t think Kafla was a willing participant… go down and have a look yourself.”  To Investigator Wain; “Where does Flammarion law stand on allowing Mr. Kalranoos project a… ah, heck, some sort of “cloak of not-being-thereness” onto this group of Psions?”

“I’m not certain I understand…” Investigator Wain says, looking puzzled.

Gaetan offers, “We do have the Psi-Shields from Walston.  Is that what you’re talking about?”

Investigator Wain nods and says, “Psi Shields are the other method to deal with Psions.  We have a large population of Zhodani refuges that need an outlet for their abilities.  We chose a more labor intensive solution.”

The Investigator is finishing his cup of caff when his communicator chirps loudly.  He answers and listens for a few seconds then responds to the caller, “Excellent!  I’m speaking to them now.  We will be there shortly.  Send two air/rafts to the Debarkation Terminal.  We’ll met you at the Tintern Copse.”  The investigator turns back to the group, and says, “They’ve found them.  It appears that Bernard Smith couldn’t keep his head down and was imaged by one of the reconnaissance droids.  This is your case, so how would you like to apprehend them?”

Steac reacts quickly and says, “Drusil, comm the Urutu and ask them to have the ship ready to leave at a moments notice.  Shaki, I’d like Gaetan and you to accompany myself and… …Inspector Wain and Mr. Kalranoos to Tintern Copse.  Mr. Wain, I’d like a group of your security personel covered by (Mr. Kalranoos?) and stun the living daylights out of the entire lot, Kafla too.”

Steac says to Wain, “I don’t want Delta Rae and would as soon forget them.  You can do as you wish with them from the confines of their cells for violating Flammarion law.  My gut tells me Kafla didn’t wish for any of this, and I’d just as soon want to take our Patron, his money, a good dose of honor, and Run.”  After picking up his now-cold cup of Caff and downing it, he says to Drusil, “I understand you’ve been through enough with these bastards, you can sit this out here on the Hellhawk with the others and we can blow out of here in 45 minutes and go back to our regular relaxing lives.”

Shaki speaks up and says, “Steac, while I can appreciate your interest in putting this behind you, the people of Walston still deserve to see justice with these criminals, but Inspector Wain and I can work those details out.”

Gaetan quickly returns to his cabin and retrieves a side arm.  He says, “We can pickup the Psi Shields along the way.”

Inspector Wain says, “Then let’s go.  I’ll release the Hellhawk from impound, and we can release Kafla to you after we have captured the criminals.”  Steac, Gaetan, Shaki, Investigator Wain and his assistant leave the Hellhawk taking the two security guards stationed outside.  They are headed for Tinturn Copse.

Hellhawk – Episode 18

<back to episode 17

Date: 1601110 through 1751110

Location: On board the Starship Urutu – 200 dton Yacht, in transit to Flammarion.  After a short stop on Faldor, a small backward planet, for refueling and a little hunting along the way. They crew and passengers of the Urutu ready themselves to enter Flammarion space.

Characters

  • Martin Clairmont (Pete Cooney) – Security – Marine Lieutenant C65645 Age 30
  • Gaetan Boucher (Billy Lenoir) – Engineer/Navigator – Retired Navy Captain 835B8F Age 46
  • Drusill Telyn (Robyn Nixon) – Pilot – Navy Lt Cmdr 3455BB Age 42
  • Steac Malabru (falcores) – Captain/Owner Hunter 9A88B8 Age 42
  • Kafla Thingvellir (npc) business executive Age 48
  • Shaki Khuudaarma (Vargr?) – Commander – A79798

Crew

  • Kninaae ‘Chief’ Saghzror (npc) – Second Officer and Chief Engineer – 685845
  • Hephestus ‘Hep’ Tsizkaear (npc) – Engineer’s Mate – 796766
  • Taezllo Ouzra (npc) – Navigator – 565976
  • Ensign Asheaar Kamidaa (npc) – Pilot – 796778
  • Urkoksou Kharrghse (npc) – Security Detail – 89A654
  • Gzanggvek Kangso (npc) – Security Detail – A89565
  • Lloa Kferr (npc) – Steward – 123456
  • Azkorr Kferr (npc) – Steward – 123455
  • Director Earla (npc) – Administrator – 5A799D

Dinner – Day 5

In just a few days, the Urutu will emerge from Jump-space in the Flamarrion system. Expectation and some tension have been building on the Urutu during this week. Gaetan has on several different occasions with several different crew members had shouting matches. He’s obviously stretched to the limit. Normally quiet Chief has been heard to ask quietly after a one-sided shouting match, “What’s his problem?” Taezllo, another victim of his tirades earnestly asked aftewords, “What did I do?”

Lloa has tried to make ammends and has called everyone to dinner, together on one of the last full days before exiting jump-space. She’s promised a big dessert, that has to be eaten in the Lounge and everyone, including Director Earla has made the effort to be at dinner.

Martin saunters in early and takes a seat at the table next to where he’s noticed Gaetan sit a number of times. He nods at the stewards. He had previously assigned Urko and Gzang to guard duty and was expecting them to report to him here before dessert.

Urko and Gzang show up just before dinner starts. They report that they’ve seen a few space roaches, but fortunately no tribbles. They think the ship is safe and request permission to attend dinner.

Gaetan is a little late for the start of dinner. Lloa scowls at him, and shakes a finger while smiling. She quickly makes sure he’s comfortable at the table, Gaetan even manages a smile, but he still answers most questions with grunts and single word responses. He’s still in the foul mood that has worsened on this journey.

Martin leans over. “What’s got your goat, Gaetan?” He says this casually but with the underlying seriousness that colors everything he does.

“Nothing. Why would you think there is something wrong?” He straightens in his seat and forces a smile to his face. He asks Martin, “How is the training with Urko and Gzang going?”

Martin grins. “They’re learning fast. I don’t think they had much real discipline coming up working for the humans. They’ll be good security guys.”

He then leans in close. “Now, speaking of real discipline, that was a nice “I swallowed my cat” smile but it ain’t going to fool me. Somethin’s botherin’ you.”

Gaetan lowers his voice, and some of the false enthusiasm drains out of him. He says to Martin, “You know, the universe is really just a big machine. We’re all caught in it. Some days you have the delusion that you’re in control, but the machine is still running. That day is coming when you’ll remember you’re not in charge. No matter how far up the social ladder you are, you always have a master. He’s never kind.” He pauses and says with a sigh, “If my math is correct, I meet my master in about 2 days.”

Drusil speaks up “I’m really liking the controls of this ship, They are very sturdy and reliable. I’m expecting that we will be able to jump in very close to the Flammarion homeworld when we arrive.” Dru eyes the stuffed head of the ‘Moose’ hanging on the wall above the dinner table “Dang that beast looks tough! Good job guys!” He hitches up the beltline of his trousers with his thumbs and sniffs. “If I had been along, maybe we could have bagged a dozen of them and really filled the freezer!” He stabs another chunk of the meat off his plate and chews it thoroughly as he eyes Gaetan and his discomfort.

After a long silence at the table, Drusill speaks up again “So Gaetan, what are you going to do once you return home after this mission?”

Gaetan looks up at the stuffed head and says, “You’re right Drusill, that was a rather remarkable beast. I’m sure it was majestic in the forests of Faldor. Just a few hours ago it was king of all it surveyed. But just like that Moos.. Moosid, isnt’ that what it’s called. Just like that Moosuid, I expect to be sombody’s prize. Hopefully not stuffed and mounted on the wall, but a trophy all the same.”

Gaetan takes a long drink from his glass, lets out a sigh and continues, “I suppose there’s no reason to keep this secret from you any longer. Sometimes there is security in NOT knowing, but ignorance won’t protect any of you any longer. Most of what was said on Walston about my identity was true. I was born, Gaaim Tenbok Arkula von Duur-Dirza, my grandfather was the Duke of the Gulf Subsector in Deneb, a title that was passed to my uncle. My family holds high noble titles. They are hereditary titles. Technically I’m also a Duke, although 4th or 5th in line to rule. In normal times, I would be expected to help my uncle in what ever way possible, but these aren’t normal times.” He pauses now, looking as drained as his glass.

Martin gapes. “Duke Gaetan?” he mutters.

Lloa, who’s been listening from the doorway to the Galley speaks up. “No indeed, these are not normal times. You have made remarkable changes for the better on Walston. All the Vargr there are thankful for the improvements made. We can’t let the opportunities you have provided pass by. We are all working our hardest to see real improvements on Walston.” She finishes proudly, but then notices that everyone is looking at her. She wipes her hands on her apron and asks, “Who’s ready for dessert?”

Gaetan says, “I’ll take dessert, Lloa and you are correct. Things have changed for the better on Walston, in my opinion. I also thought things were changing for the better of Qevar, many years ago. You see this is not the first time I was involved in large changes to government, but there were those who didn’t agree with me. My uncle was one of them. I was almost disowned. He decided if I took up a career in the Navy, he would not strip me of my title. I think since that day, he has been looking for an excuse to disown me. At the end of my career in the Navy, I thought he had his excuse, so I joined the crew of the Hellhawk. I’ve been waiting for him to do something for over a year now. It seems like he’s finally done it.”

Gaetan sighs and continues, “The only person who could have sent those ships that appeared in Walston was my uncle. They must have been traveling for weeks to arrive from the Gulf Subsector. I’m sure the news on Walston will just add to the punishment. Most Imperial war ships are capable of Jump-4. That means when we arrive in Flammarion, they will probably be waiting. They’ve had ample time to reach the Naval Base there. Mark my words, when we arrive in Flammarion, the Imperial Navy will be waiting for me. We will probably be boarded as soon as we emerge in the system. I’m ready to face my fate. I would suggest that none of you dispute what happens with the Imperial Marines. I would only end badly.”

Martin’s eyes get wide. “Marines?” he mutters.

Drusil looks over at Gaetan “Aren’t you being a little over dramatic my friend? And how can you be so sure that its your uncle that is sending these ships? You seem to have been on multiple watch lists. For instance the Order of the Dark Phoenix has been following your movements and don’t seem to keen on you advancing your career. As long as you were keeping a low profile they seemed happy, but now that you seem to be coming out of the woodwork, interest in you has peaked. Look at all those reporters that were flooding the planet as we were leaving. They weren’t there for the rest of us.”

Drusil looks seriously at Gaetan “You heard of this order right? Aren’t they a Nobel order directly opposed to your family interests and bringing about the collapse of several other noble houses?”

Gaetan looks a little suprised at the question from Drusill. He says, “I find it unlikely anyone else has commanded the Imperial Navy to move ships a full sector from their normal patrol range, besides my uncle. Perhaps there is war with the Zhodani coming, but it seems we would have heard rumors of this activity. As always, there are lots of groups that are not happy with me, or my family’s good fortune. I don’t know this Dark Phoenix group in particular. How have you heard of them? I don’t think I’ve seen them mentioned in the news.”

Drusil looks serious, more serious than Gaetan has ever seen him. “Up until a month ago I was reporting to them your activities. They are the Noble order that gave me my peerage after my departure from the Imperial Naval service.”

Martin’s eyes are practically bugging out of his head now. “Peerage? WATCHING US?”

Drusil continues “When I left the service, I was bitter. I was drummed out of the service with no retirement, and no recognition for my years of service with the Fleet. I had heard about you, the pampered younger son of an Arch Duke, who ran away from home and service, and I had not loyalty to you. I was approached by the Order and offered my peerage to knighthood, but under the condition that I seek you out and report your activities back to them. Little things, messages back to them about where you are, where you were going. They never asked any more of me than that.”

Drusil looks into Gaetan’s face, “But on Walstan I got to know you a little better, and got to see the stuff you were made of. Not the spoiled brat that deserved to be spanked. That is when I sent my last report. I didn’t tell them where we were going this time. In fact they should have been following that poor drunkard and his assassin instead. Your family must have pissed off some very influential people. Your family is not the only ones who can command squadrons and fleets.”

“Assuming we survive this little jaunt, I see the Walston transport contract as my way to get away and out of all this mess.” Drusil continues, “Being the captain of a little free trader. That is more than I ever hoped to end up with at this point.”

Martin’s fists come crashing down on the table. “ARRIGHT, THAT’S ENOUGH! Somewhere buried in yer petty agendas and life stories is the fact that the Navy, the Marines and the Order of the Dark Phoenix are all potentially looking fer us! If that’s so, WHY ARE WE STILL HEADED FOR FLAMMARION?”

Drusil is jolted by Martin’s outbust, and jumps to his feet “BECAUSE STEAC IS OUR FRIEND AND HE NEEDS OUR HELP! All indications are that the frakkin beatches that bushwacked us on Walston were taking Steac’s ship there.”

Martin glares. “Fat lot of good that’ll do us. We’re liable to be blasted right out of the sky.” He looks morose.

“What are our alternatives?” Gaetan asks plainly. “I’d rather confront these problems in Flamarrion than in some isolated system far from the Imperium. Sometimes the best way to deal with a trap is to spring it. I can’t run from my uncle forever. I think blasting us out of space is not their style. They would rather see us publicly humiliated. Please remember, there is a rather large Imperial presence on Flamarrion. It’s an X-boat and Naval Base.”

Martin keeps looking sullen for a moment, then looks thoughtful for a moment.

“Perhaps we should get on with the dessert”, Gaetan turns and says to Lloa, who’s listening in open-mouthed amazement.

Lloa quickly gets her bearings again and after a few moments delivers a wonderful dessert to the table. It arrives still slightly flaming, and as she cuts it into pieces to serve it’s apparently still frozen on the inside. She announces, “It came out perfect.” She seems pleased. As she distributes the pieces, she is more careful with two of them. She delivers Drusill and Gaetan’s with the title: “Sir” and perhaps a little bow.

Martin cocks his head. “Arright, so we might not die RIGHT away. But we havta have some backup if we’re gonna get out of this with our skins. What friends you still got on Flammarion, Gaetan?”

Gaetan says, “I have never visited Flammarion before. It’s a little outside the normal patrol range for the ships in Deneb Sector. I suspect, I will know the captains of at least two of the Imperial Navy ships that are there, assuming they arrived before us. What kind of friends would take this assignment. If you’re looking for a list of assets, I think we just have our wits. Again, I don’t think YOU have anything to worry about. I suspect I’ll never leave the space-port, or at least not in your company, perhaps under Imperial Guard. It’s house arrest I fear, not murder. Shaki do you have any idea how our Warrant from Walston will be received on Flammarion? Do Walston and Flammarion have any type of formal agreements?”

Shaki says, “There are no formal agreements, and my recollection is that the Flammarions are mildly suspicious of outsiders.”

At this comment, Director Earla who has been silent throughout dinner speaks up and says, “That may be a bit of an understatement Mister Shaki. I wouldn’t be a good negotiator if I didn’t know a little about my opponent. I read what I could before we left Walston. They are mildly xenophobic would be a better way to put it. This is at odds with the fact that Flammarion is a Naval and Trade hub. Perhaps this is a weakness we can exploit. They are afraid of outsiders, but they need them.”

Martin leans in. “We gotta find some angle…”

Without malice, or any emotion, Director Earla says, “You could sell the Duke to the local authorities in return for honoring your warrant.” As he continues eating his dessert.

The color drains from Gaetan’s face, but he remains silent.

Martin blinks. “Don’t like that idea. Other ideas?”

Director Earla quietly snorts to himself and says, “Too soft.” It was probably intended as a note to self, but it was loud enough that anyone listening for a response heard him.

Martin glares at Earla with a look that clearly telegraphs that the Director might be more circumspect about making comments like that to an ex-Marine.

Gaetan, a little flush now, responds, “We’ll do whatever’s necessary. I think it’s unlikely I’m leaving Flammarion with you anyway. If I can be of use, I would suggest you do it.”

Martin’s face is wash with emotion. “I don’t like it. I don’t like it a bit. But I’m not the CO.” He looks at Steac for guidance.

Steac grunts and says, “I’ve always heard that ‘Battle plans are useless, but battle planning is invaluable.’ We’re not going to know what will happen ’til we get there. What other tools, besides Martin’s Poni-Gun do we have at our disposal?”

Director Earla speaks up and lists these items:

  • The Warrant issued on Walston
  • The rank and title of Sir Duur-Dirza, or Gaetan
  • The rank and title of Sir Telyn or Drusill
  • The ranking security officer from Walston, in Mr. Khuudaarma
  • The Urutu and equipment aboard
  • Martin’s Poni-Gun

He makes snide comments along the way, that everyone has gotten used to ignoring. He finishes by stating, “I addition, you have my skilled services as a negotiator, what else could you need?”

Director Earla quickly excuses himself and returns to his cabin after it’s apparent there are no additions to the list. The rest of the group slowly wanders away, as dinner finishes. Some discussing what was said about the arrival at Flammarion.

Gaetan’s mood seems to lift some, since he’s gotten some of his concerns out in the open. He actually smiles and even laughs at some of Chief’s jokes as the final days of the transit to Flammarion wind down.

Hellhawk – Episode 17

< Back to Episode 16

Date: 1601110 through 1751110

Location: Where the crew having left Walston, get to know each other and the Urutu. The ship sets course to Flammarion and stops at Faldor, a small backward planet, for refueling along the way. As they enter Flammarion space trepedation is thick and expectations are high.

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Hellhawk – Episode 16

< back to Episode 15c

Date: 1511110

Location: The spaceport on the Planet Walston, where the crew find themselves without the Hellhawk.

Continue reading

Hellhawk – Episode 15c

< back to Episode 15b

Date: 1511110

Location: The spaceport on the Planet Walston, where the crew find themselves without the Hellhawk.

Continue reading

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