The party members don’t get long to sleep as they have to be awake before 5.00am in order to pack and check out of the hotel.
They arrive at the field outside the city just before 6.00 to find that it is a hive of activity as people get onboard ahead of departure time. The party members are dressed up in their finery in order to try and blend in with the upmarket crowd that will be onboard the airships.
Having already taken out most of their weapons to give to Autumn in order to take them back to the ship, the others try and smuggle through just their most hardest to find items. This was a wise move as the Mercs on security check them all carefully as they arrive onboard.
A porter escorts them through the vast ship to some cabins in the centre of the ship and tells them to assembled in the main ballroom for breakfast. The rooms are small but sumptuously appointed. Realizing that they could very well need to make a swift exit from the ship, the party members don’t bother to unpack – they simply stow their bags and then head down to the ballroom.
The ballroom is packed with an assortment of different dignatories. There are some minor Z-list celebrities there, some minor nobility and some rather unsavory looking characters who look like villains who are there with their trophy wives/mistresses. All seem to be having a good time as they wait for the race to commence.
The party members try the breakfast buffet. As expected, it is exquisite. Either the Connoisseur prepared it himself or else he trained whoever is responsible for it. The party members discuss their intentions. They decide to try and check out whether the Connoisseur is in charge of the catering by asking if it is possible to pass their compliments on to the chef. Eventually the guards agree to this and the party members are allowed up to the kitchen. They are disappointed, however, when they are introduced to an ordinary-looking guy in his late-twenties. They keep up the charade by complimenting him and then head back down to the ballroom.
It’s close to 8.00am now – the official start time for the race and the airships are untethered from their docking towers and are positioned in a long line. There is a vast crowd now assembled outside to watch the start of the race and several news helicopters hovering around to record the race.
At 8.00am exactly, the umpire fires a flare into the air and the airships surge forwards. Within a matter of minutes, it is obvious that the Baischormth is the ship to beat as it is already starting to open up quite a lead on the other entrants. The Imperial entry, Pride of the Ancients is somewhere towards the rear of the field.
As the Baischormth continues to increase its lead, the passengers interest starts to wane a little and they go back to chatting and drinking. With little attention being paid to what is going on outside, Stian takes the opportunity to release his recon drones over the side of the observation deck. Over the next few minutes, he manages to get a very good idea of the layout of the ship from the outside, but most of the rooms are closed and so it is not possible to enter them. It would appear that the top floor of the airship is where the Overbluff and the crew have their quarters.
The party members discuss their options, finding them quite limited. Later in the morning they decide to stage a medical emergency in order to Will and Taeva can gain access to the upper decks. While they are allowed up to the ship’s Med Bay, they are escorted by guards and so they are unable to find out too much more information.
So it’s back to the drawing board.
The morning passes with the Baischormth continuing to increase its lead over the other airships which are now barely visible on the horizon. Now the Thunderhead mountains are approaching in the distance.
The party members continue to discuss what they should do, starting to run short on ideas. Although they have no idea as to the amount of mercs onboard, without much in the way of weapons, the party members know that they are no match for them in a regular firefight.
The party members learn that there is a VIP section on the top two decks of the airship, at the front – this is where the Overbluff is likely to be. The party members realize that this is where they need to be if this is where the action is and the Overbluff is unlikely to come down to mingle with the hoi polloi.
As usual, Max is sent to do the talking. With a little time and the usual combination of bullshit and bribery, Max presses a couple of G into the guard’s hand and is given the nod that it is OK for them to go on through into the VIP area.
The party members head on in to see that the section is even more luxuriously appointed than the rest of the ship. The small area is quite crowded – with the same types that occupy the rest of the ship. Through the crowd they see the Overbluff, who is flanked by a couple of guards. He is making small talk with some of the other visitors, but his attention does not seem to be fully upon them.
The view from up here is excellent. They can see that the Baischormth has started to descend. The other airships are now catching up with them. Pride of the Ancients has made its way up the order during the morning and is now running in third place. The party members overhear the Overbluff tell the guests that they need to go down to check on the engines but that there is nothing to worry about – they still have full control of the ship.
As the other airships get closer, the party members realize that this must be the time that the Overbluff is going to take out the Pride of the Ancients and that there is no time to lose.
Realizing that there is no time for planning or complicated strategy, Taevae seizes the initiative by backstabbing one of the Guards. Turning to the Overbluff he laughs, and then, much to everyone’s surprise, the vanishes into thin air.
It’s pandemonium now in the room as the non-combatants all hit the deck while the guards reach for their weapons. The other party members are on them like a shot. Jie gets hit in the skirmish, but not enough to drop her, while the two guards are quickly downed.
The party members grab the guard’s dropped weapons and then Taeva leads the way in moving further into the ship. She sees that the bridge is immediately behind the room and piles into the four crew members who are manning the controls. It seems as if they are trying to maneuver the ship into position so that it can take a shot at the Pride of the Ancients. Taeva takes down the first of the crew members and fights off the counter attack by the others.
She is joined in the room by Jie and Grim. Together they finally manage to take out all four crew members without injury and without the ship being able to draw a bead on the Imperial Ship. Will comes forth in order to pull the craft’s nose well away from the Pride of the Ancients in case there are other ways of firing the weapons while the rest of the party members grab the crew members’ dropped gauss pistols and take up positions in order to stop the inevitable counter attack from the guards.
Taeva takes down a couple of them as they try to come around the corner, while Stain sprays through one of the interior walls, taking one down and panicking the others. A couple more are shot as they emerge round into the corridor.
With only one narrow corridor from the guard’s quarters to the bridge and with the party members now armed with the guards’ weapons, they are in a good defensive position, able to take out any more guards as they come around the corner.
The guards have obviously figured this out for themselves as there is a lull in the combat as they come up with a new strategy. Will takes advantage of the lull by seeing to Stian’s wounds.
The Gards make their final all out counterattack with many of the mercs rappelling down from ropes from the ceiling of the ship. On the way down, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel, but the numbers are on the side of the mercs as they flood in. Jie gets badly injured and close to dropping as she fights off the descending mercs in the front of the ship, and Max finds himself totally outclassed at the side, getting dropped after taking a couple of them down, leaving Grim to finish the job.
The mercs are all down now. On the bridge, Will sees that a Ship’s Boat has left the ship from the rear and is heading up to orbit at maximum G. The weapons on the lumbering airship are no match for the swift craft and so there is nothing that they can do but watch as the Ship’s Boat heads out of sight, presumably with the Overbluff on it.
Will is in communication with the local defense forces. They tell him to bring the ship down and to wait for further assistance which is now on its way. Will does as he is bid, bringing the Baischormth down, allowing the panicked passengers off the ship.
With that taken care of, Will goes through the computer and other contents of the Overbluff’s private quarters. Will’s attention is drawn to a mural of what appears to be a Medieval style small fortress on a plane of ice. He pays close attention to the constellations visible in the night sky above the fortress and cross-references them against planetary charts on his handcomp. After a while, he deduces that the fortress is located somewhere in the southern hemisphere of Noctocol.
Will then goes through the files on the computer. There are more references there to ‘the Chimp’ being located there and that the the Overbluff is starting to tire of him. Will relays all of this information to the others. They realize that this must be where the Overbluff is heading for.
By the time that Will has gone through everything, the Imperial Marines have arrived. The rest of the afternoon is spent being debriefed by the Military Police assigned to the Marines, a long and laborious process where all of the party members are asked countless questions. It is early evening by the time that the MPs are satisfied that they have all of the information that they require from the party members and offer them a ride back to Moffat Field in their APCs on the way back in thanks.
It is quite late by the time that the party members return to the ship and many of them are still pretty beaten up from the fight. As a result, they decide to have an early night.