Mustered Out on Mertactor

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Rescuing the Aslan

It’s 0100, still a couple of hours to go before reaching jump diameter and Will is alone on the bridge when he hears a faint Signal GK distress call coming through the radio. The signal is intermittent, fading in and out, but it’s definitely a Signal GK.

“Arvor and Jie to the bridge please, urgent,” Will calls over the Tannoy.

Telling from the tone of Will’s voice that it’s something serious, Taeva and Grim head there as well.

Will tells them what he has heard.

Arvor immediately gets on the sensors to try and locate the source of the signal while Will tries to call the stricken craft for more information. There is no response from the ship however – it’s just the standard automated distress signal which is being played in a loop across all frequencies.

Arvor brings up the holodisplay and points out the source of the signal.

“I can’t tell exactly what type of ship it’s coming from,” he says. “But it’s definitely something quite small – no more than 100 tons, maybe less. It could be a Type-S or it could be a non-starship. It’s definitely not big enough to be a Trader… or a Pirate … or yet another Gazelle.”

“How long would it take us to get there?” Will asks. “Would it take us far off our route to jump diameter to get there?”

Jie keys in the coordinates.

“We could get there in a couple of hours,” she says. “Then another couple of hours from there to get to jump diameter, so it’s not going to delay us a huge amount.”

“So according to the Imperial Navigation Act of 103 we should head towards the origin of the Gashimeku Kaalariin, prepared to render assistance, taking precautions not to bring the vessel or occupants into danger,” says Arvor, getting all naval for a moment.

“Well I guess that we don’t have a lot of choice in the matter then,” says Will. “Especially when we have an IMoJ agent travelling with us.”

Jie nods and works out the new coordinates to the position that the signal is being broadcasted on. Will maneuvers onto the new course and starts decelarating.

The passengers are all sleeping soundly when, around 02.45, the Princess gets close enough to bring up the stricken vessel on screen.

“What the hell is that?” Jie explains as they all peer at the small, saucer-shaped craft that they can just make out at maximum range.

Will opens up the ship’s computer Jane’s All The Galaxy’s Starcraft program and runs the images through it.

It takes just a few seconds for the program to throw up a match:

Aslan Scout (Ihateisho class)
This is one of the most iconic Aslan vessels. Ships of this design are given to the ihatei of nobles. The young ihatei roam the galaxy, looking for territories to conquer. The controls of the vessel are as automated as possible, to allow males who are less than technically adept to operate without female help. The ihateisho is capable of making four-parsec jumps, allowing it to reach systems beyond the range of a standard scout. A typical ihateisho exploration lasts two to three years, at which point the wanderer returns to the nearest ihatei camp and gathers an army to conquer the most suitable territory he has found during his wandering. The ihateisho is then either returned to the clan or traded for a share in a larger vessel. An ihateisho can be considered especially lucky if its former owners have gone on to find good territories.

“Well this one wasn’t very lucky,” says Grim, studying the ship on the screen which is now available in a better resolution. “Looks like a micro-meteorite impact on the rear of the ship taking out most of it.”

Arvor studies the floorplans.

“The ships only have a single stateroom and are usually crewed by just one person … just one Aslan.”

As the Princess gets closer to the stricken craft, Will tries to hail it. But there is no response. He continues trying to call until the A2 matches the Aslan ship’s velocity. As the alien craft fills the viewscreen, all can see that the craft is terribly damaged. One half of the saucer has gone completely – fortunately these are just the fuel tanks though according to the information they get from the ship’s computer. The back end of the ship with the drives is mostly gone as well. According to the data, the bridge and living quarters are all contained in a bubble on top of the saucer. Although it too looks pretty battered, the bubble looks more or less intact.

“I can’t get too close to her because of all that jagged crystaliron,” Will says. “So you’ll need to vacc up and hop across. But beware of ferocious Aslan pouncing in self-defence. Perhaps tranq rounds? And perhaps we should not call for local system help or notify local authorities yet—aren’t Aslan all about honour? If we quietly help out, perhaps we earn an ally?”

Taeva agrees: “Unless he’s terminally daft he’ll be glad to see us. But I’ll carry a tranq snub and my gauss.”

“All the power’s out and so it looks like we’re going to have to cut our way inside,” says Grim. “I’d better bring my toolkit.”

“I’m coming too,” says Jie. “Looks like it’s going to take all of us to get inside as soon as possible.”

“I’ll wake up Autumn, send her down to the passenger lounge and then lock down the lower level,” says Will. “I’d ask Max, but I get the feeling that he’s a little preoccupied with other matters at the moment.”

Everyone suits up, checks their sidearms and then Will opens up the airlock. Taeva fires her grappling hook, which catches part of the splintered crystal iron. She then makes her way across while Jie holds the line steady. Arvor follows behind her, then Grim and finally Jie.

Once secured to the Aslan ship, they make their way around to the ship’s airlock at the rear of the bubble. As Grim predicted, it’s a mess and so he has to use his cutting torch in order to take off the hinges. It takes the best part of 30 minutes, but eventually they manage to breach enough of the twisted metal plate that they are inside the ship’s airlock.

The structure of the inner airlock is intact and so it’s just brute force that’s necessary to open it. Once they have unlocked it, the airlock swings open relatively easily, indicating that it’s Zero-G on the opposite side of the door.

Taeva cautiously exits the airlock, with snubbie in hand. She finds that the airlock leads straight onto the tiny bridge of the vessel. Floating around in the zero-gravity is a huge Aslan-shaped form in a vacc suit. Arvor follows Taeva in, followed by Grim and Jie who all cover her as she reaches for the shape. The form doesn’t react as she grabs a large leg and pulls it closer. Looking through the narrow faceplace she sees that it is, indeed, an Aslan inside it, one that is either unconscious or dead. She looks at the readout on the vacc suit’s wrist display. The glyphs don’t make any sense to her, but the suit is obviously still powered-up to be displaying anything at all.

The lack of gravity has the advantage that it’s easy to maneuver the bulky, dead-weight of the Aslan through the ship and into its airlock. Grim clips the Aslan to the line and then he, assisted by Jie, push its bulky form through to the airlock of the Princess.

The airlock is cycled, revealing Will, who has also suited up now.

“Best not to take any chances in case he’s contaminated in some way,” Will says by way of explanation.

“The ship’s power plant was ripped out with the drives,” Grim says. “So there shouldn’t be any radiation risk.”

Will checks anyway. Finding the Aslan’s vacc suit negative for any sign, he removes the Aslan’s helmet and checks again. His sensor is still picking up nothing untoward. With the assistance of both Jie and Grim, Will then removes the vacc suit completely and gives him one final scan.

“He’s clean,” Will says. “Looks like we found him just in time though – he must have been down to just vapors. He’s inhaled a lot of CO2. He’s going to be out for a while. I think he should just about pull through though. You’ll need to help me get him to the Med Bay though – I can’t lift the great lump all on my own.”

The threesome drag the immobile form of the Aslan through to Will’s room, which doubles as the Med Bay and, with some effort, manage to lift him onto the slab. Will gives him a shot of something or other and seems satisfied with his work.

“Autumn should be able to keep him stable until he comes around,” Will says.

Meanwhile, Arvor and Taeva have been investigating the ship.

“Let’s make it quick,” Arvor says. “I’ll disconnect the computer’s harddrive while you search the place for any of the Aslan’s possessions.”

The pair set to their tasks. Unused to the layout of the alien craft’s avionics department, it takes a while for Arvor to locate the ship’s computer’s harddrive. When he finds it, he thinks that it looks remarkably small.

Jie calls over to Arvor while he is still on the bridge:

“Maybe it’s a good idea to disconnect the distress signal now,” she says. “Otherwise some scavengers will find the ship and it will be gone – and that might really piss it off.”

“Rodger that,” Arvor says, and removes the battery from the emergency transmitter.

Meanwhile, Taeva makes her way to the solitary stateroom on the vessel located at the rear of the bubble. Inside it, she finds a variety of interesting objects. She pulls a blanket off the bed and loads the items into it so as to be able to carry them over to the Princess.

The first item she lays out on top of the blanket is a large suit of armor made from interlocking plastic rings. On top of it she lays a heavy ornamental breastplate and helmet, both of which are intricately engraved and bejewelled. In a closet, she finds the Aslan’s weapons. One is a long, clumsy-looking weapon some 2.5m in length with a spear at one end and a grappling hook at the other. The next is an oversized axe that looks like it would do some serious damage to anyone who was on the receiving end. There is a 1.5m long length of plastic thong, the use of which is not immediately apparent, but she adds it anyway as its weight is negligible. The only modern weapon in the closet is a short but stubby rifle – very primitive by Imperial standards, plus five magazines each containing 16 shots.

With the weapons locker now cleared out, she turns her attention to the rest of the staterooms. On the floor is a small, mechanical object, about the size of a small rat. She takes that too. There’s a small, black plastic item that looks like there’s something electronic inside it. It has just one button on it though. There are two pouches made of some kind of animal hide. A small one contains what appear to be intricately carved runes from a substance that looks like ivory. A larger one contains coins in a variety of metals – gold, platinum, silver and iridium. The bag is heavy – the contents must be worth a six-figure sum in CrImps. The last item that she finds is an enormous, hidebound ledger. She flips through it and sees that it is two-third filled with writing in alien glyphs. She bundles everything up securely in the blanket. Arvor adds the harddrive to the stash and they secure the bundle to the grappling hook and grab onto it themselves.

They radio over to Jie who is still in the Princess’s airlock and she winches them back onto the ship.

As they cycle through the airlock, Arvor tells Will that everyone is back onboard now, so Will takes off his doctor’s hat and returns to being a pilot. Jie and Arvor join him. Jie replots the course to jump diameter, while Arvor checks the sensors to see if there are any other ships that seem to be responding to the Signal GK by heading in the direction. There’s nothing else on the screens though – they are a long way from the Amber Zoned Aki and so it’s perhaps not surprising that there’s no traffic in the vicinity.

It’s around 5.30am when Jie confirms that the Princess is now over 100 diameters out from the sun and that it’s safe to jump. Will hits the big red button and the Trader safely slips into hyperspace.

With that taken care of, Will returns to his cabin where he finds a sleepy-looking Autumn watching over the Aslan, while the other party members stand around gawping at the alien, plus all of his possessions scattered around the room.

“All his vital signs show that he’s stable,” says Autumn.

Will nods. “You go and get some rest now. I’ll take it from here.”

He looks around the terrifying array of weaponry that Taeva brought over.

“So what are we going to do when he eventually regains consciousness?”

The party members discuss the situation for a while and decide that it’s probably not a good idea to leave the Aslan’s terrifying array of weapons in front of him and so place them in the ship’s locker. The rest of the items they leave prominently displayed in front of him though in the hope that it makes him a little happier when he wakes up.

They set up a watch rota, with everyone taking a three-hour shift at watching over him. They decide that they will have a snubbie loaded with tranq tucked into the back of their belts so that they appear unarmed at first sight, but have it at their disposal just in case.

Grim takes first watch, while the rest head off to get some well needed sleep.

It’s mid-afternoon by the time that the party members start to get up again. Max has been looking after the passengers while Autumn was sleeping, whistling a merry tune, wearing a happy smile with a glint in his eye.

Max is quite surprised when he hears of all of the events that transpired during the night.

“Is it male or female?” he asks.

“Male,” Taeva replies.

“Can’t ’elp you much with it then,” he says with a shake of his head. “I did a bit of trading with Aslan while I was on Mertactor as we ‘ad a few come through, but they were all female. I know they’re nothing like the males.”

Will suggests that he, and the rest of the crew, read up on the Library Data on Aslans so that they don’t do something stupid when he wakes up. Autumn is also a good teacher as she studied all of the major races during her studies at Merchant Academy.

By the end of the day, everyone is quite well-informed as to the habits of Aslan males, but still the beast remains unconscious.

Comments

Carter still got searched- even with the weapon handover.

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Yup – that’s fine. Any standard MOJ gear that you don’t want him carrying is now in the locker so he’s 100% clean.

He’s trying to keep a low profile so that Chan doesn’t know that he’s on to her so he won’t want anything incriminating on his person anyway (apart from his badge).

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So according to the Imperial Navigation Act of 103 we should head towards the origin of the Gashimeku Kaalariin, prepared to render assistance, taking precautions not to bring the vessel or occupants into danger (Arvor gets all naval for a moment).

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Let me know if you are going to dock and, if so, any special precautions you are planning on taking.

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Given the number of hijacking/ pirate attempts we’ve had in the short time since we owned the ship I’d suggest some precautions.

Man the turrets till closing and put the anti hijack into operation, and passengers locked down. The boarding party should be quite small. I would suggest me and Arvor so the bulk of crew can maintain stations. We might take one of the passengers as a volunteer.

At docking Jie could come with us ?

We should take some tools, an iris opener and some breaching charges in addition.

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We should have the “boarding party” in vacc suits maybe. And beware of ferocious Aslan pouncing in self-defence. Perhaps tranq rounds? And perhaps we should not call for local system help or notify local authorities yet—aren’t Aslan all about honour? If we quietly help out, perhaps we earn an ally?

In any event, we need to hail the vessel and let them know we’re here, ask if they wish us to dock and board, and advise we’ll be doing so if (when) we don’t get an answer. Will also dusts off his as yet unused translater computer software.

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Ah the Aslan bit was added as I was posting I think! Two should be enough. Unless he’s terminally daft he’ll be glad to see us. I’ll carry a tranq snub and my gauss.

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Zip-line the unconscious one back to our airlock for diagnosis by Will? I would prefer not to let him into the ship proper until anti-contamination procedures check out.

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Cool, we needed a Ship’s cat to keep the rats down ;-)

Agree re: anti-contamination.

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I’ll call up the crash-course on Aslan physiology in my medical database and prep sick-bay.

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I’ve forgotten: do we have an empty low berth?

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Just read the updated 042 post. Serluskoni—love it! LOL.

Given the attire of their majesties, we might want to keep the skinning knives out of sight when our newest passenger comes on board… Given their homeworld location, they might be really friendly with or bitter enemies of Grim’s newest pest-control asset.

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No empty low berths – Autumn could have sold a dozen of them but you only have five (four paying passengers plus Renee).

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Taeva starts trawling through her fairly large collection of books on the Darrians to pick out the bits about Aslan (which form a sizeable component of the Confed).

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Anything else you want to do at this stage, or just get into jump and wait for the Aslan to come around?

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We can’t hang around it might take days. We could scav any obvious gear but that might be outweighed by the risk.

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Agree with Steve that we should salvage what we can from the wreck. The Aslan might have critical personal items or maybe computer data that could be recovered for him. No way to take the remains of the wreck on board I assume. So, we should video the thing for the Aslan at least.

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We should search the wreckage – and try interfacing to its computer for any information. We could extract a raw dump even if language is an issue. It might be useful to know what the Aslan Hierate consider suitable invasion targets.

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Totally agree with Arvor. Also once our guest wakes up he might want some personal items nearby to calm him when he realizes that his clans’ coolest loaner ship was fragged while under his command. Things that produce smell might go a long way to sooth the lone pilot, maybe a drinking mug or a favorite stuffed human plushy doll. Jie takes pains to document the position of his unique vessel using her Astrogation skills. This will of course be given to the Aslan so he can salvage what he wants at a later date, or if he wishes, the information can be sold at Glisten in a sleazy bar to a group of adventurers looking for some quick credits. Thus continuing on the time honored tradition of Patron/Party dealings.

To ensure that the broke ship will be there upon the owners return, Jie proposes a plan to turn off the rescue beacon. Who knows what type of villainous scum ply these trade ways. (Jie picks up a discarded little glass bottle, empty of the Sex Slave Pheromone, that Max just tossed under the couch on his way to Veronicas’ room. OK, maybe she does know what type of villainous scum ply theses trade ways.)

For her own part, she dresses down and attempts to look less feminine, a goal easily achieved. This is done so the Aslan male won’t be too freaked out about a female warrior. As Will reads up on Aslan-Humaniti etiquette , Jie scans over his shoulder in the vain hopes that somehow her very low social skills with humans will be reversed when dealing with alien cultures. She ponders the idea of waking the warrior up by scratching him behind the ear and cooing “Who’s my big boy…You are…You are…Whoubbbb Woubbbie Wubbies…”

On a personal note, Jie continues to practice with her laser carbine with a vengeance. Over the past half year she has seen every holo movie this ship has to offer and she can’t wait to go shopping for some new ones. Also, she has asked various crew members about their augmentations. Growing up on a poor, low tech world has made her a little shy to the idea about mucking around with nature. But the teams enthusiasm for Glistens’ medical fields has got her thinking of the future and she starts asking questions about cybernetics.

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He might as easily come from Darrian as the Heirate. As far as I understand it these Ihatei aren’t miltary as such- more like clan based scouts.

I think the Imperium has an unofficial policy of denying land sales and settlement rights to Ihatei. If you remember there was that big stink a few years back when Baroness Lum Lei- her dad had served as Imperial liason to an Aslan Merc. Regiment that had served with distinction in the Fourth Frontier War- got pissed off at the persistent blocking attempts being made by the Ministry of Colonisation to prevent land purchases by said regiment on some pisspot backwater world near Mora which desparately needed the colonists. She made the accusation quite strongly and embarrassed so many members of the Imperial Bureaucracy the main Clan Ambassadors started asking questions.

I think there was some sort of compromise reached but they ended up buying land outside the Imperial Borders. If this guy has some ideas involving Glisten sector will likely be out of luck. Probably best not to spell that to him direct.

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Jie some augmentations aren’t sticking machines in you ear. Some use biotechnology. Reflex boosts for example can be achieved cybernetically by ‘hardwiring’, but at New You I chose the biotech option- which basically uses nanite treatments to rebuild the neural sheath around your neurones- making transmission more efficient. So its not that I have bits of wire stuck in me- but that my existing neurones have been ‘improved’.

Mind you apparently if they mess up the treatments during the process apparently they coat your neurones in a less effective sheathing (‘goo’) and you can actuaally end up worse off.

So nothing to worry about see?

I think that some biotech boosts eg. Sttength and physical power they actually implant additional glands-but I never checked on that you’ll have to ask them.

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Well as our Top Gun Will I imagine he’ll challenge you to a duel to establish the pecking order.
I don’t know the Aslan Code Duello but which of these do you fancy? The big axe?

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Jie looks from her cutlass to the Warriors huge axe then back to her cutlass. “Ahhh..mm” She states in way of non committal. She hopes her newly (if imperfectly) learned Aslan diplomacy skill can detur any messy blade shinnanigans.

“Ah, well. If the worst case scenario happens I’ve been gutted open for sillier reasons.”

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It’s the Pilot/ Captain who will be percieved as the most worthy. No pressure Will.

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Jie snickers.

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Will thinks carefully before choosing a champion to represent him (after all, the most worthy needn’t bother getting their hands dirty). He decides that either woman would do—it’ll confuse the kitty and further humiliate him when he loses. Should he win, well, they both laughed at Will. They’ll pay, oh how they’ll pay…

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Don’t switch on the electric blanket.

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LOL @ Steve!

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Grim goes to Engineering to fix up something to give Will an edge in the upcoming mano a mano duel. Quickly working he grabs one of the automatically telescoping cleaning rods he uses in dry dock on the engine intakes, removing the cleaning head as he sets the length of the rod to 2 meters. Then he uncoils a meter of of fine strapping cable and attaches it to the end. Finally, he adds a large fluffy feather to the end of the cable…

“Here Will, wave this in front of him. As long as you keep it moving he’ll be too distracted to attack…”

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“Just make sure we get it on video,” Max adds. “That would get billions of hits on YouTube. Then, after it’s killed Will, try and get it to work the photocopier. That’s always good for a laugh!”

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(LOL)

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