Detachment 2551 : A Star Frontiers Adventure

Chapter 16 - Gomra's Eye

Medical Bay - Vercingetorix - stardate fy1111014

The Lacien. The Pirates. The attack and the sounds of alarum ringing through the cold metallic hull of the Vercingetorix. Cymon is seemingly transfixed by the swirling chaos about him. In fact, Cymon barely feels the pain from the shards of glass from the crushed beaker in his bare paw. Only the sound of blood dripping onto the floor that draws his attention back to reality.

"Grachak", he mutters bitterly. In a moment he drops the shards onto the hard metal floor. Then he sneers. The small puddle of blood at his feet with the cruel edges of glass smearing them form a familiar shape... the malevolent ouroboros he had come to know too well. Syrtra. His only recourse is to get some air. He keys the CAS panel and exits the lab, entering the computer berth. A change of venue at least.

Srytra fills his thoughts. Where was he? Or more, who? Azram? Only because of the fiend he faced. Without that bane, he was nothing. A shadow without a form. Or was Syrtra, and the Doghan, his own shadow?

That the entwining spirals of alien DNA spinning before him on the lab vidscreen also shared the sinuous mirrored form of the Ancient Enemy only paints the irony that much sharper. Lost in these thoughts, Cymon doesn't even realize he has sealed and bound the wound inflicted upon himself. Only the curious face of V'Sndyk looking at him from the main computer terminal rouses him from his stupor.

"I am fine. I am,... this one..."

He turns away and re-enters the lab. Even his sacred self-avowed shame was cracking under the strain. Recent events have left him confused, desperate to seek answers. Only moments ago he stood before the comm. panel on the bridge and keyed the Message Relay Bank of Histran for any messages in his account. Sure enough, his aunt had received his earlier message and replied. The words were comforting but offered little in the way of direction.

"MESSAGE RECEIVED, UNWORTHY. YOUR CLAN RECOGNIZES THE TRUE CYMON AND ACKNOWLEDGES THE NEWSFEEDS AS LIES. WE ARE AT A LOSS TO UNDERSTAND YOUR FULL PREDICAMENT. THERE ARE RUMORS OF THE COMING OF AZRAN. IT IS A GRAND TIME INDEED WHEN ONE OF AK- BARRUDA CLAN MAKES SRYTRA A LIFE ENEMY. YOUR QUEST FOR ABSOLUTION IS FULL OF PROMISE. WE ARE AT YOUR DISPOSAL. CONTACT US AGAIN WHEN YOU CAN. GO WITH OUR BLESSING."

Work. Here was refuge. Cymon gives himself a stimulant to wrench his mind from the dark place it sought.

(Cymon: Medical Misc. : Automatic)

"OTTO,... Employ a passive search for radio-frequecies originating from Amradar. Calas, Osiris, in particular. Evaluate and decode what you can. Display the information on my screen."

The response is insantaneous. OTTO's voice reads out-loud the information on-screen. "Picking up low-level background radiation presumed to be noise deflected by moon's albedo coefficient. Also picking up a seemingly random series of high-frequency bursts of radio activity from the surface directed outside of the system. The bursts do not match subspace characteristics and therefore cannot be subspace transmissions. Bursts have no perceived order and do not fit the parameters of decryption program. Unable to detect source of transmissions."

"Ahemmm." He clears his throat to gather his composure further. He keys the chronocom.

"Uhm. Mr. Umpah. I, this one has begun a search for transmissions going to or from both Calas and the Osiris Station. You may need to assist in this process. If there is an encoding scheme, examine the files from the Lacien to see if they match, or if any other useful patterns emerge. We may be able to determine something of the activity aboar Osiris."

"Roger that" Ruby replies.

Without pausing, Cymon continues. "OTTO, the energy signature of the engineering room on the Lacien may correspond to something we have encountered. Check this against the strange signature from the Gold Zamra."

Once again OTTO answers almost before Cymo finishes his sentence. "No correlation detected."

Cymon frowns and continues. "OTTO, patch me in to hullbot Beta. Beta, report on your investigation of the hull of the Lacien. Specifically, did you retrieve a surface sample for any particulate matter that may have been left over from exposure to moon G environment, and have you examined the Lacien's subspace array for signs of a device similar to the one found aboard the Vercingetorix?"

The hullbot's mechanical voice is several degrees less congenial than that of OTTO's. "Affirmative on both queries. Forwarding soil sample to Mr. Cole for study. Investigation of subspace array yielded a cavity matching that of the Vercingetorix after removal of device. Also, similar signs of incendiary device exploding upon discover of device. No evidence of device or its contents found onboard the Lacien."

Cymon lets out a sigh. Another dead end. But more leads. To more dead ends? Perhaps, but likely to more leads as well. He pushes the frustration to the back of his mind and returns to the image of the DNA on his lab terminal. Something about the flora-fauna report from moon 'G' intrigues him. Someone had compiled a vast database of information on the ecosystem. It appeared to be a survey report, but no documentation could be found. It was as if the information had been gathered in a hurry with little thought to its arrangement. Cymon sniffs and calls up a new routine for cross-referencing the samples. For what seems like the thousandth time he passes the information through a different set of filters to find a pattern.

(Cymon: Analyze Exosystems lvl 1 + 1 CS = 45%; rolled 16)

Cymon is humming a childhood chant when the process completes and a new graph appears on the screen. His humming is caught short as he gasps at the images.

"Unbelievable. This must be wrong..."


Life Support - FCS Lacien - stardate fy1111014

"Here we are," Marcus says, glancing first at Mrylinax then at the door to engineering. "time to find out what's on the other side." Readying his rifle, Marcus prepares for the worst. As the tension builds and Marcus' finger approaches the open switch, he becomes more acutely aware of his breathing, amplified within the narrow confines of his pressure suit helment. Sweat flows down his temples while his heart begins beating faster in anticipation of the unknown. Slowly he grasps the manual control to the pressure door before them. In an instant they would know the answers.

"It's Gardus' convoy! They're finally here! And they've got company!"

It is Groo's voice booming in his headset that almost gives Marcus a heart attack. "Oh hell!" Marcus withdraws his hand, secretly relieved at the voice he hears over the audio channel. " Groogash, what have you got on the sensors? How many ships made it in system? Upload your sensor readouts to my helmet visor. I want to know how much time we have before they're intercepted. " Green light suddenly frames the angles of Marcus' face as a dis-viz readout scrolls down his helmet visor. Groo can be heard interpreting the data from his station onboard the Vergingetorix bridge.

"I've got a frigate and two assault scouts in Gardus' group and six unidentified bogeys on an intercept course. Estimating that the two convoys will make contact in 20 minutes. If we can send a tight beam transmission to Gardus using the Crimson Pirate frequency that we used to contact them the first time that will let them know that we are near by. Gardus' ships should be able to get some kind of size and make of the incoming bogeys since they are closer. If we were to leave now to assist them we would not arrive until 40 minutes into the battle - anything can happen in that time. "

"One other Item we need to consider, and that is the possibility that we could slip into the system undetected while Gardus' group is keeping their attention. I suggest that we come to a quick decision while I make initial contact with Gardus. Groogash out."


Bridge of the Vercingetorix

Groo swivels in his chair at the astrogations console to address Ruby. "Ruby, send a tight beam directional transmission to Gardus' ship using the frequency that I'm entering now."

Ruby peers at the frequency readout that comes up in front of him and begins keying the transmission.

(Ruby Communiation Devices: Operate SL 3 + 1 SL = 53%; rolled 09)

Ruby nods, ids signal for Groo to begin. "Crimson Pirate Frigate, this is Groogash Kar'Chudka aboard the FCS Vercingetorix. What is your situation? Have you identified the incoming ships? Do you need our assistance?"

A tense few seconds pass. At last Ruby notices the open channel register a return signal. Ids pseudopod patches the signal through and a burst of static settles into the din of crewmen yelling orders to one another aboard the Frigate Lolita's Revenge.

"This is Captain Gnarr Ch'Holo - we acknowledge you, Vercingetorix. Be advised there are multiple unfriendlies in the area. We are reading six vessels outbound from Histran with markings that match the Scree Fron militia forces...zzzzz...not returning our hails...zzzz"

Ruby's voice cuts in, "We've got a jammer working against us... I'm upping the gain."

".....zzzzassume that all forces in-system are hostile. We are moving to evade. The Banuul is suffering a reactor problem, preventing us from rendezvousing at Gomra's Eye. We will stay with her and the Crodizhar. Chamra has ordered me to advise you not to join in the fight. We will attempt to meet you at the objective. If you do not hear from us within 20 hours then proceed with your quest. Azran be with you, my friends."

The radio returns to static. Ruby switches the channel off. "We've lost her."


Onboard the Lacien

Marcus, listening from the ghost ship, interjects. "Okay, now we ask: based on the ships that made it, what do we think are Gardus' chances in the upcoming engagement? Is it likely that our assistance will help them in anyway?

Without looking up from his work, Freya replies to Marcus' query "Even optimistic projections give the pirate fleet a low probability of victory. One participation would not radically change that probability, but would likely end our mission. However, two assault scouts, fully armed and conducting a surprise attack, might reverse the odds. Unless the Lacien can be made combat ready, I suggest that we proceed with our mission and run the blockade."

The radio crackles again. This time with Ty's voice. "No way that's happening. From the video feed I'm getting on the Lacien, she's going to need weeks of repair work to be combat-ready. Aside from strapping a bomb to her ass and shooting her in one direction she's not a contender."

Marcus says, still pointing his rifle at the door to the Lacien's engineering room.,"So if we don't make a dash for the planet now, we may lose our chance to get past that blockade. But if we do join them now, we may never make it to the planet's surface. Well, I don't like the idea of someone else dying for our sake, especially when we sit by and do nothing. But I'm reluctantly inclined to agree with Freya on this one."

Pausing briefly, he adds "In common vernacular, the price of our passage will be paid with their blood. An unusual group of pirates..." With an awkward shrug, his attention returns to the CAS display.

The silence that follows speaks for the crew. Marcus nods. "Okay, then, we proceed to moon 'G' directly. The mission takes precedence, even Gardus thinks so. Let's get ready to go. Freya, we await your analysis of the engineering situation - are we clear to move yet?"

Freya's eyes are transfixed upon the door. "Do not approach the engineering compartment." In a less forceful voice he adds "doing so would likely cause your death." With the conversation over the radio concluded, Marcus and Mrylinax suddenly notice the excited noises coming from Freya's E/M Duo CAS. "I am reading an enormous e-field generating from somewhere beyond this door. There exists a drop in electric potential so great as to defy normal starship conditions. This door is the only thing serving to insulate us from that potential."

Marcus and Mrylinax exchange confused looks. "Uh, in laymen's terms, Freya?"

"The phenomenon of lightning is a justifiable example. Electrons build at one point in the clouds and scatter at another point in the ground. Eventually the collective charges are so incredible that the poitive charge of the ground attracts the electrons in the sky. The arc of electricity that we see is the instantaneous movement of electrons to an area where there is a much, much lighter concentration of electrons. As they say, a drop in potential. As if several thousand gallons of water were building up pressure behind this door..."

"...ready to burst forth if allowed." Marcus finishes.

"So you're saying there's a lightning bolt waiting for us on the other side of the door?" Mrylinax asks, suddenly interested in the practical angle to this science.

"Enough instantaneous energy to fry anyone or anything that comes in direct view of the source," Freya concludes dryly.

"By the cold! What could be generating that?"

"I've heard of this before," Marcus offers. "Back in the militia we came across electrical booby-traps guerillas would leave behind as they vacated their camps. Just ground one area you want your victim to walk into and build up a huge charge in another, insulate the two areas, leave a trigger for removing the insulator when the victim enters and ZAP!"

Turning to Marcus, Freya reports "A defense against the e-field gradient is available. A gauss screen from the bridge weapons locker can be attached to the SEU recharge port in the technical plant via these power cables. Protected in this manner, one of our party should be able to enter engineering and assess the situation."

"You said '_should_ be able'?" Mrylinax remarks.

Groo interjects over the radio after listening to the exchange. "You ma also want the person to wear a Inssuit/radsuit, which we have on board our ship if there is not one available on the Lacien."

Without another word, Freya moves to the front of the Lacien and retrieves the guass screen from the bridge locker. On the way back, he finds some heavy duty power cables and interfaces the screen with the SEU charge port in the technical plant of the ship. His power guage clearly shows a fully-charged onboard battery. Within a few minutes he is once again standing at the door to engineering.

(Freya Power Read: Automatic; Machinery: Operate - secret roll)

"Freya, I'll monitor the power drain and let you know if it gets critical." says Marcus.

"Unnecessary. The energy exchange will take place instantaneously. By the time you'd figure out there was a problem I'd already be long gone."

"Oh." Marcus nods politely but stares in disbelief at the Yazirian's detached manner.

Freya tethers himself with non-conducting hosing and turns to Mrylinax. "Use this to retrieve my body in case it can help you understand the energy source if this effort fails. I would urge you two to stand in the next compartment, just in case."

Marcus and Mrylinax shuffle back to the access hallway and wait. Marcus begins to look more and more apprehensive about this plan. "Waitasec, this is going too fast. Let's reconsider..."

ZAM!!!!

All of a sudden there is a flash of blinding light and the overwhelming clap of thunder in their headsets. The two find themselves lying on the floor of the ship, reeling from the sudden explosion of energy. Mrylinax notices his hair sticking straight up from the latent static electricity in the area.

"FREYA! FREYA! DAMMIT, ARE YOU THERE?" Marcus yells into his mic.

(Discharge vs. guass screen - secret roll)

As if from the center of a hurricane, Freya's voice reaches out dimly. "Affirmative. I...I am alive and well. The gauss screen managed to protect me from the brunt of the blast but..."

Marcus and Mrylinax rush into the life support room to find Freya lying on the floor motionless.

"What's wrong?"

"I seem to be ...paralyzed...."


Vercingetorix Computer Berth - Two Hours Later

Cymon emerges from his medical lab to find Marcus waiting for him, sitting next to V'Sndyk who is holding his regular vigil at OTTO's controls. Marcus' eyes come up from his cup of coffee to seek out an answer in Cymon's eyes.

"Well?"

"Freya refuses to let me examine him."

"He WHAT!?"

Cymon urges Marcus to quiet his voice. "Normally I would ignore such entreaties as a patient's lack of information or hysteria. In this case, however, I sense there is an agenda. As he is our 'guest' I must honor his wishes. He has, in fact, demonstrated a gradual recovery of motor functions. My rudimentary tests show no effects on his speech or thought processes and he assures me he can recover the rest in time."

"This is crazy! If you'd seen the burst of energy that came through that door.... the walls were blackened in there!!!"

Cymon moves Marcus away from the lab and brings his voice to a whisper. "I understand, but this is not the first time we have witnessed our companion defying serious injury. I speak of the incident on Charon Tavis when the worker pod ruptured the hull and sent him flying into the vacuum of space. Without seeing under his bandages I can't make claims about his injuries, but his overall aspect was far better than should be expected."

Marcus' eyes are trained past Cymon's shoulder on the door to the lab. "Geez. Nothing at all is simple on this insane mission, is it?

"It would seem not. Whether it is the religious aspects of the moon or the layers of deception surrounding the politics of the area, normalcy has taken a distant back seat to discovery here. What of our departure?"

"Groo and Ty are finished helping Mrylinax unload the gear we found in the Lacien's engineering room. Seems their engineer had rigged up a booby-trap just as I suspected. Can't figure out why, unless they wanted to take out whoever shot them up to begin with in case they found the ship. There was nothing important inside the room except the reserve fuel cells - three atomic fuel pellets. Ty and Groo had them moved to our ship, along with the three assault rockets we found in the launch tubes. We had a little trouble with the transfers, but everything's working now."

(Ty - Nuclear Engineering: level 1 = 41%; rolled 74)
(Groo - Nuclear Engineering level 1 = 41%; rolled 10)
(Mrylinax - Missile Weapons skill - level 1 = 41%; rolled 64)
(Groo - Gunnery skill - level 4 = 53%; rolled 09)

"The only thing salvageable in engineering was the field generator that served as the trap. Freya insisted on having it moved to the Vercingetorix, so we did just that. He seems to think we can learn something from it."

Groo appears in the doorway of the ship's lounge. "Cymon, I got everyone rounded up for the meeting."

Cymon and Marcus move to the lounge. Around the table sit the battered members of the crew. A monitor set in the lounge door's c.a.s. panel transmits a grainy image of Freya in the infirmary. Cymon nods to Marcus, who stands and begins.

(Marcus Geology level 2 + 2 CS = 53%; rolled 06)

"Okay, fellas, we haven't got much time but we need to put our heads together for our next move. We're here at last and ready to do our job, whatever that is now. Even as we speak, Gardus and his men are engaging the ships outbound from Histran. From our tactical assessment, this gives us a brief window of opportunity to make a move without attracting too much attention. Before we discuss it, we have some new information." Marcus holds up a datapad.

"Hullbot Beta proved to be very thorough in its sampling of the hull's surface. What it turned up was a trace amount of viable soil that, if the effects of space travel are accounted for, could feasibly match moon G's soil. A review of the survey information on moon 'G' leads me to think this came from a mountainous region."

Ty speaks up. "So you think the Lacien put down on the moon and high-tailed it outa there when she ran into trouble? Why the mountainous regions?"

"We dont' know, but if they found a reason to go there then maybe we can find some answers. It's a good place to start. Cymon has more on the condition of the moon."

The Yazirian stands, hands folded humbly in front of him. His voice is a whisper. "My analysis of the flora-fauna profile of moon 'G' found onboard the Lacien has turned up some alarming patterns. When a genotype cross-reference was done on the reproductive sites of DNA from every living thing in the sample a discrepancy was found between the DNA sequencing of the organisms and the normal sequencing observed in ninety-nine percent of Frontier life-forms."

Ruby seems unsettled by the implications. "What're you saying, doc? Is the virus down there mutating the native life?"

"The patterns are much too sophisticated and wide-spread to be the product of singular mutative events. The pattern suggests a long-term development in the native life. What appeared were redundancies in a number of sequence elements, back-up copies if you will, that were slightly different from the originals. Nothing in the genetic journals can explain such a manifestation on one world across every species."

"Are we facing another ecological risk on top of the virus? Are they related?" Mrylinax asks from the back of the room.

"My work is inconclusive, but it seems the genotype phenomena is harmless and in no way related to the virus. I mention it only as an obligation as crew life-sciences specialist. It bears further study, but whether we have that time is questionable."

V'Sndyk raises a hand. "What about the crew of the Lacien? Have you learned anything from them?"

"All signs point to severe battle trauma and decompression as causes of death. No traces of the virus were found in any of the crew found onboard. However, Novus Tolemny - male Ifshnit - Surface Reconaissance and Krado Phaphyrd - male Yazirian - Security Escort are still missing."

Cymon looks around and sees Ruby looking eager to speak. "Ruby, do you have anything to add?"

Ruby sits up and produces ids own datapad. "Ahem. I've been listening to the in-system radio chatter for the last couple of hours. Traffic has been typical for a system with colony- to-moderately-populated worlds. No news feeds reporting our whereabouts, no corporate communicades of any high-level priority. Emergency bands have been packed, though. It seems they've ordered a complete evacuation of the moon and Starlaw is ordered to blockade any inter-system traffic. Histran and Hakosoar are in serious lockdown mode. The virus has them plenty scared."

"Also, I've been monitoring the moon's surface and those cryptic signals being sent into space. OTTO can't find a meaningful pattern to the noise, so decryption is at a stand-still. Can't trace them, either. The signal is very powerful, but does not reach subspace speeds. If it's a message to anyone, then its in-system. That's it."

"Thank you, Ruby," Marcus says as id sits down.

Groo stands up. "Ok, the Crimson Pirates are giving us a one time opportunity to get in to the system with out opposition. The question is how are we going to accomplish this? We definitely need to get to the surface of moon 'G', but do we have time to stop off at Osiris? I suppose we could head for Osiris and see if there remains any vessels guarding it. If there is not and we have time, depending on the length of time it will take the task force closing in on the Crimson Pirates to return to Osiris or moon 'G', we board Osiris, collect information quickly and get out and on our way to moon 'G'."

"OTTO, what is the crew compliment of the Osiris station?"

OTTO's voice emanates from the wall c.a.s. panel speaker. "Osiris is listed as a research observatory. Its interior is dominated by computers and research equipment. Rooms onboard can house up to ten people at maximum. Only four scientists are listed as manning the station before the communications blackout:

Deirdre Giancorsa - human, female, astronomer
Jox Bisshup - yazirian, male, engineer
Jek Dullas - human, male, geophysicist
K'Lex Triknisx - vrusk, female, computer specialist"

"Thank you, OTTO", Groo says. "We also need to decide on a landing site on moon 'G'. One where we can conceal the ship, and possibly get some local help." Groo mashes a button on the lounge table's edge that calls up a three-dimensional holographic image of the moon 'G' map. Everyone gathers in close. Marcus stands and indicates the mountain range.

"I still prefer the near the Quatros village (marked 'f' on the new map) just Southeast of Archaeological site 3. That gives us plenty of room to breathe, and it also puts us near two areas of immediate interest: the Quatros and that archaeological site. We are about a 1,000 km away from Calas, however, but landing any closer would be to invite detection."

Ty stares at the display of the map hanging in the air and points elsewhere along the mountain range. "That location looks good. I would, however, suggest that we use the passage between the mountains where it is just hilly and check out the Quatros village (site 'g') just east of archaeological site 3 before checking out the archaeological site itself."

Groo joins them, himself pointing to the western end of the mountains. "My position still stands, I believe that landing on the far side of the mountains will give us the best chance of concealing the ship. We could come in along the southwest side of the mountains and remain in flight below the level of the mountains and land to the east of the village ('f') on the south side of the mountain range just short of the mountain pass."

Cymon stands and interrupts the discussion. "The pirates are a necessary diversion. We must exploit it and head for the Osiris. Apt that is is named for a Lord of the Dead. The ReBorn King ruling the underworld."

The savor with which Cymon speaks is chilling. Throughout the string of crises this adventure had exposed them to, his colleagues had never heard the healer cum hero speak with such cold tones. The Crimson Pirates were seemingly now only a convenience to him; the lives of those worthy allies meant only an opportunity to exploit.

Something, then, softens. What battle rages in the empty space some thousands of kilometers hence was reflected in his soul. He was, after all, home again.

Cymon continues: "This one is familiar with Scree Fron and its resources, Mr. Karchudka. And knows something of the compliment of militia we may face. What corporate vessels exist, Azram knows. OTTO and Ruby will have to keep monitoring the radio chatter. But as to this system's sensor capabilities, this is the home of the UPF's listening outpost for the entire Mechan system, the Lesser Morass, and this sector of the Vast Expanse. Doubtless it is equipped with the most sensitive detection arrays available. Our current location in Gomra's Eye is safe, but a difficult place from which to operate. Our best bet is to keep moving."

A detached voice speaks from the door c.a.s. panel's vidscreen, "Boarding the Osiris research station at this time may prove useful. Several factors should be considered: Our approach might draw some heat off the pirate fleet, if the pirates lose this battle, we may not have another chance to visit the station, the station may have electronic records that our "code-slicers" could tap, the station would be a likely HQ for whoever is running the show in this system, and the station may stock fuel for our void drive."

The group falls silent. Cymon scans each person for signs of an alternative plan, but nothing is offered to the contrary. "To Osiris, then," he says.

Marcus rises to go. "Okay, I want everyone planning to board Osiris to prep for possible resistance. Mrylinax, you'll have point position - I want you armed to the teeth."

Mrylinax grins. "You got it!"

"V'Sndyk, I want you loaded out with a full complement of scanning equipment. Be ready to do some fast hacking once we get near a terminal."


Dark Side of Moon 'G' - Approaching Osiris Station - thirty minutes later

The bright brown plains of the desert planet below seem to burn with heat even in the darkness. The crew stares in disbelief at the site of their long-sought quest. Cymon feels a stirring as he regards the distant moon of his childhood. The moons of Scree Fron were popular elements in children's stories. Moon 'G', with its harsh climate, was always depicted as a grim and foreboding old man.

"I am back, Old One. Have pity on this humble one and his fellow travellers." he intones out of age-old respect for the traditions of his home.

On the bridge, Ty and Groo concentrate on the effort of bringing the ship out of a steep dive out of Gomra's Eye, far above the system's planar region, and into a controlled approach vector that eases into moon 'G's gravitational pull. The move isn't hard unless you're trying desperately to evade any standard in-system sensor sweeps. At that speed it's a tricky maneuver.

Groo, newly trained on the teaching helm to fly class one starships, decides to try out his new skill. "Hey, Ty, why not let me take the stick for a while? I've gotten pretty good in the simulator."

Ty casts Groo a sidelong look similar to that of a mother asked to hand over a new baby. After a second he grins. "Sure, Groo. Let's see what you've got. Just don't park this tub in the side of a planet, okay?"

Groo jumps on the backup panel in front of him just as Ty transfers control. With visible relish he scans the approach windows and adjusts for the hairy downward spiral to come. <:P> "Now watch your trim, pal. Pulling an inverted dive like this into the orbital plane of a star system..."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah..." Groo smiles and eases the assault scout's directional jets into a coordinated pattern designed to take the dive at top speed. The distant target point of moon 'G', from here a bright speck, suddenly becomes the nexus of fast-moving vectral lines on the nav. computer.

(Groo - Starship Pilot 1 level 2: 45%; rolled 32)

The starfield outside the main viewer spins and tumbles until everyone watching the action is convinced the ship is spiraling to her doom. Groo grits his teeth and maintains a firm hand on the planar controls. His eyes keep darting from screen to screen. Before long the speck of moon 'G' has grown to fill the main viewer. Windows appear superimposed on the screen to signal the go-ahead to begin orbital insertion.

Ty slaps Groo hard on the back. "HA HA HA! I knew you could do it, buddy! Wow, nice flying! No one in-system could've seen us coming in like that!"

Groo blinks and smiles. "Whew! Uh,...nothing to it."

Ty flips the intercom switch. "Osiris Station ETA five minutes." The pinging sound of the ship's proximity beacon ring in everyone's ears as the station draws nearer. Mrylinax stands ready with Marcus at the front of the bridge. Both are sealed in pressure suits and bristling with weapons. V'Sndyk fidgets nervously behind them, also in a pressure suit and trying to look natural carrying a techkit, robcomkit, and aomputer-access computer. Ruby listens intently to the comm. board for any signs of their detection and for reports of the battle of the pirates.

Cymon can feel himself tense up as the docking approaches. It nearly makes him jump to hear the door suddenly open and see Freya walk in, seemingly normal for all intents and purposes.

"Freya! Are you alright?" Cymon resists the urge to brandish his medical c.a.s.

"I seem to be normal once again, but a little stiff" the dark figure intones lazily. Then, as if remembering his manners, he says "thank you, Cymon."

"...three, two, and...."

Thump! Clang, clang, clang! Click!

"One!" cries Ty from his seat, seemingly never tired of being impressed with himself. "Welcome aboard Osiris Station, exciting stop for adventure and romance. Stop by the gift shop and get yourself a postcard progit right away: 'The weather's here - wish you were pleasant!'"

Marcus shoots the jovial pilot a withering glance before turning to the others. "Okay, crew. We're finally here. Objective one in a long list of objectives. No telling what we'll be facing inside the station, so stay sharp and be ready to evac at a moment's notice."

Marcus flips the visor plate of his helmet down into place and turns to the airlock. The light on the c.a.s. panel goes green, signalling a breathable atmosphere. Gingerly they step into the airlock and peer through the portal . A dim bluish light meets them from the other side.

Mrylinax snorts. "Looks like nobody's home."


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