On to Rciba
Kovak plotted a course to Rciba by way of two dark points, Myaril and Verity. There was nothing at the first dark point. At the second dark point there was a small freighter carrying medical equipment. They exchange mail and news, but the freighter had little to report of relevance.
The backup pilot tried something fancy on the jump to Myaril that landed them far from the next jump point. There was a Garlan colony on Myaril-5, a frozen world outside the life zone where mining was the primary activity. Having jumped outside their intended destination, they came upon three ships battling the system defence force.
One of the attackers hit the system defense cutter hard. Grrr fired and disabled its engines. One of the ships attempted to shoot at the cutter but hit the planet instead. The other ship exchanged fire with the cutter ineffectively. Alex pursued the fleeing ship and Grrr disabled it. The cutter then destroyed the third attacker.
Grrr and Kovak led security personnel to the disabled ship. The pirates were a motley crew of a variety of species. Grrr interrogated the officers and learned of protein that was valuable for a variety of things. He also learned the name of the primary fence, and Antar on Rciba. However, they were primarily shaking down passing freighters.
The Alex Murphy towed the cutter back to the main system starbase for repairs. Bletherin was given a bottle of some spirit in gratitude.
Jump to Verity
The next jump destination was inhabited by a more primitive species that was beginning to experiment with steam. The native species were somewhere between plant and animal. They were large and bipedal and green as that was the color of the primary star. The inhabited planet was the innermost one, but there was a monitoring station in system keeping track on the indigenous species’ progress.
Kovak jumped the ship into the system and the Alex Murphy was immediately hailed by the station with a serious problem: someone damaged the station’s cutter and then landed on the planet. The ship landed in the middle of an agricultural area, neither highly populated nor wilderness. Grrr flirted with the head scientist.
Bletherin, Grrr, and Kovak led a security detail to recover the alien ship and its crew before there was too much external interference on the natives. They took the large shuttle and flew to the site of the ship. They landed without being fired upon. Grrr led the troops to storm the ship and were met by hostile crewmen.
Two of the troopers were incapacitated before Grrr and the others overcame the resistance. One of the pilots was still on board and surrendered immediately. Under interrogation, the pilot said that the other crew were “collecting,” but would not say what.
Suddenly, a local with a primitive shotgun appeared, attracted by the noise. Alex fired a weapon on stun, but missed. The local started ranting in an unknown language. Alex fired again and stunned him. His mount was also nearby, so Alex tied it to a tree and left the local nearby.
Alex scanned the captured ship’s database and discovered that it was trafficking in slaves. He breached its security and transmitted the crew manifest to the away team. There was an Antar, two Harth, and four humans unaccounted for. He scanned the region for warm blooded creatures on the planet. He found them clustered together by the nearest town.
Kovak and Bletherin took control of the captured ship’s doors and compartments. The personal possessions of the crew indicated that they were doing pretty well in their illicit activities. There was even a Picasso, or a very good copy, in the captain’s cabin. There were no “passengers” on board.
Alex moved the shuttle back to the Alex Murphy with the injured so as to not alert the invaders when they returned. Another shuttle returned to the planet with more security officers.
Grrr and the red shirts went to collect the aliens. Alex landed the shuttle reasonably close to their preys’ location. They snuck up on the targets and discovered that they had some indigenous hostages. The perpetrators has something unusual over their faces. Grrr fired his stunner and knocked down a target as well as his hostage. The security detail engaged in a firefight with the hostiles.
Grrr stunned another opponent. One of the remaining four ran toward the captured ship full tilt. The other three stopped extracting samples from an unconscious hostage and drew weapons. They hit another security officer.
Grrr attempted to shoot one using its hostage as a shield but missed. The firefight continued. The hostage who was being sampled from revived and attempted to attack its captor without success.
Grrr fired again, but only stunned the hostage. The perpetrator attempted to throw the hostage and landed on his face instead. The last target ran toward the ship.
As Grrr and the security detail approached to subdue the prisoners, Grrr was overcome by indigenous species’ pheromones and became disoriented. The security officers confiscated the prisoners’ masks. Alex brought the shuttle in and all of the off-worlders and their gear were removed before the stunned hostages revived.
The invaders’ ship was given to the research station, and the ill-gotten gains of its crew were impounded for return to their rightful owners. Neither of their pilots had seen Nessie.
Investigating the Mercenaries
The final jump to Rciba was uneventful. Grrr had recovered by the time they arrived. The crew was immediately called to CEP headquarters for debriefing.
Bletherin updated command on the Prime Directive extremists and their well-funded movement. Their motive seemed to be political in nature bent on destabilizing the Lutrean evacuation. He mentioned the mercenary company that had been hired that was based in Rciba, as well as the purchase of the racing vessels used in the initial attack that were purchased by a Rciban firm.
They were instructed to continue their investigation and continued to the mercenary company’s station in orbit around another planet in system. There were two ships present, one of which was under repair. The other ship a specialist “security” ship and slightly larger than the Alex Murphy.
Bletherin directed the Alex Murphy into planetary orbit as close to the station as possible without being blatant, and then they took a shuttle to the station. They were immediately greeted and granted docking privileges. Alex started downloading their databases on final approach. The mercenary system was well segmented and everything was encoded with no evident key located in the system. However, Alex already had the code name for the mission to Lutrea.
Upon entry, Bletherin , Grrr, Alex and a security detail served their warrant. Grrr ordered the crew to assemble in their mess hall. Alex scanned the databases while Grrr located hidden weapon caches. Bletherin found out someone to turn. He asked who the client for the Lutrean job was. All they knew of was a yacht registered out of New Florida that their client came to the station on: the Void Sailor.
The security footage showed a female human boarding the station to attend the meeting. Grrr noted that it was a certain Avalonion, the Pirate Queen who had been involved with House Horusca.
Alex searched all his sources for where the Pirate Queen had been prior to arrival and after departure from the station. Grrr interrogated the personnel for the key to their code names. He was told that there was no documented keys; they were in the staff’s heads.
The staff were then “encouraged” to provide the keys that they knew. There were eight projects in progress: most were legal, one was locally illegal, and one was illegal in the Collective.
Bletherin found the orders for the ship at Lutrea, which were to reduce the number of evacuees as much as possible. There was a plan to send the ship in dry dock to Lutrea. They also had preliminary discussions on how to deal with G’frar ships.
There were a handful of off-the-books jobs. One was smuggling of people off of New Canaan. Whether voluntarily or involuntarily was not known, though the Avalonians were threatening intervention. Another was selling arms to both sides of some local conflict.
The Racing Ship Purchase
While in the Rciba system, the crew went to the main commercial station to investigate the company that purchased the ships used to attack the G’frar ship assisting with the evacuation.
Bletherin , Grrr, Alex and a security detail served their warrant to the Antar receptionist. There was apprehension until Bletherin stated that they were looking for the purchaser of a large number of ships all at once.
A sales person was summoned to assist them. The rep remembered the sale, which was made to someone claiming to be from the other side of the galaxy. The ships were put on a big bulk freighter than appeared to jump toward the designated destination.
The surveillance footage indicated that buyer was a human male, and he had Avalonian features, but he was not one of those who were captured. The signed contract contained his biometrics, so an all points bulletin was sent to detail the individual. Alex ran the information, but could not locate him.