Awaiting review by staff
Narrator»> All of us recieved an offer for a mission, fairly decent pay and passage to New Philadelphia. The mission is legal, but sensitive so no details could be discussed. We were to meet our employer here in the New Philadelphia Central Park. He was to be wearing red. The job comes with free round trip passage. We've all been contacted and offered some decent pay and a round trip from wherever we were. We are to meet here in the park, except for Bella who met the boss earlier. He's kind of old and felt he should have an enforcer just in case. You see an old owl recom guided along by Bella.
Sandhia is just milling around with the rest of her crew in her work coverall when the owl and snow kitty arrive.
Bella glides along quietly, listening to the old owl talk. He secures himself to the 'jungle gym' and reads his paper. Bella has a large folder with her with lots of pretty picture. She looks around slowly and spots Sandhia first. She compares the picture to the arab horsie. She kicks off toward her, casually moves up to her, and whispers in her ear, 'Sandia? Go to the railing and wait for further instructions' She sounds crisp and matter-of-fact; question is, how did some snow kitty know her by name?
Sandhia says, “Yes, that's me.” Sandhia nods and wanders over to the fountain.
White Ears moves past the jungle gym, apparently in the wrong clothing for the job, but he decided to go really light for this work apparently, that and it can be rectified easily enough. He spots the brief meeting between an irbis and a mare… but merely ignores it while looking around for someone he was meant to meet.
Bella then leans against the structure, looking for who else is supposed to be here. She spys Jace (ooo goody, the kitty from the bar), walks over to him, and offers him an electronic cigarette with a cheeky smile. She tells him to go wait by the handrail for further instructions. Bella lastly compares the wolf moving by the jungle gym to her profile picture of him. He's dressed funny but it's him. She slides over to him and stops in his way on purpose. She murmurs to him with a soft lisp, 'Go to the railing and wait further instructions, White Ears.' After her brief orders, she lies against the wall near the handrail and nods to the old owl sitting in the lattice.
Jace just kind of lingers, clad in his flight suit but he has it unfastened down the front exposing his undershirt. He has a white helmet with shocking silver thunderbolts across the top under one arm as he smokes the cigarette and hangs on a random part of the rail. He angles his eyes toward the familiar feline recom and the owl man… Apparently the employer. Right now he just watches, puffing on his smoke and swishing his spotted tail.
White Ears looks to the irbis as she stands in his way, then is whispered to, making his way to the rail with the other two.
Sandhia looks at all the various handrail loiterers and wonders if they are here for the same reason she is.
Bella glides along the railing with a cold smile and speaks to the three of you, 'Follow me, keep your hands where I can see them, and don't do anything stupid.' She sounds very serious, see the serious face. She then leads you to the lattice and leans to the owl, who pats her ears and puts away his paper to look at the group gathered before him.
The owl clears his throat. “Good afternoon everyone. You're here because I offered you decent money to be here, and because this is not a job I can trust to locals. Each of you has certain skills necessary to the job.
Jace swaggers a little as he saunters toward the jungle gym, but he remains holding on with one hand, flicking his eyes between those assembled and listening to the instructions.
White Ears follows and keeps his hands in sight, not difficult to do really, but keeps silent, following, listening.
Bella eyeballs the horsey, the cat and the wolf. She doesn't seem nervous just tense. What's more unnerving is, she seems unarmed. But things are rarely what they seem.
The owl continues… “This mission is dangerous. Otherwise I would not be offering you such decent pay. In addition, there is a bonus if I come out alive and everyone does her or his jobs. You can take your bonus in cash or salvage, doesn't matter. This is going to be a salvage job, and it's dangerous. We have limited time, and if we don't keep to the schedule, we die. Now, you can ask questions, but I'm not going to be giving you specific answers till you are definitely in, so let me know that first and we can send anyone who's not in away.
“Why me?” Sandhia asks.
The owl says, “You're all here because you have skills essential to the job, of course.”
White Ears turns his head to the mare, giving her an odd look, shrugs. “I'm highly risk adverse, but for this. I guess I'm in.”
The owl says, “You have all done work on old dilapidated equipment. That's a job qualification, but what I need to know is if you're willing to take the risk.
“Ya forgot ta send me the specs on 'er hull an' engines, mate. Ya wanna tight scheduled flight, an' not givin' me them specifics then yer gunna have t'just trust me once I'm behind the stick. Ya willin' fer that, aya?” The leopard recom draws from his cigarette and exhales before returning his attention, sometimes glancing toward the other cat.
The owl says, “This mission can't be done any other way. You were chosen because you're a good pilot, and this mission takes a good pilot, one who can think well in all five dimensions - time and every direction. And one who can fly by the seat of his pants and handle the small stuff as long as the big picture is taken care of. And one who can fly by the seat of his pants and handle the small stuff as long as the big picture is taken care of.”
Sandhia says, “How big is the bonus?”
Bella narrows her eyes at the leopard. She seems amused and cocks her eyebrow at him. She then slowly scans the wolf, wondering why he's in if he's such a chicken, last she scans the horse who seems a little nervous. She mutters under her breath, 'This should be fun.'
The owl says, “Bonus is double the mission pay if you all do well. If you all do crappy, we'll all be dead and you won't need the pay.”
Sandhia says, “Oh, and we can take the bonus in salvage too? Will we get a good value?”
The owl says, “Yes, an excellent value, since it's all outdated gear anyways.”
Sandhia says, “Okay I'm in.”
“Can't be any worse than gettin' my head blown up,” Jace says with a cryptic tone, finally putting out the cigarette and stuffing it into a pocket as he exhales the last fumes from his nose. He returns the glances of Bella sometimes, his expression oddly neutral compared to his usual self. Game-face time.
White Ears nods, keeping quiet, “I'm in.”
The owl says, “Is everyone in then?”
Bella smiles at the old owl and sums it up neatly, 'Three for three.'
The owl says, “Okay, the mission starts tomorrow at 8. Be prepared to spend a few days in cramped quarters.
Jace grunt somewhat, “Ya can keep yer bonus. Just pay me my wages an' gimme a good reference for a bonus instead.” He twirls the brightly colored helmet on a single finger a few times. “When do I get ta see the ship, mate?”
The owl says, “Be sure and bring your tools. You'll be repairing some vintage stuff, but we'll also have some modern robots and things along to help.”
The owl says, “All right, if that's what you want. If you pull this off, I'll be sure you get the glory. Especially if you don't mind a few press interviews.”
Bella smirks quietly.
The owl says, “Be at docking bay 14 at the New Philly space port tommorrow, 8Am, and we will start.”
Jace reminds the owl employer, “I wanna see the ship first, mate. At least one hour before we's takin' off. Wanna run diagnostics on 'er so I know what she can do. We gunna be flying tight on time, so I'm gunna be pushin' her to her limits.”
The owl hands out about a quarter of your mission salary in cash. “Here's an advance. If you need more tools, buy 'em. New Philly has the best.”
White Ears takes it, nodding, “Will do sir.”
Later, the boss will tell Bella that there is a small possibility of unwanted guests at the mission sight, people that might not care that we arrive first and steak a salvage claim. People that might not mind leaving a few corpses to get what they want. She tells the old man she'll bring them back alive.
8 AM rolls around and you see Sandhia at the docking bay door with a bunch of crates of tools and parts on a trolley.
The owl arrives. “Where's the pilot?”
White Ears wears something a little more fitting as clothing, carrying a two bags of tools and spare parts which he thinks will be needed on this mission.
Bella doesn't seem the morning person, and sulks behind the old owl and looks moody as hell. She is carrying a simple shoulder bag and has daggers hidden in odd places on her person. Also strapped to her side is a rifle, though upon closer inspection is a laser guided needle point stun gun.
The owl takes out a cell and dials Jace's number. “I hope you are close enough that you can get get to docking bay 14 within five minutes; we're on a tight schedule.
Jace actually isn't so proactive, instead drifts into Docking Bay 14 about a minute before his phone rings. He doesn't answer, just hits the off button and turns his eyes to the various hired crew members. ”…Hiya!” He greets cheerily, despite his irritation, but he suppresses it for the moment.
“This way,” the owl says. He takes everyone to docking bay 17 and ushers them onto a utility shuttle.
White Ears follows along, pulling his items along with him.
Bella bored after the owl and looks very very grumpy still. She barely looks awake actually.
[Narrator] After loading your gear the shuttle takes you to a cargo ship, it's big just like Jace suspected, but it already has a crew. It takes you out into the asteroid belt. About an hour before the owl has asked the rest of you to be ready, he takes Jace to the helm of a ship in the cargo bay- only it's not really a ship exactly. It's a space tug and essentially a train of containers. He lets Jace get set up. Jace notices the tug is fairly heavily armed and shielded. – it's been modified. The rest of you show up at the appointed time.
White Ears meeps, silent for now after getting strapped in, but just looks around.
The owl says, “About fifty years ago a ship, The Adrian Martin, took a shortcut through a tight field of asteroids. From earth, this field probably looks like a single asteroid, but it is actually composed of a multitude of smaller asteroids. It was loaded with high grade iridium. For the last five decades, it has been trapped in multiple overlapping orbits of fields of asteroids. You may have all got the impression that I'm an old secret agent or something, but I am actually a mathematician. For the last twenty years, I have been working on a way in and out. All of the larger bodies and fields are accounted for. The smaller ones, well that's what the guns are for. We may loose some containers, but they're all bound together with multiple cables. We will simply jettison the ones that don't make it.”
Jace makes himself cozy in the captain's seat behind the flight yoke. It definitely wasn't what he expected. A cargo train? He hrms to himself, none the less he preps his own personal gear and synchs it with the ship's computers. His helmet fits around his head perfectly - a custom design - and the near-black visor slides over his feline face and muzzle. He taps a button on the side, engaging the PA speakers within the vessel. “This is yer Cap'n speakin'. Name's Jace. Strap yerselves in within the next thirty seconds. We'll be makin' a hot launch. Short schedule. Please be observin' the “sit yer ass down” lights until we is under two G propulsion. If ya gatta puke… Well… Just don't. Thanks!” A loud chime is heard as it cuts off, and the distinct sounds within the rumbling hull of the ship can be heard as it powers up.
The owl says, “Once we dock with the Adrian Martin we have only a few days to load as much high grade iridium as we can, and take whatever else seems of value from the ship. Then we will make our exit.”
White Ears nods. “Fair enough.” He leans back.
The owl says, “The course will show on your navigation computer, do not deviate from it more than a few hundred meters in order to dodge the smaller asteroids or shoot them.
Jace naturally waits for the boss to finish what he's saying. He's listening, but meanwhile he's prepping for the launch in the big black yonder. “Small asteroids ain't nothin'. Get Bella on them guns, boss.”
The owl says, “One final thing. There are two possible solutions to this puzzle. I took the earlier one, but the route is a little longer. We have radio equipment that will penetrate the field and the ship that brought us will repeat the signal to get our salvage claim out nice and legal. If anyone comes through the second window, they'll be out of luck, unless they are pirates, and then we could have some extra trouble.”
Bella grunts mildly amused at the announcement and seems even more curious about the mission. She is strapped in and looks more awake now, only mildly so. She gives the thumbs up from behind the gun controls and promises, 'I promise to not shoot anyone that's not a rock or pirate.'
The owl says, “The third window opens a few days later, and if we miss it, we have a five year wait until the next one.”
Jace has ship's data scrolling over his helmet's HUD all the while, reading it and processing it mentally. The fingers of one hand are fluttering over the keys of a control panel next to his seat as he listens, plugging in the data and the overlays of the area snap to the HUD within his personal view. “Hmmm…”
The owl says, “The first part of the mission while we go through the fringe should be easy warm-up. The rest not so easy. Preserving the integrity of the tug is job one. Saving as many cargo containers as possible is second priority.
[Narrator] Jace notices as they follow the course, that this guy must really be a mathematician, because as long as he sticks with the time and location data, he always misses the big grisly asteroids. If he gets out of synch at all, things would get way too interesting.
White Ears nods slowly “Sure.. can do that.”
Jace finally snaps his visor up and blinks his eyes twice, rubbing them with his fingers, and puts the ship on manual controls. One hand settles on the throttle stick and slowly pushes it foreward. “Goin' manual override. Bella, keep sweepin' them 'roids offa us.” He grasps the yoke with both hands now, quickly getting a feel for the slithering train of containers he's pulling with the ship, turning and twisting the ship around the large space rocks easily.
Sandhia sits strapped into her chair, hour after tedious hour watching the proximity weapons that are manned by robotic brains. They basically attempt to protect things farther back once you've blazed the rough part of the course. Sandhia says, “Oooh, I'd have white knuckles if they weren't furry,” Sandhia says as she watches the displays and Jace's ace piloting as things get more difficult by the moment. The little stuff turns out to be, well, only little compared to the big stuff.
White Ears watches the display, seeing the plotted course. “No kidding.. although.. they're already white.. furred..” He cracks that before holding onto the chair.
[Narrator] It takes quite a while and the train gets hit a few times, but eventually you make it through into a sort of null zone near a large asteroid – There you see the Adrian Martin - It's got a few holes in it, but it looks to be in pretty good shape, considering. More specifically, a couple of large asteroids, one with a sort of hollow in it which is where the Adrian Martin is parked. The two large ones orbit one another and shield the Adrian Martin rather well as long as it stays put.
The owl says, “White Ears, if you can deploy our communications dish, we should be able to send our salvage claim as soon as we dock!” The owl is actually birdishly smiling for the first time in the whole mission.
White Ears nods as he unlatches from his seat, moving over to where the console is for the dish, then starts to key in commands to deploy the dish, then starts to transmit the salvage claim over the ship.
Jace coaxes and guides the vessel through the perilous asteroid gatherings, breathing slowly and calmly as his free eyes search out the routes through the seeming impossible mess of rocks. The ship and towed containers snake through almost seamlessly, save for the soft *pings* and *tangs* tiny debris deflecting off the metal surfaces of the cargo modules. Jace is already well off the plotted course; suddenly, one-handedly flying the train through space while manipulating the wide-band sensors with his free hand, popping up a new course that takes the ship right through a dozen massive asteroids on the other side of the Adrian Martin. “Okay folks, hang on…!”
White Ears nods as he had been strapped against the console, continuing to tap commands in to keep check on the subsystems.
Right between those humungous scary rocks, a gap is right there… The sensors picked it up while Jace was replotting like a proper hotshot pilot. He straightens out the train of containers with a slight jerk and throttles forward at full power to make it through just then. On the otherside they emerge at their destination, a little off from the original calculations, but at a spot easier to link up with the target. ”…Thanks for hangin' in their guys. Saw this spot at the last second. Should make it a bit easier t'be hookin' up.” He exhales as he pulls off his helmet and punches a few buttons to let the ship's computer take over the rest.
Sandhia says, “Congratulations, Jace. I had to close my eyes at a couple of points,” Sandhia says, hand to chest as if catching her breath. Sandhia says, “I hope you brought your magnetic horse shoes.”
The owl says, “Excellent work, Jace. If you can get us docked with the Adrian Martin, We can send the robots in to see how badly damaged she is. I have space suits should you wish to go in too, White Ears.
White Ears smiles to the owl. “Robots first… boss.” He side steps over to the next one, latching in quickly before he keys in again, the surveillance robots moving in around the damaged ship, sending back images of a not so damaged ship… just a few puncture holes.
Jace releases the flight yoke after thrusting to a halt directly next to the Adrian Martin. He fiddles with the series of joysticks right over the main console, engaging the fuel thrusters and pushing the tug and its containers right up next to it to allow the linking hatches to engage and the controlled robots to do their thing.
[Breach Spider Robots: These robots are hull-repair welding robots that have multiple “legs” and magnetic feet to stick to ship hulls securely. They operate equally well inside or outside a ship's hull and are used for sealing hull breaches. They come in a wide variety of sizes but are usually at least non-anthro cat sized.]
Sandhia sends the breach spider robots [ over to the bridge area [of the Adrian Martin] first even as the recon ones go out. – She lets White Ears do more surveillance and checking the ship as a whole while she directs the breach spiders to seal up the bridge and the path from the airlock to the bridge so it will hold atmosphere.
[Narrator] “White Ears finds that most of the compartments of the ship are depressurized, but that is not surprising for a cargo ship. The ship has two engines and one has a decent sized hole through it. There are about ten big holes but many of the compartments may be okay. Once you inspect the ship and take a break, Sandhia finishes with the bridge and you pump air into it from your ship.
White Ears continues to check, sending a few into the ship to search it, “Looks clear from within. One main breach at the rear with a few smaller ones on the far side.” He starts to direct some other probes to now point outwards to keep an eye on the surroundings just in case.
Sandhia says, “Okay, the Spiders have caught a few micro fractures now that we are pumping atmosphere, but they are sealing them, and there is nothing big left. We should be good to go in.”
Jace monitors the systems of the ship closely, though he does relax entirely, not even paying attention to the robot-work going on. Instead he's questioning the owl on the tonnage they'll be hauling back, so he can calibrate the engine response time to compensate.
Sandhia says, “Bridge only though, don't be opening any doors to explore :)”
White Ears nods. “Ok..” He unhooks, moving over to get himself suited up, finishing with the click of the helmet to pressurize. “Not a problem.” He makes his way to the airlock…
Sandhia stays at the robot monitoring consoles on the choo-choo ship, but you can hear her on your radio. Sandhia says, “How does it look in there?”
[Narrator] You can see a few small cracks and holes in the bridge but they have been welded up by the breach spiders. The cabin starts to hold pressure and the pressure gradually rises.
Sandhia says, “We're all set on micro fissures. Does the ship have any power or are we going to have to supply some?”
White Ears radios back. “Looks ok in here… Nothing badly damaged… A dead recom… no, just an empty suit” He hmms and starts to tap against the console. “Nothing appears to respond though. I might need to get some of the parts if we want to salvage the ship entirely. What do you think boss?”
The owl says, “We may be able to take parts of the ship, if we have time, but the entire girth will not make it without severe damage. Our first priority will be to remove the cargo and any valuables. Towards that end we need functional cargo bay doors. If the ship's reactor is still functional, we may be able to refuel it. If not we will have to run power from our ship, bay door by bay door.
“We can't be drainin' our ship like that, boss. We gatta have power t'get outta this trash pile,” Jace repositions his mic before his mouth and chimes in after listening for a minute. “Try an' kick start emergency back up power with a lil' juice from us, eh? Should be able to engage release locks on them bay doors without drainin' us.”
Sandhia says, “Can you get the bridge consoles functioning or some of them? Particularly the ones pertaining to the reactor? If we can open all of the doors without running power to most of them, it will save us time.”
White Ears radios, “Sure. I'll see what I can do.” He opens the panels under the console.. “Oh wait.. here we go.” He then fiddles with a few tools he brought up with in. “I think I got it!” He then presses a few buttons, “There is enough fuel to power the ship for a few hours. Can someone hook the power cables across?” He keys in something, a panel opening on the external. “That's the one we need.”
Sandhia says, “If you can fix the reactor, the ships retros and engine may be usable, and that may give her a fighting chance to get out at least partly intact. Otherwise she's dead weight that cannot be maneuvered.”
Jace blinks his bright orange eyes thrice as he listens to the radio. “Uhh.. I weren't hired t'kamikaze outta a 'roid belt. Tha's gunna throw out all them route calcs the boss done made. Gunna have t'get creative,” he speaks over the radio, already tapping buttons and flipping switches all over, and everyone can hear him sigh loudly.
White Ears ponders. “Try and transfer a little bit of power over. 2MWh if you can afford it. The engineering console reads that it needs that much to start up the reactor.”
Sandhia says, “Give us reactors and an engine, and we may be able to remove the Adrian Martin from this field, but without the ability to maneuver she is dead weight and will, in all likelihood be destroyed utterly rather than be severely damaged. Oh, the autopilot shut down the reactor? Must have been conserving fuel. I'm on getting droids to run the cable. Where do you want me to plug in?”
White Ears nods. “The panel that I opened next to the main bay doors. I have the lights on around it I think.”
Sandhia says, “Okay, on it.” A few minutes later… “Cables are online, are you ready for power? I'll run a low voltage test first…”
White Ears says, “Ok.. it looks stable.. raise it up slowly.”
Sandhia says, “Roger.”
White Ears keeps an eye on the levels. “Looks stable. The capacitors are charging.”
Sandhia says, “I've got surveillance bots looking for a good route to the reactor.”
Jace instead just relaxes on the pilots chair, his helmet off on his lap and decides to just wait instead of talking any more. He folds his hands behind his head and closes his eyes for a little while.
Sandhia says, “There is an engineering conduit that runs from the bridge back to the reactor. We may be able to pressurize it. I'm sending breach spiders into a hole a bit aft of the bridge to inspect it.”
White Ears tinkers with another panel to get that to display. “Ok. Looks good.” He then presses a few more buttons. “Okay. I'll wait.”
Sandhia says, “Boss's got shipyard schematics for the Adrian Martin - Sending them to your tablet now.”
White Ears says, “Got it!” He then looks at it through the tablet, “Tell me when you have it pressurized.”
Sandhia says, “Do you register anything on the reactor console on the bridge? Can you start her from there or does she need a little loving care before we should try it?”
[Narrator] Part of the console registers, and what it registers is a bit of age damage. Probably best for you to tweak a few things before starting it.
White Ears hmms. “Let me head down there”
Jace catches a little catnap while it's all going on, resting his mind for the most part, though he's still half awake and triangular shaped ears twitching now and then at the distant noises of the radio.
Sandhia says, “Okay, I've got spiders in the conduit inspecing and I'm running an air hose from our liquid atmosphere tanks.”
[Narrator] Time passes but eventually the conduit gets sealed and pressurized, and shortly after the reactor compartment.
Sandhia says, “You're green for the conduit and the reactor compartment, White Ears.”
[Narrator] As you were working the boss sent out the salvage claim – on several vectors, and he continues to do so, checking his calculations every so often…
White Ears opens the door. “Thanks, Sandhia.” As he makes his way down, he hears creaking, normal for an aged ship before getting into the reactor room. Once in, he starts to bring up the sub systems online properly, replacing and repairing wires which seem to have needed fixing
[Narrator] A robot arrives with a few canisters, packed old style.
Sandhia says, “There's some fuel for you, White.”
White Ears yays and takes the containers, adding them to the store carefully. “Thank you” He then makes another adjustment, then pops the panel back in. “Okay.. looks good. Let's start.. it.. up!” He then flicks a switch and a rumble comes from the ship as the reactor comes online. “Good.. it's… aww drats.” Then silence.
“I've done it!” The boss cries with relief. “Our Salvage claim has been registered by the port authority of New Philly and a reply message has been received! That was too close. The second route I was talking just recently opened.”