Log:Array Consortium: Nickel, Iron, and Algal Beer
Some jobs are inherently more exciting than others. Heavily regulated arms, psychedelic spice, and illegal ship parts are just some of the goods that make for exciting tales in the smuggler bars. Today’s load, however, is fairly run-of-the-mill. But it’s for a good cause.
“You ever try algal beer?” Pash says, returning to the cockpit from the cargo hold, where barrels of the stuff were recently loaded from the Starshine Brewery on Ubrikkia. Outside the viewport is the white-light tunnel of hyperspace. “Wish I could be haulin’ something better for these guys, but it beats nothin’ at all.
As the captain straps himself back in, he checks their hrep to see the countdown to Sua’tik III nearing the zero mark. There, the two smugglers will be liberating a bunch of miners from the chokehold of prohibition. At least for a time.
Kole Veyl shakes his head at the question, "Don't think so." He sits sprawled in the cockpit, just keeping an eye on the instruments as they fly along toward their destination. He's grown relaxed on the ship now that he knows it well and has been working on it for a bit. He glances up and over at Pash as he returns. "Hey, any beer is better than no beer, sometimes." He then asks, "Is it that bad?"
Pash glances over to Kole, half his face awash in the dizzying light of hyperspace, and shrugs. "All I know if the big whigs over there took all the alcohol away and now there's a market for guys like us to slide in. Shitty thing to do people working twelve hours a day in a mine, but hey." For smugglers, every silver lining is another person's dark cloud.
And because their ships is fast - something Pash is proud to admit - it's not a moment later that a blinking light on the console alerts them that this leg of their trip is at an end. "Buckle up," Pash says, shifting himself into a position to take control.
"Why would you take all the alcohol away? Hasn't anyone ever learned that that's never a good idea? I mean, it's a good idea for us, but not a good idea for them," Kole says as he glances toward Pash and then out the windows at the lights of hyperspace, then eventually back down toward the instruments. He straightens up when that light comes on and then shifts around to strap himself in.
Pash shrugs once more. "They call it an efficiency program," he says, which brings a smirk to his otherwise stoic expression. There's a jolt just then as their after-market hyperspace engines attempt to ease the craft as well as they can out of hyperspace. The tunnel becomes a stream of long lines of light, which then become the pinpricks of distant bodies.
In front of the craft lies a massive gray planet with several smaller moons orbiting it. Off to the right, an asteroid cluster of an unknown material. "We're to meet the shuttle on the second-largest moon. I'll plot the course if you see what's out there." He moves to do just that, using the astrogation display in front of him.
"Yeah, I don't think that encouraging miners to find illegal sources for their booze is really going to improve their efficiency. Neither is pissing the off and making them miserable, but that's just the way that I look at it." Kole watches their progress and the status of the ship as they come out of hyperspace. Then he glances up to look at the planet in front of them. "Hey, it looks like a mining planet. Surprise, surprise." He then listens as Pash lays out the plan.
Checking out the planet, he scans the surface and gets a more detailed array of the minerals within the asteroid cluster, noting the nickel and iron present, and pointing out the patterns and path through the asteroid cluster toward the signals coming from one of the moons. "There appear to be some patrols coming in from that direction."
Pash seems to be a little slow-going with the astrogation, though efficient in that he’s able to isolate the moon, which lies on the other side of the planet, and detail a few possible routes. One of them is the most direct, but the others are contingency plans. “Surprises are what we’re looking for,” Pash says, snapping his fingers and gesturing to the scanning equipment. He then takes up the controls , eases the ship forward and onward toward the planet. “Shit,” he says, abandoning the easiest route now that the patrols are en route. Instead, he maneuvers them closer to the rocks. “Think we can lose them in there?” he says with a glance to Kole. “Shields up.” You can never be too careful.
Kole seems a little preoccupied with searching through the cluster, so that by the time that he hears to put the shields up, he fumbles a little with trying to get them online and manages to instead pull up the cargo bay statistics. Cursing to himself, he turns those off and reaches for the shields again, "Sorry, sorry... shit." It's clear that he had been trying to get more information on their surroundings and check for other ships, and it distracted him.
Sometimes, even the best spacers cant get the shields up. It's happened to Pash before (though try getting him to admit it) and its happening to Kole now. As the planet leaves the viewport in favor of the loose cluster of space rocks, Pash glances to his First Mate and sets his jaw. It looks like he's about to say something when a blue light to his left starts to flash along with a crackle of the comms.
"Unidentified Ghtroc, we're picking up an anomalous energy signature in your craft, and you're heading straight for the asteroids. Are you in need of assistance?"
Pash grimaces as the patrol craft commuication cuts through. Apparently they were scanned right after dropping out of hyperspace. "Let's hope I don't hit something," he grumbles before opening up the engines to full. With a jolt, the Fathier Express leaps forward to the edge of the asteroid cluster as one of the patrol craft detaches itself from the group to pursue.
Kole makes a second attempt to get the shields online. This time he gets the right button but something isn't working. He checks the diagnostics and the system readouts, "Fuck, something is drawing power away from the shields.." He keeps looking, feverishly poring over the readouts and then says, "It's the engine system. The faster we go, the more power is being drawn off them. Keep it steady. I'm going to run back and check something." And then Kole is unstrapping himself and taking off toward one of the access panels that leads to where some of the relays connect the various power conduits to the different systems within the ship. There, he tries to make the repairs while they are in flight.
Pash looks visibly aghast when he hears the news, turning to Kole as the asteroids loom very large now in front of them. “Well how the hell did that happen?” He asks both out of surprise and genuine ignorance. This is what he pays guys like Kole for. But as his first mate heads back to the engineering console, he turns to deal with what’s outside the ship.
As he does, he switches on the ship comms so that the pair can communicate with each other. “Hold on to something,” he says, voice travelling through all the nooks and crannies the ship has. Banking hard to the right, he pulls the craft tightly around one of the first incoming rocks. Behind him, the patrol craft seems to have no issue with that either as it continues to try and communicate with the Express.
”Please, pull over now. This is incredibly dangerous!”
"I don't know! It was working fine earlier," Kole can be heard shouting and then he's gone. He gets the panel open and starts rooting around in it. That's when he finds it, that one relay that had been shaken loose due to the vibrations of the ship over time. It was further back than the rest and wasn't as tight. He gets to work on the coupling and barely has time to hear Pash say to hold onto something before he suddenly is flung nearly into the hatch. He manages to catch himself before taking a smack to the noggin and then gets back to work. It takes a little while, but he finally does manage to get it repaired and then shouts back, "I think I got it." He gets the panel cover back on and then scrambles back toward the cockpit.
Around on the other side of the asteroid now, Pash punches the engines again and skirts across its surface, sending debris in his wake that lights up the patrol craft's shields. Then he pulls away to cycle around another chunk of rock, leading their pursuer into more dangerous territory. He's awarded not with a ditched tail, but with an actively powering-up shield system. "I've got an idea," he says over the comms. "Kole, head to the starboard cargo hold and unlatch some of the old ship parts in there. I'm gonna dump 'em." The ship barrel-rolls end on end around some of the smaller rocks, which are pulverized when the patrol craft opens up with its blaster cannon.
Kole Veyl is halfway back to the cockpit when he does an abrupt reversal of course and spins around, heading back toward the starboard cargo hold. He gets it open and runs inside, and begins unfastening latches around the hold, dodging some shifting parts that slide and move as the ship banks slightly. He grabs onto something as he begins to slide and then rights himself. "Whoah there..." as though the ship were a horse and Pash wasn't the one at the controls. Once he's got as much loose as he can, he runs back to the door and closes it, hitting the comms once he's outside "Dump it!"
Though the patrol craft has been keeping up pretty well at this point, it hasn't been updated in the same way the freighter has, and so the Express has managed to pull ahead a big. "Alright," Pash says, acknowledging that the job is done. "We're not out of the woods, yet. Get back up here." He grits his teeth and makes for a hard right away from the planet itself and toward a cluster of jagged rocks.
Pulling up the cargo display, Pash's finger hovers over controls. "Here we --" And then the smuggler is cut off as behind him blaster fire from the patrol craft tears off an edge off the asteroid put between them and sends it hurtling into the side of the Fathier Express. It's shields take the brunt of the impact, the ship flys end over end spinning out of control. Despite this, Pash manages to open the hatch bay, which nearly tears away from the craft, unloading a cloud of debris and expunging oxygen into the void.
"Shut everything down!" Pash shouts. "All power!"
Fortunately, Kole has no idea how the patrol ship is doing. He's so focused on running around and making sure that the shields are up and that the parts are loose and that the door is secured, and that he doesn't land on his ass that he really has no idea what's going on outside the ship. Is the patrol ship keeping up? He hears Pash come over the comm again and once more he makes his way to the cockpit. He's getting his exercise this time around.
And then they're spinning. Spinning isn't good, and he wasn't prepared for it so he naerly flies across the hall again as he makes his way to the cockpit. He manages to pull himself inside, though, and crashes into his seat where he stares at Pash for a moment, and then starts shutting down all of the power without asking questions. There will be time for asking what the plan is after he gets done executing the plan.
Pash is working on powering down systems when Kole walks into the cockpit and plants himself in the seat next to him. "Force help us," he mutters as Kole's manipulation of the controls send ths cabin into darkness. Soon, the two of them are sitting there while the world in front of them starts to spin a little more slowly. Then slower still, until eventually they're drifting in a steady rotation. Around them are chunks of rocks and ship debris, though luckily they've ended up along the edge of the cluster, opposite the ship and the other to craft. "You alright?" The man reaches out to place a hand on Kole's shoulder. "Hopefully they think we totaled ourselves and call it a day."
Kole Veyl starts to catch his breath once everything goes silent and dark and they start to drift, the spin becoming lessened, but still present. He looks out through the windows, to get a visual around them, rather than at the instruments. At the touch to his shoulder, he looks over at Pash and then laughs a little, the adrenaline that had been running through him causing him to shiver just once, and then he says, "Little bruised here and there but otherwise in one piece. That was something." He grins at Pash in the darkness. "Hope so."
Pash nods, pats Kole once on the shoulder, and then pulls back to turns and stare out the viewport. Outside, there's nothing but space and rock. "We wait a bit, then start making our way to the moon. As little power as we can, ok? I can eyeball our route." His breathing is steady, but deep as he comes down from the adrenaline rush. "We got here fast, so we may even be able to make it on time."
Kole Veyl nods his head in agreement and settles back into his seat for a moment or two, waiting for the go ahead. Only cone Pash indicates it's safe to proceed, will he begin to bring up the power, as low as possible, so that they can begin to move forward. "Whenever you're ready, you let me know. I'm a fan of on time."
Some time passes and nobody comes to check on them. Nobody they can see, anyway, so pash lifts a finger and makes a small circle in the air. Time to get going. He powers up the engines and starts to scoot along, taking the long way as he remembers it from his astrogation maps and where he believes they ended up. The air in the express is a bit cooler now, but thee two smugglers eventually make it within sight of the moon. “Keep your eyes peeled,” he tells Kole as he keys in the coordinates given to him. “We’re looking for a single shuttle."
Kole Veyl is a little too keyed up to do anything /but/ keep his eyes peeled as they make their way slowly toward the location of their rendezvous. He wouldn't notice if another patrol ship came up and booped him on the nose, so it's probably a good thing that there doesn't appear to be another one out there following them.
The moon takes up more space in front of them and it becomes clear that, wherever Pash is taking them, there’s no immediately-visible constructions along its dark, bare surface. Once he levels off above the surface, he slowly starts to bring them in line with a canyon in the distance. “Should be safe to use the scanner now,” he tells Kole, relaxing his grip on the controls.
Kole turns the scanner back on and after a moment or two, he is able to onc emore get the readouts. Eventually, he finds that little blip on the other side of the canyon and follows it. "There," he says and gestures toward it. "Looks like a single shuttle that's landed just on the other side of the canyon." He glances over to Pash and ask, "That who we're looking for?"
Pash lets out a sigh and nods, aiming for the canyon and the pickup point beyond. "Nice work back there," he says, not keeping his eye off the target. "But let's think of a way for it not to happen again." Though he talks to the stern employer talk, he still smirks, and soon the Express is landed safely alongside the shuttle.
It takes a minute for Pash to smooth over the details of their encounter with the Bothan, but the ale in the port hold gets loaded onto the shuttle as quickly as possible. As the smugglers leave the system, Pash shakes his head and says, "Well, we won't be getting hired on again by these guys, but at least we got paid. Success?"
Kole Veyl runs a hand through his hair, pushing it back from his forehead and frowning a little bit, "That coupling just got loose, way in the back, from the vibrations of the ship. I'm just going to have to try and go through all the couplings in all the panels and make sure everything is tight periodically. Get some regular inspections going on so I don't have to do it all at once and can rotate through it." He seems to be taking it pretty seriously, like it was a personal failing on his part. It's unlikely that it will happen again.
Once the deal is handled and they are on their way out, Kole sighs and says, "Yeah, I guess, sort of." He shakes his head and says again, "Sorry.. I'll figure out how to make sure that doesn't happen again." And with that, he heads off to go spend the next while neck deep in access panels, trying to make sure nothing else is going to shake loose on their way home.