An Inheritance of Stars

A security chiefs job is never done...

After finally getting the remaining survivors in lock-down and quarantine Freddy decided to check in on that mercenary delivery girl.

She seemed extremely agitated and irritated that she was being put in quarantine like the rest of the survivors even though it was equally possible she had been exposed to the viruses re-emergence like the rest of the crew. Freddy wished she had seen half the mutations that he had then she might understand why this ship was equipped with quarantine rooms like this, if anyone does go mutant and develops a hostile, insane and dangerous mutation these rooms will give us time to neutralize them before they can hurt anyone else or do any more damage to the ship.

Having been around the virus while wearing these space suits Freddy felt comfortable enough that they were not going to get infected thru them as long as they followed proper quarantine and disinfection protocols that Dr. Marwood had put into place; and so didn’t see any point to getting his crewi n these rooms as well.. plus there was still the issue of the unknown agent possibly on the ship.

Freddy connected into the minnow and began downloading all of the non personally related information on the virus, all the images and videos of the infected and the news reels from the infected station and loaded them all onto a data chip.

“Maybe this will help explain to her why we dont want anyone we can’t trust is not infected out wandering” he muttered to himself as it loaded.

Thinking she may need some additional entertainment, he loaded the Apocalypse Pony episodes onto the data chip as well.

“hopefully this will keep her entertained, and quiet, until we can be sure she is not infected and will not be.. an issue.”

Freddy considered Shas for a moment. He had originally been willing to turn the alien over, or at least space him as soon as they were off of that wretched station, but he found himself realizing he was glad they had not. he was turning out to be a useful hand in a fight, especially so as they no longer had Heinrich and his rifle watching their backs.

Mind, there have been less ninjas around since Heinrich left..

Freddy walked down to the quarantine lab to drop the chip off and see if he could get Naomi to see sense, otherwise, he might need to see that she does not make it out of quarantine.

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An ominous fortelling

Governor Nagino entered his personal office and locked the massive hardwood doors behind him. As he turned the lock he ran his fingers across the ornate carvings which graced its surface. A barely precipitable button was pressed, and the room was proof against all kinds of spying. The system was completely custom made, and in some aspects highly illegal. After it had been installed, he had personally disposed of the engineer’s body. Nobody alive knew the details of his personal security system, and Omar planned to keep it that way. Crossing the room, the Governor sat down behind a massive hardwood desk; its off world wood heavy and ornate. It’s weight and shipping cost would have been greater than the shuttle which had brought it aboard the station.

As expected, the vidscreen had two separate calls waiting. He put the first on a silent setting; able to see and hear, but mute to the conversation and then answered the second. The screen showed the expected caller; the notorious information broker known as Retread.

“Greetings Governor; It’s good to speak to my most illustrious client. It took a little bit of effort to bypass the communications block around New Haven, but I got your request for a chat, and thought I’d oblige.”

Omar smiled showing his teeth. “I’m not surprised; I had heard that conditions in the city have become quite deplorable. It’s not difficult to see that someone of your talents might be able to make a significant profit…if he could get his hands on the right supplies. Not to mention that such materials could make your own life infinity more pleasant until this situation is resolved.”

Retread’s expression didn’t change. “How can I help you Governor?”

Omar’s dark eye’s glittered. “Find my son Lars. He is on that deplorable station, and if he is alive and you bring him out safely you’ll be richly rewarded.”

“You don’t mince words, and that’s fine. I can tell you now and for free that your son is alive. As for bringing him out, if it’s possible I’ll do it. You’ll have to do something about the quarantine barrier outside though; I don’t know that I could get him to you unharmed past a warship.”

The Governor smiled that shark smile again. “He’s my son, I’ll make sure that he has safe passage. When I’ve got him, you’ll get your payment.”

“About that. If you can get one person off, you can get more. I’ll tell you what. Payment for this job will be for you to hold up your end of the job. Get us a ship with room for 100. You know very well that the plague has passed and there’s no further danger of infection. Get us a ship and safe passage out of the quarantine zone, and your son gets a guaranteed seat on the boat. Once you’ve got your boy I’ll keep the ship, and we can each be on our merry way.” Retread watched in silence as the Governor’s face twisted with rage at the terms. “Oh, and you might as well make sure that the ship is well stocked. Say 6 months of fuel and rations. That ought to cover the cost of the rescue mission.”

Omar sputtered slightly before getting his voice under control. “It looks like I have little choice in the matter. But be warned. In 10 days the system will vote on the issue of mutant non-human rights. Technically the city still has the right to vote and learn the results. The ship’s computers will automatically allow this regardless of the state of emergency…its a feature” his face twists in disgust “to prevent the _ oppression of the citizens_. Either way, the vote is likely to generate some….tension amongst the remaining populous. I’d move quickly if I we you, before things really get bad.”

As Retread nodded, the Governor cut the connection. He waited a moment before activating the waiting first caller. “Did you get that?”

The cyborg face of the criminal/mercenary Schwartz stared back, his artificial eyes unblinking. “Yes. I’ve already been in communication with an assisted of my own on the station. I believe the information broker will utilize my operative in the coming mission; he is close enough to the inner circle that he is likely also one of the 100 designated rescuees.”

“Excellent, it sounds like you’ve got this well under control. Be warned though; there is more to the time limit that I gave Retread…Indeed the vote takes place in 10 days; however regardless of the result, 10 days after, the station will suffer a critical malfunction, and will be destroyed by the cleansing fire of humanity’s purity.” Omar laughed maniacally for several moments before speaking again.

“On a related note. I have a job for someone who specializes in the mass failure of systems. Would the quarantine blockade be too large an impediment for this kind of operation?”

Schwartz paused a moment before speaking. “I’m not sure how you heard about Gemini 5, but I assure you that my presence at the facility was purely incidental. However in this particular case I believe we can fulfil the contract regardless of any blockade; 10 million credits will be placed in holding designated in an account I will send you. Once its done, my associates and I will take the money, and depart the system.”

Omar nodded. “Done.” He manipulated his accounts for a moment. “Its ready. I’ve set it up to unlock based on IGN reporting the destruction of New Haven. I hope that it’s satisfactory?”

“Yes.” The connection terminated abruptly.


From another terminal Retread watched from his supposedly cut connection. As the conversation ended he turned to a figure standing out of sight of the pick-ups. “It looks like the Governor is playing for keeps. Begin taking precautions to defend the station from sabotage, and lets see about alternate arrangements for mass evacuation…at least as mass as we can manage for more than 60 million refugees.” Retread gave his orders, and turned towards his console. He didn’t even note the departure of the other person.

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Bored? Unpossible.

Hulik grimaced as she realized just how much was in Captain Korsogan’s “secret” stash of porn files. “My sweet suffering psyche, it’s still true. If a combination can be conceived of, there’s a porno of it. Wait…is that one even possible?” Her curiosity made her open the file before her brain screamed “YOU DON”T WANT TO KNOW THIS!!" To her profound dismay, not only was it possible, but worse than she thought. The images would infest her nightmares for weeks to come. “Welp, it’s…educational, to say the least.” She copied the whole lot to her last data cards. “This should help keep Naomi at least entertained for the next two weeks,” she thought sympathetically. “Poor woman has been treated shamefully by the boys, hopefully this will help give her a better outlook.”

Her thoughts moved to poor Murphy. Granted, the guy had a serious mad on about doctors, but really, who could blame him? And after the recent experiences with their very own “doctor”, she was beginning have a certain sympathy for him. And really, what an amazing opportunity he had, if only he could realize it. All the resources of a warship, at his figurative fingertips. The vast computational capability, the ability to go where one pleased, because one pleased…after all, where DOES a multiton warship dock? Anywhere it wants to.

Copying finished, Hulik handed the cards over to her rats. “Go, my minions, and deliver these to Naomi,” she intoned. “Then, we shall begin the search for lovely little shiny bits that I might find useful. Hey Murphy, got any pointers on where to start?”

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Flick
Flick
Flick
Hulik reviewed the images of the storage lockers and bins the rats found, while fondling the decontaminated MIU unit her cybernetic minions brought back.. Ooooooh, all sorts of nifty little things. Oh my, what’s that? She reversed the images, and stopped at one. Hmmmmm, from down in the military quarters. Oooooooh, those look remarkably like stored power armour! She did a little dance. More toys to play with! She darted for the captains quarters, intent on convincing him to allow her to continue her salvage efforts, suitably cleansed of course. Other people might be bored for the next two weeks, but not her!
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The array of small devices before her made Hulik hum with pleasure. The doctor was still in quarantine himself, but between her skills and the medical droid on board ship, she felt confident that she could handle these routine implants. Electrical probes under her fingernails, wired into her nervous system, that would allow direct control of computer systems. Inductance tattoos on her palms, that would allow her to jump-start (or drain) small electronic devices using her own bio-electric field. The MIU would have to wait, as would the perception sensors. Those were operations of considerably more complexity, that would require skull surgery and a properly trained doctor. Even if he weren’t in quarantine, Hulik was not comfortable with Dr. Marwood opening up her skull.

She began puttering with the small bits, while keeping up a running conversation with Murphy, who was as bored as almost everyone else. “Ya know, Murph, this COULD be the best thing that ever happened to ya. Why, when I think of what I could do with a ship as a body…have ya considered checking out what you can do a bit more?”

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Hulik straightened out her aching back, and looked at her workbench with supreme satisfaction. Two weeks, and she had completed at least a couple things to her satisfaction. A shiny suit of power armour stood there, with tiny, evil-looking laser burst cannons mounted on each shoulder. “I wonder if I should put decals on it or something. Naaaaw, let Gary do it, the armour’s for him.” A shiny, fingerlong object took from the bench, and began circling her head. “Pity I don’t have more time, dammit. The bug was fun, and I want more of them!”

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Annd it all goes pear-shaped

Hulik fumed silently. All that clever work, ingenious really, to end up being shat upon by her fellow crew. Well, only one of them, but still…and the only one that would possibly be able to appreciate her brilliance. Six different destruct mechanisms of varying degrees of sophistication, layered together, all subverted to her command. Damn good thing too, otherwise certain unappreciative people would be rapidly cooling atoms spreading through space. The plasma generator override was a particularly tricky bit of business that bore further pondering, since actual removal of the awesomely kludged circuit could set the thing off, but with the rat in place, it was rendered as harmless as it was going to get. The destruct slaved to the heartbeat of the lead scientist hadn’t been triggered yet, meaning that either the lead scientist was still living, or the same thing that prevented the ship from blowing when the virus escaped also prevented that one from going off. What with the living encryption on the ship’s data, further investigation was…impaired.

So…from wheedling/stealing information from an unsuspecting laboratory vessel, to a potential rescue/salvage mission. There doesn’t look to be enough room on the Minnow to fit all the sane, uninfected survivors that have been found so far, she mused. There are also still Things on board…Things that may or may not want to eat us, may or may not be sane, and can survive lack of oxygen and pressure. We also have not yet found the information we were originally looking for.

And let us not forget the ship. The lovely, large, wonderfully functional and functionally abandoned ship, with a big ugly hole in its side. And a creeping infection in its brain. Theoretically, the ship could count as salvage, but… Murphy the dead man seemed to have written himself into the ship somehow, and lost a few bits in the doing so. Poor guy, really. It would be a shame to have to terminate him along with the ship, but dangerously crazy people/AIs who happen to have control of a functional warship should probably not be allowed to run about loose. She prudently refused to consider her own sanity, never mind the rest of her crewmates. Hulik luxuriated in a daydream of partnering with a truly intelligent starship for a few moments, then returned to more immediate issues. .How dangerously crazy was he, and could he be worked with? At least long enough to help get the survivors back to a place of relative safety? Could the ship even be cleaned out enough to be safe to bring back to anyplace resemblling civilization? If anything was still living in the depressurized areas, it COULD theoretically travel from ship to ship…and move onto a fully inhabited station…and wouldn’t that be potential fun and games. Of course, it could be a friendly, helpful being that is immune to oxygen deprivation and vacuum – but the universe is a malign place and besides, we just tried to kill it. With extreme prejudice.

All of which was up for discussion after some food and rest.

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A crisis of thought

Murphy paced agitatedly back and forth on the bridge of the Cobra and pulled at his hair in distress. Was it possible? Could it be? Is it true? Was he dead? In some ways it couldn’t be true. He could walk around the ship freely, open doors, use the computers. But somehow the interior cameras picked up people and creatures which he could not see himself. Now these strangers had boarded the Cobra and were talking to him through the monitors. Like the others, he couldn’t see them when the computer said they were on the bridge with him. Yet somehow they seemed to be there, and even worse they had a decayed corpse wearing clothing identical to his…one of them was even carrying his old mining laser from before everything had started.

The whole thing was too messed up for Murphy, he followed their request to seal and de-pressurize the entire ship in order to kill the mutants, and then turned away from the monitors, curled up in the captain’s chair, and began to cry.

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A New Player in the Expanse

The bar at Berk’s Scrapyard quieted to silence as the vid-casters all began broadcasting a news bulletin.

Attention Inequity System residents. This is Ian Galixton coming to you from IGN with a special news report. This is possibly the most important news broadcast since mankind escaped from the Grenn.

As the IGN logo faded off the screens, Ian’s face was overlayed by the photo of a Prowler Pilot; Ian continued to talk in a voice over.

I’d like you all to meet someone very special. This is Jammer; he’s been a Prowler Pilot out on Port Wander for the past three years. What most of our viewers at home don’t know is that Jammer disappeared while on a patrol back in July. Now you may or may not know that a Prowler configured for a long distance flight can support 1 pilot for up to two weeks. This made it quite a surprise when Jammer returned to Port Wander just 1 week ago. For a pilot to return after 3.5 months in space when he only had 2 weeks of support is close to miraculous. However this isn’t what made Jammer’s story special. Lets hear it from him.

As Ian’s voice faded out, the voice of the pilot Jammer began to speak. “Hello, is this thing on?….ok, well then. My name is Jammer, and I’m a Prowler pilot from Port Wander. Like Mr. Galixton said, I went out on a milk run 3 months ago to escort home a returning science ship. Shortly after my wing and I made contact, the ship was attacked. We fought our best, but my wingmen, and the science ship were destroyed. I only survived because my thrusters had been shot out, and I spun off into deep space. I know I cant have drifted longer than a week or so because I was almost out of life-support when the ship found me.”

And here where it gets exciting. Tell us Jammer; who rescued you?

“It was humans Ian…Humans rescued me. The were in a powerful but old ship which they called a Rouge Trader, and named the ”/campaign/51182/wikis/Emperors%20Vow/new" class=“create-wiki-page-link”>Emperor’s Vow. They knew nothing about the Expanse, but claimed to live in a an area of space known as the Calixis Sector…and that they were descended from the original inhabitants of Earth!!!"

This is Ian Galixton coming to you from IGN with the news story of the millennium!!! The Earth was never lost! we defeated the Grenn! and we went on to form the mighty IMPERIUM OF MAN! which has survived to this day. Now we, the lost branch of humanity, who escaped to ensure the survival of our race; have reunited with those who survived. Our two civilizations have finally reunited!! Ian paused for several moments to give his audience a chance to digest his words before speaking again. We are fortunate indeed that Jammer survived in order to meet our lost brothers, he will truly go down in history for his heroic act. However something disturbing has come from this as well. Ian’s face was now stern, yet sad at the same time. We have images from Jammer’s gun camera’s which show the identity of his attackers from that fateful day back in July._ Ian’s face faded, and was replaced by a still shot which appeared almost taken from an action vid. The view was from below the cockpit, and it could be seen partially in the top of the frame. To the side a large ship was in the midst of being struck by powerful missiles and beam weapons. Shorn steel, and vented gases showed the already massive extent of the damage. Directly ahead of the guns showed a view of the attacking vessel; a Gray battle cruiser. As of yet, diplomats from the Gray, our so called allies; have refused to comment on the incident.

In related news, leaders from the Republic, the Star Kingdom, and even the Confederation of Fringe Worlds have gathered to discuss these massive revelations. We’ll have more information as it becomes available. This is Ian Galixton from the Intergalactic News, signing off.

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A Mechanical Paradise

“….so you see Anita, if we adjust the probe a little, like this…you get a taser,” Hulik said. “It’s only good for one, maybe two shots, buuuuut…if my calculations are right, I should be able to have it fry standard power armour in that one shot. Pass me that crimper…aha. That’s it.” She straightened up, and removed her magnifiers. As she surveyed her bench, she felt deep satisfaction. Four little extensions of her will were lined up, ocular apertures open and glowing steadily. Two all-purpose general maintenance/mayhem models, and two of the new design – packed with explosives, they were, in essence, self-propelled limpet mines.

Already, Hulik was starting to consider improvements. Surely they could be made smaller. And lighter. And how does that stealth technology work anyways – could it be miniaturized? What about making them fly?

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Considerations of a Long Term Survivor

Freddy walked back to his room and secured the door behind him to get some privacy to think things through.

With Faust leaving the ship there was one less person he felt he could rely on in a tough situation; and it seemed like the captain was taking the cockroaches as crew after bringing them into his little impromptu meeting in the hangar bay. DC seemed like someone who might become a liability if he couldn’t keep a cool head, but definitely had potential to be useful provided he remembers t hold his gun correctly in a firefight. the girl and the body guard should be useful to have around provided DC will set a good example for them.

Freddy settled into his chair and pulled up the technical documents they had recovered from the laboratory with the stealth fighters. He really liked the idea of their transport ship being a stealth craft as it would definitely increase the chance that he would get away unscathed if things ever went bad on a mission, but only if it did not have any… unpleasant.. side effects from exposure to whatever field this device generated.

He had a feeling what he considered an acceptable risk of side effects from exposure would be vastly different from what a corp or military scientist would think, and if there is anything Freddy worried about, its his own survival and benefit.

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I can't belive its not it r&r

Freddy sealed the hatch behind the two departing crew members. He didn’t much care about the mercenary Thena, he’d only just met her a couple days ago. But Faust had been his traveling companion and brother in arms for several months now. It was almost sad to see him go. However he would also make sure that Thena kept her mouth shut about anything she might have seen on the ship.

The Minnow had touched down less than an hour ago on a repair facility known as Berks Scrapyard which was situated on a large planetoid being mined on the outer rim of the Inequity system. Despite some objection, Captain Ivan had insisted on putting down for a refit and resupply before moving forward further on the current objectives. Since the owner Berk apparently owed Ivan somehow, they had been allowed to land, and given a double hanger bay for their ships. It was also surprisingly private which led Freddy to believe that it was quite a favor.

Once Faust and Thena were gone, the Captain began his brief. “Ok guys, Berk here owes me big time; don’t worry about why for. The important thing is that we’ve got 1 maybe 2 weeks where nobody’s gonna bother us. We’ve also got access to a full machine shop of parts and tools we can work with. I also suspect that it wont be hard to get some weapons for those fighters if we need them as well. Those of you not working on the ship while we’re here can put in shifts on guarding the hanger, keeping tabs on Berk and his boys, and also making sure we’re geared up with whatever we’re gonna need for our next few missions. The way I see it, we’ve got a stealth fighter to get to our client on New Haven. If he is alive, I suspect he’ll pay extra for a ship that can get him off station. If not we keep it for ourselves. Of course it also might be a good idea to go after this as well.” The captain held up a data disk. “It seems that a joint effort from our comms, security, and medical officers has successfully located the research vessel which unleashed the Wild Card virus on the mining hab, and the city. If we can find a cure, or at least a vaccine, it should make our stealth delivery that much safer…and be worth a pretty penny as well.”

The looked about at the thoughtful faces of his crew (+3). “I have one other suggestion, and this one is a crew decision rather than a captain one.” He waited for acknowledgment from everyone before continuing. “We’ve currently got two stealth ships, and a contract to turn in only one. The second ship; do we finish outfitting it as a stealth fighter? Sell the stealth generator tech? Or; and this is my suggestion, do we attempt to remove it from the fighter, and put it onto the Minnow instead. We can still outfit and keep/sell the prowler, however I think the benefit to a cloak capable Minnow goes beyond just our current mission set. Think about it for now. Before rack out give me your answer.”

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An Alien Perspective

Admiral Aunrai of the Gray exploratory fleet looked at his command display, then back to his first officer Shalel. “Are these reports correct? Is there no further action we can take to prevent contact?”

“At this time no. It seems that one of the Human deep space pilots survived an intervention event several months ago. Apparently he drifted until his life support was almost out before being recovered…by the very vessel we strove to conceal from them.” Shalel bowed his head before his commanding officer.

“Then contact has already been made; nothing can be accomplished through hindsight, so we must plan forward. What is the likelihood of a negative culture reaction? Will they welcome what is about to find them, or will they fight?” Changing the readout on his display, Aunrai paused in contemplation before speaking again. “If we can encourage the humans to resist, then ta mutual alliance might finally be enough to turn the tide on the main front.”

Shalel added some calculations to the Admiral’s display, “The humans have ever been hesitant towards other races. In this case, it seems unlikely we’ll be successful in convincing them to side with us. They barley tolerate us as trade allies.”

Aunrai raised his hand for silence. “According to this data, we still have some time before the humans become aware of the nature of the strange ship on their long range scans. Lets use this time to apply what influence we can, and ready the fleet.”

This time his first officer looked truly confused. “Fleet Sir? we have six ships. They’re all present and accounted for. The humans are well aware of our strength and location. What tactical difference can we have on the situation?”

Aunrai smiled, his painted teeth gleaming faintly in the dim lighting of the command bridge. “We’re an exploratory fleet. Many of our lightly armed merchant and exploration vessels have better defenses than the humans realize. Also many of them have escort ships, Just one or two so as not to alarm the pink skins. Once you add our little diplomatic command group it adds up to a reasonable force.” He appreciated the stunned look on his second’s face. “Until now it want necessary for you to know. However in light of recent events some things have changed. I would take some time to gather all of our forces to a single staging area. However, I’m inclined to gather them up into smaller separate strike teams. We can gradually pull them together into a more cohesive force, however this will give us the best opportunity to react when the humans make contact this new race.”

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