Episode 5: Between the Anvil and the Hammer

Started by HumanHyperbole, May 03, 2022, 08:03:01 PM

HumanHyperbole

May 03, 2022, 08:03:01 PM Last Edit: May 04, 2022, 04:17:01 AM by HumanHyperbole
Their former guest, now ill-defined crew member, Willy Breene had pitched a job to their previous Captain. Blue Sun corp makes microchips, guidance chips, and possibly even potato chips on the planet Anvil. Most of the year it was a highly secure shipping route that could be approached dozens of ways and in any direction. But just as luck would have it, today was the first day of the last week when this gauntlet of a shipping lane becomes a very deadly one-way.

So if the crew wanted to go chasing coin in this general area, they could go for the gold and roll the dice on The Hammer Highway (an alliterative nickname that sounded more fun than "gravity tunnel of death"), or chase smaller scores on Alliance vessel's taking the long way around and risk the ire of the feds who'd just dropped the loose jawed, self-described Irishman on them. The last thing any of them wanted was that handsome Aussie to take them to jail. Or even worse: for them to unload another Breene in their cargo bay.

With that choice now weighing on Melody, the rest of the crew could focus on other fun tasks. Like recovering from being shot, treating those gunshots and Breene's burned buns, flying the ship, and making sure the stolen military vessel was still in tip-top pirating shape.

Dangun was in the proverbial rear-view. The star-dotted canvas of black awaited them. It was thieving time aboard The Revenge.

Scanned document in Isa's handwriting.

!Hammer and Anvil Shipping Lane!
-Once a year, Heinlein and Himinbjorg's orbits align parallel to this Shipping Lane. [Photo of the lanes w/ one of them highlighted]
-Gravitation in the area makes shipping dangerous and impractical.
-Noticed Alliance using it for high-value asset transport (no one would risk their ship and crew to pillage the cargo vessel).
-Tracked at least one Alliance payload moving through this shipping lane per year.
-Consistent.
-Lane goes between Anvil and its moon Hammer.
-High Risk. High Reward.

Melody

May 09, 2022, 09:35:12 AM #1 Last Edit: May 09, 2022, 11:12:35 AM by Lomari
Location: The Bridge

"No, no, here!" Mel snapped, pointing at the highlighted lane on Isa's document which Jo still had pulled up on one of his screens.

"Everyone's gonna be pickin' off the smaller ships, 'specially this time of the year. Since it's a one way lane right now it mostly forces cargo vessels to take the long way 'round which leaves them open for opportunistic folk," she explained, standing up straight and getting out of Jo's personal space.

"Competition's gonna be high and I don't have any plans on competing for a score like last time."

"But if we go this way," she began, leaning in again and running her fingertip along the Hammer Highway, the one lane between the two parallel planets. "We can pick off the ships that're stuck in traffic, and minimize how many pirates are goin' after the booty. Plus, this is when they move the good stuff through the shipping lanes, cuz they figure no one's stupid enough to try it," Mel continued. For a second time, she straightened and moved her face away from Jo's head.

"Security's pretty lax, too, since they figure they're mostly safe in that gravity tunnel,"
the Captain concluded, moving back to her seat and spinning the chair back and forth in thought. "Guess I should ask the crew though, since I'm Captain now, although we ain't got much time to make the decision. System says we're approaching the Highway soon."

With a grunt of reluctant acceptance, Mel reached up to grab the comms mic and clicked it on. "I'm gonna need a quick vote from everyone. We're comin' up on the Hammer Highway, and we've got two options. Option 1, we pick off some smaller ships makin' the long way 'round the shipping lane, makin' sure they're Alliance vessles, and risk competition with other...marauders," the Captain cleared her throat, frowning deeply.

"Or Option 2, we go for the big score and head into the gravity tunnel after whatever big Alliance cargo they're movin' through right now. Pretty risky, little bit dangerous, but I doubt they're expecting it so other than some turbulence, it could be clear flyin'," Mel added.

"Get to a comms unit and cast your vote. I'll give you all five minutes to think it over."

With that done, she hung the mic back up and sat down in her chair, eyeing Jo. "Diplomacy," she told him, raising her brows and spreading her arms wide, almost as though waiting to see if he was pleased with her or not.
Dialogue Color: Brown

Ick Rosewater

Location: Engineering

Ick laid motionless on his back with his eyes closed, feeling the rumble of The Revenge's engines course through his blood, syncing his own heartbeat to her's, binding his very soul to the inner workings of his new ship. So that even if he went blind or deaf...he would know what was wrong with her based on feel and feel alone.

Just kidding.

Ick actually fell asleep whilst laying next to a plate of food scraps in an attempt to coax the kitty out to say hello.

A rude awakening came in the form of the captain's voice over the squawk box.

"I'm gonna need a quick vote from everyone. We're comin' up on the Hammer Highway, and we've got two options. Option 1, we pick off some smaller ships makin' the long way 'round the shipping lane, makin' sure they're Alliance vessels, and risk competition with other...marauders. Or Option 2, we go for the big score and head into the gravity tunnel after whatever big Alliance cargo they're movin' through right now. Pretty risky, little bit dangerous, but I doubt they're expecting it so other than some turbulence, it could be clear flyin'. Get to a comms unit and cast your vote. I'll give you all five minutes to think it over."

Ick gathered his consciousness enough to know what was being asked of him and the rest of the crew. As he thought about the options, he noticed that the plate of scraps he'd set out for the cat had been stealthily licked clean while he slept.

Ick growled in frustration and called out to the air, "You're gonna be my friend one of these days, boss cat! It's happening, gorrammit!"

Back to the matter at hand, he weighed the pros and cons of hitting several smaller scores, or one big score. Multiple scores meant multiple plans that each could go wrong in multiple ways. Sounded exhausting. Plus, it would lay to grave any hope of getting in and getting out fast. And in order to keep a ship from warning other ships the Revenge targeted, there would almost certainly need to be some killing involved. When it came to the feds, Ick wasn't squeamish on the idea, but still...complications.

Ick picked himself off the floor of Engineering and flicked the com button on the squawk box.

"Ick here," he said. "I say let's go big game huntin'."

Holger Heyerdahl

May 16, 2022, 09:06:57 AM #3 Last Edit: May 16, 2022, 09:11:03 AM by noseatbelts
Location - Lounge

Holger drew a card from the deck in his hand and looked at it. "Aha. The Heart King." Exactly what he needed, it went on to the corresponding stack. He surveyed the arrayed cards before him to see if there was another move to make. Nope. Time to draw again. "Mmm. A Jewel Nine." He looked at the card again. "A Jewel Six? Why are there always two numbers?"

Solitaire was a game he had recently learned to play, having seen Joakim playing the game in between his work on the computers. Intrigued, Holger had asked to be taught to play and he found it to be great fun. Though he had yet to master some of the nuances of the game. Nine or six, he found the correct place for it in play.

Quote"Get to a comms unit and cast your vote. I'll give you all five minutes to think it over."

Holger's ears perked up at the announcement and immediately made up his mind. He jumped up from the table, leaving the game where it was, the cards stacked in neat but seemingly random rows, and went to the nearest comms unit he could think of to relay his answer. Of course, that comms unit was in the cockpit.

He dashed up the stairs and to the handheld mic Melody had only just used. With a smile, Holger turned it on and announced to the ship. "I agree with Mr. Ick. Option 2. Risky, dangerous, and turbulent."
Dialogue Color - Orange

William Breene

Willy Breene smiled. He'd finally befriended somebody on the crew. Well, besides Holger. The ship's resident mouser was certainly having a good time. Breene hadn't managed to get the cat to let him pet it. But, they'd established the sort of rapport where he'd try and pet the cat, it would attack him, and he'd defend himself with his now skin-sleeve-less prosthetic arm.

The captain interrupted over the PA. He zoned out after a minute because he knew what plan she was talking about. That and he just didn't feel like paying attention anymore. The Hammer Highway job! The new recruit ran over to one of the wall-mounted PA units. As he got halfway to there, the pirate noticed his fake arm felt a little heavy. Bringing his forearm up to face height, the cat looked him eye to eye. All four paws and all their claws were dug in, clinging for dear life and the joy of attacking him.

A smile returned to his face. Breene tried to bring his hand toward's the kitty's head. A harsh, and curt hiss sent him recoiling back.

"Oh! Damn it... Ehh... close enough..."

Now leaving the cat alone, he held it aloft, still clawing and biting his prosthesis with an unrestrained fury as he smacked the push-to-talk button.

"Breene here..."

Willy had a shortlist of quips and a couple puns ready. But he remembered how the new mechanic introduced himself. Sure he'd been told he's an ass plenty of times. But now it was starting to dawn on him, to a teeny, tiny Willy Breene level degree, that he needed to chill out a bit.

"Hammer."

The Celtic Corsair released the push-to-talk button. He hurred the unmistakable sound of purring.

"Aww... you're really enjoying that aren't ya, our fuzzy little buccaneer..."

Another failed attempt to pet the cat was quickly met with a shrill hiss and a razor-sharp clawing to his "good" hand.

"Okay!"

Izak Archer

Location: Armory

Izak was almost in a Zen-like state. Each weapon in the armory had been disassembled, cleaned and re-assembled and put back in its properly place. The room was even cleaner now too. Although there was still the matter of needing to better stock the space. Some cutting tools and explosives would be a nice touch. Some larger caliber rifles would be good to add as well.

Pausing his cleaning of weapon before him, Izak leaned back and rubbed his chin in thought. Holger would no doubt appreciate something of the anti-material variety. But anything bigger that 12.7mm could be too difficult to maintain and supply.

Izak's shopping list plan would have to wait of course, as Melody's voice on the PA broke the course of his brainstorming. The new job came about quicker than he imagined, and Melody put it to a vote which he appreciated. It took him a moment to decide however, as both did sound like particularly suitable options. They could take a the longer route, but that would mean slimmer pickings and having to fight to stake their claim in the area. The smash and grab on the main shipping lane could work, but it was a one-way route, and getting out if the mess his the fan would be a nightmare.

Izak leaned over to his right and hit the button on the PA. "While I think we could stake our claim out here by knocking out the competition, I say we try the go for the bigger prize."

Joakim Soong

Location: The Bridge[

Jo listened to Mel patiently, leaning away whenever she invaded his personal space and sitting up straight when she backed off. He understood full well the plan she was laying down, he just wasn't sure he liked it much. Alas, as the crew votes began to come in through the comms, it became clear he was in the minority.

"I guess diplomacy has spoken." His tone came out snappier than he'd intended. He had taken some pain medication but not as much as his injury would have warranted; he needed his mind to stay sharp in order to do his job properly, and he could not risk being hopped up on opiates right now. As a result, his shin -- which he'd done his best to prop up -- throbbed constantly. Every time he had to adjust his position, tiny beads of sweat formed on his forehead; he promptly wiped them off when Mel wasn't looking and hoped she didn't notice that his injury was affecting him.

If you'd just gotten your degree and a real job, you could take some sick days off, whispered a nasty voice most likely belonging to his ex girlfriend. Then again, if you'd done that, you wouldn't have gotten shot in the first place.

Jo had known the risks when he'd signed up to become a pirate. Even with his more hands-off role on the ship, it was inevitable that sooner or later he'd get caught in the crossfire. That being said, he felt like they were taking an unnecessary risk by going for the big bounty. He just didn't have it in him to argue about it right now.
Dialogue color: teal

Melody

Location: The Bridge

"Ick here," he said. "I say let's go big game huntin'." Their new engineer was already winning points with the Captain. She smiled and offered Jo a raising of her brows as though to ask if he was also impressed with the newcomer. That's when she finally noticed how uncomfortable he looked. Her smile turned itself upside down and Mel frowned at him intently.

Arms still spread, Melody watched the red giant hurry his way onto the bridge and grab the mic she'd just put back into place. Her brows furrowed and her lips parted to say something, but he was already speaking before she could ask him to just tell her his opinion without using the comms.

"I agree with Mr. Ick. Option 2. Risky, dangerous, and turbulent," Holger voted. She'd counted on that being his answer. Along with making things up to the rest of the crew and assuring herself that this occupation was the right way to go, Melody felt like she owed it to Holger to make this experience live up to his (and her) expectations. So far, the whole venture had been lackluster and disappointing, and they'd ended working with the law, when they'd set out to do the exact opposite of that. This time, they'd do it right. Mel shot Holger a thumbs up and a grin.

"Hammer," came Breene's reply, short and sweet. Finally, Mel set her hands down on her lap and glared at the speaker. Short and sweet from that man was more than a little suspicious. Where were the overlong jokes and unnecessary anecdotes? Was he up to something? Was he dying? Her arms crossed and she set to tapping a foot against the metal flooring, feeling like she needed to check in on him to make sure he wasn't leaking their fuel out into space and escaping on a lifeboat. She peered past Jo toward the screen of cameras, squinting and looking for wherever Breene was likely wreaking havoc.

"I say we try the go for the bigger prize," Izak chimed in. That one surprised her a little, but she was more than pleased with the sensation. She'd expected him to tell them to play safe and pick off the smaller ships, but maybe he was more concerned with ingratiating himself with the crew. She could appreciate that.

"I guess diplomacy has spoken," Jo snapped. Mel sighed and stood up, grunting as she did so. She hadn't been injured in their last adventure, but she was more than sore enough to elicit some moans and groans every so often. Her attention lowered from his face to his elevated foot. He'd been the most injured of all of them, not counting Breene and his injured arse. A twinge of guilt tugged at her gut and pulled the corners of her lips down.

The Captain cleared her throat. "Jo..." she started, rubbing the back of her neck and looking over at Holger. Whatever she'd been about to say, she aborted the mission and shook her head. "Anyway, I need you to plot us some potential courses through the gravity well. I'm pretty sure there is some other info from, uh, other ships heading through there now," she told him, although she wagered he already knew that.
Dialogue Color: Brown

Missy Etheridge

Is 'neither' an option? was Missy's first question, one that she very much did not voice aloud. Safely alone in the med bay, however, she did spend most of her allotted five minutes openly making faces at the predictable sway of public opinion. She'd have expected nothing less from this lot, except maybe Jo, who seemed to be the only other occasional voice of reason on the ship. Missy was doubly annoyed to find herself likely agreeing with him twice in as many days, although he apparently wasn't inclined to weigh in - at least not over the comms; either he'd voted in person or was abstaining entirely.

Really, though, it wasn't as though the competition-heavy alternative to the adrenaline junkies' "big score" sounded that much safer anyway, and Missy had never exactly been one to stand on principle. The die was clearly already cast whatever she decided, so she may as well use the opportunity to suck up ingratiate herself instead. Just before time ran out, she put on her shiniest comms voice, leaned on the button, and chimed in, "Sounds fun! Let's get that big prize!"
Dialogue color: Cornflowerblue | 6495ED

Talk less. Smile more.
Never let them know what you're against or what you're for.

Holger Heyerdahl

Holger was glad that everyone seemed ready for the inevitable destruction and chaos that was sure to follow them as they barrelled down a gravitational superspace highway; not that he thought too hard about the science. He was pointed in a direction to hit, and hit it he would. That was the job of a grunt and Holger was ok with not being the schemer of the group. Even growing up, while clever in his own right, Holger was not the brightest of his siblings. He, of course, had other attributes.

Holger began to formulate a rough idea of what was to follow, as best as he understood it. They would something something something with the ships into a whatever it was. Zoom zoom pow, they would board the ship. That was where Holger would come in. Similar to how they had boarded the Atkinson, but Holger hoped this time it would go better. "Jo-a-kim, please, no foam this time, okay?" So bang, they go onto this new ship, and ch-ch-ch-ch bang bang bang pew pew pew ststststst shoot all of that crew and take the ship for their very own. It could not be simpler. Holger smiled. "This will be fun."
Dialogue Color - Orange

Melody

Location: The Bridge

Mel offered Jo her best apologetic smile, although to the casual observer it might have just looked like she'd stubbed her toe. With a little shrug to accompanied the pained grimace intended to soothe their technician, the Captain turned and got comfortable in the pilot's seat. Even their doctor had mustered up some level of excitement for this new job.

Once more, Mel's finger pressed against the comms button, "Alrighty then! Everyone, get your stations squared away and find a seat. You'll want to be buckled in for this," she told them, her broad grin apparent in the tone and cadence of her command. "Once we're in position, I'll need..." she paused, thinking on it carefully and squinting out the front view port. "Anyone familiar with a weapon and interested in participating to get themselves armed and meet me down at the cargo hold. Everyone else, lock the ship up tight," she finished, looking at Holger over her should as he finger left the comms button.

Her head jerked toward the empty seat on the other side of the room, opposite Jo's station. "Gonna get a little bumpy for a second," she told him, grinning.
Dialogue Color: Brown

Ick Rosewater

Location: Engine Room

Ick got to work. He had a trick up his sleeve to keep everybody's teeth from rattling out of their heads and offer a little bit of extra protection. One of the main reasons the ride tended to be rough on runs like this is traveling fast in the direction gravity pulled you gave the feeling that you were in a perpetual dive. Because essentially...you are. Therefore any maneuvering whatsoever once in the gravity lane was akin to pulling out of a vertical dive. Hard on pilots, harder on ships.

Better to think of the direction of gravity as "down," with the ship's belly pointed in the direction gravity pulled her, as if entering atmo. This not only would allow for better maneuverability with attitudinal thrusters, but for more protection by presenting the heat plating along Revenge's underbelly.

All that stuff depended on the pilot, of course. What Ick could do is divert power from the grav drive to the attitudinal thrusters. With everyone's feet pointed towards a genuine source of gravity, Revenge and her crew wouldn't need much in the way of artificial grav. It still wouldn't be an easy flight. Ick sure as hell wouldn't trust himself to pilot in such situations, but it would prevent the cap'n from having to use all her strength to make the slightest change in course.

He thumbed the switch on the squawk box. "Hey, Cap'n, how 'bout this..."

HumanHyperbole

The Hammer Highway - REVENGE

Thanks to Ick's tweaking, it didn't feel much different than "normal" flying in the black. But the gravitational sensors panicked for a couple of seconds, spitting out every gravity-related warning it could for a couple of seconds, before the Navcomputer realized where they were, and what time of year it was, and purged the warnings automatically from Mel's Head's Up Display.

The Revenge's speed started to skyrocket before Mel adjusted. Now firmly in the gravity tunnel, Revenge was like somebody running on a conveyor belt.

Blue Sun Convoy

Security Supervisor Gunnar"Gunny" Gilroy was on a conveyor belt of his own. The fitness-minded mercenary was in the midst of a workout in the ship's gym. His second in command was yelling at him, failing to break through the loud electronic music he had playing on speakers. They tried again, but they looked like a mime trying to shout over the deafening beats. Finally fed up, she muted the speakers, but her boss was screaming himself before she could finally ask her question.

"For the love of Buddha's sphincter!! WHAT DID I TELL YOU ABOUT THIS?!"

Unfazed by his freak-out, Gilroy's subordinate asked her question:

"Do you want me to put your supper in the fridge? It's been sitting out and attracting flies..."

He slammed the stop button.

"You know I can't have my protein until AFTER my workout right...? Why did you make dinner before my-"

Not allowing her boss to finish dressing her down for eating outside his schedule, she asked again.

"So fridge or..."

He threw his PDA at the wall and shrieked his answer petulantly.

"Just make me a turkey and cheese rollup!"

She walked out of the ship's gym and closed it behind her.

"Fridge then."

"GHAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!"

REVENGE

The former Alliance vessel turned pirate ship's radar started letting out proximity warnings. They barely needed any speed to catch up with the convoy of four ships. Not yet within visual range, they'd be on top of them in a few minutes, especially if Mel didn't slow down.  The ship's IFF system started spitting out the default specs for each of the identical ships.

Armored cargo-haulers, the ships had simple front-facing auto-cannons for offense, but their defensive armor could let them hold out for a long time if the Revenge crew tried to intimidate them with the threat of a broadside attack with the ship's turrets. It was time to break out the ropes, the pirates had ships to board and booty to plunder.

Izak Archer

Then:
Izak cracked his neck. It was time for the real work to begin. Hopefully this time it would not be a big mess but one could never tell with these jobs. Anything and everything could go sideways all at once. But even still, it was essential to come up with both a plan and back up plans. He secured everythign in the armory.

Heading up to the bridge, he settled in for the expected series of mission shenanigans and got the ships weapons ready, making note of a few improvements he wanted to make when they got to Iscariot next. Now he just had to wait for them to enter the planned attack lane.

Present:
There was the alert. Their target was in sight, and ripe for the picking. It would be a tough nut to crack though. Izak was going to sit out the boarding on this one, if he could. While the cargo ships they were targeting lacked the firepower needed to ruin their day, he was a little worried about their being backup on the fair side.

"Well, I can't do a gorram thing right now, but if anything goes wrong, I'd rather be here in case we need to fend off any uninvited guests, cap," he said.

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