So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby SockFiddler » Fri Dec 01, 2017 11:35 am

There is silence as we walk onto the deck and see my Cobra for the first time. My four teammates are stunned, and I'm feeling somewhat smug about this. I walk up to my shiny new ride and run my hand over the fresh paint job. "A-rated cores, light-fitted internals, jump range of 24 light years unladen..."

"Nice bloody job, Sock," murmurs Dawg eventually. He, Al, Tor and Lori are keeping their distance from my ride. I am amused.

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"'Token Female Member'... seriously?" says Tor.

"Yeah," I beam proudly.

"What's all the spiky shit for?" asks Lori.

"She's always surrounded by useless little pricks."

"Oh, that's beautiful," observes Al.

I walk round the back - dodging more spikes - and board my ship. She still smells of paint and that spray they put on new metal fittings to keep them shiny. I slide into the flight seat and dig into the bag I've brought with me. I spend about 15 minutes arranging my bobbleheads on the dash and then I murmur through my in-suit coms, "Perfect. Finished."

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"Great. Let's get some fucking flying done, then," grumbles Tor, though Dawg and Al have followed me into my flight deck and are snickering at the bobbing letters.

"And the planets?" asks Al.

"Surrounded by little pricks, but there'll always be blue balls."

Dawg's snickering progresses into guffaws. Al rolls his eyes and leaves the deck. I punch the panel to open station coms and begin the request launch process as the rest of the A-Team leave the hangar in search of their own ships.

The Cobra - "Member" - feels heavier and more solid than they GU-97 I've been flying recently, though the stick and panels are all well-placed and easier to reach than in the Gooey's cramped cockpit space. The deck she's parked on spins and raises me up into the vast space of the station we're on, and I am informed my clamps are released.

I power forward and up, sending the ship lurching and am surprised at the responsiveness of the vessel; I'll need to take it gently at first as she's got a lot of throttle and it's all ready to fire. I try again, aim the nose for the envelope and make for the exit at a polite speed. Once out of it, I move a little distance away and then try one of Dawg's flippy tricks to bring her about (into her bright pink wake stream) so that I can watch the rest of the team emerge.

Dawg's Python, "Old Gal"; Tor in "Lucy" the 'Vette, Lori in "WRECKEDEM" the 'Conda (with an eye-roll from me) and Al in an...

"What the fuck are you flying, Al?" I ask over coms. Three ships turn to look at Al's bi-coloured, light blue and grey vessel.

"Wanted to try something new," he replies.

"That wasn't the plan," says Tor dryly.

"Just give it a chance. It might surprise you," says Al cheerfully.

"A dolphin? A DOLPHIN?!," exclaims Lori, utterly horrified as Al fires up the thrusters on his shiny new dolphin and moves closer to me. The thing is called "Pearl Diver" and has a winking face beneath its name plate.

"Cyan... really?" murmurs Dawg as Al moves past him, engine wake the colour of ocean spray billowing out behind him.

"That's your problem with it?!," says Lori. He is almost apoplectic.

"What?" says Al innocently. "I thought it was poetic."

"Poetry?" says Tor, and we get a notification that he is targeting Al's cheerful, pretty, blue-and-grey dolphin. "What are its shields like?"

There is a pregnant pause and then Al giggles over the coms. "Very fucking good, actually. But I'm just fucking with you. You gents are so touchy - I just wanted to show my sensitive side. It's not all war, war, war. This one's for the ladies. Anyway... I'll be right back," and then he slips his monstrosity back inside the envelope, to eventually return in an over-powered Asp X with a bright red paint job.

"Right then," says Lori clearing his throat and regaining his cool, unruffled composure, "We all know the plan. Let's get to work."
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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby Loriath » Fri Dec 01, 2017 12:17 pm

"Cyan... really?" murmurs Dawg as Al moves past him, engine wake the colour of ocean spray billowing out behind him.

"That's your problem with it?!," says Lori. He is almost apoplectic.


OMG.... That is EXACTLY what I would have said. And HOW I would have said it. LMAO.
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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby SockFiddler » Mon Dec 04, 2017 4:32 am

The plan is simple; acquire, follow and hassle the target T9, causing as much chaos as possible then, when on the edge of the system, crack his hatch and steal the booty.

We know the T9 had to take 7 days to replace his ID and ship credentials and, from deftly hacking the port's data point, we have learned that Asshole will be leaving the station shortly after I pick up my shiny new ride. Piracy will be her maiden voyage, and I crack open a new bottle as I take up my position, directly opposite (but outside of the no-fire range of) the station's envelope.

Perfectly on schedule, the mouth of the station fills with the ridiculous hull of Asshole's space-cow. "The stallion's on the run," I say into my comlink.

"That's what we're going with?" crackles Al, "I thought we were doing a cow thing."

"No..." replies Dawg, "That was for the other thing. Remember, we decided to go with horses for this."

"But it's a space-cow. Stallion makes no sense here."

"It's all about context, my good man," replies Dawg cheerily.

"Focus, Asshats," growls Lori, "There's a year of free booze floating into space."

Free booze sharpens our minds fairly quickly, and I lock my targeting onto the T9 and gently ease my Cobra into a pursuit course. "Acquired. Lock onto my target."

T9's, for the uninitiated, are slow, hefty and have the acceleration of a fat dog running up a hill (or the deceleration of a fat dog running down one). Their hulls are made of paper and their pilots - unless uncommonly smart - run them light on shields, install no weapons and haven't invested in thrusters so that they can maximise the amount they can carry. These monsters aren't built for defence but for evasion - as long as they're not running E-rated thrusters. They're designed to carry, jump and keep jumping, with acceleration and stopping distances that would make us fighter jocks wince and weep.

We already know what this T9 is packing; the only thing we're anxious about is the ludicrously over-engineered FSD; once that thing spins up into SC, it'll be away to the next system in a blink, and with a range easily more then double any of ours, once it's gone, it'll be gone . We need to chase it to the edge of the system and pull that hatch off before its thrusters can get it up to SC-engage speed. This is the gambit.

I slip easily into Asshole's wake, staying a cool 500 or so kms behind him, broadcasting my position to the rest of the A-Team via my wing beacon. My scanner shows Al to my left, Dawg to my right and Tor behind me with an interdictor ready to fire. Lori, meanwhile, has the task to trying to guess where Asshole will run to, scoot ahead and prepare to intercept; his engine wake drops beneath us, his SC fires and he shoots ahead of us.

So far, so good.

My coms crackles.

"You're the bitch from the bar..."

"Hello, Sunshine," I say brightly, switching channels to observe to the others, "I've been made."

"Charm and disarm, Socks," says Dawg.

"Knew you wanted some," replies Asshole.

"Didn't realise you had such a big one, Sunshine," I croon into the coms, keeping it on open broadcast so the rest of the team can hear us.

"Fuck you. What are you after?"

"Just wanted to apologise. Realise I spilled your drink and blew your date. That's all."

"Yeah? And cost me 250 credits in medical."

"250 medical?! I'm so sorry, babe," I reply. "Lemme make it up to you."

"Yeah, right... like those dickbags you fly with would ever let that happen."

"Hey, don't be mean, they're my buddies. They're not so bad once you get to know them..."

By now, the T9's course has been laid in; he's pointing his nose out of the system and his FSD has just come online. But he's got only 60% of the thrust he needs to make the jump so we have about 15 seconds before things get exciting. Al, Tor and Dawg are all discussing this as I keep the Asshole chatting.

"So where you off to, Cowboy?" I ask, already able to guess it's likely to be either Umbila or Zvaiti.

"Fuck you," he replies tersely. "And your friends."

I'm guessing he's just made Al and Dawg on his scanner and move closer to him. Al and Dawg make similar conclusions and take the same action. We're now in tight, tidy formation, our fingers on our throttles as the space cow makes its inevitable boost forward, hoping to cheat its way to its minimum jump velocity. We surge forward with it, a single, focused pack of hunters, our minds sharp and our reactions fast.

"Oh, it's on, Bitch," he says, but he boosted too soon and now his thrusters are refusing to give him any more, eventhough he's asking them for it. He's pulling what little power he has in his shields out to plunge it all into his engines, but to no avail; that cow will run whenever that cow is ready to, and there's nothing he can do to get anything more out of her.

Our scanners show that Lori is in good position to intercept and locked onto our target. As the T9 closes on his position, he twitches his nose round to face it, and then - checking we're out of range of any sort of law enforcement - opens fire just enough to let the T9 know he's there.

Asshole swears unintelligibly over the coms as he realises our ploy. Tor now takes up my position as I surge forward and drop beneath the T9. Flanked on both sides, rear and front and only able to raise his nose to escape (and, thus, drop velocity), Asshole knows he's in a pickle and swears some more. He knows words and phrases that almost make me blush, but is a better pilot than any of us gave him credit for as he surges, twists and weaves in an attempt to break free of us without pulling his nose off course.

"Firing..." murmurs Tor, in as focused a voice as I've ever heard from him. He's right on the T9's ass now, moving in as close as he can while keeping the target in visual range. His plan - if not interdicting - is to pull the hatch doors off the back and spill that sweet, sweet cargo into space for us to collect later. Seconds later, Tor confirms that the hatch crackers are in place and doing their work. Al cheers.

"Socks," says Dawg brightly, "See if you can tickle his tummy. Slow him down a bit, or we'll be collecting that haul for weeks."

"Right-o," I reply, flipping over and letting my gimballed weapons trace over the T9's hull. There is more swearing over the coms while his shields - weak from his power redist - tremble and then give out. Now my weapons fire is measured and specific; I want to compromise his hull integrity to cause his auto-slow to kick in without tearing him apart.

"You got it, Kid," murmurs Lori, dropping to a closer, more personal range and laying down fire ahead of the T9's nose. Between what's ahead and what's beneath, the huge vessel shudders and begins to slacken its pace. It's all but over now.

"I reckon," says Al, "Socks could park that Cobra right on his deck.

"Not a chance," replies Tor, "On her first trip out? It's too tight a fit."

"How you doing with those doors, Tor?" asks Dawg thoughtfully.

"10 seconds..."

"Would save time with the collecting of the swag," says Al.

"Go on, Socks," urges Dawg, "Show 'em what you're made of!"

"More fire, I'll slow him down. And do not try to board him with your ship..." order Lori, but my mind is already in this new game.

"Challenge accepted!" I cry gleefully, dropping back from my position beneath the T9, flipping and coming about to lie just off Tor's 'Vette's left wing. "Aaah, look at that thing," I murmur, sizing up my vessel against the vast bay doors on the back of the T9. "I could make that..."

"Stick to the plan," growls Lori, "Do NOT try to board..."

"I just need to..." I do not realise that I am no longer speaking. I sort of reach toward the Cobra with my mind, let my hands and my instincts take over. I must match vector and velocity, line up perfectly, get my approach angle spot-on... but all of this happens almost unconsciously, and by the time the hatch doors pop out and over my head, I am perfectly in line and ready to go.

Tor drops back, I slowly accelerate towards the T9's now-open rear. It's just me and my machine. I breathe; I am alive and dead. There is no time, there is no tomorrow, there is just this moment, right now. I ease the Cobra forward, my nose almost over the threshold now, I am aware of the power of the bird I am in, of harnessing it, of owning it with my body and with my mind. Half my bird is now aboard, the T9's loading doors just wide enough to accommodate me. I am in control; this moment is mine...

And then I am not in control. Some kind of invisible blast knocks me just enough to tip my left wing a little and it kisses the inner edge of the door. The friction of the gentle collision slows my wing further, threatening to pull me into a twist. I try to adjust, but I over-steer by just a hair and now the other wing is scraping harder. A heartbeat later and I am no longer in control of my ride. Metal screams against metal and now I am careering and spinning, my vision a blur of sparks as I tumble backwards, bouncing off Tor's 'Vette and rolling into space. The familiar scream of alarms fills my ears and then I am popping the canopy and being pressed into my chair again.

In the distance, there is the brief bloom of an explosion; the T9, I presume, and then my coms splutter into life. Dawg is laughing hysterically, Al is crooning "Come Fly With Me" and Lori's voice is - with fatherly patience - explaining what I did wrong when I tried to board the T9. It turns out - he explains - that I hadn't prepared for the "atmo bubble" to pop and it's what knocked me sideways and ultimately killed my bird. I'd been flying her less than 4 hours.

Tor's lights blind me briefly and as they clear, that fucking space-funnel is reaching for me again. I'm angry and somewhat humiliated and swearing with every word I can think of when my coms crackles again.

"Oi, you poofters," booms a male old-London accent, "Stop horsing about. What's this I 'ear about you taking on some bird? You all need a good slappin' you do..."

"Aah," says Dawg, "Commander Kharma - good morning, sir!"

"Alright, Dawg," replies Kharma, "Where's this female, then?"

A menacingly green Asp X bounces off Tor's hull,briefly shimmering purple as Tor's shields repel the vessel. The Asp comes about, its lights fixed upon me. "'Ello, darling, what you doing there, then?"

I flick the Asp a wave as the 'Vette sucks me in for a second time. After several long moments of bouncing, rolling, swearing and being thoroughly bruised, I roll to a stop and am - once again - handed a bottle of booze. I swig, wipe my lips on my arm and force my hoarse voice to reply, "Crime, you fucking layabout."

There is laughter over the coms. "You sound a bit worse for wear, love!"

"Commander Kharma, I presume?" I growl

"You presume rightly, Darling. Now tell me more about what these fucking clowns have had you doing..."
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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby asteconn » Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:15 pm

These are great reads

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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby SockFiddler » Tue Dec 05, 2017 2:09 am

Why thanks, Not-Dave! Not sure you're going to be so delighted with what I have in mind for the next bit, but I want to get you back in the story somehow...
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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby Loriath » Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:14 am

SockFiddler wrote:Why thanks, Not-Dave! Not sure you're going to be so delighted with what I have in mind for the next bit, but I want to get you back in the story somehow...



The drunk Didgeridoo player in the bar where we get drunk and start a fight that ends up stowing away on one of our ships and then we space him?

:P
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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby asteconn » Sat Dec 09, 2017 11:02 pm

It should be noted I am completely teetotal. I don't need the assistance of booze to be mentally unhinged :D

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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby Loriath » Sun Dec 10, 2017 7:49 am

asteconn wrote:It should be noted I am completely teetotal. I don't need the assistance of booze to be mentally unhinged :D


Yeah we know the type. Suckling your tea and complaining about us beer drinkers and then you run out back to snort Leesti Weed off of a dead hookers feet.
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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby SockFiddler » Sun Dec 10, 2017 8:35 am

"Crime", it turns out, has both a very, very broad definition as well as a very narrow one.

On the one hand, it could be anything that requires weapons, flying over the speed limit, scanning or vaguely doing "stuff" that Ye Olde System Powers generally don't want to get their hands dirty with. On the other, it also means doing something that might require dodging police weapons fire while beating a hasty retreat from the system and not returning for a good while. The way to discern which is being referred to when someone asks "Wanna do some crime?" can be intuited by tone, body language and which ships people start climbing into in response to the question.

Commander Kharma has just two responses to this particular question (though it's worth noting he's not above combining both definitions into a weird, wonderful mega-crime spree involving almost every legal infraction known to man, god or beast): the first is Teh Bast, his Asp, which he'll fly "for a giggle, innit?" or Rocinante, a gloriously over-engineered Python death machine which - as the Commander will attest - is better suited to "hi-jinks and scurrying about".

No matter which vessel is chosen, Kharma flies while wearing an ensemble which (I believe) is designed to bewilder and confuse, perhaps to also beguile and hypnotise - I am unaware of a flightsuit. Maybe he has a custom skin-coloured one, or one of those super-thin transparent jobs?

The emsemble starts with some fuck-awful faded Hawiian shirt which - if I had to place money on it - I would say used to be green and red but now has faded into a vague pink and shitty puce colour. It is spattered with various attempts to recolour it, from little felt-tip pen patches where parrots and ladies in over-sized hats have been coloured in (with particular attention to both beaks and breasts, often on the wrong species), to some kind of spray paint to a sort of surrealist smear section around his left hip. The shirt - as with much about Cmdr Kharma - is simultaneously wonderful and an unequivocal Crime Against Humanity.

This shirt is most frequently coupled with an article of legwear which could only generously be described as shorts by a blind person who is reaching out to touch them, and who might have previously only encountered the concept of short trousers via verbal description. To fully appreciate their - truly literal - crowning glory is to wait until Kharma sits down, and then settle yourself opposite him. Let's just say, there's not much mystery about what the man has in the bank. They are formed from a complicated patchwork of different materials, with so many patches applied that I'd bet good money none of the original material even remains. The patches themselves are made up of, really, whatever seemed to have been handy at the time the patch was needed: there is seat leather, polycarbon skinning, flight suit skin, cotton, some rubber and - once again with appalling magnificence - an A-Team patch (as if such things existed) right over his crotch.

On his feet? Flip flops. He has flight-boots specially designed to accommodate the bar between his big toe and the rest of his toes, though when he wears them over his boots, the left flip-flop has a habit of coming unplugged and flapping about noisily. This sound seems to be a cue for Cmdr Kharma to dance, which he'll do in any position, for any reason, in the middle of any sentence, at any time.

Finally there is the frayed, faded straw hat which, if it isn't on Kharma's head, it's somewhere close by. For some reason that no-one seems able to fathom, Kharma refers to this hat at "The Bastard", which confused me at first as I thought he was referring to his... crew member?

I am shown aboard the Rocinante with the excitement and pomp of a visiting dignitary - which I hadn't expected and find utterly charming - and am shocked (given Kharma's reputation) to find that the vessel is decorated in a clean and functional fashion, lacking the chaos of Tor's 'Vette or the A-Team in general. In short order, I am greeted, seated and there is a perfectly mixed drink in my hand; "I've heard you're a spirits kinda female. Don't like 'em myself, I'm all about the hops".

We chat for a short time about the A-Team, how I "joined" and so on, and then - from behind a compartment door in the converted-to-lounge cargo hold we're in, comes a muffled sort of yelp. I eye Kharma questioningly.

"Oh, yeah... I've got something of yours," he says, emptying his bottle and nodding to his crewman(?) who walks over to the door, moves to one side and then presses the "open" button to reveal, once again trussed -though this time still fully dressed- Not-Dave looking thoroughly annoyed over the over-sized, make-shift ball-gag made from balled-up cocktail napkins and a leather belt.

"Oh, it's Not-Dave!" I exclaim, lifting my glass to salute him before turning back to Kharma. "You gagged him?"

"Wouldn't shut up, Love!"

I ponder this and nod mildly; it's a fair observation. "Mind if I..?" I ask before putting down my glass.

"Fill yer boots, Darling."

Something about Not-Dave fills my tiny little heart with and old ache. Beneath the obvious fury, there is relief and even pleased surprise at seeing me again, and I find that I'm oddly moved by this: it's been a while since anyone's been genuinely pleased to see me approach them. I make sure my hands are gentle as I remove his gag and loosen his bonds. And then I wink and say, "At least you're dressed this time."

"Indeed," murmurs Not-Dave, rubbing his wrists before scrubbing his face with his hands and combing his hair back with his fingers. He looks thoroughly dishevelled, but pulls both appearance and composure together with expected - yet still impressive - speed. "I see you've taken up with pirates," he coolly observes, eyeing Kharma while he takes to his feet.

"Well... pirates..." I start to protest before reflecting a little on our recent adventures. I drop the refusal and shrug. "Yeah. They're pretty fun."

"Teaching you to fly by making you dodge police scans?" says Not-Dave dryly.

"And death!" I add with a grin.

"Only way to learn, matey," says Kharma, offering Not-Dave a hand up. "No hard feelings, eh? Had to be certain."

"What would have happened if you weren't certain?" asks Not-Dave, accepting the proffered hand and pulling himself to his feet. I offer him my half-full glass but he shakes his head and instead takes my seat. I am both impressed and sympathetic; it's a strange combination.

"Puppy, here, would have been cleaning out my closet for a week," replies Kharma, tipping his head to the crew(?) man, who pouts slightly and then gets on with refreshing drinks. Not-Dave requests "something with cherries but without ethanol."

"So... what happened here?" I ask, taking up my glass and then picking another chair between the two men who now eye each other carefully. It's like watching cats arrange themselves ahead of a potential battle.

"It's very simple, really. I was kidnapped."

"Where's your sense of humour?!"

"Where's my 'Conda?"

"Well, funny story, actually..."

"Not so funny."

"There was him, with a lovely big 'Conda, flashing a wanted sign to my scanner."

"I was not wanted. I was wanting information."

"Look here, I see "wanted" on a 'Conda, I ain't gonna hang about to ask questions."

"I thought you'd been taken by pirates," explains Not-Dave patiently, turning to me and sipping his drink. "It's been weeks since our last communication."

Ooof, well, he has a point on that.

"Erm, I was... see, we drank a lot. And there was a lot of flying. And then I got a Cobra, but it blew up."

"A Cobra? How did you afford- nevermind. It's becoming clear now. You weren't 'taken by', you 'became' a pirate."

"That's a strong word, Not-Dave... maybe we dabble a little, but only when there's a really good reason. The rest of the time, we're just clearing up the smugglers the Feds and Imps can't be bothered with."

"Unless it's a T9 filled with booze," interjects Kharma. I wince.

"And so you bought a Cobra and destroyed it."

"For the record, that was part of the plan-"

"Nah, it fucking wasn't, mate," says Kharma with a chuckle. I frown and keep on talking.

"But for those two inches, that landing would have been legendary!"

"It's legendary, alright," replies Kharma, winking at Not-Dave and adding, "She's got a thing for Tor's hose."

"Excuse me?" murmurs Not-Dave.

I roll my eyes, "I've been space-vacuumed up twice by him. That's all."

"Do you intend to remain in this company of brigands?"

"Oi!" objects Kharma.

"Kidnap," adds Not-Dave as a reminder. Kharma shrugs.

"Well, you wanted me to learn how to fly..."

"There are less lawless ways to accomplish this."

"Yeah, but they're slow, boring and don't come with booze, by and large."

Not-Dave concedes this point with a graceful nod.

"And anyway, we're getting her in a Vulture next!" announces Kharma.

"You are fucking joking," says Not-Dave, turning pale.

"Nah, mate - she's a born killer, this one. They all say so; gets right up in their faces as they explode over her hull, cackling over the coms the whole time, that's what they tell me at least. Vulture's the ship for her."

Not-Dave eyes me coolly. I am surprised at the pang of guilt I feel and am moved to try to justify myself - even though everything Kharma has said is true. And then a compromise of sorts hits me and I grin.

"So you have no ship at the moment?"

"I have a ship, just not near here."

"So, one way or another, you need either the cash for a new 'Conda-"

"Which I have..."

"OR the means to get to another ship so that you can then go a purchase a new 'Conda?"

"A federal shuttle would do just as well."

"Fucking hell, mate, that'd be out of the frying pan into the fire!" Kharma is laughing and shaking his head. "Listen here, you're gonna fly with us now."

Not-Dave looks unmoved. I stand up and slap him on the back. "Yep. You just made the A-Team!"

"Oh fucking hell," replies Not-Dave, "Do I at least have time for a shower and a shave?"

"Fuck no! Pirates don't shower - rule number 1"

I laugh, Not-Dave frowns. I salute Kharma and move for the door. "Let's see what this starport has to offer you, eh?"
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Re: So Long, and Thanks For All The... Arrest Warrants

Postby Dudley » Sun Dec 10, 2017 12:03 pm

Excellent..

o7 Dawg
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