A Case of Mistaken ID
Knives hurries to the back of the ship to shut down all the unnecessary systems and prepare to run silent. As soon as Roy alters the course, she kills the engine to let the ship drift along the new course. She leaves the passive sensors on but shuts off the active scans. You’ll still be able to detect the other ship but it’ll have a lot harder time detecting you.
As you drift silently for a few moments the tension is thick waiting to see if it worked. At this distance it’d be entirely possible the other ship never noticed the course change and just assumes your still headed for Beylix. As you all collectively hold your breath, Jet notices several lights on his console blinking. Something is sweeping the black looking for you. They’ve not pinpointed you yet but they’re definitely trying.
The comm system shows they’re broadcasting a transmission on the general frequency. Rip risks tuning to it in time to catch a voice saying “…bound by law to stand down. Shut off your engines and prepare to be boarded. If you do not comply we are authorized to use deadly force. Repeat. This is the Hong Long calling the CanTankerous. You are bound by law to stand down.”
- Jamven: “Hong Long, eh? At least they’re not out for us, although if they did see our ship, they might believe we’re CanTankerous.”
- Rip: “Knives, you on speaking terms or shooting terms with that ship? I don’t particularly want to get in to a dogfight with ’em, perhaps you could not only get them off our trail but maybe send down another.”
- Knives: “Rip, I’ve figured it out! They must’ve switched our ID codes to make the Hong Long read us as them. Those Ri shao gou shi bings!! Chui Se!!”
- Jet: “Can we switch it back?”
- Knives: To Jet: “Those codes are hard wired. They must’ve switched our transponder. So we cant just switch them back.”
- Rip: “Even if we could we still got to get the Hong Long off our backs. They think we are the CanTankerous, and that won’t change just because we ain’t reading as her.”
- Knives: To Rip: “Vern Taylor is a bounty hunter wanting to get paid. As long as we dont get in his way, he should let us off.”
- Rip: “Let’s fire back up and turn to meet him, send him a wave to let him know we ain’t who they think we are. Offer to let them come aboard and check us out. Then as a parting gift, drop a hint that may lead them to think the CanTankerous went somewhere other then Beylix.”
- Roy: “I’ll power back up and hail them if that’s the plan. Surely they have descriptions of who they’re looking for.”
As Roy fires up the systems again, Jet takes a moment to pry off the panel covering the ship’s ID transponder. Sure enough it transmits as CanTankerous. Knives was right. Whoever snuck on the ship must have traded their transponder out for yours. You can either reregister your new ship ID with the Alliance Port Authority which will take weeks of paperwork and red tape or find CanTankerous and switch back.
As soon as the reactor starts spinning again, the active sensors show your ship is being scanned and the Hong Long is matching your new course. Their broadcast cuts off on the general frequency and they hail you directly. Rip leans over the screen and answers the wave.
Before he can speak, he is interrupted by a shadowy figure in a dark red hat. “CanTankerous. This is Vern Taylor of the Hong Long. I have been tasked with bringing you in to face justice. They did not specify if they wanted you breathing or not. You will power down immediately and submit to boarding or I will blow you out of the gorram sky.”
- Roy: To Jet: "Gun it?’ I mouth
- Jet: To Roy: I shake my head. “Let’s talk first…”
- Rip: “Hong Long, this is Rip Van Winkle of the “Freedoms Flight.” Those gorram slags from the CanTankerous have switched out transponders; got us reading as them while they get away. Neither one of us got any time for lolly gagging while they are getting further in the black. And I venture a guess by now you can tell we ain’t a ALST, which I’m sure you know the cantankerous is."
- GM: Vern Taylor takes a long look at Rip and glances at something on his console. “Freedom’s Flight, eh? I seem to recall a Mr. Black captained that ship not too long ago. You make it a habit to run from the law or just got a guilty conscience?”
- Jet: “Can’t it be both?” I mutter to myself.
- Rip: “Mr. Black crossed a line in his dealings with me. Didn’t take kindly to it. He decided to make it right and gave up his ship… and his life. Now on to the quick departure, we weren’t running from the law. We left the station on good terms, and thought we might follow a lead and track down the cantankerous to garner some good will.”
Vern Taylor nods at someone just off-camera then turns back to Rip. “Full well you’re not the ‘CanTankerous.’ I should’ve known they’d try something like that. I’m sure if Black lost his ship to the likes of you, he deserved whatever he got.” A pause. “Seems you’ve eliminated my competition for me. Perhaps I should thank you.”
“I’ve never liked competition all that much. What’s the point in playing if there’s a chance you might lose? And someone always loses.” His hand moves to the console. “It’s too bad we ’re after the same quarry now. I will not lose.” Jet’s sensor display lights up just as Vern’s transmission cuts out. Two 100-lb missiles are closing in quick.
Roy grabs the stick and pushes down hard, rolling ’Freedom’s Flight’ over into a dive. Rip instinctively grabs the seat to brace for an impact which doesn’t come. The missiles overshot but are coming back around. Knives tries to will the engine up to speed, trying everything she knows to spin it up faster.
The first missile slams into the ship’s belly hard. The second knocks Knives to her feet as it hits the main drive. Everything goes black for a moment before the red emergency lights kick in. ’Freedom’s Flight’ is silent except for a gentle breeze that seems to be blowing through her.
- Knives: I’ll get up and check the engine to see how bad we’re hit and try to get power back if I can.
- Roy: “We got a leak! Somebody light a cigarette. You can follow the smoke to the hole.”
- Rip: “Jet, make a note in your journal. If we survive this, that ship and perhaps its lao coh jwei ji neong hur ho deh yung doh buhn jah j’wohn of a captain are going down.”
“Great idea, Roy. You and Knives try and get us mobile, the rest of us are going to find the leak.”
- Jet: When I get a chance, I write “Kill Vern Taylor” in my journal. “Want me to help find the leak or fix the boat?”
- Jamven: "I’ll get right on finding it, I’d love a cig right now anyway." I light up my cigarette and follow the smoke.
Jamven pulls out a pack of Blue Sun cigarettes and lights one up. He savors a few long pulls on it to work up some smoke. Sure enough the breeze pulls the smoke out of the bridge down the ladder to the mid-deck. A pleasant-sounding female voice comes over the ship’s s comms. “Warning. Loss of environmental pressure detected.” The message repeats in Mandarin.
The smoke is drifting along lazily so the breach must be small. It continues drifting into the fore cargo bay where it picks up speed as it is sucked out a hair thin crack in the airlock door’s glass. Looking through the window, you can see the black where the airlock is supposed to be. Without the front loading ramp folded up protecting the bay, landing on Beylix may be a mite tricky.
Knives assesses the damage to the engine. So far it appears minimal. She can’t tell for sure from inside but it looks like the drive shielding absorbed most of the blast. As she does her check she does find something disheartening though. The patch on the compression coil has finally given out. Without it you’ll never hit hard burn, meaning “Hong Long” will have no trouble getting to Beylix ahead of you.
Roy gets all his flight systems turned back on. As he puts the ship through her paces he notices the wheel pulls a bit to the left now and she’s a bit sluggish but otherwise fine. He rechecks his gauges and can see the coolant pressure dropping slowly. “Freedom’s Flight” is leaving a trail of blood behind her in shark infested waters.
- Rip: “We’re bleeding and won’t be able to safely go planet side… do we turn around and try and get repairs atthe skyplex or take our chances going forward?”
- Knives: “We should try to make it to Beylix because the Skyplex didn’t have the compression coil we needed to fix the ship.”
- Rip: “Roy, Jet, between the 2 of you what direction should we take? Engineering says we press on.”
- Jet: “Better forward than back.” I start preparing to head towards Beylix. “What’s the worst that could happen.”
- Jamven: I blow a smoke ring, then choke and cough when I hear Jet. “Well, that window could break and we all get sucked out into the black; Someone could follow our blood trail and blow us to smithereens…and into the black; You know, I think dying in space could very well be the worst.”
- Jet: I grin. “There are worse things than death. As far as I can tell, I die every time I take a nap. Still, we’ve got to go somewhere, and our mechanic says there’s no balms for our wounds at the skyplex. Plus, a living dead man we need to take care of is going in the opposite direction.”
- Jamven: “I don’t mind dying in battle, or even of disease, I just don’t want to be turned inside-out in space. I’m all for getting to Beylix asap. I’m just antsy because the only thing separating us from certain horrible death at the moment is a cracked window.”
- Jet: “I mind dying regardless of the cause. No use living in fear of it, though.”
- Jamven: "That is very true, though I wouldn’t exactly call it fear."
- Rip: “Engineering and navigation agree, we press on. Everyone be on your toes, no telling who might show up to take another bite out of us. What’s the new ETA on us getting planet side?”
- GM: It was originally a 60 hour flight. You have flown for 36 hours putting you 60% of the way there. The last 40% will be slower but you should be there in another 36 hours.
- Roy: I say we keep going. Let the momentun carry us as far as possible.