Chasing a Ghost
As Roy undocks “Freedom’s Flight” and backs her slowly away from the skyplex, an incoming transmission lights up his comm panel. Administrator Bailey Nelson appears on the small vidscreen. “Going so soon?” he says. “We thought you would be staying at least until tomorrow. If this is about that unpleasant business in the casino earlier let me assure you those Se Duhng will be dealt with. We’ve already contacted a most reputable bounty hunter and transmitted their ID codes and last known course. He’ll catch them within the week.”
The sensors show “CanTankerous” was last headed at hard burn on a course that would take them past Athens possibly heading out of the system core-ward.
“Freedom’s Flight” is designed for hunting with an impressive sensor array and a very fast cruising speed. Catching an old ALST should be easy enough, but those ships were designed for battle. Making her stop will not be easy so you’d best have a plan.
There’s very few places on this side of the ‘Verse to hide a ship like that. Lilac is the closest moon, but it’s way too obvious for them to stop there with The Oasis so close to it. Shadow used to be populated but since the Alliance made an example of it during the war it’s now a blackworld. Nobody can survive there.
Haven has a few miners eking out a living on its surface, but they’re close-knit and xenophobic. If CanTankerous is there, Haven would never turn them over. Athens is home to several bombed out cities that were recently opened for salvage. Jiangyin is a backwards planet full of superstitious locals known to kidnap visitors.
Besides a dozen border moons with populations in the hundreds, the only other possible destination out here is Beylix. United Reclamation uses the planet as a giant junkyard. Not an ideal place to spend a newly acquired fortune but it might be a good place to disappear.
- Rip: Over the com “It’s not your hospitality that’s got us heading out, just remembered I left the stove on back home.”
To the crew “I agree with Knives, we should hang back and follow them till they land. I don’t think they can out run us, nor do I think we can beat them down.”
Next time I’m alone I’m going to search the cortex for the name Otello. Also spend some quiet meditation attempting to Recall anything I may know about it.
- Jet: My curiosity being piqued, I see what I can find on the cortex about Otello, as well. I’ve also decided to keep more complete dossiers (including any info I can find about each on the cortex) about each of the crew members in my electronic journals, though I use heavy encryption on the files to keep them out of anyone else’s hands.
- Roy: To the crew: “So, where to…”
- Rip: To Roy: “Based on their current/ last known direction, you think we could slip around and beat them there? Least that way we might be able to get the drop on them as they go planet side.”
- Knives: I’ll head to the engine room and try to give us more speed to outrun the CanTankerous.
Roy sets a course parallel to the one that “CanTankerous” was last seen taking. It should take you to Beylix in about 60 hours. If that’s where they’re headed, you should be able to pick up the trail within a day. Until then there’s not much needs doing. Out in the black on the rim there’s very little chance of running into anyone else. Course you’ve all heard folks talk… About Reavers preying on settlers out here. About ships swallowed up by the black; picked clean and left on the drift. Most rational folk don’t believe those stories, but it’s probably best to keep an eye out just the same.
As you fly silently through the night, you all take turns watching the sensors while the others grab some shut eye. Jet takes first watch and spends it scouring the cortex for anything he can find about Otello. Besides the Verdi opera, he finds a Baron Eustace Otello. When Rip shows up to relieve him, Jet shares his findings. Rip studies the face on the screen trying to recall anything he’s forgotten, but nothing comes. A former Alliance scientist turned philanthropist, Otello runs a research hospital on Osiris. A guy like that won’t just meet with strangers asking questions. But he may hold some answers just the same.
During Jamven’s watch, the sensors catch the first glimpse of a ship at long range. It’s still too early to tell if it’s the “CanTankerous” from the intermittent readings you can get. It’s flying towards Beylix sure enough. Only it’s not ahead of you but behind. Directly behind by the looks of it. And it seems a bit smallish for an ALST…
- GM: To Jamven: You look at the time on the console. 13:13:13. Definitely not a good omen.
To Everyone: It is lunchtime on the ship. It’s up to you what you’re doing and where you are. Is someone cooking for everyone or is it every man for himself? Jamven’s on the bridge, of course, but the rest of you can be anywhere you like. Let me know where you are and what you’re doing so everyone can get a better feel for life on the ship.
- Rip: I’ll scrape up a little something for anyone interested, can’t promise it will be good but it’ll fill your belly.
- Jet: I spend nearly all of my free time either tinkering on the cortex or on the computer systems of either the main ship or the shuttle we’re converting into a gunship. Since it’s lunch, though, I suppose I’d be eating whatever it is Rip cooked up.
While my notes on the day’s happening are often slim, I write down every modification I do to the ships or my equipment in a lot of detail.
Also, if anyone else on the ship likes to spar, I’m always willing to kick their ass.
- Rip: To Crash “You ever heard of this Otello?”
- Crash: I’m still hung over and groggy as I stumble into the Galley. When Rip shows me the picture I nod. “That’s the guy I was telling you about. I think he might be able to help with your amnesia. During the war he ran all sorts of neurological experiments on the effects of trauma on the mind.”
- Jet: “Might be I should give the good doctor a visit, myself.”
- Jamven: My eyes widen as I notice the triple 13 on the clock and feel a chill run down my spine. I look around for anything that might be wrong, and when I notice the ship behind us, my jaw drops, heart pounds and a sweat breaks on my brow. I light up a cigarette to help keep my head and try to get in touch with the others. “I apologize for ruining your lunch, but I think we’ve got another ship behind us. Can I get someone up here in the bridge, please?”
- Jet: Considering the way my journal says things have been going lately, it’s probably not coincidence. I immediately make my way to the bridge, and see what I can tell about the ship following us.
- Roy: I let the ship list lazily to one side, I run my fingers overs the sensors. How reliable is this new ship, what kind of heat does she pack? Is this crew in some kind of trouble?Maybe I’m worrying too much. I take off my gloves to get a better grip on the controls, and keep my eye on that new ship.
- Knives: I’ll take a quick bite to eat. To Rip: “I think we should change course and glide for a bit. Maybe if we shut down all the stuff we don’t need, they wont see us or just pass us by.”
- Rip: I’ll get to an intercom “Roy, see if you can a little off the path and power down. See if they pass by or turn with us.” I release the intercom “good call knives. I’m going to head up to the bridge, if they head our way we may need more of your magic down in the engine room.”
- GM: To Jet: You’re able to boost the sensors just enough to catch a glimpse of the ship trailing you. It’s hard to make out and it doesn’t match the profile of any ship in the databank.
- Rip: To Jet “Great work Jet. That ship look familiar to anyone? It looks to me like a gunship, an old one, I’d say 30 years or more.”
- Knives: I’m going to spend a plot point here to recognize that ship. It’s Vern Taylor’s ship, the Hong Long. I’ll make it part of my backstory that I’ve run into Vern before.
To Rip: “That’s a bounty hunter ship. I’d know the Hong Long anywhere. Be careful. He’s dangerous.”
- Jet: “So, if he’s not chasin’ us, he’s chasin’ the same guys. I bet if we ignore him now, he won’t pay us any mind. But that’ll cause us issues down the road.”
- Rip: “Are we sure they ain’t coming for us? We ain’t the most savory lot. They may be working on old or incorrect data. We need to either out run them or try and get out of their way.”