BELT Looking For Work

Discussion in 'Open Roleplay' started by Henry Noam, Dec 18, 2018.

  1. Rachel Lei

    Rachel Lei Free Agent of Providentia

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    Rachel accepted the weapon and stowed it in her duffel bag. She had worn it at all times on the Saxon as a sign of authority, that if the crew of savages that kept that ship functioning took a step out of line they would have a barrel and a bullet to explain themselves to, that was the type of ship her old Captain ran, the crew of the Rango were different, they seemed...normal, almost like a family.

    Later, when she floated up the main corridor of the ship towards the galley, they felt almost taken without the cannons familiar weight on her thigh. She assured herself that they were good people and that brandishing it in front of the crew once more would be an insult. She wanted them to feel at ease around her not on edge.

    As she floated into the room again she noticed she was the last one there. the conversation died for a moment as she floated towards the only spare stool, one next to Mirev. The two women made eye contact, “Doc, sorry mi, for earlier. It was wrong, was thinking straight mi,” she floated awkwardly for a moment, the words hanging in the silence like an awkward cloud. To Rachel’s relief, Mirev smiled and touched her middle and index fingers on the opposite side of her chest twice, the belter gesture for thank you. Rachel did the same and pulled herself into the stool and buckled in.

    “I heard before milowda talking about Martian Marines? Built like mountains dem, but one look at a rockhopper send dem packing eh?” The talked late into the night, Rachel even fucking back to her cabin to retrieve a canister of joints she had stashed for after the burn, turns out date had other plans, but now was the next best thing.

    The sweet smoke drifting through the galley, the crew telling stories of their adventures between puffs and swigs of some sort of engine cleaner Malik called “tehkeela”, by the time the crew finally headed off to their cabins Rachel gratefully accepted an aspirin from Afza, though a little more cautiously this time.

    As they floated into their cabin and zipped them self’s up in their couches, she heard Afza from the other side of the small compartment wishing her a good night. With a yawn Rachel said the same, drifting off to sleep with a smile on her face.

    - - -

    The following morning, Rachel was once again alone in the bridge tapping away at the terminal in front of her. They were making excellent time, the slingshot, at the expense of a few stitches, had netted them a massive boost in velocity and they were currently due back at New Providence Station within the next sixty hours.

    Due to the constraints of their mission and the lack of deceleration burn, she had requested assistance from one of the Providence Rescue Fleets Icarus Class Rescue Corvettes to rendezvous within them in the next several hours and through the use of their outboard ship recovery clamps, latch onto the hull of the Rango and slow it down using the Icarus’ robust drives.

    To any outside observer it’d look like a routine engine check for the corvette, no one would notice the small rockhopper cradled within it unless they were right there watching. It was the perfect manoeuvre, it would look like the Rango never left port and the crew would be treated to one of the pinnacles of belter built engineering first hand. She compiled the report and left it on the Captains terminal for him to review, then unbuckled herself and headed for the galley for some coffee.
     
    #81 Rachel Lei, Dec 31, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2018
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  2. Damian Slavko

    Damian Slavko Captain of The Kanyari

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    After waking suddenly from a bad dream, Damian floated lazily up to the bridge and checked his reports. According to Henry, they were making good time and would be approaching New Providence in less than three days. Mack's report assured him that the ship wasn't falling apart any faster than normal, and Malik's was pretty much a grocery list. When he came to Lei's report, however, he took a pause.
    “Foriya?” he asked himself quietly. “Oyé, Mack, kom look at dis!”
    “Ya bosmang, keting?” said Mack as he floated in from the galley, a tortilla hanging out of his mouth. He chewed as he read over the report.
    “Foriya? Nice! Mi ta na sasa dey even had that at New Prov. Cant wait fo XO fo see dis.”

    ♤♡◇♧​

    It was their last day on the float aboard the Durango. Damian woke up, went to the galley for breakfast, and called the crew to the bridge.

    Beratna unte sésata. Fo fly wit tolowda im so so gut. Thank you for being the best crew a captain could ask for, and for not getting me killed. Now get back to work,” he said with a grin. Then he washed down am amphetamine pill with his coffee and lit a cigarette.

    Milowda bi kasi deya.”
     
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  3. Rachel Lei

    Rachel Lei Free Agent of Providentia

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    Rachel had spent all morning tracking public fleet movements in the Jupiter system as they hurried back towards New Providence Station. The Daedalus Rescue Cruiser and two of the Icarus Corvettes had been hard at work, having been contracted out by the Martians to rescue as many sailors as possible that were trapped aboard dead or dying vessels, adrift through the system.

    They operated on the outskirts, avoiding active battle zones and only moving in once the fighting had died down. The Daedalus was the second most expensive vessel ever built by Providence Shipwrights, and the company’s directors were not willing to put it in harms way, especially with close to a thousand rescued and wounded Martians onboard.

    The remaining Icarus, the first completed of the rescue fleet, was nearing Rachel and the Durango now, it’s eight heavy drive cones sending plumes around either side of the Rango during its deceleration burn, the vessel did however, take special care not to damage the rockhopper, having done this countless times in the past.

    “Icarus 1 this is the Durango, I have you on my scopes. Begin approach on vector gamma-seven-two-two,” Rachel spoke into the ancient headset, it’s bulbous microphone extending out in front of her mouth, as the rest of the crew watched on from their crash couches. “Roger that Durango, coming in on slow burn now, cutting drives in three...two...one...” Outside, the stark blue light of the Icarus’ drives disappeared, the bridges LEDs intensifying to pick up the slack, “reorientation in progress...adjustment fire in three...two...one...” the harsh blue light returned as the corvette fired its drives once more for several seconds, the large, modular hull of the vessel slowly cruising up alongside the Durango.

    “Icarus One, I have visual contact, looking mighty fine out there,” Rachel said, grinning widely. The rest of the crew let out low whistles, sounds of awe, some even unbuckling to get a better view through the bridges windows. The Icarus was an unusual design, having been created for belters by belters, it did not have the sleek, armoured designs of the inners, instead it had a massive ablative shield mounted to its front that doubled as a solar energy collector. Behind that were mounted modules of various sizes and configurations, several positioned into a spinning ring offering spin gravity even when on the float.

    The craft looked completely utilitarian, no space was wasted, everything there had a purpose, from the shield to the massive drives mounted on the shields edges. Running along the central shaft of the ship were two articulating arms with magnetic clamps and a variety of other tools attached to their ends, designed for attaching to and assisting wayward ships.

    Rachel looked out from the Durango as the corvette slowly inched closer and closer to them, perfectly matching their trajectory and velocity. “Now dat is a view milowda don’t get every day.”
     
    #83 Rachel Lei, Jan 1, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2019
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  4. Damian Slavko

    Damian Slavko Captain of The Kanyari

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    Henry floated lazily against the straps of his couch and watched as the Icarus matched the Durango's movements until, finally, he heard the sound of clamps hitting the ship and felt the false gravity of deceleration weigh him down.

    Deya it is,” said Mack, and sighed with relief. “Gonya miss being on the float, but looking forward to da payday.”

    “You can say dat again, Mack. Tings are really lining up now,” said Damian, propping up his feet.

    “I thought you said-”

    “Lining up. Not lined up. Tolowda gonya sasa when we get deya. It'll be unmistakable.” Damian moved his hand across the air on the last word.

    “Like you say, bosmang,” said Mack. “Mi just wanya something good fo drink.”

    “We still got some time fore milowda ge xom,” said Henry with a look. “Don’t drink da last fo da owkwa til da next ship get in.”

    “Oxó, come on Xényeri, milowda gut as home xitim,” said Malik. “Let's just relax.”

    “He don't know da word,” smirked Damian.

    “I'll relax when we get deya.”



    ♤♡◇♧​


    The next day, Henry woke slowly and late. He made his way to the galley, ate breakfast, then climbed up to the bridge to start his morning diagnostics.

    “Oye, Henry,” came a voice from the ladder. It was Damian.

    “Oye, Démi, kewe im go?”

    “Gut,” said Damian. “Just grabbing my reports. You think we helped anybody like we wanted?”

    “I mean, we didn't hurt. That's a start. Why?”

    “Nating,” he said as he watched the ship outside through a small porthole. “I guess that is a start.”

    “We cant win the whole war for the Belt all at once, Démi. Its yet to be seen how this will play out. We still don't even know what the pictures show.”

    “I know you're right,” Damian chuckled. “I guess I'm being like Pops, keya?”

    “Na. You being like Damian.”

    The two friends shared a look, and Damian grinned.
     
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  5. Afza Mirev

    Afza Mirev Doctor on the NPS Kanyari

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    Kasi deya, Mirev thought.
    Mirev had been transfixed by the rescue ship since it had latched on to the Durango. It wasn’t until Henry asked her for the third time what she was up to, pointedly this time, that she decided to get off the bridge.
    Now that they were headed back to New Providence Station, things on the Durango has slowed down. She realized she’d been idle much of the time she’d been on the ship; she hadn’t even properly explored the medical bay.
    Heading that way, she made a new mental checklist of things she should do: create an inventory including the various medicines and other medical items she’d brought; organize the bay to her specifications; then a check up for each of the other crew members.
    Patting the auto-doc on what she imagined would be it’s head if it had one, Mirev set to work.

    Several hours later, Mirev emerged from the med-bay looking very self-satisfied. She’d found a white doctor’s coat which she now wore over her jumpsuit.
    She walked into the galley where the rest of the crew sat.
    “Oye, nice coat, doc!” Mack said.
    She settled into a seat at the island with her crew mates, feeling at home once again for the first time since she’d sat with Pasha on his ship.
     
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  6. Rachel Lei

    Rachel Lei Free Agent of Providentia

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    The face of William Buttersworth stared at Rachel through her terminal, the photograph of the man was on the front page of The Belter Herald, one of the hundreds of independent media outlets that operated throughout the system, above the mans face, printed in bold were the words: PIRATE KING TURNED TYCHOON, How William Buttersworth Intends to remake a The Belt.

    The article that followed was written a young journalist around the same age Buttersworth, a type of person Bill seemed to enjoy the company of a little too much. Not that he was an idiot about it, he only ever told the public just as much as they needed to know. The Core AI almost made sure no secrets escaped, through is mysterious methods. Still the article had a surprising amount of information on the mans plans for the system, the station of New Providence and its main industrial export, shipbuilding and AI.

    Not only would the stations sizeable merchant fleet be supported by the Providence Rescue Fleet, a vessel of which was currently clamped onto the Durango’s hull, performing a deceleration burn toward the station, but both of these fleets, and be extension much of the belt and it’s supporting trade lanes, would be protected by the soon to be launched Providence Security Fleet.

    The Security Fleet was impressive, whilst nowhere near as large as either Mars or UNN (indeed the fleet itself barely constituted a single battle group in the great nations warfleets), the fleet would be the first truly belter built, belter run force of warships within the system. What Bill intended to do with them, well that he was particularly tight lipped about, however, he did mention that aggressive expansion into the Jupiter and Saturn systems were a priority, as well as the soon to begin large scale mining of Mercury.

    Rachel shook her head slowly, the man, while ambitious and sincere, had to be mad as a hatter to consider what he was, spreading the influence of one private kingdom across the entire solar system, and somehow not start any wars in the process. “Dis pashang guy,” she mumbled under her breath as she scrolled along the article, every claim more bold than the next.

    “Ah...now it makes sense...” she had reached towards the bottom of the article, where it mentioned the stock prices of Providence Shipwrights and Engineering had practically skyrocketed since the interview. She looked up for a moment to see another member of the crew staring at her quizzically. “Everyting did boy says, as long a story it is crazier than the ting before, makes his company stock price jump,” she took a bite out of a piece of textured fungal protein masquerading as toast, “gotta hand it to him...he knows how to play de game.”
     
  7. William Buttersworth

    William Buttersworth Director of PS&E, Captain of the Revenge

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    William Buttersworth stood in a dock alone, wearing a vacuum suit. His eyes were shut, however a faint glow shone from under his eyelids as his ocular implants projected onto his retinas. Tapped into an external camera aboard the Icarus 1, he watched as the corvette slowly approached the station with a small rockhopper, The Durango, clutched between its articulating arms.

    The station quickly grew from a distant sparkle of drive plumes and lights, to a cluster of busy interplanetary traffic. Freighters and cargo ships lined up to access the stations many ports, passenger ships, rockhoppers and mining craft zipped amongst them, and here and there, asteroid mounted currents kept a watchful eye, warning lights flashing red in an attempt to keep everyone and everything in the anarchic station under some semblance of order.

    As the corvette neared the station, it cut its drives. A few moments after that, the arms released their grip of the rockhopper, before the vessel reorientated and burned off in another direction.

    Aboard the Durango

    The crew were strapped into their crash couches in anticipation for the number of manoeuvres required to bring them into the docking bay. While most ships could simply dock in the outer levels of the station, they had been directed further in, to a private dock away from prying eyes.

    “Acknowledged Icarus 1, taki Taki fo de slow down. Milowda take it from here,” Rachel spoke into the headset, before giving Henry the signal to begin their teakettle burn into the station.

    They passed through the main docks, taking special care not to hit anyone or be hit, they were still running without a transponder and without visual contact in the already busy station, no one would spot them in time. They moved steadily deeper through the station, large doors retracting ahead of them and closing behind them. They passed through the spokes of great spin habitats and dipped under thin membrane spheres containing rows of hydroponic plants.

    “Never flown dis far in mi,” said Rachel quietly as she leaned forward slightly, trying to get a better view of the stations internals. “Surprised there’s not more booby traps down he- oh pashang forty degrees to the left!” As they flew down the tunnel a turret suddenly descended, a PDC gun attached to it spinning up and tracking them. The ship barrel rolled out of the way to avoid smashing into it, the crew being thrown against their straps in the bridge.

    “Crazy pashang...” Rachel muttered, she was aware she was not the only one. “Kasi Deya...” As they emerged from the tunnel, several massive light banks activated, revealing rows of vessels; corvettes, frigates, even a destroyer, all in the final stages of construction. One docking bay illuminated with a red pulsing beacon, “over Deya,” Rachel pointed.

    - - -

    William watched with a small smile as the vessel slowly floated into the dock, RCS thrusters firing to slow the vessel to an eventual stop. The umbillicus extended from the station and with a small puff of gas, it attached to the Durango’s airlock.

    The moment it connected another arm reached out and pulled the drone off the other edge off the hull before retracting into a wall opposite.
     
    #87 William Buttersworth, Jan 2, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2019
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  8. Damian Slavko

    Damian Slavko Captain of The Kanyari

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    The captain stretched his long body against the stations minuscule gravity as he stepped off the ship. He pulled a silver cigarette case out of the pocket of his suit and put one in his mouth. As he took the first drag, Henry clapped him on the shoulder.
    “Finally home, eh bosmang?”
    “Ya. Now fo ge da rooms back and have a drink. Na sasa when da bosmang bik gonya call.”

    The other crewmembers exited the Durango and took carts to the Azul Palace. Sofi, the older Belter woman who owned the Palace with her husband, had saved their rooms for them. Rachel bought them a round.
    “Gut fo see you, sweetheart,” she said as she handed a bulb to Damian and gestured to Afza. “Who da new girl?”
    “Our new doctor,” he said. “Afza Mirev. She, uh, fell into our ship on da way.”
    Sofi chuckled as if it were a joke, and Damian winked at Afza.
    “Oyé, Sofi, miss mi?” said Mack as he planted a kiss on her grey head.
    “Of course, dear. Malik! I didn't even see you last time, these ruchirownya left in such a hurry.”
    Malik embraced her and joined the rest of them at the table. Rachel accepted a bulb and a look of fearful respect from Sofi.
    “To the Durango,” said Mack as he lifted his drink and touched it to the others.

    ♤♡◇♧​

    The next day, the crew awoke to a message from Buttersworth. They met up for breakfast, and then went to the warehouse where they had first been given the slingshot job. Damian knew better than to knock, but he did so anyway. As soon as he did, the door opened...
     
    #88 Damian Slavko, Jan 2, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2019
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  9. William Buttersworth

    William Buttersworth Director of PS&E, Captain of the Revenge

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    “Ah Gentlemen! And ladies! Welcome back!” William stood atop a pile of cargo containers, tinkering with a bulbous glowing piece of technology that hung from the ceiling from several chains, it pulsed with a dull red light, emitting a fiant hum as it did. As the crew walked in, he put down the tool he was using, and replaced a piece of metal cowling over the object, which emitted an odd whistling sound and retracted away from the man, who was working his way down the containers towards the floor.

    Seeing the crews curious expressions, he looked back briefly at the object, now encased in a dark metal dodecahedron. “One of the newer AI cores, they supposed to be placed inside our newest ships but they need more fine tuning...” he climbed down the last box and walked briskly over to the crew, hand outstretched.

    “Captain Slavko, congratulations on a successful mission,” he said, shaking the mans hand vigorously before moving on to each crew member, pausing at Mirev, “I do not believe we have been acquainted, you were not part of the crew when the Durango left port?”

    “I pulled her out of the void one night and she patched me up, she’s part of de crew now,” Rachel chimed in, tapping her index finger on her now mostly healed gunshot wound.

    “Pulled her from the void eh? Seems that this uncanny ability is one of our stations best exporters, we even made a fleet for it!” He laughed, but it sounded more like a bark. “I believe you all got up close and personal with one of my Icarus birds, fantastic pieces of machinery they are!” He finished shaking everyone’s hands and beaming happily at all of them before turning on his heel and striding off down the warehouse with a whirl of his coat.

    Rachel motioned for them to follow him, a small, bemused grin on her face. As they walked, down lights activated ahead of them, illuminating the crew and their path, whilst turning off behind them, returning the cavernous space to darkness. On either side of them, rows of shelves reached up into the darkness, loaded with all sorts of crates, containers and objects. Rachel even spotted what looked like a ancient NASA probe, glimmering in the twilight, before it faded back into darkness.

    Eventually they came to a halt, William was holding a thick black cable that was connected to the now partially disassembled drone, that was until recently attached to their ship. “First things first, your payment,” he extended his arm, pointing towards the roof where a mechanical arm lowered a crate down from a shelf, the lid automatically retracting showing rows upon rows of pristine gambling chips, “count them if you want, but I guarantee they are all there.”

    He plugged the cable into a flat disk on the ground and after a brief moment of whirring and chiming, the device activated, projecting an enormous map of the solar system into the space around them.

    With a flick of his wrist the map zoomed in quickly on Io, concerting to a topographical map, overlaid with images in a wide variety of spectrums, “you expressed the need to know more about our mission. Rachel has mentioned that you have raised the issue a number of times, well today is the point of no return. If you want out you may take your payment and leave, if you want to know more, stay a while. But I must warn you, this information will not only haunt you but mark you, the people who wrought this knew the price that had to be paid in blood and will have no qualms hunting you down.”
     
    #89 William Buttersworth, Jan 3, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2019
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  10. Damian Slavko

    Damian Slavko Captain of The Kanyari

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    Damian walked inside to see the madman standing atop a mountain of junk, tinkering with something that looked alien. He must have seen the crew's wild looks, because he rattled off a bunch of stuff that they didnt understand but was obviously meant to explain. Finally, he said something normal.

    They introduced him to their new doctor, whose origin seemed to impress. Damian winked at Henry as if to say, “good job.”

    After pleasantries, he turned and moved briskly through the warehouse. Rachel gestured them to follow. The crew wound through boxes and crates of ancient salvage that would eventually become a fleet of ships. They came to a stop and Bill gave them their payment. The crew resisted the urge to count it.

    Damian didn't move. His crew members gave him a pleading look, but he remained stationary. Bill's mouth turned up at the corners.

    “Mack, Malik, take the crate of money to the ship. Henry, stay here. You too, Doc.”

    Henry and Afza looked at one another. Henry assured her with a nod that his captain knew best.

    Mack and Malik moved to the ends of the crate and lifted it. In the tiny gravity of New Providence, it was easy. As they maneuvered the crate out of the warehouse, Damian turned back to Bill.

    Milowda wanya ansa,” he said. “We didn't come all this way fo nating. Besides, we got walowda mang kom fo us already.”

    Afza shifted. Damian wondered how long she would last, and felt a bit guilty for dragging her along. She did ask, though. He pulled a cigarette out of his silver case, held it at a distance, and sailed it into his mouth. As he lit it, he grinned at Buttersworth and said “So, what? Kewe milowda gonya du ferí da Belte? What's da bik plan?"
     
  11. Afza Mirev

    Afza Mirev Doctor on the NPS Kanyari

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    Milowda gonya get ansa,” Malik had told her as they walked through the various levels of New Providence Station. Mirev ran her hand over her jumpsuit, smoothing its wrinkles, as Damian knocked on the door.
    Standing on a stack of cargo containers was the man they’d come to meet, Captain William Buttersworth. He greeted them and went back to his tinkering.
    Glancing at her crewmates, she wondered why they’d seemed so intimidated by him when they spoke of him; he seemed like any other Belter they’d met thus far at New Providence.
    She refocused her attention on Buttersworth in time to see him approaching the crew. He shook hands with Mack and Malik before stopping in front of her.
    Looking closer, she realized why they were intimidated. She recognized his ocular implants from the way his eyes flashed; other implants were even more obvious and, examining them, she knew they weren’t all just for gathering intel and communicating with the station.
    “I do not believe we have been acquainted, you were not part of the crew when the Durango left port?” Buttersworth’s voice lilted like he was asking a question, but with his eyes trained on Mirev’s face, she knew it was moreso a statement.
    Mirev opened her mouth to tell Buttersworth who she was, but Rachel answered for her.
    “I pulled her out of the void one night and she patched me up, she’s part of de crew now,” Rachel said.
    “Pulled her from the void eh? Seems that this uncanny ability is one of our stations best exporters, we even made a fleet for it! I believe you all got up close and personal with one of my Icarus birds, fantastic pieces of machinery they are,” Buttersworth said as he moved on to shake Henry and Damian’s hands.
    Mirev realized she’d been holding her breath while Buttersworth had stared at her. She took a deep breath and resmoothed her jumpsuit, then dropped her hands to her sides, assuming what she hoped was a more confident stance.
    She heard footsteps and realized the crew was following Buttersworth and Rachel somewhere. She hurried to stay with them.
    Deep into the warehouse, they finally came to an abrupt stop. Buttersworth was holding a cable attached to a drone in his hand.
    A crate full of gambling chips dropped to the floor. Buttersworth gave them a choice: take the money and run or stay, learn more and join his cause.
    “I must warn you, this information will not only haunt you but mark you, the people who wrought this knew the price that had to be paid in blood and will have no qualms hunting you down,” Buttersworth was telling them.
    Damian directed Mack and Malik to take the money to the ship. He told Mirev and Henry to stay.
    “Milowda wanya ansa,” Damien replied.
    Finally, Mirev thought.
     
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  12. William Buttersworth

    William Buttersworth Director of PS&E, Captain of the Revenge

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    “Haha! Das ist gut!” He said, turning away from them a large grin on his face. Rachel, standing between Bill and the crew of the Rango looked sideways at him, an eyebrow slowly rising on her forehead. Bill knew she thought he was getting eccentric in his isolation, his mutterings with the Core AI, I bet she thinks I don’t even talk to humans any more...He thought, before realising he was standing there staring at the drone saying nothing.

    “Ahem, yes so the drone has gathered a lot of interesting data. A few tidbits, unrelated but still interesting, it pinged several Pirate hideouts that I’ve been looking for for weeks,” He clapped his hands together and rubbed them, before Rachel cleared her throat and shook her head a little.

    “But the real reason I almost killed my godmother and sent you all on a sucidical slingshot around that god forsaken moon as this,” the map rearranged, now showing a 3D cutaway of the moons surface, and zooming in on an installation that covered several thousand square metres, and extended hundreds of metres underground. It had the works, hangars, defensive structures, bunkers, what looked like an industrial centre, domes for hydroponics, it was a fully set up base.

    Someone had poured a lot of money into it clearly, and according to every cartographical database available to the public, it did not exist. “This, as far as we can tell, is Protogens last bastion. There appear to be several vessels under construction, an advanced laboratory, enough equipment to support a large staff of-“

    Rachel cleared her throat again, “Bill, might want to start at de beginning.”

    “Oh?” The man looked slightly taken aback, until he nodded curtly and twitched slightly. The map disappeared and instead hundreds of windows appears, many bearing the watermark: EROS-srvllnc-ntwrk, the dates varying, but most of them from several months ago when Eros first began to act strangely, and then disappeared from the system altogether.

    The windows floated and spun around the crew, camera feeds, terminal recordings, surveillance feeds, everything New Providence Station has hijacked from Protogen when they raided Thoth Station. The feeds showed the inside of Eros, crawling with biomechanical sludge, sinew and bone and peculiar brown-blue substance coated the floors, corridors and coalesced in pulsating blue ganglions that spread throughout the tunnels of the station. Bill twitched again and the windows rearranged, the more horrific moving by the crew who stared on in grim fascination .

    Swarms of hands, disembodied and crawling around like spiders, ribcages with nothing but an arm attached, dragging themselves through the halls, heads of belters, children and adult alike being dragged along sinewy trails through the ship, and all the while the telltale blue fireflies, “whisps” as Rachel called them the second time she watched the footage, flying and flowing in clouds and swarms, glowing their baleful blue light and spreading over everything.

    The horror show continued until eventually William got the signal that enough was enough. “That, beratnas, was what happened to Eros. We found that footage, and still from time to time get glimpses into Eros, when we attacked Protogen months ago in an attempt to dismantle their operation,” the images changed to combat footage of the OPA ships in skirmishes with multiple Protogen Stealth Frigates, boarding teams fighting through corridors full of advanced defence weaponry, and hauling cuffed scientists off to docked ships. “We have many of their scientists in custody, in an attempts to track down Eros and end this experiment for good.”

    The footage changed to that of the inside of a cramped belter vessel, with rows and rows of scientists in VR equipment, being fed information via hundreds of optical fibre cables. “They’re trying to find us the location, but in the meantime, we are getting new sensor readings. These readings have eventually resulted in the discovery of Protogens newest weapon,” the footage changed again, displaying something truely monstrous, “the hybrid.” The footage now displayed recent security footage from Tycho station, not a few days prior to their slingshot mission. “This creature singlehandedly took out an entire station, murdered countless people and for all we know, is doing the same thing there that it was doing on Eros.” He took a deep breath, and looked at Rachel, who began to speak.

    “They call it the Protomolecule. We are not entirely sure how it was discovered, de inners covered their tracks well in dis regard, but it first arrived in our system Millenia ago, aboard Phoebe. From what the eggheads we took from Thoth have told us, it was intended for Earth but got caught in Jupiters enormous gravity well...and there is stayed, dormant...until Eros,” she ignored the fact the crew of the Durango were staring at her in shock, from the fact she had known all this and kept them intentionally in the dark, and that for the first time since they had met her she spoke without a belter accent, completely neutral, “It is some sort of...bio-molecular nanotechnology, it can repurpose biological material at will, it can produce tremendous abouts of energy, enough to move an entire asteroid like a child’s toy,” the footage changed again, displaying probe footage of the UNN & MCRNs disasterous attempts at chasing down and destroying the rogue station.

    “It is capable of intelligent decision making, defending itself and focussing its energy on...something, the eggheads keep calling it “the work”, so far no matter how we ask, they can not give us a straight answer.” She stopped talking and took a deep breath, she had grown pale, a shadow across her face.

    “Thank you Rachel. As you can see we have our work cut out for us,” William began again, completely unperturbed by the horror show had had just exposed the crew to, “Protogen has leveraged this...protomolecule to create hybrid super soldiers, one hit Ganymede, another Tycho, and I believe this facility,” the footage changed back to the various sensor read outs from Io, data gathered from their recent slingshot, “is where they are manuf- creating these...things. It must be destroyed, only then can we return our attention fully to Eros and its destruction.”
     
    #92 William Buttersworth, Jan 3, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2019
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  13. Damian Slavko

    Damian Slavko Captain of The Kanyari

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    Damian steeled himself against what he was about to see. He took a long drag off his cigarette and exhaled slowly.

    “Das ist gut!” said the cyborg pirate king. Then he pointed out several blips on the floating map and revealed that they were pirate hideouts he had been searching for. Damian almost leapt at the man before he saw Rachel give him a signal. He refused to believe he had done all that just for loot.

    “But the real reason…”

    He continued to reveal a compound on Io, before saying a word Damian hadn't heard before. “Protogen.”

    “Bill, might want to start at the beginning.”

    “Oh?”

    A barrage of molten flesh, glowing orbs, gunfire, and flaming ships assaulted Damian’s senses. Flesh melting and reforming into hideous imitations of life skittered across floors made of the same pulsating blue goo. He looked at Henry, whose hand was over his open mouth with his brow furrowed, and at Afza who was attempting to wipe tears from her eyes. Thank God Mack isnt here, he thought. He could take a lot of punishment, but learning what really happened to his family all at once might kill him. As for Damian, he didn't know quite how to react. It didn't seem real. But it didn't seem too far fetched either. Inners had gambled Belter lives against Earther money since humanity's first forays into space. This was no different as far as Damian was concerned. Someone had to pay.

    “...newest weapon, the hybrid.”

    The pulsating blue goo changed to form the silhouette of a human being, but different. Surveillance footage showed the thing attacking people on Tycho, then Ganymede. Damian’s fists got tighter and he felt he couldn't stomach the cruelty of humanity any longer, before Bill pointed out the facility where they were being made.

    “It must be destroyed…”

    Damian picked his magboot off the floor and let it fall with a deep thunk. The sound echoed, but the warehouse was otherwise silent.

    He was looking at the ground. He took a final drag and sent the butt sailing away. His voice was steady and calm. “Ever since mi was a boy, my pampa would ask ‘Detim da belówt im ere da wowl, kemang to xalte wit?’ (When the blood is on the wall, who do you hold with?) and I would answer, ‘Beltalowda.’ Milowda kowl Beltalowda xiya, unte da belówt im fosho ere da wowl. So deng. Milowda xalte wit tolowda. Fo sempere, if you need us. But,” he said like an Inner. “We need to eat too. What's the offer?”

    Henry looked totally incredulous. Damian wasn't sure if it was because he had agreed to another insane job from Bill or because of his greed, but Damian knew he couldn't let emotion get in the way of feeding his crew. He gestured Henry to calm down. Henry threw up his hands and led Afza to a crate to sit down. Damian looked back at Bill, who was grinning. It made him nervous.

    “So?” he said.
     
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  14. William Buttersworth

    William Buttersworth Director of PS&E, Captain of the Revenge

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    Bill pointed his finger at Slavko, whilst looking at Rachel, “I knew I’d like this man, he’s a pragmatist,” he turned and continued to walk down the warehouse a little more, “what’s the point of being ideological when belta can’t eat?” He raised his voice slightly, it echoed off the lofty ceiling of the warehouse.

    Rachel shook her head a little, still amazed at the young mans theatrics, before looking up and around the inky heights of the room they were in, thinking...had something moved up there? She couldn’t seen the roof, only the light banks that hung five or so metres above their heads. “What is the point of any of this if the end result is usually starvation and death?” Buttersworth continued, turning to face the crew while walking backwards, “the point, ladies and gentleman, is somewhere along the way, you do enough good to leave behind a legacy,” he spread his arms wide, lifting them up to the darkness above, where lights began to switch on, row after row after row, “and now you have the tools to do it.”

    A warship hung above where William Buttersworth stood triumphant. The vessel was large, heavily armoured and armed. From its twin engine clusters, it tapered almost to a point at the prow, where nestled between two large armoured structures sat the bridge, a panoramic cockpit of steel and glass. Amidships, on both the dorsal and ventral sides of the vessel, mounted on rotating turrets sat compact GAUSS cannons, less powerful than standard rail guns, but smaller and lighter. “This is the next step in the belts journey to becoming a legitimate and powerful nation in the system. I call it the White Horse, after the first horseman of the apocalypse,” he tapped a button on his wrist and the vessel began to lower down towards the deck, the chains attached to the hull rattling as they unwound. “She is designed to upset the combat doctrine of the inners, by leveraging extreme speed and agility and focussing on rail rounds.”

    He looked around, even Rachel was stunned. William was happy about that, he had kept this whole thing under wraps for so long, he even had to have a few people involuntarily silences to keep them from blabbing about the project. “This is actually the prototype for the real White Horse class security corvette, so you don’t have to keep the name, but she has an experimental AI core inside her, some systems are not exactly complete, most are experimental actually.

    And unfortunately there is no leather upholstery on this model, she’s rough around the edges, but she’s tough and packs a punch. I was going to have her scrapped for parts to build the next generation, but it just so happened those pirate bases we spotted on Io will afford me all the materials required for that so, she’s all yours, if you’ll have her.

    Naturally being an experimental craft you’ll get free reaction mass, air, water, reactor pellets, food, coffee, juice, you name it, at any Providence owned installation in the system. I’ll even throw in a brand new transponder.

    The only catch, is that you would answer to my representative on official missions, you would keep the title of Captain, but the core will only accept orders from one authority, Rachel Lei.”

    Rachel burst out laughing, “you’re pashang joking right?”

    “Let Slavko and his crew decide Rachel, it’s not often a rockhopper gets a gift like this, plus you are a fine gunner and would make a welcome addition to their crew, the Saxon will be in for repairs for many a month,” he turned from Rachel to face Slavko and his XO, “In return I want you to take a team to Io and infiltrate that base. You locate the reactor, sabotage it and wipe that whole god forsaken monstrosity off the face of the system,” the ship finally touched down on the deck with a rumble. “You have two weeks to consider my proposition.”
     
    #94 William Buttersworth, Jan 3, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2019
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  15. Henry Noam

    Henry Noam XO/Pilot of The Kanyari

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    Henry, Damian, and Afza, instead of taking a cart, walked back to the docks where Mack and Malik were waiting. On the way, Henry and Damian discussed Bill's offer.
    “I just don't know about that freaky AI thing, Démi,” said Henry. “I know the one on the Durango was fine, but-”
    “But what? You said it yourself, it's fine. Besides, this is close to a legit job. Isnt it you who's always saying you wanya go legit?”
    “Yeah, but do you really want to captain a ship that won't answer to you?”
    Damian laughed.
    “You dont captain a ship, Xényeri. You captain a crew, and the crew runs the ship. Lei will answer to me as captain, and the core will answer to her. It's all gut fo mi, if you still flying her. You gonya fly her if I say yes?”
    “You know I'll follow you anywhere, kopeng,” Henry sighed. He knew he had already lost. “What about the old girl? What happens to the Durango?”
    “You keep her. She's yours anyway. Thanks for letting me captain her. Maybe now you have some cash you can finally soup her up.”
    Henry stopped short. The Durango, his? This whole day felt like a dream.
    “You fosho, bosmang?” he said, catching up. “Mi feel like it's our ship now.”
    “Wasn’t my matna's ship we sold to buy her. Really. You take her.”
    “Okay. That, uh...that means a lot.”
    “Im ta nating, beratna.” Damian had a way of making you thank him for changing your mind.

    When they reached the Durango, Malik was cooking and Mack was bothering him.
    “Got a new ship,” Damian interrupted. The look on their faces was priceless. They sat down to eat.
    As they ate, Damian and Henry explained to Malik and Mack what happened at Eros, and the offer from Bill.
    “I'm going to the Palace to get shitty,” was Mack's reply. Malik just stayed and cried with them. Henry was reminded again just why they were doing all this, and resolved to follow Damian's lead once again. Once they were done eating, they returned to their normal duties aboard the Durango until it was time for bed.

    Two Weeks Later
    Henry had been working on the Durango and had turned her into a verified hot rod. The facilities at New Providence had afforded him all the tools he needed. A new black paintjob, a tuneup, and the removal of all extraneous add-ons had left the Durango looking like a classic car rolling onto the auction yard. Her drive shone like a moon in the sun.​
    “Gúfovedi!” said Damian as he interrupted Henry's work. “Ketim to gonya put her in a race?”
    “Long time til that,” he replied. “Mostly cosmetic stuff I done. She is gúfovedi though, isnt she?”
    Damian nodded and grinned.
    “Well, today's the day. Gonya go meet bosmang and get the new girl.”
    “Lotta ‘new girls’ lately,” said Henry, impatiently.
    “Kom now, im na so mal. Mi rémbera detim to ta du ámolof da métexeng. Lotta girls back in the day.”
    “Sheng,” he said shortly. Damian looked around awkwardly.
    “Well. Guess milowda bout to go fo da warehouse. Wanya kom?”
    “Do I have a choice?”
    Damian just smiled.

    As they walked up to the warehouse once again, Damian turned around.
    “Last chance. Speak now or forever shut up.”
    No one said anything, not even Henry. Damian approached the door and it opened without him knocking. They entered.
    “Okay, bosmang! We got your answer!” called Damian into the darkness of the warehouse.
     
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  16. William Buttersworth

    William Buttersworth Director of PS&E, Captain of the Revenge

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    Bio
    The crew left, but as Rachel turned to leave, Bill caught her attention and the look that Said “stay a while”. The two belters had not spent much time together in years, Last time Rachel and the Saxon limped into port, she was there for such a short time they barely had time to catch up. One day she was a struggling pirate Captain, in charge of a busted ship and a aging, unruly crew, the next she had several hundred thousand credits in her bank account and an offer from Bill she couldn’t refuse.

    Saving her ass or not, they had spent little time together and the next two weeks were a perfect time to catch up. They stayed in the warehouse late that night, drinking and talking, laughing, even a little crying, until eventually there was nothing left to do except hug each other deeply and retire to their seperate abodes.

    Bill exited the warehouse shortly after Rachel, eying the corvette resting in a pool of light with a satisfied smile, before closing and locking the door and boarding a skiff to his own ship. It was not a long journey, the warehouse sat on the edge of the great foundries and shipyards of the station, and the skiff whisked him away from the lattice of steel girders and habitats out towards a partially constructed vessel several times the size of the corvette.

    Robotic arms, controlled by teams of belters, moved and lifted large plates of armour and steel beams, slowly but surely constructing the first belter built Destroyer class vessel in existance. As the skiff flew along the edge of the vessel, the words Revenge were illuminated along the ships hull, before the tiny vessel slowed to a stop and attached itself to the large ships hull.

    Bill climbed out, and walked down the dark corridors of the Revenge, lit only be the occasional construction torch or welding spark. He eventually stopped at a doorway and with a wink it slid open for him with a sigh. Inside, an ornate crash couch was laid into the cabin, extended down from the roof from polished gimbals. The room was dark and the man tired, and as he climbed into the crash couch it seemed to unfurl, like a giants hand holding a small human being. He fell asleep not long after, a small smile on his lips.

    - - -

    The door to the warehouse swung open, the crew of the Durango entered, and looked around in the darkness for a sign of Bill. His amplified voice made them jump, booming from the growling corvette at the centre of the space, “over here ladies and gents! please step aboard!” As his voice echoed through the warehouse a ramp descended out from underneath the ship with a pneumatic whine.

    The crew, looking mildly wary but also intrigued, ascended the ramp to find Rachel one again sitting on a crate with a mildly bored and irritated expression on her face. The moment she caught sight of the crew however, a smile spread across her lips, “welcome aboard kowmang!”

    They stood in a decent sized cargo hold, totally empty besides the small pile of crates Rachel was previously sitting on. “So I had a chat with Bill and he agreed one some extras, subject to your acceptance of his proposal of course,” she kicked the lids off the crates with her combat boots, one after another in classic Rachel fashion, “one months wages in advance,” another kick, “six months supply of juice,” another kick, “six months supply of real, soil grown coffee,” she ephasized the worlds real, and soil grown, like an old Earther Italian chef, “and last but not least, big kids toys,” the last crates slid slid off revealing stacked weaponry, machine guns, handguns, clips of ammunition, the works. She stood there beaming at them, looking like a kid in a candy store.

    “So, Captain Slavko,” Bill emerged from a doorway, with his customary swagger and half mad grin, eyes glinting with an almost post-human glow, “do you accept my offer?”
     
    #96 William Buttersworth, Jan 4, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2019
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  17. Damian Slavko

    Damian Slavko Captain of The Kanyari

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    Damian ascended the ramp with wide eyes, and his crew followed. Rachel was inside, and her face lit up when she saw them. She said that Bill had agreed to a few extra and then showed them what she meant: guns, drugs, and money. Throw a Belter dancing girl on top and it would have been perfect. Bill appeared suddenly in a doorway, and asked them if they accepted.
    “Ya lik Pashang!” said Damian, as he moved to shake the man's hand. “We wont let you down."
    He was grinning ear to ear like a kid in a candy store. He knew his father would be so proud if he was watching. Maybe Bill would let him take the ship to show him.
    Predictably, Malik went for the galley. Mack began touching everything, and Afza went to check out the med bay.
    Damian and Henry went up to the cockpit and sat in their new, matching crash couches.
    “I don’t even know if I can drive this,” Henry chuckled. Any bad feelings from before were gone. Only pure childish joy remained.
    “Are they lined up, now, bosmang?” said Mack as he entered holding three bulbs of coffee.
    “I'd say so, Mister Makiyama. I’d say so,” said Damian as he took a coffee from him. He took a sip.
    “Woah,” he said.
    “I know, right?!” said Mack as his face morphed into a smile. “It's incredible. I'm gonna start drinking coffee.”
    “Like you need it…” said Henry. Mack gestured it away and walked back the way he came.
    “So? Was I right or was I right? It's all lined up!” said Damian. Henry went sober, then cracked a smile.
    “You were right,” Henry said. “We traded in a junker for both a hot rod and a warship. All because you got drunk one night and walked up to Bill Buttersworth.”
    “Don't forget we got a doctor too, and the money to pay her. I couldn't have done it without you, kopeng.”
    They returned to the rest of the crew, who were all beaming about their new ship.
    “The galley, it has everything, and our quarters are huge.” said Malik while chewing something.
    Bill walked in, and Damian rose to greet him.
    “Oyé, what now bosmang?” he said.
     
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  18. William Buttersworth

    William Buttersworth Director of PS&E, Captain of the Revenge

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    Bill carried a large, rectangular case with him. “Now, you guys leave here aboard your new ship, and I will contact you with details within the next few days,” he lifted the case up and laid it flat on a surface, before popping several latches and opening the lid.

    “Earth and Mars are currently at war, which means there will be a lot of people out there looking to take advantage of folks, if you can help the belt with the tools I’ve given you, do so,” inside the case, a metal device sat amongst layers of foam, the a display at its centre at its centre lit as Bill hefted the device up and slotted it into a nearby receptacle in the wall. “As promised, a new transponder.”

    As he slid the device in it lit up with a pulsing red glow, text appearing on its display: ENTER VESSEL TRANSPONDER NAME

    “It’s time you christened your ship, Captain. Godspeed to you all.” With that Bill modded his goodbyes to the rest of the crew, before embracing Rachel for a moment and then swaggering off the bridge, down the ramp and out of the warehouse.
     
    #98 William Buttersworth, Jan 5, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2019
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  19. Damian Slavko

    Damian Slavko Captain of The Kanyari

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    Damian stepped forward thinking hard.

    ENTER VESSEL TRANSPONDER NAME.” flashed the big metal hunk.

    “Let's give it a real Belta name,” said Mack.

    “One that really fits.”

    Mariposa?” said Malik. “It kind of looks like a butterfly, and it flies.”

    Ret Lush?” said Henry. “Its yellow.”

    “Creative as ever, kopeng,” said Damian in reply.

    “Hey, how about Canary? Its yellow and it flies, like a canary,” said Mack.

    Da Kanyari,” said Damian. “Im wa kapawu Belta. You a He punched it in.

    TRANSPONDER NAME ACCEPTED.”

    Kanyari,” called Damian.

    “Yes?” came a voice.

    “Make me a coffee. Um. Please.”
     

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