Bigger Fish
Summary: Responding to a tip about a potential big score in the Shinaran Drift, Taeren M'nammrann rounds up a crew to scope it out. Tay and his crew quickly learn that in the sea of salvage, there's always a bigger fish somewhere ...
Cast: Taeren M'nammrann, Ruin, Rukais, Jantine
Air Date: 2006.07.11

Rukais follows up to Taeren quickly, "We just taking the one?" he questions, looking across to the Hobart in annoyance, then to the Franklin.

Taeren gives Rukais a scornful look as the Riposte's hatch opens in front of him. "You're suggesting I take a ship out without a full crew?" He jerks his head inside. "That's not how I run things, not when it's the Drift we're talking about. All aboard!"

Taeren boards the IND Riposte.

Main Deck <IND Riposte>

This area functions as the main living and recreation area for this ship. Towards the fore, two sets of bunks line the walls, each with a pair of lockers, and a small computer screen for each crewmember. Behind this a small microwave, thermal inductio and deep freeze unit provides the crew with a warm, if slightly bland food supply. Set between this and the final area is a single airlock, and finally behind this is a seating area.

Jantine enters from the airlock. Jantine has arrived.

Ruin enters from the airlock. Ruin has arrived.

Rukais enters from the airlock. Rukais has arrived.

Taeren walks to the far wall and leans against it. "Gentlemen, here's the drill," he says, gesturing fore and aft. "Ruin, you're banished to Engineering to make sure we don't explode on the way into transition space. Jantine, take us to FTL on a course for the Shinaran Drift. Sarge, I'll show you to the guns. I believe you and they have met." He claps his hands together. "I'll announce crew assignments and give the briefing once we're in Moebius space. Let's go." He heads forward.

Ruin looks intensely embarrassed. "Sir - I've never been on this ship before. Which way?"

Rukais shakes his head, "Always the guns..." he mumbles, "You know they aren't my hotspot. I just need to make that clear."

"I know, Sarge, but you've gunned for me before and I know you don't need practice behind the stick. Let the rookie cut his teeth taking us out. If it looks low-threat when we get insystem I might rotate you." He grins at Ruk. "Sorry, I thought it was inherent in engineers to home in on the moving parts. Engineering is aft, cockpit is fore. This is a small ship, part of why I like it. Less stuff to worry about falling off."

Jantine nods at Tay's request "Yes sir" he says as he walks towards the bridge, somewhat grateful that Taeren was putting him behind the helm, but at the same time rueful that Rukais will hate him for this.

Ruin blushes hotly, but nods. "Yes, sir." He starts to head aft with the air of an explorer in fascinating but possibly deadly new territory.

Rukais nods, "Sounds fair." he heads through towards the cockpit, "What am I looking to operate?" he looks round to Taeren.

"I'll show you as Jan's taking us out. C'mon," the Timonae suggests, following Jan and Ruk forward.

You head into Bridge <IND Riposte>.

Bridge <IND Riposte>

The bridge before you is cramped, with no natural view of space what so ever. Three consoles are spaced in a triangle, two towards the holographic viewscreen to the fore, and one command console set further behind. However, despite this lack of space, this ship is clearly a military vessel, with clean polished lines, and a look of precision to everything.

Jantine arrives from Main Deck <IND Riposte>. Jantine has arrived.

Rukais arrives from Main Deck <IND Riposte>. Rukais has arrived.

Jantine walks onto the bridge and gets himself into the pilot's seat, he is obviously at home. He straps himself in and begins to start up the craft.

Taeren enters the bridge swiftly and comes to rest at the command and communications console, shifting to one side and crossing his legs as he reaches for the crash webbing. "Take us out quick as you like, Jan."

Rukais ducks underneath a monitor before slipping himself into the gunner's seat, "Right then." he says, leaning forward and pulling up the weapons report, "Someone's done my job for me, all weapons are charged." he smirks slightly and leans back, "I'll be asleep until we get shot."

Jantine nods at both of them, replying with a "Yes sir", he continues bringing the craft to life while saying "Tay, can you clear our flight path while I finish these start up procedures?"

Taeren snorts. "Flight path. We're the Riposte. The flight path will clear *itself*." He grins evilly. "Besides. Think of it as practice." The Timonae looks down at his console and starts to work. "I'll plot you a reasonable course. The telemetry'll be done by the time you leave the docking bay."

Jantine cocks his head slightly, but complies, he finishes up and takes the craft out of the hanger.

>> Outside the Ship: The IND Riposte departs from the Hancock Station's docking bay

>> Outside the Ship: Changing vectors, the IND Riposte breaks orbit and accelerates outbound.

"IND Riposte, this is Hancock Station," comes a puzzled voice. "You're not cleared for take-off ... what are you doing?!"

Taeren grins at Jan and activates the comm. "Hancock, this is Captain M'nammrann," he begins. "If I told you, I'd have to kill you. We can find our own way out. That is all."

Jantine shakes his head, and continues flying.

The forward view becomes a wash of shimmering cobalt planes unfolding as the ship slices through the fabric of normal space to skip between the stars ...

>> Outside the Ship: Its array of jump crystals shimmering a bloody crimson, the IND Riposte slices through the fabric of normal space in a blaze of shimmering cobalt planes, to skip between the stars ...

Rukais raises an eyebrow, opening one eye, "So what is this... this tip, you have?" he questions Taeren.

Taeren nods to Ruk. "Tell you in a sec," he says. "Jan, everything's stable? We're clear at FTL on your end?"

Jantine nods "Yes sir, all stable." he says, turning around in his seat he looks at Rukais, then at Tay as the conversation progresses.

Taeren grunts and reaches for the intercom. "Good. Head back to the wardroom and fix yourself some coffee if you like."

>>>> From the Bridge : All hands to the wardroom for briefing. This is the Captain.

You head into Main Deck <IND Riposte>.

Main Deck <IND Riposte>

This area functions as the main living and recreation area for this ship. Towards the fore, two sets of bunks line the walls, each with a pair of lockers, and a small computer screen for each crewmember. Behind this a small microwave, thermal inductio and deep freeze unit provides the crew with a warm, if slightly bland food supply. Set between this and the final area is a single airlock, and finally behind this is a seating area.

Rukais arrives from Bridge <IND Riposte>. Rukais has arrived.

"Good job rookie..." Rukais garbles through a snigger, "You might survive yet." the words come out, but they don't seem to fit right, more so for Rukais himself. "Y'know... Figure I have to say these things if I'm going to be training you."

Jantine arrives from Bridge <IND Riposte>. Jantine has arrived.

Taeren chuckles as he leads the trio from the bridge through into the main deck. "Don't force anything now, Sarge," he chides, headed for the food and beverage dispensors. "Who wants coffee?" He asks, over his shoulder, waiting for everyone to get settled.

Jantine immediately says "Me sir." as he takes a seat.

Ruin comes up from aft, and takes a seat. "I would, please," he answers with relief.

"Three cups then," the Timonae replies, and a small, blotchy, gunmetal-gray apparatus bolted beside the food processor -- clearly jerry-rigged -- begins to make slurping, bubbling noises. "Okay. So here's the reason I was in such a hurry: a friend of mine sent me a message from one of the stations in the Drift; there's a big fat something just showed up on sensors in the Cluster, but nobody's got the guts to get close enough to see what it is. They're all caught up in rumor and legend and fear, think it's a Drakarian warship come to clean out the Drift again. Which is a load of bilge. And since no one else in that part of space apparently has the balls, it means we can jump all over it.

Rukais blinks, "You're insane." Rukais sits himself down comfortably, smirking, "Luna knows, this isn't going to be hitchless."

Jantine nods slightly, both at Tay's comment and Rukais', a look of intrigue coming onto his face "This means we'll be in combat, right sir?" he inquires, obviously interested.

Ruin is clearly not thrilled at that prospect. "...How much is known, or guessed, about this 'something', sir?" he asks. His eyes are fixed, of all things, on the jerry-rigged coffee machine. "What is your hope?"

Taeren holds up a finger. "No. But we're going to the Drift, which means we might be in combat, and we're going to the Avernus Cluster, the most dangerous part of the Drift, which means we'll *probably* be in combat. But it isn't a sure thing," he corrects. "Sensors in the Cluster work spotty at best. We just know it's big and slow-moving, like a derelict battlecarrier that's hit enough stuff on the way to have slowed down from however fast it was going when it was blown up." He licks his lips. The blurbling device sighs to a halt and dings, a-la 1950s toaster. He holds up mugs under the thing and smacks the top three times in succession, filling three cups with coffee. "And I'm not insane. I know the four of us are all very good at what we do, and the only way we're going to bring in worthwhile equipment for the Militia is by taking the big risks. Big, calculated risks, big returns. Simple equation." He looks over at his crew. "Sugar? Milk? Wait." He frowns. "We don't have either. So just take your damn coffee. Other questions?"

Rukais asks, "How fast can we haul it out? Sub light, we won't be escaping any battles with that thing tied to us." he raises an eyebrow, "This thing isn't exactly a tankship."

Jantine gets up enough to take his coffee and sit down, he takes a sip, and listens to the discussion, obviously not in his comfort zone anymore.

"We've got the plasma arc cutter," Tay replies. "We've got guns. There's no way something that big can be 100 percent usable anyhow. So some of us may have to stand guard in the ship while others scout it out in a spacewalk, cut off the bits we want, lash them to the ship and make it home." He nods to Jan. "We've done it before. I'll probably want Ruin to come EVA with me while Jan and Ruk stay in the ship, if a spacewalk is necessary."

Ruin gets up to get his coffee, but doesn't sit down again - evidently preferring to think, and drink, standing up. "Ahhh," he says softly, exhaling over the top of his drink to cool it. His expression and tone are distant, thoughtful. "It may be anything...curious how it just 'turned up' on scanners." He sips at his coffee, breath a little shaky. "But worth a look..." a slight smile is almost hidden by his beard. "No offense, captain, but - if need be, how quickly can we run away?"

Rukais nods, "Ah, yes, shipwatch. Now, I don't mind that." he leans forward, "I'll get a coffee if that's the case, these things take time enough." he looks to Jantine, "Know any downtime games, Jantine? No... No, not eye spy."

Jantine smiles "There was one we played a lot of back on Luna" he says as he pulls out a deck of cards seemingly from nowhere "Who wants in?" he askes, not even bothering to explain anything.

"Very," Tay replies. "This is a fast ship. Jan is a good pilot. And if he can't fly, Ruk is a good pilot. And if Ruk can't fly, well, I'm a fucking amazing pilot. If you can't keep the ship in one piece and running alone, I can head back and give you a hand while the others get us out of danger. I'm confident in this crew and it's abilities." He flashes a toothy grin. "This ship and this crew are more important than any potential gains. If it looks like I might lose pieces of either, we cut and run as fast as possible. Chance is a part of life, but don't think you're not my priority. That's the way command works," he says, nonchalant but deadly serious. "We're going in, we're going to figure out what it is we're looking at, and if it looks shiny, we take it. If anyone wants to get between us and it, we'll have words, and if words don't work, we shoot. Consider that your rules of engagement." The Timonae sets his coffee down and stands straighter, looking around. "If there are no other questions, then on to crew assignments. Sarge, I've seen the look on your face when you shoot. Secretly, you want to man the guns, and that's where you'll go. Private Osligoth, you've got the helm as acting Coxswain. Ruin, you're my engineer. I'll want you on the bridge unless something breaks." He checks his watch. "Finish your coffee and report to the bridge."

You head into Bridge <IND Riposte>.

Bridge <IND Riposte>

The bridge before you is cramped, with no natural view of space what so ever. Three consoles are spaced in a triangle, two towards the holographic viewscreen to the fore, and one command console set further behind. However, despite this lack of space, this ship is clearly a military vessel, with clean polished lines, and a look of precision to everything.

Leaving a torn cascade of brilliant cobalt stars and a shattered crimson blaze in its wake, the ship slices back into normal space.

>> Outside the Ship: Shinaran Drift

>> Outside the Ship:

A wide swath of badlands halfway between Demaria and Sol, this region of space hosts millions of drifting space particles, from hydrogen to silicon. Some form into fields of asteroids and planetoids, while others merely fill space with sensor-clogging debris. Five red dwarves are scattered about the region, pulling the space dust and debris into organized rings. Comm traffic is strong and constant between the dozen or so colonies that pepper this region, and lumbering mining ships are a constant presence.
    A fleet of mining freighters emerges from one of the asteroid fields with an old Kestrel zipping around their perimeter for protection.

>> Outside the Ship: The IND Riposte enters the area, slicing out through a tear in normal space, leaving a torn cascade of brilliant cobalt stars and a shattered crimson blaze in its wake.

>>>> From the Bridge : All hands to stations. We've arrived at the Shinaran Drift. All hands to stations. This is the Captain.

Jantine arrives from Main Deck <IND Riposte>. Jantine has arrived.

Taeren stands at Helm, casually guiding the ship at a slow drift away from the jump point without sitting down at the controls. His eyes, reflected against the viewscreen, exhibit a wariness belied by his body language.

"Here, sir," says Ruin, coming in.

Jantine walks in quickly, but comes to a halt as he sees Tay at the controls, he tries to stand out of the way of the door, but it's hard to in the cramped bridge. He says nothing bu simply watches Tay.

Rukais arrives from Main Deck <IND Riposte>. Rukais has arrived.

Taeren looks over his shoulder at the pair. "Jan, take over at Helm," he says. "Ruin, there's an engineering monitor to your right. Keep an eye on it." The Timonae gestures for Jan to relieve him -- he's standing over the helm controls -- and moves back for the command console. "When you get strapped in, head for the Avernus Cluster at full speed. You should know the way by now."

Slips through and practically launches himself through into the gunnery chair, through some sheer act of mechanical skill, he manages to retain his coffee cup without a great deal of spillage. It gets placed on the floor next to his chair, after a quick slurp.

Jantine takes over and straps himself in, he breifly scans the controls, making sure that everything is normal, before heading towards the Avernus Cluster.

Ruin moves to do as bidden, sitting at his console and calmly bracing himself as well as he can for momentum, his focus on the screen.

>> Outside the Ship: Avernus Cluster <Shinaran Drift>

>> Outside the Ship:

A dense and highly dangerous asteroid field, the Avernus Cluster holds many secrets. Asteroids crash and bump into each other here, each large chunk of rock denting and cracking with every blow until it smashes into bits. A few hundred thousand hm space exists near the center of the Cluster, and there's an extremely high radiation reading from that area.
    A pockmarked mining tender ventures into the Cluster, attaching itself to a planetoid like a parasite.

Rukais idly sips at his coffee, feet up on one of his currantly unpowered panels, he sets a slight contrast to the others but he is still tense.

>> Outside the Ship: Outside, the Avernus Cluster is as it usually is - that is to say, full of small fast-moving objects and sparsely scattered ships of unknown intent, neither of which are apparent just now. The bright radiation core at the center of the Cluster gleams with an eerie light, and drifting asteroids form shadows against its luminescence. It is quiet.

Jantine is obviously on high alert, scanning the veiw screen for any threats, hands gripping the controls.

Taeren checks something on his console. "Jan," Tay begins. "Adjust heading as follows: x-axial 30 degrees, y-axial negative fifteen. Cut speed to three-quarters and duck and weave as you see fit. Ruin -- give me a sensors report; try and read through that background radiation, let me know if you can pick up our mark. It should be close enough to the Cluster to read by now. Lemme know if we've got company, too." He looks over at Ruk, darkly. "Finish your coffee, Sarge. If you spill all over my floor I'll be mad."

_Ruin sees a sensor readout:_

Major Power Signatures: 3
Major Mass Signatures: 2

-- Signature 1:
     Mass: Capship+
     Energy Readings: Capship+
          - Visible-Spectrum
          - Microwave-Spectrum
          - Gamma-Spectrum

-- Signature 2:
     Mass: **ERROR**
     Energy Readings: Spacial_Anomaly
          - Visible-Spectrum
          - Microwave-Spectrum
          - Gamma-Spectrum
          - UV-Spectrum

-- Signature 3:
     Mass: Asteroid
     Energy Readings: Nominal
          - Microwave-Spectrum
          - Gamma-Spectrum
          - Comm-Band

Rukais nods his head reassuringly, "I'll make sure to aim for rookie's crotch, there." he continues to tip the cup against his thinned lips.

Ruin frowns at his sensors. "...I think I've found it," he says slowly. "How big did you say this was, sir?"

Jantine makes the appropriate addjustments in his course, and drops the speed as ordered. He doesn't appear to even register Rukais' comment, but continues scanning the space in front of him visually, still fairly tense.

"Very big," Tay replies. "See something?" He leans forward.

Ruin frowns. "Sir, the biggest thing out there's /glowing/. But there's definitely a ship out there - asteroid sized. Is that big enough?"

>> Outside the Ship: There's one that slipped by: directly in front of the ship, two large, slow moving chunks of rock headed vaguely towards the Riposte collide. The combined force of the two objects sends a smaller chunk of rock directly at the Riposte - /very/ fast.

Rukais pulls his head back, giving Ruin a bright eyed stare, "What the hell do you mean it's glowing..." he looks down at his emptied coffee cup, sticking it down by his chair again and moving into an upright position. Jantine rolls his Piloting with a 1 modifier. Use a feat (+help feats) to try to overcome the impossible. The result of the roll is Legendary (4).

"Glowing." Tay points at the pulsating center of the Cluster. Then his eyes widen as he sees the rapidly approaching asteroid, and he barks, "Shit! Brace brace brace!" The Timonae places his feet flat on the floor and tucks his head between his knees.

Jantine is acctually paying attention to the screen in front of him, and sees the piece of rock coming straight at them, his fingers dance across the controls as he decelerates, whips into action and spins in a fast downwards spiral accelerating all the way, out of the path of the incoming rock. His fingers race over the controls again, pulls up, and within seconds is back on their previous course, going exactly the same speed. He breathes out and keeps heading forward as if nothing happened.

Ruin does the same, leaving the maneuvers to Jantine. "Yes, if the center of this cluster has a huge mass, sir," he says in a tense growl. "I've not been here before - does it?" he hangs on with gritted teeth as Jantine dances with physics, but other than looking a tad dizzy seems okay. Rukais

Rukais watches as the screen shows a pretty moving picture in which only Jantine plays a part, then he looks over to Taeren and raises an eyebrow, "A little underconfident, Captain?"

Taeren pokes his head out from between his knees. "We're alive?" He asks, then chirps: "Good." To Ruin, as if nothing happened: "I don't think the center of the Cluster really has *any* mass, just radiation. We're looking for something really big, with a shiplike power signature." He smirks at Ruk. "There's a fine line between confidence and foolishness. If you're not flying the ship and you see something might hit the ship, you tell everyone to brace for impact by repeating "Brace" as many times as it'll take for you to get understood. I trusted Jan to avoid danger. But it would be irresponsible not to prepare for the worst."

Jantine simply heads on his current course, eyes still tracing across the veiwscreen watching for any other dangers.

Ruin relaxes a bit, with a little 'whew' of relief. "Nice job, Jan," he says, and then gets back to the subject at hand. " guess is that we've found it, but if we have, then we've also got company. It's the smaller mass that has a comm system broadcasting."

"Oh surely not, it's inhumane to make anyone have to put their head between -those- legs." Rukais drawls, looking forward, "Anyway, think that was a good enough wakeup call, nothing like a nice cup of fritz and a near death experiance to wake you up in the morning." he switches something on his controls.

Taeren frowns. "Weird ... Sarge, stay alert. Ruin, wire the telemetry to Jantine; Jan, you know what to do with it. Get us there quickstyle."

"Here, I'll send both," says Ruin, touching keys. "One or the other has to be what we're after. When we can see them, we'll know."

Jantine looks down at the controls breifly before accelerating quickly towards the intended targets, still tense as ever.

Jan drives the ship past a cloud of luminescent gas and there it is, above the ship and to port: immense, bristling with rusted steel and the occasional still-functioning running light -- part rock, part keel, this object is immediately reminiscent of Hancock Station. Antennae and the occasional weapons port jut, inert, from the object's surface.

Taeren leans forward and squints, setting his elbows on his knees. "Ruin, how close are we? I've got a feeling ..."

Rukais watches the screen carefully, raising an eyebrow as he pushes himself back into the rest of his seat, "OooooOOOOOooohhh..." Rukais says, "Can we stop going forward now... Like... Right now."

Jantine looks around wildly for whatever Rukais has obviously seen. He's looking so fast that he can't see anything, and looks as if he's very, very worried.

"Backing Rukais," says Ruin, eyes on his screen. "Just for the moment - always better safe than sorry, and I really have no idea what this is. I'm /hoping/ it's not a huge ball of flaming rock or anything like that, but I hate relying on luck..."

"In the end, luck's all you've got," Tay says flatly. "Jan, cut to stationkeeping. Ruin, our shields are up, right?" He asks, eyes on the viewscreen.

Rukais aims a finger upwards, "It's got light. And they don't appear to be smouldering cyberfires." he opens his mouth wide and holds a hand over it, "Someone should make like... a grapple hook device that can just shoot out like..." Rukais helpfully adds rather emotive actions with his hands, "And then grab whatever we want..." he nods, "That... that is my thoughts. Well, other than possibly upgrading the gunning station here to see if it picks up Lunabroadcast 1, good shows on that."

Jantine looks up in awe at the hulk before them "What do you want me to do sir?" he askes as he stares at it.

Ruin stares at it. "Sweet mother of God," he says softly. "It's still got /power/."

"Ahead one-quarter," Tay says mutely, jaw agape as he follows the others' eyes to this immense monstrosity. "Buzz the surface. Ruin, try and gather whatever data you can on it. Sarge ... stay frosty. I've got a feeling," he repeats. "Ruin, how much power does it have, exactly?"

"I think only enough to run those lights," he comments distractedly, returning his attention to his screen. "Ai - sir, that very large /other/ mass that I said was probably a ship? Has powered up and is headed right for us..."

"A feeling, oh, great. Now I can sleep safely, because I can always rely on your feelings." he looks across to Taeren, "Captain, if this ship turns out to be occupied... you know, not-very-derelict... I'm going to give you some great and wonderous new feelings." he wraps a hand around his joystick, looking at Taeren mock sourly.

Jantine nods slightly, "Yes sir" he mumbles, and has to tear his eyes off of the hulk before he can adjust his course, as Tay ordered.

"Watch your mouth, Sarge," Tay begins to Rukais, slowly, sitting upright in his seat. "Keep up that attitude and you'll wind up 'feeling' what it's like to leave the airlock without a worksuit." Ruin's comment makes his eyes widen and knuckles whiten. "Jan, all ahead full. Evasive, get us out of here. There's a bigger fish than us at work out here."

Just as Tay makes the statement, a series of angry red flashes zip past and out into space.

Jantine does as ordered, putting on evasive action as the beams of light streak towards them.

"Oh! You love my lip, I can tell." he gives the Captain a coy look, "It's my uneffable charm that got to you first, isn't it?" he looks out at the screen. "You know..." Rukais moans, "I'd complain about what happened to the shoot first, ask questions later generation." he watches as suddenly everything starts happening, "But I realised that it didn't die out... It just moved... here..." his voice becomes light and rather raspy as he chokes up slighly, "Such a.. simple concept..." he whines, before looking down and getting back into action, he pushes down on his triggers, aiming what shots he can make back to the attackers.

Silently, and without warning, a meteorite drifting directly in front of the Riposte's nose shatters into a million particles of dust: vaporized by mass-driver slugs meant for the Kestrel, but dodged thanks to Jantine's fancy flying.

The enemy in Rukais' small gun-mount camera is an enormous, hodgepodge gray mass. Then, just as he fires, it suddenly isnt; all of his four turbocannon blasts grow into tiny specks in the distance.

"Put some speed on, it's not very fast," says Ruin, eyes and attention locked on his own screen. "My God, the power on that thing - it was /waiting/ for us. And it's got a /lot/ of guns."

"No argument here," Tay chimes in. "Ruk, convince 'em not to chase after us."

Silently, the enormous hodgepodge cruiser continues to stalk the Kestrel.

Jantine accelerates as fast as he can, desperate to get out of here alive, he ducks and weaves trying to avoid any more fire.

Rukais jumps back as he fires, "Hah. Take a few well aim... o...kay..." he frowns at the miss, tapping his screen a moment before trying that again.

These shots hit, square-on, but shimmering energy prevents any results: shields block all four of Rukais' blasts, the vessel plowing on as if nothing happened. It is, however, rapidly shrinking in the distance.

Eventually, the capship appears to stop and round on its new, larger prize.

Ruin stares at his screen. "Trap top to bottom - that hulk's powering up, it's going to fire on us," he says in a tone more intense than loud. "Get us /out/ of here."

"Lin be a Lady," Tay breathes, white-knuckled. "Jan, you know what to do ..."

Jantine continues the evasive action, drawing further and further away, but still not wanting to take any chances. "Oh you're having a laugh. You don't shoot straighter than that!" Rukais explodes in annoyance at a second missed shot, "Turn around! I want some more shots, damnit." he pauses, hearing Ruin's comment, "Second thoughts, maybe I had some duff shots, huh, I can live with that."

Ruin laughs softly, a low, growling and almost bitter sound, without ever taking his attention from his screen.

A trap, certainly ... but for who?

The large capship slows as it approaches closer to the enormous asteroid than the Riposte did, nuzzling within easy spacewalk distance. A vigilant observer might see an airlock opening, and then ...

Shimmering silver strands lash out from the asteroid, wrapping around and around the capital ship. With the undulating impression of movement, they tighten, and the ship has the impression of *stretching* ... and bending ... and twisting ...

Until, like a destructive toddler already bored with a new toy, the asteroid's writhing cables wrench and snap the ship in two. Debris goes spinning off in all directions, the cables drawing their new find (neatly split into manageable chunks) into suddenly gaping docking-bay doors.

Jantine shudders and takes the craft outbound.

Taeren raises both eyebrows. "They saw a juicy find," Tay says, as the Riposte leaves the Avernus Cluster behind. "They scoped it out. They waited for their competitors to leave." He chuckles. "Then they chopped it up and took it home." The Timonae shakes his head. "This is a crazy place, guys. Jan, take us back at your own speed."

"Dude." Rukais voices across to Ruin, "You have to sort that laugh out, seriously, that's creepy man." he boggles at him some more, "What are you, an evil doctor set on destroying the world..." he smirks, not having noticed what was happening with the ships, he looks across to Taeren for joke approval before following his gaze and going agog. He's left speechless.

Jantine says nothing but flips a few switches and takes the craft into the jump. After a few seconds, he slumps over at the controls.

The forward view becomes a wash of shimmering cobalt planes unfolding as the ship slices through the fabric of normal space to skip between the stars ...

Ruin watches the ship get shredded with a flat, neutral expression, and then exhales slowly. Only after a few moments of thoughtful silence does he appear to realize someone had spoken to him. "Hm?" he asks. "Oh...please. I've already heard most of the storybook villain cliches out there." He takes a deep breath. "I'm just glad it wasn't us, and that we now know what it is that's out there."

After a few moments to shake himself out of his inner world, Ruin notices Jan's condition. The sigh this time is more one of regretful comprehension. "Ah, Jan..." he says quietly, and gets up. "Sir," he says to Taeren, "He'll need to lie down for a while. Permission to haul him to a bunk?"

Rukais shakes his head, "It's so creepy..." he shakes his head again, for good measure.

Taeren nods. "Granted," The Timonae replies. "Just bring me a straight bourbon on the way back. I'll take helm." He rises and moves towards the controls. To Ruk, the Timonae just chuckles a world-weary chuckle. "Welcome to the Shinaran Drift, Sarge," he says. "Weird happens here way more often than logical."

As Ruin approaches Jan, he begins to babble "Happened before, need bed, happened, bed, need, before." before he goes completely limp, and is quiet.

Ruin moves to pull Jantine's arm across his shoulders, half assisting and half dragging him to a bunk. "I will endeavor to find some, sir," he says quietly.

Ruin hauls Jantine with some difficulty through the narrow spaces, lowering him with audible relief onto a bunk. He takes care to make it reasonably comfortable, unlikely to cut off circulation anywhere, and then uses things from another bunk to elevate Jantine's feet. "You'll get over it," he says softly, in a tone that says 'but probably not soon', and then busies himself looking for bourbon for the Captain.

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