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One Ship at a Time
Summary: Colonel Xavier has tasked the NLM Franklin and the IND Saviour's Haste with providing some backup while the New Luna Militia picks up some salvage it staked a claim to in the Shinaran Drift.
Cast: Xavier, Karlan, Taeren, Rukais, Korthall, Jeff Ryan
Air Date: 2006.04.21


Bridge <NLM Franklin>(#11195RDFr)
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        This room is the brains of the ship, to the fore a large viewscreen occupies most of the
forward wall, giving a grand and impressive view of computer rendered space. Directly before this
are two seats, one for the pilot, and one for the co-pilot, both equipped with heads-up holographic
displays to aid in flying the craft. Set slightly behind and between the two is a single black 
chair, presumably for the captain of the vessel. Set around the edges of the room are various 
subsidiary control systems and their attendant seats. Space is fairly reasonable if you are a human,
however, when all the consoles are occupied, it is still a squeeze to move, to the aft, a door
leads out to the main corridor. 
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Fri Apr 21 19:27:50 3006

Xavier clambers onto the bridge, and immediately stakes out the black captain's chair, settling in.

Rukais steps off the ladder, heading through onto the bridge before cooly seating himself at the gunnery position, "Ain't my best." he states dryly, before tapping the side of the weapons console.

Taeren exhales. "Okay," he says, pulling crash netting over his torso and fastening it in. His hands flick switches. "Thrusters and engines, life support, computer systems, all look good from here," he says, looking over his shoulder at Xavier. "Colonel, I think we're good to go."

Karlan nods, to the colonel, looking down at the comm console. "All systems go, sir."

The Colonel makes a forward-pointing gesture. "Onward, then."

"Got it." Tay says, hands wrapping around Franklin's controls. The Timonae guides the vessel out of Hancock's docking bay.

>> Outside the Ship: IND Saviour's Haste accelerates outbound from New Luna.

>> Outside the Ship: The NLM Franklin leads the Haste away from New Luna, headed outbound on a steady course.

Rukais turns his head to one side, "Gunnery platform ready, all cannons charged." his voice adds to the other reports, before he turns back to stare down at his console.

"We're outbound," Tay announces. "Karlan, can you pull up the coordinates for the Shinaran Drift?" The Timonae's face is backlit by console light.

>> Outside the Ship: The Haste easily keeps pace with the Franklin, her engines hardly ticking over just yet. After waiting outside the Hancock, she simply maintains herself starboard and slightly behind.

Karlan nodding at Taeren and tapping the console, Karlan glances down and looks back to the screen attentively. "Coordinates to the Shinaran Drift, outbound... one, one, two, five, seven, mark three, five. On axis.. one-hundred and sixty-seven. Level."

"Got it," Tay says. "Wasn't there a space station out that way some years back? Blew up by the Lem'ing, wasn't it?" He changes tack and the Franklin burns for a jump point. "We'll be clear to jump in five, Colonel."

The Colonel shakes his head. "I don't believe the Lem'ing blew 'em up," he says gruffly, one hand reaching up to scratch at his bald spot. "One'a those Hiverspace races or something."

Rukais watches the others for the moment, listening to the conversation between them quietly.

>> Outside the Ship: The IND Saviour's Haste executes a sensor scan of the local space.

Karlan taps on his console gently, nodding as the information flashes on the small screen. "According to the historical database, it held the Shinara station. It was destroyed by the Darlath, a Drakarian ship, a few years ago," Karlan says.

"Riiight," Tay says with a nod. "Drakarians." He frowns. "Creepy. Colonel, we're clear to jump."

Xavier shrugs his shoulders. "Drakarians, Heykati, Falari, they're all the same to me," he says casually. "Yes, take us to jump."

Karlan just nods, standing with his hands on the console.

>> Outside the Ship: "Jeff," comes a crackling voice over the comm. "Jump in ten seconds from mark. Mark." There's a pause, and then the Franklin's Moebius drive spins up.

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 NLM Franklin slices through the fabric of normal space in a blaze of shimmering cobalt planes, to skip between the stars ...

>> Outside the Ship: Transition Space <Moebius Drive>(#27486RDFnr)

>> Outside the Ship: 
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       A whorl of reds and blues doppler shift in a taught and twisting tunnel, their motion a
chaotic blurring. Every now and then a streaked starburst slams past, bands of light arcing out in
silvery waves. Occassionally a shadow too shimmers by, ripples of sable like wavs of night.
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Fri Apr 21 19:59:07 3006
                                                                              


Taeren leans back. "Okay," he says. "We'll be in the Drift in 33 minutes." Tay turns to Karlan. "So if we snag some good guns, where do you wanna mount 'em?" He asks.

Karlan rubs his chin. "No idea, really. It's mostly up to colonel Moss, but I have a pretty good idea of where the station needs additional weaponry. Ideally we want 360-degree firepower."

Rukais leans back into the comfort of his chair, sighing and closing his eyes in his own little preperation.

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: 
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        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 rockhopper darts about, a blur of color and running lights against the sea of black. It
slows as it approaches an asteroid field, and an EVA suit-clad being emerges.
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Fri Apr 21 20:10:43 3006
                                                                              

>> Outside the Ship: The NLM Franklin 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.

Xavier seems to hold back from the engineers' conversation, peering as the ship emerges in the Shinaran Drift. "Ugly place," he comments dryly.

>> Outside the Ship: The Haste with her spindrive has been in the area for some time. However she's been staying in the general area of the jump point.

>> Outside the Ship: The IND Saviour's Haste executes a sensor scan of the local space.

Karlan grimaces at his readings, shaking his head. "Sensors are reading lots of particle irradiation and reflection, colonel. This place is like a disperse nebula."

>> Outside the Ship: The NLM Franklin appears in flashes of coruscating light, drifting deeper into the nebula.

Taeren nods. "Shields are taking a light peppering from particulates, but it's nothing major." He looks over his shoulder at Xavier. "Where to?

"Then let's just get in and out as quickly as we can," Xavier responds, pointing towards a thick cluster of asteroids and looking towards Taeren. "You think you can get us in there?" he asks.

"If anyone in the 'verse can, it'd be me," Tay says, narrowing his eyes at the asteroid cluster. "All right. Karlan, pick up the Haste on the comms and let him know what's up, wouldja?"

>> Outside the Ship: As the Franklin appears, the Ambassador fires up her engines. "This is IND Saviour's Haste to Franklin. We'll just follow your lead."

Karlan glances at the sensor readings and nods. "I'll hail the Haste and signal them to follow into the cluster, colonel."

Karlan activates the ship's intercom and sends, "Haste, this is the Franklin. We're heading for the cluster."


>> Outside the Ship: NLM Franklin's thruster flare and she shoots for the Avernus Cluster at her top speed, ducking and weaving around larger particles with some skill.

>> Outside the Ship: Avernus Cluster <Shinaran Drift>(#19273RDnW)

>> Outside the Ship: - 
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       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 field of space particles moves through, peppering everything with debris as if driven by
some hidden wind.
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Fri Apr 21 20:16:35 3006

>> Outside the Ship: IND Saviour's Haste winds through a patch of asteroids to enter the Avernus Cluster.

>> Outside the Ship: The IND Saviour's Haste executes a sensor scan of the local space.

Licking his lips, the Timonae pilot guides the Franklin into the cluster. "Whaddya see, Karlan?" he asks, eyes darting from his instruments to the viewscreen.

Rukais peers at his console for a moment, running his finger along the top as he plays with the menus. Glaring through the asteroids, Xavier points slightly towards the port side. "It's right at the edge of that gap in the center," he says, looking to Rukais. "Be ready."

>> Outside the Ship: The NLM Franklin executes a sensor scan of the local space.

Karlan taps his console and watches the read out. "I'm reading the Haste, and two other ships. Stand by for detailed scan..."

"Do. Re. Me." the young lunite gunner hums to himself, eyes darting back and forth from his console to the rest of the bridge. "Mmm. Emkaythree."

>> Outside the Ship: As you get closer to the center of the cluster, it looks more and more as if a war went on here years ago. Tiny pieces of metal and plasteel litter space, almost as common as the tiny asteroids that constantly pelt the ships. Off to one side, however, seems to be a cluster of larger pieces. About half of a painted-red Caravan-class freighter with the words, "Red Riot" scrawled on it in fiery white floats peacefully next to an almost-complete Yacht with a custom paintjob, and an enormous piece of ship hull, the piece almost bigger than a Leviathan, hovers above them both, two massive cannons still attached. Within this group lies the IND Lorelei, with five men in worksuits chopping away at the side of the Caravan.


>> Outside the Ship: The NLM Franklin turns slightly, a course change towards the center of the cluster.

"Colonel," Tay observes slowly. "I think we may have hostiles."

>> Outside the Ship: Keeping next to her, the much smaller passenger transport maintains speed and distance.

Karlan glances up from the reading and nods. "Reading two ships. The yacht is called the Harpaxian Storm, ID code ITS-0904-AP3. Life support in it is active, shields down. The other one is a Calliope class, the Lorelei, ID ITS-0105-AK4. No shields, no weapons up. No life signs from either."

>> Outside the Ship: "Keep on your toes Franklin," comes the asphalt voice of the Haste's pilot. "I'm reading a major collision between asteroids at... 130 degrees mark 17. Some shrapnel heading our way. Impact at present speed and course. Two minutes."

Xavier peers at the viewscreen intently. "What'd I tell you," he says, cocksure. "They're taking my find!"

"Colonel, we have debris heading towards us, one-three-oh mark seventeen. I recommend we raise shields," Karlan says, calmly.

"I suggest we give them a warning," Tay says, hands tightening on the controls.

Rukais tenses up, narrowing his eyes as he waits for a command.

>> Outside the Ship: The NLM Franklin spins and darts higher on Z-axis in relation to the knot of ships, rotating around a small asteroid before coming down with a view of the Lorelei's dorsal surface.

>> Outside the Ship: The workers continue to gnaw away at the Red Riot, plasma torches glowing blue and white as they hack large sections of the hull away. Two push the irregular piece back towards the Lorelei before noticing the Franklin. One scrambles towards the Calliope, and the others begin to follow. The airlock cycles to admit the first.

>> Outside the Ship: The IND Saviour's Haste follows the Franklin's maneuver and course, "Scavengers I see. Let's hope they realise they're outgunned."

The Colonel rubs his chin, his face turning pink. "Do they have any weapons they can turn on us?" he asks. "If not, I'd say let's talk."

"Their weapon systems appear to be damaged according to scans, colonel. Their shields are down. I suggest we hail them," Karlan says.

"You're the one at the comm," Tay says to Karlan. "Do it before they get a chance to pocket that loot."

Rukais holds his tongue, mostly making sure he doesn't outburst options that would certainly seem a bit manic.

Karlan activates the ship's intercom and sends, "IND Lorelei, this is the New Luna Militia starship NLM Franklin. Come in, Lorelei."

>> Outside the Ship: The IND Lorelei slowly floats along as one by one, the workers cycle into the airlock. "This is the IND Lorelei. We saw it first, you're cleared to fuck off," comes a squeaky voice from the Calliope.

Taeren laughs. "Wrong answer." He adjusts their tack.

>> Outside the Ship: The NLM Franklin attempts to close distance with the Calliope, the Franklin's nose changing attitude as it bears almost straight down at the freighter. A close observer might see that all of the vessel's gun turrets are being presented with a prime shot at the freighter's engines.

Karlan raises a hand. "I recommend we make the situation clear for them before we fire, colonel. Your orders?"

Xavier nods gravely to Karlan. "Please do so."

>> Outside the Ship: The Haste easily keeps up with the Franklin as she closes the distance.

>> Outside the Ship: The Franklin's communication systems come alive with Karlan's calm voice. "IND Lorelei, this space has been claimed as New Luna Militia property. We are taking the salvage. Repeat. We are taking the salvage."

Rukais slowly aims his turrets with a wry smile appearing on his lips, it seems he picks up on the strategic piloting and he looks across to Taeren with a dull nod, his eyes roll across to Xavier, "Target their engines, sir?"

>> Outside the Ship: As the Haste follows the Franklin, Ryan's voice comes over a secure channel, "Permission to activate weapons. You boys are already running hot I see."

"Just hit them blindside. Show them we're serious." Xavier says. He turns to Karlan. "Tell him he can activate weapons, and to fire if provoked."

>> Outside the Ship: The reply comes to through secure-channel communications to the Haste. "Charge weapons. Fire if provoked."

Karlan nods after he sends the message, staring at the viewscreen.

>> Outside the Ship: "Confirmed," comes Jeff's reply. And the Haste's pulse cannons arm.

>> Outside the Ship: The Lorelei's insystem drives power up, and she begins to slowly move away from the Franklin. "I told you to fuck off," the ship's comm crackles. "I swear, if you don't get your asses out of where they don't belong, you're going to be sucking vaccuum," the freighter threatens.

"You'd have to be some kind of idiot not to figure out where this is going," Tay says. "Hey, Karlan ... keep an eye out. They might know something we don't." He bites his lip.

Karlan nods to Taeren. "Their shields are still down. I recommend a warning shot while they don't get smart."

Rukais turns to Xavier, "I have a shot aimed on their ship, sir, or would you prefer I skim one past them?"

"Hit 'em," the Colonel says.

"Guess its violence today," Tay says with a smirk.

Rukais nods and presses down his thumb onto the fire button once before releasing, aiming to fire at the rear part of their ship.

Karlan nods and turns to Rukais, grinning. "Your turn to shine, Sergeant."

>> Outside the Ship: One of the turrets on the Franklin moves into position before lighting up the metal hull with a bright pulse of energy, soaring through the vacume to hit the back end of the objecting freighter.

>> Outside the Ship: Over the secure channel, following the barrage, Ryan's voice comes in, "I'm not reading weapons aboard. A bluff?"

"A direct hit, colonel. Shall I warn them again?" Karlan asks, glancing down at his terminal.

"Let's see what they do," Tay breathes, maintaining station.

>> Outside the Ship: The Lorelei shakes and shudders at the shot, and a wry voice crackles through. "I told you to leave this space," it says angrily, the ship powering away from the Franklin at a faster pace. "Say hello to your maker when you meet'er." With that, two ships slither into the fray side-by-side, each quite armed, and quite shielded. "This is the IND Twisted Pickle," one of the new ships says with nary a smirk in his tone. "Surrender now and we will only take your ship. Repeat, surrender now, and we will not harm your crew."

>> Outside the Ship: "Coming about," comes Jeff's emotionless voice over the secure-channel. "I can't run more than interference though. You boys have the big guns. Orders?"

Rukais leans back in his chair, groaning unhappily, "I ain't got the will for this." he says, refocusing his turret controls.

Xavier raises his eyebrows at the sound of the new voice. "What in the name of..." he trails off. "Gimme some readings, quickly!" he shouts.

Taeren swears in Timonese, under his breath. He looks down at his console. "Bout time for that asteroid collision," He observes. "Fight or flight, Colonel?" the Timonae asks, terse.

"One Kestrel class, and one Intruder... Active shields on the Kestrel, and both have their weapons systems lit up red-hot," Karlan says, calmly. "Your orders, sir?"

Xavier grits his teeth, and shakes his head. "Do you think this thing can outrun those two?" he asks plainly.

"Outrun, no," Tay says, eyes surveying the scenery. Shield-melting radiation to starboard. Huge hull plate above. Scrap below. Asteroids all around. "But I'd bet the slips on my vroomhopper that Jeff and I can outfly these bastards until we can make 'em explode."

"Do. Re. Me. Fa. So." Rukais mumbles again, this time with some more elaboration, "Ah shoot. Can I make 'em explode, yet?"

"Then make it so. I want some defensive fire from the gunnery as well. Just don't hit Ambassador Ryan," Xavier says, sweating from the top of his pale pate.

Rukais raises an eyebrow, "Defensive fire..?" he blinks, talking to himself, "Now that seems like an oxymoron." he half mumbles, already aiming at the newly arrived ships, "Ready."

Karlan nods, glancing at the comm console. "Sir, our shields are down and not much I can do up here. Should I head down to engineering?"

"Capture this," Tay scoffs. "Karlan, I hope you're a fast sprinter. I'll buy you some time ..."

>> Outside the Ship: The NLM Franklin abruptly spins and rolls, breaking off pursuit of the Lorelei and ducking behind a drift of asteroids, thwarting any hopes of a clear firing solution right off.

>> Outside the Ship: The Haste stays near the Franklin, her Captain's voice, "They're mean looking."

>> Outside the Ship: The Twisted Pickle pivots as the Franklin takes evasive action, firing its plasma cannons through the drift of asteroids. One strikes just under the bridge of the unshielded ship with a cacophony of sparks. Karlan nods and stands up, darting out of the bridge. "I'll try to keep her in one piece!"

Karlan heads into Main Corridor <NLM Franklin>.

Taeren winces as the ship shakes under a plasma blast. "Don't just sit there," he says to Rukais, "Shoot back!"


NLM Franklin Intercom Broadcast ------------------------------- Karlan --

>>>> From the Engineering : Shields up.

Rukais growls as the ship shakes, pulling at his controls before firing back at the other craft.

>> Outside the Ship: "Yeah," Tay's voice, distracted, agrees. "Listen, you zig, I'll zag, we'll put some circles around 'em and maybe get home alive, deal?"

>> Outside the Ship: "With you," agrees Ryan over the channel. The Haste's engines fire up as she starts to accelerate. "We heading for the jump point?"

>> Outside the Ship: The NLM Franklin executes a sensor scan of the local space.

A thunking sound can be heard from the direction of the captain's chair and a cry as a metal panel from the ceiling is loosed by the blow and falls, edge-first towards the chair, sinking into the seat of the chair with Xavier's legs on one side, and him on the other.

>> Outside the Ship: "You think this thing can outrun an Intruder?" Tay scoffs. "Listen, let's see if we can't get one up on 'em before we call it a day, or at least convince them we're not worth chasi - SHIT!"

Taeren looks over his shoulder at the crashing sound. "Maza's tits!" He exclaims, turning back to his flying. "This is bad. This could get worse."

Taeren activates the ship's intercom and sends, "Karlan, Xavier just ate it. See if you can keep us in one piece and I'll work on getting us out alive."

>> Outside the Ship: The Twisted Pickle is hit three times, the shots splashing into the ship's shields, weakening them significantly, and they flicker for a moment. Both the Pickle and the Snappy Comeback back to one side to get a clean shot of the Franklin, firing in unison.


NLM Franklin Intercom Broadcast ------------------------------- Karlan --

>>>> From the Engineering : Xavier just what? Keep on shooting, keep on running.


>> Outside the Ship: NLM Franklin's pulse cannons return the Pickle's fire. The vessel attempts to roll down through the debris field, giving the Pickle and Comeback too little room to direct their fire together.

Rukais ignores the crashing sound for the moment, after hearing Taeren's comment he overcomes morbid curiosity and continues to fire back at the two ships, focusing on the Twisted Pickle.

>> Outside the Ship: The Haste is nimbler than the lighter cruiser and guns her engines through the debris field, trying to get quickly into position to fire her guns at the same point as the Franklin's fire.

>> Outside the Ship: "Jeff, it looks like I'm drawing their fire," Tay sends. "Try and take out the Pickle. If we blow up the outrider, maybe that Kestrel will get the idea and leave us alone. At the least we'll stand a better chance of buggin' out if it comes to that."

Taeren activates the ship's intercom and sends, "How's it looking back there, Ell-Tee?"


NLM Franklin Intercom Broadcast ------------------------------- Karlan --

>>>> From the Engineering : No damage taken so far, Tay, but take care.

The panel splitting the poor Colonel Xavier eventually falls over, followed by the legless, lifeless body of the Colonel, who falls atop it with a grunting noise as the air is knocked out of his lungs.

Taeren grits his teeth after send his comm transmission, turning to Ruk. "Can you get a clear shot?" He asks, looking back at the viewscreen. He banks the Franklin through a narrow gap in the debris field, then glances back at Xavier. "Shit shit ..." Taeren activates the ship's intercom and sends, "Karlan, I need you to come up here and see if Colonel Xavier is still alive. He was chopped in half, but if there's still hope, then maybe we can bug and get home in time to save him." From afar, Taeren(Tay) figures its Pickle and Comeback's turn.


NLM Franklin Intercom Broadcast ------------------------------- Karlan --

>>>> From the Engineering : Incoming.


Karlan arrives from Main Corridor <NLM Franklin>. Karlan has arrived.

>> Outside the Ship: The Twisted Pickle pulls high to avoid the shots, slipping far above them before making a tight turn to avoid a looming asteroid. The Snappy Comeback pulls low under the Saviour's Haste, firing twice at her belly.

Karlan runs into the bridge, looking around. "We took a damn hard hit here. Let's get out of this sector. And what do you expect me to do about the colonel, I'm an engineer, not a doctor."

"Seeing if he's still alive might be a good start!" Tay barks tersely. He looks up. "Pickle's trapped in asteroids. Maybe we can get out of this alive, if we get enough of a lead ..."

Xavier has been split in half by an overhanging panel. His torso has fallen atop it, his legs peeking out from underneath.

"I'm hittin' it for light's sake!" Rukais shouts, turning around before panicking. "Ohmyfuckingshitithinkthat'safuckinglegMAN!" the gunner yelps as tunnel vision draws his concentration behind him, he turns to stare at the gunnery screen, "Try and steady for the other ship!" he says, firing at the Snappy Comeback.

>> Outside the Ship: The NLM Franklin has dodged low, through the debris field; Pickle just pulled high, and Comeback took the middle road to get Haste's belly. Franklin's pilot jukes left and right to avoid Pickle's cannonblasts, then banks the vessel back around the debris and upwards, presenting Comeback's belly to Franklin's gunner. "Jeff," the pilot tersely snaps, "How're you holdin' up."

Karlan raises an eyebrow, kneeling beside Xavier and putting two fingers to his neck warily. "I doubt it," he mutters.

>> Outside the Ship: Perhaps getting lax because the Franklin's been drawing all fire, the Haste's captain isn't prepared as the Comeback maneuvers around onto her belly. Two shots hit through her armour. The Haste fires her front thrusters and pulls back on her engines, dropping back and then into the line of fire of the Comeback. She fires with both cannons.

>> Outside the Ship: "I'm busy," sends Jeff back through to the Franklin.

"What do you see, Karlan?" Tay asks, glancing back before refocusing on the unfolding space battle in front of him. "Any hope?" He banks the vessel, looking at his rear instrumentation as if anticipating the Pickle's return.

>> Outside the Ship: The Comeback is hit twice near its nose by the Franklin, one getting through the shields, the other glancing off of it. The ship shudders off track for a brief moment, but pulls itself back onto track only to dive a moment later through the Haste's fire, causing it to shudder violently. White-hot reverse thrusters pull the ship almost two hundred and seventy degrees as it fires back at the Haste.

Karlan shakes his head, standing and taking his place in the communication console again. "He's dead, Taeren. This isn't good."


NLM Franklin Intercom Broadcast ------------------------------- Karlan --

>>>> From the Bridge : This is chief engineer and communications officer, second lieutenant Karlan Raziz. Colonel Xavier has been incapacitated. I am taking command of this vessel. Repeat. I have assumed command of this vessel.

"No, it's not," the Timonae agrees. "But it still might get better." He looks over at Karlan, bemused, then back to his flying. "Karlan, if the Haste takes another salvo, I think we need to bug."

Rukais whimpers lightly as he continues to send his full lot at the Snappy Comeback, "Blood... is there lot's of blood?"

>> Outside the Ship: Ryan was a fighter pilot long before he was ever anything else, and he's bought a ship that steers like one even if she doesn't fire like one. He spins the Haste on her X-axis, rotating through the fire. A gambit that pays off, one of the Comeback's shots whizzes through the space that was her wing a moment before, the other bounces off her shields. Jeff gets off another round before he's forced to pull up and avoid a collision.

>> Outside the Ship: "Jeff, don't get yourself killed, buddy," Tay warns. "Bank low. Let's pull this guy away from his support before they can get back down here.""

NLM Franklin makes a speed change, then accelerates again. Right after Jeff pulls up, Franklin is in the space the Haste occupied a second before, nose aimed at Comeback's midships before dodging down again.

"Take evasive action, Mr. Taeren. Keep firing, sergeant. Get us out of here," Karlan replies, pressing a key to send out a message to the Haste.

>> Outside the Ship: Through a secure channel to the Haste, the Franklin's comm systems come alive with Karlan's very slightly distressed voice. "Haste, our commanding officer is down. I'm assuming command of the ship. We're taking our leave, Jeff."

>> Outside the Ship: "Tay," says Jeff ignoring Karlan. "How bad's the Franklin knocked about?"

>> Outside the Ship: The Comeback twists, slipping between the Haste's shots and turning hard to dip below one of the Franklin's shots, the other crackling against its shields as they flicker with the last bit of life. "Last chance," crackles through the comms. "Surrender and live," The actions don't seem to echo the words, however, as it shoots twice at the Franklin.

>> Outside the Ship: The Haste slows down, almost to a stop. After a sizeable beat, he sends out over the normal comms, "Haste to Franklin. We've picked up the package. Bugging out." A beat later and her acceleration kicks in at full.

The young gunner laughs daringly as another shot hits home, "We can get this."

"Follow Jeff's lead, Mr. Taeren," Karlan says, tapping on his console calmly.

Taeren braces himself with one hand against the console's edge as the ship can't quite duck one of the two shots. "Karlan, you'd be of better use in the engine room," he growls, but nonetheless allows Ruk room for one more shot before following him towards the edge of the cluster.

>> Outside the Ship: The NLM Franklin plays chicken with the Comeback, juking one of the two shots but taking the other against its shields. Another salvo leaves Franklin's guns before she peels off and follows the Haste towards the cluster's edge.

"Sorry, Jeff. I was busy. Our hull took the first salvo," Tay's voice crackles. "Shields took the second. It'd be asking a lot of Lin to win this fight without knowing what that other ship is doing, with this Kestrel on our tail, even if it is taking shots on its hull."

Taeren drops Field Kit

>> Outside the Ship: The Comeback is hit by the two parting shots flat on, one putting a deep gash near its airlock. Sure enough, less than a second later, the ship seems to be venting atmosphere at an alarming rate. The Kestrel slows to a crawl as the hole seems to widen, and a blond-haired man is flung out the hole, his eyes bulging in the vaccuum.

Rukais shouts out with a laugh, "Take that you bastard!" Rukais shouts out at the viewscreen, "Let's get outta here!"

"That'll teach the bastards!" Karlan exclaims, grinning. "Get us out of this pit, Taeren. You take the bridge. I'll run down and see what I can do for the armour."

Karlan picks up Field Kit Karlan heads into Main Corridor <NLM Franklin>. Karlan has left.


NLM Franklin Intercom Broadcast ------------------------------- Karlan --

>>>> From the Engineering : I've done all I can to patch her up. Get us out of here, Taeren.


NLM Franklin Intercom Broadcast ------------------------------- Karlan --

>>>> From the Engineering : And keep me informed.

>> Outside the Ship: From the not-so-distant asteroid field, one can spot a flash of ionized energy. Then, the smaller Intruder class support ship soars soars free, cutting a burning trail through space. Too late to save his companion, but not too late to possibly cause some harm, as twin turbocannons open up fire on the Saviour's Haste.

Taeren activates the ship's intercom and sends, "Karlan, this guy isn't gonna let us just leave right away. We have to discourage him from following us before we can bug."

"OH LEAVE US ALONE!" Rukais shouts at his weapons panel, he has spoken and so he fires back at the Pickle.


NLM Franklin Intercom Broadcast ------------------------------- Karlan --

>>>> From the Engineering : His buddy's leaking atmosphere, what other discouragement do they need... Point that out to them, and keep firing.

>> Outside the Ship: The NLM Franklin makes a course correction to come up behind the Pickle as it fires on the Haste, letting fly from the cannons. "Pickle, this is the Franklin. There's been enough killing today. If you live through that one and don't want to take any more, then set a bearing for the jump point and don't turn back. It's two on one now and our shields are still up."

>> Outside the Ship: The Haste meanwhile isn't waiting for the Pickle's answer. She narrowly avoids the first blast, as she kicks in a seemingly random course correction, the second shot zooms by where she was. The Haste guns her engines to their limits on her new course.

"Hey, man - hold your fire until I give the word," Tay says to Rukais, sticking behind the Intruder's engines as best he can. "We might get lucky twice in one day."

>> Outside the Ship: The concentrated blast pounds against weakened shields, burns the hull, and rattles the ship's frame. At the Franklin's kind offer of a viable retreat, the Pickel takes it's chance and guns for the nearest jump vector.

Taeren activates the ship's intercom and sends, "Karlan, they're bugging out, not us. How do you feel about fixing up the hull and then watching the bridge while we do our salvage?"

Rukais nods, "Shall do.. I just.. Oh god there's blood on the floor.." he turns around again, "I ain't never seen anything like that..." his gaze falls onto Tay, "Can I.. I think I'm going to throw up... can I be relieved?"

>> Outside the Ship: Sent over open comms, "Haste, a deal's a deal. Let them go, but don't lose track of 'em until they leave."

Taeren nods to Ruk. "Get to the lavatory ASAP," he says, "And come back."


NLM Franklin Intercom Broadcast ------------------------------- Karlan --

>>>> From the Engineering : Once they've cleared this space, regroup with Jeff. If his ship can take the job of watching guard over us while we salvage, we're staying. And come down here to help me patch her up; I don't think we'll have her fully repaired while we salvage.

>> Outside the Ship: "I'll let him go," says Jeff. The Haste corrects her course to fall back in with the Franklin. Over secure-comms, he asks, "What shape you boys in? Still up for the mission?"

Rukais nods, before standing up and running out of the bridge with a horrified look. It seems he'd been holding it in before. Now he's gone.

Rukais heads into Main Corridor <NLM Franklin>. Rukais has left.

>> Outside the Ship: The NLM Franklin breaks off, returning to the salvage area to give it a thorough going-over: the wolf making sure no hunters lurk in the shadows before settling in his lair.

>> Outside the Ship: "We can get the hull patched up from in here," Tay sends. "Give us a couple to effect repairs. You can watch the area if I EVA to get this stuff?"

>> Outside the Ship: "Roger," says Jeff.

>> Outside the Ship: The Pickle makes good on it's intentions, fleeing Shinaran space, and activating a jump as soon as it is clear.

Taeren activates the ship's intercom and sends, "Karlan, they're clear. Get up here, would you?"

Karlan arrives from Main Corridor <NLM Franklin>. Karlan has arrived.

>> Outside the Ship: Finding the area clear, the Franklin turns and burns for the freshest meat of the day: the Kestrel they just nuked. Franklin pulls in front and to the left of the wreck, then matches its slow speed and trajectory.

A large pool of blood has formed on the deck of the ship, seeping into the dips where deckpanels meet.

Karlan steps into the bridge, hands on his waist, and surveys the damage to this part of the ship. "Alright, Taeren. Take us close to the recent salvage and get down to engineering to clear up some of the mess."

Karlan drops Field Kit

>> Outside the Ship: The Haste is with her, but she begins running a perimeter patrol. "All clear. Can we fix her up?"

Taeren is lining the Franklin up ahead and to port of the wreck of the Snappy Comeback. He sniffs once, twice, then coughs. "Sisters forgive me," he gasps. "The poor Colonel." Tay looks back at Karlan. "There's really no time to fix up the armor - it'll hold for the flight, won't it? We should focus on grabbing what we can and getting out of here." He looks down at Xavier. "And getting him to sickbay. What's left of him anyways." He turns back to Karlan. "Come here." He points to two buttons, picking up his field kit. "When I give you the cue, push this red one - that will kill our thrust and put us to stationkeeping. I'm going to put that Kestrel on a tow cable, and once we kill thrust we'll stop her motion. Then push the blue one - that'll turn us to a new heading and then give us a little push so the kestrel doesn't swing us around." He looks from Karlan to Xavier and winces. "We should clean the poor guy up as soon as we get to jump."

Taeren picks up Field Kit

>> Outside the Ship: "I'm going to try and get the Kestrel on a tow cable first, then I'll grab the weapons the late Colonel was talking about, then I'll head back to the Kestrel and get it running just enough to fly it back to New Luna. The gunner can fly the Franklin home," Tay sends, before there's a crackling as of him leaving the mic.

Karlan nods, standing close to the nav console. "I know what the buttons do, Taeren. Just give me a signal when you need to. We should be out of here as soon as possible."

Taeren is already arranging the panel that killed Xavier. Wincing, getting his hands bloody, the Timonae rests first Xavier's legs, then his lifeless torso on the panel. He grabs the edge of the panel and drags it, and the late Colonel's remains with it, off the bridge. "I'll be back as soon as I can."

Taeren heads into Main Corridor <NLM Franklin>. Taeren has left.

>> Outside the Ship: Taeren has arrived. >> Outside the Ship: Taeren disembarks from the NLM Franklin.

Karlan sighs, looking down at the pool of blood. His hand strays to a call button and pushes it.

>> Outside the Ship: "We'll just keep an eye on things out here for you," crackles the asphalt voice. "Good hunting."

>> Outside the Ship: Karlan's voice crakles through to the Haste. "Good work, Jeff. We'll just clear out this mess and get out as soon as possible."

>> Outside the Ship: Taeren appears, brightly reflective paint on the torso of his worksuit marking him every time the running lights flicker. Tow cable in hand - one end, he's affixed already beside and a little behind Franklin's airlock - the Timonae waits until the trajectory he planned takes him within a few meters of the hulled Snappy Comeback. Expressionless behind his tinted visor, the Timonae's worksuited form drifts free of the Franklin and towards the Comeback, cable's gripping end pointed towards the hull with his arm extended as far forward as possible.

>> Outside the Ship: "Roger on that Franklin, you boys did all the fancy shooting," says Jeff. The Haste sticks to her hawk-like patrol of the area.

Karlan sighs and glances down at the mess, shaking his head at it.


NLM Franklin Intercom Broadcast ------------------------------- Karlan --

>>>> From the Bridge : Bridge to sickbay. Please send someone up here to clean this mess.

>> Outside the Ship: "Standing by for your signal, Taeren," says Karlan over the comm channel.

>> Outside the Ship: "Now," comes the crackling reply, fainter as the worksuit gets farther away. There's a suggestion of sparks against the Snappy Comeback's hull as the tow grapple's microteeth dig into the plating. Taeren wraps his arms around the cable and grips tight, anticipating what must come: the two vessels, attached together, will start to spin until Karlan engages his programmed corrective measures.

After a few moments, a man enters the bridge with a mop and a bucket, moving slowly along the gigantic puddle of blood.

Karlan pushes the button in response, watching the viewscreen warily. He ignores the cleaning man, distracted.

>> Outside the Ship: The Franklin stops its motion as Taeren's corrections are applied.

>> Outside the Ship: Taeren plants his feet against the Comeback's hull and pushes, one hand still cupped around the tow cable; it guides him back to the airlock. "Golden," he says. "Now for those big freakin' guns."

>> Outside the Ship: Taeren boards the NLM Franklin. >> Outside the Ship: Taeren has left.

Taeren arrives from Main Corridor <NLM Franklin>. Taeren has arrived.

Karlan nods at Taeren as he arrives. A man with a bucket and a mop is cleaning the large blood stain, and Karlan stands close to the nav command, staring at the screen intently.

Taeren appears, after some delay, still wearing his worksuit but sans helmet and gloves. "Let's get over to those guns," Tay says, approaching the navigation console. "Try and hack them up before we have to worry about anyone coming." He slaps Karlan on the back. "How're you holding up?" He asks. "I think you did pretty well, for your first combat mission."

Karlan turns and nods at Taeren, grinning. "Not the first time I see that kind of mess. Don't worry about me, Taeren, just take us to the big bloody gun and take it." He eyes the command chair warily.

"I threw up on my way out the airlock," Tay confesses. "Adrenaline has a way of getting you back for keeping you alive." He makes a few course corrections to stabilize the Kestrel behind them, then drags it behind the Franklin towards the massive hull plate where the ion cannons are. A push of the thrusters upwards, after the Franklin stops, allows the Kestrel's forward momentum to take it past the other vessel. Tay lowers the Franklin directly behind the Kestrel and fires the reverse thrusters, ever so delicately. These gentle touches arrest the former Snappy Comeback's momentum completely. He stands again and turns for the airlock. "I'll see if I can't get those guns.

Karlan nods at Taeren. "Don't worry about it. You're a civilian. You're not supposed to go through this kind of thing, and you did impressively well." He smiles. "I think that if the Kestrel isn't scrapped for parts, maybe we can have her named the Lin's Grin," he muses.

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