Having successfully provisioned and fueled at Dalia the IISS Detached Duty Scout/Courier (can’t find notes on name) loaned to the party made to the 100-diameter limit and jumped out system for Tarkine. Feeling cocky the brash pilot performed a full “Combat Jump” in which the exit vector and relative velocity would put them inbound at the target destination system. No significant problems developed in Jump and the crew settled into their usual J-Space routine.
Upon arrival at Tarkine the ship precipitated out of Jump close to the 100-diameter limit, well aimed for an atmospheric entry and dirt side landing. Traffic control, being strict in this Amber Zone system due to political unrest, was supervised by a squadron of 800-DTon Mercenary Cruisers (Broadsword Class) in orbit around the main world. Those same Merc Cruisers provided support for the Forine mercenary regiment supplanting the Imperial Peace Keeping Forces which had been withdrawn to fight in the 5th Frontier War, so recently concluded. The Forine Regiment, the 2518th Caixeiro Polícia Militar (Forças Protegidas), was originally formed to act as a specialized Low/Zero Gravity Military Police. Their assignment to a planet with a breathable atmosphere and comfortable gravity has raised questions in military circles.
They also supplement the small number of IISS Security Troops protecting the Scout Base on Tarkine. The mercenary unit is highly visible at the Starport and near the road/railheads which terminate at the waterfront docks.
At the Starport, in a hanger off the main runway, the crew was met by Mother Natalie, who identified herself as their designated provisioning agent. She told them in no uncertain terms that any purchases for the ship would need to go through her, as a properly licensed representative and subsidiary of the Starport management. While higher than perhaps could be arranged through private purchase, her costs were not criminally high, just mildly extortionate for such a remote system. Also visible, and patronized by the crew, were the various merchants, vendors and hawkers plying their trade along the access road next to the runway. Their compact yet surprisingly well supplied carts disgorged a wide assortment of small pastries, hot food, cold drinks, and various knick-knacks to lighten the wallets of bored space crews. The hanger assigned being near the far end of the runway the local estuary lapped at the perimeter fence. This also made for a muggy clime as the day grew hotter, but this was refreshed by the dry evening breeze coming off the plateau surrounding the city. Local avians, arthropods and amphibians provided an alternating cacophonic and choral counter point to the nasal drone of the vendors.
All this bucolic beauty being too much the Aslan passenger, the pilot and “Public Relations” decided to take a trip into town, chasing down a quasi-Aslan business which was hoped to have some connection for the enigmatic felnoid. Local air traffic being made up of two parts, off world and mercenary grav craft and local propeller and jet driven aircraft, there were strict flight controls around the Starport, with bloodthirsty warnings about straying out of designated flight paths. Outside of the Starport it was devil-may-care so long as grav craft stayed below 400 meters. This made for a fun ride as the Grav Van skimmed over the rooftops of the sprawling city at sunset. The broad lawns and sprawling boulevards passed by below as the van skimmed at 100 kph, only occasionally rising to maneuver over a larger public building. The twin thumps of something hitting the hull were almost drowned out by the rush of air past the open windows.
Looking around quickly it was soon found that a large dinner-plate sized object had affixed itself to the rear of the van. Even upside down PR quickly realized that the limpet-mine didn’t belong there and furthermore, it was armed. Responding adroitly, the pilot set the van down in the middle of a suburban street and the crew bailed in three different directions. Not a moment too soon as the actinic flash and piercing crack of the mine detonating rolled into a blooming flower of shredded metal and plastic sprouting where the seed-pod of the van had landed.
Dusting themselves off and looking about the three quickly rejoined and tried to raise the ship. The space monkey was able to hear that something had happened, that the van was gone, and then communications were cut short. Springing into action like her namesake she gathered the stalwart engineer, her shooting irons, and moved to secure a ride. Soon after klaxons and alarms could be heard ringing out over the Starport as the mercenary security moved to lock everything down. This just meant that the relief party had to find an alternate route to get out of the hanger. Meanwhile the commander burrowed into the primitive info net to find what was happening and provide guidance to his stray charges to bring them all home safely.
Having made their way by a convenient utility access tunnel the Space Monkey and the Monkey Wrench found a Starport truck with laughably primitive ignition security just waiting for them. Guided by calm voice in their ears and lit by the maps in their visors they worked their way further into the now volatile city, whose fires were lit by a spark kilometers to the northeast.
Trying to evade the roused locals, many represented by angry young men with guns and bombs, the trio at the crash site worked to evade capture. They quickly learned to pitch their voices carefully when contemplating trespassing, and also determined that suburban roofs are not as helpful as one would wish when avoiding mobs. A few walls were decorated with ballistic paint but no injuries beyond pride were suffered. Frantic scrabbling and running ensued while more locals converged, hemming in the trio.
The Monkey Gang driving quickly over strange roads worked their way to the crash site, turning and backtracking when blocked by flaming tire barriers or obstructing vehicle blockades. In their haste, and retreating from a blockade of armed men who opened fire, they wrecked the truck and had to flee on foot. Aided in their retreat by improvised smoke bombs brought for such a purpose, they too joined the trio on foot. Only the cessation of the jamming, after the resounding crash of missile fire from orbit, allowed the calm commander to guide the two parties together to re-form as a crew.
Again securing local transportation, the crew fled to the south, towards the safety of the Starport and the ship. The local police, backed by the mercenaries, had a different idea, however. After nearly being blown off the road by an over watching Grav APC the second stolen vehicle pulled to the side of the road and its inhabitants were all incarcerated as suspected insurgents. Only the diligent efforts of the commander, using all his skills, wiles and pulling in numerous favors with the local scout base commander, was able to free them with only a severe and bloody custodial beating and a dire threat not to return by the mercenary commander, plus the confiscation of all their personal goods. All this was accomplished while simultaneously restocking the ship with a bare minimum of supplies and fuel. Looking to leave the dust of this planet behind them, the crew and ship quickly made for space and the jump point.
Licking their wounds and bickering over choices made and missed they hoped the next system would be more hospitable. Unfortunately that was not to be, as vital maintenance, missed on Tarkine, came due. While landing at the main world of Flexos the turbulent, dense, and corrosive atmospheric conditions strained beyond what a long suffering hull segment could withstand. Explosively shearing away, it exposed a fuel sub-system which quickly built up a static charge, violently spending itself within the ship through the Jump Drive coolant system. Dumping its contents into the engineering deck, the Monkey gang had their hands and shoes full of toxic sludge as they kept the craft from dying in midair.
Landed, the damage was assessed, and while capable of limited flight, she would not jump the space lances again, this side of a wrecking yard.