Saturday, March 23, 2019

Edge of Night Session #4 - On Scalpel's Edge

Navy Lieutenant Raj Kundra - 4 terms - UPP 758C8C
Mechanical-1, Pilot-2, Medical-1, Jack-o-T-2, Computer-0

Other Durjan Hammill - 3 terms - UPP A69467
Gambling-3, Forgery-1, Brawling-1, Shotgun-1, Streetwise-0

Army Lieutenant Bill Fisker - 1 term - UPP D753C9
Rifle-1, SMG-2, Admin-0

Navy Lieutenant Alexi Kurigane- 2 terms - UPP AB8579
Vacc Suit-3, Ships Boat-1, Sword-1

Following up on Mr. Kurigane's idea to trace the route of the 'Wasp' post-jump, the party is introduced by the ex-scout Jerold to a wiz-bang navigator and computer geek by the name of Ulysses Brisbois. Visiting him in his little shop behind a dim-sun restaurant and strip club, the highly excitable fellow explains he can figure out where the 'Wasp' would be assuming she jumped into system from Tortuga using the filed flight plan. But needs a lot more computer power than he has on hand. In particular, he needs to get access to the space traffic control supercomputers at the star port, with their advanced modeling software and database of all the bits of space debris and lumps of rock in the Mouser system.  Ulysses used to work there (got let go for making unauthorized improvements to the system), so he knows exactly where to go and what to do. But he needs to physically get inside the building and use the computer; hacking in from outside won't do the trick. 

The party comes up with a plan to have Ulysses hack into a part of the space traffic control computer he can access remotely, and cause a massive computer meltdown. One big enough that they'll have to call in outside help to fix. And since Ulysses knows the company on contract  (Mighty Mouser Computer Analytics and Repair), he'll have that call rerouted to the party coms. Who then, using fake uniforms, ID's and service air/raft, will arrive to make the repairs. Just in case Ulysses is recognized, they'll smuggle him in hidden inside their service cart. And just in case something goes wrong, Plan B is to have Mr Fisker hang out around the Mighty Mouser Computer Analytics and Repair office, intercept and intimidate one of the computer geeks into helping them gain access to space traffic control. 

Decisions made and all the material gathered, they wait until the backshift to put their plan into action. But things go a little sideways right away; it seems Mr Hammill's forgery skills are slipping, as the guards at the gate are suspicious of their IDs and won't let them in. A series of phone calls between Desk Sergeant Miller (in charge of space traffic control security)  and Mighty Mouser Computer Analytics and Repair (ie. Baron Kundra's com) gets them access in the end, but only with a pair of guards watching over them at all times. So as the group is escorted to the main control computer, improvisation begins. Baron Kundra plants himself at the main console and fakes working, then declares the rest of the team has to go back to the server room and do some work to help him. He is able to convince the two guards to split up, one going with Mr Kurigane and Mr. Hammill to the servers and the other staying with Baron Kundra. Once in the server room, Mr Hammill distracts the guard, and Mr. Kurigane then wacks the unfortunate fellow in the head with the pommel of his sword cane. The guard is knocked out cold, but not before he discharges a few rounds from his SMG. This initiates another round of frantic calls from the Desk Sergeant, and it's only by luck (and the fact Officer Johnston is known to be a klutz) that they mange to convince the sergeant that it is just an accidental discharge, nothing to worry about. That done, Mr. Kurigane (who looks a lot like Officer Johnston) strips the unconscious man and dons his uniform. The officer is then bound and gagged and hidden under the false floor of the server room. Ulysses then emerges from hiding, and gets to work running his analysis on the backup console. Twenty minutes later he is done, and the party gets out of there post-haste. 

Dropping Ulysses and his pay back at the shop, the group then headed to find Malik Jupiter's representative, and get their hands on that pinnace he promised for their use. And in just a few hours, they clear traffic control and are in their way. Based on Ulysses' calculations, the Wasp would have intercepted the third gas giant in the system, Scalpel. There is a good chance the scout has been captured by the planet's gravity and is in orbit around the planet, maybe in the asteroid ring that encircles it. Or maybe it has plunged into the atmosphere and burned up. He can't say for sure. Assuming the first, Mr. Kurigane straps into the pilot's seat and set everyone on a course for Scalpel. 

Two and a half days later, Scalpel is just resolving into a disk a few degrees across when their ship sensors suddenly jump to life. There is a boat just outside the rim of the planet; a 40 ton cutter according to the readings. Mr. Kurigane maintains course straight ahead, while Baron Kundra settles into the gunners seat to prepare for possible combat. The cutter starts changing velocity to curve around in front of the planet, and then hails the pinnace, demanding to know what they are doing. Baron Kundra tries to frighten them, saying they were on a mission from the Crimson Wave. When that doesn't work, he tells the truth; they are looking for a lost scout/courier. At that, the voice on the coms barks back, to say they have located such a craft and are claiming it under admiralty salvage laws. To the two navy officers, that sounds suspicious, given they are the rightful claimants as representatives of the owner. The cutter might be able to claim a salvage fee, but not the full ship. When the Baron points out this fact, he is met with contempt, severed communication, and a sensor reading showing the cutter powering up weapons. 

As everyone jumps into vacc suits, Mr Kurigane depressurizes the cabin and starts accelerating straight toward the planet, trying to get it's bulk between them and the cutter. The cutter meanwhile continues to accelerate around Scalpel. And then both ships opened fire. And to the party's surprise, another laser opens up from somewhere in orbit around the planet; there was no drive signature so it must be an orbital installation of some kind. Baron Kundra scores a pair of hits on the cutters cabin, but the pinnace was outgunned and could not get into the planets' shadow fast enough. A series of hits takes out the pinnace's drive and laser, leaving them drifting along at 15G with no way to stop or maneuver. The cutter changes course and comes around to intercept, as Baron Kundra frantically repairs the laser. But in the end, the party decides capture was a better choice than drifting helpless in space. As the cutter matches course, the party singles surrender. But first, Mr Kurgane crawls out of the pinnace to cling to the hull, out of sight and detection of the cutter.  The cutter directs the three (as they are told) crew to come across to their airlock one by one, all the time covered by a fellow armed with a laser carbine watching them from the cutter's open cargo door. Baron Kundra and Mr Hammill go first and second, and are soon stripped and bound inside the cutter's cabin. At this point, as Mr Fisker is heading across the void, Mr Kurigane sets off a couple of grenades on the pinnace's hull, causing it to lurch towards the cutter and sending a spray of debris and ice fog into space. This causes enough distraction for him to also make his way across, unseen, to cling to the cutter's hull, just as Mr. Fisker cycles into the cutter's airlock ...

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